2018 Travel: 5 Quiet Escapes Around The World
Slow down and live in the moment in these stunning landscapes. Whether it’s a challenging hike, dip in the pool or leisurely gourmet meal, these destinations inspire you to unwind and surrender to nature.
Coastal hiking trails and an invigorating sea breeze beckon from Oregon’s most rural and scenic corridor. Bandon is famous for cranberries, and you can even help harvest the fruit in the fall at Bandon Farm Stay, an adorable one-room abode with a 1960s vintage trailer bathhouse. The rest of the year, try cranberry cheddar cheese at Face Rock Creamery before dinner at Alloro Wine Bar with a nightcap at Speakeasy 33. A little farther south, Port Orford is even more remote. Try ocean kayaking with South Coast Tours and taste sustainably-caught local seafood at Redfish and The Crazy Norwegian’s Fish & Chips. Spend the night at the cluster of cozy cottages at WildSpring Guest Habitat – their spacious hot tub overlooks the Pacific Ocean, so don’t forget your bathing suit.
This stretch of coastline north of Puerto Vallarta is one of Mexico’s most diverse, with more than a dozen small fishing villages and towns worth exploring. Sayulita is the most popular for tourists, with colorful boutiques and many restaurants. For a quieter alternative, consider San Pancho, the cultural capital of the Riviera Nayarit. Stay at Hotel Cielo Rojo and volunteer at the community center with Entreamigos. Afterward, treat yourself to shots of turmeric ginger coconut water or housemade tequila at Bistro Organico. In Punta de Mita, look for Naef Cafe and its charming garden for arguably the best gelato in Mexico. Nearby Los Xitomates offers an intimate interpretation of modern Mexican fare including huitlacoche stuffed mushrooms and local mahi-mahi over white corn esquites. For an even more remote experience, check into jungle temple paradise at Imanta Resort. Bathe in a pink boulder bathtub overlooking the ocean, have breakfast on the beach each morning and fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves.
Once the center of Maya civilization, Belize is abundant with natural beauty. English is the official language but the modern culture is a melting pot of mestizo, Mayan, Creole and Garifuna. Head to Placencia, a skinny peninsula to the south, for sun, sand and serenity. After a day snorkeling or kayaking in the freshwater lagoons, dine at Rumfish y Vino and try the coffee-rubbed snapper followed by gelato next door at Tutti Frutti Gelateria. Stay in a beachfront villa at Naia Wellness Resort & Spa where all the staff are Belizean and the food is tops. Conch carpaccio and grilled octopus with toasted peanuts are just a couple of the local delicacies. Naia’s tranquil spa utilizes local ingredients like coconut, cacao and cinnamon, and yoga classes (including aerial yoga) are offered most days. Take a tour with Taste Belize to discover the Mayan origins of cacao and make your own stone-ground chocolate followed by a visit to archaeological site Nim Li Punit, a former Mayan royal complex.
Winter can be a little rainy and gray here, but the slower season combined with a favorable exchange rate means even luxury properties like the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver are attainable. Quietly wander among the best contemporary British Columbian artwork at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and don’t miss Emily Carr’s modernist landscapes. Tour Stanley Park on OPUS Hotel‘s complimentary mountain bikes and cruisers for a breath of fresh air. Sip a calming herbal blend or the finest Chinese and Japanese green teas at Silk Road Tea before savoring sustainable sushi on the hidden Japanese garden patio at Minami in Yaletown. For a real indulgence, relax with a glass of bubbly at the new champagne salon at the Botanist.
Bucket List: Chile – Patagonia, Atacama and Chiloé
Fly through Dallas or Miami to Santiago and take your pick between the mountains of Patagonia, the desert and volcanoes in Atacama or the lush archipelago of Chiloé. Wherever you decide to go Tierra Hotels is the top choice for sustainable luxury travel, with super comfortable rooms and stunning architecture. Their all-inclusive rates cover three excellent meals a day (Tierra Chiloé even has a 2.5-acre garden with greenhouse) and an array of exciting excursions. Chiloé offers agritourism, UNESCO World Heritage churches and a taste of Mapuche folklore and culture.
At Tierra Patagonia, the hotel’s lenga wood structure blends brilliantly into the landscape and you wake up to views of Lake Sarmiento before hiking windy cornices through the Torres del Paine National Park spotting condors, pink flamingos, pumas, guanacos and gray foxes. Horseback ride across the sand dunes, hike volcanoes and stargaze at Tierra Atacama, while enjoying surprisingly fresh and delicious seafood in the middle of the desert. All three hotels have excellent spas, and a hot stone massage is just what you need after a long flight.
Amber Gibson covers travel, food and wine for Forbes. Her writing, commentary and photographs have also appeared in print, online, and on TV and radio for outlets including National Public Radio, WTTW, Wine Folly, Saveur, Four Seasons Magazine, Departures, Rhapsody, Hemispheres, American Way, Private Air, Plate, Tasting Table and Serious Eats. Follow her adventures on Instagram and Twitter.