We all have the castaway dream: alone on an island paradise, living freely, at peace, at one with nature and the ones we love. You can experience this in real life at exclusive island destinations across the world, where solitude and pure escapism also encompass indulgent service and five-star luxury.
Remote Caribbean Escapes. A private picnic or invigorating coconut scrub on a deserted stretch of beach; a rainforest hike to a series of breathtaking waterfalls; combing small villages to find handmade crafts; napping in a thatched bure, listening to the rolling ocean, faint chirps of exotic birds and gentle breezes fluttering through palm trees overhead. Whatever you dream of, these tranquil island getaways will truly take you a world away.
PETIT ST. VINCENT
Petit St. Vincent, an idyllic oasis in the Grenadines, is the definition of a hideaway. This tiny, privately owned island resort resides on an islet bordered by colorful coral reefs and powder sugar-soft beaches. Here you’ll enjoy unsurpassed privacy and relish in the complete sense of isolation. Enjoy the views from your private one or two bedroom oceanview or beach front villa. Want service? You need only to hoist a signal flag outside your cottage. Relax and sip a delightful cocktail at the beachside bar or select a bottle of Champagne or wine from the well-stocked wine cellar. Visit the nearby dive center, managed by Jean-Michel Cousteau, where naturalists and marine biologists offer boundless insights into the local marine life.
Set on the private island of Pine Cay, The Meridian Club offers 13 private rooms along a stunning two mile beach. This jewel of the Turks and Caicos is ideal for those in search of the timeless spirit of the old West Indies. A sanctuary for beach lovers who want to get away from it all, the enchanting blend of coral reefs and calm bays creates the ideal conditions to plunge into the inviting waters. Spy vibrant-colored coral and fish on dives and, in-season, witness majestic whales as they pass close to the island. Year-round light breezes also make near-perfect conditions for sailing, windsurfing and parasailing.
For the ultimate in secluded oceanfront living, Cayo Espanto is a private four-acre islet near Ambergris Caye, Belize. Here, everything is quiet, evoking a pervasive sense of calm. With only 7 beachfront villas, this is a true island paradise. Wherever you stand, sit or lie on this property, you’re rewarded with postcard-perfect ocean views. On the west side of the island, you can take in the fiery warm glow of spectacular sunsets, then drift off to a blissful slumber before waking to the warmth of another glorious day.
With an exotic collection of 365 cays and islands to call its own — many of which are uninhabited or underdeveloped — the Exumas are like a smaller collection of islands within the Bahamas. Daily diversions in this idyllic island system includes hiking past plantation ruins, pirate lairs and a massive whale skeleton at Exuma Cays Land and Sea Park; basking in the sun on Tropic of Cancer beach, one of the country’s most gorgeous stretches of sand and sea; exploring nearby uninhabited islands while passing by private island retreats owned by celebrities and the rich & famous; and, for any Instagrammer worth his or her salt, getting your picture taken while swimming with friendly pigs at Big Major’s Cay with a private luxury day trip from Ray and Justin at Exuma Watersports. Exclusive accommodation options range from luxury all-inclusive in a beachfront villa at Sandals Emerald Bay – complete with world class golf & spa; a private villa rental at Fowl Cay Resort – a private island; or escape to your own private island at Musha Cay and the Islands of Copperfield Bay with luxury guest houses and magical escapes.
About a 45-minute ferry ride off the northern tip of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula, Holbox Island hosts the world’s largest known congregation of whale sharks in the summer months and thriving populations of native pink flamingos year-round. Beyond nature, the island — completely void of cars and most other reminders of globalization — flourishes with a small boho-chic downtown, wide swathes of quiet beaches, mom-and-pop-run beachfront bungalows and colorful beach bars. Go for the local favorite lobster pizza, a signature dish at restaurants across the island, and settle in to boutique luxury accommodations like beachfront favorite Casa Las Tortugas.
If it’s Old World charm and romance you’re after, then Nevis, the smaller sibling to nearby St Kitts, is the place. This compact but perfectly formed gem centered by Nevis Peak, a lofty, dormant volcano, covers just 36 square miles and has been luring starry-eyed couples for as long as anyone can remember. Life moves slowly on Nevis, aided and abetted by beguiling boutique resorts with dreamy suites, several of which are centered on old plantation properties amid manicured grounds. When you’re ready to venture away from your resort, romantic activities range from sunset horse rides along the beach to watersports at Oualie Beach, where Nevis Yacht Charters offer private tours. For the ultimate escape on Nevis, the Four Seasons Resort is a small, colonial style secluded beachfront retreat offering golf, spa, sailing school and over the top luxury.
Sailors know the British Virgin Islands as legendary cruising grounds. Here, in places like Virgin Gorda, Peter’s Island and Tortola, you’ll find sheltered marinas with good anchorages and small hotels popular with yachters. Even better, you can sail to these various islands without going outside the reefs into the ocean. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a reason to continue on from Virgin Gorda. The allure comes from the almost primitive feel of this 10-mile long island: There’s little shopping, few restaurants outside of the hotels, and the only major attraction is a snorkeling spot called The Baths, where rock grottos on the shoreline form natural pools. Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it? Ready to go . . . check out the unique mix of small eclectic luxury beach and marina resorts including Little Dix Bay, Scrub Island; for the ultimate in privacy and luxury Richard Branson’s Necker Island retreat; and for a truly unique and personalized escape consider a fully staffed bareboat charter on a 58’ luxury catamaran from The Moorings.
This tiny sun-kissed island-nation is host to an improbable 365 white sand beaches – one for each day of the year. Living history unfolds at Nelsons’ Dockyard National Park, named after former resident Admiral Horatio Nelson. The restored naval dockyard dates to the 17th century and today hosts Antigua Sailing Week, one of the Caribbean’s most anticipated spring events. For the brave at heart, zipline high atop the rainforest canopy. Brag-worthy catches tempt fishermen offshore, and dive outfitters take full advantage of the scores of vibrantly colored tropical fish along the reefs of Dickenson Bay. As an added bonus, Antigua’s V.C. Bird International Airport, a hub for small aircraft, offers multiple daily flights to both St. Barth's and St. Kitts & Nevis, making this the perfect jumping-off point for a true Caribbean adventure. For a true Caribbean getaway look to these luxury tipped exclusive island retreats: all-inclusive luxury in a unique rondoval villa, with private plunge pools and butler service, at Sandals Grande Antigua; Hermitage Bay an authentic Caribbean boutique resort; Carlisle Bay, a haven of seclusion and relaxation; and Jumby Bay Island, a private island resort set 10 minutes off the coast of Antigua.
Ready to find your island paradise? We can help you navigate to islands across the Caribbean including these lesser known private getaways. Contact your travel professional today.
You’ve ambled Amalfi.
You’ve ventured to Venice.
You’ve feasted in Florence.
You’ve roamed through Rome.
You’re not what we’d call a newbie to Italy. You’ve tasted Chianti in Tuscany. You’ve perused Pompeii with a private guide. You’ve gazed at the Blue Grotto off Capri’s coast. With so much Italy under your belt, the usual sights — Michelangelo’s David in Florence or St. Mark’s Square in Venice, — don’t compel you like they once did.
What’s left to savor in Italy for a return traveler? What delicious Italian destinations are hiding just off the beaten track? One of my favorite fall escapes in Italy is Umbria. Visiting Umbria is easy as it's located just 90 minutes from the center of Rome, Umbria feels like you’re stepping back in time. Driving the countryside here, you’ll see medieval hamlets rising from the distance.
As Italy’s only completely landlocked region, Umbria brims with wooded glens and winery-draped hillsides. In the fall, the vineyards shift from green to bright red here — signaling the annual grape harvest. On Umbria’s many farms, you can meet the sheep whose milk makes regional cheeses like pecorino umbro or ricotta salata. And, in the region’s northern swathes, you can taste the famed salami norciani — dried, cured pork salami.
Are you hungry for a third or fourth helping of Italy? Discover Umbria in the fall, relishing a land of real traditions and spectacular scenery.
Below you’ll find 4 Delicious Activities You can only try in Umbria.
CHOCOLATE-TASTING TOUR (PERUGIA)
Sweet lovers from across the globe flock to the hilltop town of Perugia each October for the annual Eurochocolate Festival. But, sugar fiends in-the-know skip the festival’s long lines and crowded streets — visiting the town before or after the cocoa-fueled festivities. Perugia’s stone streets are home to both boutique chocolatiers and the world-famous Perugina chocolate company. With a local guide, travelers can go behind-the-scenes at family-run chocolate shops — observing how cocoa beans are transformed into that most decadent of dolci.
SALAMI & CHEESE MAKING (NORCIA)
Not far from Perugia, you will find the quaint countryside of Norcia. This area is famed throughout Italy and the world for its porky products — including salami, copa, prosciutto, and capocollo. While some are cured using nothing but salt and air, others are seasoned with local wine or pine juniper berries. Italians rarely eat salami on its own, preferring to pair it with a cheese. Food-loving travelers can spend the day farm-hopping in Umbria, enjoying a tasting of pecorino here and a nibble of prosciutto there — enjoyed, naturally, with a glass or two of local wine.
LACK TRUFFLE HUNT & PASTA
Far from the stone streets of Umbria’s towns lies one of the region’s most prized foods — the black truffle. Aided by specially-trained dogs, capable of sniffing out truffles that grow underground, you can hunt this famed fungus in Umbria’s lovely woods. After a brisk walk in the forest, you return to our guide’s rustic farm — with a bounty of truffles in tow. Once at the farm, you’ll make pasta by hand with the truffle hunter’s wife. Your sauce? You guessed it: freshly shaved truffles.
WINE, WINE, WINE
Grapes have been grown in Umbria since Roman times. Driving from town to town here, you’ll pass some of the most scenic wine country in Italy — dotted with hilltop towns and rolling vineyards. While the tannin-rich reds are largely made with Sangiovese grape, the whites from the Orvieto area are fruity-but-dry. Less well known to tourists than Tuscany, Umbria boasts countless family-operated wineries. In fact, you can enjoy tastings in Umbria’s private cellars — hearing about the history of wine production in this region from the vineyard owners themselves!
Which European escape are you craving these days? I’m here to take the stress out of trip-planning, helping you to experience the Europe locals love. Hit the Contact Me and lets get to planning.
4 Top Hidden Gems in Rome
You have arrived! You made it to Rome. Now what do you do? There are so many things to see and do in Rome how do you choose. You don't you plan wisely. This will help you discover the top 4 hidden gems in Rome. Of course it is our own opinion. Read on to discover a little more about each destination in Rome. The you go out and discover them for yourself and let us know what you think.
PIZZA BY THE COLOSSEUM
Whether it’s your first or fourteenth visit to Rome, viewing the Colosseum never ceases to impress. In its hay day, this stone stadium could seat 50,000 spectacles for live battles and gladiator matches. With my help, you can enjoy a private tour inside the Colosseum with skip-the-line tickets. After your immersion in ancient history, you’ll be hungry for a taste of Rome. Nearby, I recommend Li Rioni Pizzeria – hidden on a non-touristy side street just a 5 minutes’ walk from the main ruins. Be sure to order here a wood-fired pizza, tomato-crowned bruschetta and the creamy house tiramisu!
Not far from the famous Spanish Steps, you’ll find a green jewel in the heart of historic Rome – the Villa Borghese Gardens. Built by the noble Borgia family (including a pope!) atop a former vineyard in 1605, the Villa Borghese Gardens were the largest green space built in Rome since ancient times. From this vast and manicured park, you can also access the Villa Borghese gallery – housing Renaissance masterpieces from artists such as Caravaggio and Titian. Bring art history to life here with a private visit alongside an English-speaking guide.
Rome is home to many sacred sites – including St. Peter’s tomb and the Vatican. It also boasts one of Europe’s oldest Jewish communities, which reside principally in the city’s scenic Jewish Quarter. In addition to vaunting kosher-friendly carbonara, this quiet cobblestoned quarter also houses some spectacular ruins – including Teatro Marcello. This theater dates back to 13BC and resembles the Colosseum (minus the crowds). Columns and remains of temples are scattered around this open-air theater. After wandering the Jewish Quarter’s back streets, walk to the nearby Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) for a gelato at Tiberino Gelateria.
Rome’s stunning Trastevere quarter is located on the far side of the Tiber River – easily accessed on foot by crossing one of the city’s scenic bridges. Boasting cobblestone alleyways, Renaissance palaces and ivy-clad buildings, Trastevere bustles with local charm during the day and at night. It’s also home to some of the city’s most authentic Roman ristorante – including Trattoria Da Teo, Pizzeria Ai Marmi and Da Enzo al 29.
Can Do Cancun
If you haven’t visited Cancun and the Riviera Maya in a number of years, you may not recognize it. Miles and miles of some of the softest white sand you’ll ever sink your toes into are filled with upscale resorts, thatched-roof palapas, Bali daybeds and picture-perfect beaches. But how many of Cancun’s numerous activities can travelers enjoy today? Surprisingly, a lot.
In late 2020, Quintana Roo, the Mexican state Cancun is in, upgraded its COVID-19 status. This upgrade opened up a world of options for travelers, as restaurants, historic sites, theme parks, golf courses, nautical activities, shopping malls and spas could now operate at 60% of normal capacity. There are all the safety protocol in effect at the resorts. Mask are worn by all the staff, sanitizer is available as well as plenty of space. Here are just some of the exciting, unforgettable and safe activities that await you in Cancun.
Explore Maya RuinsTake a day trip to the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Be sure to climb the 91 steps of The Castle, El Castillo, for one of the best views in all of Mexico. Tulum, the photogenic ruin perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, is also easily accessible from Cancun.
Dive into Cenotes Take a refreshing dip in one of the Yucatan’s most famous jungle sinkholes — Ik-Kil, a.k.a. the Sacred Blue Cenote. A grand staircase takes you down 85 feet to the surface of this pristine pool, festooned with hanging vines and waterfalls.
See Art UnderwaterFor an unforgettable museum experience, don’t miss the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA). Whether you visit by glass-bottomed boat or scuba dive to the bottom for close-up view of the more than 500 pieces of monumental sculpture, MUSA is absolutely surreal.
Splash, Smile, RepeatCancun and the Riviera Maya are the ideal places to swim with dolphins, take an aqua dive tour, go on a whale shark excursion or simply cruise the calm sea on a beautiful yacht, sailboat, paddleboard or catamaran. However you dive in, the warm Caribbean waters will soothe your aching soul and have you smiling like a child in no time.
Just Relax After the year we’ve all had, maybe the best thing to do in Cancun is simply relax. Lounge on the beach with a perfectly chilled margarita resting in your hand, watching your kids learn how to snorkel. Or transport your mind and body at one of the more than thirty Cancun spa resorts, many of which offer unique treatments that combine ancient Mayan healing rituals with modern stress-reducing techniques.
Thanks for this article go to Johnathan Herman for this great insight on Cancun. Being a part of Travel Leaders I have the opportunity to access some great information. I also had the fortune of being there just last month for my own great insight.
Discover river cruising for Christmas. The air is crisp and the scents of spice and roasted chestnuts are in the air as you walk through the village inspired Christmas scenes. As you glance around you notice Christmas lights fill the streets with a soft warm glow where bobbles, bows, candy and special treasures await. It’s an old world style atmosphere, markets are often at the center of town squares beneath the spires of the local parish church steeples. This is European River Cruising, This is Christmas in Europe.
Laughter and music fills the air as shoppers pass by snuggled in their winter coats. There is just something about Europe’s Christmas Markets that I don’t feel we have quite captured in the United States. Perhaps it’s the community aspect, the gathering together sipping mulled wine as you let go the stress of the day. Perhaps it’s people coming together and catching up as they experience the warmth of Gluhwein and nibble on delectable pastries. Europe’s Christmas Markets are simply Magical.
It’s the start of Holiday Season as during the first weekend of Advent Christmas Markets begin to pop up throughout Europe. This annual tradition has been bringing happiness to locals and visitors alike for centuries. It’s almost like you have been transported back in time to a place of happy memories and the warmth of the season. Christmas carols surround you as you experience your first glance of the sparkle of snowflakes as they gently fall around the merchants selling their wares. Many of these markets can take over blocks and blocks and are filled with everything Christmas.
Your taste buds will be filled with sweet, spice, and nutty flavors. The food of the Christmas markets change with the village or city and sausage rules and changes according to region. Gluhwein which is a mulled style of spice wine also changes with region, hot coco, and even non alcoholic versions are available for those who don’t imbibe. Every market also provides a mug for your journey. You can choose to turn it in after your visit for a deposit refund or take it with you as a souvenir. These make great little keepsakes and or gifts.
The Markets are filled with everything from food to trinkets. Many favorites are the classic wooden Christmas ornaments. Lace and varieties of Christmas ornaments are also available and many of the items in the markets are hand crafted from local artisans.
Bundle up though as winter is starting to set in and you will appreciate the warmth of the heat lamps that surround some of the merchants. If you forget something don’t worry you will find many selections of hats, mittens, scarves, and socks. I recommend a couple of cups of the local Gluhwein to spice up and warm up the day or evening. It will slowly melt away any breath of cold that sweeps the area.
If you are a lover of all things Christmas I can’t recommend these enough. Once you go every year you will have a longing to re experience the magic again and again. Christmas in Europe is a memory maker. Experiences are to me more precious then things so go out and experience and build your memories. Better yet make it a River Cruise where you can see and experience these treasures as you glide along one of Europe’s historic waterways.
If you would like help and more information please reach out as we would love to help you book your own Christmas River Cruise. Just hit the link below.
Teresa is the owner and lead agent at Travel with Grace and Style and has been in the travel industry for over 25 years. She currently loves traveling throughout the world discovering new and old places with her husband Paul.
Top things to do in Rome in 3 days
Walk so in Rome you can walk everywhere! Especially with a great hotel. You are going to walk in Rome and then walk some more and then a little more. No worries though if you have a great hotel to come back to after a long day of walking!
I never understand the oh it's just a place to sleep. NO NO NO it is not just a place to sleep. It is part of your experience in a destination. I am an over 50 woman who likes creature comforts. I have spent my life working and I am now an empty nester. I don't have small children, or college expenses I am on cruise control now. It's NOT just a place to sleep. It's part of my experience in a destination. It's part of the culture, the ambiance, and sets the tone for my travel. Yes as always the hotel matters. So I always choose an amazing hotel like the Inn at the Roman Forum which is walking distance to everything I want to see. I will definitely be walking Rome!
Vatican Museum is one of Rome's iconic stops but I is always crazy busy. It's packed and you and your 1000 closest friends are all viewing the Sistine Chapel ceiling at the same time. All the while being shushed by the Vatican Museum Policia. So why? Best thing here is a private tour and even better is an off hours private tour.
Trevi Fountain is free and you can stroll through Roman streets to get there. Yes, no visit to Rome is complete without tossing your coin into the Trevi Fountain and of course capturing that Instagram moment. BUT WAIT let's take it a little further and capture that moment with a professional photographer. You are in Rome at the Trevi Fountain for goodness sake. It's overflowing with memories you can capture and made 100 percent better by a professional. If you would be so kind to use my link I would definitely appreciate it. GET YOUR ROMAN HOLIDAY PICS
Piazza Narvona the place for people watching. Pick one of the restaurants they are all over priced but the view's are perfecto! This is what you are paying for. Sit down have a Aperol Spritz and enjoy my favorite pass time people watching.
Roman Forum history and Romans what more could you want? You can go with the peasants and do a basic tour but again why? You are in Rome and you are at the Roman Forum this has stood for century after century. Skip the line and go with a professional where you can discover the Roman Forum and walk along the path that countless others have journeyed.
The Tiber River Awe the Tiber the 252 mile long river that has witnessed a 1000 lifetimes of history and intrigue. Take a stroll along the peaceful river that I say it is the bain of the Reformation in that many are still crossing over. :)
St Paul Laterern outside the walls one of the 4 ancient, papal, major basilicas and not to be missed. Step into history and discover the story of the Apostle Paul. Not to be ignored and of course filled with the Papal photographs predicted to determine the end of the world.
Join friends for dinner and visit to a wine cellar next to the Pantheon . We had a chance to visit in February and scheduled this. It was a great evening with friends. We joined a whole table with others to experience great food, and company and of course wine. If you happen to be in Rome and want to do this Book it here. Wine Dinner. Now for a private dinner with a local you will need to contact me and I can arrange an amazing experience for you.
Visit the Pantheon at night is such a beautiful experience. So before your dinner stop in a gaze at the ceiling and imagine Roses falling from the opening. It is truly amazing. If you would like a tour at night again just follow the link Tour at night.
If you would like more information or have question click the contact button below. You can also make sure you are up to date on all my little free tidbits about travel by clicking the button also. Just hit the "I want to Travel with Grace and Style"
We were headed to Europe for April and while we were going to be close we chose to take two river cruises along the Danube River. The first portion was one of a really short duration of 4 days 3 nights. It was on Avalon Waterways. They give the option of doing a cruise tour type vacation but for this we chose only the cruise portion. Meaning we opted not to do the on site stay at the hotel portion. The Danube is Europe’s second largest river and is definitely a river cruise to take if only for the picturesque beauty of the region.