With vaccine distribution well underway and travel possibilities opening back up, we know many people are itching to go abroad. While many countries are now welcoming American and Canadian tourists, some still remain closed for tourism longer than we’d like. While we wait for those beloved destinations to reopen, consider one of these alternatives that offer a similar taste and feel!
Instead of the Italian wine regions, why not California wine country?
Above: Belmond Castello di Casole in Tuscany; below: Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley. Photos courtesy of the properties.
Napa and Sonoma are filled with beautiful rolling hillsides and award-winning wineries galore. With plenty of luxurious accommodation options, world class dining, and some of the best wines in the world, it’s a great substitute until you’re once again sipping that Brunello from your Tuscan balcony.
Instead of the British countryside, why not Blackberry Farm?
Above: Farlam Hall Hotel in Brampton, U.K.; below: Blackberry Farm in Walland, TN. Photos courtesy of the properties.
Located in the Smoky Mountain foothills of Tennessee, Blackberry Farm and Blackberry Mountain not only offer guests an incredible culinary experience, but also offer similar activities you might find throughout the English countryside. From fly-fishing to scenic hikes, to farm tours to horseback rides, it’s easy to forget you’re not across the pond!
Instead of Scandinavia, why not Alaska?
Above: Hotel Rangá in Iceland; below: Sheldon Chalet in central Alaska, near Denali. Photos courtesy of the properties.
Although it’s geographically the largest of the US states, Alaska is often forgotten about as a travel destination. But this year is a perfect time to reconsider it, especially if you’ve been wanting to do Scandinavia. Why? Alaska features similar stunning scenery: from its breathtaking snow-capped mountains to untouched glaciers, it’s truly one of nature’s best eye-candy destinations. Alaska also offers incredible wildlife viewing opportunities and plenty of outdoor activities, making it an adventure-lovers paradise. And the best part about visiting in 2021 is that the cruise lines will not yet be operating — so you’ll have less crowds and more nature to take in with just you and your crew.
Another option for those fully vaccinated could be Iceland, which just announced they are opening for tourism for those fully vaccinated or recently recovered from covid – a country that is an especially great spot for Northern Lights viewing!
Instead of St. Tropez, why not St. Barth?
Above: Lily of the Valley in St. Tropez; below: La Sereno in St. Barth. Photos courtesy of the properties.
St. Barth is well known as the French Riviera of the Caribbean, and it’s easy to see why. The island exudes that same “je ne sais quois” lifestyle with its dozens of excellent restaurants, cute bakeries, luxury boutique hotels with top-notch service, and French accents galore — all while set to a backdrop of stunning white sand beaches and turquoise water. Expect this island to be a hot destination for summer 2021.
*Note: At present, tourists are not allowed to enter St. Barth due to France’s current regulations and the island being a French territory. Anticipated reopening of the island for tourism is set for May 2021.
Instead of Andalucía, Spain, why not San Miguel de Allende, Mexico?
Above: the Alcázar of Seville in Spain; below: Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, photo courtesy of Rosewood Hotels
While it might not be known for flamenco dancing and paella, San Miguel de Allende does offer a similar charm as the hill towns of Andalucía. Located in the Central Mexican highlands about an hour drive from the Leon airport, this UNESCO world heritage town is truly an authentic Spanish-colonial gem. Winding through the cobblestone streets, past the colorful colonial-style buildings housing some of the best restaurants in Mexico, local artisan shops, art galleries, and historical museums, it’s easy to see why this artsy town has become a favorite for international visitors and expats who now call it home.
Instead of the Mediterranean, why not charter a private yacht in Antigua or the Bahamas?
Above: the Satori yacht; below: a yacht chartered through The Moorings, photo courtesy of Patrick Bennett.
While cruising the Med by private yacht might not be feasible just yet, both Antigua/Barbuda and the Bahamas are currently open for travel and offer plenty of luxury vessels for chartering. These islands are home to some of the prettiest white sand beaches in the world, many of which you’ll have completely to yourself. Wake up to a sunrise yoga session on deck with your private fitness instructor onboard, then swim onshore for some jerk chicken at a favorite local beach shack. Spend the afternoon playing with some of the water toys onboard (jet skis, paddle boards, snorkel gear and kayaks) or maybe try your luck at fishing and have your chef prepare today’s catch in tonight’s onboard dinner.
Instead of Switzerland, why not Vail or Aspen, Colorado?
Left: Gstaad Palace in Gstaad, Switzerland; right: St. Regis Aspen, photo courtesy of Josh Bishop.
If you’re dreaming of picturesque mountain landscapes and charming Alpine villages, why not avoid the jet lag and consider a similar but closer experience in Colorado? Both Vail and Aspen offer visitors a taste of that Swiss Alp charm with their Alpine-style architecture and plenty of outdoor activity options. As year-round destinations, the winter months see excellent snowfall and world-class skiing, while the summer is the perfect time for hiking and biking the mountain trails. And after a long day outdoors, spend some time relaxing at the spa in one of the many luxury hotels.