The Four Seasons of Travel
Where to go in the Winter
Australia and the South Pacific
Taking a trip “down under” can make you forget that cold, bitter winter weather. Whether you’re diving to catch a glimpse of a whale shark at Exmouth Navy Pier, one of the top ten pier dive sites in the world, or indulging in rich, indigenous culture and cuisine, Australia and the South Pacific check every box on a vacation must list. The unmatched beauty of Australia and the South Pacific provides more of a contrasting atmosphere than most beachy vacation spots. Here, gazing at the mountains while treading through the aquamarine waters of Lake Eyre and experiencing a breathtaking sunset can happen simultaneously.
Enjoy five-star service and rest up after a long day of activities at the secluded Southern Ocean Lodge in the Osprey Pavilion, overlooking white-sanded beaches and panoramic views of the Southern Ocean. Sip on some of the finest wine Australia has to offer at the biennial Tasting Australia, a culinary festival featuring famous wines, beers and cuisine. Journey across coastal flora on the limestone cliffs of Flinders Chase National Park or encounter some of the most diverse animal life, like giant sea turtles, in the ever-popular Galápagos.
4 things to try:
Wine tasting: Enjoy some of the finest wine at Barossa Valley. Tour the vineyard and drink up the delicious samples.
Quality stay: At your retreat for the night at the Qualia hotel on Hamilton Island, look out the window and you’ll see the Great Barrier Reef. Enjoy a top-of-the-line boutique resort featuring yoga, two swimming pools and spectacular concierge services. Once you’ve had a good night’s rest, head out for a day of fun.
Scuba diving: Jump head first into sparkling waters at the Great Barrier Reef and get up close and personal with tropical fish and plant life in Cod Hole, a must-dive spot at the Ribbon Reefs.
Delectable dishes: Celebrate rich, culinary diversity at the Bankstown Bites Food Festival, where true lovers of delicious cuisine can enjoy guided food tours, cooking demonstrations and vendors. Food lovers should also venture around Tasmania island, where oysters, produce and meats are highly valued, not to mention delicious.
THE U.S. EAST COAST
If overnight, international flights and bustling through an airport aren’t for you, staying in the U.S. during the winter months is another great option. Load up the car and make your way from Vermont, down to the Carolinas. Take pit stops at some of the cozy, quaint inns the East Coast has to offer, like The Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia. This historical gem, known to some as a fantasy apart from modern day life, features a culinary oasis, offering delicious concoctions from the Inn’s chef, Patrick O’Connell, overlooking a grand countryside.
Renew your mind, body and spirit after many hours on the road at the Westglow Resort & Spa in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, with an all-inclusive spa package featuring accommodations, three daily gourmet meals and morning natural hikes with scenic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. For a luxurious stay, check in to one of the elegantly-chic suites offered at the Homestead Inn – Thomas Henkelmann. Artifacts and art are intricately woven throughout each suite’s décor, with a mix of modern flare, embracing the past and welcoming the new to offer a comfortable place to rest up.
Enjoy activities along the way, like heading to St. Albans for the Vermont Maple Festival, where visitors are able to harvest their own maple syrup and indulge in a private lobster dinner for two by the water at Warren’s Lobster House in Kittery, Maine, which is known to have the “Seacoast’s Finest Salad Bar.” Hop on a dolphin watching tour aboard the Rudee Flipper in Virginia, narrated by experienced staff, or sail away on a romantic journey from Fort Sumter to the Arthur Ravenel Bridge in South Carolina on a Charleston Harbor Sailing Tour. Anchor in a nearby cove and take a dip in the Charleston Harbor.
4 things to try:
Explore Fearrington Village: Make a pit stop in North Carolina to experience The Fearrington House Inn and savor foods from one of the South’s most celebrated restaurants, savor the treatments from the renowned spa and enjoy a beer garden, offering many delicious brews.
Hit the slopes: For the avid ski junkie, or a beginner anxious to get out on the slopes, Killington Resort in Vermont is the place to go. This ski retreat features 752 skiable acres and more than 140 trails.
Rent a cottage: After an exciting day of skiing, rent a cottage at Twin Farms in Vermont and get away from the cold by cozying up by the fireplace.
Pamper yourself: Retreat to a blanket of woodlands and countryside at The Mayflower Grace Spa in Connecticut, known as one of the finest spas in New England, featuring specialized facials and massages.
Where to go in the Spring
NEW YORK CITY
Bustling city streets, luxurious shopping trips at upscale boutiques in SoHo, and sold out, chart-topping shows on Broadway – no one can deny the allure of the Big Apple. After the frost of winter has melted away, pack your bags for New York. Warmer temperatures accommodate the travel-by-foot lifestyle and lend opportunities to participate in many outdoorsy activities, like taking a trip to Lincoln Center, where you can see an opera or dance under the stars. A walk through Central Park or the High Line is a must, with stunning views and beautiful foliage, as well as making the commute to other parks of the city quicker and more enjoyable.
Of course, there isn’t a lack of great restaurants to try, with most celebrated chefs serving their cuisine in the city, like the creative minds at Blue Ribbon, owned by brothers and chefs Eric and Bruce Bromberg, who have concocted some of the best cuisines receiving a slew of “top” or “best of” awards. For a thrill seeker looking for a night out in the big apple, visit one of the Meatpacking District’s hottest clubs, Cielo, which is just as hard to find as it is to get in to. Once you do, you’ll enjoy the intimate size and impressive sound the club has to offer. Browse the art scene in Chelsea at Petzel Gallery, which continuously carries pieces from contemporary artists who are consistently featured in fairs like Whitney Biennial and Documenta. A vacation in the fast-paced, New York atmosphere will leave you catching your breath even after the trip is over.
4 things to try:
Shop ’til you drop: Avoid the craziness of Fifth Avenue and stroll along Madison Avenue for a quiet, satisfying shopping experience. Be awed by the sights of Elizabeth Street as you shop from boutique to boutique.
Take a bike: Travel from the bottom of Manhattan and make it all the way to New Jersey by biking along the Hudson River Park bike path.
Enjoy your stay: For a great night’s sleep and relaxation, the Greenwich Hotel is the place to be. Pamper yourself at the Japanese Shibui spa, giving you peace of mind by creating a delicate balance between nature and city.
Eat fresh: Treat your taste buds to some of the freshest, safest ingredients at ABC Kitchen, featuring five-star, farm-to-table cuisines and delicious red and white wines.
As the warm climate of spring sets in, the islands of Indonesia such as Komodo or Raja Ampat are just beginning to thrive. The calm, lukewarm waters of the islands make the perfect diving destination at Komodo National Park, where every type of diving is imaginable. Skim the shallow, colorful coral reefs or plunge into the cool depths patrolled by sharks and other large fish.
After a day of diving and swimming, spend a glorious night in Jakarta’s Four Seasons Hotel, which leads to a whole week sailing on a private luxury Phinisi ship through islands, getting an up-close view of manta rays and dolphins. After playing underwater, relax on golden sandy beaches, with a picnic and a chilled glass of Champagne or explore island and animal life, taking a walk through villages or The Western Java Rainforest, located on one of the most active volcano sites. Upon the return to Bali after three nights at sea, relax along the southern coast on a spectacular cliff-top retreat perched high above the Indian Ocean. Relish the tranquility and excitement of the tour of the islands of Indonesia.
4 things to try:
All aboard: Set sail on a three-day cruise in Bali and tour the string of Indonesian islands. Each island offers new things to experience from fishing, swimming and scuba diving.
Fine cuisine: Make a trip to the Bulgari Resort in Bali, to dine at II Ristorante, the restaurant named best hotel restaurant in the world in 2011 by International Food & Beverage Forum. The restaurant pays homage to delicious, authentic Italian cuisine and only opens its doors at night.
For the animal lover: Head to the Komodo Islands to catch a glimpse of Komodo dragons, an almost extinct species. Observe them in their natural habitat and learn ways to help protect them.
Go snorkeling: Take part in a Raja Ampat Indonesian snorkeling expedition. The archipelago contains more marine biodiversity than anywhere else in the world.
Where to go in the Summertime
In the peak of summer, a long weekend in the magical Colombian city of Cartagena exploring its intriguing heritage and eclectic food scene makes the perfect getaway. With the tiny streets and historical architecture, it oozes charm, culture and beauty.
A trip to Cartagena isn’t complete until you get your feet wet first, literally. Take the Playa Blanca shuttle to explore the Rosario Islands, relaxing on Playa Blanca, Cartagena’s most beautiful, untouched beach. In South America’s oldest fishing town, try your hand at the Cartagena International Billfish Tournament or something more adventurous, like signing up for kitesurfing lessons at La Boquilla and then journeying on a six-day Kitesurf Safari, visiting the best spots along the Colombian coast. The perfect summer paradise is just a trip to Cartagena away.
4 things to try:
Dine at Donjuán: Visit this top-notch eatery that promotes a new type of Basque cuisine. The restaurant features culinary delights pleasing to all taste buds of everyone who dines here, including the president of Colombia.
Take a hike: Visit Tayrona National Park and enjoy a four-day hiking adventure where participants can discover a lost, fifth-century stone city, follow the legend of “El Dorado,” and hike to El Pueblito Archaeological Site.
Take dance lessons: Learn to follow the rhythm of Cartagena and sign up for authentic Latin dance classes at Crazy Salsa. The studio teaches Latin dances native to Cartagena by giving you the right feelings and moves for each dance.
Stay at Casa San Agustin: Situated on a bay in the Caribbean Sea, Casa San Agustin is one of the safest destinations in all of South America. Historic charm comes face-to-face with modern-day Colombia, offering up beautiful rooms and views for a traveler to appreciate.
BLACKBERRY FARM, TENNESSEE
The sun rises over the Great Smoky Mountains to reveal Blackberry Farm, the luxury property unexpectedly nestled in Walland, Tennessee. After 15 years, Blackberry Farm exemplifies a unique soul through the service, the food, the rooms and the grounds. After receiving five-star Foothills Cuisine, retreat to The Wellhouse to revive the mind and body through yoga classes, fitness instructors and energy boosting recipes and smoothies from the juice bar.
Try your hand at canoeing or paddleboarding through the calm waters of the creek or take a hike throughout the property’s 9,200 acres. Neighboring Great Smoky Mountains National Park lends many twists and trails to start exploring. With expansion plans being drawn up for the near future, Blackberry Farm will only continue to prove why it’s rated one of the top properties in the world.
4 things to try:
Rent a kayak: Take a trip down the East Tennessee River on a kayak adventure, surrounded by tranquil views of the Great Smoky Mountains.
Fly fish: Known as the home of what may be the best mile of trout water in Tennessee, try fly fishing at Great Smoky Mountains National Park and see what you can reel in.
Visit The Barn: Enjoy a menu crafted from seasonal, farm-fresh products at The Barn, located on-site at the farm. Many chefs from California to New York are inspired by the restaurant’s farm-heavy, yet sophisticated look.
Take a scenic ride: Explore the beautiful scenes of Blackberry Farm and the Great Smoky Mountains on horseback. Guided rides are available for participants at any experience level.
Where to go in the Fall
Traveling to Italy any time of year suits a lover of travel, and with its historical interest and rich culture, mixed with warm, hospitable people, fall is the perfect time to venture over. When the crowds die down in September, the streets become peaceful and the weather is at its most beautiful. Small, quaint towns demand to be discovered, and bustling areas immersed in fashion and art are on display. On top of that, Italians really know how to make a meal.
Dine at Ristorante La Giostra, a beautiful restaurant located in Florence, serving up some of the best appetizers and delicious entrees. Visit the historical city of Rome and take a tour through St. Peter’s Basilica, the epicenter of Roman Catholicism. Gaze upon the breathtaking landscape of Tuscany, and finally venture through Venice’s enchanting canals. For a great night’s rest, book a room at the Aman Canal Grande Venice resort, and arrive by boat and enter the vestibule, which leads to the elegant ballroom. Grab a novel from the library and head out on the roof terrace and take in all of the amazing views Italy has to offer.
4 things to try:
Wine tasting: Sip some of the finest wine in the world at the very popular vineyards in Italy including Bolgheri, Sassicaia, Ornellaia and Antinori.
Ride around the city: Take advantage of the Velo Bike Service, a bike rental company that offers up bikes for trips around the city. Rome, Tuscany and Milan are some of the most commonly traveled.
A room with a view: Borgo Egnazia is the perfect place to retreat after a day of exploring the city. Located in Puglia, the resort is perfectly situated on the Adriatic Sea, and is a destination for exploration of rich culture with many things to do including golf, spas and sightseeing.
Grab a bite: Located in the J.K. Place Roma Hotel, the J.K. Café uses fresh market produce to prepare tasty Italian specialties and snacks. Grab dinner and enjoy delicious signature cocktails.
THE AMERICAN WEST
The fall is a fantastic time to visit the West. With cooler temperatures, the desert becomes more alluring. Scottsdale, Arizona is a prime destination for the luxury properties that are available to guests. Enjoy beautiful, scenic hiking, horseback riding and rock climbing at Pinnacle Peak Park. It’s also a great place for golfers, who can tee off at a few of the best courses in the country, like Raptor at Grayhawk Golf Club. Become one with nature at Indian Canyons Trails in Palm Springs or enjoy shopping at Village Fest, a weekly street fair allowing vendors and shops to set up along the streets.
The new Ritz-Carlton Rancho Mirage in California, which is nestled on a hilltop, delivers the perfect night’s sleep. Soak in the incredible views while sipping morning coffee from your balcony overlooking the mountains. The Parker Palm Springs is another great property to stay at, where you can enjoy great food at Mr. Parker’s and enjoy an afternoon dip in the hotel pool. Finally, make a trip to New Mexico, filled with cultural vibes you won’t be able to get enough of. Stay at the charming Inn of the Five Graces, where you’ll be surrounded by colorful, plush tapestries and classic Mexican architectural details. Spend a day strolling the streets for art or look at the natural caves of Carlsbad Caverns National Park.
4 things to try:
Balloon festival: View a sky full of colored balloons at the world’s premier balloon event, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, occurring the first week of October as 700 balloons are launched from the 365-acre balloon park.
Get the royal treatment: A stay at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess in Arizona is guaranteed to pamper and adhere to all of your commands. From award-winning restaurants to outstanding golf courses to world-class spa treatments, the resort has everything to make you feel like royalty.
Try something new: La Hacienda by Richard Sandoval shares authentic Mexican dishes with the public by cooking up a lighter, ingredient-driven approach to Mexican cuisine. Located at The Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, it’s within walking distance of your hotel room.
Visit a monument: The gleaming sand dunes at White Sands National Monument are breathtaking. Gaze in wonderment at huge, wave-like dunes that have created the largest sand dune field ever.
About Sienna Charles
A bit of background on the luxury travel experts we consulted for this piece
Providing the best of the best in travel recommendations, Sienna Charles delivers a personal journey catered to each traveler’s needs with face-to-face consultation. Personal is a reoccurring theme at the agency, as owners Jaclyn Sienna India and Freddy Charles Reinert concoct vacation itineraries – destinations, eateries and activities for every type of vacation seeker.
India took the luxury and service training she earned at Le Bec-Fin, the iconic five-star Philadelphia restaurant, coupled with a master’s in hospitality from New York University, to share her knowledge of the finer side of travel. Reinert, who also trained at Le Bec-Fin, met India and as they say, the rest is history. Traveling to more than 70 countries together, they founded Sienna Charles based on their shared love of life’s indulgences and appreciation of the little things.
Lavish, scenic, romantic, serene, adventure – whatever you seek, Sienna Charles will find it.
Sienna Charles is located at 323 Worth Ave., Palm Beach. You can reach Sienna Charles at 561.452.6363 or siennacharles.com.