My 2019 TTC TOP 10 List of Journeys of a Lifetime
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
Greetings from Cape Town.
I hope you are having a wonderful and uplifting start to 2019 and feel a sense of renewal. I write this month from the Cape, where our family came together for the wedding of our beloved cousin Michael, marrying for the first time at 57, to the beautiful Jessica, a vet who lives here. We are happy to share a couple of photos – Michael and I just before the wedding ceremony, in front of a South African flag signed by President Mandela, and during the wedding ceremony, between the ocean and mountains of the Twelve Apostles.
My New Year’s vacation with my family in Mexico gave me time to contemplate and to appreciate all the wonderful experiences of 2018 along with my new goals and aspirations for 2019. The holiday season also enabled me to reflect about giving gifts to loved ones that truly have meaning, especially the life-changing gift of travel.
Being in Mexico again reminded us of what a beautiful, relaxing, fun and enjoyable destination it is. We have friends there and enjoyed meeting new people from around the world. It is great value too. I cooked several nights for the family and we also did a big dinner party one night. Visiting the nearby market is very interesting to see what is grown locally, and learning a few new recipes. We also picked up a beautiful new earthenware crockery set for dinner – A complete dinner setting for 22 cost us $140.
Looking back on a year just gone is always therapeutic for me. A wonderful reflection on what we did together as a family and where we went, what I accomplished, coupled with thinking about the goals and lists of things I did not get done. It is fulfilling and inspiring for me to help get focused for the year ahead, both personally and professionally.
One thing I have done at the beginning of each year, for the past several years, is to write down and then share my personal, annual TTC Top 10 travel bucket list. For 2019, I am excited to share my list which is an exceptional selection of our Travel Corporation’s family of brands’ outstanding and immersive journeys across the globe. I hope it will inspire your wanderlust and spark your imagination too.
1. Japan – This hot destination is becoming more popular with Tokyo hosting the 2019 Rugby World Cup, and 2020 Olympics and Special Olympics. I am quite fascinated with Japan’s natural beauty, ancient cultural traditions and ultra-modern metropolises. I would like to explore this destination more in-depth on our Luxury Gold’s Majestic Japan luxury escorted journey with our exclusive VIP experiences including taking the Shinkansen bullet train for a poignant visit to Hiroshima. Onwards to the 1000-year-old former imperial city of Kyoto to visit its stunning temples, Zen gardens and World Heritage Sites monuments.
Japan has such a beautiful, unique aesthetic and cuisine. I have visited there several times, and always been enthralled by its people, its meticulous culture and way of doing things. My wife and I look forward to sharing it with our children for the first time in June, and they are very excited to enjoy the local sushi, fashion, tech and to get to know the Japanese culture and locals. While I have visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Sendai before, I can’t wait to visit Osaka, Hiroshima and the Oirase Gorge up north.
2. France – This top destination offers a captivating array of cultural excursions.
With the launch of Uniworld’s newest luxurious Super Ship – the S.S. Bon Voyage, I look forward to being onboard for a day or two, to say hello to our team and traveling guests on one of the early season sailings, and experiencing the new Uniworld’s Brilliant Bordeaux luxury cruise. This will include our award-winning, exclusive guided “Let’s Go,” “Do as the Locals Do” and “Village Day” programs including artisanal wine tasting. Inspired by the famous gastronomic and wine expertise of France’s southwest region, the S.S. Bon Voyage will reflect this region’s heritage with enhanced culinary experiences onboard.
3. New Mexico – I will be off on a true outdoor adventure with my family to see the wild wolves at the Armendaris and Ladder Ranches with Laura and Rutherford Seydel. This vast terrain of over 500,000 acres is renowned for its diverse wildlife including mountain lions, elk, antelope, etc. and the reestablishment of flourishing ecosystems and species like the Bison. These are conservation ranches established by Ted Turner which are helping to reintroduce and protect endangered species that previously roamed the western plains. I look forward to sharing some highlights once we’ve been there.
4. Patagonia – This spectacular voyage to the end of the earth has been on my bucket list for many years, to photograph its breathtaking glaciers, snow-capped mountains and a wide variety of wildlife including Magellan penguins and condors. I would love to join Adventure World’s Patagonia and Chilean Fjords journey including embarking on an unforgettable cruise and exploring one of the most incredible wilderness regions in the world.
Adventure World Travel is one of TTC’s fantastic companies which is focused offering some of the best, most immersive trips of soft adventure to many varied destinations around the world. The company has offices in Australia and New Zealand and one can learn more at http://www.adventureworld.com.au/. I am also excited to enjoy some of the Patagonian cuisine highlighted by one of my favorite chefs, Francis Mallmann. You can see some of his cooking, his travels and style on his Instagram account – https://www.instagram.com/francismallmann/?hl=en
5. Botswana and the Okavango Delta – This is one of my favorite places in the world. I look forward to visiting the site of our exciting, newest Red Carnation jewel, Xigera Safari Lodge, which is under development and will re-open in June 2020. This magnificent, unique water plain comprises 15,000 acres with amazing wildlife and local ecology.
Our family and business have a sincere, continued commitment to making travel matter by helping protect wildlife and local cultures while promoting and providing respectful, meaningful travel experiences. Combining all three of our TreadRight Foundation’s project pillars, Xigera’s purpose is all about setting an example of how sustainability and luxury travel can coexist.
The property will be overseen by the brilliant, dynamic couple, Mike & Marian Myers, experts on the Delta who have been in and around it for many years. All luxury services delivery and training will be provided by Red Carnation’s amazing team in South Africa, where we have the best hotel in Cape Town (https://www.12apostleshotel.com/) and best in Africa, The Oyster Box. (https://www.oysterboxhotel.com/. The design and project are being driven by my sister Toni, and she is creating something truly unique – with only African artisans and artists being used throughout the project. We can’t wait to showcase it next year, and a preliminary website will launch in April.
6. Australia – Another bucket list destination is discovering the natural wonders, mountain ranges and rugged wilderness of Tasmania with Inspiring Journeys’ Tasmania’s Footsteps and Trails. This adventure offers a range of unique and authentic experiences including Bruny island’s wildlife and the scenic beauty of Freycinet National Park. The journey offers a two-night Aboriginal-owned and operated guided wukalina walk with Indigenous guides through the stunning landscape of the Bay of Fires and Mt. William area. I have visited Tasmania once before, and I very much look forward to returning. My favorite museum to visit of all time, is the Museum of Old and New Art, in Hobart which is a highlight and I very much look forward to returning there. I also look forward to experiencing the new indigenous, immersive experiences offered, such as walking with local Palawa guides, learning about their history and culture.
7. Great Britain – Another perennial favorite destination is iconic Britain. The country is mired in concerns about the future of Brexit, and the Pound continues to soften, so it is a great time to visit if you’re looking for good value for money. London will also be in high spirits with the upcoming Royal Family celebrations including the birth of Prince Harry’s first child this spring.
In Liverpool, Strawberry Field will be opening to the public for the first time ever, which was immortalized in The Beatles’ song ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. I would like to embark on Insight Vacations’ Britain and Ireland Explorer premium escorted journey and enjoy our authentic Insight Experiences including visits to the 5,000 year-old Stonehenge, which I have only driven past before, and the historical towns of Bath and Stratford, two of my favorites.
8. Ireland – It is always a pleasure to make an annual trip in December to our magnificent, uber luxurious Ashford Castle, which is the ultimate relaxation getaway to restore the soul. Pampered and entertained by the exceptional Irish hospitality of our team members who wonderfully represent the land of Céad Míle Fáilte, or a “hundred thousand welcomes”.
Our spa at Ashford Castlewas recently awarded the 2018 ‘Overall Spa of the Year’ by Irish Tatler magazine. I will also make an earlier side visit to Dublin where we are working on an exciting new hotel development for our Red Carnation Luxury Boutique Hotel Collection and I’ll be visiting Belfast for the very first time, when we will host international sales meetings for a number of our brands there this August. (How lucky and grateful am I to visit Ireland at least three times this year!)
9. Canada – I look forward to returning to Canada and to continue to explore its natural wonders and cityscapes. I also look forward to experiencing Trafalgar’s Iconic Rockies and Western Canada adventure which journeys to the most majestic mountain destinations including Whistler, Jasper and Banff. During the journey, I will enjoy an exclusive By My Guest hosted dinner on a family-owned ranch in Kananaskis Valley at the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.
As I have previously written, I am very fortunate to have numerous Canadian friends. I so admire Canadians and their key values – equality, respect, safety, nature and peace. They have true equality amongst men and women there, and have respect for many different cultures, still being very open to immigration, (as seen with them recently being the first country to grant asylum to Saudi teen Rahaf al-Qunun), wanting only safety, nature and peace. I love how super polite they are too.
10. Israel – This unforgettable destination is very special and deeply meaningful for myself and my family. I have spent time in the ancient city of Jerusalem and explored its historical and spiritual sites. I highly recommend to Generation-Z and Millennial travelers to join our Contiki’s Israel and Jordan Uncovered odyssey.
In the “City of Gold”, they will hike to the serene Mount of Olives with stunning views of the city. Our guests will also explore the mountainous region of Galilee including an excursion to the holy city of Nazareth and the Dead Sea. They will end their adventure by enjoying the cosmopolitan sights and cuisine of Tel Aviv, one of the most fun and fascinating cities I have ever visited, sure to be enjoyed by all fun-seeking, open-minded young travelers. I highly recommend this itinerary.
Thank you for taking your precious time to read my 2019 Top Ten list. May this new year bring you numerous opportunities for personal fulfillment, to explore new destinations around our beautiful world.
Wishing you and yours a truly amazing and extraordinary 2019,