WHILE MOST CRUISE LINES “sail” the seven seas propelled by engines, Windstar Cruises made its name with three ships that really, truly swept from port to port the old-fashioned way, albeit with up-to-date, computer-controlled sails. Windstar’s first two sailing vessels, the Wind Star and the Wind Spirit, are 148-passenger boutique ships with four 204-foot masts. Windstar’s largest vessel, the 312-passenger Wind Surf, boasts seven triangular, self-furling, computer-operated sails deployed on five masts, each towering 221 feet above teak decks — making it one of the two largest sail cruisers in the world. To be sure, all three of Windstar’s sailing vessels use motors most of the time, but when the sails come out, there’s no far-ranging cruise line with quite so romantic a look and feel.
In 2014 and 2015 Windstar Cruises doubled its fleet, adding three more 212-passenger boutique vessels: the Star Pride, Star Legend and Star Breeze. While these ships lack sails, the sleek vessels deliver the signature Windstar experience of smart, ultra-casual sailing. The Windstar cruise style appeals to couples seeking that intimate, romantic holiday at sea. Dining is bistro-style, casual but upscale. There is no assigned seating or formal nights, no big shows, but there is a plethora of water sports from diving, snorkeling and sea kayaking to waterskiing and, yes, windsurfing. This is a premium cruise line, but the luxuries are understated. The casino is small, the cabins (all outside) have portholes or French balconies, and the fitness facilities are compact compared to those on larger luxury vessels.
Windstar’s small premium ships can call on off-the-beaten-track ports within popular sailing areas. While destinations are geared to adventurers, the itineraries are not those of more rugged exploration cruise lines. In the past Windstar sailed mainly in Europe and the Mediterranean (winter and spring) and in the Caribbean and Central/South America (summer and fall), along with weekly cruising in Tahiti year-round. While the emphasis remains on warm-weather sailing, Windstar now ranges far and wide. Its 15 new itineraries slated for 2017–2018 include cruises in Japan, China, Thailand, the Philippines, South Korea, Borneo and Vietnam. Windstar will also sail through Arabian waters out of Dubai, reaching ports in India and Egypt. Together with these eight new sailings in Asian and Arabian waters, Windstar will add seven new itineraries in the Caribbean, Costa Rica and Panama.
Moreover, for the first time in two decades, Windstar will deploy a ship to Alaska. From May to August in 2018, the Star Legend will conduct eight 11- to 14-day cruises on routes between Vancouver and Seward. The ship is small enough to cruise through Misty Fiords National Monument and Kenai Fjords National Park, and all cruises will transport passengers through the pristine waters of Tracy Arm Fjord. Each sailing includes add-on land excursions that enable passengers to explore Alaska’s vast interior as well.
Whatever the destination, Windstar promises a yacht-like cruising experience with big-ship amenities. Sailings are personalized, fine dining is the rule, and even the bridge is open for passengers wishing to converse with captain and crew while underway.
I imagine that when writer Hans Christian Andersen mused, “Life itself is the most wonderful fairy tale,” he was standing at the edge of Copenhagen’s historic Tivoli Gardens, one of his favorite haunts, enlivened by the swirl of human happiness that surrounded him: children laughing; carousels spinning; games of chance played for prizes; lovers holding hands; hungry people whispering over sweets, hot drinks, beer and towering, open-faced smørrebrød, Denmark’s quintessential sandwich. That fairy tale lives on today at the second-oldest amusement park in the world, a spectacle of folly architecture, bakeries, gardens, rides, restaurants, puppet shows and joy ... and which also happens to be one of the city’s most storied places to convene for business.
Without a doubt, the pandemic changed the role of airports in the travel industry. Hamad International Airport’s role evolved in many ways since the pandemic hit. Now, more than ever, airports are responsible for creating a secure passenger experience. As the gateway to Qatar and the world, the safety and wellbeing of staff and passengers has always been at the core of Hamad International Airport’s strategy.
The restored Park Hyatt Toronto reopened its doors, bringing luxury, sophistication and glamour alongside a nod to the hotel’s Canadian heritage. Alessandro Munge of Studio Munge collaborated on the hotel’s refresh, drawing inspiration from Canada’s seasons and natural landscapes.
I recently dined at Irwin’s in Philadelphia. The restaurant is located on the rooftop of the Bok Building, a former school turned collective of small businesses, non-profits, artist workshops, a bar and restaurant. I previously visited Bok for the bar and yoga classes, and I was excited to experience the restaurant.
Since its prestige for attracting the world elite grew in the 1960s, Greece remains the go-to destination for glittering holidays. Each step of the journey is enrobed in luxury, from culinary traditions with the highest standard of execution and name-brand, high-end shopping to first-rate wellness locales and elite accommodations, like 5-star hotels, private villas and yachts.
The Global Business Travel Association, the world’s largest business travel and meetings trade organization, recently released a statement from GBTA CEO Suzanne Neufang regarding the Biden administration’s recent announcement that the U.S. travel ban will be relaxed in November for vaccinated travelers from 26 Schengen countries, the United Kingdom and Ireland.
Arriving early afternoon in Puerto Rico, we jumped in an Uber and took a short, 15-minute drive from the airport to La Concha. As it was Tuesday, the streets were not too busy and the hotel lobby was calm. During the weekend, the scene likely would have been more bustling. We were greeted by a staff member who requested proof of vaccination and government-issued ID, and were given a wristband to indicate we were fully vaccinated. All guests are required to be vaccinated and wear masks at all times while moving around the hotel. Hand sanitizer stations were placed around the lobby, in elevators and in each common area.
GBTA’s Convention 2021 will bring the business travel industry together for the first time in a long time. Once again, you’ll learn and connect with experts and each other, along with discussions with leading thinkers, entrepreneurs and change makers addressing the issues that matter most.
The Rittenhouse has long stood out as one of Philadelphia’s finest hotels, centrally located in one of the city’s poshest neighborhoods. Needless to say, I knew I was in for an afternoon of luxurious pampering when I hopped in my car and headed down I-95 from my suburban home to the heart of the City of Brotherly Love. As I drove through the seemingly endless roadwork on the highway, I realized just how long it had been since I’d driven this once-familiar route into the city as a result of the pandemic. Of course I was eager for the relaxation and bliss that was in my future, but it was also a welcome feeling to head back into Philadelphia for a moment of normalcy.