WHERE TO NEXT?

Dear Traveler,

Gliding mere inches above the cresting waves, they follow each other in a curving line. The pelicans are so close to the water it looks precarious. But as the wave crashes they effortlessly move slightly to avoid getting soaked.

Occasionally it seems as though they intentionally dip the very tip of their wing in the water. The carefree beauty they demonstrate makes my heart smile.

This week while in Punta Mita, there were many times I was mesmerized by the flying pelicans. With all the planning that goes into a trip, it’s also wonderful to have such simple, serendipitous moments.

Read below for more details about the beginning of our trip, and check out next week’s newsletter for the highlights from this week. Below you will also see my personal comparison of Punta Mita vs Cabo vs the Riviera Maya (if you have anything to add, let me know).

As the year just ended and a new one has begun, let’s do a recap on 2023 and forward thinking about 2024.

2023 RECAP

You traveled ALL over the world! From Asia to Africa, Northern Europe to the tip of South America. So many cultures explored, active adventures and culinary delights.

Here are some highlights…

Outdoor experiences:

You ran marathons in Madrid, hiked in Switzerland, the Azores, Italy, France, Patagonia and US national parks, skied in Jackson Hole, went horseback riding in the mountains, golfed in Ireland, biked through Italy and Provence, relaxed at destination spas, observed mountain gorillas in Rwanda and went on game drives to see the big 5, luxuriated in the Maldives and Bora Bora, scaled via ferratas, went white water rafting, kayaking and ziplining.

On and under the water:

You enjoyed yachts in the Mediterranean, boats on Lake Como, cruised down the Nile, floated to a tipi dinner under the stars in Wyoming, navigated the glaciers in Alaska, took ferries in Croatia and the Greek Isles, zipped around on rib boats in London and Copenhagen, cruised on the Seine, went scuba diving in Petite St. Vincent, Panama and Zanzibar, snorkeled in Australia, went seabobbing in the Caribbean and fishing in Costa Rica.

History, art and architecture:

You learned from scholars about art in the Louvre, Prado, British Museum, Rijksmuseum, Acropolis Museum and the Van Gogh Museum. You marveled at the locks in Panama. You saw the Last Supper in Milan. You saw ancient sites in Rome, Greece, Egypt and Mexico and you explored Versailles.

Culinary and culture:

You learned cooking techniques all over the world, you had high tea in London, tasted tapas in Spain, visited vineyards and organic farms, had dinners in the homes of chefs, ate street food and at local markets and in Michelin star restaurants, ate sushi in Japan, took a helicopter to Nobu on a Caribbean beach for lunch and ate at top restaurants in Dubai.

You went on photography tours, learned from local artisans, had exclusive access to fashion designers, went shopping with lifestyle guides who took your college kids thrifting and you to the designer boutiques, enjoyed the “see and be seen” crowd in Monaco, took salsa lessons, saw behind the scenes of Rio’s Carnival and your kids did treasure hunts.

Celebrating with family and friends:

You visited your college kids studying abroad, celebrated weddings, anniversaries, honeymoons, birthdays, family gatherings and celebrated with extended family for the new year.

Sports and live music:

You traveled for concerts, watched the F1 race and attended professional soccer tournaments.

And so much more!

You went places and had experiences that I have on my personal bucket list but haven’t done yet! (PS I do get envious, but it also makes me so happy!)

Many of you gave me the most wonderful gifts – notes about how much you loved your trip and appreciated my help in planning your adventures and referrals to your family and friends.

What a year it was!

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2024

This year I’d love to hear more from you!

Where do you want to go? What do you want to experience? Are you curious about a particular place?

Hit the reply button and let me know. Ask me a question, tell me what you are wondering about and I’ll include them as topics in this newsletter.

I write this each week for you (although I love writing it!), and I want to make sure it hits the mark.

What else is on your list for this year… to accomplish? to step out of your comfort zone? to create a new habit? Will it be a fresh start for something new in your life?

Blending travel with a goal, a new habit or a topic you want to learn more about can be an added fun incentive or a reward for your accomplishments…

  • running a marathon in Hawaii
  • signing up for a cooking class in Paris
  • expanding your knowledge of art, architecture or history
  • prepping for hiking the Dolomites
  • getting a scuba certification in the Maldives

Do you identify as a “Planner”? Someone who not only thinks about things in advance but who also takes action to make them happen?

If you aren’t there yet, I have one helpful suggestion. Let this new year be THE year that you become an advance Planner for your family vacations.

Why? 

2 reasons:

Because…

  1. you get exactly what you want, including the ideal room at the best hotels for you at the most reasonable rates, the best guides, coolest experiences and tables at the most coveted restaurants
  2. research shows that having something to look forward to and spending quality time with friends or family is the #1 predictor of happiness!

How do you know when to plan?

Easy answer – sooner than you think. 🙂

Here is a Calendar Countdown to help give you some perspective on how much time there is before important upcoming dates…

❤️ 42 days until Valentine’s Day

🏖️🎿 ___ days until your spring break?

🌷130 days until Mother’s Day

👔 165 days until Father’s Day

☀️ 173 days until the first day of summer

🦃 330 days until Thanksgiving

🎅 357 days until Christmas

🎊 363 days until New Year’s Eve

🎂 ___ days until your spouse’s birthday?

💝 ___ days until your anniversary?

Here’s how I can help…

Steps:

  1. Simply reply to this email with when and where you want to go and I will write you back with the ideal date to put in your calendar to begin planning.
  2. If you’d like me to send you a reminder email or text when that date approaches, just let me know.

You can then consider yourself a “Planner” and you will feel so accomplished knowing you are one step closer to actually taking your family on a bucket list trip.

My hope is that this year you take the vacation you’ve been dreaming of. Instead of wishing you were going somewhere, looking at your friends’ social media, dreaming about Italy, Africa or Japan, this is the year to make it happen!

✅ vacation planned!

For me – my goal in 2024 is to elevate your experiences – both on your trips and working with us to plan them.

The question I ask myself – how can I make this even easier and more fun for you?

The timing is perfect, since I will be mostly not be traveling so that I can watch my son’s final year of high school hockey for the next few months. I have some creative ideas I’ve been tossing around and I look forward to crystalizing them and putting them into action.

I know I will be spending more time planning each trip with you, so inevitably I will be able to take on fewer trips, especially ones that are time sensitive. So again, remember to plan ahead. Whether we are working together or not, I want you to get what you want.

Planning ahead is always a good idea!


This week’s inspirational articles include lots of lists on the best places to go in 2024, the best wildlife cruises, the 50 greatest luxury hotel suites in the world, how to take the whole family skiing without going broke, the best all-inclusive wellness resorts for a post-holiday reset and Vogue’s list of the 41 most anticipated hotel openings of 2024.

Safari inspiration includes sitting still with mountain gorillas and a Botswana safari experience with a female guide.

You’ll also find information on the best books for trips by the editors of Condé Nast, travel hacks from NYT readers and how to maximize your days off with your 2024 vacation time. 

Warmly,

Below:

  • The last week in Punta Mita!
  • Punta Mita vs Riviera Maya vs Cabo
  • This week’s highlight – Mary’s Traditional Mexican Cuisine
  • Hot New Hotel Opening – Broadwick Soho
  • Inspiration + Information

PUNTA MITA 

What a week!

We have been all over this area of Mexico in the last eight days. Two more days to go. Today I’ll share a bit more about our fun adventures so you know what is possible on your next trip. Next week I’ll tell you if we were successful on our fishing trip today and share a few more resorts where I did site visits.

If interested, keep reading below, because I share my personal thoughts on how the three most popular Mexican beach destinations, Punta Mita, the Riviera Maya and Cabo, compare.

My girls did a lot of sunbathing, we took long beach walks, played pickleball, rode bikes and saw so many breathtaking sunsets! The photo above is from my site visit at Susurros del Corazon where we enjoyed dinner at Casa Milpa. A few more pictures of Susurros, starting with the glow of the golden hour…

I love the size of Susurro! With just 59 rooms and 30 villas, it feels intimate and exclusive, but has all of the key amenities and a privileged beach location with that incredible sunset view.

Below is the view from our dinner at Tuna Blanca in Punta Mita.

Exploring Sayulita…

Allison drove us through the jungle and along the coast in an RZR 4×4. Check out a video here and here. PS driving through a muddy river with a hole in the floor of the vehicle will surely get you soaked. Dress accordingly.

Our boat adventure took us to the Marieta Islands and the Hidden Beach. The islands are so beautiful and unique and have blue footed boobies.

New Year’s Eve we watched fire dancers, listened to a DJ and enjoyed fireworks explode over the palm trees.

I loved the beach set up at the Conrad

 

PUNTA MITA VS RIVIERA MAYA VS CABO

If you’ve only been to two, one or none of the above destinations , I think there are some insights below that may help you narrow down your next Mexican vacation destination. They share similarities but also have some big differences. Each of them is worth a visit if you enjoy warm weather and sunshine in the cold northern winters.

What do they have in common?

  • white sand beaches
  • golf
  • non stop flights from many US destinations
  • luxury resorts
  • delicious Mexican food
  • whale watching (seasonal)
  • fishing

A few points of comparison:

The Yucatan has:

  • cenotes and cave exploration
  • lots of luxury resorts (many very recently built)
  • a soon to open new destination spa, SHA Wellness
  • the vibey towns of Tulum and Holbox
  • non stop flights from Boston
  • Mayan ruins
  • sometimes sargassum seaweed that washes up on the beach
  • Xel Ha and other big waterparks
  • the same time zone as the East coast

Cabo has:

  • the MOST luxury resorts to choose from!
  • the fewest resorts with swimmable beaches
  • Flora Farms (one of my favorite restaurants)
  • La Paz nearby where you can swim with the whale sharks
  • incredible sunsets from many places
  • lots of variety of yacht charters
  • time 2 hours behind the East coast

Punta Mita has:

  • many luxury resorts
  • the fun surf/beach town of Sayulita
  • terrain more similar to Costa Rica
  • lots of fun adventure activities
  • lots of surfing
  • beach clubs
  • Hidden Beach
  • spectacular sunsets from most resorts and beaches
  • time 1 hour behind the East coast

It’s just a matter of figuring out which destination and which resort (or villa) is right for you!

MARY’S TRADITIONAL MEXICAN CUISINE

I love margaritas.

I love Mexican food.

And I particularly love tacos.

This week in Punta Mita we have eaten at high end restaurants, corner taco stands and a wide range of places in between. I love the variety!

One of our favorite places was in Sayulita.

Sayulita is a little surf and beach town just north of Punta Mita. We met another family with teenagers on our flight to Mexico who were staying in Sayulita for their 9th time. I already had it on our list to visit, and their raving about how fun, vibrant and safe it was made me more excited to see it in person.

Arriving in Sayulita is a bit overwhelming – the streets are lined with boutiques, street vendors selling tourist trinkets, surf shops and restaurants. The restaurant tables spill out onto the sidewalks and streets. Some have thatched roofs and open walls. Golf carts, ATVs and cars drive down the packed streets. Some drivers of ATVs have their dogs perched on the front. People spontaneously start dancing in the streets, stopping traffic.

The vibe is casual and fun.

I had booked us a table for dinner at The Dock, a place on the beach. But as sometimes happens, we abandoned that plan to instead simply wander about town. (We later passed by it and it is definitely worth trying out)

As we were walking down Avenida Revolución we spotted a little restaurant called Mary’s Traditional Mexican Cuisine, with a line of people waiting down the street. Usually that is a good sign.

We continued to wander and shop. Thanks to a recommendation from my friend Suzi, owner of Woody’s (you may recall I talked about Woody’s in the 2023 Gift Issue), we went to Pacha Mama. Jessie scored a colorful bikini. They have lots of artsy items and clothing.

Afterwards we returned to Mary’s and waited in line, which went remarkably quickly. Allison and I thought the shrimp tacos were the best we have had on this trip! The guacamole was delicious, as was the horchata. Jessie also declared the veggie quesadillas were her favorite of the trip.

If you plan a trip to Punta Mita or Puerto Vallarta the girls and I highly recommend you make a visit to Sayulita. They loved the bustling energy, the laid back vibe, the shopping and the variety of restaurants and bars. Mary’s was one of our favorite places, and there are so many more!

 

🌟 In November, Broadwick Soho opened in London. Designed by renowned designer Martin Brudnizki of Annabel’s and The Beekman, he describes the hotel as “Studio 54 meets your eccentric godmother’s Soho townhouse.”

Why visit Broadwick Soho?

  • You will quickly learn this isn’t an ordinary hotel!  From the elephants above the awning at the entrance to the vibrant patterns and bright colors, to the doormen in top hats and bow ties, you will be delighted by the spaces and experiences.
  • Dine in Sicilian Dear Jackie, with a street level terrace, seasonal dishes and classic aperitivos. The rooftop cocktail bar Flute offers casual dining, an extensive cocktail list and live entertainment on a wraparound terrace overlooking Soho. The Nook is a small bar just for guests staying at the hotel – cozy, fire-lit and perfect for a nightcap. A perfect blend of extravagant and chic.
  • Centrally located in Soho, you are walking distance to favorite bars and restaurants like Rita’s, Nopi and Bar Termini. Wander the neighborhood and browse the bohemian and eclectic shops that Soho is known for.

Of course it comes with the usual perks and VIP treatment when booking your stay through Truvay Travel.

📷 Broadwick Soho

Reach out to plan your trip to

INSPIRATION

Alternative winter experiences, from ice-climbing in Italy to camping in Finland, National Geographic

11 of the best wildlife cruises for 2024 and beyond, National Geographic

I Just Arrived in London. Can I Come to Dinner?, NYT

The 50 Greatest Luxury Hotel Suites in the World, Robb Report

The 9 Best Things to Do and See When Chartering Your Superyacht in Costa Rica, Robb Report

The 8 Most-Read Travel Stories of 2023, NYT

How to Take the Whole Family Skiing Without Going Broke, NYT

Teetering Between Joy and Terror: Extreme Sledding in the Swiss Alps, NYT

Eleuthera Offers a Rugged, Out-Island Experience That Lingers, NYT

Our 10 favorite destinations of 2023, The Washington Post

Where to Go in 2024, Town & Country

The 20 destinations to visit in 2024, The Telegraph

20 Wellness Retreats to Revitalize Mind, Body, and Soul, Town & Country

A Perfect Day in London’s West End, Town & Country

The 41 Most Anticipated Hotel Openings of 2024, Vogue

Wanderlust Editor’s Hot List 2024, Wanderlust

Our Favorite Hotel Openings This Year, Virtuoso

The best all-inclusive wellness resorts for a post-holiday reset, The Points Guy

SAFARIS

Lewis Hamilton on Sitting (Very) Still With Mountain Gorillas, Condé Nast

I Went on a Safari in Botswana With a Female Guide — Here’s Why It Made All the Difference, Travel & Leisure

INFORMATION

The Best Books Our Editors Brought on a Trip This Year, Condé Nast

Scarlet Sweaters and Scotch Tape: Readers Share Their Travel Hacks, NYT

Healthy Snacks for Planes, Trains and Automobiles, NYT

How to get the most days off with your vacation time in 2024, Washington Post

(If you aren’t able to access an NYT or Washington Post article, send me a note and I’ll send it to you in a PDF.)

Do you enjoy these newsletters?

If so, please share with a friend who also might like them and encourage them to sign up.

Thank you!

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