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Where We’re Scouting: Summer 2022 Travel Intel

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As the world continues to reopen—and in advance of peak summer travels—Indagare’s team has been busy scouting destinations so that we have up-to-date intel to enhance your travels. From beloved urban European favorites such as Paris and Stockholm to the newest safari lodges and the latest from Egypt, Thailand and Argentina, here’s what Indagare staffers are scouting now.

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a getaway to the destinations we’ve been scouting. Our team can provide expert travel advice and assist with custom itinerary planning, restaurant recommendations and more.

Europe

Our team has been able to scout across the continent since it reopened to travelers last summer. In the last few months alone, we’ve spent time in Austria, Italy, France, Malta, Portugal and Spain. Below are some of the team’s highlights.

Paris

Indagare members (and staffers) can never get enough Paris, and multiple staffers have stayed in the City of Light in the last few months. Our founder and CEO Melissa Biggs Bradley devoted an entire newsletter to her most recent visit, sharing all her intel on the best new hotels and shops. The reopened Christian Dior flagship on Avenue Montaigne and its adjacent Galerie Dior, for example, have become a new mecca for fashionistas. We’ve also been updating our restaurant guide with all our top tables—plus vetting local tour guides.

Note: Flying through Paris’s Charles de Gaulle Airport has been a mixed experience for our team and Indagare members. Some have easily made it through immigration, but more have experienced long waits that led to missed connections. We always recommend upgrading to VIP airport services to avoid these issues, but leave up to an hour more than you usually would to avoid disappointment or additional stress. Contact us to learn more.

Italy: Florence, Puglia, the Dolomites & More…

Trip Designer Sam Doran attended DUCO Travel Summit in Florence, for a deep dive into the hospitality trends in Italy. The invitation-only conference brings the country’s top hotels and travel boards together for an intensive week of meet-and-greets. Sam’s main takeaway? “Puglia and the Dolomites seem to be really hot right now, with a lot of new five-star resorts opening up.” Other conference news: Rosa Alpina continues its Aman–ification, J.K. Place Capri has a new pool and Bulgari Rome is set to open in 2023 or 2024.

After the summit, Sam headed south to check-in (and recharge) at Palazzo Fiuggi, a newly reopened medical-based spa retreat an hour southeast of Rome in the town of Fiuggi. “The popes, Medici family, and Renaissance painters like Michelangelo used to come here to drink the spring water. The palazzo reopened in 2021 after extensive renovations and it’s gorgeous. Programs here are highly regimented, including a daily schedule of medical tests and treatments, as well as a curated menu designed by chef Heinz Beck [of Rome’s three-Michelin-starred La Pergola]. The programs run for 7, 10, 14 and 21 days.”

…Plus Piedmont & Portofino

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Portofino. Photo by Kathryn Nathanson, courtesy Indagare
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Piedmont. Photo by Colin Heinrich, courtesy Indagare

 

Director of Global Experience Kathryn Nathanson scouted Piedmont, exploring the region’s top hotels and culinary experiences. “It’s a dream destination for food & wine lovers. And visiting wineries here often involves entering a family’s home. It’s an extremely special, intimate experience.” Hotels she fell in love with ranged from the contemporary five-star Casa di Langa, which opened last year, to the 18th-century Castello di Guarene, which “feels like a jump into the past.” She also checked in at a private hilltop villa in Monforte d’Alba—adjacent to the ancient town’s historic fortified church—that’s perfect for multi-gen family trips and has its own saltwater pool. Kathryn, one of the team’s self-avowed foodies, spent much of her time in the region vetting restaurants, wineries and truffle-hunting experiences.

After Piedmont, she also visited Portofino on the Italian Riviera, checking it at Belmond’s Splendido Mare. “I know this phrase is overused, but it does give you the feeling of true Italian dolce vita,” she says of the just-renovated property. “I can’t speak more highly about the new design. It beautifully combines vintage, Old World pieces—embracing Liguria’s nautical heritage and showcasing Murano glass lamps, fabrics by Loro Piana and Rubelli and iconic vintage furniture by Gio Ponti and Paolo Buffa—with modern amenities.”

Note: The Italy scouting continues with more of the team heading to Sicily, Como, Florence and the Tuscan coast and beyond in advance of summer.

Portugal

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Indagare's Paige Gordon in Portugal. Courtesy Indagare
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Lisbon. Photo by Katherine Morgan, courtesy Indagare
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Indagare's Katherine Morgan in Portugal. Courtesy Indagare

 

Multiple staffers have visited Portugal, spending time in Lisbon, Comporta, the Algarve and elsewhere to see more than 10 hotels both known and new to Indagare. Major updates include seeing the literally-just-opened (as of May 19) Sublime Lisboa and staying at the newly renovated Grand House Hotel in the Algarve (reviews coming soon!). “It is sophisticated but not stuffy,” says Indagare’s Paige Gordon of the Grand House Hotel. “The décor pays homage to the history of the circa 1926 building and is reminiscent of the Roaring 20s.” And in the summer, guests at the Grand House can enjoy the hotel’s “lovely beach club and pool, just a three-minute drive down the road—you can also take one of the hotel’s bikes if you wish. Alternatively, if you prefer a more ‘feet in the sand’ experience, you can head to the local beach nearby, which is a hidden gem in the Algarve and doesn’t ever fill up, even in the peak summer months.”

Meanwhile, Indagare’s Katherine Morgan checked in at Sublime Comporta, which is already at maximum capacity, well before the beaches fill up. “Even though the resort was busy with guests, it felt totally calm since rooms and villas are spread across the property, reachable by car or golf cart,” explains Katherine. “This gives the property its beloved intimate and private feel.”

Scandinavia

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Caroline Hansen in Trondheim, Norway. Courtesy Indagare
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Caroline Hansen spring skiing in Sweden. Courtesy Indagare
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Elise Bronzo (left) and Diana Li in Sweden's Sapmi region. Courtesy Indagare
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Elizabeth Harvey in Stockholm. Courtesy Indagare

 

Four members of the team have recently scouted Norway, Sweden and Finland. Trip Designer Caroline Hansen visited the charming city of Trondheim, Norway, staying at its iconic Hotel Britannia. She also experienced late-spring skiing in Åre, Sweden—which, come summer, becomes a Scandinavian hub for hiking, biking, fishing, kayaking and boating. “Åre—pronounced “Or-eh” is just getting on the map for the American market,” she explains. “It mostly has European (particularly domestic Swedish) visitors. Because of this, the infrastructure around tourism is not super buttoned up…. Service is warm and friendly—just more relaxed.”

Diana Li and Elise Bronzo, Indagare’s VPs of Business Development and Sales, respectively, explored the Sapmi region of Sweden on a deep dive into Scandinavia’s indigenous Sami culture, while Branded Content Manager Elizabeth Harvey checked out the booming design scene in Helsinki. “It’s an often-overlooked city that should be experienced, thanks in large part to its creatives, whose talents are so striking because they are uniquely unrestrained,” she says. And all four Indagare staffers made time for Stockholm, home to some of our favorite stores, restaurants and hotels in the world. The big update: Indagare Index hotel Ett Hem is expanding this summer across its courtyard into a neighboring townhouse, adding 10 rooms.

Related: The Soul of Sápmi and Just Back From: Discovering Scandinavian Style—and Spirit—in Stockholm and Helsinki

Asia

At long last, much of Asia is reopening. Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and Cambodia have all dropped testing requirements for vaccinated travelers. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Vietnam now require only a PCR test before arrival, and Japan will be reopening in stages next month. Industry Partnerships Manager Sarah Levine spent a month remotely from Thailand, scouting some of the leading properties in Bangkok and Chiang Rai in advance of the country’s full-fledged reopening. “Bangkok’s vibrant energy has returned,” she says. “The city just welcomed Asia’s 50 Best Bar Awards ceremony and the city’s mixology scene with speakeasy bars in Chinatown and swanky hotel bars like BKK Social and Stella are hotter than ever. Floating markets, night markets and food markets are welcoming both locals and tourists alike. Live music can be heard from dinner cruise boats on the Chao Praya River.”

Africa

Botswana

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Sasha Feldman in the new pool at DumaTau. Courtesy Indagare
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Photo by T. Cunniffe courtesy Wilderness Safaris

 

Bookings Director Sasha Feldman is just back from two weeks in Botswana, where she scouted six leading safari lodges, including the recently redone DumaTau and Indagare Index properties Zarafa and Mombo. “The rebuild at DumaTau is fabulous,” says Bookings Director Sasha Feldman. “The light green color scheme is inspired by the water lilies found in the lagoon, and the new outdoor dining and pool decks are idyllic spots to while away the hours in between wildlife excursions.”

Egypt

Kathryn Nathanson is just back from Egypt, where she visited the new St. Regis Cairo, Four Seasons Hotel Nile Plaza, and the Historia river yacht. Of course, the big news is the supposed (and years-overdue) opening of the Grand Egyptian Museum later this year. “GEM is likely opening in November. This is also the month of the 150th Anniversary of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, so the government is eager to schedule the GEM opening at the same time.” The event will incorporate multiple celebratory events, including the world premiere of a new opera on King Tut from Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former minister of antiquities. “There is still some availability in November 2022 at hotels in Cairo and on Nile cruises. Early December and over the festive season is a great time to visit.”

Namibia

Diana Li and Elise Bronzo traveled together again in April, this time to Namibia. They self-drove across much of the country’s desert landscape and visited many of the recently renovated lodges and camps that make for a fabulous circuit, plus several boutique hotels in local cities. Compared to other safari destinations, Namibia offers less wildlife but more otherworldly landscapes with a sprinkling of animals. “This is a varsity level ‘safari destination’ for wildlife lovers who are willing to track one herd of desert-adapted elephants all day while seeing a handful of Oryx, an ostrich and maybe some giraffes,” says Elise. “But it’s also so much more. It’s a wilderness destination with authentic indigenous cultures, and safari is a bonus.”

South Africa & Zimbabwe

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Olivia Moore on safari (right) and Ellerman House. Courtesy Indagare
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Indagare team members viewing a black rhino at Singita Pamushana. Photo by Bridget McElroy, courtesy Indagare

 

South Africa is a perfect multi-stop destination for those looking for a mix of adventure along with a relaxing escape,” says Travel Operations Assistant Olivia Moore, who checked-in at six properties during her safari, city and winelands adventure earlier this month. One development we’re excited about: Indagare Index lodge Royal Malewane has taken over the former Thornybush Waterside Lodge 40 minutes away. Come July, the revamped lodge will reopen following extensive renovations from designer (and Royal Portfolio founder) Liz Biden. “Unlike the main Royal Malewane lodge, children of all ages will be welcomed at Waterside, and it will offer amenities such as a sunken trampoline, play area and game room. However, it is very much still located in the bush, so children will not be able to run around freely,” explains Olivia.

And in April, six staffers traveled together on a two-week journey through South Africa and Zimbabwe, scouting multiple properties from the rugged coast to the wildlands of Kruger and Malilangwe. A highlight was learning more about the incredible—and invaluable—rhinoceros conservation work being done at Singita Pamushana, which is one of the best places on the continent to see the critically endangered animals in their natural habitat.

Related: A Rhino Success Story: Singita Pamushana & the Malilangwe Trust

Central & South America

We’ve recently had staffers on the ground in Argentina, Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador and Guatemala, scouting top properties, new experiences and some of the best restaurants. Associate Director of Digital Content Peter Schlesinger was in Buenos Aires to attend Emotions Travel Community (an invitation-only conference, similar to DUCO, but for luxury hoteliers and travel operators from across Latin America). “I met with many of our top partners in Latin America, learning the latest about the best eco-yacht options in the Galápagos, new beach resorts in Brazil and Colombia as well as updates from some of our most beloved Patagonian lodges. Before the conference, I scouted Mendoza, Argentina (where I had studied abroad years before) to see how the pandemic had impacted our favorite wine country estates. The good news: while 2020 was a horrible year for so many reasons, it was actually a fabulous year for grapes in Argentina, leading to some of the region’s most awarded wines ever. Plus, the hotels took the time to renovate. In Buenos Aires, as well, many hotels have been refreshed. Four Seasons Hotel Buenos Aires, for example, has just completed a multi-million-dollar renovation that included its outdoor pool terrace.”

Caribbean

Antigua

In Antigua, Travel Operations Lead Emily Clark visited Jumby Bay Island, which is set to unveil its new Family Suites. There will be six two-bedroom suites with living rooms, full kitchens and private pools, with the option to connect with a junior suite, for a three-bedroom compound. Emily scouted multiple villas, residences and suites, and learned more about the island’s conservation projects, including one to protect endangered hawksbill turtles. Another reason Indagare loves this Oetker Collection property: “Getting to Jumby Bay is so easy—it makes for a great destination for families who need direct flights and convenience.”

Dominican Republic

Indagare Index property Amanera is one of our most-booked Caribbean resorts, and Travel Operations Assistant Eric Hernandez is just back from checking in on it after another busy season of visitors. Like resort destinations around the world, shoulder seasons have become increasingly popular. Luckily for Amanera guests, that doesn’t matter: “There are only 25 casitas on-property and it often feels like you have the whole place to yourself. I was there for two days and only saw two other guests the entire time. Even at full capacity there will never be more than 55 guests staying there at once.”

St. Barth’s

Trip Designer Marley Blandori headed to St. Barth’s, which is always a popular getaway for Indagare members seeking sun, sea, and a bit of French je ne sais quoi. “The island has been booming throughout the pandemic and continues to pop with lots of new restaurants and hotels,” she says. “Car rentals and flights to or from St. Maarten and San Juan are in finite supply, so it’s really important to book those once you get your hotel space figured out. Restaurants should be booked well in advance as well.” Exciting updates on the island include newer properties like Le Barthelemy, Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf, Le Tropical and the renovation at Rosewood Le Guanahani. And for the beachside lunch scene, Gyp Sea is the new hot spot.

Related: St. Barth’s Travel Cheat Sheet: What’s New In 2022

Contact your Indagare Trip Designer or Indagare, if you are not yet a member, to start planning a getaway to the destinations we’ve been scouting. Our team can provide expert travel advice and assist with custom itinerary planning, restaurant recommendations and more.

– Peter Schlesinger on May 19, 2022

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Quotable

Now the that world has reopened the Indagare team is back on the road scouting and hosting (live and virtual events) all over the globe. This is how we keep our travel news up to date and ensure that our members get the most out of their travel time.
~ Melissa Biggs Bradley

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