Been wondering what makes St. Martin special compared to the other islands in the area? The truth is – there are a lot of things that make it stand out. There’s a good reason that St. Martin is one of the most popular locations to visit in the Caribbean. Maybe you already know about the excellent beaches, but that only touches the basics of why this location is worth exploring. With thousands of people visiting year after year, it’s worth knowing what you can expect.

The Beaches Are Fantastic

We just mentioned that the beaches aren’t everything St. Martin has going for it, but it is one of the reasons many choose to visit. The island might be small but it has a huge number of places to swim, sunbathe, and surf. You can choose from remote locations without another person anywhere to be seen or beaches near resorts that are filled with people. Not sure where to start? Consider the beaches below:

  • Anse Marcel Beach – Both sheltered and well-developed, this beach is on the border of a protected bay. It has full amenities and peaceful water so it is a great choice for families with children.
  • Happy Bay Beach – A stunningly pristine beach with ideal conditions. The beach requires a hike to reach this private paradise but it is well worth it.
  • Baie Longue – Anchored by Belmond La Samanna, Baie Longue offers a tranquil setting with near perfect conditions and a lack of crowds. Sunsets from this vantage point are stunning.
  • Mullet Bay – Both locals and tourists love this beach for its exceptional views and fantastic sand. It also has north winds offshore for those who want to do a bit of surfing.
  • Orient Bay – This is a large and popular beach where you can find all the amenities you want, whether that’s shopping stalls, hotels, or restaurants.

It Offers Many Amazing Festivals

Depending on when you visit St. Martin, you may be able to take part in one of their famous festivals. Whether you’re on the island for the SXM Festival or Carnival, you can expect a lively crowd and colorful decorations across the island. The largest celebration is Carnival with a Grand Parade that goes around Phillipsburg. Expect to see bands playing hits, tons of tasty food and drinks, and people in breathtaking costumes.

The SXM Festival is a new dance festival that brings in over 2,000 guests and up to 75 DJs. While the festival is happening, the daytime beach parties turn into all-night affairs with outstanding visuals, stages with tropical decorations, and top of the line sound systems.

Wildlife and Landscapes Found Nowhere Else

The clear blue water at St. Martin is great, but it’s not the only view to check out while in the area. Make sure you visit a beach at sunset at least once to watch the sun go down. When you aren’t doing that, you can explore the landscape and enjoy the animals and plants that the volcanic landscape brings around. Enjoy lazy palms, tall coconut trees, and twisty sea grapes where tons of tropical birds make their homes.

On top of that, St. Martin also has great weather all year round. The busiest season is from January through March when temperatures can reach around 85 to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The wet season for the island is from May through October but there are still sunny days to be had. Regardless of the season, enjoy checking out the sea turtles and hummingbirds.

The Potential for Extreme Shopping

Another thing that sets St. Martin apart from other islands is the huge number of shopping options it offers. The island itself is fully duty-free, which means there’s no need to stress about customs fees. This makes the island an excellent place to shop for luxury items at a reasonable price. St. Martin has shops offering everything from electronics and fashion to cosmetics, beverages, and food.

Looking to get some new jewelry while on your vacation? Make sure you stop at Little Switzerland, which is the best place to get outstanding rings, necklaces, and more. You can find huge names for sale like Breitling and Omega. Whether you want to find a diamond necklace, an expensive watch, or a gem-studded bracelet, it’s all here for you.

A Huge Selection of Watersports

For those who prefer to get their feet wet with something more than wading into the ocean, St. Martin makes it easy. There are all sorts of exciting things to do and most of them are easy to access. Kite surfing in Le Galleon and Orient is a must try.  You can rent a jet ski to fly over the water or get a paddleboard and take in all the sights while you relax away from the crowded beaches. No matter how crazy you want to get, there’s a rental shop near the beaches that will make your dream come true. There’s something for everyone, regardless of age or experience level.

Want to try something that is truly an adventure? Think about flyboarding. This is essentially a hoverboard that works on the water. While attached to the craft, you wear special boots that send you high up into the air. The best part is that it’s easy to learn and a whole lot of fun to create a memorable vacation. Get your adrenaline pumping and try something new while you explore St. Martin.

Perfect Villas for Nighttime Hours

Once you spend the day on the water, shopping, or taking in the wildlife, kick back at some of the finest villas in the Caribbean.  St Martin villas offer the ideal getaway with a private pool, amazing views, exceptional privacy and pure indulgence.  St Martin villas offer some of the best luxury values in the world.

The lionshare of luxury villas are located in Terres Basses. A gated enclave with lot size minimums at 2.5 acres. Some of the most popular St Martin villa rentals are:

  • Amandara– Luxury 5 bedroom Cliffside villa
  • Bamboo– An elegant and suave 2 bedroom villa perfect for St Martin honeymoons
  • Ambiance– A family friendly 4 bedroom villa with an incredible pool and lawn for the kids to enjoy
  • Le Reve– The royal jewel of St Martin villas. A decadent beachfront retreat on Baie Rouge beach

The great thing about St. Martin is that there are tons of villas for rent with luxurious amenities to truly elevate your vacation to the island. Villas are highly customizable vacation experiences. You can hire a private chef or schedule daily massages and spa services.  Make sure you book one when you start making your plans to enjoy everything St. Martin has to offer!

Traveling is a delight, and yet during the current pandemic, environmental experts point out how travel bans have benefited so many destinations. For example, lots of video clips have surfaced and shown such sights as jellyfish and dolphins in the canals of Venice. The waters there have cleared because there is no traffic, and it makes many wonder about the impact on the environment when travel bans are lifted.

Can you protect the environment when you begin to travel again? The experts say you most definitely can, but it will take some effort.

Mindful Travel

While it is certain that there will be a veritable flood of cheap travel deals, even low-cost and luxurious options, you need to be mindful of the impact that a flood of tourism is likely to have on the environment. As one expert said, with “travel more accessible than ever before, mass tourism is creating problems for the world’s most popular travel destinations like Iceland and Thailand. So much so that some attractions in these countries have had to close down because of the negative impact tourists have had on the environment.”

That is just two of countless areas that are likely to feel the impact once bans have lifted. So, don’t book a handful of cheap flights or low-cost holidays. Instead, take some time now to mindfully plan a trip that uses fewer flights and requires very little ground transportation.

Just those two steps would have an immense effect if all travelers decided to do so. If you doubt that, consider the statistics. The aviation industry produces around “2% of human-induced carbon dioxide emissions and accounting for 859 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions.”

You can simply travel less or always take direct flights whenever available. You can also donate funds that offset your carbon footprint. You might also donate to projects that look to lessen carbon emissions or bring renewable energy to the communities or regions you visit.

Let’s start with that first option – finding a way to fly and yet also reduce your carbon footprint.

Sustainable Airlines?

Rather than always looking for a low-cost fare, just opt to go the eco-friendliest route and fly direct. Do some research to see if you have any sustainable airlines around. These are airlines that are investing in the newest technologies such as biofuel use or electric planes (in the future). Look to see if any use methods that increase their efficiency. This may mean by carrying more passengers on any flight, eliminating weight, and using tailwinds or relying heavily on air traffic controls.

Then look for the carbon offsets. What are they? As another travel expert explained, one of the ways “air travelers can reduce the impact they have on the environment is through carbon offsetting their flights. Carbon offsets are voluntary schemes where people can pay to ‘offset’ or make up for the emissions that their flights produce.”

These sound great, but many wish they were a bit more straightforward. Some are for-profit, which makes them less appealing. Some worry because there are no standard certifications for such companies. The way it works is simple: the airplane you use to travel produces a lot of carbon dioxide. It and its fellow planes put out tons of it during every flight.

A carbon offset is simply a project that aims to reduce carbon dioxide levels by the same amount. So, your flight pours out two tons of carbon dioxide, and you invest in a carbon offset project that has the goal of removing two tons of carbon dioxide from the environment. This is done in a few ways:

  1. Forestry projects that plant scores of trees to pull the carbon dioxide from the air.
  2. Energy projects that “reduce the amount of fossil fuels used by investing in energy-efficient products or renewable technology. Often these projects have social and sustainability benefits for developing countries too.

Which should you choose? The smartest and easiest way to make the choice is simply to work with an airline that offers it. You will pay an added fee on top of your costs for the flight. Around 30% of all airlines offer a carbon offset scheme of some kind or another, and you will want to determine if your airline’s option is as valid and measurable as you would like.

Some of the top programs come from Qantas, Air Canada, Brussels Airlines, KLM, Austrian Airlines, and United Airlines. How can you tell if your airline is using a good carbon offset? Look at how the offsets are calculated (if it is mileage alone, it may not be as valid as you’d like). What are the projects funded with the monies charged? What percentage goes to the project? Is it a Gold Standard or Carbon Standard verified plan?

Gold Standard is also a good way to find a carbon offset if your airline is not currently extending offers. This is a Swiss nonprofit “founded by a group of environmental groups and NGOs including the WWF. Their projects are based in developing countries and combine reducing CO2 with sustainable development.”

Beyond Offsets

There is a noted environmental impact that comes from travel, and it goes beyond carbon dioxide emissions. There are more than 1.5 billion international tourist trips per year. Many emphasize famous cities, but many also head into the natural settings outside of urban centers.

Does this mean you should limit your travel? No, but it is best to travel mindfully. No last-minute, super deals that pour tons of carbon dioxide into the air for the round trip flight. No wasteful driving or mindless touring through natural spaces. And always look to support any local agencies that ask for voluntary entry fees. This last point is crucial. Whenever you visit a location, be sure you do more than support the accommodation provider, restaurants, and shops. Be sure you try to offset the environmental cost of your visit by making donations to organizations that support local initiatives to preserve the landscape. You want to visit beautiful spots, so be sure you do what you can to guarantee others will want to pay a visit themselves in the future.

Many of us enjoy an annual “staycation,” that sees us remaining at home and visiting lots of local restaurants and sites we might not normally enjoy. The urban resident might head to a handful of museums, a new neighborhood to find the different shops or attractions, or an array of new restaurants. The rural resident may head to natural sites, land preserves, beaches, and so on. This year, with the novel coronavirus outbreak creating a global pandemic, most vacations are likely to be staycations.

However, a recent article from Bloomberg pointed out that a lot of high-end travelers are making plans for the year’s end and (as the article noted) “yachts and private villas are in; skiing is out.”

What that subtitle says is that staycations, upgraded staycations, are now the trending way to get out and explore the world a bit, without the risks.

The Allure of Private Villa Rentals

For many decades the allure of a private villa has been undeniable. You have a private, estate-like setting from which to familiarize yourself with a popular region. The Caribbean, Tuscany, Provence, the Alps, tropical spots like Fiji or Hawaii, and many other beautiful destinations are also home to amazing luxury rentals.

Booking a private villa in a coveted locale means you get immense privacy and the ultimate form of social distancing. You enjoy a full gourmet kitchen, lots of indoor and alfresco living spaces, services as you deem necessary (or none at all), and direct access to the setting. Whether it is a beachfront villa in the Caribbean or a mountaintop retreat typically reserved for skiing holidays, the private villas are the ultimate in a home away from home and upgraded staycation.

Easily Avoid Crowds

While that same article from Bloomberg had this to say of the coming months: it is “still unclear when shuttered resorts, airports, and borders will reopen. But [jetsetters] are betting that by November or December, travel will be somewhat normal…” it also notes that savvy travelers understand that opting for a luxury accommodation, such as the private villa is a way to ensure optimal safety once they arrive at their destination.

Not only is it the most appealing way to remain isolated, but you easily avoid crowds. As a simple example, let’s say you book a villa in Turks and Caicos or on Barbados. You can find many with a private waterfront along the gorgeous sands. You may find that there are docks for boats, large gardens and grounds, lots of terraces around the pool, and an interior designed for luxury and style.

Inside a private villa, you will find everything from home cinemas and fitness centers to gourmet kitchens and immense bedroom suites that are retreats of their own.

If you have to be vigilant about exposure to groups and crowds, it is tough to beat the appeal of a large and private home of this kind – one that allows you to explore the area, but from a safe social distance.

The Hot Spots

Where are these savvy travelers booking their staycation upgrades? The range of locations is not at all surprising when you consider the time of year that travelers are preparing to visit. They include:

  • The Caribbean – While the smaller and more private islands like the Grenadines are gaining attention, many of the larger waterfront villas in St Barts, Turks & Caicos, St Martin, and Barbados are also drawing bookings.
  • Los Cabos – This Mexican luxury destination has been gaining in popularity for many years and it is anticipated to be a choice location for lots of end of the year, luxury staycations thanks to its great array of private villas.

Note that any of the locations above are going to emphasize the rural setting over a potentially crowded urban one. Additionally, resorts and cruise bookings are likely to continue to decline until the coronavirus is more under control. As the Bloomberg article also said, whether travelers are “staying in the U.S. or venturing overseas, one thing is clear: Travelers are not booking urban breaks…[opting for] spread out, wide-open spaces, privacy, and avoiding anywhere with density unless it’s brief.”

This is one reason behind a surge of interest in visiting remote spots like Iceland can be seen, but also areas like “Cabo, Hawaii, the Caribbean, and the mountains—places that are removed but not too remote for American guests. The Maldives has rarely been more in demand,” say the experts.

Some resorts are allowing “buyouts,” in which a single guest or family group books an entire destination. This is the ultimate in luxurious staycations and is not to be overlooked. For example, Necker Island may not be a resort but is the private retreat belonging to Richard Branson and which may become entirely bookable before the year’s end.

While this approach is bound to bring plenty of social distance and privacy, it is also a way for extended families to spend time together during the holidays. Many families have been forced to remain apart during this period and a private villa (once social distancing guidelines are eased) is a way to all get together for a joyous gathering.

Redo 2020

Because the travel experts expect things to ease up only towards the end of 2020, it is a good idea to think of a private villa (and the many destinations where they are found) as a way to do a quick 2020 do-over. The missed graduations, birthdays, annual celebrations, and other major events get a second chance when you can enjoy them in a private retreat. A luxury villa in a gorgeous setting may be just the upgrade that everyone’s first holiday deserves once the pandemic and its travel restrictions and social distancing rules come to an end. Start to explore your options now, however, because experts say they are booking quite quickly!

For many years now, there has been a growing number of people that work remotely, known as “digital nomads.” Essentially, they are travel-savvy folks who want to see the world without worrying about income. They do so by finding key destinations that allow them to access high-speed internet, and from these locations, they will do everything from writing and editorial work to IT consulting and much more.

They use the rapid-fire expansion of technology to support their goal of living for a long time in one appealing destination after another.

Now, you can enjoy many of the same benefits when you choose to work remotely from your preferred paradise. After all, with the global pandemic forcing millions to begin working at home, it will soon be commonplace for many of them to remain in that scenario. Companies are likely to transition a lot of their 9-5 employees to remote workers as a cost-cutting and morale-boosting initiative.

Whether you fall into that category, or you simply wish to shift how you enjoy your work at home or freelance situation, you have some remarkable options.

They Work in Paradise, Too

As a simple illustration of this point, consider traveling to a coveted and tropical paradise like Barbados. It has some of the finest beaches in the entire Caribbean region, and it is populated with a large number of charming and even opulent private villas. While these villas are endowed with all of the amenities one might ever desire for the ultimate getaway (private beach, gourmet kitchen, large grounds and gardens, gated entry, home cinema, private gym, and so on), they are also ideal for remote work.

This is because many luxury rentals will feature a separate home office that includes everything from a printer and fax to phone systems ideal for conference calls. While the use of Zoom and other virtual conferencing has skyrocketed, most remote workers benefit from a classic office setup, too. With private villas, you can have the best of all worlds and enjoy the traditional desk and office machine layout, but also savor the joys of reliable, lightning-fast internet connectivity.

Here’s the best thing about working remotely in paradise – you don’t have to sit inside in the office to do it. Instead, you might head to a veranda for a few hours of work during a warm and sunny afternoon. You might lounge by (or even floating in) the pool as you type away or engage in a call. No matter what you envision when considering remote work in paradise, it is possible in a villa.

What is Needed?

When you work remotely, it would be great if all you required was a good laptop and cellphone. However, there is more to it. The experts say that “working remotely is no longer the future of work. It’s a present situation many of us are facing right now.”

They recommend that anyone who plans to work remotely (whether in paradise or their private home) has tools that include:

  • Cloud-based collaboration tool (think Slack, Workplace by Facebook, or Trello)
  • Video conferencing tools like Zoom and (try to use redundant options in case of connectivity issues)
  • Methods for remote collaboration on articles, presentations, spreadsheets, and so on. This can include Google or Dropbox among scores of other options (and be sure you have online versions of Microsoft Office programs)
  • Calendar for ensuring you remain on track (many go with Google’s synced calendar)
  • Cybersecurity such as a VPN option
  • Task management software to track your time (remember, if you are in a tropical destination you may become distracted!)
  • Laptop, cellphone, USB powered hard drive, battery backup, redundant power, and charging cords
  • High-speed Internet (wireless is preferred)

With these basics in place (as well as a home office in your private villa), you should be able to easily work remotely from anywhere. Most luxury villas easily accommodate such requirements and may have office space designed to facilitate your remote work.

The Daily Grind

What can you do if you have a family that needs to be kept busy or you want your daily needs (housekeeping, meal preparation, and so on) addressed? That too is part of any stay in a luxury villa. You can choose to work remotely with a private chef or cook who makes and serves your meals. You may have a car and driver who shows you the sights and takes you to the best shops or destinations. You can have housekeeping crews tackle the laundry and general cleaning, and all while you work away at whatever professional tasks are required.

The Current Pandemic

The global pandemic that has forced so many of us to alter our daily lives to such a great (and perhaps permanent) degree has also created a lot of opportunities to think outside of the proverbial box. Though travel bans remain in place for many corners of the world, they will eventually lift. This means that millions will be heading out into the world to make up for the lost time. Travel is likely to be an area that sees a surge of interest.

However, many will remain concerned about the risks of infection, even though they desire some time in a beautiful destination. The private villa is the way to ensure that you can travel in the utmost safety and health. This is because any private will has more than just great conditions for working remotely. It will offer:

  • The ultimate in cleanliness as teams of expert housekeepers scour the villas between rentals and help keep conditions well maintained during a visit
  • The option to remain socially distant by offering a private retreat with pool, beachfront, and a long list of amenities that make for a resort-like experience
  • Premium office facilities and services that guarantee you don’t run into any technical glitches and can manage even complex work from anywhere
  • Services that can include drivers, chefs, and housekeeping teams that uphold your need for space while also supplying safe solutions

So, can you start to work remotely from a tropical paradise or other blissful destination? Absolutely, and if you are hoping to become a digital nomad yourself, you will want to explore the options now since so many of us are officially remote workers for the coming months or years.

How to Ease Your Concerns by Booking a Private Villa

Although it has started to feel as if the current pandemic will never end, the simple truth is that all viruses have a lifecycle and will eventually fade away. We will come to understand how the virus operates and figure out the best ways to suppress it and allow the public to enjoy good health at all times. This takes a bit of time, though, and while you wait for travel bans to be lifted, it is a good idea to consider your best options.

One of the options seems to be rising to the forefront even now: private villas.

The Benefits of Private Villas

A private villa is not just a bungalow in a resort, though this is one way in which you find them. They are often opulent, private homes with truly coveted locations in some of the world’s finest destinations. The white and flawless sands of a beach on Barbados or in the Maldives, for example, may be home to a luxury villa. A gorgeous jungle in Costa Rica or a vineyard in Tuscany may also be home to a villa.

So, the setting of most luxury rentals is part of the appeal and one of the key benefits. This is particularly true for anyone eager to travel post-COVID 19 but who might also be worried about their health and safety. After all, a villa will guarantee cleanliness and allow the ultimate in social distancing, while keeping a traveler close to the resources needed for a great getaway.

Just consider these major benefits of booking a private villa:

  • Private access to isolated beaches and landscapes – You don’t have to expose yourself to the crowds likely to gather at the beaches once the social distancing guidelines end. With private villas, you often have your own, private beachfront, as well as a pool, gardens and grounds, and more. Regardless of the major natural attractions of a destination, most private villas have their own, private option.
  • Ultimate cleanliness – Imagine having your home cleaned from top to bottom by a team of thoroughly trained experts. Imagine they are more familiar with the different corners and spaces than you. Now, imagine that they are aware of the challenges of coronavirus and just how to ensure the ultimate in sanitizing. This is the sort of cleaning done in private villas, and it ensures that everyone who visits enjoys far more than tidy spaces and clean surfaces.
  • Work and play are possible – Another of the easily overlooked benefits of private villas is that they ensure you can social distance in total ease and comfort, and you can also opt to work remotely from such a coveted setting. This is because the best private villas feature high-speed Internet and may even have home offices with basic gear (fax, copier, printer, etc.) in place to support remote work, but in a heavenly setting.
  • Private amenities – A private villa features amenities that are open to you and your group alone. That means the alfresco living spaces, the swimming pool, the fitness center, the gourmet kitchen, the gardens…they are yours alone and you are in full control of your surroundings.
  • Services, but only as needed or desired – While you may be hoping to uphold as much social distancing as possible (even when travel bans and social distancing guidelines end), you might also want to enjoy a few luxurious services during your first holiday post-quarantine. The best luxury villas will offer services from only the most carefully screened and well-trained experts available. This can include such savvy choices as having a private chef prepare your meals. This allows you to skip the risks of restaurant dining and still enjoy the best dishes native to the area or using the region’s best ingredients. The same goes for options in spa-like services. You may want a massage, pedicure, or other health and beauty treatment, but the idea of heading to a regular spa may not appeal. Why not book the services in the villa? Many have BOTH the spa room and facilities on the premises as well as teams of experts who can provide safe treatments in them.
  • Safety and security – A private home in a luxurious neighborhood is also likely to have some of the highest security options imaginable. From gated communities with private security teams to house managers who ensure the utmost in safety, a private villa is difficult to match in terms of its occupants’ comfort and security. There is also the other side of safety and security and that is that the private villa is likely to be one of the cleanest, most private, and comfortable ways to uphold social distancing (even if it is eased).

Travel in the Post-COVID 19 Era

This is one of the most challenging times we have faced around the globe. Even though most of us are told to simply stay home, use gloves and masks accordingly, and practice social distancing, it is a very trying period. Most of us are eager to begin living life “normally” again, but that will prove a bit difficult.

Many of us will worry about the virus even after the proverbial “all clear” is issued. We may struggle to be around crowds and to do a lot of the things we once thought of as safe and secure (like a holiday in a resort area or populated destination). A major benefit of the private villa is that it brings to you all of the amenities, comforts, and luxuries of full-blown travel, but houses it more safely and securely. You can head to the beach – your private beach. You can enjoy a drive around to scenic spots and then savor a gourmet meal, only it can be prepared safely by your chef. You can take swim after swim in the pool – your private pool, and spend hours in the many upscale lounges around the home.

Don’t let worries during the post-coronavirus period prevent you from traveling. If you are looking for a way to re-enter the world of travel, the private villa is difficult to match.

No one can travel easily these days, and that is particularly true if you are looking for some leisure travel. Even the most frequent travelers are not making any sorts of plans except for the year’s end. They are looking at places where there are few crowds, lots of sunlight, and plenty of private villas from which to choose. In other words, they are looking at the tropics, and particularly the Caribbean region.

For many decades the Caribbean has been a spot for retreating from the winter weather or enjoying the tropical conditions. Now, with the global pandemic, it may also be one of the safest spots to visit once the social distancing and quarantine restrictions are lifted.

Why? There are three reasons that experts suggest the Caribbean as the ideal year’s end or winter sanctuary:

  1. The COVID 19 virus (the coronavirus) dies quickly when exposed to UV or ultraviolet light.
  2. Respiratory virus transmissibility is decreased in hot and humid conditions. For instance, many are unaware that the influenza virus is durable enough to exist outside of a host for almost an entire day. However, this is only if it is in a cold, dry climate. In a hot and humid setting, it can exist, at best, for an hour!
  3. Sun exposure causes your body to produce vitamin D, and there are profound health benefits to be enjoyed from this synthesizing process – especially if you are worried about COVID 19.

Let’s look at that first point – the issue of UV light.

Coronavirus and UV Rays

A recent article from NBC news noted that researchers have been working non-stop to figure out how the coronavirus that leads to COVID 19 operates. Their findings are fascinating and include the simple fact that disinfectants are effective, but that UV “rays from the sun may have a powerful effect on the virus.”

The lead scientist on the team in the Homeland Defense research group said that “sunlight seems to be very detrimental to the virus…And so within minutes, the majority of the virus is inactivated on surfaces and in the air in direct sunlight.” This may provide scientists and health agencies with the means of erasing it from some of the most readily contaminated, public surfaces, including shopping carts, children’s playground equipment, and outdoor furniture.

Another finding is that “higher temperatures and humidity may also help kill the virus and reduce its transmission.”

The research team replicated conditions from a variety of settings around the globe and found that the virus had very low survivability in tropical conditions. They also learned that “common disinfectants found in the home such as isopropyl alcohol and bleach can in some cases destroy the virus within seconds.”

So, experts have already proven the point that COVID 19 is not well-suited to the Caribbean region with its seemingly endless sunlight and its typically warm and humid conditions. This makes it less likely to spread as aggressively or remain active in the entire region, even if there are still active zones in other areas of the globe.

Then there is the scientific evidence that vitamin D “levels appear to play a role in COVID-19 mortality rates.” A Science Daily report from Northwestern University says that “Researchers analyzed patient data from 10 countries. The team found a correlation between low vitamin D levels and hyperactive immune systems. Vitamin D strengthens innate immunity and prevents overactive immune responses. The finding could explain several mysteries, including why children are unlikely to die from COVID-19.”

What they have discovered is that an event in the human body known as a cytokine storm takes place in COVID 19 patients. If they are also vitamin D deficient, they can suffer “acute respiratory distress syndrome and death…[and] this s what seems to kill a majority of COVID-19 patients, not the destruction of the lungs by the virus itself. It is the complications from the misdirected fire from the immune system,” as that report indicates.

Vitamin D, however, boosts our immune systems and prevents them from going into an overactive state that would trigger that cytokine storm. Simply testing vitamin D levels and ensuring healthy and adequate amounts are present can reduce risks.

As noted, though, no one should consume excess quantities of vitamin D supplements as this can bring negative side effects. The best method is to enjoy at least an hour of sunlight daily, and consume a diet high in vitamins and minerals (including vitamin D).

The Caribbean Calls

These findings are encouraging and show we are not all that far from finding ways to reign in a bit of control over COVID 19. Until then, travel bans remain in place, and global health organizations continue to research and track the virus.

Right now, you can start to bring yourself a bit of mental relief by looking to the winter season and a visit to the Caribbean region. You will be glad to know that you do not have to leap back into traditional travel, however, and all of the crowds that winter seasons at the beach bring.

Instead, you can book a private villa in the Caribbean. As an example, islands like Barbados, St Barts, and the Turks and Caicos all have gorgeous luxury rentals. They will provide you with the added benefits of private beachfronts that allow you to maintain your comfort zone and some social distancing. They typically have pools and hot tubs, teams of expert housekeepers who know how to sanitize every surface and space, amenities like private gyms and home cinemas, and you can even book a chef to prepare your meals if you want to skip the restaurants.

Imagine yourself soaking up the sun (and generating all of that useful vitamin D), sitting in a hot and humid spot that is not friendly to a virus but more than friendly to you, and savoring amazing scenery. This is what you can enjoy this winter, and we highly recommend the Caribbean as your upcoming seasonal sanctuary!

The idea of buying and receiving travel gifts is among the most encouraging things you might think about these days. After all, with so many of us stuck at home, it can be fun and hopeful to look at the best travel gifts and products. The important thing to remember, though, is that travel and travel needs will be quite different in the post-quarantine period. To help with your gift-buying (and getting) needs, we’ve looked at the latest and greatest ideas in gifts for people who travel, as well as gifts for travel lovers currently stuck at home.

Hygiene-Focused Gifts

It goes without saying that many of the top travel gifts will emphasize hygiene to help keep each traveler safe and healthy. That means that carry-ons should include larger than normal totes that allow a traveler to carry their hand sanitizers, a travel size of sanitary wipes to allow them to be doubly-sure their immediate area is germ-free, and a spare mask for those who are more comfortable wearing them (and for airlines that will require the use of them during travel).

Infinity pillows are also a must for any traveler taking a long airplane, car, train, bus or boat trip. The famous Huzi Infinity Pillow stands out from the crowd as it takes its name from its design that allows it to wrap around the neck entirely and offer total neck support as well as a sanitary space to rest the head during travel!

There is also the equally popular Trtl pillow that acts as a scarf and travel pillow in one. It has a cradle-like design that offers full support for the neck and holds the wearer’s head in a comfortable position without it requiring coming into contact with any surrounding surfaces. This easily qualifies it as among the best gifts for world travelers, as well as those just taking a car trip and hoping to nod off for a bit of time.

And while many of us would love to bring a favorite blanket from home, or trust that the blankets offered aboard a plane are sanitary, neither is a possibility. That is why one of the best gifts for travel lovers is a large, cashmere wrap. Yes, it is a luxury option, but when a safe and sanitary blanket alternative is needed, it is among the best gifts for travel lovers, men and women alike.

Security-Focused Gifts

And while we are all very worried about germs and other pathogens while traveling, we should still keep our financial and informational safety in mind. That is why an RFID blocking wallet is still a great choice among the many travel gifts available. Functional and attractive, they can be found in small and large sizes alike. They block illegal gathering of information contained in the RFID chips in a passport, credit card or other item.

And while many travelers are used to standing around charging stations and waiting for their opportunity to access these heavily used areas, you can spare your traveler the need. Instead, give one of the more useful of all travel gifts, a portable charger.

Not only does such a gadget allow them to avoid the groups clustered around the charging areas but it will also prevent them from ever running out of power in any location. They can be found in sizes small enough to tuck into a pocket and will usually power or recharge a phone three times, or more, before requiring their own recharging.

And if the traveler in your household or circle of family and friends is among the “carry-on only” crowd, the luxury brand of luggage Away is also among the best travel gift ideas. Why is a wheeled carry-on from this brand among the best gifts for frequent travelers? As the experts at Travel + Leisure explain, the “brand’s stylishly spare luggage has quickly become a cult-favorite with travelers for its indestructible design, easy internal organization, and built-in USB charger, which is removable to comply with airline regulations.”

Health-Focused Gifts

We all know that we get dehydrated with traditional travel, whether it is by air or other means. We forget to eat and drink enough and that can weaken immunity and open us up to fatigue and disease. The famous YETI brand of insulated tumblers and thermoses are an ideal travel gift. Dishwasher safe, they can be heavily sanitized and spare you from drinking from fountains or even requiring a beverage from an unknown source. They are reliable for keeping drinks icy cold or hot, as needed.

Another of the travel presents to consider in this post-quarantine era is a pair of comfortable loungers that can be worn as shoes and slippers alike. Many experienced travelers make a point of bringing slippers and changing shoes once on board. This may no longer be a safe and sanitary option. Instead, a pair of wool loungers, such as those from the Allbirds brand can become a wonderful substitute. Stylish and comfortable, they can be worn from the beginning to the end of any journey.

Finally, one of those more unique and useful gifts for travelers that can keep them healthy and safe is an iPhone or Android phone camera lens kit. Though the iPhone’s camera is noted for its superiority, all smartphones have rather advanced cameras. With the use of a camera lens kit, however, the recipient can enjoy remarkable results and always from a safe distance. After all, many feature wide-angle lens adapters, zoom lenses, macro lenses, and more. These can allow them to take amazing photos and always from a safe spot.

Match Travel Gifts to the Destination

Of course, if you are still daydreaming of where you will journey or planning a holiday with family or friends, a good way to pick the best travel gifts is to match them to the destination. As an example, many hope to visit Caribbean spots like Turks & Caicos, Barbados, or St Barts as soon as quarantine ends. While such journeys may involve stays in luxury rentals, many of the gifts above would be helpful, as well as diving watches, hiking gear, cameras, and skin care products suited to the tropics.

The good news is that there are as many travel gifts as destinations, and in the very near future we will all be making plans to pay a visit, pack our bags, buy gifts, and enjoy a holiday.

An elephant ride seems like a common enough activity. Americans for generations have taken such rides at county fairs, traveling circuses, petting zoos and other spots. Tourists also head to many destinations in Asia, including Vietnam, “India, Sri Lanka, Laos, Cambodia, Indonesia and Thailand, which is arguably the hot spot for elephant tourism in the region.” (According to an article in The Dodo)

And yet, expert after expert says that an elephant ride may be one of the cruelest activities many will ever “enjoy”.

Is it bad to ride an elephant when so many have already done so? According to animal experts the answer is a resounding yes.

Why You Shouldn’t Ride an Elephant

A 2015 report noted that a handful of captive elephants in Vietnam had perished from exhaustion. Made to work in excessive heat and for long hours, the elephants were all part of the tourism trade and spent their days giving travelers rides on their backs. Yet, they perished due to over work and hunger in almost all cases.

As Dr. Pham Vanthinh, a veterinarian from Vietnam’s Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center (DECC) said, they died from suffering (as would many of the other captive elephants in similar conditions). “Almost all of them experience stress and exhaustion from overwork by their owners and tourist companies,” Dr. Vanthinh explained, “Tourists go to Dak Lak to see and ride elephants…domestic elephants in Vietnam have to work all day…But in the dry season, the situation gets even more troubling as they grow weak from lack of food.”

And though this is horrible enough, the process by which an elephant enters the tourism trade is worse. Whether bred or stolen from captivity (both cruel processes on their own), an elephant is not naturally comfortable with restraints and non-stop interaction with humans. To ensure they will behave, animals are psychologically “broken” to force them to perform or behave as desired.

A process known as crushing, it involves physical beatings and immense cruelty to young elephants, and can even include destroying wild adult elephants in order to obtain younger animals.

So, even an elephant ride on an elephant that has long been in the trade is the end result of years of cruelty, and even neglect.

That means, before asking “where can I ride an elephant,” you should ask if you even should take such a ride in the first place. This is true whether it is wondering where can you ride an elephant in Vietnam, considering riding elephants in India, or seeking a place where riding elephants in Thailand is possible. It also applies to a domestic location, such as the U.S. and seeking “elephant rides near me” on Google or another search engine.

Tourists to areas where elephant rides and parks are a huge part of the experience need to understand that elephants, as a species (and this is true whether it is Asian or African elephants), have a proven level of emotional depth that makes captivity particularly painful. As that report also said, they have a “cooperative nature, familial bonds and intelligence” that makes them poorly suited to a life of servitude and bondage.

Alternatives to An Elephant Ride

Rather than pondering the reasons why experts say it is not a good idea to take an elephant ride or argue that other people are riding elephants and the harm is already done, you can look at alternatives to an elephant ride.

For example, if you are traveling to Thailand and want to experience something with elephants, you don’t have to go to a park for a ride. There are several ethical elephant sanctuaries in Thailand where people are not allowed to ride the elephants and where, for the most part, the elephants roam freely within a significantly sized park or preserve.

At the top of the list for many is Elephant Nature Park in the Chiang Mai area. Home to around three dozen formerly captive elephants used for logging or tourism, it allows visitors to watch the elephants during feeding times and see them enjoying daily baths. Volunteerism is also encouraged.

Nearby is Elephant Haven where elephants also roam freely and is a former tourism spot that has reversed direction entirely, freeing their once captive elephants and turning the property into a sanctuary where elephants are never put on show or forced to do more than enjoy their lives.

Several hours south of Chiang Mai is Burm and Emily’s Elephant Sanctuary that houses elephants retired from the tourism and logging industries. They allow elephants to roam freely, and volunteers are welcome to help bathe, escort elephants to swimming holes in the forests, and observe.

There are also options like Elephant Hills, far in the south and part of Khao Sok National Park. This is home to 11 elephants and riding them is entirely forbidden. Instead, this luxury accommodation also allows visitors to help bathe and feed the elephants or watch them roam their enormous private grounds.

You can also help to reverse the cultural trends in what is known as the “mahout culture.” As one expert explained, this is a culture that “demands that generation after generation of men in certain families own elephants…[which] need 400 lbs. of fodder a day, families need to live, and so mahouts use elephants to make money – and currently tourism is the only option.”

Unfortunately, the way that these mahouts treat the elephants in their possession varies and is often based on what was learned from generations before. These men find themselves partnering with tourism providers, and may lose control over the way that an elephant is treated, or find themselves ill-equipped to help elephants properly.

The Surin Project in the Baan Tha Klang area was started to help reduce the problems mahouts face by taking them (and their elephants) off of the streets. As one article explained, roughly “200 mahouts and elephants live in the centre; the mahouts are given employment and the elephants are free from chains. Volunteers are essential to the project’s survival and positions are available for a week or more,” for those who wondered about elephant riding and would prefer a more human alternative, this is also a great option.

We now know the answer to the question of “are you supposed to ride elephants”? And the good news is that there are plenty of alternatives if you are planning a tropical retreat. You can also consider destinations where elephants may not be available to visit, but where there is plenty of wildlife to safely meet and greet, such as the sea creatures around Barbados, St Barts, and Turks & Caicos!

Are you someone who enjoys planning? For instance, does the idea of taking a trip excite you because you also get to research the areas you’ll visit and find all kinds of things to see and do? If so, you will want to roll up your sleeves and do a bit of Caribbean travel planning for this year or the next.

As people begin to think about the places they will go later in 2020 or at the beginning of 2021, they are being steered towards the Caribbean. This is for several important reasons:

  • For decades Caribbean travel has meant year-round good weather. Yes, there may be a tropical storm season, but most islands have excellent beach days almost 365 days per year!
  • The region has a long history with combatting illness and disaster, and many experts predict that the region will weather the current pandemic far better than other areas not used to coping with contagious disease. After all, many islands in the Caribbean have faced challenges similar to the global issues we witness today, and have recovered in a single season.
  • A Caribbean travel guide makes it easy to see that each island is a unique entity with a lot of different activities, sights, culture, food, and more. Planning a journey to the Caribbean region means having access to a diversity of peoples and places.
  • When looking into a Caribbean holiday, one fact quickly emerges – it is home to world-class accommodations that are not so easily found elsewhere in the world. The abundance of luxury rentals on many islands makes it an opportunity for a truly unforgettable getaway.

A Quick Guide to the Caribbean

When we say the Caribbean, we mean the entire region around the Caribbean Sea, as well as the area that includes islands with coast along both the Caribbean and Atlantic waters. It is a zone full of islands, cays, and reefs that may have unique names. For example, Jamaica is in the West Indies, while Turks & Caicos are in the Lucayan Archipelago (even though they do not technically have coast on the Caribbean Sea).

When looking into a Caribbean adventure, it helps to know that there are around 30 territories and overseas departments that make up the area. So, you will find French, English, Dutch, Spanish, American and other cultural and political influences as you explore the area.

St Barts, for example is a French Overseas Collective, while Barbados is an independent county with a constitutional monarchy.

Caribbean Travel Tips

How do you begin to make your plans for a Caribbean vacation? Many travel experts suggest you read the best Caribbean books. These are not all going to be fiction works, but will instead be something like free Caribbean travel guide books with lots of colorful suggestions and stories. A good “short list” of the best Caribbean books would include:

  • Caribbean by James A. Michener
  • Island People: The Caribbean and the World by Joshua Jelly-Schapiro
  • The Middle Passage by V.S. Naipaul
  • An Embarrassment of Mangoes: A Caribbean Interlude by Ann Vanderhoof
  • Hurricanes & Hangovers: And Other Tall Tales and Loose Lies from the Coconut Telegraph by Dear Miss Mermaid
  • Pirate Latitudes by Michael Crichton
  • Our Man in Havana by Graham Greene
  • The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson
  • Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen

Reading such works is not the same as visiting sites like for Caribbean vacation tips, but it does offer you insight into places, people, communities, and ideas that greatly enhance a visit. As an example, reading Michener’s enormous work about the creation of the Caribbean and right up to the near modern era helps you to get a good sense of the history of several islands, and this can only help you make great day trips as you visit different locations.

User-Generated Travel Tips

Of course, one of the best things to do is use a resource like the site mentioned, as well as basic search engines. Why? Many people are not fully conversant with the “cariben” region and a quick search of the most popular islands can be a good jumping off point.

As an example, Jamaica and Barbados are two of the most heavily visited islands, and yet they are very different spots. Sitting across the Caribbean Sea from one another, Barbados is radically smaller and extremely opulent when compared to the more family-friendly Jamaica.

Reading opinions and suggestions from people who have authentically visited the islands is a good way to begin making plans. For example, if you google the best beaches, you will get a lot of personal opinions. These are valuable if you want to know the best beaches for specific activities. After all, fellow travelers who have also visited those spots to find the best beaches for sunbathing, snorkeling, shell hunting, wind surfing, and so on, will leave information behind.

Making Lists and Then Making Plans

What this says about Caribbean travel planning is simple: Start with the activities you hope to enjoy, and then do a search for the best islands for those specific activities.

Also pay attention to the seasons. If your ideal tropical holiday is warm, humid, and during the low or off season, you may want to consider a visit to the Caribbean during the peak of the northern hemisphere’s summer months (late June through early September). If you want dry and in the 80s, however, that is the standard winter or peak season running from late November through early May.

Once you know what you want to do, the kind of weather you hope to enjoy, and have a general idea of the islands that offer you the best options, it comes down to accommodations. We’d always recommend considering some private villas as well as traditional accommodations. This is because the Caribbean offers many amazing places to stay, with many right along the sands. A home-like, private property that opens directly to the beach is one way to make your Caribbean adventure and travel planning a full success.

The Bachelor, and its various spin-offs or copycat shows, have become wildly popular. Ask a lot of people why they view such programs, and many will say they love the surroundings and the scenery. It is why so many ask questions like “where is Bachelor in Paradise filmed?” The answer to that is not so simple because there are a few settings and locations.

Sayulita, Mexico

The main answer to the question of where is Bachelor in Paradise filmed now would be Sayulita, Mexico. This is an as-yet little discovered gem that is north of the famous Puerto Vallarta and often categorized as part of the Riviera Nayarit, the west coast version of Mexico’s Riviera Maya which sits along the Caribbean rather than the Pacific. This is also where you find such famous sites as Tulum and the Playa del Carmen region.

If you are looking for specifics to the question of where is Bachelor in Paradise filmed, though, it would have to be Playa Escondida in Sayulita. This is a beach and resort area a short drive from Puerto Vallarta, so not truly in the heart of the area.

Can you rent the Bachelor in Paradise house? In a word: yes. It is part of a resort property – the Playa Escondido Resort and when booking, travelers need only request the waterfront cottage used for the season.

It is available because the season has concluded, and for those wondering when was Bachelor in Paradise filmed, the season ran from August through September of 2019. This is actually also the answer to when is Bachelor in Paradise filmed most seasons, and it usually takes place over the course of that single month – though it runs longer on the airwaves.

Bachelor in Paradise House Location

Over the different seasons of the show, however, the location has shifted considerably. The first season was at a property in gorgeous Tulum, a site far southeast in the Mayan Riviera location. The Bachelor in Paradise beach house seen in the current episodes is not the same and is part of that resort already mentioned on Mexico’s western coast. Famous for offering four tiers of luxury accommodations, the Bachelor in Paradise filming locations in Sayulita emphasize the waterfront complex and cottages such as Templo, Sol, and Lunas cottages.

Choosing a Bachelor in Paradise location in Mexico, and particularly in the Nayarit area is a wise decision on the part of the production company. This is due to the nearly guaranteed good weather and the beauty of the surroundings. Opting for luxury villas in a resort is a good choice for access to the beachfront and the many amenities for cast and crew alike.

However, if you are asking something like “where is Bachelor in Paradise filmed?” in order to enjoy a holiday in a similar setting, you may want to consider more than just that resort area in Sayulita.

Mexico and the Caribbean

The appeal of the location for the Bachelor in Paradise is the scenic beauty and the good weather, but this is something found on both coasts – particularly the Tulum region which is the answer to “where is Bachelor in Paradise filmed” in its first season.

The Mayan Riviera is known to be less crowded than the western Nayarit region. It is just as beautiful and even features a great many historic, cultural and natural sites. For example, you can dive in cenotes during a visit to this area and savor some of the best snorkeling and diving.

And if you want to have a setting similar to that of the Bachelor in Paradise – there is an abundance of luxury rentals and bungalows scattered throughout the region. Many are not even part of resorts and give you the kind of privacy that the show only suggests.

If you are eager for even more serenity and privacy, you may want to head to the islands of the Caribbean. Places like Barbados are home to a lot of waterfront cottages and luxury villas with astonishing amenities and direct access to some of the finest sands in the region. Turks & Caicos is also noted for its tropical setting and beachfront accommodations – some similar to what is seen on The Bachelor. Whether you want a traditional beachfront bungalow or a modern architectural masterpiece sitting along the sands, you can find them here.

St Barts is also home to many charming villas and with its French influences is one of the most cosmopolitan and European-style spots to savor a tropical getaway. With beachfront, hillside, and mountaintop retreats, you can create your own Bachelor in Paradise experience.

All of the islands have a good array of gourmet restaurants, high-end shopping areas, and lots of nightlife. They each have premium resorts where private villas and beachfront settings are readily available, too.

Don’t Forget Australia and Oceania

A lot of people wonder where is Bachelor in Paradise filmed in Australia, and the answer is “not Australia at all,” but is instead filmed in Fiji. As home to many over the water villas and some of the most stunning natural scenery in the world (not to mention the crystal clear waters), it is a perfect choice for someone eager to enjoy a similar experience.

With its limited amount of land, however, you may find that a stay at one of the Fijian resorts is a better choice as it allows for waterfront exposure, lots of premium amenities, and the kind of luxury escape that is the hallmark of the Bachelor shows and productions.

Whether or not you want to live like the Bachelors and Bachelorettes of the popular TV shows, or you just want to step into their beautifully luxurious worlds and residences, you now know where to begin. The western coastal area of Mexico known as Nayarit, and Sayulita, the eastern area of Mexico known as the Mayan Riviera and Tulum, and the Fijian islands near Australia are the actual locations. You can find some similar spots throughout the Caribbean, too, and may want to test them all to find your favorite (and give IT the rose!).