If you truly want to get away from it all, French Polynesia might just be the most perfect destination on the planet. Sunny, remote, and quite glamorous, you’ll see why these famous islands surrounding Tahiti beckon you to the trip of a lifetime. Especially on a cozy getaway for two, according to our warm-weather traveler, Lance Avery Morgan.

Photography by Lucas Kepner

If this isn’t paradise, then paradise may not exist after all. Welcome to the land in which James Michener wrote Tales of the South Pacific and the subject for the native images painted by Gauguin and Matisse that shocked the world. Yes, French Polynesia is a very special land…a mythical place with mythical people offering what some might consider a once-in-a-lifetime experience south of the equator. So plan it right here and right now.

Think of French Polynesia as the Hawaii of the 1950s before statehood – unspoiled, underdeveloped, and well, just a little untamed. With exotic island names like Bora Bora, Manihi, Tikehau, Moreea, and many more, each experience can be distinctive and very five-star. To most, this trip is one of a kind. You encounter an authentic experience at Le Bora Bora by Pearl Resorts. Maybe that’s why the rich and famous love to escape their red carpet life to a place like this, even if just for a couple of weeks, to return to a sense of authenticity. The region’s laissez-faire attitude topped with a chic French accent creates a unique and spectacular environment for any desire.

Want to curl up in the lap of luxury and eat fresh fish with a side of poisson cru (coconut milk), then enjoy endless spa treatments? This is the place for you. Think you’re up for an athletic vacation where you can snorkel, dive, kayak, surf, and do just about any other water sport? This is it. Need some downtime away from your iPhone and spreadsheets to complete that unfinished screenplay, polish off that Great American Novel, or just paint your own watercolor masterpiece? Come here to do it and recharge your creative batteries. Think of it as nature’s Botox.

To know the islands, you first have to be acquainted with its land and peoples. The extensive island chain of French Polynesia is home to only 250,000 inhabitants, 70% of whom live on the island of Tahiti. There are about 120 islands and atolls that comprise the area, much more than Hawaii’s eight islands, lending a feeling of remote tranquility when you get there. And it is hardly Gilligan’s Island, or even Lost for that matter.

You see, the Polynesians are a dynamic and diverse culture. They are a people who seek adventure. They’re survivors avidly concerned with the environment, who love to have a good time and make visitors feel welcome. Although the French are not usually known for their overfriendliness, they are known for creating an environment that’s above reproach, which is what they’ve done here since it was a French protectorate in 1842 and then became an overseas territory in 1946. Think of it as the ultimate lagoon destination.

Overwater thatched bungalows are the most common accommodations on the islands. From land, as you walk to the middle of the lagoon to your rooms at Le Bora Bora, you’ll see the marine life at your feet. Inside your teak wood suite of plush linens and island artist artwork, you encounter a Tahitian television; a glass floor coffee table where you can see all the fish swimming underneath you. These built-on-stilt suites are the perfect way to end either a sport-filled or relaxing day. Either way, you’re in paradise.

The sporting life on the islands is mostly inspired by the turquoise blue water and entices you to embrace your inner Indiana Jones. I hopped down the steps of my bungalow and swam over to a coral nursery where I found fish of every color and size. Have a need to catch your own meal? Do as I did and go deep sea fishing to catch a grouper, then have a picnic on a remote motu with a group of both friends and natives. Ready for dessert? There’s a coconut tree over there. It’s the kind I learned to climb to capture fresh coconut, then all you do is shuck it with your teeth or simply crack it open to taste the milky nectar. Anything seems possible in the South Pacific, even for the most ardent city dweller.

It’s said the blue water is so rich in coloration that it’s not duplicated in any other part of the world. Even from a plane window, it stunningly beckons each visitor. The fact that it’s pristinely clear is a given. The fact that it’s home to some of the best coral reefs in the world is a bonus. If you want to experience the best diving the world has to offer, this is the ocean for it. Marine life is healthy, abundant, and well-protected. Take a champagne sunset boat cruise to find out about the sea and its inhabitants.

Part of that specialness is the pearls found dotting both tourists and natives. The pearl farms that cultivate those precious balls of marine perfection are sprinkled among the islands. About one in 10,000 pearls are naturally perfect, so most are cultured like. Even cultured pearls of high quality take about five years to create. One created recently was a jawbreaker size valued at over $20,000. So, pearls are big business, especially the black ones that are shades of charcoal grey. If you are a diver and want to try your luck at obtaining perfect pearls, dive in. It can be done. For dive enthusiasts at all levels, Le Bora Bora by Pearl is the only luxury hotel chain to marry quality resorts with professionally run PADI dive centers at six of their resorts. The Four Seasons on Bora Bora is also an ideal choice when booking travel.

The hotel’s guests appreciate the special combination of being able to play at being Robinson Crusoe yet enjoy all the creature comforts of luxury resorts. The dining experiences at Le Bora Bora are memorable for their subtle mix of the best of French, International, and Polynesian cuisine, often accompanied by exciting Tahitian dance entertainment, which I well know. I was that guy they pulled on stage to learn the native Polynesian dance in front of the entire dining audience. Bongo drums and all. But it was worth it because the cuisine on the islands is unmatched. I danced for my supper. And most of the food is shipped in, since vegetation is rare on the islands due to space and logistics. But the fish is fresh and often comes from nearby the resorts. Fresh papaya juice and the best hot chocolate outside of Paris is de rigueur for breakfast, while a light salad lunch is the perfect energizer in between sports activities.
Want to be pampered? There’s an island secret called monoi, a liquid blend of the essences of hundreds of flowers, oil and indigenous coconuts that’s used in most of the spa treatments. The resorts offer a range of traditional Polynesian and other massage techniques and treatments using the purest natural oils and essences. Plus, there a selection of treatments, scrubs, and massages to soothe both the soul and the senses.

Islander folklore has that the French Polynesians honor dreams here. They feel that dreams are planted and fed, and not tossed away. That dreams and love never die in Tahiti. Upon departure, I am given my last strand of shells, signifying the hope of safe travels and a beckon to return. The shells and the trip symbolize the trip of a lifetime and I make a silent promise to myself to return again one day soon. With more sunscreen.



The Jet Set getaway is still the go-to choice for many honeymooners. It has everything and more that you could ever want, discovers our intrepid traveler Kristen O’Brien, who shares her barefoot luxury point of view while staying at Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf.

If you are seeking some R&R after a busy wedding season, with ample sun and beach time, with a dash of glitz and glamour, not to mention an incredibly romantic setting, then Saint Barthélemy, aka St. Barts or à la française. St. Barths, the jewel of the Antilles, does not disappoint. The “season” on the island is long, from early November until the end of August when most hotels shutter for the hurricane season. The height of the season is between Thanksgiving and the New Year, when the population of almost 10,000 grows to include a who’s who of monied and well-heeled globe trotters with their yachts on full display in Gustavia’s harbor.

Nestled on a hill above the port of Gustavia, is the capital of St. Barth. The Hôtel Barrière Le Carl Gustaf St Barth overlooks one of the most spectacular bays in the Caribbean. Designed by renowned French firm Gilles & Boissier, the five-star resort exudes luxury, elegance, and French-style charm throughout its 21 rooms, suites, and bungalows that all face the ocean. The bungalows have plunge pools, and the 5-bedroom Villa Diane comes with a private chef and butler. The colonial-style Carl Gustaf was built in the 1970s and purchased by the Barrière Group in 2016.

With a roster of luxury properties all over France, including Cannes and Courchevel as well as Marrakech, and the recently opened Hotel Fouquet’s in New York, this was their first venture into the Caribbean. Renovations had to be halted in 2017 due to Hurricane Irma, and therefore, it wasn’t until late 2020 that they finally reopened. The hotel has a chic, French ambiance yet also fits in with the island’s laid-back atmosphere, while still offering all the necessities and luxury one could desire. Pricing for the villa starts at just under $19,000 per night, and for the other accommodations, some rooms are available during the low season for $781 a night.

Le Carl Gustaf offers a newly opened restaurant on site, an “haute couture” meat bar aptly named Beefbar, where guests can savor dishes such as Wagyu steak and Kobe prosciutto, an exclusive menu item developed by founder Riccardo Giradui. There are fresh and light options on the Leaf & Reef, including the iconic Miso Spinach or the refreshing Hamachi Crudo. And of course, a mouth-watering signature Soufflé rounds out the meal. All while enjoying the warm tropical breeze and view of twinkling lights below in Gustavia.

What’s wonderful at the Carl Gustaf is that you don’t need a car and can walk to most of the places you’d want to go…a fabulous beach restaurant and club at Shell Beach, the cute boutiques and haute couture shops of Gustavia, the trendy bars and other incredible restaurants like Bonito, Bagatelle, and Orega, are all walkable if you don’t mind climbing down a steep hill…and up again. The hotel provides electric bicycles for their guests, and a car service to the ferry or airport, the stellar concierge team can organize taxis to other destinations on the island. A great place to start your trip is at Shellona, the private beach club and Greek restaurant on Shell Beach, a quick five-minute walk from the hotel and where guests can easily get a day bed and soak up the sun, enjoy an Aperol, mix with interesting people from around the globe, and watch one of the best sunsets on the island. Like most of the beach restaurants on St. Barts, and there are 22 beaches on the island, there is usually a DJ on site creating a carefree party vibe similar to what you’d expect to find in Ibiza or Mykonos.

Another key benefit of staying at the Carl Gustaf? All the pampering and treatments you can dream of on-site at the Spa Diane Barrière, which offers multi-sensory and bespoke holistic treatments, facials, mani-pedis, and tailored massages in three massage rooms, as well as a fitness and yoga studio. Other activities the hotel offers or can coordinate, besides the electric bikes and aqua bikes, include a Catamaran sailing excursion, water sports, hiking tours, picnics, and fishing.

If you can pull yourself away from the tranquility and pampering at Carl Gustaf then head into Gustavia for shopping at Louis Vuitton, Dior, Prada, and adorable local boutiques, like Poupette, Lolita Jaca, and Sea Memory. There are also 40 quartiers to discover and so many places to swim, snorkel, hike, enjoy top-notch culinary delights, and dance the night away. No other place compares when it comes to chic and cozy, where you can feel the warm Caribbean breezes, view the stunning water, islands, and mountains, as well as the colorful Caribbean buildings dotted with Swedish architecture and churches. One can hear the church bells ringing, the bleating of the cabris, the mourning doves chirping, and by nightfall, the katydids. St. Barts is a magical place that enchants the senses. The Island is luxurious but understated, although nothing is understated in its stunning beauty and impeccable hospitality.



The Andaz Mayakoba Resort Should Be Your Next Journey, according to our Mexico-loving Jake Gaines. The sun, the water, and the relaxation all add up to the perfect trip close to home with its picturesque views and array of aquatic activities.

Photography courtesy of Andaz Mayakoba

Once you hop on a quick flight, from two to three hours from most Texas cities, into Cancun, you’ll soon be on your way an hour’s drive to the serene Andaz, whisked away by a private shuttle arranged by the property. We recommend the Andaz Mayakoba in the Riviera Maya, a Hyatt concept, as your next retreat to get away from it all. Once you’re on the ocean with the breeze blowing through your hair, you’ll know what true relaxation is. The natural beauty surrounding the region is also home to an idyllic range of flora and fauna that set the tone for a relaxing adventure. Upon arriving at the grand entrance, the friendly team will greet you in front of the prominent, cenote-inspired water feature. Once given a stone to toss into the aqua element, you’re encouraged to make a wish, or intention, for the stay. I wished for serenity for the next few days, and it came true.

In most of Mexico’s resorts today, a modern sense of design and architecture helps you feel like you are somewhere special. At the Andaz, the primarily white and gray color theme of the rooms and suites blend seamlessly into the verdant growth that envelops the resort. Waking up to the exotic birds singing among the lagoon’s many haciendas is a treat. After all, Mayakoba is a 620-acre vista filled with lagoons, jungles, and beaches. Think of it as a secure gated community of luxury private residences three hotels, along with the Andaz: Rosewood, Banyan Tree, and Fairmount. The best part of this collaboration is that you can visit these other nearby resorts, enjoy their amenities, and sign it to your room at the Andaz.

You come as a tourist. You live as a local,” stated Andaz General Manager Pascal Dupuis when we caught up with him over breakfast. At the Andaz in the Riviera Maya, guests are invited to enjoy what might be considered a hidden paradise. It truly is like no other. In the jungle, yet near the ocean, it’s a place where style meets nature at an elevated level. The Andaz’s chic design reflects not only the native Mayan culture but embraces contemporary design, as well. When you arrive, you’ll find 214 guestrooms, including 41 luxury suites…so there’s an option for every visitor. In this lushly preserved mangrove environment, there’s also space for meetings and corporate events since the property offers 14,000 square feet of versatile indoor and outdoor meeting space. Want to host a unique corporate retreat here? You might get Boss of the Year if you do.

Being on the ocean, the water is an important part of the resort’s attraction. Sunning on the pristine white sands of the Caribbean beach or at one of two spacious outdoor pools, the tropical vibe is ever-present. The palm trees that sway above lend themselves to the tropical paradise feel. Enjoy time alone in the water or in one of the many cabanas with beverage and food service available. For the ultimate relaxation, the 10,000-square-foot luxe Naum Wellness and Spa, with six treatment areas, can be part of your visit. Want to have one-of-a-kind experiences? This is the place to find them. You can start the day with a two-hour private boat tour that weaves through the lagoons and mangroves to truly experience the majestic beauty of the resort. The sights and sounds of Mexico’s nature, including plenty of colorful birds, are the perfect view while enjoying a five-star breakfast that is served fresh and healthy.

The five uniquely created restaurants and bars at the resort offer culinary experiences to satisfy any taste. Recently, two of its five restaurants were included in the coveted Guia Gastronomica list, which highlights the 250 best restaurants in Mexico. Dining al fresco, which I recommend at every meal at the resort, I was captivated by the substantial architectural point of view of the venue, as well as the ingenious mix of seasonings and spices that were a part of every dish. From the fresh produce to the freshly caught fish, as well as plenty of vegan options, the sky is the limit for delicious cuisine at the eateries. As General Manager Pascal Dupuis muses about the entire resort, “If you are in love with sustainability, nature, experiences, and the perfect location, then Andaz Mayakoba is the place for you.” With so much to offer, what are you waiting for?



Dreaming of planning a winter honeymoon? How about a choice like Sun Valley, Idaho, where many expert Texan skiers can be found, according to our intrepid traveler Lori Duran. Here she shares her five-star experience for a quick jaunt that will have you wanting to be on the slopes again soon.

Photography by Hillary Maybery. Courtesy of Visit Sun Valley and Sun Valley Resort

You don’t have to be an advanced skier to enjoy the fun and atmosphere this site offers because it has a variety of terrain, a vibrant après-ski scene, well-appointed ski lodges, and plenty to do on and off the slopes. Sun Valley skiing truly offers something for everyone.

The unforgettable Sun Valley Ski Resort opened in 1936 and now has more than 75 ski runs across over 2,000-plus skiable acres, ranging from beginner-friendly (Dollar Mountain) to experienced-only. Bald Mountain (aka Baldy), their big-time mountain, boasts perfect-pitch vertical from peak to base. It has the perfect downhill pitch on a variety of terrain. Overall, Baldy is a fun mountain with lots of variety of slopes and it’s not crowded. So, the lift lines move quickly. It has a great variety of terrain suitable for a wide variety of skiing. The snow conditions are usually pretty good with dry powder. Dollar Mountain is a good place to learn how to ski, It is served by four chair lifts: Dollar, Half Dollar, Quarter Dollar, and Elkhorn. For the novice, the Half and Quarter lifts can be appreciated. Fun fact: Sun Valley was the home of the world’s very first chair lift.

Arriving in Sun Valley for the first time, I was immediately attracted to the artful culture and the naturally scenic landscape. Ketchum, the quintessential Sun Valley town, is about one and a half miles from the Sun Valley Ski Resort. The town is known for its diverse art scene and its art galleries, all conveniently located within blocks of each other.

Ketchum and Sun Valley are located within the Central Idaho Dark Sky Reserve. So, after the sun sets in the valley, grab some hot cocoa and maybe a telescope and look directly up at the sky. Sun Valley visitors can always enjoy dramatic scenery along with its sunny, low-humidity, mountain climate.

There’s no doubt Ketchum’s naturally rugged landscape has always attracted attention. Some celebrity residents including Bruce Willis, Demi Moore, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and even Ernest Hemingway enjoyed living there. Hemingway spent much of the few years of his life there and the Sun Valley Heritage and Ski Museum has artifacts of his including photographs, letters, artifacts, and his yes, typewriter.

The Sun Valley Lodge has long been a well-known hot spot and is still a great place to stay, along with its sister property Sun Valley Inn, even after 87 years. When Hemingway moved to Sun Valley in the mid-20th century, he first made his home in Room 206 (now 228) of the Lodge. If you stay at Knob Hill Inn in Ketchum, you’ll be in the mountains and within a 10-minute walk of Sun Valley Museum of Art and Gail Severn Gallery. I enjoyed staying at Pennay’s River Run Condominiums, which is just a short walk from the slopes and River Run Ski Resort, and I loved their complimentary snowmobile ride.

Hemingway was known for his love of good food and drink. And that was no different for him in Sun Valley. The Pioneer Saloon, Michel’s Christiania, and the Sawtooth Club, which he frequented, are still in business today. The Pioneer Saloon has one of Hemingway’s guns, a 21 twelve-gauge shotgun, hanging on their wall amongst other historical and interesting artifacts along the walls. It’s an eatery that doubles as a must-see museum. The Grill at Knob Hill, Warfield Distillery, the Sun Valley Club, Barrio75, and Enoteca are other Ketchum favorites of mine. Whenever you choose to visit, Sun Valley is always a perfect choice.