National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World adds it newest member, Australia’s Thala Beach Nature Reserve

As one of only five memberships granted to an Australian eco-retreat, Thala Beach Nature Reserve announced that it has been invited to join the exclusive ranks of membership to the National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World.

As a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World, Thala Beach Nature Reserve belongs to an exclusive collection of membership lodges that invite guests to discover some of the world’s most treasured environments, while helping to protect those places for generations to come.

Thala Beach Nature Reserve's Lobby

Thala Beach Nature Reserve’s Lobby: The open plan tropical design of Thala Beach Nature Reserve’s buildings allow it to blend with the local environment.

The membership granted to Thala Beach Nature Reserve by National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is a timely and natural union. For more than 10 years, Thala has achieved Advanced Eco-certification and Green Travel Leader status (Ecotourism Australia) through responsible and sustainable practices and environmental sensitivity.

Thala was handpicked for membership after successfully undergoing a rigorous vetting process. The standards for inclusion to National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World are based on the four pillars of sustainable tourism: protection of natural heritage, protection of cultural heritage, support for local communities, and environmentally friendly practices.

83 Bungalows are spread throughout the forest across Thala Beach Nature Reserve allowing guests to be up close with nature.

83 Bungalows are spread throughout the forest across Thala Beach Nature Reserve allowing guests to be up close with nature.

National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World is more than a selection of world-class hotels, resorts, and retreats; it is a rich and varied collection of rare experiences in the world’s most beautiful environments. Arguably nature lovers’ most exclusive club, member lodges offer their guests encounters with uniquely stunning regions of the world – and the chance to intimately discover them.

According to Thala Beach Nature Reserve’s owner, Rob Prettejohn, the family-owned beachfront eco retreat has long offered a peaceful sanctuary for nature-loving travelers. “Our busy lifestyles drive us relentlessly. To take some time off to reconnect with nature is a magical and enriching experience.”

Thala's Private Headland

Thala’s Private Headland: Thala Beach Nature Reserve is a headland with an area of 145 acres with 2km’s of private access beach frontage between Port Douglas and Cairns, Australia.

At Thala Beach Nature Reserve, our guests enjoy comfort within a beautiful, natural environment that is home to many unique Australian plants and animals,” explains Prettejohn. “Add good local food and friendly Tropical Queensland hospitality and interactive experiences, including visits to The Great Barrier Reef and guided walks in our ancient Gondwanan rainforests, guests have a combination of experiences available nowhere else in the world.

Guests Stargazing

Guests Stargazing: Thala’s guests stargazing at the on-site observatory.

Perfectly positioned on a private headland, Thala Beach Nature Reserve is surrounded by the UNESCO World Heritage sites of The Great Barrier Reef and the Wet Tropics, providing easy access for guests to immerse themselves in the surrounding natural grandeur and the abundance of nature-based activities on offer.

Thala’s unique accommodation is made up of 83 eco-designed, tree house-style bungalows that are set on 58 hectares of native rainforest, with 2 kilometers of private-access beach. Thala Beach Nature Reserve is located 45 minutes from Cairns and 15 minutes from Port Douglas in Tropical North Queensland, Australia. 

Protection of the local environment, while welcoming travelers, is something Prettejohn holds close to his heart. “When visitors stay with us they contribute to preserving this wonderful and rare place. We are thrilled to now be a member of National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World and to be a part of a culture that embraces the very same values that we at Thala treasure.

Related Links

Thala Beach Nature Reserve /http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tfQQ-TQXcdU / National Geographic Unique Lodges of the World / Thala Beach Nature Reserve – digital brochure.pdf

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Travel News: Wind & Wine Croatia Launches A New Adventure Travel Company

The Company will Combine Luxury Yacht Travel with Custom Curated Winery Experiences in the Dalmatian Islands

7 days, 6 islands, 6 wineries, 6 historical towns

Croatia has been making wine for 2 millennia and is home to the oldest continuously-planted vineyard in the world — yet many people have never tasted Croatian wine. Wind & Wine Croatia is on a mission to change that. This adventure travel company takes small groups on week-long luxury sailing trips and organizes custom, curated winery experiences in the Dalmatian Islands. Travelers will experience the adventure of sailing and sleeping on a modern yacht while visiting six hand-selected wineries and exploring six historic islands and towns.

Wind-Wine Croatia Logo

Wind & Wine Croatia Logo

Wind & Wine Croatia is co-founded by seasoned wine professional Lizann Grupalo and life-long sailor and certified yacht master Ivan “Pale” Paškvan. Both have over 20 years of experience in their respective fields and formed this company to share their two passions – wine and sailing — with others.

Wine in Croatia has a celebrated history of more than 2,500 years and offers more than 130 indigenous grape varieties,” said Grupalo. “The vineyards are planted in some of the most stunning regions of the country. With each passing year, Croatian wines garner more accolades and awards, yet they remain relatively undiscovered globally. We hope to change that with our wind & wine tour!

What You Will Experience

Wind & Wine Croatia is currently booking trips for June – August 2018. The itinerary includes one-way navigation under sail from the city of Trogir/Split, ending in Dubrovnik, one of the most beautiful ancient cities in the Mediterranean known for its white limestone streets and ancient city walls.

One-way navigation under sail will begin in the city of Trogir/Split, the second largest city in Croatia. Renowned for its beaches and ambience, this exuberant city has just the right balance of tradition and modern innovation. At the end of the week, you will arrive in Dubrovnik, one of the most renowned tourist destinations in the Mediterranean. Known for its characteristic Old Town, Dubrovnik will be sure to charm as you stroll white limestone streets alongside ancient city walls surrounded by baroque buildings – all framed perfectly by the shimmer of the sea.

Wind-Wine Croatia Sailboats

Sailboats in Stari Grad at Hvar island in Croatia

In the comfort of state-of-the-art yachts outfitted with modern amenities, you will be transported back in time to the historical places and natural wonders that define the Adriatic. Combining nature and history, each day will welcome new discovery and exploration of native islands such as Brač, Hvar, Vis, Šćedro, Pelješac Peninsula and Korčula.

With options to hike, explore, swim and snorkel by day, the afternoons and evenings will provide ample opportunity to visit local wineries, enjoy olive oil tastings and sample the local cuisine, all while strolling the cobblestone streets of these quaint and charming towns.

You will surely find the Dalmatian islands to be your playground bringing peace, tranquility and a renewed sense of energy throughout your voyage.

Guests can choose between a modern, state-of-the-art sailing yacht or catamaran experience. Each yacht, with skipper and host, will accommodate six guests and be part of a small 4-boat flotilla, which provides travelers space to explore each island on their own or, if they wish, engage with other like-minded travelers as they discover the history and complexity of Croatia, its wines, and its people. Each yacht offers modern amenities including the tranquility and privacy of double bed cabins, each with their own bathroom. Priority is given to full boat bookings. Customized solutions are also available upon request.

Learn more and book your trip at www.windandwinecroatia.com. Follow @WindWineCroatia on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

TripAdvisor Recognizes World’s Best Airlines With 2018 Travelers’ Choice Awards

Global Flyer Reviews Reveal Singapore Airlines as Best in the World; Southwest is Top U.S. Airline

TripAdvisor®, the travel planning and booking site, today announced the winners of its Travelers’ Choice® awards for airlines, identifying travelers’ favorite carriers around the globe. For 2018, Singapore Airlines was named the number one airline in the world and Southwest Airlines ranked as the best U.S. carrier. Award winners were determined using an algorithm that took into account the quantity and quality of airline reviews and ratings submitted by travelers worldwide, over a 12-month period on TripAdvisor Flights.

TripAdvisor New  Logo

TripAdvisor Logo

Following the success of last year’s inaugural Travelers’ Choice awards for airlines, the 2018 award categories expanded to honor 69 airlines that provide exceptional value and service across the world. In addition to the world list, the Traveler’s Choice awards recognize the best airlines in seven regions including Asia, Europe, North America, Latin America, South Pacific & Oceana, Africa & Indian Ocean, and the Middle East. The awards also recognize the top airlines in four distinct service classes: International First Class, Business Class, Premium Economy and Economy. The hallmarks of Travelers’ Choice award winners are outstanding service, quality and value.

Class of Service Global Winners: Recognizing airlines around the world that provide a consistently exceptional passenger experience in each cabin

Best First Class: Singapore Airlines, Singapore
Best Business Class: Qatar Airways, Qatar
Best Premium Economy: Air New Zealand, New Zealand
Best Economy: Singapore Airlines, Singapore

We’re thrilled to recognize the global TripAdvisor community’s favorite airlines and shine a spotlight on the carriers around the world that provide the very best flying experiences,” said Bryan Saltzburg, senior vice president and general manager for TripAdvisor Flights. “As the airline industry introduces new fare products and a widening array of in-flight offerings, consumers continue to seek out the carriers that deliver value and a quality experience. The Travelers’ Choice awards for airlines recognize the carriers that exceed passenger expectations and receive top marks from travelers.

Asian Carriers Flying High
Among the global top 10, Asian carriers dominated with four airlines on the list (Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines, EVA Air and Korean Air); followed by the Middle East with two airlines (Emirates and Qatar Airways).

Top 10 Airlines in the World: Recognizing airlines around the world that deliver consistently exceptional experiences to the global traveler

1. Singapore Airlines, Singapore
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
I flew from Sydney to Singapore in business class. The food was the best I have had in the last ten years. Service was great and the staff actually wanted to be there. One of the best, if not the best airline.”

2. Air New Zealand, New Zealand
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
The flight attendants are friendly, courteous, professional, and dedicated to customer service. The dinner was excellent, even in Economy class, and there was complimentary NZ red and white wine. Even the safety videos are entertaining. I wouldn’t fly any other airline between the U.S. and New Zealand.

3. Emirates, United Arab Emirates
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
This airline is the essence of style, class and comfort. Everything I had expected was surpassed. From their presentation, to their service, which is professional, but does not override their personable approach to travellers. The Airbus is huge, but the atmosphere within is comfortable, seats are wider, windows are bigger.

4. Japan Airlines, Japan
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
This airline carrier is exquisite and features great on board meal service, drink service, and the entertainment is great. They provide excellent service with exceptional leg room. This airline is truly above most others and comes with outstanding crew members.”

5. EVA Air, Taiwan
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
One of the things that separates EVA out from other airlines is in the little things. I was blown away by the novelty of the “Character” flight we took. Everything from the pillows to the meals – it was Hello Kitty cuteness overload. Kids’ meals are excellent. These small personal touches made our entire flight experience so much nicer!”  

6. Southwest Airlines, United States
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
We choose to fly Southwest whenever we can. Their flights are on time and the service is friendly and efficient. We don’t mind not having assigned seats. Bags fly free, and we always check ours. Frequent Flier miles are easy to accumulate with their membership program.

7. Jet2.com, United Kingdom
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
We have just come back from Portugal and all I can say is what a fab service from jet 2. From start to finish, they made my holiday less stressful. I have never been with them before and can certainly say they’re better than most other companies I have been with.”

8. Qatar AirwaysQatar
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
I’ve traveled a lot in my life and Qatar is one of my favourite airlines to travel with. The bar in a380 (business class) is the best. The service regardless of class is fab. The treatment of frequent fliers is great… food very tasty for economy … and very big portions… Entertainment is top notch. They are one of my favourite airlines for eco travel.”

9. Azul, Brazil
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
Azul is a lovely airline, employing a fleet of Embraer regional jets offering 2 + 2 seating. Service is efficient and you always get a package of “aviõezinhos” (airplane shaped gummy bears) to chew on the short domestic hops.”

10. Korean Air, South Korea
According to a TripAdvisor reviewer: “
We traveled from Chicago to Hong Kong with our toddler, and could not have been more pleased with the experience. Basic economy on KA is basically economy plus on other (especially US-based) airlines. The flight staff actually made me like the experience, rather than detract from it. I’ll be flying KA whenever possible in the future.

We are honoured to be this year’s recipient of the Best Airline in the World title in the prestigious TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards for Airlines 2018. The award is a validation of the hard work and dedication of our thousands of staff all around the world, who focus their attention every day on ensuring that Singapore Airlines remains competitive on a global level,” said Singapore Airlines’ CEO, Mr. Goh Choon Phong. “Our business model is based around three main pillars – product leadership, service excellence and network connectivity. We are continuing to invest heavily in all three areas to ensure we have industry-leading offerings that meet and exceed our customers’ expectations, both on the ground and in the air. Continue reading

National Museum of African American History and Culture Offers Walk-Up Wednesdays in April

The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture has announced Walk-Up Wednesdays for the entire month of April 2018. Individuals who walk up without timed-entry passes may enter the museum on a first-come, first-served basis Wednesdays, April 11, 18 and 25. Walk-up entry is subject to building capacity. The museum already has issued advance timed passes for the entire month of April. Individuals who already have advance timed passes will receive priority entry. The museum is launching Walk-Up Wednesdays in April as a pilot to test no-pass entry.

National Museum of African American History and Culture logo

National Museum of African American History and Culture logo

The National Museum of African American History and Culture opened Sept. 24, 2016, on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. Occupying a prominent location next to the Washington Monument, the nearly 400,000-square-foot museum is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history.

Walk-Up Wednesdays in April will help us to determine how to manage visitor demand,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, the museum’s founding director. “We are honored and humbled to have struck such a chord with our visitors. They stay an average of four-and-a-half hours on weekdays. We don’t want to disappoint our visitors by reaching capacity and having them wait in long lines for space to become available inside the galleries. The goal of this pilot program is to provide greater access for the public while maintaining the safety and security of our visitors.”

Pass Holders

· Individuals with advance timed-entry passes for Wednesdays in April may enter according to the time stated on their passes.

Group Visits

· The museum will continue to require advance timed passes for groups of 10 or more.

· All groups are required to present passes to gain entry to the museum.

Same-Day Online

· Same-day online passes will not be issued on Wednesdays in April.

For more information on timed passes and Walk-Up Wednesdays, visit https://nmaahc.si.edu/walk-wednesdays-april. For more information about the museum, visit nmaahc.si.edu, follow @NMAAHC on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat—or call Smithsonian information at (202) 633-1000.

“No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” Opens March 30 at Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery

Exhibition Brings Large-Scale Installations From Famed Desert Gathering to Washington

Cutting-edge artwork created at Burning Man, the annual desert gathering that is one of the most influential events in contemporary art and culture, will be exhibited in the nation’s capital for the first time this spring. “No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” will take over the entire Renwick Gallery building, exploring the maker culture, ethos, principles and creative spirit of Burning Man. Several artists will debut new works in the exhibition. In addition to the in-gallery presentation, the Renwick exhibition will expand beyond its walls for the first time through an outdoor extension titled “No Spectators: Beyond the Renwick,” displaying sculptures throughout the surrounding neighborhood.

Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, Totem of Confessions, 2015. Photo by Daniel L Hayes.

Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, Totem of Confessions, 2015. Photo by Daniel L Hayes.

Burning Man is both a cultural movement and a thriving temporary city of more than 75,000 people that rises out of the dust for a single week each year in late summer in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert. During that time, enormous experimental art installations are erected, some of which are then ritually burned to the ground. The desert gathering is a uniquely American hotbed of artistic ingenuity, driving innovation through its philosophies of radical self-expression, community participation, rejection of commodification and reverence for the handmade.

The scale, the communal effort and the technical challenges inherent in creating works for the desert are part of what sets Burning Man apart from other art experiences,” said Stephanie Stebich, The Margaret and Terry Stent Director of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “It is an amazingly creative laboratory where innovators go to play and to push the boundaries of their craft. Displaying the art of Burning Man at the Renwick is the latest example of our focus on new directions in craft and making.”

FoldHaus, Shrumen Lumen, 2016. Photo by Rene Smith.

FoldHaus, Shrumen Lumen, 2016. Photo by Rene Smith.

Nora Atkinson, the museum’s Lloyd Herman Curator of Craft, is organizing the exhibition in collaboration with the Burning Man Project, the nonprofit organization responsible for producing the annual Burning Man event in Black Rock City, for facilitating and extending the culture that has issued from Burning Man into the wider world and for cultivating its principles reflecting an immediate, non-commercial and participatory culture. The outdoor extension of the exhibition is presented in partnership with Washington, D.C.’s Golden Triangle Business Improvement District, a 43-square-foot neighborhood that stretches from the White House to Dupont Circle. The Burning Man community across the globe was instrumental in suggesting artworks for inclusion in the exhibition.

No Spectators: The Art of Burning Man” opens March 30, 2018. The Renwick is the sole venue for the exhibition, which will close in two phases. The first floor will showcase works by Candy Chang, Marco Cochrane, Duane Flatmo, Michael Garlington and Natalia Bertotti, Five Ton Crane Arts Collective, Scott Froschauer, Android Jones and Richard Wilks and will close Sept. 16, 2018. The second floor, featuring works by David Best, FoldHaus Art Collective, Aaron Taylor Kuffner, HYBYCOZO (Yelena Filipchuk and Serge Beaulieu), Christopher Schardt and Leo Villareal, will remain on view through Jan. 21, 2019. “No Spectators: Beyond the Renwick,” will be presented in the surrounding neighborhood through December 2018. Continue reading

A World of Adventure Awaits: Royal Caribbean Brings Together Bold Itineraries and Unrivaled Innovations for 2019-2020 Season

Cruise Line Inspires Adventure with Industry-Changing Ships Sailing to More Destinations than Ever

Royal Caribbean International‘s expanding global footprint is evident in the 2019-2020 deployment plans, thanks to having unparalleled product offerings in the Caribbean, four new ports of call in Europe, and the first-ever Quantum Class ship to visit the Alaskan frontier. Combined with newly transformed ships designed to offer an unmatched short Caribbean vacation, Royal Caribbean is offering more adventures than ever for guests of all ages.Royal_Caribbean_International_logo

More Ways to See the Caribbean

Royal Caribbean is changing the game when it comes to short Caribbean cruise vacation offerings. Newly modernized and purposefully redesigned with families in mind, two of the cruise line’s Voyager Class shipsMariner of the Seas and Navigator of the Seas – will sail 3- and 4-night itineraries to The Bahamas. Touting favorites unique to Royal Caribbean, and new features catering to emerging trends and traveler preferences, both ships will represent the best product in the industry offering short, weekend vacations to the Caribbean. Mariner will sail from Port Canaveral, Florida, while Navigator will be based in Miami where guests will be welcomed through Royal Caribbean’s new, state-of-the-art Terminal A in PortMiami. Voyager Class changed the industry by introducing unexpected activities and adventures, including the rock-climbing wall, ice-skating rink and Royal Promenade. Together with some exciting new features, they will be perfect introductions for first-time guests and families, who are short on time, to experience the best of the Caribbean in a weekend.

Travelers from the Southwest also seeking short Caribbean getaways can take advantage of 4- and 5-night sailings on Enchantment of the Seas from Galveston, Texas to various destinations in Mexico, year-round. Short Caribbean itineraries will be available to book the week of Nov. 20, 2017. All itineraries will be available to book by Crown & Anchor Society loyalty members one day prior to the general opening date.

All four of the world’s largest cruise ships – Oasis of the Seas, Allure of the Seas, Harmony of the Seas and Symphony of the Seas – will set sail from Florida in 2019 through April 2020. Oasis of the Seas, the first ship in its class, will undergo a bow-to-stern transformation before homeporting at Royal Caribbean’s custom-built Terminal A at PortMiami for the fall and winter seasons, alongside her newest record-setting sister ship, Symphony of the Seas, which will be a year-round Miami resident. Continue reading

Smithsonian Launches Kickstarter for Culture-Defining “Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap”

Unique Collaboration Between the Hip-Hop Community, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

The Smithsonian has launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign today for the Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap, a powerful cultural statement told through an unequaled combination of music, text and stunning visuals. The compilation, to be produced and released by Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, includes nine CDs, more than 120 tracks and a 300-page book with extensive liner notes, essays by artists and scholars, and never-before-published photographs from the National Museum of African American History and Culture’s collection. This campaign allows dedicated fans the chance to be a part of the community that helps bring this landmark project to life—and into their homes.

(Kickstarter has enabled the funding of more than 132,00`0 projects with the support of more than 13 million backers pledging over $3.3 billion since it began in 2009.)nmaahc-national-museum-of-african-american-history-and-culture

The Kickstarter campaign to produce a hip-hop and rap anthology is one of the most important projects on contemporary history that the Smithsonian will ever undertake, because it shows that Smithsonian’s work is as much about today and tomorrow as it is about yesterday,” said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture. “Hip-hop is a musical revolution that embodies the voice of an entire generation and that’s why it’s important for the museum to partner with the hip-hop community and Folkways Recordings to tell this story. Hip-hop helps us to understand the power of black music and the impact of African American culture on the world.

HHKC Image

Smithsonian Launches Kickstarter for Culture-Defining “Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap”

Going into its 70th year, Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, the “National Museum of Sound,” makes available close to 60,000 tracks in physical and digital format as the nonprofit record label of the Smithsonian, with a reach of 80 million people per year. A division of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, the non-profit label is dedicated to supporting cultural diversity and increased understanding among people through the documentation, preservation, production, and dissemination of sound. Its mission is the legacy of Moses Asch, who founded Folkways Records in 1948 to document “people’s music” from around the world.

The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap will be the first collection to include music from every major label and dozens of independent label recordings. The anthology explores important issues and themes in hip-hop history, and it provides a unique window into the many ways hip-hop has created new traditions and furthered musical and cultural traditions of the African diaspora.

We have always been passionately committed to documenting and celebrating music with strong social impact,” said Huib Schippers, director and curator of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. “Hip-hop began in the 1970s as a distinctly African American urban culture that has since become a global phenomenon. This box set is a perfect addition to our catalog.” Continue reading