Cristalino Lodge Review – The Perfect Combination of Eco and Luxury in the Amazon

Cristalino Lodge Review – The Perfect Combination of Eco and Luxury in the Amazon

When a lodge is chosen by National Geographic as one of the 25 best eco-lodges in the world, you tend to expect good things. Such was the case with Cristalino Lodge, a sanctuary in the Amazon Jungle. But would Cristalino live up to our high expectations? Read on for our ultimate review!   The Vision   Cristalino Lodge all started when a Brazilian family dreamed of doing their part to preserve and protect the precious biodiversity of the Amazon. So, they did what any passionate environmentalist would do and bought over 28,000 acres of rainforest to create the first RPPN (Private National Heritage Reserve) in northern Mato Grosso, ensuring the reserve’s preservation in perpetuity. Cristalino Lodge takes up just a tiny portion of that land and seeks to protect the Amazon through education and sustainable tourism. Considering deforestation of the Amazon is still continuing at an enormous rate—and that by 2030 the Amazon could be reduced in size by 40%–Cristalino Lodge is an inspiring testament to taking action that makes a real difference.     The Accommodation     We’re guessing that it’s not easy to create a stylish but sustainable lodge in the middle of the Amazon—especially when said lodge is only accessible via a boat ride down a river. But despite whatever inherent difficulties, Cristalino Lodge is pulling off eco-luxury like we’ve never seen before.     Don’t get us wrong. You won’t find amenities like an infinity pool, a fully stocked mini-bar, air conditioning or satellite TV. (We would question the lodge’s commitment to sustainability if you did.) What you will find are comfortable bungalows integrated...
Getting Off the Beaten Track in Altos de Campana National Park, Panama

Getting Off the Beaten Track in Altos de Campana National Park, Panama

We’re suckers for a good view. It’s why we are currently slowing things down in Vidigal, one of Rio de Janiero’s pacified favelas, with million dollar views out to Ipanema and the surrounding sea. And it’s what first attracted us to a pit stop in Altos de Campana National Park, a biological reserve boasting a swoon-worthy vista of craggy peaks and deep valleys stretching out to the Pacific Ocean.   Just an hour outside of Panama City, Altos de Campana was Panama’s first national park, founded in 1966. But despite its long history and easy accessibility, the park remains relatively unknown by most travelers and even some Panamanians. Which is a shame, really, because we found the biological reserve and national park to be absolutely wonderful—and a must visit for anyone looking to escape the urban sprawl of Panama City. Surrounded by cool rolling mountains and lush secondary forest, the first thing we noticed upon our arrival at the park was the extreme drop in temperature and humidity—being perched 800 meters above sea level will do that. Feeling like we had been walking around in a thick inch of sweat since our arrival in Panama, we relished the need to throw on a light jacket after sunset. The second detail we observed was how peaceful and serene the area felt. It was almost unbelievable that this dynamic landscape was just 55km from Panama City, and only a short drive away from the resort-lined beaches of Playa Coronado.     While most people who do visit Altos de Campana come for the day, we opted to extend our stay for...
Romance and Relaxation at Hotel Heritage in Bruges, Belgium

Romance and Relaxation at Hotel Heritage in Bruges, Belgium

    It doesn’t get more romantic than a weekend getaway to Bruges, Belgium.     With elegant canals, cobbled squares, medieval buildings and handcrafted chocolates, Bruges is the perfect place to fall in love with your special someone and also with Belgium. For such a romantic destination, an equally romantic hotel is only necessary. For this, there is Hotel Heritage.     Hotel Heritage is a boutique luxury hotel housed in a building that dates back to 1390. Over the years, the building has served many purposes, from merchant’s house to family home to central bank. It wasn’t until the early 1900s that the Creyton family purchased the building and converted it into the luxurious hotel it is today.     Our visit to Hotel Heritage was the perfect combination of 19th century style and 21st century amenities. Each of the 22 rooms is individually decorated with a diligent attention to detail. I had no trouble swooning over the décor that made use of hardcover books, typewriters, fresh flowers, candelabras and artwork.     Our room was extremely small, but still felt cozy-chic. The luxury, eco-friendly Nilson bed was the commanding feature, partially because it took up most of the space, partially because it was just so incredibly comfortable. The exquisite chandelier was another favorite detail of mine, while Dan found great amusement in the old-fashioned phone that actually functioned to call reception. Additional in-room amenities included an iPad with WiFi, a Nespresso machine, a trouser press, and a well-stocked mini-bar.     Hotel Heritage boasts a luxurious lounge, one of the most unique workout centers we’ve ever seen...
Our First Experience At An All-Inclusive Resort

Our First Experience At An All-Inclusive Resort

Mention the term all-inclusive resort and you’re bound to get a range of opinions. Some will likely say that all-inclusives are cesspools of tourists, devoid of any culture, and not a ‘real’ travel experience. Others will argue that they love the stress-free atmosphere at the resorts, even going so far to say they would never travel any other way. We’ve heard both sides of the argument plenty of times. But it was only earlier this year that we had the opportunity to form an opinion for ourselves. If you’re going to stay at an all-inclusive resort, where better to do it than in Cancun? Cancun is a Mecca for all-inclusives, coming in at nearly 200 in and around the ‘Hotel Zone’. We stayed at Fiesta Americana Condesa, a resort that tries to incorporate Mexican culture into the hotel’s theme and décor. While we didn’t feel transported to a traditional Mexican village, we did appreciate some of the small details that show how Fiesta Americana is trying to embrace the local culture. For example, the hotel is home to one of the largest thatched-roof palapas in the whole country, and its Mexican restaurant claims to take you on a culinary journey through all the regions of Mexico. From the moment we arrived at Fiesta Americana, we were treated like VIPs. Our spacious room looked straight out to the ocean. A welcome of fresh fruit and champagne was set up on a corner table. A telephone call from reception made sure we were satisfied with our room. For the duration of our stay, the staff went above and beyond to insure...
The Lofoten Islands: Paradise in the Arctic

The Lofoten Islands: Paradise in the Arctic

  The Arctic Circle is known for many things, namely Santa Claus, the Northern Lights, long summer days and endless winter nights. But sitting 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle also lies a surprising island paradise and one of Norway’s most scenic destinations: the Lofoten Islands. The Lofoten Islands are harsh and dramatic, with tumultuous weather conditions and craggy mountaintops that tower above icy water. But despite the archipelago’s rugged nature, there are also plenty of charming details, such as the traditional stark-red fisherman cabins, the rows of codfish hanging out to dry, and the boats that slowly sail through the fjords to deliver mail to the area’s unlikely inhabitants.     We only had one day of good weather during our visit to Lofoten, but that was all it took for us to fall in love with it. Have a glimpse at this spectacular collection of islands and see why: The Lofoten Islands: Paradise in the Arctic     A Few Travel Tips For Visiting The Lofoten Islands   Sleep in a traditional fisherman cabin Rorbuer are the traditional red fisherman cabins that dot the islands. Typically you’ll find them in groups, with one end firmly planted on land, the other end suspended by polls in the water. Some of the rorbuer are still used by fisherman in Lofoten, though now they are primarily used to rent out to tourists.     Eliassen Rorbuer is the oldest fishermen cabin village in Lofoten, located on the teeny tiny island of Hamnøy. This is where we stayed in Lofoten, and we could not have imagined a more ideal place...
3 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Punta de Mita, Mexico

3 Reasons Why You Need to Visit Punta de Mita, Mexico

It was by accident that we first stumbled upon Punta de Mita, Mexico. We were driving south along the Riviera Nayarit coastline, on the lookout for hidden gems surrounding our temporary home in San Pancho and close to Puerto Vallarta. It was one of those days when we didn’t ask for any advice or directions, but instead just got on our motorcycle and drove, occasionally stopping at sandy strips along the way. At first nothing convinced us to stay for long, but that was only until we arrived at the idyllic beachfront village of Punta de Mita. We took one look at the beach and the fresh pineapple juice vendors before getting off the bike and on the sand, officially trading in our road trip for an extended afternoon siesta.     Later when we returned to San Pancho singing praises of the ‘hidden gem’ we had just discovered, we learned that Punta de Mita isn’t exactly the top-secret Mexican destination we thought. Celebrities like Orlando Bloom and Demi Moore have vacationed there, while a handful of chain luxury resorts have set up accommodation nearby. But despite this brush with fame, Punta de Mita still feels like a small, authentic fishing village. And it was this authenticity that sparked our ongoing love affair with the beach town.     Of course there are plenty of beautiful beaches and sleepy fishing villages around the world. But Punta de Mita boasts a few extra characteristics that are sure to charm. Here are 3 to get you interested—we’ll let you discover the rest for yourself.     1. The Humpback Whales  ...