Before I round up the final few days of the J5Travel team trip to Phuket, Thailand, it's been a week where I finally feel the travel universe has turned the corner, the world is truly reopening, and I'm excited for the future, instead of nervous.
With the caveat that you MUST be vaccinated, here are the new announcements from just this week:
- - opening a travel lane with USA November 8th.
- - yes, we jumped through about 50 hoops to make this trip in October, but from next Monday the whole country opens up to 10 countries and USA is one of them.
- Chile and Argentina
- both reopening on November 1st.
- Grand Cayman
- Opening November 20th. We think you have about 3 days to book festive season here, before it is sold out!
- There are also partial reopenings announced for Vietnam, Malaysia and Cambodia.
In other news and of particular interest to our largest market out of Charlotte, NC, American Airlines has a complete revamp of its loyalty program in store for us in 2022. More on that next week as I need to digest it all a little first, it looks a tad complicated!
Meanwhile here's the top 5 from the final week of the team's visit to Phuket. We're back, jetlagged, but working hard and it really was a sensational experience for us all.
Top 5 - Phuket Sandbox, part 3
1. Amanpuri (above and below)
Our last week saw us visiting several Virtuoso properties on the island as well as staying at one of the best of them. Aman Hotels and Resorts sit at the pinnacle of the ultraluxe category. They have 33 properties around the world and we know from our clients that their 2 US resorts, Amangiri (Utah) and Amangani (Jackson Hole) are as special as they come.
We were privileged to enjoy a long site inspection at Amanpuri which was the very first Aman property. It retains to this day that exclusive calm that can prove so elusive. I will let the photos do the talking.
2. Banyan Tree Phuket (above and below)
Banyan Tree Phuket was the fourth Virtuoso Travel property of our trip that we visited. A larger resort than the more intimate hotels earlier in our itinerary, it is a perfect fit for families and has greater activity opportunities including a championship golf course. Just as Amanpuri a few miles away was Aman's first ever property, so this was Banyan Tree's first. We all were particularly impressed with the 2-bedroom luxury pool villas, all recently upgraded and with a stunning layout.
3. Trisara Villa Residences (above and below)
I think the team agreed that we saved the best for last and Trisara Phuket deserves some singling out. By the way that is a "trade secret"...when creating a multi-stop itinerary, save the best to last!
There is a strong trend globally encouraging large Villa residences. Often developed to sell as individual properties the owners then part lease them back to the associated hotel's management enabling travelers to experience stunning homes on vacation with the full service of a resort. We thought that Anantara Layan's residences were beyond incredible, yet here at Trisara, we viewed a 65,000sq ft (I promise not a typo) 7-bedroom Villa that is mind-blowing.
4. Trisara Phuket (above and below)
If you're not traveling with extended family or a group of friends then the regular 1 and 2 bedroom villas are your choice, except that they are anything but regular. Blending traditional Thai design and modern simplicity, the interiors feature luxury furnishings in warm neutral colors. Spacious sleeping areas offer high ceilings and overlook your villa’s private pool, gardens and the wide-open seas. Then the rest of the resort is equally stunning and also includes Thailand's only Michelin-star restaurant outside of Bangkok.
Looking forward to business class with Qatar Airways (above) when you have a near 30-hour itinerary is pretty much a lifesaver, and as I repeatedly seem to say, it didn't let me down. Thanks to some great and unusual award availability 2 of the team were also able to experience this. My aerial shot of Doha (below) as we took off for Boston came out pretty well and as I viewed from above a couple of the soccer stadiums that are nearing completion for next years FIFA World Cup Finals, I started to seriously consider that I may well make that trip to see England or USA win it all! If there are any soccer fans out there who wish to experience a World Cup, drop me a line, as I will have access to some great packages, and Qatar is going to make it spectacular.
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I love travel and I love travel planning just as much and I am proud to be building a team as passionate about exploring the world as myself. It took me a very long time to align my career with my undeniable passion for exploring, but now I and the team are here for you. Your personal travel tailors - award reservation and luxury custom itinerary experts.
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