This tour operator is launching a bunch of private jet tours to some of the hottest destinations

Remote Lands, the luxury tour operator offering bespoke travel and small-group private jet journeys is proud to announce their newest expedition within their remarkable travel collection. From Jan. 21, 2023, to Feb. 4, 2023, Remote Lands will offer an extraordinary itinerary through the United States, Bermuda, Turks and Caicos, Dominican Republic, and Mexico. Throughout this 14-night journey, just 14 guests will fly aboard a gorgeous Global Express 6000 jet and stay in five sumptuous AMAN properties for a magnificent travel experience.

New York (Jan. 21-23)

Guests will begin their journey at the newly opened Aman New York in New York City, home to world-class museums, rousing Broadway performances and acclaimed restaurants and nightlife. With 83 guest rooms and suites designed by renowned architect Jean-Michel Gathy in the iconic Crown Building in the heart of midtown Manhattan at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, guests will enjoy their very own metropolitan adventure. Itinerary options will include unmissable stops to the Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met), Central Park, Empire State Building, a private helicopter tour and much more.

Bermuda and Turks & Caicos (Jan. 23-26)

En route to Turks and Caicos is a touch down on the British colonial island of Bermuda, where guests will explore the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St. George Old Town and walk on the incredible pink sand beaches.

 

Delving deeper into the tropics is Turks and Caicos, at the southern tip of the Bahamian Archipelago with the some of the world’s most spectacular coral reefs and beaches. Guests will have flexibility in choosing from an array of activities on both land and sea, including house reef snorkeling, kiteboarding, hobie cat sailing, yacht excursions and more. A beachside cocktail party with a well-known marine biologist as well as a kayak eco-tour spotlighting the iguana sanctuary and coastal ecology of the island rounds out the stay. For this leg of the journey, guests will stay in Amanyara’s fabulous Pavilions nestled amidst 18,000 acres of tranquil nature preserves.

Dominican Republic (Jan. 26 – 29)

The third stop on the jet adventure is the Dominican Republic, one of the Caribbean’s most geographically diverse countries touting rich, cultural experiences perfect for the curious traveler. Itinerary highlights include immersive day trips into the destination’s very best gems: Colonial Santo Domingo, a quaint fifteenth-century city and Puerto Plata, the oldest town in the area that offers spectacular city and coast views. Additional options include a private ceviche cooking class with a top local chef as well as reef and wreck diving in Sosua amidst 20 different dive sites. To celebrate the very best of the traditions within the Dominican Republic, a private rum and cigar class led by Juan Carlos Albert of Arturo Fuento will educate guests on how to blend, roll and distinguish cigars.

 

Guests will stay at Amanera, a luxurious sanctuary located around a verdant jungle with panoramic ocean views, perched above the golden sands of Playa Grande Beach.

 

Canyon Point, Utah (Jan.29 – Feb. 1)

A gorgeous vestige of the wild West, Canyon Point is cradled by a staggering landscape of dramatic canyons, mountains, rapids, gorges and desert, with traces of human life dating back 10,000 years. Here, the extraordinary accommodations of Amangiri await travelers, serving as the perfect backdrop of unobstructed desert and canyon views. Activities pay homage to the destination, including a three-hour canyon hike led by a Navajo guide, and petroglyph and ancient culture exploration with an expert guide at Broken Arrow Cave to learn about 6,000 years’ worth of local history. Additional activities include via ferrata climbing, Amangiri’s on-property rock-climbing site; Zion National Park; UTV excursions; hot air balloon rides and a helicopter ride over the Grand Canyon. To wind down, spa treatments, cocktails and dinners inspired by Navajo tribal cuisine and an array of resort activities await. 

 

Jackson Hole, Wyoming (Feb. 1 – 4)

The final stop in this great North American journey is Jackson Hole, Wyoming, a destination beckoning nostalgia of the American West and flanked by dramatic mountain ranges. Amangani, meaning ‘peaceful home,’ abides by its namesake by sitting at the nexus of extraordinary wilderness full of abundant wildlife. The choices of activities are plentiful, including skiing across a range spanning over 2,500 acres; snowshoeing in Grand Teton National Park; dog sledding; heli-skiing; a private tour of Yellowstone National Park; sunset sleigh rides and more.

 

“My favorite itineraries include lots of scenic and cultural diversity, which Adventures in the Americas has in abundance across five different countries,” said Catherine Heald, CEO and Co-Founder of Remote Lands. “We visit tropical islands, snowcapped mountains, remote deserts, big cities, charming villages, UNESCO World Heritage sites and great natural wonders of the world aboard a gorgeous Global 6000 private jet.”

 

The Adventures in the Americas journey will be led by Remote Lands’ CEO and Co-founder, Catherine Heald, on January 21 – February 4, 2023. This trip is priced at $112,888 per person, with a single supplement of $39,888. Children are welcome. While Remote Lands will not require proof of vaccination, travelers must abide by all local government health protocols within each destination. To learn about the Americas journey and other luxe excursions, please visit www.remotelands.com.

A person swings from a rope above a sunken lake or quarry. The clear pool of water is surrounded by rock walls and climbing roots and vines.

See a new side of the Mexican Caribbean

How to explore like a local on your next trip


Home to some of the best beaches, gastronomy, and culture in the world, the Mexican Caribbean is a popular destination for Canadian travellers. In recent years, a multitude of new tourist attractions and luxury boutique hotels have opened in the region. However, the destination is also home to untapped local experiences, which offer a new side of the Mexican Caribbean for travellers to explore. 

Known for its status as a leading entertainment hub, Cancun’s allure extends to its restaurants, too. The centre of the city is home to the iconic El Parque de Las Palapas, an open-air park just a short walk from Tulum Ave. where diners can taste Mexican and regional dishes, like their famous marquesitas. A few steps away is La Ruta Nader, a street lined with restaurants ranging from Italian to more traditional Mexican food. 

Riviera Maya hosts an endless array of unique experiences for visitors, however select places that are frequented by locals remain off the beaten path. One such local favourite is Xpu-Ha beach, home to Serenity Beach Club. For another beach club experience, the latest trend in Tulum is cenote clubs like Buuts’Ha’ – this space offers food, music, and activities inside some of the region’s most stunning cenotes. 

Cozumel island is bursting with hidden gems, like the Benito Juarez Municipal Market. For over 30 years, this public market has sold fresh produce, regional treats, handmade tortillas and artisan souvenirs. The market is adorned by a large central mural displaying symbols of the island, like endemic wildlife, local garments, important historical figures, and more. Even more murals in Cozumel can be found at Cozumel Sea Walls, by the non-profit PangeaSeed Foundation. This urban ‘artivist’ project is a collection of 36 murals by contemporary artists from 12 countries, each looking to raise awareness of marine preservation through art. 

Visitors can also walk the charming neighbourhood of El Cedral to experience authentic Cozumel island life. Once a worship ground for Mayan gods, today El Cedral is the site of the annual Día de la Santa Cruz festival held each spring, which celebrates the 21 founding families that established Cozumel after the Caste War in 1848. Cool down with a visit to Chempita Cenote, a cave located in Quintana Roo, which is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike. 

Art lovers can head to the State Congress in the Quintana Roo capital city of Chetumal for breathtaking murals. Walking along the boardwalk watching the sunset overlooking the Bay of Chetumal while eating a machacado is also a must in the area.



6 of the coolest things to do in the Caribbean this summer

For many countries in the Caribbean, this summer marks the return of many significant events that were postponed due to the pandemic. From music festivals to foodie experiences, and even self-care indulgence, here are six fun experiences to try in the Caribbean.

ANTIGUA

Running July 27 to Aug. 2, Antigua’s Carnival is back after a two-year hiatus. First celebrated in 1957, the week-long event kicks off with an opening celebration alongside the annual pageant, Jaycees Caribbean Queen Show. Aug. 1 is Carnival Monday, and it also marks Emancipation Day. Antigua and Barbuda have observed the abolition of slavery since 1834 and much of Antigua’s Carnival festivities commemorate the earliest abolition of slavery in the British Caribbean. A series of pre-festival events kick off in St. John’s, Antigua starting July 23, but the main event is the colourful Parade of the Bands which takes place on the last day.

https://visitantiguabarbuda.com 

GRENADA

Deeply rooted in ancestral traditions, Spicemas is one of the largest summer festivals in Grenada. Starting with a month-long series of pre-carnival events, including soca competitons the Traditional Mas Festival (July 23) is a showcase and competition of traditional masquerade bands from all over the country. J’ouvert, from the French ‘jour ouvert’ meaning ‘day open’, is the pre-dawn parade (Aug. 8) and is the first of the street events. Gathering well before dawn on J’ouvert morning, revellers cover their bodies in paint, oil, tar, mud, molasses and even chocolate. Monday Night Mas is held that evening, and starting at dusk, large bands of revellers in brightly coloured or neon t-shirts and light-up paraphernalia parade through the streets. Spicemas 2022 concludes with the Parade of the Bands on Aug.9 puregrenada.com/events/spicemas-2022/ 

JAMAICA 

Running July 18 to July 23, those who travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica this summer won’t want to miss out on one of the hottest events of the year. Reggae SumFest kicks off on July 18 with a free street festival at Harmony Beach Park. A series of pre-event parties follow until Friday, July 22 which marks the kickoff of the main festival, where a series of talented acts will perform over the course of two evenings. reggaesumfest.com

MEXICO

UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya, the redefined, adults only all-inclusive hotel located in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, is back with its fourth annual gastronomy series, Superbia Summer. From July 11 to Aug. 21, the hotel’s multi-sensory experience will feature an all women roster of chefs, mixologists, and local artisans all coming together to showcase their talent from different regions of Mexico. Each week will feature one chef, one mixologist, and one artisan implementing their unique twist to transform the hotel’s experiences. https://www.unicohotelrivieramaya.com 

ST. MARTIN

Located in Grand Case, St. Martin, Tijon Perfumerie specializes in hosting custom perfume-making classes. Run by owner John Berglund, and his wife, Cyndi, Tijon bottles all of its perfumes by hand, and houses a perfume organ that contains more than 300 pure, essential oils. Guests will select three essential oils that target the top, middle, and base notes required to craft a signature scent. There are a variety of classes to choose from, including private classes and group classes. After naming their perfect perfume, guests can also opt to have the fragrance added to massage oils, lotions and creams, and even home and linen mists. tijon.com 

ST. LUCIA

Soak up the benefits of a detoxifying mud bath in Soufrière, St Lucia with a trip to the Sulphur Springs. Located at the site of a dormant volcano that last erupted in the 1700s, the mud baths are a popular tourist attraction thanks to the varying health benefits the mud provides. Said to alleviate a range of skin conditions including sun burns, eczema, arthritis, sore joints, and more, the sulphur springs are also conveniently located at the only drive-in volcano in the world! After visitors are finished soaking, they can wash off and enjoy a refreshing rainforest bath and a visit to a 15-metre tall waterfall. sulphurspringstlucia.com 

ST. KITTS & NEVIS

Taking place from June 23 to June 25, the St. Kitts Music Festival is back after a brief hiatus last year due to the pandemic. This year marks the 25th annual version of the event. Over the course of three days, a talented list of international and regional acts including Ashanti, Sean Paul and Keyshia Cole are all set to take the stage. In addition to the music, festival-goers can enjoy plenty of activities like beach parties, boat rides, and unforgettable afterparties. 

Stkittsmusicfestival.com




Three of the hottest new hotels to check out this summer

As the summer weather heats up, Canadians are eager to get out and explore again. Here’s a look at some memorable new hotels to check into across North America, Europe and beyond. 

Calilo, Greece  

The scenic boutique hotel Calilo first opened in 2019 as part of the Luxurious brand owned by Angelos Michalopoulos and Vassiliki Petridou. New this year are five reimagined EOS Collection suites, a new spa and wellness centre and a newly-appointed Executive Chef, Alexandros Tsiotinis, who will oversee the resort’s culinary offerings and launch two signature dining concepts.

The hotel features luxurious 1, 2 and 3-bedroom suites; multiple dining outlets, Rocks Pool Restaurant and private beach cabanas; wellness offerings like sunrise yoga and in-room spa treatments; exclusive experiences like private boat excursions, culture trips, wine tasting and dinner under the stars; and a variety of spaces for weddings and events.

The family has left 95% of the land undeveloped, in order to sustain Ios’ natural beauty, and made use of construction material extracted from the ground of the actual building site like marble and stone-granite.

Calilo also has several conservation projects including the Elektra olive tree project, where they have planted over 60,000 trees and bushes from around the island to restore the habitat that had previously been burned by wildfire and land deforestation, including 550 ancient olive trees (some more than 300 years old) which were saved from being sold for wildfire in Athens. 

Hyatt Place LAX

The newly opened Hyatt Place LAX is an airport hotel travellers will actually want to spend time in — and not just to sleep. The dual branded hotel (Hyatt Place LAX for longer stays) is conveniently located a short 24/hour a day shuttle ride from the airport and with a prime location that offers some viewing perks. The hotel offers the tallest outdoor pool in the Los Angeles Airport District and the rooftop ShoresLAX Restaurant & Bar features views of LAX runways and the lights of downtown Los Angeles.

The 15th floor location is a relaxing spot to watch watch planes landing over pints of craft beer or cocktails, tacos and other options like New York strip with avocado salad and garlic fries. The hotel offers 401 rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows offering natural light and front row views of planes arriving and departing from the runway. Along with overnight stays, this is also a great option for travellers looking to make the most of a lengthy layover in Los Angeles. Additional perks include free breakfast and WiFi, and onsite amenities include large fitness centre.

XIXIM Mundo Imperial

XIXIM Mundo Imperial is set to open this fall offering a blend of total wellness immersion with all-inclusive comfort within a nature reserve with miles of private beaches.

XIXIM, part of Mundo Imperial Entertainment & Hospitality, will open with 32 suites available for reservations beginning this fall. Each suite will be set within a cabin with traditional palm-thatched roofs and feature a terrace with hammocks overlooking the ocean.

The Mayan-inspired resort will feature amenities like a wellness dome and a temazcal. XIXIM is located 90 minutes from the Mérida airport and 10 kilometres north of the town of Celestún.

TEXT BY: ANN RUPPENSTEIN

A 500-room luxury hotel with private plunge pools is opening in one of Mexico’s hottest neighbourhoods

Opening in 2024, Grand Hyatt Cancún Beach Resort is a new-build resort coming to Quintana Roo, Mexico.

Situated in the eastern part of the Yucatan Peninsula with expansive views overlooking the Caribbean Sea and nearby Isla Mujeres, Grand Hyatt Cancún Beach Resort will be a captivating destination, featuring 500 guestrooms, of which 28 guestrooms feature their own plunge pool, and 46 are luxury suites, including one Presidential Suite; 11 dining concepts that will feature world-class chefs and iconic dishes reflective of the destination; six bars, including a lobby lounge bar, pool bar, and beach shack; an indoor and outdoor destination spa area and fitness center to connect guests with their physical and mental wellbeing; three swimming pools; and more than 16,000 square feet of dynamic, state-of-the-art gathering spaces designed to accommodate events of any size and kind. Additional offerings and amenities will include a kids club, activity center, business centre and retail shops.

The resort will be located within Puerto Cancún, a master-planned residential resort community that includes a full-service marina, golf course, resorts, time-share, condominiums, single-family homes, state-of-the-art fitness and recreation centre, protected natural reserve, and a lifestyle shopping mall offering an open-air shopping experience with over 220 tenants including fine dining, art galleries and children’s entertainment activities. A newly developed resort cluster will include the new Grand Hyatt Cancún Beach Resort.

Strategically located between downtown Cancún and the Cancún Hotel Zone, Puerto Cancún intends to merge dynamic city life with a resort experience and environment, positioning the new Grand Hyatt hotel as an attractive destination for tourists and locals alike.

An all-female team of chefs and artisans are bringing their talent to this luxury Mexico hotel

UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya, the redefined, adults only all-inclusive hotel located in the heart of the Yucatan peninsula, has announced the women-powered line-up for its fourth annual gastronomy series, Superbia Summer.

From July 11 to Aug. 21, the hotel’s multi-sensory experience will feature an all women roster of chefs, mixologists, and local artisans all coming together to showcase their talent from different regions of Mexico. Each week will feature one chef, one mixologist, and one artisan implementing their unique twist to transform the hotel’s experiences.

Additionally, this year’s event will also include a variety of pool activations, live entertainment and more. Superbia Summer invites guests to indulge in paradise and embark on a journey through the senses alongside the following talent:

  • July 11-17: Chef Marcela Bolaño, Mixologist Rocio Frias, Artisan Carina Barbachano

  • July 18-24: Chef Regina Escalante, Mixologist Mafer Tejeda, Artisan Cristina Arnedo

  • July 25-31: Chef Lupita Vidal, Mixologist (not confirmed), Artisan Juana Gomez

  • August 1-7: Chef Marta Zapata, Mixologist Fatima Leon, Artisan Claudia Ponce De Leon

  • August 8-14: Chef Adria Montano, Mixologist Claudia Cabrera, Artisan Paloma Santa Cruz

  • August 15-21: Chef Celia Florian, Mixologist Majo Cruz, Artisan Gaston Gallardo

“Women have always been at the forefront of UNICO 20º87º Hotel Riviera Maya’s identity. From ideation to execution, the hotel would not be what it is today without the powerful women-led team behind it. This year, on the heels of its fifth anniversary, we wanted to pay homage to our roots and bring in a number of exceptional women across the food, beverage and arts industries to showcase their talents,” said Irma Yeo, Director of Sales at UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya. “Incorporating a memorable multi-sensory event into a culturally immersive, all-inclusive experience while highlighting outstanding women demonstrates our commitment to offering our guests a curated, one-of-a-kind vacation.”

UNICO 20°87º Hotel Riviera Maya redefines the all-inclusive vacation experience and offers an unfiltered view of modern Mexico. From the concept, to the rustic-meets-modern design, and even the cultural art displayed around the property, UNICO 20°87° Hotel Riviera Maya is completely ideated by women.

Born out of a desire to create an unparalleled journey within the region while encompassing relaxed luxury and cultural immersion, UNICO 20°87° celebrates five years as the new standard for the sophisticated travellers looking for an all-inclusive vacation. Located south of Playa del Carmen in Mexico, this exceptional, adults only, all-inclusive hotel features 448 lavishly appointed guest rooms boasting predominantly ocean-views with semi-private swim-up pools on all ground floor rooms and outdoor double-hydro spa tubs on all remaining rooms, an in-room mini bar stocked by guest preferences, three expansive pools, a state-of-the-art wellness gym, a full-service spa, five globally-infused gourmet restaurants, six bars and lounges, and two swim-up bars. 

Mexico just got a new hotel and it’s home to the highest rooftop bar in Cabo

Occupying prime real estate along the coveted shores of Medano Beach in Cabo San Lucas is Corazón Cabo Resort & Spa, the newest addition to Noble House Hotels & Resorts’ elite collection.
 
Open as of Feb. 24, 2022, the hotel features a new-build tower with 204 rooms and suites, contemporary meeting space, the highest and most lavish rooftop bar in Cabo, two infinity edge pools, and various dining options.
 
Currently, guests can experience the modern guest rooms, pools, lobby and posh rooftop bar, while next year’s grand reveal will encompass the complete unveiling including the signature restaurant and fresh meeting space. In addition to the newly built tower and its amenities, guests also have access to pre-existing features enveloped into the Corazón Cabo Resort & Spa experience, including Baja Brewing, the only micro-brewery in Cabo San Lucas; Aleta, an oceanfront all-day dining destination; additional pools; full-service Sparitual and salon; and Corazón Beach Club, the largest beach club on Medano Beach, the only swimmable beach in Cabo San Lucas.
 
Photography By Francisco Estrada Photo Mexico Studio.
 
Standing nine stories high, the new Corazón Cabo Resort & Spa is topped off byRooftop360, which proudly holds the title of the highest rooftop bar in Cabo. The roomy and ritzy deck boasts unmatched views of the Sea of Cortez and enchanting city skyline, flanked by an infinity pool overlooking the sea. The bar evokes local charm with custom patterned cement tiles made in Todos Santos embellishing its façade, while string lights and chandeliers dangle from the signature, leaf-patterned pergola ceiling made of Palo-de-Arco, a material typically used in Baja.
 
The contemporary new build offers 187 hotel rooms and 17 luxury suites, ranging in size from 358to 945 square feet.With an envious location where the Sea of Cortez meets the Pacific Ocean, the building’s design by Mexican architect Arnoldo Rábago of RACO is inspired by the surrounding nautical elements, playing upon clean modern lines to offer somewhat of a departure from the typical Cabo model.

This stunning new luxury hotel in Tulum was designed with the help of local artisans

Located eight miles north of Tulum, in a secluded bay surrounded by a tropical forest and pristine Caribbean waters, the Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya is a 349-room resort that offers a retreat for guests seeking a transformative getaway, with curated signature restaurants, destination spa, oceanfront pools and access to Tulum’s celebrated sights and attractions.

In the heart of the world’s most exquisite natural wonders, from jungles and beaches to hidden cenotes and colorful flora and fauna, Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya is designed to give guests a deep connection with Tulum’s distinctive landscape. Upon entering the lobby, guests pass through ornate wooden doors, engraved by local artisans, and are immediately greeted by sweeping ocean views and an immersive art installation, a nod to ancient Mayan architecture and Tulum’s surroundings. 

The nature-inspired theme continues throughout the hotel’s thoughtfully designed guest rooms, incorporating organic elements such as stone, wood and metal. Boasting floor-to-ceiling windows with panoramic ocean views, guest rooms are designed with calming tones and elegant furnishings, each with their own private balcony and relaxation tub or plunge pools on the ground floor rooms.

Guests seeking additional space can enjoy a suite complete with a spacious living room and adjacent dining area for up to eight people, as well as a spa-inspired master bathroom complete with a soaking tub and rainfall shower.

A destination unto itself, Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya’s diverse dining options include five restaurants as well as six bars and lounges featuring globally inspired cuisine, casual poolside fare and world-class catering for meetings and events. Venues include energizing bar experiences serving up generous wine lists, regional spirits and refreshing tropical cocktails, and elevated dining experiences offering flavors of the world with innovative and local twists. A sample of the dining offerings at the hotel includes:

  • Autor: The resort’s most sophisticated dining experience is an ode to its chef or ‘author’ where guests experience a personalized culinary journey curated by Chef Jersaí Miranda.
  • Maratea: Features distinct cuisine inspired by the Mediterranean Basin from southern Spain to North Africa, Greece and Turkey.
  • Ukai: A sushi bar dedicated to the traditional Japanese fishing method, brought to life as a contemporary sushi counter committed to sustainable fishing.
  • Kengai: A Teppanyaki restaurant that merges classic Japanese and Southeast Asian techniques with local ingredients and styles, whose name is inspired by the Jacaranda tree, brought to Mexico by Japanese immigrants in the 20th century.
  • Chaak Bar: Named after the Mayan rain god and inspired by the cenotes where the Mayans would connect with him, Chaak Bar offers guests a place to seek shelter and recharge.
  • Cafetal: This upscale café and market are inspired by the traditional Tianguis, an economic and social gathering center in Mexican culture serving locally sourced coffee, snacks and all-day essentials.

Allowing travellers to discover new facets of well-being and self-fulfillment, the guest experience at Conrad Tulum Riviera Maya is characterized by a deep connection with the natural environment and to honor Tulum’s cultural traditions. Whether floating, snorkeling or kayaking in the crystal-clear bay waters or lounging in an oceanfront cabana by one of the five pools, guests can fully immerse themselves in this mystical paradise. 

Nestled within lush mangroves, the Conrad Spa Tulum, for example, is a destination purposefully designed as a wellness refuge.  Guests enjoy a wide range of services inspired by the legends of the Mayan gods and traditional Mexican herbalism in individual treatment rooms or “casitas.” Spa offerings include an extensive menu of body rituals, a sensory Water Ritual including an outdoor pool and thermal facilities and the Mayan Manteada, an ancient massage technique in which shawls are tied around the waist to relax and realign the body.

For guests looking for an enlightened sense of well-being and tranquility, the property has an in-house Shaman to perform ancient rituals like the purifying gratitude and sacred cenote ceremonies.

For more information, including photos, click here.

Explore the heart of Mexico with a visit to the colourful colonial city of Guanajuato

Known as the heart of Mexico, Guanajuato is home to boutique hotels, vibrant colonial cities, top notch tequila, gastronomical experiences, Instagrammable views and passionate people.

It’s hard to appreciate or understand just how much time goes into producing a bottle of tequila. That’s why one of the premium tequilas at the Tequila Corralejo distillery boasts the name 99,000 Hours to call attention to the lengthy amount of time it takes to create the añejo (old) spirit. 

“Eleven years and three months is the time of the whole process. From when the agave is planted until the harvest, it’s eight to 10 years. Then comes the process in the company [for roasting, distilling] and aging it for one year and a half,” says Nohemi Murillo, e-commerce manager and marketing executive at Tequila Corralejo. “The shape of this bottle is like a tree. It represents that we wait patiently to do something right. We are passionate and proud of the final result. We are so proud of our tequilas.”

The distillery is housed in a hacienda that’s roughly 1.5 hours from Guanajuato City and two hours from San Miguel de Allende, two colonial cities that are a must to visit in Guanajuato, which is also the name of the Mexican state. 

Here, a walking tour (free guided tours are available daily) reveals more insight into the process of making tequila, which can only be made using blue agave. Notably, you have to pass through a confessional to get to the storage area for Tequila Corralejo’s best tequilas, including 99,000 Hours.

The hacienda is open 365 days a year and produces its own bottles so along with an impressive collection of tequilas and whiskey to choose from, it’s an ideal spot to pick up glassware like vases and shot glasses. 

Murillo’s tour ends by sharing the product that’s at the heart of the business — the tequila that’s 99,000 hours in the making. With a smile on her face, she eagerly distributes a sample to everyone, passionately describing its smooth flavour profile. 

This passion winds up being a common theme across the people we encounter along the way over the next week across Guanajuato, from tour guides to restaurant owners to artists. Along with the highlights of the destinations themselves, it’s arguably the charm of the people that make the region known as The Heart of Mexico so special. 

It’s easy to see why San Miguel de Allende has become a popular spot for North American travellers. This city has a thriving culinary scene, delightful colonial Spanish architecture and photogenic boutique hotels. 

While Guanajuato City isn’t yet all well known in the Canadian market — it likely won’t be that way for long. For anyone looking for an alternative to their beach getaways or to tag on an authentic destination to a sunny stay, this UNESCO designated city offers something for everyone. With over 3,200 alleys to meander through, it’s indeed a city that’s best discovered by foot — and there’s a photo opportunity around every corner. For a stunning view of Guanajuato from above, take the funicular or steps up to Al Pipila monument. From below, the vibrant city almost appears toylike. 

Boutique luxury hotels are the norm across Guanajuato. In Guanajuato City, a great option is Casa del Rector, which has an awesome courtyard restaurant and a hard to top view of the colourful city from its rooftop bar. The boutique hotel also offers experiences like tequila and chocolate tasting with Jonathan Martinez of Xocola-T. Be prepared for chocolates with a twist — his creations have some unexpected ingredients like grasshoppers or fried pork skin, which pair surprisingly well with the chocolates. 

Another unique choice is Villa María Cristina, a member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The luxury villa has nineteenth-century roots and is like a labyrinth of discovery. For an Instagrammable stay near the tequila farms and plantations of Penjamo, look no further than Real de Piedra Hotel. If it looks straight out of a luxe magazine, it’s because the 20 room boutique hotel is owned by an interior decorator. For a modern hotel that’s steps away from the cobblestone street featuring one of the most iconic views of San Miguel, check into Hotel Matilda. Whether or not you spend the night, be sure to visit the rooftop Luna Rooftop Tapas Bar at Rosewood San Miguel de Allende for delicious tacos and spectacular views of the city. 

Travellers are drawn to Guanajuato for its boutique hotels, Spanish colonial architecture, gastronomical experiences and Instagrammable cities, but somewhere along the route you’ll discover it’s about so much more.  

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City at sunset

Here’s a list of all the places Canadians can travel to without a COVID test

For the better half of 2021, Canadians faced severe travel restrictions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. While certain measures, like the mandatory three-day quarantine upon re-entry to Canada, have been lifted, severe restrictions remain in place.

Many countries now require a negative PCR test, proof of vaccination, or both, to enter. Effective October 30, 2021, the government of Canada enacted a mandatory vaccination requirement for travel within and to depart Canada, which remains in place for all Canadians, with only some exceptions to the rule.

For those who are seeking an escape to a destination that has not yet mandated proof of a negative PCR test, here are five places to consider.

Mexico

Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City at sunset
Palacio de Bellas Artes, Mexico City.

Mexico requires a tourist card from any visitors to the country, but this is a practice that began well before the pandemic. Other than this documentation, there are no additional COVID-19 documents required for your stay, and testing and quarantine upon arrival is not mandatory. Typically, the airline you’re flying on will hand out the tourist card (often referred to as the immigration form) and you can fill it out prior to landing. Once you’ve landed, simply show the card to the customs officer along with your passport. Make sure you keep your tourist card safe and secure for the duration of your stay–a lost tourist card will result in a fine, and could cause problems during your departure from the country.

For the most up-to-date information on entry to Mexico, click here.

Colombia

Bright white stone streets of Cartagena, Coloumbia.
Cartagena, Colombia.

International travellers, including Canadians, are not required to submit a negative PCR test to gain entry to Colombia. However, you must fill out the mandatory Check-Mig registration form at least 24 hours prior to your flight. Face masks and additional health and safety measures remain in place throughout the country, and visitors are expected to follow all health and safety guidelines during their stay.

For the most up-to-date information on entry to Colombia, click here.

Costa Rica

Rio Celeste Waterfall at Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rica. The colour of the water is an exceptionally bright sky blue.
Rio Celeste Waterfall at Tenorio Volcano National Park in Guanacaste, Costa Rica.

The Government of Costa Rica does not require tourists entering by air, land or sea to present a negative COVID-19 test, nor quarantine upon arrival. However, all tourists are expected to abide by health and safety guidelines that have been put in place. All visitors must complete the digital form called Health Pass which can be accessed here. Vaccinated tourists must also attach their vaccination certificate to the Health Pass, and are required to provide proof of travel insurance with coverage for a minimum of five days during the duration of their stay.

For the most up-to-date information on entry to Costa Rica, click here.

Cuba

Havana, Cuba.

Like Mexico, Cuba has a mandatory tourist card that’s required for entry and is handed out by the airline. A negative PCR test is not required for vaccinated travellers, and all Health Canada approved vaccines and mixed vaccines are accepted. Children under the age of 12 are not required to show proof of vaccination or a negative test. Upon departure from Cuba, Canadians can pay a fee of $30 USD to receive the mandatory PCR test that is required to re-enter Canada. 

For the most up-to-date information on entry to Cuba, click here.

Dominican Republic

Miches, Dominican Republic.

Canadians are among the list of countries who do not need to present a negative COVID-19 test to gain entry to the Dominican Republic. However, random aleatory breath testing is in place upon arrival at select ports, which could apply to Canadians who are exempt from Canada’s vaccination rule. While proof of vaccination is not checked by officials upon arrival, those who wish to leave designated hotels and resorts affiliated with the Ministry of Tourism must show proof of complete vaccination (two valid doses) to enter bars, restaurants, and other facilities on the island.

For the most up-to-date information on entry to the Dominican Republic, click here.