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The Art of Living in Toronto

The Art of Living in Toronto

With its diverse communities, culture and cuisines, a weekend in Toronto is like a quick trip around the world.

Toronto is a city of neighborhoods. And what ties all these communities together is the love of culture. There are amazing galleries, theaters and concert halls celebrating art all over the city. Surrounded by buildings by internationally renowned architects and restaurants run by top chefs, Torontonians have elevated everyday life to an art form. Even jogging past the city’s exceptional outdoor murals and sculptures is an art experience.

Here’s an insider’s guide to nearby neighborhoods that you need to explore in The Six.

THE CROSSROADS OF CULTURE

The Shangri-La Hotel is the place to begin any explorations of Toronto because it bridges three dynamic neighborhoods: the Financial District with its towering skyscrapers and five star dining experiences; the Entertainment District, and Queen Street West, a unique shopping and dining strip.

In fact, your first engagement with Toronto’s globally celebrated cultural community begins just outside of the Shangri-La. The exterior of the hotel is home to the iconic sculpture, “Rising”, by Chinese artist, Zang Huan. Bringing the best the world has to offer together is, in fact, the city’s true talent.

After checking into the hotel, you’ll want to check out of your work week with a relaxing afternoon tea in the Lobby Lounge. The lobby is a hub where visitors and locals come together to take in daily live music performances played on the custom-made Fazioli Piano. It’s always buzzing, but after a busy work week, it also provides a zen-like sense of home, thanks to paintings by famed Shanghainese artist Wang Xu Yuan.

The Lounge is also home to a rotating exhibition of vintage couture fashions featuring designers such as, Alexander McQueen, YSL, Chanel, Versace and many others.

Performance Art

At night, you want to make the Entertainment district your destination. Take in an early dinner at Kojin from David Chang and Chef Paula Navarrete. Located above Momofuku, this vibrant restaurant serves a Columbian influenced lunch and dinner menu.

Then cross the road to the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts. It is home to the National Ballet Company and the Canadian Opera Company. The opera in particular is known for classic performances done in collaboration with visual and other artists such as performance artist Robert Lepage, director Atom Egoyan, and musician Rufus Wainwright. Just a short walk west down King Street, you can hear the symphony at Roy Thompson Hall. Or stroll over to see some live theatre in the nearby Entertainment District (Elgin and Wintergarden on Yonge Street, or the Royal AlexandraPrincess of Wales, on King).

In warm weather, you can talk about performances while taking in a nightcap on the rooftop bar at Lavelle for a masterpiece of a gin and tonic. Or return to the lobby for a delicious cocktail or two.

Good Morning

Toronto’s many outdoor art installations let you enjoy some inclusive culture while you wake up with a walk, bike, or run. Set your course to take you past the Bentway, the Stackt shipping container market or jog over to the Distillery District for many interactive and experiential installations. The concierge service at the Shangri-La is ultra-connected and can help you make a map of outdoor art (or coffee shops for a post jog pick-me-up.)

After your morning workout, relax with a pre-lunch treatment at the Miraj Hammam Spa on the fifth floor of the Shangri-La.

 

Madrid, a New Old City

Madrid, a New Old City

City on the verge

An empty street glazed with drizzle at 2am. You stare at the shuttered storefront thinking this can’t be right. They said Bar Cock is “a must”, and you skipped the childish joke about the name. Now, facing heavy metal blinds, you wonder what got lost in translation. But the door is ajar, warm light within and, you figure, what’s the worst that could happen?

Invisible city

Push past that off-putting intro into an Almodóvar film: a baronial hall glowing like amber, nocturnal creatures whisper in pairs in deep club chairs and dark wood that has surrounded Salvador Dalí, Ava Gardner, Hemingway (of course), and George Clooney, to name a few. Founded in 1921, and it feels it when the bow-tied waiter serves your martini.

That dissonance between what you’ve heard and what you see happens again and again in Madrid. Questioning the brutalist block that hides plush Hotel Villa Magna. Hunting conceptual art down an alley behind Atocha station, or a minimalist boutique in opulent Salamanca. Finding five-star Gran Hotel Inglés on a street clamoring with youth hostels. You’ll start to doubt Google Maps.

Outwardly austere, Madrid is easy to miss. On the avenues, temples cap monumental banks, imposing apartments and grand hotels. Behind them, shops huddle in ashy side streets beneath prim Juliette balconies and conservatory windows. If Barcelona feels flirty, feisty, Madrid is her stoic sister. Which doesn’t mean she’s dull—she just makes you earn it.

“It’s very Castillian,” says Javier Bone-Carbone, art curator and Taschen editor, referring to the culture of the Spanish heartland surrounding Madrid. Moorish modesty overlaid with Hapsburg grandeur lend the city a severe formality. But break that surface tension and you’ll discover its interior riches. “Madrid isn’t like Paris, with a checklist of landmarks to see,” explains Bone-Carbone, “it is about interaction.”

Haute hostelries

Two of Madrid’s best-kept-secret hotels exemplify its inward-facing character.

Since the 1970’s, Villa Magna is the choice for heads of state, movie stars and others wishing to fly below the radar. Built by a family on the site of their 19th-Century mansion, its modernist architecture is a departure, but one that casts the traditional style and warm hospitality within in an even brighter light. Later Turkish, Portuguese, and now Mexican owners added their own touches—a marble-lined hammam in the spa, new gardens—and expanded the art collection. Just 150 Empire-style rooms, villa-worthy bathrooms, and two penthouse apartments with vast terraces and views to the mountains feel like a well-staffed home. Shopaholics will appreciate the private passageway to a designer-curated outpost of El Corte Inglés. And don’t miss We Collect, a gallery and art club nestled in a Zen garden around the outside.

Surrounding Salamanca is Madrid’s “uptown”. Luxury-brand flagships line Calle Serrano and independent designers sprinkle the leafy backstreets. Taste traditional flavors at intimate, age-old La Parra—divans and Moroccan tile under candle-light and the hushed voices of old-Hollywood types. Or discover new ones at Amazonico—starlets and soccer stars picking at piquant hamachi and rare beef rodizios under cascades of jazz and tropical foliage.

A few blocks south, Gran Hotel Inglés opened in the 19th Century as Madrid’s first luxury hotel. Its return to five-star status signals the revival of artsy Las Letras, Madrid’s medieval heart. An extensive lobby library, including rare volumes of Don Quixote, pays homage to the area’s roots. Cast-iron columns mix with Chesterfields and Oriental rugs for a SoHo vibe. The rooms span old and new. Smartphones guide you around town, while deep, clawfoot tubs soak sightseeing-weary bones before heading out for an infamously late Spanish night.

High society

A wave of restaurants, luxury stores and hotels welcome you to a “new” Madrid rising in the old city-center: glitzy and extroverted, not ashamed to shine. “The middle and upper classes used to be very pijo, a bit stuffy” says Kiko Buxo, fashion designer and founder of minimalist brand Shon Mott. “But the younger generation are more experimental.” Europe’s third-largest city is quickly catching up to its peers. Think laid-back London, or brash Berlin.

Trend spotters long know that Madrid’s creative edge cuts through Chueca. Once a down-and-out barrio, it is back with a by-now-familiar urban mix of goths, gays and gallerists sipping craft beers and coffees on the sunny plazas. Here you’ll find Isolee, Madrid’s first concept store, and Lab Lamarca, its most recent. Specialist shops offer handmade papers, Japanese ceramics and retro-pop foods. Or feast your eyes at established white-cube galleries like London’s Marlborough, and local groundbreakers like Travesía Cuatro.

Now that vibe is moving further south. Construction cranes over Gran Via announce the arrival of brand name luxury condos above a multi-story shopping arcade sure to bring some of Salamanca’s style downtown. Students and backpackers still flock to Puerta del Sol for selfies on the well-trod tourist trail between the royal palace and Prado—Goya, check. El Greco, check. Velazquez, check. But above their heads a real estate boom is transforming the old tenements around Madrid’s old theater district.

So while Spain’s capital is hardly off the beaten path, it rewards the curious who push past first impressions. Plenty of folk will stroll Paseo del Prado, spin through the museums, taste tapas and sangria on Plaza Mayor—and not have seen a thing. No wonder Almodóvar chose Madrid for his seething tales of love and madness. But it’s all about to erupt. Expect a star performance.

 

Cultural Heights in Botero’s Colombia

Cultural Heights in Botero’s Colombia

A Feast for the Eyes and Lips

If you’re traveling to Colombia on business or looking for a unique side trip adventure from Miami, you might opt for Bogota,  a place of dichotomy, where  passionate culture  meets passionate food.  In the central city streets, you’ll find women dressed like supermodels on a runway and men in tailored jackets but also easy trekkers in the greener areas and locals attending church services on Sunday.  Because Bogota is filled with colonial style buildings and  hidden spots, and the geography  is vast (with areas varying in safety)  start your planning through your hotel.

Our top choice for accommodation is the Four Seasons.  Choose the Four Seasons Bogota for impeccable service or the Four Seasons Casa Medina with its romantic gardens, patios, and hanging flora. Perhaps take a night in each location, to experience difference sides of the city.

CHARTING THE COURSE

Once you’ve landed, you can chart your course. You can have the concierge book a taxi straight away to the old center to the Botero Museum — located on a full art block that includes the  Centro Cultural Gabriel Garcia Marquez — and will feed you  a feast for the eyes that will pepper your senses.

An absolute ‘Must See,’ the Museo Botero  features over a hundred works of the artist — considered perhaps the most important Latin American artist of all time and “the most Colombian” — as well as some paintings from Dali, Chagall and French impressionists (208 pieces in all.)  Botero — known for  figurative “oversized” personas in paintings and sculpture, he has often been considered a political artist, showing the state of the common man in his surroundings. However, in press interviews he has countered this,  stating he works intuitively, without preconceived symbolism.  To see such quantity of Botero’s paintings in one space connects the viewer to him on a personal level, for a larger than life experience, seeing Colombia through the eyes of Botero’s personages. Presented with narrators of the place you’re standing in, the art comes to life from the walls.

The magic will stay with you  as you descend back onto the streets at dusk, where you can opt for some local ceviche at Central Cevicheria (camarones y calamares) if you’ve got energy to burn or head back for  more classic fare  — a steak or pasta — at  the Four Seasons Restaurant.

Immersing in the richness of the city

Wake up early the next morning, to take the funicular tram  (10,341 feet)  up Mount Monserrate, the hill — or rather mini mountain — by 9 am or so. It’s a ten minute mount.  You might catch the mass at a church there or walk with the locals through the gardens.  The view of the city below is breathtaking.   (Pro Tip: Stay hydrated, since water evaporates at such high altitudes.)

You’ll be hungry when you get back down the hill to La Candelaria again,  to join  the line at a deceptive but delicious famed hole in the wall called La Puerta Falsa, where you  can indulge in hot rolls, chicken tamales, and hot chocolate before shopping treasures in the numerous side shops.

Local vendors here sell beautiful jewelry and other crafts.  There are “ruanas” — thick often striped ponchos — often created by communities of families over generations and “sombreros veultaios” official Colombian style hats with geometric patterns. They are created by the Zenu tribes in the North but are worn throughout the country.  You might also snag yourself a colorful  “mochila wayuu” or sack like handbag made of wild cotton, maguey, alpis and other natural fibers twisted into “S” and “Z” patterns, in bright tangerine, lemon, cherry and turquoise. Each one takes roughly three weeks to create. There are leak proof “werregue” bowls made from palm trees (and exclusively by women) as well as “guacumayas” baskets, assembled from colorful woven rolls.  Purchases aid residents who rely on such traditional crafts to survive. So you can dress yourself into a rainbow and help people at the same time.

Eating like a Bogotano

Now that you look like a native,  it’s time  to eat like one, starting  with  appetizers —a wonderful creamy burrata at Delucca Restaurante — and crisp white wine.  Or perhaps drinks inside what looks like the inside of a slot machine at Andres Carne de Rez (Chia)  with some tacos at  Cantina y  Punto,  a  laid back Mexican joint.  Or  follow  up with a meal at Club Columbia, where you can taste an array of delectable ceviches, rice  dishes,  chorizo, steaks, and salads. You might want to try  the organic fare of childhood friends Tomas Rueda and Juan Pablo Tomás Rueda (from lamb chops, sausages, asparagus, to artichokes and cheese sauces)  at  Donostia, with its chic black and white decor.  Bistro El Bandido features French fare (grilled prawns, croque monsieur, and coq au vin) as well as live music.  At Salvaje, you’ll feel  as though you’ve gotten lost in a jungle — with wall hanging flora — as you feast on plates of salmon and mushroom fried rice, avocado and cheese  enhanced dishes, and roasted meats.  At the end of your trip, you’ll end up boarding the plane stuffed but happy, just like one of Botero’s muses.

 

Sensory Deco Daydream Miami

Sensory Deco Daydream Miami

Tap into your Inner Design Junkie with All your Senses

When you hear about a weekend in Miami, perhaps neon lights and the pulsating bass of nightclubs come to mind. But there’s another side to Miami — Art Deco history; a science museum; an innovative shopping bazaar; and tasty cuisine — that makes it a sophisticate’s destination — especially for visually oriented travelers. Aside from the beach and bling,  you can curate your own “high/low”  sensory immersion, from lush accommodation to local street tours.  Here’s our prescription for the perfect adventure.

ROMANCING AT THE FAENA

Stay at the stunning Faena Hotel to create  the perfect fantasy fairy tale where, depending on the room — whether sleeping quarters; public areas; verandas overlooking the sea; or poolside — you can mentally imagine yourself in a romantic European daydream to a lavish Turkish caravan. Created by Argentinian real estate developer Alan Faena — with interiors collaborators— costume/set designers Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann), cherry red accents everything from  opulent chairs to beach umbrellas.   Once you check in and are greeted by the bronze  Damien Hirst  grab a poolside table  for lunch at Los Fuegos, where you can chose from a selection of tasty selection of fish, meat, salads.

Stimulating the senses in Miami

In the afternoon,  head over to  Wynwood to see art collections starting with the Wynwood Walls   — an incredible outdoor collection of street and graffiti artists including Kenny Scarf, Swoon, Shepard Fairy and others — that was started by developer Tony Goldman a decade ago. Each year, new international art stars are highlighted.  The  displays are free of charge. Seeing them feels like visual skateboarding.

Afterwards, take it indoors to the Rubell Family Collection  Contemporary Arts Foundation — housed in the 45,000 square foot former Drug Enforcement Agency — and you’ll see  the work of  Cindy Sherman, Jean Michel Basquiat,  Kara Walker, Jeff Koons and more up close in the permanent collection, as well as other  temporary exhibits.

In the district itself,  you’ll find folks selling sea shell jewelry and taco trucks on the street. So grab a conch and a snack before heading back to the hotel to indulge in one of the spa treatments at the Tierra Santa Healing House before dinner.    Formulated around South American concepts, in addition to massages and facials, you can opt for  a shamanic healing body ritual.  Think muds, scrubs, stones, sacred oils, and healing butters.

For a luscious first night taste sensation,  eat at Wynwood Kitchen for  latin spiced cuisine — and  for dining within futuristic paintings by Shepard Fairey, Christian Awe, and sculptures by David Benjamin Sherry. Or try  Alter,  for multi coursed, responsibility sourced local dishes.

By the next morning, you’ll be ready to strap on your trainers  for the the  Art Deco Walking Tour. Started by the Miami Design Preservation League, it delves into the history of the hotels dotting  the shoreline that  started as stucco cement apartment houses during the Prohibition Era for working class families.  You can stroll with both locals and tourists and imagine yourself in another era,  perhaps as a player in in one of the gambling houses run by mobsters in the 1940’s.  Al Capone was right at home in Miami Beach, as were working class families who moved into these originally cheap and cheerful apartment houses facing the shoreline.  Later, singer Gloria Estefan bought one of the properties. Fashion designer Gianni Versace had to knock one of the original buildings down to make space for his pool.  While the construction seems deceptively simple, with small windows and often four to six floors, they were modeled on rich movements, including  expressionism of the 1920’s; Cubism; and Bauhaus.

Two post tour options to round out the afternoon are the Perez Art Museum  and  the  Frost Science Museum,  where you can tap your inner child surrounded by  tropical fish and sea horses.  Frost  offers immersion into local sea life  with an aquarium;  a planetarium; and exhibits on evolution from dinosaurs to birds. There are interactive schemes so you can explore the mind/body connection or play engineer for an hour in the design lab.

The Perez Art Museum —  right next to the Frost —  features  local and global artists of the last two centuries  and a sculpture garden.   You can tap  off the zen vibes after a walk in the art and flora, by tasting some of the “poke bowls” — marinated fish and vegetables over rice— at the museum’s cafe that overlooks both the outdoor installations and the water.

If you stay the evening in  the design hood,  try  Joey’s Wynwood — located in the Wynwood Art District — for pastas and speciality pizzas.   Or head back to the Faena Hotel for a late afternoon yoga class at the spa. Indulge in  the cooking of  Paul Qui at PAO restaurant, which features  a fusion of Filipino, French,  Spanish, and Japanese flavors. Then try  the spicy margaritas at the Saxony Bar and catch  live music at the Living Room.

Culture and Connection in Cuba

Culture and Connection in Havana, Cuba

First in Service co-founder and CEO, Fernando Gonzalez, spends a long weekend soaking up the history, architecture and food scene in the Caribbean Havana.

From the moment I landed in Havana, I knew there was something special about the city. Open to U.S. travelers just a few short years ago, Cuba is one of those places I’ve always wanted to visit—and Havana was the ideal starting point. As a Cuban-American myself, the country is a gateway to my own family’s story—and an experience I couldn’t wait to share with my wife, Awilda, and our daughter, Sofia.

OLD HAVANA

Appreciating the architecture

I’m an architecture and design aficionado, and the sheer beauty of the buildings throughout the city was unparalleled—I was blown away. From the colors to the architectural elements, the detail and creativity that went into crafting each one was evident. Walking through the streets of Havana is a great way to take it all in—and booking a tour guide to provide historical context and background information makes it even better.

Taking in the culture

At 13, my daughter Sofia is an avid traveler—she’s been to some 30 countries—but this trip allowed us to take in a culture that was at once familiar and totally new, and see the country from a totally different perspective. From our home base at the Hotel Saratoga in Old Havana, we were able to see and experience much of what makes the city tick. That included going on a tour with a music historian to learn more about the history of Cuban music, visiting amazing art galleries, and shopping at places like Clandestina, a shop where almost all the wares are exclusively designed in the country.

Savoring the cuisine

If you’re a food lover, this is the place to be: the burgeoning culinary scene in Havana is tremendous. In the course of our five-day visit, we ate at about ten different restaurants and they were all excellent. Some to consider on your trip: Al Carbon in Old Havana, El Cocinero, and Otramanera in Havana’s Playa neighborhood. Since we were there over New Year’s, we also enjoyed an amazing gala and dinner at the Plaza de la Catedral.

Overall, if the goal of traveling is not only to enjoy the food and music of a new place, but also to experience the culture and open your eyes to what it has to offer, than going to Cuba—and Havana, in particular—allowed us to do just that. I know my family and I are already planning to visit again soon.

 

Pretty Pretty Pugliese

Pretty Pretty Pugliese

Rocco Forte’s newest idyll gathers the ingredients for laid-back luxury.

In the hardscrabble earth of Puglia grows a lifestyle ruled by simplicity. For centuries, the sun and heat here have dictated the architecture and daily rhythms. Meanwhile, necessity nurtured the food and spirit of hospitality. Today, from these austere traditions, Rocco Forte Hotels’ Masseria Torre Maizza casts light on a modern kind of luxury—free from distracting adornment and confining ritual—that lets the goodness of essential ingredients shine through.

Down a chalky road hemmed by stacked stone walls and stands of 700-year-old olive trees sits Masseria Torre Maizza. Part plantation, part fortress, masserie have a particular local pragmatism that combines a lord’s luxury with a farmer’s frugality and a soldier’s sobriety. Masseria Torre Maizza, opened in April as Rocco Forte’s twelfth hotel, is no exception.

The 16th century villa forms a citadel over the forecourt, and grapevine-laced pergolas surround a large pool behind. Beyond, an arched gate leads to a garrison of rooms reaching toward the Adriatic across a landscape softened by ponds and putting greens. Crisp and relaxed, the forty rooms range from breezy ocean-view doubles to sprawling suites with private gardens and plunge pools. Stone floors and vaulted ceilings, tailored linen, handcrafted ceramics and pops of sun-bleached color tame the modernist take on traditional furnishings.

Sensuous essential

As farmers and fishermen the Pugliese were never rich, but always knew their ingredients. This created Puglia’s cucina povera, “poor food”, which says more about its simplicity than its paucity. At Carosello, the hotel’s destination restaurant, dine on reinvented local classics featuring exquisite quality and ingenuity: like the olive oil that is Puglia’s green gold, or its burrata enriched with oozing buffalo cream, or shells of orechiette made with grano arso—burnt grains, once a field scrap, now a delicacy—sautéed with rapini leaves or chickpeas echoing Arab influences from centuries ago.

When the sounds of wind and sea and songbirds beckon outdoors, Torre Maizza’s spa offers a wellness program, including yoga or body and facial treatments in the gardens using olive oil, and sea salt and apricot scrubs. Excursions go even further: just a few miles down the road to the hotel’s private beach club, or on an exclusive mini-cruise to nearby fishing towns and swimming spots. In Alberobello discover Puglia’s UNESCO-listed trove of beehive-shaped trulli homes, and learn about and how to make the region’s ceramics, jewelry, olive oil, wines, pasta and other foods.

Luxury, you see, is easy.

 

Botswana, Call of the Kalahari

Botswana, Call of the Kalahari

With luxe Botswana lodges, Belmond Safaris take you into the heart of Africa.

When your small plane glides low and slow enough over the green savanna to observe migrating herds, when the rhythm of singing voices and clapping hands brings joy to your daily rituals, when constellations take on new depth and noises take on new dimensions in the lightless night, you realize, no matter where you’re from, that this place is where you’re of. No wonder Harry and Meghan keep coming back.

WELCOME TO THE JUNGLE

Botswana has the world’s largest population of elephants. Why? Because Botswana alone among its neighbors avoided armed conflict in its half-century of independence. The wars in Angola, Zimbabwe and Mozambique had nothing to do with elephants (though they gave poachers cover). But simply bearing witness was enough. As Rudyard Kipling wrote: “The elephant’s a gentleman.”

Sitting around the Boma, you’ll learn of the myriad ways our lives interweave with theirs. Much more than a campfire, the Boma is where elder tribesmen have received one another with feasts and folk tales, dance and song since long before colonial times. Elephants, music and history will be your constant companions at Belmond’s Botswana lodges. A oneness that begins with the melodious voices of the staff who greet your jeep bouncing up the red-earth track.

Some enchanted eden

Belmond’s Savute Elephant Lodge sits in Chobe National Park, Botswana’s first. The Chobe River flows into the Zambezi and thunders over Victoria Falls into a deep crack on an otherwise uninterrupted expanse of African mesa—an ocean of land teaming with wildlife. At the lodge, herds of elephants and buffalo gather at the stream beneath your terrace pool. On game drives at dawn and dusk, see zebra and giraffe graze on the grasslands, hippo and crocodile wallow in the watering holes, and follow leopard and lion stalking their prey through the brush. Every outing is different, and none predictable.

Victorian-era travelers believed that consuming copious amounts of gin and tonic protected them from malaria (hmm—likely story). Enjoy yours with fellow guests presuming to be Dr. Livingstone lounging beneath lazy fans before dinner, contemplating the sunset over a horizon of low treetops. The lodge’s chef prepares gourmet interpretations of barbecued meats and other regional specialties, paired with fine wines and champagne. For more intimacy, a butler can serve dinner suite-side.

Recently renovated, Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge lends a modern style to skills that define the architecture, furniture, and cosmopolitan and traditional objets d’art. The twelve large, bright, thatched and tented rooms can be as open or sheltering as you wish: French doors, netted canopy beds, air conditioning, and airy bathrooms go well beyond glamping.

Islands in the stream

For a change of scenery, climb aboard a 12-seat Cessna and follow the sun westward to Eagle Island Lodge, another of the Belmond Safaris experiences. Enjoy the isolation of a private island in the unique setting of an inland river delta where the Okavango evaporates into the sky above the Kalahari rather than meet the sea.

By canoe and powerboat explore channels that cover 5,800 unpopulated square miles—roughly the size of Connecticut—classified as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Africa, along with Mount Kilimanjaro, the Nile and Sahara. In addition to the by-now ever-present lions, elephant and zebra, you’ll see flocks of wading heron and flamingo, and ostriches strutting through hip-deep grass.

With accommodation similar to Belmond’s Savute Elephant Lodge, Eagle Island adds a twist of sensual style—somber mineral tones, private plunge pools outside each room, and sculptural, monolithic, black bathtubs—that melds into the sage-scented morning mists.

“There’s no better way to understand how connected we are with all this,” says F1RST’s Erika Reategui, an Africa veteran. Her experience in luxury conservation excursions includes work with the Jane Goodall Institute. “Something like 77% of wildlife has disappeared since mankind came to be—10% of that just since 1990. There’s no better way to understand how precious this is than to feel it for yourself.”