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    F1S SELECTS

    22 Destinations That

    Keep Us Coming Back

     

     

     

     

     

    F1RST Selects

    22 Destinations That Keep Us Coming Back

    From favorite cities to beloved hotels, F1S advisors share the destinations they recommend again and again. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    For us, as we’re sure it is for so many of you, love and travel go hand-in-hand. It’s the thrill of visiting a country that’s been on your list for years. The connection that’s fostered when you see a city through the eyes of someone you care about—a child, a spouse, a grandparent. It’s the joy we get in experiencing the world around us.

    And as we’ve experienced the world, there are particular destinations we’ve fallen hard for—we’re talking head over heels—that we visit again and again, recommend to clients, and generally can’t stop singing the praises of.

    So, as you think about your travel plans for 2022, we want to share those favorites with you. From new loves to cherished classics here—region by region—are 22 countries, cities, and hotels that have captured our hearts:

    1. Napa Valley, California, USA

    “Napa Valley is my guiltless addiction!,” says F1S advisor Arleyne Espinel. “It’s one of the only destinations that we have repeated over and over again, so it organically became the focus of my business and expertise. With 400+ wineries, you can do it differently every time! Culinary powerhouses. Top-notch spas. I can go on and on! It is truly ‘Disneyworld for adults.’”

    2. Newport, Rhode Island, USA

    “Newport has so much going on,” says F1S advisor Richie Legouri. “Visit the historical mansions along the Cliff Walk and Bellevue Ave, take a quick ferry ride to Block Island, enjoy never-ending shopping and great dining options along the Wharf and throughout town, like Clarke Cooke House, 22 Bowen’s, The Black Pearl. Gurney’s on Goat Island is also a great place for sunset cocktails and dinner.” Plus, there are a host of food festivals promoting local eateries and breweries and events like the Newport Folk Festival.

     

    3. Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah, USA

    “Amangiri is special because the hotel is tucked into the most amazing landscape. The architecture of the hotel is done in a way that it feels as though it’s part of the natural surroundings and allows the area to feel untouched and preserved,” says F1S advisor Kim Silvertown. “The service is incredible, everyone is attentive, and the local guides are superb. When you’re not hiking, or enjoying the spa, you can listen to interesting speakers talk about the land and history of Canyon Point. You leave feeling accomplished, refreshed, and renewed.”

    F1S advisor Arleyne Espinel at Napa Valley. 

    F1S advisor Arleyne Espinel at Napa Valley. 

    Rhode Island

    Sunset view at Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah.

    Rhode Island

    Sunset view at Amangiri, Canyon Point, Utah.

    4. Sonora Resort, British Columbia, Canada

    “When you think of Canada and the beauty of its scenery, Sonora Resort encompasses that,” says F1S advisor George Alexandrou. “With activities to keep everyone happy—from the children to grandparents—this is a unique out-of-the-box family holiday.”   

     

    5. Puerto Vallarta

    “There is a place that my husband Sean and I visit a few times a year—and that is Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific coast of Mexico,” says F1S Managing Director George Carrancho. “I would call it an LGBT mecca, especially in the Romantic Zone. Tons of nightlife and some of the best little hole-in-the-wall restaurants. Both Sean and I celebrated our 50th birthdays there and I’ve had a few clients do the same.” The festivities included dinner at Sonora Grill Prime, private yacht rental, pool party at the amazing Mantamar Beach Club, sunset happy hours, and a stay at Almar Resort, the “best hotel in this area,” says George.

    "I would call it an LGBT mecca, especially in the Romantic Zone. Tons of nightlife and some of the best little hole-in-the-wall restaurants."
    George Carrancho

    F1S Managing Director George Carrancho with his husband and friends at the Almar Resort. 

    6. José Ignacio, Uruguay

    “The place I love to visit over and over is José Ignacio in Uruguay. This small quaint super chic beach town is unlike any other place I have ever been,” says F1S Managing Director Willa Griffin. “It is a beautiful blend of South American culture mixed with a slightly St. Tropez vibe. The small town of José Ignacio comes alive every December to March when you can wander the quaint streets to check out all of the local galleries, find incredible spots to eat or hit the beach for some surfing or a glass of rosé at one of the beach clubs.”

    7. El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina

    “The town of El Calafate is one of my favorite places to visit. I was amazed by the diversity of the wildlife, the rustic homes, which invoke a true sense of coziness, and was just in awe at being surrounded by such a beautiful, mountainous landscape,” says Catalina Morales, F1S’s Partnerships Coordinator. “I’ve had the chance to see the beauty of the colors changing in the fall and have visited the Perito Moreno Glacier boardwalk, where I spent hours taking in the calmness of it all—which is much different from Bogotá, where I live! Don’t miss heading into the mountains to enjoy their beauty up close.”

    8. Iceland

    “To this day, my trip to Iceland was my absolute favorite,” says Liora. “I went during the winter when you can’t plan your days; your schedule and activities are all dependent on the weather. And every day you experience something different. I would love to see Iceland in the summer—but I would still definitely go back in winter.”

    Advisor Liora Manilof trying a signature Icelandic spirit.

    Advisor Liora Manilof trying a signature Icelandic spirit.

    F1S’s Partnerships Coordinator Catalina Morales at El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina.

    Advisor Liora in Iceland.

    F1S’s Partnerships Coordinator Catalina Morales at El Calafate, Patagonia, Argentina.

    Advisor Liora in Iceland.

    9. Portugal

    “Out of all the places I’ve traveled, my favorite destination is Portugal—specifically the Algarve region,” says Anny Vasiliou. “I loved the welcoming and friendly people, the warm climate, and the relaxed, laid-back feeling we experienced everywhere we went. And of course, I can’t forget the delectable food!”

    10. Granada, Spain

    “Granada is considered the most romantic city in Spain. It’s the cradle of three civilizations— Jewish, Muslim, and Christian—and the Alhambra, also known as the Red Palace, crowns the city as the best-preserved Middle Age fortress outside Muslim countries,” says Miguel Caballero, Managing Director of F1S Madrid. “The city’s history is full of romantic legends and historical poems, so when you walk through streets, alleys, and squares you feel that love is in the air.”

    11. Sicily, Italy

    “Italy is always on the top of the list,” says F1S advisor Liora Manilof, who says Sicily in particular is skyrocketing in popularity lately. F1S advisor George Alexandrou agrees: “With its unique cultural roots, changing landscapes and real cuisine, Sicily is always a great time.” Plus, there are a number of new hotels opening on the Italian island, including two of our favorites: Four Seasons San Domenico Palace in the pretty town of Taormina and Rocco Forte’s Villa Igiea on the coast of Palermo.

    12. Dar Ahlam, Ouarzazate, Morocco

    “Dar Ahlam which translates to ‘House of Dreams’ is one of Morocco’s hidden gems. This house is one of the most magical places I’ve ever stayed in,” says Wonnie Baik, VP of Sales and Partnerships at F1S. “Particularly interesting is that there is no official dining room. During your stay, every meal is served in a new setting. So when we arrived, they set up a picnic in the garden, and another night it was in a cozy alcove. The element of surprise that comes with every meal was amazing!”

     

    13. Namibia, Africa

    “It’s a different, unspoiled Africa. An Africa of long vistas, of distant horizons, clear skies and unspoiled wilderness, safe, and off the beaten path. The Skeleton Coast is unlike anything you have ever seen,” says F1S Toronto advisor Derrick Bloch, who hails from Namibia.

    14. Cape Town, South Africa

    “Cape Town is magical. You can swim in the cold ocean in the mornings with a view of Table Mountain and the Twelve Apostles in the background and then go for a hike in the mountains in the afternoon for sundowners,” says F1S advisor Valeria Droge. “With some of the best restaurants, vineyards and hotels in the world, as well as a thriving art scene and all types of adventure at your doorstep, Cape Town is a city that you can never get enough of.”

     

    15. Abercrombie & Kent Tours, Africa

    “My wife and I fell in love with Africa. We traveled with Abercrombie & Kent, staying at incredible hotels and lodges, including Sanctuary Retreats lodges in Botswana: Sanctuary Chief’s Camp and Sanctuary Chobe Chilwero. l,” says Antonio Gutierrez, Chief Business Affairs Officer at F1S. “The best way to describe the experience? Moving. It makes an impact on your soul and heart. We would love to go back with our kids someday.”

    16. Israel

    “Culturally, historically, spiritually—Israel is amazing,” says F1S CEO Fernando Gonzalez. “There are so many activities; it’s a jam-packed location that is enriching and educational.”

    Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount. Jerusalem, Israel

    17. India

    “India will always have a special place in my heart. Not only is the country beautiful, but my personal connections there make it truly come alive. Visiting with my family in their small town, listening to the older generation tell stories. Watching my mom and aunts cook elaborate meals. Riding on the back of my cousin’s motorcycle up to the mountains and taking in the amazing views in the summer, when the monsoon creates the greenest landscape in my dad’s hometown. It’s all just incredible,” says F1S advisor Thelma Abhyankar.

    18. The Maldives

    “The Maldives is the perfect romantic destination. When my husband and I visited, we were truly able to reconnect. We have three kids and are recent empty nesters, so we were able to enjoy and focus on time together, just us!,” says F1S advisor Leah Winck. “We visited many favorite resorts while exploring the islands. We spent time relaxing on the beautiful beaches, enjoying delicious meals, indulging in spa and wellness treatments, snorkeling with sea turtles, sunset sailing amongst dolphins and riding bikes. The Maldives evokes a real sense of peace, calm and togetherness and is most definitely a top recommendation when considering a destination with your special someone.”

    19. NIHI Sumba, Sumba Island, Indonesia

    “A place that blew my mind—and one where I’ve sent as many clients as I could if the opportunity was there—is NIHI on the island of Sumba in Indonesia,” says Liora of the hotel, with its private villas and where you can do everything from surf to swim with horses. “It’s a magical haven. Your mind is blown, you are left at ‘hello.’ You can’t believe these places and types of experiences exist. You feel like you are in a hidden world in the wild.”

    Taj Mahal in India

    Taj Mahal in India

    F1S advisor Leah Winck with her husband in the Maldives. 

    F1S advisor Liora swimming with horses at Nihi Sumba.

    F1S advisor Leah Winck with her husband in the Maldives. 

    F1S advisor Liora swimming with horses at Nihi Sumba.

    20. Korea 

    “Korea is one of my favorite places, not only because of all the delicious food (sundae and budae jjigae) but also how the richness of the culture and fashion brings people together,” says Jack Yu, F1S’s Digital Marketing Coordinator. “When I first visited alone in 2013, I was so afraid that if I didn’t speak the language, I wouldn’t enjoy my experience. But I had a blast—everyone was so kind and showed me the best spots to find authentic Korean street food, like Gwangjang Market. Plus, if you love raccoons as much as I do, Korea even has ‘raccoon cafes’ where you can actually meet and pet them!” 

    21. New Zealand

    “New Zealand is definitely one of my most favorite destinations. In one small country spanning two islands, you can find incredible landscapes filled with glaciers, geysers and volcanoes along with beautiful beaches, lakes and inland fjords. It is an outdoor playground for thrill seekers and adventurers,” says F1S advisor Stacy Weigant. “The more tame traveler can relish in an incredible selection of food and wine experiences, Maori culture and a variety of arts and festivals.” New Zealand is also a favorite of F1S advisor John Rios, who recommends two hotels: Annandale, a working farm with sheep and cattle, and Split Apple Retreat, a lodge near Abel Tasman National Park. 

    22. Fiji

    “The Fijian people are incredibly friendly, warm and kind, welcoming you to experience not only the beauty of their islands, but their culture, history and way of life,” says Shay Harrington, VP of Sales and Partnerships at F1S. “Leaving Fiji is full of hugs, tears and promises to return.” Some fun activities? At Likuliku Lagoon Resort, opt for the Twilight Tadra spa package, when at twilight, the spa is transformed into an exclusive romantic oasis for one couple. And at Nanuku, an Auberge Resort, go for the Private Island Escape. “You’ll sail across the Beqa Lagoon to the private Nanuku Island and enjoy a day feeling marooned,” says Shay.

    Ready to find your next favorite destination? From recommendations to itineraries to bookings, we can help get you there.

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