It’s true. Time does go fast when you’re having fun. Ten years ago this issue, I became the travel editor of Ranch & Coast. I was honored, and excited about writing for such a sophisticated and well-traveled audience.
In my first few articles, I relied on past experiences and wrote about the Sydney Opera House, Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and Guilin, China. However, as a longtime Ranch & Coast reader, I knew you would appreciate stories from farther off the beaten path, so I started keeping a list of exotic destinations.
I wasn’t even sure where Zambia was when I first read about Norman Carr Safaris and Chiawa Camp — but I knew you’d love the adventure and luxury they offer. Norman Carr’s rustic bush camps are located in Zambia’s South Luanga National Park. Our wildlife experiences here included a night drive during which we watched two female lions — one obviously pregnant — dining on an impala that had been hauled up a tree. At Chiawa Camp, our spacious tent was so close to the Zambezi River that I accused my husband of snoring when, in truth, the grumbling noise that awakened me was made by nearby hippos. (www.normancarrsafaris.com, www.chiawa.com)
Of course I knew where Vietnam was, but — having watched the war on the nightly news — I never thought I’d go there. But go we did — and I’m so glad. As we traveled, I tried to engage locals in discussions of the conflict, but they’ve moved on and are busy with their new lives. It was a wonderful lesson about the benefit of forgiveness.
In Hoi An, on Vietnam’s central coast, we roamed around the huge, colorful public market and ordered bespoke silk clothing. In Nha Trang we stayed at a beautiful resort with an incredible spa. While all of our hotels exceeded my expectations, Hanoi’s Metropole was my favorite. When it opened in 1901, the Grand Hôtel Métropole Palace became an oasis of luxury for travelers in Southeast Asia — and it still is. (www.sixsenses.com, www.sofitel-legend.com)
Oman was another surprise. Like many of the Ranch & Coast readers I talked with (at parties, the garden club, and standing in line at Vons), my travels in the Arab Middle East had been limited to Dubai. In contrast, Oman entitles women to vote and hold seats in the Cabinet. It also offers traditional Old World charm and fascinating geography (versus modern glitz).
From our stunning Omani base at Six Senses Resort in Zighi Bay, we explored majestic canyons and, much to our surprise, were invited to tea with goatherds in a 400-year-old village. Back at the resort, my husband Richard took a tandem paraglide with a Bulgarian pilot. Together, they jumped off a cliff and floated back and forth across the Hajar Mountains, soaring alongside birds for close to half an hour before finally landing on the beach below. (www.sixsenses.com)
Of course, there isn’t always time for faraway places, so I’ve written about many favorite North America destinations — including Vancouver. There, I always head to Granville Island, with its fantastic Public Market, multi-cultural food vendors, artists’ studios, and views of False Creek and the skyline.
Stanley Park is another reason I’m a serial Vancouver visitor. I love to circumnavigate this giant wooded oasis by walking or biking the surrounding seven-mile seawall. Along the way, I check out the forest of totems, listen to the bagpiper who hangs out at Brockton Point, and watch kids running through a playground of fountains.
I also stop and wonder at the huge ships ducking under Lion’s Gate Bridge on their way out to sea. The Wedgewood Hotel & Spa, an 83-room boutique hotel, is my favorite home away from home. (www.wedgewoodhotel.com)
Closer to San Diego, I am always happy to travel through the red rock scenic beauty of Southern Utah, including Bryce Canyon National Park, Staircase-Escalante, and Zion National Park, and I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at Amangiri near the Arizona border. With a handful of women from the resort, I hiked around boulders sculpted by wind for millions of years. By contrast, the style of the resort is rectilinear, as if not wanting to compete with the natural terrain. (www.amanresorts.com)
Amangiri was a great discovery — but not my last. I have lots of new destinations to explore, so stay tuned, and Oh, The Places We’ll Go! ELIZABETH HANSEN
Wedgewood Hotel: Courtesy Wedgewood Hotel All Other Photography by ADAMS / HANSEN STOCK PHOTOS