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A SECRET HIDEAWAY IN CORSICA THAT IS HEAVEN ON EARTH

[SARTÈNE, CORSICA] — I was having dinner by myself the first night in Corsica at Domaine du Murtoli — one of the most exclusive resorts in France — and sitting back and grinning at all the natural wonder before me in this candle-lit treehouse of a restaurant hidden under the maquis trees. Barefoot waitresses in linen frocks darted under the leaves, brining drinks, appetizers and cute smiles.   Around the corner came a vision, the most perfectly tanned specimen on this planet. Valérie, the proprietress of this magical haven (and a former model and mother to four beautiful children). She floated on a cloud up to my table and I gulped. “Bon soir, my name is Valérie. How was your dinner? Did you see your little

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EXPLORING THE HILLTOP VILLAGES OF NORTHERN CORSICA

[CORSICA, FRANCE] — You know when you’re in a rental car in a foreign land and you’re on a steep impossible skinny one lane road with dropoffs of hundreds of feet and wondering “what the hell am going to do if another car comes the other way???” I was in exactly in that situation, on a steep rocky road, barely wider than my car, pointing downdowndown on my way to the a sleepy fishing village I was told was a gem. The crazy road was a bunch of zig-zags all the way down to the sea, each turn more precarious than the last.  My clutch skills failing on the steep hill, killing the car as I rounded the tightest bends. When you’re traveling with someone else, you kinda

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BOATING THROUGH THE JAGGED CLIFFS OF CORSICA’S SCANDOLA NATURE RESERVE

[SCANDOLA NATURE RESERVE, CORSICA] — Okay, who’s been to the Scandola Nature Reserve in Corsica? Non?  Strap in. You’re about to see something really amazing. You gotta gotta go do this. A huge natural preserve in the northwest of Corsica, with the most dramatic rock formations, canyons and wildly shaped rocks you’ve ever seen, plunging right into the sea. Dwarfing everything in their midst, namely you. It’s like being in a one-armed Grand Canyon, with the deep blue Mediterranean sea on the right side, and every color and shape of rock you’ve ever seen.      On the northwest corner of Corsica, you can really only see it from a boat, dramatic jagged cliffs of every shape and size and color, changing from cove to cove, none of

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THE KILLER BEACHES OF SOUTHERN CORSICA

[CORSICA, FRANCE] — Smack in the middle of the deep blue Mediterranean Sea are two big islands, Sardinia and Corsica. Almost like twins, ripped apart, both jut out of the sea like breeching whales, with huge mountains in the middle and some of the best beaches in all of Europe, if not the world, ringing their rocking shores. Corsica is a magical adventure land, with an infinite amount of sporty things to do. Hiking. Climbing. Canyoning. Snorkeling. Sailing. Boating. Or just sit on the beach. The middle is spiked with enormous shark-toothed mountains, some as high as the Alps, often dotted with snow year-round.  It’s only 200km long, but with a wild spread of geography that would rival entire countries 100x its size.  And we’re talking

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THIS MAY BE THE BEST RESTAURANT IN THE WORLD (I’M NOT ALONE ON THIS..)

[JOSE IGNACIO, URUGUAY] — It’s 3pm, the day after Christmas. It’s 82 degrees and sunny, with a light breeze gently flapping the white canvas awnings, fanning the cool shade underneath. The place is packed, everyone’s knee-to-knee. Cool pitchers of Clerico — the local Uruguayan version of a white sangria — are flowing past above the heads of the crowd, headed toward an antsy, thirsty table. There’s a DJ tucked in the back, but affecting moods in the front; like the breeze, causing everyone to gently sway along with him in a cool, mellow vibe. The smell of woodsmoke wafts out onto the beach. The best smell there is. Large wood cutting boards burdened with a grilled whole smiling fish swim by, browned at the edges, flaky

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TOUR CROATIA IN STYLE ON YOUR OWN 100FT TURKISH GULET

[SPLIT, CROATIA] — I knew she would be big. I had no idea she’d be THIS big. It was the pictures that got me first. Our awesome travel agent Ginny had been sending me pics of boats all over. “We want something cool” I’d said, these are my best friends. “Can you find a Turkish gulet in Croatia?” I’d seen gulets in Greece, so much better than a typical sailboat. I liked how they’re all built around a big broad dining table straddling across the back, not everyone scrunched in a tight cockpit all the time. There were only a few gulets in Croatia, she found: Awesome boat. Awesome boat. “But THIS one…” Ginny teased. “Oh.My.God.” I became That Guy, the one who talked 11

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DISCOVER THE HIDDEN WEST COAST OF TUSCANY

[MONTE ARGENTARIO | MAREMMA, TUSCANY] — Maremma is the southern edge of Tuscany and goes from the hilly and ferrous inland to the varyingly wild-horse-roaming, swampy and rocky coast. A lot of people just hang out in eastern Tuscany — what Conde Nast Traveller funnily dubbed Chiantishire — and don’t know much about “Hidden Tuscany”, the underdeveloped and handsomely rugged western side. Where we’re going now is Monte Argentario, once an island, but like my stomach, grew beyond its britches, loosened the top button and is now double-belted to the shore. Go check it out on google maps. Some call Monte Argentario the Capri of Tuscany, but I think it is more of its own special thing, much much mellower, less crowded and more treed. Long

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A QUIET PARADISE AT THE END OF THE ROAD TO HANA

[HANA, MAUI] — I was in Maui in 2015, the week before Thanksgiving scoping out a new project and got a chance to stay at the cool Travaasa experiential resort on the totally chill side of the island, at the receiving end of the Road to Hana. A lot of people take the white-knuckle drive, turn around and drive back the same day. But Hana is a world away from the Resort Crazy, white sock/white sneakers and muscle shirts (when did those come back in style? And why?) at the other end of the island. This is the way to do it. I love me some nice hotels and seek them out all over, but few can compare with the views of these bungalows, smack overlooking

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GO FOR A HORSEBACK RIDE

  (Cabo San Lucas) — Always on the tourist shots, riding horses on the beach is one of the sexiest things one can imagine. And it’s easy to do.  Lots of freelance horse companies on the beach, but we did a couple of rides through the Cuadra San Francisco Equestrian Center, just across the highway on the big wide beaches south of Cabo.  You can take the desert inland tour or divert directly to the beach.  We did both in two hours. Very nice people, very professional Horse People vs. someone just trying to make a buck off you. Ask for Felix. Funny and talented and good with a lasso. I’d suggest a two hour ride, starting at 4pm, go inland through the brush and cacti,

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GET YOUR OWN BOAT

  (Cabo San Lucas) — There are lots of ways to get out on the water to tour the rocks and beaches along the tip of the Baja Penninsula — party cruises, whale watching boats, tour groups — you’ve seen a million pictures of them, but I highly recommend you splurge a little and just charter your own boat, a sailboat even. For about $300-400 — whether its two people, two couples or six — for just a little bit more you can get your own ride and not have to deal with a bunch of drunken Spring Breakers woo-wooing and pounding beers and bumming your mellow. We chartered through our hotel through CaboSails, very professional, very attentive crew that left the itinerary up to us.

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A QUIET RETREAT FAR ENOUGH AWAY FROM CRAZY CABO

(Cabo San Lucas) — Cabo is crazy with Spring Breakers, but a few coves over is the luxurious Esperanza resort, far enough away from the maddening crowds, but close enough to benefit from the convenience of getting in/out of town.  Great casita set up, with wide opening doors, a cool hot tub on every deck and awesome pool, beach and grounds.  You never want to leave.  It’s ridiculously expensive, especially for Mexico — $1000/night is the new $500/night — and everything is extra…and extra expensive. (Think Hawaii Prices, not Mexico Prices).  But extremely nice people.  Some decent restaurants. You get your own personal concierge who pretty much looks after to you round the clock and arranges everything for you.  Ask for Fernando, he’s the best.

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OFF THE COAST OF BRAZIL, A LUXURY HOTEL THAT’S LIKE BEING IN YOUR OWN BOND FILM

(Fernando de Noronha, Brazil) — Now this place is truly special. On this magical isle is a magical place, Pousada Maravilha.  After doing some online scoping and then staying there and checking out the other top places, this is the nicest place on the island. There are other cool places, but the view and position of this small hotel is outstanding and one of the few that have direct ocean views. The former house of a Brazilian movie star, the pousada is built around the main house, restaurant and pool, sloping down the hill. With some inline rooms at the top, to me it is worth the expensive splurge on a bungalow. They are lower down the hill but are stand-alone places with their own

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THE BEST TERRACE IN POSITANO (AND BEST PRICE)

[POSITANO, ITALY] –– Stayed here years ago, it was like 80 bucks a night, very mom & pop B&B and more like a private guest house. Spartan but super clean. Low services. 186 steep steps up from the beach or down from the road, so have little luggage, although they’ll send a porter. One of the best terraces in Positano. You see it on postcards all over. It’s a great place. http://www.casacosenza.it/ Sorry, these pics aren’t the best. Had to scan these from film…and from a not very good camera. Before digital! But the views remain pristine today!

LE SIRENUSE — THE BEST HOTEL IN ITALY, IF NOT EUROPE

[POSITANO, ITALY] — If you’ve never been to Le Sirenuse in Positano, put it on your list. One of the best, and best-run, hotels in the world. Nothing compares to sitting in the grandstands (the pool) overlooking one of the prettiest views in the world. A cascade of villas, hotels and restaurants tumbling down to the sea. That’s why it is #1 on my World’s Best Pools List. And why the hotel itself is at the 🔝 of nearly every World’s Best list and if they shoot a movie in Amalfi, it’s usually here. Pinch me. Nothing can beat the style of this hotel, or location, hanging on the edge of a cliff with all those pretty houses climbing up the hills. It is on nearly every

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EVERY DAY’S A NEW ADVENTURE IN THIS BRAZILIAN PARADISE

[FERNANDO DE NORONHA] — Fernando de Noronha is a true adult Adventureland. The whole island is built around exploring, swimming diving, surfing, snorkeling and beaching. Not to mention chasing wildlife around.  Every day is a new adventure. The beaches are the best, but definitely you should take a boat tour around the island. Everything looks different from the water.  You leave in the morning or afternoon, and they take you on a great tour of all the major beaches. You see things you can’t see from land. And because it’s Brazil, there’s nice music, friendly people, snorkeling stops long the way and even a nice buffet spread they put out, cooked from scratch right on the boat.            

CHRISTMAS AT THE BEACH IN BARCELONA

Barcelona beaches  

MILES AND MILES OF PRISTINE BEACHES IN BAHIA

(Trancoso, Brazil) — Bahia is where it’s at. Miles and miles of the most amazing beaches you’ve ever seen. Not clogged with people, just pristine sand, amazingly green water and lots and lots of perfect strolling. Trancoso is in the center of it all. You should go here. I’m not the only one. Check out these great articles from Conde Nast Traveler (which ranked it in the 15 Best Places to See Now, Vogue and Travel & Leisure for details.    

A BOHEMIAN JETSET VILLAGE IN BAHIA

(Trancoso, Brazil) — I’d read about Trancoso for some time, it just kept popping up in the right places. But when I was in a small Uruguayan hotel and met a photographer from Wallpaper and he said it was one of the coolest places he’d been, I knew I had to go. So I did. The peak season around Xmas is nuts all over Brazil, so if you’re thinking of going, book early. When I was there in early March, it was quite empty, but still incredible. A once-isolated fishing village in Bahia, it was “rediscovered” by hippies in the 70s and has grown over the years into a world-class destination. You read about it everywhere now and it continues to change and evolve, with

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400 Thread Count, steps from the beach

(Trancoso, Brazil) — This really is a great hotel, but also one of the most expensive. You can get a bungalow by the beach (but not really on the beach) or they have nice rooms set farther back in the property. (check out the aerial view below).  For about half the money, I’d recommend the regular rooms, each part of a four suite out buildings. Rooms are spotless, well designed and comfortable. All are open shuttered, so a mosquito net is a must, lest you get eaten alive. I had an unusual swarm of junebugs hit a couple of nights, sounds like pounding hail on the bathroom windows, with thousands trying crawl through the cracks. Turn the light off, the faucet roar stops, turn it

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MOUNTAINS ROLLING INTO THE SEA

  The whole Amalfi Coast is a string of towns south of Naples, roughly starting from Sorrento on down.  Each has it’s own charm and personality. Not a big fan of Sorrento, more of a modern city that cruise ships and tour buses visit.  Keep going down farther, starting at Positano.  Positano is almost all about hotels and restaurants, not much else going on except lemons and pottery with lemons on it. You come to rest and look out over the sea, then eat. All of Positano is built on a steep cliff around a V shaped cove, with one main road that zig-zags from the top to the bottom, then back up again. The rest is just steep steps connecting each level.  The beach

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