Exotic Hidden Gems 💎

Happy Thursday Hidden Gem Travel community!  Any fun plans for Labor Day weekend?  For me, it’s a time to reflect on the highlights of the summer and look forward to plans for the fall. This summer, I moved house (not far from my previous home), so it was an extra busy one!

This fall, I’m looking forward to trips to New York City (scouting new experiences), Ireland (5-star itinerary), and the Caribbean (on a brand-new cruise line). Fingers crossed it all goes off smoothly, but I’m prepared to navigate changing protocols and restrictions.  That’s OK by me to get back to travel.  It also informs my clients who can’t wait to take their next bucket list vacation. 

To complement the LDW vibe, I like to daydream about venturing far beyond the typical vacation experience. I virtually met some incredible travel partners during Virtuoso Travel Week earlier this month who are ideal for clients who want an exotic, dream destination for a future vacation. Some of these places are accessible now and some not until later.  Either way, it’s fun to dream and learn about the possibilities!  Read on for the scoop….

Baoase Luxury Resort

Consider Curacao in the Caribbean

If you love a 5-star Caribbean resort but want to be outside of the hurricane belt, I highly recommend Baoase Luxury Resort in Curacao.  It’s the C in the ABC islands (Aruba and Bonaire being the others), and a Dutch island.  You can visit all year-round, although late spring and fall are “low season” with the lowest rates and occupancy. 

Baoase is only 15 minutes from the airport and has a hideaway vibe so perfect for couple’s getaways or honeymoons.  All 23 suites offer butler service, so you’ll be pampered during your stay.  With 75% of the land natural, Curacao has lagoons, caves, beaches, and marine life ready for you to explore.

My clients get a room upgrade if available, breakfast daily, and a resort credit – major perks!  It’s family-owned and run which makes it extra easy for me to VIP you!

Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena

Colombia – Alternative to Mexico

You may not have Cartagena, Colombia on your radar or travel bucket list but you really should.  A hidden gem, it’s a fantastic alternative to Mexico and only a four-hour flight from New York City.  My partners at Sofitel Legend Santa Clara Cartagena love to show off their beautiful walled city to Americans.  Why is the city walled?  To protect it from pirates, back in the day of course.  The hotel is a 400-year-old convent built in 1621 with the largest pool in the city.  It’s truly gorgeous!

Coming in 2022, there will be a sister property on the beach that’s only a short boat ride away.  I can design your itinerary to include both experiences; city and then the beach is a win-win! 

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Abu Dhabi Surprises and Delights

Abu Dhabi is an ideal choice for an unconventional, adventurous, and downright amazing vacation.  It offers white sand beaches, a cosmopolitan city, desert adventures like sandboarding and fat biking, and jaw-dropping architecture.  Love cars?  The Ferrari World Theme Park is for all ages.   

Believe it or not, Abu Dhabi is easy to get to from JFK – there is a daily non-stop, 13-hour flight on Etihad, the national airline for the UAE, and a Jet Blue and American Airlines codeshare.  My partner at Etihad knows many of my clients fly out of JFK so passed this tip on for us.  Have some points to use?  I’ll plan your land, and you book the air!

💎 Hidden Gem TipYou can combine your Abu Dhabi visit with Dubai (only a bit over an hour’s drive away) or the Seychelles or Maldives for that bucket list beach experience.

Cappadocia, Turkey

Have and Do It All in Turkey

April through October, Turkey is alive for tourism.  Non-stop flights are offered 3 times per week from JFK on Turkish Airlines, reports my tourism partner who is based in New York and travels back/forth frequently.  Staff in the tourism industry in Turkey are vaccinated as they prioritized them to allow tourism to bounce back quickly. 

Ten days in Turkey is a good amount of time for first-time visits.  School-aged children and history buffs will be amazed by what they learn and see in Turkey, especially in Istanbul where the east meets west.

For the adventurous, a trip to Cappadocia for a hot air balloon ride over the unique moon-like landscape is a major bucket list experience. Shoppers will relish in the bazaars, and foodies can take cooking classes with a chef and will learn to make traditional Turkish dishes after purchasing the ingredients at a local market.

And this trip will be seamless thanks to my Virtuoso network travel supplier who has been supporting American tourists through Turkey for the last 20 years! 

Singapore at night

Incredible Singapore!

I had such a fascinating conversation with my contact at the Singapore Tourism Board.  While many travel lovers are familiar with the incredible Sky Park on top of the Marina Sands Resort and the historic Raffles Hotel Singapore which dates to the late 1800s, I asked about hidden gem experiences that could be included in a traditional itinerary. She recommended the fascinating culinary scene in Chinatown (heard of Hakka?).  Or taking a private tour of the Formula One racetrack.  Or the Intan Museum which is in someone’s private home (by appointment only of course). 

Obviously, Singapore is truly a plan now to travel later destination when the country is reopened to tourism.  But they are looking forward to welcoming back international tourism as soon as possible.

Final note:  If you love to dream about travel, then check out the free to use  Virtuoso Wanderlist, a cool trip-inspiration platform where you browse, save, and share vacation ideas with others of your choice – including friends, family, and me your travel advisor. The interactive tool lets you create a wish list and plan into the future.  It’s like Netflix for travel!

Inspired? If you’re intrigued about an exotic, dream destination for a future vacation and want to brainstorm, here’s the link to schedule a chat with me www.hiddengemtravelconsulting.com/contact

💎 Hidden Gem Tip:  Follow my Facebook/Instagram pages this week for more travel inspiration:  www.facebook.com/hiddengemtravelconsulting or Instagram: www.instagram.com/hidden.gem.travel

Wishing you and your family continued good health,


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Hi, I'm Susan Wilson

I’m the founder of Hidden Gem Travel Consulting. As your personal travel advisor, I craft custom worldwide itineraries that astound and inspire you.


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