On Location: Montage Residences Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii

On Location: Montage Residences Kapalua Bay, Maui, Hawaii

By Camilla McLaughlin

Photo courtesy of Montage Residences Kapalua Bay

PHOTO COURTESY MONTAGE RESIDENCES KAPALUA BAY


No matter where you live, a trip to Maui is never short, but it only takes seconds after arriving at the Montage Residences Kapalua Bay to know the effort is more than worthwhile. Guests are greeted with a lei and refreshing pineapple, the staff pretty much takes over, and a sense of relaxation begins to take hold almost immediately. Lisa Hatem, the broker handling the residences, says the resort is really all about the experience and often visitors will confide that “they haven’t seen their partner so relaxed.”
Talk to those who know the land here and they will tell you the feeling is rooted to the spirit of the place. Kapalua Bay was a retreat for Hawaiian royalty and the setting is remarkable, even for Hawaii. Nestled in one of Hawaii’s largest nature preserves, the 22-acre property occupies a peninsula where waves break along black jagged lava rocks on one side and one of the best beaches in the country curves around the protected waters of Kapalua Bay — ideal for paddle boarding and snorkeling — on the other.
Photo courtesy of Montage Residences Kapalua Bay

PHOTO COURTESY MONTAGE RESIDENCES KAPALUA BAY


The resort is comprised of 50 luxury suites and 84 oceanfront private residences. The three- and four-bedroom residences combine the Hawaiian aesthetic with a contemporary feeling. They are gracious, comfortable, and beautifully designed. Deep lanais extend the living outdoors, opening to a tropical panorama of sea, sky, and green with the island of Molokai in the distance. The ocean is close enough for the surf to lull you to sleep at night.
A three-tier, lagoon-style pool surrounded by gardens and overlooking the ocean sits in the center of the resort. Cane & Canoe is the signature restaurant, and, along with the Sunset Patio, it’s a great place to enjoy the sunset. There is so much to do at this resort — from learning about Hawaiian heritage to yoga on the lawn — but it is the Montage’s exceptional, genuine, and intuitively flawless service that takes it to the next level. For example, a call to room service and a question about wine immediately connects you to the sommelier.
Photo Courtesy of Montage Residences Kapalua Bay

PHOTO COURTESY MONTAGE RESIDENCES KAPALUA BAY


Silla Kaina, Montage’s cultural advisor, is on hand to explain the Aloha spirit and talk about the history of the location. She says, “You come to Montage as a guest but you leave as family.” And it’s true.
A limited number of residences are still available, and prices begin just under $4 million.
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Going Global: Private Mediterranean Island Boasts Rare Development

Private Mediterranean Island Boasts Rare Development

By Christine Aebischer

Isla de Espalmador, an approximately 338-acre private island set between Ibiza and Formentera in the Las Salines Natural Park, is listed for €24 million. Among its top features are the island’s existing developments, which are a rarity in the Mediterranean, where planning permission is hard to obtain.
Photo courtesy of Vladi Private Islands

PHOTO COURTESY VLADI PRIVATE ISLANDS


The island features two traditional Balearic villas, a chapel, watchtower, and several additional outbuildings, all of which offer breathtaking views of the turquoise Mediterranean waters, stretching all the way to Ibiza. “It’s rare to find islands as beautiful as this one on the market,” says Farhad Vladi, president and founder of Vladi Private Islands, the exclusive listing broker of Isla de Espalmador. “Factor in the prime location — just minutes away from the coast of Ibiza — and its existing developments, and you’ve got a very special property indeed.”
The island features white-sand beaches, Mediterranean landscapes, picturesque coves, and crystal-clear waters. Now for sale for only the second time in history, Isla de Espalmador has belonged to four generations of the same family since the late 1920s and has hosted generations of Europe’s royalty, aristocracy, and celebrities.
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Fabulous Finds: Dallas' Museum Tower Over 50 Percent Sold

Dallas’ Museum Tower Over 50 Percent Sold

By Christine Aebischer

The contemporary 42-story luxury residential high-rise in the heart of Dallas’ Arts District, known as Museum Tower, is now over 50 percent sold. The unique building was designed by renowned architect Scott Johnson of Johnson Fain and offers over 100 residences in nine floor plans.
Residences range from an intimate 1,800-square-foot pied-à-terre to the sprawling, over 9,000-square-foot penthouse, listed for $24 million. The crown jewel of Museum Tower features 12-foot-high ceilings, an additional 5,600 square feet of rooftop terrace, and has a $3 million build-out allowance.

PHOTO COURTESY MUSEUM TOWER


Additional residences include one-, two-, and three-bedroom condominiums featuring floor-to-ceiling glass, direct-access elevators, and outdoor terraces to enjoy the unobstructed Dallas views. Amenities include a director of resident relations, 24/7 concierge service, private gathering and event spaces, an outdoor pool, beautiful outdoor space, and a state-of-the-art fitness center.
“Museum Tower represents a superior location, a masterfully designed piece of architecture, and offers an unmatched residents’ services and amenities program that differentiates it from other high-rises in Dallas,” says Robbie Briggs, president and CEO of Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty, the exclusive listing broker for Museum Tower.
As one of the fastest growing U.S. cities and a center for international business operations, Dallas has catapulted to the top ranks of international corporate headquarters. Museum Tower’s proximity to downtown and uptown Dallas, as well as West End and Victory Park, make for an enviable location within the growing metropolis.
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Unique Properties

$725 Million Waggoner Ranch Sells

By Kirsten Niper

The renowned W.T. Waggoner Ranch sold in February to Stan Kroenke, owner of the Los Angeles Rams and Denver Nuggets. This is the first ever sale of the ranch, which was established in 1849 and spans approximately 535,000 acres, six Texas counties, and almost 800 square miles, making it the largest ranch in the United States within a single fence. It also includes 30,000 acres of farmland, in addition to thousands of cattle, hundreds of horses, and oil wells.

PHOTO COURTESY HALL AND HALL


Dallas real estate broker Bernard Uechtritz, one of the seller’s representatives, arrived at the list price of $725 million by beginning with the per-acre value of other ranch sales in the area. Then, he counted the five operations on the ranch — cattle, horses, oil, farming, and water — as separate businesses.

PHOTO COURTESY HALL AND HALL


Urechritz and real estate broker Sam Middleton, principal of Chas. S. Middleton, advertised across the globe, and soon pre-qualified buyers from the Middle East, China, Russia, United Kingdom, Germany, and Australia came to visit. One of the interested parties was Kroenke. “When it became listed, Stan and I talked about it, and he decided he wanted to look closely at it,” says Joel Leadbetter, Kroenke’s broker at Hall and Hall.
Photo courtesy of Hall & Hall

PHOTO COURTESY HALL AND HALL


After touring the ranch by land and air, Leadbetter says, “Stan was intrigued with the land, its enterprises, its history and legacy in Texas.” The shareholders and trustees of the ranch moved forward with Kroenke in part due to his conservationist mindset and respectful treatment of his other ranches.

PHOTO COURTESY HALL AND HALL

California Dreaming: A $500 million (Under Construction) Mansion

Expected to be finished in 2017, this mansion in the hills of Bel Air will enjoy 360-degree views encompassing the San Gabriel Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. The mansion, when completed, will span 100,000 square feet and will be twice the size of the White House. According to GQ magazine, the home will have “five swimming pools, a casino, a nightclub with a VIP area, a lounge with jellyfish tanks in lieu of walls and ceilings,” plus an entire temperature-controlled room to store fresh flowers.
Nile Niami is developing the home, and broker Drew Fenton of Hilton & Hyland holds the listing.
Often referred to as “The One,” the mansion will be surrounded on three sides by a moat and other water features; a separate area with monitors, plus a guard gate for security; a 5,000-square-foot guesthouse with an infinity pool; and a “sky deck,” which will have a putting green, bar, a lounge area, and covered loggias, according to GQ.
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45 Years of Luxury

Finding the Ultimate Homes

By Camilla McLaughlin

Austin ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / ROSCHETZKYISTOCKPHOTO

Austin
©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / ROSCHETZKYISTOCKPHOTO


The top luxe locations in the U.S. have evolved quite a bit in Unique Homes’ 45-year history.
Location might be a fundamental that drives value, but in the world of luxury real estate the status of any one place often depends on the moment.
“It’s not location, location, location; it’s timing, timing, timing,” says Jeff Hyland of Hilton & Hyland in Beverly Hills.
When Unique Homes was founded in the early 1970s, the decades-long migration to suburbia was still underway, with affluent homeowners gravitating to traditional upscale enclaves such as Greenwich, Connecticut or Saddle River, New Jersey. West Coast luxury stars included Beverly Hills, Holmby Hills, and Bel Air. Fledging resorts like Vail were just gaining recognition and Cabo remained an exclusive domain of Hollywood glitterati.
Today, urban centers account for some of luxury’s most coveted addresses. A new generation of even more indulgent retreats and a growing number of ultra-private communities are rising to replace traditional grande dame resorts that have lost exclusivity. And many more cities have thriving high-end markets, while properties in well-established upscale enclaves are creating new paradigms for size, finish, and amenities.
Geography of luxury
Over the years, the preferred places for the wealthy change and evolve. Some fall out of favor, and then a decade later might be rediscovered. New in-demand locales emerge, while blue-chip mainstays seem to be insulated from the vagaries of the market. “As the market gets better and better, areas on the fringe will be included,” says Hyland of L.A.’s Westside neighborhoods.
One of the biggest catalysts over the years has been new industries and sources of wealth. Apple Computer was founded at the same time as Unique Homes, but the tech revolution that would incubate a new crop of millionaires was in the future. “San Jose was a bit of a sleeper,” recalls Paul Boomsma, president, Luxury Portfolio International and COO, LeadingRE.
“With regard to San Francisco, traditionally there were certainly wineries and some nice estate properties up in the wine country, specifically Pacific Heights — that’s really where the wealth was. Now that’s kind of dwarfed by some of these really large homes in Silicon Valley, which didn’t really exist,” Boomsma explains. In the Bay area, sales of homes priced above $10 million were up 57 percent last year, even though limited inventory put a damper on overall transactions, according to Coldwell Banker Real Estate research.
Hawaii ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / TRACEROUDA

Hawaii
©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / TRACEROUDA


In 1995, around our 25th anniversary, the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals worldwide was just 84,974. Flash ahead 20 years and the ultra-high-net-worth population (those who have more than $30 million in net assets) hovers at 211,275, a 150-percent increase. More than almost any other factor, this wealth explosion is changing the geography of luxury in the U.S. and worldwide. “Suddenly a $10 million condo isn’t noteworthy,” says Boomsma. Recalling Manhattan of 20 years ago, he says, “The most desirable residential properties were co-ops. The number of really extreme properties in Manhattan was not that great. I am not sure a $10 million co-op existed.”
Still, coops continue to be “very unique, highly sought after,” says Philip White, president and CEO of Sotheby’s International Realty, who compares them to a private club, since a purchase requires board approval.
Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Seattle, and Denver are all cities rapidly acquiring high-end neighborhoods. “Those cities were not considered luxury destinations, but look at the market share and the increases in million-dollar homes — in some cases 20 percent — and I think that makes them a new player,” says Craig Hogan, vice president of luxury for Coldwell Banker Real Estate. According to Coldwell Banker Previews’ Spring 2016 Luxury Market Report, Austin, Dallas, and Seattle were among the top 20 markets for $1 million-plus sales. Denver was cited as an up-and-coming million-dollar location, while sales above $5 million are on the rise in Dallas.
For this article, we happened to catch up with Hogan in Bellevue, Washington. “It’s an eye-opening experience,” he says. “The market is off the hook. It’s a hot market with average days on market around 45 days, and people are paying over asking price.”
The explosion of wealth is also upping the ante for what it takes for a home to be deemed upscale, and this is especially true in some traditional locations known for luxury. Historic estates in the Hamptons have been on and off our list of the most expensive, beginning with Three Ponds Farm Estate, our very first Ultimate Home, listed at $75 million, in 2005. Another landmark, Eothen—the Church Estate, at $45 million — was No. 10 in that same issue. The Hamptons might be perennially platinum but “homes there have also become extreme,” says Boomsma, pointing to the boost in incomes from the stock market as well as venture capital and hedge fund money that has pushed the parameters for luxury here (and in other places as well).
The Hamptons ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / MIKEREGA

The Hamptons
©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / MIKEREGA


In 2015, Beverly Hills saw 37 sales over $20 million, and a majority were to residents of the U.S. “When I moved here from Houston, I wasn’t prepared for the level of housing here,” says Ann Dashiell with Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Beverly Hills, who was one of Houston’s top real estate brokers. Currently, she is listing one of the most expensive homes in the U.S.
Nothing has made inaccessible or inconvenient locations more appealing than private aviation. In the last 15 years, fractional jet ownership has carved out a new landscape for resort properties. “Today the private jet has completely changed where people are able to build homes. Hawaii has a much larger contingent of really ultra-wealthy properties, and they’re resort homes. They are for people who are not primary residents. That would not have been available without private jets,” shares Boomsma. In the Ultimate list for 2016, Hawaii has more entries than Connecticut.
Among properties listed in Ultimate Homes, both California and New York outpace other states in terms of the number of homes priced above $20 million. Both areas, along with Florida, also have been beneficiaries of the growing recognition of the U.S. as a safe haven by international buyers. Mention New York or Beverly Hills almost anywhere, and instantly there is a recognition of value and worth. “You can be walking down the street in China, and if you say you are in Beverly Hills, everyone knows it,” says Dashiell. International interest and the growing perception of the U.S. as a safe haven are driving upscale demand in both primary and second home locations, and that is shaping the luxury landscape.
Beaufort ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / &#169 ALAN TOBEY

Beaufort
©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / © ALAN TOBEY


Prime properties reach new heights
The popularity of urban living might seem like a recent craze, but it began decades ago in New York as downsizing boomers happily exchanged large suburban homes for resort-like services and city living. The 1990 census showed the first net migration back to the city in 60 years. “That was the start of the reurbanization of American cities. New York led the way,” says David Michonski, who recalls, “We were in the midst of a mega trend.”
Similar moves were underway in Boston, and soon the trend extended to Philadelphia, Chicago, and other major cities. Even today’s resurgence in Atlanta is an outgrowth. “The trend has continued and now it’s on steroids,” says Michonski.
Although high rises always have been part of the urban experience, the buildings being created today deliver an entirely new vision of city living. Stunning architecture, views, and the latest electronics are only part of the lifestyle, which often includes a huge range of amenities from ice skating rinks to multiple pools, art installations, and — in the case of one building in Midtown Manhattan — a club for dogs. Even a garage outside the door of your home on the 58th floor is possible. It’s all part of the new urban lifestyle, something those early urban “pioneers” in the 1970s could not have envisioned.
Pacific Heights ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / &#169 RAFAEL RAMIREZ LEE

Pacific Heights
©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / © RAFAEL RAMIREZ LEE


The Big Apple, more polished than ever
New York continues to be the epicenter of luxury real estate in the U.S., with over 50 percent more $20 million-plus listings than California in 2016. It is notable that the average price of a Manhattan apartment topped $2 million in the first quarter of 2016, a year-over-year increase of 18 percent. The median price increased by roughly 17 percent, and came in at just over $1.1 million. Although the pinnacle of real estate in the Big Apple has been receiving mixed reviews, reports of mega sales continue. Manhattan and New York City make up the bulk of the New York entries on our Ultimate list. Prices in the Hamptons continue to rise, with about 70 priced over $20 million. Hot in the Hamptons are East Hampton, Southhampton, Quogue, Watermill, and Wainscott. Rye, in Westchester County, is one of the few primary home locations on our list.
California
California consistently vies with New York for having the greatest number of homes priced above $20 million. More places have also become ultra-high-end enclaves. Places with the highest number of listings include Beverly Hills and Bel Air. In recent years, buyers in California have shifted priorities. “In general the luxury buyer wants attractive architecture,” explains Joyce Rey, executive director, Coldwell Banker Previews International in Beverly Hills. “The style has changed, with growing preference for contemporary, but they still want privacy and the prime location change is the gravitation toward views and an emphasis on contemporary architecture.” Holmby Hills is perennially platinum on Ultimate lists. Malibu had the highest sale in the area in 2015 and continues to be an evergreen luxury location as do Montecito, Santa Barbara, La Jolla, and Los Altos.
Florida   
The Sunshine State was hard hit by the recession. Many suggested it would take decades for the housing industry there to recover. Although some locations are still not back to pre-recession prices, the problem in many cities and resort locations is lack of inventory. Luxury in Miami has been moving at a hyper-fast place. On the west coast, places such as Naples that have always been upscale but not uber luxury are now considered luxury enclaves. “Ten years ago, Naples wasn’t nearly what it is today. For many, it is their favorite place in Florida,” says White. In fact, the number of $20 million properties in Naples is very close to the number in Palm Beach. Delray and Fort Lauderdale are seeing a resurgence of upscale properties. Additionally, a number of other places are experiencing the resurgence of luxury including Hobe Sound, Longboat Key, Vero Beach, and Wellington.
Telluride ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / AMEDVED

Telluride
©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / AMEDVED


Resorting to resorts
Second home sales reached their highest level in recent years. Upscale consumers often have more than one vacation home. Locations range all over the country, depending on passions and interests.
Colorado in recent years has had more entries in our Ultimate publication, particularly this year when Colorado properties outnumber those in Connecticut. While this might be a function of inventories, it is also an indication of the growth of luxury. Aspen had one of the highest priced properties in 2015, and it remains a luxury star, as do Vail, Beaver Creek, Crested Butte, and Telluride. Ranch properties add a range of places, including Hesperus and Woody Creek. Park City, Utah is on the verge of offering competition to Colorado luxury.
Hawaii has become another luxury stronghold, and new resorts in Maui and other islands are raising the bar for translating the Aloha spirit. The new language of luxury includes places such as Kilauea, Kailua, Kalaheo, Princeville, and Lahina. And of course Honolulu.
But these few states, along with Florida, are really only the beginning of luxury resort locations, including Flathead Lake and Whitefish, Montana. And Southern stars, including Kiawah Island and Beaufort, South Carolina.
Miami ©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / MEINZAHN

Miami
©ISTOCKPHOTO.COM / MEINZAHN

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Unique Homes Visits Palmetto Bluff

By Camilla McLaughlin
A resort one-and-a-half times the size of Manhattan might sound too good to be true, but last week I got a chance to find out that such things still exist when Unique Homes visited Montage Palmetto Bluff, a new resort in Bluffton, South Carolina. The location, little more than 30 minutes from Savannah’s airport and about 15 miles east of Hilton Head, couldn’t be more ideal for Low Country explorations. There is a real sense of relaxation and a disconnect from the world that begins as you pass under massive live oaks and magnolias draped with Spanish moss on the 4-mile drive into the resort. Equally relaxing were the deep porches on our home away from home — “porching” is actually listed as an activity here.
But, we had an extensive itinerary of activities planned so we had to tear ourselves away from the view of the pond in front of our house. A network of streams and rivers (32 miles of riverside) offer lots of opportunities for paddling and fishing. On an excursion in the May River, a few Bottlenose dolphins kept our boat — a recently refurbished classic — company. We also had a chance for a quick boat trip to nearby Bluffton to check out the farmers’ market and to take the pulse of local real estate, in addition to purchasing famed Georgia peaches. Montage’s excellent service meant we really didn’t have to think about a thing while here, plus bikes and golf carts are also available for guest’s use.
The best part of the trip was an opportunity to experience the sheer size and diversity of this property — which has 20 different habitat types — and learning about all the efforts to maintain as many pristine acres as possible. We also had a chance to try our hand at skeet shooting, which I think might become a new passion.
Right now, the center of Palmetto Bluff is a quaint village along the May River, but several other villages are planned or under construction. Nearing completion was a new inn and Montage Residences, which gives anyone who wants to visit more options. But be careful, owners told me they loved the resort so much they purchased property on their first visit; Palmetto Bluff offers so much that it’s hard to leave. This really is a property to fall in love with.
(Photos of gun and view from porch are by Caitlin McLaughlin. All other images are courtesy Montage.)
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Photographer Documents Journey Through North Pole

A photographer’s journey through the North Pole is documented through his new book, “Arctica: The Vanishing North,” a tribute to one of the most beautiful and rarely seen places on Earth.

By Kirsten Niper

Sebastian Copeland, an internationally renowned photographer, polar explorer, author and environmentalist, has released a new photography book, titled “Arctica: The Vanishing North.”

Copeland has nurtured a fascination for the polar regions since childhood. “I was naturally attracted to distant and frozen landscapes and developed an early taste for adventure. My experiences developed from the mountains to the polar regions about 10 years ago. Since then, I have made the poles the center of my interest and focus of my travels. They allow me to capitalize on my artistic skill as a photographer, bringing back images that help people fall in love with their world.”

Often perceived as a misconceived treasure, people seldom make the journey. Part of Copeland’s goal is to get people to discover their world. “My motto is ‘get out — it’s out there,’” but realizing that it may be hard for others to make it to the Arctic, a landmass one and a half times the size of the United States, Copeland takes us there.

“I aim to take them there. Being confronted with the beauty that surrounds outside the confined convenience of urban living is also the best way to empathize,” shares Copeland.

Using weather-resistant equipment that can store large files, Copeland discovered that the Arctic is a “35 millimeter environment. I learned that from trying my hand at larger formats on earlier trips; the results were great, but hard earned on the equipment and the work. I learned my lesson on the ice, you need to shoot a lot of frames because of the variables. It gives me even greater respect for the pioneers: Frank Hurley, Herbert Ponting and George Lowe.”

Even the logistics are more complicated when shooting in the Arctic, and equipment protocols are often the greatest challenge. Batteries are stored close to the body for warmth, as they cannot last in cold weather. In order to get a shot, one has to find the camera and appropriate lens, locate the battery and insert the battery into the camera, all without wearing gloves. Then, shooting also has its additional challenges, as heat from one’s eyelids can fog the eyepiece and instantly freeze it.

The environment of the Arctic lends itself to a point-and-shoot approach, and the results will always be exotic. However, Copeland has learned to look for specific elements and tries to find himself in front of the right subject. “That, perhaps more than anything, is the more difficult work,” he shares. “Primarily, I look for unique perspectives. The beauty of these regions is the open spaces, the lack of clutter. This allows shapes or subjects to really stand out.”

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Luxury Experiences in South Africa

By Sarah Binder

Today, travelers to South Africa are canvassing far more ground than the traditional trio of Cape Town, Johannesburg, and the popular game reserves. The call of the wild still beckons, yet it is enticing tourists to experience lush wineries, life-changing encounters with sea creatures, and interactions with friendly locals.

“South Africa offers the best value for the money in the world,” says Daniela Bonanno, Africa manager for Absolute Travel. The culturally and geographically diverse country allows all travelers to craft memorable vacations keyed on their interests — safari, art, wine, food, city life or sporting adventures. Several tour providers have expertise in designing customized luxury itineraries, and they are increasingly recommending unique experiences that result in once-in-a-lifetime trips.

“While the typical safari, Cape Town and Victoria Falls packages will always be popular, we try our best to get people off of the normal circuit and thinking outside of the box,” says Candice Heckel, product manager for Down Under Endeavours. “Why not visit Madikwe Game Reserve instead of Kruger National Park? Or engage with the meerkats in the Green Kalahari, South Africa’s green desert?”

Tracking the Big Ten

“The biggest draw for South Africa is, of course, the wildlife — safari experiences always take the cake. However, I don’t think most people realize the diversity of wildlife found in the country,” says Heckel. In addition to the ever-popular Big Five game animals — the African lion, African elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and white/black rhinoceros — South Africa offers a variety of exciting ways to engage with the marine big five — the southern right whale, great white shark, bottlenose and humpback dolphins, Cape fur seal and African penguin.

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve, at the southernmost tip of Africa where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans collide, partners with Dyler Island Cruises to provide guided tours with marine biologists on eco-friendly vessels. Travelers can gaze upon Cape fur seals sunning themselves on Geyser Rock, keep an eye out for curious southern right whales floating alongside the vessel, and snap endless photos of endangered African 

of the Atlantic Ocean, Table Bay Harbour, the city skyline and Table Mountain. The latest development, the Silo district, will house Africa’s first major museum of contemporary art; the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa is set to open there in late 2016/early 2017.

For the most serious oenophiles, South Africa has blossomed into a must-visit destination. Venturing inland from Cape Town, the picturesque towns of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch, the country’s second oldest town and center of its wine industry, are well-established locations showcasing gourmet food and premium wines. By exploring further afield, visitors can sip varietals in the lesser-known, but very welcoming vineyards in the Swartland, Wellington and Tulbagh regions. Popular varietals in South Africa include versatile Chenin blanc and bold Pinotage, as well as complex Bordeaux blends and sophisticated Shiraz.

Making Connections

Due to the significant travel time from the U.S., and the vast array of experiences to be had in such a large country, South Africa is a destination that warrants a stay of at least 10 to 14 days, according to Fielding. “There’s so much diversity in the destination that it really warrants having a planned itinerary,” he adds. The country is differentiated from the rest of Africa in that it is relatively easy to travel within, with most people speaking English and a well-developed tourism industry.

In addition, South African locals are notable for their warm, welcoming demeanor toward visitors. “I love how genuine the people are,” says Bonanno. “It’s refreshing to see the level of enthusiasm and creative energy in this country. There is this feeling that something big is about to happen.” For just one way to connect with everyday South African life, Bonanno recommends visiting the Maboneng Precinct in Johannesburg. Locals can guide visitors through the back alleys to explore this incredible example of urban regeneration.

This energy, this feeling of a vibrant country with its doors wide open to embrace all newcomers, may be what remains with travelers long after they have returned home. “Once you go to Africa, you never leave Africa. It’s because of the people, their smiles and the connections that you make while you are there,” says Fielding. “South Africa is an amazing place to reconnect with the human element. The people will approach you with a smile and a hand out to introduce themselves. It’s a different kind of place because of that.”

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