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Thanks to COVID-19 vaccines, many in Hollywood are traveling again.
In recent weeks, Miles Teller and wife Keleigh Sperry as well as Shailene Woodley and fiance Aaron Rodgers hiked in Hawaii; Molly Sims and husband Scott Stuber, Netflix’s head of global film, hit St. Barts; and Winston Duke hung out at Four Seasons Punta Mita, north of Puerto Vallarta in Mexico.
And as restrictions loosen up, travel specialists are noticing a trend. “Summer travel is much more emotional and intentional for our clients. People are less frenetic and are just really looking forward to getting back to the places that have previously brought a lot of happiness,” says Melissa Biggs Bradley, founder of boutique members-only travel company Indagare. Lia Batkin, co-founder of Virtuoso agency In The Know Experiences has heard the same sentiments. “Many travelers want to go back to something they love rather than trying out a new destination, with private yacht charters being particularly popular as well.”
That holds true for Lionsgate and BBC Studios L.A. Partnership head of scripted programming Rachel Bendavid, who is planning a return trip to Zihuatanejo, Mexico. “Being there is comfort food for us,” she says. Echoes Jennifer Gwartz, executive vp at UCP, “We’re returning to Nantucket, where we’ve spent past summers,” she says. “It’s back to basics, reuniting with friends and appreciating quieter, meaningful moments together.”
After missing going to Cape Cod last year due to the pandemic, casting director Seth Yanklewitz and his family can’t wait to return this summer. “Summers in Provincetown have been a tradition for us,” he says. “We’ll be there for two weeks along with five other families.”
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Europe also is calling as many countries have opened or soon will open their borders to American visitors. “This is the time to experience Europe as authentically as you can without cruise ships, tour buses and wall-to-wall crowds,” says Jack Ezon, founder of bespoke travel company Embark Beyond. Bendavid and her family, recognizing the opportunity, later this summer will head to Spain (where Madrid’s grand Belle Epoque-era Mandarin Oriental Ritz recently reopened). “We’ve spent time there, it’s familiar and will feel more relaxing now,” says Bendavid.
TV producer Laurie Zaks plans to travel to Puglia. “I haven’t been on a plane for over a year, but I love Italy and it feels like a good time to go,” she says. Many new sumptuous boutique hotels in the region are also luring industry executives including Borgo Santandrea on the Amalfi Coast, complete with a private sandy beach and the Castello di Reschio, a dazzling 36-room restored castle in the Umbrian countryside.
Given updated European entry requirements, planning is critical to avoid delays. “Each country has its own nuances, so plan ahead and double down on VIP greeters [through airport concierge services] to help usher you through arrival,” says Ezon. “Italy alone requires several conditions be met to enter without quarantining, including a 72-hour PCR test prior to boarding what’s designated as a COVID-Free Flight, followed by a rapid test upon arrival, and those testing and immigration lines can be over two hours long.” Ezon also recommends getting a membership to Covac Global, a medical evacuation repatriation service. “If you get COVID overseas, they’ll get you home safely.”
Those who find Europe still too daunting are vacationing closer to home. “No flying for us,” says This Radicle Act president Karyn Smith-Forge. She plans to spend time in Santa Barbara County’s bucolic Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Recently opened properties there include the Hotel Ynez, featuring hammock-studded guest room patios and a pool (a rarity for the area). Chef-helmed restaurants to check out include Peasants Feast, Coast Range & Vaquero Bar and Tavern at Zaca Creek.
In Sonoma, the reservation to score will be at chef Dustin Valette’s new experiential restaurant The Matheson when it opens in July on Healdsburg’s historic plaza. In Northern California’s wine country, MacArthur Place, Beltane Ranch and Auberge du Soleil are the most sought-after properties thanks to the bungalow-style guest rooms and private, expansive settings. “Everyone wants stand-alone accommodations in wide open spaces,” says Biggs Bradley. With wine tastings by appointment only and booking up, Nigel and Allyson Weekes of Bohemian Highway Travel Co. design unforgettable, private tasting experiences at such wineries as B. Wise Vineyards, Aperture Cellars, Three Sticks Wines and Far Niente.
Among mountain areas in the West, a hot new getaway spot is The Green O, an adults-only forest hideaway of 12 modernist home-style accommodations on The Resort at Paws Up’s 37,000-acre ranch in Greenough, Montana. It’s said to be one of the toughest reservations this summer as are both The Gant and The Residences at Aspen Valley Ranch in Aspen. Says Biggs Bradley, “We’re seeing an intense desire to be immersed in nature. It’s about returning nostalgically to those days of summers past.”
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A version of this story first appeared in the June 16 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.
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