This unique nature resort floats in the cloud forest near the Lost City of the Andes – Machu Picchu. As part of the Inkaterra stable, which has pioneered sustainable tourism since the 1970s, the hotel shares in the holistic approach of bringing together scientific research with conservation.
There are 81 traditional Andean casitas with huge windows overlooking the forest, large fireplaces, Andean artefacts, alpaca blankets and lovely bathrooms. Some suites have a terrace or balcony. A beautiful restaurant, with thatched roof and glass walls, serves local food and the Spa offers a range of natural treatments.
The on-site eco-centre introduces guests to local conservation projects, offering the chance to take part in a range of itineraries or customise a bespoke experience. As well as visiting the world-famous Machu Picchu, trips are also arranged to the nearby Andean Bear Centre and local tea plantation. Treks through the forest, particularly on the Orchid Trail, reveal the diversity and beauty of this precious environment.
Osaka is Japan’s second largest city and the birthplace of the traditional Japanese tea ceremony. Maikoya, a former geisha house, hosts professionally taught introductions to this ancient cultural pastime.
Visitors, sitting on tatami mats, wear authentic kimono robes and learn to make the unique green match tea. Japanese sweets, specially made to complement the flavour of the tea, are served during the ceremony.
Taught in English by a Japanese Tea Master, the ceremony lasts around an hour. Guests can choose to experience the ritual in a group setting or pay more for a private lesson.
The artistic form of this ritual, from adopting the correct posture to learning how to pour and sip the tea, requires focus and concentration. It is a contemplative process, with periods of silence as the tea steeps, settling the mind into a zen-like calm.
Maikoya is a cultural hub, intent on preserving and educating people on Japanese culture. The six-storied traditional building, complete with rickshaw outside, was once home to Osaka geisha who were highly trained in the arts and conversation. Calligraphy tools and artwork decorate the space, giving a taster of the the Samurai tradition which is so integral to Japanese culture.
The ‘hamster-wheel’ of suburban life is losing its appeal. Families are struggling with traffic-clogged morning commutes, fighting for places in decent schools, blindly pushing their kids through rigid and irrelevant subject curriculums and then having to pay double for a packed-out Majorca week during inflexible school holidays … just to get a brief rest.
To counter this, some families are opting for a year of ‘eventure’ where education comes from the wider perspective of travel and adventure. With over 40% of parents expected to be freelance workers by 2020 and homeschooling growing at an exponential rate, the choice to shun the conventions of traditional family norms is on the rise.
Embarking on a global adventure as a family is an opportunity to live and learn together – far from modern pressures. Travel is a great teacher and Instagram is awash with people embracing this idea.
The @bucketlistfamily have been travelling together since 2015, choosing to sell everything at home and take their children around the world. Working as travel journalists, with a huge Instagram and You Tube following, finances their long-term commitment (not to mention selling an app to Snapchat!).
But taking time off together as a family doesn’t have to be a such a permanent choice. Many people decide to take a year (or less) away from their hectic lives, opting for a ‘sabbatical’ approach so they can maintain and return to their jobs and schools, hopefully as more well-rounded people.
For those dreaming of ditching the school-run, chicken dippers, homework and ‘no-screen-time-before-bed’ nags …. repeat …. then where will you go? Popular choices for the intrepid travelling family include a Rwandan safari, shark-swimming in the Bahamas, Greek island-hopping, hiking in the Swiss Alps, snorkelling the coral reefs of Belize and joining a community project in Nepal.
You’ll need money of course, but when all the pennies are spent you will be richer in experience with memories of invaluable time together as a family to last you all a lifetime.