Social distancing and stay-at-home orders as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic have us all feeling a bit of cabin fever and an extra dose of travel wanderlust. So, while we can’t all get out and explore the way we’d like to, several luxury hotel brands and destination marketing companies are bringing the world into your living room. Here are some ways to travel virtually.
Anantara Hotels, Resorts and Spas
Anantara’s global network of experts will be bringing signature indigenous experiences to you at home. Until the time comes to travel safely once again, the Anantara Nomads Blog will be continually connecting everyone with a steady stream of content and stories designed to inspire and provide a positive form of travel escapism during this period of global social distancing.
Anatara properties can share video content and healthy living tips to inspire and stimulate guests. Content includess nourishing and immunity-boosting recipes from chefs, home spa remedies and home workouts and fitness tips, such as martial arts lessons from Vietnam’s Anantara Quy Nhon’s resident Việt Võ Đạo martial arts master. April will be devoted to Earth Month with a series of stories highlighting some of the projects and the team members and Anantara Experts that protect and support the communities.
Anantara Golden Triangle Elephant Camp and Resort will be sharing twice daily live streams from the rescued elephants that reside in the onsite elephant camp supported by Anantara’s charitable non-profit organization. Guests will be able to virtually frolic in the Ruak River as the elephants go about their daily bathing and walk alongside the team of veterinarians fielding questions via Instagram and Facebook.
Acqualina Resort & Spa
Acqualina Resort & Spa is offering a bit of Florida for kids at home. At the resort, the kids’ program includes eco-explorations, arts and crafts, obstacle courses and scavenger hunts. Now, Acqualina is sharing its Feisty Fish videos—the first episode in the “Bringing Acqualina to You”—for inspiration and an arts and crafts project for you and little loved ones to enjoy from the comfort and safety of home.
Acqualina will continue to provide a series of videos bringing the resort into your home.
Belmond Invitations—virtual programs designed to provide entertaining experiences for the armchair traveler—are now available on Belmond IGTV. Earlier this year, Belmond partnered with a number of ambassadors who specialize in cultural activities, from poetry to floral design, to provide guests an intimate look at a destination. Now, Belmond is bringing that same philosophy to its online platforms. Future live programming, which will be announced at a later date, will include poetry and music inspired by travel, calming meditation practices, nourishing nutrition and uplifting floral inspiration.
In addition to the live programs, Belmond has introduced Digital Care Packages across its social media platforms. These posts will encourage guests to channel the calming feeling and experience of being on vacation. Examples of virtual offerings will be guided meditation by wellness experts Nadia Narain and Katia Narain-Phillips to Kate Moss and Reese Witherspoon; recipes for making at-home spa therapies; sensational classical music playlists created by broadcaster and musician Clemency Burton-Hill; and photographs of nature tied to poetry.
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Heritage Malta is Malta’s national agency for museums, conservation practice and cultural heritage. It has collaborated with Google to give people the opportunity to virtually visit several museums and sites through the online platform Google Arts & Culture. Heritage Malta currently has 25 sites available to virtually tour, which includes the Grandmaster’s Palace, Fort St Elmo National War Museum, Ħal Saflieni Hypogeum and the Megalithic Temples..
Musicians and singers in Malta are following suit in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic and sharing their performances online for all to appreciate. Malta’s tenor, Joseph Calleja asked his fans to request songs and arias they would like to hear him sing on his Facebook page.
Heritage Malta is also known for organizing yearly events for the public to witness the Spring equinox and this year it was canceled due to COVID-19. Instead, they live-streamed the event on their Facebook page so no one would miss out.
Imagen del Chile
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Imagen de Chile, the nonprofit country brand organization for the country of Chile, has a free app called Chile 360º for people looking to discover and travel to the country virtually.
Available for iPhone and Android, the app allows for people can explore the majestic Torres del Paine, the Atacama Desert, the mysteries of Easter Island and plenty of other attractions from the safety and comfort of their home by simply using their mobile device or VR glasses.
Additionally, there are numerous museums, such as the National Historic Museum of Chile, that are offering virtual tours. Even more, for people looking for a virtual, “out-of-this-world” escape, they can take a virtual tour of the Santiago, Chile Observatory.
Japan National Tourism Organization
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The Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) made a 360-degree virtual reality movie experience with scenes throughout the country. The movie transports visitors to such locations and experiences as the sculptures of Naoshima, breathtaking bamboo forests, Geisha performances, sumo wrestling and sushi making.
Other experiences include a live feed of Tokyo's world-famous Shibuya Crossing, a popular Neko (cat) Café in Kyoto and Jigokudani, a park in Nagano known for its feisty snow monkeys. Animal lovers should check out the famous Nihondaira Zoo via live stream, as well, where celebrity polar bears (named Rossy and Vanilla) reside (note the "visiting hours" are 7 p.m. and 4 a.m. ET). In Hokkaido, the snow bunny paradise of Niseko Village has a live webcam, allowing people to experience the fresh powder-covered slopes from their couches. Currently, at Hyogo Park in Toyooka City, people can watch the Park's Oriental white storks during hatching season, which lasts until April. Recently, two eggs hatched and viewers can watch as the chicks grow into fledglings. For more sights of Shizuoka Prefecture, Explore Shizuoka has created a virtual experience for anyone to explore the port town of Mochimune.
And of course, no "visit" to Japan would be complete without hanami, the ancient and widely celebrated tradition of admiring flower blossoms. There are a number of 360-degree virtual reality videos available, featuring such locations as Ueno Park in Tokyo, Miharu Falls in Fukushima and Hirosaki Park.
Lights Over Lapland
Specialist Aurora Photography company Lights over Lapland has brought together some of Europe’s best photographers and virtual reality videographers to create three experiences for those suffering wanderlust to virtually travel to Northern Europe and visit ICEHOTEL; visit the local Arctic wilderness; meet local huskies and reindeer; go dogsledding and reindeer sledding; and even join a Northern Lights hunt.
The Virtual adventure starts with a morning at the ICEHOTEL followed by a journey northwest towards the Arctic birch forest. After a stroll through the birch trees, Lights Over Lapland leads you to the shore of Lake Torneträsk where you can take in its scenic views before visiting a reindeer herder and riding in a sleigh behind one of his reindeer. Finally, viewers will visit the Sami hut at the base of Mt. Noulja. After spending a few moments here, you watch the Aurora overhead.
NYC & Company
NYC & Company, the official destination marketing organization for the five boroughs of New York City—in partnership with the Department of Cultural Affairs and Mayor’s Office for Media and Entertainment—is highlighting ways to experience the city’s iconic cultural scene virtually. The resource for this information will be updated on a regular basis during this time.
From educational programs to critically acclaimed independent films; soaring orchestral arrangements to inspired choreography; innovative theater to engaging visual arts; and digitized museum exhibitions to virtual neighborhood tours, there’s something for everyone interested in experiencing New York City from the comfort of their home.
St. Lucia Tourism Authority
The Saint Lucia Tourism Authority (SLTA) is offering consumers a taste of the island from their homes via “7 Minutes in Saint Lucia,” a brand-new social media series that airs twice per week on Instagram. Discover yoga and meditation at the Pitons, make a tropical cocktail with a locally produced favorite, Chairman’s Reserve Rum, or cook an authentic Saint Lucian dish with chef Shorne Benjamin. Additional planned activities in the series include a hike at Tet Paul Nature Trail, guided meditation amidst the Saint Lucian landscape, cocktail crafting with local rum, cocoa tea making with a local chef and lessons about wellness benefits of plants from a local herbalist.
To participate, follow along as the Saint Lucia Tourism Authority broadcasts live from the island. To make the live stream more interactive, viewers are encouraged to participate by commenting and using the hashtag #7MinutesinSaintLucia. The videos will be available on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.