Phoenix, Arizona ~ Here we are, already deep into the second month of 2014, and I have yet to complete our 2013 BEST DESTINATIONS LIST. Well, I’ve decided to let these photographs tell our story for as they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” These images speak volumes about why we feel so blessed to be part of this incredible mind-expanding, soul-enriching, gratitude-instilling, friendship-building adventure! Thank you all for helping turn our dreams into reality. The more we travel, the more we realize how much there is that we do not know. I hope we never stop learning…never stop moving…never stop loving and savoring this gift we call LIFE! On that note, I shall allow these images to speak for themselves.
2013: OH, WHAT A YEAR INDEED!
ESCAPESEEKER Return to “Heaven’s Heaven”
We were even granted some special time to visit the Captain’s Bridge and learn more about how this especially designed vessel is perfect for navigating Tahiti’s shallow channels.
Our team totally engaged.
January was off to such a great start, and with my role as ESCAPESEEKER Guest Speaker on board the m/s Paul Gauguin, and with our TAHITI: OH HEAVEN’S HEAVEN film presentations so well-attended by our fellow passengers, my Executive Assistant, Melody Clyde and I decided to extend our cruise dates so I can continue in my role as Guest Speaker. Frankly, it did not take much convincing to remain on board. The hardest part was finally deciding to disembark at the end of February! But not before I was afforded the opportunity to visit the highly awaited, most eco-friendly luxury resort on the island of Tetiaroa–yes, the private island of one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors, Marlon Brando–thus the name, THE BRANDO!
I was flown by Mr. Richard Bailey from Papeete to Tetiaroa in his private plane which he piloted. How cool is that? As we approached the island, I quietly took in this extraordinary moment. There I was about to land on Marlon Brando’s slice of Tahitian paradise–a former retreat reserved for Tahitian Royals, with Tahiti’s most respected hotelier, and the man Brando personally entrusted to transform his revered island into the ultimate earth-friendly hideaway. Even though my recently injured right foot was well on its way to healing, I decided to keep it protected as Mr. Bailey showed me around the construction site, explaining all the revolutionary, eco-friendly methods they were putting into application to adhere to all of Brando’s strict specifications. I can’t wait to return when it officially opens this July, 2014. I have a feeling the list of guests eager to set foot on THE BRANDO is getting longer by the day. After being impressed with the “before” visit, I can only imagine what the “after” final version will be. Look out world, get ready to add one more “must do” to your Bucket List!
2013 definitely started on the right footing, even with one foot in a cast! I’m continually inspired by the tireless visionaries who go to great lengths to create meaningful travel experiences that are worthy of our hard-earned vacation currency. More than ever, I am driven to seek out those destinations that adhere to our ESCAPESEEKER mantra of being “the greatest luxury escapes in the world.” Just when we thought it could not get any better, our 2013 itinerary turned into a series of dream experiences. The best part, it wasn’t a dream at all, but a reality we cannot wait to capture on film and share with the rest of the world. Thank you all so much for your unwavering support and continued enthusiasm for this insatiable passion for our majestic planet that we all share. Take a peak at where our path led us for the remainder of 2013–from America’s iconic desert oasis of Arizona, to the “Roof of Peru”–Machu Picchu; to the glamour and glitz of the French Riviera; to the grand dame of Formula One racing–Monaco; to the Land of the Gods–Greece; to the only city in the world that spans two continents–Indescribable Istanbul; to the City of Lights–Paris and its historic River Seine; to the River Danube magically illuminated by Brilliant Budapest! 2013–is the year for our ESCAPESEEKER Record Books!
MARCH…a quick Family retreat to America’s Desert Oasis
APRIL …On Top Of The World!
The unforgettable Cannes Premiere evening when we joined the cast and crew of Behind the Candelabra…
We’ll soon find out if Matt Damon’s leading man, Michael Douglas will follow up his Golden Globe with an Oscar!
JUNE…Fun, Sun, Cookin’ and Soul
From a sunset Barbeque on the top deck…to secret hideaway coves usually reserved for Royals…to spotless docks that lead to quaint, quiet villages…You’ll have the option to do as much or as little as your heart desires when you cruise with the m/v Tere Moana.
JULY…Birthday Wish Come True
AUGUST…Where’s My Grandma?
Time for some ESCAPESEEKER GRANDMA bonding moments in the Kamas, Utah riverside meadows…
SEPTEMBER…Finds me crossing the Atlantic again…this time I am bound for ISTANBUL!
OCTOBER…A Season of Learning
After my premiere visit to Istanbul, I prepared for my long-awaited French language extensive immersion program at Alliance française Paris Ile-de-France. Yes! I’m finally going to tackle the French language 24/7. With the kind generosity and hospitality of my life-long friend, Paris native Dominique Caffin-Robert, I found myself in the City of Lights…ready to be schooled in its difficult language…and, for the next six weeks, I would be thinking…talking…dreaming…eating…reading…and playing in French!
NOVEMBER…And, I’m officially excused from school…
I was never very good at playing hookie from school, so when I told my teacher I had a previous ESCAPESEEKER assignment I needed to adhere to, she handed me an official absence request form to fill out. That’s so French right? I mean, the form was in French, and I was required to fill it out in French as well. By the time I finished, I knew I had made great advances in the language and could now thoroughly enjoy my ESCAPE to the DANUBE on board the AMAPrima Waterways. Germany, Austria, Hungary…here I come!
If you wish to make new friends who share your insatiable passion for life, then I recommend you consider cruising with the AMAWaterways fleet! I’ve never met so many tremendously engaging, fun individuals under one roof. I kid you not!
BUDAPEST…AN ENCHANTED EVENING AT ITS BEST…[Image captured from AmaPrima Stateroom 225 Balcony by yours truly, the ESCAPESEEKER on our last night of cruising the Danube. Now is this a magnificent close to an unforgettable week or what? AMAWaterways sure knows how to script. I cannot wait to capture it all on high definition cinematic film someday soon!
HELLO PARIS! ONE FINAL WEEK BEFORE I SAY…Au Revoir…
My last night was spent at my all-time favorite hotel–the SHANGRI-LA HOTEL-PARIS. With its magnificent unobstructed view of the Eiffel Tower at every angle, and the consistently impeccable service and attention to detail, not to mention the quiet residential location…For me, it is simply the perfect place to feel totally Parisien…a rather pampered Parisien that is!
DECEMBER…A Time of Giving…Brings me to the BIG APPLE…NEW YORK CITY.
As my incredibly remarkable year was coming to a close…I knew there was one more important obligation I had to fulfill…my commitment to help with the annual United Nations Ambassadors Ball–a highly anticipated event orchestrated by the Hospitality Committee for the United Nations Delegation. Their mission is as follows:
To promote and strengthen understanding and friendly ties between all levels of the United Nations diplomatic community and the people of New York.
To assist newly arrived UN diplomats and their families adjust to their new life in New York by providing information and programs that reduce language and cultural barriers.
To broaden an appreciation of American culture and customs among UN diplomats and their families, thereby enhancing the reputation of the United States and the United Nations.
All of the above resonates with our ESCAPESEEKER philosophy of following the Golden Rule, “Do unto others, what you would have others do unto you.” It’s a lofty and worthwhile goal, so of course ESCAPESEEKER offered to do our part to assist with the event. After all, “To whom much is given, much is required.”
MAY 2014 BRING YOU AND YOURS BLESSINGS BEYOND MEASURE: THE GIFT OF HEALTH…THE GIFT OF ADVENTURE…and THE GIFT OF LASTING LOVE and FRIENDSHIP wherever your path may lead.
Here’s to BLISSFUL, ENDLESS ESCAPES…And, Remember, Be the kindest person you know.
With love and joy,
Mel Gee Henderson aka The ESCAPESEEKER