Visit the South Pole with Abercrombie & Kent

In January of 1909, the famous British explorer Ernest Shackleton made an attempt to become the first man to reach the South Pole. He, and his three companions struggled mightily against the elements, but eventually were turned back just 97 miles short of their goal. That expedition established a new record for the furthest distance traveled south, and upon his safe return home to England, Shackleton was knighted for his efforts.

Those explorers reached 88º23’S, which just so happens to be roughly the same spot that Abercrombie & Kent’s Conquering the Final Degree expedition begins. On that trip, adventure travelers won’t walk in the footsteps of Shackleton, they’ll actually finish what he started. They’ll travel on skis to the Geographic South Pole, pulling 120-pound sleds, carrying all of their gear and supplies behind them while they go, crossing through the last great wilderness on the planet –the frozen continent of Antarctica.

The 18 day journey begins and ends in Punta Arenas, Chile, one of the southernmost cities in the world. From there, the team will catch a flight across the Southern Ocean to Patriot Hills, a campsite located on the Antarctic continent itself. When a suitable weather window opens, they’ll move on, via ski plane, to the Thiel Mountains, a remote and rugged chain of peaks that few people ever see. The journey really gets underway once they reach 89ºS, and the group transitions to their skis for the final leg of the trip. The following 7-8 days will be spent completing the “final degree” before arriving at the very bottom of the world, the South Pole, itself.

For adventure travelers, this may be the ultimate adventure travel experience. A true once in a life time opportunity. While the adventure travel market continues to explode, with new destinations and activities being offered all the time, a last degree journey to the South Pole is as authentic of an adventure experience as you’ll ever get.

Daily Pampering: Luxury ski chalets for the ultimate winter retreat

Have a few hundred thousand dollars to spare and want to do something special this winter? You’re in luck! The Abercrombie & Kent group just added 18 new luxury ski chalets to its already grandiose offerings and starting this December, they’re available for you.

Enjoy the very best in private ski accommodations in the French and Swiss Alps, including your own personal chefs, housekeeping and private chauffeurs. Intrigued? So are we, so we’ve highlighted a few for today’s ultimate Daily Pampering:

France:

Chalet Montana sleeps 15 and occupies arguably the best spot in Les Carats, the most exclusive enclave in Val d’Isére at the heart of Espace Killy. Fabulous for experienced ski enthusiasts, Chalet Montana faces the black ‘Face de Bellevarde’ ski run, scene of the men’s downhill in the Winter Olympics of 1992.

Cool and slightly crazy, Chalet Himalaya is located on the piste in the hameau of La Daille in Val d’Isere. A former 17th century monastery, Chalet Himalaya sleeps 12 and is full of quirky features and facilities, such as the ancient stone window seats and the part-indoor, part-outdoor swimming pool which has an adjustable depth. Each of the bedrooms has an en-suite bathroom with vast bath which doubles as a steam room. Guests are catered for by a Mosimann’s chef.

The Shemshak Lodge is brand new for the 2010/2011 season and also sleeps 12. The lodge sits on the piste within walking distance of the resort of Courchevel 1850 in the Trois Vallees.Switzerland:

Chalet Kernow is stylishly furnished with antiques and contemporary pieces collected from around the world. The chalet sleeps 12, comes with billiard table, Sky Sports, Xbox 360, Wii, PlayStation2, networked Linn music system, outdoor Jacuzzi and ground floor mini spa with team room, sauna and massage room. Chalet Kernow is located within walking distance of the Medran ski lift and the facilities of Verbier’s shops, bars and restaurants.

Contemporary-rustic in style, Chalet Les Esserts is set over the ground floor of Chalet Sagittaire with access to its shared leisure facilities. The modern chalet sleeps 6 and features up-to-date sound and vision entertainment systems that compliment the traditional Swiss antiques.

The cost? The villas will be available in December at a starting price of $8,257 (Les Esserts in Swiss Alps in low season weeks) and will go as high as $122,685 (Shemshak Lodge in Courchevel French Alps).

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.


[Photo credit: Chalet Montana, Ross Woodhall]

Daily Pampering: Rent a villa during the euro’s four-year low

Villa Kieta
While there are a number of ways to take advantage of the fact that the euro is at the lowest exchange rate with the dollar that it’s had in four years ($1.22), what could be more lovely than renting a villa in the French Riviera?

In the prime location of Mandelieu in the Cote d’Azur, Villa Kieta, above, boasts all the luxury it had when the exchange rate was much, much less favorable. The four-bedroom villa is situated on 12 acres of private grounds and sleeps up to eight adults and two children. The master bedroom has a jacuzzi bath and private terrace and each additional bedroom has en-suite facilities, as well as wifi, air conditioning, and elegant modern furnishings.

The villa is a supreme place for romance or relaxation, with a sauna, pool, TV room, home cinema, elaborate kitchen and a number of private terraces overlooking the Bay of Cannes and the Lérins islands.

Best of all, you can rent this luxury villa for more than 13 percent less than what it would have cost you just earlier this year. Villa Kieta is now $267 per person (in fully occupied villa) per night in high season. That’s the kind of bargain even the most discerning travelers can appreciate. Visit AKvillas.com for more info, to look at more villas where you can take advantage of the price drop or to book.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Daily Pampering: A floating chateau on the Nile

The Zein Nile Chateau
The Zein Nile Chateau is the kind of experience you’ve dreamed about since watching Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor. This luxury dahabieh (boat) whose name, “Zein,” means “beautiful,” was designed for “serenity, space and elegance” and can dock almost anywhere you fancy along the Nile.

The fully air-conditioned, exquisitely appointed dahabieh is divided into four cabins and two suites, a dining room, a library, a sun deck, a pool, an outdoor shower, and a cigar lounge (no word on whether or not you can see the outdoor shower from the cigar lounge). The intimate nature of the vessel makes it a perfect option for families or groups traveling together, while giving them the utmost privacy.

Seven night charters for up to 12 guests start at $29,600 and can be arrange exclusively through Abercrombie & Kent‘s Tailor Made Private Travel services.

Want more? Get your daily dose of pampering right here.

Photo courtesy of Abercrombie & Kent.

Abercrombie & Kent: Five cinema-cations around the world

You may not have that look that Hollywood craves, but you still want to get close to the action, right? You want to touch the greatness that comes with being splashed across screens from coast to coast. Thanks to the latest concept from luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, you don’t need talent. The latest “cinema-cation” packages send you to the locations where some of the hottest movies of the last year or so have been shot. There are enough options that you’ll definitely find something to match your personal style.

1. Sex and the City 2
After seeing this movie opening night on May 27, 2010, dash off to Morocco. A&K Group Managing Director George Morgan-Grenville was actually over there while movie was being filmed at the Amanjena Hotel and in the Djema el-Fna Square souks. The interiors and pool scenes, he says, were shot at the soon-to-open Mandarin Oriental Jnan Rahma and Palmeraie over in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains. Suggests Morgan Grenvile: “Take a camel ride at sunset and spend the night under the stars in a Bedouin-style tented camp surrounded by the largest sand dunes in the world.”

2. Eat , Pray, Love
Before going to see Eat, Pray, Love on August 13, 2010, check out the treasures of Northern India with this A&K Journey for Women. You’ll take apersonal journey with A&K guide Shagun Mohan, who says, “We spend time with local women at a bead-making workshop in the holy city of Varanasi, witness a spiritual Aarti ceremony on the Ganges at night, see the Taj Mahal at both sunrise and sunset, and visit Khajuraho’s Hindu temples. This kind of journey is a life-changing experience for almost anyone.” 3. Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallow Part 1
Families can get a feel for Harry Potter‘s Great Britain ahead of the November 19, 2010 opening with the A&K Tailor Made Magical Great Britain package. According to Duncan Hambidge of A&K Europe, who has visited may Harry Potter film spots with his family, “One highlight for children is the Great Hall at Oxford University, Hogwart’s Dining Room. Another favorite is crossing the dramatic Glenfinnian Viaduct in the Western Highlands aboard The Royal Scotsman, the route taken by the Hogwart’s Express train in the Chambers of Secrets, The Prisoner of Azkaban and The Goblet of Fire.

4. The Hurt Locker
Last year’s Academy Award winner for Best Picture, The Hurt Locker captured the attention of audiences across the United States. A&K suggests following in the footsteps of Lawrence of Arabia if you’re looking for travel inspired by this movie. The A&K Extreme Adventures Jordan package is the way to go, led by Raed Omar Saleem.

Saleem’s been leading thrill-seeking visitors through Jordan since 1997 and recalls from a recent excursion, “In the middle of nowhere, we pitch our tents and gather around the campfire for dinner, recalling the hikes through ancient cities, the 4X4 treks and mountain climbs that brought us here. Without speaking of it, we all share the same sense of awe, the palpable sense that time passes through this desert yet barely seems to touch it. The moon-like landscape stretches to the mountains, bannered by multicolored striations in the rock. The smooth reddish sand is devoid of stones, and our camels’ toes rouse no dust as they thudded in their steady pace. There is no dust here in the valley of Wadi Rum, once a sea basin and later the place T.E. Lawrence found his calling. That is the beauty of the desert: it is nothing and everything.”

5. Creation: The True Story of Charles Darwin
Trace the history of life with the A&K Wonders of the Galapagos trip. Says A&K’s Ian Mackinnon, “The islands of the Galapagos offer an opportunity to interact with the natural world to a degree that’s virtually impossible anywhere else.”

He suggests, “Swim and snorkel with sea lions and turtles. Stroll past colonies of penguins and blue-footed boobies. Imagine yourself as Charles Darwin seeing a tortoise for the first time. Every island is unique; it’s no wonder Darwin was changed by his time there.”

I suggest: “Bring a creationist and ask constantly if he thinks dinosaurs walked the earth 5,000 years ago. Point and laugh.”