What’s new in the world of travel? Our luxury travel concierge team has the inside scoop on changes to travel policies, the current trends for travelers, hotel reopenings, and more! Check back in weekly to see the newest travel updates!
Week of November 2nd
- Machu Picchu reopening to tourists: Travelers can once again visit this wonder of the world in Peru’s Sacred Valley! Machu Picchu reopened to visitors this week for the first time since March, though officials are limiting access to 675 visitors per day (compared to the usual 5000!). Flights are now departing from Houston to Lima, and Americans can visit with a negative coronavirus test in hand. Ask your concierge for more details!
- New adults-only retreat in Montana: We’ve long been fans of the Resort at Paws Up, a luxury ranch retreat up in Greenough, Montana. Their newest project The Green O is set to open in 2021 and introduces a luxe adults-only resort option! The 12 free standing villas are individually designed, with a chic style that’s very distinct from the glamping tents and cabins Paws Up is known for. While not expected to open until June 1, 2021, your River Oaks Travel advisors have pre-opening access to rates and special amenities.
- Colombia now open to travelers: Americans are now able to once again explore Bogota, Cartagena, and the coffee region. Travelers arriving in Colombia must submit proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR result taken within 96 hours before arrival, but no longer have to quarantine.
- United debuts eight new routes: While no new routes have been announced from Houston, this is a very good sign for the airline industry! Starting in December, United will begin new nonstop service between Los Angeles and San Jose, Costa Rica and San Pedro Sula, Honduras; between Denver and Belize City, Belize and San Jose, Costa Rica; between Washington D.C. and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, and returning service between Cleveland and Cancun, Mexico. In January, United will begin new nonstop service between Liberia, Costa Rica and both Los Angeles and San Francisco.
- Hotel reopenings in Los Cabos: We’re excited to see one of our favorite hotels in Los Cabos finally reopening – the One&Only Palmilla! The resort rejoins those that have already opened their doors on the Baja coast, including long-time favorites like Rosewood Las Ventanas and Pedregal plus chic newcomers like the Four Seasons Los Cabos and Montage. Many are offering 4th night free promotions throughout 2020 and 2021 – ask your River Oaks Travel concierge for more details!
- One&Only Mandarina: We’ve been looking forward to the November 1 grand opening of this stunning new resort for months now, and are excited that it’s finally here! The One&Only is the first luxury resort to open in Mandarina, Mexico, and is already a new favorite of ours. Adults-only treehouses? Yes please! Check out our recent guide to read more about the resort!
Week of October 12th
- Hawaii and Costa Rica reopening to Texans: Great news – Hawaii and Costa Rica will be opening shortly for our travelers, just in time for the holidays! Hawaii is now scheduled to be open on October 15th, with a new pre-travel testing option as an alternative to the original 14-day quarantine requirements. Costa Rica is reopening to travelers from Texas on November 1st, and will require a negative COVID test within 72 hours prior of arrival. Ask your River Oaks Travel Advisor for more details!
- SeaDream Yacht Club: While most Caribbean cruises are cancelled for the year, one of our favorite luxury yachts will be sailing this fall with cruises to Barbados, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We met with SeaDream Yacht Club and were impressed by their safety procedures, including onboard COVID testing, daily temperature logs, and UV lamps to sanitize staterooms. Ask your River Oaks Travel advisor for more info on their precautions plus their Booking Assurance program.
- More destinations reopening to travelers: Check out the latest anticipated reopenings like the island of St. Kitts, Hawaii, Costa Rica, and more on our reopening guide.
- Airlines starting COVID testing and reinstating routes: Airlines are beginning to offer rapid COVID testing preflight and increasing flight routes. American Airlines, JetBlue, United, and Hawaiian have all announced plans to provide preflight testing, allowing travelers to bypass some quarantine restrictions. While details are still forthcoming, we’re being advised that the tests will have a cost between $80 to $250 and will not be mandatory.
- California fires: Our hearts go out to our friends at Meadowood & Calistoga Ranch, with both properties suffering extensive damage in the California fires. More than just buildings, their teams created a warm and welcoming retreat for our travelers. While it may take some time, we know they will recover, rebuild, and return to being our favorite “second homes” in Napa. Looking for ways to help? Consider donating to Napa Valley Community Foundation and supporting local businesses by ordering online.
- Travel trend: Looking for privacy and fully customized service while traveling? Luxury villa rentals are trending all over the world, offering an added level of safety and exclusivity for your next trip. Our River Oaks Travel advisors have been booking options in Turks & Caicos for Spring Break, Punta Mita for the holidays, and in Colorado for ski season. Whether you’re traveling with family or friends, ask your advisor if a villa might be a good fit for your own trip!
Week of September 21st
- Waived change fees: United, Delta, and American have announced that they will be waiving change fees for domestic travel within the US for the immediate future. This travel update is a great step towards allowing more flexible travel arrangements during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Ask your River Oaks Travel advisor for more information. Now may be a good time to plan a domestic getaway for late 2020/early 2021!
- Holiday travels: A recent Virtuoso survey showed that almost 50% of travelers are planning a trip for the 2020 Festive Season. With hotels offering more flexible cancellation terms, now is the time to make arrangements for the holidays. Ski resorts, Mexico, and the Caribbean currently top the list in popularity!
- Passport renewals: Passport agencies are reopening in phases, meaning that they are processing renewals, but it may take longer than usual. If you are thinking of traveling internationally in the next 6 – 8 months and your passport expires within the next year, we recommend sending your renewal application in as soon as possible to get your passport updated.
- Travel “Pods”: The newest trend we’re seeing is traveling with a “pod.” Your pod can be one or two (or more) other families that follow similar social-distancing practices. Traveling as a pod makes it easier to split a large villa, privatize an entire floor of a resort, or even buyout a boutique hotel! Your advisor can match you to a property that accommodates a travel pod structure, including those with private dining rooms, beach cabanas, sections of the resort, and more.
- Destination Reopenings: New this week is the announcement from Hawaii that travelers will avoid mandatory quarantine starting October 15. Check out the entire list of destination reopenings here.
Get the inside scoop from our experts!
Have questions for our team of travel experts? Curious about the newest travel updates in hotels, destinations, and more? Contact us or make an appointment with one of our Houston travel agents to get more details or to start planning your own trip.