Hotel B in Lima’s bohemian Barranco district is our new favorite hotel in Peru’s eclectic capital. Given a choice, if we are spending any significant amount of time in Lima, we see no reason to stay anywhere else.
There are other five-star luxury hotels in Lima worth mentioning. They have ocean views, perfect rooms, and undeniable service. But part of our job at Global Basecamps is to not just put you in a perfect (if forgettable) hotel, but to leave you wowed by your hotel. A true “Best of Basecamps” property is more than a perfect review on a website. There are hotels in the world’s biggest cities that feel like they’ve been there forever. Their sense of history compliments their pristine reputation and A-level service. Hotel B has this sense of history, which is confusing because it’s literally Lima’s newest hotel. (As of Summer 2013)
One of our own recently returned from his trip to Okinawa, Japan. He was kind enough to share some of his pictures and experiences with us! This is How We Travel.
I recently had the fortune to travel to Okinawa. Despite having lived for several years on Japan's mainland, this was my first visit to Okinawa and in every way it exceeded my expectations.
I flew into Tokyo and connected directly to Naha, Okinawa's largest city on Okinawa Honto, Okinawa's main island ("honto" just means "main island"). If I had to do it again, I would spend 1-2 nights in Tokyo at the start, because by the time I arrived in Okinawa I was exhausted (and a ramen in Tokyo would have been a nice treat after the 10-hour flight). On the flip side, I was thrilled to wake up the next morning already in paradise... so for shorter trips, flying into Okinawa directly makes perfect sense.
Though it may seem inaccessible and exotic to some, the truth is that the Inca Trail is hugely popular, and receives a metric ton of demand from travelers from all over the world every year. In the 80’s and 90’s, what began as a small number of companies offering guides to hike this four day trek quickly turned into an avalanche of tourism that ultimately threatened the health of the environment, and the priceless Inca ruins along the route.
The Peruvian government quickly saw the risk of destroying its natural and cultural resources. Today, Peru’s Ministry of Culture caps the number of people allowed to hike the trail at 500 per day. Of that number, only 200 are actual tourist hikers, the rest being accompanying guides and porters. Predictably, snagging a permit to hike the trail is a hectic affair. Only a select number of companies are allowed to buy them directly. They are assigned to a specific hiker’s name to prevent a black market of permits. And they sell out quickly. In 2013, Inca Trail permits through July were completely sold out by March.
As part of our clients’ trips to Japan, Global Basecamps nearly always includes one vital piece of equipment. Tokyo’s Pasmo Card is an incredibly diverse tool for travel in the capital; the pass is valid all over the greater Tokyo area’s extensive ground railway and subway systems, can be used to pay for most taxis, and is even accepted at most vending machines and convenience stores. Sounds like an amazing travel tool, right? It just got even better.
Most urban areas in Japan feature similar passes, and as of last month, these passes will now all be valid in each other's cities! That means that with the one card we provide you with for travel in Tokyo, you will be able to travel similarly in Japan’s most popular cities, such as Kyoto, Osaka, Hiroshima and Sapporo! Needless to say, this is a boon for Japan’s domestic and international travelers, especially since the process to use and recharge the cards with yen is easily outlined in multiple languages.
One of the most common questions we get is “why do people need a travel agent these days?” Surely, with the rise of the internet and big self-booking websites, travelers are more empowered than ever to research and organize travel than ever before. But as ever, Global Basecamps stands by its philosophy that booking through a knowledgeable, experienced travel expert with personal relationships to hotels and lodges is always preferable. At the end of the day, booking through a company like Global Basecamps benefits not just the traveler, but the destination!
This month, SFGate.com published an article that we believe outlines the benefits of booking your travel through an agent over a booking site. The article tells the story of the couple who own a hotel in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. After a series of miscommunications, the relationship between the 18-room hotel and the website collapsed. Through what the article calls a “descent into the surreal” the website used its considerable clout in the travel industry to hurt the hotel’s business instead of supplementing it.
Though travelers may find the occasional deal on a booking site, their biggest downside is actually the reason they are so successful. Big booking sites prioritize volume, and the bigger the hotel, the more rooms they can sell. Too often, the smallest hotels in the world don’t garner the attention they deserve from a booking site, and are relegated to a secondary status. Too often, those small hotels are often the world’s best!