With Lake Wanaka spread out before it like a welcome mat and mountains looming behind, Whare Kea Lodge wisely boasts floor-to-ceiling windows in all of its graciously appointed guest rooms. Throw in a private balcony, blissful beds, deep bath tubs and heated bathroom floors and you’ve got the start to a really great vacation. Guests can choose to cook for themselves or enjoy the culinary talents of award-winning chef James Stapley.
We’ve been on Instagram lately. And we can say with some confidence that it’s not exactly G-rated. So the fact that Minx: Gemma Lee Farrell, aka “Playboy” Playmate of the Month for November 2013 got booted off the ‘gram for being too racy is pretty much proof that she’s a badass. But don’t worry, she’s back on Instagram (phew) and her postings are hotter than ever. A native of New Zealand, Gemma holds the honor of being the first Kiwi to pose for “Playboy.” And here’s a little fun fact—the magazine’s photographers actually discovered her on Instagram. In addition to her centerfold, Miss Farrell has been the spokesmodel for Monster Energy Drink, making many welcome appearances at their skateboarding and motocross events. She’s also starred in an Australian movie and—get this—she also once worked at the parole office at a prison, but as she explained in an interview, she had to quit, “as too many inmates had my poster on their wall and it got a bit creepy.” Probably a wise decision, Gemma. Good on you.
All stressed out and nowhere to go? We’ve got the perfect solution. A luxury travel agent that can not only whisk you away to somewhere fabulous, they’ll do every last ounce of planning for you. How’s that for stress-free? Introducing Black Tomato, the award-winning travel agents that can book your ultimate getaway, no matter how unusual your requested itinerary might be. Besides taking specific requests for you, Black Tomato also gives you the option to choose your destination based on Experience Types, like Beach, Ski, Safari, Romantic Honeymoon, Family Vacations, or our personal favorites, Unusual Experiences and Adventures by Epic Tomato.
What do they mean by “Unusual” Experiences? Glad you asked. Designed for true explorers, these include destinations you won’t find in Rick Steve’s Europe. Excursions like heli-surfing in New Zealand, learning “the way of the ninja” in Japan, complete with Zen lessons and martial arts lessons from a real sensei, or descending into a volcano in Iceland—where you may or may not enjoy the most memorable meal of your life. Just write out your Bucket List, hand it over to Black Tomato and get some extra pages in your passport. This is going to be epic indeed.
Before “The Lord of the Rings” came out, the mythical landscapes of New Zealand were once your little secret. You still haven’t forgiven Peter Jackson for blowing up your spot. Luckily, you’ve discovered a new part of the world with sweeping panoramics that are just as moody, breathtaking and surreal. And soon, it’s about to have a really kick-ass hotel. Introducing the Lofoten Opera Hotel, which is being built on an outlying site in Glåpen, on one of Norway’s 18 National Tourist Routes. Designed by architecture firm Snøhetta, the new hotel will be be a low-rise structure that’s in complete harmony with the landscape around it— a mighty mountain range to the north and northwest and the sea to the south and the west.
It will loop around a central courtyard, and its organic form, “creates an inner and outer space, and enhances the site’s inherent potential of an architectural expression,” Snøhetta said in a statement. The intent is to make the guests feel they are “in the middle” of the elements in a space that’s totally open, yet protected at the same time. In addition to the hotel, the project also includes apartments, an amphitheater, spa, seawater basins and hiking resources. Keep an eye out for its opening, and please, let’s not mention this to Peter Jackson.