From Travel + Leisure | By Paul Brady
Ashton Palmer, an expedition ship expert, recently made his way to Ecuador, a hotbed for small-ship cruises in the Galápagos Islands and beyond. “Flying was simple,” he says by e-mail. “I love how clean the airports are — about time — and contactless check-in was a breeze. Heavy duty industrial wipes were handed out on United, making it easy to re-sanitize the seat area, for those that like to know it was done properly.”
“In country, I’ve been very impressed so far,” Palmer writes. “Everyone masked, hand sanitizer everywhere, and little touches here and there, like hotel room keys in sanitized plastic bags, tiny vials of alcohol to clean, and even a 20-second ozone bath, like walking through an air lock. Seems more thorough than at home.”
After spending some time in Quito, Palmer made his way to the highlands north of the capital to Hacienda Zuleta. “The property has 21 rooms however we were the only guests, which not only translated to the most warm and attentive service, but also afforded a luxury private experience for this spectacular property,” Palmer says. “High in the Andes, a world away from the pandemic, [this visit is] a wonderful reminder that travel renews the soul.”
Indeed many experts concurred that the most striking thing about traveling now isn’t all the PPE or the new procedures. Instead, it’s the experience of moving through a world largely devoid of other travelers. In Ecuador, Palmer says, “there are so few visitors that it feels like virtually private travel, a la 1950.” In Venice, Weill, the publicist, felt the same way. “There is a tiny fraction of the usual number of tourists,” he says of his early October visit. “I had expected it to be uncrowded. But not this empty.”
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