A Lakefront Island Escape in Kenya

Glamping Review of Rusinga Island Lodge in Kenya by Megan Snedden - plane arrival

GETTING THERE

When our plane stopped at the end of a private runway at the entrance of Rusinga Island Lodge, I cheered. Throughout my travels in Kenya, getting to other glamping destinations required, in many cases, arduous and bumpy hour-long drives. After an ease-filled entry to Rusinga, I felt myself slip into island mode as I received a fresh towel and a cool tropical juice.

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Travel writer and photographer Megan Snedden helps aspiring wanderers get excited about traveling the world and documenting their journey. Learn how to plan your next once-in-a-lifetime adventure at HeyWanderWoman.com or on Instagram @MeganSnedden.

Digital Detox in a Tulum Treehouse

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7120

Leading up to a recent last minute trip to Mexico, and my first time exploring the area of Tulum, my travel friend Megan and I spent some time researching a place to park ourselves for a few days in the Quintana Roo state. We scoured the internet seeking out unique accommodations in the main Tulum area which have stayed true to Tulum’s sustainable roots. And roots we happened upon. We would be staying the night high above the treetops with beachside views in an actual treehouse.

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Newly opened in December 2016 and surrounded by dense Jungle, the Papaya Playa Project Treehouse, in collaboration with Design Hotels, is where we perched ourselves for a night of digital detox.

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The Wi-Fi-less room allowed me to explore a deeper connection with my surroundings. I could feel the Mayan energy I’ve heard others speak about among the 360 degree views from our spacious deck with views of the white sandy beach. As golden hour passed, the clouds changed from shades of pinks and purples lighting up beneath the slowly swaying palms and the night sky faded to black revealing the shining stars above. Can you tell I didn’t want to leave?

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The treehouse structure itself is literally intertwined with the rooted tree below and branches intersect throughout the bedroom and bathroom. As a rule of thumb, Papaya Playa Project leaves 93% of the jungle intact when adding additional rooms and structures to their property. In the case of the addition of the Treehouse, no flora or fauna was touched. Rustic charm and sustainable by nature, indigenous local materials like chukum, a tree resin that the Mayans used, were used in construction naturally fusing with the whitewashed walls keeping the interior naturally cool throughout the hot day.

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I swung away the afternoon in a hammock chair on the middle layer of the treehouse. Just a floor above, as I first step inside the treehouse itself, I followed the rope ladder up above the bed reliving my youth hiding out in my own little nook of the world.

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When Megan and I were ready to venture out and enjoy the beach, we set up shop under one of the many flatbed cabanas with small tables ordering an ice cold salty margarita (they have full service here) while watching kite surfers drift by between leisurely plunges in the turquoise ocean under the Yucatan sunshine. The on-site restaurant also serves delicious cold fresh pressed juices and crave-worthy fish tacos among other local delights.

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Another rest and relaxation highlight on property, I wound and walked my way to the spa in the afternoon indulging in a holistic Mayan treatment. The Mayan White Clay Mask is offered in an open air treatment room overlooking the ocean, followed by an outdoor shower, and finished off with a massage. The detoxifying clay for this treatment is made by the barrel in the local neighboring community infused with stones and natural minerals. It left my skin happy for days to follow.

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They call Papaya Playa a ‘project’ because it is an ongoing initiative to constantly improve the property goal of becoming a zero emissions by 2018. Project Director Emilio Heredia hopes others will catch onto the model they are working hard to create, striving to keep Tulum a destination that won’t outgrow itself in the future.

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Papaya Playa Project works with as many small producers as possible sourcing on property offerings from neighboring communities like fabrics and interior furnishings inside the treehouse, honey shampoos and body wash, and fruit and vegetables. Within the last year, they’ve also added their own sacred to the Mayan stingless bees called Melipona, which have just produced their first honey inside the notches of the trees.

Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7082
Glamping review of the treehouse at Papaya Playa in Mexico by Kristen Kellogg 7074

It is wonderful to know people like Emilio and properties like Papaya Playa Project exist, promoting conscious, sustainable living. Tulum has grown out of it’s once backpacker roots to now accommodating the prevalent upscale, often conscious traveler frequenting. Rustic in style, being in the Papaya Playa Treehouse feels like a natural luxurious stay.

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When you choose to stay at Papaya Playa Project, you are not just paying for a room – you are investing in the future of Tulum. Papaya Playa Project is continuing to explore new ways to inspire their neighbors and fellow business owners in the area to follow their sustainable settings strong foundation and hopeful future for tourism in the lovely little rapidly growing region that is Tulum.

Kristen Kellogg

Exploring rugged to refined, digital storyteller and film producer Kristen Kellogg has a unique eye and flair for capturing the essence of a brand or destination that is immediately recognizable in the work she crafts through her Wanderlust Website + Creative Agency: Border Free Travels. Kristen’s work has been featured in Yahoo Travel, AFAR, and Microsoft among others. A Nantucket resident, when Kristen isn’t on the road, she is literally running around exploring her own backyard. Kristen is from Southern Illinois. Follow her daily adventures on Instagram here.

Small Town Experiences High Above Switzerland

When the first snow falls each winter on the East Coast island I call home, I always daydream off to being atop a mountain. I made a vow to seek out more alpine experiences this year and I began that journey with Switzerland. A lover of small town experiences, I happened upon Whitepod in the Western Alps and I knew I had to spend a night in the region of Valais.

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We made our way up to the tiny village of Les Cerniers (population 70) via bus from the train station and got a warm welcome by school children on their way home who must have been between the ages of two and five. The last stop at the top of the hill and we would arrive at Whitepod. Upon checking in, we traded in our luggage with the concierge for a backpack (with headlamps for night) and hiking poles for a 10 minute winter walk in our snow boots uphill to the main lodge as our bags were delivered to the room.

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It was like Christmas day when we sauntered on the deck of Pod number 6, the white snow globe like dome we would be calling home for the next 24 hours. We couldn’t wait to unzip the flap door to see what awaited us inside. Our newly renovated Deluxe Pod was modern with natural design elements from floor to dome ceiling. A front and center table and chair set-up with fresh juice and homemade sweets to kick back and relax in-room, Nespresso machine for early mornings on your deck, wifi, and a walkie talkie instead of a phone to call for anything you need — like breakfast delivered straight to your Deluxe Pod. The pods are weatherproof for snowy nights and soundproof for late night conversations in bed by the fire with an iMax-like view to where the starry skies meet mountains below.

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Of all of the snow-sport and alpine offerings at Whitepod including 25 kilometers of trails, private ski slopes, and mountaineering for the more extreme, my first time dogsledding was both thrilling and dreamy as we passed through snow-laden pines.

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With all of the on-property activities at Whitepod, you’re bound to work up an appetite. The main lodge is open 24 hours with an honor bar for a night cap or two.

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Breakfast is served downstairs and afternoon tea time on the main floor each day, which are included in your stay. Boil your own egg and choose from an assortment of homemade breads with melon jam and caramel sauce, dried and fresh fruits, fresh juices, hot coffee and cocoa.

The food and wine for dinner just down the hill is sourced from local producers and made on property, themed with sustainability in mind. We left full and happy after ordering a charcuterie assortment, Vacherin and Gruyere fondue and chestnut mousse topped with crumbled meringue.

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Bring the whole family, make it a friend-cation, or couples nature retreat. It’s an authentic place. An eco-luxury experience wrapped in a blanket of white you will never want to end.

Kristen Kellogg

Exploring rugged to refined, digital storyteller and film producer Kristen Kellogg has a unique eye and flair for capturing the essence of a brand or destination that is immediately recognizable in the work she crafts through her Wanderlust Website + Creative Agency: Border Free Travels. Kristen’s work has been featured in Yahoo Travel, AFAR, and Microsoft among others. A Nantucket resident, when Kristen isn’t on the road, she is literally running around exploring her own backyard. Kristen is from Southern Illinois. Follow her daily adventures on Instagram here.