Luxury Travel

5 Reasons Rwanda is the Luxury Destination to visit in 2019

Rwanda, The Land of a Thousand Hills is a lush green landscape nestled in the middle of Africa. The respectful and hospitable nature of the Rwandese people makes it a warm place for visitors. Rwanda has also become a central hub for meetings and innovation with the new convention center built in partnership with the Gates Foundation.   Named the 9th safest country in the world, Rwanda has become Africa’s best kept secret!  

Here are 5 Reasons to Visit Rwanda in 2019; 

#1: Gorilla Trekking at Volcanoes National Park 

Many know Rwanda for the work Dian Fossey started with the silverback gorillas. New recognition was garnered thanks to Ellen DeGeneres’ new foundation celebrating the work and continuing major conservation efforts.  The Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund will provide diverse offerings and contributions to community and most importantly protecting the gorillas.  There are roughly only 1000 Silverback Gorillas left in the world.  

Volcanoes National Park is located in a small town called Musanze and less than 3 hours from Kigali (the Capital City of Rwanda).  To experience Gorilla Trekking in Rwanda, the permits are $1500 per person.  You will hike up a hill and enter into the forest with a team of trackers.  It could take you 5-7 hours to find a gorilla family, which just depends on the gorilla families and where they choose to go.  Short treks of 30 minutes to 1 hour are available for those desiring a less strenuous endeavor.  To experience the gorillas in their natural habitat and in their element is a truly surreal feeling and a must visit!   

Where to stay: 

Singita Kwitonda Lodge– Opening in August 2019 (taking reservations).  Located at the base of the Volcanoes National Park.  The Singita brand is expanding their footprint in Africa with their continued efforts in thoughtful conservation.  This lodge is going to be gorgeous!  Having met with representatives from this hotel and seeing the renderings, it will be a highlight in Rwanda luxury.  

Bisate Lodge– Located at the base of the Volcanoes National Park, this luxury lodge is taking Rwanda to the next level in the luxury market.  Locally sources materials and design create a welcome warm experience for decerning travelers.  

Photo: Bisate Lodge, courtesy of Wilderness Safari

Photo: Bisate Lodge, courtesy of Wilderness Safari

#2: Lake Kivu 

Lake Kivu is the world’s eighteenth deepest lake that sits on the border between Rwanda and the Republic of Congo.  The waterfront towns offer a serene backdrop while visiting Rwanda.  This destination is the perfect stop when on your way to Volcano National Park and Nyungwe National Park.  The quiet environment welcomes meditation and yoga.  

 Where to stay: 

Lake Kivu Serena– Relax while overlooking Lake Kivu, take a bike ride around the town of Gisenyi or enjoy a yoga session in their fitness facilities.   Simple accommodations while experiencing Lake Kivu.  

Photo: Exterior Lake Kivu Serena, Courtesy of Lake Kivu Serena

Photo: Exterior Lake Kivu Serena, Courtesy of Lake Kivu Serena

#3: Akagera National Park 


It may surprise most people to hear that you can experience the Big Five in Rwanda and that there are a reported 18 Black Rhinos living in the park.  While Akagera doesn’t compare to safaris in Masai Mara, South Africa or Botswana (yet) it is truly something to experience while in Rwanda.  

Just a two-hour drive from Kigali, it offers a beautiful and convenient savannah and marsh landscape. There are over 482 bird species nestled within the park. Some of the activities to enjoy at the park include fishing, behind the scenes tour that includes conservation efforts and night drive experience with guide.  The best part is you can visit the park for only $50 per day.  

Where to stay:

Magashi Camp– With six spacious tented guest rooms with private access to a portion of Akagera, this luxury accommodation doesn’t compromise on luxury.  This brand-new camp, opened in December 2018, will be sure to set a new standard for guests visiting Akagera.  

Photo: Magashi Camp tent rendering, courtesy of Wilderness Safaris.

Photo: Magashi Camp tent rendering, courtesy of Wilderness Safaris.

#4: Nyungwe National Park 

One of the unique things about Rwanda is the diversity of the landscape.  This national park is set within lush rainforests, tea fields and waterfalls.  There are 13 hiking trails that cover the terrain and vary in distance.  A unique experience involves chimpanzee and monkey treking in the forest within their natural habitat.  Scale the Nyungwe Forest Canopy and traverse the forest beneath you.  You may also see one of the 300 bird species local to that area.  

 Where to stay: 

One & Only Nyungwe House– In the mountains, surrounded by rainforest and tea plantations, this resort is a treat for your senses.  The intimate 22 luxury rooms and suites integrate nicely with the local landscape.  This sanctuary will rejuvenate your soul with its spa and fitness sanctuary.  Dine in the wilderness.  You will leave with piece of Africa left in your heart after this experience.  

Photo: Nyungwe House, courtesy of One&Only Nyungwe House

Photo: Nyungwe House, courtesy of One&Only Nyungwe House

#5: Kigali

 As the Capital City of Rwanda, Kigali is the energy that breathes life into the rest of the country. All trips begin and end through Kigali where the international airport is located.  You’ll find the city to be very clean and well maintained.  The residents of Rwanda take pride in their country and even have a unified day of service called Umuganda on the morning of the last Saturday every month.  During Umuganda, the entire population (12 million) devote some time to their local community including cleaning the streets, cutting grass, repairing roads and much more.  

 Visit the many museums and art galleries, shopping centers to get some locally woven baskets or fresh Rwandese coffee or tea to take home.  

Rwanda’s history is one of healing and forgiveness.  A visit to the Kigali Genocide Memorial helps to educate and honor the memory of the one million Rwandans killed in 1994.  Reflection on the past but acknowledgement of how far the country has advanced will make you appreciate the resilience of the people and country by the time you leave.  

Where to stay: 

 Kigali Serena Hotel– Located in the heart of Kigali, the 148 rooms and suites are nicely appointed private and peaceful retreat.  Enjoy a treatment in their spa, workout in their fitness facilities after a long flight or just people watch in the lobby while drinking local Rwandese tea.   It is where the elite Rwandese business meetings are conducted and affluent locals hang out.  Simple accommodations to start your adventure in Rwanda.  

Photo: Kigali Serena Hotel, courtesy of Kigali Serena Hotel

Photo: Kigali Serena Hotel, courtesy of Kigali Serena Hotel

Rwanda is positioning itself as the luxury destination for travelers who are looking for unique experiences.  Whether you’re including the destination as a pre-post Kenya, Botswana or South Africa safari or visiting the destination exclusively there is plenty to see and do during your visit.  

For more information on any of the hotels and Rwanda as a destination, or to schedule a complimentary planning consultation, email me at  

Travel Tip: Capture the Moment with Flytographer

Photo Credit: Maria, flytographer based in Paris, France

Photo Credit: Maria, flytographer based in Paris, France

One of the best parts about any getaway is reliving those special moments captured through your photo diary. If you’re like me, you find so much joy in capturing little vignettes and creating memories.

Professional photography is something us Millennials have become so aware of. I can’t tell you how many Instagram Influencers that actively seek photographers in the cities they are visiting so that they can capture each #OOTD.

True family memories, milestone getaways or candid moments during a vacation… Enter one of the best travel hacks ever created, flytographer!

Photo Credit: Nadine, flytographer based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Photo Credit: Nadine, flytographer based in Cape Town, South Africa.

Just take a second to look at the image Nadine took above capturing the couple in Cape Town.

Stunning, right?

Definitely not something you could replicate with a selfie stick!

Photo Credit: Valeria, flytographer based in Mexico City, Mexico

Photo Credit: Valeria, flytographer based in Mexico City, Mexico

Through a simple process to confirm your photo shoot, your endless memories are made even easier when you allow Lilacs & Chai to include into your tailor made itinerary.


30 Minutes - $250

60 Minutes - $350

90 Minutes - $500

2 Hours - $650

Locations and inclusions vary by length photo session.

If you’re not convinced, Flytographer has been featured in Travel + Leisure, New York Times, Conde Nast, Elle and even Oprah!

Why not capture the moment with a flytographer on your next vacation?

Included Amenities when booking with Lilacs & Chai;

  • 20% More Photos

  • Free 8x10 Print

***Pictures courtesy of flytographer.

Travel More with Lilacs & Chai, contact or follow on Instagram @lilacsandchai.  

Getaway: The Resort at Paws Up - a glimpse of Montana Luxury

The Resort at Paws Up

The Resort at Paws Up

When I moved to California, I drove from Michigan to Washington state to visit my brother who lived in Seattle at the time before continuing onto San Diego. My path brought me through Montana where I was in awe of the big skies and ample mountains. To see bald eagles at rest stops was inspiring and made me reflect on how gorgeous and vast this country is. 

Fast forward to this ability to serve as a Luxury Travel Advisor.  I’m so lucky to learn about and experience destinations all over the world. The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough, Montana is a special place that has captured a bit of my heart.  I’m happy to share a bit about it! 

The Resort at Paws Up - a glimpse of Montana Luxury

The Resort at Paws Up sits on 37,000 acres of sprawling land with a history dating back to the 1800’s when Lewis and Clark roamed the land. The Blackfoot Valley and Blackfoot River meander through the expansive property. Over the years it became an acclaimed cattle ranch. 

In 1997 the Lipson family undertook major renovations to bring the ranch to a whole new level of luxury. The dude ranch style resort offers extensive outdoor activities like horseback riding, fly fishing, ATV riding and many more activities. The great outdoors under the big sky lendsitself to multigenerational families, couples celebrating a romantic anniversary or provides theperfect venueto practice mindfulness while enjoying nature. 


Don’t let the cattle ranch description fool you, The Resort at Paws Up offers luxurious accommodations.

The Luxury Homes on property range from 1 - 4 bedrooms and can accommodate 2 - 8 guests.

Seasonally, the resort offers Luxury Camping available in 1-2 bedroom configurations and appropriate for 1 - 4 guests.


The Resort at Paws Up offers exceptional activities throughout the year. Nature is at the heart of everything they do.

While guests at the ranch, there are several complimentary activities available, while others require additional fees. There is something for everyone! 

Here are some of the Adventures;

  • Archery

  • ATV Tours

  • Canoeing

  • Cattle Drive

  • Chuck Wagon Dinner

  • Fly Fishing

  • Helicopter Tours

  • Horseback Riding

  • Hot Air Ballooning

  • Paintball

  • River Adventures

  • Cross Country Skiing

  • Snowmobiling

  • Skijoring

Families will find that there are lots of memories to be made at the Resort at Paws Up. It will be a hard vacation to top. The Luxury Homes are perfect year round and offer ample space for most families.

Paws Up Family


The award winning culinary experiences at the Resort at Paws Up will satisfy any foodie! The variety of restaurants makes the dining experience fresh and unique. Enjoy a fresh catch by the Blackfoot River or delicious steak. You can feel confident in the literal “farm to table” experience!


For me, it isn’t a vacation until you’ve had a massage! Just envision checking into your Luxury Camping venue, relaxing in a warm bath with the sound of the river in the background and then indulging in a 90-minute treatment. Sounds heavenly, right? 

Seasonally, the treatment rooms are small tents nicely appointed to indulge your senses.

During the winter, the spa rooms move indoors but the feeling of one-ness with nature continues. 

Couples Massage in Tent

Couples Massage in Tent

During the winter, there are treatment rooms indoors.

In addition to the spa treatments, the Resort at Paws Up offers wellness activities that include hiking trails, yoga classes and a fitness center.

Children at Paws Up

Children at Paws Up

Included Amenities when booking with Lilacs & Chai;

  • Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability

  • Daily full breakfast, for up to two in room guests served in restaurant

  • Complimentary round-trip private airport transfers

  • Bottle of wine in room on arrival

  • A $300 USD activity credit, to be utilized during stay (not combinable, not valid on room rate, no cash value if not redeemed in full)

  • Early check-in, late check-out, subject to availability

  • Complimentary Wi-Fi

***Pictures and video courtesy of the Resort at Paws Up.

Travel More with Lilacs & Chai, contact or follow on Instagram @lilacsandchai.  

Getaway: Iconic San Diego Hotels

America’s Finest City is known for its beautiful beaches, fish tacos and laidback vibe.  Over the last decade San Diego has evolved immensely and grown to become a fantastic foodie haven and innovative smart city.  There are a few hotels that scream San Diego and top my recommendation list for a truly “San Diego” experience. 

Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado – Truly an iconic hotel and one of the top destinations in San Diego.  Built in 1888 and now a designated National Historic Landmark.  There is so much history within these walls!  Most notably, the ghost of Kate Morgan still occupies the resort after she passed from self-inflicted gunshot in 1892.  Some have expressed feeling her presence mainly in her old guestroom, but others have said they felt her presence in other areas of the hotel. 

The resort has had the pleasure of welcoming celebrities and historic figures.  Presidents Benjamin Harrison, President William Taft, President Franklin Roosevelt, President Jimmy Carter and President Gerald Ford were guests at the Hotel Del.  Celebrities like Charlie Chaplin and Marilyn Monroe also resided at the iconic property. 

To this day, the Hotel Del Coronado provides guests with personalized service, amazing culinary experiences, activities for children and wellness activities.  Definitely would recommend to anyone looking for a quintessential San Diego experience! 

La Valencia Hotel

La Valencia Hotel – Known as the Pink Lady, she is located on Prospect Street in downtown La Jolla.  This property is full of old Hollywood glam and the energy is invigorating.  As soon as you walk in the door you’ll notice La Sala’s beautiful architecture and picture window overlooking the Pacific Ocean.  With only 114 rooms, this boutique Preferred Hotels & Resort property is one of a kind.  The location is perfect for walking down to the La Jolla Cove, exploring the local art galleries or some of the amazing restaurants in La Jolla Village.  Also, they will be adding Spa La V in 2018 which will add a wellness component that will make the hotel that much more enticing. 


The US Grant Hotel – This historic hotel is located in the Gaslamp District in San Diego.  It opened in 1910 to honor the memory of Ulyssys S. Grant shortly after Alonzo Horton designed downtown San Diego.  There are stories of speak easies, ghosts and military bunkers.  Such rich history now wrapped up in luxurious accommodations.  One interesting fact is that the land that the hotel sits on used to belong to the Kumeyaay Native American tribe.   The current owners of the hotel are the Sycuan tribe, a tribe of the Kumeyaay Native American tribe.  I get chills every time I think of that full circle story!  One thing to look for is the custom drip paintings in each of the guestrooms.   Each one is different and adds a unique flavor to the décor. 

What are some of your favorite historic properties?  

Travel More with Lilacs & Chai, contact or follow on Instagram @lilacsandchai.