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DESTINATIONS | INSPIRATION | INTEL | PLAN YOUR TRIP

The vaccines are welcome news, but we're not in the clear yet. Until it's safe to travel, consider this newsletter inspiration for trips to come.

This week's featured guest is Sarah Khan, the new editor of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East and a prolific travel writer we've accompanied across the world vicariously for years — through her engaging reports for The New York Times, Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, and Vogue India (among others). A co-founder of Travel Is Better in Color, Sarah advocates for diverse perspectives in the media and uses her keen reporting skills and sense of humor to share fresh insights on a range of experiences (see what we mean here and here.) We're happy to get her thoughts on the media scene, Balkans travel inspiration, French rap, and addictive Korean dramas.

Photo by Tetiana Shevereva on Unsplash.


BUT FIRST, THE HOTEL SPOTLIGHT


Lights, Camera, Action at Sundance 


Sundance Mountain Resort
Sundance, Utah
Western wilderness, $$ ($300)

In 1969, Robert Redford bought a huge swath of land at the base of 12,000-foot Mt. Timpanogos, an hour from Salt Lake City in Utah. Interested in both land conservation and artistic experimentation, he established an institute to reinforce independent storytelling and support its burgeoning artists and filmmakers.

Over the next several decades, an ecosystem balancing art and community, nature and adventure, and rusticity and sophistication developed in the area known as Sundance. Today, guests of the Sundance Mountain Resort can take advantage of the many gifts the wilderness offers (on many thousands of acres of protected land), including respite, relaxation, rehabilitation, and inspiration — in many forms, including but not limited to skiing and snowboarding, hiking, trekking, scenic zip-lining, fly-fishing, horseback riding, riding chair lifts during a full moon, stretching out during mountaintop yoga, and breathing in fresh air in silence.

As any filmmaker (or hospitality person) will tell you, it's all about setting a scene and filling it with good characters. There's plenty to mine here: ride a scenic lift to the only mountaintop lodge in Utah; have a drink in a 1890s-era bar restored and moved from Wyoming, where it was once a hang out for Butch Cassidy’s Hole in the Wall Gang; catch an outdoor theater performance on a blanket of grass in the middle of summer; hook and zip with a 2,100-foot vertical drop (the most of any zip line in the U.S.A.) for breathtaking views and a hit of adrenaline.

Then retreat to a cozy leather chair in front of the stone fireplace of your rustic mountain cabin and call it a day.

The Vibe: Rocky Mountain Highs — cozy indoor atmosphere, tons of natural sunlight, plenty of space to roam.

Standout Detail: Rustic simplicity paired with artsy attitude that will leave you feeling recharged and refreshed.

This Place Is Perfect For: Devoted outdoor enthusiasts making their pilgrimage to the wilderness mecca.

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THIS WEEK'S FEATURED TRAVELER


Sarah Khan

Editor-in-Chief and Professional Wanderer
 

What do you do?
I’ve recently joined Condé Nast Traveller Middle East as editor-in-chief after eight years as a freelance travel journalist – reporting from six continents for The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Condé Nast Traveler, Travel + Leisure, and many others. After spending so many years working independently and just focused on one aspect of travel media — i.e., the writing, which I’d argue is a very important aspect! — it’s an exciting new challenge being at the helm of a publication I admire in an incredibly dynamic region.
 

What's the biggest work challenge you’re facing right now?
Well it’s been a challenging year for anyone who covers (or simply loves) travel, with all the changing guidelines and phases of this pandemic. And now, just as we started to make a move toward normalcy in countries with the privilege of a successful vaccine rollout, the Delta variant is making us reconsider everything again. Trying to understand how best to navigate the constantly changing landscape while serving our readers with relevant, insightful coverage has been and continues to be a challenge. But in addition, a specific challenge I’m facing at the moment is managing a team in Dubai and London from Boston/New York, until I’m able to move to Dubai! This means lots of early mornings and sleepless nights – during the two weeks we were going to press for my first issue, I was regularly waking up between 2 and 4 a.m. to get more overlap with my team.
 

Any post-pandemic changes you'd like to see?
So many, but in regards to the realm of travel journalism in particular, as editors begin sending writers back out in the field again, I hope we see more diverse and nuanced coverage of diverse destinations. We’ve spent a lot of time at Travel Is Better in Color discussing how we want travel coverage to be and we feel like editors have been paying attention (Fathom's Jeralyn Gerba is also a TIBIC co-founder). Seeing magazines turn to diverse voices on the ground throughout the world as opposed to sending in their existing stable of writers to cover destinations has been a nice change, even as it’s been out of necessity due to restrictions. But I hope that as people begin to return to travel, editors remain cognizant of who they are commissioning and what perspectives they want to showcase in their publications, to create thoughtful content that resonates with much wider audiences.
 

What's a travel trend you’re excited about?
It looks like longer, more meaningful trips will be here to stay for awhile, which means more soulful engagement with destinations and less checklist-churning. I’ve been guilty of trying to pack in as much as possible on trips in the past and will likely continue to have to do so on some level for business travel, but I’m looking forward to incorporating more slow travel into my schedule where I can.
 

Share some recent discoveries.
Music → I wouldn’t say it’s too recent, but anyone who’s followed me on Instagram throughout the pandemic has seen how completely obsessed I’ve been with French rap. I became obsessed on a trip to Tunisia in 2019, but I really leaned in and discovered a whole new world of artists in the past year. If you want to dabble, I’d recommend starting with Gims, Soolking, and Dadju.

Show → I started watching Crash Landing On You on Netflix as an escape during a stressful election week last fall and was completely smitten — by the story, by the lead actors, and by Korean culture and TV ever since. I binged around 15 more shows before having to take a break to focus on my new job!

 

Tell us about a place you are eager to visit. 
All of them! Since the pandemic began I’ve only made one trip, to San Diego to visit my brother’s family, so I am raring to get back out in the world on assignment again. Some places I’m eager to explore: London (I haven’t been in over three decades, believe it or not!), Uzbekistan (I have some Uzbek ancestry so I’d love to trace the footsteps of my ancestors), Albania (British travel writer Tharik Hussain’s new Minarets in the Mountains: A Journey Into Muslim Europe really opened my eyes to the Muslim history in that part of the Balkans), Rwanda (gorillas, yes, but the creative scene sounds really exciting), and, of course, South Korea (to track down all my favorite K-drama locations in Seoul).
 

Do you have a travel happy place?
India. It’s a country I’ve returned to nearly every year of my life, and the place I feel most at home outside the US. But it’s also such a vast and diverse travel destination, and I have barely scratched the surface. I love returning to Hyderabad where we still have a family home, and to Bombay to see friends and eat some of the best food I get to encounter on my travels — but in each trip I try to discover a new-to-me part of the country as well. Next, I hope to take on the mountains for the first time!
 

Finally, which Fathom stories are resonating right now?
There’s something funny that happens when you spend a year and a half grounded: first you spend your days longing for the places you’ve been meaning to visit and wish you hadn’t put off, then you spend time dwelling on memories of past trips and plotting returns to familiar places. But the third phase for me has been reading up about places I’d never thought twice about and adding new regions to an already growing list of post-pandemic destinations — and Fathom’s Wish List is responsible for a growing number of them: Nicaragua, Greenland, and Romania are all places I find myself daydreaming about now. And a little trade secret: whenever I’m looking for hotel industry news, I always start with Fathom — the lists of upcoming and newly opened hotels on the site are the most comprehensive anywhere!


Photo of Sarah Khan by Nabil Attay.


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