With South Africans seeking refuge at home as the third wave of the coronavirus rages, travel plans are once again put on the back burner.
But that doesn’t mean, you should be deprived of the experience of a destination escape.
In fact, The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals helps viewers travel vicariously through the adventures of its three intrepid hosts: Jo Franco, Megan Batoon and Luis D Ortiz.
These guys are wonderful anchors for the show.
Jo, who has more than 50 destinations under her belt and speaks six languages, has a wealth of knowledge when it comes to immersion travel. She curates experiences that her co-stars will love even though they might not be sold on the idea at first.
Megan, who is a well-known DIY designer, has her eye on places of architectural beauty that don’t cost an arm and a leg. And she finds some amazing gems. Although, when it comes to travel, she’s an unashamed newbie.
Now Luis, who has appeared on Million Dollar Listing and comes from a high-end real-estate background, is known for gravitating towards opulence.
And he pulls out all the stops to ensure they get the five-star experience in the most memorable way.
The trio fearlessly traverse snowy landscapes to sun-kissed islands and everything in between. Their pit stops include Bali, Alaska, Miami, San Francisco, the Caribbean, Finland, Mexico City, the Bahamas, Japan and more.
In the first episode, which kicks off in Bali, a question is posed: “Are you ready to start travelling again?”
After watching the episode, your response is bound to be, “Hell yeah!”
It kicked off with quick stats on how many rentals are available. The figure sits at well over 3 million. The options are picturesque and cover every budget and bucket list of adventures and soul-enriching desires.
I have to admit, every frame in each episode is not just Instaworthy, it leaves you inspired.
Also, having the perfect travel buddy is important. What I love about Jo, Megan and Luis is that they share that spontaneous spirit for adventure as they immerse themselves effortlessly among the locals. They soak up the sights and partake in the culture with respect and a willingness to learn, which impresses their host.
And they are not afraid to try new things, either.
Also, their fun-loving personalities make them endearing, especially when gauging their first reaction to a new vacation rental.
The journey kicks off at the Firefly Eco Lodge in Ubud, Bali. This experience was picked by Megan. And she chose to push her comfort zone with this choice.
The four-storey bird’s nest spot comprises four bamboo pods, two guest bathrooms, and can comfortably sleep eight guests.
From a budget perspective, at $24 (about R350) a pod a night, it’s a bargain.
Side note: Bali is one of the top destinations in Indonesia and it attracts six million visitors every year.
Despite it being a bit of a walk via the Balinese rice fields to get to the venue, they were rewarded for their efforts with a breathtaking view.
Luis explained: “Wow, it looks like a village.”
And he called dibs on the “penthouse”, which was basically the floor right at the top. He loved the high ceiling, chandelier, panoramic views and fresh air.
He added: “There’s intention behind it. Someone thought of this particular vibe and experience.”
Megan marvelled over the “beautifully executed space”.
“Design like this has been trending on social media for years,” she added.
A well-travelled Jo encouraged tourists to remember to bring flip flops as the shower is a shared space.
Aside from girls exploring the arts and crafts in the city, Luis decided to hang with a local for the day.
At the communal dinner, they also bumped into a few South African guests and bonded over the meal.
Next up, the three travelled for 90 minutes to Selat, which is off the grid. They stayed at the Camaya Bali Butterfly rental, which is one of five unique terrace rentals on the 16-acre mountain retreat.
Made, who was the host as well as a village leader, built this architectural treasure among the rice fields, which goes for $375 a night.
The place, which looks like a butterfly, is made from bamboo and opens into nature.
Megan gushed: “There’s so much to look at, I almost can’t breathe.”
Jo added: “This takes natural design to another level.”
Part of their stay included an immersive experience where they got to participate in Galungan Day, which is Christmas, Bali-style. And they donned traditional outfits for the event.
The final stop for them in the first episode was at the Noku Beach House, which costs $4 000 a night. It has a modern feel and opens to stunning views of the Indian Ocean.
“I was transported to a different place when we walked into here,” Megan said.
This place brings out the wow factor in so many ways. It has hand-crafted teak headboards. The one bathroom has 56 000 herringbone tiles. Its 20-staff complement includes a private chef and a bartender.
Talk about paradise on earth.
This is what our three hosts deliver in this eight-part series. They give viewers front row seats to unforgettable experiences.
Whether they are engaging in an adventure activity, tucking into gourmet cuisine, venturing into uncharted off the beaten track territory or basking in the opulence of a destination that cuts across culture, climate and terrain, they will blow your mind while stoking the wanderlust.
The World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals is streaming on Netflix.