Scouting Report 2007

By Kate Appleton, David LaHuta, Laura MacNeil, Sean O'Neill, Erik Torkells, and Brad Tuttle
August 9, 2007
We asked 10 people who explore for a living to reveal the places they've recently "discovered"--in other words, the best places you've never heard of (and, frankly, neither had we). Go now, before the rest of the world catches up.

Claus Sendlinger: President and CEO of Berlin-based Design Hotels, a collective of 154 hotels worldwide (

As president and CEO of Design Hotels, Claus Sendlinger travels about every other week--in other words, half the year. When asked the last four places he had been, he had to take a minute to try and remember (he recalled, in no particular order, St. Petersburg, Budapest, Vienna, and Rome). One place that Sendlinger won't soon forget was on the Pacific Coast of the Mexican state of Oaxaca.

"For Christmas, my wife and I went to Mexico for three weeks--the longest vacation I've taken since I left school!" says Sendlinger. After exploring the inland part of Oaxaca, they headed to the beach. "We did an area that's east of Puerto Escondido and west of Huatulco," he says. "It's right in between, where the mountains come down and reach the ocean. There are four little beaches, some with little hippie villages named after them: Mazunte, Zipolite, San Agustinillo, and La Boquilla." They stayed at Hotel Bahía de la Luna, just outside the town of Puerto Ángel. It has 11 bungalows right on the white-sand beach of La Boquilla.

His friends Carlos Couturier Gaya and Moisés Micha, who own the Habita and Condesa DF hotels in Mexico City and the Básico in Playa del Carmen, had tipped him off about Bahía de la Luna. "They know Mexico so well, so I explained what I was looking for and they told us to rent a car in Puerto Escondido and drive."

Sendlinger found it to be an incredibly relaxed (and relaxing) place--not just the hotel, but the entire coastal region--and he spent most of his time reading on the beach. "Early in the trip," he says, "I accidentally left my flip-flops at a bar, and I never even bothered to replace them."

How to get there: Hotel Bahía de la Luna, 011-52/958-589-5020,, from $60.

Plan Your Next Getaway
Keep reading

Scouting Report 2007

YIRGALEM, ETHIOPIAGeoff Watts: Co-owner of and coffee buyer for Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea, a Chicago coffee-roasting company ( Geoff Watts was fresh out of college when he began working as a barista for Intelligentsia in 1995, the same year the socially conscious coffee-roasting company launched in Chicago. In his current role as green-coffee buyer, Watts spends up to nine months a year sourcing coffee beans in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. "We want to change the culture from being a farmer to being an artisan," he says. Of the 18 countries where Watts works, Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee, intrigues him most. "That's the same area where the human race originated. I guess it's a natural pairing," he quips. Small coffee farms and towns like Yirgacheffe, which lends its name to the coffee varietal grown in the region, dot a river valley about a six-hour drive south of Addis Ababa. "It's just beautifully wet, and the soil's really rich," says Watts. "You can tell the coffee enjoys being there." It's also ideal for hiking, horseback riding, cycling, and taking a dip in the hot and cold springs. Watts recommends Yirgalem as a regional base; travelers can stay at the Aregash Lodge, where the 10 round, thatched-roof tukuls (bungalows) are decorated with woven baskets and handcrafts typical of the local Sidama people. They have a strong tradition of consuming coffee and perform elaborate ceremonies when preparing and drinking it, especially in the presence of visitors. "The culture is fascinating, and the people are so friendly and gentle," says Watts. How to get there: Aregash Lodge, 011-251/46-225-1136,, from $34; car with driver from $130 a day,

Scouting Report 2007

BARANJA REGION, CROATIAAnne Wood: Program director for Mountain Travel Sobek, a small-group adventure-travel company founded in 1969 ( Anne Wood spends about a third of the year in Europe and the Pacific for Mountain Travel Sobek. During a recent visit to Croatia, she became fascinated by the remote northeastern region of Slavonia. Osijek, a town about a three-hour drive from Zagreb and the scene of much violence between the Croats and the Serbs in the early 1990s, has, Wood says, "a beautiful old square, with 18th-century Austrian-influenced architecture in pastel blues and yellows." Less than an hour's drive north of Osijek is the Baranja wine region. "Flat fields of wheat turn into rolling vineyards dotted with tiny A-frame cottages," says Wood. "These are actually centuries-old, family-run wineries." Behind each house, a big wooden door opens into a wine cellar where 200-year-old barrels store traminac, pinot blanc, merlot, and other varieties. "Usually somebody brings fresh-baked bread from the kitchen, and then we sample wines and enjoy the scenery," says Wood. She recommends the cellars in Zmajevac and Suza, and Baranjska Kuca, a restaurant in Karanac. There, musicians play traditional songs while venison, sausages, and fish stew are prepared in an outdoor oven and served family-style. Though locals are friendly, "it's not easy to find your way around," says Wood. "People don't speak much English, if any." How to get there: Wine Cellar Josíc, 194 Planina, Zmajevac, 011-385/98-252-657,; Wine Cellar Mihalj Gerstmajer, 31 Petöfi Sandora, Zmajevac 011-385/91-351-5586; Baranjska Kuca, 99 Kolodvorska, Karanac, 011-385/31-720-180,