I always visit and explore the destinations I recommend to my luxury travel clients, and on my last trip to the Caucasus region(Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia), I was thoroughly enchanted. In my recent blog I wrote about the food and wine, but the Caucasus mountains are not only beautiful and awe-inspiring, they also offer fine winter sports and trekking opportunities. In fact, this region had been the playground for the Soviet “aristocracy” for many many years. It is now open to all, and the governments of all three countries are investing in sport tourism, and luxury travel. You will find elegant lodges and hotels nestled in pristine snow covered mountains; all accessible via local airports, ski lifts or roads. The hotels welcome single travelers or entire families with equal grace, and offer several levels of accommodation from splendid to spectacular.
These lands also offer a look into a fascinating past. Armenia, Ajerbaijan and Georgia have stories to tell, and archeological and architectural sites to fire the imagination. And they are also forward thinking, with stunning new buildings designed by world class architects. Nowhere is this more evident in the capitol city of Azerbaijan, Baku. Stand in one place in the Old City and you can observe the12th century Maiden tower; turn around and you will see the iconic Flame Towers, a group of three sleek skyscrapers that stand guard over the harbor and its environs. In the Capitol of Georgia, you can look out over the battlements of an ancient fortress and onto the petal-like roofs of Massimiliano Fuksas’ Public Service Hall across the river.
Christianity arrived early in Armenia and Georgia, and churches abound there. The object of their devotion may be similar but their locations and histories are distinctive. I visited Gergety Trinity Church, on its lofty peak in the clouds. It is a staggering example of spiritual dedication, whose workers had to haul stone up a mountainside to build it.