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In November 2010, Travelers entered into a joint venture agreement under which the company would invest in J. Malucelli Participações em Seguros e Resseguros S.A., the market leader in the surety insurance business in Brazil. The transaction closed in June 2011 with Travelers acquiring a 43.4 percent interest. Travelers' investment in newly issued shares significantly increased J. Malucelli's capital level, positioning it for substantial growth in Brazil. At the time, Travelers had the option to increase its investment to retain a 49.5 percent interest, which the company later did in 2012.
Travelers was founded in 1864 in Hartford. It was founded to provide travel insurance to railroad travelers at a time when travel was far more risky and dangerous than today, hence the name. Along the way it had many industry firsts, including the first automobile policy, the first commercial airline policy, and the first policy for space travel. In 1954 it established the world's first privately owned weather research facility, the Travelers Weather Research Center, the first organization to make weather predictions using probabilities ("20% chance of rain"). By the early 1990s, Travelers was predominantly a general property and casualty insurer that also happened to do some travel insurance on the side, and it quietly exited its original business in 1994. What was left of Travelers' travel insurance business was acquired by three former employees and is now known as Travel Insured International, a Crum and Forster Company.
For proof of Abu Dhabi’s burgeoning status as the cultural capital of the Middle East, look no further than Saadiyat Cultural District, which is quickly becoming a treasure trove of world-class art and groundbreaking architecture. The multibillion-dollar initiative has already resulted in one major project, the Jean Nouvel-designed Louvre Abu Dhabi, which opened in November. Though its construction was controversial, the museum has quickly become the premier creative beacon in the Emirates. Work is under way nearby on the Zayed National Museum, by Norman Foster; the Abu Dhabi Performing Arts Centre, by Zaha Hadid Architects; and the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, which when completed will be the largest Guggenheim museum in the world. The city’s hotel-building campaign is also in full swing: this year Marriott debuted a 400-room hotel in the Al Forsan sports center, and next year will see the opening of the Abu Dhabi Edition and Saadiyat Rotana Resort & Villas. —Dylan Essertier
Saint Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. was founded March 5, 1853, in St. Paul, Minnesota, serving local customers who were having a difficult time getting claim payments in a timely manner from insurance companies on the east coast of the United States. It barely survived the Panic of 1857 by dramatically paring down its operations and later reorganizing itself into a stock company (as opposed to a mutual company). It soon spread its operations across the country. In 1998 it acquired USF&G, known formerly as United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company, an insurance company based in Baltimore, Maryland, for $3.9 billion in stock and assumed debt. By buying USF&G, they went from the 13th to the eighth largest property and casualty insurance company in the United States. Through economies of scale between the two companies, and a difficult business environment, they downsized the company substantially over the coming years by selling certain business units to focus on more profitable business units.
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The Greek highway system has seen several recent upgrades, with a new route making the 2,000-year-old olive trees and lesser-visited ruins of the Peloponnese, the country’s southernmost swathe of mainland, more accessible. Completed in late 2016, the new A71 highway from Lefktro to Sparta shaves off two hours of driving time from Athens, and has also connected the Lefktro region to nearby Kalamata Airport, about 90 minutes away. Meanwhile, ports have been expanded at Gytheio and Katakolon — the latter a stopping point for the Viking Star, which launched in 2014. Farming is still integral to the region, and agritourism resorts like Eumelia constantly refresh their food and wellness-themed workshops, in addition to serving local dishes like maniatiki pasta with dry mizithra cheese, and moustokouloura, or cookies made with grape molasses. Goddesses seeking more temple-like accommodations should head to Porto Heli, on the eastern side of the Peloponnese, where everyone is talking about Amanzoe’s new Villa 31, a serene space with grandstand views of the surrounding coastline that contains a unique installation by light artist James Turrell. —Adam Harney Graham
U.S. travelers have historically overlooked Mauritius in favor of other Indian Ocean destinations like the Seychelles and Maldives. That could all change, though, now that this remote, idyllic island some 1,200 miles off the African coast has become easier to reach. A flurry of new airline services launched at the end of 2017: KLM began servicing Mauritius from Amsterdam, and British carrier Thomas Cook Airlines introduced biweekly flights in November. Upon arrival, travelers can take in dreamy lagoon views from the newly reopened One&Only Le Saint Géran, fresh off a multimillion-dollar renovation. Every room and suite now has a private terrace or balcony, marble baths with cascade showers, and sophisticated teak, stone, and leather accents. Guests can also look forward to updated dining experiences — like lunch spot La Pointe, which grills fresh-caught seafood over firewood and coconut embers, or open-air restaurant La Terrasse, which offers Mauritian specialties. Unchanged at Le Saint Géran is its aura of exclusivity, thanks to the resort’s unique position on a private peninsula jutting out from the island’s eastern shore. —Melanie Lieberman
Beyond offering a glimpse into ancient history, Jordan is also making a name for itself as a luxury destination. Hilton opened the Dead Sea Resort & Spa in March 2017, making it the first Hilton in the country. Located at the lowest point on earth, some 1,345 feet below sea level, the resort offers beach access, Middle Eastern cuisine, and treatments containing the mineral-rich black mud. —Jess McHugh