Category Archives: exotic travel

The Maldives: Your Uncrowded Covid Safe Island Retreat

Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa

With the lowest villa density in the Maldives, Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa is one of the most private islands in the archipelago. You know what that means? Less people, less chances of catching Covid!

Prioritizing safety and seamlessness, Emerald has launched a series of new private experiences, each included in the Deluxe All-Inclusive offering – from private Teppanyaki classes to luxury boat trips.

The stunning Maldives property from above

One of the archipelago’s most exclusive all-inclusive, The Emerald Maldives Resort and Spa has launched a selection of new, private experiences for couples, families and small groups of friends looking to re-connect after a year apart. Here, privacy doesn’t have to cost the earth – each experience is included as part of the island’s Deluxe All-Inclusive offering – from private boat and snorkelling adventures, to cooking classes and private dining on the beach.

You’ll find me here

The island, which spans just 250 acres, possesses the lowest villa density in the Maldives, offering guests a completely private and undisturbed experience. Head out onto the tranquil Indian Ocean on a luxury boat and prowl the pristine lagoon in search of tropical fish and manta rays, rubbing shoulders with the resident marine life and exploring the colourful coral on snorkelling trips. Adventurous travellers (like me, of course) can head out into the deeper ocean on a diving excursion, or try their hand at wind surfing, kayaking or jet skiing.

I’m hungry for some island time already

Back on dry land, I plan to start my day with a floating breakfast in my private pool, or enjoying an exclusive private dining experience on the beach (inspiring photo above). For a hands-on foodie experience for someone like my amateur chef hubs, they have private Teppanyaki cooking classes with one of Emerald’s expert chefs at Le Asiatique Restaurant; learn to prepare fresh-from-the-ocean seafood and island ingredients with true Teppanyaki flair. While children are under the watchful eye of Dolphin Kids’ Club, I’ll finally be able to relax with a private yoga session or toast to my island escape experience with a creative cocktail in the Sunset Pool Café with views over the azure ocean. Now who’s paying?

20% off best available rate for a minimum of 7 night’s stay for a maximum of two adults and two children, applicable for all bookings received before February 28th 2021. Offer includes deluxe all-inclusive package, complimentary 60 minutes massage for two adults OR 1x cooking class for the whole family and 1 x in-room family breakfast.

Rates start from £700 (approx. $955) per night on a deluxe-all-inclusive basis

http://www.emerald-maldives.com

Explore Alaska’s Most Scenic Wonders in Winter

Alaska Awaits

Alaska is open, y’all, and it’s ideal for families and friends who dream of exploring America’s greatest wildernesses free of crowds and against a pristine white canvas. Imagine skiing through forests, wildlife spotting, flightseeing above multicolored geysers and glaciers cresting on the snow, and a vastness only available in the quiet of winter. Abercrombie & Kent’s U.S. Luxury Tailor Made itineraries, which can be customized to your private party’s interests, feature handpicked local guides, fun activities that naturally lend themselves to social distancing, and luxurious accommodations. You can even book with confidence knowing you can reschedule your journey due to COVID-19, and that they have enhanced protocols in place to safeguard your health while travelling. This is numero uno in my book since I’ve been sheltering in place for almost a year and need to know things are on the up and up.

Our recent travel dream favorite is their Call of the Iditarod series because I’ve always been obsessed with riding a husky driven sled through the snow like a Russian Bond Girl.

You too?

Well, we can celebrate Alaska’s famed Iditarod dogsled race, watching the participants prepare and depart from Anchorage on their 1,000-mile trek, witnessing their arrival at an important checkpoint near your remote wilderness lodge. You can dogsled yourself along the rugged Iditarod trail on this independent journey filled with the splendors of Alaskan wilderness.

The skinny:

  • Join Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous festival, giving the Iditarod teams a ceremonial send-off
  • Take in the buzz of Iditarod mushers and their teams arrive at a remote checkpoint
  • Choose from an array of outdoor activities, including the option to drive your own dogsled team
  • Discover the history of Alaska’s indigenous culture and art in Anchorage

Itinerary at a Glance

DAY 1

ARRIVE ANCHORAGE, ALASKA 

DAY 2

ANCHORAGE | CELEBRATING THE IDITAROD

DAY 3

WINTERLAKE LODGE | SCENIC WILDERNESS FLIGHT

DAYS 4–5

WINTERLAKE LODGE | IDITAROD MUSHERS’ ARRIVE

DAY 6

WINTERLAKE LODGE | DOGSLEDDING & THE GREAT OUTDOORS

DAY 7

ANCHORAGE | EXPERIENCING INDIGENOUS CULTURE

DAY 8

DEPART ANCHORAGE
INCLUDED WITH EVERY LUXURY TAILOR MADE JOURNEY
  • One-of-a-kind Itinerary Designed for You
  • Driver-guide and vehicle
  • Hand-Selected Accommodations
  • Exclusive Insider-Access Opportunities and Inspiring Sightseeing
  • English-Speaking Local Guides
  • Airport Meet and Greet with Private Transfers
  • Full Breakfast Daily
  • Entrance Fees and Taxes
  • 24/7 A&K On-Call Support

Want more info? I don’t blame you.

Check this link and get on it: https://www.abercrombiekent.com/tours/luxury-tailor-made-travel/2021/alaska-call-of-the-iditarod

What’s New in Africa

Phinda Photograph
andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge Game Reserve by dusk

These days, people are looking for a vacation with meaning. They’re also looking to depart from the standard locations of typical sun and sand for something truly memorable. So, with that in mind, we wanted to share with our readers what’s new in Africa from andBeyond and Belmond Mount Nelson to properties in Marrakech and trips to Dakar!

andBeyond Phinda Rock Lodge reopened its redesigned suites and guest areas in May 2017. Dramatically set into a cliff face overlooking a deep valley, the lodge has restyled its areas with a combination of woven linens, hand-embroidered cotton, and oriental carpets. New French doors open to extended outdoor verandas and a rooftop terrace provides the ideal venue for dining beneath the stars.

Royal Mansour
Royal Mansour, Marrakech

With all eyes on Marrakech this year as the new YSL Museum opens in October, Royal Mansour recently completed a major property expansion that included an additional two acres of manicured gardens. Aptly named Le Jardin, the expanded grounds were designed using a number of traditional Moroccan reference points such as the grid of olive trees that stand at the center of the garden (a nod to the UNESCO World Heritage Agdal Gardens and palm trees).

Ahead of the upcoming release of Nelson Mandela’s new memoir “Dare Not Linger: The Presidential Years” in October, Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel also recently launched its first artist-in-residence program with Cyril Coetzee, Nelson Mandela’s portraitist. Guests can sit for Cyril, or leave a photograph behind to be transformed into an oil painting on canvas. For guests looking to hone their art skills, Coetzee is also available for group classes and private lessons.

Mark Williams
Belmond Mount Nelson’s famous pink facade 

Beginning in November, andBeyond Bateleur Camp will undergo a total refurbishment to be complete by 2018. The new look for this camp on the Maasai Mara will include new private verandas, deep bathtubs, al fresco showers, and fire pits, as well as the addition of two new swimming pools, a fitness center, a massage sala, and a coffee bar.

Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge will be closed for a complete refurbishment starting November 2017. Before its closure, Alexander McCall Smith, author of the popular “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” book series, returns to Botswana to host his second-annual Belmond safari. The six-night safari from September 20-26, 2017 is split evenly between Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge and Belmond Eagle Island Lodge. Alexander will regale guests with stories about his personal connections to Botswana and give an inside look to his newest books for the year ahead.

Ponant is offering a new itinerary from Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain to Dakar, Africa, November 8-17, 2018. The ship ventures through the rugged, volcanic Canary Islands off Africa’s western coast and to Praia, Santiago, the largest island in the Cape Verde archipelago. Le Champlain, set to launch in 2018 and one of the new four PONANT EXPLORER ships, will also be equipped with a world’s first: an underwater multi-sensory lounge, called Blue Eye.

BLUE EYE 2 EXPLORERS (c) PONANT - JACQUES ROUGERIE ARCHITECTE 2
Pennant’s Explorer Impressive Interiors by Jacques Rougerie

Shop Like a Local

andBeyond’s Kenya lodges, Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp and Bateleur Camp neighbor a local Maasai village where guests can speak with locals and buy handmade jewelry and crafts, with all proceeds given back to the community.

Guests of Royal Mansour can enjoy guided shopping trips into the souk, including a culinary-themed trip featuring some of Chef Yannick Alleno’s favorite places. Some of his favorites items include lemon confits from Bab Ftouh, olive oil sourced from the middle and high Atlas in the surrounding valleys, and dried apricots from the Mellah, the popular Jewish quarter known for its hectic atmosphere at the Spice Market.

Belmond Mount Nelson Hotel is a short stroll from nearby Long Street, dotted with boutiques selling South African clothes and home goods. Guests can stop in Greenmarket Square to pick up some locally made crafts, such as malachite bowls, paintings of the Cape, or bone salad tongs.

Look to the stars

andBeyond Sossusvlei Desert Lodge has an unobstructed and unpolluted view of the night sky in Namibia’s first Dark Sky Reserve. Resident astronomer is on hand to point out planets and constellations, and over-bed skylights provide the perfect locale for spotting shooting stars.

Each of the Belmond Safari lodges – Belmond Khwai River Lodge, Belmond Savute Elephant Lodge, and Belmond Eagle Island Lodge – allows guests the opportunity to experience the vast dome of Botswana’s uninterrupted night sky. Guests will learn how the local tribes used the stars to direct them.

Guests at andBeyond Phinda Private Game Reserve can spend a magical night under the stars. After a leisurely afternoon game drive, guests arrive at a romantic setting in the middle of the bush – complete with comfortable beds with duvets and warm blankets draped with billowing mosquito nets, inviting chairs surrounding a blazing campfire, and twinkling lanterns hanging from the trees. (Secure in the knowledge that an armed guard will patrol the site throughout the night.)

At the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, guests of Royal Mansour can enjoy a starry night away from the busy lights of Marrakech. Following a private tour on 4×4 vehicles, guests can indulge in sunset cocktails and a gourmet dinner in their own private camp, served with just the glow of candles, torches, and a blanket of stars above.

Unique Island Escapes

And now… for Small Luxury Hotels unique island escapes!

Fiji Best Hotels
Kokomo Island: Kadavu Islands, Fiji

Kokomo Island: Kadavu Islands, Fiji

Combining luxury, sustainably and unspoilt beauty, Kokomo Island is Fiji’s newest and most exclusive private island resort, situated on the edge of the celestial Kadavu Island group. Kokomo Island opened in March 2017 and is the first SLH hotel in Fiji. The boutique property is encircled by the untouched Great Astrolabe Reef so ideal for diving enthusiasts (the hotel has its own Dive Centre for guests). The 21 villas, owner’s beachfront residence and five hilltop residences are designed for privacy and comfort, featuring sustainable design and traditional Fijian touches, all alive with character. Guests can enjoy fresh, sustainably-sourced produce at the resort’s three restaurants, as well as a number of dining experiences including a chef BBQ and private island picnic. The Kokomo Island spa blends world-class Sodashi products with rejuvenating indigenous Fijian beauty rituals to create signature treatments. The hotel is a personal passion project for Australian billionaire property developer, Lang Walker, who, together with his family, has brought his vision for an island paradise like no other to life.

SLH Insider Tip:  Visit the nearby manta ray cleaning station, where manta rays come to get freshened up by wrasse fish, and take the opportunity to swim with the rays.

Rates: $1,795/night

www.slh.com/kokomo

Greek villas
Naxian Collection Luxury Villas and Suites: Naxos, Greece

Naxian Collection Luxury Villas and Suites: Naxos, Greece

Rates: $288/night

www.slh.com/naxian

Situated on the lesser known Greek island of Naxos, Naxian Collection is a chic hill-top retreat with ten sugar cube white villas and suites providing a serene sanctuary. The cave-like rooms are decked out with minimalist interiors, cream walls, bamboo screens and giant bathtubs. Each room offers stunning views over landscaped gardens, lagoons and nearby Naxos town, which is just two miles away. Pretty Agios Prokopios beach is just a ten minute walk from the property and there are plenty of walking or horse-riding trails to keep outdoorsy guests busy. The hotel’s kitchen boasts plenty of local organic ingredients and traditional Naxian recipes from the property’s own organic field, free-range chicken coop, nearby olive groves and the family vineyards. It also has its own wine cellar which is home to a formidable selection of local wine.

SLH Insider Tip: Try and time your stay with a classical music concert or violin recital at the Venetian Museum of Naxos in the Kastro which offers live entertainment year round.

Sikelia Pantelleria, Italy
Sikelia: Pantelleria, Italy

Sikelia: Pantelleria, Italy

Known as the ‘Black pearl of the Mediterranean’, Pantelleria is a perfect escape for adventurous travellers willing to voyage a little further to be rewarded by natural volcanic hot springs, a rugged coastline, spectacular caves surrounded by the bluest of seas and warm volcanic waters to swim in. The enigmatic owner, Giulia Pazienz, ensures all the service is personal, friendly and sincere. Built out of an ancient dammuso, designed by the island’s most famous resident architect – Gabriella Guintoli, the wild beauty of the island is reflected in the hotel itself. Ancient pottery, glazed painted tiles and predominantly dark shades throughout lend an air of drama to the property. The 20 rooms are unique yet share a stylish design with meticulous attention to the finer details, with Frette linens and Hermés products in every bathroom. At the hotel’s restaurant, Themá, the chef combines fresh fish and shellfish with vegetables grown in Sikelia’s own garden, serving bold flavours from Arabia, Africa and Southern Italy. This is all served with intense, aromatic wine from the owner’s estate, made from the Zibibbo grape, indigenous of the island.

SLH Insider Tip: For a more informal dining experience, guests can head to the owner’s Coste Ghirlanda Wine Laboratory which is flooded with candles and offers a rustic cosy vibe where guests eat under the stars on communal kitchen tables.

Rates: $360/night

www.slh.com/sikelia

To make a booking visit www.slh.com or call 1-877-234-7033

Kerala’s Secret Ayurvedic Resort

ayurvedic retreats
Anantya Kerala

There are two kinds of secrets- one that is not worth keeping and the other which is too good to keep. Tucked away amidst a 1000-acre rubber plantation, about 50 kilometers from Trivandrum; the capital of Kerala lies a secret of the latter kind – Anantya.

The facilities at Anantya, which opened just a few years ago, include 21 cottages, a swimming pool, a multi-cuisine restaurant and a spa that offers ayurvedic therapies.

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‘Astitva,’ in common usage means ‘existence.’ But, in ancient Sanskrit, it stands for the attainment of the complete potential of every thing. In its purest form it is the attainment of god himself. This is the property’s motto where they want guests to experience complete and holistic wellness. Anantya Travancore has teamed up with the Pankajakasthuri Group, a renowned name in the field of Ayurveda, to provide authentic and traditional Ayurvedic spa services. The Group, which runs the Pankajakasthuri Ayurvedic College and Hospital has a history of providing Ayurvedic services for many generations has helped to provide a tailor made program with revitalizing and therapeutic treatments in their beautiful spa rooms overlooking a their lake.

Anantya Kerala.png

For guests taking advantage of ayurvedic or yoga packages, they also have ‘Sattvic’ cuisine. A Sattvic diet is the traditional term for a yoga diet or sentient diet which focuses on foods that have ‘Sattva Guna’, (literally translated to ‘pure benefits’). A Sattvic diet leads to clarity of mind and offers maximum benefit to the body. Dining also reflects the palates of international clientele with local delicacies, in addition to dishes inspired by Italian, Mexican, and Asian cuisines.

If that isn’t convincing enough for a Kerala retreat, perhaps the photos might!

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By Sanjay Sivadas

http://anantyaresorts.com/