It’s time to rip up that to-do list and replace it with a single directive: unwind. For those who prefer to do their de-stressing somewhere extraordinary, our travel writer UTE JUNKER has picked five of the world’s most luxurious hideaways.
The designer Dorotheée Meilichzon loves a bedhead. Meilichzon works with Europe’s Experimental Group — responsible for some of the hippest cocktail bars in Paris and London, as well as a growing collection of chic boutique retreats across the Continent — and she believes a bedhead creates a sense of occasion. It’s a way of letting guests “sleep like a royal”, she says.
At Menorca Experimental (menorcaexperimental.com), the group’s first country retreat, Meilichzon’s signature stylings — sleek lines, geometric shapes, plenty of natural light and, of course, those grand bedheads — are in evidence, but there’s also a sense of tradition. Set in a whitewashed 19th-century farmhouse, the timeworn terracotta tiles and rough-hewn timber floors add to the atmosphere of the charming 43-room hotel.
The vibe in Menorca is very different to that of its sister island, Ibiza, and this extends to Menorca Experimental’s tranquil take on the classic Mediterranean hotel. Instead of buzzing clubs and bars, Menorca is a place of aromatic pine forests, sheltered rocky coves and endless hiking trails.
The hotel’s clever fit-out offers open-plan spaces for convivial evenings and quiet corners for curling up and enjoying your own company. Guest activities range from horse riding to yoga sessions.
Want to get creative? Pottery, painting, mozaic and drawing classes will help you find your flow.
If you’re dreaming of an island escape — the type where white-sand beaches are washed by tropical waters and the most pressing decision is whether to have the spicy prawns or grilled fish — Kisawa (kisawasanctuary.com) is calling. Tucked away on the lovely Benguerra Island in Mozambique’s Bazaruto Archipelago, Kisawa comprises 12 residences, each set on a 4,000-square-metre block.
Designed to sit within the landscape rather than on top of it, the residences are styled with natural materials, each including an infinity pool and hand-carved stone tub. Every element at Kisawa has been carefully considered, from the organic cuisine and purpose-built yoga dome to the Natural Wellness Centre, where treatments draw on Chinese and Ayurvedic traditions. Relax in the Japanese infrared sauna or head over to the marine research centre, where you can join the experts in a tag-and-release fishing expedition. This encounter includes everything from marlin and yellowfin tuna to wahoo and hammerhead sharks.
If romance is on the menu, a lavish picnic amid the sand dunes or aboard a traditional Mozambican dhow (sailing vessel) is recommended. In the mood for fun? Take one of the resort’s electric Mini Mokes for a spin, or grab a slice from the Pizza Tuk Tuk that roams the resort.
STAR OF THE SEA
Some mornings, it’s just too tempting to stay in bed. At Borgo Santandrea (borgosantandrea.it), that’s perfectly acceptable. One of the best things about the Amalfi Coast’s latest luxury hotel is that you can enjoy views of that magically blue Mediterranean whilst snuggled under the sheets. Sooner or later, however, you will want to emerge from under the covers, simply because there are so many ways to enjoy this intimate cliffside hideaway that overlooks the village of Concadei Marini on Italy’s most picturesque slice of coast.
Start slowly by spending some time soaking up the sun on the hotel’s private beach — the ultimate Amalfi Coast luxury. Or take a dip in the saltwater pool. When you are ready to explore further afield, the staff can organise a boat for the day. You may want to pop over to Capri to add some see-and-be-seen glamour to your holiday, or take the scenic route and drop in at some of the picturesque bays nestled beneath the soaring cliffs that dominate the shoreline.
Either way, be sure to make it back intime for dinner. All three of the resort’s restaurants serve elegantly executed meals. From plates of handmade pasta to locally harvested olives and the unmistakable flavour of Amalfi’s famous lemons — not to mention the freshest seafood around — every meal is an indulgence.
A long, lazy day at one of Malaysia’s newest luxury resorts beckons. Question is, where are you going to set up basecamp? You might take a seat overlooking the resort’s main lap pool, lined by tall trees in which monkeys happily gambol. You might head over to the chic beach club, where laidback beats and a Mediterranean feel prevail. Or you might just chill out in the courtyard of your villa, where sleek, clean lines dominate — a hallmark of the celebrated Australian architect Kerry Hill, who created some of Asia’s most memorable resorts.
At One & Only Desaru Coast (oneandonlyresorts.com), there are always options. Positioned between the jungle and the coast on Malaysia’s south-eastern tip, not far from Singapore, this resort delivers luxury and adventure in equal doses. Intrepid travellers can go on jungle expeditions or take a Malaysian martial arts class.
Those who prefer a slower pace should book themselves into the magnificent Chenot Spa, which features treatments based on traditional Chinese and alternative medicines. For maximum results, three-day wellness programs, designed to boost the process of de-stressing and decompressing, are offered. Meals are a highlight, from the exquisite omakase menus in the moodily lit Hoshi Japanese restaurant to the Asian-inflected barbecue on offer at the Ember Beach Club. Afterwards, wrap up your day with a post-dinner cocktail and relax as the balmy night air drapes itself over your shoulders.
Your bags have been stored in your room. The helicopter you arrived in has disappeared into the vast blue sky that spills towards the horizon. Silence descends and you finally realise you are at the edge of the world — and you are wonderfully, blissfully alone.
Positioned in the Lyngen Alps, high above the Arctic Circle on Norway’s north-western edge, where the icy waters are freckled with uninhabited islands and ice-carved peninsulas, Aurora Lodge (blacktomato.com) redefines remote luxury. An exemplar of contemporary design, the six-suite retreat is only available for exclusive use. A host and private chef will ensure a steady supply of creature comforts but beyond that, you and your crew are on your own.
This is the perfect place to find some stillness and let yourself be mesmerised by the rhythms of nature. If you want to explore further, you can hike the pristine forest, visit a puffin colony via sailboat or have a professional photographer teach you how to capture the magical light of the midnight sun.
Just a word of warning: chances are, you’ll enjoy this slice of Norwegian wilderness so much that you will want to do it all over again in winter, when you can ski fresh powder down slopes that lead all the way to the sea and also witness the northern lights blaze in the endless sky.