Most of us right now are dreaming of the day sometime soon when we can escape to a far off destination with warm sunshine, adventure, delicious food and wine all prepared by someone else and while travel still seems like it’s still in the distant future we have put together this list of nine truly incredible locations to choose from when the time comes. Go on, have a little scroll… whether you are looking for an exclusive villa next to the crystal clear Mediterranean waters of Crete or a treehouse escape in the wilds of South Africa we’ve got it covered…
1. FORESTIS – DOLIMITES, ITALY
Originally built as a sanitorium for Tuberculosis sufferers, FORESTIS is now a five star mountain retreat on the southern slopes of the Plose mountain in the Dolomites, Italy. Sitting at 1,800 metres above sea level, the retreat and its 62 suites are all surrounded by dense, lush mountain forest. The luxury hideaway inspires year-round relaxation and regeneration with a focus on time, nature and simplicity, something many of us need right now.
The FORESTIS suites embrace nature, being south facing also means they are thoroughly spoiled by sun all day and offer guests a breathtaking view of the UNESCO mountain range World Natural Heritage Dolomites. There are three types of suite available from suites in the historic house to the penthouse suits which offer two glorious floors of spacious living. Discover more here.
The spa extends over an extensive area of 2,000 SQM and is set over two floors with a view of the outdoor scenery that looks almost too good to be true. The spa offers both an indoor and outdoor pool, a brine steam bath (65°c), Finnish sauna (85°c), bio sauna (70°c), textile sauna (45°c) and outdoor sauna (90°c) in a traditional South Tyrolean wooden house.
The silent room with a hearth in the middle does exactly what it says on the tin – here guests can find silence and peace after their sauna session. The tea lounge has its own curated library of eight signature tea blends from South Tyrol and light snacks.
On top of all this, the first floor has four treatment rooms, a private spa for couple treatments, two cosmetic rooms and relaxation rooms. A state of the art gym includes the latest generation of TechnoGym equipment as well as space for Wyda yoga sessions to take place (a form of traditional meditation that resembles a form of yoga which was first performed by the Celts).
Food is just as exquisite as everything else at FORESTIS and the restaurant is overseen by Head Chef Roland Lamprecht who has experience from working in many Michelin star restaurants throughout Europe. Set below the historic house, the restaurant sources produce from local farmers and suppliers – plus is cleverly laid out in terraces so that each and every table has a clear view of the Dolomites. In addition to this there are two bars (one interior) which uses herbs, berries and nuts etc from the surrounding forests, whilst the rooftop bar offers unrestricted views and a lounge area with a fire pit for year-round use.
When it comes to activities FORESTIS is ideal for skiing enthusiasts and offers a ski-in / ski-out where ski tours can be arranged and a guide will take you to all the secret ski spots! There’s so much to love about this dream-like escape that it’s a must-visit if you are in need of a re-boot as close to nature as possible. Discover the magic of FORESTIS for yourself here.
2. AMANGIRI – UTAH, USA
Amangiri is a tranquil spot found on the Colorado Plateau of Utah’s vast, peaceful open desert. Amangiri is a luxury resort that offers what feels like an other-worldly experience completely away from everything. Hidden in a 600-acre sanctuary of wilderness and isolation in Canyon Point, Southern Utah. This incredible destination blends into countless untouched square miles of red rock country, a truly peaceful breath-taking landscape. Surrounded by canyons, mesas, mountains, gorges, rapids and desert and traces of human life dating back more than 10,000 years, here you are in the midst of a grand theatre of nature at its most extraordinary.
The resort offers beautiful suites that frame the surrounding dunes, plateaus and mountain ridges. Spacious with clean lines and natural materials, the suites reflect the surrounding qualities of the Utah desert whilst providing comfort. Each suite has an outdoor lounge and fireplace, expansive views and some also feature a private pool or roof terrace. For those who prefer a more secluded privacy there’s also tented pavilions and homes. The Camp Sariki tented pavilions are just a five minute drive from Amangiri, there’s a collection of 10 one and two bedroom pavilions to choose from. Complementing the clean lines and natural material palette of Amangiri’s suites, the generously proportioned pavilions each have indoor living and dining areas, as well oversized terraces with fire pits and heated plunge pools.
For the ultimate luxury experience, there’s also the Mesa Home. Designed to compliment the rugged beauty of the Grand Circle Region, the four bedroom home is surrounded by undeveloped land and a 50 foot infinity pool.
Amangiri offer sustainable, seasonal menus inspired by culinary heritage of the Navajo and the American southwest served both indoors and alfresco.
Adventures and once in a life-time experiences are also at the heart of Amangiri. Within easy reach of some of North America’s most magnificent, protected areas that include the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion National Park and Monument Valley Tribal Park, home of the Navajo nation. Activities include hiking, climbing, exploring the plateau on horseback, hot-air ballooning, exploring the slot canyons and much more. We have barely scratched the surface on Amangiri, to find out more for yourself click here.
3. NGALA TREEHOUSE – KRUGER NATIONAL PARK
The Ngala Treehouse is the ultimate romantic African experience. A luxurious, remote but safe retreat in the middle of a reserve it’s perfect for those looking to enjoy nature, turn off the WIFI and discover a blanket of stars far from artificial light.
The four level treehouse is cocooned in natural bush surroundings with two sleep areas. Level three is covered and waterproof with a king-sized bed and level four offers a sleep-out platform under a retractable awning – what better way to fall asleep than listening to the surrounding noises of wildlife. Here you can enjoy a starlit picnic or a magnificent sunset with drinks and snack or two. The treehouse is full of home comforts including a stocked bar and a selection of midnight and breakfast snacks.
Completely off the grid, Ngala treehouse combines comfort and wilderness in a way we’ve not seen before. The Ngala reserve shares unfenced borders with Kruger National Park, home to the big five and many more species of large mammals. The name Ngala means lion and it lives up to its namesake supporting several large prides.
As a guest at Ngala you can enjoy the exclusivity of day and night drives within a 36,000 acre area as well as interpretive bush walks. If one night in the wilderness isn’t enough however, you can also enjoy a night in the Ngala safari lodge and Ngala tented camp. To find out more information, see more incredible imagery or book your trip, click here.
4. LOPUD 1483
Just seven miles from the city of Dubrovnik is Lopud 1483, a magnificent 15th century monastery that has been meticulously restored over the last twenty years. Located on the Northern tip of Lopud, Dubrovnik, Lopud 1483 was once a Franciscan monastery that has been overlooking the island for centuries. Lovingly restored by Francesca Thyssen-Bornemisza and her family, this exclusive property is a living art gallery and houses a bespoke selection of one of the world’s great private art collections.
The 13 original cells of the 5,000 square metre monastery has been transformed into five exquisite suites, with wooden ceilings, windows and floors and views that look out onto the sea or medicinal garden. Featuring a combination of renaissance furniture from the Thyssen-Bornemisza collection as well as bespoke new pieces by Italian designer Paola Lenti and contemporary art from the TBA21 collection.
Meals here are an intimate experience and can be enjoyed outside or in the old kitchen. Cocktails can be sipped with a canapé on the sunset terrace offering exceptional views of the Lopud and Elaphiti Islands from atop the fortress. To help you unwind locally inspired spa treatments, alchemy bars, in-house meditation experts and visiting practitioners can be arranged upon request. This undiscovered island sanctuary has been designed as a place where history, art and botanical exploration ignite the senses. The property is also home to a Sacred Garden, complete with nine stations designed for meditation and contemplation, a traditional Franciscan Pharmacy.
Available to guests on a three-day minimal stay, the property is the perfect balance between contemporary and authentic history. During 2020-2022 the venue is available for rentals, retreats, special events and even conferences. To make a reservation or to find out more about Lopud 1483 click here.
5. ELAFONISI VILLAS, CRETE
The ultimate hideaway experience, Elafonisi Villas are located on the blissfully unspoiled southern coast of western Crete that’s unexploited by hotel chains and tourist groups. Nestled in the most untamed and virgin part of the island, literally located away from it all, all seven villas will captivate and enthral you.
The villas at Elafonisi overlook a landscape that’s almost completely untouched. It’s easy to imagine stepping back in time to classical Greece where land is seldom unspoilt, the seas clearer and life much simpler with talks of gods and hospitality at the centre of everything. Today, Elafonisi strives to create the same ethos, with a calm, gently does it environment surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings of the southern coast of western Crete for a fulfilling stay away from it all.
Elafonisi offers no less than eight family run villas to choose from. San Matteo as an example is a four (master) bedroom property with a fully equipped kitchen, open plan living space and covers an area 240sqm in total. Outdoors you can lounge on one of the comfortable sofas with a book, enjoy a good dose of vitamin D on the sun loungers, cool off with a mid-day swim in the pool, cook up a storm on the barbecue and if things cool down a little in the evening, warm up by the outdoor fireplace with a glass of wine.
During your stay in a villa you can take full advantage of breakfast delivered to your door daily, housekeeping three times a week, welcome treats upon arrival, meals provided upon request among many other amazing amenities which you can see here. If you prefer to do a little more than relax by the pool, there’s a number of activities to choose from including: massage therapy at your own villa, private transportation in the form of a chauffeured coach to places such as the nearby historic city of Chania. Fun fact: Built upon the ruins of ancient Kydonia, the harbour here was used in roughly 3,000-2,800 bc by ancient Minoans as a crossroad for all five continents.
Why stay on land though when you can book a private boat trip to Balos and Gramvousa, enjoy some of the most famous beaches in the world at the comfort of your own boat. You can also hire bikes, snorkel in the clear blue waters, a spot of fishing or a yoga class creating internal balance whilst surrounded by stunning natural surroundings. To find out more or to book your next trip click here.
6. HOTEL ST. GEORGE, HELSINKI
Finland’s southern capital, Helsinki is known for its diverse architecture, world-famous design and incredible Nordic cuisine. Compact enough to explore on foot, it’s the perfect city break to lift the spirits. But where do you stay? A full-service hotel with holistic care in mind, Hotel St. George is a luxury hotel in the city centre offering a cool, calm refuge after a day of exploring.
Awarded hotel of the year 2019, this magnificent 10,000 square metre hotel is spread across seven floors, in the heart of Helsinki. 148 individually decorated rooms and five suites offer moments of rest and tranquillity when needed. One thing that really sets Hotel St. George apart from other hotels is the unique works of art that can be enjoyed throughout. The first example of this that you will encounter is a tremendous white dragon in the lobby sculpted by internationally renowned artist Ai Weiwei – an impressive welcome to the world of Hotel St. George.
Cool, clean and creative food is at the heart of Finland’s culture and Hotel St. George embraces this wholeheartedly. The hotel has its own bakery where locals and hotel guests alike can have a quick breakfast or grab and go snack before a big day exploring. Wintergarden bar has its own menu with intense and complex tastes – the perfect place to relax. Enjoy an afternoon tea, and artisan cocktail or two and delicious seasonal bowls. There’s also a Thai inspired restaurant and wine tasting to enjoy too!
To discover more about Hotel St. George, book your stay or learn more about Helsinki visit the website here.
7. BELMOND CAP JULUCA
The ultimate barefoot escape from the stress and burden of everyday life, Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla takes relaxation to the next level. A Caribbean island oasis, this dream-like paradise escape is where slow living meets high-style.
Each room and suite offers ocean views with private terraces, other suites offer a fresh water swimming pool and the pièce de resistance are the private pool villas which also offers fresh water pools and 4,000-5,540 ft of space to enjoy.
Cap Juluca boasts some of the finest restaurants in Anguilla. Pimms is a local institution and perfect for romantic meals, the space is open-aired and set by the waterside. Here you’ll be greeted with elevated Anguillan cuisine, Caribbean classics and international specialties using the very best local ingredients and fresh catches. Cip’s by Cipriani is a little slice of Venetian glamour offering a menu rich with comfort food in an open, al fresco setting. Dine on fresh produce, antipasti, salads, pastas and the famous Cipriani Carpaccio.
To wash down your exquisite meal (or perhaps a pre-dinner drink) the Cap Shack serves casual beachside drinks and beach barbecue from a vintage food truck whilst calypso and reggae music plays in the background. For creative cocktails and colourful mocktails Maundays club is where we’d choose to sit, snack on Peruvian cuisine and chat all evening under the stars.
As well as relaxing in the sun, swimming in the sea to your heart’s content and enjoying a spa treatment or two, there’s a perfect pick of Caribbean pursuits to enjoy. The usual activities such as snorkelling with stunning rainbow-hued coral and marine life and canoeing are of course available, you can also sail to Prickly pear island. A chain of uninhabited islands with rich coral reefs and lush vegetation. Learn to scuba dive or windsurf, join an early bird nature walk, play a round of golf and much more. If you are ready for an island escape click here to find out more.
8. LES SOURCES DE CHEVERNY – FRANCE
A preserved estate steeped in history that will transport you to another world of calm, quiet luxury. Nestled between Chambord and Chenonceau, is Les Sources de Cheverny, a place where time seems to stand still and the surroundings are of lush green forests.
Each of the 49 rooms and suites pay tribute to the heritage sites of the region, each decorated in its own unique way. All rooms are cosy and offer views of the surrounding forest, suites are available in both the Château or a cabin with a touch of Scandinavian inspiration. All suites offer more space with the benefit of a living area. Or for an extra special experience, Le Baron Perché is an iconic wooden suite that stands on stilts overlooking the lake. Overlooking the whole estate, this space is furnished beautifully to help make your stay one you’ll never forget.
Les Sources de Cheverny are guided by a simple mantra: reduce, recycle and reuse…’To ensure the beauty of our natural environment is protected and to make sure we act in a meaningful and logical way, we adopt an ethical approach, and ensure all living organisms are respected. In each room, you can quench your thirst with our very own pure and filtered mineral water, served in a glass bottle that is immediately sterilised after each use. In the bathroom, our shower products are provided in packaging made from corn plastic that is completely recycled and recyclable. Our guests also contribute to protecting the environment by only moving around the area by bicycle, or by not asking to have their towels changed daily’. – Les Sources de Cheverny
Les Sources de Cheverny is also dedicated to using local, seasonal ingredients endeavouring to use only the freshest ingredients to create dishes that are both vibrant and full of joy for guests. The wine bar much like everything else at Les Sources de Cheverny is exquisite. Located in the estate’s old wine storehouse, the space is a multifaceted space for dining, drinking and wine tasting creating a sensory experience and sharing their passion for wine.
There’s so much more to this incredible retreat that’s worth exploring, to find our more or to book your stay click here.
9. ZANNIER HOTELS – BAI SAN HO, VIETNAM
Located on a secluded peninsula in Phu Yen, Vietnam, Zannier Hotels Bãi San Hô is surrounded by 98 hectares of spectacular hills and lush vegetation. Opening in late December 2020, the luxury resort lies far away from mainstream tourist hotels and paths, blending into its natural surroundings.
Composed of 71 suites and villas, in three styles, each almost appearing to disappear into the natural background. The rooms are furnished beautifully creating a luxurious and naturalistic environment that truly takes you away from the hustle and bustle of city and town life. Three restaurants and two bars that provide different atmospheres, you have plenty of choice. At Bãi San Hô food is all about yin and yan, sweet and salty, cooling and warming, aiming to serve fresh, varied, healthy food serving respectively with international, Vietnamese and seafood cuisine available.
Due to the idyllic location, you can partake in a variety of beach and water activities from a simple rejuvenating swim, to snorkelling, fishing, surfing, water skiing or canoeing. If indoor fitness is more your thing you can also take full advantage of the fitness room open 24/7, a yoga studio and two tennis courts are available for individual and group lessons. If sports and fitness are at the bottom of your priority list with relaxation at the top, there’s an outstanding spa area which includes seven treatment rooms, a relaxation zone, a hammam, sauna and panoramic infinity pool.
As well as a plethora of things to keep you busy (or not if you prefer) at the resort, there’s also a whole host of cultural experiences to discover such as a tour of the Cham ruins, visit nearby fisherman villages, nearby temples, attend a Vietnamese cooking class, experience a sunrise hilltop breakfast, private rice paddy dinner or a beach BBQ – sound amazing right? There’s so much more to discover at Zannier Bãi San Hô, visit the website here to find out more.
Images: FORESTIS, Courtesy of Aman, andBeyond, Dario Odak / Lopud 1483, George Anastasakis, Hotel St. George, Belmond Cap Juluca, Marie-Pierre Morel, Zannier Hotels