Just in time for travel for the new season ahead – here’s how we’ll all be travelling…
HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS
There’s no doubt that Airbnb – the vast home rental site – can be credited for turning the concept of housesitting on its head. What was once considered a tad suspect is now not only an entirely acceptable way to see a place but also one of the hippest. But taking the home-from-home idea one step further is a new kid on the block.
Onefinestay has taken the ‘unhotel’ mantle and ramped up the luxe factor with a sharply edited collection of properties in London, Los Angeles, New York and Paris. Set to expand to other cities any day now, you can expect to find characterful, high-end homes – think art-filled lofts in Tribeca and all-white, elegant apartments in Montparnasse. Most of which wouldn’t look out of place in the pages of Architectural Digest. Factor in the maid service, fine linens, luxury toiletries and a pre-loaded iPhone with insider tips and we think you’ll live like a local so well that you’ll not want to return home (Onefinestay.com, rentals from £150 per night.)
Those who love the thought of the great outdoors, but know only too well the pitfalls of sleeping under canvas, should book one of the new rural lodges pitching up across Europe. Cabins, such as Tiny Wooden House based on a working farm in Warwickshire (from £125 per night, pitchup.com), offer the benefits of a pretty rural location, modern luxuries, such as a hot tub, and quaint interiors (not to mention four solid walls and a roof).
Glamping pioneers Canopy & Stars also offer a range of wooden lodges across the UK and France, such as the romantic The Arc, on the River Nene in Cambridgeshire (from £90 per night, canopyandstars.co.uk) and the family-friendly The Woodland Retreat in Devon (from £80 per night). Rebecca Whewell, the company’s experience manager, agrees it’s a trend on the rise: “Lodges and cabins have the outdoorsy appeal of camping and many come with woodburners, so they can be booked all year round. Perfect for getting back to basics.”
Meanwhile, don’t be put off by Canvas Holidays’ name – it, too, is expanding its offering with new, timber Moda homes in Italy. Found on the banks of Lake Garda as well as in Verona and Venice (from £299 for seven nights, canvasholidays.co.uk). It’s camping in style.
The all-inclusive resort is having a moment with an increasing number of credible brands offering luxury surroundings, exceptional culinary offerings and personalised service. Turkey is at the forefront. Take Letoonia Resorts, for instance. It has just invested €15m to renovate both its all-inclusive properties in Belek and Fethiye and is upping the ante with design-savvy interiors, secluded, stylish bungalows and stunning vistas (from £980 for seven nights, based on two adults sharing, letooniaresorts.com).
Club Med Palmiye (clubmed.co.uk), meanwhile, is the perfect choice for activity fiends with a huge choice of sports – such as wakeboarding and even flying trapeze – included in the overall price.
Meanwhile, Fusion Maia Da Nang in Vietnam has taken the concept one step further. Their innovative ‘all-spa inclusive’ philosophy includes at least two spa treatments a day in the rate (from £257 per night, based on two sharing, maiadanang.fusion-resorts.com). What’s more, there’s not a plastic wristband in sight.
EXPERIENCE IS EVERYTHING
Looking for more than a room with a view? Then try one of the new travel experiences that take you behind the scenes and to the heart of a destination. Four Seasons Extraordinary Experiences programme offers immersive, hands-on itineraries unique to the hotel’s location. From spending the day in the life of a farmer in Bali to experiencing a private opera party in Budapest, the idea is to give guests a different – and often top-end – perspective on their chosen destination (fourseasons.com).
Leading Culture Destinations believes that unique cultural experience is the new luxury. Their new super-luxe packages may not be to everyone’s budget (they start at £10,000 for a group of 12) but they have been put together by noted tastemakers and include private access to the Inhotim Centre for Contemporary Art in Brazil and a week-long road trip from LA to Marfa with a leading photographer (leadingculturedestinations.com).
Paris-based Ooh La La Vintage, meanwhile, can take you back in time with retro weekends in the city of lights. Vintage lovers can tailor-make their own itinerary, with vintage clothing masterclasses, shopping trips, Citroen 2CV car tours and cabaret nights to choose from (from €50 per person for three hours, oohlalavintage.com).
The latest spa resorts are taking an all-immersive approach to the traditional, gentle wellness holiday to give guests second-to-none results. The new Savoy Resort & Spa in the Seychelles offers targeted slimming treatments and 13 different massages for a new streamlined body (from £485 per night, savoy.sc), while Mauritius-based Shanti Maurice’s Renewed You programme blends physical workouts with spiritual focus over seven nights (from £1,270, shantimaurice.com).
You can flex with the best at the Mandarin Oriental in Paris, which has just launched a new Oriental Wellness Programme that includes lessons in Hatha, Ashtanga Vinyasa and Lyengar yoga (€430 per person, package only, mandarinoriental.com).
And sign up for expert healer Vivien Kay’s full-on five-night inch-loss detox at Simply Healing in Sussex (every beauty editors’ go-to retreat) and you’ll discover a new you (from £1,710 for five nights, simplyhealingcentre.com).
Perfect for those wishing for greater flexibility and a touch more privacy than many hotels can offer are the new crop of stylish villas and apartments hidden away within the grounds of swish resorts. Offering the best of both worlds – your own space and the use of top-end amenities – we’re lusting after the contemporary apartments and villas at PGA Catalunya Resort in Spain (from £799 for seven nights, pgacatalunya.com).
Meanwhile, at the Regent Porto Montenegro Hotel, which overlooks a super-yacht marina, a range of private residences offers guests their own concierge, pools, catering and access to sports facilities (from €150 per night, portomontenegro.com).
While ideal for families, the idea is also fitting for couples who want to get away from it all but be looked after at the same time. Check out the windswept romance that is The Forte villa found at The Oitavos hotel in Portugal. With its breathtaking setting of natural pines and sand dunes, overlooking the Atlantic coast, the intimate retreat (it has just one bedroom) offers its own pool, sun-deck, state-of-the-art interiors and personal butler. That’s our kind of self-catering (from €1,500 per night, theoitavos.com/forte).