For the past few years I’ve attend an invitation only travel show in Marrakech. It’s where I go to keep up to date with new developments in the travel industry, to meet with some of the fabulous hotels and people I work with abroad and to discover some wonderful and noteworthy places.
Here are a handful of hotels and experiences that I was most excited about this year. Many are newly, or not yet, opened, whilst some are old favourites reinvented. But all are worthy of some day-dreaming!
Deplar Farm, Iceland
Despite been totally off the grid, Deplar Farm is amazingly easy to get and the closest place I know of to be able to Heli Ski from the top of a mountain to the ocean’s edge. Set in a converted sheep farm in Iceland’s northern Troll Peninsula, you will be blown away by the beauty of the place, which blends into the location and comes complete with a living roof. Inside it’s all pared back luxury with local woods, sheepskin and huge fires. But staying here is really about the customised experiences. Skiing can be done right through to June and there’s also hiking, fishing and fat bikes. Plus in winter, where best to hole up to watch the northern lights?
Shinta Mani Wild, Cambodia
Cambodia is one of my favourite countries so I rarely need an excuse to visit. But if I did, the soon to open Shinta Mani Wild would definitely have me packing my bags. I am so excited about this opening in a spectacular location, tucked into the wildlife corridor which runs between Bokor and Kirirom National Parks. Here famed architect and hotel designer, Bill Bensley, has waved his magic wand and created sixteen super stylish river fronted tents. It’s going to be all very “Jackie O meets Cambodian jungle safari” with days filled on wildlife expeditions and boat excursions and fun activities like zip lining. But it’s also a place with a purpose as Bensley outbid a logging company for the land and has teamed up with local government and conservation organisations to protect the area. So you can sleep soundly in your luxury tent knowing you are doing some good.
If you are into your outdoor activities then this smart new activity hotel could be for you. North of Porto and far away from Portugal’s main tourist areas, FeelViana Hotel is set on the Atlantic coast in a gorgeous pine forest and fronting wide swathes of beach. It offers everything from sailing and kitesurfing to cycling, biking and yoga. But what’s great is that all the guides, lessons and equipment are provided in house. The resort will arrange absolutely everything for you. You can even hire a boat to sail down the Duoro River. Whilst a visit to the nearby pretty town of Viana do Castelo is a must.
Grizzly Bear Ranch, Canada
Away from the crowds in a remote corner of the Selkirk Mountain, between Calgary and Vancouver, it’s all about the thrill of the search at Grizzly Bear Ranch. Hiking through the alpine to track grizzlies, following their poop and paw prints, until you happen across them in their natural habitat is a truly extraordinary experience. Black bears emerge from hibernation in spring (May and June), whilst you are more likely to see grizzlies if you wait until autumn, when they descend from the mountains to swish their paws through the rivers in search of spawning salmon. The Ranch is owned by Julius, an ex-war correspondent, and his wife Kristin who are passionate about protecting the bears so staying there means you become part of the conservation effort too.
Hud Hud Travels, Oman
Sleeping under the stars in a luxurious tent amidst sand dunes is surely one of those wish list things; a real Arabian fantasy. Luckily Hud Hud Travels can make it come true setting up hand-made Bedouin tents in a remote location in the Omani desert. The tents are beautiful and come with comfy beds, crisp bedding and hot showers. There’s dining under the stars, visits to local villages, off road driving, sand boarding and sundowners in the dunes. But don’t think you are going to have to share this experience with anyone else. The joy of Hud Hud is that everything is private and totally bespoke to you and your family.
Domains de Murtoli, Corsica
Tucked away on the rugged South West coast of Corsica, Domains de Murtoli is a dreamy estate and working farm set in a huge expanse of protected Wilderness covering mountains, forest, farmland and idyllic beaches. The area is dotted with 19 properties from pretty shepherd’s cottages for two to huge stone houses for larger parties. All have rustic chic interiors and private pools. Breakfast is delivered and for other meals, if you don’t fancy helping yourself to the produce from the garden, groceries can be delivered or a chef arranged. There are also two excellent restaurants on the estate. Days can be spent on the beach, hiking, horse riding, fishing or just sitting back and enjoying the scenery. This is a place away from the crowds to truly relax and spend quality time with family and friends.
Jalakara, Andaman Islands, India
Jalakara is the place for the free spirited amongst us who love the sense of adventure when travelling, but with all the luxury trimmings. Getting there is half the fun with a budget airline flight from mainland India and then a ferry boat. But once there it’s all barefoot and boutique with just seven rooms, each of which is completely different but totally swoon worthy. There’s an infinity pool with a lively pool scene, a little Asian dining pavilion and wellness treatments. This is a pocket sized tropical paradise perfect for chilling out and totally switching off.
If you are interested in more information on the above or would like some further inspiration for your next holiday, please do get in touch.