With a new year just beginning, surely one of your resolutions will be to try something a bit different on your travels in 2015? Maybe it’s as simple as snatching that first weekend away from the children, just the two of you? Or trying an alternative ski resort (here’s one)? Or just turning left out of Faro airport instead of right on your annual trip to the Algarve (here’s what you could find)? Whatever your travel resolutions, I always find it’s better to plan things well in advance to ensure you get what you want, when you want. Plus planning holidays is the perfect antidote to the January blues!
Here are a few travel related things I’m looking forward to in 2015 which might inspire you:
SIX WEEKS IN SOUTH AMERICA - NOT ME UNFORTUNATELY!
One client and his wife are embarking on an amazing 6 week trip exploring the best of South America and I am looking forward to following their progress. From Chile’s mysterious Easter Island to the lunar landscapes of the Atacama Desert, the driest on Earth. Overland through the high Andes to Salta in northern Argentina, a vast territory with dazzling paint-box colours and arid canyon landscapes. Sampling the wondrous wine region in magical Mendoza and then being seduced by Tango in sultry Buenos Aires. Next Iguazú Falls, where lush jungle gives way to 276 separate cascades that thunder over a granite precipice. The trip ends in Brazil with the charming town of Paraty, its cobbled streets lined with beautifully preserved whitewashed colonial houses, and then buzzy Rio de Janeiro with the iconic sights of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf mountain and a once in a lifetime experience of Carnival time.
What, no Peru? My clients are travelling in late January and February, which are the wettest months in Peru; often the roads up to Machu Picchu are washed away and if access is viable the low level clouds are likely to shroud the amazing ruins. Combining Peru with the Galápagos Islands will make a perfect separate trip at a different time of year.
RECOMMENDING YOU VISIT THE MOROCCAN TOWN OF ESSAOUIRA SOON
I love Marrakech but unfortunately it’s getting very touristy these days with the influx of cheap airlines. For a less touristy experience I recommend the coastal town of Essaouira, just 3½ hours by road from Marrakech. Pronounced ‘Ess-ow-ear-a’, the walled medina with its ramparts and labyrinth of dusty alleyways is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here much of the 18th century flavour still remains whilst seagulls swoop over crumbling blue shuttered white washed houses. Then a few steps away there’s a glorious wide sandy beach that stretches as far as the eye can see. The vibe here is laid back: maybe it’s the sea air that does it or maybe it’s because regular visitors in the 60’s included Jimi Hendrix and the Rolling Stones? Currently there are no direct flights from the UK, but things are about to change with Easyjet starting direct flights from London in May, so go soon to enjoy Essaouira’s charms without the crowds.
MY FIRST CLIENTS TO STAY AT THE NEWLY REVAMPED HOTEL DES DROMONTS, AVORIAZ
At last there is now somewhere decent to stay in Avoriaz the snow sure sister to Morzine. Yes, it’s easy to access the ski area from Morzine but, staying in Avoriaz will be so much more convenient, especially if you’re on a short break, like my clients who will be staying there this month. The quirky exterior of the Des Dromonts is in keeping with the distinct style of the resort, where all the buildings are covered in cedar tiles, whilst inside the hotel retains its vintage style with the design revolving around the original 1960s fireplace and lots of groovy fabrics. www.hoteldesdromonts.com
MAYBE CHECKING INTO THE SANCHAYA ON BINTAN ISLAND?
Plans are afoot to visit our dear friends in Singapore. It would be perfect to combine this classic city stopover with some chill out time at the Sanchaya on Bintan Island, a mere 55 minute ferry ride from Singapore. The hideaway has only just opened but looks wonderful with 30 luxurious private villas and suites dotted around the estate and in the colonial-style Great House. Inside the design is very much elegant Asian and pared down chic. Top this with a spa and private beach it would certainly satisfy me for a few days. www.thesanchaya.com
BIG DECISIONS - THE SALAR DE UYUNI SALT FLATS VERSUS THE GOBI DESERT
Each year Julian and I have one big and special trip. Last year saw us trekking in the Himalayas (read about it here). This year we’re torn between Bolivia - where we’d like to experience the solitude of the Salar de Uyuni salt flats in our own Airstream campervan - and Mongolia, which is probably one of the world’s last great adventure destinations, and where we’d trek the Gobi Desert, encounter nomadic families, sleep in traditional Gers and glimpse into the lives of Kazakh hunters. You will have to wait until later in the year to find out what we decide.