Passion Points: Escape
These new hotels and resorts burst onto the Indagare radar in 2012, thanks to their incredible locations, design schemes and the vivid sense of place they offer.
The refined Aman hotel chain has brought its sleek, distinctly Asian aesthetic to such Western hemisphere destinations as Utah and the Turks and Caicos. Lately the brand has expanded its portfolio in Europe, with new properties in Greece and Turkey. Amanzo’e, located in the chic Porto Heli on the Peloponnese peninsula, consists of thirty-eight private residences, each with swimming pools and access to the beach club. Guests fly into Athens and then travel to the resort by car (a two-and-a-half-hour drive), boat or helicopter. Amanruya, in Bodrum, a one-hour flight from Istanbul, provides easy access to the hip beach scene (this area is Turkey’s St.-Tropez) but also offers quiet for a peaceful Mediterranean oasis vacation. Each pink stone villa is in its own enclave within an ancient olive grove and includes a pool and tiered outdoor seating areas. The nearby Classical ruins of Ephesus make for an excellent cultural day trip.
People cannot get enough of South America’s Patagonia mountain range—and for good reason. The region affords some of the world’s most spectacular views, exhilarating activities and cozy relaxation (few things are as warm as an alpaca wool blanket). The best lodges tend to be small, emphasizing staff-to-guest relationships and experiences with nature. So with the growing interest in this stunning area, special properties continue to crop up.
Within the Torres del Paine National Park is Tierra Patagonia (www.tierrapatagonia.com), an architecturally stunning lodge that treats the surrounding nature with reverence. The forty rooms all feature large picture windows and light wood furniture—inducing guests to use their rooms as a relaxation hub before and after exploring the spectacular land. Outside the national park but close enough for easy access, the Chilean-owned Singular is housed in a facility where meat was stored in the 19th century before being shipped to Europe. (thesingular.com) More than twenty guided expeditions are available—on sea, land, glaciers and mountains—and the hotel can arrange a breathtaking transfer by boat to the acclaimed Eolo property across the Argentine border.
For those returning home by way of Buenos Aires, a few days at the new Entre Cielos, in Mendoza, is a lovely way to ease back into civilization while sampling some of the regions finest wines. Guests can dine under the stars at the al fresco Beef Club & Wine House, which features an Asado grill beside the grape vines. (www.entrecielos.com)
An Island of Your Own
Members often ask where they can find a great beach at the end of a culture-heavy Southeast Asia trip. Thanks to two outstanding new properties, this question has just become easier to answer. Song Saa, which gets its name from the Khmer word for “sweetheart,” is located on a private island off the coast of Cambodia. A few days in an over-water villa can be a great option for adding a bit of romance to a history-laden visit to the country’s archaeological sites. Available activities include island and rainforest safaris, sea kayaking and treasure hunts for kids can also be organized. The resort operates helicopter transfers from Phnom Penh to the island. (songsaa.com)
Nihiwatu, in Indonesia, is the perfect spot for relaxed family bonding. A seamless indoor-outdoor flow encourages barefooted relaxation and provides a glimpse of true island living. Wrote an Indagare member after a stay: “We brought our seven- and ten-year-old children and had the best family vacation we have ever experienced.”
Nowhere are small, sophisticated, serene hotels more appreciated than in hot, exciting and chaotic cities. This is one of the reasons that Bangkok’s Siam made a splash when it opened this year with thirty-nine suites and villas. Frequent visitors to Bangkok who are looking for a quieter neighborhood adore the off-the-beaten path location. As traffic can be a problem in Bangkok, riverboat is the preferred mode of transportation. The style is cool Art Deco, with sleek black-and-white furnishings, high ceilings, private pools and personal butlers. The restaurant is in an old teak house rescued and transported to the property by Jim Thompson; even if you’re not staying here, a boat ride to the restaurant for a meal is fun and a great way to see the city. (www.thesiamhotel.com)
The port city of Cartagena, on Colombia’s Caribbean coast, is a popular warm-weather destination for travelers wishing to experience a South American city filled with colonial-era palaces and cathedrals and boasting a vibrant art scene. The Caribbean climate, easy access (JetBlue has recently started nonstop flights from New York City) and laid-back approach to days and nights have made Cartagena an emerging beloved holiday spot, especially for North and South Americans. Casa San Agustin’s thirty rooms are outfitted with Colombian-designed decorative objects, such as wrought-iron bed frames and bespoke light fixtures created by local craftsmen. Modern amenities include Frette linens, citrus-scented Ortigia bath products and Jacuzzis. Most rooms have views of the charming old city. (www.hotelcasasanagustin.com)
As connectivity has become faster and more crucial to our daily life, a travel trend has emerged: the chase to find hotels, resorts and destinations that allow travelers to unplug and reconnect in remote locales. The raw grandeur of the African bush and the purity of days that revolve around wildlife offer just that.
In Tanzania’s Lamai Triangle, Singita Mara River Tented Camp might be the most “off the grid” property in the Serengeti. Run completely on solar power, the property includes just six guest tents, all of which are perfectly located for viewing the wildebeest migrate across the river. Other game sightings can include crocodiles, hippos, big cats and elephants. The Cécile & Boyd’s interior design is contemporary, establishing a style that is both hip and at one with nature. (www.singita.com)
Those looking for a secluded beach vacation will be happy at Vamizi Island, off the coast of Mozambique. The emphasis here is on the sand, the sea and the creatures who live in the clear blue waters; the snorkeling and scuba diving in this area are world-renowned. (www.vamizi.com)
For pure romance, South Africa’s Lion Sands Treehouse is an isolated perch high above the ground, ideal for a stay for two under the stars. Guests can listen to the sounds of wildlife as they fall asleep—and awake with the sunrise. The property, located on the border of Kruger National Park, offers some of the best game viewing on bush walks, as well as on the camp’s property.
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