My summer of lolling about on hammocks, walking along abandoned Adriatic beaches and sipping cooling cocktails seems a lifetime ago as I sit in my London office watching the icy rain batter the window. Exploring the ancient marble ruins of the Temple of Demeter high up in the mountains of Naxos ignited a usually dormant interest in Greek history before winding down the cliff-top roads to the sandy shores of Plaka Beach, and our hotel, Naxian on the Beach, a cluster of ten pleasantly bohemian suites and lively beach-front bar playing chilled house beats. We tucked in to fresh lobster and brown quinoa whilst supping pale pink rosé, whizzed over from nearby Tinos. A last minute dinner reservation at Barozzi, the main town’s hottest new launch this year, proved both indulgent and enlightening. Head chef Michael Merzenis has devised revved up modern Greek-Italian specialities such as marinated anchovies on cuttlefish ink rice crackers, and vine leaves stuffed with cod and herbs infused with prawn and lemon zest bisque. Magnificent.
In peak season (eek!), I jetted in to test drive the new Nobu Hotel Ibiza Bay on the island’s south coast. This 152-room-and-suite family retreat, which has a strictly adults-only section and pool, features jaw-dropping views south across the Med. Indeed, Nobu’s most experienced teams from Malibu and Miami have jetted in to oversee the launch and offer support. Sleek new hangout Rehab is next door, whilst some of the best fish on the island is wolfed down at Fish Shack, an uber-relaxed café-hut, a short stroll away. Nobu hotel’s design aesthetic is elegant and bright. Out by the main pool, cream cushions sit proudly on smart wooden daybeds, large cotton drapes billow in the gentle breeze. Four restaurants include an outpost of Japanese favourite Nobu; Chambao, a chiringuito, or “beach shack”, serving authentic Spanish tapas and larger plates; Peyotito, a modern Mexican café using authentic, seasonal Spanish ingredients; and a gluten-free café, Celicioso. Not that we spent an awful lot of time in it, but our 1,200 sq-m Junior suite, equipped with private rooftop and dining area, was plenty enough to reassure us one of our members and his family were in for a luxurious and well-pampered holiday during their September visit.
A splendidly action-packed 4 days in Paris last week has reignited my love for this wondrous mecca. A whistle stop city tour squeezed in the back of a charming and surprisingly comfortable 1983 Citroen 2CV saw us hurtling around the cobbled streets of St Germain des Prés and Le Marais in an attempt to scratch beneath the city’s cultural surface. A few art gallery stops later we seamlessly checked in to our suite at the extraordinarily beautiful Le Meurice.
Reassuringly Parisian, the hotel is everything one might wish for in a ‘grand palais’ - immaculate classical accommodation has been reinterpreted by designer Charles Jouffre; think pared-back shades of cream, yellow and blue, impressive proportions and exquisitely made beds. The hotel’s prominent south-facing position on Rue de Rivoli looks across the splendid Jardin des Tuileries and the light-filled Le Dalí brasserie, with clever interior direction from the infamous Philippe Starck, provides a splendid spot to enjoy a delicate French patisserie. A glimpse at the hotel’s newly revamped Pompadour suite left me gawping. This place has got some serious cool factor.
Impossibly slick South American outfit, Awasi - the unsurpassed leaders in tailored adventure - is unveiling a third property this month, in Argentina’s Iguazú Falls, adding to its ever-popular two sites in Chile. Fourteen elegantly minimal wooden villas, being built on stilts, are taking shape just 15 minutes from the world’s largest waterfalls. As one would naturally expect from Awasi, each villa will boast a private pool, outdoor shower and ample living space – not to mention a single guide and 4WD assigned to every villa, meaning explorations and tours can be arranged on the spot, avoiding the usual necessity of booking in advance. The group’s relentless attention to detail will undoubtedly ensure a top notch dining experience for those seeking unadulterated gastronomic immersion.
My latest obsession is a little-known, newly unveiled private residence in Western Kenya. So private, in fact, that I am under strict instructions not to mention its name. A reliable source has just returned from here, a sort of sleek bohemian retreat that sits part-nestled between the warm earth and dense forest in the impressive Borana-Lewa Conservancy. The architectural ethos, although simple and unfussy, evokes an era of grand Ethiopian churches with cavernous, light-filled spaces and gnarled stonewalls. By all means, kick back in your very own hammam after a gruelling day’s game watching but, beware - watch out for the numerous elephants, leopards and cheetah, among other enchanting species, that roam freely through the 90,000 acre reserve.
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