Travel

The Calima

As the Saharan winds whip up a dehydrating frenzy, the Calima blocks out the sunrise across the ocean to the east. That’s right, I’m in Tenerife doing my best Attenborough. British holidaymaker staple since the 1940s, banana plantation extraordinaire and proud to boast of 362 days of sunshine a year. Don’t be fooled by the fruit machines in the airport or the football-shirt-wearing Luddites on the promenade though, there is something changing in the night sky. I landed on the island on a humid Thursday afternoon in July. For some ungodly reason, I had chosen to travel out in the first week of the school holidays, so the airport was a seething…

Alphonse Island

I remember packing an old suitcase when I was about seven years old. My petulant and all too precocious nature had boiled over and my mother had offered to help me pack my luggage so I could move out. A napkin on a stick over my shoulder? No, no, no, I was far beyond my years for a traditional, Enid Blyton escape. I packed my leather suitcase and satchel, red-faced and mildly enraged, adding all my Ladybird books as a pseudo-guide to life. I had told my mother that I wished to live with my grandparents. This was on the basis that they were willing to buy me all the…

Passavant & Lee

Jon Passavant and Benj Lee are hardly strangers to the layer cake of the fashion industry. This duo have fronted campaigns for Dunhill, Armani, Ralph Lauren and Levi’s to name a mere handful. Whilst on set in New York the two models met having spotted each other at the usual castings and calls and after three years of product development launched accessories brand, Passavant & Lee. Some years ago, we remember being huddled in the office around a No 25. Attache. It was arguable one of the most beautiful briefcases we had ever seen. The outer shell is crafted from aircraft grade aluminium and covered in a full-grain Horween leather finish, while…

Sensational Soneva – The Maldives

To date, the magic of The Maldives has eluded me regardless of the regular encounters I have with euphoric ambassadors who are willing to preach its virtues the world over. As someone who likes to think they have a strong eco warrior side, I have perhaps a rather misguided ideal that if I avoid these precious islands, I will protect them from the ravages of tourism. The very essence of The Maldives, their purity, rarity and fragility is what has kept me away. In hindsight I have acted as a latter-day conscientious travel objector, I have withstood the pressure to visit in my rather grandiose desire to single-handily protect these…

Diyabubla, Dambulla, Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is a well-established destination, with inspiring experiences like national parks, venerated temples, tea plantations and rose-gold beaches. But as a short trip, this was more about the quality not quantity, a focus on achieving an authentic starter-pack sense of the people and the place. So we stripped the itinerary right back to focus on just three things. First, to visit some of the iconic Buddhist temples and start to understand this powerful faith and its influence on three quarters of the population, Second, to see the natural and diverse beauty of Sri Lankan beauty (despite its relatively small size Sri Lanka in fact is in the works top five hot…

Dryhill Farm

The Cotswolds. An area of south-central England renowned for its ability to attract American holidaymakers who are looking for ‘traditional’ England. Little do they know that ‘traditional’ England is a tourist attraction for the British too. I expect far too few of my countrymen will know the villages of Castle Combe or indeed Painswick. Small, limestone-filled, chocolate-box houses line the small cobbled streets, surrounded by roving hills and farm fields. Having lived in Bristol now for over six years, driving up to the Cotswolds for a flagon or nine with motoring editor Oliver Smith has become a regular occurrence. This perhaps may have desensitised me to the outstanding natural beauty…

Heritage Le Telfair, Mauritius

With so many extraordinary places still on the bucket list, my general rule is never to return to a destination. But for every rule, there’s always an exception. And for me, the exception is Mauritius. As Mark Twain said, “Mauritius was made first, and then heaven was copied after Mauritius.” 20 years on, and I thought it my duty to check that heaven is still in great shape. Situated in the Indian Ocean and part of the Mascarene islands, Mauritius (once a haunt for pirates) is a magnet for the world’s most luxurious hotel brands and experiences. A manageable 12-hour flight and a wonderful year round temperate climate, it’s an…

Waterberg Safari – South Africa

It’s hard to remember back to a time before internet bookings, TripAdvisor, budget carriers or even think of an era when holidays meant just that. A time when you truly took a break from your normal life apart from the odd call or fax. After three decades of being in the travel business I totally applaud the fact that access to our beautiful world is easier, more accessible and more streamline.  We have witnessed amazing changes thanks to the merging of the digital and travel landscapes also allowing us to stay connected where ever we go in the world. But and there is one big but… after the initial euphoria of this gift of…

Postcards From The French Riviera

The glittering coastline of the Côte d’Azur is a region of legend. Famous painters and writers mingled with aristocrats and royalty during winter séjours, the fierce Mistral wind whirls in secluded coves and perched villages with pretty fountains nestled into hillsides, often sprawling with fragrant citrus groves or twisted olive trees. The French Riviera is a destination where tranquil islands turn their back on mass commercialism, where you can find souvenir shops beside haute couture boutiques in Old Town streets and slow travel finds its place on Earth. If you’re looking to recreate your own joie de vivre, here are ‘10 Reasons To Start Your Luxury Journey On The French…

Corvara – Dolomites

As the temperature plummets and the frost sits longer, I often stare out my window in the morning, coffee in hand, and think about all the times I’ve woken up surrounded by freshly fallen snow in Alpine escapes. Winter is a calling for some of us; a return to the pistes of Europe and beyond; a time to get back to nature, to reconnect with the mountains in a way only those who chase the snow will understand. I still have many things to tick off on my alpine bucket list – the Cresta Run, Japanese powder, and the unbound wilds of Canada – but one trip remains at the…

Montreux Jazz Festival

What would Johnny Hodges think of the Montreux Jazz Festival? Born in 1906, Johnny Hodges’s became the most famous featured soloist in Duke Ellington’s orchestra for over 40 years. Renowned for the beauty of his tone and his mastery of ballads, Hodges was among the most influential saxophone players in the history of jazz. He also had a penchant for detail, commissioning some of the worlds most elegantly detailed, bespoke saxophones in the world.

Barton Farm – Luxury Cotswold Rentals

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or have just emerged from the Burmese jungle, the beauty of the Cotswolds probably isn’t lost on you. You’ll have been briefed on its sleepy pubs and honeycomb-coloured grand piles, so you won’t need my all-encompassing sales pitch to convince you of its restorative charm. In my experience, though, one does need a good sherpa of sorts: a wise man to guide you through the alpaca fields and the orchards to the decent pubs and eateries. With little time left in the diary late last year, and my significant other spending Christmas with her family overseas, it was the last chance we would…

Casa Munich, Ibiza

There are few places in the world that I have resisted going to, even with my insatiable travel appetite. One of those places, I’m embarrassed to admit, is Ibiza. Yes, I know the Ibiza groupies will be shaking in their itsy-bitsy-teeny-weeny beachwear. But the all-night rave culture, combined with its rebellious Peter Pan spirit has not drawn me into the annual pilgrimage of beautiful people, who religiously pay homage to the White Isle’s shrine of eternal youth. I can party with the best of them, and who doesn’t love a bit of sparkle, glitz and glamour, but its reputation as the frenetic clubbing capital of the world and the most…

JW Marriott Venice

One of the challenges of our era is to find a balance of using precious downtime to travel and discover new places whilst recharging for the frenetic pace of normal life. This is even more testing when it’s a city break but I might have found a balance amongst the digital haze. I love Venice, but if there is one quibble with this magnificent city, it’s that its popularity combined with its architectural nature can make the overall experience feel quite intense, compact and busy. The recently-opened JW Marriott Venice Resort and Spa is the perfect antidote to the hustle and bustle of this rich destination. A place that is far from…

Shangri-La, Paris

Having worked in marketing for many years, I take an interest in the branding of products and what the companies behind them choose as a name. It’s is often quite revealing, as to the intentions or perception that a company has for its product. You must also bear in mind that it sets a level of expectation for the consumer – so when a bold claim is made, they had better back it up. One such claim is naming your hotel group Shangri-La. Novelist John Hilton (no link) came up with the concept in his 1933 novel, Lost Horizon. It was described as a mythical place at the western-end of…

Lime Wood, New Forest

The idea of a sneaky few days away to a boutique country house hotel in the midst of Autumn with long walks, roaring fires, healthy food and the opportunity to be pampered at the same time is my idea of heaven. Add to this that it’s at Robin Hutson’s Lime Wood Hotel in the heart of the New Forest and I am taken to a different dimension altogether. Forgive me if I sound a bit like a Robin Hutson cheerleader, but quite frankly I am. For me Mr Hutson sits in the realm of hotelier aristocracy and if there is ever a lifelong achievement award as thanks from all of…

Evian Resort, France

The fascination of ‘taking the waters’ for health and well-being seems to be imprinted in the human condition. From the Turkish baths of the Ottoman Empire, and the great bathhouses of the Roman Empire, to the modern sophisticated spa, we have used water as part of many social, physical and spiritual rituals. Hot springs, cold springs, sulphur springs, sea water, river water, mountain water: this precious natural commodity has provided external and internal therapy for every generation and culture. To review Evian, the source of one of the world’s best-known mineral waters, and home to the renovated Evian Resort, I jumped on the short flight to Geneva, crossing over the…

Airbnb – Amsterdam

Many a revolutionary idea has been born out of Maslow’s hierarchy of need. In 2007, Joe Gebbia emailed his roommate, Brian Chesky with a quick scheme to make an easy buck. “I thought of a way to make a few bucks – turning our place into a “designers bed and breakfast”. If you don’t know the story of Silicon Valley’s newest member of the unicorn club then you really need to pick up a copy of the FT more often. Airbnb made waves, 100ft, see it from the beach and start running grade waves. I can’t really say I had any reservations about modern day sofa surfing, after all, the…

Ca Maria Adele, Venice

You only have to mention the word Venice and a wonderful tapestry of images fills your mind. This city offers an exquisite taste of historic grandeur, artistic wealth, drama, mystery and a large dash of romance. If Venice isn’t on your bucket list, it absolutely should be. Having travelled to Venice many times in my twenties, working with the Venice Simplon Orient Express, I thought I had ticked this particular box. But given the opportunity to visit again, I was keen to see how this magical place had evolved. Of course, the only real way to arrive in Venice is by private water taxi – a moment worth its price-tag….