September was a month of great excitement and exploration, not only did I start the month with an engagement, but I had the privilege of exploring some wonderful destinations in both Europe and North Africa. Some of this however was in fact work, in the form of a fantastic Travel conference that takes places every September in Marrakech. I have given you a run through of my experiences below, including some exciting new hotel openings taking place over the next year….
Still an area widely unknown to many of our own contemporaries (my own father thought it was in America!), but this only adds to it’s charm and intrigue. Covering a vast swathe of Northern Romania and surrounded by the Carpathian mountains, this enchanting region really does give visitors the feeling that time has stood still for centuries.
Not only is the countryside incredibly beautiful, with wide open plains giving way to steep forested hillsides, but the villages and towns are also enchanting. Steeped in history with the area having been home to both Saxons, ethnic Hungarians and Romanians, this lends itself to a treasure trove of historical buildings, churches and castles – not forgetting of course the famous Bran castle, mythical home to Bram Stoker’s Dracula!
We spent an adventurous long weekend exploring these wonderful villages by motorbike; stopping along the way to nose into some ancient squares, overtaking many a horse and cart which are still the mode of transport for many rural families, tasting some schnitzel and pork soups, striding up hillsides and of course driving the famous Transfagarasan pass (voted quite rightly by Top Gear as one of the best mountain roads to drive in the world). However this area is not just for the speed seekers; with such a stunning array of historical buildings and countryside to explore I would absolutely recommend it to all ages and interests, even for a family holiday with a difference!
Accommodation here can be found in beautifully restored local houses and buildings; not only offering further insight into local life and culture but also offering extremely comfortable and tasteful rooms as well as deliciously prepared local food – all for a fraction of the price that you can expect to pay in Western Europe.
I can’t recommend this destination more highly, whether it be for a long weekend or even a multi-day adventure you can be sure that you won’t be disappointed. To find out more, just drop me a line.
Freshly back from Transylvanian adventures and it was a quick turnaround before I launched myself into 2017’s edition of PURE Life Experiences, one of the world’s finest experiential and luxury travel conferences. Four days of inspiring and engaging meetings with extraordinary destinations, characters, experiences and properties I truly felt privileged to have been a part of such a fantastic event. There were over 1,500 of us in total coming from all four corners of the globe, including other Travel Agents and Tour Operators such as myself and then the many wonderful exhibitors who were there showcasing their fascinating and enticing properties, travel experiences and destinations ranging from exclusive private desert retreats to helicopter safaris across wild Kiwi landscapes, immersive tribal encounters in Papua New Guinea and indulgent wellness retreats.
Among the captivating and exciting people that I felt fortunate enough to meet, I was also able to be privy to some thrilling upcoming openings taking place over the next year. Here are some more details:
Bawah Private Island in Indonesia – From 11th November this year, this unique Private Island Resort in the middle of the South China Sea some 150 nautical miles from Singapore, will be offering seaplanes directly from Batam Island which is just a short ferry ride from Singapore – yet feels a world away.
Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary – This unique property, due to be opening in March 2018 in the Paro Valley is promising to bring a true essence of spirit and destination to Bhutan.
Capella Ubud – A property I have long been excited about, designed by Bill Bensley and located in a lush green valley close to the town of Ubud in Bali, all of the 10 decadent Tented Suites look out across the valley. Certainly one of Bali’s most exciting hotel openings – due in March 2018.
Wa Ale Island Burma – Due to be opening in January 2018, this private island resort in the Myeik Archipelago in Burma will open up a whole new area of this stunning country; certainly one for water babies!
Lux North Male Atoll – Following on from their current Maldives property LUX South Ari Atoll, this resort is promising to bring a very unique, contemporary concept to the Indian Ocean. So watch out for this one in April 2018.
This was in fact the first destination I ever visited on a research trip back in 2006 in my early days in the travel industry. So it felt even more special having the opportunity to go back for an indulgent and relaxing weekend as a lucky guest of the stunning Grand Hotel Tremezzo.
This grande dame hotel sits proudly on the Western shore of the Lake, gazing across to the town of Bellagio and the hills beyond. A true art deco masterpiece, in my opinion the real gem here is the stunning gardens to be found hidden behind the hotel where peace and quiet reign all in the surroundings of exquisitely tended trees, shrubs and flowers. The interiors of the hotel boast decadent furnishings and all rooms look out either over the gardens or, as ours did, out across the lake and below you can enjoy peeping at the hotel’s unique floating swimming pool within the lake itself.
If you can tear yourself away from the serenity of Grand Hotel Tremezzo, a good tip is to buy yourself a ferry pass which allows you to explore various towns along the lakeshore, hopping on or off wherever takes your fancy. To really feel the wind in your hair, the hotel has two stunning Riva ready to take you out on a private tour of the lake’s highlights in true luxury. Alternatively, if you’re keen to be in control then just a 5 min walk from the hotel you can find one of the offices of Nautica boat who rent small speedboats that will fit up to 6 or 7 people by the hour – giving you the opportunity to really explore more of the lake under your own steam.
The hotel has a selection of delicious restaurants on offer; but to get a real feel of the area and being Italy I don’t think you can have a true grasp of a destination until you’ve sampled some local food! La Darsena in Tremezzo town is particularly special and for incredible views, Al Veluu is hard to beat; both are within striking distance of the hotel.
Where are you thinking of travelling to next year, next month or even next week? Please get in touch to discuss your future plans, wherever in the world that may be I am always here to lend a hand in crafting truly memorable holidays, from short weekends away to long haul adventures.
Please stay tuned for more adventures to come, I will be venturing to Amritsar and Rajasthan in India in my next instalment; seeking out the best hotels, guides and experiences in this extraordinary country. If any of you are considering travels to the Indian subcontinent, please do get in touch as I will be full of inspired ideas and suggestions to help you put together a truly memorable holiday.