This season’s hottest travel destinations take us from experiencing the wonders of the Northern Lights to the exquisite luxury of the Seychelles. Along the way, why not experience the adventure of a trip on Seabourn, or the cultural delights of Sri Lanka?
A mythical, magical performance and as elusive as they are ethereal the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis are one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular displays – and one that has fascinated, inspired and terrified mankind since the dawn of time. It is known that the Northern Lights are caused by electrically charged particles travelling 93 million miles from the sun. The displays are created by the particles colliding with different gases in the earth’s atmosphere. Colours are determined by the gas type while magnetic fields affect form and movement.
Colours most commonly seen include greens and yellows and whilst rarer, sightings of blues and reds are the most sought after. Although we now understand what causes the Northern Lights, historically they have been steeped in mythology and folklore – In Finland, the lights are known as “Fox Fire” and as the legend goes, caused by the tail of a running Arctic fox, brushing against the powdery snow and creating sparks in the snow. Native American tribes associate them with the spirit world and consider them to be the result of torches lit by the dead.
Despite our understanding, mysteries still abound regarding why they are more active around equinoxes and the nature of when and in what form they will take place. However, this makes each spectacle unique, and no matter how many times one has seen it we never cease to be amazed by each performance.
The Northern Lights are a never to be forgotten spectacle and a trip there, surrounded by huskies and reindeer will be a unique adventure.
The newly opened Icehotel 36 5 is a permanent structure, oﬀering the experience of sleeping on ice year-round, thus allowing the chance to combine with exploring Lapland under the midnight sun. Maintained at sub -zero temperatures by solar power during summer its domed roof is covered in wild ﬂowers, while in winter, it blends seamlessly with the adjacent winter structure.
Crafted each year using ice from the frozen River Torne, the Icehotel is transformed into a work of art by the world’s leading ice sculptors. Walking inside, you will be mesmerised by hallways lit by sparkling chandeliers of ice, while the Art Suites have to be seen to be believed. For the 2017/18 Icehotel, designs include a Space Room, Fabergé Egg, Hanging Installation and a Snail World. You can chill out at the Icebar, sipping cocktails from ice glasses and get married in the ice ceremony hall. The Icehotel 36 5 oﬀers a year-round ice experience, blending seamlessly during winter with the seasonal Icehotel, which melts back into the river each spring.
If you are looking for a truly inspiring winter getaway, then a visit to the Icehotel should be at the top of your list. The ‘sleeping on ice’ experience is certainly not to be forgotten and is far more comfortable than it may at ﬁrst sound. Add in ﬁne dining, a cosy bed for additional nights, a whole host of winter activities such as husky sledding and snowmobiling and the chance to see the northern lights you have the ultimate ‘cool’ break.
Welcome to the perfect harmony between wilderness and luxury in the heart of Swedish Lapland Loggers Land. A warm and welcoming cabin made for two, surrounded by trees, streams and breathtaking scenery. Located 5km from any neighbour, this is the perfect spot for those looking to really get away from it all.
There is just the one cabin at Loggers Lodge, sleeping two guests. A luxurious Lapland hideaway, Loggers Lodge contains the king-size bed and dining area all in one space, with a central open ﬁre separating the two. The bathroom is also located in the cabin, while outside the sauna houses the shower room.
There is a wide variety of activities on oﬀer at Loggers Lodge, all of which are perfect for exploring the surrounding beauty of Swedish Lapland. From snowshoeing and ski touring to day trips to a nature reserve, there is something to suit everyone. It’s also possible to have an introduction to the indigenous Sami culture, while in the summer hiking and boat trips under the midnight sun are on oﬀer.
In guests’ private luxury accommodations, a private chef can prepare traditional gourmet meals— a la carte breakfast, lunch and dinner— or guests can visit the onsite wood-ﬁred sauna and outdoor jacuzzi. Ideal for couples, honeymooners and guests celebrating a special occasion, the all-inclusive.
Treehotel oﬀers a unique hotel experience: tree rooms with contemporary design in the middle of unspoiled nature. Here you can forget about the time constraints of everyday life, enjoy the serenity, and rejuvenate in a sophisticated yet familiar environment.
Romantic breaks at this eco -friendly hotel are lo -ﬁ; rooms are shower-free, but mind-boggling mirror- cube and bird’s nest designs, and Scandinavian- chic interiors ensure you’re not exactly roughing it. There’s much to love here: treks through lush boreal forest, husky-drawn sled rides, rustic Nordic cuisine, and a possible peek at the Northern Lights. Each tree room is a unique creation by Scandinavia’s leading architects. The idea behind Treehotel is to oﬀer high standard accommodation in a harmonious place where none of the ordinary stress of everyday life exists. The most striking part of Harads is its magniﬁcent surroundings.
Tree hotel is located in the tall pine forest with spectacular views of the Lule River. The tree rooms are suspended 4- 6 metres above the ground and are accessible by ramp, bridge, or electric stairs. The seven suites are arranged through a stretch of woodland located in Harads, with designs by architects including Tham + Videgård Arkitekter and Rintala Eggertsson Architects. The Harads village has a population of about 600 and features a restaurant, shop and guest house. From Treehotel’s rooms you get a fantastic view of the Lule River valley, miles of forest and the powerful river.
Set on a 2.19 square kilometre private island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, Fregate Island Private is a jewel of conservation – unique on the planet. This secluded sanctuary hosts 17 luxurious residences overlooking turquoise waters, hundreds of exotic birds, 2,200 free-roaming Giant Aldabra tortoises and lush vegetation circled by seven idyllic beaches. A true paradise on earth.
Fregate Island Private oﬀers travellers the unique opportunity to enjoy an exclusive island experience with a team genuinely committed to conservation. Meanwhile, luxurious accommodation is sensitively developed, with a spaciousness that allows guests to immerse themselves in the natural beauty while enjoying the ﬁnest hospitality that is synonymous with Oetker Collection.
A large variety of fresh ﬁsh directly from the ocean is available. A selection of fresh, home grown ingredients daily cooked by The Chef Arnaud Davin oﬀering Créole and international cuisine at its best.
Fregate Island’s Rock Spa is the ideal spot to both relax and revitalise the mind, body and soul. Drawing on age- old know-how and the healing properties of local plants, the spa’s experts oﬀer treatments, massages and yoga instruction in a truly peaceful environment. Rock Spa also oﬀers Ayurvedic treatments, Dr. Haridas specialised in the renowned Indian science of preventative health and healing creates tailored programs to help each individual guest achieve a balanced state of body, mind and consciousness.
Some 30km from the main island of Mahé, Ile du Nord, or North Island, enjoys private seclusion within the Inner Island group of the Seychelles. Luminous white beaches cosset a tropical interior of coconut palms and takamaka trees cradled between three granite outcrops, 110m to 180m in height, whose polished grey ramparts rise from the white sands and ﬁligree reefs of the azure ocean.
North Island is a sanctuary where natural habitats, long neglected, have been rehabilitated so that endangered Seychelles fauna and ﬂora could be reintroduced and given a place to grow and thrive. On this ﬂoating paradise, 11 guest villas have been built from local materials reaped from the rehabilitation process, where luxury and simplicity mingle to form a signature architectural style we call ‘barefoot luxury’.
North Island is a place that unashamedly aims at providing the very best in privacy, location, accommodation, services, facilities and experience, yet has restored its environment to a place of verdant plenty – a Noah’s Ark aﬂoat in warm tropical waters in colours of blue and aquamarine. The true essence of North Island is a rare encounter that is in harmony with the environment – one that touches and inspires the lives of all who walk her beaches, dive her waters and contemplate her beauty. A mélange of cultural inﬂuences is combined with the abundance on oﬀer from the Indian Ocean and the island’s organic richness to create North Island’s taste. Balanced, delectable and attractive, each meal is a feast to stimulate the senses.
Zil Pasyon, managed by Six Senses Hotels Resorts Spas, is Seychellois Creole for the Isle of Passion. It oﬀers a limited number of private residences at the pinnacle of Félicité Island in Seychelles. While only few have been able to visit due to the island having been in private hands, Félicité is celebrated among the Seychellois for its breathtaking natural beauty and its unrivalled location.
Félicité is a 268-hectare island of granitic boulders strewn over pristine vegetation, with picturesque views at every turn. Microcosmic of what makes Seychelles truly unique, Félicité has been a best kept secret until now. Designed by award-winning architect Richard Hywel Evans of Studio RHE London, Zil Pasyon Residences perfectly embodies the ethos of ’stealth architecture’, blending striking design with the natural beauty of the surrounding environment. Strategically positioned within the naturally dramatic landscape of the island, each residence beneﬁts from sweeping island views and panoramic vistas over the sea.
Every residence oﬀers the maximum level of privacy, space, and comfort; the ultimate luxury island lifestyle. Award-winning Six Senses creates places in which to reconnect together with exceptional guest experiences. Thirty villas all featuring private pools, a dedicated Guest Experience Maker, an array of dining experiences and an impressive Six Senses Spa Zil Pasyon is located among towering boulders, lush tropical vegetation and turquoise waters.
In the historic port of Galle, Amangalla lies within the ramparts of Sri Lanka’s 17th- century Galle Fort, a Unesco World Heritage Site. Oﬀering views of the fort and harbour on one side and the resort’s gardens and swimming pool on the other, the graceful residence presents 27 guestrooms and suites, the two -storey, free-standing Garden House and a tranquil spa known as the Baths. Combining the Sanskrit-derived word for ‘peace’ with galla, the Sinhalese word for the town of Galle, Amangalla reveals the Fort’s daily activities and rich legacy, its narrow streets lined with buildings from the Dutch and British colonial eras.
With its chandeliers and soaring ﬁn de siècle ceilings, being welcomed into Amangalla’s Zaal, or Great Hall, is like stepping into the past. It houses the elegant Dining Room at one end and a bar at the other, with a welcoming lounge area in-between – ideal for enjoying a cup of Ceylon tea or an evening cocktail to the accompaniment of the grand piano.
An intimate setting with a colonial feel, the Dining Room serves Sri Lankan and Western cuisines. Guests can also dine on the veranda, which faces the tree-lined street, or enjoy alfresco breakfasts and lunches under the ﬂamboyant tree with views of the resort’s swimming pool.
A wander into Amangalla’s 200 -year- old garden reveals the Baths, the resort’s tranquil spa facility. Massage therapies drawing on Ayurvedic healing traditions can be enjoyed in ﬁve softly-lit treatment rooms.
Tucked into a mature coconut grove overlooking a crescent-shaped beach, Amanwella lies on Sri Lanka’s picturesque south coast near the ﬁshing village of Tangalle. The resort draws its name from the Sanskrit-derived word for ‘peace’ and combines it with wella, Sinhalese for ‘beach’.
A contemporary seaside resort, it presents 30 suites, each with its own private plunge pool and terrace. All range along the hillside facing the sea, but Ocean Suites are closer to the beach with uninterrupted ocean views. Linked by pathways through the coconut grove, suites are situated to the west of the public areas. The spa suite is sited near the top of the hill.
The resort is accessed via a gravel road that winds through lush vegetation before opening into a large red-pebble courtyard. Here guests are welcomed into the Arrival Pavilion – a colonnaded, open-air structure overlooks a grass courtyard and a reﬂection pool surrounding the free-standing library. On either side of the library are the Restaurant and the Lounge Bar – both open on all sides and oﬀering spectacular views of the bay. From the terrace outside these two dining venues, steps lead down to the unique 47-metre swimming pool, which also oﬀers magniﬁcent views.
The Pool Terrace is ideal for alfresco dining during the day. The Beach Club is located closer to the western end of the beach, beyond the suites. Shaded by coconut palms, it features an open pavilion with a wooden deck for lounging and informal dining on Asian and Mediterranean fare. Watersports equipment and dressing rooms are available.
Situated at an altitude of 1250 metres near Hatton in central Sri Lanka, the resort borders the World Heritage Central Highlands and oﬀers breathtaking panoramas of mountains and lush tea ﬁelds. Each bungalow is unique and exudes its own exquisite ambiance while oﬀering guests the non-hotel, private house ambience that is the hallmark of the award-winning, “all-inclusive” Tea Trails experience.
Made up of a collection colonial tea planters’ bungalows linked by trails that weave through beautiful tea gardens, this unique property provides a slice of Sri Lankan tradition and heritage. As you make your way to your assigned bungalow, all of which are set deep in the spectacular Bogawantalawa Valley in the island’s Hill Country, you can’t help but feel you’ve arrived somewhere special. This is a place for guests seeking serenity and perhaps for those who also wish for a little light adventure, with scenic walks, hikes and mountain biking trails available right on the doorstep.
Each of the ﬁve unique bungalows plays host to Luxury Rooms, Garden Suites and resplendent Master Suites. Rooms are named after tea planters who lived in the bungalow. They oﬀer a taste of colonial- era luxury with solid teak furnishings, antique touches and plush beds. Master Suites with a separate living room, Garden Suites with verandas to private gardens and Luxury Rooms of great character. A secluded Owner’s Cottage. Relax in immense four-poster beds, crisp white sheets. Twenty-six elegant and charming rooms and suites decorated each in a unique style, ranging from neo – colonial to classic English.
BELMOND MIRAFLORES PARK
Set on a quiet square on a cliﬀ overlooking the Paciﬁc Ocean, Belmond Miraﬂores Park commands the best spot in Lima’s well-heeled Miraﬂores district. Surrounded by great restaurants, and just a half hour’s drive from downtown, this luxury hotel is the perfect base from which to explore Peru’s vibrant capital.
Belmond Miraﬂores Park oﬀers 89 all-suite rooms, including two Presidential Pool Suites, complete with marble bathrooms. Views are either over the shimmering city, or the sparkling Paciﬁc Ocean. Garden Suites have spacious outdoor terraces with fragrant ﬂowers, and Deluxe Junior Suites boast their own saunas.
Lima’s architectural treasures might be largely conﬁned to the historic centre and Barranco, but Miraﬂores boasts handsome landscaped parks and sweeping ocean views at every turn. After exploring sights such as the art-ﬁlled Aliaga House—the Americas’ oldest private residence—and the catacombs of San Francisco Church one can catch a breath of sea air in the six-mile stretch of greenery that runs along cliﬀs from the hotel’s door. Other compelling attractions elsewhere in Lima include a rich pre- Columbian heritage, as seen at the millennia- old Huaca Pucllana adobe temple and beautifully showcased in the Larco Museum, and a vibrant art and fashion scene that includes Mario Testino’s MATE gallery. Then there’s a food culture that plays a leading role on the world stage.
With dozens of diﬀerent climates and a terrain that includes 2424km of coastal desert, Amazonian rain forest and soaring Andean peaks—all with their varied treasure trove of indigenous plants—it’s easy to see why Peruvian cuisine has taken oﬀ.
BELMOND PALACIO NAZARENAS
Years of meticulous restoration have transformed this historic palace and 17th- century convent into an intimate urban retreat. Located on a quiet plaza behind Cusco’s main square, Belmond Palacio Nazarenas represents the perfect fusion between the city’s great history and its vibrant, contemporary face. Impressive Inca stone walls, a cloistered courtyard and ancient fountain blend beautifully with an indulgent spa , spectacular swimming pool and restaurant serving cutting- edge local cuisine.
Among its many accolades Belmond Palacio Nazarenas has been voted best hotel in Peru in the 2016 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. Belmond Palacio Nazarenas is arrayed over seven courtyards. In the largest of these lies the magniﬁcent swimming pool—the ﬁrst outdoor heated pool in Cusco, and the social heart of the hotel. Surrounding it are 55 suites, many boasting balconies and beautiful city views.
All are air- conditioned and oxygen- enriched to counteract any eﬀects of the altitude. Each suite is stunningly decorated with colonial and Inca details and equipped with a well-stocked bar, where your personal butler can mix up the cocktail of your choice. Enjoying a superb location, Belmond Palacio Nazarenas is within easy walking distance of Cusco’s main attractions, from Inca sites such as the Sacsayhuaman fortress, to the picturesque alleyways of the San Blas quarter. Shoppers will enjoy exploring the streets close to the hotel, which are lined with small boutiques specializing in local textiles, ﬁne jewellery and ceramics. Your butler will gladly provide tips to help you discover the best of the city.
BELMOND SANCTUARY LODGE
As dawn’s ﬁrst rays appear behind the mountains surrounding Machu Picchu, guests of Belmond Sanctuary Lodge can be among the ﬁrst into this legendary heritage site to explore the ruins and soak up their unique energy. The Lodge oﬀers its guests exceptionally easy access from early morning to late afternoon, when most of the day visitors have left. Relaxation is key at this lush hideaway: rooms are cosy sanctuaries and the gardens abound with rare orchids and hummingbirds.
Delicious cuisine, a convivial bar, yoga sessions and soothing outdoor massages all enhance the experience. After a dream day exploring the citadel—setting oﬀ at dawn, returning to Belmond Sanctuary Lodge for lunch, then heading back to continue the adventure, perhaps with a guided tour oﬀered by the concierge—most guests will be ready for an evening of rest and relaxation. The hotel oﬀers 31 rooms and suites. For absolute indulgence stay in a double deluxe room with a view of the mountains and a private terrace.
These rooms enjoy an unrivalled location near the entrance to the sanctuary and its terraces are surrounded by lush vegetation—perfect for sipping a glass of wine beneath the stars at the end of an incredible day. Located behind the main building, the hotel gardens showcase some of Machu Picchu’s ﬁnest ﬂora and fauna. More than 100 varieties of orchids grow here, and experts are on hand to oﬀer guided tours. A wealth of exotic birds, particularly hummingbirds, are frequent and cherished visitors.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a place of soaring 7,000 -metre Himalayan peaks, glacial river valleys and evergreen forests. Amankora resort comprises ﬁve lodges dotted across this ancient land. Surrounded by forests and orchards, the ﬁve Lodges comprise 72 Suites fusing rustic elements with contemporary design. Tailored itineraries can include visits to Lodges in Paro, Thimphu, Punakha , Gangtey and Bumthang. This “kora ,” or circular journey of discovery, is a gateway to the world’s last Buddhist kingdom. Amankora’s ﬁve Lodges oﬀer travellers the opportunity to experience Bhutan’s remarkable landscape and rich cultural heritage, all beneath soaring Himalayan peaks. Guest Suites, combining a bedroom and lounge, feature a bukhari wood-burning stove and views across a landscaped courtyard or of a stream and pine forest.
Combined bedroom and living area with terrazzo – clad bath and forest views. At an elevation of 2,250 metres, Paro Valley is the entry point for most journeys through the Kingdom. Surrounded by pine forests, the 24-Suite retreat contrasts rustic elements with contemporary design.
Wood-panelled interior, with a landscaped courtyard and pine forest views. Set in the upper reaches of the Motithang area, the 16 -Suite Lodge of Amankora Thimphu is close to the capital’s sights and shopping yet remains a secluded retreat.
Open-plan bedroom and living area with serene valley views. In the little-visited Phobjikha Valley near the village of Gangtey, the eight-Suite Amankora Gangtey is set on a forested knoll with scenic views of the valley ﬂoor and the 16th- century Gangtey Goemba monastery. Part of an important wildlife reserve, the valley is home each winter to a ﬂock of 300 endangered black-neck cranes. Suite view overlooking across the valley.
Views overlooking a tranquil courtyard and the nearby Wangdicholing Palace. Bumthang is home to 29 temples and monasteries and is a treasure-trove of Bhutan’s art and painting traditions. The 16 -Suite Amankora Bumthang rests adjacent to the Wandichholing Palace, within the town of Jakar in the Choekhor Valley.
If you are looking to book your next dream getaway contact your dedicated Berkeley Travel Concierge today.