Nature lovers are spoilt for choice with three new members of Small Luxury Hotels of the World (SLH) in Nicaragua, Malaysia and the United Kingdom joining the luxury brand this month. City break seekers will also be excited with two new members in the cities of London and Tuscany, both rich in cultural and shopping options.
Calala Island, Pearl Cays, Nicaragua
4 Rooms from USD2,050 per night (all-inclusive)
Tucked away on a private atoll in a little-known corner of the Caribbean, Calala Island is a truly exclusive getaway offering highly bespoke experiences, be it dining or activities. With a discreet and dedicated team of over 25 staff to look after your every wish, Calala Island accommodates only up to eight adults across only four beachfront suites, ensuring the ultimate privacy and luxury getaway. Its suites designed by celebrated architect Matthew Falkiner are styled after a traditional Caribbean palapa accented with beautiful handcrafted furniture. Dining on the private retreat is deliciously diverse – look forward to a bespoke menu of fresh-off-the-fishing-line seafood and organic, island-grown produce prepared by Michelin-trained executive chef Lorne Emerson, served anytime and anywhere the guest desires. From the time you are greeted at the jetty, you’ll be a willing Robinson Crusoe, ready to begin life on this private island retreat.
SLH Insider Tip: Make your way to a tucked-away palapa beside the beach for a massage or beauty treatment, with the sounds of sea providing nature’s soundtrack. Or book out the entire island for an intimate celebration – the island retreat can organise a tailor-made itinerary for you, such as treasure hunts with real gold coins, or basically almost anything you can dream of.
Mangala Resort & Spa, Kuantan, Malaysia
65 rooms from MYR1200 per night
Mangala Resort & Spa is the result of a 15-year journey of rejuvenation, which transformed an abandoned barren mining land into a tropical oasis of palm plantation, organic gardens, rehabilitated lakes and undisturbed wetlands. From the private villas built on stilts over the lake, to those beside lily-dotted wetlands, every inch of this eco award-winning luxury resort built with eco-conscious materials brings guests closer to nature, which is within the vicinity of Gambang Water Park and Bukit Gambang Safari Park – Wild Savannah. Wherever you are, melodic bird calls fill the air, adding to the sense of natural tranquillity and eco luxury.
SLH Insider Tip: Take a nature walk guided by the resident naturalist to discover the resort’s rich biodiversity which is home to over 100 species of birds and flora and fauna including rare migratory birds, or take a horseback-riding excursion around the plantation.
The Fish Hotel, Broadway, United Kingdom
63 rooms from GBP194 per night
Surrounded by the rolling hills and honey-stone villages of the 400-acre Farncombe Estate, The Fish is a country hotel with a stylish twist. Designed as a village-style collection of houses, huts and hideaways, The Fish can be any kind of luxury break you desire. Enjoy a romantic weekend in a stylish suite or secluded hillside hut with its own private hot tub. Plan a family getaway in a contemporary treehouse in the woods. Or book out a whole farmhouse for an adventure with friends and four legged companions, complete with group activities spanning archery to Segway safaris. Families with young children will find plenty of fun and games to keep them busy, including a woodland playground. Then as evening falls, follow your nose to Hook, which serves up market-fresh seafood, including Cornish mussels and lobster.
SLH Insider Tip: For more relaxing (or rainy) days, cosy up beside the striking 360º central fireplace in the bar, play a game of pool in the lounge or while away an hour or two over afternoon tea.
Palazzo Vecchietti, Florence, Tuscany, Italy
14 Rooms from €373 per night
Immerse yourself in Florence’s golden age at Palazzo Vecchietti, a 16th-century palace among the grandeur of the historic centre. Original 16th-century features and artworks are woven into the contemporary-classic interiors by renowned Florentine interior designer Michele Bonan throughout this intimate luxury residence. Within an easy 10-minute stroll from the hotel’s central location are some of Florence’s best cultural sights and retail offerings – the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio, Bargello museum, Palazzo Vecchio and prime-shopping street Via Tornabuoni are just round the corner. Pets are also very much welcomed here too, pampered with ‘pet sets’ of treats and toys.
SLH Insider Tip: Ask for one of the two rooms with a beautiful terrace overlooking the Florentine rooftops.
The Academy, London, United Kingdom
50 rooms from GBP287 per night
Tucked away in the heart of Bloomsbury in London’s bustling West End, the Grade-II listed Academy Hotel comprises a collection of five Georgian townhouses combined into one charming luxury hotel, owned by YTL Hotels. Following an extensive refurbishment, headed up by New York-based Champalimaud Design, all bedrooms and suites have been elegantly revamped with stylish furnishings, marble en-suite shower rooms and vintage pieces to create a contemporary take on townhouse living. Downstairs, The intimate Alchemy Bar is the perfect retreat for bespoke cocktails, specialty gins or a refreshing glass of wine or champagne. Quintessentially British, the hotel offers a range of traditional pastimes including afternoon tea served in the private courtyard garden and exclusive access to the hotel’s library which houses a curated collection of classic and contemporary novels, paying homage to the famous Bloomsbury Set. Just moments away from the British Museum, fine-dining restaurants and designer shops, The Academy is perfectly positioned for those travelling for business or pleasure.
SLH Insider Tip: Make sure you order The Alchemy Bar’s new “Rejuvenating Tincture” cocktail made with Alkkemist Gin and homemade rosemary syrup
And in other news...
ABBA Resorts Izu, Izu, Japan
ABBA Resorts Izu has introduced two new super luxury Split Level Villa Suites, set amongst a serene forest. The spacious villas are comprised of a living room, a dining room with a kitchen on the first floor. Guests can enjoy their breakfast and dinner served in the privacy of their villa. The bedroom is located on the second floor, overlooking the Sagami Bay. A private heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi and outdoor bath on the terrace will give guests a moment to unwind, feeling the breeze and sunlight filtering through trees. Nightly rates start from: JPY120,000 per weekday night/JPY150,000 per weekend night, inclusive of breakfast, dinner and roundtrip transfer from train station.
Ka’ana Resort, San Ignacio, Belize
Tradition and culture are huge aspects of traveling to Ka'ana - the property has launched a new wellness offering – an energy cleansing ceremony led by a Shaman of Maya descent. This is great for travelers seeking a fresh start or beginning a new phase in their life (honeymoons, bachelor(ette) parties, babymoons, starting a new job or even getting over a breakup). For a heightened experience, guests can participate in the ceremony on ancient Maya ruins.
TwentySeven Hotel, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Eric van Beek, head-bartender of TwentySeven Hotel’s bar is the first Dutchman to win the renowned Global Bacardi Legacy 2018 competition. His cocktail 'Cariño' - the Spanish word for love and endearment - was the undivided winner for the jury during the final in Mexico. The Cariño cocktail offers the sweetness of rum and vanilla blended together with the freshness of lemon and yogurt. Head over to Bar TwentySeven to have a taste of the award-winning cocktail for yourself.
Relais San Lorenzo, Bergamo, Italy
The Relais San Lorenzo, the only five star luxury hotel in the heart of Bergamo Alta, will offer a series of dinners at Hostaria restaurant with Chef Antonio Cuomo and special Michelin starred guest chefs:
• November 20, 2018 - Edwin Vinke (two Michelin stars), The Netherlands –
Edwin Vinke is one of the best representatives of the Zeeland cuisine, the most Western region of The Netherlands, where dishes often speak the language of the North Sea, with oysters, seafood and shellfish.
• January 29, 2019 - Eric Vildgaard (one Michelin star), Denmark
Eric Vildgaard is a significant example of the path taken in these times by Nordic cuisine, increasingly influenced by global products and ideas, while continuing to maintain a strong link with their roots, and therefore with the Scandinavian nature.
• March 5, 2019- Henrique Sa Pessoa (one Michelin star), Portugal –
A media chef and star in Portugal, including cook-books and participations in television programs, in recent years Henrique Sa Pessoa has been able to reinvent the world of Portuguese haute cuisine.
HGU New York, USA
HGU New York has partnered with luxury wellness center Modrn Sanctuary to provide wellness offerings to hotel guests, which include Somadome Meditation Pod, Sensory Seven Crystal & Energy Healing, a Himalayan Salt Room, and a new 'Salty Suite' package with in-room Himalayan salt amenities such as an air-purifying salt lamp, nightlight, salt shot glasses, and Himalayan salt soaks. Guests are encouraged to take the shot glasses and nightlight home with them, extending their salty experience even more. The 'Salty Suite' in-room package is available for USD100.