Rising from the dunes, Bab Al Shams sits in Endurance City, along a sandswept road, past thoroughbred stables and camel farms some 40 minutes’ drive from Dubai. Meaning ‘gateway to the sun’ in Arabic, Bab Al Shams offers guests an array of activities for exploring the surrounding desert, from falconry, to camel treks to dune drives.
We carry our travels with us long after we have returned and the tan has faded. A straightness of spine developed from daily rituals of guided Surya Namaskar, a seashell bracelet wrapped around our wrist which will remain until worn away by saltwater, or a silk printed scarf faded to perfection. But Alila Diwa Goa is a memory to carry for life.
Capri is enchanting – an island of blue grottos, limestone cliffs dotted with wild flower, crystal clear coves and colossal turquoise skies – a world apart. This wildly romantic paradise has welcomed auteurs and their muses from Godard and Bardot, to Shavelson and Loren. Perhaps it is the light. Or the island uniform of white linen paired with dark shades, that makes everyone appear to be a movie star. Whatever the secret is, more than a half a century later, this island retreat shines brighter than ever.
I have fallen in love, so much so, that I don’t want to leave my hotel and I certainly don’t want to leave the city. I want to stay here forever. Or, perhaps I can transport every moment back home with me, from the heavenly chocolates in the minibar, to the Florentine scent, to the perfectly plump pillows. But of course, most importantly, the view over the lemon trees in the courtyard which give way to fragments of blue sky beyond terracotta sloping roofs.
I adore the idea of stepping onto a little wooden boat and sailing away to my own private island for a few days of rest and relaxation. These three gorgeous spas offer the opportunity to float away from it all for a few precious hours. Should you choose to return, you will do so feeling rested and rejuvenated.
Why visit … I’ve always wanted to live in a home with a built in spa. Relax, unwind, then wander upstairs to sleep. Repeat. Since this was a little ambitious, even for me, I visited Amankora Thimphu a simple and elegant retreat set in a blue pine forest in the upper Thimphu Valley of Bhutan.
What I like most about InterContinental Dubai Marina is the gorgeous scent. From the second you step into the hotel until the moment you leave, the calming, signature fragrance envelopes you. It is so good, it almost makes you want to move in. And move in you can, for the hotel has 196 Residential Suites hidden away, perfect for the discerning guest seeking rest and relaxation. You could while away your days at the pool, your evenings drinking bespoke cocktails or bubbles at The Social Room, or take up residency in the spa. I was not allowed to move in permanently however, so I just opted to stay for the afternoon.
Why visit … Just a short flight away from Dubai, the Himalayan nation of Nepal is a beautiful and inspirational destination. Home to historical sites and some of the world’s most breath-taking natural landscapes, Nepal is ready to welcome tourists following the devastating earthquake in April 2015. I recommend a twin center- immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Kathamandu, then head to the mountains to Dwarika’s Dhulikhel Himalayan Shangri-La for some rest and relaxation.
There is never a good place to get a puncture. Deep in the heart of lion country is probably bottom of the list. We are in Kenya’s Masai Mara reserve, spiritual home of the safari, where a golden landscape of savannah and scrubland populated by acacia trees stretches as far as the eye can see. The Mara, for once, is empty of tourists. We have the park to ourselves during a fleeting moment when predators outnumber safari trucks and human traffic is at an all time low.