Wellness at Sugar Beach – St. Lucia
A Viceroy Resort
St. Lucia’s Pitons – twin mountains rising up from the Caribbean Sea – were created by volcanic activity almost 300,000 years ago. The peaks were considered to have mystical properties and were worshipped as Gods by the local Arawaks. Now deemed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the bay of white sand beach between them is the setting of Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort. Drawing on the spirit and beauty of the site, the property is a haven for wellness of the mind and body.
Dotted along the treetops, the Rainforest Spa offers all-natural rituals using locally sourced ingredients like coconut, aloe vera, and cocoa. There are seven traditionally built treehouse treatment rooms along with a relaxation pavilion and an earthen Amerindian steam dome—known as a temascal. Guests can venture off-property with the Sulphur Seduction treatment which involves a morning trip to the volcanic sulphur springs near the resort to bathe in the black waters, followed by a sulphur mud bath and exfoliation treatment, shower in the Piton waterfalls, and a massage back at the spa.
NO DAYS OFF
The property’s fitness program includes daily classes on the hour, ranging from gentle sunset yoga and morning walks to military bootcamp and ‘beast mode’ body burn classes. For the more intrepid guest, the Piton Recovery starts with a hike of the island’s Gros Piton followed by a stretching session, rehydration with coconut water, and revitalizing snack of potassium-rich bananas before having a muscle releasing massage back at the Rainforest Spa.
In anticipation of Yoga Month in September, guest can practice their flow while the sun sets behind the Pitons.
The Christopher Unveils Three New Villas in St. Barth – December 2019
Just in time for the Caribbean high season, The Christopher will open its three new four-bedroom villas in December 2019. With the addition of these spacious retreats, the 42-room hotel concludes a tiered renovation following the hurricanes of 2017, which included the addition of the new Christo restaurant and a Sisley Spa.
French designer Olivia Putman created the spaces to integrate a modern aesthetic seamlessly with nature. The villas are completely open to the sea, evoking feelings of ease and relaxation. Taking inspiration from the bow of a ship, Putman used a mix of natural materials including bamboo, sandstone, and volcanic stone, accented with pops of the hotel’s signature orange. Interior lighting was strategically configured to maximize the exterior light and its ever-changing nature throughout the day. Each villa will have four bedrooms and a private pool, blending the privacy of a personal rental with the comforts of a hotel.
The Christopher is an under-the-radar gem on St. Barth with a strong base of repeat clients. With its location on Pointe Milou – among some of the poshest villas on the island and minutes from hopping Le Ti St. Barth night club – it has a prime westward view towards the bay of St. Jean, making it the best place to catch the sunset. Its Christo restaurant, new as of 2018, focuses on organic meat and vegetables and its Mango Beach Club offers casual poolside fare. The Sisley Spa treatment rooms look out over the water and have a natural soundtrack of lapping waves.
Unlike other islands, visitors to St. Barth don’t stay put at their hotel or resort. Instead, they visit the beautiful area beaches, go into the town of Gustavia for a gourmet meal or some shopping, or stop at bakeries for freshly made croissants. (St. Barth is part of France, after all!)
What else is new at The Christopher?
- The Sixth Annual St. Barth Gourmet Festival kicks off the season November 6-10. The Christopher is hosting the festival’s patron chef, Arnaud Faye, Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF) and two-star chef at Château de la Chèvre d’Or in Eze. He will be joined by seven top French chefs, each working at a restaurant on the island during the festival and creating special multi-course menus.
- November 20-24 is the St, Barth Cata-Cup, a catamaran race that circumvents the island. The Christopher is the perfect spot to sip a cocktail and watch all the catamarans sail by.
- During festive season, St. Barth becomes the place to see and be seen – celebs throw parties on yachts and clubs are packed to all hours. The Christopher is the ideal spot to sneak away from the madness and relax – maybe before joining in again the next night!
Contributed by: Kathryn Coughlin – Alice Marshall Public Relations
BELMOND CAP JULUCA – ANGUILLA
Belmond reveals its newly designed flagship Caribbean resort, Belmond Cap Juluca, through the lens of British movie star Naomie Harris, in a short film portraying the serenity and magic of this iconic barefoot luxury escape in Anguilla. Located on one of the Caribbean’s best beaches; wrapped around the pristine white sands of a half crescent bay, Belmond Cap Juluca has been transformed to encapsulate the art of living well.
The film is a soulful reflection on the power of being able to disconnect from the everyday and reconnect with yourself. “For me, Belmond Cap Juluca embraces the soul of the Caribbean; the place where I feel most at home. It is magical to be able to just take a moment to breathe in and do nothing, and simply enjoy the joy of being surrounded by beauty and nature”, says Naomie.
With an authentic connection to the Caribbean, clean-living values and a truly international lifestyle, Naomie’s experience of Belmond Cap Juluca speaks to the modern traveler who seeks sanctuary and the luxury of time to indulge in pure escapism.
Arnaud Champenois, Senior VP Brand & Marketing, Belmond, comments, “We are delighted to work with the beautiful Naomie Harris on this film to capture the essence of ‘barefoot luxury’ that we have created at Belmond Cap Juluca, a true authentic escape. Naomie brings this genuine feeling to the narrative that inspires you to walk in her footsteps.
With the opening of our new flagship property on Anguilla and sister hotel, Belmond La Samanna on Saint Martin, with its retro-chic pastel refresh celebrating contemporary nostalgia, we have redefined luxury Caribbean escapism.”
Designed to create a sense of calm and total escapism from the moment of arrival; every detail of the resort, by US design firm Rottet Studio, complements the outstanding natural beauty of the view and signature Greco-Moorish architecture. The result is a world of timeless glamour and barefoot luxury that is as beguiling as the setting itself.
As guests approach the Main House and heart of the resort, the high domed ceiling is deliberately designed to reveal and dramatically frame the mesmerizing view. The resort invites exploration and discovery; with lush hanging botanicals, a shaded courtyard with a deep green tiled Moroccan pool and sensitively placed locally-crafted artifacts, sculptures and botanical prints sourced from V&A London. The aesthetic reflects the style of a private residence that over the decades has acquired beautiful keepsakes from across the globe. The handcrafted limestone floor tiles have been purposely selected to entice guests to walk barefoot, as though meandering through their own home.
Offering new levels of beachfront service and seamlessly connecting the Main House with the cove of Maundays Bay, is the stunning palm-lined terraces with sea view infinity-edge pool. The show-stopping new space offers guests the best of both worlds – direct access to the beach and shaded corners to enjoy refreshing cocktails and healthy poolside tapas.
Located along one of the most spectacular beaches on Anguilla, the 108 newly designed rooms and suites embrace laid back island life – with cozy nooks to read and write and space to dine alfresco. The outrageously large bathrooms open onto walled botanical courtyards, providing serene sanctuaries for relaxation. Flowing natural fabrics, injected with a mix of blues, greens and botanical prints, along with the clever use of handcrafted dark grey floor tiling create an instant sense of calm in a space flooded with natural light.
The three and five-bedroom private villas offer generous space for families and groups of friends to embrace the exclusivity of dining, swimming and socializing in private but with front row access to the island’s best beach.
THE ART OF DOING NOTHING
New traditions and modern luxuries define the guest experience at Belmond Cap Juluca. Mornings begin with an invigorating ‘swim to breakfast’, where staff meet guests at the water’s edge of Cip’s by Cipriani with a fresh towel, robe and fruit juice in hand. Stylish pedal bikes and VW vans, painted in the resort’s signature color turquoise, provide a novel way to potter about the property. A lesson with the resident yogi at the pavilion offers a tranquil setting for sunrise yoga and a coaching session with the tennis pro or game of basketball and croquet are a fun way to punctuate relaxing beach days. The elegant crescent of the cove and crystal clear waters provide the ideal backdrop for all things aqua – be it paddle boarding, kayaking or swimming the length of the bay.
The Arawak Spa is a space to awaken the senses and experience the healing powers and holistic rituals of the ancient Arawaks, with signature treatments featuring locally-harvested Anguillan-salt and local rum. A haven to disconnect, the villa is nestled within landscaped gardens and boasts a private swimming pool, fitness center, three all-suite treatment rooms and access to two private beach cabanas for pampering on the edge of the lulling Caribbean Sea.
FEEDING THE SENSES
Whether in the mood for rum punches around the pool or fresh seafood tapas at sunset, Belmond Cap Juluca feeds the senses with relaxed dining experiences unique to Anguilla. Freshly squeezed fruit juices, smoothies and light bites are on offer at the fashionable new Maundays Club and by night, service turns to sophisticated Peruvian tapas as reggae music fills the night air and cocktails flow.
Casual all day dining is on offer at Cip’s by Cipriani where breakfast is served overlooking the water’s edge and delicious Italian cuisine takes inspiration from the famous ‘Cip’s Club’ menu in Venice. For a more sophisticated ambiance, destination restaurant Pimms is an invitation to dine on modern Caribbean classics and Anguillan delicacies in elegant surroundings.
The epitome of barefoot luxury is the resort’s authentic Caribbean beach bar ‘The Cap Shack’ – located on the most remote stretch of Maundays Bay – serving up creatively mixed rum punches, catch-of-the-day beach tapas and snacks. From sunrise to sunset this characterful sun kissed venue is a true seat in the sand.
Reasons to Go – The Caribbean Edition
You don’t have to go far to reach the beach—yet. But in just a few short months, travelers will be looking to swap cold and grey winters for the delights of white sand beaches. It’s never too early to start thinking about heading to the Caribbean, and here are your reasons why:
Two Nations One Destination
Why visit: Not sure which island is best for you? Take advantage of Belmond’s “Island to Island” package, which offers accommodations in both Anguilla and St. Martin – and a seamless connection via a 25-minute Caribbean boat ride.
With over 200 new restaurants already operational and almost 40 more on the way, St. Martin is coming back as an even more effervescent culinary destination. Belmond La Samanna sits on the French side of the island – crisp white villas are dotted along the coast of Baie Longue’s mile-long white sands. The property was renovated and restyled in December 2018 by London interior design firm MuzaLab. New seaside restaurant L’Oursin serves fresh seafood and French cuisine. Top your meal off with a bottle from La Cave Wine Cellar, a treasured piece of the property that was built in 1972 and is located two stories below sea level. As the largest private wine cellar in the Caribbean, it holds 12,000 bottles of wine and Champagne, including 150 varieties of Bordeaux and the property’s own private label: Hospices de Beaune La Samanna. What’s more: St. Martin is now easier than ever to get to, with a 30 percent flight route increase since 2018. But, book soon, as stay-over arrivals are up 144 percent over 2018 year to date.
After a few days of channeling your inner bourgeoisie exploring St. Martin’s chic shops and restaurants, head across the Caribbean Sea to Anguilla, just a 25 minute boat ride away. Sister resort Belmond Cap Juluca also reopened in December 2018, following Belmond’s acquisition of this long-beloved property and a top-to-bottom redesign by Rottet Studio. The white sands of Maundays Bay, known to be one of the most crystal-clear beaches in the Caribbean, offer a private and quiet escape from the rest of the world. Once a place of worship by the indigenous Arawaks, the energy of the property exudes a peaceful, barefoot luxury that has kept loyal guests returning year after year. Each of the 108 rooms has private access to Maundays Beach, as well as a dedicated butler. Soak in the Caribbean sun in complete privacy or sway to live calypso and reggae at the Cap Shack, a laid back beach bar with a vintage ’ 80s food truck serving up everything from fish tacos to rum punches and poke bowls. Mornings begin with a leisurely swim directly from guest suites over to the seaside Cip’s by Cipriani, where a ‘Julucan’ – a.k.a. staff member – awaits with a warm robe and fruit juice in hand. Afternoons can be lolled away with yoga next to the crashing waves, rides on any of the bicycles that are left dotted around property, or a more adventurous sunset sail or kite surf around the Caribbean Sea.
Why visit PONANT: Guests will be able to see the Caribbean like never before onboard two of its new PONANT EXPLORER ships, each featuring an underwater lounge – an industry first – and a collective seven new itineraries.
The recently launched Le Champlain and Le Dumont-d’Urville will offer 29 sailings for the 2019-2020 season. Of particular note is that guests can enjoy the Blue Eye Lounge. Located eight feet below water, the unprecedented views from the lounge offer a peek into underwater life through the whale-eye shaped portholes; as well as project images of the sea onto screens in real time. For a completely immersive experience, the lounge also brings the sounds of the sea inside. Highlights of Le Champlain and Le Dumont-d’Urville’s seven new itineraries include:
Maya Treasure of the Yucatan / Le Champlain
A brand-new itinerary around the Yucatán Peninsula, the ship will visit Mayan sites such as Uxmal, Palenque, and Chichen Itza. Also on the program: a stop at the capital state of Merida, guided tour through a cacao plantation, and visit to Chaak Tun cenote, regarded by the Maya as passageways to the world of the gods.
The Essential of the Caribbean / Le Dumont-d’Urville
This new itinerary sails round trip from Fort-de-France, with an experienced diving instructor on board throughout the duration of the cruise. Guests will also enjoy a private beach day on Mayreau Island, an optional excursion to the mineral baths at St Lucia’s Diamond Falls Botanical Gardens, and the opportunity to see a variety of sea life including turtles, barracudas, spiny lobsters, and parrot fishes.
You Can Be Well in Yucatan
Why visit Viceroy Riviera: Maya’s on-site shaman offers a breath of traditional wellness activities and rituals.
Viceroy Riviera Maya, set on the Caribbean coast of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, is an adults-only, all-villa oasis surrounded by lush jungle. The resort is less than an hour drive away from Cancun International Airport, making for an easy jaunt to the beach. Upon arrival, each guest is greeted by the resort’s resident Shaman. Descended from a long line of Yucatan shamans from the village of X-pichil, the Shaman offers a traditional blessing to release guests from cares and worries. When he is not welcoming travelers, the Shaman can be found tending to his Jardin Pak’al, the garden where he grows herbs used at the Wayak Spa, before meetings guests for a one-on-one consultation to determine individual preferences and needs to create a personalized treatment – such as the Xaman-Ek (Love Ritual) treatment involving Mayan meditation, rituals to balance the chakras, and an herbal bath made from a black Zapote tree. He can even perform a Mayan Kamnicté wedding ceremony for guests looking to tie the knot the local way.
In the Footsteps of 007 in Jamaica
Why visit Jamaica: Walk in the footsteps of Ian Fleming at GoldenEye ahead of the release of the 25th James Bond film in April 2020.
Jamaica. That Jamaica. The 25th James Bond movie and Daniel Craig’s final appearance as 007 is heading back to the island nation and the former home of Ian Fleming, the character’s creator. The untitled movie will be partly set on the island. The film finds the spy out of active service and enjoying tranquil life in Jamaica, much like Bond’s author. Fleming was a former British intelligence officer and discovered Jamaica during a WWII mission in 1946. When the war ended, he returned and purchased 15 acres of tropical overbrush, which he named GoldenEye. The island was Fleming’s retreat and passion, and he resided there every January and February for more than two decades. In between snorkeling in the azure waters and birding in the Blue Mountains, he wrote a new Bond novel each winter. Today, Fleming’s legacy remains. His bungalow – renamed the Fleming Villa – is part of the 52-acre GoldenEye resort. Fleming’s writing desk, sunken garden, and beloved coral reef are all still part of the story. Ramsey Dacosta, Fleming’s former gardener, still lives on property and exclusively refers to him as “Commander,” a nod to his military rank. Visitors can also tour Noel Coward’s hilltop home, which is nearby. A dear friend of Fleming, Coward’s residence is a time capsule, left largely untouched since he passed in the ’70s. The local Port Maria Town Hall where Fleming and his wife married also still stands. This winter, GoldenEye will carefully expand with the addition of three, three-bedroom cottages on the resort’s lagoon.
The Sunsets of St. Barth
Why visit: Set on the quieter western side of St. Barth, The Christopher offers epic sunsets and will soon unveil three brand new villas.
Flying to St. Barth is easier than ever now that Tradewind has expanded its service from San Juan, Puerto Rico. St. Barth Commuter has also added flights, with new routes from Guadeloupe, plus additional scheduled options from St. Martin and Antigua. With new restaurants, reconstructed roads, and the last of the major hotel renovations wrapping up this season, this island is a must-visit.
The Christopher is located on the island’s quieter, more residential Pointe Milou, with westward-facing views toward St. Jean Bay, a perfect place to catch the sunset. The 42-room hotel will lift the veil on three brand new villas this December, concluding a tiered renovation following the hurricanes of 2017, which included the addition of a new restaurant, Christo, and a Sisley Spa. With interiors by French designer Olivia Putman, each villa has four bedrooms and a private swimming pool. Many visitors to St. Barth opt for a villa, and Pointe Milou is home to some of the poshest on the island. This addition will marry the comfort and space of private residences with all the services and amenities of the hotel.
Contributed by: Kathryn Coughlin – Alice Marshall Public Relations
Hamilton Princess Hotel & Beach Club, Hamilton – Bermuda
“The Pink Palace” is the name synonymous with the five star Hamilton Princess Hotel in Bermuda since its inception in 1885, and aptly so, since not only is it an imposing pink structure but so too is the very sand on the beach, within close proximity.
During World War II the hotel was used for high level intelligence meetings and over the many years they have amassed an art collection of stupendous proportions. Art enthusiasts and aficionados can feast their eyes on the collection which has among them, renderings of Shepard Fairey’s “Station to Station,” Robert Indiana’s “Flag (Moratorium),” Keith Haring’s “Statue of Liberty,” pieces by Magritte and Matisse and Andy Warhol’s 1985 collection of “Reigning Queens,” among a host of others.
As part of the hotel’s preparation for hosting “The 2017 America’s Cup” 35th staging of the yacht race, the Hamilton Princess spent $100 Million in refurbishing, which included the addition of the new infinity pool. It was the first time in over 160 years that Bermuda played host to this prestigious event. The Marina, as a result, has now joined ranks with the best in the world.
The new Crown & Anchor pub restaurant which was also added is where celebrity chef Marcus Samuellson continues to whip up delectable meals, served in a breath taking ambience of sublime art.
From “1609” casual dining restaurant there is a spectacular view of the luxury boating and water sports facility at “Princess Marina” and Hamilton Harbor. The name “1609” is of great significance to Bermudians as it symbolizes the year that the “Sea Venture” was shipwrecked on her shore. This incident heralded the island’s colonization.
But it doesn’t stop there. The island also has 3 lagoons which are accessible year round and with 60-85 degrees temperature year round, there should be no holds barred in exploring a bit of the island as long as time permits.
There is a growing trend of providing personalized shuttle service for guests among five star resorts and Hamilton Princess & Beach Club is the first property in Bermuda to now offer the two-seat Renault Twizy vehicles for guests. This was introduced this summer. These electric buggies which were designed by Renault’s Formula One racing team are available on a first-come-first-serve basis. As visitors to Bermuda aren’t allowed to rent cars on the island and residents are allowed only one car per household, the Twizy provides the perfect thrill for sightseeing.
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – St. Lucia
Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort in St. Lucia, stands apart from the get go for being built on a 18th Century sugar plantation, between two volcanic conical mountains known as the Pitons, which rise in excess of 2,400 feet out of the sea and contains boiling sulphur springs in the center. But if this, which practically smacks of “heaven on earth” is not enough to whet your appetite, just think that the resort is also built within the ambit of a 100 acre rainforest that is designated by UNESCO, as a World Heritage Site.
The 27 mile long island has indigenous plant and wildlife, some of which are listed endangered species. The vast majority of the inhabitants are Blacks who speak a French patois known as Kwéyo`l, which is virtually identical to that spoken on Dominica and the French islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe. Two sons of the soil have been recipients of The Nobel Prize. In 1992 Derek Walcott won it for literature and in 1979 Sir Arthur Lewis won it for economics.
The environmentally friendly Viceroy conglomerate is also a forerunner in sustainability, through initiatives that save energy and water along with a comprehensive recycling program. Sugar Beach, A Viceroy Resort – St. Lucia, also has a community outreach program that strategically beckons the input and involvement of their guests… that is second to none.
But lest the “heartical” underbelly of operations at these luxury resorts lead us on a tangent, be reminded that we are speaking of the grand experience that awaits the avant-garde tourist at Sugar Beach, St. Lucia’s Viceroy hotel, spa and villas, which has so far been accredited among:
- The Times, Sunday Times and Sunday Times Travel Magazine Travel Awards 2016 Best Long Haul Hotel in the World
- 2016 U.S. News & World Report rankings – Best Hotels in the Caribbean
- 2017 U.S. News & World Report Best Hotels in the Caribbean
- Conde Nast Traveller (UK) Readers’ Choice Travel Awards 2016, #98 in the world and #9 in the Caribbean, among a slew of others.
The Conde Nast Traveller’s “Readers Choice Awards” factors among the most prestigious awards on the planet and it’s no mean feat to have scored among the top 100 in the world.
A small portion of the hotel’s average $460 a night stay goes toward reef conservation. The hotel also offers the opportunity to do guided night snorkeling with under water flashlights. What wonders, one might imagine, could surface through such an experience, in addition to being able to see the phosphorescent planktons.
Brightly-colored Tuk Tuks are the new addition. This is the preferred mode of transport at Sugar Beach. They buzz up and down the hills between the Pitons shuttling guests from the beach to the spa to their rooms, or just on a scenic tour for perfectly framed photo ops.
CHEVAL BLANC ST BARTH ISLE DE FRANCE, ST. BARTHS
Bartoloméo has seen many changes since the “notorious” Christopher Columbus landed there in 1493 and named it after his brother, despite its occupation by Taino people. But notwithstanding its history and the statehood eventually conferred by France in 1946, it was David Rockerfeller who brought fame and recognition to St. Barthelemy, now fondly known as St. Barths, when he bought a property there in 1957. The 9 mile island located in the French Caribbean, has not looked back since it catapulted to a haven of sophistication and became a getaway for royalty and the world’s most renowned affluent families, past and present.
Some of the aristocrats owning and having owned property there are David and Jane Matthews (in-laws of the recently married Pippa Middleton), Billionaire Philip Falcone, British aristocrat Lord Glenconner, Aristotle Onassis and David Bowie, to name a few. There are around 80 houses on St. Barth that can run upwards of US$75,000 a week for rental and transportation is primarily by electric golf buggies. Most of the homes are floored by the world’s most termite resistant wood “Greenheart,” imported from South America and the official currency is the euro.
In 1991 Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France opened its doors to a fabulous alternative. Designer Bee Osborn of Britain spared nothing in upgrading the hotel’s unique design and par excellence international allure during her 3 year renovation. With a Caribbean flavored theme, spacious rooms that are individually decorated with French vintage influence and bungalows of 4500 sq. ft., French yet subtly blended island culture and beautiful beaches, this has opened up the choices for the savvy tourists who are mindful of sampling the quaintness, diversified, and laid back way of life that a vacation such as this affords. These features along with the fab amenities lend a welcoming charm and warmth to their tourist offering.
Go with the understanding that your stay will be almost as French as France with the hottest name brand designer boutiques to boot, and do expect to see topless beaches and experience discos that start jamming by noon. And while wandering around Gustavia, the main harbor, keep an eye out for the arrival of the super yachts with the who’s who of fame and celebrity.
But not to be outdone, Cheval Blanc St Barth Isle de France, which has been awarded the No. 11 spot among the Top 100 Readers’ Travel Awards for 2016, has now introduced The Mini Moke ride. The Mini Moke is a sophisticated contemporary of the golf buggies, which has now become the signature transportation for their hotel guests. This is the quintessential St. Barth ride, created in the brand’s trademark taupe, and is specifically for guests to cruise around the island in fine style – a negligible yet significant addition for an unforgettable vacation experience.
Belmond Cap Juluca Hotel – Anguilla
When Belmond Ltd. acquired Hotel Cipriani in Venice, this was but a springboard for the now world renowned brand which currently owns and operates 48 unique and distinctive hotels around the world. This includes rail and river cruise experiences of awe inspiring proportions in many of the world’s most celebrated tourist destinations. As a part of their broad offering Belmond has eight luxury tourist trains including the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express, along with safaris and ‘21’ Club in midtown Manhattan, ranked as one of New York’s most storied restaurants and which has been around since 1929. Built back in the Prohibition Era, the owners went to great length to have architect Frank Buchanan design a complex system of camouflaged doors, invisible chutes, revolving bars and a secret wine cellar to hide and destroy the evidence.
“Rather cleverly, the wine cellar was not actually part of the ’21’ building at all, but the basement of No. 19 next door. So when the authorities asked the bar staff if they had any liquor on the premises, they could honestly say no! In reality, it housed 2,000 cases of wine, including the private collections of Presidents Gerald Ford and Richard Nixon, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Mae West, Eva Gabor and Aristotle Onassis,” as stated on their website.
It is against this background that one can begin to conjure up visions of the completed 121 room renovated Belmond Cap Juluca Hotel, a luxury beach resort on the Caribbean island of Anguilla, British West Indies, which Belmond has recently acquired. The renovation which will be respectful of the authentic charm of the iconic resort, will also include interior furnishings of all suites and villas; the introduction of new culinary concepts that celebrate the local food culture; enhancements to the spa; and new and renovated public areas. After the refurbishment, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2018, Belmond will have invested a total of approximately $121 million in the acquisition and subsequent renovation and expansion of the resort.
The award-winning property features Greco-Moorish architecture spread over two crescent-shaped coves with ocean-view suites and villas that offer secluded privacy set within lush tropical gardens. There are four restaurants and bars, a large salt water pool, tennis courts, a fitness center, a library and private screening room. The property was developed by Linda and Charles Hickox, nearly 30 years ago.
The laid-back island of Anguilla boasts some of the best beaches in the Caribbean with the softest white sand and clear blue waters where dolphins swim in the surf. There is a well-developed food scene and colorful beach bars. The island is a haven for those wishing to escape and disconnect from everyday distractions.
Belmond Andean Explorer – Luxury Sleeper Train
But Belmond had also joined the ranks of the cutting edge, innovative, luxury sleeper train concept and has launched yet another first in South America.
The Belmond Andean Explorer is dubbed a new level of luxury. It plies a scenic route through Peru, taking in natural wonders such as Lake Titicaca and Colca Canyon en-route while boasting a Library, Boutique, Observation Car and Piano Bar Car.
It is true that all of earth pulsates with indigenous and unreplicable beauty and the Caribbean got its fair share. The 35 square mile island of Anguilla that was found to be inhabited with Arawaks who worshipped the sun and the moon, and who believed that the caves known as Big Springs at Island Harbour, and The Fountain at Shoal Bay is where mankind originated, is one such island. Back then it was called Malliouhana. Anguilla was later annexed with St. Kitts and Nevis but as this was not a desirable state, the federation collapsed in 1962.
The Fountain cavern, which is a major attraction, is believed to be the Eastern Caribbean’s most intact ceremonial site dating back to when the Arawaks settled there. It features petrogylphs, offering bowls, and a stalagmite carved in the likeness of Jocahu, meaning “Giver of Cassava,” the Supreme Deity of the Arawak people, probably because cassava was their main crop. Besides cassava, they ate conchs, shellfish and whelks. Corn and sweet potato were also cultivated. The Arawaks adorned themselves with jewelry made from seeds, bones and sea shells.
Today, Anguilla’s economy depends heavily on tourism, fish and lobster exports, offshore banking and remittances from its emigrants. There are no sales or income tax in Anguilla. For its coffers, the government relies on import duties, taxes on services, corporate registrations, and various licensing fees.
Ani Villas, which was built on a 2 acre estate perched atop the cliff known as Little Bay, is another of the Caribbean’s all inclusive, eco-tourist luxury resorts.
Quite apart from its offering of breathtaking views of the Caribbean sea, guests have all the amenities they may desire, including: infinity swimming pools, cliff top hot tubs, roof decks, open lounges, a cliff top ceremony platform and state of the art gym. Additionally, there is blue whale watching or kayaking under limestone cliffs, mixologist-curated bars, executive chefs and stimulating children’s activities. Ani Villas offers the ideal package for the discerning tourist experience. Not to mention that within a short stay one could actually bask in the sun at several of the island’s 33 beaches.
Built primarily to host large groups or families, the two villas offer a combined experience of ten bedrooms, which is essentially the entire estate.
So, there is more to see and do in Anguilla than just beautiful beaches and villas. The island has a unique history bolstered by its historical sites which are all within a 20 minute drive from any given point.
The speckled dots of isles that form the Leeward Islands on the map of the Caribbean, are hardly ever thought of as tourist destinations by their larger neighbors who were born, bred and influenced on a stew of looming first world images, so massive and broad in perspective, that they eclipse the peripheral vision for experiencing any other area of island paradise.
The mainland of Antigua, just 14 miles long and 11 miles wide, has its own allure as a tourist destination given places of interest such as the 18th century preservation known as Nelson’s Dockyard, the bird sanctuary a stone’s throw away on the island of Barbuda and the “powdery soft” beaches that the island boasts, but the pearl of the country is Jumby Bay Island.
A secluded privately owned island spanning 300 acres, Jumby Bay, A Rosewood Resort tops it all with drop dead gorgeous villas that sit only two miles away. Accessible only by boat, this private island is so far removed from the regular hustle and bustle of life that it could be placed at a naturesque altitude, so to speak, teeming with the dream of the perfect balance and harmony of ecotourism aspirants. The 7 minute boat ride from Antigua’s mainland transports one to the island which remains a virginal escape with its landscape enhanced by flora, fauna and uniformed palm trees which render justice to what Admiral Nelson must have seen when it was first discovered in 1784.
Jumby Bay’s plethora of fab beach houses and villas leaves the prospective guest in a spate of confusion for a choice. Though each has its unique architectural charm and particular décor identity their appeal of elegance smacks at the same level of the plateau, all replete with lush beautifully appointed landscapes.
These villas are a decorator’s dream. Jumby Bay’s visitors who would prefer the experience of pure quietude and beauty may choose to bask in the sun on any one of the three dazzling white sand beaches, lavish in the experience of Sense spa, bathe in the delightful infinity pool which gives the illusion of connectedness to the Caribbean Sea or just choose to relax in the ambiance of the garden while writing the next best-selling book, blockbuster movie or contemplating a major business decision.
NOTRE DAME BASCILICA – Montreal, Canada
In the summer of 1989, we journeyed to Montreal Canada with excited anticipation of visiting the library at McGill University. It was summertime so despite this being our primary intention, we also wanted to see this historical city that stood apart, not just in architectural magnificence and old world charm, but also being the only French speaking province on this side of the world. My children and I drove through that part of the campus that was accessible to us but our hopes were dashed as the library and indeed most other areas of the campus were closed.
As we approached the cobble stoned heart of the city we were faced with the imposing structure of the Notre Dame Basilica, standing majestically across the road from us. I had no idea what to expect. Up to then, the most beautiful church I had entered was Scot’s Kirk in Jamaica, to which we strutted from St. George’s Primary school just up the road, in as uniformed a lined as could be expected of children, for choir practice. At seven years old the structure loomed just as large as the Basilica did in my adulthood. As an islander I remained open to all new experiences of different cultures and heritage and admired conscious appreciation of preservation in historical statements through architecture.
We ascended the wide steps leading into the church, where, upon entering we were greeted by an enchanting sea of lighted white candles, each representing one of hundreds of charities that the church supported. As the dazzling lights resonated in the depth of my soul, a fleeting thought led me to hope that that moment of reverence had impacted my children as it did me, for regardless of faith or denomination, I felt the presence of God in the Basilica.
As I continued to look around through teary eyes, the lights gradually diminished from my inner vision and brought the altar into sharper focus. The wonderful backdrop of art intricately inlaid in a profusion of stained glass with images that depicts scriptural passages and artistic expressions of Montreal’s rich history was in full view. I noted as well that each pew had carved out heads on the shoulder height extension of the arm rests. My knees answered the call for near prostration as I kneeled in unrushed prayer at the foot of the altar.
We caught up mid-stream with the guided tour and listened intently to the history of the church. We learned more about the thousands of 24 carat gold stars embellishing the blue vaulted ceiling, the details on Canada’s largest sprawling gigantic piped organ, with 7,000 pipes that measure from 32 feet at their largest to ¼ inch at their smallest; and the bell in the west tower that weighs over 11 tons or 24,000 lbs. The acoustics in the church that seats 3,500 people allow voice to be carried without the aid of electronic amplification.
Originally built in the 1600s, this Gothic Revival styled French Canadian Roman Catholic church was renovated in the 1820s by an Irish Protestant architect whose pride of work converted him to Catholicism and whose body is the only one that has been laid to rest in the crypt there. This is apt, for though its magnificence may be viewed by some as ostentatious there is something that signifies that the quintessential soul of the “creator” stands still.
Half Moon Hotel – Jamaica
The prestigious, unique and green conscious accommodations that one experiences at Jamaica’s Half Moon Hotel are not only echoed in the halls of this world class resort, but resonate around the world and back in the numerous awards the hotel has earned for its spa, fine dining restaurants, shopping village and informal native elegance.
Jamaica’s Half Moon has a rich history, which includes being the only resort in the Caribbean to have earned a four diamond designation from AAA for over 27 consecutive years, easily ranking it among sister resorts synonymous with paradise.
Golf aficionados are drawn to its award winning 18-hole, par-72 championship golf course, designed by world renowned course architect Robert Trent Jones Sr. and renovated in 2005 by legendary course architect, Roger Rulewich.
The Half Moon experience includes something for everyone, with access to 13 lit tennis courts, four squash courts, a croquet lawn, miniature golf and jogging trail. Guests partial to water sports may indulge in snorkeling, scuba diving, glass bottom boat tours or enjoy any of the resort’s 51 pools, including an Olympic-size lap pool and a “swim with the dolphins” experience.
Since its development on a 35 acre crescent-shaped bay (hence the name, Half Moon) in 1954, the hotel boasts a home-away-from-home experience frequented by countless luminaries, including HRH Queen Elizabeth II, Prince Phillip and Prince Charles; Prince Rainier of Monaco, Princess Caroline of Monaco and John F. and Jacqueline Kennedy. Prior to his inauguration as President of the United States, the couple spent a month at the resort.
A copy of one of Mrs. Kennedy’s handwritten wills hangs in the main lobby of the hotel. Celebrity sightings are frequent at Half Moon, which now boasts 400 luscious acres bordered by a private two-mile, white sand beach and a 24-hour medical facility. Adding to the unique luxury is the Fern Tree Spa experience, complete with an on-site Spa Elder™ to guide, create and counsel clients on a path to wellness with bespoke programs and regimes.
For more than 35 years, Stella Gray, the Chief Spa Elder™ has been meeting with guests to develop customized treatments for their specific needs. The majority of her therapies come from the natural herbs and botanicals grown in the on-site garden that she personally tends.
Gray and her staff work their magic in spa treatment rooms set amidst lush gardens, which allow guests the option of having their room enclosed or open to their own private garden terrace. Couples may reserve one of the plantation-style couples massage suites, bedecked with wooden millwork, pitched ceilings and private patio with outdoor soaking tubs.
Families, wedding parties and groups enjoy the VIP Spa Lounge, offering a separate living room, treatment room and private pool affording the group quality bonding time and tranquility. Rounding out the ultimate in peaceful relaxation at the Half Moon are two seaside treatment cabanas. Can’t you just smell the fresh sea air?
The Royal Madikwe Luxury Safari – Johannesburg, South Africa
The Royal Madikwe is a small but exclusive game lodge set in arid bush land just an hour’s flight from Johannesburg but a million miles away in terms of life style. Three times winner of the World Luxury Hotels award in the game lodge category, they cater to just twelve guests at a time, offering individual attention that is hard to rival even in the competitive luxury safari market that is now one of South Africa’s major tourist draw cards, all this, after being shunned by the world for decades, due to its apartheid stance.
Naturally tourists visiting southern Africa associate that part of the world with big game and the safari industry has done a great deal to promote the image of the new South Africa to those living outside the country. Places like Royal Madikwe are able to appeal to an elite tourist niche attracted by the big five and all that the African bush has to offer but a clientele like that carries with it, expectations of luxury that are difficult to live up to. To make life more complicated, the owners of the Royal Madikwe were determined to use the lodge to help uplift the local community in ways that were essential to Nelson Mandela’s vision of South Africa. There was to be no quick importation of a chef from France or a Maitre d’ from Switzerland. The management team made a decision that they were going to hire locally, not just from within the country’s borders but from the small village neighboring the reserve.
Head of marketing for the lodge, Chantelle Tereblanche, is keen to point out that all the workers from cleaners to safari guides for the Royal Madikwe have been recruited and trained from within the local community. Management is keen to promote close and open relationships and staff and management eat together at least once a week. When the lodge is not full the staff is taken into the reserve on safaris of their own to gain a deeper understanding of the wildlife that the clients come from far and wide to enjoy. Their staff is encouraged to develop their skills and is assisted with training programs if they wish to go further in either the safari or catering side of the industry. In addition the lodge funds several community events in the village including football matches. At the moment they are awaiting delivery of a vehicle that will enable them to provide excursions into the reserve for children from the village school and expose these less privileged youngsters to the animals and fauna that they may not otherwise have discovered even though they live right alongside a reserve so rich in these resources. The owners have committed themselves to investing twenty percent of the profits into local community projects so that visitors to the lodge are helping locals simply by enjoying a safari.
The Royal Madikwe has taken a slightly different approach to that of many other game lodges. Of course the main attraction will always be the game, the big five, the wild dogs and the cheetah but they have deliberately aimed at the family market and so are particularly child friendly where most safaris tend to be more adult affairs. Whilst children are welcome they are not encouraged to stay glued to the television screen or a games consol. Instead they are offered a variety of not quite so “every day” activities such as tracking, conservation awareness or survival skills. A small lodge such as this one is also able to offer game drives for individual families tailored to times that best suit their individual needs.
The game reserve is a brave new concept in nature conservation, combining private sector, the state and local communities. The 75,000 hectare park is now South Africa’s fifth largest reserve offering numerous options in terms of accommodation, ranging from bush camps to the top end luxury such as that offered by the Royal Madikwe. Although visitors talk in glowing terms of the tasteful rooms with their private viewing decks and plunge pools and mention is always made of the fine food, it is the waterhole that draws the most compliments. There is something very special about sitting in your own private space, quietly sipping from a glass of wine whilst watching wild animals go about the business of taking their drink with total disregard to your presence.
South Africa still has many hurdles to cross before it can truly say it has overcome its past. It is a nation with many problems some of which boil up to make the press from time to time but it is a nation that slowly, sometimes clumsily, is moving toward a better future. The big racial debate that continued to rage for years after the end of apartheid has now moved on only to be replaced by debate about the rich poor divide. That is a problem that needs addressing but it is not a problem exclusive to South Africa as people in even the richest countries are now beginning to discover. Although the legacy of the apartheid years is still fresh in the South African psyche one needs to remember that many of the nations who so loudly condemned that policy had policies of their own that were not that dissimilar in the not too distant past. This is a country that is very aware of the problems it bears but it is also a country where many people, like those at the Royal Madikwe, are doing something to address them for the future and that is where hope lies.
LALIBELA GAME SAFARI, SOUTH AFRICA
A GLIMMER OF LIGHT ON THE DARK CONTINENT
When Nelson Mandella walked out of the Victor Verster Prison in February 1990 it triggered the start of changes to South African life that even the most optimistic of observes would not have predicted. Overnight a country that had been a pariah state for years was suddenly unshackled from the burdens of apartheid, civil violence and international sanctions. Those changes have seen South Africa leaping to the forefront of the African economic scene and becoming a serious player in the international tourist market.
Though the long awaited African renaissance may have begun, there are formidable mountains still to be crossed before poverty can be wiped off the face of the South African map and there remain vast numbers of people living a ruthless hand to mouth existence where the threat of hunger is never far away. One of the main tools for changing that scenario is the powerful swing toward eco- tourism and the growing international awareness of South Africa’s rich wild life heritage.
Far away from Cape Town with its renowned Table Mountain and celebrated wine lands, other parts of the Cape region are far less famous and unemployment continues to be high with large numbers of people living in shacks in what the government refers to as informal settlements. For years this was marginal farming land affording poor grazing and unreliable rainfall. Today, forward thinking entrepreneurs are converting vast sections of this region into exclusive game reserves offering safaris and luxury accommodation to international tourists willing to pay top dollar to get a close up look at the big five and other wild animals that are once again wandering the southern tip of Africa.
Lalibela is one such reserve. It has two lodge camps and one luxury tented camp and plays host to both international visitors and wealthier South Africans. As one would expect at that level, the game viewing is superb, the guides knowledgeable and, when you are not being driven around the bush in open topped four by fours, the food excellent.
The catering manager is Linda Keevy-Geldenhuys who has worked at Lalibela for the past nine years. Whilst catering in an exotic and beautiful reserve in the midst of the African bush may sound like a dream job it comes with its own unique array of problems. When you run out of an ingredient you don’t just pop down the road to your local supermarket to resupply. Guests at that end of the market can be very demanding and dealing with glucose free, lactose free or vegan diets are all just part of a days work.
When Linda first joined the staff at Lalibela there was one central kitchen which supplied all three camps. With all the game viewing groups returning to their respective camps at roughly the same time, rushing meals from camp to camp became a logistical nightmare. On one occasion Linda sat in her car for half an hour, food cooling on the back seat, whilst a herd of elephants blocked the road with no regard to Linda’s problems. It was this incident that finally instigated the decision to build a kitchen at each camp. That decision made, however, staffing became another problem that needed to be overcome. Keeping good chefs was already proving difficult in such a remote and isolated area.
Linda decided that the best course of action would be to train some of the housekeeping staff to become cooks. It was a decision that did not meet with immediate approval from others in management. They were at first skeptical that these ladies, with limited education and little exposure to the extreme culinary requirements that would be placed upon them, would be able to make the transition into safari cooks. Several years later the issue is no longer under debate. Linda has more than proved her point.
Cynthia Tshula has been cooking at Lalibela for six years now. One of Linda’s first trainees, she started off at the reserve washing laundry. She is now a fiercely proud cook with a passion for baking. Mamalinda Duku used to make a living as a seasonal fruit picker before she too started at Lalibela in the house keeping department. She has become an expert at two uniquely South African dishes, the Poitjie, a traditional but complicated African stew and Chakalaka which is a spicy stir fried vegetable dish.
This success story has not been without its hitches. Tears over burned dishes, overcoming a distrust that seems so universal between management and workers and climbing a hugely steep learning curve are just some of the problems these ladies have had to resolve. Under the hot pressure cooker like conditions of their bush camp kitchens, Cynthia and Mamalinda have discovered talents, skills and passion they never dreamed were there or that they would be given the opportunity to develop. Somewhere in the process the three ladies have become friends. The bond that exists between them now provides not only some delightful meals but adds further hope for the future of a country that once teetered on the brink of self destruction.
Writer – Mike Alexander
WADDESDON MANOR – London, England
Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild (1839-1898) was from one of the most affluent banking families of the 19th century. He owned castles and palaces across Europe and was a collector of fine and decorative art. Baron engaged a French Architect for the construction of Waddesdon Manor, a French Renaissance-style chateaux, primarily for the entertainment of his friends and to house his outstanding 19th century collection that, it has been said, “would be the envy of any of today’s museums.”
The foundation for Waddesdon Manor was laid in 1877 and the Manor was eventually completed in 1891. It was closed from 1990-1994 for extensive interior and exterior restoration, with special care and attention given to the three dimensional garden that was, purported by some documents, created by his sister Alice (1847-1922).
The Manor, which sits on 165 acres of garden and park, was bequeathed to The National Trust in 1975, along with a large endowment for its maintenance.
During World War II, Waddesdon Manor was used as a safe shelter for children under five years old.