Wow, what an amazing year 2015 has been. More travel, lots more spas and some fabulous adventures across the globe. I’ve been lucky enough to travel home to Australia visiting two impressive properties in my homestate, Tasmania. Saffire Freycinet was outstanding and Cradle Mountain Lodge was homely and really takes you back to nature. Both have compact spas, with the latter offering views from the private outdoor hydro pool to the native forest. Heavenly.
En-route to Australia I stopped off at Banyan Tree Bintan. The second of the Banyan Tree Resorts to open and picture perfect. It’s exactly how you would imagine a tropical getaway to be and only 45 minutes from Singapore. It’s my top tip for a stopover en-route to Australia. But it’s not all been overseas and this year I checked out the Royal Crescent Hotel and Spa in Bath, Spreadeagle Hotel and Spa in Sussex and also the Park House Hotel in Sussex. Each unique in its own right, they are great places for a weekend away and highly recommended.
Now for Europe – I spent a week in Madeira this year for the very first time and loved it so much and making a return visit in 2016. Loved the old world elegance of Belmond Reids Palace and Ponto Do Sol for its minimalist modernism. In Granada it was time for the hammam rituals in Hammam Al Andalus. A recreated bathing temple, if you never done a hammam – then check this group out (there are many across Andalucia).
In Austria I had two very different experiences – an Ayurveda Resort in the mountains where I had Indian inspired ayurvedic treatments with daily yoga and meditation followed by a stay at Parkhotel Igls. Experiencing the Modern Mayr programme for the first time – its made me re-evaluate my relationship with food. I learnt to chew (30-40 times) had my bowels thoroughly cleansed. and came away a new man and 2 kilos lighter.
Later in the year it was a short city break at the URSO Hotel and Spa in Madrid. Chic elegance. I loved it. And for October, I got to experience Mauritius. An overnight flight from London and no jet lag – its a winner in my book. It is as picture perfect as you would imagine and I visited some fabulous spa properties and had some world-class treatments including the Zhenglio Chinese Treatment which featured cupping and moxxa smoking therapy at LUX Belle Mare. Mind blowing. Totally. I was moved emotionally and spiritually. It was that powerful. On the same trip was a stop over at LUX Le Morne – a unique setting and totally removed from the rest of the world. It has a special place in my heart. Then Four Seasons Anahita, which is luxury personified and the spa has some impressive treatments and product houses you won’t find anywhere else. Before departing the gorgeous Mauritius there was time to have a few nights at Angsana Balaclava on the North Western corner of the island. Part of the Banyan Tree group, its a small boutique property with a big heart.
The last big trip of the year was to Six Senses Douro Valley – the first European hotel for the Six Senses group. Situated in the vineyards of the UNESCO world heritage area, its beaufiul, modern, well-appointed and has a massive spa. Focussing on wellness the resort is introducing some great programmes including the Integrated Wellness Programme and I had a taster of it during my stay. Combining wine and wellness, this is a fabulous resort and I woudl love to return.
So – that’s pretty much it. A busy year is planned for 2016. Ireland, Vietnam, New York and Madeira and that’s just the beginning.
Happy New Year and may 2016 bring fabulous spa adventures.