Restored with ultimate respect to local tradition, Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita, situated in the Sassi area of Matera, a town in Southern Italy is a 9,000-year-old Italian cave dwelling. Literally cut into the volcanic tufa of the Matera hillside, the caves of Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita were originally a stronghold for Italian peasants. Forcibly removed in the 1950s, many of the peasants came back against the government’s wishes. Today, the area has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is attracting curious travelers to its snaking rooftop streets, craggy hillside drop offs, and stone cathedrals.
At Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita, great care was put into restoring the 18-room hotel. They were very clever in keeping the integrity of the caves intact by using the original architectural materials from the area, disguising the use of modern technology and maintaining the new design to a minimum. The decor of the rooms is very basic using plain furniture built out of recycled materials, yet keeping the rural historic tradition through colors, textures, scents and even candles identified with the area. Where elements needed to be added to bring in modern amenities, like freestanding Stark baths, were chosen based on their unobtrusive design. Their philosophy was not to betray the ‘soul’ of the building, but to preserve the caves’ rural heritage. Stunning perspectives, original hand-hewn church building blocks, and some dramatic illumination make for magical moments at this extraordinary hotel.
To stay at this sensational boutique hotel, rates start at $131 per night, from here.
Singita Boulders Lodge overlooks South Africa’s shallow Sand River in the middle of a 33,000 acre territory that boasts the highest concentration of wildlife in all of Kruger National Park. The luxury lodge offers twelve sumptuous, authentic and refined suites offer stunning views of the banks of the river Sand. Each boasts its own pool and private terrace, guaranteeing you total harmony with nature. You will quickly find that midday hours are best reserved for relaxing by the pool to beat the heat.
The Singita Sabi Sand Game Reserve is home to high concentrations of lions, rhino, buffalo, elephant, and leopard. You’ll get the chance to track them with knowledgeable guides in the mornings and evenings, when they’re most active. When you get back from your safari, you will find a delicious African inspired gourmet meal waiting for you to enjoy in the shade of centuries-old trees. The lodge also boasts Africa’s finest bush cellar where you can enjoy an exclusive wine tasting. The lodge even offers a fully equipped gym (with a full view of the savanna) and a diverse menu of spa treatments, including traditional African treatments and hot stone massages.
Nightly rates for this exclusive luxury lodge starting from USD $2,867, from here.
Morukuru Lodge tucked away in the heart of the Madikwe reserve and, one of the largest reserves in South Africa, is named after the lofty trees which lend it their shade. Enfolding guests in peace and comfort, three superb villas accommodates families and groups of friends who wish to spend some special time together, far from everything, on an exclusive-use basis. The stone and timber villas are meticulously decorated, and open out onto immaculately preserved luxuriant nature: the perfect place if you want to observe wildlife and the numerous “Big Five” animals on the reserve. Airy bedrooms feature a fireplace for chilly nights and large, insect-screened sliding doors opening on to tree-shaded private balconies.
Spacious bathrooms have deep baths with a view of the bush, and both inside and outside, monkey’s eye-view private showers for an unforgettable bush experience. An additional four junior guests can be comfortably accommodated in the kid’s room, where they have access to recreational facilities. The superbly appointed living area offers fine dining for a complete party of ten, with cuisine prepared to your taste and requirements by your personal chef. Guests can also have breakfast in the morning sunshine to the accompaniment of cackling Wood Hoopoes, lunch ‘al fresco’ in the shaded garden, or dinner by starlight and candles on the broad pool deck overlooking the fast-flowing Marico River.
To stay at this spectacular lodge, prices range from $1,908 – $2,857.81 per night for four guests and $5,618.57 per night with a four night minimum for peak season for six adults and four children, from here.
The heated infinity pool is surrounded by comfortable loungers for relaxing, bush-view siestas after a dip in the cool water. A wooden veranda surrounds the lodge perimeter, providing quiet nooks for the private bush showers, leading to a romantic riverside raised walkway. On moonlit nights, dine around a crackling bonfire in the boma and on chilly nights or lazy days, savor the welcoming peace of the luxurious indoor lounge area, with its deep, comfortable couches, night-time crackling fire and panoramic daytime view of the bush and passing wildlife.
Dolphin Island Hotel is a private island retreat situated on the tip of Viti Levu, Fiji, nestled like a precious jewel, surrounded by crystal-clear waters. With tropical modern interiors by stylist Virginia Fisher, it boasts just four elegant rooms, a gorgeous entertaining bure, a romantic sleep-out boudoir and a 13-acre playground of gardens and beaches. Offshore, aquatic adventures beckon, including top-notch diving, snorkeling and sailing.
The main bure is the hub of rest, relaxation and fun with a series of poolside areas perfectly designated for time spent lying on day beds (either pre or post a dip in the infinity pool), or for alfresco dining. Casual groups of plantation-style chairs and soft feather-filled sofas beckon, as one day draws seamlessly into the next. As the last rays of the sun catch on the tips of the palm trees and sink into the ocean, the open veranda, with its banks of bi-fold doors offers the perfect venue for a tropical cocktail or a glass or two of chilled wine.
The guest bure suites are perfect for a tropical lifestyle – featuring heart timber floors, plaster walls, stone tiles, wooden shutters, high ceilings and the latest in air conditioned comfort. Fine pure cotton bed linen and soft feather pillows are perfectly suited to the climate and The Huka Retreats famed attention to detail is strongly evident within this haven of relaxation and romance.
The dressing rooms are large and generous and these are further complemented by well-appointed bathrooms, twin hand basins, shower, sculptural free-standing bath and outdoor shower, within a private garden courtyard.
For total romance, guests can take an easy stroll to the top of the island where the hilltop sleep-out bure awaits. This utterly divine, thatched open-air bedroom is rustic and refined, perfect for an overnight stay!
The ultimate barefoot beach paradise destination, Vamizi’s Private Villa Collection has been designed by South African architects who have are renowned for their commitment to creative design, sustainable development and responsible tourism, creating a unique style of architecture that draws on the multi-cultural influences of Mozambique. The Vamizi Villas are two brand new private villas, each with five en-suite bedrooms, a sweeping private deck for utter relaxation, and direct beach access for those wishing to dip their toes – and more – in the sparkling blue waters of the Indian Ocean.
As with Vamizi Island lodge the service is impeccable, the food is surf-fresh and delicious and your days are your own to choose what you wish to do. Each villa has its personal hospitality team, on hand to talk you through all your options – from exciting and adventurous scuba diving and big game fishing to the more relaxing beach picnics, dhow excursions and whale watching (at certain times of the year). Other activities on offer include snorkelling, salt-water fly-fishing, mountain bike trails and bird walks. The local guides are very happy to lead fascinating walks to explore the island and find monkeys or birds.
Exclusive to the Vamizi Private Villa Collection is the Vamizi Retreats. On selected dates through the year, a four night retreat is offered, led by yoga instructor Claire Finlay. These are the ultimate in get-away-from-it-all relaxation, and are designed to rejuvenate both body and soul. In addition to morning and afternoon yoga sessions guests will enjoy a diving trip, a fishing trip and a luxurious massage during their stay. The perfect option for those wishing to retreat from everyday life, and spend a luxurious few days – guests are guaranteed to leave reinvigorated!
Book your luxury vacation getaway from here.
Dusit Thani Maldives blends graceful Thai hospitality with the unparalleled luxury setting of the beautiful Maldives. Encircled by white sandy beaches, a rich house reef and turquoise lagoon, the resort on Mudhdhoo Island hosts 100 villas and residences. The resort features Beach Villas, Beach Villas with Pool, Lagoon Villas with Pool, Ocean Villas with Pool, and the exclusive Ocean Pavilions and Beach Residences, all offering a haven of modern sophistication with luxurious amenities and technology.
Dusit Thani Maldives fuses a fine selection of restaurants with uncompromising service and spectacular views. Retreat from the midday heat to enjoy poolside snacks. The Sala Bar is perfect for watching the sunset or star gazing. Elevated in a grove of coconut palm trees, Dusit’s signature Devarana Spa is one of a kind in the Maldives. Devarana Spa features six tree-top treatment pods nestled in to enhance the spa journey.
Located near Hanifaru Huraa, a UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve renowned as a feeding ground for manta rays and whale sharks, Dusit Thani Maldives offers guests diving and snorkeling; a 750 square meter swimming pool – the largest in the Maldives; fully-equipped fitness studio with personal trainer and yoga instructor; resident marine biologist; children’s play area and club facility; library with internet stations; and island boutiques.
Singita Serengeti House, an exclusive-use retreat designed for families and friends, has opened in the 350,000-acre Grumeti Reserves in the heart of the Serengeti in northern Tanzania. Located on the slopes of Sasakwa Hill with breathtaking vistas of the endless, open plains of the Serengeti, the house is Singita’s response to a growing demand from discerning travelers for privacy and flexibility. Top South Africa design team, Cécile & Boyd’s, crafted the exquisite interiors.
While what lies outside is rather spectacular, the interiors of Singita Serengeti House are also something to behold. Throughout the house, ample indoor and outdoor lounging and dining areas, all with uninterrupted views, provide relaxing spaces for guests to truly immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding landscape while enjoying each other’s company. A cool neutral palette of subtle, sun-bleached colors mimics the Serengeti grass plains, bringing the outside in.
The house accommodates eight people in two suites in the main house and two further guest suites on either side of the main house, connected by pathways from a central pool deck with a 25-metre rim-flow lap pool. There is also a private tennis court, mountain biking and archery.
Early morning and late-afternoon game drives may be interspersed with vigorous swims or lazing around the pool with a good book, a game of tennis, a cooking lesson in the private kitchen from the resident chef, spa treatments or mountain biking. Making it up as one goes along is part of the magic of taking up residence at Singita Serengeti House. There is a waterhole right in front of the house, which is a favorite drinking spot for general plains game as well as a breeding herd of elephant.
Mirror is used throughout the house to maximize light and space. Humble materials in natural fibres, rattan, grass matting, polished cement floors, bleached, raw timbers and local stones bring an honest, earthy feel to the understatedly glamorous, boldly proportioned, light-saturated rooms curated with a modern African art collection by Kurt Pio and Sarah Pratt, artifacts and objects, and anthropologically relevant tribal sculpture. All the decorative pieces were designed and commissioned or sourced by Cécile & Boyd’s, including witty eye-catching paper-mâché hunting trophies and leather thong chandeliers inspired by Masai skirts.
All the suites have spacious bathrooms designed as luxurious extensions to the bedroom and living areas, with outdoor showers and private terraces.
On the Southern Caribbean Coast of Costa Rica you’ll find the jewel Tree House Lodge in the Gandoca Manzanillo Refuge. The complex is located on a 10 acre ocean front property in the famous Punta Uva beach, just south of Puerto Viejo in the province of Limon. This beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Total privacy, a natural tranquil atmosphere, and full relaxation are keywords for the time you will spend at the tree house. With your own beach access and 300 meter private beach front, you won’t have to meet anybody else during your stay at this romantic hideaway. They have a one of a kind botanical garden boasting over 50 different palm trees, and the largest Heliconia collection in the area attracting many exotic birds.
The Tree House, built on tall stilts, is a back-to-your-childhood house submerged by forest, with a sloped wooden suspension bridge leading steeply to its front door. Inside it’s split level: upstairs, has a bed and a small en-suite bathroom; downstairs, are two more bedrooms and a kitchen. All of the furniture is hand carved sustainable wood, windows are open but screened against bugs, while scarlet Birds of Paradise flowers provide splashes of color. The shared bathroom is on ground level where there is a fabulous 100-year-old Sangrillo tree which shelters a toilet in one trunk fold, an outdoor shower in another and a mirror is framed with seashells.
Rooms start at $200 per night (without taxes and fees) based on two people staying together, from here.
Tucked away in the Tuscan hillside not far from the cultural centers of Florence and Siena, Borgo Santo Pietro is a luxurious thirteenth century private retreat set within 13 acres of enchanting gardens. A resting place for pilgrims en route to Rome 800 years ago, this ancient site continues to provide sanctuary to its guests today. Elegant and sympathetically designed interiors and grounds provide the perfect setting to experience sheer indulgence.
All of the rooms are unique and have been created to reflect authentic luxurious Italian style that gives the guests the sense of staying at an exclusive, ancient country villa. With fifteen guest room, eight of which are suites, each room provides a sitting area and a view to remember. The extensive grounds at Borgo Santo Pietro include an orchard, organic fruits and vegetable garden, tranquil lawns and a beautiful pool as well as a tennis court, basketball court and a bocce pitch for the more active guests. A playground is set away from the peaceful seclusion of the garden.
Innovative, world class cuisine created from the villa’s private organic gardens, a velar of fine international and Italian wines, spa treatments, impeccable service and passionate attention to details are set in a refreshingly relaxed and intimate environment. Borgo Santo Pietro offers ultimate quality with the personal touch for truly exclusive escape in the breathtaking surroundings of Tuscany.
Prices for guest rooms range from $488.79 – $1,166.58 per night, from here.
A beautiful timber residence in the mountainous region of Leis, Switzerland has become available to rent. For the first time ever, Peter and Annalisa Zumthor are opening up one of their cozy holiday homes in this quiet hamlet to the public, enabling them to rent The Unterhus for weeks at a time. The owners, Peter and Annalisa Zumthor describe their project: “In 2009 we built two timber houses, the Oberhus and the Unterhus, in the hamlet of Leis, just over 1,500m above sea level in the community of Vals in Grisons. From 1 December 2012 onward we are letting out the Unterhus for vacations. A third timber house, the Turmlihus, will soon complete this little ensemble. The Turmlihus will welcome its first guests in autumn 2013. We are very much looking forward to having guests in our timber vacation homes in Leis.”
To rent one of the Zumthor Ferienhäuser holiday homes, prices range from CHF 3,500 to CHF 4,800 per week, from here.
A tiny hamlet of around 20 people, Leis is a remote community set in the soaring mountains of Vals, south-east Switzerland. During the winter months, the area is doused in thick snow with opportunities to ski or gather round the fire of Leis’ only inn, whilst in the warmer seasons two families tend the mountain meadows.
The timber-clad Unterhus property has four-and-a-half rooms and sleeps four to five. With a total area of 150 square meters, it extends over three floors with the top floor advertised as ‘an enclosed viewing platform with a balcony facing southwest’. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides provide uninterrupted views across the mountainous landscape, also viewable from the southwest-facing bedroom on the middle floor.
There are two bedrooms to choose from, one with a king-size bed and the other with two generous single beds which can be pushed together to form a double. A writing desk and day bed occupy the study which can be used as a workspace or additional bedroom, and the lounge on the top floor features a traditional wood-burning soapstone stove for added warmth.
The Türmlihus, which will take in its first guests in the autumn of 2013, has three-and-a-half rooms and sleeps four. With a total area of 128 square meters, it extends across three floors. Both houses have furniture and designer lighting. The kitchens are fully equipped, including an Italian coffee machine, steamer, fondue set, and raclette grill. Each house is fully equipped with all of the modern electronic amenities one could possibly need.