Not all who wander are lost

Not all who wander are lost

Upscale locations for destination weddings


By Jeri Clausing

Like most things luxury, the focus in weddings has become about unique experiences, both for the happy couple and their guests. And whether a soon-to-be bride and groom are looking for an urban setting or a unique beach experience, luxury hotels are raising the bar on destination wedding packages.
For couples looking for the ultimate seaside ceremony, the Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru  has just unveiled a floating wedding pavilion in the midst of the Baa Atoll, a Unesco biosphere reserve.
Accessible only by boat, the freestanding, pillared structure with vaulted ceiling has a shimmering titanium-polished concrete floor with a glass-bottom "aisle" above a turtle enclosure. It also has folding floor-to-ceiling glass doors on three sides that open onto timber decking. It can hold up to 24 guests.
In Cape Town, South Africa, the Twelve Apostles Hotel and Spa offers exotic options, from fairy tale weddings for up to 80 guests to midweek getaways for smaller wedding parties that include the ceremony and legal arrangements, indigenous flowers, a small wedding cake, rose petal turndown with sparkling wine and a set of embroidered towels with the couple’s initials. The wedding packages start at $645, in addition to the room rate, with a two-night minimum stay.
Consistently ranked as one of Africa’s top luxury hotels, the Red Carnation-run Twelve Apostles offers a romantic venue overlooking edge of the Atlantic Ocean and Table Mountain National Park.
For couples seeking the urban wedding experience, Denver’s JW Marriott, the only luxury hotel in Denver’s tony Cherry Creek shopping and dining district,  is offering one couple the opportunity to become its “Wedding Couple of the Year.”
Photo Credit: A wedding couple at the JW Marriott Denver
The package, which will only be available to one couple, with a price tag ranging from $25,0000 for 100 guests to $35,000 for 150, includes the wedding reception with plated dinner and open bar, a wedding-night suite, a discounted room block for guests and assistance though the entire planning process. But VIP perks include pre-wedding massages, free valet parking at the hotel for a year, a $1,000 spa credit for pre-wedding pampering, up to 150,000 Marriott points the couple can use for their  honeymoon and a complimentary stay on the couple’s first anniversary.


The 10 best luxury ski resorts


Palatial chalets, private mountain luxury, gourmet restaurants, sophisticated towns and immaculate slopes – we present 10 upmarket resorts that are a cut above
By Gabriella Le Breton
1. Montafon, Austria
Burgeoning luxury in an off-piste paradise
With magnificent views and above average snowfall, the Montafon valley in Austria’s Vorarlberg region is making a name for itself. Surrounded by the towering Silvretta, Verwall and Rätikon mountain ranges, Montafon envelops 11 villages. The four main ones – Schruns, Gaschurn, Silbertal and St Gallenkirch – give access to the the region’s largest single ski area, Silvretta Montafon, with 140km of pistes. The total ski area, covering 225km of piste, is mostly red and blue runs, but has world-class off piste, including some of Europe’s best ski touring.
Blossoming luxury
Schruns is the main village, with the most hotels – including two four-stars – restaurants and shops, as well as direct access to Silvretta Montafon and another smaller ski area called Golm, with 43km of pistes. The village of Gaschurn is home to the region’s smartest new hotel, MOLodge, and offers direct access to Silvretta Montafon, as well as the Silvretta-Bielerhöhe area, mainly for ski touring itineraries.
Earn your turns
Montafon is good for tranquil family holidays but since Silvretta Montafon hosted an event on the 2015 Freeride World Tour qualifying circuit, its reputation as a freeride and touring destination has grown.
In a sport where virgin powder is increasingly hard to find, Montafon also offers the luxury of lots of challenging, untouched off piste. Silvretta Montafon offers bags of playful terrain, and there’s also lift-accessed freeriding at Gargellen. This is Montafon’s highest village and home to 32km of pistes and the Nidla off-piste route, which is legendary for its length and consistent pitch.
On piste, Montafon’s steepest is the black Diablo, a 30-degree corker at Golm. And Snowpark Montafon in Silvretta Montafon is Austria’s largest terrain park, with over 40 kickers, rails and boxes. A Montafon lift pass covers the whole region plus Brandertal, with a further 64km of pistes.
MOLodge spa area
Where to stay
The four-star MOLodge has 26 stylish rooms, a spa and a Gault Millau toque-rated restaurant. Located in the centre of Gaschurn, it’s near the Silvretta Montafon access lift. Half board in a double room costs from €165per person per night (molodge.at).
2. Courchevel 1850, France

Unabashed glitz in Europe’s largest linked ski area
There are four options for staying in Courchevel – Le Praz at 1300, Village at 1550, Moriond at 1650 and Courchevel at 1850. Prices escalate as altitude increases, reaching astronomic levels at Jardin Alpin, the enclave of swanky chalets served by its own lift on the slopes above the highest resort. Courchevel 1850 is the winter home of glamour, caviar and excess. We might balk at the prices but it’s hard to fault the well-groomed pistes, efficient lifts and multilingual instructors, who are adept at handholding and ego-massaging.
Hedonism on snow
Packed with ultra-luxury chalets, Michelin-starred restaurants and swanky clubs, Courchevel 1850 is the undisputed hot spot for glossy celebrities to ski and be seen. High rollers can splash out £50,000 a week for a chalet, feast on oysters and then pop cases of Cristal at Le Mangeoire’s glamorous piano bar. If you must descend to Courchevel Moriond, keep the glamour alive at the four-star Portetta hotel, the snowy sibling of the UK’s Pig hotels.
Gentle, manicured slopes
One of the world’s largest ski areas, the Trois Valleés offers 600km of pistes linked by 165 lifts. It’s all accessible from Courchevel but for beginners and early intermediates the 150km of local slopes provide ample entertainment, with some challenging off-piste terrain too.
The Courchevel valley is ringed by four main mountains – Col de la Loze, Saulire, Chanrossa and Signal. Col de la Loze’s gently wooded slopes are ideal in bad weather while Saulire is the largest and busiest, with lots of red and blue pistes including the long, wide Combe de la Saulire red and the Courchevel couloirs under the cable car. The blues and reds of Chanrossa and Signal are usually quieter than the other areas.
Where to stay
The five-star Cheval Blanc in Jardin Alpin has 36 sumptuously decorated rooms and suites. There’s also a two Michelin-starred restaurant, Guerlain spa, chic White Bar and a cigar lounge. The Oxford Ski Company (oxfordski.com) has packages from £4,555 including private transfers.
3. Cortina, Italy
A bubble of Italian exuberance and jaw-dropping scenery
Set in a granite amphitheatre created by the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo is blessed with one of the most beautiful backdrops of any resort in the world. Less than 50km as the crow flies from Austria, it’s undeniably Italian yet thoroughly South Tirolean, imbued with Italian and German influences, as well as the ancient native Ladin culture. Cortina’s slopes are best suited to intermediates, though many visitors prefer to shop for fur, antiques and jewellery, go ice-skating, snowshoeing, sledging or watch the many sporting and cultural events hosted during the winter.
When in Rome
Cortina can appear impervious to the pressure on resorts to renovate dated hotels and replace old lift systems. A laid-back attitude is required to truly love it – from its confusing one-way traffic system to the somewhat chaotic buses that link its ski areas.
Adopting the local pace of life requires minimal effort as you join fur-clad Italians in their ritual passeggiata (evening stroll) along Cortina’s main promenade, the Corso Italia. Dominated by an elegant green and white campanile (bell tower), the Corso is flanked by candle-lit restaurants, intimate wine bars and chic boutiques. Locals stop and chat outside the Co-op general store, duck into the Enoteca wine bar for apéritifs and enjoy late suppers at the chic converted hay barn that is El Toula.
Scenic blues and reds
For all its gloss, Cortina is, at heart, a mountaineering town, as confirmed by the magnificent granite spires Cortina Italy towering above it. The ski area is divided into four sectors which, though not linked, are close to each other and accessed by free shuttle bus. The town itself has two lifts, one giving access to the Faloria sector, and the other to Tofana. Cinque Torri and Lagazuoi are two smaller areas. Each sector is very different in terms of terrain, elevation and aspect, making for truly varied slopes.
The majority of them are ideal for intermediates although beginners will flourish on the tree-lined blues of Socrepes in Tofana, and Mietres in Faloria. Advanced terrain comes in the form of some challenging blacks (notably Forcella Staunies, a wide colouir at the top of the Faloria sector) and little-known off-piste revealed by local guides.
Where to stay
One of Cortina’s two five-star hotels, the Cristallo Hotel Spa & Golf is set in private gardens a few minutes from resort, with a free shuttle into town and to the lifts. Decorated in the Gustavian style of hand-painted woodwork, it's all about old-school glamour. Ski Solutions (skisolutions.com) has b&b packages from £1,480 including flights and transfers.
4. Eagle Point Resort, Utah, USA
Private mountain luxury and powder heaven
There are few mountains out there you can book for exclusive use, but Eagle Point Resort in Utah is one of the best, and most affordable. From Tuesday to Thursday (except for Christmas and New Year), up to 200 guests can have Eagle Point’s 600 acres of terrain (including five lifts and 400 pistes) and ski-in/ski-out accommodation to themselves. Plus the resort receives more than Utah’s average 11.5m of snow each winter.
Small and mighty
Resort accommodation comprises 120 cabins and condominiums. There are two lodges – Canyonside and Skyline – with a restaurant each, while Canyonside has a bar, disco, grocery and rental shops as well as outdoor hot tubs.
The nearest town is Beaver, just under 30km away; Las Vegas is three and a half hours’ drive away. Booking Eagle Point exclusively costs $10,000 per day, which sounds steep but between 200, it’s just $50 per person and includes equipment rental.
Utah’s big little secret
Eagle Point’s five lifts connect two mountains, the higher of which offers sunny, tree-lined green and blue runs. The second is a long ridge that runs above a neighbouring lake, with black diamond runs, such as Hoodoos and Donner’s Descent, which drop more than 450 vertical metres at a consistently steep pitch to the resort base. The Lookout hut on the ridge serves warming hot chocolate before the plunge down.
Eagle Point has five backcountry gates, giving access to untouched terrain – as long as you have a guide and avalanche safety equipment. It links straight back to the resort. For something more gentle, a local favourite is a 2.4km top to bottom combination of runs – Big Horn,Tunnel Vision and Narrows.
Where to stay
The Village Condos are around the base village, strolling distance from Canyonside Lodge. Sleeping from one to 10 guests, all have fully equipped kitchens. Accommodation is booked through the resort (eaglepointresort.com), costing from $72 per night for a double bedroom apartment, plus a one-off $30 cleaning fee.
5. Lech Zürs, Austria
All the frills plus exceptional snowfall
Marketed as one, Lech and Zürs are two of the world’s most exclusive resorts, with 10 five-star and 75 four-star hotels between them, as well as the world’s most expensive chalet, Chalet N in Oberlech, a traffic-free enclave accessible by cable car from Lech. High up in the Arlberg region, the villages attract the rich and famous not just because of their opulent hotels but also for the well-groomed slopes, extensive off piste and exceptional snow.On average, Lech receives more than 7m of snow a year, while Zürs receives nearly 12m.
Mountain charm
Lech is the epitome of Alpine charm, complete with ancient timber chalets, a meandering river and onion-domed church. In addition to smart hotels, lively bars and more award-winning restaurants than any other village in Austria, Lech is home to the Strolz department store, where a pair of bespoke ski boots costs about €800. Smaller, newer and higher than Lech, Zürs is a romantic smattering of luxurious hotels and restaurants.
Ski the White Ring
Separate but linked, Lech and Zürs are part of the 350km of pistes that make up the Arlberg ski region. All are covered by the lift pass, but many guests stay close to home as the grooming of local slopes is superior.
The 22.5km Weisse Rausch (White Ring) circuit is popular with intermediates, who can follow blue and red pistes in a loop around Zürs, Oberlech and Lech over the course of a day. Lech Zürs also offers some of the region’s best off piste, with powder stashes off the top of Zürs’ Trittkopf mountain, into the hamlet of Zug, where a chairlift returns to above Oberlech.
Where to stay
The four-star Hotel Gotthard in Lech has large, bright and tasteful rooms and there’s an extensive wellness area with an indoor pool. Crystal Ski Holidays (crystalski.co.uk) has packages from £1,219, including airport lounge access.
6. Megève, France
Suave sliding and a sophisticated town
In 1914, Baroness Noémie de Rothschild decided that France should have its own St Moritz and set about transforming the Savoyard farming village of Megève into a glamorous holiday destination. It remains the epitome of aristo chic. Glittering boutiques, snazzy restaurants and lavish hotels line the ancient cobbled streets and town square. Above the town, gently undulating slopes provide flattering pistes that make everybody look, and feel, great.
Gourmet cuisine and scenic surroundings
Just one hour’s drive from Geneva, Megève is encircled by wooded pastures that lead up to impressive mountains looking on to Mont Blanc. It’s home to seven five-star hotels, one three-Michelin-starred restaurant and four that have one Michelin star, as well as several of the world’s finest mountain spas.
Dotted around the hills above town are some of the most sumptuous chalets in the Alps but if you want – and can afford – to stay in them ask nicely, as their private owners carefully vet potential guests.
Low and gentle
Megève’s slopes are extensive and ideal for beginners and intermediates, with predominantly gentle pitches and plenty of tree-lined runs for low visibility days. At the top of the Mont Joux lift there’s table-top dancing at the new Folie Douce restaurant and après bar, which has spectacular views of Mont Blanc.
Megève has three main ski areas, Rochebrune, Mont d’Arbois and the quiet Le Jaillet, all of which are reached by different cable cars from the town. Megève’s lifts are now owned by the Compagnie du Mont Blanc, which operates Chamonix’s lift system, meaning visitors can buy a Mont Blanc Unlimited lift pass, and access nearby Les Contamines, as well as the separate resorts of Chamonix, Courmayeur and Verbier. This is handy early and late in the season, when low-lying Megève can suffer from unreliable snow cover.
Where to stay
Part of Sibuet’s stable of properties, Les Fermes de Marie is a collection of restored old timber chalets comprising cosy rooms and suites, two restaurants and the original cowshed-chic Alpine spa, L’Altitude. Scott Dunn (scottdunn.com) offers packages from £2,070, including private airport transfers.
7. Klosters, Switzerland
Discreet luxury with extensive, barely touched off piste
Loved by the rich and royal, yet with only a sprinkling of fancy chalets and gourmet restaurants, Klosters oozes authentic charm and remains low-key. There are no five-star hotels but there is a kebab shop. The most popular stores are Co-op and Gotschna Sport, where a range of fat skis and touring equipment nods at the impressive off-piste terrain that lies on Klosters’ doorstep.
By royal approval
Prince Charles is such a loyal fan that a chairlift is unofficially named after him and Wills and Kate shared their first public kiss here. Yet it’s rumoured that the party scene is too tame for Harry, mostly involving après beers at Gaudy’s Graströchni umbrella bar, on the foot of the slopes. This is followed by cocktails in the piano bar of Hotel Chesa Grischuna and dancing at the pub-like Casa Antica in the town.
For many, sunny afternoons are spent sleeping off long lunches in sheepskin-clad deck chairs outside the Berghaus Alte Schwendi – a cluster of huts by red piste 10.
The plush chalets around Klosters are discreet, focusing on simple luxuries like fire-warmed dining rooms rather than home cinemas.
King of off piste
People come to Klosters for the slopes, rather than to be seen. In addition to the acres of varied and accessible off piste, Klosters shares 300km of pistes with neighbouring Davos. Short hikes into the backcountry are rewarded with long runs that start in powder bowls and end in sleepy hamlets.
The slopes are spread across five mountains – Parsenn and Madrisa are accessed from Klosters. Parsenn, with its long red and black pistes, is the largest ski area, and also links Klosters to Davos; Madrisa’s blues and gentle reds are ideal for learners. From Davos, the separate ski areas of Little Pischa, billed as the secret freeriding mountain and Jakobshorn, are reached by gondola. The fifth area, Rinerhorn, is good for families and rated by locals for off piste.
Where to stay
The cosy, wood-panelled three-star Chesa Grischuna is a five-minute walk to the Klosters cable car. Previous guests include Winston Churchill, Audrey Hepburn and Prince Charles. PT Ski (ptski.com) has packages from £1,300, including ski hosting and concierge service.
8. Beaver Creek, Colorado, USA
Pampering service for skiers and snowboarders
“It’s not exactly roughing it.” Beaver Creek’s slogan says it all. This resort delivers remarkable levels of service, including covered moving walkways to the lifts, staff to carry your gear and free freshly baked cookies served daily at 3pm. It also has manicured corduroy pistes, the only regular men’s World Cup Downhill course in the US, Birds of Prey, and acres of accessible yet challenging terrain.
Purpose-built convenience
The resort has three hubs – Beaver Creek Village, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead, linked by lift and shuttle bus. The villages have direct access to the lifts and diverse shopping, accommodation and dining options. There’s even a free Dial-A-Ride bus service around the three hubs.
Beaver Creek Village is the main hub, with the most hotels, condos and restaurants as well as an ice rink, day care and rental shops. Bachelor Gulch is anchored around the five-star Ritz-Carlton hotel while Arrowhead Village is mostly private and rental homes.
Groomers galore
Beaver Creek’s ski area spans the three mountains after which the base hubs are named, plus Grouse Mountain and Larkspur Bowl, both between Beaver Creek and Bachelor Gulch moutains, and all areas are lift linked. Extensive beginner and intermediate slopes criss-cross Bachelor Gulch, Arrowhead and the top of Beaver Creek Mountain - from here down to its base is a huge 1,018 vertical metres. Grouse Mountain and Larkspur Bowl offer black diamond runs and powdery glades.
So you never “rough it”, Guest Service Ambassadors are always on hand to carry kit, offer tips on the best places to go, provide free sun cream and snacks, and host mountain tours – including some just for women.
Where to stay
The 45-room, four-star Osprey is a stone’s throw from the Strawberry Park Express chairlift in Beaver Creek Village. This fine boutique hotel has all the bells and whistles you’d expect – ski valet, 24-hour room service, a pool and spa. Ski Independence (ski-i.com) has b&b packages with flights and transfers from £1,820.
9. Baqueira Beret, Spain
Sunny, snowy and swish, with varied slopes
Snow and heliskiing might not leap to mind when considering Spain. However, the sophisticated town of Baqueira Beret is the Pyrenees’ only Atlantic-facing resort and it benefits from weather patterns that see it doused in more snow than many better-known European resorts. Add to that diverse terrain, no lift queues and some of Europe’s cheapest heliskiing and it’s little wonder King Juan Carlos of Spain built a mansion here.
The secret’s out
Although low-key b&bs and locals’ tapas bars still abound in the sleepy medieval hamlets around the main town of Baqueira, swanky new hotels such as the five-star Val de Neu are springing up, complete with facilities like their own gondolas and chairlifts, lavish spas, hip bars and discos. Be ready to set the body clock to Spanish time – locals hit the slopes after 10.30am, take a late lunch, then tapas and a siesta before dinner at 10pm, primed to hit the nightclubs at 2am.
Affordable heliskiing
Baqueira Beret’s ski area is spread across three main zones, Baqueira, Beret and Bonaigua, which are linked by an efficient lift system. Intermediates thrive on the many blue and red runs, which are complemented by challenging black pistes and five unpisted marked itineraries. There are acres of off-piste terrain in the Bonaigua and Beret sectors, including some tree runs around Lac de Baciver.
Baqueira Beret offers inexpensive heliskiing (from €290 per person for two drops). Splash the cash you’ve saved on the chopper on après drinks at the Louis Roederer Champagne Terrace of the five-star Val de Neu, near the Esquiros ski lift.
Where to stay
The five-star Val de Neu is every inch the slick, contemporary luxury hotel. A snowball’s throw from the lift, it has a spa and four restaurants, including one where children eat under the supervision of staff. Kaluma Travel (kalumatravel.co.uk) offers b&b packages from £1,355 excluding flights and transfers.
10. Gstaad, Switzerland
A cultured town with slopes served on the side
Since the Sixties Gstaad has been the home and playground of authors, artists, silver-screen stars and James Bond (well, Sir Roger Moore). Despite offering extensive terrain, many visitors pay only passing homage to the slopes, preferring to stroll Gstaad’s fairy light-bestrewn streets or attend the high-brow concerts, recitals and art gallery events that take place throughout winter.
Designer destination
Hunkered down in the Saanen valley and surrounded by mountains, Gstaad lies in the heart of farming country. But weather-worn timber chalets aside, the upmarket hotels and designer boutiques lining its main promenade (Chanel, Marc Jacobs, Cartier and Louis Vuitton to name but a few) reflect its sophisticated nature.
Rarely a month goes by without an impressive festival or event, from the New Year Music Festival and Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad winter music series to the Hublot Winter Polo Gold Cup and Hot Air Ballooning week.
Join the glitterati sipping bellinis at the Gstaad Palace Hotel or go new school, dining on gourmet burgers and knocking back Bellevue Smash cocktails in Le Grand Bellevue hotel.
Gently does it
With 220km of pistes, Gstaad has much to offer. Most of the pistes are blues and gentle reds, ideal for beginners and families. The terrain is incredibly scenic, with lost-in-time Alpine villages and red trains straight out of a vintage Swiss tourism poster to take you from village to village. The local Gstaad-Zweisimmen-Rougemont ski area with 150km of pistes is made up of five separate hills. All are covered by the Top Card lift pass, along with nearby Château d’Oex’s 30km of runs and more distant Glacier 3000 at Les Diablerets, with 25km.
Homberg is the largest of the local ski areas, with 85km of runs, followed by Eggli on the opposite side of the village, which has 50km of runs. They are connected by free shuttle bus, as are the smaller local hills of Wispile, Wasserngrat and Rellerli. Given that many visitors prefer to eschew the mountain altogether, or relax on the sunny terraces of restaurants such as the Sixties-chic Saanewald Lodge and the modern chalet-style Hamilton Lodge (both in Hornberg), the slopes are usually quiet.
Other than Glacier 3000, many of Gstaad’s slopes are low-lying, making snow cover unreliable. If you’re desperate for fresh powder, arrange a day’s heliskiing with Swiss Helicopter (swisshelicopter.ch).
Where to stay

Le Grand Bellevue is what happens when the young new owners of a grand old Gstaad hotel inject it with Soho House style, add a casual Michelin-starred restaurant, a cool bar with a 17m-long Chesterfield, a sushi bar and a world-class spa. Camel Snow (camelsnow.com) has b&b packages from CHF2,825, including private transfers but excluding flights.

Top 10 luxury 5 star resorts for families in Europe


by Lisa Reeves

What do we look for when recommending resorts for families?
Facilities – a good mix of activities for children of all ages from excellent kids club programs for the younger guests to more adventurous for teenagers
Type of accommodation – interconnecting and family suites located on the lower floors, preferably ground floor
Food – excellent dining options including kids menus , buffets, a variety of board options including all-inclusive
Location – good flight times and location in proximity to the airport and of course close to or on the beach
Price – value for money – not cheap, but a genuine feeling of 'I am really getting what I have paid for'
Take a look at some of our most popular family resorts:

1. Gloria Golf & Serenity Resorts in Turkey – both 5 star resorts, located side by side, fabulous all-inclusive concept available and boasts it's very own waterpark, amphitheatre and bowling alley. Choose from the hotel or in-resort villas. Prices start at £737pp half board including flights and transfers.

2. La Manga Club Resort in Spain, voted safest resort in Europe. Features 28 tennis courts, 3 championship golf courses, football, cricket and dance academies plus a wide variety of accommodation options from a 5 star hotel at the heart of the resort to hundreds of individual private villas, townhouses and apartments located throughout. Hotel prices start at just £559pp B&B including flights and transfers.

3. Sheraton Algarve & Pine Cliffs Residences in the Algarve – appealing to families with children of all ages. Superb kids club and facilities like the 18 hole mini-golf course. A variety of excellent restaurants and different accommodation types to suit all family types and sizes. Plus the launch of a brand new development of luxury suites in June 2016! Prices start at £597pp including flights and transfers.

4. Martinhal Beach Resort Hotel & Villas in the Algarve – a superb resort for families with children of all ages. The main hotel features 37 rooms within the main hotel complex, as well as 116 'village' houses and a wide range of villas, including around 20 luxury villas that can accommodate large groups of family and friends (they can include their own pools). Prices start at £741pp B&B including flights and private transfers.

5. Ikos Olivia in Halkidiki, Greece – a top class luxury resort which only opened this year and has already amassed a strong following. Ultra-luxury all-inclusive concept with a brilliant range of activities for children including 'Babewatch' - parents can enjoy some downtime for 30 minutes on the beach whilst children are kept occupied at the resorts own beachside tent, with activities provided. Prices start at £585pp all-inclusive including flights and private transfers.

6. Porto Elounda Golf & Spa Resort, Crete –a superb resort for families in a stunning setting. Activity clubs available from Crèche to Teenagers offering an excellent mix of activities including dancing lessons and an Arsenal Soccer School Camp. Prices start from £754pp B&B including flights and transfers.

7. Marbella Corfu, Corfu – a tranquil resort, amazingly packed with facilities and activities for the whole family including 6 restaurants, 5 swimming pools and kids clubs starting as young as 4 months! Prices start from £404pp half board including flights and transfers.

8. Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa, Marbella, Spain – an exclusive resort ideal for families and couples offering a superb range of accommodation types. 4 excellent restaurants, including the renowned Namazake Japanese. Prices start from £808pp B&B including flights and transfers.

9. Gran Hotel Bahai del Duque Resort, Costa Adeje, Tenerife – impeccable service, high standard of accommodation and on-resort activities for children and parents! Prices start from £829pp B&B including flights and transfers.

10. Gran Hotel Atlantis Bahia Real, Fuerteventura, Canaries – boasting the best beach in the Canaries, this award winning resort features excellent family accommodation including spacious Junior Suites to accommodate whole families or interconnecting rooms. There is a children's pool and dedicated menus as well as a varied programme of events at the kids club. Prices start from £695pp B&B including flights and transfers.

Please note, these are guide prices and are subject to change; prices may vary due to fluctuations in flight and hotel availability, and exchange rate. Terms & conditions apply.

Call our experienced team of Resort Experts who have personally visited and vetted all these featured resorts on 01625 865071 or visit our website at www.justresorts.co.uk.

I have found


 
 
I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them. Mark Twain

In Fort Lauderdale, an Upscale Shift Takes Hold


by Jessica Montevago
Fort Lauderdale has transformed itself from the Spring  Break hot spot it was 20 years ago to a high-end resort town.
“It’s a rebirth,” said Nicki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, largely fueled by an influx of affluent residents and travelers flocking to the area. Broward County has seen a record-breaking 14.3 million tourists this year, and expects to see 15 million in 2016.
Fort Lauderdale offers the same beachfront views as Miami for less, creating an incentive for developers to bring their business to the area. “It’s the same Atlantic Ocean, just more affordable,” Grossman said. The higher room rates in Miami, which is about half an hour away, are largely due to its branding as an exclusive high-end destination, where Fort Lauderdale traditionally sold its brand as “casually chic.”
Shifting toward an upscale market
Moving away from its reputation as a college party town didn’t happen overnight; just 20 years ago that image deterred corporations and luxury brands from calling Fort Lauderdale home. But, Grossman said, “the tourism product matured and elevated, after a multi-industry and countywide effort.”
Over the past decade Fort Lauderdale and Broward County have become more appealing to travelers, corporate headquarters began relocating, and the growing conference and incentive-travel business spurred additional growth.
More than $1 billion is currently being invested in new hotels and condos, including unique boutique properties along a beachfront that’s less chaotic than Palm Beach or Miami. Upscale hotels like the W and Ritz Carlton already are open, and in the pipeline are a Four Seasons, a 96-room luxury Gale Boutique Hotel, and a Conrad resort. Hotel occupancy in the area is at an all-time high, around 78%, according to PKF Consulting USA.
Keeping up with demand, the county is expanding its infrastructure and transportation systems. Part of that plan includes a $2 billion expansion of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, adding more runways, gate space, and lobby space. The seaport and convention center will be expanded as well.
A privately funded rapid rail system running from Miami to Orlando, making stops at Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, is slated to be completed by next year. That convenient and fast connection among Florida’s most popular cities will be a big draw to foreign tourists, Grossman said, and likely will pull some of the massive numbers of Orlando visitors south to Fort Lauderdale.
Appealing to niche markets
Part of Fort Lauderdale’s success can be credited to its broad appeal to several different markets. For families, Fort Lauderdale is the trip they take “after they see Mickey Mouse, to see the real Florida.” The annual average family income of travelers this year was $112,000, up from about $90,000 in previous years, Grossman said. With multigenerational travel becoming increasingly popular, this market is only expected to grow in the coming years.
Another niche market being explored is the LGBT community. Last year alone, the city saw more than 1.3 million lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender visitors. Grossman said the city will begin an “aggressive marketing campaign,” though she declined to share details other than to say,  “We want to expand with that market as it grows toward family travel.”

The Upscale Traveler: One of the World’s Top Chefs Created Gourmet Food ...

The Upscale Traveler: One of the World’s Top Chefs Created Gourmet Food ...: By Joanna Fantozzi BBC The latest project for Heston Blumenthal, owner of The Fat Duck in Berkshire, is not just out of the bo...

One of the World’s Top Chefs Created Gourmet Food for the International Space Station Heston Blumenthal made a cup of tea and a bacon sandwich for the first British astronaut on the International Space Station



By Joanna Fantozzi

BBC

The latest project for Heston Blumenthal, owner of The Fat Duck in Berkshire, is not just out of the box — it’s out of the stratosphere. The multi-Michelin-starred UK celebrity chef has created gourmet space food for Tim Peake, the first-ever British astronaut on the International Space Station, including a bacon sandwich, Christmas pudding, and cup of tea that functions in zero-gravity.
Astronaut Tim Peake, now on month two of a six-month mission on the International Space Station, challenged Blumenthal to create seven zero-gravity dishes that would remind him of the comforts of home. The entire experiment was turned into a 90-minute documentary calledHeston’s Space Challengethat will be broadcasted on BBC channel 4 in spring 2016, according to The Guardian.
So how above Earth do you make a weightless cup of tea? Previously, astronauts would add hot water to a sealed pouch. To tackle the problem of being unable to remove the teabag, Blumenthal’s created a system that discards the teabag into a separate pouch.

 "When Tim set me my mission, I felt a surge of pride to be involved in such a historic moment for both astronomy and gastronomy," Blumenthal said in a promo for the documentary. "Tim and I have also worked closely together, creating dishes that will remind him of home even though he'll be 400km away in space. The very least I could do was make sure he had a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie [sandwich]."

Where to Find Gourmet Food at NYC Airports When You're Waiting for Your Holiday Flight Home



By Madina Papadopoulos |

Traveling conjures up images of extreme relaxation, juxtaposed swiftly by feelings of complete stress. The culprit of those panicky feels: the airport. Air traffic, delays, weather—all of these can ruin the start of a trip. But New York is one of the great food cities, and luckily its amazing chefs (and one brewmaster) have consulted with the airports to bring a slice of that culinary culture to the hubs. So if your flight gets delayed this holiday season, see it as an opportunity to explore one of these refined venues.
The Happy Clam, Consulting Chef Mario Carbone
As a native New Yorker of Italian heritage, chef Mario Carbone has been surrounded by good food from an early age. Manhattanites are familiar with his delectable restaurant, Parm, and can enjoy the red sauce he’s known for at Newark’s The Happy Clam. The space’s weathered oak bar, designed by the Rockwell Group, is inspired by the seafood shacks of the Jersey Shore. Newark Liberty, Terminal C
SURF, Consulting Chef Josh Capon
New Jersey is known for its great seafood offerings, but what’s less well known is how Newark Liberty brings that Jersey flavor and quality to life. Beloved seafood chef Josh Capon of Lure Fishbar has produced an incredible menu for SURF in Terminal C. The décor pulls from Montauk’s beaches, and diners can enjoy their sushi and seafood on tables decorated with natural driftwood, while taking in beach imagery. Newark Liberty, Terminal C
Deep Blue, Consulting Chef Michael Schulson
  Didn’t have time to visit one of chef Michael Schulson’s amazing sushi restaurants while in NYC? No biggie, as he created the tempting menu at JFK’s Deep Blue. The subdued atmosphere and blue lighting are the perfect way to chill before a long flight. JFK, Terminal 5
AeroNuova, Consulting Chef Mark Ladner
  Whether your JFK flight is destined for Italy or not, Italian food is always appetizing. Consulting chef Mark Ladner’s restaurant, Del Posto, (co-owners are Mario Batali, and Joe and Lidia Bastianich), recently received a Michelin star and the Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef distinction. Needless to say, chef Ladner’s airport concept is worth a visit. The restaurant’s palatable food is coupled with its sleek and elegant design, making it the perfect place to get some R & R before a long flight. JFK, Terminal 5
Cotto, Consulting Chef Michael White
  Chef Michael White of the Altamarea Restaurant Group is responsible for a host of elegant food and fine dining restaurants throughout Manhattan. He consulted on the menu at Cotto, LGA’s prime pizza hot spot. Each savory pie is cooked in a wood-fired oven, and guests can choose from a host of toppings. LGA, Terminal C
Biergarten, Consulting Brewmaster Garrett Oliver
  Beer aficionados will recognize the name Garrett Oliver—he’s the charismatic brewmaster behind the Brooklyn Brewery. At LGA’s Biergarten, Oliver has developed an airport venue that offers 24 beers on tap. That selection, coupled with delicious bar bites, refined leather stools, and flat-screen TVs make this spot a sportsman’s slice of paradise.LGA, Terminal C




In the footsteps of Aristotle: A Greek walking tour around the stomping ground of the one of the world's greatest philosophers





•           The world famous thinker used to go to the forests Halkidiki to ponder
•           New walking trails are opening up in the area, suitable for varying abilities
•           Paths are lined with plants which inspired the Aristotle’s interest in botany

By LIZZIE ENFIELD FOR THE MAIL ON SUNDAY
 ‘I’m waiting for an epiphany,’ says my daughter Kitty as she sits on a rock by the Varvara waterfall. If there were a place for a moment of revelation, then this is it.
In the forests of Greece’s Halkidiki region, this is where Aristotle used to come and ponder.
Kitty is studying philosophy at school. She enjoys it, albeit mostly when not in the classroom. If we go out for a walk and her younger brother hides, she’ll quote Descartes: ‘He who hid well, lived well.’ And if we pause by a river, she’ll remark: ‘You cannot step in the same river twice. That’s Heraclitus!’
The main Aristotelian Trail affords spectacular views of the Gulfs of Ierissos and the Mount Athos peninsula
Ancient Greeks also philosophised on the move. Aristotle walked so much that his brand of philosophy was known as the ‘peripatetic school’. So what better way to inspire a student than to take her to the birthplace of Aristotle and walk on the mountain that bears his name?
This area has three distinctive ‘fingers’. Aristotle’s stomping ground was on the eastern finger, where latter-day Greeks have been busy opening up several new walking routes. There are eight trails around the Mount Athos area, previously best known for its men-only monastery.
One follows the border of the monastic state, another the route of the Persian King Xerxes, and the longest – the 13-mile Aristotelian Trail – allows walkers to track the ancient philosopher’s thought process from the modern coastal village of Stagira to the ruins of Ancient Stagira, where he was born in 384 BC.
Before we begin, we visit the Aristotelian Park, an outdoor interactive circuit in Stagira, where you can test some of the great man’s scientific discoveries.
The main Aristotelian Trail winds around the densely forested hillsides of the eponymous mountain, occasionally emerging into clearings which afford spectacular views of the Gulfs of Ierissos and Strymonikos, and the Mount Athos peninsula.
The terrain is not unduly arduous, and the path is wide and lined with plants which stimulated the youthful Aristotle’s interest in botany. Pines, chestnuts, oak and juniper trees provide shade and the air is thick with the scent of thyme and oregano. Wild cistus flowers proliferate and, in late summer, mauve flowers of Erica heather give the mountain a vivid hue.
It’s a fertile area and has provided locals with sustenance for over 2,000 years: fruits, berries, mushrooms, chestnuts and herbs. And it’s not just plant life that thrives. We pass a family of goats as we walk and spot a wild pig foraging in the undergrowth.
Pork in sandwich form is on the menu, along with honey and feta filo pie, and a baked quince pudding, when we stop to picnic – all part of the service provided by staff at the Liotopi Hotel in nearby Olympiada.
Olympiada is a gem of a village, named after Alexander the Great’s mother, and a perfect base from which to explore the surrounding area. From the fishing port at the foot of Ancient Stagira, it runs along the shore past a tiny chapel and a strip of hotels and seafront tavernas. Standing on the sweep of sandy bay, you look out to Kafkanas Island.
Running off and alongside the Aristotelian Trail are several smaller paths. One takes us to the majestic chapel of Agios Nikolaos, perched on the top of the mountain. Another leads up to a clearing and a clutch of beehives, positioned to take advantage of the late-flowering heather. And the most spectacular sees us scrambling over rocks and crossing a stream to reach the Varvara waterfall.
Kitty has yet to have a philosophical epiphany but she’s getting into the spirit and quoting Nietzsche: ‘All truly great thoughts are conceived whilst walking.’ And when we pause to taste wild figs, she pipes up: ‘The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet!’
That quote came straight from the mouth of the Stagirite, as Aristotle was known. Although in his adult life he studied under Plato in Athens and later tutored Alexander the Great in Macedon, he was born in Stagira. As the trail heads out of the forest and we see the stone walls of the ancient town flanking the hillside and pick our way to the Hellenic forum, I get a spine-tingling waft of the past.
This is not just a beautiful part of Greece, but the place where a man who has influenced political, philosophical and scientific thought for more than 2,000 years was raised. I get a further sense of déjà vu when we later take a fishing trip and anchor in a sheltered cove to swim before winding nets out across the bay, just as the inhabitants of Ancient Stagira would have done.
When we return to Olympiada to dine at a seafront restaurant called Akroyiali, I ask Kitty: ‘Happy?’
‘Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life,’ she says, quoting Aristotle back at me, and my 21st Century cynicism slips away.

So what if happiness is slippery and elusive a lot of the time? Here, watching the walls of Ancient Stagira glow in the dusk and the Aristotelian Mountain fade in the setting sun, it’s hard not to be.

Shades of the past at a ski-in, ski-out spectacular: Ugly duckling Avoriaz resort in Portes du Soleil celebrates 50 years in style



•           Avoriaz ski resort, in Portes du Soleil, soon celebrates its 50th anniversary
•           It now has a £9.4 million indoor waterpark including hot tubs and flumes
•           The Hotel des Dromonts has been given a makeover by the Sibuet group

By MARK PALMER FOR THE DAILY MAIL

People have been sniffy about Avoriaz — me, included.
But as this purpose-built resort in the Portes du Soleil prepares to celebrate its 50th anniversary, it’s time for a reappraisal. And it comes up trumps.
Many of the futuristic, wood-clad apartment buildings have weathered tastefully; a £9.4 million super-duper indoor waterpark (hot tubs, flumes, tropical plants) opened a couple of years ago; various smart restaurants and bars have improved the apres-ski beyond recognition.
When French architect Jacques Labro came up with his master plan for Avoriaz in the early Sixties, the idea was to create the ultimate ski in, ski out resort.
Reborn: The Sixties-built Hotel des Dromonts in Avoriaz has been given a makeover by the Sibuet group
He decreed that it should be possible to pop your skis on outside every single building at the start of the day and return there on skis in the evening. There would be no cars, no queues, no hassle.
You pitch up at a drop-off station at the top of the town — with an underground car park — and then jump on horse-drawn, bell-ringing sleighs that whisk you off to your apartment or hotel.
The hotel side of things is interesting. There is only one — Hotel des Dromonts — and it’s just been given a makeover by the Sibuet group. It is already attracting a glamorous crowd.
I’ve never seen a building like it. Either Monsieur Labro was on something, or he’s a genius.
Shaped audaciously like a pine cone, the rooms fan out so that all have uninterrupted views. The whole structure leans backwards and juts out at the same time. There is no roof as such — or rather the whole of the front is a roof, albeit covered in cedar shingles.
Inside, there’s barely a straight line. Everything’s at a tilt or circular or at different levels.
Rooms (34 in total) feature the best of the Sixties with all the rock ’n’ roll luxury of 2015. It has two restaurants, both informal, but the top-notch one makes it a culinary destination in itself.
You can be here a week and hardly cover the same ground twice — but always at its centre is Avoriaz, looking down at satellite towns and villages such as Morzine, Les Gets and Chatel on the French side, Champery, Morgins and Champoussin on the Swiss side.
All things white and beautiful: Whatever the limitations of its construction, Avoriaz enjoys a fine setting
We were a group of six, and for two days we acquired the services of Lionel Morosato, who has been teaching and guiding here for more than 25 years.
He took us through forests, into deep-powder bowls, along untrammelled ridges, through snowy valleys. Some of his shortcuts were a little eccentric, but he knew the mountain so well he could have done it blindfolded.
He didn’t skimp on lunch, either, insisting that we should stop one day at La Cremaillere in little Lindarets, a family-run restaurant where booking is essential, especially at weekends.
 Come on by: Lindarets has a super family-run restaurant.  Booking is essential, especially at weekends
Lionel skis hard and fast. One evening, we celebrated surviving with no major scrapes at La Cabane, a terrific bar which only gets lively after midnight. The next day, near the famous Wall (a steep and bumpy black run down from Les Crosets), he led us down a path to a small hut called La Pisa, with a roaring wood burner and fondue bubbling on the stove.
Afterwards, if you ask nicely, the proprietor will rev up his Ski-doo and pull you on a long rope back to where you can ski down to a lift.
Avoriaz is purpose built, for sure — but unquestionably fit for purpose.


Kenya: Festive frolics by the sea



By Rachael Muthoni

  It's time to down tools and head for the beaches, water sports and historical charm of Kenya's coast
Come the festive season Kenyans think of heading to the coast, and increasing numbers of African holidaymakers are following them. With the 'short rains' over it's the perfect season in which to enjoy the country's spectacular beaches, just over an hour's flight from Nairobi or a six-hour drive.
Spreading north and south of the historical trading city of Mombasa, the Kenyan coast is where the Middle East meets East Africa. With a largely Muslim population the coast is heaving during festivals, when celebrants are decked out in colourful clothing, dancing along the streets to marching bands and taarab music, and sampling the local street food. With Milad un Nabi on 24 December this year, coinciding with Christmas Eve, it's sure to be high times for everyone.
An enchanted island - The Sands at Chale Island
About 40km south of Mombasa at the tip of Diani Beach, The Sands is one of the most exclusive resorts in Kenya and the only one on its own exclusive island. It feels like you're in another world altogether with unique Swahili architecture surrounded by forests. The 1.2km-long island is divided into two: the resort and the sacred forest, or 'kaya.' If you want to be secluded away from the main resort you can stay in 'banda's (luxury huts), including water bandas on stilts, and the dreamlike Suite on the Rock, on a separate islet connected by a bridge. The island is full of historical relics and Chale is said to be named for an old warrior from the Digo tribe whose remains are buried on the headland. The island's pristine beach is surrounded by a coral reef and the resort has a dive school.
Swimming with dolphins - Temple Point Resort
On a small headland 20km south of Malindi, Watamu offers a pace of life even slower than normal on the coast. The small and peaceful village is surrounded by several world-class beaches within the protected biosphere of Watamu Marine Park, where sea turtles, whales, dolphins, coral reefs and bird life are allowed to thrive. Tranquil it may be, but the hyperactive will never be bored at Temple Point Resort, which boasts of the largest selection of sports and leisure activities in Kenya. Built on the site of an ancient temple with ruins visible along the beach, it has its own football field for guests, as well as archery, swimming with dolphins, boat rides, sunset cycling and a whole lot more. History enthusiasts can visit the 12th-century Gedi ruins and museum, a 15-minute drive from the resort.
Heritage a hop away - Travellers' Beach Hotel
After exploring Mombasa in the heat of the day a refreshing cold drink and a swim awaits at the Travellers' Beach Hotel, only a few minutes from the town with easy access to its nightlife and cultural heritage. This all-inclusive family hotel has a host of activities at its Beach Club including diving, water sports, tennis and a spa. The world famous Old Town and Fort Jesus sites are close by and the beach is only five minutes away.



Bookstore Owners Share Their 10 Top Travel Books



Posted by PeterGreenberg.com

Travelers are easy to shop for. Give them pens and parchment, paper maps, antique globes, or our favorite, a great travel book. The only thing better than unwrapping a gift for the holidays is using it to dream about the next trip. World travelers and co-owners of Traveler’s Bookcase Natalie Compagno and Greg Freitas found ten travel books that might make the traveler in your life a very happy person.
Alaska: A Visual Tour of America’s Great Land by Bob Devine $40

America’s biggest, tallest, and most spectacular state gets the National Geographic photographic treatment, in all its visual splendor.
Fire + Ice: Classic Nordic Cooking by Darra Goldstein $40
Travel-inspired cookbooks are one of the most popular segments of the gift book market. Goldstein explores the deep culinary histories of Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, where centuries of extremes—light, dark & cold—have produced some of the most distinctive cuisine in the world.

Destinations of a Lifetime by National Geographic $40
National Geographic again, doing what it does best, with world class photographers shooting the world’s most beautiful locales. This coffee table-worthy volume also provides plenty of practical information to make sure everyone from food lovers to outdoor adventurers can find a trip to swoon over—or add to their bucket list.

Luxury Collection: Certified Indigenous by Assouline $50
 The third in Assouline’s excellent Luxury Collection series, this tome tasks concierges from dozens of deluxe hotels to provide only the most insider-y of travel tips. Each curated experience is indigenous to the hotel’s region, providing a one-of-a-kind compendium of exclusive but practical travel know-how.

Near & Far: Recipes Inspired by Home and Travel by Heidi Swanson $29.95
 James Beard Award-winner Swanson creates 120 vegetarian tasty dishes from every corner of the globe. From Moroccan flatbreads to Tokyo tempura, the easy to follow recipes and wonderful photography allow readers to cook their way around the world.

100 Places in France Every Woman Should Go by Marcia Desanctis $19.95
The follow up to Susan Van Allen’s highly successful 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go, this latest from Traveler’s Tales takes a look at France from a feminine point of view. Told in 100 short, well-written essays, the book has unique insights into the world’s most romantic country for first-timers and veteran Francophiles alike.

Sake: The History, Stories and Craft of Japan’s Artisanal Breweries by Hayato Hishinuma $104.95
 Japan lovers will swoon over this compendium of 60 different sake breweries, from Okinawa to Hokkaido. The closely guarded artisanal craft has never received book treatment quite like this—the pictures alone will put readers on the next plane to Narita.

Sea & Smoke: Flavors from the Untamed Pacific Northwest by Blaine Wetzel $40
 Trek vicariously to The Willows Inn on Lummi Island in the Pacific way way Northwest: one of the world’s greatest destination restaurants. More than a cookbook, it is a triumphant tale of one chef’s vision of localism brought to a tiny remote outpost.

The Way of Wanderlust: The Best Travel Writing of Don George by Don George $16.95
 Veteran travel scribe Don George regales readers with his 40 years of adventures. This is armchair travel at its finest, with the added perspective of decades of experience—something missing from most travel writing today.

World’s Most Magical Wilderness Escapes by Michael Poliza $75

Legendary photographer Michael Poliza photographs wild animals like no other, and his books on Africa and Antarctica have been gift book staples for years. Poliza himself has been guiding private tours of his favorite locales for the past five years. Now for the first time, readers everywhere can follow along on these personal travels in glorious full color from top publisher Te Neues.