Faena Hotel in Miami Beach Brings New Depth to Design Hotels

The word “Faena,” heard most emphatically in neighborhoods fanning from the blinding white sands lining Miami Beach, could be another term for fantastical, improbable. It stems from one unstoppable Alan Faena, creator of the new Faena Hotel Miami Beach and the energy behind the increasingly famous Faena District.

The five blocks of Collins Avenue in the Mid-Beach section of Miami Beach are now part of a re-imagined metropolis of architectural icons and showcases of progressive arts and culture as conceived and developed through the eyes of one of Argentina’s hottest exports.

Alan Faena and business partner Len Blavatnik opened Faena Hotel in Miami Beach in December of 2015 and have not looked back. The property – called by some a palace, others a museum and still by others, a cathedral – anchors a $1.2 billion, seven-block parcel in a formerly run-down section of the city that now thrives as a place to experience music, art, theater, poetry and urban wonder.

Faena District Miami Beach

Faena Hotel Miami Beach is complemented by the Faena House condominiums (designed by Foster + Partners and featured one unit that recently sold for a record $60 million). Also in the mix is Faena Forum, a 42,000-square-foot swirl of a space for exhibitions and performances that was designed by Rem Koolhaas/OMA. Faena Bazaar is a grand bazaar of vendors and crafts people, to connect these spaces, and the mélange also includes Casa Faena, a 50-room circa-1928 historic Mediterranean-style manse with some of the best Sunday brunch menus in the city.

Alan Faena, famous for creating Faena Hotel in 2004 in Puerto Madero in Buenos Aires, which transformed seedy dockyards into a booming borough of high style, edgy architecture and artsy entertainment, found a perfect palette for his visions in Miami Beach – one of the three locations for  the annual Art Basel fests (the others are Basel, Switzerland and Hong Kong). The celebration presents work from some 300 leading international galleries from more than 30 countries over a few days, attracting some 100,000 art aficionados, appreciators and connoisseurs (the next spectacle is scheduled for early December).

But it all would start with the hotel: Faena Miami Beach would have to be a statement in its own right. Faena took the former Saxony Hotel, once a veritable second home for the Rat Pack and Frank Sinatra, and a favorite getaway for Marilyn Monroe, and turned it into a 169-room stunner with input from director and producer Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Australia) and his wife, the production and costume designer Catherine Martin (The Great Gatsby).

Miami Chic: New Definitions

Today, the interior designs guests will find might defy definition. Words like fantastical, daring, extravagant come to mind as guests wander through spaces that may have started with an Art Deco swoosh and ended up with layers of theatrical design flares.

Drawn into the lobby, guests may be entering a modern museum or the imagined palace of Cleopatra. A walk along a central red carpet runner (shocking reds are a theme in Alan Faena’s bright design schemes) passes golden columns, a beveled recessed-lit ceiling and lush floor-to-ceiling murals by Argentine artist Juan Gatti evoking exotic fantasies of jungle utopias. Walls of glass ahead flow into a garden patio and beyond, a golden woolly mammoth skeleton sculpted by Damien Hirst.

There are rooms and spaces for every occasion: a designated quiet room called The Library, for checking email on a red velvet lounging couch; The Living Room area that looks like an Art Deco movie set with a huge Alberto Garutti chandelier rumored to sputter slightly when lightning hits the Pampas plains in Argentina. The hotel features a 150-seat cabaret-style theater inspired through its red velvets and glinting golds to summon thoughts of the opulent opera houses of Europe.

Two restaurants and some seven bars each bring on their own sense of the dramatic. Pao infuses Asian influence from the Far East and Philippines through the work of celebrated chef Paul Qui in a space of re-imagined greenery crowned by a golden unicorn, another oeuvre by Damien Hirst. Los Fuegos, by Argentine grillmaster Francis Mallmann, brings creative Latin influences and keeps the show aglow from the open-fire kitchen. Meanwhile, the Saxony Bar leans into the classic Greek revival/modernist/Art Deco design blends and serves up old fashion cocktails from golden ages past.

Faena’s spa, Tierra Santa Healing House, provides its own signature of shades of Miami teals mixed with Faena reds accenting sumptuous couches and chairs in the lounging areas and intriguing treatment room designs. Spa guests relax amid fantasy wall murals and on private terraces overlooking the beach. The menu features cleansing and purification treatments by staff specially trained by an authentic Mexican healer, and these selections can also be paired with Balinese sound bowl healing sessions.

The beachfront property overlooks a 100,000-square-foot swath of warm sand and blue ocean, painting Miami Beach with classic red and white striped umbrellas.


Faena Hotel: Latest Beds of Miami Beach

Accommodations, too, are treated to teals, pinks, whites and reds with 18 configurations of rooms and suites (there are 111 suites in the mix), many featuring generous balcony spaces over the blue waters of Miami Beach. Room quarters run from the 489-square-foot Bay View option ($525/night) to the 4,515-square-foot Faena Suite ($20,000/night) with four king bedrooms and more than four bathrooms, to the Penthouse Suite ($50,000/night) at 14,507 square feet, which has four king bedrooms with two master bedrooms, five full and four half bathrooms, wrapped oceanfront views, full kitchen and a large living room with a grand piano. All room choices benefit from the added luxury of dedicated guest managers and butlers.

A full schedule of performances, regular and special, are listed on the Faena’s website within categories labeled Art & Culture, Experiential, Gastronomy, Mixology, Music and Wellness. For those ready to go, Faena District anchored by Faena Hotel will be the only destination in Miami Beach they will need to know.



Faena Hotel Miami Beach
3201 Collins Avenue
Faena District Miami Beach, FL 33140


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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Sweet Bocas: Luxury Vacation Villa in Panama with Perks

A luxury villa for a vacation in Panama can be a daunting gem to find and may mean digging up a lot of rough dirt before finding your piece of gold. There are lists of B & Bs and home rentals in Panama but taking a chance on a weeklong vacation rental in Central America may not be the best expense of time, even for the perceived savings, given the cascade of things that can go wrong. One luxury villa in Panama is a sure bet, especially for families and friends who want to spend a week in Sweet Boca bliss.

Sweet Bocas, a seven-bedroom manse over Caribbean waters off the coast of Boca del Toro province in Panama, has all the perks and none of the problems of a vacation well planned, especially if that vacation should seek to involve sun, beach, yoga, adventure and relaxation, extreme comfort and pampering, and plenty of excellent food.

Guests are not only on their own tropical island they are in their own tropical island resort. Sweet Bocas can only be booked by one group or family at a time and segments its bookings in week-long immersive vacations that allow guests to unwind, smell the coffee, pick the fish and pet the sloths.

Luxury Vacation Villa in Panama: Overwater Perfection

At this luxury vacation villa in Panama find seven bedrooms decked in Panamanian teak and dressed in local weaves, textures and stories from local villages and tribes. Water is everywhere, below and surrounding the villa, which suspends above the surf in 100 columns. A wooden bridge connects the vacation villa to the main island stage where a lake is there for swimming and floating (private pontoons float guests for a super relaxing treat – and the Sweet Bocas spa conducts massage sessions in this floating dream setting). An infinity pool built into the sea creates another design-forward way to salute the sun (salt water or fresh water by request). Two outdoor bamboo bedrooms (not part of the seven counted in the mansion layout) are also available for guests who want to sleep under the stars at night in divine comfort.

The luxury villa surrounds guests with 20,000 square feet of airy design, bedrooms that open onto the Caribbean with private decks and day beds, an entertainment area and library with more than 250 books and 1000 videos and multiple thousands of tunes and music set up on the Bang & Olufsen sound system, and plenty of sumptuous public and free flowing space to wander.

Rooms are air-conditioned, Wi-Fi is pervasive, and dining in a villa where all pampering is personalized can be sweet, indeed. Guests can handpick the produce they want prepared in the acres of organic garden spots dotting this private isle. They can even work with local fisherman to select desired gifts of the sea to be prepared by a dedicated world-class chef. Food is all too important at this resort, conceived, built and operated by a former Montreal restaurateur.

What to Do with a Week in Panama

A week long luxury vacation in Panama, however, can be filled up quickly with a menu of activities, many complimentary, that Sweet Bocas can offer …. beginning with use of the villa’s 30-foot yacht. Staff is available to take guests to top snorkel and dive spots (Bocas del Toro is a hidden secret amid divers — it offers a great diversity of aquatic life around its islands and due to calm conditions is an ideal place for experienced divers as well as those who want to learn) or around the extensive archipelago of uninhabited islands for intriguing discovery.

Guests can snorkel, SUP, canoe and kayak around the property, even enjoy a moonlight snorkel or dive. World class surfing surrounds the archipelago, where different reefs are favorites of intermediate and advanced surfers. Guests can also order up a yoga class, meditation session or massage treatment; even indulge in complimentary cooking classes. Kids can have their share of hands-on art classes, treasure hunts and nature challenges created by doting villa staff. There are bat caves to be explored, beaches buried in curious starfish to discover, and great surfing spots to waiting. The array of activities is so vast that guests have stayed over two weeks and experienced new adventures each day.

Treasures of Bocas del Toro

Bocas del Toro’s largest city is Bocas Town, a village really. It attracts guests and visitors with its quaint and walkable streets, its restaurants serving piquant soup from fresh catches, souvenir shops and clothing boutiques, and scenic people and harbor watching spots. Small shuttle boats ferry passengers among islets and attractions in an area otherwise famous mostly as the local landing spot for Christopher Columbus and his crew in 1502. Bocas del Toro is practically a stone’s throw from Limon Province in Costa Rica, connected by an old railroad bridge between Guabito in Panama and Sixaola, Costa Rica.

The province of Bocas del Toro encompasses two national parks: Isla Bastimentos National Marine Park and La Amistad International Park, both great for hiking, biking, and bird watching. Should guests need a sloth hug, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute operates a research station on Colón Island just northwest of Bocas Town, which studies the three-toed pygmy sloth found only in this region. In the right seasons turtles come to nest on the beaches of Bocas del Toro Marine Park.

Traveling to Sweet Bocas

Getting to Sweet Bocas can be a sweet part of a luxury vacation in Panama as well. Guests can arrive via commercial airline from Panama City (PTY) to Bocas del Toro International Airport (IATA: BOC, ICAO: MPBO) in 50 minutes or less. They can fly in by private plane to this airport. They can sail to Sweet Bocas by private yacht and anchor on the property. They can go the adventurous way and take a ferry from Almirante. And they can fly in directly from San Jose International Airport in Costa Rica to Bocas del Toro.


Sweet Bocas
Address: Bocas del Toro
Tel: (516) 554-1415
Email: info@sweetbocaspanama.com
Website: sweetbocaspanama.com

Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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Savoring Southeast Asia: Two Tempting Hotels with Local Allure

Some of the best places to visit in Southeast Asia can be found in the burgeoning and buzzing capital cities. If a hotel can bring on a wowing experience of an exotic destination, The Siam Bangkok and The Reverie Saigon will be perfect choices.

Exploring an Asian destination should mean eschewing the American-branded cookie-cutter chain hotel and sleeping someplace completely unexpected. For luxury travelers with discerning tastes, this choice should be based on design statement, location, over-the-top amenities, location experiences that cannot easily be found elsewhere, and amazing surrounds in the public spaces, accommodations, grounds and restaurants.

In Southeast Asia, even for luxury travelers, the best hotels in Southeast Asia can often be enjoyed for a fraction of what a luxury hotel experience would cost in the United States or Europe. Hospitality in Southeast Asia usually includes an amazing breakfast feast with all manner of local and international delicacies for a good start on the day. And these properties can usually be found in some of the best locations to be had in Southeast Asian cities, overlooking an iconic river and close to scenic locations for shopping and dining.

Savoring Southeast Asia: Best Boutique Hotel in Bangkok

The Siam in Bangkok is a Southeast Asian treat, a one of a kind moment on the River of Kings with a special history, stellar location and stunning design sensibilities.

Located in the royal Dusit neighborhood, a stone’s throw from the Grand Palace, the 39-key luxury hotel was created by rock star legend Krissada Sukosol Clapp using his family’s Sukosol luxury hotel brand.

The property spreads along the banks of the Chao Phraya with a sparkling lap pool and grassy lawn leading up to a private dock where guests can board ferries that take them across the river and into the heart of Bangkok for shopping and sightseeing. The river rides provide a comely breeze and relief from the stodgy heat that defines the weather most days in Southeast Asia. But guests can choose to linger by the pool, have a Thai massage in The Siam’s dazzling Opium Spa, or enjoy afternoon tea at Café Cha.

The Siam opened in 2012 with dazzling design that displayed the owner’s passion for Art Deco. The property was envisioned according to a romantic bygone era of the last century when such socialites as silk tycoon/spy Jim Thompson and his notorious cocktail consort Connie Mangskau were once the toast of Bangkok. Their parties that attracted famed international faces of the time: Jacqueline Kennedy, Henry Ford, John Rockefeller and Roger Moore.

Each room and suite at The Siam evokes that luster with unusual furnishings and flourishes from the 1920s and 1930s. The property brings original Thai houses that were  moved from the former Thai capital of Ayutthaya and salvaged by Thompson and Mangskau. These are now reconfigured as a restaurant, or a teaching kitchen, or The Siam’s top suite: Connie’s House.

Guests of this luxurious Bangkok hotel will stay in rooms that had cost some $1.5 million to design and decorate: suites done up in stunning Art Deco elegance and offering interior verandahs for leisurely breakfasts and afternoon teas, overlooking a private dipping pool. There are a dozen spacious Mae Nim suites, which offer views of the river. Ten villas open up to private gardens, dipping pools and open-air moon terraces. Naturally, personal butler service is available for the asking.

A stay at The Siam can be a supremely Thai experience as the property offers several fulfilling ways for guests to spend their days in Bangkok, whether through a river cruise to enchanting spots along the Chao Phraya River, or having a “sak yantra” tattoo etched by a master monk (who inked such an image on the back of Angelina Jolie) in the resort’s specially consecrated space, or learning Muay Thai boxing, enjoying a class in Thai cuisine, or rediscovering your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual attunement with a multiday wellness program offered at The Siam.

Nightly rates start at sound $650 per night.


The Siam
(011 662) 247 0123


Savoring Southeast Asia: Renewal at The Reverie Saigon in Old Saigon

Few luxury hotels in Southeast Asia make the kind of statement that The Reverie Saigon does. The property launched in 2015 with 224 rooms, 62 suites and 89 apartments in a 39-story mixed-use tower. Interiors infuse delicate Vietnamese expression with dramatic Italian declarations to make it a must-see in Ho Chi Minh City, if not a must-stay.

The Reverie rises out of District 1 that was once the former French Quarter and is now the hub of luxury and business in this bustling city. The Saigon River flows nearby and rooms in this upper floor hotel offer a view of the colorful wooden boats and traditional fan-shaped junks that ply the Saigon and Mekong, located slightly south of the city.

This Leading Hotels of the World property teamed up with top interior design houses in Italy to create public spaces of energetic mosaics similar to what might be found in grand Venetian palazzos. Walls cascade in towers of flowers, an intriguing 15-foot throne sofa of purple ostrich leather with flowing gold trim centers the lobby, complemented by various tones of marble, molded gold and jeweled furnishings that defy the imagination.

A circa 1895 Bachestein grand piano now stands as a reinterpreted art piece outside The Reverie Saigon’s ornate La Scala ballroom. Rooms, furnishings, artworks, even functional desks and chairs all have the signature of a renowned Italian design house behind them.

Rooms at The Reverie Saigon continue the eye-popping drama with marbled mirrors, dripping chandeliers, sharp metallic-hued furnishings or dimpled leather chairs, grand four-poster beds and sumptuous marble and indigo-tiled bathrooms, all with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city. Find a dozen configurations and designs in the room choices leading up to the 2,981-square-foot, two-bedroom Saigon Suite penthouse on the building’s top two floors.

Guests dine in five restaurants that also paint a lavish scene in dizzying decor elements and furnishings. Italian fare is on the menu at four of them and the fifth is a Chinese setting specializing in Cantonese cuisine. Even casual repasts at The Long Bar, The Reverie Saigon’s easy-in-easy-out spot for cocktails and snacks, mean wood-fired pizza from a specially imported oven, and burgers sprinkled with gold leaf specks.

The Spa at The Reverie Saigon does not disappoint. Expect the same mesmerizing design touches in the lounges and amenity spaces. It spans two floors and offers a Himalayan pink salt sauna and color therapy steam room, an invigorating ice fountain (in the men’s area) and comprehensive treatments that bring on a harmonious blend of both Eastern and Western therapies. Consider the Classic Vietnamese, for instance, for a combination of Vietnamese cupping and massage techniques; or an aromatherapy selection that combines Swedish and deep-tissue massage with essential oil blends sealed by warm jade stones to boost immunity and calm the body and mind.

Savoring Southeast Asia: What to do in Ho Chi Minh City

Time spent in Saigon outside The Reverie Saigon can be as spectacular as moments wrapped up in the hotel. The Reverie Saigon offers two curated tours that bring the culture and sense of place into focus. The Reverie’s “Cruising Saigon” day package sends hotel guests off with a personal butler on a private two-hour sunset cruise on the Saigon River. The tour then switches gears at sundown for a city-chic adventure on a chauffeured vintage Vespa.

The cruise includes a picnic hamper brimming full of sweets and savories, such as smoked duck & egg sandwiches, cherry compote and traditional Vietnamese banh mi, all paired with a bottle of Taittinger Champagne.

Booked as a three-night package, the Cruising Saigon option starts at $1,152 single or double and also includes:

•                 Three nights in your choice of accommodation

•                 Round-trip airport transfers in a luxury vehicle

•                 Access to The Reverie Lounge

•                 Complimentary Wi-Fi

•                 Complimentary minibar (refreshed daily)

The Cruise and Vespa portions can be enjoyed on separate days but the property needs at least five days advance booking for either each portion.

Pearls of Saigon is another option and focuses on Vietnam’s energized art scene as a way to tell the country’s stories of history and culture. It’s an eight-hour exploration custom-curated to travelers’ interests, going as lite or as deep as desired with stops as the Duc Minh private gallery for modern and post-modern works, as well as a private tour and lunch at Salon Saigon (exclusive to guests of The Reverie Saigon).

Other sites along the way may include the grand halls of the Ho Chi Minh City Fine Arts Museum as well as a selection of galleries, artists’ homes and studios.

The tour comes packaged with

•                 Two nights of accommodation

•                 Round-trip airport transfers

•                 Daily breakfast

•                 Private luxury car and chauffeur service with sweets, savories and non-alcoholic beverages throughout the tour

•                 Private, five-course lunch of traditional Vietnamese cuisine at Salon Saigon


Rates start at  $1,422 for rooms and $1,782 for suites, single or double occupancy.



The Reverie Saigon
22-36 Nguyen Hue Boulevard
Ben Nghe Ward, District 1
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
(+011 848) 3920 9526


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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Top Resorts to Choose for Luxury Travel to Latin America

Luxury Travel in Latin America is given a boost by three top tier resorts in four very different destinations. If you are considering a Latin America vacation and care to turn it into an experience worthy of bragging rights you will want these top landing spots to be on your list: Villa Manzu in Costa Rica; Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa in Nicaragua; and Vik Retreats in Uruguay and Chile.

Luxury Travel in Central America: Villa Manzu for Celebrity Stays

An easy getaway into the pristine tropics and cascading shorelines of the Pacific, just four hours flight time from the U.S., is Villa Manzu in the Papagayo Gulf of northern Costa Rica, in the northwest province of Guanacaste. Magnificent enough for the family of Kardashians, smooth enough for Beyoncé (who stayed in the La Lora Suite) and suave enough for Justin Bieber, this eight-bedroom manse is big enough to throw a sensational party, private enough to keep a secret, near enough to the U.S. to spark spontaneity, all-inclusive enough to satisfy the most demanding of guests. And it is wild enough to make a luxury vacation to Latin America into an adventure.

The 30,000-square-foot spread offers eight master suites that can sleep up to 22 guests, along with plenty of lounging space and pool-focused comforts presenting 180-degree pans of the Gulf and Pacific – the beach is just steps away. Villa Manzu has two swimming pools (including an infinity salt pool), a spa, a movie theater, party rooms, a gym, yoga platform, dedicated executive and sous chefs, butlers, a full on-property staff. But guests looking beyond the manse will find a Range Rover, a Ford Explorer SUV, and a Jeep Wrangler in the garage,  all available with private drivers to take guests wherever their curiosity leads.

Recommended: an afternoon of zip lining, especially the Witch’s Rock Canopy Tour just 10 minutes from Villa Manzu. The ropes here have supported the weights of Bill Gates, Steven Tyler, Beyoncé, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf and Cindy Crawford, and others choosing to cross the forest from on high.

A wine cava and humidor is on hand for relaxation lifts. The en suite bathrooms of onyx and marble are as intriguing as the bedroom décor as the large villa is stocked with discussion pieces acquired in Africa, Indonesia, India, Malaysia and Thailand. Sleep with a cast of whale vertebra or walls of woven sugar cane fibers under beaded chandeliers.

Guests can avail themselves of the amazing golf course/zoological sanctuary nearby. The Four Seasons Resort and several other marquis brands share an 18-hole, Arnold Palmer-designed golf course, where 14 holes have dramatic ocean backdrops, abutted by forests of ceiba trees housing howler monkeys and white-faced capuchins.

The Villa Manzu is reachable by a 40-minute drive from the Liberia, Costa Rica International Airport (LIR) where guests will be met by villa staff and whisked to their vacation castle on the ocean.

Villa Manzu
Peninsula Papagayo
Costa Rica
(+011 949) 200 8086


Luxury Travel in Latin America: Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa

Luxury travel in Central America can now be found in Nicaragua, considered to be the next must-go spot for luxury travelers with such resorts as Mukul to attract this set. The resort’s location on the Emerald Coast, a 20-minute flight or 120-minute car ride from Managua, attracts honeymooners, families, golfers, surfers and gal pals for pampering, nature and adventure.

As Mukul translates to “secret” in Mayan, the 1,670-acre Guacalito de la Isla private resort remains a best-kept secret to sun seekers who love the secluded beachfront and exclusive amenities in an otherwise wild land known more for volcanoes, lakes and rum than for exquisite Latin American luxury resorts.

The 37 thatched-roof villas that surround the resort’s open-air Beach Club area are all private and opulent in their own right with views from terraces overlooking the Pacific. Décor is distinctly Nicaraguan, showcased in hand-crafted furnishings and creative folk art touches seen in the use of carvings of local, sustainable and fallen trees.

Stay in a 621-square-foot bohios or expansive beach villa (measuring 2,000 to 3,000 square feet). Enjoy outdoor showers gardens shaped in lava rock; dip in a private infinity-edge swimming pool, dine and lounge in specially purposed rooms and spaces as personal butlers go in and out delivering morning coffee or evening cocktails.

The Spa Mukul provides its own reward with six private sanctuaries, each offering its own themed journey. Wellness retreats he championship, David McLay Kidd–designed, 18-hole course set along a coastal forest. There are snorkeling trips, turtle hatchling releases, and scenic hikes to be taken at Mukul. Would-be surfers head to the Tres Ceibas Beach Club for surf lessons or try stand-up paddle boarding.

Sojourns beyond Mukul might call for exploration of top surfing spots in Nicaragua. But a visit to the colonial city of Granada offers some unexpected time travel. The city is the oldest preserved colonial city in the Americas with its narrow streets and 17th-century houses, crumbling courtyards and ornate churches. The Parque Colón buzzes with artisans and street food sellers.

A visit to Lake Nicaragua should also be on the list, with a day spent kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming in the company of spider monkeys, sloths and tropical birds.

Volcanoes provide worthy hiking destinations, but the cloud forests of Nicaragua make the experience heavenly. Tropical forests cover the terrain around the country’s tallest volcanoes and they keep a persistent low-level cloud cover that makes walking through these virgin forests about as close to heaven as it gets on earth.

Mukul Beach, Golf & Spa
Guacalito, Nicaragua
(+011 505) 25 63 71 00


Luxury Travel in Latin America: Art, Design & Wine on a Vik Retreat

Vik Retreats is practically synonymous in these parts for luxury living at the edge of an explosive movement in regional art, up-and -coming legends in local cuisine, emerging labels in wine and a certain brashness in the way architecture mixes with nature.

Vik Retreats, the work of innovators Alexander and Carrie Vik, brings four bold boutique retreats: three of them in the bohemian chic José Ignacio, Uruguay and one of them in Chile’s Millahue Valley, which offers views out across the vineyard and surrounding nature, with the Andes Mountains in the distance.

Cool came to the sleepy fishing village of José Ignacio over the past decade and the A-list crowd discovered that the Vik Retreats destinations, which include Playa Vik, Estancia Vik, and most recently Bahia Vik answered the call quite perfectly.

Estancia Vik lies slightly inland from the water as a Spanish colonial hacienda in the rolling hills, where polo takes precedent over the surf and sun.

Twelve suites adorn this retreat, and guests get to play gaucho for a day, riding horses around the verdant acreage, or even indulge in a game of polo, the sport of kings.

Just down the road, find Playa Vik, where three stunning suites are located in the central sculpture building, and six small houses, or casas, which surround the main structure.

Each guest room, as well as the retreat itself, is a celebration of Uruguay’s vibrant culture. A central masterpiece is the cantilevered pool that extends 32 feet over the beach, with a fiber-optic light celestial map of the Southern Hemisphere’s night sky.

Bahia Vik is a true beach retreat with 10 suites in the main building and 11 bungalows spread on the sand dunes. The property offers a library, a game room, a spa and gym as well as four swimming pools, a restaurant, and personal concierge. The busy beach town of José Ignacio is just a five-minute walk and La Susana, Vik Retreats’ buzzing restaurant and beach club is just steps down the beach.

Then there is Vik Chile in Chilean wine country of the Millahue Valley, just two hours from Santiago by car. Vik Chile, too, swells with stunning modern art and unique, cutting-edge furnishings among 22 suites in a destination that feels as private and special as it is.

Floor-to-ceiling windows create a background of natural surroundings in all the guestrooms and the works of local and international artists fill the rest of the interior spaces. Chilean wines take a front seat at this retreat, and the vineyard produces its own wines on site. Cuisine is fresh and seasonal, fusing Chilean culinary traditions with gourmet finesse.

Vik Retreats





Suján: The Best Luxury Resorts in India Play to the Five Senses

Suján Luxury Camps and Palaces, as with the best resorts in India, have a way of staying true to the essence of India. That is the India of so many layers: the brilliant colors popping from the tapestries; the glint of jewels from the eyes of sculpted peacocks and ornate room décor; the spicy cooking scents and curling smokes of sandalwood; the sounds of melodious conversation, mixed with street sounds and somewhere a tabla or sitar. The fantastical builds in pale stones and marbles remind wanderers of India’s great emperors and heady days of the ruling rajas.

Suján Luxury Camps and Palaces reside amid the best resorts in India and take this concept to other levels with four distinctly different properties in India, each offering an immersive experience of place that expresses to the soul of the land.

Resort in Jaipur: Suján Rajmahal Palace

To know luxury in India, you need to look to the tradition of royalty, through the Mughal empires of the Middle Ages and onto the Rajah ages that governed through India’s independence.

The Palace is an original hold over from the 18th century. Built in 1729 as a second palace in Jaipur and used more recently as a guesthouse for royal family guests (think Queen Elizabeth II and Lord Mountbatten and even Jackie Kennedy).

It was turned into a hotel in 1979 run as part of the Taj collection and only in 2015, became a Suján, as part of a very small collection of precious properties in India and now, also Kenya. The Rajmahal, considered one of the best hotels in India, is still owned by the descendants of the royal family of Jaipur.

The property keeps much of what is royal and historic about it alive and well in the ornate wallpapers and textiles, classic architecture old world art items amid 14 grand suites, each one an original. Then, there are the quiet flourishes: the dripping glass chandeliers, the palm court terraces, the impeccable service delivered in Old World style. To stay at the Rajmahal palace is to immerse in a style of life that, until recently, could not be bought but only born into. Today it remains a living museum where guests can explore and take mini journeys, through an antique lamp, an heirloom chair or a palatial guest room, into the past.

VIPs will want to stay in the royal apartments fit for a maharaja and maharani with multiple bedrooms, a large private terrace and a private plunge pool. These quarters are often used by the owner’s family — Princess Diya Kumari, whose teenage son is the future maharaja of Jaipur.

Jaipur, India’s sparkling city of gems, is all around and the Rajmahal is an easy 15-minute walk from the old walled city gates. There are still plenty of jewels to be browsed in Jaipur, known for its commerce in rubies, emeralds, topaz and moonstone. The medieval, rose-hued sandstone walls crowd with young stone polishers, sophisticated jewelry designers and wallas passing tea through the busy streets.

As a destination in India, Jaipur is a must and an easy add-on to any stop in Delhi or Mumbai, and a stay at one of the best resort hotels in India makes it shine.


Resort in Ranthambhore: Sher Bagh Luxury Camp

For the best resort to consider when seeing tigers is a priority, Sher Bagh in India’s Ranthambhore National Park allows a glimpse of another side of India: its wild side. Guests are met with a dozen hand-stitched tents sheltering super luxurious double-bedroom spaces with magnificent en-suite bathrooms and private verandahs. It all takes on the character of an early 20th century tiger hunt, complete with sunset G&Ts.

Guests set out in jeeps by day searching for the few elusive tigers still living in the reserve. By night the stars come out, arboreal lanterns show the way to exquisite candlelit dinners cooked in clay ovens and using handpicked ingredients from the Sher Bagh farm. Then it’s time to settle by the campfire for tall tales of tigers that got away. Mornings are met with a full English breakfast, followed by a light and usually Italian lunch. If it does not feel like a tiger day, guests can take a horse or camel safari, or visit the 8th century Ranthambhore Fort in the heart of the park.

Although this is a camping and soft adventure experience the property is not without its urban amenities. There is Wi-Fi throughout the camp, medical services on demand, a library, laundry and bar, a swimming pool and even a Jungle Spa. As with all the Suján properties, Sher Bagh is a member of the Relais & Châteaux collection that seals in its status as one of the best resorts in India.

Sher Bagh runs seasonally from October to April, easily accessed by an airfield in Sawai Madhopur, around 10 miles from Sher Bagh or a helipad some two miles away from the Camp. The nearest commercial airport is Jaipur, 130 miles away. Guests can take a train from Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Jodhpur and other cities to Sawai Madhopur Junction eight miles away in excursions running three (Jaipur) to seven hours (Jodhpur).


Resort in Jaisalmer: Glamping at the Suján Serai

The Serai is a desert camp near exotic Jaisalmer. Fourteen tent suites, six luxury suites and a royal tented suite dot the rocky landscape, each a vision of Victorian luxury safari life within through large king beds, plush rugs and places to put those oversized steamer trunks. Some 21st century luxuries here include air-conditioning for those guests who want it, heating as well, hairdryer, Wi-Fi and stocked mini-fridge.

Guests come for the calm and the quiet and while they won’t spend days chasing tigers they may get to see a Great Indian Bustard or a family of gazelles. The golden citadel at Jaisalmer, too, is a great take-in as it was created in 1156 AD and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site guarding the old trade routes of the Great Thar Desert.

The landscapes of The Serai shift with the dunes that can be watched during amazing sunsets from verandahs or the pool. The main pavilion tent offers reception, sitting areas and a cocktail lounge, all accented with candle alcoves.

Guests can have meals in the dining tent or alfresco wherever they wish. Breakfast can be healthy continental, full English, or traditional Indian (try a delicious Masala omelet). Lunch can be traditional vegetarian thali or a light European selection. The dinner menu is a mix of carefully chosen chef surprises that fuse familiar western dishes with the ingredients and spice of Rajasthan.

The Serai’s location is less than an hour outside of Jaisalmer, a once thriving trading metropolis that is now a relic on these roads, but still very much kept up with intricately carved stone structures, ancient trading houses and step wells, temples and stone palaces and narrow, winding streets where visitors can browse and shop for silks and crafts.

The Serai is open from the beginning of September to the end of March. There is little in the way of convenient rail service. However, guests can fly to Jodhpur Airport (160 miles) and arrange transport to the camp through The Serai. There is also a small airstrip some 30 miles away.

Nature Resort in Rajasthan: Jawai Leopard Camp

For guests looking leopards, this camp near the Jawai Dam is the place to go. While leopard sightings are, perhaps, a secondary benefit, Jawai, between Udaipur and Jodhpur, provides plenty of incentive without the spots.

The camp offers ten spacious, creamy colored, hand-stitched tents with red and saffron-accented interiors, plenty of leather and chrome appointments and luxury amenities one would find at any five-star retreat. As a Relais & Chateaux property, Jawai keeps the standards as one of the best resorts in India but prides itself on presenting an exquisitely local experience in the Thar Desert, although completely saturated in luxury.

The 100-acre private estate offers a heated pool, a spa, a private walled garden and views of the dramatic rocky landscapes all around. Guests can dine under the stars on local tribal dishes while listening to their hypnotic strums and chants in private performance. Those in search of the elusive Indian leopard will rise before dawn and track these solo predators with the help of a knowing guide. Unlike Africa, an absence of lions here allows leopards to wander the paths and bush rather than hide in the high branches.

The leopards roaming the area are revered by the local villagers, who see the big cats as guardians of the hills. There are rarely attacks on humans, perhaps one in memory that may have happened 160 years ago.


While a stay at one of the best resorts in India is enough reason to go, there is much to see in Jawai. Jawai Bandh Lake is great for spotting birds, crocodiles and flamingos from the rim of the reservoir. Ranakpur Temple, a mysterious Jain temple is a marvel of 1,444 intricately carved white stone pillars, built 1496. Then there is Kumbhalgarh Fort, a 15th-century fortress that is a UNESCO World Heritage site and sits at the end of what is reputed to be the world’s second-longest wall.

Getting to Jawai is easiest through Udaipur, located 93 miles away. Jodhpur is 99 miles away. The train station at Jawai Bandh connects by a day train with Ahmedabad and Jaipur.

For reservations or more information, contact reservations@sujanluxury.com


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

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KAA News Roundup

Mukul Resort in Nicaragua is a hot spot for surfing, and now new flights make it easier than ever to get there. Jess from Choosing Chia writes on her Nicaragua trip including a stop at Mukul, and Dallas News writes on Mukul, Tour this swoon-worthy luxury resort on Nicaragua’s breezy southern coast.

To find one of the 10 best infinity pools in the world head to The Resort at Pedregal, also named one of Mexico’s most romantic.

Nestled in the heart of the Mayan forest, Chablé Resort & Spa is now considered the world’s best-designed hotel.

Read about the family friendly Vik Retreats in Uruguay & Chile in The Observer.

To the Galapagos, where Pikaia Lodge is featured in The Wall Street Journal’s article, “The Galápagos Islands: An Upscale Traveler’s Guide.”

For a dose of wellness, head to Ananda Spa in the Himalayas, featured in Kiwi Collection.

Martha Stewart Weddings calls Lake Austin Spa a great pick for a weekend bachelorette party, or stay longer and enjoy all the water therapy benefits as detailed in Goop.

The new Faena Miami Beach is a must visit. Get inspired by this article from Apartment Therapy or this Q & A from Forbes with Alan Faena, the visionary behind the hotel.

Eight Best Countryside Getaways in the US from Jetsetter features Wyoming’s Brush Creek Ranch and Vermont’s Twin Farms.

Twin Farms is also featured in Town & Country as one of 17 Ridiculously Luxurious All-Inclusive Resorts along with The Brando and Gili Lankanfushi.

The Brando is also featured in The Robb Report as one of Three Far-Flung Resorts That Are Worth the 15-Hour Trek. Song Saa in Cambodia also makes the list.

Another far flung location is Africa, and if you love photography, check out the 3-night photography workshops from Great Plains Conservation Nov. ’17 – Mar. ’18 at select camps in Botswana & Kenya.

News from Six Senses Resorts includes the much anticipated Six Senses Bhutan, featured in Architectural Digest, “The Most Unexpected New Luxury Adventure Travel.”

In The Seychelles, Six Senses Zil Pasyon wins The Editor’s Award for Best New Hotel at Telegraph Luxury Ultratravel Awards.

And in The Maldives, Six Senses Laamu to partner with leading surf pioneer Tropicsurf this August.


Looking for the Best Beach Hotel in Los Angeles? Malibu Beach Inn

If you’re in pursuit of the perfect coastal retreat, then head straight to California’s famous seaside haven – Malibu. There, in the heart of the small town is the illustrious boutique hotel, Malibu Beach Inn. Hands down the best beach hotel in Los Angeles.

The property itself sits directly on the sands of sunny Carbon Beach, aptly nicknamed “Billionaire’s Beach,” and each of the 47 well-appointed guestrooms display uninterrupted views of the Pacific Ocean. They’re also outfitted with a private balcony and fireplace, guaranteeing maximum restoration right there in your room.
Malibu Activities

Malibu itself lies just north of Santa Monica, but in an enclave that facilitates a ten degree temperature difference and very little wind chill. Which means, the plethora of Malibu beaches are always perfect for sunning, swimming, and surfing.

But while surfing may be the most famous Malibu pastime, what with Surfrider Beach, Little Dume, and Zuma Beach all located in the city’s stretch, it’s not the only way to enjoy the sun and sea. There’s also a handful of locals ready to take Malibu Beach Inn guests to a number of prestigious paddle boarding and kayaking locations.

And if watersports aren’t your thing, head to the hills where horseback riding, hiking, and biking are prevalent. Or skip physical exertion altogether, throw on a dress, a hat, maybe a bow tie, and grab a glass of vino at any of the local wineries.

In fact, Malibu Beach Inn has partnered with Malibu Wines to create the perfect day trip experience. The Malibu Winery Excursion package includes champagne, picnic lunch, and transportation. And by booking with Malibu Beach Inn’s expert reservations team, you’ll be able to skip the entrance line for immediate leisure among an excess of sun, wine, and live music.

No matter which activity you choose, just know that with the Santa Monica Mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, there’s almost a guarantee you’ll spot some form of wildlife – whether it be a deer, a pod of dolphins, or a family of whales.


Local Charms

Part of the Malibu charm derives directly from the innate small town affluence. Local shopping is just down the street with well-loved brands such as Alice + Olivia, Intermix, James Perse, and lululemon; but rest assured that within each store is a personalized experience and a stylist ready to help you find the perfect outfit.

Malibu Beach Inn’s very own CBC (Carbon Beach Club Restaurant) is no different, as Chef Cody Dickey designs his menus around what’s seasonally available. Specifically, Chef Cody ventures to Malibu’s very own One Gun Ranch, where he chats with the farmers about what’s growing and then crafts his dishes accordingly.

CBC’s expert Bar Director, Josh Curtis, mixes up his own concoctions with similar mindset. At the start of each season comes a new cocktail menu, each drink mixed with local produce and homemade provisions. Curtis’s expertise comes from utilizing natural sugars instead of syrup, enabling the patron to fully enjoy the unique flavors of each produce and spirit.

The onsite spa within Malibu Beach Inn is run by leading skin care expert, Veronica Barton-Schwartz, Malibu’s designated skincare queen whose own home spa is located just up the road from the hotel. But her award-winning practices and skincare line are conveniently available inside Malibu Beach Inn’s tranquil, oceanfront spa suite.

Redesign by Waldo Fernandez

When the Mani Brothers purchased the property in 2015 they immediately implemented a soft renovation. They went through and escalated the guest experience by exchanging skincare amenities, private bar items, mattresses, and linens.

However, the bigger project was in syndicate with acclaimed designer Waldo Fernandez. Waldo walked the property and quickly realized that the surrounding sea needed to be the main focal point at all times. So he scrapped the dark wood and heavy furniture, relocated the front desk, built a bar for CBC, and implemented a blue-gray color scheme.

He then took his blues and grays to the guest rooms, where he designed custom pieces of chic white oak furniture and textural rugs. And with that, Waldo Fernandez successfully transformed the feel of the entire property.

With assistance from their expert General Manager, Gregory Day, the Mani Brothers integrated a number of additional amenities such as Smeg tea kettles, Nespresso coffee brewers, Italian Bellino Linen, delicious Bamford hair and skin products, remote controlled Toto bidets, dual HD televisions, and extensive digital in-room entertainment systems.

They also constructed an expansive in-room private bar, featuring Dean and Deluca snacks, an assortment of spirits, and an exclusive selection of wine hand-picked by the onsite sommelier. But of course, if you can’t find what you’re yearning for in the private bar, just call down to Private Dining and Chef Cody will concoct any number of delicious items that are sure to satiate your craving.

Small Touches

Throughout the property, it’s ultimately the immense attention to detail that solidifies an incredible Malibu experience. From moment of arrival, when you first encounter the thoughtful reception agents, ready to assist with whatever you need; to moment of turndown with delectably chosen Vosges chocolates.

Down on Malibu Beach Inn’s private stretch of sand you’ll find imported Italian loungers and lululemon clad beach attendants, ready to bring you any item off the full menu. And if you choose to dine on the terrace instead of the sand, skilled servers outfitted in the fitting johnnie-o blue laid are ready to assist.

And then there’s the Mani Brothers’ carefully curated art collection, expertly placed around the property; the brother’s lithographs and originals transform hallways and dining rooms.

Throughout the entire property, you’ll notice that every detail – big and small – has been carefully thought out. Combined with Malibu Beach Inn’s expert service and close proximity to the sea, it’s no wonder the boutique property is Los Angeles’ best beach hotel.

Malibu Beach Inn
22878 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
(310) 651 7777
Email: reservations@malibubeachinn.com
Website: www.malibubeachinn.com


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.


Three Exotic Island Getaways for Revving Romance

Every romance can use the heated boost of an exotic island getaway. Some islands escapes, however, can leave a couple cold while other exotic island getaways simply will take their breath away.

Three exotic island getaways that will prime the heart pump with pinch-me dream settings in remote locations are The Brando in the Society Islands of Tahiti, Song Saa, off the coast of Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand, and Gili Lankanfushi in Indian Ocean amid the islands of the Maldives. The islands all present perfect places for what every couple requires: to disappear, to delight, to discover, to rediscover and to remember.

The Brando: Royalty, Celebrity, Sustainability

Disappearing is easy when your exotic island getaway is deep into the Pacific on an atoll so remote that mutineers of the Bounty tried to hide there. The Brando is an island unto itself on Tetiaro in French Polynesia – an island you might never find except for the glitterati that keep popping in for a weekend or a prolonged stay. Most recently those names included Johnny Depp, Barack Obama, who found the setting calm and evocative for writing his White House memoires; and Pippa Middleton, the younger sister of Kate Middleton, honeymooned there recently with new husband in one of the resort’s 35 lavish villas.

While remote as the crow flies, the island is easily accessible by private plane in a tranquil atoll 30 miles north of the island of Tahiti. The resort proudly shows its LEED platinum certification in its cleanliness, operations and focus on the surrounding environment. Beaches are made of delicious white sand and guests share their spaces with sea turtles, manta rays, colorful sea life and rare birds.

The island does come with more celebrity lore, of course. It is not hard to squint and see a thin, tanned and barefoot Marlon Brando walking the beaches with his new Tahitian bride met during the filming of the 1962 version of Mutiny on the Bounty. He bought the 193-acre island, composed of 12 motus, for around $200,000. It was a favored place for Tahitian royalty at the time and now offers one- to three-bedroom villas on spacious private beaches, each with its own secluded plunge pools and all designed around clean, renewable energy sources.

Villas range from 1,033 square feet to 2,648 square feet with cozy sitting areas in some, living rooms in others, private terraces or decks, lavish bathrooms, dining areas and kitchens in some, palatial closets, even an outdoor tub. Unplugged does not mean disconnected. Villas have rooms furnished with TV and DVD entertainment, with Wi-Fi throughout.

Dining is exquisitely French with the award-winning cuisine of Guy Martin of the Michelin two-star restaurant Le Grand Véfour in Paris. Venues range from the casual Beachcomber Café beachfront restaurant, to the fine dining Les Mutinés by Guy Martin restaurant, to the Te Manu Bar and Bob’s Bar, and in-room service.

Heavenly holistic body treatments happen at the Varua Te Ora Polynesian Spa. At the Explorer’s Center, guests can enjoy lectures from on-site scientists, and a library. Fitness fans can keep up their regimen at a fully equipped cadio and strength training gym – but the activities available may prove more interesting: bicycling, snorkeling, and bird watching, paddle boarding and scuba diving. Guests can explore the lagoon by Polynesian outrigger canoe, take a guided tour of the atoll’s motus, go out stargazing with a naturalist, swim in clear calm waters at Mermaid Bay or relax at the beach or pool.

Indulge in island chic black pearl jewelry or spend the afternoon with marine biologists at the Tetiaroa Society NGO’s laboratory located near the resort. Days are full of discovery in both science and romance.

The Brando is owned and operated by Pacific Beachcomber, which also owns and operates award winning resorts on Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, as well as the luxury cruise ship m/s Paul Gauguin. Published rates start at $3,381 per couple per night.


The Brando
Tetiaroa Private Island, Tahiti, French Polynesia
(+689) 40 866 366
Email: reservation@thebrando.com

Gili Lankanfushi: Where the sea sings and breezes whisper

As the world gets smaller, the Maldives, once as remote as you could utter and still be on this planet, just gets closer and closer. The Maldives is really some 1,900 islands in 26 atolls spread over 56,000 square miles in a scattered archipelago below the nadir of Sri Lanka. Only 200 of those islands are inhabited and find Gili Lankanfushi among them in what seems to be a one island/one resort tradition.

Total flight duration from New York to Malé, the capital of the Maldives, is usually a little more than 18 hours – more if that flight is from Los Angeles. No flights are non-stop from the U.S. and that gives couples more time to enjoy the anticipation of staying in what has been tabbed as one of the top resorts in the world by TripAdvisor.

As romantic island getaway, Gili Lankanfushi could be considered a tempting model of aspiration. The Guests find 45 spacious overwater villas following a 20-minute speedboat ride from Velana International Airport on Malé. Wooden villas rise from the shallow ocean on stilts. It’s a quiet island, less than 2,000 feet long where guest move from one corner of the island to another on bicycles or barefoot in the soft sands. Privacy is the mantra with dedicated 24-hour butler service for each villa, terrace to beach access for each villa (make that six steps and counting), large living areas, expansive bathrooms, outdoor shower, even a roof loft on some villas so you can sleep under the stars.

Each villa offers private over water sundeck or rooftop sundeck with daybeds and dining, an open-air private bathroom with separate glass walled shower area, a king bed, and 2,250 square feet of aromatic hardwood interiors. The Private Reserve takes it to a whole new level with15,069 square feet of space on two floors, adding a second master suite with floor to ceiling windows on three sides, a guest room suite, lavish bath areas, a gym, his and her 24-hour butlers, a  gourmet kitchen, customized wine cellar, personal motorized water vehicles, waterslide, pool, and entertainment room.

There are three restaurants specializing in dishes from Japan, Asia and the subcontinent, often with live cooking stations and always seafood. If nothing else, couples can share the joys of exploring new flavors in the homemade ice creams. Although an island in the middle of nowhere, Gili Lankanfushi is famous for its wine cave and its collection of prized labels that pour at these tables. A favorite Gili Lankanfushi experience is the wine tastings (with chocolate and cheese to complement) put together by the sommelier as well as several unique Tasting Journeys with Sake, wine, whiskey, Champagne and others paired with delectable food.

Remote as it is, there is much to do on this remote romantic island escape. The Meera Spa offers detoxifying couples treatments using seaweed as a central ingredient. Guests can listen to the song of the waves and watch glowing fish below the spa’s overwater location as they are massaged.

Snorkeling and diving in the surrounding clear warm waters is a divine but the resort is also gaining traction as a place to surf. The resort recently opened a dedicated surf center and now offers lessons in all seasons for beginners to pros.

Island fever is rare but should it strike it is easily quelled by a visit to, well, another island. As the capital of the Maldives is only minutes away, guests make day trips for shopping, dining and explorations. Nights offer movies under the stars – with popcorn and chocolate fondue.

Published starting rates run about $1,224 (subject to taxes) per villa per night, not including meals.


Gili Lankanfushi
Lankanfushi Island, North Malé Atoll
Republic of Maldives
(+011 960) 664 0304
Email: info@gili-lankanfushi.com


Song Saa: Floating to Cambodia

The two tiny heart shaped islands forming the remote resort of Song Saa is a mere 45-minute speedboat ride from Cambodia’s southwest coast has been a work of love for Rory and Melita Hunter who discovered the paradise Song Saa in 2006 and went about bringing its magic to life.

As scuba enthusiasts, Song Saa was never intended to exist as a resort paradise alone but always a work in progress – that work being the surrounding island habitats in what became Cambodia’s first marine reserve. Song Saa is the Khmer phrase for “The Sweethearts,” which describes the two side-by-side islands now connected by a bridge across the marine reserve. Island water is treated here and reused for growth of native vegetation. Driftwood and timber are recycled from old fishing boats to build furniture and construction for the resort’s 27 open and airy villas.

While these islands cover a 17 acres there are plenty of beaches, coves, walks, hidden snorkeling and diving sites and nooks and crannies around the resort itself to have privacy and the peace one seeks from a remote exotic island getaway.

Active guests can visit the watersports center for morning snorkels in search of seahorses around coral reefs –a must–, or afternoon kayaking through shady mangroves with the resident marine biologist, or finding out the best places around the island for night-time dips in bioluminescent waters.

All villas have ocean views – some are on the beach and some are over the water. Built with one or two bedrooms, each has its own deck with plunge pool and stunning views. Villas have thatched roofs and cooling stonewalls, huge four-poster fantasy beds wrapped in soft muslin and plenty of other amenities – stocked mini-bar, Wi-Fi, perfumed toiletries. All is part of the tariff, whether for one night or several.

Dining is a treat with Khmer fusion classics mixed with fresh local seafood and locally grown produce. Menus changed seasonally, if not daily, as diners enjoy the panoramas and the creatively repurposed driftwood décor. Guests, too, can get creative – about where on Song Saa to dine. Impeccable private meals can be presented just about anywhere one can sit and take in the beauty.

While spending some island time at Song Saa, a romantic island getaway should also contain some spa time and on Song Saa those moments are built into highly transformative experiences. Many of the treatments and themes have been inspired by the Khmer people and their use of natural herbs, plants and ancient relaxation practices to support the body’s natural healing.

Song Saa Private Island is accessible via private boat or yacht from Sihanoukville, a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh International Airport in Cambodia.  Private yachts of all sizes can be moored there with a day rate inclusive of resort facilities, pool, restaurant and bar access, and some non-motorized sports. Helicopter transfers are also available from nearby cities, including Siem Reap.

Nightly rates run around $1,300 per night, inclusive.

Song Saa Private Island
#108e1, Street 19
Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Tel: +011 855 23 686 0361
Email: reservations@songsaa.com
Website: www.songsaa.com


Kurtz-Ahlers & Associates– Curator of undiscovered luxury travel locales with insider info and news from our worldwide portfolio of hotels, wellness retreats, and eco-resorts. View our portfolio on our Online Directory.

Sign up up for our Wellness Travel Updates and our monthy newsletter for the latest exclusive offers and news from around the globe, follow us on twitter, like us on facebook or follow us on Instagram and Pinterest.


Chable Resort in The Yucatan Wins Prix Versailles Design Award

Nestled in the heart of the Mayan forest, the five-star Chablé Resort & Spa is now considered the world’s best-designed hotel. The property is the winner of this year’s Prix Versailles award, a designation presented by UNESCO and the International Union of Architects to the structures that have the most remarkable interior and exterior architecture.

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Third Night Free at The Resort at Pedregal

Getaway to Los Cabos – book two nights and get the third night free! Indulge in the most luxurious, Five Diamond resort in Cabo San Lucas with this new, exciting offering and enjoy all of the wonderful amenities of the resort. Offer includes welcome margarita, airport transfers, breakfast, and more.

Last Minute Escape Los Cabos package includes:

• Complimentary third night

• Breakfast for two each morning in Don Manuel’s restaurant

• One set of roundtrip complimentary transfers from Los Cabos International Airport. Transfers are via our private luxury vehicles. Of course, you’ll be welcomed to Los Cabos by our Airport Greeters!

Also included are The Resort at Pedregal’s regular amenities – a welcome Margarita or refreshing Hibiscus water upon arrival, welcome bottle of Tequila, daily afternoon snack of two Coronitas and chips with guacamole, a refreshment center stocked with soft drinks, juices, coffee and bottled water, our nightly turndown service and sweets, and cookie treats upon departure.

Take advantage of this Los Cabos getaway today and call reservations at 844-733-7342 or book online.

Please note: This is a three-night package ONLY; additional nights will be at prevailing BAR (Best Available Rate), by Room Type. Breakfast for two is included in the additional BAR rated nights. Free nights are not cumulative; only the 3rd night is free for stays longer than 3 nights. Dates are subject to change based on inventory availability.

Click here for more information and booking >>