7 sunsets to die for…

September 1, 2019 in AUSTRALIA,MALDIVES,MALLORCA,SOUTH AFRRICA | Comments (0)

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21 Nettleton above Cape Town’s Clifton beaches

In radiant luxury

For romance, inspiration or simply instagrammability we love sunsets. All the more LUSCIOUS if there is a luxury resort behind the scenes, with sensitively attuned staff ready to place a sundowner in your hand at the right moment. Here are some rewarding havens i have seen or researched.

I have been to the first four – and now they are ticked off my Bucket List – but I would love love love to return. The other three are still on the list – until I get there there will be no images, as all mine are original.


1. Mesmerizing Cape Town sunsets – 21 Nettleton


This artful boutique hotel perches high on a plunging slope above the dazzling white dots of Clifton’s beaches on the Atlantic side of the Table Mountain range. A handful of guests gathers before sunset on the verandas for sundowners …

As the sun circles overhead and plunges into the sea, the sky and ocean are flooded with red, purpole and gold. If you are lucky, as we were, the local hang-gliding club hops one at a time from Lions Head to hover above you with wings pink in the sunset, and land way below on one of the beaches. As the bubbles in your Graham Beck wink, lights begin to twinkle in Camps Bay, and the Twelve Apostle range is black velvet against a delicate sky.

With only 6 rooms, including a penthouse often occupied by the owner, 21 Nettleton makes you feel like his privileged personal guest. Helping yourself at the generous bar, you wander around the opulent villa lounges as if all this is yours – art and sculptures brimming over to the grand piano and sunset verandas.


2. Savage safari sunsets – Londolozi


Sunsets in safari country are fiery and short lived – eclipsed by savage nights, when lion and leopard are likely to steal out of the shadows and slink past your open safari vehicle with luminous eyes.

Londolozi lies in South Africa’s best game watching area along the Sabi Sand River – and is famous for leopard spotting. This exclusive lodge offers Relais and Châteaux cuisine, artful safari decor and suites to die for with wide decks and jewel like pools. But you will not be bathing there at sunset – you will be on safari.

Driving out after a satiating High Tea, your ranger will park the Land Rover with a view, perhaps hippos soaking in a dam, and out comes the hamper to provide sundowners and nibbles (like G&Ts and biltong – raw dried meat). Your ranger drives off again before dark, when the tracker is armed with spotlights to catch predators prowling…


Note: I could have given any of my favourite safari lodges in South Africa – all will take you out into savage sunsets for wild life camera shooting. 


3. Barefoot Maldivian sunsets – Soneva Fushi

Watching out for dolphins in a golden peachey satin sunset

Calm lagoons sheltered by coral reef amplify sunset magnificence with 50 shades of blue shifting to 50 shades of red, gold and purple. Since every luxury resort in the Maldives consists of only one hotel on a private island there is always a sunset side and there is always a sunset bar to enjoy a Tequila Sunset. And there are always sunset cruises…

For those who adore sundowners barefoot, Soneva Fushi is a dream – with its relaxed lifestyle soothed by intuitive service and tinged with the mystique of its owners Sonu and Eva Shivdasani.  Apart from the resort’s sunset bar and glossy sunset cruises, cocktail parties on the sandbank provide a chance to share sunset adulation with other coolly chic guests cradling glasses of bubbly, with toes in the white sand.

The charming Crusoe quirkiness of Soneva Fushi includes beach villas in recycled wood, cycling though living jungle, and multiple flavours from their own organic gardens. As a rehydrating health measure, choose a hairy coconut with a straw through a hole as your sundowner.

4. Surrealistic Mallorcan sunsets – Belmond La Residencia

 
A delicate, trembling sunset – and yet dramatic – as the audience of guests in the know  pulls out chairs from Miro Bar and gazes up at the towering rocky peaks of the Tramuntana mountains, waiting.

Miro cocktails are a desirable way to while away the time – though gin with hibiscus comes a close second.  There is expectant silence – and then comes a murmur. It has happened. The peak has become almost transparent, emitting rosy light – before disappearing into dusk.

If this valley is a long way to travel for such an ephemeral sunset, don’t miss the rest. The hotel is has it all from Michelin starred cuisine to exquisite decor celebrating its finca history, “Pa Amb Oli” lunches high in the ancient olive groves, and art. The hotel holds art classes and art tours in the Bohemian village of Deia. The citrus-scented garden is adorned with sculptures, and the hotel walls hung lavishly with original works including Miro – hence Miro bar.

5. Awe-struck Australian Sunsets – Longitude 101

A massive hunk of rock sitting in the middle of Australia, Uluru is the continent’s most mystical spot, revered by the Aboriginal people, with sunsets beyond belief. The naturally rusty red rock of the monolith seems to come alive and glow from within.

With 16 tents on the dunes offering views of the rock, Longitude 101 gives sunsets and more with the intelligent luxury of the Baillie lodges. Their lavish all-Inclusive includes small group tours with sundowners and canapés close to  Uluru (Ayers Rock) and Kata Tjuta (The Olgas) to see the supernatural light displays of purple, red and psychedelic orange, and learn about the Anangu beliefs.

Sunsets can also be viewed from the tents, sophisticated billowing white spaces with decks, from the highly rated restaurant, and the plunge pool – where you help yourself from the open bar. Or, for that not so little bit extra, a private dinner set up for sunset worship.

6. Extreme Atacama sunsets – Awasi Atacama


Dust is a perfect prism for creating magnificent sunsets, absorbing the blue light and scattering red and gold – so deserts inevitably come into the top lists of sunsets for the bucket list. Where else dustier and drier than the Atacama desert in Chile?

At the small Relais & Châteaux property Awasi Atacama in the small tourist town of San Pedro  you are in exclusive company with only 10 rooms hidden behind Adobe walls and your very own guide to take you on excursions, walking, cycling, and driving  in a 4×4  to salt lakes, fluted mountains, and arid wastes.

The excursion to one of the most awe-inspiring sunsets on the planet goes into Salt mountain range. Looking down on the lunar landscape of the Moon Valley and knife-edged mountains, you wait with an aperitif and nibbles. Otherworldly shapes of the time-weathered landscapes reflect different shades of red as the sun goes down, and turn ghostly in the cold air of night, especially when the moon rises.

7. Spiritual Balinese sunsets – Six Senses Uluwatu

A soul-stirring sunset in Bali draws the spiritually minded to Uluwatu Temple, one of Bali’s six key temples, perched on a 70m cliff. Hindus come here to worship Siva Rudra. Tourists come to see the nightly traditional dance performances imbued with exquisite Balinese grace – and the sun dropping into the sea, splashing radiant gold.

Just 10 minutes away is Six Senses Uluwatu, one of the newest luxury resorts on “island of the gods”. Perched 74m above the sea on the cliff top, the resort’s views are breathtaking. Because of the angle of the sun’s rays, the sunset spills gold over the sky while waves surge below. 




In synch with the natural beauty and spirituality of Bali, the whole resort is designed to revere nature and the views – from sea-facing villas to tiered cliff edge pools and breathtaking dining venues.

The best place to immerse in the sunset’s changing colours with a signature cocktail in hand is the Cliff Bar, or if willing to splash out for sunset privacy  – the infinity pool of the Presidential Suite, which perches right in the cliff edge







Maldives – in the heart forever

September 20, 2017 in MALDIVES | Comments (1)

Maldives – forever heaven. At least in my heart, though the mushrooming of hotels on once deserted islands can create some despondency in those of us who discovered this world of atolls and lagoons long ago. Some earlier blogs are now in pages

aleah

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The dreamy world again

August 18, 2017 in MALDIVES | Comments (0)

A few more images. For my travel story see the last post.

Picture 1 of 11

Scenic flight by seaplane from Male to Soneva Fushi

This is a personal note. I adore Soneva Fushi, If I sound a bit too professional and remote from the experience its because there was too much going on in my mind. I was there this time with my grandchild. The previous time (2014) with my daughter, who passed on to another world last year, 18 April 2016.

I could not see her clearly in my mind’s eye, just feel her presence in the trees, which somehow caught her with them forever. I wept in my heart at Turtle Beach as it had seemed so far away last time, like a shipwreck beach where we shared adventure. This time it was the scene of a dinner party reserved for a Great white Russian hunter where we ended up by accident. We moved on to Dolphin Beach for our dinner by the glimmering sea, and I wondered where the rustic swing had gone, where Aleah laid her slender frame and communed with the tropics.

She had been ill and gone through tough treatments but got better every day at Soneva Fushi, and I remembered Aleah at By the Beach dreaming in the starlight on a sunbed as the sea seethed in. By the Beach was not in action this time and was going to become an overwater restaurant, now half built.  I felt Aleah came to meet me and whisper at me through the air  that had gone viscous like the luminous lagoon. I felt her, but I could only see old photos of her in my mind.

Meanwhile I had a few small upsets like a twisted ankle, and a foot stabbed by hidden coral at the cocktail party, and was l helped by my treasured grandchild as I limped along. We had so much fun, and so much laughter, but sad times too.

Like the time I told her we should try to be truly alive. Not live in Snapchat and photos but be here and now and at Soneva Fushi, which we might never visit again,

Thank you little F being such sweet company and for putting up with your grandmother….


Paradise at the flick of a switch

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Returning to the tropical island of Soneva Fushi after more than three years, it seemed as laid back as ever. But there was a new special switch on the wall of the family villa.

It brought  us  closer to paradise in the way intended by the visionary Sonu and Eva Shivdasani…

The Maldives’ first barefoot luxury resort was founded 1995 and it still evokes feelings of paradise. It is not just that you have a palm fringed villa on a white beach by a luminous lagoon, with your own hammock in your jungle-wrapped garden, attended to by your warm and thoughtful butler Mr or Ms Friday….

It’s not just the vast buffets with mountains of fresh organic choices, or the complimentary icecream room open all day, or all the other generous details.

It is that you can have a holiday away from all the buzz and agitation of our modern world at the flick of a switch (or check up on the world when you need to.) and feel the peace of a coral island.

There are many unlabelled switches in the villa but this magic switch is clearly labelled wifi. A few years ago you didn’t get wifi in the villas – now you can switch it on or off – especially useful when you have kids in the second bedroom of your adorable villa.

The 11 year old  already chats on Snapchat and launches videos on Musical.ly. These are rather addictive pastimes – moreover her friends in Sweden unaware of the time distance were shooting pictures of slime and other diversions to her in the middle of her night – so her initial joy and energy vanished and she slept on her sunbed rather than getting in the water to snorkel over the fairyland of colourful fish near our villa.

Until I noticed the switch, and after bedtime there was no more wifi to wake her up..

What a difference to her energy level…

Energy and harmony

The idealistic owners Sonu and Eva have done their best to make up for the shortfalls of the modern world. To give couples and families an earth time, and a harmony with nature. They have carried out a plethora of eco friendly measures like using sustainable wood and thatch in the villas, organic food, waste recycling – even turning old glass bottles into artwork and banning water in plastic bottles. So of course they have also resisted too much electronic interference.

While other kids clubs in the Maldives have laid on the computer games and electronic noticeboards, at the magnificent new den kids club, these are absent.

In their absence old-fashioned hands-on creativity is unleashed. A whole lego room, art room, dressing up room, and of course a little adrenaline with slides into the pool and hands on football game where other kids join the 11 year old in smashing goals with lots of High Fives to celebrate

It’s a nurturing place too, with dedicated staff.

 

” A wonderful kids club – I handed the baby over and a few seconds later she was asleep” said a film star we had met without realizing she was anything except a charming person and mother.

Only when the open air movie house put on one of her movies did we realize.

Which brings me to another point about Soneva Fushi and it’s earthiness.

Everyone dresses casually most of the time. At the cocktail party on the sandbank you may see some fancy finery – but almost everyone will be barefoot. If you really planned to wear your Gucci shoes your travel agent didn’t inform you properly. They will be charmingly whipped away from you and put in a bag on arrival – and though you get them back, like everyone else you will be walking barefoot and wriggling your toes in the sand, which is the stuff the island is made over.

 Getting back to earth

But though everyone kind of looks equal. they are not. There are some exceedingly wealthy people here, pleased to get back to earth, especially families.

After all the disappointments and broken promises of family life on the frontline of business, government or entertainment they need earth time with their families and other beloveds.

Not just two generations but three or four, there are some vast villas like resorts within resorts where intimacy is nurtured with near self sufficiency. Almost half of the villas have 3 or more bedrooms – up to 9 bedrooms.

All on the beach naturally….

Though our 11 year old had been enjoying our little pool in our family villa suite, she gave a sigh of envy when we looked over villa 15.

The slide from the upper floor into the lagoon pool was a source of wonder, so was the gym.. But then do was a banyan tree growing up in the middle of the house.

The jungle is as important in the Soneva Fushi experience as the beach, the villa pools, and the sea.

In conceiving a life at Soneva Fushi that would make up for the deficiency of the modern city experience, Sonu and Eva visualized just this. Kids cycling or walking around the jungle in perfect safety with a sense of wonder.

 

“Away from the nanny, the chauffeur or perhaps the security men,” said Sonu. “They can feel freedom and adventure”

 

For adults too the jungle creates an added dimension – back to remembering childhood perhaps, with a sense of mystery from winding paths – and a sketchy map that ensures you get lost a few times and slow down.

If you have tiny tots who can’t cycle themselves simply take over a large tricycle where the little one can be loaded. And wind through the jungle barefoot.

Soneva Fushi is a large island by Maldivian standards which makes the jungle experience exceptional. among the tropical leaves and lianes it is alive with little creatures like lizards, water hens, rabbits, and flying foxes that will spread their wings over the sky of your jungle bathroom at twilight. While coming from the beach into your jungle garden are hermit crabs. They will cooperatively drag their borrowed shells into a sand castle, to add to the thrill for the youngsters.

Other experiences the kids and grown up kids will never forget are the famous Soneva signatures of ice cream parlour open all day, Cinema Paradiso where you lie on loungers staring up at the stars munching popcorn as you wait for a movie to start.

Then there are the surprises, like a dinner arranged on the beach, or after a sunset cruise (where with normal luck you see dolphins popping out of the ocean)  you may get dropped on a pier where there is live music and canapes, and then walk along a beautifully lit path  to find more delicacies in a forest clearing.

 

 Magic’s bottomline

Behind all the magic lie two solid things. A commitment to the environment with waste management, water treatment etc., and true luxury hotel quality – with excellent food and beverage, well maintsined villas.  and effortless service. There are butlers for every villa who will help you with every possible problem that emerges – like falling off your bike (to name a true incident and bringing instant medical care to me).

A range of exceptional experiences are usually added on to feel you have touched all the elements the Msldives is known for (extra fee if you have not managed to get some added value).  A dolphin cruise. Snorkeling and picnic on a deserted island. Manta ray and whale shark swims within season (May to Sep).

But to tell the truth there is good snorkeling on the house reef – which is some 50 metres out, or  easily reached from the sunset bar. The lovely film star I wrote of above brought her family there on  my advice, including kids and grandmother.

Great for kids….

MAH00184

Great also for grandmothers and grandfathers…great grandmothers and great grandfathers.

And of course, for honeymooner who want to get back to nature…