2022’s Best Travel Destinations

From a converted Indian fortress to an upscale Mauritian party resort, bask in the brilliance of the year’s top luxury options.

By Richard Clune 13/12/2022

Beyond the antipodean bubble, here is a lofty list of the world’s most indulgent wellness havens that deliver head-turning style and holistic health in equal measure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MAYBOURNE RIVIERA

The Maybourne Riviera: Luxury Mediterranean Hotel

The owner of London’s beloved Claridge’s and Connaught hotels, among others, has brought its inimitable brand of oh-soBritish personalised luxe hospitality—not to mention one of its top managers, Boris Messmer—to the limestone cliffs of the Côte d’Azur’s Roquebrune-Cap-Martin. An international coterie of aesthetic arbiters came together to design the 69 rooms and suites, light and bright and each with a terrace overlooking the Mediterranean Sea; that superstar team included Hong Kong’s André Fu, Irishman Bryan O’Sullivan and Paris-based Pierre Yovanovitch. The property is a refreshingly contemporary retreat on a quiet stretch of coast not far from Italy and Monaco, known for its heritage hotels. The town, once frequented by Coco Chanel and Eileen Gray, is as fashionable as ever, so pack for a day at the private waterfront club, which is just a short ride down the cliffs in a bespoke beach buggy. Rooms start from approx. $1,495;

maybourneriviera.com

SIX SENSES FORT BARWARA

Rajasthan Resorts and Hotels in India | Six Senses Fort Barwara

Rajasthan is replete with royal residences turned ravishing resorts, but the latest luxe lair here is the most over-the-top yet. On a relatively remote hilltop between pink-hued Jaipur and tiger-filled Ranthambore National Park, wellness specialist Six Senses has opened a 48-suite retreat in a 700-year-old walled fortress, which features not one but two palaces, plus a pair of temples and even its own stepwell. Thanks to a decade-long restoration, the high-ceilinged halls of one palace have become the lobby, while a soaring lookout tower now holds private dining areas for one of the three restaurants, all of which rely on locally sourced ingredients. Six Senses combined the temples and the second palace to create a 2,780-squaremetre spa and fitness zone, offering modalities from Ayurveda and meditation to more Western traditions. Tear yourself away from the spa to savour the palm-planted courtyard gardens and the 25-metre pool, lined with handcrafted mosaic tiles, newly nestled amidst the greenery. Rooms from approx. $1,335;

sixsenses.com

STERREKOPJE

Sterrekopje, South Africa | Timbuktu Travel

This 50-hectare farm in South Africa’s winelands is a passion project for Dutch entrepreneur Nicole Boekhoorn and her wife, Fleur Huijskens. The couple consider it more a sanctuary than a hotel, with regeneration the goal—not only in the practices employed at the on-site farm but also for guests, who’ll depart their stay restored and rebooted via a series of treatments, dubbed “journeys”, ranging from Reiki to intuitive massage. There’s nothing so prosaic as a focus on paperwork at check-in, either. Rather, arrivals involve a cleansing foot bath (there’s wine on ice, too). Some of the 11 rooms are housed in several low-slung cottages decorated in warm earth tones. Four-poster beds dominate most of them, and bathrooms feature an assortment of plunging tubs— particularly charming is one made from an old wine barrel. “It’s all a gentle invitation, and no one’s obliged to do anything,” she says. “This is a heart project.” Rooms from approx. $620 per night, plus approx. $1,520 per person for a three-night journey;

sterrekopje.com

HOTEL DES HORLOGERS

Hôtel des Horlogers – Official Bespoke

“In the winter, you could ski from the roof on the top floor straight into the valley,” jokes André Cheminade, the GM of the newest addition to the Audemars Piguet campus in Switzerland: its own 50-room hotel. His claim nods to the soaring facade of the property, with zigzagging levels evoking mountain switchback roads, a typical flourish from Danish wunderkind Bjarke Ingels, the architect who designed both this property and the watch brand’s spiral-shaped museum nearby. Minimalist but quirky interiors are executed in conjunction with French architect Pierre Minassian—expect oystershell-like sculptures, ceiling decorations made from blanched driftwood and sloping corridors. The notoriously controlling watchmaker has allowed outsiders, albeit ones with blue-chip names, to helm the restaurants and spa: Emmanuel Renaut is the Michelin three-star chef at the hotel’s two dining spots, while the spa is operated by high-end local brand Alpeor. Rooms from approx. $655;

hoteldeshorlogers.com

LUX* GRAND BAIE

LUX* GRAND BAIE RESORT & RESIDENCES: 2022 Reviews & Prices

It was the sailboats of his childhood that inspired Mauritian architect JeanFrancois Adam when he planned this 116-room resort, its swooping curves intended to echo a seaward vessel—in this case, one beached on superb white sands overlooking the namesake bay and its picture-perfect turquoise water, where he spent his teens fishing and sailing. It’s a welcome addition to Grand Baie, the village on the island’s northern tip that pioneered luxury tourism here in the 1990s. But its lack of infrastructure—the freeway connected the main airport to the area only a decade ago—dulled the Saint-Tropezinspired luster. This new hotel has helped restore its cachet, with beach clubs such as N’Joy opening nearby. It’s a refreshingly buzzy spot on an island where most high-end properties rely heavily on their appeal to golfers. Instead, this is an adult party place, with a nightclub, rooftop bar and a poolside DJ, plus a top-flight gym and rooftop running track. If you do come with kids, don’t worry—there are inventive distractions for young ones and teens, from ice-cream making to DJ lessons. Rooms from approx. $755;

luxresorts.com

FINNISS RIVER LODGE

Finniss River Lodge, Rakula – Updated 2022 Prices

This six-suite safari-style camp in Australia is the culmination of a three-year project by the Venturin family, who converted a piece of their large cattle station in the country’s rugged Top End into a luxe hideaway. The Venturins haven’t ditched their herds, and instead are embedding the resort within their working ranch. The approach allows visitors to do everything from on-property wild fishing to helping push a mob of cattle up through the flood plain. Staff can also arrange airboat tours by crocodile conservationist Matt Wright. The location close to Litchfield National Park affords easy access to indigenous rock-art sites. All-inclusive rates from $950 per person per night for a double room, minimum two-night stay;

finnissriverlodge.com.au

MATILD PALACE

Matild Palace, Budapest review: Step back into the resplendence of Belle Epoque Budapest | CN Traveller

Twin palaces have sat as belle epoque sentries across the road from each other in Budapest for more than 120 years; they were built close to the Danube’s main bridge by an extravagant, architecturally minded archduchess. Her namesake, the Klotild Palace, is under renovation now, earmarked to reopen as a St. Regis hotel in a few years’ time. The other structure, the Matild Palace, has just emerged from a five-year gut renovation as a 130-room Marriottoperated hotel, the first challenge to the Four Seasons’ longtime stranglehold over luxury hospitality in the city. The Matild’s interiors are sumptuously maximalist—think blue-and-gold-tiled bathrooms—but the best rooms aren’t the largest suites. Instead, opt for a top-floor river-view loft, with huge sloping windows to enhance the perks of that perch. And yes, that’s a signature Spago smokedsalmon pizza on the menu at the in-house restaurant: Austrian-born Wolfgang Puck has been lured to helm the culinary offerings here, his first project in his homeland’s former empire. Rooms from approx. $700;

marriott.com

NAOSHIMA RYOKAN ROKA

The new Naoshima Ryokan Rokasumi has art, open-air baths and kaiseki meals

It was a complaint from a local carpenter on Japan’s art-powered island Naoshima that gave ryokan operator Shintaro Sasaki the idea. Ever since collector Soichiro Fukutake installed his haul of high-grade art in the Chichu Art Museum there in 2004, visitors had flocked to see it; the only luxury overnight perch, though, was the billionaire’s own hotel, the sleekly modern Benesse House. That woodworker carped that no establishment offered foreigners the chance to immerse themselves in traditional Japanese hospitality, known as wa. Sasaki was determined to remedy that— and the result is his just-opened 11-room high-end ryokan, which serves as a lesson in understated Japanese luxury. Guest quarters have tatami mats and open-air soaking baths, while the entire property nods to its Naoshima location with an assortment of contemporary art arranged throughout. Though the works at Benesse are merely on exhibit, some pieces here will be offered for sale, with an emphasis on local, lesser-known Japanese artists whom Sasaki is keen to showcase to a broader audience. Full-board rates include kaiseki-style suppers, mostly relying on fish from the nearby Seto Inland Sea, and Sasaki hopes guests will gather at the outdoor hearth after the evening meal to share stories. Rooms from approx. $495;

ryokancollection.com

BISHOP’S LODGE

Bishop's Lodge Auberge Resorts Collection from $662. Santa Fe Hotel Deals & Reviews - KAYAK

This 100-room retreat is set on 128 forest-side hectares, land that once belonged to the bishop of Santa Fe; it’s well located close to downtown but with canyon tours and fly-fishing easily accessible, too. The lure of Bishop’s Lodge, though, isn’t its location per se but rather the property itself. It’s a thoughtfully operated, selfcontained destination that most guests won’t ever feel compelled to leave. Rooms and suites are decorated in a modern desert decor, and most have their own kiva fireplace. Creative programming here engages deeply with all things Santa Fe: options include private, hands-on sessions with local experts in art, Native American healing, botany and more, with an on-site gallery showcasing a roster of artists-inresidence and an equestrian centre that offers trail rides and lessons in “cowboy skills”. The “Chile Host” who’ll greet diners with a basket of peppers and spicy oils is a witty, locally minded touch, too. Rooms from approx. $1,160;

aubergeresorts.com

LUZ

LUZ Culinary Wine Lodge, José Ignacio – Updated 2022 Prices

The tiny fishing village of José Ignacio in Uruguay has earned a reputation as South America’s answer to the Hamptons, a glitzy getaway that’s heavily populated by moneyed vacationers from Buenos Aires. It’s both startling and refreshing to see the contrast just 10 minutes’ drive inland at Luz. With its discreet, laidbackluxury vibe and vineyard setting, the property feels more like the North Fork, the quieter corner of Long Island that stands in contrast to the Hamptons. The six-suite terracotta hotel is tucked away on 14 hectares of olive groves and merlot, tannat and tempranillo vines, and has the ambience of a private winery estate leased to a few folks at a time. Days are spent lounging by the heated infinity pool, sipping G&Ts at the gin bar on the deck or exploring the property’s trails on horseback or mountain bike. Meals are meant for sharing—don’t miss one of the 24-seat communal pop-up dinners regularly hosted by chef Martín Milesi of London’s hit restaurant Una. Rooms from approx. $435;

luz.com.uy

FOUR SEASONS NEW ORLEANS

Four Seasons New Orleans, New Orleans – Updated 2022 Prices

This 341-room property brings a new level of luxury to a city whose reputation for hospitality strangely wasn’t synonymous with five-star service. Locally made and sourced art abounds, and the hotel pool is shaped like a crescent to mirror the Mississippi River. The in-house restaurants are helmed by two NOLA chefs: Donald Link, leaning into the Gulf Coast state’s seafood bounty, and Alon Shaya, offering regional classics. The hotel can arrange elevated experiences, such as private streetcar rides. Or just stroll the surrounding riverside neighbourhood, which has rebounded from a shabbier era thanks in part to the city’s efforts and the hotel’s arrival last August. Rooms from approx. $575;

fourseasons.com

JOALI BEING

JOALI BEING: 2022 Prices & Reviews (Bodufushi, Maldives) - Photos of Specialty Inn - Tripadvisor

The Blue Mind thesis posits that water is good for us, body and soul—and so it’s a wonder that the Maldives, a nation of roughly 1,200 islands, hasn’t had a resort that can truly claim to put wellness at its heart. At least, until now. Joali Being’s 68 beach and ocean villas—each assigned a jadugar, or butler—were built using biophilic design principles that bring the tranquility-inducing textures and colours of nature indoors. This is a resort that’s equal parts medi-spa and five-star hideaway: expect mindful movement classes, extreme sweat sessions in the Russian-style banya, energy-rebalancing treatments and plant- and sea-based meals. Novel experiences, such as a palm-shaded trail that leads to an outdoor sound-bathing space lined with gongs, chimes and bells, capitalise on the resort’s spectacular setting on the 11-hectare island of Bodufushi. Even better, Joali Being breaks the destination’s honeymoonersonly stereotype and caters to solo travellers in search of transformation with five- to 21-day retreats. Rooms from approx. $2,955, five-night minimum;

joali.com

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The Boldest, Most Exciting New Timepieces From Watches & Wonders 2024

Here are the highlights from the world’s biggest watch releases of the year.

By Allen Farmelo, Carol Besler, Paige Reddinger, Oren Hartov, Victoria Gomelsky, Cait Bazemore, Nick Scott, Justin Fenner 10/04/2024

Watches & Wonders, the world’s largest watch show, is in full swing in Geneva. The highly anticipated cascade of new releases is marked by confident individual brand identities — perhaps a sign that watchmakers are done scrambling through the violent collision of restricted supply and soaring demand for high end watches. All seem to be back on solid footing.

Steady confidence is a good thing. Consider Jaeger-LeCoultre offering up traditionally styled grand complications or Vacheron Constantin revamping the classic Patrimony with smaller cases and vintage-inspired radially brushed dials. Consider TAG Heuer celebrating the 55th anniversary of the square Monaco with a skeletonized flyback confidently priced at US$183,000, or Moser similarly showing off a fascinating skeletonized tourbillon in its distinctive 40 mm Streamliner at US$86,900. IWC has leaned hard into their traditionally styled Portugieser line, including an astounding Eternal Calendar complication. We find the storied French houses of Cartier, Chanel and Hermes blurring the lines between jewelry and watchmaking with the technical prowess and artistic whimsy that originally earned these brands their exalted place in the hearts and minds of sophisticated aesthetes. Confidence abounds in 2024.

We could go on and on with examples, but the watches below will demonstrate that for 2024 the big watch brands dared to be themselves, which appears to have given them the confidence to take some seriously compelling horological risks. We have separate coverage of off-show releases and, of course, Patek and Rolex, so keep and eye out for those.

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A Gucci Garden Blooms in Sydney

On a rainy Sydney night, the drinks talent from Maybe Sammy mixed with guest bartenders from Giardino 25 in Florence, for a night of liquid magic.

By Belinda Aucott-christie 13/04/2024

Since hanging out its shingle in 2022, Giardino 25, the all-day café and bar located in Gucci’s palatial, multidisciplinary space in Florence, has been a boon to stylish tipplers. Taking inspiration from one of its previous tenants (a longstanding florist), the garden-themed joint (Giardino is the Italian word for garden) serves delicious aperitivi and dangerously addictive cocktails.

 

Umbrian native Martina Bonci is in hair-to-brogue Gucci for her artful bartending session at El Primo Sanchez. 
Aurora cocktai at Giardino 25, Florence.

Giardino 25 took bloom this past Tuesday at a pop-up at El Primo Sanchez in Paddington. The Maybe Cocktail Festival in Sydney is a series of 20 events scattered throughout the city curated by the award-winning Sammy’s Cocktails team. The festival aims to spur knowledge-sharing and foster excellence in Australia’s drinks scene.

“Last year we held 16 events and they were all packed,” says Stefano Catino, director of hospitality at Public, the management company behind Maybe Sammy venues and bottled drinks, “so this year we’ve curated extra events and flown out even more international bars and bartenders.”

“Nineteen of the 21 events are free to attend, which is very important to us,” he continues. “The cost of living is high, and it’s very expensive for Australians to travel overseas, so this festival allows people to drink cocktails from an amazing bar in Rome or try a Tommy’s Margarita from the gentleman who created it without the cost of a plane ticket.”

Dressed head to toe in Gucci,  and using the bar as her personal catwalk, Giardino 25’s special guest, Martina Bonci, looked every bit the star behind the bar. “We have brought our mix of classic Italian influences and innovation,” she told Robb Report, “so guests in Australia get a little slice of what we do in Florence.”

Among her tantalising pours were powerful dirty martinis decorated with shimmering gold leaf and Aurora, a transparent twist on the Negroni.

Reflecting on her whirlwind trip down under, Bonci said their visit to Bondi Beach and the cocktails at Maybe Sammy were the highlights.

“The bartenders at Maybe Sammy are world-class,” she explained. “There is a good reason they win awards and have a respected reputation overseas. And El Primo Sanchez has such a fun atmosphere—we had a great night.”

Martina Bonci, Bar Manager at Gucci Giardino 25, has been honored twice as ‘Best Bartender in Italy’ by both the Bargiornale and Blue Blazer Awards. 

Bonci, who came to prominence in a long string at Milanese hipster joint Gesto and is known for her use of agave, favors drinks dripping with seasonal fruits and citrus flavors. Having tried her creations, we do, too.

She made a serious impression on Sydneysiders, who would do well to make a pilgrimage to see her in action on home turf. As if any of us need another reason to visit Italy.

The Maybe Cocktail Festival, continues this weekend in Sydney, with the public welcome to attend a Bartenders Brunch at Sydney’s Alpha on Sunday from 11.00 am – 3.00 pm, hosted by George Calombaris. 

View the program: Maybe Cocktail Festival @maybe_cocktail_fetsival

All images courtesy of Gucci.

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Patek Philippe Brings Back Collector Favourites at Watches & Wonders 2024

Both the Nautilus Chronograph and Aquanaut Travel Time receive a welcome return.

By Josh Bozin 10/04/2024

If you’re a watch fan, there’s every reason to believe that a Patek Philippe Nautilus, Patek Philippe Aquanaut—or both—would be high on your wish list. Both collections are of historical significance, helping pave the way for the influence of the steel sports watch category—and subsequent chokehold on the market today.

So, when Patek Philippe unveiled its newest releases at Watches & Wonders in Geneva, it was a pleasant surprise to see the return of two of the best past iterations of the Nautilus and Aquanaut collections.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Nautilus Chronograph

First, we get a new Nautilus Chronograph, with the return of the revered 5980, now replete with a new case in white gold and a denim-like strap (a contentious issue among watch pundits). Discontinuing all Nautilus 5980 models earlier this year, including the collector-favourite 5980/1AR in Rose Gold, left a sombre feeling among Nautilus fanatics. These celebrated chronographs, renowned for their distinctive porthole-inspired design and air of sporty elegance, are some of the most sought-after watches in the Patek Philippe catalogue. Thus, the revival of the 5980, now in white gold, is a cause for collectors’ celebration.

The new offering retains its chronograph function with mono-counter tracking 60-minute and 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock on the dial, but now comes on a new denim-inspired, hand-stitched fabric strap with a Nautilus fold-over clasp in white gold—some will love it, some won’t.

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe

The Calibre CH 28‑520 C/522 powers this new Nautilus with its flyback chronograph, all of which is visible through the transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The dial is also incredibly eye-catching, with a beautiful opaline blue-gray hue accentuated by white gold-applied hour markers with a white luminescent coating. It is priced at approximately $112,000.

Also returning to the fold is the Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time, now with its own bluish hue dial—similar to its Nautilus counterpart. After discontinuing the Aquanaut Travel Time 5164A this year, as well—a watch often regarded as the greatest Aquanaut to date—Patek Philippe surprised all with the new 5164G in white gold. Its greatest attribution is the clever Travel Time GMT function, which clearly rivals the Rolex GMT-Master II as perhaps the travel-friendly watch of choice (if acquiring one was that simple, of course).

For those who prefer the Aquanaut’s sportiness and easy-wearing rubber strap, this newest iteration, with its Opaline Blue-gray dial and matching rubber strap with a deployant clasp, is undoubtedly an icon in the making. The new 5164G has a 40mm case and features the Calibre 26‑330 S C FUS movement, which can also be viewed via the transparent sapphire crystal caseback.

Expect to pick up the new Aquanaut Travel Time for around $95,250.  

Patek Philippe
Patek Philippe Aquanaut Travel Time

 

Follow @robbreportau for all your Watches & Wonders coverage, and more!

 

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Rolex Kicks Off Watches & Wonders 2024 with a New GMT-Master II

The new stainless steel GMT-Master II has already been dubbed the “Bruce Wayne”.

By Josh Bozin 09/04/2024

It may not be the GMT that watch pundits were speculating on—or that collectors were hoping for—but the new Rolex GMT-Master II with a new grey and black ceramic bezel adds dazzle to the revered Rolex collection, which this year celebrates its 70th anniversary.

The idea of a new Rolex GMT launching at the world’s biggest watch fair is cause for a little madness. While the watch community eagerly awaited what was thought to be the discontinuation of the highly sought-after GMT “Pepsi” and the return of the GMT “Coke,” the luxury Swiss watchmaker had other plans.

Instead, we’re presented with a piece that, on paper, hasn’t changed much from previous GMT releases. That’s not to say that this isn’t an impressive release that will speak to consumers—the new GMT-Master II ref.126710GRNR, dubbed the “Bruce Wayne,” is definitely a sight for sore eyes.

Rolex
Rolex

This new GMT retains the same dimensions and movement as the other watches in the GMT collection, along with its 40mm size case and the option to fit either an Oyster or Jubilee bracelet. The obvious changes, albeit subtle, come in the way of its mostly monochrome return; a fact that will appease traditionalists. If you’re opposed to the attention-drawing “Pepsi”, “Sprite”, or “Batman” iterations, this model is a stealthier pick—much like pseudonymous Bruce Wayne.

The other noticeable change is the “GMT-Master II” now applied in green text and a 24-hour hand in green; perhaps a nod to the 2007 Basel World GMT release.

Like many Rolex timepieces, this will generate great hype and attention, so don’t expect allocations to come easily.

Rolex
Rolex

Model: GMT-Master II
Reference Number: 126710GRNR

Diameter: 40mm
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Colour: Black
Lume: Chromalight on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 100m
Bracelet: Oyster or Jubilee

Movement: Caliber 3285
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, GMT
Power Reserve: 70 hours
Winding: Automatic

Price: $17,150 (Oyster); $17,500 (Jubilee)
Availability: Now. Non-limited edition

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Moments in Time

Silversea’s Kimberley adventures transport passengers into a different dimension.

By Vince Jackson 09/04/2024

Whoever refuted the theory of time-travel has clearly never set foot in the Kimberley, a geological relic where craggy landscapes forged hundreds of millions of years ago remain untouched, and dinosaur footprints are still etched into the ochre terrain. And while traversing one of the planet’s last great wildernesses in a 4X4 holds rugged appeal, a more refined way to explore the Western Australian outback is by cruise liner. 

Enter the Silver Cloud, one of Silversea’s most luxurious vessels, available for 10- or 17-day expeditions. Upon arrival via private executive transfer, expect a level of intimacy that’s often conspicuous on other cruise experiences. With a maximum of just 200 guests, attended to by 212 staff, the Silver Cloud can lay claim to the greatest passenger-to-crew ratios operating in the Kimberley. Twenty-four-hour butler service is standard for every suite, along with ocean views—no matter if you plump for a modest 22 m² Vista Suite or supersize to a 217 m² Grand Suite.

Yet bigger is not necessarily better on water; the ship itself is compact enough to manoeuvre into isolated coves and waterways that larger vessels—or, indeed, four-wheel-drive Land Cruisers—are unable access. Each sunrise brings the promise of an unforgettable adventure, whether hopping on a Zodiac at Koolama Bay to witness the cascading thunder of the 80-m-high, twin King George Falls, or embarking at Swift Bay to scramble over rocky standstone and view the disparate rock-art forms on display at the sacred Wandjina art galleries—some reckoned to be up to 12,000 years old.

Another example of the Kimberley’s ability to propel you back through time.

Prices from $15,500 pp (10 days) and $23,900 pp (17 days); June 9-19, and August 8-25 or August 25- September 11 respectively; silversea.com

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