Travel & Leisure Travel, Food & Drink

Getting Away From It All: 3 Special Travel Breaks

Will your next trip include big cats, wildflower meadows, or golf with a view? Steven Short, editor of Christie’s International Real Estate magazine, assesses some unusual travel options

With international travel back on the cards, here are three vacation options to consider in 2022 and beyond. Whether you’re looking to spot wildlife on safari, play a special round of golf in Spain, or relax in the English countryside, read on for some holiday inspiration.

Grumeti and Lamai, Tanzania: Out of Africa

A leopardess lounges on a branch high above us. “She’s lazy!” laughs our guide, Ed, of the Singita team, who has driven us through the bush to find her. And he should know, he’s been looking out for the big cat since she was a cub, as well as keeping an eye on several herds of elephants, thousands of wildebeest, lions, giraffes, and five rhinos, all of which we will have magical encounters with during our stay.

Singita is a series of 15 lodges and camps across South Africa, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, and here in Tanzania, that combine once-in-a-lifetime safari vacation travel with environmentally conscious, sustainable conservation.

I spend my first night at Singita Sasakwa Lodge, which was refurbed during lockdown by South African design practice Cécile & Boyd. Set on a hill, the lodge’s main buildings and its 10 spacious and comfortable cottages (from one to four bedrooms) now combine traditional African design motifs with classic period furniture—mud-cloth fabrics and campaign-style pieces. There’s also a standalone property, the Hillside Suite, which has its own butler and is perfect for families.

Small table and two chairs on a covered terrace overlooking the plains
Many native animals including zebra and elephants visit the Singita lodges, which are so comfortable and stylish they’re more like five-star hotel suites.

All accommodations are positioned to enjoy panoramic views over the plains and wildlife below, and each cottage has its own grounds and infinity-edge pool. A family of baboons looks on as I take an afternoon dip before sundowners and dinner, which we enjoy on the lawn under an enormous full moon. Dinner is just one of the many times that I think how lucky I am to be here and say to myself, “Remember this moment.”

After two days we travel to Singita Sabora Tented Camp, an hour’s drive away. En route we pay a visit to The Grumeti Fund, which manages and conserves the 350,000 acres (141,640 ha) of Singita Reserve Grumeti, to learn about its trust and work. Drawing close to Singita Sabora, we pass a couple of huge ostriches, “It’s the mating season, that’s why their necks are so pink,” Ed tells us, before the camp’s tents come into view. Ostensibly hotel suites encased in canvas and glass, the tents are elegantly furnished, each with a private deck; a family of wild boars walks past as I make notes about my stay, and a herd of antelope greets me in the evening.

Days here start with optional early-morning game drives. On one of ours we come across a pride of lions moments after it had taken down a buffalo, and watched as the big cats devoured it in front of us, before we saw vast herds of zebra and giraffes travel across the land.

Luxurious bathroom with freestanding bath and floor-to-ceiling windows
Featuring a pared-back traditional safari style, Singita Sabora Tented Camp creates a life under canvas that’s modern and elegant. Each suite includes a luxurious bathroom, meditation deck, outdoor daybeds, a private fitness area, and an in-room pantry.

Food and drink figure strongly across Singita lodges, using traditional African ingredients with a farm-to-table ethos. Here at Sabora, head chef Sean Paul and his team offer à la carte dishes such as harissa roast beef, pea risotto, and parmesan melanzane along with a deli offering where guests help themselves to salads, dips, breads, and pastries. Guests can also fill picnic baskets to take out with them when they travel. Like all the lodges, Sabora has access to a 16,000-bottle wine cellar stocking more than 220 varietals. Each mealtime includes suggestions of South African wines from sommelier Dean Myburgh—most of them bottled exclusively for Singita in Stellenbosch.

When not on a game drive there’s a pool to relax by as well as a gym and yoga studio and a spa offering a program of massages and facials. Days end around a firepit, where guests swap stories about what they’ve seen and wonder what adventures tomorrow might bring.

singita.com

Sussex, England: Ramble On

External view of the impressive South Lodge Hotel with landscaped gardens
Dining at South Lodge is overseen by Ben Wilkinson. The chef is newly arrived from the Michelin-starred The Cottage In The Wood in the Lake District. Courtesy: South Lodge

I love a walk in the country, especially if there is a perfectly mixed cocktail and good food at the end of it. South Lodge, a neo-Jacobean mansion hotel in the heart of England’s South Downs, offers this in abundance.

You can enjoy a stroll through 93 acres (37.6 ha) of beautifully tended grounds, with their wildflower meadows, lakes, and a wild swimming pond, before being treated to cooking by rising star Josh Mann. His artfully presented sundried tomato and basil gnocchi, part of our dinner at Camellia restaurant, was one of the best dishes I’ve eaten in a long time.

The swimming pond at South Lodge surrounded by sun loungers
The Spa at South Lodge includes a gym and spin studio, an indoor pool, an outdoor hydrotherapy pool, a wild swimming pool (pictured above), a thermal suite, and treatment rooms. There’s also Botanica, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant. Courtesy: South Lodge

Part of Exclusive Collection, each of South Lodge’s 88 suites and rooms are individually designed and furnished, many with outside space, and some dog-friendly. Another reason to travel here is a new 44,000-square-foot (4,088 sq m) state-of-the-art eco spa and gym with its indoor infinity pool. Just a few miles from Gatwick Airport, South Lodge is the perfect way to begin a visit to the U.K., or for a spa or nature break.

exclusive.co.uk/south-lodge

Girona, Spain: Hole Story

Beautiful shot of a golf course in Spain
Boasting two world-class golf courses ranked among the best in Europe, the resort is a regular venue for European Tour tournaments. With its well-equipped, hi-tech practice facilities and natural setting, it’s the perfect golf getaway.

Golfers will find at least 36 things to love about the award-winning PGA Catalunya Golf and Wellness resort. An hour’s drive from Barcelona, the retreat is home to two 18-hole courses (those 36 reasons to visit)—one tour and one professional—as well as a golf academy.

“Tour golf is where you play to have fun,” professional golfer and coach Oriol Camacho tells me during a private lesson, where we work on my swing and he shares the secret to making the ball “really fly.” We then play a few holes on the tour course, where I am not terrible, but wouldn’t much mind if I were because both this and the pro course are surrounded by a stunning cultivated “mosaic” Mediterranean landscape, 741 acres (300 ha) of it (with another 494 acres [200 ha] in development), taking in forests, vegetation, lakes, and vineyards.

Arial shot of hotel swimming pool and sun loungers
The pool at Spain's Hotel Camiral is a wonderful spot in which to relax after a round of golf. Alternatively, guests can enjoy the enviable wellness facilities, or simply take in the breathtaking natural surroundings.

After the round of golf, Hotel Camiral is there waiting for you, with its pool to laze by, and a new wellness center offering holistic beauty treatments, professional-level sports therapies, and state-of-the-art procedures such as cryotherapy.

Seven new Camiral suites are directly adjacent to the wellness center and are elegantly decorated by local interiorista Lázaro Rosa-Violán. As in the rest of the resort, windows and doors have maximum glass to welcome in all that beautiful, calming nature.

pgacatalunya.com