Booking this year’s travel needn’t be a stressful affair—the Luxury Defined 2020 travel list covers the most exclusive and beautiful locations around the world, including hotels that have recently reopened or been updated, the best rooms to book, and what to look out for on their restaurants’ menus, to make sure you get the best from your trips.
The Spanish Yoga Retreat
Arrive at MasQi just as the sun is setting behind the tops of the Spanish pines, and you’ll get to see the main residence bathed in a peachy, ethereal radiance. Expect to leave with a similar glow after a weekend spent at this unique wellness retreat in Spain’s Sierra de Mariola mountains. Located between Alicante and Valencia, MasQi—from the Spanish word for more (mas) and the Chinese word for energy (qi)—is run by founder Sonia Ferre Garcia, who turned her family’s 19th-century Spanish farmhouse into a stylish eight-room hotel. Within the bougainvillea-scented garden, a yoga dome sits beside a swimming pool with stunning mountain views, and a program of rebalancing offers yoga, meditation, energy healing, and life coaching, along with meals made with locally sourced ingredients and based on macrobiotic principles.
The Glamorous Italian Lake Getaway
Italy’s Lake Como is a place rich with stories. Of historic palaces and dynastic families. Of adventure and drama and art and great romances. The town of Tremezzo, which hugs the lake’s western edge, was famously described as “that sunny, happy place” by Greta Garbo’s character in the classic 1932 film Grand Hotel. And though it’s not the same lodging Garbo was referring to, there’s nowhere better to relax into this particular sense of place than Grand Hotel Tremezzo, where stepping into the rose-scented lobby feels like a passport to the golden age of travel—of Belle Époque grand tours, exquisite personal service, and a luxuriously relaxed pace, all accented with warm, authentic Italian hospitality.
Family-run for generations, the hotel has been lovingly looked after and meticulously updated, while special attention has been paid to the state-of-the-art kitchen, where a talented brigade creates classic Italian dishes for L’Escale Trattoria & Wine Bar as well as for La Terrazza, whose innovative fine-dining menu is inspired by the late Michelin-starred chef Gualtiero Marchesi, widely considered to be the father of modern Italian cuisine. The signature risotto—creamy, al dente, luxurious—is adorned with gold leaf and comes with a certificate of authenticity that serious foodies will delight in.
Hit the Slopes
Imagined by its owner Wesley Edens as a world-class retreat with the rugged spirit of the American West, Caldera House is an eight-suite hotel and members-only alpine club located at the base of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Wyoming. The hotel’s interiors—the joint creation of two award-winning firms, L.A.’s Commune and local studio Carney Logan Burke—blend European style with American craftsmanship. Suites feature spacious living rooms, wood-burning fireplaces, and snowmelt patios for year-round use. The resort is also home to The Mudroom, where all guests’ skiing needs are met, from hire to tuning and storage.
The Safari Adventure
After arriving at camp, over a welcoming glass of champagne, you’re told how there are no timetables here. You do what you want, when you want. Bush walk at 6am? No problem. A massage or facial in the on-site spa (where the soundtrack of exotic birds comes in from the windows rather than out of speakers) before lunch? You got it. Nothing is too much trouble at Shambala Private Game Reserve, the 24,711-acre (10,000 ha) luxury camp three hours from Johannesburg. You eat when you’re hungry, chatting with head chef Dayne Bailey and sous chef Matthew Earp-Jones about what’s available that day. All tastes and dietary requirements are catered for here, from meaty—choice local cuts are prepared over a central brai. Also on the reserve is the Nelson Mandela Villa, commissioned by Shambala owner Douw Steyn for his friend, and the man who later became known as Madiba, as a place where the statesman could relax and entertain away from the spotlight. The retreat can now be hired and sleeps up to 12. The “farm,” as Shambala is affectionately known to locals, is home not just to giraffes but elephants, lions, zebras, and wildebeest. There are huge and magnificent black-and-white rhinos, too, as well as an anti-poaching unit working to ensure these endangered animals do not, as feared, disappear as a species over the course of the next decade.
The One for Foodies
“Where good wine is grown there are usually culinary delights nearby,” observes Marco Zanolari, general manager of Grand Hotel Quellenhof in Switzerland. The wines produced in Switzerland’s Bündner Herrschaft region are certainly good, and the culinary delights on offer at the newly refurbished Quellenhof are unmissable. Star of the show is Sven Wassmer Memories, where the top Swiss chef showcases “new Alpine cooking” in tasting menus that celebrate local producers and seasonal ingredients, created in a restaurant with an open kitchen that adds an immersive air to dining. Wassmer’s wife Amanda Wassmer-Bulgin oversees the hotel’s state-of-the-art wine cellar, which is home to some 4,000 bottles—including biodynamic wines—and comes complete with a crystal chandelier that brightens or dims depending on volume levels. The hotel’s rooms and suites have been redecorated by Claudio Carbone who has introduced a sophisticated pared-down palette with bespoke furnishings, sumptuous textiles, and natural-stone baths. There are stunning mountain views at every turn and the hotel is part of a wellness retreat with a thermal spa complex at its heart.
The Beach Retreat
One place that will have you wishing you could call Barbados home is the Fairmont Royal Pavilion, with its 72 newly renovated rooms that open onto the beach, and have a modern, airy feel. Located on the desirable west coast, it’s the perfect spot from which to launch a private-hire catamaran to swim with the turtles. The muted pink of the exterior mimics the hue of the stunning coral-flecked sand on Crane Beach, and makes a photogenic backdrop for the lush green grounds, in which you can enjoy daily complimentary yoga classes.
Related: Read about Life in Barbados
The Provençal Beauty
The chiming bell of the 11th-century honeycomb-colored church reminds you every hour that there’s nowhere more Provençal than this. Not only are you sitting on a warm terrace with the dark hillsides of the Luberon valley stretching before you, the aperitif before you is a light rosé, and the breeze is scented with the vestiges of the lavender season. It helps, too, if your viewpoint is from the five-star Airelles Gordes, La Bastide in Provence, France. The word bastide means a fortified hilltop village in this ancient part of France and Gordes is a particularly pretty one, just an hour’s meandering drive east of Avignon and the same north of Marseille. A €30 million ($33.2m) project by the Airelles Collection (of Courchevel fame), La Bastide has sympathetically rendered a collection of 16th-century properties into one modern hotel with 34 bedrooms, six suites, and an adjoining maison with its own pool. Inside, picture-lit corridors and stone stairs lead you to your spacious room, while verdant grounds house outdoor lounges, cool vaulted loggia, and two inviting swimming pools. If further relaxation is needed, then the spa—modeled on a nearby Cistercian abbey—offers a hammam and sauna, plus four Sisley treatment rooms.