Isolation Vacation: Private Island Holidays

According to recent research, the demand for a private island escapes have increased by more than 320% in the UK. With private island buy outs in demand within certain circles, we have picked some of our favourite locations around the world for experiencing splendid isolation:

Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island Villa, The Maldives

Situated in the tranquil Noonu Atoll Cheval Blanc Randheli is part of LVMH Hotel Management renowned for its exclusivity. Cheval Blanc Randheli Private Island Villa is the most elegant of escapes for seclusion-seekers. Sprawled across 1-ha of dedicated island, this four-bedroom villa, designed by Jean-Michel Gathy, is the epitome of lush, modern island living with exceptional indoor and outdoor spaces and a dedicated team of Ambassadors who are on call 24/7.

In the main house, three light-filled successive reception rooms border a 25-metre-long swimming pool surrounded by a piano, bar and lounge areas. Outside, various terraces, tropical gardens, private beaches, an al-fresco dining pergola, and meditation pavilions bring relaxation to the tropical setting. A private spa treatment room, fitness centre and screening room complete this ultimate island stay.

Necker Island, British Virgin Islands

It is safe to say that Necker Island is certainly the most well-known private island in the British Virgin Islands and its easy to understand why. At 74 acres, the island sits in turquoise waters surrounded by coral reefs and fringed with beautiful white sandy beaches. With 20 bedrooms (and the possibility to host 40 guests), made up of 11 in the Great House, inclusive of the Master Suite, as well as various other villas and houses dotted around the island, this is the ultimate, great escape, reunion celebration.

Every activity guests could possibly want is on offer – kite-surfing, wakeboarding, paddle boarding, sailing, snorkelling and even SCUBA diving – yet even a simple stroll around the island on a nature walk will give guests the opportunity to spot Necker’s very own flamingos and lemurs!

Wa Ale, Myanmar

Wa Ale is the culmination of owner Chris and Farina Kingsley’s vision to create the first luxury eco-resort that provides access to Myanmar’s untouched Myeik Archipelago. This 5,000 acre island can be taking privately, hosting up to 28 guests at one time. Not only will guests enjoy the incredible remoteness and luxurious accommodation, but each guest will be giving back to the local community in the Myeik Archipelago through their contribution to social welfare and wildlife conservation charity, the Lampi Foundation. Set up by the owners of Wa Ale (Chris & Farina Kingsley), the Lampi Foundation gives 20% of net profits and 2% of all room revenue from Wa Ale to the foundation.

New for 2021 is one four-bedroom Beach House and three Beach Bungalows with three bedrooms each. Located on the island’s beautiful 1km long ‘Honeymoon Beach,’ Beach House and Beach Bungalows will be serviced by a maid, chef and butler with use of a jungle gym, new trekking routes starting from the beach and a brand-new beach bar, with exclusive use of paddle-boards, a speedboat, kayaks and snorkelling excursions by boat, right off the beach. These join the island’s new Ayurvedic Jungle Spa.

andBeyond Benguerra Island, Mozambique

andBeyond Benguerra Island is an exquisite piece of Indian Ocean paradise situated off the coast of Mozambique. In the Bazaruto Archipelago National Park, the island retreat is set on a protected lagoon. Guests can hideaway a variety of luxurious thatched accommodation complete with private wooden deck and pools. Guests can enjoy castaway picnics on secluded untouched islands, sunset cruises, swimming with horses as they ride bareback into the warm ocean or even spot a rare Dugong as Benguerra is home to one of the last remaining viable population. Guests are bound to see more wildlife than people!

Downward Dogs Go Up: The Mango Agency welcomes Bulldog Online

With lockdown forcing us all to work from home and with gyms and studios closed, the Mangoes have turned to at-home workouts to help us stay healthy, both physically and mentally. Following suit with much of the UK, at home yoga has been the go-to exercise of choice, which is why we are delighted to be working with Bulldog Online.

Bulldog Online is a completely new type of yoga platform whose founder, the businessman and co-owner of Bankside Hotel Jon Cummins, describes it being “yoga for non-yogis.” Created out of his own love of the physical benefits of yoga but dislike of the traditional yogi vibes, Jon was inspired to create an online platform that would make yoga more approachable, affordable, accessible and fun.

Offering varied and dynamic online classes with upbeat playlists, Bulldog’s online classes are recorded live – offering a virtual feeling of being in the studio, but with the reality of being in your own judgement-free home. No sanskrit, no chanting, no intimidation. Bulldog’s mission is for people to do what they can and not worry about “being good at yoga.”

How to reduce ‘Zoom fatigue’

For the past three months we’ve had our fair share of Zoom calls and webinars. Although these have been vital in keeping us connected, they are tiring. Being on video call requires more than face-to-face chat – we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, tone of voice and body language. We are also hyper-aware of what we look like and how we come across as we are forced to view ourselves on camera; paying close attention to all this can really zap our energy.

As well as helping to keep our bodies strong and our minds sane, Bulldog’s training director Tessa Jenkins has shown the us the poses we need to do at our desk to relieve the dreaded ‘Zoom fatigue.’

Here are three poses that can be done at your desk to improve posture and help us stay awake and most importantly for these times, stay calm!

Pose 1 – Seated cat cow

We often slump forward when we are seated for a long time and if our computers are too low, which is often the case at home. As you sit at your desk place your hands on the desk and round your back like a “halloween cat” and let all the air out of your lungs then pull your chest forward and squeeze your shoulder blades together and take a big breath and fill up your lungs. Do several sets of these, it allows flexion and extension of your spine but also allows some rhythmic breath to bring in some fresh air and wake you up!

Pose 2 – Seated / Chair Pigeon

Sit tall in your chair and cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale hinge at the hips and lower your chest as close to your lower leg as possible.  Hands can rest on your chair or on the desk.  When we sit for a long time our hamstrings and pelvic muscles can get tight this pigeon can relieve some of that tightness and create a little more ease while you sit.

Pose 3 – Seated meditation

Sit resting back on the chair and close your eyes. This can give a rest to tired eyes after staring at a computer during the day.  Do a body scan mediation to check in with each part of your body from your toes to the crown of your head. Checking in with your body along with focusing on breath work can give your mind and eyes a break so you can be ready for the next meeting in a matter of minutes!

In sickness and in health – how hospitality is embracing the ‘new normal’

As the hospitality industry begins to emerge from lockdown, hotels and restaurants across the world are looking at how they can begin to safely operate again. For an industry that prides itself on the personal touch, hoteliers and restaurateurs are now having to remove touch all together – rethinking their business model in the process.

This presents many challenges, least of all how best to communicate these changes to consumers. Do consumers want to know what brands are doing to keep them safe, or does this remove some of the magic? Does the use of 1% sodium hypochlorite disinfectant really constitute a PR story?

The short answer is yes, but only as part of a bigger story which focuses more on the macro than the micro. We have certainly seen increased demand in recent weeks from journalists looking for more detail on what the future of hospitality looks like, but the focus is less on the nitty gritty of how often touch points are cleaned and more about how the experience will look and feel different upon reopening. Whatever strategy you subscribe to, we believe hospitality venues need to be transparent about their systems and processes in response to the pandemic and they also need to have information readily prepared and digestible for both consumers and press.

Many brands feel like they have always put hygiene first, albeit discreetly, but times have changed, and the safety of guests and staff has taken on a new significance. Hospitality brands are not just selling an experience anymore, they are now in the business of selling safety and sanitation.  

But how best to reassure and encourage guests to return? India’s ITC hotels is using accreditation from the National Accreditation Board for Hospitals & Healthcare Providers (NABH) to demonstrate its enhanced cleaning protocols.

In the UK, a COVID-19 ‘quality mark’ championed by Visit Britain is currently being considered by ministers. As reported by The Telegraph, this certificate will be awarded to all UK hospitality businesses that meet certain social distancing and hygiene standards, providing consumers with reassurance that it’s safe to stay.

Many hotel brands have enlisted scientific advice to help formulate their reopening plans. Spanish hotel group Barcelo has created the ‘We Care About You’ programme, a comprehensive set of measures to protect guests, employees and suppliers. Using expert guidance about viral infection, the programme focuses on enhanced cleaning and adaptations, including a grab and go F&B concept.

Another client, aparthotel brand Native is confident that its self-contained apartments, complete with kitchen and washing facilities will prove particularly appealing for guests in this post COVID-19 climate. Guests will be greeted by an unbroken ‘clean seal of approval’ on their door, showing that the room has been deep cleaned using environmentally friendly powerful enzyme cleaning products. Mid stay cleans have been abolished and apartments have been decluttered, with pillows, throws and even equipment manuals removed in the name of safety.

Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel

At the ultra-luxury end of the market, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer has worked hard to preserve the overall guest experience. Group Director of Sales and Marketing, Axel Hoppenot, explains: “We’re adapting our establishments across the portfolio. From hotels to restaurants and spas, we will be controlling capacity, guiding traffic flow and using stringent sanitation. Restaurant menus will be downloadable via a secure code to diners’ phones, while occupancy will be limited to one person for every four- square metres. Instead of brunch buffets at the Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel, the brunch will be served at the table. We will also propose a new service: floating breakfast trays beside the lagoon and sunbed dinners”.

Boutique hotel group, The Calcot Collection believes the pandemic has encouraged some positive changes. For example, Calcot & Spa has introduced a new outdoor gym to aid social distancing. An extra floor has been added to its play barn by decommissioning offices and the events space has been transformed into a beautiful yoga studio with countryside views ready for reopening. Set amidst 220 acres, Calcot has been able to tap into consumers’ new-found appreciation for nature and has shown how businesses can innovate quickly to thrive. The Painswick will also be available for exclusive lets – ideal for family reunions after months of lockdown.

Cornish hotel, St Michaels Resort in Falmouth has introduced a new one-way system throughout the property to ensure easy social distancing and pushed kids club activities outdoors. Guests may also be allocated arrival time slots and the reception area has been reconfigured to provide more space. In the hotel restaurant, dishes will be presented under a cloche, with staff trained to minimise contact. Room service will be available without charge for breakfast and dinner and all employee temperatures will be checked on arrival for each shift.

So, it seems there is plenty to talk about when it comes to health and hygiene in a post pandemic world. Yet we believe that the really intriguing story is actually about how hospitality businesses are innovating in response to this pandemic. Certainly, there is a trade-off to be had in terms of experience, but the examples above prove just how resilient and inventive the sector can be. These measures will undoubtedly change the way people stay for years to come, but we hope that they will future proof an industry that employs over 120 million globally whilst also still encouraging cultural connectivity and joy in the process.   

Adrenalin Fuelled Adventures to Add to your Bucketlist

What is the opposite of lockdown? Trekking through the Himalayas; scaling a peak in the Highlands; skiing down a volcano in Chile; walking with the Big Five in Kenya – or paragliding in Montenegro.

Discover the high adrenalin, high energy, memory-making experiences, around the world which we’ll be adding to our travel wishlist…

Meet Asia’s “mountain ghost” and travel to some of India’s most iconic destinations

A once-in-a-lifetime wildlife experience, &BEYOND’s Snow Leopard Journey is an unmissable opportunity to meet Asia’s “mountain ghost” whilst travelling to a selection of India’s most iconic destinations. This incredible 12-day winter expedition, in the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh, meets the elements head-on, in an awe-inspiring landscape, in search of the elusive snow leopard and other incredible wildlife.

The majestic region of Ladakh, on the northern border of India, has a stark natural beauty. Known as Little Tibet, or the Roof of the World, it has its own culture and identity and has never ceased to enchant travellers. The Snow Leopard Expedition sets out in search of rare and endangered animal species in a setting that features the snow-capped Himalaya Mountains, clear cobalt lakes and ever-changing sand dunes. The wildlife the guests can expect to encounter includes not only the elusive snow leopard, but also ibex, Tibetan antelope, blue sheep, shapo, marmot and Tibetan hare. Guests can also look forward to exceptional birdwatching, with snow partridge, golden oriole, snow cock, golden eagle, horned lark and red billed chuff. The Expedition is headed by one of the region’s most experienced guides who is an authority on snow leopards and also knowledgeable about the fascinating cultural heritage of the region.

Bag a Monro in the Highlands of Scotland

The challenge is to conquer Scotland’s Munros, a list of 283 mountain peaks over 3,000 ft, named after Sir Hugh Monro, who surveyed and catalogued them in 1891. Climbing these peaks is an exhilarating way for walkers to explore some of Scotland’s finest scenery. Every Monro is different – some require full on climbing gear, some are beginner and family friendly. 

There are forty Monros accessible from Braemar, home to The Fife Arms hotel, from Ben MacDiu to Beinn Bhareac (above), offering a wealth of exhalating and mind-clearing hill walking and hiking.  The network of local paths and tracks are suitable for all abilities, including Morrone Birkwood and Creag Choinnich, just a short walk from the hotel.  This is also an opportunity to get up-close to the wonderful native flora and fauna of Upper Deeside, from red squirrels and ptarmigan, to osprey and red deer. 

Once the Munro has been conquered, the final – and well-deserved – step of the journey, is to repair to The Flying Stag pub at The Fife Arms, for a Venison Burger, local beers and whiskies – and plenty of local gossip.

Snowboard an active volcano in Chile

Snow falls on the spectacular 34-acre resort of andBeyond Vira Vira in Araucania region of Chile’s Lake District in June and lasts until mid-October, turning the area into a stunning alpine playground.

andBeyond has created a range of experiences suitable for guests of all levels of fitness, and a variety of slopes await, from beginners to more advanced ski runs.   Lovers of winter sports will enjoy snowboarding and skiing down the only active Villarrica Volcano in the area. A spectacular environment of volcanic peaks and shimmering lakes, the flowing lava has created an incredible terrain of natural half pipes, cornices and wind lips for skiers to conquer. Thrilling heli-skiing allows keen adventurers to reach the most remote snowy peaks and glory in off-piste powder snow, while slightly less experienced skiers can opt for more flowing slopes – and those with a love for speed can take to a snowmobile to explore the volcano. A brand new adventure is husky sledding – an exclusive experience that takes place on private land, this is a raw and authentic Chilean winter adventure.

Follow the footsteps of a Samburu explorer in Kenya

This new walking safari rediscovers the true spirit of adventure exploring the magnificent Laikipia Plateau and the Masai Mara on foot, following in the footsteps of explorers of old – and camping beneath open skies.  

The adventure is led by a local Samburu guide who unlocks the finer details of the bush and his own traditional lore. Follow the tracks of kudu or zebra and listen to the ancient songs of the Samburu as they water their livestock. Swim in the cool waters of an African river and spend warm nights beneath unbelievably starry skies. Climb to the top of rocky outcrops to admire vast views of endless open spaces and be immersed in the scent of Africa’s dust. The adventure culminates in the spectacular wildlife of the famous Masai Mara.

This 6-night trip includes a stay in Nairobi, three-nights at The Sanctuary at Ol Lentille in Laikipia, one of East Africa’s finest wildlife destinations, and two-nights at andBeyond Kichwa Tembo Tented Camp in Masai Mara, providing an authentic dose of African wildlife, delivered with legendary Kenyan hospitality.

Embrace adrenalin-fuelled moments in Montenegro

Late summer and early autumn is the time to visit Montenegro, tucked between Croatia and Bosnia, a jewel box of a country which has to be experienced to be believed. This hidden gem of the Adriatic is bursting with unspoiled coastlines, turquoise sea and lakes, wonderful views and dramatic mountains, all just waiting to be discovered. This country may be petite, but it has huge amount to offer visitors, and a magical atmosphere.

It is also a spectacular setting for adrenalin-pumping activities. May to September is the time to embrace knuckle-biting white water rafting down the dramatic Tara River canyon, the deepest in Europe, second only to America’s Grand Canyon – all 82 kilometres of it.  Montenegro could also have been designed for paragliding – high over the awe-inspiring UNESCO listed Boka Bay, where the soaring mountains meet the sea –  as the poet Lord Byron said, “At the birth of our planet, the most beautiful encounter between the land and the sea must have happened in Montenegro…”

The place to stay, is Regent Porto Montenegro, right at the heart of the glamorous Porto Montenegro super yacht marina on the shores of the Adriatic, on Boka Bay,  a superyacht homeport in a fascinating, modern-day, jetsetter’s hotspot. The hotel’s concierge can organise white water rafting, paragliding, kite surfing, horseback riding, sailing and water sports, all just minutes from the hotel.

Dive amongst the hurricane wrecks in the BVI

Sixty tiny emerald islands and cays with a landscape of lush green peaks that drop dramatically into blue Caribbean waters, convoluted shorelines with idyllic, protected anchorages and captivating underwater topography. The British Virgin Islands offers some of the most remarkable diving and snorkelling in the world, with bounteous sites and the tiny islands that form the southern boundary of the Sir Francis Drake Channel waiting to be discovered.

Wreck Week (29 November – 5 December 2020) on Virgin Gorda, is an entire week in the British Virgin Islands dedicated to diving the wrecks as well as offering dive specials, beach clean ups – and plenty of parties! Some of the BVI’s most popular dive sites are The Kodiak Queen, a sustainable artificial reef which was sunk in 2017 and the RMS Rhone, a British Royal Mail Steamship, which sank in 1867. In addition to these much-loved dive sites, the Beyond the Reef project created two new dive sites in 2019, sinking the old iconic floating restaurant, Willy T and three plane wreckages (which had been creatively turned into sharks and dubbed Sharkplaneo!) which would also become sustainable artificial reefs, creating a diverse hub of marine life. Money collected from diving these sites will be donated to local charities to give local children swimming lessons.

Ben Williams of Kilbride’s Sunchaser Scuba in Virgin Gorda lets in on a hidden diving gem:

“My favourite dive site in the BVI is the Invisibles, located just off Necker Island. A lot of people hear about this site but only few get to dive it as the weather conditions need to be right. It consists of two underwater pinnacles, teaming with marine life, big schools of fish swirling in and around the crevasses. Not only during the day is this an awesome dive, it is also the best night dive I have ever done in the world. It is where the local sea turtles find a bed for the night and divers can see up to 15 sleeping turtles on a dive.”

Reach new heights and ski in the clouds in Zermatt

Heli-skiing is the ultimate challenge for the experienced skier or boarder – to satisfy their urge to carve tracks through soft powder snow. Being transported high above the crowds, this literally takes skiing to a higher level – adrenalin rush guaranteed. And where better to do it than the stunning resort of Zermatt deep in the legendary Swiss alps. 

Book the Heliskiing Monte Rosa package – and master the slopes at 4,200 metres above sea level, directly below the Durfourspitze, the highest mountain in the whole of Switzerland. From start to finish, the trip is between 3 – 4 hours, descending with 2,500 altitude difference. The tour includes a briefing and guided tour by a certified mountain guide and the helicopter ride. The culmination of the experience, however, is the descent. On pristine, feather-light powder snow, ski over high-alpine glaciers in the midst of the fascinating 4000 metre backdrop, speed down steep slopes and make fresh tracks.

Make base at the Schweizerhof Zermatt, right in the heart of picturesque Zermatt. Newly renovated and reopened as a Michel Reybier Hospitality property (alongside its sister hotels, La Reserve Geneva, La Reserve Paris and La Reserve Ramatuelle) in December 2018, the hotel is on Bahnhofstrasse, a short walk to the railway and Gornergratbahn stations. With stunning views over the mountains, the hotel is easy-going and stylish – deftly combining contemporary chic with traditional alpine chalet-style, with a delightful spa for post heli-skiing soothing – and three restaurants including La Muna, serving Peruvian and Asian inspired dishes. 

The Schweizerhof Zermatt reopens for the winter season on 18 December 2020.

Experience a thrilling expedition on the Peruvian Amazon

Aqua Expeditions explores the world’s most wildlife and culture-rich destinations aboard best-in-class stylish contemporary vessels – with tailored five-star itineraries, a highly-exclusive 1:1 crew-to-guest ratio with personalised service, a cuisine experience crafted by acclaimed chefs and expertly guided adventure activities and excursions.

This autumn, Aqua Expeditions unveils the highly anticipated Aqua Nera, setting a new standard of luxury and adventure on the Peruvian Amazon. The vessel will operate on three-, four- and seven-night itineraries to ensure complete flexibility and the ability to adapt to guests’ travel plans. Aqua Nera’s itineraries will depart from the Peruvian port of Iquitos before meandering through the various rivers of the Peruvian Amazon, visiting remote Amazonian towns and villages along the way. Expert naturalist guides will be on board to offer bespoke experiences, such as intimate wildlife encounters in the world’s most biodiverse rainforest; from morning birdwatching to spotting the legendary pink river dolphins. With a guest to staff ratio of 1:1, these expeditions ensure maximum intimacy and privacy, as well as the opportunity to access unexplored tributaries.

Aqua Nera’s effortless elegant interiors take inspiration from the black water lagoons and tributaries of the Amazon River and the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve. The award-winning Peruvian chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino will continue his role as consulting chef on Aqua Nera. Known for using local Amazonian ingredients in his innovative Peruvian cuisine, Chef Schiaffino’s menu will be a wonderful addition to his already highly acclaimed Aria Amazon menu. It will also echo Aqua Expeditions’ steadfast commitment to sustainability and supporting local producers, without compromising on the world-class dining experience that Aqua Expeditions’ guests have come to expect.

An ode to travel: How the industry is still making its voice heard

The travel industry has come to a virtual standstill as the coronavirus pandemic spreads across the globe. As a result, many traditional marketing and communication activities have temporarily been put on hold. Yet despite the challenges the travel industry faces, the world is still turning on its axis, people are still dreaming and most importantly for us; the press are still writing and telling stories, and it comes as no surprise that media consumption is up.

We’ve all just had to think differently in order to satisfy wanderlust in this brave new world.

Armchair travel – inspire and transport  

Our voracious appetite for escapism in these times of lockdown mean stories require a fast-moving response to an ever-changing news agenda. Many of the editors that we’ve spoken with, from luxury long lead glossies to national newspapers, all remain hopeful and have shifted their content to reflect the insightful and inspirational. Think life-changing holidays for 2021, recipes to transport you and bucket lists galore.

As one national travel editor recently put it: “We only travel for about four weeks of the year and spend 48 weeks dreaming about travel, so what pieces can we share to keep people dreaming.”

With children off school there has also been a big call out for child-friendly entertainment and other educational ideas. Eco safari brand, andBeyond have managed to meet both these challenges with their live stream safari drives as featured by The Telegraph. They have collaborated with wildlife broadcasting experts, WildEarth, to stream (in real time) twice-daily, three-hour long game drives from andBeyond Ngala Private Game Reserve and Djuma Private Game Reserve

Feed the nation

By now we are all clued up to the wondrous store cupboard creations on offer and the nation has become an army of banana bread bakers. As a result, journalists are still looking for kitchen inspiration and recipe ideas for their readers just like Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer’s roast chicken recipe as seen in the Vanity Fair weekly newsletter.  

In a broader sense, others are sharing their culinary know-how by helping to feed their local community. Calcot Hotel & Spa, part of the Calcot Collection, a group of luxury hotels in the Cotswolds and Northumberland,  has launched a community food project in response to the Covid-19 crisis. With the support of their owners, the Stone family and led by Executive Head Chef Richard Davies, the Calcot team is working with local councils and volunteers to safely prepare and deliver delicious home-cooked meals to 600 vulnerable people in the local area.

The face of travel

Many writers in the industry have been quick to point out how broad a footprint travel has, employing one in ten people across the globe. Their rallying cry to hear from and interview interesting people about their jobs, their local communities and their work has been keenly felt. Architects, designers, gardeners, hoteliers, chefs, restaurateurs, safari guides with stories to tell are all in demand.

Feel good

Feel good stories are still dominating headlines as it’s cheering to hear how communities around the world are responding. Examples include India’s ITC hotel company who have set up  a coronavirus fund to help authorities support district health and rural healthcare systems that reach out to the weakest sections of society. ITC’s hotels are also providing 1,000 daily meals along with quarantine and isolation for medical officers and stranded foreigners.

On a larger level, it seems there is a new swell of support and community building alongside the crisis and consumers are realising the love and need for travel, connection and exploration more than ever. As the world’s governments grapple with how best to balance their response to the crisis, it’s our job to continue to inspire, connect and ultimately champion a continued sense of wanderlust.