Luxury Hotels

Paradise Valley AZ – London – Pyrenees – Dubai

Sanctuary on Camelback Mountain Resort and Spa, high up in Paradise Valley AZ, was, not surprisingly, fully booked this last weekend. Girlahead would so love to be back there for an extended weekend, say over Valentine’s – there is no price hike on Sunday 14th February but there is a two-night minimum stay. The 53-acre resort, run by VP/GM Mike Surguine, above, offers amazing refreshing Arizona mountain air, stunning views and wellness, and food to drool over. There are 105 casitas and Girlahead especially likes #105, closest to the 14-room spa and gym, and 45 healthy steps up to Elements restaurant and one of the world’s best, and most capable, concierge teams. The casita has a log-look fire, and cuddly Robe Works robes, both much appreciated after climbing Camelback Mountain via Echo Canyon (is it still true that if you complete that entire circuit dinner, or at least a cocktail, is on the house?).

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Girlahead has long wondered why beauty brands do not follow such fashion icons as Armani and Bulgari and get into hotels (OK, we have Caudalie but that evolved AFTER the hotel, Ch Smith-Lafite, outside Bordeaux). Now Denise and John Leicester, the brains behind cult beauty brand Ilä, open the five-room Maison Ilä in the tiny village of Sonnac-dur-L’Hers (population 130) in the Pyrenees. Ilä, which means earth in Sanskrit and is the name of the Hindu God of Truth, evolved after Denise Leicester, a nurse, suffered debilitating fatigue and started studying, and mixing, ayurvedic and other potions back home on her kitchen table in England’s Cotswolds area.  The hotel looks absolutely charming, with soft palest-grey soothing colouring, and Girlahead cannot wait to visit.

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Corinthia London cleverly decided about four years ago to partner with Tom Kerridge, a really down-to-earth English cook and as far removed from Michelin-type haute cuisine as can be imagined.  He does run other freestanding restaurants and pubs but his signature must surely be his eponymous restaurant at Corinthia London.  Two years ago Kerridge was invited to design English food for a British Airways onboard special promotion. Now the clever airline is switching from selling Marks & Spencer sandwiches onboard – Economy only – to offering pre-booked food by Tom Kerridge. The range, ordered via the airline’s Speedbird Cafe website, includes steak and ale pies; vegan spiced-cauliflower tortilla wraps, and vegetarian Brie ploughman’s sandwiches.  All are prepared by Do&Co, the international Vienna-based caterer and restaurant started and headed by Atilla Dogudan, who also caters Paddock Clubs at Formula Ones.

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Talking of food, if you have not yet caught up with Dubai-based Jumeirah CEO José Silva on that subject, hear him here: