Girlahead always has such a worthwhile time at Ashford Castle, above – this is Red Carnation’s glorious Irish estate, and it has just been deemed Travel+Leisure’s best resort in Ireland and UK, 2020. It is also one of the top properties in Checking In The Book, a digital coffee table book that features 35 spectacular hotels around the world and ways to bring the essence of each one to your home (is this basically a staycation at its finest?). www.checkinginthebook.com
Checking In The Book has interviews with such hospitality names as designer André Fu and visionary operator James McBride, ceo Nihi. There are Thai recipes from Amanpuri, Phuket, and French ideas from Le Bristol Paris, an Oetker Collection hotel. Other top hotels featured include Rosewood’s The Carlyle, in New York. The book is a personal project of two savvy personalities. Singapore-based Kissa Castañeda is Editor-in-Chief of Tatler Singapore and Regional Editor – Travel & Design Tatler Asia. Alexandra Seitz, currently based in London, is a marketing and branding consultant who has worked for Quintessentially Travel, LUXE City Guides, AKQA and The Luxe Nomad. The project also relied on the creative vision and design skill of Husam Elfaki, also based in London: the charities benefitting from sales of Checking In The Book include Saira Hospitality, a non-profit transforming the way hotels connect with local communities through education, and The African Tourism Crisis Fund, which provides emergency grants for communities and conservation efforts in Africa.
Talking of Africa, a safari is a perfect post Covid-19 escape, says Alice Gully, co-owner of Aardvark Safaris. Think open spaces and wilderness, avoiding crowds and exploring vast remote areas. She suggests:
Angama Safari Camp, Masai Mara, Kenya – Opening August 2020. Tucked away in a remote wilderness in the south-western corner of the Mara Triangle, this sole-use seasonal camp accommodates just eight guests in four tents. Surrounded by abundant resident wildlife and in the heart of the wildebeest migration route, you will be able to explore with a dedicated safari vehicle and guide. With easy access to the famous river crossing points there is plenty of wildlife action right on the doorstep.
Camp George, Simbavati, South Africa – Opening Autumn 2020. In the unspoilt and wildlife-rich Klaserie Private Nature Reserve, this intimate eight suite camp is bordered on two sides by a riverbed (with a waterhole nearby, there is a rich variety of wildlife and, well-populated with indigenous trees, it is a birders paradise too, with around 360 species recorded).
Xigera Safari Lodge, Botswana – Opening October 2020. Sitting on Paradise Island under a beautiful canopy of ancient trees with epic views over the Okavango Delta flood plains, and surrounded by deep channels and lush vegetation, the striking 12 suite lodge is 100% solar powered, with a dedicated focus on sustainability and eliminating single use plastics.
Kruger Shalati, South Africa – Opening Autumn 2020. Set on the historic Selati Bridge, which spans the Sabie River as it flows through the Kruger National Park, the hotel will be created in the restored and upgraded train which rests on the now disused railway bridge, at a point where the park’s first warden welcomed guests nearly 100 years ago. Kruger Shalati will comprise 24 carriage rooms and seven bridge house rooms. A beautiful deck and pool high above the riverbank allow a swimming experience unlike any other – with crocodile, hippos, buffalos and elephants enjoying the river far below.
Azura Marlin Beach, Mozambique – Opening Autumn 2020. On a beautiful kilometre-long stretch of white sand on Benguerra Island in the Bazaruto Archipelago Marine National Park, the ten bright and breezy beach-front villas are just steps from the sand.
Nkarhi Homestead, Timbavati, South Africa – Opening July 2020. The owners of Tanda Tula offer this traditional, off-grid, South African homestead for exclusive-accommodation buy-outs for up to nine guests. Take it on a catered or self-catering basis: either way you get a guide, tracker, and housekeeper. Get more Africa ideas from www.aardvarksafaris.co.uk