The best new hotels, resorts and other wonders
REEF SUITES HOTEL HARDY REEF, QUEENSLAND AUSTRALIA
A hotel that floats, not on the water, but under it. Reef Suites Hotel is 40 nautical miles offshore and the first of its kind in Australia. (But I suspect not the last.) Two ensuite rooms are moored 13 feet underwater with spectacular views of the Great Barrier Reef and all its aquatic wonders through floor-to-ceiling windows. Don’t worry, the glass is watertight and three inches thick – that should be enough, right!
At night, switch a light on to light up the ocean bed to witness the nocturnal activities. And best of all, well for some of us, there is no Wi-Fi or phone signal at Reef, so your phone just becomes a camera.
This venture is part of a redevelopment project which has replanted 4,000 pieces of coral ensuring the reef is protected. In a statement from Tourism Minister Kate Jones, she hopes Reef Suites Hotel will be “one of the most iconic tourism experiences in Australia.” And bring people closer to the country’s most fragile natural resource.
MAMA SHELTER – PARIS WEST PARIS, FRANCE
In the 15th arrondissement, mere minutes from the Porte de Versailles exhibition center, Mama’s has opened its second hotel in Paris. The district has a neighborhood atmosphere, with restaurants, markets, boulangeries and restaurants all near the city center, but just off the beaten track enough so you can see Paris like a Parisian. It is one of the city’s leafiest districts with the Parc André Citroën and Parc George Brassens close by.
This 207-room boutique hotel has design elements from interior design Dion & Arles. Each room has a king-sized bed so you can start imagining all the things one can do in a bed of that size. Eating and drinking is taken care of in the all-day restaurant then digest on the rooftop with its panoramic views of the City of Light. They even have a half-court basketball court should you get the urge to show the French how to throw down. Or, wait for it, you can work out in the hotel gym then relax in the sauna.
PARC NATIONAL DE FORÊTS CHAMPAGNE ET BOURGOGNE, FRANCE
On the Langres plateau in northern France, about a three-hour drive north of Paris, is France’s 11th national park covering 965 square miles of countryside and forest. The location was chosen for its cultural significance and variety of plants and wildlife. Eighty percent of the trees have been standing since the French Revolution, and probably before. There are a number of rare flowers now protected, including the sabot-de vénus orchid. The fauna is bountiful with deer, wild cats, black storks and even wild boar. The two-legged residents (that’s us humans) number about 28,000 in 127 communities, so when you are not hiking the 1,250 miles of trails or kayaking the 450 miles of waterways, you stop and shop or visit an archeological site or two; there are some remains dating back 750 B.C.
ROBIN POPE CONSERVATION SAFARIS MAJETE WILDLIFE RESERVE AND LINWODE NATIONAL PARK MALAWI
Take a seven-day conservation safari in Malawi (see image top of the page), the “Warm Heart of Africa”, and travel with members of the African Parks team to get a rare up-close and hands-on look at their work of animal rehabilitation and how they manage the parks. It’s a unique opportunity to explore on foot among the elephants, zebra, buffalo, warthog, hartebeest, eland, kudu, waterbuck, impala, sable and 17 black rhinos recently relocated to Liwonde from South Africa, to name a few of the 2,000 species all living in these protected sanctuaries.
The safari starts in Blantyre and the Majete Wildlife Reserve, one of the largest in Southern Africa, and Liwonde National Park. Liwonde is also known as one of the top birding locations in Southern Africa. The safari ends with a boat trip down the Malombe River. Safari activities, all meals and thankfully laundry are included. First available dates are March 2020.
HOTEL RUI PALACE RIVIERA MAYA PLAYA DEL CARMEN, MEXICO
Total refurbishment complete, the doors at the Hotel Rui Palace Riviera Maya are once again open on the white-sand beach of Playa del Carmen, with renovated rooms and new swimming pools — one with a swim-up bar. Or go to the beach. The hotel has its own private area with sunbed lounge chairs reserved just for you! There are new Italian and Mexican restaurants, bars and a disco with free drinks! While the kids play at RuiLand with Calú, a friendly sea turtle who was born on a nearby beach nearby, you can go to the new fitness and wellness center and spa. Adventurous ones must inquire about scuba diving, catamaran, body-boarding and windsurfing excursions or take a trip to other islands and reserves. All of this comes with all-inclusive 24-hour service so you can get whatever you want, whenever you want. They seem to have thought of everything for a perfect vacation, whatever your age.