THE INN AT NICEWONDER FARM & VINEYARDS BRISTOL, VA, USA
On April 4th The Inn at Nicewonder Farm & Vineyards — what a great name! — opened its doors. Located in the Virginia Highlands, overlooking the lake on the grounds of the family owned property, it has 28 beautiful, luxury guest rooms and suites with views of rolling hills, meadows or the lake. Yurt Village is set among the trees with 9 customized yurts, each separate for privacy and relaxation. (And doesn’t “Yurt” say “privacy and relaxation and not your average damn hotel room?” It does to me!).
The menu for the restaurant Hickory is designed by Chef Travis Milton and inspired by Appalachian food culture, highlighting vegetables unique to the region and grown on the property. No good lunch or dinner is any good without wine — again, Appalachian wine, produced in their vineyard. No Appalachian wine jokes please! Not all America can produce good wine — sorry, New Jersey — but Virginia can. Seriously! The Vineyard Tasting Room located in the vineyard opened in early May, where guests can taste the wine along with lite bites, while looking out over the vineyard and gardens. Where are we, in frigging Tuscany?
MARGARITAVILLE ST. SOMEWHERE HOLBOX ISLAND, MEXICO
Holbox Island is northwest of Cancun off the Yucatan Peninsula, and now the home of Margaritaville St. Somewhere, the curiously named inaugural property for the curiously named Karisma Hotels & Resorts, working in conjunction with the inexorably spreading Margaritaville brand. There are no cars on the island; transportation is by golf cart and buggy, and your very own peds of course. The place is spectacular with 39 suites designed in six different types, over mangrove gardens and wooden bridges. And the island has 26 miles of white sand beach — that’s a hair under a marathon in length.
Two open-air restaurants and one bar offer Yucatan cuisine, appropriately, and fresh cocktails. “Guests are immediately immersed in the island’s lush setting from the moment they arrive. Holbox Island is a beautiful, remote destination, complete with adventure and wonder,” says Beat Müller, senior director of operations, proudly, like a new dad.
CASTELLO DI CASOLE TUSCANY, ITALY
Castello Di Casole, a former castle dating back to the 10th century on a 4,200-acre property in Tuscany, (on one the largest private estates in Italy, just an interesting piece of trivia). Anyway, they just reopened, after an extensive restoration which honours the natural wonders of the hotel and its Tuscan heritage, using reclaimed materials found throughout the estate and traditional building methods. You can trace the centuries in the stones of the walled courtyard and hand-set loggia. With 39 guest rooms and suites and 6 bars and restaurants, it is the ideal place to uncover the multitudinous wonders and beauty of Tuscany. And yes, there is a spa, in what was the wine cellar, so this one is pretty dramatic.
THE COVE ELEUTHERA, THE BAHAMAS
The island of Eleuthera is 1 mile wide and 110 miles long, so pretty definably a narrow island, located about 50 miles from Nassau in the Bahamas. It was originally called Segatoo by the Lucayan Indians, the original inhabitants. In 1948 a group of Puritan adventurers seeking religious freedom were shipwrecked there and named the island Eleutheria, the Greek word for freedom, later changing it to Eleuthera which means simply free.
Tucked away between two white sand coves you will find The Cove, which has just reopened. If you weren’t specifically going there, you’d probably pass right by! With two private, white sand beaches, 27 luxury villas, oceanfront dining and an open-air sunset bar, and a bevy of activity options, which include snorkeling, kayaking and a spa and fitness center, you could be forgiven if you feel like you have washed ashore on your own private island. The locals and staff’s one declared aim is to make your heart smile. Don’t really get that back home, do we?
CONRAD TULUM RIVIERA MAYA, MEXICO
Conrad Tulum Rivera opened earlier this year. This is, surprisingly, Hilton’s debut property in the Mexican Caribbean, eight miles north of Tulum, in a secluded bay surrounded by a tropical forest. The design is inspired and influenced by the Mayan culture and Tulum’s natural beauty. As you enter the lobby through ornate wooden doors, engraved by local artisans, you are greeted by glorious ocean views. With a whopping 349 guest rooms with ocean views from private balconies, 11 wining and dining venues. And an in-house Shaman to perform ancient rituals! Oh, and, yes, a spa.
This resort is designed as a wellness refuge. I mean, with 11 places to eat and drink, I’m feeling better already!
THE HOMSTEAD NAMBITI PRIVATE GAME RESERVE, SOUTH AFRICA
This one is definitely getting added to my list. Scheduled to open soon!! 12 ultra-luxury lodges each with infinity pools and rooftop gardens. (You had me at ultra-luxury!) Located in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve within easy reach of Johannesburg or Durban, guests will get palatial luxury with an eco-conscious ethos. There are safaris to see one of the widest arrays of bird and plant life and more than fifty species of mammals, and the property is all designed with conservation and sustainability in mind, and to take an adventure and discover the culture, history and natural beauty of South Africa. Dining is locally sourced and organic and… wait for it… there’s a spa!