Tanah Gajah, Bali
The former estate of Hendra Hadiprana — one of Indonesia’s most respected art collectors — has been transformed into an intimate luxury resort with 20 individual villas.
You can channel your own Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at Tanah Gajah, the 5-star hotel in Ubud, Bali, where guest pampering and luxury immersion is a high art. Resort guests get a dedicated butler who takes care of all those pesky vacation needs from laundering swimsuits to having that green smoothie waiting after yoga class. At Tanah Gajah sheets are changed twice a day, your car is washed, and staff makes sure your slippers are bedside ready. If you always wanted to know what money can buy, this is your kind of place. While walking the grounds around your villa, make sure to take in the art and sculpture, and note the swan pond where those floating creatures mate for life — a fitting place to begin or renew life vows with your own beloved.
Having garnered something of a reputation from its Central American neighbors as a great place to go, Nicaragua has been somewhat overlooked by the rest of us in recent years. The U.S. State Department, possibly for political reasons, suggests travel to Nicaragua should be reconsidered, but this paints a grossly unfair portrait of a not only beautiful but safe country. With places to stay like the luxurious Morgan’s Rock hotel in San Juan Del Sur, which is a tropical escape into an oceanside jungle vista that offers a much more personal local experience, as guests can partake in local farming practices and truly immerse themselves in a friendly culture. All while having an amazing place to stay. Nicaragua has so much to offer, with ancient sites predating the Spanish expeditions, and stunningly beautiful places, amazing food and very friendly people. Seriously, the US Department of Safety needs to lighten up.
Ashram Surf Retreat In Mangalore, India
Ever dreamed of learning to surf in the Arabian Sea? Located near Mangalore in southern India, the Ashram Surf Retreat gives travelers that opportunity. Opened in 2004, it was founded with the goal of bringing surfing to a region with ideal beginner waves yet no surf schools.
The retreat offers overnight packages for beginner to intermediate surfers. The reasonably priced packages include daily surf lessons, equipment, lodging and delicious local cuisine. While most surfers opt for a 3-, 5-, 7- or 10-day package, those looking to really hone their skills can book the month-long, advanced surf course. With lessons on a remote beach away from crowds, Ashram is the perfect place to learn or improve your skills. Travelers can also enjoy the retreat’s yoga, paddle boarding, kayaking and snorkeling options. Ashram Surf Retreat is ideal for travelers looking for a detox, or even not looking — no alcohol or non-vegetarian food is allowed on the premises. (So maybe that month long thing is looking a bit long…)
Wattana Panich, Bangkok, Thailand
We’ve all heard how aged foods and drinks are supposedly the greatest of delicacies, sometimes taking years to reach the level of maturity, considered the best of the best. However, those foodstuffs have been aged rather than cooked straight for years. Surely no one would be crazy to cook a meal for any longer than a week at most, perhaps only the most beguiled of traditionalist grandmothers with their crock pot.
But there is a restaurant in Bangkok, Wattana Panich, that has kept the same soup simmering day and night for over 45 years. Yes, that’s the same soup, the same pot, the same ingredients, for over 45 years. Of course, new meats and seasonings are added as it is served, but in truth there is an indescribable flavor in a way that only 45 years of having the broth absorb every flavor can achieve. This is certainly a must have on any trip to Bangkok, and you can brag that you had a family cooking you a soup for 45 years, just to get it perfect (this is an even better brag if you’re younger than 45).
Enough already with Tuscany. Sperlonga, this coastal medieval town at the midway point between Rome and Naples, was once a hotspot for celebrities and film shoots. It turned into Italy’s best kept secret. Overlooking the very blue Tyrrhenian Sea, Sperlonga and its white sand beaches that stretch along the entire coast, welcomes you to come and do absolutely nothing. Have you ever done the Italian version of “nothing”? Sperlonga is the place for ultimate relaxation. The town of 4,000 typically doubles in the summer so act fast on accommodations as there are reportedly only about 2,500 rooms available in 30 buildings. The must-see tourist spot is Emperor Tiberius’ villa. The former home that once housed lavish banquet rooms and fish farms and caves is now the main entrance to an archaeological museum that features ancient marble statues that were discovered in 1957 and once graced the emperor’s dining grotto. There’s also a 12th century church because every Italian city is required to have a very old church.