If you’re still seeking out a Christmas/NYE getaway look no further than Vatuvara Private Islands
You’re unlikely to have seen anything like this before. The ultimate in luxury, stunning villas with a fully integrated all-inclusive service, on private islands very few souls have ever experienced.
Vatuvara Private Islands are idyllically hidden as far off the beaten path as one can imagine. Rising out of the cobalt blue waters of the South Pacific, this breathtaking destination is located in Fiji’s pristine northern Lau waters on Kaibu Island and offers a secluded, unspoiled paradise for the discerning traveler.
Remote and only accessible by the resort’s private airplane, Vatuvara Private Islands can accommodate couples and intimate groups in seclusion and privacy. And the specific villas on offer will simply blow your mind.
From Villa Delana, with its expansive interiors with elegantly detailed South Seas furnishings including magnificent stone columns and crowned with a traditional Fijian thatch roof on a commanding sea cliff location; to Villa Vatu with its stone verandahs, timber decks and bionised heated infinity edge plunge pool overlooking the lagoon; to the magnificent Villa Saku with its incredible bedroom, luxury facilities and stone bath Vatuvara is the stuff dreams are made of.
And best of all all three villas are available to book right now.
With 2016 officially designated the Year of The English Garden there’s never been a better time to visit the UK and see some of the gardens of its most famous landscape designer: Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. Born 300 years ago, the Shakespeare of English garden design was responsible for using a more ‘natural’ style, transforming stately home gardens and landscapes throughout England. Here are 10 of his greatest works.
‘Capability’ Brown Kirkharle Lake & Courtyard, Northumberland
‘Capability’ Brown was baptised in 1716 in the tiny Northumbrian village of Kirkharle and in 1732 he was appointed apprentice gardener at Kirkharle Hall. Today Kirkharle estate, including a lake and courtyard, has an exhibition where you can learn all about ‘Capability’ Brown’s achievements and detailed information with which to take time to wander around Kirkharle’s historic grounds. Brown’s original plan for the grounds was discovered hidden away in Kirkharle Hall and has recently been used to shape the gardens and build a lake. Follow the 900m lakeside pathway to discover his emerging 18th century landscape and experience a garden design in the making. Pop into one of the many boutique shops, where you’ll find individual art, jewellery and gifts. You can even take home some ‘Back to Nature’ ‘Capability’ Brown soap! kirkharlecourtyard.co.uk
Stowe was ‘Capability’ Brown’s first major commission and today is one of the most magnificent landscape gardens in England. He started his career as head gardener here at the age of 26 in 1741, was married and lived at Stowe for 10 years. A picture-perfect English garden now managed by National Trust, attracting visitors for over 300 years. Stowe has fabulous views, lakes and temples all joined up with winding paths and a timeless landscape. In the 18th century, Stowe rivalled many of the royal gardens and was loved by all who visited, including Catherine the Great of Russia, who copied many aspects at her own gardens near St Petersburg. nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe
‘Capability ’Brown’s first commission for a house and parkland is a masterpiece. An incredible restoration project started over 17 years ago and continues today and what was then a lost and overgrown 18th century parkland has been restored to ‘Capability’ Brown’s very first landscape design. Croome Court’s restoration encourages visitors to see the transformation from inside and out. Climb the scaffolding for a stunning view! This grand house will emerge in all its glory during 2016. nationaltrust.org.uk/croome
The Lion Bridge at Burghley
This is probably the most important commission in ‘Capability’ Brown’s career and was certainly his longest. It took him 25 years to complete and he described it as “25 years of pleasure”. Burghley is one of England’s greatest Elizabethan houses and gardens dating back to the 16th century. Explore the stunning 300-acre deer park and gardens, where you can see his signature lake and avenues of mature trees. Take a stroll around the Historical Garden of Surprises, hidden from the outside it features obelisks, statues, flowing water and fountains. The Contemporary Sculpture Garden is dedicated to exhibiting innovative sculptures. burghley.co.uk
A map of one of Brown’s lost landscapes to be restored at Trentham
Trentham is one of Brown’s most celebrated successes and his work continues today with a restoration of one of his lost landscapes. This is a must-see award-winning English garden with a mile long ‘Capability’ Brown designed lake, Italian Garden, woodland and maze. Enjoy his impressive lake on foot or on water – walk around the lake path (it’s 2 miles!) or hop aboard the Miss Elizabeth boat. Don’t forget to bring your camera as this garden is a photographer’s dream throughout the year, with picture-perfect views at every turn. Look carefully and you may even see some fairies. There’s plenty more to entertain you at Trentham, you’ll find a shopping village and garden centre and for the more adventurous the Monkey Forest and Aerial Extreme, a tree-based high ropes adventure course.trentham.co.uk
By the mid 18th century ‘Capability’ Brown had now become the ‘celebrity’ landscape gardener and his work at Chatsworth transformed the gardens to mirror the magnificence of the house. Loved by all who visit, Chatsworth is one of England’s greatest treasure houses and gardens. This 18th century ‘Capability’ Brown garden with over 105 acres is full of surprises. It’s most famous for its 200ft (61m) fountain, rock garden and surviving Joseph Paxton glasshouses and contemporary sculptures. Join a free one hour garden tour where you’ll learn all about its history, including ‘Capability’ Brown’s landscape designs. Take time to explore this dramatic house, home of the Cavendish family since the 1550s. Full of works of art spanning over 4,000 years, there’s something to delight every visitor from Roman and Egyptian sculptures to masterpieces from Rembrandt, Reynolds and Veronese. chatsworth.org
One of the most magnificent and enchanting gardens in England. ‘Capability’ Brown was responsible for softening the gardens with a series of elaborate serpentine lakes. English Heritage took over Wrest Park in 2006 and has restored it to its former glory. Explore the 90 acres of grounds where you can see French, Dutch, Italian and English styles sitting side by side and spanning across three centuries of design. There’s plenty to see at Wrest Park including a number of hidden gems – the Bath house with cobbled floor inlaid with a pattern of deer bones, a Chinese temple and bridge and over 40 statues. english-heritage.org.uk
‘Capability’ Brown’s vision for Harewood was to ensure the gardens were as imposing as the house. He did this by building an enormous lake (32 acres), which can still be seen today. Harewood House is a grade I listed building full of art, including an early collection of watercolours by Turner. Take time to enjoy this magnificent 100 acre garden where you can see the Terrace, Lakeside Garden, Himalayan Garden and Walled Garden. Admire the grand sweep of the 1,000 acre park and Harewood estate as you stroll around the ‘Capability’ Brown lake. But don’t leave without a visit to the Bird Garden, home to penguins, owls, flamingos and parrots. harewood.org
Blenheim Palace is possibly ‘Capability’ Brown’s masterpiece for scale with over 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland. Noted as “the most beautiful view in England”; the Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The award-winning formal gardens, commissioned by the 9th Duke of Marlborough, include a secret garden, the majestic water terraces, a fragrant rose garden and the grand cascade and lake. Take time to enjoy The Pleasure Gardens, where you can hop aboard the miniature train, get lost in the giant maze or visit the tropical butterfly house. blenheimpalace.com
‘Capability’ Brown was appointed by King George III to look after the gardens and lived there with his family. This was an important appointment as it raised his status amongst the nobility. He is thought to have planted the great vine in 1768, which is still producing a crop of sweet grapes today (you can buy them from the shop in early September). Hampton Court Palace is of unique, historical and horticultural importance. The park covers 750 acres of land, set by the River Thames. Stroll around the 60 acres of beautiful formal gardens where you’ll see The Privy Garden, Tiltyard Walls, Rose Garden and The Great Fountain Garden. But don’t get lost in the maze! hrp.org.uk/HamptonCourtPalace
UltraVilla experts provide some of the most beautiful and luxurious properties and experiences to be had across the United Kingdom. And many of their properties have exceptional landscaped gardens of their own.Clickhereto find out more.
The Bath Manor, a Georgian Grade I building from Blandings, has gardens recognised by English Heritage. They include productive orchards, a kitchen garden and a beautiful ornamental lake.
The Tower of London is nor far from many of London Perfect’s exclusive properties in the British capital
This Winchester Manor House from Loyd & Townsend Rose dating from 1680 lies in acres of beautiful grounds just waiting to be explored.
Simply put, we all love Scotland. Here are 27 reasons why you shouldn’t let the cold put you off in 2016.
Building on the success of previous themed years such as Homecoming Scotland 2014 and the Year of Food and Drink in 2015, the Year of Innovation, Architecture & Design will celebrate the richness of Scotland’s much-loved heritage, culture and environment, alongside the contemporary and cutting edge designs of today. From textiles to technology, architecture to fashion and design, the year-long programme will shine a spotlight on Scotland’s greatest assets and icons, as well as some of the nation’s unique hidden gems. So look out for the first ever Festival of Architecture 2016, which will offer a Scotland-wide programme of events and the reopening of St. Peter’s Seminary in March, the 50th anniversary of the opening of a building, which has been described as Scotland’s most significant modernist building and was left abandoned in 1980.
This new trail is set to launch along the Berwickshire Coastal Path. As a result of research conducted by historian/curator Derek Janes, more is now known about incidents that took place along this coastline that really represent how rife smuggling was in this part of Scotland. The route will interpret smuggling stories along the way, and will stop at various viewpoints where known incidents took place. Gunsgreen House will be at the centre of this trail, and displays are currently being upgraded to show more of the Smugglers’ Trail stories.
Set to be launched in 2016 this is an outstanding scenic route along the eastern side of the Cairngorms National Park, from Glenshee to Grantown-on-Spey. The trail will feature an installation by a young recently qualified architect to enhance the route, following a nationwide competition to find the winning designer. Combining stunning Scottish design alongside the outstanding natural beauty of the Cairngorms the new route will encourage more people to experience and enjoy the breath-taking landscapes of the Cairngorms.
The Engine Shed is an ambitious project to create Scotland’s first dedicated building conservation centre. It will be open to the public with family friendly activities, craft demonstrations and training courses to entertain and challenge.
Set to open in Spring 2016 following a £3.6 million refurbishment, you’ll see two restored nationally significant Second World War hangars at the National Museum of Flight in East Fortune, featuring vibrant exhibitions within them. The National Museum of Flight is located on the UK’s best-preserved Second World War airfield and is home to one of the best aviation collections in Europe. Visitors to the museum can explore the history of aviation from the First World War to the present day.
A new state-of-the-art £4m visitor centre with 60 seat café, retail area, and a multi-space area for educational use, will open in September 2016 at Pitlochry dam to showcase the role of the engineers and builders who first brought hydropower to Scotland back in 1951. Visitors will also discover the secrets of the incredible annual journey made by salmon on their return to their native Perthshire rivers to spawn.
Wilderness Scotland have a range of new self-drive tours along impossibly quiet roads through some of the most stunning scenery Scotland has to offer. The new tours include the North Coast 500, Scotland’s answer to Route 66, luxury adventure in Skye and the North West Highlands, as well as Edinburgh to Highland Perthshire.
10 March – 25 September sees the National Museum Scotland host this stunning exhibition telling the story of the different peoples who have used or been given the name ‘Celts’ through the stunning art objects that they made, including intricately decorated jewellery, highly stylised objects of religious devotion, and the decorative arts of the late 19th century which were inspired by the past. Organised with the British Museum, this is the first major British exhibition in 40 years to tell the story of the Celts. It will showcase stunning and rare artworks lent from 16 UK institutions and ten international lenders.
The Dark Sky Park in Galloway, which became the UK’s first Dark Sky Park in the UK in 2009, has recently trained four Biosphere Dark Sky Rangers to communicate about the wonders of the night sky and the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere. The self-employed Biosphere Dark Sky Rangers have a variety of skills and specialisms and will run events and tailor-make experiences for visitors. If you like your astronomy you know where to go.
A visit to the Roxburghe Estates is a must for anyway interested in gardens. It’s investing in new garden features in their famous Victorian kitchen garden to create Scotland’s finest walled garden experience. Access to new areas of the garden will be provided including some of the wonderful greenhouses producing soft fruit and spectacular houseplants. Plants such as streptocarpus are grown under glass and displayed at Floors Castle and always provide a beautiful show of colour.
One of the most famous trains in the world returns to Scotland in May for the first time in 16 years after a major restoration. The train will run from York to Edinburgh and then travel over the World Heritage Site at The Forth Bridge as part of a four-day tour from 14-17 May.
There’s no excuse not to visit the Scottish Poetry Library, which reopened in October 2015 following an extensive renovation. At a time when libraries are seen to be under threat, the Scottish Poetry Library has taken the characteristically bold step of expanding its space and facilities. It now features more space for books, with over 45,000 items, the SPL holds the largest open-access collection of Scottish poetry in the world, together with work by international writers; a new, soundproofed space so that sound and silence can co-exist in the Library; a space for recording as poetry is spoken as well as written; more places to work and read comfortably including more armchairs, a sofa in a child-friendly area, plus a terrace for events, conversation and reading outdoors.
Glasgow’s Art Scene is being brought to life for the Turner Prize by an augmented reality app – art venues across Glasgow are offering an interactive touring experience that lets anyone access the hidden story of artworks through their smartphone via an app called the “Visual Arts Glasgow Tour”. The tour lets users access the story of an artwork, in the form of a 60 second video, simply by pointing their phone at select artwork in the five participating venues. The interactive tour will run until 17 January to coincide with the 3-month Turner Prize Exhibition Period in Glasgow. Venues where you can enjoy the ActivCanvas experience include: The Hunterian, Glasgow School of Art, the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Street Level Photoworks, and Glasgow Print Studios. Pick up ActivCanvas enabled postcards with more details at each of the participating venues.
Dolly (5 July 1996 – 14 February 2003) was a female domestic sheep, and the first animal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell, using the process of nuclear transfer. She was cloned by Ian Wilmut, Keith Campbell and colleagues at the Roslin Institute, part of the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, and the biotechnology company PPL Therapeutics, based near Edinburgh. And during summer 2016 you’ll be able to go and see Dolly the Sheep at the National Museum of Scotland
The rough-hewn block of gray sandstone was the coronation seat of Scottish kings until it was carried away as war booty by King Edward I in 1296. In 1996, the British Conservative Government decided that the Stone should be kept in Scotland when not in use at coronations. On 3 July 1996, it was announced in the House of Commons that the Stone would be returned to Scotland, and on 15 November 1996, after a handover ceremony at the border between representatives of the Home Office and of the Scottish Office, it was transported to Edinburgh Castle. Go see it!
Currently a £14.1 million project is ongoing to create ten new galleries showcasing over 3,000 objects from National Museums Scotland’s internationally significant collections of science and technology, decorative art, design and fashion. Display space for these exhibits is set to increase by over 40%, with three-quarters of them not having previously been on permanent display for generations. The new galleries will open in summer 2016, in the 150th anniversary year of the opening of the outstanding Victorian building in 1866. Exhibits will range from Dolly the Sheep to a Picasso glass sculpture, a 2.5-tonne copper cavity from CERN to shoes by Alexander McQueen and from Charles Rennie Mackintosh furniture to the prototype for the MRI scanner.
The Queen’s 90th birthday
Head to the Royal Yacht Britannia in Edinburgh to celebrate the Queen’s 90th year which is planning a series of exciting events to celebrate in April 2016.
Fashioning a Reign: 90 Years of Style from The Queen’s Wardrobe
Check out three special exhibitions being held in celebration of the Queen’s 90th birthday staged across each of Her Majesty’s official residences during 2016. Constituting the largest display of The Queen’s outfits ever mounted, they will open at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh for Her Majesty’s birthday on 21 April 2016, at the Summer Opening of the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace in August 2016 and at Windsor Castle in September 2016. The exhibition at the Palace of Holyroodhouse will highlight the use of tartan in royal dress.
One of the best known arts festivals in the world is hosting an extended 10 day festival in celebration from 17 – 26 June featuring newly commissioned music, poetry and sculpture. It takes place over midsummer each year in Orkney, when audiences enjoy broad daylight when leaving events at 11pm at night. Venues include one of Scotland’s finest medieval, working Cathedrals, St Magnus in Kirkwall, and interesting historic venues such as the Italian Chapel build by Italian Prisoners of War and new for 2016, the Ness Battery, overlooking Stromness out to sea.
This major biennial festival of visual art will be the first in the city since hosting the Turner Prize in late 2015. Offering more exhibitions and events than ever, Glasgow International will show works by Glasgow-based artists in renowned museum and gallery spaces, off-site spaces, and other cultural organisations.
2,500 musicians from around the world gather in Glasgow for 18 days (15 – 31 January) of concerts, ceilidhs, talks, art exhibitions, workshops, free events, late night sessions and a host of special one-off musical collaborations. The Opening Concert will be celebrating 50 years of the Traditional Music & Song Association of Scotland with musical director Siobhan Miller at the helm.
Returning after three years off and running from 18 – 25 June 2016 this cutting edge curated exhibition provides contemporary art in a rural setting. Making the most of the market town of Cupar’s public buildings and outdoor spaces, the series of free exhibitions and art works is well worth a visit.
Scottish Design Expo at Edinburgh Airport
As part of the official programme for Scotland’s Year of Innovation, Design and Architecture 2016, Scottish Design Expo at Edinburgh Airport is a pop-up design exhibition that will celebrate and showcase the excellence of Scottish design through a world-class display and intrinsically embedded events line-up. EXPO will be located in Edinburgh Airport’s new plaza, which links the tram system to the arrivals hall. The Scottish Design EXPO and accompanying design events programme will take place during the 2016 EIF making it accessible to an unprecedented audience.
This weekend of themed events runs from 24 – 26 June 2016 and will be hosted by the Victorian masterpiece, The National Wallace Monument. 24 June also marks the 155th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone for the Monument. During the event visitors will be able to experience the excitement of 1861 as Scotland starts to build a monument to commemorate William Wallace and the design of architect J. T. Rochead becomes a reality. Costumed actors will depict Charles Rogers and William Burns the men responsible for building the Monument in a new live performance.
Visit the monument on 10 and 11 September to commemorate Wallace’s greatest victory. Be prepared as the atmosphere of 1297 will be recreated with medieval weaponry displays, live performances and themed events.
St Kilda Yacht Race
The first ever St Kilda Challenge yacht race will take place Thursday to Saturday, 9-11 June 2016. The fleet of racing yachts will berth at Lochmaddy Marina on North Uist where a spectacular parade of sails to the start line in the Sound of Harris will take place. Beginning with the arrival of the fleet on 9 June, the programme opens with shore-side cultural treats in North Uist’s main settlement of Lochmaddy. On 10 June the main race will take place covering a total of approximately 100 nautical miles in 24 hours, sailing out to the remote archipelago, using the islands as a turning point before returning to the finish line. Should be magnificent.
Where to Stay in Scotland
Sleep in this four-poster at a stunning baronial castle on the banks of Loch Ness
UltraVilla expert Loyd & Townsend Rose provide some of the most beautiful and luxurious properties and experiences to be had in Scotland. Click here to find out more.
Restaurant Le Sereno
If you’re heading to St Barth for the season you’ll want to know the latest hip and exquisite restaurant to eat while there – the answer is the new Restaurant Le Sereno by Giuliano Lotto.
The acclaimed London-based restaurateur behind the respected La Petite Maison and Il Baretto, Lotto – along with Gordon Ramsay, Marcus Wareing and Giorgio Locatelli – was responsible for the renaissance of the London gourmet foodie scene in recent years.
Located in the Le Sereno beachfront resort in on the Grand Cul-de-Sac, the restaurant will serve a casually elegant Mediterranean Brasserie menu, taking advantage of the bounty of the Caribbean Sea, but all the while incorporating an Italian accent due to the nationality of the head chef Alex Simone and the owners.
Simone, formerly at The Arts Club and then Executive Chef at Il Baretto in London, will serve beautiful but simply presented dining experiences and feature classic Mediterranean dishes elevated with the freshest ingredients that fit perfectly with the restaurant’s beachfront setting, including dishes like Steak Tartare and Vitel Toné.
An entrée from Alex Simone’s Restaurant Le Sereno
The menu will highlight an array of vibrant flavours in dishes such as the Poisson en Croute de Sel (with Lake Como aromatic herbs) and Herb-Crusted Sea Scallops with Saffron. Chef Simone’s famous Lobster Linguine from Il Baretto will also feature on the menu, made here with fresh local spiny lobster that arrives daily.
Here at UltraVilla we’re definitely looking forward to trying it.
Part of St. Barth Properties’ exclusive Grand Cru Collection, Villa Vitti is simply spectacular. Check out the details here and find out all about St Barth Properties and their exclusive collection of villas curated by founder Peg Walsh here.
From kite surfing to cool festivals, a new heritage site to some supreme privates villas here’s why 2016 is the year to go to Anguilla.
Tucked away in the Eastern Caribbean, Anguilla is the most northern island in the Leeward Island chain, measuring just 35 square miles with a population of 15,000 people. It boasts pristine white sand beaches, tempting turquoise waters, theatrical dramatic sunsets, mouthwatering cuisine, a genuinely cool vibe and a pace of life so calm and relaxed, you can do as little or as much as you like.
In other words, you don’t really need any extra reasons to visit this gem of the Caribbean. But we’ve got some anyway so pay attention.
1. AMERINDIAN FOUNTAIN CAVERN AT SHOAL BAY EAST
Magical light, iStock.com/wedekiba
This month (November) sees the opening of a new national heritage site in Anguilla, the Amerindian Fountain Cavern at Shoal Bay East. This incredible underground cave, 50ft beneath Anguilla’s surface, was once a site of pilgrimage and worship. It is an exceptional pre-Columbian archaeological site and is home to one of most complete examples of early indigenous Amerindian art in the world. The art is beautifully illuminated from the natural light pouring in from the entry hole in the cave’s ceiling. Fountain Cavern is the oldest known and longest used ceremonial cave site in the entire Caribbean and now there is a visitor and interpretation centre, showcasing artifacts and providing information on the historic site, to make the most out of any visit.
2. 33 PERFECT POWDER BEACHES
With beaches like these…
Anguilla boasts some of the best beaches in the Caribbean, but don’t just take our word for it – the Travel Channel ranks them as the best all round beaches in the world. We’re talking picture perfect white powdery sand and stunning azure waters. Key spots to catch some rays include Rendezvous Bay, which is perfect for strolling along the blinding white sands and trying out the colourful beach bars dotted along the way; and the secluded Little Bay if picturesque romance is more your thing. With 33 beaches to choose from in just 35 square miles of island you’re bound to find a favourite.
3. FOODIE PARADISE
Some of the best seafood in the Caribbean is to be found on Anguilla, iStock.com/ben-bryant
The culinary scene in Anguilla is something to behold. With a population of less than 15,000 the island still boasts over 100 restaurants – one for every 150 Anguillians – so there’s something to please every taste. And in 2016 even more eateries are opening. The Zemi Beach House resort launching in February 2016 is just one with six brand new restaurants to eat at offering farm-to-table dining, using vegetables and herbs grown in the surrounding garden.
4. SURF THAT KITE!
Flying high, iStock.com/Glennel
Anguilla is now one of the world’s hottest destinations for kite surfing. There are multiple kite surfing schools opening up across the island – one of the newest and best is Anguilla Watersports, offering not only kite surfing but every other aquatic activity you can think of including paddle boarding and scuba diving. Anguilla has a well-deserved reputation as a great place to learn to kite surf with highly qualified instructors and the latest in quality equipment and technology.
5.PUMP UP THE VOLUME
Dance all day and night at Moonsplash, iStock.com/Rawpixel Ltd
The island has a thriving and globally respected music scene with festivals throughout the year, the most notable being the annual reggae festival, Moonsplash every April (2016’s 26th edition of the fest takes place from 21-24 April). It has been described as the Western Hemisphere’s full moon party and could be considered the very opposite of Coachella with it’s uber-relaxed, unpretentious vibe. The festival gets bigger and better each year, attracting an array of international artists so get your tickets and head over to the best beach bar and venue around, Bankie Banx’s Dune Preserve, for some driftwood-set drinks and dancing. The legend that is Bankie Banx himself, Anguilla’s answer to Bob Dylan, might just be performing too.
Where to stay in Anguilla
UltraVilla’s number one Anguilla expert is Ricketts Luxury Properties with the largest and most exquisite selection of villas available in Anguilla. Find out more right here.
The pool and terrace at Ricketts Luxury Properties’ Sandcastle Villa in Limestone Bay
For Sylvia Delvaille Jones, owner of Villas and Apartments Abroad, there’s only one place to be for Thanksgiving, and that’s New York City.
“Thanksgiving is usually celebrated on the last Thursday of November every year and this year that’s November 26. And in New York it’s one of the best times to visit. Not only because of the celebratory spirit and incredible food, but because the Friday after the Thursday is know as Black Friday – the biggest day of sales that happens in the US throughout the year.
“But let’s start with Thanksgiving. If you want to get a true slice of American tradition now’s the time to come. Everything starts hotting up on the Wednesday night when the turkey in every kitchen is being prepared and stuffed ready for slow cooking in the oven on Thursday morning.
Anyone for turkey? iStock.com/shironosov
“While that’s happening you can bet everyone else in NYC will be out on 34th St and 6th Ave to watch the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, one of the absolute highlights of the year. Starting on 77th St and Central Park West, the floats trail down 6th Ave and eventually end up in front of Macy’s flagship store.
“It’s a wonderful sight. Broadway stars from various shows perform short synopses of their musicals, the famous Radio City Rockettes dazzle the crowd with their signature high kick routines, marching bands from around the country show play their uplifting music and you might even spot a celebrity upon a float waving to the crowds.
“By the time you get back home you’ll be hungry as can be, ready to eat to excess. There’s the turkey, the home made pies – pumpkin, apple, pecan, sweet potato, cherry and apricots –and plenty of ice cream for dessert.
“Now comes the real work. Get out and head back to Macy’s and all the other big stores to join the crazy queues before midnight. For when doors open first thing on Friday morning, you’ll want to be first in line to take advantage of the incredible bargains on offer. It really is the perfect New York long weekend.
“So hop on a plane with a couple empty suitcases and a stash of Credit Cards and join us in the queue.”
Shop till you drop… literally! iStock.com/littleny
Stay at: Matthias Loft W30 from Villas and Apartments Abroad is the perfect apartment for a Thanksgiving break in New York. The huge 2,050-square-foot luxury apartment offers space, comfort and style well-located for the parade and shopping. Times Square, Broadway theaters, Herald Square, the High Line and the chic Meatpacking District are all within easy walking distance and highlights of the apartment include high ceilings throughout, a vintage Steinway grand piano and a private terrace faces the Empire State Building.
For more information on Villas and Apartments Abroad click here
Established a decade ago by hospitality professionals Dimitris Giannakopoulos and Anna Deimezi, pioneering firmWhite Key Villas quickly made a name for itself in the Greek luxury villa rental industry. Today, the company is known not just for its incredible properties but also for its all round exceptional quality and service and attention to detail.
“Before we founded White Key Villas both of us had spent many years working in high-end hospitality and consulting for globally-known firms from Arthur Andersen to Ernst & Young. Our expertise, knowledge and understanding of what it takes to deliver truly special experiences coupled with a deep love for Greece and all it has to offer the traveller, led us to found White Key in 2005. With our combined backgrounds – Anna’s in event planning and hotel management and Dimitris’s in real estate and development and financial and strategic management – we knew we made the perfect team.
“And something we understood implicitly was that the highest level of hospitality is all about personal relationships and attention to detail. Which is why White Key Villas is very much about the personal relationships we maintain – with our villa owners and with our villa guests.
“Between us and the whole team at White Key a total of six languages are spoken fluently and we’ve lived and worked in more than eight different countries around the world. Being fully devoted to offering premium villa experiences and being avid travelers ourselves, we understand the importance of making our guests instantly feel at home, while fulfilling all of their expectations through our strong network of collaborating professionals quickly and efficiently.
The team at White Key Villas with Dimitris (first from left) and Anna (next to Dimitris)
“We’ve always been based in Athens. Our office, a crème retro house tucked inside a manicured garden, is our own version of a small villa in the city and is crucial to our ability to do our job well. A goof work space creates good work. It perfectly combines privacy allowing us to work in quiet, but with generous indoor and outdoor common areas where we all get together to exchange ideas and experiences regarding various villas and destinations, as well as to examine new properties or quality services that will enhance our guests’ experience.
“More often than not, you’ll find us discussing food (one of our greatest passions) that we have either prepared or tasted somewhere and often preparing it ourselves for everyone to share. It is this open sharing attitude, hosting and the art of enjoying congenial quality time with our friends that is at the core of White Key and its personnel.
“We are very much a family at White Key, and as our own families have also grown over the past decade, this has given us a very clear and sensitive perspective on what it takes to deliver a child-friendly and family fun vacation. It’s something we pride ourselves on and is why so many of our properties are chosen very much with a family-fun/child-friendly perspective in mind.
“We personally select all our villas, and regularly visit them, to ensure all our vacation experiences are second to none, and this allows us to perfectly match the right property with the right guests, providing the highest level of luxury service.
“We are Greek and love our country. We are always intrigued by the natural beauty of the Greek scenery but understand that the ‘unspoilt’ charm and “relaxed life style” of our country sometimes comes at a cost to the ‘five-star luxury service throughout’; we are here to bridge this gap.
“And we know we are succeeding. Our passion for creating exceptional villa experiences and our dedication to successfully combine outstanding accommodation with impeccable services, has rewarded us with consecutive recognition among Condé Nast Traveler’s Top Villa Rental Specialists for Greece, our membership with UltraVilla – The world’s leading luxury rental experts under one roof and Travel + Leisure’s Best Villa Rental Agencies, as well as appraisal from a series of reputable Media and institutions in the field.
“However, for us, the greatest achievement is our loyal, returning guests who summer after summer reward us with their trust to organize the precious quality time they spend with their family and friends.”
To find out more about White Key Villas and to see some of their properties exclusively on UV click here.
The Maldives is known for it’s luxury villas and resorts – but you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve stayed in one of the beach residences at Amilla Fushi on Baa Atoll from The Small Maldives Island Co.
It’s safe to say we all want the glossy magazine dream of island sunsets, infinity pools and sugar-white beaches. It would be hard to argue that there’s anywhere in the world that fits that dream better than the coral atolls and blue waters of the Maldives.
And it would be hard to argue that the resort and spa of Amilla Fushi on the Baa Atoll, with its beach houses, ocean lagoon houses and tree houses and superb dining options – the world renowned and critically acclaimed chef and restaurateur Luke Mangan is behind the food offerings – is not THE place to stay in the Maldives.
The Amilla Sushi resort from above
The beach villas, in particular, are spectacular. Every last detail, from the external design to sumptuous luxury interiors, has been created to highest standards. You’ve a choice between two-, four-, six- and eight-bedroom residences, all on the white sand beachfronts, overlooking the magical clear waters of the lagoon. The rooms are all suites with lavish bathrooms, soaking tubs, down pillows and comforters while the gourmet kitchen comes fully equipped and the private swimming pools is the stuff dreams are made of.
The beach residence, as seen from the beach, with its gorgeous pool and expansive sundeck
A sumptuously appointed bedroom with oak wood floors and an incredible view of the ocean
The expansive sundeck allows for superb entertaining, there are indoor and outdoor showers, while the open-plan interiors have been designed for ultimate relaxation in mind with exquisite high-end furnishings. The villas also have extra rooms for nannies or private security and playrooms for children. And when, or rather if, you get bored of viewing the incredible sights outside your window and under the sea head inside and lie back on the luxury sofas in front of the 42-inch TV with a Marantz Surround Sound system and watch whatever takes your fancy.
The large open-plan living rooms offer total comfort
Amilla Fushi is fully serviced, with staff to fulfill your every need, and the Javvu Spa provides a selection of the finest massages, beauty treatments and facilities available across the Maldives.
A outdoor relaxation tub at the Jaavu Spa, a short stroll from the beach residence
So when you’re not snorkeling and diving, gazing at turtles, dolphins, manta rays and whale sharks in the shallow coral-rich waters surrounding your island idyll – did we forget to mention Baa Atoll is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve – we know where you’ll be: relaxing in the luxurious heaven that are the Amilla Fushi beach residences from The Small Maldives Island Co.
An aerial view of the Ocean Lagoon houses and the grand beachfront pool at Amilla Fushi
To find out more about The Small Maldives Island Co. click here