While the crisp autumn is gradually veiling over the Northern Hemisphere, many countries south of the Equator are coming to life with blossoms and a lively series of special events and colorful festivals that mark spring. Admire art installations, sip bubbly, follow along in religious precessions and get your groove on over the coming months in these various Southern Hemisphere destinations.

Círio de Nazaré. Photo by Celso Abreu/ Flickr

Cirio de Nazare, Belem, Brazil

On the second Sunday in October Belem explodes in color and music as two million people descend on the beautiful and historic Amazonian city for its annual 15-day Cirio de Nazare festival. Commencing this year on October 8th, it’s the largest religious event in Brazil and includes a lively lineup of parades, cultural activities, and amusement parks to honor the Virgin Mary of Nazareth. The main event involves a statue of Our Lady of Nazareth, which is thought to have performed miracles when it was found by a farmer from Belem, Placido Jose de Souza. As the miracle goes, the statue would “return” on its own accord to its home in Icoraraci. Today the statue makes the journey from the Catedral da Se in Bellem to the basilica in Icoaraci with the help of hundreds of colourful decorated boats, filled with thousands of singing, dancing attendees. Visitors to this unique festival can make the most of their trip by staying on to explore the beauty of the Amazon.

Where to Stay in Brazil.

Fiji Day and Week

October is a special month across the Fijian archipelago as the 10th of the month marks the day when it was officially granted independence from British colonial rule in 1970. This important milestone is celebrated in a week of festivities taking place in most towns and villages around the country, making it a nice time to visit Fiji and discover its diverse cultural traditions. Depending on the destination, you might catch military parades, artistic and musical performances or enthusiastic street parties.

Where to stay in Fiji – Vatuvara Private Islands

After taking in the party, retreat for some tranquil R&R at Vatuvara Private Islands. Located in the Northern Lau Group of the Fiji Islands, this exquisite resort offers conscientious luxury to the discerning traveler.

The boutique resort only has three very secluded seaside villas which have been carefully crafted with natural textures and materials creating spacious and comfortably refined environments. Each villa has its own private beach access and individual infinity edge pool surrounded by lush tropical landscaping and aromatic flowers.

Fiji Week celebrations aside, October to early November is the perfect time to visit Fiji as you can get some great airfare deals and the weather is warm and dry. The Vatuvara Private Island team can assist you with planning a fabulous itinerary to enjoy the Fiji Week festivities as well as other activities to take in Fiji’s unique culture and environment.

Enjoy the best of Fijian culture and spirit at Vatuvara Private Islands at this link.


Festival Kreol, The Seychelles

October also plays host to the annual Festival Kreol in Seychelles, one of the biggest and most significant cultural events in the archipelago. Held this year from October 23-29th and now in its 32nd edition, the week-long event showcases the various aspects of Creole life including food, music, dance, art, language and other traditions manifested in a range of activities which contribute to maintaining and promoting the cultural roots of this Seychellois population. The festival is particularly lively on the main island of Mahé, specifically in the capital city of Victoria, but there are events taking place on beaches and hotels around the island.

Where to Stay in the Seychelles – The Residence on the Rocks

Set on a high ridge in the southern part of Mahé, on the estate of the Banyan Tree Resort, the Residence on the Rocks benefits from being extremely private yet with all the advantages of a five-star hotel.

Constructed in 2008, the stunning four-bedroom villa is surrounded by virgin forest overlooking Intendance Beach, voted one of the best beaches in the world. Decorated in a sophisticated colonial, Creole style and incorporating natural elements of its location, the villa feature antiques and artwork collected by the villa’s owners.

It has a spacious comfortable lounge, including a sitting area and dining room which is next to a well equipped kitchen. Two bedrooms are found in the main building and the other two in two separate guest houses which are accessible via a forest path. The main villa is bordered by gorgeous covered verandas, sunny poolside terraces and a lovely shaded pavilion, all with stunning views of the forest or sea. Guests also have access to all of the facilities of the Banyan Tree Resort.

Enjoy the lively festivities of the Kreol festival on the island as well as some Creole culture right within the comfort of your own private villa at the Residence on the Rocks here.

Photos courtesy of Porlwi Festival

Porlwi by Nature, Mauritius

Over the course of this five-day festival, taking place this year from November 29th to December 3rd in Port Louis, the capital city of Mauritius, visitors can learn about the island via art and nature – this year’s theme for the festival. A favorite of our local experts at Villanovo, this third edition of the festival aims to create a reflection on the environment and our surroundings. Port Louis has a rich botanical history and an incredible array of flora and fauna, the art created for the festival will strive to raise awareness of this and reintegrate green spaces in the heart of the city. This will be done through street art, light installations, music and other displays created specifically for this year’s festival.

Where to Stay in Mauritius – Villa Kavanga

Carry on with the theme of nature by staying at this stunning beach villa, located on the northeastern coast of Mauritius in Roches Noires and set on a gorgeous lagoon and surrounded by exotic garden and lush lawns.

The luxurious 305m2 villa, available through Villanovo, has a backdrop of a formation of black rocks and it faces a wide lagoon with a sandy beach. The stylish villa is divided over two floors. The ground floor has a welcoming open-plan lounge/living room with lovely teak furnishings and beautiful view over the turquoise lagoon. This leads out to the gardens, a covered terrace, a private infinity pool (3 x 2m, depth 1.5m) and the spectacular sandy beach. There is also a high quality furnished dining area and a fully equipped kitchen with a granite kitchen top. The first floor is home to the four spacious bedrooms and a cozy TV room.

Guests can partake in a number of watersports right from the villa, made all the more enjoyable due to the surrounding islets which provide shelter from the waves. In the vicinity are three acclaimed golf courses of the Eastern Coast as well as Grand Baie, the “Northern Riviera” known for its luxury shops, restaurants, clubs and marina. A half an hour drive is the world-renowned Pamplemousses Garden and Port Louis can be reached in less than an hour.

Savor a private paradise in a stunning natural setting with Villanovo here.


Cap Classique & Champagne Festival and HSBC World Rugby Sevens, South Africa 

As spring gradually blends into summer, the Cape Town area has some excellent events recommended by our local experts at La Rive. Firstly, the lovely winelands town of Franschhoek will host its annual Cap Classique and Champagne Festival, the ‘Magic of Bubbles’, which takes place December 2nd-4th at the iconic Huguenot Monument. It’s always a wonderful weekend of amazing weather, beautiful people dressed to impress and, most importantly, South Africa’s finest Méthode Cap Classiques (MCC) bubbly. The following weekend, the event calendar turns to sports for the HSBC Cape Town Sevens. Held on December 9th-10th, it’s regarded as one of the best sporting events in South Africa and is the second of 10 global destinations that will comprise the 2017/18 HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series.


Where to Stay in the Western Cape – La Rive

Enjoy the Franschhoek Cap Classique & Champagne Festival while staying at the beautifully restored six-bedroom La Rive Farmhouse, located in a the town center. The villa combines a lovely mix of Victorian, Cape Dutch and Georgian architecture and furniture, as well as artwork by famous South African artists like Neil Rodger, Gregoire Boonzaier, Edward Wolfe and Dylan Lewis. Each of the villa’s bedrooms has its own personality, character and decoration.

Outside, guests can enjoy the property’s spacious, airy patios and inviting swimming pool, ideal for a quick dip to cool down from Franschhoek’s hot late spring day. There is also a lush “secret” garden with a number of paths leading to various alcoves, benches and lawns, a great place to wander in the shade or have a peaceful moment.

During your stay, you will be extremely well taken care of by the villa’s live-in chef and butler who can also give you advice on how to best take in the sparkling festival.

Over in Cape Town, La Rive also has a divine four-bedroom Penthouse. The luxurious “Home in the Sky,” was redesigned two years ago giving it an Art Deco, stylish, yet cozy feel. The expansive, classy living area includes a classic grand piano and, like at the La Rive Farmhouse, paintings and sculptures from some of South Africa’s best known artists.

The large, comfortable bedrooms are divided around the apartment to provide guests with their own privacy. The south-facing apartment has a sublime infinity pool, surrounded by terraces from which you can admire breathtaking views of Robben Island, the Atlantic Ocean and the Metropolitan Golf Course and the Green Point Urban Park.

The building is found right on the bustling Sea Point promenade with nearby access to Cape Town’s world famous beaches, the V&A Waterfront, and a fabulous range of excellent restaurants are within walking distance. A 24-hour Concierge Service is on hand to welcome all guests and assist with anything you may need during your stay. If you would like tickets to the HSBC Cape Town Sevens, please let the La Rive team know when you book.

Learn more about these gorgeous La Rive luxury rentals at this link.

The phenomenal natural beauty of New Zealand is what attracts many to the country – and with good reason. The sight of its rugged unspoilt coastline, pristine emerald lakes and jagged horizon of snowcapped mountains literally takes your breath away. Discover where to admire some of the country’s most spectacular scenery thanks to these recommendations from our local villa experts at Touch of Spice and MajorDomo.


Marlborough Sounds – Bay of Many Coves

“One of our very favourite things about New Zealand is that we have such a vast range of natural contrasts, yet none of these amazing places is too far so it’s easy to sneak away to enjoy the beauty and drama of our special special scenery,” explains Fiona Stevens, co-founder and director of MajorDomo.

“For example, just at the top of the South Island are the stunning Marlborough Sounds. If you go a little off the beaten track you will truly unwind and immerse yourself in this area with its collection of ancient sunken river valleys filled with the vibrant blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful and rich forested hills rising steeply from the sea around an intricate coastline of sheltered inlets and golden sandy bays.

“There is no shortage of things to do and see including hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding, yachting and boating, fishing, enjoying the antics of the dolphins. And when you are done exploring, sit back and enjoy a glass of wine on your deck overlooking a view like no other.”


Where to Stay in the Bay of Many Coves


Stay in perfect seclusion on the water’s edge deep in the Marlborough Sounds at this beautiful lodge in the Bay of Many Coves by MajorDomo.

Your journey to tranquility and beauty begins on the 30-minute water taxi from the township of Picton, around a two hour drive from Nelson. Guests may choose to also arrive by helipad and as well there are eight private boat moorings available exclusively for guests.

Arriving at the lodge you’ll be immediately engulfed in luxurious relaxation. The lodge has a day spa, two restaurants, a private guest sitting room, hot tub and heated swimming pool. The accommodation suits couples or families with its one, two and three bedroom apartments – all with bay views.

During the day when you’re not enjoying the lodge facilities, escape into the 59 hectares of privately owned bush clad hills or walk in the Queen Charlotte Track or enjoy the water activities on Marlborough Sounds. At the end of the day you will enjoy award-winning cuisine and the finest Marlborough and international wines.

In order to fully switch off and make the most of this gorgeous location, MajorDomo recommends staying at least three nights. Book your stay at the lodge with them here.

Abel Tasman Touch of Spice

Abel Tasman National Park – Nelson


You can discover some New Zealand’s most stunning coastal scenery at the Abel Tasman National Park, recommended by Jacqui Spice, founder and CEO of Touch of Spice. The park is situated between Golden Bay and Tasman Bay at the north end of the South Island, approximately 65 kms northwest of Nelson.

“There is a variety of walking tracks of varying durations which allow you to take in the natural splendor of the park, but the most popular is the Abel Tasman Coastal Track,” reveals Jacqui. “It has plenty of crystal blue swimming spots, golden sand beaches to lunch on and lush native bush to hike through. Along your way, be sure to track down Cleopatra’s natural rock pool with its moss-lined waterslide and the 47m suspension bridge where you can admire the inlet to Falls River.

“While you can go any time of year due to the area’s mild climate, in summer (November to March) you can make the most of longer daylight hours in addition to cooling off in the water or trying out some of the watersports that are available like sea-kayaking which offers another vantage point for admiring the beautiful scenery.”

Where to Stay Near Abel Tasman National Park


Touch of Spice has the ideal luxury rental near the Abel Tasman National Park, the four bedroom Mahana Villa. Immaculately presented, Mahana villa fills the need for a bespoke, micro-luxury, and immersive winery lifestyle experience in New Zealand.

Mahana Villa pairs contemporary works of art with carefully chosen antiques, collectable furniture and subtly luxurious furnishings. The villa is harmonious from wall to wall and room to room, as contemporary spaces are complex and layered with pieces from the past with enormous taste and attention to detail.

The master suite occupies the upstairs of the villa and offers the most extensive and dramatic views of the property. The second suite is connected through an art gallery and library space. An extensive deck extends from one suite to another and the living spaces are full of beauty and wonder. The lower level of the villa features an open lounge, kitchen, and dining areas.

After a long day exploring the Abel Tasman National Park, savor a well-deserved reward of a good glass of wine from the vineyard the villa is located on.

For more information or to book the beautiful Mahana Villa, contact Touch of Spice here.


Ben Lomond Summit – Queenstown


Set on Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by towering mountain peaks, Queenstown features some of New Zealand’s most phenomenal scenery. A wonderful advantage of the small city is that many explorations of the area’s beautiful nature can commence right from your doorstep, like on a hike up to the Ben Lomond Summit, a favorite of Jacqui Spice of Touch of Spice.

“Visitors can reach its height of 1,748m without any technical knowledge, unless of course it’s in snow,” says Jacqui. “If you’re keen to save about an hours’ worth of hiking through the forest, you can take the Skyline Gondola up through the Ben Lomond Forest for about $15.

“From the summit you’ll be struck by the constantly changing views, providing you with an immense sense of accomplishment after your physical efforts. You’ll see Cecil and Walter Peak, the Remarkables, Moke Lake, Lake Wakatipu and Queenstown from spectacular angles.

“Ben Lomond Summit can be hiked at any time of the year, but we would recommend the summer months as this will give you more daylight hours, warmer weather and better views as the sky is generally clearer.

“Be sure to have a good night’s rest the day before since it is a full day, uphill hike. Take plenty of water as there are no fresh water sources along the way as well as a packed lunch and sunscreen, as even on grey days, New Zealand’s thin Ozone layer can allow the sun to burn you.”

Touch of Spice Aspen Grove master bedroom rs WebRes

Where to Stay in Queenstown


Touch of Spice has many wonderful villas and apartments in Queenstown like their three bedroom 50 Aspen. This luxury villa has featured on the cover of a number of exclusive magazines due to its award winning style and facilities.

The moment that you walk inside, the premium furnishings and finishing provide a sense of sophistication. The interiors are sleek and harmonise together with the outdoor space to create a wonderful indoor/outdoor flow. The property comes with every modern luxury you would expect in a premium villa, including a sauna, gym, media den, office, gourmet kitchen and large open plan living space.

It’s located just a seven minute drive from central Queenstown and boasts magnificent lake and mountain views which are uninterrupted from the extensive glass fronted house and can be appreciated from the secluded heated lap pool & jacuzzi – so the views don’t need to stop at Ben Lomond Summit.

To marvel at the amazing Queenstown landscape, reach out to Touch of Spice at this link.


Mount Aspiring National Park


Mount Aspiring National Park was a very large huge playground to MajorDomo Director Fiona Stevens when she was a very little girl and it is such a treat for her to still be able to ‘play’ there as a grown up and introduce this majestical and magical area to their guests.

“Mount Aspiring itself is the magnificent 3,027m centerpiece of a spectacle that sparkles with glaciers, thunders with waterfalls, glistens with braided rivers and beckons with hectares of lush native beech,” illustrates Fiona vividly.

“It has such wide open spaces yet is surrounded by soaring mountains which roll down to to tranquil river flats – it just makes exploring Mount Aspiring National Park’s wilderness an unforgettable experience. Climb, tramp, ski or just take in the spectacle… it’s your choice. On long hot summer days – challenge yourself to a jump in a waterhole filled by a cascading waterfall. You will not be in the water for long!

“Whether you choose a seat in a helicopter or on a jetboat, a stout stick and walking boots or a set of crampons, you’ll find that Mount Aspiring National Park is the sort of place they invented the words ‘immerse and experience’ for.”


Where to Stay near Lake Wanaka


New to the MajorDomo repertoire is the outstanding Dacha villa, offering exceptional 180 degree views of Lake Wanaka and the surrounding mountains. The owners strove to design a home “of peace and tranquility in an ever changing global world.” Their pursuit of creating perfection is reflected in the patience taken over the four years they have spent building and developing this very special retreat, situated in privacy and striking surroundings.

The spacious villa is beautifully decorated and furnished and offers seamless indoor and outdoor flow. Large open fires, floor to ceiling glass with a wall of bi-fold doors which open to the outside deck. Extensive entertaining areas both inside and out & numerous accommodation options make it the perfect ‘stay put’ location for a couple, family group or group of friends travelling together. Guests can also enjoy the swimming pool, spa pool and stunning cover outdoor room which may be fully opened up to socialise alfresco around the fire and barbecue.

This unique property can cater from two to 16 guests. You may choose the impressive master suite only or add on the main house for larger groups. Then there is ‘The Banya’ – an architecturally designed, luxurious stand-alone bedroom suite with its own verandah and alpine outlook.

Add on services such as yoga instructor, in-house chef and personal concierge to really make your Dacha stay the ultimate.

Be one of the first guests to stay at the Dacha and take in these amazing views for yourself by reaching out to MajorDomo here.

Emerald Lakes Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Tongariro Alpine Crossing – Taupo


Very few places around the world evoke another planet like the incredibly unique volcanic landscape of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, located near Lake Taupo in the center of the North Island. You’ll get the chance to experience different terrains as you walk along boardwalks or loose rocks on your way to amazing photo opportunities at the Emerald Lakes. Jacqui Spice of Touch of Spice tells us more:

“From the base of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing, straight away you will figure out that you are visiting a multi-cratered volcano,” describes Jacqui. “Once at the top, after a bit of rock climbing to keep it interesting, you’re presented with the amazing Emerald Lakes that you would only think possible in a sci-fi movie and must be seen with your own eyes to know that they truly exist.

“If you’re after an extra challenge, detour up Mount Ngauruhoe for more vast and spectacular view. Don’t forget to take enough water as there is no guarantee of a fresh water supply and since the weather can have dramatic changes, make sure you take layers that can be easily removed and reapply your sunscreen regularly.”

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Where to Stay Near Taupo


Combine the out-of-this-world landscapes of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing with the uber-luxurious Lodge at Kinloch by Touch of Spice. The modern lodge harmonises perfectly with its magnificent natural setting.

It was designed by Andrew Patterson, perhaps New Zealand’s best internationally known and published architect and its interiors were designed by Virginia Fisher, renowned for her work involving luxury lodges and hotels both in New Zealand and around the world. Dark stained villa exteriors lead from outdoor patios and furnished terraces to interiors of calm and sophistication.

Experience spectacular views of Lake Taupo and the Kinloch Club golf course. The carbon neutral fireplaces, oak floors, sumptuous handmade New Zealand rugs and lavish bathrooms with stand-alone tubs in all ensuites, surround you with a feeling of peace. There are one, two and junior suite bedroom options available starting from $1,920 per night.

Embark on this unbelievably beautiful part of New Zealand via Touch of Spice here.