Happy New Year dear reader; I shall kick off 2018 with some travel-related food for thought… Australia has long been at the top of my bucket list, kept on that list thanks to the mammoth pilgrimage required to reach the complete opposite point on the planet. For many travellers in the Western hemisphere, it’s a trip you might only ever make once (if perhaps at all); for others, a single visit and they decide to undertake the permanent move East. It is an enchanting and diverse land, but there’s too much to cover in a single post, so I’ll break it into two digestible bits; this is Part 1, and recounts a sublime week at Qualia on Hamilton Island, part of the Whitsundays, blessed with turquoise crystal waters, dusted with powdered white sands, and fringed by lush tropical forest. Totally repaired since a dreadful tropical cyclone wrought devastation upon the islands some 7 months earlier, The Whitsundays are Australasia’s answer to The Maldives, but with one unbeatable competitive advantage: the Great Barrier Reef. Click MORE to see what exotic treasures I found there…
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A fortnight ago I escaped to a remote Eco Retreat called Deplar Farm, in an ancient, primordial landscape where people live a very different, and highly compelling life. Chief amongst any list of ‘the most beautiful places to visit on Earth’ will be found Iceland – I now understand why, and I hope this post shares some of that magic. It’s long been a romantic dream of mine to visit this isolated, mystical land with its rumbling geothermal engine, and tundra-punctuated basalt landscape; perhaps more interesting to you, my dear reader, is the recent proclamation in The Lancet that Iceland is ‘the healthiest country in the world’ alongside my homeland Sweden! But don’t be fooled, as it’s also one of the most inhospitable places to live on the planet – temperatures where I visited can plummet to an average of −30°C in January, and howling winds can lash at a brutal 160mph, with several meters of snow dumping daily. This means schools close, infrastructure suffers and cars avoid some roads for risk of flipping and/or just being buried! The land is barren and rugged but that’s bred a nation of robust and resourceful people. I was astonished by the natural beauty and the local food, but more than anything by just how much there is to do here! Click MORE to discover my expedition to Deplar Farm, the ultimate modern luxury retreat that I uncovered in the land of trolls and elves – a truly magical Icelandic saga!
When pondering life in a monastery, images of stoic monks engaged in the pursuit of tireless abstinence come to mind; perhaps you conjure their unfulfilled passions, heavy sacrifices, and somber dutifulness underscoring a lifetime of pious devotion. Well, you shall have to park those preconceptions to one side the moment you hear the Monastero Santa Rosa‘s bell welcome you to the Hotel – a charming and sonorous tradition ringing out from a simpler era. Whilst an ancient spirituality pervades Monastero‘s stone corridors, this is perhaps the most well-invested, immaculately finished gem on Italy’s glistening Amalfi Coast, and was the scene of my latest wellness pilgrimage. Blending the owner’s meticulous eye for detail, a masterpiece organic vegetable garden nourished by lashings of Italian sunshine, a ‘gourmet heavyweight’ chef, a heavenly infinity pool, a sumptuous spa complex, and exquisitely appointed rooms, the hotel nails the very essence of Amalfi magic. I visited in order to road-test their newly launched ‘Health & Hike’ package, and am thrilled to recount the special experiences I encountered over my 3 days. Read MORE to see all the glorious details…
Soaring 1200 feet above a gentle stretch of the sweeping North Pacific ocean lies the ultimate meeting of man and mountain. A steel skeleton is fused with the granite cliffs, clad with wood for organs and glass for skin; the Post Ranch Inn is this eponymous structure, and coincidentally the scene of an epic wellness escape on a recent trip to America. Many believe that it claims the most tranquil, unspoiled and awe-inspiring landscapes in the country, and whilst I’ve got quite a bit of the country still to explore, I can’t disagree yet. The Sunsets trump Santorini; the vista rivals the Amalfi coast, and the service is as attentive and well judged as any world class American institution can be. The whole place has an ecologically sustainable skew, and I had the most magical visit. This post is a little insight into a precious Californian treasure which, quite rightly, has earned the accolade of ‘best hotel in America’ from more sources than I can recall… (more…)
On my recent blog trip to the Maldives (does November still count as recent?!), I had the opportunity to stay at the gorgeous W Retreat & Spa Maldives. Up front, I’ll declare that this Active Escape to the Maldives is nothing like the experience I wrote about HERE. In fact, this is unlike anything I imagined I’d encounter in the Maldives; it blends those core Maldivian ingredients of natural paradise and a stunning coral reef, with the energised atmosphere of ‘island-party-bliss’. There’s a totally W-like ‘cool’ here that’s unique to their brand of hotels (you’ll know what I mean if you’ve ever visited one!), but it’s an ambience that’s subtly woven in amongst the turquoise waters, the white sand, and the coconuts! The result is highest-end comfort, lowest-possible stress, and an awesome fun experience that does wonders to recharge the city-dweller’s depleted batteries! Click MORE to see my complete Active Escape review. (more…)
For well over a decade, I’ve been told that ‘the Maldives will sink in 10 years’. Thankfully it hasn’t happened yet, but the spectre of climate change threatens to submerge the 1200 beautiful islands in this archipelago country, the highest natural elevation of which is a smidgeon over 2m above sea level. In the meantime, to “get in whilst I still had the chance”, I selected a few destinations so that I could experience it for myself. This post is a continuation of my Active Escapes series; it highlights a destination that’s almost indescribably spectacular in The One & Only Reethi Rah, a hyper-luxe resort island that’s larger than the capital city Malé, which offers an almost-inexhaustible suite of activities, which boasts a hyper-rarefied representation of elegant European hospitality, and which to my mind is utterly “exceptional, worth a special journey”! Click MORE to be transported to paradise & read my full piece…
There are those iconic postcard images we’ve all glanced at one time or another, formed of opalescent skies, gentle haze and crystal seas, which are conjured in the mind at the mentioning of ‘paradise’. For me, that place had always been embodied by the Grecian sun-kissed island of Santorini. Crisp white villas topped with royal-blue domes, perched romantically on cliffs, and peering dizzyingly over the azure Aegean Sea hundreds of meters below. The hotel I’ve long lusted after has ever been the hyper-picturesque Katikies in the town of Oia (northern-most Santorini), a snaking labyrinth of immaculate whitewashing, breezy luxury, and care-free bliss. My experience there has revealed a slice of secluded, heavenly perfection, intimately nestled amidst secret white coves, overflowing with charming personality, and totally dedicated to the faultless service of guests. The active traveler is truly spoiled here… (more…)
As part of my ‘Active Escapes’ series, I recently stayed at a destination so heavenly that it completely inspired and enthused me to author this full review. The historic and beautiful Chateau de la Chèvre D’Or, nestled amidst the medieval village of Eze, on France’s exquisite Cote D’Azur, enjoys what must be the most magical, celestial view of the French Riviera, and hosts an armory of active ventures for the healthiest of holiday-goers to enjoy. The hotel itself, Relais & Chateaux affiliated, is relaxed, quirky, charming, classic and respectfully staffed by masterful hoteliers. It was perfect for my 3-day European escape, from which I returned energised, focused and relaxed. Click MORE to see my extensive review of the epic grounds, broad facilities, the sumptuous food and impeccable service 🙂
As regular readers may have noticed, I love to feature my active escapes on the blog; the series of posts grew as a reaction to an observation that clients, friends and family seem to want to stay in shape whilst on holiday, and even to use that very same holiday as a chance to become a little more healthy. The ‘active escape’ is a proper, growing trend in today’s health-aware world, and whilst I’m not talking about abstinent, monk-like Zen retreats, discerning travellers are after indulgence, with the optional facility to stay fit. With that in mind, I’m super happy to have teamed up with Travelex for a collaboration highlighting my ‘top 5 active-escapes wishlist’ for 2015. Click MORE to get a feel for the sorts of escapes I think will prove a hit from both a culture AND wellness perspective… (more…)
One of the parts I’ve most enjoyed sharing on FitnessOnToast are the active escapes. Often though, to see the places in my posts requires a cheeky flight; but for my British readers today, good news! Just 30 minutes south-west of London, lies the gorgeous country estate of Coworth Park – the scene of an exquisite healthy weekend escape. I’ve already written about ‘The Benefits of Horse Riding‘ in my previous post, so you’ve seen a glimpse of the healthy activities on offer here, but there’s so much more to do! This post collects up some of my favourite moments from the escape, and gives a little peak into the Coworth world! (more…)