From the Maldives to Malaysia, we think it's time to start racking up some airmiles again.
While we love the UAE and all it has to offer, there’s no denying we crave a holiday (or three) every now and again, and in that regard, 2020 has not been kind. Luckily as we get ready to wave goodbye to the year and its challenges, travel looks to be back on the agenda in the not-so-distant future, and we’re already daydreaming about all the fabulous places we can’t wait to visit.
Granted, as countries reopen, travel is going to look a lot different, but the new face of travel is also going to have a silver lining in the form of less crowds and more responsible journeys.
Some just a few hours flight away, others a little further afield, all promise spectacular scenery, world-class food and luxury resorts that will have you postponing your checkout day for as long as possible. They’re all doing it with health and safety protocols in place too, so that’s every base covered.
A firm favourite of UAE-dwellers, the Maldives is one of the few countries that opened its borders to us for travel throughout the tail end of 2020. The cream of the crop when it comes to secluded beach locations, expect private resorts, milky-white sands and world-class diving.
One of the islands’ newest resorts is Emerald Maldives Resort & Spa is a proud member of The Leading Hotels of the World, and was built in 2019 to blend in perfect harmony with the surrounding environment. Crafted from sustainable products such as bamboo and langi langi leaves instead of timber and palm, as well as natural stone, it is surrounded by 1.5 km of soft white sand on a lush private 20 hectares island and features 120 villas, 60 of which are located on the island and 60 directly on the sea.
A short flight from Dubai, Zanzibar is synonymous with coral beaches and lagoon-like seas dotted with dhows, as described by returning honeymooners. Whether you choose to spend your days facedown on the sand, exploring the markets of Stone Town or learning some history at Prison Island, this Indian Ocean archipelago, quite frankly, is your oyster.
Offering the perfect combination of spaciousness and privacy when it comes to travel, The Residence Zanzibar’s 66 luxuriously appointed villas offer all feature a private pool and soothing garden, beach or ocean views, making them the perfect spot for relaxation.
If you’re lucky, you might spot the Zanzibar Red Colobus Monkey hanging out in the surrounding lush trees. For an unforgettable experience, head out on a traditional dhow sailing boat for a day of island hopping and snorkelling or cruise to Menai Bay Conservation Area for a chance to swim up close with dolphins.
A city that steeped in history, Munich is known one of the most stimulating creative and cultural hubs in Europe. Offering something for everyone, there are museums and parks to explore by day, and fine-dining restaurants to indulge in come nightfall. Kunstarel, the city’s leading arts destination, is one of Munich’s most popular spots, so be sure to arrive early to avoid the crowds.
Mandarin Oriental reopened late last year in time for its 20th anniversary after the most extensive renovation in the hotel’s history. Introducing newly designed guest rooms by Hamburg based design studio cm-Design along with furniture combined with historic heritage, suites, it is one of the leading luxury hotels in Germany.
What’s more, it also offers butler service on request for guests booking a stay at one of the suites, and German Marhaba service where guests enjoy a special fast lane pick up service directly from the aeroplane including transportation to the hotel with Arabic speaking staff.
Arguably the most picture-perfect of the Greek islands, the stunning island of Santorini is where multi-coloured cliffs soar out of a sea-drowned caldera, topped by drifts of whitewashed buildings. Think lazy days by the pool, romantic sunsets and volcanic-sand beaches, visit from May-June to avoid the high-summer crowds.
Perched high in the peaceful village of Imerovigli with sweeping 360° views of the caldera and regal Aegean Sea, Omma Santorini is a traveller’s paradise. Be sure to dine at its brand-new Anamma restaurant, where Executive Chef Dimitris Stamoudis sprinkles a modern twist on traditional dishes to create innovative courses bursting with bold flavours and seductive aromas.
Both magical and mystical, and a place where fairytales comes true, Finnish Lapland is a magical winter wonderland. A place to explore the Arctic Circle at its unspoiled best, it is also one of the best places to spot the Northern Lights and many travellers flock to this beautiful area to tick the experience of seeing this phenomenon off their bucket list.
Now imagine experiencing all that among 300+ hectares of private wilderness, reindeer and wildlife, with only custom-built snowmobiles to help you manoeuvre your way around. That’s what you’ll get at Octola – a 10-suite log cabin boasting isolation and seclusion, but with every luxury provided. What’s more, you’ll have a private butler and a wilderness guide on hand, as well as the freshest food cooked to your liking.
From its world-class wildlife to chic island escapes, Malaysia may not jump to mind when thinking of luxury destinations, but it should do. Think paper-white beaches that gild the coast and the island’s core carpeted in pea-green jungle, this is a rustic hideaway with a difference.
Anantara’s first luxury hotel in the country, the Anantara Desaru Coast Resort & Villas is located along a pristine 17-kilometre beachfront facing the South China Sea, and boasts 90 tastefully decorated en suite deluxe rooms and thirteen stand-alone double storey luxurious one- and two-bedroom pool villas located around a lagoon.
Two swimming pools offer refreshing freshwater alternatives to the azure ocean, while a signature Anantara Spa and well-appointed health and fitness centre offer wellness fanatics and adrenaline junkies a welcome respite to relax or reinvigorate. Heaven at its finest.
Featured image credit: Pixabay