It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The time where I set out plans which rarely happen. If it’s not my own indecision getting in the way it’s a pandemic. This year has something even more intriguing: there are few, exciting, new hotel openings. Luckily 2020s “Best Hotel Openings” lists were filled with a plethora of still unopened hotels, so I’m mostly going old school and focusing on the heydays of the late 2019s.
I’ve got to do it. I cannot keep avoiding it. It’s not a QAnon conference, it’s a tropical environment with some luxury hotels. How bad can it be? I’m going to regret my “owner based brands are the best” philosophy and have to try Necker, don’t I?
The difficult logistics of getting around with a one-year-old have to be taken into consideration, unless someone wants to lend me their jet? I’ll even cover the tip for the valet. No? Ok, so we’ll likely stick to two resorts, with a maximum of three, likely Amanera and Parrot Cay.
There’s a half-life on facts – apparently, 25% become redundant after 10 years. That fact may have already reached its half-life, so I cannot be sure of its accuracy. As a result, we are going to revisit some London hotels, try a few new ones and carry on the elusive search for a great English countryside property. I have stayed in almost every luxury hotel in London, but a lot were over five years ago, a period where TikTok was a threat you gave someone to hurry up. This time we’ll focus on suites, so they reflect better on the readership of this blog…and give my daughter, her screams and my ears clear separation.
Old Europe may still have some new tricks up her sleeve. There’s been a lot of exciting openings in just the last few months, including Paris offering a new home for Cheval Blanc and Bulgari. Madrid has gone from a luxury wasteland to the openings of Mandarin Oriental, Rosewood and Four Seasons, although it’s the latter that seems to be getting the pundits and piques our interest. Also, does a Mandarin stop somewhere being a wasteland? That’s a riddle and a half. I still need to visit Iniala Malta and make my way to Italy to try Forestis, which makes me realise I need to go back to Aman Venice, as it’s been far too long and I need to know if they still allow you to sniff Clooney’s wedding sheets.
Europe’s most exciting opening of the year is Maybourne Riviera and having spent my life’s savings in their London hotels, I’d hope they’re feeling mighty generous for the upgrades.
For me, Aman New York is the hotel opening of the year. It took them a few years, but they absolutely nailed the city concept with Tokyo and if they can do the same in New York then soon enough they’ll crack Miami and eventually we’ll all be chilling out at Aman Blackpool, Aman Hull and Aman Pyongyang.
In another case of “when in Rome/New York” we may as well give Amangiri another go whilst we’re here, potentially trying their new Camp Sarika.
You will never stop me from going on safari. Ok, except in 2020, but otherwise nothing will stop me. Learning that exclusive use lodges are awesome, I am prepared to stick to this winning formula. Cheetah Plains isn’t quite exclusive use, as there are three villas, but each one is completely enclosed and self-sustained, so you never need to see anyone else. That’s close enough. Kubili House is definitively exclusive and having already had lunch there, I can say it’s beautiful yet not on the same level as Arijiju, but what really is?
Then depending on whether I’m travelling solo or the family are joining, I’ll likely head to Mombo. It’s another I’ve been to before but suffered from going off-peak and observing nothing. It was like starring at the stars during the middle of the day.
Maybe I’ve grown into confirmation bias, but all I hear are terrible reports of Kisawa, yet I receive regular emails asking about it. Am I prepared to go? Yes, no, maybe. I don’t know what offends me more: their pricing, or that I haven’t been. Stay tuned to see who wins that argument.
My memory is so short that after vowing never to return in December, a week of non-stop English weather made me consider going back again. It’s very tempting to just head back to Velaa, but at the minimum, we want to revisit Cheval Blanc and cross our fingers that there is at least one new hotel opening worth visiting. Patina and Ritz-Carlton just aren’t doing it for me.
I’d rather head to Four Seasons Orlando, but our daughter won’t be quite two at the time, so the entire experience would be wasted on her and she’d much rather eat sand on a beach in the Indian Ocean instead.
I’m returning to a lot of familiar countries but will be trying a lot of new hotels. That’s all, of course, assuming I’m not gonna be under house arrest in a few weeks time when covid infection rates hit 400% of the population and everyone gets it every 6 hours.
I think it gives the right blend of my thinking I’ll enjoy myself and you enjoying me not actually enjoying myself.
Where are you going and where would you like me to review?
Hey there, looking forward to reading your 2022 reviews. I went to Necker last year so would be interested to read your thoughts. Off to Carlisle Bay next week. Looking at the Brando for end of the year. Have you been?
Yep, we went a few years ago https://thegoodthebadandtheluxurious.com/?s=brando
I don’t see Asia.. perhaps time to return to Thailand. A lot happening in Bangkok!
I know, right. Not much happening in the way of resorts out your way, although Banwan sometimes makes me think it might be worth a trip.
Looking forward to a Camp Sarika review.
Fingers crossed, in September I will finally get to Sao Tome and Principe staying at the HBD properties. And possibly even an adventurous safari through Gabon or Mozambique in July.
Gabon will be different! Can you see the gorillas there?
Parrot Cay is quite dated but has a wonderful beach. You should try Amanyara (we are big fans) and maybe Jumby Bay. Amangiri is a great property, but the food quality is lacking.
Funny, I’ve been told Amanyara is dated. My issue with Amanyara is that I feel I need to get a $11k/n villa in order to get a decent room.
I stayed in Amangiri a number of years ago and the food wasn’t great back then. It’s nice to know somethings never change.
If you go to the Maldives, make sure and do 3-5 days at Kudadoo. I have been to many of the five star resorts you mention and the overall experience at Kudadoo is way better for numerous reasons. You will not be disappointed. Plus, I review luxury resort residential properties for a living and I have been to the very best around the world with a specific focus in the Caribbean and Mexico.
Looking forward to the reviews!
Getting deja vu here, Jim
Sounds like your 2022 is going to feel like a visit to the Royal family, checking out if the old dogs still have some tricks up their sleeve and if the new members are up for the job of constantly being watched and criticized.
Either way, as an equal safari/Southern Africa enthusiast I was wondering why Tswalu and Miavana aren’t on your list? True, none of these two are exclusive use lodges, yet both are privately owned. Tswalu gets a visit from its owners on an almost monthly basis, and if you want to have some unique and rare safari encounters, this is the place to be!
Miavana on the other hand might be the perfect alternative in case Kisawa isn’t living up to your expectations (however high or low they may be).
Thanks, Kristof. I’ve been to Miavana before and don’t feel it’s worth another visit, just yet. I had Tswaul on the list, but I looked at it again a few months ago and just wasn’t getting excited about it. The safari experiences should mean I want to go, but I felt I’m not going to like the lodge.
Shame, as I think Tarkuni (their exclusive use lodge) might have been perfect for you, the little one and even your dad if he still feels like joining after your adventures in Kenya 🙂 Their newly added Klein Jan restaurant isn’t to be ignored either of course.
But as you say, if it doesn’t get you excited then the right mindset isn’t there either and it would be a bad start to have an unbiased opinion of the overall experience.
My apologies for not checking the fact if you already stayed at Miavana, but it does give me the perfect reading material for today.
Yes they have western lowland gorillas, mandrills, forest elephants, bongos, sitatunga, leopards, humpback whales, turtles, hippos …
Gabon is a wildlife haven, but it might not be bloody enough for your liking – little predator action.
I thought u were doing white desert in 2022??
I think it’s time you visit Kokomo again?
Parrot cay- yes; the renovated beach villa
What about Nihi Sumba? It’s time