Travel news: island retreats for peace, pampering and privacy
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
Crowing about Antiparos
Cultural communities, experience hubs, creative retreats… A lot of hotels these days bill themselves as more than just hotels. But we’re inclined to think The Rooster, which opened on 1 June on the Cycladic islet of Antiparos, is going to be one that actually fulfils its promise. Owner Athanasia Comninos’s love for Antiparos springs from its unspoilt, anti-Mykonos beauty, and this is what she aims to help preserve with her vision for holiday living. She commissioned Athens-based VOIS Architects to design 17 accommodations – suites, small houses and villas of different sizes and layouts – with the blue of the Aegean to one side and gardens full of native grasses all around. Peace and privacy are The Rooster’s twin mandates: there are internal courtyards and outdoor kitchens, and sea-view terraces with long lap pools. Walls are smoothed in simple plaster, floors lined in sisal; organic cotton dresses the low-slung sofas, divans and beds. A secret garden hosts candlelit suppers with produce sourced from The Rooster’s own veg patches; they’ll prepare “beach baskets” for guests who want to explore further afield (or they’ll deliver a sundowner basket to you at Sifneiko Beach, if you prefer). Wellness is woven into every guest’s stay, with open-air treatments that leverage nature to the fullest, from the pure nut and fruit oils used to the salutary settings carefully chosen. theroosterantiparos.com; from €580 per night
Retreat yourself in the Caribbean
With a similar ethos but a far more elaborate execution – and, if it’s desired, far more hardcore wellbeing programming – is The Aerial BVI. Clutching a rocky promontory at one end of Buck Island, with Bond-villain-lair looks, this all-inclusive private retreat comprises five discrete houses sleeping 30 guests in total. The concept, in broad strokes, is next-generation self-improvement and actualisation. The method is tailor-made… everything: sleep, food, fitness, creative expression – from dance to singing or painting – and, of course, therapies of all stripes, from the emotional to the energetic. A thick roster of specialists (including garden and animal therapy experts) is on hand to facilitate it all, as are nutritionists who’ve planted the extensive organic farm and conscripted local fishermen to provision the menus. One nice proviso in every programme: guests give back first-hand, whether by tagging and observing turtles, cleaning reefs or teaching for a day (or a week) in the local schools. theaerialbvi.com; from £30,500 per night for 30 guests, all inclusive
Once upon a pre-Covid-19 time, a 17-hour Qantas flight had linked London to Perth, thereby opening up a direct-connection world of Western Australian beauty to British travellers, from the electric-hued reefs at Ningaloo to the vineyards and surf breaks of Margaret River. Wadjemup, or Rottnest Island as it is commonly known, lies about 11 miles off the coast from the city. With its vanilla beaches, excellent diving and photo-op-ready population of quokkas, it’s long been a must-tick – all it has lacked is a sleek, indulgent place to stay. Samphire Rottnest has solved that problem; with the backdrop of a nature reserve and views onto the eminently swimmable waters of Thomson Bay, its 80 rooms channel a bit of Byron and a bit of Bali, with poured-concrete floors, wainscoted walls and open stone-tiled showers – they overlook two “lagoon” pools and the hotel’s own beach club. samphirerottnest.com.au. From around £270 per night
And down in Bodrum, a vision for a “modern Aegean village” – actually a collection of 36 contemporary stone villas, sharing 14 private acres shaded by sandalwood, olive and citrus trees – opened last month. Bodrum Loft offers its houses, ranging from two to four bedrooms, as holiday lets but also as longer leases (should your work-from-home surroundings be a bit tired). It’s already been shortlisted for a handful of sustainable architecture awards, but it serves its guests like a five-star resort, with huge pools, various fine-dining and beach-bar options, wellness and fitness, and a smattering of smart little swim jetties along a private cove. Offsite, you can make for Kaplankaya, where the pop-up culinary event ONA will be in residence until the end of October, with not one but two venues – an open-fire seafood grill manned by Nicolau Pla Gomez (ex-El Celler de Can Roca), and a “beach club” inspired by the Mexican artists’ residence Casa Wabi, which will rotate in various marquis-name chefs every week. bodrumloft.com.tr; two-bedroom villa from €2,750 per week. weareona.co