Favorite Hotels in Spain!

Shop Window – Alfonso XIII Sevilla

Alfonso XIII Sevilla
Westin Palace Madrid

Top choice is Belmond La Residencia Mallorca


Top Hotels Spain – old favorites and some new surprises.
Every one of our favorite hotels in Spain all displayed outstanding service. All are Virtuoso properties, which means that they operate under a higher standard and are exceptional in decor, and comfort.
I usually request rooms for my clients on a lower floor and near, but not next to the elevator. In Madrid we like the Westin Palace, Mandarin Oriental Ritz, and Villa Magna. In Seville there is only one choice for me, Alfonso XIII. In Granada, some clients like to be near the Alhambra, so we suggest a former monastery, Parador de Granada. We stayed at Palacio des Los Patos in Granada, which gave us a town experience we very much enjoyed. Our top choice in Mallorca is Belmond La Residencia- low key glamour. Doesn’t get any better than that.
Other new surprises that we will be sure to visit, were Sant Francesc in Palma Mallorca, Castel Son Claret in central Mallorca, Jumeirah Port Soller Mallorca and if you have to be right on the water, Hotel Gran Melia in Palma.

Belmond La Residencia- Palma de Mallorca

Belmond La Residencia- Mallorca


Belmond La Residencia, Mallorca. Low key glamour.
On a island full of star hotels, Belmond’s La Residencia is the brightest.
Located in Deia, in the northwest mountainous area of Mallorca, Belmond la Residencia is the ultimate low key luxury destination. With leadership from Ulisses Marrieros, the resort spins like a top. With four restaurant choices, and the village of Deia a walk away, the hotel offers tempting options for all foodies.
Glamorous, classic, Belmond is the ultimate stop on Mallorca.

Sunset La Residence Mallorca

ILTM Africa – Small but Mighty

Cape Point South Africa

ILTM Africa – Small But Mighty

Vendors and Buyers alike agree that ILTM Africa is a hugely successful show. It a small show and because of the size, we as buyers can really get to know our prospective suppliers. The quality of the vendors is top notch. The show is carefully vetted, and we know we are talking to tour operators, camps, lodges, resorts, intra country airlines, helicopters and villa companies that can do a top quality, reliable job. For travel advisors focusing on Africa, it is a must see.

Villa 1 Nettleton Road, In Residence Cape Town South Africa

Staircase Villa 1 Nettleton Road Cape Town- it also has an elevator


Villa 1 is more intime: 4 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, a study, kitchen, dining area, and pool. 9000 square feet. On 4 floors, upstairs bedroom views are as stunning as Villa 5 Nettleton Road.

Master bedroom Corner suite – Villa One , In Residence

Kitchen Villa 1 , In Residence Cape Town

One of the two living rooms, In Residence Villa One Cape Town

Views of the new Silo Hotel, Cape Town

More views of the fab new Silo Hotel, Cape Town

View from the Silo Roof


Rooftop Bar Silo


Rooftop Pool Silo

Gift Shop -Silo Hotel


Reflection of the Suite’s Chandelier

Shambala Zulu Camp South Africa

Shambala Zulu Lodge is owned by the same family that has the Saxon Hotel in Johannesburg.

Lodge Zulu Camp


Shambala is a Tibetan word meaning “peace on earth”. The Camp is built in Zulu Style- undaluting thatched huts. Huts that are very specious and comfortable with tall ceilings, and beautiful bathrooms. Attention to detail, down to crisp linen sheets, is delightful. It is a small place – 9 chalets. It welcomes a lot of heads of states and security is top notch. We can helicopter from Johannesburg or take a two and half hour drive up into the Waterberg Mountains- north of Johannesburg. A Malaria free zone, Shambala las 12,000 acres of private game reserve.
I found the staff to be completely warm and welcoming. My butler, Norman, anticipated every wish. I never had to repeat a request. Always there with a smile. The food was outstanding, by chef Tshepo. Probably the most inventive, beautifully presented and just great tasting meals I have ever experienced on Safari. I will dream about his homemade bread. Teamed with his wife, Elizabeth, the manager, the operation of the camp spins like a top.

Saxon Hotel

Superb attention to detail. Saxon Hotel

Round Hill -Jewel in the Caribbean Crown

Sumptuous gardens in Round Hill

Sumptuous gardens in Round Hill


Created in 1953 by Jamaica-born entrepreneur John Pringle,Round Hill been a favorite of celebrities for years. JFK and Jackie honeymooned in Villa 10. Oscar Hammerstein was the first owner of Villa 12. Alfred Hitchcock, Bing Crosby, and Adele Astaire were regulars—as were Bill and Babe Paley. Beyond that, Noël Coward, who was a frequent visitor, stayed in Villa 3.
Cottage owner, Ralph Lauren did a major renovation on the ocean front rooms.
RH is located on a 100-acre peninsula that was originally a sugar plantation. The cottages are built on the round hills, sloping down to the water . The British claimed Jamaica in 1629, the infuluence of their best traditions still remain.
With a year round temperate climate and nonstop access from most east coast airports, Jamaica is a perfect destination.
Unique to Round Hill, 27 private cottages combined with 37 sumptuous guest rooms offer a wide range of accommodation options. For weddings,the RH cottages, allow families and friends easy access for private celebrations, mingling with hotel rooms for group gatherings. It’s Old World Glamour affords one a delightful Colonial Caribbean sense of place.
At Round Hill the words past and present coexist not merely peacefully, but joyfully.

Walk way along the ocean Round Hill

dsc04552Round Hill Sunset

Hotels We Loved in Morocco

So many divine, exotic, stunning hotels, in Morocco. Marrakech alone has 6 prime properties: Royal Mansour, La Mamounia, Villa des Orangers, Amanjena, Four Seasons Marrakech, and Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. My absolute favorites are Mandarin Oriental Marrakech, then Villa des Orangers, then La Mamounia.

Enormous Pool Villa Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. Absolutely stunning. They even have a heated tub!

Enormous Pool Villa Mandarin Oriental Marrakech. Absolutely stunning. They even have a heated tub!

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Mandarin Oriental Marrakech

Royal Mansour is the ultimate resort in Marrakech.

Royal Mansour is the ultimate resort in Marrakech.


Interior Courtyard at charming Palais Amani in  Fes a Relais & Chateaux property.

Interior Courtyard at charming Palais Amani in Fes -a Relais & Chateaux property.

Fes boasts Riad Fes and Palais Amani, the grand Dame, Palais Jamais is under extensive renovation till end of 2017. Another must stay is near the desert, Dar Ahlam. Incredibly beautiful and the food is out of this world!

Moroccan Desert

Our intrepid group on top of a dune

Our intrepid group on top of a dune

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Our camel guide

Our camel guide

Volubilis -40AD Roman Site in Morocco

The Archeological Site of Volubilis,recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site near Fes. The remaining structures and mosaics tell the tale of a city that once thrived. The ruins that have been spared are beautifully preserved relics of Roman Life.
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It is believed that this spectacular city was constructed around 40 AD and that it was built on an old settlement which dated back to the third century. It became the administrative capital of the area and was known as Mauretania. The extremely fertile lands that surrounded the city produced olive oils and grains that were exported to Rome. The region also produces a good Rose wine

Le Souk Fes

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The markets of Fes are thriving pulsing, filled with energy. Every possible craft, clothing, fruit, flower, meat, vegetable, spice, sweet, one can imagine, is there. Always interesting. image

A Day in Seattle

Spectacular Chihuly Exhibit

Spectacular Chihuly Exhibit

Chihuly  Exhibit

Chihuly Exhibit

Space Needle - a must

Space Needle – a must

Flowers at Pike Place Market

Flowers at Pike Place Market


I started with lunch at Pigalle Place in Pike Place Market. Wonderful French restaurant, highly recommended and worth every bite. Divine. Gwen Hoover at the Four a Seasons Seattle strongly recommended the Chihuly exhibit – a world renowned glass artist and resident of Seattle. I am SO glad I took her suggestion. Anyone that visits Seattle should make it number 1 on their experience list. Other musts are Pike Place Market, the monorail to the Needle- the Chuhuly exhibit is next door and a walk back to the Four Seasons by way of first street. Couldn’t ask for a better day!
Tomorrow I board the Lindblad Sunbird for an excursion to the San Jean Islands. Can’t wait!

Four Seasons Seattle Top Choice for Travelers

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Located on the Seattle Waterfront, one block from Pike a Place Market Four Seasons Seattle is My top choice. Across from the Seattle Museum, in the thick of happening downtown, Four

Pike Place Market Seattle

Pike Place Market Seattle

Seasons is the place! It’s resturant, Goldfinch Tavern was packed. I had the Dungeness Crab with golden beets, and braised Rabbit. Both superb.

London’s Hotels are Spectacular!

image View from the Royal Suite -Corinthia

image Corinthia Flowers

image Corinthia Lobby

image Doormen at the Amazing Corinthia

image Elegant Hall arrangement -fabulous Rosewood Hotel

image Top of the heap- the legendary Goring.

I had the privilege of staying at the Stafford, Milestone, Cliveden, Corinthia, and Goring. All these hotels were outstanding. Particular characteristics will suit different clients.
Can’t wait to book them. London is all and all one of the best city experiences I have had in a long time.

Milestone Hotel- British to the Bone

Swan at Kensington Palace

Swan at Kensington Palace


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Situated across from Kensington Palace, the Milestone is a delightful surprise. British to the hilt the general feeling is warm and cozy. The staff is the most genuine I have encountered- from the doorman to the butler to the very charming GM, Andrew Pike. One feels quite at home at the Milestone.

Grumeti Sunrise and Sunset

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Magnificent Serengeti Game

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It is easy to become caught up in the complexity of Africa: the history, the people, the camps, the tribes. To me, the magic of the continent is the interaction of the animals. Everyday is a new discovery.

Fond Farewell to Serengeti Under Canvas

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It is a basic mobile tented camp designed to follow the migration. Bucket Showers, and minimum services. But the staff made it a first rate experience. The food – out of a really basic kitchen -was some of the best we had. The staff was friendly, engaged, and welcoming. I will remember this camp fondly, and plan to return.

&Beyond Serengeti Under Canvas Camp- following the Migration

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Limited to Tanzania and Kenya, the Great Migration is a movement of millions of Serengeti’s wildebeest, accompanied by smaller numbers of Zebra, grant’s and Thompson gazelles, Eiland, and Impala. They move in an annual pattern constantly following the rains, seeking fresh grazing. This November, the migration was near the &beyond Serengeti Under Canvas Camp. Because they are mobile, the camp can move with the migration.

Tracking the Migration in the Serengeti

Coffee and Amarula- yum!

Coffee and Amarula- yum!

 

&beyond Serengeti Under Canvas Camp

&beyond Serengeti Under Canvas Camp

We have flown to the Serengeti to see a different terrain, and to follow the migration. Serengeti Under Canvas is a true mobile camp- everything is folded up, packed and moved when needed and one would never know it had been there. No fooprint!

Lions in the tree!

Lake Manyara Tree Lion

Lake Manyara Tree Lion

A new experience to watch a lion leap into the tree

A new experience to watch a lion leap into the tree

Lake Manyara Tree House- a most pleasant surprise

href=”https://catherinewhitworth.files.wordpress.com/2015/12/image6.jpeg” rel=”attachment wp-att-3789″>Lake Manyara Tree House
We had the pleasure of staying at Lake Manyara Tree House, an And Beyond property. Rooms were spacious, luxurious, 5 star in every way. The exceptional staff made us feel so welcome. A complete pleasure and I hope to return.

Lake Manyara Tanzania

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Known for it’s lions resting in trees to escape the dreaded Tsetse fly, and the glorius flamingos on the lake, Manyara was a delightful surprise. The national park has some of the most lush jungle vegetation I have ever seen. We visited a Massai village, always a warm experience. image

Lake Manyara Tanzania

Leopard tucked away nicely

Leopard tucked away nicely

Return to Tanzania

I am checking out some new camps in Tanzania. First stop is Lake Manyara about 25minutes flight from Arusha. Lush green jungle. Beautiful landscapes, on the edge of the great rift.

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Lake Manyara Lion

Parting shots : Galapagos

imageGalapagos Marine Iguanaimage
Marine Iguanas can dive to 30 feet.

Alvatross

Alvatross

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Amazing, spectacular, indescribable, the Galapagos never dissapoint.

Viewings of Galapagos from Silver Sea

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Frigatebird flapping for attention

Frigatebird flapping for attention

Passing Scenery - Galapagos

Passing Scenery – Galapagos

Sightings on Rapida Island Galapagos

Galapagos Grey Herron

Galapagos Grey Herron

one of the striking birds we saw on Rapida Island was the Galapagos Grey Heron. We also saw Penguins, and Pelicans that rest in the mangroves. We continue to marvel at the plenthora of exotic birds and animals that are indigenous to the Islands of the Galapagos.

Galapagos Land Iguana

Galapagos Land Iguana

Galapagos Land Iguana


Galapagos Land Iquanas often reach 3 feet in length. North Seymour Island also has Sea Iguanas, but smaller in size.

Magnificent Frigatebird on North Seymour Island

Magnificent Frigatebird trying attract attention

Magnificent Frigatebird trying attract attention


Found on North Seymour Island, Galapagos. Stunning birds, we see thousands of them on this island.

Baby Sea Lion -Darwin Bay, Galapagos

Baby Sea Lion -Darwin Bay, Galapagos

Crab at Darwin Bay

Crab at Darwin Bay

Canyon Ranch – health and wellness focus

Typical salad Canyon Ranch
Surpringly sumptuous food is always on the menu. Canyon Ranch includes all meals and a long list of interesting activities. Portions are smaller than a normal restaurant – typically the meat or fish is 3 Ounces. Alcohol is not offered and I did not miss it.

&Beyond Phinda – South African Private Game Reserve

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View from the deck of &Beyond Phinda Vlei Lodge
Phinda Vlei cottage Phinda Vlei cottage
&Beyond Phinda’s private game reserve measures 56,800 acres. It has 7 different habitats, and 6 vastly different lodges: Vlei, Forest, and Homestead on the upper part of the property and Zuka, Rock and Mountain in the more mountainous, western part of the reserve Phinda is know for it’s abundant wildlife- especially their pride of Lion and coalition of Cheetah.
What I recognized immediately was the heartfelt care of the staff. Katherine, Grateful, Happiness, Madu, Baby Jake, Mr M, France, and Essence embody what makes African service unforgettable. They mean it from their heart.

Phinda Lion

Phinda Lion

Travel is more than a destination in mind…

It is discovering a place in your heart you’ve never been before.
Anon.
Giraffe at Phinda

Four Seasons Westcliff – Johannesburg South Africa

Brand new pool at the Four Seasons Joberg

Brand new pool at the Four Seasons Joberg

Fabulous new rooftop bar.

Fabulous new rooftop bar.

Four Seasons fans will not be disappointed with the newly renovated Four Seasons Johannesburg, formerly the Orient Express Westcliff. 20-30 minutes from OR Tambo international airport, the Four Seasons displayed it’s usual outstanding service. I can attest to that personally. After coming off safari with “safari” hair, I emailed to see if I could get a simple wash and blow dry. The Spa manager, Julanda Marais responded by arranging for a beautician to come to my room! That was with one day’s notice!
Offering a spectacular new spa, five outstanding new restaurants, bars and lounges – the View restaurant opening with 1 Michelin star- the Four Seasons has a fun and lively buzz.

Usual Four Seasons Fab Flowers

Usual Four Seasons Fab Flowers

Tswalu Kalahari -South Africa

Top notch guide Warren and out tracker, Jackson

Top notch guide Warren and our tracker, Jackson

A few of the details that make Tswalu Kalahari so special are the shuttle flights: private jets like the Pilatus PC-12, the lounge for your transfer -Fireblade – is in a class all it’s own with day rooms a massage therapist, and private chef on call. Offering a small number of cottages on property, the resort suits both families and honeymooners. Most especially the best offering is the private vehicle , guide and tracker for each set of guests. If you booked singly or came with 4 friends, you get you own land rover, guide and tracker. That is the height of luxury on safari! They dedicate up to 9 vehicles, guides and trackers for their guests. The reserve is so large, you never seem to see more than one other vehicle when one is out on a game drive. Our guide, Warren, knew that reserve like the back of his hand. He even found a pack of wild dogs in a impossible to find location!! Wild dogs!! What a thrill!!! My first sighting in all my years of safari tracking.
Guides and trackers focus on what a guest wants to see, ie birds or predators- or both!! You see it all!!!

ultimate  luxury - private vehicle, guide and tracker

ultimate luxury – private vehicle, guide and tracker

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Tswalu Kalahari – Motse Lodge

Part of the villa - Motse Lodge , Tswalu

Part of the villa – Motse Lodge , Tswalu

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Tswalu Kalahari – Malaria Free Zone

Lodge image courtesy of Tswalu Kalahari

My first safari experience this trip was to Tswalu Kalahari. The Kalahari is a desert, so I was amazed at the lush greeness of the preserve. The property encompasses 250,000 acres, yes I said 250,000 acres. The largest property I have ever seen, and vistas are stunning. Chosen as a National Geographic Unique safari lodge, Tswalu’s capacity is 30 people. Prime game viewing is black mane lion, meerkats, wild dog, giraffe, sable, oryx, giraffe. Owned by the Oppenheimer family, Tsawlu is dedicated to conservation. They use their own private planes so the experience starts with a bang. They offer the usual car and driver and also horseback. Formerly a Relais & Chateau the food is a cut above.

Unspoiled luxury!!

Unspoiled luxury!!

My transfer to Tswalu- awesome

My transfer to Tswalu- awesome

The Iconic Mount Nelson Hotel- Cape Town

The iconic Mount Nelson Hotel- Cape Town


I stayed in the Mount Nelson and the Cape Grace, both fabulous properties where personal service is top notch.

ILTM Africa – a huge success!

Cape Town

Cape Town

Table Mountain   -Cape Town South Africa

Table Mountain -Cape Town South Africa


I visited Cape Town to attend the International Luxury Travel Market. Meeting with suppliers from the best hotels, safari camps, African resorts, tour companies, ground operators, flight companies from all over Africa gave me the opportunity to establish continued connections and find out about new exciting properties. Some of the highlights for me were Mount Rochelle, recently opened by Richard Branson near Franschoek (the wine lands), Grand Dedale- another beautiful bed & breakfast in the wine lands, Residence in Zanzibar, African Elite properties ( privately owned villas that are a cut above), Residence on the Rocks in the Seycelles. The most exciting new camp is Angama Mara, a new safari lodge being built on the edge of Africa’s Rift Valley and overlooking Kenya’s Maasai Mara. Set to open in a few months, this camp will be a must experience! Can’t wait to go!!
Another exciting opening is Royal Portfolio’s fabulous new hotel in Cape Town : the Silo. A completely new build. The Silo hotel will occupy an old Silo on the waterfront. The lower floors will house the new African Contemporary Art museum. The mock ups of the rooms and public areas are spectacular. All glass, the views will be unforgettable.

Day 4 Hike Atacama Luna Valley – best one!

imageTowering sand dunes and a straight up ascent. A 5K hike with stunning panoramic vistas that seemed to go forever. The best hike of all. Ending with a slide down a 200 foot dune

A gentle start that took a sharp turn upwards.

A gentle start that took a sharp turn upwards.


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On the cliff edge - looking straight down into the Luna Valkey

On the cliff edge – looking straight down into the Luna Valkey

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Day 3 – Afternoon hike – Punta del Inca

imageCactus fields and a flowing river in the desert- novel experience.
The hike is climbing over the boulders beside the river, down a canyon and climbing out to a marvelous panoramic view of the mountain range.
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Day 3 Morning Hike -Kari

We started walking through a field of large stones, then continued trekking on the edge of a 200 foot cliff- scared the life out of me! Then walked down a giant sand dune, crossed a very wide salt flat and walked through the Kari Ravine. The Kari Ravine us a small canyon formed by water erosion and surrounded by enormous salt walls. We walked through a dry river bed covered with salt. There were two rock wall drops that required rock wall climbing skills. I made it, but it was terrifying.
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The edge is on the right side of the image.

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Explorer Excursions

Explorer Atacama resort is a base for exploring some of the most extraordinary landscapes in the world. Enormous mountains and volcanos tower over geysers, multicolored lagoons, and salt flats in the midst of an ancient civilation. Think Canyon Ranch with all outdoor activities – stunning ever changing vistas. Hikes are for beginners to mountain climbing experts. Atacama is loaded with volcanos, canyons, salt flats, dry rivers, waterfalls wet and dry, enormous sand dunes, geysers, hot springs, and ancient petroglyphs. It reminds me a lot of Grand Canyon, and Brice Canyon to name a few. Everywhere one looks, the vistas are spectacular.
Day 1 hike: started with a walk straight up a dry waterfall- gulp! When we reached the top, the view of the volcanos were amazing. We then walked through a gorgeous salt wall canyon. Pictures below:
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