4 OF THE BEST DREAM ESCAPES

Once-in-a-lifetime holidays in far-flung parts of the globe..

These days, travel’s not so much about the hotel, the amenities, the spec, the size – with a five-star break, we expect luxury as a given – it’s more a case of buying into an experience, where we make new discoveries, push boundaries and fulfill personal ambitions and long-held dreams.

Livingetc has cherry-picked the finest of these epic-type travels. From exploring your spiritual side at the 9th-century temples of Angkor Wat; creating a bottle of wine with your name on it in South America (Château Livingetc has a certain ring to it); surfing on the lesser- known beaches of Australia; and going off-grid in the wilds of Africa.

Once-in-a lifetime holidays used to be associated with major celebrations – honeymoons, retirement, milestone birthdays, but why wait? Seize the moment, we say. Begin ticking off that bucket list you started and follow your heart – who knows where it may lead..

PHUM BAITANG

Siam Rep, Cambodia

The Lowdown Traditional village architecture re-imagined as chic villas.

Best for Exploring the verdant jungles around the temples of Angkor Wat.

Aptly translated as ‘green village’, Phum Baitang is made up of 45 villas set around rice paddies and lush gardens. Designed by Arnaud Zannier, son of French fashion magnate Roger, the motivation for creating this Asian retreat was simple: to have travellers stay for more than just a day or two as they visit the famed complex of Hindu temples, located just a short tuk-tuk ride away in Angkor Wat. And there’s plenty here to keep you in a relaxed, spiritual mood – a ‘body is your temple’ spa; a restaurant that feels like a street market (pick your own ingredients with the help of the chef); and a huge infinity pool.

The villas, dressed in rustic fashion with a dash of Gallic flair, all include a terrace and garden – some have a plunge pool – offering you plenty of time to reflect on life’s mysteries. Like why do we have to go home at all?

THE VINES

Mendoza, Argentina

The Lowdown A laid-back luxe resort in one of the world’s top wine regions.

Best for Wine lovers and outdoor adventurers.


Ever dreamt of making your own wine? Or riding horseback in Patagonia? That’s two things on our must-do list ticked off right there. But there’s more to this stunning 22-villa Uco Valley resort. Blending rustic luxe with state-of-the-art comforts, a fabulous spa and breathtaking views of the Andes, the 500-hectare property is the first of its kind in this fashionable wine region.

Large windowed rooms, decked in earthy browns, stone and wood, allow the great vistas to take centre stage.

Renowned Argentine chef Francis Mallmann serves up regional fare and traditional asado feasts, specialising in flame-grilled local beef (we recommend!) and salt-crusted chicken with rosemary and garlic. Explore the rugged countryside, do yoga, go fly fishing, blend your own Malbec with the pros, stargaze from your private deck – so many creative things to do, plus 300 days of sunshine (they say). This is one trip you’ll never forget.

Book it Villas from approx £479.

HALCYON HOUSE

Cabarita Beach, NSW, Australia

The Lowdown A revamped boutique hotel dripping with vintage glamour.

Best for Beach babies with an eclectic-chic streak.

Land of sun, sea and surf – where better than Australia to learn how to hang ten or paddleboard? Avoid the touristy hot spots and head to this gorgeously refurbed 21- room boutique hotel on Cabarita Beach, tucked away on a stretch of Gold Coast only the locals really know about (about an hour from Brisbane).

It’s decorated with antiques, art and furnishings from all over the globe – architect Virginia Kerridge and interior designer Anna Spiro have definitely put the swing back into this Sixties surfer motel, giving it a sophisticated yet relaxed Palm Springs/Côte d’Azure vibe.

After your sports lesson with a pro, treat yourself to massage (we can vouch for the Surrender Spa Journey), then to Queensland’s chef of the year Ben Devlin’s delicious
tucker – his creative ice creams, such as chocolate with lime, are just heavenly.

Book it Double rooms from approx £354.

SANDIBE OKAVANGO

Botswana

The Lowdown Not just a luxury hotel, but an experience with a capital E.

Best for Getting up close and personal with African wildlife.


This recently renovated camp is located on its own private reserve within the Okavango Delta, a Unesco World Heritage site. But if the word ‘camp’ brings back memories of damp nights spent under canvas, relax – the Sandibe Okavango comprises 12 immaculate suites, each of which stand on stilts above the flood plain.

Wood-burning fires, private plunge pools and air conditioning add a luxe touch to pared-back furnishings, such as cane seating and tree-stump tables.

Discreet butler hatches are a reminder that the service on offer here is top-notch, so if you want your lunch, say chilled avocado soup or a Caesar salad, brought to you poolside, you only have to ask. Excursions can be included to sights as far away as Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, but Africa is going to come and say hello to you too – expect to be woken by birdsong, watch baboons fool around while you breakfast and gaze in amazement as an elephant gives you the eye.


Book it Double rooms from £1,800.

 

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