Our choice picks of the best luxury holiday destinations for 2018
Best Private Island
Why: Stunning natural beauty, exclusivity, top choice for the rich and famous
The beauty of the Seychelles' North Island is known the world over and was the choice of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Will and Kate, when they chose it for their honeymoon location five years ago. An active holidaying paradise, the hilly tropical landscape makes it perfect for mountain biking, while the four beaches (East, West, Dive and Honeymoon Cove) are idyllic for scuba diving, fishing and kayaking.
The island was once a plantation for a number of crops but was left to be overrun by non-native species after markets collapsed. The island's current owners, who purchased it in 1997, have endeavoured to restore the island to its lush and natural state by ridding it of the species brought in from settler's past and reintroducing once thriving plants and animals to its ecosystem. Now a healthy and protected giant turtle colony roams freely, and rare breeds of birds have returned to nest and breed. The study and preservation of the ecological system on North Island make for an intriguing learning experience as well as a greater appreciation for your surroundings.
The embodiment of luxury, North Island Seychelles is a world renowned resort combining exclusivity (arriving by helicopter only) with bespoke activity and dining experiences to create an extravagant experience of a lifetime. There are no set menus or mealtimes as meals are prepared for your desires by an executive chef using fresh ingredients from the island itself. Self-indulgence awaits in your private villa including a pool, wellness and spa facilities, and day trip excursions allow you to explore the surrounding islands and immerse yourself in the diverse culture of the Seychelles.
Best City Hotels
Why: Epitome of 5 star luxury, closed to the public to enhance exclusivity, Close to a plethora of activity.
The ultimate in a 5-star hotel experience. This Edwardian Mansion, that was once owned by shipping magnate John Ellerman, offers some of the most stunning views of the city and out to the sea. A grand example of opulence, the Ellerman House has only 11 rooms: two suites and two three-bedroom villas. No two rooms are alike and the house is not open to the public allowing for full exclusivity of its guests. A spa, fitness centre, multiple lounges and a pool with nearby access to golf courses, mountain biking, horse riding, sailing, diving and kayaking facilities mean you'll never be at loss of something to do. It's a 10 minute drive to Table Mountain and 45 minutes to Cape Town's numerous Winelands, while various day trips just a stone's throw away mean you needn't roam far before retiring to bed in luxury every evening.
Best Winelands Property
Delaire Graff Lodge & Spa - Stellenbosch - South Africa
Why: Breathtaking views over Stellenbosch Valley, wine, art and hospitality destination.
Nestled between magnificent mountains, the Delaire Graff Lodge and Spa is perched overlooking the world renowned vineyards of Stellenbosch. Spend your days wandering the vineyards, sampling the many vintages in the state of the art winery, or finding solace in the care of expert therapists in the revitalising spa. Lodges are works of art and decorated with the utmost luxury in mind with oversized beds, marbled bathrooms and spacious and airy living areas. Floor to ceiling windows illuminate your private heated plunge pool. Activities located nearby include golfing, hiking, horseback riding, hot air ballooning, and excursions to Cheetah Outreach, Drakenstein Lion Park and the Bonheur Crocodile Farm.
Best Luxury Safari Lodge
Lion Sands Ivory Lodge - South Africa
Why: Private Viewing Decks, Treehouse Lodges, Elephants, zebras and crocodiles
Simple, understated elegance surrounded by the natural beauty of nature can be found at the Lion Sands Ivory Lodge, located in the Sabi Sands Game Reserve, near the border of the Kruger National Park. Large windows give 360 degree views of the reserve and animals that call it home. Located beside the Sabie River, you'll be sure to see your new neighbours including elephants, zebras, Nile crocodiles. The various lodging choices, including treehouse lodges in the canopies of 100 year old trees, give you a special experience found only at the Lion Sands Ivory Lodge.
Vumbura Plains Camp - Okavango Delta - Botswana
Why: Private concession, a variety of habitats and diverse wildlife to discover
The Vumbura Plains camp, located in the northernmost area of the Okavango Delta, provides all the luxury amenities desired with rooms raised off the ground on wooden platforms and include ensuites, viewing decks and outdoor showers - a standard feature of the camp. Each room also includes a private plunge pool and "sala" - a private viewing deck to lay out under the stars or enjoy sweeping views of the plains of the Okavango Delta.
Due to it's location, the Vumbura Plains Camp encompasses both aquatic and plains wildlife providing you the opportunity to experience a great variety of animals such as lions, leopards, elephants, cheetahs, giraffes, buffalos and both savannah and wetland dwelling antelope. Both day and night safari options are available to increase your chances of seeing these animals in their natural habitats. Take advantage of the additional guided walks and pontoon adventures to truly absorb the beauty of the area and its surroundings.
Best Colonial Safari Camp
Singita Sasakwa Lodge - Tanzania - Grumeti Reserves
Why: Balloon Safaris, Big Game Drives
The Singita Sasakwa Lodge is found in northern Tanzania and borders the Serengeti National Park. Game tours are the main activity at the lodge, with the addition of horse riding and hot air balloon safaris also on offer. The English meets Africa interior style of the Edwardian cottages stand out against the plains and offer a welcoming, air conditioned escape from the heat. While each cottage has its own private infinity pool, the main lodge also offers a pool, spa, tennis courts, gym and more. A guided walking tour is a must as the trained guides are quick to spot rare species of wildlife you'd be sure to miss on your own. Game drives run regularly, and, depending on the time of year, you may have the chance to witness part of the Great Wildebeest Migration, as approximately 1.5million wildebeests move across the Serengeti and Masai Mara of Kenya in search of grass and water. An annual event, it's an absolute delight to see such examples of animals in their natural habitat and natural habits.
Best Desert Lodge
Serra Cafema - Namibia - Kaokoland
Why: Remote intimate location, quad bike safaris
Hidden in the Hartmann Valley, Serra Cafema is one of the most remote desert accommodations in southern Africa. It's location, set along the rushing Kunene River, stands out from its desert surroundings and peacefully lulls you to sleep every evening as your fully furnished Meru style tents are located above on elevated decks set under the shade of the Albida trees. Each tent includes an ensuite, mosquito nets and ceiling fans to stay cool, though the proximity to the Atlantic Ocean allows cool winds to blow in all year round keeping the heat manageable.
Quad bike tours allow you to explore untouched regions and glide over sand dunes with ease. These safaris may uncover herds of springbok, ostrich and possibly even leopards. Take a boat trip along the Kunene and spot crocodiles basking on the river banks. Local Himba tribes visit the retreat regularly and offer visitors the chance to learn more about their culture and lives as one of the last true nomadic peoples in the world.