I made a resolution at the beginning of the year that I would cut down on some of my travelling. Did not quite work out that way as just counting up my flights, I have actually travelled more this year than last. Fortunately I still have a real passion for travelling, which is handy, especially with so many crack of dawn starts at Gatwick. You begin to realise how much you are travelling when you are on first name terms with some of the security staff at the airport.
So what were the travel highlights? Actually quite difficult to summarise, as even if I have been to somewhere 100 plus times (Thailand for example) I still find new things, or improvements that fascinate me. However, in no particular order:
Dubrovnik in Croatia
Wonderful, and a great opportunity to rediscover the attractions of the city. I think last time I was there is was part of a country called Yugoslavia which probably means very little to anyone under 35! Fantastic hospitality extended by the Sun Gardens Resort and the opportunity to attend the invitation only evening with Jose Feliciano – wonderful. And the next night’s concert in the old town when he was backed by the local philharmonic orchestra – just magical. Made me feel rather privileged.
Ubud in Bali
I have lost track how many times I have been to Ubud, must be 20 plus at least, but it is still captivating. Instant romance, every time. I can be really critical about some of the new developments taking place in the coastal resorts of Bali, especially Nusa Dua area, but Ubud just captures me every time. Also in this area, I was really impressed with the neighbouring island of Lombok, where some good boutique hotels have emerged, and the beaches are super.
Palma – Mallorca
I think this is one of the most underestimated islands in the Med. Yes it has its tacky bits in Magaluf and Arenal, but that apart the island is just incredibly scenic, and very upscale in places. And Palma is a beautiful city, reminds me so much of miniature Barcelona. Plus some really good boutique hotels in the atmospheric old quarter.
The beach resorts in Turkey
First time for me. Really enjoyed Gocek and The Bodrum Peninsular, and the D-Maris hotel in Dalat was right up there with the very best resorts I have seen in the med – incredible water quality plus imported Egyptian sand. Amazing.
Like Ubud in Bali, Santorini just makes the romantic juices race. The views are just jaw dropping, the hotels stunning – although you have to have legs like a mountain goat to cope with the steps. I was on my own – yes I know, sad – but I just kept thinking that with someone special, it just has to magical. Just makes my tingly thinking about it.
Khao Lak, Thailand
Just like Bali, I can be critical about some of the rapid development in some areas of Thailand, and resorts like Phuket and Samui are unrecognisable from a few years back. Khao Lak is developing, but has probably got better. The beaches are still fantastic, but there is still plenty of space, and the village now has many more dining options, so it has some life, particularly December to April. Whilst on Thailand, just as the main resorts get over developed, some many hide and chic resorts are emerging, a little more challenging to get to, but that is part of the luxury and the essential experience. More on this in the New Year.
I am now off to the Caribbean for the festive season, to spend some quality time with my family out there. So to all you, I take this opportunity to wish you everything good and particularly for the New Year which I hope brings you smiles, hugs, and a reasonable amount of real enjoyment.