Mr & Mrs Smith latest report Modern Love details a shift from the outdated concept of a romantic trip with champagne, chocolate, rose petals and couples’ massages and onto a rousing notion of romantic travel – becoming more innovative, more exciting and more sensual with new experiences, surprise and plenty of wonder.
- In this new era of dismantled norms, changing perceptions, political melodrama and planetary peri, the senior team at Mr & Mrs Smith have worked with future strategic consultancy firm The Future Laboratory to determine the changing norms of romantic travel. From destination spas, back-to-nature rooms and psychoactive pleasure pursuits to peakends, self-romantic getaways and workcations, the tenets of the romantic trip will have definitively changed and expanded within the next decade: The hospitality industry will embrace a younger generation of couples, singles and polycules who seek meaning, pleasure and purpose through their travels.
- Hotels will become more conscious, with adaptable luxury personalised to their own unique concepts of romance to introduce moments of wonder, connection and intimacy into traveller’s lives.
- Although some guests will still indulge in the classic notions of romantic travel with candle-lit dinners and jacuzzis, the majority of travellers will look to reinforce their bonds by strengthening the communities in the neighbourhoods they visit to leave a positive impact on the destinations in which they go to.
- Single travellers will be open to serendipitous situationships when they travel. And as the working world becomes inherently more flexible, mid- weekers, peakends and workcations will become the go-to model for couples’ rest and recuperation.
- Within a decade, there will be plenty of new ways to indulge and rekindle romantic partnerships. Brands will embrace the cultural and social shifts that will represent this era of new romanticism, transforming romantic travel from something standard to a passionate, rekindling exploration from which, once experienced, there will be no going back.
Nowadays, there is an increasing demand for authentic and immersive experiences, and the search for spiritual travel is also growing. This concept allows guests to focus on their inner exploration to examine themselves, and self-reflect.
We’ve outlined a list of our favourite itineraries that will allow active travellers to embark on an eye-opening off-the-beaten-track journey of self-discovery this year.
The Kumano Kodō is a series of ancient pilgrimage routes that crisscross the Kii Hantō, the largest peninsula of Japan. The routes are registered as UNESCO World Heritage and played an integral part of the pilgrimage process, as pilgrims undertook rigorous religious rites of worship and purification. Walking the sacred Kumano Kodo is a fantastic way to experience the unique cultural landscape of Kumano’s spiritual countryside, offering an immersion into more than a thousand years of Buddhist history.
Committed to maintaining excellence in the craft of hospitality, Capella Hotels & Resorts have launched Capella Curates. The series has been carefully cultivated by the expert team in each locale, to offer exclusive adventures, meeting interesting characters, experiencing whimsical traditions, and the opportunity to hone unexplored skills.
Capella Ubud’s Confined to Quarters is a life-changing Capella Curates experience, whereby couples can escape the humdrum of daily life with 24-hours spent in total solitude within their uniquely styled tent. The day begins with a traditional Balinese blessing ritual and yoga session, enabling guests to reconnect with one another and refocus. After a restful night’s sleep, made possible by the day spent in solitude, guests can take part in a sunrise purification ritual at the property’s Wos River Temple – a profoundly spiritual process designed to leave a lasting feeling of calm and positivity.
Scott Dunn’s itineraries to Bhutan capture the pure energy and spirituality of one of the last true unspoilt countries on earth. As a Himalayan Kingdom of stunning natural beauty, travellers will discover the awe-inspiring sights – from lush-green rice paddies running alongside fast-flowing glacial rivers to the endless forested-mountains and the snow-capped peaks beyond.
Bhutan carefully manages the numbers of tourists to the country in order to preserve its unique culture and traditions, and so a trip to Bhutan ensures a remarkable vacation with a first-hand, intimate look into the secrets of this extraordinary country. A Week in Bhutan introduces the spiritual and cultural highlights, from experiencing the fascinating capital of Thimphu, home to Bhutan’s national animal in the Takin Preserve, to trekking towards Taktsang Goemba or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery in Paro. Tailored to travellers who wish to be accompanied, all itineraries in Bhutan are escorted by a driver and specialist guide.
Located on 45,000-acres of untouched wilderness in South Africa’s Sabi Sand Reserve, Singita Castleton Lodge, the former home of Singita’s Founder Luke Bailes’ grandfather is steeped in history. The lodge, accommodating a maximum of 12 guests, has re-opened to showcase a recent design refresh to ensure guests enjoy the utmost exclusivity and comfort in the African bush.
With new wellness experiences on offer, the private villa boasts a brand-new yoga pavilion alongside its state-of-the-art and fully equipped fitness centre – which is accessed via a covered walkway through Castleton’s tranquil gardens. Guests can now also choose between double and single massage treatment rooms. As one of 2020’s wellness trends, Castleton Lodge ensures guests to reconnect with the great outdoors as well as each other, and the expansive deck provides uninterrupted views of the surrounding landscape. It also offers magical fireside dinners under a canopy of stars –the perfect backdrop for a taste of traditional local dishes, cooked by the on-site private chef.
The property’s impressive wine cellar has been expanded and is now conveniently located adjacent to the dining room and lounge. As a highly curated collection of South African finest vintages, it’s the ideal setting for pre-dinner tastings under the guidance of Singita’s knowledgeable sommeliers.
Many antiques and furnishings of the original homestead have been refashioned, adding authenticity to the living areas that extend outdoors onto deep, covered verandas overlooking a busy waterhole nearby, where game regularly gather to drink.
As part of Singita’s Private Villa Collection, guests staying at Castleton Lodge will enjoy the comforts of a private game-viewing vehicle as well as a full staff complement, which includes a Field Guide, private chef and host. Game drives, mealtimes and activities are organised daily according to the preference of each guests – allowing them to have complete freedom to choose the rhythm of their days. The perfect location for a bush escape for families and groups of friends, Castleton offers numerous opportunities for shared activities – from boules to tennis, cricket and a private pool, combining the best elements of an authentic safari with the rustic charm of a farmhouse.
Perth is a city with a plethora of beautiful restaurants, bustling cafes and vibrant bars. The V&VPR girls have selected their favourite spots of where to eat and drink:
Famous for its fresh local seafood, invigorating tipples and gorgeous sunset views across the sea, Bathers Beach House holds the key to the perfect summer evening in Western Australia. Diners can order the seafood board to share, featuring an assortment of the day’s catch including flaky grilled fish, tangy squid, buttery prawns and chargrilled octopus. The menu also boasts a fine selection of draught beers and ciders, as well as a curated selection of sundowners to sip on.
Helmed by Chef Matthew Sartori, Wildflower is perched on the top of COMO The Treasury and has gained international acclaim for being one of Western Australia’s top restaurants. Diners will be treated to a curated menu of dishes that evolve according to the seasons. Many of the offerings at Wildflower are made using local produce including wildflower honey, eucalyptus, pepperberries and a myriad of native herbs.
Down by Watermans Bay lies The Little Bay café, a charming dining establishment with lush foliage, minimalistic coastal interiors and a phenomenal ocean view. Guests can expect impeccable service, and a contemporary breakfast and lunch menu that also caters for gluten/dairy-free, vegan and vegetarian diets. Highlights include the Turkish Eggs with dill, Greek yoghurt, and poached eggs served with toasted ciabatta, and the Beef Ragu Pappardelle with beef brisket, radicchio, hazelnut, saltbush and parmesan. Dishes can be paired with the café’s curated wine and cocktail list.
Having started 25 years ago, family owned Vans has become something of an institution in Perth and a hotspot for locals and tourists alike. Renowned for curating an ever-changing menu that features the freshest seasonal and local produce, Vans reinvents bistro classics with a twist for an impressive array of contemporary fusion –indulge in Vans’ healthy house made sodas, and the delicious spicy Indonesian style fried eggs. Diners will enjoy a relaxed and bustling atmosphere, with seating areas either indoors or outside.
Overlooking Swanbourne Beach, The Shorehouse is a coastal culinary haven that showcases modern Australian cuisine, combined with a Mediterranean influence from head chef Oliver Gould. Designed as a celebration of coastal living, The Shorehouse features a large deck, whitewashed walls and bright pastel colours for a laid-back beach-side eatery. As well as delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, there is also a ‘small deck menu’ that includes oysters, sandwiches and other seaside-friendly snacks ideal for watching the waves and surfers on an afternoon.
Due to Cape Town’s proximity to mountains and stunning coastline, there are plenty of opportunities to burn off the calories. Where better to start than with a hike up Table Mountain. The walk up takes roughly four hours, but for those looking for a more challenging ascent, there’s the India Venster Trail which involves a bit of actual climbing. The views from the top, especially on a clear day, are out of this world. You’re able to look far towards the Cape of Good Hope and up north towards Namibia. Keep a look out for wildlife as the trail is full of exotic animals.
For those looking for a less challenging hike, the Lion’s Head trail is another alternative with equally stunning views. The descent from Table Mountain is straightforward as you hop on a cable car that takes a few minutes (V&VPR insider tip: to save time, buy cable car tickets ahead of schedule).
There are two amazing places in Cape Town to catch the sunset: one is Signal Hill, and the other is Clifton Beach. Both offer uninterrupted views of the Atlantic Ocean.
In addition to the stunning vistas of Table Mountain and Lion’s Head, a visit must be paid to the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens which are at the foot of Table Mountain. The park is vast, and it is also a great place to sit back, relax and admire the vivid variety of flora. Do note that some of the resident Egyptian Geese might ask you to leave in a not-so-polite manner. A great way to get a full view of the park is to head to the boomslang – named after a snake, it is a treetop walkway that gives an obstacle-free view of the park and of Table Mountain behind it.
A trip to South Africa or the Southern African continent, in general, is not complete without a safari. Just an hour and a half outside of Cape Town is the Aquila game reserve. The Game Reserve boasts a large variety of wildlife including the Big Five (lion, elephant, rhino, buffalo and leopard) and if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot all five. The guides are incredibly knowledgeable and passionate about the work they do and the conservation efforts they lead.
While South Africa and Cape Town are amazing, it is essential to take into account the history of the country, particularly during the Apartheid regime during visits to different parts of the city. A way to learn more about the past is a visit to Robben Island, the prison where Nelson Mandela was held from 1964 for 18 years of his 27-year sentence. The tour takes roughly three hours including the ferry transfer, and it starts with a tour of the prison where a former political prisoner of the island leads the tour. You learn a lot about how poor conditions were and see Mandela’s cell. The rest of the visit is on a bus around the island where people still live on the island today as it is now a site of animal conservation. The highlight of the island tour is getting the best view of Table Mountain and a family of Cape Penguins that chill by the seaside.
Whether it be for work or leisure, Cape Town is an exciting city. With amazing delicacies, soaring mountains and stunning coastlines, the city have so much to offer. It is waiting to be discovered and savoured.
As the end of 2019 approaches, Scott Dunn has forecasted what’s hot and trending in 2020 within the world of luxury travel. The world is at our fingertips, and travelling to far-flung places has never been so easy. Scott Dunn predicts next year’s go-to travel destinations – hosting a plethora of luxury hotel openings, and plenty of natural wonder.
Israel is one of Scott Dunn’s up and coming destinations for next year, due to more flight connections between Asia and Israel than ever, and with the increased sophistication of Asian travellers. Travellers are wanting to delve beyond the footsteps of Jesus to visit Israel’s more remote locations, such as the Negev Desert. 2020 sees the opening of Six Senses Shaharut, Arava Valley – the new cliff-top lodge will provide unprecedented clarity of the Negev’s famed night sky. Guests are invited to partake in a range of incredible exclusive activities, from discovering Negev winemaking to journeying in a hot air balloon above the desert’s expansive rocky scenery.
Scott Dunn predicts a revival of destinations with bespoke itineraries that go beyond the typical tourist traps for guests to re-discover timeless destinations such as Greece. With journeys to the less-known islands of Naxos, Milos, Paros and Sifnos for a more authentic experience of Greece, visiting secluded bays, exploring traditional villages and sampling the local cuisine. Scott Dunn is one of just a few travel companies that curate itineraries on these hidden islands and organises exclusive experiences such as a private guided gastronomical tour of Naxos, off-road 4×4 explorations of Milos’ untouched beaches and ancient chapels, and speed boat trips to uninhabited Grecian islands.
With an increasing number of guests choosing to re-visit a destination, Scott Dunn curates itineraries for a deeper journey to rediscover an old favourite in a new light. China is often associated with its major cities and well-known historical sites, however for 2020 Scott Dunn is shining the spotlight on rural China. For a chance to escape city life, Scott Dunn allows guests to reconnect with nature and be fully immersed in the country’s landscape through a new partnership with Caravan Liotard. The camp is inspired by the French writer Constantin de Slizewicz and the traditions of the Tibetan caravans along the historic Tea Horse Road, the elegant bell tents invite travellers to indulge in the simplicity and beauty of the surrounding countryside.
Infrared therapy has taken off in the US, UK, and Australia in recent years as a health and wellness trend. This new style of therapy uses infrared lamps which emit waves that heat the body, penetrating deeply into joints, muscles and tissues. Singapore finally has our first dedicated infrared sauna studio with Pure Wellness Studio.
Tucked away in a conservation shophouse in the buzzy Duxton neighbourhood, the quiet sanctuary is home to the boutique space that boasts three sauna cabins, featuring the latest full spectrum infrared technology that heats the core of the body and can penetrate the skin up to 7cm, providing a deeper cleanse as compared to traditional saunas. With skin as the body’s largest detox organ, designed to eliminate toxins safely, this makes sweating, a powerful tool for detoxing — leading to increased health and wellness benefits.
Originally founded in Melbourne, Australia, Pure Wellness Studio Singapore was launched locally by founders Maxie Chan and Rachel Lim, after they experienced the benefits of infrared therapy first-hand.
As a holistic wellness space, Pure Wellness Studio also curates a series of workshops and classes with two sessions every month that are meant to revitalize. Starting the series in November is a multi-level Vinyasa Flow class (6 November) that will challenge the body and awaken the spirit, and a Crystal Reiki Healing session (20 November) that introduces guests to positive energy interaction that is said to promote physical, emotional and spiritual healing. Sound healing and meditation classes will also soon be introduced.
Location, location, location — the first thing we consider when choosing our home base during vacation. Over the past year, a range of excellent hotels have opened in Kuala Lumpur but want to know which ones are our favourites?
The Westin Kuala Lumpur has one of the best locations in the city if tourist attractions, shopping malls and nightlife are your priorities. Located opposite Pavilion Kuala Lumpur and adjacent to Starhill Gallery, getting around the Golden Triangle is incredibly convenient. The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is one of those alluring establishments that captures the evocative spirit of travel. Built during Malaysia’s boom years before World War II, the hotel evokes a luxurious colonial atmosphere. Conveniently close to Sentral Station, the hotel is also near the National Museum, National Mosque, Islamic Arts Museum, Lake Gardens and Bird and Butterfly Parks. A bit further out from the city centre, Alila Bangsar is near a slew of sleek, hip cafés and tasteful hole in the walls in Bangsar. This modern skyscraper is situated in the lively, millennial neighbourhood of Bangsar — a 15-minute drive from the manic buzz and tourist footprint that is downtown KL.
Some more budget-friendly options include The Kuala Lumpur Journal, which is just off one of the city’s main thoroughfares, Jalan Sultan Ismail. Right in the city’s entertainment and shopping area Bukit Bintang, it’s also only a five-minute walk from the street food hub of Jalan Alor. Located in a historical colonial house with lots of character and charm, The Yard Boutique Hotel is another convenient yet cost-effective option and is ideal for travellers who like to combine the excitement of a buzzing city with absolute tranquillity.
This year, The Upper House celebrates 10 years of unparalleled personalised service and understated luxury. To commemorate the occasion, Café Gray Deluxe presents a Wine Pairing Celebration Menu featuring a range of 2009 vintages to complement a specially curated four-course menu.
In 2009, Swire Hotels opened the doors to its second House of The House Collective, with the goal to create a highly individualised small luxury hotel that would break with convention. This has been embodied in the sophisticated and modern design reminiscent of an Asian inspired residence, and the passionate team members who continue to redefine hospitality.
Available from 1-31 October 2019, Café Gray Deluxe will present a special four-course dinner Celebration Menu paired with a selection of wines from 2009, priced at HK$1,260 per person. The dishes include Hokkaido Scallops, Grilled Red Snapper, or Slow Braised Veal Cheek and Chocolate Délice to finish.
Award-winning Chef Sommelier, Leo Au has handpicked four 2009 vintages to complement the dishes on the Celebration Menu. Leo says, “2009 was not only a good year for our hotel’s opening, but also for wine. With optimal weather in Europe throughout the year, 2009 wines are one of the most opulent vintages.”
Partnering with pioneering sparkling wine producer Nyetimber, those reserving a table for 10 people or more will also receive an exclusive preview of the world’s first Prestige Cuvee English Sparkling Wine, Nyetimber 1086 Rosé in magnum, available for the first time in Hong Kong.
Nyetimber’s most prestigious wine, 1086 is the ultimate expression of owner Eric Heerema’s vision and his confidence in England’s ability to produce world-class sparkling wines. 1086 is made of a selection from a precious treasury of over 90 exceptional wines superbly crafted by Head Winemaker Cherie Spriggs.
From local delights to exquisite haute cuisine, Kuala Lumpur is the ultimate foodie destination. For fine-dining, our top picks are Nobu and Dewakan. Nobu Kuala Lumpur is a Michelin-starred titan in the world of sushi, sashimi and tempura. Dewakan is Malaysia’s first and only entry into the Asia’s 50 best restaurants awards. It seems simple enough to describe Dewakan as a restaurant that specialises in “modern Malaysian” cuisine, but doing so brushes over the extent to which chef Darren Teoh and his team have pioneered a new direction in the country’s fine dining scene. Another lush affair is the afternoon tea at The Majestic Hotel’s Orchid Conservatory. Showcasing a hanging garden and orchid scape within a glass atrium, this botanical wonder is the only one of its kind in the country.
With a booming café scene, lazy afternoons spent in coffee shops is a great way to take a break from a packed itinerary of sight-seeing. The industrial-chic Breakfast Thieves is located in the heart of Bangsar where you can expect to be whisked away by modern Australian cuisine with a touch of Asian influence. Pulp is Papa Palheta’s flagship store in Malaysia and offers a range of different roasts that will delight any coffee connoisseur. Nestled between a contrasting mix of sky-high condominiums and antiquated shophouses along Jalan Galloway, VCR Café is well-frequented by discerning coffee drinkers and brunch lovers for its satisfying range of coffee from single-origin beans and unique blends. Remodelled from a corner-lot building, VCR Café retains much of its original charm and old-world feel with rustic fixtures, wood and brick elements, high ceiling and warm lighting.
Those wanting to get a taste of the local cuisine must squeeze in a visit to the Jalan Alor Night Market. It’s within the Bukit Bintang area, so it’s easily accessible if you’re staying in the city centre. Another culinary highlight is Village Park Restaurant, which is often touted as having the best nasi lemak in town by locals and tourists alike. For something a bit more modern, an up and coming dining establishment joining the cafe scene is Chocha Foodstore. It is located in an old building with a retro interior and offers local favourites that come with a creative twist.
Whether you’re keen on a night cap before bed or somewhere to start a spirited night out, KL’s vibrant night scene will have something for everyone. Located at the W hotel in downtown Kuala Lumpur at the heart of the Golden Triangle, WET Deck is a stylish bar lounge that transcends traditional pool deck bar expectations with its harmonious blend of cutting-edge mixology, bold modern design and view overlooking the Petronas Twin Towers.
Tucked away on a quiet suburban street in Bangsar between a local mechanics and design studio you’ll find the fabulously trendy Coley Cocktail Bar. Expect romantic mauve walls, dim lighting, 1960s beats and brown leather ottomans facing an extensively well-stocked bar. We highly recommend the Gin and Coconut cocktail, which is a thirst-quencher ideal for the tropical heat.