So the UK begins to unlock again and so far, so good. With 47% of the population having received at least one vaccine dose, the numbers across cases, deaths and hospitalisations continue to fall. It’s early days. After more than a year of this nightmare it doesn’t feel realistic to breathe entirely easy yet, but I dare to hope we’re headed in the right direction. It’s self protection, of course, this caution in letting my dreams get out of hand. The disappointment would be too much to bear, and I don’t want to jinx things. Nonetheless, this week I packed away the heavy winter clothes and switched my wardrobe to lighter items, imagining I was packing for a perfect weekend away.
As the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors begin preparations to welcome visitors once again, here’s five things I spotted this week that caught my eye for one reason or another.
World Art Day
UNESCO World Art Day aims to celebrate art and creativity in all its forms worldwide. Follow in the footsteps of French impressionist Auguste Renoir in Guernsey. During a month-long summer holiday in 1883 the world famous painter worked in The Moulin Huet valley to produce 15 paintings depicting some of his best pieces of the bay and the beach. Visitors can explore Renoir’s favourite locations on The Renoir Walk, a short, self-guided trail. Next to a picture frame at five different spots where the artist worked is a QR code that can be scanned with a smartphone to play an audio guide by Mr Cyrille Sciama, a world authority on Renoir.
The Bella Luce is an independent boutique hotel set in a historic Norman manor house close to the coastline offering gastro summer dining in the courtyard garden.
The hotel’s restaurant and bar seasonal menu includes locally caught seafood such as oysters, sea bass and crab. The Bella Spa offers a programme of ESPA and Carita treatments and a skin clinic. A bonus is the hotel’s in-house distillery producing both award-winning gin and rum. From £140 per night. www.visitguernsey.com
Channel Island Wildlife
Guernsey is also a haven for wildlife and lockdown has meant a rise in nature encounters taking place here and across sister islands, Sark, Herm, Alderney and Liho. The diverse range of wildflowers, insects and marine life ranges from Blonde Hedgehogs to the lesser-spotted Palmate Newt and Barn Owls to a native brown vole. Bottlenose dolphins have been spotted off Alderney too.
Cyprus is aiming to reopen its borders to UK visitors from 1st May. The island boasts 340 days of sunshine a year and temperatures average 27 °C even in the late season, and it is one of four destinations that will not deduct from the 90-day EU allowance.
In preparation to welcoming British guests, The Anassa Hotel will reopen this week with a new look for its outdoor spaces to include the pool and bar, and a new dining area. Private cabanas are planned at the secluded beach from where guests can try water-based activities such as water-skiing, windsurfing, parasailing and jet-skiing, and embark on sailing excursions along the Akamas’ coastline.
The family-owned hotel, part of Thanos Hotels & Resorts, is laid out like a traditional Cypriot village. The hotel interior, however, is designed by Parisian interior designer Joelle Pleot. Each room and suite has a private terrace or balcony. For larger groups there are four villas each with its own private pool, kitchen and dining area, sun terrace and panoramic Mediterranean views. The treatment programme at the Roman-style Thalassa Spa uses Tata Harper products, an all-natural brand.
Getting there: Flight time from the UK is around 4 hours 40 minutes to Paphos International Airport. The Anassa Hotel is a 1-hour drive from the airport. Rates from €471 (currently approx. £407) based on two sharing a Garden View Room on a B&B basis. www.anassa.com.
The caves at Cappadocia are world-famous. It’s somewhere I would dearly like to visit for both its history and its unque setting. The magical destination is known for its distinctive fairy chimneys and honeycomb hills set on the hilltop village of Uçhisar in central Turkey. The best way to appreciate the area’s beauty is by slow-travel in a hot air balloon at sunset. Also appealing is a Jeep Safari or All Terrain Vehicle off-road experience. Alternatively, the area is perfect for hiking, cycling or horse-riding through the ancient Anatolian landscape.
STAY: The five-star Argos hotel opened in 1996 as one of the area’s first transformation projects born out of the ruins of the 2,000-year-old Bezirhane monastery located on the Silk Road, once travelled by Marco Polo. There are 51 rooms and suites spread throughout the interconnecting caves and underground tunnels. Local architectural traditions sit harmoniously alongside modern elements and naturally each room is unique in shape with high stone arches and vaulted ceilings that follow the natural contours of the rocks. The district’s largest underground wine cellar, the organic SEKI Restaurant and lounge, boasts spectacular views of Tiraz castle, Mount Erciyes and Pigeon Valley. After all that excercise guests can recuperate in the hotel’s spa therapy area and infinity pool. Rooms from £252 per night B&B when booking Advanced Purchase Rates argosincappadocia.com
Photos clockwise from top left: the Cappadocia district; a room at the Argos Hotel; indoor pool area; a balloon flight; a pool at a private villa. Post header photo: indoor pool area at Argos Hotel, Cappadocia.
Springtime in Washington
Here’s one for Hashtagtravelling.com readers in the US, and for the rest of us when we’re able to travel. Over a century ago, the mayor of Tokyo gifted the Washington DC with over 3,000 flowering cherry trees. Every spring, the city’s monuments are enhanced with an exuberant pink froth of blossom. Find a local expert to discover the authentic local culture, street music, art and quirky alcoves of the world-class city. Discover the National Mall, the Old Downtown and favoured spots like Barracks Row Main Street, as well as postcard-perfect Georgetown and Dupont Circle fountain. Example: a six-hour Washington Walking Tour on the ToursByLocals platform is priced at £353 per tour for up to eight people.
That’s it for this week. Freedom is in sight so hang on in there! Have a peaceful and safe week wherever you are in the world.
As always please check the Foreign travel advice web site for the latest on domestic and international travel guidelines.
Unless otherwise stated, I have no affiliation with the brands mentioned but simply aim to share places and products that have caught my eye. I will always state if a post is sponsored or gifted.