Five up and coming places to visit
Hot on the heels of the new direct flight from Gatwick to Lima with British Airways, Lima is rapidly revealing itself as one of South America’s most cosmopolitan destinations for culturally savvy, foodie globetrotters. Lima’s vibrant Callao district – once known only for Peru’s chief seaport, has reinvented itself as an edgy hotbed of culture. The newly opened Callao Monumental project, located in the towering and historic Edificio Ronald building, consists of six floors of independent restaurants, artisanal fabric boutiques, galleries and studio space for resident artists.
Elsewhere art lovers will adore Peruvian-born artist Ishmael Randal Weeks’ large installations and contemporary sculptures that explore themes of urbanisation, transformation, and regeneration. Sybarites can visit Ishmael’s newly-opened studio space in the Barranco district and gain an insight into the artist’s work.
Meanwhile Casa Bolognesi – a grand and imposing republican house overlooking Plaza Bolognesi – has now reopened for private visits following extensive renovations, allowing guests to explore the impressive collection of contemporary Peruvian and Latin American art.
When it comes to accommodation, the hotel du jour is arguably Atemporal – translated as “timeless”- which opened in August 2016. Located in the lively Miraflores district, this exquisitely designed boutique property is housed in a grand building boasting nine beautifully appointed rooms showcasing eclectic modern cool married with an old school service ethic.
Chile is poised to take centre stage in South America after decades of playing catch up with its neighbours and for good reason: while the long overlooked South America country can’t match the raw energy of Brazil or the elegance of Argentina, it’s safer and more welcoming than many of its South American siblings. Chances are your first introduction to spindly Chile, will be the country’s capital: step forward Santiago which has undergone something of a renaissance in recent times. Earlier this year one of Santiago’s favourite buildings rose from the ashes in Barrio Lastarria as the fully restored 38 room boutique Hotel Luciano K. Named after the cult Chilean architect Luciano Kulczewski who designed this architectural gem, this brand new hotel has more than a touch of Ghostbusters about it, originally constructed as an art deco style apartment block with a locally loved gargoyle leaning down from the roof.
Historically known as La Gargola, the building was once the tallest in Chile and the first to have central heating and an elevator. The hotel’s sympathetic restoration showcases the original elevator ‘capsule’, original marble staircases, tiles, wooden doors and Luciano Kulczewski’s signature art deco features have also been brought back to their former glory.
Forget the UAE – it’s Oman that is stealing the show. Oman’s glitzy next door neighbour – the bling bedecked emirate of Dubai – may dominate the headlines, but if it’s an authentic taste of Arabia that you’re after few places can match Oman.
Blessed with beautiful beaches, rugged mountains, medieval fortresses, ancient ruins and one of the best souks in the Middle East, Oman offers much for the traveller willing to explore and experience more than crowded shopping malls.
Indeed unlike the other Gulf States, the country has managed to modernise itself without turning the Sultanate into a strip of gargantuan shopping centres. Buildings have been designed to reflect the cultural heritage of their surroundings – thus developments are all unmistakably Arabic (on the outside at least) owing to details like white washed walls.
One of the most recent projects is the development of the Mina Sultan Qaboos Waterfront, which aims to transform Port Sultan Qaboos – previously Muscat’s main commercial port – into a major tourist destination, chock full of hotels and resorts, retail and residential areas, as well as entertainment and cultural areas.
Oman’s popularity is also set to soar thanks to a super luxury yacht called Crystal Esprit that will be sailing into town on 4 December. Sybarites onboard the seven star, butler-serviced 31 suites, 62-passenger vessel, will be able to enjoy Michelin star-level cuisine, wakeboards, kayaks, jet skis, scuba diving and more.
Sri Lanka’s host of new hotel openings – together with the tiny Island’s golden beaches, tea plantations, lush jungles, spectacular wildlife and ancient cities – as opposed to fracas and fighting that are dominating the headlines.
Haute hotel arrivals include Fort Bazaar in Galle Fort and Chena Huts in Yala National Park. The former in historic Galle Fort is a fabulous option for couples seeking a romantic break and families in need of R&R, with a spa, a 10-seater cinema and cushioned daybeds for poolside cocktails.
Inside, contemporary Scandi-style furnishings blend with Middle Eastern features to create a stylish, light-filled sanctuary. Meanwhile, Chena Huts is a luxurious lodge on the edge of Yala National Park, complete with lavish cabins, private plunge pools, and twice-daily safaris. While you will find freestanding tubs, all the mod cons, and a spa, Chena Huts is all about wildlife: the cabins are stilted so nature can move freely, the vast walls of glass allow for hide-style wildlife spotting and even the occasional elephant pops by.
Over in Weligama Bay, W15 Weligama is a small, sociable hotel with great surf on the doorstep, a buzzing bar-restaurant and enviable beachfront location. And last but by no means least, Tri Lanka is a luxe eco-retreat on the banks of Koggala Lake offering first-class yoga facilities, heavenly spa treatments, an infinity pool and 11 beautifully designed rooms. We’ll see you in Sri Lanka.
Cartagena – or Cartagena de Indias – as it was originally, and romantically, called will, without a doubt, be one of the most beautiful and seductive places that Sybarites will ever visit. Expect cobbled alleys, flower bedecked balconies (a prize is awarded every year for the most beautiful balcony), horse-drawn carriages, statues (saluting the heroes who helped defend Cartargena against British and French colonialists, pirates and ultimately from Spain) and elegant plazas, all of which combine to help the city maintain a unique unspoiled identity.
You could spend days wandering around the walled old town, putting your bargaining skills to the test by purchasing sweets from El Portal de los Dulces (featured in Gabriel Garcia Maquez’s Love in the time of Cholera), before losing yourself in a labyrinth of sights, sounds and smells.
Little wonder then that Morgans Hotel Group has chosen to make its entry into South America with the Delano Cartagena – due to open before the year is out. Located in Mar de Indias, a flourishing area in southern Cartagena, the 186 room hotel will feature luxurious beach bungalows, a full-service beach club, extensive fine dining and nightlife outlets.
Delano enthusiasts from around the globe can expect the same attention-to-detail, premier service and luxury experience at Delano Cartagena as first experienced at the original South Beach property.
Meanwhile Marriott International has announced plans to open two new hotels in Cartagena – say hello to the 210-room AC Hotel by Marriott Cartagena and the 201-room Cartagena Marriott – by 2018. All told, Cartagena is a city truly on the verge of great things – get it while it’s hot.
By: Kaye Holland