With the British summer fading, it’s back to work, and for some, it’s back to school. If you haven’t already made October half-term plans, here are four suggestions from the team at Exosphere to inspire you
Alila Jabal Akhdar, Oman
Alila is the Sanskrit word for ‘surprise’ – and it sums up this company’s approach very well. Alila hotels are often located in surprising places, their architecture thoughtfully harmonises with the environment, they have a strong ethical policy and they work hard on ensuring that guests have a great destination experience.
Alila Jabal Akhdar (below) has been designed to conjure up a traditional Omani fortress, combining local stone and construction styles with contemporary architecture. A predominantly minimalist interior design is warmed up with authentic Omani copper ornaments, rugs, handmade pottery and paintings of ancient indigenous juniper on the walls of each of the resort’s 78 suites and villas. Each has its own balcony or terrace from which to watch the sunset or gaze at the stars, and the infinity pool has superb views overlooking the gorge. The two super-private Jabal Villas, named Jowz and Rummanah after the walnuts and pomegranates found in the region, have two ensuite bedrooms, wide indoor–outdoor living spaces, private pools and terraces.
Our top tips: For a truly unique arrival, choose the option of paragliding down to the resort (if that is too much adrenalin for you, the resort will transfer you by 4X4). Dine at the top of the mountain for a truly magical experience.
The Anassa is probably the best known of a small group of hotels in Cyprus that also includes the Annabelle in Paphos Town and the romantically lovely Almyra. Anassa is constructed to feel like a village, with Mediterranean terraces, terracotta roofs, gardens with mature, shady trees, a village square and a fine-shingle beach. Although there are kids’ clubs for all ages, it also is a good place for families who like to stay together on holiday – lots of watersports (even junior scuba), tennis, squash, places to swim and eat within the resort and a pervading informality, despite its five-star rating. Because of its setting a little apart, you will need a hire car if you want to eat out, play golf or explore further afield (the little town of Polis or the fishing village of Latsi).
Our top tip: Hire bikes to swing around the Akamas peninsula, calling in at the Baths of Aphrodite.
The Oberoi, Mauritius
People will tell you that Mauritius has a steady, year-round microclimate that doesn’t vary much. The Oberoi is located on the far northwest coast – admittedly a 55-minute drive from the airport – but in a climatically reliable spot on Baie aux Tortues, near the buzzing town of Grand Baie. It has a 20-acre garden and 600 metres of beachfront, three crescents of white sand between the lopsided mountains and the Indian Ocean. There are 71 spacious, luxurious and private pavilions and villas, some with private pools and four-posters. Cooking and painting classes, guided nature walks, tutored wine-tasting… windsurfing, waterskiing, sailing in the bay… It’s all on offer, but in small-resort format, which might suit your family better than one of the bigger playgrounds.
Our top tip: Give your children the experience of a lifetime and go swim with the dolphins. When our Director Sophie visited, she swam with 50+ of these friendly creatures.
Our Wildcard: Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North, Arizona, US
Fly over the deep red Arizona desert and you could be forgiven for thinking you were travelling across Mars, so arid and inhospitable does it appear. Closer inspection proves that the desert is a fascinating place to visit, and our recommendation is to stay at the Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North.
Why visit Scottsdale? Guaranteed sun for one thing, and clear, bright blue skies. Its desert setting is exciting and different – you can take a hike up Pinnacle Peak Park, which is easily accessible from the hotel; or visit the Botanical Gardens in Phoenix, an incredible place to discover in a desert, where the diversity of desert flora is a revelation. Dare we say it, too: the shopping is great in Scottsdale, the food is delicious – whether you taste is Mexican, Tex-Mex or modern American, and comes in hearty helpings (we’ll direct you to our personal favourite restaurants which we think you will love too). There’s never a dull moment for families, with much, predominantly outdoor, activity. The prospect of being a cowboy for a day should do it.
Why the Four Seasons? We find, time and again, that it’s the immaculate level of service that sets Four Seasons hotels and resorts apart. Despite the dramatic surroundings, you quickly feel at home, and because this one is located just outside the city, it provides easy access to many activities. It’s also a point from which you can set out to explore the Grand Canyon.
For more details on the properties featured here, or to discuss any other holiday destination, contact Exosphere