In 1960, Laurance S. Rockefeller, a conservationist and hotel visionary, was invited to the undeveloped island of Hawaii. As he flew over the volcanic island, he spotted a beautiful, crescent-shaped white sand beach at the foot of the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea.
Unable to peel his eyes away, he asked to take a swim after landing. Looking up from the bay, Rockefeller dreamed of a resort that conformed to, but did not intrude upon, the location’s incredible spirit and beauty – one that inspired guests to return for generations. Here, the magic of Mauna Kea Beach Hotel began. A luxurious retreat was conceived, and the industry’s leading contractors were hired to build it.
Making its breathtaking debut in July 1965, it was the first resort hotel on the island and – at the time – the most expensive hotel ever built, at $15 million. More than 50 years later, resting on the gemlike turquoise bay of Kauna’oa, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a jewel of its own. It remains a legend and a tradition, offering guests a beautiful beach, the finest cuisine, championship golf and tennis, and endless aloha.
When Rockefeller found Kauna’oa Bay, there was little there: no roads, no power and no water; undoubtedly the right spot for his masterpiece.
He brought in every resource to transform the rocky landscape into a grand resort, including Mexican flagstones, Italian marble, ancient lava rock, black beach pebbles, concrete, steel and more than 200 varieties of plants to develop the lush, colorful landscape. One-and-a-half million man-hours went into building the “invisible” midcentury mega-structure.
A stone-stacked sign marked “Mauna Kea” and an extra-long winding drive leads guests to paradise at the resort’s entrance.
Blue tile floors matching the waters of Kauna’oa Bay line the open lobby, capturing the view of the ocean and encouraging guests to relax immediately upon arrival. The walls and pillars conform to the color of the bay’s sand. A multistory garden with sky-scraping coconut palms fills the center.
The 252 guestrooms – all with ocean or golf course views – were designed with an understated elegance in the style of an Old World mansion. Multiple sliding doors offer privacy and fresh-air cross-ventilation.
Guestroom doors open to corridorless floors that float over an atrium, where gardens and sky can be seen and trade winds can freely pass through. Suspended stairways rise throughout the concrete structure, connecting the floors. Monumental lava-rock walls adorn nooks and crannies.
More than 1,600 authentic Pacific and Asian artworks are displayed, giving the impression of a grandiose estate filled with fine art. With pieces from India, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Melanesia and Polynesia, Mauna Kea has one of the most extensive collections of Asian and Oceanic arts assembled by one person.
It was developed as an integral feature of the resort, and includes hand-selected works like the 7th-century pink granite Buddha resting under a Bodhi tree at the top of an enormous staircase; the two golden Buddhist disciples cast of bronze, guarding the lobby entrance; and the hand-stitched Hawaiian quilts and hand- dyed kapas and tapas lining the fifth through eighth floors.
Some pieces were intentionally selected for outdoor display. Others were chosen for exhibition in lounges, corridors and alcoves to inspire and inform guests.
Marked by two oversize bronze Japanese koi, Manta resembles an 18th-century Buddhist temple. The open-air restaurant overlooks the bay and Manta Point, where amazingly graceful manta rays feed along the shoreline most nights.
It’s home to a legendary daily breakfast buffet and an even more colossal Sunday brunch buffet. As the sun sets, the ambiance changes as guests watch executive chef Roger Bartle and his team prepare ocean-and farm-fresh fine cuisine in the restaurant’s exhibition kitchen. The Batik curry remains a staple while specials change nightly. Displayed outside are the resort’s resident Macaw parrots, Mango and Keo.
Hau Tree rests on the beach and serves fresh salads, wraps, ice cream and the resort’s famous Ovaltine froth, a perfect beachside treat. Grab-and-go breakfast, sit-down lunches and relaxed dinners around the gazebo mean guests only need to stray steps from the sand for a great meal. It’s the ideal place to enjoy a Fredrico, the signature cocktail of Mauna Kea. Spiced with velvety Jack Daniels, the “Freddy” is a modern take on the island’s Mai Tai. It was named in 1988 after a guest who desired a crisp drink to enjoy in large quantities.
The most iconic gathering place is Copper Bar. With wide floor-to-ceiling panoramas of Kauna’oa Bay and copper accents throughout, it underwent a slow and calculated renovation in 2015 to preserve the multigenerational feeling and allure of Mauna Kea. The original copper bar top was transformed into a beautiful backsplash. Marine rope that once lined the pillars was reused as a new art wall. Skylights splash the bar with light from the lobby level above. Eighteenth and 19th-century Indian temple toys, made of extravagant bronze and brass as offerings to Hindu deities, are displayed. Elegant island favorites like seared poke bowls and spicy macadamia nuts are served daily. Mixologists shake craft cocktails like the Mauna Kea mule, made with house-made ginger beer and Maui’s own Pau vodka, and served, of course, in a copper mug.
Never has a grand hotel seen such grand activity. Although the trade winds smell particularly sweet and the waters look glass-calm in the early dawn, the crescent-shaped beach is lovely any time of day. Sun worshipers can bask in year-round warm weather, while adventure seekers can snag stand-up paddleboards (and glow SUPs at night), canoes and trendy inflatables from the Beach Club.
Snorkel gear is available for water enthusiasts looking to see the reef, located a few short fin kicks from shore and Manta Point.
Kids can engage in Keiki Club Adventures, a daily program filled with fun activities, while children and adults alike can enjoy cultural activities such as ukulele lessons, cast-netting, coconut weaving, lei making and more. Eleven tennis courts overlooking the ocean can be booked for private or group sessions with instruction offered daily at the Seaside Tennis Club. A weekly art tour explores some of the unique pieces in Rockefeller’s collection. The protected Ala Kahakai trail, which circled the entire island before there were roads, connects Mauna Kea Beach Hotel and sister property Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel via a rocky oceanside hike over hardened lava.
Developed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. on black lava rock, the award-winning 18-hole Mauna Kea golf course mirrors the resort in design, vision and glamour.
The elevated greens challenge players with prevailing winds and breathtaking ocean and hillside views. Some holes play right along the water, and others across it. The prized third hole draws masses all on its own with waves crashing into the rocky shoreline with each putt. Guests can carve their way through the course with a GolfBoard or get pro-style tips from new GPS-equipped golf carts.
Whether couples are renewing their vows or planning a destination wedding, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel offers stunning backdrops to make their special day one to remember. Outdoor venues include the classic Hole Number 3, located on the ocean’s edge of Mauna Kea Golf Course, while the new Kauna’oa Ballroom offers panoramic views of the bay and coastline.
With Rockefeller pedigree at its foundation, Mauna Kea Beach Hotel continues to welcome guests to experience rest, relaxation, adventure, and the timeless magic of Hawaii at Kauna’oa Bay.
This winter, travellers visiting the Cayman Islands can trade the holiday season’s twinkling pine trees for swaying palms on the destination’s award-winning seven mile beach. This one-of-a-kind luxury island trio comprised of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman caters to all ages and lifestyles and offers a relaxing winter escape like no other with seasonal events, unforgettable culinary festivals and countless opportunities to experience a Cayman holiday under the sun.
Visitors will feel right at home for the holidays while staying on the Caribbean’s friendliest set of islands – renowned for its warm “Caymankind” hospitality which embodies the destination’s inviting local culture and kindhearted people.
Further adding to its appeal, reaching Grand Cayman is even more convenient this season with nonstop flights available from several U.S cities including New York, Miami, Chicago, Dallas and more via American Airlines, Cayman Airways, Delta, JetBlue and United.
Visitors can look forward to a number of holiday activities like Grand Cayman’s annual Christmas tree lighting event on November 19 in Camana Bay featuring a Christmas craft market, visit from Santa Claus and inspirational carolers.
On December 3, visitors can join locals and guests at the Camana Bay harbour and watch the night come to life as beautifully adorned yachts and boats sail through the glistening water with vibrant fireworks as the backdrop.
Travellers can also celebrate Christmas in Cayman with a visit from Santa Claus and enjoy a decadent Christmas Day lunch at one of Grand Cayman’s iconic restaurants like Grand Old House, Agua and even Tukka, a restaurant featuring Australian fusion delights.
Visitors staying through the New Year can ring in 2017 with electrifying fireworks displays on the beach and in Camana Bay.
In November, guests can also experience the Kimpton Hotels’ first Caribbean property – the 266-room Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa. The design-driven property features views of the brilliant turquoise water from most windows and areas of the property and is home to six restaurants and bars, two pools, a full-service spa and more.
Travellers can also enjoy accommodations at a number of Grand Cayman’s unmatched hotels and resorts from the luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman to the upscale Caribbean Club featuring unsurpassed suite accommodations.
On December 4, wellness-minded travellers can participate in the “Kindest” Marathon in the world, the Intertrust Marathon featuring a full marathon and half run and walk on a flat and looped course. Ideal for active visitors, the marathon is the only one in the world where you can run alongside Seven Mile Beach in the morning and swim with gentle stingrays in the afternoon. It is also a qualifier race for the New York City Marathon and the Boston Marathon.
Visitors seeking an early 2017 winter escape can plan a vacation around the Caribbean’s premier epicurean event, Cayman Cookout, which takes place 12 -15 January, 2017 and celebrates the destination’s diverse food and wine scene.
Now in its ninth year, the annual gastronomic celebration held in January at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman is hosted by Chef Eric Ripert alongside Anthony Bourdain and Jose Andres along with a number of other acclaimed celebrity chefs and tastemakers. The weekend-long culinary event features unique mixology classes, private dinners and demonstrations set along Seven Mile Beach.
Offering an abundance of seasonal events and celebrations along with unparalleled accommodations and luxurious indulgences, the Cayman Islands provides the ultimate holiday escape.
When heading to the Bahamas, its so hard to decide where to go. Its a case of so many islands, so little time. “Do I want a non-stop party or to just chill on the beach?” you may ask yourself. “Do I want to spend my time on or in the water, or do I want to play golf?”
With Sandals, there’s no need to choose, because they take island hopping to a whole new level in the Bahamas, with all-inclusive resorts on two islands. Nassau, known for its glittering casinos, Junkanoo festival, duty-free shopping, and exotic adventures, is a high-energy haven that’s drawn glitterati and royalty alike.
It’s where you’ll find Sandals Royal Bahamian, formerly The Balmoral Club, where The Beatles (who filmed their movie “Help” on the island) and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor once stayed. It’s the perfect place to stay, with 10 restaurants, a Red Lane® Spa, and the added adventure of Sandals very own offshore island, with all the luxurious amenities you’d expect from Sandals—a pool with a swim-up bar, beach cabanas and nightly beach parties. Guests in select suites even enjoy the services of a private butler, and Rolls-Royce or Mercedes Benz transfers for top-tier suites— something only Sandals offers.
Life is more unspoiled in the Exumas, which is why it’s such a draw for the international A-list, many of whom flock to Sandals Emerald Bay. Home to immaculate beaches, untouched natural wonders, and some of the calmest waters in the world, the resort draws those seeking privacy, tranquility, and the pursuit of all things aquatic.
“With Sandals Resorts, guests don’t need to choose which island to explore with the new Island Hopping program”
The calm waters of the Exumas invite sailing, paddle boarding, snorkeling, scuba diving, and sports fishing. You can even swim with pigs there. But landlubbers aren’t left out of the game. The Greg Norman- designed championship golf course, hugs a scenic peninsula allowing for both challenging play and spectacular views.
Pristine beaches are made for relaxing, seven restaurants are perfect for gourmet dining, and an award-winning spa is designed to pamper the mind, body and spirit.
Before the log cabin became a staple of the American frontier, it was the architectural solution of choice for the rigours of a Scandinavian winter. At the Luosto Tunturi Log Cabins, part of the small Finnish forest settlement of Luosto, guests can stomp their way through thick snow to their own rustic porch, and shake the white stuff off their boots before heading inside to defrost by the fire (or, for an even deeper thaw, in their private sauna).
A three-night stay is not so long as to risk inducing cabin fever, but enough time to allow you the chance to make the most of the activities on offer, from husky-sledding and snowmobile trips to ice-fishing. The cabins are above the Arctic Circle, where the sun stays below the horizon for part of the winter, and there’s always the chance that the northern lights could put in an appearance.
Al Andalus was an illustrious chapter in the history of southern Spain, when sultans built elaborate palaces, and turbaned philosophers pondered the pressing issues of the medieval era. It is also presently the name of a train service kitted out in damask and wood, which moves at a stately pace between the great Andalucian cities of Granada, Cordoba and Seville.
Even the briefest of the itineraries includes trips to the palace of the Alhambra in Granada, a flamenco show, the Mezquita of Cordoba with its hypnotic pattern of striped arches, and the Unesco-protected neighbouring towns of Ubeda and Baeza.
Arrive: BA, easyjet and Ryanair fly to Seville from Gatwick and Stansted.
The ‘zan’ in Tanzania, Zanzibar was a byword for far-off riches in the centuries when it dominated the Indian Ocean spice trade. The island is often combined in traveller itineraries with the traditional safari sights of the African mainland, but it also functions as a self-contained short break, with little in the way of jet lag for British visitors. Snorkelling off Zanzibar’s powdery white beaches acts as a powerful disincentive to do anything more cultural with your limited time.
That would be to miss out on the ramshackle charms of Stone Town, with its Unesco-listed Arab-Swahili architecture built under the sultans who ruled until 1964, and visits to clove-scented spice plantations in the island’s interior. Intrepid Travel’s Zanzibar Beach Break trip includes three nights at an east-coast beach resort.
Arrive: The shortest flights to Zanzibar from the UK are from Heathrow via Muscat on Oman Air or via Nairobi on Kenya Airways.
As a destination Resort, InterContinental Chennai Mahabaliupuram Resort prides itself in being able to create magical moods and festive ambiences for your special occasion.
Whether it is an intimate gathering on the beautiful beachfront, or a grand banquet at the stylish function hall, the team will conjure up the perfect customised setting and experience for you. Draw on their knowledge of wedding ceremonies from here and around the world to ensure every detail is in place and every moment, perfect.
Be the bride and groom you always wanted to be, and the Resort will create the setting, the aura and the atmosphere to match – from customising a menu, to hand-crafted decoration, and accompanying music, spare no length in making your date with destiny an event of a lifetime.
Exchange vows on the pristine sands, at water’s edge. A stunning location overlooking the Bay of Bengal with dramatic landscape of the Resort behind, this is a truly memorable setting for your special day.
Ideal for intimate gatherings, Samaya offers indoor and outdoor spaces in an enchanting setting with timeless appeal. Blending architectural elements of the region with contemporary service, it promises an unmatched experience.
The Resort uses its considerable culinary know-how to create authentic meal experiences to suit every occasion. The “In The Know” menus include dishes and ingredients that arc indigenous to South India and promise a fresh approach to cuisine. Alternatively, their Culinary Ambassadors can put together gastronomic journeys that leverage their global expertise to create menus inspired by dishes from around the world.
Of the dozen or so island resorts amid the emerald and turquoise waters of the Great Barrier Reef, this one, located farthest north, is the most beach-endowed. With just forty homestead-style bungalows, a justly famous Blue Lagoon, and twenty-four secluded white-sand, palm-fringed coves, there’s a good chance you’ll have a beach to yourself – and reason to stay for a few weeks to check them all out individually.
Uninhabited save for resort staff and guests, Lizard Island is a 2,500-acre national park, and the descendants of the 3-foot-long monitor lizards – after which Captain James Cook named the island in 1770 – can be found sunbathing on the palm-studded green lawn in front of your bungalow. Being so far offshore and nearer the outer reef, Lizard has some of the clearest and bluest waters and some of the best diving of the islands.
Cod Hole, a hot spot just 12 miles away, has long been a must-do diving site; dozens of giant potato codfish expect to be stroked and fed by hand – which may explain why they grow to 6 feet in length and weigh more than 400 pounds.
Things really jump on this otherwise relaxed and informal island when the black marlin are running, and 1,200-pound catches are not rare. Fishermen from all over the world descend on the island from August to November, and at the annual Black Marlin Classic in October, they reminisce about the seven world and two Australian records (as of this writing) that have been set here.
As the Bahamas’ first capital, before Nassau, Harbour Island is rich in history, but today it is best known for the 3-mile-long cover of pale pink sand. It’s a private fantasy beach with water as clear as a swimming pool, rimmed by the classic seashell-pink-and- white Bahamian cottages of the Pink Sands Hotel.
Spread out over 16 green acres, the Pink Sands, once a venerable and slightly stodgy favorite of old-money families, has been transformed into a glamorous destination for a younger, more international, and decidedly cooler crowd. The elegant informality of the place is deliberately, deceptively unassuming, in keeping with the personality of Harbour Island, an offshore cay of Eleuthera.
Lacy gingerbread houses and white picket fences remind some visitors of Nantucket, but don’t think stuffy: There’s fun and whimsy in Pink Sands’ strong pastels and chic decor, and the restaurant’s Caribbean-Asian cuisine is one of the most exciting in the far-flung Out Islands.
The kaleidoscopic, Crayola colors of Compass Point’s trendy cabanas and clapboard cottages evoke Junkanoo, the Afro-Bahamian carnival, and lend a playful theme-park-for-adults spirit to an island known more for Nassau’s casinos, mammoth resorts, and cruise-ship travelers.
Compass Point’s cottages offer hints of Nassau’s bustle, but have more of an outer islands vibe, with their own sandy cove offering privacy and access to justly famous Love Beach, located just steps away.
For one of the island’s best eating experiences, guests need merely brush off the sand and amble to the hotel’s alfresco restaurant, one of the few in Nassau with an ocean view. Compass Point’s visually lively, upbeat spirit is evident in its Bahamian-Californian cuisine as well, a cutting-edge fusion that produces winners like maki rolls (made with queen conch, mango, and cucumber) or roast lobster tail seasoned with Thai herbs. It’s the in spot for diners to watch the sun’s nightly performance, and each other.
Anguilla is a flat, scrubby island that’s light on interior scenery, but its confectionery 12-mile perimeter has some of the most picture-perfect white-sand beaches anywhere. These have conspired with incredibly clear water and undisturbed reefs to make Anguilla a favorite haunt for beach-and-a-book sun seekers looking for the Caribbean’s least-developed islands.
Among Anguilla’s thirty-some beaches, Shoal Bay ranks as anyone’s dream. Although your footprints won’t be the only ones left in the sand, particularly in the high season or on weekends, escapists need merely walk a few feet into the diamond-clear water to submerge themselves in another world, where schools of iridescent fish and magnificent coral gardens are the only crowds to contend with.
Should hunger strike, Uncle Ernie’s is the archetypal shanty beach bar, where a beer and barbecued chicken, ribs, or catch of the day doesn’t get any better—unless it’s Sunday afternoon, when an island band manages to enhance the flavor.
For a more full-on party atmosphere, head out to Gorgeous Scilly Cay, which is on its own coral-sand islet. This popular watering hole/beach-shack restaurant can really get wound up on weekends, when day-trippers from St. Martin descend and a local band warms up; on weekdays it’s more like a Robinson Crusoe fantasy.
King Gorgeous (a.k.a. owner Eudoxie Wallace) entertains swim suited diners with tall tales and powerfully delicious rum punches while preparing an alfresco feast of simple grilled lobster or crayfish marinated in his secret and justly legendary curry-based sauce. Most diners come for the better part of the day, snorkeling and swimming before and after lunch.
The ballfield-size cay now accommodates a helipad for the St. Martin set, but from Anguilla you can take King Gorgeous’s ready-when-you-are motor launch. Just stand at the pier at Island Harbour and wave, and someone will be by to fetch you.
Maybe it is the special clarity of the light that heightens the mirage effect of Cap Juluca’s Moorish turrets, arches, and domes. Like a sensual Saharan casbah nestled within 179 flowering acres near Anguilla’s southernmost point, and braced by a magical, mile-long curve of sugary white sand—one of the island’s most beautiful—the ultraromantic hotel Cap Juluca employs an artist’s palette of intense primary colors: green gardens, whitewashed villas draped in brilliant bougainvillea, and everywhere the deep azure sea and sky.
It can be almost too much for the winter-weary eyes of newly arrived guests. The oversized rooms are minimally but exotically appointed; many have enormous bathrooms with tubs for two and adjoining private sunning patios. Be sure to head out for dinner at the hotel’s acclaimed Pimm’s Restaurant, the only time and place guests wear anything more elaborate than a swimsuit and a suntan. At sunset Cap Juluca is the most glamorous vision west of Fez.
Not far to the north, the bluff-top Malliouhana Hotel boasts exquisite decor; a two-to- one staff-to-guest ratio; attentive, hands-on involvement by the gracious father and son British owners; and, perhaps most significantly, one of the most extensive wine lists in the western hemisphere, with 25,000 bottles and 1,500 selections, including more than 60 varieties of Champagne.
The dining pavilion sits above the gorgeous sweep of Meads Bay and faces west for unequaled sunset viewing. The kitchen and menu are supervised and designed by the acclaimed Paris-based chef Michel Rostang. The classic French cuisine with an island accent is a marvel, particularly when one considers it is created on an unspoiled island where traffic lights are still a fairly new concept.
Farther north, in the area known as the Valley, Koal Keel is a romantic alternative to Anguilla’s beachfront eateries. The open-air restaurant can be found in what used to be the garden of a sultry, sensual, and breezy 1780 plantation house, now beautifully restored. It’s one of the oldest and prettiest West Indian homes on the island, with cool, heavy stone walls providing the theatrical backdrop to your meal, aglow with candlelight and the palpable aura of centuries past.
This hillside charmer has created its own interpretation of delicious Euro-Caribbean cuisine. Try ginger- barbecued lamb, scrumptious lobster crepes, or delicate callaloo soup made with chard, coconut milk, and crab. Even if you drop in just for tea, you’ll be hooked.