Havana’s top address

Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana: Cuba's first new luxury hotel

It is the most beautiful view you can have in swimsuit or bikini when in Havana: directly over the edge of the rooftop pool on the dome of the Cuban Capitol and on to the roofs of the old town. It is also the most beautiful sight you can enjoy on the city lights in the evening: in a stylish outfit from the bar tables over the best daiquiris and mojitos of the city. The Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana is the flagship of the Cuban hotel industry, the first world-class luxury hotel to open after the opening of Cuba – built in a completely renovated grandiose building dating from the early 19th century. All is opulent here, the ceilings on the first floor are as high as six meters. On the ground floor, there is a row of luxury shops – just like over a century ago when the building was conceived as the best shopping address in the city.

The location could not be better. The look inside is consistently modern, the styling sophisticated, perfectly state of the art. On top of that, the San Cristobal Panoramic Restaurant is a culinary masterpiece: Caribbean seafood at its finest!

Photo: © Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski La Habana


South Africa at its best

Grootbos Private Nature Reserve

It is these minutes that you cannot forget when the sun rises over the Infinity Pool, illuminates this heath landscape, makes the ocean, dunes and beach shine in the first light of the new day. It is the midday while hiking in the shadows of the thousand-year-old Milkwood forests, or while going horseback riding. And it is the evenings on the terrace under the starry sky with a six-course menu with local ingredients including freshly caught fish from the South Atlantic or Indian Ocean. Grootbos is a place no one forgets: a 2500-hectare private nature reserve on the Cape – at the very bottom of Africa, where the two oceans meet.

The wilderness around it is as much the home as the lodge itself. Everything is one at Grootbos, it all belongs together, fits together. The symbiosis of man and nature is the concept. Because the wealth of the animal and plant world can best be preserved if man can feel this beauty with all his senses. Grootbos has eleven suites in the Garden Lodge, 16 in the Forest Lodge and two villas. All meals and numerous activities, including guided rides, are included in the overnight prices.

Photo: © Grootbos Private Nature Reserve


Hundreds of chairs in all colors

Little Cyclades: stopping time on Folegandros

All in all, there are hundreds of them. They stand around in groups of two or four, on tiny terraces in front of small taverns, under pepper trees on squares in the center of Chora on the island of Folegandros in the Cyclades – and under strings of lights. They can be white, light green, light blue, painted over a few times over the years, and almost all are covered with wickerwork. There is no competition for all these little chairs as there are plenty available: every morning during breakfast time, when yoghurt, freshly squeezed juice and fruit are served, along with white bread and goat cheese from the island. Later for lunch in the open air, when it smells of meat, of herbs. In the evening, when the freshly caught fish of the day sizzles on the grills of the taverns. And at night, when somebody fetches a guitar and another sings along.

Folegandros is a rather quiet place, much calmer than the Santorini Island, which is three times its size and a 45-minute ride by catamaran express ferry away. It could even be described as sort of a counter-design – and it is a real revelation! The most beautiful hotel? It bears the name Anemomilos – with a fantastic view of Chora and the sea. The best time to travel? September and May.

Photo: © Haris –


In the Mayan Empire

Nizuc Cancun Resort & Spa

The Maya lived in snow-white. In light blue, in turquoise green. They had their paradise on their home peninsula Yucatan: luminous, bright beaches with sand like from an egg timer, the most beautiful sea, palm trees and mangroves – and the Belize Barrier Reef with all its underwater splendour right on their doorstep. ‘Nizuc’ was the name of their picture-book home, about 20 kilometres south of today’s holiday resort of Cancun, in their own language. This means ‘tongue of land’ in translation. And that is also the name of the most beautiful hotel there today: Nizuc Cancun Resort & Spa.

In many details it is a reference to the indigenous people of the past, to the high culture of the Maya, their art, their characters, their secrets – all interpreted in a modern way, translated into design. Clear lines dominate, as do light-dark contrasts, black, white and anthracite shades, which make nature with all its colours appear all the more impressive. There are six restaurants, three bars and the snow-white beach right on your doorstep. The smallest accommodations with indoor and outdoor areas range around 80 square metres, the largest over 500 square metres.

Nizuc Resort is part of the Mexican Brisas group, which operates some of the best hotels in the country. It has already received several awards. The centre of Cancun is about half an hour’s drive away and the distance to the international airport is eleven kilometres.

Photo: © _mexicanario_


Abaton Island Resort & Spa in Crete: Sunset Lounge, my favorite location

Sun for the soul

There is such a thing as a blissful place. A location which everyone feels attracted to. Sometimes it is just a table under palm trees, sometimes a terrace in a hotel, a viewpoint, a bar, or a spot on a sandy beach in the shade of a giant rock. You cannot really plan it – you can only create the right conditions: in the new Abaton Island Resort & Spa on Crete, the Sunset Lounge has become such a place of bliss. Because being in the open air feels as if one were flying: high above the sea, a completely unobstructed 180-degree ocean view, with an architecture that reflects the lines of the landscape. Everything seems organic and in motion – radiating with harmony.

And if you add the rich orange color of the sunset, while on one side of the horizon the lights of Hersonissos gradually come on, that is when the magic is complete. It is such a joy to be right in the middle – and to somehow have some distance to the rest of the world. This is coincidently also what the Greek term ‘Abaton’ means: ‘remote’ and ‘unreachable’ – accessible only to the few who gain entry. How fitting.

Photo: © Abaton Island Resort & Spa