Into the glit­ter bin

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Front Page - SU­SAN KURO­SAWA

Lux­ury is a con­cept that has many mean­ings and di­men­sions and is ever-evolv­ing. In, say, the 1980s, it meant glit­tery ho­tels with gold taps, spa tubs and morn­ing-suited but­lers. Three decades on and truly savvy trav­ellers are harder to im­press. Lux­ury is now more likely to be about pri­vacy and seclu­sion.

Get­ting off the grid for a dig­i­tal detox (no con­nec­tiv­ity, that is, and three cheers from me on that score) is a lux­u­ri­ous thought and there are many places where this can be achieved in great style. In­creas­ingly, I like the idea of “ap­pro­pri­ate lux­ury” more than any sense of ex­cess. It al­ways seems a small mir­a­cle when re­mote places can de­liver thought­ful ex­tras; it makes you think about the lo­gis­tics, the chain of de­liv­ery, the sheer ef­fort and de­ter­mi­na­tion to pro­vide, say, cut flow­ers in an African lodge or fresh pro­duce on a tiny coral cay. Other things may not work so well at such far-flung ac­com­mo­da­tion (grem­lins are known to in­ter­fere with gen­er­a­tors; the creep­y­crawly wildlife is fre­quently in­ves­tiga­tive) but, good­ness, here is a dewy rose on the break­fast tray and a hot-wa­ter bot­tle in the bed.

T&I this week is all about lux­ury but not in a pro­claim­ing sense, although you could char­ter a megay­acht (Page 6) for a lively $1.3 mil­lion for seven days. But for most of us this is voyeuris­tic fan­tasy; plonk me, please, some­where con­nected to na­ture, such as Tas­ma­nia’s Fr­eycinet Penin­sula (P4) and pro­vide a base camp that might be fives­tar, how­ever is not all silly frills but earthed and or­ganic and within strik­ing dis­tance of out­doorsy pur­suits in air so clear and crisp you could al­most reach out and snap it.

For our Lit­tle by Lit­tle fea­ture (P10), we asked con­trib­u­tors to re­call mem­o­rable ho­tel ex­pe­ri­ences. In ev­ery case, it was about kind­ness from staff and man­age­ment’s in­tu­itive sense of how to treat guests. He­len An­der­son de­scribes the comfy rit­ual of “bed tea” at a plan­ta­tion bun­ga­low in up­coun­try Sri Lanka; at the su­per-glam The Brando in French Poly­ne­sia, Chris­tine McCabe re­mem­bers not just the el­e­gant ac­com­mo­da­tion and true-blue la­goon but the un­sum­moned mac­arons, their fill­ings made from honey har­vested on the atoll. At the Mai­son MK in Mar­rakech, AZB Knight tells us that each morn­ing a sil­ver stool is placed out­side gue­stroom doors “bear­ing a Ther­mos of strong, hot cof­fee — it ap­pears with­out be­ing re­quested or dis­cussed; you can take it or leave it.”

In The Mal­dives, swimming with tur­tles at Amilla Fushi (P8) is a par­tic­u­lar, silent plea­sure. This new re­sort at Baa Atoll uses vari­a­tions of “house” for its ac­com­mo­da­tion styles and if you want to dine in your La­goon or Ocean Reef House, then or­der “home de­liv­ery” not “room ser­vice”. A pizza comes in a “take home” box and the im­plicit in­vi­ta­tion is to sit back and re­lax, a cheesy, gar­licky slice in hand, and ob­serve “Mal­di­vian TV”, which is, nat­u­rally, the big, blue view be­yond. It re­ally does feel like spend­ing a feet-up af­ter­noon in a home away from home. Now, if only I could work out how to dis­con­nect that blink­ing Wi-Fi.

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