Get­ting the flavour of…

The Week Middle East - - Travel -

Polo play­ing in Spain

It may be the weird­est sport on Earth (Sylvester Stal­lone said it was “like try­ing to play golf during an earth­quake”), and it’s cer­tainly “mur­der on the bol­locks”. But polo is such ad­dic­tive fun that wealthy pa­trons spend a for­tune on horses and pro play­ers just to get a crack at it them­selves. For the rest of us, there’s Polo Val­ley, says Sam Leith in Tatler. On a four-day course at this re­sort in So­togrande, south­ern Spain, you stay in a “well-ap­pointed” house, eat meals with other guests, and learn the ba­sics of the sport from “hunky, tanned” in­struc­tors. Polo ini­tially seems al­most im­pos­si­bly com­plex – but hit­ting the ball well for the first time re­sults in “in­de­scrib­able sat­is­fac­tion” that will have you hooked for life. Polo Val­ley (020-8246 5301, www.polo­val­ley.co.uk) has three days from about £960pp, full board.

Track­ing gi­ant Alaskan bears

Unique to Alaska’s Ko­diak Is­land – one of the most re­mote places on the planet – Ko­diak bears are the larger cousins of the griz­zly. They are so “im­prob­a­bly huge” that when pho­tographed be­side “grin­ning hunters”, they look as if they’ve been Pho­to­shopped, says Richard Waters in The Daily Tele­graph. To track them in the wild, check in at the “lux­u­ri­ous” Ko­diak Brown Bear Cen­tre, a 40-minute he­li­copter ride from “pretty” Ko­diak City. Sur­rounded by “bot­tle-green” mead­ows and moun­tains and “rugged” beaches, the lodge is a kind of Eden, in whose grounds frolic ot­ters, beavers, foxes and deer. Guides take guests out by boat and on foot to spot the bears (salmon sea­son, in sum­mer, is the best time to go), as well as wal­rus, moose, bald ea­gles, or­cas and hump­back whales. Steppes Travel (01285601050, www.steppes­travel.com) has an eight-day trip from £6,495pp, incl. flights.

Mex­ico’s liv­ing his­tory

Set near sev­eral ex­tra­or­di­nary Mayan ru­ins, the re­stored ha­cienda ho­tels of Mex­ico’s western Yu­catán Penin­sula are “a call from another era”, says James Hen­der­son in The Sun­day Tele­graph – “haunt­ingly beau­ti­ful”, and a wel­come an­ti­dote to the brash modern re­sorts on the penin­sula’s east coast. Built by rich sisal planters, each has a run of Ro­manesque arches painted in blood red or gold, stand­ing out amid lux­u­ri­ant green­ery. The old­est, Ha­cienda Chichén Itzá, dates back to 1523, and has Mayan carv­ings in the walls. Another, Te­mo­zon, has seen the sign­ing of treaties by Mex­i­can and US pres­i­dents. Ch­ablé, the lat­est con­ver­sion, has a su­perb restau­rant over­seen by Mex­ico’s most fa­mous chef, Jorge Vallejo, and a spa cen­tred on the crys­tal-clear waters of one of the re­gion’s many cenotes, or sub­ter­ranean sink­holes. Steppes Travel (see above) has a seven-night trip from £3,360pp, incl. flights.

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