LUXURY ESCAPES NEAR THE AIRPORT
NATALIE COMPAGNO TAKES US AWAY
Oh to escape! Images of pink sand beaches, huts on stilts with monkeys swinging overhead; perhaps a castle materializes on the horizon of the mind. Daydreams intrude, especially while trying to focus on work. Most far-flung havens are usually just that – too far away.
The perception is that luxury hides from convenience. But these impressive properties encompass both proximity to an airport while also providing a total escape from the world. They embody their environment while giving guests that feeling of being somewhere else entirely. Within a few short hours of touching down, these fantastic retreats are close enough to become reality.
CHATEAU ST. GERLACH, MAASTRICHT NETHERLANDS
Maastricht is a festive university town with medieval architecture and modern amusements. Incongruously set just outside this vibrant urban party is the magnificent Château St. Gerlach, carefully restored to transport visitors to another place and time. The Relais & Châteaux property includes the original estate farmhouse, convent, and grain lofts, converted to 113 guestrooms. Manicured Baroque gardens beg for a leisurely stroll, while Renaissance thoughts drift among the greenery. Culinary options use organic ingredients from the estate’s grounds – French or gastropub depending on preference. Under the arches of the ancient cellar lies the coveted Spa & Wellness center, where a Roman-style swimming pool awaits.
BAOASE LUXURY RESORT, CURACAO
Curacao is one of the most welcoming and open-minded escapes in the Caribbean. The island celebrates its Dutch heritage in its cuisine and famous capital city, with postcard-perfect multi-hued buildings sitting waterfront. An oasis within the tropical flurry of Curacao “city” life is Baoase, the island’s only five-star resort. Guests step into another world upon entering a Balinese paradise where every detail hints of Southeast Asia. Beach-front pool suites house private gardens and outdoor baths with sinks imported from Indonesia. The hotel’s strict “no photographs” policy not only protects the privacy of its celebrity and discerning guests but also adds to the property’s commitment to relaxation. Breathe in the warm air of Curacao while luxuriating in Balinese style, worry free.
LA RESIDENCE FRANSCHHOEK, FRANSCHHOEK VALLEY, SOUTH AFRICA
Ever dreamed of being royal for a day? La Residence Franschhoek is a private 30acre “wine country” retreat, surrounded by vineyards and plum orchards.
Don’t let the description mislead – the accommodations are anything but rustic. When guests step into the Grand Hall the glitter and grandeur amaze. Taj Mahalesque Indian chandeliers hang from the vaulted ceiling and original artwork mixed with antiques surround. Each room is its own escape – no two are alike – with unique color schemes and design influences. This property is magical; don’t be surprised to see peacocks strolling with guests in the evening as the nearby mountains turn pink in the crepuscule. Wine is a major player on the menus, with each dish reflecting the bounty of the surroundings. Hard to believe that Cape Town is less than an hour away.
DHARA DHEVI, CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Chiang Mai isn’t Bangkok, but it still has the frenetic feel and pulse of a city. Grab a tuk tuk and leave the chaotic traffic behind. Dhara Dhevi resort must be seen to be believed. The property recreates an
authentic Lanna village, with traditional Thai houses as guest accommodations. Owned and curated by an art collector, each palatial residence features museumworthy statues and paintings. Bring the taste of Thailand home with cooking experiences and learn crafts from local artists. The classic Northern Thai cuisine dinner is a must-experience with trained dancers accompanying the meal. Culture and history swirl around, as each guest feels the allure of the Kingdom of Thailand.
BARNSLEY RESORT, ADAIRSVILLE, GEORGIA
Barnsley Resort sits on an 1840s estate, where the ruins of the original manor preside over the grounds and the atmosphere. Originally built for his wife Julia, Godfrey Barnsley was inspired by Italianate villas and gardens. Today it is a symbol of love and history, decorated for the holidays and used for events and parties. A world away, Barnsley Resort covers 3,000 acres where guests feel that Southern comfort while “playing” throughout the property. Choose an adventure – in a canoe or boat, on a horse, on the golf course or just relaxing at the pool – all are offered along with superior service. Seasonal regional Southern comfort food graces the plates at The Woodlands Grill, but the Wine Library is a cozier option for dinner. Look for the new Inn at Barnsley Resort, inspired by English country homes, opening early 2018. A grand staircase and fireplace will meet visitors as they enter, just an hour after landing into Atlanta.
FIESTA AMERICANA, PUERTO VALLARTA, MEXICO
When luxury meets Mexico it’s one big fiesta. Who says an escape should be quiet and tame? Fiesta Americana is an all-inclusive bash with impressive interior design, thanks to the owner’s training steeped in the Mid-Century aesthetic. The flair doesn’t stop there – guest room art flaunts an 80s vibe, and street art spray paint murals on each level continue to up the cool factor. La Veranda is the new culinary option. Dine alfresco with a gentle Pacific Ocean breeze on beef, lobster, and shrimp. Fiesta Americana is more than the sum of its parts--the staff makes everyone feel relaxed and pampered while still encouraging party hat adornment. The new rooftop SONNE club embodies this perfectly. An infinity pool, two jacuzzies, lounge area, and bar get the party started. Cabanas with daybeds, flat screens, and minibars keep the festivities going long after the sun sets over the Pacific.
THE LOREN AT PINK BEACH, BERMUDA
Bermuda is a place of tradition, known for its British past, propriety, and colonial architecture. The Loren at Pink Beach breaks the mold as Bermuda’s first new hotel in 45 years. Instead of quaint shutters and columns, the Loren greets a new wave of travelers with contemporary style. Sleek wide open spaces and glass facades capture light, and a free-standing winding glass and metal staircase awe as a centerpiece. Eight acres of coastal landscape and pink sand provide the playground, while a heated infinity pool beckons with views of the Atlantic. Treat yourself to a Rum Swizzle. This signature cocktail is the perfect accessory poolside.
La Residence Franschhoek