EVERY HOTEL IN THE MGALLERY BY SOFITEL COLLECTION TELLS ITS OWN STORY. AND EACH IS INSPIRED BY ITS DESTINATION. UNIQUE AND BOUTIQUE, THESE HOTELS INVITE GUESTS TO ENTER A TALE OF ADVENTURE, ROMANCE, HISTORY, CULTURE, AND NATURE FROM THE MOUNTAINS OF CHIAN
Perched above the Andaman Sea, Avista Grande Phuket Karon is the perfect blend of European and Sino-Portuguese styles just a two-minute walk from the beach. With modern designs accented by striking references to Phuket’s tin-mining boom, extralarge rooms and suites are bright and welcoming with balconies offering sea or mountain views. An oasis of relaxation, the resort’s saltwater infinity pool features ample loungers, a waterfall, and a fullservice bar. Hotel Muse Bangkok immerses guests in the glitz and glamour of the golden age of travel. Its playful elegance is seen in opulent rooms with claw-foot bathtubs, hand-painted basins, and Venetian mirrors. 1920s Chicago come alive at Babette’s, where premium steaks and fine wine meet Art Deco elegance and live jazz. At The Speakeasy, a variety of unique venues include a rooftop bar, cigar lounge, and private rooms with spectacular views for special occasions. Tucked away in Northern Thailand’s lush green hills, Veranda Chiang Mai - The High Resort blends the region’s unique cultural heritage with the contemporary Veranda style. The result is a boutique retreat with a Zenlike feel that emphasises quiet relaxation. On the roof terrace overlooking the valley, the infinity pool offers a swim with the ultimate view, while guests can get hands-on learning Thai arts and crafts daily in the cultural pavilion. V Villas Hua Hin is for discerning guests in search of intimate moments. Inspired by romantic Italian holiday homes, each pool villa is a haven of secluded luxury with world-class touches like Hermes amenities and round-theclock butler service. In the private garden surrounding the pool, guests can breathe fresh ocean air as they enjoy a delicious breakfast al fresco or a barbecue dinner prepared by a dedicated chef.
paths even have two lanes—a sort of protohighway. On our hike, however, the only other traffic we encountered was villagers on their way to tend their terraced gardens. As the sun started fading, I couldn’t help glancing at the pedometer on my smartphone: 14,000 steps and counting. By the time we retrieved our rental car and drove off in the direction of our next hotel, I was ready for dinner.
Onar Villas is situated on an isolated cove that is tricky to get to. You need a 4 x 4 to navigate the 40-minute drive along a dirt track peppered with hair-raising bends. But as we crested a hill and caught sight of the turquoise horseshoe bay below, it was hard not to accelerate. The hotel, set back from this sweep of deserted sandy beach, consists of a group of simple yet luxuriously appointed stone cottages. The rustling leaves on the plane trees leading down to the shore were on the verge of falling. Dinner was a candlelit affair in a rustic, alfresco dining area, with good Cretan wine, vegetables from the kitchen garden, and fresh local fish.
We took a break from hiking the next day, basking on the beach in gentle sunshine and swimming in the warm, clear water. It was perfect preparation for the exertions of our final day: the 10-kilometer walk from the misty hills of Vourkoti back down to Achla Beach. Halfway through the hike, we stopped for another reviving dip in a natural pool at the foot of a small waterfall, and later called in at the monastery of Agios Nikolaos, the largest on the island. There we met a portly, bearded monk swinging a huge bronze key, which he used to unlock a door to the dark, icon-filled chapel—the monastery’s inner sanctum.
Karayiannis had arranged for us to have a late lunch on a working farm on the last stretch of the walk. There, tended to by the female owner, who seemed quite at ease hosting English-speaking hikers in her tiny, open-air kitchen, we feasted hungrily on slow-cooked goat with homemade cheese and bread. This was followed by “spoon sweets,” a fruity preserve served on teaspoons—just the calorific injection needed for the last hour or so of hiking. When we got back to Achla, it was time to catch the evening ferry to Athens—but not before a good stretch on the sun-warmed white pebbles and a last dip in the glassy sea.
A guest cottage built from the local stone at Onar Villas, a resort in northern Andros.