We’re all for delving beyond the surface to discover a true sense of location. Many leading resorts are now offering guests authentic and cultural encounters that allow for connections with local people and the environment in addition to their five star furnishings. Local flavour and spirit are also being felt in the fabric of the hotels themselves, with traditional architectural styles being reprised and the work of home-grown artists and craftsmen finding a place within the decorative themes.
The iconic Hotel Excelsior in Dubrovnik effortlessly blends old with new. Graced by royalty and movie stars, the hotel has an air of prominence. Its sea-meets-city location is flat-out brilliant. Brimming with ancient churches, monasteries and fountains, a five-minute stroll will lead you to the medieval fortress walls and the UNESCO Old City.
There are few kingdoms more spiritual than the monastery-strewn mountains of Bhutan. Travel the farthest reaches its inhabited regions with a journey through Thimphu, Phobjikha, Bumthang, Punakha and Paro, taking in all five Aman lodges.
Six Senses Laamu impressively blends out-and-out luxury with impeccable eco-friendly credentials. Both the Beach and Water Villas have been built using natural materials and a large stretch of this private island's beachfront has been left untouched, enabling guests to feel close to nature.Read more
We love a hotel that sets the scene, and The Resort at Paws Up does just that. Located on a 37,000-acre working ranch in the heart of Montana, its cabins and safari-style tents are enchanting. By day, go riding or cattle driving and by night, listen to ancient cowboy tales round a campfire.Read more
In New York, you can’t get more central than The Knickerbocker. Overlooking Times Square (and just steps from Broadway, Bryant Park and MoMA), when you’re sat sipping a cocktail at St. Cloud rooftop bar, there’s no mistaking where in the world you are.Read more
Beyond the bright city lights, Ras Al Khaimah is being touted as ‘the next Dubai’ and is only an hour’s drive from its famous neighbour. Ritz-Carlton has nabbed a remote piece of desert here, an authentic location for its latest Arabian resort. Enjoy peace, adventure and luxury in equal measures.The Ritz-Carlton Ras Al Khaimah, Al Wadi Desert
Those looking for a more engaging take on local ceremonies and activities would do well to consider a Four Seasons beach/mountain combo in Bali. Check-in to Four Seasons Resort Bali at Jimbaran Bay and meet the curator of the resort’s Ganesha Cultural Centre – a space dedicated to exhibitions and workshops in Balinese art, music and crafts. Next, head to the utterly magical Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan. Reached by a wooden bridge, you cross to another world, deep in the jungle. Adventures include cycling through rice paddies and meeting the locals in nearby villages, or rafting down the Ayung River.
From colourful cities and markets to majestic forts and remote national parks, India is a cacophony of sights, sounds and smells. To appreciate all its nuances, take in a tour of Delhi, Agra, Ranthambore National Park, Jaipur and Udaipur. This city, palaces and tigers itinerary brings you a large slice of locale.Palaces & Tigers Itinerary
This Relais & Chateaux journey offers guests a unique tour across Sri Lanka with a wide range of authentic cultural experiences. Stay at Ceylon Tea Trails, the world’s first tea bungalow resort, the sumptuous coastal resort of Cape Weligama and the luxurious Wild Coast Tented Lodge offering the comfort of a luxury hotel with the excitement of a safari-style wilderness experience.
Four Seasons Resort Marrakech offers access to Yves Saint Laurent’s private home where guests can discover how Marrakech influenced his life and work. Back at the resort enjoy a menu based on the colours, textures and shapes that influenced Saint Laurent’s designs during his time in Marrakech.
Set on a peninsula overlooking the old cosmopolitan fishing village of Aghios Nikolaos, St Nicolas Bay Resort Hotel & Villas features a permanent private exhibition of paintings and sculptures from well-known Greek artists. Choose to travel back through the history of Crete and explore the hotel's Cretan Museum, which showcases a rich selection of colourful rugs, pottery and handcrafts.Read more
At Four Seasons Tented Camp, guests arrive by long-tail boat and can dabble in anything from early morning hikes and mountain yoga to market tours and planting saplings in the gardens. Follow this with a stay at Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai for cooking classes with world-class masters, picking rice in the paddy fields and visits to the local hill tribes. Hidden away in shady coconut groves, conclude the adventure at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, it personifies tropical Thailand.
You may also like: History brought vividly to life by passionate guides at the KwaZulu Natal battlefields in South Africa.
Whilst we know our edit of luxury getaways for 2018 are tempting enough, there are also exceptional savings to be had that add to their appeal. These include everything from bonus nights and up to half price savings on accommodation, to complimentary transfers and half board.
Here are the offers that come out on top...