Today, for me, is devoted to wishful thinking. Soon enough, children the world over will begin writing their Christmas lists (and Chanukah lists, too), and I will be way ahead of schedule, continuing work on my Travel Wish List. Sure, I’d like to hit another dozen or so countries in the next year, but more realistically, or more specifically, I have several places that top the list for the end of 2011/beginning of 2012 time period. They are (in no particular order):
HACIENDA SANTA INES, COSTA RICA
A sprawling private estate in the mountains of Costa Rica, this extravagant (and monstrous) property features private chefs, daily massages, equestrian facilities, greenhouses, pools, game rooms, transportation via helicopter, a petting zoo, and a partridge and a pear tree. Oh, and the rates start at $12,000/night.
CASTELLO DI VICARELLO, TUSCANY
This 12th century castle in the Maremma region of Tuscany has only seven guest rooms, and oozes Tuscan charm. All meals are cooked in the kitchen by Aurora, the owner’s wife, and feature home-grown ingredients, farm-fresh dairy, and the property’s homemade olive oil. They have a vineyard from which they produce their own wines, two swimming pools, a spa, and views of the rolling hills for miles and miles. The one problem is, I’d never leave.
GRAND HOTEL TIMEO and THE VILLA SANT’ANDREA, SICILY
Both of these gorgeous luxury hotels in Taormina, Sicily are Orient Express properties–my favorite hotel group–and both are divine. The Grand Hotel Timeo was built in 1873 and features spectacular views of Mount Etna, while Villa Sant’Andrea sits on a private beach on the Bay of Mazzaro, allowing guests to sip local Nero d’Avola wine and eat fresh seafood while feeling sorry for everyone back home. Something tells me I will be making this trip happen very soon…
ELLERMAN HOUSE, CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA
Okay, this is kind of cheating, because I’ve already been there, but it was only one night, and I really really really want to go back. Located in Bantry Bay with the most spectacular views of the Atlantic, this former private estate is as elegant a place as I’ve ever seen. The rooms are each unique, large, and jaw-dropping, most with ocean views, and the staff makes you feel as if it’s your own private home. If only it were.
MACHU PICCHU SANCTUARY LODGE, PERU
So, I’m dying to see Machu Picchu. I’d stay at any old place there if I had to, but since this is a wish list, I’m picking this hotel–which isn’t any old place. Another Orient Express property, it’s a mountaintop retreat with orchid gardens located right next to an ancient citadel. I mean, c’mon…who couldn’t feel spiritual here?
To be continued….