Discover the future of feel good travel
From ubuntu, Ikigai to spa psychology, we reveal how enriching adventures are driving luxury travel in 2018
Just when we think we've seen everything, our extraordinary world reminds us we're only a drive or a flight away from mind-blowing adventures. Sure, the richest memories can come from the simplest pleasures – but all the better to combine meaningful moments with a next-level place to stay. Ikigai is the new hygge, and finding a sexy design-focused hotel which is also making a positive difference is the holy grail.
In Japanese, 'iki' means life and 'gai' means value, so this term represents finding your purpose. Stay in hotels with a strong ikigai and you'll relax all the more knowing your vacation is paying it forward. Discover intelligent luxury with integrity with Fogo Island Inn in Newfoundland, and find out why this is a hotel with a huge heart.
This remote Canadian 29-suite inn proves that award-winning design is all the more edifying when served with a generous side order of authentic culture and nature in all its rugged glory. Innkeeper Zita Cobb's forward-thinking purpose-before-profit social business has revived a once-fishing-reliant economy through attention-grabbing architecture, hip hyperlocal cuisine and by ripping up the traditional hospitality rulebook.
Fit for a president
Over in French Polynesia, 35-villa Brando is where Pippa Middleton honeymooned – but it's the seawater-powered air-con giving the eco-minded a thrill. The sustainability of this private paradise island is seriously seductive – just ask Barack Obama who recently worked on his memoirs at this resort, which even has an eco-station equipped with laboratories and accommodation for visiting scientists. >>
Meanwhile, Aman can polish its halo for creating a new, seemingly ancient, walled village on the outskirts of Shanghai. Amanyangyun is comprised of precious Ming and Qing Dynasty villas and thousands of camphor trees saved from flooding due to the Liao Fang Reservoir in eastern China.
An Indonesian private island retreat with policies and practices inspiring all is Cempedak in the Riau Archipelago. From Australian banker turned hotelier, Andrew Dixon, and named after the native fruit tree, its commitment to conservation has boosted endangered hawksbill turtle and sea otter populations. The Island Foundation also supports community- based projects centred on social justice, community organisation, micro-finance and entrepreneurialism by working to eliminate poor education, sub-standard healthcare, and fixed local hierarchies.
Grootbos Private Nature Reserve is a botanical paradise, two hours from Cape Town. As well as preserving the critically endangered fynbos heathlands, profits are invested in a foundation which supports environmental and social initiatives. It also exemplifies Ubuntu, Nelson Mandela's beloved South African philosophy which roughly translates as 'human kindness'. A compelling sense of belonging and consideration for the greater good is what more brands are cultivating. Thanks to the growth of a sharing economy and co-working spaces, hotels are also twigging that when they're better connected to their community, the togetherness is not only great for guests, but a boon for business. >>
Ian Schrager, a founding father of the original boutique hotel concept, is proving this with his PUBLIC hotels. On New York's Lower East Side it's all about the social spaces in the Herzog & de Meuron-designed building, just as the name suggests. Even W Hotels' originator Barry Sternlicht has developed a hotel chain with a conscience: 1 Hotels in Miami's South Beach and New York's Central Park and Brooklyn Bridge are hi-tech urban bunk-ups that reconnect you with nature through the upcycled, repurposed, plant- rich interiors and ethical supply chain.
Vacation or 'workation'?
With digital-nomad lifestyles on the up, 'workations' are how on-the-go global citizens are mixing business with pleasure. Swapping Silicon Valley for surf-shack HQs, techpreneurs can now run businesses remotely from bamboo palaces in Bali. And why wouldn't you? With a greater reverence for wellbeing and the pursuit of a more balanced approach to life being paramount, many are trading the rat race for turmeric kombuchas and working on laptops under coconut palms.
Less-mobile high-fliers desperate to recalibrate should seek out the new breed of more intellectual, cerebral and specialist retreats. Corinthia Hotels got into bed with renowned neuroscientist Dr Tara Swart to pioneer psychology-related wellness from their five-star hotel in Whitehall; their spa-event calendar extended her research on the mental resilience of business leaders as part of a series of talks. >>
Learning holidays are going more luxe, and we're opening our minds in drop dead fabulous locations. Move over wishy-washy watercolouring holidays in Bordeaux – take a bow, next-gen escapes with the likes of media mogul Ted Turner as your host. The founder of CNN walks his philanthropic talk though by owning wilderness-protecting ranches across America and Argentina, making his deep connection with nature infectious. Private guides tailor each itinerary to the location and ambitions of the guests, from hiking and biking to heritage tours. Stay at his private seven-bedroom home Casa Grande at Vermejo Park Ranch, or in one of its seven guest lodges, and you'll be fishing and photographing amid short-grass prairie and alpine tundra mountains in the largest privately owned sprawl of land in the States - 590,000 acres of New Mexico, to be precise.
As an antidote to our modern-technology- riddled lives, it's time to prescribe off-the-grid hideaways that are a galaxy away from our home lives of scrolling through smartphones while watching TV. Multi-screening is proven to affect our ability to think deeply and concentrate. Restore equilibrium while meditating at Onar in Greece, a two-hour ferry ride from Athens or switch off at Australia's Lizard Island Resort where its white-sand beaches get zero reception.
Where better to unplug than El Silencio Lodge in Costa Rica? Having a name which means 'silence' in Spanish is a good indication of the tranquillity that awaits as you follow riverside hiking trails through waterfalls. At Vana in Dehradun there's a policy of no phones and no social media at all so you surrender and totally tune into your two-week- minimum stay. And that's worth shouting about.