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Travel to the 5 Best Luxury Destinations for 2018Monday 12 March 2018
Travel to the 5 Best Luxury Destinations for 2018 ⇒ Today, we’ll be travelling in Europe, Asia and Oceania. Three very different continents with incredible luxury destinations that you must visit at least once in your life. Fly with us until the magical city of Venice or the sunny Costa Smeralda, both in Italy, bathe in the sun of St Barth, in France, rest in the Australian Hamilton Island or have the time of your life in Macau. Have you booked your vacations for this year? CovetED has selected the 5 luxury destinations for 2018.
– COSTA SMERALDA –
Back in 1962, flamboyant millionaire Karim Aga Khan established a consortium to buy a strip of unspoiled coastline in northeastern Sardinia, in Italy. Each investor paid roughly US$25,000 for a little piece of paradise and the coast was christened Costa Smeralda (or Emerald Coast) for its brilliant green-blue waters. These days, billionaire jet-setters cruise into Costa Smeralda’s marinas in mega-yachts like floating mansions, and models, royals, Russian oligarchs and balding media moguls come to frolic in its waters.
Starting at the Golfo di Cugnana, 17 km north of Olbia, the Costa stretches 55 km northwards to the Golfo di Arzachena. Its “capital” is the yacht haven of Porto Cervo, although Porto Rotondo, a second marina developed in 1963, attracts plenty of paparazzi with its Silvio Berlusconi connections and its attractive seafront promenade. Inland from Costa Smeralda, the mountain communities of San Pantaleo and Arzachena offer a low-key counterpoint to the coastline’s glitz and glamour.
– HAMILTON ISLAND –
Welcome to Hamilton Island a little slice of resort paradise where the paved roads are plied with golf buggies, steep rocky hills are crisscrossed by walking trails and the white beaches are buzzing with water-sports action. Though it’s not everyone’s idea of a perfect getaway, it’s hard not to be impressed by the selection of high-end accommodation, restaurants, bars and activities.
Day-trippers can use some resort facilities – including tennis courts, a golf driving range and a minigolf course. A few shops by the harbour organise dives and certificate courses and just about everyone can sign you up for a variety of cruises to other islands and the outer reef. If you only have time for one walk, make it the clamber up to Passage Peak (239m) on the northeastern corner of the island.
– MACAU –
Best known globally as the “Vegas of China”, the Macau Special Administrative Region is indeed a mecca of gambling and glitz. But the city is so much more than that. A Portuguese colony for more than 300 years, it is a city of blended cultures. Ancient Chinese temples sit on streets paved with traditional Portuguese tiles. The sound of Cantonese fills the air on the streets with Portuguese names. You can eat Chinese congee for breakfast, enjoy a Portuguese lunch of caldo verde soup and bacalhau (cod) fritters, and dine on hybrid Macanese fare such as minchi (ground beef or pork, often served over rice).
The Macau Peninsula holds the old city centre, where colonial ruins sit next to arty new boutiques. Further south, there are the conjoined islands of Taipa, Cotai and Coloane. Taipa has gloriously preserved Macanese architecture, Cotai is home to the new megacasinos and Coloane is lined with colonial villages and pretty beaches.
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In the treasure-packed Caribbean, St Barthélemy (or, as it’s widely known, St Barth) is a multifaceted jewel. This exquisite island blends French urban flair with a lush tropical landscape of soaring mountains, isolated stretches of sun-soaked, powder-soft sand, windswept cliffs, scrubby green hills, flowering gardens filled with bougainvillaea, hibiscus and fragrant frangipanis, and turquoise bays dotted with myriad sailboats.
With such a dreamlike setting, St Barth is, unsurprisingly, a destination of choice for the rich, famous and beautiful for its laid-back tempo, luxurious small-scale hotels, designer-label boutiques and outstanding restaurants. But although St Barth is undeniably an expensive destination, all beaches are accessible, public and free, and activities such as surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, sailing, diving and snorkelling are all possible here. If you visit outside of high season, you can score fantastic accommodation deals.
Imagine the audacity of building a city of marble palaces on a lagoon. And that was only the start. There never was a path so aptly named as the Grand Canal, reflecting the glories of Venetian architecture lining its banks. At the end of Venice’s signature waterway, the Palazzo Ducale and the Basilica di San Marco add double enthusiasm. But wait until you see what’s hiding in the narrow backstreets: neighbourhood churches lined with Veronese and priceless marbles, Tiepolo’s glimpses of heaven on homeless-shelter ceilings and a single Titian painting that mysteriously lights up an entire basilica. Garden islands and lagoon aquaculture yield speciality produce and seafood you won’t find elsewhere. All highlighted in inventive Venetian cuisine, with tantalising traces of ancient spice routes. The city knows how to put on a royal spread, as France’s King Henry III once found out when faced with 1200 dishes and 200 bonbons. Today, such feasts are available in miniature at happy hour, when bars mount lavish spreads of cicheti (Venetian tapas). Save room and time for a proper sit-down Venetian meal, with lagoon seafood to match views at canalside bistros and toasts with Veneto’s signature bubbly, prosecco.
Pity the day trippers dropped off at San Marco with a mere three hours to take in Venice. That’s about enough time for one long gasp at the show-stopper that is Piazza San Marco, but not nearly enough time to see what else Venice is hiding. Stay longer in this fairy-tale city and you’ll discover the pleasures of la bella vita (the beautiful life) that only locals know: the wake-up call of gondoliers yelling, a morning spritz in a sunny campi (square), lunch in a crowded bacaro (bar) with friends and fuschia-pink sunsets that have sent centuries of artists mad. Eyeglasses, platform shoes and uncorseted dresses are outlandish Venetian fashions that critics sniffed would never be worn by respectable Europeans. Venetians are used to setting trends, whether it be with controversial artwork in the Punta della Dogana, racy operas at La Fenice or radical new art at the Biennale. On a smaller scale, this unconventional creative streak finds vibrant expression in the showrooms of local artisans where you can find custom-made red-carpet shoes, purses fashioned from silk-screened velvet and glass jewels brighter than semi-precious stones. In a world of cookie-cutter culture, Venice’s originality still stands out.
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