In each issue of Days Like This, three Scott Dunn experts will craft three very different tailor-made solutions to a real travel brief

The Challenge

“My husband and I got married 30 years ago when we didn’t really have the time or the money for a proper honeymoon. Now, with the youngest of our children off to university, we’d like to celebrate our anniversary in style. Wherever we stay has to feel special and luxurious, but we’re keen to avoid the traditional honeymoon destinations. We’ve got at least three weeks to spend, so it needs to be somewhere with plenty to do and discover, but where we can also really wind down. Where would you suggest?”

1. Canada
Wilderness camping and thrilling nature in Canada

You can go dolphin- and whale-watching, and even have a helicopter drop you at the tip of a glacier for lunch

A lot of people don’t have Canada on their radar. Incredible really, as it’s got everything: cities, wilderness, mountains, beaches. There are some wonderfully romantic spots, and the accommodation and service you find are some of the best in the world.

You’d fly from Heathrow straight into Vancouver, and stay at the beautiful Rosewood Hotel Georgia. It’s right in the centre of the city, and the rooms have been renovated really nicely. It’s a bit old-school New York in style, with lots of dark wood and luxurious touches – the perfect place to relax for a few days before picking up a car and driving the Sea to Sky Highway to Whistler.

This two-hour drive takes you on a stunning route through Stanley Park and right into the heart of the mountains, to your next stop, Nita Lake Lodge. With beautiful views of the lake and plenty of nice shops and restaurants, you’re just a half-hour walk from Whistler village, which can a bit busy and overwhelming to stay in itself.

There’s so much to do here, like taking a peaceful cable car between the peaks. It’s also a hub for really high-end restaurants, and you can enjoy some excellent seafood.

After Whistler you’d take the car back to Vancouver, before flying up to Port Hardy and taking a seaplane to Nimmo Bay. It’s a beautiful 15-minute flight, where you can often see pods of dolphins right underneath you.

Here you’d stay four nights at the wilderness camp. There are just nine private cabins on the island, some of which are built on the shore and some out into the water. In the daytime you can see black bears, and there are grizzlies in September. You can also go dolphin- and whale-watching, and even have a helicopter drop you off on the tip of a glacier for lunch. In the evening, guests gather round a campfire on the beach and are served wine and canapés.

Your last stop is Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Here you’d stay at the stunning Wickaninnish Inn, which is right on the rocks and overlooks the Pacific Ocean. You’ll find particularly dramatic weather here – in fact, storm-hunters hunker down each year to watch the lightning and the waves crashing down on the shore. Chesterman Beach arcs off to one side of the hotel, and it’s a lovely spot to really wind down and enjoy your last few days, including the most incredible sunsets.

2. New Zealand
Winelands and wildlife Down Under

Walk through spectacular bush habitats, camp under the stars, and watch emus strut at dusk

Make the most of this time together and head to New Zealand and Australia. You can really indulge your sense of adventure here without compromising on comfort.

You’d fly to Auckland and head south to the lakes and forests of the Taupo region. You could take a helicopter over to volcanic White Island, or unwind with a round of golf on your front doorstep, while staying at Kinloch Lodge.

Next, it’s two nights in the Wairarapa Valley. As well as numerous wineries, there’s the wild coast of Cape Palliser, home to seal colonies and the Putangirua Pinnacles – all of which can be explored from the comfort of Wharekauhau Lodge and Estate.

The South Island beckons, with three nights at the Sounds Retreat. This hidden gem is by the famous Queen Charlotte Track, which you can hike or cycle, and you can also kayak on the glorious blue waters.

Next, you’d relax at Annandale on the spectacular Banks Peninsula and stay at Seascape, an ultra-modern retreat on a private bay. If you take to the water you could discover Hector’s dolphins and fur seals.

Your final stop in New Zealand would be Minaret Station, a tented camp in the mountains that’s only accessible by helicopter. You can explore the wild west coast, the incredible landscapes of Fiordland and the pristine glacier fields, then it’s across the Tasman Sea to Australia.

After the lush green valleys of New Zealand, the red earth and vast skies of the outback are a wonderful contrast. For the first three nights, you’d stay at Arkaba Station, a typical Australian homestead set in the beautiful Flinders Ranges of the South Australian outback. You could take a flight over the natural amphitheatre of Wilpena Pound, walk through spectacular bush habitats and camp under the stars, or simply watch the emus strut through the paddocks at dusk.

From here it’s just a short flight over to your final destination, Kangaroo Island, which is known as “Australia’s Galapagos”. Blessed with unspoilt beaches and wild forests, you’ll see kangaroos, wallabies, koalas and echidnas in their natural habitat, and discover seals and penguins along the wild coasts. This landscape is home to Southern Ocean Lodge, a stylish property perched on a clifftop. With views out across the ocean to the waves and whales beyond, and exceptional food and drink, it’s hard to imagine a more romantic location in which to end to this remarkable adventure.

 

 


 

3. Northern Italy
Gourmet cuisine among sparkling Italian lakes

Villa Cordevigo is set in its own vineyard, and you can enjoy wine tasting beneath the old chapel

Northern Italy is one of those places that really appeals to second honeymooners. It’s a bit more laid-back and interesting than somewhere like Amalfi, and Lakes Como and Garda are often on people’s bucket lists. I’d suggest a driving trip in a classic Italian car like a vintage Alfa Romeo – two weeks is long enough to really explore without feeling like you’re just heading from place to place, and after 30 years together you should have worked out who’s best at navigating! Plus, with the Swiss and French influences in this area, you won’t struggle to find amazing food to feast on. 

You’d fly straight into Verona from Gatwick, and spend a couple of nights at the Palazzo Victoria. The suites here are full of beautiful frescos and antiques, and we could book you a ticket for the opera at the famous Verona arena on your second evening. There are different performances on every night, so if you’re particularly keen to see Romeo and Juliet or Tosca, you’ll probably be in luck.

From here it’s just 30 minutes to the eastern shore of Lake Garda. People always want to be lakeside, but honestly the best hotel is the Villa Cordevigo, which is set in its own vineyard. Here you can eat Michelin-starred food, and enjoy wine tasting beneath the old chapel, and you can still do Garda in style. We’d arrange your own private boat trip across the lake to the impressive Villa Feltrinelli hotel for lunch, where you could have a fun game of croquet on the lawn before heading back.

After several nights you’d pick up your classic MG or Alfa Romeo, and then it’s a three-hour drive to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo on the shore of Lake Como. The hotel is an iconic building that houses an incredible spa, the lake-edge ‘water-on-water’ pool, a beach club, a pizzeria and a bizarre but brilliant fondue restaurant (Swiss and Italian cuisines overlapping nicely!). There are also lots of lovely day trips to do from here, including taking the scenic train journey up to Locarno for lunch or a visit to the castle at Vezio, a medieval Roman castle that’s steeped in history, with daily falconry displays.

Five nights here is a good amount of time, and then it’s a four-hour drive to your final stop, the Hotel Splendido in Portofino. The hotel has amazing views of the harbour, and Portofino is the perfect place to finish your trip. The town oozes glamour while still being charming and romantic. Four nights here round the trip off nicely giving you ample time for pottering around, relaxing and of course taking in a walking tour around the five picturesque villages that make up Cinque Terre.

If you would like to submit your travel challenge to our team email us your brief thechallenge@dayslikethismagazine.com

 


 

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The Challenge

Issue 3 · Winter 2015/16

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