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March 2006


A classic schooner, a converted abbey in Burgundy, low-key luxury on the Yucatan coast and a new concept in villas - there are thousands of new places to stay in 2006, but here are four you won't want to miss.

A classic schooner, a converted abbey in Burgundy, low-key luxury on the Yucatan coast and a new concept in villas - there are thousands of new places to stay in 2006, but here are four you won't want to miss.

There are a host of idyllic little islands anchored in the Indian Ocean off the coasts of Tanzania and Mozambique - but until recently, they've remained inaccessible and unexplored.
Now, Audley Travel has come up with the perfect way to reach them - by chartering Midsummer, a classic 33m sailing schooner. Built in 1910 and immaculately refitted and maintained, Midsummer sleeps six in ensuite, air-conditioned cabins and has a crew of six who'll arrange dhow sailing and diving trips, deep-sea fishing and cultural visits ashore. Alternatively, you can moor off deserted beaches, or within exploring distance of remote fishing villages and ruined Swahili cities. Sailing south from Tanzania's Dar es Salaam, your first port-of-call, Mafia Island, has a sprinkling of luxury lodges and superb beaches for picnics and swimming, while next stop, Songa Songa Island, has no lodges but lots of turtles. More turtles and humpbacked whales swim off Mozambique's northern Querimbas islands, which are also on the itinerary. And there's the swanky island-resort of Vazimi, with a clutch of deluxe cottages and sparkling beaches.

The likes of Hugh Grant, Colin Firth and Morgan Freeman have all holed up in Amberley Castle in Sussex, a Relais & Chateaux destination recently voted one of the top 20 leisure hotels in the world. Maybe they'll now hop over the Channel to sign the address book of its young sibling, the Abbaye de la Bussiere near Beaune in Burgundy, brought to you by Amberely's owners Martin and Joy Cummings.

Similarities between the two hotels are almost spooky. Both were founded in 1103 by English clerics: Amberley belonged to the church for 435 years until the dissolution of the monasteries in England, while the Abbey lasted another 251 years until the French Revolution. And both hotels were once hunting lodges. Wine buffs with love la Bussiere - on the doorstep are famous vineyards producing some of the finest vintages in France, including Gevrey-Chambertin, Mersault, Puligny-Montreachet and Pommard.

The skyscrapers and shopping malls of high rise Cancun are firmly on the beaten track for tourists. But for less of a cityscape, head 40 miles south to the former fishing village Playa del Carmen where you can flop out on palm-fringed beaches, snorkel on a beautiful reef, chill out at the Blue Parrot - the hippest of its boutique inns and bars - and gently bargain for T-shirts, handicrafts and, of course, that Mexican hat you simply cannot live without. Scheduled and exclusive, yet only 15 minutes from Playa del Carmen's action, the Fairmont Mayakoba Hotel, opening next month, is all set to make waves on the Yucatan Coast. Wrapped around by crystal-clear waterways and a powder-soft beach, its 397 rooms are in low-rise casitas scattered under a lush forest canopy. To protect the area's fragile ecology, guests can cycle around or be ferried to-and-fro by electric cart or motor launch. You can also ramble along nature trails that traverse the landscaped estate, which also includes tennis courts, a 10,000 sq ft free-form pool with a swim-up bar, and an 18-hole golf course designed by Greg Norman.

The Willow Stream Spa draws on Mayan-inspired healing rituals in its treetop treatment rooms, while for days out, the ancient and wondrous Mayan cities of Tulum and Chichen Itza are within a couple of hours' drive of the hotel.
First they gave us hamburgers and Hollywood, now our Transatlantic cousins have exported their latest holiday concept - luxury private villas offering the services of a five-star hotel. Guests at the US-owned company Villazzo's properties can expect to find fully stocked wine cellars, computers or laptops, flowers, fruit and newspapers - even a humidor - as well as housekeeping twice daily and a concierge who can book anything from restaurants to helicopter flights.

And as if that wasn't enough, the Villa Enola near Marbella on the Costa del Sol comes with a gourmet chef's kitchen, a cinema, a Bang & Olufsen music system and panoramic views of the Med and North Africa. Offering the best of both worlds - now there's an idea that just might catch on…


    Midsummer voyage
    Prices start at ₤3,670 per person for 13 nights (based on four sharing),
    including flights, transfers, full board at the Fumba Beach Hotel in Zanzibar
    From Audley Travel, tel: 01869-27650;

    L'Abbaye de la Bussiere
    B7B per person per night starts at €220 (₤151).
    Book direct at Abbaye de la Bussiere, tel: 00 33 (0)3 8049 0229

    The Fairmont Mayakoba
    Seven nights, including flights and transfers, start at ₤1,515 per person.
    From ITC Classics, tel: 01244-355527,

    Villa Enola
    Sleeping up to ten, the villa costs €36,000 (₤24,700) per week.
    From Villazzo, tel: 00 1 (305) 777 0146;

For further information:

Corporate Contact
Villazzo, LLC
Christian Jagodzinski
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