Why do you love to travel?
As the saying goes, ‘once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before’ and that has been by mantra for the past decade. I love planning a trip so that each day there’s a new adventure, whether it’s scouting out a hidden cove in a kayak, hiking up a mountain for a panoramic view or sampling the local delicacies on a food tour. At the end of each year, I love to look back at all the new memories and all the new passport stamps: a year well-travelled is a year well lived.
What is your favourite travel memory?
Flying over the Atlas Mountains in Morocco on a hot air balloon was a sunrise I’ll never forget. Hiking up the 1700m of Mt Batur in Bali before dawn to find myself in thick clouds wasn’t quite the same sunrise, but an equally memorable one! But sometimes the best travel memories are those when you just find yourself in a moment and think wow, how lucky am I to be here. Dog sledding through the snowy wilderness of Swedish Lapland and seeing the glowing lights of Fjellborg Lodge in the forest burn brighter as we approached and being welcomed by fika around the fire was one of those moments.
Which is your favourite country and why?
Without a doubt, Italy has got to be my favourite country. It truly is a country of contrasts. You could wake up for an espresso as the mist lifts over the hills of Tuscany, delve back nearly 2000 years for a lunch time tour of the colosseum in Rome and be having an aperol sundowner overlooking the cascade of colourful buildings along the Amalfi Coast by evening. Coast, countryside and culture. Tick tick tick.
Which is your favourite island and why?
On the verge of sounding like a cliché, it has to be Santorini. There is a reason it is one of the most visited islands in Greece, and if you pick the right villa, you can be away from said crowds and feel like it’s just you on the island. Seeing the sun dip behind the caldera as the day draws to a close and the sunset reflect on the blue domed churches has to be one of the most spectacular sunsets in Europe. And with so many islands a short ferry ride away, you can combine a stay on Santorini with a more secluded island should you wish to have the best of both worlds.
Which is your favourite villa?
Casa Delle Suore in Umbria ticks all the boxes for me. There’s something striking about the way the infinity pool stretches into the distance like it’s trying to reach into the Tuscan hills beyond. Magical evenings can be spent dining under the stars with the only sound being the crackle of the wood burning fire and the aroma of home cooked pizza. Inside, I love the industrial, double height ceiling and the gold, metallic accents that modernize the historical building. It’s strikes the perfect balance of traditional yet contemporary.
Which is your favourite swimming pool?
In warmer climates, my favourite pool has to be at Villa Amala in Corfu. Long enough for some serious laps, a striking infinity edge looking out to sea and a built-in sitting area for watching the sunset over the mountains – you couldn’t want for more. In colder climates, the heated pool at Deplar Farm in Iceland was my most memorable swim. Swimming through the opening in the glass windows out into the December night, with a show of northern lights above casting a light over the dramatic snowy valley beyond was magical. Swimming up to the bar, a mixologist was on hand to create a classic cocktail and built in sunbeds meant we could lay back and admire the aurora in the warmth of the geothermal pool. Truly a pool with a difference!
Where are your recommendations for multi-age families and why?
If you have younger children who love to make new friends and get stuck into all sorts of activities, I recommend picking one of our hotel villas, so you benefit from the privacy of your own villa with the addition of the kid’s clubs on site. The Grand Residence Villa and Presidential Spa Villa in Zakynthos benefit from an incredible kid’s club offering a multitude of fun, from arts and crafts to water sports. I highly recommend many of the Greek islands, which have soft sandy beaches perfect for sandcastle building. Crete is a firm family favourite, with warm weather right up until the October half term, and a stay at the Beach Front Villa offers an exclusive family friendly beach club on your doorstep and a kid’s club at the main hotel.
What are your top travel tips?
1) Pick a location that suits how you want to spend your day. Whether you want to be on the beachfront, in the heart of the countryside or in the heart of the city, we have villas in an array of locations and will help you find the perfect one for you
2) Take a few day trips to get a taste of the region you’re in. Whilst the villas are hard to pull yourself away from, a trip to the caves of Matera during your stay in Puglia, hiring a reggae band to dance the night away in Anguilla or hiking one of the Wainright routes during your Lake District retreat will all be memorable moments
3) Book your restaurants in advance. There’s nothing worse than walking past one of the best, bustling restaurants in St Tropez and there being no tables. Our complimentary concierge service means we can ensure that never happens, making all your reservations in advance
Where is next on your list?
It seems when I tick one destination off the list, I add another two! But the beauty of that means there’s always somewhere new to explore. Next up? Hopefully the Caribbean islands to snorkel with the turtles and paddle board in the big blue.
Your property added to shortlist.