It’s peak season for sunshine and beach getaways in the Maldives, where there are some fabulous new resort openings, and Sri Lanka, where the Galle Literary festival will be taking place from 16 - 20 Jan 2019. The weather is perfect for an art, food and wine safari in South Africa’s Western Cape (don't miss Africa's 'Tate Modern' in Cape Town, the Zeitz MOCAA Museum of Contemporary Art Africa) and it's a lovely time of year to explore the beaches, desert and mountains of Oman. The Summer season is in full swing in southern Australia where the Australian Open takes place in Alice’s home city, Melbourne (14 - 27 Jan 2019.) In Kenya it's a great time for safari in both the Maasai Mara and beyond (Lewa Wilderness is home to the only two open cockpit WACO Bi-Planes in East Africa and offer some incredible flying experiences). It's also a good time for diving on the Kenyan coast with excellent sea visibility ahead of the rains in late March/April.  But perhaps the most exciting travel destination on our radar for this month is Sao Tome and Príncipe, the 'Galapagos of Africa'...


Príncipe Island is the smaller of the two islands making up the country of Sao Tome and Príncipe. Sheer volcanic peaks rising out of the ocean, densely forested vegetation, secluded bays and beaches, and a high density of endemic species, make this island a planet in miniature, often referred to as the 'Galapagos of Africa'. We were therefore thrilled when the Classic Portfolio team introduced Sundy Príncipe as a brand new member, comprising of two experiences. In late December 2017 Praia Sundy launched a stunning tented villa lodge on a secluded beach surrounded by tropical rainforest. However the true essence of Príncipe can be discovered at Roça Sunday - the farm. Roça is a celebration of the life, people and history of Príncipe. It is the perfect location from which to explore the island and the UNESCO declared Biosphere Reserve on Príncipe where you climb volcanic mountains and discover rare and endemic bird, wildlife and plant species.


We can barely keep up with all the new resort openings in the Maldives. 2017 was all about the much acclaimed Soneva Jani with it supersized over-water villas, and the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort which made waves with its imaginative design. This year has all been about JOALI on Muravandhoo Island, Raas Atoll - a chic family option offering a stellar selection of child-friendly amenities and activities, such as a treehouse, spa for kids, junior cookery school and ice-cream shop, plus treasure hunts and native storytelling sessions around a campfire. The smallest accommodation option sleeps three; some villas come with two pools and theres’s one four-bedroom beach duplex. Adults will appreciate the four restaurants (including one serving freshly caught Japanese-Peruvian fare), a whisky lounge, ESPA spa, flower garden and artist’s studio and gallery. Activities include dhoni excursions, waterskiing, snorkelling and diving. In early 2019, following the successful re-launch of LUX* South Ari Atoll, LUX* Resorts will open its second resort, LUX* North Malé Atoll. Blessed with a pristine reef teeming with sea life and just a short transfer from Malé by luxury speedboat, LUX* North Malé Atoll will disrupt the mould by replacing traditional thatched villas with over-sized, penthouse residences.

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For a crowd-free safari experience in January, Liuwa Plains National Park in Zambia is the place to go. Africa's second biggest wildebeest migration passes through the park, so it offers a great opportunity to witness the magic without being surrounded by dozens of other safari vehicles. Since African Parks took over the management of the park in 2003, there has also been a steady rise in the lion and cheetah population and a decrease in illegal poaching.  The opening of Time + Tide's King Lewanika Lodge in 2017 gave Liuwa Plains its first ultra-luxury property, so now is a great year to explore the country, and its newly popularised park while it still feels like a 'best-kept secret'.

Alice Callander