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 Jan 24 – 28. 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 (15 – 28 Jan.) 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 from January 2018 they will be offering 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 (Hemingways Watamu will re-launch in January 2018 following a multi-million-dollar transformation).  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 will launch, 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. Make the most of Praia Sundy's great opening offer (save € 240 per night on any villa) which is valid from 6th Jan to 25th March...


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, following the successful re-launch of LUX* South Ari Atoll, LUX* Resorts is opening of 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. Our trusty sources tell us that the soon to open Vakkaru Maldives is going to be something special. Located in Baa atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, Vakkaru is a 25 minute seaplane ride away from Male. The island will offer 125 suites and villas, both beach and overwater, and has over 1400 fully grown coconut trees. We also understand hey are offering very good introductory rates, are family friendly and have a great house reef to boot - one to watch. Meanwhile at the soon-to-be re-launched luxury resort Huvafen Fushi, home of the world’s only underwater spa, renowned skincare expert, Teresa Tarmey, has unveiled a brand new residency. From December 2017, guests will be able to experience Teresa Tarmey’s celebrated Signature Facial in the opulent Huvafen Spa treatment rooms situated in the lagoon, eight metres deep in the Indian Ocean. Guests will also have the opportunity to experience the rejuvenating power of Teresa’s own hands in the unique surrounds of Huvafen Spa during one of her periodic visits to the island – the first of which is already confirmed for 29 March – 5 April 2018. Old favourite Soneva Fushi have also announced they will be running Soneva's Wellness Retreats in 2018 - a four-night package (guests can choose between three wellness journeys).

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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 2018 is a great year to explore the country, and its newly popularised park while it still feels like a 'best-kept secret'.

Alice Callander