From a remote Himalayan walking itinerary to a luxury cruise through France’s Champagne region, it’s time to ease the pace and take time to truly connect with surroundings as we explore the trend for slow travel
Make the most of the slow travel trend
A rush to the airport, a frenetic flight and a bid to squeeze in as many sights and cities as possible means the chances of returning from your holiday no-less relaxed than when you left is fairly feasible. Slow modes of transport, on the other hand, allows travellers to disconnect from the stresses of daily life and connect more intensely with local places and cultures, returning from holidays refreshed and recharged. With this in mind, Perowne International has handpicked some of the best ways to experience slow travel through wellness, leisurely journeys and off-the-grid offerings. Here are some of the best.
Cruise Through the Picturesque Region of Champagne
Belmond’s five barges are amongst the most luxurious in Europe and offer a relaxing way to explore the rivers and canals of France. The new Belmond Pivoine is a beautifully-appointed barge cruising at a stately pace through the idyllic Champagne region. Guests will cruise past beautiful vineyards and villages while lapping up the barge’s luxurious facilities and amenities. Highlights include an expansive deck with heated swimming pool, marble bathrooms, impeccable service and a chef to whip up fresh and local cuisine.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers an 8-night itinerary aboard the Belmond Pivoine from £9,165 per person. This is based on a party of six travelling together on a full board basis and includes return flights and private transfers throughout. scottdunn.com
Float Through Kerala’s Backwaters on a Traditional Passenger Boat
For many travellers, Kerala is South India’s most serenely beautiful state and the tranquil backwater cruises are a once in a lifetime experience. Historically, the backwaters are used by local people for transport, fishing, and agriculture, so it’s an ideal way for travellers to observe the surrounding culture. The lush green landscape, diverse wildlife, and houses and villages that line the backwaters make a journey along these waterways seem like a journey through another world. Guests can begin their stay at Taj Malabar Resort & Spa where they can meander through the spice garden and indulge in afternoon tea, before checking into the endlessly luxurious 5-star Taj Kumarakom Resort & Spa.
HOW: Rates at Taj Malabar Resort & Spa, Cochin start from £107 per night, Taj Kumarakom Resort & Spa, Kerala from £164 per night and Taj Green Cove Resort & Spa Kovalam, Kerala from £142. tajhotels.com
Ride the Historic Yakada Yaka Train Through Sri Lanka’s Hillside
The very best of Sri Lanka is well within reach of discerning travellers thanks to the addition of five former tea planters’ houses from Teardrop Hotels, opening throughout 2018. Camellia Hills, Goatfell, Pekoe House and Nine Skies are rarely found vintage managers’ bungalows strategically located along the tea country route. In line with the new openings, guests will be able to travel to Nine Skies near Ella by riding the Yakaka Yada or ‘Iron Devil’. One of the world’s most scenic train rides, which has graced the mountains of Sri Lanka since the 1800s, transporting tea and people between Colombo and the hill stations. Teetering on top of the tea-clad mountains, this train weaves its way slowly through some of Sri Lanka’s most incredible landscapes, offering breathtaking views that travellers can’t view from the road.
HOW: Rates at the tea bungalows start from US$495 / approx. £370 per room per night based on double occupancy and on an all-inclusive basis. teardrop-hotels.com
From Venice to Paris Aboard the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express
Guests of Scott Dunn can now combine two of the world’s most romantic cities with an unforgettable overnight journey on the world-famous Venice Simplon-Orient-Express. The trip starts with a stay in the Aman Venice – a beautifully restored former palace, and ends at the brand new Hotel de Crillon on Paris’ Place de la Concorde, with a leisurely and luxury journey in between. The Venice Simplon-Orient Express comprises 17 original vintage cars all with individual characteristics emulating the golden age of travel. Guests will enjoy a delicious three-course lunch on board, as well as an unforgettable black-tie dinner. After appetites are fully satisfied, guests can retire to the comfort of their cabins and marvel at the views as the train travels onward through the spectacular Alps before arriving the following morning into Paris.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers a 7-night itinerary to Venice and Paris from £7,300 per person based on two sharing. This price includes full board on the Orient Express, bed & breakfast in Venice and Paris, flights and private transfers. scottdunn.com
Ride the Most Beautiful Railway in the World Across the Norwegian Fjords
Guests of Scott Dunn can now ride Flåmsbana, otherwise known as the ‘most beautiful railway in the world’, is an unmissable train journey through the spectacular Norwegian fjords. The 20km railway was started in 1924 and finally opened in 1940. The railway has another claim to fame as one of the steepest in the world; almost 80% of the journey has a gradient of 5.5%, transporting passengers on a continuous incline from sea-level at Flåm to the mountain station of Myrdal. As passengers climb the 863 metres to the top, they will encounter colossal views of one of the planet’s most spectacular landscapes made up of verdant mountains, hidden river valleys and tumbling waterways.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers an eight-night adventure to Western Norway from £5,800 per person. This is based on two people sharing staying in luxury accommodation throughout and includes a trip on the Flam Railway, flights and private transfers. scottdunn.com
Experience the Shakti Village Walk Experience
Soothe frazzled city minds with a guided walk through the remote Himalayan society of Ladakh, India. With no motorised transport, no phone signal and travelling at the speed of your own two feet, the Shakti Walking Experience is ideal for travellers looking to slow down and connect with nature. Situated in India’s far north and perched at over 3,500m (11,500ft), Ladakh is often referred to as ‘little Tibet’ and is home to one of the best preserved Tantric Buddhist societies in existence. Staying at Shakti, Ladakh, travellers can experience the ‘Head in the Clouds’ journey as the perfect antidote to the frenetic world that most of us live in, with highlights including silent walks led by mindfulness gurus, a 3km hike to mountain caves chaperoned by a monk.
HOW: Specialist India operator Ampersand Travel (+44 (0)20 7819 9770 // ampersandtravel.com) offers the 16-day Ladakh Village Walk Experience from £9,995 per person. This includes accommodation at the Trident Gurgaon, Delhi, Shakti, Ladakh and The Imperial Hotel, Delhi, international and domestic flights, private transfers and private guiding.
The Royal Train Experience at Cambodia’s Knai Bang Chatt
New for 2018, Knai Bang Chatt in Kep – the most charming boutique retreat on Cambodia’s south coast – has launched a ‘Royal Train Experience’. Here, travellers can now explore this enchanting region by rail as the train pulls out from Phnom Penh station and snakes slowly through shanty housing, before cruising through bright fields of lotus flowers floating on ponds and extensive rice fields lined by sugar palm trees. When disembarked and sufficiently explored in Kampot, guests will stay at hidden unspoilt gem, Knai Bang Chatt – a chic modernist boutique hotel in nearby Kep sur Mer. Here, guests can kick back in the spa or try their hand at yoga and meditation.
HOW: The Royal Train Experience package at Knai Bang Chatt starts from $400 per person and includes: pick up from hotel/location in Phnom Penh, one way train ticket, two nights accommodation in a Garden View room at Knai Bang Chatt, return transfer to Phnom Penh, train picnic including wine, transfer from Kampot station to Knai Bang Chatt, welcome beverage and cold towel upon arrival. knaibangchatt.com
Hike the Hidden Trails of the Amalfi Coast
Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa is a converted 17th-century monastery and one of the most dramatic properties on the Italian coastline. Guests can experience the “Health & Hike” package whilst staying at the hotel – a wellness package incorporating a day’s guided hiking to otherwise unvisitable areas of the spectacular Amalfi coastline, and tailored treatments in one of the finest spas in the region. This package is ideal for walkers of all abilities looking to explore the region and escape the crowds.
HOW: Rates start from €2,490 for three nights in a Sea View Deluxe Room, this is based on two people sharing on a B&B basis and includes a private guided hike, signature arnica spa treatment, tour of the kitchen garden and lunch with the chef monasterosantarosa.com
Castaway Sleep for a Week in the Lunar Landscapes of Oman
Those looking to slow down in style can book an epic wellness escape to one of Six Senses’ most spectacular resorts, the legendary Six Senses Zighy Bay. Located on the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman, guarded by the dramatic Hajar Mountains and fringed by private sandy beach, the spa is the ultimate destination to recharge those batteries. The Sleep with Six Senses programme grants guests a dedicated Sleep Ambassador who will overhaul the way you catch those Zs using impressive sleep tech, specially devised sleep aids and a sleep tracker and app. The data from the app is then used to create a personalised programme of spa treatments and activities to help improve sleep ensuring all guest return home relaxed and refreshed.
HOW: Rates at Six Senses Zighy Bay start from $661 (approx. £471) per night on a B&B basis based on two people sharing in a Pool Villa. Sleep with Six Senses upgrade is priced at €150 (approx. £132) for one guest / €200 (approx. £176) per couple for the first night, then €27 (approx. £24) per guest, per night from the second night onwards. sixsenses.com
Unwind on a Riding Holiday at the Eco-Luxury Finca La Donaira
Guests travelling with Scott Dunn now have the option to experience the one-of-a-kind eco-luxury property, Finca La Donaira – set in the heart of the stunning Andalucian countryside. The boutique nine bedroom property is surrounded by mountains, pastureland and verdant valleys, set on a working farm with vineyards and olive groves. Finca La Donaira’s equestrian centre is a true highlight of the estate, complete with 70 Lusitano horses. Lessons and trails are available for both novice and experienced riders, and the on-site team can tailor multi-day riding programmes should guests wish. Hiking, biking, spa and wellness programmes and trekking in the nearby Sierra de Grazalema National Park are also available for guests looking to truly unwind.
HOW: Scott Dunn offers a 7-night trip to Andalucía from £2,995 per person. This includes 3 nights at La Donaira on a full board basis and 4 nights in a family suite in Finca Cortesin. scottdunn.com