Quintessentially Travel has seen a lot. The team goes on more exploratory trips than the average travel company, so they’re always able to give firsthand recommendations of the best of the best. Here, they let us know their list of the most standout and memorable places—and experiences—from 2019.
Casa De Uco, Uco Valley, Mendoza, Argentina
Set in the Uco Valley in the wine region of Mendoza, this resort is framed by the Andes mountains and acres of vineyards and is stunning. With only 16 rooms and suites, the experience is incredibly personal. The contemporary design of the hotel incorporates glass walls, allowing for panoramic views of the surroundings, and there is a strong focus on sustainability and preservation. Luxurious finishes ensure the ultimate in comfort and relaxation—plus rates include a winery tour and tasting, as well as a horseback ride through the vineyards.
‘From the moment we arrived, the staff knew our names and made our entire stay feel extremely personalised,’ says Sophie Hughes, Travel Manager. ‘Little touches, such as showing us to our room and going through its various features, or checking what time we prefer to dine in the evening, plus providing us with a takeaway breakfast for our early flight all contributed to making our time so, so enjoyable.’
Kachi Lodge, Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia
‘We were the first UK travel company to stay here,’ says Sam Mullen, Product Director. ‘It is incredibly unique, and unlike anywhere else, we’ve ever been—we will definitely be going again!’
This otherworldly property is built directly on the magical salt flats in Bolivia. Under the watch of a volcano and adjacent to a cacti-cover island, the crystalline landscape appears to go on forever. The luxurious lodge itself is a series of geodesic domes, centred around the main lodge for dining and socialising. The culinary program has been created in collaboration with one of Bolivia’s most celebrated chefs, Gastón Ugalde, and explores local cuisine, wine, and teas.
From sunrise hikes up the volcano, to canoeing during the raining season, or using the telescope at night to look at the stars, the experience is nothing short of transcendental and is genuinely out of this world.
Vatuvara Private Islands, Fiji
This incredible group of islands in Fiji form their own protected reserve and feel entirely off-the-grid. Housing just three luxury villas, a trip to this beautiful part of the world means total and complete seclusion. Each has its own white sand beach, an infinity pool, and is decorated in natural materials. Two full-service restaurants seem to exist solely for your pleasure and feature organic produce grown in their gardens alongside fresh catches from the sea. They offer an array of activities to experience the most of the surroundings on both land and sea.
‘The outstanding natural beauty was unlike anything I’d ever seen before, and all of the staff are so passionate about sustainability. One of the islands, Vatu Varu itself, has no buildings on it and only the guests of the private islands can snorkel or have a picnic there. You get unmatched privacy, as there are only three villas and the hotel even has its own private jet to bring you in from Nadi,’ says Valentina Orselli, Travel Manager.
One&Only Nyungwe House, Gisakura, Western Province Rwanda
Surrounded by rainforest and mountains, this new luxury resort is set amongst tea plantations and is near Lake Kivu on the edge of Nyungwe National Park. The incredible setting is home to the modern African-style property, which has 22 rooms. Personalised service creates the feeling of intimacy, and the serene rooms cultivate relaxation and recuperation following explorations in the forest—as does the spa. Try the Hypoxis Body Wrap, a three-part treatment utilizing the African potato, lauded for it’s anti-inflammatory and immune-strengthening properties.
‘The main attraction here is chimpanzee tracking, but the resort also offers an array of unique activities such as spear throwing, hilltop archery, African tea tasting, and nocturnal wildlife walks. They also have a series of community projects that guests can participate in,’ according to Lily Read, VIP Travel & Partnerships Manager. The delicious restaurant uses vegetables from an onsite garden and celebrates Rwandan cuisine.
Singita Pamushana Lodge, Pamushana Zimbabwe
Set within Malilangwe Wildlife Reserve in southeast Zimbabwe, this beautiful property draws on the tribal history of the region to craft its organic thatched-roof buildings. Uniquely pairing a high-end luxury product with investment in the local community, a stay at Singita is exceptional—ultimately, they are a conservation company with 12 lodges across Africa—this region is home to one of the highest concentrations of endangered black rhinos. Offering many activities, the highlight is the twice-daily game drives, allowing for unparalleled opportunities for guests to see wildlife.
‘What makes the lodge so unique is its exceptional service, from the staff who were so friendly, professional, and knowledgeable about the surroundings and wildlife. Our guide for the three nights had so much passion for the bush, it played an important part in making my first safari experience so special,’ says Eloise Bliss, Travel Executive.
Belmond Cap Juluca, Anguilla
An undeniably glamourous resort, with a prime setting on the perfect white sand beach of Maundays Bay, this Moorish-style property has recently gone under an extensive renovation. Every room is beachfront, and they have private terraces for taking in the lovely bay. Influenced by the colourful souks of Morocco, the property is surrounded by wild botanicals and exotic indigenous plants, blending with old-world design for a truly stunning sanctuary.
Myriad activities make the most of the beautiful surroundings. Try sailing, snorkelling, scuba diving, windsurfing and water skiing; or brush up on your tennis and golf skills. The renovated spa uses natural ingredients, and treatments can be enjoyed beachside.
‘I loved this resort. Offering everything from a vintage food truck to Cip’s by Cipriani to Peruvian cuisine at Maundays Club, the vast array of food and beverage options is imaginative—and delicious. The interiors and styling are beautiful… You can see and feel every inch of the $120M refurbishment,’ Megan Williams, Head of Leisure Servicing & Operations, says.
Atacama Desert, Chile
The driest desert in the world—some weather stations in the Atacama have never registered rain—this mind-blowing destination is reminiscent of a trip to Mars. ‘Once you have adjusted to the altitude—the desert averages 3000m above sea level—there are many activities for exploring. From horse riding in Mars Valley to flamingo viewing to bathing in natural hot springs, each experience is truly memorable,’ says Katie Macdonald, Travel Manager. Because of the altitude and the need to adjust, we recommend visiting for at least five days and planning higher elevation experiences, such as hiking a volcano, for the end of your trip.
Activities can vary based on level of fitness, but one thing everyone can do is experience sunrise at the Valle de la Luna. The famous valley does look like the moon, with reddish colours and salt-crusted peaks, all contrasted against the ultra-bright blue sky. Explora Atacama and Tierra Atacama are both excellent options for places to stay.
Magee Homestead, Wyoming
‘We love a ranch stay, and this luxury boutique property showcases the beauty of the Wyoming landscape at its best,’ says Sam Mullen, Product Director. The Western-style cabins are comfortable and have gorgeous views of the surrounding pastures. The restaurant serves refined rustic cuisine, much of which is grown at their 20,000 sq ft greenhouse, which produces 100,000 lbs of fresh organic produce annually. The onsite bakery and creamery serve treats made on the farm. A cellar offers not only wine tastings and education, but the opportunity to concoct your own cuvée from a selection of base wines, then either leave the wine to age in the cellar or take it home to enjoy.
They offer many activities to make the most of your trip. From ice skating, sledding, and tubing to fly fishing, rock climbing, and archery, there is something for everyone to learn and embrace the Wyoming lifestyle. Additionally, it is a certifiable wellness retreat—relax by the tranquil creek, enjoy the spa, meditate, or practice sun salutations in the yoga yurt. There is also a sauna, steam room, and jacuzzi.