The Sabi Sabi Lodges are located on a private concession in the Sabi Sand Game Reserve. This private reserve has been offering amazing safari encounters for 35 years. Clients also have a choice of four very different and luxurious accommodation options. They have a romantic, vintage feel at Selati Camp. The truly traditional feel of today at Bush Lodge. The more intimate Little Bush Lodge and Earth Lodge symbolize a new era of lodges for South Africa! A stay at any one of these lodges will offer superb, personalized service with a phenomenal close-up encounter.
Suite Exterior | Photo Credit: Sabi Sabi Little Bush Camp
Fire Pit | Photo Credit: Sabi Sabi Earth Lodge
Tintswalo Safari Lodge is located in the Manyeleti Game Reserve. This little gem offers guests totally luxury in a magical setting. Each of the suites has a different African explorer theme bringing in a colonial feel with an extra touch of elegance. Guests are often treated to a view of elephants wandering into camp for a drink of water. You can even have an elephant visit during lunch or tea!
Safaris are a major part of any itinerary to South Africa, therefore, it is important that visitors understand they are watching wild animals. Rangers will always give you a briefing before heading out on your first game drive, so be sure to listen and adhere to their guidelines!
Never call out to the animals to attract their attention and remain seated at all times.
It is always a good idea to take a small backpack to keep your camera, sunscreen, bug spray and other essentials.
Always listen to your rangers!
No visit to Cape Town is complete without a trip on the Cable Car to the top of Table Mountain. Try to visit first thing in the morning and always check to see if the cable car is running as the weather could affect this. Since it can get windy at the top, be sure to bring some type of jacket. And don’t forget your camera – the photo opportunities are excellent!
Howzit! I was born in Durban (South Africa), where I started my travel career in 1998. I worked for one of the largest Inbound Tour Operators in Southern Africa before moving to North America in 2006 to work for Swain Destinations. Apart from traveling, I love getting to know people from different walks of life and learning about history and cultures.
Insider Tips for South Africa was last modified: July 2nd, 2018 by Anne Ferguson
The Langham Sydney is tucked away in a residential area in the historic Rocks district. Just minutes from the hustle and bustle of Sydney Harbour, this charming hotel has a residential feel. It is a tranquil oasis after a busy day of sightseeing. I especially love that each of the 98 rooms and suites is decorated in an elegant and classic style. Each room overlooks the Western Harbour or the city. You can treat yourself at the wonderful Spa by Chuan. Also, you can enjoy the beautiful indoor heated pool with its star-covered ceiling – a Sydney icon! A favorite of mine is afternoon tea with Wedgwood in the Palm Court. You certainly don’t want to miss this indulgent experience!
Grand Langham Room | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney
Afternoon Tea | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney
Pool | Photo Credit: The Langham, Sydney
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Wolgan Valley | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley is a conservation-based resort set in a 7,000-acre nature reserve in the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains area. The resort is an easy three-hour drive or a 45-minute helicopter flight from Sydney. A stay at Wolgan gives a unique opportunity to explore the Australian bush in style, with superb accommodation and outstanding food and wine!
One of the highlights of this property are the charming individual villas. These villas are complete with a double fire place and each with their own plunge pool and veranda allowing for beautiful views over the valley. Above all, there is never a lack of things to do! Activities range from 4WD adventures that allow you to spot local wildlife to colonial heritage tours and stargazing. The spa at Wolgan Valley is outstanding, but I would recommend pre-booking any treatments. A stay at Wolgan Valley is the quintessential Australian experience. It is one of my favorite places in New South Wales for a relaxing, authentic adventure in understated luxury.
Horses | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Picnic | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
Wildlife Drive | Photo Credit: Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley
The Byron at Byron Bay Resort and Spa
Exterior | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay
The Byron at Byron Bay Resort and Spa sits in a coastal rainforest, minutes from a stunning beach and coastline. The resort has a casual, laid-back yet elegant vibe. Dining at the Byron at Byron Bay is a true fine dining experience where you will enjoy fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced food in the restaurant overlooking the rainforest. The comfortable suites are located within the sub-tropical rainforests with screened in porches and spacious living areas.
Complimentary yoga classes are offered, and the multi-award-winning spa is definitely worth a visit! You can visit the gym, tennis courts or go on a guided walk through the rainforest – this resort certainly has something for every traveler! Also, the resort has a complimentary shuttle to take you to the center of Byron Bay, a beachside town with a quirky style and a thriving food scene. The Byron at Byron Bay is an oasis of tranquility where you can enjoy wonderful hospitality!
Deluxe Spa Suite | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay
Infinity Pool | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay
The Restaurant | Photo Credit: The Byron at Byron Bay
Four Seasons Hotel Sydney is a luxury hotel in the center of Sydney. The hotel is resides between the cobblestone laneways of The Rocks, the ferry wharves of Circular Quay and the bustling business district. Because of its views over Sydney Harbour and iconic landmarks, the hotel is the perfect place to stay for your next luxury trip to Sydney.
Lounge | Photo Credit: Four Seasons Image Gallery
Center of Sydney
Situated in the heart of Sydney, the Fours Seasons Hotel’s interior matches the vibrancy of the city itself. The hotel offers 531 rooms and suites decorated in a luxurious contemporary style. Due to the hotel’s location, you can look out your window and see the sunrise over the Royal Botanic Gardens or the Sydney Opera House. There are 5 different types of rooms, but each offers a level of extravagance that surpasses expectations.
Also within the hotel, you will find a gym and a spa offering complimentary workout gear, water and a sauna room. Among the 6 treatment rooms the spa offers, you are able to enjoy a range of all-Australian treatments. The hotel offers Sydney’s largest heated outdoor pool in a triangular shape!
Lobby | Photo Credit: Four Seasons Image Gallery
Living Space | Photo Credit: Four Seasons Image Gallery
Bathroom | Photo Credit: Four Seasons Image Gallery
Bedroom | Photo Credit: Four Seasons Image Gallery
Although there is much to do within the hotel’s walls, Sydney offers endless opportunities to experience the famous city. Venture to the markets in the center of the Pacific Rim to explore the world’s third largest fish market. Then, discover numerous places to enjoy food, fashion and fun at The Rocks Markets.
If you’re more of an adventure seeker, sign up to scale new heights on the BridgeClimb where you will climb to the top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge! Just a short walk from the hotel, you can time your climb to take place during the day or at night, twilight or dawn. You could also hang ten at Australia’s famous Bondi Beach. For the more relaxed traveler, experience a night at the famed Sydney Opera House. Not an opera fan? Not a problem! The Sydney Opera House is also home to the Australian Ballet and Sydney’s Dance and Theatre companies. Can’t find a show that peaks your interest? Just take a tour of the opera house then lounge at “the best beer garden in the world” known as the waterfront Opera Kitchen and Opera Bar.
Sydney Harbour Bridge | Photo Credit: BridgeClimb Sydney
Bondi Beach | Photo Credit: Destination Tourism Australia
Sydney Opera House | Photo Credit: Destination Tourism Australia
Sydney’s Foodie Scene
Since Sydney is located on the harbour, waterfront dining is a beloved activity around Sydney. If you love seafood, take a quick flight to Palm Beach and grab a bite at Doyles on Watsons Bay. This spot is one of Australia’s oldest seafood restaurants. Alternatively, you could stay local and enjoy a quick bite and a drink at the Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney’s bar GRAIN. GRAIN celebrates the fine craft of drinking with a neighborhood bar atmosphere.
GRAIN | Photo Credit: Four Seasons Image Gallery
New to the Four Seasons Hotel, Sydney is Mode Kitchen & Bar. This latest addition to the Sydney dining scene is a celebration of seasonal cooking, classic cocktails and polished service in a welcoming 1920s-inspired setting. The menu focuses on flavor and technique, using seasonal ingredients sourced from only the best producers. Also, there is an extensive wine menu focuses on Australian wines alongside the best from the rest of the world. Mode Kitchen & Bar is the perfect place for the foodie traveler to experience fine dining in Sydney.
Entrance | Photo Credit: Mode Kitchen & Bar
Cuisine | Photo Credit: Mode Kitchen & Bar
Explore Australia’s oldest wine region located just 2 hours outside of Sydney. The Hunter Valley offers door-to-door tours beginning in the early morning and ending around dinner. These tours include lunch, private visits to several wineries, cheese tasting and a chance to gift shop. A relaxed wine tour is perfect for a food fanatic.
Wine Spread | Photo Credit: Mount’N Beach Safaris
The Hunter Valley | Photo Credit: Mount’N Beach Safaris
531 rooms and suites elegantly decorated in a contemporary style
Views of the Royal Botanic Garden, Sydney Harbour and Sydney Opera House
Two-line telephones, data port/modern hookup, high-speed Internet access and a large safe
Fitness facilities with complimentary water, use of workout gear and locker rooms
Sydney’s largest outdoor heated pool with Cabana restaurant
Spa with 6 treatment rooms offering a range of all-Australian treatments
Center of Sydney – Four Seasons Hotel was last modified: May 23rd, 2018 by Swain Destinations
For most travelers who dream of one day exploring New Zealand’s landscapes, their thoughts likely drift toward the mountain peaks, glacial rivers, blue alpine lakes, and the black sand beaches boarded by frigid seas. Many parts of both the North and South Island country do contain these wonders; however, there’s a mellower side to the land that is less visited but no less beautiful known as the Bay of Islands.
Bay of Islands | Photo Credit: TIME Unlimited Tours
The Bay of Islands is known to the Kiwis as the “winterless North.” This sub-tropical region found at the very top of the North Island rarely sees temperatures dip below 60 degrees, even in winter. In the summertime, highs hover between 72-80 degrees. Few places take advantage of this temperate region’s wonderful geography as well as the luxury lodge Helena Bay. I was lucky enough to visit Helena Bay in May of 2017 with a group of fellow travel professionals. To say I was wowed is a true understatement.
Exterior | Photo Credit: Helena Bay Lodge
Situated 40 kilometers north of the town of Whangarei, Helena Bay is located next to the sea. It is only a 45-minute helicopter flight from the capital city of Auckland. The lodge’s five waterfront suites are the perfect location for soaking in the scenery. Also, there is access to an array of aquatic adventures including stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, swimming, and small craft boating. During my stay, I chose the time I wanted to go paddle boarding and was then met by an employee on the beach. My board was on the sand and a paddle was pre-set to my size. The opportunity to paddle the waters and take in the surrounding green hills from the solitude of the sea felt like New Zealand truly personified.
Pool | Photo Credit: Helena Bay Lodge
Lounge Area | Photo Credit: Helena Bay Lodge
Cattle | Photo Credit: Helena Bay Lodge
So Much To Do
The opportunities for fun on land were no less abundant and our group made good work of the lodge’s many options for exploring the property’s 800 acres. Before Helena Bay was turned into the picture of luxury for travelers, it was a sheep farm. Today, cattle are raised on the property and the lodge keeps miniature donkeys, alpacas, and chickens as pets for the guests to enjoy. A quick ride on the electric all-terrain vehicles delivered us among the farm life. Later in my stay, I opted to go off-the-beaten path via a mountain bike. I had a blast climbing hills and visiting secret beaches all to myself. Although they offer many outdoor activities, if the weather is poor, the fully equipped indoor gym, heated lap pool, sauna, and steam room should keep the active crowd satisfied.
Paddle Boarding | Photo Credit: Helena Bay Lodge
Kayaks | Photo Credit: Helena Bay Lodge
Biking | Photo Credit: Jayson Repko
Finally, I have to mention the food. Michelin-starred Ristorante Don Alfonso of Southern Italy operates in Helena Bay. The philosophy is respecting the local food culture while incorporating the age-old traditions of the Sorrento Peninsula and Amalfi Coast. A good deal of the produce we found on our plates for each meal is grown on-site. We had farm fresh eggs at breakfast each morning. The staff and overall experience our group found at Helena Bay was second to none.
Dinner | Photo Credit: Helena Bay Lodge
New Zealand Cuisine | Photo Credit: Jayson Repko
Dessert | Photo Credit: Jayson Repko
As New Zealand’s newest luxury lodge, Helena Bay is still under the radar. However, with the unrivaled Kiwi experience offered, it won’t be long before the waiting list fills up quickly.
I’m am East Coast native (Philadelphia) who relocated to sunny Southern California. Growing up I was lucky enough to visit all over the United States with my family going on snowboarding trips along with excursions to some America’s best beaches. After a trip to Costa Rica I was hooked on international travel and have since visited ten additional countries including New Zealand and the Cook Islands and I can’t wait to add many more. I’ve worked in the travel industry for six years now, starting with Home Exchange before moving to become the Marketing and Sales Manager for the Cook Islands Tourism Board’s North American Office. I’m thrilled to be a part of the Swain Destinations Team as the Relationships Manager for American Express Travel.
New Zealand’s Sub-Tropical Paradise was last modified: September 7th, 2017 by Jayson Repko
Located 17 miles off the Queensland coast, Lizard Island Luxury Resort is the premier accommodation for experiencing the Great Barrier Reef. Being a resort on one of the world’s natural wonders, it’s the only accommodation promising coveted reef encounters and seclusion. Lizard Island offers direct access to the fringing reef, with vibrant snorkeling and scuba diving just a short boat ride away. The complimentary activities, crisp Scandinavian décor, and top-notch cuisine make Lizard Island an idyllic paradise and a must for those seeking beauty, relaxation, and luxury.
Beach | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
A 60-minute flight from Cairns transports you to heaven on earth. Meanwhile, guests have a prime view of the turquoise waters and sprawling reef formations below. The runway is so close that it only takes a few minutes to reach the check-in desk. Within a half hour of landing, you can hop into the water and snorkel with giant clams and colorful fish.
Diving | Photo Credit: Tourism Queensland
The untouched nature surrounding the property creates an instantly relaxing environment. You’ll see the spider lilies that line the wooden walkways, and watch blissful butterflies and birds drift by. Then, approach the understated elegance of the 40 suites and villas, decorated with homey furniture, and a palette based on whites and creams, soft browns, and muted blues. The large glass sliding doors allow the natural environment outside to extend inside. Actually quite literally…I stumbled upon a lizard in my suite!
With direct beach access, a spacious deck, and a cozy King-size day bed, the Beachfront Suite is my personal favorite room category. Finally, end the evening relaxing on the day bed with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc in hand, watching the sunset over Anchor Bay.
Beachfront Suite | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
Living Room | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
Bathroom | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
Patio | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
Lizard Island Cuisine
Salt Water is the only restaurant on site, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The laid back eatery has views of the Coral Sea and the palm trees. All meals are incredibly fresh and focus on the island’s local resources. First, start with a plentiful breakfast including tropical fruits like dragon fruit and star fruit, as well as staple items such as eggs, bread, and house-made honey yogurt. Then, finish off with dinner that varies daily. The menu highlights the catch of the day, with a modern Australian flare and Asian fusion.
Seafood Dinner | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer
Breakfast | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer
Also included in the nightly rate is a “create your own” picnic basket. Lunch choices vary from sushi and king prawns, to cheeses and meats, and champagne, of course! After lunch, take advantage of the complimentary boat transfer to one of the island’s 24 beaches. You could also use a motorized dinghy to discover a sandy cove on your own. Lastly, end the day snorkeling with turtles and enjoying the solitude of an empty shore.
Beach Picnic | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer
Activities on Lizard Island
Other activities include scuba diving, fishing, paddle boarding, and glass-bottom kayaking. Other than that, you may stay on land and visit the Lizard Island Research Centre, go on a scenic hike, play a round of tennis, have a dip in the freshwater pool, indulge in a spa treatment, or practice yoga on the beach. Lizard Island Resort is perfect for those seeking an exclusive experience in paradise.
Dinghy | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
Beach View | Photo Credit: Kathryn Fischer
Essentia Day Spa | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
Pool | Photo Credit: Lizard Island – Great Barrier Reef Luxury Island Resort
40 suites and villas located directly on the Great Barrier Reef
Restaurant highlighting fresh seafood and produce, unlimited non-alcoholic beverages
A selection of fine Australian and New Zealand wines, beers, and spirits
In-room mini bar, restocked daily with snacks, and beverages
Day spa, freshwater pool, gym, and tennis court
24 private beaches with complimentary drop-off
Activities on land such as hiking, tennis, and nature presentations
Water activities such as kayaking, paddle boarding, snorkeling, and motorized dinghies
Though I was born and raised in Philadelphia, a city that values tradition, my path of life has been not so standard. I’ve lived on the East and West coasts of the United States, and have ventured over the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, studying food and wine in Italy, and working in the travel industry in Australia. Travelling across the globe has allowed me to recognize my true passion: helping others experience this beautiful, yet varied world that we live in. I have a wandering soul that continually urges me to visit new countries, meet new people, and learn new things; I love to adventure to faraway destinations, discovering unfamiliar cultures, and tasting their local cuisine.
Lizard Island: An Idyllic Paradise was last modified: September 7th, 2017 by Kathryn Fischer
Located in New South Wales, home to the World Heritage-listed Blue Mountains, sits Emirates One&Only Wolgan Valley. This lodge offers the rare opportunity to experience true luxury in a spectacular Australian bush setting. Surrounding by a beautiful backdrop, Wolgan Valley is the true epitome of luxury.
Blue Mountains | Photo Credit: Destination NSW
About a 3 hour drive Northwest of Sydney, you’ll find the stunning luxury lodge of Wolgan Valley. The drive is easy highway driving at first, before weaving into the mountains and past Katoomba. The last part of the drive can be intimidating, as you’re winding on narrow roads down into the Valley. We drove there in the dark, which I wouldn’t recommend for the faint of heart!
Pathway | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography
Pool | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
Wolgan Valley Exterior | Photo Credit: Jessa Rachael Photography
Rustic Elegance – Wolgan Valley
Once we arrived, my partner and I were collected at the car park and taken in one of the lodges 4WD vehicles up to the main lodge of the property. Due to our late arrival, we immediately sat for dinner and were not disappointed to say the least. The cuisine was absolutely world-class. They have a tasting menu if your table is keen to commit, or an a-la-carte menu. The first night we stuck to a-la-carte and then the second evening, went for the tasting menu. Each dish was exceptionally plated and delicious. After dinner, we were taken to our private villa. Our villa had an open concept sitting room and bedroom, divided by a double sided fireplace; large bathroom, walk-in closet, and our own private heated plunge pool. The feel was luxurious, but comfortable; we could have stayed there forever!
Living Area | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
Suite | Photo Credit: Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
Activities Outside the Lodge
In the morning, we awoke to a gorgeous view that had evaded us the previous day due to arriving after dark. We were surrounded by stunning cliffs in the middle of a valley. Outside of our villa was a beautiful rainbow, and a few kangaroos. Breakfast boasted an array of buffet options such as granola, fruit, cereals, pastries, juices and breads. There was a hot menu for order as well. Then, we headed off to horseback ride on the property.
A staff member drove us to the stables, discussed the basics of riding for those who were new to horseback riding, and paired us with a horse. We embarked on a 90 minute trail ride through the property, and it was breathtaking. Along the way, we spotted kangaroos, wallabies, and lots of bird life. After our ride, we decided to tackle one of the properties numerous hiking and biking trails, spotting more wildlife along the way.
After another exceptional dinner, we spent the evening relaxing and looking at the unhindered stars.
40 villas that accommodate travelers from single guests to family
Private pool with a deck surrounded by a garden of native plants and shrubs
As a graduate of Eastern University with a degree in Anthropology, I have always valued the experiences one can find in other cultures. I’ve spent time in Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Kenya, and backpacked across Western Europe seeing 12 countries there. I have lived in Sydney and used it as a base for travels across the country. I’ve also spent time in New Zealand; and my latest trip back was a luxury lodge tour across both islands, seeing first hand some of the most breathtaking accommodations and properties that New Zealand has to offer. With the passion and longing for every individual to experience at least one other culture in their lifetime, I have found myself at Swain; with the opportunity to bring this passion to life.
Rustic Elegance – Wolgan Valley Resort was last modified: September 7th, 2017 by Sarah Herman