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Hello, and welcome to the Scott Dunn blog! We specialise in luxury tailor made holidays to Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe, the Caribbean and South Pacific. We also operate luxury ski chalets in the Alps and have a specialist team who look after alpine ski hotels. Even though we've been around for over two decades, we think it’s important to give you a behind-the-scenes insight into our world. Which is precisely the point of this blog. Enjoy! www.scottdunn.com

Penelope Chilvers Espadrilles

Bee Haywood from the marketing team lets us know where she’ll be buying her shoes from this summer…

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We are nearly into May and it’s time to get out the summer wardrobe – hurray. Away go the fur-lined boots and out come the flip flops, pretty sandals and of course the espadrilles. When you are thinking about what to pack for your summer holiday, take a look at the lovely range of flat and wedge espadrilles by Penelope Chilvers. It combines contemporary, fashion-led design with enduring style and traditional craftsmanship.  

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Did you know espadrilles were originally worn by peasants in the fields in hot countries like Spain and France! Penelope Chilvers espadrilles are actually made using traditional Catalan methods of construction and she insists on using 100% natural materials of the highest quality – all the summer espadrilles are authentically made using natural jute. They are made in a small family run factory in Spain and Penelope’s passion in local sourcing and protecting local industry is what keeps the brand so authentic. The utmost importance is given to building long-lasting relationships with factories and suppliers and fair wages and good working conditions are a minimum requirement.

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So which ones to choose? For the ultimate in understated elegance invest in the Scoop Wedge espadrille or for a beach boho vibe, slip into some of the metallic flats. The collection also now features a new Peep Toe wedge and a pretty round-toed Mary Jane or if you are looking for holiday essentials, choose the simple hand-stitched flat espadrille or canvas Nonno loafer on a jute base.

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Her designs can be purchased directly from the Penelope Chilvers online boutique, their new shop on Ledbury Road and from fashion stores and boutiques in over 17 countries worldwide including Selfridges, Liberty and Harrods in London. 

Penelope Chilvers is doing a flash sale this Easter weekend… just enter EASTER14 at the online checkout to receive 20% off your order.

 Offer ends Monday 21 April midnight, GMT.

The Best of Santa Monica

Bella from the marketing team went to California last month, here’s what she got up to and her suggestions…

Recently I was lucky enough to spend time in the beautiful, seaside city of Santa Monica, LA. Having never visited West Coast America before, I was immediately sold by the relaxed culture and sunny climate and now can’t wait to return to discover more of what California has to offer. Voted by National Geographic as “one of the top ten beach cities in world”, Santa Monica needs to be on everyone’s bucket list! 

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Santa Monica’s iconic beach and pier

Where to stay:

Shutters on the Beach: Decorated in a Nantucket style and the only hotel in Santa Monica with direct beach access, this property defines laid-back luxury. The rooms have all the little touches that make a huge difference; from a whole range of luxuries in the bathroom to an iPod docking station and a selection of coffee table books that really make the rooms feel like home, topped off with every room having a stunning ocean view. Make sure you try their signature dish Lemon Ricotta Pancakes in their Coast restaurant!

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Presidential Suite at Shutters on the Beach

Casa del Mar: Sister hotel to Shutters, Casa del Mar, when opened in 1926 was a place for California’s elite to meet. This luxurious hotel has 129 sophisticatedly decorated rooms, mostly with Pacific Ocean views and an elegant seafood restaurant among other facilities, this hotel is ideal for those seeking old Hollywood glamour over the easy-going beach house feel.

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Shutters on the Beach and Casa del Mar standing side-by-side

Where to drink:

The Bungalow, Fairmont: If you want to see the evening in at the hippest location in Santa Monica, The Bungalow is the place to go. With a Baja beach bar theme, twinkling lights decorating the courtyard trees and surfboards casually placed on walls plus their delicious cocktails and scrummy appetisers, this was the perfect end to the day and made me feel like one of the Californian Stars!

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The Bungalow at dusk

What to do:

LaLaLuxe: LaLaLuxe is a bespoke shopping and luxury lifestyle service. We were chauffeured from one luxury boutique to another in our very own limousine with champagne to accompany and great advice from founder Nicole Pollard and her top stylist Emily. It was by far the best shopping experience I’ve ever had, and I’d highly recommend it for anyone from groups of friends to a mother and daughter experience – I’ve never been so pampered!

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The LaLaLuxe experience

Soul Cycle: Heading to a gym or fitness class is not normally on my list of things to do on holiday however, this may have changed. On our first morning, we were taken to the latest fitness craze of spinning at the famous Soul Cycle (where the Beckham’s were recently spotted)! Based in a candlelit room with DJ-run music blasting in our ears and the trainer shouting “Believe in yourself”, as unappealing as that may sound, it was brilliant! The perfect way to wake yourself up after a long flight and get ready for the day, California style!

Surf with a Chef: Santa Monica has been named as the best neighbourhood for dining in Southern California, attracting chefs from around the world who are appealed by the beach-living lifestyle. Make the most of this with a great package where you can surf with a top chef and have a tour of the renowned Farmer’s Market before being cooked a gloriously fresh lunch. An experience unique to Santa Monica, and something I’d highly recommend.

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Surf’s up 

If you’d like to find out more on Santa Monica or California, give one of our North America specialists a call on 020 8682 5030 or visit our website scottdunn.com

Notes on Becoming a Japan Junkie…

Sophie from our Asia-Pacific team recently visited contrasting modern Tokyo and traditional Kanazawa on a trip to Japan, here are her experiences…

One of the first things that come to most people’s minds when thinking of Japan is literally lost in translation. YouTube clips of people being squished onto the subway carriages by white gloved attendants and a million people at the Shibuya pedestrian crossing litter the internet, giving the view that Japan is a difficult country to get to grips with and even possibly enjoy. From my first step off the plane and into the land of the rising sun, this preconception felt like a full blown conspiracy theory.

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Lanterns in a market

Yes, at times there was a serious language barrier - but what I lacked in Japanese I made up for in extravagant and exuberant sign language - and everywhere I went the politeness, grace and friendliness of Japanese people blew me away. Oh and of course the efficiency, you cannot forget about the efficiency in a country where a delayed train simply does not exist. 

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Sophie at Kenrokuen Garden, Kanazawa

On top of the charming people, for me there are two other highlights that I think make this country so unique – the juxtaposition of old and new and the food which is mouth-wateringly delicious and at times downright weird. Japan provides such an incredible mix of super modern, super slick cityscapes and the desire to preserve and share centuries of traditional culture. I think that my time in Tokyo and Kanazawa on the west coast of Japan showcased this perfectly. Starting in Tokyo, staying at The Mandarin Oriental was an incredible experience, especially as I was lucky enough to stay in a suite. The views alone would have sold me as you look out over twinkling lights of the sprawling metropolis, but having this view from your bathtub that was the size of a paddling pool was the icing on the cake! Keeping with the super slick vibe, the hotel literally sits on top of a subway station meaning that there is no 10 minute walk to the station, no stopping for directions, you just descend down the escalator and voila – a city more than 837 square miles is at your fingertips with each district offering something different and exciting. 

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The view of Tokyo from The Mandarin Oriental

Following on after a short 50 minute flight, I visited Kanazawa and wider Ishikawa prefecture on the west coast of Japan. Often overlooked, Kanazawa is the centre for arts and crafts in Japan and has beautifully preserved Samurai and Geiko districts with tea houses that are still very much in business providing elegant entertainment. Walking along these streets, I felt like I had stepped back in time to 100 years ago, and staying in a Ryokan completed the time travel experience. 

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A traditional Geiko performance

A stop at one of these traditional inns has to be included in any trip to Japan with its graceful service and unrivalled hospitality otherwise known as Omotenashi. At each Ryokan I visited, the attention to detail was second to none and the level of service was akin to a carefully crafted art form. Of course, I was 100% spoiled and couldn’t lift a finger for anything – even down to having my own bath run for me and perfumed with lemon – but I was also instinctively left to enjoy the experience which was absolute heaven.

Now for the food. Never have I come across so many weird and wonderful tastes and textures or eaten so many different parts of a fish. To be honest, half the time I didn’t know what I was eating as there are so many vegetables and ways of preparing dishes that are completely foreign to the western palate.

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Crabs in the Omicho Market, Kanazawa

However, there was not one meal that I came away dissatisfied or not liking, from squid sashimi to Kobe beef; walnut infused tofu to expertly prepared Dashi (sea stock) – it was all incredibly delicious. 

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Sashimi course in a Kaiseki dinner

Each dish is an art form with the presentation being just as important as the taste, especially so in the 9 course Kaiseki dinners traditionally served at Ryokans. I have never been the food blogger type, snapping away at the dishes in front me, but for these dishes I became the queen of food photos. They were all so beautiful with a Zen like quality in their layout on the plate, each component in balance with its neighbour in taste and aesthetics. 

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Appetizers in the 9 course meal

I could not recommend Japan enough to anyone, it’s like nowhere else that I have ever been with its culture, cuisine and gentle people and for me this is not Sayonara but just Ja Ne.

To find out more information on Japan, give one of our Asia specialists a call on 020 8682 5060.

Luxury family escape in Cyprus

Katherine Gotla from our Mediterranean team recommends the Thanos Hotels - Anassa and Alymra - for the perfect family holiday, with activities to keep every family member entertained…

Scott Dunn has been working with the Thanos hotels for several years but since installing our Explorers children’s clubs in both hotels, we’ve been working closer than ever before.  The climate in Cyprus makes it a virtual year-round destination, although if travelling with small children I would recommend going any time from the Easter holidays through to October half term.

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Anassa hotel and beach

Both the Anassa and Almyra have great family room and interconnecting options. The Explorers children’s clubs run for children aged 4 months upwards including a teens club in the summer months. The Anassa has a small heated children’s pool with easy access, making it perfect for little ones getting used to water for the first time. The ‘Baby go Lightly’ service means that you can pre-order anything and everything required for your little ones, leaving you free from travelling with bags of nappies, sterilizers, swimming floats etc…

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Having fun in the Explorers children’s club

If you are travelling with older children and want to get out and about on the island then there is plenty on offer. Take a visit to Lara Bay Beach, also known as ‘Turtle Beach’, located at the Akama peninsula 30 minutes from the Anassa. The beach offers spectacular scenery and is famed for its turtle hatchery where loggerhead and greenback turtles lay their eggs – one of the few places in the Mediterranean where they can still be found. Lara is also home to the Mediterranean monk seal, another very rare species. The hotel will arrange a jeep excursion to take you to explore the area and seek out the turtles and seals.

 If your children are learning about the Ancient Greeks at school then be sure to visit the Kato Pafos Archaeological Park, where some of the most famous ancient ruins are set. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is home to colourful mosaics straight from the floors of Roman villas, the ‘Limeniotissa’ ruins of an early Christian Basilica and the famous ‘tombs of the kings’. You can take the time to explore by yourselves or the Almyra will arrange a private guide.  At just 10 minutes from the Almyra it won’t take up too much time away from your sun lounger!

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The Almyra adult-only infinity pool

Once your children are back in the Explorers club then make sure to take some time out for yourself! The adult only infinity pool at the Almyra is the perfect place to grab a drink and your book and lie back and relax. If you are a gym bunny then I can safely say you will not find a better view from a treadmill than in the Almyra gym! If it is water-sports that you are after then the Anassa’s vast beach is the place for you.

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The beach at the Anassa

And if you want to be on the go none stop, then look no further than the brand new ‘Extraordinary Active Holidays’ now offered at both the Anassa and Almyra. They are catered for budding triathletes or active individuals wanting to enhance their swimming, biking and running skills. Daily activities include open-water swims, pool diagnostic sessions and road cycles accompanied by a guide to showcase the best the island has to offer.

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Beach-side dining at the Almyra

Triathlon training 

After the days’ activites – whether it be working on your sun tan or working out – both hotels have fabulous dining options, the perfect place for refuelling.  My favourite being Natios at the Almyra serving an Asian-Mediterranean fusion and Helios at the Anassa, a fine-dining, contemporary, French Riviera fare served under olive trees on the terrace. There are also children’s options at both hotels. And what better time and place than over dinner to start planning your itinerary for the following day…

If you want to find out more on the Thanos hotels, please visit our website or give a Mediterranean specialist a call on 020 8682 5040

Up close and personal with Tanzania’s wildlife…

Louisa from our Africa team returned to Tanzania for some close encounters with Tanzania’s amazing game…

Since my first visit to Africa 13 years ago, The Mahale Mountains and Katavi National Park in remote Western Tanzania, have long been high on my list of places to visit in Africa! So I was thrilled when at last I got the chance to explore a couple of Africa’s wildest and most remote corners.

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A lion protecting his kill

It all got off to a great start when shortly after landing in Katavi National Park we spotted two leopards taking a nap high in the branches of trees on the way into camp. During our stay we saw some phenomenally good game, including a pride of lion on a hippo kill and one evening we watched with a spotlight as a lionesses attempted to bring down another hippo –thankfully for the hippo it was a slightly half-hearted attempt as she wasn’t very hungry! Another morning we were having a bush breakfast under a tree watching a vast pod of hippo jostling for space in one of the last remaining waterholes, when a breeding herd of elephant strolled to within metres of where we were standing to drink from a waterhole. These elephants were all very relaxed as they ambled into our space and it was an absolute privilege to be so close.

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Hippos jostling for space

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Camping in the bush

We were lucky enough to spend one night at Katavi’s fly-camp – which must be one of the most magical ways to spend a night in the African bush. We had a lovely game drive into camp where a bush shower had been set up underneath a tree with views over the plains and the animals grazing. After an atmospheric candle-lit dinner (with a white table cloth!) we slept on very comfortable roll mats under a mosquito net so we could gaze at the carpet of stars above while listening to the call of lions and hyenas in the distance.

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A distant leopard

The next stop was Greystoke Mahale on the shore of Lake Tanganyika. After a longish flight and an hour in the dhow it was wonderful to catch first sight of the lodge on the beach, nestling below the lush green Mahale Mountains. The six thatched, open fronted cottages are all tucked into the trees along the edge of the beach. Each morning we all met at breakfast to see whether the trackers had located the family of habituated chimpanzees who live in the forest above the lodge. Everyone wanted to know how long the trek would be, which can vary from anything from 6 hours to 10 mins or sometimes the chimps even come down onto the beach to feed from the mango trees. The trek through the forest was relatively easy and we would find the family of chimps relaxing on the path grooming each other, another time they were swinging through the branches above us calling loudly and on our third trek we had to follow them at quite a pace as they moved through the thick undergrowth. It was amazing to spend time with our closest relations and watch them interacting, using tools to dig termites out of a tree or a mother cuddling her infant - it was clear that we haven’t moved on so very far!

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Spotted - a chimp swinging in the trees

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Greystoke Mahale 

My final stop was at Lamai Serengeti, one of my favourite lodges in this wonderful area of Northern Tanzania.  It was lovely to be back, the view was just as breath-taking as ever, the grasses shorter and we were fortunate that the tail end of the wildebeest migration was still milling around these vast plains. It was wonderful to wake up one morning to a beautiful sunrise and to hear the grunting of the wildebeest below. We had some fabulous game drives in this delightful quiet area – spending sunset with a mother leopard and her cub as they were basking on a rock, and coming across a fresh wildebeest kill on a morning walk – we suspected hyena to be the culprit. The area around Lamai Serengeti is one of east Africa’s little gems – it has the wildebeest in residence at around the same time as they are found in the Maasai Mara, but of course the Lamai area does not have the crowds.

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Lamai Serengeti

It was wonderful to spend time in some of the more off-the-beaten track corners of Tanzania, beautiful unspoilt locations, excellent guides to bring the experience to life and incredible wildlife…what Africa is all about.

Patrick Mavros exclusive silver collection now available at Medina Palms, Watamu, Kenya.

Medina Palms is an exclusive resort set on the Kenyan coast just south of Malindi. With a contemporary Swahili design and Moroccan inspired interiors, it is a tranquil hideaway from the hustle and bustle of Watamu. There is also a world class water-sports facility which has East Africa’s only British Kitesurfing Association approved school.

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Medina Palms, Watamu

Following our really successful Exclusive African Evening back in October with Patrick Mavros; the world–renowned jeweller and silversmith, we were really excited that Medina Palms has launched an exclusive collection of Patrick’s pieces at their recently opened on-site designer boutique, Passion. The magnificent collection features unique cufflinks, earrings, bangles, necklaces and rings.

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Necklace from Patrick Mavros’ Mauritius Collection

Patrick Mavros is known for his unique and original vision, drawing inspiration from the landscapes, flora and fauna of his native Zimbabwe. He founded his business in 1979, after making a pair of earrings for his wife that were admired by her friends. Since then, Mavros has established his name worldwide creating numerous signature pieces, among them his crocodile belt buckles, elephant hair bangles and his elephant and tortoise cigar ashtrays, all in sterling silver.

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Passion Boutique

Medina Palms carries both the Mauritius Collection and the ZoZo Collection among other ethereal sterling silver pieces designed by Patrick Mavros. The Mauritius Collection features jewellery pieces designed as a tribute to the incredible marine diversity and beauty of the Indian Ocean. This embodies Medina’s spirit for their love of all things aquatic, especially as they are located along Kenya’s most beautiful coastline. Passion, Medina Palms’ boutique is proudly the first East African destination to carry his collection outside the Patrick Mavros Exclusive Boutiques.

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Bracelet from Patrick Mavros’ ZoZo Collection

A Modern Day Expedition to The North

‘Explorers Wanted - Just forty intrepid travellers required to join an annual eight-night expedition to The Legendary Cape Churchill on the Hudson Bay. Applicants must be tough, flexible and prepared to withstand -30◦C arctic winds, possess an outstanding sense of comradeship, willing to live in shared quarters and above all be passionate about wildlife, the planet and an avid photographer. Rewards are great - face to face encounters with majestic polar bears, sleep under the magical Northern Lights and capture images worthy of the pages of National Geographic. Only the truly adventurous need apply’.

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This advert isn’t exactly how I heard about Frontiers North’s unique expedition to Cape Churchill but it’s how I imagine this voyage could have been advertised if we time travelled back to the late 19th century, to a time when Europeans first sailed to and explored this magnificent corner of Canadian sub-Arctic. Even by today’s standards, now that much of the world has been ‘discovered’, the expedition to Cape Churchill is still a very unusual trip. Permits only allow up to forty guests a year to access the Cape located at the northern tip of Wapusk National Park and I am one of them – travelling as part of a convoy of professional and amateur photographers, pure wildlife enthusiasts, film crews from Japan, Google Earth and Polar Bear International (PBI) not-for-profit volunteers. If nothing else, it’s a fascinating mix of wildlife enthusiasts all looking to come into contact with and document, the king of the ice, the Polar Bear.

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Wapusk National Park sits near the remote frontier town of Churchill, on the edge of the frozen Hudson Bay tundra. Wapusk, the Inuit Cree word for White Bear, is home to one of the world’s largest known Polar Bear denning sites, granting Churchill the title of “Polar Bear capital of the world”. Churchill town itself has no roads in or out, it’s a quirky tight-knit community – visit the Eskimo Museum for an insight into Inuit Art; the Trading Post for hand-made fur-lined moccasins to keep your feet snug and Gypsy’s cafe for warming sweet treats and a chat with the locals.

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If you think Churchill sounds remote, Wapusk is raw, untouched nature where there are no roads, just open tundra and arctic snow storms.

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On 17 November, temperatures are averaging minus-twenty Celsius and ice is starting to form on the Hudson Bay. The ice floes provide the hunting ground for the Polar Bears who live off the blubber of Ring Seals. The bears require the ice to hunt – despite their size and weight they are adapted to teeter across ice floes and wait for the seals to emerge at their air holes.The bears migrate to the Cape from all areas to get out onto the ice, and where we will set up camp is at the converging point of bears on the Western Cape. It’s a long awaited time of year for these bears, the extended summer bought on by climate change is coming to an end, and they are getting ready for the hunting season. Unlike their closely related cousin, the Grizzly Bear, Polar Bears do not hibernate in the winter. It is on the ice that they are king. During the summer when they cannot hunt, they go into a kind of ‘walking hibernation’ to slow their metabolism and enable survival until winter comes around again. They are truly remarkable survivors.

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Frontiers North has a fascinating history related to intrepid explorers, and researchers who came out to the Cape over 30 years ago. This lineage of Churchillian’s created the Tundra Buggy, a vehicle known for its ability to navigate the unforgiving tundra and get visitors as close to polar bears in the wild as humanly possible. From the buggy, Frontiers North engineered the concept of the Lodge to enable people to stay out on the tundra longer and increase their polar bear encounters. A remarkable piece of ingenuity, the lodge is much like a train consisting of carriages that provide sleeping quarters, a dining cart, a lounge for presentations and wine hour(s), and staff quarters. They link together just like a train does, and it operates much like a moving tundra village, designed to leave no trace; no guest ever touches down on the snow. While Polar Bears may look beautiful, especially when they put their front paws up on the side of the buggy and show a little ‘buggy love’, they are apex predators, which goes someway to explaining their general lack of fear.

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What makes the Legendary Cape Churchill expedition so unique is that I was part of a group of just 27 visitors to access the Cape in 2013, sleeping under the arctic sky, surrounded only by ice, snowstorms, polar bears and my fellow explorers. Each buggy allowed just 7 people in it, creating prime photographic opportunities of wildlife beyond Polar Bears, to close encounters with elegant arctic foxes, snowy owls and arctic hares.

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Our guide was enthused and ready to go from sunrise to sunset to ensure the best viewing opportunities, light, angle for photography, and an essential good sense of humour. We were also part of a 16-hour voyage that involved moving a small village from Polar Bear Point to the Cape. It was at times an excruciatingly slow journey over the ice, however, bar one carriage nearly disappearing through some softer ice; it’s a real experience of what can be achieved in the harshest circumstances. This is something that anyone considering this expedition must know, the weather rules everything, but as the saying goes ‘high risk, high reward’. Our home on the middle of the tundra was as remote as it gets, being disconnected from all communications for eight-nights was a real blessing and a chance to connect with nature and with my fellow travellers. I think I probably gained the most out of everyone there – I started with no photography knowledge and came away with a whole new photography vocabulary, some incredible close-up shots and a new found passion for photography. I also came away with incredible memories and stories, a full belly of excellent home-cooked food, new friends and email pals, and most importantly, a new found understanding of the North, climate change, Inuit culture and a new place in my heart for the ultimate survivors – the Polar Bear.

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15 Reasons why we love Zanzibar and the Zanzibar Collection

Zanzibar is a culturally rich archipelago just a 20 minute flight from Tanzania. The islands fill your senses with the scents of spices, the sounds of abundant wildlife and the views of picture-perfect beaches and reefs. The Zanzibar Collection comprises of three boutique properties, Baraza Resort & Spa, Breezes Beach Club; great for families and couples alike and The Palms Zanzibar; a romantic hideaway ideal for couples and honeymooners. 

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A traditional dhow off the coast of Zanzibar

1. All 3 properties are set on an award-winning beach, chosen by Condé Nast Traveller magazine as one of the top 30 beaches in the world!

2. The Frangipani Spa at Baraza is huge, with a great variety of treatments including an indulgent Sultans treatment created especially for couples.

3. All three properties have access to East Africa’s only National Geographic affiliated PADI 5 star Dive Centre.

4. The Spice Tour to the north of the island, where cloves and vanilla are abundant, opens your eyes to the trade that was integral to the development of these islands.

5. The gardens at Baraza are gorgeously lit up when the sun goes down with pretty fairy lights that really complete the fairy-tale setting!

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The pool at Baraza Resort and Spa

6. The Jozani Forest is thriving in wildlife including the famous red colobus monkeys, somewhere all children will love to visit.

7. Baraza has facilities to keep the entire family happy, including a Kids Club, a library, games and water-sports.

8. Palms is small and intimate and children under 16 are not allowed - an idyllic retreat for honeymooners wanting a peaceful sanctuary.

9. Each of the six thatched “bandas” at The Palms has a dedicated day bed allowing you to relax in your own privacy, where canapés and cocktails can be bought to you – pure heaven!

10. The spa at Breezes offers an “Apres-Safari Treatment” especially designed to rejuvenate those who have come from bumpy safari rides.

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Breezes Beach Club

11. At low tide, staff can take guests on a reef safari and walk you out to the coral reef to see the spectacular marine life and corals.

12. Breezes can set up an area on the beach especially for you and your family; these are the personal touches that really make us love the Zanzibar Collection!

13. The capital of Zanzibar, Stone Town, is a great place for exploring ancient cobbled streets, buying wonderful souvenirs and eating like a local in the Forodhani food market – day trips can be organised to here from the properties

14. The Mojito at Baraza is the best in Zanzibar and quite possibly in the whole of Africa!

15. All the furniture at Baraza is hand made by local artisans who have perfected the art of wood carving, which Zanzibar is so famous for.

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A stunningly decorated bedroom at The Palms

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Bwejuu Paje Beach - where all three properties are situated

We have to add as a sixteenth reason that Freddie Mercury was born in Zanzibar – who wouldn’t want to visit an island where this superstar was born! 

To find out more information of the Zanzibar Collection please visit our website or give an Africa specialist a call on 020 8682 5070

Scott Dunn test out Helly Hansen’s ski-wear…

HELLY HANSEN FLORIA JACKET  AND W PANORAMA JACKET

Reviewed by Kirsty Edwards (Ski Product Manager) and          Bee Haywood (Marketing Manager)

Both of us suffer from the cold (even though Kirsty is supposed to be a ‘hardy’ Scot!), which certainly has its disadvantages when it comes to skiing. There is so much varying advice to regulate temperature – thick jackets, thin jackets, numerous layering techniques but invariably you nearly always end up carrying a rucksack crammed with spare fleeces and gilets as you can’t get your temperature just right.

So when we were offered the chance to try out the new Helly Hansen Floria Women’s Jacket (Kirsty) and W Panorama Jacket (Bee) we leapt at the chance – could there really be ski jackets that rise to the challenge of keeping us warm on a hard ski day, early in the season when temperatures are notoriously at their chilliest?

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Kirsty rocking her “raspberry red” Floria jacket on the slopes

Kirsty:

The Floria Women’s ski jacket comes complete with its techie yet rather cosy sounding PrimaLoft Infinity insulation, so I was excited about how that technology may just keep me warm all day. As I unpacked the jacket it wasn’t just the gorgeous vibrant ‘raspberry red’ exterior which caught my eye, it was the funky lining which immediately added a new dimension – instead of just the usual plain coloured interior, the lining on this jacket was more akin to the colours I’ve seen in the Northern Lights and immediately, I knew it was going to be different.

I had chosen the slopes of Verbier to put this little beauty to the test and as soon as I zipped it up I immediately felt warm. And fit-wise it certainly ticked the box. Skiwear often has a propensity not to be terribly flattering and as a female you instantly feel better wearing a jacket that does have a flattering feminine shape. So I was feeling good as I set off to blast round the slopes.

First things first, when it came to keeping me warm, it positively excelled itself. My problem is that I generally ski pretty hard and fast so as a result I’m usually pretty warm at the end of a run. Then I cool down whilst I’m sitting on the chairlift and am really pretty chilly by the time I reach the top. And thus this perpetual cycle goes on for most of the day. However, I can honestly say that the Floria jacket was a complete revelation. I was basically zipped into my own self-contained little climate zone thanks to the fully taped seams and the PrimaLoft Infinity insulation. This technology is a system of treated fibres which stops them from absorbing moisture and also keeps them very dry in wet conditions. The PrimaLoft also mimics the softness and compressibility of down and works by trapping more body heat into small airspaces. The bottom line is that your temperature is completely regulated and you stay warm. Genius.

Other features of this Helly Hansen jacket worthy of a mention, are the clever ski pass pocket on the sleeve, discreet yet perfectly positioned and the stretchy cuffs with comfortable thumb-loops which anchor the sleeve in place preventing that awful gap you can get between the sleeve and your glove which can provide a sneaky way in for the icy air. The adjustable hood can easily be taken off if required and when I did venture off-piste to perform a rather graceful face plant, the powder skirt stopped the snow from finding its way in where it shouldn’t!

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Kirsty’s jacket working as well off the slopes as on!

Postscript – Since my trip to Verbier, I have further put this jacket to the test whilst doing some introductory ski touring in Combloux, near Megève. Whilst not specifically designed for this type of skiing, it certainly stood up to the test well and managed to keep me from overheating on the ascent and kept me cosy at the summit whilst removing the skins from my skis. As I bounced through the untracked knee deep powder on the descent, that powder skirt served its purpose well!

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Testing the jacket ski touring in Combloux

Bee Haywood:

I headed to Meribel at New Year, where I got the chance to test the Helly Hansen W Panorama Jacket. Having selected the white version with a trendy fur trim on the hood, the pressure was on to ski like a pro, it would not be ok to snow plough down the beginner slopes in such a stylish and chic jacket; tight parallel turns at speed were required. The jacket is also very fitted and feminine so I sat on the chair lift trying to think what my Bond girl name should be…

On that note, the jacket is very fitted – I originally tried a size small (there is also an extra small available and as a size 8 I thought small would be about right – I definitely needed the medium, you need complete freedom to move, twist, turn, flex, bend and jump when skiing – the medium was still really flattering and the arms and length weren’t too long).
This feminine, fitted, waterproof, breathable and insulated ski jacket keeps the snow out with Helly Tech Performance fabric and your body warm with PrimaLoft insulation. It also uses the unique H2Flow feature, which allows you to control your body’s temperature. The idea of the system is that it can provide heat when needed, but with a high volume of mechanical ventilation, you can get rid of the heat and cool off when you are warmed up. Since heat is trapped in air pockets, the design features little pockets around the jacket. I only wore two light base layer tops underneath and remained toasty warm all day – even once the moon had come up and I was sipping vin chaud on the terrace of an après-ski bar – which at New Year in a high altitude resort is saying something.

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The H2FLow feature on the W Panorama Jacket

There are also loads of ski-specific features throughout including a ski-pass pocket, dual hand warming pockets, internal pockets for goggles and electronics, zip-away powder skirt and RECCO Advanced Rescue system.

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Kate modelling the full Helly Hansen outfit

And finally, Kate Pittam – our Marketing & PR Executive – paired the W Panorama Jacket with the W Legendary Pant. She loved them and reported back “…the pants were comfortable, breathable and warm. They have a feminine look that is neither too tight nor baggy – your perfect classic ski trouser with all the technical elements to ensure you stay warm and dry all day long. These ski trousers come in a great range of colours which will suit any jacket colour (in fact the purple stripe in the W Panaroma Jacket I wore, matched the purple ski trousers I selected – it’s all about coordinating!) and at a RRP of £160, they are great value. Similar to the W Panorama Jacket, make sure you are generous with the sizing. I normally take a 10 and the medium was perfect for me… there is nothing worse than tight ski trousers after a long lunch up the mountain!”

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Kate ready to head down the mountain in style!

Shop Helly Hansen here: www.hellyhansen.com

Andrew Dunn’s Top Tips for the French Riviera

To celebrate the expansion of our portfolio with the addition of three new villas in the south of France, Bastide des Virettes, Bastide Aixoise and La Perriere, Scott Dunn Founder Andrew Dunn is giving us his top tips on what to explore and discover in and around this beautiful region…

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Bastide des Aixoise nestled into the hills 

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Stunning views of the coastline from La Perriere

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Beautifully decorated Bastide des Virettes

1. Explore Antibes for its famous busy markets, brightly-coloured streets and beautiful harbour.

2. Experience Fête de Saint Jean in June, an event celebrated with fireworks, bonfires, bull running and concerts, held throughout the region.

3. Sit in Juan-Le-Pins in one of the many restaurants on the beach, watch the children playing in the waves with your private nanny whilst you bury your feet in the sand and sip chilled rosé. 

4. Return via the Beaujolais region to stock up on their renowned cheese and wine.

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Vineyards of the Beaujolais region

5. Visit the Matisse Museum in the Old Town of Nice.

6. Walk through Saint-Paul–de-Vence, a hilltop fortified village that once played host to Matisse, Picasso and Dufy, filled with galleries and boutiques. 

7. A day trip to the famous principality of Monaco, head here in May to see the Monaco Grand Prix .

8. Nice Jazz Festival, in July, is an eclectic event held in an outdoor historic Gallo-Roman site. Lasting eight days, it involves over 800 musicians playing anything from blues to gospel and traditional jazz.

9. For a special occasion, take a 15 minute helicopter ride from Nice to Monte Carlo and enjoy lunch at Le Grill de l’Hôtel de Paris, a Michelin starred restaurant with panoramic views of the principality. 

10. Spend the morning strolling the market in Vence where they sell local produce from olive oils and lavender soaps to delicious jams, perfect to enjoy when you’re back home.

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Fragrant lavender fields of Provence

11. On the chef’s day off treat yourself to Saint-Paul–de-Vence’s most famous restaurant; La Colombe D’Or, ask your travel specialist to book this in advance for you.

12. Take a train to Ventimiglia, on the Italian border, for incredible coastline views, beautiful medieval churches and on Friday’s there is a charming clothes and leather market.

13. A Pyromelodic Festival in August is a must, several countries compete in a fireworks competition, set to music and off the shores of Antibes Juan-les-Pins.

14. For those wanting to experience all the glamour of the French Riviera, a day trip to soak up the laid-back elegance of the famous Club 55 in St Tropez is perfect.

The coastline of the Côte d’Azur

For more information on our new villas and itineraries in the south of France, visit our website or call a south of France specialist on 020 8682 5040

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