As I write this, the sun is slowly breaking through the wet, grey veil that has shrouded England's summer, and if I cup my ear in my hand, I can just barely make out a collective sigh of relief exhaling across the nation. After enduring a season marked by capricious weather, the promise of a revitalising escape beckons like a distant oasis. September and October emerge as the golden months of opportunity, offering a chance to trade in umbrellas for sunglasses and gloomy skies for a warm embrace of sun-drenched destinations. So, as autumn whispers its arrival, cast aside the gloom and embark on a journey to the sun-kissed havens that have been on the radar of our very intrepid friends and travel tastemakers over at Secrettrips.com.
Hotel El Corazón, Mallorca: A Mediterranean Jewel
Nestled along the dramatic west coast of Mallorca in the stunning Tramuntana mountain range, the Hotel El Corazón is a 15-room oasis of style sandwiched between the rustic chic towns of Sóller and Deia. There's many a remarkable thing about El Corazón, not least the fact that it is the owners' very first hotel project. Partners and artists Kate Bellm and Edgar Lopez have long been Tramuntana residents, and in El Corazón they have perfectly embodied the upmarket, art-drenched bohemianism of the area, projecting a warm and inviting ambiance throughout.
Well-appointed rooms blend contemporary elegance with traditional Mallorcan accents, while just about everything in the hotel has been custom-made by the owners' impressive list of creative friends, from the towels to the art to the ashtrays. Each room has been uniquely designed by local architects Moredesign, while current artist in residence Yasmin Bawa sculpted the reception desk.
When it comes to food, head chef Grace Berrow has at her command over 50 garden beds all growing delectable vegetables, fruits, and herbs in the grounds of the hotel, and without the aid of any pesticides, while anything else comes from local suppliers. Kate and Edgar know all the island's secrets so you'll never be short of places to explore if you can bare to leave the grounds.
Hotel Mezzatore, Ischia: An Island Escape
Overlooking the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, Hotel Mezzatore on Ischia is a haven of tranquility and sophistication. Part of the Il Pellicano group (whose poster hotel is the Tuscan coastal icon of the same name, and which has just had a private equity investment to the tune of $200m), the hotel is the premier embodiment of refined luxury on the otherwise rustic Ischia, Capri's bigger, less glamorous brother.
Standing on the northwest tip of the island, the hotel is housed in an abandoned watchtower which serenely surveys the Gulf of Naples. The grounds cascade down the staggered cliff, boasting some of the most picturesque sunbathing spots in the Mediterranean.
Of course, Ischia is famed for its warm healing thermal waters, which bubble up to the surface of the hotel's spa pools courtesy of volcanic 'fumerole' dotted all over the island. You'll find a world class spa here in which you can dissolve into the island's warm mineral charms.
The hotel's cachet extends to its gastronomic offerings, overseen by Ischia native Giuseppe D’Abundo, whose signature raw Pezzogna (a type of local sea bream) with cold acqua pazza is to die for. It was Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who was reputedly to have said "Vedi Napoli e poi muori", but a view of the city from the paradise that is Mezzatore makes one want to live for a rather long time.
Hotel La Palma, Capri: Elegance Redefined
Perched majestically on the cliffs of Capri, Italy's diminutive jewel of the Mediterranean, the Hotel La Palma is a masterpiece of elegance. Part of the prestigious Oetker Collection (and its first in Italy), it exudes an air of timeless sophistication that befits the island's allure, and is only a ew steps away from what surely must be the world's best people watching spot on the Piazzetta. It's housed in what was Capri’s first hotel, originally built in 1822, and has been completely renovated by interior designer Francis Sultana.
The hotel, which features 50 rooms and suites in total, boasts three stunning restaurants and bars, as well as its own private beach club (although we'd still recommend booking a day down at Da Luigi for unparalleled views of La Faraglioni). A newly built pool deck overlooks the boutiques of Via Vittorio Emanuele, so you can keep up with some window shopping while also keeping up with your tan.
Time in southern Italy passes slowly, punctuated only by thoughts of and plans for, the next meal. Gourmands are in for a treat at La Palma, where the cuisine is overseen by chef Gennaro Esposito, who is something of a culinary celebrity in Italy, having run his own two-Michelin Star restaurant, Torre del Saracino, for over two decades. Esposito's menus are unpretentious, but perfectly executed, preferring to highlight the glorious simplicity of traditional Italian food.
Six Senses Kaplankaya, Bodrum: A Coastal Sanctuary
Bodrum, on the Aegean, has long been Turkey's upmarket coastal destination, and now thanks to soaring inflation taking chunks out of the lira, it has got a whole lot cheaper to visit. It's here you'll find the Six Senses Kaplankaya, a veritable sanctuary of holistic luxury and well-being. The Six Senses group raised the bar for holistic stays, and the Kaplankaya is one of its most esteemed properties, in large part thanks to a 10,000 square-meter spa with pioneering wellness programming. Leave your stress at the door and immerse yourself in the indoor-heated pool, hydrothermal areas, hammams, state-of-the-art fitness equipment, and classes including spinning, yoga, and Pilates.
The resort has access to its own organic farm and gardens, which provide a great deal of the produce for the groups Eat With Six Senses paradigm. At Kaplankaya, you can indulge in a variety of Aegean, Mediterranean, and Pan-Asian cuisine, the ingredients of which are all local.
With so many spa treatments on offer, you can detox in the mornings, then retox in the afternoon with a spritz or three while lying on one of three private sandy beaches which are serviced by waiting staff. If you're feeling recharged, there are plenty of ways to dispose of that energy, such as a kayak tour along the 7km of pristine coastline, or hike, jog, or bike the more than 20km of marked routes.
For an eclectic insider tour of the world's best destinations, head over to Secrettrips.com where you'll find unique tips by some of the world's most esteemed and intrepid tastemakers.