I think I can safely say that 2016 has been my most adventurous and eventful year in travel so far. Planning a destination wedding in the Caribbean and a three month trip through Africa was definitely ambitious. It required a lot of planning, a lot of saving, and a lot of patience! But I feel very lucky that I managed to squeeze in a few personal and work-related trips around these big events, within the UK and beyond. The result for me has been a very special and rewarding year of travel that I am still pinching myself over and feel incredibly lucky to have experienced.
Here are my travel highlights.
A Travel Writers’ Get Together in Tenerife
Every January the British Guild of Travel Writers holds its AGM and each year, they team up with a different Tourist Board or Travel Group to help host our trip. This year, it was in Tenerife, an island I hadn’t been to since I was a teenager. So it was good to go back and remind myself how beautiful the Canary Islands are. Travel highlights here included a magical dining experience in the middle of a banana plantation, stargazing from the top of Mt Teide and hiking through the UNESCO World Heritage Site that is Teide National Park.
A Romantic City Break at The Royal Crescent, Bath
Bath is one of England’s most famous spa towns and is brimming with history and charm. So I was delighted to take up an invitation to visit one of the city’s most famous spa hotels, The Royal Crescent Hotel for a romantic stay, a few weeks before our wedding.
The Royal Crescent had just unveiled their brand new wedding garden – a ‘secret garden’ style space for brides and grooms to tie the knot, and it was the perfect opportunity to experience the nearby Thermae Bath Spa. After the signature ‘hero’ treatment at the Royal Crescent Hotel’s Spa and a dip in their gorgeous pool, I returned to London in a serene and happy state.
Our Wedding & Honeymoon in Jamaica
February is normally one of my least favourite months. I can’t wait for the milder weather and the longer days to arrive. But this year we left chilly Blighty behind to travel to Jamaica for our wedding and honeymoon. We got married on the secluded Half Moon Beach in Negril surrounded by 15 family members and our wedding was rustic, laid back and everything we wished for. Our stays at Somewhere West and The Rockhouse in Negril – and Jakes on the South Coast – were unforgettable and won’t just be some of this year’s travel highlights, they’ll join my list of lifetime highlights! The empty beaches and sunsets of Treasure Beach will always remain one of those travel memories I escape to in my daydreams.
Five Star Luxury at The Four Seasons, Paris
When one of your favourite hotel brands invites you to stay in one of their flagship properties in beautiful Paris, it’s a hard offer to resist. The Four Seasons, in my opinion, is one of those hotels where flawless service, classic style and irresistible dining all create an experience that stays with you forever. Their highly acclaimed restaurant, Le Cinq, is one of the Top 7 three Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris and Mr C still talk about how amazing it was today. My spa treatment at the Four Seasons Hotel left me walking on air.
Beaches & Culture in Thailand & Cambodia
A press trip invitation to Thailand and Cambodia in May was an unexpected but exciting surprise. Ever since I visited Malaysia in 2012, I felt I left a little piece of my heart in South East Asia. The smells, the sounds and the wonderful people left a lasting impression on me and I was dying to see how Thailand and Cambodia compared.
This was a press trip of more than 50 people and I got to meet some great UK bloggers and journalists – including Life of Alice, Colette Walsh, David of Six out of Ten, Graham of Madeleine Loves and Roy of the fantastic Thaizer website. Learning about Thai medicine, visiting the paradise of Koh Rong Samloem and seeing The Sacred Bodhi Tree were just some of the highlights. Flying Royal Silk Class with Thai Airways was also a high.
London in the summer
The summer months were really quiet for me travel-wise. Mr C and I had taken the plunge to book our three month trip through Eastern and Southern Africa. So it was time to save as many pennies as we possibly could and keep our itchy travellers’ feet firmly in the UK until October. The upside is this gave us the perfect opportunity to enjoy London and it reminded me of the great festivals and events we have on our doorstep during the summer. The Citadel Festival in Victoria Park, the summer entertainment on the Southbank and exploring my own neighbourhood in Streatham were just some of the highlights for me.
Three months in Africa
The build up to our trip to Africa was a whirlwind of seeing friends, tying up work commitments and packing up our apartment in Brixton so that a friend could move in and hold the fort. It was time to put our London lives on hold for a while, gain a bit of perspective and see the big wide world with Mr C.
It’s hard to sum up this trip through Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania and South Africa in a few words but I’ll try – it’s been challenging, beautiful, eye-opening and extraordinary. It’s a continent I’ll be writing about well into 2017 – and I hope, well into the future.
What have been your travel highlights this year and have you been to any of the destinations mentioned? Leave a message – I’d love to hear from you.