“It’s an ill wind that blows no good,” Google informs me, is a 16th-century English proverb, and hence of little obvious relevance to the One&Only Palmilla resort in Los Cabos. However, the devastation wrought by Hurricane Odile in September has now been repaired, and the property, long a favorite of Hideaway Report subscribers, will reopen on April 20, slicker and shinier than before. The resort has been the beneficiary of a massive facelift: Many of the 173 rooms have been redone, with new baths and upgraded amenities; the Jean-Georges steak and seafood restaurant will reopen in an entirely new venue; and Agua by Larbi, which features Mediterranean cuisine with Mexican influences by chef Larbi Dahrouch, as well as the world’s largest collection of Mexican wines, has been entirely redesigned — including its famous clifftop terrace, where dining “pods” afford spellbinding panoramas of the Sea of Cortez. Finally, a new 22,000-square-foot spa will also debut, with seductive and secluded garden massage villas. So, oddly, Odile’s violent tantrum turns out to have been surprisingly constructive.
One of my favorite retreats in the Rockies, Dunton Hot Springs, is separated from the picturesque former mining town of Telluride by the splendor of 14,252-foot Mount Wilson. The resort is set in a meticulously restored ghost town dating from 1885. In 2013, Dunton River Camp, a luxury tented camp, opened on nearby Cresto Ranch. This year will see the debut of Dunton Town House, a luxurious five-room bed-and-breakfast in Telluride itself. In summer, when the skiers have gone home, Telluride is still a colorful and vibrant place. I look forward to spending a couple of days in town, trying out the new restaurants, before heading down to Dunton Hot Springs to pester the trout on the West Fork of the Dolores River.
So many new cruise ships are behemoths, designed to carry thousands of passengers, that it is a pleasure to report the impending launch of a smaller vessel. In 2013, I had the pleasure of taking a Mediterranean cruise aboard the 208-passenger Seabourn Legend. The Seattle-based line’s new ship, the Seabourn Encore, is scheduled to undertake her maiden voyage in 2016. Although considerably larger, with verandah suites for 604 travelers, the Encore is still sufficiently modest in scale to be categorized as a “small ship.” The vessel’s interior is the work of legendary designer Adam D. Tihany. A sister ship, the Seabourn Ovation, is expected to debut in spring 2018.
Most upscale hotels and resorts now consider a spa to be a standard amenity. Scarcely a day goes by without a new one opening somewhere, but most excite only the merest flicker of interest. However, the new Villa Stéphanie, which debuted in January at Brenners Park-Hotel & Spa, falls into an entirely different category. Built in 1890, the mansion is located on Baden-Baden’s famous Lichtentaler Allee. Accommodations comprise 12 rooms and three suites, while the 54,000-square-foot spa complex, spread over five floors, will operate in partnership with the French cosmetics company Sisley. For once, a hotel’s self-assessment — “Europe’s finest destination spa” — may well prove to be entirely accurate.
I can think of few, if any, more spectacular places in the world than Namibia’s NamibRand Nature Reserve. The constantly changing desert landscape provides epic panoramas of otherworldly beauty. I have long recommended the Dunes Lodge at Wolwedans. Now, the property’s new Boulders Camp offers an even higher level of comfort and exclusivity. Backed by enormous granite boulders, the camp sleeps a maximum of eight guests in four enormous tents. Aside from scenic drives, Boulders specializes in walking safaris along trails of immemorial antiquity that were established by the area’s indigenous people, the San (Bushmen).
A version of this article appeared in the March 2015 print edition of Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report under the headlines "In the News" and "New and Noteworthy."