Four sensational escapes to the sea
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
A Sicilian secret
Thanks to The White Lotus, Sicily is well on the international radar for summer 2023. You can expect to find the biggest throngs in Taormina, where the series’ second season was filmed at the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace. But in Cefalù, on the island’s north coast – known for its stunning Norman cathedral and its charming but none-too-polished beachfront – things will probably be calmer. The place to stay here is Le Calette. It’s not exactly new (53 years and counting), nor is it on any sort of tastemakers’ circuit (yet).
The diversity of what’s on offer is what makes it so appealing: three restaurants, two bars and three different beaches, including a proper, serviced one – loungers, umbrellas, drinks and all – that’s a short shuttle ride from the hotel; but there’s also the caletta selvaggia, a cove with a simple path leading down to it. It’s located just below Le Calette Bay, the older four-star part of the hotel, which, if you’re a traditionalist, is where you’ll want to request a room – stars in Italy are an arcane and sometimes useless business, and these accommodations have lots of atmosphere. lecalette.it, from €343
Your own private Philippines
If you have a hankering for the ultimate Asian-tropical escape (and a great deal of disposable income to underwrite the desire), Nay Palad Hideaway has recently made its debut in the Philippines. A re-debut, actually: originally called Dedon Island Resort, built in 2012 as an ultra-luxury, all-inclusive private resort by Bobby Dekeyser – the owner of the Dedon furniture company – the nine-villa retreat on Siargao Island was destroyed by typhoon Odette in 2021.
After a total rebuild, it has just reopened with 10 villas, sleeping between six and nine guests. Private pools and multiple decks, tick. A lounge floating amid mangroves in a lagoon and a lounge in the trees, tick. Gym, yoga studio, outdoor cinema, water-sports kit for days, tick. Sailing, surfing, diving, deep-sea fishing, excellent food that came out of the sea and/or the kitchen-garden that day: everything you’d expect to find on the CV of a fantasy island is on offer. naypaladhideaway.com, from $990 per person sharing
Surf’s up in southern Morocco
Dakhla is deepest Morocco – where the desert flows directly into the Atlantic. It is improbably cool, its water a panoply of blues, its huge windy bay a beacon for kite surfers from all over the world. For a few years, La Tour d’Eole, a small, super-elegant ecolodge at the water’s edge, has been the address of choice. Now there’s also Caravan Dakhla, the second Moroccan retreat from the Habitas group (the first is far to the north, in the Agafay desert).
The 24 rooms, glass-fronted lofts or low villas hugging the lagoon’s edge, have platform beds, tadelakt walls and a palette that mirrors the tones of the desert and beach outside. They’ve partnered with Naish, the global kitesurfing outfit, to open a school that will operate out of the resort, along with a wellness clinic offering fitness and treatments geared to the kitesurfer’s specific needs. latourdeole.com, from about £270; ourhabitas.com, from about £130
Get away in Greece
Sailing in Greece: three words that strike lust in the hearts of summer travellers, and a new outfit, launching in September, has come up with an intriguing take on the Hellenic boating fantasy. ZenBoat is a small collection of refurbished gulets that will ply the Ionian and the Aegean, from Corfu and the Peloponnese to the smaller Saronic islands of Poros and Agistri.
Each is staffed with a chef who majors in fresh Mediterranean cuisine, and a “health coach” who will organise daily activities – from snorkelling and beach calisthenics, to aqua gym in the sea, to onboard yoga and Pilates. Each cruise lasts a week, with a different mooring every night; and the boats’ size means they can access hidden coves and less-trod stretches of coastline. There will be three inaugural departures in September, in the Ionian and Aegean islands. zen-boat.com, from €2,400 for seven nights, including transfers