Southeast Asia’s Best Luxury Properties for Honeymooners

Southeast Asia is well-known for its exquisite properties. Combine this with picture-postcard beaches, a wonderfully welcoming culture and a cuisine known all over the world, it comes as no surprise that so many honeymooning couples choose to spend a few weeks here.

Here are Audley Travel’s top five most luxurious and romantic properties for honeymooners in Southeast Asia:


El Nido, the Philippines

For those looking for total seclusion after their wedding you can’t go far wrong with El Nido Pangulasian Island in the Philippines. Known as ‘the island of the sun’, El Nido is an opulent hideaway in the heart of a protected marine reserve.

Imagine drinking cocktails as you watch the sun set on the horizon, or enjoying a luxury picnic on a desert island – these are the sorts of things that can be arranged for you at El Nido.

pool at El Nido Pangulasian

pool at El Nido Pangulasian


Tugu Lombok, Indonesia

Rise early to witness an unforgettable sunrise over the mighty Mount Rinjani during a stay at Tugu Lombok. Situated on the pristine white sands of the northwest coast, it is the Villa Puri Dadap Medah that will ignite the interest of honeymoon couples, with a private spa, plunge pool and private rooftop for a romantic dinner under the moonlight. Private dining can also be arranged in an ancient temple, on a traditional dragon boat or in a secluded corner of the beach, while rooftop yoga and meditation are held by the towers of a temple.

This is a truly special property that would make a fabulous addition to any honeymoon in Indonesia.

Bale Kokok Pletok Restaurant, Tugu Lombok, Sire Beach

Bale Kokok Pletok Restaurant, Tugu Lombok, Sire Beach


Kura Kura
, Indonesia

For the more active honeymoon couple, look no further than Kura Kura, a property set on a tiny island in the Karimunjawa Archipelago, off the coast of Java. Kura Kura means ‘turtle’ in Bahasa Indonesia and it’s no wonder the property was given this name; the diving and snorkeling opportunities here are delightful!

By day kayak around the magnificent shoreline or explore uninhabited islands, and by night enjoy a real castaway experience on Krakal, a tiny neighbouring island where it is possible to spend the night with just your loved one for company.

ocean sunset at Kura Kura Resort

ocean sunset at Kura Kura Resort

The Scarlet, Singapore

The Scarlet has been converted from former Chinese shop houses and this quirky accommodation is arguably the best boutique property in Singapore; it’s certainly one of our favourites!

Rooms range from intimate deluxe rooms to premium suites, with all being individually and theatrically styled with rich, luscious fabrics and unique furnishings.

The rooftop restaurant is the perfect spot to enjoy a sundowner and sample the tasty and creative Mediterranean cuisine, before heading to the stylish bars of Ann Siang Hill.

Passion Suite at The Scarlet Singapore

Passion Suite at The Scarlet Singapore

Soneva Kiri, Koh Kood, Thailand

Soneva Kiri is a Six Senses property – a chain of hotels long associated with understated luxury underlain by environmental sensitivity. The accommodation is situated on the beautiful island of Koh Kood away from the usual tourist traps of Thailand, where it’s possible to dine on the beach, in your private villa or in the famous tree pod suspended in the air.

There are 42 pool villas and one eco suite here, all set in 41 hectares and each with their own private infinity pool.

Dining Pod at Soneva Kiri

Dining Pod at Soneva Kiri

Audley Travel is an award-winning tour operator that specialises in tailor-made trips to over 80 countries around the world. Established in 1996, they cover North America, South and Central America, Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, Africa, Australasia, the Polar Regions and Russia. Their specialists are at the very heart of our business. Using their extensive, first-hand knowledge, they build itineraries that match your individual interests, budget, pace and accommodation preferences to create unique travel experiences, so you are not tied to the set itinerary of a group. This allows you to explore at your own speed, with their specialists’ knowledge always at your disposal.

Hotels Vs Luxury Villas

A lot of people are now finding that hotels are far too impersonal for their vacations so are looking for more unique and quirky properties instead. Of course, you may not get room service, but you do get an amazing home for the week with plenty of space for friends and family. So it’s no wonder people are preferring this to the standard hotel choices now.

Allissa Marks rented a villa for her wedding in the South of France, and said it made the day even more magical. And what could be more romantic than being married under the summer sunshine, in a French Chateau, surrounded by all your friends and family? “It was even more magical having our friends and family stay with us for the whole week. It meant the celebration didn’t end! We had a chateau that catered for more than 20 people… so we had all our guests stay with us for a few days after the ceremony too. Our friends still talk about how wonderful it was, even now”

With all this in mind Oliver’s Travels is the luxury brand with the homely touch and personal feel that the luxury market has been waiting for. The fair marks a momentous occasion for the business, because now all their properties are available in one place – making the booking process easier and more enjoyable than it’s ever been. You can browse for that gorgeous French Chateau where you and your friends can be sipping wine in a vineyard as the sun goes down… Or you can take a look at the beautiful, breath-taking Caribbean villas that lead right onto the sea front.

Imagine a holiday where you pay less than a hotel, but can wake up in your own luxury, private villa surrounded by friends or family – with a beautiful swimming pool and stunning views. That’s the reality of holidaying in villas instead of hotels, many people find they prefer it as soon as they make the change.

After booking his first holiday in a French Chateau, founder Oliver realised just how amazingly good value these private villa accommodation choices could be – so decided to set up his own business to support chateau owners, and encourage people to ditch the hotels, and opt for something a bit more special and unique instead. Finding the perfect property is really important, because it shapes your holiday and your enjoyment of it. For some people, they want an intimate hideaway – such as a cottage in Scotland or a beautiful mountain apartment over looking the ocean in Italy, for others they want a huge villa where the kids can run wild – and the adults can relax. The range and sheer variety is something Oliver is especially proud of for his properties, as their books range from stately homes full of history and tales to tell, to French castles, and even beach side havens in the Caribbean. The properties are unique, quirky and never ordinary. Something that is reflected across the entire brand.

The Most Luxurious Train in the World

Established exhibitor of The Luxury Travel Fair, Rovos Rail, invited one of their recent customers to share his experience with us on travelling with them across South Africa.

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The moment you arrive at the dedicated Rovos Rail station in the South African capital, Pretoria, you feel as if you’ve stepped into an old world that has been surpassed by the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. A magnificent working steam locomotive welcomes you on the platform along with the exceptional staff of Rovos Rail, who pride themselves on making sure the trip is an unforgettable experience.

The train is beautifully decorated with dark wood features throughout, the rooms have fully retractable windows and blinds, which allow you to take in the breath-taking rolling South African landscape from the comforts of your suite.  All additional comforts are only a phone call away to your personal butler!

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Meals in the dining cart are an absolute highlight with beautiful Edwardian décor, exceptional service, award- winning wines paired with delicious dishes that highlight South African produce. The formal dress attire for dinner adda to the experience and really lends itself to the romance and charm of the beautiful dining car.  After dinner, the Observation car with its balcony is perfect for after-dinner drinks, which are accompanied by fascinating stories of the train told by the fantastic train manager, Joe.  He has been with the company for over 20 years and his passion for the company is a true representation of this proudly South African product.

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The experience on Rovos Rail is not limited to just the train itself, the off-train excursions are catered around what areas have to offer.  From climbing into open-air game viewing vehicles and spending the next couple of hours ticking off the Big 5 in the Nambiti Private Game Reserve, to visiting historical sites such as Nelson Mandela’s capture site and the Anglo Boer war sites. The excursions are a perfect way to catch a glimpse into the history of this beautiful country as well as witnessing the rich wildlife it has to offer.

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After spending a couple nights on the train, it’s easy to see why Rovos Rail has claimed and owned the slogan of “The Most Luxurious Train In The World”.  There truly is no better way to experience the sheer grandeur of South Africa’s landscape than on this magnificent train.

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An Expedition to the Tribes of Remote Brazil

Kaxinawa (6)

Bespoke Brazil, who are exhibiting at this year’s Luxury Travel Fair, have launched an expedition to visit the tribes of the Kaxinawá of western Brazil. Here they tell us about this exciting itinerary for those looking to really get off the beaten track in an area few tourists have visited.

Clients will experience a remote area of Brazil, unknown to the majority of the western world and gain an insight to The Kaxinawá tribe or Huni Kui, meaning True People, who inhabit the Amazon forest close to the Peruvian border in the state of Acre, in western Brazil. The trip takes in 7 villages in two indigenous lands; the Kaxinawa of the Tarauacá River and the Kaxinawa of Jordão River.

Kaxinawa (15)

The Kaxinawá are a tribe of 5550 people who pride themselves on their strong cultural identity, while maintaining contact with the “white people” who they first encountered in the late nineteenth century. Still much of their culture is secretive such as their knowledge of language, painting, art and traditional medicine. Children learn to speak Portuguese when they are about 11 years old and the official language spoken between the Kaxinawá is hãtxa kui.

“If you are looking to get away from it all then this itinerary offers an exciting insight in to one of the more remote tribes of Amazonia”, says Bespoke Brazil director, Simon Williams. “Don’t expect a high degree of luxury on the trip though”, says Simon, “during the expedition you will sleep and stay in the local homes of the Kaxinawá in hammocks where all meals are provided by them.”

Kaxinawa

The Kaxinawá have a strong influence from the Inca Kingdom due to its proximity to Peru, especially on clothes and body paintings with geometric shapes known as Kenes. The Indians of Acre had a peaceful relationship with the Incas and would trade with the Indians of the Andes, where medicinal plants were exchanged for salt and other products from the highlands.

Kaxinawa (5)

Due to the remote area in which the Kaxinawá live a light aircraft flight is required to reach the small town of Jordão from where you can board boats to reach the tribal villages. The expedition can be done at any time during the year however the best time is between May and November when water levels are higher in the rivers.

Kaxinawa (14)

To discuss this breath-taking trip and many more to this beautiful part of the world, please visit Bespoke Brazil at the Fair.

Kaxinawa (3)

Kaxinawa (9)

Gastronomic Adventures in Italy

Wine barrels in the old cellar of the winery.

We asked Filippo di Lenardo from Elite RetrEat Italia (who will be exhibiting at this year’s Luxury Travel Fair) to give us a taste of what gastronomic experiences can be had when visiting Italy.

1. Tell us about the adventures that you offer?
We specialise in providing unique and authentic gastronomic Itineraries to Italy. Our goal is to showcase the incredible variety of the Italian food and wine offered in each region to make people understand why we believe gastronomy is the best way to communicate the country’s unmatchable heritage. We always make sure that our clients come across exceptional culinary moments whether it’s a meal in a small local “trattoria”, cooking a dish with a Michelin star chef or having a tasting of fine wines in a private palace.
With people becoming increasingly intolerant to various foods, bad eating habits and the need to be more active we have put together programs to educate the client to achieve a healthier lifestyle. We have created special retreats at selected villas where a private chef and a personal trainer collaborate closely to create weekly programs that revitalise the body and soul. These activities include yoga courses and aerobic training combined with the learning of nutritional values found in locally sourced ingredients and how to make best use of them to cook a delicious and healthy meal.
To further enhance the experience, depending on the client’s interests and according to the destination’s offer, we organise special activities ranging from sports, entertainment, fashion, history and art. This is the best way for our customers to enjoy the destination to the fullest and get a true feel of Italian excellence.

2. What are your most exciting destinations to visit during the trip?
What makes Italy inimitable is its vast variety of cultures and landscapes making it a destination with endless possibilities all year round. There is no other country within Europe where one can go from Alto Adige, a region that used to be part of Austria until the end of WW1, to Sicily, a region that has been strongly influenced by the Arab culture.

The Triveneto area comprehends the regions of Veneto, Friuli and Trentino Alto Adige and is definitely worth a visit. From historic cities like Venice and Verona, to the beautiful Lake Garda and Italian Alps if you want keep yourself busy throughout the day look no further. If you are a wine lover, you will have chosen the right place as it is home to the famous Amarone and Prosecco as well as to the cutting edge wines of Friuli, which is currently one of my favourite wine regions. If you are looking for somewhere to spend your ski holidays, the Italian Dolomites are the perfect destination, combining breathtaking scenery with fantastic restaurants that will definitely make you reach your gastronomic peak!

Piemonte is the perfect destination for food and wine connoisseurs. I just came back from there a week ago and I was simply stunned. It is arguably the region that gave birth to fine Italian gastronomy and is home to some of the premium Italian produce. White Truffles from Alba, Barbaresco and Barolo wines and chocolate are it’s most famous produce. With the greatest concentration of Michelin star restaurants than any other region and championship golf courses, one cannot ask for more. An insider secret for wine lovers: you may think that Piemonte can only produce superb red wines…you couldn’t be more wrong!

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Emilia Romagna is a foodie’s paradise. Also known as the “food valley”, you can find fantastic products such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Parma ham, Balsamic vinegar of Modena and many pasta dishes including Tagliatelle Bolognese, Lasagne and Tortellini. This is the perfect place to indulge into both rustic and fine culinary moments. And if you are a petrol head you will be pleased to discover that this region is also home to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati and Ducati.

A lot of people think that the south of Italy is only good to visit in summer because of its pretty beaches. But to get a real taste of the local traditions and enjoy the various cultural activities one should visit the mainland and this is the best time of year as the weather is pleasant and allows you to walk around. Sicily is perhaps Italy’s most fascinating region. Because of the invasion of so many cultures, it’s like being on a gastronomic rollercoaster. As the largest island in the Mediterranean, it is almost a country itself. From delicious fish based dishes found on the coast to the hearty meat dishes of the mainland, Sicily is a region of strong flavours. Not to forget its famous pastries and cakes so if you have a sweet tooth you will be spoilt for choice. Mount Etna deserves a separate chapter. This fantastic volcano is not only a marvellous place to visit but it also produces some of Italy’s finest wines. Also called “the Burgundy of the Mediterranean” both red and white wines from the volcanic soil have personality like no other. Is very hard to describe them, all I can tell you is that they are currently my favourite!
Puglia is a region that has been gaining more and more visibility in the last few years. Personally, it’s my favourite place for food as it has a great range of high quality products including the best tomatoes, Burrata (a cheese to die for) and some of the best fish. It also has beautiful landscapes with turquoise sea and vast cultivation of ancient olive trees producing some of Italy’s finest extra virgin olive oils. Whether discovering the beautiful town of Lecce, relaxing in one of their many charming “Masseria” or visiting the fascinating Manduria wine region, whatever you do here you will always get the feeling of authenticity and of fully immerging yourself into the Apulian culture.

Fine Dining Appetizer

3. What’s the most unique dish that foodies can taste on one of your gastronomic adventures?
You know, sometimes the simplest dish can be the most unique. A spaghetti with tomato sauce for example as straight forward as it may sound it an extremely complicated dish to perfect. We seek gastronomic excellence, so every culinary experience that we propose to our client has to al ways deliver new and unique sensations. So to answer your question, luckily there isn’t just one.
I recently tried potato gnocchi with Gorgonzola cheese infused with truffle: I will never forget that moment. That is exactly what I want my clients to experience!

4. What luxury accommodation is on offer?
Italy is one of the countries with the greatest selection of luxury, boutique hotels and private villas for rental. We like to give our clients full flexibility when it comes to choosing their ideal place to stay in.
We first find out what the client’s desires are in terms of facilities and comfort and subsequently we advise them with what we believe are the best hotels and villas that fit their needs. We do not like to impose a hotel but rather recommend one because we know that each client is unique and has specific requirements. All we look for is to put them in the best condition to enjoy their experience.

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5. What makes Italy’s food some of the best in the world?

For me, there are 2 main reasons: one technical and one emotional.
There’s no denying it; Italy has been blessed with a fantastic location. Combining the best of Mediterranean and cool of the Alpine north coupled with its unique geological structure, numerous microclimates are formed facilitating the production of many different kinds of high quality ingredients. Just to give an idea of the complexity of the soil, Italy has over 2000 grape varieties, this is more than France, Spain and Portugal combined. So the result is a wonderful assortment of different cuisines within one country to suit every palate.
The second reason is simplicity. When you have excellent ingredients, you don’t need to do much, just find the easiest way to make them shine. This is the reason why Italian food is loved all over the world, because other than being delicious you can always identify each ingredient in every single dish. Simple!

amatriciana ingredients

Explore Japan by Into Japan Specialist Tours

We spoke to Matthew Fryett from Into Japan Specialist Tours who gave us an insight into the wonders of Japan and what sort of activities you can get upto during your time in Japan.

What 5 activities would you recommend doing when visiting Japan?

Tsukiji Fish Markets

A morning tour of the frenetic Tsukiji fish markets in Tokyo provides a truly impressive insight into the pace and scale of commerce behind the scenes in Japan’s capital city. The tours conclude with a superbly fresh sushi lunch as standard, or you can take a sushi making lesson and make your own lunch under expert supervision.

Sushi

Sushi – Tsukiji Fish Markets

Japanese Tea Ceremony

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony, best enjoyed in Kyoto where there are numerous dedicated tea houses, is a fantastic way to witness the meticulous and delicate attention to detail that runs through Japan’s cultural and aesthetic soul. The tea ceremony can often be combined with other traditional activities available at the same establishment, such as calligraphy or kimono wearing sessions.

Traditional Japanese Inn

Staying at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) is a cultural experience in itself, and one not to be missed. Extravagant service and sumptuous seasonal kaiseki dinners served in your room are what good ryokan pride themselves on, but for a western traveller every detail is a small marvel – from the texture of the tatami mat flooring to the simple yukata gowns given to all guests to wear throughout their stay.

ryokan

Ryokan – Traditional Japanese Inn

Natural Hot Springs

Bathing, particularly in onsen (natural hot springs), is an integral part of Japanese culture, important enough that whole towns can thrive on the reputation of their thermal springs alone. The norm is to bathe naked (with a small towel for modesty) in separate male and female sections – if you can overcome some initial shyness it’s a calming, cleansing, and nearly meditative experience that most visitors are eager to repeat.

Geisha Dinner

Perhaps the most extravagant way to spend an evening in Japan is to hire a real geisha to entertain you over dinner. These ladies have dedicated their lives to learning traditional music and dance, and are seen as the personification of refinement and elegance in Japan – custodians of the performing arts as much as they are entertainers. If you want an exclusive and culturally unique evening to remember, this is it.

Geisha

Geisha

What are your top 3 must see locations in Japan and what makes these locations so unmissable?

(Tokyo and Kyoto go without saying – they are the modern and traditional hearts of Japan respectively)

Hakone

  The most famous of the fifty-three stations on the old Tōkaidō Road from Kyoto to Edo (Tokyo’s ancient name), Hakone is best known for its peaceful lake, steaming hot springs, and above all, for its views of Mount Fuji. A popular holiday spot, it incorporates a number of museums, and sights are linked by ropeways, cable-cars and funicular or cliff railways. Lake Ashi (Ashi-no-ko) marks the centre of a large national park, and the mountains around (including old sections of the cobbled Tōkaidō Road) provide excellent walking trails, with Mount Fuji making a memorable backdrop.

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Mount Fuji

Miyajima

Across a narrow stretch of the Seto Inland Sea from Hiroshima is the small island shrine commonly known as Miyajima (‘shrine island’). The whole island has long been considered sacred and, historically, stepping foot on the island itself was allowed for devout men only. Nowadays visitors are welcome to the island, and it is well worth the short ferry ride to see the iconic red torii gate – an element of what is said to be one of the three best views in Japan. The spectacular torii, built on tidal sands, faces the majestic Itsukushima shrine at the foot of Mount Misen. As the tide comes in, sweeping under and around the ancient shrine, the torii appears to float on the sea. The shrine itself extends on stilts over the water, and at high tide the whole shrine appears to be floating on the waves too.

 Okinawa

Strung out to the south of Japan, the island chain of Okinawa reaches nearly as far as the Tropic of Cancer, pristinely white-sanded in the blue waters of the East China Sea. Originally an autonomous kingdom, the islands have a culture, climate and cuisine that are simultaneously Japanese and, to the mainlanders, almost foreign. People come here for the scuba diving and the superb beaches, and a number of world-class resorts dot the coastlines. Away from the coral reefs and untouched wilderness of the more remote islands, the prefectural capital of Naha is famous for pottery and markets.

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Okinawa Beach

What luxury accommodation can customers expect to enjoy whilst in Japan?

Luxury Hotels

There are some truly excellent western-style luxury hotels in Japan, especially in the bigger cities. To name just a few there are the Palace, the Peninsula and the Shangri-La in Tokyo, or the Hyatt Regency and the Granvia in Kyoto.

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Palace Hotel – Tokyo

Japanese Style Accommodation

Japanese-style ryokan accommodation can vary tremendously in character. There are inner-city establishments that focus on providing traditional comfort and luxury, such as the historically renowned Tawaraya in Kyoto, or ryokan situated to take advantage of natural hot springs, like the modern and super-exclusive Kaichoro in Ikaho Onsen (north of Tokyo). Most of the best ryokan are independent, but there is one chain in Japan – Hoshinoya – which manages a variety of properties in many of the most popular areas which are consistently outstanding.

Thank you very much to Matthew Fryett from Into Japan Specialist Tours for taking the time to answer our questions! If this has made you want to learn more about what Japan has to offer please do visit the Into Japan Specialist Tours stand, A28, at this year’s Luxury Travel Fair!

Luxury Travel in Cuba by Journey Latin America

Luxury Cuba Tour - Holiday in Cuba - Journey Latin America

Luxury Cuba Tour – Holiday in Cuba – Journey Latin America

The air of change set to sweep across the nation brings a holiday in Cuba to the forefront of every traveller’s mind. It’s certainly a destination to visit sooner rather than later, as it’s rich history continues to unfold a vibrant culture remains.

Combining bustling city life with white sanded Caribbean beaches, our Luxury Cuba Tour takes you to see real Cuba, in style. You’ll be treated to a chauffeur driven classical Cuban car, stay in elegant hotels and enjoy top notch services, such as the exclusive check-in where you’ll wait in the VIP lounge with a drink while your bags are attended to.

Luxury Cuba Tour - Classic Car Tour - Journey Latin America

Luxury Cuba Tour – Classic Car Tour – Journey Latin America

Cuba is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating islands as it boasts a rich Latin beat and a tropical joie de vivre. This journey begins in Havana with three nights in the Saratoga Hotel. Be sure to drag yourself away from the rooftop pool to visit Havana’s oldest streets and squares on a private tour that brings Hemingway’s path to life. Then on to La Vigia the former residence of the Nobel Prize winner for Cuba, where you can sneak a peek at the very hotel room in the Ambos Mundos Hotel where Hemingway wrote the first pages of his book; For Whom the Bell Tolls. Then take a trip to Cojimar – a fishing village – that provided the inspiration for the renowned The Old Man and the Sea novel.

With three days of exploring, you really get to grips with the city, as travel consultant Natalie Paiva says, “Havana is a gem of a city, and ideal to explore by foot – especially when wandering through Havana Vieja, going where the wind (or the mesmerising sound of salsa music) takes you.” We recommend sauntering along the cobbled streets, dropping into museums and galleries before finding a quirky bar for a tantalising mojito cocktail. To top off your Havana experience on one of the evenings you’ll take a private trip out to the notorious, extravagant cabaret show at Club Tropicana.

Luxury Cuba Tour - Havana Tour - Journey Latin America

Luxury Cuba Tour – Havana Tour – Journey Latin America

A Journey Latin America client recently fed back: “Havana for us was the best. Anyone interested in culture, history and other ways of life should visit this city. Many UK and Canadian visitors opt for the ‘all-in’ beach resort and never expose themselves to the real and remarkably beautiful Cuba.”

The tour also takes in Trindad which functions at a calmer pace. Here you’ll meander through the cobbled streets and explore parks, churches and mansions that this well-preserved UNESCO World Heritage Site has to offer. You’ll stay in a beautifully restored colonial hotel in the heart of town – an idyllic base from which to mosey around the rest of this stunning town.

Drive along the causeways to Cayo Santa Maria to reach your final destination, one that is full of rest and relaxation. The all-inclusive resort is stylish and contemporary, located on the undeveloped, rustic side of the island. Hotel Melia Buenavista hosts two of the finest beaches in Cuba.

Luxury Cuba Tour - Cayo Santa Maria - Journey Latin America

Luxury Cuba Tour – Cayo Santa Maria – Journey Latin America