Travel news: the art of escape
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December 2020 was a challenging moment, to say the least, for a maiden foray into hotelier-dom. But that didn’t stop Robert Kofler and his wife Edda, Austrians living in José Ignacio, Uruguay, from taking a gamble with Posada Ayana, which sits a stone’s throw from the yellow sands of Mansa Beach. Like others before him, Kofler, an avid art collector, initially envisioned their sleek guesthouse as a holiday home; but as the design proliferated to eight bedrooms, a three-room private villa, myriad indoor-outdoor spaces, and multiple gardens, he realised he had a hotel on his hands – an adults-only, ultra-private one, of the sort of which he and his family had long experience.
Brazilians and Argentines of a stylish stripe quickly sealed its popularity, and Robert has since been joined by one of his daughters, who left New York to help with Ayana’s evolution. Next month the posada will reopen with 17 rooms, the additions executed in the same lapacho wood and stone, glass walls and vintage ’50s and ’60s furniture that characterise the original suites. The feather in the Koflers’ cap, however, comes from James Turrell, who has created one of his famous Skyspace installations on site – the first freestanding one on the South American continent. A monumental white marble dome set atop a temple-like structure clad in earth and grass, Turrell’s work, here as elsewhere, harnesses the dynamism and beauty of daylight. It’s a near-spiritual moment of contemplation to sit inside one, and worth travelling for. posada-ayana.com, from $435
Venetian (and milanese) blinders
Just in time for autumn’s fashion and culture seasons, two city hotels promising original takes on local style are debuting in Italy. Ca’ di Dio is Venice’s buzzy newcomer (though not new per se; the palazzo’s foundations date to the 13th century). Spanish design polymath Patricia Urquiola has created the interiors, from the architectural renovation to the textile and rug designs and the Murano lamps (she’s a long-time collaborator of some of Murano’s finest glass producers). The courtyard bar-restaurant is shaded by magnolias; the top-floor Altana suites have views from San Giorgio Maggiore to St Mark’s. And then there’s its strategic proximity to both the Arsenale and to Cesare and Diane Benelli’s unassailable Al Covo, which might just be our favourite restaurant in the entire northern hemisphere.
Over in Milan, meanwhile, Neri Baccheschi-Berti, the 29-year-old second-generation owner of Tuscany’s Castello di Vicarello, is this month opening the seven-room Vico on Corso Genova, close to the sought-after design addresses of Tortona and the Navigli’s rambling weekend market. As at Vicarello, there are beautiful furnishings sourced near and far: family heirlooms and one-off finds from Isfahan and Marrakech, alongside a collection of original art and antique textiles. The atmosphere is part members’ club, part B&B, and refreshingly different for the city. vretreats.com, from $450; vicomilano.com, from €280
Sand and deliver
Mozambique has borne a challenging couple of years between the pandemic, the insurgent violence in the country’s north and cyclone barrages that have wrought hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. Chapeau to Nina Flohr, then, for persevering with Kisawa Sanctuary, her beach escape on 300 private hectares at the southern tip of Benguerra Island, on Mozambique’s central coast. Flohr, the daughter of VistaJets founder Thomas Flohr, is a neophyte to both the hotel world and the conservation one, but this hasn’t diluted her resolve or her aspirations; among other things she has established a marine conservation foundation on the island and experimented with 3D sandprinting for the architecture of the one-, two- and three-bedroom bungalows, minimising their physical footprint. There are lots of industry eyes on this project, ambitious in both scope and intention; its success could be a boon to a stretch of beautiful and deserving African coast. kisawasanctuary.com, from €5,000 per couple per night