I will be heading to a farmhouse on the outskirts of Grasse in Provence for a yoga retreat. I go every year – last year it was in Portugal – and it’s a form of escape. You get so caught up in trying to be the best, trying to be efficient and succeeding in this five-star world, that’s it’s good to just switch off and realise that you are not at the centre of everything. The retreats are run by a company called Yogoloji and they are pretty hardcore – you do about four or five hours of yoga a day. There will be about 10 of us and I love the fact that you get to meet people from all walks of life, careers and nationalities. Yoga is a real leveller. It’s a million miles away from what I do every day. I would never go away with another hotelier as it would just be non-stop whinging. You have to have a double standard – what you’ll accept from another hotel and what you’d expect in your own hotel.
Yogoloji (www.yogoloji.co.uk) offers meditation and yoga retreats in various European destinations, from around £2,200 ($3,600) per week
I have been to Cape Town three times before and hope to go back this year. Late summer or early autumn (their spring) is a great time for wildlife, especially whale watching. I like to catch the cable car to the top of Table Mountain and take a leisurely walk down to admire the views. I relax by going for runs along the beach. I like the fact that it’s an overnight flight and the time zone is similar to London, so you don’t suffer too badly from jet lag. On a previous visit I stayed at the Vineyard Hotel in the suburb of Newlands. It’s an exceptional hotel and a real treat. However, there’s another side to Cape Town, which is equally important to understand. On my last trip I spent a few days working in the townships on a project working with HIV-positive women and children. It was an inspirational visit and one I will never forget.
I always go to Norman’s Cay, one of the Exuma islands in the Bahamas. I take my boat down there for weekends (it’s about an hour’s run from Nassau). There is a little conch shack/bar named MacDuff’s nestled among the huge casuarina trees lining a four-mile long beach. The colour of the water is simply unlike anything I have seen anywhere in the world, and out there I feel as though my family and I are the only people alive. It is a true escape and a beautiful place to spend some time.
One bedroom villas at Norman’s Cay Beach Club (www.ncbcmacduffs.com), operated by the same owners as MacDuff’s, cost from $250 per night. Alternatively, the nearby private island Musha Cay (www.mushacay.com) costs from $37,500 per night for up to 12 guests, full-board. For more, see www.bahamas.com
I’m going to Saint Petersburg in June for the white nights. During these weeks surrounding the summer solstice, sunsets are late, sunrises are early, and darkness is never complete. The days and nights are filled with many great festivities and the city is alive and bustling. It is a magical experience to walk the canals in a seemingly unending twilight.
Opera, ballet and classical music performances staged by the Mariinsky Theatre (www.mariinsky.ru/en) take place until July 24. The Taleon Imperial Hotel (www.eliseevpalacehotel.com) has doubles from Rbs18,100 (£393). For more travel information, see www.visitrussia.org.uk
I spend my life in glorious five-star hotels, so when I go away for escapism, I tend to choose quite basic places that are not too far away. August is one of my quieter months but, of course, it is the busiest tourism month, so I tend to take short, easy holidays then. My favourite escape is the west coast of Scotland. I fly to Glasgow, rent a car, and go right over to the remote west coast near Oban. There is a small, family-owned hotel called the Crinan, right on the Crinan canal where it meets the harbour and the sea. It is basic but the food is great and the views spectacular – plus there’s no mobile phone signal. The shellfish comes in every day on the trawler and the wine is good. I am in bed by 10 and sleep like a log.
At the end of the summer I will be going to Kanha National Park in India. It’s a wildlife reserve in the state of Madhya Pradesh and it’s one of the most magical places I’ve ever been. We’ve been taking my two daughters there since they were aged four and seven and, 10 years later, they still love it. The vegetation is so dense that, even though it may be 40C outside, it’s cool inside the forest. It’s one of the few places you can do elephant-back tiger safaris. Elephants are not indigenous to the region so the tigers do not see them as prey. You go out at dawn and dusk on game drives looking for leopard, wild boar, tiger and Indian buffalo. We usually stay in Kipling Camp on the boundaries of the Kanha Tiger Reserve or the Taj Baghvan Resort in nearby Pench National Park.
The park is closed during monsoon season, from July to October, for details see www.kanhanationalpark.com. Kipling Camp (www.kiplingcamp.com) has doubles from $415 full-board. The Taj Baghvan Resort (www.tajhotels.com) costs from Rs20,000 (£274) a person per night, full-board
My in-laws own an old castle, Castello di Segalari, in Tuscany and the whole family goes there in August. It’s near Bolgheri, just south of Pisa, which is great cycling country and where many professionals train. There are a couple of loops you can do – 60km and 120km. It’s quite serious stuff but it’s what I like to do as it’s the only time I don’t have any other things on my mind. I’ll also take five or six books as it’s the only chance I get to read. The castle has a nice pool area and we’ll have a long lunch on the terrace, which has views of the sea, or perhaps eat at the Gambero Rosso, a two-Michelin-starred restaurant by the harbour in San Vincenzo.
Castello di Segalari is available for hire for groups of up to 18 through Sanctuare (www.sanctuare.com), from €7,000 per night. For villas in the area try www.cottagestocastles.com, www.cvtravel.co.uk, www.gamberorosso.it
I’ll be going to California. My partner is American and we have a property in Glenview, on the east side of San Francisco Bay. There are no beaches as such but there are fantastic coastal walks along the clifftops. The Napa Valley is about an hour’s drive away and we like to visit the Castello di Amorosa winery. It’s in the most beautiful setting and it’s built in the style of an old Italian castle. We’ll buy a couple of bottles, have a tasting and go for a hike. We’ll also take the ferry from Oakland across the bay to San Francisco for a meal or a museum visit. The ferry gives you the most incredible views of the city skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge.
Castello di Amorosa has details of local hotels on its website, www.castellodiamorosa.com
Japan needs us now more than ever and they are welcoming visitors with even more open arms and warmth than usual after their key spring tourism season was decimated. The more time I spend in Japan, the less I understand about the Japanese and their fascinating country, which is so completely different from the rest of Asia (which I know fairly well). So I am off to further deplete my knowledge, travelling to the island of Naoshima, which has many contemporary art galleries, the mountains of Hokkaido and the rural Noto peninsula, one of the most secluded corners of Japan.
I’m taking the family to Aspen at the end of July for 10 days. We’re renting a house in town and my wife Kimberly, a very avid photographer, will do a workshop at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center while the three kids hang out with me. We’re pretty much all about fitness, so we plan to take the gondola to Snowmass where there’s a 40-mile mountain bike trail. Since there was lots of snow this year, we hope to fit in some back-country skiing. If not, there’s always the funky Aspen Rec Center for ice skating and swimming. We’re avid skiers and go to Aspen in winter often but never before in summer. I’m looking forward to the beautiful alpine scenery and, with all the snow this past season, the wildflowers will be crazy. I’m also excited to dine at all the great restaurants in town, especially Matsuhisa, Cache Cache and, my favourite, BB’s Kitchen for breakfast.
The Little Nell hotel (www.thelittlenell.com) has doubles from $340. For house rentals and restaurant listings, see www.aspenchamber.org. Anderson Ranch runs more than 140 summer workshops, see www.andersonranch.org
I travel for about three months of the year but it’s nearly always for work. The only time I truly relax is when I go to Ibiza because it’s a world apart from the sort of holidays I sell. I stay with an old school friend who has a finca in the hills about five miles inland from San Antonio. Summer is a busy time but I hope to get a long weekend there in August. My friend has a 1950s Riva wooden speedboat and we’ll pack a picnic and go off to explore the coast, or else we’ll drive a Jeep down to Cala Comte or Cala Tarida and splash about in the sea with his kids. My favourite place to hang out is the Rock Bar in Ibiza Old Town – it’s a cool bar with a pool table and is where Kate Moss goes when she’s in town. I’ve been going to Ibiza since I was 17 but it’s a so much better if you know someone there.
Coastline Villas (www.coastline.co.uk), The Villa Book (www.thevillabook.com) and CV Travel (www.cvtravel.co.uk) offer self-catering properties in Ibiza, including converted fincas. www.therockbaribiza.com