Bespoke travel experiences
There is always a buzz among our team of experts – whether we are reflecting on past trips taken, looking at photographs and reading feedback sent to us by clients, chatting to our friends on the ground in our destinations or discussing new openings and exciting itineraries we are designing.
So we thought we would share some of these luxury and bespoke travel experiences with you by asking our very well travelled Destination Experts 18 quick questions.
1. If you could eat in one restaurant or market in the world – where would it be?
Jenny Wilkinson: “There are some very exciting restaurants that have recently opened in Lima and Cuzco. Rather than going to just one, I would design a gastronomic journey in the two cities and end with a culinary cruise on the new Aqua Nera in the Amazon.”
Penny Buckley: “The Japanese eight-seater counter restaurant at Soneva Fushi in the Maldives called Once Upon a Table. This is a culinary theatre with no menu, allowing the creativity and skills of the chef to take centre stage. When we went there, we were treated to the most delicious sushi by Chef Kenji Gyoten, the youngest Michelin-starred chef in Japan. His restaurant is called Sushi Gyoten in Fukuoka. The views from every corner of the room are spectacular!”
Claire Ferguson: “Cultiva in Nairobi. Originally a pop-up in one of Nairobi’s suburbs, this is now a permanent fixture as it’s had such a cult following. The kitchens are housed in shipping containers and the furniture is made out of old oil drums and pallets. They grow their own produce, and during lockdown in Nairobi, they perfected the art of baking and delivered to households in the local area. The food is incredible and the cocktail list is immense!”
Venetia Stanley: “It would have to be the Little India food market in Singapore, serving up endless delicious dishes from north and south India. Oh my goodness, it is amazing…”
2. You can stay for one night in any hotel – where would you choose?
Jenny Wilkinson: “Without a doubt, Kasiiya Papagayo, a phenomenal eco-retreat set within 123 acres of rich jungle and deserted beaches in the north-west of Costa Rica. With just nine suites, this is a really exclusive hideaway in a wonderfully remote and beautiful spot.”
Claire Ferguson: “Amanjiwo on Java in Indonesia has to be the most incredible hotel I’ve ever stayed in. It overlooks the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Borobodur. There is nowhere else like it. Take me back!”
Venetia Stanley: “This would have to be the Takefue ryokan on the island of Kyushu in Japan. Deep in the bamboo forest near the active volcano of Mt Aso, this ryokan is incredibly secluded. Our room even had its own rotenburo outdoor bath and the kaiseki here was amazing.”
Antonia Black: “I’m torn between Bawah island in Indonesia or Deplar Farm in Iceland’s Troll Peninsula. Either of these would be pretty cool.”
Penny Buckley: “Aman Tokyo. The most impressive city hotel in Asia as far as I am concerned and an urban sanctuary in the heart of buzzing Tokyo. The views are out of this world from the bedrooms, especially the Corner Suites. It’s hard to leave.”
3. Tell us about one of your most memorable travel experiences?
Claire Ferguson: “My first safari. Nothing can prepare you for just how much of a privilege it is to be able to see so many incredible and sadly now endangered animals in the wild.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “It’s so hard to pick one! I lived in Japan when I was very young but the patchwork of memories that I have are still so vivid. I would love to go back one day and compare them with adult eyes.”
Venetia Stanley: “Travelling throughout Bhutan stands out. I loved my time here so much that I am hoping to return here on my honeymoon. I would absolutely love to go back and explore further afield.”
Millie Summers: “My flying safari on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast. It was like being in an amazing nature documentary for four days. We flew over dramatic scenery, seal colonies and unique desert wildlife, stopping off in completely remote locations that no one else gets to. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
Antonia Black: “Tracking orangutans in Borneo has to be my most memorable travel experience.”
4. If you could swim in one ocean, sea or pool, where would it be?
Millie Summers: “The swimming pool at Sasaab, a tented camp in a private conservancy in Kenya’s Samburu National Park. The pool is set into a hill and, from it, you look out over the river, the Samburu and their cattle – bells tinkling away – and the Matthew Mountains Range in the distance. The scenery here is simply stunning.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “Swimming in the ocean at NIHI Sumba in Indonesia remains one of my happiest memories. I would love to go back.”
Claire Ferguson: “The Indian Ocean.”
5. Name an initiative or project in one of our destinations that’s impressed you?
Christopher Wilmot Sitwell: “In the Ibera Wetlands of north-eastern Argentina is one of a number of far-sighted rewilding projects spanning Argentina and Chile. What is impressive about Rincón del Socorro is that it has combined a number of parallel objectives. It has taken a working estancia out of food production and into sustainable tourism, thus preserving both habitat and local community jobs. And it has combined this with species reintroduction (most notably its jaguar project) and returning private land to public ownership and access.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “The work that Petit and her team are doing with the Sol y Luna Foundation in Peru is so inspiring.”
Claire Ferguson: “The entire initiative of HBD impresses me so much. They are transforming the lives of the people of São Tomé + Príncipe in so many diverse ways. It’s a huge project but there are already such positive results emerging.”
Millie Summers: “I love Ocean Sole, which makes sculptures using flip-flops that have been washed up by the sea. It started as a tiny local project on Kiwayu Island, off northern Kenya, where I worked, and has now gained traction across the world. It’s amazing to see what it has grown into now. Oceans are so important and it’s great that someone is doing something so positive to protect them.”
6. Where is the best night’s sleep you’ve had on a trip?
Millie Summers: “Ellerman House in Cape Town. I stayed in one of two amazing private villas at Ellerman House, a very stylish and incredibly photogenic place to stay. Built with floor-to-ceiling glass, the views over the ocean were unbelievable.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “Sleeping under the stars on the deck of a boat in the British Virgin Islands.”
Venetia Stanley: “Aman Tokyo for sure. The beds are unbelievable.”
Claire Ferguson: “Any safari tent with a hot-water bottle at the end of the bed keeping you warm all night.”
7. If you could have a picnic anywhere in the world, where would you choose?
Venetia Stanley: “My favourite place to picnic would be at the top of the Dragon’s Back hike in Hong Kong, with stunning views of southern Hong Kong Island and its shoreline.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “Antarctica definitely – for the novelty factor.”
Antonia Black: “A hard one! I think it would have to be on safari in Botswana watching lions on the prowl or elephants wallowing in the shallows.”
8. What has been your most memorable spot in Africa for a sundowner?
Henrietta Loyd: “There have been so many but possibly in the middle of the Kalahari Desert near Jack’s Camp in Botswana, surrounded by the shimmering saltpans of the Makgadikgadi, with the sounds of a distant lion roaring and I mean nothing else around. It is hard to describe as the landscape is endless, with nothingness stretching out before you, but it is so beautiful in its simplicity and harshness, and is wonderfully surreal.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “Sitting on a hill above the shores of Lake Turkana in Kenya with a cold beer in my hand. It’s the closest I’ve ever come to being in total silence – not even the sound of birds to break it.”
Millie Summers: “We quadbiked to a spectacular sundowner spot at Sossusvlei in Namibia, where they had laid out lots of different gins. We sipped gin and tonics as the huge sand dunes and rocks surrounding us turned from orange to purple and other amazing colours.”
Claire Ferguson: “Any kopje in the Loliondo area of northern Tanzania.”
9. What’s the most magical place you have explored on foot and why?
Jenny Wilkinson: “The Atacama Desert in Chile. I couldn’t believe the colours, particularly at sunset and sunrise.”
Claire Ferguson: “Walking along the Zambezi River in Mana Pools National Park in Zimbabwe. We were guided by the infamous Stretch Ferreira who had the most unique relationship with the elephants and wild dogs in the area, having been a local resident for so many years.”
Venetia Stanley: “Beirut – because of its old world charm, amazing hidden art galleries and insane restaurants.”
Millie Summers: “This would have to be South Luangwa National Park in Zambia. It’s an amazing experience to return to how they used to safari in the good old days and set out on a mobile camping safari. Your team will move your camp every day as you explore this pristine wilderness on foot. It feels exhilarating and pioneering.”
10. If you could walk along one beach in the world, where would it be?
Jenny Wilkinson: “The beach at Txai Resort Itacaré in Bahia, Brazil. Last time I was there, I walked alone for two hours and never saw another human – just me, the white sand and the waves crashing in from the Atlantic Ocean.”
Venetia Stanley: “The beach at Six Senses Laamu in the Maldives. Nowhere compares to this powdery, chalk-white slice of heaven.”
Claire Ferguson: “Anse Source d’Argent, a glorious beach on the island of La Digue in the Seychelles.”
Antonia Black: “The long, rugged and breathtaking beach at NIHI Sumba in Indonesia. You feel as if you’re at the end of the Earth.”
Millie Summers: “Shela Beach on Lamu, off the Kenyan coast, is glorious, wild and beautiful, with soft, white sand lapped by the Indian Ocean. There are no buildings or people – just the odd stray camel appearing out of the dunes. You could walk for hours here.”
11. Recall a guide who really stood out to you and why?
Jenny Wilkinson: “There have been so many fantastic guides over the past 15 years. One of my favourites was Seelan in Sri Lanka. He was kind, incredibly astute at reading people and his depth of knowledge is fathomless. We are still friends and he is working tirelessly to help Sri Lankans in need during this difficult time.”
Venetia Stanley: “Tomoko-San in Kanazawa in Japan was incredible. She introduced us to all the city’s ramen bars and showed us the house and neighbourhood where her family grew up, bringing everything to life.”
Claire Ferguson: “Jackson Looseyia in Kenya. I was lucky enough to work for him for a short time but he is a natural raconteur – hence his involvement in presenting Big Cat Diary.”
12. If you could charter one boat in the world, what would it be, where and why?
Jenny Wilkinson: “The Origin or Theory in the Galápagos Islands. This would make the most perfect family adventure with our children and friends.”
Venetia Stanley: “Mischief in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands. It is a very comfortable and absolutely stunning boat inspired by phinisi, traditional Indonesian sailboats. In my view, there would be no better way to explore this incredible corner of the world.”
Antonia Black: “I would love to travel along the Egyptian Nile aboard one of the four Nour el Nil dahabiyas with my wider family. This would be an amazing trip.”
Claire Ferguson: “Island-hopping on any boat in Raja Ampat. The area looks simply stunning and unspoilt. It’s also incredibly hard to access, which I think adds to the unique adventure I imagine it would be.”
Millie Summers: “I would love to set sail from Lamu up the coast of Kenya aboard Tusitiri, a beautiful, traditional dhow that sleeps up to 10 people.”
13. If you could witness or be in the presence of one animal, what would it be?
Millie Summers: “I could never get bored of watching male lions in the wild. These magnificent creatures are the king of the jungle. You can’t help but be in complete awe of them.”
Antonia Black: “I would love to swim and snorkel with whale sharks on the Ningaloo Reef in north-west Australia.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “I’ve always dreamt of swimming with pink dolphins like Christopher did on his trip to the Amazon. His photographs were extraordinary.”
Claire Ferguson: “Gorillas – I am in awe of them…”
14. Which itinerary have you most enjoyed designing for a client and why?
Jenny Wilkinson: “When I first started at cazenove+loyd more than 10 years ago, I designed a three-week holiday for a lovely family in Ecuador. They were keen for an adventure and the journey took them from Quito to the depths of the Amazon rainforest, then some off-grid trekking in the Andes and ending in the Galápagos Islands. I got to know them well over the months of planning and it was a joy to research and design some truly unique experiences and surprises for them. We are now planning the honeymoon for one of their oldest children and that feels really special.”
Venetia Stanley: “I arranged an amazing holiday for a family who wanted to explore China in winter and then enjoy the hot springs, onsens and some skiing in Japan. It was an epic trip.”
Claire Ferguson: “A first-time safari to Kenya for a single female traveller. She was so nervous about travelling but by the end of her two-week safari, she had slept in a tent, slept out under the stars and stalked lions and elephants on foot. The trip caused her to change career and she is now a successful wildlife photographer.”
Antonia Black: “I have put together a six-week sabbatical across Southeast Asia and Indonesia. My clients were interested in meeting many specialist guides and having quirky experiences along the way, which I have loved arranging. They’re also going diving in one of my favourite places in the world. It doesn’t get better than that!”
Penny Buckley: “A multigenerational family holiday for some Canadian clients to Tahiti and Bora Bora in the Pacific Islands at Christmas.”
15. Name an experience you haven’t yet done that is on your list
Jenny Wilkinson: “Whale-watching in the Arctic Peninsula.”
Penny Buckley: “Visiting Kaga Onsen, south of Kanazawa in Japan, to visit the Yamato Soysauce & Miso Co factory.”
Claire Ferguson: “Diving with whale sharks in Mozambique… I miss them every time!”
16. WHAT IS TOP OF YOUR WISHLIST FOR YOUR NEXT TRIP?
Antonia Black: “I would absolutely love to explore the villages and remote and wild landscapes of Ladakh, a region in the Indian Himalayas.”
Jenny Wilkinson: “My list is now pages long but I’m keen to get to Costa Rica to experience some of the exciting new lodges out there.”
Venetia Stanley: “I would love to visit the temples of Borobudur on the island of Java at sunrise.”
Claire Ferguson: “Having not been able to get to Africa for so long, I simply want to get back out into the bush, sleep out under the stars and listen to those intense night calls again.”
Millie Summers: “I have been saying this for so long perhaps this year I will do it! I would love to go to southern and western Tanzania. I’m dying to go to Ruaha National Park, Katavi and the Mahale Mountains – all wonderfully remote and wild places. It would be a real adventure.”
17. WHERE TO NEXT AND HOW EXCITED ARE YOU?
Jenny Wilkinson: “I cannot wait to go to Petit St Vincent in St Vincent + the Grenadines in the Caribbean. I love their approach to sustainability and the fact that it’s a private island so you’re miles from anywhere. Dreamy!”
Claire Ferguson: “Kenya – I am so excited as this will be a first-time safari experience for my seven- and five-year-olds. They will be mesmerised, I am sure. I feel very lucky to be able to take them there.”
Venetia Stanley: “The Pacific Islands – I am so excited about travelling to these far-flung isles to explore this incredible corner of the world.”
Millie Summers: “I would love to go to Rwanda. The country has changed so much in recent years to a phenomenal wildlife destination with incredible places to stay. You can now have three very different African experiences here: tracking gorillas in Volcanoes National Park, spotting the Big Five at Akagera and spotting chimpanzees at Nyungwe.”
18. WHAT’S NEXT FOR CAZENOVE+LOYD?
Venetia Stanley: “We are very excited about launching our European portfolio this autumn and are also expanding our Caribbean and Arctic Circle offerings, including Denmark + the Faroe Islands, Finland, Norway, Greenland and Sweden.
We are also continuing to focus on philanthropic and conservation-minded travel, so we can help our clients to travel more consciously.”