Gorgeous George: Appropriately named jazz-luxury in Cape Town

Forget King George or George Costanza – there’s a new George in town….Cape Town, that is.

Centrally located in the upmarket St Georges Mall, Gorgeous George has its own inimitable style that sets it apart from other cool stays, a style that could best be described as a kind of chic, jazz luxury.

The focal point is the leafy rooftop that looks out over a hip neighbourhood, with sun beds surrounding a gorgeous (there’s no other way of saying it) wading pool.

The pool is perfect for pool parties, bikini-clad influencers, people that tan, and people looking to soothe their muscles after a big day climbing Table Mountain or in Cape Town’s renowned surf.

There’s a retro-style radio in each room and funky nude artwork adorns the walls in most rooms and corridors, pleasing both sophisticated connoisseurs and pervvy people. There’s a jazz bar on level one that heaves with stylish people (but closes quite early).

But it’s the rooftop that is the highlight. Get there as the sun rises, and get the braaied boerewors – little South African sausages that pack a heap of punch in a small package. Just like George.

French Polynesia in a cargo ship

Not long before the pandemic hit, get lost’s man on the ground Roberto Serrini got to experience the truly majestic collection of islands the Marquesas Island, a section of French Polynesia/Tahiti.

He did it in true get lost style, too: hopping around on a hybrid cargo ship, a mode of travel that was close to home, due to an old family story. 

“As a kid, one of my favourite stories was about how my grandfather came to New York City,” Roberto wrote for get lost.

“Travelling from Panama at the age of 12, he was stowed away on a cargo ship, tucked among ropes and crates as a hidden human package. Each time he told me the tale, I hung on every word with the same wide-eyed grip as the first time I heard it.

“It’s this story that peaked my interest in Aranui 5 – a cruise with a beautiful identity crisis; half cargo ship and half luxury cruise liner.

“The difference to my grandfather’s story, however, is I’m trading the Manhattan metropolis for the tropical Marquesas Islands, a handful of extremely remote, pristine islands within Polynesia. And I certainly don’t have to hide behind any crates. If the concept of Aranui 5 sounds a little unorthodox, it’s because it is.

“Sure, it’s a cargo ship that transports much needed supplies to these remote outposts of Polynesia, but it doubles as a luxury cruise ship where I’d be sleeping within the comforts of a delightfully appointed room, and spending my days sipping a cold Hinano beer next to the pool.

“When I first spot the ship, my jaw drops. It’s as if some mad scientist has Frankensteined commerce and tourism into some half-baked, late-night metal explosion. From the front, Aranui 5 doesn’t resemble the grandeur I’d expect. The bow masks its deep belly, which stores everything from cars to livestock, while two spindly cranes breach its sharp hull like a floating praying mantis. When I look to the stern, however, the scenery changes to a manicured amphitheatre of suites surrounding a beautiful open-air deck and pool, and balconies are decorated with colourful chairs inviting us into happy hour.

“It’s this brackish melee of sophistication and rustic culture that captures the intrepid spirit for any traveler willing to make the journey.”

Bateman’s Bay Luxury Motel

Luxury and motel aren’t usually words that go together.

But a new wave of upmarket retro motels have been springing up all over western travel routes, and the trend has reached Bateman’s Bay.

Isla Motel is one of these, 18 retro-inspired rooms in what was previously a run-down motel, catering to a new generation of travellers looking for affordable luxury. It’s the best of both worlds.

The outside of the motel is Byron Bay-chic, but hardly pretentious. The fact that the motel is a drop punt away from Bateman’s famed shoreline is another tick – the perfect place to come back to after grabbing a few waves.

You don’t even need to get to the beach – take it easy by the pool, which doesn’t look like someone’s been murdered in it like all the other motel pools you’ve ever seen (we’re sure this is the look they were going for).

The Isla opens this weekend (16 April).

These countries are relaxing their restrictions…here’s where to stay

Tahiti

Australians can once again travel to New Zealand, which opens up the Australia > Auckland > Tahiti route that has been so popular over the years.

Tahiti is made up of 118 islands, and is the original ‘overwater villa’ destination. St Regis Bora Bora Resort is among the most famous of these, and arguably the most beautiful, a series of palm trees flanked by gorgeous overwater thatched huts, where you can more or less roll out of your bed and into the South Pacific Ocean.

On its way, and also on (or near) Bora Bora is the ELYT Floating Villa, which gives new meaning to the experience of staying ‘on the water’ – a unique floating houseboat on a lagoon. The stay combines the luxury and epic water activities typical of a Tahiti stay, while also being ecologically friendly in protecting the Bora Bora island. It is expected to be ready later this year.

South Africa

South Africa further eased it’s international travel restrictions, with arrivals from overseas requiring proof of vaccination (or a negative test, if ineligible for vaccination).

It’s hard to imagine being closer to nature than this. Get raw beauty with a stay at Marataba’s Thabametsi Treehouse, where it’s just you, some wildlife and the sounds of the African bush. The double-storey treehouse is solar-powered, with a massive acacia tree protruding right through the middle.

There’s also a viewing deck offering 360-degree views of the surrounding valley. Sit back with a beer, and take it all in. 

Puerto Rico

Earlier this month, Puerto Rico scrapped almost all restrictions on international arrivals, requiring only proof of vaccination or a negative test result upon arrival.

Hix Island House in Puerto Rico is an unusual-looking, off-the-grid concrete slab of multiple apartments in a remote Puerto Rican jungle. The ocean is visible and so the beach is nearby, something that is true of most places in Puerto Rico, but you’ll probably never want to leave the house.

Open air showers, partially-open air beds, no glass and extraordinary views of the surrounding jungle make Hix aesthetically gorgeous, but also the perfect place to switch off for a few days.

Thailand

Thailand has been pretty tough when it comes to its restrictions, but they are starting to relax them – from April 1, foreign travelers will no longer be required to hold a COVID-free certificate issued within 72 hours of boarding a flight (testing on arrival is still required).

The Standard in Hua Hin is brand new, uber-cool splash of funkiness in southern-Thailand. It’s kind of eclectic: there’s disco balls above the bathtubs, and a cocktail bar featuring two gigantic cocktail-glass shaped concrete monoliths. It’s cool too: there’s DJs, and it’s all in luxurious Hua Hin, a beachside strip of paradise. Kick back and relax, or get loose – it’s up to you.

Stay in a Japanese wilderness

Looking for a city getaway? We know a few places in the Land of the Rising Sun.

Okinawa is a prefecture of Japan comprised of a group of islands in the East China Sea. It isn’t as heralded as a tourist destination as some of Japan’s other star attractions, despite the stunning beaches and dense jungles that comprise it.

Getting close to nature and feeling its connection lure you closer to Earth is what a holiday in this part of the world is all about. With this in mind, a Shinminka Villa is the perfect place to base yourself, be that for a short time or an extended stay.

Shinminka Villas are four almost identical timber villas spread out across Okinawa’s islands that follow traditional Okinawan minka folk house design. With entirely transparent outer walls, this simple but aesthetically pleasing accommodation allows you to blend in as part of the natural environment during your stay. Within the confines of the humble timber design, there’s no shortage of places to relax: there’s a large bathtub, as well as a hammock, and there’s one villa with a pool as well.

Kicking back, surrounded by your own garden or jungle or beach, isolated in your own little world, is arguably as good as island life gets. One is also an extension of the island’s oldest ryokan, making it easy to reconnect with your body as well as the island. Okinawa and it’s surrounding islands are characterised by a variety of terrain and geography; a patchwork of waterfalls and rivers, jungles and mangroves.

Hiking and swimming are aplenty in these parts if you wish, but so is relaxing, in your own little intimate slice of Japanese wilderness.

Nakijin Castle is a 14th century castle ruins nearby to Shinminka.

Take it easy, Brother

Ever watch Gilligan’s Island? This is your chance to go full-Gilligan.

The Philippines are made up of over 7,000 islands, but there’s tiny one in particular we at get lost are interested in. Brother Island is situated in the Palawan province, next to El Nido, the famously beautiful resort island.

Fortunately, you can escape the crowds while marooning on Brother, where you can rent the entire island for not that much. For AUD $539 you get the entire, picturesque white-sand island to yourself – that’s just AUD $33 per night if you get 15 of your closest brothers (and sisters) together. Now granted, it is a tiny island – you can kayak the entire circumference in half an hour – but we think the idea of having an epic beach to yourself for you and a bunch of mates is pretty cool.

Included in the price is a Filipino ancestral-designed house with a heap of bedrooms, a well-preserved jungle and bamboo forest, a coral reef that skirts the perimeter of the whole island, and some of the whitest sand you are ever likely to come across. You can also get three-meals a day for a little bit extra.

A Swiss Cube in the Stars

Cube Aletsch bills itself as a ‘million star hotel’, and both points  are fairly straight to the point: It is a cube, and the million stars it refers to are in the sky, rather than referring to thread count (even if there is a hot tub).

The cube is 2,800 metres in the air, so you’re pretty close to the stars it refers to. This height also gives you breathtaking views of mountains (in true Swiss style) and the famous Aletsch Glacier from which it derives its name.

Watching the sun snake it’s way from the gigantic valley below up the surrounding mountains, from the timber patio, with a bottle of wine and probably some Swiss cheese for good measure, is as good as travelling gets.

The cube itself is a humbly furnished living container, but that’s all it needs to be, with access via a cable car. The Aletsch Glacier is one of Switzerland’s most beautiful (which is saying something in a country full of epic mountains) but it’s losing ice at a rapid rate, with scientists predicting it will have vanished by the year 2100, so see it now before it diminishes.

The Ark

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week announced a staged opening of New Zealand’s borders.

If it were us here at get lost that was traveling across the dutch, we know where we would want to stay. It’s called ‘The Ark’. And it’s f-arking delightful.

The Ark is a houseboat, but not as you know it. It’s situated in a quiet corner of a lake, five minutes down the road from a quaint village with an even quainter pub and a winery.

It’s a little wooden shack docked onto the wharf of the lake, with a deck to sit out and read, drink or get a tan, or maybe all at once. Go for a dip in the lake when it’s warm, or build a fire in the pit when it’s cold.

Even better: you’re completely off-grid here. No work emails nor pesky notifications from Zuckerberg. It’s arguably THE perfect place to unwind and relax – thanks for letting everyone back in, Jacinda.

Barefoot chic in Mozambique

Off the east coast of the East-African country Mozambique is the Archipelago de Bazaruto. And in this archipelago there are six islands of unfathomable beauty, including Benguerra Island. And it is on this island that the Kisawa Sanctuary is based, a brand new luxury opening that was built with a 3D printer.

O.K, we’re sure it wasn’t the only tool on the work site when this stunning retreat was being built, but it was used to construct things like flooring, tiling, benchtops, stools, tabletops, vases and more. That’s pretty cool in our book.

There are only 12 residences in Kisawa, each with its own private beach (!), an open-air deck, an infinity pool and more. There’s epic food, with some gun chefs cooking up a storm with local produce, and plenty of watersports – think spas, sailing and snorkelling.

As well as being a sanctuary for humans, the area is one for marine life too – the area surrounding the 55square kilometre island is a designated WWF national marine park. This means it’s an untouched, pristine environment, making it not unlikely for you to see a whale or a dugong in the distance as you sip a sunset champagne. Life could be worse.

A 700-year old Italian masterpiece

In the 700 years between the 14th century and now, a fair bit has taken place in Italy: the birth of Leonardo Da Vinci, the invention of the piano, the unification of the country and four soccer world cups, to name a few.

But stepping into Rastrello Boutique Hotel is like stepping 700 years back in time before all that took place, just with modern comforts of 2021.

The hotel is based in Umbria, central Italy – not far from Tuscany. Olive trees fill the fields and line the roads, making for a very Italian scene on the approach and as you look out from your balcony.

Rastrello is a palazzo restored with a lot of care, so much so that the old stone walls will make you feel like a King or Queen that you are…

Bella!