It’s said, the motions of planning a trip can provide as much happiness as the trip itself… clicking that ‘reserve flights’ button, or confirming your reservation at a hotel you’ve always wanted to go. This rush – and holiday high – is partly responsible for why travel is so deliciously addictive.
We know we feel it here at Lartisien. We look forward to every single one of our trips because we know the incredible experiences and encounters that wait for us at the other end, and this is what we want for our travelers as well. We want to take you, not only to the best destinations, but to the most unique as well, far-flung or close to home but truly exceptional… the kind that will stay with you long after you’re back home.
Rwanda – The incredible nature of Central Africa
Last year, brothers Ivan and Rouslan Lartisien went on a trip to Rwanda and it’s one they recall to be almost a spiritual awakening. Sitting at the heart of Africa, with a vast and varied landscape of cities, villages, savannas and rainforests, Rwanda is truly a country of innumerable discoveries and experiences.
Like the One&Only Nyungwe House… a throwback to old Africa and its unspoiled nature, but also a glimpse into its future. For a start, the hotel’s decor is all stone and wood, providing a rustic atmosphere while never understating the luxury factor.
The hotel’s 22 rooms are also scattered across the estate and almost submerged in nature. No matter where you look, the forest calls out to you in the most visceral fashion, whether you’re lying in bed, doing the exhilarating canopy walk or exploring the rainforest in the footsteps of its elusive chimpanzees.
A different but equally enthralling experience of Rwanda is the One&Only Gorilla’s Nest. Scattered at the foothills of the Virunga Mountains, the hotel is about one thing: the primal beings that hide within the dense vegetation of the mountains. You already know why you’re here. The surprise is everything that leads you to that indescribable moment. For a start, the hotel is home to just 14 rooms, built like individual treehouses and spread out over a forest of eucalyptus. The experience is a complete immersion in the Central African rainforest, and though the interiors are luxurious and undeniably comfortable, the treehouses exist in harmony with the surroundings. Every experience at the One&Only Gorilla’s Nest feels like a nature trail, even the walk from your room to the restaurant, itself completely open to the outside and providing a panoramic view of the forest.
But the absolute highlight of any stay here is, of course, the mountain gorillas. Following the expert guides who know the forest like the back of their hand, you will be led deep into the forest, looking for the tiniest movement and listening to the subtlest noise coming from every direction. And at some point, you will suddenly see your guide brandish his blade at some branches, and there you will be… in the middle of a family of mountain gorillas. Elusive, powerful and absolutely beautiful creatures, it’s a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Utah – An experience of the New Wild West
A land of wild plains, red earth, vertiginous mesas and canyons, Utah remains, to this day, the epitome of the Old Wild West, and sitting amid this wilderness, surrounded on all sides by the rock formations of the Colorado Plateau, is one of the most beautiful hotels of our Collection, the Amangiri. It’s the kind of place that feels almost lost in the middle of nowhere, but to people who’ve been, it’s a gateway to the untouched – and unperturbed – nature of an ancient landscape.
It’s a place where the line between man-made comfort and the grand gift of nature is blurred. The hotel seems to, at one point, disappear into the landscape beyond, and this is the Amangiri’s purpose.
The hotel is also one that feels inspired by Native American architecture but in Aman’s signature minimalist style. The concrete and stone rooms feel solid, substantial and secure, offering all the protection you need from the environment, while the terraces and sun decks provide an unobstructed view of the outside, giving you a taste of what days here are all about: walking, climbing, breathing in the air and exploring the environs, feeling your body, mind and soul align with Mother Nature.
Kyoto – The ancient atmosphere of Japan’s old imperial capital
Most travelers who make it to Japan make it to Tokyo, and while the city’s bright lights and intimate backstreets make for a wonderful holiday, there is something to be said about Japan’s ancient capital and its breathtaking landscapes. Kyoto oozes the kind of ancient atmosphere that Tokyo never could, with gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, innumerable little shrines, cherry blossoms carried by the wind and locals in traditional kimonos.
If you’re headed to Kyoto, a hotel that’s provides a true taste of the old imperial capital is the Aman Kyoto. The hotel is nothing less than an homage to the city itself. A secret kept at the heart of a forest near the golden Kinkaku-ji Temple, the hotel almost feels like a spiritual escape. It also makes full use of the city’s atmosphere and love of traditions to provide a kind of sojourn that harkens back to the ancient rituals of Japan. The restaurant Taka-An, for instance, offers a culinary experience that updates the omakase setting to something more modern in looks, but equally exquisite in feel, and the Living Pavilion offers more than 20 different types of tea for tea rituals. As for the hotel’s spa, it sits in a pavilion at the heart of a tranquil garden, with the sound of a hot spring nearby.
What could be more Kyoto?
Oman – An unsung experience of the Middle East
Much like Kyoto, Oman is a destination shrouded in mystery and a priori. You hear Oman, you immediately think of the UAE’s desert landscape, or perhaps something closer to Dubai’s futuristic character… but trust us when we tell you: Oman is so much more. From snow-capped mountains visible from canyons to rustic-chic villages scattered along the coast, Oman is a land of diverse landscapes.
Just take the setting of the Alila Jabal Akhdar for instance. Sitting some 2000 meters above sea level, in the Al Hajar mountains, the hotel is one of the most unique wilderness escapes you can imagine, surrounded by vistas of jagged slopes, ravines and canyons, and an architecture that’s almost exclusively local stone and wood. Inside, the décor is decidedly Omani. And the Omani décor is about the only thing this hotel has in common with the next one!
Built like a modern Arabian fortress expanding into the Gulf of Oman, Shangri-La Al Husn Resort & Spa, sitting on its own private bay in Muscat, provides a completely different experience of Oman, one where the mountains are only the backdrop, and the views are those of the Arabian Sea. It’s a romantic escape completely open to the sea… like the rooms, with their arched windows and spacious terraces, welcome the sea breeze – and scent – in.
The décor is also that perfect marriage of modern and traditional Arabian aesthetics. Did we mention the ideal Muscat climate? It’s all chilly breezes and warm sun, and that right there is Oman welcoming you.