The idea of even contemplating a summer holiday abroad seemed a distant dream having been in lockdown in London for three months. But to my surprise flight tickets and our hotel was booked last minute to Spain after the UK government eased the travel restrictions to some European destinations in July. So my best friends, their two children and I were off on an adventure with a slight mixture of excitement and trepidation. With masks now being mandatory, we arrived at the airport and they barely came off unless to drink. On arrival there was a simple temperature check and then we took to the road.
We decided that Finca Cortesin in Marbella, Spain would be the perfect place to unwind. On arrival everything was calm, the hotel staff greeted us in a welcoming manner and the check in process was in no way intimidating considering there was and still is a global pandemic. At this point our masks still remained on but as soon as we were checked in and social distancing was in place it was advised that we could remove our masks. We remained at the hotel for the duration of our stay, but, if we had left, it is mandatory in Spain that when in public you must wear a mask. Hand sanitisers were in every corner of the hotel and over the next few days it became evident that the attention to cleaning was of an exceptional standard in terms of hygiene.
Finally it was time to embrace the holiday! The panoramic views of the Andalucian coast were sensational: mountains; blue skies; sapphire blue sea; and bright sunshine for miles. The feeling of excitement and freedom of being in another country, in a beautiful hotel surrounded by stunning views was completely overwhelming. A feeling of immense gratitude descended upon me. One thing that really stood out was how private it felt and this is down to the expansive interior and exterior spaces of the hotel. 23,000 square metres of manicured gardens to be precise! Ideal when it comes to social distancing.
Inspired by traditional Spanish architecture, every corner of the hotel revealed a new space, whether it be the Moroccan pink room or a beautiful courtyard filled with palm trees. The only time that slightly burst our holiday bubble and brought us back to reality was when the UK implemented quarantine of anyone coming back in from Spain. After a family discussion, we decided that rather than head back to the UK as planned and into quarantine, we’d extend our holiday and turn it into a European adventure! So off to Italy we went.
I have always dreamed of going to Lake Como and my wish was absolutely granted. On arrival to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, it was as if I had just stepped on to a Wes Andersen style movie set. And it remained this way for the duration of my stay, from the candy coloured drawing room to the orange and white striped umbrellas on their private lakeside lido. It was quite simply a visual feast around every corner.
This family run hotel with the lovely Valentina De Santis at the helm was quite simply extraordinary in every way. From the staff wearing bespoke GHT logo silk masks to the bright orange collaborative Superga trainers worn by the pool attendants. Everything had been thought through and the attention to detail did not go unmissed. This majestic hotel is an art nouveau masterpiece and the juxtaposition of old world fantasy and contemporary luxury made me fall in love with it.
I feel so fortunate to have been away and to witness the beauty of two countries during a global pandemic. And I can quite safely say I will never take travel or holidays for granted again having spent nearly twelve weeks in London’s lockdown, oh and lets not forget one week in hospital during the height of COVID -19 having surgery to remove my perforated appendix!