As the weeks of COVID-19 travel restrictions turned into months, we found ourselves spending more and more time thinking about where we would go when travel becomes a reality again. Our hearts lie in Asia but we also have a soft spot for European cities. As lovers of luxury travel but also passionate supporters of sustainability and cruelty free vegan travel, the places we’re longing to return to all offer that wonderful mix of high end luxury and amazing vegan food. So, when (vegan) luxury travel becomes a reality again, where would we go?
To escape the feelings of stress, worry and sometimes boredom, we’d be heading straight to the extraordinary ‘escape from reality’ that is JW Marriott Phu Quoc Emerald Bay Resort & Spa in the South of Vietnam. Step into the fantastical world of a luxury hotel built on an imaginary historic university and lose yourself in an entirely fabulous, but entirely made up, world of wonder and intrigue. Designed by the famously eccentric and talented Bill Bensley, this is an awe inspiring beachfront property where unique luxury and excellent vegan food become reality.
Their signature fine dining French restaurant, Pink Pearl, is not to be missed and makes for a decadent yet memorable evening. Sip champagne and fine wines, eat beautifully presented vegan food and marvel at the lavish surroundings (either in the main dining room or one of the exquisite private dining rooms). Dishes which crafted ingredients like spelt, mushrooms, parsley foam and black truffles into perfected presented edible masterpieces adorned our table and made for delicious eating.
To escape the present and step back in time, we’d book a stay at Shangri-La Hotel, Paris. The hotel is located in the former private residence of Napolean Bonaparte’s great-nephew and so, as you might expect, it’s as much of a journey back in time as it is a luxury hotel stay. The property has been beautifully restored with antique furniture, grand chandeliers and flawless marble staircases with hand-gilded wrought iron banisters. It should be no surprise to hear that Shangri-La Hotel, Paris holds the prestigious ‘Palace Status’ which means you can expect “exceptional qualities embodying French standards of excellence during your stay”. And to top it all off, the views of the Eiffel Tower are second to none.
It should also come as no surprise that the vegan food was an epicurean dream. It started with vegan macarons and chilled champagne in our room on arrival and culminated in an vegan afternoon tea that was epic in size, culinary skill and deliciousness. There was a tower of sweet and savory treats from freshy baked scones served with cherry jam and vegan Chantilly cream with lime zest to salted caramel chocolate cookies. And after we’d eaten everything served on our tower of vegan dreams we started on side plates of seasonal cakes. Strawberry and cream sponges, chocolate puffed rice truffles and cherry pies with cinnamon cream and fresh cherries poached in earl grey tea. Any time we need cheering up we think of this afternoon tea and dine out on those sweet memories.
No day dreaming adventure would be complete without a private island resort or two and what better place to seek the kind of isolation we all dream of than heading to Southern Cambodia for a stay at Six Senses Krabey Island. After a short private boat transfer from the mainland, check in to one of the 40 villas and escape from it all. This luxury island retreat gives huge doses of nature (the trees, birds and ocean vibes are abundant) as well as the chance to find that inner peace with a yoga class or a trip to the meditation cave. We stayed in one of the Ocean Pool Villa Suites during our last visit, surrounded by giant trees but also with views of the ocean to be enjoyed from inside through the floor to ceiling windows, or outside from the private infinity pool and deck area. Now you know why we’re still dreaming about this place.
Dine on fresh, organic produce all prepared with a healthy and sustainable twist. Being vegan here is beyond easy and always delicious whether you’re eating traditional Cambodian cuisine like ‘Num Banh Chok’ creamy noodle soup or creative fusion dishes like a freshly prepared, supercharged raw dish using the very best local flavours.
A firm favorite anytime we daydream about far flung places, would be a trip to Amilla Fushi Resort and Residences in the Maldives’ Baa Atoll. The Baa Atoll is a UNESCO biosphere reserve where you can stay in high end luxury as well as getting the chance to see manta rays, sharks, sea turtles and a whole abundance of marine life swimming amongst vibrant corals. Amilla Fushi is a modern, chic and beautiful resort that serves up everything you’d expect from a luxury Maldivian experience. Think turquoise ocean surrounding your over water villa where baby reef sharks, rays and shoals of tropical fish swim by. Think white sand beaches and swaying palms, sunsets and starlit nights like you’ve never seen before. Think luxury spa experiences by award winning therapists.
But also think some of the best vegan food you’ll find. Vegan waffles or a tofu omelet for breakfast? Or maybe pancakes? Or a traditional Southern Indian idly feast or platter of Middle eastern delights? And the eating around the world adventure continues for lunch with everything from calzones with vegan cheese, tacos, sushi and tofu veg stir fries with peanut sauce. Dinner time is equally impressive with a vegan fish and chips experience being an absolute must.
As the world starts to lift travel restrictions and we begin to allow ourselves to plan getting away from it all, our fantasy list is fast becoming our ‘must visit again soon’ list. Now just to decide which place to visit first, where would you choose?
Paul Eyers is Founder of Vegan Food Quest. Vegan Food Quest have become luxury vegan travel specialists as they continue to find, eat and write about the best vegan food in the world.
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