Capri: The epitome of la dolce vita

Capri: The epitome of la dolce vita
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The Capri Palace offers a magnificent getaway in one of the most exclusive and unspoiled parts of the island. (Supplied)
Capri: The epitome of la dolce vita
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The most visited attraction in Capri is the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto). (Wikimedia Commons)
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Updated 23 July 2020

Capri: The epitome of la dolce vita

Capri: The epitome of la dolce vita
  • All manner of VIPs and celebrities, from Sophia Loren to George Clooney, have holidayed in Capri, drawn by its tiny streets full of luxury shops and its natural beauty
  • The Piazzetta, the iconic square in the center overlooking the port, which is normally packed with enormous luxury boats, is where everyone wants to be seen

ROME: Capri was Roman emperors’ favorite destination for a spiritual holiday retreat. Since the 1950s, this dream island with turquoise waters only 10 km away from Naples, in southern Italy, has been the epitome of la dolce vita (a life of pleasure and luxury). From aristocrats and intellectuals to artists such as Pablo Picasso and actors such as Audrey Hepburn, all manner of VIPs and celebrities have holidayed in Capri, with its tiny streets full of luxury shops, and its natural beauty.

Capri was the favorite getaway of former US First Lady Jackie Kennedy and actors Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren, as it is now for Tom Cruise, Leo Di Caprio, Jennifer Lopez, Mariah Carey, Rod Stewart, Bono and George Clooney. The Piazzetta, the iconic tiny square in the center overlooking the port, which is normally packed with enormous luxury boats, is where everyone wants to be seen.


But if one wants to enjoy a luxury holiday with family or friends here and escape the paparazzi, one needs to go uphill to Anacapri. In this cozy city on the highest part of the island, you will find the Capri Palace Jumeirah.

The only Jumeirah hotel in Italy, the Capri Palace offers a magnificent getaway in one of the most exclusive and unspoiled parts of the island. The hotel, overlooking the Gulf of Naples with breath-taking views and sunsets, fully embodies la dolce vita in authentic Capri style, featuring a precious contemporary art collection and classic Mediterranean design.

The 68 guestrooms offer a unique blend of understated luxury and contemporary style. Walking between Giorgio De Chirico paintings and Arnaldo Pomodoro sculptures displayed all around the neoclassical white palazzo is like being in a contemporary art museum.

The suites and rooms feature exquisite materials, from midnight black marble to bright handcrafted ceramic tiles made by artisans from the Amalfi Coast. The Capritouch rooms evoke the spirit of the Mediterranean, with interiors in sparkling white and bright blue colors, grand columns and superfine fabrics and linens.

Some rooms have private swimming pools; the bottom of one of them is decorated with a replica of a famous Andy Warhol painting. The Paltrow, the hotel’s presidential suite, is the pinnacle of luxury. Taste and luxury are the signature of this hotel, which this year will be open to guests until the end of September.

The main swimming pool is an artwork too, with exquisite stylish figures melting with the blue of the water and of the sky. VIP guests enjoy being pampered by an attentive staff led by General Manager Ermanno Zanini.

Barman Antonio Chirico, who like most of the hotel staff is a local, told Arab News: “In the 32 years I’ve been working here, the guest I was proudest to serve a drink to was Dr. Albert Sabin, the American medical researcher who developed the oral polio vaccine. That man really did something for the world.”

When Chirico is off work, he cultivates his own vineyard and makes his wine in a little property he owns not far from the hotel, on the slopes of the Solaro Mountain, which one can easily ascend on a chairlift. The view of the gulfs of Naples and Salerno is spectacular and unique. The ride is fun, it takes only 13 minutes, and the chairlift terminal is literally in front of the Capri Palace entrance.

In Italy, food matters a lot. The signature in-house two-Michelin-star restaurant L’Olivo serves Mediterranean classics in style and taste. The design is alluring: L’Olivo was conceived as a cozy but elegant living room with sofas, armchairs and a selection of fine fabrics, from cashmere to linen.

At sunset, its terrace is colored by the fiery hues of the Mediterranean. L’Olivo Undiscovered has just been launched: An intimate space in a lovely ancient cellar transformed into a unique private club atmosphere.

Il Riccio Restaurant & Beach Club, one of the most beautiful terraces in Capri — immersed in the beauty of the island’s white rocks and overlooking the sea — is the only one-Michelin-star beach club in the world. It serves exquisite seafood and dessert just a few meters away from the Grotta Azzurra (Blue Grotto), one of the most iconic places on the island. Here you cannot miss the spaghetti alla chitarra with sea urchins.

For the 2020 season, an exclusive Dior pop-up store has opened. Overlooking the blue waters of the Mediterranean, this magnificent terrace on a cliff is one of the few locations chosen by Dior to present its exclusive Riviera capsule. The Toile de Jouy motifs and Dior bayadere stripes cover cushions, umbrellas and personalized beach huts at the lounge area.


Remote travel: On the road in Namibia

Remote travel: On the road in Namibia
Updated 15 January 2021

Remote travel: On the road in Namibia

Remote travel: On the road in Namibia
  • Sparsely populated and hugely diverse, this African nation is an ideal destination for our socially distanced times

WINDHOEK: In this age of COVID-induced social distancing, the more remote the location, the better.

And Namibia is about as remote as it gets. 

That isn’t just a by-product of the global tourism downturn — this central African nation has long been a destination to explore without the crowds. Namibia is home to just 2.5 million people, but expands over 824,292 square kilometers – more than six times the size of England. This goes some way to explaining the diversity of its landscapes, from the towering sand dunes and canyons of the south, to the lush greens of the north, through the arid desert in between. 

Travellers have two main choices of transport: by plane, or by road. The former involves the hiring of a small Cessna and a pilot, hopping between five-star lodges, while the latter tends to involve a more challenging — and lengthy — trip, not least because the roads are mostly gravel, often pock-marked and uneven. The scenery can change drastically in just a couple of hours and many hours can pass between passing another vehicle.

Swakopmund is a German-inspired town. (Shutterstock)

However, car hire is cheap and easy: A brand-new Toyota Hilux, complete with rooftop tent and a cab full of essentials — table, chairs, gas stove, utensils, fridge, kettle and storage — for about $100 per day. Campsites are plentiful and well-equipped — you’ll likely get a table and shelter, sometimes your own toilet and shower. 

From the capital, Windhoek, head north on one of Namibia’s few tar-sealed roads for Etosha National Park, home to a plethora of wildlife, easily spotted around its many waterholes from the comfort of your own vehicle, as it’s a self-drive park (typical for Namibia). Seeing rhino and giraffe, or even a pride of lions, near your campsite isn’t uncommon. 

Heading south, the landscape changes abruptly from to iron-rich, rock-strewn expanses  and flat-topped mountains. This is Damaraland, and it’s worth visiting for the drive alone. On your way through, stop in at Grootberg Lodge. Set in a private concession and perched on the edge of Etendeka Plateau, the view from your stone hut is surely the best in Namibia: a green valley floor framed by a jagged canyon. A sundowner drive will take you across the mountain plateau, where you can spot elephants, oryx and springbok. 

You should not leave Namibia without making time to visit one of the world’s most remote locations, the Skeleton Coast. (Shutterstock)

You should not leave Namibia without making time to visit one of the world’s most remote locations, the Skeleton Coast. It gets its name from the whale carcasses and many shipwrecks that line its shores. 

It is largely unpopulated, hundreds of kilometers from the nearest town, and carefully protected — you’ll need a permit to get in. About 200 kilometres north of the entrance to the park, the road stops at Mowe Bay and access is restricted to rangers and those heading for Shipwreck Lodge, one of Namibia’s — if not Africa’s — most incredible accommodation offerings. It is marketed as one of the most remote lodges on the planet, and it delivers. Consisting of just 10 rooms, all designed to resemble shipwrecks, this understated luxury lodge looks out on wind-whipped dunes and thrashing seas. You can spend your days tracking elusive desert elephants through dry river beds, going in search of shipwrecks, picnicking on the beach opposite violent waves, or quad biking on untouched dunes, before tucking into an oryx fillet in the restaurant. It is a genuine once-in-a-lifetime experience, with prices likely to skyrocket in future, so there is no better time to visit.

‘Big Daddy’ is the area’s largest dune, drink in the landscape. (Shutterstock)

While it can be tempting to try your luck as a castaway here for the rest of your days, the south of the country is also worth seeing. Particularly the German-inspired town of Swakopmund, and the iron-rich sand dunes of Sossusvlei — a sharp contrast to the gleaming white dunes of the Skeleton Coast. Along the way, stop in for the best apple pie in the country at Solitaire — a strange outlier in an otherwise desolate sandscape. Though its likely been clear the entire journey, here is where you’ll truly appreciate the solitude of Namibia. Sat atop ‘Big Daddy,’ the area’s largest dune, drink in the landscape. It will be completely different after a few hours in the truck tomorrow.