The temperature is climbing. In a few days the northern hemisphere will reach peak daylight. Summer is here – and myriad thoughts are turning, pandemic caution or no, to the seaside. The state of travel play means much of the world is still unreachable for most of us. However, for those so inclined, and possessing the means (and Gulfstreams), a clutch of justifiably famous private-island resorts – among them Mnemba in Tanzania and Indonesia’s extraordinary Bawah Reserve – should soon be available for exclusive buy-outs (with all the aquatic trimmings, naturally, from full PADI dive centres to fishing kit to on-site marine conservationists).
That said, closer to home somehow feels righter, right now. Southern Europe is the place many of us, from Sausalito to Sydney, have been dreaming about. Those lucky enough to be able to access the Schengen Area this summer will be gratified to know there is a clutch of great options, starting with small, beautiful sailing boats available for charter. In July and August, Satori (the brainchild of Claus and Jeanette Thottrup, owners of Tuscany’s Borgo Santo Pietro; borgosantopietro.com) will ply the waters of Croatia, Montenegro and Greece. Also off Greece’s Ionian coast is a buzzy newcomer: Alexa J (alexaprivatecruises.com), a singular one-cabin, fully crewed schooner with all white-and-blue interiors that perfectly complement the shores and scenes of Paxos, Kefalonia and Ithaca.
For others, terra firma – with sea proximity – will be the thing. This summer, The Thinking Traveller has a unique-in-Europe redoubt on Capraia, one of the northernmost islands in the Tuscan Archipelago, with a rocky, severe beauty, endless hiking trails and azure inlets, and a permanent population of just 400. Forte San Giorgio, its 11-bedroom, 10-bathroom crown jewel, is a listed 16th-century fortress that was 10 years in the restoring. Besides the two pools, dining hall accommodating more than 30, and multiple outdoor spaces, there are four discrete gardens showcasing flora, both edible and decorative, native to the archipelago (from €24,560 a week; thethinkingtraveller.com).
On Mallorca, you’ll find a modern eyrie of glass and stone, hidden away on Cap de Formentor, with private beach access, an art collection featuring works by Rauschenberg and Tàpies, and a vintage Sangermani sailboat. Villa Beltran is available this summer through Unique Properties & Events (from €71,500 a week; uniquepropertiesandevents.com).
If a British summer is the way forward, and ultra-contemporary surrounds the ones you want, in late July you can head for Dorset, and the Isle of Portland. Clifftops is situated at the edge of the Pennsylvania Castle Estate and marks an ambitious ramping up of the hospitality offering here. A series of self-contained lodges built of stone hewn from a nearby quarry, the exteriors are clad in copper, the gardens meticulously landscaped with native plants, and the interiors – sleek and spare – let the wide horizons be the stars (£1,250 for two nights for four people in August; thepennestate.co.uk).
And finally, for committed yachtsmen and women, there’s a name to watch. Launched in 2019 by the gaming and entertainment entrepreneur Jasper Smith, and specialising in building boats and masterminding expeditions, Arksen (arksen.com) puts achieving peak sustainability and marine-environment education alongside profit as its goals. Its Explorer boats – which currently number four, all expedition-calibre, ranging in size from 60ft to 100ft and accommodating up to 16 – are constructed entirely from fully recyclable materials. The engines, meanwhile, run on a diesel-electric power hybrid, with further solar capabilities providing ancillary power. Smith has created a model exchange between the privileged who are passionate about the oceans and the scientists, inventors, filmmakers and journalists whose work facilitates the world’s understanding of them. Thus, all eventual buyers are asked to pledge 10 percent of their boat’s water-bound time (around a month each year) to oceanographic research projects run by the company’s charity, the Arksen Foundation. Uniquely, every Arksen boat is built in the UK, with almost 100 percent of the materials sourced there – a best of British endeavour indeed.