Where to find the best private escapes

Want to have a place entirely to yourself? Look no further

The grounds of the chalet at La Ferme de Bacré, one of Les Fermes de Marie’s chalets in Megève
The grounds of the chalet at La Ferme de Bacré, one of Les Fermes de Marie’s chalets in Megève

Travel and travel planning are being disrupted by the worldwide spread of coronavirus. For the latest updates, read the FT’s coverage of the outbreak

French mountain escapes

Mountains or sea? If the former, look to France – and Jocelyne Sibuet, whose storied Megève hotel Les Fermes de Marie reopened yesterday with 10 new private chalets, selected from among the loveliest in the valley, for exclusive use all summer and winter. Each sleeps a minimum of 10 people, with ensuite bedrooms, big kitchens and dining rooms and, in some cases, indoor pools. The hotel will dispatch chefs and massage therapists for guests’ use or deliver whatever is required/desired, whether that’s provisions, wines selected by the maître d’hôtel or the kitchen’s own signature veal blanquette. Interiors tend to Alpine mignon style, with low-slung furniture and soft textures. But the real draw is the great wide open – miles of meadows for exploring, peaks for scaling (or cycling) and brooks for splashing about in.fermesdemarie.com, from €7,900 per week, including hotel and concierge services.

Inside the chalet at La Ferme de Bacré
Inside the chalet at La Ferme de Bacré
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High style in the Cyclades

When was the last time the words “Santorini” and “private” appeared in any proximity to each other? If ever there were a moment to visit what many would argue is one of Greece’s loveliest islands – and, all would agree, its most oversubscribed – it’s now, because it will never again be as close to its pre-2000 glory (and glorious emptiness). Ileana von Hirsch – she of the super-discreet Five Star Greece villa collection – has just the place for families or groups of friends: Istoria, a 12-suite hotel above the black sands of Perivolos Beach, available this summer and next as a buy-out. The aesthetic is Aegean minimalist, marrying lots of volcanic stone, hand-smoothed plaster walls, raw woods and pared-back furniture; the palette ranges through all the whites, with french windows everywhere framing sea-and-sky views for days. The staff and chefs are on duty as usual, provisioning for farm-to-table meals, mixing drinks at the pool bar or arranging boats, horses or hiking guides as required. And all without a single cruise ship in sight. fivestargreece.com; email ileana@fivestargreece.com for enquiries and pricing. 

The pool at the Istoria, Santorini
The pool at the Istoria, Santorini
Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Expedition Camp in Kenya
Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Expedition Camp in Kenya

Your own private Africa

Great Plains Conservation has bona fides in the wilderness protection and stylish safari stakes. Co-founders Dereck and Beverly Joubert are prolific wildlife filmmakers and part of National Geographic’s elite group of explorers at large, and the Explorer and Expedition camps in their outfit are models of the genre. The simple but sumptuous tents are replete with low-fi design flourishes and are ultra-light of footprint, offering unbeatable game-viewing sites in Botswana, Zimbabwe and Kenya. Throughout 2021, Great Plains is offering them for exclusive use only at reduced rates: all the guides, trackers and staff at your sole disposal. The best excuse to plan the kind of travel we all need to be doing – longer, deeper, altogether more considered. greatplainsconservation.com; from $4,720 per night at a 12-person camp.

Elephants at Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Expedition Camp
Elephants at Great Plains Conservation’s Mara Expedition Camp
Scott Williams’ Lochside House in Scotland
Scott Williams’ Lochside House in Scotland

Best of British escapism

Scott Williams’ Victoria Hooberman started her mint collection of private houses on tiny Paxos, where she still has the ne plus ultra of portfolios. Today, Scott Williams spans Croatia, Italy – and now the United Kingdom. Last month Hooberman launched a collection of 12 houses and boutique hotels available to hire this summer; they range from lochside boltholes for two in the Highlands to Number One Bruton, a converted townhouse/forge/cottage complex that’s one of Somerset’s sweetest boutique hotels, to a sprawling family house at the edge of Exmoor that sleeps 11. Hooberman’s knack for bringing in top everything – from private chefs to yoga instructors – is what sets her apart; she and her team will speak to you personally, and the experience will reflect the attention she pays. scottwilliams.co.uk; from about £1,700 per week.

Bedroom at Scott Williams’ Lochside House
Bedroom at Scott Williams’ Lochside House
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