Hola Spain!

Posted on April 26, 2022, featured in Experiences

I’ve been on a super exciting trip experiencing the best Europe has to offer – and what an experience it’s been! Spain has definitely been a highlight…

What a vibrant, flavorful, fun and beautiful country, filled with interesting and friendly people. From the superb beaches to the deep, rich history and culture, the entertainment and great food – I say Hola to Spain and I am sad to leave!

First stop, Málaga and Marbella magic

I first traveled to Marbella for the incredible Essence of Luxury 2022 Conference, a spectacular event with some of the biggest names in travel – what a way to explore the world from one place! Everyone who’s anyone in travel was there, wow! As Sikeleli I was quite overwhelmed and honored.

We were treated to delicious local dinners and entertainment, from a safari-themed dinner at the famous NOBU to a gala event at the amazing Anantara Villa Padierna Palace Resort. We were even invited to Serandipian’s ‘Travel Oscars’. What an honor to be asked.. ( fortunately, there was no slapping..!)

There was lots of dancing, fun, catching up with old friends, and making new ones. After two years of no in-person events, it was great to be back. Don’t worry, we were also doing important work. I had 77 meetings lined up over the three days to learn about the top properties from around the world. I’m always looking for the best places so that myself and my team can curate your travel here – we’ve had so many guests over the years asking us to book the world.. well, we are doing this for you!

So, in essence, It was amazing to see so many people attending, to partner with new countries and experiences and to see that travel is open again, that makes me so happy. 

Extraordinary hilltop castles in Málaga 

Next, for those who enjoy some culture, Málaga has two enormous palatial forts perched high on hilltops that loom over the city, the Alcazaba and the Gibralfaro. Both were built by the Arab people (then called Moors) when they ruled the town. The Alcazaba dates back to the 11th century, in fact its name stems from ‘al-qasbah meaning ‘citadel’ in Arabic. Right alongside it, are the remains of an even more ancient Roman theatre thought to date back to the 1st century. The Moors actually used stone from that theatre to build the Alcazaba. The Gibralfaro is on the other hill, a sprawling castle fortress built in the 13th century to help defend the town against Christian invaders. If the weather’s good, it’s a fantastic experience to walk up to this castle. 

The Renaissance Catedral de la Encarnación de Málaga in town is also a magnificent attraction. The locals call it Le Manquita (meaning ‘somewhat imperfect’) because… it isn’t finished yet! 

Hey Barcelona! 

Barcelona is a stunning city. Think Gaudi, wide tree-lined boulevards, and beautiful Baroque buildings wherever you look, right on the ocean.

I had the most fantastic stay at Sir Victor, part of the @Sirhotels and @Sirclecollection. What a place, what a meal, what a crew! The rooftop overlooking the city is sublime. You can’t beat this hotel. I love that the hotel is named after the writer and poet Caterina Alberti I Paradis (1869 – 1966), better known as her pen name Victor Catalá. Women weren’t allowed to be writers then, yet she was one of the first notable Catalan authors under her ‘male’ name. A true symbol of gender equality.

I highly recommend the Mr. Porter Steakhouse for delicious tapas paired with excellent wine. Their tagline is ‘A companion by day and a hunter by night’ – isn’t that cool?! I can’t wait for you to experience the hospitality and luxury of this place.

We’re going to Ibiza – with class 

A party island only? No! @Sikelelitravel is now curating classic, privately-guided trips to this historically rich and incredibly diverse island. You can find remnants of the Phoenicians, the Romans and the Arabs, all intrepid travelers and explorers who went before us to create the magic of this place, layer after layer. You’ll need days here – no weeks – to truly experience all the history and culture this spectacular island offers.

The island’s scenery is breathtaking, with clear blue waters, beautiful bays and rural areas juxtaposed with elegant cities and luxurious marinas lined with superyachts. And the food is divine! Fresh delicious seafood, classic Spanish paella, calamari and dreamy desserts. Explore Ibiza’s old city for fantastic little spots to eat, drink and shop.

I stayed at the newest @SirHotel, Sir Joan, an intimate, vibrant retreat in the center of Ibiza. Next, we found a chilled place for delightful cocktails and dinner on the Marina Ibiza, @Roto. An escape from the crazy party scene but still with an exciting atmosphere. After dinner, we headed over to the @Sircleclub for a fun night done in style.

I was totally blown away by this island, don’t let its party reputation stop you from experiencing this jewel… and if parties are what you’re into, we work with a concierge service that can get you tickets to ANY of the clubs, nightlife, experiences, etc. … and the hotel is only 20m away from the entrance to the famous PACHA (double cherries!).

Andalucia: Cadiz

Cadiz is an incredible little city and ancient port in Southwest Spain. It’s typical of a town in the Andalusian region and it’s very well preserved. It’s full of historical landmarks, interesting stories and some of the most beautiful streets I’ve seen in Spain. I had the added pleasure of visiting here with my dear friends I know from Singapore, Nick and Carlos. Carlos is from Cadiz, so we had some fantastic local knowledge for me to share with you.

I loved the fantastic cathedral in Cadiz old town. It’s stunning inside. We saw the solid silver parade vessel and went down below the cathedral to see the crypt. When we were there, they were setting up for the Easter Parade, an enormous event in Spain. The square around the cathedral is a typical Spanish scene of restaurants, fountains, and people milling around enjoying themselves.

Interesting island near Cadiz

We explored Sancti Petri, an island near Cadiz. An abandoned fishing town turned into a modern resort with magnificent beaches. I just wanted to run along the white sandy beach. I loved the blue and white murals.

My new favourite!

Vejer de la Frontera, just outside Cadiz is my new favorite place (for this week anyway!). It’s a hilltop town on the banks of the Barbate River; it’s stunning. I loved the sights, the palm trees, the stylish shops, and the beautiful town square. All these places are clean and well kept; you just have to love Spain.

Ready to make Spain your next destination?

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