LVMH President, Jean Claude Biver portrait image

With a billion people about to become luxury consumers over the next decade, real luxury will become more personal, more individual and more secretive. So predicts our columnist, Jean-Claude Biver, continuing our series on business philosophy and strategy 

LVMH President, Jean Claude Biver

Jean-Claude Biver

Luxury will always will be here. Growth will always be here. When people do better, they want to differentiate themselves, so the growth of luxury will always track economic growth.

But in the future we will have two different levels of luxury: accessible luxury, items that have an incredible image but an affordable price, and inaccessible luxury. This is the extreme luxury of people wishing to have something made for themselves or being completely different, being unique, saying, “What I have, you will never have”.

Accessible luxury will be huge: the middle class in China will develop to 500 million people, in India maybe 300 million, in Latin America around 200 million, so you will have a billion new customers in the next 20 years. This middle class will definitely go for the accessible luxury, but maybe 10 million out of this billion will want real luxury. That will comprise exclusivity, incredible quality, and uniqueness. And these two types of luxury will develop together. Luxury will be like a building with two floors – only a few people will go up to the second floor, while most people will remain on the first floor.

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The upper tier of luxury will be defined through exclusivity and also through the fact that it will adapt to the facets of made-to-measure luxury. These people want individuality, something made just for themselves. They want something that other people’s money cannot buy, because that’s the ultimate. You get access to something that normally money cannot buy, but you can buy it because you have the relationship and the contacts. That will be the extreme level of luxury, only for you, and to enable you to stand out from the masses and their accessible luxury. The way this extreme luxury is communicated will also change. It will be word of mouth, very discreet and only for the few who know. Like a secret: “Ah, you know this brand, wow, you belong, because you wear this shirt or this special tie or these special socks made in Rome.” The ultimate individualization of your person.

Model Cara Delevinge with Jean Claude Biver in Monaco

Jean-Claude Biver with Cara Delevingne at the TAG Heuer Yacht party during the 2015 Monaco Grand Prix

People will still collect, will always collect, but the problem with today’s goods becoming collectible is linked to the concept of eternity. If I collect a Ferrari that is from the 1980s or 1970s, that is a car that will enter eternity because whatever the new industrial revolution brings us, this car will comfortably be repairable. But modern cars, because they are not mechanical any longer, will not be repairable in 100 years because the microchips that control everything from the gearbox to the windows will be useless. That is why a Ferrari Testarossa (from the 1980s ) or a 275 GTB (from the 1960s) will still be collectible. Why should people collect what is due to die when they can collect what is due to become eternal? That’s why you can have an old Lockheed Constellation plane (from the 1950s) and it still works – you can fly with it! An Airbus A380 will not still be capable of flying in 50 or 100 years.

The opening of Hublot's second manufacture

(From left) Lapo Elkann, Jean-Claude Biver, Bar Refaeli, Esteban Gutiérrex, Pelé and Ricardo Gudalupe celebrate the opening of Hublot’s second manufacture in Switzerland

Luxury should be marked by eternity. Great art is eternal and there is nothing else made by humans that doesn’t die, just art. So that means luxury is eternity and luxury is art; and if you can create the eternal, you have the business of the future in luxury.

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But accessible luxury is very different, a more competitive field where you have more marketing and illusions. But everywhere there is going to be a reaction to mass luxury. People will want more and more to be considered individuals. We all need to be treated like kings, to be treated differently, because we are surrounded by mass. Look at travel – that’s why people have a special area to check in when they fly first class, a special line for security, a special seat, special food and so on. People need to be treated differently because now everything is going mass.

In the area of accessible luxury, the same brands are adapting, they are comfortably innovating and comfortably renewing their offering and positioning so they stay current. They will adapt and survive. In accessible luxury, it will be more difficult for newcomers to enter the market. But in the area of higher quality luxury, we may have new artists and creators coming. Because it will be very personal.

Jean-Claude Biver is president of LVMH Watch Brands and chairman of Hublot.


Reading time: 4 min
Auoportait: an oil on canvas by Erik Bulatov
The investment potential of the best art will just keep on increasing, says Simon de Pury, one of the world’s most renowned auctioneers, as art becomes ever more aligned with high luxury.
Portrait of world renowned art auctioneer, Simon de Pury

Simon de Pury

Art is the ultimate luxury. You don’t need it to live, which is a definition of a luxury. And in the past few years other similarities between the art market and the luxury market have emerged.

Ten years ago you would go to different – not luxurious – parts of town to see art. In New York you would go downtown; in London you would go east for certain exhibitions and galleries, for example. Now, though, in the art business you need to be very central for the same reasons as you do in the luxury market: it’s all about location, location, location. Thus the concentration of top galleries that are installing themselves in Mayfair in London, while in New York there is a return to the Upper East Side. There’s a lot of artistic activity focusing on these areas because when the international traveller comes to town, he stays in the heart of the city, goes to the top hotel and wants to have everything in an immediate circle, and wants to not have to waste too much time pursuing these passions. So all of that has had an impact, changing the market quite fundamentally. Galleries are now seeking real estate in the same locations as the top luxury brands.

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Art is also the ultimate luxury because you get emotionally involved, and if you go about it smartly it can be a very rewarding passion. Rewarding in every sense.

Image from Erik Bulatov at de Pury de Pury

Erik Bulatov, Rouge a Levres, 1994, pencil on paper

In concurrence with these developments, the art market is changing also. The market has become global, so for the first time you now have people from all parts of the world buying art from all parts of the world. Compare this to the Cold War, when some artists in the east had no idea what was happening in the west: you had artists working in total isolation. Today there is much easier access to knowledge and information about what is happening in different places through the digital revolution. And this has fuelled further internationalisation. You have biennials in Havana, Sydney, Shanghai, Venice and Istanbul. There is a now a great exchange of information and knowledge, and with knowledge comes a greater interest in acquiring.

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The information that used to be accessible to a small group of insiders is now much more easily and much more widely accessible. As a result, if you look at a list of the most affluent people in each country, 20 years ago there would have been a relatively small percentage of those who were collectors, whereas now if you look at the same lists, there’s a much bigger percentage collecting. And it’s also that which gives art the ultimate status. You can be a very successful businessman, yet it will never give you the same kind of kudos as you get when you are building a great collection. It’s your cultural achievements that leave your biggest mark and your imprint, and that is one reason why individual collectors in different parts of the world have become the main cultural movers and shakers – much more so than the main institutions.

Erik Bulatov autumn exhibition at de Pury de Pury

Erik Bulatov, Perestroika, 1989

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Nonetheless, there are factors any collector should be aware of. Your collection is your self-portrait. Collecting is an artistic, creative pursuit in itself. By collecting you show who you are and give yourself an identity. For that reason your collection cannot be put together by a committee: it has to be one person who takes the decision of what to buy and (just as important!) what not to buy. Equally, having a professional adviser who is very familiar with the market can help you avoid making mistakes and can help you to navigate the market, so it makes sense for people who have built substantial collections to have either in-house or external specialists that they consult. But even so, it is important that the person who is building the collection follows their own instincts. I often see people who start collecting becoming as knowledgeable as anyone else in the market.

There are questions of a market readjustment. Whenever the market becomes stronger and stronger there are always moments of readjustment. No market just goes vertically up without any fluctuations. And, of course, tastes evolve as well, so what is regarded today as the most desirable things may not be regarded as so in 50 years. Having said that, if you buy only the best quality you can only do well, because you can analyse it statistically from the 1850s onwards and see sufficient documentary evidence that the prices of major art transactions just keep going up. Still, there are some masters of the past – not just artists of our times – that we value much more highly today than 50 years ago. But be aware: there will always be artists who are like a fashion phenomenon – once the initial excitement dies down, so do the prices.

Simon de Pury is an art auctioneer and collector and the founder of de Pury de Pury.


Reading time: 4 min
Fair-mined gold jewellery by Chopard

As artistic director and co-president of Chopard, Caroline Scheufele sees it as her duty not only to keep the famed jewellery house’s A-list clientele happy, but also to have a vision of the consumer of the future. She tells LUX why provenance will be everything

Chopard's leading lady

Caroline Scheufele

The ultimate luxury is when you really know how your product was produced. I met Livia Firth (Colin Firth’s wife) in Los Angeles, where she was representing Eco-Age, and she asked me, ‘Where do you get your gold from?’ I said, ‘from the bank’, but the minute I answered, I knew what she was really getting at and I admitted that we don’t really know where the banks get the gold from. It is obviously from mines, but the set-up is not at all transparent or regulated, and it made me think.

We started working with the Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM), who certified the first mine in Colombia as fair-mined – not fair trade, there’s a big difference. From A to Z the process is transparent; there are no kids working; the workers have a fixed salary; they have insurance. The mine is secure, and although they are still using mercury, they are doing so in very small volumes, always following the guidance set out in the fair-mined standard, which ensures that they’re not putting it in rivers or the earth when separating the gold from the stones, which is the most important issue. As a result, the village where the mine is located is clean for people to live in. It’s a really beautiful project. Recently, a second mine has been certified in Bolivia and there will be another one in Colombia, so things are moving forward. For three years now Chopard has been engaged in what we call ‘the journey’ to reaching our ultimate aim of using only fair-mined gold, but it’s not something you can accomplish in one day.

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Fair-mined gold jewellery by Chopard

Palme Verte pendant and earrings

Clients like the story behind the gold. The first piece that we were able to produce was a cuff worn by Marion Cotillard on the red carpet in Cannes, and immediately it was a tremendous success with the media and clients. We sold it the next day. Of course, it is also a beautiful design – that has to come with it. We then made additional pieces, one of which was worn by Cate Blanchett when she won the Golden Globe for Blue Jasmine in 2014, and my brother has recently unveiled the first fair-mined gold mechanical watches. The whole company is behind the project and has to be because we cannot mix fair-mined gold with the other gold – I like to say it goes through the company like a VIP customer.

The younger generation, in particular, seems to be more sensitive to where their products come from. It’s the same as food – when you buy a piece of beef you want to know that it’s really a piece of beef and nothing else. You want to know the whole story. This is a huge problem in fashion, of course, because workers are dying just so that a T-shirt costs five cents less. Fortunately, being more alert and aware of the planet, nature and saving energy seems to be on trend now – or, as we say in French, du temps.

Jewellery in general has become more democratic in the way you wear it and the way you mix colours and stones. Even men are wearing more jewellery now. The influence of social media definitely has a part to play in this – fashion bloggers and faster ways to communicate make it more of a movement. We’ve brought a lot of colour, for example, into the boutique collections like Happy Hearts, and there are lots of different shades and semi-precious stones set together. I think a lot of women like to have something colourful and light. It is so much more liberated than it used to be.

That said, at the highest price level I think people are still looking for something purer. The diamond will always be at the core. The high-end jewellery market is less affected by social media trends in that way. It is more intimate, people want to go into the store and see the quality. Whereas at the lower level, lots of pieces are now getting sold through online boutiques. For real luxury, people still like to get a physical feeling of the brand and be consulted, but when you’re living in a city where you don’t have a boutique and you want to buy a present, for example, that’s when online shopping becomes really useful and practical. Take China: the cities are so huge and there’s so much traffic that online boutiques save a lot of time. Also, people often go to the internet to get information first, visiting different websites of different luxury brands before they choose where they really want to go in person. We’ve got an online boutique in the US now and have just started one in the UK.

We are moving forward as fast as we can. My aim is ultimately to produce all the high jewellery pieces with fair-mined gold, and my brother wants to do the same with all the Luke Chopard watches. The ultimate goal would be for everything to be fair-mined gold.

Reading time: 4 min

Two typical English country house hotels at the very top of their game can lead to two superb, yet quite different, experiences, as LUX discovers


main house exterior

The arrival

To arrive at Lucknam Park is to enter into a dream of a 19th-century English romantic novel. We arrived just before dusk on a breezy evening when dark clouds were shooting across the remaining patches of blue sky. As we pulled up the drive, the setting sun turned the parkland on either side of the mile-long avenue of trees a golden green. The drive is so long you can’t even see the hotel, your final destination. After parkland and woodland, a big paddock appeared on the right, horses strolling around on the damp green turf. Finally the hotel appeared in view, looking as welcoming as it would have to arrivals in a carriage a century or more ago.

Living quarters and view

A very generous suite, comprised of two spacious rooms (extremely large by the standards of English country house hotels; it would satisfy even those used to American hotel dimensions). Both living room and bedroom looked out to parkland stretching to a short horizon: a hilltop, it turned out. No cars or buildings in sight. The bathroom was, thank goodness, of the new generation of UK country house bathrooms, with a full, separate shower, extensive marble and proper lighting, and enough room for pre-dinner pampering.


Lucknam Park has a Michelin star and a celebrated wine list. Bare table, staccato-menu dining has not invaded this traditional country hotel: full service, tablecloths and serious napkins await. The style of cuisine may best be described as traditional Anglo-French. Vagaries of season mean that you, the reader, will not have what we, LUX, had, but examples include roast line-caught sea bass with maple-glazed chicken wing, celeriac risotto, wild mushrooms and confit baby onions. It’s ambitious and it works beautifully.

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And the rest

The pool, in a separate and sympathetically built spa building, is a proper length for laps and the spa itself is a serious operation, with an array of treatments we found both soothing and effective. There’s also another, more casual, restaurant here and its quiet, sunny terrace is an excellent place for a grilled chicken salad lunch. The grounds are vast and it’s a horse rider’s paradise. The hotel accepts but does not encourage children, meaning you won’t be overwhelmed by offspring.


Lucknam Park is an extensive and effective luxury country spa resort beautifully melded with a traditional country house hotel in one of the prettiest parts of western England. We hail its thoroughness, beauty and professionalism.



The arrival

To arrive at Lords of the Manor was, in our case, to get hopelessly and rather delightfully lost. We knew the hotel was in the village of Upper Slaughter, which was a couple of miles from the village of Lower Slaughter; these are tiny, postcard villages. After driving back and forth from one to the other, we realized we had driven past Lords of the Manor each time. Despite its grand name, it is not a place that shouts about itself. But the building itself, and its setting, is breathtaking for its seclusion and its history. We parked the car and immediately strolled around the pond and the informal gardens in a sunny dell in front of the hotel, taking in the peace, the soul. This is a place to dream of when in inhospitable places around the world: a little jewel of perfect Cotswolds England, not manicured or overdone, just timeless.

Living quarters and view

The room had a four-poster bed, a bay window letting in plenty of light, and a view across fields and the pond to ancient hedgerows and a little river. A variety of songbirds were at large in the trees, which bent back and forth in a mild breeze. It was a view you could stare at for hours.

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In the restaurant at Lords of the Manor you feel tucked away, cosy, safe, as if outside there are highwaymen and danger. The restaurant has a Michelin star, but is low on fuss and ceremony, and high on quality and warmth of service. The menu is relatively simple and well communicated. For example, braised lardo glazed turbot, celeriac, greens, ox-tail, roast turbot consommé was exactly as it sounds. The wine list should be lauded for the efforts successive sommeliers have made to go beyond the standard French, Italian and Spanish classics (which are nonetheless very much in evidence) and further around the world.

And the rest

In the morning, after a breakfast of locally sourced, gently spiced sausages, limpid back bacon and local mushrooms, we walked out across the grass in front of the hotel, past the pond, in between a couple of hedgerows and into a field in a gentle 5 valley. The path wove alongside a little slow – moving stream so clear you could see fish zipping through the water; they were still, then would suddenly race forward, then be still again. There was no indication of where the hotel’s grounds ended. After 20 minutes the stream reached a couple of Cotswold stone houses marking the edge of the next village, Lower Slaughter.


Lords of the Manor is discovery luxury of the very best kind. Unstyled, the opposite of slick, without an array of the usual add-on facilities, it is very much its own place and, because of that, it nears perfection.

Reading time: 4 min

Abama Citadel .jpg

On the south side of an island off the coast of Africa, yet pleasingly accessible, the Ritz-Carlton Abama is one of the most dramatic resorts in the world, as DARIUS SANAI discovers

A perfect storm in the luxury travel world has meant the world is unrecognisably smaller than just 30 years ago. We have seen a combination of escalating numbers of high net worth individuals, a global burgeoning of high-quality airlines and operators (and private jet-friendly airports), rapidly developing destination countries and destination management organisations, spectacular new hotels and the internet to make it all transparent. And it means that what was unspeakably exotic a generation ago – Thai beaches, or hotels on stilts in the Indian Ocean – is mainstream now, and what was unimaginable – bareback riding to the Angel Falls, hikes to meet isolated villagers in Papua New Guinea – is quite feasible.

There is one destination I visited recently that could belong to both the ‘hot discovery’ category and the mainstream category simultaneously. I could write that I spent a week on an island mountainside, on a cliff above the ocean, facing a volcano across the sea on a quasi-uninhabited island off the west coast of Africa. That Charles Darwin took inspiration from, and wrote about, the natural wonders of the volcanic island I stayed on; that its climate is preternaturally sublime, never too hot, cold, or wet; and that stargazers congregate here for its clear, pollution-free skies.

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I could also write that I spent a week in a luxury resort with seven swimming pools, three highly acclaimed restaurants (with a total of three Michelin stars), a golf course and a private beach – in the Canaries, one of the prime mass-market destinations for the people of industrialised northern Europe. Both stories are true and are, in fact, the same story.

As a child, I missed out on the Canary Islands boom, my parents preferring to take me to mainland Europe for our holidays. They became synonymous with a certain type of package holiday, so it is with some skepticism that one arrives in Tenerife. Then, in the rental car from the airport, you notice that the whole island is in fact one vast volcano rising from the sea bed. The height of the peak, far above, is 3,718m – high enough – but the whole mountain, from ocean floor to top, must be vast: it would dwarf Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain. That means you are always at some point on its flanks, whether driving along the motorway or sitting on a beach.

The Ritz-Carlton Abama is a cacophony of pink stone on the edge of this mountainside. It sits alone, and from the moment you enter the gates of the resort, the broad view in every direction lacks any of the overdevelopment of other parts of the island.

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The balcony of our suite faced out over some gardens planted with subtropical flora; the gardens stopped at a cliff edge, underneath which was the hotel’s private white-sand beach (most beaches on the island have volcanic black sand). At night, sitting back on a lounger, sipping local Malvasia wine and dipping papas (tiny black potatoes, intensely flavoured, grown in volcanic soil), the sky was a ceiling, not a void. A hemisphere of stars rotated slowly, noticeably: constellations would move across the ceiling at set times every evening. Occasionally a marine bird, flying through the banana plantations that flanked the resort, would break the silence.

To get to the beach at Abama, you walk down through the gardens to the edge of the cliff, where you have two choices: a funicular lift with glass walls descending the mountainside, or a zigzag path through cacti and tropical flowers. Once at the bottom you are presented with a perfect semi-circle of beach, within the embrace of a sheltered bay. Directly in front of you is the volcanic island of Gomera, a national park, protected and wild. It is a big, green, upside-down cone rising out of the ocean.

There is no fighting for sun loungers here(we were there at peak season); you take your pick along the extensive sandy crescent and then swim in the sea (quite chilly, very clear, plenty of small fish for company) or go jogging along the beach, a few hundred metres from cliff wall to cliff wall.

El Mirador swimming pool - Twilight.jpg

Abama is dotted with very classy cafes and restaurants, the beach area being no exception. They all have the distinction of feeling like stand- alone, individual places with their own identity, destinations in themselves rather than outlets in a resort. The bartender at the beach cafe said he would never work elsewhere in the resort. “Here we can just see the sea, the sun, the island,” he smiled, laying down a mojito and a bowl of green olives. We sheltered from the sun under the palm trees planted along its terrace (it’s only a terrace – no indoor tables at all), sipped our drinks, watched people strolling on the beach immediately below, and then went for a stroll of our own.

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Adjacent to the beach to our left, we had seen children and adults diving off a rocky outcrop. Wandering over, we noticed that the other side of the outcrop featured several rockpools, perfect for wading through, and then turned into an extraordinary ancient lava field: smooth, black rock, almost soft to the touch, slipping into the ocean and home to hundreds of blue crabs of various sizes. Typically they were the size of an adult hand, but some monsters were twice that size; they would cling to the rock as a wave washed over them, oblivious, and then scuttle along at alarming speeds.

Dining that evening, we visited a restaurant called El Mirador, situated by the little funicular at the top of the cliff, surrounded by gardens and a long pool, and with even more dramatic views over to the island of Gomera. El Mirador’s speciality is local seafood and paella, something frequent visitors to Spain may be wary of, as it is the mantra of many a mediocre establishment. Our interest was piqued, though, by the fact that the restaurant runs its own paella- making school, replete with lessons on types of rice, and that the chef has been acclaimed in the media all over the country.

On the terrace of El Mirador, under the ceiling of stars, unidentifiable fledgling birds chirping in a nest to our side, we were given a lesson in paella; not how to make it, but how it can taste. During a fairly lengthy wait (which we were warned about: “a great paella cannot be rushed”), we enjoyed some starters of langoustines and some Azuarga red from the Ribera del Duero – red wine with a seafood dish may seem a curious choice, but a fruity, fresh, powerful red matches well with highly flavoured fish and rice.

The paella came in a big black pan, its rice brown, long-grained and al dente. Atop were mussels, lobster, a local white fish called, strangely, bluefish, and clams. There was a slash of umami about everything, hints of parsley, white wine and a kind of bouillon of fishy herbaceousness, and no sign of the oiliness that blights so many examples of this dish.

Food is more than an incidental part of the Abama experience; it is one of its showcases. Apparently the owners (one of Spain’s leading media owners) wanted, when they built the hotel, to show that their favourite island could host restaurants on a level with anywhere else in the world. The next evening we went to Kabuki, the Abama outpost of the celebrated Michelin-starred, Madrid-based Japanese restaurant. The restaurant is within the main part of the hotel, its view out to the gardens behind. Decor is cleverly done so you step into Japan – Kyoto, perhaps? – as you walk in along the long sushi bar.

The cuisine integrates local fish and other touches of the area in its menu: nigiri of locally caught bluefish and local tuna caramelized with a blowtorch were memorable and delightful; wagyu beef sashimi wonderful. This was Japanese fusion cuisine at its most powerful: giving you a sense of place in terms of where you were eating, while still evidently very strongly rooted in Japanese tradition. We chose a blanc de blancs small grower champagne from the excellent wine list – evidently the pride in sourcing extends to more than just the food. It was only halfway through the meal that we learned from our waiter that the Kabuki at Abama has also been awarded a Michelin star. Such an accolade, for a restaurant on the far side of an island a long way from the mainland of Europe, and a Japanese restaurant to boot, is quite an achievement and more than deserved. The ambience was relaxing but correctly Japanese and ordered; you felt you were somewhere else entirely, so much so that walking out towards the suite through the hotel lobby was quite a surprise.

The architecture of Abama means you get lost, deliberately. The sweeping, organically shaped reception area looks out over a labyrinth of carp ponds, out to the island of Gomera, and to an amorphous cluster of shapes that turn out to house rooms or front pools. There are no straight lines at this Ritz-Carlton. The main pool, beyond the carp ponds, must be 50 metres long and twists and turns under bridges and rock formations, surrounded by children enjoying ice cream and looking for butterflies, and parents on sun loungers facing the ocean and the omnipresent island.


There’s another pool beyond a cool wooden hut housing yet another restaurant and another one on the roof of the main building, with a dramatic view of Mount Teide, Tenerife’s volcano – this is a part of the resort it could take you weeks to discover. Within the gardens are a couple of rows of nicely integrated villas, each with its own snake-shaped pool. There’s another beautiful, precipitous, panoramic pool by El Mirador, this one for adults only.

Above one of these pools is the hotel’s spa, which as you would expect of a Ritz-Carlton spa, allows you to luxuriate amid an entire ecosystem of treatments synthroid tablets. One morning we ventured up the steep mountainside above the hotel – still part of the property – to discover a dozen clay tennis courts and a tennis centre staffed with several pros; you could spend a week here doing nothing but taking instruction from different pros. And around and above that, a championship golf course. With its slopes, views, challenges and properly panoramic clubhouse – at the very top of the property, several hundred metres above the beach – it is, apparently, one of the best reputed in Europe.

Seven days at the Ritz-Carlton Abama and we had not even discovered half of it, it seems. From the exotic to the haute cuisine to the stellar, it’s a place that seems to have it all. And it’s just a short hop from western Europe.

Reading time: 9 min