It’s the season of new beginnings – which makes it a prime time to visit a place you’ve never been before, or to rediscover an old favourite. Around the world, you’ll find flowers in bloom, exciting events and other ways to breathe the fresh air. Here are five destinations, home to Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, that call for exploration this spring.
For many people, the new year begins on January 1, but in Bali, the year starts with an especially quiet holiday, Nyepi, which in 2018 falls on March 17. “We mark the New Year with a 24-hour period of silence,” says Ibu Heny Ferawati, the Resident Wellness Mentor at Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan. “It is a day to give Mother Earth a rest and allow us the time to cleanse our minds and souls.” The airport and seaport close, no vehicles can be used, and nobody may leave their house (or the Hotel grounds). Because the sky is especially clear then, Ferawati says, “we take this opportunity to do meditation under the stars with our guests on the Hotel’s rooftop lobby pond.”
Another important annual event is the BaliSpirit Festival (April 2–8). “Ubud’s name comes from the Balinese word for medicine (ubad), and this festival reflects our community’s focus on yoga, wellness and spiritual healing,” Ferawati says. More than 200 workshops, yoga classes, concerts and dance parties take place at the Bali Purnati Center for the Arts, just south of Ubud.
The Hotel embraces the Balinese way of life all year round, with a series of visiting yoga instructors and signature “Wellness Devotee” experiences like chakra ceremonies, Full Moon yoga and visits with a spiritual healer, or balian. “We are also planning to launch our own yoga festival later this year,” Ferawati says.
Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan
“Average temperatures in the 70s and tons of activities – including stunning botanical gardens, outdoor concerts, and al fresco dining – make Los Angeles an ideal place to be in the spring,” says Chef Concierge Jeanne Mills of Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel. Among her top picks: Taking a tour (by appointment only) of the Virginia Robinson Gardens, part of a 6.5-acre estate that also includes a 1911 mansion and a pool pavilion; catching a baseball game at Dodger Stadium; and visiting the Griffith Park Observatory. “This time of year is when we tend to have the clearest and most crisp blue skies, which is perfect for stargazing,” she says.
Culture lovers should check out the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, the largest event of its kind in the country: April 21–22, the USC campus plays host to a who’s who of authors, and concerts and film screenings also play a part. On April 15, “David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life” opens at LACMA, featuring portraits painted in his Los Angeles studio. The show, on view through July 29, is your only chance to catch the exhibit in the United States.
Beverly Wilshire, Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel)
One way to see the French Riviera without the crowds? Go at the start of the season. The weather is sunny and mild, and, according General Manager François-Régis Simon of Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel, “The Côte d’Azur certainly has some of the most beautiful gardens in the world, and spring is the perfect time to see them.”
These include the Villa et Jardins Ephrussi de Rothschild’s formal green spaces (including French, Japanese and Spanish gardens), the cactus-filled Jardin Exotique de Monaco (with plants from Mexico, Central America, South Africa and beyond) and the Jardin Exotique d’Èze, on the site of a medieval fortress. “The panorama from here offers one of the most spectacular views of the French Riviera,” Simon says, “spanning all the way to the Esterel Mountains and the Gulf of Saint Tropez.”
Simon also points to a little-known treasure, the Serre de la Madone in Menton. The garden, set back from the sea, was created and altered over time by British landscape designer Lawrence Johnston. “For 40 years, this was a laboratory where Johnston combined traditional structures inspired by gardens in France and Italy with plantings brimming with innovation,” Simon says. The Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat has four distinct gardens of its own where more than 600 species flourish, including bougainvillea, bay laurel and eugenia.
The coast brims with seasonal events. A highlight is the Festival Printemps des Arts de Monte-Carlo (March 16–April 29), a feast of concerts, events, and plays. The Rolex Monte-Carlo Master tennis tournament takes place April 14–22, and the Monaco Formula 1 Grand Prix comes to town May 24–27.
For guests in town at Easter, the Hotel offers egg hunts, kids’ workshops, and a sculptural egg created by Pastry Chef Gaëtan Fiard, who happens to be the World Champion of Sugar Arts.
Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat, A Four Seasons Hotel
In Japan’s bustling capital, spring is synonymous with sakura (cherry blossom) season, when the city is awash in tints of pale pink. It’s like a work of art that simply must be viewed, and one famous spot for that is along Chidorigafuchi, the moat and gardens surrounding the Imperial Palace. “There’s always a long queue to see one of the most beautiful sakura spots in Japan,” says Hotel Manager Takuya Kishi of Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo at Marunouchi.
Fortunately, there are ways to avoid the crowds. “From the land, my favorite spot to see the cherry blossoms is Tsukuda Park, located along the Sumida River,” Kishi says. “It is a rather quiet, local place, and you can relax and enjoy the beauty.” He also suggests taking to the water on a river cruise, which you can board at various locations such as Hinode Pier or Hamarikyu Gardens.
And just five minutes’ walk from the Hotel you’ll find Sakura Dōri, which translates to “Cherry Blossom Street.” “During the full-bloom period, the street is blocked off from traffic,” Kishi says, “and there are lots of vendors.” The Hotel itself celebrates the season by hosting a sakura-themed afternoon tea at the Motif Restaurant & Bar, beginning on April 1.
Four Seasons Hotel Tokyo
To hear Kristen Klus, Chef Concierge at Four Seasons Hotel Chicago, tell it, the Windy City is completely transformed when winter ends. “I love that Chicago embraces warm weather like no other city because we have such a limited amount of it,” she says. “You see this resurgence of vitality – people are biking, walking and kayaking on the lake.”
St. Patrick’s Day celebrations jump-start the festive spring vibe on March 17 with a parade and celebrations around the river, dyed a vibrant kelly green for the occasion. Another seasonal highlight is the annual One of a Kind show, April 27–29. Artisans fill the iconic Merchandise Mart showcasing and selling high-end art pieces, jewellery and handmade objects of every craft.
Since the weather can be a little unpredictable, it’s also a good idea to have a few indoor activities on your itinerary. Klus recommends visiting the Lincoln Park Conservatory, featuring ancient ferns and towering palms inside a beautiful Victorian glass house. “You can go any time of year,” she says, “but it’s particularly pretty in the spring because of the tulips and other flowers.”
Four Seasons Hotel Chicago
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