It’s all about the Indonesian spices of life – ALEXA Private Cruises launches its’ Spice Island sailing route around the Banda Islands, Indonesia

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ALEXA Private Cruises has launched a new sailing package, inspired by the ‘Old Spice Merchants Routes’ and re-discovering ALEXA’s heritage as a former traditional Phinisi (pi-ni-si) Spice boat.

Begin their romantic adventure in Maumere, East Flores, the ALEXA sets sail on the 10 nights, 11 days route across the Indonesian Archipelago, one of the most magnificent and awe-inspiring coral reefs in the world. Sailing to the stunning Banda islands, the voyage takes in: Kumba, Lembata, Alor, Wetar, Moapora, and Manuk islands before sailing onto Banda and Ambon.

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The adventure starts with an easy sail across the northern tip of Flores to the luscious forests near Maumere, before heading on to Kumba Island where guests can enjoy a spectacular light display from the notoriously active volcano that spurts lava every 30 minutes or so.

Lembata Island sees guests journeying to a traditional hunting village to uncover a community whose livelihoods depend entirely on the sea. Fishermen practice whaling in the area, busy at work in their sailboats. Everyday encounters with some of the most exotic wildlife from sharks to shy turtles and large Manta Rays to birdlife being the norm.

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The next stop is Alor Island for a Sun-Rise Scuba dive or snorkel in the crystal-clear turquoise waters, or an afternoon walk along pristine beaches to enjoy a scrumptious picnic prepared by the crew, set up with antique chandeliers and designer chosen rugs from Uzbekistan.

Anchor at the Banda Islands for the last few days, the route takes in the old town of Banda Neira, to learn about this fascinating part of Indonesia. Centuries ago the Dutch used the island as a way to control plantation production and there are many historic houses and fortresses to see, including the last working nutmeg plantation in the archipelago. Looming over the island is the active Gunung Api volcano, with a stunning hike through the beautiful endless green forest to see smoke seeping out of the top of the volcano.

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ALEXA’S crew provides a seamless service and every imaginable luxurious possibility from holistic offerings, Spa treatments and culinary delights created by the on-board private Chef; it’s the ultimate romantic adventure in the luxury private yachting world for guests to experience and create great memories of this Spice Island route with ALEXA Private Cruises.

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The Spice Merchants Package: 10 nights, 11 days inclusive of all facilities – Scuba Diving, Snorkel equipment, massage therapist, Meals provided by our Gourmet Chef and A crew of 7 from £42,500 – £47,200.

Michael Caines opens a new luxury hotel, Lympstone Manor, in time for the May bank holiday!

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Michael Caines, one of Britain’s most celebrated and best known chefs, has opened the luxury country retreat Lympstone Manor, Devon in time for the May bank holiday. Located on the southern edge of Lympstone village, between Exeter and Exmouth, the Grade II listed Georgian mansion is set in 28 acres with unrivalled views overlooking the beautiful Exe estuary.

Following a two year restoration and renovation by Michael and his team of talented architectural and interior design specialists, the former private home has been transformed into a 21 bedroom hotel featuring contemporary interiors and a 60-seat fine dining restaurant.

Speaking of the opening, the two-Michelin star chef, who is from nearby Exeter, said “Lympstone Manor is the realisation of a dream. Everything that I have achieved in my long career has brought me to this point where I can fully express my vision of contemporary country house hospitality for the 21st century. I can’t wait to welcome old and new friends to my new home!”

Exceptional cuisine and wine

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With Michael at the helm of Lympstone Manor, it is no surprise that exceptional cuisine and wine will lie at the heart of the experience. After achieving two-Michelin stars and then holding them for 18 consecutive years, Michael has built his reputation on a visionary style of cuisine that celebrates the seasonal bounty of Devon and the southwest. Having taken a year out to develop Lympstone Manor, Michael has had time to work on some new dishes and concepts as well as looking forward to recreating his signature dishes with local and seasonal ingredients. Three beautiful dining rooms overlooking the Exe Estuary, each with their own decor and identity — Haldon, Mamhead, and Powderham — are stunning venues to experience Michael’s exciting cuisine.

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With plans to plant a vineyard on the slope leading down to the Exe estuary, the appreciation of wines including local wines from Devon and the UK as well as the finest from around the world — is a central element to the Lympstone Manor experience. Wine is very much a shared passion for both Michael and co-director Steve Edwards who has developed an impressive wine list for the hotel. There are two basement cellars as well as a wine tasting and dispense room opposite Lympstone Manor’s three dining rooms located on the ground floor. The tasting room will be used to house wine storage cabinets alongside a bank of Wine Emotion dispense machines for the service of wines by the glass as well as a sommeliers table where small groups can enjoy a bespoke wine tasting experience.


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The stylish guestrooms at Lympstone Manor are all named after birds that live in and around the estuary, making each room individual. Every room reflects its namesake, from the blue jewel tones used in The Kingfisher room to elegant soft grey textures found in The Heron suite. The Heron is one of two luxurious Superior Estuary Suites complete with two side by side bath tubs and a spacious lounge allowing the guest to take full advantage of the views out over the estuary. Many of the guestrooms at Lympstone Manor come with their own terraces or balconies to maximize on the hotel’s superb vistas. Three Grand Estuary Suites and three ground floor Master Estuary Suites have the added luxury touch of an outdoor fire table and soak tub, perfect to luxuriate in all year round.

Local Area and Things to Do

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In addition to enjoying the exquisite fine dining at Lympstone Manor, the property is able to arrange wine tasting and vineyard visits for guests wanting to know more about local wine. For those looking for a leisurely stroll, the ‘Lady’s Walk’, created in 1760 when the property was in its main development as a private home, is a 30 minute circular route along the boundary of the hotel, taking in the shingle of the estuary. The Exe Estuary is an SSSI – a designated Site of Special Scientific Interest – due to being a haven for birds with nearly 20,000 wading birds and wildfowl found in the area. For guests wanting to discover the area, bicycles are available from the hotel free of charge to discover The Exe EstuaryTrail that runs past the bottom of the hotel grounds, connecting Exmouth with Lympstone, Topsham and Exeter. Also nearby is the Jurassic Coast, a 95 mile long World Heritage site that celebrates 185 million years of earth’s pre-history and history.  Exeter is a great choice for a day out with the Cathedral, Woollen Trail and Underground Passages to explore or nearby Powderham Castle, built in 1391 and now in its 28th generation.


Lympstone Manor is only a short distance from Exeter, easily reachable by train, car or air, making it the perfect rural escape. Located between the small farming and maritime village of Lympstone, complete with over 70 listed buildings, and the neighbouring town of Exmouth, Lympstone Manoris surrounded by un-spoilt countryside and an abundance of wildlife.

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The package

Nightly rates at Lympstone Manor will start from £245 per night including breakfast.

Deal of the day: snap up the summer nights packages, offering four nights for the price of three – available for bookings between 1st June to 30th September 2017.