Travelling isn’t just about visiting new places, experiencing different cultures and sampling foreign cuisines. Part of the everlasting allure of exploring the world is the opportunity it presents to create dazzling new memories.
If a destination is special enough and captures even a slither of your heart; these memories will follow you throughout your lifetime like a happy, welcome shadow.
One way to enhance the spell cast by your favourite destinations is to return home with treasures from your travels that will allow you to relive their magic, whenever and wherever you please.
We’re not talking about seashells you collected on your sunset beach walk (because nature is best left where you found it), but talismans that will take you on a visceral journey back to those meaningful moments.
Below is a list of our favourite souvenirs from our most-loved travels that are as singular and wonderful as the destinations that spawned them.
Bawah Reserve is an earth-focused luxury resort located in Indonesia’s Anambas archipelago. It’s one of South East Asia’s most exclusive and sought-after experiences and in addition to its staggering natural beauty, one of the things that makes a stay here so special is the attention-to-detail you’ll encounter across every element of your journey.
With a team that greets you by name, remembers how you like your tea, coffee and cocktails, what your dietary requirements are, and intuits when you’re hungry or ready for a spa treatment before you even realise yourself, you can’t help but be beholden by this resort.
Villas at Bawah Reserve don’t have room numbers – because each guest is much more to the resort than just another number – instead their entrances are adorned with hand-made timber signs with the names of its occupants. To find your way back to your villa you simply look for your own name emerging from the lush foliage or jutting out from the lagoon.
Upon departure, the Bawah team will lovingly wrap your personalised name tag for you to take home and admire – the perfect souvenir of your sun-soaked days in paradise when you felt like royalty!
Anchored in the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve of the Baa Atoll in the Maldives, Vakkaru is an elegant oasis that combines contemporary amenities with traditional, locally-inspired design elements.
The people on the local island of Thulhaadhoo in the Baa Atoll, the closest island to Vakkaru Maldives, are renowned for their skills in working with lacquer. In fact, the island is well known for being the only place Maldivians are still practicing the country’s traditional way of lacquering artefacts, which was historically used to supply the country’s noble families.
Lacquer work, or “laajehun” in the local tongue, was introduced to the Maldives in the 17th century and it is one of the most distinctive forms of handicraft in the archipelago. Records show that the Chinese were the first to manufacture and trade lacquer, and in doing so, helped establish one of the Maldives’ most important artforms.
Traditionally, a piece of wood is sculpted into the desired shape and then coated with layers of different colours of lacquer. Lacquer works were usually used for containers, bowls, and trays to present gifts to the sultan. Some excellent examples can be seen in the National Museum in Malé or even in souvenir shops.
Vakkaru Maldives takes pride in supporting the local community and promoting Maldivian culture and heritage by showcasing a mini-workshop by the local artists along with a collection of handmade lacquer work from Thulhaadhoo island every once a week at one of its dining venues, Amaany. During this special occasion, you can order a personalised souvenir with your name engraved on it. The products are also available for purchase in the resort’s Sand Boutique so you can take them home with you to decorate your own living areas!
A discussion about memorable travels wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Soneva – the veritable founders of ‘immersive travel’, who across their three ultra-luxurious resorts in the Maldives and Thailand, inspire a lifetime of rare experiences.
From sunset cocktails on deserted sandbanks in the middle of the Indian Ocean to glassblowing and astronomy lessons, and multiple trips to dedicated chocolate and ice cream rooms, there are more opportunities to create unique memories at Soneva than anywhere else in the world.
No matter how you choose to spend your days, there’s one concept that unifies every single guest’s Soneva experience and that is the resorts’ SLOWLIFE philosophy, which stands for Sustainable, Local, Organic, Wellness, Learning, Inspiring, Fun, Experiences.
A huge part of Soneva’s mission is to remind guests to slow down, reconnect with themselves, with each other and with nature; and the resorts are designed specifically to accommodate this process. After a mere matter of minutes at any Soneva property, you’ll find yourself relaxing, the tension leaving your body, and the thoughts that normally cloud your mind evaporating into the blue skies above.
It is the ideal atmosphere to spend your days lying underneath a beach umbrella or sprawled on one of the expansive couches in your villa with a good book in hand. Realising this, the innovative team at Soneva Fushi (the group’s flagship resort in the Baa Atoll of the Maldives) launched ‘Barefoot Bookseller’ – the first pop-up bookstore in the Maldives.
You can visit the desert island bookstore, browse to your heart’s content, and pick up a beautiful new read. We recommend choosing a coffee table book that you can proudly display at home, a souvenir which will transport you back to your island home every time you open it.
Ani Private Resorts
ÁNI Private Resorts is the world’s first collection of private resorts, with high-end, all-inclusive properties in Sri Lanka, Thailand, Anguilla and the Dominican Republic. Operating in conjunction with the resort group is ÁNI Art Academies – a global, not-for-profit organisation that delivers a comprehensive art education to aspiring artists around the world, especially those in underprivileged circumstances.
The two organisations work symbiotically in a cycle that benefits all involved. The resorts support the academies financially, the academies support the artists, and the artists create works to hang in the resorts.
“ÁNI” is derived from a Swahili word that means “on a path or great journey” and this beautiful notion applies to guests of ÁNI Private Resorts’ four properties who have the unique opportunity to visit the art academies during their stay at any of the luxury properties.
When staying at any ÁNI Private Resorts property, you will be offered a complimentary guided trip to the local art academy – including a tour of the facilities, a chance to meet and mingle with the artists, and the opportunity to buy any of the art as a souvenir to bring home and adorn your own walls!
Ceylon Tea Trails
Part of the iconic Resplendent Ceylon family of boutique resorts in Sri Lanka, Ceylon Tea Trails is a sprawling tea estate in Hill Country dotted with luxurious tea-planter bungalows, decorated in colonial style. A trip to this luxury resort is like stepping back in time, with butler service, afternoon tea and lawn croquet juxtaposed with infinity pools and a menu of activities and excursions to choose from.
The resort offers the quintessential tea experience – a guided tour of the Dunkeld Tea Factory with their resident tea specialist who passionately delves into all aspects of tea in just the right amount of detail. From a look back to the early days of planting and the lifestyles of the early colonial settlers, to the manufacturing process, and how flavours are created to suit various palates – he’s got it covered.
In the evenings, gain a rare and exclusive insight in to a centuries-old art form that has shaped a global industry. Learn about the art of tea tasting through an interactive and guided experience where you will be invited to taste multiple teas under the guidance of an expert host. During the experience, you will learn (and try for yourself) how professional tea tasters identify (and appreciate!) the unique flavour profiles that give different teas their distinction.
The Resplendent Ceylon resorts were conceived by Sri Lankan tea producers and founders of Dilmah Ceylon Tea, the Fernando family. Given the integral role tea plays in the entire Resplendent Ceylon philosophy, it would be remiss of us not to remind you to grab a couple of souvenir packets of Dilmah to take home with you. Every time you take a sip of that antioxidant goodness, you’ll be delivered straight back to those deliriously delicious days in the tea fields.
The world’s number one resort, Nihi Sumba, may be located on the edge of the wildness on Indonesia’s lesser known island of Sumba, but that doesn’t mean they don’t offer an irresistible range of souvenirs to commemorate your trip of a lifetime.
After a day spent surfing the world’s most coveted wave known as Occy’s left, embarking on a spa safari, trekking to a waterfall for a picnic, or riding horses along the beach, we recommend visiting the resort’s two boutiques to pick up a special souvenir like a handmade ikat bracelet or Sumba Foundation shirt. All proceeds support community development projects across the island.
Our favourite place to unearth a truly iconic Sumbanese memento is at the Sumba Market. Here, resort staff display original artifacts, ikats, wood carvings and jewellery from their villages and all proceeds go directly to the individual staff members. It is an excellent way to take back a souvenir from your favourite members of the Nihi Sumba Family!
Toberua Island Resort
Toberua Island Resort was Fiji’s very first private island resort and is still revered by travellers who visit the destination today. Set on four sandy acres of lush, tropical gardens located in the middle of a private azure lagoon off the east coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levi, the boutique resort promises an idyllic getaway for up to 50 guests.
The staff are charming, welcoming and will make you feel like family; the food is wholesome, fresh and tasty; and the Toberua experience is as relaxing as it is free from pretence. Traditional Fijian culture is a pillar of the resort’s operation, with a number of local tours and cultural experiences available for guests.
For these reasons (and more!) the island enjoys an impressively high returnee rate. Once guests sample the Toberua life, they can’t shake the feeling and want to revisit their island home. To thank them for their ongoing support and to make them feel even more like they’re part of the Toberua family, the staff present returnee guests with a Toberua sulu. Similar to a sarong, the sulu is a traditional Fijian item of clothing worn by both men and women – a perfect souvenir!