Who doesn’t get that flutter of excitement when contemplating a weekend getaway? It’s not like you’re contemplating a trek through Asia Minor where months of painstaking research needs to be paired with structured planning. It’s just a weekend, right? Ah, but what limitless adventures can be packed into a well-designed couple of days sandwiched between two routine working weeks.
So, what exactly is a ‘weekend’? Apparently, the term was first used in 1879 in Northern England by the average working person to denote the time of leisure starting Saturday lunchtime and concluding on Sunday evening. In fact, there’s a very funny scene in Downton Abbey when the imperious Lady Violet witheringly asks the charming Matthew Crawley “what is a weekend?”. Clearly ‘weekends’ were strictly for the proles!
I’m rather relieved to say that in modern usage, a weekend involves a little more than 36 snatched hours of recreation. A weekend nowadays extends to checking out of one’s daily grind on Friday afternoon to reconnect with your working life on Monday morning. If you add a little sprinkling of magic, say, a bank holiday or well-timed public holiday, you can extract an extra day or two. So, when contemplating weekend trips they could easily be described as mini-vacations with enough time available to reboot a tired and weary body.
An Espresso or a Latte?
I find the best way to categorise weekend vacations is either as an espresso or a latte. By this I mean, is it going to be a 2-day adventure – a punchy and perfect, quick getaway, like a stimulating espresso. Or will it be a slightly longer languid affair akin to a delicious latte enjoyed at leisure? The destination can generally dictate what formula works best. For instance, any number of city breaks, accessed by air within 3 hours, can give enthusiastic travellers that 2-day fabulous change of scene.
But I do prefer to change it up slightly and go for the ultimate weekend experience eg. that two-day beach mini-break. The reason I’m so drawn to this is that it seems so decadent and rather impossible to achieve. Realistically, though there’s absolutely no reason why you can’t fly out of any corner of Europe on a Friday evening. You can enjoy two full days of sun, sand and splendour at wonderful destinations along the Mediterranean – think Italy, Greece, Spain. Likewise, departing from key continental American locations on a Friday evening flight can see you whisked into some wonderful beachy resorts in The Bahamas, Turks and Caicos or Mexico.
Do’s and Don’ts for the Perfect Weekend Trips!
If you’re keen on building the very perfect 2-day beach escape here are some useful suggestions on how best to strategize and structure your dream getaway.
Are there any rules that are worth considering when planning the best weekend getaways? In my view, it’s to minimise the amount of transfer time on arrival at your destination airport. If you touch down at say, 9 pm only to spend another number of hours travelling to your gorgeous beachside villa then I think you’re losing out on precious vacation time. My golden rule for where to stay is that you should be able to get from the airport to your destination accommodation in time for a late supper and a few glasses of wine before slipping between some expensive sheets for the most sublime slumber!
If you have a lengthy stay planned at a villa somewhere swish you can spend the day after arrival getting set-up. You can devote hours to exploring and just easing into your two-week vacation. This simply doesn’t make sense if you have only a couple of days to work with. My second tip is to make sure your destination has all the amenities and services built-in and ready for your arrival. For instance, if you are keen on yoga, diving, sailing, tennis, golf, fishing – you will need to know that whatever literally floats your boat is immediately available within a near proximity of your luxury accommodations.
The best way to achieve this is by working with the efficient concierge team at Exceptional Villas who can pre-plan your trip down to exactly what you would like to find in your fridge on arrival. Picture the scene, you are met at your destination airport by a private car and driver. You are transferred without delay to your gorgeous beach-side villa where you find a sumptuous supper is prepared for you to enjoy on your secluded terrace. Kicking off your shoes and the cares of your working week and padding barefoot to look at the stars draped over a dark blue murmuring ocean, you literally enjoy your first taste of paradise … and all of this just a few hours after you stepped away from your office! Bliss.
Stuff to Do
Couple this divine first evening with built-in activities over the next two days. Think a catamaran trip, diving, kite surfing, pony trekking or just plain old-fashioned beachcombing. Whatever gives your weekend meaning should be pre-planned and booked. You don’t want to spend a morning trying to find the surf shop to book equipment. Every moment is precious. Again, the wonderful concierge teams at Exceptional Villas have expert first-hand knowledge of each of our fabulous destinations. Over the years, our concierge staff have built wonderful relationships with the very best service providers at each location. Your bespoke and fun-filled weekend vacation can be placed in their caring hands. All you have to do is simply turn up!
There is sometimes a little bit of a rush to ‘do everything’ and fill every possible moment when you know that your break is spread over a few days. This can result in weekend burnout where you get caught up in the idea that you can view, say, everything of importance in Cabo or Aruba in 48 hours.
My next tip is to treat each of your days away in very different ways. For example, day one, cherry-pick say two lovely activities. A morning activity coupled with a ‘be a tourist’ moment in the afternoon makes the most sense. For example, something water-based in the morning matched with a visit to someplace of interest like tequila or rum distillery. Be sure to insert a great lunch in between these two activities. My idea of a ‘great lunch’ when time is of the essence is something very informal. You want to be able to dine in your beachwear – think local dishes, tasty and spicy eaten at a quality food stall or a barefoot, sand-between-the-toes plate of freshness at a beach shack restaurant. Any of these can strike the right notes.
And how do you finish off that first perfect day? Well, I believe it should be given over to a world-class dining experience. You will want to slip into your sexy resort wear and visit a romantic, glamorous or lively restaurant. A candlelit dinner in some stylish restaurant that has mastered the art of creating divine food from the very best of local ingredients is an obvious choice. You can enjoy an aperitif before this amazing dinner and find some gorgeous destination bar to round off your evening … if you’re lucky, with some dancing thrown in!
Day two of your weekend trips should be a more relaxed day. This is the day to check in for some heavenly pampering at a spa. Maybe an outdoor yoga class. A bit of ad hoc paddle-boarding, swimming or snorkelling from the beach in front of your villa can be a playful way to spend a day. This is the day to have a world-class lunch. Allow Exceptional Villas to pick somewhere with a view and vibe that suits your personality. Let your afternoon simply unfurl and take shape in a relaxed and gentle way. Your private car will be ready at the appointed time to return you to the airport for your journey home.
Two’s Company ….?
The real genius behind any quick getaways is that they’re not just for the cute couple. In fact, they work really well for large group special birthday party celebrations, a fun girls’ trip or a boys’ golf or fishing expedition. The key to it working so well for large groups is that there is such little luggage involved. The old adage ‘he travels fastest who travels alone’ should really be changed to “he travels fastest who don’t check-in luggage!” Even the most chaotic traveller can contain all the necessary pieces for a 2-day escape within a cabin-sized bag. Trust me on this! Once you and your party check-in for your flight there is no possible time delay or that needless faff of hanging around luggage carousels.
Keep it simple, take the basics, including mini-sun screens in your liquid’s quota. And do be a little clever with your clothing choices – shoes always seem to be the biggest issue for me but I have it down to a 3-pair policy. Closed in sneaker-style for travel (that doubles as a useful shoe for a mini-hike), an attractive flat sandal for beach use and general resort exploration and one pair of knock out heels for an evening (of course!). Travel can be made easier by using some packing and travel hacks. No one wants to drag a huge check-in case around on a two-day adventure.
If you are that lucky group who are vacationing over a weekend to celebrate a forthcoming wedding, a significant birthday or another meaningful event, you might consider hosting the perfect party in your private luxury villa. After a fabulous day of lounging by the pool or decadent hours spent either in a spa or on a golf course, return to your magical villa to have a candlelit dinner or lively barbecue. With your own staff to mix a selection of tropical cocktails, the freshest and most delicious seafood, meat and vegetables beautifully presented, you can have that unique bonding experience. It’s the ultimate celebration weekend from which you’ll return with a few extra freckles and a whole lot of memories.
And to the boys out there …
I appreciate that romantic gestures are not only the preserve of women. In fact, I know a number of men who do really romantic things like take their partners to any number of sporting events. What girl doesn’t enjoy sitting for hours watching some team run in circles? Okay, perhaps I’m being somewhat unfair. But my recommendation to that wonderful man who has reached that milestone decision to ‘put a ring on it’, what better way to ensure a solid ‘YES’ than to whisk your lucky partner off to some beachy resort for the weekend.
The stage is then set for the proposal of a lifetime. We will have the champagne on ice waiting for you … all you need is the sparkler! This is the ultimate gesture that will get your ‘happy ever after’ off to the perfect start. And who knows, that proposal spot might turn out to be the very place for you to base your honeymoon.
The best weekend getaways don’t have to centre on city-breaks. Of course, that romantic whistle-stop trip to Paris or Rome for Europeans or Montreal or Mexico City for the Stateside travellers can be stimulating and action-packed. But if you are already an urbanite encased from Monday to Friday in some vaulted glass and steel building, it really makes terrific sense to just abandon the chillingly grey confines of metropolitan living for the turquoise sparkle of a limitless ocean. It is possible to experience that teasing sensation of powder white sand caressing your feet for a couple of delightful days. You can easily step onto the merry-go-round of beach pleasure that awaits at any number of gorgeous locations for that briefest of times.
And who makes it all happen? Well, we do. Exceptional Villas, an award-winning company with decades of experience in sourcing an eclectic mix of luxury properties in some of the most glorious destinations in the world. Let our wonderful sales and concierge teams take all the worry and work out of planning that gorgeous weekend away. Their intimate knowledge of each destination will unlock so many more facets of your break than you thought imaginable.
It’s that wonderful adventure that allows you to step from a desk to a hammock in a few hours … So, is it possible to have an incredible beach vacation in one short weekend? A resounding YES from me. Your first trip may feel a little decadent but when you are checking off some of the most gorgeous beach destinations in the world, one weekend at a time, you’ll realise how easy it is to achieve. And don’t forget, when you have experienced that tantalising weekend in some exotic location it can be an incentive to return and spend an even longer vacation at some point in the future. It’s really a delicious bite-sized morsel of the most delicious meal.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab your passport, pack that small suitcase and give Exceptional Villas a call now. We’re waiting to introduce you to your slice of luxury!
About Mairead Moriarty
Born and raised in Co Kerry, lived in London, New York, San Francisco, Dublin. Owner of one very battered suitcase, a well-worn passport and a million memories.
It seems very fitting for a travel writer that my surname translates as ‘Skilled Navigator’. Apart from an occasion when, aged 3, I got lost in a Supermarket in Tralee, I have managed to live up to my name!
Curiosity is probably the driver that has sent me on magical mystery tours around the world. I want to ‘feel’ a place. I want all my senses to be engaged: from the history and geography that has influenced a country or city, the arts and achievements of its natives, anything and everything really.
Regardless of whether I am on a local train travelling through Morocco, or poking around in Marconi’s study in Bologna or on a canal boat weaving through the heart of the English countryside, the same rules apply - ask questions, talk to locals, eat what they eat, sit quietly with nature and simply be.
Assimilate as much as is possible so as to understand the soul of a place. That is my passion. That is the compass by which I navigate.