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Family-Run Paradises

Two remote destinations are staying ahead of the luxury-vacation curve

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Andros, Bahamas

After Jennifer and Brian Hew left Jamaica in the late 1960s, among a slew of other natives fleeing the country’s escalating political turmoil, they were in search of a new paradise to call home. Thirty years later, in 1994, they finally found that home on a 96-acre island in the Bahamas that would become Kamalame Cay, the luxury resort they own today. Originally a rustic attraction for bonefishing enthusiasts, the secluded resort—a favorite of celebrities including Nicole Kidman and Penélope Cruz—now has 19 seaside cottages and bungalows, as well as a spa, two restaurants and a host of outdoor activities for those less skilled with a fishing rod. Jennifer and Brian’s son David was 11 when they bought the island, and never imagined he’d go into the family business. But after working in the European fine-arts market, he started to feel the call of home, and recently he and his husband, Michael, moved to Kamalame Cay to take over operations.

David says that he couldn’t be happier with his decision. “It’s sleepy and it’s remote here,” he says, “but there’s always somebody new, somebody interesting. It’s a wonderful mix of people from all over the world—from captains of industries to heads of state or John Smith from down the street—it’s really quite special.” And for David, entertaining the world’s most interesting people feels natural; after all, during his childhood that was just another family dinner. “Growing up,” he says, “it was all communal dining at one big table. So the people we got to sit next to and the conversations we listened to—I remember Miriam Stoppard likening the Guggenheim in Bilbao to the female anatomy—our life now draws on that heritage.” 



Tsavo West National Park, Kenya

These days, no one blinks at the idea of a “luxury safari,” but it wasn’t so long ago that the two words were contradictory concepts. It was only in 1992 that Finch Hattons was founded in Tsavo National Park as the first eco-friendly African safari camp with upscale tents and services, and in the time since the company has established itself as the standard for a growing industry. 

Positioned at the base of Mount Kilimanjaro, the camp is home to natural spring pools, which flow through its terrain, attracting wildlife in clear view of the lodgings. A guest can observe hippos bathing as she herself takes a dip in an elevated infinity pool, or, after a seven-course dinner, have a glass of wine on her tent’s private deck and wait for the elephants to lumber by for a late-night soak. Last year Finch Hattons re-opened after an intensive two-year renovation, introducing 17 new (and some refurbished) luxury tents, as well as pools, a spa, a massage parlor and a gym, while escalating its commitment to environmental sustainability.

The camp’s director, Leena Gehlot, is the daughter of one of its original investors, and after starting a law career in London, was surprised to find herself drawn back to Finch Hattons. Perhaps it shouldn’t come as such a revelation: Her family’s heritage in Kenya stretches back four generations, to when her great-grandfather journeyed from India to work on the railroad. Decades later, her grandfather made a name for himself in Kenya by building roads, and to this day, Finch Hattons employs residents of a nearby town named after him. “All these years later, we’re in wildlife preservation and running a lodge down the road from where it began,” Gehlot says. “There’s an amazing string of history here, and a real sense of belonging for me.”