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Britain’s Secret Getaway The Isles of Scilly


J


ust over an hour’s flight from City Airport, and your holiday starts as


you board one of the small planes (19 or 8 seaters) of the lovely people at Skybus, flying from Exeter airport over the Atlantic, beyond the south- western tip of England and on your way to sanity. No, not back home, but to The


Isles of Scilly, five inhabited islands in an archipelago of 55 islands and islets. Landing in St Mary’s, the main island, with a population of about 1600, life is governed not by the clock, but the tides and the weather. Boats large and small are the transport to the nearby islands, the schedules posted on boards at the island harbors and in the hotels. If the weather is bad, no boats, and everybody’s used to it. Booked for a stay or a restaurant on another island? Your hotel will rearrange it. We popped over there for a long weekend again, this time to


38 The American


St Martins, an island we hadn’t vis- ited before. From the tiny St Mary’s airport, we were whisked by airport shuttle bus to the quay where our driver put us on the St Martins boat. We’d booked into the island’s only hotel, Karma St Martins hotel & spa, so were automatically met by a van at the right quay (yes, some islands have more than one, and it depends on the weather, wind and tide as to which they use). This 5* hotel is set in just under 7 acres, next to the beach. Part of the growing Karma Group of luxury hotels & spas in India, the Far East, Germany, Greek islands and the Cote d’Azur, you can also join their Karma Club. The hotel has the air of a clubhouse, unstuffy and ‘at home’: we sank into the leather sofa by the bar for a coffee, browsed the vinyl record collection and put one on for a spin while we checked out the bookshelves and found the book I’d just bought at Exeter airport!


But the sea beckoned, so we


prised ourselves out, and walked along the empty, unspoilt beach and white sand dunes right next to the hotel, absorbing the sound of the waves and the ozone, seeing no-one. Refreshed, we booked a spa treatment with the helpful staff for the Sunday morning (which turned out to be the best massage I’ve ever had) and enquired about the next day’s boats. We dined on freshly caught Lobster thermidor and crab linguine, both excellent and large helpings, just what we needed after all that sea air, as were the crisp linen sheets. We awoke refreshed to watch the sun sparkling on the sea, and identify the seabirds (courtesy of the book thoughtfully placed by the window). Sauntering down to the quay


hard by the hotel after a leisurely breakfast, we boarded the boat for a day trip to Tresco, the second largest


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