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The best new wellbeing destinations

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Travel and travel planning are being disrupted by the worldwide spread of coronavirus. For the latest updates, read the FT’s coverage of the outbreak

Fill the senses in Brazil
Botanique, the intimate resort in the mountains bordering São Paulo and Minas Gerais states owned by Brazilians Ricardo and Fernanda Semler, was one of Brazil’s first genuinely sustainable retreats when it opened – and was covered first in HTSI – almost a decade ago. Between the organic terraced produce gardens, lush spa and countless trails for hiking and hacking, there didn’t seem to be much room for improvement. But if one name can up the ante on such promise, it’s sustainability pioneers Six Senses, who are about to take on management of the entire property – adding 14 new villas to the existing suite-villa count of 20 (plus a few dozen branded residences for those who fall hard for the Mantiqueira Mountains’ fresh air, native rainforest and charmed remove from São Paulo’s urban fray). There are plans to elevate the wellness and fitness offerings too, expanding the spa and incorporating signature anti-ageing, detox and immune-boosting programmes. sixsenses.com; from about £345

Great Plains Selinda Camp, Botswana
Great Plains Selinda Camp, Botswana © Andrew Howard
Accommodation at Selinda
Accommodation at Selinda © Andrew Howard

Embrace the great outdoors in Botswana
Botswana – which reopened its borders to international travellers last month – has some very compelling escapes that put the great outdoors at the centre of the show. The team at Great Plains Conservation has completely renovated the camps at Selinda (in the Linyanti) and Duba Plains (in the heart of the Okavango Delta). These were already intimate places, with just a handful of tents. But included in all the newness are the Selinda and Duba Plains Suites – the lodges’ signature two-bedroom tents, set away from the main camps and operated as standalone offerings (meaning guests have their own cooks, guides, house staff and even entrance). The net: near-360-degree privacy, so they can immerse entirely, day and night, in the wellbeing that total solitude in spectacular nature brings. greatplainsconservation.com; from $7,340, exclusive use

South Africa’s Babylonstoren
South Africa’s Babylonstoren
The courtyard of Babylonstoren’s owner’s house
The courtyard of Babylonstoren’s owner’s house

Kick back in Cape Dutch country
We’re not shy about declaring our love for Babylonstoren, in South Africa’s ravishingly pretty Cape Winelands. Its owners, Koos Bekker and Karen Roos – who more recently gave us The Newt in Somerset – first delighted guests and garden enthusiasts here at their maiden hotel venture, an 18th-century Cape Dutch farm remade with contemporary interiors (Roos is the former editor-in-chief of the South African edition of Elle Decoration) and acres of gardens full of glorious things to eat, drink and smell (the walled chamomile garden is a favourite feature: enter in the early morning or evening, walk barefoot among the thousands of blooms, then sit down on the bench at its centre and contemplate the heavenly scent that fills the air). Next month, the Roos-Bekkers will debut the Fynbos Family House, which accompanies the recently built Fynbos Cottages. Set away from the main farm, with views over the vineyards, the Family House’s five bedrooms, own walled garden and signature Babylonstoren “cube” – the ultra-sleek glass conservatory style found in all the suites and cottages, for maximising the outdoors-in effect of the surrounding landscape – are an ideal family or group escape, but with all the perks of the farm close at hand. babylonstoren.com; from about £670

Dishes from the Joel Robuchon-signed restaurant at The Woodward, Geneva
Dishes from the Joel Robuchon-signed restaurant at The Woodward, Geneva

Pampering in Geneva
Anyone who’s been to the spectacular spa at The Lanesborough in London knows: the team at the Oetker Collection does holistic wellness-beauty-fitness extremely well. This is good news for those based in Geneva, who can now avail themselves of the full experience at The Woodward, the newest Oetker-flagged European property. The lakefront Quai Wilson situation is pretty mint, as promise to be the Pierre-Yves Rochon-designed rooms and suites, and (if molecular wizardry and showy plating are your things), the properly fancy Joël Robuchon-signed restaurant. But spare some time – perhaps even a whole day – for The Woodward’s 1,200sq m spa, with its airy treatment suites, 21m indoor lap pool, Swedish baths and hydrotherapies, full fitness centre and very swank Guerlain Wellness Institute, where the menu includes skincare treatments you won’t find elsewhere. oetkercollection.com; from about £1,250

@mariashollenbarger





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Emerging Markets

NYSE to suspend trading of China’s Cnooc next month

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The New York Stock Exchange is to start delisting proceedings against China National Offshore Oil Corporation to comply with an executive order from Donald Trump that bans Americans from investing in companies with ties to the Chinese military.

The NYSE on Friday said it would suspend trading in Cnooc’s American depository shares on March 9, after determining that the company was “no longer suitable for listing” following the order that the former US president signed in November.

The order banned investing in several dozen Chinese groups that were last year put on a Pentagon blacklist of companies that are accused of working with the People’s Liberation Army and threatening US security. Trump set a January 28 deadline for the ban to take effect, but President Joe Biden pushed the deadline back to May 27.

The NYSE move comes as Biden evaluates a number of assertive actions that Trump took against China during his last year in office. The commerce department last year put Cnooc on a separate blacklist — called the “entity list” — that makes it hard for US companies to sell products and technology to the Chinese oil group.

The Biden administration has not made clear whether it intends to keep Trump’s executive order in place. But the new president and his officials have so far adopted a tough stance towards China over everything from its economic “coercion” to concerns about its clampdown on the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong to the repression of more than 1m Uighur Muslims in the northwestern Chinese province of Xinjiang.

Earlier this month, Biden used his first conversation with Chinese president Xi Jinping since assuming office to raise concerns about Hong Kong and Xinjiang, and aggressive Chinese actions towards Taiwan. Antony Blinken, secretary of state, also described the detention of Uighurs in labour camps as “genocide”.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, has said the administration was conducting a number of “complex reviews” of the China actions that Trump took. The former president put dozens of other Chinese companies on the Pentagon and commerce department blacklists, including Huawei, the Chinese telecoms equipment group.



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Bond sell-off roils markets, ex-Petrobras chief hits back, Ghana’s first Covax vaccines

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The yield on the benchmark 10-year Treasury exceeded 1.5 per cent for the first time in a year and the outgoing head of Petrobras warns Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro against state controlled fuel prices. Plus, the FT’s Africa editor, David Pilling, discusses the Covax vaccine rollout in low-income countries. 

Wall Street stocks sell off as government bond rout accelerates

https://www.ft.com/content/ea46ee81-89a2-4f23-aeff-2a099c02432c

Ousted Petrobras chief hits back at Bolsonaro 

https://www.ft.com/content/1cd6c9fb-3201-4815-9f4f-61a4f0881856?

Africa will pay more for Russian Covid vaccine than ‘western’ jabs

https://www.ft.com/content/ffe40c7d-c418-4a93-a202-5ee996434de7


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Petrobras/Bolsonaro: bossa boots | Financial Times

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“Brazil is not for beginners.” Composer Tom Jobim’s remark about his homeland stands as a warning to gung-ho foreign investors. Shares in Petrobras have fallen almost a fifth since President Jair Bolsonaro said he would replace the widely respected chief executive of the oil giant.

Firebrand Bolsonaro campaigned on a free-market platform. Now he is reverting to the interventionism of leftist predecessors. It is the latest reminder that a country with huge potential has big political and social problems.

Bolsonaro reacted to fuel protests by pushing for a retired army general to supplant chief executive Roberto Castello Branco, who had refused to lower prices. This is politically advantageous but economically short-sighted.

Fourth-quarter ebitda beat expectations at R$60bn (US$11bn), announced late on Wednesday, a 47 per cent increase on the previous quarter. This partly reflected the reversal of a R$13bn charge for healthcare costs. Investors now have to factor the cost of possible fuel subsidies into forecasts. The last time Petrobras was leaned on, it set the company back about R$60bn (US$24bn at the time). That equates to 40 per cent of forecast ebitda for 2021.

At just over 8 times forward earnings, shares trade at a sharp discount to global peers. Forcing Petrobras to cut fuel prices will make sales of underperforming assets harder to pull off and debt reduction less certain. Bidders may fear the obligation to cap prices will apply to them too.

A booming local stock market, rock bottom interest rates and low levels of foreign debt are giving Bolsonaro scope to spend his way out of the Covid-19 crisis. But the economy remains precarious. Public debt stands at 90 per cent of gross domestic product. The real — at R$5.40 per US dollar — remains near record lows. Brazil’s credit is rated junk by big agencies.

Rising developed market yields will make financings costlier for developing nations such as Brazil. So will high-handed treatment of minority investors. It sends a dire signal when a government with an economic stake of just over a third uses its voting majority to deliver a boardroom coup.

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