go a ur us pLU m tr S et a sp lia ec ia l
t rave ll ersâ€™ ta l es
david beckham iris apfel john legend
rome alone stanley stewartâ€™s guide to the finest private palazzi
high spirits new orleans is back in business 10 years after katrina
skiing with heroes 26 luxury holidays up for grabs ultratravel in our charity auction
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contents Autumn 2015
26 Regulars 17 Editor’s letter Charles Starmer-Smith on why September is such a glorious time to travel, given the right advice and access 19 The next big thing John O’Ceallaigh on light as art across the globe; made-to-measure islands; and a car for superyachts 23 Ultra experts David Beckham models biking gear; plus, world-time watches; cruisewear; James Bond-style gadgets 31 Aficionado Style icon Iris Apfel on nine decades of travelling 32 Upfront John Simpson recalls the pleasures of Crimea 35 Walden’s World All roads in the Cotswolds lead to food, discovers Celia Walden at the new, aptly named Thyme hotel 89 Silent Auction Bid on 24 luxury holidays and raise funds for a charity that helps wounded servicemen to build a new life 93 Intelligence An exclusive stay in Robert De Niro’s New York penthouse; inside a £34-million jet; a handy hi-tech bag 98 Travelling life Singer John Legend on Tom Ford luggage,
the best pizza in the world and feeding elephants in Thailand
Features 36 Sky highs Five countries, 12 days, two little Cessnas. Lisa Grainger takes off on the ultimate flying safari 42 Back to The Big Easy Ten years after Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the Southern city buzzes with optimism. Douglas Rogers drinks it in 48 All roads lead to home Stanley Stewart unlocks the secret spaces and private palaces discovered during his three decades as a Roman resident 57 AUSTRALIA SPECIAL In our 24-page gourmet guide, Terry Durack hails the arrival of Heston Blumenthal and René Redzepi, and James Steen asks six chefs to pick their top restaurants. Plus, picnicking by plane, bar-hopping by chopper, and a chauffeured wine trip by Daimler 81 Islands of plenty Charlotte Sinclair revels in plus-size helpings of pleasure at the refurbished North and Fregate Islands; plus, five of the Seychelles’ finest beach retreats
© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2015. Published by TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT, and printed by Polestar UK Limited. Colour reproduction by borngroup.com. Not to be sold separately from The Daily Telegraph. Ultratravel is a registered trademark licensed to The Daily Telegraph by PGP Media Limited
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SE PTEMBER 12 2015
ACCESS ALL AREAS THIS AUTUMN There’s no better month to travel than this: school’s in, the oppressive August heat is easing, parched landscapes are giving way to bucolic autumnal colours and the crowds are slowly dissipating. But you need to do more than pick the right time to unlock the door to a destination. You need expert advice, which is what this issue is all about, from Stanley Stewart’s guide to the Eternal City and tips from Douglas Rogers on the Big Easy, to hints from the irrepressible Iris Apfel on travelling in style, plus hotels that hit the right note for John Legend. Finally, a former Soviet State that John Simpson says would be a crime to miss. Editor
Contributors MaRTIn haaKe
cover IMAGe David Beckham on location in Mexico, photographed by Kat IrlIn
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When he’s not penning awardwinning songs, the American singer is on the road, touring and meeting his wife, a model, on photo shoots. For us, he opens his (extensive) black book of great world restaurants and nominates his favourite city for food – Tokyo.
The works of the Berlinbased artist, who illustrates John Simpson’s column for this issue, have adorned works from Bacardi to Vanity Fair. To escape from work, he heads to the Amalfi coast. “I enjoy the beautiful landscape and atmosphere, and slightly chaotic way of life. And the food is terrific.”
After nine years in London, the Sydney-based foodie now heads up Australia’s Top Restaurants awards, which sees him “hopping all over the country like a crazed kangaroo”. This autumn, he’s hoping to take the legendary outback train, The Ghan. “The end goal is to eat a massive amount of mud crab on the beach.”
The celebrated 94-year-old style maven has travelled all her life, collecting objets to decorate glamorous homes (including the White House). She’d most like to visit Japan next. “But that’s a long trip and I don’t like to plan too far ahead. I never did when I was young and I certainly don’t now.”
The St Petersburg-born photographer started her career creating images on Instagram (where she has 605,000 followers) and has subsequently shot campaigns for brands from Tiffany to Belstaff, featuring David Beckham. New York is her favourite city. “There’s so much to shoot and it’s ever-changing: so inspiring.”
Editor Charles Starmer-Smith Creative director Johnny Morris Deputy editor Lisa grainger Photography editor Joe Plimmer Contributing editor John o’Ceallaigh Sub editors Kate Quill and Vicki Reeve Executive publisher for Ultratravel Limited nick Perry Publisher Toby Moore Advertising inquiries 07768 106322 (nick Perry) 020 7931 3039 (Chelsea Bradbury) Ultratravel, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0dT Twitter @TeleLuxTravel
CAYMAN BRAC LITTLE CAYMAN GRAND CAYMAN
3 of lifeâ€™s little luxuries
Little Cayman. Population 197. Paradise found.
the next BIG THING
What’s coming up in the world of luxury travel, from light installations and made-to-measure islands to supercars for yachts. Compiled by John O’Ceallaigh
LET THERE BE LIGHT The silvery west façade of Houghton Hall in Norfolk has been given fresh lustre. A sitespecific installation named “The Illumination” sees cascades of light soak the 18th-century building in gentle washes of colour. Under the supervision of the light artist James Turrell, some 10,000 LEDs have been secreted into the hall and light installations laid across its grounds. It is ephemeral, however – the lights go out on October 24. Other works of art provide further opportunity to see how casting new light on surroundings can dramatically challenge our sense of perception. Upon entering a coffin-black hut on the Japanese “art island” of Naoshima, it is the withdrawal of light that provides a deeply discombobulating experience. In comparison, the experience at the Enoshima Aquarium in Kanagawa couldn’t be more playful. Projected on to the centre’s darkened water tank, tumbling petals are thrown into vivid colour when they land on the bodies of drifting fish. At Carrières de Lumières in the South of France, the limestone walls of this abandoned quarry provide another unconventional canvas and are regularly used to display gargantuan reproductions of works by artists such as Klimt and Gauguin. The most transcendental of lightworks, however, are perhaps those set in nature. Found on a plain in New Mexico, some 400 polished-steel poles make up Walter De Maria’s “Lightning Field”. Accessible for just six months per year and open to only six people per day, the installation comes thrillingly ablaze during the lightning storms that regularly strike the area. Turrell’s most ambitious piece, meanwhile, is his life’s work. Inspired by ancient sites such as the pyramids, he has for decades been adapting the Roden Crater, an extinct volcano in Arizona. When finally complete, the cone and its new chambers will form a celestial observatory, with light beams dramatically illuminating darkened recesses at certain times of the day or year.
lighting-up time From top: James Turrell’s installation at Houghton Hall; artwork, Seldom Seen commissioned for the grounds of Houghton Hall . Turrell’s observatory at Roden Crater.
the next BIG THING
ste A M I n G A he A D A power plant billowing plumes of smoke doesn’t typically serve as a much-loved tourist landmark, but Danish architect Bjarke Ingels is so confident that the Copenhagen facility designed by his firm BIG will capture locals’ imagination that he is asking the Model of islands in the Maldives (left); and a Miami island (below)
public to contribute, through Kickstarter, towards its construction. The Amager Bakke Waste-to-Energy Plant – expected to open in 2017 – will produce energy by burning
FloAtI n G IDeAs
waste and will have as its most unusual feature a chimney that emits “smoke rings”
unique collaboration between Christie’s
already created thousands of floating homes
that are, in fact, made of steam. Each,
International Real Estate and developer
in the Netherlands and worked with the
measuring 69ft in diameter, they will puff
Dutch Docklands looks set to offer reclusive
Maldivian government to design habitations
out of the spout whenever a ton of CO2 is
holidaymakers something even better than
for the population should the nation succumb
burned in the plant. Although those
a far-flung private-island hideaway. Amillarah
to rising sea levels. Endorsed by the French
innocuous drifts of steam floating lazily into
Private Islands will not just have a similar
oceanic explorer and environmentalist Jean-
the air are actually representations of
sense of serenity and seclusion to nature’s
Michel Cousteau, this latest development will
galloping energy consumption and intended
finest, but can be made to order and
supposedly be environmentally “scarless”.
customised for clients. These artificial islands
By floating above the seabed, the structures
are to be placed beside a lagoon near Malé
environmentally conscientious, the building
will also float, meaning that owners could
should make minimal impact; their bases will
International Airport. Some 33 islands are
has been constructed with pleasure in mind,
potentially relocate should their bedroom villa
provide a new underwater habitat for sea life.
earmarked for Dubai and 30 are expected to
too. Its roof has been designed to be used
pop up in a 175-acre lake in Miami.
as a ski slope twice the length of the Sochi
Founded in 2005, Dutch Docklands has
The first location to welcome the islands is expected to be the Maldives – 10 of them
not quite catch each evening’s sunset.
to remind onlookers of the need to be
halfpipe and featuring green, blue and black runs. Perhaps it will be the first building to train a future Winter Olympics star?
hot new hote ls
It’s a given that a number of the gleaming vessels at the Monaco Yacht Show (September 23-26) will have helicopters on board. What they are unlikely to have (yet) is the new supercar created specifically for superyachts. Launched by yachting company Camper & Nicholsons International with Briggs Automotive Company, the Marine Edition Mono can reach 170mph and go from 0 to 60mph in 2.7 seconds. At 1,269lb, it can be hoisted fairly easily on to land – or just left on deck for its owners to admire. camperandnicholsons.com 20 ultratravel
After Britain’s mediocre summer, it’s fortuitous that this season’s most enticing openings take place in reliably warming climes. Near Cambodia’s Angkor Wat, Phum Baitang (pictured right, opening this month) is a scattering of 45 villas set in paddy fields. Spa facilities are extensive, but guests who wish to engage with the community may prefer to accompany chefs to local markets. Tri Lanka, near Galle in Sri Lanka, should be similarly smallscale and immersive when it opens in November. Made from recycled wood and with vertical gardens, its 10 suites stand on an island promontory, with a treetop yoga studio. Opening in October,
Phuket’s Keemala resort offers guests “rustic yet lavish” stays in one of four villa styles: clay cottages, tent villas, tree houses or bird’s nest villas. Mandarin Oriental Marrakech is more conventionally luxurious. Opening this month, its 54 walled villas, or riads, each with private pool,
are enveloped by 20 hectares of landscaped gardens. Old favourites return renewed, too. Destroyed by fire in March, Cape Town’s rebuilt Tintswalo Atlantic will reopen in November, as will Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa in Mauritius, following a
six-month restoration. Expect four new restaurants and an enhanced spa.
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It’s a big world. What do you Prefer?
DU S I T T H A N I M A L D I V E S Mudhdhoo Island, Maldives
T H E L A S T WO R D L O N G B E AC H Greater Cape Town, South Africa I L SA LV I AT I N O Florence, Italy
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ULTRA FASH ION
Navy nylon-elastane swimsuit £250, Lisa Marie Fernandez (lisamariefernandez.com). White polyamide-and-silk trousers £1,130, Antonio Berardi (020 7235 9153; modaoperandi.com). Goldplate and black-crystal collar necklace £148, and gold-plate Twig Flex bracelets £88 for set of two, both Diane von Furstenberg (020 7499 0886; dvf.com). Gilt-metal 1990s Chanel-logo earrings £795, Susan Caplan (020 7734 8040; fortnumandmason.com). Nappa-leather shoulder bag £1,875, Bottega Veneta (020 7629 5598; bottegaveneta. com). Rose-gold-tinted framed sunglasses £495, Cutler and Gross (net-a-porter.com)
PHOTOGRAPHER JOE PLIMMER; MOdEL AndREA KAROLIInA, TARGET MOdELs; sTyLInG ARAbELLA bOycE; HAIR And MAKE-UP nIcOLA McGEORGE
Shot on “La Sultana” yacht, available for charter in 2016 in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, from €225,000 per week (lasultanayacht.com)
Dressing for a day on the water should be a breeze. Pack a pair of this season’s ultra-wide trousers, a swimsuit that can double as a top, and sun-burnished gold accessories and you will shine from day to night, says Arabella Boyce ultratravel 23
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Queen Mary 2, Milford Sound, New Zealand, photo James Morgan.
U LT RA b i ki ng
Bike it like BECKHAM
A TRiuMpHANT TRip David Beckham, on set in Mexico, wears Outlaw jacket, £1,250; Fornham T-shirt, £255; Blackrod jeans, £255; and Trailmaster boots, £424, all Belstaff (belstaff.com). His film, Outlaws, is out on September 22 and can be viewed at belstaff.com/outlaws
I’d never been on a boys’ trip into the unknown, but it’s natural, when you’ve just retired from an industry which involves non-stop schedules, that the first thing you want to do is head into the middle of nowhere with your mates. In the past few years I’ve done two trips, travelling by bike. I loved the speed, the sense of freedom. Last year, journeying through the Amazon with some friends, I slept in a hammock, which I’d never done before, and stayed with a tribe who didn’t know what football was, and who asked me, ‘What is your forest like?’ This year, I got to film Outlaws in the Mexican desert with Harvey Keitel, Cathy Moriarty and Katherine Waterston, and ride an incredible new motorbike. These are the sorts of adventures I will never forget. IMAGE KAT IRLIN; WORdS LISA GRAINGER
top gear for trail-riders CLOCKWISE FROM FAR LEFT John Varvatos “Richards” wide-zip leather boots Handmade in Italy from black wrinkle-effect leather and finished with a chunky gold-tone zip fastening, these boots are destined for rugged adventure. (£645; 020 7022 0828; matchesfashion.com) Alexander McQueen skull-print silk-chiffon scarf Worn by high-profile bikers including Ewan McGregor and Brad Pitt, McQueen’s signature rock ’n’ roll motif scarf is the ultimate accessory for real men. (£165; 0800 123400; selfridges.com) Hedon “Hedonist” carbon fibre and fibreglass helmet Oozing class, British brand Hedon’s helmets appeal to the hippest bikers. They are extremely light and finished with a calf-leather trim and the company’s signature logo plaque. (£299; 020 8569 2967; hedon.com) The Atacama Expedition Motorcycle Tent The ultimate safe haven at the end of a hard day’s riding, this three-person tent features a sleeping annexe with enough space to sleep either cross- or lengthways, and has its own “garage” to protect motorcycles. (€490/£351; 0031 20 822 3029; redverzstore.com) Nannini leather and brass TT goggles Classic Nannini leather motorcycle goggles are designed to fit over open-face helmets and are imbued with inimitable Italian style. They feature leather inside for top comfort, and strong, light polycarbonate lenses that provide a high-definition view and full UV protection. (£73; 01992 537 546; classicpartsltd.com) BY LAURA LOVETT
U LT RA WATCHES
A woman’s WORLD
Watches that show the hour in two or more time zones have traditionally been more popular with men than with women. But among regular female travellers, demand is growing for these “world time” watches, some of which have a secondary hour hand, and others of which have additional hour dials. The ingenious mechanism of the Patek Philippe World Time pictured here was invented in 1937 by a watchmaker called Louis Cottier to show “home time” on a conventional pair of hands while also showing the hour in 23 capitals around the world on a rotating disc. In 2002, a platinum-cased model from 1939 sold at auction for a record £4.3 million – which makes the £37,000 pricetag of this World Time a little easier to bear. Simon de Burton
1 The caliber 240 HU self-winding, world-time mechanism is identical to that used in the 39.5mm men’s version, but it is contained in a more feminine, 36mm-diameter case in white or rose gold.
3 Once a city has been chosen to show local time – which is read using the hour and minute hands on the inner dial in the conventional manner – each of the remaining 23 cities marked on the outer ring becomes correctly synchronised with the 24-hour ring.
3 of the best women’s world-time wAtChes Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Duetto Duo Jaeger-LeCoultre’s Reverso was designed for British Army polo players as a watch that could be flipped in order to prevent its glass being smashed. The case design has been adapted over the years, notably in the women’s Duetto Duo, which has a dial on both sides of the case. Both sets of hands run from the same movement, but each can be set to a different time zone. From £8,250 (steel) to £35,200 (white gold, gem-set); jaeger-lecoultre.com
Chanel J12 GMT The Chanel J12 was created by the late designer Jacques Helleu and went on sale in 2000 – since when it has become one of the most successful watches ever made by a fashion house. The case and bracelet, constructed from high-tech ceramic, are scratch-proof, hypo-allergenic, water-resistant and remain cool even in direct sunlight. This GMT version also displays a second time zone using the additional hand in conjunction with the 24-hour outer dial. £3,825; chanel.com
2 The back of the watch is fitted with sapphire crystal glass that allows the movement to be seen, but the watch remains water-resistant to a depth of 98ft.
4 The push-piece at the 11 o’clock position is used to rotate the city ring to align the relevant destination with the red pointer at 12 o’clock.
Louis Vuitton Escale Time Zone Louis Vuitton’s Escale Time Zone watch features a colourful, hand-painted dial inspired by the multi-hued “blazons” once used to identify the luggage of steamship passengers. It has proved so successful that, in addition to the original goldcased version, there is this more affordable alternative with a smaller, thinner, 39mm stainlesssteel case. The watch uses a mechanical movement unique to Louis Vuitton and is waterresistant to 164ft. £4,500; louisvuitton.com
5 To add a feminine touch, the bezel of the watch is set with 62 diamonds weighing a total of 0.82 carats, and the gold buckle with another 27.
Desert island dream Set on the pristine white sands close to Hanifaru Bay in the Maldives, Anantara Kihavah Villas is a serene retreat of tranquil villas, underwater dining and sweeping ocean views. Relax at the lavish overwater spa, watch the sunset from the rooftop bar or indulge in the underwater wine cellar. Enjoy great savings when you book your ďŹ‚ight and hotel together. To ďŹ nd out more and to book visit ba.com/kihavahvillas
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Slick new technology with the cool factor? No problem, says Mark Wilson – grab one of these 007-style gadgets
ULTRA Tech clockwise from main picture Quiksilver True WeTsuiTs Need to move quickly from boardroom to beach? This 2mm neoprene wetsuit has waterproof jacket, trousers, shirt and tie, with side vents for an easy surfing posture and blind-stitched seams (about £1,500; truewetsuits.jp). rimoWa F13 A replica of the Junkers F13, the first all-metal passenger aircraft, the F13 will be manufactured by the luggage company Rimowa. It can take four passengers, and will be able to take daytime flights up to 12,000ft (due spring 2016; price on application; rimowa-f13.com). lily Pop its GPS tracker in your pocket and this flying camera will film your sporting exploits. Throw the Lily into the air, and it films 1080p video or takes 12MP photos for 20 minutes. Its top speed is 25mph, and it hovers at up to 50ft (due May 2016; $699/£450; lily.camera). mando FooTloose The world’s first chainless folding electric bike converts pedal energy into electricity to top up its 20mile range. The gears change automatically, it can go at 16mph, and removing the LCD immobilises it (£3,000; mandofootloose.com). masTer & dynamic Zero HalliburTon kiT This aluminium case contains Master & Dynamic’s luxe, supercomfortable MH40 headphones, a stand and a boom mic for clear Skype calls. The closed-back design prevents sound leakage (£600; 0800 011 9426; masterdynamic.co.uk). digiTal bolex d16 This digital version of Bolex’s 16mm movie camera brings filmlike video quality to indie directors. It shoots uncompressed RAW footage, is compatible with vintage C-mount lenses, has a 2.4in digital viewfinder and a “pistol grip” for a steady shoot ($3,000/£1,925; 001 213 628 3191; digitalbolex.com).
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A C C O R H O T E L S ' F R E E L O YA LT Y P R O G R A M
In her tenth decade, Iris Apfel has lost none of her joie de vivre – or her magpie instinct for global treasures, from Turkish jewellery to Belgian linens
orn in Queens in New York, Iris Apfel studied fine arts before setting up her own interior-design business and
then founding the textile company Old World Weavers with her late husband Carl. Together they travelled the world, sourcing fabrics, antiques and curios for the White House and prestigious households throughout America. Her strikingly original wardrobe, composed of haute couture, flea-market finds and unexpected artefacts discovered on her frequent jaunts abroad, formed the basis of the 2005 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition “Iris Apfel, Rare Bird of Fashion”. Today, at 94, 10 years after she became a fashion icon, the self-described “geriatric starlet” remains active as a model, designer and revered style adviser.
i’m always pretty good at marrying pieces so that they don’t look like they were put together. When i’d
visit the grand Bazaar in istanbul (grandbazaaristanbul.org), Carl and i would go in to the back of jewellers, where they’d brew us tea. i bought the most unbelievable treasures there that i wouldn’t sell for anything – mostly antique pieces such as harem jewellery made with mine-cut diamonds in wonderful settings.
The whole world has become homogenised. But Naples is somewhere where people have
always had enormous style. We went
NORMAN NELSON/ MuSES ANd ViSiONARiES MAgAziNE; ALAMY
right after the big war and in the very
COlOurful CharaCter Naples (right), whose people apfel describes as having “a real zest for life”. an object from azul tierra in Barcelona (below) and an embellished vestment
Azul Tierra (azultierra.es). The
bodyguards. Oh my god, he was
owner has exquisite taste and mixes
contemporary with antique things.
I was really very taken with the place.
i love flea markets. i just like
Museums are the last bastion of civilisation and, with the way the world is going, we have to protect
older things and think they have
them as much as we can. i think much
much more of a soul than these
of contemporary art is a case of the
early Fifties, when the people there
machine-made contemporary objects,
emperor’s new clothes and i find it
didn’t have anything. But they had a
which don’t have any inner life. i look
insulting, but i love Old Master drawings
zest for life and looked wonderful. It
at something old and think: “Who owned
and old paintings. The Metropolitan
was their attitude, not what they wore.
you? Where did you live before? Were
Museum (metmuseum.org) is one of the
you happy there?” it makes it much
greatest encyclopaedic museums going.
When i began travelling to London
more interesting for me.
i became friendly with a lot of
there that i started getting into church
and fill a container or two. We’d go to
food, every kind of product. If you can’t
vestments. i bought them in London
Belgium for linens, England for prints
find it in New York, it doesn’t exist. It’s
and then from some people in Paris who
(the country was always known for
true. You may have to search for it or
specialised in antique fabrics.
chintz and prints), antique fabrics in
pay for it, but it’s there.
Paris and complicated handwoven silks
the traders at Portobello market
(portobelloroad.co.uk) and went to their homes for tea or dinner. it was
I’ve always been a fabrics freak and from the Fifties, we’d go once or twice a year to Europe
I don’t think there’s another city that’s quite as multilevelled as New York. You find people from
all over the world there, every kind of
I find shopping today very
from Italy. Everybody who was anybody
Iris Apfel is a curator for Rosewood Hotels
difficult. But recently I visited
came to us, from Greta Garbo to Estée
(rosewoodhotels.com). iris, a documentary
the most wonderful shop in
Lauder and even OJ Simpson back in
about her life, is on DVD (irismovie.co.uk).
the day, who came with Nicole and
Interview by John O’Ceallaigh
Barcelona, a lifestyle place called
Stirring battle sites, historic palaces, harbourside cafés and charming people – Crimea has much to commend it. But get there quickly
IllustratIon MartIn Haake; Henry Iddon
here are moments in international affairs when the clouds part, and the sun illumines an area which has been murky for years. They have recently parted over the magical peninsula of Crimea; and my advice is, take advantage of it. That engaging old crook Nikita Khrushchev was born in Ukraine and, as the boss of the Soviet Union, he handed over Crimea, which had always been Russian, to the Soviet government of Ukraine as a present. This didn’t matter much while it was just another part of the USSR, but when the big split came in 1991 and Ukraine and Russia went their separate ways, Ukraine hung on to Crimea. It wasn’t until 2014 that Russia, by foul means, grabbed it back. Now you can get there only through Russia. Because of international sanctions against Moscow, no cruise ships stop there any more, and there’s no legal access from anywhere else. As a journalist, I need special permission to go to Crimea, but tourists can do it easily. It’s thoroughly worth the trip. Crimea is full of pleasant little towns with whitewashed 19th-century Russian buildings, and in places like Balaclava and Sevastopol you feel you’re just about to bump into Anton Chekhov, looking for the lady with the little dog. In the Livadia Palace at Yalta, the chairs where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin argued in 1945 are still exactly as they were. Upstairs, the bedrooms of Tsar Nicholas II are untouched; even the Tsarina’s hairbrush is still on the dressing table.
But for Brits in particular there’s another draw: the Crimean War battlefields. For most of the 20th century, it was extremely difficult to reach Crimea. Sevastopol was a topsecret nuclear submarine base, and even Russians needed special permission to visit. Many historians tried and failed, which is why, when you read books about, say, the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava, it’s difficult to understand exactly what happened on the ground. There’s a famous picture, taken by the pioneering war photographer Roger Fenton, of a rocky valley whose floor is littered with cannonballs after the Charge. That has given thousands of us, over the years, the idea that the battle of Balaclava was fought out over rough, mountainous territory. Tennyson’s line about the “Valley of Death” reinforces this idea, though of course he only read about the charge in the newspaper. True, there’s a famous engraving by a war artist of the battle as it really was, on an open agricultural plain near the sea; but photographs, even from the 1850s, seem more reliable than drawings, somehow. You get a magnificent panorama of the battlefield of Balaclava from a monument on Causeway Heights. When it happened, there was only one smallish vineyard in the valley, but now most of the area is given over to vines and a cavalry battle would be impossible. You can understand why the perennially unlucky Lord Raglan could see clearly that the Russians were trying to haul some British guns away and wanted
UP FRO NT
In the Livadia Palace at Yalta, the chairs where Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin argued in 1945 are still exactly as they were. Even the Tsarina’s hairbrush is on the dressing table
the Light Brigade to stop them, while the awful Lord Cardigan and his equally appalling brother-in-law Lord Lucan couldn’t see anything of the sort and assumed that Raglan was ordering them to charge at the massed Russian artillery. A bugle sounded the charge – and on YouTube you can hear a recording of it from 1890, just as it sounded on October 25 1854; heartstirring, despite the hisses and crackles. At home I have a little wooden block on which are displayed a couple of broken British clay pipes and several Russian, British and French bullets. I bought it from a junk shop in Sevastopol, and the objects were found on the battlefield at Balaclava. Presumably the soldiers had a quick smoke while they dodged the bullets. What you don’t hear much about, certainly from British history books, is that everyone on all sides felt so depressed after watching the British light cavalrymen being mown down that they just packed up and called it a day. We think the battle was a draw; the Russians said it was a victory. Go there if you can, while you can; the Russians plan to base long-range bombers there and could easily block the whole peninsula again. There are various pleasant hotels in Balaclava, Sevastopol and the capital Simferapol, and some stunning harbourside fish restaurants. The locals are so amazed to find tourists that they’re charming. Why not download the trumpet call from YouTube and play it there for the first time in 161 years as you plod across the pleasant battlefield? Just don’t wait too long…
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orn!” emotes my husband in the stricken tones of a Turgenev hero who has just spotted his long-lost love from afar. We’re ambling through the 150-acre gardens of Thyme hotel at Southrop Manor (thymeatsouthrop. co.uk) when he has what can only be described as “a funny turn”. An earlier sighting of a swan and cygnets nearly drew him to tears (I expect she had a similar reaction to him), and now that we’ve reached the vegetable gardens, the man keeps crouching down to coo over organic legumes. “I’ve always wanted to grow corn,” he adds as a poignant afterthought. Whereupon I’m forced to reiterate what I said a mere half-hour ago, when we chanced upon the manor’s bee houses and he wondered aloud: “Why don’t we make our own honey?” “People like us don’t make our own honey,” I explain firmly, “and we sure as hell don’t grow our own corn.” It’s the Cotswolds effect, of course. A few hours in this bountiful part of the world makes you forget all that you are and has you dreaming of a life where you churn your own wildly creamy yoghurt in between clay-pigeon shoots. And whilst this bucolic part of Oxfordshire has always provided the back-to-basics purity city-dwellers yearn for, and has for a decade been deemed as chic as the Hamptons, you wouldn’t until recently have been able to find a decent dry martini or competent facialist here. And, while Ye Olde Worlde disconnection is all well and good, if you
WAL D E N’s WO R L D
Until recently, you couldn’t find a decent dry martini or competent facialist here. Now, there isn’t a chef in London able to match the lunch at Thyme – and there’s Soho Farmhouse for a debauched night after
can’t offset it with a spot of designer shopping and a spinning class followed by a debauched night at the hip new Soho Farmhouse, it pretty quickly becomes punitive. Thankfully, Thyme country-house hotel has got every facet of the pleasure spectrum covered. Located in the grounds of Southrop’s 15th-century manor, it was previously used by owner Caryn Hibbert for opulent parties, to which its exquisitely renovated medieval halls lend themselves perfectly. Today, having remodelled the adjoining barns into luxury cottages with their own kitchens, dining rooms, log fires and snugs, Hibbert has opened up the place to couples seeking weekends away and perhaps a class at the hotel’s stateof-the-art cookery school. My husband had planned to learn how to make baba ganoush under the tutelage of the hotel’s culinary director, Daryll Taylor, until I kidnapped him for an afternoon’s Cotswolds carousing. There’s too much to do in this movie-set-perfect land to waste time on aubergine-based dips. For one thing, I was yearning to revisit The Swan Inn, a few miles away in Swinbrook, where we held our wedding breakfast five years ago. Since then landlords Archie and Nicola Orr-Ewing have hosted David Cameron and François Hollande, who held an Anglo-French summit over potted shrimps, rainbow trout and apple crumble beside the Windrush river. The garden remains as wild as ever and we spend a nostalgic three hours sinking Nyetimber rosé alongside the chickens.
I can’t think of anywhere else where I would put up zero resistance to drinking British fizz. But “home grown” is a big deal in the Cotswolds, and Londoners no longer have to settle for a basic Ploughman’s lunch at the myriad of gastropubs peppering the area. Lady Bamford’s Wild Rabbit is still one of the most popular eateries around, Cowley Manor has recently opened its excellent new restaurant and Sebastian Snow is pulling in the celebrity crowd at his new pub, The Plough Inn Kelmscott, but Thyme’s light lunches and cream teas remain unsurpassed. There isn’t a chef in London able to match the delicacy of Taylor’s courgette, pea and tarragon tart, and after tasting his home-made raspberry jam, I fear supermarket preserve is forever ruined for me. Just as every road leads to the beach in the Hamptons, every 15th-century lane in the Cotswolds leads to food, drink – and yet more food and drink. Still sated from our cream tea, we head to Lechlade’s Old Swan Inn for vast scotch eggs and crab risottos before staggering back to our preposterously comfortable beamed suite. Had the amorous cries of doves not roused me the following morning, I would have slept until Christmas. But Piers is already up and making coffee – pensive at the thought of our departure. “It makes you realise everything you’re missing out on, living in London,” he murmurs. “You’re not on about growing your own corn again, are you?” I sigh. “No,” he rejoins, a mournful lilt to his voice. “But one day I really would like to learn how to make baba ganoush.” ultratravel 35
ILLUSTRATION JASON FORD; PORTRAIT ANDRew cROwLey
A weekend in the Cotswolds can do strange things to a city-dweller’s brain – like make my husband believe he could keep bees
BIG COUNTRY Buffalo herd in the Selinda-Linyanti region of northern Botswana. Insets, left to right; the Cessna 206; a young Maasai woman; an elephant grazes Main photograph COLIN BELL
Under AFRICAN SKIES
A tour of Africa in a Cessna light aircraft, staying in remote bush camps and private beach villas, reveals the continentâ€™s landscapes and wildlife in ways that overawe even the most experienced Africa hand. Lisa Grainger soars over waterfalls, deserts, elephants and reefs on the safari of a lifetime
ULT RA A dvenT URe
PIERRE NUSSBAUMER; SAI; INFOMEN; AIR PANOS
he airstrip at the Zimbabwean capital’s second airport is surprisingly busy for a country whose economy is in meltdown. The great African tree expert, 80-year-old Meg Coates Palgrave, is being helped out of a fourseater aircraft returning from the Zambezi valley. A weekly delivery of thousands of chicks is being offloaded for Charles Davy (father of Chelsy, Prince Harry’s old flame). Six private planes are parked outside the fuelling station. And coming down the runway is a smart white Cessna Caravan, followed by a six-seater Cessna 206, painted in distinctive giraffe print, out of which leaps a cheery Italian guide and a glamorous blonde wearing layers of African beads. Luca and Antonella Belpietro can normally be found in their Kenyan camp, Campi Ya Kanzi, in the Chyulu Hills. But last year, at the request of repeat guests who enjoyed their company and their African expertise, they organised a fiveweek flying safari around East Africa. This year’s trip, their second, is covering southern Africa too, and they’re in Harare to pick me up for the last two weeks. Since the trip began, their seven other guests – Swiss, American and German – have seen chimpanzees in Tanzania, elephant in the Okavango Delta, dunes in Namibia, the Victoria Falls in Zambia, Mana Pools in Zimbabwe and an island in Lake Malawi. Together, we’re about to journey to five countries in 12 days. The flying, I soon discover, is as big an attraction for each of the travellers as the journey. The British and American pilots of our two Cessnas fell so in love with flying in Kenya that they moved out there permanently, and each of the fiftysomething Californians, who were guests on the first trip, has bought a plane to learn to fly at home. “The joy of this trip,” Luca explains, as he co-pilots us on my first leg, 50ft above the Shire River in Malawi, whizzing past fishermen in their dugout canoes, herds of elephant waving their trunks indignantly and waterbuck scattering over the plains, “is that there is no real flight path. If we want to go low and see something, we can. Big jets are on a motorway in the sky: told where to go, how high, how fast. We are free to go where we want, how we want. And now that air traffic in Africa has got more organised we can explore the world in a way that hasn’t been possible before. This is the new 21st-century exploration, but without any of the hitches.” On a £32,000 (per person) trip like this,
there are no hitches at all, in fact. Every detail has been taken care of. There are porters to carry luggage; headsets so passengers can listen to the pilots; menus arranged in advance; Luca to educate us (on subjects from tribes to birds) and the gregarious Antonella to provide entertainment. “It’s the best of Africa,” as one guest puts it, “in one hit.”
HARARE, Zimbabwe to MVUU CAMP Liwonde National Park, Malawi Flying time 3 hours Distance 318 nautical miles
My first insight into just how much fun flying can be comes about five minutes after the two planes take off. I grew up in Zimbabwe, and spent much of my youth climbing the giant granite boulders of Domboshawa, just outside the capital. Until today, I’ve never seen the ancient hills from above, their sides carved by rain and wind and their smooth surfaces striated with red and white minerals. “This is incredible!” says Luca to guests over the headsets. “I’ve been flying eight years in Africa and never seen hills like this.” “Nor have I, and I’ve climbed just about every inch of them on foot!” I chip in. From that moment, I’m glued to the window in my comfortable padded, leather-upholstered seat, as other guests edit photos on their laptops or listen to music on their Bose headsets. After three weeks in the air, they’re used to the drill: two days in a destination and then three to five hours in the air, crossing hills, rivers, deserts, national parks and endless bush. As a newcomer, I can’t get enough of the views as we fly between 50ft and 12,000ft above the ground: the aluminium roofs of villages glinting in the sun; great millipedes of water cutting through the forested bush, their “legs” of green splaying out into valleys; plumes of smoke drifting into the cloudless blue sky from bush fires; miles of nothing but grass and trees, and then, beyond the dry hills of the Zomba Plateau, the great Shire River in Malawi: our first destination. Here, both planes swoop down and game viewing begins in earnest as we whizz over big pods of hippo, elephant, waterbuck, then circle the airstrip a couple of times before landing beside three waiting Land Rovers. Malawi is one of the 10 poorest countries in the world and in Liwonde National Park there is just one camp: Mvuu, where we’re staying. The park is
tiny (204sq miles), with a limited population of wildlife. The attraction here is black rhino (of which it has nine, in a fenced sanctuary) and birds: 380 species, of which I see 12 from my tent’s deck within a few hours of arriving. Having previously stayed in such glamorous camps as Jao in Botswana, my fellow travellers aren’t overly impressed with the eight simple but comfortable tents around a lagoon. But after one and a half days, they’ve succumbed to the charms of this tiny park: the forests and palm-fringed river banks that look like a set from the Bogart film African Queen; the sights of an elephant swimming across
natural selection Clockwise from top left: Flying over Victoria Falls; a map showing the route of the five-week air safari; refuelling in a remote airfield; Tartaruga villa (left) on Vamizi Island, from which fishermen still go out to sea in traditional dhows
the wide Shire River at sunset; malachite and pied kingfishers diving for dinner; an enormous kudu bull grazing; 14ft crocodiles sunbathing; and, at night, hippo grazing 20 yards from our firepit. Although the rhino sanctuary is home to nine black rhino, we see none on a game drive. Rhino horn, our guide tells us, is now more valuable than gold or diamonds: £15,000 per pound. “People around here make a few hundred dollars a year if they are lucky,” we’re told. “So you can see why, unless we share the value of tourism with them, it’s easy for them to regard the animal as more valuable dead than alive. And why rhinos stay hidden.”
VAMIZI ISLAND Mozambique Flying time 4.5 hours Distance 532 miles
The sun has just risen as we take off and soar over the silvery, rippling waters of the Shire River, in which fishermen are already casting their nets from dugout canoes and in which elephants swim, white egrets perched on their backs. Today’s journey is long, traversing hills strewn with giant granite boulders, brown lakes rippling in the breeze and hundreds of miles of green forest in Malawi, then
wide, flat valleys and Tolkienesque mountains in Mozambique. When they see the glorious sea, the passengers aren’t complaining about the distance, though. Mozambique’s coastline stretches for more than 1,500 miles and in the north it’s spectacular: a wilderness of long, empty beaches, green woodland, an occasional thatched fishing village and, off the coast, islands. As we leave the browns of the earth behind, dazzling blues take their place: pale aquamarine near the beach, lurid turquoise over shelves of shallow reef, then a deep, inky cerulean over the Indian Ocean. “It’s a pity it’s not whale season, as we often see them from
up here,” one pilot comments. Instead, we pass about a dozen islands, some inhabited by fishing communities, most still bare. Occasionally, a creamy sandbar rises above the surface, and a couple of wooden dhows float by, white sails billowing in the wind. Then we spot an island with a landing strip cut into the mangroves, and we’re there: Vamizi. The seven-by-two-mile island is divided into two parts: a third for the 1,600 local fishermen and their families, and two-thirds for seven Swedish and British investors who created a marine conservation area, and built (rentable) holiday homes to fund local marine and ultratravel 39
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community conservation projects. Our group has taken three five-bedroomed villas that must rate as among the most beautiful remote beach properties on earth. Mine, Tartaruga (or “turtle”) is the epitome of barefoot chic, with an opensided thatched living area decorated with Zanzibari chests, driftwood lamps, roughcotton, ocean-coloured soft furnishings and contemporary African art. It has five suites in the gardens, and a smiling butler, Fazira Salimo, in charge. Days are spent strolling on powdery beaches, idly sifting through piles of shells and watching hermit crabs do little sideways dances, lounging under palm trees, sipping watermelon cocktails, snorkelling in the clear, turquoise shallows, sailing on Hobie Cats and, most memorable of all, spending an afternoon with the island’s resident Mozambiquean marine conservationist. Joana Trindade, a turtle specialist, says that this area of the northern Quirimbas archipelago is, after the Coral Triangle in the western Pacific Ocean, the second richest marine ecosystem on our planet. Diving at Neptune’s Arm, a dive regularly ranked as being among the world’s top 10, we see why she’s spent years here, tagging turtles and sharks. Beside and above a 660ft-high walled garden of coral, swirl shoals of thousands of fish, from rare grey reef sharks, which come here to give birth, to clouds of rainbow-coloured tropical species: dotted, striped, frilled and camouflaged. It is, without doubt, the richest reef I’ve ever seen. The food at Vamizi is almost as diverse and colourful: barbecued lobsters and varied salads laid out in the shade of a remote thatched beach banda at lunch; moonlit seafood feasts on the beach at night, surrounded by flaming torches; exotic fruit platters and delicious homemade muesli at breakfast. It’s a subdued group that packs at dawn. “How am I ever going to go back to my Manhattan apartment after that?” sighs the New Yorker. “Man, that was paradise.”
RUAHA NATIONAL PARK Tanzania Travelling time 5 hours Distance 627 miles
The flight over northern Mozambique into Ruaha National Park almost makes up for the loss we feel leaving Vamizi. I’m flying with Luca in his four-seater Cessna 206 on the agreement I know he’s going to go as low as he can. For half an hour, we skim the earth’s surface: wheels just above the sand on long beaches, rising to avoid trees and dhow masts, twisting and turning like a soaring bird, past giant silvery baobabs, waving children, groups of fishermen pulling their nets out in the turquoise shallows. Having cleared customs and refuelled in Tanzania, we’re once again off: over forests, rice paddies and then miles of the wild Ruaha National Park. We soar above the Great Ruaha River to the soundtrack of The English Patient, over elephant browsing the trees, pods of hippo clumped in pools, and then, beside an
orange dirt airstrip, two safari vehicles. Mwagusi Safari Camp, our home for two nights, is the bush home of Chris Fox, and is a charmingly old-school, no-frills safari camp with, as one guest put it “everything you could ever need, and nothing you don’t”. Spacious thatched rooms with polished concrete verandas are built high on the river bank, beside enormous trees and boulders on which hyrax sunbathe. Hot showers are strong and solar-heated, and tea is delivered to your bed at dawn – a gentle wake-up call. Delicious bush dinners, cooked by a Tanzanian who’s worked here for 20 years, are served beside a campfire on the riverbed (along which, one night, a huge bull elephant walks a few feet away). And the guides – all from a local village and trained in Fox’s guide school at the camp – are knowledgeable and friendly. Old Africa hands have often told me that the Ruaha is not only the second largest national park on the continent but
disastrous that in 20 years he predicted they’d have none left. Watching these majestic creatures, as we sip G&Ts and enjoy the sunset, that demise seems horrifying – but not inconceivable. “When I was a boy, we had a lot of rhino here,” says our guide, Geofrey Karinga, sadly. “The last one was seen in 1984. So we have already seen one of our great species disappear. I hope the elephant isn’t the next one.”
MNEMBA ISLAND Tanzania Flying time 2 hours 15 minutes Distance 271 miles to Zanzibar
Having traversed the greys, oranges and browns of semi-desert north-east of Ruaha; a muddy, shallow lake and the great luminous green-carpeted folds of the 6,000ft Udzungwa Mountains National Park, we drop lower and head for the
beacon of knowledge A guide looks across 400 square miles of Maasai land around Campi Ya Kanzi
also one of the most beautiful. They’re right. With just seven camps in 140,000sq miles of bush, it’s gloriously quiet, with none of the crowds of the Serengeti or Ngorongoro. Great forests of baobabs, thousands of years old, line the horizon. In winter, big buffalo herds come down from the hills to join zebra and giraffe on the plains. There are so many elephant that at one point we’re surrounded by dozens of them, picking off tree bark with their tusks, then stripping it with the finger-like tips of their trunks. Although, while there, a census was published showing that the 20,000 elephants counted here in 2014 had been decimated by poaching to just 8,000 – a figure that one guide said was so
We soar above the Great Ruaha River to the soundtrack of ‘The English Patient’, over elephant browsing the trees and pods of hippo
coast. In the distance, over pale sandbars, and luminous turquoise shallow reefs, we can see Zanzibar: the once great Omani kingdom, where the Sultan’s Palace still stands, and plantations still produce sugar, mahogany and spices for export. Just off that is Mnemba: considered to be the most luxurious African island resort. On the beach, a line of 16 waving staff clad in crisp white cotton is the first sign of the high level of service on this small coral atoll. With 50 staff for just 24 guests, staying here is hardly a Robinson Crusoe experience. Rooms – pretty, open-sided, thatched wooden bandas floored in rattan and cooled with whirring fans – are immaculate, each furnished with fourposter beds, cool linen sofas and big bathrooms. A morning alarm is the dawn cooing of hundreds of doves who have made the island their home, or the rustle of one of the 10 rare Aders’ duiker that shade in nearby brush. And meals can be pretty much what you want, from lobsters, king prawns and crabs to salads, fresh bread, steaks – and even chocolate soufflé. We relish being beside the Indian Ocean, snorkelling, kayaking, paddle boarding and, late one afternoon, diving and somersaulting with dolphins. Leaving the next day, sailing across to
Zanzibar by speedboat, as dozens of dhows returned from their night’s fishing, is, one guest says, “the hardest part of the trip. This place for me is the most incredible beach place I’ve ever stayed.”
CAMPI YA KANZI Kenya Flying time 2 hours 10 minutes Distance 261 miles
The last leg of a trip is often tinged with emotion. But on this leg of the air safari it is heightened – not just because Luca and Antonella are taking us to their home, but because we are flying over such immense and powerful landscapes. Their safari camp, Campi Ya Kanzi (or “Camp of the Hidden Treasure”) is on the side of a hill overlooking 400sq miles (280,000sq acres) of Maasai-owned land between Tsavo and Amboseli National Parks. Flying into it, we are treated not just to a great expanse of orange desert in Tsavo (crossed by a new wide-gauge railway linking Mombasa to Kampala) and thick montane forest, but great plateaus of dormant volcanoes, wide flows of brittle black lava stone and, on the horizon, the snow-capped peak of Africa’s second-tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro. When we arrive at Luca and Antonella’s brick-built, thatched home, a line of Maasai, colourfully beaded and clad in bright red robes, are waiting to hug them, along with their two adorable bushcampeducated boys, who run out with shrieks of delight to greet their parents. Over the next two days, we are hosted by the Maasai and the Belpietros: feasting on fine Italian cuisine by candlelight at night, and by day being shown the land by guides from the 7,000 Maasai who own this land. At dawn, a warrior escorts us through thick, dripping Chyulu Hills cloud forest, where we hear the whoop of rare turaco and silver-cheeked hornbills, and spot purple orchids. We ride horses among zebra and giraffe, delighted that there is not another camp for 400sq miles. We visit schools, clinics and homes, which the camp and its affiliated trust have helped the Maasai to build. We climb boulderstrewn hills, with views over what feels like the entire Earth, and sit beside the campfire with wine, overawed by the scenery. And at night, I lie, listening to the whoop of hyena outside the canvas walls, the roar of lions in the distance, and hear reverberating in my head the words of Ernest Hemingway, who retreated into these hills to hunt. “All I wanted to do was get back to Africa,” he wrote. “We had not left it, yet, but when I would wake in the night I would lie, listening, homesick for it already.” On this trip, having seen so much of this great continent from the vantagepoint of an eagle – traversing 2,003 miles and five countries in 12 days – I felt his pain like never before. Natural World Safaris (01273 691642; naturalworldsafaris.com) can arrange an air safari with Luca Belpietro in 2016, from about £13,500 per person for a two-week trip, or £32,000 for a five-week trip. ultratravel 41
ULTRA ci Ty
a return to THE BIG EASY
The devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina a decade ago is history. New Orleans has not only healed, but is flourishing, with hip fashion quarters, rooftop bars and a buzzy music scene. Douglas Rogers goes in search of the high notes
CHANDELIERS, MOSAICS AND ALL THAT JAZZ A musical brunch at Arnaudâ€™s restaurant in the French Quarter (above) and Dapper Lou keeps it fun and stylish at New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (left) Photograph KRIS DAVIDSON
It’s my fIrst nIght
in New Orleans and I’ve stumbled into an argument. I’m sipping a Sazerac at The Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone (Truman Capote is said to have had his first-ever drink here) and the Englishwoman next to me is telling her boyfriend she’s lost all respect for him. “Let’s get this straight – you left this city for Los Angeles? What? Are you insane?” “You’ve only been here three hours, what do you know?” he protests. “Three hours is enough – I’m moving here! It’s like nowhere else on Earth: the architecture, the gardens, the courtyards – the cocktails!” and she raises her glass and orders another. I glance over and realise, to my astonishment, that I recognise the boyfriend from a television show. He’s Steve Zissis, actor and co-creator of the hit HBO comedy Togetherness. I introduce myself. The Englishwoman is Kelly Marcel, a screenwriter living in LA, on her first visit to Zissis’s home town. “Written anything I know?” I ask. “Fifty Shades of Grey,” she mutters. “But I’ve never seen it. Oh, and Saving Mr Banks. Hey, join us, let’s get a table; you need to move here too! Steve, tell him he has to move here too!” And with that we’re away, on a spontaneous bar crawl through the French Quarter – Zissis and his sister Maria as guides – that ends with me stumbling back to my hotel at 5am, the sun coming up over the Mississippi. New Orleans gets its hook into you and doesn’t let go. I first visited in December 2005, just over three months after Hurricane Katrina, and, despite the devastation, I fell in love within three hours too. I recall checking into one of the few hotels open at the time, Soniat House, a gorgeous Creole inn with wrought-iron balconies and a palm-shaded courtyard, and going for a walk. The French Quarter resembled a ghost town, with a vague air of menace. There were soldiers on the streets, talk of a 2am curfew.
Neon-lit Bourbon Street was more frontier town than fun. But then, as the sun dipped, a strange thing happened. I turned down Toulouse and saw a horse tethered to a vintage iron hitching post. A policeman was smoking a cigarette with two girls under a gas lamp. On Chartres Street a brass band – six men in white suits and top hats – was playing ragtime tunes. I felt as if I had stumbled into another century; if Napoleon had appeared and asked me for a light I would not have been surprised. Addicted, obsessed, I’ve returned to New Orleans many times since, and would move here tomorrow if I thought my liver could last. Of course, back in 2005 the world thought this city lost forever. Crime-ridden, corrupt, with a collapsing infrastructure before the storm (people forget it wasn’t the hurricane but the broken levees that destroyed the city), no one gave New Orleans any chance after it. Yet something of a miracle has happened since. Although poor areas of the Crescent City are still deprived, tourism is booming. More visitors come now than ever before, there are some 1,400 restaurants (from 900 before the storm), swanky new hotels open all the time, and neighbourhoods that were once no-go zones are now flush with galleries, theatres, stylish bars and loft apartments. I was here to sample this glamorous New Orleans – its fanciest hotels, restaurants and areas – but also to ask a question: can this sleek new cosmopolitanism co-exist with the history, tradition and gritty authenticity that made New Orleans unique in the first place? “Welcome to the Old No 77 & Chandlery,” says a uniformed bellhop. I had made sure to check into the city’s coolest new hotel, a converted 1854-built coffee and tobacco warehouse in the Central Business District (CBD), three blocks from the French Quarter. Most New Orleans hotels fall into one of two categories: the gilded-age grande dame (The Roosevelt, Windsor Court) or the mass-market chain (Hilton, Sheraton). The Old No 77 is different: all exposed brick, hardwood floors, rustic wood tables and a handsome open-plan ground-floor restaurant, Compère Lapin, helmed by St Lucia-born chef Nina Compton, famous from the hit television show Top
Chef. An espresso bar – the new staple of any hip urban hotel – flanks the check-in desk. My second-floor room was loft-sized, with a lowslung king-sized bed splashed with a red throw. Some kinks needed ironing out – the light and ceiling fan went on in the middle of the night – but when you return at 5am that matters not. Being hungover, I dedicated my second day to food. New Orleans has a rich culinary culture, but if someone had told me a year ago that the hottest new restaurant in America would be that of an Israeli immigrant making his grandmother’s baba ganoush for New Orleans sophisticates, I would have said you were mad. I meet the chef in question, Alon Shaya, a beanpole of a man in computer-geek glasses, at Shaya, on Magazine Street, Uptown. If the Quarter is known for its venerable French-Creole institutions – Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Galatoire’s – Magazine Street is its modish cousin, and Shaya fits the bill: cool blue and white tones, plush seating, marble tables and wall-to-wall beautiful people. It opened in February; three months later Alon Shaya won the 2015 James Beard Award for the Best Chef in the South. A wood-fired oven churned out fluffy pitta breads the shape of rugby balls, and waiters ferried me delectable small plates: avocado toast with smoked whitefish; a roasted-pepper and aubergine purée called Lutenitsa; Louisiana shrimp shakshouka. This is not traditional New Orleans cuisine, of course, but its basis – fresh Delta farmland ingredients, abundant Gulf seafood, and immigrant roots – is perfect New Orleans. This is a port city, after all, with a melting pot of migrant cultures. “We have a unique food community,” says Shaya. “The point is to embrace what’s been and move it forward.” Magazine Street, linking the CBD with the Garden District and Uptown, is the Rodeo Drive of the South, and I visited its chicest boutiques. Southern belles snapped up flamboyant home décor in Mad Men actor Bryan Batt’s store Hazelnut; debutantes cooed over the silver fleur-de-lis necklaces of jeweller Mignon Faget; I bought a cute posy-embroidered sundress for my daughter at Pippen Lane, a chic children’s store owned by the wife of actor John Goodman.
hot in the city Clockwise from top left: Bourbon Street, in the heart of the French Quarter; the chef Alon Shaya with his fresh, fluffy pitta bread; Crescent Park featuring David Adjaye’s rusted-steel Piety Street Bridge; Brad Pitt at his home in New Orleans
‘In New York you lose a little bit of yourself every day. In New Orleans I feel more alive and joyous’
he Garden District and Uptown (historically the American Quarter) has long been for the moneyed upper classes, though. I spent my third day in a revived neighbourhood, the Bywater, east of the French Quarter, adjacent to the Lower Ninth Ward – the epicentre of Katrina’s devastation 10 years ago. Back then, when I drove down the Lower Ninth, it was an apocalypse: houses on top of houses; Cadillacs in treetops. The Bywater was a ghost town and I gave it little hope. Yet, on visits since, I’ve observed its transformation. With so many cheap shot-gun shacks available, young creatives moved in to open cool artisanal shops and studios: corner wine store Bacchanal; glass-blowing operation Studio Inferno; an open-air theatre, The Old Ironworks which, fittingly for the 10th anniversary of a storm, was staging The Tempest. All very well, you say, but hardly luxe or glamorous. But then there’s Rice Mill Lofts, once the largest rice mill in America, empty for decades, now an industrial-chic apartment complex with an acclaimed Italian-American restaurant, Mariza, at the front. I was given a tour by its owner, Sean Cummings, a boutique hotelier (he owns International House in New Orleans) and urban design guru. A soft-spoken entrepreneur with dashing good looks, Cummings bought the building 20 years ago but could do nothing with it. Who wanted to be in the Bywater back then? Then came Katrina. “Everyone thought this city was finished with the storm,” Cummings recalled, “but I thought: ‘This is a new beginning.’” Rice Mill Lofts opened in 2011 and affluent tenants drawn to cool urban living (the rooftop views of the city and the crescent in the Mississippi are spectacular) moved in. Among them was a pugnacious New York financier, Ron Bienvenu, who relocated his hedge fund to New Orleans after meeting Cummings. “I never looked back,” he grinned. “In New York you lose a little bit of yourself every day. New Orleans is the opposite – I feel more alive and joyous.” I spoke to him by the complex’s swimming pool; giant white letters that read “You Are Beautiful” were stencilled on the brick wall above us. “Banksy tagged the building after Katrina,” said Ron, grinning. “Sean made sure to keep it. We are beautiful.” With the influx of affluent outsiders, among them celebrities (Brad and Angelina have a house in the French Quarter; Sandra Bullock and soon Jay-Z and Beyoncé in Garden District), it’s not surprising a VIP tour company has sprung up to cater to wealthy tourists. I met up with Jennifer Simpson, co-founder of Bespoke Experiences, who moved to New Orleans in 2012 from Canada. “Luxury is well hidden here and I noticed a demand to access it,” ultratravel 45
shades of cool Clockwise from above: tram travel; the Old No 77 & Chandlery hotel; Warby Parker Frame Studio on Magazine Street, which sells glasses
she said. Simpson can arrange everything from a ride on a Mardi Gras float to a picnic under the live oaks in Audubon Park. She got me private access to something even better: the rooftop of the Cabildo, the glorious 1790s Spanish colonial building on Jackson Square, site of the Louisiana Purchase transfer ceremony in 1803. The Cabildo houses rare artefacts, including Napoleon’s death mask, but the highlight was access to the rooftop spire where I looked down on Jackson Square and steamboats on the Mississippi beyond. I felt I was stepping back to the time of Twain. So what of my original question: what will happen to the classic New Orleans, its traditions and exotic atmosphere? The answer, I can report, is that it is thriving as never before. I got a glimpse of this at the historic Sazerac Bar in The Roosevelt hotel, where a dashing waiter in a white tuxedo and bow tie poured me a Ramos Gin Fizz as smooth as those that Governor Huey P Long had when he drank here. I sensed it in the birdsong and foliage of the courtyard below my room at the Audubon Cottages, the historic French Quarter inn that I checked into on my last night. Most of all, though, I saw it at Galatoire’s classic 1905 Creole restaurant on Bourbon Street where I had the famous Friday lunch. Galatoire’s is nigh impossible to get into on Fridays: it takes no reservations, so regulars send their clerks or servants to stand in line from 6am to secure a table. Through a friend of a friend, I was able to dine with Melvin Rodrigue, president and coowner of the restaurant, and thus the most important man in the room. And what a room. I entered a glorious museum piece of sea-green walls, white tablecloths, antique ceiling fans and glittering lamp-lit mirrors. By 11.30am it was packed: Houston oil men in cowboy hats, Mississippi lawyers in white linen jackets, local politicos, chefs, celebrities ordering shrimp remoulade and soufflé potatoes. Melvin pointed out actress Sela Ward in Jackie O sunglasses; I noticed Alon Shaya at a table of 10. That the city’s hottest chef dines in its most revered restaurant says it all. At about 4pm (it’s usual for Friday lunch to last until dinner) something astonishing happened. A brass band appeared at the entrance – some drunken diner had lured it in from busking outside – and began belting out such a rousing rendition of Satchmo’s When the Saints Go Marching In that the entire room of 160 people leapt to their feet, waved white napkins in the air, and sang along. Melvin looked at me with a wry grin. “Welcome to New Orleans,” he said. “Where else in the world does this happen?” I thought of my new friends Kelly and Steve. What the hell; I might move here too.
building is a study in contemporary chic.
Molecular creations include foie-gras
from 6am for the Friday table and dress
dO a guIded VIp tOur
Old NO 77 & ChaNdlery
Start with a Remington cocktail (mezcal,
cotton candy and Cohiba-cigar-smoked
smart (seersucker and bow ties for boys).
For curated tours of behind-the-scenes
The loft-like rooms – exposed brick,
Benedictine) in the Loa Bar before
scallops. Allow three hours for dining.
209 Bourbon Street (001 504 525 2021;
New Orleans and private access to
hardwood floors, ceiling fans – come with
taking a lift to your upper-floor room.
1800 Magazine Street (001 504 309 7800;
everything from French Quarter galleries
mod cons such as espresso makers, but
My penthouse had lush rugs, crystal
the charm is in the open-plan ground
chandeliers, a seating area with grand
floor with coffee bar, cocktail lounge and
piano and dramatic Mississippi views.
VIsIt hOumas hOuse plaNtatION
Jennifer Simpson at Bespoke Experiences.
restaurant, Compère Lapin (comperelapin.
221 Camp Street (001 504 553 9550; ihhotel.
What to say? One of the great dining
Up until the Civil War the land along the
(001 504 534 8874; bespokeprivate
com), where chef Nina Compton serves
com; doubles from $159)
experiences on earth, particularly Friday
Mississippi between Baton Rouge and
lunch (pictured below). Founded in 1905,
New Orleans had 250 sugar plantation
up tropical Caribbean flavours: spiced pig’s
THREE THINGS TO DO
to Louisiana State Museum collections or local jazz station WWOZ, contact
ears and red-snapper crudo.
this restaurant’s waiters, in tuxedos, present
mansions. Most are long gone, but the
BEST OF THE BARS
535 Tchoupitoulas Street (001 504 527 5271;
Creole classics such as crabmeat Yvonne,
oak-fronted Greek Revival Houmas House,
Sample the turtle soup and a brandy
old77hotel.com; doubles from $107/£70)
Alon Shaya’s award-winning contemporary
oysters Rockefeller and shrimp étouffée, to
bought and restored by entrepreneur Kevin
milk punch (the latter on a menu of “eye
Israeli restaurant lives up to the hype.
a Who’s Who of Southern society. Queue
Kelly, stands strong. Order a mint julep
openers”) for breakfast at the beloved
Try the sabich: fried aubergine, preserved
from The Turtle Bar in the gardens and
Along with Soniat House (soniathouse.
mango and soft-cooked egg. This is
take a guided tour of antique-filled rooms.
on Royal Street. “Breakfast at Brennan’s”
com), this 18th-century, seven-room Creole
not his first rodeo. Along with his mentor,
40136 Highway 942, Darrow, Louisiana
is not a catchphrase for nothing.
inn is the most intimate boutique hotel
John Besh, he also runs the beloved
(001 225 473 9380; houmashouse.com)
Savour a Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House
in the Quarter. I stayed in Cottage Four,
Italian restaurant Domenica (domenica
a two-room duplex filled with antiques
restaurant.com) in The Roosevelt,
Walk CresCeNt park
decrepit Creole building on Chartres
and oil paintings. My balcony overlooked a
and the acclaimed Pizza Domenica
New Orleans’s first green space along the
Street. Taste the French 75 champagne
lush courtyard with a salt-water swimming
(pizzadomenica.com) on Magazine Street.
Mississippi opened in 2014, the brainchild
cocktail, made to perfection by
pool. Only a block from Bourbon Street,
4213 Magazine Street (001 504 891 4213;
of hotel-developer Sean Cummings. The
Chris Hannah at the French 75 Bar
this is a sanctuary from the chaos.
1.4 mile-long park with landscaped gardens
of the historic Arnaud’s restaurant
connects the French Quarter with the
(arnaudsrestaurant.com). And sup on a
Bywater, the highlight being the rusted-
Sazerac at the legendary walnut-lined
Sixteen diners a night get to sample
steel Piety Street Bridge, aka the “Rusty
Sazerac Bar in the gilded Roosevelt hotel
the spectacular 14-course tasting menu
Rainbow”, by superstar British architect
Sean Cummings’s 117-room LM Pagano-
of chef Phillip L Lopez at this jewellery-
David Adjaye. Stand on the Piety Pier and
For further details on New Orleans visit.
designed property in a towering downtown
box-sized space on Magazine Street.
watch the steamboats churn the river.
neworleanscvb.com or discoveramerica.com
509 Dauphine Street (001 504 586 1516; auduboncottages.com; doubles from $269)
(napoleonhouse.com), an elegantly
WHEREDIDUGETTHAT.COM; THE TIMES-PICAYUNE/LANDOv/BARCROFT MEDIA; CHRIS GRAINGER; CHRISTOPHER TESTANI; ROBERT HARDING; GETTY; ALAMY
THE ULTRA GUIDE TO NEW ORLEANS
A ROME OF ONEâ€™S OWN
The Italian capital is a city of secrets that take years to unlock. Stanley Stewart shares three decades of experience, hanging out in private palaces and exclusive spaces
rome alone Jep, the main character in the film la Grande Bellezza, takes in the Eternal City from the ideal spot: a private terrace with views
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W W W. C A P TA I N S C H O I C E . C O . U K
here is a piazza in Rome with no traffic, few people, and a single mysterious door. The Piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta sits on the crown of the Aventine, the quietest and most beautiful of Rome’s seven hills. The square was designed by Piranesi, a man who loved a surprise. That single door is green and sits to one side of the square. It leads into the Priory of the Knights of Malta. There is an elaborate keyhole, surrounded by an escutcheon, which has been rubbed bare by many hands. If you peer through, you will find Piranesi’s surprise – the dome of St Peter’s, almost two miles away, perfectly framed by the keyhole. The square, the door, the keyhole, even the garden within have been orientated to offer this private glimpse of one of Rome’s most famous monuments. Given that Rome’s public face is so spectacular and well known, it is easy to forget that many of its best moments, many of its loveliest treasures, are behind closed doors. Beyond the great sights of the Colosseum, the Forum and the Vatican is another more private Rome, a city of surprises and unpredictable secrets. Beyond the grand hotels with their bustling lobbies is a more elegant and sophisticated Rome of private villas and luxury apartments from whose rooms you can embark on the adventure of making Rome your own (see page 52 for the top five). Rome is the kind of city in which tourist maps soon fade, and a different, more personal kind of navigation takes over: one’s own adventure within the city. This may begin with the discovery of an old-fashioned workshop in a backstreet. It might include a romantic pause on a bridge beneath the silhouette of Castel Sant’Angelo. It should definitely take in that restaurant with the wonderful straccetti con rucola. Piazza del Popolo is central to my own private map of Rome. When I first came to the city 30 years ago, I stayed in a pensione just off this square. There was a high-ceilinged
room, tall shuttered windows, a door with a pediment that I am sure included cupids, a beautiful receptionist, and the sound of a saxophone drifting up from Via Angelo Brunetti in the evenings. At night, when the saxophonist had gone home and the traffic ceased, I could hear the splash of the fountains in the piazza beneath the obelisk that Augustus had brought home from Egypt 2,000 years ago. Every morning I sallied forth on a battered scooter someone had lent me. I careened between ancient ruins and baroque sculpture and delicious meals, between Roman triumphal arches, the soft thighs of Bernini’s Proserpina in the Galleria Borghese and the divine croissants in a bar in the Via Ripetta. I discovered – in those days everything was a discovery – Santa Maria in Trastevere, barnacled with age, its gold-hued interior freighted with incense and prayer. I made a pilgrimage to Velásquez’s portrait of Innocent X in Palazzo Doria Pamphilj and another to Sant’Anselmo on the Aventine where Benedictine
private view piranesi’s keyhole in the piazza dei Cavalieri di Malta (above) allows a perfectly framed glimpse of St peter’s Basilica, almost two miles away. Left: a vespa, still the transport of choice in rome
It is always a matter of knowing which doors to push, which bells to ring, which keyholes to peer through monks filled the Roman dusk with Gregorian chant. I climbed the steps of the Capitoline at night to Michelangelo’s exquisite piazza where the equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius stood bathed in moonlight. I came home late to Piazza del Popolo, hoping the beautiful receptionist might still be on duty. I only ever managed to exchange five words with her: “La mia chiave, per favore.” Tragically, “My key, please” was not a gambit to arouse her interest. More than 20 years later, I came to live in Rome, graduating from visitor to resident. My Vespa habits have not changed – though perhaps the current model is less battered than that first one – but my personal geography of Rome has expanded to include its more private spaces. The famous sights will always be fascinating, and still come, at the right moment, with a sense of discovery. But the Rome I ultratravel 51
explore now is a place of local streets and neighbourhoods, of private palaces and lesser-known sights, a Rome whose glories are often found behind closed doors. There is no typical day in Rome – there are too many incidents to distract me. But here is a Roman day, enjoyed recently in the warm sun of September. In the early market of Testaccio, where women feigned indifference to men feigning passion, I bought glossy aubergines and long plum tomatoes and hunks of flinty parmesan for an evening meal. Testaccio remains a fiercely Roman quarter, more local than Trastevere, its touristy neighbour across the river. And nowhere is more Roman than Volpetti, a shrine both to Roman food and to Roman excess. It overflows with prosciutti and salami, ravioli and biscotti, crostini and torte. White-jacketed attendants fetch plaits of mozzarella from milky bowls and slice ricotta like cake. Every Roman day should start and end with food. From the wonders of Volpetti, I climbed the streets of the Aventine to Piranesi’s square, and its miraculous keyhole. In Rome it is always a matter of knowing which doors to push, which bells to ring, which keyholes to peer through – as demonstrated by the character Jep, in last year’s Oscar-winning film La Grande Bellezza. Further along a leafy avenue, I pushed open the colossal doors of Santa Sabina. Virtually empty most days, it is one of my favourite spaces in Rome: few places give such a powerful sense of the city’s antiquity. Built in the fifth century, the basilica’s bare, atmospheric interior feels more like a Roman temple than a Christian church. Columns of light slant down across the great void from the clerestory. I felt myself alone with the ghosts of the early martyrs lurking in the shadows.
ut I didn’t linger. I had an appointment in the centro storico at Rome’s finest Renaissance building. The Palazzo Farnese, now the French Embassy is normally closed to the public, but with the right number to call and a little advance booking, the doors swing open for a private tour. Upstairs is one of the greatest masterpieces in Rome, the Carracci Gallery, easily the peer of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. But while the latter tells a Biblical story, Carracci has opted for indulgence. He has gone back to the pre-Christian gods, scantily dressed mythological figures who cavort across the ceiling and walls in what looks like a delighted orgy. I had lunch in the Chiostro del Bramante, close to Piazza Navona – not private, but it feels secret. You enter the church through a narrow door, climb steep, unmarked stairs and emerge in a first-floor loggia where you find an elegant café. From the tables in the arches you gaze down on the perfect symmetries of Bramante’s cloisters among the tumble and chaos of Roman rooftops. Should you come for afternoon tea, I can recommend the carrot cake. Back on my trusty scooter, I sailed the length of the Lungotevere to the Circus Maximus, the venue for the ancient charioteers, whose driving habits still manifest themselves in modern Roman traffic. Beneath the oval race track where Ben Hur once thundered up and down is an underground shrine, discovered in the Thirties – the Mithraeum of Circus Maximus. I had arranged a private visit. Descending a stairwell in a nondescript modern building brought me to another door. I stepped across its threshold into the third century as suddenly as Alice slipped into Wonderland. Beneath ancient arches, the bare rooms were in a state of almost perfect preservation down to the inlaid marble patterns of the floor. They were once dedicated to the mysterious cult of Mithras. A splendid frieze depicted the ritual that took place here: the sacrifice of a bull. A chill emanated from the walls. Many metres below the Roman streets, I had entered another world. And that is why I came to Rome, to the pensione off the Piazza del Popolo, all those years ago – to enter another world. Bellini Travel (020 7602 7602; bellinitravel.com) specialises in bespoke itineraries in Rome and has access to numerous private palaces and experiences. British Airways flies from London several times a day, from £102 return (ba.com).
six WAYs TO sEE THE CITY BEHIND CLOsED DOORs The SiSTine Chapel and The VaTiCan Most visits to the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel involve a queue, a crowd and a disappointing multilingual crush as
priVaTe Company It is possible to see Michelangelo’s masterpieces (left) in the Sistine Chapel without the crowds, and to take a private tour of Palazzo Colonna (below)
you crane your neck to view the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. But now the Vatican offers semi-private tours, which involve a full tour of the museums during normal hours followed by the opportunity to remain in the Sistine Chapel after closing time. To see Michelangelo’s magnificent work in the hush of the empty chapel is one of life’s great experiences (see
entry system with advance bookings,
Private visits can be arranged: contact the
vatican.va and follow the links to Vatican
which keeps the numbers of visitors to
Casino for conditions and details (0039 06
Museums). Bellini Travel can arrange a fully
manageable levels and ensures time and
8346 7000; casinoaurorapallavicini.it).
private tour of the Vatican with access to
space to contemplate masterpieces by
Fra Angelica’s stunning frescoes in the
Caravaggio, Raphael and Titian, as well
rarely opened Cappella Niccolina, as well
as Bernini’s extraordinary sculptures
Home to the Boncompagni Ludovisi family,
as the Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel.
(galleriaborghese.it). For more determined
this grand palace near the Via Veneto is
Price on request (020 7602 7602;
visitors, Bellini Travel can arrange private
one of the finest examples of the elaborate
after-hours evenings with a gallery tour
domestic style of the Roman aristocracy –
followed by cocktails and a full dinner in
baroque flourishes, gilt decoration, chubby
the loggia, accompanied by a classical
mythological figures. The showcase is a
The story of Rome is the story of families,
quartet or an opera singer, and all under
mural by Caravaggio, who appears in a
and one of the grandest is the Colonnas.
the steady gaze of Canova’s nude statue
nude self-portrait as a Roman god. The
The family still lives in the Palazzo Colonna,
of Pauline Borghese, Napoleon’s sister,
palace is open to the public on Friday or
whose masterpieces include Poussins,
which so shocked 19th-century Rome.
Saturday mornings but private visits can
a Tintoretto, and a famous Carracci,
Price on request, Bellini (as before).
be arranged. With luck, you will be guided
as well as a portrait of Marcantonio
by Princess Rita, a charming American.
Colonna, a victorious admiral at the Battle
CaSino dell’aurora pallaViCini
of Lepanto, in a ruff that would have
Still occupied by elderly aristocrats, the
strangled lesser men, and the beautiful
doors of the Palazzo Pallavicini-Rospigliosi
The BeST of The reST
Vittoria Colonna, poetess, radical thinker
swing open on the first day of every
* Volpetti is at 47 Via Marmorata
and close friend of Michelangelo. The
month for visits to one of the most
(volpetti.com). The door in the Piazza
family opens the galleries and grand
enchanting spaces in Rome – an intimate
dei Cavalieri di Malta can be opened by
reception rooms on Saturdays (from
garden, a grotto and the pavilion known
appointment on Saturday mornings
9am to 1.15pm; €12) but private tours can
as the Casino dell’Aurora, designed by
(0039 06 577 9193).
be arranged at other times.
Vasanzio. Inside is Guido Reni’s 17th-
* Visits to the Palazzo Farnese can be
Private tour with specialist guide from €505.
century ceiling fresco of Aurora scattering
arranged via inventerrome.com; the
The Gallery and Princess Isabelle apartment
flowers in front of the chariot of Apollo.
Carracci Gallery reopens later this year
can also be hired for events and dinners
Reni’s star has rather fallen but in the 19th
after renovations. Chiostro del Bramante
(0039 06 678 4350; galleriacolonna.it).
century visitors knelt before this ceiling,
(0039 06 6880 9035; chiostrodel
which was considered the equal of the
bramante.it) also has apartments to rent.
Sistine Chapel. And when the guide
* Private visits can also be arranged to
With one of the most popular collections
throws open the windows of the Casino,
the Mithraeum of the Circus Maximus
in Rome, the gallery operates a timed-
there is one of the great views of Rome.
by Bellini (details, as before).
Price on request; 0039 06 483 942.
Uncommon destinations Unforgettable moments.
Intimate ships with no more than 300 suites • Spacious all-suite accommodations • Tipping is neither expected nor required Award-winning gourmet dining • Complimentary open bars and fine wines • Complimentary champagne and in-suite bar
seabourn.co.uk | 0843 373 2000
Ships’ registry: Bahamas. © 2015 Seabourn.
The Villa Medici suite, with a double bedroom, costs from €1,280/£910 a night. The Trinità dei Monti suite, which sleeps four, is from €1,760/£1,251. Two suites can be joined to accommodate six (0039 06 6994 2219; lasceltadigoethe.com).
ViLLa Lina Just under an hour from the city, this ancestral estate of olive groves, vineyards, and rambling gardens has five splendid houses to rent. The atmosphere is informal, artistic, quirky and charming – more bohemian farmhouse than smart villa. A small organic restaurant serves food from its gardens, but the best place for dinner is the 19th-century conservatory, with candlelight reflecting in a hundred panes of glass. Casa Vostra, which sleeps 10, is €550/£390 per night. Torre del Falco sleeps 10 and costs €900/£640, while the honeymoon pavilion next door is €300/£214 a night. There are two swimming pools, and a private chef can also be booked (0039 3888 274 775; relaisvillalina.com).
Five OF THe FiNeST PRivATe viLLAS
In the hills of Sabina outside Rome, Palazzo Parisi is a sumptuous aristocratic villa dating back to at least the 11th
private Rome requires a private
La SceLta di Goethe
century. Owned by Arabella Lennox-
residence – room service without
On a visit to Rome in the late 18th
Boyd, the famed landscape gardener, this
reception, a terrace without other
century, Goethe discovered erotic love –
is a fantasy villa: it has a grand salotto in
guests. These properties are large
though his habit of writing verses on his
which frescoed birds fly across the vaults,
enough for a family or a group of friends
lover’s naked back probably floated his
a master bedroom with a gilt-framed
to share. All of them can arrange
boat more than hers. La Scelta di Goethe
canopied four-poster, labyrinthine
privileged experiences in Rome, from
– or Goethe’s Choice – consists of two
kitchens overseen by the gracious Rita, a
helicopter flights over the city to
sumptuous apartments on the Via del
book-lined billiard room and a top-floor
private tours of the ancient Mithraeum
Corso, a few steps from the Spanish
passageway whose crescent window
beneath the Circus Maximus.
Steps. Through a private entrance you
looks into the nave of the church next
step into a world of aristocratic Roman
door. Undoubtedly grand in scale, Villa
taste – bookshelves of leather-bound
Parisi is also informal, welcoming and fun.
“Shoes maketh the man,” my grandfather
volumes, Old Master paintings, deep
A tennis court, an infinity pool and walks
used to say. Or, in the case of Portrait
leather armchairs, a personal butler to
in the Sabine Hills help the days spin by.
Roma, some of the most luxurious
lay out an elaborate breakfast on your
private suites in Rome. Owned by the
private roof terrace. And, for Goethe, the
Ferragamo family, famous for making the
gilt-framed mirror at the end of the bed
best handmade shoes in Italy, this
would have let him review his own work
14-room property has nothing so vulgar
while making love.
Top: Portrait Roma’s rooms offer balcony views (top). The gardens of Palazzo Parisi (above). Contemporary style at Villa Nocetta (below)
Palazzo Parisi sleeps 10 adults and two children under 12 and costs from £5,000 per week (020 7931 9995; palazzoparisi.com).
as a reception. Here, it is all about
In the hills behind St Peter’s, in a
personal service, with an adviser to
neighbourhood of discreet walled villas,
enhance your Roman experience, from
is one of the most civilised places to stay
private tours of the Vatican to personal
in Rome. In the gardens are a sun terrace
shopping. Limed wood and dove greys
and a heated pool beneath umbrella
enhance the Dolce Vita vibe, along with
pines. Indoors are lavish spaces, from a
black-and-white prints of models and
hi-tech kitchen to a living room larger than
actors from an age when stars such as
most London flats. There is a fireplace,
Elizabeth Taylor and Audrey Hepburn
a grand piano, plus long elegant sofas and
used to join the passeggiata on Via
a collection of modern art. Downstairs,
Veneto. Stylish and effortlessly cool,
there are two options beyond the
Portrait Roma’s rooms have balconies
cinema-size television: a sedate game
overlooking the rooftops and one of
of billiards or a workout in the gym.
the best roof terraces in the city for an
Upstairs, spacious suites are beautifully
aperitivo or a lavish breakfast.
appointed with luxury Italian bed linen.
Suites with kitchenettes from €459/£327
Villa Nocetta sleeps 12 in six suites and is
per night (0039 06 6938 0742;
available from €3,900/£2,777 per night
(0039 06 663 7119; villanocetta.com).
MATTEO CARASSALE ; ALAMy; 4CORnERS; GETTy
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THE MOST INCLUSIVE LUXURY EXPERIENCE TM
Chalk July 2016 in your diary because that’s the date the new ship from Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Seven Seas Explorer – heralded the most luxurious cruise ship in the world – sets sail on her inaugural season in the Mediterranean. It will be an exciting moment, the culmination of years of planning by Regent Seven Seas Cruises, a six-star company already well versed in the meaning of luxury. After all, this is the cruise line that brought the world the ﬁrst all-suite, all-balcony ships and delivers truly
all-inclusive prices, from ﬂights and transfers to drinks, gratuities, shore excursions, even Wi-Fi. But the best just got even better. Seven Seas Explorer might be another all-suite, all-balcony ship but in terms of personal space, and quality of materials and craftsmanship, she will be one of a kind, rivaling the best hotels in the world. For those into numbers, at 56,000 tons, she holds just 750 passengers, which gives a space ratio of 74.6, one of the highest in the industry. There are lots of amazing new features on Seven Seas Explorer® including a Culinary Arts Kitchen with 18
individual cooking stations where you can learn to create scrumptious dishes under the guidance of expert chefs. And the Canyon Ranch SpaClub will feature a beautiful inﬁnity-edged plunge pool! Naturally there is plenty of sumptuous accommodation to choose, from the spacious entry-level Veranda Suites to Park Avenue-styled Master Suites, all kitted out with the quality ﬁttings and furnishings you’d expect from the world’s most luxurious ship. Choose a suite at Penthouse level or above and you’ll be looked after by a private butler; opt for a Concierge or higher suite and you’ll enjoy unlimited free wiﬁ so you can keep in touch with family and friends. Step outside your suite and you’ll ﬁnd many of Regent Seven Seas Cruises’ signature dining venues, but all featuring the spectacular new look and feel that really sets this ship apart. There is certainly something to suit every taste, from succulent steaks and Italian favourites to the delicious multi-course menus served in the Compass Rose main dining room, the ever-popular Prime 7 steakhouse reminiscent of a London private members’ club plus, two further new speciality dining options, Chartreuse and Paciﬁc Rim. As beﬁts a luxury ship, the restaurant has an open-seating policy so diners are free to eat when and with whom they wish. The icing on the cake is that all dining, including the specialty restaurants, is included in the price. But then what else would you expect from the winning combination of a cruise on the world’s most luxurious ship with the most-inclusive cruise line in the world.
© Lee Beaumann
EXCEEDING THE LOFTIEST EXPECTATIONS OF LUXURY
inaugural season ARRIVING JULY 2016 MONTE CARLO TO VENICE 20 July 2016 | 14-nights VENICE TO ROME 3 August 2016 | 10-nights ROME TO LISBON 13 August 2016 | 12-nights LISBON TO BARCELONA 25 August 2016 | 10-nights BARCELONA TO ROME 4 September 2016 | 10-nights ROME TO VENICE 14 September 2016 | 10-nights VENICE TO MONTE CARLO 24 September 2016 | 10-nights MONTE CARLO TO ATHENS 4 October 2016 | 8-nights ATHENS TO ISTANBUL 12 October 2016 | 10-nights ISTANBUL TO JERUSALEM 22 October 2016 | 11-nights JERUSALEM TO ROME 2 November 2016 | 14-nights ROME TO MIAMI 16 November 2016 | 16-nights MIAMI ROUNDTRIP 4 December 2016 | 14-nights MIAMI ROUNDTRIP 18 December 2016 | 10-nights MIAMI TO LOS ANGELES 28 December 2016 | 16-nights FARES START FROM £3,889pp
SEVEN SEAS EXPLORER THE MOST LUXURIOUS SHIP EVER BUILT ™
TO FIND OUT MORE visit www.sevenseasexplorer.co.uk or www.rssc.com or call 02380 682154
SMALL SHIPS – BIG EXPERIENCES BOOK EARLY & SAVE £500 PER PERSON
across the top of australia An expedition cruise to Australia’s ‘Top End’ from Broome to Darwin aboard MS Caledonian Sky 26th August to 12th September 2017 The Kimberley region of Western Australia has fewer people per square kilometre than almost any other place on earth and is truly one of the world’s last great wilderness areas with a complex landscape which encompasses spectacular gorges and waterfalls, fascinating cave systems and an incredibly diverse variety of wildlife.
arely visited in any comprehensive way due to its wild and undeveloped nature, the Kimberley is a wonderful place for the genuine traveller to explore and perfect for expedition style cruising. There are so many highlights, it is diffcult to know where to begin when extolling its virtues. From the tidal phenomena at the Montgomery Bay Reef to the Horizontal Waterfalls near Talbot Bay, from the hundreds of islands in the Buccaneer Archipelago to the gorges of the Mitchell, King George and Prince Regent. The whole vast area offers a cornucopia of natural world delights on a scale seldom witnessed anywhere else in the world.
The Itinerary in Brief Day 1 London to Perth, Australia. Fly by scheduled indirect fight via Singapore. Day 2 Perth. Arrive this afternoon and transfer to the Duxton Hotel (or similar) for a two night stay. Day 3 Perth. After breakfast in the hotel, enjoy a guided tour of Perth followed by a free afternoon before we meet tonight for a welcome dinner. Day 4 Perth to Broome. This morning enjoy a cruise along the famous Swan River before returning to Perth airport for our scheduled fight to Broome. On arrival transfer to the MS Caledonian Sky. Day 5 Lacepede Islands. This nature reserve has been identifed by BirdLife International as an Important Bird Area as it supports up to 18,000 breeding pairs of Brown Boobies and Roseate Terns, possibly the largest such population in the world. Board the Zodiacs and explore the island’s lagoon, keeping an eye out for many species of marine birdlife. Days 6 & 7 Buccaneer Archipelago, Talbot Bay and Horizontal Falls. We spend two days cruising the Buccaneer Archipelago, made up of over 800 islands and home to a wealth of wildlife and fascinating rock
formations. We will use our Zodiacs in Yampi Sound to make beach landings and enjoy a swim in the natural pool at crocodile creek, an area that defes its name. We will also visit Talbot Bay, known for its massive 12 metre tides that create an amazing spectacle, the unique Horizontal Falls. Day 8 Montgomery Reef & Raft Point. An unforgettable adventure today as the magnifcent Montgomery Reef ‘rises’ out of the ocean as the tidal waters cascade down in to the surrounding deep channels in an awesome display of the power of nature. Join our Expedition Team aboard your Zodiac to experience this natural phenomenon up close and discover the reef’s diverse marine life. Over lunch we position to Raft Point and use Zodiacs to land on the beach. Either enjoy time to relax whilst the energetic can climb to a secluded Aboriginal rock art gallery. Day 9 Hunter River & Naturalist Island. The Prince Frederick Harbour is home to some of the most spectacular scenery we will see. Soaring red cliffs, green rainforest and mangroves paint a beautiful canvas for our arrival as we sail through Nine Pin Head, the sandstone bluff that marks the mouth
MS Caledonian Sky The MS Caledonian Sky is one of the fnest small ships in the world. She accommodates a maximum of 114 passengers in 57 spacious outside suites. All suites have outside views and many have private balconies, walk-in wardrobes and some feature tub baths. The spacious and fnely decorated public rooms include a large lounge and an elegant bar where a pianist plays periodically throughout the day. The travel library is the perfect place to relax with a book as is the Club Lounge on the Panorama Deck. Outside there is a rear Lido deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade and on the top deck there is a further observation and sun deck with bar service. There is also a small gymnasium and hairdressers onboard. With only one sitting and a maximum of just over 100 passengers, the cuisine will be of a consistent superior quality. The atmosphere onboard is warm and convivial and more akin to a private yacht or country hotel in which you can learn more about the wonders of nature and the culture of places you are visiting in the company of like-minded people and a knowledgeable expedition team.
of the river. We follow the Hunter River to reveal the spectacular backdrop of Mount Trafalgar while to the north Mount Anderson rises to an impressive 480 metres. We will drop anchor at Naturalist Island and have the choice to join a Zodiac excursion around the island or an optional helicopter excursion to Mitchell Falls. Day 10 Vansittart Bay & Jar Island. We have the whole day to explore Vansittart Bay. First thing we will use the Zodiacs to land on Jar Island to see the Gwion Gwion Aboriginal art gallery. Discovered by Joseph Bradshaw in 1891 some of the art has been dated back over 17,000 years and is unique to this region. Return to the vessel for lunch and this afternoon land on the Anjo Peninsula where our naturalists will lead various walks. Day 11 King George River. At dawn we will start our 12 kilometre journey through some of the world’s most spectacular scenery along the mighty King George River. Millions of years of erosion have created vertical sheer walls that resemble stacks of sandstone. The highlight is sure to be King George Falls, the highest single drop falls in the whole of the Kimberley and your Expedition Team will get you to the cascading waters. Day 12 Wyndham. We will arrive in Wyndham before breakfast and have a choice of optional excursions. Choose to join a scenic fight over the Bungle Bungles rock formations and a hike into Cathedral Gorge and Piccaninny Creek. Alternatively join the Ord River Cruise. Day 13 At sea. Day 14 Jaco Island, East Timor. After clearing custom formalities in Com we will travel to uninhabited Jaco Island, part of East Timor’s, Nino Konis Santana National Park, for a day of beachcombing, swimming and snorkelling. Day 15 At sea. Day 16 Darwin, Australia. Disembark after breakfast and enjoy a full day tour to Litchfeld National Park, famous for its magnifcent waterfalls and where bird and wildlife species abound. On arrival in Darwin we will transfer to the Hilton hotel (or similar) for an overnight stay and meet this evening for a farewell dinner at the hotel. Day 17 Darwin to London. After breakfast in the hotel transfer to the airport for our scheduled indirect fight to London. Day 18 London. Arrive this morning.
For full details on this holiday call us today on 020 7752 0000 for your copy of our brochure. Alternatively view or request online at www.noble-caledonia.co.uk
Jar Island Darwin Hunter River King George River Montgomery Reef Wyndham Lacepede Islands Talbot Bay Broome
Pre Cruise Extension: Wildlife & Wildfowers of Western Australia 21st to 29th August 2017 Before embarking the MS Caledonian Sky in Broome we are offering the opportunity to join a seven night escorted extension discovering the wildlife and wildfowers of Western Australia at the perfect time of the year. Full itinerary and pricing available on request or can be viewed at www.noble-caledonia.co.uk
Prices & Inclusions Special offer prices per person based on double occupancy range from £7995 for a standard forward suite to £9395 for an owner’s suite. Suites for sole use from £10795.
What’s Included: • Economy class scheduled air travel • 12 nights aboard the MS Caledonian Sky on a full board basis • Wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard, • Two nights hotel accommodation in Perth and overnight accommodation in Darwin with breakfast • Welcome dinner in Perth • Farewell dinner in Darwin • Shore excursions • Noble Caledonia Expedition Team • Transfers • Gratuities NB. Flights schedules are yet to be released at the time of going to print and the itinerary may change on their release. Zodiacs will be used during this expedition. Travel insurance and visas are not included in the price. All special offers are subject to availability. Our current booking conditions apply to all reservations.
SMALL SHIPS - BIG EXPERIENCES
IN ASSOCIATION WITH AUSTRALIA.COm
GOURMET SPECIAL 24 PAGES OF FOODIE WALKABOUTS
noma g oes down und e r
h e l i- drink ing in da rwin
ba ros sa by da i m l e r ultratravel 57
Australia’s Great Food and Wine Touring Route in South Australia
ADELAIDE, WINES & BEYOND Follow your tastebuds around four of Australia’s premier wine regions and indulge in some of the country’s most celebrated food and wine experiences. Visit the world-famous Barossa, picturesque Adelaide Hills, McLaren Vale and the quaint Clare Valley. Stop in at cellar doors, taste award-winning wines and feast on gourmet local produce at restaurants set amongst sprawling vineyards.
A gourmet escape in South Australia South Australia is justiﬁably known for the quality of its wines and is one of the country’s great culinary destinations. With over 200 cellar doors within an hours’ drive of Adelaide, farmers markets, festivals and an abundance of restaurants and cafes, you don’t need to travel far. Enjoy the foodie experience year-round in South Australia with this 6-day self-drive, taking in Adelaide and the Hills, McLaren Vale, Barossa and Clare Valley.
5-NIGHTS, 4 STAR, ROOM ONLY, CAR HIRE INCLUDED
SAVE £100 WWW.AUSTRAVEL.COM OR CALL 0808 163 6126
the next BIG THING
Impressive architecture in the cit, musical delights in the outback and breathtaking walks on Kangaroo Island. Here is the new, says John O’Ceallaigh
hop-foot It Kangaroo Island’s rugged bushland and pristine beaches off the south coast are set to become a touch more accessible in 2016. A 39-mile walking route, the Kangaroo Island Wilderness Trail, is being developed and, when fully open in June, will enable visitors to explore a terrain that incorporates windsculpted rocks, tumbling cascades, soaring clifftops and a warren of stalactite-strewn caves. The fiveday walk traverses Flinders Chase National Park, Cape Bouguer Wilderness Protection Area and Kelly Hill Conservation Park, with four campsites en route. parks.sa.gov.au
m or p h w h arf Changes are afoot in Brisbane’s Queen’s
as a new visitor and investment hub, a
a cinema and an arena that will host
Wharf precinct: Queensland’s government
bridge between the city centre and river,
nightly water and light shows.
this summer approved plans to redevelop
and a recreational area. Alongside more
Construction is expected to start
the quarter within the Central Business
than 50 new restaurants, cafés and bars,
in 2017 on the revival of this historically
District. Among the many modifications in
a casino and a handful of high-end hotels
significant district, where Brisbane
store is the construction of a cluster of
will cater to visitors. An expansive
originated some 180 years ago and many
curved skyscrapers that will endow the city
promenade and elevated open-air Sky
of the city’s most significant cultural
skyline with a gleaming new focal point.
Deck should prove popular meeting spots
attractions – the Botanic Gardens,
on summer evenings, while additional
Cultural Precinct and South Bank among
cultural spaces will include a new theatre,
them – are situated.
The development will be more than cosmetic, however: it is intended to serve
classIc rocK Australia’s only national
Red Centre, just 380 guests will
orchestra, the Australian
hear the ensemble perform a
Chamber Orchestra (below),
carefully considered programme
regularly performs at the Sydney
that draws on the talents
Opera House, but next month
of the country’s most respected
music fans have a unique
musicians and pays due
opportunity to see them play
reverence to this sacred place.
at another Australian landmark.
Three dining events – from an
On October 30 and 31, the
outback barbecue lunch to a gala
troupe will for the first time host
dinner with orchestra members
a series of three concerts at
– will ensure the merriment
Uluru Meeting Place. There, in
continues in the leisurely pauses
the vast, still expanse of the
aN ENchaNtED forEst
Next month sees the opening of the latest of Melbourne’s MPavilions – a series of aesthetically exceptional temporary structures designed by leading international architects in Queen Victoria Gardens. This year’s design, by Stirling Prize-winning architect Amanda Levete and her AL_A studio, is the second to open, and will host talks, workshops and performances. Levete’s design, which resembles a futuristic forest in the centre of the city – a series of slender columns atop which stand sleek and sinuous translucent petals – will be open for shade and creative sustenance from October 5 to February 7 2016 (mpavilion.org).
EXPERIENCE THE ICONS OF AUSTRALIA A perfect way to experience the land down under is by combining the icons of Sydney, the fiery red sands of the Outback and the spectacular colours of the Great Barrier Reef. Discover the famous architecture of the Opera House or head inside to enjoy one of its many concerts. Cycle across the Harbour Bridge, or for a little adventure take part in the Bridge Climb. Sail the magnificent harbour and head inland to the Blue Mountains to view the glorious Three Sisters rock formation, before travelling to the heart of the Outback for a sunset tour at Uluru (Ayers Rock), and in Cairns cruise out to the Great Barrier Reef to snorkel with majestic marine life.
FREE DAY TOUR
SYDNEY, ROCK & REEF 8 nights from £1,649 pp
Saving £90 per couple
Includes: FREE Sydney Harbour Story Cruise, 3nts 4★ Sydney hotel, 2nts 4★ Ayers Rock hotel, 3nts 4★ Cairns hotel and return International Flights with Etihad Airways*. Selected travel in March 2016.
Call our expert Travel Designers on FREEPHONE 0808 115 0879 or visit austravel.com We don’t just go there, we know there Calls are free from landlines, mobiles and other providers’ charges may vary. Oﬀers subject to change and availability. Valid for bookings made from the 19th August to the 18th September, only one free excursion valid per person. No cash alternative and no refunds will be given for unused free excursions. Blackout dates may apply. *Flights are priced with Etihad airways departing London Heathrow. Prices are correct at time of going to print, for selected travel and may be withdrawn at any time. ATOL protected.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH AUSTRALIA.COm
SUNNY SIDE UP IN SYDNEY
Whichever way you like your eggs, there will be a hip beachside breakfast spot in the city that serves them just so. Ralph Bestic tests the waters – and several brunches – on a road trip around the coast
THe bOWeR ReSTAURANT mANLy bRONze KIOSK mONA vALe This casual spot is in hard-core surfing territory: boards, bleached hair and attitude are all on show, over a black coffee and eggs with tomato salsa. North of the Mona Vale Surf Club, this spot is adored by early-morning swimmers. Breakfast, beach and a dip are the order of the day (bronzekiosk.com.au).
Located at Fairy Bower on a pathway between Manly and Shelly beaches that is hugely popular with dogwalkers and cyclists, the restaurant is white-themed throughout, a dazzling foil to the blue water that laps just metres away below a seawall. Here, any dish served with avocado is delicious; regulars often then grab an iced coffee and wander up to Shelly Beach (thebowerrestaurant.com.au).
WATSONS bAy HOTeL WATSONS bAy After a breakfast of Sicilian-style baked eggs on sourdough at this celebrated eastern-suburbs waterside hotel you can transition seamlessly into a typical Australian brunch of mashed avocado with tomato and feta. Arrive early for a windowside seat with classic harbour views. A ferry from Circular Quay in the Central Business District is the best way of getting here as parking can be tricky (watsonsbayhotel.com.au).
ICebeRgS TeRRACe bONdI beACH Although this restaurant is best known for its spectacular paninis, frittatas, eggs and coffees, it also serves healthy options such as coconut water, goji berries, kale, beetroot and micro herbs, thanks to walkers who pound the two-mile Bondi to Bronte trail. The popular city eating hole attracts a real mix of Sydneysiders, from surfers and smart walkers to a glam celeb crowd. It’s worth turning up early when the Sunday market is on (idrb.com/terrace).
TAmARAmA KIOSK TAmARAmA bATHeRS’ PAvILION bALmORAL beACH If you’re after culinary bragging rights, then this restaurant by the culinary superstar Serge Dansereau is an essential stop-off. No reservations are taken and queues form early on weekends, when the café swells with gourmands waiting to tuck into his vegetable tart with poached free-range eggs and lemon hollandaise (batherspavilion.com.au).
This award-winning Lahznimmodesigned café, set along one side of a small scalloped beach, is a haunt of fashionistas (hence the neighbourhood’s nickname, Glamarama). Favourites include bircher muesli, quinoa and pistachio granola, and croque madame, accompanied by an iced latte blended with honey (facebook.com/kiosk.tamarama).
SeASALT CAfé CLOveLLy
IllustratIon sam Falconer
THRee bLUe dUCKS bRONTe Up until 11.30am you can sit on a bench by the road and watch the world drift by, or go inside and enjoy the arresting local art. The famous black sausage with scrambled eggs and dill tastes splendid in either spot. Just up the hill from Bronte Beach, this cool restaurant will crack open a fresh coconut to wash down breakfast, and serves toast with honey from its own bees (threeblueducks.com/bronte).
One of the few spots at which, if you arrive early, you can park – and then snare a protected spot by the seawater pool. The spot, adjacent to a narrow inlet and beach, is popular with families and those seeking a sheltered tanning spot after a sweetcorn stack with guacamole, tomato relish and bacon. The Clovelly Surf Life Saving Club is a minute away, as is Gordon Bay for snorkelling (seasaltcafe.com.au).
IN ASSOCIATION WITH AuSTrAlIA.COm
The SUPeRCheFS hAVe LANDED Roo with bunya-bunya nuts, wagyu with riberries – Australia’s cuisine has never been so inventive, attracting masters from Heston Blumenthal to René Redzepi. Terry Durack charts the great gastro revolution
ustralian customs officers are getting very used to the top chefs of the world landing in front of them clutching their passports and flip-flops. If it isn’t Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck, it’s René Redzepi of Copenhagen’s Noma, both regular visitors as they juggle their new restaurants. Suddenly, Australia is the special of the day. This autumn Blumenthal transforms his pop-up restaurant into a permanent branch of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in Melbourne – a place he rates as one of the top five food cities in the world. He was, he says, simply following his heart. “Yes, it’s a long way away from home,” he told Ultratravel. “But I don’t care, because I love it. I am also in love with Australia’s food. I’ve never seen a country explode food-wise the way Australia has.” In the meantime, Redzepi of Noma (named four times the best restaurant in the world by Restaurant magazine), ping-pongs back and forth between Denmark and Australia in preparation for moving his entire team of chefs and waiting staff – and even the dishwasher – to Sydney in January 2016 for a 10-week “restaurant-in-residence”. Why Sydney? Why Australia? Why now? “I love the country, but I also love the breed of chefs there,” says Redzepi. There is something also in the water; Redzepi is in awe of the huge diversity of crabs, prawns, lobsters, oysters, scallops, clams and wild-caught fish in the clean, cold, southernhemisphere oceans. His Australian restaurant will present a menu inspired by the Australian coastline, based on salty, crunchy sea succulents and seaweeds, foraged indigenous leaves and berries, seabirds, wild fish and shellfish.
Aussie gold Bennelong restaurant in Sydney Opera House, overseen by chef Peter Gilmore. With its soaring interiors and harbour views, itâ€™s widely regarded as the most beautiful place to eat in the city
Clockwise from left: Working up an appetite in the surf; supper time on a ‘catch & cook’ adventure; exploring the wines and vines of Margaret River; Western Australia is home to some of the world’s fnest seafood.
GRAPE ESCAPES WINE, SURF & SEAFOOD IN WESTERN AUSTRALIA WESTERN AUSTRALIA, FAMOUS FOR ITS BEACHES AND SUNSHINE, HAS LONG BEEN A NIRVANA FOR WINE LOVERS. NOW IT HAS A FOOD SCENE TO MATCH, WITH THE SOUTH WEST OF THE STATE LEADING THE GASTRONOMIC CHARGE. FROM SURF TO SAUVIGNON Margaret River Region, Western Australia’s most famous wine region, is just a three-hour drive from the State’s capital city, Perth. ‘Margs,’ as it’s known to its famously laid-back locals, frst gained popularity as a surfng town (the waves here roll as impressively as the scenery), but since the late 1960s its favourable climate and soil conditions have seen it emerge as an internationally-acclaimed wine-making centre too. The region is now home to over 200 wineries creating an extraordinary array of gold-medal-winning chardonnays, cabernet sauvignons and semillonsauvignon blancs. Visitors are not merely welcome; they are lavishly catered for. Drop in for a tasting, gourmet lunch or behind-the-scenes tour at, among others, Leeuwin Estate and Cullens (biodynamic pioneers), or venture further south to rising star, Snake and Herring, in the Great Southern region. On route to most wineries you’ll also fnd numerous stores and farm shops offering everything from artisan cheese to chocolate, along with mircobreweries and restaurants doing delicious things with local seafood. Want to search for your supper? Head for the forests near Pemberton for a spot of guided truffe hunting.
A TASTE FOR ADVENTURE As well as being a great place to satisfy an appetite, West Australia’s south west also offers plenty of options when it comes to working one up. There are stunning beaches for surfng, snorkelling and sunbathing, spectacular tall-tree forests for exploring and climbing and ancient caves to navigate by torchlight. The Bibbulmun Track, one of Australia’s great walking trails, also winds along the coast here (spot wildfowers and migrating whales as you put your best foot forward). Or how about an adventure by canoe? Paddle the Margaret River on a bush tucker safari. WHEN TO GO The south west has a Mediterranean climate, best enjoyed from September to May. For foodies, the Margaret River Gourmet Escape, held annually in November, is not to be missed. Staged over three days it features stalls from 150 local producers and attracts a stellar crowd of international food and wine big-hitters. Relax at a beach barbecue hosted by Rick Stein, or head to a boutique vineyard to feast at an exclusive dinner from Michelinstarred greats such as Heston Blumenthal.
GETTING THERE Western Australia is closer than you think. Perth is around 18 hours fying time from the UK
(four hours closer than Sydney). A range of international carriers service the city, including Etihad Airways with prices from £655 per person. Austravel offer a nine day self-drive holiday to Perth and the South West from £1,149pp – fnd out more at www.austravel.com/australiafood or by calling 0808 163 6126* For more information and ideas on culinary adventures in Western Australia, visit westernaustralia.com/gourmet *Calls are free from landlines, mobiles and other providers’ charges may vary.
THE ENTIRE STATE ... ON A PLATE SAVOUR THE FLAVOURS of the exotic town of Broome, where the outback meets the ocean. Try the mighty barramundi fsh, tropical fruits, craft beers and meat from giant pearl shells. CATCH & COOK a seafood campfre supper on a kayak adventure led by a local Aboriginal guide in the Shark Bay World Heritage area. TAKE A ‘KNIFE & FORK’ WALK in booming Perth. From fne dining to fusion food trucks and whisky dens to rooftop bars, Australia’s sunniest city offers highlights aplenty for the discerning gourmet traveller.
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Mind you, Australian food hasn’t always been quite so inspirational. Only 40 years ago, the soup of the day was pumpkin, the Sunday roast was lamb, pud was pavlova, and a cold beer was preferred to that fancy stuff, wine. Its food revival has its roots in the Eighties with pioneering chefs such as Neil Perry and Tetsuya Wakuda, both of whom combined classic techniques with an Asian sensibility and the best produce in the land. Tetsuya’s confit of ocean trout – a golden arc of marbled, flesh-pink Tasmanian fish roofed with crunchy kombu seaweed – is still one of the most photographed dishes on the planet. “Tetsuya was at the forefront of Australian cuisine, by introducing Japanese ingredients with his own style and thought process,” says Martin Benn, head chef of Sepia in Sydney and a former trainee of Tetsuya. “This crossover of culture and ideas inspired a generation of chefs.” Perry, who opened the glamorous, ground-breaking Rockpool restaurant in the Rocks, Sydney, in 1990, claims the multicultural nature of Australia society, the unrivalled quality of Australian seafood and the close proximity of Asia have been the biggest formative influences on the nation’s recent cuisine. “No other country incorporates Asian ingredients and techniques into their food as well as we do,” he says. Proof of the multicultural pudding is at the darkly glamorous Rockpool, in the 113-year-old heritage-listed Burns Philp Building in Sydney’s financial district, where you can eat Perry’s mud crab with silken tofu and fermented vinegar, and abalone meunière with puffed rice and herb salad. “We are not bound by tradition,” explains Benn, whose butter-poached Port Lincoln squid with miso-cured egg yolk, yuzu and sorrel at Sepia is another local favourite. “So we have a uniqueness and a freedom with our cuisine like no other nation does.”
GO NATIVE Clockwise from top left: Alpine strawberry meringue at Sepia; René Redzepi picks Australian apples; the kitchen at Bennelong; Tetsuya’s confit of ocean trout; kangaroo and pomegranate at Attica
he most alluring showcase for new Australian cuisine lies in the heart of Sydney, beneath the glorious sails of the Sydney Opera House, designed by the Danish architect Jørn Utzon. At the recently reopened Bennelong at the Opera House, the hugely talented Peter Gilmore showcases Australia’s finest produce with an intuitive sense of culinary balance. Sitting in Utzon’s soaring, metal-ribbed galleria space surrounded by harbour views is lovely enough; add Gilmore’s meltingly soft smoked and confit of pig jowl with roasted koji (a sweet, fragrant Japanese ferment), shiitake mushrooms, kombu seaweed, sea scallop and sesame, and the combined experience is breathtaking. Gilmore, who also runs the acclaimed Quay restaurant, calls the new Australian cuisine “free and imaginative”. It’s this sense of freedom, says Andrew McConnell, founder of the informal Cumulus Inc and stylish Cutler & Co in Melbourne, that means Australian chefs evolve ideas faster than they could in older cultures. “It’s the best of both worlds,” he says, “to have native marron [freshwater crayfish], abalone and native plants, as well as beef and game.” McConnell nails what observers see as the catalyst for Australia’s new pulling power as a foodie magnet – that Australian food is getting more Australian. The past five years have seen a focus on native and wild food that is forming a cuisine with an extraordinary taste. Sour, astringent native riberries, juicy sea succulents and lightly gamey kangaroo and wallaby have transcended gimmicky “theme” restaurants and now inspire the most creative chefs in the country. Small, sedate Adelaide is home to one of them. At Orana (Aboriginal for “welcome”), Scottish-born Jock Zonfrillo is creating an Australian cuisine from the ground up, with native ingredients foraged from the rainforests of Queensland to the escarpments of the Kimberley ranges. Dishes such as Coorong mulloway with native cherries and sea parsley, and cured wagyu brisket with riberries, are as much about harmony and grace as they are about provenance. “Each dish tastes, smells and looks like an interpretation of the great Australian
‘We are not bound by tradition, so we have a freedom with our cuisine like no other nation does’
landscape,” says Zonfrillo, whose mission is to establish sustainable markets for Aboriginal communities. In Melbourne, Attica, run by chef Ben Shewry, is the highest Australian entry on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list for 2015, and with good reason. Shewry’s evocative tasting menu includes salted red kangaroo with bunya bunya nuts, marron with lilly pilly (riberry), and crisp-fried Port Phillip Bay mussels with sea succulents. Not all restaurants are high end, though. At Billy Kwong in Sydney, Kylie Kwong celebrates her Chinese-Australian heritage with Aussie-Chinese food that includes baked wallaby buns with Davidson plum sauce and deep-fried John Dory with XO chilli sauce, samphire and sea parsley. It’s an exciting time for Australian food; one with rewards at every level. Small wonder savvy food-lovers are heading to Australia, eager to taste the newest – and the oldest – cuisine on the planet. Austravel (0808 163 6126; austravel.com) offers an 11-day Sydney to Brisbane package from £1,589 per person including car hire, 10 nights’ accommodation and return flights with Etihad Airways (etihad.com). ultratravel 65
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AustrAliA, licked Take six great chefs, place them in Australia, then ask them to choose their favourite restaurants. The result is a mouth-watering and essential tick-list for any foodie going to Oz. Interviews by James Steen
food for the soul. adelaide is jumping with new
Hadleigh troy’s tasting menu changes depending
places, but a must-visit is my South african mate
on the availability of produce and the vibe in the
Duncan Welgemoed’s Africola (africola.com.au).
kitchen. It’s always a treat. In murray Street, Nao
He brings a fantastic mix of flavours from his home
(00 618 9325 2090) is a Japanese restaurant with
town to a buzzing restaurant/bar. For coffee with
a cult following. Great hot bowls of tasty ramen
a side of sarcasm, I go to Hey Jupiter (00 618 4160
with aromatic aromas tease you as you wait. BMT
5072), which does the best pulled-pork sandwich
Vietnamese (00 618 6161 9049) is a surprising
– christophe, who owns it, is a local personality.
little café in the newpark mall, a must for banh mi
In the Barossa Valley, Fino Seppeltsfield (seppeltsfield.com.au) is beautiful, with alfresco
thit (a Vietnamese meat roll): super-tasty fast food. no trip to Wa is complete without a visit to a
dining and, naturally, a pretty good wine list: it is
winery restaurant. cullen, Leeuwin, Vasse Felix –
Hailed as the Rising Young Chef of Queensland in
a place that makes amazing food in a great winery.
the region is home to many of our finest wineries.
2001, Luke Rayment has been cooking in London
Hentley Farm (hentleyfarm.com.au) in mcLaren
two years ago I cooked at Voyager Estate (voyager
since 2006, and is now executive chef at Soho House
Vale, run by Lachlan colwill, is, to me, South
estate.com.au) during the margaret River Gourmet
australia’s best restaurant in a winery. Finally,
escape food festival. this year I am honoured to be
I love everything about Cru Bar & Cellar (crubar.
Osteria Sanso (osteriasanso.com.au) in kanmantoo
cooking alongside tetsuya Wakuda at Knee Deep
com) on James Street in Fortitude Valley, Brisbane:
is a taste of tuscany; eugenio Sanso brings old-
(kneedeepwines.com.au). I can’t wait to go back.
its drinks list, superb cocktails, chilled vibe and the
school glamour to the area. He’s the real deal.
food. also on James Street is Gerard’s Bistro
the northern territory also has great restaurants.
(gerardsbistro.com.au), whose menu, designed
In Darwin, try Pee Wee’s at the Point (peewees.
around the sharing concept, is inventive and
com.au) for its banana prawns, blue swimmer crab,
diverse. Beccofino (beccofino.com.au) in teneriffe
kangaroo carpaccio and barramundi – and the
specialises in simplicity – the pizza and pasta are
timor Sea view. at Hanuman in Darwin (hanuman.
as good as any in Italy. It has the perfect vibe on
com.au), check out Jimmy Shu’s jungle curry of
a busy night. I’ll always have fond memories of
beef and his prawns with ginger and coconut.
Il Centro (il-centro.com.au) as I’ve worked there
New South Wales
twice. It serves really good Italian cuisine, the views
over Brisbane River and Story Bridge are amazing, the service is polished, and you know you’re in for a good meal when it has a signature dish of sand-
After stints in Michelin-starred restaurants including
crab lasagne. Frog ’N’ Toad (00 617 3371 7823) in
Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Lennox Hastie went
auchenflower is my guilty pleasure. I head there for
back to Australia in 2011, and back to culinary basics.
a “burger with the lot”. and it is a lot!
At Firedoor in the Surry Hills of New South Wales, he is known as “the fireman”, as he cooks on wood coals,
using different woods for different dishes In Sydney a favourite is The Bridge Room (the
Shane Osborn made his name in Britain by winning
bridgeroom.com.au), which serves exemplary
two Michelin stars as chef patron of Pied à Terre in
australian food with influences from asia and
London. Today he creates elegant dishes with a
europe. Ross Lusted cooks passionately, with
Scandinavian influence at Arcane in Hong Kong
incredible attention to detail and clean flavours
I grew up in Perth and got out of there as fast as
opera House, Peter Gilmore’s Bennelong
possible to travel and (as a young chef) taste the
(bennelong.com.au) captures where the australian
seasonal produce and work in the michelin kitchens
food scene is at the moment: celebrating its
Glasgow-born Jock Zonfrillo trained with Marco
of europe. I’ve learnt a lot, and have come to see
multicultural diversity and the best ingredients. It’s
Pierre White, among other chefs, in Britain. Then he
what was on my doorstep the whole time. Western
an iconic space and elegant room, and the menu
discovered an enduring love of native Australian
australia offers some of the greatest produce in
is well conceived. Dishes include grilled Lady elliot
produce, which he cooks to perfection at Orana and
the world. michelin-starred iconic restaurants from
Island bug, fermented chilli, organic turnips and
Street ADL, his acclaimed restaurants in Adelaide
the French Laundry in california to the Fat Duck in
radishes; and Flinders Island salt-grass lamb with
the uk use truffles from this region. the seafood is
broad beans, Jerusalem artichokes, nasturtiums,
South australia is a one-stop shop of incredible
some of the best, and my chef buddies can’t
kale and anchovy salt. I love LuMi (lumidining.com)
produce, such as scallops off kangaroo Island, and
believe their first taste of marron, a type of crayfish.
in Pyrmont for its Italian food with a Japanese
big fat mulloway fish from the coorong estuary. It’s
the forests and coastline offer a bounty of wild and
twist. It does inventive, refined food that packs a
a celebration of seasonality. to grab its energy, hit
native ingredients; it’s a chef’s larder.
punch – the stinging-nettle chitarra is one of the
the Adelaide Central Market and discover all the
Lalla Rookh (lallarookh.com.au) in Perth typifies
best things I’ve put in my mouth. I also recommend
small producers who represent the best Sa has to
australia, serving up modern Italian food using
Tomah Gardens Restaurant at the Blue mountains
offer. I love Lucia’s: the smell of sweet, herby Italian
fantastic Wa produce. For something more elegant,
Botanic Garden (bluemountainsbotanicgarden.
sugo takes me back to my Italian family – fabulous
try Restaurant Amusé (restaurantamuse.com.au):
com.au). With outstanding views, it is the perfect
that remain true to the ingredients. In the Sydney
South Australia and the Northern Territory
A TASTE OF THE OLD COUNTRY Duncan Welgemoed’s Africola, in Adelaide: a buzzy restaurant and bar with a South African flavour NORTHERN TERRITORY QUEENSLAND WESTERN AUSTRALIA
NEW SOUTH WALES VICTORIA
place to relax over lunch. Sean Moran (from Sean’s
and barramundi burgers, which you could follow by
Panorama at Bondi) has a beautiful rustic menu
a game of bowls. In a Windsor backstreet, Saigon
using local produce such as kohlrabi with fingerlimes
Sally (saigonsally.com.au) is a contemporary
and blueberry scones with honey butter. Food
Vietnamese restaurant, whose sharing “buffet” is
cooked with fire always tastes better, and Ester
excellent value and whose kingfish ceviche is
(ester-restaurant.com.au) in Chippendale nails it.
exceptional. Proud Mary Café (proudmarycoffee.
Its killer wine list and laid-back atmosphere also
com.au) in Fitzroy is ideal for cake and great coffee.
make it a Sydney stalwart. In Paddington 10 William Street (10williamst.com.au) has a cracking wine list, buzzy atmosphere and inventive small dishes – a refreshing riff on casual Italian bar food.
Clare SMYth Raised on a farm near Bushmills in Northern Ireland,
Smyth says her diet always included potatoes. Now chef patron of Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in Chelsea, London, she is the first and only British woman to hold
He has two Michelin stars at Restaurant Sat Bains
three Michelin stars, and has an MBE to boot
with Rooms in Nottingham, and is adored by his rivals, who awarded him Chefs’ Chef of the Year 2009.
last year, on a tour of australia as part of the
Come November, Bains will be at the Margaret River
restaurant australia campaign, we ate exceptionally
Gourmet Escape food festival in Western Australia
well at every stop. If you visit Melbourne, Vue de Monde (vuedemonde.com.au) is a must. I fell in
I love Supernormal (supernormal.net.au) in
love with tasmania: it is lush, mountainous and the
Melbourne. It’s large, loud and bustling, with an
produce is unbelievably good. It’s mostly about
open kitchen and good wine list. andrew McConnell
rustic eating, with the excitement of exploring
serves mountains of oysters, steamed pork buns,
what’s on offer from artisan producers. at the
and slow-cooked Szechuan lamb. Gazi (gazi
saffron farm Tas-saff (tas-saff.com.au) at Glaziers
restaurant.com.au), owned by George Calombaris,
Bay, terry and nicky noonan started with about
is always busy serving Greek “tapas”. The Town
five bulbs and now produce the best saffron I’ve
Mouse (thetownmouse.com.au) is a small
tasted. the region’s wine includes extremely good
neighbourhood restaurant – benches, stools and
pinot noir, and sparkling wines from makers such
good-quality, reasonably priced small eats. In South
as Jansz (jansz.com.au), whose vines thrive in the
Melbourne, The Kettle Black (thekettleblack.com.
free-draining basalt soils in the Pipers river region.
au) is excellent for a good breakfast, brunch, lunch
In Derwent Valley there’s the beautiful Westerway
and coffee (it closes at 4pm), with outside space
Raspberry Farm (lanoma.com.au), run by the Clark
and relaxed service. Get there early! there’s just
family. Bruny Island Cheese Company (brunyisland
one place for the finest succulent steak: Rockpool
cheese.com.au) produces award-winning cheeses
Bar & Grill (rockpool.com/rockpoolbarandgrill
such as tom, Otto and nanna. Its owner nick
melbourne) in the Crown Complex. a ribeye on the
haddow’s story is familiar to others in tas: chefs
bone, done on the wood-fired grill, is about £30.
and food producers from all corners of the globe
Pope Joan (popejoan.com.au), meanwhile, is good
head there to open restaurants and businesses.
for breakfast (the porridge includes parsnip, prune
It’s hip and, hey, there are farms that feed cattle
and smoked maple), lunch or dinner and has an
entirely on grass – no grain! tasmania feels like
outside area. as for bars, I like Gin Palace (ginpalace.
a step back in time, with a gentle pace, but is also
com.au) and Arbory (arbory.com.au) at Flinders
“on trend”, delivering the types of food you might
Street Station. Eau de Vie (eaudevie.com.au) has
expect to find only in expensive city restaurants.
no signage, but has a fabulous cocktail list and is a
hobart, the capital, has a pretty harbour with
cool place. Shannon Bennett’s Piggery Café (piggery
plenty of restaurants such as Henry’s (thehenry
cafe.com.au) at Burnham Beeches is on a farm in
jones.com). at Ethos (ethoseatdrink.com),
the Dandenong ranges, next to Yarra Valley, an
which celebrates the region’s food and serves
hour’s drive from Melbourne. It has a family feel,
home-made charcuterie, we had a fantastic feast
with staples such as bread from Shannon’s bakery
of small plates and craft beers.
In Australia, taking a flight to have a meal isn’t an extravagance – it’s often the only way to get there in time. Three correspondents sample the gourmet high
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life by plane, helicopter and balloon, dropping in for tastings and tipples en route
Food to Fly For tours by private plane, hot-air balloon and helicopter offer a chance to sample some of Australiaâ€™s finest produce in a day, from award-winning wine to wagyu beef
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FLIGHT of FANTASY Sean Thomas boards a private plane to flit between a breakfast of abalone and samphire on the Mornington coast and a dream picnic at an acclaimed boutique vineyard
’m flying from a grey and breezy coast to the sunburnt, tranquil interior. I’m flying from mighty oceanic wilderness towards a serration of hazy blue mountains, passing over one of Australia’s great cities. Most importantly, perhaps, I’m flying in this little private plane from a breakfast of abalone and samphire canapés to a lunchtime picnic featuring the world’s finest goat’s cheese. It may seem the height of decadence to jump in a plane specifically to eat and drink at my destination. But three things make this indulgence worthwhile when you’re Down Under. The first is distance: Australia is so big, sometimes you have to get in a jet to find the nearest decent teashop. The second is money: Australia is a rich country. Miners on the Kimberley coast can make £200,000 a year, and Sydney oozes affluence. Lots of people can therefore afford this kind of opulence. Third: the product. Surveys show that the main reason visitors come back to Australia is because they loved the tucker and grog so much the first time. They are right. Thanks to its clear seas, Edenic pastures, virgin forests, pollution-free rivers, mix of Asian and European cuisines, and an inventive approach, Australia’s food and wine is world class. The oysters of Bermagui. The lamb of Tasmania. The wines from Margaret River. And then there’s the abalone, fished from the Mornington Peninsula, Victoria – which I sampled this morning. To be honest, it wasn’t the most auspicious start. I woke in my bijou chalet on the wild western coastline of the Mornington Peninsula to skies the colour of a discarded oyster shell, and more than a hint of salty rain in the air. And yet it is this capricious maritime climate, given to extremes of cold (from the Antarctic to the south) and heat (when the north wind blows from Australia’s inland deserts), that makes the halfsuburban, half-wild Mornington Peninsula so special for gourmets and tipplers. The fertile soils, blessed with ample rain and sun, are excellent for pinot noirs and whites. Rustling orchards abound, so cider is excellent. But what about the abalone? An hour after rising I was out on the swell of the Bass Strait with fisherman David Hunt, seeking out this much-desired delicacy. If you’ve never seen an abalone in the wild, my advice is, don’t. They look like diseased barnacles with elephantiasis. If, as Jonathan Swift said, it took a brave man to eat the first oyster, then it must have taken an even braver man, probably also blind drunk and two hours from a hungry death, to snack on an abalone. Despite their looks, abalone fetch a high price. As we bobbed around the chilly waters, I inquired of Hunt how
much he could make fishing them. “In the old days $20,000 a day,” he sighed. “Now it’s barely half that. I did say Australia was prosperous. Even the molluscgatherers are millionaires. Because we had to be in the Yarra Valley by lunchtime, the morning’s fishing was truncated, and we briskly repaired to the beach for breakfast, prepared by chef Julian Hills from the Paringa Estate. Hills dived in and out of sandy shrubs, delivering sea spinach, warrigal greens, rock samphire, beach parsley and “pigface succulents”. Then, as we knocked back crisp Mornington Peninsula wines – such as Garagiste Merricks Chardonnay – Hills turned these foraged veggies into delicate nibbles, served with fine raw slices of that very ugly abalone. Yep, delicious. I then jumped in a car with Tim Wildman of Vineyard Safaris, and headed to tiny Tyabb Airport. And here I am, soaring over Melbourne in a little scarlet aeroplane like a middle-aged gourmet James Bond. Wildman, who is a Master of Wine, devised the idea of this fly-and-dine adventure. As we descend to Lilydale Airport in the Yarra he explains his philosophy. “It doesn’t get much more special than flying from one landscape to another, sampling the best food and wine. But I also want my guests to meet the people behind the products.” After we touch down, Wildman takes me on a viticultural and culinary whirlwind of a tour. I meet Sam Middleton in his vineyard, where he creates the great Quintet Cabernet Sauvignon blend. I try some William Downie Gippsland Pinot Noir with its maker. I sample gin at the Melbourne Gin Company with genius distiller Andrew Marks. And then we have our picnic. And what a picnic: of Healesville olives, green tomato salad and smoked paprika, fresh local trout, brochettes of tender marinated lamb hearts, plus that amazing goat’s cheese (Holy Goat La Luna, made in Victoria). And all of it washed down with Thousand Candles 2013 red (one of the best wines I’ve ever tasted) and all of it enjoyed on the slopes of the Thousand Candles estate: a vast scoop of empty valley under a flawlessly blue Australian sky. Vineyard Safaris’ (0061 428 920 355; vineyardsafaris.com) one-day wine tours with a Master of Wine cost from £370. Austravel (0808 163 6126; austravel.com) offers a six-day Melbourne Gourmet Safari package from £1,395, including car hire, five nights’ accommodation, hot-air balloon and wine tours and Etihad Airways flights (etihad.com). Flights from London, Manchester and Edinburgh via Abu Dhabi to Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, cost from £655 per person.
the Yarra ValleY bY hot-air balloon By Olly Smith
nakes didn’t spring to mind when I signed up to go hot-air
tease out their treasure for the UK shelves. With the world eerily
ballooning at dawn. But after piling sleepily into the back of
gathering beneath us, we were the birds’ eyes over the lush Yarra
a utility vehicle and rattling across the retreating sleek edge of the
Valley and Dandenong Ranges, the pastures of Yarra Valley Dairy
Australian night, our briefing began. Like a crack troop, albeit a
and the orchards of the Yarra Valley Chocolaterie & Ice Creamery.
yawning one who’d never trained together before, we were
All too soon the spell lifted, the basket dropped and, with
warned that the cool fields at dawn may harbour silent slithering
a semi-dignified bump, I clambered out of my temporary wicker
foes. I think the larrikin driving us did this because he could see
sky-home and kissed the ground. On all fours, I half expected
that I was the only idiot wearing sandals and was also the only
to spot a grinning Aussie snake ready to bite the Pom. But
person in the vehicle with a film crew for ITV’s This Morning.
all I saw was Yarra Valley, bathed in golden light, and vineyards,
Unfurling the balloon over its flame is the closest I’m ever
ripe for exploring.
going to get to feeling like a toasted teacake – lovely, incidentally. As it drifted upward, the towering balloon slowly ruffled into
Global Ballooning (0061 3 9428 5703; globalballooning.com.au)
shape. I clambered into the basket and, as I rose over a ghostly
offers a range of packages departing from Rochford Winery before
treeline, the world stopped. Or rather, it began. You move with the
dawn. Landings can be followed with wine-tasting excursions,
wind, which means it feels breathlessly still even though you
gourmet tours, cider and ale trails. A day trip, including breakfast at
might be travelling faster than a bounding kangaroo. And, as our
Rochford Wines, lunch at Yering Station, and visits to five wineries
captain silently pulled ropes and twisted valves, Yarra Valley
(Coldstream Hills, Domaine Chandon, Yering Station and De Bortoli
emerged beneath us in a streak of astonishing purple. Its
Wines) costs A$575/£268 per person.
vineyards, row by row, stood to attention on morning parade
‘Drinking For Chaps: How to Choose One’s Booze’ by Gustav Temple
where some of my favourite winemakers such as Mac Forbes
and Olly Smith, is published on October 22 by Kyle Books
FLOAT ON A hot-air balloon rises over the hushed, misty Yarra Valley early in the morning. Inset, opposite: Holy Goat cheese and charcuterie from Victoria
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Whether it’s your first time down under, or you’re a returning traveller to the country, you‘ll never be short of unique experiences and adventures in Australia. With four time zones, three million square miles and 22 million people, it’s not that simple to sum up a country that stretches so far and takes in so many different climates and diverse landscapes. Below are just a few of our recommended itineraries, speak to one of our Travel Designers today to start planning your Australia adventure.
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Call our expert Travel Designers on FREEPHONE 0808 115 0879 or visit austravel.com We don’t just go there, we know there Calls are free from landlines, mobiles and other providers’ charges may vary. Oﬀers subject to change and availability. Free Excursion applies to selected day tours/excursions and is applicable when booking a minimum of 5 night’s accommodation or 7 night’s motor home hire and return international ﬂights. Valid for bookings made from the 19th August to the 30th September, only one Free excursion valid per person. No cash alternative and no refunds will be given for unused free excursions. Blackout dates may apply. Normal booking terms and conditions apply, see Austravel.com for full details. Oﬀers are correct at time of going to print, for selected travel and may be withdrawn at any time. ATOL protected.
Helicopter pub crawl By Sean Thomas
arwin, Australia. It’s barely 6am and dawn is a pale blue rumour on the horizon. And
as I rub the sleep from my eyes I realise I am fulfilling a dream: I’m waking up next to a very beautiful Chinese television starlet. It’s not quite how I imagined it, though. In my fantasies I figured we’d be in the same bedroom. Yet here we are in the same minibus, surrounded by her television crew, who are all similarly half-awake, thanks to the early start. That said, there is something to perk us up. We’re all here because we’re headed for a ridiculously appealing adventure. A helicopter
wagyu beef adventure
pub crawl. Yes, a day spent choppering from
By Tricia Welsh
tavern to tavern. airport, climb into two different helicopters and
flit up into the wilds. The choppers are doorless
winery, then jetting on for a wagyu-beef masterclass and four-course
and windowless. Only our safety belts are
lunch at Mayura Station. And for dessert? A flight back to Melbourne
stopping us from falling out of the sky and into
over the Twelve Apostles, arriving back just in time for dinner.
Moments later, we park at a dusty suburban
his must be the best long lunch in Australia: flying by private jet from Melbourne to Coonawarra in South Australia, visiting Wynns
the sluggish, glittery, croc-infested rivers of the
John Dyer of Air Adventure clearly thinks outside the box.
coastal Northern Territory.
This innovative air touring company, established by his late father,
The day begins well. Our first touchdown is
Rod, has been operating for nearly 40 years in the Australian outback
on to an actual river-beach – and no matter how
and Africa. Originally farmers in Hamilton, the Dyers now farm
blasé you are, it doesn’t get much funkier than
in Victoria’s Western District while taking gourmands out on their
landing a helicopter on a beach and running out
increasingly popular air adventures.
under the whirling blades, just to go and drink cold Coopers Pale Ale in an airy wooden hunter’s lodge. Unless, that is, the next stop is even better. Already a bit squiffy from the beers, we peer out of the racing choppers across the green rainforests. Where is the next pub? Underwater? Suddenly, we dive down from the blue, swooping
It’s an hour’s flight from Essendon Airport to Coonawarra, where going up on board the chopper for a pub crawl (top left), stopping at goat island (above left). Air Adventure’s private plane (top) stops at Mayura Station for a meal of wagyu beef (above) and a masterclass (below)
we transfer to Wynns Coonawarra Estate, the oldest and largest winery in the vine-covered region famed for its mineral-rich soil. Following a tour of the cellars, we don lab coats and, under the guidance of winemaker Sarah Pidgeon, create red-wine blends to our own liking, using cabernet sauvignon, shiraz and merlot. We fly farther south to Mayura Station, established in 1845, to lunch on exceptional estate-grown wagyu beef. Mayura’s herd
on a clearing in the jungle. Wild buffalo scatter
started with just 25 heifers and four bulls imported in 1997.
from the noise. I feel like a Vietnam war
Today, with 6,000 head of cattle on 3,240 hectares, it is the largest
correspondent – only with more vodka.
100 per cent full-blood wagyu cattle station outside Japan.
Scampering from the chopper we tramp
Chef Mark Wright prepares lunch in an open teppanyaki-style
through rampant greenery to a beery hotel, Goat
kitchen restaurant. He has two cuts of prime steak ready to chargrill:
Island, owned by a fabulously drunken
large cubes of rump and thick slivers of oyster blade. What he calls a
Dutchman who keeps a loaded gun on the bar
“mystery box” that is already roasting in the oven turns out
and dispenses fine sauvignon blanc to boozy
to be a huge melt-in-the-mouth rib-eye that feeds all 10 of us easily.
weekend barramundi fishermen.
Luscious wines, including a Rymill Shiraz 1993, Zema Estate Cluny
“The gun is for the crocs,” he says. “Sometimes they get a bit friendly.” After that, I confess it becomes a bit of a blur. But a wonderful blur. Hic.
1998 and a 2002 “Grande Reserve” Cabernet Sauvignon by Patrick of Coonawarra, flow freely before a dessert of vanilla panna cotta. Before flying off, we stop by a huge barn where the pampered cattle are grain-fed for up to 12 months. Here, we learn the secret
ingredient in their diet: 3lb of chocolate each day, which goes some A Heli Pub Tour can be booked through Airborne
way to explaining why steak and red wine are such a perfect match.
Solutions (0061 8 8972 2345; airbornesolutions. com.au) for A$895/£417 per person per day, for
Air Adventure (0061 3 5572 1371; airadventure.com.au) offers the
a seven-hour tour, excluding alcoholic drinks.
all-inclusive Great Wagyu Adventure from AU$1,000/£475 per person.
IN ASSOCIATION WITH AuSTrAlIA.COm
G OUR M ET dR i v E
Sometimes the best way to sample a region’s produce is to motor through it, stopping to snack and sip along the way. Daniel Scott gets behind the wheel from Albany to Margaret River, while Olivia Palamountain sits back in style in the Queen’s Daimler in Barossa
estern Australia’s southern corner is made Down the valley, at nearby Castle Rock Estate for a self-drive holiday, with near-empty (castlerockestate.com.au), vigneron Rob Diletti can roads curling through vine-clad coastal trace his family history back to Lucca in Tuscany. The hills and forests in which some of the unassuming Diletti, who makes some of Australia’s top planet’s tallest and oldest trees grow. It is also a region rieslings, is establishing a strong reputation and has in which to fall in love (again) with Australian wine, been named by the Australian wine authority James from the fine rieslings being produced near Albany, Halliday as Winemaker of the Year 2015. “Vineyard where I begin my journey, to the world-class cabernet management,” Diletti comments, “is about getting it sauvignons and chardonnays of Margaret River, at my right for the site, not just doing things to a recipe.” He’s journey’s end. And all along the way, there are natural clearly got it right with a superb 2013 Reserve Riesling. and historical highlights, fresh inventive food and, just Following Albany, my next stop is the Valley of the as importantly for the waistline, thrilling national parks Giants in the Walpole-Nornalup National Park, where in which to walk off any overindulgence. ranger Julie Ewing guides visitors along an ancient trail, In the likeable seaside city of Albany, my exploration which occasionally goes through the hollow buttresses takes me into the community’s past, as well as its of magnificent giant tingle trees, some 250ft tall and up present. Founded in 1826, the town is the oldest to 500 years old. The path has been used for centuries permanent settlement in Western Australia. Its natural by the Noongar Aboriginals, who have lived in this area deepwater harbour provided a gateway to WA’s for some 38,000 years and believe the trees hold the goldfields in the 19th century, and it also played a spirits of their ancestors (as well as a variety of endemic significant role during the First World creatures, including the phascogale: a tiny War, being the last port of call for marsupial whose rather unfortunate male AUSTRALIA Australian and New Zealand troops: a fact dies of stress after mating). Having had Cape Lodge that is recognised in the National Anzac our hearts broken, we’re then led (for light Margaret River Centre, which opened last year. relief) on to the 131ft-high Tree Top Walk, Leeuwin Estate Unlike most museums, here each Porongurups a raised platform that stretches like an Pemberton visitor is allocated an individual soldier enormous Meccano set through the forest from the time with whom to experience canopy, offering views not just within the Albany the war. Mine was Gordon Naley, whose trees but above them, too. 50 miles story was particularly poignant. Naley, an Back down to earth, and after a sublime Aboriginal man who survived Gallipoli, was taken to drive through 80 miles of sun-smudged karri and jarrah London in 1915 to convalesce from typhoid and, in 1916, forests, the small rural town of Pemberton comes into was sent back to fight on the Western Front. Eventually, view. Here, among more towering forests, the 200ft after being held prisoner in Germany, he settled back in Gloucester Tree stands out, a rickety ladder bolted into South Australia, dying, aged 44, of a war-related illness. its trunk leading to the summit. Gripping the rungs With Naley’s life reeling through my mind, I head to with trembling hands, I feel like Jack clambering the the Porongurups, a succession of granite bluffs to the beanstalk toward the giant’s lair. How I make the north. In Porongurup National Park a trail leads up Castle treetop platform I’ll never know, but my giddy ascent Rock to the Granite Skywalk, a suspended metal walkway is rewarded by views over the forest canopy all the way ranged around several giant tors. Fifty-five million years to coastal sand dunes. ago, these peaks formed part of an island surrounded It’s indisputably time for calmer pursuits. by ocean; looking down from the walkway, over waves Fortunately, the Margaret River region, which produces of mist billowing up the hills, I could almost picture it. more than 20 per cent of Australia’s premium wine from There are equally dramatic views in the foothills of three per cent of the country’s grapes, is a few hours’ the Porongurups, where an impressive wine region is drive away. emerging, making the most of mineral-rich soils to Extending some 85 miles between two capes produce intensely flavoured cool-climate wines. The (Naturaliste in the north and Leeuwin to the south) and vines straddle the slopes of a mist-filled valley in which encompassing more than 200 vineyards, a dramatic the 165-acre Ironwood (ironwoodestatewines.com.au) is granite coastline, 150 limestone caves and more karri based. This vineyard is named after the Michigan town forests, it’s difficult to know where to start when visiting at the heart of Hiawatha country from where its this region. Its wealth of sophisticated accommodation winemaking owner, Eugene Harma, hails, and and fine restaurants only adds to the conundrum. But, mementos of his hometown and of the legendary Native having visited Margaret River many times, I’ve learnt American chief litter the cellar door. that the way to solve this dilemma is with a “less-is76 ultratravel
perfect pitstops (clockwise from top left) Marron at cape Lodge; Walpole treetop walk; Leeuwin chardonnay and outdoor restaurant; beach at Margaret river; Michael elfwing, chef at cape Lodge
more” approach. So this time, I confine myself to two wineries: Vasse Felix, the region’s first, set up by Perth cardiologist Dr Thomas Cullity in 1967, and Leeuwin Estate, another of the pioneers. Both are popular with visitors, offering a combination of fine wine, gourmet food, art exhibitions and concerts, as well as tours (ultimatewineryexperiences.com.au). The four-hour cellar experience at Vasse Felix (vassefelix.com.au) takes in every part of the winery and wine-making process, led by Virginia Willcock, the 2012 Australian winemaker of the year. Naturally, there is a chance to taste the results of the picking, which is done early in the morning to maintain the vibrancy of the flavour, as well as to sit in the shade and enjoy a three-course lunch. Here, treats range from charcuterie plate and local marron (a freshwater crayfish) with mushroom, radish and nasturtium to pork with Jerusalem artichoke, pear and seaweed. And there is more near-religious gastronomic ecstasy to come, at the glamorous Cape Lodge (capelodge.com.au). Set beside a lake and in its own vineyard near the coast, its rooms are spacious and stylish, and its restaurant a real winner. A change of executive chef, to Swedish-born Michael Elfwing, who worked with Heston Blumenthal at The Fat Duck, ensures a sublime degustation dinner, again including marron – this time with quail’s eggs and dill sauce, artichoke hearts and thyme sauce. Heading on my final day towards Perth it’s no chore to be back on the wine trail, this time with an aesthetic slant, at Leeuwin Estate (leeuwinestate.com.au). While enjoying a glass of brut in the winery’s art gallery, I admire canvases from remote indigenous communities, some Sidney Nolan paintings and John Olsen’s “Frogs in Riesling”. My Czech-Australian guide, Stepan Libricky, tutors me expertly through a “flight” of five Art Series wines, with accompanying entrées conjured by the executive chef Dany Angove. Libricky has a strong line in regal imagery, introducing a $100 chardonnay as “the queen of wines, very powerful and elegant”, and the cabernet sauvignon as “like Prince William, the future King”. Then, as we savour a royal feast, he pronounces the marriage of crumbly, flaky red emperor fish and the “queen” chardonnay to be “a match made in heaven”. Although his phrasing is slightly over the top, I’m inclined to agree. And, as I drive away, I’m half-inclined to give Leeuwin Estate a monarchic wave of approval. Austravel (0808 163 6126; austravel.com) offers an eight-day Perth Gourmet Drive package from £1,149 per person, including car hire, seven nights’ accommodation and return flights with Etihad Airways (etihad.com). ultratravel 77
IN ASSOCIATION WITH AUSTRALIA.COm
a bite of barossa
By Olivia Palamountain
peak to any Australian and they’ll tell
produces exquisite small-batch wines. At a tasting,
you with fondness that Barossa
I’m immediately sold on the Paradox, an inky 2010
people are “different”. Take a seat in
shiraz of mixed spice and violets with blueberry hints.
the Daimler belonging to John
Next up on our road trip is Hentley Farm, voted
Baldwin, a local guide, and it’s nigh on
2015’s Winery of the Year by Australia’s Halliday
impossible not to fall in love. Not only
Wine Companion. Within restored stables dating
is his car – a restored original used by the Queen on
from the 1880s, local lad and head chef Lachlan
her 1963 tour of Australia – an absolute beauty, but
Colwill serves inspired, imaginative food ranging
Baldwin is also a glorious eccentric, like a characterful
from a mango-yoghurt pudding, designed to look
Aussie uncle you never realised you were missing.
like a boiled egg and served in a real eggshell, to a
With Baldwin at the helm of the Daimler (and
signature dish of oysters and rosemary, the scent of
me doing my best regal impression in the back), we
which comes alive with the addition of dry ice.
are touring the Barossa Valley in style. This glorious
Baldwin wangles us a table, but not before I’ve
stretch of South Australia lies around 30 miles
tasted two of the star wines on offer, evocatively
north-east of Adelaide, and can lay claim to being
named “Beauty” and “The Beast”. Ever the sucker for
both one of the country’s premier wine regions
a bad boy, I pick up a bottle of The Beast.
and one of its most beautiful. There’s little that Baldwin doesn’t know about
Although within stumbling distance of Hentley Farm is Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage, a cute
this part of the world and, as we cruise through
couples retreat perfect for a weekend of solitude, I
acres of rolling countryside precisely laid with vines,
head to The Louise, where each suite has a terrace,
he fills me in. The first thing to appreciate about the
fireplace and outdoor rainshower. Designed by a
Barossa Valley is its food and drink. As well as its
Californian couple looking for a Napa vibe, it’s the
wines – most famously its big, bold shiraz – the
sort of glamorous place you might want to hunker
valley is renowned among gourmets for its regional
down on honeymoon, before wandering to its
produce, sold at pitstops such as Maggie Beer’s
destination dining spot, Appellation, which serves
Farm Shop (owned by Australia’s answer to Delia
locally and seasonally driven dishes such as Port
Smith) and its restaurants, such as the renowned
Lincoln bluefin tuna with air-dried ham and lemon
FermentAsian. The second thing to appreciate is that,
marmalade, and pan-fried Gawler River quail with
although Baldwin is as passionate about booze as he
bitter leaves and roasted hazelnut dressing.
is about driving, he doesn’t mix the two. Thankfully.
There’s no time for me to hang about, though.
A quick snoop in the tiny town of Angaston
Next morning Baldwin is ready to whisk me off to try
confirms there’s much gastro-gold in these hills, from
something extra special at Seppeltsfield. This cellar
Casa Carboni, an Italian cooking school and enoteca,
houses the Centennial Collection, the world’s oldest
to the Barossa Valley Cheese Company and Schulz
and only range of consecutive Vintage Tawny since
Butchers, founded in 1939 and renowned for its
1878. I try both a slug from a barrel from 1985 (the
traditional curing and smoking methods. The Apex
year I was born) and a nip of the 1885, watching with
Bakery, up the road in Tanunda, is another delight:
awe as a phial of liquid gold is extracted, and
a family business since 1924, this bakery still churns
presented to me with reverence. It tastes ambrosial.
out the same-recipe sourdoughs, pies and pasties
Later on there is less theatre to be found at the
from its Scotch oven as it did nearly 100 years ago.
smaller, modern vineyards, such as Torbreck Wines
These aren’t the only historical success stories of
(tipped by Baldwin as the next big thing), but the
the Barossa. The vine stocks are among the oldest
produce – and producers – are no less impressive.
on earth, brought over by German immigrants
Indeed, the Barossa folk I’ve come across really are
fleeing religious persecution some 170 years ago –
a different breed: passionate, warm and more than
thus saving them from disease that wiped out many
a little quirky. There’s definitely magic in the vines.
European vines in the 19th century. With around 50 wineries in the region, it would be hard to know
John Baldwin’s Daimler tours (0061 8 8524 9047;
where to start without some expert guidance, but as
barossadaimlertours.com.au) cost from £225 for a
it happens I do recognise the name of our first stop.
half-day. Austravel (0808 163 6126; austravel.com)
Yalumba is well known in the UK for its accessible
offers a nine-day Adelaide food trip from £1,789,
plonk, but this pretty estate – at 166 years old, the
including car hire, eight nights’ accommodation, and
oldest family-owned vineyard in the country – also
return Etihad Airways flights (etihad.com).
vine, all vine John Baldwin with one of his two renovated 1962 Daimlers in Barossa and outside Ch창teau Tanunda (top left) Photograph CinDY Fan
don’t feel wild – they feel positively Jurassic, with parrotfish the size of terriers, enormous silvery boulders and giant Aldabra tortoises. The islands are also home to two of the world’s finest resorts, refurbished and dreamier than ever words CHARLOTTE SINCLAIR
n the hierarchy of the world’s waters, the Indian Ocean takes some beating. More hyperbolically described than perhaps any other, it is outrageously exotic, a spice-scented sea whose warm waves lap at myriad shores in Myanmar, India, Cambodia and Africa, countries where islands crumble off the coastline and spin away into waters that were described by Rudyard Kipling as “so soft, so bright, so bloomin’ blue”. In other words, an ocean to set the mind to travel, to dreams of creamy sands and sapphire waves, where even the palm trees appear to bow in submission to all that perfect blue. Yet even here there are places more beautiful than the rest (supermodels among beauty queens). Located off the east coast of Africa, the Seychelles is an archipelago of 115 islands of lushly green, granite peaks and quiet beaches that are among the most exquisite in the world. There is an off-map, castaway glamour to the Seychelles. Pirates, of the romanticised, swashbuckling variety, used to roam the waters where now whale sharks are the more frequent visitors. The wildlife here – including indigenous seabirds, jewel-toned fish that decorate mile after mile of coral reef, and the world’s largest concentration of Aldabra giant tortoises – easily outnumbers the Seychelles’ human population, a balance that has seen the islands dubbed “the Galápagos of the Indian Ocean”. This untouched environment is part circumstance – the country only received independence from British colonial rule in 1976 and endured subsequent years of political in-fighting before peace was established –
and part grand plan. The latter is the slow and sustainable approach to tourist development that is rooted in the government’s close study of the mistakes of its mass market competitors (particularly Mauritius), and its correct assumption that the country’s thriving ecosystem is a commodity in itself. Hence, by design, the Seychelles aims to be a niche destination, targeting affluent visitors and high-end hotel brands: in the past decade, a Four Seasons and Raffles have opened on Mahé and Praslin islands, while a Six Senses resort, Zil Pasyon, will debut on Félicité Island later this year. It’s no coincidence, then, that the country is the location of two of the dreamiest private island resorts in the world – North Island and Fregate Island Private. In a world where luxury has become a tattered, overused concept, the accommodation on these islands – both recently refurbished, both heavily committed to their own environmental programmes – has set a new paradigm. Royal honeymooners and celebrity visitors aside, North Island, particularly, is almost fictive in its allure, with a whispered, word-of-mouth reputation among those who have been lucky enough to experience its unparalleled charm that is at once a part of, and entirely separate from, the considerable expense of staying here. (Anywhere can be expensive, but charm is impossible to manufacture.) I ponder this while sitting beneath a palm tree – helpfully denuded of potentially braining coconuts – on North’s Honeymoon Beach, eating a picnic lunch of chicken wraps, vegetable spring rolls and the pinkest, most delicious macaroons this side of Paris. The wide stretch of powdery
There’s not a sound that’s not natural – the hush of waves on the shore, the flit and jitter of birds, the wind through the trees sand has been roped off for my husband and me for the afternoon – a whole beach to ourselves – and we spend the hours shell-hunting, lazing in the shade, and skinnydipping in the aquamarine, bath-water waves, silver fish scattering at our ankles. As an experience, it exemplifies how hospitality works on North, where each rarely sighted guest is cocooned in a little slice of their own paradise. As much as the specialness of North is down to this careful choreography of space and privacy, it is also attributable to the jaw-dropping loveliness of the island, with its mangrove and palm-fringed bays, driftwood beach bars, a spectacular pool cut into the rocky hillside, and the thickly canopied peaks – where we walk one morning led by Taryn, the resort’s nature guide, to a viewpoint where the dark, swooping silhouettes of eagle rays can be spied in the frilled waves below.
he island is preposterously pretty and just the right side of wild, a place where giant, century-old tortoises, with their gummy smiles and smooth, lizard necks, crunch through the undergrowth as we zip along sand paths on our golf buggy. Everything is bigger, brighter, more beautiful than it has any need to be. Snorkelling, we encounter parrotfish the size of terriers. The white sands turn champagne pink at sunset as enormous fruit bats slice the dusk sky. There’s not a sound that’s not natural – the hush of waves on the shore, the flit and jitter of birds, the wind through trees – and the light is soft, leaf-sifted. At night, the island is lit by flickering lantern light. North is its own Instagram filter, a vision beyond betterment. If luxury is a matter of context – the right thing in the right place – and character, both are impeccably demonstrated in North’s barefoot attitude, which extends, equally, from the charming, chatty, dreadlocked barman who serves wickedly strong rum cocktails at the bar to the 11 thatched beachside villas, where we have the choice of lounging in 6,000sq feet of rosewood-floored space, an outdoor sala, a pool within a tropical garden, and even an air-conditioned screening room. A sense of generosity pervades every aspect here, whether in the fully stocked villa kitchen, or the resort’s flexible approach to menus and meal times, or in the availability of boats and equipment to snorkel or dive at a moment’s notice. In interactions with the staff (150 at last count, with villa butlers as standard), we’re addressed by our first names – standing on ceremony being the opposite of relaxing. “Too early for a cocktail?” asks the young, shorts-wearing general manager, Nick Solomon, as we settle on to sun loungers after a late breakfast. A different but equally persuasive iteration of luxury is to be found at Fregate Island Private. The island resort has been managed by Oetker Collection since 2013, and
ultimate seclusion North Island has only 11 beachside villas, each with 6,000sq feet of private outdoor space
its €4million (£2.8million) upgrade was used not only to improve infrastructure (unsexy stuff such as new generators and an upgraded water supply that make this dot in the middle of the ocean actually work) and renovate the 16 villas, but also to rebuild a pirate-styled cocktail bar, marina and yacht club. Under the new general manager, Wayne Kafcsak, Fregate now enjoys the elegance and formidably high service that come as standard at Oetker properties such as Le Bristol in Paris. What this translates to in practice is a hamper containing a white tablecloth, silver cutlery, chilled white wine and grilled prawns being carried, valiantly, down the 80 or so steps to our beach-side lunch spot by our friendly Sri Lankan butler. The sense of things being done well is hugely soothing, as are the upgraded, thatched, colonialstyled villas, set high on the hill overlooking a bright coin of water, and which feature canopied four-poster beds and dark, hardwood floors, as well as white sofas positioned by a wall of windows for sunset-gazing. Yet, for all its seamless, spoiling smartness, it is Fregate’s environment that makes it truly special. The majority of the island has been left undeveloped, including several tide-swept beaches, and a vine-draped banyan forest, where we eat breakfast in a canopy-height tree house one morning, kept company by several hundred fairy terns, perched still and serene as sculpted marble in the branches. Fregate doesn’t just feel wild but practically Jurassic. More than 2,000 giant tortoises populate the island, munching leaves under the cashew trees on the high, igneous outcrops or retreating, slowly, from the heat into mud baths. Rainbow-bright sunbirds dart from hibiscus flowers, while Seychelles warblers and magpie robins – both species rescued from near extinction by the island’s conservation efforts – hop inquisitively at the edge of our villa’s infinity pool. At night, the presence of giant millipedes and hermit crabs travelling across the paths create a rather crunchy obstacle course for our drive back to our villa (golf buggies are the millipedes’ main predator on Fregate). At Anse Macquereau beach, which we reserve exclusively for a breakfast swim one morning, the only prints on the
The majority of the island is undeveloped, including several tide-swept beaches and a vine-draped banyan forest where we breakfast with fairy terns wild at heart A private villa on Fregate Island Private (top). The island is home to abundant wildlife, such as fairy terns (above left) and fruit bats (above right). One of Fregate’s windswept beaches (right)
deep scoop of white sand are those of a small brown plover, pecking at the shoreline. After a morning spent with the conservation team, discussing the replanting of indigenous forest and a protection programme for Fregate’s hawksbill turtles, I suggest to Wayne that the resort is almost secondary to nature here. He nods. This is what tourism in the Seychelles is all about, he says. “The consensus amongst hoteliers is: ‘Let’s protect these islands, let’s keep this paradise pristine.’” For visitors here there can be no sweeter promise than that of paradise, not lost or found but safeguarded: perhaps the greatest luxury of all. ITC Luxury Travel (01244 355 527; itcluxurytravel.co.uk) offers a seven-night trip to North Island from £12,399 per person, based on two adults sharing, all-inclusive, and including economy flights and helicopter transfers. North Island (wilderness-collection.com; doubles from €5,530/£3,900 per night, including all meals, drinks and activities). Fregate Island Private (0049 7221 900 8071; fregate.com; doubles from €4,400/£3,097 per night, including all meals, drinks, and non-motorised watersports).
of the best SEYCHELLES hideaways for... nature
creamy beach and tropical gardens.
Named after an endemic palm,
The owners of Denis Island, which is
Deckenia is filled with furniture and art
renowned for its excellent game
sourced from the islands: a carved
fishing and diving, have been carefully
wooden palm leaf on a wall, tables
restoring the island’s ecology,
made from local tree-trunks, paintings
eradicating all rodents and alien plants.
in vibrant tropical colours. Even the
One can see why: the island’s native
wine cellar is lined with granite rocks
species are spectacular. Green and
typical of the area, and recycled glass.
hawksbill turtles lay between October
The decor, however, is slick: from
and December, with hatchlings
moulded white dining chairs and
scuttling seawards about eight weeks
Starck bar stools to fast Wi-Fi access
later. All year round there are turtles in
and a big modern kitchen. Best of all: a
the sheltered lagoon. There are
staff of six is on hand (including chef
endemic magpie robins, Seychelles
and butler); a 36ft boat is moored
white-eyes and the magnificent
nearby; kayaks, paddle boards,
paradise flycatcher. No one has to be a
snorkelling equipment and a pedal
twitcher to be charmed by the pure
boat are set by the beach; and access
white fairy terns that lay their eggs
is offered to the nearby Raffles spa
without any nests on an exposed
and Constance Lemuria golf course.
branch, or the white-tailed tropicbirds
In short, if offers the best of all worlds:
with crazy-haired chicks that make
hotel service, but in a home.
their home among the roots of the
Deckenia (00248 250 8337; deckenia.
spindly casuarina trees. And it wouldn’t
com; from £2,790 a night for up to 10
be the Seychelles without a resident colony of giant tortoises. Denis has 24 villas, which all face the beach and offer sumptuous indooroutdoor bathrooms and large
adults and two children, full-board) foliage. Here guests can play Crusoe
nature lover Denis island (above), on which 24 villas are surrounded by forest and beach. View from Deckenia (right) on Praslin. A turtle (below), a regular visitor to Desroches
and Cousteau. There are 14 world-class dive sites within easy reach, and
arguably the best canyon-, cave- and
Although its beach isn’t private, the
tunnel-diving in the Indian Ocean,
Four Seasons Resort, set in a secluded
among giant grouper, eagle rays and
bay in Petite Anse on Mahé, feels like
shoals of sweetlips. And with the reef
something of a hideaway. The 67 villas
line so close, snorkellers can enjoy
are spacious and allow for open-air
cent of it is grown or reared on the
the aptly named Aquarium, which
living, but are also totally private. There
island’s farm, making Denis its own
teems with Technicolor fish. Or take
are sunken baths overlooking waxy
perfect little world.
on the game fish from a sleek boat –
banana palms, outdoor showers and a
Denis Island (00 248 428 8963;
heavyweights such as barracuda and
reading pavilion with a day bed.
denisisland.com; doubles from £812 per
sailfish, and the fly-fisher’s holy grail,
comfortable bedrooms. There is a restaurant and pool, and a jogging trail, tennis and kayaking for the more active. The food is superlative: 90 per
night, full-board, in a beach villa)
There’s nothing like indulging the –
albeit short-lived – fantasy of owning a
tropical island. At just over 60 acres, Cousine Island is the perfect size for
Families are particularly welcome
bonefish. On terra firma, guests
here, as the resort has a full range of
crisscross the island by bike, stopping
services and treats for children, from
to picnic on a shell-strewn beach
babysitters to mini robes, and an
(there are seven miles of them),
explorer programme for adventurous
explore with a resident conservationist,
teens with activities such as rock
or head to the award-winning, rustic-
climbing and sailing.
luxe Escape Spa for pampering
The food draws on local ingredients:
Elemental Herbology and Dr Hauschka
dishes are packed with spices such as
treatments. Creole-inspired gourmet
cinnamon, lemon grass and vanilla,
food is served in the restaurant, in-villa
and the sashimi is made with local fish
Seychelles’ inner granite islands, with
or feet-in-the-sand. Stunning sunsets
such as mahi mahi and red snapper.
enough topography to make walkers
as standard, shoes optional.
Guests can try their hand in the
Desroches (0027 82 496 4570;
kitchen, too. Dave Minten, the head
chef, will give an entertaining lesson in
beach villa from £1,760, including meals)
how to make a delicious – and filling –
any dreamer’s tropical hideaway. It’s
MAHÉ Four Seasons
not just a flat coral island, but one of
feel like they are genuine explorers. With just four large villas, each with its own pool, and a spa and restaurant,
Cousine has been designed to offer
a VIlla holIdaY
the ultimate in privacy for those who want to hire the entire place – for up to 12 adults and four children. It’s an
Just 20 minutes from Praslin’s airport
Creole coconut fish curry. A sunset hike and a yoga session overlooking the resort will ease the conscience. The still waters in the bay are
is this new private villa, owned by
perfect for a family session of paddle
The archipelago’s farthest-flung private
Seychelloise residents Jacques Le
boarding, and a marine biologist can
island resort sits on a remote coral
Vieux and his wife, Aurore. Overlooking
take a group on a guided snorkelling
Cousine has been designed, and all of
atoll, a 45-minute flight from Mahé,
Anse Government beach – quiet,
trip. For something less active, the
the tourism revenue is channelled into
deliciously discreet and paparazzi free.
private and on the north side of the
spa’s 150-minute coco de mer
preserving the pristine habitat that is
It’s perfect for families and groups of
island – it’s a rare find in this part of
treatment is the perfect way to round
home to rare birds and turtles.
friends, as well as couples, with bright
the world: an island home that’s
off the day. Even the teenagers aren’t
Cousine Island (00 248 432 1107;
and airy three- to five-bedroom villas
contemporary, spacious and ideal for
left out here: they can try a coconut-oil
cousineisland.com; from £19,000
by the ocean. Hand-crafted casuarina-
groups who prefer to holiday in a
head massage with hair braiding.
a night, exclusive island rental, for 12
wood furniture and beds clad in crisp,
house, rather than a hotel. As well as
Four Seasons Resort Seychelles (00248
adults and four children, in four villas and
white Egyptian cotton are offset by
three big double bedrooms in the main
439 3000; fourseasons.com/seychelles;
the two-bedroom Presidential Villa, all
splashes of vibrant colour. Glass doors
villa, there are two small villas either
villas from £562 per night)
inclusive, including all watersports and
open on to a wooden deck and a
side: each with its own living space,
Reviews by Tim Ecott, Sarah Gilbert
helicopter transfers from Mahé)
Hockney-blue pool flanked by tropical
deck and pool, and views over the
and Jemima Sissons
ideal spot for a big birthday celebration or wedding party. Conservation is at the heart of how
Discover the Seychelles Tailor Made Journeys - Family Holidays - Honeymoons Giant Tortoises • World Famous Beaches Island Hopping • Gourmet Cuisine • Beautiful Golf Courses Pool Villas • Private Islands • Vallée de Mai Diving & Snorkelling • Manta Rays & Whale Sharks
lot 1 Kandolhu Island in the Maldives (below). A five-night holiday for two to the island is the biggest prize in this year’s auction
bid for a life-changing holiday
Take part in our silent auction for one of 26 luxury trips and you could support an inspiring organisation that helps injured former servicemen learn to ski – and then to gain the confidence to start a new career
o one who attended the 2015 Ultras Dinner at The Dorchester in May this year could fail to have been moved and inspired by a speech given by Martin Hewitt, a great sportsman and a former officer with the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan. Hewitt, who was shot in the shoulder by the Taliban in 2007, resulting in the permanent paralysis of his right arm, spoke on behalf of an extraordinary charity that Ultratravel is proud to support this year, particularly as it relies on activity travel to tackle the problems faced by wounded former servicemen. Skiing With Heroes, as Hewitt told the audience at the award ceremony, gives seriously injured ex-servicemen and women several key things they need to get their lives back on track: focus, challenge, confidence and, most importantly, a “sense of freedom and independence” – something that many of these formerly active, high-achieving men and women fear they will never experience again in the wake of their injuries. The problems faced by wounded veterans of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan after their discharge from the Armed Forces are well documented but, sadly, still continue. In addition to their injuries – which can range from multiple limb loss and debilitating combat stress – poor confidence and few contacts outside the military make finding employment extremely difficult, if not impossible. With the loss of their sense of identity, and the protective environment of the Armed Forces, wounded ex-servicemen not only have to deal with severe physical challenges, but also pain, boredom, loneliness, anger and low self-esteem. Such issues can damage their personal relationships, and lead to depression and substance abuse.
This is where Skiing With Heroes steps in with an innovative, long-term solution. The charity aims to rebuild the lives of such veterans through a process it calls “skihabilitation” – or rehabilitation through skiing. This involves a week of skiing in Klosters, Switzerland, for 26 wounded veterans, using adaptive ski equipment, 12 adaptive ski instructors and a team of 20 trained volunteer “ski buddies” to help them learn, or relearn, to ski with their disability. Not only is this a marvellous week of fun, bonding and challenges for all those involved, it also helps, crucially, to rebuild the veterans’ confidence and physical strength – a vital first step towards independence. The programme doesn’t end there. On the veterans’ return from the skiing week, Skiing With Heroes’ extensive contacts in the business community helps them to prepare for employment through a personal programme of mentoring, training and networking. Skiing With Heroes has, in its short life, been a spectacular success story. In 2013, its first year, it found full-time employment for veterans who were looking for employment while learning to cope with their life-changing injuries. To date, it has helped 55 veterans rebuild their lives. One veteran, “KJ”, says: “Skiing With Heroes allowed me to put some demons to bed and let me achieve a dream I never thought might become a reality.” Skiing with Heroes relies entirely on donations. It employs one full-time member of staff and most of the other people who work with the charity do so on a voluntary basis, which means the money raised from this silent auction will go directly where it should: to war veterans who want nothing more than a sense of freedom and independence again.
HOW TO BID We are inviting you, our readers, to bid for the 26 lots listed on the following page, erring, please, on the generous side. To take part, send your bid, stating clearly which prize and lot number you are bidding for, how much you are bidding, and your name, address, email address and telephone number, to firstname.lastname@example.org. The winning bidder for each lot will be the Heroic eFFort Martin Hewitt (above) of Skiing With Heroes at the Ultras Dinner. An injured veteran (below) skis at Klosters
highest received by Skiing With Heroes by midnight on Saturday October 31, 2015. The highest bidder for each lot will be contacted and asked to send payment within two weeks. On receipt of the cheque, each winner will be sent the prize vouchers by registered post. For more information about Skiing With Heroes, please see skiingwithheroes.com
*Each holiday is for two, and is subject to separate terms and conditions, in addition to the general competition conditions available at telegraph.co.uk/ silentauction or by emailing conditions@ skiingwithheroes.com. This auction is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man aged 18 years or over, except employees of Skiing With Heroes, Ultratravel and Telegraph Media Group Limited, their families, agents or anyone else professionally associated with the auction. Rooms and flights are subject to availability and, unless otherwise stated, all flights are economy class. Bidders may bid for more than one lot, but may
LOTS On Offer
Lot 1 A five-night holiday
Lot 7 A four-night
in the Maldives
ski-stay in America
Lot 19 A two-night stay on
Kuoni, voted Best Large Luxury Tour
Four nights at Omni Mount
the French Riviera
Operator – and Universal resorts – are
Washington Resort, New Hampshire,
Two nights at The Château Saint-
offering five nights at Kandolhu Island
in a Deluxe Room, including breakfast,
Martin & Spa in a Junior Suite,
in a Duplex Pool Villa, including
alpine lift tickets or Nordic trail pass
including buffet breakfast, or
breakfast, seaplane transfers and
for two, and resort fee.
economy flights from the UK.
Donated by Omni Hotels & Resorts
Donated by Kuoni and
Minimum bid £800
Lot 22 TOP LOTS Bid for a stay in Le Bristol in Paris (above), a four-night cruise on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2 (left), or five nights at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in Dubai (below)
Universal Resorts, Maldives Minimum bid £4,000
Lot 8 A one-night stay in London One night at Corinthia Hotel London in
continental breakfast in your suite. Donated by Oetker Collection Minimum bid £400 Lot 20 A choice of two-night stays Two nights’ b&b in any of the 500
Lot 2 A week’s holiday in Dubai
a Penthouse suite, including full
Five nights in a one-bedroom duplex
English breakfast and a three-course
suite at the Burj Al Arab Jumeirah in
dinner for two, with wine chosen by
Dubai – voted Best Hotel in the World
Corinthia’s sommelier, in either The
(There are four holidays offered in
at the 2015 Ultras – including
Northall restaurant or Massimo
breakfast, with return business-class
Restaurant & Bar.
Donated by Global Hotel Alliance
Emirates flights from London.
Donated by Corinthia Hotel London
Minimum bid £300 per voucher
Donated by Jumeirah and Emirates
Minimum bid £1,200
Minimum bid £8,000
hotels belonging to Global Hotel Alliance, the world’s largest collection of independent luxury hotels.
Lot 21 A one-night stay in Lot 9 A night’s spa-stay in London
Lot 3 An eight-night safari
A one-night stay for two guests in a
One night, between Monday and
Deluxe Room at the Four Seasons
Thursday, at Dormy House Hotel and
Two nights in Tarangire National Park
Hotel London Park Lane, including
Spa in a Splendid Room, including full
staying at Sanctuary Swala Camp, two
English breakfast and two 50-minute
nights at Sanctuary Serengeti
Migration Camp and two nights at
Donated by Four Seasons Hotels
Donated by Dormy House Hotel & Spa
Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp,
Minimum bid £300
with a night in Arusha or Nairobi at
Minimum bid £300
English breakfast and £50 towards
dinner in The Potting Shed restaurant.
the beginning and end of the safari.
Lot 22 A two-night stay in Paris
The prize includes all internal flights
Lot 10 A two-night gourmet
Two nights at Le Bristol Paris in a
and transfers, park fees, game drives
break in Jersey
Prestige Room, including breakfast.
and full board while in the camps, and
Two nights at The Atlantic Hotel,
Donated by Oetker Collection
b&b in Arusha or Nairobi.
including English breakfast and dinner
Minimum bid £600
Donated by Abercrombie & Kent
(one night at the Michelin-starred
and Sanctuary Retreats
Ocean Restaurant and one at Mark
Lot 23 A two-night stay in
Minimum bid £5,000
Jordan on the Beach, with half a bottle
Ultratravel’s Best Hotel in Asia
of champagne) and a Group B hire car.
Two nights at The Peninsula
Lot 4 A four-night cruise
Donated by The Atlantic Hotel
Hong Kong in a Deluxe Room with
Four nights on Cunard’s Queen Mary 2
Minimum bid £500
daily breakfast. Donated by The Peninsula Hong Kong
or Queen Elizabeth in a Balcony
Minimum bid £400
Stateroom, sailing from Southampton,
Lot 11 A three-night stay in Crete
with the option of choosing from a
Three nights at the Elounda Peninsula
cruise to Hamburg, Guernsey or
All Suite Hotel in a Peninsula
Lot 24 A night’s spa-stay
Bruges, including all meals and
Collection Suite, including breakfast.
Donated by Elounda Peninsula
Donated by Cunard
All Suite Hotel
Minimum bid £1,000
Minimum bid £500
Lot 5 A five-night stay in
Lot 12 A two-night ski-stay
including VIP welcome and breakfast
Donated by The Ritz London
50-minute spa treatments.
at restaurant Joël Robuchon.
Minimum bid £600
Donated by Four Seasons Hotels
Five nights at the Banyan Tree
Two nights at Viceroy Snowmass near
Donated by Hotel Metropole
Seychelles in a Hillside Pool Villa,
Aspen, in a Studio, including breakfast.
Lot 17 A two-night stay in Florence
including breakfast at Au Jardin
Donated by Viceroy Hotels and Resorts
Minimum bid £600
Two nights at Hotel Lungarno,
d’Epices restaurant and private airport
Minimum bid £500
A one-night stay in a Danube River-
View Room at the Four Seasons Hotel Gresham Palace Budapest, including English breakfast and two
transfers in Mahé.
and Resorts Minimum bid £300
Continentale or Portrait Firenze, in a
Lot 25 A two-night stay in Davos
Lot 15 A two-night stay
room overlooking the river, and
Two nights at the InterContinental
Donated by Banyan Tree Hotels
Lot 13 A three-night stay
Davos in a deluxe room, including
overlooking the Abu Dhabi F1 track
Two nights at Gleneagles, home of the
Donated by Lungarno Collection
Minimum bid £2,000
Three nights at the Yas Viceroy Abu
2014 Ryder Cup, with breakfast, dinner
Minimum bid £500
Donated by InterContinental Davos
Dhabi in a Deluxe Room, including
and two rounds of golf for each guest.
Lot 6 A five-night stay in Phuket
breakfast at Origins.
Donated by Gleneagles
Lot 18 A three-night stay in
Five nights in a Pool Villa at the
Donated by Viceroy Hotels and Resorts
Minimum bid £700
Lot 26 A two-night stay in Capri
Banyan Tree Phuket, including
Minimum bid £500
Three nights at Per Aquum Niyama
Two nights at the Capri Tiberio Palace,
Lot 16 A two-night stay in London
Maldives in a Beach Studio with pool,
including buffet breakfast in the
breakfast at Watercourt restaurant
Minimum bid £400
and private airport transfers in Phuket.
Lot 14 A two-night stay in
Two nights at The Ritz London,
restaurant or continental breakfast in
Donated by Banyan Tree Hotels
including English breakfast, dinner in
Donated by Per Aquum Hotels
your double room.
Two nights at the Hotel Metropole
The Ritz Restaurant on one night and
Donated by Capri Tiberio Palace
Minimum bid £2,000
Monte-Carlo in a Deluxe Junior Suite,
afternoon tea on the other day.
Minimum bid £900
Minimum bid £400
dream sUITE TRIBECA PENTHOUSE, The Greenwich Hotel, New York The suiTe When Robert De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel opened in 2008, it was an instant hit: a homely yet arty brickbuilt hub for moneyed hipsters looking to stay in a grand but relaxed New York home. The TriBeCa Penthouse suite, which opened last year, is not just the biggest in New York (6,800sq feet over two floors), but the most individual. Created by the Japanese architect Tatsuro Miki and the Belgian designer Axel Vervoordt, the three-bedroom, two living-room pied-à-terre takes its inspiration from the Japanese aesthetic sense of wabi, which advocates stripping everything back to its most basic and authentic in order to achieve calm. Each surface, object and texture is thus carefully considered. Roughly plastered walls are coloured in earthy sands, rusts, charcoals and greys. Floors are laid with polished concrete, stripped wood and worn stone that echo the industrial buildings that once lined Tribeca’s streets. Ceilings are formed from old New York industrial beams, battered old wooden tabletops from Union Square market, and cracked railway sleepers. It’s a place that oozes warmth and serenity, from its linen-covered sofas and bucolic wooden-hewn stools to the rough-cut organic soap, and the single flowers and stems of foliage placed in simple pottery to show off their beauty.
The sTyle Quintessential Vervoordt: an aesthete who says he values his collection of pebbles and pieces of wood as much as he does art, who describes feeling “a deep emotion when I see the nobility in poor, humble objects like a shepherd’s table carved by time… that would last generations”. Although its interiors are unlike any other, what makes this penthouse breathtaking is the 4,000sq feet of private gardens, which wrap around the living quarters and continue on the roof above. Look out of any window and there are plants, from hedging and ground cover to a canopy of trailing wisteria which shades the hot tub, the outdoor fireplace, the dining table seating 20, the sprawling sofas, and the outdoor bar, with its industrial-chic stools and barbecue. Most guests use the space to entertain: Italian cuisine can be ordered from the Pure and simPle The penthouse has a tactile, pared-back aesthetic, from the second living room (top) to the rooftop terrace (above, left, and below) and the kitchen (above, right)
Locanda Verde restaurant downstairs, and a chef can be sent up to create bespoke menus in the kitchen or at the barbecue. The hoTel More like the private home of a well-travelled aesthete than a hotel, The Greenwich features a library of antique books, Persian carpets, Chinese cartoons and paintings by De Niro. Hotel guests have exclusive use of a drawing room with wood fire, as well as a landscaped, vine-covered courtyard, Italianate cloisters with murals of scenes from The Third Man, and a four-storey portrait of James Dean by BJ, the American graffiti artist. The Shibui Spa, with large pool, gym and treatment rooms, has a similar aesthetic to that of the penthouse: housed within the frame of a 250-year-old wood and bamboo Japanese barn, lit by delicate reed light fittings, and featuring shiatsu treatments and wooden soaking tubs. Who goes According to one paparazzo, one of a crowd hanging outside on a Friday night in the hope of snapping a well-known face, “everyone and anyone who is famous. I’ve seen Beyoncé here, Jennifer Aniston, Katy Perry, the Olsen twins, Gwyneth Paltrow. Celebs just crawl around this place.” The restaurant is a hot New York hangout, serving sensational Italian dishes from rabbit terrine with home-made pickles to tagliatelle with lamb and mint ragù. loCATioN A block from the Hudson River in fashionable TriBeCa, which is near SoHo, the West Village and the Meatpacking District, and is 10 minutes’ walk from Battery Park. CosT $15,000 a night, inclusive of return airport transfers, two one-hour spa treatments, four hours in a chauffeured limousine, snacks and non-alcoholic drinks, daily fruit bowl and
edited by Lisa GrainGer
flowers, Wi-Fi, and use of an iPad and iPod. ADDRess The Greenwich Hotel, 377 Greenwich Street, New York (01 212 941 8900; thegreenwichhotel.com)
inside THe £34,000,000 privaTe JeT
Crisis? What crisis? At Europe’s biggest private-jet show, planes were bigger and more opulent than ever. We stepped into one of the fnest
f just the thought of someone spending the equivalent of the GDP of Uruguay on a private jet raises your blood pressure, then visiting Geneva’s annual EBACE aeroplane market is not advisable. Parked on a paved hangar-sized area alongside the airport’s international runway this summer were 58 private planes and helicopters, both for charter and sale. While most were slick little jets created for businessmen to nip to meetings, others, like this Embraer Lineage 1000E (embraerexecutivejets. com), were built for what Simon Wheatley, from the UK broker Air Partner, calls “journeys for families, royalties or politicians and their entourages who want to travel in style”. Although the plane costs £8,300 an hour to charter, last year there was a nine per cent increase in demand for these “VIP airliners”, particularly from the Middle East and Asian markets. “These are people who want the best in life, at any cost,” Wheatley says, “and they don’t seem to have been affected by the financial crisis. For instance, there are two Boeing 747-8 BBJs currently being fitted in Hamburg, whose bodies have cost about £214 million and whose interiors could cost an additional £128 million. And up to five 1000Es are built a year. So it’s not a dying market.”
the dining experienCe Seats can be swivelled so four passengers can eat together on elegantly laminated wooden tables with fine crockery. The kitchen has both convection and microwave ovens, an espresso-maker, plus a dishwasher (the latest Lufthansa Technik aircraft-safe model costs €50,000). Gourmet food, usually vacuum-packed before departure, is heated and served on board, with fine wine.
the master bedroom The cabin of the Lineage 1000E is divided into five areas, one of which has a queen-sized bed and walk-in shower: one of the biggest luxuries on an aircraft because of the weight of carrying water. Up front are two additional lavatories.
the living area The central zone (8ft 10in wide by 6ft 6in high) is fitted with white leather banquettes and fine wool carpets (although buyers can choose from 700 fabrics and 60 carpets). Extras include iPod docks, five televisions, surround-sound speakers, four Blu-ray players, a satellite telephone and Wifi. Unusually, the cabin has 323 cubic ft of on-board luggage space, and 443 cubic ft in the hold. “It’s not big enough to take a racehorse or grand piano,” says Wheatley. “For that, you’d need an additional freighter. But it can take mountains of luggage, so is ideal for shopping trips to Europe from the Middle East.”
the teChnologY It’s the longest VIP jet (84.3ft) permitted to land at small airports such as London City and Aspen. “While there are about 500 airports for scheduled planes in the USA,” explains Wheatley, “there are more than 5,000 that can take smaller planes, and 4,200 in Europe, which give passengers of private and VIP jets enormous flexibility.” Of the 40,000 charter flights taken every month, about 7,000 are made by a Lineage, or a similar-sized jet, such as a BBJ, Gulfstream or Falcon 7X. “Passengers want comfort - and they want safety. This has General Electric engines, Honeywell technology and is quiet and fuel-efficient. So it’s popular.”
A plane of this size normally seats 90; this carries a maximum of 19, in seats that can be converted into flat beds, or double beds if four are swivelled and joined.
Although it doesn’t have the same range as a Gulfstream 650, which could do Los Angeles to Melbourne non-stop, the Lineage 1000E has a range of 5,300 miles, at a maximum speed of 543mph. Guests chartering a plane one way will have to pay for a return flight; London to Dubai would cost about £125,000 for a 7.5hr flight, and London-Geneva from £32,000 for a 1.5hr flight (through airpartner.com).
the staFF As well as two pilots and two stewards, to serve up to 19 passengers, for long journeys an additional pilot is taken. The front of the plane has a separate cabin in which crew can rest.
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eiffel view Looking out from Le Jules Verne in Paris, the Tower’s secondfloor restaurant
co r ki n g se rv i ce
nce, villa companies provided just houses – with a housekeeper thrown in if you were lucky. Today, as increasing numbers of
wealthy travellers opt to stay in private homes rather than hotels, the size of villas and the range of services on offer has improved substantially. Tuscany Now (tuscanynow.com), which manages more than 150 high-end villas in italy, including la Tocella (below), with a 62-acre garden, lemon groves and 32ft pool, has seen demand for experiences grow so much that from this month it will have an extra 30 on offer. “People now don’t want just gorgeous houses, they want to learn, to explore, to experience the area they’re in,” says Simon Ball, who co-founded the company in 1990. “we have always offered a cook, a babysitter, a coach and, of course, a 24-hour concierge. But now we can arrange local experts and lessons, too: a truffle-hunter to explore forests, a vintner to lead private tours to the $100-million Antinori cellars, a fiat 500 in which to explore lucca, an ice-cream expert to make gelato, a private shopper to introduce guests to artisinal craftsmen. we can even arrange a visit to the Pope – although, of course, we can’t guarantee he’ll talk to you.”
As demands become more elaborate, so do
dining destination gourmet spots worth travelling to Le JuLes Verne, Paris EiffEl TowEr, Avenue Gustave Eiffel, Paris (0033 1 4555 6144; lejulesverne-paris.com)
services. red Savannah (redsavannah.com), for instance, found a 1986 Alfa romeo Spider for a guest a lot of bottle Beatriz Machado in The Yeatman cellars
basis Pascal Féraud takes charge.
paparazzi was making a sudden
Though our six-course tasting menu
effort to document the anniversary
included some enjoyable dishes –
dinners and hopeful proposals that are
to drive during his stay at a villa and called on a resident expert ornithologist to guide bird-lovers for an afternoon. family-villa company oliver’s Travels (oliverstravels.com) has introduced “Sandcastle Butlers” to create sculptures on the beach for young
sautéed scallop with silky whipped
a nightly occurrence.
Why go? This restaurant is in an iconic
potatoes and Mont d’Or cheese,
The details Bookings should be made
rental homes that cost €150,000 a week, often
building – the Eiffel Tower, on the
followed by tender veal with asparagus
up to three months in advance
supplies yoga teachers, private surf coaches and
– it was not, we felt, Michelin standard
(lejulesverne-paris.com). A three-
entertainment, as well as yachts and jets. “Guests
The experience Exciting, right from the
(the restaurant has held a star for
course lunch costs from £75; at dinner
don’t just want a tennis court any more,” says the
start. After bypassing the crowds and
years, but one wonders if the judges
a five-course tasting menu costs from
company’s co-founder Judy Menier, “they want
clearing airport-style security, diners
were dazzled by the views). I barely
£135 (plus £70 with paired wines).
rise in a private windowed elevator to
touched my sickly Cold Peppermint
Where to stay The Shangri-La’s Eiffel
a platform 410ft above Paris, with
cocktail. But the signature Tower Nut
Tower-facing rooms offer unmatched
spectacular views. Though window
dessert was luscious and delicious.
views. The listed 19th-century building,
seats are hard to secure, diners set
The highlight The setting. From up
originally home to Prince Roland
slightly back perhaps enjoy a more
above we saw dusk stretch lazily over
Bonaparte, also houses an elegant pool
dramatic vista, fragmented by the
the city and threads of streetlights
and the Michelin-starred Shang Palace
tower’s hulking girders and cogs that
slowly setting Haussmann’s boulevards
Chinese restaurant (shangri-la.com/
slowly heave the lifts up and down.
aflame. Then, when darkness fell,
paris; 0033 1 5367 1998; doubles from
The food Lauded French chef Alain
20,000 white lights danced along the
£480). Return Eurostar fares cost from
Ducasse heads up this sky-high
tower for five minutes each hour; from
£72 (03448 224 777; eurostar.com).
restaurant, although on a day-to-day
within, it was as though a battalion of
guests. SJ Villas (sjvillas.co.uk), which has on its books
a world-class coach.”
TrAveL BY n UM B ers
Passengers predicted to use UK airports in 2030
Percentage of tourists worldwide who visit Africa
Cost in pounds of protecting a tiger for a year in India
Price in dollars of Katafanga Island, one of the last freehold islands in Fiji
Vineyards in England and Wales
The new Gianoi handbag is a handy accessory for those on the move, who would prefer to see (rather than to hear) incoming communication. While it looks like a classic, each is implanted with a phone charger and a gold-plated logo that can be programmed through an app to flash gently when a message, email or call is received. Bags range from a boxy snakeskin clutch to this elegant formal model (£980; gianoi.com). ultratravel 97
orn John Stephens in Ohio, the 38-year-old singer-songwriter has won nine Grammys, one Golden Globe and one Academy Award. He has sung with and played the
piano for artists such as Alicia Keys, Lauryn Hill and Kanye West. Last year, his song “All of Me” topped the charts in eight countries, including the US. Next year Legend will host an 11-day Four Seasons jet trip (thelegendexperience.com), taking 50 guests on a series of private visits that will include wineries in the Napa Valley, the Aston Martin factory in the UK and Valentino’s atelier in Italy. How many holidays do you take? My wife Chrissy [Teigen, a model] and I usually take at least two a year: one around Christmas and one during the summer. We’ve been to some beautiful places, from Italy and the South of France to the Maldives, Thailand, and Turks and Caicos. We often return to places where I’ve been on tour or Chrissy has worked on photo shoots; our business trips are good research for holidays. Where would you love to go back to? The views are stunning, the food is delicious and the people are warm and friendly. Villa d’Este (villadeste.com) is the place to stay, and Il Gatto Nero (ristorantegattonero.com) the place to eat.
The magical Lake Como, where we got married.
‘I love old cities. Growing up in the US, you are surrounded by buildings from the last century. You Europeans are spoilt’
Travelling life John Legend
The American singer-songwriter on wining and dining in Napa, a hair-raising drive on the Amalfi coast, and proposing in the Maldives Which places on next year’s jet trip are you
in St-Tropez, La Vague d’Or (residencepinede.
(babbonyc.com), Le Bernardin (le-bernardin.com),
there, and loved it – so I took her back, and asked
most looking forward to?
com). In Italy, the Hotel Splendido in Portofino
Del Posto (delposto.com), Frank (frankrestaurant.
her to commit to us spending our lives together.
Lake Como, although Napa Valley will be lovely,
(belmond.com), which serves our favourite pizza
com), Momofuku Noodle Bar (momofuku.com)
The toughest journey you’ve ever been on?
too. It is such a beautiful part of the country, with
in the world, or Trattoria Pandemonio in Florence
and Dirty French (dirtyfrench.com).
Hiking and riding elephants in Thailand at a luxury
some of America’s greatest vineyards and
(trattoriapandemonio.it), which is a mom-and
What’s your idea of luxury when travelling?
tented camp in Chiang Rai was the closest we got
restaurants. For people like me who love good
pop-style place with great pasta and Florentine
Attentive, intelligent service; tasteful design and
to camping. We fed the elephants they take care
weather, scenery, wine and food, it’s fantastic.
steak. In Tokyo, which may be the best restaurant
exceptional food and wine. We just got back from
of and took them to watering holes.
Do you travel light?
city in the world, one of our favourites is the dim
St-Tropez, where we stayed at the Villa Belrose
Favourite things you have bought abroad?
A little on the heavier side, although no one likes
sum brunch at Sense at the Mandarin Oriental
(villa-belrose.com), which has incredible staff, and
Some cool pottery in Marrakech. It’s so nice being
to admit that. My big luggage is Tumi (tumi.com),
the Hotel Caruso (belmond.com) in Ravello,
in cities that are old. Growing up in America you
which makes durable luggage that can withstand
What’s your idea of a perfect day on holiday?
where we were driven along the coast on
are surrounded by buildings from the last century.
my hectic travel schedule. My favourite smaller
So much of our holidays revolve around eating
incredibly small, twisting roads – even more
You Europeans are spoilt.
bags are by Tom Ford (tomford.com), which have
great food, which is why Italy is such a great place
winding than where we live in the Hollywood Hills.
The best airline in the world?
the best zips and look so luxurious and bold.
to go. We also love to get some sun and maybe
The most glamorous room you have
Emirates is pretty great (especially the first-class
Your favourite spots for a weekend away?
take a boat trip, and in the late afternoon take a
ever stayed in?
suites) although Singapore Airlines is, too. When
When we’re in New York, we like to get away to
stroll to go shopping and see some museums.
I don’t know that I look for “glamorous” when I
it comes to US airlines, I think American has the
the Berkshires, which are a few hours north of the
Then we take a nap to get ready for a perfect
travel – that sounds a bit like Vegas to me.
best planes for first class, although I love the fact
city. We stay at the Wheatleigh (wheatleigh.com):
dinner, then stumble into a small bar for a late-
Maybe the room with the stripper pole at the
that Delta has Wi-Fi on every plane.
a small hotel with a great restaurant. Or, if we go
night drink before bed.
Palms… (I’m joking).
The best places to stay in the UK?
to Napa Valley, we like Meadowood (meadowood.
Favourite spots to eat in America?
Do you like adventure trips?
The Corinthia (corinthia.com) in London. It’s very
com), whose Michelin-star restaurant is one of
Meadowood in Napa Valley (meadowood.com),
Not really. We like relaxing on holiday. The
classic, the service is great – and it’s near
the best in the world.
Alinea in Chicago (alinearestaurant.com) –
Maldives are the most remote place we’ve been.
everything you want to be close to.
Favourite restaurants abroad?
possibly my favourite restaurant in the world –
I proposed to my wife there, at the Anantara
Where would you next like to perform?
In France, Alain Ducasse’s restaurant at Le
Giorgio Baldi (giorgio-baldi.com) and Via Veneto
India, which I have never visited.
Meurice in Paris (dorchestercollection.com) and
in LA (viaveneto.us). In New York, Babbo
She’d done a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot
Interview by Lisa Grainger
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