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AuTumn 2015

t rave ll ers’ ta l es

david beckham iris apfel john legend

rome alone stanley stewart’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


27 36

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 Not to be sold separately from The Daily Telegraph. Ultratravel is a registered trademark licensed to The Daily Telegraph by PGP Media Limited

ultratravel 15


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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


John Legend

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

ultratravel 17


3 of life’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.

ultratravel 19

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. 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.


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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Navy nylon-elastane swimsuit £250, Lisa Marie Fernandez ( White polyamide-and-silk trousers £1,130, Antonio Berardi (020 7235 9153; 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; Gilt-metal 1990s Chanel-logo earrings £795, Susan Caplan (020 7734 8040; Nappa-leather shoulder bag £1,875, Bottega Veneta (020 7629 5598; bottegaveneta. com). Rose-gold-tinted framed sunglasses £495, Cutler and Gross (


Shot on “La Sultana” yacht, available for charter in 2016 in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean, from €225,000 per week (

decked out

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 ( His film, Outlaws, is out on September 22 and can be viewed at

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; 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; 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; 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; 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; BY LAURA LOVETT

ultratravel 25


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);

26 ultratravel

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;

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;

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 ight and hotel together. To ďŹ nd out more and to book visit


Silversea Cruises sails to over 800 destinations on all 7 continents. For more information please call Silversea on 0844 251 0841, visit or contact your travel agent.


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; 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; 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; 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; 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; 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;

ultratravel 29

Travel Through the Sofitel Collection Paris, miami, marrakech, bora bora‌ Discover our magnifique addresses around the world on



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 (, 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


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 ( The

bodyguards. Oh my god, he was

owner has exquisite taste and mixes

drop-dead gorgeous.

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 ( 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

( 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

( iris, a documentary

the most wonderful shop in

Lauder and even OJ Simpson back in

about her life, is on DVD (

the day, who came with Nicole and

Interview by John O’Ceallaigh

Barcelona, a lifestyle place called

ultratravel 31

John Simpson

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.

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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


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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Celia Walden


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. 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


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


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

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A tour of Africa in a Cessna light aircraft, staying in remote bush camps and private beach villas, reveals the continent’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

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ULT RA A dvenT URe



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,

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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.”

DAY 10

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; 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


a return to THE BIG EASY

Kris DaviDson

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

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CHANDELIERS, MOSAICS AND ALL THAT JAZZ A musical brunch at Arnaud’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

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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.

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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

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Start with a Remington cocktail (mezcal,

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smart (seersucker and bow ties for boys).

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209 Bourbon Street (001 504 525 2021;

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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


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


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; 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

audubON COttages

Try the sabich: fried aubergine, preserved

from The Turtle Bar in the gardens and

Brennan’s (

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;

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 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

( 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

( And sup on a

square rOOt

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

INterNatIONal hOuse

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. or

509 Dauphine Street (001 504 586 1516;; doubles from $269)

46 ultratravel

(, an elegantly




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

48 ultratravel

medusa film

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

ultratravel 49

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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; 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 (

52 ultratravel

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 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;

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

CaSino ludoViSi

rarely opened Cappella Niccolina, as well

as Bernini’s extraordinary sculptures

Home to the Boncompagni Ludovisi family,

as the Raphael Rooms and Sistine Chapel.

( 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

palazzo Colonna

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

( 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; 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;

century visitors knelt before this ceiling,

(0039 06 6880 9035; chiostrodel

which was considered the equal of the also has apartments to rent.

Galleria BorGheSe

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.

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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;

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;


54 ultratravel

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

Portrait roma

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;

ViLLa nocetta

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;



PaLazzo PariSi



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

at sea

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


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



TO FIND OUT MORE visit or or call 02380 682154


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


Jaco Island

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

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.





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.






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.

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

between performances.

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 (

ultratravel 59

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.


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 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.




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 (

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 (

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 (

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 (

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 (

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 (


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 (

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 (

ultratravel 61


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.

62 ultratravel

Aussie gold Bennelong restaurant in Sydney Opera House, overseen by chef Peter Gilmore. With its soaring interiors and harbour views, it’s widely regarded as the most beautiful place to eat in the city

ultratravel 63


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 or by calling 0808 163 6126* For more information and ideas on culinary adventures in Western Australia, visit *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.


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; 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 ( ultratravel 65


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


Luke Rayment

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 (

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 ( 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 ( 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 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 ( 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-

( 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.

(, whose menu, designed

In Darwin, try Pee Wee’s at the Point (peewees.

around the sharing concept, is inventive and for its banana prawns, blue swimmer crab,

diverse. Beccofino ( 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, 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 ( as I’ve worked there

New South Wales

twice. It serves really good Italian cuisine, the views

Lennox HaStIe

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,

Western Australia

SHane oSBoRn

using different woods for different dishes In Sydney a favourite is The Bridge Room (the

Shane Osborn made his name in Britain by winning, 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

( 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 (

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

Jock ZonFRILLo

the Adelaide Central Market and discover all the

Lalla Rookh ( 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 ( With outstanding views, it is the perfect

66 ultratravel

Ben mcGee/StuDIo-GRam

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




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 ( 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

( in Chippendale nails it.

exceptional. Proud Mary Café (proudmarycoffee.

Its killer wine list and laid-back atmosphere also in Fitzroy is ideal for cake and great coffee.

make it a Sydney stalwart. In Paddington 10 William Street ( 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,


Sat BaInS

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 ( is a must. I fell in

I love Supernormal ( 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 ( at Glaziers, 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 ( 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 (, whose vines thrive in the

Melbourne, The Kettle Black (

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 (, 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 produces award-winning cheeses

Bar & Grill (

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 (, 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 and Arbory ( at Flinders

“on trend”, delivering the types of food you might

Street Station. Eau de Vie ( 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 at Burnham Beeches is on a farm in at Ethos (,

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.

ultratravel 67

haute cuisine

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

68 ultratravel


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 Australia’s finest produce in a day, from award-winning wine to wagyu beef

ultratravel 69


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

70 ultratravel

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; one-day wine tours with a Master of Wine cost from £370. Austravel (0808 163 6126; 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 ( 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;

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

ultratravel 71


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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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

guy lavoipierre

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. for A$895/£417 per person per day, for

Air Adventure (0061 3 5572 1371; offers the

a seven-hour tour, excluding alcoholic drinks.

all-inclusive Great Wagyu Adventure from AU$1,000/£475 per person.

ultratravel 73


G OUR M ET dR i v E

Meals onWHeels

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 (, 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 ( 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 ( The four-hour cellar experience at Vasse Felix ( 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 ( 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 ( 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; 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 ( ultratravel 77


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 cost from £225 for a

it happens I do recognise the name of our first stop.

half-day. Austravel (0808 163 6126;

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 (

78 ultratravel

vine, all vine John Baldwin with one of his two renovated 1962 Daimlers in Barossa and outside Ch창teau Tanunda (top left) Photograph CinDY Fan

ultratravel 79


The SeychelleS

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

ultratravel 81

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

82 ultratravel

ultimate seclusion North Island has only 11 beachside villas, each with 6,000sq feet of private outdoor space

ultratravel 83

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; 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 (; doubles from €5,530/£3,900 per night, including all meals, drinks and activities). Fregate Island Private (0049 7221 900 8071;; doubles from €4,400/£3,097 per night, including all meals, drinks, and non-motorised watersports).

84 ultratravel


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


Four SeaSonS

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.; 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)


Deckenia House




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


North Island

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; three-bedroom

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

10 miles

not just a flat coral island, but one of

Indian Ocean

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

50 miles

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; 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;;

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

86 ultratravel

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 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

*Each holiday is for two, and is subject to separate terms and conditions, in addition to the general competition conditions available at silentauction or by emailing conditions@ 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

ultratravel 89

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

this category.)

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

the Cotswolds

Lot 3 An eight-night safari

A one-night stay for two guests in a

One night, between Monday and

in Tanzania

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

spa treatments.

Migration Camp and two nights at

Donated by Four Seasons Hotels

Donated by Dormy House Hotel & Spa

Sanctuary Ngorongoro Crater Camp,

and Resorts

Minimum bid £300

with a night in Arusha or Nairobi at

Minimum bid £300

English breakfast and £50 towards

Lot 4

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.

in Budapest


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.

the Seychelles

near Aspen

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-

Lot 2

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

in Perthshire

including breakfast.

Davos in a deluxe room, including

& Resorts

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

the Maldives

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,

including breakfast.

restaurant or continental breakfast in

Donated by Banyan Tree Hotels


including English breakfast, dinner in

Donated by Per Aquum Hotels

your double room.

& Resorts

Two nights at the Hotel Metropole

The Ritz Restaurant on one night and

& Resorts

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

90 ultratravel

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;

ultratravel 93

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 seats

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.

the roUte



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

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.

ultratravel 95

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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 (, 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;

services. red Savannah (, 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 ( 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

second floor.

– it was not, we felt, Michelin standard

( 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 (

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;

restaurant, although on a day-to-day

within, it was as though a battalion of

John O’Ceallaigh

guests. SJ Villas (, which has on its books

a world-class coach.”

TrAveL BY n UM B ers

320 million

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

25 million

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; 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 (, 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 ( is the place to stay, and Il Gatto Nero ( 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.

(, Le Bernardin (,

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 (, Frank (frankrestaurant.

her to commit to us spending our lives together.

Lake Como, although Napa Valley will be lovely,

(, which serves our favourite pizza

com), Momofuku Noodle Bar (

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 (

Hiking and riding elephants in Thailand at a luxury

some of America’s greatest vineyards and

(, 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

(, which has incredible staff, and

Some cool pottery in Marrakech. It’s so nice being

to admit that. My big luggage is Tumi (,


the Hotel Caruso ( 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 (, 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 (

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 ( in London. It’s very

com), whose Michelin-star restaurant is one of

Meadowood in Napa Valley (,

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 ( –

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 ( and Via Veneto

Kihavah (

India, which I have never visited.

Meurice in Paris ( and

in LA ( In New York, Babbo

She’d done a Sports Illustrated swimsuit shoot

Interview by Lisa Grainger

98 ultratravel


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Autumn Ultratravel 2015