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Do they really work?




The Daily Telegraph

lm, Dubai Sofitel The Pa bai’s Palm 5-star resort on Du This unique luxury nce la ba t ec rf pe the Jumeirah provides re, he sp mo at d an isl between a relaxed nce. ga icated French ele and Sofitel’s sophist 558 DUBAI t Crescent Road – 55 Palm Jumeirah – Eas 77 66 55 TES – TEL: +971 44 UNITED ARAB EMIRA

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Ever since the discovery that the world was round, travellers have been fascinated by the idea of circumnavigating it. Now, Captain’s Choice offer you the opportunity to make this once-in-a-lifetime journey in the comfort and luxury of our private jet. Freed from the constraints of scheduled transport, this 21 day itinerary lets you explore the world’s most iconic and exotic places in a style which would simply not be possible otherwise. You will travel aboard our spacious jet, stay at the finest hotels and enjoy gourmet dining, with your every need taken care of by an experienced escort team which includes a tour doctor. Taking off from London, you will head west across the Atlantic to Merida, in Mexico, gateway to the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza. Your second stop is vibrant Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, alive with the rhythms of the Samba. Then it’s a short flight to one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls, Iguassu falls. Heading out over the Pacific, you’ll touch down on

CirCumnavigation of the globe. 21 DaY luXurY tour bY Private Jet remote Easter Island, dotted with its almost 800 mysterious Moai statues. Tahiti, the spectacularly beautiful island nation is your next destination, before your flight across the international dateline to Australia. Here, you’ll land in Sydney, often described as one of the world’s favourite cities. Climb the harbour bridge, or simply marvel at the iconic Opera House from your hotel window. After a three night stay you’ll head north aboard your private jet to Cambodia where you will visit the astonishing temple site of Angkor Wat. Then it’s onward to India, and a stay in Agra, with a view of one of the world’s most iconic buildings, the Taj Mahal, from your bedroom window. The final leg of this incredible journey takes you to Africa, for a stay in the Serengeti National Park, with its breathtaking scenery and fascinating wildlife. Then, boarding your private jet for the last time, you’ll fly back to London with memories of your trip that will last a lifetime. Captain’s Choice Circumnavigation of the Globe tour departs in March 2015 with prices from £34,850pp. Start your journey today by calling us, visiting our website or attending one of our free presentations.

Come to a free PreSentation Learn all about this, and our other private Jet Tours and meet our team over light refreshments. London, Charing Cross Hotel: 16 September – Eastbourne, The Grand: 19 September. for more information, or to book your place(s) call us now. Admission by RSVp only.

SiMpLy THe fiNeST WAy TO See THe WORLd. CALL: 0845 304 7129


rio De Janeiro

iguaSSu fallS

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V i S i T : C A p TA i N S C H O i C e . C O . u K / A R O u N d T H e W O R L d


The slow lane Como Kicker Shambhala Caption Estate, Bali (Spa special, page 42)

Rose-tinted spectacle Yachts compete in Audi Hamilton Island Race Week off Queensland, Australia (page 28)


Features 31 Sitting comfortably As Singapore Airlines launches new seats and the longest ďŹ rst-class ďŹ&#x201A;at-bed in the sky, Peter Hughes samples the service; plus a glance inside the ďŹ rst-class cabins of six other airlines 34 Rags to riches Tim Jepson travels to Basilicata, in southern Italy, once famous for its poverty but now the home of well-appointed cave hotels and Frances Ford Coppolaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lavish palazzo 42 Spa special Five writers, including businesswoman Karren Brady and chef Heston Blumenthal, put different spa regimes to the test. Do they deliver on weight loss, ďŹ tness and relaxation? Plus essential spa beauty products 52 Cowboy island You havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t seen Cuba until youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve experienced it on horseback. Minty Clinch dons her gaucho hat and spurs to experience the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s landscape and culture at its most authentic 58 Change of tack A low-season sailing regatta in St Barts sees the glitzy celebrity hangout in the Caribbean transformed into a laid-back yachtie heaven â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with not a paparazzo in sight, says Sandra Lane 64 Bid for a luxury holiday Charlotte Hawkins introduces the 22 lots â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from a trip to the Maldives to a city break in New York â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in our silent auction to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association

Regulars 13 Editorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s letter Charles Starmer-Smith on why a hotel has real heart when itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a family affair 15 The next big thing A pop-up hotel, a trip around the world by private jet, plus other news from the world of luxury travel, compiled by John Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ceallaigh 19 Accessories Four pages of essential advice â&#x20AC;&#x201C; on fashion, watches, gadgets and jewellery 26 Up front with John Simpson Why the BBCâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s world affairs editor prefers Johannesburg to Cape Town 29 Mr & Mrs Celia Walden and Piers Morgan swap notes on their romantic trip to Paris 69 Intelligence A brand new bolthole in Provence; inside the Art Institute of Chicago; how to pack perfectly; a cultural guide to Riga; and Suite dreams: a sumptuous tree house on the Zambezi River 74 Travelling life Sir Richard Branson on extreme activities, Chicago restaurants and a hotel on the Moon

34 30


Š Telegraph Media Group Limited 2013. 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


A real adventure. An African safari. It was always my childhood dream. Now I have the perfect excuse. Something really big to celebrate. Happy birthday, me.

Your special occasion. Your holiday.

in store • in travel agents • online at • call 01306 747020

EDITORâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S LETTER



wo days before the opening of Domaine de la Baume, a restored bastide in Provence, Nicolas Sibuet looks exhausted. Fashioning 99 acres of grounds into something beďŹ tting a high-end hotel has already been a Herculean task. Now, he estimates, it will take another three years to get it just so. But as we chat over a glass of rosĂŠ under the tall oak trees surrounding the estate, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clear that his enthusiasm remains undimmed. His eyes ďŹ&#x201A;icker excitedly

as he talks about the myriad projects ahead â&#x20AC;&#x201C; landscaping this, levelling that, crafting everything from honeymoon villas to the ceiling frescoes in the tiny chapel. But, as I explain on page 69, his passion is fuelled by personal ties to the property. His mother chose every fabric and every piece of furniture, his father oversaw the construction, while his sister looks after the marketing. With a Sibuet hotel, it is all reassuringly familial. There are, of course, downsides to keeping things in the family. The return on investment might not be as high as for a corporate giant, and the decision-making not as ruthless. Arguments can get very personal â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and, as the Forte/Polizzis know, the family is directly exposed if things go wrong. In true maďŹ oso style, a horseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s head was found on the doorstep during the construction of La Verdura, their hotel in Sicily â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a claim denied by Rocco Forte. But most guests never know about the blood, sweat and tears. What they notice, when a property has been lovingly restored, is a remarkable attention to detail, a commitment to perfection and a tangible sense of â&#x20AC;&#x153;soulâ&#x20AC;?. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the same soul described by Tim Jepson in his story about Basilicata (page 34), where Palazzo Margherita, Francis Ford Coppolaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ďŹ fth hotel, is also personal. The ďŹ lm director stays there, his daughter was married there and each of the most idiosyncratic suites was designed with a speciďŹ c family member in mind. Regrettably, with all the mergers and acquisitions, there are few family-owned hotel brands left in the world of luxury travel. Isadore Sharp, that great purveyor of the high-class hotel experience, owns only 5 per cent of the Four Seasons Group that he founded in 1960; Bill Gates and Prince Alwaleed bin Talal own the rest. Not that the Sibuets, Coppolas, Fortes and Polizzis would call themselves brands. For them, owning hotels is a way of life.


Provençal soul Domaine de la Baume, a new hotel in the Var, owned and run by the Sibuet family


Photographer James Bedford Model Claire Selby at ProďŹ le Models. Shot on location at SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain


Richard Branson The British entrepreneur and founder of the Virgin Group is something of an adventurer â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a trait that runs in the family. They climbed Mont Blanc together last year and their next trip will be into space, as outlined in our Travelling Life interview

Arabella Boyce Ultratravelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new fashion expert and stylist, who splits her time between Monaco and London, has her ďŹ nger on the pulse of luxury trends. In her ďŹ rst assignment, she assembles the perfect capsule wardrobe for an autumn weekend away

Minty Clinch The proliďŹ c travel writer, known for her love of sport and adventure, is naturally an accomplished horse rider. On a languid journey across Cuba on horseback, she relishes a glimpse of a gaucho lifestyle that is fast disappearing

Tim Jepson Having lived in Italy, the former deputy travel editor of The Sunday Telegraph was well placed to write about Basilicata, a wild province in the south which is steadily acquiring luxury hotels. The town of Matera was the most fascinating he has visited

Heston Blumenthal The acclaimed chef did not win three Michelin stars by sitting around doing nothing. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s why we sent him to Como Shambhala Estate in Bali for a week of meditation, yoga and relaxation. What did he do? Opted for aerobic sessions at the gym and a course in qigong


Editor Charles Starmer-Smith Creative director Johnny Morris Managing editor Andrew Purvis Deputy editor Lisa Grainger Sub-editor Kate Quill Photography editor Joe Plimmer Contributing editor John Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ceallaigh Executive publisher for Ultratravel Limited Nick Perry Publisher Toby Moore Advertising inquiries 07768 106322 (Nick Perry) 020 7931 3239 (Andrew Wiltshire) Ultratravel, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT Twitter @TeleLuxTravel email


Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coming up in luxury travel, from concept hotels and high-altitude fashion to a trip around the world by private jet




ith luxury hotels now expected to provide distinctive interior-design features, it is only a matter of time before discerning guests demand atypical exteriors, too. Architect Margo Krasojevic is on the case. She has designed a portable hotel which, for ultimate convenience, can be placed beside a recently-landed private jet. The concept structure

comprises three telescopic polymer-clad shells and its interior can be expanded to meet guestsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; whims. There are plenty of gimmicks, but jet-lagged travellers will also appreciate the basics: the cosy space accommodates a lounge, bathroom and sleeping quarters. Jean-Marie Massaudâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proposed Manned Cloud addresses the needs of frequent fliers differently; the hotel is a whale-shaped blimp with an ecological bent. The structure includes a terrace, spa, bar and 20 guest bedrooms, meaning passengers can live in comfort as they cruise above spectacular landscapes without leaving any trace. Design aficionados would book a flight just to visit the Unbalance Hotel in Lima, Peru, if it becomes reality. Shaped like a lopsided picture frame and perched precariously on a cliff face, it is part accommodation, part attraction. While those projects await approval, China is already showing others what unconventional hotel design looks like in practice. In October, the horseshoe-shaped Sheraton Huzhou Hot Spring Resort will open in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in the subtropical north-west, while the â&#x20AC;&#x153;ground-scrapingâ&#x20AC;? Songjiang Hotel, built


downwards into the face of a quarry near Shanghai, will welcome guests from 2014.

Futuristic Margo Krasojevicâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s pop-up hotel (top) can be placed next to a private jet, providing instant accommodation. Clockwise, from below: the Songjiang Hotel, built into a quarry face; the Sheraton Huzhou Hot Springs Resort; the Unbalance Hotel, Lima; Jean-Marie Massaudâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 20-room â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;blimpâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, Manned Cloud





In between admiring the view and worrying about the safety of


participants, make time to appreciate the clothing at the

enough hours in the day. While a week-

with poker-faced models sashaying along a glassbottomed platform, cantilevered 4,000ft above the Colorado River. The mercurial world of modern fashion should provide an unusual counterpoint to this hauntingly timeless landscape â&#x20AC;&#x201C; you will be able to judge its success for yourself, as the show will be televised worldwide on the day.

z FOUR-STAR RESTAURANT With pop-ups looking a little tired, the latest trend is the restaurant takeover. On four consecutive Tuesdays this month, Alyn Williams (pictured) has invited a star chef to his restaurant at The Westbury in Mayfair, London, to help create a one-off tasting menu as part of the inaugural CHEFstock event; Simon Rogan and Ignatius Chan are still to come. In October, Le Bristolâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s threeMichelin-star chef Eric Frechon will join his protĂŠgĂŠ Arnaud Bignon at The Greenhouse, Mayfair. After preparing his signature dishes over three days, Frechon will bid London diners adieu by creating a â&#x20AC;&#x153;four-hands dinnerâ&#x20AC;? with Bignon on October 25.


reat minds at Nasa have declared this autumn the peak of our â&#x20AC;&#x153;present solar maximumâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in laymanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s terms, that

means we are due the most spectacular Northern Lights in a decade. Happily, the heightened likelihood of a dazzling display coincides with this monthâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s opening of Aurora Bubbles in the remote town of Nellim in northern Finland â&#x20AC;&#x201C; an Aurora Borealis hotspot. Located within the grounds of the Wilderness Hotel, the glass-topped heated pods contain a double bed and bathroom area so guests can await the spectacular sight in comfort, rather than in the cold. A stay can be booked through The Aurora Zone (01670 785 012,


long holiday lasts as long for one person as the next, it is possible

to maximise your time off â&#x20AC;&#x201C; if you are willing to increase your budget. Typically the preserve of gap-year students and cruise passengers, a roundthe-world trip is now available through Captainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Choice and takes just 21 days.

Travelling by private jet, a group will forgo full-moon parties and midnight buffets for a night of revelry in Rio; an amble through Cambodiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Angkor Wat; a big-five safari in the Serengeti, and more. The fully inclusive package, departing from London in March 2015, costs ÂŁ34,850 ( VeryFirstToâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s gourmet getaway invites


you to eat at every three-Michelin-star

Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a well-known truth: as

It will be joined in December by

restaurant in the world over a six-month

daylight hours decrease, desire

Velaa Private Island, featuring

period. There are more than 100, but diners

for beach holidays increases.

a Clarins spa, a dedicated butler

will enjoy an extended stay in Tokyo, where

That being the case, the opening

for all rooms and a superyacht

there are 15. The price: ÂŁ182,000 per

of two Maldivian hotels over

reserved for guests staying in

couple (

the coming months seems

the most lavish villas, priced at

very well-timed. Launching in

$30,000 (about ÂŁ19,400) a night.

For those who canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stretch to more than a dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s getaway, an exceptional

mid-November, Cheval Blanc

For more culturally-focused

Randheli contains 45 loft-style

escapes, the boutique property

Flights. Departing from Australia on

villas, all with private infinity

Hotel FĂŠlicien opens in Paris in

a Boeing 747, groups leave civilisation for

pools and Vincent Beaurin

late September â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it has been

a 12-hour flight over the immense

artworks, as well as a Guerlain

designed by couture designer

wilderness. To escape the daily grind,

spa and private in-villa shopping

Olivier Lapidus. October,

there is no better destination than the

opportunities â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the brand has

meanwhile, sees Me Vienna by

end of the earth. The best seats

been developed by LVMH so

MeliĂĄ and Rosewood London

cost AUS$7,499/ÂŁ4,420

a focus on style is a given.

welcome their first guests.





November 1, the Grand Canyon Skywalk will become a catwalk,


tâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a modern lament: there arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

J Autumn Fashion Show. On

escape is available through Antarctica


Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the collective noun for supercar owners? A drove, perhaps? In any case, look out for them at the inaugural Run to Yas, taking place over five days this autumn. Departing from Muscat on October 29, a select group of automobile aficionados will travel for over 900 miles through the Middle East, ultimately reaching the Yas Marina Circuit just in time for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Accommodation is of the lavish standard to which Maserati and Bugatti owners are accustomed, but participants can expect some new experiences along the way. Two veteran F1 drivers, including Damon Hill, will go along for the ride, and members of the group will also have the opportunity to race along the Yas Marina Circuit with an F1 ace (

BEYOND EXPECTATION It isn’t just imaginations that are exquisitely well fed.

A children’s dining program, for your hungry sandcastle builders, one of the many reasons why.

a legacy of luxury. now at over 30 of the world’s finest hotels & resorts. africa the americas asia europe the middle east ©2013 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its afliates.


In a nutshell


Not sure how to pack a capsule wardrobe for an autumn weekend away? Choose only versatile, colour-coordinated pieces, writes Arabella Boyce. Wear the largest item â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a light coat â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and in your suitcase, on top of ďŹ&#x201A;at shoes and rolled leather trousers, layer superďŹ ne knits and wrinklefree dresses separated by tissue. With all that saved space, there will just be room for a pair of knockout heels

Main photograph: Vicuna lambskin coat £8,440, sleeveless V-neck camel-hair pullover £570, white poplin shirt £950, all by Hermès (020 7499 8856,

Above: Pegasse 55 carry-on case in scratch-resistant Epi leather, ÂŁ2,470, Louis Vuitton (020 3214 9200, Featherweight brogues with durable, light Micropore soles, ÂŁ179, Pretty Loafers (00 34 971 374 539, iPhone case in protective leopardprint calfskin, ÂŁ295, Burberry (020 7980 8425, Viaggio foldable, lightweight sunglasses ÂŁ295, Gucci (020 7629 2716, Calfskin-covered USB stick ÂŁ185 and compact Dring earphones holder ÂŁ130, Hermès (as before). Crease-resistant knitted-rayon Renee dress ÂŁ437, Diane Von Furstenberg (020 7499 0886, Soft studded leather clutch bag with removable strap for evening, â&#x201A;Ź495/ÂŁ425, Burberry Loves Printemps (00 33 142 825 000, Rockstud lightweight stilettos ÂŁ710, Valentino, Harrods (020 7893 8092, Crease-free stretch-leather trousers â&#x201A;Ź995/ÂŁ854, Burberry Loves Printemps (as before). Super-fine silk and cashmere scarf ÂŁ520, Hermès (as before).



4 The watch features two winding crowns. The top one is linked to the conventional display in hours, minutes and seconds; the lower one is for winding the chronograph mechanism described in caption 3.


1 The dial of the Twin Chrono is nearly as large as the case, which is 45.4mm in diameter, to ensure that the three chronograph counters are legible. The indicator hands in red (seconds) and white (minutes) contrast sharply with the deep-blue background.

2 Only 30 limited-edition Twin Chronos will be made, all with white gold cases. When the watch enters general production, it is likely to have a case made from titanium, which is lighter and more resilient than gold and resistant to salt water. The alligator strap will be substituted with a more practical rubber one.

3 When a race starts, a single push on the lower button sets in motion the two counters at the bottom of the dial; a second push records the finish time of the first yacht in minutes and seconds on the lower left counter; and a third push records the finish time of the second yacht on the lower right counter, with the difference between the two being displayed on the counter above.

5 The mechanism, which can be seen through the transparent case back, incorporates 80 ruby bearings, along with four balance wheels, two column wheels and four winding barrels (conventional chronographs have only one of each). Louis Vuitton Tambour Twin Chrono limited edition ÂŁ50,000, in white gold (020 7998 6286, The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first mechanical watch to be capable of measuring two times simultaneously and displaying the difference between them.

Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cup countdown


Sailing watches are designed to count down the 10 minutes before the gun goes off to signal the start of a race. A conventional stopwatch can be hard to read while trying to stay upright on a bobbing boat, so yacht timers have large dials and bright segments to provide at-a-glance monitoring of the pre-start period. To mark its role as ofďŹ cial timekeeper and sponsor of the Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cup, which concludes next week, Louis Vuitton created the Twin Chrono, an entirely new type of watch designed to time races between two yachts. Hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s how it works


THREE MORE SAILING WATCHES Corum Admiralâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cup AC-One 45 Regatta ÂŁ8,625 with bracelet (020 3372 0108, This dedicated sailing watch has a large, 45mm case made from titanium. The movement combines 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters with a highly legible pre-start timer which counts down the 10 minutes on a coloured disc visible through the large window at the three oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;clock position.


Panerai Luminor 1950 Regatta 3 Days ÂŁ11,800 (020 7312 6894, The company produces a new regatta watch each year to mark its backing of the Classic Yachts Challenge races for vintage boats. The 2013 model has a 47mm titanium case and a countdown function which allows the orange-coloured central hand to be moved backwards in one-minute intervals in order to coincide with the race pre-start period.

Rolex Yacht-Master II ÂŁ12,500 in stainless steel (020 7024 7300, This regatta watch features a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ring Commandâ&#x20AC;? bezel (the rotating outer rim) which is linked to the movement of the watch. It enables the red countdown arrow and the seconds hand to be precisely synchronised with the official 10-minute pre-start countdown, using graduations marked both on the bezel and on the horseshoe-shaped inner dial.

ULTRA tech

From a coin-sized ďŹ tness device to sunglasses with a built-in camera, Mark Wilson selects covetable kit for travellers




On the move 3

1 KEF M500 ÂŁ250 (0800 652 2696, These headphones make fine travelling companions, thanks to their folding â&#x20AC;&#x153;smart hingeâ&#x20AC;? and comfortable memory-foam ear pads. Acoustic sealing and a â&#x20AC;&#x153;closed-backâ&#x20AC;? design stop sound leaking. 2 Memoto $279/ÂŁ180 ( and Misfit Shine $99.95/ÂŁ65 ( Leading a wave of discreet, wearable gadgets, the Memoto is a clip-on camera that automatically takes photographs throughout the day, while the coin-sized Shine tracks running, swimming or cycling performance. 3 Pivothead sunglasses $299/ÂŁ195 (001 303 221 4670, An alternative to an action cam, these have an 8MP camera built into the bridge to record 1,080p HD video at 30 frames per second. The arms contain a mic and a button for one-handed operation.

4 4 Blackmagic Pocket Cinema camera ÂŁ760 (black Designed to shoot cinematic travel films rather than stills, this camera has a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Super 16â&#x20AC;? 1,080p sensor and exceptional tonal range, producing professional-looking videos that can be recorded on standard SDXC cards. An interchangeable lens mount and a magnesium-alloy chassis make it versatile and hardy. 5 Porsche Pâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;3135 Solid pen â&#x201A;Ź795/ÂŁ685 ( Milled out of a single block of titanium and finished with a scratch-proof coating, this luxury fountain pen has an 18-carat gold nib and an aluminium carry case to protect it from wear. 6 Globetrotter Bespoke luggage From ÂŁ480 (020 7529 5950, globetrotter1897. com). The British purveyor of vintage handmade luggage now offers a bespoke service at its Mayfair store, allowing customers to specify such details as colour and lining. Each case is made of hardy vulcanised fibreboard and finished with steel lippings and leather handles.




ULTRA jewels

What better memento of New York than a piece inspired by its landmarks and glamour? Caragh McKay picks five little gems


The skyline Jessica McCormack The London-based jewellery designer has just opened a gallery-cum-boutique in Carlos Place, Mayfair, but New York has long been an inspiration. This skyline design (left), from her Jewels of the Urban Night collection, is a popular choice with couples seeking non-traditional engagement rings. No wonder. McCormackâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;miniature, wearable sculpturesâ&#x20AC;? are an everlasting reminder of the romance of the Big Apple. New York Rings, in 18-carat white gold with a mixture of step, carrĂŠ and French-cut diamonds, price on application (020 7491 9999,



The Big Apple in miniature


With its dazzling art deco skyline (above), graphic forms and edgy art scene, New York has long been a muse for jewellery designers. Since 1845, Tiffany&Co has been publishing its fabled Blue Book, a catalogue of its high-end, master-crafted pieces. This year, its pages are graced with a series of designs inspired by â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;the skyscrapers, optimism, energy and sophistication of New York Cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Other houses have also paid homage to the city that never sleeps with jewels that capture its essence



New York Ballet Van Cleef &Arpels In 1939, while living in New York, Claude Arpels met George Balanchine, the founder of the New York City Ballet. A visit to Van Cleef &Arpelsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; boutique on Fifth Avenue so inspired the choreographer that the pair conceived a ballet, Jewels, which premiered in the city in 1967. To commemorate this, the jeweller created the Ballet PrĂŠcieux collection, inspired by the balletâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s three parts: Emeralds, Rubies and Diamonds. Pavline Ballerina clip in white gold, round and pear-shaped rose-cut diamonds, rose-cut diamond face, price on application (020 7493 0400,


Skyscrapers Harry Winston Sunsets, iconic buildings and Central Park are reimagined in diamonds, emeralds and sapphires (pictured) in the New York Collection by Harry Winston, who set up shop there in 1932. Sapphire cabochon Skyscraper Ring, 13.25-carat centre stone, set in platinum, price on application (020 7907 8800,


Studio 54 Cartier In 1917, Pierre Cartier bought the companyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s HQ on Fifth Avenue in exchange for $100 and a pearl necklace worth $1 million. The French maison has been forging links with New York ever since. In the 1970s it asked Aldo Cipullo to create a modern piece that the stellar types at Studio 54 would want to wear on the danceďŹ&#x201A;oor. Juste un Clou (â&#x20AC;&#x153;just a nailâ&#x20AC;?) is an item of everyday hardware with a New York disco twist. Juste un Clou bracelet in pink gold, ÂŁ24,000 (020 3147 4850,

The Great Gatsby Tiffany & Co On learning that F Scott Fitzgerald had been a Tiffany & Co patron, Baz Luhrmann, director of The Great Gatsby, and his costume designer wife called upon the jeweller to create gemset pieces for the ďŹ lm. This headpiece (below), inspired by Native American headdresses, was worn by Carey Mulligan, who played Daisy Buchanan. The form and function aesthetic of New York architecture in the 1920s and 1930s is represented by a detachable brooch on the side. Savoy headpiece, ÂŁ155,000 (00 800 2000 1122,






Cape Town, and although I love the Cape, Johannesburg is the place Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d settle in with pleasure. After a couple of weeks in Cape Town, I ďŹ nd myself getting restless and slightly bored. Maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just a bit too beautiful. Maybe itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the way people drive: dozily, down the middle of the road, signalling left and going straight ahead. In Johannesburg the cars swarm past on both sides, like white-tip sharks along a reef. The shops open earlier and stay open later, there are more of them and they have a wider range of goods. People come to your house at the time they say they will. Restaurants are more varied and better designed, and even the ďŹ sh often seems better, though itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a thousand miles inland. To me, Cape Town feels like a really lovely retirement home, while Jozi, as people tend to call it nowadays (Joâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;burg apparently has a faintly colonial whiff to it, even though thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the name that has been used by everyone from President Zuma to Nelson Mandela) is noisy and challenging and full of life. Above all, the Johannesburg weather is absolutely superb. No nasty winds blowing for days on end, no driving rain, just clear skies and lovely temperatures. But what about the crime? That is what people immediately ask. Well, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true that itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s really high in Johannesburg, which takes in Soweto, Alexandra and Hillbrow; but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s also a problem in Cape Town, which has the Cape Flats. You have to be careful there; in the general atmosphere of pleasantness and relaxation, you forget the pickpockets, the knives and the guns. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve not been robbed in Johannesburg; but a gang of tough teenagers once


e, Cap p To m me, Cape f l like Town feels a really lovely retirement home, while Jozi, as people call it nowadays, is noisy and challenging and full of life



ave you ever noticed how some people seem to expect a certain degree of approval when they tell you where they come from? The conversation goes like this: You: Where are you based nowadays? Friend [with self-congratulatory smirk]: Oh, you know, Paris/California/Rio de Janeiro/Rome/New York. You [sighing]: How wonderful. I know, because Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m a part-time inhabitant of Chelsea and Paris and Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve done it to people myself. The Chelseaite or Parisian expects, perhaps even demands, a faint but deďŹ nite hint of envy and praise. Other places elicit a different response: You: Where are you based nowadays? Friend [defensively]: Oh, you know, Brussels/New Jersey/SĂŁo Paulo/Lagos/ Turin/Frankfurt. You [patronisingly]: Ha â&#x20AC;&#x201C; well, I suppose someone has to live there. Now hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s another pair of examples: You: So where do you live? Friend [smirking]: Cape Town. You [sighing]: Ahhh, how wonderful. Alternatively: You: You live where? Friend [defensively]: Johannesburg. You: [ďŹ ll in the gap]. In South Africa, foreigners regard Cape Town as the gold standard. It means Table Mountain, the Bo-Kaap, the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront, tea at the Mount Nelson Hotel, antiques shopping in Long Street, dinner in Camps Bay. And because we like to play good city/bad city, we put Joâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;burg on the Lagos side of the ledger. Absolute tosh. Over the years, Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve lived in Johannesburg and spent lots of time in

gathered round me like wasps in Cape Town, and I only escaped by jumping into the trafďŹ c and running away. Agreed, the murder rate is still far too high in both cities, but it is unquestionably dropping. And you arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t aware of it in either. Johannesburg isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like Kinshasa, where you congratulate yourself every time you get back to your hotel in safety; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a lovely, open, green garden city, where everyone smiles and treats you nicely. Sure, there is hijacking and there are stabbings and shootings, but a visitor seldom sees them. And although everyone has heard about the security guards and the electronic alarms in Johannesburg, they have them in Cape Town too. It doesnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t stop the tourists ďŹ&#x201A;ocking there. I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want to put you off Cape Town; I just want you to branch out and see Johannesburg as well. Visit the grand old imperial centre of the city, much more relaxed and pleasant these days. I ďŹ lmed there solidly for two days recently, and no one so much as spoke to us. Sample the restaurants around the Market Theatre. Drive to Melrose Arch and watch the glitterati hanging out in the bars and cafes. Head for a delightful old colonial place like Melville â&#x20AC;&#x201C; less fashionable now, but still full of charming little shops, including one of South Africaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best antiquarian bookshops. Wander down the tree-lined avenues, with the brilliant ďŹ&#x201A;owers bursting out from every garden, thriving in the ďŹ nest climate the entire planet can boast. Then tell me if you think Cape Town, for all its glories, can match the buzz and glamour of Egoli, Jozi, the golden city of Johannesburg.


Controversially, the globetrotting correspondent prefers grittier, sunnier Johannesburg to super-civilised Cape Town

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She was born in Paris; he proposed to her there. But on a romantic trip back, they discover that some treats are best enjoyed alone




ome people go to Russian banyas to be scrubbed raw by babushkas. Others prefer to pay penance at Swiss detox clinics or Thai yoga retreats (see page 42). I get my rude awakenings in Paris, where I was born. When I lived there, I used to ďŹ nd the unrelenting rudeness of the residents tiresome. Now that I live in LA, I hanker for those Parisian scowls and that uniquely obstructive behaviour. A yearly visit to Paris has become a form of rehabilitation: a reminder that Californian obsequiousness isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the norm and that, in this particular city, the consumer is almost always wrong. Of course Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never â&#x20AC;&#x153;doneâ&#x20AC;? Paris as a travel writer before (even these guys must be aware that a little good PR can be helpful). And Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve never stayed anywhere in the city quite as luxurious as Le Pavillon de la Reine. Set back in a courtyard off the Place des Vosges, the 17th-century hotel manages to be glamorous and discreet at the same time. Our suite is twice as big as the ďŹ&#x201A;at I used to live in down the road, and thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a gym in the basement, which Piers is almost as excited about as I am. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We sticking to our usual ritual?â&#x20AC;? he asks, looking up from the leather-bound visitors book (I ďŹ nd his obsession with which celebrities have stayed at a hotel before him slightly galling). â&#x20AC;&#x153;Oh yes,â&#x20AC;? I rejoin happily. We have traditions to uphold whenever we come to Paris. On day one weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll have a sodden lunch at La Grille Saint Germain, during which Piers will ingest every spectacularly caloriďŹ c dish on the menu (â&#x20AC;&#x153;How should I know what youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll like?â&#x20AC;? shrugs the waitress, when he inquires what she might recommend for dessert). Then weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll enjoy a spot â&#x20AC;&#x201C; say three or four hours â&#x20AC;&#x201C; of shopping. Paris is the only place Piers likes to shop. Sadly, for the past, oh, ďŹ ve or six years, there has always been some impediment. Heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s often woozy from the wine or having to go back to the hotel to make a work call. This year is no different: heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s feeling a little under the weather and will have to leave me to shop alone. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s always tomorrow, I reassure him before heading off towards the Rue du Four to locate some eye-wateringly rude shop assistants. That night, we head back to the Left Bank for some boudin noir on rustic bread and grilled sardines at La Grande Crèmerie on Rue GrĂŠgoire-de-Tours. Serge, the owner, likes to joke with us about the day Piers was going to propose to me there, but got an uncharacteristic attack of nerves. The tripâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s going far too fast, and after a spectacular breakfast in the sun-blanched courtyard of the hotel the following morning and a quick trip to the MusĂŠe Carnavalet nearby, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time to head to the Gare du Nord. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Will we get a taxi?â&#x20AC;? I ask Piers hopefully (Parisian taxi drivers are breathtakingly, wondrously impolite). But, of course, our travel agent has organised a car. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a shame: after such a pampered two days, I could have done with one last dose of abuse.

P â&#x20AC;&#x153;A trip to Paris has become a reminder that Californian obsequiousness isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the norm and that, in this particular city, the consumer is almost always wrongâ&#x20AC;? CELIA

Celia Walden and Piers Morgan travelled with Kirker Holidays (020 7593 2283, Three nights at the Pavillon de la Reine (above) costs from ÂŁ798 per person, including return Eurostar fare, a Seine cruise, a two-day Museum Pass and Kirker Concierge services


aris has always been one of my favourite cities, because the French neither know who I am, nor care. This means I can behave in a wildly reckless manner and maintain a reasonable conďŹ dence that the shameful images will never appear on the cover of the National Enquirer. Perhaps the most excruciating afďŹ rmation of my Gallic anonymity came when a group of young Parisian women once asked me for â&#x20AC;&#x153;a photoâ&#x20AC;?, then looked alarmed when I put my arms around them and grinned. â&#x20AC;&#x153;No, no! We want you to take the photo of us!â&#x20AC;? one of them shrieked in horror. Another reason I love Paris is that the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s inhabitants pride themselves not just on being the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rudest people, but also on enjoying reďŹ ned gastromic selfindulgence. The food is wondrous, the wine delicious and the restaurants sublime. Who cares about the surly service? As Douglas Jardine, Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s fearless captain during the infamous 1933 Bodyline series to Australia, would have put it: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t come here to make friends; Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve come to win the world gluttony contest.â&#x20AC;? When or if I retire, I want to live in Paris and simply gorge myself into my gargantuan grave. It is also the place where I proposed marriage to Celia, deploying a ďŹ rst edition of John Updikeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Marry Me to seal the deal. Most importantly, from my perspective, it is my wifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s preferred shopping location on Planet Earth. (Even our 21-month-old daughter Elise already resembles a young Bardot in the fashion stakes.) I loathe shopping with the same intensity I loathe Madonna; both seem such vacuous, pointless, commercially grasping wastes of wallets and air. But I love Celia shopping, because then I can sleep, watch football, read the papers, torment Lord Sugar on Twitter, or just lie on my back, motionless in a park, contemplating global domination. This was a glorious trip, from the moment we boarded the Eurostar and I realised the journey â&#x20AC;&#x201C; two hours 15 minutes â&#x20AC;&#x201C; was now half an hour quicker than the last time I did it. It can take me longer to cross Manhattan in the rush hour. Our beautifully appointed hotel, Le Pavillon de la Reine, was delightfully charming, despite the unexpected presence of a gym. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Work out?â&#x20AC;? suggested Celia. â&#x20AC;&#x153;DeďŹ nitely!â&#x20AC;? I agreed, immediately heralding a taxi to La Grille Saint Germain (above left), where I bench-pressed all the specials and Romanian dead-lifted two bottles of Domaine de Fenouillet rosĂŠ. At night, I dumb-belled lashings of boudin noir and Château Margaux at La Grande Crèmerie, where the menus are converted Aznavour album covers. And for a farewell lunch, I split-squatted a large bowl of moules marinières with fat-busting French fries, washed down with a high-energy Puligny-Montrachet. I reboarded Eurostar 5lb heavier, but in an almost Dalai Lama state of happiness. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Paris is always a good idea,â&#x20AC;? observed Audrey Hepburn. She was right.


Sitting comfortably


As Singapore Airlines launches smart new seats and the longest ďŹ rst-class ďŹ&#x201A;at-bed in the sky, Peter Hughes gets a preview. Overleaf, more innovation in the world of ďŹ rst-class ďŹ&#x201A;ying


ingapore â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the ofďŹ ce version of Monaco, smaller than Tonga and richer than Switzerland, a speck of shiny real estate at the tip of the Malaysian peninsula â&#x20AC;&#x201C; has a population of just 5.3 million. Yet its airline carries almost four times as many people in a year and wins more awards for service than any other. How has it done it? At the launch of its new â&#x20AC;&#x153;cabin productsâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; seats to you and me â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Mak Swee Wah, SIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s executive vice president (commercial) stressed that service isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the airlineâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s only asset. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You have to look at the whole package, at things like network connectivity and the commercial schedule,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;And itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just the hardware, an extra inch of room here and a wider seat there.â&#x20AC;? As it happens, the new seats that SIA are introducing â&#x20AC;&#x201C; initially on eight new Boeing 777-300ER aircraft from September on the Singapore-London route â&#x20AC;&#x201C; compare more than favourably with those of rivals. In both business class and economy, SIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new seats are wider, have equal or greater seat pitch and bigger video screens than Cathay PaciďŹ c, Emirates and British Airways. At the launch I sat in an economy seat for only a few minutes, not the 13 hours of a ďŹ&#x201A;ight between Singapore and London, but I thought the improved comfort as signiďŹ cant as the reďŹ nements made in business and ďŹ rst class. Not only did the upholstery seem softer, but it also felt more sympathetically sculptured. The pitch of 33in is an inch less than on Thai Airways and Malaysia Airlines, an inch more than on Cathay, and two inches more than on BA. But dimensions are only part of the story, and a potentially misleading part at that. At 28in, SIAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new business-class seat will be two inches narrower than the existing seat, but still considerably wider than on most other carriers. With only four seats across the cabin in a 1-2-1 conďŹ guration, everyone has an aisle. Yet some passengers apparently feel discomforted with quite so much room. When the seat is converted into a bed, it is 6ft 6in long â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the largest in its class, SIA claims. Again, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not universally popular. The bed is made by folding down the seat back, a task usually left to a cabin attendant; it canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be done with the push of a button. The designers justify this by asking where youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d prefer to sleep â&#x20AC;&#x201C; on a purpose-made bed with fresh linen, or a leather seat on which you and your predecessors have sat? Besides, the bed-making rigmarole prompts contact between passenger and ďŹ&#x201A;ight crew, whom the airline counts among its strongest attractions. In ďŹ rst class, the seats are even bigger â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 35in, almost twice as wide as the average economy seat. They convert to the largest fully ďŹ&#x201A;at bed in the sky â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 6ft 10in â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and come with Givenchy sleeper suits. The icon for SIA service is â&#x20AC;&#x153;Singapore Girlâ&#x20AC;?, a classic piece of subtle branding created in 1972. No matter that the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Girlsâ&#x20AC;? are, in fact, outnumbered by â&#x20AC;&#x153;Boysâ&#x20AC;?. Although criticised by feminists for representing an outmoded attitude towards women, Singapore Girl was a pioneer in the way she used her femininity to represent a major corporation. She was always more sophisticated than sexy, more sisterly than servile and more welcoming than provocative. Dressed by Balmain in slinky sarong kebayas, Singapore

Broad smile At 35in, the new firstclass seat is twice as wide as the average economy seat; restaurantstandard meals account for 5 per cent of the ticket price; and one of only eight first-class seats on board

Girl has a tantalising scent of Asian exoticism. But then SIA is essentially an Asian airline. Its hub is Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Changi Airport â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itself a regular award winner â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and more than half of the 60 cities to which it or SilkAir, its regional subsidiary, ďŹ&#x201A;y are in Asia. Between them, they serve more than 30 countries. To this day, Singapore Girl is assiduously coached, some might say conditioned. It takes 14 weeks to train SIA ďŹ&#x201A;ight attendants, twice the time of most other airlines, not just in how to serve hot meals and cold towels, or get 400 passengers down the escape chutes, but in what shades of lipstick and eye shadow she may use, even the length she may wear her hair and eyelashes. Is that outmoded sexism, or a rigorous pursuit of traditional standards? For all the heights of technology in its new aircraft, SIA is deeply traditional. Service excellence is the grail of airline success but that has to be paid for by full utilisation of cabin space, hence the lack of non-revenue-earning fripperies (or ďŹ neries, depending on your point of view) like the showers and lounges you ďŹ nd on Emiratesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; A380s or the bars of Qatarâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Dreamliners. SIA places a high premium on food. It spends about 5 per cent of the ticket price on meals â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not far off what would be paid in restaurants on the ground. â&#x20AC;&#x153;No one chooses an airline for its food,â&#x20AC;? says Hermann Freidanck, the food and beverage manager, â&#x20AC;&#x153;but food is a big â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;dissatisďŹ erâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. If a passenger gets a bad meal early on, they have 10 hours in which to compose a letter of complaint.â&#x20AC;? As someone who has been catching planes for a living for 40 years, the Singapore Airlines experience takes me back â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not quite to the era when people dressed up to ďŹ&#x201A;y, but to a time when ďŹ&#x201A;ying was an occasion. The airlines knew it and so did the passengers. There was a sense of anticipation whether you ďŹ&#x201A;ew ďŹ rst class or economy. Business class didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t arrive until 1979, when it was introduced by Qantas. The glamour of ďŹ&#x201A;ying has been maintained by SIA, just. If nothing else, it is unquestionably the antithesis of the so-called budget airlines that heap costs and indignities on their travellers in equal quantities. BY NUMBERS Menus planned by international chefs, ďŹ ne 5.3 Population, in millions, of wines, comfortable seats and an Aladdinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s lamp Singapore. 20 Passengers, in millions, of entertainment options are all very well for the carried by SIA and SilkAir in 2011/2012. hours spent in ďŹ&#x201A;ight, but itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the hours spent in 35 Width, in inches, of first-class seat. airports that are the curse of passengersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; lives. 78 Length, in inches, of business-class These are considerably more bearable, though, bed. 14 Time, in weeks, to train SIA when the airport in question is Changi. In this flight attendant. 7 Average training respect, too, Singapore Airlines is a winner. period, in weeks, on


Overleaf, how other ďŹ rst-class experiences compare

other airlines.




For a peaceful sleep on Lufthansa flights, a special floor structure in the aisles absorbs the sounds of

These are suites rather than seats, with sliding doors for absolute privacy. They are upholstered

footsteps to keep noise to a minimum. The ergonomically shaped seats convert into a 6ft 7in flat-bed

in Poltrona Frau leather, and fitted with a minibar, wardrobe, 23in screen, vanity mirror and seat with

made up with fine linen, while menus are created in consultation with luxury hotel chains. Passengers

massage options. When flat, the 6ft 8in bed is made up with full-size pillows and a silk and cotton duvet;

have van Laack pyjamas to sleep in, amenity kits by Porsche Design, and a choice of La Mer cosmetics.

loungewear is provided. You also have a personal chef from Mezoon Grille, Etihadâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in-flight restaurant.

Sitting comfortably

Ultratravelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guide to the best ďŹ rst-class innovations, from private suites to personal chefs and shower spas


For a gallery of



Foster + Partners has designed a clean, calming environment to mirror that of Cathay Pacificâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new

Brazilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s national airline has developed a clubby, â&#x20AC;&#x153;living roomâ&#x20AC;? feel for its Boeing 777 aircraft, with

Wing lounge in Hong Kong. The seatsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; dark, glossy exteriors, set at an angle, are lined with soft grey

sofas replacing footstools, and small, sleek wardrobes where passengers can keep their belongings.

hand-stitched leather; Pye sleepsuits are made from organic cotton, amenities are by Aesop, and

Fabrics are soft and domestic in feel, featuring wood and chrome. There is an option of double seats

noise-cancelling earphones by Bose. Meals are made to order, and coffee is prepared by sky baristas.

for those travelling together, while a library of books and magazines will keep bookworms happy.



Passengers should sleep well in this elegantly designed private space, which has a 6ft 6in fully flat bed

The Dubai-based airline already offers an impressive first-class service, but for something even more

with a mattress and duvet, angled away from the window. BA will give you a pair of cotton

exclusive, its jet charter service on an Airbus 319, which takes 19 people, is configured in two zones:

pyjamas to wear, while pampering is on hand with Anya Hindmarch skincare products â&#x20AC;&#x201C; eye gel, lip

a dining and lounge space and 10 private suites with the usual mod cons. With video-conferencing

balm and moisturiser. Made-to-order meals and Ă la carte champagnes are served throughout the flight.

and mobile-phone connectivity, and a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Shower Spaâ&#x20AC;?, it is ideal for time-pressed corporate leaders.


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Sri Lanka





Light at the end of the tunnel For decades, the troglodyte dwellings of Matera, in southern Italy, were a source of shame, a subterranean slum inhabited by 20,000 people. Now, says Tim Jepson, they boast luxury hotels and restaurants while, nearby, a boutique retreat owned by Francis Ford Coppola is bringing a touch of class to a once-blighted region


La dolce vita The staircase at Francis Ford Coppolaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Palazzo Margherita, in Bernalda, where a bartender (right) welcomes guests. Centre: visitors tour Matera on a Piaggio Ape three-wheeler

Golden glow Sasso Barisano, a district of Matera where the houses are carved out of soft rock and LCKI8KI8M<C  some streets run on top of ancient cave dwellings


Where history lives.

For such a tiny island, Jersey has a mighty big heritage. Take Neolithic La Hougue Bie; one of Europe’s finest ‘passage graves’, dating back six millennia. And the magnificently preserved Mont Orgueil Castle, which for over 600 years protected Jersey from French invasion. Or “experience” the island’s extraordinary maritime past in the uniquely interactive Maritime Museum – where you can not only see and hear all about seafaring, navigation and the elements – you can touch and even smell them too! All surrounded by the ever-present remains of the German Occupation. Add Jersey’s mild climate, easy travel from the UK and great-value ofers, and you’ve discovered 45 square miles of history for the taking.


It’s a cave. Was a cave, is a cave, however you dress it up…

T Rock chic Clockwise, from main picture: Suite 3 at Le Grotte della Civita, in Matera; the hotel’s soap on a rope; one of its honeycombed communal areas; and the road to the hotel, passing houses tunnelled into the hillside

he walls are rock, the floor rough-hewn, the only light a single carved hole. Traces of the outside world intrude, but they are few: dappled sunlight, an old table, a wooden chest, a rickety chair. A cave, then, but not any cave – not with an underheated floor that is warm to the touch and the half-shell of a Philippe Starck bath in the corner. Rather, it is one of 18 caves making up the rooms of Le Grotte della Civita, a unique hotel in Matera, Basilicata, southern Italy. Basilicata forms the instep of the Italian “boot”, with Puglia, the heel, to the east, and Calabria, the toe, to the west. It has long been Italy’s poorest region, and Matera, until recently, one of Western Europe’s most impoverished towns. Not any more. Basilicata is emerging from the shadows – it has wonderful Greek and Roman ruins; fine beaches; new hotels; food you will find nowhere else in Italy; ever-improving wine; sublime scenery, including Monte Pollino, Italy’s largest national park; and, in Matera and its caves, a place undergoing a renaissance so dazzling that, even after years of living and travelling in Italy, I found it one of the most fascinating towns I have visited. Everything in Matera starts with its caves. To understand them, you have to understand the geology. The town sits on a ridge with deep canyons to either side. The top of the ridge consists of clay. The sides of the canyons, by contrast, contain exposed layers of softer, sandier rock. At least 9,000 years ago, and probably much earlier, humans settled in natural caves in the canyon walls, extending them until thousands of grottoes honeycombed the

town. The caves make up Italy’s oldest continually inhabited dwellings and, in the words of Unesco, “the most outstanding example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean”. Caves were all well and good for Palaeolithic and later peoples. They proved less acceptable for 20th-century inhabitants. By the Thirties, 20,000 people, mostly landless peasants, were crammed into the sassi, literally the “stones”, as the town’s two main cave districts, the Barisano and Caveoso, are known. They had no heat, light or sanitation. Men, women, children and animals slept together. Illiteracy stood at 90 per cent, infant mortality at 50 per cent. Malaria, trachoma, cholera, typhoid and malnutrition were rife. Even by the standards of Italy’s impoverished south, the sassi were an abomination. It took a book, Christ Stopped at Eboli, by Carlo Levi, a writer exiled by the Fascists to Basilicata in 1935, to bring the scandal to wider attention. “In these dark holes,” he wrote, “I saw a few pieces of miserable furniture, beds and some ragged clothes hanging up to dry. On the floor lay dogs, sheep, goats and pigs… Children appeared from everywhere, in the dust and heat, stark naked or in rags, eyelids red and swollen… and with the wizened faces of old men, yellow and worn with malaria, their bodies reduced by starvation to skeletons… I have never in all my life seen such a picture of poverty.” During my visit to Matera, I met Giuseppe and Theodora (“Dora”), residents who described how the state was finally shamed into action in 1952, when 20,000 people were removed from the sassi and rehoused. Giuseppe told me of his aunt,


Antonietta, who left the caves of Matera for Germany and refused for years to talk about them, let alone revisit them. All Materani felt the same, he said. Until very recently, the caves were a vergona, said Dora, a deeply felt shame, da coprire e nascondere, to cover and to hide. After the Sixties, the sassi remained damp, derelict, rotting, abandoned, bricked up. In the Seventies, one or two hippy squatters moved in, but efforts after 1986 to restore even part of the sassi met a muted response. The state owned the caves – they had been formally exchanged with their occupants for new homes – and few wanted to invest in “property” that could only be leased. In the end, it was the squatters who kick-started Matera’s renaissance. When no one else came forward, the council made them legal residents and connected them to the town’s utility services. The odd business followed – a café, a small gallery – along with the artists, writers and the like who are always the bedrock of gentrification. In 1993, Unesco declared the sassi a World Heritage Site. In 2003, Mel Gibson shot much of his film, The Passion of the Christ, in Matera’s barren but dramatic surroundings, bringing the town to wider attention. By 2006, some 2,000 people lived in the sassi, which – like Matera – were becoming chic. The arrival of smart hotels was only a matter of time. When Giuseppe’s aunt, Antonietta, finally returned to the

sassi to help make a documentary, she was bewildered, Giuseppe told me, to find that the cave she had once shared with animals had become one of the suites in Le Grotte della Civita. By any standards, Le Grotte is a luxury hotel. But this is not the luxury of a Four Seasons, say, or a Maldivian island idyll. Indeed, those seeking the trappings of conventional luxury may be disappointed. This is not a place to lie around the pool, because there is no pool. Nor are there minibars, televisions or phones. The floors are uneven, the rock walls unadorned. There is no restaurant. With a few exceptions, there are no windows. ather, this is the luxury of the unique experience, the luxury of the one-off, the luxury of a setting and backstory with which no other hotel can compete or compare. The fittings and furniture are salvaged from the past – old animal troughs double as bathroom basins, linens from ancient wedding trousseaux have become bedspreads, copper pots for milk and cheese-making are now waste-paper baskets, a carpenter’s bench is a table, a milking stool a chair. The project is the brainchild of Margareta Berg and Daniele Kihlgren, a Swedish-Italian philanthropist and devotee of the Albergo Diffuso, a movement launched in Italy in the Eighties to rescue some of the 17,000 Italian villages partly or completely abandoned after


years of emigration. The notion, as here, is that the hotel is not – beyond having a central reception and dining area – a single entity, but is “diffused” among converted historic properties in a community that guests are invited to “join”. There are around 40 such hotels in Italy. Kihlgren has another, Santo Stefano di Sessanio, a hamlet in Abruzzo, in central Italy. Croatia and Switzerland have adopted the model and Corsica is expected to follow. But Le Grotte della Civita is just one of many hotels, bars and restaurants in Matera. And if caves do not appeal, Francis Ford Coppola’s exclusive Palazzo Margherita (see page 40) is nearby, in Bernalda, as is the fine five-star Palazzo Gattini, a more conventional luxury hotel, with sublime spa, views and suites, that opened last year overlooking Matera’s beautiful Romanesque-Gothic cathedral. I passed the cathedral on my first evening in town, leaving my cave in the Grotte to wander up silent cobbled streets for dinner. I had learnt from Dora that food, like much else in Matera, is still in thrall to the past. In places such as Tuscany, restaurants have gloried in cucina povera for decades, but here, so ashamed were they of the peasant cooking of their parents, restaurateurs have felt able to explore the town’s traditional dishes only in the past two or three years. I ate one such, stracinate di grano arso, a pasta that owes its distinctive nutty flavour

This is the luxury of the unique experience, the luxury of the one-off

As old as the hills The sprawling sassi of Matera (right), where caves and houses meld, topped by the cathedral. Above: suite 209 at Palazzo Gattini, a conventional five-star hotel in Matera. Below: a light lunch at the Gattini


to its use of grano bruciato: grains of wheat “burnt” by the sun after lying in the stubble before being gleaned by the poorest peasants. After dinner, I plunged into the maze of the Sasso Barisano, the heart of the sassi. As I walked, another carless Italian city came to mind, for Matera’s unique townscape is as intact and extraordinary, in its way, as Venice, and exploring it at night, with barely a soul about, was just as strange and wonderful. Like Venice, the sassi are a labyrinth, all silence and shadows. You become lost, and quickly, stumbling into darkness, disoriented by dead-ends, courtyards and sudden vistas; deceived by abrupt turns and twisting alleys; bewildered by a succession of steps and stairways, dips and ridges; by a tumble of roofs, walls and different levels, where no two buildings are aligned; where one minute all is golden stone and time-worn cobbles, and the next, suddenly, all dark façades and the black, slightly sinister entrances of still-abandoned caves. Next morning, my first call was Santa Lucia alle Malve, one of 155 rupestrian (rock) churches in and around Matera. Anywhere else, these extraordinary frescoed caves, many of them only recently rediscovered, would be major attractions in their own right. Here they are just one more reason to visit this astonishing town. Beyond Santa Lucia lay the Sasso Caveoso, once the poorest part of the sassi and still largely abandoned. Matera is in Italy’s warm south, but this day was overcast, with a chill north wind, and under grey skies the enchantment of the previous evening had given way to something altogether more brooding and primitive. Buzzards flew overhead and goat bells tinkled in the gorge below. As I peered into the caves of the Sasso Caveoso, their entrances overgrown, interiors eerie, dark and dank, mould on the walls, rags and furniture scattered on earth floors – Matera’s past seemed suddenly close at hand. The ironies of a town transformed by the poverty that once defined it, of course, are legion. Matera is beautiful and fascinating, but its present fascination derives, in part, from ancient miseries. Yet on a cold day, as I walked back into Le Grotte della Civita, just minutes from the Sasso Caveoso, I, for one, was glad for the warmth, the luxury of a cave that had been prey, over hundreds, perhaps even thousands of years, to who knows what pains, what privations.

The luxury specialist Bailey Robinson (01488 689700, can tailor-make trips to Basilicata, staying at one or both of Le Grotte della Civita and Palazzo Margherita. Three nights’ b&b, staying in suites 4 or 21 at Le Grotte della Civita, costs from £690 per person; three nights’ b&b in the Sofia Suite at Palazzo Margherita costs from £1,790 per person, including private transfers and flights with British Airways to Bari, about 40 miles from Matera. The hotels Sextantio Le Grotte della Civita Albergo Diffuso (0039 0835 332744,; rooms from €100/£85, suites from €300; best suites 4, 14 and 21). Palazzo Gattini (0039 0835 334358,; rooms from €200, suites from €350; best suites 104, 210, 301 and 304). The fixer Ferula Viaggi (0039 0835 336572, offers guides, tours, vehicle hire with driver, hiking, biking and other activities in Matera and Basilicata. The low-down basilicataturistica. com; discoverbasilicata. com;;; turistica; twitter. com/Basilicata_Tur. For a range of 360degree virtual tours of Matera, see matera.




Personal touch Suite 9 (Francis) at Palazzo Margherita; Sofia Coppola with her father at the Palazzo door on her wedding day; and the property’s pool

AT HOME WITH THE COPPOLAS It is 1904, and in the town of

the director is a passionate

luxury hotel are consummately

in Italy. While a fine base, it has

Bernalda, in Basilicata, the young

hotelier – this is his fifth property,

ticked: details are considered

little to see. It is rough round the

Agostino Coppola is preparing to

his first in Europe. He is also an

and the technology is state-of-

edges, a world away from the

join the thousands of emigrants

advocate for Basilicata, and was

the art – Loewe televisions and

polished hill-towns of Tuscany.

from Italy’s impoverished

very much in the vanguard of

sound systems, Bang&Olufsen

But this is its charm. Those who

south in their quest for a new

those championing the region.

telephones. The exquisite linens

love Italy will love Bernalda

come from Quagliotti and the

for its unaffected glimpse into

life in America. Move forward

The Palazzo has nine suites,

a hundred years, to 2004, and

three of them located off the

toiletries are from Florence’s

the rhythms and rituals of

one of Agostino’s American

pretty garden (I would take Suite

historic Farmaceutica di Santa

small-town southern Italian life –

descendants, his grandson, has

1), and six grander suites on the

Maria Novella. Fresh flowers,

the same rhythms and rituals

returned there to buy a palace.

first floor. Of these, the best are

photographs, comfortable sofas,

with which Coppola evidently

those designed for their nominal

the garden (and its pool), the

feels so comfortable, and which,

director Francis Ford Coppola

“owners” – Francis (Suite 9), Sofia

wisteria-hung courtyard, the

for the most part, have remained

and the palace he bought is now

(4) and Roman, Coppola’s son

freedom to dine when and

little changed since the days of

the restored Palazzo Margherita

(7). All are different – Roman is

where you want, and the

his grandfather.

which, since it opened last year,

darker and more masculine;

warm, professional service

has emerged as one of southern

Francis has an Arabic theme, in

contrive to create a genuinely

years for the Coppola family

Italy’s finest new hotels.

homage to the time Coppola’s

intimate atmosphere.

to come home; now that they

That grandson is the film

The palazzo is a place for

Italian grandmother spent

“friends and family to call home

in Tunisia; and Sofia – very

a problem, is Bernalda itself,

in Italy,” says Coppola (his

much the standout suite – is

which I doubt had more than

Palazzo Margherita (0039 0835

daughter, Sofia, was married

bright, light and feminine.

a handful of foreign visitors


before Coppola’s arrival. It is not

garden suites from €360/£310;

there in 2011, for example) but

Coppola’s insistence that

The problem, if it is

It took exactly a hundred

have, why not join them?

the enterprise was inspired

this is a family home is not an

the first, or even the tenth or

palace suites from €800; Sofia

by more than sentiment, for

affectation. The boxes of any

twentieth place you would visit

suite from €1,100).



FIVE STAR TREATMENTS Can a spa regime really change your life? Five writers, including Heston Blumenthal and Karren Brady, set out with different goals â&#x20AC;&#x201C; from losing weight to calming the mind â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and check in for a holiday with a purpose

Body temple The pool at SHA Wellness Clinic, Alicante, Spain. Inset: Bodyism at the Bulgari Hotel, London; Heston Blumenthal; the hammam at Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, Turkey; healthy lunch at the Lonhea Alpine Clinic, Switzerland; and Karren Brady












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were, instead, the aforementioned blood tests on arrival, after which

Karren Brady at SHA Wellness Clinic,

I got a phone call. Crikey, what was it: the liver or the heart?

Alicante, Spain

Thankfully neither; both were in perfect order. What was a problem

THE GOAL Clean living, weight loss and relaxation. Not only were

health made me instantly feel 10 years younger!

was my cholesterol, which was too low. Discovering I was in perfect

my shoulders tight and my skin pale, but my mood… well, let’s just

On the exercise front, I went Nordic walking (highly

say it wasn’t lighthearted. I needed to offload tension, rebalance

recommended) and had a personal trainer who seemed only slightly

my life and escape one thing: my diary.

annoyed when she asked me how often I exercise and I replied:

THE TREATMENT I wasn’t looking my best (someone said I looked

“Never.” Why? “Because I don’t want to.” I bounced on a large beach

like a man in drag – yes, charming!), so I decided to take the hard

ball and did 10 minutes on a machine, experiences I will not be

route and choose the detox and weight-loss programme: the

repeating. I preferred to swim every day and read books.

strictest of them all. On arrival you have a series of blood tests,

I also had lots of body treatments, ranging from a shiatsu

followed by a complete medical check-up. Then your individual

massage, which involved lots of pulling, pressing and stretching

treatments are “prescribed”. Throughout the seven-day stay, there were plenty of weigh-ins and visits to the doctor. I had daily doses of shiatsu and massage (fantastic), acupuncture (hocus-pocus), hydro-jet sessions (like being pummelled by a water cannon), a lymphatic drainage treatment called presotherapy (odd), and a session with a personal trainer (we’ll come to that later). THE PLACE Near Villa de Altea, on a lovely mountainside

It was hell… Karren Brady (top) checked in at the SHA Wellness Clinic (above), where the food (right) was macrobiotic and limited to 500 calories a day. Below: the reception

(not relaxing) to a detoxifying seaweed bath and wrap (which started well, floating in a bath and being coated in a paste, but ended badly, being cannoned by a jet of cold water). The diet was strictly Kushi: macrobiotic, with only 500 calories a day, based on grains and vegetables and avoiding any processed or refined foods or animal products. A typical breakfast was a bowl of miso soup with two rice crackers and some apple purée; lunch

overlooking the Med. The modern complex – think hospital meets

was a broth and vegetable couscous; and dinner was a stuffed

five-star hotel – has large swimming pools and waterfalls,

mushroom followed by grilled vegetables with tofu. There were

hydrotherapy and treatment areas, and relaxation zones, from Zen

times when I felt quite sick with hunger, especially around 5pm.

areas to tropical gardens. All the big bedrooms have a terrace for

I could actually feel my stomach shrinking!

“naked sunbathing”, as recommended by one of the therapists (no

The result is that I have lost six pounds, I am browner than

thanks; even I don’t want to look at the body I’ve lugged there).

I have been in 20 years, my skin feels much softer, I’m relaxed and

THE THERAPIST Dr Vicente Mera, a medical practitioner from the

I feel great. I have since cut out red meat and am even considering

University of Seville, specialises in internal medicine and was

becoming a vegetarian. Interestingly, I have not eaten anything

extremely charming (he said I looked a lot younger than 44 and that

sweet, nor even fancied it. But I’ve still not been to the gym.

I had amazing skin, which made me like him. A lot). He

THE DETAILS Healing Holidays (020 7843 3597, healingholidays.

recommended treatments, healthy eating and a macrobiotic diet. is offering a seven-night weight-loss or detox programme at

HOW IT WENT Arriving was like stepping into a five-star hotel in

SHA Wellness Clinic from £2,955 per person, based on two sharing

Ibiza, and I could imagine myself sipping white wine while lazing on

a deluxe suite. The price includes a return flight with BA, transfers,

one of the white double loungers beneath a pergola. Except I was

three meals a day, consultations with a doctor, nutritionist,

there to lose weight, so there was no white wine for me. There

naturopath and personal trainer, plus massages and acupuncture.



Heston Blumenthal at Como Shambhala Estate, Bali THE GOAL I hadn’t been on a two-week holiday for

regime” was seriously brave for me. However, I did

three years, and I needed to get away and relax. I’m

stop short of colonics; my stiff upper lip kicked in.

also about to have a hip operation, so I wanted to

Normally, I do about 10 hours of exercise a week and

strengthen my core and get as fit as possible.

I’ve been interested in nutrition since I was a teenager.

THE TREATMENT Como Shambhala specialises in

But I don’t always practise what I know is good for me.

“wellness programmes” lasting three, five or seven

I eat lots of fruit, for instance, and it’s full of sugar, and

nights. I chose the stress management option, with the

I drink coffee, which stimulates the brain to produce

aim of slowing down, detoxing (usually, I’ll have two or

cortisol: not good, because it stops you burning fat. Meditation, I knew, would really help me unwind,

intake (some days I’ll taste about 70 dishes, which

so I did it every day. When I tried it once before, I lasted

doesn’t help the waistline).

about five minutes. This time, Mark got me to

After a visit to the doctor and the nutritionist,

concentrate on my breathing (in through the nose, out

a three-day programme was created, with daily

through the mouth) and helped me to focus my mind:

sessions of meditation (to help clear my mind), yoga

to concentrate on one thing, like the sounds of the

(for stretching and strengthening muscles), the

forest, or an object such as a raisin, say, for five or 10

Chinese movement therapy qigong (incredibly

minutes. By the end of three days, he had to bring me

relaxing) and aerobic sessions at the gym (my choice).

out of my “mindful” state after an hour, I was so

Detoxing was aided by a daily massage and a diet of

absorbed. The juices were delicious – the “Liven Up

juices made from vegetables, fruits, spices and herbs.

Your Liver” one, for instance, was apple, spinach,

THE PLACE The scenery was like something from The

cauliflower, garlic, ginger, turmeric – and oddly, I never

Lord of the Rings, with steep, mossy, grass-covered

felt hungry, although I did miss my wine. The

hills, tropical rainforests buzzing with insect and bird

acupuncture was really effective; David put something

life, and really pretty waterfalls. The rooms, arranged

hot at the end of the needles, and I came out feeling

around swimming pools and made from dark wood,

very energised. The yoga, the qigong and massages

were airy and spacious, with high ceilings and four-

helped me to empty my mind, stretch and relax.

posters swathed in mosquito nets. The public areas

I learnt that, although we are called “human beings”,

were all open-sided, which I loved because I’m

we don’t spend enough time being, and far too much

a fresh-air freak and always get hot (I get through

time doing. So, what I’m trying to do is change that.

about four chef’s whites a night when I’m cooking).

That floating feeling The spa at Como Shambhala Estate (above), surrounded by pools. Left: Heston Blumenthal, learning to meditate. Below: one of the treatment rooms. All public areas on the estate are open-sided and surrounded by forest

The result is that I lost six pounds in three days,

THE THERAPISTS A great mix of real pros: David

learnt to live without wine and am aiming to have only

Melladew, an American doctor and acupuncturist, who

vegetable juice two days a week – not easy when

trained in martial arts and spent time in a monastery

you’re a chef, but that’s how good it made me feel.

learning about Buddhism; Mark Chaves, a former

THE DETAILS Healing Holidays (020 7843 3597,

IT specialist and athlete from California who gave it up is offering a seven-night

to teach meditation and yoga; Eve Persak, a triathlete

Oriental Wellness Programme at Como Shambhala

and nutritionist; and chefs Heidi Flanagan and Amanda

from £3,150 per person. The price includes a return

Gale, who worked for Neil Perry in Australia.

flight, transfers, full-board accommodation, one

HOW IT WENT I am a real British male when it comes

wellness evaluation, three 60-minute acupuncture

to spas. To me, male grooming means toothpaste,

treatments, two 60-minute massages, two

toothbrush and shower gel, and on the beach I still

private qigong sessions and access to daily

cover up with a towel. So signing up to a “wellness

scheduled activities, from walks to yoga classes.


three glasses of wine a night) and reducing my calorie





WEIGHT LOSS Andrew Purvis

at the Bulgari Hotel, London THE GOAL Shedding a stone. I’m not obese, but I have that tendency, common in men my age, of looking like a python that has swallowed a goat – more Bulge-ari than Bulgari. Could I shed that middle-aged middle and tone up? THE TREATMENT Bodyism is the brainchild of James Duigan, who helps clients achieve “a long, lean athletic body” using exercise, diet and nutritional supplements. The first step is the Body Oracle, an assessment of why the body is hanging on to unwanted fat. Clients attend a gym session to learn their exercises, described in Duigan’s Clean & Lean Diet book, and are given a bespoke daily diet and fitness regime. Elle Macpherson, Rosie HuntingtonWhiteley and Hugh Grant are among Duigan’s admirers. THE PLACE The Bulgari is London’s most expensive hotel, within strolling distance of Harrods and Hyde Park. Its



Total immersion The lake-sized spa pool at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, and (below) Watsu therapist Deniz Susever in action


underground spa, an Italianate mix of green onyx, oak, Vicenza stone and mosaics, has 11 treatment rooms,


a relaxation room, a private spa suite for two, a pool and a fitness centre equipped with Technogym apparatus.

Johnny Morris at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay,

THE THERAPISTS Michael Tanner, a New Zealander, will be my Body Oracle analyst. A keen runner, he has helped

Bodrum, Turkey

clients prepare for marathons and triathlons. Dimitri “The

THE GOAL Unlocking tension and unwinding. Too many hours spent hunched over my

Assassin” Tkatchev, a dynamic Pilates specialist, will be

computer had fossilised my neck and shoulders and my default mood seemed set on snappy.

my trainer. He previously worked as a consultant at Models

THE TREATMENT Watsu, an aqua therapy that combines the comfort of warm water with the

1, conditioning fashion models for the catwalk.

therapeutic benefits of shiatsu massage (pressure-point manipulation). An American poet,

HOW IT WENT Dimitri took me through my 20-minute

Harold Dull developed the technique in the 1980s around the hot springs of California. Since

warm-up, teaching me exercises to do at home, including

then, Watsu has spread globally and has allegedly helped treat a range of problems including

“the bridge” (shoulders on the ground, hips in the air) and

high blood pressure, depression, backache and accumulated stress (that was me).

“the plank” (rigid in a press-up position, pulling the stomach

THE PLACE A luxury low-rise resort hotel on the shores of the Aegean Sea, a 20-minute sail

in) but also routines using the “mini band” – a rubber strap

east of Bodrum in Turkey. At the centre of the resort is an enormous spa that comfortably

worn round the knees or ankles while in a squat position

accommodates 16 treatment rooms, a lake-like indoor pool, two cavernous hammams and

and doing stepping exercises. The gym is equipped with

a custom-built Watsu pool maintained at an inviting 34C.

larger bands, anchored to the apparatus. The idea is to use

THE THERAPIST Deniz Susever, the hotel’s consultant practitioner, trained as a yoga instructor

your own body weight as resistance, causing lengthening

in Rishikesh, India. After pioneering her own form of underwater yoga, it was a natural next step

of the muscle fibres rather than bunching. Dimitri proposed

to master Watsu. The calm and confident Deniz speaks excellent English (and appropriately her

an eight-minute sequence of five exercises each morning,

name in her native Turkish means “sea water lover”).

followed by a 20-minute walk. This was to be combined

HOW IT WENT Forgetting my swimming trunks wasn’t the best way to start a relaxation

with three gym sessions a week lasting 20 to 40 minutes.

session. Fortunately, the water in the Watsu pool was deep enough (about 5ft) to hide my M & S

I went to see Michael, who used calipers to measure

boxer shorts and Deniz was kind enough to ignore my spa faux-pas. She strapped a pair of

the fat on my cheek, navel area, ankle and even man-boob,

buoyancy bands to my legs that allowed me to stretch out like a starfish in the unchlorinated

sites that reveal lots about hormones, stress and sleep

water. After a spot of synchronised breathing, she began to swing me gently around the roomy

patterns, apparently. The bad news: I weighed 13st 12lb.

pool. Working like an acrobat, Deniz used the centrifugal force from the weight of my body to

Then came the dietary advice: a 15-day detox with no

stretch my muscles and joints. She applied pressure at specific points while bending me around

alcohol, coffee or carbs, then a less extreme version

herself like a bow. Gradually she folded me into a foetal position and the water became still.

thereafter. My plan proposed smoked haddock and watercress omelette for breakfast one day, wild salmon, spinach and mixed nuts the next – fine if you have a personal shopper and chef (and most Bulgari Bodyists probably do). In practice, I stuck to the principles but not the detail, eating fish for breakfast and salad for lunch. At first, the paunch stubbornly remained. After three weeks, I still weighed 13st 3lb but when I stepped on the scales four weeks later, I was shocked: 12st 7lb, a weight loss of one-and-a-half stone in seven weeks. Easy. THE DETAILS The Body Oracle costs £300. Sessions with a trainer are available only to Bulgari Spa members (£5,000 a year plus £2,000 joining fee) and cost from £100 an hour to £250 an hour for James Duigan himself (


Bobbing close to Deniz’s waist felt primitive, peaceful, reassuringly safe. The water waltz of


stretching and massage then resumed and culminated in my head being cradled on her shoulder. Hearing Deniz’s heartbeat heightened the intimacy of the therapy and it was at this point that I began to cry. Not huge sobs, just soft tears that merged with the water. Deniz then assumed a prayer pose to mark the end of the 50-minute session. I felt reborn. Later in the week I tried a Waterdance treatment, but the nose clip and the underwater manipulation felt like waterboarding rather than therapy, and I panicked. Deniz explained that I needed many more Watsu sessions, and perhaps a night in the steam rooms before I was ready for the advanced technique. More conventional Watsu sessions were no hardship and my accumulated tension began to flow away in the warm water of the pool. On my last morning, as I drove away from the shores of the Aegean Sea, my body felt unfurled and my default mood had been reset to mellow. Good work Mr Dull – and thank you Deniz. THE DETAILS A double room at the Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay costs from £200 per night. Each 50-minute, one-to-one Watsu session costs £90 (

5 spa essentials

Peak practice Massage among the mountains; personal trainer Xavier Gerfaud; and the living room at the Lonhea Alpine Clinic

Many of the most progressive beauty products have been developed by leading therapists around the world. Kate Shapland highlights five of the best


Bliss Glamour Gloves The Bliss spa founded in SoHo by Marcia Kilgore in 1996 helped build New York’s reputation as a well-groomed city. These gloves, lined with a self-activating layer of moisturising vitamin-E gel and grapeseed oil, are applied during Bliss spa facials to nourish parched hands while the facialist works her magic. £36.80,


using a terrifying-looking hook; and the Portuguese

Alpine Clinic Switzerland

cook Pedro Alexandre, the Ottolenghi of the Alps,

THE GOAL I spend my life in offices, at functions, on

for breakfast and oriental ginger salmon for lunch to

planes and in hotels, hence my body size (the largest

inventive, well-spiced salads and fresh sorbets for

it has ever been) and my level of fitness (dire; I pant

dinner (no protein is allowed after lunchtime).

running for a bus). What I needed was time off to help

HOW IT WENT Having analysed the results of

me refocus on my health rather than my deadlines.

a fitness test and in-depth lifestyle questionnaires,

THE TREATMENT The clinic insists its aim is not

Golay set up a bespoke regime. Mine comprised

weight loss or fitness, but long-term health. Most

45 minutes on a treadmill each day, 45 minutes of

guests, from Alzheimer’s patients to national athletes,

personal training, an hour of physiotherapy, two

stay one or two weeks and continue a tailor-made

hours of fast mountain hiking, and a yoga class

whose delicious meals ranged from Bircher muesli

regime at home for four months. The man in charge

followed by a massage. My heart rate was

is Dr Michel Golay, a chiropractor who believes is stimulation of what he calls the “reptilian brain” (the oldest part, which regulates everyday instinctive actions) and the intestinal bacteria are well-fed and

monitored during exercise and sleep



to see how my body responded to exercise (badly) and repaired itself during the night (equally badly: on a scale of zero for


burnout patients and 200 for

balanced. His Lonhea programme aims to

professional athletes, my score

stimulate the brain through exercise and

was 40, indicating an urgent need to

physiotherapy, and to feed the gut with prebiotics

slow down). After the first day’s exercise,

(good food that nourishes the intestinal flora) and, if

I could hardly walk because I was so stiff. But Xavier

necessary, probiotics (good bacteria).

kept on calmly pushing me (literally, sometimes, up

THE PLACE Situated in the village of Villars-sur-Ollon,

mountains), Rose kneaded my knotted muscles and

at an altitude of 1,300m, the clinic comprises three

stretched me in yoga poses, Pedro brightened my

traditional Swiss chalets overlooking the world’s most

days with sensational food, and Golay plied me with

expensive school, Beau Soleil, with the Alps as

articles to read about the gut and probiotics, and

a stunning backdrop. The nine bedrooms are simply

sent me home with a tailored personal-training plan.

decorated and the compact gym and spa are


La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Cream This is the signature anti-ageing cream of the prestigious Swiss retreat overlooking Lake Léman, celebrated for its advanced anti-ageing spa therapies. A protein-rich formula gives tangible firming, brightening and energising benefits, and a rested, youthful appearance to the skin. Some believe it’s the best anti-ageing topical you can buy. £278,

loosened the tense fibres between my skull plates

Lisa Grainger at the Lonhea

optimum health can only be achieved if there

Elemis Lime and Ginger Salt Glow Elemis does a dedicated body-buffing ritual with this exotic, crunchy scrub in its spas on luxury cruise ships to prepare clients’ bodies for a swimsuit. It cleanses, invigorates, polishes and enhances circulation, and is usually followed by an application of warm, softening oil, drizzled on to the skin. £36.50,

Four days later, I haven’t lost weight – but I have

equipped with Technogym machines, a hammam,

lost 3 per cent of my fat mass, I feel 100 per cent

a Jacuzzi and infra-red and outdoor saunas.

healthier, and I have just turned down chocolate on

THE THERAPISTS Golay has assembled an able

a Swiss Air flight. In my universe, that means the

team: the super-fit French climber Xavier Gerfaud to

change has begun.

train panting lumps like me with admirable patience;

THE DETAILS Seven days’ treatment, a Garmin

the British physiotherapist and yoga teacher Rose

exercise watch and heart monitor and a four-month

Caseley, who massaged my digestive system back

home exercise programme, with online analysis

into working order, unknotted my neck muscles and

every two weeks, costs from £5,225 (

Borghese Fango Active Mud From the heart of Italy’s spa country – the Villa di Borghese retreat in the Tuscan Hills founded by Princess Marcella Borghese – this deep-cleansing mud contains mineral-rich “aqua di vita” (living water) complex, sourced from Tuscan earth. The mud is legendary for its detoxifying and toning benefits. £25,

Thalgo Aromacéane Relax Essential Oil Blended by thalassotherapists at the respected Thalgo spa in the French resort of La Baule, this is rich in skin-conditioning algae, which the company has been harvesting from the Brittany coast for 40 years. It also contains rose and camomile, and works best as a bath soak. £29.92,

(1) Ponant bonus fare based on two people sharing a cabin, excluding pre/post transport, port and security taxes. Ponant bonus fare is susceptible to change depending on the availability at the moment of the reservation. More informations on

Luxury Cruising by Compagnie du Ponant

ASIA: A YACHTING ESCAPE BETWEEN EARTH & SEA From the Japan of the Samurais to the impossibly green rice terraces of Bali through the legendary Ha Long Bay, cruising with Compagnie du Ponant offers the privilege of waking each morning to a different landscape of eternal Asia and discovering its most beautiful sights. The brand new 132-cabin, 5-star yacht LE SOLEAL reaches some of Asia’s best kept secrets while treating guests to unrivalled passenger service, the finest cuisine and a bilingual crew ready to tend to your every need. Discover the treasures of the World by sea. Winter 2013-2014 – 17 departures from £1950(1)

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0800 980 40 27

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On a pioneering trek across Cuba on horseback, Minty Clinch charts a land of red-earth escarpments, surreal sierras and hilltop ďŹ ncas where cockďŹ ghting and criollo cooking are aspects of a lifestyle soon to be lost as Castroism fades


Other-wordly Limestone hummocks called mogotes (above) rise 1,000ft from the valley floor near Viñales. Left to right: Raul Mohena-Ribero riding Jibaro, a chestnut stallion he trained himself; Cuban cigars; a vacquero, “the equal of any Rocky Mountain cowboy”; a rider exchanging greetings with a local in the tobacco fields of La Gaubina estate; and the church on the main square in Viñales





Luxury Under Sail in the West Indies A Cuban & Caribbean Odyssey aboard the magnificent Sea Cloud II 8th to 25th March 2015 Just when winter seems to be endless, it is the perfect time to escape to the warmth and beauty of the West Indies. Join us aboard Sea Cloud II and let us show you a very different world to that inhabited by the new breed of mega-cruise ships and some of the most delightful islands. Every island is different, each with its own unique character, and by and large during this voyage we will head for the smaller less visited places. Occasionally our paths will cross with the mega-factory like cruise ships and it is at such times we will appreciate even more how fortunate we are to be enjoying our classic ship that embodies all the best sailing traditions. To be on deck when the sails are fully extended, as we navigate through the West Indies, is a marvellous experience. The forces of nature and ingenuity of man combining in the most natural of ways allows us to experience the thrill of sailing and a form of transport that has existed since the earliest of times and the itinerary is planned to incorporate adequate time to appreciate this magnificent vessel under sail.

The Itinerary Day 1 - London to Havana, Cuba. Fly by scheduled indirect flight. Arrive in Havana and transfer to Sea Cloud II. Day 2 Havana. Nowhere in the whole of the West Indies do the centuries of New World history come to life in such a dramatic way as in Old Havana. We will explore its twisting, cobbled streets that lead to beautifully restored Baroque churches, castles and palaces. The afternoon will be at leisure to explore

Havana independently and this evening we have arranged for local musicians to come onboard and perform for us. Day 3 Havana. Our tour today will include a drive along the harbour to the outskirts of the city until we reach San Francisco de Paula where we will visit Hemingway’s former residence Finca Villa Vigía, today a museum. Continue on to the fishermens’ village of Cojimar, background for Hemingway’s nobel prize winning novel “The Old Man and the Sea”.

Sea Cloud II Whilst there are many large sailing ships offering passages around the world there are few if any that can compare in terms of luxury to Sea Cloud II. Watching the 29,600 square feet of sails being set by hand is a truly magical sight. Standing on the dock and looking up at the vessel you cannot help but be impressed by the sheer majesty of the vessel. Walk up the gangway and on to the deck and it is even more impressive. And, the splendour does not end here; below deck is a sumptuous world of traditional maritime influences with 21st century luxuries. Well appointed cabins and public areas create a restful atmosphere totally in keeping with the overall grandeur of the vessel.

Day 4 Maria La Gorda. Enjoy a relaxing morning at sea as we cruise around the west coast of Cuba and the resort of Maria La Gorda. Renowned as one of the top dive sites in Cuba we will have the opportunity to snorkel amongst the 6,500 varieties of fish, sponges and molluscs, enjoy a nature walk or simply relax on a white sandy beach.

Day 5 Nueva Gerona, Isla de Juventud. Located some 50 miles from Cuba’s south coast, this attractive island is famous for its beaches, coral reefs and densely forested hills. It is also home to the Presido Modelo, where Fidel Castro was imprisoned from 1953 to 1955. Day 6 Cienfuegos. Cienfuegos is a laid back maritime city with a lazy, tropical atmosphere. In colonial times it was known as the ‘Pearl of the South’, a name earned from its lovely location on a picturesque Caribbean bay. Explore the town, the Terry Theatre where Caruso used to sing and enjoy a drink at the stunning Palacio del Valle. Day 7 Casilda for Trinidad. The compact colonial centre of Trinidad is one of the most sublime in Latin America. The cobbled streets, terracotta rooftops and pastel coloured houses are a delight. We will spend the morning here exploring.

Built to accommodate 96 passengers in five star luxury, she offers a range of beautifully appointed suites and cabins which are furnished with great style. All accommodations have outside views and the bathrooms are unusually spacious and extremely comfortable. No expense has been spared to create a sympathetic ambience in both the accommodations and public areas and this is reflected throughout the vessel. Public areas include an elegant lounge, library, fitness centre, boutique, lido bar and hospital. The single sitting dining room is airy and modern and the quality of the cuisine and service will be to the highest of standards, as one would expect on a Sea Cloud II cruise. Relax on the Lido deck and experience the natural grandeur of travelling under sail, rekindling memories of a bygone age.

species of marine fauna and large fish but is famous for its shark population. Day 9 Santiago de Cuba. After a morning at sea, arrive in Santiago de Cuba. Our tour will commence with a panoramic drive through the city including stops at the Moncada Garrison, which still bears bullet holes from Fidel Castro’s attempted coup in 1953 and also take in the imposing Plaza de la Revolucion. We will drive out of the city through lush tropical scenery to the Castillo del Morro which guards the entrance to the harbour, affording magnificent views. Day 10 At sea. Relax on deck and attend a lecture or two.

Day 11 Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement. Founded by Bartholomew Columbus in 1496, the city is a mix of old-world charm and modern Latin flair which we will discover on a morning walking tour. Day 12 At sea. Relax onboard and experience the joy of travelling under sail.

Day 13 Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands. These islands are recognised throughout the seafaring world as one of the finest sailing areas. The thirty six islands and cays sit in a dazzling turquoise sea surrounded by beautiful coral reefs. We will drop anchor at Virgin Gorda, one of the principal islands of this charming and unspoiled British Crown

colony and spend the morning ashore. Day 14 Jost Van Dyke. Today we will enjoy a beach BBQ on the little visited hideaway island of Jost Van Dyke. Day 15 St Barthelemy. We spend the day at St Barthelemy, a gem of an island. Very French in atmosphere it is only eight square miles, yet is one of the most beautiful in the whole of the Caribbean. Mellow green mountains, coral sand coves and dolls house-size capital make this one of the most appealing ports in the area. It is also one of the most sophisticated with excellent French restaurants, ultra-expensive hotels, smart yachts in the harbour and a relaxed atmosphere.

Day 16 Nevis. True, most of the old plantations are now deluxe resorts, but then you can see why they have chosen this little bit of paradise. On an island drive we will visit the Nelson Museum and Botanical Gardens. Day 17 Antigua to London. Disembark this morning and transfer to the airport for our scheduled flight to London. Day 18 London. Arrive this morning.

Prices & Inclusions Day 8 Cruising Jardins de la Reina. We

Special offer prices range from £7495 for a deluxe double stateroom to £9995 for a luxury owner’s suite. Staterooms for sole use from £9495.

continue cruising the south coast of Cuba and will pass through the Jardins de la Reina archipelago. The area was named by Christopher Columbus to honour the Queen of Spain and at 75 miles long contains the third longest barrier reef in the world. The reef is home to many

Price Includes: Economy class scheduled air travel, 16 nights aboard Sea Cloud II on a full board basis with house wine and beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner, services of a cruise director, tour manager, guest speaker, shore excursions, gratuities to crew, transfers, port taxes. Not Included: Travel insurance, visas, gratuities on excursions. NB. Ports subject to change and local conditions. All special offers are subject to availability. Our current booking conditions apply to all reservations.

Call us today on 020 7752 0000 for your copy of our brochure. Alternatively view or request online at


at dusk. he duel took place p Two young Cubans met on the dirt strip outside the stallion barn. No saddles, rope bridles, steely determination. They jumped their handsome Appaloosa horses off a notional starting line, lashing them into action with sticks and harsh cries. The animals knew the drill. Ears pricked, nostrils flaring, they surged up the hill as if the Derby were the prize. Steam rose in the humid air as the riders pulled up and pumped fists, but the appearance of a mounted policeman in the back of beyond was a cause for concern. When our tour leader, Richard Dunwoody, twice winner of the Grand National and triple champion National Hunt jockey, laid down a challenge, the winner accepted eagerly, but the next evening he failed to show. Horse racing has been banned in Cuba since Fidel Castro took over in 1959, so taking on a foreigner might have proved too risky, even at this level of informality. Or perhaps Dunwoody’s rival had been unavoidably detained at the cockfight. After two nights on the Hemingway trail in Habana Vieja (Old Havana), riders accompanying Dunwoody on this Wild Frontiers expedition had relocated to Cuba’s leading stud farm, Rancho La Gaubina, in Pinar del Río, the most westerly province on the island. There are 200 horses on the state-owned property, including 40 prized Appaloosa and Pinto Cubano skewbald (brown and white) stallions, and 80 mares on a mission to breed quality working animals for farms around the country. Dunwoody’s agenda was to ride and camp in the Cordillera de Guaniguanico which runs parallel to the northern coastline. “Camping is too dangerous in such wet conditions,” our hosts announced firmly as we arrived under a blazing sun beating down on tranquil foothills. A cynic might think that filling an empty lodge was easier, even more profitable, than providing catering and transport for a camping expedition. For my part, I couldn’t possibly say, but I can confirm that group spirits rose when we saw our new compulsory quarters, a handsome hilltop finca (farmhouse) overlooking a lake. Built in 1956, in the final days of privilege, it remained in private hands for three years before it was taken over by the state. Today it has five spacious double rooms in the main house, with balconies, bathrooms and air conditioning, and four more in a separate cottage. One of our party, Marigold Verity, a celebrated harpist from Dorset, inspected the lawns, the rampant bougainvillea and the swimming deck with approval. “Better than sleeping in tents,” she said conspiratorially, settling down on a shady terrace with a cold drink. After lunch, we headed to the barn to check out the horses. They proved to be tough, wiry stock, bred to do a job rather than look pretty, the more so because grooming is not a Cuban priority. Titan, immediate successor to Brutus and Caesar in my register of classically named holiday mounts, had a lot to live up to. He tossed his head in its turquoise rope bridle as I approached and skittered away when I tried to get on. I reserved judgment while stirrups were adjusted and girths tightened. As Titan slouched down the track, resolutely ignoring encouragement of any kind, I looked for a magic wand in the undergrowth. With a single tap, my frog became a prince. I have rarely had better on a riding trip.

We were an unusually disparate group: a Russian couple, an American, an Australian, a Kiwi and a handful of Brits. Andrei, the great-grandson of an officer in the Tsar’s armies who was shot by Stalin in the 1930s, lives outside Midhurst, West Sussex, and shares a chimney sweep and a fence builder with his neighbour, Roman Abramovich. As befits a man whose hobby is reenacting Borodino and Austerlitz on horseback, he rode in military-style breeches, a tunic and a pith helmet. As a professor and historian, he developed a rapport with James, an ophthalmic surgeon from South Carolina. So Russia engaged freely with America over dinners under Cuban stars, a discussion fuelled by mojitos, pina coladas and other concoctions involving rum liberally poured. Havana is known for its fresh fish and lobsters, but the countryside specialises in criollo meat dishes: local lamb, chicken, pork and beef served with olives and raisins and flavoured with sour orange, lime and lemon. Moros y Cristianos (literally “Moors and Christians”, but meaning black beans and rice) and ropa vieja (“old clothes” — shredded beef) appear on every menu. The diet is five-a-day: papaya, pineapple and guava for breakfast, and cabbage, tomato and cucumber salad for dinner. For a week, we took picnic lunches and explored the countryside around La Gaubina. In the sierra to the north, the tracks were steep and gnarly, the bright red soil eroded into deep fissures by tropical storms. When the forest closed in, the horses forced a passage along narrow bush trails, climbing with passive endurance, descending with reassuring agility. To the south, the wider horizons around the lake provided good galloping over pastures used to graze goats, donkeys and Brahman cattle. Where ploughing is required, the silvery, hump-backed bulls lean into their yokes, a scene unchanged since the breed was imported from India in the mid 19th century. Simple farming villages provided a measure of astonishment on both sides, but the arrival of mounted strangers from another planet was always greeted with laughter and good cheer. Tin pans of yucca, one of several staple carbohydrates, bubbled on wood fires, turkeys and geese pecked the hard-packed earth between the shacks and rabbits chomped on their fodder, unaware that weighing in at 11lb would be a death sentence. Pride of place goes to caged jutia, an indigenous vegetarian tree rat of ferocious aspect and disposition. Like guinea pig in Peru, it is a delicacy from the “tastes like chicken” Jockeying for position Thirteen-year-old Matteolo practises his gaucho skills at La Gaubina; a “fighting cock” postage stamp from 1981; a tobacco drying shed near Viñales; Richard Dunwoody, twice winner of the Grand National, who leads the Wild Frontiers expedition



CUBA BASICS When to go November to April (drier, cooler). Practicalities Tourist card (£15) valid for 30 days. Departure tax 25 CUC (£16.50).

Key West

Convertible Cuban peso for visitors (1CUC =

GULF OF MEXICO Playa La Altura


Viñales Pinar del Rio

Currency Cuban peso (1CUP = 2p) for locals,


66p). Credit cards (except Amex and Diners Club) widely accepted in Havana. Exchange money or use ATM before leaving capital. Time difference UK -5hr. Flight time 9hr 40min, Virgin Atlantic direct from Gatwick.

100 miles

Tourist information


THE SILVERY BULLS LEAN INTO THEIR YOKES, A SCENE UNCHANGED SINCE THE 19TH CENTURY from the arena to watch the contenders ripping into feather and flesh. As empty beer cans accumulate, fistfuls of bank notes change hands and decibel levels soar. Each bout has only one winner, though even the survivor staggers out within a peck or so of death. By the time we left after a night of revelry to celebrate a guest’s birthday, the ranch felt like home – but staying on would have meant missing the great karst landscapes at Viñales. Spectacular mogotes (limestone outcrops) rise 1,000ft out of the valley floor, but it was the vernacular architecture of the tobacco farms and villages that prompted Unesco to make it a World Heritage site in 1999. It came as a shock to join a tourist queue for an underground boat ride through caves where runaway slaves once hid from plantation owners, but the souvenir stalls were a honeypot for my fellow travellers. By nightfall, we were alone in the wilderness again, this time at Mil Cumbres, a remote homestead built by a hero of the independence struggle shortly after Cuba’s liberation from Spain in 1895. Two days later, we had the sandy northern shore at La Altura to ourselves as we frolicked in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Gume looked uncharacteristically anxious when he


Vintage transport Gume Perez, the expedition’s local guide, with his 1956 Buick Belvedere; and oxen ploughing in tandem at Viñales


school of catering, but you would need to get past incisive rodent teeth and bristly grey hair to make a meal of it. When Raúl Castro legalised the trading of private property between permanent residents last November, he triggered a price war in Havana as expatriate Cubans based in Florida struck up partnerships with locals – often relatives – to buy back into heritage nationalised by Fidel more than half a century ago. Pinar del Río hasn’t felt the full force of the new laws yet, but the world’s finest tobacco fields are ripe for the plucking. In March, tall green plants ready to harvest and airy drying barns mark the richer farms in the heartland of the celebrated Cuban cigar industry. Aromatic leaves in varying stages of desiccation hang on wooden rails stacked tightly from floor to ceiling. Although a stray spark would torch the lot, I never saw a guard without a lit cigar in his mouth. The penalty for such a moment of inattention? Even our encyclopaedic guide, Gume Perez, couldn’t answer that as he bumped along on his pinto pony. Having studied in Dresden for five years, he speaks more than one language – and escorting wealthy foreigners means lavish payment in convertible Cuban pesos (CUCs), the designated currency for visitors. Roughly pegged to the US dollar, the CUC is worth 26 times more than the local Cuban peso (CUP). A surgeon moonlighting as a cabbie in a decrepit Lada could earn more in CUCs in a morning than he would in CUPs doing his day job for a month. As we rode, Gume pointed out hummingbirds, including the tocaroro, in the same red, white and blue colours as the national flag. His reward for explaining such things to rich Swiss in flawless German is ownership of a gleaming red and white 1956 Buick Belvedere. Under the long bonnet, it has a Lada carburettor and pistons, part of a range made to measure in the Soviet Union to keep 1950s American gas guzzlers on Cuban roads. La Gaubina is a lesson in gaucho culture at its most macho. Vacqueros (cowboys) use hard leather saddles, the high front horns slung about with sheathed machetes and rolls of barbed wire. Economics dictate jeans, T-shirts and wellies rather than stitched boots and fancy chaps, but their bronco riding and lassoing skills are the equal of any Rocky Mountain cowboy’s. And they love a cockfight. Every Sunday morning, queues form outside La Gaubina’s ring for a blood fest that runs from 11am to noon. Crowds jostle on basic plank seating rising steeply

came to say goodbye, preoccupied with an interview scheduled the following morning at the American Embassy in distant Havana. If he passed, he would be allowed to buy a visa for a month’s visit to the two sisters he hasn’t seen since they left for Miami 25 years ago. The Americans charge a prohibitive 150 CUCs for the five-minute chat, non-returnable whether they answer yes or no. At the moment of departure, Gume pressed the Buick’s starter. Nada! As his panic increased, the battery began to fail so we pushed the car into reluctant life and off he went. The cheers were loud the next day when we heard he’d made it – and had been green-lighted to travel. In the face of deprivation, overregulation and the need to create ingenious scams to beat the system, Cubans remain heart-warmingly upbeat. In part, this is due to their symbiotic relationship with the US, the neighbour they love for the lifestyle they crave, and loathe for the embargo that prevents them from enjoying it. Havana’s deep-water harbour is ready dredged to accommodate 2,000-cabin behemoths as soon as the floodgates open. At that point, Cuba will morph into Florida, with all the concrete that implies. It would be churlish to begrudge much-needed prosperity, but the clock is ticking. For Cuba unchanged, the time is now. Don’t leave it too long. Wild Frontiers (020 7736 3968, is offering an 11-night Cuba Horse Trek with Richard Dunwoody for £2,995 per person, based on two sharing (single supplement, £220). The price includes three nights’ hotel accommodation in Havana, a city tour by Cadillac, a six-day ride around Viñales and Trinidad, camping en route, and all meals. The next trip is from April 10-21, 2014. Virgin Atlantic (0844 209 7777, has direct flights in April from London to Havana from £800 return.


camps. Don’t miss Samode Palace, home


Explore the wetlands

to maharajas for the past 400 years.

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In peak season, this Caribbean island is the ostentatious playground of celebrities, but in April the mood shifts. Sandra Lane relishes the laid-back ambience of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth regatta


Finely tuned Yachts compete in Les Voiles de Saint-Barth, a week-long sailing regatta that marks the start of low season in St Barts, when the island returns to a more relaxed pace of life PHOTOGRAPHS BY CHRISTOPHE JOUANY


ExplorE. DrEAM.


What is it that makes Silversea the benchmark of luxury cruising? The cuisines by Relais & Châteaux? The all-inclusive luxury? The sumptuous suites with Ferragamo soaps... the butler who anticipates your every need? Or perhaps it is Silversea’s European heritage that so appeals to well-travelled, international guests. Aboard our ships you can explore secluded harbours less touched by time and tourists. Insider access in the world’s great cities. Bespoke tours so that you can roam where you please. Hardly what you would expect on an ordinary cruise. But then this is small-ship cruising. And we are Silversea.

For more information or to book, please call Silversea on 0844 251 0841, visit or contact your travel agent.



Shooting the breeze The crew party at Pebble Beach, St Barts. Right: Jolt 2, helmed by Peter Harrison. Below: the casual mood (and dress) of St Barts in low season

he superyachts that have crowded the tiny horseshoe of Gustaviaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s port throughout the winter months have gone and in their place are sailing boats that restore a sense of scale to St Bartsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; cute capital. The pace has changed, too, with the rather frenzied air that accompanies the motor yachts giving way to a slower, carefree vibe. The designer labels and glittery sandals have been replaced by shorts and deck shoes; in the dockside bars and bistros people are enjoying each otherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s company rather than craning their necks to spot a celebrity. This is the week of Les Voiles de Saint-Barth, a quietly glamorous regatta that takes place every April. It brings yachties from all over the Caribbean and beyond to enjoy the end-of-season sense of relaxation, renew friendships with other sailors, and compete ďŹ ercely on the water. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a very different St Barts from the BeyoncĂŠ-on-the-beach place so beloved by the paparazzi. The regatta was established four years ago by three sailing friends who live here. Already, it has its devoted regulars â&#x20AC;&#x201C; among them the photographer Patrick Demarchelier, who owns a house on the island and a gorgeous 53ft Swan yacht called Puffy. For him, as for

Jim Swartz, a Silicon Valley venture capitalist and owner of Vesper, which swept the board this year, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a nonnegotiable date. For others who turn up, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the result of success the previous year â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the prize for the winner in each class is a weekâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s stay in a villa on the island. Les Voiles signed up the watchmaker Richard Mille ( as principal sponsor from the start, which was a wise move. The regatta organisers and Milleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s management are determined to keep the event relaxed and emphatically paparazzo-free. Most people think of St Barts (the name is an anglicism; Saint-BarthĂŠlemy is the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s full, correct name) as a luxury playground for the wealthy â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a wintersun St Tropez. And, like St Tropez, St Barts has morphed over the years from barefoot hideaway to winter-season celebrity favourite. It even has a branch of Nikki Beach. That St Barts, as portrayed in the gossip magazines, is show-off central: there go Simon Cowell, Sean Combs, Gwen Stefani, Michael Kors, Mariah Carey, Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Donatella Versace and so on. But, in truth, even during those three intense months of winter, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a quiet life going on here. The genuine

Yachties come to renew friendships and enjoy the relaxed, end-of-season vibe LCKI8KI8M<C 


Island life Gustavia, above, the main port in St Barts, is filled with sailing boats in low season. Right: whipping up a cocktail at Bonito restaurant. The infinity pool at the Christopher, below, and Jay-Z and BeyoncĂŠ on the water in high season

The islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s signature scent is a mix of frangipani blossom and freshly baked baguettes


Villas St Barths Online (

Le GaĂ?ac Michelin-starred French cuisine

Air France (0871 663 3777, airfrance.

has two-bedroom cottages from ÂŁ1,875.

(00590 590 278 888,

com) flies via Paris from ÂŁ1,588 in April.


Nikki Beach The celebritiesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Caribbean


Bonito Modern French cooking with

outpost on St Jean Beach (00590 590 276

Hotel Christopher Contemporary style

a Latin accent in Gustavia (00590 590 279


on the waterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s edge at Pointe Milou


DĂľ Brazil Beach bistro on Shell Beach

(00590 590 276 363, hotelchristopher.

(00590 590 290 666,

com; doubles in April from ÂŁ385).


Le Toiny Romantic villa suites above the

Les Voiles de St-Barth (00590 590 272

bay of Le Toiny (00590 590 278 888,

064;; doubles from ÂŁ757).

Yacht charter Performance Yacht

Eden Rock Deluxe Robinson Crusoe on

Charter has yachts for experienced race

St Jean Beach (00590 590 297 999,

teams to hire from ÂŁ9,995 (07795 955; doubles from ÂŁ629).



villas make up more than 60 per cent of the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s holiday accommodation. The hotels, too, are little bigger than villas â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the largest has 76 rooms and the smallest a mere eight. Our hotel for the ďŹ rst couple of nights, the Christopher, is at Pointe Milou â&#x20AC;&#x201C; set in a quiet corner where the waves break against the rocks below a vast inďŹ nity pool. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the epitome of understated luxury: limestone and polished-concrete ďŹ&#x201A;oors, natural wood, ďŹ ne linens. From the Christopher, we moved to a house at the quiet end of St Jean Beach. Here, without needing to lift my head from the pillow, my view in the morning took my eye across the lawn, beyond the palm trees, over the white sand to blue sea and blue sky. A swim before breakfast was the perfect prelude to a dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sailing. For some people, Les Voiles is business. Peter Harrison is the CEO of Richard Mille for Europe and the Middle East, and is a keen sailor. He was racing here at the helm of Jolt 2, a custom-built Baltic 45 racer-cruiser that he bought last year. I was invited to help crew it. Given that Harrison had two professional sailors and another skilled racer on board, my role was limited, but sitting up there on the rail meant I could see the action, and catch the sun and spray as we circled the island. An unfortunate accident (man overboard â&#x20AC;&#x201D; one of the professional sailors, ironically) during the third dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s racing meant disqualiďŹ cation for Jolt 2, but at least it meant we were able to drop anchor in a quiet bay for a beach picnic. It wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t full compensation for dropping out of the race, but it helped. As did the more formal dining. At the stylish, Latin American-accented Bonito, perched above Gustavia, we enjoyed a sublime dinner. We tucked into another memorable meal at Le GaĂŻac at Hotel Le Toiny, where StĂŠphane Mazières holds a Michelin star. Les Voiles brings its own mood to St Barts. On the regattaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ofďŹ cial mid-week day off, a six-hour, rosĂŠdrenched lunch at Nikki Beach culminated in dancing on the tables, with crew members and yacht owners all


A-listers â&#x20AC;&#x201D; Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, George Lucas â&#x20AC;&#x201D; stay well under the radar, tucked away in secluded villas. You might ďŹ&#x201A;eetingly spot one in the supermarket, but you wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see them in the clubs and bars. To most of the locals, the stars are little more than a mild curiosity anyway. When you live all year round in paradise, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re hard to impress. They are fond of relating how the obsessively private Steve Martin, when he ďŹ rst came to the island many years ago, would disguise himself with cap and sunglasses â&#x20AC;&#x201C; until he realised that nobody cared who he was. And, for the locals, Les Voiles marks the return of the island to the pace of life they prefer. Not so much St Tropez as Ă&#x17D;le de RĂŠ â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a chic idyll with a boho edge, constant sunshine and warm breezes. Its signature scent is a beguiling mix of frangipani blossom and the unmistakably French smell of freshly baked baguettes in the morning. Its colours would thrill Miranda Priestly of The Devil Wears Prada: itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;not just blue, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not turquoise. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not lapis. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s actually cerulean.â&#x20AC;? Actually, the sea is all of those â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and every other tone between pale aquamarine and deep indigo. The hills are dotted with the sloping red roofs of traditional villas, the odd burst of bougainvillea, and dark green tropical trees. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just enough to tame the rocky islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s rawness. nd raw it still is, in places. We rented a small open-top 4x4 car, grabbed a gourmet picnic hamper prepared by our hotel and buzzed around the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s narrow, twisty roads exploring its wild side and its glorious beaches. Despite the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s tiny size, each of its 17 beaches has its own character. Corossol, for example, is a step back in time â&#x20AC;&#x201C; this is where some of the oldest St Barts families still live. We headed to Flamands, on the northwestern peninsula â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a surferâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hang-out fringed by sun-faded cottages. Then, winding back up the hill, we parked as close as we could to Colombier and walked for 30 minutes down to the beach â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a nature reserve where even those who come by boat are strictly monitored so they do not disturb the sea bed. This is where David Rockefeller owned land for many years. Last year his sprawling villa was bought for a reported $90million (ÂŁ58million) by Roman Abramovich â&#x20AC;&#x201C; who has been showing up on one or other of his yachts for the past few years, and hosting a lavish New Yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Eve party rivalled only by that held by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft, on his yacht. The hills above Colombier are home to some of the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most desirable properties, although a drive-by wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t reveal much. You wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see any Hollywood Hillsstyle electric gates. Houses here are relatively isolated, in breeze-catching locations with fabulous views. The same goes for Pointe Milou, the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s northeastern tip. On one side, villas spill down the hillside to Marigot Bay â&#x20AC;&#x201C; its seclusion and tiny size making it, in effect, a private beach â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and on the other, they face Lorient Bay and a string of offshore islets. The beauty is that many of these houses are available to rent;

joining in and nobody giving a ďŹ g about how cool they looked. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;crewâ&#x20AC;? barbecue at the toes-in-the-sand DĂł Brasil bar-restaurant on Shell Beach was equally relaxed and democratic. This inclusive style is the real appeal of Les Voiles. It embraces large and small yachts, world-class sailors and those who just love the buzz of being on the water. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ďŹ ne, too, if you simply want to watch from the beach as the ďŹ&#x201A;eet sails by, then head to the regatta bar on the dock when the boats come in. Out on the water, the race organisation is superb; courses are enjoyable for amateurs, yet technically demanding enough to satisfy sailors who have competed in the Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cup. But itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not just the professionals who want to win the race; most of the yacht owners have got to where they are in life by competing ďŹ ercely in business, and they bring the same spirit to their sailing. For all the camaraderie, coming ďŹ rst matters a great deal to some. The ofďŹ cial overall prize â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a titanium Richard Mille RM 028 Diver watch â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is just a bonus, especially when youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re the type of person who can easily afford to buy several of them. And hereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the thing: when the season ends, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not that the money leaves St Barts along with the celebrities; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s just that a different kind of money takes its place â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the low-proďŹ le, or no-proďŹ le, kind. While it may be fashionable to say that St Barts is â&#x20AC;&#x153;overâ&#x20AC;? at this time of year, it really isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s magic.


Big night Charlotte Hawkins, left, presenting the Ultratravel 100 awards. Above: a forum with Eamonn Holmes and presenters. Right: the ULTRA trophy. Below: Charles Starmer-Smith, head of Telegraph Travel, with Fiona Bruce and Mary Nightingale


Bid in our silent auction for one of 22 luxury trips, urges the Sky News presenter Charlotte Hawkins, and help to fund research and support for those, like her father, who are living with motor neurone disease Back in May I had the pleasure of

gives up around you. About 5,000 people in the UK have MND

hosting the Ultratravel 100 awards at

at any one time, and half will die within 14 months of diagnosis.

the Dorchester in London. It is an

Life is tough not only for those affected by the disease, but


event that takes place every year, and

for the carers who watch the person they love disappear before

Donated by Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts and Emirates

not only celebrates the very best in

their eyes. The Motor Neurone Disease Association has been

Seven nights in a Duplex Suite at Burj Al Arab in Dubai – voted by

luxury travel, but also raises funds

one of the organisations that has helped my dad – offering

Ultratravel readers as the best hotel in the world – with breakfast

for a chosen charity.

advice and support, lending much-needed equipment as his

and return Business Class flights from the UK on Emirates.

mobility deteriorates, and offering advice and information

Minimum bid £7,500

This year, I am very grateful that a cause close to my heart can benefit:

through its website ( Crucially, the MND

the Motor Neurone Disease Association. It’s a national charity

Association is also at the forefront of trying to find out more

that supports those with motor neurone disease (MND) and

about this disease through research, to understand what

their carers. As a family we were all devastated when my father,

causes it, and how to treat it so it no longer devastates lives.

Frank Hawkins (pictured with me, above), was diagnosed with

I would like to give a very personal message to all

LOT 2 A TRIP FOR TWO TO INDIA Donated by Taj Resorts, Hotels and Palaces and British Airways Four nights in a Taj hotel, with two nights in either Delhi or Mumbai and two nights in a Taj Palace in Udaipur, Hyderabad, Jodhpur or

MND two years ago. Sadly, he has steadily declined since.

Ultratravel readers: please bid generously in this silent auction

The cause of MND is unknown, and there is no cure. So far,

to help support more families living with MND, and also to help

medication can only prolong life for a few months. My dad is 77,

fund research so that one day it will not be the terminal illness


but MND can affect people at any age, and it progresses rapidly.

it is today. Your help will make a difference, so thank you from

Donated by Cunard, Waldorf Astoria New York and British Airways

Put in its simplest form, it attacks the nerves that send

me for your bids. I hope you are successful, and enjoy one of

A seven-night transatlantic cruise on the Queen Mary 2 from

messages from the brain to the muscles. Your body literally

the fabulous prizes so kindly donated. Good luck!

Southampton to New York for two people in a Britannia Club

Jaipur, plus return flights on British Airways. Minimum bid £2,000

Balcony Stateroom, including use of the spa, all meals (including afternoon tea), plus three nights in a luxury suite in the Waldorf


Astoria New York and a flight from New York to London on British Airways. Minimum bid £2,500

We are inviting you, our readers, to bid for the 22 lots listed on these pages, 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

Donated by Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts and

number, to The winning bid for each lot will be the highest

British Airways

received by the MND Association by midnight on Sunday October 27, 2013.

Two nights in the Four Seasons Gresham Palace in a Park Suite,

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.

including breakfast, an art tour and return flights on British Airways. Minimum bid £800

Rooms and flights are subject to availability and, unless otherwise stated, all flights are economy


class. Each holiday is for two, and is subject to separate terms and conditions, in addition to


those published overleaf; these are available at or by emailing

Donated by Scott Dunn

A Scott Dunn ski chalet stay in Europe for two people for six nights,

For more about the MND Association, please see,

including breakfast and dinner every day and return flights on British

Facebook/mndassociation, Twitter @mndassoc

Airways. Minimum bid £1,500



Dream destinations Prizes in the auction include stays at Niyama Maldives (above), the Taj Palace in Udaipur (left) and the Burj Al Arab in Dubai (lobby pictured right)






any of Gleneagles’ three courses, and flights on Little Red from

Two nights in a suite at Le Bristol Paris, including breakfast and

Donated by Viceroy Hotel Group and British Airways

Heathrow to Edinburgh. Minimum bid £700

dinner at the three-Michelin-star Epicure restaurant, with a glass of wine per dish, water and coffee. Minimum bid £500

Three nights in the new Viceroy New York, opening in the next month, including breakfast at the Kingside Restaurant with return


flights on British Airways. Minimum bid £1,500

Donated by Per Aquum


Six nights in a bungalow at Niyama Maldives, including breakfast

Donated by The Caledonian – A Waldorf Astoria Hotel

and return speedboat transfers. Minimum bid £1,000

and Virgin Atlantic


Two nights at The Caledonian, including breakfast, a Gourmand

Six nights in a Beach Studio at Niyama Maldives, including breakfast.


Menu with wine pairing in The Pompadour, a Caledonian Chic

Minimum bid £1,000

Donated by Castello di Casole

treatment for two in the Guerlain Spa, plus return flights on Little

Three nights at Castello Di Casole in a Classica Suite, including

Red from Heathrow to Edinburgh. Minimum bid £600


breakfast, in-suite minibar and wi-fi. Minimum bid £400

Donated by Virgin Limited Edition


Four nights at Mahali Mzuri, Sir Richard Branson’s new Kenyan safari


Donated by Grosvenor House Apartments by Jumeirah Living

camp, including all meals, drinks, daily game drives and return road

Donated by Turnberry Resort

Two nights in a one-bedroom apartment at Grosvenor House

transfers from Mara North airstrip. Minimum bid £2,000

Two nights at Turnberry Resort, including breakfast, two rounds

Apartments on Park Lane, including continental breakfast.

of golf per person – at The Ailsa and The Kintyre courses – and two

Minimum bid £500


Complete Game Assessments, one per person. Minimum bid £500

Donated by Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts


Five nights in a Garden Suite in the Angsana Balaclava hotel in Turtle


Donated by Thanos Hotels

Bay on a half-board basis. Minimum bid £1,200

Donated by Dorchester Collection

Four nights in a sea-view Studio Suite at the Anassa, including

Two nights at 45 Park Lane, including dinner with house wine at Cut,

breakfast. Minimum bid £400


Wolfgang Puck’s first European restaurant, and breakfast.

Donated by GHA, who have donated three two-night stays

Minimum bid £600

LOT 21 A STAY FOR TWO IN EDINBURGH Donated by Nira Hotels & Resorts

Two nights at one of more than 300 Global Hotel Alliance hotels. Choose a hotel on and please specify the hotel with your


Two nights at the Nira Caledonia, including breakfast.

bid. Minimum bid for each stay £200

Donated by The Address Hotels + Resorts

Minimum bid £300

Two nights at The Address Downtown Dubai and two nights at The LOT 11 A GOLFING BREAK FOR TWO IN SCOTLAND

Palace Downtown Dubai, including breakfast. Minimum bid £600

Donated by The Gleneagles Hotel and Virgin Atlantic

LOT 22 A STAY FOR TWO IN LONDON Donated by The Ritz

Two nights at Gleneagles – the home of the 2014 Ryder Cup –


One night at The Ritz London, including dinner at The Ritz Restaurant

including breakfast and dinner on both days, two rounds of golf on

Donated by the Oetker Collection

and English breakfast. Minimum bid £250

TERMS AND CONDITIONS 1 All lots are subject to their own separate terms and conditions. Please familiarise yourself with the terms and conditions for each lot, which will be posted at 2 This auction is open to residents of the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man aged 18 years or over, except employees of the Motor Neurone Disease Association, Ultratravel and Telegraph Media Group Limited, their families, agents or anyone else professionally associated with the auction. 3 Details of how to participate form part of the terms and conditions. By submitting a bid in this auction, participants agree to be bound by these terms and conditions. 4 The decision of the judges is final and no correspondence will be entered into. 5 Bidders may bid for more than one lot, but may make only one bid for each lot. Once submitted, bids may not be withdrawn and you acknowledge that once the Promoter has confirmed you are the highests bidder, you have entered into a legally binding contract to buy the lot you have bid for from the Promoter. 6 Bids must be above the reserve listed for the lot being bid for; in pounds sterling; and received by the Promoter by midnight on Sunday October 27, 2013. 7 Successful bidders will be notified within seven days of the closing date of the auction. 8 Late, illegible, incomplete, defaced or corrupt bids, and bids below the reserve for the lot being bid for, will not be accepted. 9 The successful bid for any one lot will be the highest received by the closing date. If two or more bids equal the highest bid, the lot shall be awarded to the bid received first. 10 Successful bidders must remit their payment for the relevant lot within 14 days of notification. 11 If the Promoter is unable to contact a winning bidder within seven days of the closing of the auction, or if the payment is not received within 14 days of a winning bidder being notified, the Promoter reserves the right to award the lot to the next highest bidder. Should there be two or more bids equalling the next highest bid, the lot shall be awarded in accordance with Condition 9, above. The Promoter reserves the right to carry on awarding the lot to the next highest bidder until the reserve is reached. 12 If the Promoter is not able to award a lot for any reason, the Promoter reserves the right to withdraw the lot from the auction. 13 The lots as described are available on the date of publication and are subject to availability. 14 Lots are not transferable and there are no cash alternatives. 15 All holiday vouchers must be used within one year of the successful bidders being notified and are subject to their own separate terms and conditions available at 16 Events may occur that render the auction impossible due to reasons beyond the control of the Promoter; accordingly, the Promoter may at its absolute discretion vary or amend the auction and the entrant agrees no liability shall attach to the Promoter as a result. 17 Ultratravel is responsible for the publication of this auction. All aspects connected with the provision of the lots are the responsibility of the Promoter. Promoter: The Motor Neurone Disease Association, David Niven House, 10-15 Notre Dame Mews, Northampton, NN1 2BG. Registered charity 294354. For full details of the Promoter’s terms and conditions, please email












MORE QUALITY INCLUSIONS THAN ANY OTHER RESORTS ON THE PL ANET Personal Butler Service is available to guests staying in toptier category suites. Sandals Butlers are trained to the highest standards, by the Guild of Professional English Butlers, and are there to cater to your every whim to ensure your well-deserved holiday offers luxury beyond your dreams. Your Personal Butler can arrange anything, from in-room gourmet dining, laundry services or even prepare a romantic rose petal scented bath for your return - your heart’s desire is yours to command. On arrival, you’ll be presented with a personal mobile phone to summon your Butler as you wish throughout your stay. They will unpack your bags so can enjoy your holiday from the moment you arrive plus during your stay your Butler can take room service orders for breakfast, lunch and dinner, handle your laundry, dry cleaning or pressing requests* and at departure time, your Butler can fold your clothes, arrange transport requirements and check your suite for any items you might have forgotten. These are just a few of the personal touches that come with your Personal Butler Suites, the rest we call Luxury Included®.

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Call 0800 742 742 | Visit See your local travel agent

*The first suit pressing is complimentary. Visit for full terms and conditions. ABTA & ATOL protected.

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g intelligence ULTRA


A LITTLE PLACE I KNOW… Domaine de la Baume, Provence


erched beneath Tourtour, the highest of the Var’s unspoilt hilltop towns, this 99-acre estate was once the home of the artist Bernard Buffet. Although Richard E Grant, Tina Turner and the Beckhams have snapped up properties

Pure Provence The façade of Domaine de la Baume, clad in vines; the Annabel suite, named after the former owner’s wife; and the formal gardens, the real draw

nearby, the Haute Var is a world away from look-at-me St Tropez just an hour to the south. Surrounded by the villages of Aups, Moustiers and Seillans, where life still revolves around hunting, harvests, boules and bikes, the hotel is within striking distance of the lavender fields near Roumoules, the towering Gorges Du Verdon and the shimmering man-made Lac De St-Croix. The ochre-fronted 18-century building is adorned with blue shutters and splashes


of green from its sprawling vines. So far, so Peter Mayle. But this, the latest opening by Maisons & Hotels Sibuet is much more than a Provençal cliché. Like all the group’s properties, it is a family affair. Jean-Louis Sibuet is the master craftsman who restored the bastide to its former glory, while his partner (and ex-wife), Jocelyne, took charge of the interior design. The style is East India Company-meets-quintessential Provence. Open beams, bold Provençal colours and toile-de-Jouy headboards characterise each of the 15 rooms and suites, the best being Annabel (named after Buffet’s wife). Bathrooms are filled with products from Jocelyne’s own beauty line, Pure Altitude; an organic store room shows off the estate’s own olive oil and honey, together with wine from the family’s Luberon property, Domaine de Marie (named after their daughter). But the gardens, masterminded by their son Nicolas, are the real draw. Guests can potter around the manicured gardens and orangery, pop into the intimate chapel or admire the olive groves from the terrace as they choose from François Martin’s refined but unfussy menu. Beyond the charmingly decrepit tennis court are a stone swimming pool, a rustic equestrian centre and a former dovecote that serves as the hotel’s spa. From here, a steep climb leads to a tented spa treatment room set beside TRISTAN SHU

waterfalls that cascade into rock pools. The rush of water, the rustle of leaves and the hum of cicadas provide a soundtrack of rural Provence that takes some beating. Doubles from €440/£375 (

Charles Starmer-Smith




Weight, in kilograms, of bananas eaten per day by each elephant at the annual Anantara Elephant Polo Tournament in Thailand



Daniel Jordaan is head butler at The Lanesborough Hotel, London Any tips for packing? Always ensure that you place the heavier items such as shoes, toiletries, belts and electrical equipment in the bottom of the case. This acts as a buffer, as well as preventing heavier items squashing your clothing. Never roll your garments; it takes up more space and they arrive horrifically


Farms certified to produce Parma ham


Butlers in the new Oberoi Dubai: one per room


New private jets sold in 2012. There are 11,261 jets registered in the US, and 7,997 in the rest of the world THE BOOK



nglish photographer Jimmy

creased. If you have tissue paper for wrapping, use it as a buffer between the


items. To finish, add the jackets turned inside out, folded horizontally, with sleeves

The inside track on the world’s greatest galleries and museums Douglas Druick, director of the Art Institute of

can organise the trip you want, from something

Chicago, offers a visual starting point for

child-friendly to the Impressionists or a tour

exploring the art and architecture of America’s

covering a specific time period. Many people

Windy City.

enjoy visiting at lunchtime, so they can eat here,

The institution’s greatest strength?

or on Thursday evenings, when we open our

We are one of the few art museums committed

outdoor sculpture terrace, which has beautiful

to historical and contemporary art. One of the

views of downtown.

reasons our Impressionism collection is so strong

Any works with an interesting history?

is because the movement was emerging just as

An early landscape by the Dutch artist Piet

we were founded in the second half of the 19th

Mondrian was given by the artist, framed, to his

century. To us now, Impressionism is “historical”

dentist in lieu of payment, and given to us by the

art, but at the time it was avant-garde.

dentist’s daughter. There’s also a monumental

What shouldn’t visitors miss?

El Greco altarpiece – now considered one of the

Georges Seurat’s A Sunday on La Grande Jatte,

artist’s masterpieces – with a bit of a story

Grant Wood’s American Gothic, Rembrandt’s Old

behind it. In 1906, the American artist Mary

Man with a Gold Chain, the Kuba Mukenga mask,

Cassatt convinced the museum to purchase

and the beautiful Tadao Ando gallery. We also

the work after it had been turned down by

have wonderful prints and drawings,

both the Metropolitan Museum in New York

photography, Asian art, Indian art of the

and the Philadelphia Museum.

Americas, and a section on architecture and

What’s interesting about the building?

design, which helps visitors to understand the

The museum is made up of eight buildings,

role of architecture in Chicago. Our world-class

constructed at various times over the past 140

collection of national art includes Edward

years. The first was built in 1890. The most recent

Hopper’s Nighthawks, many pieces by Georgia

is the Modern Wing, designed by Renzo Piano.

O’Keeffe, and several 19th-century works.

The museum’s growth has reflected the city’s.

How should first-timers structure a visit?

Any weaknesses?

Our gallery maps list 12 of our most iconic works,

The museum is built over a railroad that has run

so if you have a short period of time, that’s

through Chicago since the 19th century. You can

a great place to start. We also launched a free

hear and see the trains that trundle beneath us.

app, with 50 tours of the museum, so you

Laura Prentergast

crossed over the front; it reduces creasing. What little things do smart packers have in their suitcases? Smart travellers generally travel light, with miniature toiletries, loose cables tied with an elastic band in a shoe bag, and vitamins and medication in a pillbox, so they don’t have to carry massive containers. Keep socks and underwear in separate little bags, and take a spare bag for used items. The best suitcases? Hard-skin wheeled luggage protects clothes to the maximum. The best travelling shoeshine kit? Berluti does the ultimate kit in black or brown Venetian leather. It does cost £1,200, though. Is there a simple way to ease creases out of clothes in a hotel room? Steam works. Hang the shirt or dress on a hanger over the bath or on the shower door while you shower or take a hot bath. Remember to close the bathroom door. Who holds the record for the most luggage at The Lanesborough? A royal prince and his wife who come to London for two weeks every year and travel with 18 large suitcases, four cooler boxes (filled with delicacies), a safe on wheels (for trinkets) and three personal assistants – although they arrive on foot.

Nelson spent three years travelling around the world to



capture some of its most exotic tribes: some thriving, some dying, from the deserts of Africa to the frozen wastelands of the Arctic. His resulting

(Free for iOS, Android, BlackBerry, Windows Phone)

photographs of people from 44

Although there are several wine apps on the

countries have been brought together

market (, Snooth, Wine Notes and Wine

in an enormous tome, Before They

Ratings Guide), this new version of Vivino offers a simple way

Pass Away, cataloguing ways of life

for non-oenophiles to remember wines they like. Scan the

that are fast being eroded. Nelson’s

label with a smartphone camera and the app tries to match it

website,, is as

with 500,000 bottles in its database and classification from

compelling as the book, with maps

other users. There is space to add notes and your own rating

and descriptive text shown alongside


(good and bad, so you never buy a bad wine again) and an

This family-owned tea-caddy company ( has been producing metal handmade

large-format photos of the tribes’

option to share information with other users or through

canisters in Japan since 1875, when the country opened to the West and were able to import

feathered, tattooed, scarred, embellished and fur-covered bodies. The new signed collectors’ edition of GETTY


a social media network. Wines not recognised on the database will be identified (by a Vivino expert) within a few days.

tin from Cornwall. The range, refined by six generations of master craftsmen in steel, copper and brass, with double walls to ensure air-tightness, now includes a mini caddy for travellers who like to take their favourite teas with them. So beautiful are the caddies that, from this

the book, with three original prints,

month, one will be included in the permanent collection at the V&A Museum in London.

costs £5,500 (

Travelling 40g caddy, with velvet pouch and tea-scoop, from £155 (



As it prepares to be European Capital of Culture next year, Adrian Bridge highlights the best of this artistically rich city



Flights of fantasy One of Eisensteinâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s creations in the art nouveau district. Below: Majori beach at Jurmala

The capital of Latvia is a symphony of spires, steeples and some

of the most fantastical art nouveau architecture in the world â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all testifying to the richness of an 800-year history that has seen control of the city pass from Swedes to Germans to Russians and, finally, to Latvians themselves. Young Rigans certainly know how to party hard, particularly in the lively bars of the magnificent Unesco-listed old town. They also know how to play hard â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and frequently do along the

20-mile stretch of white sand beach at Jurmala, a short drive or train ride away. With its fabulous opera house, concert halls and churches offering sublime organ recitals, Riga has its highbrow side too; next year the city carries the title of European Capital of Culture.


RESTAURANTS While Latvian food is not distinctive â&#x20AC;&#x201C; think pork, pastries, black

bread, fish and dill â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Vincents (00371 673 32 634, is the place where considerable creativity is applied to local, seasonal produce. Palete (00371 672 16 037,, in the old town, offers international cuisine in what feels like a private house. Hotels offering fine-dining experiences include Bergs (00371 677 70 957,, a hotspot for fusion and nouvelle-Latvian cuisine. For a taste of Russia (roughly half the population of Riga is Russian), head to Traktieris (00371 673 32 455,, north of the old town.


over the past 20 years. With its regal flourishes and a guest list that has


included Catherine Deneuve and Sting, the Grand Palace Hotel (00371 670 44 000,, a five-star boutique hotel in the

Radisson Blu Ridzene Hotel

building that used to contain the Central Bank of Latvia, is considered the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s finest. The 15-room Dome Hotel (00371 675 09 010, is a sleek transformation of a 400-year-old building with a rooftop terrace overlooking Riga Cathedral. Those seeking a refuge from the boisterousness of the old town might prefer the Radisson Blu Ridzene Hotel (00371 670 93 333,,

Grand Palace Hotel Dome Hotel

a stylish place between the old town and art nouveau district.


ESSENTIAL READS Mikhail Eisenstein, Master of Riga Art Nouveau contains

clear descriptions and detailed photographs of the buildings designed


Terrace Riga




Riga Dome Cathedral Central Market

Opera House Lativian Academy of Sciences



HOTELS Rigaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s hotel scene has undergone a complete transformation

Âź mile

by Rigaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most famous architect (and father of the film director, Sergei). Baltic Capitals by Neil Taylor (Bradt) is an invaluable source of


information on Riga and beyond.

Money Latvia joined the

Airlines Air Baltic (,

(; Regent

European Union in 2004; it will

Wizz Air ( and Ryanair

Holidays (


adopt the euro on January 1, 2014.

( all have direct

Curious fact The regaining of

A lovely way to see the city is by boat. Pick one close to

When to go Baltic winters can be

services. If no-frills airlines arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

independence from the Soviet

the Freedom Monument on the city canal. A round trip lasting about

extremely cold and while Riga has

your thing, SAS ( flies

Union in 1991 is called the

an hour takes you past the opera house, the central food market

its charms in the months when it

from Heathrow and Manchester

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Singing Revolutionâ&#x20AC;?. Rather than

and on to the Daugava River, from where you get panoramic views of

is covered in snow, most people

via Copenhagen and Stockholm.

using guns, Latvians sang in vast

the medieval heart of the city.

visit between May and October.

Operators Kirker Holidays

choirs to defy Moscow.




Ultratravelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guide to the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most sumptuous hotel rooms


mango salad, fresh muffins

Momo Shlomo; some was

so no matter how hot it gets


and espresso for breakfast on

bought from the hip South

(up to 40C), you stay cool.

Zambia (00 260 213 327450,

your private dining table, or

African shop Amatuli, or

taking a candlelit bath or

created by Vanessaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s sister,

local fish and beef farmed

From $620 (ÂŁ396) per person,

open-air shower, youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve got

Suzie Lightfoot, at her Malawi

locally, and fresh salads from

full-board, including activities.

views of hippos harrumphing

homecrafts emporium,

the ownersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; garden. At dinner,

Suite size 1,076sq ft.

in pools and fish eagles dive-

romantics can be canoed out

USP The most spacious,

bombing their lunch. You enter

elegant room on the great

The food is delicious:

The inventive mix of Asian

to a sanpan on the river that

the suite from a long path on

chests, Anatolian carpets and

is lit by paraffin lamps â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with

Zambezi River is actually just

the riverbank; if you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t

safari-style directorsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; chairs,

the Milky Way above.

one giant platform, built in an

want to be disturbed you just

alongside old maps and

old ebony tree, with a few

hang a little rope across it.

handmade lamps, gives the

plenty of diversions: a pool in

shin-height poles around the

The details Some furniture

room a unique look thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

which to swim, kayaks in

edges to prevent you falling

was made on-site from local

both natural and modern. The

which to explore, boats from

off. The raised deck extends

trees by the British owners,

four-poster bed, enclosed in

which to fish â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and the Devilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

over the river, so while youâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re

Ben and Vanessa Parker, and

white insect-proof netting, is

Pool, from which to admire

lazing on a lounger, having

their Israeli friend, Hanoni

air-conditioned from within,

the Victoria Falls from above.


Between meals, there are


‘One day, there will be a hotel on the Moon. Not while I’m alive, but in my children’s lifetimes’

he 63-year-old founder of the Virgin

Group started business life at 16 with a student magazine, despite being dyslexic. By the age of 20 he had launched a record business, later sold to EMI for $500 million. The self-made billionaire has traversed the globe by boat, plane, windsurfer, foot and balloon and next year will be one of the first commercial travellers in space. How many holidays do you take a year? I’ve no idea; for work I travel all the time – often to places I am lucky enough to call home. Why so many homes? I love creating hideaways. My idea is to go to the most beautiful, unspoilt places, buy the land and make sure it is never damaged. I’ve always admired John D Rockefeller, who bought up tracts of land to ensure they were left wild in perpetuity. Favourite spots in the world? As a teenager I went to Bali a lot, but it’s a long, long way from England. Which is why, when we bought Necker Island, we made it like a mini Bali. Where do you stay on Necker these days? We lost everything when the house burnt down NEALE HAYNES/CONTOUR

[in 2011], but we’re about to move into a new one. What’s important is that no one got hurt. Material things are delightful but they’re not important. Where else in the world do you call home? I love Africa, and Ulusaba, our home in South Africa, is pretty special. It’s on a rocky hill

TRAVELLING LIFE Sir Richard Branson The entrepreneur on his love of Africa, his aversion to cities, and how he is preparing for a family trip into space

overlooking the bush, and from your room you

Do you ever holiday in Britain?

cent of the rainforest has been destroyed. We’re

that was really tough. But once you have got into

can see lions stalking zebras by the waterhole.

Er, not really. Necker Island or rainy Britain? Having

campaigning to help protect what is left; we even

training, you realise most things are conquerable.

Why did you also buy a property in Kenya?

said that, I do love Cornwall and Devon. The west

have lemurs on Necker to try and breed them.

How are you preparing yourself for space?

A wonderful man called Jake Greaves told me the

coast of Scotland is beautiful, too.

Best cities for a weekend break?

The headquarters of Virgin Galactic has

great migration was in danger of being choked

Are your holidays always luxurious?

I’m no good at cities; I spend as little time in them

a centrifuge unit which duplicates the flight,

by the farms in its path. He suggested that, if we

Not at all. For my dad’s 85th birthday, I took him

as possible. Sydney is one of my favourites; it has

so your body can learn what is going to happen

could lease land from the Masai, we could keep

and his friend on a tented safari to follow the

good food, wine and beaches, the winters are

to it. I am doing zero-gravity flights next

large tracts of the migration path free, local people

migration. It was pouring with rain and we shared

warm – and everyone should try surfing on Bondi.

month, and a couple of months before we go,

would make more money than they did from

a tent, which had a hole as a rudimentary lavatory.

Favourite restaurants?

we’ll quit alcohol and make sure we are 100

cattle-herding, and the migration could continue.

Have you ever roughed it?

I would rather be in a farmhouse in the

per cent fit. The first flight is going to take just

A win-win situation. So that’s what we’ve done.

You can’t go round the world for 21 days in

countryside – although Halepi ( in

the family; it will be the trip of a lifetime. After

Any parts of the world you’ve never been?

a balloon without roughing it. You have to be able

London serves delicious Greek food. In Sydney,

that, about 700 people have booked [a seat on

South America, which I would love to see with

to cope with extremes and I love that challenge.

Icebergs ( restaurant on Bondi Beach is

the two-hour trip costs $200,000/£128,000].

the children and grandchildren.

The most remote places you’ve travelled?

great. And Chicago is a brilliant food destination,

Next, the Moon?

Your idea of a perfect holiday destination?

Last year, our family went to the Antarctic with

with Nightwood (nightwoodrestaurant.

One day, yes, there will be a Virgin hotel on the

We’re very active, so somewhere we can kitesurf,

Al Gore to see first-hand what was happening

com), Avec (, Au Cheval

Moon – or floating round the Moon. Guests

play tennis, windsurf, paddleboard. As a family we

there. I also joined my son for a week on his

(, The Purple Pig

could then go off on a two-man capsule that

do lots of adventure holidays and once a year set

three-month dog-sledding trip to the Arctic, which

( the list goes on.

could explore the little mountains and valleys.

ourselves a challenge. Last year we climbed Mont

was breathtakingly beautiful but pretty basic.

Your next challenge?

The engineers probably won’t manage this while

Blanc. In 2008, we tried to break the transatlantic

Favourite spots in Africa?

To go into space later this year or next year. The

I’m still alive, but they will do so in my children’s

record in a boat called Speedboat, but the mast

I loved Namibia and the Okavango Delta in

great thing about setting yourself challenges

lifetimes. Scientists are developing things all

broke. We’ve kitesurfed across the Channel, too.

Botswana, where we saw wild dogs; the way they

is that you have to train to make sure you are

the time; and if you allow people to dream,

Sam, my son, got a medal for the fastest crossing

work as a pack is inspiring. Madagascar is also

capable of doing them. Three years ago we all

most of them can achieve what they hoped.

and I got one for being the oldest competitor.

extraordinary but broke my heart. About 95 per

ran the London marathon. I am not a runner, so

Interview by Lisa Grainger


midtown oasis with downtown allure


Profile for Johnny Morris

Ultratravel Autumn 2013  

Daily Telegraph's Luxury travel magazine

Ultratravel Autumn 2013  

Daily Telegraph's Luxury travel magazine