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ultratravel The Daily Telegraph

YOUR GUIDE TO HEAVEN ON EARTH

WINTER 2011

In from the cold 10 HOT SKI-SPAS

PLUS VINTAGE JAMAICA SWINGING SINGAPORE THE BEST AND WORST OF 2011

WIN A LUXURY HOLIDAY FOR TWO IN FLORENCE


JUMEIRAH HIMALAYAS HOTEL, SHANGHAI. NOW OPEN

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YOU ARE THE INSPIRATION You are different. That’s why Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts are opening new hotels around the world, inspired by your individuality. STAY DIFFER ENT™ AT JUMEIR AH HOTELS & R ESORTS FOR R ESERVATIONS, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR TR AVEL PROFESSIONAL OR VISIT JUMEIR AH.COM

Abu Dhabi / Dubai / Frankfurt / London / Maldives / New York / S hanghai Opening Soon: Azerbaijan / Kuwait / Mallorca


Inspirational Amanpuri, the original Aman resort on Phuket, Thailand (page 38)

CONTENTS

Kicker caption to go in here and expalain caption to go in here and expalain caption to go in here and expalain caption to go in here and expalain

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Features 25 The best and worst of 2011 Eight Ultratravel writers chart the highs and lows of their travels in the past 12 months, from Chiva-Som and Sri Lanka’s “Golden Valley of Tea” to underperforming hotel lamps 28 Feeling on top of the world Few experiences are more pleasurable after a day’s skiing than a session in a warm and steamy mountain spa. Francesca Syz selects 10 of the best ski-spa resorts 38 Why the woman loves Aman A minimalist hotel in Phuket, opened in 1988 by Adrian Zecha, changed the look of hotels worldwide. Victoria Mather explains why she is an Aman fan and assesses how five other luxury hotel groups have been influenced by Amanresorts 46 Singapore rising South-east Asia’s booming city-state – once just a stopover spot – has become a holiday destination in its own right. Michael Simkins is dazzled 54 Old-world Caribbean Tucked away in Jamaica are charming hotels and houses that look much as they did in the 1950s, when they enchanted Ian Fleming and Noël Coward. Adriaane Pielou journeys through time 66 Hot competition Win a three-night luxury break for two in Florence

Regulars 11 Editor’s letter Stylish simplicity is what we crave in these complex times, says Graham Boynton 12 The season Alluring festivals, events and phenomena around the world to inspire a winter trip or two 15 Victoria’s secrets Good food doesn’t need to be messed around with, says an exasperated but replete Victoria Mather 17 Ultratravel accessories Elegant items for a winter’s day at the races; exquisite bags for

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an evening at the opera; and multi-time-zone watches for simplifying life 22 The smart shopper Lisa Grainger ventures north to buy cashmere from the Scottish mills that still knit the finest sweaters on earth 69 Ultratravel directory Following in the footsteps of Wilfred Thesiger across Arabia’s Empty Quarter; a bespoke holiday service for dogs (Cumberland sausages included); stunning chalets in the snow; and the world’s most opulent picnic trunk 74 Travelling life Georgina Chapman, the British-born fashion designer,

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recommends restaurants, hotels and experiences around the world

© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2011. Published by TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT, and printed by Polestar UK Limited. Colour reproduction by wearefmg.com. Not to be sold separately from The Daily Telegraph. Ultratravel is a registered trademark licensed to The Daily Telegraph by PGP Media Limited

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Book in advance and experience an even more enchanting europe.

in winter, europe unfolds its own unique and special charm. and with our winter offer there has never been a better time to experience this for yourself. Book in advance for stays between 1st November 2011 and 29th February 2012 and enjoy rates starting from 101 Euros per night, including breakfast for two. plus, our concierges will share their knowledge and insider tips to help make your visit all the more memorable.

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EDITORâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S LETTER

CELEBRATING SIMPLE PLEASURES

F

or various reasons, I have taken a number of ďŹ&#x201A;ights recently, both short- and long-haul, and the one thing they have had in common is that all of them have been full. By full, I mean with barely an empty seat from front to back, from ďŹ rst class to economy. This tells me that, despite the economic storms that continue to engulf us and the prophets of doom who trumpet our social and economic demise, we continue to travel. Most tellingly of all, we continue to do so in the face of the British

governmentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s shameful and punitive Air Passenger Duty. I know full aircraft do not tell the whole story â&#x20AC;&#x201C; many airlines have cut their capacity

in recent years â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but it surely counts for something that, every week, tens of thousands of Britons leave home for some foreign destination. That is because the British regard travel not as a disposable luxury but as an essential component of their lives. And this applies even more to the luxury end of the market. The huge response we have received after every issue of Ultratravel suggests that our readers are most deďŹ nitely still on the road. And so, in this winter issue, we offer you a range of ideas and destinations which, if I were to sum them up, I would describe as â&#x20AC;&#x153;elegantly simpleâ&#x20AC;?. That certainly expresses the core idea at Adrian Zechaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Amanresorts (Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s So Great About Aman?, page 38), our pick of gloriously laid-back boutique properties in the Caribbean (Reliving Jamaicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Golden Age, page 54), and the ski-spa resorts in our cover story (Mountain Highs, page 28). This really is what we are looking for in travel, and indeed in life. Modern living is a confusion of ideas, messages, agendas, confrontations, hassles â&#x2C6;&#x2019; well, you get the picture. We need to escape to enclaves of elegant simplicity to survive the ongoing

Editor To share your luxury travel experiences with other Ultratravel readers, see ultra.travel

ANNE MENKE/TRUNK ARCHIVE

maelstrom, and Ultratravelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s mission is to provide you with the inspiration to escape.

CONTRIBUTORS

Photographer Joe Plimmer Shot at Alpina Spa, Alpina Dolomites in the South Tyrol

Model Alix Fox Styling Lou Hall-Strutt Bikini Liza Bruce Vintage fur coat Rokit Necklace Lara Bohinc Jewellery Gildaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Tryst Hair Annabelleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Wigs

Michael Simkins Despite a stream of roles, the Rada-trained actor decided early in his career that adding a second string to his bow might be prudent. His books include a wry autobiography, Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s My Motivation; he has written for numerous publications.

Victoria Mather The wide-roaming journalist and commentator â&#x20AC;&#x201C; who with illustrator Sue Macartney-Snape produces the Social Stereotypes column in the Telegraph Magazine â&#x20AC;&#x201C; has visited 10 of the 25 Amanresorts, and so far is impressed.

Francesca Syz Born in Britain to Anglophile American parents, the writer grew up travelling between London and Connecticut, and after five years at CondĂŠ Nast has spent the past six years for ever on the move, writing about travel for a number of glossy magazines.

Nato Welton Self-taught, the photographer studied fashion and worked as a stylist on The World of Interiors before switching to photography. He considers the light first when he works, and â&#x20AC;&#x153;tries not to be bothered by the usual rulesâ&#x20AC;?.

Georgina Chapman New York is now home for this British-born designer, who with an old college friend launched her fashion company, Marchesa, in 2004. Travel forms a large part of her life, but despite now frequently turning left when she boards a plane, her favourite trip remains backpacking at 19.

ultratravel

Editor Graham Boynton Creative director Johnny Morris Deputy editor Andrew Purvis Editor at large Lisa Grainger Photography editor Joe Plimmer Contributing editor Adriaane Pielou 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

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WHERE TO BE WHAT TO SEE HOW TO BOOK IT December

Art Basel Miami Beach December 1-4 Miami, Florida

Sunshine, the beach and art are an appealing combination for a pre-Christmas trip. Miami’s 10th Art Basel showcases 250 galleries, with daily talks by artists, collectors and curators from 10-11am; a new Art Video sector will use the outdoor projection wall of Frank Gehry’s New World Centre. Public tours cost US$20 (£12.50) per person, private tours US$200 through ArtNexus (001 305 891 7270, artnexus.com). Seven nights, with flights, £1,507 (01306 747 008, kuoni.co.uk).

Dickens bicentenary

December 1-February 12 Morgan Library, New York Organisations worldwide have already begun marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Dickens on February 7, 1812 (dickens2012.org). Yet another reason to visit New York at its most alluring is the exhibition of Dickens memorabilia at the magnificent Morgan Library – one of the world’s greatest collections, second only to the V&A’s.

New Year’s Eve celebrations

Doubles, £670 (00 800 2828 3838, mandarinoriental.com). BA (0844 493 0787, ba.com) flies business-class-only from

December 31 Allendale, Northumberland

London City to New York, via Shannon, from £2,312 return.

The thrillingly sinister annual procession of men bearing lighted tar barrels looks rumbustiously pagan but dates

Jane Goodall lecture

back to 1858, when strong winds stopped revellers illuminating their music sheets with candles and someone suggested using tar. Further soak up local

In the 50 years since Dr Jane Goodall arrived at Gombe

atmosphere by staying at a castle – this area has more

Stream National Park, Tanzania, to study chimpanzees, she has become the world’s foremost expert on these endearing and endangered primates. Her Institute, set up in 1977, has a humblingly simple mission: to “improve the environment of all living things”. In this rare talk, she will report her results. Tickets, £30-£55 (01242 547 808, abercrombiekent.co.uk). Brown’s Hotel (020 7493 6020, brownshotel.com), yards from the Royal Institution of Great Britain, has doubles from £305.

January

MATTHEW LLOYD/GETTY; PHOTOLIBRARY; ALAMY; CORBIS

December 1 Royal Institution, London

than anywhere in Britain, Lumley being one of them. Doubles, £398 (0191 389 1111, lumleycastle.com).

THE SEAS February

A second Christmas

Polar anniversary expedition

January 7-14 St Petersburg and Kiev

February 1-16 Antarctica

It could prove the perfect (first) Christmas present: travelling

It’s impossible to look at photographs from Captain Scott’s doomed,

across the snowy landscapes of Russia and the Ukraine to

disorganised expedition to the frozen wastelands at the bottom of the

spend Orthodox Christmas (January 7) in St Petersburg, the

world – on display at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace, until

most beautiful city in Russia, and the Russian Old New Year

April 15 – without being moved by the desperate heroism. Marking

(January 14) in Kiev. Add top-notch city guides, theatre, ballet

the centenary of Scott’s death (he is pictured at the head of the

and flights with British Airways, and the package is complete.

table, below) is an expedition on board Ocean Nova, led by explorer

Eight nights, £2,419 (020 7593 2283, kirkerholidays.com).

Robin Hanbury-Tenison and Ultratravel editor Graham Boynton. £6,395, with flights (020 7386 4659, theultimatetravelcompany.co.uk).

Snowmobiling in Yellowstone January Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Wolves, grizzly bears, elk, buffalo and coyotes roam its hills, geysers gush from its valleys and, when carpeted in snow, Yellowstone – America’s vast first national park, set up in 1872 – looks more beautiful than ever. Snowmobiling here is one of winter’s most exhilarating experiences (nps.gov). Five nights based in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, with five days exploring Yellowstone by snowmobile and flights from London, cost £2,745 (020 7666 1217, wandotravel.com).


ON WINTER2011&12 Venice Carnival February 11-21 Venice

Grand balls in palaces, gondolas to whisk you to concerts, costumed figures flitting through chilly, foggy streetsâ&#x20AC;Ś The Venice carnival â&#x20AC;&#x201C; dating back to 1296, resurrected in 1979 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; squeezes the most out of its beautiful setting and is saved from terminal touristiness by reliably misty weather that adds a mysterious element. Under oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s costume, hired in the city (venice-carnival-italy.com), a warm vest is suggested. Three nights with flights, ÂŁ1,350 (01244 897 516, elegantresorts.co.uk).

Aurora borealis

Sun Festival

This awe-inspiring natural light show has been growing in

As dawn breaks, sunlight will stream through the entrance of

intensity recently. By early 2012, Nasa predicts, it will be at its

the great rockface temple to Ramses II â&#x20AC;&#x201C; fronted by four 67ft-

most spectacular for five decades. The best place to see the

high statues of Ramses and a row of baboons, the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Watchers

phenomenon â&#x20AC;&#x201C; caused by streams of charged particles hitting

of the Dawnâ&#x20AC;?, paws raised to salute the sun â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and illuminate

the magnetic field that protects us from this potentially lethal

the inner sanctum. Cue singing and dancing among revellers

solar wind â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is the Finnish town of Nellim, where visitors can

at this twice-annual event, followed by coffee and a snack,

follow days of husky-sledding with nights at the Wilderness

then itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on to Aswan and the newly reopened Old Cataract

Hotel or in a cosy glass igloo, watching the aurora from bed.

hotel, built by Thomas Cook in 1899; a haunt of Agatha Christie.

Five nights, ÂŁ2,140 (01670 785 012, theaurorazone.com).

Nile cruises from ÂŁ1,820 (01993 838 410, audleytravel.com).

February Finland

February 22 Abu Simbel, Egypt

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JASON FORD

We need straightforward scoff in a complex world, not twiddly-widdly cuisine redolent of the Eighties

Steak, mash, onion rings. Victoria Mather has surprisingly simple tastes in food â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but a very refined palate for location

/

here is food and there is food. Grub, nosh, victuals, rations, sustenance, at the very least the stuff that keeps you from dying. Food, unless you live in the Horn of Africa, is the stuff you put into your mouth three times a day and eating it is supposedly an enjoyable experience. Eating well is sociable, fun and has become an essential part of the way we travel now. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no longer enough to go to a tropical pashmina-sanded resort and be served mince (see West Indies in the 1980s). Ditto bad wine. The day the East African safari lodges realise paint stripper is not a substitute for wine will be a time to rejoice. Food, when travelling, roughly divides into simple and grand. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m pretty simple myself; happiness to me is rosti and two fried eggs for lunch at the Restaurant Gotschna in Serneus, just below Klosters. This is because it is the best rosti and two fried eggs in the world. The snow is sparkling, oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cheeks bloom with cold, one could eat a horse and possibly has ridden one down there from the village, through the Christmas trees, beside the stream. It is a time for comfort food. If I were in Goa, I would take the ferry across the river to Fort Tiracol, a boutique hotel where the bar is perched above an endless beach and they make sensational Bloody Marys (India is the land of the Bloody Mary). The wine to drink is Sula sauvignon blanc, the Subcontinental pinot grigio; nothing beats the drowsy happiness of enjoying a crisp white and a curry made with fresh spices, in a place overlooking the sea. So food, obviously, is related to a sense of place; the one complements the other. The words â&#x20AC;&#x153;Michelin starredâ&#x20AC;? strike fear and dread into my heart, but to be at Alain

Victoriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s secrets

Ducasseâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Le Louis XV restaurant (three stars) in the HĂ´tel de Paris, Monte Carlo, and see the bread cart trundling towards you is to witness a work of art. It entirely makes up for the shattering vulgarity of the HĂ´tel de Paris. Ducasse is a bread genius, as JoĂŤl Robuchon, across the road in the HĂ´tel Metropole, is a mashed potato genius. They raise these staff-of-lifers to a state of grace. Thus Wolfgang Puck comes to London with the latest gastronomic basic: steak. Yep. Steak from the good olâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; US of A, from animals fed beer and massaged by virgins in Australia (well, perhaps not virgins, or the rarity value would make it cost more than ÂŁ85 for a 6oz fillet). Steak from dear old Devon. Surprised it made the cut. Which is the name of the restaurant, CUT, in the sexy new hotel 45 Park Lane, in what used to be the Playboy Club. Bunny is not on the menu. I felt I was in New York: design by Thierry Despont, a dashing bar and all that muscle brought to your table in a white cloth. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s like a cross-section of an amputated leg, although maybe I watch Casualty too much. So you peer at the fillet and the rib-eye and the sirloin in the raw and get a spiel on their merits. One could do without this, but trust me, the onion rings, the French fries with herbs, the spinach, the butter lettuce salad, the warm lobster club sandwich on walnut bread are all tip-top. The steaks start at ÂŁ29. Frankly, I have had a rib-eye with more taste at my local pub (The Prince Albert on Albert Bridge Road, since you ask, and it cost ÂŁ19), but you pay extra for glamour. Puck created Spago in LA, still a star favourite where the stars eat lettuce.

So it better be damn good lettuce. And imagine giving a crummy steak to Arnold Schwarzenegger. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be back.â&#x20AC;? Anyway, Puckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s food is real food and chimes with the times. We need straightforward scoff in a complex world. I am therefore worried by Nigel Mendham at Thirty Six, the new restaurant at Dukes Hotel in St Jamesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. He does nip-and-tuck, twiddly-widdly food redolent of the Eighties. It was in the Lake District, at Sharrow Bay and Miller Howe, that complicated food was perfected in the emergence from the prawn cocktail years. Nigel comes from the Lake District and his food, while deliciously flavoured, is of that ilk. Tortured morsels (what is red mullet â&#x20AC;&#x153;all things Niçoiseâ&#x20AC;??), venison with butternut fondant and ossobucco. Too much going on, and think how many hands have touched it. No, weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re into real food for these surreal times. Nothing beats a bush breakfast in South Africa, hippos roaring in the river at Singita Ebony while eggs are scrambled in copper pans. At Barranco Alto and Barra Mansa â&#x20AC;&#x201C; jungle lodges in the Pantanal, Brazil â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s piranha sashimi, of course, fresh out of the river, filleted and with a squeeze of lime. Tiny squid straight off the churrasco (grill) at Parador La Huella in JosĂŠ Ignacio, the St Tropez of Uruguay, makes Club 55 look deadbeat. Macaroni cheese is this seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s super-comfort food, nowhere better than at the Meeting House in the Hamptons. Insiders ask for mac â&#x20AC;&#x2122;nâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; cheese, but it ainâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t McDonaldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. And is anything anywhere in the world better than perfect roast chicken? Hop on the Eurostar to Paris and head for Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ami Louis: you get a whole one each.

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VOTED THE WOR LD’S LEADING TOUR OPER ATOR FOR 11 YEARS IN A ROW • W W W.K UONI.CO.UK

Unique travel experiences, created by the experts


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ACCESSORIES

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9

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1 Shooting stick umbrella £335 (020 7409 7277, swaineadeney.co.uk) 2 Wetherby racing felt £195 (020 7930 8874, lockhatters.co.uk) 3 Three-piece drinking set in leather case £165 (020 7493 8385, williamandson.com) 4 Cashmere-lined silk scarf £212 (020 7734 5985, henrypoole.com) 5 Chartwell sunglasses and leather case £380; £75 (01932 867 467, cwdixeyandson.com) 6 Partagás Serie D No 4 Cuban cigar £15 (020 7471 8400, cigars.co.uk) 7 Nikon 1 V1 – with super-fast autofocus and 10-33mm lens £830 (0330 123 0932, nikon.co.uk) 8 Cashmere-lined leather gloves £100 (Swaine Adeney Brigg, as before) 9 Silverline Ultravid binoculars, 10x42 £1,439 (020 7629 1351, leica-camera.co.uk) PHOTOGRAPHS BY NATO WELTON

COMPILED BY ADRIAANE PIELOU

RACING EPHEMERA SUPPLIED BY DR T WADE

A day at the races


LCKI8KI8M<C ACCESSORIES

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5 6

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A night at the opera 1 Purple crocodile-skin bag with hedgehog clasp by Ethan K £1,890 (020 7730 1234, harrods.com) 2 Sterling silver bag with obsidian clasp by Celestina £1,500 (020 3080 0530, gift-library.com) 3 Blue python-skin clutch with metal teeth by Maison du Posh £705 (0800 123 400, selfridges.com) 4 Orange velvet clutch with python trim by Bottega Veneta £1,125 (0800 044 5700, net-a-porter.com) 5 Black leather studded spherical bag by Christian Louboutin £995 (Net-A-Porter, as before) 6 Scarlet Perspex clutch with lion-head clasp by Charlotte Olympia £495 (Net-A-Porter, as before)

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171 NEW BOND STREET LONDON 0207 907 8800

Š2011 Harry Winston, Inc. Midnight Big Date 42mm, harrywinston.com


LCKI8KI8M<C ACCESSORIES

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A world divided No serious traveller should be without a watch that tells the time in more than one zone, says Simon de Burton

O

f all the functions available on a watch, one of the most useful lets the wearer know the hour in

1 Jaeger-LeCoultre Master Geographic ÂŁ15,100 (020 7491 6970, jaeger-lecoultre.com). This pink-gold

more than one time zone. GMT or Timezone models tend to show home and local times only,

watch features most of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s time zones. 2 Hamilton Khaki UTC ÂŁ920 (0845 275 2900,

while the more complex World Time watches display the hour in a number of locations worldwide.

hamiltonwatch.com). Relatively affordable in the world of top-quality timepieces, this mechanical watch

The International Meridian Conference of 1884, in Washington DC, resulted in the world being subdivided

with a vintage look is based on the design for one of Hamiltonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s navigational chronometers used by

into 24 time zones, with each 15-degree segment east or west of the Greenwich Meridian representing

Second World War pilots. 3 Vacheron Constantin Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time ÂŁ35,280

one hour ahead or behind Greenwich Mean Time. Since then, some countries have chosen to set their

(020 7312 6830, vacheron-constantin.com). Currently the king of World Time watches, this shows the time

time zones differently â&#x20AC;&#x201C; five-and-a-half hours ahead of GMT in India, for instance, and three-and-a-half

in 37 different destinations. 4 Patek Philippe World Time 5130 ÂŁ44,060 (020 7493 8866, patek.com). In

hours in Iran. This has caused a horological headache for watchmakers, though Vacheron Constantin this

platinum; considered by many the quintessential travellerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s watch, with a World Time movement that can

year addressed the problem by launching its fiendishly clever Patrimony Traditionnelle World Time, the

be traced back to the original invented in 1931 by genius watchmaker Louis Cottier. 5 Girard-Perregaux

first wristwatch to display every one of the 37 time zones simultaneously. Other watchmakers are no

WW.TC ÂŁ11,300 (020 7629 2544, girard-perregaux.ch). This World Time watch (WW.TC stands for â&#x20AC;&#x153;world

doubt working on similar solutions. Here is our pick of the best dual- or multi-zone travel watches.

wide time controlâ&#x20AC;?) also has a chronograph with very precise time-keeping and stopwatch functions.

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THE SMART SHOPPER

SCOTLAND

HOW TO DO IT Where to shop Be sure to spend an hour or so at Hawick Cashmere (01450 372 510, hawickcashmere.com) with its museum and bright, modern factory shop, and visit Johnstons of Elgin (01343 554 000, johnstonscashmere.com), pictured below,

WOOLLY THINKING

which by spring will have a factory shop, museum and restaurant. For an additional cashmere fix, make an appointment with Angela Bell, whose label, Queene and Belle (01450 860 780, queeneandbelle. com) makes bespoke pieces for Corso Como and boutiques in Japan: ÂŁ450 to ÂŁ950 direct from her, and triple that abroad. Getting around Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s worth hiring a car. The Borders are a couple of hoursâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; drive from Edinburgh, and the road winds through dramatic

Banish any notion of crossing continents to find the finest cashmere. The best is on our doorstep, argues Lisa Grainger

O

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volcanic landscapes, with lots to explore en route. There are pretty villages such as Melrose, ancient abbeys in Kelso and Jedburgh, gardens such as Monteviot House, and castles including Floors (the largest inhabited castle in Scotland) on the Roxburghe estate. Where to eat Those who enjoy driving should spend an extra hour motoring to Greywalls (01620 842 144, greywalls.co.uk), a gracious Lutyens-designed converted manor with acres of walled gardens as glorious as the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s acclaimed Chez Roux restaurant. Where to stay There is little in the way of accommodation other than grand castles and basic b&bs. We stayed in a simple but comfortable log cabin in the grounds of Ferniehirst Castle (01835 860 001, ferniehirst.co.uk), pictured below, the budget option for a budget cashmere trip; ÂŁ200 a night, sleeps six. The

castle itself sleeps up to 12 and can be rented from ÂŁ7,200 for three nights, full-board. Equally recommended are Burts Hotel (01896 822 285, burtshotel. co.uk), which serves the best roast beef lunch, and The Townhouse (01896 822 645, thetownhousemelrose.co.uk), CS CAMERON; CHRIS BLOTT/SCOTTISH CASHMERE CLUB

ne of the more bizarre sights during an autumn trip to the Scottish Borders was a tourist coach arriving at the Jedburgh Woollen Mill and dozens of excited Chinese tourists pouring out. A few decades ago this wouldnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have been odd; foreign visitors have long flocked to Scotland to buy cashmere. But today, most of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s (mainly inferior) cashmere is made in China and Mongolia. A few sneaky peeks at labels in this tourist emporium confirmed my large-scale cashmere business in Scotland. Local mills have suspicions: the products the Chinese tourists were proudly either been bought up by the Chinese (Dawsons is now purchasing were their own, as foreign to them as the Great Wall, Chinese-owned, and there is only one local mill still running) as Scottish as dim sum. or have lost international customers to cheaper Chinese The way to tell whether knitwear is genuinely Scottish â&#x20AC;&#x201C; manufacturers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;What the high-end fashion companies that is, high-quality, made from wool with fibres more than eventually realised, though, is that you donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t get the same one-and-a-third inches long and 16.5 microns thick, meaning standard from the Chinese,â&#x20AC;? says Sugden. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Thankfully, garments wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t easily bobble, wear or lose their shape â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is to they have started to come back in their droves.â&#x20AC;? inspect its label, says James Sugden, managing director of Touring around his own mill and that of Hawick Cashmere of Johnstons of Elgin. Only garments that are actually knitted or Scotland â&#x20AC;&#x201C; both of which welcome visitors to see the fine yarn woven in Scotland can be called â&#x20AC;&#x153;Scottish cashmereâ&#x20AC;?, and there being turned into covetable pieces and hand-finished by rows of are only nine mills belonging to the Scottish Cashmere Club local women â&#x20AC;&#x201C; I soon come to appreciate why Scottish cashmere (scottishcashmereclub.com) which guarantees their quality. is so prized. The waters around here not only lend colours A Scottish product is not, of course, as cheap as its Chinese a certain luminosity but also give the wool great softness. counterpart â&#x20AC;&#x201C; unless you have been let into a well-kept secret. Designs come from a rich pool of British talent (including the There are two factory shops in Hawick from which one can charming Issy Tennant, sister of the model Stella and one of the buy products at such knockdown prices that, even from designers at Brora, who guides me for the day). The quality of the somewhere as far away as Cornwall, it is worth making the trek. hand-finishing is extremely high; it has to be. Hawickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s clients Shopping for cashmere in Scotland is nothing like buying include Pickett, Emma Willis, Duchamp and Lucien Pellat-Finet, pieces at an opulent Chanel or Louis Vuitton boutique â&#x20AC;&#x201C; although whose cashmere clothing is among the most expensive in the Scotland is where much of the cashmere for these fashion houses world, while Johnstonsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; include labels such as Burberry, is produced. However, in these straitened times, who cares about Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Matthew Williamson and Brora. glamorous surroundings and designer labels? In the Borders, one Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s more, the staff are clearly proud of every item they can learn so much from locals whose families have been making produce. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Go on,â&#x20AC;? urges one handsome Celtic woman as she cashmere here since 1797 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and in the process of buying British, delicately hand-stitches a label on to a Brora jacket. one can help keep the traditional mill towns going. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Treat yourself â&#x20AC;&#x201C; every woman deserves the best every In its heyday, Hawick had about 30 mills manufacturing now and then. And these are the best!â&#x20AC;? garments from the precious fine fibres of the cashmere goat, The good news for bargain-hunters is that prices which lives only on the arid, high slopes of in the factory shops are reasonable. So reasonable, in China and Mongolia. It was in this town that a fact, that instead of ogling just one sweater Scot, Joseph Dawson, invented the mechanical (a bargain at ÂŁ129, roughly a third of its price in process that cleans and de-hairs fibres (in other London), I begin to calculate how many days I would words, removes the thicker hairs from the fine have to go without coffee to afford a second (four downy fluff), thus creating the cashmere months: too long). Better still, Hawick Cashmere will industry. At one stage, factories here employed hold its mill-shop sale on December 3 and tens of thousands of local people; at its height, 4, an annual event where the prices are so low, Dawsonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s company produced cashmere for apparently, that shoppers start queuing at 5am, all the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s big fashion houses, making about with Thermos flasks and wads of cash. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 56,000 sweaters a week for Pringle alone. with three friends in tow. So sorry, friends and family, As is the case in many other manufacturing to ruin the surprise, but this Christmas Colourful yarns Cashmere in industries, it is China that has killed off the tartan (top) and the raw material it is cashmere socks, socks and more socks.

both in the charming town of Melrose. Getting there Loyd & Townsend Rose (01835 824 642, ltr.co.uk) has a three-night cashmere trip, staying at the Roxburghe Hotel, from ÂŁ1,250 per person, full-board. The price includes a dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s private tour (with driver) of either the Johnstons or Hawick cashmere mill. Bmi (0844 8484 888, flybmi.com) flies from London Heathrow to Edinburgh seven times a day, from ÂŁ78 return.


THE BEST (and worst) OF 2011 TEA TIME IN SRI LANKA

of snorkelling among them as they

mass of water relentlessly cleaving

No place anywhere else on earth offers

squeaked and cavorted around us.

the jungle do you feel its might.

The worst experience? Driving

The worst trend? The creeping

beautiful and the beneficial as

around the idyllic island of Zanzibar

tendency of even multi-starred hotels

Bogawantalawa. Otherwise known as

and seeing mountains of rubbish

to replace individual soaps, shampoos

Sri Lankaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;Golden Valley of Teaâ&#x20AC;?, it is

everywhere; and walking along a white,

and shower gels with unpleasant,

4,000ft up in the hill country near

palm-lined beach at sunset, only to

wall-mounted dispensers containing

Hatton, a vast counterpane of slopes

discover this part of the island was

slithery, all-purpose unguents. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

neatly braided with bright green tea

used by locals â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with no sanitation in

fine for communal changing rooms,

bushes. The leaves are plucked daily,

their own village â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as a lavatory.

but not personal bathrooms. The last

creating an atmosphere of eternal

Lisa Grainger

thing you want to be reminded of in

spring, and this lucrative landscape is

a hotel room is that someone has

still embellished with enchanting

IN AN ENGLISH HEAVEN

stayed there before you.

woods, exotic gardens, misty lakes and

In April, the rolling South Downs were

Peter Hughes

Victorian churches. You can learn all

declared Englandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s newest National

about tea on a tour of the Norwood

Park. This and a mid-life need for

SOLACE IN SOMERSET

Estate, and visit its working factory â&#x20AC;&#x201C;

exercise prompted me to tackle the

The satnav fell silent and the empty

a fascinating world of precision

South Downs Way, a 100-mile footpath

harvesting, heritage machinery and

along the high ground from Winchester

devotion to quality. Nearby, Tea Trails is

to Eastbourne. Expecting familiar

a quartet of grand bungalows from the

English countryside, I was amazed to

1920s, turned into well-appointed

find exotic uplands dotted with pagan

lodges. Guests can follow dreamy

burial mounds, chalk giants and

cottage rental company. Eventually,

walks through the plantations, enjoy

flint-rimmed dew ponds. The white

Westcott Cross Cottage emerged from

a detoxifying green-tea bath, then dine

path led me to the mystic monument

the dark. Breathing in that old-England

on Earl Grey-encrusted roast lamb.

of Chanctonbury Ring and through

smell of cold, damp earth when we

Every day starts with a cup of â&#x20AC;&#x153;bed teaâ&#x20AC;?

forgotten meadows blessed by skylarks

opened the car doors, we walked in to

brought to your room, then ends with

and brimstone butterflies. I was

discover a warm beamed kitchen,

the pleasant discovery of a hot-water

discovering magic in my own country

heated by an Aga and leading to an

bottle slipped between the sheets.

and it became harder to leave the ridge

open-plan sitting room with squashy

and descend into the relative normality

sofas, wood-burning fire, satellite

conservative, please-dress-modestly

of the Weald. The highlight came as

television, and satisfyingly stuffed

capital of the Islamic Republic of

I approached the rollercoaster pathway

bookshelves. Upstairs we found three

Maldives. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Your dress is inside out,â&#x20AC;?

along the white cliffs of the Seven

plain bedrooms â&#x20AC;&#x201C; just a low bed,

I told my wife as we headed to dinner,

Sisters. Perhaps it was the endorphins

bedside lamp and wardrobe in each â&#x20AC;&#x201C;

stepping into the lift on the 10th floor

produced by eight hours of walking

and showers with those white heaters

of the Traders Hotel. By the seventh,

each day, but the sea, spitfire sky and

that give you just enough hot water on

Alice was in her underwear, at the third

neatly nibbled grass at the edge of our

demand. Comfortable, not luxurious,

we were scrabbling for shoes. As we

temperate isle made me feel as though

but a great bargain out of season. My

hit the lobby, the door opened to

I was marching through heaven.

brother and sister-in-law and their two

My worst moment was in MalĂŠ, the

a long-bearded elder who had

lanes looked spookily black. Exmoor,

Tales of the unexpected A meal en route to Madeira; the chalk Long Man of Wilmington; and the pool at the HĂ´tel du Cap-Eden-Roc

North Somerset, is not the easiest place to find your way around late on a chilly autumn Friday when you have forgotten the instructions sent by the

And the worst? Verona airport,

small children and suave black

narrowly missed the shock of his life.

where I had my passport confiscated

At a sunny table by the window, I was

AMAZED BY THE AMAZON

Labrador, Monty, arrived soon after us.

Nigel Tisdall

by a bored bully of a border guard for

served an appetiser of Azorean soft

The year has provided much to

We fell asleep to the companionable

literally stepping out of line. In the age

cheese with garlicky marinade and

remember. There was the rare and

sound of sheep coughing and woke on

BACK TO BASICS IN AFRICA

of smartphones and swipe cards, there

piquant black olives, carpaccio of beef

sorry experience of seeing the Old

Saturday morning to clear blue skies

This year I have appreciated nothing

must be a better way to welcome

with shaved Parmesan (about ÂŁ9), then

Town of Massawa in Eritrea. Still

and frost-covered hills all around. We

more than being away from buzzing

travellers (and our disposable income)

scabbard fish (ÂŁ12) â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a Madeira

recovering from a war that ended

warmed up croissants, made porridge

cities, servile hotel staff and

than grumpy guards in comic operetta

staple â&#x20AC;&#x201C; cooked to buttery perfection

20 years ago, it remains a place of

on the Aga, and enjoyed the novelty of

complicated restaurant food that

outfits scowling at our photographs

and accompanied by a Cortes de Cima

unmistakable style, although its

no mobile-phone reception. Classic

dazzles the eye but not the taste buds.

and treating us like criminals.

ChaminĂŠ viognier (ÂŁ8) from the

buildings â&#x20AC;&#x201C; walls blown in, windows

Cottages had sent a list of local

Instead, I have been revelling in simple,

Johnny Morris

Alentejo. As the sunset blazed over the

blown out â&#x20AC;&#x201C; are architectural gruyère.

Christmas fairs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the kind of event

craggy IlhĂŠu de Baixo ou da Cal, just

There was the joyous experience of

advertised only in local newsagents â&#x20AC;&#x201C;

old-fashioned hospitality done really well. At Chem Chem safari camp in

A GLASS OFF MADEIRA

south of Porto Santo, dolphins played

Prague, glinting in sunshine, at the start

so we wrapped up and set off for the

Tanzania, enjoying tea in a silver pot

My second-best experience of 2011

in the bow wave beneath my window

of the annual spring music festival, and

cobble-stoned village of Dunster, a few

brought to my bed at dawn, sipping it

was diving the wreck of the

and I spotted a pilot whale. Still flushed

there was the wondrous experience, in

miles away. It was a perfect weekend.

under a down duvet while watching

Madeirense, sunk in 110ft of indigo

with the adrenalin of diving, I could not

a South Korean monastery, of seeing

giraffe being slowly bathed in soft

water off Porto Santo, a golden fleck of

imagine a more sublime passage.

the 850-year-old Tripitaka, a vast

almost every bedside lamp I used in

apricot light. At Faru Faru Lodge in the

an island 27 miles north-east of

collection of Buddhist texts engraved

Calcutta, Vienna, Lisbon, Madrid,

Serengeti, taking a hot, hard

Madeira. You can fly back to Funchal in

new direct route to Sharm El Sheikh

on more than 81,000 blocks of wood.

Grasse and Jamaica not only take up

rainshower on a moonlit wooden deck

10 minutes, but the decompression

(again for the diving). Despite checking

outside my room, admiring the Milky

risk meant I took the ferry. This led

in early, we could not get seats

I was partly prepared. What I had not

bedside table (cue gnashing teeth) but

Way. On a dhow trip in Zanzibar,

inadvertently to my best experience â&#x20AC;&#x201C;

together â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so, on a night flight, my

anticipated was the impact of seeing

also have such a weak bulb that I had

rounding a bay on a remote island to

dinner on the Lobo Marinho

eight-year-old slept on his own. We had

the Amazon for the first time. In Peru,

to pull the lamp on to the bed and

find a cook barbecuing lobsters for our

(portosantoline.pt), the vessel that plies

to beg for blankets, the service was

2,000 miles from the sea, it was already

balance it on the pillow to read? Why

lunch, to be eaten on a shell-strewn

these waters daily in two-and-a-half

unhelpful to the point of surlinessâ&#x20AC;Ś

half a mile wide. Its power was almost

did the bank of switches in my villa at

sandy beach that was all our own.

hours. Its Algas e Corais restaurant is

and we arrived 90 minutes early, in the

mystical. I knew the statistics â&#x20AC;&#x201C;

the otherwise soothing One & Only The

Then, treat of treats, our captain

utilitarian in dĂŠcor, but starched table

small hours. Yes, the Egyptians have

4,000 miles long, water flow 10 times

Palm in Dubai have no indication of

spotting dolphins in the distance and

linen, gleaming glassware and the

had a revolution to deal with â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but

that of the Mississippi, drainage

which switch operated which light

hoisting his hand-sewn sails to follow

instant arrival of champagne

a revolution in service is now due.

area almost as big as Australia â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but

(voice rises to a screech)? Why?

them, so we could experience the thrill

transformed it into the Connaught.

Andrew Purvis

only when you see that unending

Adriaane Pielou

 LCKI8KI8M<C

The antithesis was flying Air Egyptâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

These were experiences for which

And the least pefect thing? Why did

too much space on the too-small

GRAHAM BOYNTON; CORBIS; GETTY; PHOTOSHOT; LISA GRAINGER

such a sensational combination of the


BEYOND EXPECTATION The kind of endless green others would envy.

Where the front nine is almost as impressive as your swing, one of the many reasons why.

stregis.com

HOTEL DEBUTS :

ABU DHABI

BANGKOK

BAL HARBOUR

DOHA

FLORENCE

MAURITIUS

SANYA

SHENZHEN

TIANJIN

©2011 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.


THE ULTRATRAVELTOP10

MOUNTAIN HIGHS After an active day on the slopes, nothing makes you feel as good as a swim and a massage. Francesca Syz picks the best resorts offering both an excellent spa and world-class skiing

Baby, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s cold outside Guests at the Alpina Dolomites Gardena Health Lodge and Spa in Italy can soothe tired muscles with a dip in the pool, followed by a spa treatment

 LCKI8KI8M<C


SKI & SPA

S

kiing and spa-going are about as far from each other as you can get in terms of ways to pass the time. But think about how each makes you feel and you realise they are a natural combination physically and psychologically, exercising both body and soul. The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s top ski hotels now have full-service spas and sophisticated treatment menus to rival anything to be found in an urban

five-star hotel. A spa is now an integral part of the ski-holiday experience. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The snow is so seductive, people want to get right out on to it as soon as they arrive,â&#x20AC;? says

Dr Ada Mihaela Pein, spa manager at Hotel Aurelio in Lech, Austria. â&#x20AC;&#x153;But the average person underestimates the importance of preparing for skiing.â&#x20AC;? Spa treatments can be helpful here, right from the start. Take a pre-ski massage, for instance. A great way to begin your holiday, it draws a line under your working week and a tiring journey, improves circulation and increases muscle and tendon elasticity â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all of which reduce the chance of injury on the slopes. Likewise, a post-ski massage improves circulation, helps to break down the build-up of lactic acid that can occur when muscles have worked hard, and reduces the onset of muscle soreness. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Ideally, after a dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s skiing, you should soothe your muscles with a steam, followed by a deep-tissue massage,â&#x20AC;? advises Dr Pein. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Most British skiers get on to the slopes only once or twice a year, so they are going to ache,â&#x20AC;? says Andrew Dunn, founder of the ski holiday operator Scott Dunn. â&#x20AC;&#x153;So what better excuse can there be to head to the hotel spa?â&#x20AC;? Overleaf, we review 10 of the most innovative.

LCKI8KI8M<C 


W E LCOM E D i a m o n d

TO

A g e

T H E

o f

Tra ve l

The Maharajas’ Express Imagine a rail journey in the style of royalty, experiencing the wonders of India from your luxuriously appointed private cabin aboard the Maharajas’ Express. Immerse yourself in the country’s rich history, cultural treasures, spectacular wildlife, temples, palaces and people – all brought to life by expert guides. Enjoy fine dining in one of the train’s two superb restaurants or relax amid state-of-the-art comforts.

Experiences Like No Other Sip champagne as you watch the sun rise over the Taj Mahal. Sample royal delicacies in Gwalior’s spectacular Man Mandir Palace. Join a camel caravan to a barbeque under the stars in the Thar Desert. Seek out the elusive tiger and other wildlife in Bandhavgarh, Ranthambore and Kota. Play elephant polo in the majestic surroundings of Jaipur. Dine in the Royal Courtyard of the mighty Meherangarh Fort in Jodhpur. River cruise on the River Chambal, home of a wide range of flora, fauna, and birdlife.

A Train Like No Other Panoramic windows and en suite bathroom in every cabin Two restaurants, a stylish Safari bar, lounge and boutique Spacious cabins include one whole-carriage Presidential Suite Each cabin has a TV / DVD, Wi-Fi and direct dial telephone Air cushioned suspension & individual temperature controls The 23 carriages carry up to 84 passengers and 56 staff

For full journey details, departure dates and prices you can visit our website, request a brochure, or call one of Cox & Kings’ expert tour consultants.

To speak to an expert or request a brochure, please call 0845 564 2104 quoting reference: ULTRA Website: www.coxandkings.co.uk/maharaja


Pool with a view Relaxing at the Hotel Bagni Vecchi in the Italian resort of Bormio

THE ULTRATRAVELTOP10

Ski-spa retreats

ITALY

including facials with mud made from the thermal

BAGNI DI BORMIO SPA RESORT BORMIO

waters. Guests can walk through the park (or take

A spa town since Roman times (Leonardo da Vinci

the hotel shuttle-bus) to the 12-room Hotel Bagni

recorded a visit here in 1493), now with a grand

Vecchi, where the outdoor pool has magnificent

17th-century centre, Bormio has twice hosted the

mountain views. In a grotto in the grounds, guests

Alpine World Ski championships. The Alta Valtellina

follow a path 50 yards into the mountain to the

ski pass also covers the neighbouring Santa

source of the water, bubbling out at 104F (40C).

Caterina and Livigno ski areas. A few minutesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;

Bookings: 00 39 0342 910 131, bagnidibormio.it.

walk from the town centre, in the Stelvio National

Doubles from â&#x201A;Ź132 (ÂŁ115), b&b. Taxis from Milan

Park, Bagni di Bormio comprises two hotels and

charge â&#x201A;Ź250 (ÂŁ218) for up to three. BA (0844 930

two spa centres, backed by forest. The 74-room

0787, ba.com) flies to Milan from ÂŁ183 return.

main hotel, the five-star Grand Bagni Nuovi, first opened as a spa resort in 1836 and was reopened

ALPINA DOLOMITES GARDENA HEALTH

in 2003 after a long refurbishment. It remains

LODGE & SPA SOUTH TYROL

redolent of the belle ĂŠpoque, with Murano glass

There is a real sense of drama about the

chandeliers and art nouveau flourishes in the

Dolomites (designated a UNESCO World Natural

grand public rooms. The spa experience here

Heritage Site in 2009), with their extraordinary

starts in the bathroom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; where the hydro-

jagged peaks, ravines, and Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest

massage bath is fed with thermal water. In the

high-altitude plateau.The Alpina Dolomites hotel is

spa, indoor and outdoor thermal facilities include

on this plateau, right on the slopes of the Dolomiti

11 open-air baths, Jacuzzis, saunas and

Superski circuit (the biggest in the Alps, with

a Turkish bath, with 70 treatments on offer,

12 resorts sharing a single ski pass, 758 miles of

LCKI8KI8M<C 


PHOTOLIBRARY; REX; JONAS KULLMAN

THE ULTRATRAVELTOP10

Ski-spa retreats AUSTRIA

pistes and 37 miles of cross-country tracks). The

steam baths, and Thai and hot-stone massages.

sleekly modern 56-room hotel, which opened in

Bookings: 00 41 81 378 9999, tschuggen.ch.

HOTEL AURELIO LECH

2010, is built from wood, stone and glass and is

Doubles from CHF225 (ÂŁ159). Powder Byrne (020

With 14 bedrooms and five suites, the supremely

home to a strikingly beautiful spa. There, you can

8246 5300, powderbyrne.com) offers week-long

chic, ski-in ski-out Hotel Aurelio in the exclusive

enjoy a goatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s milk facial or just relax and enjoy

stays aimed at families at half-term (February

resort of Lech am Arlberg has the feel of a private

the spectacular views from the indoor and

11-18) and in the first week of the Easter holidays

chalet (and a section of it can be hired as such).

outdoor pools, while a medical centre offers

(March 31-April 7) from ÂŁ3,633 per person,

Despite its relatively uncrowded slopes, this part

de-stressing Ayurvedic massages and the

half-board, including return flights from London,

of Austria has a good snow record and is superb

chance to sign up for a serious, bespoke health

transfers, and special ski classes for children.

for intermediates. The Aurelio may be small, but

programme that can be continued at home.

its sleek new seven-treatment-room holistic spa is

Bookings: 00 39 0471 79 6004, alpinadolomites.it.

SWITZERLAND

Doubles from â&#x201A;Ź189 (ÂŁ165), half-board. BA (0844

VICTORIA-JUNGFRAU GRAND

one for light and sound therapy), a meditation

493 0787, ba.com) flies to Verona from ÂŁ77 return.

HOTEL & SPA INTERLAKEN

room with an open fire, a thermal suite with

The Grand Dame of alpine hotels, opened in 1856,

classic and herbal saunas, an aroma steam bath,

TSCHUGGEN GRAND HOTEL AROSA

the Victoria-Jungfrau sits at the foot of the

herbal/floral baths, a Jacuzzi, a multi-sensory

With its â&#x20AC;&#x153;home from homeâ&#x20AC;? philosophy, the

Jungfrau Massif in Interlaken, in the heart of the

shower, ice pools and a snow atrium. There are

130-room Tschuggen Grand Hotel is a genuinely

Bernese Oberland, gateway to the three excellent

several relaxation areas and a bar stocked with

friendly place. The hotel sits in a valley sheltered

ski areas of Wengen (birthplace of alpine downhill

from the wind and is surrounded by 43 miles of

skiing), Grindelwald and MĂźrren. A shuttle bus

piste â&#x20AC;&#x201C; suitable for every level of skier â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and

connects the hotel with the ski slopes, and the

15 miles of cross-country trails, with a two-cabin

local railway â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the most scenic option â&#x20AC;&#x201C; links all

mountain railway, the Tschuggen Express, to

three. The hotel has not one but two spas:

whisk guests to the ski area in two-and-a-half

the first to be opened has 16 treatment rooms

Doubles from â&#x201A;Ź750 (ÂŁ650). The Oxford Ski

minutes. Morphed from a 19th-century

and more than 30 Espa treatments involving

Company (01865 398 130, oxfordski.com) is

sanatorium for patients with lung conditions

Eastern-influenced techniques (including a Swiss

offering seven nights half-board, including flights

(the original structure burnt to the ground

Alpine herb-poultice massage). The recently

and transfers, from ÂŁ2,475 per person.

in 1966, but the hotel was rebuilt in 1970), it

added Sensai Select spa has seven treatments

has always had healthy living at its core. The

designed by the Japanese company Kanebo

FRANCE

spectacular new four-storey subterranean

exclusively for the hotel. The spa facilities are

LE CHABICHOU COURCHEVEL1850

Tschuggen Bergoase Spa, designed by Swiss

connected by a huge indoor-outdoor pool with

This 42-room, family-run rustic-chic alpine retreat

architects Mario Botta (creator of the San

hot tubs, and the steamy outdoor area is

in the heart of Courchevel 1850 is renowned for

Francisco Museum of Modern Art) and Carlo

a marvellous place to be when it is actually

its piste-side location â&#x20AC;&#x201C; it is well connected to the

Rampazzi, opened in 2006 and is lit by a series of

snowing. There is also a spa cafĂŠ for refreshing

entire Trois VallĂŠes ski area and 373 miles of

sail-shaped windows protruding from the snow.

vitamin-rich juices and aromatic teas.

well-maintained slopes, as well as cross-country

Highlights are the indoor and outdoor pools, an

Bookings: 00 41 33 828 28 28, victoria-jungfrau.

and snowshoeing routes. It is also noted for its

open fire, a Kneipp trail (where guests can wade

ch). Doubles from CHF500 (ÂŁ350). British Airways

exceptional food (the restaurant has two Michelin

barefoot over stones through a mixture of

(0844 493 0787, ba.com) flies from London

stars) and for the personalised treatments at

warm and icy water), beautiful saunas and

Heathrow to Zurich from ÂŁ118 return.

its spa. In December, the spa will relaunch as

 LCKI8KI8M<C

huge, with two beautiful indoor pools (including

Ski training The Tschuggen Express (top left) speeds guests from the Tschuggen Grand Hotel (top right) to the slopes in less than three minutes. At Courchevel (above), skiing can be combined with treatments at Le Chabichouâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s subterranean spa

fresh fruit, tea and snacks. Treatments are by Ligne St Barth, whose products are all made from locally sourced ingredients on the island of St Barts, and the high-tech Swiss range Valmont. Bookings: 00 43 5583 2214, aureliolech.com.


THE ULTRATRAVELTOP10 Ski-spa retreats Snow business In Sweden, the cool, clean look of rooms at the Copperhill Mountain Lodge (left) is echoed in its spa. Guests at the spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel (below) in Canada can enjoy a view of the Rockies from outdoor pools

Cha’Banya, a subterranean wellness centre under the ski slope, with a 51ft pool and treatments using anti-ageing Carita and aromatherapy-based Decléor products. The new spa will champion multi-sensory experiences, with a tropical-rain trail, Dead Sea pool, Russian sauna, hammam, Polar bath, ice fountain, saline cave and musical pool. A series of treatment programmes includes a six-day “intense skiing journey” involving two preparatory sessions, daily après-ski massages, four facials, and more.

person. The price includes four nights in Tokyo and six nights at Green Leaf Hotel, domestic flights between Tokyo and Sapporo, and a six-day Niseko ski pass. BA (0844 493 0787, ba.com) has return flights from London to Tokyo from £603.

CHILE PUMA LODGE THE ANDES Chile’s new 24-room Puma Lodge is causing quite a stir among heli-skiing fans. Located in the exceptionally beautiful Cipreses National Park,

Bookings: 00 33 4 908 0055, chabichou-

which encompasses three mountain ranges and

courchevel.com. Doubles from €375 (£326), b&b.

more than 50 glaciers, the lodge has special

Scott Dunn (020 8682 5050, scottdunn.com) is

privileges, with its guides and guests the only

offering seven nights at Le Chabichou from

people permitted to ski in the park. At the

£2,300 per person, b&b, including return flights with British Airways and private transfers.

moment, it is accessible by heli-ski only, but next Copperhill Privilege, which includes a body scrub,

ski-in ski-out access to deep powder slopes as

year a cross-country option is being added.

a hot lava-stone massage and a penetrating

well as a beautiful spa, is the best place to stay.

The spa, Los Cipreses, has four treatment rooms,

facial using protein-rich caviar.

Among the bonuses are the onsen (hot spring)

an outdoor sauna and wooden hot tubs, and is

COPPERHILL MOUNTAIN LODGE ARE

Bookings: 00 46 647 1 4300, copperhill.se. Doubles

facilities, which include an open-air bath within

staffed by two of Chile’s top therapists, who

Perched high on Mount Förberget, ski-in ski-out

from Swedish Kr1,390 (£133). Return flights from

a natural outdoor rock pool fed by a clear

specialise in combating the effect of the intense

Copperhill Mountain Lodge is a cool, Scandinavian

Gatwick to Trondheim – taxi fare €200 (£175) –

mineral spring that emerges from the ground at

ski experience with deep-tissue massages

take on an alpine chalet and sits at the heart of

cost from £125 (00 47 2149 0015, norwegian.com).

127F (53C) and is cooled to about 104F (40C) –

combined with techniques borrowed from

deemed the perfect temperature for the body

Thai massage and Ayurveda. Product-wise,

to benefit from the healing natural salts. So,

there’s the exclusive Spanish brand Germaine

SWEDEN

one of Europe’s largest skiing areas in Are, Sweden’s most popular resort. The 112-room

JAPAN

hotel features cosy bedrooms with tactile rugs

THE GREEN LEAF NISEKO

there you sit, surrounded by snow-covered

de Capuccini, which uses largely natural

and bed throws, Smeg kitchenettes and great

VILLAGE HIRAFU

rocks, pine trees and Mount Yotei. The hotel

ingredients. The spa also uses as many local

food in front of crackling fires. The Kerstin Florian

Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido has reliably

also has a western-style spa offering everything

ingredients as possible – including stones from

spa – with five treatment rooms – was inspired by

fantastic snow between December and April. Of

from acupressure to Ayurveda and treatments

the national park for the hot-stone massages

the local Sami people and uses only natural

its four resort areas, the best is Niseko, which

such as The Rubber Neck, which involves the

and clay from the local mining town of Coya

ingredients in its treatments. It features

overlooks the Mount Yotei volcano. Skiers get

back being tapped with bamboo sticks.

for detoxifying treatments.

a glassed-in steamy indoor pool, and tepee-like

a long day on the slopes here, with night skiing

Bookings: 00 800 9899 9999, thegreenleafhotel.

Latin American travel specialist Dehouche (0871

treatment rooms furnished with reindeer

routinely offered until 9pm. After a major

com. Doubles from Y9,690 (£80). Inside Japan

284 7770, dehouche.com) offers three nights’

hides and filled with the sound of Sami music.

refurbishment last year, the quintessentially

Tours (0117 370 9730, insidejapantours.com) is

heli-skiing at Puma Lodge and two nights in

The signature treatment is the 160-minute

Japanese 200-room Green Leaf Hotel, which has

offering 10 nights in Japan from £1,999 per

Santiago from £5,616 per person. The price includes flights from London with Iberia, transfers, full board, use of ski equipment, professional guiding and training, and three spa treatments.

CANADA FAIRMONT BANFF SPRINGS ALBERTA There is nothing understated about the Fairmont Banff Springs – a colossal ocean liner of a hotel, built in 1888 to resemble a Scottish baronial castle, whose completion marked the launch of tourism in the Canadian Rockies. With three of the finest skiing mountains in North America just a short hop away, the hotel is a very good base from which to enjoy different terrain every day. Add a season stretching from mid-November right through to mid-May and it is a pretty attractive package. Then there is the award-winning Willow Stream spa. In homage to the area’s original hot springs, there are waterfalls, a mineral pool, whirlpool, steam room, sauna and eucalyptus inhalation room, as well as indoor and outdoor heated pools. An exhaustive list of spa “experiences” combine multiple disciplines – for example, a mud wrap will be followed by a therapeutic bath and then a massage. The 60-minute après-ski massage is designed to improve performance, avoid injury and aid rapid recovery with a combination of massage and stretching to decrease muscle soreness and increase flexibility. Bookings: 00 1 866 540 4406, fairmont.com/ banffsprings. Doubles from C$389 (£242); Ski Independence (0131 243 8097, ski-i.com) is offering seven nights from £1,413 per person, including flights from Heathrow to Calgary with Air Canada, shared transfers, and a six-day lift pass.

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WHAT’S SO GREAT ABOUT AMAN?

Having cast her critical eye over most of the world’s luxury hotels, Victoria Mather knows she has the answer

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L

ast night I dreamt I went to Amanderley again. Amanbagh in Rajasthan, perhaps, to sit under a Moghul domed cupola. Or Aman Sveti Stefan in Montenegro, a 15th-century fortified village with 21st-century service. Or Amangiri in Utah. Its Amangiri Suite might cost ÂŁ2,280 per night â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but what is there not to love about an architectural marvel reached through Monument Valley, in the shadow of John Wayne? Amanresorts is that rare hotel group whose name perfectly sums up its ethos. Aman is Sanskrit for peace: Amanbagh means peaceful garden, Amangiri is peaceful mountain, and the original Amanpuri in Phuket is â&#x20AC;&#x153;place of peaceâ&#x20AC;?. Having been to 10 of the 25 Amans, I am now a converted peacenik. There are many Shangri-Las that are the antithesis of Shangri-La â&#x2C6;&#x2019; and Banyan Trees are very rarely under one. But Aman and peace are synonymous. In 1985 Adrian Zecha, the Indonesian-born founder of Aman, was looking for a holiday house on Phuket when, wandering along Pansea Beach, he discovered a coconut plantation with a view â&#x2C6;&#x2019; and had a light-bulb moment that changed hoteldom. Realising that a small resort would offset his investment in the plantation, he created Amanpuri on the â&#x20AC;&#x153;If I build it, they will comeâ&#x20AC;? principle. And they did come, many by private jet: Charles Saatchi to play Scrabble; Simon Murray, Sir â&#x20AC;&#x153;Chipsâ&#x20AC;? Keswick, and Sir David Tang, the whole giddy panoply of Hong Kong taipans, to hold confidential meetings pre-handover; City grandee Lord Hambro; Sir James Goldsmith. Michael J Foxâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s dog liked Amanpuri so much that it was left behind rather than be subjected to separation anxiety. When Zecha and the designer Ed Tuttle created Amanpuri, not only was a new hotel concept born, but a new race of travellers: Amanjunkies, who wanted a piece of the peace. Until Aman, most resort hotels were clunking structures with bedrooms off linear corridors. Zechaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s climb up a curving headland to see the sea that one perfect day in Thailand effectively blew these old-style leviathans out of the water. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The market didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know it wanted something new until it saw it,â&#x20AC;? Zecha says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Our goal was simply to build something that we would each like to live in.â&#x20AC;? BA â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Before Aman â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the great and the good went to the grand hotels of the Far East: The Oriental in Bangkok, the Mandarin Oriental in Hong Kong, Raffles in Singapore. Or they journeyed to grand European hotels that were as stately as a galleon, faux-Downtons that operated as comfort zones for the aristocracy and monied middle classes who wanted hotels to replicate their homes. AA â&#x20AC;&#x201C; After Aman â&#x20AC;&#x201C; laid-back private hideaways became the ultimate in casual chic. With a wealth of new money in the Eighties came new customers who wore shorts and flip-flops (it was the staff who wore the suits) and who wanted their houses to mimic the hotels. In addition to â&#x20AC;&#x153;creating something compatible with the contemporary lifestyleâ&#x20AC;?, Zecha and Tuttle â&#x20AC;&#x201C; an American based in Paris â&#x20AC;&#x201C; were obsessed with design that reflected the surrounding culture. Olivia Richli â&#x20AC;&#x201C; who spent five years at Amanjiwo in Java when her husband François was general manager, and is herself now general manager of the Amangalla in Sri Lanka â&#x20AC;&#x201C; recalls that she constantly

Calm and contemporary Amanbagh in the Aravilli Hills, Rajasthan

When Zecha created Aman, not only was a new hotel concept born, but a race of travellers who wanted a piece of the peace

Home from home Adrian Zecha, who builds hotels that he would like to live in

came across details Tuttle had taken from local temples. â&#x20AC;&#x153;There was always the surprise, the tiny interpretation of sense of place. Adrianâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s vision is to go to the places not so well trodden, use their vernacular architecture, and employ from the local community. At Jiwo, we employed 95 per cent from the villages and had a full-time English teacher for them. At Amangalla, we began with 75 per cent from Galle - still with me.â&#x20AC;? After the Indian Ocean tsunami, Richli immediately turned the hotel into a refuge centre. On that terrible December 26, it must have been some comfort to be swept into the Aman embrace. As Zechaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s idea took hold, and as the boutique-hotel ball rolled on â&#x20AC;&#x201C; its journey traced by Herbert Ypma in his Hip Hotels books â&#x20AC;&#x201C; there were other men at work, primarily Ian Schrager, who followed Morgans in New York with The Royalton, where the doormen dressed better than the guests, and Andre Balazs, with his Standards in Los Angeles, which were not up to everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s standards. But â&#x20AC;&#x201D; like Schragerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hudson on Central Park South, primarily a nightclub with a lobby attached, and his Sanderson in London, a long white marble bar with some rooms above it â&#x20AC;&#x201C; these were all urban properties rather than havens of peace. The distinction of the Amans was that each was in a pristine location and unique â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a concept that put cookie-cutter chains in the trash can of hotel history. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I follow the backpackers,â&#x20AC;? Zecha once told me. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are the adventurous ones; they find the unusual places. I just tag along behind.â&#x20AC;? This, of course, isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t quite true. When he opened his second Aman, in Bali (a location chosen, he claimed, because it has a different rainy season to Phuket,

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Real retreats Amanresorts in (clockwise, from main picture) Montenegro, Utah and Sri Lanka

and he hates rain), it was already an alluring destination for informed sophisticates weary of the West Indies â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so it wasnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t so much happenstance as careful calculation. Zecha was hardly just an inspired amateur, either; he had helped the Marriott hotel chain broker land deals in Asia and, in 1970 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with Robert Burns and Georg Rafael, two other below-the-radar hotel visionaries â&#x20AC;&#x201C; had created Regent International Hotels, an Asian luxury accommodation group. When The Regent opened in Hong Kong, all sinister-chic in black glass, it was a sensation. Burns went on to invest in the Four Seasons New York, designed by IM Pei, the like of which will never be built again, and Villa Feltrinelli on Lake Garda which, outside of Aman, is the finest small hotel in the world. What Zecha grasped is, first, that size matters; few of the resorts have more than 50 rooms, all of which have fabulous space (in Amanjena, Marrakech, oneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s private swimming pool is indoor-outdoor, from the drawing room to the garden). Second, he knew the importance of telepathic service. In Amanderley world, there are four benign Mrs Danvers per guest, but you never see them. It is no coincidence that the original Amans were in the Far East and India, where labour is abundant and inexpensive, the attitude gentle and soft-footed. Arriving by small aeroplane at Amanpulo, on its own private island in the Philippines, each guest is greeted by name and taken by buggy to their villa hidden in the dunes. It took me three days to work out how the staff knew who was who (the answer: the manager of the Aman lounge at the domestic terminal in Manila â&#x20AC;&#x201C; an oasis of calm with showers and Floris soap â&#x20AC;&#x201C; sends descriptions of the guestsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; clothes ahead to the resort). You could, if your beach novel were rubbish, play grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s footsteps with the staff. I never caught a single staff member in my room, yet it was always sparkling fresh â&#x20AC;&#x201C; not a crease on the bed (getting the bed made before lunch is a challenge in some of the best Caribbean hotels), not an unfolded towel. How did I know the room fairies had been? Because the postcards, of which I write lots to the 14 godchildren, had been replaced on the desk â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and with different images. In any Aman, your cards will be posted free of charge: a small thing, but a little touch of class. At Amanpuri, the white sand is sprayed with water to make it cool for the guests.

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In Sri Lanka, at Amangalla and Amanwella, different skin lotions are put into the bathrooms, depending on the weather. You never sign for anything: for the glass of fresh juice or the icy white wine (funny how one always has wet/sandy hands from the pool/sea when the annoying bit of paper is thrust at you in lesser establishments). Although these are Aman standards, â&#x20AC;&#x153;there are no rules, no handbook,â&#x20AC;? says Olivia Richli. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Each general manager runs the property as if it is his or her own, welcoming the guests into a home where the staff are part of the family.â&#x20AC;? Jonathan Blitz, formerly general manager at Aman-i-KhĂĄs, the tented camp in Rajasthan, and afterwards Amanwella, feels that the Aman magic is â&#x20AC;&#x153;remembering guestsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; names, making them feel important and loved, at peace. Amans are not homogenised, and the underlying principle is to be honest, genuine and good.â&#x20AC;? And thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s exactly how they make you feel. I remember sitting on a beautiful leather trunk at the end of my bed in Aman-i-KhĂĄs, struggling to put on my anti-mosquito socks, and hearing rattling inside the trunk. Opening it, I found it full of ice cubes, chilled beers, soft drinks, bottles of water â&#x20AC;&#x201C; fortifications for the intrepid in search of tigers. At Amanbagh, in the Aravalli Hills outside Jaipur, I arrived in tears because I had seen a dog being kicked and beaten by the side of the road. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d wanted to stop the car and rescue it, but had been feeble. Zecha, who was at Amanbagh for his 70th birthday, immediately said: â&#x20AC;&#x153;What, didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you bring it, you silly girl? Look!â&#x20AC;? And he waved his arm towards the vast, green lawn, where puppies rolled in the grass. It is not all lovely in the garden, though. Aman food has long been a bit dodgy. Bruce Palling, food columnist

In Amanderley world, there are four benign Mrs Danvers per guest, but you never see them

for The Wall Street Journal and a friend of Zecha, says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Adrian reckoned that the Amanjunkies had eaten, or could eat, at the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best restaurants. So he wanted simple food, locally sourced. It fitted in with his idea of less is more, no TV, no bar in the resorts, but elegance and style in a third-world environment.â&#x20AC;? There are televisions now, and Wi-Fi and iPod docking stations; the American Amans certainly could not exist without them â&#x20AC;&#x201C; although each is in an extraordinary location. Staying at Amangiri in Utah is one of the great modern adventures; I could even be persuaded to hike there because the landscape is so archaeologically wondrous (although a Navajo healing treatment in the spa would be my first choice of activity). Spas, too, have long been a problem for Aman; at Amanjiwo, there is still just one treatment room â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in a converted bedroom. But the hotels are evolving. A full spa has now been put into Amanpuri (it returned the ÂŁ1m investment within a year) and the Amangiri spa is state-of-the-art. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Lifestyle does not stay static,â&#x20AC;? Zecha once told me. â&#x20AC;&#x153;We continue to keep our finger on the pulse of how things are evolving, to offer a lifestyle experience without limitations.â&#x20AC;? At Amanfayun in Hangzhou, whose design is based on a Chinese village, there are four different restaurants, upping the food game considerably. In the Amans in Bhutan, they even grow their own produce; the one in Timpu, based on a traditional monastery, is outstanding architecturally, and the Aman Summer Palace in Beijing has sweated blood to embrace its heritage, even though you canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see anything (as the writer Peter Hughes says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Amans spend a fortune on making rooms extraordinarily dark, then another fortune lighting them in a super-complicated wayâ&#x20AC;?). The big question is what happens AAZ â&#x20AC;&#x201C; After Adrian Zecha. He is 78 now, and the company is still expanding. Amanruya, outside Bodrum, Turkey, will open soon (and one hopes the Aman peace wonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t be shattered by being located near one of Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s largest open-air nightclubs). Next, says Zecha, will come hotels in Greece and Vietnam. Long may it last; and long may being an Amanjunkie be a blessed state of being. As Olivia Richli says: â&#x20AC;&#x153;We donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t want anyone leaving unhappy.â&#x20AC;? Aman to all that. On page 44, five contenders for Amanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s crown


5FOLLOWERS IN AMAN’S FOOTSTEPS

Where Amanresorts lead, others imitate. But how successfully? Victoria Mather scrutinises some copycat rivals

ALILA VILLAS

guru. His Banyan Tree Ringha in Tibet is

her Shambhala spas are well thought

Where?

a design marvel, an adaption of old

through and her shops divine.

Cambodia, India, and Indonesia, with

farmhouses with lavish luxe and

The bad

more openings to come, in China and

splendid fireplaces.

Inconsistency. Where is the relationship

the Middle East.

The bad

between the Metropolitan and

What’s the story?

In Tibet, do you really want conference

Bhutan’s Uma Paro? The Met Bar,

Private-pool villas; launched in Jakarta

facilities? Ringha is bigged up as the

opened by the Ongs’ daughter, Melissa,

in 2000, the brand sprang to

most secluded retreat in the world –

is a worry. Amans don’t have bars, let

international consciousness when Alila

yet it is 45 minutes from the airport.

alone ones with Posh Spice in them.

Uluwatu opened in Bali in 2009. Alila,

The ugly

The ugly

which is Sanskrit (thank you, Aman) for

What’s with the turtles? From Thailand

The Halkin is severe, Parrot Cay a bit

“surprise”, was immediately hailed as

to the Seychelles, there has been

full of Bruce Willis (and itself), and

heir to Aman: dramatic architecture,

a Beanie-Baby sort of turtle or fish on

Cocoa Island in the Maldives has

high aspirations about seamless

my bed at night – an eco version of the

a great shop but a dull restaurant.

service, and an apparent mission to

chocolate on the pillow. Also, why

Not sure it’s on to eat in Ongworld.

spoil guests to death. Mark Edleson,

plonk a Jamaican plantation house on

Mrs O is a size eight. como.bz

US banker turned hotelier and the man

an island in the Seychelles? Why such

behind Mandara spas, is the guiding

pathetic cupboard space in Thailand?

light. Used to work with Adrian Zecha.

(Adrian Zecha considers space

The good

a luxury.) And would it kill them to have

Super-eco, with a real determination to

tidied the beach of dirty towels by

create a sense of place. Resorts are

8am? banyantree.com

built with local materials and labour; sourced, carbon-neutral foods are used

COMO HOTELS AND RESORTS

in preference to imported. Service

Where?

thinking, not by-the-manual. Some of

Bali, Bangkok, London, Maldives, Turks

the architecture is breathtaking,

and Caicos; Phuket to come.

EVASON

particularly the bird’s-nest pavilion

What’s the story?

Where?

suspended above the sea in Bali.

Christina Ong, wealthy Asian style icon,

Jordan, Thailand, Vietnam.

The bad

was hailed as the hottest hotelier since

What’s the story?

Can deluxe privacy be too isolating?

Adrian Zecha when she began creating

Evason is the diffusion line of Soneva,

You lie by your pool, a picnic basket of

her empire by mistake. Her husband,

part of the Six Senses group begun in

lotions and potions at your side and

Singaporean property tycoon Ong Beng

1995 by London-based Sonu

a butler to indulge every gastronomic

Seng, opened the minimalist Halkin

Shivdasani and his Swedish wife, Eva.

and vinous whim. But do you then miss

hotel in Belgravia in 1991, then bought

The Sonevas (Maldives and Thailand)

only local staff are employed. Locally

out on the Somerset Maugham aspect

a young local lad who had started at

What’s the story?

the Metropolitan on Park Lane. Mrs

scream eco-friendly luxury; your shoes

of hotels? The affairs, the stories of the

the hotel as a beach boy. The

Admirable. In 1984 the group’s

Ong did not like the showroom, so it

are removed on arrival because “No

dramatis personae in the dining room?

management had encouraged his

chairman, Ho Kwon Ping, discovered

was you-do-it-then – and she did. Ditto

News, No Shoes” is “intelligent luxury”.

The ugly

interest in wine, sent him to France,

a 400-hectare former tin-mining site in

the pink monster, Parrot Cay, in the

The Evasons are lower-key. The

Heaven forfend. The aim is modernist

given him responsibility and

Phuket deemed by the United Nations

mangroves of the Turks and Caicos.

Shivdasanis have a stylish vision,

and understated, making Aman’s

opportunity – fabulous. The food is

as too damaged for development.

She turned it into a whitewashed,

despite the micro-management:

temple-inspired resorts look fussy and

great, too; pingingly fresh. Smiling staff.

Chairman Ho spent 17 years working to

mosquito-free haven.

“Every detail is thought through,

the Asian style imposed on its Villa

The bad

restore the land that became the site

The good

from amenities to toilet-roll holders”.

Milocer in Montenegro seem

Too much blah about “interactive

of the first Banyan Tree – a brand

Mrs Ong, like Zecha, is a person with

You’d think toilet would have been

inappropriate. alilahotels.com

immersions in the culture of the

based on environmental sensitivity.

taste and a vision. Her idea of service is

beaten out of Shivdasani at Eton.

destination”. Example: fruit-carving

gentle efficiency, not staff who want to

ANANTARA

The good

The good

demonstrations. What?

Banyan Trees pride themselves on

be your new best friend while holding

The Evason Ma’In Hot Springs in Jordan

Where?

The ugly

their spas – “for rejuvenation of mind,

their hand out for a tip. Her butlers are

is hard to beat for a whacky spa

Abu Dhabi, Indonesia, Maldives,

Bill Bensley, the PT Barnum of

body and spirit” – and were way ahead

the perfect mix of business concierge,

experience. Want to be polished with

Thailand; China and Vietnam to come.

architecture, is responsible for most of

of Aman in their realisation that a spa

PA and babysitter; you want to pop

ground date stones? It’s 900ft below

What’s the story?

Anantara’s buildings. A bit burlesque,

is an essential, not an add-on.

them into your suitcase, no matter

sea level and dedicated to de-stressing

The man with the vision is American

a bit Miami Beach (as Forbes magazine

Chairman Ho’s younger brother, Ho

what the bill. As Mrs Ong is a yoga

the inner you with natural hot springs,

William Heinecke, entrepreneur and

described his art-deco design for the

Kwon Cjan, is Banyan’s architectural

fanatic, there’s a lot of “wellness”, but

Dead Sea salts and mud wraps. Like

coiled spring of energy who moved

Hotel de la Paix in Siem Reap), all

the Evason in Nha Trang, simple and

with his family to Bangkok as a child in

showman. When he’s good, he’s

well-designed, using local materials.

1963. You have to admire someone

very very good; when he’s bad, he’s

The bad

who, as a teenager, took over from the

horrid. Anantara Bophut in Koh

Chemical-free organic bossing:

advertising manager of Bangkok World

Samui is an idiotic V-shape, so the

“Keeping guests informed of these

while still at school and who now owns

rear rooms are rubbish. Yet Bensley did

initiatives teaches them how to reflect

the country’s largest fast-food

the Four Seasons Tented Camp in

the philosophy into their own lives, and

company. Anantara means “without

Chang Rai so exquisitely that the

how these intelligent alternatives

end” in Sanskrit (again the Aman

Anantara across the mountain looks

benefit our planet as a whole”. One is

rip-off) and was conceived to represent

common. anantara.com

on holiday, not at a self-help workshop. The ugly

“the freedom, movement and harmony” of the Anantara experience.

BANYAN TREE

The good

Where?

Torremolinos, has lovely rooms, fresh

Real care with food and wine. At the

China, Indonesia, Korea, Maldives,

food, ghastly location. Shivdasani has

first Anantara, on Koh Samui (now

Mexico, Seychelles, Thailand

Anantara Bophut), the sommelier was

and the United Arab Emirates.

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The Evason in Hua Hin, Thailand’s

Under the influence Would Alila Uluwatu (top) or Banyan Tree Ringha (above) look as they do without Aman showing the way? Far right: massage at the Evason Ma’In

made these resorts too big: 70-plus rooms is very un-Aman. sixsenses.com


SINGAPORE SWINGS SINGAPORE RISING

The world economy may be on a downward slide, but this tropical city-state smaller

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Bright lights, big money The glamour surrounding the Singapore Grand Prix (inset, top left) is a magnet for visitors. Main picture: the Marina Bay area at night, seen from the vantage point of the slowly spinning Singapore Flyer PHOTOGRAPHS BY SCOTT WOODWARD

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than the Isle of Wight is exuberantly reinventing itself as the playground of the super-rich. Michael Simkins joins the party

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O

h, Marmiteland,” said a friend when I announced I was going to Singapore. “You’ll either love it or hate it. It’s really just a huge shopping mall with an airport attached.” Her remark was fairly typical of many who have not visited the tiny tropical city-state in the past five years or so. They still tend to dismiss it as just a safe, clean place for shoppers, a retail utopia where litter louts are arrested and chewing gum is banned. It is, they say, the Far East without the rough edges: perfect for a one-night stopover, and just as soon forgotten. Yet Singapore is booming – and the new-found energy of the place is palpable everywhere, as is its conspicuous wealth. Despite being geographically smaller than the Isle of Wight, Singapore has more millionaires per capita of its five million population than anywhere else on the planet. The World Economic Forum’s latest Global Competitiveness Report places Singapore second only to Switzerland, based largely on an entrepôt trade in which raw materials are imported, then refined for re-export. Despite having no oil, for instance, Singapore operates the third-largest oil refinery in the world. The fruits of all this are apparent in the landmark buildings that have sprung up since the late 1990s, strengthening Singapore’s brand identity, if you like, and attracting overseas visitors. One of the most grandiose is the Marina Bay Sands development, featuring the world’s most expensive casino, a vast shopping mall, a 2,561-room hotel, 14 fine-dining restaurants including Wolfgang Puck’s CUT, and the extraordinary

SkyPark, with its infinity pool the length of a football pitch plonked on top of the world’s largest public cantilevered platform, which straddles the three-tower contruction. Other architectural show-stoppers include the Supreme Court building (Foster and Partners’ near-transparent temple of glass atria, skylights and lift shafts, some parts of it clad in translucent Portuguese pink marble); the National Library (two 16-storey blocks linked by dramatic skybridges); and Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay (a waterfront complex with a curved glass roof studded with aluminium sunshades, which has drawn comparison with a durian, the thorny-skinned Asian fruit). Then there are the attention-grabbing world sporting events, notably the annual Singapore Grand Prix, held at night in the city’s streets and followed by a 10-day round of parties, music concerts, exhibitions and gourmet dinners. This, and such crowd-pullers as the World Gourmet Summit – a two-week gastronomic festival attracting Michelin-starred chefs from around the world – swelled tourist numbers to nearly 12 million in 2010, bringing in an estimated S$18.5 billion (£9.2 billion) in revenue. And with the burgeoning middle classes from India and China beginning to flex their tourist muscles, Singapore has been busily re-minting itself as a destination rather than a mere stopover. Mind you, it makes an agreeable stopover, too. Changi may once have been synonymous with a notorious Japanese prisoner of war camp, but nowadays it is claimed by many to be the finest airline terminal in the

Cosmopolis Clockwise, from top: the Tippling Club, Singapore’s hippest new restaurant; a chef at Tawandang Microbrewery, a Thai-German bar and restaurant; Louis Vuitton Island Maison; the Capella hotel, Sentosa Island; and the ‘durian fruit’ roof of Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay

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world. The icing on the cake is a Balinese-style swimming pool in the transit area of Terminal 1, where weary travellers can refresh themselves with a swim before continuing their long-haul journey. Some believe this rampant redevelopment has gouged out Singapore’s soul, replacing its rackety charms with anodyne efficiency, but there is no doubt that Singapore works. Standards of education are among the highest in the developed world, the various ethnic and racial groups (principally Chinese, Malay and assorted foreigners) co-exist in seeming harmony, the transport system runs like a dream, free Wi-Fi is available in all public spaces, there is virtually no crime, and as for Singapore’s health service — well, as one local said to me, “Tell your friends it’s the best place in the world in which to have a heart attack”. I arrived at Changi for a long weekend just as Singapore was about to stage its fourth Grand Prix – the ultimate civic status symbol, and one that cost the government millions of dollars to secure. Even before I had joined the queue at the airport taxi rank I had been given a taste of the legendary efficiency of the place. The concept of an enjoyable arrival at any international airport seemed implausible to my jaded sensibilities; yet the whole process, from disembarking the plane to climbing into my taxi, took a mere 15 minutes. Even the baggage carousel had fresh orchids in the middle of it – not that I had time to savour them, for as I approached my suitcase was already lumbering out on to the conveyor belt. On the way into town from the airport, my taxi driver, Chang, pointed out how the central reservation of the freeway could be removed within an hour should the road be needed as an emergency runway. “You see? This is the best place to live,” he concluded with disarming certainty. The Shangri-La hotel is typical of the sort of five-star hospitality on offer in this brave new world. Even at midnight, checking in was conducted in the comfort of my ninth-floor room – overlooking a magnificent floodlit swimming pool – rather than at the front desk. Despite the lateness of the hour, the restaurant rustled up a freshly prepared mee goreng (fried noodles) and a chilled Tiger beer with which to soothe my jet lag. The room itself was spacious, opulent and comfortable, offering everything from champagne to a “tropical rain” shower in the bathroom. Not that I would need it: Singapore is virtually on the equator and it rains at least every other day throughout the year. As an antidote to all this unbridled modernity, the next day I headed

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for Raffles hotel, acme of the old colonial centre and, despite the new generation of architectural interlopers, the city’s most famous landmark. Raffles trades on its old-fashioned charms, with marbled courtyards, plashing fountains and afternoon tea served by liveried staff. If you can ignore the gift shops and the piped Muzak, it is still just possible to imagine how it once must have been, with just you and the memsahib. Culturally, Singapore is an intriguing mixture of colonial, Malaysian and dazzlingly contemporary (its most sacred works are the Bible, the Koran, and Yellow Pages). My visit to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple proved an unforgettable experience. An oasis in the heart of bustling Chinatown (which itself is well worth a visit), this four-tiered, ancient-looking structure is in fact relatively modern. Such is its ornate splendour, you could be forgiven for thinking it far older. When I arrived, a Buddhist ceremony was under way, and the imposing central hall was filled with lines of kneeling locals, each clutching a tiny prayer book, while a phalanx of monks in orange and scarlet robes chanted their evening prayer.

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enerally, however, there is little left of old Singapore, though the area known as Joo Chiat offers a few precious remnants of how it must have looked before the high-rise developers moved in; elegant two-storey houses painted in greens and pinks. A Sunday-morning stroll round these sleepy streets offered a faint echo of an older, stiller city, concluding with a delicious bowl of katong laksa (shrimps, coconut milk, noodles, chilli and fresh lime) ordered at a street cafe. You can sample the same delicacy back at your hotel, of course, but you will be charged 10 times the price. Despite a marked absence of open spaces (Singapore is the second most densely populated state on earth), there is plenty for children to see and do. They will love the zoo (especially the family of orang-utans and the white tigers) and nearby Sentosa Island, a popular beauty spot where man-made beaches and a garish version of Universal Studios keep whole families occupied for an afternoon. More sedate by far is the Capella hotel, another Foster and Partners creation – an intriguing blend of the startlingly modern (glass domes, illuminated pools flanked by grey slate) and the reassuringly old (neo-Palladian cloisters and two restored British colonial bungalows from the 1880s) intermingling with the rainforest.

Bridge to Mammon The approach to Marina Bay Sands, with its shopping mall, casino, 2,561-room hotel and SkyPark – a vast platform straddling three monumental towers


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WHATâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;S HOT AND HAPPENING IN SINGAPORE April 2012 sees the opening of Gardens by the Bay, three waterfront gardens that will dwarf Kew in London and provide â&#x20AC;&#x153;green lungsâ&#x20AC;? for the city. Bay South, the size of 72 football pitches, will boast two domed conservatories (one of which, still under construction, is pictured below) showcasing flora from cooler climes. Among its features will be â&#x20AC;&#x153;supertreesâ&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x201C; tree-like structures up to 165ft high which harness solar energy, collect rainwater and serve as air intakes and exhausts as well as providing a habitat for ferns, vines, orchids and bromeliads. One even has a restaurant on top. gardensbythebay.org.sg Exclusivity is the draw at Restaurant AndrĂŠ, a townhouse with a small kitchen serving just a handful of guests. Already listed among the San Pellegrino Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Culinary shrines The White Rabbit (left), a quirky restaurant and bar converted from an old chapel; lanterns at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (above), an oasis in the heart of bustling Chinatown; and (below) bonsai-style cuisine at the Tippling Club

100 Best Restaurants, it is the brainchild of AndrĂŠ Chiang, billed as a culinary talent to watch by The New York Times, Wallpaper* and others. Dishes such as â&#x20AC;&#x153;Smoked pied bleu, giroles and Kyoto nasu [aubergine], baby young garlic, pigeon jusâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;SautĂŠe of daikon leaf, pine-berry, Cevenne onion pralinĂŠ and St Jacquesâ&#x20AC;? sum up the level of aspiration. restaurantandre.com Singaporeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new dynamism is epitomised by Loh Lik Peng, a 37-year-old lawyer turned hotelier who is transforming the city with a growing stable of funkier-than-thou boutique hotels. They include Hotel 29 and Wanderlust (his latest), and the multi-award-winning â&#x20AC;&#x153;beacon for the New Asiaâ&#x20AC;?, the New Majestic Hotel in Chinatown. Diners in its modern Cantonese restaurant can look up from their crispy wasabi prawn and

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Peking duck to see swimmers moving

reputation. In recent years a veritable mezze of international chefs has arrived to elevate further the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s east-meets-west culinary fusion. They include the latest pretender to the crown of Heston Blumenthal â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Ryan Clift, born in Devizes, Wiltshire, whose funky restaurant, the Tippling Club, has become the hippest place in town at which to meet for a bite to eat. Singapore has yet to garner its first Michelin star, but the most likely candidate is Ignatius Chan, whose elegant and unshowy restaurant, Iggyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, on the second floor of the Hilton hotel, was the first in the city to be listed among the San Pellegrino Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 50 Best Restaurants. My stop for lunch on my final morning was rewarded by a meeting with Iggy himself, a tubby, beneficent individual with a gentle voice and reassuring smile who in other circumstances might have done sterling work as the Dalai Lama. The set menu, which began with a glass of sparkling sake, consisted of five dishes, each more mouthwatering than the last. It culminated in a thin fillet of Blackmore Wagyu beef with pink garlic and wasabi that redefined the term â&#x20AC;&#x153;melt in the mouthâ&#x20AC;?. The service was gloriously unobtrusive, and the bill a mere ÂŁ40. As I waited in the foyer for my taxi back to the airport, I fell into conversation with an Englishman in his mid-sixties who revealed that he had once been an economic advisor to Tony Blair. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Will our savings be all right?â&#x20AC;? I asked, only half in jest. He took a long, lingering puff on his cigar, before murmuring â&#x20AC;&#x153;I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t know.â&#x20AC;? But if the look on his face was anything to go by, I can think of few better places on earth in which to enjoy yourself â&#x20AC;&#x201C; while you still can â&#x20AC;&#x201C; than sultry, swanky Singapore. Etihad Airways (020 3450 7300, etihadairways.com) has return fares from London to Singapore via Abu Dhabi from ÂŁ729 in economy class, ÂŁ2,415 in business class. The Shangri-La (0800 028 3337, shangri-la.com/singapore) has rooms from ÂŁ368. Further information: yoursingapore.com

about in the glass-bottomed pool above their heads. newmajestichotel.com The latest big attraction for shoppers is the new Louis Vuitton Island Maison which opened at Marina Bay Sands in September. The largest LV outlet in the world, the four-storey island has its own jetty and has been likened to both an ocean-going liner and a glass-covered jewel. Protective screens over the glass ensure leather goods inside are not degraded by sunlight. louisvuitton.com In the Dempsey area of Singapore, The White Rabbit has pretty much all the ingredients required by the discerning traveller. Housed in an artfully restored old chapel (thus ticking the architectural box), it has a restaurant serving comfort food with a twist, a bar where classic cocktail recipes are updated with contemporary zest â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and a witty and charming interactive website. thewhiterabbit.com.sg

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By way of contrast, the Singapore Flyer â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a larger-than-life replica of the London Eye â&#x20AC;&#x201C; offers sensational views across Singapore Bay and the Marina Bay complex, where the casino boasts 600 games tables and 2,300 slot machines. As someone who believes the best way to double his money is to fold it in half and put it back in his wallet, I was content to take a quick spin around the floor. Even on a Sunday afternoon, it was thronged with weekend trippers from China and Malaysia sitting slumped at fruit machines or staring glassily across blackjack tables. The government cannily deters local residents by demanding an entrance fee of S$100 (about ÂŁ50) a head; tourists get in free upon presentation of their passport. As evening fell, I took a taxi to the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most celebrated commercial thoroughfare, Orchard Road. A wide street shaded by elegant trees, it is fringed on both sides by glitzy shopping malls; floor upon dizzying floor linked by gleaming escalators, carrying the dedicated fashionista higher and higher into shopping oblivion. With the city gripped by Formula 1 fever, many malls had installed high-tech driving simulators, tenanted by excited teenagers staring at video screens as they negotiated their virtual way round the track. Orchard Road is the weekend meeting place for thousands of Far Eastern immigrants who service the hospitality industry, and tonight they sat on the steps of the malls exchanging chit-chat or lolling on public benches fashioned into gently-rocking swingboats. I bought an attap chee (palm fruit) ice cream from a street vendor and joined some Filipina housemaids who were watching an elderly man clad only in a dhoti and a gap-toothed grin swinging long ropes of wooden balls round his midriff. A laminated sign on the pavement claimed the protagonist had lost 15kg (more than two stone) in two years from his exertions. With the temperature still in the high 30s, I could well believe it. In its cuisine, at least, Singapore already has a prodigious


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RELIVING JAMAICA’S GOLDEN AGE

It was an era synonymous with glamour – the Fifties and Sixties, when Ian Fleming and Noël Coward built their houses GoldenEye and Firefly in this Caribbean idyll, and Marilyn Monroe, JFK and Jackie Kennedy jetted in. At hotels oozing old-world character, Adriaane Pielou finds intoxicating echoes of the past

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On the beach at GoldenEye (main picture), Ursula Andress cavorted with Sean Connery in Dr No (above left) and met Ian Fleming (inset top left, and above right). Centre: the gardens

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I FALL ASLEEP TO A SOUNDTRACK OF TREE FROGS, CRICKETS AND SLAPPING WAVES

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Everyone’s cup of tea The Field spa (above) on the lagoon at GoldenEye, in Oracabessa. Below: Noël Coward doing his bit for tourism, in an advertisement declaring ‘Come to Jamaica – it’s no place like home’

rriving in Jamaica not to the expected blue skies and sunshine but a violent, late-afternoon rainstorm, I find the heavens black and rain pelting. “They havin’ a bumpty ride!” cackles the elderly taxi driver as we leave Kingston’s international airport and head for the small Tinson Pen domestic aerodrome nearby, where I am booked on a small plane for the 15-minute flight to Ocho Rios, on the north coast. I follow the driver’s gaze upwards through the rain-lashed windscreen. Good grief. Overhead, a small plane coming in to land is so buffeted by the wind it has flipped over on its side, with one wing tip pointing at the ground. As we wait in the traffic, the decrepit taxi belching dark exhaust fumes, I watch tensely as the plane finally rights itself before bumping on to the runway. “Everyt’ing go well, thank the Lord,” says the driver, cheerfully. By the time I have struggled against the wind and rain into the little terminal, I am relieved to find that all domestic flights have been grounded (the pilots are looking quite crestfallen) and another taxi has been called, so I’ll be making the trip – a three-hour journey across the mountains – by road. Now all I’ve got to worry about is having to drive through Kingston. The murder count in Jamaica was 1,700 last year, and highest in Kingston. That, admittedly, was worse than usual because of the prolonged police shoot-out with kingpin drug

dealer “Dudus” Coke, but terrible for a country of three million. “They shoot each other left, right and centre in the bad part of Kingston,” says my suave new taxi driver, putting on some soothing Toots and the Maytals. “But the bad part just a small part and we only going through the good part!” The residential streets we drive through look entirely tranquil – almost manicured, in fact, with their lush gardens and low walls – and despite the “Beware of the Dog” signs, there are none of the Johannesburg-style barbed-wire defences I was expecting. Smart houses give way to dilapidated villages, then sugar-cane fields, then hilly jungle. Darkness falls and when we eventually pull up outside Villa Plantana, in the gardens of the old Royal Plantation hotel, I can hardly keep my eyes open. I just about register a graceful, large main room opening on to a terrace where candles flicker

in hurricane lamps set around a pool. The trees fringing the terrace are swaying as the wind rustles their leaves and I can hear waves crashing on rocks as I drift off. If there is one thing more luxurious than falling asleep to the sound of a stormy sea, it is waking up to a tropical morning. By 7am I have swum in the pool and am sitting on the terrace looking at a now limpid turquoise sea, listening to birdsong and crunching toast spread with the most delicious marmalade – Busha Browne’s, says the butler, made by a local company run by the enjoyably named Winston Stoner. The aroma of fresh coffee mingles with the scent of frangipani, and the warmth of the sun soon dries my swimsuit. Jamaica hasn’t taken long to begin to work its magic. The villa is separated from the hotel by a bridge over a gully shaded by trees that must be almost 100ft tall. After breakfast, I wander through beautifully cultivated gardens filled with hibiscus and hummingbirds into a cool world of mahogany floors and wicker chairs. The hotel opened in 1957, with Churchill one of its early guests, and – having picked up The Noël Coward Diaries to read on the plane – I am thrilled to discover that the old black Steinway in the drawing room is the very one Coward used to play when he brought house guests over for cocktails. Like his great friend Ian Fleming, who dreamt up James Bond in Jamaica, the playwright first visited the island from a bleak, blitzed-out London in the 1940s. Enchanted by its languorous beauty and sunny climate, Coward copied Fleming in building a house there, entertained everyone from Truman Capote and Frank Sinatra to Cecil Beaton and the Queen Mother, and did much to put Jamaica on the map as the ultimate glamorous holiday destination of the Fifties and Sixties. His house, Firefly – at Port Maria – is only a few miles away, so I take a trip there that afternoon. Firefly, on a hilltop with what must be one of the best views in the Caribbean, is owned by the Jamaican

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Good vintage Clockwise, from left: the bar at Round Hill; the view from the infinity pool at Strawberry Hill; Sean Connery with Fleming; and the bath at GoldenEye

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National Heritage Trust, but run by Island Outpost – the hotel group owned by Chris Blackwell, who launched Island Records and made Bob Marley a star. It appears just as Coward left it. There are his 78s on a turntable, his short-sleeved Hawaiian shirts and silk PJs in the wardrobe, his medicine bottles in the bathroom cabinet (I shut the door quickly) and a smell of mildew. I feel I have stepped back decades. “The table is set as it was when the Queen Mother came to lunch on February 28, 1965,” intones the caretaker, who worked for Coward. The author, who died in Jamaica in 1973, is buried in the garden and his presence is almost palpable. I am sorry to leave Villa Plantana, but arriving at Rio Chico – another of the big houses available for rent, where I am to spend the next two nights – I laugh out loud in delight. The sprawling sometime family home of Butch Stewart – the super-rich Jamaican who founded the Sandals hotel chain, ubiquitous throughout the Caribbean – it is an open-sided, six-bedroom house arranged on two storeys and set amid rolling lawns on a headland near where the Dunn’s River waterfall spills into the sea. Beyond the pool, in a shallow stream, a table has been set up in the water for lunch. Total heaven. Later, behind the house, I find steps leading down to a little cove where a swing chair shaded by low-hanging trees makes a spot perfect for reading and lazing, feet in the warm sea. At 5pm, my reverie is interrupted by the butler. “Apologies for the intrusion, but would you like dinner served in the Italian garden, or on the beach, or on the cliff terrace?” asks the hyper-courteous Rocky. Well, there’s a question. What a brilliant place this house must be for parties. But there’s no time to ponder that; I have places to go, people to see. From Ocho Rios, past Mick Jagger’s house, it is a two-hour drive along the north coast to Montego Bay. The driver-guide points out the intelligence of the goats that graze on every roadside, staring at the traffic as if waiting for a bus (“So smart – you don’t never see one squashed out dead flat at the side of the road, do you now?”), and enumerates popular local sayings for me. “Most def”, “too blessed to be stressed” and “if it ain’t so, it nearly so!” are my favourites. Used to the much smaller Barbados, St Lucia and St Thomas, I am surprised at how long it takes to get anywhere in Jamaica (145 miles long by 50 wide). Eventually, though, we pass through the stonepineapple-topped gates marking the entrance to Round Hill, built in 1953 on a former coconut plantation (with Noël Coward among the original investors), and the old, grand Jamaica once again becomes evident. Clipped lawns dot hillsides strung with red-roofed villas half-hidden behind billowing bougainvillea. In the reception, with its chequered floor and old-fashioned board where guests hang their keys, an elderly concierge takes my case; he could be the brother of the pianist in Casablanca. Kingsley, as he is called, steers the golf cart up the hill and recites the names of guests he has met in his 38 years here. “Many but not all I found most impressive,” he says sonorously, putting the key in the door of my cottage. At any other time I would be pressing him for details, but instead I am just relishing the shabby-chic all-white interior and marvelling at the view. No wonder Ralph Lauren has a villa here. “Mr Lauren isn’t here now, but in winter, he come most every weekend,” says Kingsley, tottering off. Half an hour later, in a little wooden pavilion


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CLASSIC JAMAICA: A LANGUID TRIP THROUGH TIME Getting there

Staying there

Fleming house costs ÂŁ3,510 per

the sunsets. Look out, too, for

British Airways (0844 493

The three-bedroom Villa

night, with breakfast. Doubles at

anywhere the Jolly Boys are

0787, ba.com) has flights from

Plantana (0800 0223 773,

the 55-room Jamaica Inn

playing â&#x20AC;&#x201C; they are Jamaicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Gatwick to Kingston from ÂŁ654

uniquevillasofjamaica.co.uk) at

(00 1 876 974 2514, jamaicainn.

equivalent of the Buena Vista

return, and from Gatwick to

the Royal Plantation hotel is

com) cost from US$299 (ÂŁ191),

Social Club geriatrics, and fun.

Montego Bay from ÂŁ649 return.

available for US$3,740 (ÂŁ2,372)

room only; and at the 12-room

Further information

Both Jamaican airports have

per night. Seven nights at the

Strawberry Hill (01895 422

Jamaica Day by Day (Frommerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s,

new business-class lounges.

six-bedroom Rio Chico costs

476, islandoutpost.com) from

ÂŁ8.99) gives useful advice on the

Getting around

from ÂŁ3,068 per person, details

US$235 (ÂŁ150).

islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s attractions, from

You can of course hire a car and

as above. Staying at the 27-villa,

Where to eat

plantation-house museums,

drive yourself between hotels,

36-beach-suite Round Hill (001

Most visitors eat at their hotel or

botanical gardens and

but off the motorways the

876 956 7050, roundhill.com)

villa and the proliferation of

birdwatching tours to

hairpin bends can be unnerving.

costs from US$349 (ÂŁ221) per

all-inclusive hotels has, sadly,

raft-punting on the Rio

More relaxing and fun is to ask

night, room only; and BA

discouraged local restaurants.

Grande (popularised by Errol

the hotel to recommend a taxi

Holidays (0844 493 0758, ba.

However, there are lively little

Flynn) and Rainforest Bobsled.

and driver-guide. Jamaica Air

com) is offering seven nights at

beach shacks to go to for fresh

The tourist office website,

Shuttle (00 1 876 923 0371,

Round Hill from ÂŁ1,339 per

fish, spicy jerk chicken and

visitjamaica.com, is also helpful.

jamaicaairshuttle.com) operates

person, room only, including

super-sweet puddings. The best

To lull yourself back into the

domestic flights on 14-seater

return flights with British

include Jack Sprat on Treasure

Fifties and Sixties, read Ian

prop-jets, flying from Kingston to

Airways. Staying at GoldenEye

Beach, a little fishing village near

Fleming by Andrew Lycett; one

Ian Fleming airport at Ocho Rios,

(01895 422 476, goldeneye.com)

GoldenEye; The Groovy

of the Bond novels set in

Montego Bay and other airports

costs from ÂŁ340 for two, with

Grouper in Montego Bay; and

Jamaica, such as Dr No; and

dotted around this large island.

breakfast; the five-bedroom

Rickâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s CafĂŠ on Negril Beach for

The NoĂŤl Coward Diaries.

I CHOOSE A JET-SKI AND BUZZ OUT INTO THE BAY AT A RECKLESS 25MPH

Jet set Music mogul Chris Blackwell at GoldenEye, which he owns

MAP STUART KOLAKOVIC; COOKIE KINKEAD; ALAMY; GETTY; CORBIS; ROBERT HARDING

housing a library, yards from the beach, I open a slightly mildewy biography of Ian Fleming and, after days of blue skies and sunshine, feel glad rain has started to patter again, giving me an excuse to read. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Afternoon tea now on the terrace,â&#x20AC;? says the Austrian manager, Josef Forstmayr, and soon I am settling into a wicker armchair by a potted palm with a pile of books and plate of cakes, relishing the tropical downpour. In the bar, with its overhead fans and gleaming mahogany chairs, the walls are hung with black-and-white photographs. Tanned faces grin out from half a century ago â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Grace Kelly, Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Alfred Hitchcock, Charlie Chaplin, Jackie Kennedy and JFKâ&#x20AC;Ś I canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t help grinning back. Dinner is so-so; breakfast, as ever on this island, perfect. En route back to Ocho Rios, I make a detour to see Jamaica Inn â&#x20AC;&#x201C; opened in 1950, with blue-and-white painted cottages strung along a white-sand beach, the place where Marilyn Monroe honeymooned with Arthur Miller â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and then itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s on to the grand finale. Arriving at GoldenEye, in Oracabessa, at dusk, is like stepping on to a glamorous film set when all the actors have gone home. A wooden bridge links the new development of 17 beach and lagoon-edge villas, opened in 2010, with the cliff fringing the headland that obscures the original GoldenEye â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Ian Flemingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s house, which Chris Blackwell bought in 1976. (Fleming had recommended a teenage Blackwell as location scout when Dr No was filmed here.) I check into one of the beach villas, a high-ceilinged wooden house right on the beach. There is a pale-blue Smeg fridge in the kitchen, a high bed draped in a mosquito net, and a bathroom â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with clawfoot bath â&#x20AC;&#x201C; opening on to a second, outdoor, bathroom with a shower under an almond tree (unnervingly overlooked by the adjacent villa). My dinner of grilled fish and salsa is light and full of flavour, prepared by local chef Conroy Arnold, who learnt to cook as a barefoot boy at his grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s side, then went to New York and ended up at Nobu. Next morning he explains the GoldenEye ethos: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Mr Blackwell wants us to use organic local ingredients wherever possible, support the local fishermen and farmers, involve local people as much as possible, not like the 1,000-bed hotels that import everything from Miami.â&#x20AC;? Breakfast is served in the sunshine at the breezy Bizot Bar beach restaurant â&#x20AC;&#x201C; muesli with chopped guava, then the dense, delicious, toasted Jamaican hard-dough bread with Winston Stonerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s insanely divine double-boiled guava jelly. Tapes from the 1970s French Riviera radio station Radio Nova play in the background. So cool. Later, at the watersports centre, I choose a jet-ski and buzz out into the bay at a reckless 25mph. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you go at 110mph, they leap about 30ft, which is quite fun,â&#x20AC;? says Nick Simmonds, the South African general manager. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Chris Blackwell jet-skis as a workout.â&#x20AC;? In the somnolence of mid-afternoon, I have a massage in the shady, half-open-air spa, then afterwards move into GoldenEye itself. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a shame someone has seen fit to erect a totem pole and a giant portrait of Bob Marley in the elegant old drawing room, but the desks Fleming typed at still stand there and in the main bedroom. While the large, jolly housekeeper who as a girl worked for â&#x20AC;&#x153;Commander Fleming himself, oh yes!â&#x20AC;? busies herself inside, I retreat to the private beach with a Ting (the Jamaican soft drink that has become a rival to Busha Browneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in my affections) to read Casino Royale, the first of Flemingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 13 Bonds, which he wrote at the desk in the bedroom. At dusk, I wander back to find hurricane lamps lit and the table in the sunken garden set for dinner. Later, in Flemingâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bedroom, I fall asleep to a now familiar soundtrack of tree frogs, crickets and slapping waves. At 6.30am on my last day, I am lying in an outdoor roll-top bath under an almond tree in the big, shady garden bathroom, finishing the Bond, with a coffee cup balanced on the edge of the bath. The temperature is

delicious, in the bath and out. I feel utterly in love with the world. This â&#x20AC;&#x201C; right here in this bath â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is my nomination for the most idyllic spot in the Caribbean. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Maâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;am, do you have family in Jamaica?â&#x20AC;? asks the portly, middle-aged Jamaican squeezed into his booth at passport control at Kingston airport. (I arrive after a hair-raising detour to see yet another atmospheric old hotel, Strawberry Hill, 3,100ft above Kingston in the Blue Mountains and reached via one hairpin bend after another). Taken aback, I tell him I donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You care to consider adopting me?â&#x20AC;? he asks, as he hands my passport back, flashing a gold-toothed smile. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I no trouble and I good about the house.â&#x20AC;? Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the first time I have ever gone through airport security laughing. On the flight home, I reflect on how depressing it has been to see so much poverty, despite the evidence of wealth and investment: the new cruise-ship port at Falmouth will service 6,000-passenger mega-ships, while zip-wire circuits and bobsled rides are among Jamaicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new attractions. But it has been intoxicating to discover that the ferociously lush and lovely island Coward and Fleming wrote about so seductively still exists. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;peace and silence and cut-offnessâ&#x20AC;? and the â&#x20AC;&#x153;gorgeous vacuum of a Jamaican holidayâ&#x20AC;? that Fleming loved is there and waiting. It is a thrill to luxuriate in the hotels they knew, oozing old-world atmosphere and character. But it is also reassuring to know that, for all their languid glamour and laid-back charm, the hotels (as the GoldenEye manager let slip) bristle with closely monitored security cameras.


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Non-stop pleasure: visit the Mÿ So’n temples, above; exotic Ho Chi Minh City, right; and gorgeous beaches, below

Vietnam take

flight to

New direct services to this entrancing country make getting there so easy Ancient temples and exotic citadels, sublime mountains and wild beaches – not to mention friendly people and low prices: little wonder Vietnam tops the holiday wish-list of so many savvy travellers. Until now, though, enjoying the delights of Vietnam has been less simple than it could be, with UK travellers forced to connect in a European or Asian hub. From December 9 that’s set to change. Vietnam Airlines is launching the first-ever direct flights to Vietnam from the UK – so if you want to visit Asia’s most exciting destination, there’s no reason to wait. Book now with Vietnam Airlines and you will be able to fly direct from London Gatwick’s North Terminal to either of Vietnam’s two major cities, Hanoi and Hoi Chi Minh City. There are two flights to each city every week. It makes flying to Vietnam more convenient, avoids tiring transfers – and vastly reduces journey times for UK travellers. The routes are served by the very latest Boeing 777 jets and you can choose to fly in Economy, Economy Deluxe or Business Class, with seatback entertainment systems in each cabin. Vietnam is a land of stunning beauty and ancient culture that’s been opening up to overseas tourism while maintaining its traditional charm. Fly direct to Hanoi, in the north of the country, and you could soon be exploring the city’s Old Quarter, visiting a water puppet theatre show –

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then travelling to the dramatic rock formations which rise out of Ha Long Bay or trekking from the old colonial hill station of Sapa. Or fly direct to Ho Chi Minh City, in the south, and you can visit Reunification Palace – the former South Vietnam presidential palace – and relax on the sandy beaches of Nha Trang or tour the Mekong Delta. What’s more, there’s no need to have to choose between the two regions. Vietnam is a long, slender country, so it makes real sense to book an “open jaw” itinerary, meaning you start your Vietnam journey at either Ho Chi Minh City or Hanoi and depart from the other end – and enjoy the trip of a lifetime as you travel in between. So you could take in the Mÿ So’n valley in central Vietnam, site of temples built by the ancient kingdom of Champa which ruled here a millennium ago, and see the gates of the imperial citadel at Huê, where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled until as late as 1945. Whatever you choose, Vietnam Airlines’ convenient scheduling means there’ll be an overnight flight to and from the UK, with smooth onward connections to 23 destinations not only within Vietnam but also to other parts of Asia, such as Laos, Cambodia or Myanmar. So Vietnam isn’t only your next destination – it’s also your new gateway to Asia.

To book a direct flight to Vietnam that’s more convenient than ever, visit www.vietnamairlines.com or call 020 3263 2062


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DIRECTORY

EDITED BY LISA GRAINGER

GETTY

In Thesiger’s footsteps (below, left to right) Saeed Al Mesafry, Adrian Hayes and Ghafan Al Jabry

JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF EMPTINESS

W

hile you’re reading this, feet up and coffee in hand, think of British traveller Adrian Hayes (centre, right), who is in the throes of one of the world’s greatest desert journeys. The British explorer set off in late October across the great Empty Quarter on the Arabian Peninsula to follow in the footsteps of Sir Wilfred Thesiger, who crossed this immense expanse of sand, travelling with Bedouin, in the 1940s. Hayes, who set off from Salalah in Oman, hopes to follow faithfully Thesiger’s route

on foot, staying in the same villages, wearing Bedouin robes, leather sandals and sword, and eating only dates and unleavened bread, with two men from the United Arab Emirates – Saeed Al Mesafry and Ghafan Al Jabry – and six camels. If Hayes can survive the high temperatures – often above 40C – and the 930-mile walk through sand, it will be another personal first. In 2007, he set a Guinness World Record for walking to the North Pole, the South Pole and the summit of Mount Everest, and in 2009 set another by crossing Greenland. This desert journey, he says, is more personal. Like Thesiger, known after his journey as Mubarak Bin London (Blessed one of London), Hayes is a former officer in the Gurkhas, speaks Arabic and currently serves in the UAE armed forces. He hopes to reach Liwa – an oasis in Abu Dhabi – on the UAE’s National Day, December 2, and his final destination a week later. The great expanses he faces fill him with some trepidation – and enormous excitement. “For me, doing these sorts of journeys is the greatest luxury you can have,” he says. “The icecaps, the mountains, the deserts – they are the earth at its most beautiful, its most untouched, where man hasn’t yet interfered.” Is he taking any little luxuries to make the journey easier? “No. The joy of these trips is going native, eating whatever is available, and living with the help of the Bedouin people. We’ll have a canvas to protect us from the worst sun and wind, but our beds will be the sand, our GPS the stars.” More information on Hayes’ journey can be found at adrianhayes.com. Thomas Cook Signature (0844 871 6650, thomascooksignature.com) is offering a four-night holiday in Abu Dhabi, staying at the five-star Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara on Sir Bani Yas island, from £1,179 per person. The price includes return flights from London with Etihad Airways, airport transfers, and bed and beakfast. Desert walks into the Empty Quarter can be arranged.

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DIRECTORY HEATHROW, IN ROYAL STYLE

T

here are few times when ordinary mortals have the chance to experience what life

CHIC CHALETS

might be like as the Queen. Enjoying the new Heathrow By Invitation VIP service is one of

A

t last chalet owners are learning

them. Formerly reserved for royalty and

that we want interiors as stunning

dignitaries, the private lounge of Terminal 5

as the mountain scenery â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and luxurious

was opened up this summer to allow the rank

extras, too. This season sees the launch

and file of (wealthy) travellers the same

in Portes du Soleil of Maison Blanche

pleasurable experience as their leaders.

& Verte (maisonblancheetverte.com); in Verbier, of Chalet Tortin and Chalet

The lounge has its own entrance, discreetly

Mont Fort; and in Val dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Isère, Aspen

situated in a corner of the arrivals hall. There,

Lodge Penthouse Suite (vip-chalets. com). Spa lovers will enjoy the facilities at the new 70-room Nira Alpina near St Moritz (niraalpina.com), part of the Design Hotels group; singles or couples

THE PLACE TO PARK

will appreciate Scott Dunnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first luxury

T

here is something thrilling about walking into a five-star hotel in Mayfair and, instead of spotting

chalet for sharers, Ski Boutique

dowagers scoffing pink cakes to the sound of a tinkling piano, encountering a scene that is classy,

Zermatt (scottdunn.com/skiboutique),

contemporary and (dare we say it in the context of luxury?) fun. At 45 Park Lane, fashionably-attired

complete with private gourmet chef; and real gourmands will want to decamp to

might expect of a Dorchester Collection hotel, the 45 suites are extremely luxurious (even if brown and

Le Chalet (lechaletzannier.com) in

cream carpets arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t to everyoneâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s taste). Bathrooms are lined in Ambarino marble, desks leather-lined,

Megève, where chef Julien Burlat

clubby armchairs upholstered in strokable fabrics, and views over Hyde Park dreamy. Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a snug little bar

concocts elegant dinners using the

with soft-as-a-baby leather banquettes, a media room with cosseting club chairs, and an equally inviting

finest ingredients. Those whose idea

library made for romance. Best of all is Austrian chef Wolfgang Puckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first British restaurant, CUT. On the

of fun is mixing mountain highs and

Friday night when we ate there, it was awash with glamour: Joan Collins sipping cocktails; a bevy of

high society might want to book The

aristocratic beauties nibbling starters; an Indian family celebrating a wedding â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and us, tucking into the best

Alpina Gstaad: the resortâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s first new

steak in London and fine wine with a price tag to match. And thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the catch: the cost of the extras over

five-star hotel for 100 years, with cigar

each privileged passenger (or group of up to

and above the price of a room â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the half-bottle of red wine in the minibar (ÂŁ65); bubble bath that has

rooms and ballrooms, and chalets for

six) is ushered into a private suite, stylishly

to be ordered (ÂŁ20); a cup of tea (Nespresso coffee is complimentary, but there is no sign of a teabag).

those who prefer privacy to gluwein

furnished with designer pieces and original

From ÂŁ395 double to ÂŁ6,590 for the two-bedroom penthouse â&#x20AC;&#x201C; plus extras. dorchestercollection.com

and glitz (thealpinagstaad.ch).

ILLUSTRATIONS: ROBERT SHADBOLT

women are there to greet you as laughter pours through the louvred walls of the bar upstairs. As one

British artwork, while a dedicated security official takes tickets and luggage away,

Travel by numbers

returning with boarding passes. Just before take-off, and after a swift security check, a

No wonder Whistler is on a high.

limousine whisks guests through the airportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

Not only does the Canadian resort have

underground tunnels (a thrill in itself) and

51 feet of snow annually, 200 downhill

delivers them straight to the aircraft door. If

trails, 10,000 bedrooms, more than

passengers want to be seated before anyone

100 restaurants, 200 shops, 25 spas and

else, this can be arranged; arriving last is fun,

only 9,000 permanent residents, but can

too, walking casually on to the plane when everyone else is seated, without having to endure the scrums of normal embarkation. On arrival back at Heathrow, the service

offer 12 nights in November from ÂŁ799, with

I LIKE MINE RARE

Canadian Affair (canadianaffair.com).

Explorations in Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s distinguished

So, better than Andorra, then.

works in reverse â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as I discovered when

St Jamesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s have unearthed a glorious new

I gave it a try. Having been collected from the

destination for travellers: Daniel Crouch Rare Books,

aircraft door, transferred by 7-Series BMW to

stocked with some of the most covetable travelogues and maps

a comfortable suite, and had fresh coffee and

on earth. Not only are the books themselves rich in historical detail, exotic

my luggage delivered to me, I can vouch that

tales and drawings, but their bindings are works of art in themselves.

the service makes air travel considerably more

Treasures range from a first-edition set of journals recording Captain Cookâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

pleasurable. Sadly, given that it costs ÂŁ1,800

three voyages to the first complete chart of the Australian continent.

each way, it will probably be the only time I am

Prices range from ÂŁ1,000 to ÂŁ750,000 for one of the first maps ever printed:

treated like royalty â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll keep packing my

in 1475 (4 Bury Street, London W1; 020 7042 0240, crouchrarebooks.com).

tiara, in hope. heathrowbyinvitation.com

BAGS OF STYLE

If the rest of Kuoniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s new

collection with luxury leather label Van Astyn is as covetable as its first piece, bring it on. The bag (below) â&#x20AC;&#x201C; fashioned from the finest Barenia calfskin, with handy side pockets, and made in a limited edition of 20 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; is available for â&#x201A;Ź1,890 (ÂŁ1,643) at Colette in Paris (colette.fr) or can be delivered worldwide by the Kuoni Concierge (00 41 58 702 6555).

BONING UP ON MY HOLIDAYS

W

eâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;re au fait with ski butlers, luxury travel concierges and yacht brokers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but pooch pamperers who arrange doggy days out?

Chien Bleu, recognising what it says is a gap in the market, has just launched in London, offering a bespoke UK travel service for both two-legged lovers of luxury and their four-legged friends. Extras might include goose-down dogbeds, Cumberland sausages on arrival and a dayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s â&#x20AC;&#x153;dog safariâ&#x20AC;? in Scotland (a Jeep trip, followed by walkies in the heather). A marvellous idea? Woof! chienbleutravel.com

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U L TR A BI Z AR R E

BRINGING THE PAGE TO LIFE

All that’s weird and wonderful in the world of travel

It’s worth going all the way

SIMPLY ESSENTIAL

to the Gallery Hotel Art

For those who who find Sandy Lane in Barbados

in Florence this winter to

a little cramped, eight vast condominiums have

see the entrancing paper

been built nearby with “essentials” such as electric

sculptures by Su Blackwell.

curtains, hot water within three seconds and

The British artist constructs

(obviously) a telephone by the bath. All for

works of art from old books,

$23 million (£14.3 million). onesandylane.com

bringing a third dimension

BOOGIE AND BUBBLES

to forgotten tales.

The new Per Aquum in the

Abercrombie & Kent (0845

Maldives promises a world first:

618 2213, abercrombiekent.

a nightclub submerged in the

co.uk), is offering three

sea. Snorkels are unnecessary,

nights’ b&b at the hotel,

but given that one gets there

with flights, from £695 per

by boat, a sou’wester may be

person until December 15.

the new clubbing accessory. peraquum.com PANTS IDEA Designer Nichole de Carle has created underwear accessorised with a diamond charm that, handily, “can be detached and kept safe when required”. One more thing to add to the hotel safe, then: camera, phone, passport, ticket and, er, knickers.

TRUNK SHOW-OFF Yes, we know it’s utterly decadent – but the Pinel & Pinel Pic Nic Trunk, carved from wood and lined in fine leather (with a choice of 51 colours), is so beautifully designed that it has to be celebrated. Besides, what other piece of luggage comes with such OTT accessories as caviar spoons, hand-carved chopsticks, crystal glasses and cutlery cosseted in fine calfskin cases? For those less inclined to spend €38,000 (£33,000) on a picnic set for the boot of their Bentley or the deck of their superyacht, the travelling iCase – a dock with speakers – costs €3,000 and fits inside an average suitcase. Pinel & Pinel, 22 Rue Royale, Paris (00 33 1 42 60 58 39, pineletpinel.com).

RECIPES FOR TRAVELLING PLEASURE Part journal, part travel memoir

Traditional Shops and

Lovers of extraordinary

and part cookbook, Christine

Restaurants of London:

architecture might like to pack

Manfield’s Tasting India (Conran

A Guide to Century-old

the new travel edition of the

Octopus, £40) is written in a way

Establishments and New

Atlas of 21st-century World

that magically captures the spirit,

Classics (Frances Lincoln, £9.99),

Architecture (Phaidon, £14.95)

colour and energy of India. The

filled with charming

into their hand-luggage. The

tome collates some of the

descriptions and

square little

country’s best-loved recipes from

images of old British

treasure offers

sources as diverse as monks and

establishments, from

photographs and

Bollywood actors, ranging from

markets and button

descriptions of

basic barbecued kebabs to halva

emporiums to

1,037 of the most

made from a hundred egg yolks.

original pubs; and

extraordinary

It’s a real Indian feast of a book.

Quiet London (details

Two smaller guides

from tiny tea houses in Japan to

recommended for explorers who

capital’s loveliest

Beijing’s Foster-designed airport,

enjoy venturing into lesser-

squares, libraries and secret

as well as maps, websites

known parts of a city include

spaces in which to reflect.

and addresses.

NEW BRITISH BOUTIQUE

A REAL PEARL

J

OLD SWAN AND MINSTER MILL The Cotswolds, Oxfordshire

same pale blues and greens as the sea, and menus featuring fresh seafood. Rooms cost from R1,950 (£153) per person,

with all the warm comforts and hearty food we need after a winter walk in the English countryside.

half-board, until December 2012. Tempting, too, are its

Where is it? At the entrance to the picture-perfect Cotwolds village of Minster Lovell, overlooking

helicopter transfers from Maputo, from R3,000 each way.

the flood plains of the River Windrush. It is spread across two buildings: a 15th-century coaching inn with 16 period rooms and the 18th-century Minster Mill, backed by 40 low-level modern rooms. The look The new owners of this historical property, the de Savarys, have spent a great deal turning the eclectic site into a resort. High-quality landscaping and friendly signage link the vegetable garden

to one of the hotel’s well-designed dog walks. Downside Throughout the 60 acres of grounds, it is difficult to avoid the distant drone of the A40. Best room for dogs Number 138, by the river, or 147, which has its own glass conservatory. Top tips Take dinner in front of the log fire in the Old Swan’s snug (right) rather than in its formal restaurant; collect your own eggs for breakfast from the hotel’s rescued battery hens. The details Old Minster, Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxfordshire (01993 774441, oldswanandminster mill.com). Doubles from £165 b&b. Johnny Morris

Resort’s Ponta Mamoli, just 15 miles from the South

beach and vast reefs, has delectable suites decorated in the

encourages him with open access and pet treats. Humans are not forgotten either, being provided

Boutique bonus The nearby ruins of Minster Lovell Hall provide a fascinating conclusion

ust opened on the Mozambique coast is White Pearl

African border. The 22-villa hotel overlooks a mile of creamy

Why is it special? This is a dog-friendly hotel that doesn’t just tolerate man’s best friend but actively

with the pub restaurant and in turn the glass conservatories and the fishing facilities.

buildings in the world,

as above), a compilation of the

whitepearlresorts.com

GLOBAL GOODIES Adventurers Dana Alikhani and Tatiana Santo Domingo have put their wanderings to good use, sourcing products as they travel and selling them for small communities. Most covetable of their wares, on sale at London’s Mo Café (momoresto.com) and muzungusisters.com, are ikat sarongs from Java, belts from Argentina, bags woven by the Colombian Wayuu tribe, and these Moroccan boots (£150). Yes, please, Santa.

NEW FOR 2012: PALACIO NAZARENAS, AN OLD CUZCO CONVENT UPDATED WITH 21ST-CENTURY GIZMOS (ORIENT-EXPRESS.COM)... ARIARA, A TROPICAL 125-ACRE PRIVATE ISLAND

IN THE PHILIPPINES (ARIARAISLAND.COM)... PALAIS NAMASKAR IN MARRAK

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NEW BROCHURE NOW AVAILABLE â&#x20AC;&#x201C; BOOK BEFORE 31 JANUARY 2012 AND SAVE UP TO ÂŁ400 PER PERSON

FAVOURITE CRUISE SMALL

LINE NOBLE CALE DONIA

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06,VODQG6N\ The MS Island Sky is one of the ďŹ nest small ships in the world. With a maximum passenger capacity of only 114, a vessel of her size is capable of carrying many more but instead she has the beneďŹ t of unusually large suites, luxuriously appointed public areas and spacious outside decks. All cabins are in fact suites with a sitting room area and some have a private balcony. Each suite affords considerable comfort with good outside views, an en-suite bathroom and excellent storage. The spacious and ďŹ nely decorated public rooms include a lounge, elegant bar, library and a single seating dining room. Outside there is a rear sun deck where meals are served in warm weather under shade, a bar and comfortable deck furniture. On the top deck there is a Jacuzzi, further observation and sun deck.

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After exploring the remote, but beautiful Cape Verde Islands we head for the continent of Africa and begin our voyage along the Atlantic coast from Senegal to Ghana. The countries we visit are without doubt some of the most captivating places on earth.

Africa captures the imagination like no other continent. Join us for this remarkable voyage along the coast of West Africa as we explore the fascinating histories of Ghana and Benin, the stunning natural beauty of Sao Tome and Principe and the vast deserts of Namibia before arriving in Cape Town.

Those who have a passion for the wilder places on our planet usually have Patagonia on their must do list. During this voyage, we spend three days exploring the isolated Falkland Islands before voyaging to the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park and the Chilean Fjords. On disembarking in Puerto Montt, we explore San Carlos de Bariloche and visit Buenos Aires in Argentina.

18 days from ÂŁ7995 SPECIAL OFFER ÂŁ7595

21 days from ÂŁ7295 SPECIAL OFFER ÂŁ6995

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13 days from ÂŁ5895 SPECIAL OFFER ÂŁ5595

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$3DFLĂ&#x20AC;F&RDVWDO2G\VVH\RI&KLOH 3HUX Our coastal cruise along the PaciďŹ c shores of South America will be dominated by the ever present Andes as we make our way from central Chile to Peru. This is one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great expedition cruises. From the towering snowcapped Andes to barren coastal desert, the landscapes are unparalleled. Topping and tailing our cruise will be visits to Buenos Aires and Lima.

22 days from ÂŁ7795 SPECIAL OFFER ÂŁ7495

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Our journey along South and Central Americaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s PaciďŹ c coastline will begin in Callao. From here we sail north along the coast of Peru visiting Trujillo, famous for its Spanish Colonial architecture and Chan Chan, a pre-Colombian site and the largest adobe city in the world.

16 days from ÂŁ6895 SPECIAL OFFER ÂŁ6595

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The atmosphere on board is more akin to a private yacht or country hotel. A little music in the lounge or bar after dinner, guest speakers, informative port brieďŹ ngs from our cruise director and of course good food which may be enjoyed leisurely in the attractive dining room. After a day ashore you will return to the comfort and peace of a well run and exceedingly comfortable ship.

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We set sail from the PaciďŹ c, through the Panama Canal into the Caribbean Sea for a cruise along the coast and to the islands of Costa Rica, Panama, Venezuela and the Grenadines. We also touch the South American mainland with a call at Cartagena, a wonderfully charismatic port.

16 days from ÂŁ6495 SPECIAL OFFER ÂŁ6195

Prices quoted are per person based on double occupancy and include economy class scheduled return air travel from London, hotel accommodation (duration and basis dependent on itinerary chosen), accommodation aboard the MS Island Sky on full board basis with house wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard, expedition team, shore excursions and gratuities. NB Travel Insurance and Visas not included. Our current booking conditions apply to all reservations and are available on request.

Call us today on 020 7752 0000 for your copy of our brochure. Alternatively view or request online at www.noble-caledonia.co.uk

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‘If you saw my bags you would die; they are horrible – apart from my Louis Vuitton wheelie’

G

eorgina Chapman, 35, is

a British-born, New York-based fashion designer whose elegant gowns are worn by stars ranging from Sandra Bullock and Sarah Jessica Parker to Beyoncé. She and her film producer husband, Harvey Weinstein, 59, split their time between Los Angeles and New York, where Chapman runs the successful Marchesa fashion label co-founded in 2004 with her friend Keren Craig, who studied with her at Chelsea College of Art. Although she now frequently flies first class, the former model’s favourite travels were backpacking in Asia at 19. How often do you travel? At least once every four weeks – and in the past few months to Cannes, London, Toronto, Nashville and St Barts, where we stayed on a friend’s boat. Your idea of a dream holiday? Somewhere exotic. Belize suits me because I’m Thailand, and I have dived in Vietnam, which wasn’t great, the Red Sea, which was incredible and reasonably priced, and then the Maldives, which is like being submerged in an aquarium.

ADAM WHITEHEAD

active and I like diving. I learnt when I was 18, in

TRAVELLING LIFE Georgina Chapman The fashion designer on her favourite LA haunts, the best jetlag remedy, and swimming with pigs in the Bahamas

Your most memorable activity holidays?

Best cities for a quick break?

West 4th for brunch: San Ambroeus or Extra Virgin

my family live, we stay at a small riverside

Trekking. I have been to Nepal, where I did the

Exotic ones like Essaouira, and Indian cities in

or The Spotted Pig. For dinner, if you’re going

guesthouse called the Bingham. We also just

Annapurna Circuit, and also to Peru; I went with

Rajasthan, like Jaipur. The Indians have such

glam, I’d recommend The Monkey Bar; or if you

stayed at the new London Syon Park hotel,

my mum to the Andes, where there were some

strong traditions and aesthetics, and the people

want a full-on gourmet experience, Per Se.

where the service, grounds and food are amazing;

beautiful walks up to an amazing monastery, and

are beautiful, as are their goods. I bought a lot of

Places you’d recommend in LA?

they even have a little zoo for the kids.

a gorgeous old Orient-Express train. We set up

jewellery, and saris that I made into cushions.

For restaurants, Cecconi’s, Cipriani, and a great

Great hotels in New York?

camp at night in a really rural place; there wasn’t

Do safaris appeal?

place called Georgio’s, in Santa Monica. For

When we were renovating our place, we moved

a village for miles. It felt so lovely to get away from

Love them. I went camping in the Maasai Mara

drinks, dinner and people-watching, we’ll often

into The Lowell, which is very pretty and intimate

western civilisation, especially given that I live in

and we moved site every night. I had no idea how

go to the Chateau Marmont; and for a spa

and has no big lobby, so you’re not bumping into

New York. Having said that, I’m always pleased to

spectacular it would be, how removed from

treatment, I head to the Montage in Beverly Hills.

people all the time.

get back and have an iced drink and a hot bath.

ordinary life, or how many animals we would

Do you travel light?

Clothing you always take on your travels?

Do you ever go camping?

see. When the plane landed on a dirt strip, we

I wish. For Cannes [film festival], I have to take

My own simple cocktail and day dresses,

Not now. I did when I was young. At 19 I went

were surrounded by giraffe and zebra. And

a lot of dresses. Then we go to London – so I need

a fabulous Givenchy jacket, a little leather jacket

with Keren, my best friend, to Nepal, staying in

when we stopped for wine, we realised there

different ones for there. Now that we have

from Zara, a couple of pashminas, Christian

rest houses. We didn’t even have a sleeping bag.

were about a dozen lions all around us.

a baby, there’s a stroller and car seat, too.

Louboutin sandals, and Helmut Lang jeans –

Other remote spots you like?

The roughest you’ve travelled?

Do you have a favourite suitcase?

which are really comfy and good for travel.

The Exuma islands, in the Bahamas. A guy with

Backpacking from Australia through Thailand and

A Globe-Trotter for my baby. But if you saw my

Beauty essentials?

the oldest prop plane I’ve ever seen took us to

Vietnam to Nepal and India. Some of the places

bags you would die; they are horrible – apart from

Le Métier de Beauté palettes, which contain

beaches miles off the beaten track. He’d just land

had no heating and hundreds of bedbugs. You just

my Louis Vuitton wheelie and the patent black

a bronzer, a concealer and an eye shadow; Kiss

and take us on boats to tiny islands, or we’d swim.

didn’t want to get undressed.

Chanel handbag which my husband bought me.

My Face sunscreen, which is natural; and Josie

One island was inhabited only by pigs – hundreds

Favourite ski haunts?

What would you never leave behind?

Maran natural tinted SPF30 moisturiser.

of them – which go swimming with you.

Deer Valley in Utah, where my husband has to go

My daughter, India; my Patricia Wexler beauty

Your preferred airline?

Your most fabulous trip?

for the Sundance Film Festival. It’s great fun –

products, which I swear by; and Nano-Green

Between London and New York, BA; First Class if

Hiking round Asia for a year. It was the first time

really buzzy. We stay at the Stein Eriksen, a big

Tea, a green anti-jetlag drink.

I’m on my own, as I like a seat that’s private.

I’d been to such places and there is nothing like

wooden, cabin-like lodge.

British hotels you would return to?

Singapore Airlines is amazing, as is Cathay Pacific.

the first time you travel: the freedom, the sense

Lovely hangouts in New York?

In London, The Connaught, which has lovely staff,

Do you worry about your carbon footprint?

that everything is possible. It’s not like that now,

The Waverly Inn, which is cosy and home-like.

beautiful rooms, an Aman spa and a great pool.

I do – but there is no escaping the fact that you

when you’re on your BlackBerry trying to arrange

Palma, an Italian on Cornelia Street in the West

The bar is also fun, the restaurant is amazing, and

have to fly. It would be impractical to go by boat.

a conference call in the middle of the night.

Village, which is just sweet. The restaurants on

it feels intimate and relaxing. In Richmond, where

Interview by Lisa Grainger

 LCKI8KI8M<C


www.chanel.com

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Profile for Johnny Morris

ultratravel winter 2011  

The Daily Telegraph's luxury travel magazine

ultratravel winter 2011  

The Daily Telegraph's luxury travel magazine

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