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ultratravel The Daily Telegraph

WINTER 2012

YOUR GUIDE TO HEAVEN ON EARTH

Snow safaris

On the road toski freedom

+

THE WORLD’S BEST BEACH VILLAS WHY EMPTINESS IS THE NEW LUXURY THE MALDIVES: 40 YEARS OF PARADISE

TRAVEL IN STYLE

z

BEAUTY

z

FASHION

z

TECHNOLOGY

z

WATCHES


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er all our magnifique Mumbai, Paris, Abu Dhabi, Los Angeles, Bangkok‌ Discover


addresses around the world on www.sofitel.com


Cliffhanger The Edge, a private villa in Bali (page 26)

CONTENTS

20

Features

26 The world’s best beach villas In our Ultratravel top 10, we name the finest homes from home – from Mustique to Mexico – where privacy and comfort are guaranteed 34 Paradise turns 40 Since 1972, when the first tourists set foot on the pristine sands of the Maldives, the Indian Ocean islands have come a long way, says Adrian Neville 40 Ski safaris Instead of staying in a resort, rent a car and follow the snow. We pick five fabulous road trips, in California, British Columbia, the Dolomites, Japan and Switzerland 48 The quest for nothingness Michelle Jana Chan relishes the wild expanses of Namibia’s desert and Bolivia’s salt flats, which provide the rare luxury of solitude

Regulars 9 Editor’s letter Space, silence, privacy and the freedom to roam are among life’s greatest pleasures, as the stories in this winter issue show

57

11 Next big thing News, trends, events and phenomena from around the world, compiled by Adriaane Pielou 15 Ultra accessories Four pages of advice from our

16

experts – on beauty, watches, fashion and gadgets 22 Victoria’s secrets Flying by private jet to Paris with an aviation blue-blood thrills Victoria Mather

MICHAEL POLIZA; ALAMY

57 Countdown to… Shanghai. Malcolm Moore, the

27 48

Telegraph’s China correspondent, finds an arty, glamorous city with a flourishing culinary scene 61 Ultra intelligence A Bollywood fantasy in London; Turkish delight as an art form; and why the high-street travel shop is making a comeback 66 Travelling life Livia Firth names her favourite haunts, from a camp in the Masai Mara to a boutique in Amsterdam

© Telegraph Media Group Limited 2012. Published by TELEGRAPH MEDIA GROUP, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT, and printed by Polestar UK Limited. Colour reproduction by groupfmg.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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Secluded beaches of golden sand, Thai massages at a roofop spa, sipping champagne in a rose petal bath, and a meal on a private beach. Get special extra content with the Aurasma Lite app by pointing your device to this image.

Requested by Joanna...

Crafed by

For expert advice and to book, visit your local store or kuoni.co.uk For a brochure, call 08 44 557 3777


EDITOR’S LETTER

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

F

ive days. Four if I’m lucky. That is the time it usually takes me to switch off on holiday, leaving only a small window in which to wind down before contemplating my return to the real world. Too often, though, we never

Holy grail The private path to the beach from a land villa at the Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

really leave it. A friend of mine recently quipped that he was so tied to the office on a week-long break in Mauritius, he felt like God during the Creation: “On the seventh day I rested, because all my work was done.”

Only a corporate lawyer would compare himself to God like that – but he had a point. So umbilically attached are we to the workplace via technology, switching off – literally and metaphorically – is rare. Glance around the restaurant, pool or beach bar and everyone is at it: tapping, swiping and surfing their way through a hard-earned break. In the Crackberry age, we can tweet from Everest, send in-flight emails and stream video while skydiving from space. Psychiatrists have diagnosed people with IAD (iPhone addiction disorder). Salvation awaits in this issue of Ultratravel. Here, our writers provide real reasons to switch off and catalysts that can accelerate the winding-down process. For Victoria Mather, a “PJ” (private jet) is the mode of transport that can ease the stresses of working life long before travellers reach their destination. For Adrian Neville in the Maldives, the simplicity of a lagoon and an encircling beach provides succour even after 40 years of hotel development. If privacy is your balm, consider one of the world’s best villas, chosen by our experts – the perfect environment in which to turn up, switch off and tune out. With all this focus on the destination and the swiftest access to it, the joy of the journey can be lost. Hence our two stories about road trips, a byword for freedom. First, we take you on a series of snow safaris through some of the best ski terrain on Earth, before joining Michelle Jana Chan on her epic journey across the deserts of Namibia and the salt flats of Bolivia. Emptiness. Space. Time. In the world of modern travel, these are the ultimate luxuries.

Editor

INTRODUCING OUR EXPERTS

Photographer JOE PLIMMER Ferrari FF photographed at Adelboden, Switzerland, with thanks to Adelboden Tourism. Skis Zai Testa, 150cm, from Hari Sport, Adelboden.

Simon de Burton Why would a wristwatch have a million-dollar price tag? Our expert on all things horological, who worked at Sotheby’s with the late, great watchmaker Dr George Daniels, has the answer – it’s to do with astonishing feats of micro-engineering

Belinda White Recent assignments for the Telegraph’s online fashion editor include reporting on a lawsuit about the dress code of a private-jet crew and revealing why sales of Hunter wellingtons are soaring. In our pages, she talks intelligent packing

Mark Wilson Our new gadgets guru is the features editor of Stuff. So what does he always take on his travels? “My Olympus E-P3, as it makes me look a far better photographer than I am.” Here he reveals which innovations have caught his eye this season

Kate Shapland The award-winning beauty writer has a weekly column in Telegraph Magazine, covering everything from perfecting the Andy Warhol look to commissioning a bespoke fragrance. In this issue, she prescribes make-up for the mountains

Michelle Jana Chan The writer, television presenter and global nomad (Czech mother, Chinese father, American schooling) was perfectly placed, as our adventure expert, to explore two of the world’s last vast, wild, open spaces – the Namibian desert and the salt flats of southern Bolivia

ultratravel

Editor Charles Starmer-Smith Creative director Johnny Morris Managing editor Andrew Purvis Deputy editor Lisa Grainger Sub-editor Yolanda Carslaw 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 (Fran Burns) Ultratravel, 111 Buckingham Palace Road, London SW1W 0DT

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There’s more Than one Waldorf asToria. e a c h o n e T h e g r e aT e s T o f T h e m a l l n e W Yo r K | lo n d o n s Yo n Pa r K | c h i c ag o | B e r l i n * | r o m e c aVa l i e r i | a r i Zo n a B i lT m o r e l a Q U i n Ta r e s o r T & c lU B | T h e B o U l d e r s | T h e r o o s e V e lT n e W o r l e a n s | P U e r To r i co | m aU i s h a n g h a i | B e i J i n g * | o r l a n d o | B o c a r aTo n | K e Y W e s T | n a P l e s | Pa n a m a* | Pa r K c i T Y T h e c a l e d o n i a n | Q a s r a l s h a r Q | r a s a l K h a i m a h * | J e r U s a l e m * | T r i a n o n Pa l ac e V e r s a i l l e s

Wa l d o r fa s To r i a . c o m

*future openings © 2012 hilton Worldwide


the NEXT BIG THING

Futuristic The Water Discus hotel, proposed for Dubai

DEEP OCEAN TECHNOLOGY

COMPILED BY ADRIAANE PIELOU

Upcoming events, trends, ideas, phenomena and large sub-aquatic structures from the world of luxury travel zUNDERWATER: THE NEW OVERWATER

F

irst it was water villas in the Maldives (see page 34), allowing guests a glimpse of reef life from above the surface. Now, hoteliers seem hellbent on luring us beneath the waves. Star Trek meets The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau in this computer-generated image of the Water Discus hotel (above), scheduled to open

in Dubai with backing from a Swiss company. Designed by Deep Ocean Technology (deep-ocean-technology.com), its 21 suites will be housed in two main discs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one above water, one below â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and facilities include a bar and a dive centre. While the scale is new, the concept isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t. The one-room Utter Inn (unusualhotelsoftheworld.com/utterinn) already exists on Lake Mälaren, Sweden, as does the three-room Julesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Undersea Lodge (jul.com) off Key Largo, Florida. However, it is in the Maldives that the genre comes into its own. Huvafen Fushi has an underwater spa, Conrad Maldives Rangali Island an underwater restaurant and Niyama an underwater nightclub. And what better way to cruise between sub-aquatic destinations than in a private submarine? The DeepFlight Super Falcon (deepflight.com), â&#x20AC;&#x153;Learjet of the deepâ&#x20AC;?, is currently being tested on an expedition led by Tom Perkins, the man behind the 290ft megayacht Maltese Falcoln. Operating at depths of up to 36,000ft, it costs $1.6 million (ÂŁ990,000).

Deep sleep A suite at the planned Water Discus hotel, where the view takes in the reef 35ft below the surface

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z THE SUPERCHALET A crackling log fire, a reindeer-skin rug and a mug of hot chocolate after a hard day on the slopes just donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t cut it any more. What todayâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s chalet-dwellers want, apparently, is steam rooms, cinemas, nightclubs, wine cellars, cigar rooms, swimming pools and even squash courts. In Zermatt, the ski-in, ski-out Chalet White Pearl has a pool, hammam, hot tub and massage table, plus a cinema room with a high-quality sound system, while the Heinz Julen Loft (left) is a symphony of glass and steel (020 8870 3339, summitretreats.com). The six-bedroom Chalet Marco Polo in Val dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Isère has a heated indoor pool with projector screen, a hot tub and a wine cellar â&#x20AC;&#x201C; similarly priced, at ÂŁ22,500 a week, to Shemshak Lodge in Courchevel 1850 (0845 618 2205, akvillas. com). In Courchevel Le Praz, the four-bedroom La Folie Blanche has a pool and squash court (00 33 4 7900 5942, alpleisure.com). Elsewhere, Swish Swiss The Heinz Julen Loft in Zermatt

the

only Bighorn (020 3432 0726, bighornrevel stoke.com) in Revelstoke, Canada, with a private heli-pad, rivals Europeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s superchalets.

NEXT BIG THING z A NEW CHAPTER FOR BOOKS

.

Even in the Kindle era, few travel experiences beat the discovery of a truly well-stocked library. The poor offering in

z A MOUNTAIN OF YOUR OWN

most hotels, villas and chalets prompted the bookseller

This winter, the Tschuggen Grand Hotel in Arosa, Switzerland, takes exclusivity to new heights with its first

Philip Blackwell tentatively to launch his Ultimate Library.

â&#x20AC;&#x153;Private Mountainâ&#x20AC;? experience. Skiers and snowboarders staying at the hotel from November 29 to

Would there be a market for a large, carefully curated

December 2, 2012, will have not only the enticingly empty slopes to themselves, but also the Tschuggen

collection of outstanding new fiction, plus classics,

Express (above), the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s own mountain railway; they will also be able to book private lessons with a ski

photographic tomes and extra-large-format special editions,

instructor. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a great way to take advantage of the spa and other facilities before the crowds descend after

hand-picked for each location? There was â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and Ultimate

December 1, when the ski season officially begins. Wait until after Christmas, as many people do, and the

Library collections can now be found at properties ranging

place will be busier. The three-night stay, excluding travel, costs from ÂŁ575 (0041 81 378 9999, tschuggen.ch).

from the Montpellier Chapter boutique hotel in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, to the InterContinental Singapore and Soneva Fushi in the Maldives. Holidays, after all, are the only time many people have to read. (ultimatelibrary.co.uk).

z JAMAICAN REVIVAL Next Easter, two new additions to the Geejam Collection (geejam collection.com) will bring a touch

z HEALTH-GIVING HOTELS

GETTY; ALAMY

Lest gyms, spas and yoga sessions are not enough, the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas has designated 41 of its 5,044 rooms â&#x20AC;&#x153;Stay Wellâ&#x20AC;?, meaning they may improve your health. Novelties include showers infused with vitamin C (which neutralises chlorine), blue-shaded lighting (said to increase energy levels and reverse the effects of jet lag), purified tap water, hypoallergenic cleaning products and an advanced ventilation system that purifies the air. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s all very commendable â&#x20AC;&#x201C; but it does make one wonder about the remaining 5,003 rooms in the megahotel.

of retro glamour to Port Antonio, on Jamaicaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s north-east coast. The historic Trident Hotel and the neighbouring Trident Castle (left) are set to reopen after a long refurbishment. Port Antonio (below left) is where Errol Flynn built his house, the scene of rip-roaring parties in the 1930s and 40s â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and where Ian Fleming, NoĂŤl Coward and Liz Taylor kept the drinks flowing through the 50s, 60s and 70s. In recent years, the six-room Geejam hotel has been the only five-star spot to stay in the area. Its proprietors â&#x20AC;&#x201C; who also own the recording studio used by the late Amy Winehouse â&#x20AC;&#x201C; are the people behind the Trident revival.

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SEE

P

R I VAT E LY C H A R T E R E D j E T TO U R S .

T H E wO R L D f ROM A D I f f E R E N T p E R S p E C T I V E .

S i m p ly t h e f i n e S t way t o S e e t h e w o r l d Imagine you had the luxury of a private plane and could fly in style to places you’ve always wanted to visit, freed from the constraints of scheduled transport. That’s the premise behind The Captain’s Choice privately Chartered jet Tours. This unique selection of inspired journeys lets you explore the world’s most remote and exotic places in a style which would simply not be possible otherwise. You will travel in unparalleled luxury, staying at the finest hotels and enjoying gourmet dining, with every need taken care of by an experienced escort team that even includes a tour doctor. If you would like to find out more about escorted touring at its finest, contact us now.

Call 0845 304 7129 www.captainschoice.co.uk

M ag i c

of

S o u t h a M e r i ca

Rio de Janeiro | Iguassu Falls | The Falkland Islands | Puerto Varas | Bariloche and Patagonia’s Lake District | Buenos Aires | Cuzco | Machu Picchu | Iquitos | Amazon River cruise| Bermuda 20 Days from £16,880pp

S i l k r o u t e & B e yo n d Istanbul | Kashi | Samarkand | Bukhara | Urgench | Khiva | Yerevan, Armenia | Tbilisi, Georgia | Gori | Yalta | Sevastapol 16 Days from £16,695pp

e q u ato r i a l e x p l o r e r Sydney | Papeete, Tahiti | Easter Island | Galapagos Islands cruise | Amazon River cruise | Peru | Iquitos | Panama Canal cruise | Panama City | Antigua, Guatemala | Havana, Cuba | The Azores 21 Days from £16,990pp

T H E L E A D E R I N L U X U R Y T R AV E L T O R E M O T E & E X O T I C D E S T I N AT I O N S


ULTRAbeauty

KATE SHAPLAND, the Telegraphâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s

beauty editor, chooses make-up for the mountains

1 The toughest run-proof mascaras struggle to cling on against sunscreen. Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius goes over regular mascara and acts like a raincoat to prevent it running.

2 Winter is a time for simple, no-make-up make-up, and Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge was made for it. This lip and cheek cream comes in such transparent, believable shades that it can almost be applied without a mirror.

3 As the chill and wind chap the lips, the sun can bring on cold sores, so a protective balm is vital. Apply Clinique Targeted Protection Stick SPF35 with a ďŹ ngertip, pressing it into your lips before adding colour. Put it on your ears, too.

4 Wear suncream with a protection factor of at least 30, with zinc, titanium dioxide or helioplex. Sisley Broad Spectrum Golden Facial Sunscreen SPF30 is tinted, so it also gives your skin a little colour.

BEVA/FOLIO ID

5 After a day outdoors, use a free-radical neutraliser to aid recovery. Amanda Lacey Nourishing Pink Cream contains St Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wort and centella asiatica, which promotes elasticity.

Snow queen

â&#x20AC;&#x153;

At high altitude, the skin looks and feels vital, but the environment is harmful to it. Because the air is thinner, there is less protection from radiation â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so, while it can take 25 minutes to burn at sea level, at 11,000ft it can take as little as six. Over time, this causes premature wrinkling and pigmentation patches. Humidity drops with temperature, making lips prone to drying out. The aim is to ďŹ nd products that protect the face but leave little trace â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and, like these, are small enough to be allowed in your hand luggage

â&#x20AC;?

From left: 1 Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius ÂŁ7.50 (cultbeauty.co.uk). 2 Bobbi Brown Pot Rouge ÂŁ18 (bobbibrown.co.uk). 3 Clinique Targeted Protection Stick SPF35 ÂŁ16 (clinique.co.uk). 4 Sisley SPF30 Golden Facial Sunscreen ÂŁ93.50 (harrods.com). 5 Amanda Lacey Nourishing Pink Cream ÂŁ75 (amandalacey.com).

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ULTRAwatches

Tiny, delicate parts and hours of manpower give â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;haute horlogerieâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; its price tag, says SIMON DE BURTON

The case comprises four different parts and measures 43.5mm in diameter. It is asymmetrical in order to accommodate the movement without having to resort to an overall larger diameter.

The dial displays hours, minutes and seconds and incorporates a power reserve display, which indicates when the watch needs to be re-wound. When fully wound, the movement will run autonomously for around three days.

The main feature of the watch is its quadruple tourbillon mechanism. It comprises two pairs of tourbillons, each with one inside the other. Each pair of tourbillons contains 128 components but weighs just 1.17g.

The watch features three individual sapphire crystals, one of which is ďŹ tted into the back of the case and surrounded by a bezel that is hand punched and engraved in bas-relief, a process which takes ďŹ ve days to complete.

The movement, which took ďŹ ve years to develop, contains 531 individual parts, each speciďŹ cally designed for the watch. The polishing and decorating of the movement components alone requires 500 hours of work.

Greubel Forsey Quadruple Tourbillon ÂŁ685,000, in rose gold, from Marcus (020 7290 6500, marcuswatches.co.uk). The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ďŹ rst quadruple tourbillon wristwatch. No more than six can be made each year, a rarity reďŹ&#x201A;ected in the price.

Why is this watch worth $1,000,000?

â&#x20AC;&#x153;

High-end watchmakers thrive on achieving ever more mind-boggling feats of micro-engineering. They do this by creating â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;complicationsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;, additions to a basic mechanism that endow it with different functions. The tourbillon, in which the regulating organ is contained within a tiny, rotating cage to counteract the effect of gravity, is considered the apotheosis of the horologistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s art due to its complexity and delicacy. The more complicated a watch, the harder it is to make, meaning fewer are produced. In haute horlogerie, economy of scale does not apply â&#x20AC;&#x201C; so prices must rise accordingly

â&#x20AC;?

THREE MORE COMPLICATED CREATIONS Ulysse Nardin â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Circusâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; Minute Repeater ÂŁ323,000 (020 8123 0313, ulysse-nardin. ch). Six ďŹ gures, in 18-carat gold, are applied to this automaton minute repeater. When the minute repeater lever is activated, tiny mechanical gongs sound the hour and the monkey steals the ball from the clown; the tiger stretches its paw to indicate the minutes and the bear bows to the ballet dancer. Just 30 will be made.

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Patek Philippe Menâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Perpetual Calendar 5496P ÂŁ77,930, in platinum (020 7493 8866, patek.com). Patek Philippe pioneered the perpetual calendar wristwatch, making the ďŹ rst production model in 1941. The mechanism automatically accounts for leap years and short months, negating the need for the adjustment required by normal and annual calendar watches.

IWC Pilotâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Watch Double Chronograph ÂŁ9,500 (0845 337 1868, iwc.com). The chronograph, or â&#x20AC;&#x153;stop watchâ&#x20AC;?, is hard to perfect in a wristwatch. This model features two seconds hands that can each be stopped to show intermediate or multiple elapsed times. The watch also features a small seconds display with 30-minute and 12-hour timers, day and date.


ULTRA fashion

To pack cleverly for winter sun, all you need is a PHD, says BELINDA WHITE, theTelegraph’s digital fashion editor

One case fits all

Main picture Tri dress by Peter Pilotto; £580.50 (020 7235 5000, harveynichols.com). Kelly Dog bracelet in calfskin, by Hermès; £345 (020 7499 8856, hermes.com). Safari trolley case, 21in version, in ivory, by Globe-Trotter; £860 (020 7529 5950, globe-trotter.com). North South Maisie tote by Mulberry, in polished calfskin, in flame; £995 (020 7491 3900, mulberry.com). Sunglasses, from top Linda Farrow Luxe, in cream snakeskin; £449 (lindafarrow.co.uk; ref 38 C13). Dior Brillance Special Edition, in acetate, embellished with Swarovski crystals and pearls; price on application (01423 520303 for stockists). Alexander Wang by Linda Farrow, with bronze tips; £216 (as before; ref 1 C7).

PHOTGRAPHER: JOE PLIMMER; MODEL: JAZ AT NEXT; HAIR AND MAKE-UP: KRYSTLE GOHEL; STYLIST: BELINDA WHITE

For most women, over-packing is as much of a holiday ritual as the preparatory pedicure, only more frustrating and a harder habit to break. Instead of emptying your entire summer wardrobe into your suitcase before setting off for sunny shores, pack smart. Seek out a perfect holiday dress (PHD) around which to build copious looks – think short, sleeveless and packing a hefty punch of print. This Peter Pilotto mini is a textbook PHD: equally at home over a bikini by the pool, with simple flat sandals, or with high heels and a lick of bright lipstick at cocktail hour. And with all the extra space in your case, just think how many pairs of shoes you can take! Oh dear...


BEYOND EXPECTATION Finally drawing a line in the sand between business and leisure.

With the help of a butler who specializes in poolside rituals, one of the many reasons why.

stregis.com

a legacy of luxury. now at over 30 of the world’s finest hotels & resorts. africa the americas asia europe the middle east ©2010–2012 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.


ULTRAtech

2

1

3

1 Micro Luggage scooter ÂŁ250 (00 41 44 910 1122, micro.ms). Perennially late air travellers might beneďŹ t from this hybrid of a Samsonite cabin case and a three-wheel, fold-out scooter, which has been ofďŹ cially approved as aircraft hand luggage. 2 Air Pro WiFi camcorder ÂŁ299 (01782 753370, iontheaction.co.uk). This aerodynamic action cam, by Ion, has a Wi-Fi module that connects to a phone or tablet, allowing the user instantly to share 1,080p videos on the web. Waterproof to 33ft with no housing required, it lasts for seven hours on a single charge. 3 Beolit 12 speaker ÂŁ599 (0118 927 7890, beoplay.com). This premium travel speaker, by B&O, has a tough aluminium grille and allows not just the owner, but friends with an iPhone, to play their music wirelessly, or via the USB or line-in ports. Its rechargeable battery lasts eight hours.

5

4

6

4 Alurunner sled ÂŁ445 (00 49 69 9203 9977, alurunner.com). With its tubular aluminium frame and a seat made from â&#x20AC;&#x153;indestructibleâ&#x20AC;? Makrolon fabric, this sled is light but very robust. Steel-spring shock absorbers, a world ďŹ rst in sledding, soften the ride over bumps and jumps. 5 StabilEyes binoculars ÂŁ1,356 (0330 123 0932, store.nikon.co.uk). These digitally stabilised 14x40 binoculars, by Nikon, are ideal for safaris and whale-watching. With both â&#x20AC;&#x153;landâ&#x20AC;? and â&#x20AC;&#x153;on boardâ&#x20AC;? modes, their processor counteracts judder to provide steadiness even at 14x zoom. 6 BioLite CampStove ÂŁ80 (biolitestove.com). A camping essential, this stove burns twigs and cones to cook meals and charge a mobile phone. Feed it 1.6oz of fuel and it boils two pints of water in less than ďŹ ve minutes. Twenty minutes of charging via a USB port gives an hour of talk time.

Smart travel

Heading

Wherever you are heading this winter, and by whatever means, take advice from our new gear and gadgets guru, MARK WILSON. Here, he chooses seven of the seasonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s niftiest innovations

7 7 Saietta motorbike From ÂŁ11,970 (020 7278 2228, saietta.com). The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most advanced electric superbike, made in Britain by Agility, travels 100 miles on just 45p-worth of electricity. It accelerates from 0-60mph in four seconds and comes in a choice of 11 colours.

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Carrier specialises in luxury tailor-made holidays worldwide. Service is personal, flexible and haute couture. Enjoy the benefits of our concierge service â&#x20AC;&#x201C; ensuring every detail of your holiday is taken care of. Our new 2013 brochures are available to order now and include the latest stylish hotels in the most sought-after destinations. Tel: 0161 492 1371 Africa | Caribbean, Bermuda & Mexico Indian Subcontinent, Far East & Australasia USA, Canada & Mexico | Europe & North Africa Indian Ocean & Arabia | Luxury Ski & Snow

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JASON FORD

The only turbulence on our Farnborough ďŹ&#x201A;ight was a slight tremor of the Buckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fizz over Calais

With Erik Lindbergh, grandson of the 1920s aviator, Victoria Mather boards a private jet to Paris and feels very at home

T

here are two PJ lodestars in high-ďŹ&#x201A;ying life: private jets and Peter Jones, the Sloane Square duchess of John Lewis. Both are comfort zones, the former a gilded treat that takes you up, up and away, wearing Louboutins; the latter very grounded, best attacked in sensible shoes. Although the tweeded bottom of the Peter Jones customer rarely touches the cream suede seats of the private jet, they have much in common. It is called standards. When travel is so despicable â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the process, not the destination â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the private jet is an inestimable treat from the moment the Mercedes limousine purrs up to your doorstep until it delivers you home, après PJ, together with your luggage (such a novelty). If you have ďŹ&#x201A;own on Ryanair â&#x20AC;&#x201C; we all have, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a badge of courage â&#x20AC;&#x201C; this is as near to heaven as you are going to get since Concorde was decommissioned. I was purred to Farnborough airďŹ eld to be decanted into a hushed lounge â&#x20AC;&#x201C; such a dire word, reminding me of Lady Carina Frost saying ďŹ rmly to Sir David in Terminal 5: â&#x20AC;&#x153;Take me to the British Airways drawing roomâ&#x20AC;?. On the wall above the espresso machine is a framed 2005 thank-you letter from Tony Blair to Sir Donald Spiers, chairman of Farnborough Aerospace Consortium: â&#x20AC;&#x153;I certainly hope to be able to make use of your excellent facilities again in the futureâ&#x20AC;?. I bet he did. I was about to board a PJ to Paris with Erik Lindbergh, whose grandfather Charles was the ďŹ rst man to ďŹ&#x201A;y solo across the Atlantic in a single-propeller plane, the Spirit of St Louis, with no more nav, let alone sat, than a magnetic compass and an airspeed indicator. On May 20, 1927, he took off from

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Victoriaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s secrets

Roosevelt Field, New York, and landed next day at Le Bourget, Paris, after 33 sleet- and snow-battered hours. He was greeted by a crowd of 100,000 people who carried him off his plane on their shoulders. Thankfully, we had steps. In 2002, to mark the 75th anniversary of his grandfatherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s great achievement, Erik Lindbergh replicated the ďŹ&#x201A;ight. A sufferer from painful arthritis, he ďŹ&#x201A;ew alone across the Atlantic, taking off from Republic Field, New York (Roosevelt Field has been turned into a shopping mall) and landing at Le Bourget, where our jet was heading now. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My plane was a modern version of the Spirit of St Louis but still driven by a single propeller,â&#x20AC;? Erik Lindbergh told me. â&#x20AC;&#x153;The prime objective was to stay alive. I had a satellite phone to call Mom but after Newfoundland the signal went dead. Below me were icebergs. I thought about my grandfather then, alone in the unknown.â&#x20AC;? The grandson landed in Le Bourget 17 hours and seven minutes after take-off, defying turbulence and thunderstorms. The most we had on our Farnborough ďŹ&#x201A;ight was a slight tremor of the Buckâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Fizz over Calais. Erik has a calling card â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the new Lindbergh Card, only ÂŁ50,000 to you, madam. Never knowingly undersold, a posh Oyster card. It solves all those little problems of jet ownership: no parking fees keeping it in the hangar, no itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s-always-in-the-wrong-continent. Erik Lindbergh has chummed up with Air Charter Service, which has aeroplanes of every size and every colour, for all I

know, all over the world. While NetJets is timeshare private jetting, the Lindbergh Card is bespoke. Your favourite wine, mags, books, down pillows, ďŹ lms and dog beds will be on board. VIP dog care, thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proper standards. Your money goes into a named trust account and is not used as operating capital. Missed the last commercial plane for that meeting in Seattle? Bored with playing blackjack in Las Vegas, letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s go to Hawaii? At the ping of an email from your iPhone â&#x20AC;&#x201C; no paperwork, all done by your PJ PA â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a plane, any plane your heart desires, will be throbbing on the runway. All this may seem pie in the sky for the earthbound, whose fantasy extends no further than Sleazyjet priority boarding. Yet look at the entry price: ÂŁ50,000. Thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s relatively down-to-earth. It still pays for a lot of helicopters beating the trafďŹ c from Manhattan to the Hamptons (cooler than the Jitney coach); for a lot of racecourses being visited by trainers, jockeys and punters; and, according to Chris Leach of Air Charter Service, for several trips by British builders to suss out properties in France. This is the workaday PJ, as opposed to the glittering tip of the pyramid occupied by celebrities and high-net-worth individuals. I stood with Erik Lindbergh on the plaque marking where his grandfather had landed. The $250-billion aviation industry began where X marks the spot. Before that ďŹ&#x201A;ight, aviators were buccaneer daredevils; afterwards came pilots and passengers. For Erik, now aged 47, the sky isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t the limit. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I want to explore space and look back and see our planet,â&#x20AC;? he said. Call me old-fashioned, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m going to explore Peter Jones.


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ULTRATRAVEL TOP 10

The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best beach villas No ďŹ ve-star hotel can match the privacy of a villa. Francesca Syz and Harriet Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Brien select the 10 most desirable holiday homes on earth, from a Mozambique lodge to a Spanish island hideaway

FRANCE VILLA ATHINA ST-JEAN-CAP-FERRAT On the lovely tree-clad peninsula of Cap Ferrat, between Monaco and Nice, the old-time Riviera spirit lives on without glint or hint of bling. Villa Athina captures this mood beautifully, with a strikingly modernist design. With sweeping views across the eastern shore, this very private and stylish property is a white-walls-and-glass creation set in landscaped gardens. Although guests might be tempted to laze on the terrace beside the outdoor pool, the villaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s architect-designed interiors are equally beguiling, constructed on several levels, with a hammam, a sauna, an indoor pool (heated, with a reverse current system) and a gym. A lift takes guests down to the wine cellar and up to the top-floor dining and sitting rooms, with 180-degree views, and the seven bedrooms feature bold design elements such as large, rococo-style mirrors. The cafes of St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat are nearby, as are several sandy beaches. Yacht charter, helicopter rides and Formula 1 tickets can be arranged. Sleeps 14, in seven bedrooms. Price â&#x201A;Ź5,700 (ÂŁ4,600) per night, including the services of a maid, gardener and property manager. Contact Cedric Reversade and Paul Maxime Koskas at Unique Properties (020 7788 7815, uniquepropertiesandevents.com).

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La vie est belle Villa Athina (main picture) at St-Jean-Cap-Ferrat; its secluded pool-with-a-view; and one of its seven lavishly furnished bedrooms

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For a once in a lifetime experience, it’s amazing how many people return. Beautiful unspoilt and uncrowded beaches, 5-star accommodation, fantastic haute cuisine, indulgent luxury spas, the best diving in the world – it’s hardly surprising that so many visitors to the Cayman Islands return. The friendly welcome and feeling of freedom one experiences on the islands truly makes it the holiday of a lifetime (or should we say holidays).

CAYMAN CONCIERGE

Let us help you plan your visit? For free, impartial advice call 020 7491 7771 (office hours) or email concierge@caymanislands.co.uk

caymanislands.co.uk


ULTRATRAVEL TOP 10

The worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best beach villas

MEXICO CASA IKAL RIVIERA MAYA One of the few remaining pristine stretches of the Riviera Maya â&#x20AC;&#x201C; that long, soft, sugar-white strip of sand running south of CancĂşn â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the Sian Kaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;an Biosphere Reserve feels wonderfully remote and wild. Seven miles inside the reserve is the glorious Casa Ikal, which sits right on the beach within a private five-acre estate. All about open-plan living, the modern, whitewashed, carbon-neutral house, designed by the world-renowned Mexican architects De Yturbe, has a large marble-floored living and dining area that is open to the elements at both ends; long, shaded outdoor terraces; and a rooftop swimming pool with spectacular ocean views. Service is the perfect balance â&#x20AC;&#x201C; highly personalised and attentive yet discreet, with dietary requirements and requests carefully discussed in advance. Sleeps Eight, in four bedrooms. Price From ÂŁ1,764 per night, based on eight sharing, including airport transfers, taxes and all meals, an excursion to the nearby Mayan Canals, one massage per person, all non-alcoholic beverages and the services of a private chef, villa manager, butler and cleaners. Minimum stay four nights. Contact Exsus (020 7337 9000, exsus.com).

Open house (from top) Solar panels contribute to Casa Ikalâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s carbonneutral status; the pool is on the roof; terraces surround the secluded, whitewashed property

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Call 0844 338 8620 to request a brochure Call 0843 373 2000 for reservations

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ULTRATRAVEL TOP 10

Marooned on the Med The Estate House, Corfu (above and below) and Tagomago Island

GREECE THE ESTATE HOUSE CORFU

traditional Corfu style, it is a labyrinth of shady courtyards, hand-

Located on a beautiful stretch of Corfuâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s north-east coast, within

crafted stone arches, airy, classic-contemporary drawing rooms,

strolling distance of the cosmopolitan harbour town of Kassiopi,

expansive verandas and swimming pools. The seven bedrooms are

the Estate House inhabits its own beautifully landscaped five-acre

all on the cool lower-ground floor and each has a private terrace.

private headland, criss-crossed by paths, and has direct sea

Thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a cinema room with three enormous, hot-pink sofas and

access, its own jetty and views across to Albania. Guests often

a 52in screen, as well as a gym, sauna, steam room and massage

arrive on their superyachts â&#x20AC;&#x201C; itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s that sort of place â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and if they

table. Steps lead down to a small, pebbly beach, where the

havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t a boat of their own, the in-house concierge can charter

improbably turquoise sea is ideal for swimming and snorkelling.

them something smaller, such as a Riva, for the duration. Owned

Sleeps 14, in seven bedrooms. The neighbouring three-bedroom

by an Englishman who fell in love with Corfu as a child, the Estate

Lodge House is also available for rent. Price Rates on application.

House is ideal for gatherings of family and friends. Built of stone in

Contact Five Star Villas (020 8422 4885, fivestargreece.com).

SPAIN THE VILLA TAGOMAGO ISLAND, BALEARICS Guests are in their own secluded world at this extremely chic villa â&#x20AC;&#x201C; for it is not just the property that can be rented, but the entire island. About a mile long and half a mile wide, Tagomago Island lies just off the north coast of Ibiza â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the villaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s speedboat can make the transfer in about five minutes. The villa is in the middle of the island and has been designed for maximum outdoor living, with floor-to-ceiling glass walls that slide back, generous terraces set around a large central swimming pool, numerous daybeds and various verandas for fresh-air dining. The interiors are deliberately understated â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all clean lines and white-and-grey furnishings, uplifted by splashes of bright red and orange. Other than party music from the Bang & Olufsen surround-sound system, Tagomago is extremely quiet, offering great views across clear waters that are often dotted with yachts. The mooring here, of course, is private, and a yacht can be chartered by the staff â&#x20AC;&#x201C; or a helicopter, which can land at the private helipad. Polished service is provided by the resident cook, housekeeper and kitchen staff, who have separate accommodation on the island. Sleeps 10, in five bedrooms. Price from â&#x201A;Ź17,100 (ÂŁ13,800) per night, including all meals, staff, boat transfers to Ibiza (fuel extra) and helicopter transfers for a group of 10 from Ibiza (if staying at the villa for more than seven days). Contact OS Private Travel (01993 899430, osprivatetravel.com).

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Water world The Edge, in Bali, has a spa with a â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;liquid floorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;. Below: Villa Una in Brazil

ST VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES SUNRISE HOUSE MUSTIQUE Mustique is a gorgeous island of privacy and self-indulgence, and Sunrise House, where Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell honeymooned, Elizabeth Hurley and Tom Ford have been guests and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge once dined, is about as good as it gets. South of Macaroni Beach on the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s east coast, it offers that elusive â&#x20AC;&#x153;cocktailâ&#x20AC;? sought by so many â&#x20AC;&#x201C; seclusion (it is one of the few villas on the island with a private beach) and accessibility (it is five minutes by golf buggy from Basilâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Bar, the islandâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s social epicentre). Built on several levels, on a forested hillside which descends to a beach, the spacious house is immaculate and decorated in sand colours, oysters and taupes: a manicured version of the laid-back beach house. There are four suites in the main house and a fifth in one of two beach-level cottages â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the other cottage contains a kitchen and additional dining space, overlooking a pool and outdoor eating and sunbathing areas.

is just one of the attributes of this beautifully-sited five-bedroom

There is also a home cinema, a floodlit tennis court and a gym.

villa at Ahangama village, about 10 miles east of the old Dutch fort

Sleeps 10, in five bedrooms. Price From ÂŁ2,665 per night, including

of Galle. The property is contemporary, but designed to incorporate

seven staff and the use of two petrol-fuelled golf buggies. Contact

the best elements of colonial architecture: wide verandas,

Quintessentially Villas (020 3073 6677, quintessentiallyvillas.com).

big balconies, lots of airy space and breezes flowing through a fountain-cooled courtyard. Although its white walls, pillars and

THAILAND

marble floors create a great sense of pared-down elegance, the

THE PALM HOUSE KOH SAMUI

villa offers comforts, too, with feathery sofas, huge rain showers

The largest beachfront â&#x20AC;&#x153;villaâ&#x20AC;? in Thailand is actually a collection of

in the palatial bathrooms and a well-devised childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s playground.

10 mini-villas, run like an exclusive-use hotel. Its 25 staff, dressed

It is also imbued with an intrinsically warm Sri Lankan spirit,

in uniforms by Richard James of Savile Row, are on hand to provide

thanks to the team of 10 staff (particularly recommended are the

a bespoke experience for every group. Right on Koh Samuiâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s virtually

curries concocted by the chef, Ajit). If the stretch of sand just

deserted Natien Beach, the property sits within 12 acres of

through the garden gate isnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t exciting enough â&#x20AC;&#x201C; after all, it is

frangipani-filled gardens. Each roomy villa has a private terrace

usually deserted â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the picture-postcard beach of Mirissa is

and outdoor rain shower, but life revolves around the clubhouse,

10 miles away and the surf of Midigama is one mile to the east.

a 70ft inky black pool and a large pool house with its own bar and

Sleeps 10, in five bedrooms. Price from US$1,000 (ÂŁ620) per night,

bartender. Among the full-time staff are two masseuses, two Thai

including the services of staff. Contact Eden Villas (00 94 91 223

chefs, Tong, the resident barman, who makes a mean mango mojito

2568, villasinsrilanka.com).

from fresh mint and fruit from the garden, and the executive chef Reuben Kimber (previously of Babington House), who will talk guests

BALI

through the different types of seafood and fresh produce bought

THE EDGE BUKIT BADUNG

from the market every morning. A 24-hour concierge is on hand to

Perched high on limestone cliffs at the southern brink of Bali,

organise activities, from scuba diving to Muay Thai boxing.

this vertiginous villa complex is built to take full advantage of its

Sleeps Up to 20, in 10 villas. Price From $5,000 (about ÂŁ3,100) per

dramatic setting, with jaw-dropping panoramas from every

night, including breakfast and daily maid service. Contact SJ Villas (020 7589 4390, sjvillas.com).

window, and a pool and lounge that look like they are room. Pambele is a place where most guests want to stay put, in

spectacularly suspended over the sea. Designed by the French,

enormous bedrooms looking out on to creamy beaches, or on

Bali-based architect Fredo Taffin and completed in 2010, The Edge

comfortable furniture both indoors and out (hammocks, daybeds,

is made up of three villas, each with a private plunge pool and

VILLA UNA BAHIA

four-posters draped in muslin, hand-painted African throws and

living areas. The largest house is also equipped with a range of

When staying at Villa Una, the adventure begins on leaving the

soft wool blankets). The chef cooks up magnificent feasts of fresh

luxurious â&#x20AC;&#x153;playroomsâ&#x20AC;?, from cinema, cigar lounge and wine cellar

airport. Tide levels permitting, the last 14 miles are driven on the

prawns, crab, lobster, salads and freshly baked bread, while the

to a childrenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s toy zone. Just below are the main pool area,

beach (the equally thrilling alternative involves driving through

other 11 staff ensure guests are well entertained â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with activities

a terrace bar and a spa with a â&#x20AC;&#x153;liquid floorâ&#x20AC;?: a shallow pond in

a rainforest and continuing through the mangroves by boat).

ranging from snorkelling and diving to sailing, whale-watching

which guests can relax, post-treatment, to the soothing sound

Beautifully designed by its Anglo-Brazilian owner, a retired model,

(July to November) and game drives.

of running water. Service takes this sleek operation into another

the style is rustic chic, with cool white sofas and bedlinens offset by

Sleeps 14 (10 adults, four children). Price ÂŁ3,500 per night,

dimension â&#x20AC;&#x201C; there are 50 staff, including a chef, spa therapists

bright local textiles, woven baskets and antiques. There are three

including staff, all meals, transport from Vilanculos airport and the

and a team of butlers on call 24 hours. The Edge is a few miles

thatched houses â&#x20AC;&#x201C; one, for the staff, is tucked away; the other two

use of 4x4 vehicles and boats (diving and horse riding cost extra).

east of the great cliffside temple of Uluwatu; some of Baliâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best

are right on Una beach. The smaller of these is occupied by a private

Contact Pambele (07971 088153, pambele.co.mz).

beaches (Padang Padang, Balangan and Bingin) are five minutes

BRAZIL

suite for two with a giant four-poster bed. In the large house, there

away; and there is another gorgeous stretch of sand a 15-minute

are three bedrooms and a spacious living and dining space that

SRI LANKA

expands on to the sand, with sleek, polished-cement floors and

INDISCH NEAR GALLE

Sleeps 20, in 10 bedrooms. Price ÂŁ8,350 per night, including

a soaring, 30ft-high thatched ceiling. This is the place to sip

Looking out from the lovely garden here, guests may well see

breakfast, staff, round-trip airport transfers and a priority

caipiroskas at dusk, followed by dishes such as moqueca, a classic

leatherback turtles on the beach just below and, slightly further out,

processing service at the airport. Contact Ampersand Travel

Bahian fish stew laden with local shrimp, octopus and lobster.

the iconic stilt fishermen of Sri Lankaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s southern coast. Local colour

(020 7289 6100, ampersandtravel.com).

drive down the coast in one of the villaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s private vehicles.

Sleeps Eight, in four bedrooms. Price From $2,645 (about ÂŁ1,650) per night, including daily maid service, cook and airport transfers. Contact Brazilian Beach House Company (00 55 21 2225 9476, brazilianbeachhouse.com).

MOZAMBIQUE PAMBELE SAN SEBASTIAN PENINSULA

ILLUSTRATION: ROBERT SHADBOLT

It is hard to decide what is most impressive about this remote retreat in Mozambique. The spectacular beach? The feeling of barefoot luxury? The pristine coral? Devised in 2006 as a sustainable eco-haven, Pambele is set along a stretch of seashore at the Vilanculos Coastal Wildlife Sanctuary on the San Sebastian Peninsula. It consists of four villas topped with jekka thatch, and a central lodge with an infinity pool, a bar hewn from an old dhow, an open-sided lounge and an enclosed winter/television

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10 MORE TOP VILLA COMPANIES Abercrombie & Kent Villas 0845 618 2205, akvillas.com (Europe, Caribbean, plus Alpine ski chalets) Beyond Spaces Villas 00 357 22 021156, beyondspacesvillas.com (Greece) Carpe Diem Luxury Travel 020 7402 5330, carpediemtravel.co.uk (worldwide) Contemporary Hotels & Beach Houses 00 61 2 9331 2881, contemporaryhotels.com.au (Australia) CV Travel 020 7401 1010, cvtravel.co.uk (worldwide) Exclusive Escapes 020 8605 3500, exclusiveescapes.co.uk (Turkey) To Escape To 020 7060 6747, toescapeto.com (Africa, Indian Ocean and South America) Touch of Spice 00 64 3 450 0855, touchofspice.co.nz (New Zealand) Think Sicily 020 7377 8518, thinksicily.com (Sicily) Villas of Distinction 0808 234 5158, villasofdistinction.com (Caribbean, France and Italy)


Huvafen Fushi

Discover The Maldives with Turquoise & Per AQUUM NIYAMA 7 nights including daily breakfast and dinner, transfers & international flights from £2359 per person l

Huvafen Fushi 7 nights including daily breakfast and dinner, transfers & international flights from £2669 per person

01494 678400 www.turquoiseholidays.com

@TurquoiseUK turquoiseholidays enquiries@turquoiseholidays.co.uk

Tu r q u o i s e The Turquoise Holiday Company


40 Paradise has come a long way in...

YEARS

In 1972, when the ďŹ rst tourists arrived in the Maldives, they stayed in simple palm-thatched huts and survived on tuna curry and collected rainwater. This year, an ever-growing swathe of opulent resorts, with overwater villas and underwater spas, will welcome up to a million visitors â&#x20AC;&#x201C; yet the islands remain serene. Adrian Neville reports

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‘THERE ARE NO DISTRACTIONS – NOTHING, BEYOND EACH ENCIRCLING BEACH’

Drops in the Indian Ocean Uninhabited islands on Baa Atoll. Opposite, clockwise from left: traditional Maldivian dress; the Five Lagoons project; Angsana Ihuru beach; dhoni boats in 1970; taking a banana tree to Cocoa Island by dhoni in 1980 MAIN PHOTOGRAPH BY ADRIAN NEVILLE

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‘ROOMS BECAME VILLAS, FOOD BECAME CUISINE, AND MIXOLOGISTS ARRIVED’

Sleek and sophisticated The Park Hyatt Hadahaa, which opened last year. The Dhoni living and recreation room, in the shape of the hull of a traditional fishing boat, was constructed by local boatbuilders

A

Castaways From above: a good landing spot on Cocoa Island in the early 1980s; a Maldivian newspaper reports the arrival of the first party of tourists, below, led by George Corbin (crouching, centre)

team of experts from the United Nations Development Programme went to the Maldives in the late 1960s and wrote a report on the prospects for tourism in the country. There were none, they concluded. Don’t even bother trying: the obstacles are too big. If that seems like the least perspicacious report in tourism history, you could at least see their point. At the time, the Maldives didn’t have a bank. Or an airport. Or electricity on the islands. And the only way to get around was by sailing, very slowly, in a traditional dhoni. The chance meeting in Colombo of an Italian adventurer, George Corbin, who hadn’t read the report, and a Maldivian, Ahmed Naseem, was the genesis of an industry that may welcome a million visitors this year to what is possibly the world’s most prestigious destination. The Maldivians who own and run Universal Resorts and Crown&Champa Resorts are the kings of the industry, admired, respected and envied. Back in 1972, that small group of friends were the young guns with spark and ambition who welcomed Corbin and his 22 guests to Male, put them up in three houses (there were no guesthouses), cooked for them (after one disastrous restaurant meal) and sailed with them around islands suitable for development. A “special correspondent” from the Morning Sun, a new English-language newspaper, met Corbin and his party soon after their arrival and immortalised the birth of tourism on the front page. On October 28, 1972 – just over 40 years ago – the first paying guests came. The Italians were accommodated in 30 rooms hastily built on an island renamed Kurumba (a young coconut). The walls were made of coral, the beams of coconut wood and the roofs palm-thatched. Each room had a bed, wardrobe, luggage rack and dressing table. That’s all. Drinking water was rainwater

or from a well. Meals were a repetition of tuna curry, rice, coconut and bananas. But they were in paradise. Guests were not aware that their Maldivian hosts were under considerable stress. Mohamed Umar Maniku, now the chairman of Universal Enterprises, was running on enthusiasm and determination alone. “I was cook, gardener and room boy,” he recalls. “We had to do everything ourselves, and there was nothing in the Maldives then – not even a telephone. We had to use ham radio or Morse code to contact Colombo for supplies.” The next dozen years were a free-for-all. Passports were not required at the airport and travellers could go anywhere if they had the wherewithal to sort out cargo boats and fishing vessels. Philippe Laurella, a Frenchman who left his job and flew to the Maldives on a whim, bought a boat and sailed around the country for years. He married a Maldivian, had three children and still lives in Male, designing boats and painting. Landing on an uninhabited island, he was greeted by a German couple, naked and somehow surviving. He gave them a share of his provisions, a few tools and moved on. The couple didn’t have to go to such extremes to strip off. One of the first resorts was Club Nature, a nudist colony, on the island close to Male that later became Club Med. That era ended in 1984 when the government made it illegal to stay in anything other than a registered resort and to travel outside the few tourist atolls around Male. Resorts began paying proper money for their leases instead of peppercorn rates – that is, coconut and firewood rates. The industry would now be driven by USPs, the need to catch up and deliver the next big thing. For years brochures would boast of “hot & cold water”. Air conditioning was a step up from the ceiling fan. Desalination plants put an end to saltwater showers and swimming pools. Rooms became villas, food became cuisine. Soneva Fushi put in the first wine cellar (quite a feat in shallow coral sand) and soon all the top resorts

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The new edition of Adrian Neville’s guidebook, Resorts of Maldives (£19.99), is available at shop.sevenholidays.com.

Five-point plan The Five Lagoons project will include a star-shaped hotel built high with rising sea levels in mind

WHAT’S NEW IN THE MALDIVES open a new Maison on the island

outer atolls in the far north and

of Randheli in the north. There will

south. The airports were built by

be 46 villas on a lagoon, and four

investors incentivised by being given

islands in addition, one of which

a nearby island on which to build

will accommodate the spa. The

a resort. The finest is Huvadhu Atoll

award-winning chef Yannick Alléno

in the south, where you will find the

will be in charge of the kitchen.

new Park Hyatt Hadahaa, a perfect,

The average golf course is larger

small, round island with a superb

UNDERWATER CLUBBING

than most resort islands but a few

beach and an outstanding reef. It

The day before the 40th anniversary

smaller versions have nevertheless

was also the first to be built to the

of the arrival of the first tourists in

been built. Meeru has a pitch and

highest eco-friendly standards.

the Maldives (October 28, 1972), the

putt, a green and a driving range and

brand new Niyama resort launched

Kuredu has a full-size driving range

Subsix, the world’s first underwater

and a lovely six-hole, par-three

nightclub (below). In line with the hip

course. Shangri-La (above) has built

and happening ethos of its owner,

a nine-hole, mostly par-three

Per Aquum – whose other Maldives

course averaging 123.4 yards,

property is the fashionable Huvafen

beautifully set around its coastline.

Fushi – Subsix boomed to the

The Dutch Docklands’ 18-hole

sounds of the global star Tinie

floating course – a world first –

Tempah, who played at the closing

will be extraordinary. But the first

A LOUIS VUITTON RESORT

course in the country was made

In 40 years, the accolade of “best

by the RAF in 1962, on its airport

in the country” has passed from

EVER-INCREASING CHOICE

island base of Gan in Addu Atoll.

one resort to another, as good ones

The roll-call of high-end resorts in

are upgraded to become great and

the Maldives increases every year. In

THE FIVE LAGOONS PROJECT

new ones are built. In 2013 there is

the past 12 months, no fewer than

The concept of one island, one

likely to be a new leader and a

eight have opened: Ayada Maldives,

resort has been at the core of

discernible change in standards.

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, Jumeirah

tourism in the Maldives since

Cheval Blanc – the ultra-luxury

Vittaveli, Dusit Thani, Niyama, Viceroy

Kurumba welcomed the country’s

hospitality brand developed by the

Maldives, The Residence and, the

first visitors. That is about to change,

LVMH group, of which Louis Vuitton,

latest, this month, Centara Ras Fushi.

is developing five entire, empty lagoons. Two will have water villas; one will be made up of private islands; another will have a starshaped hotel (top) with conference centre, oceanographic institute and shopping centre, while the last one will be a floating golf course. These futuristic visions are actually taking shape, with the first of 185 water villas now up for sale. EXPANSION NORTH AND SOUTH The story of development in the Maldives is one of expansion from

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Givenchy and Ruinart are part – will

airports that visitors can stay at the

ATOLL GOLF

in a dramatic way. Dutch Docklands

Then and now Male, the capital of the Maldives, in 1963 and today. Its international airport, which also serves regional airports on outlying atolls, is on a separate island

with the coming of new regional

the centre. Seaplanes extended the range of boat transfers but it is only

ceremony of the London Olympics.

ERIC KLEMM; NAJEEB; CORBIS; ADRIAN NEVILLE; NATIONAL CENTRE FOR LINGUISTIC AND HISTORICAL RESEARCH

had sommeliers. Now they have mixologists, too (the Constance Halaveli resort was the first). The ubiquitous Gulf Craft has replaced the dhoni, seaplanes have displaced Russian helicopters. The first really big idea that transformed the industry was the water bungalow. First built in the early 1990s, it was a slap-yourforehead-with-the-palm-of-your-hand invention: “Why didn’t we think of that before?” In the late 1990s came the spa. The water bungalow, now the overwater villa of course, reached its apotheosis on Gili Lankanfushi, formerly Soneva Gili. The “destination spa” (you travel specifically to and for it) has been achieved by Conrad, Taj Exotica and Cocoa Island. Recent political turmoil, with Islamist hard-liners proposing a ban on spas and alcohol, looks unlikely to have an impact on continuing innovation of this kind. For two decades, Cocoa Island was the Robinson Crusoe plaything of the German photographer Eric Klemm. It had just four thatched rooms, salt water, no hot water, no electricity, no telephone, not even a jetty (you had to wade ashore). The present owner, Christina Ong of Como Hotels and Resorts, has kept the sense of the island being an ultimate escape, while adding a level of sophistication, design and wellbeing that is world-class. When the rough island of Hudhuveli was transformed into Soneva Gili, I was sceptical. In the first edition of my guidebook, Resorts of Maldives, I described it as “a small, laid-back resort with the advantage of being close to the airport. In truth, it doesn’t have many other advantages”. In fact, the concept behind it – to build some of the world’s best water bungalows – was brilliant. In addition, the island was improved by dismantling walls, broadening the beach and planting trees, shrubs and a garden (not to mention the chocolate, cheese, charcuterie and wine cellar). Maldivian developers took the established idea of building over the water to another level, but what came next really put the unique in USP. Underwater is the new overwater. Conrad built the world’s first sub-aquatic restaurant. Anantara Kihavah now has a great one, too. Huvafen Fushi launched the world’s first underwater spa. Now, Niyama has just opened the world’s first underwater nightclub. “We’ve come a long, long way, further than any of us thought possible,” says Mohamed Umar Maniku, chairman of Niyama’s parent company, “although we were too busy to dream in those early years. At least I don’t have to sweep the beaches any more!” All this development rests upon the few simple gifts the Maldives has to offer. Unlike Polynesia or Micronesia, the islands are not too distant or far apart; unlike Hawaii, the Seychelles or the Caribbean, they are not big enough to have significant urban life. There are no hectic roads, hawkers or distractions – in fact, there is nobody and nothing beyond each encircling beach. Essentially, what is on offer is serenity, in a setting of pared-down beauty: palms, beach, lagoon, sea, horizon and sky.


THE ESSENCE OF MALDIVES. THE SOUL OF SERENITY.

Lagoon Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Beach Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Ocean Revives at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Be spoiled for choice with two exceptional island resorts in the Indian Ocean. Escape to the enchantingly sublime Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, a secret hideaway on the southern end of the rich Maldivian landscape. Or stimulate your senses at Jumeirah Vittaveli, the true essence of a Maldivian island paradise. Whichever you choose, the experience will be unique and magically unforgettable.

To book our fabulous â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;Spring Offersâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; please log onto Jumeirah.com or contact your favourite travel professional.


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SNOW SAFARIS

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LAKE TAHOE


Making tracks A highway snaking through the Valley of Fire State Park in the Mojave Desert, Nevada; and a skier above Lake Tahoe, California

On the road to Lake Tahoe

In California, Charles Starmer-Smith revels in untracked powder and unrivalled views on the edge of the desert “Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”

Only my wing mirrors defied Jack Kerouac’s words, continuing to reflect the San Francisco skyline as we trundled across the eight-mile-long Oakland Bay Bridge. Five lines of traffic poured east; five flowed west. To my left, the burnt-red struts of the Golden Gate Bridge, now in its 75th year, still felt synonymous with Cali-fun, -freedom and -fornication. But for me, and for my three fellow travellers, it was the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada that beckoned, not the surf and party lifestyle of metropolitan San Francisco. Ol’ Jack would have said that all a traveller needs is a wheel in his hand and four on the road, but we didn’t feel like we had “lit out” just yet. Only when the waters of the Pacific had become a distant memory did it seem like our journey proper had begun. Whether or not your definition of the road trip was inspired by American literary greats such as Kerouac, Steinbeck and Twain, this is a country made for holidays where the journey is as important as the destination. Here, anyone with a car can go anywhere; a driver’s licence, not a passport, is a person’s identity; towns and cities are planned with parking, rather than pedestrians, in mind; and truckers, not train drivers, are the heartbeat of the nation. As a result, the roads are improbably long and straight and the cars are gargantuan fuel-guzzlers, designed for long hours at the wheel and totally at odds with these environmentally-conscious times. My black Chevrolet SUV was the size of a London bedsit, greedily eating up fuel and the 200 miles of tarmac that lay between us and the Lake Tahoe Basin, marked on the map as Highway 50. We pulled into Sacramento for a potted history, at the California State Railroad Museum, of how locomotion had shaped life out west in the wake of the 1848 Gold Rush.

wIS SAnFo AR S

From that point on, every sign seemed couched in the language of hope and opportunity that had lured 300,000 people westwards on a promise of streets paved with gold: El Dorado, Gold River, Gold Hill, Villa del Sol, La Riviera. We passed Coloma where, on a cold January day, a young carpenter called James Marshall struck gold on the South Fork of the American River, triggering one of the biggest human migrations of modern times. But it was the pioneering work of a humble postman that piqued my interest more. In 1857, after the Gold Rush ended, John A Thompson strapped on 9ft-long wooden “skis” to deliver post on the Mormon emigrant trail along which our Chevy was now thundering. Few could have suspected, then, that flecks of white rather than gold would become the lifeblood of the local economy. Dusk was fast approaching as we neared Lake Tahoe. Over-eager, I swung the SUV off Highway 50 too early, passing along the south-eastern shore and away from the urban sprawl of South Lake Tahoe. But the skyrises, casinos and condos could wait awhile, as we stopped to gaze through snow-laden trees at North America’s largest alpine lake and the snow-capped peaks beyond it. In summer, the vast Lake Tahoe, with its 72-mile

circumference, is a hive of activity – hiking, biking, boating and fishing – but in winter attention shifts to the 14 alpine resorts surrounding it, invariably reached by car. We had arrived, but our road trip was only just beginning. For most European skiers, the idea of driving to the slopes each day is an anathema. Ski-in, ski-out and stay put is the tried-and-tested formula, and resorts are chosen for their proximity to planes and trains (and to minimise the transfer up twisting Alpine roads). In many ways, however, that formula is a gamble: everything hinges on the snow-gods being kind and the crowds staying away. I preferred the odds of a snow safari, where four wheels leave you with a trump card to play. Companies such as Ski Safari (which organised my trip) can tailor-make a range of itineraries across resorts in North America, Japan, Switzerland or Scandinavia. Capitalising on a growing desire among skiers for multi-destination trips, they offer everything from pristine lodges and premium hotels to private rentals. Each morning, as we debated where we were heading, it felt like a scene from Kerouac’s novel – and we relished the freedom. Setting out from our split-level town house in South Lake, we ventured east to Heavenly, where we

CALIFORNIA USA ROUTE San Francisco–Lake Tahoe–Mammoth–Las Vegas. DISTANCE 640 miles. CAR Chevrolet Tahoe: a butch American beast with a big boot, as happy on slippery passes as on hot tarmac. STAY The Resort at Squaw Creek (001 530 583 6300, squawcreek.com), Squaw Valley; rooms from £125. The Cosmopolitan (001 702 698 7000, cosmopolitanlasvegas.com), Las Vegas; from £135. EAT Wolfdale’s (001 530 583 5700, wolfdales.com), Tahoe City; mains from £9. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire at the Mandarin Oriental (001 888 881 9367, mandarinoriental.com), Las Vegas; mains from £30.

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carved gently through untracked powder, stopping only to marvel at the view from the long Ridge Run, a far cry from your typical Alpine panorama. On one side, the lake, flooding the valley floor with mercury blue; on the other, the arid, earthy plains of the Nevada desert. For more challenging runs and emptier pistes, we headed south to Kirkwood, before hotfooting it to Alpine Meadows after news came in that it had enjoyed some overnight snow. After a few days, we upped sticks and skirted Tahoe’s western shore to Squaw Valley, home of the 1960 Winter Olympics and the resort of choice for the West Coast gliterrati. Welcome to Squallywood. Here, steam rose from hot tubs into the night sky, couples with matching fur-lined collars browsed the boutiques before dining in refined restaurants serving Italian, French or Pan-Asian cuisine – a step up from the

FOR CHALLENGING RUNS AND EMPTIER PISTES, WE HEADED SOUTH usual. We stayed at the salubrious Resort at Squaw Creek, where the penthouse suites afford views of six alpine peaks. Yet Squaw Valley has substance as well as style, rivalling Val d’Isère for its connectivity and varied terrain, with the steep runs off KT-22 living long in the memory. But constant sunshine and rising temperatures were beginning to play havoc with the pistes. Early-morning ice gave way to lunchtime slush – a disaster avoided by going back on the road with barely a backward glance. Slicing through the Sierra Nevada mountains, we headed south on the old El Camino trail to Mammoth, stopping only to admire the vistas over lakes Mono and Topaz. Mammoth proved to be no hyperbole. It seems improbable, but here on the edge of the desolate plains of Nevada lies California’s highest ski resort. Winter storms sweep in from the Pacific, and any precipitation that reaches these last great peaks is deposited on the pistes below. The result is 10 metres of snowfall each winter, a season that can last until June and, on this occasion, broad smiles on the faces of four excited Englishmen. What the resort lacks in subtlety it makes up for in sheer skiing pleasure. For two days we swept down open bowls and snaked through forest glades, before toasting our efforts in the lively bars long after sundowner time. The temperature touched -10C as we raced down the Cornice run for the final time before setting the satnav for Las Vegas. Just over two hours later, we ground to a halt 200ft below sea level with the dashbard temperature gauge registering 40C: a cool day in Death Valley. I smiled inanely as the road stretched out through the vast empty plains devoid of life or character. We rolled on as the shadows lengthened across the Mojave Desert. Finally, Vegas appeared on the horizon – a circus of excess rising implausibly out of the desert. A table awaited us at the Marquee nightclub, but just as the neon lights of the Strip appeared tantalisingly close, it dawned on us that some bright spark had left the bag containing all our shoes back in Mammoth. Cue some sharp words, an even sharper turn off the Strip and an unscheduled stop at one of its monolithic shopping malls. Still clad in ski gear, we marched down the first aisle of a stack’em high, sell’em cheap shoe outlet, grabbing four pairs of faux crocodile-skin shoes. When in Vegas… The cashier smiled wearily at our wintry garb. “So y’all getting hitched?” she asked, in a matter-of-fact way. I looked at her quizzically, then back at the matching pairs of lurid loafers on the counter. “Only to the road, ma’am,” I replied. It was the kind of answer of which Ol’ Jack would have been proud. Ski Safari (01273 224060, skisafari.com) is offering a 14-night road trip through California and Nevada from £1,975 per person. The price includes seven nights in Squaw Valley Resort at Squaw Creek, five nights in Mammoth at Juniper Springs, two nights in a five-star hotel in Las Vegas, return economy flight and SUV car hire.

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wIS SAnFo AR S

Air time En route from Whistler to Banff, you can go heli-skiing from Revelstoke or Golden

BRITISH COLUMBIA CANADA REASON Intrepid powder-hunting. ROUTE Whistler–Revelstoke–Golden–Kicking Horse–Banff. DISTANCE 580 miles. CAR Rent a 4x4 SUV, such as a Ford Explorer. You are very likely to encounter serious snowstorms – it’s not at all like Europe. TERRAIN Mile after mile of Canadian wilderness links the resorts of this powder-packed route. You pass through spectacular scenery, including the Monashees and the Canadian Rockies, frozen lakes and rivers and four national parks. The roads are good and deserted but be prepared for lots of snow, and beware of wildlife on the road. You’ll see elk and bighorn sheep galore. SKI Whistler is the biggest ski area in North America, with two linked mountains, high bowls and steep couloirs. Five years ago, a new gondola transformed Revelstoke from a small hill into a major resort; slopes are steep, long and usually powder-filled. You can go heli- and cat-skiing from the base there, too. Then stop at Great Canadian Heli-Skiing, based between Golden and Revelstoke, for a couple of days in a dedicated heli-ski lodge with eight to 12 runs a day in virgin powder. Just 40 miles along the road is Kicking Horse, and more powder on former heli-ski terrain now served by a gondola and chair lift. Finish up at Banff, with a choice of three different ski areas covered by the tri-area lift pass – Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. STAY Fairmont Chateau Whistler (001 604 938 8000, fairmont.com/whistler). Slopeside luxury, excellent service, great outdoor pool and hot tubs, sauna, steam, spa; from £160 a night for a double room. Vagabond Lodge (001 250 344 2622, vagabondlodge.ca), Kicking Horse. Luxurious 10-bedroom log cabin with a fabulous first-floor living room and comfortable bedrooms; from £210 a night for two, including breakfast and lunch. EAT RimRock Café (001 604 932 5565, rimrockwhistler.com) at Whistler Creekside. Popular, so book before your trip. Excellent seafood, several small, cosy dining areas. Mains £24. Eagle’s Eye (001 250 439 5413, kickinghorseresort.com), at the top of Kicking Horse gondola. Canada’s best mountain restaurant, open for lunch daily and dinner at weekends. Stylish log cabin decor, great views, good service, varied menu. Mains from £20. TIP Book your trip through a Canada specialist tour operator such as Frontier Ski (020 8776 8709, frontier-ski.co.uk), which knows all the resorts well. Dave Watts The author is co-editor of Where to Ski and Snowboard, Britain’s only ski resort guidebook to be updated annually. The new 17th edition is available to Telegraph readers at a special discount price. For details, see wheretoskiandsnowboard.com/telegraph.


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JAPAN Sapporo

Niseko

Rusutsu

Depth of feeling At Niseko (left) and Furano, on Hokkaido island, soft powder descents through the forest can be followed by a dip in a thermal pool

Mount Asahidake

Asahikawa

Furano

New Chitose Airport

Mount Tomamu

20 miles

Engelberg

20 miles

SWITZERLAND Andermatt

HOKKAIDO ISLAND JAPAN

Val d’Anniviers

REASON Perfect powder.

Verbier

ROUTE New Chitose Airport (Sapporo)–

FRANCE

Chamonix

Rusutsu–Niseko–Mount Asahidake–Furano–

Mont Blanc

Mount Tomamu–New Chitose Airport. DISTANCE 250 miles.

GERMANY

I TA LY

ITALY

THE ALPS

CAR Toyota Sienna LE AWD, a seven-seater 4x4 people-carrier that has great traction on snow-

SWITZERLAND

covered roads, and lots of room for ski gear.

REASON

TERRAIN Japan’s northern island is remote,

Off-piste adventure.

rugged, four times the size of Wales, and home

ROUTE Chamonix–

to some 87 ski resorts. This route takes in five

Verbier–Val d’Anniviers–

of the best. Spend most time in Niseko, by far

Andermatt Engelberg.

the largest. The drive is as big an adventure as

DISTANCE 230 miles.

the skiing. Drivers must contend with poor maps,

CAR Audi A6 Allroad Quattro 3.0 TDI. Four-wheel

and the 18 metres of snow that falls each winter.

drive, a massive boot and a load-through hatch

However, most rental cars do have satnav. The scenery is alpine exotic – craggy 2,000m peaks, primeval pine forest, cherry trees and stands of bamboo. It is at its most dramatic around Mount Asahidake, a smoking volcano

wIS nFo S R SA A

designed for skis make this sturdy estate a brilliant option – grippy on hairpin climbs and descents, smooth and quiet on the motorway. TERRAIN The highest Alpine peaks – including Mont Blanc – surround this route that takes in five

in the Daisetsuzan National Park. The last

spectacular off-piste playgrounds. The driving is as

westerly stretch along the coast to the

exhilarating as the skiing: the sweeping hairpins of

airport offers glimpses of snow-covered

Mount Asahidake, at 2,291m, is steep and

10 types of pillow, Japanese and French cuisine,

the descent from the Col de la Forclaz into

beaches, seals and sea-ice.

exciting, with added hazards – searing steam

plus indoor and outdoor onsen (themal pools);

Switzerland feel like a World Cup downhill, with

SKI By European or American standards, the

vents and a boiling-water stream.

from £261 per room per night.

a thrilling view over the Rhône Valley, a patchwork

mountains aren’t high, but you ski almost down

STAY Niseko Northern Resort An’nupuri

EAT The Barn (00 81 136 23 0888), Niseko Hirafu.

of vineyards. There follow scenic motorway,

to sea level. Off-piste skiing used to be banned

(00 81 136 58 3311, niseko-northern.com/en) is in

Describes itself as Hokkaido’s only alpine bistro.

a detour into the rugged Val d’Anniviers and

because older Japanese believe it offends the

a quiet position with a natural hot spring and spa.

Try the marinated Tokizake salmon, from £15.

a winding ascent to Andermatt, the last half-hour

mountain spirits, but it is now accepted in the

Double rooms have double beds – a rarity in rural

Syoujikimura (00 81 167 23 3143), Furano. An

on the Furka car-train. From this Alpine junction –

major resorts. Soft powder descents through

Japan; from £216 per room per night. La Vista

inn with a celebrated ramen restaurant which

to the east, the Oberalp pass; to the south, the

the forest in Niseko and Furano are nothing short

Daisetsuza (japan-ryokan.net/lavistadaisetsuzan;

serves great gyoza dumplings, from £12.

Gotthard tunnel – the road zig-zags down to Lake

of fabulous, stopping off for a skinny dip in

email la-daisetsuzan@dormy-hotels.com), near

TIP Try Black Diamond Tours (00 81 90 2054

Lucerne en route to Engelberg.

remote bath-temperature natural pools.

Asahidake’s lift, has stylish, rustic rooms with

8687, blackdiamondtours.com). Peter Hardy

SKI The Grands Montets and Vallée Blanche at Chamonix and the backcountry routes off Mont Fort, at Verbier, are justifiably famous. However, it’s

THE DOLOMITES ITALY

the quieter spots on this snow-sure route that

REASON Knockout scenery, knockout food.

stand out. Zinal and Grimentz in the Val d’Anniviers

ROUTE Madonna di Campiglio–Val Gardena–Alta Badia–Cortina d’Ampezzo.

offer acres of exciting yet easily accessed terrain,

DISTANCE 120 miles.

from the bowl of the Piste du Chamois to

TERRAIN In the Dolomites, a Unesco World Heritage site, 3,000m peaks tower all around. From Campiglio, beneath the rugged Gruppo di Brenta, go north over a minor pass and then to Bolzano over the Mendola pass, with great views east to Val Gardena (familiar to Ski Sunday viewers). Next, the Gardena pass climbs steeply but then descends gently to Corvara. Finally, the high but harmless Valparola and Falzarego passes bring you to Cortina d’Ampezzo. SKI This is an area for cruising – take your time and enjoy the sensational scenery. From Campiglio, visit the more testing red slopes of linked Marilleva, Folgarida and Pinzolo. Val Gardena has famous downhill race courses above Selva and Santa Cristina – easy groomed blacks. Both Selva and Corvara are launch pads for the Sella Ronda – an easy full-day circuit of the Gruppo Sella. On the last leg to Cortina, ride the Lagazuoi cable car from Passo Falzarego, for the fabulous “hidden valley” run towards Corvara. Take a shared taxi back to your car. STAY Hotel Chalet del Sogno (00 39 0465 441033, hotelchaletdelsognocampiglio.com), Campiglio. Seventeen lovely suites, swanky wellness centre – all low-carbon; from £96. La Perla (00 39 0471 831000, hotel-laperla.it), Corvara. Location, style, service, top-notch food – all very informal; from £190. EAT Chalet Fiat (00 39 0465 441507) on Monte Spinale, Campiglio. As good as mountain eating gets. Mains from £16. Tivoli (00 39 0436 866400, ristorantetivolicortina.it), Cortina. Out of town, at the foot of the Pomedes ski slopes, this tiny (Michelin-starred) chalet does Cortina’s best food. From £19. TIP From the Sella Ronda, ski via Arabba to Marmolada for top-of-the-world views and superb glacial snow. Chris Gill The author is co-editor of Where to Ski and Snowboard 2013.

Alta Badia Bolzano

Val Gardena

side-routes from the highest points (2,900m). In Andermatt, the myriad routes down the north-facing Gemsstock are only the start: take a guide for a greater adventure. At Engelberg, classics include the Laub, with 1,000m of vertical, and glacier routes from the Titlis revolving cable car. STAY Bella Tola (00 41 27 475 1444, bellatola.ch), St-Luc, Val d’Anniviers. Alpine chic meets antique elegance at this Victorian classic with beautiful sitting rooms, a spa and a veranda; from £170. The River House (00 41 41 887 0025, theriverhouse.ch), Andermatt. This petite nine-room boutique hotel, with a sociable bar, melds contemporary design with 250-year-old features; from £130. EAT L’Etable du Marais (00 41 27 475 1419). Roesti and croûte au fromage are specialities at this sophisticated piste-side cowshed above Grimentz. Mains from £12. Ski Lodge Engelberg (00 41 41 637 35 00). Dishes at this Scandinavian-

I TA LY

owned lodge includes lamb with goat’s cheese, and seared scallops with salmon. From £20. TIP In 2013, the first of a batch of Qatari-owned hotels opens in Andermatt, and Zinal and Grimentz

Campiglio diDiCampiglio

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will be linked by cable car. Yolanda Carslaw

MAPS: STEFBAYLEY.CARBONMADE.COM; 4CORNERS; ALAMY; REUTERS

CAR Ferrari FF, making all those Range Rovers in the hotel car park look pedestrian.


WE ARE INSPIRED BY THE REDEFINITION OF LUXURY, AND WE CHOSE TO PARTNER WITH SWISSÔTEL MICHELE RONDELLI, JAKOB SCHLAEPFER TEXTILES

JAKOB SCHLAEPFER TEXTILES CAN BE SEEN IN OUR HOTELS AND PURCHASED FROM WWW.SWISSOTELATHOME.COM

AUSTRALIA

ESTONIA

JAPAN

SAUDI ARABIA

CHINA

GERMANY

THE NETHERLANDS

SINGAPORE

SYDNEY

www.swissotel.com www.swissotelcircle.com

BEIJING CHANGSHA * CHENGDU * FOSHAN KUNSHAN SANYA * SHANGHAI ECUADOR

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TALLINN BERLIN BREMEN DRESDEN DÜSSELDORF INDIA

BANGALORE * KOLKATA MUMBAI * NEW DELHI *

OSAKA AMSTERDAM PERU

LIMA RUSSIA

MOSCOW SOCHI (2) * KAZAN *

MAKKAH

SINGAPORE (2) SWITZERLAND

BASEL GENEVA (2) ZURICH THAILAND

BANGKOK (2) PHUKET

TURKEY

ANKARA BODRUM (2) * ISTANBUL IZMIR UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

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UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

CHICAGO

*under development


ULTRAadventure

Emptiness: the new luxury Space and silence are our balm in hectic times. Michelle Jana Chan is soothed, on contrasting journeys across the vast Namibian desert and the surreal salt ďŹ&#x201A;ats of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia  LCKI8KI8M<C


‘IT’S THE LACK OF PEOPLE THAT DRAWS TRAVELLERS HERE. NAMIBIA ALLOWS YOU TO BREATHE. YOU CAN DANGLE YOUR SOUL IN THE ENDLESS SPACE’

High and dry The red dunes of Sossusvlei, in the Namib-Naukluft National Park, rise up to 800ft above sea level. Temperatures can plummet from 30C during the day to less than 10C at night, and virtually no rain falls from May to December PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL POLIZA

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Rock art Wolwedans Boulders Camp, surrounded by granite. Below: desert-adapted elephants; stating the obvious; and an oryx, native to arid parts of Africa

S

uspecting a ďŹ&#x201A;at tyre, I pulled over just before the town of Palmwag. As I got out and walked around the vehicle, the puncture hissed at me like a snake. As I extracted the jack and wheel brace from the boot, it began to rain â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in one of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s driest countries. Swiftly, the drizzle swelled to a full-on thunderstorm, yet I smiled to myself like a small child playing outdoors. Changing a tyre on the hard shoulder of the M25 might not be much fun, but by the side of the road in northern Namibia, with a herd of springbok staring at you through the downpour, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s an adventure. After the wheel-change I turned north-west. In the back of my 4x4 Jeep Wrangler, I still had a second spare tyre, a jerrycan of extra fuel and other supplies. I felt as though I could drive forever. Namibia is an ideal choice for a road trip in Africa. The sealed roads are in excellent condition, there is minimal trafďŹ c, and the only serious hazard is ďŹ&#x201A;agged by signposts warning of crossing warthogs and kudus; it is wise to drive only in daylight hours. My route was a classic self-drive circuit taking in the wonders of Bushmanland in the north-east; Etosha, Namibiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ďŹ nest national park; the remote border with Angola; rugged Damaraland; the Skeleton Coast and the red dunes of NamibRand Nature Reserve. Travelling

across the hot, unmoving landscape was like driving through a still life. Even the animals were motionless, conserving their energy in the parched habitat. From one hour to the next, the landscape barely altered, save perhaps for driving through the shadow of a cloud. Only the fuel gauge indicated I was making progress. I ďŹ lled up with petrol in Sesfontein. The attendant estimated it would take four hours to cover the next 60 or so miles; I was unlikely to see any cars en route, he added. The â&#x20AC;&#x153;roadâ&#x20AC;? ahead comprised deep, soft sand and he advised me to release some air from my tyres. As I turned towards the village of Puros, the gravel road petered out. Instead I followed the sandy tracks of previous vehicles. Sometimes the tyre marks diverged or entirely disappeared but I pressed on westwards through forests of stocky mopane trees and past wind-whipped sculpted mountains. I slowed to watch a herd of oryx turn and canter off. A small brood of guinea fowl scuttled across the road. Now and then I stopped to stretch my legs. It was good to smell the hot earth and the dry grass. Once I saw a distant fork of lightning in a blue, cloudless sky. Arriving in Puros, I traversed dry river beds to reach Okahirongo Elephant Lodge, a crude yet elegant hotel made up of seven adobe rondavels blending into the

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ochre and terracotta hues of the natural landscape. After checking in, I headed out accompanied by an intuitive tracker named Pollen to seek the elusive desert-adapted elephant. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Look,â&#x20AC;? Pollen said, pointing at the sky. I followed his ďŹ nger but could detect nothing. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t you see it? The aeroplane.â&#x20AC;? I smiled. It seemed it might be more unusual to spot planes here than wild animals. I scanned the mountains with my binoculars but it was Pollen who ďŹ rst spotted a small herd with his naked eye. They were a good way off, loping down the ďŹ&#x201A;ank of the mountain. We drove to a spring in the otherwise dry Hoarusib river bed and eventually the great animals appeared â&#x20AC;&#x201C; wise, like us, to the fresh water. I noticed their desert adaptations: longer legs and larger feet to ease walking upon sand. Their trunks were also longer in order to probe for deeper water. They drank deliberately before pausing to look up at our vehicle, their ears ďŹ&#x201A;apping in the heat. Back at the lodge, I chatted with the owner, Pieter De Wet. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s true that it is difďŹ cult to get to places like this, but Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m ďŹ nding itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s what people increasingly want,â&#x20AC;? he said. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t mind having to travel deeper into wilderness.â&#x20AC;? De Wet has a second property further north, in an even more remote part of the country, and that was my next destination. It was a half-day drive up to the Angolan border, through the MarienďŹ&#x201A;uss Valley, framed by the Otjihipa and Hartmann mountains. The landscape draws together red sand and grassy scrubland, and is dotted with â&#x20AC;&#x153;fairy circlesâ&#x20AC;?, round patches devoid of vegetation. Even the clouds seem more beautiful: a solitary puff; a cheeky ďŹ&#x201A;ick and â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with a dose of imagination â&#x20AC;&#x201C; all sorts of abstract, amorphous creatures in the sky. I passed lonesome trees, skittish gemsbok and beatenup cars. â&#x20AC;&#x153;You have to be sure of yourself in a place like this,â&#x20AC;? a fellow traveller told me. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Not everybody feels comfortable. It can be too big and too empty for some.â&#x20AC;? kahirongo River Camp came up suddenly. Merging with the rocky terrain, its stilted canvas tents with private decks overlook the charging Kunene, the river that serves as the border with Angola. Dusty from the road, I clambered down the bank to slide into the cool current. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Make sure you swim only in moving water,â&#x20AC;? De Wet had advised. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Crocodiles donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t like rapids.â&#x20AC;? I looked across at Angolaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s barren mountains. There was a neat column of rain in the distance but I could see nothing else moving. Only through my binoculars could I make out a donkey or two. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s the lack of people that draws travellers here,â&#x20AC;? said Leander Borg, who founded the local operator NatureFriend Safaris. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Namibia allows you to breathe. You can dangle your soul in the endless space.â&#x20AC;? Towards the end of my trip, Borg had organised a mobile safari among the high dunes south of Swakopmund. In our 4x4s, we drove up and down the mountains of burnished sand, teetering over the lips of dunes before hurtling down the other side, then ďŹ&#x201A;ooring it up the next peak. We came across a family of ostriches, followed by some nervous springbok. They looked as startled to see us as we were to see them. We stopped to set up camp and, as the ďŹ rst stars appeared, built a ďŹ re. â&#x20AC;&#x153;This is where we come from,â&#x20AC;? Borg said, poking at the embers. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For thousands of years weâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been sitting around ďŹ res. Maybe it is an instinctive thing to come out in the bush and do this.â&#x20AC;? The temperature dropped overnight and we awoke to the sight of dew on the ground â&#x20AC;&#x201C; which many of the

Silver service The moon rising at dusk over a herd of giraffe in Etosha National Park, Namibia, easily accessed from Onguma Tented Camp

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NAMIBIA HOW TO STAY IN SPLENDID ISOLATION Break an intrepid journey in the wilderness at these six oases of civilisation

THE OLIVE EXCLUSIVE

OKAHIRONGO RIVER CAMP

MOWANI MOUNTAIN CAMP

Located near the remote Namibia-

Situated between the Ugab and Huab

Angola border, on the banks of the

rivers, this revamped lodge comprises

crocodile-infested Kunene River

12 new stilted suites overlooking

(below), the rocky terrain is dotted with

the rocky wilderness of southern

half a dozen tented suites furnished

Damaraland. Each has its own wooden

with four-poster beds, riotously

deck and a domed roof thatched with

colourful beaded chairs and block-

buffalo grass. There is a sundowner

printed graphic textiles. Among the

spot, with panoramic views, high up

activities available at the camp are

on the granite koppie, as well as a pool

ďŹ shing, birdwatching and visits to local

carved out between giant boulders.

villages, home to the semi-nomadic

Nearby are the Bushmen engravings

Himba people. okahirongolodge.com

at Twyfelfontein. mowani.com

This stylish boutique hotel (above), in a leafy, upmarket neighbourhood of

WOLWEDANS DUNE CAMP

Windhoek, has seven suites â&#x20AC;&#x201C; four of

In the heart of the NamibRand private

them with plunge pools â&#x20AC;&#x201C; decorated

nature reserve, this camp sits right on

with locally sourced artefacts such as

the edge of an 800ft-high dune that

masks, bongo drums and painted oryx

towers majestically above it. Just

horns. From the terraced restaurant,

12 paying guests are accommodated

guests look east towards green hills.

in open tents erected on wooden

Close to the airport, the place is ideal

platforms, each with a spacious

for a one-night pause after landing

deck for sleep-outs under the stars.

and before hitting the road.

Scenic drives take in the fascinating

theolive-namibia.com

geological formations, as well as the hardy ďŹ&#x201A;ora and fauna. wolwedans. com/lodges-camps/dune-camp

ONGUMA TENTED CAMP On the eastern side of Etosha, the

OKAHIRONGO ELEPHANT LODGE

countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s ďŹ nest national park, Onguma

Built on a rocky escarpment, the

overlooks an active waterhole and

hotel has seven villas (one pictured,

game can be seen from the private

right), each with an indoor and

deck or shower of each of its seven

outdoor shower, and a lounge-gazebo

luxury tents. Well located for day

overlooking the dry Hoarusib river

trips into the park, the camp is

bed. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a spot frequented by desert

surrounded by more than 34,000

elephant, giraffe, kudus and ostriches.

hectares of savannah, bushveld

Trackers take guests on morning

and dry pan, so it is well worth

and evening game drives to seek

spending a day on safari in the

out even closer encounters with

immediate area. onguma.com

wildlife. okahirongolodge.com


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EYEVINE; GETTY; PHOTOSHOT; ROBERT HARDING; MICHELLE JANA CHAN

Rough and smooth The Atacama desert, above, in southern Bolivia; and the vast, white plains of the Salar de Uyuni salt pans, where a Chilean company takes adventurers on overland ‘travesias’, exploring by Jeep

desert-adapted animals suck to slake their thirst. A cool, low mist burnt off by late morning. Chris McIntyre, author of the Bradt Guide to Namibia, believes it is these kinds of experiences that people make people fall for this part of Africa. “Space is surely the ultimate luxury,” he said. “People say they want to see game – but when you quiz them, it is not animals they are interested in, but wilderness. Otherwise they could just as well go to Whipsnade Zoo. What they want is to get away from it all, and Namibia provides that more than anywhere else in Africa.” I ended my road trip in the NamibRand, one of southern Africa’s largest private nature reserves, where the capacity of lodges and camps is strictly limited to 20 beds per lodge. At Wolwedans Dune Camp, there are just six tents, each on a spacious wooden platform. Its sister camp, Wolwedans Boulders, has only four tents, making it feel more exclusive still. ut Namibia is not the only part of the world where extreme silence and solitude beckon. Six thousand miles to the west, at about the same latitude, lie the Atacama desert and Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest and highestaltitude salt pans. Seven years ago, inspired by their remoteness, the Chilean travel company Explora set up its “travesias” – overland 4x4 journeys, taking guests deep into South America’s most inaccessible regions. “These trips are for people attracted to the idea of a nomadic journey,” said Jesús Parrilla, Explora’s CEO. “On my first travesia, I remember, we had four flat tyres in 90 minutes. One guest turned to me and said, ‘This is fantastic.’ People want to be surprised; they want to disconnect; they want an adventure.” I joined a group leaving the oasis of San Pedro, in the heart of the Chilean north. From there we crossed the border, where Bolivian immigration was an isolated outpost. A windswept group of Japanese tourists waited patiently outside the hut, clutching their passports. Days on the road were long and languorous. Through the vehicle window, we gazed out at lagoons of vibrant hue infused by various minerals. Andean geese waddled on the banks. We piled out of the van from time to time, to explore the geothermal plains of Sol de Mañana, with its pools of violently spurting, bubbling mud, or to take photographs of dramatic rocks and ancient lichen. The

SALAR DE UYUNI HOW TO DO IT Explora (explora.com) offers several overland journeys around the remote regions of South America, all of them aimed at the active and well-travelled. These travesias begin or end at one of the company’s lodges in the Atacama desert or in Patagonia, and guests travel in 4x4s and stay at simple camps en route. Night-time temperatures can fall well below zero, and activities include hiking at altitudes higher than 4,000m (about 13,000ft) above sea level. There are two Explora travesias to the Salar de Uyuni salt pans. One begins in Potosi – the historic Bolivian city where vast silver deposits sustained the Spanish empire for centuries – and ends in the oasis of San Pedro in Chile’s Atacama desert. The second route begins in San Pedro, curves into Bolivia, and ends in Iquique on the northern Chilean coast. Both journeys encompass high-altitude trekking, exploring geothermal landscapes and driving across the salt pans. Similar journeys are available with Explora to the open spaces of the Andes and Patagonia.

THE TESSELATED SURFACE CRACKLED UNDERFOOT. ODDLY, IT WAS STUDDED WITH THE CARCASSES OF BUTTERFLIES

scrub was a mix of stunted, luminous-green bushes and giant, candelabra-shaped cacti. Herds of heavy-coated llamas stared at our vehicle as it passed. On the third day, way in the distance, we caught our first sight of the blurred smear of Uyuni’s salt pans. As we drove closer, we could make out the granular nature of the salt crust, glistening like quartz. The tesselated surface was made up of misshapen polygons, formed as the salt dries and crystallises. It crackled underfoot. Oddly, the surface was studded with carcasses of butterflies, which become disorientated as they fly above Uyuni’s dazzling landscape. Parts of the pan were flooded, turning the surface into a gigantic mirror. Flocks of flamingoes offered up flawless reflections. By night, we slept on camp beds in cottages of stone or wood, and sometimes inside shipping containers kitted out for the purpose. Conditions were simple but snug; outside it was –20C, with blistering winds. In the middle of the night, when I needed to dart out to the lavatory (housed in a separate shipping container), I reminded myself to look up at the night sky. With the high altitude and low light pollution, this is one of the world’s best locations for astronomers, as well as for casual stargazers. The skies are so full, it can be hard to pinpoint even the brightest, best-known constellations. For one traveller in my group, a Frenchwoman called Claire Delattre, the trip had all the elements she was seeking. “Of course this kind of trip is not for everyone,” she conceded, “but I’m not looking for comfort. I want unique landscapes. It is in places like this that you remember your place in the world.” Red Savannah (01242 787800, redsavannah.com) offers 14-day trips to Namibia from £6,885 per person. The price includes return international flight to Windhoek with British Airways, light-aircraft transfers, a Jeep Wrangler hire car, all accommodation, plus some meals and activities. Highlights include Etosha National Park, Puros Conservancy, mobile camping in Damaraland, Swakopmund and the NamibRand Nature Reserve. The company also has 15-day trips to Chile and Bolivia from £5,995 per person, including return international flight, a 10-night Explora “travesia” to Uyuni (see How to do it, above) plus two nights’ b&b at The Aubrey boutique hotel, Santiago, and airport transfers.

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COUNTDOWNTO Shanghai

The Biennale is generating fresh energy in a thriving city, finds Malcolm Moore, the Telegraph’s China correspondent

5

REASONS TO GO Shanghai’s art scene has been turbocharged by

the wealth of Chinese collectors. For its ninth staging, the Shanghai Biennale (until March 31, 2013) has moved from the old Shanghai Race Club to the city’s version of Tate Modern, the restored Nanshi power station (above) on the banks of the Huangpu river. The theme is a pressing one for China: how to progress from building infrastructure to creating a modern society. To see how art has regenerated a district, visit Tianzifang, part of the old French Concession that was unzoned and quickly filled up with artists’ studios. Its tiny streets are packed with boutiques and cafes, and though many artists have moved, galleries remain: the Beaugeste (beaugeste-gallery.com) has contemporary photography. Communist party artwork is on show at Shanghai

4

Propaganda Poster Art Center (shanghaipropaganda art.com), a collection of posters exhorting the masses to greater feats and better behaviour; descriptions are in

RESTAURANTS Culinary genius is on display at Jia Jia Tang Bao (00 86 21 6327 6878), at 90 Huanghe Lu, near

Beijing Lu. Queues form to watch women create Xiaolongbao, delicate soup dumplings. Each one holds

Chinese and English. Early mornings in Fuxing Park

pork, sometimes crab, and a spoonful of broth – take care not to break them in the eating. Shunxing

(105 Fuxing Zhong Lu) are a good start to a day; you will

(00 86 21 6213 8988), at 1088 Yan’an Xi Lu, near Panyu Lu, is a Chengdu tea house

find tai chi practitioners and men taking caged birds for

transplanted to the coast, and the best place to sample Sichuan’s searing

a dawn stroll. End the day with a cocktail in the Vue

cuisine and enjoy an acrobatics act. Off the beaten track is the enormous

Bar at the Hyatt on the Bund (00 86 21 6393 1234,

Xibei Oat Noodle Village (00 86 21 5875 2999), at Hongxin Plaza, West

shanghai.bund.hyatt.com); it has the best view of the

Wing 5F, 762 Tianshan Lu, near Gubei Lu. The Chinese voted its home-made

city, looking east over the skyscrapers of Pudong and

yoghurt the best dish in Shanghai, and joints of lamb and home-pressed

west over the Bund, with the Huangpu river between.

tofu are also on the menu. Among the best Western restaurants is Mr & Mrs Bund (00 86 21 6323 9898, mmbund.com), at 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu. Book ahead: its playful menu (try Picnic Chicken) means it is almost perpetually full.

‘When you’re there at night, with all the lights and all the modernity, it’s like a movie set’

Bérénice Marlohe, Bond girl in Skyfall

MAP TANIA WILLIS; 4CORNERS; ALAMY; REUTERS

VISITORS’ BOOK

In last month’s Shanghai Masters, Andy Murray was beaten by Novak Djokovic at the Qi Zhong stadium. As the city has featured in many acclaimed films, it’s no surprise that it’s a regular stop for the film set – from Scarlett Johansson and Pierce Brosnan to Jackie Chan, Zhang Ziyi and the celebrated Chinese director Zhang Yimou

3

(00 86 21 6888 1234, shanghai.park.

2

hyatt.com) is not only the world’s

the history of the city while strolling along its streets, lined with plane trees.

highest hotel, occupying the 79th

For those who want to know more about China’s turbulent modern history,

to 93rd floors of the World Financial

one of the greatest books about the Cultural Revolution is set in Shanghai.

Center, but one of the most refined

Life and Death in Shanghai by Nien Cheng (pictured on

and quiet places to stay. Ask for a

book cover, right) is an autobiographical tale of the horrors

view over the river towards the city

of the 1960s, which still resonate in Chinese life today.

HOTELS The 174-room Park Hyatt

ESSENTIAL READS Unlike Beijing, Shanghai is a walking city. Take with you a copy of

Six Shanghai Walks, written by five expatriate women, and get to know

centre. For Art Deco elegance, and the glamour of the old French Concession, opt for the 30-room Mansion Hotel (00 86 21 5403 9888, chinamansionhotel.com),

1

BRITISH INSTITUTION The British built the Bund in the late 19th century, when Shanghai

which has a great position in the

was Asia’s busiest port. The granite buildings once housed banks and

middle of town. The Puli (00 86 21

trading houses, the British and Russian consulates and the Shanghai Club

3203 9999, thepuli.com) is a sleek,

(now the Waldorf; right). Today the finance district is across the river, but the

“urban resort”, with more than

Bund has been revamped into a wonderful urban park and is home to some

200 spacious rooms, a knockout

of Shanghai’s finest hotels and restaurants. Its name comes from the Hindi

restaurant and an inviting spa.

word for embankment; the Chinese call it Waitan, meaning “outer bank”.

NEED TO KNOW

WHAT SHANGHAI IS ON CHINA’S EAST COAST, AT THE MOUTH OF THE YANGTZE RIVER. THE WORD SHANGHAI MEANS ‘ON THE SEA’, BUT THE CITY – OF 23 MILLION PEOPLE – IS SO FAR INLAND THAT YOU CAN’T SEE THE COAST. WHEN THE PLACE FREEZES IN WINTER AND SWELTERS IN SUMMER, SO VISIT IN APRIL AND MAY OR SEPTEMBER TO NOVEMBER FLY WITH BA (DAILY) OR WITH VIRGIN ATLANTIC (SEVERAL TIMES A WEEK) FROM LONDON.

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JAMAICA

SAINT LUCIA

ANTIGUA

BAHAMAS

ONE OF A KIND SUITES O N E

O F

A

K I N D

E X P E R I E N C E


Millionaire Suite with Private Pool & Whirlpool at Sandals La Toc Golf Resort & Spa, Saint Lucia

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Screen grab The ďŹ lm-costume and fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee in the suite he created

intelligence

JOE PLIMMER

ULTRA

EDITED BY LISA GRAINGER

SUITE DREAMS

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

BOLLYWOOD COMES TO TOWN

3

OTHER HOTELS WITH NEW DESIGNER SUITES

The Dorchester, London The grand parkside suites have been totally

CINEMA SUITE 51 Buckingham Gate, London

techniques â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and films, hence the feel of the decor in the Cinema Suite,

revamped by French designer Alexandra

Taj Suites and Residences (020 7769 7766, 51-buckinghamgate.com)

which is part Merchant Ivory, part Bollywood. The two bedrooms are small

Champalimaud, and now feature sumptuous

Opened November 15.

but opulent (all silks, fine wools and gold and rose tones, furnished with

furnishings, original art and silk wall-coverings

Price From ÂŁ5,100 a night, all-inclusive, sleeping up to four.

antiques), the vast living room, dining room and study are decorated with

(ÂŁ3,798, thedorchester.com).

Size 1,832sq ft.

rich detail: walls of vintage plates, original paintings framed in faded velvet,

Tcherassi Hotel & Spa, Cartagena

USP Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not often that a fashion and film-costume designer is given free rein

lampshades covered in 18th-century Indian embroideries â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and enormous

The seven suites by Colombiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s best-known

and an expansive budget to create a fantasy world of his choosing in a hotel

antique images printed on to wallpaper. Even the details in the dining

fashion designer Silvia Tcherassi mix old

room. But so impressed was Taj Hotels by the creations of Sabyasachi

room and kitchen are carefully chosen, from a carefully curated collection

stonework and high-tech toys; the penthouse

Mukherjee that they gave their most impressive London room to him to

of old plates and silver cutlery to vintage Baccarat glasses.

has a rooftop pool (ÂŁ260, tcherassihotels.com).

make over. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s now the most decadent of the hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 86 suites and

Mukherjeeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s intent, he says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;was not to create a place filled with

Viceroy Maldives, Vagaru Island

apartments, with the Quilon restaurant and the Spa at 51 across the pretty

stereotypical cinematic images but one where you get that rich feeling that

Each of the new 61 slick villas, designed

cobbled courtyard, and a private butler on hand 24 hours a day.

only cinema can create, of stepping back into the past, a better placeâ&#x20AC;?.

by the Toronto design studio Yabu Pushelberg,

The details Mukherjee is a rare designer in that he admits he is â&#x20AC;&#x153;not that

Not everything is antique, though: toys include a high-tech Crestron

overlooks water. The three-bedroom Royal

interested in international trendsâ&#x20AC;? or fashion followers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; â&#x20AC;&#x153;people without

electronic lights and blinds system, and a vast surround-sound 3D

Villa is 4,370 sq ft: the Maldivesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; largest

purpose who are seduced by the dictates of designersâ&#x20AC;?. What he is

Panasonic television for in-house movie nights (the suite has a library of

(ÂŁ7,770, viceroyhotelsandresorts.com).

interested in is textiles â&#x20AC;&#x201C; in particular those handmade in India, using age-old

books, music and 100 films personally chosen by the designer).

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TRAVEL BY NUMBERS

THE TREND

Going private San Lorenzo Mountain Lodge in the Dolomites. Inset: its owner, Stefano Barbini

RETURN OF THE TRAVEL SHOP

D

espite a rise in internet bookings (two out of three travellers research holidays online, according to

Travelport), the old-fashioned high-street travel shop is far from dead. Last month two large travel companies opened stores in prominent London spots:

28

Kuoni in John Lewis on Oxford Street (with openings this year in Cardiff,

Percentage rise in Russians holidaying in Montenegro, compared with just 3 per cent for tourists as a whole

Southampton and Reading) and Abercrombie & Kent in the City. The A&K opening, says Katherine Gershon, its global sales and marketing director, is a response to customer demand. â&#x20AC;&#x153;When people are spending

1.4 trillion

a lot of money, they want an interactive process,â&#x20AC;? she says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;If you are booking the ultimate holiday, you want it tailored

Amount in dollars spent last year on luxury goods and experiences

273

Number of Michelin-starred restaurants within an hour of Osaka, Japan

40,389

Distance in miles over which the Olympic flame will pass through Russia in 2014 before the Winter Olympics THE BOOK

3 NEW WAYS TO TRAVEL IN LUXURY

1

SKI IN STYLE IN THE DOLOMITES

The Dolomites are well-known for

want.â&#x20AC;? For the cash-rich, time-poor customer, there is a Nomad shop

For similar mountain seclusion in

space during sleeping and, when

the western Italian Alps, the

upright, the seat is wing-backed

Arctic kit bag or your safari outfitâ&#x20AC;?,

refurbished six-bedroom Chalet Lo

for added privacy. Available on all

MiĂŠte in the Val dâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ayas has a chef,

Heathrow to Hong Kong flights

as well as a travel clinic, where a nurse

sauna and hot tub (hotelleriede

from February 2013, from ÂŁ3,189

mascognaz.com; from â&#x201A;Ź1,920).

return (cathaypacific.com).

their top-end hotels. But until now,

3

private retreats offering superluxury were thin on the ground.

attached, â&#x20AC;&#x153;which can sort out your entire

can give vaccinations, offer advice and prescribe malaria tablets. According to Fiona Harris, Kuoniâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s director of brand development, the

BECOME A LOUNGE-LOVER

demand for personal service has become

As an Emmy and Tony

so great that Kuoni has expanded its own

Hence the appeal of the San

award-winning theatre producer,

travel shops from three to 21 in the past

Lorenzo Mountain Lodge,

Phil Cameron spent a great deal of

three years. By the end of 2013 it will have

a 16th-century former hunting

time in airport lounges. Dismayed

lodge that takes rustic chic to

by the lack of comfort they offered,

considerably more in John Lewis stores.

a new level. Near the top of a

in 2007 he opened his own, under

agents of old, but â&#x20AC;&#x153;more like a mini Hotel

mountain, with sensational views,

the name No 1 Traveller, at

du Vinâ&#x20AC;?, she says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;with lovely sofas,

itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s half an hourâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s drive (or 10

Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted,

minutes by helicopter) from the ski

and, last month, Birmingham.

slopes, and totally private, with an

affordable premium service, not

best wine cellars in the SĂźdtirol.

luxurious decadenceâ&#x20AC;?, translates

showcase local craftsmanship, from embroidered sheets and cashmere throws to fragrant

These spaces are nothing like the travel

His aim, â&#x20AC;&#x153;to provide an

accomplished cook and one of the The four beautiful rooms

From a grand ballroom in Hong Kong to a cool cafe in Finland, Eat Shop Drink (ÂŁ24.99), by Philip Jodidio for the Architecture Now! series, captures some of the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most eye-catching architectural creations, each relating to three of lifeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s greatest pleasures.

by someone who knows exactly what you

2

into lounges with an Ă -la-carte WATCH THE WORLD FLY BY

menu, business centre, games room, cinema, free bar and

An aircraft seat (above) that has

showers. For those in transit who

soaps, handmade with local herbs.

won worldwide acclaim is at last

want a good sleep, rooms can be

There is a sauna and steam room,

available to travellers from London.

booked at Heathrow from ÂŁ20 an

a masseuse on demand, a heated

Seats in the new Cathay Pacific

hour, and beauty treatments

outdoor pool, and activities from

Business Class Cabin, which was

enjoyed at a spa. Additional

paragliding and rock-climbing to

named Worldâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Best Business

services include Fast Track passes,

foraging in the forest with the

Class at this yearâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Skytrax Awards,

and a chauffeur service at what

champagne and coffee, plus Apple Macs

owners, Stefano and Giorgia

are set at an angle to allow

Cameron calls â&#x20AC;&#x153;Addison Lee

and iPads. Although it seems counter-

(who also offer cookery

passengers to look out of the

pricesâ&#x20AC;?: about ÂŁ70 from London

intuitive in the age of social networking

lessons). Sleeps eight (plus four

window, and turn into some of the

to Heathrow. Lounge passes,

and computers, what people want is to

children), from ÂŁ2,010 a night

longest flat-beds in the air (6ft 3in).

bought online or at airports, cost

talk to someone they trust in comfort.â&#x20AC;?

(sanlorenzomountainlodge.com).

A retractable armrest increases

from ÂŁ17.50 (no1traveller.com).

SOUVENIR SEARCH

What clients also love, according to Leija Graf, the CEO of Select Collection, whose service is based on face-to-face

DELIGHT IN A SILVER BOX

consultation, is a shop filled with beautiful

Since the first lokum (or Turkish delight) shop opened in Istanbul in 1776 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; as legend has it, for a sultan whose teeth werenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t up to hard sweets â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the confectionery has become one of Turkeyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most successful exports. While Haci Bekir (hacibekir.com.tr) is the oldest shop in the city, the loveliest wrappings are to be found at Lokum (lokumistanbul.com), whose sweet squares are presented in toile-deJouy and silver boxes adorned with handmade tassels. Good news for those not jetting to Istanbul: Lokum has opened in Londonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Walton Street, with chic black and white decor by Anouska Hempel.

in Mayfair (above) not only has a stuffed

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pieces from abroad. Her showroom ostrich to stroke and glass jars filled with sand from far-flung beaches (pink from Harbour Island in the Bahamas, white from Mozambique), but shelves of exotic souvenirs, from alpaca blankets from Peru to hand-painted African jewellery. â&#x20AC;&#x153;For many of our clients, travel is like a treasure hunt,â&#x20AC;? she explains. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a search for perfect moments, precious memories and objects to take home. What we try to do is give them all three.â&#x20AC;?


ADVERTISING FEATURE

South Tyrol WHERE SNOW MEETS DESIGN South Tyrol, the most northerly province of Italy is a land of contrasts. Set against the stunning UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site Dolomites, now considered to be one of the world’s most beautiful mountain ranges and boasting a host of Mediterranean and Alpine influences, it is easy to see why South Tyrol is Italy with a Twist. For the discerning skiers, there is simply no better destination this winter. Home to Dolomiti Superski – the world’s largest ski network with 1,200km of slopes and the Sellaronda – a 26km tour around the peaks of the Dolomites - skiers and snow lovers will be spoilt for choice. The area offers excellent down hill and cross-country options for skiers and snowboarders of all levels and for less experienced skiers, there are over 60 ski schools to learn or hone your basic skills. The Dolomiti Superski is a truly impressive network and it couldn’t be easier to discover. With one ski pass covering the whole zone, it is access all areas – making it an adventurous and high value ski break destination. Add to that guaranteed snow on 90% of the slopes and 300 days of sunshine a year and South Tyrol is a winter playground with a myriad of possibilities. Ski accommodation in South Tyrol is unique and also brings a refreshing twist. No Alpine kitsch will be found here, and instead visitors will find progressive, stylish design and architecture with an individual feel and a bold, modern aesthetic. In recent years the whole region has seen a significant rise in design properties and this is undoubtedly as a result of South Tyrol’s location which allows the perfect bridge between Alpine and Mediterranean – when it comes to culture, food and design. When it comes to design gurus, the design expertise of Matteo Thun has put South Tyrol firmly on the design destination map. Thun’s best known landmark in South Tyrol is The Vigilius Mountain Resort. Sitting 1,500m about sea level,

it is only accessible by cable car and Thun has used the dramatic surroundings of the Monte San Vigilio / Vigilijoch peak to marry together history, nature and innovation within the resort. For an in-depth look at how the two cultures are married together, a visit to The Museion of Contemporary Art in Bolzano is a must. The Museion is a glass and metal structure, which juxtaposes stark modernism with traditional low roofing and the architecture is a visual symbol communicating the city’s historical centre in contrast to its more modern areas and of course nature, with the view of the and meadows across the Talvera River. South Tyrol gives every visitor an unforgettable experience when it comes to a winter break. Whether you’re a snow bunny or looking to experience something unique, where contrasting cultures and landscapes meet in a harmony of the senses, you’ll find it in South Tyrol – Italy with a Twist. HOW TO GET THERE Getting to South Tyrol couldn’t be easier: catch a flight to one of the nearby airports in northern Italy or Innsbruck. To find out more, visit suedtirol.info/fly

For more information read our new online brochure ‘Dolomighty’ at www.suedtirol.info/dolomighty


IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE LADIES GOLF CUP 2012 A putt above the rest Moor Park, a magnificent venue for one of the summer golf days

A putt above the rest Jayne Errington (above left), Chloe Rogers (above) and Ann Hynes (left), all Team England representatives. Main picture: Moor Park, where one of the four summer golf days took place

All hail the queens of swing

The four winners of the 2012 Ladies Golf Cup will play abroad at the World Final

T

he Ladies Golf Cup, in its third year, attracted more than 400

RESULTS

0-18 handicap category

women golfers at four separate golf days this summer at Moor

Moor Park, June 27

1st place Jo Brown,

Park and Brocket Hall in Hertfordshire and Burhill in Surrey.

19-30 handicap category

32 points (Hadley Wood GC)

Each day’s format is an individual stableford competition, with

1st place Aundrea Insinna,

2nd place Georgette Van

36 points (Coombe Hill GC)

Schothorst, 30 points

2nd place Hilary Lloyd,

(Hadley Wood GC)

35 points (Camberley Heat GC)

3rd place Rosie Downham,

3rd place Chris Laffan,

30 points (Pryford GC)

34 points (Moor Park GC)

Team England representative:

0-18 handicap category

Ann Hynes

prizes for players with a 0-18 handicap and a 19-30 handicap. The ultimate prize is for the individual with the highest number of

points to become part of a four-woman team that represents England at a World Final to compete against respective teams from Spain, Portugal, Thailand, India and the United Arab Emirates. Each day was hailed as a resounding success, with the quality of each venue praised by participants, who received a luxury goodie bag containing a pair of earrings from the title sponsor, Pandora, and

Ben Lambourne, the event director, is pictured with the win ner at Brocket Hall, Nicola Clarke, of Cas tle Royle Golf Club. “The Ladies Golf Cup has grown into a truly recognisable eve nt in the ladies’ social golfing calendar,” he said. “The desirable venues and the luxury brand partners help to create a unique experience that cannot be matched anywhere in the country . I wouldn’t be surprised if this is the firs t event female golfers put in their diary each year.”

1st place Jayne Errington, 36 points (Enmore GC)

Burhill, July 17

Brocket Hall

DON’T MISS OUT!

2nd place Scynthia Larsen,

19-30 handicap category

19-30 handicap category

NEXT YEAR’S EVENT WILL

35 points (Coombe Hill GC)

1st place Margaret Beim,

1st place Nicola Clarke,

BE BIGGER AND BETTER

3rd place: Audrey Rowley,

34 points (Coombe Hill GC)

43 points (Castle Royle GC)

With extra dates added

35 points (Army GC)

2nd place Sue Sheriden,

2nd place Soo Ying Foster,

at superb venues around

Team England representative:

33 points (Hoebridge GC)

38 points (Brocket Hall GC)

the country, more women

Jayne Errington

3rd place Patty Panizzo,

3rd place Kay Wardley,

will have an opportunity

(on count-back)

33 points (Coombe Hill GC)

37 points (Brocket Hall GC)

to enter one of the UK’s

0-18 handicap category

0-18 handicap category

premier golf events.

Burhill, July 16

1st place Chloe Rogers,

1st place Rita Bristow,

See ladiesgolfcup.com

19-30 handicap category

36 points (Braintree GC)

37 points (West Essex GC)

former Ladies European Tour players Sam Head and Jo Mundy were on

1st place Ann Hynes,

2nd place Shannon Flynn,

2nd place Moira Sleeman,

hand to offer tips and to organise a fun putting competition. For those

34 points (Burhill GC)

34 points (Burhill GC)

37 points (Sandy Lodge GC)

women who were simply keen to improve their game or hone their

2nd place Tuula Kaminarides,

3rd place Kirsty Cleland,

3rd place Fiona Stubbs,

skills, Callaway staged a unique day, the “Callaway Experience”,

33 points (Pryford GC)

33 points (Malden GC)

35 points (Castle Royle GC)

at which women received tuition on putting and the short and long

3rd place Caroline Cox,

Team England representative:

Team England representative:

game, had lunch and played nine holes.

31 points (Army GC)

Chloe Rogers

Nicola Clarke

products from Callaway, Rituals and Dorset Cereals, as well as a subscription to Women & Golf magazine. Hospitality was extended on and off the course, with complimentary drinks and snacks, a chance to sample and buy luxury chocolates from Paul Wayne Gregory, the bespoke chocolatier, and a well-earned glass of wine with lunch. The winners, Nicola Clare, Jayne Errington, Ann Hynes and Chloe Rogers, took home a Callaway travel bag to take on their trip to the World Final in Spain, plus a bespoke Ladies Golf Cup bowl from Inkerman. Tommy Hilfiger will kit out each player with a team outfit. On behalf of the leading equipment manufacturer Callaway, the

 LCKI8KI8M<C


SMALL SHIPS – BIG EXPERIENCES WITH NOBLE CALEDONIA - BOOK BEFORE 31 DECEMBER 2012 AND SAVE £300 PER PERSON

From Cuba to the Spanish Main A voyage from the Bahamas to Belize including a semi-circumnavigation of Cuba Aboard the MS Island Sky 25th January to 9th February 2014

Egg Island Nassau BAHAMAS Havana

Acklins Island

Cienfuegos Isla de la Juventud Tulum MEXICO

Casilda & Trinidad

Cuba is a beautiful and extraordinary place. Glorious landscapes, powder white beaches against a turquoise sea, delightful people and a lifestyle that is more 1930s than that of today. Very few cars travel the roads through the soft and gentle countryside, horse drawn carriages or pedal power are the order of the day. This is your chance to step back in time and enjoy the beauty of the landscape, the historic cities and take a rest from 21st century capitalism.

CUBA

Cozumel CARIBBEAN SEA

Lamanai Belize City BELIZE

MS Island Sky

The Itinerary

The MS Island Sky is one of the finest small ships in the world. With a maximum passenger capacity of only 114, the all-suite vessel has the benefit of unusually large accommodation, public areas and spacious outside decks. All suites feature a sitting room area and some have a private balcony. The spacious and finely 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. The atmosphere on board is akin to a private yacht or country hotel and you can be assured that after a day of exploration ashore you will return to the comfort and peace of a well run and exceedingly luxuriously appointed comfortable small ship.

Day 1 - London to Nassau. Fly by

With the MS Island Sky as our base, we can enjoy great comfort and excellent food as we navigate our way around Cuba, the surrounding islands and over Santiago de Cuba to Mexico and Belize to visit the ancient Mayan sites of Tulum and Lamanai. A flexible itinerary and knowledgeable onboard team enables us to make the most of each day, whether we are landing on remote beaches by Zodiac, watching out for whales or learning more of the history and culture of the places we are visiting. With just over 100 passengers, we can explore in small groups ashore and enjoy a convivial atmosphere onboard.

scheduled indirect flight. Upon arrival transfer to the MS Island Sky.

Day 2 - Egg Island, Eleuthera Islands, Bahamas. This morning we will visit the uninhabited island of Egg. This is a perfect stop for our first Zodiac landing. The beach is simply stunning with excellent swimming and snorkelling.

Day 3 - Acklins Island. This afternoon we will drop anchor off Acklins Island. There are only a few inhabitants on Acklins and they will give us the warmest of welcomes at the community centre. We will then have time to explore some of the island. Day 4 - Santiago de Cuba, Cuba. Set in an attractive bay surrounded by the impressive Sierra Maestra Mountains, Santiago de Cuba is a vibrant, cultured city that used to be the country’s capital. We will arrive in the early evening and, since the city is renowned as a music lover’s dream, we have arranged for a group of Cuban musicians and dancers to come on board after dinner. Day 5 - Santiago de Cuba. This morning our tour will commence with a panoramic drive through the city. We will also drive

out of the city through lush tropical scenery to the Castillo del Morro which guards the entrance to the harbour, affording magnificent views. In the early afternoon drive out to the village of El Cobre to see the Virgen de la Caridad in the basilica and then enjoy an exclusive concert in the famous Case de la Trova. Day 6 - At sea. Spend the day relaxing onboard and perhaps attend a lecture. Day 7 - Casilda for Trinidad. The compact colonial centre of Trinidad is one of the most sublime in Latin America. The cobbled streets, terracotta rooftops and pastel coloured houses are a delight and we will spend the morning here exploring the town. Day 8 - Cienfuegos. Cienfuegos is a laid back maritime city with a lazy, tropical atmosphere. In colonial times it was known as the ‘Pearl of the South’, a name earned from its lovely location on a picturesque Caribbean bay. Explore the town including a visit to the botanical gardens.

Day 9 - Punta Frances, Isla de la Juventud. Located some 50 miles from Cuba’s south coast, this attractive island is famous for its beaches, coral reefs and densely forested hills. Spend the day enjoying the beach and swimming and snorkelling in the magnificent waters. Day 10 - Havana. The three ‘c’s, colonialism, capitalism and communism have left their indelible mark on this historic city. On arrival in the afternoon we will focus on Habana Vieja (old Havana) which was once enclosed within fortified walls. We will explore its twisting, cobbled streets past both beautifully restored Baroque churches, castles and

palaces to the 16th century Plaza de Armas, the oldest plaza in the city. Day 11 - Havana. This morning we will drive along the Malecon, Havana’s seafront to Verdado. See the Plaza de la Revolution and the headquarters of President Fidel Castro and his Council of Ministers. After lunch visit Finca Villa Vigia, the former residence of Ernest Hemingway and today a museum.

Day 14 - Belize City, Belize. We have an interesting day ahead as we travel inland to the ancient Mayan city of Lamanai (which translates to ‘submerged crocodile’). From the nearby town of Orange Walk Bridge we board local boats for a wildlife cruise through mangroves, wetlands and forests. A short walk through the jungle brings us to the Lamanai Archaeological Reserve with its massive pyramids. Local guides will tell the story of this site which is the only Mayan city known to have been inhabited through every age of Mayan civilisation.

Day 12 - At sea. Day 13 - Cozumel, Mexico. From the

Day 15 - Belize City to London.

island of Cozumel we shall travel by boat to mainland Mexico. This morning we will visit the Mayan site of Tulum, perched 40 feet above the sea on a cliff.

Disembark after breakfast and transfer to Belize City for your indirect return flight to London. Day 16 - London. Morning arrival.

Prices & Inclusions Special offer prices per person based on double occupancy start from £6395 for a standard forward suite to £8895 for an owner’s balcony suite, Suites for sole use from £9695. Price Includes: Economy class scheduled return air travel, 14 nights aboard the MS Island Sky on full board, with house wine, beer or soft drinks with lunch and dinner onboard, expedition team, shore excursions, gratuities to crew and whilst on shore excursions, transfers, port taxes, airport taxes. NB. Ports subject to change. All special offers are subject to availability. Travel insurance, visas and local departure taxes are not included in the price.

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


L

ivia Firth is the creative

director of Eco Age, a business that helps people live a more energy-efficient life, and the director of Brightwide.com, an online film festival that streams social and political cinema. A Doctor of Humanities, she lives in London with her husband (the actor Colin Firth) and two children. How often do you travel? Every school holidays, so probably five times a year, mostly to my house in Umbria. I love everything there, from the landscape to the food. It’s simple, calm and relaxing – a contrast to our life in London, where we’re always on the run. Where in the world would you return? the Masai Mara, where we went with our friend and guide, Tim Melesi (timmelesi.com). Do you like adventure holidays? I like nature, but I hate posh safari camps, where it’s rough and wild outside but luxurious and separate from local life inside. We like travelling with Tim partly because it is just us and his Jeep. You feel you’re the only people who have ever

I love going around our house and thinking,‘That was from Ethiopia, that was from Scandinavia.’ It’s like a scrapbook

SARAH MAINGOT / CELEBRITY PICTURES

A Kenyan camp called Rekero (asiliaafrica.com) in

seen that giraffe. Once we spent all day watching a leopard that had killed a wildebeest and taken it up a tree; the kids were mesmerised. We have

TRAVELLING LIFE Livia Firth

The green entrepreneur on simple safaris, eco-boutiques in New York and the most romantic hotel room in Venice

what they call in Italy mal d’Africa – when you

The most remote places you have been?

as a candle or a rug. I enjoy going around our

angel, a charm which a woman in Kenya gave me

are away from it, you long to go back.

Villages in Bangladesh, Zambia and Kenya, on

house and thinking, “That was from Ethiopia, that

for good luck, and a pin from my grandmother.

Where would you like to go next?

trips with Oxfam. They’re the most amazing I have

was from Scandinavia.” It’s like a scrapbook.

Favourite restaurants abroad?

Vietnam and Cambodia. I’ve seen both countries

been on, because it’s just you and a backpack,

Favourite boutiques abroad?

Any trattoria in Rome that does local, simple food.

in movies, and spotted a hotel in Mr and Mrs

and you go where most travellers don’t. Those

The Frozen Fountain (frozenfountain.nl) in

I hate fussy food and elegant restaurants. Eating is

Smith – a guide we like – that looks incredible.

trips remind me of my gap year, sleeping in rough

Amsterdam is great for interior design. In New

about indulging your senses and having fun. My

Are you a lover of luxury or simplicity?

places but meeting incredible people and

York, Kaight (kaightshop.com) is an eco-fashion

idea of hell is a stuffy Michelin-superstar place

Luxury when I work; when you are busy, it’s nice

discovering how they live, what they do, how

boutique, while Matta (mattany.com), on Lafayette,

with what Colin and I call vertical food: piles

to be somewhere efficient and comfortable. On

resilient they are. You carry their stories for life.

stocks items from developing countries, such as

of ingredients on top of each other. As an antidote

holiday I’m drawn to simple things, not fuss.

The roughest place you’ve slept?

mats from Africa. In Paris, I always head to Merci

to that, we often end up going for a pizza.

Any luxurious places you’d go back to?

A tiny town in Ethiopia, where they didn’t have

(merci-merci.com) for its bookshop, in a cafe.

Best city for a weekend away?

Palazzina Grassi (palazzinag.com). Venice is a very

a hotel. I rented a room with no hot water,

Best hotel in Britain?

Amsterdam. I love the spirit, the artists, the

intense city, complicated and crowded, and most

and slept in my clothes in my sleeping bag.

Other than the Firth Hotel, our house, which is

quirkiness and the shops, the kind you only find

hotels there are old and chic. Palazzina Grassi is

Are you a natural adventurer?

always full of friends, the High Road House

there. We love going in spring and cycling. The

modern and glam; for the Venice Film Festival, we

I have never climbed a mountain or been to the

(highroadhouse.co.uk) in Chiswick, west London,

Hotel de Goudfazant (hoteldegoudfazant.nl), in

had a room, overlooking the Grand Canal, which

Amazon. But I love exploring, and knowing how

owned by the same people as Soho House. It’s so

a remote spot on a canal, is a warehouse that

was soft, white and full of mirrors: very romantic.

people live. You enrich your life by meeting people

quirky, but comfortable, and you feel at home.

looks like a film set but serves delicious food.

Lovely spots to visit in Venice?

who inhabit a different world. We all share the

Name your favourite luggage

Favourite travel agent?

Burano, the isolated fishermen’s island where the

planet and, if you know someone else’s problems,

I never spend money on suitcases, but I can

We don’t have one. We always book ourselves.

houses are painted different colours and the only

you can work with them and they with you. If

recommend Tumi’s suit carrier bag, which you lay

Does your carbon footprint concern you?

way there is by small boat. You get the most

I meet a woman in a Bangladesh factory, I’ll

your clothes on – unfolded, so they don’t get

Yes, but I don’t tend to offset flights, because the

spectacular fish you’ll ever eat at a restaurant

understand more about her world. At the same

creased – and then close it like a sandwich and

offsetting schemes seem to profit from people’s

called Gatto Nero (gattoneroburano.com).

time, she knows that someone is appreciating the

zip it up. I also have a little Samsonite wheelie.

guilt, and you never know whether the company

The most glamorous hotel you know?

eco fashion she is making. It works for us both.

What’s your wardrobe like when you travel?

is actually planting trees. Instead, I rarely eat red

Hotel du Cap (hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com), which

Favourite items bought abroad?

Black trousers, jacket and top. Whether I have to

meat, I have an eco business, and I live my life in

has somehow hung on to the glamour that the

I buy things wherever I go. I’m obsessed with

do business or go out in the evening, it works.

a way that’s as carbon-conscious as it can be.

Cannes Film Festival used to have. These days,

cushions, so I usually have one in my suitcase. If

Essentials in your handbag?

Livia Firth is a global ambassador for

the festival is jammed and chaotic. But back

I go to Africa, it’s jewellery; I love Masai beads. In

My business cards, my Liz Earle organic concealer

Oxfam (oxfam.org.uk).

at the hotel, you suddenly feel like Grace Kelly.

America, I often get something for the home, such

and lots of amulets: a ring I found in Africa, a little

Interview by Lisa Grainger

 LCKI8KI8M<C


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