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January 2014

VERBIER OFF-PISTE An insider’s guide

ALAIN DUCASSE

The French master chef talks travel

CITY OF GOLD

WINTER ON THE RIVIERA

Panama's capital reveals its riches

MYANMAR

Twenty-four hours in Cannes

An epic voyage along the Irrawaddy River

ART IN FLORENCE Hotels with creative souls

POSTCARDS FROM THE

MALDIVES Three tales of Indian Ocean bliss

SUITE DREAMS The Darling, Sydney

SPEND IT

Voyages of a lifetime

ON THE ROAD Three new supercars


In the patchwork of islands that make up the Maldives archipelago, Kanuhura stands out as a unique treasure. Emerging from the waters of the remote Lhaviyani Atoll, the secluded resort is the ultimate island hideaway, 40 minutes by seaplane from the main island of Malé. Scattered around the small tropical island are a collection of gorgeous villas, some nestled around the jungle-fringed beaches and others perched over the crystal-clear waters of the lagoon. All have been carefully made with hand-carved wood, bamboo and other natural materials that reflect the natural surroundings of the island, creating a rustic, ‘island chic’ ambiance. The bountiful sea life found in the waters around Kanuhuru make it one of the world’s best places for diving, and the land-based activities available at the resort allow guests to do as much or as little as they like. For the ultimate island retreat, Jehunuhura is a tiny uninhabited island ringed with a white powder beach, just a short boat ride away from the resort, where guests indulge in castaway fantasies.

CONTACT Tel: +960 662 00 44 n Fax: +960 662 00 33 n Email: Info@kanuhura.com.mv n www.kanuhura.com


Maldives Office: 1st Floor, Fasmeeru Building, Boduthakurufaanu Magu, 20077, MalĂŠ, Maldives Tel: +960 3320330 Singapore Office: 77 Duxton Road 089536, Singapore Tel:+ 65 62247058

Email: tsw@sultansoftheseas.com, www.sultansoftheseas.com


Maldives. Do it your way When you have 1,192 islands and almost one thousand kilometres of turquoise ocean to explore, why constrict yourself to one place? A lavish cruise through the myriad islands of the Maldives is the must-have holiday for the discerning visitor. With one of Sultans of the Seas’ fleet of worldclass charter yachts – the first of its kind in the Maldives – you can have the best of both worlds, with all the creature comforts of a five-star resort and the freedom of the open ocean on your doorstep. With no set itinerary, you are free to cruise across the seas and collect some of the most memorable images of your life, among the hundreds of awe inspiring deserted islands, sand banks, lagoons and coral gardens.

Set your course each morning and plan your day with the help of a discrete team including captain, private chef and dive instructor. Spend the morning diving in the crystal clear water among some of the world’s most spectacular marine life, then drop anchor and have lunch on a deserted island or sand bar with no one for miles around. Spend the afternoon fishing or lounging on deck, before enjoying a romantic dinner under the stars with gourmet food and fine wines. The vessels that make up our fleet, ‘the Sultans way’, are built to the highest standards by the Italian manufacturer Azimut, and feature sleek contemporary styling, stateof-the-art engineering and the latest safety features, finished to offer the ultimate onboard luxury. Whether you’re planning a romantic break for two, a family holiday or a fun escape for a group of friends, we have the right yacht to suit your needs and be your home away from home on this once-in-a-lifetime cruise away. With our private and personalised options, stunning range of yachts, incredible Maldivian setting and professional world-class staff, we know together we can create an experience that will remain with you forever.


One Sheikh Zayed Road Your luxurious Dubai abode Dubai’s premium address. Your ultimate destination. The H Dubai. One Sheikh Zayed Road

PO Box 125511, Dubai, United Arab Emirates T: +971 4 501 8888 E: welcome@h-hotel.com www.h-hotel.com


Business meets pleasure at The H Hotel Dubai, a luxury urban retreat at One Sheikh Zayed Road, where the city’s cultural and financial heart beats. Destinations such as Dubai International Exhibition Centre and Dubai International Financial Centre are a short walk away, and exclusive shopping is available at Dubai Mall, adjacent to the Burj Khalifa. Contemporary design embodies the unique aesthetic of The H Hotel Dubai – a luxurious environment infused with rich decor and subtle Arabian touches in the centre of the world’s most dynamic city.

In other words, there is no other.


Contents title

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January 2014

On the cover 56 Maldives memories Three travellers’ tales from the Indian Ocean paradise

72 Cruising in Myanmar A journey up the Irrawaddy River onboard Orient Express’ Orcaella

82 Inside Panama City

An introduction to Central America’s most important commercial crossroad

90 One day in Cannes

Make the most of the winter sun in this French Riviera jewel

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Room with a view Rest on the Monumental Staircase at W Verbier for spectacular views over the slopes

92 My city... Verbier

Powder White’s Fraser Ewart-White shares his favourite spots in the village

94 Masterpieces in Florence Luxury travel connoisseur Mary Gostelow samples three hotels in Italy’s art capital dotwnews.com

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Contents

January 2014

30 In the news 30 Europe 44 Debut

Boutique treats in Rome; Dom Pérignon’s suite in Amsterdam

Hot hotels, chic boutiques and exclusive new resorts

32 Middle East & Africa 46 Diary New luxury resorts spring up in Oman; a Royal Suite in Abu Dhabi

The top cultural and sporting events around the world this month

36 Asia & Oceania 48 VIP

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50 46

Season of change in Kyoto; Robert De Niro invests in Shanghai

Behind the scenes at Marrakech International Film Festival

40 Americas 50 Interview

Baz Luhrmann transforms Miami hotel; Beverly Hills turns 100

Alain Ducasse, the godfather of French gastronomy, talks travel

Spend it 98 Passport 113 Mile high

Cruising in the Maldives, Namibia by air and the ultimate NZ dinner party

Travelling business class in American Airways’ new Boeing 777-300ER

102 On the road 114 Suite dreams

Arabia’s first supercar and an all-new look for an old American classic

Spending a night in the Jewel Suite at The Darling hotel in Sydney

110 Set sail

Travel the seven seas aboard the sleek new Solaris 72 DH

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Photo: Kanuhura Maldives

Letter from the Editor My New year’s resolutioNs usually fall into two categories: things I should stop doing and places I must go. Both lists are usually tediously long and I rarely get more than halfway down either in the ensuing 12 months, but making those lists is a step in the right direction. This year I found it particularly hard to fit all the places I want to visit onto one page of a notepad, as more and more destinations capture my imagination. Some are cities or neighbourhoods that have come back to life, while others are destinations that remain ‘new’ in the eyes of the travel community, but teeter on the brink of opening up to a wider audience and therefore risk diluting that sense of the undiscovered. One of those places is Myanmar, where to date, only a handful of luxury travellers have set forth, mainly those travelling down the irrawaddy river with Orient Express’ Road to Mandalay cruise ship. The late-2013 launch of Orcaella, a second, smaller vessel capable of reaching even more untouched areas of the country, has created a new frontier in luxury exploration, and news that Peninsula is building a hotel in the capital, yangon is a sure indicator of the shape of things to come for former Burma. Travel writer Nick Walton was among the first passengers to travel on Orcaella – he shares his experience on page 72. Other destinations that usually find a place on my list include those undergoing enormous changes. Greenland is one, where global warming is literally changing the shape of the country from year to year, and another is Panama City, which has gone from industrial transportation hub to a popular destination in its own right in a matter of a few years. US writer Hal Peat headed to the great Atlantic/Pacific crossroads to find out what’s hot in Central america’s fastest-growing metropolis. Read his findings on page 82. As much as I like to discover new places, there are always tried-and-tested destinations that you like to go back to for a specific purpose, and one that I will always find an excuse to visit is the Maldives. There’s an obvious formula that explains the success of the Maldives and the many luxury resorts within it: idyllic deserted island locations, all-villa resorts and the freedom to do as much or as little as you like. It’s true that many resorts are offering more activities than ever before but, despite my best intentions, I always find the urge to do nothing except for lounging around on the beach and eating lots of good food terribly compelling. In this issue, we try out three fabulous Maldives resorts and recommend nine others to put on your travel radar in 2014. Read our cover story ‘Postcards from the Maldives’ on page 56. There is plenty more inside this issue including an interview with French master chef alain Ducasse, who talks hotels, travel and gastronomy on page 50, an insider’s guide to Verbier on page 92, and a look at three of the best hotels for art lovers in Florence on page 94. There’s also travel inspiration in the form of oncein-a-lifetime travel experiences (page 98), three new supercars (page 102) and a review of the stylish Jewel Suite at The Darling in sydney (page 114). So, here’s to a successful year of list-making and travel planning. Wherever 2014 takes you, travel well.

Joe Mortimer Senior Editor joe@dotwnews.com

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Nestled along the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf, where white sandy beaches sparkle in the sun, the 205-room Ajman Saray is the first beachfront Luxury Collection Resort in the Middle East.

AJMAN’S ENCHANTING COASTAL SANCTUARY theluxurycollection.com/ajmansaray

©2011–2012 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, The Luxury Collection and their logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates. For full terms & conditions visit theluxurycollection.com/ajmansaray


Contributors

Cover image A private island surrounded by coral reef in the Maldives

January 2014, Issue 91 Publisher Anna Zhukov anna@dotwnews.com Senior Editor Joe Mortimer joe@dotwnews.com Deputy Editor Rebecca Haddad rebecca@dotwnews.com Deputy Online Editor Simon Harrington simon@dotwnews.com Contributing Editors Mary Gostelow, Andy Round International Sales Director Jesse Vora jesse@dotwnews.com Sales Executive Lee Anderson lee@dotwnews.com Account Executive James Stead james@dotwnews.com

Nick Walton

Nick Walton is a Hong Kong-based travel writer with more than a decade’s worth of experience writing for travel publications around the world. His globetrotting exploits for Destinations of the World News have taken him as far afield as Fiji, Oslo, and Koh Samui. This month, he proves his calibre by sharing two impossibly luxurious, but very different experiences: being among the first visitors to LVMH’s Cheval Blanc Randheli resort in the Maldives (page 56) and one of the first passengers on Orient-Express’ new Myanmar cruise ship, Orcaella (page 72). @travellingnick

Art Director Kris Karacinski kris@dotwnews.com Multimedia Manager Vandita Gaurang vandita@wnnlimited.com Multimedia Graphics Manager Haitham El Shazly haitham@wnnlimited.com Circulation department circulate@dotwnews.com

International Commercial Representations Destinations of the World News’ network of international advertising sales and editorial representatives are based in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America. Destinations of the World News is published monthly by WNN Limited and distributed globally to the world’s premier airport lounges, our subscriber network and a select number of five-star hotels in the UAE. The title Destinations of the World News is a registered trademark and the publisher reserves all rights. All material in Destinations of the World News is compiled from sources believed to be reliable and articles reflect the personal opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the publisher. Destinations of the World News is not responsible for omissions or errors that result from misrepresentation of information to the publisher. Advertisers assume all liability for their advertising content. All rights of the owner and the producer of this conceptual development and artwork design are reserved. Neither this publication nor any part of it may be imitated, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of WNN Limited. Principal Offices WNN Limited, Reuters Building 1, Office 106, Dubai Media City, PO Box 500661, Dubai, UAE Tel +971 4 3910680 Fax +971 4 3910688 WNN limited, 31 Archbishop Kyprianou Street, 3036, PO Box 51234, zip 3503, Limassol, Cyprus

Rebecca Haddad

Last year, deputy editor Rebecca Haddad packed up her life in Sydney to chase the sun and sand in Dubai. Her thirst for adventure has taken her around Mediterranean Europe and the Middle East over the last few years. With all that travelling, sometimes it’s important to take a break — Jumeirah’s exclusive Dhevanafushi resort in the Maldives, no less. From sunrise bubbles on the beach to languid afternoons in her Island Revive villa, it was an unforgettable experience (page 56). @bechaddad 24

January 2014

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Mary Gostelow

As one of the world’s most prolific travellers and an authority on all things luxury, Mary says she spends at least 300 days a year on the road. But, judging from the brief notes we receive from far corners of the world, we think it’s more. Mary is editor-at-large of WOW.travel, founder of the Gostelow Report and www.girlahead.com, and regularly contributes to Destinations of the World News. This month, Mary gives us the lowdown on three of the top art hotels in Florence (page 94). @marygostelow

Hal Peat

Hal Peat has lived in Jamaica, the Bahamas and Europe, and has reported on the Caribbean region for the past 15 years, touching on topics from architecture and food to festivals, luxury adventures and active travel. He currently resides in southern Florida but regularly visits the Caribbean — except this month, when we sent him for a walk around the modern metropolis of Panama City, to learn of the city’s evolution from frontier town to a true global city. Read more on page 82. @shorelife

To subscribe to Destinations of the World News at an annual rate of $99 visit the website at www.dotwnews.com and hit SUBSCRIBE. Images used in Destinations of the World News are provided by Gallo Images/Getty Images/Corbis/iStockphoto/ Photolibrary unless stated otherwise. DOTW News is printed by J G Cassoulides & Sons Ltd, Nicosia, Cyprus and Al Nisr Publishing, Dubai, UAE

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THE NEW FRAGRANCE


01.14 News

The latest news from the world of luxury travel

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Champagne chic Moody hues in the Champagne Suite by Dom PĂŠrignon at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam

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Europe

Middle East & Africa

Asia & Oceania

Americas

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Debut - hot hotels and chic boutiques

Diary - events worth VIP at the Marrakech travelling for this month International Film Festival

French masterchef Alain Ducasse


Boutique treats in the Eternal City New boutique hotel openings and several designer renovations are providing compelling reasons to visit Rome this year. The design ethos in J.K. Place Roma (above), which opened mid2013, is similar to the J.K. brand’s other properties in Florence and Capri. Think clean lines, rich colours such as plum and jade, and flawless attention to detail, with furnishings custom-made in Italy or vintage pieces. The Via di Monte D’Oro address was formerly part of the Architectural School of the Sapienza University of Rome.

The focus here is on tailor-made experiences and, with only 30 rooms ranging from US $688 to $2,480 per night, personalised service is a given. For a more celestial experience, check into L’angolo di San Pietro, which opens in February. Located on Via Stazione Vaticana in an early 20th-century building, the nine-key boutique hotel is the closest you’ll get to Vatican City’s St. Peter’s Basilica. Guests here are promised exclusive service from the moment they arrive, with airport transfers in a Maserati, BMW or Porsche, a choice of bathroom amenities, Hotel eden, Rome

a suite of Apple products in all rooms (including Macs, iPads and Apple TV), 24-hour chauffeur service and free use of a Vespa 50 scooter or Fiat 500 for the duration of their stay. From the rooftop terrace of the Top San Pietro Suite, you can look up and see the dome of St. Peter’s while you soak in the hot tub. The restaurant and glass-roofed San Pietro Lounge will be reserved for the exclusive use of guests. Prices range from $800 to $2,620. Regular visitors to Rome will be familiar with Hotel Eden, which became a part of the Dorchester Collection last year. Popular among royalty, heads of state and celebs, the 121-room hotel will soon undergo a major refurbishment to bring the hotel back to its former glory. Finally, for a taste of modern Rome, the La Griffe Roma, part of Accor’s trendy MGallery collection, was renovated last year. Inside the walls of the 19th-century building on Via Nazionale the décor is a riot of colour, with bold splashes of red in the lobby and 123 guestrooms.


Europe

MaRy SayS...

The latest in luxury travel

Take residence at InterCon Geneva If lUxURy is a matter of exclusivity and rarity, then The Residence at the InterContinental Genève is very luxurious indeed. The Residence is the crowning glory of a 10-year, US $110 million refurbishment by New York designer Tony Chi. The top-floor penthouse has been designed in a style reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles with some contemporary additions, and boasts 360-degree views of the city as well as nearby Lake Geneva and surrounds.

The Residence is divided into two wings comprising two master bedrooms, a grand salon, private spa and hammam, library and a private lift. The suite also comes with a private butler named Oliver. At mealtimes, a chef will help you craft a menu of your own design. The $8 million suite is packed with luxurious extras: silverware by Christofle, bar accessories from Ralph Lauren, original artwork and a set of giant doors that swing open at the touch of a button.

The Residence costs from $62,000 per night, for which general manager Jurgen Baumhoff will include the other nine rooms on the 18th floor. But first you have to prove you are eligible; guests must be approved by Baumhoff and the chairman of the owning company. The landmark hotel, which celebrates its 50th birthday this year, is a few minutes’ walk from the UN and has welcomed guests including Sophia Loren, Ray Charles and Che Guevara.

Bespoke Savile Row tailor Henry Poole looks after suits for life, which means jackets and trousers are given a proper pressing. As Henry Poole’s Craig Featherstone says, a suit is meant to curve around the body, and industry pressing usually flattens the pieces. Henry Poole’s top presser, who has been at the ironing board for nearly 60 years, uses water and steam to reshape suits by hand. Featherstone says that even an average suit can be pressed into looking a million dollars if correctly done. www.henrypoole.com In Italy, Marino Moretti’s distinctive majolica and terracotta sculptures are decorated with witty mediaeval figures. From individual cocktail coasters to metre-high floor-standing pots, his works are treasures you’ll want adorning your home. You can visit him at his studio in a ninth-century castle 10 km from Orvieto or in the tiny shop he has opened in Orvieto’s main square, right opposite the Duomo. www.marinomoretti.it Embark on a walking tour in Greece with Rupert Smith, a highly qualified classicist who has taught in England and the US, run a jazz club and farmed mushrooms, before becoming a tour guide. For a seven-day walk, with intermittent drives, he might suggest stops at the Acropolis, the Corinth Canal, Mycenae and Missolonghi, to visit Lord Byron’s monument and museum. He also offers tours in Albania. www.theeviaschool.com

Ultimate indulgence The new Champagne Suite by Dom Pérignon at the InterContinental Amstel Amsterdam is the last word in luxury for connoisseurs of the bubbly stuff. The three-room suite has been decorated in rich champagne-coloured fabrics and contrasting high-gloss black furniture. The suite will showcase artwork from international artists and the work of the country’s top photographers courtesy of the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam. Guests in the suite can currently enjoy art by Jeff Koons and an exclusive fussball table by Piet Hein Eek. A selection of Dom Pérignon will be available, and the company’ chef de cuisine Bernard Dance has collaborated with the hotel’s La Rive restaurant chef to put together an exclusive menu.

A perfect gift for someone who already has everything could be a pair of Birthday Cufflinks made from Euro or UK coins from a certain year, such as the recipient’s birth or the year of another important event. Orders are processed within 24 hours and come in a silver box. www.birthdaycufflinks.com MaRy GoStelow

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Middle East & Africa

Alila Jabal Akhdar perches on a plateau

Al Bustan Palace

The Chedi Muscat

High-end adventure and boutique luxe in Oman The nexT Two years are set to be very big ones for Oman. The vast Sultanate, which occupies most of the eastern portion of the Arabian Peninsula, has been quietly enjoying steady growth for the last decade, with a number of high-end beach resorts, both in mainland Oman around Muscat (The Chedi) and the Musandam Peninsula, on the northern tip of the peninsula (Six Senses Zighy Bay). Hotel companies were slow to cotton on the potential for luxury beach, mountain and adventure tourism in Oman, but now the secret’s out, international players are set to move in. This April will see the opening of one of the most exciting destination resorts anywhere in the world: Alila Jebel Akhdar is set on a rocky plateau high in the Hajar Mountains; 86 suites and villas perched on a cliff face 2,000 metres above sea level. Built to LEED

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environmental standards, the resort promises immersive cultural and environmental experiences in the surrounding villages and rose water farms as well as top-end luxury. Much of the luxe action is due to take place in Jebel Sifah, a new resort area 45 kilometres from Muscat dubbed the Middle Eastern Riviera, that will be home to a number of hotels including Missoni, Banyan Tree, Angsana and Four Seasons properties, as well as a 200-berth marina and luxury villas and residential units. The resort is being created by Muriya Tourism Development, an Omani real estate developer focused on tourism. The company is also building an exclusive 32-villa eco-lodge on Al Sodah Island in the south of Oman, which will be part of LVMH’s exclusive Cheval Blanc collection of resorts.

Anantara is also making an entry into Oman following its huge success in Abu Dhabi and Dubai last year. The Asian hotel company plans to open Anantara Salalah Resort & Spa on the southern Dhofar Coast in 2015 and Anantara Al Madina A’Zarqa Resort. In the capital, W Muscat is set to bring its unique blend of designer flair to Oman in 2017 and Kempinski is opening a 309-room resort on The Wave — Oman’s answer to Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah — in 2015. Plans for an upcoming Ritz-Carlton Reserve resort in Muscat remain top secret, but a new Six Senses Spa is due to open at Ritz-Carlton’s Al Bustan Palace imminently. The spa is located in its own little wadi (dry river bed) 300 metres from the resort, with two private beaches, individual hammams and 20 treatment rooms.


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Enchantment in the Seychelles It seems that resorts in the Seychelles keep getting smaller – more boutique and more intimate – and this is certainly true of the brand new Enchanted Island Resort. The first international property from the UAE’s JA Hotels and Resorts, Enchanted Island has just eight one-bedroom Private Pool Villas and two two-bedroom Enchanted Signature Villas, set on two hectares of private island in a protected National Marine Reserve. Each villa has a sundeck and infinity pool, as well as direct access to the beach via a private walkway, and there’s a Serena Spa in case private island life all gets too much. Guests flying into Mahé will dive right into the landscape of the Seychelles, with a 10-minute private car transfer across the island to the resort’s private jetty for the 15-minute ride to Enchanted Island. The resort is available for individual bookings or entire-island buyouts. www.enchantedseychelles.com

New era of luxury begins in Tunisia Four years ago, Tunisia was the birthplace of the Arab Spring. Today, it is attracting a different kind of attention. Following the philosophy of “build it and they will come”, two luxury hotels are opening in and around the capital Tunis in the next 12 months. Asian luxury resort operator Six Senses will present its first North African property, Six Senses Gammarth, in late 2014. The low-rise resort on the coast of the Mediterranean will feature 67 suites and villas and 31 residences with a design aesthetic that celebrates Tunisia’s heritage, with architecture and interior design representing Berber, Ottoman, Arab and French styles. The Ritz-Carlton Tunis, Carthage in the Carthage-Sidi Bou Said suburb of Tunis will add 129 luxury rooms and suites to a beachfront location next to the Presidential Palace and the ancient ruins of Carthage when it opens this year. The hotel will also feature a destination spa, seven restaurants and bars, and a large ballroom for corporate events and weddings.

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Royal treatment in Abu Dhabi Indulge in new heights of luxury at the new Royal Suite at The Ritz-Carlton, Abu Dhabi Grand Canal, a 250-square-metre space that takes up the entire top floor of one of the resort’s buildings. The two-bedroom suite has a large terrace overlooking the canal and the resort’s gardens, an adjacent security room and separate living and dining rooms. But the focal point here is the master bedroom and its marble bathroom, whose walls are adorned with a gold and turquoise tile mosaic in an Italian Renaissance style. The designer bathroom also features a colour therapy rain shower and semi-precious stones in the floor and on the counter-tops. www.ritzcarlton.com


Asia & Oceania News& Oceania Asia

A new dAwn in Kyoto “Built as an ‘urban resort’ along the Kamogawa River, the hotel features 136 of the largest hotel rooms in the city”

It seems that a new volcanic island isn’t the only thing taking shape in the land of the rising sun. The spotlight is shining on Japan this year, namely Kyoto — an area that has long drawn tourists to its historic treasures, but will soon encourage them to linger thanks to new luxury hotels and Michelin restaurants shining brighter then ever before. Luxury hotel openings begin with The RitzCarlton, Kyoto next month. Built as an ‘urban resort’ along the Kamogawa River, the hotel features 136 of the largest hotel rooms in the city, a spa and a handy location right near the bustling downtown areas of Gion and Kawaramachi-dori. Also on the horizon is the Four Seasons Kyoto, opening in 2015. Adorned in local art and inspired by Japanese architecture, the heritage of the location won’t be forgotten. The hotel, located in the Higashiyama-ku district, will be spread across two hectares and feature 123 guestrooms and suites.

Avid Michelin Guide followers may also be pleased to learn that two restaurants in the former imperial capital have graduated from two stars to three, further enhancing Japan’s reputation as a gourmet haven. Kichisen, near the World Heritagelisted Shimogamo Shrine on the outskirts of Kyoto, is helmed by Yoshimi Tanigawa, who specialises in Kaiseki — traditional, multi-course meals. Meanwhile, further in the centre of town at Maruyama Park, Mizai enjoys its reinstated threestar status while continuing to wow crowds with its authentic cuisine. These two restaurants now take Japan’s three-Michelin star restaurant total to 30 — three ahead of France. Of course, these modern attractions certainly don’t take away from the popular sites that make this city famous, including the Geisha district of Gion, the Kyoto Imperial Palace and the Fushimi Inari-taisha shrine. the Ritz-Carlton, Kyoto

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CONTEMPORARY, INDIGENOUS, UNSCRIPTED

JUST LIKE SHANGHAI

When it opened two years ago, ANDAZ SHANGHAI, a Hyatt hotel, brought something unique to the city – a breath of fresh air that captured the personality of one of Asia’s most dynamic cities. In keeping with its location on the edge of the French Concession, ANDAZ SHANGHAI juxtaposes old and new, overlooking Xintiandi, where restored shikumen houses are now home to galleries, cafes and boutiques. The soul of ANDAZ SHANGHAI – the first Andaz property in Asia – is in its guests: discerning, affluent individuals who appreciate the freedom of choice that staying in one of the hotel’s 307 modern rooms affords. As well as contemporary décor, mood lighting and generously sized bathrooms, guests enjoy special privileges and complimentary amenities to make their stay at ANDAZ SHANGHAI unforgettable, including Lorenzo Villoresi bath amenities, free WiFi, unlimited local phone calls and complimentary non-alcoholic mini bar beverages and snacks. ANDAZ SHANGHAI, 88 Songshan Road, Shanghai 200021, People’s Republic of China

Tel: +86 21 2310 1234, Fax: +86 21 2310 1235 E-mail: info.shanghai@andaz.com, andazshanghai.com


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Robert De Niro backs boutique hotel in Shanghai Robert De Niro, it seems, is a man of many skills. After conquering the world of Hollywood and becoming a dominating presence on the restaurant scene (most famously with his company’s investment in chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s chain of restaurants and hotels), he is turning his attention to the Far East. De Niro has signed on as a part-investor in a series of art deco buildings along Shanghai’s Bund waterfront district, which will be turned into a boutique hotel, retail stores, a cinema and a performing arts centre in an initiative dubbed ‘Project 179’. You’ll have a bit of time to book your flights — the project is due for completion in 2016.

Anantara flexes eco credentials After opening the Anantara Angkor Resort and Spa in Cambodia late last year, owner Minor International has committed to protecting 18,000 hectares of forest in the Southern Cardamom Mountains from over-zealous development, deforestation and illegal poaching and logging. Minor’s donation, in partnership with nonprofit conservation group Wildlife Alliance, will fund the construction and management of two ranger stations that will protect a tract of land that acts as a wildlife corridor between two larger protected areas. www.minorinternational.com

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Four Seasons Hotel Sydney unveils new suites The sight of Sydney Harbour in summer is something to behold — something the team at Four Seasons Hotel Sydney is well aware of, which is why they’ve just opened a new series of harbour-view suites. Full Harbour View Junior Suites feature lounge areas, marble bathrooms and, of course, panoramic windows to take in the sights outside. Book into a suite and you’ll also get exclusive privileges including access to the Executive Club located on level 32 of the hotel. www.fourseasons.com


Americas

Happy birthday Beverly Hills From its foundation in 1914, 90210 has long been one of LA’s most exclusive and well-known postcodes. Better known as Beverly Hills, this neighbourhood has always been the place to see and be seen. It celebrates its centenary on the 28th of this month, which makes it the perfect time to visit. To kick off celebrations, five luxe hotels will be designing special celebratory suites as part of a project called ‘Suite 100’. The Beverly Hills Hotel, The Beverly Hilton, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills, Montage Beverly Hills and The Peninsula Beverly Hills will each redesign a suite to capture a moment from the last century, be it a lifestyle trend, event or celebrity of the era. Montage Beverly Hills plays homage to the film noir era of the 1940s via art deco furnishings and vintage photographs, while L’Ermitage celebrates the 1970s with a Studio 54 and Roy Halston Frowick-themed suite, complete with catwalk and Andy Warhol iPad photo booth. There are plenty of other events planned, starting with the official birthday block party on January 28, which will be followed by a concert at the Saban Theatre on Wiltshire Boulevard, featuring songs by composers who called the suburb home. Also planned are various art and photo exhibitions and a special film festival showcasing films shot in Beverly Hills or those that feature the neighbourhood in the title.

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Suite sketch, L’Ermitage Beverly Hills

The Beverly Hills Hotel

The Beverly Hilton


Americas

Baz sets his sights on Miami Beach Movie-Making duo Baz Lurhmann and costume designer wife Catherine Martin are taking a break from motion pictures to work behind the scenes at Faena Saxony Hotel, Miami Beach. The iconic hotel, located in what will soon become Faena District, comprising residential units, arts centre, shopping bazaar, public gardens and a marina, will enjoy refreshed interiors and staff uniforms, while the design duo will also curate a cultural program of events at the hotel. The project is the brainchild of Alan Faena, the man behind the Faena Hotel Buenos Aires, which breathed new life into the city’s run-down Puerto Madero neighbourhood. www.faenahotelanduniverse.com

Bahamian rhapsody

Come the the end of 2014, the Bahamas is going to be the luxury destination on everyone’s lips, thanks to the hotly anticipated Baha Mar development taking shape on the northern coast of the capital, Nassau. Dubbed the ‘Bahamian Riviera’, Baha Mar is being constructed across 400 hectares along Cable Beach and the likes of Meliá, Grand Hyatt, Mondrian and Rosewood have already signed on to manage properties there. Guests will be spoilt for choice of entertainment options, including an 18-hole, Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, an art gallery, more than 30 restaurants, clubs and bars, designer boutiques and two spas. www.bahamar.com

Mandarin Oriental toasts New York City Mandarin Oriental New York has gone all out to celebrate it’s home city, with the unveiling of a signature suite that pays tribute to the Big Apple. Suite 5000, designed by firm BBG-BBGM, takes up 3,300 square feet on the 50th floor of the hotel and features a 10-seater dining room, complete with Swarovski wall installation, and a full-sized kitchen and master bathroom. The hotel has partnered with Whitewall magazine to curate a year-long exhibition of NYC-inspired works from emerging artists, to be displayed in the suite. A collection of films featuring NYC, as well as an iPad loaded with a ‘Soundtrack of New York’, is also available for guests to listen to. www.mandarinoriental.com

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INSPIRATION HAS ARRIVED For the movers and shakers and rainmakers. For the ones who make it happen on the go and on the ground. Who accomplish great things without losing sight of the important things. For you, we’re Marriott. marriott.com


DEBUT Hot hotels | chic boutiques | exclusive resorts

© Destinations of the World News – The World Wide Web

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Imagine a resort of just 16 villas built atop a mountain just outside the town of La Fortuna, 2.5 hours from San José. That’s sure to fit the definition of secluded luxury, right? Book a stay at Nayara Springs and you’ll be met with exactly those specs. Spend your time relaxing in your breezy villa or catch some sun beside your private pool or garden while tuning into the sounds of the rainforest that surrounds you. If your sense of adventure is too strong to ignore, the staff at Nayara will help you plan day trips, from hikes to nearby Arenal Volcano, to a zip-lining experience through the rainforest and rafting along the Toro River. www.nayarasprings.com

La Fortuna, Costa Rica

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

South of the border, down Mexico way is the newest addition to the Design Hotels group. Nestled in the sleepy town of Puerto Escondido, between the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre del Sur mountains in the state of Oaxaca, Hotel Escondido channels coastal sophistication in a resort of just 16 traditionally designed bungalows, complete with palapa rooftops and wooden floorboards. If you’re a surfer, the best breaks are just nearby, but there’s a spa and pool lounge for those who prefer to stay on dry land. Mexico’s party atmosphere becomes known when the sun goes down, notably at the hotel’s underground bar. www.designhotels.com

Nayara Springs

Hotel Escondido All eyes will be on the Russian city of Sochi next month for the Winter Olympic Games. To meet the expected crowds set to descend on the area, a slew of hotels are opening in time for the global event. Pullman Sochi is the latest addition to the Pullman pedigree, a hotel of 150 rooms decorated — appropriately — in white and beige. If you’re feeling inspired by the Olympians, visit the wellness centre and the pool on the 16th floor. Although you won’t get a gold medal for your achievement, you can reward your efforts at Mediterranean restaurant Sel Marin before enjoying a drink at the hotel’s stylish O Bar. www.pullmanhotels.com

Sochi, Russia

Pullman Sochi Center

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January 2014

In the resort capital of Nusa Dua is this latest establishment to join the resort enclave, located 40 kilometres from the capital, Denpasar. Stay in one of 415 rooms, including 39 suites and 17 villas, which range from onebedroom pool villas to the ultra-luxe 420-square-metre Presidential Villa. Standard rooms are stocked with Lanvin amenities in the bathrooms, while suites and villas feature products from Hermès. Also on site is a PanAsian restaurant, Kwee Zeen, with more dining options and a state-ofthe-art spa and fitness centre to be opened in the near future. www.sofitel.com

Bali, Indonesia

Phuket, Thailand

A sanctuary on Phuket’s western coast along Layan Beach, Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa is a slice of tranquillity on a coast dominated by glittering beach clubs and nightlife. You can chose between 30 rooms and suites but to go all out, book a stay in one of the 47 pool villas, which also come with private gardens, outdoor tubs and terraces. If you want to explore the area, the staff are more than happy to arrange a land or sea excursion, such as a private boat trip to Phang Nga Bay or a round of golf at Blue Canyon. If doing nothing is on the agenda, Anantara Spa beckons. www.phuket-layan.anantara.com

Sofitel Bali Nusa Dua Beach Resort

Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa

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Diary

Australian Open

January 13–26 Melbourne, Victoria

The first of the year’s four Grand Slam tournaments takes place at Melbourne Park this month, as tennis talents including last year’s men’s and women’s singles winners, Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, return to try and start the season at the top of the rankings. www.ausopen.com

St. Moritz Gourmet Festival 2014

Photo: swiss-image.ch

January 27–31 St. Moritz, Switzerland

London Art Fair

January 15–19 London, UK

Now in its 26th year, the UK’s largest contemporary art fair showcases the works of emerging and established international and local artists. More than 100 galleries across the city take part in the fair, hosting a range of events including special talks and tours. VIP packages are available, which grant ticket holders unlimited access as well as invitations to exclusive VIP events. www.londonartfair.co.uk 46

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The 20th edition of this Swiss foodie festival features more than 40 gourmet events held over five days, including caviar and seafood tastings, wine and sake sampling, and gourmet dinners prepared by guest chefs such as Wolfgang Puck, Tim Raue and Yoshihiro Takahashi. The spectacular setting of the famous Alpine resort town certainly won’t hurt the ambience, either. www.stmoritz-gourmetfestival.ch


2014 Sundance Film Festival Photo: Ben Soloman/Tennis Australia

January 16–26 Utah, USA

Mercedes-Benz Berlin Fashion Week January 14–17 Berlin, Germany

Photo: Jenny Pockley/Sarah Myerscough Gallery

It may not be as significant as the ‘big four’ fashion capitals, but Germany’s capital of cool is holding its own this month, as hundreds of local and international designers showcase their Autumn/Winter 2014 collections to the sartoriallyminded masses. Expect a week of runway shows and VIP events held across the city and at the main venue located just outside Brandenburg Gate. www.berlin.mbfashionweek.com

Tens of thousands of film aficionados and movers and shakers of the independent movie world will descend on Park City for the 30th edition of this celebration of film. The festival will premiere a host of films including Calvary, Frank and A Most Wanted Man. www.sundance.org/festival


VIP MARRAKECH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL, MOROCCO

Festival director Melita Toscan du Plantier takes us beyond the red carpet at this year’s event EVENT This 13th edition of MIFF, held from November 29 to December 7, offered a rich and varied program over nine days. Film master classes were hosted by key figures of cinema, including directors James Gray and Nicolas Winding Refn. The festival also celebrated Morocco’s young future directors and paid tribute to Scandinavian cinema — a magnificent occasion to discover some fast-growing directors. Then, of course, was the showcase of the official selection for the Golden Star prize, which had an exceptional jury with American director Martin Scorsese as its president, French actress Marion Cotillard, Turkish-German director Fatih Akin and local director and writer Narjiss Nejjar. Because it gives a unique platform for sharing and discovering Marrakech and global cinema, the Festival has become an integral part of the cultural scene in Morocco and the region.

Jemaa el-Fnaa at dusk


AMBIENCE Marrakech is an international city where Moroccan magic is expressed perfectly through awesome landscapes, unique architecture and warm-hearted inhabitants who show a great passion for the cinema — the ideal place to host a festival. Events were held in many places across the city, including the Palais des Congrès and Jemaa el-Fnaa Square, where many outdoor projections took place.

RUB SHOULDERS WITH

The jury with winners at the closing awards ceremony La Mamounia hotel Marrakech

The star-studded event hosted the who’s who of the cinema world, including Hollywood greats Martin Scorsese and Sharon Stone, Argentinian screenwriter and director Fernando Solanas, and French actress Juliette Binoche, who was honoured at the event.

AFTER DARK A special festival party took place in the Sofitel Marrakech Palais Imperial, where more than 1,200 people gathered in a very festive atmosphere with an international music programme including a pianist and a violinist.

STAY Without hesitation, the best place to stay during the event is La Mamounia Marrakech, located just outside the Medina. It is an impressive luxury hotel that attracts celebrities from all around the world.

DINE We like to go to Bô & Zin restaurant. It is located outside Marrakech, on the Route de l’Ourika, and offers a unique, warm ambiance where every detail gives a wonderful feeling of wellbeing. The menu is an exciting mix of Moroccan and Asian cuisine.

MUST-DO Come at the opening and the closing of the festival, when the best events occur, and you have the best opportunity to meet industry personalities. The redcarpet code is like any other festival of this calibre: smoking suits for men, and evening dress for the women. I also recommend visiting Jemaa el-Fnaa to watch an outdoor projection. It is an amazing place where the soul of Marrakech vibrates.

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Photo: Mikael Vojinovic

Recipe

for success


Interview

Alain Ducasse is one of the most prolific chefs in the world. Here, he talks about his first cooking experiences, his favourite travel destinations and the tricks of his trade

Photo: Pierre Monetta

Interview: Rebecca Haddad

Gourmet design Ducasse with Philippe Starck, the interior designer of IDAM restaurant in Doha

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ention the name Alain Ducasse and you’re sure to draw an intake of breath. Whether you’re a food aficionado or not, Ducasse is synonymous with gourmet gastronomy. His name twinkles with Michelin stars, from Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in London to Le Louis XV at Hôtel de Paris, Monte-Carlo. In November 2012, the Ducasse empire expanded into the Middle East, with the opening of IDAM restaurant in Doha’s Museum of Islamic Art — his 26th restaurant. But Monsieur Ducasse’s ventures don’t stop at restaurants. The Ducasse name also extends to luxury hotels and inns: La Bastide de Moustiers and l’Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle in Provence and l’Andana in Tuscany. Despite all these professional achievements (including becoming the first chef to earn three Michelin stars at restaurants in three different cities), and being one of the most revered personalities of the culinary world, Ducasse remains humble about his success. From his simple, rural upbringing to being associated with some of the world’s most luxurious destinations, Ducasse discusses the journey that brought him global success and reveals the life lessons learnt along the way with a wisdom that can only come from someone who has had years of experience at the top of his game.

Can you remember your earliest culinary memory? It dates back to my childhood on my family farm. My grandmother was cooking for the whole family and I still remember the taste of her recipes, especially the roasted chicken she used to prepare on Sundays. So, your passion for cooking formed organically from an early age? It was an early call. In my early childhood, I always dreamed of becoming either a chef, an architect or a traveller. As it turns out, I realised all the three of them: I became a chef who travels and develops restaurants. What was the first meal you cooked as a professional chef? It dates back to the mid-seventies, when I was at Michel Guérard’s [as an apprentice cook]. He let me create some of his “lean cuisine” recipes and the first one I did was a carrot cake. IDAM is your first venture in the Middle East — what made you decide on Doha and specifically the Museum of Islamic Art (MIA)? The Middle East is an exceptional region, and a representation of one of my core values, which is blending. The mixture of cultures in this region is a treasure to the creative mind.

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Ducasse by numbers 33 Michelin stars

26 Restaurants in nine countries

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Photo: Pierre monetta

Country inns – two in France and one in Italy

Photo: Pierre monetta

Photo: Pierre monetta and David bordes

Photo: David bordes

1986 The year Ducasse was offered the position of chef at Hôtel de Paris, Monte-Carlo

Feast for the senses Alain Ducasse at home in the Hostellerie de l’Abbaye de la Celle and dishes from the kitchen

Doha is a city that is growing at a fast pace and one that is quickly becoming a beacon for its celebration of tradition while maintaining the perfect balance with modernity. The MIA is a particularly special location. The height of Islam’s culture and heritage is represented through the exceptional architecture and design of the building. IDAM reflects the melting of our two regions in the 21st century. Are there any plans to expand to other cities of the Middle East sometime in the near future? Let me savour the pleasure of IDAM before thinking about something new! Where in the world was the best meal you’ve ever had? I’m not a fan of such rankings. I had a lot of memorable meals, in various places. But a great meal is not only a food matter — it’s also with whom you are sharing the meal, your mood and the moment. Tell us about your most unusual food experience. Well, I see some very unusual stuff when I go wandering on Far-Eastern open markets… One memory does come to my mind. Last year, I invited chef Da Dong to Paris for a special lunch. Chef Da Dong is a very great chef, based in Beijing. For his demonstration, he prepared geoduck. This is a mollusc found on North Pacific shores, which can weigh two or three kilos and be almost one metre long. The Chinese call it ‘elephant trunk clam’, which well reflects its size and shape.

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It is not very well known in Europe; those who knew it were making strange faces when they read the name on the menu.

What is your definition of luxury? Luxury is the abundance of time and space to give room to happiness.

Where is your favourite foodie destination? When it comes to destinations, I can tell you something: there is no country on earth that is not interesting in terms of food.

Will you be looking to open more Ducasse inns in the near future? I always keep my eyes and my ears wide open for new opportunities.

What does a typical day sound like for Alain Ducasse? What is great is that there’s nothing like a typical day. I do have a diary yet I always manage to remain as free as I can. Firstly, because you can’t have new and fresh ideas if you spend your life in meetings. Secondly, because I want to be constantly available for the unexpected. I must admit that my days are rather long; nonetheless, I am always available for the unexpected. How involved are you in the operation of your country inns in France and Italy? Like all my activities, I consider myself as an art director: I give the overall vision, the ‘editorial line’, and I check that this vision is properly put in place. In the case of the country inns, I would not necessarily speak about design, but I do hunt for antiques to furnish them. Of course, I oversee food and beverage and service as well, but my teams are the ones who are making it perfect everyday. And I visit them very regularly to be sure everything is running smoothly — and also because they are my favourite places for having a break.

You’ve no doubt clocked up quite a few frequent-flyer miles. What’s the best piece of travel advice you’ve ever received? Never organise a too-tight schedule. A traveller’s worst enemy is connections. One item you never travel without? An extra case of luggage to bring back objects I fall in love with — books on design, food or architecture, or pieces of tableware. What factor do you think is key to longevity in the cut-throat culinary world? How do you stay dynamic in the business? Trying to be trendy is the surest way to become outdated. The cuisine I make is the one I love. I make it honestly and sincerely, and I make it for my guests: they are my primary source of invention and thus fuel my dynamism. How are you planning to move the Alain Ducasse brand forward in the coming years? By transmitting knowledge. Not for the sake of putting my name forward, but because youth is where the future of cooking is. n


Destinations

The world’s most desirable locations

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Art appreciation From the lofty heights of the Duomo to the bridges that cross the Arno, Florence is an art-lover’s dream

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Three evocative postcards from the Maldives

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Cruising the Irrawaddy in Myanmar

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Panama City: where Atlantic meets Pacific

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Winter sun in the French Riviera

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Fun on and off the slopes in Verbier

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The three best art hotels in Florence


Cheval Blanc Randheli Noonu Atoll, Maldives

Kanuhura Maldives

Lhaviyani Atoll, Maldives

p o sTca r d s f ro M T h e

maldives Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Gaafu Alifu Atoll, Maldives

There are so many luxury resorts in the Maldives, the 1,200 island archipelago is running out of places to put them all. We sent three travel writers to sample three of the best and bring back their own postcards from paradise


Bask in a bastion of high design at LVMH’s Cheval Blanc Randheli

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Maldives

C h e v a l

B l a n C

R a n d h e l i

With characteristic lvMh flair, the brand-new Cheval Blanc Randheli makes first impressions count again and again Words: nick Walton

Watch the world go by from a Water Villa

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he new Cheval Blanc Randheli in the Maldives is a resort making a big name for itself. Doing so in the competitive luxury travel scene is all about making powerful impressions, not just once but at every turn. Fortunately, like the luxury goods that make up much of LVMH’s portfolio, this is something the new group hideaway has been designed to do from the ground up. First impressions begin at Malé’s bustling airport, where we’re met by greeters dressed in the resort’s signature earthy grey and cream uniforms, checked in for the 45-minute seaplane trip out to the Noonu Atoll and escorted to Cheval Blanc’s own lounge — a cool, serene space of vaulted ceilings, chic furniture and diligent staff. Cheval Blanc has taken this seaplane experience — a usually stiflingly-hot and cramped necessity to reach the remote atolls — to the next level with its own luxury, Italian calf

leather-clad Twin Otter de Havilland, which caters to just nine guests instead of the usual 17. Staff distribute bottles of chilled water (“cooling kits” and wireless headsets are still to come), and the experience is more akin to a private jet journey rather than a noisy, sweatinducing hardship. At the resort, my wife Maggie and I are met at the marina by Hanna, our Moroccan ‘experience alchemist’, who, with our majordome (butler), a rather serious young Maldivian named Nasheed, is tasked with organising the many elements of our stay, from excursions to spa treatments, to candlelit dinners. With the affluent traveller in mind, Cheval Blanc Randheli’s 45 villas are far more than just rooms in which to lay your head; they are decadent, sumptuous, intelligently-designed spaces that have a distinct residential feel to them, as if you’ve entered the private beachfront home of a world-class fashion designer. The brainchild of celebrated

architect Jean-Michel Gathy, each villa seamlessly marries contemporary interiors with its glorious surrounds. Our beachfront villa is cathedral-like, with soaring ceilings accentuated by thick rattan rafters and towering slatted doors that create three unique spaces — a spacious living room, a master bedroom and a decadent bathroom that opens onto an outdoor shower the size of a squash court. At the rear of the property is a covered dining table, ideal for in-villa barbeques. Facing the beach is an extensive private swimming pool and a shaded terrace, while to one side is another twin-share guestroom complete with a spacious bathroom and plenty of luxurious touches, from leathertopped writing desks and intimate lighting to lavish linens and signature bathroom amenities. Villas are well separated and set far from the main path through the resort ensuring absolute privacy; its takes us three days until we see another guest on ‘our’ stretch of beach.

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Maldives

If you can drag yourself from your villa, Cheval Blanc Randheli continues to surprise. You don’t typically go to remote places for world-class cuisine — you’re there to escape and sometimes seclusion comes at a culinary cost — but the LVMH resort has turned that concept on its head with a handful of truly worldclass restaurants hidden away down painted corridors and behind towering coconut groves. Breakfast, lunch and some dinners are served at White, an elegant space that blurs the lines between inside and out with plenty of glassed-off rooms, big French doors and sea views. Breakfasts here are a symphony of elegance and flavor, while the weekly al fresco barbeques are not to be missed. Beyond White Bar is another decidedly urban space, complete with fluro pink zebra prints, chic white furniture and fantastic martinis served by some of the best bar staff in the Maldives.

Then there are the eateries that work on a roster; Deelani, an open space located at the marina, serves up authentic Maldivian dishes, grilled fish and meat, and innovative pizzas and is our favourite for lunch. Diptyque — a translation of split personality — is a fun show kitchen, serving a Spanish degustation menu on one half and a Japanese tasting menu on the other. Diners peer through the kitchen at each other as the sommelier laces the encounter with chilled verdejos and warm sakes. The pièce de résistance has to be Le 1947, a world-class fine-dining restaurant that not only boasts a cigar divan and an enviable wine cellar manned by sommelier Julien Laugier, but also has a private dining experience called La Table de Partage with bespoke menus for groups. Named for Château Cheval Blanc’s most sought after grand cru, 1947 serves up modern French cuisine using timeless techniques.

When you’re not tantalising your tastebuds or hiding from the world in your sprawling villa, the Cheval Blanc Spa, located on its own island, features just six sprawling spa villas, where luxurious treatments by Guerlain are conducted by a dedicated team of therapists. There is also a comprehensive fitness centre with regular yoga sessions, entertaining spaces for both teens and tots, an addictive golf simulator, and a modern dive centre that offers everything from introduction courses through to multi-dive day excursions to local dive sites.

Stay

Villas from: US $1,300 per night (includes breakfast) Best for: Style and substance Tel: +960 301 6000

www.randheli.chevalblanc.com

Private pool and beach at your Island Villa The luxurious Cheval Blanc seaplane

Soaring ceilings and a natural palette

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all designed around where

sun, blue sky and turquoise ocean melt together

Nestled on its own 600 meters long and coconut-shaped Island in Baa Atoll in Maldives – is a friendly Resort with lush green vegetation, long sand white beaches and an adjacent surrounding coral reef. KIHAAD MALDIVES, Kihaadhufaru Island – Baa Atoll, Republic of Maldives Tel: (960) 6600024, Fax:(960)6600026, Email: reservations@kihaad.com, www.kihaadmaldives.com


Dusk casts a romantic glow across the jetty


Maldives

K a n u h u r a

M a l d i v e s

When your mind and body are in need of a break, a few days of tropical indulgence at Kanuhura Maldives are just the thing Words: Joe Mortimer

Kanuhura from the air

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y afternoon reverie is interrupted by the hum of a seaplane, which flies in low, circles the island and splashes down onto the calm waters of the lagoon a few hundred metres away. The passengers that spill out of the tiny plane are greeted by a team of staff dressed in immaculate white and cream outfits and driven down the 100-metre pier in a golf buggy, before disappearing among the fronds of palm trees that cover the island. The island is Kanuhura in the northern Lhaviyani Atoll in the Maldives, a 35-minute seaplane flight from the capital, Malé. We’ve been here for less than 24 hours, but already life has settled into a routine characterised by long

periods of indolence punctuated by lazy meals and the occasional splash in the sea. From the garden of our Beach Villa, separated from the neighbours by a tangle of tropical foliage, it is just 40 paces across powder soft white sand to the edge of the ocean. With a snorkel and face mask you can explore the underwater world just offshore, floating over the patchwork of coral and marine grasses that form a carpet of green on the bottom of the ocean and counting off the myriad marine life that dwell within. Although not huge, the beachfront villas are wonderfully thought out, with a spacious inside/outside bathroom at the rear, complete with an al-fresco shower and large stone

bathtub covered by a canopy and a drop-down rattan blind. Outside, there are two sunloungers and a palm sunshade in our little garden, which is where most afternoons are spent. (If you’re a sunset lover, ask for a villa on the western side of the island for spectacular evening views.) Our villa host attends to our every whim, bringing buckets of ice when we need them and ensuring the villa is kept spotless and sand-free, making regular visits on his tricycle. On most days, the only temptation strong enough to lure us out of the villas is the resort’s restaurants, which prove to be some of its greatest assets. Breakfast and lunch are served at Thin Rah, which has seating inside and out and serves Maldivian cuisine, grilled fish

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Maldives

and different themed dinners each night of the week. For lunch, the poolside Olive Tree restaurant serves spectacular Mediterranean fare and has its own pizza oven. I would return to Kanuhura any day of the week just for another portion of the seared tuna and lemon linguini — a fresh, light, delicious dish that’s perfect with a crisp white on a warm afternoon. In the evenings, sundowners at Araam Bar are a mesmerising affair, as we sip on Kir Royals and watch the Maldivian sun disappear below a riot of colours, before moving on to Veli Café, Kanuhura’s signature restaurant, where chef Vijay serves Asian fusion cuisine with Maldivian specialities including seafood laksa and fresh lobster. When a thunderstorm interrupts our plans one morning (lounging in the garden), we retreat to the spa — a temple of relaxation and wellbeing with lots of calming neutral colours and natural

materials. The storm clears as I relax in the semi-covered plunge pool, pre-treatment, but the sound of running water continues throughout the spa, echoing off the timber roof and soothing a work-weary mind. The beauty of a Maldives escape is that you can do as much or as little as you like. Despite our best intentions, we opt to do the latter, but I do find time to go out on a sunset fishing trip one evening. Motoring out of the lagoon as the light fades and the sky races through violent shades of pink and purple is an unforgettable experience, the sky proving much more eventful than the fishing. When the last of the light has gone, the little fishing boat bobs around in silence, a pool of light from the covered cabin spilling out onto the placid water. Eventually I land a modestly sized white snapper, which is immediately bagged and tagged.

The next day, the chef prepares the fish for lunch, which is served in a shady grove on Jehunuhura — a tiny private island adjacent to Kanuhura with a small restaurant and plenty of sun loungers tucked away among the trees along another pristine beach. The combination of fresh hand-caught fish, New Zealand sauvignon, swaying palms and endless blue skies are hypnotic. Before we know it, four days have come and gone in blissful tranquillity, and we walk back down the long pier to board the seaplane that will transport us back to reality. Indolence is bliss.

Stay Villas from: US $600 Best for: escaping it all Tel: +960 662 00 44

www.kanuhura.com

Maldivian fusion at Veli Café

Long sunny afternoons at Araam Bar Spend a day on Jehunuhura Island

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Jumeirah Dhevanafushi is surrounded by miles of unspoilt coral reef

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Maldives

J U M E I R A H

D H E V A N A F U S H I

Indian Ocean luxury with a side of culture at Jumeirah’s flagship Maldives resort Words: Rebecca Haddad

A three-bedroom Ocean Sanctuary Villa

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unrise. I nurse a cup of vanilla bourbon tea while watching the dawn spread it’s warm glow over the ocean, the light gradually creeping its way across the sand and up behind me. A soft patter against the rocks nearby startles me. I am not as alone as I thought. A heron has perched himself nearby, standing so still that I figure he was probably here long before I arrived. If you’re traveling solo to one of the most romantic destinations on earth, company is never far away — even if it is the local wildlife. I am at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, a tiny island resort of 22 suites — plus 16 overwater villas a 10-minute boat ride offshore — in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll, a mere 64 kilometres from the equator. I’ve been here two days but island life has quickly grown on me. Within an hour of my arrival, shoes were swapped for flip-flops (the favoured choice of footwear among the staff, along with bare feet) and my hair left

to tame itself. I even decide to lose the watch — time on the island ticks by an hour ahead of Malé; the staff joke that this separate time zone only heightens the resort’s exclusivity. Prior to arrival, my knowledge of the Maldives was fairly rudimentary. I knew that it’s best known as a honeymooning paradise; an archipelago of more than a thousand islands, only about 200 of which are inhabited. For years, the biggest industries were fishing and crafts, notably laquerware, before tourism boomed and luxury hotel brands quickly snapped up islands to call their own. Outside of the resorts, few tourists venture to the local townships (bar Malé) for a taste of Maldivian traditions and down-to-earth hospitality. How on earth was I to expect anything different from reclining on a banana lounge beside an infinity pool? When you’re staying on an island so small you can walk around its heart-shaped perimeter in 10 minutes, everyone is bound

to know your name in a matter of hours, so it isn’t long before I feel like a permanent resident. As I sit by the beach and feast on a breakfast of fruit and mas huni, a traditional dish of tuna, coconut and onion, washed down with fresh lime juice and a glass of champagne (this is five-star living, after all) staff wander past to say hello, extending invitations to various activities and my schedule quickly fills up with an itinerary far beyond simply lounging by the pool. My three days go by in a haze of morning yoga sessions on the jetty with Sandra; lazy seafood lunches paired with crisp Argentinian white wine at Azara; an Island Paradise massage at the overwater Talise Spa, where therapist Maty kneads me into a state of bliss with the help of a little rose oil and the marine life swimming underneath the glass bottom panel in the treatment room. Sundowners at Khibar, where bartender Alex is more than happy to show of his mixology skills and create

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Maldives

something special, precede balmy nights at the open-air barbecue venue Mumayaz and at Pan Asian eatery Johara. With so many untouched islands, the Maldives has been a must-visit for explorers throughout history, notably Moroccan adventurer Ibn Battuta, who toured around these parts in the mid 1350s. I start my own exploring on a smaller scale, snorkelling with turtles around the island’s reef, speckled with sunlight and home to fish you’d normally have to visit an aquarium to see. Dhevanafushi also owns a neighboring uninhabited island, where you can arrange to spend an afternoon snorkelling and enjoying a private picnic. Trips can also be scheduled to nearby inhabited islands where life continues as it has for centuries. These small communities are where many of the resort’s staff call home — listening to their stories, I discover a side

of Maldivian life few tourists hear about, let alone encounter. Despite all that there is to do, doing nothing at all is also a must, and my Island Revive villa (one of five) is more than adequately prepared for that. It harks back to tradition in design but is no means modest: 306 square meters of space divided into two thatched bures. One houses a bedroom and bathroom, both very generous in size and the latter featuring an oversized sunken tub and Hermès amenities, while the second is a lounge and second smaller bathroom; the second bure can be converted into another bedroom if you are travelling with a large party. An alfresco dining and bar area and very decent-sized pool are located in the centre of the complex, while elsewhere you will find an outdoor rain shower, private garden and direct access to the glistening ocean.

As I’ve left my organisational and decisionmaking skills at home, I trust my personal butler and proud Maldivian Arafath with all the job, a duty he takes on with gusto, scheduling daily activities and arranging surprises in my villa, such as a bubble bath and champagne on ice on my second night, which makes a great excuse to toast this small slice of paradise. Saying goodbye to a place you feel so settled in is tough, but I feel that is what the Maldives is about: arrive as a stranger, leave as a dear friend.

Stay Villas from: US $1,832 per night Best for: cultural luxury Tel: +960 682 8800

www.jumeirah.com

Endless ocean from the pool outside Johara Fresh seafood at Azara

Secluded beachfront dining at Mumayaz

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enter another world Soneva Fushi is the original desert island hideaway – the resort that set the tone and the standard for every subsequent resort in the Maldives. This Indian Ocean jewel has perfect beaches, a vibrant reef encircling the island, a colony of nesting turtles and its own world class observatory. Let us create your perfect moment.

Kunfunadhoo Island, Baa Atoll, Republic of Maldives, T: +960 660 0304, F: +960 660 0374 E: reservations-fushi@soneva.com, www.soneva.com


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Maldives

Ultimate island escapes Nine other stand-out Maldives resorts that will capture your imagination this year

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Velaa Private Island

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Maalfushi by COMO

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One&Only Reethi Rah

Velaa Private Island is the life’s work of entrepreneur Jiri Smejc, who fell in love with the Maldives after countless visits and created his ultimate resort. Highlights include Tavaru Tower a tall, ivory-white structure housing a teppanyaki restaurant and a vast wine cellar, and a fleet of vessels that includes a submarine, traditional Maldivian Bahtheli boats and a private yacht that can be charterd for day or overnight trips. Lap up the luxe at Cru Champagne Lounge or practice your short game at the Velaa Golf Academy by Olazabal, complete with 170 metres of greens. To end the day, indulge in the My Blend spa by Clarins.

To really escape it all, Maalfushi by COMO promises extreme escapism with more than a hint of wellbeing. COMO is synonymous with wellness and Maalfushi doesn’t disappoint, featuring a COMO Shambhala Retreat, yoga sessions and in-house holistic health experts. Designed by Japanese architect Koichiro Ikebuchi, the resort is understated, built from natural materials including New Zealand pine with Kajan thatched roofs on the 66 villas, which boast inside/outside living spaces to help guests stay in touch with nature. Divers will love the remote Thaa Atoll, which is rich in marine life, including whaleshark, hammerhead and manta rays.

Sprawling across one of the largest islands in the Maldives, One&Only Reethi Rah is a tropical paradise dotted with private coves and white beaches. The abundance of space is put to good use in the new three-bedroom Grand Sunset Residence, which has a 50-square-metre pool and lots of outdoor space including 2,000 metres of private beachfront. There’s a private chef, 24-hour villa host and two golf buggies for guests to use. Other highlights include The Artist Studio, with classes on everything from scrapbook making to Venetian mask decoration, and excursions on an Ambassador 55 yacht or a traditional sailing dhoni.

www.velaaprivateisland.com

www.comohotels.com

www.oneandonlyresorts.com

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Viceroy Maldives

Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa

Baros Maldives

You’ll find this hideaway in the Shaviyani Atoll, 192 kilometres from Malé. While the journey may seem a little long, your efforts are surely rewarded: 6.9 hectares of palm treeadorned island encircling a postcard-perfect lagoon await. Such seclusion makes for the ideal break to concentrate on your health and wellbeing. Spend your stay enjoying personalised spa treatments at the overwater spa, relaxed yoga sessions or energising exercise routines under the guidance of a personal trainer, floating in the private pool of your villa or gently kayaking across the calm lagoon. There are five dining venues where you can refuel, or you can choose to enjoy fresh cuisine in the privacy of your villa.

Park Hyatt’s contemporary design has been transported to the Indian Ocean at Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, where the design aesthetic allows the natural beauty of the island do the talking. Just 50 villas are nestled on the island and above the lagoon, which is 55 kilometres above the equator, each with lots of wood, glass and whitewashed walls. When lounging around all becomes too much, the Vidhun Spa has a range of Maldivian treatments and rituals to soothe body and mind, set in a private spa village with tropical garden and an infinity pool. Yoga classes are available in the privacy of your villa or at the end of the jetty, surrounded by the ocean.

At the heart of Maldivian cuisine you’ll find any combination of the following: coconut, spice and seafood. Baros, a short speedboat ride from Malé, is one of the oldest resorts in the Maldives, and is steeped in preserving island tradition. A week is plenty of time to stay and sample the cuisine from the resort’s five restaurants and bars, which all celebrate the culinary diversity of the region. Try fresh tuna or tiger prawns smothered in herbs and spices at The Lighthouse Restaurant or go for Asianinfluenced cuisine with lagoon views at Lime. For the ultimate dining experience, guests can also book intimate dinners on a nearby sandbank or at a neighbouring uninhabited island.

www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com

www.park.hyatt.com

www.baros.com

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Vivanta by Taj, Coral Reef

W Retreat & Spa Maldives

Niyama Maldives

Sunning yourself poolside, cocktail in hand, sounds like the ideal way to spend a holiday in the Maldives, which is why few visitors venture too far from their sun loungers. But at Vivanta by Taj, guests are given plenty of opportunities to explore the North Male Atoll. Twice a week, you can hop on a speedboat to spend an afternoon soaking up the atmosphere of Malé, home to the 400-yearold Grand Friday Mosque and buzzing markets. For a taste of rustic Maldivian life, the resort also offers excursions to the island of Hembadhu, where you can tour the fishing village and wander around fruit trees and coconut groves.

The W Hotels brand is synonymous with fresh, funky design, so naturally this resort comes with an element of spunk. Sure, you could kick back in your beachside retreat or overwater villa, but with six restaurants and lounges dotted around, the overwhelming urge to socialise takes hold. The resort gives the North Ari Atoll another claim to fame, being home to 15 Below, the only underground nightclub in the Maldives. There, tunes are mixed by the resort’s resident DJ and the cocktail menu is as colourful as the local marine life. Luckily there’s a pristine stretch of beach waiting for you the morning after.

And now for something completely different: Niyama is a modern, stylish Maldives resort that will instantly appeal to a younger, affluent clientele for whom lounging around and doing nothing is not an option. Not for long, anyway. Everything here is done with a twist: villas come with telescopes, swinging chairs and electric guitars; there’s an underwater club; the FLOAT dive centre has nippy catamarans to sail on; and the best snorkelling happens at night, when the reef comes alive. Part of the creative Per Aquum Group, Niyama will host a “Phantasy Fairytale” underwater art exhibition by artist Andreas Franke from March.

www.vivantabytaj.com

www.wretreatmaldives.com

www.peraquum.com

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Into the lIght


Orient-Express’ new river cruiser Orcaella gives well-heeled explorers a chance to delve deeper into Myanmar than ever before Words: Nick Walton


Explore

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he laughter of children cascades across the rice paddy fields and echoes off a wreathing ring of limestone cliffs, as if a pint-sized army was on the move. Their little heads eventually appear from among the tall rice reeds — near some grazing water buffalo who are completely unfazed by their presence — then run to the water’s edge, stop suddenly and stare, saucer-eyed, at our ship. I’m aboard Orient-Express’ new river cruiser Orcaella, plying the remote and rarely visited waters of the Chindwin River in northwest Myanmar, and we’ve caught a snag.

Burmese secrets The cruise will give you a rare look at Myanmar’s ancient sacred sights (top) and shy, friendly citizens (bottom) Natural beauty (opposite page) The gilded Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon Over calm waters (previous page) Orcaella glides peacefully along the Chindwin River

It’s September and the rainy season is nearly over, but tropical deluges in the mountains to the north have turned the Chindwin to a rushing, mustard-hued torrent dotted with debris. One sizable tree trunk has become entangled in our propeller, and the captain has no option but to tie up to a tree just beyond a tiny cluster of thatched homes perched beside the river, while the crew leap into the water and dislodge it. Of all the encounters on our 12 day, 1,600-kilometre river adventure, this epitomises the experience best; we’re able to stop beside a serene riverside village whose inhabitants have quite

likely never seen Westerners up close, which is what we all came here for. But it’s also the third delay of the day, on a long journey fraught with logistical and cultural calamities that truly illustrate the difficulties of introducing to new and unexplored locales the levels of luxury today’s jetset travellers demand. The village children and I enjoy a period of gazing at one another across a muddy river bank. Some board a tiny canoe for a closer look as their fathers work with the crew to dislodge a log that’s more than two metres long. With frantic waving and laughter that echoes across the darkening landscape,

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“As the sun dips low behind the peaks of the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park, home to Myanmar’s largest population of IndoChinese tigers, Captain Aung Nyein, slows Orcaella to a crawl” the debris is unblocked and we’re on our way again, fighting against the Chindwin’s strong current, bound for the town of Homalin further north. Orient-Express is no stranger to the rivers of Myanmar. The hotel and train company was among the first to operate in former Burma, identifying the thirst for new and remote destinations among its well-heeled clientele, and responding with the now iconic Road to Mandalay, a beautiful German river cruiser that calls the Irrawaddy River home. Luxurious and intimate, the Road to Mandalay has been the first foray into Myanmar for many travellers, who, despite political instability and a nearly complete lack

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of infrastructure, wanted to walk among the silk looms of Mandalay or the ancient temples of Bagan and still return for cocktails on deck at sunset. Many of the 30 or so passengers boarding the Orcaella in Mandalay five days earlier had already travelled on the Road to Mandalay and knew the Orient-Express brand well. There were French, Americans and Germans, as well as a Belgian couple and a bevy of Australians travelling as a family. Resembling a refrigerator floating on its back, what Orcaella — a short, custom-designed river cruiser with a shallow draft — lacks in aesthetics, it makes up for in intimacy, with only 25 cabins spread across three decks.

Lying in wait (above) The distinct gold of a Buddhist temple is hidden in deep green jungle as Orcaella floats past

As the sun dips low behind the peaks of the Alaungdaw Kathapa National Park, home to Myanmar’s largest population of Indo-Chinese tigers, captain Aung Nyein, a 42-year veteran of the river, slows Orcaella to a crawl and navigates the treacherous shifting sandbanks at the confluence of the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin. With the final rays of twilight we pass into the swollen river, with cocktails served on the upper sundeck and dinner prepared in the elegant dining room. Orcaella is more modern than her sister ship, with cabins that feature full height French doors allowing the warmth of the evening into the airconditioned confines of the ship.


Kanuhura Maldives

The Residence, Maldives

Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, Maldives

W Retreat & Spa - Maldives

Niyama, A Per Aquum Resort, Maldives

One&Only Reethi Rah, Maldives

FOR WORLDWIDE HOTEL RESERVATIONS REGISTER AT

WWW.DOTW.COM Real-time online booking conďŹ rmations for more than 100,000 ground services in over 7,500 cities. Net wholesale rates for hotels, resorts, apartments, villas, transfers, sightseeing tours and excursions worldwide.

FOR TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS ONLY

Taj Exotica Resort & Spa, Maldives


Explore

The dining room is dressed in warm, regal tones, with Asian art adorning the walls and comfortable chairs surrounding the dining tables. On the upper level there is an elegant cocktail lounge and library, as well as an outdoor plunge pool lined by sun loungers to the front, and another open-air lounge and cocktail bar at the rear of the ship. However, as comfortable as the confines are, there is a sense that the ship and her crew were rushed into service, with talk of stuck drawers and loose electrical fittings, lovely but poorly trained staff, missed excursions in Mandalay and lackluster menus in the restaurant.

Go with the flow (clockwise from above) Orcaella is a luxury hotel on wheels, complete with relaxing sundeck and sophisticated dining facilities

INTO THE WILD Thanboddhay Pagoda, which is crowded for a full moon celebration, is our first real chance to delve into the local culture and gaggles of curious children follow us around the orange and cream-coloured shrine and through hallowed halls pockmarked with more than 500,000 depictions of Buddha. There are more in the nearby fields of Bodhi Tataung, where more than 6,000 serene sculptures donated by the faithful, look towards a mesmerising 424-foot tall gilded Buddha on a nearby hilltop. There’s more cross-cultural curiosity when we arrive with the dawn at the

tiny village of Mokehtaw, walking on dykes between flooded paddy fields to the community hall in time to witness five young boys undertake their shinbyu, or novitiation ceremony. It’s a real community affair and everyone has turned out to hear the abbot speak and to watch as the boys’ heads are shaved and they’re wrapped in brilliant crimson robes. Many boys in Myanmar spend a period as novices — in the country it can be a year, in the city as short as a week — and it’s a very proud occasion for families and for the whole village. The young boys, no older than 10, scratch their now-bald heads and


Explore

pluck at their new robes, loving all the attention. They follow us back across the paddy fields to our ‘fast boat’, a dragonfly of a ferry that transfers guests from the Orcaella, which must continue plodding against the current to keep to schedule. Even at our glacial pace, the weather changes as we inch north, the warmth of the plains giving way to the mists of the mountains. The day after our log jams, we’re touring the lively markets of Kalewa, a trading gateway to India. It’s been raining through the night, a thick layer of mist settling over the river like whipped cream. The mud at the markets is ankle deep, but the colour

and buzz of activity make up for the weather. The Burmese are among the most welcoming people in the world — all along the river we have been greeted by singing, waving children; by shy, beaming fisherman; and even here, in this lonely outpost near the Indian border, we’re greeted with betel nut-stained smiles and offerings of fruit and thick, hand-rolled cheroots (a type of hand-rolled cigar). On another morning we walk down water buffalo tracks to the village of Maukkadaw. This is where the towering teak trees that are felled in Myanmar’s thick jungle arrive at the river to be transported downstream.

We pass a military patrol searching for poachers and massive piles of logs on our way to a local school where children in immaculately white uniforms, thick strokes of thanaka clay decorating their faces, crowd around us and pose for photos, screeching with laughter when they see themselves on the LCD screen. In Sitthaung, a tiny village of just 25 homes, we brave pelting rain and walk to school with packs of laughing children, down paddy dykes, past stilted thatch homes and around ambivalent water buffalo. The Orcaella conducts charity drives along the river and on this cruise we have the

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humbling opportunity to introduce the first electric light bulbs to the tiny settlement. Beautiful children with dark, inquisitive eyes line the walls of the single-room school as local militia leaders accept the solar panel donation, holding the light bulbs and posing with serious expressions. Finally in Homalin, the northernmost point of our itinerary, we watch Naga tribes people in traditional headwear sing and sway to a timeless dance while we sip homemade rice wine from bamboo cups, with more inquisitive children, dressed in bright red, black and yellow beads, feathers in their hair, at our feet. The singing has a beautiful, rhythmic quality and soon guests are up, joining the dancers. It’s a truly magnificent experience. The itinerary is long, with eight afternoons of cruising north and three south, but features plenty of activities; in the market town of Mawleik we ride tuktuks into the countryside, to a colonial-era mansion once owned by the Bombay Burmah Trading

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Land of gold (clockwise from above) A local child decorated in beads and facepaint; an elephant bathes after a hard morning’s work; incense boxes at a lacquer factory in Bagan

Corporation, and are greeted with glasses of champagne while the ship’s chef prepares and serves barbecued prawns and betel nut salad. The next day we ride elephants at a working elephant camp and watch as they bathe in a nearby river. There is a minor insurrection on the second-to-last day when it’s announced that, due to time constraints, we’ll only be spending three hours in Bagan, a highlight of Myanmar. The ship has struggled to keep up with the current; the logistics of boarding the fast ferry and the visits to the many villages, monasteries and markets en route has bitten into our time at the ancient temple plains and the ship’s little lobby is packed with angry passengers. Manager Win Min quickly calms fears, tweaks the itinerary and a mutiny is avoided. We spend a glorious last day exploring the ancient temples of Bagan, from regal Thatbyinnyu and Dhammayangyi to the gold-dipped Shwezigon Pagoda. We also clamber inside a few of the crumbling,

Thegoldenbook Orient-Express’ Orcaella cruises the Chindwin river in July 2014 from GBP 4,500 (US $6,900) per person, including all meals, twin share accommodation and domestic transfers. www.orient-express.com

terracotta-hued stupas and visit lacquer workshops before returning to the ship for sunset cocktails. Roads will be built, guidebooks will be written, Orcaella’s drawers and bathroom fittings will be fixed and her itineraries will be tweaked to give passengers more time exploring and a little less cruising. But, sometimes a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for the unique opportunity to play explorer in one of Asia’s most remote and emerging landscapes. n


New York

The Dolder Grand Zurich

Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur

St Regis Abu Dhabi

Mandarin Oriental London

Intercontinental Hangzhou Hotel China

FOR WORLDWIDE HOTEL RESERVATIONS REGISTER AT FOR WORLDWIDE HOTEL RESERVATIONS REGISTER AT

WWW.DOTW.COM

WWW.DOTW.COM

Real-time online booking conďŹ rmations for more than 100,000 ground services in over 7,500 cities. Net wholesale rates for hotels, resorts, apartments, villas, transfers, sightseeing tours and excursions worldwide.

FOR TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS ONLY Net wholesale rates for hotels, resorts, apartments, villas, transfers, sightseeing tours and excursions worldwide. FOR TRAVEL PROFESSIONALS ONLY.

Burj Al Arab Dubai


Panama

CITY OF GOLD Once a semi-lawless frontier town, modern Panama City is a global metropolis that draws investors and curious visitors from all over the world Words: Hal Peat


City

Two-sided city Historic architecture (above) provides a stark contrast to the contemporary luxury of Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Panama (right) Modern metropolis (previous page) Panama City’s role as a transportation and financial hub has paved its streets with gold in the form of gleaming skyscrapers and high-end hotels

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olonial, contemporary and global dimensions come together along a Pacific shoreline as you approach Panama City from its gleaming international airport. Propelling the capital of the small but dynamic Central American nation of Panama into the forefront of Latin American cities is its development as a hub for both international tourism and finance. With roots dating back as far as 1519, Panama City was originally known as “El Castillo del Oro” or “The Castle of Gold”; nowadays, the modern city reflects a newfound prosperity while retaining its historic and natural legacies. There is an almost tangible surge of energy in the air as you drive through Panama City’s downtown avenues, with construction visible everywhere you turn. The upward trajectory makes it the most high-rise of Latin capitals between São Paulo and Mexico City. That growth in density has brought with it other necessary expansion. With its established reputation as an offshore financial centre, its status as a free-trade zone and its role as a vital

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lifeline between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans through the expanded Panama Canal, Panama City has become an increasingly sophisticated global metropolis for both business and travel. Reflecting the wide spectrum of interests drawing visitors to Panama City, both the modern district and the old colonial quarter of Casco Viejo are home to a broad choice of hotels, from soaring towers to restored oldworld, boutique properties. Most of the new high-end hotels have sprung up in the Bella Vista and El Cangrejo neighbourhoods, but as well as the trendy newcomers, more well-established icons of the luxury scene, such as the recently renovated Bristol Panama, part of The Leading Hotels of the World, continue to draw discerning visitors. Chief among the newcomers making stunning architectural statements is the 70-storey Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower, which is built in the shape of a giant sail on Panama City’s waterfront. Another well-designed base for business executives and discerning


INTRODUCING

THE NEW SCENT FOR MEN


Panama Life line The Centennial Bridge is one of just two major bridges that cross the Panama Canal

spiral of opulence Inside the Miraflores Suite at the Canal House Hotel

urban travellers is the Hotel Riu Plaza Panama. This five-star, 645-room property is one of the city’s largest and has plenty of amenities, including a spa and wellness centre, extensive outdoor pool and deck areas, and a range of culinary choices at four different restaurants. Our suite on the 30th floor has an astounding view across the concrete and glass canyons of downtown toward the green edges of the countryside. Thanks to its proximity to the modern neighbourhoods of Panama City, the original colonial quarter of Casco Viejo is a viable option for luxe stays, with several recent additions to the boutique and luxury residential categories. One is the very elegant Canal House, a former colonial mansion now entirely refitted to the needs of modern travel, with interiors still richly reflecting period dÊcor and design. There are just three guestrooms and a living room, library and dining area tailored to either

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single-party or entire booking of the premises. Staff can assist with anything you need, from transportation to bookings; one recent high-profile guest was actor Daniel Craig, who found it an ideal base while he filmed parts of Quantum of Solace around the city.

CoLoniaL roots, Contemporary pLeasures For those in search of cultural or natural experiences, the wider city provides easy access on its outskirts to jungle parks filled with wildlife, plus the chance to interact with native Indian communities just a short drive from the city centre. To the north of downtown, escape into the verdant Parque Natural Metropolitano, a 265-hectare national preserve with two walking trails, home to monkeys, anteaters, deer, turtles, iguanas and a huge number of bird species. A visitors’ centre provides maps for self-guided tours.


Panama

Thegoldenbook Trump Ocean Club International Hotel & Tower Tel: +507 215 8800

www.trumphotelcollection.com

Canal House Tel: +507 228 1907

www.canalhousepanama.com

Bristol Panama Tel: +507 264 0000

www.thebristol.com

Hotel Riu Plaza Panama Tel: +507 378 9000

www.riuplaza.com

Travellers inclined to explore the nation’s legacies through the portal of a museum have a variety to choose from throughout the capital. The Panama Canal Museum, housed in the former headquarters of the French Canal Company that built the waterway, has exhibits that provide a historical account of its construction. The recently opened, Frank Gehrydesigned Museum of Biodiversity is fantastic for its abundant botanical gardens. At the Museo Antropológico Reina Torres de Araúz, you can browse Panama’s most important collections of archaeological, anthropological and ethnographic material relating to the development of Panamanian culture. For a clear observation of how the old and new have come together in the present, take a walking tour around the avenues and squares of Casco Viejo. This peninsula, adjacent to the modern city, is home to a fascinating assortment of historic and cultural landmarks, along with fine dining, entertainment and boutique hotels.

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Also well worth visiting is Panama Canal itself. This monument to human ingenuity and engineering is best viewed from the Miraflores locks. The terraces of the multi-storey Miraflores Visitors Center provide great vantage points from which to witness the Canal’s locks mechanism in action. Finally, discover the city’s Indian culture by visiting the village of the Embera Indian tribe, one of the seven existing Indian cultures in Panama. Their village is located near the base of the Chagres River, which can be reached by expert tour operators such as Rainforest Adventures. As a meeting point between North and South America, an urban terrain that encompasses both historic and contemporary aspects, and a Latin American capital with the infrastructure to attract many interests in both business and leisure travel, Panama City has so much to offer visitors. And it’s only just beginning — this is a city that seems assured of a continued future to grow as a destination of global appeal. n

A colourful history Colonial buidlings line the shore along Casco Viejo (top), the historic district also home to charming squares and churches including the Church and Convent of St. Francis of Assisi (above, left)


www.pAulsmith.co.uk

A new frAgrAnce for women


Night & dAy

Even in the winter, Cannes is a star-studded, sun-dappled playground. Here’s how to spend 24 memorable hours Words: Joe Mortimer

CANNES

09.00 Arrive at Aeroport Nice Cote d’Azur (www.nice.aeroport.fr) and make your way through to the arrivals hall, where your carriage awaits. It’s a 35-minute drive to Cannes. Look out for the spectacular views of the Bay of Cannes when the road begins to descend into town. 10.00 In Cannes, it’s not about who you are, it’s about where you stay. There are a number of signature suites to choose from in the Palace hotels along Boulevard de la Croisette – the promenade that runs the length of Cannes. In the Hôtel Majestic Barrière (+33 4 92 98 77 00; www.lucienbarriere.com), the Christian Dior Suite is a fashionista’s dream, with décor in the French designer’s signature colours, arty portraits and a terrace. At the InterContinental Carlton Cannes (+33 4 93 06 40 06; www.ihg.com), the Grace Kelly suite captures the opulence of the ‘50s and the ambiance of the Med. At the recently rebranded Grand Hyatt Hotel Martinez Cannes (+33 4 93 90 12 34; www.cannesmartinez.grand.hyatt.fr), the two-bedroom Suite des Oliviers features a huge terrace complete with jacuzzi, sun loungers and lots of space to entertain.

11.00 Now you’re settled in, hit the streets – a stroll along the Croisette is a tonic for any work-weary soul. Even at this time of year, locals like to stroll the promenade arm-inarm sporting the latest Parisian winterwear and designer sunglasses, usually accompanied by a well-groomed pet. Enjoy the views of the Mediterranean and the islands of Sainte-Marguerite and SaintHonorat while you soak up the sunshine. 11.30 No visit to Cannes is complete without indulging in some retail therapy. The stores that line the Croisette are bursting with designer goods, with most of the major French brands present along this golden mile. Starting from the Martinez and walking towards the Majestic, you have large stores from Bottega Veneta, Yves Saint Laurent, Cartier, Emporio Armani, Christian Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Chanel and many more. For more affordable wares, head a few streets inland to the Rue d’Antibes, which is lined with international brands and a few independent boutiques. Don’t miss the Cannes branch of Ladurée, the Parisian creator of gourmet macaroons, chocolates and other sweet treats (79 Rue d’Antibes; +33 4 93 38 05 06; www.laduree.com).

13.00 When lunchtime approaches, you are spoiled for choice. Head to Fouquet’s in the Majestic, a formal Mediterranean brasserie with an art deco interior (+33 4 92 98 77 05). If the weather is good, take a seat outside on the poolside terrace. Try the cod and truffle parcel with fried Chanterelle mushrooms and Line Renaud spinach shoots, followed by coffee tart with cappuccino whipped cream and almond tart ice-cream. Alternatively, take your pick from one of the beachfront restaurants along the Croisette, most of which specialise in fresh fish and seafood. 14.30 Now your appetite is sated, its time to feed your mind with some art and culture. Head for the Centre d’art La Malmaison (47 boulevard de la Croisette, +33 4 97 06 44 90; www.cannes.com; closed Mondays), an 1863 mansion that was turned into a contemporary arts centre in 2000. The gallery hosts themed exhibitions and collections from individual artists. The current show is Georges Braque, la magie de l’estampe (“The magic of printmaking”) featuring 250 artworks by the French painter and sculptor, who helped define the Cubism movement in the mid-20th century.


Centre d’art La Malmaison

Grace Kelly suite, InterContinental Carlton Cannes

16.00 Take a walk through Le Suquet, Cannes’ historic old town. After passing the Palais des Festivales et des Congrès, home of the annual Cannes Film Festival, and the Vieux Port, turn right and walk uphill along cobbled lanes lined with small restaurants and shops selling bijou jewellery and souvenirs. The ruins of the old castle at the top of the hill have the best views in Cannes. On the way back, walk through Rue Meynadier, a pedestrian shopping street crammed with small boutiques selling Provençal delicacies like pâtes de fruits (sugar-coated jelly fruit sweets) and artisan chocolates, as well the famous Fromagerie Ceneri (22 rue Meynadier; +33 4 93 39 63 68; www. fromagerie-ceneri.com), which stocks a dazzling variety of pungent cheeses. 17.30 You deserve a break after all that walking. Book in for a massage or body treatment at the all-white spa in the boutique Five Seas Hotel Cannes, a member of Design Hotels (1 Rue Notre Dame; +33 4 63 36 05 05; www.five-seas-hotel-cannes.com). Services include deep tissue massage, Ayurvedic massage and — if you’ve got the time to spare — a traditional Turkish hammam treatment.

20.00 After relaxing in your suite, take your pick of venues for dinner. For formal, two-star Michelin dining, La Palme d’Or at the Hotel Martinez (reopens March 5; +33 4 92 98 74 14) is hard to beat, with meals from chef Christian Sinicropi and décor evoking the world of cinema. The menu offers fine, seasonal cuisine with a variety of taster menu options focusing on a particular ingredient served three or four ways. For a less formal setting but an equally evocative dining experience, try Restaurant l’Affable (5 Rue Lafontaine; +33 4 93 68 02 09; www.restaurant-laffable.fr) by chef JeanPaul Battaglia; a small, cosy restaurant that serves high-end cuisine at reasonable prices that’s popular among locals. 22.00 After dinner, follow the crowds. If you like to see and be seen, the lobby bars of all the hotels along the Croisette are great for a digestif, and there are plenty of wine bars and clubs along Rue du Commandant André, the road between the Croisette and Rue d’Antibes. For something a bit more glam, head to Le Bâoli (Porto Pierre Canto; +33 4 93 43 03 43; www.lebaoli.com), the infamous nightspot and beach club that draws the VIP crowds during major events.

STAY Hôtel Majestic Barrière Tel: +33 4 92 98 77 00 www.lucienbarriere.com

InterContinental Carlton Cannes Tel: +33 4 93 06 40 06 www.ihg.com

Grand Hyatt Hotel Martinez Cannes Tel: +33 4 93 90 12 34 www.cannesmartinez.grand.hyatt.fr

Five Seas Hotel Cannes Tel: +33 4 63 36 05 05 www.five-seas-hotel-cannes.com

08.00 Have a car take you back to Nice for your return flight. To make your departure that little bit more bearable, book into the airport’s VIP Lounge (entry $34), where you can sit back, unwind, and enjoy complimentary refreshments, light snacks as well as free WiFi access.

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MyCity Fraser Ewart-White, founder of luxury chalet rental firm Powder White, shares his favourite spots in one of Europe’s most glamorous ski destinations LE CarrEFour

W VErbiEr

This stunning restaurant is an institution in Verbier. The house specialty is rösti (a Swiss potato dish), or try the fillet steak cooked on a hot stone.

Enjoy the sheer luxury of the newly built W Hotel, with its ski-in location, sleek contemporary feel and great views across the Valais valley.

95 Route du Golf; +41 27 771 55 55 www.lecarrefour.ch

Rue de Médran 70; +41 27 472 88 88 www.wverbier.com

ThE Spa by VaLmonT

CabanE du monT-ForT

The Spa by Valmont is a haven in the centre of Verbier – the perfect place to relax tired legs after a day on the slopes.

You’ll find the best cheese fondue in Verbier here. It feels as though you are floating above the clouds in this traditional refuge that has been partially converted into a restaurant, with giant outside terrace perched on the side of the mountain.

Rue de la Poste; +41 27 771 34 05 www.evalmont.com

La marmoTTE

Verbier

You can find the best evening meal on the mountain at La Marmotte restaurant. They will pick you up from your chalet on a Ski-Doo and whisk you up the mountain for delicious traditional fare complete with a roaring fire.

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Mont Fort; +41 27 778 13 84 www.cabanemontfort.ch

muSiC aT hoTEL FarinET Farinet has live music every night, with a new band taking residency each week. It’s hot, noisy and sweaty, but great fun.

Les Planards; +41 27 771 68 34 www.lamarmotte-verbier.com

Place Centrale; +41 27 771 66 26 www.hotelfarinet.com

monT ForT

bar 1936

Enjoy the best view in town from the top of Mont Fort, the highest point in Verbier. At 3,329 metres, you can gaze at the surrounding mountains and see if you can spot Mont Blanc, the highest peak in Europe. Remember that you will have to ski down a very steep and bumpy black run to get down.

Stop at Bar 1936 for the best drink on the way down the mountain, a giant tepee that’s surprisingly warm with an open fire, comfy sofas and vin chaud (mulled wine) Outside there are deckchairs to catch the last of the rays on a spring afternoon.

www.verbier.ch

hEad oFF-piSTE

ChaLET piErrE oLLairE

The route that goes behind Lac des Vaux offers exhilarating skiing with stunning scenery and utter peace and tranquillity.

This huge, freestanding chalet sleeps 12 in a ski-in, ski-out location. Think roaring fire and deep sofas. +44 20 8877 88 88 www.powderwhite.com

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View from the top of mont-Fort

Powder White has a portfolio of high end ski chalets, hotels and apartments in Verbier and other resorts in Switzerland and France.

W Verbier’s welcome area Chalet pierre ollaire


Monumental Staircase at W Verbier Cabane du Mont-Fort

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Connoisseur An insider’s guide to the most luxurious hotels in the world

Villa San Michele

H

Mary Gostelow

FLORENCE

Luxury travel connoisseur

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ome to the Uffizi and the Accademia, two of the greatest art galleries in the world, Florence is a city where art is evident everywhere, from the charming squares to the frescoed walls of some of its finest hotels. Here are three memorable Florence hotels with strong art associations — perfect bases from which to embark on an artthemed tour of the city. The Ferragamo-owned Hotel Lungarno is located right on the River Arno, 100 metres from the Ponte Vecchio. It features 73 rooms and suites and is packed with some 400 artworks, including a Picasso and three pieces by Jean Cocteau. Room 109 looks out over the Arno immediately below, with Ponte Santa Trinita to your left and Ponte Vecchio on your right. You can run this loop, taking in both bridges and running up Lungarno Corsini on the opposite bank, for a scenic half-hour circuit. The hotel, run by general manager Francesco Roccato, is attached to freestanding Restaurant Borgo San Jacopo — ask to sit on one of the four tables cantilevered out over the river. Guests also have access to another Lungarno hotel, the Continentale, located across the river, which is home to a gym and spa, and a stunning celeb-packed rooftop bar called La Terrazza. www.lungarnocollection.com Four Seasons Hotel Firenze, overseen by scooter-riding general manager Patrizio Cipollini, is an amazing urban oasis of calm, only a 10-minute walk from the Duomo. Dating back to 1430, the 4.5-hectare estate was formerly the Palazzo della Gherardesca.

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Many of the 116 unique rooms are breathtaking; room 122 features impressive trompe l’oeil art (3D-style painting) and gilded walls, one showing climbing roses and birds. Oppulence continues in Il Palagio restaurant (below), where designer PierreYves Rochon has installed Murano chandeliers in various shades of grey. In summer, dine outside on the immaculate gravel next to manicured lawns tended by a team of gardeners assisted by hedgehog-like robots. The spa and gym, both in their own two-floor classical buildings, are sensational, and when the weather allows, enjoy the heated outdoor pool, which has an ogee-shaped end and grass-green tiles to match the surroundings. The hotel’s history is everywhere you go: many of the ancient trees in the gardens are extremely rare; the four-floor-high ballroom was was once a church; and the former chapel located off the lobby is now a business centre with a function room. In all public areas you come across historic sculptures, bas-reliefs and frescoes dating between the 14th and the 18th centuries. www.fourseasons.com For a country break, check into Orient-Express’ 46-room Villa San Michele. It is only a 15-minute drive up steep, winding roads on the outskirts of the city, but you feel far removed as you gaze back down at Florence, through those characteristic Italian pine trees. The property was a Franciscan monastery back in the mid-15th century, and the main building façade is attributed to Michelangelo. Ask general manager Marco Novella for a city-facing view or the three-room Limonaia villa, which comes with a plunge pool and private garden. There are plenty of excuses to stay active, be it exploring the 11 hectares of steeply terraced gardens and woods, or visiting the gym and outdoor pool. The kid’s club is found in a former 17th-century Cappellina church. A shuttle runs to the city, but many prefer to stay on site, perhaps taking cooking classes with chef Attilio di Fabrizio. Dining out on the hotel’s stone-vaulted and columned terrace and looking down to Florence, far below, is unforgettable. When you leave, be sure to turn around for a last sight of that classic façade. www.villasanmichele.orient-express.com Four Seasons Hotel Firenze


Spend it

The latest luxury products and once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences

98 Fine dining with a twist

Stop for lunch amid New Zealand’s spectacular natural landscapes on a nineday epicurean journey

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A collection of VIP The latest and travel itineraries greatest supercars

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Sail away in the Solaris 72 DH

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American Airways’ Business Class

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Jewel Suite at The Darling


Spend it

Itineraries

Passport Cruising in paradise The Maldives is made up of more than 1,000 islands, and, with only a fraction of them actually inhabited, there’s plenty of opportunity to discover untouched land. Visiting two or more of the islands at a time can be time-consuming if you’re planning to hop around by air, but why would you do that when you can cruise around aboard a chartered luxury yacht? Edmiston, a yacht sales and charter company, has just launched its latest luxury vessel, Anastasia. It’s equipped with six double cabins, including a split-level master suite, as well as four jetskis, four wave-runners, underwater scooters, fishing equipment and dive gear. When the sun sets, Anastasia becomes the ultimate party boat — the main saloon is fitted with a professional sound system and laser lights to transform the space into a private nightclub. Now all that’s left is to decide which of the Maldives’ picturesque atolls to charter. Available: now Price: from EUR 650,000 ($893,295) per week www.edmistoncompany.com

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Luxury yacht Anastasia is set for island cruising


Sip and swing in South Africa

Cruise the Maldives in style, explore Namibia from the air or join the ultimate dinner party in New Zealand — luxury itineraries to inspire your next getaway *All prices are subject to change. Please contact the listed companies for further information.

Namibia from the air

With the combination of spectacular landscapes and idyllic climate, it should come as no surprise that South Africa is home to some of the world’s most picturesque golf courses and top wineries. If golf and wine-tasting happen to be two of your favourite pursuits, then experience the best of both on an 11-day journey organised by Ker and Downey. You’ll start in wine country with a four-night stay at Le Quartier Français in Franschhoek. Take a private tour of the vineyards (with tastings, naturally) before playing two rounds of golf at Pearl Valley (designed by Jack Nicklaus) and Montagu Golf Club (pictured left). Your next three nights will be spent at Sanbona Safari Lodge in Little Karoo. As well as twice-daily game drives, you’ll also get some relaxation time in your suite and at the spa. The journey ends in Cape Town, with three nights at Ellerman House, a day tour of the Cape Peninsula and a round of golf at Steenberg Golf Estate. If you wish, you can tailor your experience to stay at different properties and add on tours that better suit your travel interests. Available: now Price: from US $6,600 per person (excluding flights) Book: info@kerdowney.com www.kerdowney.com

Experience an upscale safari in Namibia

Remote, wild and dominated by mountains and vast plains that change dramatically with the seasons, the Kunene region of north-west Namibia in southern Africa truly is a place for adventurous travellers. Such a vast area can’t be reasonably covered in detail if you’re embarking on a typical safari trip, but it can if you travel by helicopter — a Eurocopter AS 350 B3 to be exact. You will start your 13-day safari adventure at Okahirongo River Camp, working your way down to Boulders Camp Wolwedans in the NamibRand Nature Reserve, all the while discovering the wilderness and its inhabitants via activities including private cruises, quadbiking tours and safari drives, and staying in some of the area’s best accommodation. Of course, if you want to add that extra dose of VIP to your holiday, The Travel Attaché can arrange for your flights and transfers to and from Namibia on board private aircraft. Available: now Price: from AED 86,000 ($23,414) per couple Book: info@thetravelattache.com www.thetravelattache.com

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Passport

Joie de vivre in Corsica

Your private piece of paradise awaits in Corsica

The ultimate dinner party New Zealand may be best known as the extreme-sports capital of the world, but it also happens to be a food-lover’s haven. That’s something The Exclusive Travel Group has certainly noticed, inspiring the company to put together a tour across the country’s diverse gastronomic landscape. You’ll embark on your nine-day epicurean journey aboard a classic DC3 aircraft, starting in Auckland on North Island and working your way down to South Island, touring wineries and dining on gourmet fare in some truly breathtaking locations, including aboard a luxury yacht and on a glacier. You’ll also have the opportunity to stay at some of the country’s finest luxury accommodation, including Cape Kidnappers, Vintner’s Retreat and Matakauri Lodge, and have a chance to participate in a range of tour activities such as kayaking and diving. At the end of the nine days, you’re welcome to continue on your own exploration of the land of the long white cloud, be it adventure-based or more gourmet touring — a temptation that will surely be a hard one to resist. Available: now Price: from NZ$39,600 ($32,830) per person, based on 12 people travelling together Book: enquiries@exclusivelynz.com www.exclusivetravelgroup.com

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Fine dining and equally fine views at Matakauri Lodge

They say that planning a holiday is as satisfying as actually being on one, which is why we don’t think it’s too early to start looking forward to a summer escape. Villa Verde is a five-bedroom hideaway built into a hillside on the southern coast of the French island of Corsica in the Mediterranean. With a vast living room, fully-equipped kitchen, and en suite bathrooms and TVs in each of the bedrooms, the property has plenty of space for a family or group to enjoy each other’s company or seek solitude as they desire. The real drawcard here is the expansive sundeck — you’ll be hard-pressed to resist the urge to wile away your days by the enormous infinity pool. Even when you’re relaxing inside the villa, Corsica’s beauty is never far away — large bay windows look out over the sparkling blue waters of the bay to Propriano. A stay at Villa Verde also comes with a special concierge service, and the team can help you stock up on food supplies, make restaurant reservations, or book spa treatments and boat charters. Available: now Price: from GBP 638 ($1,049) per person, per week, based on 10 people sharing Book: info@sjvillas.co.uk www.sjvillas.co.uk


Barefoot luxury in the heart of the Indian Ocean - pure nature, pure Seychelles, pure Raffles...

PURE LUXURY IN THE HEART OF THE INDIAN OCEAN Raffles Praslin, Seychelles Cradled at the heart of the Seychelles, on the island of Praslin, are eighty-six architecturally exquisite villas touched by the sublime beauty of white powdered sands, ringed by opal-hued oceans and lush green hills. The ideal place to rediscover the luxury of spontaneity, Raffles Praslin is infused with Seychellois spirit and traditional Raffles service.

Meanwhile, romantics might dine in our Curieuse Seafood Restaurant, enjoy the delights of Losean, down a Praslin Sling at the Pool Bar, meet for drinks and beats in the Danzil Lounge Bar, or relax at the Takamaka Terrace for cocktails and panoramic views.

Swim, sunbathe, snorkel, sail, wind surf, walk... or just do nothing at all. Raffles Seychelles is the perfect place to escape the everyday, to explore your senses, and to reconnect - with yourself and those you love.

Alternatively, unwind in the award winning Raffles Spa - the finest in the archipelago - taking your body, mind and spirit back to a state of pure relaxation. With ocean views from the outdoor tubs, and the very best pampering in the whole of Seychelles, our spa is a destination unto itself, famous the world over.

The adventurous can explore the mystic prehistoric forest of Vallée de Mai, the magical islands of Curieuse and La Digue, and the vibrant coral beds at the Curieuse National Marine Park. In fact, even the journey to the hotel is to experience glorious, abundant, surprising nature.

Only fifteen minutes by plane or helicopter from Mahé (or a scenic forty-five minutes by boat), and a million miles from ordinary, Raffles is loved by those with an adventurous sprit and a taste for the very best.

Forbes Travel Guide’s top 10 beach resorts around the world 2012 World’s Leading Luxury Villa Resort at the World Travel Awards 2013 For more information or reservations Raffles Praslin, Seychelles – Tel +248 429 6000 Email: bookus.praslin@raffles.com www.raffles.com/praslin


ON THE ROAD Engine: 3.8-litre flat-6 twin-turbo Power: 750 bhp Torque: 960 Nm 0–100 kph: 2.8 secs Top speed: 385 kph Fuel consumption: 13.5 l/100 km CO2 emissions: 311 g/kg Origin: Dubai, UAE Cost: US $3.4 million

LYKAN HYPERSPORT

Dubbed the first Arabian hypercar, the Lykan HyperSport 2014 is unique in every way. The brainchild of W Motors, a start-up design and motor engineering company based in Beirut until it relocated to the UAE last year, the Lykan HyperSport is the result of two years’ collaboration with some of the top design, technology and engineering companies around the world. As well as impressive performance stats (it will race from 0–100 kph in 2.8 seconds), the HyperSport

features technological innovations developed in collaboration with the University of Tokyo, including a holographic touchscreen interface that will blow your mind. Just seven vehicles are planned for production. As well as owning a rare and unique piece of history, buyers will have access to 24-hour Global Elite concierge service from Quintessentially Lifestyle and will receive a special edition Cyrus Klepcys watch made exclusively for Lykan owners.


“A year ago we have seen a dream turn into reality with the launch of W Motors. Today this dream is shared with the whole world, witnessing the birth of the first Arabian Hypercar; the Lykan HyperSport is born� Ralph Debbas, CEO, W Motors

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Motoring On the roadOn the road

SRT VIPER GTS

Engine: 8.4-litre V10 Power: 640 bhp Torque: 814 Nm 0–100 kph: 3.2 secs Top speed: 331 kph Origin: Detroit, US Cost: from AED 600,000 (US $163,350)

The fifth generation Viper has big shoes to fill. The SRT Viper GTS (formerly Dodge Viper, until Dodge became SRT last year) has a monster 8.4-litre V10 engine in the mid-front, making it the most powerful of the American supercars. But as well as bragging rights, owners will enjoy a raft of new features on the 2014 model, including launch control, twomode adjustable suspension settings, improved braking system and a whopping top speed of 331 kph. The inside has also seen some refinement, with premium materials used throughout, a Harman Kardon sound system and more space than ever before, as well as a seven-inch customisable instrument cluster that provides live performance statistics to the driver, including G-force measurements and top speed performance.

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Alfred Dunhill Ltd


BEAUTY SAN - FIRENZE - ITALY

COSTUMENATIONALSCENTS.COM


On the road

Motoring

HENNESSEY VENOM GT Engine: 7.0-litre twin-turbo V8 Power: 1,244 bhp Torque: 1,566 Nm 0–300 kph: 13.63 secs Top speed: 447.4 kph Origin: Texas, US Cost: from US $1.1 million

The Hennessey Venom GT is a mutant in every way. This is what happens when you give one of the world’s most extreme tuning companies the green light to let imaginations soar. Texas-based Hennessey Performance was looking for a way to make its record-breaking Venom 1000 Twin Turbo engine go even faster when it considered putting it in a lighter car and making a few modifications. Several months of A-Team-like engineering later, the new-look Venom GT was born. With the frame of a Lotus Exige and the heart and soul of a demon, the car has since won the Guinness World Record for world’s fastest production vehicle from 0–300 kph, coming in at 13.63 seconds. One of the first buyers was Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, who ordered a roadster version with a huge sound system.

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Advertorial

maldives

luxury If you like your tropical escapes to offer a blend of luxury experiences, cultural immersion and plenty of activities then look no further – Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa, Maldives awaits. When you arrive on Villingili in the remote Addu Atoll, you are transported into a world of seclusion and privacy, where your every need has been anticipated. Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa has some of the most diverse accommodation options in the Maldives archipelago including Beach Villas with dense tropical gardens ensuring utmost privacy; Pool Villas with their own swimming pool and terrace; Water Villas perched over the turquoise lagoon; and tropical Tree House Villas three metres above the ground with panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. With over six kilometres of picturesque coastline to enjoy and nearly two kilometres of beautiful white sandy beach, Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa is one of the largest islands in the Maldives and unique in many respects. For starters, it is one of the only resorts in the Maldives that offers tours to neighbouring islands on Addu Atoll, giving guests a chance to experience life outside of the resort, with tours dedicated to farming and the islands’ fascinating history, and a chance to meet the locals. The western islands of Addu Atoll are connected by a 17-kilometre causeway, forming the largest land mass in the Maldives and presenting a perfect setting for guided bicycle tours. The waters of the Indian Ocean are too enticing not to explore and divers will relish the chance to discover the wreck of the 140-metre British Loyalty, half an hour from the resort by speedboat – one of 25 dive sites within easy reach of Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa. For less challenging underwater experiences, the house reef and snorkelling gardens are home to all manner of tropical sea life. When relaxation is your top priority, CHI, The Spa at Shangri-La

is a must. Tucked away in its own little village, the spa comprises individual treatment villas offering a range of therapies based on Chinese and Asian traditions, and there is no better start to the day than working on your yoga poses at the pavilion overlooking the ocean. If sports are more your scene, Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa does not disappoint. Home to the Maldives’ only nine-hole golf course, the resort offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience as golfers tackle the challenging island terrain, including the slopes of Mount Villingili, which is officially the highest point in the Maldives. Guests can join a daily guided tour of the 510 centimetre mountain, in which they can learn about the composition of the Maldives archipelago and receive a certificate proving they have climed its highest peak. As the only resort in the Maldives with its own private jet terminal, Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa is a natural choice for jet-setting visitors, who can fly directly from their home base to Gan International Airport in the southern half of the Maldives, which is a five-minute boat ride from the resort. If you don’t have your own jet, there’s no need to worry – the resort can arrange flights for you. Whatever your desire, Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa can deliver.

villingili island, addu atoll, republic of maldives T: (960) 689 7888 F: (960) 689 7999

www.shangri-la.com


Sail away

Length: 21.9 m (72 feet) Beam: 5.78 m Displacement: 42,000 kg Draught: 2.90 m Cost: starting from EUR 3.2 million (US $4.38 million). A “fully-loaded” model costs around EUR 4.2 million ($5.75 million) www.solarisyachts.com

72’ DH SOLARIS

Even hardcore sailors like to enjoy a few home comforts on their crosscontinental voyages. That’s the thinking behind Solaris Yachts’ 72’ DH, a sleek, modern yacht created by US designer Doug Peterson that combines state-of-the-art seafaring technology with classic design and modern luxurious interiors. A crew of just two people can navigate the seven seas in this magnificent vessel, even in heavy winds and rough seas, and a strategically positioned passenger area and deckhouse with wide panoramic windows provide respite when the day’s work is done or the weather turns ugly. In calmer moments, the 72’ DH makes an ideal leisure vessel, with a hydraulic swim platform, spacious owner’s cabin with plenty of storage and a wide saloon that sits 12 for dinner, complete with views across the deck to the ocean beyond. Every yacht is unique, built according to the specifications of individual buyers, with limitless custom options in everything from layout and finishings to communication equipment and sails.


ON THE WATER THIS MONTH LONdON BOAT SHOW

London, UK January 4–12 www.londonboatshow.com

ATLANTA BOAT SHOW

Atlanta, USA January 9–12 www.atlantaboatshow.com

TORONTO INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW Toronto, Canada January 11–19 www.torontoboatshow.com

45TH INTERNATIONAL BOAT SHOW düSSELdORf Düsseldorf, Germany January 18–26 www.boat-duesseldorf.com

SAN dIEgO SuNROAd BOAT SHOW San Diego, USA (below) January 23–26 www.bigbayboatshow.com

“A crew of just two people can navigate the seven seas in this magnificent vessel, even in heavy winds and rough seas”

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Review

In the air

One step beyond There are worse things in life than crossing the Atlantic in business class on American Airlines’ new Boeing 777-300ER, finds Rowena Marella-Daw

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ravelling in style is just as important as the destination itself, so when the opportunity arose to fly on American Airlines’ Business Class service on board a Boeing 777-300ER, the newest addition to the fleet, booking a seat seemed like a natural choice. At 11.00 am on a Wednesday morning there was a steady flow of passengers coming in and out of the spacious American Airlines Admirals Club lounge at London Heathrow’s Terminal 3. That said, it was also surprisingly quiet, a standard which many executive lounges around the world struggle to achieve. Contemporary décor, earthy tones and cosy nooks helped to create a sense of calm. A constant supply of hot and cold beverages, snacks, sandwiches, salads, hot food and dessert kept everyone happy, and there was no shortage of quality publications to read, all of which helped make the waiting time fly by. Onboard, the 1-2-1 configuration provides every passenger aisle access, and all 52 flatbed seats are positioned diagonally so they face away from the aisle for extra privacy. Each seat is 26 inches wide, has a pitch of 43 inches and stretches to a comfortable 78 inches when fully flat. I enjoyed the privacy of my window seat, which feels more like a mini suite with its own four walls. The seat can be adjusted to support the back and feet, which is particularly helpful for passengers with back problems. There is ample storage space for reading material and even a compartment with a mirror, which also comes in handy if you plan on socialising at the onboard bar. The personal Audio Video On Demand (AVOD) system has a good selection of current and classic films, although initially the screen kept freezing

(apparently a teething problem with the Panasonic Avionics eX2 system), which meant the cabin crew had to reset the system twice. A pair of Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headsets enhanced the audio-visual experience on a large screen, once the movie finally got going. The amenity kits are adequate with all the usual accoutrements. Cabin service was brisk and friendly, and each crew member addressed passengers by their name, a nice personal touch. Business and First Class passengers have the option to reserve their meals prior to the flight — I preferred to wait until I’d seen the menu. Champagne on offer was a Gosset Brut Excellence, coupled with a selection of whites: Muga Blanco (Rioja) and Sella & Mosca La Cala Vermentino (Sardinia), and reds: Hogue Genesis Syrah (Washington State) and DeLoach Vineyards Heritage Reserve Merlot (California). The crab cake with coconut curry rice salad made a light, tasty starter and, although the grilled fillet of beef caught my eye, I settled for a lighter but delightful citrus shrimp and scallop sambal, accompanied by almond jasmine rice and seasonal vegetable sauté. Dessert was either an enormous serving of traditional ice-cream sundae (vanilla ice-cream with choice of hot fudge, butterscotch or seasonal berry toppings, whipped cream and pecans) or a gourmet cheese plate. The walk-up bar in the galley served a mini buffet of tortilla-wraps, dainty desserts, fresh fruits and snacks — a good incentive for those who need to get up and stretch their legs. All in all, the slanted design of the flatbed seats is a step above the traditional front-facing layout, and provides plenty of privacy and comfort during your flight. n

The important bit Airline: American Airlines Flight: 137 Seat: 10J Aircraft: Boeing 777-300ER From: London Heathrow (LHR) To: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Departs: 02.00 pm Arrives: 05.20 pm (01:20am GMT) Flight time: 11 hrs 20 mins Cost: from US $4,342

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Suite dreams

Hello, Darling

Rebecca Haddad checks into a Jewel Suite at The Darling to sample Sydney’s party life and softer side in one place

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lot has changed in Sydney’s harbour-side suburb of Pyrmont. Tired warehouses have been repurposed as trendy office spaces, chic cafés and bars. At the centre of this renaissance is the Star, an entertainment complex of restaurants, clubs, a theatre and — my destination — The Darling hotel. Checking into a hotel located right next to a 24-hour entertainment hub does leave me concerned about whether proper R&R will be achievable, but the quiet that greets me the minute I enter the mood-lit minimalist lobby quickly silences those qualms. I should have known better — in Pyrmont, there is always more than meets the eye. After a smooth check in, I ascend to the 12th floor and walk down a similarly mood-lit corridor to my 70-square-metre Jewel Suite. As I open the door, blinds covering the floorto-ceiling windows open on cue, revealing the city and those famous harbour views. The vistas outside are quite a contrast to the scene inside — there’s something very Vegas-chic about the suite, fashioned in sleek brown, black and dark wood. A wet bar takes up the right side of the living room, martini glasses and cocktail shaker at the ready for a later hour, perhaps to be used along with the room’s Nespresso machine for some espresso martinis. Some of the wooden-clad walls

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are actually hidden drawers and cupboards, concealing things such as the motion-sensored minibar (if an item has been removed for more than 30 seconds, you’ll be charged for it) and a wireless keyboard to use with the Samsung Smart TV set into the wall. Through a wooden sliding door, the bathroom and bedroom await. A second flatscreen TV is mounted on the wall in front of the bed, which is dressed in 100 percent Egyptian cotton sheets, while a work desk sits alongside the windows. It seems that the biggest indulgence lies in wait as I step into the oversized marble bathroom. Commanding the centre of the room is the spa bath, which I start to fill as I explore the room’s deeper caverns. Double sinks sit on either side of the doorway, stocked with Molton Brown products, while a shower (with rain shower and regular European tap) is to the left and a toilet to the right. Off to the far right is an oversized dressing room, which adds to the room’s decadence. I can’t get the spa bath to work properly (the buttons aren’t clear to navigate), but that is as far as my tech difficulties go. The suite’s lights, blinds, TV and temperature can be centrally controlled via a “Control Four” system, which, I am pleased to discover, is very user-friendly. It’s easy to wile away a day without ever leaving The Darling. There’s a sun-soaked

pool on the fifth floor, as well as a gym and spa (which also happens to be Sydney’s first hammam). The Star is home to luxury shopping from Chanel to Ferragamo and Gucci, and a variety of quality restaurant and bar offerings — I’d recommend a meal at BLACK by Ezard followed by dessert at Zumbo, which is set out like a sushi train and is the brainchild of local pâtissier extraordinaire, Adriano Zumbo. If you want to take in a show, Sydney Lyric theatre is also at the complex, but the delights of Circular Quay and Darling Harbour are a short cab ride away. The hotel’s website boasts that once you sleep on a Darling bed, you’d be reluctant to leave. When my alarm goes off and the blinds open on cue next morning, I realise how true it is. Were it not for my busy work schedule and the invitingly cloudless day outside, I would have been tempted to request a late check-out — or another night. n

The important bit What: Jewel Suite 1284 Where: The Darling, Sydney Price: from AUD $829 (US $734) per night Tel: +61 2 9777 9000 www.thedarling.com.au


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Destinations of the World News - DOTWNews - January 2014 issue