QUIET LIFE IN TUSCANY Salvatore Ferragamo: life after fashion
MILAN FASHION WEEK
BLUE MOUNTAIN BLISS
See and be seen in Italy’s style capital
Australia’s Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa
24 HOURS: COLOMBO
Hotels that will win your heart
Artisan shopping in Sri Lanka
INTO THE WILD Africa’s best safari lodges
Kuala Lumpur luxe Exquisite taste and ancient tradition in the Malaysian capital
SUITE DREAMS Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair
Voyages of a lifetime
AUDI A8 L W12 The ride of your life
THE NEW FRAGRANCE
On the cover 48 Milan Fashion Week Our guide to the most stylish event of the season
58 Kuala Lumpur luxe The Malaysian metropolis has plenty of high-end appeal
66 Valentine’s stay A collection of hotels that have won our hearts
78 Colombo: 24 Hours Spend a day in Sri Lanka’s often-overlooked capital city
48 Milan’s historic buildings become popular venues for events during Fashion Week
86 In the news 24 Retrospective Winter wonderland at the St. Moritz Polo World Cup 28 Europe London Underground celebrates 150-year anniversary 30 Middle East & Africa Boutique luxury camps in Kenya 34 Asia & Oceania Asian airlines ranked safest in the world 38 Americas Record your own album at Eden Rock in St. Barths 40 Debut Hot hotels, chic boutiques and exclusive new resorts 42 Profile Salvatore Ferragamo is taking the family in a new direction
Inside 80 Diary Out and about this month? Don’t miss these events 82 Spend it Treat your loved one to something special this Valentine’s Day 84 Suite dreams Brown’s Hotel is a cosy retreat in opulent Mayfair 86 Review Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa, New South Wales 88 On the road Sometimes we’d rather keep our feet on the ground 90 Ignition Ultimate comfort behind the wheel of the Audi A8 L W12 92 Fragrance butler The scents you can’t travel without this season 96 Album Golfer Matteo Manassero selects his favourite golf courses 98 Connoisseur Three of Africa’s best luxury safari lodges dotwnews.com
Letter from the Editor There’s a loT of love in The air This monTh, and a healthy dose of passion too. When you talk about passion in the travel business, it can apply to many things: the obsession that goes into creating the perfect suite; the attention to detail that goes into serving the perfect dish in a restaurant; or it could be the thought that goes into creating the perfect moment for someone’s honeymoon. Maybe it’s the effort that goes on behind the scenes to make sure that the guest experience is an authentic one, giving visitors a true taste of the destination they are visiting and an insight into the way of life there. When I talked to salvatore ferragamo, heir to one of Italy’s most famous fashion brands, at his Tuscan wine estate il Borro last month, he was eager to tell me about the resort, which was recently accepted into the prestigious relais & Châteaux group of hotels and resorts. Salvatore was named ambassador for Relais & Châteaux for 2013, and if his passion for the other properties in the group is anywhere near as intense as his passion for Il Borro, then we will be hearing a lot more about r&C in the coming months. Read our profile interview with Salvatore on page 42. Another man who loves what he does is travel writer Robert La Bua. Robert is passionate about five-star service that goes above and beyond, and spends his life staying at the world’s best resorts, so I was keen to read his story about some of his most unforgettable hotel experiences from the past year, aiming to highlight those that achieved the ‘wow’ factor by constantly surprising and delighting guests. Find out which properties ticked all the boxes in ‘happy valentine’s stay’ on page 66. For this month’s cover story, Nick Rice spent a few days in Milan trying to get the low-down on where to be during the upcoming milan fashion Week, which runs from February 20-26. From Milan’s open piazzas and historical buildings to the city’s best five-star hotels, we have pulled together a comprehensive guide to the top places to see and be seen in italy’s fashion capital this month, while the paparazzi are going wild over the latest catwalk sensations.
Visions of Tuscany The hill-top village at Il Borro offers guests an authentic taste of Tuscan life
It’s fair to say that we love most of the things we do here at Destinations of the World News. Inside this issue, you’ll find a review of the Hellenic Suite at sir rocco forte’s Brown’s hotel in London (page 84), an account of a journey to the stunning Wolgan valley resort and spa in Australia’s Blue Mountains (page 86), and a conversation with golf pro matteo manassero, in which he shares with us his favourite golf courses around the world (page 96). We also present three luxurious safari lodges in Africa in ‘Connoisseur’ (page 98), bring you a round-up of some of the best things to do this Valentine’s Day in ‘Spend It’ (page 80) and take the new audi a8 l W12 out for a spin in ‘Ignition’ (page 88). As well as all that, we wish you a happy valentine’s Day and hope your month is as passionate as ours will be, as we put together the next issue.
Joe Mortimer Senior Editor firstname.lastname@example.org
Contributors February 2013, Issue 80
Robert La Bua
Publisher Anna Zhukov email@example.com
“I try to visit KL at least once a year. I just want to enjoy its mysterious allure.” So says Robert La Bua, for whom Malaysia’s beautiful beaches, historic towns, and unique flora and fauna are secondary to the country’s dynamic capital city. “Kuala Lumpur’s energy is positively magnetic. The city’s fine museums and excellent restaurants are supplemented by a sense of being somewhere exotic, where everything works well – and the melange of disparate cultures in one city is fascinating.” Read his report on one of Asia’s most dynamic cities on page 58.
Senior Editor Joe Mortimer firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Caitlin Cheadle email@example.com Online Editor Nicci Perides firstname.lastname@example.org Editor-at-Large Andy Round email@example.com Contributing Editor Mary Gostelow Sales Manager Andrea Tsiachtsiri firstname.lastname@example.org Art Director Kris Karacinski email@example.com Multimedia Graphics Manager Vandita Gaurang firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Gostelow is 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, plus a contributing editor of Destinations of the World News. This month, Mary gives us the lowdown on three of Africa’s hottest safari lodges (page 98) and fills us in on the latest luxury travel gossip from around the world in ‘Mary Says’ on page 29.
Deputy editor Caitlin Cheadle left her native Canada four years ago after catching the travel bug while backpacking through Europe. Since relocating to Dubai she has found herself exploring hotter climates, but despite her penchant for beaches and palm trees, she still loves a good city break. Last month she returned to one of her favourite cities, London, to try out the Hellenic Suite at Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair, which she discovered is charmingly modest about its status as the oldest hotel in the city. Read about her experience in ‘Suite Dreams’ on page 84.
United Kingdom Sales Representative David Hammond email@example.com Circulation department firstname.lastname@example.org Cover image Kuala Lumpur skyline – Massimo Borchi CORRECTION: In the January 2013 edition we wrongly attributed the photo on page 60. The photo should have been attributed to Fairmont Hotels & Resorts.
Nick Rice hit the road 15 years ago and has been living and working all over the globe ever since. Sometimes the road has been the one less travelled, sometimes the one of least resistance. Occasionally it’s been dangerous, often times exhilarating, but always rewarding. Having worked as a jaguar handler in Bolivia, an amateur sailor in the South China Sea, and a radio presenter in Havana, youthful exuberance is now tempered with a bit more caution. That said, he strongly recommends throwing caution to the wind when it comes to Milan Fashion Week – a place where bold is beautiful (page 48).
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 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
ubbed “the world’s most prestigious winter polo tournament”, the St. Moritz Polo World Cup on Snow in St. Moritz, Switzerland has grown into a glamorous event since its inception in 1985, attracting around 15,000 spectators from around the world, who flock to the ritzy winter resort in the last week of January to watch high-adrenaline polo matches by day and party by night. Taking place on the frozen surface of Lake St. Moritz, four teams featuring the world’s top polo players battled it out on ice from January 24-27, 2013, with Team Cartier taking home the coveted trophy after an intense final match against Team BMW.
hanel takes over the Grand Palais in Paris to present its latest creations at the Chanel Spring-Summer 2013 Haute Couture show on January 22, 2013. The 1900-built Grand Palais des Champs-ElysĂŠes was converted into a spectacular forest for the event, with pine and oak trees shipped in from Normandy to create a winter wonderland in the heart of the French capital. Karl Lagerfeldâ€™s haute couture creations dazzled the crowd of around 500 guests, which included celebrities, VIPs, royalty and members of the media from around the world. White, black and red proved to be the colours of the coming season, with a sometimes surreal collection of monochrome outfits, elaborate floral dresses and gothic ensembles paraded around the wooded amphitheatre setting, before Lagerfeld joined the stage with two models dressed in exquisite bridal gowns, a nod to the recent protests in the French capital over same-sex marriage.
Alfred Leete, 1927
Andre Edouard Marty, 1933
Tom Eckersley and Eric Lombers, 1935
London Underground celebrates 150 years
Alfred Leete, 1927
For a century and a half, Londoners have been spoiled for choice when it comes to getting around; London’s history has been littered with revolutionary modes of transportation that have forever changed the day-to-day lives of city-dwellers. But none have been so great as the opening 150 years ago of the first section of the London Underground, an exciting new concept that removed traffic from the busy city streets and helped commuters get around in a fraction of the time.
Travelling on the first underground service on January 9, 1863 between Paddington and Farringdon must have been a harrowing affair, as rickety carriages were pulled through tunnels by a smokebelching steam locomotive. By the end of the century, when the underground railways were electrified and the steam locomotives were removed, the London Underground dominated as the preferred mode of transport in the British capital.
This month, Transport for London and the London Transport Museum are putting on a series of events to commemorate the anniversary. The celebrations will include theatrical events at the disused Aldwych Underground station and open weekends at the Museum’s rail depot at Acton in West London, as well as the launch of a commemorative book and special journeys by restored locomotives and carriages. Convincing Londoners to use the Underground was one of the hardest tasks for the first underground railway companies, so the best advertising men and graphic artists in the world were commissioned to produce posters to convince commuters to use ‘the Tube’. Poster Art 150 – London Underground’s Greatest Designs, opens at the London Transport Museum on February 15, exhibiting 150 of the best London Underground posters, many of which are now worth tens of thousands of pounds. www.tfl.gov.uk
The latest in luxury travel
Room with a view: The Shard FoR the last 12 years, the London Eye has commanded the best views over the British capital, but the opening of The Shard means there’s a new way to view the city. ‘The View from The Shard’ is a viewing deck on the 68th, 69th and 72nd floors of the brand-new building, which, at 310 metres, has claimed the title of tallest building in Western Europe.
From the ground level, two high-speed lifts will whisk visitors up to the 68th floor. They can then make their way up to the 69th floor, where they will be treated to 360-degree views of the city that stretch out for 64 km in all directions. Up on the 72nd floor, visitors step out onto the 244metre high observation deck
for the best views in town and a close-up view of the top of master architect Renzo Piano’s building. The View also has its own soundtrack created by the London Symphony Orchestra, and images of London and famous Londoners are displayed in the ground-floor entrance and viewing decks. www.theviewfromtheshard.com
BRABUS, the luxury car customisation company best-known for its work with Mercedes-Benz, has branched out with a new division focusing on private jet interiors. BRABUS Private Aviation offers complete bespoke private jet design with finishings such as premium leather, high-quality wood or carbon fibre, or one of three signature designs inspired by some of its most successful automobile collaborations. www.brabus-aviation.com
Andrea Provvidenza, who is based in Rome, has taken the traditional loden coat and brought it to 21st-Century high fashion with his new LodenTal label. The waterproof wool cloth is woven in Austria and made into the fabulous coats in Naples. There are a variety of colours and discreet plaids, but all come with printed silk lining and hand-stitched Japanese cotton piping. www.lodental.it Costa Navarino is the most idyllic golf and beach resort in the Peloponnese, four hours from Athens. Its Navarino Icons food products, now available at the resort and also at Dean & Deluca stores, are beautifully packaged and absolutely addictive. Try the Kalamon olives and the Eleon olive oil, and a range of marmalade preserves that includes wild fig and watermelon with saffron. Try biscuits with extra virgin olive oil and sugar-free sesame seed bars with honey. Thanks to Costa Navarino’s creative genius, Marina Papatsoni, you can get a flavour of Greece, even if you don’t have time to go there yourself. www.navarinoicons.com Contrary to supposition that London has the best men’s tailors, many welldressed gents prefer heading to Paris for a bespoke suit, with fine fabrics matching highly skilled craftsmen. (Note that in Paris, shops are usually on an upper floor, as you do not want to be talking to your tailor with pedestrians on the same level.) One of the longest-established firms, Cifonelli, based on Rue Marbeuf, is particularly renowned for superb shoulder cuts. Dating back to 1880, it is now run by cousins Lorenzo and Massimo Cifonelli. www.cifonelli.com MARy GoStelow
Middle East & Africa
The Kenya collection 2013 Kenya is back in the limelight for all the right reasons this year, with a collection of new hotels and resorts opening up. At the top of the most-wanted list is the new Olare Mara Kempinski, Masai Mara, a collection of 11 luxurious tents and one honeymoon suite in the Olare Orok Conservancy, on the banks of the Ntiakitiak River. Each tent looks out over the African plains and comes with four-poster bed and free-standing bathtub. The 100 sq m honeymoon suite has its own plunge pool looking out over the resort’s hippo pool. www.kempinski.com
Aston Martin: the world is not enough The car of choice for many a gentleman, including James Bond, the Aston Martin has charmed discerning drivers for a century. As part of the British carmaker’s 100-year anniversary, the company airlifted an Aston Martin Vanquish onto the helipad of Dubai’s Burj Al Arab hotel last month. Although many promotional photo shoots and films have been shot on the iconic building’s vertigo-inducing helipad, this is the first time a car has been placed there. The event marks the beginning of a year-long celebration commemorating the centenary of the brand. www.astonmartin.com
Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri safari camp in the Motorogi Conservancy is due to open this summer, bringing 12 more luxurious all-inclusive tents to the Mara. Part of the exclusive Virgin Limited Edition hotel collection, the tents will stand on a raised platform with their own private terrace for wildlife spotting and star-gazing. www.mahalimzuri.virgin.com In the Kenyan capital, The Boma Nairobi is a five-star hotel and spa run by the Red Cross. All profits from the 148-room businessfocused hotel go back into the Kenyan Red Cross to fund humanitarian activities. www.theboma.co.ke
the new fragrance for men
News Middle title East & Africa Sectiony
Suite life in Abu Dhabi VIPs and celebrities travelling to Abu Dhabi will be fighting over the new Royal Mangroves Residence at the Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara this year. The 2,455 sq m suite, the largest in the UAE capital, occupies the top two floors of the hotel and has views of a 1.2 km stretch of mangrove forest. As well as its 10 en-suite bedrooms, the residence has an infinity pool, swim-up pool bar, and rooftop garden. Rates start from AED 55,000 (US $14,975) per night. www.abu-dhabi.anantara.com
Fashion TV struts into UAE Fashion TV is opening its first venue in the Middle East with the launch of studio f in Boulevard Jumeirah Emirates Towers. Creative space by day and ultra-trendy venue by night, studio f will host fashion events during the daytime before transforming into a restaurant/lounge when the sun goes down. The design is built around a central LED catwalk, with 40 highpowered projectors, LED walls and TV screens showing live footage from fashion events from around the world. The 30 HD cameras will allow studio f to record and broadcast footage of in-house events to Fashion TV viewers worldwide. www.fashiontv.com
The most exclusive club on The Palm
Dubai has no shortage of designer living opportunities, but high-end shared-ownership properties are harder to find. Enter Fairmont Heritage Place, The Palm, the newest addition to the companyâ€™s private residence club. The exclusive development features 10 residences on the penthouse floors of the new Fairmont The Palm, ranging in size from one-bedroom units of 1,550 sq ft to two-bedroom apartments averaging 2,400 sq ft. The residences are sold in 1/13th fractions, starting from AED 625,000 (US $170,156) creating a total of 130 memberships. Members are entitled to a three-week stay every year. www.fairmontheritageplace.com
BEAUTY SAN - FIRENZE - ITALY
Asia & & Oceania Oceania
Follow your nose Per AQUUM’s Huvafen Fushi resort in the Maldives is hosting a unique guest experience in collaboration with world renowned perfumer Nicolas Maillebiau (head perfumer to Nina Ricci for 20 years), and his daughter Isabelle, who has created fragrances for Boucheron, Celine, Dior and luxury hotels George V and Plaza Athenee in Paris. From February 9-11, guests can learn about the creation of perfume and design their own signature scent. On the final night, they will enjoy a gourmet dinner co-created by executive chef Daniel Johnson and Nicolas and Isabelle to stimulate all the senses. www.huvafenfushi.peraquum.com
“From February 9-11, guests at Huvafen Fushi can learn about the creation of perfume and design their own signature scent”
Mandarin Oriental partners with etihad Mandarin Oriental has joined forces with Etihad Guest, the loyalty programme of Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways, to give members 500 miles for each eligible stay in a room, or 800 miles for each stay in a club room or suite at any of Mandarin Oriental’s participating hotels and resorts worldwide.
Moët Hennessy to open winery in China China has become the world’s fastest growing market for fine wines, so it’s no surprise to hear that Moët Hennessy is in the process of building the Chandon Nangxia Winery. The 6,300 sq m complex will include vineyards, fermentation cellars, technical tasting rooms and a visitor centre when completed in June 2013. Costing in the region of US $5.5 million to build, the winery, located in the central north of China, will produce China-origin Methode Champenoise wine using Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc and Pinot Noir grapes. The first wines should be available by 2014. www.lvmh.com
Asian airlines lead list of world’s safest Five of the world’s top 10 safest airlines hail from Asia and Oceania, according to a study conducted by Europe’s Jet Airliner Crash Data Evaluation Centre (JACDEC). Finland’s Finnair was declared the world’s safest airline, with Air New Zealand ranking second and Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific ranking third. They were followed by Dubaibased Emirates Airline, Abu Dhabibased Etihad Airways, TAP Portugal, Taipei-based Eva Air, Hainan Airlines, Virgin Australia, and British Airways, which took tenth place.
“Five of the world’s top 10 safest airlines hail from Asia and Oceania”
JAL introduces gourmet products to first class cabins Japan Airlines is introducing Miyazaki beef to its menus as part of JAL SKYSUITE 777, the airline’s new line of inflight products and services. Miyazaki beef, recognised as the best beef in Japan, will be served in the airline’s first class meals on international routes from Tokyo to Europe and North America until March 31. The extremely tender beef is part of a menu created by Seiji Yamamoto, renowned Michelin-star chef and owner of esteemed Japanese restaurant Ryugin. www.jal.com
Photo: Relais & Chateaux
Rocking out at Eden Rock St. Barth’s
EdEn Rock St. Barth’s in the Caribbean is offering guests who stay at their opulent Villa Rockstar the chance to unleash their own inner rock star. Not only is the villa equipped with a cinema room, pool table, pink-lit pool and waterproof sofas for all your rockstar partying needs, it is also home to a recording studio with mixing desk, electric guitars and drum kit. Now, guests can even record their own tracks during their stay.
Tourists greeted by the First Family
White House tourists got a surprise last month when US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, along with their family dog Bo, greeted unsuspecting tour groups in person. Shocked visitors expecting a regular tour got the chance to shake hands and say hello to the Obamas. www.whitehouse.gov
The Rockstar Villa at Eden Rock St Barth’s starts at US $15,000 per night, with recording packages starting from US $2,575 per song for the Island Demo package. For a princely $7,240, you will also get the help of one of the resort’s music producer buddies, who have worked with the likes of Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John, Adele and Stevie Wonder, and access to backing musicians to play on your track. www.edenrockhotel.com
Good returns for Waldorf Astoria NYC Last year we reported that iconic Manhattan hotel The Waldorf Astoria New York had launched an amnesty programme in which former guests could return pilfered items anonymously. Although the programme officially ended in September, the hotel says items are still pouring in. Some are being displayed in a special exhibit at the hotel, but you can check them out online at the Waldorf Astoria’s digital archive, where you can also see original photos of the hotel’s many famous past guests. www.waldorfarchive.com
Ecuador ranked world’s top retirement haven
If you’re planning to retire abroad, you might want to consider Ecuador. For the fifth consecutive year, the South American country has been named the world’s top retirement haven by InternationalLiving.com’s Annual Global Retirement Index 2013. The index takes into account factors including real estate, the price of groceries, average temperature, utility costs and the friendliness of locals. Panama received the number-two slot, while Malaysia came in at third place.
TSA to remove “nude” scanners America’s Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is discontinuing the use of “nude” airport scanners, which produce a graphic full-body image minus clothing. The scanners were introduced in airports across America following the failed ‘underwear bombing’ incident on Christmas Day, 2009. While travellers were able to opt out of being scanned, doing so meant they were then subjected to a pat-down, a process that many felt was just as invasive. The scanners also expose travellers to a small amount of radiation, which at higher doses has been linked to cancer. All the scanners will be removed by June, according to TSA.
DEBUT Hot hotels | chic boutiques | exclusive resorts
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Contemporary, urban design is housed inside historic 19th-Century architecture, with bold interiors crafted out of natural stone, glass, stainless steel and, true to its name, mirrors. The 49 rooms and suites are equipped with spacious, spa-inspired bathrooms and fully stocked bars, with windows overlooking Kiev’s historic central district. The location of 11 Mirrors puts guests directly in the heart of buzzing Old Kiev, just steps from the beautiful National Opera House and some of the best cafes, bars, restaurants, shops and art galleries the city has to offer. www.11mirrors-hotel.com
Oslo’s first waterfront hotel, The Thief is a brand-new nine-story building sitting in a prime location on the islet of Tjuvholmen, Scandanavia’s most talked-about new urban renewal project. The ultra-modern design hotel houses 119 spacious rooms, each with balconies and stunning views of the surrounding fjord and the city. With a sleek, minimalist style throughout, The Thief is also home to a specially curated art collection of works by local Norweigian artists, as well as the buzz-worthy Fru K restaurant, with a focus on regional and organic ingredients. www.thethief.com
THE THIEF Located in the heart of Dubai’s iconic man-made island The Palm Jumeirah, Fairmont The Palm features 381 guestrooms and suites, including two presidential suites. Featuring a blend of modern and Arabic styles designed by award-winning firm DSA Architects International, interiors reflect the natural surroundings, with a palette influenced by sun, sand and sea, and natural materials including granite and marble. Leisure facilities include four swimming pools, a private beach club, children’s activity centre, and a variety of dining facilities with sea, garden and pool views. www.fairmont.com/palm-dubai
FAIRMONT THE PALM
Starting with a 100-year-old mansion, Malaysian owners Dato Sean H’ng and Datin Karen H’ng collaborated with Colin Seah of Singaporebased firm Ministry of Design to create a tasteful blend of old and new. Local Malaysian artwork is featured throughout the hotel’s public spaces and rooms, and each of the eight themed rooms traces a different period of the life of Colonel Norman Macalister, the first British Governor of Penang. Dining options include modern French fare at the Dining Room and local cuisine with a twist at the Living Room. www.macalistermansion.com
The beachfront Hyatt Regency is ideally positioned, with direct access to Shi Lao Ren Beach. Each of its 439 room features sea views backed by the Laoshan and Fushan mountains. The 4,520 square foot Chairman Suite has a master bedroom, dining and entertainment area, kitchen, bar, gym and massage room, plus its own ocean-view rooftop terrace. Public spaces include Chinese restaurant Dong Hai 88, with 10 luxurious private dining suites, and Qing, with eight private spa suites, four reflexology rooms and treatments inspired by traditional Chinese medicine. www.qingdao.regency.hyatt.com
HYATT REGENCY QINGDAO
Classic Tuscany The ancient Medieval Village is the oldest part of the Il Borro Estate
of change Salvatore Ferragamo might have taken a different career path to his world-famous grandfather, but he runs the family estate at Il Borro in Tuscany to the same exacting standards Words: Joe Mortimer
alvatore Ferragamo is about as unassuming as could be, considering he is an heir to one of the most successful fashion labels in the world. Speaking to me via telephone from Il Borro, the 2,000-acre family estate he runs in the Arno Valley in Tuscany, Salvatore is warm, open and unhurried as we make small talk before our interview officially begins. The weather in Tuscany is “lousy”, he tells me, but he doesn’t sound the slightest bit concerned. Perhaps it’s because he lives in one of the most picturesque corners of the world that his spirits are so high. Or maybe it’s because Il Borro has just been welcomed into the prestigious Relais & Châteaux – an exquisite collection of unique luxury hotels – and Salvatore has been named as the organisation’s Ambassador for 2013. Of course it could also be the fact that he is in charge of a vineyard that produces some 150,000 bottles of wine from the 45 hectares of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Petit Verdot grape varieties that are grown on the estate each year. Whatever the reason, Salvatore is in a fine mood and is enthusiastic to paint a picture of his treasured Il Borro before we go any further. Salvatore’s father, Ferruccio Ferragamo, president and patriarch of the Salvatore Ferragamo fashion house and family respectively, acquired Il Borro from Duke Amedeo D’Aosta in 1993, after renting the estate from him for several years. The family spent a decade and a half restoring the estate and its buildings, which had fallen into disrepair over the ages.
The main manor house, a grand threestorey Tuscan villa, was bombed during the Second World War, and the buildings that comprise the Medieval Village, on the eponymous ‘borro’ or gorge, were crumbling after years of neglect. The vineyards too were in dire need of attention before they could be replanted with the vines that now produce Il Borro’s wines: three reds, one white, a Vin Santo – Italian dessert wine – and a small amount of grappa. The estate also produces olive oil, sunflower oil and honey as part of Il Borro’s ‘agriturismo’ business, which is where it all began. Introduced by the Italian government in the 1990s, agriturismo is an initiative that grants farmers the right to restore their homes and rent them out to tourists to experience the Tuscan produce and way of life. During the renovation process, a few of the buildings at Il Borro were restored for this purpose.
Over the last half-decade, the subsequent addition of more suites, a spa and fine dining restaurants, as well as a vast array of activities including horseback riding excursions, cooking classes and mountain biking, helped the estate evolve into the luxurious resort that it is today, culminating last year in Il Borro’s admission into Relais & Châteaux. For the young Salvatore, working on the estate and “creating something from scratch” was always more appealing than joining the family business, a responsibility shouldered by his identical brother James, who is currently heading up the Women’s Leather Product department of Salvator Ferragamo S.p.A. As well as his fondness for the Tuscan countryside and way of life, logistics were also a major factor in Salvatore’s decision not to go into the fashion business: “To join the family business we have very strict guidelines on the fashion side,” he explains.
“We want our guests to come to Tuscany and enjoy our wines and our accommodation because of the quality of those products, not because they have been endorsed by the name”
“I had always wanted to start something from zero. To join the family business on the fashion side, there are only three positions available to about 25 members of the family, counting myself and my cousins. You have to have a university degree, you have to have an MBA and you need three years’ experience working for a company that is not related to the group, which is all to ensure that the top talent goes into the family business.” He continues: “I did all of my studies and all of the pre-requirements, but when the time came, I said I wanted to do something different and have that feeling of starting from zero, which is always very rewarding.” I suggest that in that sense, his start in the wine-making and hospitality business was similar to the beginnings of his grandfather, Salvatore Ferragamo, who became shoemaker to the greatest names in Hollywood soon after moving to the US in the 1920s.
But Salvatore is quick to dismiss the comparison in the most polite way possible: “Yes... but of course it is totally different,” he says. “It was much easier to set up Il Borro. My grandfather started from very humble beginnings, whereas I have had a lot of support financially speaking. But yes, indeed, it has been very challenging.” His unmistakably British diction comes from spending his formative years at an English boarding school from the age of 13, after growing up in Italy, the son of an Italian father and an English mother. He then moved to the US to study business, completing his MBA at New York University’s Stern School of Business. Salvatore admits to falling in love with New York City: “I lived there for many years – very important years when you are growing up. I had many friends there and now it is my second home.”
Lord of the manor Salvatore oversees the production of 150,000 bottles of wine per year at Il Borro’s winery
I can’t imagine a more extreme contrast to the hectic pace of New York than a tranquil and indolent life spent tending to an estate in Tuscany. The irony is not lost on him: “I am very black and white,” he laughs. “I cannot do anything in between.” Looking at images of the rolling hills of Tuscany, the endless rows of bright green vines and the charming 11th-Century houses that make up the Medieval Village at Il Borro, I can understand why he would choose the path of greater resistance over a life of catwalk shows and flashbulbs. But why, I ask him, did he choose not to use the family name when creating the wine or the estate? “We discussed it but we agreed not to use the name. We don’t believe in crossmarketing in terms of using the Ferragamo name, which we use only in the fashion business,” he explains. “We want our guests to come to Tuscany and enjoy our wines and our accommodation because of the quality of those products, not because they have been endorsed by the name.” Unsurprisingly, Il Borro attracts legions of loyal Ferragamo fans, some of whom come expecting to find suites fitted out from floor to ceiling in Ferragamo fabrics and products, as they might in some other fashion labelbranded hotels, but this was never the plan for Il Borro. “We wanted to keep the two businesses quite separate and concentrate on the style of Tuscany. We say come to Il Borro to get a taste of Tuscany – we have been very careful in our restoration not to turn it into Disneyland, but to give it a great feeling of authenticity.” And they certainly seem to have succeeded. Understated rooms in earthy colours are found throughout the villas and suites. Long wooden tables stand on red-flagstone floors with open fireplaces in kitchens and living rooms that are typical of Tuscany; freestanding bathtubs are surrounded by bare-stone walls in the bathrooms, and floral or plain cream-coloured bedrooms are home to four-poster beds and classical wooden furniture under woodenbeamed ceilings. More modern touches are found in the public areas, like the VinCafe Restaurant and the Spa and Wellness Centre, whose magnificent infinity pool looks out over the estate and the Italian countryside. The wine cellar is one of the oldest parts of the estate, and yet, in Tuscan terms, home to a very young business. The family name has helped to open doors in the highly-competitive wine business despite the fact that it is not used on the bottles, Salvatore says, but he maintains that the values that his grandfather instilled in the fashion business have been honoured in his approach to wine-making and hospitality.
A fashionable address for your fashionable week in Milan.
What does the Carlton Hotel Baglioni in Milan, the best Italian hospitality, have in common with the best Italian fashion? They are both tailor-made to fit you to perfection.
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“I think there are some similarities. The attention to the quality of the wine that we produce and our accommodation at Il Borro are true to Tuscany. They are not pretentious and they definitely fall into a kind of lifestyle which in many ways is similar to Ferragamo,” he says. “Ferragamo tends to be less high-end fashion, like some other brands in the business. It is understated; more about the quality of our products. We are comfortable and elegant.” So what does he think about other fashion brands that are currently branching out into the hospitality and food and beverage business? “I think it dilutes the name. Yes, you have a short-term [positive] effect, but in the long run, you are diluting your name. You’re taking away, if you will – putting less importance on the fashion side by doing that. And in the fashion business, and in Italy as a whole, there is nothing more important then preserving the integrity of a name.
When Ferruccio Ferragamo stepped down as chief executive in 2006 and the company opened up for foreign investment for the first time, there was a general agreement between the family and the new shareholders that the brand should remain in Italy and preserve the integrity of its roots – the roots that were planted by Salvatore Ferragamo in 1928. At the company HQ in Florence, the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum gives visitors an insight into the life of the man and the heritage of the company he created, including a current exhibition about one of his most famous customers, Marilyn Monroe. But perhaps the best legacy of the Italian shoemaker to the stars is his family; from those who are still working in the fashion business to his namesake, Salvatore Ferragamo Junior, who is now leading the family in a new direction – one that he believes upholds the heritage and values of his grandfather.
STAY Il Borro Resort, Spa and Winery Tel: +39 055 977 053 www.ilborro.com
Does the weight of such a prestigious name ever feel like a burden, I ask: “No. It has created some embarrassing moments, when people thought I was my grandfather, but otherwise I am very lucky to have been part of an incredible family history,” Salvatore says. “My grandfather started from zero and became known as the Hollywood shoemaker for the stars and from there he was able to take off and establish himself. So to carry his name for me is a great honour.” It seems the Ferragamo story is once again embarking on a new and exciting chapter. n
THE NEW SCENT FOR MEN
Milan Fashion Week is one of the most important events on the calendar for the multibillion-dollar global fashion industry. If youâ€™re visiting Italy, be sure to check out the hotspots in the iconic fashion capital WORDS: Nick Rice
Elaborate frescos cover the ceilings of the Palazzo Clerici
“The real stars of the show are often the venues where the new lines are showcased, and the details surrounding Milan Fashion Week are cloaked in as much secrecy as the yet-to-be-released new collections”
upermodels, Hollywood A-listers, rock stars, business moguls, buyers, stylists, journalists, entrepreneurs, VIPs, fashionistas – they all convene twice a year in Italy for Milan Fashion Week. From February 20-26, Milan bustles for the Autumn/ Winter 2013 women’s collection shows, arguably the most hotly anticipated launches in the international fashion calendar. The Milano Moda Donna is the main event for women’s prêt-à-porter (ready-to-wear) collections. If you’re lucky enough to be in the city, expect to rub shoulders with around 15,000 fashion professionals, 2,000 journalists, 8,000 buyers from nearly 60 countries and countless celebrities, all there to scrutinise and pour over more than 170 of the latest collections from the fashion world. However, the real stars of the show are often the venues where the new lines are showcased, and the details surrounding Milan Fashion Week are cloaked in as much secrecy as the yet-to-be-released new collections. The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) is the
organisation responsible for coordinating, protecting and promoting the image of this global heavyweight event, and whether it is shrewdly executed discretion or a last minute rush, the CNMI reveals almost nothing about Milan Fashion Week prior to it taking place. But compiled with investigative nous and some insider tips, here is our guide to the places to see and be seen during Milano Moda Donna.
THE FASHION HUB In September 2010 the CNMI moved its headquarters into the heart of Milan, a smart manoeuvre that embraced the general public and created a more inclusive feel to Fashion Week. Located quite appropriately in the central Piazza dei Mercanti, or Merchant’s Square, the CNMI is based in the Palazzo Giureconsulti. This historic palace overlooks the Duomo Cathedral and the Piazza del Duomo, which is not only the geographical centre of the city, but also its artistic, cultural and social centre point. The result is a unique liaison between the city, the visitors and the fashion industry itself.
Covering 400 square metres over four floors, the Palazzo Giureconsulti is the brains behind the whole event, coordinating visitors and professionals to ensure they get to where they want to go and need to be. Within the interior grandeur of the Palazzo Giureconsulti, a slew of event sponsors customise 80 square metres of space into slick and impressive lounges for public relations and promotional activities. There is also an information point, service centres for professionals, a publishing suite, points of sale for sponsors and a VIP lounge. The Fashion Hub is a must for an insight into the commercial aspect of the big attraction and for an overview of the event’s programme of activities. From here, a clever navigation system of red carpet zigzags visitors to other nearby locations.
CASTELLO SFORZESCO This gargantuan 14th Century castle is a major tourist attraction in its own right, being one of the biggest citadels in Europe. The grounds are home to a range of diverse museums and
Piazza del Duomo
“Constructed in 1745 by the Clerics family, the Clerici Palace is a lavish structure with ceilings painted by the famous Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo” art collections, including ceiling frescoes by Leonardo da Vinci. Within these grand walls, CNMI erects a huge marquee to house the runways and audiences for some of the big brand shows. From a roster of the world’s most prestigious fashion houses and up-and-coming new designers, expect to see some of the ‘Made in Italy’ giants such as Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Versace and Giorgio Armani to show here, alongside a raft of other highly desirable brands.
Nighttime illuminations at Palazzo Sforzesco
PALAZZO DELLA RAGIONE With vast sums of money being invested and exchanged in a notoriously capricious industry, and past incidences of models wearing anything from smashed-up garden sheds to body paint and house plants, the Palazzo della Ragione – meaning Palace of Reason – might not seem a fitting name for one of the main venues, but it is a stunning location nonetheless. Constructed as an administrative building in the 13th Century, this location in the Piazza Mercanti used to see people fighting to get in to view public hangings. Today, thankfully, the only rush to see anything hanging is restricted to the designer clothes on some of the world’s most beautiful models.
PALAZZO CLERICI Constructed in 1745 by the Clerics family, the Clerici Palace is a lavish structure with ceilings painted by the famous Venetian artist Giovanni Battista Tiepolo. At the beginning of the 19th Century this striking building became the Ministry of Treasure during Napoleon’s government. Today it serves as the Superintendence of the Environmental and Architectural Heritage of Lombardy.
Events take shape in the heart of town
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Armani Milano: one of the hottest addresses during Fashion Week
Armani lounge is a popular haunt for business and pleasure
The Testanera ‘Angel looks 2012’ cocktail party in the Palazzo Clerici
Evento Testanera in Palazzo Clerici
“The classy ambience, refined service and bird’s-eye view over the city all come together to create a distinguished experience” And – for two weeks of the year – it’s an impressive venue for some of the most dramatic shows in Fashion Week. There is no way of knowing what sartorial revelations will be featured, but renowned brands will unveil their new collections in opulent rooms filled with masterful frescoes, sparkling chandeliers and gilded mirrors.
MUSEO DEl NOVECENTO The Museum of the 20th Century is one of the few new Fashion Week venues on the event calendar. Upon its launch in December 2010, the museum instantly became a hugely important and popular institution that leads visitors through the history of Italian art during the last century. There are remarkable works by international artists such as Picasso, Kandinsky, Braque, Mondrian, Klee and Matisse, alongside the Italian greats including Amedeo Modigliani, Giorgio De Chirico, Pellizza da Volpedo, Umberto Boccioni and Carlo Carrà. As you enter the strikingly modern interior, the first treat is the iconic painting, The Fourth Estate by Pellizza da Volpedo. This large divisioniststyle piece representing striking workers is always surrounded by a crowd of people, so go
early to avoid the crowds. With its Old World masterpieces and contemporary interior, the Museo del Novecento is an apt place to see the works of fashion designers mixing the old and the new in their latest collections. Regardless of the sartorial splendour on show, make sure to visit the restaurant and bar on the top floor, where floor-to-ceiling windows frame a spectacular view of the Duomo Cathedral and square.
ARMANI HOTEl MIlANO When the day’s fashion shows are over, the hordes of visitors head to the all-important after-parties. Occupying a whole block on Via Manzoni, which forms one corner of the Quadrilatero della Moda, or quadrilateral of fashion, the Armani hotel is Milan’s premier fashion destination. Just a short walk from all the action at the Piazza del Duomo and minutes from the luxury shopping street Via Montenapoleone and the famous La Scala opera house, this hotel is the first word in contemporary sophistication. On the top floor, the Armani Ristorante offers world-class cuisine with a nod to the gastronomic traditions of Italy.
Four Seasons Hotel Milano
“This internationally acclaimed hotel is housed in a 15th-Century convent right in the heart of the luxury shopping district, surrounded by the boutiques of the most prestigious designer brands” The classy ambience, refined service and bird’s-eye view over the city all come together to create a distinguished experience. The adjacent Armani Lounge boasts the same jaw-dropping vista over the city rooftops and is illuminated by mammoth blocks of glowing yellow onyx – this is the place to go for wellheeled, after-hours partying.
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL MILANO In contrast to the modern minimalism of the Armani, the Four Seasons represents the more traditional approach. This internationally acclaimed hotel is housed in a 15th-Century convent right in the heart of the luxury shopping district, surrounded by the boutiques of the most prestigious designer brands. Stepping into the lobby by the discreet entrance on Via Gesu, the towering granite pillars and the central courtyard immediately grab your visual senses. Next, the aromas from the unpretentious Lobby Bar and La Veranda restaurant lure you in further. The oversized and immaculately curated rooms are
all cloistered around the historic courtyard to ensure a pleasant view for all, and the service is second to none. La Veranda restaurant is popular at breakfast and lunchtime for all manner of meetings and liaisons, and the bar is always entertaining. The Four Seasons Hotel Milano is intensely popular during Fashion Week, so book early for a chance to enjoy this world-class hotel.
BRERA Although not technically a venue, the district of Brera deserves inclusion in our guide as a not-to be-missed place to visit. A thriving neighbourhood of galleries, vintage and designer furniture stores, pizzerias, Art Nouveau cafés, hipster bars and bohemian hangouts, the fashion conscious throngs will fill the narrow cobbled streets of Brera morning, noon and night during Fashion Week. After taking in the new season’s collections, head here to either wind down or live it up. Whatever you’re in the mood for, there’s somewhere in Brera that’s just right. n
Thegoldenbook Armani Hotel Milano Tel: +39 02 8883 8888
Four Seasons Hotel Milano Tel: +39 02 77088
Carlton Baglioni Hotel Tel: +39 02 77077
CNMI Tel: +39 02 7771 081
Castello Sforzesco Tel: +39 02 8846 3700
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Kuala lumpur luXE living the high life in the malaysian capital WORDS: Robert La Bua
Kuala Lumpur City
hink of Kuala Lumpur and think of...that’s right, there is nothing to see or do in the capital of the Federation of Malaysia, is there? After looking at a couple of tall buildings, what else is there to do? The truth is that while the tourist masses flock to the beaches in the north to turn pink in the tropical sun, those in the know enjoy the subtle glamour of Kuala Lumpur, one of the world’s most underrated luxury holiday destinations. Kuala Lumpur doesn’t exactly leap off the page as a primary city-break destination on a par with the likes of Paris, London, or New York, yet it easily satisfies the needs of visitors accustomed to the finer things in life. Thanks to the revenue derived from petroleum and the success of ancillary businesses spawned by that industry, Malaysia has a surprisingly large upper class accustomed to the best that money can buy. Haute couture, fine automobiles, exciting cultural and sporting events – in short, whatever they wish. Overseas tertiary education is de rigueur for well-raised children who return to the country with an enhanced cosmopolitanism already in evidence in this multicultural land, further broadening the worldliness of the Malaysian elite. We can thank former Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad for making Malaysia a country with a modern infrastructure, not to mention a world-famous landmark. From the highly polished granite floors of Kuala Lumpur International Airport to the city’s iconic Petronas Towers, Malaysia exhibits a privileged level of economic success in Southeast Asia. A collection of other infrastructure projects around the country were also undertaken to supplement the high-rises in KL’s Golden Triangle, epicentre of the city’s fine restaurants, grand hotels, and deluxe shopping centres. Those shopping centres are awash in boutiques catering to customers who expect the best. Fashion trends are astutely followed by both men and women, with the offerings of
Twin Towers The Petronas Towers became a symbol of Kuala Lumpur’s prosperity when they were completed in 1994.
Sacred pilgrimage (top) The Hindu god Lord Murugan stands guard at the entrance to the Batu Caves during the festival of Thaipusam Islamic Arts (bottom) This beautiful dome sits atop the Islamic Arts Museum Malaysia in KLâ€™s Lake Gardens
Malaysian designers like Zang Toi and Edmund Ser complementing widely available international brands. Why wear Armani when bespoke clothing can be made to order for a perfect fit? Ladies with an interest in shoes may be surprised to know that famed shoe designer Jimmy Choo is from Malaysia, though these days he leaves footprints across the globe as an official tourism ambassador for his country, working towards increasing awareness of Malaysiaâ€™s growing list of attractions. Some people already know Malaysia is one of the few Asian countries to manufacture its own brand of cars; Malaysian Protons are churned out in the thousands and exported worldwide. Few people, however, know that there is a much more exclusive car made in Malaysia. Literally made-to-measure, the cars of Bufori are produced one by one, entirely by hand, by a team of dedicated artisans with a passion for automobiles. No other car in the world is created with so much attention to detail, with such meticulous skill. Bufori began as a project of Australian Gerry Khouri, who built a car for himself from the ground up as a challenge to create the exact vehicle he wanted. The finished product was so impressive that brothers and friends requested their own, and soon Gerry found himself building cars one after the other. During an auto exhibition on the idyllic Malaysian island of Langkawi, no less then Dr. Mahathir himself was so impressed with the Bufori on display that he encouraged Khouri to relocate to Malaysia and open a workshop for his cars. He did exactly that in 1990, and ever since has been making custom-made cars for those who can afford the US $130,000-$200,000 price tag, which can go much higher depending on the finishings desired by the buyer.
Kuala Lumpur City
Homegrown racer (top) Malaysia’s Bufori Motor Car Company was founded by Australian Gerry Khouri in 1990 Close encounter (left) The glasswalled garden lobby of Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur is a popular meeting place for the city’s high fliers
Even those who don’t consider themselves car enthusiasts would be impressed by Bufori. In the first step after initial consultations, the new owner is measured as if for a new suit. Every car is built to the individual measurements of the owner; the steering wheel, seat distance to pedals, even the wheelbase itself are all adjusted accordingly. The owner decides every detail, from the exterior colour(s) to the degree of softness for the armrests. The result, every time, is a beautiful machine exuding luxury that turns heads absolutely everywhere. A spin around town will reveal the real truth about Kuala Lumpur. Yes, in fact, there are sights to be seen and scenes to be sighted, not to mention excellent restaurants where the best of Southeast Asian cuisines are brought together in exquisitely prepared dishes reflecting Malaysia’s multicultural society. One of the best sights in the city is barely known to the locals.
The fine gallery of contemporary Malaysian art, owned by the Central Bank Of Malaysia (Bank Negara) is located inside the Central Bank tucked up on a hill just north of the city centre. The collection is on display at the Bank’s Muzium dan Galeri Seni in Sasana Kijang, a landmark building that is itself a work of art. This being the Central Bank, downstairs from the art museum is a museum of money, with the history of coins and currency in Malaysia presented in engaging, high-tech displays. More public art forum than gallery, the Galeri Petronas inside the KLCC shopping centre is attached to the city’s famous towers. Around Galeri Petronas are several art and antiques shops as well as high-fashion boutiques for both men and women. Also not to be missed is the Museum of Islamic Arts Malaysia, an outstanding collection of art and artefacts displayed in a beautiful building located adjacent to Kuala Lumpur’s
expansive Lake Gardens. Most notable among the collections are the scale models of the world’s most beautiful mosques. The Museum’s gift shop, no ordinary boutique, is worth a look as much as the exhibits are; the shop sells authentic works of art, not just replicas of items on display. In the general vicinity of the Museum of Islamic Arts is the architectural marvel of the old Kuala Lumpur train station, used today by Orient-Express’ superb Eastern & Oriental Express train, linking the city with Singapore to the south and Bangkok to the north. Kuala Lumpur’s most impressive spectacle of all, the entrancing Thaipusam Festival, usually takes place every year in February and attracts huge crowds of participants and spectators. Entrancing it certainly is – devotees to the deity Thai who fall into a trance are pierced with a variety of sharp objects ranging from simple safety pins to rather intimidating spikes and arrows.
“Kuala Lumpur doesn’t exactly leap off the page as a primary citybreak destination on a par with the likes of Paris, London, or New York, yet it easily satisfies the needs of visitors accustomed to the finer things in life” From thin hooks are dangled miniature jugs of milk as token offerings to the deity. The spectacle begins well before dawn and lasts throughout the day as the pilgrims head out from Kuala Lumpur to Batu Caves outside the city, where they ascend steep staircases to reach the temple of devotion. While Thaipusam is not for the fainthearted, it is undoubtedly one of the most unusual events on the world cultural calendar. To see KL’s most impressive permanent sight, head to Traders Hotel, located at Kuala Lumpur City Centre, a massive shopping and office complex that incorporates the famous Petronas Towers and is universally known as KLCC. At Traders, the best views of this modern marvel of engineering are seen from the large corner rooms ending in ‘23’ (‘the 23 series’) situated at the end of the corridor on each floor, as well as the hotel’s stunning rooftop Skybar, one of the city’s trendiest watering holes. The traditional Malaysian nasi lemak rice dish is at its best here in Traders’
Godo restaurant, while Godo Upstairs serves the best cuts of Australian beef grilled to perfection. Traders is connected via an air-conditioned, elevated walkway to the fashionable Bukit Bintang shopping/restaurant/ bar district that includes Pavilion and Starhill Gallery, two of KL’s most exclusive shopping centres. Traders’ big sister, Shangri-La Hotel Kuala Lumpur, is even more alluring. Shangri-La hotels are famous for their level of luxury and attentive service, but the company’s Kuala Lumpur property shines bright as one of the most impressive in the group’s portfolio. With Malaysian billionaire Tan Sri Robert Kuok as the hotel group’s owner, it is no surprise that Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur is considered to be something of a showpiece for the company. Rooms and suites at Shangri-La are spacious and luxurious, and the hotel’s lobby serves as Kuala Lumpur’s grand salon, where power-brokers, socialites, and the occasional mere
Sky-high city (above) Amazing views of the city from the rooftop Skybar at Traders
mortal enjoy the fine service and dense jungle vegetation on the other side of an enormous glass wall. Malaysians love good food and the Shangri-La is no place to skip meals, with two of KL’s best restaurants right in the building. Zipangu, the city’s leading Japanese restaurant, reminds customers of the depth of refinement in Japanese cuisine, while Lafite, the French restaurant now under the meticulous supervision of executive chef John Nash, exudes a sublime air of elegance and privacy, making it a perfect microcosm of Kuala Lumpur itself. n
Thegoldenbook Shangri-La Kuala Lumpur Tel: +60 3 2074 3901
Traders Hotel Kuala Lumpur Tel: +60 3 2332 9888
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Valentineâ€™s stay Our favourite hotels that give their hearts and souls to achieve perfection every day of the year WORDS: Robert La Bua
Elite Hotels Luxe
hoTel CaruSo Belvedere RAveLLo, ITALY The Amalfi coast is justly famous around the world for its spectacular scenery. While most visitors head to the beaches of Sorrento and Positano, connoisseurs of refined elegance head to the summit of the coast’s cliffs to take up residence at Hotel Caruso Belvedere, where gravity is defied along with limits of expectation in a hotel experience. Located on a promontory with some of the most impressive views in the world, the Orient-Express property occupies a former palace transformed into a gracious hotel where general manager Franco Girasoli leads a team of experienced staff who take to their work with gusto. Housekeepers bound into the room gushing with friendly enthusiasm; bellmen deliver DVDs from the hotel’s film library on a silver tray, and everyone is smiling 24 hours a day. This being southern Italy, the food is incredible. Lucky guests will be able to enjoy fresh burrata cheese from the old man who lives down the road who charmingly only makes cheese when he feels like it. If it’s not a cheese day, take solace with any of the other delicious dishes on the menu at Hotel Caruso’s Belvedere restaurant for a dinner never to be forgotten in one of the most beautiful landscapes on Earth. www.hotelcaruso.com
The ST. regiS, rome Rome, ITALY Valentine’s Day evolved to honour the martyr Saint Valentine, who was imprisoned for defying canon law and marrying soldiers who at the time were forbidden to take wives. His skull, crowned with flowers, is on display at Rome’s Basilica di Santa Maria in Cosmedin, making The Eternal City a Valentine’s Day destination made even more special with a stay at The St. Regis Rome, one of the most sophisticated hotels in the city. While the hotel’s famous lobby shows off the nation’s love of ornate décor, its top suites, – namely the Designer Suite, Bottega Veneta Suite and the Couture Suite – offer sleek accommodation in a fresh design unexpected in Italian hotels, where carved wood and ormolu are the general rule. The St. Regis is situated in an ideal spot to enjoy the sights, but remains isolated enough from the masses of Rome’s tourists in a relatively uncrowded neighbourhood. For memorable transport, make use of the hotel’s Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed, perhaps to have your beloved toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain or do a bit of shopping on the Via Veneto, which is within walking distance of The St. Regis but seems further away on the return when laden with goodies from the street’s irresistible boutiques. www.stregisrome.com
Elite Hotels Luxe
“Connoisseurs of refined elegance head to the summit of the coast’s cliffs to take up residence at Hotel Caruso Belvedere, where gravity is defied along with limits of expectation in a hotel experience” Hotel Caruso Belvedere
The St. Regis Rome
Montage Beverly Hills Hôtel des Trois Couronnes
Montage Beverly HIlls Beverly Hills, UsA
Montage exudes a sense of refinement and elegance, recalling the grandeur of an era when those secure in their wealth and position felt no need to broadcast their status to the world. Accommodation at Montage ranges from stylish rooms to expansive suites. Also expansive is the menu at Scarpetta, the west coast venue of chef extraordinaire Scott Conant, who takes culinary expertise to new heights. Atop Scarpetta is £10, Montage’s exclusive social lounge. If taking your other half shopping is part of the fun, why not go to the world’s ultimate shopping destination? Rodeo Drive is just a block away from Montage; the hotel’s in-house fashion stylist, the remarkable Joe Katz, can see to it that Montage guests enjoy a level of beyond-VIP service only available to insiders in the know. Of course, the merchandise can be brought to your special someone rather than the other way around. After a pre-arrival consultation, Katz can arrange for the closets of the suite to be stocked with clothes in the sizes and preferences required; the guest simply takes home what is liked and leaves behind what is not. On the grounds of the hotel is the flagship store of bespoke jeweller Michael Beaudry, whose one-of-a kind creations, like Montage itself, are unlike anything else in the world. www.montagebeverlyhills.com
“Located between Lausanne and Montreux in the impossibly charming town of Vevey, Trois Couronnes exists in its own rarefied world of excellence, where nothing is impossible” Hôtel des troIs Couronnes vevey, swiTzerlAnd
A jewel of a different sort is Hôtel des Trois Couronnes. Even at the highest level of hotel management, few establishments enjoy the synergy of extraordinary accommodation, refined service, and spectacular location exhibited at Trois Couronnes. Located between Lausanne and Montreux in the impossibly charming town of Vevey, Trois Couronnes exists in its own rarefied world of excellence, where nothing is impossible. Connoisseurs of fine timepieces will love a private flight arranged in partnership with retailer Lionel Meylan for a daytrip to visit a watch workshop in the Vallée de Joux, the birthplace of Swiss horology and still home to the country’s top watchmakers. Hôtel des Trois Couronnes’ suites are a home-away-from home for guests who seek domestic bliss in a property with the feel of a private mansion, which in a way it is, since the former owner, a Danish countess, still lives on the premises. Impressive as the building may be, in Vevey the spectacular views of Lake Geneva, the French Alps, and Switzerland’s Dents du Midi are the stars of the show, especially in February, when the snow-capped peaks make a stunning background for a memorable wedding proposal. Trois Couronnes, will you marry me? www.hoteltroiscouronnes.ch
Elite Hotels Luxe
the siam hotel
The Siam (see-ahm) has redefined the definition of luxury in Bangkok, where beautiful but somewhat staid properties have ruled the top of the city’s hotel rankings for years. A new-build complex located in the Dusit district near the Royal Palace, The Siam was constructed with assiduous attention to detail, a term often associated with pleasant touches to decor but not to the location of pipes and beams. And yet, that is the luxury of building from scratch and making everything perfect, from the concrete pillars to the silk pillows. The Siam’s private pool villas are individual miniworlds of luxury, with flawless decor and bathtubs big enough for two on the inside, and intimate pools, garden courtyards, and sundecks on the outside. An unforgettable experience. www.thesiamhotel.com
MaasaI Mara, kEnYa
There are many luxury safari camps springing up around Kenya these days, and few reach the echelons of style and service of andBeyond’s Bateleur Camp, an enclave of excellence located in a private conservancy on the edge of Maasai Mara National Reserve. Served by its own airstrip, Bateleur Camp is accustomed to arranging private flights for transfers from Nairobi and taking care of other such details for its guests. Daily itineraries can be created to meet exact specifications with regard to preferred safari times, dining experiences, and other activities inside and outside the camp. Often sighted among the elephants, lions, and zebra on the vast Maasai Mara plain are affluent honeymooners, who come for a trip of a lifetime. www.andbeyondafrica.com
Falkenstein Grand kempinski FrankFurt, GErManY
Frankfurt suffers from the same lack of romantic notions as Zurich, but what could be more romantic than a private dinner prepared by a Michelin-starred chef enjoyed next to a roaring fire in a historic villa of one’s own? Falkenstein Grand is a preferred hotel for power-brokers and other leaders in their fields who are regular visitors to Germany’s biggest city. The level of service knows no limits here; when a guest scouring Europe high and low in search of a hard to find piece of sheet music expressed a lack of success to a hotel employee, the item was found and delivered without delay to the guest as a surprise gift from the hotel. Watch for the upcoming unveiling of Falkenstein Grand’s new presidential suite; the former private apartment of the owner is currently being transformed into one of the most luxurious hotel suites in Europe. www.kempinski.com
2 Caption caption caption the siam Hotel, Bangkok Falkenstein Grand kempinski
Elite Hotels Luxe
Bateleur Camp, Maasai Mara
Song Saa Private lsland
Elite Hotels Luxe
One of the most romantic hotels in the world, La Mamounia emerged from a three-year renovation in 2009 in exquisite form. Accommodation, dining experiences and staff are all impeccable, as is the immaculately maintained garden. For total seclusion, take one of the three riads located in a sequestered area of the expansive grounds away from the main building. How many hotels have their own literary awards? Fitting it is, then, that La Mamounia’s lifts are lined in fine, embossed Moroccan leather like a classic book on the shelf of a distinguished library. La Mamounia’s spa is an ideal venue for a Valentine’s Day couples’ massage. www.mamounia.com
Song Saa PRiVaTE iSLanD caMbodia
Located on a private island off the coast of the Kingdom of Cambodia, Song Saa’s 27 villas, each with its own pool, constitute the inventory of this allinclusive but very exclusive destination. For lovers of fine dining, the isolated location is no hindrance to culinary excellence; food here is carefully prepared and exquisitely presented. Executive chef Neil Wager and his outstanding team in the kitchen work hard behind the scenes to make every dining experience a supreme pleasure. The main restaurant, Vista, occupies its own pavilion, accessible via an over-water walkway. Dinner under the stars – zillions of them – is a supremely romantic experience. One of the unexpected specialities of the house at Song Saa’s Driftwood beachside bar is pizza, prepared with a variety of toppings like duck, hoisin, and chorizo. For those romantics reluctant to leave the privacy of their villas, order the goods to go; the pizza will soon appear at the front door in a stylish box quilted with banana leaves. www.songsaa.com
Pavillion de Madame
PaViLLon DE MaDaME Paris, FraNce
In a city famous for love and romance, there is nothing else like the peerless Pavillon de Madame. A three-bedroom apartment with both summer and winter living rooms right on Place des Vosges? Keep dreaming...or make a enquiry about the hotel in which you are the only occupant. Though some guests prefer to emulate a residential experience with minimal contact from staff beyond the housekeeping service, any and every service can be arranged as desired; this includes a private chef to prepare meals and a private concierge to arrange transport, tours, and everything else. So discreet is Pavillon de Madame that no contact phone number is provided; after receiving the initial e-mail from a prospective guest, the owner decides whether or not the apartment is available. www.pavillondemadame.com
“So discreet is Pavillon de Madame that no contact phone number is provided; after receiving the initial e-mail from a prospective guest, the owner decides whether or not the apartment is available”
Elite Hotels Luxe
The Widder hotel
THE widdEr HoTEl Zurich, SWiTZErLAND While Lake Geneva is famous for its romantic views, few people associate Zurich with affairs of the heart. Obviously, these cognoscenti have not heard of the intimate Widder Hotel, a landmark in Swiss hospitality and high style in the city’s Old Town, and part of The Leading Hotels of the World. No expense was spared in the creation of The Widder, and the immense effort is clearly evident in the finesse displayed at every turn. Swiss designer Tilla Teus has transformed the nine houses joined to create Widder into a showcase of splendid interiors highlighting the buildings’ rich history by contrasting it with eclectic furnishings. No two rooms at Widder are alike, and the many return guests each have their favourites. For a romantic escape, Widder’s extraordinary penthouse, with its private rooftop deck reigning over all of Zurich, is the ne plus ultra of stylish accommodation in the city. The exclusive shops on Bahnhofstrasse are a block away, but for the obligatory heart-shaped box of chocolates, Widder can arrange a special Valentine’s visit to the Lindt factory in nearby Kilchberg. www.widderhotel.ch
“For a romantic escape, Widder’s extraordinary penthouse, with its private rooftop deck reigning over all of Zurich, is the ne plus ultra of stylish accommodation in the city”
Cipriani at The Istanbul EDITION is almost an exact duplicate of the original Harry’s Bar in Venice. This fashionable restaurant offers the classic Harry’s Bar menu; a mixture of unique Cipriani specialties and classic Italian favorites. Whether they are regular guests with their own tables or first time visitors, all guests are welcomed with warmth and enthusiasm in Cipriani at The Istanbul EDITION.
Located at The Istanbul EDITION’s Mezzanine Floor, the Drawing Room and a series of flexible meeting studios can accommodate a boardroom conference or more intimate business gatherings. Three individual meeting studios can be combined to create a larger, formal business venue. Additionally, our spacious yet intimate Screening Room is ideal for movie presentations and private screenings.
n urban jewel, The Istanbul EDITION is an exclusive hotel in the heart of one of the world’s most vibrant cities at the nexus of Europe and Asia. A thirteen-story tower with 77 guest rooms and a magnificent, full-floor Presidential Suite, The Istanbul EDITION serves as a sophisticated hub providing multiple venues for relaxing and entertaining including a three-story spa by ESPA, Cipriani restaurant, Gold Bar, Drawing Room and Screening Room, meeting studios, business center, special event space and the world renowned Billionaire nightclub.
Designed in collaboration with Gabellini Sheppard Associates to an exceptional standard of modern luxury, every aspect of The Istanbul EDITION is treated as an experience of the highest quality and understated elegance. Drawing on Ottoman traditions of extraordinary craftsmanship and an emphasis on comfort and wellbeing, the hotel reflects the best of Turkish culture in a thoroughly contemporary context. In a color palate of bronze and silver-gold, with extensive use of light and dark woods, the interior transitions seamlessly from public to private spaces in a sleek, harmonious environment with a warmly intimate atmosphere.
An extraordinary, 20,000 square foot, threefloor ESPA offers The Istanbul EDITION’s guests an unparalleled spa experience. A comprehensive menu of beauty and health treatments is offered in the multiple treatment rooms, which include a VIP suite decorated with patterned leather floors and smoky walls where couples can unwind in the oversize bathtub, steam shower and unique relaxation bed suspended from the ceiling. A stunning pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center completes this extraordinary experience.
Approached from the lobby, Gold Bar transports guests to an exotic, sequestered world. A cozy dark-wood interior is backed by a luminescent, twenty-foot aquarium whose tropical fish provide a dreamscape of relaxation in this intimate meeting space. The bar adjoins a comfortable seating area of deep, low sofas around a central table, inspired by the traditional Turkish tearoom.
The world-renowned Billionaire nightclub, located in the heart of The Istanbul EDITION, is one of Europe’s most exclusive clubs. The stylish atmosphere and top quality music attract the biggest names in the world of fashion, entertainment and business. Billionaire Istanbul’s layout features different levels, with see-through VIP areas offering spectacular views of the dance floor. With a décor that blends a sleek style with opulent and luxurious details, it offers its exclusive clientele the outstanding service, music and ambience that are Billionaire’s signature.
NIGHT & DAY Spend a day in the often-overlooked Sri Lankan capital and you’ll find that beneath the urban sprawl, there’s a charming and charismatic city waiting to be noticed
Words: Joe Mortimer
08.00 Land at Bandaranaike International Airport, which was named after former Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike in 1970, then re-named in 1977, then changed back again in 1995. Such is life in Sri Lanka. The journey from the airport to Colombo varies from 40 minutes to around two hours, depending on the traffic. A new highway will reduce the journey time to less than half an hour when it is completed later this year. 10.00 Check in at Casa Colombo, an incredibly stylish boutique hotel in a 200-year-old Moorish mansion which was painstakingly renovated and reopened in 2006 as a hotel (www.casacolombo.com; +94 114 520 130). 11.00 To get your bearings, take a tuk-tuk down to the Galle Face Green in front of the historic Galle Face Hotel, which is a popular place for a stroll during the day and a major gathering place at night, especially on weekends, when food stalls line the promenade and families picnic on the grass while kids fly kites.
12.00 When you’ve worked up an appetite soaking in the Indian Ocean air, head into the Galle Face Hotel and take a seat in The 1864, the heritage hotel’s fine dining restaurant. After lunch, don’t miss the opportunity to have a look around the hotel, which has welcomed visiting diplomats and celebrities since it was built by the British in the mid-19th century. The 65 rooms in the Classic Wing still echo the colonial grandeur of the time (www.gallefacehotel.com; +94 112 541 010). 14.00 Appetite sated, have your driver take you to the headquarters of Paradise Road, a homegrown furniture and design store founded by Sri Lankan designer and entrepreneur Shanth Fernando. Inside, you’ll find an eclectic mixture of contemporary design and classical-style merchandise, from furniture and home furnishings to fabrics and paintings. All of the stock is either designed by Shanth himself (and made by local craftsmen) or imported from worldwide partners that share his taste for design (www.paradiseroad.lk; +94 112 686 043).
15.00 If you enjoyed Paradise Road, you might want to break up your afternoon shopping spree with a coffee at The Gallery Café, Shanth Fernando’s hugely popular café and gallery in the former offices of Sri Lankan master architect Geoffrey Bawa. The café is open until midnight every day, with free WiFi and a consistent menu that those in the know return to again and again. In the gallery the works of local artists are displayed in regularly changing exhibitions that showcase both new and more established talent (2 Alfred House Road; +94 112 582 162). 16.00 For something a bit more colourful, head to Barefoot, a Colombo institution founded by eccentric German designer and artist Barbara Sansoni in 1958. Barefoot stocks an endless array of colourful products made from natural yarns dyed and woven by hand by local dyers, weavers and needle-workers. The flagship store on Galle Road sells unique cloth and linen that can be bought to take away or turned into anything you have in mind, as well as a range of clothes, bags, toys and homeware.
The café, gallery and book shop attract a bohemian crowd of artists, designers and students, with regular music, events and exhibitions throughout the year (www.barefootceylon.com; +94 112 589 305). 17.30 You’ll need a break after all the shopping, so have your driver take you to the Cinnamon Grand Colombo and treat yourself to a massage at the Angsana Spa, run by Banyan Tree Hotels & Resorts. Try the 90-minute Ayurvedic Hot Stone massage (www.angsanaspa.com; +94 112 424 245).
The Gallery Cafe Paradise Road
19.30 Return to Casa Colombo and freshen up for dinner. Go for an evening swim in the pink pool or enjoy a drink at the chic ZAZA Bar, a glass-walled lounge bar in a courtyard filled with water features illuminated by colourful lanterns and fire pits. ZAZA comes alive at weekends, probably due as much to the varied wine list as to the contemporary-meetsclassical vibe. 21.00 Hop in a cab to Hilton Colombo for authentic Sri Lankan cuisine at Curry Leaf restaurant, an open-sided, thatch-roofed restaurant in the hotel’s gardens. Fresh seafood is the house speciality – tell the chef exactly what you want and how you want it and he will do the rest (www3.hilton.com; +94 112 49 2 492). 00.30 With the exception of a few nightclubs, most places close early in Colombo, so head back to your hotel and pack for your early-morning helicopter transfer to Galle or Kandy. n
STAY Casa Colombo Tel: +94 114 520 130 www.casacolombo.com
Hilton Colombo Tel: +94 112 492 492 www3.hilton.com
White Turf International Horse Races February 3-17 St. Moritz, Switzerland
Taking place on the frozen surface of Lake St. Moritz, this prestigious event dates back to 1907 and features thoroughbreds from across Europe competing in races including trotting with sleds, ‘skijoring’ (in which horses tow skiers behind them), and flat racing across the ice. The luxurious winter resort will also play host to live musical performances and art exhibitions, making this a great time to visit. www.whiteturf.ch
Sauti za Busara Music Festival February 14–17 Stone Town, Zanzibar
Drawing visitors to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Stone Town in Zanzibar since 2004, this annual music festival features performances by more than 400 musicians, in celebration of the musical heritage of East Africa. Other special events taking place during the festival include fashion shows, dhow races and traditional performances of ngoma drum and taarab orchestra. www.busaramusic.net
February 8–13 Rio de Janiero, Brazil
Considered the ultimate event of the carnival season, Rio Carnival now attracts more than 500,000 foreign visitors per year. The main event is the samba parade, in which six of Rio’s more than 70 samba schools perform in an elaborate parade at the Sambódromo, with spectator seating for 90,000 people designed by Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer. If you don’t make it to the actual Sambódromo, there are parties and events all over the city, and the atmosphere is electric. www.rio-carnival.net
Chinese New Year February 10 China and beyond
In China there are fireworks, food festivals, ceremonies, dancing and street celebrations throughout the country for days leading up to the eve of the Chinese New Year, which is based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. Parties will also take place in Chinatown districts throughout the world. In London, parades start at The Strand and move to Charing Cross through Chinatown, and there are afternoon events at Trafalgar Square, plus fireworks and traditional food stalls in Leicester Square. San Francisco also hosts parties and fireworks shows in its Chinatown district, which is the largest Chinatown outside of Asia.
Super Bowl XLVII
February 3 New Orleans, LA, USA
You could travel to the MercedesBenz Superdome in New Orleans to watch the most important annual sporting event in America, but parties will be taking place nation-wide on Superbowl Sunday: expect beer, chicken wings and cheerleaders. If youâ€™re not a fan of the sport, tune in to watch the TV commercials companies spend billions of dollars to air their ads, and the results are often more entertaining than the half-time show â€“ this year Beyonce will perform. www.nfl.com/superbowl
Spend it Love is in the air this month â€“ the perfect time to pack a suitcase and jet off for a romantic weekend away
The ultimate beach romance For a once-in-a-lifetime treat at one of the most opulent hotels in the UAE, take your loved one to Jumeirah Zabeel Saray this Valentineâ€™s Day for an unforgettable meal under the stars. The evening starts when a chauffeur arrives to collect you and your significant other from any location in Dubai, and drives you to the fabulous hotel at the end of The Palm Jumeirah. There you will be escorted to your private gazebo on the beach and introduced to your private butler, who will take care of your every need throughout the evening. When you are ready, a five-course European gourmet meal will be served at your exclusive beachfront location, accompanied by a bottle of rose champagne, the gentle lapping of waves and exquisite views of The Palm. As you leave, a special gift hamper and a bouquet of roses will be presented to ladies as a reminder of the special evening, before your chauffeur drives you home. From: February 14 only. Cost: AED 3,900 (US $1,062) per couple. Book: firstname.lastname@example.org www.jumeirah.com
Jumeirah Zabeel Saray
Valentine’s Day in Paris
*All prices are subject to change. Please contact the listed companies for further information.
Sparkling Valentine surprise
For the ultimate Valentine’s Day escape, there is nowhere better than the world’s most romantic city, Paris. Among the palatial five-star hotels that have wooed couples over the ages, Le Meurice stands apart as the godfather of luxury and romance, with its unbeatable location between the Place de Concorde and the Louvre, facing the charming Jardins des Tuilerie. Check into a Superior Suite before February 24 and treat your loved one to an experience they will never forget. If the Louis XVI period furnishings aren’t enough to set the mood, a welcome gift of a bouquet of roses, a box of pink macaroons and a bottle of rose champagne should do the job. The private entrance and elegant décor will make you feel like French nobility, and access to the sauna and hammam provide an indulgent break if you can bring yourself to leave the suite. Daily American breakfast is also included. From: now until February 24. Cost: from EUR 2,050 (US $2,735) per night for a Superior Suite, including all taxes. Book: email@example.com www.lemeurice.com
Mandarin Oriental Geneva
Europe’s capital cities are among the most romantic in the world, and the Swiss city of Geneva is no exception. If you choose to spend this Valentine’s Day enjoying the city, Mandarin Oriental Geneva might have just the thing to make the day unforgettable. As well as staying in a sumptuous top-floor Junior Terrace Suite with uninterrupted views of the Rhone, guests checking in this month will be treated to a bottle of bubbly on ice and a rose petal-strewn bed and romantic bath. The spacious suites come with outdoor terrace to enjoy panoramic views of Geneva’s picturesque Old Town and the distant Alps. Couples will also enjoy a French Kiss cocktail at MO Bar, and the option to enjoy breakfast in your suite or at Le Sud restaurant. If you happen to be there between February 13 and 15, you’ll receive an exclusive Jaeger-LeCoulture necklace. A “haute joaillerie” specialist will assist you in setting a diamond into an 18 carat gold bracelet, which is yours to take away. From: now until February 28. Cost: from CHF 1,950 (US $2,094) per night. Book: firstname.lastname@example.org www.mandarinoriental.com
Warm welcome Brown’s Hotel may be 175 years old, but it’s certainly not stuffy, finds Caitlin Cheadle
alking into Brown’s Hotel, tucked away on a quiet street in London’s ritzy Mayfair district, you’d never guess it’s the oldest hotel in the city. Two smiling doormen in morning dress usher us inside from the chilly London air, and immediately I’m warmed by the sight of the cosy English Tea Room to my right, where families and ladies who lunch are chatting away over scones and flutes of champagne. There isn’t really a ‘lobby’ per se; the concierge desk fronts an intimate room where a fire crackles away in the hearth and raindrops hit the skylights overhead, making us glad to have escaped the cold. The 101 sq m Hellenic Suite feels like your very own apartment – if money were no object, of course. The decor, by Sir Rocco Forte’s talented interior designer sister Olga Polizzi, is understated English country-house meets upscale city apartment. In the sitting area, rustic wood floors contrast with fragile antique lamps and modern abstract paintings by Peter Blake, while rich tapestries of silk and velvet for sofas and armchairs add a touch of opulence. A fireplace has a basket of chopped wood next to it, and an oversized work desk is stocked with helpful extras like a jogging map (although there is a fully equipped gym at the hotel’s spa) and very English touches including a framed portrait of Queen Elizabeth II on her wedding day, and bookshelves stocked with William Shakespeare’s Romances and The Wicked Wit of Winston Churchill.
With pretty Mayfair and Hyde Park at our doorstep, time inside the suite was mainly limited to sleeping and bathing, but what better place for a leisurely soak than in the Hellenic Suite’s oversized bathtub, complete with flat-screen Aquavision TV mounted at the foot of the tub. There is also an enormous double shower stocked with products by British brand Penhaligon’s, twin sinks, and thoughtfully, a separate room for the toilet and bidet, hidden behind a door in the small corridor leading to the bedroom, across from a wood-panelled walk-in closet. In the bedroom, a king-size bed faces a decorative hearth, above which is a flat-screen TV that allows you to select music from playlists including Opera, Rock, and Jazz at the push of a button. Sleek Bang & Olufsen cordless phones and Bose iPod docking stations contrast with antique beside tables and a plush divan. Lighting and room temperature are easy to adjust via conveniently placed wall switches, and windows in both the living room and bedroom look out onto Dover Street’s boutique shops and rows of expensive cars. Breakfast at the adjoining HIX restaurant, by renowned chef Mark Hix, is complimentary when you stay at a suite in Brown’s, and we start our day with British classics like Bubble and Squeak with fried Burford brown egg and chanterelle mushrooms, and Cumbrian black pudding with potato hash. Around us, families are catching up over brunch and couples snuggle up on banquettes under paintings by Tracey Emin and photographs by Rankin.
Walk past the English Tea Room and you will encounter the candle-lit, sepia-toned Donovan Bar, a tribute to the late British photographer Terence Donovan. Sit in the ‘naughty corner’ underneath a collection of his black and white photographs, but avert your eyes if you blush easily – the moniker comes from the suggestive nature of the images. Brown’s Hotel has had many famous guests walk through its doors since it opened in 1837 (Alexander Graham Bell made his first UK telephone call from Brown’s in 1876, and Rudyard Kipling wrote The Jungle Book while staying at Brown’s) but it is most notable for its unpretentious five-star service and ambience, retaining its identity as London’s first ever hotel while embracing an air of modernity and comfort. Nothing here feels outworn, outdated, or unwelcoming – many visitors here appear to be regulars, but perhaps it is just that everyone who enters Brown’s is treated like an old friend. n
The important bit What: Hellenic Suite (Royal Suite) Where: Brown’s Hotel, Albemarle Street, Mayfair, London, W1S 4BP Tel: +44 207 493 6020 Price: From GBP 1,750+VAT (from US $2,780) per night Contact: reservations.browns@ roccofortehotels.com www.brownshotel.com
The Dolder Grand Zurich
Mandarin Oriental Kuala Lumpur
St Regis Abu Dhabi
Mandarin Oriental London
Intercontinental Hangzhou Hotel China
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Burj Al Arab Dubai
Beyond the Blue Mountains Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa is a true antipodean wonderland with a location to wow, says Nicci Perides
ravelling out to New South Wales’ Blue Mountains is a once-ina-lifetime experience, and Wolgan Valley, just beyond the mountains, has to be one of the most peaceful spots on earth. My private transfer arrives at our address in Bondi, Sydney, and the chauffeur appears from behind the car in dark sunglasses and a suit – Mr Sophisticated. He takes our bags and opens the car door. My sister and I jump in the back. Mr Sophisticated tells us it is a three-hour drive from Sydney, through the Blue Mountains and out to Wolgan Valley, so we settle in for the ride. As we drive through the suburbs of Sydney, the scenery changes from urban sprawl to hectare upon hectare of forestland.
The Blue Mountains took their name from the region’s indigenous eucalyptus trees, which give off a bluish tinge that shines in the sunlight. As I stare at the magnificent, untouched scenery, I can’t help but wonder how many spiders and snakes are lurking out there. We reach a petrol station, where our car and another – we had been travelling in a convoy – pull up. Our driver cranes his head back and tells us that this is the last place we will receive mobile phone reception and asks if we would like him to divert our calls to the phone in our room at the resort. After careful consideration, my sister and I agree on a resounding “no”. Although we haven’t reached the resort, something tells me we won’t want any distractions from the outside world. We drive for another 20 minutes and pull up at a gate welcoming us to Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa. The next part of the journey, which takes us through the resort and into the valley where the lodge and chalets are located, is rather bumpy as you drive through creeks, beyond the stables and up to the clubhouse. The resort is set in a valley with a sprawling panorama of escarpments, rolling forestland, clearings and creeks. The chalets are set in a semi-circle, each one facing out towards the valley and, as we find out later that evening, towards the sunset. The resort is virtually self-contained and entirely eco-friendly. The main lodge takes its architectural cue from the lovingly restored homestead that sits on the premises, which was built in 1832 by European settlers. The boutique resort caters for around 80 people in 40 bungalow suites. Each suite features a private indoor pool, separate lounge, bedroom, open-plan bathroom with inside/outside rain shower, walk-in wardrobe and veranda.
Pool with a view
Suite living room and private pool
The style is private and chic. Guests make their way around the resort on bikes (which come with each bungalow) or by walking. The resort is located between three national parks, and as a result offers unrivalled outdoor activities. Choose from a horse trek out into the bush to spend time in the company of the resident kangaroos, wallaroos, possums and wombats with one of the on-site horsemen, or spend an evening star-gazing and searching for the nocturnal wildlife on the evening jeep safari. Mealtimes here are a splendid affair. Lunch is set on the ground floor of the main lodge and is usually a choice of around 10 different dishes. Australian wine comes as standard here too. Dinner in the romantically lit clubhouse is a five-course
degustation menu followed by a visit to the cheese and port room. The chef is very inventive, gaining inspiration from the surroundings; one evening he cleverly disguises new potatoes as rocks. The emphasis at the resort is to do as much or as little as you like. Many walking and cycling trails are set out for you, as are activities throughout the day. If you want to find out more about the history of the resort then join one of the tours around the homestead, which Emirates, owner of Wolgan Valley, restored when it took over the property. The walking and cycling trails will take you across creeks and through the national parks. The highlight of my stay was seeing a mix of native animals and reptiles (including a brown snake) in such close proximity. I sit on my last evening in Wolgan Valley enjoying a glass of Australian red, while watching a fiery sky turn from bright orange to deep purple. The clubhouse fires are roaring behind me and my fellow guests are regaling each other with stories from their stay. Some are talking about their trip off-site to the glow-worm caves, others are discussing the hike to the creek, and my sister and I are reliving the moment a brown snake slithered away a metre in front of us. The atmosphere is relaxed, sophisticated, and those who are leaving tomorrow have a heavy heart. I had been told that Wolgan Valley was a special place before arriving, but I couldnâ€™t imagine the feeling of complete freedom, relaxation and peace the resort seems to create. This is a once-in-a-lifetime escape that has the right balance of luxury, adventure and total tranquillity. n
The important bit What: Emirates Wolgan Valley Resort & Spa Where: NSW, Australia Tel: +61 2 6350 1800 Cost: from AU$1,560 (US$1,643) per night based on stays of three nights or more. Valid until March 31, 2013. www.wolganvalley.com
ON THE ROAD
BENTLEY CONTINENTAL GT SPEED CONVERTIBLE Engine: Twin-turbocharged W12 Power: 616 bhp Torque: 800 Nm at 2000 rpm 0-100kph: 4.4 secs Top speed: 325 kph Origin: Crewe, UK Cost: TBA
“The new GT Speed Convertible will appeal to drivers who seek the sensory thrills of the world’s fastest four-seat soft-top and the practicality of a year-round grand tourer, together with unrivalled levels of luxury and refinement. It is designed for those who accept no compromise” Dr Wolfgang Schreiber, chairman and chief executive, Bentley
You know the scene in a film when the beautiful redhead wows the audience by knocking out the bad guy with one punch? Well, in the car world, that redhead would be played by the brandnew Bentley Continental GT Speed Convertible – the UK carmaker’s fastest production vehicle and the world’s fastest four-seater convertible. Its seductive curves, confident stance and dominating presence caused jaws to drop when it was revealed at the Detroit Auto Show last month, and its vital statistics speak for themselves.
LAMBORGHINI AVENTADOR LP 700-4 ROADSTER Engine: 6.5-litre aspirated V12 Power: 700 bhp 0-100kph: 3.0 secs Top speed: 350 kph (approx) Origin: Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy Cost: from EUR 300,000 (US$393,500) excluding taxes
Remember when Lamborghini introduced the Aventador LP 700-4 in summer 2011? While most people were cooing over the breathtaking car, others were scratching their heads and wondering why Lamborghini hadn’t launched a convertible version. Well, this is it. The two-piece carbon fibre roof has to be removed manually, but we think that’s a small price to pay for the experience of driving this mean machine al fresco. The best bit is the rear windshield, which can be raised or lowered to control the flow of air and the amount of noise you hear from the V12 engine.
THE GENTLE GIANT Driving the extended-wheelbase Audi A8 L W12 is the terrestrial equivalent of flying first class, says Joe Mortimer SITTING in the front of the Audi A8 L W12 quattro is not unlike travelling first class on a good airline. Admittedly, there isn’t a lady in a hat handing out champagne when I enter the Audi, nor any complimentary nuts or newspaper, but sinking into the cockpit is most definitely a first-class experience. The first thing you notice when you step inside the Audi and fire up the massive 6.3-litre W12 engine is the silence. Even with the double panoramic sunroof and the acoustic insulating windows open, there is very little noise inside the car. Despite its size – the extended wheelbase version is just over 5.2 metres long and almost two metres wide – and the aforementioned engine, the A8 L is a gentle giant. Like a tame bear, or a retired boxer, the A8 is capable of extreme violence when provoked (in this case by switching the drive mode to ‘dynamic’ and hitting the gas) but for the most part it offers a solid yet agile ride that epitomises driving comfort. The Audi has got your back in more ways than one. When the proximity alert is activated, a light on each wing mirror flashes when there’s a car in your blind spot. 90
NUTS & BOLTS Engine: W12 6.3 FSI quattro Power: 500 bhp (at 6200 rpm) Torque: 625 Nm 0-100kph: 4.7 sec Top speed: 250 kph (limited) Emissions: 299 g/km Origin: Germany Cost: from AED 533,500 (US $145,246)
The 360-degree parking sensors, cameras and parallel park assist make parking the substantial car a breeze, and Audi’s state-of-the-art navigation system removes the hassle out of exploring unknown neighbourhoods. Which is good, because driving it is a joy that should be savoured. Yes, the A8 is unquestionably the most comfortable car I have ever driven. It’s not just the incredibly smooth ride and forgiving adaptive air suspension, nor is it the soft hand-stitched leather steering wheel with tiptronic controls for the eight-speed gearbox. It’s not only the intuitive onboard technology, the rear windshield sunshade that springs up with the touch of a button or the Bluetooth smartphone connectivity.
No, it’s not just those things. It’s also the fact that the A8 has a built-in massage function in both the front and rear seats – a multi-function, directional massage system that kneads and squeezes your back as it slumps into the plush Valcona leather seats, which are also fitted with in-chair heating and cooling devices. That’s what does it for me. Passengers in the A8 have as much to enjoy as the driver. The AC and entertainment controls in the front are replicated in the back, discreetly tucked away in the armrest, meaning back-seat drivers can be lords of their own AV kingdom, which includes seatback screens and a DVD changer, supported by a Bang & Olufsen Advance sound system.
It’s the little touches that make it so perfect. The ambient interior lighting is remarkable – reminiscent of the Boeing Sky Interior concept on Boeing’s latest aircraft. The aviation similarities don’t end with the lighting. Like flying at the front of the plane, travelling in the Audi makes the destination seem largely incidental; it’s the journey itself that will be the most memorable part of your trip. No, you will never hurry to your destination when you are behind the wheel (or sat in the back seat) of the A8. It is not a car you are in a rush to drive. If time is luxury then buying the A8 will be an indulgent affair, since time seems to slow down when you’re inside, allowing you to savour the experience and the calm, luxurious environment within. ■
Seasonal scents for her
BURBERRy BOdy TENdER A youthful take on Burberryâ€™s best-selling Body (released in 2011), Burberry Body Tender opens with notes of lemon, apple, peach and absinthe, leading to a core of rose, tea leaves, jasmine and sandalwood. Cashmere accords, vanilla, musk and amber are its base notes.
BEBE LOVE Inspired by the playfulness of young love, the floral-fruity fragrance combines top notes of Sicilian lemon, red currant and pink freesia with a sensual heart of gardenia, wild raspberry and guava. A trail of cedarwood, musk and white amber lends it a delicate finish.
Wear it in: Lisbon
Wear it in: Las Vegas
Jimmy Choo Flash Delicate white flower notes mingle with a hint of spices and fruit for a racy, sophisticated fragrance. Top notes of strawberry, tangerine and pink pepper blend with a floral heart of tuberose, jasmine, and white lily, with a cool base of heliotrope and blonde wood.
lanvin marry me a la Folie A celebration of youthful passion and falling in love, Marry Me a la Folie is an enticing blend of bitter orange and black currant top notes, with a strong heart of roses and Sambic jasmine. Musk and cedar accords leave a lasting impression.
Guerlain shalimar lâ€™eau si sensuelle A lighter version of Guerlainâ€™s iconic Shalimar, this new version opens with fresh citrusy notes of bergamont and grapefruit, with a floral heart of neroli blossom and jasmine. Sweet vanilla, rose and tonka bean add warmth to the soft scent.
Wear it in: Shanghai
Wear it in: Venice
Wear it in: Punta del Este, Uruguay
P.O. Box: 43500, Abu Dhabi, UAE. T: +971 (0)2 644 4412, F: +971 (0)2 644 4413, head.ofďŹ email@example.com
Your playground. For life. It is a fact that children will always express their unique personality through play. At Rotana Hotels & Resorts, our open and friendly character means that both you and your loved ones are ensured of having the time of your life. So go ahead and relax. Our growing portfolio includes four different property types in over 70 locations. Treasured Time. Our promise to you.
Matteo Manassero Professional golfer
t just 19 years old, Matteo Manassero has already set an impressive number of records. In 2009, at the age of 16, he became the youngest ever winner of the British Amateur Championship, topping the World Amateur Golf Rankings for 18 weeks before turning professional. He became the youngest ever player to make the cut at the Masters Tournament in 2010 when he was just 16 years old, beating the previous record held by Bobby Cole since 1967. Shortly after he turned pro he became the youngest ever player to win a European Tour event, when he won the Castelló Masters Costa Azahar in Spain in 2010, earning him the Sir Henry Cotton Rookie of the Year award. We caught up with the young golfer last month at the HSBC Abu Dhabi Golf Championship to find out what his top six favourite courses in the world are.
Augusta National Golf Club
Georgia, USA Everybody knows that Augusta National Golf Club is home to the Masters. It’s a spectacular course which is located in a dream-like setting – with its trees and streams it is a real treat to play. I was lucky enough to realise my dream when I played in the 2010 Masters and in making the cut I got to play four rounds on the course, which was even better. Hopefully there will be more to come. www.augusta.com
Abu Dhabi Golf Club
Abu Dhabi, UAE The home of the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship is famed for its falcon-shaped clubhouse and perfectly conditioned course carved out of the desert. Everything is perfect: the course, the people, the fans. It’s a great way to start the season. I love the food and this year we dined at The St. Regis hotel. www.adgolfclub.com
Royal Park I Roveri
Turin, Italy Royal Park I Roveri is a wonderful golf course with some difficult traps and water hazards surrounding the immaculate greens. Turin is a lovely part of my home country and you have views of the Alps from the course. After a day on the course there is nothing better than the homemade tiramisu served in the clubhouse. www.royalparkgolf.it
“Augusta is a spectacular course located in a dreamlike setting – with its trees and streams it is a real treat to play”
Picture perfect Hotel Caruso Belvedere’s infinity pool overlooks the breathtaking vistas of the Amalfi Coast
Clyde, Scotland Turnberry is a truly Scottish links golf course, with its magnificent views across the ocean and its famous lighthouse. It holds great memories for me, having won the Silver Medal as leading amateur at the 2009 Open Championship. I will never forget playing in such an ideal golf setting. www.turnberry.co.uk
The Old Course, St Andrews
Fife, Scotland St Andrews is the ‘home of golf’ and the Old Course is the most famous in the world, so it had to be on my list. It is a pleasure to play there and a true test of any golfer’s game, especially if the wind is up. Playing the famous ‘Road Hole’ 18th is very special. There is a great Indian restaurant in town called Balaka. www.standrews.org.uk
Club De Campo Del Mediterráneo
Castellon, Spain This course will always have a special place in my heart as it is where I won my first tournament as a professional in 2010. The course embodies all that is great about Spanish parkland golf; the secluded valley it sits in is a great location for some challenging holes. www.ccmediterraneo.com dotwnews.com
Connoisseur An insider’s guide to the most luxurious hotels in the world
Khwai River Lodge
Luxury travel expert
ere is a trio of game lodges in Africa. A perfect itinerary starts with flying into Johannesburg and being picked up by Shambala Private Game Reserve’s capable driver. Three hours later, you drive through an inchesdeep ford and under a ceremonial arch to enter a 25,000-acre private park that belongs to multinational insurance magnate Douw Steyn. He has a rarely-used Palladian house and thatched rondavels for his friends. The hotel, 10 miles away, consists of eight thatched ‘Hobbit’ villas, all identical. Villa Two, a total of 580 sq ft with wood floors and a big, old-fashioned bed with modern mattress, has a large bathroom with free-standing shower and separate tub. A secluded deck, big enough for breakfast for two, overlooks a lily pond. There is no gym but weights and balls can be brought to your villa. Free WiFi is available in the main lodge, an opensided affair cantilevered over a river. Here there is a library, a display of rare whiskies and, at night, blazing log fires and the cacophony of frogs. Bespoke dining means eating what and when you want. Game, viewed from high-backed diesel Land Cruisers, is plentiful thanks to annual animal stocktaking. GM is Conrad Meyer. www.shambalagamereserve.co.za From Johannesburg, fly on to Maun, Botswana, for a couple of OrientExpress Okavango Delta lodges. Both have similar units, namely 400 sq ft thatched-top tents on wood platforms raised three feet above the ground. A glass-end wall, not typical in safari camps, allows you to look out.
The four-post bed, with decorative mosquito net, is the focal point of your space. You have an indoor and outdoor shower, and free WiFi. Area GM Warren Stone arranges all itineraries, with private-plane transfers between lodges. Start at 12-tent Savute Elephant Camp, perched on the banks of Savute Channel in the 2.7 millionacre Chobe National Park. A day typically starts with a bearer bringing pre-dawn tea or coffee wake-up, and after an early breakfast you have a three-hour safari. Brunch is a copious feast, after which you need a rest, or a swim. Afternoon tea with cakes is followed by the sunset safari, with your choice of cocktail at stop-off time, and dinner, probably shared with other guests, is another memorable meal. Since 2010, the Channel has been free-flowing, attracting a multitude of elephants (the Park probably has over 120,000). See them in matriarchal packs, rolling in the dry mud, forever eating mopane bark, and learn about them from excellent guides. Savute also has more than 250 bird species. At the 15-unit Khwai River Lodge, all tents overlook the Khwai River – tent nine comes with an outside infinity hot-tub, a great way to watch hippos wallowing in the river 30 yards away. This lodge is deliberately more animal friendly, so you do not walk outside at night unescorted. Khwai River Lodge is in the 1.2 million-acre Moremi Wildlife Reserve, named for the Batawana King, Moremi III. Animals here include black rhino, buffalo, cheetah, leopard, lion, impala, wild dog and zebra: a souvenir book allows you to check what you have seen. As variation from hours in a vehicle, try a walking safari, with guides and marksmen right ahead of and behind you as you trek, their eyes continuously scanning the horizon. www.orient-express.com Shambala Private Game Reserve
There’s a lot of love in The air this month, and a healthy dose of passion too. When you talk about passion in the travel business, it can a...