SALVATORE FERRAGAMO Michele Norsa's global perspective
THE SUGAR ISLES Five romantic escapes
Climb, paddle and dine
Riverside in Bangkok
Gordon Ramsay in Doha
NEW IN TOWN
The latest luxury openings
Ceylon revisited Explore Sri Lanka's colonial heritage in the land of Serendib
LIVE A LITTLE Voyages of a lifetime
EAST COAST UAE Testing the Audi A5 Cabriolet
The latest luxury car launches
The Golden Age has returned Located on the beachfront of the West Crescent of Palm Jumeirah, this majestic resort is stunning in every detail. Marvel at the magnificient Ottoman inspired decor, savour an array of international flavours at our restaurants, unwind in elegant guest rooms where your every need is met, or simply refresh mind, body and soul in one of the regionâ€™s largest and most sophisticated spas and Turkish hammams, Talise Ottoman Spa.
For more information and bookings please contact Jumeirah Zabeel Saray on Tel: +971 4 453 0000, visit www.jumeirahzabeelsaray.com or call your travel professional.
On the cover 44 Escape to Mauritius Five of the hottest honeymoon hideaways in the Indian Ocean idyll
52 Ceylon revisited
Following in the footsteps of Sri Lanka’s ancient colonial settlers
64 Vancouver: 24 Hours New hangouts and old haunts in Canada’s westcoast wonderland
44 Colours of paradise One&Only Le Saint Géran is a perfect honeymoon escape
Contents October 2012
68 In the news 22 Retrospective New York commemorates its darkest day 26 Europe Buyers sate appetite for luxury at Monaco Yacht Show 28 Middle East & Africa Congo’s mountain gorillas under threat 32 Asia & Oceania Maldives gets second international airport 36 Americas What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas, says tourism board 38 Debut Hot hotels, chic boutiques and exclusive new resorts
40 Profile Salvatore Ferragamo CEO Michele Norsa on brand integrity
Insider 66 Diary Out and about this month? Don’t miss these events 68 Spend it Once-in-a-lifetime luxury travel experiences 72 Suite dreams Hot tub indulgence in the heart of Madrid 74 Good taste Gordon Ramsay returns to Qatar at The St. Regis Doha 76 On the road Sometimes we’d rather keep our feet on the ground 78 Ignition Cruising in the UAE with the new Audi A5 Cabriolet 80 Fragrance butler The scents you can’t travel without this season 83 Trends The lighter side of travel: cat cafés and happy hour for dogs 86 Online New and exclusive on DOTWNews.com this month 88 Album Shahab Izadpanah, CEO of luxury concierge firm Louis Fourteen 90 Connoisseur Mary Gostelow heads riverside in Downtown Bangkok dotwnews.com
Letter from the Editor EvEry issuE of our magazinE tEnds to takE on a life of its own. Sometimes it happens by design, sometimes nature takes its course. It wasn’t until I read through the final pages of this October edition that I realised this month’s theme is islands. Not long ago, I found myself staring out at the rough southern Indian Ocean from the walls of Galle Fort – once the trade capital of former Ceylon. The island of sri Lanka, strategically located on the southeast tip of India, became a vital port of call for spice merchants in the 16th century and retains its importance today as a largely undiscovered jewel in South Asia. My short journey in pursuit of Sri Lanka’s best colonial relics wasn’t nearly long enough, which is why many of the people I met on the road combined a full week in Sri Lanka with another week in the maldives, just a short one-hour flight away. Nevertheless, I did manage to follow in the footsteps of buccaneering colonials from Galle to the highlands of Tea Country, and then on to the commercial capital Colombo. You can read my account on page 52. Further west, and south, just off the coast of Madagascar, mauritius is one of the indian ocean’s finest hideaway destinations – one whose popularity as a honeymoon getaway has been tried and tested. Our man Nick Walton recently returned to the island to scout out five of the best resorts for a week of post-wedding bliss, looking for indulgence, culture and even a spot of golf on his journey. Read his top picks on page 44. In our monthly spend it section on page 68, we seek out the best travel experiences money can buy, and it’s no surprise that many of the deals we come up with tend to involve islands. This month we have fantastic deals on two of the most acclaimed resorts in the seychelles, a chance to step into Richard Branson’s shoes (or flip-flops) and book out necker island, his personal hideaway in the British virgin islands, and what has to be the most luxurious tour of New Zealand’s north and south islands we have ever heard of. Our news pages are veritably packed with island news. In Asia, the super exclusive song saa Private island has just introduced optional helicopter transfers for its guests, and the Maldives resort niyama has just opened what it says is the world’s first underwater nightclub.
Hill Country The Sri Lankan highlands are the heart of the country’s tea growing industry
The other big news coming out of the maldives is the opening of Kooddoo Airport, which will provide visitors much quicker access to the new resorts in the archipelago’s southern half (page 32). Meanwhile the upcoming Louvre Museum on saadiyat island in Abu Dhabi, scheduled to open in 2015, has just announced the latest acquisitions that will join its permanent art collection (page 28). No man is an island, they say, but salvatore ferragamo CEO Michele Norsa was the first non-Ferragamo family executive to take the reins of the Italian luxury design house – a role he has done great justice to during his six-year tenure. In his profile on page 40, Norsa talks about the importance of keeping the brand’s Italian heritage intact, and why the company is selling more sizes and styles of clothing than ever before in its stores around the world. So there you have it – serendipity has smiled on us and brought together almost an entire magazine of island-related travel reading for you this month. And I suppose it is no coincidence that the word serendipity comes from serendib – the ancient Arab name for the island that today we call Sri Lanka.
Joe Mortimer Senior Editor email@example.com
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Contributors Joe Mortimer
Joe Mortimer likes islands. He once rowed across a lake in the middle of the night to get to one, and he’s always secretly thought that getting shipwrecked on one wouldn’t be so bad. With that in mind, Joe went to Sri Lanka to find out why it has become a buzzword among savvy travellers, and what makes former Ceylon a must-visit destination for fans of colonial history. From the UNESCO-protected Galle Fort to a collection of tea planters’ bungalows in the heart of Hill Country, he found a land with its roots planted in the past but its hopes fixed firmly on the future (page 52).
Nicci Perides has often found herself in sticky situations in the name of travel – hiking up a live volcano spewing lava in Guatemala or being chased by elephants in Burkina Faso while camping. She has now swapped her tent for five-star hotels and prefers to explore the more luxurious side of travel. Nicci is no stranger to Madrid, but recently discovered a rare treat that had eluded her on previous visits: a suite with a hot tub on the balcony. Find out what makes the presidential suite in the quirky Hesperia Madrid so appealing, even to those who think they know the city well, on page 72.
October 2012, Issue 76 Publisher Anna Zhukov firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Editor Joe Mortimer email@example.com Deputy Editor Caitlin Cheadle firstname.lastname@example.org Online Editor Nicci Perides email@example.com Editor-at-Large Andy Round firstname.lastname@example.org Contributing Editor Mary Gostelow Sales Manager Andrea Tsiachtsiri email@example.com Art Director Kris Karacinski firstname.lastname@example.org Multimedia Graphics Manager Vandita Gaurang email@example.com United Kingdom Sales Representative David Hammond firstname.lastname@example.org Circulation department email@example.com Cover image Tea plantation in Sri Lanka Kil ZenShui / Laurence Mouton
Deputy editor Caitlin Cheadle left her native Vancouver four years ago after catching the travel bug while backpacking through Europe. Since relocating to Dubai she has found herself exploring hotter climates, most notably the idyllic archipelagos of Langkawi, the Maldives and the Seychelles. But despite her penchant for white-sand beaches and palm trees, there’s no place like home. Last month Caitlin ventured back to Vancouver to see what’s new in the Westcoast Canadian city. Read her recommendations for how to spend 24 hours in this nature-lover’s paradise on page 64.
Nick Walton has moved gradually north and westwards from his native New Zealand for the sake of his travel writing career, taking on roles including travel editor of the South China Morning Post, which brought him to his current home in Hong Kong. When he’s not writing about travel for magazines or on his blog, A Travel Writer’s World, he’s usually talking about it on a weekly radio show, or actually doing it. In his latest piece, recently-married Nick returned to Mauritius to uncover the top romantic escapes for the perfect honeymoon hideaway. Read his story on page 44.
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
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otoring fans from around the world flocked to the UK for the inaugural Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance, which saw 60 of the world’s rarest cars brought together in the castle grounds. The three-day gathering featured some of the finest cars on the planet, with vehicles ranging from the first horseless carriages to modern day supercars, race-winning sports cars, historical limousines and rare one-off creations. The jewel in the crown for many was The Prince of Wales’ 1969 Aston Martin Volante DB6 MKII, given to him as a gift from The Queen on his 21st birthday, which took centre stage for the duration of the event. The extremely rare car was last seen in public departing from the wedding reception of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in April 2011. In addition to the main event, several of Britain’s car owners’ clubs took part in smaller gatherings, each bringing 60 of their top vehicles to the castle. Carmakers including Ferrari, Aston Martin, Jaguar and the event’s main sponsor Bentley joined the festivities. www.concoursofelegance.co.uk
he Tribute in Light, a ceremony to commemorate the eleventh anniversary of the attacks on the World Trade Center, takes place at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York City on September 11, 2012. The rest of America joined the city of New York in remembering the nearly 3,000 victims who perished after two hijacked planes crashed into the World Trade Center, one plane crashed into the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia and another plane crash-landed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Families of the victims gathered at the World Trade Center site as bagpipes played at 8.46am, the moment the first plane crashed into the Trade Centerâ€™s North Tower, to read the names of those who were lost. People continued to visit the site throughout the day, and after dark the sky was illuminated by the annual Tribute in Light, the light installation that has commemorated the September 11 attacks every year since 2001.
superyachts on show in Monaco Monaco Yacht Show 2012 brought together one of the world’s most expensive collections of superyachts ever last month. Among the 103 yachts on display in Monaco’s exclusive deepwater Port Hercule were six megayachts, four of which were new launches for 2012. Star of the 22nd edition of the show was Athena, a 90-metre yacht with a price tag of EUR 72 million (US$94 million). The three-mast schooner, built in 2004 by Dutch shipyard Royal Huisman, is one of the world’s largest, with space for 12 guests and 22 crew. The yacht is currently on the market from Monacobased yacht broker Y.CO.
The largest new ship to star in the show was the uberluxurious Nirvana; an 88.5-metre megayacht with six decks, 150 sq m owner’s suite, five guest cabins and a fully equipped gym or 3D cinema, as well as a crew of 26. More exciting additions can be found in the garage, which is home to two 11-metre tenders, an 8.5m ski boat, six jet skis and four wave runners, plus a storage area for diving gear. But it was a vessel that was not present in Monaco that proved to be the biggest talking point of the event – the world’s biggest yacht, codenamed Project Azzam, which is currently being built in Germany’s Lürssen shipyard. At 88.5 metres, Nirvana was the biggest new yacht at the show
Everything about the vessel remains a secret – including the identity of its owner – except for its size. When it is completed in 2013, the finished product will measure 180 metres, overtaking Russian tycoon Roman Abramovich’s 162metre Eclipse as the world’s largest megayacht. Only 88 yachts of more than 80 metres have even been built, but as the current global construction pipeline of 19 more proves, demand remains strong. It is not only yacht ownership that is seeing a rise: “There is a lot of interest in the big, recent modern boats, particularly from Russian clients,” Fiona Maureso, head of charter at Monaco-based Yachting Partners International (YPI), told AFP. However, chartering does not come cheap; a one-week charter of one of YPI’s yachts starts from around EUR 800,000 (US$1.32m). Organisers of the show claim the line-up of yachts that gathered in Monaco was an accurate reflection of the worldwide superyacht market, with motoryachts representing 80 percent of the 103-strong fleet and sailing yachts making up the remaining 20 percent.
Photo: Rolex / Jad Sherif
Goodwood draws the crowds oNE of the motoring world’s most prized events took place in the UK this month, drawing crowds from across the globe. Goodwood Revival takes place every September, bringing together drivers, car enthusiasts and one of the world’s largest collections of vintage motorcars for a weekend dedicated to the celebration of the golden age of racing.
“The Goodwood Revival does something no one else can do,” said Jochen Mass, Formula One Grand Prix winner and Les 24 Heures du Mans winner. “It focuses on the drivers, but everyone can be a part of it, celebrating this great era by dressing up and mingling with drivers and visitors alike, there is simply nothing like it in the world.”
Highlights of the event include the Freddie March Memorial Trophy – a 90-minute endurance race featuring vehicles including the 1962 Ferrari GTO – which marks the 60th anniversary of the first Goodwood Nine Hours race, and a collection of pre-war Silver Arrows Grand Prix cars, marking the 75th anniversary of their first appearance in the UK.
The latest in luxury travel London-based John Lobb, owned by Hermès, is a household name when it comes to men’s shoes made to last. Last is, indeed, an appropriate word to use in cobbling as a ‘last’ is the wooden model of a foot used for perfectly forming a bespoke shoe. John Lobb has over 15,000 named lasts, made of single blocks of beechwood and maple. John Lobb is currentlybootmaker for HRH The Duke of Edinburgh and HRH The Prince of Wales by Royal Warrant. In honour of The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee there is a special offer running through December 31, 2012. New customers will find that their first orders will take at least six months to complete, because of the time required to make bespoke lasts, which, carefully named, will be yours forever. www.johnlobbltd.co.uk Ergon gourmet foods, from Thessaloniki, offers the best Greek products around. Order porcini mushrooms and truffles found wild in the Pindos Mountains, or local Thessaloniki honey and olives, wherever you are in the world. If you find yourself in Greece’s second city, head for the Ergon’s Greek delis, a joint venture with chef Dimitris Skarmoutsos. Ergon is run by brothers George and Thomas Douzis. www.ergonproducts.gr
Not content with the title of the most star-studded hotel in the world’s most exclusive ski resort, the Carlton Hotel in St. Moritz has just added the largest penthouse suite in the valley. The eighth-floor Carlton Penthouse has three bedrooms and five terraces with 360-degree views of St. Moritz and the surrounding Engadine Mountains, as well as a lounge area with traditional open fireplace and floor-toceiling glass windows and a homely kitchen. The suite is due to open on December 14, in time for this year’s ski season, with rates starting from AED 71,312 (US$19,415) per night.
Fair Isle sweaters, recognisable by horizontal bands of dense nonrepeating patterns, are in vogue around the world. Since the brand is not legally protected, they are also knitted in many rural areas. ‘Made in Fair Isle’, however, remains a quality claim, and FrenchCanadian Mati Ventrillon heads the Fair Isle cooperative Fair Isle Knitwear. She can design, and knit any personalised sweater, hat or scarf to order. www.fairisleknitwear.co.uk Mary GosTELow
Middle East & Africa
Mountain gorillas threatened by war
“Armed rebel groups are taking tourists into the park from across the border in Uganda, where they are charging $300 for illegal permits”
The world’s few remaining mountain gorillas and the park rangers who protect them are under threat as civil conflict spreads through the Congo. Virunga National Park, which straddles the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Uganda, is home to the world’s last 790 mountain gorillas. In order to visit the park, visitors have to obtain special permits, which are strictly controlled by park authorities. Park director Emmanuel de Merode told the Financial Times that visitor numbers were set to double to 6,000 this year, which would generate around US$2 million in revenue – vital income that helps to fund local schools and hospitals.
But the recent closure of the park has put an end to the steady flow of tourism dollars that were bringing prosperity to the region, and put the safety of both the gorillas and park rangers at risk. “Periods of conflict are when the rangers’ jobs are most dangerous, and most necessary. At times like these, opportunists abound and poaching, illegal animal trafficking, and habitat destruction become especially difficult to control,” said Merode in his blog. Also worrying is news that armed rebel groups are taking tourists into the park from across the border in Uganda, where they are charging $300 for illegal permits – 50 percent less than official travel agencies.
Middle title East & Africa Sectiony News
Louvre collection revealed in Saadiyat Island While construction of the much-anticipated Louvre Abu Dhabi (pictured) continues on Saadiyat Island, the museum’s art collection is growing with the addition of several significant works of art. New additions to the museum’s permanent collection include Paul Gauguin’s 1888 masterpiece Breton Boys Wrestling, a standing Bactrian Princess from the end of the third
millennium BC and a preserved pavement and fountain ensemble dating from the early Ottoman period. Louvre Abu Dhabi’s photographic collection has also kicked off with French photographer Joseph Girault de Prangey’s Ayoucha, from 1843, which is believed to be the oldest photographic representation of a veiled woman in existence.
The recent additions will be discussed in the second part of the upcoming Louvre Abu Dhabi: Talking Arts Series, a programme of lectures and public events about both individual works and the collection as a whole, intended to “open up a dialogue with the public” ahead of the museum’s opening in 2015. The programme of events will run until June 26, 2013.
Jazz at the Lincoln Center Doha Few musical or cultural events can be as important for music lovers in the Middle East as the opening of the region’s first dedicated international jazz venue. Jazz at the Lincoln Center Doha is the first branch of the legendary jazz venue outside the US, a move made possible by the music club’s new partnership with St. Regis Hotels and Resorts. “In the spirit of jazz ambassadors – Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Dave Brubeck, and Dizzy Gillespie – we continue the legacy of bridging cultures around the world through Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha,” said Wynton Marsalis, artistic director of Jazz at Lincoln Center.
The venue opens at St. Regis Doha on October 4 with the Wynton Marsalis Quintet, led by Marsalis himself – a man whose work has been recognised with nine Grammy awards and the Pulitzer Prize for Music. The 100-seater club was designed to be reminiscent of old American jazz clubs, with theatre-style seating and private booths. Performances will be held six nights a week at the venue, with a line-up of international acts from the US and around the world. Look out for more Jazz at the Lincoln Center venues at St. Regis hotels in the future – this is the first of many.
Mile high flavours
Qatar Airways has recruited four of the biggest names in the culinary world to create a menu for its new fleet of Boeing 787 Dreamliners. The menu features dishes created by its new brand ambassadors: chefs Nobu Matsuhisa, Vineet Bhatia, Tom Aikens and Ramzi Choueiri. The chefs were tasked with creating dishes that would appeal to passengers on long-haul flights, and that would retain their flavour at 35,000 feet. CEO Akbar al Baker said the new culinary offering was part of “the overhaul of the entire travel experience for our passengers”, and referred to the imminent arrival of the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner as the “start of an exciting new era for travellers worldwide”.
Asia & & Oceania Oceania
Jumeirah Dhevanafushi Kooddoo Airport gives visitors better access to resorts in the southern part of the Maldives
a Faster way to paradise
the Residence Maldives New resorts like The Residence were previously a two-hour journey from Male
Although the Maldives has gained a reputation as one of the most idyllic holiday destinations in the world, the southern half of the archipelago has, until recently, remained relatively unexplored. But now, the opening of the Kooddoo Airport in the Gaafu Alifu Atoll will open up the southern islands and make it easier to get to their luxurious resorts. Hotels such as Park Hyatt Maldives Hadahaa, Jumeirah Dhevanafushi and The Residence Maldives will benefit; previously only accessible via a two-hour seaplane and speedboat journey from the international airport in Male, Kooddoo airport will cut the transfer time by as much as half.
Asiatitle & Oceania Sectiony News
View from the (tree) top Boutique Balinese resort Alila Ubud will launch four exclusive new Terrace Tree Villas this autumn, giving guests the chance to experience luxury amidst the tree tops of Indonesia’s lush tropical jungles, overlooking the rice paddy fields of the Ayung River Valley. www.alilahotels.com
Cruise the Irrawaddy Orient-Express’ new luxury cruise liner, Orcaella, will be offering sevenand 11-night cruise itineraries along Myanmar’s Irrawaddy River from July 2013. Carrying a maximum of 50 passengers, with a total of 25 luxurious cabins, the Orcaella will give travellers the opportunity to take part in excursions such as a traditional Novication Ceremony of local monks, a local ‘tea shop’ experience, trekking through the jungle, and a train journey into the Kachin jungle.
Underwater party in the Maldives The world’s first underwater nightclub, Subsix, is now open at Per Aquum’s NIYAMA resort in the Maldives. The official launch party takes place on October 27, with global music star Tinie Tempah performing for the first time in the Maldives. The intimate nightclub, accessible only by boat, features floor-to-ceiling windows looking into the sea, so you can gaze at clown fish, manta rays, and parrot fish as you mingle. niyama.peraquum.com
Arrive in style at Song Saa
Song Saa Private Island, a 27-villa retreat located on Cambodia’s remote Koh Rong Archipelago, has made getting there a breeze. Private helicopter transfers are now available, flying direct from Phnom Penh four times per week, from US$688 each way. www.songsaa.com
What happens in Vegas... After Prince Harry’s naked antics in Vegas last month, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LCVA) is now using the scandal for its new promotional campaign, reminding visitors that ‘what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas’. Launching new website visitlasvegas.com/knowthecode, it has asked potential holidaymakers to sign an oath reading, “I promise to follow the code of Las Vegas by not tweeting, tagging, posting, telling, whispering, emoting, defining, drawing up, writing about or in any way revealing the all-powerful What Happens Here, Stays Here moment of me or anyone else in my party to others not on said trip during or at any time after said trip’s duration.” The pledge continues, “We are calling on you, the defenders of what happens in Vegas staying in its rightful place – in Vegas. We are asking for a shun on those exploiters of Prince Harry. We shall boycott partying with (whoever exploited Harry). No bottle service. No bikiniclad girls.” No word on whether the campaign has been approved by Clarence House, but we’re thinking that in order for things that happen in Vegas to truly stay in Vegas, smart phones will have to be confiscated at the airport.
“We are calling on you, the defenders of what happens in Vegas staying in its rightful place – in Vegas”
The only way to fly The new Boeing Business Jet 747-8 Aeroloft has reportedly been snapped up by nine heads of state, and frankly it’s no surprise. The 5,179 sq ft aircraft has a separate cabin with sleeping quarters for eight, a kitchen, a conference/dining area, lounge, bathroom, private office, and an ‘executive suite’ with queen-size bed and full-size shower. Although Boeing has yet to release the final price of the new model, the first Aeroloft-equipped BBJ 747-8 flew from Boeing Global Transport Executive Systems in Wichita, Kansas to Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany, last month for the rest of the interior fit-out. The aircraft will enter service in 2014.
Caesars Palace launches US$17 million buffet
One of the biggest investments in Vegas’ tourist-heavy Strip since before the economic crisis, the new Bacchanal Buffet at Caesars Palace (below) has been billed as the city’s largest. The gourmet food fest, which cost Caesars US$17 million to develop, includes delicacies like red velvet pancakes, prime rib, made-to-order soufflé, 20 kinds of bread, sushi and king crab legs. Four of the buffet’s six chefs have worked at Michelin-star restaurants, and 180 staff will serve 524 menu items to up to 600 diners at a time. And the price for the gluttonous feast? US$40 for dinner, $25 for lunch and $20 for breakfast.
Bolivia national park named ‘most biologically diverse place on earth’ The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has recently named Madidi National Park in northwest Bolivia the most biologically diverse place on earth. According to a report released by the WCS, 11 percent of the world’s bird species live in the park, as well as more than 200 species of mammals, almost 300 types of fish and 12,000 plant species. The park’s diverse habitat, which ranges from the lowland tropical forests of the Amazon to the snow-capped peaks of the Andes, is home to a record number of leopards, 1,868 species of vertebrates, 1,088 species of birds including more than 60 species of hummingbirds, and rare animals such as the Spix’s disk-winged bat and the 300-kg lowland tapir.
DEBUT Hot hotels | chic boutiques | exclusive resorts
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Set within a historic building composed of four 19th century Palais, the 202 rooms and 43 suites are complemented by Dstrikt restaurant, serving classic Austrian cuisine, as well as a lively bar and stunning rooftop terrace, offering spectacular views over Vienna’s skyline. Guests will enjoy complimentary access to the hotel’s health club, which features an 18 metre long pool with underwater music. Ritz Carlton’s signature Club Lounge on the hotel’s seventh floor offers members five daily food presentations, a variety of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and international newspapers and magazines. www.ritzcarlton.com
Cartagena de Indias, Colombia
Located within the historic UNESCOprotected walled city of Cartagena de Indias in Colombia, this luxurious boutique hotel has just 22 rooms and eight spacious suites contained within a carefully restored 17th-century building. The pared-back, elegant décor pays tribute to a traditional Colombian style, with natural textiles and plenty of windows, high ceilings and bright, airy spaces. Alma restaurant is the central meeting point of the hotel, with an open-air courtyard and chic poolside lounge serving Colombian specialties and locallyinspired cocktails. www.hotelcasasanagustin.com
The Ritz-Carlton, Vienna
Hotel Casa San Augustin Located at the heart of the city’s trendy shopping district Vaci utca, this former palace, dating back to 1900, features a modern Asian-Colonial interior that blends authenticity with luxury. Naturally you will find the brand’s signature Buddha Bar restaurant and Siddharta Café concepts here, with the addition of the glass-roofed Klotild Bar & Lounge, with sweeping views of the city. Emphasis is placed on Asian health practices and wellness, so Buddhattitude Spa & Fitness Corner offers Tibetan, Chinese and Japanese treatments, nutritional consultations and yoga sessions. www.buddhabarhotelbudapest.com
Buddha Bar Hotel Budapest, Klotild Palace
As it celebrates a new era of post-Soviet prosperity, attracting the interest of a broad range of international travellers after hosting the 2012 Eurovision Song Contest and being chosen to host this year’s FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup, the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku welcomes a new luxury five-star hotel. The Four Seasons Hotel Baku is located in a prime position on the promenade bordering the Caspian Sea, with 171 rooms and suites, four restaurants and bars and the Jaleh Spa and Pool adding a touch of glamour to the emerging tourist hotspot, recently named one of Lonely Planet’s top 10 Ultimate Party Cities. www.fourseasons.com/baku
Four Seasons Hotel Baku
Sofitel’s first property in India, the Sofitel Mumbai BKC is located in the heart of the city’s business district, the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC), also known as ‘new’ Mumbai. A contemporary architectural style blends in with the urban landscape in a design that melds Indian and French principles. Six bars and restaurants are among the hotel’s best features, including L’Artisan, serving traditional North Indian cuisine, and Pondicherry Café, specialising in a blend of Indian and French cuisine. Diamantaire is a modern-style bar with a unique ‘wine tower’ – a first for India. www.sofitel.com
Sofitel Mumbai BKC
Ferragamo stretches its legs in Britain
As its enlarged London flagship store opens, Laura Chesters meets Michele Norsa, the man who rolls up his sleeves to make sure everything is perfect
ithin the walls of an overwhelmingly chic Mayfair boutique, Michele Norsa is looking at ways to display Salvatore Ferragamo‘s calfskin and crocodile men‘s belts. The GBP 200 (US$325), exquisitely made Italian leather belts with gunmetal buckles deserve better exposure and Norsa, Ferragamo‘s chief executive, is rolling up his sleeves to make sure the newly madeover outpost in Bond Street is looking its best. Norsa has a duty to his employer, and its famous clients, to make sure its shops look as beautiful as the well-crafted clothes, shoes and leather goods that they sell. Ferragamo, shoemaker to the stars, counted Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn and Greta Garbo among its fans and has just hired British supermodel Kate Moss as its ‘face’ for this autumn. Norsa is visiting the Old Bond Street store – which has been home to Salvatore Ferragamo for 74 years – after paying what is thought to be the UK’s top rent, estimated to be GBP 1,000 ($1,625) per square foot for the most important part of the shop, to renegotiate a bigger store and longer lease. No wonder he wants it to look its best. “London is very important to us. It is growing very fast and we have shoppers from all over the world who come here.” Tanned, smiling and impeccably dressed in Ferragamo, Norsa is clearly at home on the shop floor in spite of years in the boardroom of companies including Sergio Tacchini and Valentino. As he justifies the top rent Ferragamo is paying, he is surveying his emporium of Italian style – from the new lights to the menswear floor. “We have made the store 60 percent bigger. London’s rent is going up, of course, but it is fair. We were able to take a long view and invest in the store. Bond Street will be here forever and we want to make sure we keep this beautiful store,” he says. But it isn’t just Bond Street that has had a makeover. Its other London spot, Sloane Street, will double its floor space this year to over three floors, to give more space for the GBP 350 ($568) Vara bow heels or the GBP 2,300 ($3,735) python skin handbag.
London is just one of Ferragamo’s important global flagship cities. Three new stores are planned for China this year to add to its 320-plus outlets. The luxury goods obsession with giant, shiny new stores to showcase growing collections is now a global phenomenon, with identikit Prada or Louis Vuitton stores from Sloane Street to Sao Paulo. And now Ferragamo’s expansion is being closely watched by investors after its listing in Milan just over a year ago. Norsa, having spent most of his career at family-owned companies in Italy, joined Ferragamo in 2006 – the first non-family chief executive. He took over from Ferruccio Ferragamo, the eldest son of Salvatore, who is now chairman. It was the first step in modernising the group. The family shareholding is complex. Salvatore Ferragamo had six children and Ferruccio also has six; there are a total of 23 grandchildren.
“Italy is part of our DNA” The family decided to sell a 25 percent stake – to raise money for expansion and free up capital for some of the family. And for Norsa, “working for a listed company is a nice challenge.” At the time of deciding to go public, the markets ran wild with rumours that the family were looking at following fellow Italian fashion brand Prada to Hong Kong. But Norsa says: “Italy is part of our DNA. You can get all the advantages that you can get anywhere. And being listed in Italy doesn‘t mean we do not have investors from elsewhere. We have many overseas investors.” Indeed Peter Woo, a Hong Kong-based businessman who owns a stake in Ferragamo, became a board member. Making sure the company is synonymous with Italy means every single item – bar the Swissmade watch parts – is made in the country.
Alwaleedâ€™s 282-foot yacht, Kingdom 5-KR
Laura Chesters | The Independent | The Interview People
London Calling Salvatore Ferragamo’s store on London’s Bond Street
When in the 90s, clothing manufacturers started moving east for cheaper labour, luxury brands including Prada and Burberry followed the trend with swathes of the business being farmed off to factories in Turkey, Thailand and China. But unlike most of its peers, Ferragamo stayed put. “It is a commitment but it is something we truly believe in.” The decision by some brands to move production from their home countries is still having repercussions today, with a renewed consumer backlash at some brands. Norsa has seen first-hand the factories that England used to be proud of. “I have visited these factories in Scotland and in England. Now people recognise the value of knowing where something is made. It is now very important for the shopper to know where and how it is made.” The growth of luxury brands in the Chinese market has been fuelled by a desire to buy something which is “made in Europe”. Ferragamo is not quite as old as French brands Louis Vuitton or Hermès, but it certainly has a vivid archive. Having started life as a shoemaker in a small room in Florence in 1927, it now has a market capitalisation of GBP 2.6 bn ($4.2 bn), selling everything from leather goods and watches to perfumes and ready-to-wear for men and women. It is one of the best known classic luxury brands – renowned for comfort and style.
The history is important but it is Norsa‘s job to make sure his creative director –Massimiliano Giornetti – keeps the brand relevant. “We have been very good at keeping the heritage through to the present. But through events, marketing, social media and digital we have to make sure we stay in touch with our customers. People want to be in touch with the brand.”
But Norsa is sure the growth will continue. “We are still seeing significant growth. Of course there are concerns for the future, but... reassuringly we have seen Chinese consumer confidence is still strong,” says Norsa. “And there are still so many Chinese consumers who are only just making their very first step into luxury.” China’s luxury shoppers join Brazilians, Arabs and Russians in Bond Street,
“Making sure the company is synonymous with Italy means every single item – bar the Swiss-made watch parts – is made in the country” The strategy has paid off so far. Last year revenues were up 26 percent to GBP 629 m ($1.27 bn) and its first half results for 2012 were up 22.9 percent to EUR 565.1 m ($726.4 m). Ferragamo’s rich Italian history might be in vogue with consumers in Asia, but the region’s growth spurt could be losing steam. Fears of a Chinese economic slowdown are causing shares in luxury goods brands to fall, and the likes of Hugo Boss and Burberry have reported slower growth in the region.
and Norsa is reeling off the nationalities which visit his London stores. “Here in London we have something very unusual. Nigerians are in our top three. “We have to make sure we have every size available for the different types of people who shop with us. And now we know exactly when Ramadan, Chinese New Year and Russia‘s Orthodox celebrations are.” With Bond Street a hot spot for the travelling global wealthy, Norsa‘s shopkeeping nous is paying off. n
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Lying just off Madagascar in the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is the perfect escape for honeymooners looking to do as much, or as little, as they like. Here are five of the best romantic escapes WORDS: Nick Walton
One&Only Le Saint GĂŠran
Island escape Breathtaking sunrises and warm tropical nights make Mauritius an ideal romantic escape
t’s not every day that sugarcane gets the right of way on a national highway. But whizzing through emerald green, shoulder-high sugar cane fields, which sway in the early morning breeze, it’s clear that the sweet stuff gets special dispensation here in the Indian Ocean’s Sugar Isles. It’s everywhere, in every corner, on every horizon, covering every hill and jutting up against the main road, which resembles a black python asleep in the grass. Located off the coast of Madagascar in the heart of the Indian Ocean, Mauritius is one of those destinations coveted by travellers in the know. Together with its sibling isles Réunion and Rodrigues, the three make up the Mascarene Islands, and have been a favourite destination for affluent travellers for decades. Mauritius is the name of the country as well as the main island; a flat, sun-kissed landscape punctuated by towering volcanic peaks, including Piton de la Petite Rivière Noirev, the island’s tallest at 2,717 ft.
There are towns and villages scattered along the rocky coastline, where powder-sand beaches slip into azure seas, but the majority of the island retains a rural and distinctly tropical tranquillity, with sugar plantations clustered around tiny, colourful villages and the odd luxury resort. The island was known to Arab, Malay and Phonecian sailors as early as the 10th century, but it wasn’t until ships from the Dutch Second Fleet were blown onto the island’s idyllic shores in a cyclone that it was officially inhabited. The Dutch and then the French controlled Mauritius before the island fell into the hands of the British after the Napoleonic wars. Mauritius achieved independence in 1968 but still holds its links to France close to its chest. English may be an official language, but it’s French-sounding Mauritian Creole that’s spoken in the markets and plantations, and the rumbling public buses, which trundle down the island’s narrow highways, display destinations like St. Louis, Camp de Masque
Pave, and Plein Bois. There’s little doubt that Mauritius is more French Riviera than British seaside.
ONCE IN A LIFETIME With its laid-back atmosphere and picturesque landscape, it’s no wonder Mauritius is popular among newlyweds. The oldest resort on Mauritius, located near its namesake shipwreck, One&Only Le Saint Géran, is the grande dame for many honeymooners looking for seclusion and sophistication. Opened in 1975 and remodelled in 1999, this luxurious hideaway is famed for its discrete service and stunning peninsula location, making it popular with A-list celebrities. Rooms look out through thousands of coconut palms to a tranquil lagoon, immaculate tropical gardens bursting with colour and over a mile of private beachfront. Accommodation for the amour-inclined comes in the form of 162 lavish suites, each of which boasts a private terrace or balcony,
Colours of paradise Cool contemporary design with bold colours at Sofitel So Mauritius
state-of-the-art technology and spacious bathrooms. But for the ultimate in luxury, head to the resort’s sole villa, with its private swimming pool, private entrance, 24-hour butler service and personal chef. The two-bedroom villa is located in a quiet corner of the resort and is equipped with Indian Ocean views, four-poster beds, and bathrooms with cascading showers and whirlpool baths, as well as the finest china and silverware for lavish impromptu dinner parties. The villa includes a welcome bottle of Dom Perignon, as well as daily canapes and sunset cocktails, an aromatherapy bath menu, and a complimentary dinner at La Terrasse. Dining plays an important role at the One&Only, and with good reason; there is a broad showcase of culinary offerings. But for romance personified, head to Rasoi by Vineet, which opened in 2007 and is located at the lagoon’s edge. The restaurant features the multi-award winning cuisine of Indian chef Vineet Bhatia, whose Michelin-starred
restaurant in Chelsea was named Indian Restaurant of the Year after only 12 months of operation. Book ahead for a table at the end of the pier and prepare yourself for a night to remember. Across the island, a new resort offers honeymooners a sense of luxury amidst otherworldly surroundings. Designed by Thai architect Lek Bunnag and Japanese designer Kenzo Takada, Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre is a quick drive from the airport, and yet with its South Coast location, is blissfully a world away from the hustle and bustle of the rat race, making it a perfect escape for honeymooners. A new brand extension for Sofitel, the resort’s 86 suites, six beach villas and two Beaulieu villas look almost sci-fi, with eggshell facades and stylish organic lines. Rooms are small by comparison to other resorts on the island and are not really ‘suites’ as there is no separate living space. However, they’ve been intelligently designed and
feature plenty of Kenzo’s influence. Couples will love the roomy al fresco bathtubs in each suite’s private courtyard. Escape from the world at the Beach Villa, with its king-sized bed, private garden, plunge pool and stunning sea views. The 110 sq m penthouse has been seamlessly integrated into the natural environment and comes with complimentary WiFi, a spacious sun patio, and customised amenities by Kenzo. Couples can also pamper themselves at the luxurious So Spa – the island’s most advanced – with its soak tubs, Turkish Hammam and menu of spa rituals that incorporate the fresh tropical fruits and spices of local plantations. One of the largest resorts on the island, the Constance Belle Mare Plage, is set on the beautiful east coast of Mauritius, overlooking the turquoise sea. A favourite with golfers looking to squeeze in a round on the adjacent Legends golf course, guests can also bide their time sun-worshiping on the resort’s
two-kilometre white sandy beach, snorkelling on the nearby coral reefs, and sampling some of the best cuisine on the island. The resort has 92 rooms spread over three levels, but for a true indulgence, head to one of the 20 luxurious beachfront villas, each of which measures between 375-525 sq m, with two to three bedrooms apiece. The airy villas are perfect for honeymooners; they come with their own plunge pool, spacious living areas and direct beach access. Enjoy romantic dinners in your private poolside sala or massage treatments on the beach in front of the villa, and be waited on by your own private butler. For such a large resort, dining remains an important part of the experience, and the culinary offerings at the Belle Mare Plage range from seaside buffets to intimate fine-dining restaurants. Dinner at the Deer Hunter restaurant showcases the best of tropical à la carte cuisine (come here for breakfast and you might spy the resort’s resident deer herd), while at La Spiaggia you’ll try fresh Mediterranean dishes in an intimate beachside setting. During the day, be sure to try the salads and snacks at Indigo
Beach, famed for its down to earth but delicious lobster nights and relaxed beach chair service. If eating like a king isn’t spoiling enough, head to the resort’s Le Spa de Constance, where a series of specialist Shiseido treatments will help couples energise their bodies and minds, while creating a true sense of harmony. Down a road that winds through lush sugar plantations and skims past deserted beaches is the intimate Constance Le Prince Maurice, which emerged last month from a lavish facelift that will guarantee its position as one of the most luxurious resorts in the Indian Ocean. Another favourite among couples, you’ll find far fewer children here. Instead, there is a sense of tranquillity throughout the 60 hectares of gardens, swimming pools and beachfront. Located on its own peninsula, Le Prince Maurice feels more like a private estate rather than a resort that couples have to share with others. There are 76 well appointed and spacious junior suites, each with thatched roofs and eight of which are located above a natural fish reserve, but for true pampering head to
“Sugarcane is everywhere, in every corner, on every horizon, covering every hill and jutting up against the main road, which resembles a black python asleep in the cane”
Hole in one (left) If you need a golf fix, Constance Belle Mare Plage has just the thing Overwater villas (below) Thatched roof junior suites at Constance Le Prince Maurice The beat goes on (right) Celebrate on the beach at One&Only Le Saint Géran
Wide open space Your own private estate at Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita Table for two Private sunset dining at One&Only Saint Geran The good life Enjoy private moments on an exclusive beach on Ile Aux Cerfs
one of the 12 villas. The nine Senior Villas have direct beach access and heated pools, while three are located above the lagoon. All villas have whirlpool baths and outdoor soak tubs, perfect for whiling away warm evenings with a chilled bottle of wine. Newlyweds can spend their days windsurfing, sailing, kayaking or exploring the nearby Flacq Markets, and finish with a poolside sunset cocktail followed by dinner in L’Archipel, an elegant al fresco restaurant with sweeping sea views and a menu of spicy Creole favourites. The Prince Maurice is also home to a new Spa de Constance, offering European-inspired spa treatments and wellness rituals created by Sisley. One of the most lavish resorts in the tiny island nation, the Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita’s 123 spacious villas are wreathed by coral seas and tropical gardens. Part of the expansive Anahita complex, the Four Seasons is especially good for couples who like to be active and would enjoy the complimentary rounds at the resort’s Ernie Els-designed course. Each villa displays breathtaking vistas through floor-to-ceiling windows that look over the lagoon and distant Bamboo Mountains, as well as seamless indoor/ outdoor living. Dressed in rich natural wood, volcanic stone and other indigenous materials, all villas feature landscaped
gardens with plunge pools, open-air bathrooms with deep soak tubs, and hightech conveniences. Honeymooners would be wise to book one of the resort’s opulent Ocean Villas. Secluded on the resort’s private island of Ile aux Chats, each features an ocean-front plunge pool, private beach access, covered patios and extra touches for those who are feeling amorous. The Four Seasons is best known among golfers, and for good reason. Its immaculate course is an 18-hole, par-72 championship green that’s remarkably kind to the visiting player, while still offering enough challenges for return matches. Four Seasons and Anahita villa guests get complimentary access to the course, which remains the best in Mauritius. Work out those post-golf aches and pains in the Four Seasons Spa, with an enviable menu of treatments. Located in the heart of an ancient mangrove forest, the Spa draws on Indian, African, Chinese and European wellness traditions. Cool down in one of the two Aqua Vichy rooms with a purifying sauna and ice fountain to follow, before commandeering a couples room for one of the Spa’s unique Sugar Adventure treatments, which consists of a cocoa ylang ylang sugar scrub foot bath, purifying sugar body polish and sugar cane massage. Finish off with a private dinner served on the patio of your villa under a canopy of stars. n
Thegoldenbook One&Only Le Saint Géran T: +230 401 1688
Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre T: +230 605 5800
Four Seasons Resort Mauritius at Anahita T: +230 402 3100
Constance Belle Mare Plage T: +230 402 2600
Constance Le Prince Maurice T: +230 402 3636
CeyLon reviSited From the ancient mansions of Colombo and the walled city of Galle Fort to the planterâ€™s bungalows of Hill Country, the legacy of Sri Lankaâ€™s colonial era remains a fundamental part of its identity WORDS: Joe Mortimer
Sri Lanka Explore
Amangalla The hotel is one of the most storied buildings in Galle Fort
If walls could talk Amangalla became the Oriental Hotel in 1863
ou have to admire the Dutch. In 1640 a fleet of 12 Dutch ships laid siege to the Portuguese fort at Galle, in what was then Ceylon, and eventually claimed victory after a long and bloody battle. In order to reach the fort, they had to negotiate perilous rocks, hidden reefs and crashing waves, not to mention the Portuguese cannons and muskets. Standing on the ramparts of the old fort on a gusty afternoon in late August, with waves pounding the rocky outcrops and warm winds churning up the surf, it seems a miracle that they even made it to shore. The Dutch victory in Galle marked the beginning of a long and prosperous relationship between northern Europe and Ceylon, one that would see Dutch, and then, from 1796, English influence affect everything from architecture and design to religion and agriculture. It is largely thanks to the enduring influence of these two once-mighty empires that Sri Lanka remains so charming today. My mission was to follow in the footsteps of the European buccaneers who called Ceylon their home, to try to recapture a fleeting sense of the colonial era. I also wanted to find out just what it is about Sri Lanka that led early Arabs explorers to call it â€˜Serendibâ€™; a word that later evolved into serendipity.
Photo: Joe Mortimer
Galle Library (left) Sri Lanka’s oldest library is home to a musty collection of books left by centuries of visitors British Lighthouse (right) One of the most enduing images of the British colonial period is the lighthouse at Point Utrecht Warleigh Church (below) The 19th century church in the highlands still conducts religious services in English
The journey starts in Galle Fort, because the UNESCO World Heritage Site was the seat of colonial power in Sri Lanka for more than 400 years. I then plan to continue east along what has to be one of the most underrated coastlines in the world, before heading inland up to Hill Country, where Sri Lanka’s worldrenowned tea industry was born in 1867. One of the best places to soak up the history of Galle Fort is the library at the charming Amangalla hotel, perhaps the most storied building within the fort walls. Built in 1684, the property started out as two separate houses before it was turned into the Dutch Military Officers’ headquarters. The building swapped its military inhabitants for paying customers in 1863, when it was bought by a group of English businessmen who turned it into the Oriental Hotel, one of more than a dozen hotels in the fort that did a brisk business providing accommodation for the merchants, traders and diplomats who came to Galle to trade spices, silks and gemstones.
Filled with original antique furniture, the library is home to a collection of books and photographs chronicling the history of Galle and Amangalla, and a small area dedicated to the life of Nesta Brohier, whose family owned the New Oriental Hotel from 1899 until 2001, when Amanresorts bought the estate. “I walked into the building in 1998 and fell in love with it,” says Olivia Richli, general manager of Amangalla. “It was a sleeping beauty that had been asleep for 100 years. Back then, you couldn’t find a decent cup of coffee in town.” Original mosaic flooring covers the terrace leading into the Zaal, or Great Hall, as the lobby is known. High ceilings, whitewashed walls and an ocean breeze keep the tropical heat at bay, so there’s no need for air conditioning. A collection of period furniture includes planters’ chairs and other collectibles like pettagamas (sea chests), almirahs and a 19th century wrought-iron safe that required 18 people to haul out from the back office.
Like Amangalla, Galle Fort also fell asleep when the seat of power and trade in Ceylon moved from Galle to Colombo in the mid-1800s and was largely forgotten until it was given UNESCO heritage status in 1992. This opened the doors to extensive renovation and restoration projects carried out under the auspices of the Galle Heritage Foundation, which is now based in the old hospital, where visitors can see a scale model of the city. Today, quiet alleyways with names like Church Street, Hospital Road and Lighthouse Street are like a living museum, with ancient colonial buildings crowding the roads. In Olanda Antiques, on Leyn Baan Street, you can shuffle along the aisles of ancient wooden furniture and shop for that perfect centrepiece for your home – perhaps an 80-year-old billiard table or a 24-foot Sri Lankan fishing canoe. No need to worry about packing – the owners can ship anything to wherever you call home.
“Schoolgirls skip hand in hand along the walls, groups of boys play cricket on the Army Camp, and couples walk arm in arm, stopping to gaze at the crashing waves and take photos of the lighthouse”
The Historical Mansion, one of the oldest homes in the fort, underwent a major renovation when it was taken over by businessman and philanthropist MHA Gaffar in 1992, but portions of the original 18th century clay and coral wall remain. The building is now home to the owner’s antiques trove, an impressive collection of everything from ancient Dutch coins bearing the VOC emblem of the Dutch East India Company to a collection of 1960s LPs. It’s also a great place to buy antique jewellery, but certainly not the only place in town to do so. Sri Lanka is famed for its gemstones, particularly the coveted Sri Lankan sapphires and diamonds, and the Fort is home to more than 50 jewellery shops selling everything from vintage pieces to funky modern designs and individual stones.
In the late afternoon, the fort’s inhabitants gather and stroll on the 400-year-old ramparts, which connect 14 fortified bastions, mostly built by the Dutch. Today, schoolgirls skip hand in hand along the walls, groups of boys play cricket on the Army Camp, and couples walk arm in arm, stopping to gaze at the crashing waves and take photos of the lighthouse. For a different perspective, the second-floor terrace of Amangalla is a great spot to take in the view of the red-roofed city, preferably accompanied by a sundowner; my whisky sour is tempered with lentil, curry leaf and garlic wade (a deepfried Sri Lankan snack) and slices of dried coconut. As I sip my drink I slip into reverie, floating out across the red roofs of the fort; the Dutch commander surveying his territory as night falls like an English cannonball.
An unhurried dinner on the magnificent terrace of the hotel is a lesson in colonial excess. I’m brought a traditional 11-course Sri Lankan curry, served, I’m told, as Sri Lankan families would eat in their own homes. The meal is a riot of flavour – an endless experiment in different combinations of spices and textures. The next morning, I have just enough time to check out two boutique hotels. Guests at the Galle Fort Hotel enjoy breakfast around a small pool surrounded by the property’s 12 suites, as GM Oliver James walks me through the courtyard pointing out the original architectural elements. Nearby, The Fort Printers hotel occupies an 18th century building that has been home to the Bank of Ceylon, Mahinda College and, until 2002, the Fort Printers, whose wrought-iron press is the centre of the minimal lobby.
INTO HILL COUNTRY When the European settlers had made themselves at home in Ceylon, they started moving inland and began setting up rubber plantations and spice gardens, before the English realised the lucrative potential of coffee. Enterprising individuals and companies set out to plant swathes of land with coffee trees, which thrived in Ceylon’s cooler interior, until a fungus killed off virtually all of the plants in the early 19th century. Bankrupt and despairing, many of the planters had given up hope and returned to England when Scotsman James Taylor returned from a trip to India with a few sacks of seeds and planted Ceylon’s first tea estate near mountainous Kandy, giving birth to what quickly became one of Sri Lanka’s most important industries. Tea spread across Ceylon like wildfire and planter’s bungalows popped up like mushrooms in the late 19th century. Today, more than 188,000 hectares of tea estates cover Sri Lanka, from the coastal lowlands to the lofty heights of Hill Country. And so it is with no lack of awe that I sit with Andrew Taylor, a distant relative of James Taylor, under a small gazebo in the garden of an old planter’s bungalow, sipping a steaming hot cup of tea after an exhausting tour of the Norwood Estate tea factory.
The Great Hall (above) Amangalla’s lobby is the epitope of colonial luxury Planter’s Life (opposite page) Castlereagh bungalow is surrounded by a quaint English garden Casa Colombo (right) Original elements are enhanced with contemporary items like this bronze tub
Sri Lanka Explore
“Castlereagh Bungalow was built in 1925. I lived there for two years when I was manager of the estate, before we converted all four bungalows into what you see now, in 2005,” he explains. “We have created fivestar comfort but they still have the colonial look and feel.” Perched on the banks of Castlereagh reservoir, some 50km from the regional capital Nuwara Eliya, Castlereagh is one of four planter’s bungalows that make up Ceylon Tea Trails, part of the Dilmah tea company and a member of the prestigious Relais & Châteaux group. Between the four bungalows, a criss-cross of walking trails takes visitors around some of the most picturesque scenery in Sri Lanka, right into the heart of tea-picking country. Strolling through the plantations, I pass groups of pluckers bent under sacks of tea, which are filled with up to 16kg of leaves at a time. “Around the 1920s, the estate managers decided to give the planters bungalows like this so they could have better living conditions and lots of space, so that they could invite friends and family to come over for a weekend. It breaks the monotony of a dull life here,” Andrew continues. “Housewives were given large gardens so that they could keep themselves occupied. That’s why there are such large gardens.”
Later, I take a seat on the terrace to soak in the emerald sea of tea plants all around me, and the tall eucalyptus, cypress and palm trees in the curiously English garden. The small swimming pool surrounded by sun loungers used to be a pond, says manager Chaminda Fonseka, whose team of staff make visitors feel like family guests. We’re soon joined by the chef, who wants to discuss the evening’s menu – spring vegetable soup followed by baked fillet of seer fish with fresh garden vegetables, then coconut tart with vanilla ice cream for dessert. It must have been tough being a planter, I think, as the sun dips behind the house. That evening I chat to a pair of newlyweds who are in Sri Lanka for a few days before continuing to the Maldives. “A week of culture before a week on the beach was the perfect mix for a honeymoon,” they tell me over postprandial drinks in the cosy library lounge. There is no need for the open log fire tonight, but in cooler weather it’s an ideal setting to curl up and pore over one of the books about Sri Lanka’s tea history. The next day, the drive back to Colombo is long and hair-raising, much like every other road journey I have taken in this land of serendipity. For an alternative way of getting around, a handful of companies offer helicopter and jet charters from Colombo to airports all over the country.
TSUNAMI AMANGALLA Amanresorts managed the New Oriental Hotel from 1995 until 2003, when it closed down for extensive renovation. It reopened as Amangalla on December 11, 2004, just 15 days before the Indian Ocean tsunami ravaged the Sri Lankan coast. The thick walls of Galle Fort and its elevated position protected it from the impact of the waves, which devastated the low-lying town of Galle outside the fort’s walls, killing almost 3,000 people and destroying hundreds of buildings. Water came into the fort through the two gates – the only points of entry – where it remained and stagnated for several weeks, damaging part of the fort’s old drainage system. The old Dutch Warehouse also suffered substantial structural damage, but overall, the fort’s buildings and inhabitants escaped the full weight of the tsunami. “The fort felt like a little island – like it didn’t happen,” says Amangalla GM Olivia Richli , whose team provided food, water and shelter to hundreds of homeless townspeople who sought refuge at the hotel in the wake of the tragedy. As well as the countless NGOs who took over every hotel room and empty house in the fort in the weeks, months and years after the tsunami, the Dutch government stepped in to help repair much of the damage, funding the restoration of 54 houses in the fort, as well as the rennovation of the the old Dutch Warehouse, which now houses the National Maritime Archaeology Museum.
“The city has a certain neglected air about it, with grand colonial buildings next to run-down 70s-style eye-sores” For two people, budget around US$2,000 for return flights from Colombo to Galle in a private jet, or $2,500 for a helicopter. But approaching Colombo from the road reveals one of the most surprising things about the capital – you’re in its heart before you realise it. The city has a certain neglected air about it, with grand colonial buildings next to run-down 70s-style eyesores, but like the rest of the country, which is made up of pockets of perfection joined by poor roads and shabby towns, Colombo has plenty of charm for those who know where to look. Turning off a busy main street brings you abruptly to a magnificently renovated colonial mansion, which was brought back to life and turned into Casa Colombo (above), one of the city’s coolest boutique hotels, six years ago. Hotel manager Willem Fokkenrood discovered the hidden gem during a visit to Colombo while he was working at a resort in the Maldives, and Casa Colombo became his home from home on subsequent trips to Sri Lanka, before taking up a permanent position at the hotel.
Like the other colonial-style hotels I have stayed in, Casa Colombo is permeated with an air of history. The restoration project drew on original design elements for inspiration and created something that was at once nostalgic and futuristic. And that seems to be true of Sri Lanka as a whole, or at least the small portion of it I have encountered on this visit. Decades of civil war and devastating events like the tsunami of 2004 have prevented the kind of uncontrolled growth seen in other Asian destinations. Hotels tend to be small and boutique, and often occupy old, charismatic buildings. As a destination it still has an undiscovered quality about it; the few other tourists I met seemed aware that they had stumbled on a hidden gem and seemed content to keep it their little secret. But at the same time peace has brought prosperity and a new interest in the country. Sri Lanka has a lot of lost time to make up for, but I for one hope that progress will not come at the expense of the charm and warm hospitality that made it the fabled land of Serendip. n
Thegoldenbook Amangalla Tel: +94 777 743 500
Ceylon Tea Trails Tel: +94 11 230 3888
Casa Colombo Tel: +94 11 452 0130
Deccan Aviation Lanka Tel: +94 777 703 703
Health is wealth When hunters stumbled upon hot water flowing from the rocks of the Tamina Gorge in the Swiss highlands in the mid 13th century, the legend of Bad Ragaz was born. The hot springs were first found to have curative properties in 1535, putting the destination on the map for royals and visiting dignitaries who travelled from all over to experience the miracle water. More than 750 years later, the natural springs and their healing properties attract thousands of visitors to the mountain resort every year, and there’s plenty more on offer for the discerning visitor. Today, the ancient palaces built for the early rulers of the Swiss Confederation make up some of the key elements of the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland’s leading health and wellness resort. The five-star Grand Hotel Hof Ragaz and Grand Hotel Quellenhof & Spa Suites represent the finest expression of Swiss luxury, with a selection of rooms and spacious suites that provide guests with access to the resort’s abundant facilities and dramatic views of the surrounding mountains. At the heart of the resort is the 36.5˚ Wellbeing & Thermal Spa, where an extensive range of treatments based around the healing properties of the thermal waters combined with modern techniques and luxurious amenities, as well as state-of-the-art medical facilities, transports guests into world where vitality and wellbeing are core. For active visitors and professional sportsmen, there is no better place to work on your performance than the Swiss Olympic Medical Centre, headed by Dr. Christian Schlegel – Chief Medical Officer for the Swiss Olympic team at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver – and Dr. Christian Hoppe. Outside, the resort’s two golf courses stretch across some of the most picturesque landscape in Europe, with mountains and lakes for a backdrop. The 18-hole PGA Championship Course has been a venue on the annual European Seniors Tour for more than 10 years, and the 9-hole Executive Course is ideal for amateur golfers and pros looking to test their short game. The surrounding landscape is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream, with endless hiking and mountain biking trails around the Tamina Valley in the summer and plenty of skiing and snowboarding opportunities on nearby Pizol mountain in the winter. So whether you’re looking for a medical overhaul combined with five-star hospitality, a golfing holiday with friends in the stunning Swiss countryside, or an opportunity to take your sporting prowess to the next level, Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is your one-stop solution.
CONTACT Grand Resort Bad Ragaz AG7310 Bad Ragaz, Switzerland Tel: +41 81 303 30 30 Fax: +41 81 303 30 33 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org www.resortragaz.ch
NIGHT & DAY
There’s a lot to explore and perhaps even more to eat in 24 hours in this westcoast Canadian city. Here’s how to make it count
Words: Caitlin Cheadle
07.00 Arrive at Vancouver International Airport (YVR) and hop into a taxi if you’re feeling lazy, otherwise you can take the convenient new Canada Line (www.thecanadaline.com), a high-speed monorail system that leaves directly from the airport and takes you to the heart of downtown Vancouver. 08.00 Check in. Vancouver’s turn as the host of the Winter Olympics in 2010 earned it a handful of new five-star hotels, including the Shangri-La Hotel Vancouver, currently the tallest tower in the city (www.shangri-la.com), and the Fairmont Pacific Rim (www.fairmont.com). Both are sleek and modern, combining earthy elements like wood, stone and water fixtures with feng shui principles and sweeping views of the ocean, snow-capped mountains and skyscrapers of downtown Vancouver. 09.00 To say that Vancouver is a multicultural city is an understatement - you’ll find almost every ethnicity imaginable living here, and this is reflected in the city’s thriving culinary scene.
For breakfast, do as the locals do and treat yourself to dim sum inside the glorious art deco Marine Building at Imperial (www.imperialrest.com), a five-minute walk from either hotel. If you’d prefer a western-style breakfast, take a seat at the quaint Italian café Scoozis (www.scoozis.ca), also within walking distance, and order one of their Deep Dishes, a cross between a quiche and an omelette. 10.30 Vancouver is wedged between ocean and mountains, and its claim to fame is that you can go boating and skiing in the same day. If you’re visiting in the summertime, swap the skiing for a morning hike at one of the local mountains, which are about a half-hour drive from your hotel. Those who want a challenge can try the Grouse Grind, a nearly-vertical trail up the face of Grouse Mountain (www. grousemountain.com), which fitnessobsessed Vancouverites flock to on the weekends. It’s no picnic, but you can reward yourself at the top with breathtaking views of the city which stretch over the North Shore mountains and across Howe Sound. Take the cable car back down to the base.
14.00 It’s time to explore the city by water, but first you’ll need to recharge your batteries. Head to Granville Island (www.granvilleisland.com), once the city’s industrial centre and now a bustling seaside market crammed with artisan shops, restaurants, bars and unbeatable waterfront views. Take a seat on the outdoor terrace at The Sandbar (www.vancouverdine.com/sandbar) and order from an extensive menu of fresh local seafood and British Columbian wines. If you’re not in the mood for a fancy lunch, park yourself at Go Fish (+1 604 730 5040), a tiny waterfront fish and chips shack that’s been beloved by locals and tourists alike since it opened in 2006. 16.00 You can rent a kayak from Ecomarine Ocean Kayak (www.ecomarine.com) and paddle around Vancouver’s waterfront at your leisure, or you can grab a water taxi – either way, you’ll get a great view of the city. The tiny water taxis operate rain or shine (they are covered and have windows), ferrying passengers to convenient locations along the city’s waterfront.
17.00 Disembark at Yaletown, where Vancouver’s youthful earners pay top dollar for shoeboxsized loft apartments, and designer boutiques and restaurants line the streets. Do some window shopping and pop into Rodney’s Oyster House (www.rohvan.com), where fresh BC oysters arrive by the plateful and wine is served in tumblers filled to the brim, just to make things more interesting. Have a snack and a drink here and move on. There’s still lots more to see. 19.00 Continue on to Gastown, Vancouver’s historic downtown waterfront district, full of cobbled streets and art deco and Victorian-era buildings, most of which have now been converted into exposed-brick bars and restaurants where the city’s artsy types love to hang out. L’abattoir (www.labattoir.ca), Chill Winston (chillwinston.com) and House Guest (+1 604 699 0249) are the hotspots du jour – all serve inventive cocktails and tasty, creative dishes featuring plenty of fresh, local ingredients.
22.00 Hop in a taxi and continue east until Gastown turns into Chinatown. Currently on the brink of gentrification, there are now some pretty swanky venues popping up in this part of town. Here you’ll find one of the city’s coolest new watering holes, the speakeasy-style Keefer Bar (www.thekeeferbar. com), specialising in whisky cocktails and live music. 00.00 If you’re not ready for bed, head to Fortune Sound Club (www.fortunesoundclub.com), where some of the best DJs in the city keep the dancefloor packed all night. It’s chic inside, but from the outside you’d never know it’s there - look for the queues outside.
02.00 Head to your hotel for a few hours of shut-eye.
Fairmont Pacific Rim
07.00 After the 24 hours you’ve had, you’re going to need a taxi back to the airport. Book one through your hotel and be on your way. n
Rosewood Hotel Georgia
Shangri-La Hotel, Vancouver Tel: +1 604 689 1120 www.shangri-la.com
Tel: +1 604 695 5300 www.fairmont.com
Tel: +1 604 682 5566 www.rosewoodhotels.com
Fine Art Asia
Hong Kong, Oct 4 – 7
As Asia’s leading art fair, Fine Art Asia presents a combination of unique art and antiques from east and west, with the most renowned galleries in Asia and over 90 leading dealers from Asia, Europe and America exhibiting rare and authentic treasures such as ancient Chinese bronzes, Himalayan art, Chinese ceramics, textiles and furniture, fine art jewellery, rare and antique watches, paintings and sculptures. The event coincides with Sotheby’s autumn auctions in Hong Kong, making this a must-visit for dealers, collectors and connoisseurs. www.fineartasia.com
La Nuit Blanche
Paris, Oct 6
First launched in 2002, Paris Nuit Blanche (White Night) is a freefor-all, one-night celebration of art. Galleries, museums, city halls, hotels, and every other venue imaginable will open their doors to the public for shows and exhibitions, live performances and concerts. The atmosphere is sophisticated but lively, with an emphasis on good food and drink. Beginning at 7pm, it lasts a full 12 hours, and free breakfasts are served throughout the city for those who make it through until 7am. www.nuitblanche.paris.fr
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe Paris, October 6 – 7
A glamorous Parisian institution since its inauguration in 1920, this is the most significant racing event in France, held annually at the historic Longchamp Racecourse beside the Bois de Boulogne in western Paris. Attracting an international crowd of more than 60,000, today the race is sponsored by Qatar Equestrian Club, which has increased the total prize pot to EUR 4 million (US$5.1 million). It’s a fabulous time to visit Paris. www.prixarcdetriomphe.com
amfAR Inspiration Gala LA Los Angeles, Oct 11
NYC Wine and Food Fest
New York, Oct 11 – 14
A true delight for all foodies, this event brings together legendary culinary icons from around the globe, including America’s most beloved television chefs, for a weekend of lectures, tastings and live demonstrations to satisfy every appetite. One hundred percent of net proceeds raised by the festival will go directly toward hunger-relief initiatives such as the Food Bank for New York City and the Share Our Strength campaign. www.nycwineandfoodfestival.com
This series of galas, held across the world in cities like New York, Paris, and Sao Paulo, has raised more than US$5 million towards the fight against AIDS since its inception. Attended every year by a VVIP guestlist and a who’swho roster of celebrities, this year’s LA event is hosted by American talk show host Chelsea Handler, with special guest Sarah Jessica Parker. www.amfar.org
Cocktails on Necker Island, a private jet tour of New Zealand or Europe, perhaps an escape to North Island in the Seychelles – here’s how to spend it this month
Tiger Tour 2013 If you want to see the real New Zealand, the New Zealand of Lord of the Rings fame, you’re going to need to leave the city and explore the wild landscape of one of earth’s final frontiers. But that doesn’t mean leaving comfort behind. The Tiger Tour 2013 invites four couples on an exclusive tour of New Zealand’s North and South islands, with accommodation in three of its most exclusive boutique lodges: The Lodge at Kauri Cliffs, The Farm at Cape Kidnappers, and Matakauri Lodge. Transportation between the lodges by private jet and helicopter will give guests privileged views of New Zealand’s rugged mountains, glistening lakes and fjords and dramatic coastlines, while ground tours cover everything from horse riding and sailing to a tour of one of the country’s wineries. The oncein-a-lifetime opportunity also includes green fees at three golf courses owned by founder and lodge owner Julian H. Robertson Junior. From: March 11-20 Cost: NZ$24,900 (US$20,439) plus 15% government tax. Based on double or twin occupancy. Book: email@example.com www.capekidnappers.com
Golf at Kauri Cliffs
Living the dream
*All prices are subject to change. Please contact the listed companies for further information.
Beyond the Age of Empires
Whether you are an actual billionaire or an aspiring one, you’re guaranteed inspiration with this golden opportunity in the British Virgin Islands. Gather a close group of friends and set out for Necker Island, the home and favourite hideaway of Sir Richard Branson, in the heart of the Caribbean. The island and its eight luxurious suites are available for exclusive hire for the first quarter of 2013, giving you the chance to live out your own island fantasy, if only for a short time. The nightly rate of US$42,500 gets you exclusive use of the 74-acre island, as well as the full attention of the island’s team of 60 staff. Perhaps you’d like to learn how to kite surf or try waterskiing or kayaking? The dedicated watersports team will help. Or maybe you’d rather relax in the Beach House – home to a 26-foot sofa, massive plasma screen TV, pool table and bar? Then again perhaps some time by the infinity pool or in one of the island’s hammocks is more up your street? When you are master of your own luxury island, anything is possible. From: January 2 – March 31, 2013 Cost: from US$42,500 per night for up to 16 guests in eight suites. Includes exclusive use of the island, all meals and drinks including champagne and fine wines, use of all facilities and water sports equipment. Book: firstname.lastname@example.org www.neckerisland.virgin.com
Explore Europe’s newest country, Kosovo
The lines of the world map have changed dramatically during the last century – from the newly independent Balkan states and former Soviet Bloc countries to the geographical borders of Central Europe. One way to delve into the histories of the world’s newest states is to join TCS & Starquest Expeditions and its team of historians and travel experts on this exclusive 20-day private jet tour. The epic journey starts in Stockholm and meanders through the Mediterranean island of Corsica, the Serbian capital Belgrade, Minsk in Belarus, Turkmenistan, the Empty Quarter of the UAE, Bulgaria’s picturesque capital Sofia, Europe’s newest country Kosovo, Croatia and Montenegro, before ending up in Sweden. Your custom-made Boeing 757 has been kitted out to accommodate 78 passengers in luxury, with pre-loaded iPads and Bose headsets, meals based on the cuisine of countries visited, and on-board lectures. From: September 30 to October 20, 2013 Cost: US$62,950 based on two sharing. Includes private jet flights, accommodation and meals. Book: info@TCSandSQ.com tcsandsq.com
Escape Together Life unfolds at a different pace on Desroches Island, a place where the cares of the world seem so remote, you can’t help but unwind. Treat yourself and your loved one to three nights of bliss in a Beach Suite or Beach Retreat before the end of the year and the resort will guarantee it’s an experience to remember. Start with a bowl of tropical fruit and pop the cork on a bottle of Moët to celebrate your arrival in paradise, then get ready for several days of indulgence. Daily meals are taken care of, including an exclusive in-suite five-course dinner complete with private chef and butler, with the sound of the waves as your background music and the starry night sky for a roof. For the ultimate indulgence, the couple’s Escape spa experience includes a 60-minute Swedish massage, 20-minute footbath and a mini facial. Transfers to and from the island are also included, so all you have to do is focus on each other. From: book before October 31 – stay before December 23. Cost: EUR 4,650 ($5,450) for three nights in the Beach Suite or EUR 6,027 ($7,235) for three nights in the Beach Retreat. Excludes 15% tax and 10% service charge. Book: email@example.com www.desroches-island.com
North Island If the Seychelles is the stuff of dreams, then North Island is that amazing part of a dream you reach just before waking up; that fleeting memory that haunts you during your waking hours. The super-exclusive island resort won fame last year as the honeymoon destination of choice for Prince William and his new bride the Duchess of Cambridge, with 11 luxurious private villas designed to connect guests with the pristine environment of the island, fringed with powdery white sand beaches and a collection of unique experiences for guests to enjoy. After a few days’ pampering, you’ll want to get out and explore the island or the dazzling Indian Ocean waters that surround it. Scuba diving courses are included in the rate, as well as snorkelling trips at various dive sites around the island, sea kayaking, sunset cruises and even half-day fishing trips. Those who prefer dry land can explore the island by mountain bike, or take a guided tour or shore-based fishing trip. Book six nights before December 20 and you’ll get one extra night to enjoy paradise. From: now until December 20, 2012 Cost: from EUR 2,285 (US$2,930) per night per person including all meals and beverages, scuba diving courses and activities. Book six nights and get the seventh free. Book: firstname.lastname@example.org www.north-island.com
Exclusive Madrid Relaxing under the stars in a rooftop jacuzzi, Nicci Perides experiences the high life in Hesperia Madrid
he most exclusive clubs are those that no one knows about; those that are hidden in the back streets, or those that only the most well-informed have knowledge of. I have visited Madrid many times, but finding a hotel with a private hot tub in each of its penthouse suites seems to have always escaped me. Not this time. I enter into the lobby entrance of the Hesperia Madrid and what immediately strikes me is how bright and airy the open-plan reception area is. The whole of the ground floor is laid out in front of you; the reception and concierge to the right, the all-day dining restaurant and terrace in front and the Scotch bar to the left, plus the stairwell entrance to the two-Michelin star restaurant, Santceloni. The staff greet me on arrival, check me in and within five minutes I am quickly ushered into the lifts and shown to the ninth floor. It is all so effortless. I should also mention that before questions even came to my lips they were answered. “Your WiFi has been enabled madam, and password placed in your key card holder”, and “should you need an adaptor, please just let us know and we can provide one.” The two essentials I need when travelling were quickly dealt with.
I arrive at room 902, the Presidential Suite, which comprises a bedroom, living area, work desk and luxurious bathroom stocked with the latest Bvlgari products. The bookshelves immediately pull my focus; huge, heavy coffee table books are stacked on the shelves, each one still immaculate with not a torn corner in sight. The large bowls of fruit, nuts and pastries are also a nice touch. There is ample entertainment on offer – two wide-screen TVs (one in the lounge and one in the bedroom), iPod docking station and a wide selection of movies available too. Wooden decking runs the length of the terrace, which is about the same size as my suite. Below are the streets of Madrid and to the rear of the patio sits the legendary hot tub. It is perfectly private and has enough sun loungers to accommodate a few guests. Immediately I wish my friends were in town – this could have been an ideal place to hold a drinks soiree. The interior of the suite is elegant and homely; it has an instantly comfy feel. The Nespresso machine and other cool gadgets throughout make it an ideal space to work in too, although I admit I am distracted by the terrace and hot tub.
The important bit Suite: Presidential Suite What: Hesperia Madrid Where: Paseo de la Castellana, 57. 28046 Madrid, Spain Price: from EUR 450 (US$575) per night www.hesperia.com The Presidential Suite at the Hesperia Madrid certainly has every luxury a suite needs, but its selling point is definitely the hot tub. For this reason I will be returning. It’s not hard to see why this is one of Madrid’s best-kept secrets. n
There are plenty of surprises in store at Gordon Ramsay restaurant at The St. Regis Doha, says Joe Mortimer The important bit What: Gordon Ramsay Where: The St. Regis Doha Cost: approx QAR 1,450 (US$398) for two, excluding beverages. Book: +974 4446 0105 www.stregisdoha.com
here is a pop, a gasp and then a cheer as sommelier Julian Biddulph opens a bottle of champagne with a sabre on the patio outside Gordon Ramsay restaurant in The St. Regis Doha on a balmy summer’s evening. It’s still too warm outside to enjoy the bubbles under the stars, so we make ourselves comfortable in the Conservatory – a circular glass-roofed space that serves as an anteroom for diners eating at either of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants in the hotel: Opal, a chic brasserie, and the eponymous Gordon Ramsay. I plan to dine in the latter – the hotel’s signature fine dining restaurant – but not before I have enjoyed the surroundings of the Conservatory. A skeletal white tree grows downwards from the centre of the rotunda, whose windows display a surreal image of a man standing on a ladder looking over a hedge. Soft leather armchairs and comfy sofas make it a great environment for an aperitif or a postprandial cigar, and the central perch has four snug seats that are ideal for couples.
The main dining room of the restaurant, reached through two giant grey doors, is a lesson in understated refinement. It’s like the drawing room of a British manor house, sparsely furnished with a marble fireplace as its focal point. There is so much space that it feels like they are still waiting for some of the handmade furniture to be delivered. The orange vases on the fireplace leap out in bold contrast against the greys and creams that make up the rest of the palette. Nevertheless, my dining companions are suitably impressed with the surroundings, and as I peer deeper into the restaurant I can see a second seating area that isn’t quite so bereft of atmoshpere, as well as a private dining room that can be closed off with another great grey door. The restaurant also has its own entrance, which guests can access from outside the hotel to avoid the walk through the lobby. The taster menu, prepared by executive chef Gilles Bosquet, is quite outstanding. We start with a delicious salad of smoked eel with asparagus emulsion, followed by terrine of duck foie gras with rhubarb and rocket leaves, both of which are merely a teaser for what is to come. I’ve been looking forward to the ravioli of lobster, shellfish and salmon with lemongrass and chervil veloute – a dish made popular in Ramsay’s other restaurants, according to my companions, who are better versed in cuisine à la Ramsay than I – which turns out to be a rich and buttery delight. The first main course is pan-fried turbot with stuffed zucchini flowers, baby Gulf prawns, peas and fragrant saffron sauce. It’s light and complex, the saffron sauce adding a hint of eastern flavour to the zucchini flowers. An irresistible roasted sirloin of Australian wagyu beef with tartine of panisse and confit of shallot sauce is course number five, which almost jeopardises my ability to face dessert: slow-cooked strawberries with lemongrass sorbet, blueberry marmalade and churros crouton. This month sees the opening of the hotly anticipated Jazz at the Lincoln Center Doha in the hotel – the first in a series of jazz clubs created in a joint venture between St. Regis and the legendary New York jazz club, and the first Lincoln Center-branded jazz club outside the US. I can’t think of a better prelude to a night of jazz than a meal at Gordon Ramsay. n
ON THE ROAD
RANGE ROVER Engine: 5.0-litre supercharged V8 BHP: 510 Torque: 625 Nm 0-100kph: 5.4 secs Top speed: 225 kph Emissions: 169g/km Origin: Solihull, UK Cost: from GBP 71,295 (US$114,950)
“Designing the next generation Range Rover, following over 40 years of success, came with a huge responsibility to protect the DNA of such an icon” Gerry McGovern, design director and chief creative officer, Land Rover
Before anything else can be said about this wonderfully sleek great white shark of a 4x4, it must be stated that the fourth generation Range Rover is 39 percent lighter than its previous incarnation, representing weight savings of 420 kg. That’s almost half a tonne lighter. The savings come from the new all-aluminium monocoque body structure, which is made in a new state-of-the-art aluminium manufacturing facility in Solihull in the UK. Also new are the latest Terrain Response system, which analyses driving conditions and selects the most suitable settings for the terrain, more spacious and luxurious interiors, acoustic lamination to reduce noise levels, and re-engineered four-corner air suspension system.
PORSCHE 911 CARRERA 4S CABRIOLET Engine: 3.8-litre boxer BHP: 400 0-100kph: 4.3 secs Top speed: 296 kph Fuel consumption: 9.2 l/100km Emissions: 217 g/km Origin: Germany Cost: EUR 125,046 (US $121,600)
The next generation of Porscheâ€™s all-wheel drive 911 Carrera 4 collection features four models, the highlight of which is the Carrera 4S Cabriolet. With an additional 22mm width on the rear wheel arches compared to
regular 911 models, the 4-range looks that little bit more solid, despite its lightweight frame, somewhat reminiscent of the old 959. Better fuel efficiency and high performance make the 4S Cabrio an attractive little package this autumn.
CRUISE CONTROL The Audi A5 Cabriolet is just as comfortable on the open road as it is on winding mountain roads, says Joe Mortimer DUBAI isn’t really the best place to drive around in a sporty convertible. The traffic fumes, fierce sun and a collection of exotic and not always pleasant smells means that even in the winter, it’s advisable to keep the windows up and the AC on. That’s why I took the Audi A5 Cabriolet on a road trip to the East Coast of the UAE for this month’s review. This particular model – the 3.0 TFSI Quattro S tronic – is fitted with Audi’s S Line exterior package, sports suspension and front sport seats, which makes a very clear statement: this car might look like a weekend cruiser, but it is also built for performance. On the arrow-straight roads that lead away from Dubai, the A5 settles into an effortless cruise, seemingly holding back power for quick bursts of acceleration when it’s needed. The aerodynamic shape of the windshield and windows makes cruising in the A5 Cabrio a lot less noisy than other convertibles, but at midday, the air conditioning struggles to match the heat of the Arabian sun. Fortunately, putting the roof up is as easy as pulling over and pressing a button - it’s all over in 30 seconds. 78
July 2012 October 2012dotwnews.com dotwnews.com
It’s when the road starts climbing into the Hajar Mountains that the car really comes into its own. For the next 30km, the road is lined with an endless sequence of switchbacks and hairpin turns. Gearshifts are seamless in ‘Comfort’ mode – part of the Audi drive select package – and the 272bhp supercharged engine makes light work of inclines. Nappa leather sports seats keep me fixed in place as the Audi cruises around 180-degree turns, and the 19-inch alloy wheels grip the road as we wind down to the Indian Ocean, hugging the jagged mountains. On the roads to the south of town, the sports suspension makes the ride a little bumpy, even in comfort mode, but the GPS has relocated us after dropping off the map for the last half an hour, and I’ve made my peace with the onboard computer by the time we roll into Fujairah. The A5 is perhaps the perfect allrounder. With the roof up and ‘Sport’ mode selected, you have a high performance vehicle that you could easily take on the track, but press a button or two and it’s transformed into a civilised, elegant car that’s perfect for a weekend cruise. ■
NUTS & BOLTS
Engine: 3.0-litre TFSI quattro BHP: 272 Torque: 400Nm 0-100kph: 6.3 secs Fuel consumption: 8.5 l/100km Emissions: 199 g/km Top speed: 250 kph Origin: Germany Cost: from AED 238,000 (US$64,800). This model AED 259,300 ($70,600).
Seasonal scents for her
Lâ€™ARTisAN TUBEREUsE EAU dE ToiLETTE A warm, sensual fragrance dominated by rich tuberose and fleshed out with notes of ylang ylang and coconut milk. Perfect for a romantic evening stroll under the stars.
MiLLER HARRis Noix dE TUBEREUsE The latest fragrance From Miller Harris is a tribute to the heady, floral scent of tuberose, with mellow notes of tonka bean, amber, clover, mimosa and violet adding depth and mystery.
Wear it in: Venice
Wear it in: Grasse
Penhaligon’s Peoneve eau De Parfum Inspired by an English garden in the summer, Penhaligon’s Peoneve bursts with floral notes of velvety peony, violet leaf and peppery Bulgarian rose, grounded by vetiver, musk and cashmere wood.
salvatore ferragamo signorina A light and playful scent that’s perfect for long leisurely lunches, Signorina blends jasmine, rose and peony petals with spicy pink pepper, creamy panna cotta, soft musks and woody patchouli.
Juicy couture viva la Juicy A boldly feminine scent, Viva La Juicy combines sweet top notes of wild berries, mandarin and honeysuckle with floral notes of gardenia and jasmine and decadent caramel, vanilla and praline.
Wear it in: Devon
Wear it in: Madrid
Wear it in: Versailles
POSITIONING YOUR INVESTMENT FOR GROWTH
LOOKING TO INVEST IN RUSSIA & THE CIS? Now in its 8th year, the Russia & CIS Hotel Investment Conference (RHIC) has become the region’s largest industry gathering, with over 450 key players under one roof. Nowhere else is it possible to meet so many of the region’s most influential decision makers in once place, at one time. The conference programme will explore the opportunities current market conditions present for hotel investors, enabling you to discover how to position your investment for growth. For those looking to do business in Russia & the CIS, RHIC is the must-attend event. Make valuable contacts — Discover the latest trends — Identify new business opportunities
www.russia-cisconference.com or call +44 (0)1462 490609 CO N F E R E N C E H O S TS
Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels P L AT I N U M S P O N S O R S
The Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group Corinthia Hotels Horwath HTL Hungary & Russia GOLD SPONSORS
ACCOR AECOM Airportcity Saint-Petersburg Argentina National Institute of Tourism Promotion AZIMUT Hotels Cushman & Wakefield Deloitte DLA Piper Ernst & Young Hilton Worldwide HVS IHG Interstate Management Services, Inc Marriott International, Inc Orient-Express Hotels Salans Schneider Electric Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc WATG Wyndham Hotel Group Sponsors confirmed as of 22 August 2012
Height of good taste
BA has introduced a series of menus designed to taste good at 30,000 feet. According to the airline, food in the air tastes different to that on the ground because our tastebuds don’t function as well, losing 30 percent of their sensitivity. So BA has altered its recipes, adding sweet, sour, bitter and salt elements to food to “bring out the right tones” of flavour. Already the airline has compared thousands of wines to find out which keep their flavour at higher altitudes and which ones end up tasting like vinegar.
Happy hour goes to the dogs
As an increasing number of five-star hotels are becoming pet-friendly, a new trend has begun cropping up: happy hour for dogs. Bowser Beer, a hops-free, beef-based bottled beverage for dogs, has been on the market since 2008, but it’s only recently that it’s started to make an appearance in hotels. The five-star Le Parc Suite in Hollywood, California, has now begun packing the beverage in a kit that includes water, a food bowl and a ‘pet magazine’. The pet-friendly FireSky Resort & Spa in Arizona also serves the beverage, and Hotel Monaco in Portland, Oregon has created special pet packages featuring the beer, and even serves complimentary Bowser Beer to guests’ four-legged companions during their nightly ‘wine hours’.
Desperately seeking Sasquatch
Looking for a job that’s off the beaten track? How about one that lets you explore the great outdoors in a four-wheel-drive and hang out with primate-like creatures? Assuming your answer is yes, you may want to consider applying for the position of Bigfoot Researcher that was recently posted on Craigslist by a “not-for-profit organization located in Whitehall, NY”, seeking a “high energy, team-oriented research entity that is involved in the tracking, documenting and study of cryptozoological creatures with a deep interest in the study and search of bipedal primitive apes.” Job responsibilities will be to “investigate, document and interview individuals with reported Bigfoot sightings”. The candidate must be prepared for “occasional travel to remote areas of Adirondacks including spending several nights in the wilderness, checking motion cameras, collecting hair and dung samples for laboratory analysis amongst other related activities.” Compensation for the job is grant-funded and will be based on experience. See you in Whitehall.
Cats and coffee
And now, something for cat-lovers. Following in the footsteps of Japan’s hugely popular cat cafés, where Tokyo’s apartment-dwelling residents - who are forbidden from owning pets - pay by the hour to socialise with feline friends, Café Neko is Europe’s first cat café. Recently opened in Vienna by owner Takako Ishimitsu after a three-year battle with city health officials over hygiene issues, the café is home to five resident cats: Sonja, Thomas, Moritz, Luca and Momo, and adheres to a strict ‘no dogs’ policy. We really want to make a joke about the cat getting the cream for you, but we won’t. dotwnews.com
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Tara Wood, owner of Wildfitness, shares her top six locations for active adventures.
Nicci Perides enjoys Middle Eastern hospitality at the Arabian Court, One&Only Royal Mirage.
Marco Pierre White’s new restaurant Titanic offers something new in the heart of old Dubai.
DOTWNews.com samples the brand new menu at The May Fair London’s Quince Restaurant.
Man eats caterpillars at airport customs
Dreaming in Rio
A man caught smuggling caterpillars into Switzerland stunned officials by eating a handful of the grubs.
A new sculpture of the head of a 14-year-old girl has been unveiled on Botafogo beach in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro.
Godfather of gastronomy
Culinary legend Albert Roux has delighted British diners since the 60s and trained some of the most prominent names in the restaurant business.
Men caught smuggling exotic animals in trousers
Three men have been arrested in New Delhi after customs officials found a number of small primates hidden in their underwear.
To win a year’s subscription to Destinations of the World News and a bottle of S.T. Dupont Passenger for Men or for Women, visit DOTWNEWS.COM and guess the location of the image. The location in September’s competition was Victoria Falls. The winner was Ganesh M from Karama, UAE.
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Tucked away in a quiet corner of old Valencia, Caro Hotel is a unique and remarkable building.
This month on DOTWNEWS.COM
Shahab Izadpanah Founder and CEO, Louis Fourteen
aised in Geneva, Shahab Izadpanah studied banking and finance before setting up Swiss Investment & Finance SA, an investment banking boutique. In 2006 he moved to Dubai and expanded his company’s group activities, founding Al Khaleej Continental Group and launching Louis Fourteen, an elite lifestyle and corporate assistance club for a select niche of high-earning clientele. Providing its discerning members with services tailored to make their personal and business lives extraordinary, Louis Fourteen goes above and beyond to ensure unforgettable experiences and solutions, whether it’s arranging a private flight to a sold-out concert or a no-expenses-spared romantic holiday. Shahab’s experience has given him a wellhoned eye for luxury; here he shares his top six escapes with Destinations of the World News.
Marbella Who hasn’t dreamt of spending holidays in the sun-drenched Costa del Sol, visiting its historic sites or relaxing in a sunlounger at the beach. All of this is possible in Marbella. Its rich history and pleasant year-round climate have made it one of the most desirable addresses in Europe, especially among wealthy Middle Eastern aristocrats. Visitors will be charmed by the authenticity of the old town, which retains nearly the same layout as it had in the 16th century.
Surrounded by the Alps and the Jura mountains with the stunning Lac Léman at its centre, Geneva is a dream destination for nature-lovers. Those with an insatiable thirst for culture will be delighted by the museums, theatres and historical buildings. The city is also suited to the most discerning shoppers; those in search of the watch of their dreams will be particularly spoiled.
Paris is deserving of its many superlatives. The most visited city in the world and home to the Cathédrale Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, and the Champs Elysées to name just a few, Paris is also considered the world’s cradle of high fashion, gastronomy, art and architecture, and is a delight for the most sophisticated fashionistas, gourmands and art lovers.
“Marbella’s rich history and pleasant year-round climate have made it one of the most desirable addresses in Europe”
Picture perfect Hotel Caruso Belvedereâ€™s infinity pool overlooks the breathtaking vistas of the Amalfi Coast
This mega metropolis is teeming with energy and dynamism. The overly confident city sets the trends not only for America but for the rest of the world. Its monuments, streets and department stores are as famous as the city itself, and there are no limits to what New York can offer. Fashion, art, entertainment, gastronomy, shopping â€“ the possibilities are overwhelming.
This micro monarchy is probably the most exclusive country on the planet. With its pleasant climate, magnificent scenery, gaming facilities and tax-free system, Monaco has become a touristic, residential and recreational centre for the super-rich. Besides the Monaco Grand Prix, the city is a shopping paradise and an ideal place to relax, with many luxurious hotels.
You can ski, shop, and visit the spas in winter, or indulge in a stroll in the mountains during summer. This village of 3,000 inhabitants, located 1,050 m above sea level in the Swiss Alps, is one of the major ski resorts in Europe, with a promenade flanked by high-end shops, art galleries, restaurants and hotels. You may even encounter one of the many celebrities who regularly visit.
Connoisseur An insider’s guide to the most luxurious hotels in the world
Luxury travel expert
angkok’s winding Chao Phraya River is like a cat’s cradle of different vessels weaving diagonally from one bank to another, somehow avoiding the gas-fuelled longboats that zip along at lightning speed. As dusk falls, a kaleidoscope of glaringly illuminated tourist boats joins the daily spectacle. The Siam is the newest of the three signature riverside hotels in the Thai capital. The charismatic Sukosol family owns three acres of prime riverside real estate, which badly needed some attention. Mama appointed one of her four kids, pop star and actor Krissada Sukosol Clapp (Kriss), to turn it into something to be proud of. Kriss turned to his friend Bill Bensley, architect, designer and landscaper on the project, who introduced him to a mutual friend, New Yorker Jason Friedman, now the hotel’s GM. The Siam, which opened officially on September 1, 2012, has 39 rooms and disproportionately vast public spaces. One three-floor, glass-topped atrium is modelled on the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, except this one holds a giant ornamental pool. One restaurant has to be two-storied to display about 50 old tubas exhibited on the wall. The Library is devoted to Kriss’s beloved collection of old typewriters and more than 400 cameras. Elsewhere there is memorabilia galore of Old Siam days. The Siam has a proper Thai boxing ring in its gym, and there is a 65-foot outdoor infinity pool. River villas have plunge pools in completely secluded courtyards, but the only private swimmable pool is in Connie’s Cottage, an adaptation of the traditional dark wood Thai house, formerly home to Connie Mangskau, one-time friend of Jim Thompson. thesiamhotel.com
The Peninsula Bangkok
Amanda Hyndman, from Bournemouth in the UK, is now GM of the iconic 396room Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. The ageless hotel is as young as ever. The lobby, which resembles a Chelsea Flower Show display, holds a corner stall selling colourful macaroons made in-house. Many guests are regulars, but even first-timers are amazed by the skill of Khun Anusorm who, in full Thai regal dress, stands outside a waiting elevator, bows deeply and simultaneously extends an arm to press your required floor button. Stay here for many such magical moments. Wake up in end suite 1412, themed after author Graham Greene, and you have his complete works, in hardback, to skim through while watching the river traffic travel back and forth. Take the hotel’s own boat across to the gym, on the other side, where the attendant somehow knows your name. Stay over there to recover from your workout in the soothing, teak-wood spa. www.mandarinoriental.com Away from the main crowds, The Peninsula Bangkok is a true urban resort, 10 minutes from the Skytrain and the business centre of town. The hotel also has its own river shuttle which continuously transports guests to the opposite bank. The higher you rise up the 37-floor building, the better the views, but all 370 rooms have the typical easy-to-use Peninsula features, with cat-flaps for newspaper delivery and the magnifying mirror exactly where it should be. A typical day here should include breakfast right by the riverside: buffets are set both inside, in the air-conditioning, and outside, around two cook-to-order pavilions. You then walk a few yards, via the chef’s herb garden, to laze in pagodas around the hotel’s three interconnecting pools. Spa treatments are a highlight. Before dining outside in Thiptara, have a cocktail in its upper bar treehouse, which is built around centuries-old banyan tree trunks. The GM is French-American Nicolas Beliard. www.peninsula.com
EvEry issuE of our magazinE tEnds to takEon a life of its own. Sometimes it happens by design, sometimes nature takes its course. It wasn’t...