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November 2012

24 HOURS: OSLO

One day in the Norwegian capital

REALITY CZECH The modern face of Prague

ITALY NOW Gran Meliá Rome

INTERVIEW

British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton

CONNOISSEUR Super chic in São Paulo

BUILDING DREAMS The most exclusive villas and apartments in Dubai

SUITE DREAMS Hôtel 3.14 Cannes

ESSENTIAL TRAVEL Voyages of a lifetime

IGNITION

Sports cars with class


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 region’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.


Contents

Sectiony

title

November 2012

On the cover 48 Dubai dreaming

The best hotel-managed villas, condos and apartments in Dubai

60 Reality Czech

Contemporary culture is at every turn in modern-day Prague

68 Urban safari

Take a walk on the wild side in the UAE with a visit to Sir Bani Yas Island

72 Oslo: 24 Hours

The Norwegian capital is home to a heady mixture of contemporary culture

60 Beyond the fairytale There’s much more to modern-day Prague than its picturesque vistas


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Let us pour your favorite drink in our spectacular view of Red Square. Let us make your departure from Moscow the beginning of your return. Let us offer you a warm, crystal-lit swim in winter, spring and summer. Let us envelop you in the luxury of fine silks and dark cherrywood.

Immerse yourself in the charm of Moscow with The Ritz-Carlton. Discover the magic of emotion, feel the vibrancy of this legendary destination and leave the rest to us. For reservations, contact your travel professional, call The Ritz-Carlton, Moscow at +7-495-225-8888 or visit ritzcarlton.com/moscow.

©2012 The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, L.L.C.


Contents November 2012

76 In the news 24 Retrospective Alexander McQueen creates a buzz in Paris 26 Europe Cartier opens new-look Italian flagship in Milan 28 Middle East & Africa Pyramid of Chefren reopens in Egypt 34 Asia & Oceania Gangnam Style sparks surge in travel to Seoul 40 Americas The St. Regis New York unveils Bentley suite 42 Debut Hot hotels, chic boutiques and exclusive new resorts 44 Profile British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton talks shop

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44

Inside 74 Diary Out and about this month? Don’t miss these events 76 Spend it Once-in-a-lifetime luxury travel experiences 80 Suite dreams Hotel 3.14 Cannes offers a new take on the Riviera 82 Review Contemporary culture at Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina 84 On the road Sometimes we’d rather keep our feet on the ground 88 Ignition Jaguar’s 2013 XKR Convertible will stop you in your tracks 90 Fragrance butler The scents you can’t travel without this season 94 Online New and exclusive on DOTWNews.com this month 96 Album The Duchess of Somerset reflects on a life well-travelled 98 Connoisseur Mary Gostelow means business in São Paulo dotwnews.com

November 2012

17


Letter from the Editor It gets me every tIme. you’re drIvIng along a shady beachfront road in some lush tropical destination, where wooden signboards advertising holiday bungalows for sale spring out of the foliage every few kilometres. One catches your eye and on impulse, you turn off and drive down the single-track road that leads to a sandy cove fringed with palms and five or six pristine villas nestled in the trees and you think: “Yes. This is the place for me.” Nearly everyone has thought about buying a holiday home in an exotic corner of the world at one time in their lives. Few actually do it. As well as the postcardperfect location, it’s usually the unspoken promise of freedom that a holiday home offers that drives men and women wild – a place where you can come for one or two months of the year to hide away from the world in complete privacy and comfort. The reality of independent holiday home ownership rarely enters the equation when you’ve set your heart on a new place – the monthly service fees, the upkeep costs, dealing with tenants or management companies for the 10 months of the year when you’re not using it, or getting along with homeowners’ associations. One way to eradicate that unpleasant aspect of owning a piece of paradise is to buy into a development that is managed by a reputable hotel company – a firm whose name will ensure that your home from home is looked after and, perhaps more importantly, rented out when you are not using it. dubai has been a champion of the managed freehold villa or apartment since its tourism industry began to flourish 20 years ago, but this side of the sector is not as well-known as others. We all know about the tallest tower in the world and the Armani Hotel within it, but how many people know about the luxurious Armani residences hand-crafted by Giorgio Armani himself, that can be yours for a small fortune? With this in mind, we set out this month to compile an overview of all the hotel and resort projects in Dubai that have a freehold element attached, but were quickly cut short when we realised the number of such projects out there – we would need an entire magazine to cover them all. Instead, we’ve brought together what we consider to be the six most luxurious managed freehold investment opportunities in Dubai. You can view them on page 48, but be warned, it may change your life.

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dotwnews.com

Imperial flight An Imperial Airways Handley Page HP42 in October 1932

Meanwhile, our intrepid deputy editor Caitlin Cheadle was in Prague, scratching away at the surface and discovering what it is that defines the Czech capital today. Beyond the tourist-laden Charles Bridge and the gothic spires of St. Vitus Cathedral, there are plenty of unique attractions that help to define modern Prague by putting its past into a contemporary context. Read the story on page 60. Closer to home, Caitlin also found the time to visit sir Bani yas Island off the coast of Abu Dhabi, where cheetahs and gazelles roam amidst five-star accommodation. With a beautiful natural setting and an endless list of activities on offer, she found a peaceful island escape close to the concrete jungle that is Dubai. Read more on page 68. Last month marked the 80th anniversary of British Airways flying to the Middle East, a milestone that’s hard to imagine when you consider that the UAE is only 41 years old. I caught up with BA chairman sir martin Broughton at an event marking the anniversary for a short, candid chat about the airline’s heritage, the evolution of its first and business class cabins, and the state of the airline industry in the UK. Read the interview on page 44. There’s plenty more in this month’s issue – please enjoy.

Joe Mortimer Senior Editor joe@dotwnews.com


Tomorrow’s another day. Make it one worth looking forward to. Live the moment.

With an energy inspired by the natural landscape and culture, One&Only Royal Mirage, Dubai and One&Only The Palm, Dubai offers the perfect setting for celebrating life’s most memorable occasions. For reservations at One&Only Royal Mirage, please call + 971 4 399 99 99, or email reservations@oneandonlyroyalmirage.ae or contact your preferred travel professional. For reservations at One&Only The Palm, please call +971 4 440 10 10, or email reservations@oneandonlythepalm.com or contact your preferred travel professional. oneandonlyresorts.com Bahamas • Cape Town • Dubai • Maldives • Mauritius • Mexico


Contributors November 2012, Issue 77

Joe Mortimer

Publisher Anna Zhukov anna@dotwnews.com

Senior editor Joe Mortimer has been living in Dubai for six years, during which he has enjoyed the hospitality at many of the luxury hotels that have sprung up in the UAE. As well as providing lodging for the millions of visitors who come to Dubai every year, many of these developments also present investors with an opportunity to own their own slice of paradise. Joe spent this month visiting some of the key developments that are quickly being snapped up as luxurious second homes for overseas buyers, or income-generating holiday villas for savvy investors. Read his story on page 48.

Senior Editor Joe Mortimer joe@dotwnews.com Deputy Editor Caitlin Cheadle caitlin@dotwnews.com Online Editor Nicci Perides nicci@dotwnews.com Editor-at-Large Andy Round andy@dotwnews.com Contributing Editor Mary Gostelow Sales Manager Andrea Tsiachtsiri andrea@dotwnews.com Art Director Kris Karacinski kris@dotwnews.com Multimedia Graphics Manager Vandita Gaurang vandita@wnnlimited.com

Caitlin Cheadle

United Kingdom Sales Representative David Hammond david@dotwnews.com

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 beaches, she still loves a good European city to sweep her off her feet, especially one as full of surprises as Prague. This month, Caitlin revisited the Czech capital for a behind-the-scenes glimpse at some of the city’s best attractions (page 60).

Circulation department circulate@dotwnews.com Cover image Downtown Dubai – Daniel Cheong

Lucy Taylor

Lucy Taylor has been in the UAE since 2007, writing for various travel and food magazines. In 2010, she hung up her hospitality hat, stashed her notebook and joined Dubai’s Arabian Radio Network as a news editor and presenter. But sometimes the travel bug still bites: her recent adventures include hiking up to Annapurna base camp in Nepal, exploring snowy Paris on foot, delving into the culinary charms of Singapore and, most recently, a short but indulgent visit to the Eternal City of Rome. Discover what she made of the new Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina on page 82.

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.

Sandra O’Connell

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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

Photo: Kristina Holtz

Raised in cities around the world, freelance writer Sandra O’Connell now resides in Vancouver. It was this unconventional upbringing that inspired her insatiable curiosity for other people and places. Always seeking adventure, she takes every opportunity to travel – her favourite destinations being Paris, Italy’s Amalfi Coast, Melbourne and Los Angeles. In addition to travel writing, Sandra chronicles fashion, society, culture, and relationships for several print and online publications. This issue Sandra gives us a run-down of how to spend 24 hours in the Norwegian capital (page 72).

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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retrospective A

lexander McQueenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Spring/Summer 2013 fashion show caused a buzz at Paris Fashion Week on October 2, with a bee-themed collection that was striking on and off the catwalk. Built around the theme of bees, the creations were part 19th-century eveningwear, part floral arrangement and part bee-keeping costume, with wide translucent skirts revealing the structural bones of the dresses, chokers and straps made of tortoiseshell, and black mesh headwear that resembled bee-keeping attire. The whole performance was set to the backdrop of a giant x-ray image of a busy beehive, creating a dazzling multi-sensory show. Alexander McQueen creative director Sarah Burton has led the brand from strength to strength following the buzz created by Kate Middletonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s royal wedding dress last year.


11.12 News

Netherlands overcomes winter freeze The Dutch are crazy about their bicycles. The two-wheeled form of transport accounts for around 59 percent of all journeys made in Dutch cities, nearly all of which have extensive bike path networks that make navigating the city as a cyclist convenient, safe and pleasant. Tourists also seem to relish the chance to hop on a bicycle to explore Dutch cities or villages, and many hotels and shops offer bikes for rent, from traditional Dutch cycles to high-performance mountain bikes.

But as in most European countries, cold weather during Dutch winters makes for uncomfortable riding for all but the most dedicated cyclists, which means bad business for bike hire companies and less enjoyment for tourists who want to explore the Netherlands on two wheels. Fortunately help is at hand. Dutch engineer Marcel Boerefijn has come up with a way to use geothermal energy to heat the bike paths to prevent them freezing over in the winter, thereby reducing accidents

and making cycling a year-round activity for residents and visitors. The company behind the idea said the system would cost local governments around EUR 20,000 to 40,000 (US$26,000-52,000) per kilometre of bike path, but would also result in substantial savings in the long-term, from less salt used on the pathways to fewer medical costs caused by accidents and reduced car expenses for cyclists. With more than 35,000 kilometres of bike path in the Netherlands, it could cost the government up to $1.82 billion to heat the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s entire network. The first towns to have expressed an interest in the new system are Utrecht and Zutphen, where municipal governments are exploring the feasibility of implementing the system. It is believed that there are around 18 million bicycles in the Netherlands, which has a population of just 16.5 million people.


Europe

News

MAry sAys...

The latest in luxury travel

French flair, Italian address redeFininG destination shopping, French luxury brand Cartier has reopened its Italian flagship store in Milan after a major overhaul. Playing on the company’s 30-year relationship with the boutique and the even longer history of the building, Cartier assigned architect and designer Bruno Moinard the task of reinventing the interior

of the four-storey shop for its well-heeled visitors. Moinard, who has created all of the Cartier boutiques around the world, including its other flagship stores Rue de la Paix in Paris, New Bond Street in London and Fifth Avenue in New York, has filled the new interiors with furnishings and décor that reflect the cultural, historical and artistic

elements connected to the city’s cultural heritage and Cartier’s traditions. Car tier held a starstudded opening ceremony at the 19th century building, located at 16 Via Montenapoleone, on October 5, with guests of honour including Monica Bellucci and Cartier president Bernard Fornas.

Be James Bond for 24 hours, and brag about it for the rest of your life – the Charles Hotel in Munich can make it all happen. Stay in the hotel’s presidential suite and awaken to find a mobile phone with instructions to be somewhere at a particular time. For the next few hours you will be driven by Ms. Moneypenny and transfered via helicopter to the mountains for bungee jumping or high-speed Ferrari driving. Also included are visits to the casino, lots of beautiful women and tailor-made clothes. You will of course be followed all day by a video team and your souvenir is your own James Bond film, starring you. All this for a mere EUR 60,000 (US$78,000). The typical buyer, apparently, is a Middle Eastern male aged 20-45 who has brought his mother to Munich for a medical check. www.roccofortehotels.com Calling modern art lovers. Thai philanthropist Boonchai Bencharongkul, who has made billions selling a couple of telecoms companies, has opened the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bangkok to house his 400-piece collection. It is open daily. www.mocabangkok.com Design your own shoes, following a simple online recipe, and they will be made up in London and mailed to you wherever in the world you are. Upper Street is run by its shoe-loving founders, Julia and Katy Grinham. www.upperstreet.com

Flight of fancy: French artist Tony Soulié’s series of photo paintings are inspired by aircraft and the world of travel. By painting on top of industrial style photos of aircraft and aircraft close-ups with vividly coloured ink, Soulié hopes to establish a connection between the worlds of art, travel and aeronautics. “I love travel and flying so I’m very familiar with Airbus aircraft but I still found the chance to be inside such a vast operation a stunning experience,” he said. Soulié teamed up with Airbus to create the series. Half of his works will be exhibited at Airbus sites around the world for the next two years, while the others will be auctioned off to raise money for the Airbus Corporate Foundation.

In Venice’s St Mark’s Square, you might well pop into the Italian National Trust (FAI) to pick up booklets. The shop is actually the original Olivetti typewriter store, designed in 1958 in honour of Adriano Olivetti by architect Carlo Scarpa. MAry GOstelOw

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News

Middle East & Africa

Pyramid of Chefren reopens After an extensive restoration project, the second largest of the Pyramids of Giza has reopened to the public. Visitors can now explore the interior of the 136.4m high pyramid via a series of well-lit walkways. Six private tombs have also been opened up to the public for the first time. The Pyramid of Chefren, also known as the Pyramid of Khafre, after its most significant inhabitant Pharaoh Khafre, dates from the fourth dynasty of ancient Egypt.

Lebanon anger at Homeland series

Taj Arabia project revived in Dubai It is already home to the world’s tallest building and the world’s biggest shopping mall. But in a move that would suggest that investor confidence is back up to pre-2008 levels, Dubai has just confirmed plans to build a replica of India’s Taj Mahal, four times bigger than the original. The US$1 billion Taj Arabia project in Falconcity of Wonders will be home to a 300-room five-star hotel, serviced hotel apartments, a souq-style shopping area and other dining and leisure components. Developer Link Global Group said Taj Arabia and its extensive landscaped Mughal Gardens would become a popular destination for weddings and vow-renewal ceremonies, with dedicated wedding boutiques in the souq and event space for up to 3,000 guests at a time. The original Taj Mahal in Agra, India, was built by Emperor Shah Jaha in the 17th century as a gift for his wife.

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Lebanon has spoken out in anger over the latest season of American TV series Homeland, which includes scenes depicting downtown Beirut with groups of armed militia roaming the streets. Tourism Minister Faddy Abboud said the scenes misrepresented the reality of life in modern Beirut and would damage Lebanon’s tourism industry. The offensive scenes, which were actually filmed in neighbouring Israel, show a terrorist meeting in Beirut’s Hamra Street, in which armed men wander the streets. In reality, Hamra Street is a popular destination with locals and visitors, full of shops and cafés.


A hotel as legendary as St Petersburg itself

1912 On St Isaac’s Square, in booming imperial St Petersburg, the fashionable architect Fyodor Lidval is fitting out a new building that will be his masterpiece – a luxury hotel. Every modern convenience is being installed: telephone lines, automated vacuuming system, steam-driven central heating and guest lifts. This is the Russia of Nicholas II and money is no object. 2012 The illustrious Hotel Astoria has never rested on its laurels. We have welcomed Romanovs, Rasputin and regal ballerinas, but we wear our history lightly. Now, when we talk about being well connected it is more likely in reference to the high-speed internet in our rooms. We call it the art of simple luxury. Hotel Astoria, St. Isaac’s Square, 39 Bolshaya Morskaya Street, St Petersburg 190000, Russia Tel: +7 812 494 5757 Fax: +7 812 494 5059 Mail: reservations.astoria@roccofortehotels.com www.roccofortehotels.com

Luxury Hotels and Resorts

Abu Dhabi, Berlin, Brussells, Edinburgh, Florence, Frankfurt, Geneva, London, Manchester, Munich, Prague, Rome, Sicily, St. Petersburg Coming soon: Cairo, Jeddah, Marrakech,


Middle title East & Africa Sectiony News

UAE beaches receive Blue Flag awards SEVEN beaches and marinas in the UAE have been awarded the Blue Flag eco-label, which recognises beaches that meet high international criteria for water quality and environmental management.

The private beach and marina at Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi (pictured) have both been awarded flags, as has the Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort in Fujairah, on the UAE’s east coast. In Dubai, picturesque Al Mamzar

Beach Park and Jumeirah’s Open Beach have both been awarded flags, as have the beach and marina at Jebel Ali Golf Resort & Spa. The UAE is now home to 12 Blue Flag certified beaches and marinas.

The Yas Viceroy Hotel is a home from home for celebrities and VIPs at sporting and musical events throughout the year, especially the Abu Dhabi F1 Grand Prix, which takes place this month. Concierge Erhard Schmucker shares a few insights into what goes on behind the scenes when the glitterati are in residence. What has been the most bizarre item left after an F1 weekend? Guests tend to forget many of their belongings, no matter how many times they triple-check the room. During last year’s Formula 1, a guest left their entire suitcase behind – I presume they were in a rush for a flight. What is the most challenging request you have received during an F1 weekend? It ranges from organising private jets home for the children of a guest because they missed their commercial flight back, to organising the perfect engagement proposal. Last year, a guest asked us to create their entire itinerary while in the UAE. Sounds simple, but it included private helicopters, Ferraris and private yachts.

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Concierge confessional: Yas Viceroy Hotel Do celebs send you lists of things they require before they arrive? Celebrities are not the only people with requests prior to arrival. Corporate and leisure guests also send lists in advance and stipulate preferences, which can be as basic as notification of favourite beverages or pillow choices, right down to personal chef shopping lists. The most interesting request we’ve had was to remodel an entire floor and build a private gym and

studio area, including the guest’s own gym equipment, which they’d had flown in privately. Do you ever have unusual requests from non-guests when celebrities are staying in the hotel? Any time there is something happening in Abu Dhabi, our lobby is crawling with fans. They try almost everything in the book to get a small glimpse of their idols.

In one instance, we had dresses dropped off for a celebrity by a ‘designer’ who told us, “I have the dresses for tonight’s performance, please direct me to the room.” Amusingly, the celebrity in question was not staying with us. We’ve had the sick relative and the angry girlfriend, but the most memorable tactic to date was when a non-guest said, “may I have a key to my room, it’s under ‘Britney Spears’.”


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Jazz on tour Wynton Marsalis is a Grammy and Pulitzer Prizewinning trumpet player, composer and educator, as well as artistic director of New York non-profit initiative Jazz at Lincoln Center (JALC). He recently launched Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha at The St Regis hotel in Qatar – the first JALC venue outside of New York WORDS: Charlie Carver

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How did Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha come about? St Regis has a tradition of jazz going back to the late 1920s, and we [JALC] have a prior relationship with the St Regis. Mr Hussain Alfardan, that’s the owner Omar Alfardan’s father, was a fan of Louis Armstrong. He grew up listening to Louis Armstrong’s music, and he loves jazz. It’s his hotel, and he wanted jazz in the hotel. We had that relationship with the St Regis, and those things came together. It was very natural, it’s not like we pursued it or we even knew it was a possibility, so it’s the best kind of relationship. JALC describes jazz as “the sound of American democracy”. With that in mind, isn’t Doha an odd choice for Jazz at Lincoln Center’s first venue outside the US? No. Not necessarily. Jazz speaks to an underlying humanness. If you only read news clippings, you would think a certain way about the US. I’ve travelled up and down the country for 30 years, so

I would say my experience of the Unites States is more extensive than most people’s, and it’s not at all like you would think it is. I find that to be true of all places. We’re not here to proselytise a certain way of life, we’re here to play music, and to collaborate and integrate with musicians and interface with the culture. In the culture of jazz, the first thing we do is listen. Still, jazz is a distinctly American music. How well does it travel? Look at the jazz ambassadors who have already travelled the world, like Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie. They were welcome in all regions of the world. They have been in the Middle East, they have been in the East, they have been to Africa, they have been to Russia. [Bandleader] Benny Goodman went to Russia when they were still dealing with things post-World War II. We have a tradition in our music of coming and bringing the spirit of communication and openness. That’s what we do. Travel affected Duke

Ellington’s music, it affected Louis Armstrong’s music and it’s affected my music. Are you concerned that an audience with little knowledge of jazz won’t ‘get it’? I’m not concerned any more than any other person who plays any style of music is concerned about any other culture they go to. If you’re not raised with a sound or style, there’s something to learn about it. When people get in close proximity to one another, they get the chance to share culture and learn and see what each is about – there’s always some kind of meaningful exchange. I’m not concerned, because I have confidence in the quality of our music. n

The important bit What: Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha Where: The St. Regis Doha, PO Box 14435, Qatar Tel: +974 4446 0000 www.jalcdoha.com


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News

Asia & & Oceania Oceania

Gangnam style

Korean tourism officials have been flooded with an influx of interest in Gangnam, the wealthy district of Seoul that is celebrated in Korean pop artist Psy’s hit single Gangnam Style, currently burning up international music charts. The Gangnam district is often called

the “Beverly Hills of Seoul” for its high-end fashion, fine dining and luxury shops. It is also where many of the country’s top-end cosmetic surgeries are located, attracting visitors from all over the world, who come to Seoul specifically to have cosmetic procedures.

“The Gangnam district is often called the ‘Beverly Hills of Seoul’ for its high-end fashion, fine dining and luxury shops” 34

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British Polo Day India Taking place in the majestic city of Jodhpur, Rajasthan, the threeday itinerary of British Polo Day India is a fun-filled chance to mingle, enjoy breathtaking scenery and fast-paced polo in stunning settings. Arrive in Jodhpur on December 14 for dinner and cocktails on the lawn of the beautiful Umaid Bhawan Palace by Taj, one of The Leading Hotels of the World. The next day is spent watching traditional and elephant polo matches, before high tea and a dinner in Chokhelao Gardens at the base of the historic Mehrangarh Fort. The final day of matches is capped off with a prize-giving ceremony before an elegant banquet dinner at the Umaid Bhawan Palace. www.britishpoloday.com

Spa on the beach Four Seasons Koh Samui has launched its new Beach Spa, offering treatments using natural products in a beautiful white sand setting under the shade of palm trees. Available from 10am until 3pm daily, treatments including a natural coconut oil massage can be enjoyed individually or as a couple.

Lost in translation

A new real-time translator app to be released by Japanâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s biggest mobile network, NTT Docomo, is set to make visiting Japan much easier for foreigners by eliminating the language barrier. The Hanashite Honâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;yaku app immediately converts Japanese to English, Mandarin and Korean and vice versa, as users speak over the phone. NTT Docomo says it is working on versions in several other language as well.


News

Americas

St Regis New York opens Bentley suite

St RegiS New York and Bentley Motors have unveiled a one-ofa-kind hotel suite at the iconic Manhattan landmark hotel. The 1,700 sq ft suite features an entryway foyer, one bedroom, expansive dining room and living

“American Spirits: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition” exhibit has opened at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, giving visitors the chance to get up close and personal with notorious gangster Al Capone, learn to dance the Charleston and play the role of a federal agent tracking down rum-runners in a custom videogame.

Photo: National Constitution Center

Prohibition museum

room with floor to ceiling windows showcasing views overlooking Fifth Avenue and Central Park. The décor, inspired by the firstclass interior of a Bentley car, features textiles such as leather and burled wood.

Rates start at US$9,500 per night plus tax, and guests will be treated to St Regis’ trademark Butler Service, in-suite champagne bar, and complementary access to the 2013 Bentley Mulsanne for use within a 10-block radius of the hotel.


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One giant leap for Felix AUSTRIAN adventurer Felix Baumgartner, 43, broke the world record for highest and fastest skydive in the world on October 14, 2012, when he jumped from a height of 39 km, breaking the speed of sound with his body by reaching 1,342 kph. Watched live by tens of millions all over the world, he also broke the world record for biggest audience for livestream video broadcast to date.

Hotel with heart

The Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association has named the Betsy South Beach ‘Boutique Hotel of the Year’. The Art Deco style hotel, located on Miami’s bustling South Beach, charms guests with a special ‘philanthropic space’, where art exhibitions, concerts, book signings and parties take place to help raise funds and awareness for non-profit organisations supporting causes such as education, sustainability, literature and the arts, culture and African Relief.

Deluxe food and wine festival launched in Antigua Antigua’s luxury sailing resort Nonsuch Bay launches a celebration of food and wines this month with a three-week-long festival from November 15 to December 6, hosted by Caribbean ‘Chef of the Year 2011’ Mitchell Husbands and master of wine Liam Stevenson. The inaugural festival features wine, champagne and rum tastings, cooking demonstrations, Caribbean street food with a gourmet twist, guest chef appearances and tasting menus, and culminates in a full day of food and wine events, dubbed ‘Winestock’, on November 25. Expect traditional Caribbean dishes such as Johnny cakes with frizzled salt fish, dhalpuri roti with chicken curry, crispy Antigua fish cakes and pickled seafood in tortilla cups.

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DEBUT Hot hotels | chic boutiques | exclusive resorts

© Destinations of the World News – The world wide web


Located in London’s sleek banking district, this trendy new boutique property blends vintage and contemporary designs to create a warm, comforting environment. The hotel is owned and managed by high-end restaurant operators D&D London, bringing a unique focus on food and entertainment that is evident throughout. Angler, an elegant seafood restaurant and terrace on the rooftop, gives impressive views over the city. Guests can mingle at 3 South Place, where DJs spin tunes well into the morning hours, or the mellow Secret Garden, a sheltered outdoor bar. www.southplacehotel.com

London, England

Toronto, Canada

Soaring 55 stories above the intersection of Toronto’s trendy shopping and business districts, the sleek glass façade of the new Four Seasons Hotel Toronto contains an elegant 2,787 square metre spa as well as eateries Café Boulud and dbar bistro and lounge, by internationally renowned chef and restaurateur Daniel Boulud. The 259 rooms and suites feature complimentary inroom WiFi and a special 15-minute room service menu. Meanwhile a dedicated guest experience manager will ensure wishes are granted. www.fourseasons.com/toronto

South Place Hotel

Four Seasons Hotel Toronto Located next to the prestigious governor’s residence and adjacent to the Guindy National Park, the hotel features graceful nature-inspired design, with a lily pond in the central courtyard and custom-made art installations inspired by Indian customs and textiles. Antahpura Spa features rooms that overlook the greenery of the national reserves of Guindy, with treatments inspired by ancient therapies from Tamil Nadu state. The 201 guestrooms are accented by rich marble floors and bathrooms with deep-soak bathtubs, while all 20 suites feature plunge tubs. www.chennai.park.hyatt.com

Chennai, India

Park Hyatt Chennai

Located 4,000 feet above sea level in the lush forests of Bhutan’s Punakha Valley, the lodge overlooks the rolling terraced hills and the roaring Mo Chu River. The boutique property features 11 elegant rooms with wood-burning stoves and hand-painted murals on the walls. Guests of the hotel can enjoy various activities including white-water rafting, hiking, cycling, yoga and visits to the COMO Shambhala spa, where they can enjoy treatments including a hot stone bath. The open-plan Bukhari bar and restaurant showcases local and seasonal Bhutanese dishes. www.comohotels.com/uma

Punakha Valley, Bhutan

Uma Punakha

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The newest addition to Starwood’s Luxury Collection, The Royal Begonia occupies a 370-metre beachfront location on Haitang Bay overlooking the South China Sea, mountains and rainforests. Outings can be arranged for visits to the floating seafood restaurant on nearby Coconut Island, boating excursions to Wuzhizhou Island for diving, cooking classes specialising in local Hainan cuisine, and private yacht cruises for special occasions. In addition to 142 luxurious rooms, the property also features 18 private villas situated directly on the beach. www.starwoodhotels.com

Sanya, Hainan

The Royal Begonia

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Interview

Building on a legacy B

British Airways chairman Sir Martin Broughton speaks candidly about the company’s relationship with airport operator BAA, dealing with an oligopoly, and the ongoing Air Passenger Duty debacle in the UK Interview: Joe Mortimer

ritish Airways celebrates 80 years of flying to the Middle East this year, four decades after its first scheduled flight touched down in Sharjah in the UAE on October 7, 1932. Today it operates 68 flights per week to eight cities in the region and counts the Middle East as one of its most important markets. BA chairman Sir Martin Broughton joined the company as non-executive director in 2000 before assuming his current role in 2004, marking the beginning of a tenure during which BA has launched subsidiary OpenSkies, merged with Spanish flag carrier Iberia to form holding company IAG, and moved into its new home in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. More recently, BA’s relationship with the Middle East was cemented with the news that Qatar Airways would apply for membership to the oneworld airline alliance under the sponsorship of BA.

The world must have been a very different place in 1932 when Imperial Airways started flying to the Middle East – can you paint a picture to set the scene? You were still in the Great Depression in 1932, so it would very much have been a journey for the elite and wealthy who have lots of patience and stamina. It was an adventure. A lot of it was about mail and cargo – that was the driving force of the early flights. Back then BA was Imperial Airways – how did the company evolve into BA? The big changes came in the late 1940s when BOAC (British Overseas Airways Corporation) and BEA (British European Airways) formed out of various smaller companies. The next big change would have been in the ‘70s when they merged to become British Airways. Then, in the ‘80s, BA was privatised, so it was no longer a nationally-owned


Interview

British European Airways uniforms from the ‘40s and ‘50s

company. The whole history of the airline is littered with mergers and acquisitions, all of them fundamentally British. Back then you used aircraft built by many different manufacturers – today you really only have two: Boeing and Airbus. How has that affected your business? I think in some ways it makes it harder. You don’t get the same competition that you would in most lines of business. There are others – we use Embraer aircraft for the London City routes, which are terrific planes – but essentially, every time you look [at buying] you are looking at the Boeing option or the Airbus option. I think if you had four or five manufacturers it would strengthen our position as a buyer. Of course it helps us that they hate the sight of each other and they fight like cats and dogs.

An Imperial Airways Handley Page HP42

How do you determine what your premium passengers want and how do you improve on your first-class product? We do a lot of what I call ‘high-level premium focus groups’. I have personally attended lunches with 30 or 40 of our top passengers – different ones each time – with two or three other senior executives, to get feedback from the guests. We say to them: ‘We can add any bell or whistle you like but they all cost money. Our job is to make a profit and also to provide you with a service. So you tell us which are the ones you appreciate and you are comfortable paying for (effectively within the ticket price), and which are the ones you wouldn’t miss’. Then we can build the product around that feedback. Are improvements usually made in response to demand, or is it your own creativity? It’s a bit of both. One of the key things they

want – and you can’t provide it for everybody because it isn’t economical – is a real live person at the other end of the telephone when something goes wrong. If you’re stuck at the airport because you’ve missed your flight, or you’re stuck in traffic – to have a real live person on the end of the phone is very valuable to the top echelon. That is the sort of thing you can add in response to demand. What else do your first and business class passengers want? We have to think of the journey as everything from the time they book, to check-in, going through security, being in the lounge, getting on the plane, arriving, collecting luggage, and going onward. It’s that whole spectrum. Their frustrations don’t tend to be the bit in the air, they tend to be when there are roadblocks in that process on the ground. They recognise that very often, those roadblocks are

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Interview

First class seating circa 1946

BOAC’s de Havilland Comet 4

caused by security or something like that. They might quite rightly say to us, ‘can’t you pay more to [airport operator] BAA to get a better fast-track service?’ Sometimes you can and sometimes you can’t. How open is BAA to that kind of conversation? The relationship with BAA today is better than it has ever been. Before the opening of [Heathrow] Terminal 5, I’d say they acted like a landlord to us as the tenant. Post-T5, they see that T5 is their showcase as well as our showcase and therefore there is a mutual interest in making it work. It is not easy to change things in structures that have already been built, but we get a much better response when we say we need to find a solution for a specific problem. They are willing to listen and to work with us. It might take three years before you get it done because there are difficulties, there are costs and there are processes, but there is much more willingness to work together. Where does the ongoing debate about Air Passenger Duty (APD) stand? Before George Osborne took the role [as British Chancellor of the Exchequer] I met with him and told him that APD was a foolish tax which was exactly inverse to what the government – then the Labour government – was trying to do. They were asking, ‘what do we need to do to make London the best place to base yourself as a multinational

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– what do we need to make London attract business?’ But they then put on APD and I told him he should go and see his counterpart in the Netherlands. They introduced APD and realised it was ruining Schiphol. Everyone was going to other airports just to avoid it, so they took the APD back off again. And Osbourne said, ‘I have already had lunch with him and I understand the problem. I can’t make any promises but I understand the issue.’ I actually assumed he had looked at it, seen that it did have a negative impact on business, and would be more thoughtful perhaps than what we have seen. All he has done, in fact, is put it up and up and up. I understand he has revenue problems and deficits and things like that, but it is an inhibitor to business growth. Eighty years ago the world map was a blank canvas. What is the biggest opportunity for BA today? It remains the emerging world. Asia is the growth area of the world. We would see our focus as being East of Europe. All of that market is a big attraction going forward. And the challenges? Just being able to make a decent return on capital so we can keep on reinvesting. We have a GBP 5 billion (US $8 billion) investment programme on upgrades of existing planes. We’ve just got to make a decent return on it. That’s the challenge. n

Fine dining on board

End of an Era While Ba celebrates its past, airport operator Baa is turning its back on it, with the symbolic shedding of the name it has carried since 1965. on october 15, five days after this interview took place, the company announced that the name Baa would be dropped and that Heathrow, Glasgow, aberdeen, Southampton and Stansted airports would operate as their own standalone brands. “dropping the Baa name marks a symbolic break with the company of the past,” said Heathrow chief executive Colin Matthews. “We want Heathrow’s focus to be on its customers, to continue to improve its operational performance and to carry on investing billions of pounds in new passenger facilities. This summer, the olympics and Paralympics showed the UK and Heathrow at their best, delivering a welcome of which the UK could be proud. now we have to build on that welcome still further, providing a better experience to our customers every single day.”


Dubai Invesst Dubai Invest

W

hen it comes to lifestyle choices, buying a holiday villa or apartment is about as aspirational as you can get, especially when you’re considering Dubai as your destination. And in the case of property managed by five-star hospitality companies, you are essentially (at the risk of sounding like a broker) buying a dream – a lifestyle shaped for you by the company that manages the property; Armani, Versace or Jumeirah, to name a few. Whether that dream is a 20th floor downtown penthouse, a sprawling beachfront villa, or a

magnificent golf estate with views of the 18th hole, it is an investment that you’re not going to jump into lightly. Any investor looking to buy a slice of their favourite destination will have taken factors into account other than the size of the master bathroom and the wraparound terrace, such as what that investment is going to yield 10 years down the line. Fortunately, some destinations are more robust than others when it comes to staking your claim in the hospitality industry, and in the long run, few, it seems, are more robust than Dubai.

In 2012, the city’s room rates are back up to pre-recession levels, and occupancy is teetering around the mid-80 percent mark for many hotels, especially those with beachfront locations. The number of visitors to Dubai is expected to hit 8.8 million by the end of 2012 – 15 percent more than in 2011. The dip hit Dubai hard, no doubt, but the city has made a quick recovery and revenue per available room (RevPAR) – the industry measurement of a hotel’s performance – is among the highest in the world, which is a rather attractive prospect to investors who plan to rent their properties out.


Dubai Invest

B u I l D I n g

D r e a m s

Investing in a managed villa or apartment in one of these five-star Dubai developments gives you the freedom to choose a lifestyle that meets your aspirations

Photo: Duncan Chard

WORDS: Joe Mortimer

“Dubai being what it is, the down times are not as bad as they can be elsewhere, but the good times are often better than other places,” says Stuart Cassidy, VP client operations Middle East for IFA Hotels & Resorts, which owns several developments on The Palm Jumeirah. “It’s a very attractive location with huge occupancy and better rates per room. And of course the climate is attractive to many foreign investors. It makes it a high-value destination.” This is good news for anyone considering buying into freehold residential property in one of Dubai’s luxury hospitality developments.

From the lofty heights of apartments in the Burj Khalifa to luxurious villas and apartments on The Palm Jumeirah, there is a vast catalogue of options available for discerning buyers. According to developers, investors in managed property include wealthy expatriates living in Dubai, holiday home owners looking to let out their property for most of the year, and investors seeking long term returns. Fortunately, since real estate development has resumed in Dubai and new projects are once again wowing starry-eyed investors, stock is not in short supply, but units move quickly.

In mid-September, Dubai-based property developer Emaar announced the launch of The Address BVLD – a new 63-storey project comprising a 200-room hotel and 542 managed hotel apartments. According to Emaar, the units that went on sale on day one were sold out within 24 hours. There are far too many opportunities out there to list them all here, but what follows is a snapshot of what we believe to be the most luxurious developments in Dubai today – the finest expressions of aspirational luxury that you can call your own.


Royal Amwaj Residences Royal amwaj Among other claims that put it among the most coveted locations in Dubai is the fact that the Royal Amwaj will be the first development in the UAE, if not the entire Middle East, that has over-water villas. Sadly the 18 bungalows will only be available for hotel guests and not investors, but a significant chunk of this soon-to-open new development on the eastern crescent of The Palm Jumeirah will be available for freehold ownership. In a city that made headlines for the number of off-plan sales back in the heady pre-recession days of the early Noughties, itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s surprising to hear that although the development is nearing completion, the 456 residential units will not go on sale until the project is complete, according to developer Seven Tides. Many of the residential units, which are positioned to give spectacular views back onto Dubai and The Palm or out into the Arabian Gulf, will have direct access to the water â&#x20AC;&#x201C; be it the beach or the 11,000 square metres of lagoons around the property. Apartments will reflect the style of the rest of the resort, with high quality interior finishes such as branded stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, accent lighting and top-end flooring, but residents can also buy bespoke furnishing packages. A smaller number of penthouse suites accompany the one- and two-bedroom apartments that make up the portfolio. Developer: Seven Tides. Units: one- and two-bed apartments and three-bed penthouses. Size: 104-617 sq m Price: to be announced Contact: info@seventides.com www.seventides.com


Invesst

Dubai

Royal Residences Jumeirah Zabeel Saray The Royal Residences at Jumeirah Zabeel Saray are perhaps the last word in aspirational lifestyle living. The four- and five-bedroom villas are scattered around a lagoon-style pool set amid lush tropical gardens with access to a private beach on The Palm Jumeirah, with access via a secure private entrance. Villas come fully equipped with Philips SoundBar systems, 55-inch LED TV in the living room and 40-inch flatscreen TVs and iPod docking stations in all bedrooms, wine fridge, espresso machine and Asprey bathroom amenities. As well as calling one of the handsome villas home, Royal Residence owners enjoy a range of additional perks including complimentary transfers to and from Dubai International Airport, 24-hour butler service, unlimited access to Wild Wadi Waterpark, and the option to convert the garage into a gym or games room. Units: four- and five-bedroom villas. Size: 461-1,600 sq m. Price: average aeD 30million (uS$8.17 million). Contact: jzsinfo@jumeirah.com www.jumeirah.com

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Dubai Invest

Balquis Residences Kingdom of Sheeba One of the largest developments on The Palm Jumeirah, the Kingdom of Sheeba is a sprawling Arabian micro-city made up of a 550-room hotel and 389 luxurious residential units. The Balquis Residences are the masterpiece within the development – 108 Arabian style villas, townhouses, furnished suites and apartments on the western crescent of The Palm Jumeirah that make up Phase 1 of the project. Buy the property as it comes or as a fully-furnished unit decked out in rich interiors and

top spec furnishings reflecting the quintessentially Arabian feel of the rest of the resort. Slightly smaller than some of the units available on The Palm, the Balquis Residences lend themselves to short-term lets for investors who want to use the apartment or villas for a few weeks and let it out through the hotel’s rental pool for the rest of the year. As well as the residences and the upcoming hotel, the development will include a beach club, pools and a traditional style Arabian souq with retail outlets and restaurants.

Developer: ifa hotels & Resorts. Units: studios and one- to threebedroom units. Size: from 750 sq ft (studio) to 1,700 sq ft (three-bed). Options: live-in or management pool. Price: studios from aed 1.35 milion ($367,500); three-beds from aed 2.95 million ($800,000). www.ifaproperties.com

“Kingdom of Sheeba is a sprawling Arabian micro-city made up of a 550room hotel and 389 luxurious residential units”

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Invesst

Dubai

Armani Residences Dubai ArmAni DubAi When the only way is up, there’s really just one address in Dubai that meets sky-high expectations. Situated on levels nine to 16 of the Burj Khalifa – the world’s tallest building – Armani Residences Dubai comprises 144 luxurious one- and two-bedroom suites created by Giorgio Armani, making them some of the most exclusive residential suites on the planet. Available for freehold ownership through developer Emaar, the Residences are similar in style to the Armani hotel rooms on the floors below, with dark interiors, understated décor and handmade furnishings from the bespoke Armani/Casa collection. Every detail has been selected by Giorgio Armani and every suite has met his famously high standards and fastidious attention to detail. Owners of the residences have access to the leisure and entertainment venues within Burj Khalifa and full VIP access to hotel services including 24-hour room service, lifestyle butlers, housekeeping, library, spa and swimming pool. And you get bragging rights for living in the tallest tower in the world. For now. Developer: Emaar. Units: one- and two bedroom suites. Size: from 100-200 sq m. Price: contact Emaar sales office Contact: armaniresidences@emaar.ae Tel: +971 4 366 1688 dubai.armanihotels.com

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Exotic. Enchanting.

Taj. Forever seductive, forever trusted, forever enchanting. Welcome to a romantic hideaway like no other on earth. Nestled on one of the largest lagoons in the Maldives and surrounded by the turquoise blue sea, the Taj Exoticaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s 64 villas are meant for those at home in the water, in love with the beach, or simply in love with one another. In addition to butler service and bespoke dining, arrangements can be made for any activity or service you wish, from a sunset cruise to a private scuba dive to holistic spa treatments. Tel: 00.960.664.2200 Email: exotica.maldives@tajhotels.com | Call 1.866.969.1825 in the U.S. and Canada, and 00.800.4588.1825 from all other countries or contact your travel consultant | w w w.tajhotels.com


Invest

Dubai

Palazzo Versace Condos Palazzo Versace Dubai Perhaps the crème de la crème of managed residential real estate in Dubai, Palazzo Versace Dubai promises to redefine ultra luxury living when it opens in the second half of 2013. Created by Italian architects SPATIUM and Versace, the project comprises a 214-room hotel and 169 luxurious condominiums ranging from one to six bedrooms. The US$626 million development in the Culture Village area, adjacent to Business Bay Bridge, is the second Versacebranded hotel and residence in the world. The condos are spread across two wings, Ala Destra and Ala Sinistra, and all feature views of Dubai Creek. Opposite is Dubai Festival City, which is earning a reputation as a new gourmet food and dining hub, and the nearby Al Badia Golf Club. Inside, the design reflects classical Italian luxury as seen through Versace’s eyes, with familiar elements such as the brand’s iconic Medusa heads visible throughout. Mosaics showing classical Roman and Greek scenes and imagery are handmade by Italian artisans. High ceilings are hand-detailed in gold; there’s fine Italian marble floors and mosaic tiling in the living rooms and bathrooms, and the finest timber parquet flooring covers the bedrooms. Marblefloored kitchens feature high-end Miele appliances, and select units feature the very exclusive Rosenthal meets Versace tableware collection, which was designed especially for Palazzo Versace. Owners of ground-floor duplex and upper level condominiums have access to private pools, and all condo residents have the extensive hotel facilities and creekside promenades at their disposal. Developer: eNsHaa. Units: one- to six-bedroom condos. Size: from 1,555 to 14,245 sq ft. Price: from aeD 6 million ($1.63 million) to around aeD 50 million ($13.6 million). Contact: info@palazzoversace.ae www.palazzoversace.ae


Invesst

Dubai

Baccarat Residences Dubai Pearl In a destination synonymous with luxury, Dubai Pearl is a development that stands out as perhaps the jewel in the crown. The city within a city will be home to some of the most exclusive hotels, residences, office space, shopping and entertainment options in the city when it is complete, including the exquisite Baccarat Residences. Managed by the neighbouring Baccarat Hotel, the 108 residences range from 2,173 to 7,500 square feet in size, spread across the tower and podium levels of the development. The bespoke residences will epitomise the elegant style synonymous with the Baccarat brand, which was founded in 1764 by decree of King Louis XV and

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counts kings, czars and maharajas among its clients. Buyers can meet with Baccarat designers to create their own hand-crafted interiors, all of which will be fitted out with exquisite Baccarat chandeliers and light fittings. Baccarat Residences Dubai will be one of several ultra exclusive Baccarat developments around the world, joining others in China, Morocco, Tunisia and the US. The downside? The Baccarat Residences arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t expected to be complete until 2015. Developer: Pearl Dubai FZ llC. Size: 2,173-7,500 sq ft. Price: from aeD 3,600 ($980) per sq ft. Contact: +971 4 3676990 www.dubaipearl.com


Prague Beguiling

The picturesque Czech capital steals hearts with its looks alone, but beyond its pretty façade is a buzzing city thatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s enjoying a modern-day Renaissance WORDS AND IMAGES: Caitlin Cheadle


Prague City

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Picture perfect (top) Prague's skyline is crammed with beautiful medieval architecture A moment in time (bottom left) The Theological Hall in the Strahov Monastery, which dates back to 1140 Spellbinding (bottom right) Strahov Monastery houses more than 1,500 incunabula books

D

on’t spin me too fast!” I shout nervously over the roar of whooshing air. “Just trust me!” my instructor shouts back. Arms folded in front of me, adrenaline surging through my veins, I take a deep breath and leap, extending my arms and legs as I’ve been instructed to do. The force of the air hits me instantly and I’m swooped up 20 feet into the air, doing my best to stay upright as I glide back down to earth, my instructor there to ensure I don’t fly right up to the roof of the 14 m high wind tunnel, putting an end to my Charlie and the Chocolate Factoryinspired fears. I’m in Prague’s Skydive Arena, a 30-minute drive from the cobbled streets and Baroque-façade shops of the city’s dainty Old Town. Out here, clusters of gloomy Soviet-era apartments sit next to giant shopping complexes. It’s a different – and markedly less picturesque – side of Prague, one that you won’t see on the postcards. But what I discovered on this, my second visit to the Czech Republic capital, is that while Prague’s most obvious charm lies in its pristine toy-town cityscapes, it is in the most unexpected places that you’ll find its true heart and soul. My trip begins in the basement of the Hotel Jalta on the bustling Wenceslas Square, in a claustrophobiainducing concrete maze of rooms built at the height of the Cold War in the 1950s. The fallout shelter was meant to protect up to 250 people in the event of a nuclear attack. Standing here in eerie silence, the distant rumble of the underground metro is the only link to the outside


Prague City

â&#x20AC;&#x153;While Prague's most obvious charm lies in its pristine toy-town cityscapes, it is in the most unexpected places that you'll find its true heart and soulâ&#x20AC;?

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(Clockwise from top left) Lighten up The Zizkov TV Tower was given a makeover in 2000 with art installations by David Cerny Clear view Bubble chairs inside the top viewing deck of the Zizkov TV Tower, 93 metres above ground Fine dining Oblaca bar and restaurant has some of the best views in town Toy town The Baroque buildings of Prague's enticing Old Town

world; it’s a time capsule preserving the fears of a country that has withstood centuries of oppression under dictatorships, first during the Austro-Hungarian Empire, later under Hitler’s Nazi regime, and finally under Soviet-led communism. Just outside the hotel on Wenceslas Square, the peaceful demonstrations of the 1989 Velvet Revolution led to the end of communist rule in former Czechoslovakia, a period that for many Czechs is all too recent. The tourist-heavy district has since become a buzzing avenue of non-stop traffic, attracting throngs of shoppers and sightseers in the daytime and a steady stream of boisterous club kids at night. It’s clear Prague is unapologetic about celebrating its democratic status. The following morning I’m gazing at a collection of Europe’s oldest

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books under the grand frescoed ceiling of the Theological Hall in the Strahov Monastery, where Czech monks, philosophers, artists and intellectuals have flocked since 1140. The incunabula (published before 1501) books are works of art themselves; their pages covered in flourishing latin script and elaborate illustrations, they are carefully laid out under glass casing next to the earliest examples of taxidermy and 400-year-old globes. Every square inch of the library’s walls are crammed full of ancient theological volumes, stacked all the way to the ceiling. Here we are treated to a private concert of classical guitar and flute, the notes of Bach’s Air particularly soul-stirring when reverberating through the centuriesold room, transporting me back to the time when Prague was the


capital of Bohemia and the Holy Roman Empire. Playing polar opposite to the elegant beauty of the Strahov Monastery is the imposing metallic Zizkov TV Tower in the eastern part of the city centre, voted the ‘Second Ugliest Building in the World’ in 2008. Construction began in 1985 under communist rule but wasn’t completed until 1992, during which time Czechs speculated that its actual purpose was to block foreign radio broadcasts. The tower's brutally cold, Soviet design was livened up in 2000 with the addition of several giant babies crawling up its facade, care of Czech artist David Cerný. Inside the tower, visitors are whisked 93 m above the city to a room of transparent hanging bubble chairs, which face a spread of panoramic windows.


Saint Claire Vineyard (above) The perfect place to sample local Czech wines Palate-pleaser (left) Prague's culinary scene has come a long way in recent years

Thegoldenbook Four Seasons Hotel Prague Tel: +420 221 427 000

www.fourseasons.com

Aria Hotel Prague Tel: +420 225 334 111

www.ariahotel.net

Buddha Bar Hotel Prague Tel: +420 221 776 300

www.buddhabarhotelprague.com

Czech Tourism Board www.czechtourism.com

A few floors below at 66 m, the just-opened Oblaca restaurant serves an excellent lunch of creamy mushroom soup, grilled rainbow trout with lentils and a crisp sancerre alongside sweeping views of the city. You have to hand it to the Czechs; not only have they turned a menacing Soviet relic into a whimsical tourist attraction, they’ve also given its interior a chic makeover – from the inside you would never know it is one of the world’s ugliest buildings. There’s even a brand-new hotelapartment located one storey above the restaurant, which visitors can book for around US$800 per night. As sophisticated as post-Soviet, tourist-friendly Prague has proven itself to be, it would be misleading to gloss over its reputation as a debaucherous party town. Cheap beer is the main draw for the stag-do

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crowds, and I do spot them staggering up Wenceslas Square on Saturday night and emerging ashen-faced from hotels in the Old Town on Sunday afternoon. But there is plenty on offer for those with more refined tastes, too. I’m immediately besotted by Saint Claire Vineyard, set on the hills surrounding central Prague, where pretty gardens and a pumpkin patch lead to a tiny wine tavern overlooking the city. Inside we gather around an iron wood-burning stove for respite from the chilly October afternoon, where we sample reds and whites between bites of smoked cheeses. Much to my surprise, the wine here is excellent – a far cry from the Czech plonk that’s served in the boisterous beer halls. Just like the local wines, Czech cuisine can vary greatly in both price and quality, especially if you fall victim

to the tourist traps, where stodgy servings of over-cooked pork and soggy dumplings dominate menus. Our final day in the city reveals a pleasant surprise that I’d highly recommend to anyone who happens to be in Prague on a Sunday: brunch at Francouzska Restaurant, in the glorious Municipal House. Underneath the elaborate glass chandeliers of the exquisite Art Nouveau dining room, we are greeted with champagne before tucking into wild reindeer with porcini demi-glace, scrambled eggs with truffles, and roasted chestnut salad. Suddenly there is a hushed murmur as a well-dressed man enters – a famous Czech actor, I’m told. Looking around, it's apparent that this is where Prague’s society types come to dine incognito. I feel as though I've been let in on a special secret; it's a fitting end to a trip spent exploring this fascinating city from the inside out. n


Photo: Caitlin Cheadle

Take a walk on the wild side A 30-minute flight from the skyscrapers of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas Island offers intrigue, adventure, ancient history and plenty of down-time WORDS: Caitlin Cheadle

T

he half-hour flight from Abu Dhabi to Sir Bani Yas Island is a chance to view the relatively untouched Desert Islands archipelago from above, each islet partly submerged by the turquoise waters of the Arabian Sea. Twenty minutes after take-off, the distinctive salt domes of Sir Bani Yas Island come into view, giving passengers a great photo opportunity before the plane tilts and we circle for landing. At the tiny Sir Bani Yas airport, gazelles meander through the parking lot, parting swiftly as a coach bus arrives to take us to the island’s sole accommodation, Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, where a small team of staff armed with chilled towels and hibiscus juice greet us in the lobby. Unfortunately my luggage does not arrive with me at the resort, but thankfully my room is equipped to handle such an emergency. In the bathroom I find a shaver and foam, toothbrush and toothpaste, plus Anantara’s own range of hair and skin products to tide me over.

I scrub up as best I can and join the others for a delicious meal of grilled hammour at the beachside Samak restaurant. Thankfully my luggage arrives at the hotel shortly after dessert is served. At 6am the next morning a small group assembles in the lobby for coffee before our desert safari begins. The sun is just rising as we set out in a Land Cruiser toward the nature reserve. Suddenly we’re in the presence of two lithe cheetahs, who size up our vehicle before bringing it to a standstill as they hunker down on the dirt road and begin play-fighting. Not so tough, these wildcats. We carry on and spot another cheetah in the distance, this one stretched out under a tree, picking at the remains of a freshly-killed gazelle. Despite the protection of a fence and the tracking collar around its neck, seeing this predatory beast in action is pretty remarkable. We are, after all, on an island in the Arabian Peninsula, not far from the skyscrapers of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Our guide then takes us past the salt domes and wadis that run

through the centre of the island. He points to the stripes of orange, taupe and black running through the stratified rock and explains that the mounds of earth were created up to 10 million years ago, when salt deposits were pushed upward from the seafloor. On the eastern side of the island lies an impressive piece of human history; the remnants of a Christian monastery and church, believed to have been settled by monks around 600 AD. Discovered in 1992 during an archaeological survey, excavation of the site began in 1993 under the patronage of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, founder of the UAE, but was halted in 1996. In 2009, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, ordered the resumption of the project. The monastery is believed to have served as a stop for pilgrims travelling along a trade route to India, and is particularly significant as it is the only pre-Islamic Christian settlement in the UAE and serves as evidence that Christianity spread much further than was originally thought. The site has


Photo: Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara

Sir Bani Yas Island Explore

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Photo: Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara

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after dinner, my fellow kayakers and I, having bonded over our afternoon excursion, stay up late into the night sharing travel stories over wine. It feels a bit like summer camp – but with five-star accommodation and cheetahs. Not bad for a weekend break from the city. n

The important bit What: Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara, Abu Dhabi, UAE Cost: from AED 1,200 (US$327) per night for a deluxe sea view room Book: +971 2 801 5400 www.desertislands.com

Close encounter (top) A desert safari drive to the nature reserve lets you get up close and personal with the island’s resident cheetahs

Photo: Caitlin Cheadle

Photo: Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara

been open to the public since 2010, and guests of Desert Islands Resort can visit it on daily guided tours. After a poolside siesta, we hop back in the Land Cruiser and drive to the island’s natural mangrove forests, exploring them from the warm sea by kayak. As the late afternoon sun dips below the horizon we head back to the resort, the salt water still on my sunkissed skin. My arms aching from the paddle, I cannot wait for a bath and a well-earned dinner. An hour later I sit down for the seafood barbecue at The Palm restaurant, where a team of chefs grills and serves fresh lobster, prawns, salmon, and sea bass. Full and content

IN THE KNOW Flights from Abu Dhabi to Sir Bani Yas Island are operated by Rotana Jet. Prices start at AED 200 ($55) for adults and AED 100 ($27) for children under 11.

Al Yamm Lodge (bottom left) Exclusive new lodges will add a luxurious touch to Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara

Guests at Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara can take part in desert safari drives, kayak trips, sailing lessons and sail boat hire, archery, mountain biking, nature walks, snorkelling, horse riding and guided visits to the Christian monastery site.

Just wandering (bottom right) Dainty sand gazelles roam freely on Sir Bani Yas Island

In 2013 the resort will open Al Yamm Lodge, with 30 private dwellings in the mangrove forests on the beach, and Al Sahel Lodge, with 30 villas on a grassy savannah among free-roaming wildlife.


NIGHT & DAY

Visit the highlights of one of Europe’s most fashionable cities in this short guide to 24 hours in Oslo Words: Sandra O’Connell Grand Hotel Oslo

OSLO

09.00 Fly into Oslo Airport at Gardermoen (www.osl.no) and marvel at the contemporary architecture by Gudmund Stokke. As you walk through the terminal, you’ll find yourself relaxing in the unusually quiet space, free from PA-announcements – the airport proudly calls itself a ‘silent’ zone. For NOK 170 (US$30) hop onto the underground Airport Express Train (www.flytoget.no) for a 20-minute ride to Oslo Central Station. 10.00 From Oslo Central Station pile your luggage into a waiting taxi for a five-minute trip to the regal Grand Hotel Oslo (www.grand. no; +47 23 21 22 00), located on the busy Karl Johans gate. With guests ranging from heads of state to Nobel Peace Prize laureates, the hotel has a distinguished 130-year history. Drop your bags off in your elegantly furnished room before having a late morning snack in the hotel’s Grand Café. 11.00 Bicycles reign over cars in this Norwegian capital, and it makes sense to pedal your way to the sights that are further afield.

Rent a bicycle for two hours from Viking Biking (www.vikingbikingoslo.com; +47 41 26 64 96), which is a mere five-minute walk from your hotel. With your set of wheels, trace your steps back to Karl Johans gate and follow this main street to the lush grounds of the Royal Palace, where you should stop to take in the sweeping city view. 11.30 Continue your biking adventure for a further 10 minutes northwest to Frogner Park and the controversial Vigeland Sculpture Arrangement, designed by Gustav Vigeland over a 20-year period beginning in 1924. Explore the expansive park and study more than 200 sculptures in bronze, granite and wrought iron. The works depict nudes in different stages of being, including contorted in agony and relaxed in thought. Visit the Vigeland Museum (www.vigeland.museum. no) to learn about the various meanings of the impressive sculptures and to gain more knowledge of the talented artist. 13.00 After returning your bicycle, enjoy a 10-minute

walk southwest via Rådhusgata to the waterfront, where you will pass the esteemed Nobel Peace Center on your way to Aker Brygge, a trendy wharf development teeming with restaurants and boutiques. Find a seat with a view of the harbour at Lofoten Fiskerestaurant (www.lofoten-fiskerestaurant.no; +47 22 83 08 08) and please your tastebuds with one of their delightful seafood dishes. 15.00 If you are travelling to Oslo between April and September, take the ferry to Bygdøynes from the Rådhusbrygga pier next to Aker Brygge to visit the much-lauded Viking Ship Museum (www.khm.uio.no/vikingskipshuset; $10). Outside of these months, a 10-minute taxi ride will also take you to the attraction. Travel to another time as you gaze at the incredible craftsmanship dating back to 800 AD and imagine Vikings conquering new territory in the three mighty vessels. 17.00 As one of the most fashionable cities in Europe, you’ll want to mimic some of Oslo’s style while in Scandinavia. Head back to the


Photo: The Vigeland Museum / BONO 2012

Etoile Bar

Vigeland Museum

Photo: University of Oslo / Eirik Irgens Johnsen

Viking Ship Museum

Nobel Peace Center

city centre to Freudian Kicks (www.freudiankicks.com), the best independent fashion boutique in town. Browse through the racks containing such designers as Acne, Opening Ceremony and Surface to Air, along with the store’s own eponymous label. 18.30 Head east to the striking Oslo Opera House to walk across the slanting rooftop and stare out at the glistening water. Built in 2008, the architectural beauty is the first opera house in the world to allow visitors to walk on the roof. Before trekking back to your hotel to dress for dinner, rest your weary feet downstairs in the spacious Sanguine Brasserie (www.brasseriesanguine.no; +47 21 42 21 43) while sipping on a libation of your choice. 20.30 Once you have donned your best threads for dinner, purify your body at Oslo’s first organic restaurant, the two Michelin star Maaemo (en.maaemo.no; +47 91 99 48 05). With a focus on local food, a set menu is offered at 1,600 NOK (US$275) - a unique feast and experience that’s well worth the expense. 23.00 With a sated appetite, return to the Grand Hotel Oslo for a nightcap, just an elevator ride away from your room. Allow the lights of Oslo to mesmerise you from the chic Etoile Bar, situated on the top floor of the hotel. 00.30 Retire to your room for the night and sleep soundly, nestled in the luxurious sheets before your early departure. n

STAY Grand Hotel Oslo Tel: +47 23 21 22 00 www.grand.no

Hotel Continental Oslo Tel: +47 22 82 40 00 www.hotelcontinental.no

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Diary 11.12

Guy Fawkes Night

November 5 United Kingdom

Also known as Bonfire Night, the annual tradition celebrates the anniversary of the discovery of a plot organised by conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London in 1605. Bonfires and fireworks displays are organised in parks and municipalities throughout the UK, and it’s a chance for family and friends to get together for street parties and dinners, featuring hearty traditional foods like baked potato, mulled wine and tomato soup. www.bonfirenight.net

2012 Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix November 2-4 Abu Dhabi, UAE

This year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, held at the spectacular Yas Marina Circuit, home to a world-class marina, the ultra-modern Yas Viceroy Hotel, and exclusive bars, restaurants and clubs, will be bigger and better than ever. Post-race events will take place every night at Sky Bar and Amber Lounge, and ticket holders will have access to live concerts by Kylie Minogue, Nickelback and Eminem. www.yasmarinacircuit.com

Kind Hearts and Coronets Ball November 24 Dubai, UAE

The Queen Charlotte’s Ball dates back to 1780, when debutantes were formally presented to the Queen at Buckingham Palace. Today it is one of the highlights of the London social season, and this year the debutantes will be travelling to Dubai for the Kind Hearts and Coronets Ball in aid of The Smile Train charity, taking place at the The Palace hotel, with special guests Princess Olga Romanov of Russia and the Duke and Duchess of Somerset. www.londonseason.net


Coutts Polo at the Palace November 23-24 Abu Dhabi, UAE

‘Experimental Growth’ by Arik Levy November 8 – December 21 Vicenza, Italy

A special exhibition project of the Bisazza Foundation dedicated to the work of celebrated installation artist, photographer and director Arik Levy, the event begins on November 7 with a press preview, lunch and cocktail reception with the artist before the exhibition is unveiled to the public the following day. www.fondazionebisazza.it

Photo: ArikLEVY RockChamber Fondazione Bisazza 2012

Set to be one of the most exciting events in the UAE’s social calendar, the inaugural two-day tournament is brought to you by the organisers of London’s Polo in the Park, and is guaranteed to attract an equally prestigious crowd. Set amid Emirates Palace’s 100 hectares of private gardens, guests will be treated to a day of intense matches, glamorous surroundings, exquisite food and beverages, and a fashion show by British designer Stella McCartney, who will be premiering her latest collection. www.couttspoloatthepalace.com

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Spend it

Itineraries

Spend it

A presidential suite in San Francisco, two spectacular resorts in Mauritius and the royal treatment in Marrakech – here’s how to spend it this month

Luxurious Laos

Kiridara Luang Prabang

One of the most exclusive resorts in Laos, Kiridara Luang Prabang has launched six new suites designed to make your stay in one of Asia’s most exciting destinations a memorable one. With teak flooring and furnishings, Terrazzo bathtubs and handmade Laotian textiles and artwork, the Kiri Suites are among the most luxurious in Laos. Choose from a private balcony, terrace or courtyard where you can gaze at the tranquil surroundings and spectacular views of Mount Phou Si. As an introductory offer, guests staying in the suites will be treated to a range of luxurious extras including 90-minute Kiridara Massage Experience, dinner for two at PhuDoi restaurant, complimentary first stock of minibar, private round-trip airport transfers, welcome “Baci” ceremony at the yoga sala, monks alms ceremony and daily breakfast, plus welcome fruit platter. From: now until March 31, 2013 (excluding blackout period from Dec 21-Jan 10). Cost: from US$722 for two nights in a Kiri Suite based on two people sharing. Book: info@kiridara www.kiridara.com

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Mandarin Oriental San Francisco

*All prices are subject to change. Please contact the listed companies for further information.

Royal welcome in Marrakech

Everyone likes a good birthday celebration, especially when it’s a significant milestone, like the 25th anniversary of Mandarin Oriental San Francisco. As part of the celebrations, the hotel is offering guests a once-ina-lifetime opportunity to stay in one of its signature suites and enjoy some of the most extravagant experiences in the city. Spend two nights in the 2,000 sq ft Oriental Suite on the 38th floor of the newly renovated hotel and you’ll also enjoy a private chartered one-hour helicopter flight for two around the city, return transfers to the airport in a town car, a two-hour couples’ spa treatment with monogrammed plush bathrobes and spa gift to take home with you, and a gift certificate for exclusive silver boutique Christofle in Union Square. Cap off the experience with a special 25th anniversary dinner on the terrace of your suite, prepared by executive chef Adam Mali, with champagne and wine pairings. From: now until December 30. Must be booked at least 72 hours in advance. Cost: from US$25,000 Book: +1 800 622 0404 www.mandarinoriental.com/sanfrancisco

Royal Mansour Marrakech

More work of art than hotel, the Royal Mansour is a majestic collection of traditional handcrafted riads tailored by Moroccan artisans and designers at the behest of the King of Morocco, who commissioned and owns the property. The 53 exquisite three-storey riads feature rooms positioned around a central courtyard, with spacious drawing room on the ground floor, bedrooms and dressing room on the first floor and plunge pool, Bedouin tent, dining area and fire pit on the rooftop, with the magnificent Atlas Mountains and the city of Marrakech as the backdrop. The unique riads overflow with rich decorations and architectural details, with hand-carved ceilings, lavish marble mosaics and colourful tiled columns. Hammam rituals complete the fantasy at the opulent Royal Mansour Spa, and dining from three-Michelin star chef Yannick Alleno guarantees foodies will be well looked after. From: now until December 27. Cost: MAD 275,000 (US$32,000) per night in a four-bedroom riad. Book: reservations@royalmansour.ma www.royalmansour.com

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Spend it

Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre In a land of bold contrasting colours, Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre stands out as the boldest of them all. Designed by Thai architect Lek Bunnag with interiors from fashion designer Kenzo Takada, the ultra-cool resort sits on a wide powder-sand beach on the edge of a placid lagoon on the wild south coast of Mauritius. The 92 villas and suites scattered across the spacious resort have private gardens or plunge pools, as well as splashes of bright colours that complement the lush vegetation and blue ocean. Treatments in So Spa are worldclass, with French cosmetics, acupuncture with golden needles, marble hammams and a range of indulgent massages and rituals. From: now Cost: from US$459 per night based on two people staying. Book four nights and pay for three. Book: H6707-RE@sofitel.com www.sofitel.com

Heritage The Villas Part of Mauritius’ exclusive Heritage Resorts, Heritage The Villas is a collection of luxurious villas spread out over more than 200 acres of tropical gardens on the south coast of Mauritius in the exclusive Domaine de Bel Ombre estate. The two-, three- and four-bedroom villas come with infinity pools, large verandahs, gazebos and landscaped tropical gardens, as well as luxurious furnishings and fullyequipped kitchens. The award-winning Heritage Golf Club is on your doorstep, and there’s quick access to the upscale restaurants of the Domaine de Bel Ombre development. Book the ‘Plentitude’ package now and get dinner at your choice of the six à la carte restaurants at Le Domaine de Bel Ombre, a dinner served in your villa, six hours of spa treatments from the Seven Colours Spa ‘Millesime Collection’ at Heritage Le Telfair, and unlimited complimentary green fees and use of golf car at the Heritage Golf Club. Go on. Live a little. From: now until April 30, 2013. Cost: from US$1,616 per night for a three-bedroom private pool villa. Book: resa@heritagethevillas.mu www.heritagethevillas.mu

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Photo: Alban Pichon

Photo: Alban Pichon

Suite dreams

Explorers welcome Hôtel 3.14 Cannes offers a different take on French Riviera style, says Joe Mortimer

T

here aren’t many places in the world where killer design meets anticipatory service in a location that makes you hot under the collar. Hotel 3.14 Cannes is one of them – a small, dazzling boutique hotel located steps away from Cannes’ star-studded Promenade de la Croisette, with a rooftop terrace and private garden where some of the city’s most exclusive events have taken place. I arrive on a crisp December morning and rub my eyes as I walk into the colourful lobby. In the centre of the room, a garden gnome sits on the top of a Murano fountain, a journeyman who welcomes travellers to the refreshingly quirky hotel. This sets the tone of what’s to follow. I complete the check-in formalities in the comfort of The Library, a colourful 24-hour space with a collection of books on art and design, and a selection of dishes from chef Mario d’Orio available around the clock. But it is the suite that really sets this hotel apart. Up on the third floor, rooms are designed around the theme of “Oceania – distant islands”.

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The hotel’s modest façade belies the enormous space within the suite, which greets you with a vast living area that ends with a gorgeous set of French windows looking out down the road to the Croisette and the Cote d’Azur beyond. A neutral palette of sandy creams and dark woods is immediately reminiscent of tranquil beaches and calm coral reefs, the windows filling the room with natural light. A four-seater dining room table made of heavy dark wood occupies the left-hand side of the room, while the remaining space is home to a chaise lounge, wicker table and baskets, and an enormous wicker cocoon-like chair that’s perfect for indolent afternoon naps. Raffia curtains frame the views of the sea. In the bedroom, white drapes hang from the bed frame and the sand-coloured headboard, further enhancing the open, breezy atmosphere. The open bathroom has a wooden floor, creating a wet space separated from the bedroom by a hydrotherapy bathtub complete with colour-changing underwater lights and Jacuzzi jets.

The individually designed rooms were created by designer Karine Ellena-Partouche and her sister Alexandra Ellen, with themes reflecting each of the continents. Daughters of a pilot, the sisters created the hotel in celebration of the destinations that made an impression on them while they were growing up, they say. If the idea was to create a destination within a destination for overseas visitors to Cannes, they certainly succeeded. Returning from a conference at the Palais des Festivals, a short walk down the road often dotted with celebrities and VIPs, I step out of one glamorous fantasyland and into another. n

The important bit Suite: Prestige Suite – Oceania What: Hôtel 3.14 Cannes Where: 5, rue François Einesy, 06400 Cannes Price: suite from EUR 499 (US $648) per night www.314cannes.com


Discover. eXPerieNce. LUXUrY. ILTM is the leading ‘by invitation only’ showcase for the global luxury travel community. Bringing together the world’s most sought after collection of luxury experiences for the most discerning international luxury travel buyers, ILTM offers you unrivalled business opportunities. If you are an international luxury travel buyer or supplier register your interest in attending the world’s most exclusive travel event at www.iltm.net/cannes


Impeccably imperial Harking back to the days when Roman emperors ruled the world, the Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina is a striking addition to the Italian capital, says Lucy Taylor The important bit What: Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina Where: 3 Via del Gianicolo, Rome 00165, Italy Cost: from EUR 350 (US $435) per night Book: +39 06 925901 www.granmeliarome.com

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t’s hard to simply stroll through central Rome. Such is the hustle and bustle of Italy’s capital city that you will inexorably find yourself striding across sturdy stone bridges and skipping through traffic on the crowded central via, as if racing towards some momentous Italian event – like a sale at Armani, or a really long lunch. The streets are swarming with impossibly elegant business folk, teens on scooters and the inevitable frazzled groups of tourists – all part and parcel of one of Europe’s most buzzing and beautiful cities. That’s why walking into the Gran Meliá Rome Villa Agrippina is such a pleasant surprise. Heading through the hillside gates via small but colourfully landscaped gardens into the cool marble lobby, it feels like you’ve stumbled into a peaceful parallel universe. In fact, it’s hard to believe you’re still in the heart of the ancient city – precisely the point of this Roman gem, which positions itself as a ‘luxury urban resort’. Located in the historical district of Gianicolo, a five-minute stroll from the Vatican and St. Peter’s Basilica, the hotel is built on the site of its namesake – the Villa Agrippina, home to the mother of

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Emperor Nero in the first and second centuries AD. In recognition of this claim to fame, a huge stone face mounted on the lobby wall gazes down upon new arrivals – a replica of an original statue of Agrippina herself. During the construction of the property, various archaeological treasures were discovered, which are displayed in the library off the main lobby. Woven into this historical tapestry, however, is a far more modern thread. The property’s design, which has architecturally, at least, stuck to the basic layout of the original villa, also incorporates some strikingly modern elements. Light fittings that could pass for contemporary sculptures grace high, sunshine-filled rooms, while shocking magenta upholstery mingles with recreations of classical frescoes. Guests looking for that extra-special touch should take advantage of the exclusive RedLevel – or, as Meliá puts it, the ‘boutique hotel within a hotel’. This private VIP check-in sees new arrivals whisked away to a hidden lounge, where they can enjoy welcome refreshments as amenable staff complete the check-in process. Rooms range from the elegant Deluxe, complete with spacious bathroom, garden view and fresco, to the all-out imperial chic of the Emperor Penthouse and Wellness Master Suite, with multiple rooms, a fully furnished terrace, outdoor whirlpool bath and private spa area. Meanwhile the weary sightseer can unwind at the luxurious YHI Wellness SPA, with vitality pool, steam bath and sauna, plus a gym with personal trainer services – and a convenient hair salon in which to spruce up afterwards. Outside, the neatly-clipped hedges and jewel-tone flower beds of the Orti Domiziani gardens give way to a pool flanked by loungers and muslin-draped daybeds. At night, this turns into the district’s most happening new terrace lounge, with Rome’s great and good mingling over sticky candy-hued cocktails. Although the cuisine of the capital’s trattorias is well worth exploring, the hotel’s dining options offer a delightful insight into Italian food. Renowned Italian chef Alfonso Iaccarino oversees signature Restaurant Vivavoce. Having built a stellar reputation in his role at the helm of Don Alfonso 1890 restaurant (where he earned two Michelin stars), it’s no surprise that Iaccarino’s take on fine Mediterranean cuisine is a stunning one. Running with the hotel’s theme of classic-meets-modern, the menu fuses rustic rural Italian ingredients with true Roman finesse, delivering some surprising yet highly successful combinations. Whether you’re at the Villa Agrippina for the food and drink (the property houses a wine-cellar that even Roman emperors would have approved of), the relaxation, or the local history and culture, this property has it all. It’s a glimpse into the softer side of bustling, modern Rome, harking back to the days when emperors – and indeed their mothers – had the world at their feet. ■


ON THE ROAD

JAGUAR F-TYPE V8S Engine: 5.0-litre V8 supercharged BHP: 495 Ps Torque: 625 Nm 0-100kph: 4.3 secs Top speed: 300 kph Emissions: 259g/km

Jaguar’s long-awaited new F-Type is a captivating machine. Look at it front-on and you’ll be mesmerised by its cheerful eyes, beaming grille and beautifully sculpted cheekbones. Even its dimples radiate a sense of delight – a yearning for the open road and an eager driver. The playful façade belies the newly designed high performance engine under the hood, and the precise, tailored atmosphere within. We’d expect nothing less from the creators of some of the world’s finest sports cars.

“Jaguar is a founder member of the sports car segment with a rich sporting bloodline stretching over 75 years, and in the F-Type we’ve reignited that flame. The F-Type isn’t designed to be like anyone else’s sports car. It’s a Jaguar sports car – ultra-precise, powerful, sensual and, most of all, it feels alive” Adrian Hallmark, global brand director, Jaguar


title

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ASTON MARTIN DB9 Engine: 6.0-litre V12 BHP: 510 Torque: 620 Nm 0-100kph: 4.6 secs Top speed: 295 kph Origin: Gaydon, UK Cost: from GBP 131,995 (US$211,800) in the UK.

One of the most beautiful sports cars in the world has just emerged from another face lift, as Aston Martin launches the 2013 model DB9. The car remains the sleekest and sportiest model in the UK car-maker’s Gaydon stable, with a range of new improvements that James Bond would be proud of. With elements of the now extinct Aston Martin Virage, a low stance and a pronounced rear end ‘flip’ that highlights its sleek profile, the DB9 cuts a sharp figure.

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MERCEDES SLS AMG GT Engine: AMG 6.3-litre V8 BHP: 591 Torque: 650 Nm 0-100kph: 3.7 secs Top speed: 320 kph Origin: Affalterbach, Germany Cost: Roadster model from EUR 213,010 (US$278,280)

“We are continuing with our consistent expansion of the SLS AMG family. With the highly emotional, performanceoriented GT variants, our range has now grown to five models” Ola Källenius, Chairman of Mercedes-AMG GmbH

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The number of letters at the end of this car’s name should be some indication of where it sits in Mercedes’ supercar portfolio. Available in both coupé and roadster versions, this is the fifth member of the SLS family, and it would definitely win in a fistfight. The GT has been used as the official Formula 1 Safety Car since the Belgian Grand Prix this year, and now, bizarrely, they’re unleashing it on the roads. From the outside in, it screams speed, with matte black wheels, darkened headlamps and taillights, and bright red brake callipers. The interiors haven’t changed much since the car left the race track, with red seat belts, red-edged floor mats and red centre console and door panel lining. Just in case you’re not 100 percent convinced of its sporting credibility, they even did away with “Comfort” mode from the AMG Ride Control panel.


Motoring

Review

THE PREQUEL The Jaguar XKR puts the roar back into the great British carmaker’s sports car legacy COLLECTING the Jaguar XKR from the showroom was a nervewracking experience. Walking around the showroom, the smell of car wax and soft leather (or success, in other words) radiated around the cars on display. The XKR took centre-stage. Outside, my test drive model sat proudly on the driveway, white and gleaming in the afternoon sun. A man was taking photos of it on his iPhone. Sitting inside, snug in the sports seats and low suede-clad convertible roof, was like being in a bubble; a tailor-made, handstitched, sweet-smelling Italian leather bubble with chrome-edged dials, seven-inch touch-screen computer and a circular gearshift dial that rises from the central console when you hit start and the engine explodes into life. Driving the XKR is a lesson in refinement. It’s a car that commands respect, but at the same time it is playful and a little bit naughty. It purrs along at low 88

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speeds with all the grace and poise of a catwalk model, catching the eye of passers-by with its attractive front grille, seductive curves and epic hood, which features two air vents etched with the word “Supercharged”. Longer and lower than the rest of the Jaguar family, the XKR is definitely the rebellious and beautiful youngest sibling. This model, the convertible, conjures up images of long drives along Pacific highways or picnics in the Lake District, but it is also quite at home roaring ahead on straight roads – its 5.0 litre AJ-V8 GEN III supercharged petrol engine allowing it to gallop along at an electronically limited 250kph with little effort. Cornering is so smooth you would be forgiven for thinking there is nothing the XKR can’t do. Its Dynamic Stability Control gives the impression that you’re travelling at a steady crawl even when the needle is in the upper half of the dial and you’re making a tight right-hander.

NUTS & BOLTS Vehicle: Jaguar XKR (MY 13) Engine: 5.0 litre AJ-V8 GEN III supercharged petrol BHP: 510 Torque: 624 Nm 0-100kph: 4.8 secs Fuel consumption: 12.3 l/100km Top speed: 250 kph (limited) Origin: Castle Bromwich, UK Price: AED 480,000 (US$130,680)

In fact it feels considerably lighter and more nimble at medium and high speeds than when crawling around built-up areas. The two rear bucket seats are more for show than any practical purpose, but you wouldn’t really want to share this experience with more than one other person anyway. Reversing isn’t easy with the hood up – much of the convertible roof is opaque fabric, so there’s a sizeable blind spot where the rear window should be. The rear-view camera is

handy for parking, but it doesn’t help when pulling out of parking spaces. Jaguar’s reputation for creating some of the word’s finest luxury motor cars was revived after a few years of mediocrity by the XKR, and refined to near perfection in the 2013 model. The world was excited about the launch of the F-Type in Paris in September (as the name suggests, the next generation version of the celebrated E-Type), but in my opinion, the event Jaguar fans have been waiting for has already arrived. ■


Seasonal scents for him and for her

FRAGRANCE BUTLER

GAP SOUL For the modern man who appreciates simplicity, Soul is a blend of clean, fresh notes of bergamont and sage, with violet leaves, ginger, cardamom, vetiver, white amber and suede base notes.

KENZO Lâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;EAU 2 KENZO POUR FEMME A glamorous, fruity and floral scent with top notes of pear nectar and lemon pulp, a heart of rose, freesia and lotus flower and undertones of cedar and white musks.

Wear it in: New York

Wear it in: Moscow


Juicy couture ViVa la Juicy la Fleur A softer version of the original Viva La Juicy, this scent combines sweet top notes of wild berries, mandarin and honeysuckle with floral notes of gardenia, jasmine and waterlily.

DiPtyQue VoluteS Inspired by Diptyque founder Yves Coueslant’s journeys to the colonial lands, the scent is an intriguing blend of tobacco, wax, honey, dried fruit, pink pepper, saffron, hay and honey.

PeNHaliGoN’S MalaBaH Inspired by an ‘imaginary journey along the East Indian spice route’, the subtle fragrance is a blend of citrus, green coriander and smokey Earl Grey tea combined with rose, ginger and spices.

Wear it in: Provence

Wear it in: Galle

Wear it in: Bengal

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Treasured Time. Our promise to you.

At Rotana, we have chosen to acknowledge how precious time is to you by making all time spent with us, Treasured Time. This means that we pledge to understand and meet the individual needs of all our guests. In so doing, we have evolved our product brands to include, Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana, Centro Hotels by Rotana and Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana.

P.O. Box: 43500, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates T: +971 (0)2 644 4412, F: +971 (0)2 644 4413, head.ofďŹ ce@rotana.com


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NATURE’S GoURmET Nick Rice visits The Gourmet at The Westin Valencia, a triumph of taste and service.

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DINING DowN UNDER

DOTWNews.com visits Australia’s most exclusive resort, qualia, to catch up with chef Alastair Waddell.

BoRNEo DREAmS

Nicci Perides enjoys the wild hospitality at the Shangri-La Tanjung Aru Resort & Spa.

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Four Seasons chief executive Kathleen Taylor on striving to find the right work/life balance.

A man drove off with a Porsche Panamera worth around $133,000 from a showroom in Kuala Lumpur.

Hundreds of tarantulas found in luggage

A German couple have been caught with hundreds of tarantulas in their luggage in Amsterdam.

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man escapes prosecution after indecent act on plane

A man has avoided charges in Japan after using a micro-camera to peek up a flight attendant’s skirt on a domestic flight.

Atomic bomb site to be opened to tourists

The Chinese government has announced plans to turn the laboratories where the country’s first atomic bomb was created into a tourist attraction.

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 October’s competition was Abu Dhabi. The winner was Richelle Wiley from Dubai, UAE.

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Rowena Marella-Daw looks at how Evian Resort keeps the legacy alive and the water flowing.

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man steals porsche from Kuala Lumpur showroom

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EVIAN RESoRT

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THE DUCHESS OF SOMERSET

H

er Grace the Duchess of Somerset began her well-travelled life in London, where she was educated by nuns before moving to Florence to study the history of art. Having been bitten by the travel bug, her next job as a junior fashion assistant at Vogue led her and a colleague to spend 15 months travelling through Canada and America, before she embarked on her next overseas job, working for a respected art dealer in Hong Kong. It was in London while working at Sotheby’s that she met her husband, with whom she had four children before the family moved to Rome, where they still visit often. Now based in Devon and Wiltshire, she tells us, “Travel is still immensely important, but what I love most is to understand a country or place and feel part of the community.” Here she shares her favourite memories from abroad.

Australia Spellbinding scenery combined with a backpackers’ bus trip from Adelaide to Alice Springs, taking in Uluru (Ayers Rock), visits to The Twelve Apostles on The Great Ocean Road, and a stay with friends on a beautiful farm in the bush. We visited Melbourne and the Sydney Opera House, where we saw a wonderful production of The Merry Widow. We drove to Brisbane and met some aboriginal ladies and learned about their battle to get back their lands, then did a cruise over the Great Barrier Reef in a glass-bottom boat.

Cornwall

Florence

Treyarnon Bay, North Cornwall, with its wonderful Atlantic surf crashing up the beach and happy little bodies like ants in their wet suits, riding the waves. Here I have an early morning swim, one of my special delights – with no surfers there to knock me down – and the beauty of the golden sand and the feeling of connectedness that one can have with the sea.

Here we stay at my favourite hotel in the world, the Tornabuoni Beacci. We feel part of the family here. Every September a group of friends who all met at the hotel return to re-connect, all overseen by the marvellous manager and staff. Situated on Via Tornabuoni near the Ponte Santa Trinita, one walks outside and from the bridge can view the ever-changing light and surrounding Tuscan hills.

“In Florence we stay at my favourite hotel in the world, the Tornabuoni Beacci”


Album

Picture perfect Hotel Caruso Belvedereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s infinity pool overlooks the breathtaking vistas of the Amalfi Coast

Caribbean

Italy

India

It is many years since we have visited the Caribbean, but I have very happy memories of Nevis and the Montpelier Plantation. Recommended by my parents, we all love its peaceful garden away from the seashore and the family atmosphere that the owners have with their guests. I know of one couple who met at the Montpelier at Christmas. Perfect matchmaking, I feel.

We always return to Rome, the Eternal City, where I live with whichever member of my family or friends wants to share this more than extraordinary city. I defy anyone not to find something here which will remain in their hearts forever. All my children have lived and been to school in Rome from when they were small, so above all this is the place I like to be.

I have been to India once with the family when we did the Rajasthan trip from Delhi to Jaipur, The Red City and Agra for the Taj Mahal. A fascinating and inspiring holiday, but above all it was the colour and the beautiful faces of the local people that remain in my memories, and that we were all there together. That was our last real family holiday so I remember it with great affection.

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

T Mary Gostelow

SÃO PAULO

Luxury travel expert

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he 57-room Emiliano on Rua Oscar Freire, the local ‘Rodeo Drive’, is consistently TripAdvisor’s best hotel in this sprawling city of 22 million. It is a regular haunt for global CEOs who want to base themselves in the Jardins area, and a member of The Leading Hotels of the World. Owner and CEO Gustavo Filguerias believes passionately in service, and this commitment shows again and again. A trio of front-desk beauties, walking back from a nearby coffee shop, greet a guest in Rua Oscar Freire as a real friend. There is a helipad atop the 23-floor structure for speedy arrival from the airport, and immediately below is the gym, with skyline views. Two signature suites have been created on the 21st floor. Suite 1601, which runs the whole width of the narrow building, also offers great street views. Local gourmets make good use of Restaurant Emiliano, which unusually charges no corkage. The two-floorhigh restaurant has a living green wall, watered at 16.00 daily, and other design features by Brazilian Arthur Casas include a library below the counter of the main bar, and a 10-foot chocolatecoloured papier-mâché slug hanging from the lobby ceiling. WiFi works even on the outside terrace, which is ideal for people-watching. www.emiliano.com.br Hotel Unique, which looks like a ship in dry dock, is top choice for the entertainment and younger set. Because of architect Ruy Ohtake’s vision, namely a flat top and arched lower perimeter, some of the 95 bedrooms are, well, uniquely shaped. All have four-foot diameter circular porthole windows, automatically closed by a sliding wall when power is de-activated, which means you go into a black ‘cell’.

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Hotel Unique

Room 409 is close to the elevators, which are also black. Its 300 sq ft of space is divided by glass screens, one of which can be pulled up to reveal an open bathroom. The Unique, run by GM Melissa Oliveira, is justly renowned for its eighth-floor rooftop indoor-outdoor Skye restaurant and lounge, and 75-foot outdoor pool. At weekends, there are queues lining the street to get in. Fitness freaks can also enjoy the indoor wet area, with two-floor-high waterslide, and I thoroughly recommend taking a two-hour guided cycle around nearby Ibirapuera Park, with its beautiful Niemeyer buildings. www.hotelunique.com.br Grand Hyatt São Paulo is perfect for the finance, IT and pharma sectors, and for anyone wanting to be a little nearer to the airport. The 466-room hotel, under French GM Thierry Guillot, is a well-oiled machine. The 20th-floor Grand Club offers impressive views and Hyatt’s usual excellent food standards. Corner rooms, say 2021 or 2131, are comfortably chic, with a hint of 1960s retro (Don Siembieda is the designer of the 10-year-old hotel). There is a busy 24-hour gym with adjacent 45-foot indoor pool, and the spa is heavily booked with local clients. Brazilians care about their bodies, and the colourful Granado Apothecary in the hotel’s main lobby is a distinctive feature. Eau restaurant is, surprise surprise, reached via decorative pools. Inside, the 122-seat modern brasserie is packed until 23.00, when it closes. Chef Laurent Hervé spends as much time schmoozing with guests as he does in his open kitchen. Check the wine cellar: there are more than 2,500 bottles, and there’s also a monthly Wine Club dinner. www.saopaulo.grand.hyatt.com.br Emiliano


Destinations of the World News - DOTWNews - November 2012 issue  

It gets me every tIme. you’re drIvIng along a shady beachfront road in some lush tropical destination, where wooden signboards advertising h...

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