Destinations of the World News - DOTWNews - July 2013 issue

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July 2013

MODERN MANILA

Gateway to the Philippine archipelago

VOICES OF VILNIUS Where history is written on every wall

SYDNEY SNAPSHOT 24 hours in the Emerald City

TORONTO TRIO

Three stylish new hotels

CANNES UNCOVERED VIP at Cannes Film Festival

MOUNTAIN HIGH Conquering Mount Everest

French Riviera The Côte d’Azur is the essential summer travel destination

SUITE DREAMS Mondrian Los Angeles

SPEND IT

Voyages of a lifetime

MERCEDES-BENZ SL 500 Roadster
















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


Contents title

Sectiony

July 2013

On the cover 46 Summer on the Riviera

From hilltop villages to beachside towns, the Côte d’Azur is the essential summer escape

56 Vilnius uncovered

The epic history of the Lithuanian capital is written on every wall

64 Modern Manila

A sophisticated luxury scene is emerging in the Philippine capital

72 The Hideaways Club Equity investment travel clubs are making a comeback

76 Winter in Sydney

Even in the cooler months, there’s plenty to do with 24 hours in Sydney

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Harbour views from Park Hyatt Sydney

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Contents July 2013

85 In the news 26 Retrospective Audi claims the podium at Le Mans

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28 Europe St. Petersburg celebrates a luxury renaissance 30 Middle East & Africa Wolfgang Puck heads to Dubai 34 Asia & Oceania Art hotels rival museums in China 38 Americas Tuck into NYC Restaurant Week this summer 40 Debut Hot hotels, chic boutiques and exclusive new resorts 42 Interview Sheikh ‘Moe’ Al Thani conquers Mount Everest

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Inside 78 Diary Out and about this month? Don’t miss these events 80 Spend it Plan your ultimate luxury escape this month 85 Suite dreams Join the party at Mondrian Los Angeles 87 Review Get pampered at the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai spa 88 On the road The latest luxury vehicles for your shopping list 90 Ignition Behind the wheel of the Mercedes SL 500 Roadster 95 Grapevine Gossip and insider knowledge from the hotel world 96 VIP Behind the scenes at the Cannes International Film Festival 98 Connoisseur Three stylish new hotels in Toronto

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Letter from the Editor Wherever you are in the World, summer usually means travel. For some, it means jetting off to enjoy warmer climes. For others, on the contrary, it means journeying in search of cooler weather. Whichever applies to you, chances are you’re looking for a healthy dose of glamour in your prospective destination this summer, in which case you couldn’t do much better than the south of France. The beachside towns of the Côte d’Azur are infused with a sense of charm and grandeur that has attracted the world’s elite since travel first became a leisurely pursuit, rather than a means to conquer, and it’s no wonder that well-informed and discerning travellers such as yourselves return there year after year. It’s difficult to walk more than a few kilometres on the Côte d’azur without stumbling across a timeless village or picturesque town, inevitably strewn with villas owned by celebrities and business magnates, whose superyachts bob in glistening marinas along the coast. When you visit the French riviera, it helps to know a little bit about the area and its most notable residents. With this in mind, we sent Jo Foley to explore some of the region’s most prestigious locales to find out what makes this part of the world so alluring (page 46). Further along the coast, Anna Zhukov was rubbing shoulders with the A-list during the Cannes international Film Festival, where she immersed herself in the whirlwind of celebrity excess at starstudded events as well as some of the Riviera’s top fine-dining restaurants (page 96). Another fan of the Côte d’Azur is sheikh mohammed bin abdulla al thani, who usually spends a few weeks each summer cruising the coast on a chartered yacht. This indulgence is a reasonable reward, in my opinion, for his other pastime – conquering mountains. When I interviewed him in early June he had just returned triumphantly from mount everest, where he became the first Qatari to reach the summit of the world’s highest mountain (page 42). The endeavour is indicative of the increasingly diverse and extreme travel habits of the men and women who work in highpowered executive roles. The old adage “work hard, play hard” just doesn’t cut it any more. Today, it’s more a case of, “work hard, play hard, climb a mountain and then reward yourself with a few weeks of travel bliss.”

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Endless summer The clear skies and blue waters of the Côte d’Azur at Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc

With that idea in mind, we also visited sydney this month, where erstwhile resident Rebecca Haddad discovered the best way to spend 24 hours in the emerald City (page 76), and I spent a riotous weekend partying with the Hollywood in-crowd at mondrian los angeles (page 85). Our man in Europe, Andy Round, took a walk around the Lithuanian capital of vilnius to explore the history of the city, as told by half a millennia of architectural styles (page 56), and Caitlin Cheadle had a taste of what it’s like to be a member of the hideaways Club by trying out one of the equity investment travel club’s luxurious properties in London (page 72). If all that wasn’t enough to keep us busy, we also took the new mercedes-Benz sl 500 roadster out for a spin (page 90) and tried out the luxe ‘Jewels of Arabia Journey’ at JW Marriott Dubai’s recently opened saray spa (page 87). Whatever your travel plans are in the coming months, there is sure to be something in this issue to inspire you this summer.

Joe Mortimer Senior Editor joe@dotwnews.com



Contributors Rebecca Haddad

It was only a few months ago that our new deputy editor Rebecca Haddad decided to pack up her life in Sydney to chase the sun and sand in Dubai. Her thirst for adventure has taken her around Mediterranean Europe and her own country, Australia, but its the exotic Middle East that’s long held her fascination. Despite swapping life in the ‘Emerald City’ for the glitz and glam of the ‘City of Gold’, Rebecca will always have a soft spot for her hometown – discover the best ways to see it in 24 hours with her insider’s guide on page 76.

Jo Foley

Jo Foley is a freelance writer, editor and media consultant who lives in London. A former magazine editor for Woman, Options and The Observer, Jo has also worked on newspapers including The Times and the Daily Mirror. Despite a busy travel schedule, Jo always jumps at the chance to revisit the Côte d’Azur, where, she says, you are never far from a quaint hilltop village, an opulent villa, or one of the Riviera’s magnificent beachside towns. If all that fails, there is always the region’s fine-dining restaurants and luxurious hotels to visit. Read her story on page 46.

July 2013, Issue 85 Publisher Anna Zhukov anna@dotwnews.com Senior Editor Joe Mortimer joe@dotwnews.com Senior Deputy Editor Caitlin Cheadle caitlin@dotwnews.com Deputy Editor Rebecca Haddad rebecca@dotwnews.com Deputy Online Editor Simon Harrington simon@dotwnews.com Editor-at-Large Andy Round andy@dotwnews.com Contributing Editor Mary Gostelow Art Director Kris Karacinski kris@dotwnews.com Multimedia Graphics Manager Haitham El Shazly haitham@wnnlimited.com United Kingdom Sales Representative David Hammond david@dotwnews.com Circulation department circulate@dotwnews.com Cover image The French Riviera - Getty Images

Andy Round

Andy Round works between the Middle East and Europe, and somehow finds the time to look after three children as well as writing for several international publications. Andy has worked as the editor of a daily newspaper in Malta, managed a portfolio of magazines in Dubai and got lost looking for gorillas in Rwanda. He is currently travelling around Europe exploring its creative hubs, fashion capitals and architectural gems, including the Lithuanian capital city of Vilnius, where history is written on every wall. Read the story on page 56.

Rowena Marella-Daw

Rowena Marella-Daw is a UK-based freelance writer specialising in luxury and honeymoon travel. After a stint working for a leading UK wedding magazine, she now writes for high-end lifestyle and travel publications. Her most memorable travel experience was a 10-hour train journey from Budapest through the Carpathian Mountains to meet a genuine Transylvanian count. A native of Manila, Rowena has also lived in New York and Los Angeles. She recently revisited her hometown to uncover the lesser-known, high-end side of the Philippine capital (page 64).

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International Commercial Representations Destinations of the World News’ network of international advertising sales and editorial representatives are based in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, India, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Malaysia, Pakistan, Russia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States of America. Destinations of the World News is published monthly by WNN Limited and distributed globally to the world’s premier airport lounges, our subscriber network and a select number of five-star hotels in the UAE. The title Destinations of the World News is a registered trademark and the publisher reserves all rights. All material in Destinations of the World News is compiled from sources believed to be reliable and articles reflect the personal opinion of the author and not necessarily that of the publisher. Destinations of the World News is not responsible for omissions or errors that result from misrepresentation of information to the publisher. Advertisers assume all liability for their advertising content. All rights of the owner and the producer of this conceptual development and artwork design are reserved. Neither this publication nor any part of it may be imitated, reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without prior permission of WNN Limited. Principal Offices WNN Limited, Reuters Building 1, Office 106, Dubai Media City, PO Box 500661, Dubai, UAE Tel +971 4 3910680 Fax +971 4 3910688 WNN limited, 31 Archbishop Kyprianou Street, 3036, PO Box 51234, zip 3503, Limassol, Cyprus To subscribe to Destinations of the World News at an annual rate of $99 visit the website at www.dotwnews.com and hit SUBSCRIBE. Images used in Destinations of the World News are provided by Gallo Images/Getty Images/Corbis/iStockphoto/ Photolibrary unless stated otherwise. DOTW News is printed by J G Cassoulides & Sons Ltd, Nicosia, Cyprus and Al Nisr Publishing, Dubai, UAE

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retrospective

U

nder the gleam of green lights, the Audi R18 e-tron quattro of driving team André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler and Benoît Tréluyer tears up the tarmac during the qualifying rounds of the Le Mans 24 Hour Race at the Circuit de la Sarthe, Le Mans in north-western France last month. But it was the fellow Audi team of Loïc Duval, Tom Kristensen and Allan McNish who went on to win the final race – Audi’s fourth straight victory and 12th title overall. The race, which celebrated its 90th anniversary this year, is an extreme test of endurance as teams race to complete the most laps in 24 hours to claim victory. Due to the nature of the race, it’s also considered one of the most dangerous; this year’s event was marred by the death of Allan Simonsen of Denmark, whose Aston Martin spun out at high speed just 10 minutes into the race. He was the first driver to die in the race since 1997. www.24h-lemans.com



07.13 NewS

New arrivals in St. Petersburg It’s a year of renewal in St. Petersburg, where restoration has brought about a new era for some of the city’s most treasured buildings. Adjacent to St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Four Seasons Hotel Lion Palace is set to reopen this month after a painstaking restoration. Immortalised in Alexander Pushkin’s 1833 poem, The Bronze Horseman, the 200-year-old building retains architect Auguste de Montferrand’s original design, including two stone lions that guard the entrance. The 151 rooms and 26 suites have been restored with period furnishings.

Grand Hotel Europe, part of Orient-Express, has unveiled a newly restored façade and main entrance (above) following a major renovation, in which artists used old photos and architectural plans to restore it to its original grandeur. Old paintwork was removed and replaced, marble surfaces were cleaned, and the wooden doors of the main entrance were completely restored and preserved. The completion of the façade marks the end of a renovation that also saw the addition of 10 unique suites in 2009, all themed after famous guests.

Meanwhile, Rocco Forte’s Hotel Astoria celebrates its 100th anniversary with the completion of its renovation, which includes 50 new junior suites and a new signature Czar’s Suite. Designed by Sir Rocco’s sister Olga Polizzi, the suite features antique items including candelabra returned to the hotel from Putin’s Konstantinovsky Palace, and splendid views of St. Isaac’s Square. St. Petersburg’s State Hermitage Museum is also beginning a new chapter: with designs inspired by the Winter Palace, the State Hermitage Hotel (left) will be dripping with opulence when it opens this summer, with 126 rooms and suites. Originally built in the year 1830 for the family of a wealthy merchant, the building became the St. Petersburg Railway Club in 1912, before being converted into the House of Culture, a centre of performing arts that regularly hosted performances from singers including Vladimir Vysotsky.


Europe

News

mARY sAYs...

The latest in luxury travel

Montenegro: jewel of the Adriatic sinCe Aman Sveti Stefan opened in Montenegro in 2011, the Balkan country, perched on the shores of the Adriatic, has undergone a dramatic transformation. The Porto Montenegro marina development is attracting more and more wealthy yacht and property owners to the area, and the opening of the super chic Purobeach club last year put the resort on the map among Europe’s young, affluent elite.

The opening of the five-star Regent Porto Montenegro boutique hotel and residences next summer will bring a splash of international hospitality to the project, as well as lucrative investment opportunities. The five-storey palazzo will feature 35 hotel rooms, 45 suites (above) and 49 serviced residences. Thirty minutes’ drive south, Aman Sveti Stefan has unveiled the final stages of its renovation, including

its Aman Spa, set back from the beach in a grove of pine trees, with treatments in six individual spa cottages, and a second swimming pool. Built in a restored 15th century fortified village on the tiny islet of Sveti Stefan, the resort now features 50 rooms and suites, spread across the restored cottages of the island and Villa Miločer, an exclusive retreat just across the water on the mainland.

Eyeglasses are not only in vogue but also an investment. Agnelli heir Lapo elkann plans to float his company Italia Independent, which produces carbon glasses, on the Milan Stock Exchange. Other aficionados swear by tortoiseshell frames made by Parisbased Franck Bonnet. Each pair takes three months to complete. www.italiaindependent.com; www.maisonbonnet.com Shoe-lovers in the know may go for John Lobb in London, but they also know Double monk in Melbourne. Owned by Christopher Schaerf and his brother Nicholas, the shop’s bestseller is The Cavendish, a classic tassel loafer. www.doublemonk.com Daugavpils is the place to go for a taste of Latvian art and culture. Artist mark Rothko was born Marcus Yakovlevich Rothkowitz in Daugavpils and the mark Rothko Art Center was opened earlier this year in his honour. Still in Latvia, the six-room Villa Ksenija is owned by rope producers Yuri and Tatiana Dovoretsky. The villa is named after the couple’s daughter. www.rothkocenter.com; www.villaks.lv The world’s trendiest bouillabaisse can be found in its hometown of Marseille. Chef Lionel Lévy’s bestselling fish stew at Les Fenêtres, at InterContinental Marseille – Hotel Dieu, is a twist on the classic. A leaning glass is half-filled with lemon-coloured fish puree and topped up with delicious brown fish broth. www.marseille.intercontinental.com

Rome never fails to surprise and delight, constantly reinventing itself without losing the grandeur and historical charm for which it is famous. The latest addition to its inventory of outstanding hotel suites is the Roman Penthouse at the Regina Hotel Baglioni. The 560 sq m suite was designed by Milanese architects Rebosio+Spagnulo, and features Murano glass chandeliers by Venetian glass masters Vistosi and LU Murano and a 290 sq m terrace with views across the Eternal City. Guests have access to a dedicated in-room concierge, plus a private chef and barman for a three-hour period daily, as well as a limosine service. www.baglionihotels.com

In Spain, enjoy Yamuna body-rolling week from July 12-15, at SHA Wellness Clinic, 40 minutes from Alicante airport. Yamuna Zake will be personally hosting private and group classes in the ‘Yamuna method’, a self-massage technique she invented. Small soft balls are used, for instance, to give relief to back pains or to loosen leg muscles. www.shawellnessclinic.com; www.yamunabodyrolling.com mARY GosTeLow

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News

Middle East & Africa

Desert island escape Like your wilderness safari with a slice of beachside luxury on the side? Anantara has just opened its second resort on the UAE’s Sir Bani Yas Island, a protected conservation area just off the coast of Abu Dhabi’s western Al Gharbia region that’s home to wildlife including Arabian gazelle, oryx and cheetahs. Anantara Al Yamm Villas includes comprising 21 onebedroom standard villas (right), and seven one- and two-bedroom villas, each with private plunge pools. All villas look out to the beach or the lagoon, which is home to mangrove forests and resident flamingos. The resort will complement the existing facilities at Desert Islands Resort & Spa, together providing the only resort facilities on the island. Al Yamm guests will be introduced to the flora and fauna of the island during a briefing from their own wildlife guide when they check into their villa, and can participate in any of the activities available at the other Anantara property including wildlife drives, kayaking, scuba diving and horseriding. www.al-yamm.anantara.com

Spinning decks at Six Senses Zighy Bay Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman will be hosting a new luxury retreat for aspiring DJs. From September 20-27, and again from December 6-13, guests can book a four- or six-night retreat, learning how to spin the decks courtesy of DJs Matty Wainwright, Brendon P and Stephen Day. Those who complete the retreat successfully will then have the chance to show off their new skills with a solo spin session during the limited-entry Farthest From Earth event on Friday September 27 at the resort’s mountain-top restaurant, Sense on the Edge (right). www.sixsenses.com

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News Middle title East & Africa Sectiony

Paramount attraction

The new Paramount Pictures movie-themed hotel, set to open in Dubai in 2016, will be the first property from Paramount Hotels & Resorts, and it’s setting the bar high. The hotel will not only house a high-end luxury theatre with lounge seating, but also in-room entertainment including home-theatre surround systems in all guestrooms, including a wide selection of, you guessed it, Paramount films. www.paramounthotelsandresorts.com

Delicacy in Doha Four Seasons Hotel Doha is now serving the deadly Japanese delicacy fugu at its pan-Asian restaurant Nusantao: Sea Kitchens. Fugu (Japanese puffer fish) is revered for its sweet taste and unique texture, however much of the fish, including its eyes, blood, liver and intestines, contains a poison called tetrodotoxin that is 1,200 times more potent than cyanide. According to Japanese law, the fish can only be exported once it has been cleaned and stripped of its toxic parts, arriving in Doha inside specially packed, sealed containers. It can then only be prepared by a chef who has undergone years of intense training and exams as per stringent Japanese laws. Nusantao: Sea Kitchens is now serving a variety of fugu dishes including Tora Fugu Sashimi, Tora Fugu Nigiri and Tora Fugu Prepared Three Ways, under the guidance of Nusantao’s certified chef, Toshikazu Kato. www.fourseasons.com

Dubai makes the CUT

With locations in Beverly Hills, Las Vegas, Singapore, and London, Dubai will be next destination for acclaimed chef Wolfgang Puck’s award-winning steakhouse CUT, which is set to open at The Address Downtown Dubai (left). The menu is based on Puck’s signature contemporary interpretations of American classics, with dishes featuring prime dry- and wetaged beef from the US and Australia, and Japanese Kobe beef. www.theaddress.com 32

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BEAC H H OU S E COL L EC T I ON CRAFTING T H E E X T R AO R D I NA RY


News

Asia & & Oceania Oceania

Hotels moonlight as galleries in China

“As the artcollecting trend gains momentum, hotels are becoming extensions of some of China’s major museums” 34

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Mandarin Oriental Pudong

Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel

HOTELS DOUBLING as gallery spaces isn’t a new concept, but it is a trend that is taking off across China, with hotels becoming caretakers of some very pricey collections. The Hotel Éclat (above) in Beijing has more in common with The Louvre than just its glass pyramid exterior. It is also home to an extensive collection of art from names such as Dali (the largest private Dali collection in China) and Warhol. With a dozen or so of these artworks in the lobby, the space is more like a minimuseum than a typical hotel lobby. The new Mandarin Oriental Pudong in Shanghai features an art collection curated by Art Front Gallery, comprising some 4,000 original works throughout its corridors and suites. Visitors can also come to the lobby to admire a small selection of sculptures and the mammoth mosaic version of Miao Tong’s Sound of Wind series, made of 71,459 tiles, which dominates the back wall and was created especially for the hotel. As the art-collecting trend gains momentum, hotels are actually becoming extensions of some of China’s major museums. The Regent Beijing’s owner, Madam Chan Lai Wa, is curator of the nearby China Red Sandalwood Museum. Because of this connection, the hotel features some impressive examples of rare ornate sandalwood furnishings and the larger museum is free of charge for guests. Similarly, Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel in Shanghai – and its art collection – is part of the Himalayas Centre, a cultural hub featuring a performance space and more art. The hotel even offers visitors and guests an audio-guided tour of the art on display around the lobby.



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Photo: Ben Crawford

Snow season arrives in NZ Ski season has well and truly kicked off in New Zealand, with one of its most popular ski parks at the famous Remarkables mountain range (left) opening for another season. With a wide variety of terrain and runs for all abilities, plus some of the best back country and black diamond runs, it is no wonder this area, just an hour from Queenstown on NZ’s South Island, is one of the most popular among powder hounds near and far. Want to add a little thrill to your skiing? Try heliskiing, where a helicopter carries you to isolated trails so you can enjoy skiing the slopes minus the crowds. www.newzealand.com

Foodies flock to Hong Kong

Hokkaido Sea Urchin from Amber

Free WiFi in Taiwan

Photo: Getty Images

Hong Kong is holding steady as a top foodie destination, with two restaurants making it into San Pellegrino’s ‘The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List’ in 2013. At number 36, Amber, in The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, is a two-Michelin-starred restaurant that dishes up classic French meals under the eye of Dutchborn chef Richard Ekkebus. Not far behind at number 39 is 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana, which has earnt three Michelin stars and a place on the list in just three years since its opening. Three other Hong Kong eateries made it into the top 100: Caprice, Lung King Heen and Bo Innovation. www.theworlds50best.com

Taiwan recently became the first destination in the world to make free public WiFi available to tourists on such a large scale. A total of 4,400 “iTaiwan” hotspots have been rolled out at major attractions, transport hubs and government offices across the island. Upon landing in Taiwan, tourists can register for internet access by visiting any tourism bureau office or visitor centre – all they need is their passport to sign up. itaiwan.gov.tw



News

Americas

Third rebrand for Vegas hotel

Ravella at Lake Las Vegas reopened this month as Hilton Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa. It’s the third rebranding of the resort in 10 years, after Ravella took over from Ritz-Carlton in 2011. The resort is a secluded escape 32 kilometres from the neon lights of the Las Vegas Strip, in Henderson, Nevada. With a private marina, and rooms and suites boasting views to the lake and desert mountains beyond, you’ll find it easy to forget where you are. That said, hints of Sin City are not too hard to find; Casino Monte Lago is nearby, while Cappella Di Amore – the only over-water chapel in Vegas – is located on the property. www3.hilton.com

Trump arrives in Vancouver After just recently signing his name to a mega resort in Dubai, American business magnate Donald Trump continues to grow his portfolio of hotels and resorts, officially adding Vancouver to his list of forthcoming properties. Trump International Hotel & Tower Vancouver is scheduled to open in summer 2016, and will be a world-class address with a 147-room hotel and 218 luxury residences. Housed in a US $360-million twisted tower designed by the late Canadian architect Arthur Erickson, the hotel will also be home to Vancouver’s first pool bar nightclub. www.trumphotelcollection.com


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Le Méridien to debut in New Orleans Five-sTar luxury will combine with some ol’ fashioned Southern hospitality next year, with Le Méridien making its debut in New Orleans. The current W hotel, located near the city’s famous French Quarter, was recently bought by Chesapeake Lodging Trust, which will embark on a US $29 million renovation. Le Méridien New Orleans will feature 410 guestrooms, a rooftop pool and 10,000 square feet of upgraded meeting facilities, all rebranded to reflect Le Méridien’s signature style. The hotel is expected to open in the first quarter of next year.

Photo: David Mehr / nycandco

Taste of NYC From July 22, 300 of New York’s restaurants will open their doors for lunch and dinner deals for the city’s NYC Restaurant Week, including Dos Caminos (pictured). Foodies will be especially pleased to learn that the dates have been extended until August 16, giving them almost a full month to sample the diverse cuisine of the city that never sleeps. Beginning in 1992, the event has increased in popularity each season so, reservations are essential. Be sure to book your tables when the hotly anticipated final list of participating restaurants is revealed July 8. www.nycgo.com

Tour California’s vineyards with JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts JW Marriott Hotels & Resorts has introduced a new service for its guests to savour the aromas and tastes of their Californian holiday long after they’ve gone home. The JWM Wine Club has been established to introduce guests to the most iconic labels of California’s wine country, such as Beringer, St Clement and Chateau St John. A sample serving of four wines will be shipped to the guest’s preferred US address each quarter at a cost of US $150 per shipment. Members will then select their two favourites and receive a full-size bottle. The service doesn’t stop there, however – included in each shipment are wine tasting notes from a JW Marriott wine ambassador, as well as recipes to pair with the wines to fully enjoy their flavours. www.jwmwineclub.com

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DEBUT Hot hotels | chic boutiques | exclusive resorts

© Destinations of the World News – The World Wide Web


The London-born hotel group makes its mark on the Windy City this month. Housed in a tower designed by German-American architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, the hotel features 316 rooms and suites, most boasting views over Lake Michigan. Expect all the Langham touches, including a 22,000-square-foot Chuan Spa and the Langham Club with its library and dining options. While the night lights beckon, it’s worth booking a table at the hotel’s restaurant, Travelle – head chef Tim Graham is a local culinary celebrity, having manned the kitchens at some of the city’s top eateries including Tru and Paris Club. www.chicago.langhamhotels.com

Chicago, USA

Maui, Hawaii, USA

The new Andaz Maui at Wailea proves that Hawaii isn’t all about kitsch, Polynesian-themed resorts. Accommodation at Andaz’s first ever resort ranges from guestrooms and suites to seven villas with open-plan designs and private verandahs to watch Hawaiian sunsets in peace. Amenities and on-site entertainment options include two restaurants (book in for an authentic Japanese meal at Morimoto Maui, headed by Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto) as well as a retail market, spa and several infinity pools. You’re also a stone’s throw from a championship golf course and Mokapu Beach. Bliss. maui.andaz.hyatt.com

The Langham Chicago

Andaz Maui at Wailea Balancing old-world opulence with modern-day luxury is this second Shangri-La in Europe, in the shopping hub of Istanbul. All 186 guestrooms and suites have been decorated in a warm palette of earthy tones accentuated with bold pops of red or chic hints of black, reminiscent of the colours of the famous spice markets dotted across the city. Total relaxation is at the forefront of your stay – from the marble-clad bathrooms with Bvlgari products to the hammam treatments on offer at the spa, this is the place to unwind. For the full live-like-a-king experience, arrange a limousine transfer from the airport. www.shangri-la.com

Istanbul, Turkey

Shangri-La Bosphorus

Dubai’s buzzing Downtown district welcomes the first Oberoi hotel to the UAE this month. Situated in The Oberoi Centre complex close to Dubai Mall and the towering Burj Khalifa, this new hotel is a perfect fit for its surroundings. All rooms and suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows, media hubs to connect audio and video, as well as a personalised butler service. Elsewhere in the hotel, six bars and restaurants, as well as a 24-hour spa and fitness centre, await. In Dubai on business? Then make use of the meeting rooms on the 26th floor, or the business centre located in the lower lobby. www.oberoihotels.com

Dubai, UAE

The Oberoi Dubai

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July 2013

The opening of this hotel comes with a few ‘firsts’. For one, it’s the first Mandarin Oriental in the city, located along the Huangpu River in Shanghai’s financial district. For another, it’s the first hotel in Shanghai to offer al fresco dining at all six of its restaurants and bars. Firsts aside, it features all the standard luxuries of Mandarin Oriental hotels, including a luxe spa, spacious rooms and suites (362 in total) and innovative dining options. Book into the Presidential Suite on the 25th floor and enjoy 788 square metres of living space complete with a private wine cellar, meeting room, dining room and butler service. www.mandarinoriental.com

Shanghai, China

Mandarin Oriental Pudong

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Interview

On top of the world At the age of 30, Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Thani became the first Qatari to summit Mount Everest, with his climbing team, Arabs with Altitude Interview: Joe Mortimer

F

ive years, ago, as Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulla Al Thani floated down a river in Nepal on a rafting expedition, an idea was born. The shadow of Mount Everest formed an indelible image on his mind, and he knew he had to climb it. Five years later, he became the first Qatari to summit the world’s highest mountain, when he and his climbing team, Arabs with Altitude, reached the top of the peak on May 22, a month before his 31st birthday. Also in the team were his friends, Masoud Mohammad and Raed Zidan, as well as 27-year-old Raha Moharrak, the first Saudi Arabian woman to climb the mountain. Together they were raising funds for the charity Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), a Qatarbased charity that supports educational projects in Asia.

When he is not climbing mountains, Sheikh Mohammed is the director general of Sharjah Statistics Centre, the managing director of Sharjah Golf & Shooting Club, the founder of Musafir.com and a member of the Board of Directors at Sharjah-based Air Arabia. We caught up with him 10 days after he reached the summit, to find out what drove him to the highest point on the planet. Tell us about your recent adventure — how did it all begin? My recent adventure was to the highest point on Earth – Mount Everest. It started when I went river rafting in Nepal five years ago. We had a guide who told us everything about Nepal – he told us about the culture, the community and the political instability. It was just after the overthrow of the King, so he

was talking a lot about that. Then he started talking about Everest. Every time he talked about Everest, I wanted to know more about it. I told him I wanted to climb that mountain and he told me, “You can’t climb it – you are from the desert. What do you know about climbing mountains?” Did you see that guide again? Yes, I invited him to our hotel after we came down from the mountain. We were in a press conference in Kathmandu and he was sitting there. I said, “Five years ago there was a guy who told me I can’t climb Everest and this guy is sitting in the room today. I just wanted to tell him that I climbed it and I want to thank him for telling me I couldn’t do it.” Then I added, “Please, don’t tell me I can’t do anything else!”


Interview

What was going through your head when you reached the summit? For some reason I got very energised at the end. I was standing there and I was really happy. Usually I tear up or cry, but for some reason on this summit I didn’t – I was just thanking God. I was standing there looking at the prayer flags on the summit and I couldn’t believe that I was there. It was like winning my gold medal and standing on the podium. You can’t explain the feeling. It’s pride, it’s joy, it’s happiness – it is everything at the same time. What was the worst moment? The scariest moment was when we experienced an icefall right next to us. I was crossing a ladder over a ravine. As I was on my last step the whole mountain next to us collapsed. A whole iceberg three floors high just turned into snow. We started running but we were roped up and there was another ladder in front of us. I thought that everything was going to go. Luckily it stopped just next to us. That was terrifying. Were there other Arab climbing teams on the mountain? We were the first ever Arab team. We were really famous on the mountain; everyone knew us. There was also a Moroccan guy who was the first Moroccan to summit.

What luxury item did you take with you to the summit? A flag. The flag was the most important thing on the mountain for me. When I got back I realised I had forgotten it at Camp 2 with my stuff. We left some of our stuff for the sherpas to bring down and I had left it up there. Every day I was calling them and they said “Don’t worry, you will get your bags,” and I said, “I don’t care about the bags, I just want the flag.” Many senior executives manage a busy work life and still find the time and energy to do things like this — how and why do you do it? For me it is very peaceful, and I’m sure it is the same for others as well. When I climb, I am only focusing on one thing and that is reaching the top. You forget about everything else. You never have a clearer mind than when you summit a mountain. All you have been thinking about up until that point is the mountain, and then the mountain goes away, so your mind is empty. You think of your family a lot. You prioritise your life and when you come back home, you know exactly what is important to you. But that fades off and after four or five months, I go back to my old habits and I think to myself, “let’s do another mountain”. So I go and do another mountain.

After every mountain I have created a new business or made big changes. I set challenges for myself in advance to work towards reaching them. If there is no challenge then it is always “one day...” Nothing has happened yet this time, so watch out. How do you fit training into your busy work schedule? I make the training something I do as part of my life, rather than something extra. It is something I wake up and do, like brushing my teeth. My training time is my training time; I don’t put off training for meetings, I put off meetings for training. I learnt this from a good friend of mine, [Indian cricketer] Sachin Tendulkar, my partner in Musafir.com. I had a meeting with him once. It was a very important business meeting but when it got to 5pm, he looked at his watch and said, “Sorry, but I have to go train,” and he stood up and left. Tell us a bit more about the charity? I am a brand ambassador for Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), which is a non-profit charity based in Qatar – part of the Qatar Foundation. ROTA believes that education is a right and not a privilege for each individual in the world. They build schools in distressed areas all over Asia. My project was to raise a million dollars as part

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of our climb, and that is ongoing. That money will go to a fund and the money generated from that fund will go towards a scholarship programme. It will help thousands of kids from Nepal to get out of the slums and do something with their lives. For me, personally, I know that I can give something back. They gave me Everest and I will give them something back in return. It makes me really proud to do that – not just climb their mountain and walk away. When you are not climbing, what kind of holidays do you take? I enjoy the beach a lot so I tend to go on beach holidays such as the South of France. We usually charter a yacht every summer. My second option would be Los Angeles. There’s lots to do, especially for the kids. And there is lots of shopping to do. It is very suitable for the whole family and Emirates made it very convenient for us to go there direct. The Mondrian is my favourite hotel in LA. It is one of Philippe Starck’s first hotels in the city.

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I don’t consider London travel, because I spend a good two months there every year. I have a house there so it is like home. In the summer it is basically an Arab town! What are your travel indulgences? The Black AmEx card. It is extremely useful, especially in the States. It gets you things that are usually impossible to get, like reservations. Once, there was this restaurant we wanted to go to. My brother told me I had to book it three weeks in advance and we were a group of 15 people. I called AmEx and said I want a booking at this restaurant and I need it today. Fifteen minutes later they called back and told me they had booked a private table. Whatever you need in any part of the world: if it is available and cash is not a problem, they will get it for you. What did you take away from the Mount Everest experience? I already miss the mountain in some ways.

I don’t miss the hard work but I miss the life there. The simple life. There is nothing you worry about – you are on the mountain and the only thing you worry about is whether it is going to be a good day to climb or not. The world is full of politics and wars and everything else that fills your head. Over there, it is just you and the mountain. Some people tell me I am a dreamer. Well, yes I am, but I also try to make my dreams come true. I don’t wait for them to happen on their own, I work to make them happen. Everest didn’t come easy – I worked really hard to climb this mountain. My dreams were big, but at the same time I worked really hard reaching them. So, my message to others is: have dreams, work towards reaching them and then realise them. There is nothing in the world that feels better than that. n To find out more about Reach Out To Asia visit the website at www.reachouttoasia.org



CÔTE D’AZUR

WHERE THE GLITTER NEVER LOSES ITS SPARKLE Set like a string of jewels along the edge of the Mediterranean, the Côte d’Azur has lured the rich and famous to its sparkling shores for almost two centuries WORDS: Jo Foley


Côte d’Azur Luxe

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Photos: Getty Images

The medieval village of Eze

Saint-Paul-de-Vence


Côte d’Azur Luxe

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat

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ashions and fashionable places come and go, but there is one part of the world that’s never really out of vogue. It’s that stretch of coastline in the southeast of France that starts at Hyères and runs to the Italian border. To some, particularly the British, it is known as the French Riviera, but to most it is known as the Côte d’Azur. Even though it is viewed as the beach, yacht and sunbathing haven of the wildly rich, the seriously famous and the notoriously infamous, the Côte d’Azur is much more than just a stretch of coastline. The coast goes inland to some of the prettiest, most lauded and most desirable small towns, hamlets and villages inGrasse the world.

Veer off the coastal road for 10 minutes or so and you will be enchanted by the villas and villages hidden among trees, behind creamy stone walls or set among exquisite gardens. And while it has attracted visitors, pirates, invaders and even popes (the alternative to the Vatican was established in Aix-en-Provence in the 14th century), it was mostly populated by fishermen and olive growers until the early 19th century, when a passing English aristocrat, Baron Henry Brougham, was forced to stop and stay during a journey to Italy. Brougham liked the area so much that he built a villa near Cannes and suddenly, a whole new playground for Europe’s elite was born.

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F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote much of The Great Gatsby in Saint-Raphaël

And how appropriate that in this year of The Great Gatsby, the Côte d’Azur is as rampantly fashionable as ever: it was at a rented villa in Saint-Raphaël that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote most of his iconic novel. Only a few weeks ago, one of the most lavish weddings in recent history was celebrated at one of the most lavish hotels in Europe, when Tamara Ecclestone, daughter of Formula One supremo, Bernie, tied the knot at the GrandHôtel du Cap-Ferrat. At a reported cost of GBR 12 million (US $18.5 million), it included three days of partying, music from Lionel Richie and Elton John and 150 of Tamara’s closest friends, not to mention some of the hedonistic behaviour for which the area is famous.

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Should you wish to visit this ultra-luxe establishment during your next sojourn in the area, a sun lounger for non-guests will set you back EUR 90 ($118) for the day, but then you could rub shoulders with any of the Monaco royals, Tom Cruise or even Madonna, who has practised her asanas on the pier. The area is well known for weddings. Some have been small with just a few people in tow, like that of Mick and Bianca Jagger, who married in 1971 just on the outskirts of Saint-Tropez. Others have been lavish like the Ecclestone affair, and the much-awaited, but very private wedding allegedly being planned in the hills above Mougins at Château Miraval – the French home of Brad and Angelina.

“Monaco has attracted visitors and residents not just because of its climate and glitz, but also because of its beneficial tax arrangements”


Discover the romance of Imperial Russia with Orient-Express at St Petersburg most luxurious hotel since 1875.


Photo: Getty Images

Monaco Marina during this year’s Monaco Grand Prix

There will be no worries about outsiders gaining access – the drive is five kilometres long and the château is surrounded by a moat. Quite the opposite was true at the villa to which the Jaggers retired to after their nuptials, Villa Nellcôte near Villefranche-sur-Mer, which was rented by Keith Richards at the time. One of the Rolling Stones’ greatest albums, Exile on Main St, began life here in the 1970s, and it was later the subject of a 2010 documentary about the band. Apparently anyone could get into the house, even though it was hidden away behind a forest of trees, and many did – some making off with some of the band’s instruments, others arriving with gifts for the villa’s inhabitants.

In the end, the French police had to intervene and the album was finally finished in Los Angeles. Three years ago the villa was bought by a Russian oligarch for the small sum of EUR 100 million ($131 million). Needless to say, visitors are no longer welcome. Now, the Russians are some of the biggest spenders in the region, but they are by no means new arrivals: Russians have been coming to this tiny hotspot since the middle of the 19th century, when Czar Alexander II was a regular visitor. And, while they may be shy about their properties on land, it is not the same in the waters along the Côte d’Azur, where some of the largest yachts are owned by Russians.

Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea Football Club, has five of the most lavish, including the Eclipse, which is reported to have cost over a billion dollars and is the secondlargest private yacht in the world. Its amenities include two helicopter pads, and it can be seen from most points along the coast with one or two of its sisters. The Côte d’Azur has long been synonymous with yachts. Anybody and everybody who could afford a vessel sailed along this coast, from King Edward VII to Paul Allen (the co-founder of Microsoft), in his megayacht Octopus, to fashion and retail mogul, Sir Philip Green with his yacht Lionheart.


Côte d’Azur Luxe

DINEWITHTHESTARS

Joël Robuchon

La Colombe d’Or Saint-Paul-de-Vence From its earliest days as a café-bar where locals would come to drink and dance, through the 1940s and ’50s, when it was a popular hangout for artists and thinkers, to its current incarnation as one of the most famous restaurants in the world, La Colombe d’Or has always been associated with the arts. Today, it is home to an impressive art collection acquired over the decades – some donated by artist friends, other pieces from artists such as Picasso, given as payment for board or meals. Serving traditional Provençal food, locals and visitors flock to its large outdoor terrace in the summer months and the interior dining room in the winter. www.la-colombe-dor.com

Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild

Joël Robuchon Hôtel Metropole, Monte-Carlo French masterchef Joël Robuchon’s restaurant at Hotel Metropole in Monte-Carlo serves Mediterranean-style cuisine prepared in an open-plan kitchen, creating an intimate dining experience. Try the 10-course Joël Robuchon Experience taster menu for EUR 199 ($261) per person or the chef’s table experience with head chef Christophe Cussac, where you and your guests enjoy a culinary spectacle as Christophe and his team prepare your fourcourse meal, accompanied by wines selected by resident sommelier Frédéric Woelfflé, for EUR 150 ($197) per person. www.metropole.com

Photo: Getty Images

La Chèvre d’Or Château de la Chèvre d’Or, Eze The wide terrace at La Chèvre d’Or in the medieval village of Eze has one of the finest views in the Côte d’Azur, and it is worth the visit for that reason alone. But as well as the vista, the two Michelin-starred restaurant, now run by head chef Ronan Kervarrec, also delivers quality seasonal gourmet cuisine, and has done since the restaurant opened in 1954. Choose from a six- or eight-course tasting menu or pick from the à la carte selections. Make sure you leave room to taste the caviar, which is made and packaged in the restaurant and can be sampled with any number of dishes from the menu. www.chevredor.com

Each European summer, lifestyle magazines are full of glamorous pictures of Kate Moss, Naomi Campbell, Sharon Stone and the like day-tripping on a yacht somewhere between Cap d’Antibes and Monte-Carlo. Even those who don’t wish to own one of these money-guzzlers are definitely prepared to rent them. In fact, the Côte d’Azur sees 88 percent of the world’s superyachts sail through its harbours each year. If you don’t have one of your own, Steven Spielberg can lend you his for a week or so, as could Roberto Cavalli. Indeed, Tamara Ecclestone’s honeymoon yacht, the Silver Angel costs a mere GBP 300,000 ($463,000) a week to rent.

It is well known that a holiday here doesn’t come cheap, which is why the Côte d’Azur has seduced several notable bankers over the decades. John Pierpont Morgan was one of its earliest aficionados, buying art by Fragonard in Grasse and gambling in Monte-Carlo. He was followed by the Rothschilds, who established one of the most spectacular villas above CapFerrat. Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild now plays host to some of the smartest parties in France and is home to possibly the most beautiful gardens in the Côte d’Azur. The area may now be colonised by the seriously rich but it has always attracted the creatives, the penniless and the wannabes.

Consider La Colombe d’Or in Saint-Paul-deVence, possibly the most famous restaurant in the area. It was a small local restaurant in a smallish local village until some artists staying nearby began to barter some of their pictures for meals, since they didn’t have any money to buy food. Now, the restaurant’s walls are festooned with Picassos, Matisses, Bonnard and Legers, which in turn, have brought anyone of note to visit during the last century. Before dining, it’s worth exploring the town, which is an arts centre in its own right. Visit the Fondation Maeght, which has an extraordinary sculpture garden with a labyrinth created by Miró, as well as a Giacometti courtyard.

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Luxe

French Riveira

CannesheisT

Photo: getty images

It is a rule of the wild that where those with plenty gather, those with little also congregate, and the Côte d’Azur is no exception. In May, thieves infiltrated a lavish party thrown by Swiss jewellery company de Grisogono at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc (below) during the Cannes International Film Festival and made off with a necklace worth EUR 2 million ($2.6 million). While guests including Sharon Stone and Ornella Muti sipped bubbly, the thieves made it past local police and 80 security guards to escape with the necklace, which was part of de Grisogono’s 20th anniversary collection. This event was the latest in a series of high-profile thefts that rocked Cannes during the festival. In a separate incident, thieves stole a wall safe containing more than $1.4 million worth of Chopard jewellery from the room of an employee of the Swiss company, which also makes the coveted Palme d’Or award. China Film Group boss Zhang Qiang was also robbed during the event, when thieves apparently broke into his rented apartment and made off with all of his luggage.

Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc

While you’re in the area, you must also visit Matisse’s Chapelle du Rosaire, which he considered his masterpiece. According to art connoisseurs, it is the clarity of the light in this area that attracted artists here in the first place. It brought Van Gogh to Arles and eventually to the asylum in SaintRémy, a time that also coincided with one of his most productive periods: while staying in Saint-Rémy, the artist produced more than 150 paintings. Rubens and Cézanne, on the other hand, preferred the environs and light of Aix. Saint-Rémy is a beautiful town and attracts thousands of visitors in high season, but it is even more attractive in the spring and early autumn. Among its other claims to fame, Saint-Rémy is where Nostradamus was born and was home to Princess Caroline of Monaco for many years. And then, of course, there’s Monaco itself, this year celebrating its 150th anniversary. The city-state is home to the most expensive real estate in the region, the biggest yachts, the most reckless gamblers (remember ‘The Man

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Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo’?), the most glamorous race on the Formula 1 calendar and the prettiest royal palace – a pale pink confection overlooking the principality. Monte-Carlo perhaps reached the peak of its glamour when Princess Grace (movie star Grace Kelly) married into the ruling Grimaldi family. Her son, Prince Albert II, now rules the principality, and the world waits eagerly for the release of the biopic of his mother’s life, starring Nicole Kidman, later this year. Once described as “a sunny place for shady people” by author Somerset Maugham, Monaco has attracted visitors and residents not just because of its climate and glitz, but also because of its ideal tax arrangements. Movie stars, sports stars and fashion moguls live here, while the rest of us come to watch and absorb. It seems fitting that in an area brimming with the ostentatious, the quickest way to arrive is by helicopter. A seven-minute trip from Nice airport is all it takes to find yourself in this luxe paradise. n

Thegoldenbook Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc Tel: +33 4 93 61 39 01

www.hotel-du-cap-eden-roc.com

Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat Tel: +33 4 93 76 50 50

www.grand-hotel-cap-ferrat.com

La Réserve, Ramatuelle Tel: +33 4 94 44 94 44

www.lareserve-ramatuelle.com

Château de la Chèvre d’Or Tel: +33 4 92 10 66 66

www.chevredor.com


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CapiTaL aTTraCTion The secrets of the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, can be unlocked by exploring its historic architecture WORDS: Andy Round Š European Commission

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Vilnius City


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City

Photo: Ezequiel Scagnetti

Vilnius

(Above) Sacred sight The Bernardine Church offers a key insight into Vilnius' history (Previous page) 1 Standing watch You'll find The Three Muses outside the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre 2 Old meets new The historical buildings of Vilnius are old on the outside, but breathe with new life inside 3 Looking up The blinding-white Vilnius cathedral 4 Guardian angel One of many stucco figures in the Church of St Peter and Paul

Photos: Getty Images

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ilnius is a small city with a big history, and that history is at its most eloquent in the Old Town. In the Chapel of the Gate of Dawn, the silver offerings nailed next to the miraculous icon of the Madonna speak of centuries of devoted pilgrimage. In the bohemian city district of Užupis, a ‘Constitution’ plaque (right) underlines the area’s eccentric character by promising, ‘A dog has the right to be a dog’ and ‘People have the right to be unhappy.’ In the dusty basement of the capital’s former KGB headquarters, bullet holes speak of inconceivable terrors. To stroll Vilnius barely takes a few hours, but you need more time to read the history that is written on every wall. Take Bernardine Church, for instance. Here history stacks up like the devoted bones that filled its dry crypts and the layers of paint that hid its extraordinary cloister frescos. During the Soviet occupation of the 20th century, the church’s sacred interior was ripped out to convert the building into a warehouse, but the power of all those historic layers remained undiminished.

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Photo: ezequiel Scagnetti Photo: ezequiel Scagnetti

Baroque androll

“I came for mass for the first time in 2002 and there was only a wooden altar,” says guide Sandra Krušnaitė. “But there were a lot of people here and it felt incredibly powerful. Incredibly special.” Peering from the church’s nowrestored loft, the view of the towers, spires and cupolas that punctuate Vilnius’ Old Town skyline is beyond special. It’s magical. No wonder it is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the crooked medieval streets of the Old Town and the vibrant architectural legacy of the European religions that made Vilnius their home quickly becomes apparent. “In the 14th century while the Grand Dukes of Lithuania were celebrating pagan gods up in Vilnius Castle, Orthodox believers and Catholic Germans were building their houses of worship down below,” says Marija Drėmaitė, secretary general of UNESCO’s Lithuanian National Commission.

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Sky-high detail (top) Elaborate carvings and frescos decorate the ceiling of the Church of St Peter and Paul Spiritual heart (bottom) Aerial view of historic Vilnius Cathedral

“In Vilnius there are 21 monasteries and 20 Catholic churches, four Orthodox churches, one Lutheran, one Evangelical and former Jewish houses of worship that formed the layout of the town.” And every house of worship has a story to tell: “When Napoleon saw the rare brick Gothic of St Anne’s Church, he said he wanted to take it back to Paris in the palm of his hand,” laughs Vilnius’ mayor Artūras Zuokas. “It still makes me smile every time I think he didn’t get his way.” “I’m fond of Vilnius Cathedral even though it doesn’t appeal to me aesthetically,” says Gediminas Technical University’s architecture professor Jūratė Jurevičienė. “I appreciate the way it encapsulates important historic layers. “From the top to bottom there is history. Installed above are the new statues that replaced those demolished during 20th-century occupation and buried below are ancient pagan structures.”

A good example of Vilnius' Baroque style is in the Church of St Peter and Paul. Depending on your view, the 2,000 stucco figures and ornate finishes (above) are either an assault on the senses or a masterpiece of Baroque ambition. Maybe both.

Historical strata stack up everywhere in Vilnius. Beneath the Amber MuseumGallery in the Old Town, guide Eglė Mickevičienė reflects on the excavations of 16th-century ceramic kilns. “You can see how the layers of the city grew above them,” she says, pointing at the rocky walls. “About a metre deep for every hundred years.” Nearby is Vilnius’ Old Town Renewal Agency, which is dedicated to preserving the capital’s architectural legacy. When director Jūratė Raugalienė walks the city, stories unfold at every corner. She reveals how the Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance buildings of the 500-year-old university became “an important centre of learning in Central and Eastern Europe.” She explains how Teutonic Knights from Riga in Latvia gave Germans Street its name and how an Italian Duchess brought both pasta and a new Renaissance style to the city.


Vilnius City

The gothic steeple of St. Anne's Church



Vilnius

City

“Explore the crooked medieval streets of the Old Town and the vibrant architectural legacy of the European religions that made Vilnius their home quickly becomes apparent”

Frozen in time (top) The pretty streets of Vilnius' Old Town Bite-size (bottom) Traditional café in the Jewish Quarter

Then, of course, there is Vilnius’ famous Baroque style: “It was introduced as a result of the great fires of the 18th century,” Jūratė says, referring to a series of massive fires that destroyed many of the city’s buildings during the 100-year period. “Austrian architect Johann Glaubitz arrived like an answer to the city’s prayers. He renovated the churches and his style quickly became influential across the continent.” But it is the capital’s sweeping panoramas that cast a spell over this Vilnius-born director. “I love the views from the Hill Of The Three Crosses, but I also spent the first five years of my life close to the tallest building in Vilnius, the 68-metre-tall St Johns bell tower. It’s still inspiring.” Another Old Town view that is well worth savouring is from the top of the ‘New Town’ 21st-century municipal building that houses Vilnius’ Planning Department – and its director, Artūras Blotnys. “If you were an architecture student, you could come here and study every era from early Gothic to 20th-century architecture,” says Artūras, surveying the forest-fringed city beneath him. “That in itself makes the city special, but the atmosphere on the streets, well, that is completely unique.” n www.readyforeurope.com

Thegoldenbook Kempinski Hotel Cathedral Square Tel: +370 5 220 1100

www.kempinski.com

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M A N I L A G A T E W A Y T O PA R A D I S E


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Manila is a city brimming with soul and energy, where everything from the people to the cuisine are infused with the joy of life and the spirit of hospitality WORDS: Rowena Marella-Daw

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City

Manila

(Above) Moment of silence The frenetic pace of the city slows down when the sun sets over picturesque Manila Bay (Previous page) 1 Night lights A view of the busy skyline of Makati City Manila 2 Vintage icon A reconditioned Peninsula Jeepney drives past the National Museum of the Philippines 3 Green in the city Lush tropical gardens at Makati Shangri-La Manila

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heartfelt smile is never too much effort for a Filipino, so it comes as no surprise that the Philippines consistently ranks as one of the friendliest countries in the world. Yet despite its reputation, you don’t often find the country, or its capital, Manila, in your typical luxury travel magazine. Perhaps that’s not such a bad thing, especially for locals and regular visitors who prefer to keep this archipelago of 7,107 magical islands and islets their precious little secret. The gateway to the country’s breathtaking landscapes, Manila is one of Southeast Asia’s most enigmatic cities and arguably the region’s most free-spirited capital — where else do you find an electronics store salesman belting out a ballad on a karaoke machine during working hours to drum up business? Manila has plenty of attitude and it makes no excuses for its shortcomings. Three hundred years of Spanish rule, American occupation and a strong Malay heritage helped to shape the character of the people, whose spirit, resilience and hospitality are beyond question. In the sprawling urban jungle of Metro Manila is nearly 11.5 million inhabitants. English is widely spoken alongside Tagalog, the mother tongue, derived from Austronesian languages such as

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Bahasa Malay, but laced with Spanish words. Life here is defined not just by hard graft. More importantly, it revolves around food — the bigger the spread, the better. Fresh seafood, roast suckling pig, the best mangoes in the world, and traditional dishes influenced by Chinese, Spanish and Malay cuisine are just a few gastronomic delights the rest of the world is missing out on. And, tempting as it may be to head straight for the pristine beaches in the Visayan region, it’s worth spending a few days exploring this vibrant metropolis to experience joie de vivre, ‘Pinoy’-style. So, what makes Manila tick? The heartbeat of the capital is found in Makati City, the financial district and leisure hotspot, where five-star hotel brands like Shangri-La, The Peninsula and Fairmont are gathered. Converging within this glamorous hub are the designer boutiques of the Greenbelt shopping centre, shopping malls, museums, art galleries, cinemas and a plethora of fine-dining restaurants, all within walking distance of each other. The high-end real estate market recently witnessed the opening of several exclusive investment properties, including Raffles and Fairmont properties that comprise both hotel rooms and serviced residences, and the exclusive Trump Tower Manila, among others.



Straight Up The rooftop lounge bar at Seda Hotel is one of many trendy hangouts in Manila’s Bonifacio Global City

“The gateway to the country’s breathtaking landscapes, Manila is one of Southeast Asia’s most enigmatic cities and arguably the region’s most free-spirited capital” Nearby, there is friendly competition from the burgeoning Bonifacio Global City or BGC, the new hub for affluent lifestyle and global business. BGC’s onekilometre High Street is a traffic-free promenade buzzing with retail outlets, trendy restaurants, patisseries, bars and cafés. Seventh Avenue is the place for mingling, peoplewatching and alfresco dining. Adding excitement to the dining scene are young, talented chefs bringing exiting flavours, textures and flair to the table. Feast on local delights at Chef Laudico’s Bistro Filipino, Abe Restaurant, or head for Burgos Circle for other finedining options. At Market! Market!, flower and food stalls imbibe a lively atmosphere, and a chance to sample typical delicacies from every region in the Philippines will be hard to resist. Manila’s nightlife rocks until dawn, even on weeknights. The party crowds gather at Seventh High, while the more sophisticated prefer to chill out at Straight Up, the rooftop lounge bar of Seda Hotel. Next door, the Skye W lounge bar and restaurant on the roof deck of W Building attracts a much younger clientele. Another trendy place to dine, drink and be seen is Buddha-Bar Manila on Kalayaan Avenue, a short drive from the centre of Makati City. Venture beyond Makati’s glitz and glamour to discover a different side to Manila. Navigate the scenic route along Roxas Boulevard towards the Manila Bay area, where the Mall of Asia beckons shopaholics and Resorts World’s

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impressive casino entices high rollers. Then, head towards Luneta Park and soak up the bohemian vibes in the old district of Malate. For a dose of history, take a walk around the old walled city of Intramuros, which was the seat of the Spanish government during colonial times. While here, ride the kalesa, a horsedrawn carriage that was used for transport in the old days. Learn more about the country’s history at the National Museum of the Philippines, before crossing Quezon Bridge to arrive at the iconic Quiapo Church, where devotees flock by the thousands to worship the Black Nazarene (a life-size sculpture of Jesus) on January 9 each year. Finally, treat yourself to tea and a feast of dim sum in Chinatown before catching the glorious sunset along Manila Bay. The seasoned traveller will easily accept the sharp contrasts surrounding them. From honking 'Jeepneys' (Jeepstyle buses) and street vendors to crumbling buildings, the smells, sights and sounds of Manila will amaze, bemuse, and even overwhelm the senses. This, in essence, this what forms the very fabric of the city, setting it apart from the rest of Southeast Asia. Even the tallest skyscraper, the cleanest, safest streets or the richest enclaves can fail to make a lasting impression, because what counts most is whether a city has personality. The vibrant soul and infectious energy of Manila will surely linger in your memory long after you’ve boarded that plane back home. n


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Manila BEYOND THE CITY Raffles Makati and faiRMont Makati Manila Part of a prestigious new development, both the Raffles Makati and the Fairmont Makati are located in the same luxury tower at the heart of Manila’s financial district, next to the Philippine Stock Exchange and the Greenbelt shopping centre. Opened in February this year, the contemporary-style Raffles Makati has 32 luxurious suites, each with floorto-ceiling windows overlooking the city. The Raffles Residences Makati has 237 one- to four-bedroom residences for private ownership or extended hotel stays. Located in the same tower, the Fairmont Makati is home to 280 deluxe rooms and the hotel’s signature Willow Stream Spa, a 1,200-square-metre oasis of tranquillity incorporating a beauty salon, mineral pool, five treatment rooms, and an outdoor pool. tel: +632 555 9777 or +632 555 9888 www.raffles.com/makati or www.fairmont.com/makati

MandaRin oRiental Manila Manila There are 413 spacious rooms and 29 suites occupying the highest floors of this tower hotel, which is situated in the heart of the business district of Makati. The hotel describes itself as “a luxurious base from which to explore the city”, and with its breathtaking views and elegant features, the property offers an air of sophistication. Choose to spend an evening in one of the hotel's seven restaurants and bars (including a specialty jazz bar), or unwind with a luxe treatment at the Thai-inspired spa located at the very top of the hotel. If you prefer to be in the thick of all the action of Manila, you don't have far to go — the main shopping district is just five minutes away, while the beautiful Manila Bay (and its famous sunset) is a 30-minute drive from the hotel. tel: +632 750 0968 www.mandarinoriental.com/manila

abaca boutique ResoRt Mactan Island, Cebu This tropical island hideaway has just nine rooms (six suties and three villas) located right on the beach. A 30-metre black tiled swimming pool with submerged seating is the perfect setting for sundowners, and the oceanfront Abaca restaurant serves Australian chef Wade Watson’s Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. The spa offers a range of Filipino treatments and Abaca’s own natural spa products, with exotic ingredients including bamboo, walnut and mother of pearl. The price of your stay includes airport transfers, breakfast, an evening cocktail and butler service, which includes everything from newspaper delivery to excursions outside the hotel. There is great diving and snorkelling in the waters around this quiet, secluded island, so make time to see what’s beneath. tel: +63 32 495 3461 www.abacaresort.com


Manila City

Discover the Philippines’ many facets through its breathtaking landscapes, pristine beaches, and a dazzling collection of indulgent hotels and resorts

amanpuLo Pamalican Island, Palawan Aman resorts tend to adapt to their surroundings, so it’s no surprise that this particular property, in the stunning Cuyo Islands in Palawan province, has made the most of its island location. Perhaps one of the resort’s most cherished features is its stunning Aman Spa, situated on a hillside overlooking the Sulu Sea, with private treatment pavillions featuring deep-soak tubs and steam showers. Guests stay in luxurious casitas (traditional Filipino huts) located on the beach, in the treetops and on the hillside, and each comes with its own buggy to explore the island at leisure. There are plenty of open-air spaces, plus tennis courts, a sea sports hut, dive centre, and beachside bars and restaurants. tel: +632 976 5200 www.amanresorts.com/amanpulo

the Farm at San Benito Lipa City, Batangas A luxury holistic resort, The Farm at San Benito offers a beautiful natural setting for guests to regain balance. Situated on a former coconut and coffee plantation, the eco-friendly resort tailors wellness programmes to the needs of its guests, including detoxification, healing, and lifestyle management. The spacious villas are beautifully decorated, and many feature private pools. The cuisine focuses on delivering maximum nutrition without compromising taste. The menu at Alive! vegan restaurant is sourced from the on-site organic garden, consisting mainly of plant-based, raw ingredients. Luxurious amenities include the nearby golf course, Mount Malarayat Golf & Country Club, as well as the spa and healing sanctuary, and integrated medical treatments. tel: +632 884 8074 www.thefarm.com.ph

Shangri-La Boracay reSort & Spa Boracay Island, Visayas Set in an eco-reserve with villas spilling down a lush tropical hillside that overlooks the white sands of Puka Shell Beach, Shangri-La’s Boracay Resort & Spa is a great option for families, with tennis courts and plenty of water-based activities including ocean kayaking, parasailing and deep-sea diving. But there is also lots for couples with romance on the agenda. CHI the Spa is located on a rocky peninsula overlooking a private bay, the perfect setting for one of the authentic treatments on offer. Sirena is a stunning open-walled cliff-top seafood restaurant with dramatic views looking out over the ocean. The 219 rooms, suites and villas all feature balconies and daybeds, while the villas also feature private pools and butler service. tel: +63 36 288 4988 www.shangri-la.com

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The high life

If you’re looking to invest in a holiday home overseas, joining a fractional ownership fund is a smart option WORDS: Caitlin Cheadle


London Invest

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t’s nice to see how the other half live, and while in London recently I had the fleeting pleasure of spending a weekend in a luxury Bankside apartment, just a five-minute walk from the Tate Modern and the Thames. What a tease. It is often said that to really enjoy living in London, a certain amount of wealth is required. Having never lived there myself I cannot confirm this, but I can certainly say I am a fan of visiting London when I have a swanky threebedroom apartment as my home base. Padding into a gorgeous open-plan kitchen each morning to prepare an espresso and gaze out at the view of the Thames and St Paul’s Cathedral over breakfast? Yes, I could get used to this. And if I were a member of The Hideaways Club, I would be used to it. The brainchild of Fitness First founder Mike Balfour, The Hideaways Club is a fractional ownership fund whereby members have an equity investment in a portfolio of luxury properties across the world. Until they sell their share in the company, members have access to these properties for their holiday needs, plus the services of a private concierge team to manage bookings and stays. The Hideaways Club consists of two components: the property company, which is wholly owned by the club’s members (equity investors), and the operating company, which manages the properties on behalf of the members. When joining the club there are different types of shares available, which differ in price according to usage requirements. Members buy a share in the property company at the current share price, which is revalued at least once a year. The investment can be in a portfolio of villas and ski chalets, known as the Classic Collection, or in luxury two- and three-bedroom city apartments in the City Collection.

So, for example, for a Premium Membership in the Classic Collection at a cost of GBP 250,000 (US $386,000), you will get a full equity share in the Classic Collection Property Fund. You will then pay an annual membership fee of GBP 14,000 ($22,000), and this gets you four to six weeks per year in any of the Classic Collection properties around the world, plus the use of the concierge team to book and manage your stays. If you decide to leave, you can sell your share at the current share price. There is a 10 percent administration cost for shareholders exiting before three years of membership and the exiting shareholder receives 80 percent of the capital gain at the time of selling. After three years of membership, the sales fee is reduced to five percent. a better way to travel? Fractional ownership is a relatively new concept and it generally offers a more stable alternative to independent second-home ownership and timeshare options, but be sure to complete your due diligence before committing. There are agencies such as the UK-based Fractional Ownership Consultancy (www.fractional.net) to help with this. Fractional ownership schemes were first made popular in the late 1990s by American developer Rob McGrath, who created his Private Retreats vacation club after interviewing 2,500 potential timeshare investors in the mid-1990s. He found that most would have preferred to invest in a variety of homes across different destinations rather than tying themselves to one property or committing to a timeshare. One of the main benefits of this kind of model is the freedom it provides. Not only do members have access to a variety of properties in different locations, they will also benefit from safety in numbers.

“Not only do members have access to a variety of properties, they will also benefit from safety in numbers”

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Invest

London

THEHIDEAWAYSclub The Hideaways Club has two portfolios and various membership options. The Classic Collection is a portfolio of 32 luxury villas and ski chalets with a target cap of 600 members and a member-to-property ratio of 6 to 1. A further 250 properties are available to members through reciprocal agreements with similar clubs in 70 locations around the world. The City Collection is a portfolio of twoand three-bedroom luxury apartments in the world’s most sought-after cities including London, Paris, New York, and Dubai. There’s a member-to-property ratio of 10 to 1, with a target cap of 1,200 members. The City Collection currently includes 14 apartments. A further 70 apartments are available to members through reciprocal agreements with similar clubs in 18 cities around the world. Members also have the option of buying into a hybrid membership, which grants them a share in both portfolios.

Chalet Lune, Switzerland

Tel: +44 20 7824 9940 Contact: info@thehideawaysclub.com www.thehideawaysclub.com Villa Vidro, Portugal

bAnkSIDEAPARTMEnT n A 160 square-metre apartment inside a new luxury

development in London’s Bankside Three bedrooms (sleeps six guests) Three bathrooms (two en suite, one family bathroom) n Fully fitted kitchen with high-quality appliances n Nespresso machine and tea-making facilities n Large living and entertaining area n Views of the Thames, Tate Modern, the London Eye and St Paul’s Cathedral n Molton Brown amenities in bathrooms n Flat-screen TVs, Apple TV, Bose and iPod music system, extensive music library in a pre-programmed iPod, DVD player and DVD library, iPad, Nintendo Wii n High-speed WiFi access n 24-hour doorman n Secure parking n

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In the case of The Hideaways Club, the properties in the portfolio are located in different parts of the world, so if there is a property slump in one location it will be cushioned by the properties in other markets. The Hideaways Club’s portfolio has been hand-picked by a team of property specialists who make their selections based on each property’s potential to appreciate in value, as well as their desirability as a holiday home. The annual cost contribution (essentially a yearly membership fee) takes care of all the upkeep; in other words the club absorbs the time, effort and costs associated with maintaining and managing a property overseas. My experience with The Hideaways Club felt very much like an exclusive private members’ club. I was contacted by the Central Concierge team before my trip to confirm the reservation and set up airport transfers. I could also arrange for grocery shopping to be done and unpacked prior to my arrival, specifying any particular items I desired. The concierge team can also make any arrangements needed for club members

travelling with additional guests or children, such as changes to sleeping arrangements and babysitting services. Once I arrived in London I was met by the Local Concierge, who took me on a tour of the apartment to show me how everything worked, introduced me to the 24-hour security team in the lobby, and ensured I had everything I needed before leaving me with the keys. She was also on hand to make restaurant or theatre bookings, arrange housekeeping, or assist with anything that would make my stay more comfortable. The apartment is stocked with everything you would need or want — books, games, a DVD player and DVDs, a Nintendo Wii for the kids, a fully operational kitchen, flat-screen TVs, an iPad and high-speed WiFi access. I only stayed at the Bankside apartment for a weekend to get a taste of what it would feel like to be a member of The Hideaways Club, but I loved arriving and slipping right into a luxurious private home set-up without any hassle. For international jet-setters, it’s an ideal way to travel. I think James Bond would approve. n


London

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NIGHT & DAY

Fine dining, contemporary art, designer boutiques and spectacular views – this insider’s guide will show you where you can find the best of them in the Emerald City

SYDNEY

Words: Rebecca Haddad

09.00 Pass through customs at Sydney Airport (www.sydneyairport.com.au) and take a 30-minute taxi ride (or a limousine transfer for a decidedly more glamorous trip) through the heart of the city to Park Hyatt Sydney (7 Hickson Road; +61 2 9256 1234; www. sydney.park.hyatt.com), located in the historical district known as The Rocks. In a harbour city, a room with a view is mandatory — no matter which room you’ve booked at the Park Hyatt, all afford superb vistas of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House or city skyline. 10.00 Start your day with a tour around The Rocks. Although Sydney is still a relatively young city, it’s worth wandering the cobblestone streets of what was a former slum area, now a haven of chic boutiques, galleries and cafés. Pay a visit to The Tea Cosy (33 George Street; www.theteacosy. com.au) for a morning tea of fresh scones and loose-leaf tea in a room that makes you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time to the days of colonial Sydney.

11.30 Back in the present day, head across George Street for a dose of modern culture at the Museum of Contemporary Art (140 George Street; +61 2 9245 2400; www.mca. com.au). The permanent collection, which has been growing since the museum was established in 1989, is an impressive creative record of the evolution of contemporary art in Australia. Temporary exhibitions are also a regular feature; this month, see a series from acclaimed Canadian photographer Jeff Wall. 13.00 Creative side sated, it’s time to take in Australia’s most famous stretch of sand, Bondi Beach, with a side of lunch. Eat with the who’s who of Sydney’s social set at Bondi Icebergs (1 Notts Ave; www.icebergs. com.au). As it’s winter, enjoy a meal inside and watch swimmers brave the icy waters of the natural swimming pool outside. 14.00 While Melbourne often takes the crown for Australia’s shopping capital, Sydney is hot

competition. Eschew the crowds of Pitt St Mall for an afternoon at Oxford Street in Paddington. On this prime strip of retail real estate you’ll find the stores of internationally acclaimed designers including Alice McCall, Collette Dinnigan and Sass & Bide. The Intersection, the group of shops at the corner of Glenmore Road and Oxford Street (+61 2 4888 2359; www.theintersection.com.au) is the place to invest in pieces from up-andcoming names in Australian fashion. When you’re done there, catch a taxi over to Queen Victoria Building (455 George Street; www.qvb.com.au), a stunning example of Romanesque architecture and the place to go for luxury accessories. 16.00 Naturally, the best way to see the harbour is by boat, so head back up George Street, via one of the free green shuttle buses, to Circular Quay. Weather permitting, you’ll be able to hire a private water taxi (www.vipwatertaxis. com.au) to take you across the harbour and north to the seaside neighbourhood of Manly, where you can stop by Hugo’s Manly


O Bar and Dining

Park Hyatt Sydney

19.30 It’s dinner hour, and you’re spoilt for choice as two of the country’s most famous restaurants serve up top-notch meals on opposite sides of the quay. Aria (1 Macquarie Street, East Circular Quay; +61 2 9240 2255; www. ariarestaurant.com), headed by famed Australian chef Matt Moran, offers a sevencourse degustation (AUD $260 or US $250.50, including matching wines), which is the best way to sample a variety of the best of local produce, from the Hamachi yellowtail and Carid prawn sashimi to the succulent pork belly with chestnut puree. Directly across the water is Quay (Upper Level, Overseas Passenger Terminal; +61 2 9251 5600; www.quay.com.au), the only Australian restaurant on San Pellegrino’s esteemed ‘50 Best Restaurants’ list. It’s as famous for it’s Snow Egg dessert – that’s guava shaved ice

topped with a sweet custard egg covered in a sugary shell – as it is for its harbour views. 21.30 Sydney’s small-bar scene is enjoying growing popularity, and, like all chic small bars, it’s a matter of knowing where to go. Work off your meal with a short stroll down to Bulletin Place. Follow the staircase upstairs from Cabrito Coffee Traders and you’ll find a bar also named Bulletin Place (level 1, 10-14 Bulletin Place; www.bulletinplace.com). The décor might be plain, but the bar is manned by some of the best mixologists in the city, so the cocktails do all the talking.

STAY Park Hyatt Sydney Tel: +61 2 9256 1234 www.sydney.park.hyatt.com Museum of Contemporary Art

23.00 If you can afford a late check out the next morning, visit O Bar and Dining (Level 47, Australia Square/264 George Street; +61 2 9247 9777; www.obardining.com.au) on the 47 floor of the Australia Square tower. The revolving bar with floor-to-ceiling windows means you can sit back with a nightcap and take in the night lights of a city that never loses its sparkle. n

Photo: Getty Images

(East Esplanade; +61 2 8116 8555; www. hugos.com.au) for a sundowner. Hugo’s is actually famous for its pizzas, but you’ll need to save your appetite for some seriously gourmet fare back in town.

Quay restaurant

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Diary 07.13 56th Annual Antigua Carnival

July 27–August 6 St John’s, Antigua and Barbuda

Evolving from a celebration of the abolition of slavery on the dual-island nation of Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua Carnival has grown into a 10-day showcase of true Caribbean culture. The streets of the capital, St John’s, seemingly burst at the seams with music, dances, pageants, parades and food fairs that last all day for the duration of the festival. Leave your monochrome travel attire at home because during carnival time, colour is compulsory. www.antiguacarnival.com

San Fermin Festival

Photo: Getty Images

July 6–14 Pamplona, Spain

Independence Day

July 4 Across the USA

No matter where you are in the US on July 4, you’re guaranteed three things: parties, fireworks and rousing renditions of ‘Star Spangled Banner’. New York will host its annual Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks display over the Hudson, while the National Mall in Washington, DC, will transform into the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. In Chicago, celebrations kick off a day earlier and continue with the Taste of Chicago festival. www.discoveramerica.com

Better known as the Running of the Bulls, this festival began as a celebration honouring San Fermin, the patron saint of the Navarre region, but has become better known for this wild and dangerous tradition of the fiesta. For the best views of the daily morning bull runs (and to stay safely out of harm’s way), reserve a balcony at one of the residences along the route before spending the rest of the day celebrating in the streets. www.sanfermin.com


Bastille Day July 14 Paris, France

This date marks the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille prison and, while bottles of champagne will be popped and platters of fromage consumed at parties all over the country, Paris is the place to be. Festivities kick off during the day, so immerse yourself in celebrations taking place in each neighbourhood before heading to the Champ de Mars for a prime position in front of the Eiffel Tower for the night’s fireworks, which will affirm Paris’ moniker as the City of Light. www.franceguide.com

Montreux Jazz Festival

July 5–20 Montreux, Switzerland

Photo: © 2006 FFJM - Muriel Rochat

Photo: Getty Images

The sound of music will reverberate across Lake Geneva this month for the 47th Montreux Jazz Festival. Over the years, the festival has branched out to incorporate all music styles; the 2013 edition will take a decidedly rock edge with Prince and Sting headlining. But for bona fide jazz enthusiasts, there are still plenty of performances to enjoy around Montreux, including sets on the famous jazz trains and at the new Montreux Jazz Club. www.montreuxjazzfestival.com

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Spend it

Itineraries

Reaching new heights in NZ Tree houses call to mind childhood memories, but the clever team behind Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses on New Zealand’s South Island have turned these symbols of youth into very grown-up accommodation options. Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses is two hours north of Christchurch, on the quiet Kaikoura Peninsula, but feels a world away. Five tree houses stand 10 metres in the air among a grove of native manuka. As you would expect, these aren’t your run-of-the-mill tree houses. Each house features a wood-burning fireplace, heated bathroom floor and a spa big enough for two. There’s also a TV, iPod sound system and free WiFi to keep you busy, but you’ll no doubt be distracted by the breathtaking views of the Pacific coastline and Kaikoura Ranges beyond. Book a Hapuku Earth, Sky and Sea package to enjoy two nights’ accommodation including breakfast and dinner daily, a nighttime astronomy experience and a whale-watching expedition. Available: now Price: $2195 per couple (until September 30) Book: +64 3 319 6559 www.hapukulodge.com

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Hapuku Lodge & Tree Houses


Caribbean island hop

Spend it Cruise around the Caribbean, live high up in the trees in NZ or explore the Rockies by luxury rail – by land or by sea, there are plenty of ways to splurge this month *All prices are subject to change. Please contact the listed companies for further information.

The long, winding road With its varied landscapes, charming villages and buzzing cities, Germany is an ideal roadtrip destination. Rocco Forte Hotels is offering the ultimate summer European getaway for car enthusiasts, teaming up with Elite Renta-Car to offer a road-tour package that takes full advantage of a country as famous for its autobahns as it is for lederhosen. Your trip begins in Munich, where you’ll chose between a Lamborghini Gallardo, Ferrari 458 Spider or Porsche Carrera 911. Over the next five days, you’ll wind your way to Berlin, taking in stunning scenery and villages by day and staying at luxe Rocco Forte hotels at night. The trip covers plenty of must-visits along the way, including a stop at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart and a journey through German wine country, but you can tailor the length and itinerary to suit you. And if you prefer appreciating a luxury car from the passenger seat, a chauffeur is available on request. Available: now Price: From EUR 6,00O (US $7,818) Book: info@eliterent.com www.eliterent.com / www.roccofortehotels.com

Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome, Berlin

It’s one thing to fly to your next island holiday, but it is an entirely different experience when you take to the water on your own chartered luxury catamaran. Live like the rich and famous by booking a seven-night chartered island hop on Sir Richard Branson’s own 32-metre catamaran, Necker Belle. Tailor your itinerary to include some of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean (including Antigua, St Bart’s and Branson’s own Necker Island), invite 12 of your closest friends, then it’s all aboard. Rates include a 24-hour driver at each port, plus your own crew and full use of the watersport equipment on board. There are plenty of activities to help you make the most of your sun-kissed holiday, including waterskiing, wakeboarding, fishing and snorkelling. Still not enough water-based adventure for you? For an additional cost, you can also hire the Necker Nymph, a three-person submarine. Available: now Price: US $110,000 Book: enquiries@virginlimitededition.com www.neckerbelle.virgin.com


Spend it

Palace life in Mumbai The Taj Mahal Palace in Mumbai is an architectural record of the city’s history. The hotel was established at a time when the city was struggling to improve its run-down image, and since then, has remained a leading example of old-world grandeur in Mumbai. Now, the hotel is bringing that grandeur to the forefront with its new Enchantment Package. The package includes limousine transfers to and from the airport plus accommodation in the iconic Palace Wing, which has been fully restored to its former glory, complete with artworks and antiques on display in the corridors. While you’re here, there are plenty of other places to explore within the hotel, including 10 restaurants and the Palace Lounge, which boasts sweeping views of Mumbai Harbour. As an added measure to ensure your stay is as relaxing as possible, you’ll also be given 15 percent off treatments at the hotel’s Jiva Spa. Available: until August 31, 2013 Price: from Rs 18,500 (US $328) per night for a minimum three-night stay Book: tmhresv.bom@tajhotels.com www.tajhotels.com

Rockies by rail They say the best way to see the Canadian Rockies is by air, but in summer, it is far more enjoyable to tour across this rugged and spectacular part of the world by rail – luxury rail, no less. Book a GoldLeaf pass aboard the Rocky Mountaineer for a four-day ‘Journey Through the Clouds’ from Vancouver to Jasper. You’ll take in major sites including Fraser Canyon, Pyramid Falls, and Mount Robson (the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies), and enjoy stopovers in Vancouver, Kamloops and Jasper so you can stretch your legs with some on-foot exploring. On board, you’ll enjoy a comfortable journey in the double-decker GoldLeaf coach, with its domed glass roof, complimentary beverage and snack service, and gourmet meals. For that extra touch to make your holiday all that more luxurious, upgrade to the GoldLeaf Deluxe service to enjoy hotel upgrades in Vancouver, Kamloops and Jasper. Available: from August Price: From $3,099 per person Book: reservations@rockymountaineer.com www.rockymountaineer.com

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ExperienceExceptional Exceptional Holidays Experience Holidays Come and behold stunning views of the Indian Ocean endless azure waters, while

omelistening and behold stunning views of the Indian Ocean endless azure waters, while to birdsong amidst lush green tropical gardens, and sampling the melting stening to birdsong amidst lush green tropical gardens, and sampling the melting pot of multi-cultural Mauritian cuisine pot of multi-cultural Mauritian cuisine Book now your Holidays at Angsana Balaclava Mauritius and make the most of:

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Suite Dreams Suite Dreams

Words: Joe Mortimer

Welcome to Hollywood

Start your A-list experience with a night at Mondrian Los Angeles

F

rom the balcony of suite 1111 at the Mondrian Los Angeles, you can look out over Beverly Hills and Bel-Air and just about make out the Pacific Ocean in the distance. Somewhere off to the left, the buildings end abruptly as they reach the beachside neighbourhoods of Santa Monica and Venice. Directly below, sculpted bodies are dotted around the poolside, sipping cocktails, and an excited hum fills the mid-afternoon air. As the day turns into evening, a few more clothes appear and the flip-flops are replaced with high heels as the Skybar comes alive. It looks like its going to be another wild night in West Hollywood. In the Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz-designed suite, there’s a more subdued atmosphere. Warm Californian sunshine floods the room through the floor-to-ceiling windows during the day, illuminating the white interior and bamboo floor. As day turns to night, mood lighting and polished chrome surfaces create a lounge-bar atmosphere, made all the more authentic by the sounds from the pool deck below. An oversized sofa scattered with cushions sits beneath a large mirror that covers the entire wall, seemingly doubling the space in the already ample suite, and a long bar area with basin and minibar cries out for guests to entertain. You can order meals all night long from the 24-hour room service menu, which offers American-sized portions of staples such as pastrami on rye. In the middle of the room, an orangecoloured mirror mounted on a pole has a built-in HDTV, which can be rotated to face any corner of the suite, but after a night partying Hollywood-style, the best place to watch it is from the king-sized bed with down duvet and pillows in pure white cotton. There’s also free WiFi, an iPod dock and a workspace for a laptop.

In the bathroom, a stainless-steel basin and silver-edged mirror dominate the space, with Silestone tiles on the floor and Malin+Goetz products at the ready. The worst thing about this suite is that you’re never sure whether you want to leave or stay. The view from the balcony makes it tempting to stay put and soak up the atmosphere with a cocktail in hand, but the lure of the pool deck and the legendary nightspots of West Hollywood are hard to resist. Like the other West Hollywood darlings, The Standard and Chateau Marmont, the Mondrian is an institution. Each evening, groups of hipsters, white-collar workers and hopeful actors queue around the corner to get into Skybar (guests do not queue), or take a table at the Philippe Starck-designed Asia de Cuba.

The hotel’s central location makes it an ideal base for exploring surrounding neighbourhoods — it’s a 10-minute drive west to Beverly Hills and a 10-minute drive east to downtown Hollywood. But most people in the know tend to stay right where they are, at least until the sun comes up and a new LA day begins. ■

The important bit What: Balcony Suite 1111 Where: Mondrian Los Angeles, 8440 Sunset Boulevard, West Hollywood, CA Price: from US $439 per night Tel: +1 323 650 8999 www.mondrianhotel.com

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Review

All that glitters Indulge in a spa experience fit for royalty with Saray Spa’s ‘Jewels of Arabia Journey’ at JW Marriott Marquis Dubai WORDS: Rebecca Haddad

W

hen a spa treatment promises the healing benefits of precious stones, I’m often sceptical. I have heard of finely crushed gemstones being used to exfoliate, but until recently, I had not heard of gemstone-infused oils. What other health benefits can you possibly take away from aesthetically pleasing minerals? It is with this in mind that I arrive at Saray Spa at JW Marriott Marquis in Dubai’s Business Bay district. It seems fitting that I am going to experience the spa’s ‘Jewels of Arabia Journey’ in the Middle East’s capital of opulence. Taking the lift to the third floor, my eyes have trouble adjusting to the dark, dimly lit spa entrance, which is surprisingly quiet given the commotion of construction outside. I am ushered to a small, candle-lit waiting area and left for a few minutes to take in my surroundings, which are designed to resemble the caravanserai (roadside inns) of the old Silk Road. I am soon led to the changing room and given a silk robe and amenities kit. My therapist, Laraine, then leads me to the dimly lit treatment room, where the spa’s zen interior design continues. “We’ll start with the Arabian foot ritual,” Laraine explains, washing my feet in water infused with salt from the Dead Sea, while I press her with questions about the precise role of the stones in this treatment. I learn that each gemstone (diamond, sapphire, ruby and emerald) possesses a different type of energy, so the oil used in the treatment depends on what condition I want treated and how I want to feel at the end. My aim is to feel relaxed yet energised, which means sapphire-infused oil for the body (good for easing muscle tension) and ruby-infused oil for my face, to balance and revitalise the skin.

Laraine sets to work loosening my back muscles with ease using eucalyptus and avocado oil infused with sapphires, and it isn’t long before my mind starts to wander. Although this treatment is described as an Arabian journey, I find the experience rather multicultural, from the musical mix of Oriental and Arabian sounds playing in the background to the massage itself, which is a combination of techniques from around the world, including Swedish and Thai massage. Eighty minutes later, my body feels loose and relaxed. The eucalyptus from the oil energises my skin in a similar way to peppermint oil — though, I remind myself, that might be the healing powers of the stones. A 70-minute facial follows, starting with cleansing and exfoliation followed by a honey mask and then a massage with ruby-infused rose oil. After the procedure, cooled jade stones are gently rolled over my face. “In the Orient, jade is believed to bring good health and fortune,” Laraine explains. Whatever the stones represent, they definitely make a refreshing addition to the treatment. After my 150 minutes are up, I explore the spa’s other facilities, including sauna, circulation shower and steam room. I also have a sneak peek at the spa’s much-talked-about Dead Sea Floatation Pool, which is housed in its own treatment room and used exclusively in Saray’s Signature Dead Sea Journey. Upon leaving, I am given an aromatic candle to take back into the bustling world outside. Regardless of whether you believe in the powers of precious stones, the experience certainly does what it promises. And I will definitely be making a return visit — that Dead Sea Floatation Pool looks all too inviting. n

The important bit What: Jewels of Arabia Journey Where: Saray Spa, JW Marriott Marquis Dubai Cost: AED 1,620 (US $441) Book: +971 4 414 0000 www.marriott.com

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ON THE ROAD

ASTON MARTIN V12 VANTAGE S

Engine: 6.0-litre V12 Power: 565 bhp Torque: 620 Nm 0-100kph: 3.9 secs Top speed: 330 kph Origin: Gaydon, UK Cost: GBP 138,000 (US $212,000

If you weren’t one of the lucky few who managed to snap up an Aston Martin One-77, here’s a chance to get your hands on the next best thing. The new V12 Vantage S is the fastest production vehicle to emerge from the Aston Martin stable, with a new seven-speed Sportshift III AMT (automatic manual transmission) gearbox and a new exhaust system, derived from the One-77, that accentuates the roar of the massive V12 engine. The interior is also modelled after the limited-edition hypercar, and the 10-spoke alloy wheels appear to have come straight from the racetrack.


MASERATI GHIBLI S Q4 Engine: 3.0-litre twin-turbo V6 Power: 410 bhp Torque: 550 Nm 0-100kph: 4.8 secs Top speed: 284 kph Origin: Modena, Italy Cost: TBA

Despite sounding like a character from The Lord of the Rings, the new Maserati Ghibli is set to become a reality. The sporty fourdoor is Maserati’s first ever attempt at a mid-size sedan, with design elements that resemble the larger Quattroporte and sportier touches that hint at the GranTurismo and the classic Maserati A6 GCS from the ’50s. The top-spec Ghibli S Q4 has a twin-turbo engine with all-wheel drive system and eight-speed transmission.

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Motoring

Ignition

THE SMARTER CAR Sleek design, athletic-performance and a bundle of technology make the Mercedes-Benz SL 500 Roadster the ultimate driving companion WORDS: Joe Mortimer

THE line between high performance and luxury has been blurred in recent years, as carmakers around the world (but let’s face it, mainly in Europe) grow increasingly competitive. There are supercars with luxurious interiors, and luxury saloons that behave like sports cars, but invariably, the carmakers fall short in at least one aspect of these hybrid animals. Trust the Germans to put an end to that. Mercedes-Benz has been making automobiles for longer than most, and its no surprise that they have become very good at it. Enter the SL 500 Roadster, a mediumsized convertible with a hardtop roof that disappears into its rather attractive rear-end in seconds to reveal a sleek and streamlined vehicle that is a delight to behold. The muscular front end, with wide air intakes low to the ground and signature SL air vents on the hood and sides, makes the SL 500 look like a refined version of the SLS with a few more curves and a more mature look. Matte-finish gunmetal grey paint with polished aluminium accents 90

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give the car a serious and slightly aggressive finish, and the AMG body kit, low-profile run-flat tyres and sweeping lines running down the contoured exterior give the impression of constant motion. Inside, the seats are upholstered in rich nut brown nappa leather and the dash is finished in hand-stitched black leather with dark brushed aluminium trim. The central console belies the complexity of the onboard computer, and the optional Harman Kardon speakers can convert the entire interior into a surround sound multimedia booth. It’s a masculine environment that will appeal to technology fans and drivers alike. The driver’s seat can be adjusted to provide the right environment for various conditions: a comfortable configuration for touring, or a firm, upright posture for more demanding driving, for example. Dynamic seat controls that apply pressure in the opposite direction to the body’s movement when cornering can be turned on or off at any time, as can the in-seat massage system with four different settings.

NUTS & BOLTS Engine: 4.6-litre V8 BiTurbo Power: 435 bhp 0-100kph: 4.6 secs Top speed: 250 kph (limited) Origin: Stuttgart, Germany Cost: from US $116,300. This model $141,553

Driving the SL 500 with the Driving Assist package feels like you have a co-pilot sat with you every step of the way. Vibrations in the steering wheel and on-screen warnings alert you if you stray into another lane, get too close to the car in front, or if there is a car in your blind spot when you indicate to change lanes, allowing you to concentrate on more important things – like driving. You can almost feel the engineering that went into creating the 4.6-litre V8 when you drive the SL 500. It is a powerful but refined engine that drives like a mature city car until instructed otherwise, at which point it will propel you forward to the electronically limited 250 kph in very little time at all.

If I had one complaint it would be that the big V8 engine seems too quiet, even with the top down, and the seven-speed tiptronic paddles were quite slow to respond when in Manual mode. It is at medium speeds that the SL 500 seems to excel, gripping the road like a track athlete around tight corners and lunging ahead when called upon to do so, and even with the AMG sports suspension, the ride is smooth. Make no mistake, the SL 500 is not a supercar; rather, it’s a sleek, sporty roadster that is suave and sophisticated on the outside, and intelligent and thoughtful inside. Its adaptable performance means it can be naughty or nice depending on your mood, and it looks very, very good. It might just be the perfect partner. ■


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Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, Maldives

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L i v e t h e L eg e n d at a p h r o d i t e h i L L s


The beautiful, sun-drenched island of Cyprus is steeped in myth, legend and tradition and has countless wonders within its shores. Nestled in the midst of a protected forest, located just 10 miles east of Pafos and overlooking the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean Sea, the award-winning five-star Aphrodite Hills Resort is one of those unique and awe-inspiring wonders. This luxurious 234-hectare resort is magnificently positioned on two plateaux divided by a dramatic ravine, and commands breathtaking views of the legendary birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, where it is said she emerged from the waves. The first of its kind in Cyprus, Aphrodite Hills Resort is an opulent and idyllic escape for families and couples alike. Its diverse range of first-class facilities offers something to suit each and every visitor; whether it’s relaxation, sports facilities, fine dining, entertainment or top quality business amenities you desire, the resort offers it all. At the heart of the resort, the charming and picturesque Village Square has a diverse selection of shops including car and bike rentals, a supermarket, Costa Coffee and Häagen-Dazs. There is also a wonderful variety of bars and restaurants to choose from and a 24-hour medical centre. Every year, many festivals, markets, holidays and charity events are celebrated at the Village Square. The quaint and enchanting St. Catherine’s Chapel, adjacent to the Square, is a blissful and heavenly setting for the perfect wedding or christening. The five-star InterContinental Hotel stands proudly at the heart of the resort and fabulously blends the classic with the contemporary. Ideal for couples and families, the hotel is the perfect getaway, offering a selection of 290 luxurious guest rooms and suites, all complete with high-quality amenities and 24-hour room service. The elegant interior style combines a subtle fusion of modern design and traditional Cypriot décor and each room features private terraces with a pool, garden, golf or sea view. Hand-carved solid wood cabinets and traditional Cypriot ceramics crafted by local artisans introduce a natural warmth and sophistication to each room. Suites offer the option of additional interconnecting rooms, perfect for young families, and there’s the added choice of an outdoor jacuzzi or a private plunge pool overlooking the golf fairways and the Mediterranean Sea beyond. The majestic 18-hole championship golf course is spread over 6,299 metres offering a challenging mix of terrain. Catering to all ages and abilities, the three-hole golf academy allows both new and seasoned players to learn or improve their game and the team of resident PGA-qualified golf professionals can provide valuable tuition. A driving range, pitching and chipping green, clubhouse and lounge, and a pro-shop complete the world-class golf facilities. The resort is also home to the award-winning Retreat Spa. Expert therapists provide the ultimate in top-to-toe pampering in an exquisite and tranquil setting with 27 treatment rooms, a health club, hair salon, thermae, pool, sundeck, gardens and the Spa Restaurant and Juice Bar. There is a multitude of individual treatments ranging from cleansing and relaxation to massages, hydrotherapy, manicures and aromatherapy. The Annabel Croft Tennis Academy, which has nine floodlit championship tennis courts, hosts numerous tournaments throughout the year and events and classes for all ages and abilities, including classes by Annabel herself. The on-site pro shop offers a diverse range of tennis equipment and clothing, while Annabel’s Bar is a welcome haven in which to relax after a game. There are also two nearby exclusive beach clubs at child-friendly beaches, as well as nature trails, horse riding facilities, mountain biking, live music shows, movie nights, outdoor evening entertainment. The list of activities, events and facilities available at Aphrodite Hills Resort goes on, but one thing is for certain - there is something for each and every visitor at this amazing and unique resort.

INTERCONTINENTAL APHRODITE HILLS RESORT HOTEL Aphrodite Avenue, Kouklia, 8509 Pafos, Cyprus Tel: +357 26 829 000 n Fax: +357 26 829 001 n E-mail: ic.cyprus@aphroditehills.com n www.intercontinental.com/aphrodite or www.aphroditehills.com


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On the grapevine

Contributing editor Mary Gostelow rounds up the latest news, gossip and insider tips from the world of luxury hospitality Maldives private island In the Maldives archipelago, the exclusive Velaa Private Island resort is scheduled to open this November under the leadership of general manager Hans Cauchi, who is also a minor partner in the venture. The 43-villa resort, whose name translates as ‘turtle’ after the native fauna of the island, will feature a ‘My Blend by Clarins’ spa. The main shareholder and developer in the venture is Czech entrepreneur and billionaire Jirí Šmejc. www.velaaisland.com

Fairmont comes to Ajman Nestled in a relatively undiscovered part of the UAE, Fairmont Ajman will open in March 2014. Under general manager Henny Schaeffer, the 252-room hotel will be located between The Ajman Palace and the Kempinski Hotel Ajman. WiFi has been promised throughout the 2,000 square metres of indoor function areas, as well as outdoors and on the 250-metre beach. www.fairmont.com

Indigo Hotels go bespoke

IHG’s boutique Indigo brand is now designing its hotels to reflect the theme of their immediate locale. The Hotel Indigo San Diego Del Mar, for instance, has a lobby and upper terrace that recall the ocean, to complement its beachside location. Hotel Indigo Bangkok, which opens in 2014, will feature designs that reflect the world of radio broadcasting as a tribute to its location on Wireless Road. Facilities at the 180-room hotel will include a rooftop bar. www.hotelindigo.com

Big plans for Stanley Ranch The former Stanley Ranch, at the southern end of California’s Napa Valley, has been producing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir since 1888. Now a 195-room hotel, with extensive meeting and spa facilities, is being planned by recently formed SKB Hotel Group, of which former Mandarin Oriental CEO Robert Riley is president. The 38-hectare site will undergo a US $275 million redevelopment starting in spring 2014. www.skbcos.com dotwnews.com

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VIP THE OPEN WORLD FUND INAUGURATION, CANNES

Anna Zhukov takes us behind the scenes at the star-studded inauguration party for Open World Fund at the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc EVENT I was invited to celebrate the launch of Open World Fund, an independent organisation established to support and promote Russia’s film industry. What better place to launch such a glamorous initiative than the Hôtel du Cap-Eden-Roc on the Cap d’Antibes in the South of France? This is just one of many high-profile events that took place during the Cannes International Film Festival, which makes Cannes one of the most exciting places in the world to visit each spring.

Models showcasing Chopard jewellery InterContinental Carlton Cannes


AMBIANCE After the inaugural speech, the black carpet was rolled out for demure models draped in dazzling gowns by Yanina and glittering in Chopard jewellery, which infused even more glamour to the party. The beautiful location on the Cap d’Antibes, combined with the free-flowing champagne, music from DJ Sylvain Armand and endless conversations meant that many of my fellow guests and I chose to forgo the afterparty at Gotha, the hottest summertime club on La Croisette.

RUB SHOULDERS WITH Among the guests were film producers, directors, cinema owners, media moguls, presenters, investors and Russian aristocracy, all hosted by the elegant Elena Romanova, co-founder of Open World Fund.

STAY

The Carlton Terrace Bâoli Cannes

If you want to meet the jet set, shy away from hordes of onlookers, but still be in the centre of all the action, you should check in at the InterContinental Carlton Cannes. The elegant Belle Époque hotel is steps away from all the boutiques and the action on La Croisette, and is a popular hotspot for parties and intimate meetings. Many celebrities enjoy staying here, perhaps because of the private beach and pier.

DINE On the lobby level of the Carlton is the popular Bar des Célébrités. It boasts an incredible menu, with autographed messages left by famous patrons. Signature drinks include the Lady Carlton, created in honour of an English Lady who lived at the hotel for 25 years. Bâoli Cannes is a superb setting to escape for a relaxed luncheon or a chilled night out.

AFTER DARK Music fills the air after dusk, as guests mingle on the Carlton Terrace to savour the unrivalled views of the moonlit Bay of Cannes. On the night after the event, I invited my friends to join me here for a long soirée of aperitifs, good conversation and an enjoyable dinner of fresh native Belon oysters and perfectly chilled Palmes d’Or Vintage Rosé champagne.

MUST-DO Make sure you’re ready for your close-up and keep your oversized sunglasses handy – photographers are everywhere and they’re likely to assume you are a celebrity. You will be saying bonjour and au revoir to the glitterati and paparazzi from dawn to dusk.

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

Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto

T

Mary Gostelow

TORONTO

Luxury travel connoisseur

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oronto always has plenty of boutique and lifestyle hangouts opening or about to open, but here are three sparkling new hotels from recognised luxury brands. All are central and ideal for those heading to the city’s annual film or jazz festivals, or those visiting for business and the enormous wealth of art and culture in this lovely metropolis. In alphabetical order, Four Seasons Hotel Toronto leads the trio. It is billed as the flagship of the company, which has its global headquarters here. Owning company Kingdom Holding has spent no small fortune on this 55-floor block, which opened in October 2012 under general manager Dimitrios Zarikos. The 259-room hotel stretches up to the 21st floor, with 210 residential apartments above. Toronto-based design firm Yabu Pushelberg has made a statement with this hotel. The lobby soars skywards, emphasising vertical lines, while metrewide dandelion mobiles hanging above the front desk give it a feminine touch. There is also a lady’s touch in the mezzanine restaurant, Café Boulud, run by Daniel Boulud. Here Rosalie Wise, wife of Four Seasons founder Isadore Sharpe, has gone pretty wild, with two-metre high pop-art wall renderings by street artist MBW (right). Rooms are typically Yabu Pushelberg, with soft walnut-cream colours and cream bed linens. Head for the 17-room spa, which features Canadian granite, and the indoor pool, lined with blue motherof-pearl tiles. Also allow some time for browsing the Yorkville boutiques within a few minutes’ walk of the hotel. www.fourseasons.com

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Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto, run by GM Richard Cooke, is in a 65-floor tower in the heart of Toronto on University Avenue. The small, three-floor house behind the hotel is home to Soho House Toronto, an extension of the ultra-trendy Londonbased Soho House Club (hotel guests need to be Club members to access this hangout). The 202-room hotel is on the first 17 floors, with 334 residences above. Designer James Cheng has created a lobby that flows over glass-topped floor panels (with real fish swimming beneath) past a Fazioli grand piano, two finches called Ronnie and Reggie in their hanging cage and an all-day buzz of locals sitting, talking, drinking and meeting. Room 1741, with lovely west-facing views perfect for watching the sunset over the financial area, is decorated in beige, avocado and aubergine. You have a Momofuku restaurant next door and all-day dining in house, as well as a 24-hour gym and a 20-metre pool that opens at six every morning. www.shangri-la.com For a hotel with ‘wow’ factor, check into Trump International Hotel & Tower Toronto. Enter the lobby of this 65-floor block and you look across a sea of black marble to an end wall of (more) black marble, embellished with a nine-by-threemetre collage of crystal twigs. The 261-room hotel stretches from the ground floor up to the 34th, with 118 residences above, and is presided over by general manager Mickael Damelincourt. Visitors and locals alike hurry to STOCK Restaurant Bar & Lounge on the 31st floor, a brilliant Elizabeth Blau creation. The two-floor wood-andlight restaurant, with a mezzanine at one end, is buzzing day and evening, and has stunning food and a sensational wine list. There are also bank-breaking whiskies in the ground floor bar. Keep fit in the two-floor Quartz Crystal Spa and the 20-metre salt-water infinity pool, with stunning patterned marble surrounding it. Room 2214, a corner suite finished in soft taupe and eggplant, has a working fire. www.trumphotelcollection.com Four Seasons Hotel Toronto




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