TOUGH AT THE TOP
Fighting talk with Marriott’s Ed Fuller
One of Europe’s most charming cities
Experience is the latest luxury
Explore the three royal cities of ancient Indochina
The perfect honeymoon
Desroches Island’s Kenneth Collins
SUITE DREAMS Six Senses Zighy Bay
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Contents June 2011
On the cover 40 Royal Indochina Hue, Phnom Penh and Luang Prabang are the stunning settings for an exciting new luxury scene
46 The last dance Nicci Perides gets under the skin of
Vienna – one of Europe’s most enduring and traditional cities
54 Inside Ethiopia Experience is the newest form of luxury, says Jo Foley, who was overwhelmed by Ethiopia
Glory days The royal palaces of Indochina’s main cities are awash with golden temples and effigies
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Contents June 2011
64 In the news 18 Retrospective On the red carpet at the Cannes Film Festival 20 Europe A new chapter begins for the Emerald Isle of Ireland 22 Middle East & Africa Qatar Executive jets take off 26 Asia & Oceania Theme park boom-time for Asia 30 Americas Mexico reassures tourists it’s safe to visit
34 Trends New travel and tourism concepts making the news 38 Interview Marriott president Ed Fuller on life in the danger zone
62 Diary Out and about this month? Don’t miss these events 64 Spend it The latest itineraries from the world’s top hotels 68 Debut Keeping tabs on the latest hotel openings around the world 70 Suite dreams Six Senses Zighy Bay & Mandarin Oriental Singapore 76 Family luxury Gemma Greenwood on long-haul travel with kids 78 Connoisseur Mary Gostelow immerses herself in stylish Milan 80 Album Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, CEO, Vivre Inc, shares her top spots 82 Final Word Kenneth Collins from Desroches Island, Seychelles
Letter from the Editor There are some obvious perks in The life of a travel editor. One of them is the fact that we get to travel to some fantastic destinations, usually at someone else’s expense, and stay at some of the best hotels in the world. And we get paid for it. Another is that we are lucky enough to get to meet and chat to some of the leading names in the travel and hospitality business – the men and women behind the best hotels in the world, and the most heart-stopping destinations. There are few greater opportunities to meet so many of these travel celebs than at the annual arabian Travel market, which takes place in Dubai in May and attracts exhibitors and buyers from around the world, who come to share the latest travel secrets. This year I had the pleasure of meeting two of today’s most influential hoteliers – sir rocco forte and Gordon Campbell Gray – the gentlemen behind some of the most exciting new hotels of the era. After starting from scratch in the late 90s, Sir Rocco Forte has built up a small empire of 13 extremely stylish hotels in Europe, and has just revealed plans to open five more in the Middle East, which is very exciting news for those of us who live here. Gordon Campbell Gray has a similarly exquisite collection of “little masterpieces” as he likes to call them, the most recent of which is le Gray in Beirut. Despite reservations from some of his friends when he revealed plans to open a hotel in beirut, Le Gray was an overnight success in the ‘Paris of the Middle East’, and he has since made the city his home. I met many other influential and interesting people during the event, but I mention these two because they are so distinctive. Their hotels bear a tangible sense of their own character, and their observations are those of individuals, rather than corporations, which is refreshing in our line of work. Destinations of the World News hosted a seminar at ATM that asked whether there is room for children at luxury resorts. Four leading industry figures joined ‘our man in Brussels’, senior editor Andy Round, who flew in to debate the issue and ask whether hotels should be doing more to cater to children - the paying customers of tomorrow - or exploring opportunities to make resorts ‘adult only’. Visit dotwnews.com to read how it went.
Meanwhile, our deputy editor Caitlin Cheadle caught up with kenneth Collins, CEO of Collins Properties, which owns and manages the much talked-about Desroches island in the Seychelles, where newlyweds the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge were rumoured to be honeymooning (although it turned out they were on nearby North Island). The South African entrepreneur shared some reflections about operating what is considered to be among the top luxury escapes in the world on page 82. Over in Europe, assistant online editor Nicci Perides had the pleasure of talking to Elizabeth Gurtler, the owner of the famed sacher hotel and the Spanish Riding School in vienna, and called in at a launch party for the new art installations at the city’s flagship swarovski store. Read what she had to say about one of Europe’s most traditionalist cities on page 46. I finished off the month in Bangalore at Destination britain and ireland 2011, an annual event organised by UK tourism board visitbritain and Tourism ireland. It was the first time I have travelled to a country in order to learn more about another destination, but it worked, and I’m hooked. Even though I visit the uk regularly, I have never felt as much excitement as I did during the event. Look out for the next issue of this magazine, in which we will find out exactly what’s going on in London over the coming year, ahead of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. In the meantime, happy travels.
Joe Mortimer Editor email@example.com
emerald isle The Cliffs of Moher are one of Ireland’s most stunning natural landscapes
Contributors June 2011, Issue 60
Nicci Perides has worked for several travel titles in the UK and has often found herself in sticky situations, all in the name of journalism: hiking a live volcano spewing lava in the dark in Guatemala, or being chased by elephants in Burkino Faso while camping. She has now swapped her tent for fivestar hotels and joined DOTWNews.com to explore the more luxurious side of travel. Last month, Nicci visited the Austrian capital Vienna to find out why the city remains one of Europe’s timeless greats. Read her story on page 46.
Deputy editor Caitlin Cheadle packed her things and left her native Vancouver nearly three years ago, after catching the travel bug while backpacking through Europe. Although she misses the wide-open spaces, mountains and fresh air of her Canadian roots, she’s happy to stay in Dubai as long as she can travel frequently - which she does. This month she visited the stunning Six Senses Zighy Bay in Oman’s Musandam Peninsula. Find out what she thought of the luxurious desert hideaway on page 70.
Lucy Taylor has been in the UAE since 2007, writing for various travel and food magazines. Last year, she hung up her hospitality hat, stashed her notebook and joined Dubai’s Arabian Radio Network as a news editor and presenter. But sometimes the travel bug still bites: recent adventures include hiking up to Annapurna basecamp in Nepal, braving the cold in snowy Paris, and most recently, a city break in stunning Singapore. Discover what she made of the new Bay Suite at Mandarin Oriental Singapore on page 72.
Gemma Greenwood is a freelance travel journalist and editorial consultant who recently gave up a full-time position in Dubai to take care of her firstborn daughter back home in Essex in the UK. Far from stopping her from travelling, being a mum appears to be opening up new doors for Gemma and her daughter, who seems to be catching the travel bug just like her mum. Read how they got on during their first long-haul flight, from London to Sydney, in our new column about family travel on page 76.
Publisher Anna Zhukov firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Editor Andy Round email@example.com Editor Joe Mortimer firstname.lastname@example.org Deputy Editor Caitlin Cheadle email@example.com Assistant Online Editor Nicci Perides firstname.lastname@example.org Assistant Sales Manager Andrea Tsiachtsiri email@example.com Art Director Fami Bakkar firstname.lastname@example.org Multimedia Director Salimah Hirji email@example.com Multimedia Executive Vandita Gaurang firstname.lastname@example.org United Kingdom Sales Representative David Hammond email@example.com Circulation department firstname.lastname@example.org Cover image Buddhist temple, Cambodia – Getty
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ollywood super-couple Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie pose for photographers on their way to the screening of Tree of Life at the 64th Cannes Film Festival, which won the prestigious Palm d’Or award. The annual film festival, held in Cannes in the French Riviera, this year from May 11 - 22, is the highlight of the social calendar for the French resort, and hotels are fully-booked months in advance. Film critics, media, movie executives, actors, and of course those hoping to rub shoulders with celebrities come from all over the world for the event. Day and night the Croisette is alive with parties, overflowing bars and restaurants, and crowds hoping to catch a glimpse of their favourite stars. This year, president of the Jury Robert De Niro had the locals giggling when he addressed his jury panel, which included actor Jude Law and actress Uma Thurman, as “mes champignons”, or “my mushrooms”. We assume he meant “compagnons” (companions). And of course what would an internationally renowned event be without a little controversy? This year it came in the form of British actor Keith Allen’s film Unlawful Killing, in which the death of Princess Diana and her partner Dodi Al Fayed is depicted and the British press are reprimanded for their ruthless tactics.
Sectiony title Retrospective
Ireland set to cash in on Olympics The Irish government has launched a Visa Waiver Programme that will allow tourists from 14 nations to enter Ireland with a British visa, in a bid to cash in on the surge in visitor numbers to the UK expected in the next 18 months. From July 2011, visitors from countries including Russia, India, China, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Turkey will not be required to apply for a separate visa for Ireland, making travel to the Emerald Isle easier and cheaper. “Given the large number of tourists annually visiting the UK, and in particular those who will visit for the 2012 Olympics, Ireland risks losing out on a substantial tourism spin-off,” said Ireland Justice Minister Alan Shatter on launching the programme last month. National tourism board Tourism Ireland said that with the Visa Waiver Programme in place and other benefits such as a lower rate on Value Added Tax (VAT) on all tourism products, there has never been a better time to visit Ireland. “It has never been more cost effective,” said Jim Paul, director, new and developing markets, Tourism Ireland.
“Prices have not only dropped but exchange rates have also become stronger; the Euro has weakened against a lot of other currencies.” Ireland’s international image was given a boost last month with visits from two of the world’s leading political icons – Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and US President Obama.
recently opened as a hotel after a six-year conversion. The 200-year-old, 15-suite hotel is set at the foot of the Slieve Bloom Mountains amid 600 acres of parkland in County Laois, one-and-a-half hours from Dublin airport, and you can hire the entire estate for EUR 14,500 (US$20,530) per night.
“It has never been more cost effective. Prices have not only dropped but exchange rates have also become stronger; the Euro has weakened against a lot of other currencies” “Queen Elizabeth has been on the throne for 59 years, and Ireland is one of the few countries she [had] not visited… there is major interest because it’s so historical,” said Tourism Ireland chief executive Niall Gibbons. Apart from its abundance of natural beauty, Ireland has a wealth of attractions for visitors, from more than 300 golf courses (Ireland is home to 30 percent of the world’s links golf courses) to luxurious castles and country houses such as the lovingly restored Ballyfin, which
Visitor numbers to Ireland fell to a 12-year low in 2010, but Tourism Ireland believes that the Republic will benefit from the surge in visitors to the UK in the build-up to the London 2012 Olympic Games, as well as reduced hotel rates, both of which are expected to have a positive impact on visitor arrivals. Tourism Ireland recently took part in ‘Destination Britain and Ireland 2011’ in Bangalore, where tourism professionals met with 120 tour operators from the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa regions.
The latest in luxury travel… Lufthansa rolls out major upgrades luFthansa has launched a series of new investment initiatives to improve its product offering for its intercontinental passengers. The German national carrier has already begun to introduce its all-new first class cabins on its new A380 aircraft, and will retrofit its entire fleet of A330 and A340 aircraft by the end of 2014, as well as its B747-400 aircraft, which fly to Dubai, by the end of this year. Business and Economy class are also in line for an upgrade, with an entirely new
business class cabin planned to coincide with the launch of the airline’s new Boeing 7478i aircraft. The remainder of the airline’s fleet will be retrofitted with the new business class over the coming years to ensure product consistency across all its aircraft. Meanwhile, a new seat design in the economy cabin will allow for an additional 5cm of leg room on the A380 aircraft, and 70 percent of its long-haul aircraft are fitted with the ever-popular individual Inflight Entertainment (IFE) systems.
The airline’s Flynet onboard broadband internet system will also be equipped across the long-haul fleet, providing freedom in data communication while flying, including VPN, SMS and data transfer via smartphones. Lufthansa is also investing EUR 150 million (US$210 million) in upgrading its premium airport lounges around the world by 2013. In Dubai, a spacious new 65-seat Senator Lounge featuring new design elements and increased exclusivity is due to open later this month.
Fashionistas are rushing to New York as fast as their stilt-high Jimmy Choos will allow. The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institution exhibition, Alexander McQueen: Savage Beauty, which closes July 31, 2011, displays dozens of the way-out garments designed by the late, influential designer. Owned by the Pinault family’s PPR, the brand’s current frontname designer, Sarah Burton, designed ‘the’ wedding dress for Kate Middleton. The night before her wedding, the now-Duchess of Cambridge stayed with her family at the 76-room Goring Hotel, London. Through September, the 101-year old hotel – five minutes from Buckingham Palace – hosts The Goring Beach. Owner Jeremy Goring is building a beach and beach hut. The scene is managed by legendary Basil Charles of the 30-year old Basil’s Bar, on the exclusive Caribbean island of Mustique. London is ablaze, metaphorically speaking, this summer. Notting Hill Supper Club converts into Le Crazy Horse dinnerand-show, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, with 7pm and 9.30pm sessions. The original, 60-year-old Le Crazy Horse in Paris has hosted entertainers Pamela Anderson and Dita Von Teese. Deer Valley Music Festival, in Utah, runs July 16 to August 13, 2011. Best place to stay is the stunning new 174-room Montage Deer Valley. There is a 29-room spa, and try the resort’s unique Monty’s Belgian White Ale, named for its Bernese Mountain Dog culinary ambassador. The beer is brewed by Greg Shirff at Wasatch Brew Pub, on Main Street, Park City.
Britain was overwhelmed with a wave of national pride last month, as the long-awaited wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton filled the capital with flag-waving revellers and showcased the best of British pageantry across the world. The ceremony was watched by more than four billion people on TV broadcasts and live streamed footage on the Internet. National tourism board VisitBritain has not yet calculated the economic impact of the event, but says it was a huge coup for the nation’s visitor economy.
Also looking ahead, in early 2012 Wilderness Safaris, best known for North Island in the Seychelles, opens a resort in the virgin rainforest of Odzala-Kokoua National Park in the Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). This should be a must for gorilla and rainforest enthusiasts. By Mary Gostelow
Middle East & Africa
Monte Carlo heads east
The Monte-Carlo Beach Club Saadiyat will open its doors in September, bringing European haute couture to Abu Dhabi’s newest luxury destination. Modelled after the famous Monte-Carlo Beach in Monaco, the exclusive 39,500 square metre club will become Saadiyat’s trendiest destination, with a private beach lounge, kids’ area, an outdoor swimming pool and a health & fitness centre, plus three restaurants and bars. Members and visitors will also have access to the Gary Player-designed Saadiyat Beach Golf Club.
Jordan boldly goes
Plans have been unveiled for a 184-acre themed entertainment resort featuring an attraction inspired by the movie Star Trek, in the southern city of Aqaba in Jordan. The Red Sea Astrarium (TRSA) will celebrate the heritage of the region’s past civilisations, as well as looking to the future to promote green energy and renewable technology. The new resort will also feature five-star hotels, theatrical productions, evening shows and a range of dining and shopping options. TRSA will also feature a “future” pavilion, where visitors can learn about alternative energy sources ranging from solar and wind energy to grey water harvesting.
W Hotels launched Global Glam, its exclusive designer clothing collection, to a crowd of fashionistas on a fleet of yachts in Qatar’s exclusive Pearl development. Inspired by the design of new and upcoming W Hotels around the world, the collection of accessories and clothing was created by some of the most sought-after designers from around the world and curated by W Hotels’ global fashion director, Amanda Ross.
Qatar Airways steps up private jet division Qatar Airways’ corporate jet division, Qatar Executive, is set to double the size of its fleet in response to huge demand for private jet travel. Qatar Executive started out with two Bombardier Challenger 605s, which were joined by a Global 5000 last October. The company has already taken delivery of a Bombardier XRS this year, and will receive a third Challenger 605 in July and a Global 5000 in August. “When Qatar Executive first began, it was a successful operation right from the start,” said Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “The travel patterns we witnessed from the onset were indicative of the pent-up demand for tailor-made and completely customised travel. It immediately became obvious that we were filling a gap in a market which has grown rapidly, particularly in the Middle East region,” he said. Private jet travel in the Middle East has grown considerably in the last 10 years, with the number of private aircraft in the region increasing from 200 in 2000 to 450 in 2009, and the Middle East Business Aviation Association said the number of private aircraft in the region will increase from 450 to 1,300 by 2020.
“The travel patterns we witnessed from the onset were indicative of the pent-up demand for tailor-made and completely customised travel”
Private jet travel is popular in the region not only with the wealthy, but as a cost-effective option for companies with requirements for multi-stop trips, or those heading to remote destinations. Passengers can book Qatar Executive services up to four hours before departure, and have access to premium lounges and check-in 10 minutes before take off. Qatar Executive operates out of a dedicated hangar facility at Doha International Airport, which features aircraft handling and dispatch services, aircraft cleaning, as well as passenger lounge facilities for visiting aircraft from other operators.
Middle East & Africa
“We promised our customers from the outset that we would eliminate the surcharge as soon as it was commercially viable and this has now been done.” Tim Clark, president, Emirates Airline, on Emirates’ decision to scrap its fuel surcharge.
“A lot of these American companies are run by accountants who are sharpening their pencils and working out the costs, not actually what matters for the customer.” Sir Rocco Forte speaking at the Arabian Travel Market in Dubai.
“There is a new Middle East in the making. The barrier of fear has been broken. The genie is out of the bottle – in fact the genie has shattered the bottle and there is no way you can get him back in.” Dr. Henry Azzam, chairman MENA, Deutsche Bank, on the implications of the regime change in Egypt.
Life’s a drag Stopping over in Abu Dhabi this month? We couldn’t think of a better way to spend your time than heading to the Yas Drag Racing School to take a 426-bhp Chevrolet Camaro SS out for a spin on the drag strip. For just US$163, you can sit with a qualified racing instructor before taking six solo runs down the drag strip in the American muscle car. The sessions break for the summer at the end of June, but resume in October when the weather cools.
Egypt launches Historic Hotels brand As the dust settles in Cairo, the Egyptian government has launched a new branded hotel collection that aims to preserve and protect some of Egypt’s most historical properties. Historic Hotels of Egypt is a collection of nine of the country’s most iconic properties, from Alexandria to Aswan, all owned by the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH). The nine hotels will receive US$368 million in investment over the next three years, which will be used to renovate 1,277 existing rooms and constructing 320 new ones. Some of the hotels in the collection will be closed for complete renovation during this period, while others will undergo minor upgrades. “This is an important day for the Egyptian hotel industry,” said Aly Abdel Aziz, president and CEO of the Holding Company for Tourism, Hotels and Cinema (HCTHC), which oversees EGOTH. “These historic buildings have now been protected by the government and will never be sold to outside investors. The iconic hotels
within this collection play an important role in Egypt’s history and it is our mission to preserve these exquisite national treasures.” The nine hotels selected to launch the brand are a mixture of independently managed properties and hotels managed by major international brands. The chosen properties are The Shepheard Hotel (Rocco Forte Hotels, 2012), The Nile Ritz-Carlton Cairo (2013), Mena House Oberoi, The Old Cataract, Aswan (Sofitel
Legend, 2011), The Winter Palace (Sofitel), the Cairo Marriott Hotel, The Luxor Hotel (2013), The Palestine Hotel, Alexandria and the Cecil Hotel, Alexandria. Aziz said more properties would be added to the Historic Hotels of Egypt brand over time. The hotels were selected for their historical or architectural significance, and many were popular choices of international figures including Sir Winston Churchill, Princess Diana and Agatha Christie.
Asia & Oceania
HK is tops
Hong Kong has been voted the best travel destination in Asia by millions of voters in TripAdvisor’s 2011 Travelers’ Choice Destinations Awards. Rated alongside New York, London and Paris, Hong Kong is the only Asian city to be rated in the top 10 travel destinations in the world.
Hotels.com, the market leader in online hotel bookings, has launched new sites in Indonesia and Vietnam, featuring highly localised and relevant content. According hotels.com president David Roche, “Indonesia and Vietnam are amongst the key growth areas for online travel”.
A man was apprehended last month by undercover antitrafficking officers at Bangkok International Airport for attempting to smuggle sedated baby animals, including leopards, panthers, monkeys and a bear, onto his first-class flight to Dubai. The man was arrested and charged with smuggling endangered species and could face up to four years in jail.
The Luxe Manor hotel in Hong Kong has launched a new English and Chinese language app for iPhone, iPod touch and iPad users, with handy City & Walks (maps, where to go and eat), Culture & Living (events, films, concerts) and Addresses (useful contact information) sections.
Free to lounge
Air China is offering complimentary lounge service to passengers arriving at Beijing Capital International Airport’s Terminal 3, during a trial period from June 1 – 15. Guests will be able to shower, use the internet and enjoy complimentary beverages for up to three hours. First and business class passengers will have priority use of the lounge.
Universal appeal Universal Studios at Resorts World Sentosa is one of many theme parks to open in the Asia-Pacific region
Asia’s theme park boom Disneyland Hong Kong, which opened in The Asia-Pacific region has become a hotbed of mega-theme park developments, with 2005, has received some negative press due Resorts World Sentosa’s Universal Studios to its reported net losses of US$169 million Singapore being the latest addition to the last year, but attendance remains very high, with a total of 20 million tourists visiting from expansive integrated resort roster. The theme park features rides based on 2005 to 2010. films Jurassic Park : The Lost World, Shrek, “A growing middle class with and Madagascar, plus themed ‘mini-towns’ disposable incomes has made the like Sci-Fi City, Hollyregion very attractive to investors wood Boulevard, and and theme park developers” New York, where guests can watch a show and grab a bite to eat. Managing director Andrew Kam insists the Meanwhile, Ice World, billed as “the world’s biggest indoor ice event”, opened its doors to losses are due to the project’s hefty developthe public in mid-May and will run at the ment sums. Built on 21 hectares of reclaimed land on Hong Kong’s Lantau Island, Kam says Venetian Macau until September 18, 2011. The hotel has spent months turning one of the required infrastructure work was substanits exhibition halls into the frozen theme park, tial, resulting in a longer payback period. Demand for theme parks in Asia-Pacific is which features a seven metre-high, three-slide play station, an Ice Age fantasy world, recrea- certainly not slowing down. A growing middle tions of iconic structures like London’s Big class with disposable incomes has made the Ben, New York’s Statue of Liberty and India’s region very attractive to investors and theme Taj Mahal, plus a Winter Forest – all carved park developers. The world’s largest Universal Studios is set from of over 9,000 blocks of ice by ‘sculpture artisans’. Down jackets and boots will be to open just outside Seoul, Korea, in 2014, and provided, and the Ice Bar will serve drinks development has recently begun on Shangai Disneyland, which is set to open in 2016. and refreshments.
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Asia & Oceania
Vietnam ups five-star game
With its beautiful unspoilt beaches, bustling main cities and the UNESCO World Heritage sight Ha Long Bay, Vietnam is fast becoming the alternative choice to touristheavy Thailand and Bali. According to Vietnam’s Tourism Report for Q1/2011, Vietnam’s rate of tourism growth and recovery since the economic slowdown has far surpassed popular destinations like Thailand and India, showing a 39 percent year-on-year increase from January to October 2010. Vietnam was the best performing country in the region in Q1/2011, indicating a promising future for tourism in the coming year, in line with a quickly developing economy, plus an influx of luxury hotels, shopping and restaurants to cater to tourists and a growing middle class. In the past five years, Vietnam has seen the opening of a host of five-star luxury properties and destination resorts, including the InterContinental Hanoi Westlake (2008), the Sofitel Metropole Hanoi (2009), Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa (2010), the Six Senses Con Dao (2011), and the brand-new Anantara Mui Ne Resort & Spa, located 198 kilometres northeast of Ho Chi Minh City on the southeast coast. Vietnam is also home to a vast collection of five-star boutique hotels, often for a fraction of the price you would find in Europe or America.
Singing red Chinese singers in Zoucheng, Shandong Province, sing ‘Red Songs’, in honour of the 90th anniversary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The Red Songs are a chance for Chinese citizens to renew their allegiance to the Party, founded in 1921 in Shanghai. Maintaining a unitary government centralising the state, military and media, the CPC is the world’s largest political party, claiming around 78 million members, and one of the world’s only remaining Communist regimes.
Six Senses Con Dao
the mONth IN NUmberS
Singapore Airlines’ profits before tax in 2010, an increase of US$701.6 million on the previous year, indicating a strong return to form.
The increase in international visitor arrivals to Asia and the Pacific for the first quarter of 2011, according to the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA).
Total revenue growth for Singapore’s tourism industry in the 2010/2011 fiscal year, according to the Singapore Tourism Board.
America’s Transportation Security Administration is planning to initiate a “trusted traveller” programme that would speed along the security procedure for selected low-risk frequent fliers, using a bar code to allow accepted fliers to pass through an expedited security line – shoes on, laptop in bag and body scanners avoided.
Mexico battles bad reputation
Direct to South America
Dubai-based Emirates Airline has announced the launch of direct flights to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Buenos Aires, Argentina, as of January 2, 2012.
Flying on the up
America’s Air Transport Association is reporting that passenger traffic, airline revenues and airfares are higher now than one year ago. US airlines reported a three percent increase in passenger traffic compared to last year, despite the cost of air travel increasing by nine percent. Overall, US airlines reported a 12 percent increase in revenue since April 2010.
United Airlines has apologised for restarting the use of flight numbers of two planes that crashed after they were hijacked by terrorists on September 11, 2001 – United flights 93 and 44. Spokesman Rahsaan Johnson stated that the reuse of the numbers was a “technical error”.
Access all areas
A new handicap-friendly resort has opened in Negril, Jamaica. Captain’s Chair Adventures, owned by wheelchair-bound Troy DeCamp and his wife Maria, caters to handicapped guests looking for a wheelchair accessible resort where they can easily partake in activities like diving and snorkelling.
still peaceful The Mexico Tourism Board hopes to woo travellers
Despite Mexico’s ongoing battle with a drug-cartel crime wave, President Felipe Calderon has proclaimed 2011 as ‘the year of tourism.’ According to the Mexico Tourism Board, nearly half of all available rooms in 70 major resort centres in Mexico have been vacant this year, although the Easter break did bring in extra travellers who had booked their holidays in advance. Just before Easter, the US State Department added four Mexican states to its list of areas to avoid, bringing the total to 10 states, including some popular tourist sites like Aculpulco, where the occupancy rate at major resorts declined another seven percent last year from 2008, bringing the total to just 38.4 percent occupancy. Cancun’s rate also dropped from 72.1 percent in 2008 to just 57.4 percent, according to the Mexico Tourism Board. With tourism providing the country’s third-largest source of revenue,
the Mexico Tourism Board is spending millions on ads to entice travellers and promote the idea that Mexico is still a safe place to travel. But with more incidences of attacks on tourists, it will be an uphill battle. Last year 111 Americans were killed in Mexico, and reports of tourists being kidnapped from hotels, held at gunpoint or extorted
suspended investing and eight percent are considering shifting their investments to other countries. In addition, the survey revealed that 88 percent of businessmen agreed that the ongoing drug-cartel crime wave should be dealt with immediately, while many have cut business trips to Mexico due to the ongoing violence.
“The Mexico Tourism Board is spending millions of Dollars on ads to entice travellers and promote the idea that Mexico is still a safe place to travel” for money have further tarnished its reputation. Cruise lines Royal Caribbean and Disney have begun to preclude Mexican ports. A recent survey of businessmen by the National Private Security Council revealed that 27 percent are reconsidering investing in Mexico, while 16 percent have
Mexico has been struggling not only with rising crime rates, but also the Swine flu pandemic of 2008/2009. In 2010, the Mexico Tourism Board launched a print, online and TV campaign in a bid to attract North American tourists, with the tagline: ‘Mexico: the place you thought you knew.”
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“The shower experience now can be pretty dramatic.” Bill Barrie, senior vice president of design and project management, Marriott, comments on the general trend in newer hotels to forego the bathtub in favour of fancy showers.
“Gas prices are probably one of the main reasons why train travel continues to go up.” Amtrak spokesman Clifford Cole on the popularity of railway travel in the US, which has seen 18 months of steady growth in passenger numbers.
“Frankly, phone revenue has declined so quickly for so long that I’ve stopped tracking it.” Kathy Penick, director of telecommunications at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square, comments on personal electronic devices like iPads and iPhones putting a major dent in hotel phone and movie rental profits.
“We went from nice 72-hour layovers, to New York to L.A. and back in a day.” Former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater comments on the impact that rising oil prices are having on airline staff.
Vegas bust could be your boon The master bedroom of the Las Vegas mansion previously owned by actor Nicolas Cage, which was recently foreclosed. If you’re looking for a luxury holiday home on the cheap, you might want to have a look in Las Vegas, where a growing number of high-end homes are selling at huge losses or are under threat of repossession by lenders. The city already has the highest rate of foreclosure filings in the US, and luxury homes priced at a fraction of the original selling price continue to flood the market.
Meetings on the move Private business meetings on the move have been an option for executives with the funds to own or hire private jets for years. Now railways are tapping into the meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) market, with Canadian rail line Rocky Mountaineer’s “travelling boardrooms” leading the way, offering not just a private setting to conduct meetings, presentations or conferences, but a unique travel experience for clients and colleagues as well. Fully customisable packages for meetings and incentives will be available for one-day and two-day charters between Vancouver and
the Canadian Rockies onboard bilevel dome coaches, with panoramic views and luxurious settings. Rocky Mountaineer Group Travel Consultants will make arrangements with partner hotels and arrange itineraries including spa, golf and wine tours in destinations like Vancouver, Whistler Mountain and Jasper, plus a host of memorable activities like Glacier helicopter tours of Banff National Park. An exclusive Parlour car with LCD screens and boardroom tables is available for meetings, and tailormade additions like cocktail receptions and headrests with company logos are also available.
Destinations: go global AmericA
Security tag towels
Tablets on the menu
now we all know these things happen. occasionally. that wonderful robe/towel/ sheet you enjoyed in your hotel room mysteriously turns up at home when you unpack your bag. it’s so embarrassing. and what to do? sometimes it’s too late to take it back or the tyranny of geography makes it impossible. Fortunately a Miami company, Linen technology tracking, has come up with a cunning plan to help save guest blushes. Very simply, it’s a washable chip embedded in those robes/towels/ sheets/etc that tracks what these material assets are up to. Hotels in Honolulu, Miami and Manhattan have already started using the system. William serbin, boss of the tracking company, said that one of the hotels stated the “loss of towels in one property had been cut by more than 70 percent, saving thousands”.
AmericA & cAnAdA
Power of four
Pop-up restaurants and shops are increasingly becoming part of our travel landscape, and usually it’s all about one venue, one idea. But we like the ambition of dishcrawl.com, which increases the concept by the power of four. it’s pretty simple: you sign up to the site and get to eat out at four different venues in one night in one city. and it’s reasonably priced – Us$26 in California covers the food costs, transport and a few personalised and curated chef-foodie discussions. already operating in new York, Montreal and miscellaneous towns in California, Dishcrawl plans to extend its reach to the singles scene.
the last time Destinations of the World news flew through atlanta it seemed as if the whole world was using an iPad. then in JFK and LaGuardia we discovered that iPads had been installed to order food to be delivered to passenger gates. at the arabian travel Market exhibition in Dubai last month, every marketer was waving them around to promote their hotel/airline/holiday/ whatever. Blimey. Well, tablets are also coming to a restaurant table near you. the e la Carte company (see what they’ve done there?) has launched an interactive restaurant tablet that serves as a menu, game station, feedback facility and payment vehicle. You get the idea, but the most interesting part is that eLC claims diners using the tablet can be upsold by up to 10 percent more than usual.
Foreign languages, eh? there’s nothing like going on a business trip and not being able to understand a single word of what’s happening. especially when it comes to signing that contract. enter stage left mytranslation.com, a simple concept for a potentially complicated problem. travellers simply post their requirements on the site and translators bid for the work with an estimated time of delivery. the site promises translation services around the clock, and your money back if you’re not satisfied. Review options on the site ensure that you can discuss the quality of work and recommend/ criticise translators to your peers. an express service is also available for just Us$0.08 a word.
HOT WiFi wonderful American Airlines says it is experimenting with new ways of streaming content from the internet to web-enabled devices. In-flight. We like. Happy days Another thumbs-up to American Airlines for introducing happy hour in their flights last month. Drinks are discounted on any flights leaving in the 5pm hour. Cheers! Opportunity knocks We love the release from Discover Egypt that said its Nile cruise folk were the “first to dab a little Princess Kate perfume behind the ears”. The scent was created by Abdullah Mahmoud using jasmine and rose.
Bags of potential
Destinations of the World News touched down in Brussels last month sans luggage. There was half an hour of tension, five minutes of form-filling and then, voila (as they say in that part of the world), it mysteriously materialised by the side of the belt. A case of black bag mistaken identity or just late leaving the plane? Who knows, but we really wished at that moment that we had flown Delta. The American airline has just introduced an online tracker to locate luggage at every stage of your flight. Imagine that – every stage of your flight. You enter your bag’s number tag information on the Delta site when you travel and if your bag decides to fly to a destination
that’s not the same as yours, you can log on for email notifications or texts to your mobile. The airline says it knows where bags are at every stage because handlers have to scan all tags every time a bag is hauled into or out of a hold or transferred within the airport. Delta plans to roll out the scheme across 18 kiosk points in American airports, but not Brussels as yet.
COPYRIgHT AIRBUS S.A.S 2011
Korean Air’s A380 was always going to be a big deal –promises of double-decker comfort with full lie-flat beds and personal partitions whet our travelling appetite, but not as much as the concept of the onboard duty-free shops. Yes. Duty-free shops on a plane. Most airlines are squeezing as many seats as they possibly can on the A380s, but that’s not Korean Air’s philosophy. The shops will take up 13 seats of space and sell everything from perfume, jewellery and watches to your favourite beverage, accessories and techie needs.
We’ve often thought that the in-flight blanket experience was riddled with design flaws; there is a danger of our toes getting cold and it usually slips off while we sleep. All these faults have been ironed out by the folks at cabincuddler.com, who have dragged the classic blanket design into the 21st century. The blanket includes an inflatable pillow, a pocket for your toes and you can wrap the top part around your body and the bottom part around your legs. Just US$19.99 – and it’s available in two colours.
New dimension Hollywood Reporter says airlines are looking at ways to bring 3D films to the in-flight experience. Fake story of the month or shape of things to come?
NOT Games up Enough social networks already. Chromaroma is an online application “designed to turn Tube travel in London into a rewarding game”. Points mean prizes? Oh behave. Too fat to fly? Southwest Airlines received a slap on the wrist after telling a female passenger and her mother they were “too flat to fly”. Apparently they weren’t amused. Eyes wide shut We can’t make up our mind about Bottega Veneta’s new leather eyemask. It looks pretty. The price is pretty rich (US$190). But we’re not sure that we want our eyes to perspire behind that hot leather… App, app and away Another day, another app. California’s Canary Hotel has just introduced SocialStay, an app that wins worse acronym award for WANTS – wishes, ambitions, needs, treats and services. “It’s like having the hotel in your pocket.” No, it’s not.
PROFILE Edwin d. FullEr
Leading by example Edwin D. Fuller has been Marriott Lodging International’s president and managing director for the last 20 years. During his tenure, he’s battled recessions, natural disasters and man-made catastrophes – and learned a thing or two about leadership
here are few people in the world who can boast a career at the head of a Fortune 500 company for almost four decades, but Marriott International Lodging president Edwin D. Fuller is one of them. He has been in the same role since 1991, and seems to have learned a thing or two about leadership along the way. The central themes of his new book, You Can’t Lead With Your Feet on the Desk, are building relationships and breaking down barriers, something he has spent most of his 39-year hospitality career doing. Successfully. And what are the secrets to building relationships and breaking down barriers? Easy, he says. Hop on a plane, shake some hands and listen to what people have to say: your employees, your business partners, your investors and your advisors. And don’t forget your friends. Fuller is big on practicing what he preaches. In almost four decades working at Marriott, the man clocked more than 10 million frequent flier miles – a feat that earned him the right to have his name painted underneath the pilot’s window on a United Airlines Boeing 747. And what else has he achieved through all this travel, other than a sizeable expense account and his name on a jumbo jet? Since he joined Marriott in 1972, the company’s revenue has increased from annual sales of US$325 million, to $7 billion, and today Marriott owns and manages more than 400 hotels, with an additional 175 currently under construction in more than 70 countries. If you ask him what his greatest assets as a leader are, he’ll probably tell you it’s his ears: “I wasn’t always a good listener and sometimes I have to be reminded to listen from time to time. Today it is more important than anything else. If you’re not out talking to the people that are doing the business, you’re truly not getting a picture of what’s happening on the ground,” he says. “I get a big thrill from being in the field rather than sitting in the corporate office. I find that when you’re in the corporate office you are not connected to the realities of the operation.” To give a simplistic overview of a business leadership philosophy that has been forged over four decades, Fuller believes the key to solid leadership is a combination of listening to colleagues and clients, adhering to corporate values and leading by example.
Born to lead Ed Fuller has seen his company grow from revenues of US$325 million to $7 billion per year
The Marriott president has been recognised with several awards throughout his career, including the Hotel Investment Forum India (HIFI) Aatithya Ratna Award, 2010; China Hotel Investment Summit, 2008 Lifetime Achievement Award; and Marriott Chairman’s Award, 1999. His educational CV is equally as impressive – Fuller earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Boston University, and completed the Harvard School of Business Advanced Management Program, for starters. He also served as a Captain in the US Army, and it was during the time he spent serving in Vietnam that he learned to keep his head in a high-pressure scenario. Ever since, Fuller has demonstrated a flair for crisis management, and has seen the company through more than his fair share of natural and man-made disasters. He was on the scene in Jakarta in 2003 and 2009 after bombs were detonated outside the JW Marriott hotel there, killing tens and wounding hundreds more, and he has jumped on a plane and visited the scene of almost every disaster that has struck before and after, from tsunamis in Southeast Asia to civil uprisings in Cairo. Most recently, he was on the ground in Baghdad, scoping out the city to help assess whether the time had come to raise a Marriott flag in the Iraqi capital – not a task you’d expect every company president to volunteer for. “Had I never been to Vietnam, I might have been more fearful of Baghdad, but I was actually relatively comfortable once I saw the military around me,” he says.
“I have never looked at business as a battlefield, but I have taken some rules that you may apply in that way. I cannot operate if I am fighting battles on three or four fronts” “But to me it was a calculated risk and to me it was the right thing to do. I think part of what you’re supposed to do as a manager and a leader is to back your people up. That doesn’t have to be the drama of Baghdad – it’s the willingness to get out of the office and, when one of your people is struggling with a challenge, back them up.” Fuller’s conversation is peppered with military terms relating to “digging in” and being “under fire” or “in the field”, so it’s no wonder his reputation as a business strategist, crisis manager and leader precedes him, but he assures me that the similarities between the battlefield and the hospitality industry don’t apply to every part of the business, or his job. “I have never looked at business as a battlefield, but I have taken some rules that you may apply in that way,” he explains. “I cannot operate if I am fighting battles on three or four fronts. So when that’s the case, I always take a breath, get one problem solved, then look at another, and then deal with the other two. If you try to deal with all four at once, the war is lost.”
But the key to good leadership is not only about being at the sharp end of business; being a successful leader when the world is calm requires an entirely different tact, one that Fuller also seems to have nailed. The art of leadership, he says, comes down to setting a good example for others to follow, and learning from the failures, as well as the successes. It is in this context that he often refers to company founder Bill Marriot, who opened his first hotel in 1958, and lived by the company values he set down until his death in 1985. What it all really comes down to, he says, is forming and managing relationships – with colleagues, with business partners and with those that look to you for direction and guidance. “In short, relationships are the currency of every culture,” he writes. “Whether the connections are made and cultivated by a prince working to help his favourite charities, or by a CEO hoping to win the loyalty of his associates, the bonds between people are a company’s lifeblood, the wax used to seal the social contract. And they rarely form behind a desk.”
Cities of gold The three royal cities of ancient Indochina in Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos make a stunning setting for an emerging luxury scene that blends modern elegance with classic Southeast Asian charm WORDS: Pamela McCourt-Francescone
Rest in peace Itâ€™s hard to match the opulence of the Mausoleum of Emperor Khai Dinh in Hue, Vietnam
hey were once glittering capitals of powerful kingdoms, but Luang Prabang in Laos, Hue in Vietnam and Phnom Penh in Cambodia have more in common than their colourful dynastic pasts. They are all on rivers (Hue on the Perfume River and the other two on the mighty Mekong), all three have royal compounds that have become major tourist attractions, and they are all in countries with strong Buddhist traditions. They are also some of Southeast Asia’s best value-for-money destinations, where luxury accommodation is a fraction of the price of Europe or the Americas and, those in the know will agree, three of its most charming and unspoilt destinations. As soon as you arrive at each city you find time moving at a disarmingly slow pace, and you can’t believe how good it feels. Then you are hit by the majesty, history and spirituality that is interwoven into the social fabric, and by the unparalleled beauty of the traditional architecture, palaces and temples. Despite the intrusion of tourism, the people of these former kingdoms have resolutely held on to their age-old lifestyle and practices, and are eager and willing to share them with visitors. You find this anchoring to the past in their customs and rituals, in their crafts and pursuits and in their gastronomic traditions. Food is omnipresent. At all hours of the day, steaming bowls of soup, grilled meats and fish, mounds of fresh vegetables and the ubiquitous noodles can be found on every street corner. And if you don’t follow your nose, sit down at the low stools and tables cluttering the roadside, and try dishes that have been handed down for centuries; wellkept secrets to be enjoyed without question. Visiting local markets is another way to feel the heartbeat of these cities. In the morning market off Luang Prabang’s main street, named after the 18th-century monarch Sisavangvong, fresh produce is artfully piled on the roadside with a liberal sprinkling of edibles that may not be for all tastes, such as skewered and grilled frogs, serpents, bats, crickets and worms. Hue’s Dong Ba market spills over with food stalls and is a great place for picking up Vietnamese conical hats, pottery and artisan bamboo crafts. You can find anything from silks to chainsaws in the Russian market in Phnom Penh, and, although getting through the labyrinth of narrow alleyways takes time and patience, the colourful sights, intoxicating aromas and friendly greetings make it worth more than any bargain.
Cross cultures The ancient doors of Luang Prabang’s New Temple
Golden age The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia is still the most lavish structure in town
Another good reason for rising at dawn is to watch the alms processions of Buddhist monks as, in single file, they walk barefoot through the streets in their orange robes, accepting sticky rice and other offerings from the townspeople. This mystical moment gains further depth when seen through the swirling morning mists of Luang Prabang in the mountains of central Laos. Although it is a pint-sized city, don’t be fooled into thinking that you can see Luang Prabang in a day. Originally it was a series of small settlements built around temples, then in 1867 the French arrived and introduced their own elegant brand of Colonial architecture. But the true soul of this former independent kingdom is to be found in its temples, the Wat Xieng Thong being the most exquisite example of the characteristic architecture; its elegantly sweeping roofs and mosaic-decorated gables captivate the eyes.
The Royal Palace, like much else in town, is on the main street, and is now a museum. One of the oldest hotels, the Villa Santi, has royal ties as the owner married a princess from Luang Prabang. And Villa Maly, once the residence of a Lao king’s grandson and the first of his seven wives, is now an elegant boutique hotel. Set in lush gardens with a swimming pool, it has 33 guestrooms in five buildings, one of which, the Plumeria, was once the royal couple’s abode. Philippe Conod, who runs tour operating company Asian Trails’ Laos offices, says it is definitely worth visiting the Pak Ou caves upriver on the Mekong to marvel at their hundreds of Buddha statues. “Travelling on the river is so much nicer than sitting on a bus. And, as Laos was once called the ‘Kingdom of the Million Elephants’, a ride on an elephant’s back through forests and rivers is another experience not to be missed.”
â€œOriginally Luang Prabang was a series of settlements built around temples. Then in 1867 the French arrived and introduced their own brand of elegant Colonial architectureâ€?
Temple guardians Ferocious dragons guard the Museum Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos
“Phnom Penh stands out like a sore thumb from the many Asian cities whose personality has been flattened by globalisation” Yet another must-do is to chill out at the small cafés and restaurants along the banks of the Mekong to sample the delicious local cuisine and excellent Lao Beer. Hue, which was the capital of the Nguyen kings for over 250 years, feels lost in time and is, after Hanoi, Vietnam’s most culturally profound destination. While nearby Hoi An wins kudos and travellers for its beautifully preserved Old Town, there is much greater depth to Hue thanks to the heritage left by the Nguyens, who built munificent temples, hundreds of pagodas and a royal compound within three walled cities. “Go to one of the tombs of the Nguyen kings, but don’t go to see it. Go to feel it,” says Jim Sullivan, who works in communications for the La Résidence Hotel and Spa, and who lived in Hue recently for four years. “Stay not the requisite one hour but four hours, at the Tomb of Minh Mang, for example. Bring a book. Be there when it rains. Sit under an eave and contemplate the curtain of rain. Hue is a place where poetry, not commerce, rules the day.” Visit Hue’s citadel by hopping onto a cyclo (cycle rickshaw), but hold on tight as the drivers vie at racing visitors around the perimeter of the monument before dropping them off at the drawbridge entrance to the Forbidden Purple City, the enclosure that was once the residence of the imperial family. Overlooking the citadel on the banks of the Perfume River, the beguilingly handsome La Résidence Hotel and Spa is elegant yet homely. Built in 1930 as the official residence of the French governor, this distinguished colonial villa has 122 heritage guestrooms with Art Deco furniture, suites with four-poster beds, a spa and fine dining. Hue is, after all, the cradle of Vietnam’s finest cuisine. Phnom Penh stands out like a sore thumb from the many Asian cities whose personality has been flattened by globalisation. The Cambodian capital is a blend of influences from East and West. The French built wide boulevards and handsome monuments like the Post Office, the Town Hall, the ochre-tinted Central Market, with its huge domed roof, and the Hotel Le Royal, which is now part of the Raffles Group.
Ancient empires The Imperial Palace in Hue, Vietnam, at dusk
The ancient Khmer era is reflected in the Independence Monument, which is shaped like a lotus bud and echoes the temples at Angkor Wat, while a walking tour of the downtown area reveals many examples of “New Khmer” architecture dating to the post-Independence 50s and 60s. Dider Lamoot, general manager of the Sofitel Phokeethra Hotel, says the secret of Phnom Penh’s unique charm is its people. “They have preserved their identity as the ‘Latins’ of Asia, they joke and open themselves to visitors, always leading with a genuine smile.” “The city is like a big onion. Peel back one layer with a visit to Sisowath Quay’s restaurants and bars, then gradually uncover each new experience by walking around and discovering narrow alleyways packed with little shops and street vendors, the promenade along the Mekong and Bassac rivers, and the Phnom Hill, which gave the capital its name and fills up with camera-toting tourists at sunset. This city allows each of us to feel a vital connection to a remarkable heritage.”
The Royal Palace, where King Norodom Sihamoni resides, attracts visitors who like to feel they are rubbing shoulders with royalty (the royal pad is, of course, off bounds) and then move on to admire the Silver Pagoda, the floor of which is covered with 5,000 one-kilo tiles. The Tuol Sleng Prison and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields, the country’s two main thanatourism sites, cast a dark shadow over today’s cheerful city, but are fundamental for understanding Cambodia’s more recent history. The newest attraction in town is the Sofitel Phokeethra. Located in the former old French district, it is the first five-star to debut in the capital for over a decade, and is a sophisticated gourmet venue with Italian, Japanese, Chinese and international restaurants, and 201 of the ritziest rooms and suites in town. Three cities, each with its own unique charisma. And three very different ways of discovering that history never really becomes history, but endures as a quintessential part of its ambience, as it does in laid-back Luang Prabang, in highbred Hue and in piquant Phnom Penh.
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Vienna is a truly timeless city, where the romance of the past is preserved not only in bricks and mortar, but in the spirit of its people and the immemorial whirl of the waltz WORDS: Nicci Perides
Vienna State Opera Home to many of Austriaâ€™s cultural and musical traditions
Timeless beauty The Vienna State Opera dates back to the mid-19th century
few decades ago when I was a child, playground chatter was centred around pop stars like Bros, New Kids on the Block or Kylie Minogue. I would always feel a little left out when all I could offer were my insights stemming from my mother’s old VHS collection. I could sit for hours, mesmerised by the black and white movies of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. My favourite was Swingtime; Ginger wore a dazzling white dress and the pair glided effortlessly around the floor, synchronised in the Waltz of the Flowers – just beautiful. This scene has forever stayed with me, but to a large part of the rest of the world, waltzing has long been forgotten. In its place, kids now dance to hip-hop, trance or something equally cool, albeit unromantic. If truth be told, partner dancing seems to have become almost extinct in most of the western world. One place where the traditions of the dance still reign is in Vienna. The city has a strong popular music culture, but history hasn’t been forgotten by the new generation. Few other cities skip so effortlessly between past and present, but it’s not only the waltz that has been integrated into modern living, it’s the architecture, too. Marvel one minute at ornate buildings from the eighteenth century, and the next look across to find new modern edifices like the ultra-trendy Sofitel Stephansdom Vienna, which is more like a delicately sculptured artwork than a hotel. French architect Jean Nouvel describes his hotel as a “careful play with light and reflection and an experimentation between interior and exterior.” The hotel is a massive contradiction to the architecturally beautiful city; it sits as a soldier on the south side of the Danube Canal, guard-
Vienna Opera Ball The most important night of the year for many of Vienna’s elite
ing – or welcoming – visitors into the suburbs. The government, I hear, is deliberately trying to discourse its long-held traditions to make way for a new generation of Vienna. “Fill this historical stage with young life,” was the phrase I heard over and over again. Along the same bank of the canal, a host of new modern
vasses. There are three types: all-black, all-white and all-grey. It’s an ‘art’ hotel and once you embrace the concept, it creates a stark contrast from which to compare and enjoy the rest of Vienna. The Viennese appear to be very good at diversification. They seem to have an unfailing knack
“Here we are in 2011 and the traditions of the sixteenth century are still burning among a new generation of Viennese” buildings have sprung up in recent times, mostly built with transparent façades to reflect the older inner city. The blacks, greys and whites that greet you as you walk into the lobby of Sofitel Stephansdom are a sneak preview of the monochrome rooms. Jean Nouvel has excelled himself at being brilliantly modern and left the rooms as blank can-
for embracing new ideas and concepts. They certainly don’t have a fear of the unknown – or of change. It’s so refreshing. As I pondered my industrial all-grey room and looked out at the panorama of Vienna before me, I think I understood the perspective Nouvel was coming from. From inside, the hotel doesn’t want to pull focus; it wants the spotlight to be
THE NEW PERFUME
Sacher Torte Vienna’s tastiest indulgence
“The Viennese appear to be very good at diversification. They seem to have a knack for embracing new ideas and concepts. They certainly don’t have a fear of the unknown – or change. It’s so refreshing”
All that glitters Swarovski’s new flagship store houses its largest collection
on the beautiful city that is Vienna. The view is incredible; the rooftops, cathedral spires, and the glistening Danube Canal brought me back to my first romantic notions of Vienna. The city hops from era to era so quickly, you could almost miss it if you blink. Walking around the centre, there are subtle clues that hint at which era each building belongs to. The oldest buildings in the city, some of which date back to the thirteenth century, are recognisable by the beautiful open spaces of the exteriors, whereas the newer buildings of the nineteenth century often have ornate inscriptions decorating the walls. Architects call this ‘horror vacui’, Latin for ‘fear of empty space’. At the end of World War II, after a large portion of the city’s outskirts had been bombed, the Austrian government rebuilt as much as possible with the limited budget available. Now the streets are dotted with these post-war new builds, serving as a reminder of darker days. The majority of Vienna’s architecture is in top condition now, and it’s fascinating to be amidst a mix of so many periods. I concentrate on the older buildings of the city, all currently used for
the good of tourism and the people of Vienna. Firstly the Opera House, home to the Vienna State Opera, which also hosts the most famous ball in the world, the Vienna Opera Ball. The Opera Ball is the official ball of the republic, and ministers decide each year if it will go ahead. Over 6,000 guests attend and although it is an official ball, tickets are sold to the public, and for EUR 230 (US$331) guests can dance alongside film stars, government members and the President for one magical evening. The Viennese Waltz, the traditional dance of the ball, is the oldest form of ballroom dance and began in the last part of the eighteenth century in court. To my delight, it is a tradition that is still very much alive and loved today in Vienna. To be a member of the opening ‘debutante dance’, which is a mesmerising display of girls in swirling white gowns and boys in top hats and tails, you must be able to dance to perfection the left-hand waltz, which, to anyone in the know, is extremely difficult. But it is a great honour; a right of passage into society living. Girls and boys are groomed and primed for selection years before they actually get their turn in the spotlight.
Young men and ladies all genuinely want to be a part of this and I can think of no other city where teenagers would rather practice the waltz than hang out in the local nightspot. Vienna really does prime its youth for sophistication and high-society from an early age. My imagination took me to the night of the Ball, which happens every March, to see dancers gliding effortlessly around the floor in the Opera house’s main ballroom, beneath a wave of spectators watching in awe of the smooth synchronicity the waltz sequence dictates. Unfortunately I missed the ball by a few weeks, so my dream of waltzing in Vienna was sadly never fulfilled, but Elizabeth Gurtler, owner of the nearby Hotel Sacher, who once sat on the board of the Vienna Opera Ball, fuelled my fairytale vision further. “It’s a very romantic evening, many young people go to meet suitable marriage partners, or boyfriends or girlfriends,” she explains. Another chance missed, I think. Across the street from the Opera House sits another of Vienna’s age-old charms, Hotel Sacher Wien. Owner and high-society lady Elizabeth
“Big love” John Miller’s masterpiece “plays with the concepts of light and movement, everyday objects interwoven with glamour”
Elizabeth Gurtler Owner of the Sacher Hotel and the Spanish Riding School
Gurtler really is a face-about-town and owns two of the most important cultural institutions in Vienna; the hotel and the Spanish Riding School, which lives in the Imperial Palace. The riding school’s building is an aesthetic masterpiece and claims to be the finest riding hall in the world. This is another example of how young Viennese want to be involved in something that is traditional and almost militant, a job that embodies life from decades gone by. Riders are selected for their temperament and on how they can be groomed to be world-class Spanish School representatives. Each horseman needs to be not only an excellent rider but, since the traditions of the school are taught aurally from one generation of riders to the next, they have to possess the ability to teach others. Training is ongoing but no young rider will get his, or until recently her, turn on the stage until at least 10 years of training have been completed and both horse and rider are totally in sync with each other. Elizabeth Gurtler invites me to sit in the gallery. I accept immediately and stare wide-eyed as each group of riders comes out to present themselves. The young men sit with straight backs on magnificent white Lipizzaner Stallions. Both horse and rider have a gentlemanly manner about them; a proud arrogance that only some can carry off without seeming haughty. Here we are in 2011 and the traditions of the sixteenth century are still burning strong among a new generation of Viennese. A walk through the bustling central city takes less than an hour, and the displays of high society interwoven with mundane everyday life is a sight to behold. These days, the former central market is largely tourist-orientated, selling spices, wienerschnitzel and knick-knacks, but there are a few authentic cafés and stalls left where the old Viennese come to reminisce.
Retail therapy Shoppers flock to the new Swarovski flagship store in Vienna
Urbanek is a tiny wine stall in the heart of the market and outside, men in loafers and neck scarfs chat quietly. Umar is the place to go for fish. Gegenbauer is a traditional vinegar vendor and the shop has a magnificent display of old bottles with cork tops and vinegars of all colours and flavours inside. The market is full of stylish people watching the world go by or busily getting on with their lives. I did notice how everyone was dressed; not necessarily in pearls and fur but rather a confident style that is perhaps expensive, perhaps not. In the city centre sits the flagship store of Swarovski. My guide suggests we pop in and witness the unveiling of a collection of new light installations, created by international designers John Miller and Gwenael Nicolas. The store perfectly fuses everything that I see to be Vienna; elegance, history and modern architecture. “The installations play with the concepts of light and movement, everyday objects interwoven with glamour,” Gwenael Nicolas explains to the crowd at the unveiling.
One particular installation struck me. To me it was a pile of junk spray-painted gold. I couldn’t see the correlation between that and Swarovski. John Miller, the American artist who designed the piece, offered his interpretation. “In this you are reminded of an emotion that galvanises, preserves and gives value to the most mundane objects; just as an immediate personal connection is established with a crystal by the first cut,” he explains. Swarovski Tourism CEO Andreas Braun adds, “Crystal can be a fetish and allows for multiple interpretations.” My interpretation took me back to my perception of Vienna as a whole – everyday life is celebrated and the simple pleasures that make it special are rarely overlooked. I guess this is modern Vienna, not a show-off but quietly confident, waiting for you to explore all that it has to offer at your leisure. It’s neither harsh socialist nor New York liberal. It commands respect; it’s the strict teacher of whom you are first afraid, but soon come to admire for the knowledge they possess. This is Vienna, now.
Ethiopian spring The Blue Nile Falls breathe life into northern Ethiopia
The oTher eThiopia
In a rarely seen corner of Africa, a traveller who has seen and done it all is overwhelmed by the beauty of the strange land she finds, and rediscovers the luxury of the once-in-a-lifetime experience WORDS: Jo Foley
hen it comes to travel we all have our own ideas about luxury, usually depending on point of view and pocket. For many it is serious comfort – first-class travel and five-star hotels. For others it is pure pampering; 500 thread-count sheets, a choice of six different coffees, pillows, bathing rituals, wall-to-wall butlers and a full-scale spa. Then again, more and more of us yearn for peace, privacy and free WiFi. However there is an even more elusive side to luxury that so many of us spoilt and jaded travellers are looking for, and that is simply the luxury of an unforgettable experience. When was the last time on your holidays or travels that you were genuinely and truly surprised? When the sheer strangeness, foreignness or extreme beauty of a place or a people left you breathless, let alone speechless? Perhaps waking up in the foothills of the Himalayas or on a balloon-ride, at sunset, over Pagan – it could even be the simplicity of Norman Foster’s bridge in the clouds in France’s Tarn valley, or a spellbinding drive along Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Since we have all become so well travelled, the luxury of experience has got lost among the Frette linens and in-room iPads, but every so often we are reminded of just how potent such an experience can be. It happened to me earlier this year in Ethiopia, a country I had long planned to visit, but kept postponing. A country which is only known to most of us for famines and wars, but which is also home to the source of the Blue Nile, the Ark of the Covenant, the painted churches of Lalibela and the ‘Bleeding Heart’ Gelada baboon, and all of that in just one part of the northern corner of the country. What nobody tells you though, is just how extraordinarily beautiful the place is – a country of vast lush plateaux, deep ravines and rift valleys, mountain landscapes that disappear into infinity, gentle lakes and surprisingly vibrant cities. In between, you meet some of the most elegant people on earth and wonder how, of all African countries, this is the one that has never been colonised – despite several failed attempts by the Italians. They did bequeath the makings of a great espresso, but the best coffee in the world was already there to begin with. Start and end in Addis Ababa, a vibrant, noisy city with the largest open-air market in Africa,
Different shades Colourful parasols at the Timket Festival in Gondar
“Stop off at Bahir Dar and Lake Tana, where boats will take you to visit churches and monasteries on the islands that dot the lake”
Ancient relics Fasilidas’ Castle in Gondar
the Mercato. You can buy and sell everything here – there is even a lane called “tell me what you want street” and another where recycling is raised almost to an art form when you see what people will make out of other people’s trash. Must-sees are the national museum, which includes the remains of Lucy, a three-and-ahalf million year old hominid, the Ethnological Museum and the Kiddist Selassie (Holy Trinity) Cathedral. Most startling of all is the grave of women’s rights activist Sylvia Pankhurst, right outside the cathedral. She rests a long way from home, but she fell in love with the country when she set up an anti-fascist league to stop one of Mussolini’s forays into the place. But it is when you head north from Addis that you gradually become subsumed into the spirit and wonder of the place. Stop off at Bahir Dar and Lake Tana, where boats will take you to visit churches and monasteries on the islands that dot the lake (although some do not allow women to visit), and across to the Blue Nile Falls and the source of the great river which begins its journey to the Mediterranean. Watch from the lakeside while feather-light boats (they are made of papyrus) filled with firewood seem to skim across the water, and listen to prayers and chanting in the distance. Stay in a new hotel at the lakeside, the Kuriftu Resort and Spa, which seems to grow out of the landscape and where a daily massage is included in your room rate.
Standing tall The stelae of Axum tower up to 33 metres above the ground
Axum is the spiritual heart of Ethiopia, but it was also once its capital and commercial centre. From 200 BC until 700 AD, this was the seat of an empire which reached across the Red Sea to Arabia, traded with India and China, had its own alphabet and was regarded as one of the four great powers of the ancient world. Today it attracts visitors and pilgrims from all over the world as its Mariam Tsion Church is reported to house the Ark of the Covenant. No one but its guardian is allowed into the holiest of holies, however he will occasionally greet visitors through the gates, pray with them and bless them, for neither is he allowed to leave the church grounds. Axum is also renowned for its extraordinary stelae or obelisks – some are more than 3,000 years old and the largest, which weighs 520 tons, could never be erected because of its weight. There are over 3,000 monolithic stelae in and around Axum, any of which would knock Cleopatra’s Needle into a cocked hat. All around the stelae field excavations are taking place of tombs and palaces, libraries and meeting halls and yet there are is still some 70 percent of it to be investigated and excavated. And some things often don’t need excavating. Just 20 years ago, three farmers came across a stone in one of their fields. On investigation, it turned out to be the Ezana Stone, a memorial stone inscribed in three languages – Greek, Sabean and Geez. Over 1,600 years old, it is in near perfect condition and is known as the Ethiopian Rosetta Stone. Other than counting stelae and visiting even more wonderful churches, Axum is where the Queen of Sheba had her palaces and her baths (taken in what was actually a reservoir) and a small, but perfectly displayed museum. But Lalibela is the jewel in the crown of this extraordinary country, with its complex of 11 churches cut out of the hard red granite earth. Legend says it’s the work of angels, but the churches were commissioned by the 12th century King Lalibela and literally chipped out of the rocks by man. All the roofs are at ground level, so to visit them you climb down through narrow walkways and steep steps to places where pilgrims come in their thousands throughout the year, walking for weeks, carrying a small bundle of supplies and swathed in the white cotton shawl known as a shama. The shawl lends an elegance to the wearer and even an aura of spirituality as the pilgrims wind
Demystifying Africa – the next frontier
Africa – With Change Comes Opportunity… Over the last few years, there has been considerable growth throughout Africa driven by governments diversifying from a mineral-based economy. With tourism at the heart, providing jobs for local communities, Africa offers a wealth of investment opportunities and many international hotel brands are opening hotels throughout the continent. Join HICA in Morocco and find out what the changing landscape means for the investment community, where the potential hotspots lie and what the prospects are.
Speakers and Programme HICA in Morocco will present a line up of world class speakers. A selection of confirmed participants includes: •
HE Yassir Zenagui, Minister of Tourism and Handicraft, Kingdom of Morocco – listen to how Morocco is changing the face of tourism.
Yann Caillere, Deputy CEO EMEA Sofitel Worldwide, Accor – how Accor is making such a success of their African pipeline.
Ed Fuller, President and Managing Director, Marriott International – global operators diving into Africa.
Bill Heinecke, Chairman and CEO, Minor International Plc – the ‘Richard Branson’ of Thailand and how he survives and succeeds on obstacles confronting growth.
Omar Kabbaj, Owner, Hyatt Regency Casablanca – the host of HICA and hear from an owner’s perspective.
Nenad Pacek, President and Co-founder, CEEMEA Group – one of the world’s leading authorities on emerging markets and listen to what they are advising business leaders on opportunities in Africa.
Chris Luebkeman, Director, Global Foresight + Innovation, Arup – a global design and engineering firm and a leading creative force behind many of the world’s most innovative projects and structures. Hear how they are transforming Africa?
Otto J. Stehlik, Chairman, Protea Hotels – how Protea has succeeded to become the dominant player.
Hyatt Regency Casablanca, Morocco Platinum Sponsors Accor Corinthia Hotels Jones Lang LaSalle Hotels Marriott Gold Sponsors Actif Invest ALHIF Alliances Anantara France Horwath HTL H Partners Hyatt Interedec Madaëf Starwood Hotels and Resorts T Capital Tourism & Leisure W Hospitality Group Supporters ANIT Ecole Hoteliere Lausanne World Travel & Tourism Council
IN ASSOCIATION WITH:
HICA is a ground breaking event for Africa. For Morocco to attract this calibre of conference, will help support and deliver our vision for tourism in the region. For the rest of Africa it will help build a better appreciation of the potential within the continent. HE YASSIR ZENAGUI, MINISTER OF TOURISM AND HANDICRAFT, KINGDOM OF MOROCCO
For further information on HICA visit www.africa-conference.com Or for sponsorship enquiries, please contact: Matthew Weihs on + () or firstname.lastname@example.org
Church of St. George One of the famous sunken churches of Lalibela
through mountain passes, across fields and down into the carved churches. The most spectacular of the churches is that of St. George, which is carved in a cruciform shape and whose roof signifies three different crosses – Maltese, Christian and Greek, while the finest church is Bet Emanuel, which once was the private church of the royal family. Lalibela itself is a lively little town with restaurants, shops, internet cafés and a weekly market, which obviously hasn’t changed in the last millennia – a place where you can buy a goat, some potatoes, herbs and clothes. If you have time, try to visit the monastery of Yemrehanna Kristos, a magnificent cave church that looks as if it has been carved from a chocolate cream cake. In layers of marble and olive wood, it is one of the finest examples of Axumite architecture you will find, and it’s just 40 kilometres outside of town. You can also take a day or an overnight trip to the Simien Mountains from Lalibela, and it is here you can find the Bleeding Heart (Gelada) baboons in some profusion. Otherwise head back to the airport and make for Gondar, another former capital, founded by the Emperor Fasilidas in 1636. And while, again, there are monasteries and churches (44 in total), it is the Royal Enclosure that is the revelation. Within its walls, accessed by twelve
Before you go getting to ethiopia and travelling within it is relatively easy if you take to the air, however some road journeys, while long, tedious and a tad uncomfortable, are not without some compensation in what you see and experience along the way. Try to avoid the rainy season from April to September. If time is limited, ethiopian Airways has regular flights between the must-see sights. Airports are a little chaotic but prepare yourself by allowing plenty of time and practicing some deep breathing exercises to induce a sense of calm. you may also wish to remind yourself that ethiopia is not as other countries – they have their own calendar (it has 13 months), their own year, (it is now 2003) and their own time (midnight is their 6am). once your mindset has adapted, everything else is a complete joy.
gates, there are six palaces, all sporting four towers, which resemble the ancient Portuguese pepper pot versions. Each castle is set in its own grounds, some with attached lion houses, others with amazing hammams, but all exuding an extraordinary feeling of peace and tranquillity – albeit located in the midst of a huge and growing city. It is difficult to think of another country where you can experience so much beauty, so much wonder and such historical wealth in a short time. Ethiopia is fast becoming a destination of choice for the satiated traveller – go now before it is overtaken by too many five-star hotels and too much western luxury. Experience the slightly eccentric electricity
supply and the occasional lapse in the hot water stakes. Swimming pools are still a novelty, although spas are making inroads, western restaurants are gradually encroaching (Italian, obviously) but in most places you will still be served the local grain, teff, which is made into an injera. This is the national dish, a grain, unique to Ethiopia, made into a soft flat bread, on which smaller spicy meat and vegetable dishes are served. It won’t win any prizes for looks, but it supplies more fibre-rich bran than any other grain as well as more protein, calcium, iron and complex carbohydrates. The beer is good, the wine not so, the coffee is sensational – what else does one need for a truly luxurious holiday?
June 3, Great Rift Valley, Kenya, Africa
Imagine a rough-and-tumble race through the African bush, charging through uncharted terrain on a 4X4 with nothing but a map and a compass to guide you – and all for a good cause. The annual Rhino Charge is a fund-raising event in aid of the protection of the Aberdares mountain range and its ecosystems, founded by Rhino Ark, a charity formed in 1988 after Kenya’s rhinos became endangered due to poaching. Fifty-five 4X4s will enter the Kenyan bush to navigate the shortest distance between 13 points on 100 km of rough terrain within a 10-hour period. The winner will be the vehicle that visits the most points in the shortest time possible. In order to compete, teams from all over the world must raise as much money as possible for the Rhino Ark’s cause. Visit www.rhinocharge.co.ke. 62
Isle of Wight/ Glastonbury Festivals
June 10 – 12/24 – 26, Isle of Wight/ Somerset, UK
June is set to be the month of epic outdoor music festivals, with two of the biggest and best taking place in the UK. If you don’t already have tickets for Glastonbury (they sold out within four hours), we suggest you start looking on eBay. With top artists from every conceivable genre performing live on the festival grounds’ stages and tents, it’s a field day (pardon the pun) for music lovers of any sort, attracting over 250,000 revellers to gorgeous Somerset for camping, dancing and chilling out. The Isle of Wight festival is held in Seaclose Park on the English Channel’s Isle of Wight, and this year’s star attractions include Kings of Leon and the Foo Fighters. If you’ve never heard of them, consider yourself too old or too unhip to attend.
USGA US Open
June 13 – 19, Maryland, USA
The United States Golf Association’s tournament dates to 1895 and is the second of four major golf championships, on the schedules of both the PGA Tour and the European Tour. Each year the tournament is held on a different course, which is often full of tough, hilly terrain, making for some nail-biting situations and exciting twists. All the big names in golf will be competing; scoring is difficult, and an emphasis is placed on accurate driving. Winners of the US Open are automatically invited to the three other majors (the Masters, the British Open and the PGA Championship), for the next five years, so this is a make-or-break tournament for many. This year the US Open will be held at the Congressional Country Club in Bethesda, Maryland, a charming district just northwest of Washington DC, with a thriving art and foodie scene and expansive shopping venues.
USGA/ John Mummert
June 14 – 18, Ascot, England
At 250 years old, this prestigious event is steeped in English tradition, and is one of the main events on the British social calendar. The five-day event sees 300,000 people attend annually, and though the races are the main draw, for many it’s more about the scene. The wealthy and well-dressed flock to the beautiful English county of Berkshire to witness the thoroughbreds compete while sipping champagne, mingling and of course taking in the trademark frocks, hats and fascinators. There is a strict dress code in place for each section of the viewing areas, and sports attire, jeans and shorts are forbidden in all areas. Every year HRH Queen Elizabeth the II attends, and if you’re seated in The Royal Enclosure, be prepared: ladies must wear formal dress with a ‘substantial’ hat or fascinator and men are required to wear full morning suit, hat included.
June 20 – July 3, Wimbledon,
This year marks the 125th Wimbledon Tennis Championships, since its inception in 1877 (the championships were cancelled from 1915 – 1918 and 1940 – 1945 due to the First and Second World Wars). One of the four Grand Slam tournaments, Wimbledon remains the oldest and most prestigious, attracting royals and celebrities to the All England Club in the suburbs of Wimbledon, London, every year. Expect an allstar line-up and plenty of entertainment on and off the grass courts. Wimbledon traditions include a strict dress code for competitors, snacks of strawberries and cream for spectators, and plenty of excellent crowd-watching as well (HRH the Queen of England attended last year). Hospitality packages are available to entertain clients or simply watch the matches in style.
June 23 – 30, Krakow, Poland
The city of Krakow in Poland, which dates back to the seventh century, still holds many traditions tied in with its medieval roots. Celebrated on the first Thursday after Corpus Christi, the Lajkonik Festival is an annual tribute to the invasion of Krakow by the Mongol Tatars at the end of the 13th century. ‘Lajkonik’, a folkloric character dressed in a cape and pointed hat typical of ancient Mongol warriors, rides through the streets of Krakow on a toy horse, in a giant street parade. Citizens from Krakow and its bordering towns dress up in folkloric costumes and join along the way. Lajkonik is then met by the Mayor of Krakow in the Main Square of the old city, and the prosperity of Krakow is toasted. A large party then gets underway in front of the ancient City Hall. Celebrations continue throughout the week, making this a great time to visit. dotwnews.com
The ultimate monthly travel itineraries and hotel packages, including the perfect honeymoon in New Zealand, island indulgence in the Seychelles and a world of choice in Dubai
World of choice
Getting married this year? If you plan to take a leaf out of Prince William’s book and choose a honeymoon destination where not even the snooping eyes of the British paparazzi can find you, then Dnata Luxury Hotels has just the thing. Lake Okareka Lodge in New Zealand’s picturesque Rotorua region is the ultimate intimate hideaway. With stunning views of the lake and surrounding countryside, the luxurious lodge has its own private beach and is accessible by scenic road trip, seaplane or helicopter. Stay for three nights in the Lake Okareka Suite and enjoy 24-hour butler service and personal chef; breakfast, lunch and a five-course dinner daily; a relaxing massage for two; and complimentary use of jet skis, kayaks and fishing equipment. Get to know the region with a private tour of Rotorua, including a helicopter tour the volcano. They’ll even thrown in airport transfers. Cost: US$7,698 per person ( Lake Okareka Suite), or US$9,667 per person (entire lodge). From: Until December 31. www.dnata.com
The buzzword this summer seems to be ‘choice,’ and this offer combines a world of it. The RitzCarlton, Dubai International Financial Centre, has launched a deal called ‘11 Summer Selections for 2011’, which allows guests to personalise their stay by choosing 11 perks from an extensive list of value-add options. Our favourites include a butler-drawn signature bath, a 50-minute spa treatment, airport transfers from Dubai International Airport, daily Club Lounge access and early check-in. There are plenty of options for the rest of the family, too. Choose from daily VIP kids’ turndown service, ‘Kids in the Kitchen’ pastry experience with the hotel’s chef, a desert safari for two adults and two children, entrance to Kidzania or Wild Wadi Water Park for two adults and two children, and 20 percent savings on all food and beverages throughout your stay. You can also choose to upgrade to a two-bedroom apartment or opt for a connecting Junior Suite free of charge throughout the visit. Cost: Executive Suites start from US$547 per night, including taxes. Minimum three nights. From: Now until September 15. www.ritzcarlton.com/DubaiIFC
Island hideaway Escape the day-to-day in your own island paradise and enjoy life at its best, with a week of indulgence at Raffles Praslin Seychelles. Spend a week in a Raffles Ocean View Villa and enjoy daily breakfast in your villa or at Losean restaurant, a round on the lush 18-hole championship golf course, a full-day cruise on a private yacht to some of the most picturesque islands in the Seychelles archipelago – La Digue, Coco and Felicite – and choose two treatments from the spa menu at the Raffles Spa. Your culinary needs will be taken care of with an exclusive three-course set menu served on the beach and accompanied by the lapping waves of the Indian Ocean; an in-villa barbecue prepared by your personal chef and served by your butler; and a family lunch basket perfect for taking with you when you choose to explore the rest of the island. Not quite ticking all your boxes? How about a two-way helicopter transfer from Mahe direct to the resort, offering some of the best views in the Seychelles? Cost: EUR 5,730 (US$8,173) per night (excluding 12 percent tax and 10 percent service charges). From: Unlimited. www.raffles.com/praslin *All prices are subject to change. Please contact the listed companies for further information.
Contemporary manor Perched high on the grassy knolls of Sentosa Island, set amid thirty acres of rolling hills and lush gardens, the Contemporary Manors at Capella Singapore provide a truly tropical experience for guests. Relax in 391 square metres of contemporary luxury hidden away from the rest of the Norman Foster designed resort, and revel in the privacy of your own private pool. Your personal assistant will make sure you have everything you need, and a chauffeur-driven Mercedes Vito will be at your disposal for four hours. The mini-bar is complimentary and refilled daily, and you can make the most of US$400 credit that can be exchanged at any of Capella Singapore’s bars or restaurants, plus two 60-minute spa treatments per day for two people. There’s room for the family in the three-bedroom Manor houses, so bring the kids or a group of friends and take in all that Sentosa Island has to offer. Airport transers are via Rolls-Royce, and breakfast for six is on the house at The Knolls restaurant. Cost: Three-bedroom Contemporary Manors start from US$4,410 per night. Minimum three nights. From: Now until September 15. www.capellahotels.com
dotwnews.com June 2011
Yes, Mr. President In the heart of the UAE’s vibrant capital, Abu Dhabi, the Grand Millennium Al Wahda has launched an exclusive package fit for Mr. Obama himself. Treat yourself to a two-night stay in the hotel’s Presidential Suite and you’ll not only enjoy some of finest hospitality in the Middle East, you’ll also receive a raft of luxurious benefits for the family. If it’s your first visit to the UAE, spend a day exploring either Abu Dhabi or Dubai in a chauffeur driven car, and enjoy the adrenaline rush with four free tickets to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi – the first Ferrari theme park on the planet. Make the most of the kids’ amenities and complimentary baby-sitting service while you and the other half enjoy a 60-minute massage at the hotel’s Zayna Spa. Enjoy airport transfers, early check-in and late check-out, gourmet breakfast in the suite, US$136 restaurant credit and all-day access to the club lounge. Cost: AED 9,999 (US$2,722) for the two-night package. From: Now until September 10,2011. www.millenniumhotels.com
Southern Indian delights There’s something magical about Goa, and its essence seems to have been captured at Alila Diwa Goa, where a sleek and intimate resort is nestled among the rice paddies and white sandy beaches of India’s southern gem. Take a suite in the new premium ‘Diwa’ wing and you’ll be entitled to a selection of bonus treats that will make your visit all the more magical. We’d go for one of the 88 square metre Alila Suites, which have spacious living rooms and balconies, as well as oversized baths. Book three nights before October and enjoy complimentary experiences including daily cooking classes with the chef, Indian high tea at Chai Gado, 15-minute reflexology at SPA Alila, plus 15 percent discount on spa retail, ‘anytime’ breakfast at the Bistro restaurant, private airport transfers and a la carte lunch and dinner. If you check in on Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, you’ll be invited to stay for a fourth night on the house. Cost: From US$1,200 for three nights in the Alila Suite. From: Now until September 30, 2011. www.aliladiwagoa.com
Simba Safari – Tanzania Qatar Airways Holidays has just launched a new brochure with a selection of five-star holidays to accompany its five-star airline. Among our favourites is this spectacular Tanzanian safari with luxurious accommodation in Serena lodges. Start your journey at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro and feel breathless just thinking about climbing it. Set off on a seven-day journey exploring some of the country’s pristine landscapes and visiting Masai villages, as well as maize, coffee and banana plantations. Marvel over the Rift Valley, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and the Serengeti National Park, where you’ll watch game on the vast open plains of the Serengeti and gape at the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera. Enjoy all this and more, plus the unforgettable experience of flying in Qatar Airways’ award-winning business class cabin. Cost: US$6,100 per person based on two passengers flying business class with Qatar Airways. From: Now until October 30, 2011. www.qatarairways.com
PERFECT SUMMER GETAWAYS Take time-off this summer and visit one of Danat Hotels & Resorts luxurious coastal or desert hotels and resorts at sensational prices beginning at Dhs 299*. Our Summer Getaways start from 1st June through to the end of August 2011. Al Raha Beach Hotel Purchase in advance Dhs 399** Including buffet breakfast Dhs 599** Including buffet breakfast & Dhs 200 of cash-back vouchers to be used in the restaurants Everyday stopovers Dhs 555* Including buffet breakfast Dhs 699* Including buffet breakfast & Dhs 200 of cash-back vouchers to be used in the restaurants For more information, call 02 508 0555 Danat Al Ain Resort Everyday stopovers Dhs 299* Room only Dhs 399* Including buffet breakfast Dhs 749* Villa, including buffet breakfast For more information, call 03 704 6000
Danat Jebel Dhanna Resort Everyday stopovers Dhs 499* Including buffet breakfast for 2-adults & 2-children under 6-years For more information, call 02 801 2211 Tilal Liwa Hotel Everyday stopovers Dhs 499* Including buffet breakfast For more information, call 02 894 6111 Sands Hotel Weekend stopovers Dhs 325* Including buffet breakfast Weekday stopovers Dhs 350* Including buffet breakfast For more information, call 02 615 6666 Dhafra Beach Hotel Everyday stopovers Dhs 399* Including buffet breakfast for 2-adults & 2-children under 6-years For more information, call 02 801 2000
*All rates are subject to 10% service charge and 6% tourism fee • ** 3-days advance purchase – No refund • Valid from 1 June until the end of August 2011• Offer valid for UAE/GCC residents only • Two children under 12’s sharing parents room stay free of charge • Payment by credit card or cash only • Rooms are subject to availability as per the terms and conditions of the package • A child policy applies • Certain conditions may vary for each hotel, check with reservations at the time of booking. Terms & Conditions apply
Danat Hotels & Resorts is a Division of National Corporation for Tourism & Hotels (NCT&H) PO Box 6942, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates T. +971 2 409 9999 | F. +971 2 409 9990 | E. email@example.com | www.danathotels.com
Old-school elegance The Chatwal New York is Art Deco at its best
The Chatwal New York New York City, USA
Occupying an elegant Art Deco building designed by architect Stanford White in 1904, this beautifully restored property is the latest to join Starwood Hotels’ The Luxury Collection, a selection of more than 75 exquisite hotels in more than 30 countries. The Chatwal New York, located in NYC’s theatre district, has been modernised by designer Thierry Despont, but its Art Deco style remains throughout, reflected in polished oaks and apple red furnishings. The 83 luxurious guest rooms include the fourbedroom Barrymore Suite, with exclusive use of the tenth floor, and the Stanford White Studio, with furnished private outdoor terrace. The Chatwal is also home to the Chatwal Spa and the Lambs Club Restaurant and Bar, where New York’s most elegant come to dine on refined classic American cuisine. Bold lines Hilton’s new Cape Town City Centre hotel
Hilton Cape Town City Centre Cape Town, South Africa
Hilton Hotels Worldwide has opened its third property in South Africa, situated on the border of Bo-Kaap and the foot of Table Mountain in Cape Town’s bustling Central Business District. The 137-room property was converted into the Hilton Hotels & Resorts brand following a four-month transition period to upgrade the service staff and amenities to Hilton standards. The 102 contemporary-style guest rooms, 20 executive rooms, seven one-bedroom suites and eight two-bedroom suites feature spectacular views of Cape Town and beyond. Two restaurants, a boutique chocolatier, business centre, executive boardroom and eight meeting rooms are available, all with plasma televisions and complimentary WiFi access. A pool deck with swimming pool and bar, fitness centre, sauna and steam room as well as a baby-sitting service are also on hand to ensure guests can unwind during downtime. 68
Keeping you abreast of the latest luxury hotel openings
NIYAMA, Maldives by Per AQUUM The Maldives
Situated a 40-minute seaplane flight from Male on the islands of Embudhufushi and Olhuveli, NIYAMA features 86 Studios and Pavilions, giving guests the choice to reside in Beach Studios with stunning outdoor bathrooms and secluded beach views, Deluxe Beach Studios with private pool, Beach Pavilions with 24-hour butler service, and The Beach Residence with private dining alcoves. Water Studios and Deluxe Water Studios feature stunning views of the Indian Ocean, and Water Pavilions are complete with personal butler. TRIBAL, the modern restaurant inspired by a luxury campsite, serves African, Middle Eastern and Southeast Asian cuisine and is accessible only by boat – eight metres below sits the world’s first underwater nightclub, NIYAMA LIVE.
Kiridara Luang Prabang Luang Prabang, Laos
This elegant boutique hotel is situated in beautiful Luang Prabang, Central Laos, where the Nam Khan River and Mekong River merge, and ancient Buddhist monasteries are dotted throughout the hills. The hotel’s 24 rooms, ranging from 33 – 75 square metres, are surrounded by natural teak forests and offer panoramic views of Mount Phousi from balconies and courtyards surrounded by sweet-smelling Champa trees. The interior reflects the natural surroundings, with stone walls and sleek wooden floors accented by pure cottons. A Laotian Spa offers therapeutic massages, holistic and beautifying treatments, plus a Yoga Pavilion. Laotian-inspired cuisine is tailored to individual tastes at Phu Doi, fresh fruit cocktails and drinks are served at the poolside bar, and in-room dining, courtyard dining and private dining are also available.
Sofitel Ashgabat Oguzkent Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Taking its first step into Central Asia, Sofitel Luxury Hotels has opened a five-star business hotel in the city of Ashgabat in the Karakum Desert at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains, a developing business hub thanks to easy access to the resource-based oil, gas and cotton industries. The contemporary hotel blends Turkmenistan traditions with modern amenities; its 299 rooms include 48 suites, 10 Junior Suites, 24 Prestige Suites and 14 Presidential Suites. International restaurant Amu Darya offers a fully open kitchen, and in summer guests can dine on the terrace, while Eastern restaurant Akhal Teke takes inspiration from Turkmen, Turkish and Lebanese cuisines. The hotel’s top floor is host to Le Table bar and restaurant, offering fine French cuisine and large bay windows looking out over the city. Two indoor pools and one outdoor pool, 12 massage rooms, two hammams and two saunas will help guests relax.
Boutique retreat Kiridara is tucked away in the rolling hills of Luang Prabang
Six Senses Zighy Bay
Omani escape Traditional Omani hospitality meets high-end adventure at Six Senses Zighy Bay â€“ Caitlin Cheadle straps in and enjoys the ride
tressed-out city slickers will feel an immediate sense of calm on reaching the rigid peaks of the Hajar mountain range in Musandam, Oman. Rising seamlessly from the desert sands, they serve as the final indication that you’ve left the bustling cities of nearby Dubai and Abu Dhabi behind. Winding up the craggy peaks on the narrow road that leads to Six Senses Zighy Bay, situated on the Musandam Peninsula and surrounded by the Hajar’s limestone mountains, you are greeted at the summit by a breathtaking view. Unfortunately the day we arrive, it is too windy to try either of the daredevil options for an unforgettable arrival: guests can choose to paraglide or microlight over the mountains and aquamarine waters, landing on the strip of beach in front of the resort while a car transports your luggage the rest of the way. My companion and I climb out of the chauffeured SUV that had picked us up from Dubai for the two-hour drive to Zighy Bay, and are greeted in the lobby with cold towels and fresh juice as our passports are whisked away for check-in. We’re escorted to Pool Villas 58 and 59, which are separated by a thatched bamboo wall that surrounds the whole of each outdoor patio. Both villas have an infinity pool that extends from the deck to the edge of the thatched wall, which opens via two cut-out doors facing the ocean. Inside the private fortress, the grounds are blanketed in soft sand, and brightly-hued sofas are covered by a thatched roof. The stone villa’s interior is a blend of neutral hues; a rustic but luxurious abode that resembles a traditional Omani hut but features all the mod cons, including flat-screen TV, iPod docking station, and remote control-operated AC. The living room/lounge is adjoined to the bedroom, and a sliding door provides an optional partition to the bathroom; a spacious double bath rising up from the floor takes pride of place. Outside, a bamboo-enclosed pathway leads to an outdoor shower. Because the sun sets behind the Hajar mountains, it gets dark early in Zighy Bay, but ‘Zighy time’, the resort’s very own time zone, allows for an extra hour of light per day. All the clocks are set forward by one hour, so it is still light at 8pm, when we settle on the outdoor sofas at Chill Bar for pre-dinner drinks. An SUV then collects us and takes us back up the steep entry road to Sense on the Edge – Zighy Bay’s aptly named fine dining restaurant, perched precariously at the top of the mountains overlooking the resort below. It is still too stormy to sit outside, so we miss out on the views the restaurant prides itself on, but the food is exquisite: all 12 courses of it are paired with wines chosen by the charming sommelier. The next morning brings sun and clear, calm skies. We indulge in a breakfast of lattes, muesli and made-to-order omelettes before
The important bit What: Six Senses Zighy Bay Location: Zighy Bay, Musandam, Oman Cost: From US$900 per night. Web: sixsenses.com/sixsenseszighybay/
walking the sandy path that leads to the Six Senses Spa, stopping to let the occasional goat meander past us. My Holistic Massage is one hour of gentle kneading meant to stimulate the lymphatic system and promote detoxification. My masseuse has excellent technique and a soothing touch, and the experience leaves me in a state of bliss; my skin supple with lavender oil as I sip tea in the relaxation room afterwards. There is just enough time to park ourselves on the beach for some sun and a dip in the sea, before we’re summoned by the concierge: it’s time for a dose of adventure. I nervously opt to try the microlight, while my companion chooses the paragliding. I’m taken by buggy to the shore and introduced to my pilot, who quickly reassures me I will be fine when he sees my anxious face. I hoist myself into the seat, which hangs below two kite ‘wings’, and strap myself in. My instructor ensures I’m secure before climbing into the front seat, and we begin to motor along the sand. Then we’re lifting off the ground, and my stomach is momentarily in my throat as we climb higher and higher, until the resort is a tiny speck below. I am in utter awe of the view, and my fears are forgotten as I try to capture it all on my camera. Exhausted from our adventures, we check out and climb back into the plush seats of the SUV for the journey back to Dubai. Somewhere in the deserts of Fujairah, we nod off, like kids coming home from summer camp. By the time I’m awoken outside my flat in Dubai, I’m already wishing I were back at Zighy Bay.
Mandarin Oriental Singapore
Stay in Singapore The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Singapore’s new Bay Suite adds an extra touch of class to a wellestablished favourite, says Lucy Taylor
cover-shot perfect Singapore skyline: Marina Bay, framed by Merlion Park – home to the famous statue – and the spiky Esplanade theatre and concert hall, rolling into a vast sky that seems to go on forever. That’s the panoramic view that greets you, spread across one entire wall, as you enter the stunning new Bay Suite at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Singapore. It’s one that encapsulates the varied romanticism of this compact island state: a place with all the mysterious allure of centuries of Oriental tradition, topped with a hugely international population and a thirst for striking modern architecture. And happily, this is a panorama you can enjoy right from the get-go in the Mandarin’s largest suite – as smiling, courteous staff check you in from the comfort of the lounge, with its calming blend of subtle Asian accents and harmonious earth tones. The recently-launched rooms form the largest accommodation in a pretty sizeable portfolio of plush choices. The hotel opened in 1987 and had its classic good looks given a face-lift with a multi-million dollar renovation a few years ago.
“Squashy sofas and low tables in wood and jewel-tone upholstery break the room up into sections, allowing for maximum privacy and relaxation” The subsequent re-opening in May 2005 saw the launch of 527 revamped rooms – including 59 suites, four executive floors and a premium Oriental Club Lounge, ideal for those looking for peace and pampering. But good things, as they say, do come to those who wait: the exclusive Bay Suite was launched less than 12 months ago. Covering 68 square metres and boasting panoramic views of Marina Bay in both the bedroom and lounge, this is a treat of a suite: ideal for those looking to add an extra-special tone to their stay in Singapore. The Bay Suite has been created along the ‘subtle’ design line – allowing the glorious view to dominate, but providing an unostentatiously elegant setting in which to unwind after a hard day’s sightseeing. Or not – there’s a good chance you won’t want to leave the suite at all once you’ve arrived.
Bay guests enjoy a softly-lit bedroom with bouncy king-sized bed, spacious living area, and a sparkling white marble bathroom with rain shower and oversized bathtub. There’s also the handy option of an adjoining twin-bed room if required, forming a two-bedroom suite that’s ideal for families. The theme of the Bay décor is very much understated Oriental elegance: neutral colours with designer accents such as a traditional patterned Chinese rug, or striking pieces of art by local artists. The design flows so beautifully that you might not initially notice all the intricate extras: a wooden desk unobtrusively inlaid with sockets for computing convenience; wireless high-speed broadband internet access; and on the entertainment front, an iPod docking station, LCD television with CD and DVD options and surround sound.
You’ll also get to take advantage of the stellar food and drink – with complimentary non-alcoholic beverages and hors d’oeuvres throughout the day, Oriental afternoon tea and evening cocktails. The other notable aspect of a stay here is the staff: efficient, helpful and intelligent, they know each guest’s preference within a day of arrival, and are willing to help with any request, from a hot pot of herbal tea or freshly-baked scones, to recommending which of the multiple nearby malls is best for shoe shopping. The cuisine on offer at the Mandarin is another of its strengths. From the hotel’s range of five restaurants and two lounges, one that must be sampled is Dolce Vita: a terracotta-tiled Italian outlet with cool white walls, offering fresh and fabulous takes on the classics. What’s more, the restaurant’s sweep of French windows open out onto a terrace adjoining the newly-renovated pool deck. Surrounded by lush tropical greenery, you’ll feel like you’ve stumbled across a mini resort in the city; perfect for sedate sundowners as the Singapore dusk draws in. If you’re looking to combine the indulgence of a Bay Suite experience with a little taste of city life, then be sure to check out Mandarin’s Artistic Package, which runs until the end of 2011. This makes an ideal romantic getaway, and is already proving a big hit with couples.
Should you require an evening off from the nightlife, you can take advantage of this hightech haven with a visit to the Business Lounge’s movie library, which stocks DVDs to satisfy tastes from Tarantino to Disney. When you do decide to venture out of the Bay Suite, you’ll find another hotel highlight just a few floors away – the devotion-inspiring Oriental Club Lounge. This is undoubtedly one of the classiest, most effortless executive havens out there: in the midst of this bustling metropolis, it’s a bubble of serenity and seriously good snacks. Located on the 19th floor, two floors were adjoined to incorporate the lounge’s striking height, allowing a full wall of floor-to-ceiling windows, showcasing the dramatic sweep of the city view. Squashy sofas and low tables in wood and jewel-tone upholstery break the room up into sections, allowing for maximum privacy and relaxation. Club guests enjoy several special little extras, including guaranteed late check-out, Club Lounge internet access, free local calls, a choice of international and local newspapers each morning, and bookings for Esplanade performances upon request.
The important bit What: Mandarin Oriental Hotel Singapore Location: 5 Raffles Avenue, Marina Square, Singapore 039797 Cost: Artistic package from SG$4,250 (US$3,455); alternatively, rates start from SG$2,000 ($1,626) per night (subject to 10 percent service and 7 percent prevailing government taxes). Web: mandarinoriental.com/singapore/ It includes two nights’ accommodation in the Bay Suite, with round-trip airport transfers via Mercedes limo, a complimentary bottle of bubbly upon arrival and benefits at The Oriental Club. The additional ultra-exclusive extras are private guided tours of the Singapore Art Museum and Bartha & Senarclens, a discreet high-end gallery that specialises in private art collections. Whether you and your loved one decide to take a romantic weekend drinking in the island state’s rich art scene, or whether it’s about taking the family for a full-on vacation to enjoy the varied sights, sounds, tales and tastes on offer in the sprawling city, this really is the way to do it in style. The Bay Suite is an utterly blissful bite of Singaporean hospitality.
Room with a view Superb views of Marina Bay from the Bay Suite’s comfortable lounge
Gold Coast Famous for fun
Australia’s Gold Coast Australia’s Gold Coast boasts a unique blend of natural beauty and cosmopolitan lifestyle. The City not only fronts the Pacific Ocean with 70 kilometres of pristine surf beaches, but also lays claim to thousands of hectares of World Heritage-listed rainforest, all within an hours’ drive of each other. Between these two natural playgrounds is a cosmopolitan “City by the sea”, offering fantastic
The City has undergone a billion dollar facelift which is sure to excite Middle Eastern visitors holidaying in the City during 2011 and beyond. The all-new residential towers of Peppers Broadbeach and Hilton Surfers Paradise have opened their doors and come equipped with exciting, new retail precincts. Massive refurbishment projects have also been undertaken at the Surfers Paradise Marriott Resort &
on the Gold Coast as the multicultural nature of the City has brought about a deliciously successful industry, cultivating everything from soft-shell crabs and goat cheese to locally bred Wagyu beef.
“Arabic speaking locals man a tour information desk within the Gold Coast’s Ramadan evening lounge” dining and shopping experiences for all ages and budgets, coupled with an infinite array of fun-filled activities. The Gold Coast is literally and figuratively “Australia’s Playground” boasting a vast range of memorable experiences that make it “Famous for fun.” For more than 50 years this is where Australians have been bringing their families to enjoy their vacations. The Gold Coast is Australia’s theme park capital with no less than eight major parks, plus a fantastic array of adventure activities, both on the water and throughout the bordering mountain ranges.
Spa, Watermark Hotel & Spa, Jupiters Hotel and Sheraton Mirage Resort & Spa, that assist in providing the Gold Coast a refreshed and revitalised persona. With some of Australia’s largest retail centres and most stylish fashion precincts, even grocery shopping on the Gold Coast is an enticing prospect. Browse the generous complexes, take a shopping tour, peruse the boutiques, wander through the piazzas and pay particular attention to the factory outlet precincts. Dining too is an experience to be savoured
The Gold Coast is working hard to reassure travellers of the destination’s capabilities to accommodate visitors during Ramadan. Throughout the Holy Month, a dedicated Ramadan evening lounge facility is offered free of charge, three nights a week in Surfers Paradise, where local and visiting Muslims can gather and meet from sunset. Arabic speaking locals man a tour information desk within the lounge, where Iftar food and beverage offerings, plus shisha are available in a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. Numerous hotels, apartments, restaurants and attractions offer an array of services including prayer rooms, halal dining, quiblas and Korans. The City has an additional, easily accessible visitor information centre with Arabic-speaking staff, as do “Lawand Tourism”, a tourism company that has pioneered Middle East tourism to the region. Middle Eastern holiday makers are encouraged to become a permanent player in the many activities and experiences that make Australia’s Gold Coast Famous for fun.
The business class travellers of tomorrow Travel writer and international jetsetter Gemma Greenwood thought her business class travelling days were numbered when she welcomed her daughter to the family, but it turns out that luxury travel and families can live happily ever after
Future traveller The business class customer of tomorrow
Month2011 June 20XX dotwnews.com dotwnews.com
hen you make the conscious decision to have children, it’s a commitment that impacts every aspect of your life, including the way you travel. I realised this at Christmas, when my husband and I took our six-month-old daughter, Baby G, on her first holiday overseas. We decided to go the whole hog and booked a flight to the other side of the world. Many people would have tested the water first time round and opted for a short-haul destination – a trial run if you like – but no, we preferred to jump in at the deep end and take the gruelling 22-hour flight to Sydney, Australia. We were terrified that our first international flight would be a nightmare with the little one in tow, but our faith in good service was restored by the amazing staff at Singapore Airlines. What really knocked me for six was that for the first time in my adult life, travelling business class was out of the question. There were too many factors against us: with a jam-packed Boxing Day flight on an A380; expensive Christmas airfares; the wretched UK Air Passenger Departure tax; plus our giggling bundle of joy in the equation, it meant it was just too expensive to book three business class seats. So my first ‘back of the bus’ experience for as long as I can remember started off as stressfully as I had feared. The security at Heathrow is challenging at the best of times, but with a sixmonth-old baby to look after, simple things like removing your laptop from your bag and taking off your shoes become even more of a hassle. But once we had cleared security, it was plain sailing. The cabin crew on Singapore Airlines could not have been more helpful. They learned Baby G’s name, gave her toys and provided some of the ‘accessories’ you need when keeping a baby happy for 22 hours. They even offered to babysit while we were eating. I was pleasantly surprised – a baby-friendly airline – who would have thought? Baby G was also very well behaved and captured the heart of one of the cabin crew, who asked to give her a cuddle. Eager for the opportunity for some respite from mothering duties, I agreed, and before I knew it, Baby G was whisked away by a pair of cooing crew members. After five minutes, I poked my head around the curtain into the galley, but she was nowhere to be seen. What seemed like hours later, our little darling emerged from behind the curtain beaming. “She loves business class,” the steward announced. Even though we were resigned to our economy seats, Baby G had experienced her first taste of business class. Proud as punch, I thought to myself: like mother, like daughter.
ilan is high-pressure, a yearround mix of fashion shows and furniture expositions, opera at La Scala, the Duomo cathedral, fine dining and retail. It makes sense, therefore, to stay in the city centre, where you can walk, or, if the weather permits, rent a bike from one of the many do-it-yourself stands around town. Here, in alphabetical order, are the best hotels in the hub of Milan. Bulgari Milano (pictured) is a quiet oasis in the Via Privata Fratelli Gabba cul-de-sac, 10 minutes from the Duomo. The former convent and its beautiful grounds launched the Bulgari hotel brand in 2004. As you would expect from designer Antonio Citterio – he who has made Technogym’s running machine a thing of beauty – nothing about the interiors is unnecessary. The 52 rooms and suites have wooden floors and walls. Suite 316 is long, with the four-poster bed looking out over the gardens. The bed has outline-only wood posts: curtains are deemed unnecessary, as are flowers, but you are treated to Frette linens and Alain Milliat nectars. Down at reception, one lounge winds into another, with big working log fireplace and dozens of serious art-culture books that you long to read. But you need to head on, down six stone steps to the theatre that is the restaurant. This flows from inside to the popular outdoor terrace and out to the garden. All tables seem to be packed with regular locals. GM Attilio Marro, like all Milan’s great hoteliers, is an on-the-spot host, perhaps today welcoming members of the hotel’s 100-strong invitation-only ladies club, run by the formidable Contessa Marta Marzotto. No worries that you are not included – compensate with a tasting of Bulgari Il Cioccolato, perhaps the Sicilian orange flower, honey and lavender flavour. Be good to yourself by using the 24-hour gym (Technogym, naturally – also found in the other two hotels suggested here), and the LED-lit interior pool (more plunge than laps) in the retreat-like spa.
Lifestyle and luxury commentator
“The nerve centre here is the lobby lounge, complete with 15th century frescoes on columns... a regular meeting place for the fashion pack and media, plus more than a handful of bankers”
An insider’s view of the world’s most luxurious hotels Four Seasons Hotel Milano’s spa opens in 2012, but many regular visitors to Milan opt, regardless, for this 118-room hotel, parts of which were originally a 1432 convent built around what is now a gorgeously green formal garden with manicured laurel trees. The nerve-centre here is the lobby lounge, complete with 15th century frescoes on columns. From early morning espresso and biscotti – for those eschewing the served breakfast in the conservatory-like Veranda – through to late-night Avernas, this is a regular meeting place for the fashion pack and media, plus more than a handful of bankers. For one of the most memorable stays, book the 109-square metre Brioni Suite, which has a loft-feel with mansard walls decorated in soft pinks and greys, with hints of purple. Complete the experience with dinner at the kitchen table of Il Teatro restaurant. Passionate chef Sergio Mei will lay out antipasti you could only dream about, and explain every ham joint before carving to order. You will, like all diners in the adjacent main room, finish with a tour of the dedicated, candle-lit chocolate room to choose your own dessert(s). Hotel GM Vincenzo Finizzola is the ideal retail concierge. He seems able to direct you to any boutique and atelier, often out of hours. Here, on Via Gesu, you are a stone’s throw away from such icons as Acqua di Parma, Cavalli and Versace. Park Hyatt Milan is a conversion of an 1870 vintage bank one block over from the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, finished five years earlier and still going strong. You are only five minutes from the Duomo, and double that to La Scala. The 117-room hotel, run by exuberant GM Claudio Ceccherelli – voted ‘Hotelier of the Year 2010’ by Virtuoso – makes up for the lack of green grass by a strong statement of art. At the rear of the central, glass-topped winter garden lobby lounge, for instance, is a stylised 1.9 square-metre head of Medusa, in black, white and gold glass by Argentine sculptor Lucio Fontana. Stay in suite 219, one of six recently redone, and your salon, designed like the entire hotel by Ed Tuttle, has patchwork walls of grey Jim Thompson silks. The spa here features Dr Murad products from Los Angeles, as well as Tuttestetica from Bologna, and there is an inviting vitality pool. The ultra-fit will revel in the yoga equipment and the bicycles that can be borrowed for free from the front desk. Alternatively, walk the Galleria and Duomo and check out the splendid Arcimboldo exhibition at the Palazzo Reale, opposite. There will be yet another reason to return to marvellous Milan. The 90-room Armani Hotel Milano, literally on the upper floors of the Spazio Armani superstore on Via Manzoni, opens soon.
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ALBUM: Eva JEanbart-LorEnzotti
Eva Jeanbart-Lorenzotti, CEO, Vivre, Inc.
va Jeanbart-Lorenzotti grew up in Switzerland but spent many summers in the US, which sparked her love for the country. As soon as she was old enough she made the US her home by attending Columbia University, later joining Lazard Frere as an investment banker. After several years in the corporate world, Eva decided that she wanted to do more with her life and noticed there was a gap in the market for a luxury catalogue company. In 1996 Lorenzotti realised her dream and founded Vivre Inc. With her great vision, insight and determination she built the company from a small business with just two brands and a circulation of 200,000 to a US$5.5 million business, and is now recognised as the industry leader in direct sales of luxury European brands in the US. Vivre Inc. works with artists, architects, designers and artisans from around the world, all of which are hand-picked by either Eva herself or her team of brand specialists. In 2007, Lorenzotti announced a new chapter for Vivre with the launch of Vivre Voyager, a niche section concentrating specifically on style and travel mixed with shopping. In the same year she also opened her first boutique, Escape, at the Cove in the Bahamas. For Eva’s establishment of Vivre Inc. she has been named in Crain’s 40 Under Forty, chosen as a finalist in the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award and is a member of the Young Presidents Organization.
Rome I like to start my day on a sweet note by lingering over a warm cornetto at cafe Ciampini. Gente, just off the Piazza di Spagna, carries modern, sophisticated looks by interesting niche Italian designers. Flea markets are my favourite places to discover new things, and in Rome, I like the Mercato di via Sannio – you can find everything there from striped straw bags and colourful espadrilles to wonderful cheeses and olives. For a quintessential Roman restaurant, I go to Dal Bolognese.
The first rule: wear comfortable shoes, because you never know when you’ll be in a place like Pottinger Street, a winding causeway known for its miniature steps. Not willing to dig for hidden treasures? Head to Maxwell’s Clothiers, one of the top tailors in Hong Kong, renowned for fitting diplomats and aristocrats. Oh, and here’s something for the ladies: in the IFC, Edward Chiu designs one-of-a-kind jewellery using rare raw materials like snow-white jade and black coral.
London gives off great energy: it’s steeped in tradition but has a cheeky edge, and it’s always elegant. Although food wasn’t always something to brag about across the Pond, there’s now so much to try: inventive pub food at The Fat Duck; power lunch at Apsleys, the Lanesborough’s restaurant; Dinner by Heston Blumenthal for out-ofthis-world molecular gastronomy. Checking out the Dover Street Market is essential, as is shoemaker to the Royal Family, John Lobb.
“I always find my way back to the cocoon of the Park Hyatt, ensconced on the top floors of a beautiful Kenzo Tange building”
Couples literally dance in the streets. If your footwork needs fine-tuning, take lessons at the newly opened Academia de Tango Ideal, then join the impromptu tangos. The best way to tap into the local porteno spirit is to stay at Philippe Starck’s very highdesign Faena Hotel + Universe, or at the 1932 Alvear Palace, gilded from the lobby to the bathroom fixtures. The best contemporary Latin American art is on view at the Malba Museum, and for avant-garde, I’ll head to the Ruth Benzacar Gallery.
With its labyrinth of neighbourhoods offering up endless sights, sounds and little delights, I never tire of Tokyo. I always find my way back to the cocoon of the Park Hyatt, ensconced on the top floors of a beautiful Kenzo Tange building. There are more Michelin stars in Tokyo than in Paris (scandal!), but even with all the hype, I still can’t get enough of the Michelin starred Sukiyabashi Jiro; it has the freshest fish – easily the best-kept secret for after-dinner drinks and dancing.
I love St. Barths for its breezy, barefoot-chic aesthetic. My secret: visit in the summer when the prices drop and the Europeans come. After an early morning dip at Saline Beach, grab a quick cappuccino at Maya’s To Go. Then I hit Christiane Celle’s chic boutique in St. Jean for a great fashion find. For a Sunday stroll, there is the invigorating walk to Colombier Beach; if you’d rather not get the exercise, prepare to set sail – the only other way to get there is by boat.
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Treasure island revealed Kenneth Collins, CEO Collins Properties – developer of Desroches Island in the Seychelles
What is the philosophy behind Desroches Island? Desroches is an extension of what my brother and I like to do. We’re outdoorsmen, but also business partners who are conscious of the environment and nature. All those things are what Desroches is about. We’re passionate about preserving the environment, using sustainable building practices – even the water activities like fishing are controlled.
What do you want each of your guests to experience? When guests leave they must feel that their trip there was an extension of their home. We’re not a
branded product, we haven’t got nightclubs; it’s more of a Robinson Crusoe, chilled-out, feet-in-thesand kind of place. They must feel they’ve had great value for money, and that the service and the quality of everything they touch, eat and feel is of the highest standard. Most importantly, they must feel that they want to come back.
Desroches Island’s Beach Retreats are available to own – why buy? It’s basically your own private island home. There are no holding costs, no invoices, everything is provided for you. It’s a very seamless way to live in a very remote location. When you’re not there, there is someone to take care of your home for you, so it’s ready when you arrive.
What is your policy on children in high-end luxury resorts? Children are very much a part of the equation. We’re very lucky in that our resort is over 3.5 km long, so if we do have children that are rowdy, it won’t affect the honeymooners. Madonna could come
there and not be seen, so children definitely won’t be.
What is the biggest risk you’ve taken in developing Desroches? We started building in 2007, so we got our timing spectacularly wrong. To see the development and opening of the property through the recession was a big challenge, and a huge learning curve. We had to decide whether we were going to hire a marketing team or let it grow organically. The biggest risk was probably taking on something we’d never done and being forced to adapt.
How closely do you work with the government when developing a resort in the Seychelles? Very closely. There have been a lot of investors that have come and fallen in love with the islands and then disappeared, so you have to earn their trust. A lot of places in the world have been overdeveloped to the detriment of the environment; that hasn’t happened in the Seychelles. It’s growing massively, but there are not enough
hotels and resorts to accommodate the demand. It’s a very slow-developing economy, but it is speeding up. The environmental side though is very restricted.
How can the Seychelles avoid the pitfalls of overdevelopment? There are a few natural barriers; one is that it’s largely granitic, so it can be difficult to develop on, and the Seychellois are incredibly environmentally conscious people. Money doesn’t mean everything to them. From a foreign investor point of view, it takes some time for them to warm to you and to trust you.
Private offshore banking is now available, correct? Yes. The Seychelles is now promoting itself as a tax haven, much like Mauritius and Gibraltar. They are going through financial and economic reforms to open up the option of investment and business set-up for tax benefits. To read the full interview with Kenneth Collins, please visit dotwnews.com
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Join Nicci Perides in the timeless city of Vienna, experience true luxury in Ethiopia, explore the three cities of Indochina, sit back in th...