Bling is king in the East Coast’s style capital
The engine that drives Formula 1
Untapped paradise in Africa
HISTORIC HOTELS Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor
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Contents March 2011
On the cover 42 Miami heat Andy Round ventures to Americaâ€™s flashiest city, where he finds thereâ€™s a lot more culture than meets the eye
50 Central Africa Josh Kron gets under the skin of the formerly
war-torn DR of Congo and its neighbours and discovers an untapped paradise
56 Racing finish Christian Sylt takes a look inside the hospitality machine that drives the Formula 1 World Championships 74 Historic hotels Hedley Smith takes a stroll down memory lane at the 127-year-old Hotel Windsor in Melbourne
56 Monaco for millionaires Corporate hospitality is an integral part of the Formula 1 World Championships
Contents March 2011
70 In the news
18 Retrospective Chinese New Year in Shanghai 22 Europe London promises to play fair in run-up to 2012 Olympics 24 Middle East & Africa Political upheaval scares off tourists 28 Asia & Oceania Australian tourism battles adversity 32 Americas Kate and Wills set their sights on Canada
36 Trends New travel and transport concepts causing a stir 40 Interview Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority director general Mubarak Al Muhairi gives us a preview of whatâ€™s afoot in the UAE capital
64 Diary The best events around the world in March 2011 66 Spend it New itineraries from the worldâ€™s top travel firms 70 Debut Keeping tabs on the latest hotel openings 72 Suite dreams Our writers try out the best suites money can buy 78 Connoisseur Mary Gostelow checks out weddings in Jakarta 80 The Album Sharilyn Abbajay, vice president of global spas and retail, Marriott International, shares her favourite destinations
82 Final Word Captain Henrik Loft Sorensen, Brilliance of the Seas,
Letter from the Editor MANAGEMENT AT BAHRAIN INTERNATIONAL Circuit announced the cancellation of the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix just as this issue was going to press, officially confirming what many in the region have feared since protesters took to the streets of Bahrain on February 14. But the financial cost that the cancellation of the event will have on Bahrain’s local economy could be nothing compared to the damage it might do to Bahrain, and indeed the region’s image, in the eyes of the world. Bahrain was the first Middle East nation to be awarded the privilege of hosting a Formula 1 Grand Prix back in 2004, a decision based not only on its sound economic development and infrastructure, but also on its history of political stability. The Grand Prix is the highlight of the tourism year for Bahrain, a time when hotel rates soar yet hoteliers still report 100 percent occupancy, and international visitors fill local shops and restaurants with foreign currency. What is clear now is that the Bahraini government needs to find a solution to the problem to prevent long-term damage to its tourism and business events industries, which are fundamental to its further growth and to its image internationally. EVEN IF THE STREETS OF MANAMA ARE NOT going to be filled with the roar of 950Bhp engines in the next few weeks, the Formula 1 World Championships will kick off with the Formula 1 Qantas Australian Grand Prix on March 25-27, then proceed to 19 destinations around the world. Our motor racing insider Christian Sylt knows more than most about how the mighty Formula 1 machine works, so we sent him off this month to find out more about the lucrative and somewhat mysterious corporate hospitality industry that follows the tournament around the planet. Many say the hospitality circuit is the real engine that drives Formula 1, with cash-rich corporate sponsors spending millions of dollars in exchange for their logos on the teams’ cars and overalls – and more importantly, exclusive access to the Paddock Club; the perfect environment for glamour-fuelled corporate entertainment and schmoozing. Our cover story this month saw Andy Round travel to Miami to find out whether the East Coast’s most flamboyant city has grown up over the last few years.
He wasn’t disappointed. What he found was a hub that will always remain a magnet for the stars, where bling is king and all that glitters really is gold. But at the same time, Miami is a destination that is broadening its horizons and developing a reputation as a home for the arts, lead by the gleaming light of the new Frank Gehry-designed New World Center (pictured). At the opposite end of the tourism spectrum, Josh Kron spent the first few months of the year exploring some of Central Africa’s best-kept secrets, places that remain blissfully undiscovered by mass tourism, before heading to report for the New York Times on the referendum in Sudan, which saw the creation of the world’s newest country – Southern Sudan. This month also sees the first in our new series, ‘Historic Hotels’, in which Hedley Smith takes a trip down memory lane behind the impressive façade of the Hotel Windsor - an Australian institution that pre-dates even Europe’s most historic properties. We also speak to Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority director general His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi to find out how the UAE capital set out on the road to must-visit destination status. Lastly, we take a peek inside a luxurious suite at Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel in ‘Suite Dreams’. Happy travels.
Joe Mortimer Editor
New World Center Frank Gehry’s new building is home to America’s Orchestral Academy, the New World Symphony
Contributors March 2011, Issue 57
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 LIV at Miami’s Fontainebleau hotel DESTINATIONS OF THE WORLD NEWS
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Christian Sylt has been writing about the leisure tourism industry since 2001 and currently writes for the Daily Telegraph, Independent and London Evening Standard newspapers. The companies he follows range from Euro Disney to Monte-Carlo SBM, and he also specialises in reporting on the sports tourism sector, with a particular emphasis on the economic impact of Formula 1. Read his report on the multi-million dollar hospitality industry that is the real driving force of Formula 1 on pages 56-62.
Editor Joe Mortimer email@example.com
1/26/09 9:11:31 AM
Senior Editor Andy Round firstname.lastname@example.org
@DOTWNEWS FEB Option 2 l5.indd 1
Andy Round works between the Middle East and Europe as the senior editor of Destinations of the World News. He has worked as the editor of a daily newspaper in Malta, run a portfolio of magazines in Dubai and got lost looking for gorillas in Rwanda. Andy recenty travelled to Miami to discover bling is still king in the capital of cool, from the beautiful people that flock to the beaches and clubs, to the thriving art scene that is transforming the way the world views this East Coast gem. Pages 42-46.
Publisher Anna Zhukov email@example.com
Bling is king in the East Coast’s style capital
Based in East Africa, Josh Kron has covered travel, politics, and development for the New York Times, Guardian, and Foreign Policy, travelling throughout East Africa, Europe, and parts of Asia in the process. For this issue, Josh took time out from reporting on the referendum in Sudan to write about the undiscovered side of Central Africa, where many countries remain largely untouched by tourism, making them hidden gems for those in search of exclusive private experiences. Read his story on page 50-54.
Mary Gostelow is one of the world’s most prolific travellers and an authority on all things luxury. Mary says she spends at least 300 days a year on the road, but we think it’s probably nearer to 360. She is editor-at-large of WOW.travel, the online magazine of kiwicollection.com, and founder and owner of the Gostelow Report, plus a regular contributor to Destinations of the World News. This month, Mary gatecrashes weddings in Indonesia (page 78) and shares her luxury tips from around the world in her column, Mary Says (page 23).
The engine that drives Formula 1
Untapped paradise in Africa
HISTORIC HOTELS Melbourne’s Hotel Windsor
2/24/11 9:48 AM
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COMMENT title Sectiony Retrospective
hina wasn’t the only country celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, but it has to be said that nowhere else went to such lengths to ring in the new year. Streets, malls, buses and even buildings were decorated in rabbit motifs throughout the country, while tour guides used lucky rabbits instead of flags to rally their groups of tourists. The celebrations started on the night of February 2 – Chinese New Year’s Eve – and went on for most of the month, although the official holiday period came to an end on Monday February 14, when most returned to work. The celebrations were a serious business that required a substantial public holiday but in typical People’s Republic fashion, the government demanded that in return for the extended holidays, people would be required to work an extra day of the week to make up for the lost productivity. Still, no one seemed to mind. Many took the opportunity to leave the city for a few days and visit families in the countryside, so tourists travelling to Shanghai expecting to see a bustling metropolis of 25 million were shocked to find the streets almost deserted in many parts of town, with the exception of tourists areas like the old town (pictured), where celebrations for the Year of the Metal Rabbit continued in full force.
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London promises to play fair in Olympic build-up UK tourism board VisitBritain has committed to ensuring that hotels and other travel-related companies play fair in the lead-up to London 2012, with the introduction of a Fair Price Charter. Companies that sign up to the voluntary code of practice will commit to providing a fair pricing structure that will enable them to maximise profitability during the 2012 Olympic Games, but not at the cost of longterm business opportunities. “Ultimately the market will dictate [the price of hotel rooms] – this is the way the business works – but hotels will sell at a rate at which the clients will buy,” said Chris Foy, head of VisitBritain’s 2012 Games unit. “Prices may go up a bit but that’s the way things tend to go. One of the big lessons they learnt from the hotel sector during the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics was that the prices at the time of the event set the tone for the next 10 years, which will leave a great impression on the country.” The average daily room rate for a hotel in London from November 2009 – November 2010 was US$214, but VisitBritain has refused to speculate what the potential increase in average daily room rates might be during the Games in 2012.
They expect to see more than half a million visitors coming to Britain during the four-week event, but the organisation is confident that the city’s 120,000 hotel rooms will be able to cope with the sudden influx during peak season. Supply in the luxury hotel sector will increase substantially over the next 18 months, with the recent reopening of The Savoy and the opening of the new Four Seasons at Park Lane, plus the upcoming Bulgari Hotel in Knightsbridge, which is set to open in time for the Games. “One of the reasons London got the Games is because it has such a huge inventory of rooms, so people who want to come for non-Games related reasons should find somewhere to stay in London,” said Foy. “It could also be a great opportunity to try somewhere different. Cambridge and Oxford are less than an hour away and there is some great accommodation in places like that. “We want to put out a positive message that we are open for business and there is a large number of suppliers offering a fair deal for visitors to Britain next year, not just during the Olympics,” Foy added. The tourism board is also keen to ensure that London doesn’t hog
all the limelight during the Games, emphasising the golden opportunity the rest of the country has to showcase what it has to offer to tourists. Although the Games fall during peak travel season, VisitBritain expects that many tourists who would come to London during that period may choose a different time of year, or travel outside of London. “This is a great opportunity for the rest of the UK to show itself off. Whether the other cities receive large numbers of visitors during the Olympic period or not, it is the long game we are looking at,” Foy added. The Olympic Games are expected to generate some US$3.2-$4.8 billion for Britain’s economy between 2012 and 2015: “That is what I call the tourism dividend for the Games. Add to that Royal Wedding and you can most likely expect another 20-25 percent.”
Bulgari launches luxury hotel in London BULGARI Hotels & Resorts is set to open a new luxury boutique hotel in London’s upmarket Knightsbridge area in the spring of 2012, in time for the London Olympics. The Bulgari Hotel in London will be the third property launched by the fashion brand, which also has hotels in Milan and Bali. Designed by Italian architectural firm Antonio Citterio, Patricia Viel & Partners and UK-based Squire and Partners, the hotel will be kitted out in marbles, fine woods, sleek lines and refined colour combinations, the company promises, with silver as the dominant colour.
Situated in the heart of Central London in close proximity to Hyde Park, the Bulgari Hotel in London promises to epitomise the best of the Italian fashion brand, while maintaining a distinctively British feel. “Constructing a new building in this part of London is an extraordinary achievement because the city tends to be extremely conservative due to its consolidated urban plan,” said Antonio Citterio. “The architectural style of the project reflects the rigour of the Bulgari Hotel in Milan: its classic, solid, contemporary style will consolidate the urban landscape in an area of
London that is undergoing a profound transformation.” The 85-room hotel will be the first new-build luxury hotel in London in 40 years. It will feature seven Bulgari suites at 200 square metres or bigger, with extra-special amenities and exclusive services. Bulgari says the restaurant and bar will become the “destination of choice” in pricey Knightsbridge. Currently under development by UK-based Prime Development, the hotel will also feature a large ballroom, a private cinema and a 2,000sqm spa and fitness centre with 25m indoor swimming pool.
Hot luxury travel advice straight off the international grapevine NO need to go to London to shop at The Savoy; www.shopatthesavoy.com has regularly changing collections of stunning gifts and souvenirs. New brands include Dunhill, Anya Hindmarch and royal portraitist Georgina Barclay. And if you are in London and staying at the gorgeous new-look Savoy, SHOP at The Savoy can arrange personal stylists and day-long bespoke shopping itineraries. For one of the most over-the-top memorable starts to a day, worldwide, try The Ritz-Carlton Moscow’s Tsar’s Breakfast. Two of you get a bottle of Cristal, a selection of caviars, foie gras, Kobe steaks and truffle omelettes for the princely sum of $3,000. If you have any rubles left over, it is only a 10-minute walk from the hotel to Tretyakovsky Proyezd, the medieval street that is now revitalised, thanks to Mercury Corporation, with every brand from Anne Sémonin through to Ermenegildo Zegna. Guests of the Cavalieri Waldorf Astoria in Rome can get fast-track entry to the 15-month-old MAXXI National Museum of XXI Century Arts. One of the current exhibitions salutes Turkish filmmaker Kutluğ Ataman. MAXXI is designed by Zaha Hadid, architect of Abu Dhabi’s forthcoming Performing Arts Centre on Saadiyat Island.
Rolling stock We’ve seen a lot of hotel concepts come our way, from buildings in the shape of dogs to oil rigs converted into rooms, but we have never seen a hotel that runs on rails. Until now. Those fiendishly clever architects over at Jagnefalt Milton in Sweden have come up with a proposal for hotel box rooms that individually roll along tracks. The giant wooden blocks would be rolled across the countryside to new locations depending on the season. The concept remains at the planning stages, but the architects were awarded third prize when they presented their scheme as part of a master plan competition for the Norwegian city of Andalsnes.
In Miami, head for The Webster, at 1220 Collins Avenue on Miami Beach, www. thewebstermiami.com. The 1930s Art Deco building, once The Webster Hotel, is now a retail emporium owned and run by long-time Gucci specialist Frederic Dechnik; Laura Heriard Dubreuil, ex Balenciaga; and high-profile ideas genius, Milan Vukmirovic, formerly creative director at Gucci Group and Jil Sander. BY MARY GOSTELOW
Middle East & Africa
In a neat bit of pre-show publicity for last month’s Business Travel & Meetings Show, a survey of 1,000 people by the exhibition organisers found the top annoyance factor of passengers travelling first class was children (74 percent). David Chapple, the show’s director, said: “It’s frustrating for travellers who have paid a premium in expectation that they will work and sleep in comfort to have that peace disturbed by noisy children.” A number of train operators have introduced Quiet Zones and it will be interesting to see how airlines react to the idea of banning children from some cabins.
Destinations of the World News is an unashamed lover of airports. We love the fully stocked lounges, the wild designs of superstar architects and the frisson of excitement when preparing to visit somewhere new. But never in our wildest dreams did we imagine a concept as compelling as carpetsforairports. com, which examines carpets in airports around the world. The site describes itself as celebrating “the inviolable song of the airport carpet, a sign of man’s refusal to go drably into the night of international travel”.
Just the ticket
Ryanair’s innovative pricing policies took a beating recently, when a Spanish judge said the airline’s attempts to charge passengers to print a boarding pass was illegal. The verdict was handed down after lawyer Dan Miro, who specialises in fighting for passenger rights, was charged US$54 for a boarding pass in Girona last year. The judge said it was illegal to “oblige the passenger to be the one who brings the printed pass or pay a penalty”. Ryanair said the fee covered their costs for finding “an ad hoc solution” to the problem of no-show tickets. A solution like pressing ‘print’?
Moving on Most of the main tourist attractions in Egypt were reopened shortly after the protests died down
Tourism down after civil unrest in Middle East THE wave of civil unrest and antigovernment protests that has swept through the Middle East is proving to be a major deterrent to tourists across the region and beyond. Egypt has taken the worst battering, with many major tourist attractions left deserted in the wake of the anti-government protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak’s regime last month. Egyptian authorities estimated that the country lost out on more than US$1 billion in tourism receipts in the first nine days of the protests. Egypt’s tourism industry is responsible for 11 percent of economic earnings and attracted some 14.7 million visitors in 2010. Speaking at the Asia Pacific Incentives and Meetings Expo in Australia last month, ETA tourism counsellor Ibrahim Khalil told delegates that tourism was expected to recover quickly. “Many tourists have continued and are continuing to holiday in the Red Sea areas and other parts of Egypt which is great and very much indicative of their confidence in the security and safety in Egypt,” he said.
“The country has gone through many tough times, and we have always pulled through and proved our capabilities to recover as a top tourist destination for travellers.” Areas like Sharm el-Sheikh and the other resorts on the Red Sea coast were largely unaffected by the unrest, which was centred around Cairo and Alexandria, but other attractions such as the Pyramids of Giza and Luxor remain deserted despite having been officially reopened for business.
public during the upheaval, but local media reported that several artefacts had been damaged at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. In Bahrain, anti-government protests in the capital Manama left several dead and scores wounded when government troops opened fire on protesters in the central Pearl Square area. Bahrain is largely a business tourism destination, with leisure tourists accounting for a small percentage of visitors, but the unrest resulted
“The country has gone through many tough times, and we have always pulled through and proved our capabilities to recover as a top tourist destination for travellers” Many governments lifted travel warnings for Egypt after the protests died down, but at press time the British Foreign Office was warning against “all but essential travel” to Cairo, Alexandria, Luxor and Suez. There were no reports of damage to any of Egypt’s ancient monuments, which were reopened to the
in the cancellation of the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, scheduled to commence March 3 at the Bahrain International Circuit. Civil unrest also affected tourism in countries across the Middle East including Yemen, Libya and Algeria, Jordan, Syria and Tunisia, where protests began in January.
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Middle East & Africa
Qatar flies to Venice
Qatar Airways is set to launch daily flights to the Italian city of Venice from June 15. The airline will deploy an Airbus A320 on the route, featuring 12 seats in business class and 132 in economy. Venice will be the airline’s 26th destination in Europe. The airline has also launched flights to Brussels (five weekly), Budapest (four weekly) and Bucharest (four weekly). On March 6, Qatar Airways adds Stuttgart to its network, followed on April 6 with new flights to Aleppo, Syria, its 100th destination.
IATA: airline growth unsustainable
The airline industry is expected to generate US$600 billion in revenue in 2011, but it is still facing debt of $205 billion, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). At its Vision 2050 meeting in Singapore, leaders discussed the future of the industry that supports $3.5 trillion in economic activity worldwide each year. “Our commitments to tackle climate change are the most ambitious of any global industry. And we are the safest mode of transport. But our margins are pathetic; just 0.1% over the last 40 years,” said Giovanni Bisignani, director general and CEO of IATA. “This isn’t sustainable. We need to look ahead to anticipate change as we prepare to handle the 16 billion passengers and 400 million tonnes of freight that we will handle in 2050.”
Singapore increases fuel surcharge
Singapore Airways has increased its fuel surcharge to meet the increasing cost of jet fuel, which has now reached US$110 per barrel. The surcharge on a flight between Singapore and Europe is now US$142 for business class tickets. “Singapore Airlines will continue to closely monitor the price of fuel and keep surcharges under constant review,” said the airline in a statement.
Stars in the sand Skateboarding legend Tony Hawk tries his hand at sandboarding on the mighty 300metre-high dunes of the Rub’ Al Khali (Empty Quarter) in Abu Dhabi. “It was fun and a challenge, I never thought of sand as a surface you could ride on, so I was really surprised that we got so fast,” said Hawk. The millionaire sports star visited the UAE along with several other sporting champions for the Laureus World Sports Awards, which took part in the capital in February.
Saray Spa rolled out across Middle East MARRIOTT has rolled out a new spa brand that will initially be introduced to its new hotels in the Middle East and Africa, themed around Arabic healing rituals and the hospitality of the nomadic tribes that once wandered the expanses of the Silk Road. Saray Spa was launched at the Marriott Harbour Hotel and Suites in Dubai, where a 550 square metre space has been transformed into a tranquil Caravanserai-inspired spa. Fourteen additional Saray Spas will open up throughout the region in the next three years, and the brand is set to go global later this year. Marriott’s vice president of global spas Sharilyn Abbajay said the Saray concept aims to forge a connection
Arabic retreat Saray spa at the Marriott Tripoli in Libya
between guests and the destination in which the spas are located, providing them with an authentic experience typical of the region. “In today’s fast-paced and interconnected society that constantly overloads us with information and activities, you sometimes need to unplug and take a minute to reconnect with yourself,” said Abbajay.
“Saray brings back wonderful ancient remedies to help regain that calm. We want all of our spas to have a story. It’s important today for any brand to have a story, like the fashion and cosmetics brands of old, like Elizabeth Arden and Estee Lauder.” The flagship Saray Spa will be located at the JW Marriott Marquis Hotel Dubai, opening in 2012.
Asia & Oceania
Australia battles ongoing obstacles THE land Down Under just can’t catch a break. After spending US$4 million on a tourismpromotion scheme that involved flying US talk show host Oprah Winfrey and 300 of her audience members to Australia last year, the country has had to battle a string of natural disasters that have wreacked havoc on its tourism industry. Flooding in the state of Queensland in January killed 35 people and cost billions in damages and lost earnings. Shortly afterwards, category five Cyclone Yasi ripped through northern Queensland causing further damages, and then there were the bushfires that flared up in Perth Hills just days after the storm had passed. The government is now facing bills that run into billions of dollars, while live reports broadcast around the world have further harmed the region’s image abroad. According to Tourism Queensland, some of the areas that have been hit the hardest weren’t even touched by the floods, like Cairns, Whitsundays and the Gold Coast. While Tourism Queensland has launched a $600,000 campaign to entice visitors back to these areas, they are also pushing for Australian citizens to do their part by taking domestic holidays rather than venturing outside the country.
“The government is now facing bills that run into billions of dollars” Australia’s strong dollar had already taken its toll on tourism arrivals last year, deterring visitors from Europe, the UK and the US, whose own currencies had fared worse in the economic crisis, while the country’s geographical location and long-haul flying time are further reason for tourists to look at alternative destinations. Environmentalists and economists have been predicting that climate change will have a negative impact on Australia’s tourism industry since the early 90s, but few expected so many small incidents to have such a large impact in such a short space of time. As nearly 90 percent of small businesses in Queensland are tourism-related, the recovery of the industry is crucial to the stability of the country’s economic wellbeing.
THE MONTH IN NUMBERS
Visitor arrivals to Hong Kong from Mainland China during the ‘Golden Week’ after Chinese New Year’s Eve in 2011, a 15.7 percent increase over 2010’s Golden Week.
International visitor arrivals to Singapore in 2010, a yearon-year increase of 20 percent compared to the same period in the previous year (January - December 2009).
The price increase per barrel of Singapore Jet Fuel from September 2010 to January 2011, according to Qantas CEO Alan Joyce.
Asia & Oceania
Explorers uncover world’s largest cave
Vietnam’s Halong Bay in Quang Ninh province is set to become a global must-see destination after the recent discovery of the world’s largest cave, the Son Doong Cave in the northwest of the country. A team of explorers recently mapped the cave, which measures 80 metres across and 80 metres high for most of its 4.5 kilometre passage, making it larger than the previous recordholder, Deer Cave in Malaysia.
Your next ski holiday: Pakistan?
Singapore’s Merlion becomes a hotel
Singapore’s famous Merlion statue in the city’s Marina Bay district, which has been a major tourist attraction since its construction in 1972, is being converted into a temporary hotel suite. The Merlion Hotel will be unveiled on March 11 and will welcome guests for overnight stays as part of this year’s Singapore Biennale, an event organised by the Singapore Art Museum that features a number of thought-provoking art installation projects set up throughout the city. The hotel opens for public viewing on March 13, but only for two months until May 16, when it will resume its previous identity as a national landmark.
When art meets science The Singapore ArtScience Museum is now open at Marina Bay Sands, one of the city’s two new integrated resort developments. Architect Moshe Safdie has woven some practical touches into the lotus-inspired building; the roof collects rainwater and funnels it into a waterfall that cascades through the central atrium, and at night it transforms into an amphitheatre that showcases light and laser shows.
Amanpulo Resort adds Aman spa AMANPULO Resort in the Philippines welcomed the addition of an Aman Spa in February, featuring six spa treatment rooms in three pavilions, a yoga and meditation pavilion, a Pilates studio, a gymnasium and a finishing salon for hair, hand and foot treatments. Each treatment room contains a deep-soaking bathtub and steam shower, and as of this month, two steam rooms with cold plunge pools will be available. Guests at the Amanpulo can be picked up by valet and transported to the spa, which is situated on the slopes of a hill overlooking the emerald green treetops and the Sulu Sea, or they can drive themselves in their own private buggy.
Photo: Aman Resorts
Pakistan’s only ski resort, Malam Jabba in the Swat Valley, is set to reopen its doors to tourism after it was destroyed in an air strike in 2008 following its possession by the Taliban in 2006. Located around 314 kilometres from Islamabad in the Karakoram Mountains, Malam Jabba Resort boasts four ski lifts and features two Buddhist stupas and six monasteries throughout its grounds. To get there visitors will have to fly to Islamabad airport before taking a connecting flight to Saidu Sharif airport, which is about 45km from Malam Jabba.
Sheer heaven Amanpulo’s new Aman Spa overlooks the Sulu Sea
Canada enjoys the Olympic effect
Royal couple bound for Canada
Canada is being cited as an example of how hosting a major sporting event can benefit a country’s tourism industry, after recent figures showed that Vancouver’s 2010 Olympic and Paralympic hosting duties helped boost travel bookings not only to the west-coast city, but to the rest of Canada as well. Around 290,000 British travellers ventured to Canada in 2010, almost double 2009’s figures and triple 2008’s. More than 70,000 Australians also booked flights to Canada in 2010, and large increases were recorded for German and French travellers too.
Ritz-Carlton Reserve Los Cabos to open
The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC has announced a new ‘Reserve’ resort in Los Cabos, Mexico, scheduled for completion in 2014. The project is a joint venture with Grupo Questro and Trinity Investments LLC and will be the first Ritz-Carlton Reserve in the country. Situated on 800 feet of beachfront property on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula on the Sea of Cortez, each of the luxury resort’s 124 ocean-facing villas will feature breathtaking sea views, private infinity plunge pools and outdoor terraces with fireplace, outdoor shower and private butler.
Up in smoke
E-cigarettes are the latest aid in the quest to stop smoking, and until now they’ve been permitted on flights (one of their main selling points), but that’s about to change. The plastic or metal devices have been marketed as a safer alternative to lighting up, but health officials aren’t yet convinced. Many airlines in the US have begun prohibiting e-cigarettes, and the US Department of Transportation has stated it plans to issue an official ban this spring.
Fit for royalty Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in the province of Alberta is one of the spots Kate and WIlls are expected to visit
PRINCE William and Kate Middleton will visit Canada on their first official overseas trip as a married couple, touring across the provinces of Alberta, Quebec, Canada’s capital city Ottawa in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories and Prince Edward Island from June 30 – July 8, 2011. It is thought they will celebrate the nation’s 144th birthday in Ottawa on July 1, and that Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who extended a formal invitation to the royal couple to visit the country shortly after their engagement, will host a special banquet in their honour while they are in Ottawa. As a part of the British Commonwealth, Canada is still under the Queen’s rule, and William is considered a Prince of Canada as well.
He previously visited the country at age 15 with his father Prince Charles and his brother Prince Harry, touring the city of Vancouver and Whistler ski resort in the province of British Columbia. Queen Elizabeth II visited Canada last July and Prince Charles spent 11 days there with his wife, Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall, in 2009.
has been one of the strongest contributors to the country’s sturdy economic performance during the global recession. High-profile events like the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and this summer’s Royal Visit are expected to further enhance Canada’s appeal as a holiday destination for travellers in North America and abroad. The Canadian Tourism Commission is
“The Canadian Tourism Commission is now setting its sights on China, the world’s most rapidly expanding outbound tourism market” Despite showing declines in accordance with the economic downturn in 2008/2009, Canada’s tourism industry maintained a steady place in the market and
now setting its sights on China, the world’s most rapidly growing outbound tourism market, with its campaign ‘Say hello Canada’, targeting affluent 25-34-year-olds.
“In order to offset higher fuel costs that continue to face the industry, we implemented a modest system-wide fare increase of US$5 oneway.” Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Ashley Dillon comments on their fuel-driven ticket price increases.
“The [cruise] industry has ridden the economic storm of the past 18-plus months with remarkable resiliency, skill and success.” Jan Swartz of Princess Cruises and Cunard Line.
“If a model frolics in the Rockies, does anybody notice? And does anybody care?” The Calgary Herald newspaper asks its readers if the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel’s efforts to attract publicity by serving as a shoot location for Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Edition will be effective.
A match made in heaven A performer dressed as an angel addresses the crowds at the re-opening ceremony of Estadio Unico de La Plata stadium in La Plata, Argentina. The venue hosted the opening match of Copa America 2011, considered ‘the most important football event in South America’, between Argentina and Bolivia.
Where have all the tourists gone? ACCORDING to the U.S. Travel Association (USTA) recent data shows that America attracted one percent fewer visitors in 2010 than it did in 2000, with 25,974,700 arriving in the US from overseas in 2000, compared to 25,715,300 in 2010. While the drop may not seem significant, the fact that fewer travellers are coming to the U.S. from abroad at a time when international travel is more accessible than ever before is not promising news.
The U.S. favours visitors from overseas because they spend an average of US$4,000 per trip, while tourists coming from neighbouring countries Mexico and Canada spend only around $900 per trip. The USTA estimates that America has lost a total of 79 million visitors over the past decade, ultimately costing the country over US$585 million in lost spending and $37 billion in lost tax revenues.
DESTINATIONS: GO GLOBAL ZIMBABWE
I TA LY
Tourist resorts seized
It’s all in the game
Here’s a fantastic way to boost your country’s tourism potential: first launch a campaign marketing your nation as a ‘land of wonders’. Next, use a militia to forcibly take over safari lodges and restaurants all over your country. Then, just to make sure everyone’s comfortable, search all foreign holidaymakers. This is the unique approach Zimbabwe is taking to its tourism product. White-owned safari lodges such as those on the shores of Lake Chivero and in the mountainous Nyanga district were raided by Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party and in some cases confiscated “in anticipation of an audit” that will allow the state to have a 51 percent shareholding in foreign companies. This new approach to marketing seems to be working, as tourism figures in Zimbabwe continue to plummet.
Taking the Mickey
On paper it probably sounded great: build the sixth biggest Disneyland in the world and wait to count the millions of yuan flooding through the turnstiles. Construction of a US$3.6 billion Disneyland in Shanghai is scheduled to start in May and already the knives are out. The big-eared über mouse is being flagged up as an evil symbol of American popular culture. “We don’t need to import an American theme park to Shanghai – if Disney wants to stay it needs to include Chinese culture,” fumed Chang Qing of the People’s Political Consultative Conference. There are also concerns about the project’s profitability. Chinese commentators have pointed out that six-year-old Hong Kong Disneyland has still not recouped its costs.
Travel guides come in all shapes, sizes, media formats and applications, but we’ve never seen a guide designed as a competition. Enter Whai Whai in Italy, where tourists text-message the company and specify how long they want to play, the difficulty level they prefer and where they want to start. Whai Whai then sends a series of quests to be solved, each requiring local knowledge to solve, before moving on to a new destination. The text accompanies a guidebook featuring a series of interconnecting stories that unravel to reveal the history of a destination. It’s all very exciting. At present there are guides (and message services) for Venice, Rome, Florence and Verona, and naturally an iPhone app ready and waiting. It’s all a bit Da Vinci Code, but without Tom Hanks.
J A PA N
Families take the bullet
There is nothing like a herd of screaming, running, shouting children on your train/plane or hotel lobby to put a spring in your step. So passengers on bullet trains in Japan will be disappointed to learn that some routes are adopting familyonly carriages. Yes, nappy changing, screeching matches and toddling tots will be confined to specific cars and you’ll be forced to travel with just adults. The concept was trialled over the summer and festive holidays and it was found to be hugely popular. At present the scheme has just been introduced on the Central Japan Railway but it looks likely to be rolled out across other routes in the country.
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HOT Healthy break Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat on Australia’s Gold Coast is arranging men’s-only holidays. “The overwhelming majority of clients are being signed up by their wives,” said a spokesman.
Crime and punishment If you were a hotel manager, would you employ murderers on your staff? HOW far does your sense of corporate social responsibility go? A bit of community service at the weekend, or perhaps helping out at your local school? Would you be prepared to help a murderer get a job after being released from prison? It’s an interesting issue and one that had the blogosphere and international newspapers buzzing with indignation and self-righteousness when it was revealed that UK company Travelodge had given three female convicted murderers jobs at one of its hotels in the northern city of York. One of the employees is receptionist Pat Bulmer, who lured her husband Robert into an ambush and watched as her lover fatally knifed him. Robert Bulmer’s sister Hepsy described Travelodge’s decision as disgusting. “I don’t suppose the customers know a thing,” she told news agencies. “If you’re staying at a hotel you don’t expect to find three killers working there.” The other two employees are Julie Richardson, who kicked her father to death, and former drug addict Linda White, who fatally stabbed her former boyfriend. Both work as room cleaners. Travelodge defended the decision to give the women jobs and said they were being employed as part of their rehabilitation. Jon Hendry-Pickup, the hotel’s operations director, said the company was one of a number of businesses in York supporting prisoner rehabilitation programmes. “We employ three workers from the programme, they have different roles and work separate hours at the hotel,” he said. “As part of their rehabilitation prior to joining Travelodge, all the women underwent a comprehensive training project and carried out voluntary work at various charities including a homeless shelter.” Hendry-Pickup stressed that the hotel company does not discriminate against any employee and continues to support nationwide government employment schemes such as LEP – a programme designed to get disadvantaged members of society back to work. “These women are motivated to make a better life for themselves and should be given every 38
opportunity and encouragement to succeed without prejudice,” said a Travelodge statement. Appearing on the BBC when the story broke was Tim Lineham from Nacro, a charity set up to reduce crime. He said that involving former prisoners in the community was critical to rehabilitation and vital in efforts to reduce re-offending. The UK’s Justice Ministry issued a statement saying: “Prisoners may be released to work only after they meet strict criteria and pass a rigorous risk assessment. Only those representing a minimal risk are eligible. Equally those on licence can only take a job after agreement from their probation officer.” The decision sent many UK newspapers and websites into a feeding frenzy. “Life should mean life,” said one commentator on The Daily Mail’s site, while another said, “Taking a life is certainly cheap these days.” The more sober Economist said: “Some newspapers seem to have competed to express quite how appalled they are. We agree with Travelodge’s reasoning and applaud this rehabilitative effort.”
LOST AND FOUND On a lighter note, we love Travelodge’s annual lost property press release. It’s like Christmas: it comes around once a year and spreads joy to all the good boys and girls. For the uninitiated, the release details all the items left in its 460 hotels during the previous year. This year the most common book abandoned was The Unauthorised Biography of Simon Cowell, followed by more predictable Stieg Larssons and Dan Browns. The most unusual items included a Bengal kitten, a life-sized Dalek, false teeth and a diamond-encrusted Rolex. Apparently, more than 75,000 soft toys were lost, one customer misplaced US$20,000, and more entertainingly, a groom was found tied to his hotel bed on the morning of his wedding.
Travel to recharge Hats off to healthandfitnesstravel.com, a new site that focuses on health-kick trips around the world. Favourites include a detox in Spain, yoga in Thailand and boot camp in California. Restaurant warning The next time you’re in New York and using your Foursquare app, log on to DontEat.at, the application that text messages you if you find yourself in a restaurant that has been given a low grade by NYC health inspectors. Solar path The Dutch government has given the go-ahead to install solar panels on a cycle path in Krommenie. The panels are expected to generate 50KWh of electricity per square metre for street lighting.
Fuelling the fire More cruise operators are adding a fuel surcharge to their bookings. Cruise & Maritime is slapping on US$6 per passenger per day. Other operators in the same boat include Swan Hellenic, Hebridean and All Leisure. Croco-dial A tourist accidently dropped her phone into the open jaws of a crocodile at a Ukrainian aquarium while trying to take a picture. Allegedly staff didn’t believe her until they called the phone and the reptile rang. Tour boats burned Surfers are being blamed for arson attacks on two tour boats used for shark-spotting in Hawaii. Surfers argue that fish bait used to attract sharks causes them to associate humans – particularly surfers – with food. Accident-prone Research company Ascend says the aviation industry’s rate of one fatal accident for every 1.3 million flights in 2010 was poor compared to one in every 1.5 million the year before.
INTERVIEW MUBARAK AL MUHAIRI
Man with a plan
Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority director general HE Mubarak Al Muhairi talks to Joe Mortimer about the makings of the Middle East’s most ambitious tourism board
espite what the international media would have us believe, there are some parts of the Middle East where sentiments towards governments remain strong. Most notably among the Gulf States would be the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, where the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority (ADTA) recently celebrated another major milestone in its tourism development master plan, attracting not only large volumes of international tourists to the emirate, but also laying out a road map for investors and operators to develop the tourism infrastructure further. The ADTA continues to draw on all departments within the public and private sector in Abu Dhabi to ensure the rapid expansion of the tourism industry within the emirate through cross-departmental cooperation. The responsibility for leading the organisation falls on His Excellency Mubarak Al Muhairi, who includes the role of director general of ADTA in his portfolio of high-ranking travel and tourism-related responsibilities. Al Muhairi launched ADTA with chairman His Excellency Sheikh Sultan Bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan in 2004, after a successful stint heading up the Al Ain Economic Development and Tourism Promotion Authority, which was set up to stimulate growth in the town of Al Ain, the second city in Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Sultan invited Al Muhairi to help set up what is now known as ADTA. “I was 31 at that time and when you are 31 you can make these bold decisions – resign from here and move there – so I joined, hoping that we could change Abu Dhabi one day,” Al Muhairi explains. “Time will tell if the team has been successful. So far the feedback has always been good.” And for good reason. Last month the organisation released its tourism arrival figures for 2010, which managed to surpass its target for the year by eight percent. ADTA says Abu Dhabi’s hotels hosted some 1.81 million guests during 2010, 18 percent more than in 2009. Addressing delegates at a tourism stakeholder meeting last month, Al Muhairi said ADTA would increase the target for 2011 arrivals from 1.9 million to two million, indicating a 10.5 percent increase on 2010’s figures: “Our destination rose to the challenge in 2010 and we believe we can do it again,” he says. “We have our work cut out for us with another 4,000-plus rooms in both business and leisure hotels and resorts due to come online this year, adding to our expansive existing room stock of 18,844.”
Al Muhairi is known within the organisation as an extremely demanding director general whose expectations always push the organisation, and the private sector stakeholders, to the limits of achievement. But Abu Dhabi is not known for missing deadlines. On November 1, 2009, the government-run real estate developer ALDAR threw open the doors to its new Yas Island development and welcomed thousands of visitors and the attention of the world’s media to the inaugural Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Other major upcoming developments include branches of the Guggenheim and Louvre museums, the Zayed National Museum, a performing arts centre and a swathe of five-star hotels on Saadiyat Island, which will all complement the recently-opened Ferrari World Abu Dhabi and Yas Marina Circuit. On the events side, 2011 will see two major international gatherings that will attract the world’s attention once more: the Volvo Ocean Race 2011/12 and the World Ophthalmology Congress, which will see more than 12,000 doctors converge in Abu Dhabi.
“Tourism is very elastic. It touches everything. You cannot build a destination by only having hotels or good connectivity or only good services in the F&B industry. It’s everything. It’s the experience” When the master plan was unveiled several years earlier for a mixed-use island development that would feature hotels, golf courses, marinas, an international standard race circuit (the Yas Marina Circuit), theme parks, shopping malls and residential units, Yas Island was a blank canvas made up of nothing but sand. When news broke that Abu Dhabi had been selected as a venue for the Formula 1 World Championships, a construction deadline was fixed and everyone involved in the project was told that failure to meet the deadline was not an option – it was a matter of national pride. That high-pressure “must-do” approach set the tone for the pace of Abu Dhabi’s development and the importance of achievement, and ADTA and its stakeholders haven’t looked back since. Yas was one of several major island developments that would drive Abu Dhabi’s tourism offering to another level. Among his other roles, Al Muhairi is also managing director of the investment and development arm of ADTA, the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). Islands under development by TDIC, including the wildlife reserve Sir Bani Yas Island and the major mixed-use development Saadiyat Island, will provide the organisation with a platform to build iconic tourism infrastructure and to attract big-name companies to the emirate. The most recent milestone was the signing of an agreement with Monaco’s Société des Bains de Mer, which will operate the first international branch of its uber-luxury beach club on Saadiyat Island.
Although Al Muhairi’s current CV includes board member roles on most of Abu Dhabi’s major tourism-related businesses, his formative years were spent working in the private sector in real estate and research and development industries. So how was it that he got involved in tourism? “The first time I was asked that question was at Customs in the US. They looked at my background check, which showed my experience in engineering, and they asked how I ended up in tourism,” he explains. “Sometimes you are on that [private sector] side and you wish you were on the other side so you could change things, but then sometimes when you are on that other side you wish you could go back again.” But his experience in the private sector gave him the understanding of what life was like on the other side when he joined the government-run national tourism office in 2004, putting him in a perfect position to facilitate the smooth cooperation and communication between either side. Prior to launching ADTA in 2004, Al Muhairi travelled all over the Middle East and North Africa to observe how other destinations in the region had approached their tourism development and promotion programmes.
“Every destination has its own set of circumstances that affect tourism development: political support, plus natural assets – they all have a big impact on what kind of destination you create,” he says. “We went to Singapore and Tunisia; we looked at the sea products and the desert experiences on offer; we went to Egypt to look at the Red Sea; and we already knew what was happening in the UAE. We learned a lot from Dubai and we got a lot of support from the DTCM (Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing) when we started, in terms of training and regulations and licensing.” But from the outset the role of ADTA was set to differ from that of other tourism boards in the region in that it moved beyond the role of marketing and promotion to develop a tourism investment arm and an events division that would create and maintain ownership of its calendar of business and consumer events. Whatever the inspiration, Abu Dhabi’s present tourism offering was built on sound principals: “Tourism is very elastic,” Al Muhairi says. “It touches everything. You cannot build a destination by only having hotels or good connectivity or good services in the F&B industry. It’s everything. It’s the experience.” With an affiliation with Montecarlo already established, it looks likely that in the next five years, Al Muhairi and his team will continue to develop and promote Abu Dhabi’s image as a luxury lifestyle destination that can match the offerings of Europe’s top luxury destinations. “Luxury covers a big range and we want to fill that range,” he explains. “But we don’t want to be the most expensive place in the world. We have natural assets like Saadiyat Beach, which enable us to attract companies like the Société des Bains de Mer. We want to leverage that, but we also want to serve the mid- to high-end visitors too.”
CA P I TA L O F
With an abundance of galleries, hip hotels, Frank Gehry landmarks and one of the best art events in the world, Miami is enjoying a renaissance. Andy Round tries to keep up
Miami nights The Fontainebleau Hotel represents all that is great and good about Miamiâ€™s colourful history
Spoiled for choice Enjoy the views during cocktail hour at Mandarin Oriental’s Cafe Sambal
Colonial quaint Betsy; a landmark White is right at The Betsy, property on Miami’s South Beach
“It’s Saturday night in Miami. I’m outside LIV, the hottest club in town, and it feels like a bizarre experiment in social engineering”
Life’s a beach See and be seen at the poolside at Mandarin Oriental, Miami
gridlock of stretch limos, sports cars and stacked SUVs snakes up to the Fontainebleau Hotel like an automotive beauty pageant. Leggy girls in short dresses click across the fluorescent blue floor of the lobby, followed by slick-haired guys with rolled-up sleeves and high hopes. Surveying the crowd are gorilla-sized ‘hosts’ in sharp suits and pneumatic hostesses barely wearing their glittery dresses. It’s Saturday night in Miami. I’m outside LIV, the hottest club in town, and it feels like a bizarre experiment in social engineering. There is no queue, no organised entry, just a handful of hosts waving iPads at the well-dressed herd and unclipping the velvet rope for those who look right. Inside this split-level, bass-shaking super club, with its VIP glass cubicles, nose-bleedingly expensive drinks, velvet roped sofas and rows of champagne bottles, staff that look like they’re slumming it between Victoria’s Secret shoots serve customers that could have walked off the set of Entourage. Depending on your attitude, this is either the most depressing twodimensional experience of your life or the most exciting Saturday night to have ever leapt off the society pages of Vanity Fair. But it’s Miami, right? This is where neon comes to die and everyone looks hot on the beach. Well, yes and no. Versions of Miami clubs like LIV have been around since the roaring 20s, when Miami was a magnet for Hol-
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The Villa by Barton G The mansion where designer Gianni Versace lived and died has become an essential stop on the tourism trail
lywood’s silent-age superstars and New York’s freshly minted millionaires. What is fascinating now is the way the city has recreated itself as a capital of cultural cool. Much of this is down to the success of Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB). Just nine years old, the four-day exhibition-cum-party is now one of the most dynamic contemporary arts events in the world. “In 2010 ABMB attracted a record 46,000 visitors,” says the Basel’s Maike Cruse. “It’s getting bigger and bigger every year.” “The event has a great reputation for breaking new artists,” says Johnny Wong, a curator at the Peter Tunney Gallery. “But it’s as much about the social scene as the art and both are really vibrant. Plus if you are European there is no better reason to come and enjoy some Miami sun in the winter.” The event has transformed the city, from the giant pink snail art installations that populated the beach when I visited, to more long-standing developments such as the regeneration of formerly depressed districts like Wynwood. Dozens of galleries – for example, the celebrated collections of Margulies, De La Cruz and Rubell – as well as numerous artists’ studios
now occupy the low-rises, and graffiti is actually commissioned from über-artists like Shepard Fairey (the man behind the Obama ‘Hope’ image), and permanently displayed at the Wynwood Walls, a project of the super entrepreneur Tony Goldman. New restaurants in the district, such as Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, conceived by Goldman’s daughter Jessica, flaunt their edgy credentials and are stuffed to the rafters with cutting-edge art, while a five-minute drive north brings you into the freshly minted ‘Designer District,’ where thriving independents such as Tushka Art Lampshade Studio, Unlimited Nude and Decorators Plumbing share block space with internationals Kartell, Christian Louboutin and The King is Dead. Unsurprisingly, the nearby college is Miami’s Design and Architecture Senior High. But the greatest symbol of cultural confidence is to be found on Miami Beach. In January 2010, the New World Center officially opened for business. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, this extraordinary building is the home of America’s Orchestral Academy, the New World Symphony (NWS).
“Photographers and filmmakers have always loved the light around South Beach. The beach and hotels were always perfect settings for drama”
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Wild nights at LIV Despite its new penchant for culture, Miami still knows how to party
Gehry’s swooping architectural style is in place here, but unlike his iconic Bilbao Guggenheim, it shows through in the structure’s interior devices the huge glass walls of the exterior and the giant white spaces designed to tempt audiences by revealing the musicians through sky-high windows or by projecting their performances on exterior walls. “The building and the new park in front really creates a landmark for Miami,” says Craig Hall of the NWS. “We are lucky it actually happened at all, but Gehry used to babysit Michael Tilson Thomas, our founder, and they grew up together to become close friends.” In addition to concerts, teaching musicians and exchanging techniques online live around the world, the centre will also work actively to introduce classical music to the community through free shows, events with DJs and through schools. It’s ambitious, exciting and light-years away from the days when Miami Beach was a place where the district’s famous art deco buildings were either hastily adapted as ‘god’s waiting rooms’ for America’s elderly or infested by small-time wannabe Tony Montanas. Now, thanks to the tireless work of the Miami Design Preservation League, these wonderful buildings gleam with fresh confidence and retro cool, and it still feels like you’re on a film set as you walk around. And of course you are. Beyond the slip-on shoes and pastel shirts of Miami Vice there are the backdrops to Goldfinger, The Birdcage and too many 90s fashion shoots to count. Many of those shoots were for Versace, and the mansion where the designer lived and died has become an essential stop on the tourism trail, the Italianate gates and steps where he was murdered a backdrop to a constant stream of camera phone photographs. Today the mansion is known as The Villa By Barton G and is owned by a local events billionaire, but the spirit of Versace still lives on. There are 10 suites available for hire with prices per night reaching US$2,100. For your money you get personal British butler service, a little bit of 20th-century pop history (perhaps Madonna’s or Elton’s favourite suite) and the chance to take a dip in the pool that still boasts gold-plated tiles and was the party spot of choice for Christy, Cindy and Naomi.
New World Center Frank Gehry’s modern structure is home to America’s Orchestral Academy, the New World Symphony
Turn right out of the mansion and it’s worth following Ocean Drive to the yoga-friendly park of South Pointe, where seven-storey monster cruise ships roll in from the Atlantic and the seafood at the seaview terrace of Smith & Wollensky comes in giant portions. “Photographers and filmmakers have always loved the light around South Beach,” explains the Preservation League’s Kent Hamrick. “The beach and hotels were always perfect settings for drama.” They still are. Take The Betsy, for example. This glorious colonial-plantation-house-style boutique hotel offers probably the best Ocean Drive people-watching potential in town (the BLT restaurant), chic seaside-feel rooms (with giant jars of jelly beans, art books and TVs in bathroom mirrors), a rooftop bar (with a spa) and, wonderfully, an extensive show of iconic rock’n’roll photography (collections change regularly). The art deco glory of the The Ritz-Carlton, just an ice-cube’s throw away from the Betsy,
offers a tanning butler (yes, really – and he has a smile the width of Miami Beach), a multimillion-dollar art collection and a boardwalk restaurant that serves as a front-row seat to gaze at the passing beach theatre of rollerbladers, bikini girls, board-toting lifeguards and assorted Segwayers, cyclists, skateboarders and joggers. On my last night in Miami I follow the neon to the Delano, where the lobby has been designed by Philippe Starck and the chairs are by Marc Newson, Man Ray and Dali. It’s less frenetic than LIV and there are less basketball stars, but popular activities still include wearing sunglasses at night, pretending to be a supermodel (or maybe not) and trying to catch the eye of the immaculate bar staff. Outside, running the length of the huge pool are softly-illuminated cabanas, dramatically lit palms and a moonlight night that can only be improved by the clink of ice in your drink. I sit back and take the plunge.
30 April - 2 May 2011, Madinat Jumeirah Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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Walk on the wild side Nyungwe Forest Lodge offers five-star luxury in the heart of Rwanda
March 2011 dotwnews.com
The heart of Africa
Mention Africa and youâ€™ll inevitably conjure up images of herds of wildebeest, Maasai warriors and endless savannah. But this is 2011. Josh Kron delves deep into the heart of Central Africa and uncovers a whole lot more than safaris
onight I watch the lapping waves and the cool moonlit sky. A storm is passing through, rolling gently off the hills of Rwanda to the east, surging over the waters of Lake Kivu, growing wild as the night thickens. In the midst of every chaos hides a shrine to solitude, where nature overwhelms, and one of these spots is here, improbably – The Stella Hotel in Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo. For the last 15 years this lush, volcanic, almost Jurassic-like region tucked in the heart of Central Africa has been Ground Zero for virtually every natural and man-made plague the Earth has known. Civil war has rocked its borders; famine and disease have eaten away at its population; volcanoes erupt, swallowing towns; airplanes crash regularly. Above Lake Kivu’s deep waters, more thunderstorms strike than anywhere else on Earth. From my private perch on the verandah of my room at the Hotel Stella – a slice of serenity and luxury on the frontier of civilisation – I watch the storm go by. Pillars of lightning come crashing down. Thunder whips through the night. And I watch God’s glory unfold itself in front of me. This isn’t about zebras and giraffes. For travellers looking for something unique, a new destination has emerged. Some of Earth’s most exotic, exciting, and previously inaccessible spots are opening up, and they’ve got style. Africa’s Great Lakes. Fresh air. Piercing snowcapped peaks. Rolling rain forests. White, sandy beaches that stretch along the deep, pure lakes, and of course, the headwaters of civilisation; the source of the Nile. Peace in the region is settling in, and for its part, the Congolese lakeside city of Goma is a booming melting-pot of businessmen and diplomats, diamond dealers and development workers, sparking a flourishing vibe of fancy restaurants, hotels, and an increasing number of safe – and positively legendary – experiences. The best places to stay in town are all along the lake, where private homes go for up to US$5,000 per month. Most hotels don’t go for over $100, but there is luxury and fine taste.
Gorilla country The Virunga Mountains are home to the world’s last mountain gorillas
Goma’s towering Nyiragango volcano to visiting the rare mountain gorillas that inhabit the volcano’s lush green forest. A permit for either costs about $200, and includes guides, porters, and orientation. Fly in to Kigali, the capital of neighbouring Rwanda, set amongst a sea of rolling hills, and take the three-hour drive west to Goma, one of the most awe-inspiring drives in Africa, which transforms from valleys to ridges to smouldering volcanoes. Or pay a bit extra at Akagera Aviation and take the helicopter. Rwanda is a central hub that makes a perfect base for enjoying the hidden elegance of central Africa. It is a tiny, pristine land with a network of smooth tarmac roads running towards Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and the Congo, all located within four hours of Kigali.
“Years ago this part of the world was plunged deep into war; now Kigali is one of the safest cities in Africa, and it is immaculately well-kept” The Stella – $50 to $80 per night – is built out of deep black volcanic stone, and has a descending cascade of private tables set along the lake. Nightspots such as Le Chateau, Hawaii, Coco Jambo, and Chez Doga all offer top-notch international and local cuisines, from French to Lebanese to Congolese. Outside the city unfolds one of Africa’s most dramatic and untouched landscapes. Congo’s newly-found peace has paved the way for travel agents and excursions that range from scaling
Years ago this part of the world was plunged deep into war; now Kigali is one of the safest cities in Africa, and it is immaculately well-kept – the Switzerland of Africa. It is laced with fine restaurants and five-star hotels. It is clean, safe, and charming. Some of the best places to stay include Banana Guesthouse, the Serena Hotel and The Manor. Kigali also has an expanding range of restaurants, from Indian to Moroccan to Filipino. And of course, you must taste some of the country’s
famed roast coffee, now sold all over the world. Like the rest of Africa’s Great Lakes region, the true beauty comes outside the capital. Two hours to the north, nestled in the craggy range of volcanoes near the Congo are the legendary mountain gorillas. It is pricey to find them in the wilderness and costs about $500 for a permit, but it is the experience of a lifetime. While visiting you can stay at the ultra-deluxe Virunga Lodge ($600 per night), the ultimate in high-end eco-tourism, or you can drive to the country’s deep southwest to one of the best-preserved rainforests in all of Africa, Nyungwe forest. There you can track for the ubiquitous golden colobus monkeys, and cross one of Africa’s newest architectural wonders – the state-of-the-art suspension bridge that takes viewers through valleys and canopies of trees right into the heart of the wilderness. The suspension bridge is only one reason Rwanda has become one of the top tourist destinations in Africa. The five-star luxurious Dubaimanaged Nyungwe Forest Lodge next door, with infinity pool ($400-$600 per night), is another. Here you are. You are Tarzan. You’re Robinson Crusoe – in Eden’s garden, with butler service and high-speed wireless internet. Places like this are sprouting up all over Eastern and Central Africa. As stability and development take root, investment is flooding in, and a new crop of accommodations and destinations are challenging the classic safari for a new image of what Africa looks like today. In Uganda, just above the above the Equator, there is another view of Africa, the symbol of Africa’s intrigue – the source of the Nile River.
â€œAs stability and development take root, investment is flooding in, and a new crop of accommodations and destinations are challenging the classic safari for a new image of Africaâ€?
Away from it all Nyungwe Forest Lodge is one of a growing number of luxury lodges in Central Africa
It used to be a mysterious blank swathe of uncharted territory on unfinished maps; now it is the playground for extreme-sport adventurers and high-end travellers. The teeming city of Jinja sits on the mouth of Lake Victoria, the second-largest lake in the world, where it opens up into the Nile. Take a drink along the shores of the lake at sunset, or go to one of the many places to stay along the river itself. During the day go bungee jumping, kayaking on the Nile, or try the infamous Class V white-water rafting that come in half-day, full-day, and two-day trips and includes food, drinks, and one of the most memorable experiences you will ever have. This isn’t Egypt or Sudan. The world is lush and green around the Nile in Uganda. After some time of surging and speeding, the raft slows as the waters become calm, and rafters strip off their gear and jump in. The most popular tour agent in Jinja might be Adrift, which also runs a series of stylish backpacker joints – a great place to go for a cold beer above the rushing waters of the Nile – and more exclusive boutique resorts. You can also go 4x4 quad-biking with All Terrain Adventures, a surprising, fun, and charming trip along the village paths that trace the banks of the river. Moving from town to town, we interact directly with the friendly and smiling local people. It never gets old. Uganda is the most developed country in the Great Lakes region, and ATMs, shopping malls, and a wide range of accommodations can be found all over, with a far larger variety of quality spots than any of the other countries in the area. Take the Rwenzori Mountains for example: people have heard of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro, but this is something different – more raw, but not at the cost of class. This ridge of snowcapped, glacial peaks is a natural wonder. On the other side is Congo, but on the Ugandan side lies a plethora of accommodation options near the base of the mountains, and with Rwenzori Mountaineering Service, you can take a private tour up to the peaks, known locally as the Mountains of the Moon.
Paradise found Tanzania has an abundance of natural beauty
But even in some of the region’s lesser-known countries, the luxury and excitement of Africa’s unbeaten track can easily be found. The tiny country of Burundi might be the perfect example. Situated between Rwanda, Congo and Tanzania along the shores of Lake Tangyanika, the longest lake in the world, Burundi has only recently recovered from civil war. It’s a bundle of sun-drenched hills and azure waters. Drive down from Kigali, Rwanda’s capital
“Along Bujumbura’s beachfront, kids play soccer, couples sit on the shore with their toes in the sand, and at night the cafes and lounges are lit up and the parties get underway” The capital, Kampala, is a bustling, cosmopolitan city that ranks amongst the most liveable in Africa. It’s safe and pleasant and the climate is cool. There is a massive foreign population from all over the world, and there is music, cinema, and all-night partying. The best places to stay are Emin Pasha hotel, the Protea Hotel, the Serena, and the Munyonyo Speke resort on the banks of Lake Victoria.
and in five short hours of meandering through a sea of hills, you’ll descend upon the shores of Lake Tangyanika, a stumbling drop in altitude that takes you from the cool, misty hills of Rwanda to the date palms and sandy streets of Burundi’s capital, Bujumbura. But don’t stop just yet. Take the same highway right through town and then south, along the coast. Here you encounter what looks like South-
ern California. Or South Africa’s Cape Point. The drive from the capital down Tanganyika’s coast towards Tanzania is just as stupendous, as you pass by tiny finishing villages and hidden coves. On your way back north, stop in Bujumbura for two or three days. Like the rest of the region, peace has treated Bujumbura well. Unlike Britishinfluenced East Africa, Burundi is francophone to the core, and don’t be surprised to find some of the finest and most exotic food, including alligator and the best baguettes outside of France. The top places to stay are Hotel Diplomat, Belvedere and Club du Lac, on Tangyanika’s shores. Along Bujumbura’s beachfront, kids play soccer, couples sit on the shore with their toes in the sand, and at night, the cafes and lounges are lit up and the parties get underway. The best place may be Bora Bora beach club, next to the Club du Lac hotel. During the day Burundi’s beautiful lie on the plush lounge beds or sofas, tanning, sipping coffee, and ordering its famous pizza. The wind brushes past you, lulling you into a state of pure bliss. In the evening a disco begins, just before a bonfire on the beach. East Africa’s finest dance music plays in the background, and for a moment you are in Hollywood – until you remember you’re on the other side of the world, in Burundi.
THE DRIVING FORCE OF
When the Formula 1 World Championships finally get underway in Australia on March 27, all eyes will be fixed on the track. But it’s backstage in the hospitality tents that we’ll find out how F1’s business landscape will shape up in 2011
Star attraction Celebrities flock to the Paddock Club at F1 events around the world
“Huge amounts of money are spent on Formula 1 hospitality, so absolutely no mistakes are tolerated and the service needs to be perfect from the beginning to the end of each guest’s stay”
ver the past two years, the media has been awash with reports of executives enjoying high-priced hospitality at Formula 1 races while the companies they represented were failing. But is there more to this corporate wining and dining than meets the eye? Despite the economic downturn, there’s good reason why the price of F1’s hospitality offering won’t be sliding into reverse this year, and the number of guests who use it is likely to accelerate further still. F1’s corporate hospitality operation is centred around the Paddock Club, a sprawling tented structure located near to the team motorhomes at every Grand Prix. The concept was created in 1984 by entrepreneur Paddy McNally, who was previously a trackside advertising salesman. He was led by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone’s vision, which focused on targeting big-spending blue chips who would sponsor the sport due to its extraordinary exposure. They would need to be entertained in a business-to-business environment – the more luxurious the better. McNally set up a Swiss-based company, Allsport Management, to run the Paddock Club and Ecclestone granted it exclusive rights to hospitality at the F1 circuits. It may sound like
an instant licence to print money, but it wasn’t until the 1990s that the Paddock Club concept took off, as F1’s popularity accelerated all over the world. “The Paddock Club is an extraordinarily effective business tool to set against the dramatic backdrop of the world’s most thrilling spectator sport,” says Isabelle Kaufmann, the venue’s manager. With such great importance attached to the Paddock Club, preserving its exclusivity is essential, as Kaufmann knows only too well. “The world’s finest racing must be served by the highest standards of corporate hospitality,” she says. The Paddock Club certainly doesn’t fail to deliver. Tents are adorned with fresh flowers and even the lawns on which the marquees are built must make the grade. Fresh turf is often flown in from England and rolled out on-site, and that’s just the beginning: Allsport transports 40,000 glasses, 30,000 plates, 10,000 cut flowers, 5,500 magnums of champagne, and 200 tonnes of tent material to each race. The Paddock Club is split into three distinct areas, all with levels of luxury akin to a five-star hotel. The Village is a group of marquees surrounding a central open garden, each with its
own patio seating area and buffet tent. Separate marquees house the champagne bar and various entertainment options within the garden area. For a unique chance to support the drivers, the Pit Building Lounges are a collection of individual lounges located directly above the pits with a privileged view of the main start/ finish straight and the pit lane. The Pit Building Terrace area goes one step better: tables are located above the pits, often one storey higher than the Pit Building Lounges, and has panoramic views of the pits and circuit. Since billionaires are almost as imperative to the F1 as fuel, the Paddock Club plays host to some who require even more intimacy for their business dealings. Suites in the three areas hold some of the glitziest and most private Paddock Club parties. The rest of the Club is themed around the teams and often has full-size show cars on display. “Film stars, politicians, pop groups, business moguls, models and sports stars are keen to be invited because they appreciate the style and standards established. It presents a unique opportunity to mingle, including the chance of a close meeting with the drivers and team personnel,” says Kaufmann.
The futureâ€™s bright The iconic Yas Hotel in Abu Dhabi is a symbol of hospitalityâ€™s significance to the F1
“Film stars, politicians, pop groups, business moguls, models and sports stars are keen to be invited because they appreciate the style and standards established”
Driving profits Monte Carlo is one of the world’s richest and most glamorous F1 destinations
Guests of the Paddock Club are offered far more than motor racing. Every pass includes access to an open bar with champagne and a gourmet banquet with fine wines. There is a masseuse, a beautician and a hairdresser on-site, and a caricaturist and card-trick artist are also on hand to provide entertainment. Paddock Clubbers can take a guided tour of the pits before the race and also have access to the support race paddock. Team personnel are even available to talk the guests through the weekend’s developments. This kind of luxury doesn’t come cheap though, and Paddock Club tickets this year cost up to US$4,520 per person. However, many of the guests don’t pay – and they are the real engine that powers F1. The teams each get an allocation of tickets that they then supply to their sponsors, who in turn use the opportunity to indulge their own clients in the opulent surroundings. Keeping sponsors sweet increases the chance that they will renew their deals. Likewise, teams woo potential sponsors in the Paddock Club, so it’s fair to say it keeps F1’s wheels turning – more important than ever in the wake of the recession. According to F1’s industry monitor Formula Money, the teams started last season with $705 million in sponsorship, $115 million less than in 2009. This was the biggest fall in sponsorship income over the past five years and remarkably it came despite the number of teams in the sport rising from 10 to 12 as three new outfits, Hispania, Lotus and Virgin, joined the grid. With the teams having typical costs of around $270 million each, they need to attract new sponsors to survive. Accordingly, it is no surprise that corporate hospitality picked up last year as teams tried to tempt new brands to join them in 2011. Ecclestone says advertising revenues are “gradually coming back again in all different sports,” and notes that although “corporate hospitality was down about 30 percent in 2009, I think we have got a 10 percent uplift [in 2010].” In 2009, Allsport had $147 million of revenue, according to the accounts of its parent company Beta Holdings, which is ultimately majority-owned by private equity firm CVC. The average price for a three-day Paddock Club pass is around $4,000 and in
Till death do us part Bernie Ecclestone’s hospitality machine is as popular with the press as it is with his clients
2009 it is believed that approximately 2,300 guests were wined and dined at each of the 17 races, peaking at Monaco, Monza in Italy and Silverstone in the UK. Allsport directly handles the corporate hospitality at 14 of the races, all except for Australia, Brazil and Singapore, which take it in-house and are believed to pay a fee of around US$6 million to Allsport for doing so. The revenue from the 14 races translates to around $129 million, with the fee from the other three bringing it up to $147 million. A lot of this revenue comes from a few bigspending sponsors who buy many more tickets in addition to their allocation from the teams. The top sponsors are believed to have annual F1 hospitality budgets of up to $20 million but lower down the food chain, some get into F1 just for the entertainment opportunities.
the local environment wherever possible, with optional excursions to areas of local cultural interest or spas. However, the Paddock Club remains the key constant, with an almost identical set-up no matter where in the world it is located. There is a trick to pulling this off.
THE WELL-OILED MACHINE “There are hundreds of people involved at each race – chefs, catering staff, electricians, security agents, maintenance staff, drivers, entertainers, florists, therapists and cleaners,” says Kaufmann. However, only around 10 percent of these are local workers. Security, logistics, construction and catering tend to be handled by the same contractors throughout the season, meaning that teams and sponsors know what they will get at any race wherever it is held.
“The level of service and hospitality provided in the Paddock Club is exceptional as well as reliable: you know what to expect wherever the race is taking place and there are no surprises” For example, according to Formula Money, media giant Reuters paid the Williams team around $4 million last year. This got it some small logos on the nose of the car and the drivers’ overalls, but hospitality is one of the key purposes of its sponsorship. Reuters aims to make its hospitality programme feel exclusive and intimate, so it only invites between 10 and 20 key senior executives from client companies to each race. The small numbers maximise the opportunity for communication and although the weekend is centred around the race, Reuters makes sure that its guests don’t feel obliged to attend the action at the circuit at all times. Clients are invited to bring spouses or partners and the company makes the most of
“The level of service and hospitality provided in the Paddock Club is exceptional as well as reliable: you know what to expect wherever the race is taking place and there are no surprises,” says one sponsorship manager. “Huge amounts of money are spent on Formula 1 hospitality, so absolutely no mistakes are tolerated and the services need to be perfect from the beginning to the end of each guest’s stay,” says Florian Fude, managing director of event services company TMI. “The experience must be absolutely unforgettable for each of them, and the impression given must be extraordinary,” he adds. Fude says that successful arrangements extend way beyond the time spent at the races: “Not only must the event organisation be
perfect but also the entire experience: activities, optional tours, evening functions – all these aspects of a guest’s stay are very important and require a lot of creativity, planning, and proper execution from the company.” TMI’s secret to success on the ground is communication: “A swift and efficient flow of information enables account managers to be updated constantly. It directly benefits the client, who is given the opportunity to update his choices or to get last-minute support to make his stay an even better experience,” says Fude. However, effective race-day communication is not enough on its own. The really hard work has to be put in long before the hospitality itself gets underway. “An event is always 80 percent effort prior to event work and 20 percent on-the-premises decisions. TMI has become an expert in dealing with this 20 percent, which makes the difference between a regular event and an outstanding event,” says Fude. “Every event, indeed every day at an event, is a challenge where problems and unexpected situations will occur. Our strength is preventing most problems before they occur, and immediately solving any that arise unexpectedly. We make good use of two principles: KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid – and PPPPPP: Proper Planning Prevents P*ss-Poor Performance.” Getting it right at one race is tough enough, but this year the Paddock Club will travel to 19 countries around the globe over eight months, sometimes visiting different countries on consecutive weekends. The Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix may have been cancelled due to civil unrest, but the Paddock Club will still be sent off to Australia for the race there as planned. Two weeks later it will be in Malaysia. To keep this ticking over, Allsport begins planning for an F1 season before the last race the previous year. Feeding F1’s hungry budgets is a never-ending process.
Vienna Opera Ball
March 3, Vienna, Austria
Held in the famous Vienna State Opera House, this exclusive high-society event remains one of the most opulent balls and one of the most highly anticipated events on the Viennese social calendar. First held in 1936, the Vienna Opera Ball (or Weiner Opernball) was suspended during World War II, then reinstated after the war ended and suspended again in 1991 due to the Persian Gulf War. Today it is an ode to the glamour of days past; the dress code is strictly elegant, with ladies donning floor-length ball gowns and men suited in white tie as they swirl about the room in the synchronised rhythm of the Viennese Waltz. Each year since 1992, Austrian entrepreneur and Viennese society figure Richard Lugner has invited a celebrity to join him at the ball as his guest of honour. Previous guests have included Dita Von Teese, Paris Hilton and Pamela Anderson. 64
Dubai International Boat Show/Abu Dhabi Yacht Show
Mar 1-5, Dubai/Mar 24-26, Abu Dhabi, UAE
If boating is a hobby of yours, or you just like to dream, get ready to drool over some of the most luxurious yachts on the market at the third installation of the Abu Dhabi Yacht Show, which promises to bring the biggest, best and most extravagant superyachts from the leading names in the industry to Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina for a series of exhibitions and concept launches. If you love yachts but crave a little bit more adventure, the Dubai International Boat Show offers up the best of both worlds, showcasing the top names in the superyacht market as well as high-end power boats, sailing boats and speed boats. Regardless of your personal tastes, both events will combine warm weather, beautiful surroundings and gorgeous vessels – what’s not to love?
March 8, New Orleans, USA
Mardi Gras, meaning ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French, is celebrated on the final day of Carnival and the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of the 40-day fasting period of Lent before Easter. The name stems from the tradition of eating rich foods the day before the long period of deprivation, and in New Orleans, Louisiana, revellers take to the streets in costumes (generally in the traditional Mardi Gras colours of purple, green and gold), for parades, street parties and live jazz concerts. There are many deep-rooted traditions tied in with Mardi Gras in New Orleans, mostly derived from the history of the settlement of Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama by French Catholics in the 1700s. Perhaps the most renowned custom associated with the celebration today, though, is that of women exposing their bare chests in order to receive special beads.
Mar 5-8, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The four-day festival, held annually during the peak of the summer season in the bustling city of Rio de Janeiro, dates back to 1723 and was traditionally a celebration to bid farewell to negativity in preparation for the 40-day Lent fasting period before Easter. Elaborate parties, parades and festivities take over the streets for four full days and nights, and most offices and companies will shut down for the full duration. Parties are raucous rather than glamorous, and include lots of dancing, samba performances (done in the traditional Brazilian two-piece, feather adorned costumes), musical performances and beer. Rio Carnival is often hailed as the ‘world’s largest carnival’ and tops many ‘Best Parties in the World’ lists; it’s estimated that some 500,000 tourists flock to the city to participate in the festivities.
Prince’s Cup Polo March 18, Dubai, UAE
If you love exclusive events, make sure you’re on the guestlist for one of the most authentic matches Dubai’s burgeoning polo scene has to offer. On March 18 the Prince’s Cup Middle East returns with teams from British institutions Oxford, Cambridge, Eton and Harrow plus the British Army and Habtoor Polo playing against each other in a celebration of the relationship between Britain and the UAE. An elegant crowd of VIP guests will gather at the British Colonialstyle Dubai Polo & Equestrian Club to sip Pimm’s while taking in the matches and choosing from a generous spread of food. Awards will be given out in the evening before the VIP afterparty gets underway. For those who prefer a more relaxed affair, the picnic grounds are the perfect place to spread a blanket and enjoy a lazy afternoon. Visit www.princescup.co.uk for information.
Dubai World Cup March 26, Dubai, UAE
Dubbed the ‘Richest Horse Race in the World’, the Dubai World Cup will take place at its new host venue, the Meydan Race Course, on March 26 this year. The event sees high-profile race enthusiasts and celebrities come from all over the world to witness the adrenaline-pumping races, fireworks shows, and a range of live concerts from some of the best artists in the business (it will be hard to top last year’s post-show performances by Elton John and Carlos Santana). Even if you can’t be bothered to pay attention to the actual races, it’s one of the most highly-anticipated events on the UAE social calendar, and it’s worth it alone just to see what everyone is wearing. Also on offer are some very glam VIP lounges and a champagne bar – Destinations of the World News will be front and centre to take in all the action. Get your tickets online at www.dubaiworldcup.com. dotwnews.com
Spend it This month’s once-in-a-lifetime experiences include a private party in Bali, a railway journey through the Baltic and a trip through Colombia’s Coffee Triangle
Head in the clouds
Coffee lovers will most certainly get their caffeine fix on this five-night tour of Colombia’s Coffee Triangle. Set amid the rolling hills of central Colombia is Quindio, the country’s coffee capital, where you can spend an enthralling five days exploring the coffee plantations and haciendas around the town to learn how the coffee is grown and harvested, before delving deeper into the coffee-growing country on horseback and jeep with the backdrop of the Andes in the distance. Accompanied by a private guide, you’ll get to know the small towns and villages of the Andean foothills including tiny Cordoba, panoramic Buena Vista, the coffee-picking town of Pijao, and Filandia in the Valle Cocora, where primary-coloured houses and coffee shops that have remained unchanged for decades line the streets. The good folks at Black Tomato recommend combining the tour with a side trip to the Colombian capital Bogota or the formerly colonial Cartagena – a picturesque sea-facing town on the Caribbean coast. From: tailor-made. Price: from US$3,715 per person. www.blacktomato.co.uk
This is what we’re talking about: a super-luxury suite package with Michelin-starred dining and a private jet flight over the Alps. Mandarin Oriental Geneva has packaged the best of the best for its exclusive ‘Above the Clouds’ itinerary. Spend two nights in the hotel’s signature Mont Blanc Suite and enjoy a champagne breakfast each morning on the private terrace (pictured right) while you take in 360-degree views over the snow-capped Alps, Geneva’s old town and the Rive Rhône. After breakfast, set out on a private jet tour of the Alps, where you’ll enjoy unrivalled views of the snowy peaks of Mont Blanc. At the end of the perfect day, sit down to a five-course meal courtesy of chef Vineet Bhatia at the hotel’s Michelin-starred signature restaurant, Rasoi by Vineet. Try the signature nouveau Indian dishes such as lobster ‘Recharde’, chilli coconut panna cotta and crisp lobster claw and indulge in a selection of fine wines and champagne. Back in the suite via private elevator, enjoy in-room champagne and the complimentary mini-bar. From: now until June 2011. Price: from US$48,500. www.mandarinoriental.com
Bali confidential Partying in Bali is serious business. The hottest clubs around the beaches of Kuta and Seminyak are packed with a heady mixture of international celebrities and extravagant backpackers, but for something a little more refined you might want to head inland and check into your own slice of paradise for a few nights with 50 of your closest friends. The 20-villa Chedi Club Tanah Gajah near Ubud in the green foothills of central Bali has created an exclusive package for jet-setting party people who like their celebrations in private. For a mere US$88,000, book out the entire resort for a three-night party for up to 50 people. The price includes all meals, spa treatments, yoga classes, a cycling tour, cooking classes, rice paddy trekking, chauffeured car service and a nightly cultural performance, as well as a private butler for each villa. Part of GHM’s exclusive hotel collection, the Chedi Club Tanah Gajah, meaning Elephant Realm, is adorned with elephant motifs, in celebration of a nearby Hindu temple. The property was built in the early 1980s as a private retreat for celebrated Indonesian architect and interior designer Hendra Hadriprana, but was taken over by GHM and converted into a boutique retreat. From: now until December 2011. Price: from US$88,000 for three nights. www.ghmhotels.com
Baltic adventure Discover the endless beauty of Russia and the Baltic States in style from the comfort of GW Travel’s Golden Eagle luxury train. The journey starts in Moscow, where you’ll explore the sights of the Russian capital before travelling north to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as you watch the stunning countryside pass you by. Look out for medieval castles and Rococo churches as your journey takes you through this largely undiscovered corner of Europe. Walk the picturesque streets of the Baltic capitals and explore the fairytale Toompea Hill in Tallinn (right); the ancient Three Brothers residences and the bridges of the Daugava River in Riga; and the old town of Vilnius. The Golden Eagle stops off at several secondary cities during the seven-night journey, including Trakai, the former capital of Lithuania, which is now a popular stop-off thanks to its 15th Century red-brick Gothic Castle. Golden Eagle features 12 ensuite Silver and Gold Class sleeping cars as well as a fine-dining carriage serving regional specialities and a range of wines and a selection of local fire-water. From: May 31-Jun 6; June 22-28; July 14-20. Price: from US$7,600 per person based on twin sharing in a Gold Class suite. Excludes flights. www.coxandkings.co.uk/europe
Majestic Barriere Christian Dior Penthouse Unveiled last spring, the new suite at the Majestic Barrière remains true to the style and elegance of the inventor of the New Look The sixth floor of the new wing of the Majestic Barrière hosts an outstanding 450 square metre suite: the Christian Dior Penthouse. The chic apartment is the result of a long-standing partnership between the famous Parisian fashion house and French hotel giant Groupe Lucien Barrière. Christian Dior himself used to move into one of the hotel’s most splendid suites for 12 days each year at the annual Cannes Film Festival, where, a few hours before stepping onto the red carpet, the most glamorous stars of the day would come to choose their evening dresses. The two companies decided to collaborate on a commemorative suite combining the inimitable style of Christian Dior with the hotel expertise of Lucien Barrière. The result, mostly dreamt up by Nathalie Ryan, accredited interior decorator of the Parisian fashion house, is exceptional. In the dining room, with its stone and Hungarian herringbone parquet floor, beneath a rotunda recalling that of the ceiling in the boutique on Avenue Montaigne, an impressive table in Louis XVI style is surrounded by the famous medallion chairs, upholstered in grey and silver. In the lounge, the cushions on the sofa, in the brilliant red created by Dior himself in 1955 (“I love red,” he once said. “It’s the colour of life itself”), take up the designer’s historic pleated motif. They are echoed by the red trimming that edges the Dior grey drapes. This decor – all elegance, harmony and French delicacy – plays host to a gem of technology: a home movie system, with a projector and a giant three-metre screen. The bedrooms also bear the stamp of haute couture, with shades of grey, Pullman armchairs, headboards in canework and a replica of Dior’s desk. The master bedroom offers a dreamy walk-in closet in silvered wood, worthy of a wardrobe signed by John Galliano. Total immersion in the world of Dior is reserved for a few wealthy fans: one night in this luxurious realm costs EUR 30,000.
Hotel Majestic Barriere 10 La Croisette, 06407 Cannes, France www.lucienbarriere.com
Majestic Penthouse On the top floor of the Majestic Barrière’s new wing stands the Majestic Penthouse. Unique in Cannes, this dream apartment offers guests today’s most precious luxury: space The Majestic Barrière has embarked on the conquest of space. The top floor of its new wing features another exceptional 450 square metre apartment, the Majestic Penthouse. Paired with the Christian Dior suite one floor below, it is transformed into a sublime duplex of 900 sq m, the largest suite on the Croisette. Perched on the roof of the hotel is a 150 sq m private terrace. “It allows us to offer an elite clientele an exclusive area dedicated to wellbeing, facing the sea, not overlooked, with a solarium and a pool 11 metres long,” says Dominique Desseigne, President of the Société Fermière du Casino Municipal de Cannes. “The pool is a genuine technical feat as we had to ensure that the seventh floor would bear a structure weighing 33 tons,” he adds. The Majestic Suite is sublime for its magnificent view: one can admire the Mediterranean, the Lérins Islands and the incomparable spectacle of glowing sunsets over the Estérel hills. Interior elements include an ‘experience’ shower that creates ambiances composed of fragrances, sound and light, making bathtime a rare moment of escapism. If you choose the summer storm sequence, you are immersed in green light, bathed by fine, warm rain, enchanted by the scents of a Mediterranean forest, shaken by thunder and finally lulled by birdsong. The Majestic Barrière’s most regal suite draws you in with its special atmosphere, a subtle blend of the seaside spirit and classic French elegance created by the accomplished exponent of the French touch; Pascal Desprez, who has designed a comforting cocoon giving priority to wood, warm and elegant tones, and making the most of the light and the panoramic view offered by the picture windows. A stay in this suite offers a truly unique experience, but take good note: to get close to the stars, it’ll cost you EUR 38,000 per night.
Luxury Dubai adds another five-star hotel
Mövenpick Hotel Deira Dubai, UAE
The commercial hub of Deira in Dubai will get its first international five-star hotel in over ten years with the opening of the new Mövenpick Hotel Deira, situated in the city’s early commercial district, a 20-minute walk from Dubai Creek. The 216 rooms are tailored to the needs of business travellers and tourists looking to stay in comfortable five-star accommodation in a convenient location for both work and play. Near to the hotel, guests will find Dubai’s old city, Bastakiya, which is full of souks, textile shops and spice markets, and if they are craving a day at the beach, there’s a shuttle bus to the luxurious Oceana Beach Club on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah. Three restaurants including Jigsaw buffet, Wok In and the Wok In Bar, which will feature regular live entertainment, will give guests and residents some exciting dining options. Glamorous Radisson Blu’s 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes offers stunning views
Old World charm at Chateau de Farcheville
Domaine de Farcheville Private Club Farcheville, France
This unique wellbeing destination, located in the medieval Chateau de Farcheville on a vast wooded and tree-lined property 45 minutes from Paris, promises to help guests lose weight, re-energise and slow down the ageing process while relaxing in beautiful natural surroundings. The walled and moated grounds contain a 15-hectare garden and orchards, where organic fruits and vegetables are grown and used in the resort’s signature cuisine, prepared by the Grand Chef of Farcheville. Each guest will have an exercise plan created for them based on their individual needs with the goal of weight loss in mind. Also on the property are a dedicated health and wellbeing spa, plus a salon and tennis courts, while nearby you’ll find two 18-hole golf courses and an equestrian centre. 70
Radisson Blu Cannes, France
Redizor Hotel Group has announced the opening of the Radisson Blu 1835 Hotel & Thalasso, Cannes. Formerly 1835 White Palm Hotel, the 134-room property has a prime location on the edge of the picturesque old quarter, Le Suquet, overlooking Cannes harbour and within walking distance of La Croisette, Cannes’ main beachside avenue renowned for its boutiques, bars and restaurants. The hotel’s original design is courtesy of French interior designers Marc
Hertrich and Nicolas Adnet, and was renovated in 2009 to reopen its doors with a chic new look. Three restaurants include ‘Le 360’, situated on a rooftop terrace and overlooking the sea and the harbour, plus a rooftop bar, which is already a popular spot for exclusive parties and events. The spa, Les Thermes Marins de Cannes, features rare and effective sea salt and algae treatments, a fitness centre, indoor and outdoor swimming pool, Turkish hammam, sauna, caldarium (Roman bath) and whirlpools.
Keeping you abreast of the latest hotel openings
Relax Iraq’s newest hotel means business
Rotana Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq
Rotana’s first property in Iraq will be a five-star business hotel set to cater to the increasing demand for accommodation in Erbil, the headquarters of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Located in close proximity to the Miniareiwa district and the Erbil International Exhibition Ground, business travellers will find a relaxing atmosphere to complement the 201 rooms and suites, plus expansive conference and banquet facilities. Six restaurants and lounges, featuring Lebanese, Italian and International cuisines, plus state-of-the-art leisure facilities including a fitness centre, Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna and outdoor temperature-controlled swimming pool, will ensure business and holiday travellers alike can relax comfortably in their surroundings.
Harmony Peace and pleasure at the W Bali
Soaring 53 storeys above Toronto’s bustling financial and performing arts districts, the first ever Canadian outpost of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company LLC is the epitome of modern design, featuring 267 guestrooms including 56 corner suites, each with views of either downtown Toronto or Lake Ontario, framed by floor-to-ceiling windows. The décor is marble and African Anigre wood in neutral shades, and spacious bathrooms are complemented by vanities embedded with 19-inch HD TV screens. On the ground floor, TOCA
Downtown Sleek Sofitel The SoRitz-Carlton, Mauritius is Toronto the brand’s is afirst serene venture retreat intointhe theboutique heart of the market city
by acclaimed chef Tom Brodi features a menu that utilises locally-grown and naturally-raised ingredients, while TOCA bar offers a selective tasting menu of caviar and sparkling wines. To add to the authentic Canadian theme, The Urban Sanctuary spa, which includes a pool, kinesis centre, yoga and Pilates studios, features treatments inspired by the Canadian wilderness, with organic ingredients like cold-pressed seaweed from Vancouver and therapeutic mud from Ontario.
W Retreat & Spa Bali, Indonesia
Located in Seminyak, which is quickly becoming Bali’s magnet for the young and trendy, the latest property from W Hotels blends the concept of escapism with plenty of opportunities to show off. The majority of the 79 suites feature views of the Indian Ocean, and 79 villa retreats offer private entrances and pools. Guests can unwind with cocktails at the W Lounge followed by a night of dancing at WooBar, or a signature massage at the WET Spa. W Hotels’ signature 24-hour Whenever/ Wherever service allows guests to choose whether their stay will be a romantic hideaway, a chance to mingle with a new set, or an active excursion, with activities ranging from a private bath with homemade chocolate to tailor-made parties, or a helicopter ride over Bali’s mountains and coastline. dotwnews.com
Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel
The journey starts here Following hot on the heels of the Middle East’s answer to Marco Polo, the Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel by Mövenpick takes guests on a journey across the Eastern hemisphere
hen the legendary 14th-Century explorer Ibn Battuta finally returned to Morocco after more than a quarter of a century spent trekking through the Islamic world, he probably had a few stories to tell. His travels took him from North Africa to the Far East, where he stopped in almost every major city along the way. No one has ever described him as a food critic, but one would think that after all that wandering the man must have developed quite a sophisticated palate. So it stands to reason that when the company behind the new Ibn Battuta Gate Hotel by Mövenpick in Dubai planned the property in tribute to the celebrated travel figure, food and beverage played a significant role in the hotel’s development plans.
I spent 48 hours there the last month, during which I embarked on my own culinary journey that took me from the fragrant aromas of the East, through the heady spice markets of India to the shores of the Mediterranean. Each of the 10 floors is themed after a different part of the world that Ibn Battuta visited, with ancient-looking maps pinpointing each region’s geographical location, and features a selection of Ibn Battuta Suites; 85 square metre apartments decorated in themes corresponding to those of each floor, created by American master interior designer Duncan & Miller. I started my journey in China, checking in to suite 101 on the China floor to discover an open living room decorated in deep reds and golds with a solid dose of black, with hand-carved panels hiding modern amenities: 40-inch LCD
screen TVs (one in the living room and one in the bedroom), iPod docking station, Nespresso machines and a DVD player to name a few. The oriental theme continues into the bedroom, where heavy red curtains block out the Arabian sun streaming in from outside, and a handy dressing niche is separated from the rest of the room by the bed’s immense headboard. The bathroom was as big as the bedroom, with one of the largest shower partitions I’ve seen in any hotel. Inside there is a bench, rain shower and wall attachment, a washbasin and enough room to ballroom dance in. His and Hers sinks proved invaluable and Elemis products elicited suitable cooing noises from my partner. My personal favourite touch was the bathtub. At the flick of a switch, you can change the window next to the tub from opaque to transparent, so
The important bit What: Ibn Battuta Gate hotel by Mövenpick Location: Dubai, UAE Cost: Suites start at US$500 per night plus 10 percent service charge and 10 percent municipality fee. Web: www.moevenpickhotels.com
you can lie back and watch a movie while you soak your stresses away. A spacious terrace overlooking the neighbouring Ibn Battuta Mall would have made for a relaxing place to sit and immerse myself in the legends of Battuta, but a sudden Shamal (sand-storm) served as a reminder that nothing is predictable when you’re following in the footsteps of the world’s most prolific traveller. Designed by architect and consultant firm Dar Al Handasah around a central Great Hall adorned with 88 gigantic Moroccan lanterns, each of the hotel’s outlets spills out into the Great Hall, giving the impression that a vast banquet is taking place when all the tables are occupied and it’s filled with the sound of happy diners. Dining options include Shanghai Chic, a moody modern Chinese restaurant with an amazing menu featuring Shanghainese dishes including salt and pepper chilli frogs’ legs; Chor Bazaar, a thieves’ market-themed Indian restaurant featuring three huge Tandoor ovens in
the open kitchen and typical Indian dishes from across the subcontinent; Sicilia, an authentic Italian restaurant with incredible Mediterranean dishes such as baked octopus; and Mistral, an all-day dining option. Outside, Moroc Lounge and Bar is a great spot to enjoy a post-dinner drink and keep an eye on the queue at neighbouring nightclub Diablo, which is being hailed as the largest club in the Middle East. Work is still going ahead on a new spa that management plans to roll out in the second half of the year, but for now, guests can make the most of a free shuttle to the Oceana beach club – Mövenpick’s beachfront resort community on The Palm Jumeirah, featuring bars and restaurants and an upcoming 187-room hotel – which leaves from the hotel lobby every two hours from 10am to 10pm.
For more hotel and resort reviews visit www.dotwnews.com dotwnews.com
travel In the first of a new series profiling the worldâ€™s most historic hotels, Hedley Smith explores the compelling story of Melbourneâ€™s Hotel Windsor
Hotel Windsor: 1888
Hotel Windsor: 2010
“One thing is clear: Australians have taken this hotel to their hearts”
efore the Australian capital was relocated to Canberra in 1927, the main seat of government was Melbourne’s Parliament House on Spring Street. Opposite it stood the distinguished Hotel Windsor. Surviving to this day, it has become slightly weathered by the hands of time, but is loved no less. In 2010 hundreds of Australians took to the streets to protest the redevelopment of this 127-year-old institute. As clenched fists raised banners overhead, local politician Bob Brown rallied the crowds, and raged that this wasn’t just about Melbourne’s heritage – it was about Australia’s heritage. The reaction came following Planning Minister Justin Madden’s green light to redevelop the heritage-listed hotel, known affectionately as The Duchess of Spring Street. Adi Halim, director of the Halim Group, owner and developer of the Hotel Windsor, was flabbergasted by the outcry. In Melbourne’s leading newspaper The Age he wrote: “Never did I imagine that the debate would become so crazy that a hotel development would be compared to the bombing of Dresden.” Indeed such a controversial comparison was made in a letter written by the actor Geoffrey Rush, which was read to applauding protesters at the rally outside Parliament House. Closer inspection is required to understand the plans afoot for this grand dame of Victorian décor, but one thing is clear: Australians have taken this hotel to their hearts.
Pride and glory Soldiers parade in front of the hotel during World War I
THE GRAND ERA Though not as internationally renowned as the grand hotels in fashion capitals, the Windsor in Melbourne pre-dates London’s Savoy, New York’s Waldorf Astoria and the Ritz in Paris. It’s also the only surviving hotel of its kind in Australia, explaining its status as a national treasure.
Built by shipping magnate George Nipper and designed by architect Charles Webb, the Windsor was originally named The Grand Hotel at a time when the concept of ‘grand’ hotels first materialised. The year was 1883 and a love affair with luxury accommodation was blossoming in the trendsetting cities of Europe. In Australia, the gold boom had fuelled a rivalry between the cities of Melbourne in Victoria and Sydney in New South Wales, with the question of which city is better remaining a heated topic of debate in bars across both cities to this very day. Though gold was first discovered in New South Wales, Victoria’s jackpot soon followed and was far more bountiful. The gold rush brought some 1,800 prospectors to Melbourne each week, causing the population to increase exponentially. As proud Melbournians were quick to point out, Sydney had been made with convicts while Melbourne was made with gold. Adopting an air of superiority, the city invested its new wealth in public parks and architectural gems such as Flinders Street train station and Parliament House. It earned the moniker ‘the Paris of the Antipodes’ and was the second largest city in the British Empire. Amid this grandeur the Windsor served its first afternoon tea to ladies of means in long skirts and bonnets, beneficiaries of the gold rush and believers in temperance. When temperance campaigner James Munro took ownership of the hotel in 1886 he burnt its liquor license and changed its name to Grand Coffee Palace. The ban lasted until 1897, during which time Melbourne’s property market crashed, spelling bleak times for ‘Marvellous Melbourne’.
INSIDE AN ICON A year after the alcohol ban was lifted, history was made within the Windsor’s walls as politicians, no doubt encouraged by the prospect of a tipple, came to work on the final draft of the Federal Constitution of Australia. When it came into place in 1901 it united Australia’s separate states under the new Commonwealth.
It wasn’t until 1923 that the Windsor adopted its present title, following a visit by the then Prince of Wales. Trendsetting royals were, as always, followed by the celebrities of the day and in its history the hotel has accommodated many legends, some of whom performed at the Princess Theatre next door, including Sir Laurence Olivier, Vivien Leigh, Gregory Peck and Lauren Bacall. In later years, Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep and Mohammad Ali were among the stars to pay a visit, and today’s A-list guests range from Kylie Minogue and Shania Twain to Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe. The clientele may be eclectic, but the décor is devout Victorian. To get a sense of the famous feet that treaded the boards before you, skip through the Belle Époque interior of the Grand Ballroom, ascend the cantilevered Grand Staircase decorated with handmade Minton tiles, visit the vintage elevators with sliding grates and retire to a room fit for a king, or at the very least a Prime Minister. The most famous long-term occupant was former Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies, whose suite now bears his name. The oval-shaped drawing rooms in the suites, complete with bureaus, are reminiscent of the world’s most famous oval office, and views of Parliament House add to the ever-present air of importance. Each extravagantly large room leads to a walk-in wardrobe, and though some 21st-Century modcons are missing, small details, like the old-style radios built into the wood panelling of bedside cabinets, make up for any absent conveniences. The controversial redevelopment may well address these points, but developers say the essence of the hotel won’t be lost. Most of the demolition in the US$260 million plan involves an adjoining block added in 1960 to create more space. Only the rear of the original building will be removed to make way for a tower block of suites set back from the façade, and $32 million of the budget will be spent on restoration and upgrading original features. Expect to see the staircase and elevator returned to their former glory and ladies taking afternoon tea for many more years to come.
Facts and figures 1883: The year the hotel opened. 180: The number of rooms and suites. 1821: The year British architect Charles Webb was born in Suffolk. He went on to design many notable landmarks in 19th Century Victoria, including the Melbourne Town Hall and Royal Arcade. 11: Years spent as an alcohol-free ‘coffee palace’ during the temperance era. 2,000,000: Number of afternoon teas the hotel has served since 1883. 103: Age of diner Majorie Hummererde, who booked the 2,000,000th afternoon tea and recently won a lifetime pass to dine and stay at the Windsor. 260,000,000: Amount of Australian dollars budgeted for planned renovations to the 127-year-old hotel.
akarta society weddings are unique; 1,500 guests are commonplace and hoteliers tell me they have catered to weddings of 7,000 or more. The Indonesian President, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, also known as SBY, married political scientist Ani Bambang in 1977 in the Bali Room of what was then called the Hotel Indonesia. This became an instant hit when it opened in 1962 for the Asian Games, and the roundabout in front of the hotel is still called Bunderan HI (for Hotel Indonesia). In May 2009, the 17-floor icon got a new lease on life as Hotel Indonesia Kempinski (pictured). Designer Hirsch Bedner Associates has put sensational triangular-shaped freestanding tubs in all 289 bedrooms, there is a rooftop pool next to the Anantara spa, and the 412-sq m Presidential Suite – a soothing blend of cream and mulberry with hints of black and glitter – has bullet-proof glass. Whichever room you choose, you must see the aforementioned oval Bali Room, which has nine columns, each standing 10 metres tall, along both curved walls. The Bali Room, alas, only has a capacity of 800, so bigger weddings must go elsewhere. I witnessed a few weddings at The Ritz-Carlton, Jakarta, which sensibly (after an ‘incident’ in 2009) turned what had previously been two restaurants into yet another ballroom. I already knew the standard procedure for weddings here. You are invited to arrive between 6-10pm, and when enough guests turn up, so too do the happy couple. They cut a cake – eight tiers if they are Chinese-Indonesian, less if they are pure Indonesian – and stand in a line with their parents to shake the hands of well-wishers. Most of the food is presented buffet-style, with dishes continually refilled, but a VIP corner is reserved for close family. Many guests want doggie bags to take home, and allegedly some guests come prepared with empty tupperware containers.
Lifestyle and luxury commentator
“You feel safe in Jakarta; you wish every city had the strongstatement exterior security that makes the city’s hotels true oases of calm”
An insider’s view of the world’s most luxurious hotels There was a wedding at The Ritz-Carlton, Jakarta hosted by a powerful strawberry farmer while I was there. In six hours his team had transformed the ballroom into a strawberry bower, with big fake fruit and leaves hanging from the ceiling and the walls of the main room, which also temporarily housed dozens of full-size trees with fairy lights, and a pond with real ducks swimming about. Ushers were identified by their strawberry lapel badges. Another characteristic of most of Jakarta’s top hotels is great Italian food. At Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, Casa D’Oro offers Milanese cuisine. At The Ritz-Carlton, Jakarta, Lobo is more Roman in style, and you can work up an appetite by using the 333room hotel’s kilometre-long running track that wraps around the fifth-floor terrace, with pool and a 20-room Clarins Spa. At Shangri-La Jakarta, you’ll be bowled over by chef Oriana Tirabassi; that woman has personality, and she can cook. This 661-room hotel hosts many of the largest weddings in town, as its pillarless Grand Ballroom can accommodate 3,000 at any one time. The Shangri-La Jakarta is ideal for those who tend to opt for hotels with gardens: here, the spacious grounds house a giant curvilinear pool, and the entire area is bordered by maximum security. You feel safe in Jakarta; you wish every city had the strongstatement exterior security that makes the city’s hotels true oases of calm, the better to do business or enjoy your leisure time. Back at Bunderan HI, which also has the Grand Hyatt Jakarta at one radial junction, Mandarin Oriental Jakarta is proudly exhibiting its new look, revealed two years ago. In Lyon restaurant, the European cuisine is French brasserie-style (try the sommelier’s outstanding Louis Latour Chassagne Montrachet 2004). A lot of weekday business at the 272-room hotel is private banking, and at weekends the locals move in, attracted by the MOBar, featuring live entertainment, and the sculpted fifth-floor outdoor terrace pool and outstanding Technogym fitness, with machines cleverly set around real palm trees. At weekends, too, there are plenty of weddings to watch, or gatecrash, in all hotels. You’ll share the lift, whichever hotel you are in, with some memorably attired guests. One pair of well-fed, well-groomed ladies had both chosen full-length, strapless, fuchsia day-glo gowns, one sporting all-over pink feathers, the other pink fabric ‘petals’. Their male escorts wore grey business suits. At the wedding, all ages and all levels of dress would be present. Jakarta is, in fact, a city for all. There is great shopping, notably at the mall behind the Hotel Indonesia Kempinski, and it’s a relief to learn that there is a great fast-track through immigration on arrival at the airport (visas on arrival). But there is also, sadly, a great amount of traffic.
THE NEW PERFUME
ALBUM: SHARILYN ABBAJAY Vice president of of global spas and retail, Marriott International
ith over 30 years of experience under her belt, Sharilyn Abbajay got her start in the industry as a beauty service provider before becoming a beauty technician for skincare
brand Gillette, a company that pioneered the modern concept of the day spa in America in the late 70s. “All my life I’ve been exposed to the beauty industry,” she says. “My aunts were all in the business, and as a child I was constantly around beauty and skincare and cosmetics, so just by osmosis I was lead to the industry.” After her time at Gillette, Abbajay spent nine years at Elizabeth Arden, where, as VP of operations, she oversaw the rebranding of their Red Door day spa locations across the globe, working to attract a new, younger clientele. She then went on to work in product
development and became corporate operating officer at Estee Lauder’s subsidiary label Aveda, a progressive beauty brand focusing on all-natural and organic ingredients. Today she is responsible for Marriott International’s portfolio of over 100 spas, including those of Ritz-Carlton, Marriott, JW Marriott and Renaissance hotels. Recently she has been hard at work overseeing the launch of the Marriott’s Saray spa brand, which rolled out at Marriott hotels in the Middle East in February. Here she tells DOTW News where she likes to get away from it all when she’s off-duty.
Monaco This always makes a great place for a beauty retreat. There are so many seaweed therapies that were developed there and are still used at spas all over the world, which offer actual healing properties to the skin and body. The quality of the spas and the treatments they provide are of a very high standard.
I like San Francicso, California because of the eclectic culture of the city. There is such a great mix of people, from artisans to businessmen, and there is such a variety of different ethnic groups. It has beautiful buildings, a unique type of architecture and overall a great sense of variety for a big, bustling city. I love to walk around and take in the sights, and there is a real sense of nature that keeps you grounded as well.
I love Thailand for the warmth and the genuine sense of caring its people have. The hospitality of the Thai people is like nowhere else; it embraces you with a true sense of kindness and attentiveness that makes you not want to leave. Everywhere you go, you encounter such wonderful people who are nurturing and welcoming. The natural beauty of Phuket, with the ocean, the flowers and the beach, all make for an ideal escape.
“India is home to wellness traditions like yoga that allow you to connect with your inner calm”
The northern part of Italy to be exact. This is where you find the destination spas that Europeans have visited for centuries to rejuvenate and relax. It is the authenticity of the experience that brings me back. The fango mud treatments and the mineral pools provide such a special sense of place, as well as an absolute cure for the body. These time-tested remedies, combined with the natural beauty of the area, create a perfect getaway.
India is such an exotic place and provides a really great mixture of history and culture. Architecture from colonial times combined with ancient Indian marvels such as the Taj Mahal make it unique. Despite the hustle and bustle of the big cities, India is home to wellness traditions like yoga that allow you to connect with your inner calm. It is also the birthplace of ancient Ayurvedic treatments that provide a true sense of calm and relaxation.
I love the natural beauty of the Marriott Camelback Mountain, and the spa there is very unique. Itâ€™s beautiful, the setting has the backdrop of the mountains and the therapists are excellent and very well-trained. Their services will always incorporate something from the American Indian traditions, which I love. I tend to gravitate towards places that make you feel like youâ€™re back to nature, and this is definitely one of those places.
Luxury on the high seas Captain Henrik Loft Sorensen, Brilliance of the Seas, Royal Caribbean What is a typical day like for you? There are no typical days, really. It could involve getting into port, greeting guests, doing activities with them, and then doing the administrative side of things. Each ship is considered a business unit and I’m a managing director, really – I’m responsible for the financial side of things and how well we do on that end.
How much of your job revolves around interacting with guests? The more I can be visible to our guests, attending cocktail parties and things, the more popular the product – the cruise – becomes, because guests like to interact with the captain. I sometimes deal blackjack in the onboard casinos and all sorts of things. It depends on how busy the cruise run is and how much time I can spare to mingle. Whatever time is left after my daily work is done, I will dedicate to the guests.
Do you enjoy the social aspect of your job? Yes, and I think you have to in order to do this job. I don’t think you will last long as the captain of a cruise ship if you aren’t a sociable person; it’s part of the product and you have to enjoy it to be good at it.
Does the Captain’s Table still exist these days and if so what are the criteria for an invitation? It does, yes. Some people think that it is their right to be invited to the Captain’s Table just by being on board, while some people have a more humble approach, but in general it’s a popular event that the majority of people like. I select people based on whether they’ve been on one of our cruises before and I recognise them, or sometimes I will ask guests who’ve never sailed with us and are just nice people.
What is the most dangerous experience you’ve encountered at sea? The safety of the passengers is my most important job. I haven’t experienced any major disasters but I had an incident in Villefranchesur-mer last year when a big wave
destroyed the waterfront of the French Riviera. We had to find another port and bring the 1,800 people who had disembarked that day back on board.
How have cruises adapted to suit modern travellers and times? Modern travellers are looking for more. It’s not just the seven-day cruises through the Caribbean any more; the cruise ship industry has exploded. It’s what you get for the price you pay. We’ve got newer, bigger ships that have everything from an ice rink to Broadway shows, live jazz and comedy shows.
Competition... WHERE IN THE WORLD? Think you can identify the location in the photo? If you do, e-mail your answer to firstname.lastname@example.org and put Where in the world? in the subject line. Each month, the winner will receive a 12-month subscription to Destinations of the World News worth US$99. The destination featured in our February 2011 competition was the Matterhorn in Zermatt, Switzerland. This month’s winner is Renji K. Mathew from Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Published on Feb 28, 2011
Published on Feb 28, 2011
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