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Issue 2, 2009

European News

Welcome...

Contents

...to the latest issue of our magazine of tailor-made travel ideas and destinations.

UK & Europe

he rich legacy of North Africa makes a tempting backdrop for a culturally rich experience. Egypt unveils the cradle of civilisation whilst Morocco weaves a colourful tapestry of Moorish and high Arabic culture. They have become extremely popular exotic destinations on the fringes of Europe; longhaul without the long journey. Oman requires a longer journey but visitors are rewarded with a laidback vision of Gulf life and the promise of warm, tropical waters in the depths of our British winter. Looking to the other end of Africa we explore the up and coming province of KwaZulu Natal. Constance Resorts has a reputation for excellence in the Indian Ocean and its latest offering, Constance Ephelia Resort, brings the Seychelles experience onto a much broader price platform. We are pleased to offer a sneak preview in anticipation of a Spring 2010 opening. Saint Barthelemy brings French Chic to the Caribbean. With its pristine beaches, stylish boutiques and abundance of restaurants it offers the Riviera touch in a tropical haven. We also take a whirlwind tour around the Caribbean in search of some gastronomic superstars. If you enjoy city breaks then Bordeaux offers an unexpected delight. Recently instated as a World Heritage Site, this historic port city has a truly intoxicating appeal! For the winter sports enthusiast we present some “supreme” ideas for high altitude adventure seekers.

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European News

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The Rebirth of Bordeaux

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On top of the world with some cutting edge experiences.

The Riads of Marrakech

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Pampering for ALL the Family at Reid’s Palace

Here’s a great idea for a “best of both worlds” holiday. Why not split your time between a stay at the wonderful Hôtel de la Cité in Carcassonne after which you board the luxury barge, Alouette, for a leisurely cruise down the famous Canal du Midi to Beziers. Be warned though, this area of France is renowned for its gastronomy.

There is an extensive selection of activities and special amenities for children of all ages. Discover the Fun@Reid's Programme where a second bedroom for children is complimentary including the same board basis as the parents! There is also a separate teenager club. Perhaps a highlight for aspiring young ladies will be the opportunity to share a dual massage treatment with mother at the superb new spa, in a massage room with its own terrace and private hot tub overlooking the sea.

Ancient Treasures & Modern Treats Enjoying the experiences of the Nile and the Red Sea in style.

Forts & Frankincense

Exciting new routes as the Venice SimplonOrient-Express journeys through Eastern Europe

Oman offers a more refined Gulf holiday.

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KwaZulu Natal Dramatic landscapes beckon wild, outdoor adventure and spellbinding tales in the Kingdom of the Zulu.

Islands in the Sun 16

Stylish St Barthelemy The Riviera touch in the Caribbean. Chic and exclusive living at Hotel Isle de France.

18 Published by Travelspeak Limited

Ski Supreme

The style and elegance of the townhouses of Morocco’s red city.

Managing Director

Caribbean for Gourmets Fine dining on your favourite islands in the Caribbean.

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Constance Ephelia Resort Introducing a new resort that will change the way you look at the Seychelles.

Tel: 0800 881 8169 Fax: 01491 501662

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www.fullcircletravel.com

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Africa & Arabia 8

Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi - A great combination

Reid’s Palace in Madeira welcomes more and more families all year and has opened an exclusive children's playground to further improve the holiday experience of its youngest guests.

A stylish short break to the capital city of red wine and World Heritage Site.

Niall Douglas

59 St Mary's Street Wallingford, Oxfordshire OX10 0EL

K804X

World News

The scope for travel on the legendary train has increased in recent years with exciting new routes into Eastern Europe. Perhaps one of the finest extended itineraries is the 7 night / 8 day journey from Venice across the beautiful Slovakian countryside to the ancient Polish city of Krakow and then onwards to the enthralling city of Dresden with its baroque palaces on the mighty banks of the River Elbe. From here the journey continues to Paris and onwards to London.

The Canny Traveller - Value added deals are better than discounts Getting more for your money If you add up the time taken fishing around for that bargain price the odds are that the saving didn’t warrant the effort. A better way to approach your holiday package is definitely to make your money work for you and this is where value-added deals win hands down. We list a few of the key types: The FREE UPGRADE Worth its weight in gold because you get a better product. On a plane this could mean the difference between red-eye and shut-eye! A room upgrade will enhance your holiday experience. Half/Full Board UPGRADE Bed & Breakfast may look great on paper but wait for the check-out bill! 2 weeks for the price of 1 A typical lower season strategy by hotels but beware of a drop in board in the second week or a compulsory half board charge in second week KIDS go FREE Usually offered to the first child sharing parents’ room and under age of 12 and is usually a match on the board basis of the adults. UNLIMITED USE OF... If this is spa treatments and/or rounds of golf ...need we say more! 3


The Rebirth of Bordeaux The Neo-Classical Elegance of the “Port of the Moon”

Fine traditions restored with a modern master’s touch The Regent Grand Hotel Bordeaux

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ts setting alone makes the Regent Grand a rather special place to stay. Across a magnificent square it faces directly onto one of the city’s most famous landmarks, the Grand Théâtre opera house, which was designed by the same architect in the 1770s, at the heart of Bordeaux's beautifully preserved, 18th-century town centre. Its opening has at last given the city the sort of grand hotel it has lacked since the original Regent Grand closed in 1990. The reincarnation is five times larger, as it has cleverly incorporated several adjacent buildings, resulting in an arterial layout within the handsome, golden-stone façades.

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he Port of the Moon is in the heart of Bordeaux, a port city in south-western France, built up around the River Garonne. The port earned the nickname “Port de la Lune” because of its crescent moon shape. On its inscription in late 2007 as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the central area was described as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble, created in the Age of Enlightenment, whose values continued up to the first half of the 20th century, with more protected buildings than any other French city, except Paris.” The “Red Wine” Capital of the world offers a sophisticated short break in easy distance of the UK with the added benefit of frequent and invariably cheap air connections. The elegance of the old city centre with both grand squares and quaint, narrow streets holds many sightseeing surprises including the Musee des Chatrons, a museum that showcases the storing, bottling and packaging of wine. Bordeaux is the gateway to the world’s finest wine producing areas with over 10,000 chateaux and over fifty different appellations. Discover the exquisite appeal of some of the world’s great wines: Lafite, Latour, Pomerol.

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Interior designer Jacques Garcia has come up with a unique reworking of 19th-century Second Empire style, with sultry low lighting, plenty of plush finishes, giant flower arrangements and a row of black Baccarat crystal chandeliers. The bedrooms offer a more refined styling with high beds, deep mattresses, richly patterned fabrics and marble-and-mahogany bathrooms. The ground-floor Brasserie l'Europe has already captured a loyal local clientele, and the sumptuous restaurant Le Pressoir d'Argent (named after the silver lobster press that presides over the dining room) is set to win its gastronomic spurs. Come and celebrate the rebirth of Bordeaux in style. 5


Ski Supreme On top of the world with some cutting edge experiences

A Ski Journey through Switzerland, Italy and France with Tracks European Adventures

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The objective is simple - ski some of the world’s finest mountain terrain and live the good life in copious measure. Forget national borders, the mountains were there first, just ski across!

he choices available to winter sports enthusiasts grows with each year. New countries are developing resorts and eyes are turning inexorably eastwards towards countries where snowfalls might prove more reliable in coming years.

This is exactly what a very specialist Alpine company, Tracks European Adventures, has bundled into an 8-day extravaganza. The circuit begins in Villars and ends in Chamonix without the hassle of long road transfers as Geneva Airport is just an hour’s drive from both resorts. A 2-hour transfer in the middle of the week completes all road miles leaving you with the prospect of virgin terrain everyday. Adrenalin junkies will jump at the opportunity for a paragliding descent whilst powder hounds can carve their tracks from a helicopter drop in Courmayer. The classic descent through the Vallee Blanche of Mont Blanc signals the finale to a week of true ski adventure. After the excitement of each day’s ski adventures, the down-time is always the very best with luxury accommodation and fine cuisine included in the package.

In the traditional playground of the Alps the luxury chalet concept reaches new heights with Richard Branson’s superbly appointed residence in the chic resort of Verbier. The popularity of the Alps both in the summer and winter has also seen the emergence of specialist local companies, who can maximise on the opportunities for adventure in this spectacular landscape.

Tracks European Adventures offer year round alpine experiences so if you are a summer rambler rather than a winter scrambler why not ask us about their extensive programme of alpine adventures, such as golf, wine tastings, castle tours and more. Everything is tailored to your requirements, schedule and ability.

Ski-in Luxury at Verbier’s Finest The Lodge at Verbier, Virgin Limited Edition

Set high in the Swiss Alps, 800 feet from the main Médran lift station, The Lodge at Verbier is one of the few ski-in locations in town. Owned by Sir Richard Branson and recognised as one of the most luxurious chalets in the Alps, guests will receive exceptional personal service from its team of 13 friendly staff. The Lodge, renowned for its stylish interiors, is a stunning nine bedroom chalet, accommodating a total of 18 adults and six children. The bedrooms include two master suites with open fireplaces and views of the spectacular Swiss peaks and a specially designed bunkroom for the kids. The property’s indoor pool area connects to a steam room, gym, and treatment room, whilst outdoors there is a small ice rink. The play room hosts the after dinner fun, with games, a pool table and a bar and if the party should continue into the early hours, the staff will help get you back on the slopes, prepping breakfast and escorting you up the mountain with a 24 hour driver service. When you return, you can take a dip in the Lodge’s outdoor hot tub, or enjoy a cooking lesson from the head chef whilst Bam Bam the resident retriever relaxes by the fire. 6

The Final Frontier Skiing in the Himalayas Gulmarg in Kashmir

In 2004, construction of the world’s highest gondola telecabine gave adventurous skiers access to the 4,000m ridge of Mount Apharwat, above Gulmarg Ski Village. The buzz in the ski fraternity is that Gulmarg is where the experts want to ski. Ride to the top station of the Gondola and the next decision really is which bowl do you want to sign your tracks down. From here there are many choices of descent ranging from 1600 to 2000 metres of vertical

descent depending on your onward trek along the ridge. This is truly one of the world’s most awesome off-piste ski areas. Soon this will be complemented by the introduction of a local heliski service. A visit to Gulmarg can be combined with a stay on Dal Lake in a traditional houseboat to make an unforgettable journey of discovery to Kashmir. Contact us for further details. 7


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The Riads of Marrakech The hidden treasures of the Medina

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s you weave through the narrow alleys of the Medina in Marrakech, or indeed any of Morocco’s many Imperial cities or Berber fortresses the stark simplicity of the passageway gives very little away. Perhaps, a bolt studded wooden door with a heavy brass knocker is the clue you have been searching for. This is the understated exterior personality of the Moroccan town house. For the treasure is like the plain veil that cloaks a moorish princess concealing the beauty within. Enter past the thick walls, that immediately silence the noises of the Medina, and a Riad (meaning “Garden”) offers a celebration of “Bourgeoisie” opulence that pulses around the ever present focal point of a central garden with a pool or fountain. Water is the source of life, and is a stark reminder of the desert roots of the Berber, Moorish and Islamic cultures. These central courtyards draw natural light from atriums around which balconies and galleries hint of living areas radiating outwards.The high nature of the atrium means that the excesses of summer heat are dissipated offering a sanctuary from the burning sun. The decor of the most traditional Riads reflect the omnipresent relationship that is so typical of Moroccan architecture of repeating geometric patterns. These adorn all surfaces in a vivid splash of colour and complex plaster work - “Geometry is God Manifest” according to Islamic theology. Ancient Moroccan culture places high value on the home and much care has been put into its making, as the Moroccan proverb goes "The first thing one should own is a home; and it is the last thing one should sell; for a home is one's tomb this side of heaven." Sadly, the influence of the French in the early20th century tempted many of the nobler families (and harem owners) to move into the plush new suburbs. which led to the deterioration of many fine Riads. The revival in the fortunes of the Riad has been very recent with a surge of purchases by European visitors. The subsequent renovations has led to a somewhat eclectic treatment of the interiors ranging from loving traditional restoration to at times quite minimalistic modern remodellings. What is evident is that Riad living is once again flourishing and that the visitor to Marrakech has the opportunity to experience the flavours of the Medina in intimate surroundings.

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The Angsana Collection A very individual resort

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he Angsana Riads comprise six separate, small riads dotted throughout the city centre of Marrakech. Together they make an intriguing Resort concept. They are all within 20 minutes of one another, and all similarly decked out with modern interiors, seamlessly blended with authentic Moroccan mystique - ornately decorated tiling from the 19th century, and cream walls splashed with bright cushions. Guests in one riad have full access to the facilities of the other riads in the collection thus creating a unique resort concept. All of the riads have between 6 and 10 rooms, and plenty of authentic artifacts mixed in among the modern amenities. Each also has its own restaurant, serving up traditional cuisine. Collectively they offer the guest a wonderful variety of dining opportunities to vary the experience of a stay. Each riad has a treatment room and a hammam where Thai staff deliver exquisite massages.

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1. The classic atrium at Riad Lydines 2. Doorway to the patio at Riad Aida 3. Traditional Tagine cuisine 4. Riad Bab Firdaus - Courtyard 5. Simple styling of bedroom at Riad Bab Firdaus 6 Dining in the courtyard - Riad Si Siad 7. Breakfast on the terrace at Riad Aida

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Ancient Treasures & Modern Treats Enjoying the experience of the Nile and The Red Sea in style

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he mighty Nile remains the world’s most impressive natural highway. For thousands of years it has directly influenced the shaping of Egypt and other countries further up its course. One of the world’s largest cities, Cairo, sits on its banks, and a satellite view of the river course reveals a snaking cordon of fertile lands that once fed the first mighty civilisation of Planet Earth. It is quite simply the best historical tour delivering 5,000 years of antiquities from the comfort of a river cruiser. The best constructed holidays, like a good book, have a great beginning, keep you riveted through the middle pages and deliver a fine ending. This is so true with a well-balanced trip to Egypt. For a start you can be assured of warm weather throughout your stay, even at the height of our UK winter. Cairo houses the greatest collection of treasures of the Pharaohs in the magnificent Museum of Egyptian Antiquities with no less than 136,000 items on display. What better way to colour the sights of the forthcoming journey into antiquity. Of course no visit is complete without taking in the mighty Pyramids of Giza. The staging point for river cruises lies up the river at the ancient city of Luxor, where boats head further upstream to Aswan or vice versa. Many visitors will be surprised at the number of river cruisers that ply the waterway, but this only reflects the awesome sights that line the banks. It also should remind us of the wide standards of hospitality available. Top heavy floating juggernauts pack em’ in but for the 5 star experience there are a small number of truly impressive craft including the superbly outfitted MS Oberoi Zahra. Oberoi has the unique distinction of private docking facilities, which ensures a relaxed experience getting on and off the boat. Eight days and seven nights on board allows ample time for landfall at all of the wonders along the river. Karnak, Dandara, The Valley of the Kings, The Colossus of Memnon and Edfu promise unforgettable sights. There will also be time to sail in a Felucca and even to travel above the Aswan Dam to view the grandeur of Abu Simbel. The services of the on-board guides and Egyptologists ensure a never ending source of background information and stories. By the end of the cruise you will have shared a special step back in time with your fellow passengers. But this heady cocktail of culture really deserves one final component to make the perfect holiday - some days just winding down on the Red Sea coast. Where better to head than the more exclusive bay of Sahl Hasheesh close to Hurghada. Perhaps, the crystal clear waters with their vibrant aquatic attractions will surely deliver that all-important grand finale. 10

Oberoi Mena House, Cairo Situated in the shadow of the Pyramids at Giza, the Mena House Oberoi is one of Egypt's most historic hotels, just 45 minutes drive from the airport. Originally a hunting lodge the Mena House Oberoi is set in 40 acres of jasmine scented gardens and is full of original works of arts, exquisite antiques and sparkling chandeliers that light the mosaic floors below. The ideal base for absorbing the treasures of the Cairo Museum and The Pyramids before setting forth up the Nile. The hotel also benefits from its own 18-hole golf course overshadowed by the Great Pyramid of Khufu.

MS Oberoi Zahra, Nile Cruiser Unparalleled opulence beckons in this floating paradise, undoubtedly the Nile’s most luxurious cruiser. A leisurely seven-night cruise on this palatial boat with its timber floors and elegant interiors encompasses ancient monuments, spectacular temples and five thousand years of fascinating Egyptian culture. Large windows give panoramic views, whilst in your tastefully appointed luxury cabin, amenities include plasma screen television and a terrace, some with private Jacuzzi designed for pure relaxation. The only cruiser with massage suites, complemented by a swimming pool and gym.

Oberoi Sahl Hasheesh, Red Sea A secluded haven on the Red Sea Coast, celebrating rare marine life, nature’s fabulous colours and the timeless beauty of the sea. Nature’s colours come to life at The Oberoi, Sahl Hasheesh with white sand, aquamarine waters and vibrantly-hued marine life. In exotic Egypt, this exclusive luxury resort on the Red Sea Coast is situated on 48 acres with a private beach. The architecture of the resort reflects the style of the region, resplendent with domes, arches and columns. Peace and privacy pervade this all-suite resort, with private courtyards complemented by soothing interiors and luxurious bathrooms. 11


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Forts & Frankincense Oman offers a more refined Gulf escape

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irst impressions are very important and the moment you arrive in Muscat you will realise that the Sultanate of Oman is very different to neighbouring Dubai. There are no forests of scaffolding and cranes but instead you encounter a country that is taking its time to develop; that is seeking to embellish its rich history rather than reshape the world on a grand scale. And for this reason you will appreciate a destination that has a strong identity, great civic pride and is not overrun with tourists.

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The rugged Al Hajar mountains dominate the landscape for much of the eastern seaboard, encroaching the very shores creating a fascinating coastline that is continually punctuated by glistening white sand coves and dramatic, narrow valleys chiselled out of the rock by flash floods. Indeed, one of the most popular excursions, “Wadi Bashing”, involves exhilarating off-road driving tours to discover verdant enclaves, dramatic waterfalls, deserted beaches and spectacular sink holes. Travel inland and strategic forts dot the mountains before giving way to the rolling expanse of the desert plains. Muscat is a fascinating city, flanked by two medieval forts, and surrounded by beautiful sandy beaches, and mountain ridges that break it into smaller townships. Many buildings in this unusual capital still date from the 16th century when it was occupied by the Portuguese. Be sure not to miss the chance to visit the Grand Mosque commissioned by the current Sultan. It has a 91.5 metre high main minaret, a 6,000capacity prayer hall and a carpet so large that it took 600 weavers more than four years to make! Oman offers the perfect combination of historical and cultural places of interest and stunning beach resorts in which to spend some time relaxing. The best times to visit are between October and May.

1. Speciality Suite, Al Husn 2. Baby turtles making a moonlit dash for the sea. 3. Spices of Arabia 4. Aerial view of Barr Al Jissar Resort & Spa 5. CHI, The Spa - Treatment on the private beach

Three steps to Heaven Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa

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ust 30 minutes from the ancient centre of Muscat, Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa is a stunning combination of three hotels with amazing facilities, including 19 restaurants and bars serving everything from Italian cuisine and tapas to Middle Eastern specialties and fast food, a spa, tennis courts and a variety of freeform and infinity swimming pools. All this is set among 124 acres of landscaped gardens, leading down to a private beach and framed by rugged mountains. Every room is sea facing with either a balcony or terrace and offers 24 hour room service. Rooms in the Omani style Al Husn, the most splendid of the three hotels, vary from deluxe to the enormous Royal Suite, all offering a stretch of private beach, a well equipped gym and infinity pool. Al Bandar, with its piazza, restaurants and an outdoor amphitheatre makes a great meeting place while flexible, family-friendly accommodation can be found at Al Waha. Aside from the excellent sporting facilities, there is a large spa (commended in the 2008 Condé Nast readers awards for Hotel Spas). Guests can venture out on desert safaris, wadi explorations and tours to souks and historic sites as well as whale and dolphin watching cruises. If you time it right you could witness the baby turtles scuttling to the sea on the beach at Ras al-Hadd A kid's club will ensure that you can enjoy some quality adult time. There's never a dull moment for any of the family at Shangri-La's Barr Al Jissah Resort & Spa.

6. Barr Al Jissah Beach

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Cathedral Peak Hotel, Drakensberg Mountains Nestled in the unspoiled surroundings of the uKahlamba Drakensberg mountain range, (World Heritage Site) Cathedral Peak Hotel is one of South Africa’s premier resort hotels. Lying 250 kilometres north of Durban, this famous hotel is easily accessible and since it first opened to guests in 1939, the van der Riet family has succeeded in offering warm hospitality, combined with exceptional service and value for money.

Isandlwana Lodge, Zulu Battlefields His tales may move you to tears as resident historian, Rob Gerrard, brings alive the bloody events of the Anglo-Zulu war of 1872. Iconic landmarks and the passionate delivery of the Zulu uprising make Isandlwana Lodge an integral part of visiting KwaZulu Natal. Isandlwana Lodge is carved into the iNyoni rock overlooking Mount Isandlwana. A prolonged stay of more than two nights will give the visitor an opportunity to enjoy other activities, especially the Zulu Cultural Tour.

Pakamisa, near Pongola

KwaZulu Natal Dramatic landscapes beckon wild, outdoor adventure and spellbinding tales in the Kingdom of the Zulu

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he Zulu Experience is a circuit recommended by South African specialists, Ethos Marketing, that gives the visitor a wonderful introduction to the natural diversity of the often overshadowed province of KwaZulu Natal. For those that choose to take the journey, it is likely that you will agree that the rainbow of South Africa rises from the east accompanied by the drums of a proud Zulu nation. 2010 will no doubt see an increase of visitors to Durban when it plays host to some of the World Cup fixtures both in the initial group and knock out stages. However, the coastal city with its famous beaches is the gateway to the province and our route leads first into the Drakensberg mountains, climbing through lush foothills up to the alpine reaches of this spectacular range. The area is a walker’s paradise and if you fancy tea in high places why not take a helicopter ride to your own private peak (as arranged by the Cathedral Peak Hotel). Families are well catered for with a superb range of outdoor activities for all ages.

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Now comes the stuff of legends as the Zulu Battlefields brings you to the iconic high plains where bloody campaigns saw the humbling of a modern British army below the mountain of Isandlwana by the fierce spears of the Zulus. This was followed by the gallant defence of Rorke’s Drift by a handful of soldiers against a sea of warriors (see Isandlwana Lodge). Unfortunately, The humiliation of the Empire sealed a catastrophic reprisal upon the Zulus and their charismatic king, Cetshwayo. It is a story repeated 30 years later with equally vindictive reprisals upon the Boers in the bitter Anglo Boer wars. At the northern end of the province the land turns wilder and you encounter a variety of terrain ideal for game viewing dropping eventually to the Elephant Coast and the famous St Lucia Wetlands. Various private game reserves offer a tantalising range of safari styles including horseback, walking, driving and water borne options. Each stage of this tour is separated by about 250 km of easy road travel and ends as it begins in Durban.

This unique and exclusive lodge is situated in its own, malaria-free private game reserve, perched high on the slopes of Pakamisa Mountain and overlooking the rolling hills of Zululand. Among the many outdoor activities Pakamisa is particularly renowned for its horseback safaris, enabling guests young and old, novice or veteran to explore the rolling hills of the vast Pakamisa reserve. Professional guides will guide you through this unspoilt wilderness that swarms with wildlife.

AmaKhosi, Amazulu Private Game Reserve AmaKhosi, translated from Zulu means ‘The Place of the Kings’ and there can be no better name for this boutique, luxury property, which is renowned for its attentive service in the dramatic surroundings of Zululand. Boasting 12,000 hectares, the Amazulu Private Game Reserve is made up of a varied ecosystem. This diversity includes savanna, mountains and wetlands which makes it the ideal home to the “Big 5” as well as giraffe, warthog, hyena, hippos and crocodile – not to mention over 400 bird species.

Ghost Mountain Inn, Mkuze At the foot of the legendary Ghost Mountain in Mkuze, northern KwaZulu Natal lies the privately owned 4 Star Ghost Mountain Inn – a perfect setting to experience the allure of Africa in stylish comfort. Zululand hotel accommodation at its finest. This intimate and beautiful hotel is the ideal location from which to explore the array of wildlife and coastal reserves in Maputaland and the Elephant Coast including the famous St Lucia Wetlands, a World Heritage Site. 15


Stylish St Barthelemy A Chic Retreat on the Caribbean’s exclusive “French Riviera” island

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mall is definitely beautiful when it comes to describing the incredibly “bijoux” and exclusive island of St Barthelemy in the French Antilles. To fly to the island requires a light aircraft transfer from nearby St Maarten or Guadeloupe.

The island only has 17 beaches and occupies an area of less than 25km2, but these beaches have the right kind of white sand and the temperature of the crystal clear water never goes below 26oC. The native language is French, the range of restaurants is disproportionately generous and the currency is the Euro. There is absolutely no high rise development

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and hotels tend to be of the boutique variety offering an intimate retreat comparable to the flourishing private villa scene. It is as if a chunk of St.Tropez has broken off and floated across the Atlantic! Indeed, in the winter high season the island witnesses a notable influx of “Les Belles Francaises” along with a veritable A-List of the world famous. But if you want chic without the price tag then save your trip until spring when prices tend to drop considerably. The Hotel Isle de France is without question one of the island’s most appealing retreats. It is located right on the ocean front of Baie des Flamands, one of the best

Clockwise from top left : 1. The beach pool

2. The hotel lobby

3. Plunge pool, Beach Suite

5. Bathroom, Beach Suite

6. Beach Room

7. Beach Suite terrace

beaches, and although it only offers a selection of 37 rooms, suites, bungalows and villas there are plenty of amenities including a fresh water swimming pool, a fully equipped gymnasium and the hotel’s Zen-like Molton Brown Spa offering ‘Hypnotic cedrus river voyage” body treatment and ‘Reenergising shiatswe’ body massage. There are also two fine restaurants, La Case de l’Isle and La Cabane de L’Isle situated on the beach, serving a wide variety of inspirational dishes. Some of the best accommodations have their own private pool or jacuzzi, but all are furnished with French panache. Those who have been to the hotel before will be excited to hear about the new luxury beach suites.

4. Spacious lounge, Beach Suite

The four new beach suites are located close to the main building right on the beachfront with each suite offering over 1500 sq ft of contemporary living space with the inspirational touch of designer, Penny Morrison, who has used parquet flooring and soft elegant furnishings in cool cottons and linens to achieve a chic island style perfectly. Two of the suites are interconnecting and all have their own private infinity plunge pools on large terraces with beach loungers. Big picture windows ensure breathtaking views throughout the suites. Spacious lounges maintain a truly airy feel that extends into the large bathrooms with inside and outside showers, stone bathtub and separate dressing area.

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Caribbean for Gourmets Fine Dining on your Favourite Islands in the Sun

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hen you consider that the Caribbean has been battling in recent years to win back clientele tempted by new destinations like the Indian Ocean it is not surprising that the gastronomic scene has come on in leaps and bounds. Here we pay tribute to some of the leading flames in the West Indies kitchen. Barbados is probably the most popular island for UK visitors and no trip would be complete without a journey to the north west corner of the island for a meal at The Fishpot. Better still, the clever gastronome would book into Little Good Harbour, the hotel that owns the restaurant. Now you would be able to sample their fine cuisine, morning, noon and night. Michael Winner raves about the place! Sister hotel, The Atlantis, is opening soon on the east coast promising an even better restaurant experience. Great things are afoot at the hottest new hotel in St Lucia, Cap Maison. Although the restaurant, The Cliff at Cap, has only been open since January 2009, it has already been hailed by the New York Times as the place to eat on the island - “taking luxe to the next level on St Lucia”. The restaurant perches dramatically on a cliff with dramatic views onto nearby Martinique and Pigeon Island. The sunsets are awesome and the food prepared by Chef Jones is Nouveau French West Indian. On the culinary queen of Caribbean islands, St Barthelemy, the stars are frequently shining as

Food for Thought CuisinArt takes organic food very seriously and serves fresh produce all year round from its own Hydroponic Farm. A first for the Caribbean, it includes an 18,000 sq ft greenhouse that was engineered to withstand winds up to 110 mph...

brightly inside On the Rocks as in the magical night sky above. The Eden Rock Hotel’s iconic restaurant offers French epicurean dining at its finest. Spectacular by day and irresistibly romantic by night. Chef Christophe Blatz has won great praise for his fusion cuisine at Curtain Bluff mixing French flavours with Caribbean cuisine as in the superlative West Indian Bouillabaisse. The late owner, Howard Hulford, was so serious in his commitment to fine dining that he created his own import company in order to ensure consistent availability of fresh ingredients from around the world. Over in Grenada, the word is out that Gary Rhodes has excelled again with the dishes created for his stunning new season’s menu for Rhodes Restaurant at The Calabash. Mouth watering delights include grilled swordfish steak with chicken, prawn, scallop, crab cake and Caribbean paella risotto - wow!!

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Last, but certainly not least, the cuisine at CuisinArt on the peaceful island of Anguilla deserves a special recommendation. Chef Daniel le Guenan has adapted his very special Mediterranean and French fusion style to make the most of the superb fresh produce from the resort’s own organic gardens. Every Monday and Thursday he takes guests on a culinary journey at CuisinArt Resort & Spa’s one-ofa-kind Chef’s Table, by showcasing six courses of innovative and palate-pleasing menu creations infused with flavours from around the world with a wine to match each course.

...by comparison Curtain Bluff takes its wines very seriously. The hotel has one of the most highly regarded wine cellars in the Caribbean, boasting over 25,000 bottles...

...meanwhile Cap Maison have installed a “Champagne Zip Line”. This clever device enables drinks to be zipped down to guests enjoying the exclusive wooden deck on Rock Maison located below the restaurant - a special “well kept secret” spot ideal for sunset drinks, private dining and special events. 1. Tuna Ceviche - Fresh classics at CuisinArt, Anguilla 3. The award winning Cliff at Cap Restaurant, St Lucia 5. An eye for presentation at Cap Maison, St Lucia 7. Al Fesco at Mediterraneo, Cuisin Art, Anguilla

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2. Barbados’ favourite restaurant - The Fishpot 4. Rhodes Restaurant at The Calabash, Grenada 6. On the Rocks Restaurant, Eden Rock, St Barths 8. West Indian Bouillabaisse served at Curtain Bluff, Antigua

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Constance Ephelia Resort Introducing a new resort that will change the way you view the Seychelles.

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Clockwise from top left : 1. Beach Villa 2. Living area, Beach Villa 3. Junior Suite Bedroom 4. Junior Suite Bathroom 5. The Beach at Constance Ephelia Resort

eychelles has long been known for its luxury resorts, but the opening of Constance Ephelia Resort on Mahe next spring will herald the arrival of a hotel where five-star service can be found at four-star prices.

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The concept behind this new hotel is unique in the Seychelles and eagerly anticipated, filling a demand among the islands for affordable luxury, yet still with five-star facilities. Spread over 296 acres with luxuriant tropical vegetation, Constance Ephelia Resort is situated in a perfect spot on one of the island’s most beautiful beaches, overlooking the marine national park of Port Launay. When it opens in February, Constance Ephelia Resort will offer a wide range of accommodation to include 184 Junior Suites, 40 Senior Suites, 12 Family Villas with private pools, 12 Beach Villas with private pools, 8 Hillside Villas with private pools, 10 Spa Villas with private pools and a 3-bedroomed Presidential Villa. All accommodation comes with complimentary WiFi, LCD TV and MacMini system with iPod connection, CD and DVD; villas also feature wine coolers to keep guests’ favourite bottles chilled. 20

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The resort will be a great choice for families, with child-friendly menus, a kids club and excellent daily programme of activities (free of charge to children aged 4-12 years). A key attraction for adults will be The Spa Village, which includes a 7,000sq m Spa de Constance with14 treatment rooms as well as three rooms in the Shiseido Pavilion and a yoga pavilion, all set within beautiful tropical gardens. The Spa Villas will mean guests can have treatments in their villa, as they incorporate a treatment area as well as a meditation and calm zone. Also at the resort will be four swimming pools, a fully equipped gym, tennis courts, squash court and five boutiques. The resort will also offer the full range of non-motorised watersports, PADI dive centre and deep-sea fishing.

Constance Ephelia Resort will offer guests five amazing restaurants, each with their own bar and individual design concept. Highlights include Cyann which will be the signature restaurant, on the resort’s north beach offering haute cuisine – and a Chef’s table - overlooking Port Launay marine park. Also on the north beach will be Seselwa, evoking the spirit of the Seychelles with Creole specialities. Constance Hotels already offers the five-star Lemuria Resort on the sister Seychellois island of Praslin – as well as luxury properties in Mauritius, Madagascar and the Maldives. The group will bring its style of elegant luxury to Constance Ephelia Resort.

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Take advantage of some amazing opening offers from February to the end of September 2010. Contact us now for further details 21


World News with Orient-Express Hotel das Cataratas opens after two years of refurbishment

The new villas at Jimbaran Puri Bali

After a meticulous programme of renovations by Orient-Express, the Hotel das Cataratas is now open for business.

The Road To Mandalay resumes cruising

First opened as a hotel in 1958, Hotel das Cataratas is an elegant two storey Portuguese colonial style building. It has one of the most impressive and enviable locations in South America, with the world famous Iguaçu Falls just a two minute stroll from the property, and is surrounded by almost 1,850km² of national park. As the only hotel within the national park, Hotel das Cataratas has an unbeatable location, allowing guests to enjoy exclusive access to the falls each morning, before the park opens at 9am. Local activities which can be organised through the hotel include helicopter tours over the falls, boat rides through the rapids, four-wheel drive jungle adventures and nature walks within the national park. The 193 guest rooms, including 15 suites, have been decorated in line with the Portuguese style and feature paintings of the local flora and fauna by well known Brazilian artist, Ludmilla de Montes. Traditional Azulejos painted tiles, specially designed for Hotel das Cataratas, have also been used throughout the property, further enhancing the Portuguese history of the hotel. Many of the 16 Cataratas Deluxe Rooms boast lovely views of the falls, as do the Tower and Cataratas Suites. The feature spa offers an array of treatments from the Brazilian brand, Natura, which uses tropical fruits from the area, as well as ingredients sourced from the Amazon.

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Full Circle Travel is delighted to announce its online re-launch.

Situated on one of the best beaches in Bali, the 42 room Jimbaran Puri Bali has added 19 onebedroom and three two-bedroom villas. Each villa is set amidst a traditional Balinese garden and courtyard ensuring absolute privacy with a luxurious private swimming pool, which can be up to 9 x 4.5 metres in size, and a shady teakwood deck where rejuvenating spa treatments can be arranged. Jimbaran Puri Bali is a luxury resort with a simple, unpretentious and supremely romantic style.

The re-launch follows a complete remodelling and refurbishment, led by French-born architect Francois Greck and carried out by local craftsman, after damage caysed by Cyclone Nargis. The ship now features larger cabins and a capacity of just 82 passengers, down from 108, making an even more indulgent onboard experience. As before, the Road To Mandalay will offer a range of itineraries along Burma’s Irrawaddy River giving passengers access to the very heart of the country.

Opting for a villa at La Samanna

Our new website at http://www.fullcircletravel.co.uk is bigger, bolder and altogether better.

Combining the exclusive privacy of a sumptuous rental Villa with the luxurious amenities of a Caribbean beach resort and spa, the new La Samanna Villas on the island of St Martin offer just the right balance of independence and service. Both housekeeping and a private butler service are provided and the amenities of the main resort are just a few steps away. The villas have proved very popular with families. Professional child minders are available at additional cost.

Rest assured, our dedicated team is still on hand to provide you with the best independent advice there is, championing the lost art of customer service, but we are pleased to be reinforcing our presence online too. In practice this means our new website is a great initial source of information: a place to browse for details on your chosen destination or even get some inspiration!

“Thai Explorer” route on the E&O

And, if you want to keep up to date with the world of luxury travel according to Full Circle, follow us on Twitter too!

As an extension to the traditional SingaporeBangkok route, the most luxurious train in the Far East operates what is called the “Thai Explorer” allowing guests a two-night trip up to Chiang Mai and back to Bangkok stopping along the way at the ancient capital of Ayutthaya as well as the infamous Bridge over the River Kwai. Whilst many visitors to Thailand flock to the coast, this trip is an unforgettable way to enrichen a vist by exploring beauty of the North.

The site also includes our hottest current offers, suggested itineraries and a regularly updated travel blog. Please take a peek at our one-stop shop for luxury travel and let us know what you think. We’d love to hear your feedback on the latest addition to our team.

Remember, holiday time is precious. Spend yours wisely… For more information call us free on 0800 048 8772 or check the new site at www.fullcircletravel.co.uk


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Inner Circle - The Exclusive Magazine of Full Circle Travel

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