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Issue 26 Autumn/Winter 2015


Luxury in the

LONDON'S COOLEST NEW HOTELS Anything but traditional


5-STAR BOUTIQUE CRUISING Sophisticated yet uniquely elegant

FIJI’S CAFÉ SOCIETY The unlikely mix of urban relaxed ambience with down-to-earth Fiji style

BELLA ITALIA! Our two top properties in Italy



Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.




Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.


Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.




Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.

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Editor’s Letter As winter settles upon us it’s time to start thinking about a winter break to somewhere warm. In this issue, we showcase our Top Five Desert Retreats – places where the beauty of the stark landscape is a


Z E A L A N D ’ S







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Issue 26 Autumn/Winter 2015


key attribute of the resort, places where your mind can rest and be in awe of the scenery around you. We showcase some new and unique hotels in

Luxury in the


London, just in time for the Rugby World Cup later

Anything but traditional

this year. Then we feel the heat and excitement

Sophisticated yet uniquely elegant

of the upcoming 2015 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX as the city-state celebrates its 50 years of 1



5-STAR BOUTIQUE CRUISING FIJI’S CAFÉ SOCIETY The unlikely mix of urban relaxed ambience with down-to-earth Fiji style

BELLA ITALIA! Our two top properties in Italy


WIN AN EXCLUSIVE MARINE SKINCARE PRODUCT BY THALGO Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.


LUXURY Holidays & Corporate Travel

We stay in some of the most iconic hotels in the world including the Four Seasons Paris and Belmond’s Cipriani in Venice, the latter being the location for George Clooney’s recent wedding. While in Europe we take a cruise on Ponant’s newest boutique cruise ship, Le Soléal on a 7-day journey from Venice to Athens. More like a superyacht than a ship, the personalised service and sophisticated relaxation offers some of the best European style and elegance.

“...we introduce New Zealand’s most exciting new concept in luxury tourism...” Then we put the spotlight on Fiji’s developing café scene. Traditionally known more for cocktails than coffee, Fiji is setting high standards, and after reading about our discoveries you’ll definitely want to try some of these cafés the next time you’re holidaying in this popular getaway destination. Back home, we introduce New Zealand’s most exciting new concept in luxury tourism – Mahana Villa. This boutique lodge has been created to showcase the best of Nelson. Set in the picturesque Woollaston Winery, guests are treated to fine dining, an internationally renowned art collection and classic cars. An amazing vision for discerning guests from both New Zealand and abroad. Enjoy the read and I invite you to email me about your favourite travel experiences to mel@travelpublications.co.nz. I look forward to hearing from you. Keep relishing in what the wonderful world of travel has to offer.

Publisher: Travel Publications Limited Editorial Director: Philip Harrison Phone: +64 21 477 514 Email: phil@travelpublications.co.nz Editor: Melanie Hawkins Phone: +64 21 557 579 Email: mel@travelpublications.co.nz Features & Advertising Enquiries: Janice Burmaz Phone: +64 21 630 257 Email: janice@travelpublications.co.nz Contributors: Philip Tetley-Jones Stuart Walker Toni Gillan

Janice Burmaz Jackie O’Fee Stewart Bell

Creative Director: James Rangihika Designers: Kendal Baker Erin Clarke Contact Details: PO Box 559, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140, New Zealand Phone: 0800 758 759 Fax: +64 9 300 7511 Website: www.luxurymagazine.co.nz ISSN: 1178-2382 Our preferred retail travel partner is United Travel. www.unitedtravel.co.nz

Melanie Hawkins Editor, LUXURY Holidays & Corporate Travel Congratulations to Melanie Harrison (NZ), the lucky winner of a stunning three-night stay for two Le Taha’a resort in Tahiti. Enjoy!

Although we endeavour to provide the highest level of quality in our content, the views and opinions contained within this magazine have been obtained from independent sources, and Travel Publications Limited explicitly disclaims any responsibility for the accuracy, content or availability of the information. Digital version available from www.zinio.co.nz


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heaven is on the left,

Fiji is on the right. In Fiji, luxury is often found where other travellers aren’t, along with world-class accommodation and cuisine, stunning natural beauty, and unwavering happiness. The only thing that is missing is you. Find out more at www.fiji.travel



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110 68 Cover Story 38 Top 5 Desert Retreats

Features 22

Anything But Traditional London’s New Hotels

58 Fiji’s Café Society 66 Ora Salmon 68 Mahana Villa, Nelson 72

Luxury Cruising Aboard Ponant


Hidden Treasures of the Danube


Hotel Spotlight

30 24

94 Aboard Belmond’s Hiram Bingham 104 Tranquil Sophistication in Central Vietnam

In Every Issue 10 Review 12

Luxury Preview


Style File

100 24 Hours in - Lima 108 Travel Accessories 110 Foreign Exchanges - Portugal

Property Reviews


30 Four Seasons Park Lane, London 34 Four Seasons George V, Paris 50

Belmond Villa San Michele, Florence

54 Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice


84 Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou 88 QT Hotel, Gold Coast

Airline Reviews 93

Virgin Australia Business Class

102 LAN Premium Business Class


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Review: Autumn/Winter 2015 Check out these great events happening over the next few months. Ranging from fireworks and football to some of the biggest international events of the year, you’re sure to find something here of interest.

Ironman World Championship, Hawai’i Nicknamed Honu, in honour of the Hawaiian green sea turtle, the IRONMAN 70.3 Hawai’i offers a stunning venue for this gruelling event. Athletes can look out for spinner dolphins and resident honu during their ocean swim. The cycle takes them through black lava fields and green pastures, while the run is along the historic Ala Loa Foot Trail. 10 October 2015 www.ironman.com

The Rugby World Cup 2015, England For rugby playing nations, this is the sport’s highest honour, where the best 20 teams battle it out to take the world title. An event not to be missed, whether in person or on screen, games will be played at 13 locations across England over 44 days. The stage will be set for excellent sporting action, sightseeing and numerous festivities during the competition. 18 September - 31 October 2015 www.rugbyworldcup.com

Heiva, Tahiti A colourful festival and iconic event, Heiva Tahiti has become the symbol of the Polynesian culture for people to celebrate and be proud of their heritage. There are a number of events including fire-walking, dance, singing, sporting events and special ceremonies.

Held every four years since 1963, the Netball World Cup is the pinnacle event for the international game. This year, 16 netball nations will descend on Sydney for the competition that will be held over 10 days. A dynamic event, where teams go head-to-head to win the ultimate title.

1 - 31 July 2015 www.tahitinow.com.au/heiva

7 - 16 August 2015 www.nwc2015.com.au

27th Macau International Fireworks Display Contest, Macau In this internationally acclaimed fireworks event, spectators watch the night sky over Macau in wonder. Witness the spectacle as ten teams compete with dazzling displays to obtain the sought after contest title. 5,12,19,27 September & 1 October 2015 www.fireworks.macautourism.gov.mo


Netball World Cup, Sydney

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Luxury Preview Earn more Airpoints with Bayleys and Audi

Boutique luxury in St Mary’s Bay, Auckland There’s a growing trend towards private residences as the most luxurious and exclusive class of accommodation. Now this trend has reached New Zealand’s most international city, Auckland, with the opening of a superb new venue for luxurious business and leisure stays. St Mary’s Residence is a designer retreat in an upmarket precinct near the CBD. It offers stellar views of the Waitemata Harbour and Harbour Bridge from its exquisitely furnished rooms and outdoor terraces. Up to four guests can be accommodated amid chic and stylish décor, including a European-style kitchen and a master suite that features a stunning limestone bathroom and private lounge, bar and rooftop terrace.

Now you can get Air New Zealand Airpoints on the house with Bayleys Real Estate and drive your total higher with Audi. The partnership with Bayleys means Airpoints members can earn 1 Airpoints Dollar for every $2000 of their property’s sale value, up to a total of 500. At the same time, purchasing a new or used Audi from any of Audi’s nine authorised dealers will earn a minimum of 400 Airpoints Dollars with

A driver service is available for premium airport transfers, shopping expeditions and excursions. There’s also a dedicated lifestyle concierge on hand to provide insider tips and arrange any desired activities and experiences. www.stmarysresidence.co.nz

an Audi A1 – and as much as 1000 Airpoints Dollars if you drive away in the top-of-the-line R8. Air New Zealand Airpoints have proven their popularity over the years, with no fewer than 1.8 million members signed up to the loyalty programme. With two new sources of Airpoints Dollars coming

Big is good at the Grand Hyatt Incheon With the completion of a brand new West Tower, Hyatt Regency Incheon located close to Seoul’s international airport has been rebranded as Grand Hyatt Incheon. It’s the 41st property to join the Grand Hyatt family and at 1022 guest rooms, the largest Hyatt outside North America.

on stream, members will find it even easier to turn their spending into travel. www.airnewzealand.co.nz/airpoints

New arrivals at Auckland Airport Duty Free From 1 July 2015 you’ll notice two new names in the duty-free precinct of New Zealand’s largest international airport.

But size is pointless without quality – and it’s here that Grand Hyatt Incheon impresses.

LS Travel Retail Pacific and Aer Rianta

The dramatic, wave-shaped West Tower was inspired by the ocean and flowing water, and

International will be the new names

constructed in an environmentally responsible fashion to achieve Gold LEED (Leadership in

on your duty-free bags, delivering a

Energy and Environmental Design) certification. Sweeping, wave-shaped arches in marble

shopping experience that’s world-class

and limestone greet guests in the lobby, while an arresting chandelier above the grand

and innovative.

staircase – arising from the basement, through the lobby and up to the second floor – evokes


bubbles rising from a seabed. The well-appointed guestrooms include 43 suites and 31


residences. www.incheon.grand.hyatt.com


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Luxury Preview Luxury on the edge of Middle Earth Planning a trip to Queenstown but want to stay somewhere private and discrete? Then

Your new VIP lounge in Santiago

head towards Glenorchy and after an easy 45-minute drive you’ll find Wyuna House, set in

If you’re heading to South America,

a stunning part of New Zealand that has caught the attention of international film makers.

consider routing your journey through

Designed to make the most of the magnificent scenery, this four bedroom, five bathroom

Santiago, Chile. LAN and TAM Airlines,

executive property occupies the prime central ridge line position within the private gated

members of LATAM Airlines Group,

community of Wyuna Preserve.

have just inaugurated the largest VIP lounge in South America. The lounge is located on the fourth and fifth floors of the western sector of Santiago’s international airport, with direct access from the LAN and TAM preferential check-in area.

Clad in local schist and cedar with timber floors, walls and ceilings, the commanding 547sqm property has a warm lodge feel. Each bedroom is situated within its own separate pavilion, anchored around a central courtyard with an outdoor fireplace and breathtaking views. An entertainer’s dream, with a massive well-equipped kitchen and multiple indoor and outdoor areas to relax in, depending on the season. Local creators of fine experiences, Touch of Spice, can assist with anything from organising a private chef for the evening

The lounge stretches over 7,000sqm

or stocking the pantry for your arrival to organising a golf afternoon or scenic helicopter

and accommodates 460 people with

trip. Wyuna House is one of the luxury properties from the Touch of Spice portfolio.

high-end service and comfort. It


features restful and relaxing spaces, individual rest-rooms, showers, laundry and shoe-shining services, a sleeping room, chaise lounges for relaxation,

Cunard’s three queens get together

a business centre, entertainment and

In our last issue we wrote about the way Cunard is harking back to the grand age of cruising by bringing together its three monarchs – the Queen Victoria, the Queen Mary 2 and the Queen Elizabeth – for a season of celebrations. Now, as the northern summer approaches, we can see what a success this promotion has been in Britain.

video game zone, unique culinary offerings and an excellent selection of wines. The décor features natural materials, such as marble, onyx and leather, with colours and details that represent South America. Furthermore, the environment features ample natural lighting and a unique view of the airport. www.lan.com

To mark Cunard’s 175th anniversary celebrations, the company arranged for the three cruise ships to gather in the Solent off England’s south coast on 4 May 2015 for an unprecedented procession up the waterway to the port of Southampton. The spectacle was repeated on the Mersey a few weeks later, when hundreds of thousands of spectators gathered to welcome these iconic ships. www.cunardline.com.au

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Luxury Preview Sydney’s stunning Langham

Experience la belle époque at La Réserve Paris Hotel & Spa If there’s any place where a grand, traditional style of furnishing and service seems appropriate, it’s Paris. The city is practically built on gilded classicism, so when you visit, it’s natural to hanker for a taste of the grand tradition. It’s a taste you can now indulge to the full at one of Paris’s most gorgeous new hotels.

Since recently re-opening its doors, The Langham Sydney has set new benchmarks for opulence, service and design.


“Sydney is a glamorous city, like Paris or


New York, and we wanted to cater to


people who are aspirational about these

The new La Réserve Paris Hotel & Spa occupies a Haussmann-era mansion previously

style of cities without the experience

owned by Pierre Cardin, just off the Champs-Elysées at 42 Avenue Gabriel. The 8th

being intimidating,” says General

Arrondissement location is a cobblestone’s throw from the Palais d’Elysée and Place de la

Manager Sonia Lefevre. “Mixology with

Concorde, with views of the Eiffel Tower, Grand Palais, Pantheon and the Luxor Obelisk.

jazz after 5pm, the biggest guestrooms

La Réserve Paris is a serene escape from the bustle of France’s capital city. Décor in the 26

and suites in Sydney, gastronomical

spacious suites (including four Presidential Suites) and 14 rooms pays homage to the style

cocktails at the click of a finger, dog-

of the Belle Époque. The large rooms feature period antique furniture, rich fabrics, regal

friendly suites, private butler tennis

colours, and muted lighting.

afternoons – lots of unique offerings.”

Some of that opulence includes the $1 million Sotheby’s art collection on the walls of the public spaces. Further luxury touches include Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood, a global initiative and brand partnership for Langham Hotels & Resorts, which sees two classic luxury brands celebrating the art of afternoon

The exclusive spaces beyond the rooms and suites include facilities such as a private lounge,

tea in Langham Sydney’s new palatial

bar, courtyard, smoking parlour, library. And because you’re in France, particular attention

afternoon tea space – Palm Court.

has been paid to the cuisine. The seasonal French restaurant Le Gabriel is helmed by



Jérôme Banctel, former Chef du Cuisine of Senderens, with two-Michelin stars to his name. www.lareserve-paris.com

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See Europe like you never imagined Experiencing Europe with APT really is something else. Because only with APT can you board the world’s most awarded, all-inclusive luxury Europe River Cruise. Where absolutely everything down to the last detail is taken care of so that you can lose yourself in the moment. It truly is unforgettable. INCLUDED

– Exclusive royal experiences on selected cruises:

• NEW! Unforgettable day trip aboard the Majestic Imperator Train • Private tour and a lavish banquet at Germany’s Namedy Castle • Classical concert featuring Mozart Boys Choir members at Vienna City Palace INCLUDED

– All onboard meals and beverages, tipping, transfers, WIFI and port charges


– Freedom of Choice inclusions and APT’s exclusive Signature Experiences

FLY FREE TO EUROPE* Magnificent Europe River Cruise. 15 Days from $8,775* pp, twin share. ORDER YOUR FREE BROCHURE & DVD TODAY

Call United Travel on 0800 730 830

*Conditions apply. Prices are per person (pp) twin share. Prices are correct as at 29 April 2015 but may fluctuate if surcharges, fees, taxes or currency change. Prices based on EUMC15: 12 November 2015 (Cat. E). Prices include port charges. ALL OFFERS: All offers are valid until 31 May 2015, unless sold out prior. Subject to availability, not combinable, available on new bookings only and may be withdrawn at any time. A limited number of offers are available on selected itineraries and departures. A non-refundable deposit of $3,000 per person is due within 7 days. Final payment is due 100 days prior to departure. Flights must be booked by APT. Airfares are valid departing AKL/CHC/WLG. Subject to availability of airline and booking class. FLY FREE: Includes air taxes to the value of $250 pp. Fly Free offer valid on a selection of cruise/tours departing in 2015. Available all year round on selected departures in suite Category E & D. Available in all other suite categories for departures in March and October to December 2015. Flights are in economy class with Singapore Airlines (or an airline of APT’s choosing). Australian Pacific Touring Pty Ltd ABN 44 004 684 619. APT2415. 15-6662/0415.


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Luxury Preview Aman Tokyo – the first city property from a leader in luxury

Luxury villas in Koh Samui Ask for them by name – Villa 28 and Villa 30 at Samujana, a stunning retreat on the northeastern coast of Thailand’s Koh Samui. Their new additions join a cluster of contemporary villas that are all set into the hillside with commanding views and private infinity-edged pools.

Aman resorts occupy some of the most breathtaking locations around the world, with a particular knack for combining world-class design with the authentic flavour of each destination. The new Aman Tokyo is a triumph of Japanese style in one of the capital’s most prestigious locations. The hotel cleverly reveals itself through a series of unique design elements, blending a mix of traditional Japanese design with contemporary flair. Playing with an abundance of daylight, classic Japanese materials such as camphor wood, Washi paper and stone are fused with modern technology and a variety of fabrics and textures to create a subtle interplay of shadow and light.

The new villas are certainly spacious at 1600 and 1802sqm in size, each with not one but two fully-equipped kitchens, a state-of-the-art cinema and private gym. Designed for holidaying groups, guests can either enjoy their own company within the privacy of their villa or make use of Samujana’s fleet of sailing and motorboats.

Meticulously designed for both leisure and business travellers, Aman Tokyo’s 84 rooms and suites are spacious and modern, drawing inspiration from the Japanese aesthetic. Each room and suite has a large furo, a deep soaking tub that is a core part of the Japanese ritual of bathing. But perhaps the most impressive aspect of the property is its inner garden. Celebrating the

Dining is an experience as well. With

creative tradition of Japan is the prominent Ikebana, an art form in which living branches,

on-site private chefs rather than a

leaves and blossoms are arranged to represent a closeness with nature. This sits atop a

resort restaurant to cook for you, or

calming water feature and is complemented by two traditional Japanese rock gardens.

alternatively have local cuisine delivered

Designed to reflect the feeling of Zen, the rock gardens are minimal in design and intended

to your villa or fire up the poolside BBQ,

to calm the mind, drawing it away from everyday concerns towards an appreciation for

if you feel so inclined.

nature in the raw. www.amanresorts.com


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Luxury Preview Business (almost) as usual in Vanuatu

Vomo’s villas wow guests We’re serious fans of Vomo Resort, one of Fiji’s top boutique destinations on its own private island. It has an unrivalled reputation for Pacific-style luxury, but the Vomo management team aren’t resting on their laurels. The Resort’s Hillside and Beachfront Villas have just undergone an extensive refurbishment to raise the bar even higher. Villas have been completely gutted and transformed with new bathrooms that feature freestanding bathtubs and ultra-spacious showers. Bedrooms now also have Dynasty Heavenly Beds and sustainable teak furnishings made exclusively for the resort. Most of the fittings were handmade by a variety of local and international artisans.

After the devastation wrought by Cyclone Pam, we’re pleased to report that all but one of the properties reviewed in our last issue are up and running again. Eratap Beach Resort, The Terraces, Ratua Private Island, Warwick Le Lagon Resort & Spa, and Villa 25 have all re-opened in time for the high season influx. The exception is The Havannah, which is due to re-open 27 July 2015.

The signature Rocks Bar also has a new look, featuring a teak deck, bar and luxurious daybeds to enjoy the Fijian sunset with cocktail in hand. In May 2015, the Rocks Bar launched dinner service with an outdoor show kitchen offering an eclectic array of grilled specialties. This complements a new half million-dollar kitchen in the Reef Restaurant. Chef Erwin Joven now has an even more impressive stage on which to deliver his all-inclusive culinary experience. www.vomofiji.com

Now might be the time to consider booking that winter escape to the warm and friendly islands of Vanuatu. The people and businesses there will certainly appreciate your support after coping with a massive clean-up and rebuilding operation in the wake of the cyclone. By booking a holiday in one of Vanuatu’s many excellent hotels and resorts, you’ll be doing them a good turn – and we’re sure you’ll enjoy a heartfelt welcome! www.vanuatu.travel


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Luxury Preview Much ado about Mauritius The Indian Ocean island is a little off the beaten track for tourists from this part of the

A new style of food for events

world, but it’s a destination well worth seeking out. And now the arrival of the Shangri-La brand is set to make Mauritius even more appealing.

SKYCITY Auckland recognised that their ‘pop-up’ restaurants in the Located on the east coast of Mauritius in one of the island’s most spectacular bays, the

Federal Street dining hub have been

five-star Shangri-La Le Touessrok Resort has three villas and 200 sea-facing guest-rooms

incredibly popular, so why not apply this

and suites. Along with extensive water and land-based activities, it offers guests access

model to their catering services.

to Ilot Mangenie, a private, secluded isle with 3.5km of pristine beach. The resort is also

So, they created The Kitchen c/o

located within five minutes of Ile aux Cerfs, where the 18-hole, par 72 championship golf

SKYCITY. Under Executive Chef Andrew

course designed by Bernhard Langer is located.

Methven, you might come across his

Shangri-La’s Le Touessrok Resort & Spa will be the second property in the brand’s growing portfolio of extraordinary five-star resorts in the Indian Ocean, joining Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort & Spa, Maldives – one of the world’s leading luxury resorts – and preceding the highly anticipated opening of Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa, Sri Lanka in 2016. www.shangri-la.com

team’s inspired food at high profile events coming up. The creations from their new brand were sampled recently at the Volvo Ocean Race Village in The Heineken Yacht Club and Stoneleigh Bar in the Viaduct and also at Auckland Cup Week.

Ultra luxe cruising in the Marlborough Sounds The timeless 21-metre launch, MV Tarquin, is originally of 1960s vintage but has been carefully restored to a premium standard. Original woodwork and modern furnishings combine to make a truly unique experience. Now available for day cruises, as well as overnight stays, it features three ensuited private cabins. Based in the stunning Marlborough Sounds, Tarquin enables guests the chance to explore the beautiful top of the South Island and beyond, accompanied by their own chef and private crew. www.tarquincruises.co.nz

The Kitchen also works with Federal Street restaurateurs like Nic Watt, Peter Gordon and Sean Connolly to help design the pop-up menus for these big events. The overall result is that people are getting a much higher level food experience and relishing it. www.skycityauckland.co.nz

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Luxury Preview Luxury rail arrives in Ireland

Crafted to perfection The Reverie Saigon has begun redefining urban opulence in Vietnam when it recently opened its doors. A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, this stunning property exudes grandeur throughout its facilities spread over 39-floors in the Times Square Building in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 1. 

 Four of Italy’s leading furniture designers – Provasi, Colombostile, Giorgetti and Visionnaire – were engaged to design the spaces, rooms and suites. The result is spectacular and the detail exquisite.

Ireland can be seen in a whole new way from August 2016 when the Belmond Grand Hibernian, the new Celtic sister to the Belmond Royal Scotsman becomes the first luxury touring train in Ireland. The first journey will be a four-night tour of the Republic of Ireland: ‘Legends and Loughs’. Travelling from Cork to Killarney, Galway and Westport – highlights include behind the scenes tour of Jameson’s Whiskey distillery, ‘kissing’ the Blarney Stone and private access to Blarney Castle Gardens. The hotel features five dining and night-life options, with restaurants ranging from Cantonese to Italian, as well as the longest bar counter in Saigon – measuring the length of a city block! A helicopter pad and fleet of premium vehicles including two limited edition Rolls-Royce Phantom Dragons, ensure your exclusive arrival or departure. www.thereveriesaigon.com

Accommodating just 40 passengers in elegant ensuite cabins, the train has observation and two dining cars from which to gaze out to the green Irish countryside. As an added touch, carriages each reflect the colours of the tartans from the county after which they are named. www.belmond.com/grandhibernian


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Luxury Preview Singapore Airlines’ new Premium Economy

Princess to sail around South America

From 26 October 2015, passengers can experience Singapore Airlines’ new Premium Economy Class when travelling from Auckland. The new cabins will be on the Airline’s Airbus A380s and Boeing 777-300ERs, in addition to the future fleet of Airbus A350s. As well as incorporating several of their Kiwi cruisers are set to salsa around South America, with Princess Cruises announcing

customers’ suggestions into the new

it will sail on its first circumnavigation of the colourful continent from Auckland on

product, each seat has a 38-inch pitch

January 15, 2017.

and offers an 8-inch recline for more

The 76-night Circle South America cruise on Sea Princess will visit 26 ports across 17 countries including Argentina, Chile, Brazil, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Uruguay.

ease and comfort. Complementing this is a sleek 13.3-inch full HD monitor, the largest in its class. Passengers

Princess Cruises Vice President Australia and New Zealand Stuart Allison says, “we know

also receive an exclusive Premium

New Zealanders love our longer trips to Asia, Hawai’i and Tahiti so we think they’ll jump at

Economy ‘Book the Cook’ menu and

the chance to immerse themselves in the colour and excitement of South America as part

Champagne throughout their flight.

of this landmark circumnavigation.” www.princess.com


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A glass window in oneand of 22stained Your ultimate luxury the Hospital Club guestrooms.

corporate travel resource.

Anything but traditional London’s coolest new hotels

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Mondrian London Rumpus Room

This September sees the biggest sporting event in Great Britain since the 2012 Olympic Games. Yes, England is hosting the Rugby World Cup 2015 – an overdue return of the oval ball code to the land of its birth. Teams from Uruguay to the USA – not to mention the perennial giants of Australia, South Africa and New Zealand – will be heading to the UK to do battle. Joining them will be hundreds of thousands of passionate supporters. So where will all these fans be staying? The hotel chains of Great Britain are gearing up for an influx, and no doubt the Bed & Breakfast trade is hoping for a windfall too. But for those seeking something a different, we’ve put together a shortlist of some new and distinctly untraditional hotels. Of course, you don’t have to be a rugby fan to book a UK holiday this year. Some might even suggest going before the tournament kicks off, or after it finishes, in order to avoid the crowds. Whether you’re looking to browse the department stores of Knightsbridge, tour the highlands of Scotland or make a beeline for the Saatchi Gallery, the UK has much to offer this summer. Art or sport, fashion or football – Great Britain has it all. All you have to do is choose a hotel that matches your sense of style.

The Hospital Club

Above and Below: Quirky details in The Hospital Club’s guestrooms.

Just what the doctor ordered Dave Stewart achieved stellar levels of success in the music industry as one half of the Eurythmics. One night in the 1990s, while enjoying a drink in Covent Garden with his friend Paul Allen, he spotted a boarded-up building. “That would make a great club for creative people,” the musician said. And thus was born The Hospital Club. Fast forward to 2015. The Hospital Club has expanded on Dave and Paul’s original vision by adding 15 unique rooms. Much more than a place to rest your weary head, this boutique hotel offers a bracingly different – and very creative – take on hospitality. Each room features the work of contemporary artists, and hotel guests have full access to the facilities of the club, including the production and screening facilities, comedy nights and mixology classes. There’s a cocktail trolley at 7pm and even something called an erotic mini bar, by Holloway Smith Noir. The bedrooms are fitted out with leather, velvets, warm woods and stained glass. The location is unbeatable – in the heart of the West End – and the ambience is arty. This is not your average hotel.

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This image: Mondrian London lobby Below: Guestroom at The Hospital Club Right: Spa at Mondrian Mondrian London


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Mondrian London Thinking inside the box London cabbies have traditionally baulked at going “south of the river.” That’s a pity, because one of London’s most stylish new hotels can be found a stone’s throw from the heart of the City, on the southern bank of the Thames. It’s called Mondrian London and you should insist on being taken there. It’s that good. Situated in the famed Sea Containers building, Mondrian London offers river view balcony suites directly facing the Thames. Working with renowned British Designer Tom Dixon, the Morgan Hotel Group has captured the essence of the original building. It exudes 1920s cruise ship glamour integrated with the modern twists the Mondrian brand is famous for. A giant copper-clad wall, inspired by the hull of a ship, runs from outside the building, through the lobby and onto the river side of the hotel. It’s a stylish feature that somehow contrives to be up-to-date while reflecting the Southbank’s eclectic and historic vibe. Mondrian London makes the most of its riverside location, with outdoor seating along the river walk and an iconic green marble cocktail bar that offers dramatic views of The Thames. Perhaps the most glamorous space is the rooftop Rumpus Room with its glass box structure and outdoor terrace. What better location in which to enjoy a cocktail or a cold pint after watching the World Cup Final at Twickenham?


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The Laslett Your Notting Hill hideaway Notting Hill must be the spiritual home of the boutique hotel. The Victorian town-house architecture suggests timeless comfort while the funky influence of bohemia still haunts the local streets. You half expect to bump into Kate Moss or Johnny Depp in the local bars. This is a neighbourhood where cool comes as standard. Fitting right in, The Laslett Living Rooms take inspiration from Notting Hill’s boho legacy. Set across five handsome Victorian mansions on Pembridge Gardens, The Laslett is less than a minute from Notting Hill Gate tube station, which can whisk you to Oxford Street or Knightsbridge in less than 15-minutes. Portobello Market is a short stroll away, while a tempting array of bars and cutting edge dining establishments are clustered nearby. The 51 bedrooms look more like rooms in the house of an impossibly stylish friend than hotel accommodations. Modern British furniture sits alongside more personal belongings, from well-chosen books to curiosities from the local antique dealers. Smart bathrooms are filled with Neal’s Yard Remedies products while the ‘Big Bar’ in the bedroom boasts a selection of snacks, ‘help me’ remedies and drinks. Not sybaritic enough for you? Head to The Laslett’s atmospheric Henderson Bar, where award-winning chef Sally Clarke provides the comestibles.

Opposite page top: The Laslett exterior Opposite page food shots: Mondrian London This page top, centre and bottom: The Laslett

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Amaranto Bar

Four Seasons Hotel

London at Park Lane As all Monopoly players know, there are two London locations that sit in an echelon above all others. Park Lane and Mayfair – even the names sound sophisticated. Purchase one of these properties – or better still, place a hotel on one – and you can look forward to a life of affluence.

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In real life, someone has already put

112sqm, our accommodation was colossal

a hotel on Park Lane. Appropriately

by London standards, and positively

enough, it’s one of the world’s most

stupendous for this super-expensive

accomplished luxury hotel operators –

address. A marble foyer with guest toilet

the Four Seasons group. My family

leads into the suite’s dining area with a

group of two adults and two children

Nespresso machine, wet bar and nicely

was about to discover whether the

positioned desk overlooking Hyde Park.

reality of a Park Lane hotel could live

Another surprise for the kids – a banquet

up to the hypothetical splendour of the

of yummy treats and refreshments that

board game version.

had them voting this the best hotel ever.

Let’s start with the location. Park Lane

A long hallway leads to separate formal

is one of the most prestigious addresses

lounge with large gas fireplace, oversized

in London’s West End. Facing Hyde Park

Loewe flat screen TV with surround

and just a short walk from Buckingham

sound system and a comfy sofa, which

Palace, this is the epitome of upmarket

doubles as a rollaway. At the end of the

London real estate. Harrods, Harvey

hallway a sliding door reveals the suitably

Nichols and the other attractions of Knightsbridge are a short distance away. Turn in the other direction and you’ll be strolling along Piccadilly and past the discreetly luxurious (and very private) clubs of St James. Fancy some shopping? Regent’s Street and Oxford Street are just round the corner.

luxurious master suite. Think high thread-count linen, super-comfortable king-sized bed and a separate seating area with another TV. Textured silk-like and suede wallpapers bestow a subtle Asian influence, while polished walnut feature walls, plush carpeting and marble accents complete the impression

After a long and tiring journey we entered

of discreet luxury. I had the strange

the grand foyer and were immediately

sensation that I could be onboard a

impressed by the greeting we received.

super yacht – the fit-out is that good.

As with all Four Seasons properties, our children were treated as VIPs in their own right and offered a gift from a treasure chest of toys. This is a truly special touch because it shows how much Four Seasons understands family travellers. Happy kids; happy holiday.

Overall, the interior is timeless and elegant, which is the Four Seasons signature. Black furniture pieces contrast nicely with a warm palette of light colours throughout. Full-length sliding doors in both the master bedroom and lounge, plus a brace of balconies, allow plenty of

Our mission was to sample the luxury

natural light into the suite. At night, clever

of a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite. At

mood lighting creates an inviting and


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romantic ambience in the lounge with the flames of the fire flickering and dancing.

Four Seasons London at Park Lane at a glance

The marble bathroom is also very large by London standards, with double vanities, a massive rain shower and separate toilet. Beside the bathroom is a huge walk-in wardrobe that’s the size of the average hotel room. The overall feel is more like a lavish apartment than a hotel suite. You could happily settle in here for a long, relaxed stay. Much as it’s tempting to stay inside your suite and revel in the luxury, you’d be missing out on a lot if you didn’t venture out. The Four Seasons Park Lane London does its best to tempt you with two $500,000 chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce cars at your disposal. If you feel like popping down to Savile Row to be measured for a suit, or perhaps a toy-shopping extravaganza at Hamleys in Regent Street, simply summon the Rollers. Naturally, the services of the car and chauffeur are complimentary for guests. Staying in such a great location in the centre of London, you’re spoilt for choice when you feel like dining. But it would be remiss not to take advantage of the hotel’s Amaranto Italian Restaurant in its sun-filled conservatory in the private garden overlooking Park Lane. You can also undertake more strenuous activities in the gym on the top floor of the hotel, which includes the one of the best views in London. If you’ve forgotten your iPod, the gym staff will provide one that’s pre-loaded with the perfect selection of music for working out. As always, it’s the

Deluxe One Bedroom Suite.

Category: Luxury City Hotel. Suite Reviewed: Deluxe One Bedroom Suite. What’s great? The best address in London coupled with bespoke Four Seasons service is a winning combination. The Suite was beautiful and generously sized at over 100sqm. Also loved the complimentary chauffeur-driven pair of Rolls Royces at our disposal – a nice touch! What’s not so great: That I couldn’t stay longer. Editor’s tip: Splash out and book a room or suite with views out to Hyde Park. Also, you don’t have to book a spa treatment to make use of the impressive spa facilities, including steam rooms and large his and hers Jacuzzis on the tenth floor. Perfect for a wind down after a busy day shopping or exploring. Rate: From NZ$998 per room per night. From NZ$5600 per night for a Deluxe One Bedroom Suite. Website: www.fourseasons.com/london

little touches that make a big impression. Of all the international luxury chains I’ve


reviewed over the years, the Four Seasons

Suite size

group is consistently among the best. They set the standards that other luxury

Suite interior

properties aspire to, and they do it on a

Overall service level

global scale.

Food & beverage

The Four Seasons London at Park Lane is

Business needs

a worthy addition to the list, with a

Recreational facilities

world-class location, stunning room

Spa facilities

quality and an astonishing level of care in their service. It’s my new favourite home

Value for money

away from home in London. Timeless elegance at a prestigious address. Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource. 33


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Four Seasons Hotel George V, Paris Paris. Is there a more evocative destination in world travel? People have been coming here for centuries to soak up the elegance of the architecture, the historical ambience, the boulevards, the shopping and the cuisine. It’s one of those places that you think you know from its reputation – but when you arrive, it simply bowls you over. Visiting a city this stylish, you long to stay in a hotel with a reputation to match and the Four Seasons Hotel George V is that hotel. For a start, it has a location to die for. Situated in the ‘golden triangle’ of Paris, the Four Seasons is just a short walk from all the action of the Champs-Elysées. I can think of no finer base from which to venture forth for a stroll around the city or a climb up the iron steps of the Eiffel Tower. Amazing shopping and historical monuments are all around. Constructed in 1928 and restored to perfection, the hotel is a treasure trove of lovingly preserved antiques and tapestries. As a guest, your first impressions are of arriving somewhere incredibly special. You enter a spectacular marble–floored lobby with intricate mosaic detailing, rebuilt tile by tile during a major restoration. The lobby space is filled with the most lavish flower arrangements you can imagine, with purple orchids and pink hydrangeas prominent. The hotel’s flower designer (yes, they have a flower designer) explains why they go to such lengths. ”Flowers bring out the passion in people,” he says. “They exude energy, colour and light and they can lift us above the brouhaha of everyday life.” This passion and devotion to the exceptional is also apparent in the way we are treated by the staff. Right from check-in, the service met those Four Seasons standards we have experienced at other properties around the world.

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The Hotel’s service culture is formal yet unstuffy – entirely appropriate for a luxury property in a prestigious location. We asked for an extra-special itinerary and impossible-to-get reservations, and the Concierge team took it all in their stride. You sense they’ve heard it all and delivered the impossible multiple times. No request seems to be out of bounds. Our One Bedroom Deluxe Suite, at around 100sqm was massive, especially by Parisian standards. The décor was classic Louis XVI styling, complete with fine art and antiques, but with all the mod cons you could ever want. Think soft, muted colours throughout, cream panelled walls, rich leathers and sumptuous fabrics. A generous foyer with adjacent powder room leads into a capacious, luxurious lounge with thickly cushioned sofa. Sliding double doors reveal the grand master suite, with its gloriously soft king-sized bed and high thread-count linen. The bathroom is equally luxurious, clad in the finest marble, with a deep tub, and separate oversized shower. There’s a TV in the mirror, double vanities and a very spacious walk in wardrobe. The toiletries are Bulgari – what else? French doors in both our rooms ensure the suite is bathed with natural light. They open out onto the hotel’s delightful courtyard that’s planted with vibrant


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flowers. It all seems beautifully colour

retreat in the heart of the city, it offers a

co-ordinated, with cream marble and

range of sophisticated European beauty

black accents creating the impression of

treatments, so you can emerge ready

a chic, designer space.

to compete with those impossibly chic

French cuisine is one of the nation’s

Parisians. The hotel also boasts a

crowning glories, so naturally a top-class

Parisian rarity – a large-scale basement

Parisian property is going to take things

pool and Jacuzzi, plus a small but

seriously on the food and beverage

well-equipped gym.

front. Boasting views of the Hotel’s courtyard, the two-Michelin starred Le

Four Seasons George V, Paris at a glance

If you love luxury hotels, this is one you must visit at least once during your

One Bedroom Deluxe Suite.

lifetime. My expectations were high,

Category: Luxury City Hotel.

created for the Hotel and the dining room

but if anything, the Four Seasons Hotel

is dressed in grey and gold. Executive

George V, Paris exceeded them. The

Suite Reviewed: One Bedroom Deluxe Suite.

Chef Christian Le Squer presides over

Four Seasons group has established

creations such as fillet of venison with

a stellar reputation for service and

a cranberry fine mousse, and Brittany

opulence, and their Parisian property is

prawns cooked two ways and served

an absolute stand-out.

Cinq is a superlative dining experience. The tablecloths, china and silver were all

with a citrus emulsion. You’re probably not going to eat here every night, but

It’s not just about the surroundings and

why not set aside at least one evening for

the quality of the fit-out – although

some serious gastronomic exploration?

these are both outstanding. It’s about

Fancy splashing out on something special from the 40,000-bottle wine cellar? The oldest bottle in stock is a 1792 Madeira, and the most expensive is a magnum of Chateau Petrus, priced at 40,000 euros. There are many more affordable bottles

how they make you feel. Visiting Paris is always going to be a special occasion, so it’s wonderful when the staff at your hotel go the extra mile to make your stay memorable. From the concierge service to the way staff seemed to remember

too, so no need to bypass the glories of

our names and anticipate our requests,

French wine making during your stay.

nothing seemed too much trouble.

On a healthier note, Four Seasons Hotel

The Four Seasons Hotel George V,

George V, Paris is the home of the

Paris gets everything right. In a

city’s most luxurious hotel spa. A true

word, magnifique!

What’s great? Step into the flower–filled lobby and soak up the ambience of one of the world’s most prestigious hotels. The sublime service, the golden triangle location, the exquisite cuisine and the oh-so luxurious surroundings. Don’t forget a dip in the indoor pool located in the basement – a rarity in Paris. What’s not so great: Luxury at this level costs, especially in Paris, so be prepared to pay a high price for it. Editor’s tip: For a memorable Paris experience, take the advice from the expert concierge team. Splash out for the ultimate in fine dining and reserve a table at Le Cinq. Best of all, make it a family affair, as remarkably it also has a kids menu – you’ll need to book well in advance. Rate: From NZ$1810 per room per night. From NZ$4780 per night for a One Bedroom Deluxe Suite. Website: www.fourseasons.com/paris

Location Suite size Suite interior Overall service level Food & beverage Hotel pool Recreational facilities Business needs Spa facilities Value for money

C’est magnifique!

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Amangiri, Utah


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Our Top 5 Desert Retreats

Have you ever noticed how contrast sharpens the appetite? A meal never tastes better than when you’ve had the chance to become truly hungry. A long, cool drink is the ultimate luxury on a scorching day. And a green garden is unbelievably appealing when it’s situated in a harsh desert landscape.

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The creators of the world’s finest desert resorts have understood this principle. Building a beautiful resort in a stark desert setting gives them the opportunity to contrast opulence with minimalism. There’s no chance of the holiday spell being broken by a cacophony of traffic noises outside the front gate. Neither will you be faced with jam-packed streets and a row of restaurants or souvenir shops offering the same tourist specials. You’ve come here to get away – and now you can relax in splendid isolation. It helps when the scenery is as magnificent as Utah, Arabia or the Kalahari. Wake up every morning to sunshine and blue skies as far as the eye can see. Take a dip in the pool and revel in the sensual pleasure of a cool soaking, while outside the landscape is shimmering in the haze. Treat yourself to a cocktail in the shade when the sun goes down. It’s a study in contrasts and a luxury holiday like no other.


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Banyan Tree Al Wadi Wadi Khadeja, UAE Banyan Tree Al Wadi, Ras Al Khaimah, is an all-pool villa property of indulgence. The traditional mud-brick Arab-style villas are set in the eco rich Wadi Khadeja against the backdrop of the Al Hajar Mountains. A desert oasis just 85km from Dubai International Airport. The villas face out to a dedicated nature reserve where guests can watch Arabian gazelles, camels and oryxes meander or take a desert horse trek over the dunes. Other features include an 18-hole championship golf course, private access to Banyan Tree’s Ras Al Khaimah Beach and the opportunity to learn the fascinating ancient art of falconry. Known for its premium spa experience, it’s no surprise that the lavish state-of-the-art spa complex is situated over 4000sqm with stunning views out to the desert surrounds. Their innovative hydrothermal therapy, called ‘The Rainforest’ begins with a walk through a cascading water shower, followed by a number of water-themed detoxification and sense-awakening experiences.

Amangiri Utah, Arizona, USA

Opposite page top: Tswalu Tarkuni Kalahari Oposite page bottom: Banyan Tree Al Wadi Above: Banyan Tree Al Wadi villa This image: Amangiri

The 32 suites of Amangiri are located on 600 acres in Canyon Point, Southern Utah, close to the border with Arizona. This resort is truly a desert retreat, tucked into a protected valley with sweeping views towards the Grand Staircase of Escalante National Monument – a geological formation spanning eons of time. The surrounding ancient landscape sits waiting to be explored – there are numerous hiking trails – or simply gazed upon from every window or outdoor vantage point. The Spa is a vast complex of stone, water features and streams of light, offering a number of unique treatments that harness the power of the desert surrounds. Built around a central swimming pool and using natural materials, the resort blends into its dramatic environment leaving guests to immerse themselves in Aman hospitality while soaking up the beauty of the awe-inspiring setting.

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Tswalu Tarkuni Kalahari, South Africa The private residence of Tarkuni lies in the heart of the Northern Cape Province, around 560 kilometres from Johannesburg. Owned by the Oppenheimer family, Tswalu is malaria-free and South Africa’s largest private game reserve, covering an area of over 100,000 hectares. It is situated in the southern Kalahari (‘Green’ Kalahari), which due to local climatic conditions receives somewhat more rain than the central Kalahari, allowing it to support a large diversity of life. The emphasis at Tarkuni is on privacy and exclusivity – to create your own private Kalahari. Limited to 10 guests, the residence has its own dedicated team including a host and chef ensuring requirements and dining are personalised. A private vehicle, complete with personal field guide and tracker ensure an equally bespoke safari experience. Whether it’s sleeping out under the stars, exploring the Kalahari on horseback or dining with the bushveld as your backdrop, there is an extensive ‘must do’ list for guests to work their way through.


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Six Senses Zighy Bay

Six Senses Zighy Bay Oman Six Senses Zighy Bay is located on the northern Musandam Peninsula in the Sultanate of Oman. The setting is spectacular, with the dramatic Hajar Mountain Range on one side and the sandy beach of Zighy Bay on the other. The resort offers guests the opportunity for an exhilarating arrival – paragliding (as a companion passenger with their resident paragliding professional) from the top of Zighy Mountain 293-metres down to the awaiting resort below. Omani village-style villas are situated within inviting enclaves complete with private pools and colourfully cushioned living areas – a Six Senses signature look. The resort’s private marina is the gateway to a plethora of water-based activities like scuba diving, snorkelling and sunset cruises. Six Senses have long been committed to delivering integrated wellness experiences through innovative and ancient holistic treatments and programmes. Zighy Bay’s spa complex is no exception and the resort also regularly hosts visiting practitioners for guests to experience a potentially life-changing encounter.


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This image: Six Senses Zighy Bay Below both images: Umaid Bhawan Palace

Umaid Bhawan Palace Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India Perched high above the desert capital of Jodhpur, Umaid Bhawan Palace (part of the Taj Group) is one of the great palaces of India. Originally built between 1928 and 1943, for H.H. Maharaja Umaid Singh (Grandfather of the present Maharaja), it served as the principal residence of the Jodhpur royal family. Made from golden-hued sandstone, the magnificent complex was commissioned to give employment to the people of Marwar during the period’s great droughts and famines. With a vast range of opulent rooms and suites, fine dining and discreet butler service, guests will certainly get a sense of what life was like as a king or queen. There’s even the opportunity to explore the surrounding scenery seated inside a vintage car that was once owned by Indian royalty.

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Florence, Italy


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B ella Ita lia !

In many parts of the world, cities are grimly functional

well-worth a visit in its own right. Lovely Trieste, in the

destinations. Unusually for a modern country like Italy, its

north-west of Italy, may be the most gorgeous city you’ve

most famous cities have retained almost all their ancient

never heard of.

charms. Venice has been a tourist destination almost as long as it’s been a city, and still the canals and palazzos charm

Visit them for their art museums, their classical architecture

visitors with their mystique. Florence overwhelms with its art

or amazing hotels.

treasures, while there’s nothing quite like the casual mix of antiquity and Papal splendour that Rome serves up.

But don’t be surprised if the memories that linger are of a table for two in a humble trattoria or a stroll down a

Even the second-tier cities are first-rate destinations. Verona

cobbled street at dusk. We recently visited Florence and

boasts a superb Roman arena as well as the balcony where

Venice and chose Belmond hotels for both. Beautiful hotels

Juliet expressed her thoughts on Romeo. Siena is the eternal

in charming locations – captivating memories of pure

rival to Florence in the struggle for Tuscan supremacy, and

romance – and pure Italia.

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Belmond Villa San Michele Florence, Italy

It’s not unknown for people to make a pilgrimage to Tuscany simply to gaze at works of art. The northern Italian province was Ground Zero for the Renaissance, after all. What’s less common is for visitors to stare at the façade of the hotel you’re staying in. But if I tell you that the façade of the Belmond Villa San

leaves every 15-minutes so you can pop out for a spot of

Michele in Florence was created by one of the giants of the

culture any time you like. Slightly further afield are the

Renaissance, it all becomes clear. The designer was none other

beautiful towns of Siena and San Gimignano, not to mention

than Michelangelo himself. In between reinventing sculpture

the villages and vineyards of the Chianti region. You can easily

and painting, the turbulent Florentine became an early master

do as we did, and hire a car, or alternatively, ask the hotel’s

of the neo-classical architectural style that came to define

concierge to organise a private car with driver so you can

his native land. Once a monastery, the building that houses

sample the region’s fine wines with a clear conscience.

one of Florence’s most beautiful small hotels is a symphony in golden stone.

greeted warmly on arrival, as if we were being invited into

Its location on a hilltop in Fiesole, with breathtaking elevated

someone’s private residence. This style of gracious, old school

views of Florence and the Arno valley, simply adds to the

hospitality is synonymous with the Belmond brand.

appeal. If you’re a traveller looking for respite from crowded

It’s charming and entirely appropriate for an exclusive

city streets and European traffic, you won’t be disappointed.

boutique resort.

A clever restoration of the property has retained all the tranquillity of its semi-rural location, with acres of lush gardens and open space.

Our residence – one of the hotel’s Junior Suites is designed around a large open-plan area containing a king-size bed, lounge area and easily enough room to accommodate our

During my travels I’ve found that every Belmond property

two children in separate single beds. Antique furniture

typically occupies the most privileged position in its area.

complemented the original stone floors, with modern touches

The Belmond Villa San Michele is no exception. It’s subtly

such as an LED TV hidden inside a cabinet at the foot of the

integrated with the landscape, with a terraced layout that

bed. After viewing it slips back into its cabinet, so as not to

follows the curve of the hillside. Many of the suites are

infringe on the glorious scene.

chiselled into the terrain and camouflaged with vines and creepers. The whole delightful oasis is just minutes from the shops, museums and street life of Florence. A complimentary shuttle


We were looking forward to our Tuscan sojourn and were

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Speaking of vistas, it was a real bonus to have our own private terrace. We could drink in the Tuscan valley views while enjoying a glass of wine or two, or even book a private dinner by candlelight. The bathroom was another highlight, with His and

Belmond Villa San Michele Florence, Italy at a glance

Hers dedicated areas, a deep tub, and a marble shower with plenty of room for the multitude of Bulgari toiletries that Belmond lays on for its guests. Staying in the heart of Tuscany, you just know you’re going to eat well. The Belmond Villa San Michele has its own cooking school for those who wish to master pasta, but we were more in the mood to be served. La Loggia restaurant is, as you’d expect, situated in the building’s loggia. You enjoy quite remarkable views towards Florence while waiting for your meal, and when the meal arrives, the evening goes up yet another notch. If I could have sampled every classical Italian dish on the menu, I would have stayed for a fortnight. As it was, I enjoyed the best gnocchi I have ever tasted, made even better with one of the region’s loveliest red wines. During the day there are many activities to choose from, including Vespa tours and the aforementioned cooking school. A ramble around the hill towns and villages is highly recommended – ask the concierge to put together an itinerary. But it’s not a mistake if you decide to stay put. This is such a lovely place that you could enjoy the most restful holiday imaginable without leaving the premises. Special mention must go to the large outdoor pool, set in the midst of the hotel’s immaculate grounds. A rock path leads you through the layered Italian gardens until you arrive at a pool with its temperature maintained at an idyllic 26°c. We spent many relaxing hours here, enjoying the informal atmosphere and taking advantage of the opportunity for a dip. There’s also a superb little poolside bar and informal dining area, serving lunch alfresco style. What more could you ask for? Every Italophile knows that the Italians have mastered the art of living. Yes, Michelangelo and Leonardo et al will always draw the culture-loving tourists – and deservedly so. But if you want to make the most of your time on this planet, you owe it to yourself to spend some time in Tuscany, simply enjoying the good things in life. The Belmond Villa San Michele is waiting for you. It’s calling us back, too.

Executive Suite

Category: Luxury Boutique Hotel. Suite Reviewed: Executive Junior Suite. What’s great? The fabulous elevated location provides panoramic views back over the city. The privilege of space, being set amongst acres of manicured Italian gardens and yet just 15-minutes from Florence. What’s not so great: Save your washing for later, for some reason the laundry charges are eye-watering. Editor’s tip: Book a table for lunch on the 15th century terrace at La Loggia for lunch. Charming, old-school silver service matched only by the superb Tuscan inspired cuisine. A glass of local Chianti, the best gnocchi I’ve ever had and a view that I will remember forever. Without question one of the best restaurants in Florence. Rate: From NZ$1095 per room per night. From NZ$2010 per night for an Executive Junior Suite. Website: www.belmond.com/villa-san-michele-florence

Location Suite size Suite interior Overall service level Food & beverage Hotel Pool Business needs Value for money

One of Tuscany’s spectacular treasures.


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Leading Personal Stylist Jackie O’Fee from personal style consultancy, Signature Style brings us her extensive fashion knowledge and expertise.



When I think of Europe I think of Italy’s La Passigiata or an evening stroll, of riding in a Gondola through a Venetian canal or the sun on your face as you sit in a café on the shores of Lake Maggiore. Europe casts a magical spell, and when travelling there, one wants to be looking stylish and sophisticated. New Zealand designers punch well above their weight internationally, and on this page we showcase some of their latest pieces to have you fitting into Europe’s most glamorous cities.

Enjoy the sun in Andrea Moore Flash Crystal Eyewear RRP NZ$379

Karen Walker ABC Eau de Parfum from NZ$130 (50ml), NZ$175 (100ml)

Ruby Oki Coat RRP NZ$429

Stow all your travel essentials in the sophisticated Charlotte Bag (in tan) by Saben RRP NZ$489

Stay comfortable and stylish during long days of sight-seeing with Kathryn Wilson’s Yuko Hi-top RRP NZ$369

Embrace timeless European style with Moochi’s Swan Jumpsuit RRP NZ$349.99. Pair it with an elegant splash of colour - WORLD Lemon Squeezer hat RRP NZ$399 and GOOD & CO. Scarf RRP NZ$289, both available from WORLD Smashbox Cherry Smoke Photo Op Eye Shadow Palette RRP NZ$89

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For more information visit www.signaturestyle.co.nz



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Belmond Hotel Cipriani Venice Wise souls warn against returning to the scenes of former happiness. Present-day reality can never live up to the rosy memories of yesteryear – or so they say. Why spoil a perfect experience by attempting to re-live it? We had stayed at Hotel Cipriani four years ago when touring Europe as a couple. We fell in love with Venice – and the Cipriani – and now we wanted to provide our two young children with a taste of the same experience. Could we avoid the curse of the second-time visit, and give our kids some memories they too would cherish? Perhaps inevitably, the evocative history of the hotel would go over their young heads. Part of the Orient Express family of properties that were recently re-branded as Belmond, Hotel Cipriani first opened in 1958 when Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar and inventor of the legendary Bellini cocktail, decided to get into the accommodation business. Luckily, his eye for a good site was as good as his taste in cocktails. He secured a location on Giudecca Island at the heart of the tiny archipelago that makes up the city of Venice. It’s still a breathtakingly beautiful spot. Space is certainly a rarity in Venice, but here you’ll experience a serene retreat-type feel, set amongst acres of exquisite gardens dotted with ducks and rabbits, as well as a very friendly turtle rescued from the lagoon, who followed my daughter into the lobby. Another first in Venice is the outdoor pool; massive by any standards let alone here, thanks to the builders misinterpreting the original plans. Instead of constructing it to a length of 32-feet, they built it to 32-metres. But while you enjoy the luxury of space, you aren’t cut off from the attractions of Venice. The hustle and bustle of the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square is a mere five minutes away, via private luxury launch. It’s a complimentary service that ferries you in style at any time that you wish.

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Keep your eyes discreetly peeled during your stay, as you never know whom you might run into. George Clooney has been a regular over the last 15 years and can often be found behind the bar mixing cocktails – you’ll find his signature cocktail on the menu. And of all the options around the world available to him and his wife to be, they chose Belmond Hotel Cipriani for their wedding day, booking almost the entire property. Our family was booked into one of the hotel’s Exclusive Suites, and it’s fair to say that this is one of the most remarkable suites I have ever had the privilege to stay in. Like all the property’s suites, it is generously sized, with only one suite per floor. The décor is palace-like and includes a formal foyer the size of some Venice hotel rooms, leading into a huge lounge. The total effect is ornate and opulent but not crushingly so, with priceless antiques and original artworks to dazzle the eye. Fresh orchids and roses adorn the suite and Murano chandeliers hang from overheight ceilings, while polished parquet and Terrazzo floors are covered with richly detailed rugs and period furniture pieces. The luxury continues through to the separate master bedroom with its ensuite bathroom finished in beautiful Italian marble. Five full-length opening French windows with original shutters conceal another “wow” factor. Forget views out to the Venetian lagoon, this suite is actually on the lagoon. It feels as if you are on a boat – just step off the window ledge and you’ll be in the water. A romantic lagoon-side private courtyard with table and chairs completes the set-up, simply perfect with a drink in hand to watch the sunset or enjoy a leisurely breakfast. A hotel founded by a famous bar owner would be odds-on to offer superb eating and drinking facilities. The flagship Oro restaurant is helmed by Executive Chef Davide Bisetto, who creates imaginative dishes inspired by Italian traditions. His skills have earned him two Michelin Stars in France, so there’s no doubting the culinary standards on display here. Oro’s setting lives up to its cuisine, with Murano glass chandeliers, a decadent gold ceiling


and lagoon views providing the stage

a spa on the grounds. Unlike most

for a memorable dining experience. For

properties, this spa has a connection to

less formal eating and drinking there’s

one of the world’s most famous lovers.

Enoteca, which offers the ambience of

The Casanova Wellness Centre offers

a traditional Italian wine cellar. It’s the

you the chance to be pampered in the

perfect setting to sample some top Italian

gardens where Casanova once wooed the

wines paired with delicious snacks.

objects of his desire. You can unwind in

Breakfast was a particular highlight for

the steam and sauna rooms, but I suggest

our family. It’s served lagoon-side, al

you book a treatment with your partner

fresco style amongst lush gardens and

in the twin treatment room. Romance

blooming flowers. It’s a reminder that

and rejuvenation in perfect harmony.

Belmond Hotel Cipriani has the priceless asset of a prime Venetian location, and knows how to make the most of it. As with most luxury properties, there’s

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Travelling with young children, there are only so many old castles and picturesque plazas you can visit. The time comes when little people simply want to splash

Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice at a glance

Exclusive Suite

Category: Luxury City Hotel. Suite Reviewed: Exclusive Suite. What’s great? Seriously, everything. The remarkable location and acres of space, the history and legendary service, the private luxury launch transfer to the hustle and bustle of Venice, the cuisine options, the massive outdoor pool. Oh, and the suite? One of a kind and one of the most impressive I have ever had the pleasure of staying in. What’s not so great: Being really picky, the spa and gym are on the small side. Editor’s tip: One of my all-time favourite hotels, it totally deserves its title as one of the world’s great hotels. Also, pay the extra for a room or suite that overlooks the famous lagoon and book ahead for a nice table at Cip’s Club. Rate: From NZ$1220 per room per night. From NZ$5433 for an Exclusive Suite per night. Website: www.belmond.com/hotel-cipriani-venice

about in a pool or be entertained in the

jetty. Probably the world’s most famous

kid’s club. Belmond Hotel Cipriani knows

hotel employee, he has met everybody

how to look after its junior guests, and

and seen everything. You can be sure


our two loved their time in the hotel’s

he will treat you like a star too, with his

Suite size

kids’ club, complete with its own pool.

infectious charm and sense of humour.

Which brings us to that indefinable,

I feel very privileged to have stayed here

Overall service level

intangible something that can make or

and the second time with the kids in tow

Food & beverage

break a holiday: service. And I’m pleased to confirm that the service is outstanding in every way.

it was even better. The name may have been tweaked but everything else that I loved about the Cipriani has thankfully

Suite interior

Hotel pool Business needs

Many of the loyal staff have worked there

remained the same. Only a handful of

Spa facilities

for many years, and they share a real

luxury hotels fall into the category of

Value for money

connection to this property. Their attitude

“unique and unforgettable.” This is most

is exemplified by the charismatic Roberto

definitely one. If Venice is a must-visit for

who greets you as you arrive at the hotel

you, the Cipriani is a must-stay.

Venice at its best.

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Fiji’s Café Society A high-end holiday usually involves a certain amount of high-

Café O offers breakfast, lunch and coffee in a modern yet casual

end dining. There’s nothing wrong with that – a meal in one

and comfortable setting. Cherie has long aspired to opening a

of the world’s great restaurants can be a memorable moment

café with a refined culinary style and family atmosphere. If you

in anyone’s life. But luxury needn’t be limited to exquisite

love home-cooked treats with a dash of sophistication, Café O is

mouthfuls of the finest foie gras. Sometimes the luxury you

well-worth a visit.

desire is a perfectly made espresso or a freshly baked croissant. It’s times like these when you long for the relaxed ambience and down-to-earth excellence of a really good café.

Visit them at: Eden Plaza, Queens Road, Martintar, Nadi www.ocatering.co.nz/cafe-o

Fiji may not be the first name that springs to mind when


thinking of cafés. However, there’s no disputing the excellence

The name expresses the philosophy – a meld of Fiji and Italy.

of the produce and the high standards imparted by the well-

Bulaccino is what you get when you add European café style

established tourist industry. There’s now an increasing array

to the homegrown delights of Fiji. The café lives up to its name

of informal dining options in and around the major resorts,

with immaculately made espressos, cappuccinos and lattes, plus

tempting you with the quality of their food and the friendliness

an carefully designed menu based on organic produce from its

of their service. Check them out next time you’re in the islands

own farm. Expect the most delicious pineapple, avocado and

Café O Residents of Auckland’s Grey Lynn holidaying in Fiji may do a double take – their much-loved local Café O has taken root in Nadi. This represents a return to the café’s roots, as Café O is the creation of the brother/sister team of John Oyagawa and Cherie Oyagawa-Smith. The Fijian-born siblings have brought their philosophy of fresh ingredients, excellent coffee and modern Pacific cuisine back home to Nadi. You’ll find it at Café O in Eden Plaza, with a second café due to open this year in The Palms on Denarau island.


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honey, served with all its natural goodness intact. There’s also a selection of freshly baked breads and pastries, including glutenfree options. Bulaccino has proved a hit in Fiji, and the owners now operate three delightful cafés in Namak, Denarau and Suva. This familyrun business blends the best of local produce with world-class presentation and friendly service. It’s become a Fijian legend. Visit them at: Namaka (Nataly Building), Queens Road, Nadi; Garden City, Grantham Road, Suva; near Sheraton Villas, Denarau. www.bulaccino.com

Taste Fiji Kitchen Based in Martintar, Nadi, Taste Fiji Kitchen offers a tempting menu of café favourites such as pancakes, eggs benedict and fishcakes. However, there are some subtle but crucial differences. The fishcakes have a hint of coconut and are served with herb salad and Left and above: Barista making coffee at Taste Fiji Kitchen This image: Cafe O’s Sunrise Salad

pickled radish. The pancakes come with a choice of local ricotta, pineapple and Savusavu chocolate ganache. The eggs benedict are served with the classic Hollandaise sauce, as well as a choice of Moca spinach and Vuda leg ham. As you can tell, Taste Fiji Kitchen is all about combining gourmet-standard Fijian ingredients with the classic appeal of café cuisine. The chefs showcase the best of local produce and work with local suppliers to incorporate novel ingredients where feasible. For instance, the usual almond flour in gluten-free baking has been replaced with locally ground tavioka flour or breadfruit flour with desiccated coconut. The results are wholly delicious. Visit them at: Lot 1 Cawa Road, Martintar, Nadi (opposite St Mary’s School) www.tastefiji.com

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L’Epicier at Hilton Fiji

Above: Nadi Fresh Produce Market This image: Café O

Denarau needs no introduction. Fiji’s main resort island is home to some very swanky five-star hotels – and a growing number of relaxing cafés. L’ Epicier is a prime specimen. It’s the perfect place to pull up a chair and listen to the espresso machine hissing and gurgling as the barista expertly whips up your order. Supplement the caffeine hit with a side order of delicate pastries and you’re ready for another hard day on the beach. Or order a gourmet pizza and enjoy a relaxed lunch. Visit them at: Hilton Fiji Beach Resort & Spa, Denarau Island www.hiltonfijibeachresort.com

Grand Pacific Hotel Suva To experience a different side of Fiji, book a few nights in Suva’s Grand Pacific Hotel. Its history dates back to 1914 but its fit-out is totally modern. Their delightful Swiss Bakery is the place to drop into if your sweet tooth is demanding to be fed. Mouth-watering pastries and cakes, made to centuries old European recipes, will lure you towards


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the display cabinets. They take baking

Visit them at: Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa,

seriously here, as evidenced by the café’s

Denarau Island

world record-holder status for the longest


swiss roll ever baked. Even if you aren’t tackling such a gargantuan delicacy, we’re

Nadi Fresh Produce Market

sure you’ll be more than satisfied with the

It’s not a café, and it’s certainly not an

bakery fare on offer.

opulent experience, but food-lovers will

Visit them at: Grand Pacific Hotel, Victoria Parade, Suva www.grandpacifichotel.com.fj

La Parisienne at Sofitel Fiji There are four excellent restaurants to meet your alimentary needs at Sofitel Denarau. For informal French-style dining, La Parisienne ticks all the right boxes. In addition to great coffee and café-style

want to get a taste of what’s on offer in the Nadi market. Bright green chillies and nostril-tingling Indian spices are piled alongside island staples such as taro and pineapples. Kava root is one of the specialties of the market, although it may be a treat that’s best left to the locals to prepare and serve. More familiar favourites, such as pumpkins and beans lend a touch of homeliness.

breakfasts and lunches, La Parisienne

One thing is certain: there are no

offers a delicatessen for those times when

middlemen here. You’re buying produce

you fancy a bit of self-catering. A Fiji

from the people who grew it. It doesn’t

holiday should be all about relaxation, and

get much fresher than that.

this resort’s café gets the balance right between European sophistication and laidback Fijian style.

Visit the market at: Hospital Road, Downtown Nadi

Above: Bulaccino This image: La Parisienne.

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Flavours of Fiji Cooking School Attending a cooking class has become one of the mainstays of a luxury holiday. Some even go so far as to make a cooking school the entire focus of their break. Millions of hours annually are spent stirring ragu in Tuscany and chopping coriander in Southeast Asia. And now Fiji has entered the cookery class game, with a firstrate cooking school on Denarau. Flavours of Fiji gives you a unique opportunity to explore the diverse flavours of this island nation. With its mix of traditional Fijian ingredients and the spicier offerings of the Indo-Fijian population, there’s certainly a foundation for some interesting culinary explorations. The School offers half-day cooking classes in a range of styles, including Fijian Feasts, Indian Thali and Tropical Sweets. There’s even a Kids’ Kitchen class for the budding Masterchef in your family. The amenities and equipment are first-rate, with individual cooking stations in a large air-conditioned facility. Using fresh seasonal produce to create island favourites, the chefs share their traditional techniques, reveal clever tips and give you all the guidance you need to re-create the dish they’re showcasing. Classes are limited to 12 people at the most, so you’ll never feel lost in the crowd. And of course, you get to enjoy a gourmet meal with refreshments at the end, before going back home with a new set of recipes to add to your repertoire. Visit them at: No.5 Denarau Industrial Park, Denarau Island www.flavoursoffiji.com


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Tropical Transfers For most of us, a holiday in Fiji is all about total relaxation.

lunch and Champagne to enjoy after exploring the untouched

Warm sunny days spent lazing by the pool or beach in between

beaches or protected tropical reef.

dining and cocktails. However, if you need a change of scene, you might want think about either a gourmet island lunch experience on a private island or an aerial tour of the islands, coral reefs and mountain ranges. Island Hoppers have been offering Airport to Resort private transfers for over 35 years using both their helicopters and fixed wing aircraft. They also offer day trips and tours, with

Another way of getting to and from the island resorts is via a Mamanuca Express water taxi. They also provide exclusive charters customised to what you may feel like doing – whether it be island hopping, heading to a secluded bay for snorkelling and delicious picnic or a day of fishing. Departures are from Port Denarau Marina to most resorts and islands within the Mamanuca and Yasawa groups.

their premium package having you delivered by helicopter

So, something to think about for your next Fiji getaway – when

to the idyllic Yadua Islet, with its sandy shores, clear water

you feel like visiting somewhere new while treating yourself to

and absolute privacy. You’ll be left with a divine three-course

some well-deserved rest and relaxation.

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maximise your

Island Time

Island Hoppers offers seamless transfers from Nadi Airport or Denarau to the Mamanuca Island Resorts, Coral Coast and beyond to make your island time easy and stress-free. Our Scenic Flights are a great way to see a different view of Fiji. Contact us now!


sales@islandsalesfiji.com | 679 672 0410 | www.helicopters.com.fj

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Turtle Island The ‘Blue Lagoon’ island lures you back If you remember a young Brooke Shields playing the part

paddle boarding or wind surfing, or head below the waves on

of a teenage castaway, you’ve glimpsed Turtle Island. This

a snorkelling or scuba diving adventure. When the sun goes

impossibly idyllic isle in Fiji’s Yasawa group was the setting for

down, the candles are lit and a dinner party is held at a range

The Blue Lagoon movie back in 1980.

of locations around the island – from the tip of Mt Ford to the

The film was a global smash, and the location where it was filmed has done pretty well too. It’s the site of one of Fiji’s most exclusive resorts, a private island with 14 Bures and 14

middle of a beach. The Champagne and conversation flows while you enjoy Pacific Rim cuisine and fresh produce from the resort’s own gardens.

beaches. That’s right – there’s a beach for every couple. It may

All this suggests a romantic paradise for couples, and it’s true

be a boutique-sized offshore resort but you’re never going to

Turtle Island is reserved for couples, apart from a few periods

feel crowded.

during the year when family bookings are taken. The natural

Getting there is easy. Turtle Island provides a private transfer service from Nadi Airport as well as seaplane transfer. Once you’re there you can put away your wallet because everything’s included. Go horse riding or sea kayaking, try your hand at

beauty of the setting is picture-perfect for an intimate holiday à deux. Add a few sessions at the island’s Vonu Spa, with its frangipani fragrances and traditional Fijian bolo healing massage, and you’ll return home rejuvenated and ready for anything. Turtle Island has put together an exclusive Winter Escape package to lure you in. Don’t miss this opportunity to experience the romance and luxury of The Blue Lagoon. Chances are you’ll be back – over 60% of all guests return for a second stay.

Winter Escape Package • Five nights accommodation in one of their beautiful Grand Beachfront Bures. • Return seaplane transfers. • 2x Luxury 30-minute massages in Vonu Spa. • Daily breakfast, lunch and dinner and alcohol (including Champagne by the bottle).

• Guided snorkelling or horseback riding excursion. • Complimentary laundry service and ‘Bure Mama’ or private butler service. Minimum stay five nights. Travel 28 July - 31 August 2015. Visit: www.turtlefiji.com.

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Story: James Rangihika

The ‘Wagyu’ of Salmon Salmon is one of my top five foods.

where they are nurtured and cultivated.

such a pristine environment and is treated

I simply love salmon. When I heard that

All of this effort is paid off in the final

with the utmost respect, the end result

there was a New Zealand company, Ora

product, which is carefully hand-cut

will always be fantastic. Ora King salmon

King, that claimed to produce the world’s

and packed prior to delivery.

is that kind of product. It makes my job

finest, I knew I had to find out more.

You can’t buy Ora King salmon at your

Their pitch is simple, they make the

local fish shop, but you can experience

Wagyu equivalent of salmon. It’s a pretty

it at many fine New Zealand and

big claim, for Wagyu achieved its superior

international restaurants. It has been

flavour by having a much higher fat

developed specifically for the food service

content. During the cooking process the

industry with a strong commitment to

fat is rendered and enhances the flavour

premium quality.

and texture of the meat. Ora King salmon works in a similar way. Combining the freshest product with a number of unique processes creates what they call ‘culinary excellence’. The water they use at the salmon hatchery is from Waiparapupu Springs, known as one of the purest water sources in the world. The purity of the product continues to the fish. Each salmon can even be traced back up to five

Recently I had the opportunity to sample Ora King salmon onboard the luxury yacht, The Yonder Star while cruising the beautiful Tasman Bay. Matt Lambert shared the galley kitchen with chef Shaun Clouston from the award winning Logan

Some of the world’s most renowned

Brown Restaurant in Wellington. Together

chefs only serve Ora King salmon for its

they cooked up a gourmet salmon lunch

superior texture, colour and flavour.

and after sampling it, I have to agree, Ora King salmon is definitely superior.

Matt Lambert, chef and owner of the The Musket Room in New York is a fine example of a home grown Kiwi export. Matt’s busy Manhattan restaurant boasts modern New Zealand cuisine and Matt is a devotee of Ora King salmon. He comments, “when a product comes from

generations through genealogy. The colour, size and superior oil content of the salmon is carefully controlled to achieve an incredible consistency. The fish are released into the Marlborough Sounds


easier and more enjoyable.“

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mahana villa Creating the ultimate luxury lodge

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What ingredients would you assemble if you were putting together the perfect upmarket retreat? You’d start with the setting. Rural Nelson, specifically the rolling hills of the Upper Moutere, would be a strong candidate. It’s a real suntrap, with undulating ranks of grapevines in the foreground and hazy hills providing the backdrop. Views of Tasman Bay and snowcapped Mt Arthur would be a welcome bonus. Your next ingredient might be wine. A luxury lodge in the heart of a working vineyard is a concept with wide appeal. So let’s include a vineyard that’s famous for its Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Noir, Pinot Gris and Riesling. While we’re at it, let’s make the winery a leader in sustainable wine making, with full organic certification of both vineyards and winery. But luxury lodges need an ‘X’ factor – something that sets them apart from the competition. Here’s an idea. Add an internationally renowned art collection. Imagine if your lodge were home to artworks by names such as Yayoi Kusuma, Donald Judd, Richard Long and Jenny Holzer. Add some Kiwi icons – Shane Cotton, Peter Robinson, Milan


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Mrkusich and Gordon Walters. Populate the walls with paintings,

there’s anything else guests wish to arrange – from fly fishing to

and add some stunning sculptural pieces to the grounds for

helicopter flights – Glenn and his team will use their concierge

good measure.

services to make it happen.

What have we missed? Fine food is a must. So let’s add a

At the same time, Mahana Villa is undergoing a transformation

cellar door restaurant in the winery and a resident chef who’s

that should lift it even higher in the luxury rankings. Seven

passionate about the local seafood, meat, produce and herbs.

additional accommodations are being added to the property.

Organise some visiting chefs with rockstar reputations, to add

These will be available for booking from late 2016.

the “X” factor. Then think about what the guests might like to do with their spare time. A spot of touring would be fun. So why don’t we pack the garage with classic cars – a 1962 T-bird, Lamborghinis, Ferraris and a bright yellow Lotus. Make them available for guests to use. That should be fun.

Now you’ve read to the end of the article, there’s a reward for your diligence. Mahana Villa is road-testing its unique art, wine and fine living package. If you fancy a stay in this beautiful Nelson lodge with its inspiring offering then get in touch with them to book a short break.

Are you liking the sound of this hypothetical resort? If you haven’t guessed already, we’re talking about one of New Zealand’s most exciting new concepts in luxury tourism – Mahana Villa.

Special offer to LUXURY readers

This boutique lodge has been created to showcase the best

Glenn and his team are working towards a major

of Nelson to an exclusive clientele of overseas visitors and art-

relaunch in late 2016, and they want to make sure

loving New Zealanders. It’s a reality, and the reality is amazing.

everything’s fine-tuned to perfection. They are keen

Owner Glenn Schaeffer (who doubles as the Art Curator) explained his vision to LUXURY. It’s about offering the best of New Zealand wine, food, culture and accommodation to people who want to enjoy a unique experience. To this end, Glenn has incorporated the acclaimed Woollaston Winery with its superbly designed residence. Mahana Villa is available now for a limited number of guests, who can rent the main villa with its four ensuite bedrooms, or opt for the two-bedroom loft or one-bedroom super-suite. The winery,

to host discerning guests over the next year – the sort of people who can give intelligent feedback and help them refine their offering. In return, they’re offering a substantial discount. So if you would like to experience a world-class holiday in one of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations, surrounded by the most amazing art and enjoying refined wine and food, then get in touch. Book now via www.mahanavilla.com and say that LUXURY magazine sent you.

fine dining, art and classic cars come with the package. If

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Story: Phil Harrison.

5-star Boutique Cruising Le Ponant Cruises I’ve never been a huge fan of the mega cruise ship. For me, a superyacht, on the other hand, is something to aspire to. Instead of mass produced food, long queues and an itinerary that limits you to large ports, on a superyacht, you can luxuriate in stylish dining, personalised service, sophisticated relaxation and access to some more of the smaller ports and harbours. That’s why I spent a long time researching the options before booking a Mediterranean cruise for my family of four. I was hoping to find a cruise line that specialised in boutique luxury. Something with a superyacht feel rather than a floating skyscraper. My investigations led me to Ponant Yacht Cruises & Expeditions, purveyors of luxury cruises with the accent on exclusivity. It’s a French company, so my thinking was that they would be more than competent in the food, drink and savoir-faire departments. Another point in Ponant’s favour was the itineraries: worldwide in scope but with a bias towards some little visited towns and islands.

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And so we found ourselves on Ponant’s

it beautifully appointed, but it was also

for space with thousands, the kitchen

newest boutique cruise ship, Le Soléal.

cleverly laid out to maximise the living

could concentrate on delivering superb

Having boarded in Venice, we were

areas. There was a large wardrobe and

quality rather than quantity.

looking forward to seven nights exploring

drawer space to store all our belongings.

the Adriatic islands and Greek coastline.

The glass walled bathroom was a real

An enticing prospect indeed.

showstopper – open to the ocean views

Le Soléal was launched in July 2013, so it still feels quite shiny and new. Travelling on this boutique cruise ship felt a bit like test-driving a brand new highperformance car from a luxury marque such as Maserati. Perhaps it’s the casual sophistication of the interior design, with its taupe and cream tones, natural wood, leather accents, and chrome surfaces polished to mirror-like perfection. Although some other cruise lines ladle on the glitz, this felt like the best of modern European styling and elegance. With a maximum complement of 264 passengers and 139 crew members, the all-important staff-to-passenger ratio is high. There are 132 outside cabins, which means a large number of rooms come with generously proportioned balconies plus tables and chairs large enough to consider taking breakfast or a quiet

so we wouldn’t miss out on sightseeing while shaving or freshening up. If you’re concerned for your modesty, don’t panic. There’s a privacy screen, if you’d prefer,

Our fellow passengers were quite varied. Ponant maintains that different cruises attract different crowds, but our experience on Le Soléal suggests that their clientele may skew slightly younger than the luxury cruise norm. We certainly

that can be slid across to cut off the

didn’t feel out of place travelling with

bathroom from the great outdoors.

two young children, even though we were a little concerned beforehand that

As you’d expect from a ship flying the French flag, every meal was an exercise in flair and variety.

they might feel bored and having nothing to do. We needn’t have worried as this turned out to be far from the truth. The youngish crew were friendly and welcoming throughout the journey and the pool, video room and theatre facilities

So let’s talk about cuisine. As you’d

were much appreciated too. Our kids

expect from a ship flying the French

loved every minute.

flag, every meal was an exercise in flair and variety. Even though Le Soléal is a boutique vessel, it offered us two options – a superb buffet catering for breakfast and lunch, plus a gourmet restaurant for more formal dining. Good quality French wines were offered at lunch and

It helped that there were no long, tiresome queues to get on and off the ship at every port. At just 142m in length, Le Soléal is nimble enough to sail in and out of coves and small ports that a larger vessel wouldn’t be able to access. This

dinner, and these were all included in the

made for a varied journey, with stops in

ticket price. While the signature dishes

places such as Dubrovnik in Croatia and

of French cuisine were available, the

Otranto in Italy. Our floating home was

menu wasn’t all rich sauces and butter-

usually able to tie up at dockside rather

laden fare. Lighter, modern meals and

than sit at sea and transfer passengers to

Asian dishes were also on offer, with

the shore via tenders. Once again, it felt

the menu and ingredients reflecting the

reminiscent of the billionaire superyacht

Mediterranean ports we visited. Because

experience rather than a large luxury liner

Staying on the theme of space, our cabin

we were travelling in the company of a

– we were privileged travellers touring

was generous in size and not only was

few hundred guests rather than jostling

the Med.

drink in the seclusion of your own private space. As every apartment owner knows, a decent-sized balcony can be the difference between feeling cramped and feeling pleasantly relaxed. On a seven-day sea voyage, it’s also an important consideration.


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Our boutique voyage took us from Venice

but the timeless magnificence of the

cruises in Latin America, and they’ll also

down the island-studded Adriatic coast

Parthenon puts all that into perspective.

have three ships sailing the icy waters

and on to Greece. Dubrovnik was as

This is the birthplace of the western world,

of Antarctica.

wonderful as we expected it to be, with

and a world-class historic site. Twenty five

the orange-roofed old town shimmering

centuries after its stones were first raised,

in the sun. Kotor in Montenegro and

the Parthenon continues to inspire.

Otranto in Italy were slightly further off

If you’re feeling slightly wistful at this point

excellent cuisine, Le Soléal is more like a

the beaten tourist track, and no worse for

because a European cruise is not on your

mogul’s yacht than a conventional cruise

that. The old Greek capital of Nafplio was

immediate horizon, don’t despair. Le Soléal

ship. If you’re an experienced cruise

a revelation with its medieval buildings

is scheduled to visit the Pacific in 2015

aficionado, you’ll immediately notice the

and sunbaked squares. Situated on the

and 2016, with cruises taking in Hawai’i,

step up in quality. If you’re dipping your

Peloponnese, it’s a part of Greece that not

French Polynesia and New Caledonia.

toe into the cruise market for the first

many tourists get too – which could not

Ponant is also mounting some expedition-

time, you’ll probably be spoilt for all other

be said of our final port of call, Athens.

type cruises to more exotic destinations

cruises. I should know because that’s how

The Greek capital may have faced some

such as the Solomon Islands and the Sub-

I felt. The superyacht experience is

economic challenges in recent years,

Antarctic islands. There’s a range of new

definitely addictive.

Whatever the itinerary, you can be sure you’ll be travelling in style. With its immaculate fit-out, elegant design and

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Samoa Point, North Efate, Vanuatu Tel: +678 (35600) I Email: reservations@thehavannah.com I Website: www.thehavannah.com

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77 77

Insider’s Tips

Hidden treasures of the Danube Tasteful Tours CEO Zsuzsanna Tantos-Rangi

and child per annum. This town of fish aficionados even holds a unique festival every year, when the residents compete to cook the tastiest version of the local fish soup. In the second weekend of July, the townspeople set up cooking fires in front of their homes. Vast cauldrons are hauled out There’s no knowledge like inside knowledge. And when it comes to exploring a part of the world that’s little known to most people outside Europe, then you want an insider with real insight.

and the correct ingredients are assembled. The essentials include ultra-fresh carp, pike-perch, catfish and the ubiquitous Hungarian paprika. Using the techniques and tips passed down through generations, each family strives to impress passers by with its own interpretation of the town’s famous fish soup.

Zsuzsanna Tantos-Rangi lives in New Zealand but she was born in a town on the banks of the Danube. Now she makes her

Zsuzsanna describes guiding a small group of fascinated visitors

living running Tasteful Tours, a boutique tour operator that

through the midsummer streets, tasting and commenting on

specialises in taking small groups to Hungary and the other

a succession of delicious soups. Bands are playing, fires are

picturesque countries along the Danube. Zsuzsanna has a

smoking and everyone is having fun. Later in the evening,

passion for travel and enjoys sharing her inside knowledge.

the ten best soup makers will be selected by a panel of local

We asked her to tell us about some of her favourite places in

worthies and a winner will be crowned to much acclaim.

the region.

And the best thing? It’s totally free. As a visitor, you are part

The first name she mentioned was Baja. This is a medieval

of a traditional event in a town that’s simply celebrating its

town of 40,000 people on the Hungarian stretch of the

heritage. Accommodation might be tight for the duration,

Danube, famous for having the largest cobble-stoned square

but there’s no commercialisation of the event. It’s the sort

in Europe. And as Zsuzsanna relates, it’s a place with a serious

of experience you’re unlikely to encounter on a large

fish obsession.

packaged tour.

The people here eat more river and lake fish than anywhere

Zsuzsanna has a fund of these stories plus a deep knowledge of

else in the world – an average of 65kg for every man, woman

the region’s cultural heritage. Another highlight of Hungary is


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the annual festival in the town of Mohacs at the end of winter. Every February, the people of Mohacs hold a carnival to expel the depression of winter and celebrate the coming of spring. They do it in an unusual way – by dressing up in traditional sheepskin costumes and wearing demonic horned masks. It may be unnerving, but the idea is to expel the evil spirits of winter and clear the way for a mild and fertile spring. The other thing that defines Mohacs is the mighty battle fought

fascinating towns and regions along the way. As well as the obvious showstoppers such as Vienna and Budapest, she can show you the highlights of lesser known destinations such as St Polten in Austria and Novy Sad in Serbia. The aim is to put together a unique itinerary to suit a small group of friends or family members, and create memories that will last a lifetime. And if there are any fans of fish soup in the group, Zsuzsanna knows the perfect place to go.

there in 1526 to halt the Turkish advance into Europe. The town’s castle serves as a permanent reminder of its heroic past, but the traditions of the region really come alive when you encounter the local people celebrating their culture. Zsuzsanna takes a concierge’s approach to organising her tours with a personal itinerary that’s tailored to the group’s interests. One tour might be structured around food and wine, another might focus on culture and history, while a third could be centred on nature and sightseeing. As Zsuzsanna says, “we go to places that are special for that particular group. If the group falls in love with a place and wants to stay for another day, that’s no problem. We have the flexibility to change itineraries and re-arrange the schedule.” The Danube is a mighty river, flowing through southern

About Tasteful Tours Tasteful Tours is a boutique tour operator that organises unique, tailored tours for very small groups (maximum six people). Flexible itineraries are structured around the group’s interests, with a focus on authentic cultural experiences and discovering the ‘hidden gems’ of each region. The Tasteful Tours experience includes fine dining, five-star accommodation in selected hotels, and a personal concierge-style guide. Tasteful Tours guides do not receive any commission from local service providers, which helps ensure an original and bespoke experience. Visit www.tastefultours.co.nz

Germany, Austria, Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria on its way to the Black Sea. Zsuzsanna is an expert on the many

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Jenson Button’s McLaren in Singapore, 2014.

Bright lights, Hot nights Story: Stewart Bell

The FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX is a must-do event on the global sporting calendar. It’s the pinnacle of international motorsport, a competition fuelled by white-hot intensity – where teams work around the clock, and spend hundreds of millions of dollars for the chance to be first as the chequered flag falls. Formula One has always been this way, albeit now with far greater budgets; and the

Singapore’s year-round warmth.

wheel-to-wheel battles today are every bit as

“(It’s) definitely one of my highlights of the

heated as they were with world champions

year,” says Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 driver

Michael Schumacher, Mika Häkkinen, Ayrton

Nico Rosberg.

Senna, and more.

“Singapore has an amazing atmosphere

Naturally, nothing beats actually being

and the whole city comes to life for the

trackside – where the sight and sound of the

race weekend. It’s just unreal – and I would

world’s finest racing drivers in the world’s

recommend anybody to go, as it’s a fantastic

finest racing cars, dancing on the edge of

experience. It’s the circuit, the city, the

adhesion, is nothing short

atmosphere... everything!”

of electrifying. It’s a feeling shared by many on the grid. As F1’s only night race, run under lights through the iconic city-state’s streets, the

“This is such a special race,” says 2009 F1

Singapore Grand Prix is a spectacle that few

World Champion Jenson Button, who drives

can match – especially when you factor in for McLaren-Honda. 80 Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.

Jenson Button of McLaren Honda

“The whole weekend feels different –

6am or 7am the next morning,” says

there’s a buzz to the F1 paddock when you

Infiniti Red Bull Racing team manager,

first walk in on Thursday afternoon and it

Jonathan Wheatley.

never goes away.

“I like to follow my first night with a good

“You can feel the vibe – and the tension

sleep. I always find myself waking up

and anticipation climb higher and higher

earlier, though, which would probably be

as we get closer to the race itself on

around 4am in Europe, but I tend to go

Sunday night.”

to the gym, and spend some time by the

For Australian Daniel Ricciardo, it even feels like a second home race. “Singapore to Perth is like Melbourne to Perth, so for us West Australians it’s not too far,” says the Infiniti Red Bull

swimming pool, so (it’s) very refreshing compared to other races (for us).” And it’s easy to see why all the drivers, teams, media and fans love Singapore – the whole event is just on a whole new level to anything we’ve seen before.

Racing driver.

Just lighting Singapore’s Marina Bay Street

For the teams, though, Singapore represents a crucial turning point in the world championship – when things start to heat up, and not just literally.

Circuit is a massive undertaking, with 240 steel pylons, 1500 lighting projectors and 108,423 metres of power cables to provide the 3000lux levels required for High

“It’s a time when the whole team needs

Definition television. As a result, drivers can

to dig deep as we continue our work to

race during the night just as they would

improve the car and carry some positive

during the day.

momentum across the winter and into next year,” says McLaren Racing Director, Eric Boullier.

Singapore’s stunningly lit Marina Bay Street Circuit makes for an incredible place for a race, but it’s when you add to that F1, the

To make things even more interesting,

various support categories and an array

the teams don’t change to the

of off-track entertainment that it all really

Singapore time zone upon arrival,

comes alive.

preferring to stay on ‘European time’ to ensure they are properly prepared for the later session times.

Huge international names like Mariah Carey (2010), Shakira (2011), Linkin Park (2011), Katy Perry (2012), Rihanna (2013), The

“The flights work out in our favour because

Killers (2013), Robbie Williams (2014) and

we arrive in the evening, so the guys can

Jennifer Lopez (2014) have all played at the

have a big night for their first night in


Singapore and don’t have to go to bed until

And that is by no means an exhaustive list.

Top centre: Daniel Ricciardo of Infiniti Red Bull Racing Middle: Daniel Ricciardo This picture: The grid at the FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX. All images by Getty Images and Red Bull Content Pool

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This year, it’s superstar rapper Pharrell

Other mega hospitality options include

Williams, global pop sensation Maroon

the Sky Suite across from the F1 garages,

5 and veteran British rockers Spandau

Club Suites and the Green Room on the

Ballet, with two more acts to be

main pit straight, and the Turn 3 Premier

announced. As the city-state celebrates

Grandstand for a fantastic view of the

its 50 years of independence this

opening corners (1-3).

year, with a host of activities lined-up, September 18-20 really is a perfect time

With your pass all sorted – finding five-

to head to Singapore.

star accommodation to match it is simple. Singapore has some of the most luxurious

Making it work as a quick getaway is

places to stay on the planet, with many

easy, especially with a short flight and

world-famous hotels within walking

just a few days needed either side of a

distance to the track.

weekend. And one of the best things about all of it is during the day you can

Once you’re in Singapore, a quick tour

sightsee or relax poolside. By night, you’re

can simply involve a trip on the Singapore

out at the track, watching the superstars

Flyer that looks over the Marina Bay Street

of F1 racing hard under lights.

Circuit, followed by some shopping at Orchard Road and dinner and drinks

Naturally, you’ll want to do it in style –

riverside at Clarke Quay.

and the event has a wide range of options to suit your budget. At the top of the list

Want to delve deeper? Head to the

is the Formula One Paddock Club, which

Kampong Glam historic district for a taste

is the sport’s own lavish facility above the

of Malay culture, delight your senses out

F1 garages.

at Little India, and spend some time at

At the Paddock Club, you can also taste

the National Museum of Singapore.

some of the world’s finest cuisine from

Food is naturally high on everyone’s list,

some of the world’s best chefs. Previous

and there’s no doubt that in Singapore

names include top Japanese chef

everyone is going home (to their hotels,

Nobu Matsuhisa, and French ace

at least) full. Hawker centres, similar

Jean-Georges Vongerichten.

to food courts, are amazing for a truly

Singapore’s Marina Bay Street Circuit comes alive at night - Getty Images and Red Bull Content Pool


Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.

Above: Sebastian Vettel of Infiniti Red Bull Racing - Getty Images and Red Bull Content Pool This image: Jenson Button in his McLaren

authentic taste of Hokkien Mee, Char

When you mix the world’s most watched

Kway Teow, Hainanese Chicken Rice or

sport with unlimited entertainment options,

Chilli Crab.

a quick getaway to Singapore has never

If you’re looking for haute cuisine and to

made so much sense.

step away from the hustle and bustle of

For more information:

the city, book a table at one of the many


hip wining and dining establishments at Dempsey Hill. Of course, if you’re bringing children, you won’t be running out of things to do anytime soon with so many attractions to

Singapore Airlines can fly you to the 2015 FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE AIRLINES SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX:

choose from.

Economy Class flights from: NZ$1785

The options include, but are not limited

Business Class flights from: NZ$5485

to, the Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios, Jurong Bird Park, Skyline Luge Sentosa, as well as the scenic Gardens by the Bay that houses a one-hectare Children’s Garden combining nature and adventure.

First Class flights from: NZ$7105 Prices are per person return including taxes. Taxes as at 20/5/2015 and are subject to change.

It’s all part of the reason why the FORMULA 1 SINGAPORE GRAND PRIX has been such a gigantic hit since its debut on

See www.singaporeair.com for booking details.

the F1 calendar in 2008.

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Tianhe Room

The Mandarin Oriental Guangzhou, China Is there another country that has

provinces. But is it a destination for the

The second big reason to schedule a

undergone as great a transformation as

luxury traveller, I hear you ask. It certainly

Guangzhou break is simple. It gives you

China has over the last few decades? I

is, for reasons I’m about to explain.

an opportunity to spend a luxurious few

don’t think so. It really is astonishing to see the emergence of 21st century cities,

For a start, Guangzhou is perfectly

nights in one of Asia’s very finest hotels – the Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou.

complete with shiny skyscrapers, where

located for a leisurely stopover on your

previously farmers planted rice.

next trip to or from Europe. China

The location is certainly a winner – in the

Southern operates shiny new Boeing

centre of the business district, adjacent

787s on direct flights from Auckland to

to the best shopping malls and just 15

Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, is one of the poster children for this

Guangzhou with easy connections to

minutes’ walk from Guangzhou’s most

metamorphosis. Located a short distance

major European hubs such as London and

popular shopping district. There are many

up the Pearl River from Hong Kong,

Paris. And you won’t incur the hassle and

good restaurants in the vicinity too.

this city of 8.5 million is the thrusting

expense of a Chinese visa if your stopover

However, we weren’t here just for the

capital of one of China’s most dynamic

is less than 72 hours.

shopping and dining. Our first priority


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was to test the luxury factor of the

The fit-out was a tasteful blend of classic

Hers areas, with a freestanding tub, wet

hotel’s suites.

and contemporary, with dark parquet

and dry areas, and a massive ‘rainforest

floors and floor to ceiling glass that let

shower.’ Once again we felt the benefit

The first thing that struck us was the

in plenty of light as well as affording

of staying in a large suite, with no

sheer size of our accommodation. Our

stunning views of the city. It gave us the

suggestion of cramped quarters. With

suite was a capacious 120sqm – well up

feeling of being lords of all we surveyed.

bathroom accessories and silk bathrobes

to the standards of top-class international

At the touch of a button we could control

on request, it would be tempting to

suites. In passing I should note that

the drapes, adjust the lighting and

spend several hours simply luxuriating in a

even the hotel’s standard rooms come

turn off the entertainment system – all

state of déshabillé.

in at 60sqm, which is by far the biggest in Guangzhou. You may be visiting

without budging from our super-soft king-sized bed.

With some of the Mandarin’s suites you receive a bonus – access to the Club

a populous city but you’ll never feel

The marble and granite bathroom was

Oriental. This is the hotel’s executive

crowded in this class of accommodation.

another highlight, split into His and

club, open for breakfast and also hors

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d’oeuvres in the early evening. Better still,

adjacent malls – although you won’t raise

these treats are complimentary if you’re

too much of a sweat, as the shopping

staying in a suite. We soon factored an

facilities are practically integrated into

evening visit to the Oriental Club into our

the hotel. Over 500 shops are within

evening schedule.

10-minutes’ walk of the hotel, with every

But that was only one of the temptations on offer. The Mandarin Cake Shop has the most delicious sweet treats,

Mandarin Oriental, Guangzhou at a glance

luxury brand you can imagine on offer. Note to self: bring a larger suitcase next time.

sandwiches, coffee and tea for those

I have taken up a lot of space in this

times when you need a quick bite. At

review writing about things – i.e. facilities

the other end of the scale is the Dom

and products – but at the end of the day,

Category: Luxury City Hotel.

Perignon lounge – the first such lounge

these are not what make the Mandarin

in China. We also visited the Grill for a

Suite Reviewed: Executive Suite.

Oriental, Guangzhou such an outstanding

superb Sunday lunch that featured freshly

property. The real magic is delivered by

shucked oysters, a pyramid of prawns and Alaskan crab, multiple roast meat options, and the most mouth-watering Beef Wellington I have ever tasted. The meal was capped with a lavish selection of desserts, pastries and macaroons to rival the best in Paris.

the people. Review after review on Trip Advisor bestows praise on named staff members, and I can confirm that they really do deserve all the plaudits. A high guest-to-staff ratio is one reason for this, but perhaps the true secret lies in the Mandarin Oriental ethos. Every staff

Thankfully the hotel’s gym is also

member is trained to an exceptionally

extremely well appointed. I booked

high standard, and everyone seems to

myself in for an hour-long workout the

have a sixth sense when it comes to

following day, followed by a visit to the

anticipating your next request.

elegant spa. (I can recommend the Tian Quan therapy – a thoroughly restorative traditional Chinese bathing treatment.) Another form of exercise is visiting the

I guess that’s what it takes to stay No.1 in a city of 2,800 hotels. Having enjoyed a wonderful Asian stopover, I’m a devoted fan.

Executive Suite.

What’s great? Like all Mandarin Oriental properties, the architecture and interior design although Asian inspired has a uniqueness to it, refreshing in an age where some hotel brands have the tendency to all look the same. The service is as you would expect, faultless. The rooms and suites very spacious and beautifully appointed, special mention to the ultra-cool bathrooms. What’s not so great: Nothing really to complain about here, ticks all the boxes. Editor’s tip: For some real decadence, book a treatment in one of their very luxe Private Spa Suites, followed by a pre-dinner glass of Champagne at the in-house Dom Perignon Lounge, the first in China. Finish the evening with a reservation at Jiang helmed by master chef Fei, the hottest table in town serving the most incredible Cantonese cuisine. Rate: From NZ$390 per room per night. From NZ$830 per night for an Executive Suite (includes access to the exclusive Oriental Club Lounge). Website: www.mandainoriental.com/ Guangzhou.com

Location Room size Room interior Overall service level Food & beverage Hotel pool Business needs Spa facilities Value for money

One of China’s finest.


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Langhamhotel s.co.nz

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QT Hotel Gold Coast

The phrase ‘on the QT’ dates back to at least 1870 where it appears in a line of a British ballad – Whatever I tell you is on the QT. Then in 1884 in one of George Moore’s novels, A Mummer’s Wife. The catchy abbreviation means ‘on the quiet’, ‘just quietly’ or ‘a secret’. The QT Gold Coast in the heart of Surfers Paradise is certainly no secret and not your ordinary style of hotel. With 297 spacious guestrooms overlooking the Gold Coast, it is an eclectic mix of art and design, luxury and style, with a generous serving of quirkiness from a bygone era. Think surfer chic from the Fifties meeting Miami catwalk cool – captures it perfectly! The hotel’s location is a stone’s throw from the golden sands of Surfers, close enough to hear the soothing sound of breaking waves. From the balcony of an Ocean View Room you can enjoy views all the way up and down the coastline. The hotel lobby has an instant vibe. It’s double height and open, with large LED pieces of art work lit up like Times Square. In fact, any time of the day or night that you transcend through the lobby you feel like a celebrity on a movie set.


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‘Take one’ – the retro looking and funky

or white, a Cockatoo table lamp – two

Fixx Café for a coffee or an organic

very hot items, so I am told. QT also has

smoothie and sweet treats. ‘Take two’

a very modern iPad concierge, with one

– the Stingray Lounge for a cocktail

swipe of the finger you can be anywhere

– one of the most popular night time

and do almost anything you want during

bars in all of Surfers Paradise. ‘Take

your stay.

QT Hotel, Gold Coast at a glance

three’ – the in-house market place style restaurant aptly named Bazaar puts you

Every element of this hotel in parts makes

in a gastronomical frenzy from morning

up the quintessential holiday destination.

through to night or roll up to the famous

The fun Fifties larger-than-life graphics in

Yamagen Teppanyaki BBQ Grill for some

each elevator put a happy smile on your

performance art sushi.

face no matter what your mood. The recipe on the bedside table along with a

Their luxurious designer SpaQ has an

selection of utensils to mix your own fresh

King Ocean View Room

extensive list of treatments and waiting

lemonade – just dial 4 and the ingredients

area to chill out in with a herbal tea or a

Category: Quirky Coastal Hotel.

will be delivered right to your room and

‘G and T’ while reading a magazine. Then

perfectly complement an unexpected

for some retail therapy there is QTique on

snack from the Quick Bites menu. QT

the ground floor where all of the quirky

bathroom essentials by MALIN + GOETZ

designer art pieces that adorn the hotel

will put a zing in your step and an edge

rooms are available for sale. Individually

of quirk in your shower – a peppermint

styled by Sydney designer Anna Roberts, each guestroom has an inventory of unique elements and artefacts. Some

shampoo, cilantro hair conditioner and Vitamin B5 body moisturiser.

items of memorabilia are more popular

From the bottom up the QT Gold Coast is

than others, like the thick and thirsty QT

super stylish and downright cool,

Rocky-style satin edged bathrobe in black

just quietly.

Room reviewed: King Ocean View Room. What’s great? The upbeat vibe, the look and the people, 24-hour reception and a great business events team. Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. What’s not so great: The rooms are long and narrow and the king-sized bed takes up a lot of space but clever décor and floor plan opening out onto a private deck and ocean view makes it feel more spacious. The outdoor swimming pool is on the small side. Editor’s tip: Book an Ocean View Room as high up as you can go for impressive views up and down the coastline. All the quirky extras that decorate and theme the rooms are for sale and make great gifts or mementos of your stay. Just decide which pieces of QT memorabilia take your fancy and collect it from the QTique when you check out. Rate: From NZ$350 per room per night for a King Ocean View Room. Website: www.qtgoldcoast.com.au

Location Room size Room interior Overall service level Food & beverage Hotel pool Business needs Spa facilities Value for money

Surfer chic meets Miami cool. Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.


Hotel Spotlight Take a quick look into some stand–out properties around the globe.

Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa Sheraton opened its eponymous Resort & Spa on the gorgeous island of Maui in 1962, and it’s been luxuriating in the glories of a superb location ever since. As one of the early pioneers of high-end tourism on Maui, Sheraton was able to claim a prestigious spot beside the iconic Black Rock of Kaanapali Beach. All 508 rooms and suites directly face the blue Pacific Ocean, so your stay will be punctuated by views to die for. Guests enjoy all the amenities of a 500+ room resort, including a Spa and first-class dining, but also revel in the sensation of getting close to nature. In season, you could even be treated to a procession of these stately giants surfacing and swimming past your holiday spot.

Four Seasons Florence Slightly removed from the city centre, the Four Seasons Florence comes with its own outdoor pool and park-like grounds. It occupies two lovingly refurbished mansions dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. No two rooms are alike, and many offer vivid details such as friezes and bas-reliefs as well as brightly coloured frescoes. The hotel’s Il Palagio restaurant, helmed by Executive Chef Vito Mollica, has earned one Michelin Star. We love this type of traditional luxury that’s been brought right up to date and tailored to its surroundings.

The Mandarin Oriental Barcelona With amazing interiors by leading Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola, the 120 rooms and suites are amongst the most luxurious in Barcelona. Located on the hotel’s 5th floor, their new Terrace Suite offers views over Barcelona’s celebrated Passeig de Gràcia. Decorated using a soothingly light palette, accommodation includes a large master bedroom complete with king bed, a walk-in dressing area and a spacious living room with dining table and floor-to-ceiling windows. The glass-walled bathroom offers a walk-in rainforest shower and deep-soaking bath. A wonderful outdoor terrace with private Jacuzzi completes this picture of contemporary elegance. Guests of this suite also enjoy the benefit of private butler service.

Kapari Natural Resort Santorini Kapari Natural Resort is perched 380 metres above the sea at one of the island’s highest points, in the village of Imerovigli. The hotel is made up of a 300 year-old collection of artfully restored Greek village buildings, with cool, cavernous rooms and restfully minimal décor. Open from April to the end of October, the resort boasts 14 comfortable rooms and suites. This is five-star luxury with a sophisticated, boutique feel. Santorini is a perfectly picturesque Greek island, with views to die for and an atmposhere worth soaking up.


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Virgin Australia Business Class The Facts Plane: Boeing 737-800. Cabin: Business Class, configuration 2 + 2. Seat: 1A, 96.5cm (38-inch) pitch. Entertainment: Streamed 30-hours of movies, music and TV series. Extras: Pillow and amenities kit. Baggage allowance: Business Class 2x items of checked luggage (up to 32kg each) plus a carry on bag. Service: Full service onboard dining. Route: Auckland to Gold Coast (Coolangatta) direct.

Virgin Australia Business Class Review

Flight time: 3 hours 40 minutes. Price: NZ$647 direct flight (return $1,337)

Story: Janice Burmaz

For me, flying is all about the detail and

nice and quiet down the isle. The roomy

the little things along the way that count.

seats and extra wide lounge style seat

A small thoughtful act by a busy flight

arms means ample space for working on

attendant, a smile, a warm welcome by

the laptop during the flight.

name, offering to take your coat as you relax back into an extra wide comfy seat.

A refurbishing program to increase the

Everything counts on first impression. My

number of Business Class seats in ten of

mixed nuts arrived warmed (not cold) with

Virgin Australia’s Boeing 737-800s is now

my drink – such detail is an integral part of

complete. A coat check-in service (with

an airline that’s committed to meeting its

complimentary coat bag) will be available

high level of service standards.

and newspapers until noon. On flights

Sampling the new premium service in advance, I flew Virgin Australia Business Class to the Gold Coast. Having downloaded their Wi-Fi app before boarding meant I could access onboard movies in-flight on my own device or alternatively there was a Samsung Galaxy tablet available.

cosmetics by GROWN will put a smile on your face travelling between Auckland and Sydney. The introduction of Virgin Australia’s Business Class across the Tasman and to Pacific Island destinations is an important

by resident head chef Luke Mangan,

premium customers.

of two gourmet meals on the menu,

Lowlight: No USB power. My laptop was charged so wasn’t really an issue.

amenity kits featuring Australian organic

step to extending the airline to its

onboard), was a highlight with a choice

Highlight: The entire travel experience with Virgin Australia flowed seamlessly from premium check-in, priority boarding, enhanced on-board comfort and priority baggage service on arrival.

over three hours duration complimentary

A full-service dining experience created (the quality was almost as if he was

Airport lounge: Virgin Australia shares Air New Zealand’s Koru Lounge in Auckland. In Coolangatta there is a dedicated Virgin Australia lounge.

So it’s easy to see why this airline was voted as Best Domestic Business Airline

complemented with a list of premium

in Australia in 2014. Its premium service

Australian and New Zealand wines.

will appeal to travellers who prefer to

Followed by coffee and tea, and as many

travel in full comfort. The availability of

repeat cups as you like. It’s like a gourmet

premium seating on high-frequency

restaurant in the sky. High quality food,

trans-Tasman routes from a consumer

plated and served by professional and

point of view shows real commitment to

polished flight crew. No service trolleys,

customer comfort.

Tip: Row 2 has slightly more legroom than Row 1, which faces bulkheads but is not the least bit confined. Website: www.virginaustralia.com

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e c n a m o R

by Rail

Aboard Belmond’s Hiram Bingham

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Story: Stuart Walker

Mention Machu Picchu to any seasoned

Spanish invaders in the 15th Century

As a self-confessed train buff, to spend

traveller and immediately it will invoke

due to its remote river valley and

the day exploring the ruins of Machu

images of lost Inca civilisations amongst

hilltop location.

Picchu and then indulge in the experience

dense Amazon jungle and intrepid explorers. Machu Picchu is an unprecedented destination for any

For modern day explorers to reach Machu Picchu you have the option of a 3-4

would-be traveller visiting the Peruvian

day walk over the Inca Trail or travel by

Andes of South America.

rail. Peru Rail runs 14 return trains a day

of a luxury train service on our homeward journey was like the perfect fine wine and food match, and one that would exceed all our expectations.

from Cusco into the terminus station

Our outbound service was train #12 with

at the base of Machu Picchu known as

a scheduled departure of 1750 hours.

Aguas Calientes (aptly named after its

The exquisitely appointed ‘Sala de Espera’

invigorating hot springs). Whilst Peru

opened 30-40 minutes prior to departure

Rail’s Explorer and Vista Dome trains

providing us with the perfect sanctuary

are an excellent choice – there is no

to escape the bustling crowds of several

Much has been written about Machu

comparison to the penultimate rail travel on one of Belmond’s iconic luxury

thousand plus visitors that transit through

Picchu and the discovery of this lost Inca city by Hiram Bingham in 1912. The

trains, the Hiram Bingham –

archaeological significance is in part due

appropriately named after the famous

As you enter the waiting room you are

to the fact it escaped ransacking by the

historian and explorer.

immediately greeted by an extremely

Machu Picchu is located some 150 kilometres inland from the city of Cusco in the Urubamba River Valley as it winds its way eastward into the Amazon jungle from the high Alto Plano of central Peru.


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this tiny township every day.

well-dressed concierge eager to offer

immaculately finished in regal blue, the

is mesmerising – mahogany wooden

you a hot towel and refreshing drink

polished carriages are dazzling, more akin

panelling, ornately polished brass hand

while checking that all is order for your

to the high gloss finish of a superyacht

rails, coat hooks and hat racks, soft pastel

impending departure. The décor is

hull – the detailing and filigree is a

prints on the upholstery and curtains are

open and relaxing. Numerous historic

work of art in itself. As we head over

matched to the subtle incandescence of

photographs adorn the walls retelling

to our train, we are warmly greeted

soft side lights and table lamps – not a

the construction of the railroad and

on the platform by our conductor and

fluorescent tube to be seen.

the pioneering operations of this

car stewards resplendent in their fine

narrow gauge railway, all adding to

uniforms that wouldn’t be out of place on

nostalgia and heritage of the ‘Hiram

a military parade ground. A welcome hot

Bingham’ experience.

towel to wipe away any last remnants of

with the iconic ‘HB’ logo, fine silver

the day’s dusty encounter completes the

cutlery, leather bound menu folio and a

embarkation process.

blossoming red rose.

tunes as a forerunner to our onboard

The moment we enter the salon we are

The carriage quickly fills with the excited

entertainment. Belmond’s locomotive

transported back in time to the classic

chatter of travellers from across the globe

pulls into the station with its two salon

era of high-class train travel, when rail

as they share the day’s adventure to the

cars (with seating for 42 in each), a bar/

was the most preferred and extremely

dizzy heights of Machu Picchu. Then the

observation car, service and galley. So

romantic. The richness of the décor

moment we’ve all been waiting for, the

Peruvian beats fill the room – ‘Trio Sambor’ play a lively set of Latin

Tables are set, in classic heavy weight white linen, fine white China and glassware all intricately monogrammed

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conductor sounds the whistle and our train pulls out of the station, right on schedule. Our romantic dinner for two soon turns into a rowdy group of six, four Americans travelling as father, son, uncle and friend. We trade stories and travel tips from our Peruvian adventures as our train starts to climb its way back up the Urubamba towards Cusco. We are invited for a welcome aboard ‘pisco sour’ as a warm-up to some sing-a-long entertainment. Lively Latin favourites roll out such as La Bamba and Mambo #5. Audience participation is unavoidable as maracas and tambourines are passed around and a ‘samba dance-off’ by the more extroverted ensues. Darkness has now fallen and the dramatic chasmlike scenery of the river gorge and over hanging cliffs gives way to occasional fleeting lights of local railside settlements and the occasional passing train in one of the many crossing loops – priority of course been given to this prestigious train. The entertainment having concluded and appetites sharpened, we are ushered back into our saloon car for the gastronomic part of the journey. Amuse-bouche of mashed sweet potato scented with fava bean, fresh cheese, tomato, onion and carrot. The entrée of ‘leek and potato emulsion 3000-metros’ is obviously choreographed for the altitude as our train gently climbs the 1500-metres back up towards Cusco. Mains are a choice of local trout ‘Trucha’ with a salt crust, creamy quinoa and parmesan cheese with tree tomato Meunière sauce, or beef tenderloin with a medley of local potatoes from the ‘Huama’ community located along the Urubamba, topped with a pink pepper ‘Mole’ sauce. Naturally we chose one of each with the opportunity to maximise the tasting experience. Rounded out with a 55% organic cacao, pineapple and tarragon strawberry coulis, delightfully garnished with Maras salt and lavender. After a day of great exploration as the infamous Hiram himself would have done, it was rewarding to sit back in comfort and enjoy a gourmet dining experience in such elegance and style. Time was of no essence – you are just simply absorbed in the ambience and nostalgia of a glorious way to travel and explore new horizons. So, having been entertained then wined and dined with elegant sufficiency our 3 ½ hour train journey seemed to have gone so quickly as the conductor made a final announcement that we were pulling into Poroy on the outskirts of Cusco. It was now a case of fond farewells to our new friends from the USA, a hearty thanks to the conductor, cabin stewards and wait staff who all line up in best Belmond tradition to farewell their guests. The Belmond Hiram Bingham is one of those most romantic and special holiday memories and a big tick off my bucket list. When you make the journey to Machu Picchu, don’t even think of missing it.

info@touchofspice.co.nz | www.touchofspice.co.nz

For more information visit: www.belmond.com

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24 Hours in:

Lima, Peru Janice Burmaz touches down in Peru’s capital, also known as the “City of the Kings” and formally the richest viceroyalty in South America. 4pm. We’re en-route to meet a group of fellow train enthusiasts

indulge in five courses. My lust for seafood shows, ordering

before heading off on our intrepid rail journey into the Andes.

smoked trout, the best ceviche (known here as “cebiche”) I have

Our short stop in Lima has us staying at the Belmond Miraflores

tasted, seared scallops, crispy grilled octopus, Sea Bass carpaccio

Park Hotel. Before dining at the Belmond’s Sky restaurant, we

with ginger and black pudding, ricotta black ravioli all washed

take in the magnificent views from our room of the sweeping

down with a Chilean wine and local artisan beers.

coastline. The Miraflores district is known for its gardens, beaches and flower-filled parks ‘El Malecón’ situated along the coastal cliffs high above the Pacific Ocean.

3.30pm. With numerous iconic historic landmarks to see, we continue on our discovery through quiet suburbs and messy back streets to view the famous clay ruins of Huaca Pucllana, a

10am. After a leisurely buffet breakfast we venture out

pre Inca temple dating back to 200 AD. Then as we head back

past the conceirge team opening the doors and bidding us

across familiar territory passing through Love Park enroute to

good morning. We step directly onto the El Malecón and the

our hotel, we join other tourists and locals promenading as the

beginning of the coastal walk. The Villena Bridge spans a deep

sun sets over the ocean. We stop in at Larcoma to find a light

ravine at the midway point on the Malecón. On one side of

option for evening dining. La Trattoria restaurant is minutes

the bridge is the “Intihuatana” (sun anchor), on the other is

from our hotel, new to the shopping complex with ultra

a massive carving of a couple in deep embrace – the work of

modern décor and a menu tempting us to come back and open

artist Víctor Delfin. The central piece of a section of the Malecón

to midnight.

known as Parque del Amor (Love Park), whose design borrows heavily from Antoni Gaudi is also a prime spot for parapenting.

8.30pm. Refreshed after our self-guided walking tour of the

Almost as constant as the ocean waves rolling in, adrenalin

city, we dine at La Trattoria that offers views of twinkling lights

junkies leap from high cliffs – a popular experience for tourists,

along the Miraflores coastline. Walking back after dinner we

if you dare and if winds permit.

can hear distant tropical beats from local nightclubs. It’s a mild

Midday. Neatly tucked into the crevice of the cliffs high above sea level is the ultra modern Larcomar shopping mall. An extremely unique retail masterpiece filled with top designer stores, restaurants, cafés and movie theatres. 1pm. Walking up the main Avenue Larco heading away from the coastline and toward Parque Central to explore the colourful Indian market, we work up an appetite. A couple more blocks and we find La Gloria restaurant, reccomended to us by the hotel concierge. We were told that La Gloria is the place to “see and be

October evening and a pleasant end to an interesting day of discovery that finishes with a small nightcap at Belmond‘s Belo Bar before turning in. 7am. We meet our group at the historic Lima Railway Station that is now a library and await departure. Six times a year a passenger train runs from Lima through to Huancayo, a 13hour journey passing over 59 bridges and through 66 tunnels. An epic journey on the second highest railway in the world reaching 4800-metres.

seen”. Almost hidden from view this jewel is a cosy Mediterranean

So this is Lima, shrouded in history, full of aesthetic delights, a

style brasserie with loads of Peruvian atmosphere. Tables are

cultural phantasmagoria with some exceptional eateries, and all

dressed in starched white linen and squashed together. We over-

part of a gastronomic evolution over 400 years in the making.

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LAN 0800 700 647

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LAN Airlines

Premium Business Class

Story: Janice Burmaz

The anticipation of three weeks holiday in

the aircraft levelled off at the peak of

with soy and honey sauce, Thai-style

Peru and Bolivia was exciting enough but

its accent.

rice and steamed bok choy, all fresh

flying Premium Business with LAN Airlines on their new Dreamliner moved things to an even higher level of expectation.

LAN’s Premium Business cabins are extra wide and well set-up with a generous amount of room and leg space. The

After months of careful planning, our day

overhead luggage lockers are large

of departure seemed to come around

enough to fit a person in.

fast. Departing from Auckland on LAN Airlines’ afternoon flight LA800 via Santiago in Chile, our final destination Lima, Peru. Last to board the flight and

For passengers who wish to work and fly there is ample room but in this instance our spacious and comfortable cabin found us in holiday mode.

cutting things a little bit too fine for me,

and simply delicious. Room for dessert – a choice of ice cream, passion fruit cheesecake or fresh fruit salad followed by a moreish selection of cheese. No room for tea, coffee or a nightcap, although it was offered. After applying the moisturiser from the complimentary Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit, I turned off the gentle back massage seat setting and adjusted it to

but making it just in time for our pre-

During our flight we had the choice of

lay flat. Pulling up the lovely white duvet

takeoff drinks. Buckled in and breathing

two menus – Express for those who

made sleep mode an easy transition for

a huge sigh of relief – we were onboard

prefer to eat and maximise their rest time

the long haul to South America.

and ready for takeoff.

or the Standard Menu – a more leisurely service with alcoholic beverages to match.

The Dreamliner is an amazing aircraft.

The LAN crew swept into action and

We chose the latter. A nice cold appetiser

The flight was exceptionally smooth

captivated us in no time; fussing over

to start – prosciutto, bocconcini and

and quiet with all the latest generation

us making sure that we were comfortable.

sundried tomatoes paired with a Chilean

technology; surround sound for

We were almost in a trance by the time

pinot noir, followed by Hapuka served

announcements, bigger than usual

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LAN Airlines Business Class The Facts

Plane: Boeing 787 Dreamliner. Cabin: Premium Business, configuration 2 + 2 + 2. Seat: 2A. Flat Bed Seat: 75-inch (190.5cm) pitch, 23-inch (58cm) width. Entertainment: Good selection of movies, music and TV series. Extras: The massage setting on the lay flat seats, pillow, white duvet, blanket, slippers and Salvatore Ferragamo amenity kit. Baggage allowance: Business Class allowance is 3x items of checked luggage (up to 23kg each) plus a carry on bag. Service: Full service onboard dining. Inflight crew very friendly and super efficient. Route: Auckland to Lima, Peru via Santiago, Chile.

TV screen, extra large windows with

consistently good service. From Santiago

touch pad dimmer and automatic

they are the gateway to South America

ambience lighting throughout, even in

with onward connections to 115

the bathrooms.

destinations using a fleet of A320, 767

LAN Airlines operate an extremely top rate level of Business Class with

and 787 aircraft depending on the route. We look forward to flying with LAN again – it really was like a dream!

Santiago, Chile: VIP Lounge Business Class travellers now have access to LATAM Airlines Group swanky new VIP Lounge with everything you need for a pleasant stopover after a long international flight. Passengers arriving at the lavish VIP Lounge are welcome to freshen up with a hot shower in the privacy of individual bathrooms. The lounge has a sleeping area, a business centre offering unlimited Wi-Fi, laundry and shoe-shine service to boot. Lounge guests can choose hot and cold meals from the long buffet with a wide variety of premium beverages, the very best wines in the region including the award-winning Louis Roederer Brut Premier Champagne. Coffee aficionados can enjoy a caffeine fix from renowned coffee brand, Juan Valdez. There are plenty of stores at Santiago’s international airport, shop or just relax and enjoy the lounge until you board your next flight. The lounge is connected to preferential check in counters for both LAN and TAM Airlines.

Flight time: Auckland to Lima including one-stop: 15 hours, 20 minutes. Price: Approx NZ$7000 return plus taxes. Airport lounge: Qantas in Sydney and Auckland. Brand new Business Class VIP Lounge in Santiago. Highlight: Flights arrived on time, comfortable layout in cabin with excellent menu choices and seamless onboard service. Lowlight: We had a nine-hour stopover in Santiago on the way back from Lima, which meant that we were not able to check our bags through. We had to find airport storage so that we could explore the sights of Santiago luggage free. Not a major problem but good to know in advance. Tip: By ordering the Express breakfast before you kip down for the night, you have more time to sleep, as breakfast will be served just 40-minutes prior to landing. A great option – I thoroughly recommend this. Website: www.lan.com

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Tranquil sophistication Story: Philip Tetley-Jones

am in central Vietn

Overshadowed by vibrant Ho Chi Minh City in the south and

The last dynasty of imperial Vietnam reigned here from 1802 to

politically dominant Hanoi in the north, central Vietnam has an

1945. Influenced by Chinese culture, they created a Forbidden

appeal all of its own. The legacy of the ancient Cham people

City of their own on the banks of the Perfume River. The Hue

makes itself felt in the Hindu-influenced architecture, while the

citadel still dominates the town, with the massive fortress

climate is neither as sultry as the south’s nor as chilly (during

outside the gates flying the red flag of modern Vietnam.

winter) as the north’s.

Behind the hulking walls lay the domain of the Nguyen

But central Vietnam is much more than a zone of transition. It’s

Emperors, their mandarins and their concubines. Once upon a

the home of imperial Vietnamese culture, and the base for some

time, access was strictly limited. Now a ticket grants you entry,

appealing accommodation.

and you can wander the spacious and near deserted grounds

That doesn’t mean you’ll be deprived of more traditional tourist

that once buzzed with the activities of the royal court.

treats. There are beautiful beaches aplenty, including the famous

Strongly influenced by Confucian thinking, the Emperors rarely

golden sands of Da Nang, Cua Lo and Non Nuoc. If you want to

left this self-contained citadel. Their main role was to intercede

relax on a sun lounger with a cocktail and a good book, you’ll

with heaven and preside over a respectful bureaucracy.

find the perfect package on offer.

Unsurprisingly, a culture of connoisseurship and luxury came to

However, we were hunting something else. After catching the overnight sleeper from Hanoi, we were determined to get in touch with Vietnam’s pre-colonial past, in the city that served as the country’s capital until 1945 – imperial Hue.

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the fore, especially during the latter years of the dynasty. This sybaritic influence lingers to the present day – Hue cuisine is still revered within Vietnam for its refinement and sophistication. Having the bad luck to be situated in the Demilitarised Zone

(DMZ) that formed the border between north and south, the

pavilion I glimpsed palm trees, brick pathways, carved

region was badly battered during the American War (as the

statues and elegant wooden buildings. The atmosphere

Vietnam War is known in these parts). Hue in particular was

was deeply tranquil.

the scene of heavy fighting during the Tet offensive. But after the country was reunited in 1975, it didn’t take long for the

We had arrived. Pilgrimage Village is a resort with an

region’s deeply-entrenched traditions of hospitality to

atmosphere quite unlike the in-your-face opulence of so many

reassert themselves.

modern resorts. It’s artistic, sophisticated and luxurious in the most unexpected ways.

That’s why we were intrigued to learn of a resort that had grown from the vision of a local man, determined to resurrect

Take the Traditional Vietnamese Pool House that was to

the crafts of the region and create an up-to-date version of the

be our home for the next few days. One of just three such

region’s traditional luxury.

accommodations, it’s discreetly located in an elevated garden setting that overlooks the Resort’s pool. The stand-alone villa

I’d heard a lot about Pilgrimage Village and checked out the

is designed and built using the traditional techniques of central

photos online. But as the taxi carried our party of three along a

Vietnam, with jackfruit trunk pillars, exposed brickwork and

meandering country road and through a nondescript village, I was starting to wonder whether we were in the right place.

hand-crafted statues in the wall niches. Honey coloured stone floors add a touch of opulence while the bed is a magnificent

We pulled into what appeared to be a modest lay-by facing

four-poster with views through the French doors to the loggia

a high stone wall. “This is it,” said our driver and we got out.

and private plunge pool.

Friendly smiles greeted us, our luggage was whisked away and a gateway was indicated. We passed through the gates, and our journey entered a whole new phase.

The Resort’s village-style layout makes for a landscape of lowrise buildings in a garden studded with palms and jackfruit trees, many of which grew spontaneously from pips discarded by the

Inside, a pathway led through tropical vegetation towards a

previous generation of locals. A lotus-filled waterway bisects the

large wooden pavilion. Female hotel staff wearing the elegant

property, with the cool modern lines of the Slope Bar on the far

Ao Dai costume of Vietnam – a flowing split dress over loose

side – the ideal venue for a happy hour drink while an excellent

trousers – escorted us to some comfortable chairs. We were

pianist serenades you with excerpts from the classics. The main

offered a cup of ginger tea while our passports were taken away

restaurant, Junrei, is located near the front of the property,

to complete the check-in formalities. On the other side of the

alongside the reception pavilion. Like the pavilion, it’s built from

Citadel in Hue

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local materials using wood hand-carved with scenes relating to the

5 things you must try in central Vietnam

imperial Vietnamese court that once presided in nearby Hue city.

Dine Hue’s cuisine draws on the refined traditions of the Vietnamese court. Try ‘Shrimp with Five Tastes’, which lives up to its name with a single plump prawn in a delicate consommé flavoured with kaffir lime leaf, lemongrass, chilli, ginger and shallot. And make sure you try the region’s specialty – Com Hen, a spicy clam and rice concoction.

local entrepreneur, working for the only hotel in Hue at the time,

It all seems quite timeless but 25 years ago none of this existed. A

Marvel The imperial citadel is unique – a walled, forbidden city in the heart of Hue, where the Emperor reigned in the midst of his officials and concubines. Parts are in ruins but enough remains to remind the visitor of what once stood proudly here. Gaze My Son is a cluster of abandoned Hindu temples built between the 4th and 14th Centuries by the kings of Champa. Building techniques and architectural motifs can still be seen in the region’s modern buildings – a reminder that this part of Vietnam was long influenced by Indian as well as Chinese and indigenous traditions. Laze You want beaches? Central Vietnam has some glorious ones. China Beach in Da Nang, where GIs stormed ashore in the 1960s, is the most famous one. But there are plenty more. Stay Chill out in a hideaway resort. The tranquil atmosphere is the perfect contrast to the buzz and bustle of urban Vietnam.

had the vision of creating opportunities for the region’s craftspeople while giving foreign visitors a taste of the real Vietnam. He designed and built an artisans’ showroom in a nearby village to promote the handicrafts of the region. Visitors loved the ambience and asked if there was anywhere they could stay. So he built the first stage of the Pilgrimage Village Hotel, and then gradually developed the adjoining site until he had created a 99-room property complete with spa, restaurants and all the facilities of a boutique resort. From the start, the vision encompassed body, mind and spirit. Pilgrimage Village devotes a sizeable part of its site to activities that restore health and promote well-being. The custom-designed yoga and meditation centre would be ideal for a retreat, with daily tai chi, meditation and yoga classes delivered by masters. And the amazing Vedana Spa is a resort within a resort, approached via stone-paved walkway over a mini lake where frogs croak at night. I enjoyed one of their bespoke treatments including a traditional Vietnamese massage and citrus body scrub. Three hours passed as if I was in a dream. In keeping with the theme of promoting the best of the region, the Resort’s owners have recruited and trained staff from the local population. They embody the Pilgrimage Village spirit, combining grace and knowledge with a friendly demeanour. They’re well schooled in remembering your preferences and always ready to greet you by name. As the manager told us, “luxury for us is that the guest can experience what is real about Vietnam – not just the property, but the spirit.” The owners have built on what they’ve created with their newer sister property, Vedana Lagoon Resort & Spa on the nearby coast. Just over an hour away, this provides an intriguing contrast with Pilgrimage Village. You could relax for a few days in one of their breathtaking overwater bungalows, and then venture inland to the tranquillity of the Village property with the opportunity to go sightseeing in historic Hue city. It’s a compelling proposition if you want to experience Vietnam in a little more depth. Central Vietnam is a welcoming, hospitable region in a very welcoming and hospitable country. Deeply aware of history, the local people have sought to keep alive the best traditions of the past. A visit here refreshes the spirit as well as the mind and body.

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Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue

A Suite Life in Paradise Discover a world of relaxation on Maui’s world-renowned Ka‘anapali Beach. The perfect setting for your next getaway, the Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa offers luxurious accommodations, personalized services and endless activities. Upgrade your stay to a suite and enjoy daily breakfast for two, resort credit and spa discount. Find out more at sheraton-maui.com or call 866 716 8109.

©2014 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, Sheraton and their logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.

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TRAVEL ACCESSORIES FOR THE LUXURY TRAVELLER Hardgraft Re-Process Camera Strap What is it? A super adjustable, multi option camera strap. What makes it so special? Made from premium vegetable tanned leather and rich wool felt by skilled craftsmen in Italy, the strap can extend to 128cm or reduce to a 34cm grab handle. The leather matures over time to give a distinguished vintage look. Where can you get it? www.hardgraft.com Price: From US$148

Louis Vuitton Lockit MM Bag What is it? A stunning lightweight and practical bag made from supple Veau Cachemire leather. What makes it so special? The intricate and exact detailing that is signature of the Louis Vuitton brand combined with the elegant and sophisticated styling make this a real statement piece without the iconic monogram. It’s even roomy enough to also carry a laptop and files. Where can you get it? www.louisvuitton.com or call 0800 586 966 for stockists. Price: From NZ$6050

Tag Heuer L-Type LW Eyewear What is it? Ergonomic and technically advanced, these sunglasses are rugged yet exude urban cool styling. From the Avant-Garde premium range, this model has won a prestigious Red Dot Design Award. What makes it so special? Light, strong and sporty and designed with precision engineering. The fibre-reinforced polymer lenses are unbreakable, the bridge and hinges are pure titanium, the frame is 100% carbon with dual-injection molded elastomer end-tips and the patented autoflex nose pads adjust to every face type. Where can you get it? Gates Eyewear New Zealand: www.gateseyewear.co.nz Tag Heuer Boutiques Australia: www.tagheuer.com.au Price: From NZ$1900; AU$1650

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TUMI 1975 Luggage What is it? Vintage-style premium leather luggage to celebrate the company’s founding 40 years ago. What makes it so special? The full-grain leather pieces encapsulate the meticulous craftsmanship, technical innovation and functional superiority that TUMI is known for. The collection includes carry-on, rucksack, duffel, tote, portfolio, slim brief, travel kit and luggage tag. But the collection is limited to just 1975 pieces, so get in quick. Where can you get it? www.tumi.com Price: Pictured: US$1495 (Duffel) and US$1895 (International Carry-on).

Thalgo iBeauty What is it? Not technically a travel accessory, but Thalgo’s new facial technology enables treatments that boost natural moisture while drenching the skin in remineralising, rehydrating and plumping active ingredients. Ideal for pre or post travel. What makes it so special? An anti-ageing professional treatment that uses innovative technology including sound vibrations and sequential ultrasound. The short and effective treatments include: Purity Reviver, Hydration Corrector and Anti-Ageing Activator. Your skin will be left looking completely renewed and intensely hydrated. Where can you get it? From a skilled Thalgo Skin Expert. Contact 0800 842 546 to locate one near you. Price: Thalgo iBeauty Integral Solutions from NZ$130 or to complement a hands-on Thalgo Facial Treatment, a 15-minute Thalgo iBeauty Targeted Solution from NZ$64.

Apple Watch What is it? Described as the most personal product that Apple has made to date, this device enables you to do a large selection of things more quickly and efficiently. What makes it so special? New innovative technologies allow you to select, navigate and input data in ways never seen before. Key features include a Digital Crown that is the navigation tool providing absolute precision, ‘Glances’ technology to provide a glimpse of the information that you access most frequently and ‘Force Touch’ that uses tiny electrodes around the flexible Retina display to distinguish between a light tap and a deep press. It’s an entire computer architecture on a compact custom-designed chip, with a battery life of up to 18-hours. Where can you get it? www.apple.com.au Price: From AU$499 (not yet available in New Zealand)

Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource. 109

foreign exchanges


Each issue, we take a look at a foreign culture and point out a few pitfalls for the unwary.

Before you start The rapid economic move to become a valued member of the

Meeting agendas, if produced at all, will not necessarily

European Union put the country under enormous strain post the

be followed.

2008 recession. Portugal still has a relatively hard road ahead to recover from its crippling systemic debts. There is still a largely inefficient public sector, however private business is changing from a tradition of autocratic, family-run

Using first names can still be unusual for long-standing colleagues, so best to start with formal designations until advised otherwise.

businesses to more open and mixed business models where new

Watch out for

ideas are being encouraged.

A more individualistic as opposed to a co-operative approach. Team members expect to work on specific allocated tasks as

Be aware that

determined by a strong leader. Co-operative, open teams where

Portugal is predominately paternalistic, as is often found in strongly hierarchical cultures. Therefore, unless you are dealing

responsibility is shared are still quite rare.

with the subsidiary of a multinational, expect an extremely

The final word

centralised decision-making approach dominated by a few key

Although hierarchical, there is a strong relationship-oriented

individuals. Ensure you are speaking to the right people to avoid

culture when doing business, so it is important to get to know

wasting time.

your counterparts on a personal level.

Punctuality is variable and although you may be kept waiting for

Lunch and dinners are used for cementing relationship ties

some time, it is still best to arrive to meetings on time as a show

– but be wary of talking business unless raised by your

of respect and good intent.

Portuguese counterpart.

110 Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource. Source: www.worldbusinessculture.com

Image: Tram in Lisbon, Portugal

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info@brandhouse.co.nz www.brandhouse.co.nz 112 Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.


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Aue56utrdhgluxury magazine nz autumn winter 2015  

Aue56utrdhgluxury magazine nz autumn winter 2015  

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