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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE

JANUARY 2010

FEST INTENTIONS GET THE MOST OUT OF DUBAI SHOPPING FESTIVAL

spas 11onFinest the planet

THE GROVE CHIVA SOM BANYAN TREE AL AREEN BUSHMAN’S KLOOF SHANTI ANANDA SCHLOSS VELDEN

LAND OF THE WINTER SUN AN EXTRAORDINARY TRIP TO OKINAWA

WEST COAST SPECIAL

California dreaming From San Fran to the Napa Valley and from Yosemite to the O.C.

Produced in International Media Production Zone

Vive la resolution! How to turn your New Year’s travel dreams into reality

The pick of Paris

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The joys of the Cotswolds

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KWT The lowdown on Melbourne

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Adelphi pool, Melbou rne

JANUARY 2010 KANOO WORLD TRAVELLER

CONTENTS 7 16 18 26

AGENDA Everything you need to know about travel this month LEARN SOMETHING NEW Act on your New Year resolutions ESSENTIAL SELECTION The world’s very best spas reviews PICTURE THIS Two gorgeous travel pics to inspire you

31 CALIFORNIA The ultimate guide to West Coast holidays.

58 THE COTSWOLDS

This unashamedly bucolic slice of Old England has some surprises up its sleeve.

56 PARIS

Fall back in love with the city with our pick of the hotels, restaurants and more.

50 OKINAWA An eye-opening trip around Japan’s only tropical island.

13 DRIVETIME

Taking the Romantic Road through the castlestudded heart of Bavaria.

64 SEYCHELLES Oscar Wilde room at L’Hotel, Paris

Produced by: Hot Media Publishing FZ LLC Managing Director: Victoria Hazell-Thatcher Editorial Director: Rob Orchard Publishing Director: John Thatcher Advertisement Director: Chris Capstick Contributing Editor: Ele Cooper Designer: Jenni Dennis

Get ready to fall in love with a super suite at the glorious North Island resort.

Advertising enquiries chris@hotmediapublishing.com +971 4 369 0917 Editorial enquiries editorial@hotmediapublishing.com +971 4 364 2876 Cover: Courtesy of Getty Images Additional images from Photolibrary, iStockphoto and Design Hotels

14 DUBAI

The Shopping Festival hits town: here’s the best way to approach the bargains.

60 MELBOURNE

Prepare for the perfect visit to Australia’s second city with our local’s eye view.

Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from Hot Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. Hot Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in Kanoo World Traveller magazine. ‘California’, ‘Paris’, ‘The Cotswolds and ‘Melbourne’ features reprinted with kind permission of Sunday Times Travel.

May 2009 22,620 BPA Consumer Audit


AGENDA NEWS

13 DRIVE TIME 14 DUBAI SHOPPING FESTIVAL 16 LEARN SOMETHING NEW 18 WORLD’S BEST SPAS 26 PICTURE THIS

AGENDA

WHAT’S IN

WHAT’S NEW

WHAT’S ON

BAY WATCH Poetically set on the southern shores of the Red Sea, the Mövenpick Resort Tala Bay at Aqaba is the perfect base from which to soak up some winter sun or learn to scuba dive, and with the hotel’s buy two nights, get a third free promotion, there’s never been a better time to do it. Just book 28 days in advance and you will also be eligible for free daily breakfasts or a room upgrade. moevenpick.com. KWT

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AGENDA NEWS

NEW OPENING

STRAND UP

The most fashionable recent addition to the Manhattan hotel scene comes in the rather fabulous form of the Strand hotel. Its walls adorned with vintage Condé Nast photographs and each room individually customised and you can bet your bottom dollar it will swiftly become one of Gotham City’s hottest hangouts. The spaces were conceptualised by SATC’s set designer Lisa Knight, and the über-cool lobby features a stone-and-glass circular staircase and two-storey water wall. The Strand’s location is ideal: it’s just around the corner from the Empire State Building and on the doorstep of prime shopping streets, the Theatre District and Madison Square Gardens. Dining options include a courtyard restaurant, signature lounge the Alabaster, year-round greenhouse and pavement seating and The Top of The Strand, the rooftop from which to see and be seen. We predict it will be a magnet for Carrie Bradshaw types. thestrandnyc.com

RITZ CRACKER

Set on the Andaman coast, Krabi is one of the most spectacularly beautiful parts of Thailand (which is saying something) – and if your travelling style is more suitcase than backpack, the newly opened Ritz Carlton reserve at Phulay Bay is just the ticket. Villas and pavilions are the name of the accommodation game, and they come complete with private tropical gardens, flat-screen TVs, enormous bath tubs and walk-in wardrobes. Views are courtesy of the towering limestone karsts that make the region so breathtaking. If you’re feeling active and fancy venturing out of your little hideaway, ESPA offers a vitality pool and spacious relaxation areas as well as a tempting list of treatments. http://reserve.ritzcarlton.com

FIT FOR A RAJA With the opening of the Taj hotel, visitors to Cape Town can now enjoy truly regal accommodation. Spread across three buildings – the historic Temple Chambers, South African Reserve Bank and a brand new tower – the Taj retains its heritage features, including marble columns, vaulted ceilings and glass domes, while incorporating avant-garde design touches. The exquisite colonial-style rooms are immaculate and homely, featuring views of Table Mountain and the city rooftops. There’s an eclectic clutch of restaurants: Indian food at the Bombay Brasserie, international and local cuisine at The Grille and a dedicated oyster bar. There’s a lounge serving limited-edition cigars for winding down postdinner, too. Those seeking relaxation will also be well served by the tranquil Jiva Grande Spa, where the healing powers of Ayurveda will soothe away every bit of tension. tajcapetown.co.za.

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DATE FOR YOUR DIARY SIGN LANGUAGE 29

We’ve all been sent email circulars full of photos of crazy signs from around the world– but if you’re anywhere near as cynical as us, you’ll have presumed they were Photoshopped spoofs. Turns out, we were wrong, and to prove it, there will be an exhibition of them in Dubai this month. The free exhibition kicks off on January 28 at Festival Centre and will showcase the world’s 100 funniest signs, which range from the rude to the plain silly. Who knew art could be so entertaining?


AGENDA NEWS

5 OF THE BEST

DESIGNER HOTELS Fashion fanatics will love bedding down in these expertly-decorated spots…

5 Versace

1 Ralph Lauren

Donatella pulled out all the stops for the Palazzo Versace, sprawled on Australia’s Golden Coast. It’s a real slice of old-school Versace detailing: grandiose furniture, vast swathes of curtain fabric and rudely plump cushions combine to create a very regal take on comfort. The classic Italian look continues in the sumptuous spa and pool – we’re sure Gianni would have approved. palazzoversace.com

The American designer gave the Pineapple House hotel at Jamaica’s Round Hill resort a classic Ralph-over in 2004, with sandreflecting whites and mahogany-stained bamboo four-posters offset by tastefully restrained splashes of Caribbean colour. Free-standing bath tubs and beach views up the relaxation factor... roundhilljamaica.com

2 Christian Lacroix The now-bankrupt former king of extravagance cunningly injected a noticeably different atmosphere into each of the 17 bedrooms of the Hotel du Petit Moulin in Paris. Scandinavian fabrics, polka dot rugs, frou frou heart mirrors and graffiti-ed walls clash in an oh-so-artful cacophony of colour at this bijour spot. We can particularly recommend the moon fresco room – very cool indeed. paris-hotel-petitmoulin.com 10

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3 Missoni

Bold black and white are juxtaposed with jewel-bright colours in this designer hotspot on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Fab stripy headboards, cute green pot plants, space-age light shades and sleek wooden floors vye for the eye’s attention. After your walk-in rain shower, slip into the thoughtfully provided Missoni bathrobe and snug slippers, then simply lie back and drink it all in. If Edinburgh’s too far, no fear - a Kuwait property is opening soon. hotelmissoni.com

4 Armani

In case you hadn’t heard, global design legend Giorgio Armani’s very first foray into the hotel industry is opening in the Burj Dubai – the world’s tallest building – this month. We reckon it’s the hippest of the fashion hotels bunch, with rooms decked out with Armani Casa furnishings. The just-so mix of leather wall coverings, stone and zebrawood surfaces and rounded partitions ooze sophisticated elegance. And the views are spectacular. armanihotels.com


AGENDA DRIVE TIME

DRIVE TIME

FOUR DAYS

THE ROMANTIC ROAD, GERMANY

A lovely, 260 mile drive through the heart of the Bavarian countryside, which leads you from the German Alps to Franconia, the Tuscany of Germany. Along the way you’ll stop off in amazing mediaeval towns and at a series of unspoilt castles, including the glorious Neuschwanstein (pictured). Other major highlights include Rothenburg ob der Tauber, a mediaeval town encircled by an ancient wall; the Castle Hotel Colmberg (burg-colmberg.de); the picture perfect Auhsburg and the fabulously-named Pfaffenwinkel area, stuffed with UNESCO World Heritage sites. It’s a sizeable drive that you could get through in a day, but if you’re wise you’ll allow at least four days so you can take your time, enjoy the Bavarian hospitality and food and take at least a million pictures.

Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany


AGENDA HOW TO DO...

HOW TO DO…

DUBAI SHOPPING FESTIVAL Your insider’s guide to getting the most out of the bargain-tastic event 2

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Once again the region’s biggest retail extravaganza is upon us – Dubai Shopping Festival, which runs from January 28 to February 28, and which sees malls across the city slash their prices and offer tremendous promotions and brilliant raffles. Exhibitions., shows, entertainment and workshops for kids are on offer across the city and the evenings are lit up by free firework displays. This year there’s a new option on offer to the canny shopper, in the form of the recently-opened Red Line of the Dubai Metro, an exceptionally efficient and swish means of getting from one side of the city to the other. The Metro connects up four of the biggest malls in town, meaning you can zoom from one to the next with your purchases without having to brave the city’s notorious traffic. Here’s our battleplan for the perfect day’s DSF-ing…

1. BURJUMAN Start at BurJuman on Khalid Bin Waleed Street, more commonly known as Bank Street, in Bur Dubai. This spot is an old favourite among in-the-know Dubaians, and has the world’s highest concentration of luxury brands under one roof. Start with a lovely fresh croissant and a café crème at Paul before hitting the stores – this is the place to browse the racks at Chanel, Valentino, Prada, Vertu, TOD’s, Salvatore Ferragamo and scores more, including the excellent Saks Fifth Avenue.

2. DUBAI MALL Once you’re finished at BurJuman, step over to the 14

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subterranean Metro stop next to the mall and board a Jebel Ali-bound train. At time of press the Dubai Mall stop was not open – but rumour in the city had it that it would open in early January. So hopefully you should be able to just glide right in to this enormous, sparkly new mall. It’s a great place to lose yourself, popping in and out of stores and checking out the discounts. Particular areas of interest include the extensive, winding alleys of the in-house Gold Souk, the enormous Kinokuniya bookstore, the multi-floor Galleries Lafayette and – when you’re ready to let off some steam – the Olympicsized ice rink. Only in Dubai.

3. MALL OF THE EMIRATES Your next stop along the way is at Mall of the Emirates. You’ll no doubt be peckish after a gruelling morning of punishing your credit card, so take a late lunch at the Sezzam restaurant where you can choose from myriad cuisines and enjoy your meal overlooking the skiiers pounding down the snowcovered slopes of Ski Dubai. This mall is crammed with both high street and designer names: don’t miss a trip to shoppers’ favourite Harvey Nichols.

4. IBN BATTUTA MALL The Ibn Battuta Metro stop was not open by time of press but

should hopefully be up and running by the time DSF starts. If not then just go a couple of stops further and grab one of the dedicated buses back to the mall. Ibn Battuta is a nice place to end your shopping odyssey – it’s all on one level, so your feet get a bit of a break. It’s a very laidback place to wander round, and is themed around the travels of Ibn Battuta – you’ll be particularly impressed by the stunning dome in the Persian court, and the huge junk in the Chinese court. Once you’ve done your final round of shopping, finish the day with dinner on the terrace at the excellent Lime Tree Café and a slice or two of their legendary carrot cake.


AGENDA NEW YEAR PLANS

Ubud Hanging Gardens, Ritz Paris, sail boat, tango

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS Determined to keep your resolutions and learn something new in 2010? Here’s our pick of the top options for adding strings to your bow while enjoying a beautiful holiday…

1. LEARN TO SNAP

2. LEARN TO COOK

Matfen Hall Hotel in Northumberland in the UK (primahotels.co.uk/ matfen) is a beautiful old country seat, the perfect place to perfect your photography skills by snapping away in the extensive grounds. You’ll be helped along the way by photographer Wyn Barnes, who offers guests private tuition for $60 per hour (see wynbarnesimages.co.uk for more details).

Book a stay at the marvellous Ritz Paris (ritzparis.com) and you can sign up for classes at the Ritz Escoffier school where you’ll be treated to lessons by France’s finest chefs, giving you the perfect introduction to Gallic gastronomy. Expect plenty of demonstrations – and lots of tastings.

(shandrani-hotel.com) not only has a lovely stretch of beach and all the tropical gorgeousness you expect from a top Indian Ocean resort, it also has a sailing school where you can learn to sail. Once you’ve learned the ropes (and the booms and the tillers) you can get out on the crystalclear waters yourself.

3. LEARN TO SAIL

4. LEARN TO TANGO

The Shandrani Resort and Spa in Mauritius

Book yourself in to the Mansion Dandi Royal

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Tango Residential Academy in Buenos Aires (mansiondandiroyal.com). Here you stay in an Argentinian Art Nouveau mansion and you’ll get two hours of intensive tango tuition each day, and trips to tango clubs, (the ‘milongas’) each night.

5. LEARN TO PAINT The Ubud Hanging Gardens (orient-express. com) is a tranquil resort in Bali, located on the

rice terraces, where your accommodation takes the form of a private pool villa with an infinity plunge pool and views over the Ayung river and tropical mountains. While you’re there you should take classes with their traditional Balinese painter Dana, whose paintings adorn the walls and who will be happy to show you the perfect techniques to capture the local countryside on your canvas.


I F YOU ’ V E J UST JOI N E D A NOT H E R G OL F C LU B , YOU M IGH T NOT WA N T TO R E A D A N Y F U RT H E R .

One of Dubai’s most desirable golf clubs now has a unique limited offer on memberships, at a rate that could cause you some regret: • Only AED 28,500 annual subscription • No joining fee • Discounts at selected InterContinental hotel restaurants • Flexible payment plans are available on request And if that’s not enough to surprise you, there’s more - we also have the region’s only TaylorMade Performance Lab, floodlit practice areas, conference facilities, and five dining options run in true InterContinental style. All built around one of the most challenging courses in the region. For those who live golf, there’s simply no better deal. Terms and conditions apply. For further information or booking please visit www.albadiagolfclub.ae Phone: (04) 601 0200 Email: anne.ocampo@ichdfc.ae


THE WORLD’S BEST SPAS If you’re looking for a truly indulgent escape, read on for our insider’s guide to the most luxurious retreats on the planet…

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Shanti Ananda


AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Chiva Som

SHANTI ANANDA, Mauritius

CHIVA SOM, Hua Hin, Thailand

THE PROPERTY Nestled in 36 expansive acres of lush tropical gardens, with the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean lapping at its edges, Shanti Ananda is granted blissful privacy by the breathtaking wooded hills encircling it. Guests can stay in villas or suites and the resort offers a series of nature walks, meditation and yoga sessions. THE SPA A 70,000 square foot development set within a beautiful garden, with a salt water pool for Watsu therapy. Treatments focus heavily on Ayurveda, though Thalassotherapy and other international techniques are also on offer in the 25 treatment rooms. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT The 55-minute Abhyanga treatment, in which two therapists use the resort’s exclusive dosha-specific oil blends to give you a gorgeous whole-body massage. shantiananda.com

THE PROPERTY At this luxury health resort nestled in seven acres of lush gardens alongside the beautiful Thai Gulf guests are offered a wellness consultation on arrival, during which advisors will offer guidance on how to make the most of their stay. THE SPA The experience begins with a journey through the water therapy suites (including heated waterbeds), and then you can take your choice from over 150 traditional and contemporary treatments. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT The Chiva-Som Skin Haven Facial utilises Thai herbs, floral essences and gotu-kola extracts to refresh and hydrate your skin, leaving you feeling young and relaxed. chivasom.com.

The Chiva-Som Skin Haven Facial utilises Thai herbs, floral essences and gotu-kola extracts to refresh and hydrate your skin

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LUNAR CYCLE SP A

Schloss Velden

The lakefront setting creates the perfect ambiance for the Auriga Spa’s European treatments

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SCHLOSS VELDEN, Austria

BUSHMANS KLOOF, Western Cape, South Africa

THE PROPERTY World-renowned for centuries, this is where the elite flock for their dose of Alpine luxury. The exceptional service and chic contemporary décor make this boutique hotel the perfect haven for skiers who see a regal base as a necessity. THE SPA The lakefront setting creates the perfect ambiance for the Auriga Spa’s European treatment offerings, which incorporate Austrian traditions and organic ingredients. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT The spa bases its treatments on the lunar cycle so the treatment you have will depend on when you visit – but the New Moon is a great one to get: it begins with a foot massage and then you are given a seaweed and eucalyptus salt scrub followed by a seaweed wrap. A full-body rosemary and eucalyptus massage concludes the awakening experience. schlossveldencapella.com.

THE PROPERTY The ultimate destination for those wishing to escape normality, the lodge is set in breathtakingly untamed wilderness. It lies in the heart of a wildlife sanctuary for endangered species, where guests can observe zebras and ostriches from the comfort of their elegantly appointed suite or bedroom. THE SPA Using exclusive products from Africology, a South African anti-ageing treatment range, you can opt for an al fresco massage in a secluded rock shelter overlooking the tranquil valley, or head for the outdoor spa gazebo. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT The Healing Waters Rejuvenation Ceremony is performed in the stunning riverside gazebo. Indigenous carved sticks are used in a full-body Ghana Shea Butter massage which aims to absorb and purify negativity and redirect energy flow. bushmanskloof.co.za.


AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Taj Exotica Right: Peppers Palm Bay

Book the Drenched ritual and you will have a Billabong footbath and be scrubbed with river salt and desert lime

TAJ EXOTICA RESORT & SPA, Maldives

LA SULTANA, Marrakech, Morocco

PEPPERS PALM BAY, Whitsundays, Australia

THE PROPERTY Set on one of the Maldives’ largest lagoons, this tropical paradise is reachable in 15 minutes by private speedboat. The resort is spread along a pristine stretch of sand and interiors draw inspiration from the sublime natural beauty surrounding the palm-thatched villas. For ultimate decadence, stay in the Rehendi Presidential Suite, which is built over the water. THE SPA Tucked away at the far end of the sanctuary, the over-water treatment pavilions at the Jiva Grande Spa fan out around a central courtyard garden and each has a private sundeck. Décor is based on the Vastu philosophy, with natural materials creating understated elegance. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT The Signature Indian Royal Mud and Bathing Experience is fairly self-explanatory but what you might not have guessed is that it’s conducted in a sumptuous semi-outdoor suite complete with luxury hammam, luxuryexperience showers and outdoor baths overlooking the lagoon. tajhotels.com.

THE PROPERTY A sensual delight in the heart of the bustling Moroccan capital, La Sultana’s riads are resplendent with rich swathes of luxurious fabric, and delicate Eastern design touches juxtaposed with country-style European linens and modern furnishings. THE SPA With open-air massage cabins and balneotherapy baths, the Sultana Spa uses its Moroccan heritage to provide the most mindblowing treatments in the city. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT Combine a traditional hammam experience with a clay-based body wrap and you’ll never want to leave. lasultanamarrakech.com.

THE PROPERTY The ultimate couple’s hideaway: at this childfree resort you can stay in a cabin with direct access to the white sands and azure waters of the Great Barrier Reef-linked beach, or laze the afternoon away in a hammock deep within the rainforest gardens. THE SPA The Endota spa offers all-Australian organic treatments which, coupled with the idyllic setting, are guaranteed to wash away the stresses of everyday life. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT Book the Drenched ritual and you will have a Billabong footbath, be scrubbed with river salt and desert lime followed by locally grown honey exfoliants, get wrapped up in a yoghurt cocoon, have a scalp massage and finally be left to soak in an enormous tub. Heaven. peppers.com.au.

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AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

BANYAN TREE AL AREEN, Bahrain THE PROPERTY The villas at this opulent retreat come complete with swimming pools, jet pools and private gardens. The oasis-like community complements its desert setting beautifully and the majlis-like décor makes for truly breathtaking Arabian nights. THE SPA At 100,000sq ft, it’s the largest spa in the Middle East and prides itself on fusing global treatment cultures, encapsulated within four spaces: the Banyan Tree Bahrain Spa, the Hydrothermal Garden, the Garden Hammam and the Health Club. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT The Banyan Herbal Pouch Massage, which uses East-meets-West techniques and a herbal pouch dipped in sesame oil. banyantree.com.

“The oasis-like community of the Banyan Tree Al Areen complements its desert setting beautifully” KWT

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AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Set in a 300-acre estate which formed the backdrop for George Stubbs’ paintings, the Grove is the perfect country retreat ANASSA, Cyprus

The Grove Below: Anassa

THE GROVE, Hertfordshire, UK

CANYON RANCH HOTEL & SPA, Miami Beach, USA

THE PROPERTY Set in an exquisite 300-acre estate which formed the backdrop for George Stubbs’ famous paintings, the Grove is the perfect country retreat: glorious, immaculate yet unstuffy. The décor incorporates a tasteful blend of old and new, with porcelain chandeliers sparkling against suede and silk fabrics, and the championship golf course is second to none. THE SPA Sequoia is a health spa offering intuitive ESPA treatments and specialising in Ayurvedic therapy. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT If you’re the type who knows what you want, opt for the Sequoia time ritual, in which your therapist will create a sequence of face and body rituals specifically tailored to your needs. thegrove.co.uk.

THE PROPERTY The boutique hotel’s views of the iconic beach are unparalleled, especially when taken from the blissful rooftop swimming pool. The David Rockwell-designed lobby glitters with shell fragments and guests can rest their heads on 400-count Dreamcotton sheets. THE SPA The Aquavana thermal suites offer a range of space-age-sounding options: sample the herbal laconium, the experiential rains and the crystal steam room before cooling off in the igloo. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT The de-stress chakra ritual is essential for anyone who’s feeling frazzled by life’s frenetic pace – and if your partner needs to unwind too, you can have your treatments side by side. canyonranchmiamibeach.com.

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THE PROPERTY A stunning hotel with private villas set on the tranquil Cypriot coast, this is a genuinely tranquil and calming place to visit. Pretty gardens with secret footpaths make the perfect setting for a late-afternoon stroll and the villas, which have panoramic sea views, are decked out in sensuous, floaty fabrics. THE SPA A recently refurbished Roman-style complex which uses Organic Pharmacy products and offers everything from one-off Thalassotherapy treatments to ten-day detox programmes. MUST-HAVE TREATMENT Using only indigenous ingredients, the Anassa Signature Cypriot Scrub incorporates organic local virgin olive oil, sea salt and oregano to leave your skin moisturised, soft and smooth. anassa.com.cy.


PICTURE THIS

EILEAN DONAN, SCOTLAND The castle of Eilean Donan dominates the skyline in the beautiful island of Loch Duich in the Highlands. It’s got a history that stretches back over 700 years and has been used as a bulwark against Vikings, the English and the Spanish. The feudal home of the Clan Macrae, it is beautifully decorated and home to a lovely fountain built in honour of the Macrae men who died in the First World War. KWT

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IMAGE: PHOTOLIBRARY

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PICTURE THIS

SELJALANDFOSS WATERFALL. ICELAND In this country where extraordinary views loom up around every bend in the road and natural wonders are ten-a-penny, Seljalandfoss still has the ability to turn heads. This powerful waterfall, located midway between Skogafoss and Selfoss, is two hundred feet tall and has a small space behind so you can slip round the back of the raging water.

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IMAGE: PHOTOLIBRARY

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Mayfair Mayfairisisthe theheart heartof ofLondon London Brown’s Brown’sisisthe theheart heartof ofMayfair. Mayfair. Mayfair is the hearthome-away-from-home. of London This Thischic chichotel hoteloffers offersthe theperfect perfecthome-away-from-home. Brown’s the heart of Boasting Boastingluxurious luxurious rooms roomsis and and suites suites that thatyou youMayfair. will willnever neverwant wanttotoleave, leave, outstanding outstandingdining diningthat thatyou youwill willnever neverforget forgetand andheavenly heavenlyspa spatreatments, treatments, This chic hotelisisoffers theaddress perfect home-away-from-home. Brown’s Brown’s the theonly only addressyou youneed needininLondon. London. Boasting luxurious rooms and suites that you will never want to leave, outstanding dining that you will never forget and heavenly spa treatments, Brown’s is the only address you need in London. Albermarle AlbermarleStreet, Street,London, London,W1S W1S4BP 4BP Tel: Tel:020 0207493 74936020 6020Fax: Fax:020 0207493 74939381 9381 E-mail: E-mail:reservations.browns@roccofortecollection.com reservations.browns@roccofortecollection.com www.roccofortecollection.com www.roccofortecollection.com Albermarle Street, London, W1S 4BP Tel: 020 7493 6020 Fax: 020 7493 9381


CALIFORNIA

TOTAL GUIDE

California

Sun, sea and sophistication – over 19 pages, we’ve got the Golden State covered 32 GOLDEN GIRL The beaches, the buzz: San Francisco shines

40 AMERICAN CLASSICS A famous five of Cali encounters – made real

36 GRAND NATIONALS Which West Coast park will you go wild in?

44 EASY RIDER Head out on the (Pacific Coast) Highway

California feature reproduced with permission from the Sunday Times Travel

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Golden Girl Brains, beauty, brawn… and even cupcakes. San Fran’s got it all, says Katie Bowman

C

hicago would be a big bowl of calorific comfort food – maybe meatloaf, or macaroni cheese. New York would be a slice of pizza: greasy, but just what you fancy after a night on the tiles. Miami, a platter of tuna sashimi – it tastes good at the time, but leaves your stomach rumbling an hour later. And San Francisco? Yum. San Fran would be surf and turf: the zingy freshness of king shrimp alongside melt-in-your-mouth fillet steak, with a naughty dollop of creamy mash. It’s the perfect meal, and the perfect city: with a little taste of everything you fancy – and all the nourishment you need to keep you satisfied. San Francisco has – to use a phrase beloved by tourist boards and sycophantic women’s magazines alike – got it all. The ingredients are all there: culture, history, food, beaches, sophistication, sass. Go for a long weekend and you’ve done the lot – not like New York, where you might hanker after green space, or Miami, with its minimal culture. You want Arts? Try Foreign Cinema in Mission, a neighbourhood that’s one-third alternative, one-third Latino, one-third leftovers. The founders of Foreign Cinema don’t want their audience reverentially watching Polanski in popcorn-free silence, but instead project European movies on to the restaurant wall, while each dining table has its own retro speaker, as they used to at the old drive-ins. It’s up to you: gaze or gorge. Then there are San Francisco’s icons: those sights that need to be ticked off, if you’re to feel you’ve really seen the city. These usually involve epic queues, vicious entry fees, prohibitively pricey bottled water, and constipated gift shops (people keep going 32

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in, but never leave). Unless, that is, you’re talking about the Golden Gate Bridge… The zealous folks at Blazing Saddles are the folks you need to see. Here, in an open garage on a picture-postcard clapboardlined hill straight from Bullit, a team wearing canary-yellow shorts hires out bicycles to thick-thighed tourists. The ‘Bike the Bridge’ map (free with said bike) takes you down to Fisherman’s Wharf and along the waterfront, past lithe joggers, yachtsmen and seagulls the size of labradors. Serendipitously (for a city so hilly it looks like a graph of national

“It’s time to take on the Bridge: there’s 2.7km of it, yet it’s so exhilarating, you’ll wish it measured double that” debt), this route is actually fairly flat – and with every pedal turn, that heart-stopping red icon comes closer into view. (Don’t be tempted to take a photo yet; the best view is from Crissy Fields, a grassy realm just before the main attraction.) Half an hour’s cycle later, it’s time to take on the Bridge itself: there’s 2.7km of it, yet it’s so exhilarating and has such a vista, you’ll wish it measured double that. It’s just you, the bridge, the sea, and the sky. After Golden Gate, freewheel the last three kilometres down to Sausalito, a coastal village from which ferries sail back to San Francisco. As waterfront Californian towns go, Sausalito rates sky-high in the gorgeousness stakes: it’s like Dawson’s Creek without the depressive teens. I chained The Golden Gate Bridge


CALIFORNIA

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Clockwise from this image: Point Reyes, Alamo Square Victorian Houses, Cable Car, Alcatraz, San Fran skyline

“Everybody’s dish comes with a free side order of Pacific views and service with a smile.” up my bike outside Lappert’s old-fashioned ice-cream parlour, where all active military service personnel get a free scoop. It was cute incarnate: family fishing boats bobbing in the harbour; mom-and-pop stores selling practical items such as wire-bristled brooms and rivets; even an urgent fire engine rushing through town looked like a museum piece and sounded as if it were from Trumpton. Seems San Francisco has a sense of humour, too. Just buy tickets to Beach Blanket Babylon if you want proof. This revue show, in a beautiful old North Beach theatre (the longest-running show in the US), is 92 minutes of relentless, unabashed, no-holdsbarred national self-mimicry. It is camp, it is chaotic, and the storyline is tenuous to say the least, but nowhere else will you see ‘Barack Obama’ sing on stage alongside Sarah Palin, Britney Spears and Snow White. Maybe the food’s bad then? Perhaps that’s San Francisco’s Achilles heel? Wrong. It’s so good, in fact, that the public transport offerings are gourmet. The city’s Ferry Building on the Embarcadero waterfront, too, is pregnant with good grub: delicious, smelly Camembert at Cowgirl Creamery cheese shop; cupcakes drowning in strawberrypink frosting at Miette Patisserie; gourmet meats by the foot at Boccalone; and warm baguettes sold by wholesome-looking girls at Acme Bread. It’s a fantastic place for picnic fodder – the aforementioned are all stalls and sell food to take away. Or, if you prefer a tabled affair, there’s Beach Chalet at Ocean Beach; it’s like walking into a classic American postcard – but with hot food. Big-haired grandmothers eat platters of ribs, while kids attack ice-cream 34

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sundaes and dads put paid to a piece of pie. Everybody’s dish comes with a free side order of Pacific views and service with a smile. On my last morning in the city, I went walkabout with Todd from Connecticut, Graham from Philadelphia, and Lyle from Atlanta. By lunchtime, I was spent. My calf muscles ached and I felt as if I’d just done an hour on the stairclimber. Back home, I stepped on the bathroom scales, dreading the numerical consequences of my San Franciscan weekend. And yet… I’d lost two kilograms! What with its pretty hills and iconic bridges, San Fran had even tricked me into losing weight. SF really has got it all. WHERE TO EAT Piperade (1015 Battery Street; piperade.com; mains from $22) is a good local spot if you’re in the mood for Basque: try sautéed calamari in ink sauce. Zuni Café (1658 Market Street; zunicafe.com; mains from $12) is a cult favourite, serving only seasonal produce: spaghetti with nettles one month, sirloin with mushrooms the next. WHAT TO SEE Alcatraz Cruises leave from Pier 33 (alcatrazcruises.com; tickets from $32pp). The audio tour, spoken by real ex-convicts and prison officers, is excellent. Beach Blanket Babylon (678 Green Street; beachblanketbabylon.com; tickets from $40; closed Mon and Tues) is a raucous must-do; the theatre itself is a spectacle, while the revue show is hilarious. Blazing Saddles (2715 Hyde Street and various other locations; blazingsaddles.com) rents bicycles from $34 per day; or try the tandem bikes or road-worthy Go-Carts. The most famous trams run from Market Street to Fisherman’s Wharf, via Union Square. However, tourist queues can be epic; much better to experience the just-as-beautiful trains that run from the Embarcadero to Castro.


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Grand nationals From the twisty trunks of Joshua Tree to Yosemite’s towering peaks, California’s National Parks have to be seen in the flesh. Richard Green delves deep into the Big Four.

1. Yosemite, Mariposa County HIGHLIGHTS: This is some of the most sublime scenery on Earth, where waterfalls crash, sequoia trees soar, and massive granite peaks silently dominate the landscape. It’s more muscular than the Alps, more verdant than the Pyrenees, and it’s the classic image of America’s great outdoors. The mighty El Capitan and the Half Dome are instantly recognisable, and make a fabulous backdrop to hikes in the valley – or drive to Tunnel View and you’ll see the magnificent vista of their cliffs bookending the valley. Then there are Yosemite Falls – with a drop of 739m, they’re the tallest in North America – and Mirror Lake, made famous by Ansel Adams.

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MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR VISIT: Up to 20,000 people a day visit the park in high summer and on holiday weekends, so if you can, visit out of season. If it is busy, make use of the free and frequent shuttle buses that fan out from the village to the main valley sites. You have to hike here – it’s terrific walking country – and there are 1,300km of trails to choose from; ask a ranger to help you escape the crowds (by going the extra kilometre from Tunnel View to Inspiration Point, perhaps). Stay the night in or near to the valley, but allow time to take the Tioga Road (open summer only), which is rarely busy: it leads to the idyllic Tuolumne Meadows.

PRACTICALS: Yosemite Village is 300km from San Francisco, or 500 from LA. The park is open year-round and most of the valley roads are kept open; check ahead for road conditions at the higher elevations. Yosemite’s accommodation gets booked out in summer and holiday weekends. If you can get a room, the most distinctive by far is The Ahwahnee (yosemitepark.com; rooms from $460, room only), which is a wooden and river rock fantasy built in 1927, with floor-to-ceiling windows. For luxury camping, Curry Village Camp has nicely furnished tents from $250 a night (smaller models from $100; contact details as above).


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2. Redwood, Humboldt County HIGHLIGHTS: Like the world’s sentinels, the giant redwood trees stand guard over some of our most ancient forests. Even the shortest stroll through a grove of these trees is a deeply serene and impressive experience, while the cool misty air and needle-cushioned forest floors make for exquisitely comfortable walking. The best short walks are to Lady Bird Johnson Grove and the Fern Canyon Trail. Another must is the stunning Coastal Drive, which twists through swathes of redwoods, while giving glimpses of the Pacific Ocean swells beyond. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR VISIT: The Redwood National Park is an 80km sliver of northern Californian coast, bisected north/ south by the trusty Highway 101. Entering from the south, slow down at Orick, or you might just miss it, and call in at the visitor centre. Explore away from Highway 101, too: the Newton B Drury Scenic Parkway is a dreamy detour through redwoods and elk-

filled meadows. To go deep into the forest, take the gravel Howland Hill Road, which winds through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. For a longer, less-visited hike, the four-kilometre Tall Trees Grove trek deposits you at the 100m-high Nugget Tree. PRACTICALS: The southern entrance is about 480km north of San Francisco, Highway 101 all the way. Note that some roads are snowbound in winter, so call ahead for the current conditions. Apart from five campsites $15 per night), the only place to stay in the park is the Redwood National Park Hostel (Highway 101; norcalhostels.org/redwoods; rooms from $72, room only; open Mar-Oct). It’s a cutesy pioneer homestead built in 1877, squeezed between tall trees and the beach. Two hours’ drive south of the park, still in redwood country, Benbow Inn (benbowinn. com; rooms from $120, room only) was once popular with the early Hollywood stars. For more information, visit nps.gov/redw; park entrance is free.

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Joshua Tree, Mojave Desert HIGHLIGHTS: Here, it’s all about those weird spiky trees. And if the trees seem outlandish, wait till you see the terrain: giant clumps of once-molten granite piled into beautifully contoured shapes (like solidified lava lamp liquid). Just south of the main entrance is a trio of awesome outcrops – Jumbo Rocks, Skull Rock, and the Wonderland of Rocks – the latter, 31sq km of scattered boulders and Joshua tree groves. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR VISIT: The park is an easy day trip from Palm Springs. Once through the entrance, Park Boulevard covers 100km from the Oasis of Mara visitor centre, looping south to the park’s western entrance (near Joshua Tree Village). It passes the above must-sees and the 10km detour to Keys View – a steep lookout over a section of the San Andreas Fault called the Coachella Valley. If you

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have time, take a walk with Joshua Tree Hiking Adventures (joshuatreehike.com; half-day guided hikes from $60pp), or try a Desert Adventures Jeep Eco-Tour (red-jeep. com; $150pp half day). Want to hug some granite? Joshua Tree Rock Climbing School (joshuatreerockclimbing.com) will organise a day’s tuition and equipment from around $150pp. PRACTICALS: Joshua Tree is 65km northeast of Palm Springs and 200km east of LA. There is nowhere to stay inside the park, but just outside is Twentynine Palms Inn (29palmsinn.com; rooms from $80, B&B), a cluster of cabins with a lovely pool. Or the Joshua Tree Inn (joshuatreeinn.com) has motel-style rooms from $100, room only. Entrance fee $18 per vehicle (seven days). For more details, see nps.gov/jotr or joshuatree.org.


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Death Valley, Mojave Desert HIGHLIGHTS: A beautifully inhospitable place, Death Valley is a vast desert bowl that dips to 85m below sea level at the scorched salt flats of Badwater, and soars to 3,368m at the top of Telescope Peak. It’s an exhibition of extreme geology, where time and temperature have forged the earth into incredible shapes and colours, like at the technicolour Zabriskie Point and Artist’s Palette. It’s a barren place, but that hasn’t stopped man from making his mark: from eerie ghost towns to Scotty’s Castle, a ludicrously isolated mansion. MAKE THE MOST OF YOUR VISIT: If arriving from Las Vegas, get a spectacular introduction by climbing to the summit of Dante’s View – an amazing 1,670m-high lookout point. If heading in from LA, stop at the Ballarat ghost town in Panamint Valley. Either way, the park is too big for a day trip. Make the tiny hamlet of Furnace Creek (pop: 31) your base. If time is short, drive south to Zabriskie Point, Artist’s Palette, the Natural Bridge, Badwater, and Dante’s View. With two

full days, head north and walk around the remains of the Harmony Borax Works, visit the Salt Creek Interpretive Trail, and push on 50km to Scotty’s Castle. Keep your eye out for wagon tracks made by pioneers – they’re guaranteed to give you goose bumps. PRACTICALS: It’s a 190km drive to Furnace Creek from Vegas, 470km from LA. Everything costs more inside the valley, so stock up on supplies and petrol before you enter, and carry lots of water. There are nine campsites in the park (from $15 per night), but avoid pitching in summer when temperatures can reach 49ºC. There are only four hotels in the park. Poshest is Furnace Creek Inn (furnacecreekresort.com; rooms from $400, room only; closed mid-May to mid-Oct). The adjacent Furnace Creek Ranch (details as above; rooms from $160, room only) is open year-round and shares the Inn’s facilities. Stovepipe Wells (00 1 760 786 2387, stovepipewells.com; rooms from $100, room only) is a good budget option. Entrance fee $24 per vehicle (seven days).

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American classics Five west coast icons – and how to do them. By Elizabeth Woodson

THE DESERT RETREAT: PALM SPRINGS Dream Trip: One of many odd things about California is that you can be jogging along the Pacific shore in the morning – and, by afternoon, be hiking a scorched desert trail. Even the oasis city of Palm Springs, just two hours’ drive east of Los Angeles, has an otherworldly feel: here, you have the eerie Joshua Tree National Park on the edge of town (nps.gov/jotr; see previous feature for more on California’s National Parks), where you can walk winding paths, try rockclimbing or take an off-road 4WD tour with Desert Adventures (desertadventures.rezgo. com; from $144pp). Even weirder-looking is the wind turbine farm on Palm Springs’ outskirts – as if aliens have landed in the desert. Yet the town itself is a retreat in the true sense: Hollywood stars have escaped here since the days of the Rat Pack – and still do (hence the clutch of chic hotels). And it’s all about old-time glamour – from the mid-century- modern buildings, to the swingers on the golf courses who still wear plus fours… Dream Sleep: Ace Hotel and Swim Club (acehotel.com; rooms from $120, room only) takes the desert-camping theme and runs with it: canvas-covered walls, steamer trunks and vintage copies of National Geographic. Another design fave is Korakia Pensione (korakia.com; rooms from $240, B&B), a tiny kasbah-chic retreat. Or stay in Old Blue Eyes’ former home, Twin Palms– yours for the night for just $5,000 (sleeps eight; sinatrahouse.com). THE THEME PARK THRILLER: SAN DIEGO Dream Trip: California has more theme parks than even Florida, and the fun-time 40

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capital is sunny San Diego – a laid-back, family-friendly city, with a park to suit every mood. At Seaworld (seaworld.com; adults $80, children $60), kids can swim with dolphins and see Shamu’s West Coast incarnation; while at San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park (sandiegozoo.org; adults $44, children $30), they can get (almost) as close to the carnivores of Africa – with an open-top, after-dark safari experience throughout summer. All ages will love Legoland (legoland.com; adults $76, children $64), crammed with coasters, water slides, and more than 15,000 Lego models; and Balboa Park (balboapark.org) will be a hit with brainy offspring – it’s home to elaborate gardens and 15 museums. Traditionalists, meanwhile, will swoon over seafront Belmont Park (belmontpark.com; adults $24, children $16), with its old-fashioned wooden rollercoaster, tilt-a-whirl ride and games alley. Dream Sleep: The red-gabled Hotel del Coronado (hoteldel.com; rooms from $360, B&B) – famously a backdrop for Some Like It Hot – is one of the few hotels in San Diego right on the beach. Or, up in North County, try the Spanish-style Grand Del Mar (granddelmar.com; rooms from $480, room only). THE FOODIE FANTASY: NAPA Dream Trip: Is it wrong to fly thousands of miles for a short rib sandwich? Not when it’s this good. Napa is where you’ll find America’s tastiest sarnie. Here, local farmers are king, and it shows: in Yountville, there are six Michelin stars on one block alone. Most belong to chef Thomas Keller, who focused international attention on Napa in 1994 when he opened The French Laundry (frenchlaundry.com); reservations at the


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“Take coffee at the Rooftop Garden at Peninsula Beverly Hills or hang out by the Swarovski crystal-encrusted pool at the Thompson” restaurant are still tough to come by 15 years on. Easier, perhaps, is his casual brasserie Bouchon (bouchonbistro.com), part of the mini-culinary empire Keller has established in the city (he has four restaurants here; another is on the way). A few minutes north, just off Highway 29 in St Helena, is Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen (cindysbackstreetkitchen. com), a homey cafe where Cindy Pawlcyn serves Napa comfort food: wood-roasted short rib sandwiches with gremolata spread, and crispy flatbreads with a guacamole dip. Budding chefs should book time at the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone (ciachef.edu/california). As well as its own restaurant, it runs cooking classes and demos. In Napa town itself there’s the Oxbow Public Market (oxbowpublicmarket.com), a gourmet food hall lined with charcuterie shops, butchers and bakers. And for some of the best southern cooking this side of the Mississippi, try the fried chicken dinner at Sol Bar, at the Solage Calistoga hotel (solagecalistoga.com). Dream Sleep: Calistoga Ranch (1 707 254 2800, www.calistogaranch.com; rooms from $750, room only) is holiday camp for grownups: 46 shingled cottages that have fireplaces and outdoor showers, in a secluded canyon with an excellent lakefront restaurant and spa. More affordable beds can be found in Sonoma Valley: try the Gaige House (gaige.com, rooms from $260, B&B), which occupies a lovely stretch of country near the Jack London State Park. Book one of the new Zen Suites, aptly named for their ryokan styling, granite tubs and Japanese gardens. THE CITY SNAPSHOT: Los Angeles Dream Trip: LA may have Hollywood, but it’s also home to alternative neighbourhoods, a 42

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burgeoning arts scene, and some of the best shopping Stateside – proof there’s more to see in the City of Angels than just Britney. Kick off with the Broad Contemporary Art Museum, a new Renzo Piano-designed addition to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (lacma.org), where the eye candy is more along the lines of Andy Warhol and Jasper Johns than LiLo and Paris. Or, wander up Abbot Kinney Boulevard, a bohemian stretch a few blocks east of Venice Beach, lined with outdoor cafes and cutesy shops – among them the boutique perfumery Strange Invisibles (siperfumes.com/sip). There’s glamour, too, when you want it – just head to any one of the new rooftop cafes. A coffee perhaps, at the swish Rooftop Garden at Peninsula Beverly Hills (peninsula.com); or hanging out by the Swarovski crystalencrusted pool at ABH at the Thompson Beverly Hills (thompsonhotels.com); or lazing on a chaise at the Mondrian West Hollywood’s Skybar (mondrianhotel.com), where there’ll be as many stars in the crowd as in the sky. Then take a cab ‘Downtown’ to LA’s Financial District, where you’ll find the made-for-themovies LA Standard hotel (we’ve lost count of the number of films it’s starred in, it’s so good-looking). Not only does it flaunt the requisite rooftop bar and pool, but it has its very own cinema, perfectly positioned for swimmers (standardhotels.com). Dream Sleep: Beverly Hills has seen a few glamorous new openings recently, but our bet is still on an old standby: the very urbane, very discreet Peninsula Beverly Hills (as before; rooms from $700, room only), five blocks west of Rodeo Drive in a building modelled on a French chateau. Closer to the beach, check in at the new Terranea resort (terranea.com; rooms from $300, room only), a sprawling, Mediterranean-style affair on

Clockwise from this image: The Thompson Beverly Hills, The Montage Laguna Beach and its lap pool, The Solage Calistoga, Peninsula Beverly Hills


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the Palos Verde peninsula, 15 minutes south of the airport. THE BEACH BEAUTY: Orange County Dream Trip: Strung between San Diego and Los Angeles, Orange County (or ‘the OC’) is California’s answer to the French Riviera: 65km of soap-opera-size mansions, laidback beachfront communities, and plenty of beach-picnic territory. The best way to experience it is by car, on the Pacific Coast Highway as it winds along the shoreline (see next feature for more on this road). Start in the south, at Laguna Beach – a 10km stretch lined with photogenic bluffs and canyons. Laguna has long been a destination for artists, and the small indie galleries are full of their works; it’s also home to one of California’s best beaches, Crystal Cove. South of here, Dana Point is the OC’s St Tropez, with its mega-yachts lining the dock, then there’s Newport Beach in the north. But for that classic California beach experience, head further up the coast to Huntington Beach. It has the pier, the bronze-skinned surfers, even the International Surfing Museum (surfingmuseum.org) – no wonder it’s called Surftown USA. Dream Sleep: The Montage Laguna Beach (montagelagunabeach.com; rooms from $700, room only) sits atop a coastal bluff, overlooking a pristine white-sand beach. Inside, stylish rooms are outfitted with artwork by prominent ‘plein air’ artists (that’s California’s Impressionism). Surfing’s the theme at Huntington Beach’s new Shorebreak Hotel (shorebreakhotel.com; rooms from $270, room only), just steps from the sand. Rooms done up in beachy blue-and-white come with photos of wave-riders in action. KWT

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Easy rider Cruising the Pacific Coast Highway in a convertible is as simple as it is spectacular, says Will Donnelly

Who will you be when you take on California’s most thrilling road trip? The wind-in-your-hair hipster, down low in a continental sports coupé? Or moody in shades, riding high in a pumped-up pick-up? Or Mummy and Daddy Cool, with kids in tow and an SUV urban chariot? On the Pacific Coast Highway you can be whoever you want to be – this is the road trip that makes California Dreamin’ a reality. The highway itself measures 1,055km (officially it’s ‘California State Route 1’), but the most famous stretch links the celebrity glamour of Los Angeles with the funky bohemia of San Francisco (around the 800km mark). Best news: it can be experienced over the space of a leisurely week, unravelling along the ocean in a series of west coast fantasies – surfer’s beaches, rural regions, orange groves, giant redwoods and all. Here’s how… 44

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“Santa Barbara is the most sophisticated city in California – a rare American conjunction of money, taste and restraint” DAYS ONE AND TWO You can happily spend a couple of days following the ‘PCH’ – as you will learn to call it – along LA’s oceanfront. Start in Long Beach, where you can visit the old Queen Mary, with its memories of elegant Atlantic crossings. Up at Hermosa Beach, hang with surfer dudes by the sea, or chill out with the cool kids at the Lighthouse Cafe (thelighthousecafe.net) – a café, restaurant and live-music venue with a line-up that runs from jazz to reggae, via surfer rock and indie acts. North of Manhattan Beach, the highway ducks beneath the runways of LAX airport to emerge in Venice Beach, home of all that is weird, wacky and muscular. Cruise along the ocean through trendy Santa Monica, where you can ride the vintage Ferris wheel on the pier or hunt for bargains along the Third Street Promenade, to Pacific Palisades and on to Malibu, home to film stars and media moguls. At 17985 Pacific Coast Highway, you will find the Getty Villa (getty.edu). Not to be confused with the J Paul Getty Museum in Brentwood, the villa sits on a bluff overlooking the ocean, and features Roman and Greek antiquities. Don’t miss the Statue of a Victorious Youth (which looks a bit like Leonardo di Caprio), one of the world’s few remaining life-sized Greek bronzes. Most of Malibu consists of private estates and security gates, so the Barbra Streisand Center (lamountains.com) comes as a pleasant surprise. In 1993 Babs donated the rambling property to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Check out the 46

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Clockwise from this image: Santa Barbara, aerial view of The Pacific highway, Manhattan Beach, Santa Ynez Valley


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palatial grounds and houses that Funny Girl – and her very big voice – made possible. At least one meal in LA should be taken in your car at In-N-Out Burger, a retro drive-in diner in Westwood Village (in-n-out.com). Stay at the fabulous Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica (shuttersonthebeach.com; rooms from $690, room only) to rub shoulders with the rich and famous. Or avoid them at the Best Western Gateway Santa Monica (bestwestern.com; rooms from $240, B&B). DAY THREE Fill the tank with cheap petrol (currently around $1 a litre), fire up your Beach Boys CD and head out on PCH, past oceanfront villas, palm trees and roaring surf. Beyond Malibu the long tentacles of LA begin to lose their grip, and the open road takes you to Santa Barbara in a couple of sunny hours. Santa Barbara is the most sophisticated city in California – a rare American conjunction of money, taste and restraint. This is where celebrities come when they tire of being celebrities, and want to live the good life – one of permanent summer, Spanish colonial architecture, and boutiques selling a hundred different kinds of soap. In one direction lie the Santa Ynez Mountains; in the other, the Pacific Ocean, barely five minutes from downtown, with a golden beach that goes on forever. Check out the early Spanish mission (sbmission.org), one of the largest in the state. The fortress-like structure is a memorial to the missionaries who brought faith and trousers to the local Chumash Indians. Unfortunately they also brought flu and smallpox, and 4,000 Indian converts lie buried in the mission cemetery. Santa Barbara has great restaurants the way Kansas has corn: check out the ahi tuna, seared scallops and Pacific salmon. Dine at Bouchon (bouchonsantabarbara. com; dinner from $100pp), a classy culinary delight. Or try the Hungry Cat (thehungrycat. KWT

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“Stop off in San Luis Obispo, home to the magnificent Madonna Inn which is to decorative excess what Niagara Falls is to a lawn sprinkler” com; mains from $30): stylish, contemporary, and heavy on the seafood. Book a room with Pacific views at Hotel Oceana (hotel oceanasantabarbara.com; rooms from $260, room only), a beachfront property with bright and breezy rooms, lush gardens and two pools. Or get into cowboy mode at Alisal Ranch (alisal.com; rooms from $620, half board), where you can go horse-riding and fishing, play tennis and golf, or chill out in the spa. DAY FOUR Abandon the coast temporarily for Highway 154, taking you over the Santa Ynez Mountains into wide-open ranch country. Do lunch in wonderful Los Olivos, a twostreet town where the hardware stores have become boutiques and the local diner is Los Olivos Cafe (losolivos cafe.com; lunch from $20), a gourmand’s delight. Heading back to the coast, you pass through John Steinbeck’s California – vast tracts of vegetable farms, industrial-sized orchards and migrant labour. In Guadalupe, which looks like a ’50s border town, Mexicans sit outside the Banco Centrale with their hats tipped over their eyes, waiting for payday. An hour later you are on the beach at Pismo, where surfers ride big waves and unreasonably fit people play volleyball on an endless white beach. Should you come this way between late November and March, don’t miss Monarch Butterfly Grove (monarchbutterfly.org), where millions of migrating monarch butterflies winter, clustered in the eucalyptus and pine trees like strange fruit. If you feel you missed out on the expected dose of kitsch in LA, stop off in San Luis Obispo, home to the magnificent Madonna Inn (madonnainn.com; rooms from $230, room only). The inn is to decorative excess what Niagara Falls is to a lawn sprinkler. With names like Cavemen, Oriental Fantasy and 48

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Showboat, each unique room proves there is no such thing as too much. DAY FIVE Continuing north, in less than an hour you’ll reach San Simeon and Hearst Castle (hearstcastle.com; tours from $24; bookk in advance), home to William Randolph Hearst, the man immortalised by Orson Welles as the main character in Citizen Kane. Plundering European castles, classical temples and antique showrooms, Hearst created an architectural fantasy of unbridled excess where, through the ’20s and ’30s, the cream of Hollywood danced until dawn. The numbers say it all: 165 rooms, 41 fireplaces, 38 bedrooms, 61 bathrooms and more than 680,000 visitors a year. When you tire of all that materialism, chill out with protected colonies of winsome elephant seals who gather on the secluded beaches at Piedras Blancas, six kilometres north of San Simeon (elephantseal.org). You are now embarking on the most beautiful and iconic stretch of PCH – Big Sur, 110km of spectacular coastline, where condors circle precipitous headlands to a soundtrack of thundering waves. You might spot blue and humpback whales in summer, or grey whales in winter. When the forests push down to the coast, it’s time to get out of the car and hike into Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (parks. ca.gov), walking deep among the redwoods to rivers that pool in sun-struck swimming holes. Big Sur Lodge (bigsurlodge.com; rooms from $260, room only) is right inside the park. DAY SIX A leisurely cruise through the Monterey Peninsula starts with Carmel, famous for electing Clint Eastwood as mayor. It is the kind of town – all designer boutiques, twee tea shops and galleries – where Dirty Harry would be arrested for loitering. Carmel also

Clockwise from this image: San Luis Obispo, Carmel, Santa Cruz


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has one of the great old Spanish missions (carmelmission.org), with an 18th-century Baroque building, three museums and gorgeous gardens. The spectacular coastal route, known as the ‘17-mile Drive’, takes you through the private residential area of Pebble Beach to Monterey, yet another wealthy town famous for its golf courses, early Spanish architecture and marine life. Allow a couple of hours for the world-class Monterey Bay Aquarium (mbayaq.org), then wander through Old Monterey, the historic district of 19th-century buildings. In September, stay overnight for the Monterey Jazz Festival (montereyjazzfestival.org). An hour or so round the Bay brings you to Santa Cruz, a wonderful Californian mix of surfers, skaters, yuppies, new-age freaks and hippies (whose former mayor described himself as a ‘socialist-feminist’). The vibrant downtown is a great place to hang, with a vintage boardwalk and amusement park on the waterfront. Dine on fresh seafood at The Crows Nest (crowsnest-santacruz.com), overlooking the harbour. Spend the night at Babbling Brook Inn (babbling brookinn.com; rooms from $260, room only) – comfy, quaint and close to the beach. DAY SEVEN Your final day takes you up the San Francisco Peninsula. With rolling hills and small country towns, windswept beaches and giant trees, parts of it are every bit as gorgeous as Big Sur – but with artichokes. They’re big here: Marilyn Monroe had her first brush with fame as the local Artichoke Queen, and arguably the world’s best artichoke is at hundred-year-old Duarte’s Tavern (duartestavern.com) in Pescadero. At Half Moon Bay, abandon the car to hop on a horse. Sea Horse and Friendly Acres Ranch (horserentals.com) offers gallops along the beach. KWT

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LAND OF THE WINTER SUN Combining Pacific prettiness with eloquent Japanese cuisine and culture, Okinawa is a revelation for the adventurous winter sun-seeker, says Marcus Webb

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Clockwise from this image: Okinawa, InterContinental Manza Beach, kayaking, snorkelling

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here are two types of Okinawan shisa – the half lion/half dog gargoyles found on nearly every rooftop and doorway of Japan’s only tropical islands. The legend goes that the open-mouthed lion dogs to the right of the house let good luck in, while the closed-mouth ones on the left stop these godsends from making their escape. Just a few hours on this beguiling blend of Japan and Hawaii and you’ll be flitting between the two – slack-jawed at the natural beauty, gorgeous food and overwhelming generosity of its people, yet wanting to stay tight-lipped to defend the place from the slings and arrows of mass tourism. It’s a bit much to call an island that receives six million visitors a year undiscovered, but only 200,000 of these tourists come from outside Japan and for them it’s a place to treasure. You’ll soon share their love affair and find yourself recoiling from anyone non-Japanese as they represent either the US military, whose bases pockmark the islands yet provide much of the income, or other tourists who will remind you of life in the real world.

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The main island of Okinawa-Honto is home to the airport, museums and the majority of hotels, and is worth investing a couple of days in to understand the islands’ history before venturing out to the outer islands where Okinawa really comes to life. Renting a car is the easiest way to explore OkinawaHonto, providing you can pass the frankly brilliant simulation game that prepares you for a life on the Okinawan road. All signs are in English (thank you Uncle Sam) and cars drive on the left, so once mobile it’s easy to flit between the sites, markets and beaches. A good starting point is Shuri-jo (www.oki-park.jp). This World Heritagelisted recreation of the Ryukyu kingdom’s most important castle is a cross section of Okinawa’s history and you can trace this royal residence’s history from its inception in the early fifteenth century to host Chinese envoys to its destruction in the Second World War. The history lesson can be continued at the superb Okinawa Prefectural Museum (www. museums.pref.okinawa.jp), but if you’re more interested in shopping, head for Makishi market, home to a mind-boggling collection of uniquely Japanese tat (flirty lion dog anyone?). Classier mementos are available from the Tsuboya pottery district – home of

exquisite teacups, rice bowls and jugs – that backs onto the market. It is Makishi’s food section that really dazzles though, with meat products aplenty and fish so fresh it may just bolt for the door. Once you’ve selected your catch, head upstairs where one of the floor-full of restaurants will cook (or in some cases cut) it to perfection. All the restaurants are excellent, but the best place is Kiraku and their version of the island’s favourite fish, gurukun, which comes crispy and covered in a glorious apricot sauce. The fresh fish diet (albeit without the deep frying) is one of the contributing factors to the long lives of the Okinawan population the islands have more centurions per capita than anywhere else in the world. You can meet some of these long-lifers by visiting Ryukyu Mura (www.ryukyumura.co.jp) – a recreated village attraction that falls on just the right side of cheese. The dance shows are infectious, and you get a chance to quiz the elderly inhabitants about the island and about the elixir of life (awamori drinks and dancing with a bottle on your head according to our guide). It’s easy for your time to evaporate on Okinawa-Honto – there are kayaking trips amongst the mangroves (www.gesashi.com),


JAPAN

“Floating through the mangrove forests, strolling the sands or breathing in the backwash of waterfalls you soon feel the cricks of everyday life start to loosen”

SLEEP Intercontinental Manza Beach Resort (Room prices start from 19,900 yen ($250) including breakfast Opulent luxury on Okinawa-Honto’s prettiest beach.

the spectacular Chuaumi Aquarium (www. kaiyouhaku.com) and karate lessons with your own Mr Miyagi, Nakamoto Masahiro, the sensei at Shokukan Kudan Dojo (www. theokinawan.com/kobudobook.php), but to get the most out of Okinawa, you need to get on a boat or board a plane – the islands stretch over 700km and there are plenty of pinpricks of wonderment out there. The uninhabited Kerama Islands, some 30 kilometres off Naha, are the easiest to reach (ferries depart twice daily from Naha’s Tomoari port) and offer some of the region’s most beautiful beaches. Alongside the three main islands, the turquoise sea is punctured with stunning clumps of coral and sand making it Okinawa’s best dive spot. Kerama’s coral reefs have been badly damaged by rising sea temperatures, but there is a pioneering coral regeneration programme in place. Still it will take years to come to fruition, so go now to catch the underwater vibrancy before it fades.

Okinawa Nahana Hotel (www.ishinhotels. com/okinawanahana/en/) Room prices start from 11,500 yen ($150)Smart city hotel in central Naha.

Japanese tourist tastes tend towards sanitised beaches, leaving plenty of rugged beauty for the rest of us – especially if you’re prepared to travel to the outlying islands. The twin islands of Iriomote-jima and Taketomijima, just over 100km from Taiwan, are the most resiliently pretty. Iriomote is wild, with thick mangrove forests and one of the world’s rarest species, the elusive Iriomote lynx. With languid rivers and waterfalls, there’s plenty to hike for, but equally you can relax amongst the serenity of Funauki beach. Taketomi takes it easy by comparison. This tiny beachbordered island has a traditional stone walled village, beaches studded with star-shaped shells and, best of all, just 300 inhabitants. It could so easily be 301. Floating through the mangrove forests, strolling the sands, or breathing in the backwash of waterfalls you soon feel the cricks of everyday life start to loosen. The real world is blissfully far away and the secret of the Okinawans apparent eternal youth seems startlingly clear…

Sunset Beach House (www.sunset-bh.com) Room prices start from 7,500 yen ($100) per person with breakfast or 12,000 yen ($160) per person with breakfast and dinner. It’s a charming traditional ryokan right on the water. You won’t find a better meal or a warmer welcome on any of the islands. FURTHER INFORMATION JAPAN NATIONAL TOURISM ORGANIZATION (JNTO) www.jnto.go.jp is a great resource for travel-related information on Japan. OKINAWA CONVENTION & VISITORS BUREAU (OCVB) website is a great resource for people planning holidays in Okinawa. www.ocvb.or.jp KWT

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Six Senses Hideaway Zighy Bay is secluded on Oman’s northern Musandam Peninsula - a 90-minute drive from the Dubai International Airport. It is designed with 82 pool villas, including the Retreats, the Reserve, and a private marina. The dramatic setting has mountains on one side and a beach on the other. The Six Senses Spa focuses on holistic wellness and rejuvenation. It offers a full menu of treatments delivered by skilled international therapists. Guests have a choice of arrival experiences which include a scenic drive down from the top of the hill, a 15 minute speed boat ride or the choice to travel as a companion passenger with the Hideaway’s professional paraglider! Musandam Peninsula, Sultanate of Oman T: +968 26735 555 F: +968 26735 556 E: reservations-zighy@sixsenses.com www.sixsenses.com


CONCIERGE FLORENCE

CONCIERGE FLORENCE

PARIS

THE COTSWOLDS

MELBOURNE

THE 30-SECOND CONCIERGE

Image courtesy of Design Hotels™

GALLERY HOTEL ART, FLORENCE, ITALY What’s my first priority on arriving in Florence? You need to book some tickets for the most over-subscribed attractions, like the Uffizi Gallery, the most crowded museum in the country. Make sure to do this – you’ll be upset if you miss out on seeing all those Raphaels, Botticellis and Giottos. What next? Next you should just head out into the centro storico (the historic centre) and take in the beautiful views and architecture – make a beeline for Piazza della Signoria and enjoy an espresso in the sun, overlooking the Palazzo Vecchio, the mediaeval town hall. And what are the other unmissable sights? There’s Ponte Vecchio, a 14th-century bridge, which

has boutiques on both sides where you can buy exquisite jewellery. And if the weather’s good you should check out the Giardino di Bobli, a hillside park where the locals come to stretch their legs. Then there’s the Galleria dell’Academia, where you’ll find the David, among some of Michaelangelo’s other sculptures. Where are the hot spots for shopping? There’s the Mercato Nuovo on the Via Porta Rossa, an al fresco market where you can pick up great souvenirs for taking home. And where do I go for dinner? You’re spoilt for choice, but our Fusion Restaurant is a fun place for a meal, with a lovely terrace that’s perfect in good weather. galleryhotelart.com KWT

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FRANCE

Eiffel Tower, Hotel Particulier

Visit Paris

Rain or shine, spring’s a red-hot time to uncover the city’s secret sights (second visit or tenth…) says Nuala Harvey The French capital is a thrill whatever the weather. Spring may bring the odd shower, but the sun still puts in an appearance, the museums are manageable and you can sit at a corner café and watch Parisians do their elegant thing. Take a wander and you could chance upon a Roman arena, the graffiti’d house of a pop icon, or take a leisurely boat ride along canals that take you to parts of Paris you wouldn’t normally reach. If it’s chilly, mosey round Edith Piaf’s house or descend into the city’s bowels to see the eerie catacombs. 56

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WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED Hôtel Particulier Montmartre 23 Ave Junot, 18th (hotelparticulier-montmartre. com) This gorgeous townhouse, in a tranquil spot minutes from Sacré-Cœur, has decadent rooms, contemporary styling, and a garden designed by the chap who renovated the Tuileries. Rooms from $540, room only. L’Hôtel 13 Rue des Beaux-Arts, 6th (l-hotel.com) This little velvet jewel attracts A-listers (Depp,

Pacino, Winslet) like bees to a yellow beret. No wonder: its cool credentials include Oscar Wilde, who died here leaving his bill unpaid – it’s on the wall of the Phoenix room (still unpaid). Rooms from $480, room only.

ASK THE LOCAL Sylvia Whitman owns the historic and much-loved Shakespeare & Co bookstore near Notre Dame. She also organises Paris’s excellent biennial book festival (shakespeareandcompany.com; the next event will be taking place in June 2010). I love the Canal St Martin: in autumn the quayside along the waterfront is covered with golden and brown leaves; in summer it’s good to have a coffee by the water’s edge on lazy long evenings then wander up to

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Hôtel Keppler 10 Rue Keppler, 16th (keppler.fr/en) Silks, velvets and lacquer clash in a crazy, tactile concoction that’s both stylish and comfy in this hotel near the Champs-Elysées. With flatscreen TVs in bathroom mirrors, you may find it hard

the nearby Canal de l’Ourcq and play a game or two of boules outside. My favourite museum is definitely the Musée de la Vie Romantique (Rue Chaptal, 9th) – it’s in a lovely house set just back from the road and is dedicated to showing Romantic art. The weekend food markets in Paris are fantastic – the best is Marché d’Aligre (look for the saucisson with truffles. It’s délicieux). I like to pop into this great little jazz lounge near the bookshop called Le Caveau des Oubliettes (52 Rue Galande, 5th). It has live music every night from 10pm – and it’s free.


CONCIERGE PARIS

Clockwise: Moulin Rouge, , Lapérouse, W room at l’Hotel, Penthouse suite at Hotel Keppler, Lapérouse

LIGHTING-UP TIME: It took 25 abseilers five months, 20,000 bulbs and 40km of lights and cables to create the nighttime, on-the-hour Eiffel Tower light spectacle. ON YER BIKE: There’s no excuse – the Vélib cycle system has 1,200 pick-up points in the city. DISTANCE NO OBJECT: In 1768, geographers decided that all distances in France would be measured from Notre Dame. So in a sense, all French roads really do lead to Paris. LE CRUNCH: Invest in a two-day Museum Pass (parismuseumpass.com; $44) for entry to 60 of the city’s sites. to leave. Rooms from $415, room only. Hôtel des Marronniers 21 Rue Jacob (hotelmarronniers.com) This sumptuously decorated spot is also set back from the road in a courtyard, making it one of the quietest guesthouses in the capital. Rooms from $200, room only. WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Lapérouse 51 Quai des Grands Augustins, 6th (restaurantlaperouse. com) Romantic and

bohemian, Lapérouse boasts a dining room overlooking the Seine, as well as salons so private you have to buzz the waiter in. The Brittany lobster is delicious. Mains from $55. Georges Pompidou Centre, Place Georges Pompidou (centrepompidou.fr) Perched on top of Paris’s architectural conundrum, the Pompidou Centre, this one’s a masterpiece of style over content: the menu’s incomprehensible, the service (sometimes) painful. That said, the

food’s excellent (try the Silver Cod ‘Hakkasan’), but takes second billing to the views: le tout Paris at your feet. Mains from $42. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD La Gare 19 Chaussée de la Muette, 16th (restaurantlagare.com) Not a tourist in sight at this restaurant converted from a railway station. Dishes are exquisite, with the likes of seared tuna, and pear and quince crumble. Tables are set down on the platforms and tracks, while the former entrance houses a cosy

lounge with DJ. Set menus from $47. Alcazar 62 Rue Mazarine, 6th (alcazar.fr) A trendy joint that houses a full-blown contemporary restaurant and a nightclub on the mezz. So dine, then bop to disco, soul, house – whatever the DJ du jour spins. Cool but not intimidating. Set menus from $53. SHOPPING Shopping, history and architecture meet in Paris’s passages couverts (parisinfo. com/visite-paris/les-

galeries-et-passagescouverts), which are being restored to their 19th-century glory: try Passage Jouffroy for old-world charm. Paris does vintage like nowhere else. For a tour of the best places, contact Tara of Ooh la la Vintage (oohlalavintage. com). Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an off-the-beaten-track shopping experience, go to an auction in one of the houses around Richelieu-Drouot. Passions run high – so learn the ropes with Larry (http:// manstouch.com/travel; $139). KWT

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U.K

Castle Combe Right: Cotswolds88

Visit The Cotswolds

Cool hotels, cutting-edge spas – and classic cream teas. Spring into new-country style says Amanda Hyde On one of those unexpectedly sunny early spring mornings, when the air is crisp and the sky is cornflower blue, there’s something soul-restoring about motoring through the British countryside with the sharp light slanting through the windscreen. At that time of year the Cotswolds really comes into its own: zooming along empty lanes trimmed with neat hedgerows, among gentle hills and fields polka-dotted with sheep; stopping in dove-coloured villages for lengthy pub lunches and postprandial strolls; ticking off tea rooms and mazes, and savouring 58

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the classic sights the area is famous for. What you might not have bargained for are the Cotswolds’ surprisingly sophisticated enclaves. Abandon your preconceptions of stuffy floral-filled hotels – the Cotswolds has a complex, cosmopolitan character, and it’s all the better for it. WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED Cowley Manor Cowley, near Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (cowleymanor.com). It’s chic, but with a hearty dose of eccentricity, from the in-room jellybeans to

the snooker room with its fake night sky. A successful marriage of old meets new, this could be the unstuffiest five-star in Britain. Book one of the larger stable rooms with mezzanine bathrooms. Rooms from $500, B&B. Lords of the Manor Upper Slaughter, Gloucestershire (lordsofthemanor.com). This former rectory is rather like the set of a murder mystery, glammed up: a draughty old drawing room that’s been freshened up with modern florals; roll-top baths and L’Occitane

ASK THE LOCAL Ralph Hermanus moved to the Cotswolds from London, five years ago, and relocated his IT business so he could work from home The Cotswold Way is a 160km-long trail for hikers. My favourite stretch is from Painswick to Birdlip: it takes in lovely woodland and the Roman Villa at Great Witcombe, ending up at the Air Balloon (00 44 1452 862541), which serves superb homemade grub. Another good place for food is Lumière (www.lumiere. cc) in Cheltenham – the beef and truffle-scented pasta is delicious. Also in town is the Everyman Theatre (www.everymantheatre.org.uk). For the perfect photo opp, stop in the lovely old village of Minster Lovell. potions in the best rooms; and an exceptional restaurant, beamed and populated by lively OAPs. Rooms from $400, B&B.

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Cotswolds88 Kemps Lane, Painswick, Gloucestershire (cotswolds88hotel.com). This place got a real drubbing last summer:


CONCIERGE THE COTSWOLDS

GOOD SPORT: The region has its own Olimpicks, an all-night affair (May 29) that includes welly-wanging and shin-kicking. MOVING ON OUT: Author Joanna Trollope left her home in the Cotswolds, citing tractor drivers, raked gravel and daffodils as part of the problem. SPOOKS: Benjamin Disraeli died at the National Trust property Hughenden, and is allegedly sometimes

Clockwise from this image: Cotswolds countryside, The King’s Head, Cowley Manor

spotted lingering by the stairs. BIT OF A MOUTHFUL: The word ‘Cotswold’ means ‘sheep enclosure in rolling hillsides.’ some very basic rooms, pretentious website, cool staff, leisurely breakfast service… The first two still applied on this visit, but staff and service were charming. NB: this very ‘urban’ country hotel is for the chintz-averse only. Upgrade to a junior suite if you can. Rooms from $300, B&B. The George Hotel High St, Shipston- onStour, Warwickshire (thefabulous georgehotel.com). For high style at half the price, this coaching inn has modern beige rooms, with splashes of colour added by outsize photos of fruit, and beds with soft white linen. Rooms from $220, B&B.

WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Le Champignon Sauvage 24-26 Suffolk Rd, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (00 44 1242 573449, lechampignonsauvage. co.uk). This is the mainstay for wealthy locals celebrating something extra-special. The blue surroundings err on the stuffy side, but all will be forgiven when you taste the two Michelinstarred food – duck with lime, maple syrup and walnuts or rabbit with young carrots. Two courses $80pp. The Trouble House Cirencester Rd, near

Tetbury, Gloucestershire (00 44 1666 502206, thetroublehouse.co.uk). The ex-head chef at London’s Michelinstarred Pied-à-Terre has opted for a low-key menu at his new home: this cosy old pub near Tetbury. Savour a menu of local produce transformed into dishes such as ox cheek bourguignon, while regulars spook themselves with tales of the inn’s haunted past. Mains from $25. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD King’s Head Inn The Green, Bledington, Oxfordshire (00 44 1608 658365, thekingsheadinn.net) This 16th-century house has been

sympathetically spruced, with flowers on the tables and plenty of well-worn wood. The best roast beef in the area comes slathered in gravy, perfectly accompanied by fluffy Yorkshire puds. Mains from $20 . The Old Butcher’s Park St, Stow-on-theWold (00 44 1451 831700, theoldbutchers.com). Stow is prime poshcommuter territory, and The Old Butcher’s acts accordingly: preened bay trees out front and cut-glass accents round the tables. The food is city stuff: show-offy dishes and English classics made contemporary. Mains from $18.

SHOPPING Architectural Heritage Taddington Manor, Taddington (00 44 1386 584 414) Admire the garden ornaments – sundials, benches and fountains – displayed on Taddington Manor’s lawns, then snap up one to take home. Cheeseworks 5 Regent St, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (00 44 1242 255022, thecheeseworks.co.uk). There are more than 100 varieties at this out-of-this-world cheesemonger’s. Don’t even think about leaving without trying a slice of the wonderful Cotswold Blue. KWT

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AUSTRALIA

The skyline of St Kilda

Visit Melbourne

Watch out Sydney: Laura Goodman reckons this good-time gal is as strong, stimulating and addictive as her coffee. Melbourne is an abundant, multicultural metropolis that has thrived on its secondcity status, simmering away in the shadows. It’s an easy city, too. Forget your guidebook guilt and throw away the museum list: there’s no celebrated feat of architecture or intimidating must-do itinerary, and when you arrive, there’s no rude attack on the senses – but there is strong coffee and plenty of it. Work slowly through snaking laneways, ducking into back alleys to marvel at colonial-era walls caked in innovative graffiti. Get to know 60

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the city through its neighbourhoods: seaside St Kilda is an unexpected treat teeming with colour, terraced houses and slouchy bohemian style. For brands, South Yarra comes up trumps. And a day in Fitzroy is a dizzying one for those in search of cutting-edge fashion labels, dusty one-off records and eclectic art. WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED The Lyall 14 Murphy Street, South Yarra (thelyall.com). You could easily lose an entire weekend here, mooching between

the day spa and art galleries on each floor, showcasing local works. Then there’s the fresh coffee and balcony views over leafy South Yarra… Suites from $390, room only.

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD The Adelphi Hotel 187 Flinders Lane (adelphi.com.au) This boutique beauty of a hotel is kitted out with designer sofas and

Crown Towers 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank (crowntowers.com.au) PlayStations come as standard, and the views from your super-size room – of the glittering CBD over the Yarra River – are overwhelming. Those from the rooftop tennis courts are even better. Rooms from $200, room only.

Allan Campion is a Melbourne-based food writer and

light fittings to match the shiny mod façade. The clear, Perspexfloored pool juts out over busy Flinders Lane. Rooms from $180, room only.

THE LOCAL’S VIEW tour operator (melbournefoodtours.com) I get up extra early to fit in the mind-blowing coffee at St Ali (12-18 Yarra Place). It’s roasted in-house; the Yemen Ismaili blend is sublime. I love the avocado and feta on toast at Richmond Hill Cafe & Larder (48-50 Bridge Road, Richmond). Melburnians are excellent at shopping – a long-time local favourite is Retro Star (37 Swanston Street), a sprawling wardrobe of vintage finds. I’ve also recently discovered the chilli truffles at chocolatier Koko Black (in the Royal Arcade). For sunsets and sweet chilli olives, Cookie’s rooftop lounge (252 Swanston Street) is the place to be.


CONCIERGE MELBOURNE

Clockwise from this image: The Hotel Windsor, Circa, The Adelphi Hotel, Federation Square, , The Lyall

COMPLETELY BATTY: Would we all be aching to live in this city if it were still called Batmania? Probably not. Yet it briefly was, after its founder John Batman. Other suggested names included Bearbrass, Bareport, Bareheep and Bareberp. TICKET-BARRIER TANGO: Each barrier at metro stations takes tickets from both ends: a recipe for much arm-flapping, people-dodging chaos on a daily basis. $5 BUYS: A daily Metcard for use on trains, buses and the ubiquitous, loveable trams. $1.80 BUYS: Vegemite. Every jar and squeezy tube ever made has come from the Melbourne factory at Fisherman’s Bend. The Hotel Windsor 111 Spring Street (thehotelwindsor.com.au) Opposite Parliament, this Melbourne landmark is older than the Ritz – but less intimidating. The doormen are lovely and the concierges know their stuff. Rooms from $180, room only. WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Circa 2 Acland Street, St Kilda (circa.com.au) The table is the stage at Circa. For top-to-toe drama try the tasting

menu, where intervals involve super-indulgent palate-cleansers like the mini trifle with vanilla custard. Mains from $30; tasting menu with matched drinks $160. Rockpool Crown Complex, Southbank TV chef Neil Perry’s first venture outside Sydney had Melbourne foodies all aflutter. They showed up in droves for king prawns on goat’s cheese tortellini, and stayed for one of 13 cuts of beef. Mains from $30.

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Soul Mama Jacka Blvd, St Kilda (soulmama.com.au) Pick an appropriately sized vessel for your veggie pickings and navigate a canteenstyle counter of daals, ratatouilles and pizzas. Then pop your tray down and suck in seaside vistas of St Kilda. Mains from $16. Movida 1 Hosier Lane Regulars were queuing for so long to share deep bowls of vinegar mushrooms that chef Frank Camorra

opened up Movida Dos next door: an elegant Spanish lounge in which to wait. Tapas from $16. SHOPPING Allow a day for browsing grungy Fitzroy’s main shopping drag Brunswick Street, thick with unique accessories and second-hand snafflables. Block Arcade (282-290 Collins Street) In the 19th century, some laneways were roofed as ‘arcades’ to provide refuge

from Melbourne’s unpredictable weather. This one took its name from the fashionable square between Swanston and Elizabeth Streets where shoppers used to ‘do the block’. Design a Space (20 Manchester Lane; designaspace. com.au) Kitted out like a boutique, this ‘creative retail concept’ rents spaces to independent fashion designers. It’s gradually establishing itself as the place to find original one-offs. KWT

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CONCIERGE SUITE DREAMS

SUITE DREAMS NORTH ISLAND, SEYCHELLES

Everything about this picture-perfect resort is designed to cosset you and lift your spirits. Check in to your private, thatch-roofed villa and you’ll be enveloped in luxury – just a few steps from the white sand beach is your own plunge pool where you can idly paddle about and gorge on the palm tree-lined views. Your villa is a beautiful open-sided space, with local woods used to optimise the airy, light feeling. If you choose Villa 11 (there are only 11 in total, and this is the real humdinger), you’ll find it’s set in its own curve of forest with a private strip of beach at the front. Swimming and sunbathing are the order of the day and when it comes to eating you can dine on the beach or in the restaurant, feasting on food from the hotel’s own gardens. Spa treatments are carried out in your villa – if you’re feeling more energetic you can take out a kayak or mountain bike and take a tour. north-island.com


Kanoo World Traveller Jan 2010  

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