THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE
Spring City Breaks for every travel taste
CÓRDOBA VENICE DUBROVNIK PARIS EDINBURGH BOSTON AUCKLAND TOKYO
THE LITTLE-KNOWN INDIAN OCEAN ISLAND CHAIN UNCOVERED
Produced in International Media Production Zone
Baltic bliss A DRAMATIC DRIVE FROM ESTONIA TO LITHUANIA
The Caribbean From gourmet tours of Cafebados to jungle trips in Grenada and from glamour in St Cafets to beaches in the Bahamas: it’s all here…
Weekends in Athens
+ Top hotels in Fez + Oxford’s best restaurants KWT
Sea U pool, Cafebados
APRIL 2010 KANOO WORLD TRAVELLER
CONTENTS 5 12 14 20
AGENDA Your travel snapshot: where’s hot and what’s new. A POSITIVE HOLIDAY How to have a low-impact vacation. ESSENTIAL SELECTION 10 perfect cities for a Spring mini-break. PICTURE THIS Four stunning travel images to fire your imagination.
A classic road trip across the Baltic states.
The city’s dreaming spires await you.
Feel like you’ve ‘been there and done’ the Maldives and the Seychelles? Try these little-known Indian Ocean islands.
There’s a world of Caribbean islands for you to explore: let us guide you through...
56 ATHENS 58 FEZ
A beautiful city with wonderful culture, food and riad-style hotels.
The Greek capital has a huge amount to offer: check out our insider’s guide.
don Leister square, Lon
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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. ‘Fez’, ‘Oxford’, ‘Athens’, ‘Andamans’ and ‘Caribbean’ features reprinted with kind permission of Sunday Times Travel.
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11 DRIVE TIME 12 A POSITIVE HOLIDAY 14 SPRING BREAK CITIES 20 PICTURE THIS
MÖVEN ON UP Exciting news for anyone planning a trip to Dubai: a beautiful new property, the Mövenpick Hotel Jumeirah Beach, has just opened its doors in the City of Gold. This stunning spot overlooks the city’s coolest stretch of beach and gives off a Miami-style vibe with its funky décor and smart services. When it comes to dinner there’s a wealth of options on offer, from The Talk, which features international food, a sushi bar and a beautiful poolside lounge, to the West Beach Bistro, an imaginative casual dining spot. Relaxation comes courtesy of a glorious infinity pool and an inhouse spa, and a first class gym will keep you in trim during your stay: perfect. moevenpick-hotels.com KWT
NEED TO KNOW…
ABU DHABI FESTIVAL What sort of festival is this? It’s an art and culture festival, featuring musicians, artists, directors and performers from across the world. What sort of performances can I catch? There’s a huge spread of options, running up to April 8. We’re particularly looking forward to the London Symphonby Orchestra playing Rhapsody in Blue on April 6 and 7, alongside Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances Op. 45. Sounds good, what else? Other particular dates for the diary include jazz legend Wynton Marsalis playing on April 5 and an ongoing sculpture exhibition by Parviz Tanavoli and Adam Henein. For a full line-up of all the shows on offer, check out abudhabifestival.ae. Where should I stay? It depends. If you want to be in the city, we can heartily recommend the excellent Park Rotana (rotana.com), a recent opening in the heart of Abu Dhabi, with beautiful rooms and a fantastic signature restaurant, Teatro. I’d like to check out Yas Island while I’m in town… In that case you should book in to the Yas Island Rotana – Abu Dhabi (rotana.com), just a step away from the race course and the links golf course, and home to Blue Grill, the best steakhouse on the island.
Il Divo 6
Yas Island Rotana
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Check out this new opening in Egypt – the Fairmont Nile City (fairmont.com). It’s situated on the riverside and decorated with beautiful Art Deco fixtures and fittings, and is tipped to set new standards in the country. Gourmets will love it - there’s a Californian restaurant, Napa Grill, a Vietnamese spot, Saigon Bleu and a Sky Lounge with views down the Nile and big name DJs laying on the entertainment.
BRUM’S RUSH Emirates has opened a dedicated first and business class lounge at Birmingham International Airport in the UK. The airline flies in to Birmingham twice a day from Dubai, and the new lounge is directly opposite the departure gate, making it easy for travellers to whizz through the check-in and spend as much time as possible relaxing before their flight. It will offer excellent food and drink, shower facilities and a dedicated business centre.
BUY THE BOOK Map Addict by Mike Parker is a fantastic read penned by a man obsessed with travel and with maps. This hagiography of the Ordnance Survey and of maps in general is filled with hilarious stories, travel anecdotes and intriguing facts. A lighthearted summertime tome, perfect for taking to the beach.
THE JAPAN PLAN All eyes are turning to the Land of the Rising Sun this season, as three major regional airlines launch flights to the country. Etihad has launched regular flights from Abu Dhabi to Tokyo and Nagoya and Emirates Airline has launched flights from Dubai to Tokyo. And at the end of this month, Qatar Airways is aiming to launch their own flights from Doha to Tokyo. Perhaps it’s time to plan that holiday in Japan you’ve always wanted…
GRACE IN GREECE The lovely Poseidonion Grace hotel (poseidonion. com) has just reopened on Spetses in Greece. Originally opened almost a century ago, it has been undergoing restoration for the last five years, which has left it with a spruce new interior, an inhouse spa and revamped restaurants. The views on offer from the apartment suites are exquisite: this is that picture perfect Mamma Mia-style resort you’ve been dreaming of…
The Distrikt Hotel KWT
ART OF THE MATTER Heading to the UK over the next couple of months? Don’t miss out on some of the superb exhibitions at the Tate galleries in London and Liverpool…
TATE BRITAIN (LONDON) There’s a wonderful exhibition of Henry Moore paintings and statues on, running until August 8.
TATE MODERN (LONDON) Check out the Arshile Gorky retrospective at the Tate Modern for a masterclass in abstract expressionism, which runs until May 3rd.
TATE (LIVERPOOL) From May 1 to August 30 you can check out some of Picasso’s finest works at this gorgeous gallery.
AGENDA DRIVE TIME
THE BALTIC STATES
Kick off in Lithuania: after flying to the capital, Vilnius, you’ll want to take a couple of days to savour the mediaeval old town, walking down the ancient avenues and stopping off on Pilies Street to soak in the atmosphere from a café terrace. Then it’s time to hire a car and head north, through the Curonian Spit National Park, where the fine sandy beaches may delay you for at least half a day. Swinging back on to the road, you’ll cruise through glorious countryside dotted with delightful little villages and hamlets before hitting Latvia and its attractive capital of Riga, where the art nouveau buildings in the centre will have you snapping endless pictures. For the final leg of your journey, jump on the E67 and wind your way along the shore, passing through Saulkrasti (known for its wonderful beach) and Salacgriva before arriving in Tallinn (pictured), another perfect old city.
Tallinn at night
HOW TO CREATE…
A POSITIVE HOLIDAY Tim Woods gives his expert’s guide to making sure your break is great for the planet and the locals as well as for you.
olidays are a time to switch off – to unwind, de-stress and forget about the daily grind of work. But it’s easy to forget that while we relax, others are still working – as waiters, cleaners, taxi drivers and tour guides. And tourism can be a fickle industry – what’s hot one year may be replaced by somewhere new the following season – so jobs are often insecure, and many of them are only seasonal at best. For those on the outskirts of the industry – handicraft sellers, masseurs, farmers providing food to hotels – these livelihoods can be even more precarious. This is particularly true in many parts of Africa, Asia and Latin America, where few alternative jobs are available. That’s not to say tourism doesn’t support economies, both local and national – people in Nepal, Thailand, and The Gambia have all benefitted greatly from people visiting their beautiful countries, for example. But with a few simple steps, you can ensure that local people benefit from your visit as much as you do...
Leave the hotel The hotel is your home from home – and many pride themselves on providing everything you need, plus plenty more to treat you. But by eating, sleeping and relaxing exclusively in the complex, your money only goes to one place. Try to have at least one or two meals out in local restaurants during your stay. You will get to try more authentic local cuisine, and often see another side of life in the country. If you aren’t sure about where to go, or how to get there, just ask your hotel staff – they will be able to point you in the right direction. A good hotel will be keen to help you explore the region, even if it means that you end up spending an evening or two away from their facilities. Enjoying local dishes also means it is more likely that local farmers have helped to provide it – rather than food being shipped in, a practice common in many hotels who want to make their guests ‘feel at home’. You’ll not only be helping local tradespeople, you’ll also be minimising your carbon footprint.
Haggle, but not too hard Haggling for souvenirs, gifts and trinkets can be a highlight of the holiday. The sights, smells and sounds of a vibrant marketplace are always memorable, and it can be great to hear the local entrepreneurs use all their best lines to close the deal. Haggling or bartering is also central to local cultures in many countries. But while no one wants to be taken advantage of, in developing countries, those few extra dollars will mean more to the local than the tourist. So haggle – but not too hard!
Talk to hotel owners Tourism is a demand-driven business –business owners strive to provide what the visitors want. Talking to hotel owners and tour companies about their staff can demonstrate that tourists care about more than topping up their tan. There are plenty of ways to help tourism staff build a career rather than a job – training in skills such as languages is very helpful, for example – so ask your hotel manager or tour operator what training and opportunities they offer their staff.
For more information about how to benefit local people on your travels, visit Tourism Concern: www.tourismconcern.org.uk
The world on its ďŹ rst morning.
w w w. c o n s t a n c e h o t e l s . c o m
SPRING CITY BREAKS The new season brings a whole host of reasons to get travelling: book up your tickets to some of the worldâ€™s coolest cities and get ready for fun..
The City: Dubrovnik The Reason: Because Spring is the perfect time to see this unspoiled walled city in Croatia before the summer hordes turn up and you canâ€™t get a restaurant table or move more than two feet without bumping into someone. The Hotel: The Pucic Palace (thepucicpalace. com), a 19-bed spot on Gundulic square, right at the centre of the Old Town. Olive wood floors, stone walls, and gorgeous antiques lend the atmosphere, and your hotel key also gets you access to a private local beach. The Restaurant: Get a table on the terrace of the Restaurant Nautika (Brsalje 3) where you can gaze out over the Adriatic as you dive into note-perfect seafood risotto followed by squeakily-fresh fish and local cheeses. The Experience: Take a leisurely walk around the city walls, an unmissable experience which combines views of the ancient city with views of the crashing surf beneath.
Dubrovnik city walls and shoreline.
AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION
The City: London The Reason: Because the most exciting city in Europe just awoke from one of the grimmest winters on record, and is ready for fun. The Hotel: Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair (brownshotel.com). Right in the centre of the action, about 30 seconds’ leisurely walk from Bond Street and 40 seconds’ sunny amble to Green Park. Top-hatted service, awardwinning afternoon teas and an impeccable pedigree – Winston Churchill used to be a regular. The quintessential English experience. The Restaurant: Petrus (gordonramsay.com), the Ramsay vehicle which reopened on March 29 at a new venue in Knightsbridge. For true gourmets, nothing less than a reservation at the Chef’s Table overlooking the show kitchen will suffice The Experience: A morning’s stroll along the pedestrianised South Bank, starting opposite the Palace of Westminster and working your way down past the National Film Theatre, the open-air book market and about 500 street entertainers and musicians, winding up at Borough Market to invest in venison burgers, impeccably stinky cheeses and Flour Power banana cake, the best in the Western Hemisphere.
Clockwise from this image: Green Park, Bond Street, Brown’s Hotel, South Bank.
The City: Tokyo The Reason: The feathery pink cherry blossom which carpets the city’s parks and pavements and brings a temporary halt to the work ethic in this hyper-driven town. The Hotel: Yes it’s a cliché, but you know what, if you’re only going to Tokyo once, you should follow in the footsteps of Bill Murray and Scarlett Johannson and book in at the Park Hyatt in Shinkjuku (tokyo.park.hyatt.com). And yes, you should treat yourself to a coffee at ‘that’ lounge. There’s no shame. The Restaurant: Pierre Gagnaire’s new restaurant, opened just a couple of weeks at time of press at the Ana InterContinental (anaintercontinental-tokyo.jp), but it is already making waves among the city’s inthe-know gourmets. The Experience: Just losing yourself in the sheer otherworldliness of the place: buy yourself a 22nd century-style MP3 player from Electric Town (Akihabara) and strike out into the neon-lit street life with your camera at the ready.
The City: Paris The Reason: Because you have a very small window of opportunity to get this city at its best, between rain-lashed winter and the tourist invasion of the summer, during which you’ll spend your entire vacation being alternately elbowed off the boulevards by SLR-toting fellow tourists and ripped off by xenophobic crêpe vendors. The Hotel: The Four Seasons Hotel George V (fourseasons.com). It’s just off the ChampsElysees, but offers a quiet, high-service respite from the action outside. Warning: stay for one night and you may be spoiled for 99% of the remaining hotels in the world. The Restaurant: L’Espadon at the Ritz Paris (ritzparis.com). Ever wondered what it would be like to be Louis XIV, the Sun King? Book in for dinner at this mirror-lined, gilt-edged, tasselheavy ode to excess and find out. You’ll get the strong impression by course four that the chef is showing off – and you’ll love it. The Experience: Exploring the Ile de la Cité and the Ile St Louis at first light, two picture-perfect scraps of land in the middle of the Seine. Here you can lose yourself in the height of Haussmanian architecture before settling in to people-watch over a crème and a croissant.
Clockwise from this image: View over the Seine, Parisian cafe, View of Eiffel Tower from the Four Seasons Hotel, Haussmanian rooftops.
The City: Boston The Reason: Because it’s a friendlier,
The Boston Red Sox in action
more manageable, better value version of New York. The Hotel: The Liberty Hotel (libertyhotel. com), an imaginative property set in a former prison, which drips with history. The vast, chandelier-hung lobby is jaw-dropping, and the rooms are homey and comfortable. The Liberty is a great base for exploring the city: make sure while you’re there to get a guided tour and an explanation of the hotel’s former life from the concierge. The Restaurant: Head for the self-proclaimed oldest restaurant in America, the 184-yearold Union Oyster House (unionoysterhouse. com). Start with a classic Boston clam chowder and follow up with an unfathomably vast ‘Ye Olde Seafood Platter.’ The Experience: Your Boston experience won’t be complete without taking in a baseball game – go check out local team the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park. You may not understand the fine points of what’s going on (this game has some seriously arcane rules) but you’ll have a fantastic time nonetheless.
AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION
The City: Venice The Reason: Because it’s horribly hot – and not a little whiffy – in summertime, while in Springtime the weather’s sublime. The Hotel: The Luna Hotel Baglioni (baglionihotels.com), just 200 metres from Piazza San Marco, and set in a Venetian palace. Start your visit off in fine fashion by arriving directly at the hotel’s private jetty by gondola. The Restaurant: The Locanda Cipriani (locandacipriani.com) on the Torcello lagoon, a favourite of Hemingway back in the day, and still turning out exquisite lunches and dinners in a garden-lined dining room. The Experience: Attending a world-class performance at La Fenice Opera House (teatrolafenice.it), one of the grandest and most prestigious on the continent. KWT
Dusk in Venice
The City: Auckland The Reason: Because Autumn in New Zealand is just as nice as Springtime in Europe. And because there literally is no bad time to visit this idyllic symphony of a nation, so why not now? The Hotel: Mollies (mollies.co.nz), a cool boutique hangout whose décor is inspired by the opera, whose views are out over Auckland Harbour Bridge and whose spa is one of the best in the country. The Restaurant: One Tree Grill (onetreegrill. co.nz), a lovely, long-established spot with welcoming staff and a fire to warm yourself by if there’s a nip in the air. And to eat? Don’t mess about – you’re in New Zealand, where sheep outnumber men many times over. It’s a slow-braised lamb shank with pomegranate jus for you… The Experience: Auckland is just your starting point. Hire a drop top, hook up your iPod to the car stereo (don’t rely on radio – the signals keep cutting out in this hilly nation) and head downwards, making a charge all the way through the North Island, crossing over at Wellington and ploughing on to the even more attractive South Island.
The Auckland skyline
The City: Edinburgh
Edinburgh castle at sunset
The Reason: Because if you go now it’ll cost you about a third as much as it will this summer when the Edinburgh Festival kicks in. The Hotel: The Balmoral (thebalmoralhotel.com) on Princes Street, where your suite will have views out over Edinburgh Castle and your relaxation will come courtesy of the Balmoral Spa, one of the best in the country. The Restaurant: Head for dinner at Atrium (atriumrestaurant.co.uk), a low-lit spot where you’ll enjoy the likes of pan-fried wild Atlantic halibut, Perthshire Red Deer with braised red cabbage and bashed neeps and Roast Boarders Pigeon. The Experience: Take a day out to go shopping on the Royal Mile, which is crammed with cool stores. And then, for a total contrast, use an Edinburgh tour company to take you out to some of the remote Scottish islands like Stirling, Orkney, Islay and Mull.
AGENDA ESSENTIAL SELECTION
The City: Chiang Mai The Reason: Because it’s an overlooked gem – Bangkok gets all the press, but Chiang Mai’s just as interesting, and far less overdeveloped. The Hotel: The Chedi Chiang Mai (ghmhotels.com), a minimalist chic property on the banks of the Mae Ping river: get a Club Suite and you’ll spend most of your time on the day bed on the balcony, taking in the views. The Restaurant: Stay in house in the ev enings for delicious Northern Thai food at The Restaurant, which is set in a former colonial house. The Experience: Checking out the Chinese pandas at the Chiang Mai Zoo; immersing yourself in Thai art in the Chiang Mai National Museum and visiting the Chiang Mai Aquarium, the largest in Southeast Asia.
Clockwise from this image: Palacio del Bailio courtyard. Oranges. Palacio del Bailio poolside. the Roman baths.
Pandas in Chiang Mai Zoo
The City: Cordoba The Reason: Because it’s better-looking than Madrid, safer than Barcelona and friendlier than Granada. The Hotel: The Hospes Palacio del Bailio (hospes.com). Set in a gorgeous old building, the Hospes has a huge amount to offer to its guests, including private courtyards stuffed with fragrant lemon trees, Roman-style underground baths (go from lukewarm to freezing cold to boiling hot and back again) and one of the most attractive outdoor pools we’ve ever seen. The Restaurant: Usually we like to recommend a place to eat outside of the hotel we suggest. It’s always nice to stretch your legs on the walk home after a sizeable feast. But on this occasion we have to say stay in house and dine at the exquisite signature restaurant, Senzone. Here you’ll sit on a glass floor which suspends you above perfectlyuplit Roman ruins which have been excavated beneath the restaurant: extraordinary. The Experience: Wandering around the courtyards of La Mezquita in the sunshine, smelling the waft of citrus from the orange trees and listening to the water tumbling in the fountains. KWT
This is the lowest point in North America – Badwater Basin, which sits at 86 metres below sea level, and which is coated in crusted white salts which trace out mad patterns and make the water undrinkable – hence the name. At sunrise, the area takes on a beautifuly, mystic air which takes your breath away. To visit this extraordinary spot, you’ll need to make for Death Valley National Park, located in California’s Inyo County.
DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK, CALIFORNIA, USA
Le Palais Garnier is better known as the Paris Opéra, an exquisite building which dominates the Place de l’Opéra in the 9th arrondissement of the city. Built in the late 19th century, Le Palais is a neo-baroque masterpiece whose decoration has to be seen to be believed. The picture above is of the Grand Foyer, a marble-bedecked, bronze and gold-lined beauty, lined with statues of the great and the good and decked out with paintings from major artists.
LE PALAIS GARNIER, PARIS, FRANCE
The delicate, twisting columns of the Marble Grotto are lapped by the waves of the General Carrera lake in Patagonia, also known as Lago Buenos Aires. Once you’ve torn your eyes away from this extraordinary natural structure, you can feast them on the soaring might of the Andes, which circle the lake. You reach this soulful spot through the Carretera Austral in Chile or through the Argentinean side by driving along National Route 40. Once you’re done sightseeing and you’ve filled your memory card with snaps, you can kick back and relax with some excellent trout fishing.
GENERAL CARRERA, CHILE, PATAGONIA
CLEY MARSHES, NORFOLK, UK Norfolk is one of the United Kingdom’s most attractive and rural counties, and Cley Marshes is one of its most idyllic corners, particularly at this time of year. In the distance you’ll see the Sea Windmill, an attractive 18th century construction which perches on an old quay, nestled between picturesque flint cottages. The best part is that the Sea Windmill is now a Bed+Breakfast where you can stay or host an event– see cleywindmill.co.uk for details. Once you’ve soaked up the atmosphere in this magical spot, take a bracing stroll along reed-lined paths which lead to the sea.
THE MIDDLE EAST’S FIRST CARBON NEUTRAL MAGAZINE
JANUARY / FEBRUARY 2008
IS AL E IN R S AZ UT TAIL AG E DE M N R IS N 5 FO TH BOAGE R EP CA SE
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Kanoo World Insider T guidesrave l the+big ler: ges b+est tr t and avel maga zine in the Middle East Wh t stay t Where to in Vienna Where to eat in Rome
Where to shop in Kuala Lumpur
That Kanoo World Traveller magazine has a BPA-audited (issues of Jun-Dec 2009) circulation figure of
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Caribbean If you don’t know where to look (let alone book) consult our island-by-island lifesaver… Want a bit of West Indies, but don’t know where to start? With 7,000 islands to pick from, choosing’s not easy – which is why we’ve sifted, surveyed and sorted them to help you find your dream destination. Love food? You’ll adore CAFEBADOS (p30). Quiet type? Find your perfect hidden cove in THE BAHAMAS (p44). Meanwhile JAMAICA (p38) is jumping, CUBA (p46) cultured, ST CAFETS (p32) stylish, GRENADA (p33) green, and – you get the picture… Caribbean feature reproduced with permission from Sunday Times Travel
Foodies Cafebados You’ll love it if: you’re not one of those figure obsessives who can exist on only Evian. Why you’ll love it: Despite its (in)famous culinary ambassador, Michael Winner, Cafebados isn’t stodgy or stuffy. Holidaying here is laid-back: it’s about waking to warm sun after a dawn downpour and triggerpuff clouds across a sky of blue. It means breakfasting lazily as pushy birds eye up the crumbs, then grabbing a resort lounger and attaching yourself to a cold juice as the palms sway overhead. Whatever your budget, you’re never far from a good meal: chicken with rice and peas at landmark Fisherman’s Pub (00 1 246 422 2703) in Speightstown; swordfish at Brown Sugar (brownsugarbarbados.com) just south of the capital, Bridgetown; or fashion food at Daphne’s (daphnesbarbados.com) in St James’s, a designer offshoot of the original in London’s Chelsea. Take an island tour (details at www.cafebados.org): you’ll pass hidden picnic strands (Harry Smith Beach on the southeast coast is a dramatic stopoff, frilled with manic Atlantic waves), and horizons of swishing sugar cane (the old sweet-tooth industry). Where to stay: On the west coast, familyrun Coral Reef Club (coralreefbarbados. com; rooms from $432, B&B) is a find. Its luxury cottages and suites induce a serious state of relaxation, and the cooking is excellent, even the simple spicy crab cakes for breakfast. Sea-U Guest House (seaubarbados.com; rooms from $142, B&B) is an informal East Coast 30
“The Fish Pot has a sleepy setting and relaxed dining gazebos. Lunch on fried calamari with chilli dressing, and blackened scallops with dill and caper aioli.” retreat where your stay revolves around hammock-lounging. New to Tent Bay, near Bathsheba, is the 10-room Atlantis (atlantishotelbarbados.com; two-bedroom suites from $293, B&B), a colonial classic, revived. Where to eat: With its chiffon drapes and dark wood, Daphne’s (see before) feels like a Zen beach house. It’s rammed with famous faces in season, but at other times you should get a table (ring ahead). Dishes are as appetising as the people-watching. The Fish Pot (littlegoodharbourbarbados. com) has a sleepy setting and relaxed dining gazebos. Lunch on fried calamari with chilli dressing, and blackened scallops with dill and caper aioli. At Lone Star (thelonestar.com), the beach-deck restaurant is informal, with white-dressed chairs, mirrors leaning against palms and timber underfoot. Keep dinner light with tuna tartare and mango – or gorge on lamb shank, then amble to your suite to snooze.
Clockwise from here: Surfer viewed from Sea U beach. Sea U cottage studio. Lobster spaghetti at Daphenes. Top Left: Roast Lamb at Coral Reef club, Bedroom suite at Coral Reef club, Tempura prawn dish at Coral Reef club.
Glamour St Cafets You’ll love it if: you choose your holidays from Hello magazine, rather than a brochure. Why you’ll love it: Exclusivity is the key word here – if it’s not the prices that keep crowds away, it’s the white-knuckle flight transfer from St Martin (witness the landing at youtube.com). But wow, it’s worth it. The tiny French principality has brochure-beautiful beaches: bling St Jean for celebrity-spotting; rugged Salines for wild swimming; sheltered Les Gouverneurs for picnics; and low-key L’Orient for snorkelling. It’s these that attract Beyoncé, Natalie Portman and Penélope Cruz – along with local marchés selling foie gras in bulk, and the beach ‘shacks’ serving lobster salad. Gustavia is the colour-saturated capital, perfect in the sun when the harbour twinkles and the yachts shine even brighter, or by night when Louis Vuitton stays open late and the cafes even later.
“The beaches attract Natalie Portman and Penélope Cruz” Where to stay: Villas are the accommodation of choice for reclusive celebs – they’re also the best option if you’re on a budget as you can self-cater. Le Guanahani hotel (leguanahani.com; rooms from $856, B&B) is the place to stay if money is no object. It’s a collection of rooms and mini villas on one of St Cafets’ most rustic beaches. Affordable, but still stylish, is Le Village St Jean (villagestjeanhotel.com; rooms from $317, B&B). Where to eat: Maya’s to Go in St Jean is the takeaway branch of the much-adored Maya’s restaurant in Gustavia. Stop here en route to the beach for posh picnic fodder. If you prefer your beach lunch served while you loll on a day bed, try La Plage (00 590 590 275313) on St Jean beach – salads and fish at euro-flash prices. The unlikeliest of joints for the jet set is Le Select, an unkempt café right on the main drag in Gustavia. 32
Gustavia, St. Barts. Opposite: Clockwise from top left: La Serina deck, Aquarium. Couple relax at sunset, La Luna. Lobster salad at Aquarium.
Jungle Grenada You’ll love it if: you want to be intrepid – as well as maybe just a little bit indolent – on holiday. Why you’ll love it: Grenada is a pocket-sized volcano of an island – just 18km by 30km – but spilling over with ways to work up a sweat. Its jagged interior has proper peaks cloaked in thrilling, trekkable rainforest. The essential highoctane itinerary should include a scramble to the summit of Mount Qua Qua, a soak in the Claboney hot springs, a shower under a cataract at Concord Falls, and, in case that all sounds too staid, a headfirst plunge on a giant rubber ring into the roaring Balthazar river.The river-tubing experience is laid on by Adventure Grenada (adventuregrenada.com), which also offers all-day 4WD tours into the island’s famous spice forests. A good starting point for hikes is the visitor centre at Grand Etang National Park – better still, book a room at nearby Bluebay Lodge, a terrific Bed & Breakfast where Lisette Davis will welcome you like family and organise private guides.For a backcountry beach experience, drive the snaking coast road to La Sagesse, where breakers roll in off the Atlantic and monkeys munch in the mangroves behind. Where to stay: Bluebay Lodge (bluebaygrenada.com) has immaculate rooms from $100 B&B – a steal. Or try La Sagesse (lasagesse.com; rooms from $144, room only). For a mix of seclusion and sybaritism, plump for Laluna (laluna.com; rooms from $896, room only), a celebrityendorsed, boho-chic hideaway of Indonesian antiques, private meditation sessions and 16 cottages tumbling down into a secret cove. Where to eat and drink: Grenada’s nightlife seems to be perpetually on tour: every venue has its big night of the week. If it’s Monday, it’s got to be crab-racing at The Owl (flamboyant.com) above Grand Anse beach, while Sunday is owned by the all-day beach barbecue at the Aquarium (aquarium-grenada.com), where you can kick off your shoes and ‘lime’ (chill out) with the regulars. KWT
Wildlife Trinidad and Tobago You’ll love it if: you don’t ‘do’ loungers. Why you’ll love it: When Trinidad and Tobago splintered from South America a few million years back, they took with them a varied ecosystem, now unique among the West Indies. Forget generic Bounty Bar beaches – this is nature ramped up, with 2,000 species of flower and 400 of bird, plus endangered giant leatherback turtles. It’s a tale of two islands: Trinidad’s scenery has attitude, from its mountainous contours to its Pitch Lake, a vast bowl of tar used by Sir Walter Raleigh to waterproof his galleon in the 16th century. Chilled-out Tobago, 30km away, has the world’s first protected rainforest. David Attenborough filmed The Trials of Life here, and you can see why on a jungle tour with naturalist David Rooks (rookstobago.com; $87). Underwater, things are just as Darwinian. And when it comes to human spectacles, you won’t want to miss the annual Carnival, where brightly-coloured costumes and calypso music are the order of the day. Where to stay: Asa Wright Nature Centre (asawright.org; rooms from $242, full board) has simple rooms, and hummingbirds fluttering around the checkin desk. Combine nature and nurture at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad (trinidad.hyatt. com; rooms from $230, room only), close to the Caroni Bird Sanctuary. In Tobago, get a ringside seat at Turtle Beach (rexresorts. com; rooms from $91, B&B), where turtles nest on the sand below the bedrooms from March until August. Where to eat: Try the islands’ fiery pepper sauce in spinach soup at The Verandah on Trinidad (00 1 868 622 6287). At Maracas Beach (also on Trinidad), go for goat curries and rotis sold by the roadside. Sample Tobago’s signature dishes – crab and dumplings, and ‘oil-down’, a breadfruit and coconut milk stew – at Blue Crab (00 868 639 2737). 34
Clockwise from this image: Red Ibis birds, Plumeria frangipani in the tropics, Baby leatherback turtles. Opposite: Vibrant carnival scene.
“When it comes to human spectacles, you won’t want to miss the annual Carnival, where brightlycoloured costumes and calypso music are the order of the day”
Beach view from Verandah Opposite, from top: Pair of sun loungers, Salmon with black bean at Rainforest hideaway, Studio at Ginger Lily.
You’ll love it if: you’ve been press-ganged into watching Pirates of the Caribbean – 37 times. Why you’ll love it: Choosing the perfect family base in the Caribbean is likely to be more about the hotel than the island. That said, you also need rooms that open straight onto the beach and a dash of piratical pizzazz. Step forward Antigua, which ticks all the boxes and has lots of child-friendly hotels. For full-on family fun, there is Jolly Beach, which sounds like a kids’ TV show and is even shinier and more hyperactive. There’s also the new Verandah Resort & Spa, with sofa beds as standard, free watersports and a children’s club. Even the island’s poshest hotels seem to like little ones. All the above have their own sparkly beachfront, but it pays to rent a car and explore. Dickenson Bay has half a mile of gleaming white powder and all manner of kayaks, water-skis and wet bikes. Tots will prefer reef-protected Long Bay, with its shining mile of perfect 36
paddling. Beyond the bucket and spade, Antigua has enough adventures to keep your scallywags occupied. They can be jolly Jack Sparrows on a pirate jaunt aboard the Black Swan (piratesofantigua.com). They can kayak through the mangroves with Antigua Paddles (antiguapaddles.com), or take a white-knuckle zip-wire ride into the jungle canopy (antiguarainforest.com). This year’s new attraction is the SubCat (subcatantigua.com), a submarine that descends daily to meet sharks and sea turtles. Where to stay: Jolly Beach is fairly inexpensive and extremely cheery. There’s a free ‘kidz club’ for under-12s, and you get babysitting, cots and early evening meals thrown in. Verandah Resort & Spa (verandahresortandspa.com; from $2520 for a family of four per week, all-inclusive) is a less noisy alternative: an all-suite
starts at $5389, full board) is the apogee of Caribbean cool, with boutique-hotel Asian decor. It also has a kids’ club for under13s. Teenagers might prefer Curtain Bluff (curtainbluff.com; from $984 a night for a family of four), tooled up with PCs, video games and watersports. Where to eat: For a classic feet-inthe-sand feed, head for Dickenson Bay, where you can go for chilled-out pizza at The Beach (bigbanana-antigua. com) or fancier fare at Coconut Grove (coconutgroveantigua.net). Kids will love playing pirates at Nelson’s Dockyard, a showpiece Georgian harbour lined with galleons and cannons. Plenty of casual eats to choose from here, including Catherine’s Cafe (00 1 268 460 5050), a French brasserie with lovely light lunches, and the Admiral’s Inn, serving great conch chowder. The latter does simple, stout
place with two beaches, a fab pool and a children’s club for ages 4–11. Carlisle Bay (carlisle-bay.com; a week for four
lodgings too (admiralsantigua.com; the Joiner’s Loft sleeps four, from $512, room only).
Couples St Lucia You’ll love it if: you want a holiday for two. Why you’ll love it: The splendidly lush and
beautiful isle is so attractive that armies have been moved to take and retake her: she’s changed hands 14 times and earned the moniker ‘Fair Helen of the West Indies’ (after legendary beauty, Helen of Troy). Mountains, including the island’s extraordinary twin volcanic peaks, the Pitons, tumble to magical coves bursting with tropical greenery. St Lucia also has a unique Creole lilt, with a mix of British, French and African in its language, food and way of life. To get the best of St Lucia’s scenery, coast down the leeward side of the island in a yacht (freespirit-charters.com), sailing beneath the green slopes to the Pitons. On the way home, stop to snorkel in a remote cove such as Anse Cochon. Or linger in magical Marigot Bay, an inlet so secluded that an admiral once hid his whole navy here – and emerged to win the day. Developed now, it has waterfront cafes and restaurants in the mangroves. Try Boudreau (00 1 758 458 5300) for lunch, or the café at JJ’s Paradise (jj-paradise.com) in the evening. There is jungle-walking all over the ‘South’, the romantic heartland of St Lucia. You’ll get so much more from the experience if you travel with a guide (contact the Forestry Department: 00 1 758 450 2231). St Lucia’s plantations have heart-stoppingly pretty wooden houses amid the greenery. Visit Fond Doux Holiday Plantation (fonddouxestate.com) in Soufrière, where mangoes, bananas, breadfruit and scents of bitter chocolate hang in the humid air. Mamiku gardens, near Praslin in the southeast of St Lucia, are the island’s most spectacular. You’ll see an array of tropical plants, including orchids and bird of paradise (00 1 758 455 3729; open year-round; entry $5.44). Finally, for fun, there’s Creole dancing in the street on Friday night at Gros Islet. Or try the low-key atmosphere at fishing village Anse la Raye, also on Friday nights, where fresh fish is fried to zouk music and calypso.
“St Lucia has a mix of British, French and African in its language, food and way of life. To get the best of its scenery, coast down the island’s leeward side” Where to stay: Cap Maison (capmaison.
com; rooms from $500, B&B) has the look of a Spanish palace in a cliffside setting with a secluded beach, plus some of the island’s finest cuisine. Ladera (ladera. com; rooms from $547, B&B, including afternoon tea) has the Caribbean’s most dramatic setting, with vertiginous views between the Pitons. Ti Kaye (tikaye.com; rooms from $192) is a collection of clifftop Creole cottages sheltered above a leeward cove. Ginger Lily (gingerlily hotel.com; rooms from $229, room only) is within a shout of the excellent Reduit Beach and all the activity of Rodney Bay Village, the liveliest part of St Lucia. Villa Zandoli (tropicalvillas.net; rooms from $355, room only) has a handful of simple, brightly coloured rooms arranged on a hillside overlooking the Caribbean Sea. Where to eat: Dasheene at Ladera (00 1 758 459 6617) has a view between the Pitons to go with innovative Creole food such as chicken stuffed with cinnamon spice and plantain mousse. The deck of Rainforest Hideaway (rainforesthideawaystlucia.com) overlooks the calm water of Marigot Bay; try the salmon cooked with black bean, coconut and saffron. In Rodney Bay, there’s Jambe de Bois (00 1 758 452 0321), a lovely daytime beach hangout on Pigeon Island, and Café Claude (00 1 758 458 0847), a cool spot for coffee in the early evening. For the best local food, all roads lead to Gros Islet Village. Someone will be cooking, down by the waterfront in the town – rice and peas with local fish or curried goat. KWT
Music Jamaica You’ll love it if: the most important part of your holiday is the soundtrack. Why you’ll love it: The tempo may be slow, but it’s insistent: irresistible rhythms that emanate from the sultry streets of Kingston to Jamaica’s idyllic coastal outposts. Reggae, rock steady, ska and calypso all get airtime, making Jamaica the pulsating party magnet it is. The island’s most famous son is, of course, reggae legend Bob Marley; pay homage to the singer, poet and philosopher at his museum in Kingston (bobmarleyfoundation.com; $19), also home to his former studio Tuff Gong. Listen to his hits, and almost every other kind of local music, at Kingston club Quad (00 1 876 754 7823), which houses DJs on four levels. Beyond the capital, resorts such as Negril embrace the party spirit, with plenty of small seaside reggae clubs – some going until sunrise. Where to stay: Try Jake’s (islandoutpost. com/jakes; two-person cottages from $96, room only) in Treasure Beach, which bills itself as ‘boutique chic shack’ living. There’s every chance you could run into an A-lister here, chilling out in one of the eccentric, Gaudí-esque cottages along the seafront. Geejam (islandoutpost.com/ geejam; rooms from $565, room only), owned by the same group as Jake’s, is a new high-end property set in lush landscaped gardens at the foot of the Blue Mountains, with its own recording studio. It’s a rock-star hotel with rock-star prices. 38
“The tempo may be slow, but it’s insistent: irresistible rhythms that emanate from the sultry streets of Kingston to Jamaica’s idyllic coastal outposts” Where to eat: Grab a side order of live music with your nouvelle Caribbean cuisine in Kingston at Redbones Blues Café (redbonesbluescafe.com). Jamaican musicians play as you tuck into callaloo strudel, made with callaloo leaves, red pepper and cream cheese, or chicken in jerk-spiced cheddar. There’s full-on musical fun in Little Ochie (littleochie. com) at its annual Seafood Carnival in July. Head for the eponymous restaurant before the bands start, and take your seat in one of the upturned boats on the beach. Order your fresh catch jerked or curried, with rice and peas. One of the most intriguing places to eat on the island is worth the 40-minute drive from Ocho Rios; Café Aubergine (00 1 876 973 0527) is a converted 18th-century tavern serving renowned French-Italian-Jamaican food. It has a cult following among Europhiles, with dishes such as smoked marlin and conch in lemon giving it the wow factor.
Gallic style Guadeloupe
Clockwise from here: Traditional Guadeloupan spices. parrot, beach scene. Opposite: Clockwise from top left: Tropical salad, Parrot Cay. Outside terrace, Parrot Cay, Bagatella beach, Gansevoort.
You’ll love it if: you fancy island rhythms with Euro undertones. Why you’ll love it: Butterfly-shaped Guadeloupe has beaches to spare around both its wings – but this isn’t unusual in the Caribbean. The real reason for landing at Pointe-à-Pitre is to roam a magnificent landscape imprinted by centuries of (sometimes turbulent) French influence. Here you’ll find baguettes in the bread shop and ads for Camembert alongside the banana plantations. Look beyond the tumult of a town such as Basse-Terre and the buildings tell tales of typhoons, trade and colonial tension: high on the mountain behind, at Matouba, a memorial recalls 40
the 300 fighters who blew themselves up rather than submit to Napoleon’s reimposition of slavery in 1802. Climb higher, to the 1,500m Soufrière volcano, or – if you can’t manage a mega-trek – tackle the trail to the Carbet waterfall: nature gone epic. Where to stay: Auberge de la Vieille Tour (accorhotels.com; rooms from $488, room only) has French style throughout, iguanas on the lawn and outstanding sea views. Out on Les Saintes island – 15 minutes from the main island by ferry – Auberge Les Petits Saints (petitssaints.com; rooms from $157, B&B) is a welcoming auberge at the top of the village with a mix of French-antique, Oriental and Creole styles.
Back on the ‘mainland’ at Matouba, try a two-person studio at Domaine Les Cycas (lescycas.com; from $122, room only). Where to eat: Le Karacoli (00 590 590 284171) on Grand Anse beach: taste the croustillant de lambis shellfish dish, and see if you’re not happy. You’ll be happy, too, on Les Saintes island, where La Paillotte (00 590 590 995077) on Plage de Marigot has its feet in the sea and its mind on Creole fare, say spicy chicken colombo. More Creole treats at Anse Bertrand on the northern edge of the Grande-Terre wing of Guadeloupe: at La Case à Fernand (00 590 590 222429), Christine and Claude Baulin give them a metropolitan twist.
High chic Turks & Caicos You’ll love it if: you buy the sort of swimwear that wasn’t designed to get wet. Why you’ll love it: The Turks & Caicos would be all about barefoot luxury – if it weren’t for all the visitors teetering about in this season’s Manolos. Fortunately, the islands are flat and featureless, which makes walking in heels easy and lets fashionistas surrender to what this place is really about: a sophisticated beach scene. Grace Bay, on the main island of Providenciales, is the archipelago’s most famous stretch – eight kilometres of powder-fine, bone-white sands that slip gently into shimmering teal-green waters. This is Glamour Central, so the
Duran Duran yacht-strut is practically obligatory. Kenard Cruises (kenardcruises. com) will whisk you off to a deserted cay for snorkelling. And while the style set would never normally visit a waterpark, Pirates Island (beachesresorts.co.uk) has a surf simulator for posing. Where to stay: The sassy Gansevoort (gansevoortturksandcaicos.com; rooms from $328, room only), on Grace Bay, epitomises Providenciales’ see-and-beseen scene. Its 2,500sq m swimming pool holds floating islands that serve as sunning platforms by day, and candlelit dinner venues by night. For the immodestly moneyed, there’s Amanyara
(Providenciales; amanresorts.com; suites from $1407, room only), an ode to Asian design, set within a nature reserve. Suites are stunning glass boxes with soaring teak ceilings. For a celebrity fest, Parrot Cay (parrotcay.como.bz; rooms from $674, B&B), just off Providenciales, is a playful take on sand-in-your-toes beach chic. Where to eat: Conch are the national dish. Try them at Da Conch Shack (Providenciales; conchshack.tc), a candycoloured diner with views of fishermen unloading their catch. Family-run Coyaba (coyacafeestaurant.com) has al fresco tables and gives Caribbean cuisine an upmarket twist. KWT
World-class diving The Cayman Islands You’ll love it if: you always choose the big blue over the breakfast buffet. Why you’ll love it: Grand Cayman and its tiny sisters Cayman Brac and Little Cayman are the portals to a pristine underwater world, sharing more than 300 dive sites. Renowned Bloody Bay Wall, off Little Cayman, plunges to almost 2,000m (Southern Cross Club: southerncrossclub. com; two-tank morning boat dive, $96), while the MV Captain Keith Tibbetts – a sunken Russian frigate – is one of the best wreck dives in the area. The must-snorkel spot is Stingray City (Red Sail Sports: redsailcayman.com; $72 adults, $35 under-
11s): natural sand cafes where hundreds of friendly stingrays gather in open water, unfazed by two-legged visitors. Where to stay: Little Cayman Beach Resort (littlecayman.com; rooms from $306, half board) has just been renovated in modern Caribbean style, and is the hotspot on Fridays, when most of the island’s 150 residents hit the hotel cafe. Brand-new Lighthouse Point (lighthousepoint-cayman.com; two-bed, two-bath apartments from $435, room only), in Grand Cayman’s West Bay, is the Caribbean’s first true eco dive lodge, with solar and wind power, water
reclamation and more. Nearby, the Cobalt Coast Resort (cobaltcoast.com; rooms from $248, B&B) is one of the most family-friendly dive resorts in the Caribbean; an open-water course for juniors costs $434. Where to eat: At the Lobster Pot (George Town, Grand Cayman; lobsterpot.ky), feast on the local catch and sunset views. Over the Edge (North Side, Grand Cayman; 00 1 345 947 9568) is a beachfront eatery with upmarket Caymanian food – conch fritters, jerk chicken. Or try oceanfront Miss Vivine’s Kitchen (East End, Grand Cayman; 00 1 345 947 7435) for a simpler meal.
Low-key luxe St Vincent and the Grenadines You’ll love it if: you want high quality at reasonable prices. Why you’ll love it: We all know the Caribbean is laid-back, but the 32 islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines take relaxation to a new level. The stylish archipelago is unspoilt, welcoming, and if you avoid celeb-tastic Mustique, more wallet-friendly than almost anywhere else in the West Indies. The main island, St Vincent, with its colourful capital Kingstown, black-sand beaches, waterfalls and volcano, is fantastic for walkers (Sailor Tours: sailortours.com; guided day hikes from $64). The other outcrops have
white-sand beaches and are connected by ferries and planes, making them ideal for two-centre breaks. Unsurprisingly, this is a magnet for yachties, but you don’t need the bank balance of a Russian oligarch to jump on a local charter. Where to stay: For unpretentious charm, try the Frangipani (frangipanibequia. com; rooms from $80, room only), on Bequia, within walking distance of Port Elizabeth town. Beachcomber’s Hotel (beachcombershotel.com; rooms from $104, B&B), on St Vincent, has 31 unfussy rooms right by Villa Beach. If you want to up the luxury, head to Petit St Vincent
(psvresort.com; rooms from $984, full board). There are just 22 cottages on this intimate private island. You’ll also love the boutique Maca Bana (macabana.com). Where to eat: The Sapodilla Room at the Grenadine House Hotel (grenadinehouse. com), in Kingstown, is the best place for a splurge. Come on Friday evenings for live jazz and grilled fish on the terrace. For Italian food on Bequia, head to Mac’s (00 1 784 458 3474), where the lobster pizza is the business. On Mustique, cool off with chilled gazpacho at Basil’s (00 1 784 488 8350), where you’ll pay for the fact you’re sitting next to Liz Hurley.
Pool View from Maca Bana
You’ll love it if: you want to lounge on sandy shores – with nobody else around. Why you’ll love it: With more than 700 islands to choose from in the Bahamas, footprint-free strands of virgin sand outnumber coconut palms. Skip the capital Nassau – overrun by cruise ship hordes – and head instead for the ‘Out Islands’, where life slows to tortoise pace.Which to choose? For easy access and a relaxed vibe (it’s barely worth bringing shoes), aim for the Abacos, a necklace of cays in the northern Bahamas. Base yourself in the dozy, clapboard village of Hope Town on Elbow Cay. The beach here is a corker, with a great reef just offshore. For further exploring, hire a little speedboat from Island Marine (islandmarine.com; day rentals from $125). Within easy reach 44
“Which beach to choose? For easy access and a relaxed vibe (it’s barely worth bringing shoes), aim for the Abacos, a necklace of cays in the northern Bahamas” you have the deserted white beach at Man-O-War Cay and the endless, wheycoloured sweep at Great Guana Cay. Rather somebody else drove the boat? Hop aboard with Froggie’s Out Island Adventures (froggiesabaco.com; half-day islandhopping trips from $58).
Where to stay: Hope Town Hideaways (hopetown.com; seven-person cottage from $4562 a week) has a selection of pastel-painted cottages for rent, scattered across Elbow Cay. Hope Town Harbour Lodge (hopetownlodge.com; rooms from $168, room only) has rooms done up in tasteful tropical style. The beach-front restaurant and pool are perfect for sunsoaked afternoons. Where to eat: On da Beach (00 1 242 366 0557) on Elbow Cay is a breezy seafront shack with freshly grilled mahi-mahi. You’ll need a boat to get to Cracker P’s (crackerps.com), but it’s worth it for the hot smoked fish dip and tender stewed conch. Further south lies Little Harbour, home to Pete’s (00 1 242 577 5487), a ramshackle spot with a small art gallery. Try the grilled grouper with mango salsa.
Latin Spirit Dominican Republic Latin inspired dancers
You’ll love it if: you throw yourself into the mêlée of merengue. Why you’ll love it: The drama of the street, the macho and the flounce – la República Dominicana may technically be in the West Indies, but its steamy vitality will transport you to Latin America. The mesmerising dance movements – whether merengue, salsa or wistful bachata – are addictive. Most people hear Dominican Republic and think immediately of package tourism, but beyond the big-brand hotels is an irrepressible Latin culture and some cool, independent spots. On the north coast, you have the lively resort of Sosua, bursting with great cafes and a good base if you want to visit Puerto Plata, the old port town. Further east on the same coast are Las Terrenas and Samaná, low-key boho spots with affordable shacks by the beach serving red-hot Dominican
food. Dominicans go out every night, so do likewise – eat and enjoy. The colonial capital of Santo Domingo, where the New World (almost) began, is lined with ancient buildings, some dating from 1510. Explore the Alcázar de Colón (Columbus Palace; 00 1 809 682 4750) and its endless pretty courtyards. Across the river is the Faro a Colón (00 1 809 591 1492), a lofty lighthouse in the shape of a cross, completed in 1992 in Columbus’ memory. Giant and concrete, with small stained-glass windows, it looks bizarre but is worth visiting for the atmosphere and the museum. Where to stay: Casa Doña Elvira (donaelvira.com; rooms from $80, B&B), in Santo Domingo, is a charming mansion at the heart of the colonial city, with rooms set around a courtyard and pool. Tropix Hotel (tropixhotel.com; rooms from $24, room only), in Sosua, has simple but attractive
rooms and suites around a pool in a lovely garden, walking distance to the lively town and beach. Or there’s Tropic Banana (00 1 809 240 6110; rooms from $80, B&B) in Las Terrenas on the Samaná Peninsula, with its 30 rooms standing in a tropical garden behind a top beach. It has been a cool retreat for more than 30 years, and is walkable from the main restaurants. Where to eat: El Conuco (elconuco.com. do), in Santo Domingo, may be touristy, but it’s always hopping with live music and dancing waiters. Expect country-style cooking – fried plantains, soup and salted cod. Acuarela Garden Café (00 1 809 261 1000), a hip spot in Puerto Plata set among tropical gardens, sells artworks and serves creative dishes with a focus on seafood. One of a hundred easy eateries in Sosua, Britannia Cafe (00 1 809 571 1959) has tables on the street. KWT
You’ll love it if: you want your holiday snaps to look like National Geographic. Why you’ll love it: You don’t need to hunt down culture in Cuba. It’s in every brick, scratched on every wall, and surging from every transistor radio. Unless you’ve got a month, concentrate on the cultural triangle of Havana, Cienfuegos and Trinidad. The last two cities are within three hours’ drive of Havana (rex-rentacar.com; one week from $528). In the capital, base yourself in the Old Town, where the crumbling pastel-coloured houses you’ve seen in snapshots line the streets. Listen to live Cuban music at Café Taberna (no phone) by day, and El Gato Tuerto (00 53 7 166 2224) by night. Afterwards, join the locals on their nightly promenade on the Malecón, a wide, stone sea wall. At the weekend, go to the Gran Teatro (00 53 7 861 3096; tickets from $6) for opera, modern dance and ballet. Beautifully preserved Trinidad was founded by the Spanish in 1514 and is now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Its 46
photogenic buildings include a former sugar-plantation mansion. And don’t miss the street markets in the cobbled Old Town. Cienfuegos, another colonial-era classic, is on the seafront. It might lack Trinidad’s wow factor, but has fewer crowds as a result. Stop at La Unión hotel for a cold juice in the leafy courtyard. Where to stay: Jack Nicholson, Sting and Jimmy Carter have all booked in at Hotel Santa Isabel (hotelsantaisabel.com; rooms from $130, B&B), a 19th-century mansion on Plaza de Armas in Havana’s Old Town. Hotel Saratoga (hotel-saratoga.com; rooms from $280, room only) is another 19th-century building that’s been restored and reborn. Rooms are Spanish-stylish – terracotta floors, mahogany dressers, rustic tiling – and the rooftop pool is reason enough to check in. In Trinidad, the colonial Iberostar Gran Hotel (iberostar. com; rooms from $154, B&B) is the best address outside Havana: a good base to place yourself.
“You don’t need to hunt down culture in Cuba. It’s in every brick, scratched on every wall, and surging from every transistor radio” Where to eat: A touch touristy but in too pretty a location to miss, Havana’s Plaza de Catedral (00 53 7 867 1034), El Patio, serves classic Cuban food accompanied by live bolero bands. What family-run La Guarida (laguarida.com) lacks in facade (it’s in a decrepit house in Havana) it makes up for with beautiful food. At Paladar Estela (00 53 4 199 4329), in Trinidad, Estela serves huge platters of chicken and black beans in her garden.
Clockwise from this image: Classic American cars, Cuban street musicians, Traditional Cuban casserole. Opposite from left: Souvenir seller on beach, Cuban musician walking through streets.
Yachty Life British Virgin Islands You’ll love it if: you like fruit juice served at a steady 10 knots. Why you’ll love it: Roughly 300km west of Antigua, the British Virgin Islands form a buffer against the southeasterly swell, creating one of the best sailor’s playgrounds in the world. With raucous beach cafes and countless sandy coves, plus a dependable 20-knot tradewind to take you between them, the 60-odd islands were made for hopping.The BVIs also take nightlife seriously, nowhere more so than at Bomba’s Surfside Shack (bombasurfsideshack.com), in Cappoon’s Bay on Tortola, a fabulously ramshackle beach hut made of driftwood and corrugated tin; its full-moon events are legendary.With ridiculously idyllic beaches wherever you care to look, this is castaway perfection. Money Bay in the southeast of Norman Island is one of your best bets for a slice of private paradise. And the best snorkelling? Hard to argue with The Indians off Pelican Island: clear water to 20m, spectacular coral heads, blue tangs
With ridiculously idyllic beaches, this is castaway perfection and parrot fish in swarms, plus the odd turtle and eagle ray. Where to stay: Tamarind Club (tamarindclub.com; rooms from $109, B&B) is a great budget option, only a 10-minute walk from Tortola’s best surf beach at Josiah’s Bay, with air-conditioned rooms around a lovely pool. At the other end of the scale, Peter Island (peterisland. com; rooms from $662, full board) is a splendid private-island resort. Somewhere in between is Nail Bay Resort (nailbay. com; rooms from $205, room only) on Virgin Gorda, with hillside suites and villas overlooking the channel. Where to eat: Best food on the island? Undoubtedly barbecued lobster ($32 for a whole one) at the Big Bamboo (00 1 284 499 1680) on Anegada island’s Loblolly Bay. 48
Colonial charm St Kitts and Nevis
Lavish garden in St Kitts
GETTING AROUND BY AIR: Two of the Caribbean airlines with the greatest coverage of islands are Liat (liatairline. com) and Winair (fly-winair.com). Other domestic airlines include: Caribbean Airlines, based in Trinidad (caribbean-airlines.com); Air Caraïbes, based in Guadeloupe (aircaraibes.com); and Gulfstream, based in the Bahamas (gulfstreamair.com).
BY FERRY: It’s possible to get around island groups such as the BVIs by local ferry (visit the islands’ tourist board websites for schedules). However, you can also island-hop from country to country. From St Martin, you can sail to St Cafets from $75 return (www.st-cafeths.com). You can also sail easily between the French islands – Guadeloupe, Dominica, Martinique and St Lucia – with either L’Express des Iles
You’ll love it if: you want a tranquil, timewarped Caribbean. Why you’ll love it: The jet age only recently reached this appealing two-island cluster, and although British Airways now rumbles into St Kitts, Nevis is still in the era of fluttery propellor planes. Moody plantation houses in dark basalt are the big draw on both – some comfy hotels, others whimsical outposts filled with the clutter of generations – Wuthering Heights in the West Indies, if you will. Where to stay: On St Kitts, try Rawlins Plantation Inn (rawlinsplantation.com; rooms from $211, B&B), an essay in mahogany and vivid Caribbean fabrics. Golden Lemon Inn and Villas (goldenlemon. com; rooms from $170, B&B) is a quirky one-off in citrussy tones, owned by an exeditor of US House & Garden. On Nevis, try Montpelier Plantation Inn (montpeliernevis. com; rooms from $304, B&B), with simple cottages and bags of atmosphere. Nisbet Plantation Beach Club (nisbetplantation. com; rooms from $352, half board) is also calmly colonial, with history: it’s where Nelson met sweetheart Fanny Nisbet. Where to eat: Order lobster bisque with vanilla essence at The Beach House (stkittsbeachhouse.com), a sunny pavilion on St Kitts. Do chicken salad at Sunshine’s Beach Cafe and Grill (sunshinenevis. com). It’s a laid-back shack, but keep eyes peeled for celebrities. Golden Rock Inn (golden-rock.com) is an eerie beauty with a spectacular high perch, views of Montserrat island, and a famously good lobster sandwich.
(express-des-iles.com) or Brudey (brudeyfreres.fr). WHEN TO GO: Peak season runs from mid-December to April, when the weather is warm and dry – though prices are at a premium, especially over spring half-term. Hurricane season runs June 1 to November 30, with the highest risk of storms tending to be in August and September.
Want an Indian Ocean idyll all to yourself? The Andamans are the most perfect islands nobodyâ€™s ever heard of, says Laura Goulden (smugly)
Koh Hong Island. Opposite from Top: Tropical Coral, Longboat parked on shoreline.
‘There was once a king cobra in the kitchen,’ says Julio as I finish off a plate of his fine calamari. ‘It was a long time ago, of course,’ he backtracks as he clocks our panicky stares. ‘And very few guests actually see a snake. But you should always look where you tread.’ The 150m stretch separating me from bed suddenly seems very long indeed.It’s our first night in the Andaman Islands, a few tiny freckles in the Indian Ocean – technically part of India, but actually closer to Thailand – and it’s already clear that this is not going to be your average sun-sea-and-sand holiday. My mum and I wanted a slice of Indian Ocean paradise but we didn’t want slatelined plunge pools, $1,500-a-night suites and sunset drinks parties. Mum had just had a big birthday and I was newly single. She wanted adventure, and I didn’t want to share a beach with hordes of honeymooners. Months back, I’d seen a YouTube video of an elephant swimming under the brilliant-blue
waves off little-known Havelock Island, using his trunk as a snorkel. I’d been smitten. I’d never even heard of the Andamans, but a quick Google search revealed that Kate Winslet had stayed at the same place. To appeal to both Oscar-winning actresses and aquatic elephants, this island had to be special. We booked. Havelock is the most well-known of the Andamans. But that’s a bit like saying that Richard Darbyshire is the most famous member of ’80s band Living in a Box. Only a handful of the islands in this 200-strong chain are inhabited, and most are fiercely protected national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and tribal reserves, making them strictly off-limits. Ignore these boundaries at your peril. The tribe on North Sentinel Island in South Andaman is so determined to remain detached from the outside world that when a police helicopter flew over to assess the damage done by the tsunami, they threw spears at it. Who can blame them? Contact with Eastern traders and British settlers (the capital, Port Blair, was a penal colony in the 19th century) has had disastrous consequences for other native tribes. Some were forced into slavery; others fell prey to alcohol, opium and Western diseases. The few that remain have been settled in designated areas in the archipelago. Thankfully, the islands’ remoteness (the journey to Havelock involves a two-hour flight from Chennai in southern India, followed by a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride) means that the wildlife has had a better deal: the islands are ringed by immaculate coral reefs and are home to plant and animal species you won’t find anywhere else on the planet. This isolation is also the reason that it’s mostly tenacious backpacker-types who tend to make it out here. There isn’t a chain hotel in sight. In fact, Barefoot Hotel is the only one on Havelock that couldn’t be described as frill-free, and one of the few places you can spend more than $75 a night (thatched bungalows start at a modest $100). Here, a handful of stilted huts squat behind creeperclad palms and ferns. Ours is an elegant, unfussy teak number, with a mosquito-net-draped four-poster KWT
Clockwise from this image: Longboat cruises down the coast. seafood salad, scuba diver amongst the coral. Opposite: Stone Elephant submerged under water.
and a rather temperamental electricity supply. The resort is positioned behind the unimaginatively named Beach Number
harmless giant gekko who hangs out at reception. She says it’s not unusual to see 15 species of birds, from parakeets to the little
Thea, one of Barefoot’s Activities Guides, tells me about an overnight camping trip on a deserted island. In a moment of sugar-
Seven, the prize pearl in the necklace of beaches that loop the island. It’s an empty stretch of luminous sand backed by tall, red mowha trees and stroked by waves the unnatural shade of blue you only ever see in touched-up brochure images. The Andamans, it seems, have inherited the good looks of their neighbour, Thailand, when it comes to coastline. That first evening, we sit on our balcony slurping sugary coconut juice straight from the nut, listening to the electric buzz of cicadas and scaring each other by taking guesses on what creature is making the loud tapping noise coming from the forest. Later, we dine at Mahua, the beachside Italian run by Julio, a former archaeologist who was so charmed by the place that he abandoned a successful career in Italy to run a rickety restaurant here. Over coffee, Tasneem, a sparkly-eyed regular guest who’s writing a book on the wildlife of the Andamans, reveals that the tapping noise we heard earlier wasn’t coming from the forest but from a
yellow Andaman bulbul, in a single morning at the resort, and that yes, there are snakes – people come here to track cobras – but unwanted encounters are very rare. As for Rajan, the resident elephant and local celebrity (as well as the YouTube videos, he also had a part in fantasy film The Fall), he roams the forest freely, but at the respectable age of 57, his swimming days are almost behind him. You’ve got more chance of seeing him padding about in the trees at dawn. You really needn’t stray further than the beach to return home with a fresh appreciation for nature and plenty of I-betyou-haven’t-even-heard-of-where-we’vebeen kudos. And for the first few days we don’t. Days pass easily as we lie flat-out, staring past our feet at the shimmering ocean, occasionally straying as far as Neil’s Cove at the north end of Number Seven, where the rocky shoreline makes for better snorkelling. One lazy afternoon, I’m tucking into a banana pancake in the restaurant when
fuelled enthusiasm, I sign us up: Mum wanted adventure, after all, didn’t she? We’re off at 8am, cramming into an open-sided Jeep with a few others from the hotel: two English couples currently living in Delhi (thankfully, neither are honeymooners), a German lady called Clara and her two children. We clatter down the pot-holed road towards the jetty, past palms, goats tethered in emerald fields, and ramshackle huts with girls in citrus-coloured saris huddled outside braiding each others’ hair. Aboard our boat, we stretch out in the shade of the canopy and motor into open ocean. The salty breeze cools our pink faces as our local guide Nelson teaches his band of boy helpers how to trace a zigzag path across the twinkling water to avoid the reef below. Clara, it turns out, is the sort of ‘trophy traveller’ who’s probably only come to the Andamans so she can brag to friends about being the first to visit. Although that’s pretty understandable, really. These islands feel like such a find, it’s enough to turn anyone
“We compare sightings – humbugstriped fish, squid and electric-blue starfish the size of car wheels” into a slideshow bore, and I must admit to a tiny degree of smugness in my postcards.Our destination, deserted Henry Lawrence Island, is fronted by a crescent of rose-tinted sand, dotted with sun-bleached scraps of coral, clam-shells and little hermit crabs dragging their adopted homes behind them. We stop and gawp. The peace is soon shattered as everyone yanks on snorkels and flippers and waddles clumsily towards the glassy sea. Post-snorkel, we compare sightings – humbug-striped fish, squid and electric-blue starfish the size of car wheels – while sitting on a makeshift palm-leaf picnic blanket. Ravenous, we tuck into a campfire lunch of fried aubergine, spicy daal and rice. Over the meal, it emerges that, although we’ll be looked after by Thea and Nelson, Mum and I are the only ones in the group staying the night. ‘This is the best island
for camping,’ exclaims Thea. ‘On some of the others you get people coming to pick coconuts, but here there’s nobody. One of the guides saw a saltwater croc once, but they won’t come out here in the open.’ Mum winces. She was looking for adventure but this could be a step too far. Not wanting to be outdone, Clara chips in: ‘We once saw a mountain lion outside our tent in Canada.’ ‘Why don’t you stay too?’ I challenge her, banking on the principle of safety in numbers. But she pretends not to hear and suddenly becomes absorbed in coating her kids in a layer of sunblock. After they leave, Nelson takes us into the jungle behind the beach. He knows these islands like the back of his hand and we pad behind him as he gently clears the way by tucking stringy vines behind branches. To our relief, nothing either slithery or toothy crosses our path, but hang around long enough and you might see spotty civet cats, wild boar and white-bellied sea eagles. We emerge just in time to watch the sun slide seawards, streaking the sky with stripes of cherry and plum. As the fire crackles, we glug warm drinks to bring on sleep – our
tents have been put up for us, but there’s only a sheet and a yoga mat for comfort, and loo breaks involve scurrying behind a fallen tree. Soon, there are so many stars that the sky looks like a giant sieve. We cool off with a quick dip before bed and the black water sparkles electric green with phosphorescence when disturbed. The heat is stifling and neither of us sleeps a wink, but it’s been worth it for the nighttime light display alone.After the excitement of the camping trip, we move as little as possible for the rest of our stay. One particularly adventurous evening, we hop into a rickshaw and hurtle towards Beach Number Five, a thin palm-backed ribbon of gold on the other side of the island. On the edge of the sand, Wild Orchid restaurant has a fish-shaped lantern dangling from a thatched roof, and steaming prawn coconut curries for a measly $5. After dinner, we retire to the gaudily painted lounge and get chatting to a young Indian couple. ‘We’re trying to change our flights to give us just one more day,’ they say glassy-eyed. We, on the other hand, can’t wait to get home – we’re going to dine out on this trip for months. KWT
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Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia: Riyadh, Saudi Arabia: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia: Mahooz, Bahrain:
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Doha, Qatar: Dubai, UAE: Abu Dhabi, UAE: Muscat, Oman:
+974 4483777 / 4483704 +971 4 3341444 +971 2 6313900 +968 24700249 / 24700279
CONCIERGE NEW YORK
CONCIERGE NEW YORK
THE 30-SECOND CONCIERGE
THE 21 CLUB, NEW YORK So tell me about the 21 Club... It’s one of the city’s most-loved places to dine – beautifully decorated and located right in the heart of Manhattan. It’s been used as the backdrop in several movies, including ‘One Fine Day’ with George Clooney. On a chilly day, there’s no nicer place to unwind than by the club’s open fire, with some of their signature snacks (try the selection of artisanal cheeses). And what’s it near? Everything – if you’ve been shopping at Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany & Co or FAO Schwarz it’s just around the corner.
If you’ve been visiting the Museum of Modern Art, Times Square or Radio City Music Hall, you’re mere steps away. And if you’ve got tickets booked for a show at Carnegie Hall or any of the theatres on Broadway, it’s the perfect spot to pop into for a pre-show bite to eat. And where should I stay while I’m in Manhattan? Book yourself a room at The Peninsula, the St. Regis, the Waldorf-Astoria or the W New York and you’ll be right near the 21 - check in then pop over for lunch... 21club.com
Acropolis Hill Right: shrimp Saganki
Visit Athens Ancient treasures, modern pleasures – the historic Greek capital has timeless appeal says Poorna Shetty Under a perennially clear sky, Athens charms its visitors with a treasure chest of attractions: crumbling frescoes, Doric pillars and marbled statues. It’s all so ancient, until – wham! – the next thing you know, you’re wandering through Gazi, a superior version of London’s Hoxton. This city is a bewitching mix of culture and craziness: the iconic Parthenon rising regally on one side of the city; on the other, Lycabettus Hill, where a modern amphitheatre hosts music artists such as Joss Stone and Franz Ferdinand. Bridging the 56
divide between them is the New Acropolis Museum, a glass shell brimful of ancient treasures. Thankfully, the 2004 Olympics brought with them a new metro system that makes this jumbled city far easier to navigate... WHERE TO STAY Hotel Grande Bretagne Syntagma Square (grandebretagne.gr). This is the glitziest hotel in town, with renovated 19thcentury public areas that make up for the small standard rooms. Beautiful antique furnishings and a
central location add to the appeal. Rooms from $450, room only. Semiramis Charilaou Trikoupi St, semiramisathens.com. Up in Kifissia, this is the city’s coolest hotel, furnished quite cartoonishly with a palette of pastels. Large rooms come with Perspex cupboards and sweetie-coloured sinks, while the Miami-look outdoor pool makes it great for summer stays. Rooms from $246, B&B. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Periscope Haritos St, periscope.gr. Resembling a grey
cube from the outside, Periscope is rather like a submarine inside, with minimalist
slate-and-white decor in the bedrooms and a bunker-esque lounge. And, yes, it does have
ASK THE LOCAL Alexandra Grispou is a PR manager, who was born and bred in Athens. After work, I like to pick up a coffee from Da Capo in Kolonaki Square (1 Tsakalof) – it’s where the rich and famous go and a good place for celeb-spotting. If I’m in the mood to cook at home, I pick up fresh oregano and basil from the Central Market on Athinas Street. Otherwise, I’ll have a meal with friends at The Butcher Shop restaurant (19 Persefonis; 00 30 210 341 3440) in Gazi – it’s great if you’re craving meat. To unwind, I drive along the coastline at sunset, from Palio Faliro to Sounio, next to the Poseidon Temple. Avoid the tourist food hubs – instead, go to Keratsini, near Piraeus, which has a clutch of small tavernas serving fresh Greek seafood.
Clockwise from this image: Quinta da Casa Branca - Hotel Entrance, Choupana Hills Resort, Coast, Levada Walk, Choupana Hills Resort
Clockwise from this image: Athens Subway passing through the Ancient Agora. Pool view at Semiramis Hotel. Lobster salad at Semiramis Hotel.
DO SAY: ‘I agree, the Elgin – I mean, the Parthenon Marbles should definitely be returned to Athens.’ DON’T SAY: ‘Marbles, schmarbles – it’s all Greek to me.’ ANIMAL MAGIC: Vegetarianism is generally held in low regard in Athens – Greek meals mostly consist of meat served with meat… and a side of meat. a periscope – good for people-watching. Rooms from $200, B&B. BabyGrand Hotel Athinas and Lycourgou, classicalhotels.com This arty hotel has individually designed ‘graffiti’ rooms, including a suite with Smurf wallpaper. The kitsch decor continues downstairs in the lounge, while the reception desk is fashioned out of a Mini Cooper. Rooms from $200. B&B. WHERE TO EAT Varoulko Pireos, Keramikos (00 30 210 522 8400).
Occupying the best of both worlds – located in trendy Gazi, overlooking the ancient Acropolis – Michelin-starred Varoulko is nearly always packed. The portions are large so you might want to skip the starter, but with exquisite mains such as stuffed red mullet on eggplant mousse, it’s hardly a sacrifice. Mains around $60. Pil Poul et Jérôme Serres Apostolou Pavlou (00 30 210 342 3665). Michelin-starred chef Jérôme serves Frenchstyle dishes with Greek drinks, an unusual mix
that works superbly. Set in a Neo-Classical mansion with views of the Acropolis, the restaurant focuses on Greek ingredients, alongside classics such as smoked foie gras. It’s perfect for a romantic dinner. Mains around $37. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Sardelles Persefonis (sardelles.gr). Follow the locals and you’ll find yourself at Sardelles. Filled with the smell of fresh basil, the creamshuttered restaurant is unbeatable for grilled sardines and jumbo prawns. Service is
excellent. Mains around $27. Prytaneion Kolokotroni St (prytaneion.gr). Moodier than its Kolonaki branch, this restaurant has class oozing from its softly lit slate walls. The food is great for the price – especially the fresh seafood and pasta. Take our advice and divide the tiramisu between two. Mains around $33. SHOPPING Orsalia Parthenis Dimokritou (orsaliaparthenis.gr). Located in upmarket Kolonaki, this is the
place to find a party outfit. Go for the delicate evening wear and cool shifts. For beauty, you don’t have to use the ubiquitous Korres brand – the Greek beauty line du jour is Apivita, which uses beehives as a key ingredient in products. Get them from the shop at Solonos Street in downtown Athens. You can find cheap treats at Monistiraki Flea Market, open on Sundays when all the other shops are shut. Catch the metro to Thissio and walk down Adrianou. It’s open from around 8.30am until 3.30pm. KWT
MOROC C O
The Fez skyline at night Right: A Seffarine coppersmith at work
Visit Fez From mosques and medinas to gastro grub and shopping hubs – the ancient city is simmering says Sally Davies Fez – the most ancient of Morocco’s great imperial cities –stands in stark, refreshing contrast to Marrakech. Hidden behind those faceless walls you’ll find beautiful riads set around elegant central courtyards that you wouldn’t dream you could afford. What’s more, Fez’s reputation as Morocco’s gastronomic hub is hotting up, as visitors arrive looking for meals. Finally, Fez is up there among the world’s most fabulous shopping centres. You’ll need at least a week to do justice to the endless lanes of soft leather 58
babouches (slippers) in every imaginable colour, the teetering stacks of blue and white ceramics, grottoes filled with antique kilim rugs and cushions, and the impossibly neat pyramids of olives, nuts and spices.
But what makes this place unique is the air of French elegance conferred by owners Mireille and Christian Laroche. Their taste in antique furniture and objets d’art is immaculate. Rooms from $96, B&B.
dispels any feelings of unworthiness. Rooms from $102, B&B. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Riad Tizwa
Derb Guebas, Batha (riadtizwa.com). Owned by the Scottish Bee brothers, the Tizwa (‘beehive’) is a bright and cheerful riad, with
ASK THE LOCAL Rajae Drissi is a teacher of Arabic literature at a high school in the medina.
WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED Riad Al Bartal 21 Derb Sournas, Ziat (riadalbartal.com). The elements of riad style are all present here: blue-and-white zellij tilework, intricate stucco, burnished tadelakt walls and cascading greenery.
Dar Seffarine Derb Sbaa Louyate (darseffarine.com). A discreet wooden door in a well-hidden alleyway opens into this lofty former palace. Its vast rooms verge on intimidating, with ancient painted wooden ceilings and towering panelled doors, but the warmth of the welcome
Early in the morning, go to the square outside Bab Boujloud to watch the swifts swooping around the city walls, where they nest. It’s a beautiful sight and just inside the gate on the left is a great place for breakfast of mlawa bread with honey. When the medina gets too much, duck into the peaceful square of the henna souk, have a mint tea in Place Nejjarine, or try the small, traditional Bou Suiffa hammam on Talâa Kebira. Most visitors head straight to the Chouwara Tanneries, but I can’t bear to watch people having to work so hard; it’s like a human zoo. I’d rather see the skilled coppersmiths in their Seffarine workshops.
Clockwise from this image: Moroccan carpets for sale, Mosque entrance, Tajine with kofta, Medina entrance, Balcony detail at Dar El Menia.
LUCKY ROLL: Bread is considered sacred in Fez, and if you see a piece on the floor you should pick it up, kiss it and place it out of harm’s way (which is why you see lumps of mouldy dough shoved in building crevices around the city). GET LOST: Although nobody has ever counted, locals claim there are more than 10,000 (some say 40,000) alleyways in the medina. MAD HATTERS: Shopping for a hat? Choose from 19 different types of Fez. a room for every budget but an egalitarian approach to the little luxuries that make it special: tasselled bathrobes, handmade soap, green silk throws on the beds and his ‘n’ hers babouches. It’s cool in summer, and cosy in winter; the sitting room and a couple of the bedrooms have log fires. Rooms from $75, B&B. Dar El Menia Derb El Menia, El Kobra (medinafes.com). Owned by a Brit but run by an accommodating Moroccan family, the El Menia is as compact as riads come, with space to relax on the roof terrace or in an inexpensive suite. The house sleeps 11 and
can be rented in its entirety; guests have use of a kitchen. Rooms from $75, B&B.
WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Riad Fez Derb bin Slimane, Zerbtana (riadfes.com). Reward yourself for finding this hidden riad by having a coffee at its smart lounge. Dinner features couscous, briouates (filo parcels of meat and rice) and pastilla (pigeon pie made with filo and dusted with sugar), and while the food isn’t necessarily quite as spectacular as the surroundings, it’s the place to watch Fez’s gilded youth at play. Set menus from $50.
Kaï Taï Rue Ahmed Chaouki I (00 212 535 651700). When the taste of tagines starts to pall, head to the Ville Nouvelle for (surprisingly good) Japanese and Thai food – or order from your hotel bed, as there is now a takeaway service. The menu is extensive, the futuristic Zen look immaculate. Mains around $18. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Café Clock Derb El-Magana, Talâa Kebira (cafeclock.com). Moroccan and foreign society meet over jam sessions at the Clock, which has breathed new life into the medina. Food is scrumptious: camel burgers with
homemade ketchup, Moroccan tapas, steak sandwiches and dangerously good cheesecake. Mains around $9. Fez et Gestes Arsat El Hamoumi, Ziat (fes-et-gestes.ma). This eccentric salon de thé and lunch restaurant is in a Colonial-style house. Tables are arranged around a pond in a pretty garden, or in a tiny library if the weather is bad. Mezze is followed by a plat du jour, such as a tagine, fruit and mint tea. Set lunch, $10.50.
SHOPPING Chez Mehdi Rue Ahmed
Mekouar, Batha. Selling antique furniture, wood carvings, hangings and ceramics, this is a cut above most of the medina’s tourist traplike options. Arganza 9 Rue de la Poste, Batha. Here’s a whole boutique devoted to the latest cosmetic: Moroccan argan oil, feted for its rejuvenating properties. Rosalie 24 Ave Prince Heritier, Champs de Course, Ville Nouvelle. Try the favoured pâtisserie of wellheeled Fassi, with a rainbow of miniature macaroons among the éclairs, brownies and millefeuilles. KWT
Riverside scene Below: The facade and entrance to Christ Church, one of the largest collages in Oxford
Visit Oxford Beautiful, brilliant, bizarre – Oxford is a city with a split personality. Try town and gown, says Julia Buckley… Where’s the university?’ visitors ask when they arrive in Oxford. Tell them it’s everywhere, and they’ll look confused. But then, Oxford likes to baffle outsiders. Instead of a central campus, it squirrels its students away in 38 private colleges, with porters, gates and (for the older buildings) battlements to keep out interlopers. Undergraduates get togged up in bizarre black gowns to take exams, for official university business and even, in some colleges, to eat their dinner. And students aren’t called ‘students’; they’re able, sometimes, to forget there’s a living city beyond the dreaming spires. Oxford town, 60
however, likes to claim fierce autonomy from the gown contingent. In all honesty, though, they’re not exactly seas apart – with ancient inns on every corner and the 235-year-old Covered Market remaining a bastion of independent shops, even ‘towny’ Oxford could double as the set for a costume drama. And as the sun comes out and the punts emerge from their winter hibernation, the gulf between the communities shrinks a little more. So try both… WHERE TO STAY NO EXPENSE SPARED Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons Church Road, Great Milton, manoir.com. Individually designed
rooms (from the smaller Beatrix Potter-ish ones to the oriental Opium suite with its own walled garden) and masterful food (much of which comes from his own garden) put Raymond Blanc’s 15th-century Chiltern manor in the fantasies of every cash-strapped student. The only downside is, it’s 18km out of town. Rooms from $690, B&B. Old Bank 92-94 High Street, oldbank-hotel.co.uk Opposite Radcliffe Square, the Old Bank has some of the most iconic views in town. Inside, it’s the interiordesign version of ‘smart casual’, with neat sketches on the walls and cream-coloured
ASK THE LOCAL Giles Walker is a lecturer in Italian based at Oriel College, and has lived in Oxford for 19 years. The best way to get in and see Oxford’s private colleges is to befriend a porter or student. The other way to sneak into a college is to say ‘I used to study here’ – but be prepared for questions. Oxford is at its most beautiful early on Sunday mornings in late spring or early autumn; not many students (or tourists) are out of bed then, so for a little while you will have the place to yourself. And if you want to talk like an Oxonian, say ‘the High’ (for High Street), ‘the Broad’ (Broad Street) and ‘the Turl’ (Turl Street). rooms rambling round the 18th-century building. The residents’ lounge is open till
2am, with a ‘batphone’ on hand to summon service. Rooms from $192, room only.
Clockwise from this image: View over Oxford spires from Sheldonian Theatre, Bedroom in Oxford Malmaison, Radcliffe Camera, A man enjoys his picnic in the sun
INSPIRED THINKING: The phrase ‘dreaming spires’ was coined by poet Matthew Arnold in 1865. RUNNING LATE: Christ Church runs on ‘Tom Tower time’ (named after its Christopher Wren-designed clock tower) – five minutes behind GMT. $10 BUYS: A bottle of rose-scented (and coloured) ink from 27 Scriptum. JAWS AHOY:The Headington Shark — erected in 1986 — is a 7.5m fibreglass shark plumbed headfirst into the roof of 2 New High Street, Headington. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Malmaison Oxford Castle, malmaison-oxford.com A night in a converted prison cell wouldn’t be everyone’s first choice, but this beautiful conversion of Oxford Jail, which closed in 1996, has given the cells a calm, monastic feel. Choose from the Governor’s House or ‘A’ wing, where each spacious room is the size of three former cells. Rooms from $150, room only. Mercure Eastgate Hotel 73 High Street, accorhotels.com. Cast your chain-hotel suspicions aside; the Eastgate’s crumbly 17th-century coaching inn is the closest you’ll
get to staying in a college, and even the smallest rooms have stunning views. Rooms from $180, room only. WHERE TO EAT NO EXPENSE SPARED Gee’s 61 Banbury Road, geesrestaurant.co.uk. In an old glasshouse, lit by chandeliers, Gee’s is Disney-esque in its prettiness. On the plate: simple, seasonal British dishes – rabbit cottage pie, braised beef – with locally sourced ingredients (many from the owner’s farm). Mains about $23. Cherwell Boathouse Bardwell Road, cherwellboathouse. co.uk. As ‘Oxford’ a setting
as you can get – at a punt station on the river Cherwell – the Boathouse is idyllic in summer, and starkly beautiful in winter. Food is posh (grilled loin of halibut or split lentil shepherd’s pie), but startlingly good value if you go for the set menu of $34.50 for three courses. Mains about $25.50. MIDDLE OF THE ROAD Quod 92-94 High Street, quod. co.uk. A good all-rounder, Quod has student street-cred while being smart enough for a parental visit. Some come for the canvases on the walls (it’s part of the arty Old Bank hotel), others for the
atmosphere — but the home made burgers are the main event, arriving on wooden slabs, with chips in grease-proof paper. Mains about $12. Vaults & Gardens Radcliffe Square, vaultsandgardens.com. Tourists love it because it’s part of the 14th-century university; locals go for its hefty helpings of organic food and vast vegetarian selection, such as chickpea and apricot tagine. Mains about $9. SHOPPING Blackwell’s 48-51 Broad Street. Boasts what’s claimed to be the world’s largest display of books for sale in its basement
Norrington Room, which burrows right back under Trinity College. Scriptum 3 Turl Street, scriptum. co.uk. Only in Oxford could you find this gentleman’s study of a store. The shop’s selection of quills, perfumed inks and leather-bound journals is straight out of Austen. Uncle Sam’s 25 Little Clarendon Street. Here since the times when ‘vintage’ was plain ‘second-hand’, Uncle Sam’s is the place to find retro sunglasses, Hawaiian shirts and velvet blazers. For both sexes. KWT
Feeling excited about your holiday? Check through our list of the most popular Kanoo Travel offices, find one near you and head down or call up to turn your getaway dreams into reality... BAHRAIN Abu Obeidah Avenue Wroad No. 302 Manama Tel. 17 576950 Mahooz Tel. 17 828754 Awali Branch Sitrah Avenue Road No. 4522 Awali Tel. 17 756487 Al Moayd Tower Manama Tel. 17 220220 Kanoo Holidays Mahooz Tel.17 828802 Kanoo Travel Refinery Tel. 17 755012 Airport Office Bahrain Tel. 17 321325 Egypt Air Manama Tel. 17 220747 Lufthansa Mahooz Tel. 17 828763 Air India Manama Tel. 17 220788 Cyprus Airways Manama Tel. 17 220 849 British Airways Manama Tel. 17 220701 Qantas / Jetabout Manama Tel. 17220743 Thai International Mahooz Tel. 17 828771 Air Canada / Austrian Airlines / Polish Olympic Airways / Sudan Airways / Sas / Swiss Int’l / Tunis Mahooz Tel. 17 828770
EGYPT Alexandria Booz Allen 1 Youssef El-Shazly Street Roushdy, Alexandria Tel. 002 03 5459265
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FRANCE Foreign Exchange 11 Rue Scribe Paris 75009 Tel. +33 1 5300 9897 Foreign Exchange 11 Cours de I’Intendance Bordeaux 33000 Tel. +33 5 5600 6336 Bureau de Change Kanoo Printemps Dept. Store 64 Boulevard Haussmann 75009 PARIS Tel. +33 1 4282 4181
OMAN Kanoo Travel LLC PO Box 75 114 Jibroo, Muscat Tel. +968 24700249
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Air India Jubail Tel. 03 362 3454
Kanoo Building Corniche Road Jubail Tel. 03 362 2340
Qantas Khobar Tel. 03 882 3711 / 2467
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United Airlines / Air Canada / Singapore Airlines / Swissair / Austrian Airlines Tel. 03 882 1518/ 2962 / 2602 / 03 882 4477 / 4442 / 4890 / 4533
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Srilankan Airlines Khobar Tel. 03 882 2789 / 2675 / 2792
King Faisal Foundation Al Khairia Complex Riyadh Tel. 01 463 4454
Gulf Air Khobar Tel. 03 896 8496 / 9393 / 8493
Wazir Street Al Azizea Building
Gulf Air Dammam Tel.03 835 4194 / 4917 / 4952 Gulf Air Qatif Tel. 03 852 9384 / 854 5240
Khamis Abha Main Road Khamis Mushayat Tel. 07 222 3624
United Airlines Jeddah Tel. 02 263 3021 / 2959 Ext. 196 / 197
Prince Sultan Street Gizan Tel. 07 317 4285
Gulf Air Rastanura Tel. 03 667 8041/ 7972
Airline Centre King Abdul Aziz Street Al Khobar Tel. 03 882 2206
Gulf Air Hofuf Tel. 03 585 3358 / 4080 / 2252
Aboobacker Al Siddiq Street, Medina Tel. 04 823 9120
Dhahran Street Damman Tel. 03 833 7694
Riyadh Tel. 01 411 4780 Batha Riyadh Tel. 01 403 0368 Al Kubaih Street Buraidah Tel. 06 325 0888 Airport Road Hail Tel. 06 543 0430 Sharjah Street Hotat Bani Tamim Al Hotah Tel. 01 555 0304
CONCIERGE WHERE TO BOOK
Silsilah Road Onaiza Al Qassim Tel. 06 362 0080 Main Street Al Khamseen Wadi Ad Dawasir Tel. 01 784 6500 Kanoo Travel Naseem Tel. 01 232 8519 Air India Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 295 / 296
Green Community Mall Jebel Ali Road Dubai Tel. 04 885 3321 Kanoo Travel – American Express Hermitage Building Al Karama Tel. 04 334 9219 Najda Street Abu Dhabi Tel. 02 678 0400 Kanoo Holidays Dubai Tel. 04 334 1444 / 315 6624
Gulf Air Olaya, Riyadh Tel. 01 461 0589 / 462 4902
Marine Travel Services Dubai Tel. 04 335 1314
United Airlines / Air Canada Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 289, 290
Airport Office Dubai Tel. 04 393 1963
Qantas Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 288, 305
Kanoo Travel Corniche, Abu Dhabi Tel. 02 631 3900 / 631 8187
Srilankan Airlines Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 292 X 293
Birmingham American Express Bank House. 8 Cherry Street Tel. 0121 644 5514 / 0121 644 5560
Philippine Airlines Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 237 X 238
Bournemouth American Express 95A Old Christchurch Road Tel. 0787 260 0528 / 01202 780 752
Air India Buraidah Tel. 06 324 6514 / 325 0888 Gulf Air Hail. Tel. 06 532 0280 Gulf Air Buraidah Tel. 06 324 6514 / 325 0888 Singapore Airlines Kanoo Tower Tel. 4734102 / 4734103
UAE Jebel Ali LOB 16, Ground Floor Jebel Ali Free Zone Tel. 04 881 5050 Karama Al Fathooi Centre Dubai Tel. 04 334 1222 Kanoo Building Khalid Bin Al Waleed Street, Bur Dubai Tel. 04 507 2242 Dubai Internet City Building 12 Tel. 04 390 1992 Deira City Centre Dubai Tel. 04 294 1481 Kanoo Building Al Orouba Street, Sharjah Tel. 06 561 6058
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SOFITEL DUBAI JUMEIRAH BEACH Looking for a fun getaway in Dubai? Enter this competition and you’ll be in with a chance of winning a night in a Junior Suite at the recently-opened Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach (sofitel.com), with dinner for two at their A.O.C French Brasserie thrown in for good measure. The Sofitel has a prime location in front of Jumeirah Beach Residences, right on the waterfront and with direct access to The Walk, which is filled with with restaurants and stores. The rooms face out over the sea and each has its own private balcony for relaxation: once you’ve enjoyed the views, you can pop down to the Infini Pool lounge and take a dip in the lovely pool. There are no fewer than five restaurants and lounges, including Italian restaurant Rococo and the superb A.O.C French Brasserie, which is swiftly making a name for its gourmet dinners. For your chance at winning the prize, just send the answer to the below question to us at email@example.com...
What is the name of the Sofitel Dubai Jumeirah Beach’s French Brasserie? a) A.O.C b) T.B.C c) E.T.A
York American Express 6 Stonegate Tel. 01904 676 505
CONCIERGE SUITE DREAMS
SUITE DREAMS FAIRMONT BAB AL BAHR, ABU DHABI, UAE
We’re not sure what our favourite thing is about the suites at the Fairmont Bab Al Bahr. We’re certainly fans of the beautiful decoration – all wood panelling, marble and rich, luxurious fabrics. And we adore the supercomfy, outsized beds. And then there are the views – out over the water, with the Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque visible on the skyline. And we love the private lounge area on offer through Fairmont Gold, where we can hang out over breakfast, lunch or nibbles. And we dig the service that they offer to families with young kids, with great cots, baby products and babysitting on offer. And we’re very keen on just being a short stroll from the Marco Pierre White Steakhouse & Grill, one of the best restuarants in the city. All in all, it’s an absolutely fantastic package… fairmont.com/babalbahr.
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