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Enjoy a magical mystery tour of The Beatles’ home city Produced in International Media Production Zone

Sri Lanka

Old school glamour abounds on Italy’s Amalfi Coast

A charmed Nigel Tisdall heads to the hills


Chris Leadbeater falls for Chile’s myriad sights

best In snOw Slope off to the world’s finest ski destinations


Kanoo World Traveller DECEmBER 2011

contents TRAvEl BiTES 07 check in

All the latest from the world of travel, from new hotels to must-have gadgets.

21 Where to stay

Choose between a lake, sea or city view in Sweden’s largest city; Stockholm.

22 Picture this


This issue we’ve got three eye-catching displays, sure to make you look twice.

29 essential selection

Jade Bremner rounds up this season’s ultimate ski destinations.

66 Visit: liVerPool

Famous for The Beatles, there are reasons aplenty to see this English city.

68 Visit: innsBruck

Jade Bremner experiences bobsledding and shed-loads of crystals in Austria.

71 comPetition

Win two nights at the luxurious RitzCarlton, Dubai on the famous Walk.

72 suite dreams

Stay at a stylish New Zealand lodge, good enough for royalty...



FEATuRES 36 cayman islands Dazzling beaches and larger-than-life sting rays, makes this Caribbean destination a dream.

43 chile

Grab your camera to snap bustling cities, incredible lakes, stunning mountains and the world’s driest desert.

50 amalFi coast

Where rugged landscapes, a pristine shoreline and bags of old Hollywood glamour meet.

58 sri lanka

Nigel Tisdall enjoys a nice cuppa amidst monkeys and tropical gardens.

On the cover: Woman skiing Chris M.Rogers, Getty Images.



managing Director: Victoria Hazell-Thatcher

Group Editor: Laura Binder

Production manager: Haneef Abdul

Publishing Director: John Thatcher

Group Advertisement manager: Cat Steele

Advertisement Director: Chris Capstick

Group Deputy Editor: Jade Bremner

+971 4 446 1558

+971 4 369 0917

Designers: Adam Sneade, Sarah Boland

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.

Jan-Jun 2011 22,953 BPA Consumer Audit Produced by: HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC

November 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 5

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BE INformEd, BE INspIrEd, BE THErE


Song Saa Private iSland Placing Cambodia on the luxury travel wish-list this month is Song Saa Private Island. Its debut is Christmas Eve, when you can get a glimpse at what are the first private islands in the Koh Rong Archipelago to be developed upon. Here, two sister islands, known as ‘Song Saa’ (Khmer for ‘the sweethearts’), bob in the crystal clear sea, while upon them stretches a luxury resort of 27 villas, which dot the beach, perch over the water and nestle in amid tropical terrain. “The two private islands are connected by a foot bridge, surrounded by its own reef system,” explains the resort’s joint-owner and designer, Melita Hunter. “Guests will approach by speed boat and pull up to a rustic-looking jetty at one end of a perfect, crescentshaped beach of pure white sand, lined with coconut trees,” she adds.

The villas’ thatched roofs were inspired by Cambodian fishing villages, and, inside, the design takes another leaf out of nature’s book: “The interior design is inspired by local textures and environments,” says Hunter, “we have been fortunate to scour the coastlines of neighbouring islands for driftwood, which we have used for some furniture and sculptures.” If you plan to go all-out in the New Year, its Royal Villa is the one to pick; a two-bed over-thewater villa with a chef at your disposal. And, when it comes to the cuisine, Song Saa’s executive chef Neil Wagner (who hails from the Seychelles’ six-star North Island) promises food as surreal as the setting. “A favourite of mine is slipper lobster, ambarella and peanut satay with taro orange creme caramel,” says Wagner.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 7


My Perfect triP… cork

Jasper Winn, author of the recently-released book Paddle: A long way around Ireland, shares more about his favourite place on the planet... I’m an advocate of slow adventure, and in West Cork, Ireland, it pays dividends. Don’t make too many plans, but slow down. Walk, pedal or paddle and just see what happens and who you meet. You’ll be surprised – and in a good way. Take both rain gear and your swimming costume; you might need both in the same day!

The new Leica M9-P is, without a doubt, one of the coolest cameras on the market. Based on the iconic 1954 design, but with the performance you’d expect from a modern snapper, the MP-9 is the world’s smallest, fullframe, digital system camera. And as if that wasn’t enough, it’s weighty, classy body boasts interchangeable lenses, which take pictures in SLR, 18 megapixel quality. It’s absolutely ideal for travellers who want to capture their adventures in style. $7,995,

Around West Cork and Roaring Water Bay there is a scatter of islands. Some have small island communities, and others are deserted, ready for a Robinson Crusoe-style adventure. The coast is a haven for wildlife, including whales, dolphins, seals and three-tonne basking sharks. The best thing to do in this area is explore the sea. Jim Kennedy from Atlantic Sea Kayaking ( can take experienced paddlers island hopping, and to sea caves and cliffs. Meanwhile, the less experienced can try night paddling. During these foraging trips, lit by phosphorescence, paddlers will find coastal plants, seaweed and self-harvested seafood, which they can eat! If I’m kayaking or walking then I’ll camp out but, for comfort, I choose Rolf’s Country House Hotel above the town of Baltimore. It’s built around a courtyard and retains the atmosphere of a historic guest house. Or, I’ll head to East Cork, still on the coast, to Ballymaloe House – a legendary country hotel famed for its food, great music sessions in the drawing room and its theatre, The Grain Store. The Island Cottage on Heir Island, in Roaring Water Bay, is not just a normal restaurant. Take a small ferry out to the island and the proprietor and chef, John Desmond, will provide a menu based on what is freshest from the sea, the coast, from local farms and from their organic vegetable suppliers that day. Cork’s coast is one of the world’s premier whale watching areas; here there are regular sightings of minke, fin whales and humpbacks. There are also rare encounters with blue whales and orcas at different times throughout the year, while dolphins and porpoises can be spotted all year round. Drop in to a public house for a live music session. These take place on specific nights each week around different parts of the Baltimore, Sherkin and Cape Clear islands. Sherkin’s Jolly Roger is a pretty sure bet for a session – I’ve played there myself a good few times. If you play music or sing, then practise your party piece. Play something on the guitar or harmonica, especially if it has a good rousing chorus – it will take you far in Ireland.


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

hot offers

CAPITAL IdeAs This month’s hot offers from Kanoo Travel and American Express Vacations

treasures of jordan 3 DAYS, 4 NIGHTS The Belle Vue Hotel serves as your luxurious base to arranged explorations of the historical capital of Ammam and the beautiful, desert-clad Petra.

india’s golden triangle 7 DAYS, 6 NIGHTS Start off in the metropolis of Delhi before making for Agra and Jaipur (rickshaws and elephant rides included) before ending your week-long trip back in Delhi, with stellar hotels along the way.

highlights of sri lanka 5 DAYS, 4 NIGHTS Your trip starts in Sigiriya, taking in its 5th century Fortress in the Sky, before discovering Kandy, the last royal capital of Sri Lanka, and then moving on to Dambulla, where awesome caves await...

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Let There Be Light

November to February is the best time to behold the mesmerising natural light show of the aurora borelias, when the sky is at its darkest. Take a pew at one of our top three light-gazing spots... From the heights of Spaceport Sweden On a vessel with only nine seats, this unique flight departs from the snowy wonderland of Kiruna, in northeast Sweden. From here, you can travel above the clouds, giving you the best view possible. It sets off on January 15 – or why not book the whole plane? Polish the experience off with a stay at nearby Ice Hotel, and sleep on a bed of Scandinavian fur. From a steaming crater in Iceland The Eyjafjalljökull volcano’s naturally heated hot tubs is a prime, bubbling spot from which to view the aurora. The Hotel Ranga is nearby, too, where you can rest up at night and wait for the display – you won’t even have to stay alert; the friendly hotel staff will wake you when they spot colours in the night sky. During a husky safari adventure in Finland Sleep in an electricity-free cabin deep in Lapland’s untamed forest, and peer at the lights through the trees. The only way to get here is via an overnight snowmobile trip or on an exhilarating husky safari, where the wolf-like dogs will rush you from northernmost Karesuand. Combine it with a cultural lesson about Sami, the indigenous peoples of the area, who have survived its harsh climate for centuries.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 9


Season’s greetings The finest festive markets in which to let your yuletide cheer reign free... Barcelona’s Fira de Santa Llucía fair has been going since 1786. Peruse 300 stalls of handmade Catalan gifts and decorations; follow (in part, at least) its 30mile stream of fairy lights and fill up on nougat (torron) and festive bread (Pa de Nadal). dublin’s playful spirit hits its peak at 12 Days of Christmas. Last year its wooden toys, carousel, carol singers and German-themed lounge (winter-warming treats galore) drew 145,000 visitors. Vienna bestows a fairytale setting of decorated market squares (often dusted in snow) where you can amble amid fur-clad locals, nibble themed foods (crescent-shaped cookies, roasted chestnuts and spice-sprinkled hot beverages), and shop for one-off artisan gifts. Brussels’ ever-expanding Plaisirs d’hiver (Winter Wonders) now stretches some 1.2 milles, where stalls come topped with a doll house-like wooden roof and Ste-Catherine’s bears a thrilling toboggan slope, illuminated big wheel and, best of all, 200-foot ice rink. Tivoli transforms in to a mammoth grotto at this time of year and this year’s Russian theme brings a mini city, built for the occasion, which you can navigate by a TransSiberian-style train, which chugs through a landscape dotted by choirs, Fabergé eggs and the pinnacle; Father Frost in icy blues.


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

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Hot Hotels 2011

Laura Binder revisits a year of the finest debuts around the globe…


The UAE has proved a fertile breeding ground of hotels to date, and this year its capital struck gold with a multitude of spectacular venues opening up The illuminated Jumeirah at Etihad Towers’ ( sculptural form shoots from the ground in a spectacular show of steel and glass. While, beaneath it, you can saunter around The Boulevard where luxury brands parade (Chloe, Lanvin and Rodeo Drive among them). Rocco Forte Abu Hotel Abu Dhabi ( cuts another engaging dash in the architectural stakes; a gleaming glass high rise whose curved exterior gives way to funky interiors – at their best in Blue; a lounge that appears to hover inside its glass atrium. If it’s a sense of calm you crave, St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort ( feels a world away from the bright lights; rooms lap up Saadiyat’s pristine beach views (you may even spy Bottlenose dolphins dart along its shoreline). But, for golf enthusiasts, the icing on the cake has to be its Saadiyat Beach Golf Club – designed by golfing legend

Gary Player. The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa ( houses another stellar golf course, while its aptlynamed Heavenly Spa is a great pit-stop for a muscle-soothing massage. The Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas (abudhabi.park., meanwhile, is like an oasis in the desert – make a beeline for its pool, where turquoise-tinged waters flanked by tented cabanas, makes a beautiful spot to while away an entire day. In neighbouring Dubai, the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC ( provides a suitably slick setting for its financial environs. As part of the city’s ‘culinary quarter’, it offers six quality spots in which to eat: sink your knife in to premium cuts at Center Cut, washed down with a fitting tipple from an arm-length drinks menu. Elsewhere, the Radisson Royal Hotel, Dubai ( left us wideeyed at its über-cool rooftop infinity pool.

Bordered by cube-shaped, glow-in-the-dark stools, it’s surely the hippest new hang-out in town. Immerse yourself in Missoni’s signature stripes at the design brand’s Hotel Missoni Kuwait (, where prints caress almost every surface – even its superglam pool is tiled in the multi-hued pattern. In Manama, Kempinski Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre ( soars over the city and its connection to Bahrain City Centre Mall is a real plus – inside you’ll stand before 350 shops (so take your credit card). At the classic Renaissance Doha City Center Hotel (, we’ve fallen for its In-The-Know recommendations, which bring you the inside scoop on hidden Doha sights only locals would know about. Above, left to right: Jumeirah at Etihad Towers; Kempinksi Grand & Ixir Hotel Bahrain City Centre.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 11

Sheikh Zayed Road PO Box 9940, Dubai, UAE Tel: 971 4 3080000, Fax: +971 4 3080011

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From London to Amsterdam, hoteliers spawned city haunts bound to draw you to the bright lights like a moth to a flame… The English capital scored an hotelier hat trick this year, with a trio of gems enticing enough to have us reaching for our passports. 45 Park Lane (45parklane. com) may be modest in size, but its five-star qualities prove that good things do indeed come in small packages; among them, CUT by Wolfgang Puck – the world famous chef’s first departure from the US – which serves up steaks to die for. Corinthia Hotel London (, meanwhile, is a slave to Victorian grandeur – posing on White Hall Place, it houses the biggest suite in town and an Harrods concept store to boot. But, if it’s lashings of London’s cutting edge style you want, W London ( is dripping in it – even its welcome desks shimmer beneath clusters of glitter balls. The height of its outlandish design appears in its fittinglynamed Extreme Wow suite, where a circular sofa sits beneath a mirror ball sculpture; the

bathroom has a Jacuzzi (and four-person shower); and its penthouse provides you with a bird’s eye view of the frenetic West End. Set foot off of the rue Saint-Honore (Paris’s most fashionable street) and you’ll be met with the super-chic Mandarin Oriental Paris. Its Art Deco façade gives way to splendiferous interiors by Sybille de Margeries (think slick marbles, mosaic floors and touch-me fabrics) and even its eateries commit to haute couture standards: take a pew in the all-white setting of Sur Mesure par Theirry Marx and you’ll feel as though you’re poised for the pages of Vogue. Italy’s romantic side sent pulses racing with the long-awaited reopening of the Grand Hotel Metropole ( after a 40 year hiatus. What was Taormina’s favoured palatial hotspot is now in the hands of two Palermo brothers, who shunned the antique

look of its neighbouring venues for a sleeker style that oozes 1940s glamour. Bathe in its infinity pool, which peers over rolling hills; sprawl out on one of its spa’s heated, lava stone treatment beds; and seek sustenance in Bellevue, a restaurant with Andreas Zangerl (he of Sicily’s Michelin-starred Casa Grugno) at its helm. History repeats itself in Amsterdam too, where the Hotel Sofitel Legend The Grand Amsterdam ( stakes its claim on a former 15th century convent. Its arched ceilings, loft-like spaces, and grand courtyard now dedicate themselves to modern day pleasures, plus a first for The Netherlands; a raw bar – the only place in the canal-dotted city to slurp, bite and relish oysters, lobster and carpaccios, made fresh before your eyes. Above, clockwise from left: Corinthia Hotel London’s suite; 45 Park Lane’s lounge; W London’s lobby.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 13


USA big wigs reigned supreme this year, from the windy city to the Big Apple, and in Latin territory too... After pioneering boutique hotels in the 1980s, PUBLIC Chicago ( is Ian Schrager’s debut property from his all-new brand, PUBLIC. “We are not trying to be hip, we are in fact anti-hip, and therefore by definition, we are,” Schrager said. In real terms it’s far less confusing, rather a show of cosy but cool interiors at affordable rates. To top the travel style stakes, make straight for New York’s Mondrian SoHo, where interiors pay tribute to the 1946 film La Belle et la Bete, in the form of fluffyheaded lightshades, crystal scones and rose vine-printed carpets. Best of all is its Manhattan views from every 270 rooms; so you can get a bite of the Big Apple wherever you are. To escape city life, Trump Ocean Panama Club ( will do the trick. His $400million development took


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

shape this year, in the form of a 70-storey, sail-like hotel to rival the Burj Al Arab. If the cotton-soft sands of Latin America beckon, the Westin Playa Conchal ( can oblige with its new string of thatched-roofed bungalows, which decorate a honey-hued beach. Off your sunlounger, time is best spent in one of its five eateries – we love Astrea Lounge, a stilt-raised eatery that hovers above the sea. A snowier side beckons in Colorado’s upmarket ski resort Vail with the Four Seasons Resort Vail (fourseasons/com/vail). While its location means something of a trek to the slopes, there’s no better place to retire to post-ski, thanks to mountain-view rooms with luxe touches (we love the book rack on the bath tub and TV screen in the mirror).


Sun, sea, surf and even ski awaits, Down Under and in Kiwi country…

local icon in the city – and there’s no better time to drink in its surrounds than now; this month’s re-opening brings three new rooftop suites, complete with wraparound windows and huge, private balconies – so don’t forget your camera. If you’re more of an early bird than a night owl, you’ll love Hilton Surfers Paradise Hotel ( On the cusp of the Gold Coast, it soars above 26 miles of pure white sands and its star quality is its location; mere minutes from world-class surf. Over in New Zealand, the Hilton Queenstown, New Zealand ( is without doubt the place to head to retreat from city life. The clear, brisk waters of Lake Wakatipu precede a jagged mountain range and you can delve headfirst in to each – blitz its snow-dipped peaks on skis or fish in its freshwater lakes, before retiring to the peace and quiet of its cosy suites, by a roaring log fire. Sublime. Above, clockwise from left: PUBLIC Chicago;

The Park Hyatt Sydney is something of a

Mondrian SoHo suite; restaurant at the same hotel.

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This part of the globe reached for the sky this year, with grand design gestures and luxurious takes on Asian traditions… Plunge pools in rooms, a wave pool on the terrace, and an underwater-themed eatery transports the Banyan Tree Macau heads above the region’s existing hotels. Its location serves yet more options, too – poised at the hub of a $2billion Galaxy Macau complex, its shared facilities bring a mindboggling 50 lounges and eateries. But, it’s that underwater restaurant (Belon) you won’t want to miss – saunter down its Cinderella-style glass staircase into a lounge adorned with oversized shells and jellyfish. The Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong is a seriously glitzy port of call for city slickers, with a prevalence of panoramic windows from which to stop-and-stare at the famous Victoria Harbour. At night, the best spot to do exactly that is OZONE, an elaborately decorated lounge on the hotel’s top floor – some 118 levels up – making it the highest lounge on the planet.

For stays of palatial proportions, Fairmont Jaipur ( in India’s ‘Pink City’ is sure to tick every box. Created as a doppelganger of the area’s grand Mughal palaces, prepare for your jaw to drop on arrival at its formidable coral-hued façade which comes laced with floral murals and, beneath it, intricate Indian archways supported by huge stone pillars. Thai style resonates through the Conrad Koh Samui Resort and Spa (conradhotels1. where one- and two-bed villas sprout from a pea-green hillside and, inside, the contemporary (glass panes, marble bathrooms, glass-walled rain shower) marries the authentic (Thai hardwood floors, silks, homegrown art). Robinson Crusoe-style surrounds can be yours at Pulau Joyo, (; an all-new private island in Indonesia’s Riau Islands, that’s relinquished its former role

as a shipping family’s private residence to become an exclusive hideaway with just eight villas. Besides its four Driftwood Palaces (the crème de la crème of its digs) deluxe activities include chartering the island’s yacht (140-feet-long and fullystaffed) and setting sail... Between Cambodia’s Mekong and Bassac rivers, a pillar-strewn building rises from manicured gardens – the Sofitel Phnom Penh Phokeethra ( The pristine, prawn-pink building is packed to the rafters with colonial style, from wooden-panelled boudoirs to high-ceilinged restaurants where menus take a leaf from both East and West: sit in a private tatami room and be transported to traditional Japan with each sushi-filled mouthful; or stop by Chocolat to indulge in handmade, bite-sized truffles. Above: A Ritz-Carlton Hong Kong suite .

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 15


From picture-perfect desert island hideaways to the sultry surrounds of Marrakech, this part of the globe has fulfilled our travel fantasies… Sweep in by private seaplane and, with one cushioned foot on the white sands of Jumeirah Dhevanafushi (jumeirah. com), you’ll find yourself on an entirely private slice of paradise – the nearest island bobs 10km away. If you’re really set on not seeing another soul, though, (save a butler or private chef, perhaps) its Island Sanctuary Villa is the place, with its private entrance, pool, terrace and stretch of beach, all to call your own. At Ayada Maldives (, villas perched on stilts appear to float over the transparent sea, shaded only by handmade thatched roofs. But its kids’ club and babysitting service is the cherry on top – making family trips a stress-free experience. To marvel at the Maldivian waters from an alternative angle, Anantara Kihavah Villas’ (kihavah-maldives. Underwater Dining brings you the fruits of the sea on a platter (we love its


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

juicy red snapper, infused with lemongrass, ginger and black pepper), as well as the sight of angelfish which flutter by its wraparound glass walls. Across the waters, in the east coast of Mauritius, Belle Mare Peninsula ( spans 59 acres, but it has more to offer than luxurious seafacing villas (as if they weren’t enough). Here, sporting activities are plentiful: slip in to its lagoon and dive amid rare coral and tropical fish; practice your golf swing on its championship course; or graze the ocean’s surface on a water-skiing stint. Or, of course, you could swap more sweat-inducing pursuits for a bout in its swish, Givenchy spa – one of just a few worldwide. Elegance arrived this summer in the form of the Four Seasons Marrakech (, a rose-tinged resort with spice-hued suites and 40 acres

of Moorish Menara Gardens. It’s home to an exotic spa and hammam and atmospheric eateries – Zest at Bleu d’Orange offers a rooftop setting where you can savour fine fare beneath the stars. North Africa’s new offspring arrived just last month – Hotel Sofitel Legend Old Cataract Aswan ( Perched on a shelf of pink granite, its Victorian façade peers across the world-famous Nile. Once inside you’ll find polished marble underfoot and classic Islamic arches overhead, but perhaps its most gasp-inducing sight is its fine dining restaurant, 1902. Feast beneath its 75-feet-high dome, by jewelled lights and surrounded by Phaorah-esque stripes. (Even the most seasoned gourmands will swoon.)

Above, clockwise from left: Four Seasons Marrakech; Ayada Maldives’ villa; Belle Mare Peninsula room.

What in the World?


25 17





1-16 AFRICOLOR MUSIC FESTIVAL Paris erupts to the beat of African drums this month, with a vibrant music festival. Now in its twelfth year, dancing in the street and animated concerts take hold citywide, bridging the gap between Ethiopian, Malian, Nigerian and European communities in the process.

3 GIANT LANTERN FESTIVAL Every December in San Fernando, Philippines, a spectacular lantern show takes hold where creations, up to 40 feet wide and covered in endless bright, blinking bulbs, take centre stage – and the best in show wins.

17 ALBANY WINTER FESTIVAL Expect fire jugglers, musicians, decorated barns and pony rides galore in Upstate New York. This family-friendly festival sees visitors get stuck into some real winter-themed activities, such as dog-sledding and the more gentile action of reindeer-patting.


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

18 FIS SKI-JUMPING WORLD CUP 20,000 spectators hold their breath at the sight of skiers zooming off Engelberg’s Titlis’ ski jump and soaring through the air. It draws the world’s best (and bravest) jumpers, who win points for their finesse, style and landing. 25 PETER PAN SWIM SERPANTINE LAKE One hundred barmy individuals dive in to Hyde Park’s freezing cold lake at a chilly 9am – a sight that draws over 700 spectators who watch them then race a distance of 100 yards. Fancy dress, in and out of the water, is positively encouraged, so (soggy) sights are plentiful.

26 THE SYDNEY TO HOBART YACHT RACE From 30 footers to humongous yachts, boats set off from Victoria Harbour on a 1,170km race – a trying, summer pursuit that makes for the city’s most thrilling spectacle.

check in | where to stay

Where To sTay...


The handsome Swedish capital (known for its equally handsome people) is chock full of hotel choices; sleep out by the edge of a lake or in the heart of the buzzing metropolis…


Water view



City view






Scandic Anglais

Berns Hotel Looking for an adventure rather than a relaxing break? Stay at this simple hotel in the bustling city centre, and you can step out into ‘Humlegårdsgatan’, an area filled with boutiques to nosey around, coffee shops, myriad restaurants and the acclaimed Royal Opera House. This has to be is one of the coolest hangouts in town. The building itself was built in 1863 and now includes a wonderful hotel, splashed with a fusion of vintage, modern and elegant design. Plus, you’ll find a concert arena/theatre, multi-media gallery and delicious Asian restaurant all under one roof.







Hotel Esplanade

Grand Hotel

Lydmar Hotel

Hotel J Built in the early 1900s, this hotel’s interior has a cosy, chic and classic feel. Book one of its balcony rooms for a beautiful sea view. Ideal for sophisticated travellers, each room comes with a royal flavour and incredible waterfront views that stretch out across to the old town. Set in an excellent location, next to the harbour and the old town, this übercool boutique hotel fuses a historic building with modern design twists. This New England-style hotel offers a vast garden and a jetty, so you can hire a sailing boat and head out on a cruise along the area’s stunning waterways.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 21

Picture this

chinstraP Penguins Antarctica

Believe it or not, the little black and white dots in this vivid blue scene are not specs of sea debris, but an unique kind of penguin found in the South Sandwich Islands. The fascinating Chinastrap birds earned their name from the distinctive, narrow black band beneath their heads. Here, a classic cluster of the cute creatures gather to seek shelter on a gigantic iceberg, whose bulbous, pipette shapes form from the harsh wind and water. As for the penguins, they could do with the rest; this breed swims up to 80km a day to catch fish, krill and shrimp. They’ll later traverse this slippery surface with their webbed feet, rest, and do it all again tomorrow... Image: Corbis

22 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 23

24 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

Picture this

grand Prismatic sPring

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA This 90-metre wide, rainbow-coloured wonder is the largest hot spring in America – and the third largest on the planet. Its magnificent hues come to life when single-cell organisms known as ‘archaeans’ grow in the mineral-rich waters. As the water cools, the cells turn a brilliant blue, and, as the heat continues to dip, they morph in to green, then yellow, and, finally, orange. While this should be plenty to sate your appetite, its home – the Yellowstone National Park – offers further fascinatingly wild sights, in the form of moose, elk, grey wolves and bears who roam the wilderness... Image: Corbis December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 25

26 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

Picture this

Blue lake cave Bonito, Brazil

In Brazil’s rich sub-tropical landscape, below the Mato Grosso do Sul (otherwise known as the ‘thick forest in the south’), lays a vast network of caverns. This, the stunning Gruta do Lago Azul, (or ‘Blue Lake Cave’), was first discovered in 1924 by a local Indian man. Now, almost a century on, tour groups follow in his footsteps to traverse its 300 steps, each carved into the rock, and to gaze at the gallery of glistening stalactites that tinker above a turquoise pool. The really brave can even book a dive and delve in to its 80-metre-deep abyss; one of the largest flooded cavities on the planet. Image: Corbis December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 27

essential selection | snow business

essential selection

Snow Business Jade Bremner reveals where to go to experience cosy lodgings, stunning scenery and thrilling slopes…

Mzaar, Lebanon Positioned by the village of Faraya, at the heart of the Eastern Lebanon mountains, beautiful sites are plentiful, with crisp, snowy peaks that will place skiers in their element. Here, slopes and 80 kilometres of track cover an elevation of 2,000 metres. Three of the four peaks are perfect for beginners, while the tallest, Nabil peak at 2,240 metres, offers runs for the experienced skier or snowboarder. Venture down the mountain, meanwhile, and you can enjoy the colourful Bekka valley post-ski – it’s full of intense red clay and offset by white limestone and green vineyards. Stay at: Intercontinental Mzaar Lebanon Mountain Resort. Door-to-slope access, five restaurants, and rooms with incredible views make this family-friendly resort a hit. But its El Hor Tent restaurant is its highlight; typical. Food (Lebanese mountain cuisine, such as hearty lamb) is prepared by local, traditionallydressed staff, and tables are set by an open fire, so you can warm your bones after a day on the slopes.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 29

Gstaad, Switzerland Widely considered as one of the most attractive areas in the Swiss Alps, Gstaad has much to recommend; a picturesque town, mesmerising views of spectacular pistes and culture-a-plenty. While the skiing here doesn’t compare to its neighbours’ first-class slopes (Zermatt and St. Moritz), the chic boutiques in the centre of town and scrumptious local fondue certainly make up for it. We recommend a visit to what are great local museums and art galleries – the Museum der Landschaft Saanen is particularly good if you’re keen to learn of the region’s history. Other not-to-be-missed activities in the area include a horse-drawn sleigh ride on the nearby lake, and tobogganing down a seven kilometre run. Thrilling. Stay at: Gstaad Palace. If only a room with a private Jacuzzi will do, the James Bond-style penthouse suite at Gstaad Palace, complete with three sizeable bedrooms for your family, should do the trick.


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

Alberta, Canada

La Courchevel, France

Banff, Canada’s first national park and a UNESCO world heritage site, is located in the heart of the incredible Rocky Mountains and serves as a truly stunning ski site. Here, backdrops come in the form of glaciers, twinkling lakes, and puffy, snow-lathered mountains, all wrapped in a cloak of green pine. The slopes (all 4,000 plus acres of them) make for exceptional skiing, but if you can tear yourself away long enough, you can enjoy their charms from a totally new perspective – peering down from a helicopter; one of myriad off-piste activities on offer. Stay at: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Rest up in this elegant property, which comes cradled by mountains at the foot of a piercing-blue lake. Enjoy a hydrating mud bath or organic aromatherapy session at the hotel’s relaxing spa, or, if you’d rather get back outdoors, sign up for a mountain heritage tour, during which the hotel’s guides share their expert geographical and historical knowledge of Canada’s oldest national park.

France’s Three Valleys comprise the largest skiing area in the world, which is no doubt why skiers have flocked to its remarkable number of slopes (318) and expert black runs (30) for decades. Of all the resorts here, La Courchevel is undeniably the most glamorous – and the most expensive – drawing the likes of Prince William and Kate Middleton, the Beckhams and George Clooney for their dose of winter sun. Which would explain why, when it comes to lodgings, La Courchevel boasts two six-star hotels (a special ranking in France held by only eight hotels in the country) and a surfeit of exceptionally good restaurants. Off the slopes, you can partake in an adrenalin-fuelled tandem skydive over the Alps, go ice skating, or behold the peaks from a hot air balloon. Stay at: Le Melezin. This cosy châteaux-style resort, made from red-cedar planks, looks out on to infinite snow-covered contours. Unwind post-ski at its delightful hammam and slink in to its steam room or pool.


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

essential selection | snow business

Adelboden, Switzerland

Colorado, USA

The magnificent peaks of the Swiss Alps offer world-class pistes, ample apres-ski entertainments, and stunning vistas – meaning guests return time and again for double helpings of this picture-perfect destination. While it’s suitable for all levels of skiers, boarders will love it too; there are two half-pipes and a park full of kickers and rails to perfect tricks. However, the most ‘Xtreme’ activity in the area has to be heli-skiing: a helicopter will whisk you off-piste, where you can ride untouched, powdery inclines. Non-skiers will have plenty to fill their days with, too, particularly if they like to indulge: shops are plentiful while the town’s chocolatiers serve up some of finest sweet stuff you’ll ever taste. Stay at: The Cambrian Hotel. This pristine and tranquil resort is a stellar spot in which to relax. The Cambrian’s pièce de résistance is, without a doubt, its spa; it features a gigantic heated outdoor pool overlooking the magnificent Alps and the rolling valley beneath.

A playground for the rich and famous, the picturesque mining town of Aspen is a haven for movie stars – rub shoulders with them in the local restaurants, during Colorado’s nightly apres-ski, or on the outstanding pistes. And it’s a hotspot, too, for the adventurous – ESPN host their annual X-games at the nearby Buttermilk Ski Resort, and there’s an abundance of thrilling activities in the area – kayaking, rafting, rock climbing among them. Meanwhile, only a few miles away at Snowmass village, golfers can brush up on their swing at two respected clubs, where wooded hillsides, natural barrancaws, open meadows and flowing streams set the scene. Beautiful. Stay at: Aspen Mountain Lodge. Wake up in one of this hotel’s east-facing rooms (they have the best rooms in the house), open the window, and let the morning sun stream in. If you’re having a day off the slopes, stroll into the city centre where the smell of open fires wafts through the air.

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essential selection | snow business

Wyoming, USA Boasting an average snowfall of 400 inches per year, Jackson Hole sets the whitest of scenes for its luxury-chic abodes, which come with a cowboy twist. (Don’s be surprised if you spot the odd ranger or wild moose as you zip down what the area’s ice-free, powder-coated descents, which start at 4,000 feet.) Snowboarders will be thrilled to know that boards are positively encouraged here; there’s a specialist superpipe, plus two terrain parks (one for beginners, one for experts), while for other adventure-seekers, hair-raising pursuits include tobogganing, dogsledding and hiking. Stay at: Amangani. This Zen-style resort constantly reminds its visitors of the beauty around them, thanks to natural, redwood walls, chunky, locally-sourced wooden tables and floor-to-ceiling windows that bestow views of rolling, snowcapped mountains.

Megeve, France This quaint village, dubbed the ‘birthplace of French skiing’, looks every inch like a scene from a fairytale: at night, lights twinkle and frost-covered paths lead the way into cosy inns and restaurants with roaring, open fires. Megeve has a wonderfully traditional atmosphere, too, in spite of the swarms of tourists who flock here during peak skiseason. What’s more, it makes a fantastic place for families wanting to create magical yuletide memories in the festive season. Stay at: Le Lodge Park Clad head-to-toe in forest memorabilia, the newly-styled Le Lodge Park reopens this month. Inside, its owners have successfully fused the cool, chic ambience of a trendy French boutique hotel with an atmospheric hunting theme. Expect animal skin rugs and wallmounted stuffed heads in the common areas, roaring stone fireplaces and a mélange of textures, including fur-clad headboards and savannah-style mahogany basins in the bedrooms.

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Caribbean Queens Superb beaches, dazzling marine life and a great choice of hotels and restaurants - there’s more to Cayman than banking, says Maggie O’Sullivan

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the cayman islands| caribbean


n the beginning there were three uninhabited islands in the western Caribbean. So small and flat were they that when Christopher Columbus came across them in 1503 he didn’t trouble to go ashore. In 1670 Britain took control of the islands – by then known as Grand Cayman, Little Cayman and Cayman Brac – and settlers began to arrive, apparently undeterred by the caimans, mosquitos and scarcity of drinking water. So much for the history lesson. I’ve missed out the one thing most people know about the Cayman Islands: somewhere along the way they became a tax haven. Legend has it that King George III granted the islands tax-exemption status after locals rescued his son from a shipwreck – though it’s more likely that they just didn’t produce anything worth taxing. The islands still import 90 per cent of their food and consumer goods, and their income comes mostly from tourism and financial services. All the same, the development of the biggest island, Grand Cayman, has been relatively recent. When I last visited in the Eighties, you stayed at the Holiday Inn or a dive lodge. Now there are dozens of resorts lining the gracefully arcing Seven Mile Beach (actually five and a half miles) on the island’s west coast. There are office blocks for the offshore companies, taxfree shops for the cruise passengers, condos for the well-off and beachfront mansions for the super wealthy. There are vast supermarkets selling just about everything you can think of. “It’s just like Miami there now,” shuddered a former inhabitant who now farms on Cayman Brac. After a long flight, we picked up our hire car and drove the few miles to Seven Mile Beach. “Hmm. We’ll be OK if we need a takeaway,” observed my companion, as we passed all the usual fast-food outlets. “They weren’t here 20 years ago,” I said slightly dismayed. Nor was the traffic or the roundabouts that so perplex American visitors. In truth, Seven Mile Beach is a tiny bit like Miami these days. From West Bay Road, which runs the length of the beach, you used to be able to see the sea. Now you can only glimpse it between the buildings, many of which bring Florida’s Spanish Revival architecture to mind. But the similarity fades once you get beachside, the high-rise buildings behind you and the warm, turquoise sea in front of you. December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 37

Opening page: A classic Cayman’s beach. This page, clockwise from top: West Bay Road, Seven Mile Beach; Tourists on Cayman Grand.

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There’s no litter, nobody waving restaurant fliers or trying to sell you beach jewellery, and if you were to leave your camera on your sunlounger, it would still be there when you got back. Probably. Our plan was to spend a few days on Seven Mile Beach, then head for the far less-developed north shore before flying over to Little Cayman, with a day-trip to Cayman Brac, so that we could sample the four distinct Cayman experiences. All of them, essentially, are for the keen or budding diver or snorkeller. With more than 300 marked dive sites, and an abundance of marine life in crystal-clear waters, the Cayman Islands are considered to offer the best diving and reef snorkelling in the Caribbean. There are some beautiful beaches, too, though if all you want to do is lie under a palm tree with a book, there are nearer, less expensive Caribbean islands. The first two stops on our itinerary conformed more or less to expectation – one was lively and very American, the other laid-back and, well, still fairly American. Swimming with stingrays, snorkelling, diving and kayaking through the mangroves can be done from either starting point; and between the two we found the island’s lovely Botanic Park, the sanctuary that has saved the island’s unique blue iguanas from extinction, and Pedro Castle (a house rather than a castle) – though it was no thanks to the island’s woeful road signage. “Why don’t you have a sign on the main road?” I grumbled to the assistant in the Pedro Castle gift shop.”There’s one right behind the gas station, Ma’am,” he said brightly.

Images: Corbis / / photolibrary Credit: Maggie O’Sullivan / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People

Left: A diver swims with stingrays. Right: Schools of tarpons in the Cayman’s Caribbean Sea.

‘The Cayman Islands are considered to offer the best diving and reef snorkelling in the Caribbean’

We went far west to one of the world’s finest car museums, and east to a restaurant, from which it was claimed you could see the remains of that tax-exempting shipwreck (we couldn’t). In four days, on an island just 22 miles long, we used a whole tank of petrol. Then we went to Little Cayman, where we swapped our car for rented bicycles. Little Cayman is very small: just 10 square acres of forest, shrub land, mangrove and beach. If I tell you that the airport’s departures/ arrivals lounge is a wooden bench outside the ticket office; that the school has four pupils; and that there is one church, one supermarket, and one road running all the way around the island, not all of it surfaced (yet), you will get the picture. But it would only be half the picture because Little Cayman is inhabited by a community of around 100, spurred on by the redoubtable Gladys Howard, who runs a splendid dive resort called Pirates Point. In discreet villas scattered across the island live all sorts of interesting characters, from the glamorous former owner of a Monte Carlo nightclub to the family of the man who invented the ring pull and an American pizza magnate. But there’s nothing fancy about Little Cayman. Here, a rich and diverse marine life means more than dollars and islanders are quick to tell you that one of its dive sites, Bloody Bay Wall, is one of the 40 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

top five in the world. A local man was once arrested for cultivating a marijuana farm (the cells don’t have plumbing so they put the farm in the jail rather than the miscreant), but nobody ever thinks to lock their doors. We ventured briefly to Cayman Brac, known as The Brac. With a population of around 2,000, it has the feel of a busy market town next to Little Cayman’s sleepy hamlet. But like its neighbour, it appeals principally to divers with 11 sites accessible from shore. Two charming young men from the tourist board showed us the sights but it was a stiflingly hot day, there were mosquitoes in the tour bus and we were itching to get back to Little Cayman. For our final night we checked in to the Ritz-Carlton back on Grand Cayman. It’s the only five-star resort on the island (for now) and this being Grand Cayman, it costs an arm and a leg. Over a mango margarita ($30 for two plus service), we thought about how we would sum up the Cayman Islands. They don’t feel Caribbean, in the way that Jamaica does; nor are they Anglo-American like the Bahamas. Anyway, each island has a different feel from the others, Little Cayman being our favourite. In the end we settled for somewhere between the two. Then we pushed the boat out and ordered two more margaritas.

the cayman islands| caribbean

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 41

Mauritius is Magnifique

Sofitel So Mauritius Bel Ombre An intimate getaway on a turquoise lagoon, Sofitel Mauritius Bel Ombre offers supreme luxury while celebrating the natural environment. Strikingly modern and timelessly elegant, it is a haven of peace designed by Lek Bunnag and decorated by Kenzo TAKADA. Luminous suites feature private tropical gardens and provide absolute tranquility and comfort. Bel Ombre - Île Maurice Tél. : + 230 605 58 00 – e-mail :

welcome to chile | chile

Welcome to Chile Chilean folklore has it that the country – lakes, mountains, deserts and glaciers – was created from God’s leftovers. It still inspires awe today


he border – or, at least, the gullies, chasms, ledges and highwire ridges that define it – is roughly discernible, even at 36,000ft. I know this, because the pilot states the obvious. “We are about to fly over the Andes,” comes the voice on the public address system, a note of warning to its low drawl. “Please fasten your seat-belts.” And there it is beneath the wing – the mountain range that supplies a near-literal spine to South America’s rainforested back. And with it, almost instantly, comes the rage. The turbulence that buffets the aircraft as it enters the Andean realm is like nothing I have felt in any Atlantic tantrum or tropical

hab-dab – the suddenly fragile plane shivering and bouncing as it struggles with the thermals. But even viewed through a window that might be the door to a washing machine (and I the clothes swirling within), the picture is clear – the peaks below a child’s school-drawing impression of how mountains should be, snowy and pointed, an elongated Christmas cake given too much icing. And at this altitude and southerly latitude – where the Andes are narrower – I can see both sides, the Argentinian plateau a stubborn green behind, the dark patches where Chile slopes to the ocean ahead. Few nations are shaped by their physical limits quite like Chile. The day after I arrive, Andrés Garrido – while guiding me around the

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 43

welcome to chile | chile

‘My journey calls me from the verdant green of central Chile to the red and brown of its north’ capital Santiago – reads to me a little local wisdom. Scrawled in a dog-eared book, it is one of those slices of well-thumbed folklore of forgotten origin. But as a summary of the country, it works. “When God created the world,” it runs, “he had a handful of everything left – mountains, deserts, lakes, glaciers – and he put it all in his pocket. But there was a hole in his pocket, you see, and as he walked across heaven it all trickled out, and the trail it made on the earth was Chile.” Chile is just such a place: 2,800 miles in length, yet on average just 109 miles wide (and only 265 miles across at its thickest point) – a tapering ribbon of a country pinned into place by the Andes on one side and the rolling bulk of the Pacific on the other. And with this, it is home to stark geographical diversity, its upper corners a desert wasteland, its midriff grassy and fertile, its southern tip (where Cape Horn jabs at Antarctica) a frost-glazed outpost. Certainly, it is easy to make a case for Chile as the final frontier – the flicky tail of South America, veiled behind a rocky curtain. Perhaps this explains why it only appears on our radars in moments of disaster: the 8.8-magnitude earthquake that violently assaulted the country near the city of Concepció in February 2010; then, in August, the mine collapse and rescue mission near northerly Copiapó that danced across TV screens last year. True, in travel terms, it is not an entirely unknown quantity – the glaciers, fjords and raw majesty of Patagonia have lit up many a holiday brochure. But on a continent where Rio is awash with travellers, Buenos Aires revels in its tango-and-T-bone image and Machu Picchu receives up to 2,500 visitors per day, Chile is still the quiet child at the foot of the stairs. December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 45

46 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

welcome to chile | chile Opening page: Monolithic stone Moai statues, Easter Island. Previous page, clockwise from top left: Chilean farmer; Towers of Santiago; Teleferico over Santiago. This page: Santiago and Andes mountain ranges.

So when I land in Santiago – almost at the centre of the country – I am keen to peer into this less-observed looking glass. And not at the chill beauty of the jagged south – but at the true, populated Chile that vibrates in the capital, or scratches a living in its arid north. Garrido greets me with a bike and a grin. The founder of guiding company Paseos En Bicicleta, he knows Santiago well, and leads me to Santa Lucía hill, the spot where the city first drew breath. A steep bluff of 227 feet that feels all the steeper by pedal, it was here in February 1541 that the Spanish conquistador Pedro de Valdivia – noting that the hill could be defended against the indigenous Picunche people – planted his banner. Half a millennium on, a metropolis spreads about it, ebbing towards the Andean wall that you cannot escape – a constant presence in your eye-line. Valdivia has not escaped either. A vicious man who would end up executed by the Mapuche tribe in what is now southern Chile, he glares across the Plaza de Armas – captured in bronze on horseback, just one of the echoes of colonial Spain that sound in Santiago. Nearby, the Plaza de la Constitució recalls the pomp of an empire that overran a continent – while the Palacio de la Moneda, a 1786 pile that was once the Mint, still projects power as seat of the Chilean president. But elsewhere there is a sense of a city that has developed as part of a game of Chinese Whispers, the fruit of whatever distant influences seeped through the gaps in the Andes. The Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino remembers the world before the Spanish – in carved Mapuche grave markers and 7,000-year-old Chinchorro mummies, buried in the Atacama Desert 2,000 years before Egypt perfected the technique. In contrast, the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes – a showcase for Chilean art – wants to be in Paris, its BeauxArts shell concocted in 1910 when Santiago’s planners were in thrall to all things French. And when Garrido leads me into the Lastarria district, another Santiago emerges – that faded yet decadent South America of the early 20th century, with restaurants and bars injected into what were once grand homes. The house that holds Café Berri is shabby and frayed, but it must have been magnificent, all creaking wooden floors and ornate ceiling-high mirrors. True, there are also recognisable slashes of modernity: the swish restaurants in affluent Vitacura, east of the centre, where Puerto Fuy serves up a sprightly merluza (hake) with ratatouille for 12,000 Chilean pesos ($25); the Bellavista district, with chic retreat The Aubrey – a boutique hotel (and my base for three nights) where 15 rooms have been lovingly slotted into what, in 2006, was a semi-ruined Spanish mansion. But there are also dabs of the truly unusual. At the end of our tour, Garrido and I halt at Café Haiti, a coffee shop that specialises in the Chilean phenomenon of café con piernas. The piernas (legs) December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 47

‘If Valparaíso were a movie cliché, it would be a vampire – dead, and yet alive’

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belong to waitresses who are all stockings. Garrido shrugs: “It’s how Chilean men like to drink coffee.” Where there is lasciviousness, there is also literature. On a hill above Bellavista, La Chascona was the home of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda and his third wife Matilde Urrutia. A mish-mash with a nautical theme, it gives a vivid account of a man whose work won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. The trinket gleams in a cabinet in his library. Yet most of his books are gone, burned when Augusto Pinochet’s coup d’état tore through Santiago in September 1973. Perhaps this is the reason for the capital’s indefinable vibe. Military rule is a stain on living memory (Pinochet only stepped down in 1990). At times, Santiago has the unsure attitude of a teenager expecting his Saturday-night privileges to be revoked. If Pinochet’s ghost still hangs in the background, so does Neruda’s. After four days in Santiago, I journey 80 miles west to Chile’s most romantic dot on the map – Valparaíso. The poet also had a home here – La Sebastiana, another quirky hillside pad. Staring out of its living-room window – alongside which Neruda’s favourite armchair is still planted, flecks of his trademark green ink splashed onto the adjacent footrest – I can see why. Clinging precariously to a gradient entirely unsuited to urban construction, Valparaíso is a nest of colour and chaos: 42 hills in total; brightly painted houses wobbling on the lip of the abyss; thin streets inching upwards, cars grumbling and coughing in perennial second gear; the Pacific lying below, oddly unruffled, apparently indifferent to the whole scene. If Valparaíso were a movie cliché, it would be a vampire – dead, and yet alive. Its demise came in 1914 when the opening of the Panama Canal deprived it of both Europe-bound ships and its raison d’être. Yet it has settled into a pretty afterlife. A pair of antique cable elevators,

This page, from top: Licancabur Volcano, Lake Miniques; Lama guanicoe. Opposite page, from top: Atacama salt flat; Santiago region, Cordillera Province.

welcome to chile | chile

Images: Corbis / / Shutterstock Text: Chris Leadbeater / The Independent / The Interview People

‘I discover that the Atacama Desert could belong to another universe...’

relics of 1883 and 1903 respectively, clank up their rusty paths; craft shops and galleries are clustered on Calle Lautaro Rosas; Paseo Atkinson throws out a widescreen view of the port; and restaurant La Concepción does deep-sea grouper risotto in blueberry sauce for 13,000 pesos ($30) – on a veranda where the ocean breeze tugs at your napkin. Beyond, a more contemporary Chile gnaws at Valparaíso’s tattered hemline. To the south, leafy vineyards, symbols of the blooming concern that is the nation’s wine trade, tout their wares in long furrows. To the north, the next-door city of Viña del Mar basks in the sun as a popular resort, all seafront apartments for Santiago weekenders – while also casting a backwards glance in the Museo Fonck, an archaeological museum where the inimitable form of a statue from Easter Island, Chile’s Pacific outcrop, waits outside. It would be easy to tarry here. But my journey calls me from the verdant green of central Chile to the red and brown of its north. Emerging from the airport in the parched town of Calama, 200 miles from the notorious Copiapó mine, I discover that the Atacama Desert could belong to another universe. Dust – orange and insistent – sticks to my shoes and trousers, and the Andes are menacingly close, dominating the horizon with brute majesty. This desiccated landscape seems to stretch on endlessly. But just outside the baked-stone village of San Pedro de Atacama, the Alto Atacama Hotel keeps its counsel in a mini oasis: 32 rooms, a spa, a gourmet restaurant – a totem of luxury in this ruddy wilderness. And a rare one in an area where life flows in the past tense. On a crag above, a fortress broods. Built to protect the oasis by the Licanantay tribe in the 12th century, it is proof that existence here has always been tough, its ramparts having, over the years, been asked to repel attacks from marauding Incas and invading Spaniards. There are other shards of history too: Tulor, the oldest archaeological site in Chile, where the remnants of mud-brick homes date to the 8th century BC; ancient petroglyphs, etched into clay by the Calima people, telling 1,500-year-old tales of animal sacrifice and human endeavour. Elsewhere, Toconao and San Pedro de Atacama pledge their allegiance to 16th-century Spain, squat churches in whitewashed squares, bells pealing in tribute to Madrid. But it is the area’s geological wonder that dazzles. Excursions run by the Alto Atacama pitch me into Valle de la Luna. Moon Valley is aptly named in its pale otherworldliness, pillars of salt are all that grow here. Valle del Arcoiris (Rainbow Valley) is just as well-titled, its heavy flanks a chorus-line of cobalt, gypsum and lamprophyre, high-kicking between green and pink. And then there is Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) an unforgiving scar of cracked earth – but one that broadcasts the most photogenic sunset I have ever seen. Just beyond, Licancabur stands giant guard. This 19,423ft beast is another refugee from an infantile sketch pad, the very stereotype of a volcano – colossal, conical, threatening. Even minus a puff of smoke from its summit, it is evidence of the wild, outlandish nature of this country. And also evidence, perhaps, of a careless deity. Because if God really did drop this lava-fried behemoth from his pocket, you might think he would have noticed. December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 49

Coast Buster The stars of the 20th century rained down on the Amalfi Coast. And the afterglow of glamour lingers on. But it’s the natural assets of this corner of Italy that make it so beautiful...

AmAlfi coAst | itAly


avello is a town of name-droppers. The bigger the names and the louder they’re dropped the better. It’s practically a civic duty. In the Viale Richard Wagner (clang!) aside from the street sign itself, there are two plaques. One commemorates a film that was shot here in 1953, John Huston (ding!), Humphrey Bogart (dong!), Gina Lollobrigida (plink!), Peter Lorre (plonk!), Truman Capote (tinkle!) and Robert Capa (crash!) woz all here. Joining in, on the opposite side of the street, another plaque confirms the Dutch optical illusion artist MC Escher (boing!) woz also here. Celebrity validates Ravello. The stars of the 20th century rained down on this small town clinging to a ridge overlooking the Gulf of Salerno. The shower was particularly dense in the 1950s and 1960s, giving Ravello, and the whole of the Amalfi Coast, an afterglow of glamour that lingers on. They came for the weather; they came for the lifestyle and, above all, they came for the expansive (and, indeed, expensive) views. The views are promiscuous – shameless, demanding attention, teasing and seducing. You would be hard pressed to find a square inch of Ravello’s seaward flank that does not command the eyes to luxuriate and the poetic heart to soar. The super-luxe Hotel Caruso occupies one of the most breathtaking positions. The infinity pool at the apex of the ridge gives the delirious sensation of flight, inviting swimmers to follow the swallows that swoop and skim the surface of the water over the edge into the void between tumbling mountains, sea and sky. This is a pool for gods – gods with deep pockets admittedly, but if it’s a taste of omnipotence you’re after, this is a good investment. Lunch at the poolside is a caress of the senses. Fresh buffalo mozzarella sourced from Paestum across the gulf, and pezzogna (sea bream) from the ocean below. Does life get any better? The maître d’ cannot contain his excitement. They have a famous Englishman here today, a footballer he thinks, and nods to a figure jabbing urgently at his iPhone on the other side of the pool. I look across and see Gary Lineker (kerrang!). I struggle to explain to the maître d’ that Mr Lineker is so much more than a mere footballer – he is an icon of blokey sporting punditry; he is the purveyor of crisps to a grateful public. Nevertheless, the rest of lunch, now bathed in the glow of celebrity, takes on a heightened smugness. Lineker is following in well-trodden British footsteps.


Kanoo World traveller December 2011

‘The views are promiscuous – shameless, demanding attention, teasing and seducing’

AmAlfi coAst | itAly

Opening page: View of Positano. This page, clockwise from top: Peninsula of Sorrento; Hotel Santa Caterina; Terrace of Villa Cimbrone on the Amalfi Coast; Spiaggia Grande beach, Positano town.

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Kanoo World traveller December 2011

AmAlfi coAst | itAly Opposite page: View from the 13th century Villa Rufolo garden across Amalfi Coast. Next page: Umbrellas on a shelf-like beach of rock at Positano.

You could argue the Ravello of today is, in part, created by Brits. The gardens of the Villa Rufolo and the Villa Cimbrone are credited respectively to Sir Francis Neville Reid, a Scottish aristocrat, and Ernest Beckett (later Lord Grimthorpe). In both cases, the romantic ruined properties of ancient noble families were rescued from neglect and reinvented. Villa Rufolo’s gardens are famously said to have inspired Wagner while writing Parsifal and it is one of the venues to host the Ravello Festival. I arrive a few days too late for this year’s events, but misty-eyed locals recall the Dawn Concert that began at 5am on 11 August in the open-air auditorium. The temporary stage is still set up, hovering seemingly on thin air over a sheer drop into the wide blue yonder; even without the music, the site induces goose bumps. You don’t need much imagination to conjure the emotional impact of Mozart, Mahler and Schubert offered up as night gives way to the dawn breaking directly behind the stage – the mountain tops catching fire and the sea beginning to shimmer. It must be magical. Villa Cimbrone on the western spur of the town is even more impossibly romantic. The architecture can be described as eclectic if you want to be kind, or a jumble of nonsense if you don’t. It is the gardens, though, that demand respect. Designed with input from Vita Sackville-West and influenced by Gertrude Jekyll, this is a playground for faeries and poets. The Bloomsbury Set frolicked here. The long and stately ‘Avenue of Immensity’ leads, with metaphysical inevitability, to the ‘Terrace of Infinity’. The view here is, if anything, bigger and more panoramic than any other. Lovers and newlyweds line up on the balcony projecting from the cliff face to be photographed. Unbeknown to most, they are standing above La Rondinaia, the Swallow’s Nest, the former home of Gore Vidal. Here he played host to Rudolf Nureyev, Tennessee Williams, the Jaggers, Lauren Bacall, Princess Margaret and Paul Newman, among others. There – why fight the impulse? Name-dropping is contagious. There is a simpler, less glittery side to Ravello – which

requires only a pair of decent trainers and sturdy knees. The mountains are cross-hatched with stepped trails that were, for many centuries, the only means of access between the mountain villages and the fishing ports on the coast. From the terraces of the Hotel Caruso, the Monastero di San Nicola is clearly visible, standing proud on top of the hill across the Minori valley. Getting there involves turning your back on tourist Ravello and heading uphill through the sections of the town that the residents have reserved for themselves – the houses are less manicured; there are quotidian grocery shops and humble little churches. It takes about half an hour to reach Sambuco at the top of the valley. Though picturesque enough from a distance, it has the purposeful feel of a working community – the steep mountainsides are laboriously carved into lemon groves and vineyards. The trail passes through chestnut and oak forests, gradually ascending to a saddle, where the views back to Ravello are as spectacular as they are revealing. I get a proper glimpse of the auditorium the municipality commissioned of Oscar Niemeyer (the 103-year-old Brazilian architect) in a bloodrush to their collective head. Maybe they were flattered by the attention of a world-ranking architect, but to my surprise all the building does is succeed in locating my inner Prince Charles. It looks as if someone has drawn a huge sloppy graffiti rendition of Edvard Munch’s The Scream on the unsuspecting alleyways and terraces of the medieval town. It is a carbuncle by any other name. Face the other way and you could be in any century you choose. I encounter just one walker throughout the afternoon. The St Nicholas Monastery at the top of the mountain is not inhabited these days and that simply accentuates its isolation. Those monks knew how to pick a spot. The heat is rising on currents that are aromatic with wild herbs and pine resin. It is a 1,500ft drop to the sea from here, crashing down to the coastal town of Maiori on the left and Minori on the right. For a moment, it does seem as if the world is perfectly pivoted and arranged for my well being. In theory, the descent should be the easy part. Getting

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 55


Kanoo World traveller December 2011

Images: Corbis / / Hotel Santa Caterina Credit: Sankha Guha / The Independent / The Interview People

down to Minori involves thousands of steps and every one of them is an angry jolt sent up my tibia by the unforgiving earth. Halfway down, I am in trouble. My crocked knees are threatening to fold at every step. And every step is followed by hundreds more. Down through the forest, down through the steeply tiered orchards, the steps become more insistent, they multiply and increase in frequency, they have horns and sharpened pitchforks which they jab eagerly at my kneecaps. And still they come – every corner reveals hundreds more of the little devils. By the time I stagger into Minori people are staring at me as they might if Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, had walked down from the hills. On the seafront, the passeggiata is in full swing. I collapse at a cafe and, after a restorative drink, watch enviously. Children run, old folk shuffle, a wedding party ambles, the entire population of Minori is out strolling, taking the evening air, enjoying the promenade. I am convinced I will never walk again. When I move on to the next hotel, the Santa Caterina in Amalfi, I am determined to find less challenging means of exploring. The hotel seems to grow out of the cliff and has another of those jaw-dropping views that are fast becoming routine. The hotel pool, set on a concrete platform just above sea level, can be accessed by a lift that teeters down the cliff wall. The vertical plunge of mountain into sea characterises the Amalfi Coast stretching westwards towards Positano and beyond. There is nothing cosy about this rugged landscape and the best way to appreciate its severe beauty is from the water. Captain Flavio Paladino knows every inch of the Costiera Amalfitana. From his boat, the Amalfi Drive – the coastal road running along the side of the cliff between Amalfi and Sorrento – looks like an optical illusion that MC Escher might have dreamt up. The road is carved from the sheer cliff in some stretches; it pierces the wall in others and is cantilevered out from the rock face in others. Mussolini, according to Captain Flavio, ordered his engineers to make the Drive into a viable modern road – until then the track had been supported by a rickety wooden substructure. It remains a vertigoinducing scare of a drive, but before Mussolini it must have been a helter-skelter of terror. Captain Flavio is getting warmed up, and as we make our way up to Positano he launches into a well-rehearsed spiel. Here we go again. Over there is the house and helipad of Sophia Loren (splat!); here is the discotheque frequented by Frank Sinatra (thud!), and we are just passing the beach favoured by Jacqueline Kennedy (kerpow!).

AmAlfi coAst | itAly

December 2011 Kanoo World traveller 57

Cup of Cheer | Sri Lanka

Cup of Cheer Nigel Tisdall is charmed by Sri Lanka’s landscape and happy people. But what really gets him going is a nice cuppa

60 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

Some of these bushes are over 130 years old,” Andrew Taylor explains as he escorts my wife and me through the emerald hills of Bogawantalawa, otherwise known as Sri Lanka’s ‘Golden Valley of Tea’. Set 4,000 feet up in the hill country near Hatton, the enveloping landscape presents a fairytale scene of misty lakes, tranquil woods and vividly coloured tropical gardens. Every available slope is striped with long, winding rows of tea plants, while at carefully chosen spots former bungalows built in the Twenties for estate managers drink in the views. Now converted into well-appointed lodges, these elegant retreats offer visitors the chance to overnight in a nostalgic world of scones, croquet and hot-water bottles slipped between the sheets. Every day starts with a cup of ‘bed tea’ brought to your room, and later you can tour a tea factory, follow well-signed walks through the plantations, soak in a detoxifying green tea bath – then dine on roast lamb with a crusting of Earl Grey. Bearing the title of ‘Planter in Residence’, our guide is a genial descendant of James Taylor, the pioneering Scotsman who introduced commercial tea-growing to the

Cup of Cheer | Sri Lanka

island in 1867. His enthusiastic tours round the Norwood estate, where leaves plucked at 7.45am become tea for sale at 8am the next day, provide an absorbing introduction to a beverage we all take for granted. And they can be a life-changing experience – now I only drink my tea black and sugarless, and made using leaves properly brewed in a pot with freshly boiled water. Milk? Ugh! Tea bags? No thanks. A nice cup of full-bodied, single region Meda Watte? Yes please! In every way, a trip into the hill country is the high point of a holiday to Sri Lanka. Following the ending of its 25-year civil war in 2009, the country is now back on the tourist map as a hot place for some winter sun. One reason – besides its beaches, cultural sights and warm climate – is its people. The Sri Lankans are a smiley, welcoming lot with a multi-faith society that is particularly apparent at night. Then you spy the many buildings that light up the darkness, beaming out their faithful messages. To the traveller, it feels like all the key gods of the world are looking after you. And we need protection, because Sri Lanka’s roads are mined with hazards. The customary way to tour is with a car and driver, and our lives have been entrusted to the safe and cautious steering wheel of a

‘...the enveloping landscape presents a fairytale scene of misty lakes, tranquil woods and vividly coloured tropical gardens’

Opening page: Tea pickers, Nuwara Eliya. Opposite: Elephants bathe. This page: A traditional stilted fisherman.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 61

gentleman called Hector. “We must watch out for wild elephants here,” he remarks nonchalantly as we head down a rough track near Dambulla. “Did you know those fellows love pineapple? They can even smell it inside the car.” I hastily review what we had for breakfast. While my wife has been enjoying Sri Lankan classics such as string hoppers and curd with treacle, I’ve been healthily eating yogurt and, er, fruit... Fortunately, our only animal encounter is with the monkeys that swing by the bathroom window as we check into our room at the monumental Kandalama Hotel. Buried in the jungle, this designer masterpiece was completed in 1994 by Geoffrey Bawa, Sri Lanka’s most famous architect. Devotees trek here just to admire its strict geometrical lines and unadorned surfaces, but the hotel is also an excellent base for exploring what’s known as the Cultural Triangle. These are Sri Lanka’s northern plains, bejewelled with historic royal sites that include the rocky citadel of Sigiriya, the ancient city of Anuradhapura, and the former capital of Kandy. We opt to visit Polonnaruwa, which flourished in the 12th century. Its ensemble of beautiful ruins is so extensive it’s best to drive around. The star attraction is Gal Vihara, a set of four massive granite statues of which the largest is 45ft long. Unusually, the companion museum turns out to be excellent, with exquisite works of art, informative commentaries in English and photographs of the unexcavated site, which lay buried in the jungle for seven centuries. While you need to head inland to get a sense of Sri Lanka’s long, rich history, there’s 62 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

a second story to be enjoyed around the coast where Portuguese, Dutch and British colonists came gnawing at the edges. Tourism is most developed in the west and south, and while it’s tempting to head for the perfect white-sand beaches that fringe the east side of the island, these are best visited after the northeast monsoon that ends in March – and as yet there are few good places to stay. So we head south to the traffic-free environs of Galle Fort, a World Heritage Site. Built by the Dutch in the 1660s, its massive ramparts are so formidable they withstood the 2004 tsunami. Inside, its streets are lined with boutique hotels and chichi shops, but there is still a thriving local community that has saved it from becoming a tourist ghetto.

Cup of Cheer | Sri Lanka

Images: Corbis / / Shutterstock. Text: Nigel Tisdall / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People

‘In every way, a trip into the hill country is the high point of a holiday to Sri Lanka’

Galle was the island’s principal harbour until Colombo overtook it, and it is scattered with colonial memories. There are imposing mustard-coloured warehouses once stacked high with cinnamon, and a sleepy library that was once the officers’ mess of the British Ceylon Rifles. The old racecourse is now the international cricket ground, and every lunchtime immaculately uniformed schoolgirls from Southlands College, established in 1885, gather under the 180-year-old rain trees beside what was once the prestigious New Oriental Hotel. Today this has been restored as Amangalla, a grand hotel for our times with four-poster beds, a huge jade-green swimming pool and a restaurant serving delicious local dishes such as seafood white curry and watalappan with coconut ice cream. Add complimentary yoga and a top-class spa, and a stay here engenders such a sense of wellbeing there

is a serious danger you will wander off and spend a reckless amount of money in one of Galle’s bijou shops. And that’s not hard, given that they are filled with quirky antiques, handmade lace, richly coloured cottons and the one thing few travellers go home without – precious stones. “Come in, we love the rain,” a shop owner expounds when I step inside his glittering emporium holding a dripping umbrella. “It’s so very good for selling sapphires.” In Sri Lanka they like to put a positive spin on everything, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the minute I pop out to take some photos, my wife decides this is an ideal time to whip out the credit card and buy some gorgeous moonstone jewellery. By contrast, my souvenir is a cloth for the kitchen that bears a mantra I can’t resist. “Keep Calm and Make Tea” it says – and after discovering the joys of Sri Lanka, I’m doing just that.

Opposite page, clockwise from bottom left: Rock fortress of Sigiriya; Local Sri Lankan dish; A tea picker at work; A local monkey eating.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 63

colourful india Explore this vibrant, beautiful land







JOrDAN (3 NIgHTS & 4 DAyS)









• Prices are per person (starting from), sharing a twin room and in US Dollars • Prices are subject to availability and based on a minimum number of nights stay as specified above • Price includes accommodation for specified nights with meals. Including return airport transfers (where mentioned) • Package offers include a detailed itinerary with sightseeing tours • These rates are applicable during December 01st till December 25th, 2011 • More details and other information are available upon request • If any arrival / departure airport transfers between 2000-0600hrs, surcharge may apply • All prices are subject to change at any time without prior notice, Kanoo Holidays terms and conditions apply in all bookings 12

Kanoo World Traveller May 2011


london | innsbruCK | liverpool | neW zealand

the 30 second concierge

Tim Theofanou and miKe fiTzgerald, The sanderson, uK How would you describe the hotel’s distinctive design? Our building has such a story to tell; it’s Grade II listed and was the UK’s first curtain wall building. Inside, it’s all about old meeting new: original features (listed courtyard garden, mosaics and John Piper stained glass wall) sit side by side with quirky Philippe Stark design pieces, which are fun and eclectic and include bespoke and legendary items – like the Dali lips in the lobby. If I only have time to dine in the hotel once, where should it be? Suka is the place to be. It has a new, Malaysian street food menu that’s amazing in that you’d have to travel a long way to try dishes as authentic. If you try one thing, make it the Ikan Bakar. Meaning ‘burnt fish’, it’s fish marinated and then grilled in banana leaves which infuses it with a fantastic flavour. Grab a table on the terrace, if you can, and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world. Oh, and a post-dinner beverage in the Long Bar is not be missed – it’s face-print stools are a cool place to perch.

Which nearby London hotspots are not to be missed? Of all the fabulous shopping on our doorstop, the best has to be Liberty, Selfridges, Browns, Beyond the Valley and, of course, Dover Street Market. By day, sights include The British Museum, The Wallace Collection and the beautiful Regent’s Park – in summer watch a show in its open-air theatre or admire one of England’s most amazing rose gardens. At night, there’s a venue for every day of the week, including Mahiki, MoVida and ChinaWhite. I’d like an high-end bite outside of the hotel – where should I go? We’re in the centre of the gastronomic action here; walk ten minutes in any direction and you’ll find hundreds of places to eat. The new trend in dining is small tasting plates, and the best new places to eat include Riding House Cafe, Nopi and Pollen Street Social; their dishes are so inventive. Casual eateries with an edgy vibe are popping up across Soho, too - Polpo, Ducksoup and Copita are all well worth seeking out.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 65



Head to the former capital of culture for an injection of art, world-class cuisine, and football…


t’s not often that the word ‘Liverpool’ and ‘holiday’ are found in the same sentence, but, believe us, Britain’s fourth largest city is well worth a visit. Filled with art galleries, ground-breaking museums, and trendy hangouts, this richly diverse city not only boasts one of the most famous football teams in the world, Liverpool FC, but spawned the most successful


Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

rock and roll band of all time: The Beatles. Still not piqued your interest? For history fanatics, Liverpool has more listed buildings than anywhere else in the UK, except London, all steeped in tales from bygone eras. While, for foodies, Europe’s oldest China Town is waiting to be conquered, as are dozens of hip cafes serving wholesome, locally-produced delights…

liverpool | uk

MUst-Dos Speke Hall (1) (nationaltrust. is an old


Tudor house which dates back to 1490, and is well worth a visit for its magnificently cultivated gardens – which visitors can walk around, just as the owners did half a century ago. Inside you’ll find original Victorian interiors and William Morris wallpaper, and can even go behind the scenes to see what a typical Victorian bedroom, kitchen and scullery were like.


Images: Corbis; Hard Day’s Night Hotel; Blakes restaurant.




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4 5

Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Steven Gerrard of Liverpool FC; Blakes restaurant; Hard Day’s Night Hotel; The Cavern Club; Liverpool skyline and Mersey ferry.


LiverpooL’s… shopping hot spots liverpool ONE is the place for up high-street shops, including John Lewis, Apple and Topshop, plus cutting edge names like Urban Outfitters. Metquarter, off Whitechapel, is WAG-central and the place to splash out on exclusive brands including Jo Malone, Mac, Kurt Geiger, Kate Kuba and Molton Brown. Cavern Walks is where those who prefer glamorous boutiques go to pick up the latest creation from Dame Vivienne Westwood, scoop a piece of vintage Dior, or browse jewels from Christopher James. Bold Street is worth making a beeline for to join throngs of bohemian-types who love its alternative shops, chock full of bizarre creations. Next, peruse its boho food stores and unwind in one of its little independent cafes.

guided walks of the stadium. You’ll learn how the team has won a grand total of 18 league titles, seven FA Cups and five European Cups, plus you get to sit in the same dressing room used by the likes of Carragher, Gerrard and Suarez and have your picture taken in the Anfield stands where 45,000 fans pack in for matches.

(5) (theyellowduckmarine. tour the waterways of Liverpool, so jump aboard for a leisurely look at the city’s historic buildings. Anfield (6) ( is the home of Liverpool FC, and offers



Fact (2) ( is a trendy hang out bursting with creativetypes. Inside, its independent cinema regularly hosts film festivals, while an art gallery showcases Liverpool’s budding talent. The Cavern Club (3) ( was dubbed ‘the most famous club in the world’ after The Beatles played here more than 300 times during the Swinging Sixties. Other acts to have graced its stage include Queen, Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Hendrix and The Who. Today, you can still catch a live show here, from upand-coming acts to established artists. The Albert Dock (4) (, in its heyday, had 40 per cent of the world’s trade passing through it. Since then, the area’s been developed to become the Northwest’s most popular free tourist destination – visit the Tate Liverpool, the Merseyside Maritime Museum and the International Slavery Museum for an insight into local history and art. Yellow boats


WHERE TO STAY Base 2 Stay (7) (base2stay. com) occupies a renovated 1850s building that stands in a great location, a stone’s throw from Lime Street Station and

the Albert Dock on the River Mersey. Book the secret garden suite for two floors of space all to yourself, along with an outside decking area – the perfect place to unwind after a day’s sightseeing. Rooms from $78. Hard Day’s Night Hotel (8) (harddaysnighthotel. com), is a rock ‘n’ roll-themed bolthole entirely inspired by the legendary Beatles. Fanatics can rest up in rooms dressed in Beatles paraphernalia – including a Lennon suite and McCartney suite – and listen to acoustic performers in its Live Lounge. Rooms from $247.

WHERE TO EAT Puschka (9) (, sits in the Georgian Quarter and offers family recipes in a funky, bohemian setting. All dishes are created using local ingredients, which arrive fresh every morning. Naturally, the menu depends on what’s in season, so go in with an open mind. leaf (8) ( is an independent tea shop, serving informal bites in the heart of the city. Grab a homemade scone and finger sandwich or pop along to one of the vintage markets or music performances, which it hosts weekly.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 67



Austria’s quaint town offers adrenaline-fuelled adventures, over two million years of history, and the chance to visit the world’s only crystal-filled theme park, recaps Jade Bremner


urrounded by the looming Nordkette mountain ridge, Innsbruck, the capital of Tyrol province, is characterised by breathtaking picture-perfect pine forests, snow-capped peaks and worldclass ski opportunities. Quaint, pastelcoloured townhouses flank the Inn River, while charming squares and cobbled streets bursting with ancient legends snake through its vista. Foodies will be positively drooling at the sight of the tasty local treats on offer – fill up on Austrian strudel, as well as countless other rich European flavours, which are abundant thanks to the close proximity of Italy to the south and Germany to the north. Stay in a five-star hotel in town, or a mountain alpine lodge, and let your Sound of Music-esque adventure begin... 68

Kanoo World Traveller December 2011

MUST-DOS Zoom down the Igls Olympic Bobsled Run (1) (, which was built especially for the 1964 Olympic Winter Games. Hold on tight and rattle along the 1,200-metre pipe at speeds of 70km/h, hitting 14 sharp bends along the way. Surprisingly, you can bobsled all year round – on wheels during the summer and on runners over ice in the winter. Buy a crystal

at Swarovski Crystal World (2) (kristallwelten.swarovski. com). Only a short distance from town, it is filled with jewellery, chandeliers and a variety of sculptures, including pieces designed by Andy Warhol, Alexander McQueen and Brian Eno, all of which are slathered

with the shining cuts of glass. Its theme park has attracted 10,000 million visitors to date, many of whom have purchased sparkling swans and jewels in its extensive gift shop. Visit the Golden Roof (3), originally commissioned by king of the Roman’s – Maximilian I – in 1500. The gold plated roof sits atop a balcony, three-storeys up, in the centre of the old town, and was built to honour Maximilian’s second marriage to Bianca Maria Sforza – the eldest daughter of the Duke of Milan. Step inside to visit its museum ( and find out more about the great warrior and his legacy. Scale

the Bergisel ski jump tower (4) ( – a perfect

innsbruck | austria





3 2




Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Skier at the Alpen resort; Houses in Innsbruck’s old-town; Dengg restaurant. This page: Schwarz Alpen Resort.





an ideal place n which to relax and enjoy the stunning jet-black mountains, offset by snow-glazed pine forests. The family-run resort, located half an hour from Innsbruck, boasts a petting zoo, seven swimming pools (including one freshwater pool filled with mountain water) and, unusually, an on-site cosmetic surgery clinic. Rooms from $308.

WHERE TO EAT Sitftskeller (9) (


pursuit for winter sports fanatics – and see the view from the platform, where professional ski jumpers take a leap of faith 47 metres high. Its unique feature? The eerie graveyard that lies just ahead of the landing strip; sure to distract even the most seasoned skiier on their descent.

Visit the Panoramic Painting (5) (,

Images: Shutterstock, Schwarz Alpen Resort, Dengg restaurant

which documents the famous Bergisel battle of 1809, when the fierce Tyroleans defeated Bavarian and French invaders. History buffs can stand and marvel at the sheer size of the artwork – it spans some 1,000 square metres – which, incredibly, took only three weeks to complete. Aside from its size,

the other fascinating aspect of the painting is the artist’s use of distorted perspective, meaning the figures appear three dimensional to the eye. Ride the cable car (6) (nordkette. com) network from the old town and travel up some 2,256 metres above sea level, via a see-through pod. Enjoy the breathtaking scenery along the way, or stop at Europe’s highest zoo, the Alpine Zoo (alpenzoo. at), which houses over 150 different species of animals, each native to the area.

WHERE TO STAY Grand Hotel Europa (7) ( is set in the centre of Innsbruck and just

a short stroll from the charms of the authentic old town area. It’s also located opposite the town’s railway station, and is one of few hotels in the area to scoop a coveted five-star rating. Rest up in one of two styles of room – an alpine touch is ideal for those seeking for a more traditional feel, while its minimalist boudoirs are ideal for the business travellers among you. Come nightfall, dine in the excellent in-house restaurant Europa Stuberl, which offers an array of gourmet international fare across five different rooms. Rooms from $191.

Schwarz Alpen Resort (8) ( is the epitome of a picturesque alpine retreat;

can be found a stone’s throw from the Golden Roof. This family-friendly eatery is popular with locals and tourists alike. Inside, the food ranges from Tyrolean fare to international cuisine and, with a menu printed in several different languages, it’s easy to find something you’ll love. The bustling atmosphere speaks volumes about the food but, best of all, it’s easy on the wallet. From $20 per head.

Dengg (10) ( is well worth a visit to experience its sophisticated take on fusion cooking. Set in the old town, it’s a refreshingly modern eatery in what is a predominantly traditional dining district – plus it has a chic interior and menu to match. The outlet is suitable for couples and groups, and is welcoming to families with small children. From $39 per head.

InnSbrUck’S… OUTDOOr aDvenTUreS Mountain biking is a great way to get lost in the wilderness and navigate thrilling terrain, including icy snow. Hire bikes at Die Boerse (

Paragliding will send you on a thrilling 20 minute ride, floating over the countryside with a parachute keeping you airborne. Hiking allows you to delve into the pine wonderland, spot wildlife, and rest up in a quaint forest hut. ( Skiing is a must, with slopes for all abilities and ski schools for all ages – don’t leave without cruising down a peak at full pelt.

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 69

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Win A TWO-NIGHT STAY AT THE LUXURIOUS RITZ-CARLTON, DUBAI Renowned for its signature elegance, the RitzCarlton, Dubai sits amid manicured gardens and between the white sands of the Arabian Gulf and the cosmopolitan JBR Walk – famed for its boutiques and al fresco eateries. Stays here herald a multitude of pursuits: lounge on its private stretch of beach; take a dip in to one of its two pools; seek a soothing treatment at its Balinese spa; or dine in one of its four stellar eateries – don’t miss a decadent afternoon tea in its lavish Lobby Lounge, or go all out with an Italian feast at Splendido (its Friday brunch is renowned) – to name but two.

ThE PriZE Ritz-Carlton, Dubai is giving away a two-night stay for two in a Deluxe room, including breakfast. For your chance to win, simply email the correct answer to this question to easywin@hotmediapublishing. com before December 29, 2011.

Q. What is the name of Ritz-Carlton, Dubai’s famous Italian restaurant? a) Splendido b) Simply Splendid c) Splendour TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prize is non-transferable and must be taken by June 30, 2012. Dates subject to availability and exclude peak season.

EaSTErn PrOvinCE Kanoo Corporate Al Khobar 31952 Al Khobar +966 3 882 4534 +966 3 849 8700 Kanoo Travel Aramco, Rastanura 31941 Rahima +966 3 667 3591 +966 3 667 0388 Kanoo Travel Dammam 31411 Qatif +966 3 851 4001 +966 3 851 4300 Kanoo Travel Hofuf 31982 +966 3 586 4155 +966 3 586 3823 Kanoo Travel King Fahd Int'l Airport Dammam +966 3 883 7490 +966 3 883 2660 Kanoo Travel Kanoo Airline Center

Al Khobar 887 0128 +966 3 849 1823/+966 3 849 1824 U.a.E KT Fujeirah Sea Port Fujeirah +971 9 228 2298 +971 9 228 2295 KT Sharjah Rolla Street Sharjah +971 6 561 8655 +971 6 561 6058 KT Corporate Corporate Office Dubai +971 4 392 0240 KT Dubai Internet City Dubai Internet City no.12 (Oracle Bldg) Dubai +971 4 390 8671 +971 4 390 1990 - 994 KT Karama Holidays Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed

Dubai +971 4 334 7944 holidaysmgruae@ +971 4 334 1444 KT Jebel Ali LOB 16 Ground floor Jebel Ali Free Zone Dubai +971 4 881 6095 +971 4 881 5050/8816350 KT Bur Dubai Khalid Bin Walid Street Bur Dubai Dubai +971 4 393 1545 +971 4 507 2467 KT Burj Burj Dubai Business Centre, Bldg no. 1, Ground floor Dubai +971 4 365 3268 +971 50553 9431 KT Al Ain Emirates Commercial Complex Khalifa Street, Al Ain +971 3 764 4811

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KT Abu Dhabi Al-Najda st. P.O. BOX 245 Abu Dhabi +971 2 678 1766 +971 2 678 0400

Kanoo Travel 66 Gordon Street Glasgow G1 3RS +44 14 122 52905

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UK UK Kanoo Travel 34 Union Street, Birmingham, B2 4SR Birmingham +44 1 21 644 5555 Kanoo Travel 74 Queens Road, Clifton, BS8 1QU Bristol +44 1 17 906 5105 Kanoo Travel 3 Queen Street CF10 2AE Cardiff +44 29 206 49305

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Kanoo Travel 6 Stonegate YO1 8AS York +44 190 467 6505

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Kanoo Travel 1 Horsefair Street, Leicester, LE1 5BP +44 116 242 1805

Kanoo Travel 69 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2JG Edinburgh

Kanoo Travel St. Mary’s Gate, Manchester M1 1PX

December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 71

SuiTe dreamS huKa lodge, neW zealand

With sky-high ceilings, burning log fires, a freshwater river gushing outside and emerald green forests as far as the eye can see, this 1920s lodge has charmed more than the odd celebrity (Queen Elizabeth II, Kate Winslet and Michael Douglas among them). Its star-worthy suites place you in the heart of the wilderness, while, inside, their luxe trimmings feel like a fantasy home from home. You’ll need to delve in to the New Zealand outback to find it; by the Waikato River, a scenic spot that breathes peacefulness through the lodge’s open doors. While it claims to have a ‘low-key Kiwi style’, it’s country chic decor is a thrill to relax in, blending with its natural surrounds with stained-wood furnishings. We say, cosy up on your sink-staight-in-bed by a flickering fire; step on to your terrace to ponder its rippling river (look out for leaping trout); or wander in the lodge’s 17 acres of manicured grounds (keeping your eyes peeled for the next celeb guest). 72 December 2011 Kanoo World Traveller

Profile for Hot Media

Kanoo World Traveller_December'11  

The Middle East’s highest-circulating travel magazine

Kanoo World Traveller_December'11  

The Middle East’s highest-circulating travel magazine

Profile for hotmedia