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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE

FEBRUARY 2012

FO A ST RT AY E HO AT T TE HE LA R BU OC DH CO AB I

W

IN

Produced in International Media Production Zone

IRELAND

The rugged tranquillity of Donegal

Why the Windy City blows the Big Apple away

SPAIN

Discover the ancient charms of Pamplona

ANIMAL ATTRACTIONS

Kid-friendly safaris perfect for the half-term holidays

Love at first sight

Where to go to behold oh-so-romantic vistas

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KANOO WORLD TRAVELLER FEBRUARY 2012

CONTENTS TRAVEL BITES 05 CHECK IN

How to keep kids occupied, where to go on Valentine’s and much more besides...

13 WHERE TO STAY

Head to Hong Kong for high-rise hotels with stellar sights.

14 PICTURE THIS

58

We bring you another trio of weird and wonderful shots from around the world.

21 ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Where to behold the most stunning vistas with your loved-one this Valentine’s Day.

66 VISIT: ROME

What makes Italy’s ancient city a must on Rob Orchard’s travel list.

68 VISIT: BERLIN

Jessica Parry finds a gritty beauty in Germany’s once-troubled capital.

71 COMPETITION

Win a standout stay in Abu Dhabi, courtesy of Rocco Forte Hotel.

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38

72 SUITE DREAMS

Curl up in a ‘honeycomb’ suite in the wilds of Africa...

FEATURES 32 SPAIN Rediscovering Ernest Hemingway’s old stomping ground of Pamplona.

38 IRELAND

Why cosy lodgings, rugged beaches and wildlife makes Donegal a family favourite, says Judith Woods.

44 CHICAGO

Claire Wrathall finds New York is no match for the ‘Windy City’.

52 SINGAPORE & BANGKOK

Mark Smith takes a train ride of a lifetime on the Eastern & Oriental Express, not to mention ‘Death Railway’

58 SEOUL

32

52

What the lesser-visited Korean capital can offer curious globetrotters...

On the cover: Bullfighting at the Maestranza bullring. Yadid Levy, Corbis/ Arabian Eye.

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Group Editor: Laura Binder

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Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in Kanoo World Traveller.

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

January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 3


CHECK IN | NEWS

CHECK IN

BE INFORMED, BE INSPIRED, BE THERE

DOHA

INTERCONTINENTAL DOHA THE CITY Make for Doha at the end of the month and you’ll find an all-new hotel propping up its West Bay area – just 20 minutes from the airport. With some 302 suites taking up residence in the 58-storey building, the InterContinental Doha The City’s manager David Todd, says it’s the picture of contemporary design: “Interiors are very modern, with an authentic blend of Qatari culture flowing through,” he reveals. In fact, set foot inside and you’re sure to be agog: “The elegantly designed lobby is 30 metres in height surrounded by a glass atrium,” says Todd. The highlight of which is tipped as an “exquisite 55-foot chandelier from the Czech Republic”. Couple that with a spiral staircase and Japanese garden outside and it’s quite the picture. While the hotel comes with all the facilities you’d expect from the InterContinental brand, it does have a few extra tricks up its sleeve:

“The open-air rooftop swimming pool on Level 46 affords spectacular views while you take a dip,” Todd reveals, “ while Doha’s highest dining and lounge spot, Strata, at the top of the hotel provides a stylish, luxury setting for dining with views of West Bay and the city – it even has a private elevator to whisk guests to the top.” The dish that’s not-to-be-missed? “Last minute smoked lobster, poached in front of guests in a kafir lime bouillon, lemongrass beurre blanc, edamame, green peas and lime mousseline,” says Todd. Elsewhere, there are yet more eateries to tempt you (six restaurants and two lounges), serving everything from Lebanese (Nai) and hearty meats (The Square). While those with a sweet tooth should pay Crillo a visit – “the Chocolatier will offer decadent handmade treats” promises Todd. Delicious. ichotelsgroup.com February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 5


SWEDEN

MY PERFECT TRIP… Kenya Mikey Carr-Hartley, owner of luxe African lodges The Safari Collection (thesafaricollection. com), shares his favoured escape route – to the Kenyan coast on a Tusitiri dhow… I feel like this trip is the only place I can truly escape to – which is what draws me back on board and off to the Kenyan coast, time and again. The whole idea of being on your own private Tusitiri dhow is finding hidden gems. I couldn’t give directions, or say exactly where things are because every time you go on the boat you experience something new and exciting. It might be spotting humpback whales at sunset, stumbling across some 16th Century ruins, or finding the perfect beach when the tide is just right and the balance between powderwhite sand and clear blue ocean is at its absolute best. You know that the next time you go back it won’t look the same. Celebrating my wife’s 40th birthday is my fondest memory there – we were with our best friends and family and it was unforgettable. My essential items for the trip are a kikoy and my swimming trunks – not much else is needed! My top tip when replicating this trip is to beware the bugs. When you’re out on the ocean they’re minimal, but when you’re out and about, visiting Lamu or any of the Arab trading towns, just remember to cover up and avoid bites – you’re not on the boat anymore. The food on the Tusitiri trip is excellent at all times. There is a chef on board and it is a seafood extravaganza with fresh salads, home-baked breads – basically, very Mediterranean. It’s perfectly suited to the environment you’re in. Tusitiri is a self-sufficient experience; you play, eat and sleep on the dhow – I think it’s complete magic. You can sleep on the deck at night under the stars. It is truly an amazing experience. 6 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

READY FOR TAKE OFF If you tire of turning into ‘cattle class’, the new hostel from Oscar Dios will give you a prolonged taste of First Class – cosy flat beds and fine fare included. The Jumbo Stay hostel has taken over a once-active 747 jet – the only one of its kind to be converted in to a hotel – and stands on an unused runway in Sweden’s capital. “I wanted to create a hotel right on the airport and also create a hotel with unique features,” says Dios. “It retains quite a lot of authentic details from when it flew as a Jumbo Jet, as well as comfy bedrooms, a lounge and restaurant.” The more ‘authentic’ details Dios credits include trademark plane signs – think exit warnings – along with the pilot’s controls and flight deck. Though, today, such original features are for your amusement: “You can enjoy a good drink in our lounge, or watch the airport traffic from the plane’s sundeck,” notes Dios. In terms of mod cons, flat screen tellies and Wi Fi are most of note, while we’ve got our eye on its Black Box room – now an en-suite double bedroom. “There will also be a ‘wing walk’, with glass shelters over each wing in 2012,” beams Dios. As for the first class cabin, that’s been revamped into a 24-hour café – now, that’s something we can all enjoy… jumbostay.com

HOT OFFERS

A SIGHT FOR SORE EYES This month’s hot offers, brought to you by Kanoo Travel and American Express Vacations...

SIGHTSEE IN KATHMANDU 3 DAYS, 4 NIGHTS From $267p/p Explore bustling (and beautiful) Nepal in this sightseeing trip, which takes in the city, Patan City, Bhadgaon and Bodhnath (to name a few) before retiring to four- or fivestar hotel luxury.

HONEYMOON IN SRI LANKA 7 DAYS, 8 NIGHTS From $1,105 p/p Combine beauty and sightseeing in this one week trip as newlyweds.

Highlights include the Spice Gardens and tea plantations, beautiful Nuwara Eliya and decadent dinners and stays at the Grand Hotel.

ESCAPE TO INDIA 8 DAYS, 7 NIGHTS From $742p/p Take in three destinations on this week-long escape, staying in Kalimpong, Gangtok and Darjeeling, during which you’ll witness the glacial lakes of Tsomgo, the flower-thick hill resort of Darjeeling and a sunset at Tiger Hill – to name a few.


CHECK IN | NEWS

GLOBAL

NEW FOR FEBRUARY

What better date to open a hotel in the hopelessly-romantic city of Paris than February 14? Valentine’s Day marks the opening of W Paris – Opéra (wparisopera.com). No doubt named for its proximity to the stunning Garnier Opéra house, the hotel’s position places couples within a strolling distance of fine Parisian eateries and famed shopping (the boutiques of the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in particular), while you’ll be happy to return to the hotel’s cool suites, which marry W’s trademark design style with the elegance of Paris (it’s set within an 1870s Haussmann-era building). Next on the calendar is the much-anticipated unveiling of Park Hyatt Sydney (sydney.park.hyatt.com, pictured). Its revamp reveals three new

rooftop suites in the iconic hotel and the guest rooms’ floor-to-ceiling windows – step out on to a balcony and snap away at Sydney Harbour. Art afficiandos, meanwhile, should keep eyes peeled for the hotel’s display of myriad works from famed artists; sculptors, painters and photographers among them. The end of the month unleashes Hotel Sofitel So Bangkok’s (sofitel.com) theme of water, earth, metal, wood and fire. See the elements take shape across its 30 floors (courtesy of some of Thailand’s top interior design names), no more so than in its bedrooms, where fitting colour themes (we favour water’s inky blue hues) and textures prevail – along with sprawling vistas of Lumpini Park and Bangkok skyline.

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 7


AFRICA

A Walk on the Wild Side

A new wave of kid-friendly safaris (and luxe lodges for you) brings an once-in-a-lifetime way to keep your little animals occupied this half term. KWT brings you the pick of the pack…

FOR WILD ONES… Lukimbi, Kruger lukimbi.com Run by a couple with young kids of their own, this retreat by the Kruger National Park (home to the Big Five) has children firmly on the brain. Its ‘bush Olympics’ are a surefire way to rid their excess energy, while rangerled sessions will occupy overactive minds with animal facts. Even splashing around in its pool delivers an extraordinary thrill; you can spy elephants drinking at the riverbed. Fun factor: Beds and cots come in the shape of wild animals, so bedtime won’t be a battle.

FOR THE ELEPHANT MAD… River Bend Lodge, South Africa riverbendlodge.co.za Big cats are sparse here, but what the fivestar lodge has in abundance is elephants. Set in a private section of Addo Elephant Park, the lodge could well be home to the best sightings the world over. If your offspring have seen Disney’s Dumbo, they’ll be falling over themselves at the awe-inspiring sight of the grey giants (and their dawdling calves) ambling across the land. Fun factor: For older kids, a leopard rehabili8 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

tation centre provides a rare chance to see Africa’s hardest-to-spot cat up close.

FOR STORYBOOK DIGS… Chongwe River House, Zambia chongweriverhouse.com The whole family will be amazed by this private, four-bed abode whose exterior looks like a porcupine and whose interiors bear wooden furniture carved from a winterthorn tree and river pebbles on its ceiling – simply put, it looks plucked from a Flintstones cartoon. The Chongwe River flows before the lodge, where wildlife flock like bees to honey, and, back inside, a private chef can cater for even the fussiest of eaters. Fun factor: Kids can stay put, chaperoned by a hostess, for games and cooking or head out for canoeing, fishing and game drives.

FOR MINI ADVENTURERS… &Beyond’s Kichwa Tembo Masai Mara Tented Camp, Kenya andbeyond.com The ‘posh camping’ here will make kids feel part of the wilderness, while you get a helping of luxury. On arrival, they’ll be given

a ‘Planet Manager’ pack, including a quizfilled eco-guide that rangers will help them complete: mucky pups can get their mitts on everything from feathers to bugs and embark on ‘Pooh Walks’ to spot wild droppings, before graduating as a Planet Manager. The fishing and frogging safaris are a hoot, too. Fun factor: If the weather spoils kids’ outdoor fun, they can go to the kitchen and bake cookies for afternoon tea or toast marshmallows on huge grill ovens.

FOR EDUCATIONAL TRIPS… Wolwedans Private Camp, Namibia wolwedans-namibia.com If you want to leave a world of mod cons behind, the solar-powered Wolwedans will help you get back to basics. Its Private Camp has a ‘home from home’ feel, despite the absence of power points, while wide open spaces as far as the eye can see will have kids scouting for wildlife. But, the guides are the best bet to expand their minds with expert know-how on the plains’ weird and wonderful creatures. Fun factor: With no childcare service or electricity, this is our pick for sheer family bonding and an appreciation of Mother Nature.


CHECK IN | NEWS GLOBAL

4 WAYS TO SAMPLE... VALENTINE’S DAY Treat your sweetheart to one of the luxest hotel packages around this February

1

Drift in to a winter fairytale in St Moritz, at The Carlton Hotel (carlton-stmoritz.ch) via a VIP helicopter, which flies you over the Engadine valley before touching down on the slopes - where you’ll be met with a glass of bubbly. Three nights and three swoonworthy dinners are included (dine in your suite for uninterrupted privacy), while its world-class spa will pamper pairs with a massage or facial (the latter taken in a gold bath). Later, trot into the sunset in a horse-drawn carriage and take tea on the hotel’s Bel E’Tage terrace.

2

Fall for classical music in Vienna where the five-star Hotel Imperial (hotelimperialvienna.com) offers a two-night getaway, with a three-hour jaunt around the city and dinner for two. If opera makes your heart skip a beat, the icing on top are the first-class tickets to the heart-wrenching tragedy, La Traviata at the Viennese Volksopera.

3

Go for glamour of movie star proportions in Paris, just check in to The Hotel Lancaster Paris’s Marlene Dietrich Presidential Suite (the screen siren’s former home), tuck-in to a breakfast of bubbly and caviar; listen to a pianist with a private concert in your suite; and gallivant around Paris come nightfall – chauffeur-driven, of course.

4

Snuggle up in the English countryside at Luton Hoo (lutonhoo. co.uk); a country mansion of a palatial scale where Queen Elizabeth honeymooned with Prince Philip. If it’s grandiose façade and Alice in Wonderland-style gardens don’t catch your breath, its period drama-style four-poster beds and fine cuisine will: the hotel’s chef can create you a bespoke five-course feast, served by a private butler.

DOHA

At Your Service

The St. Regis Doha is now open and with it comes a dedicated butler service. KWT chats to its head butler, Pradeep Bijlwan, on the brand’s legendary standards and what it takes to be the best... Flick through the St. Regis hotel group’s history books and its owner, John Jacob Astor IV’s, vision was crystal clear: ‘to make The St. Regis the finest hotel in the world.’ “The first opened in New York in 1904 and the service was really born there and then,” tells Pradeep Bijlwan, Doha’s meticulous head butler with an impressive resume (the One&Only Reethi Rah Maldives, Peter Island Resort and Burj Al Arab, to name a few). “The attitude of the butlers was positive and proactive; they were there to take care of the guest and to do the task at hand without even being asked.” The St Regis Doha has a team of 40 butlers of myriad nationalities (“so they can work to international guests and speak all languages”). But what does it take to make a dream butler team? “There is intensive training for two months,” says Bijlwan, a process that starts in the classroom and expands throughout the hotel. “They recieve extensive training in different departments, for example, with our chef they taste everything on the menu so they know every dish and are familiar with every ingredient.” In fact, no area is left to chance; “Butlers stay in the hotel so that they are aware of every feature in the room.” Of course, today, the penguin-like suits you may associate with the ‘butler’ label are no more. But, Bijlwan says, the principles remain the same as they did in 1904: “It should be a personalised service in a discreet manner,” he nods. “Guests should not look for a butler, the butler will look for them.” For that reason, guests at St. Regis Doha see the same butler from the off, available 24/7. “The training’s aim is for them to be able to preempt the guest’s desire. For example, If we see a family, we can arrange a place on the beach; if the mother wants to go to the spa we’ll arrange a nanny in the room; if someone has a meeting we’ll ensure their suit is pressed beforehand.” Indeed, it seems the legendary St. Regis butler service hasn’t flinched since its origins. “Nowadays people are very busy and travel all over the world,” says Bilwaj, “they don’t want to be disturbed or waste their time. A butler means the guest doesn’t need to go to a concierge or restaurant reservations or housekeeping, they have one point of contact and whatever they need we take care of it.” And what makes the ultimate butler graduate? “A proactive nature,” affirms Bijlwan. “The St. Regis signature service we can train, but they must have the desire.” February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 9


oPenInG febRuARy 2012 St. Regis Hotels & Resorts extends a privileged invitation to experience the finest expression of luxury and an unrivaled commitment to service excellence at the latest addition to its portfolio, The St. Regis Doha. The pursuit of perfection, redefined at the finest address.

al gassar resort

stregisdoha.com

hotel debuts :

abu dhabi

bangkok

bal harbour

doha

florence

mauritius

sanya

shenzhen

Š2011 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their respective logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.

tianjin


CHECK IN | NEWS

WHAT IN THE WORLD?

FROM GROUNDHOGS TO GONDOLAS, THERE’S AN EVENT TO MAKE YOUR MIND BOGGLE ACROSS THE GLOBE THIS FEBRUARY...

5

2

23 14

4-13

18

2 WIARTON WILLIE FESTIVAL sees an albino groundhog (yes, you read right), aka ‘Wiarton Willie’, emerge on the same day every year to predict the arrival of spring. The bizarre annual obsession fills the Ontario town of South Bruce Peninsula, bringing not just the beloved hog, but musical entertainment and fireworks. 4-13 VENICE CARNIVAL reveals a show of grandiose

their mitts on the cold stuff – and try to beat the yet-to-be-lose Russian competitors.

14 ST VALENTINE’S DAY IN SAINT-VALENTIN brings a town-wide show of love; French residents deck their homes in blooms, the aptly-named lovers’ garden opens and free concerts serenade courting couples.

costumes and a backdrop to die-for. The entire city erupts in to a state of Italian splendour for two whole weeks; highlights of which include masquerade balls and canals, squares and even palaces filled with festivities, most of note being the masked balls (the Gothic Palazzo Pisani-Moretta hosts the grandest), to which revellers arrive in gondolas. Spellbinding stuff.

18 THE PARADE OF WHALES is an all-out show of appreciation for Maui’s blubbery mammals. The Pacific Whale Foundation’s Whale Day Celebration bears parades of funny (and fishy) costumes, including lifesize humpback balloons.

5 INTERNATIONAL SNOW SCULPTING COMPETITION takes place in the powder-white terrain of

23 GERMAN OPERA BALL is Frankfurt’s hottest ticket. Held at the Alte Oper opera house, the lucky chosen join thousands of VIPs for gourmet food, star line-ups and dancing. Just don’t turn in to a pumpkin when the clock strikes 12...

Colorado, where teams from all corners of the globe flock to get

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 11


Treasured Time. Our promise to you. At Rotana Hotels & Resorts, our open and friendly character means that both you and your loved ones are ensured of having the time of your life. So go ahead and relax. Our growing portfolio includes four different property types in over 70 locations. P.O. Box: 43500, Abu Dhabi, UAE. T: +971 (0)2 644 4412, F: +971 (0)2 644 4413, head.ofďŹ ce@rotana.com


CHECK IN | WHERE TO STAY

WHERE TO STAY...

HONG KONG

Get past packed pathways and neon lights and sample the famous Victoria Harbour, fine fare and that skyline – but which hotels will place you in prime position?

START

Restaurants

OR OR

Hong Kong Island

OR

Location

Kowloon Peninsula

Presidential suite

Standard suite

OR

Grand Hyatt Hong Kong

InterContinental Hong Kong

hongkong.grand.hyatt.com With its setting in the very heart of the city, this five-star haunt places you within easy reach of Central and Causeway Bay (five minutes) and lends a splendid view of the harbour. And if you don’t feel like being in the thick of things you can retreat to the hotel’s lush terrace garden and admire it all from afar...

Business

OR

hongkong-ic.intercontinental.com There is arguably no better viewing platform in town than the rooftop terrace of this supersized presidential suite – 2,500 feet, no less. Surveying the skyscraper-lined horizon from its panoramic windows, or black infinity pool, will make you feel every inch the celebrity.

Pleasure

Views

OR OR

Design

Shangri-La Hong Kong

Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong

The Ritz-Carlton, Hong Kong

W Hong Kong

shangri-la.com Entertain at some of the finest eateries in town. Seven stellar options reside here, but the one that’s not-to-bemissed is the Michelin-starred Petrus.

mandarinoriental.com/hongkong Plaudits go to Pierre Gagnaire’s Pierre, the Michelin-starred Mandarin Grill + Bar and Mah Wah; a top-floor Cantonese haunt with a to-die-for setting.

ritzcarlton.com As the world’s tallest hotel, suites lend superb views, while Ozone lounge is a must-visit, not just for its outdoor terrace but its tasty Asian tapas.

starwoodhotels.com Silver, black and red form the backbone of the Wow Suite which bestows cool features, from a chaise longue to a TV by the bath tub and mammoth windows.

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 13


PICTURE THIS

RED CRAB

Christmas Island, Australia Those squeamish at the sight of creepy crawlies may wish to look away now... For others, though, the migration of these tomato-red crabs is a sight to behold: there are thought to be some 120 million of the crawling creatures sheltering on Oz’s most festively-named island, each of which seek shelter until the wet season seeps in (typically October/November) and they can safely emerge to scuttle in their swarms to the coastline, where they breed and release their eggs into the sea - much to the amazement of the onlookers who flock here to witness the natural wonder firsthand. It’s a spectacle that can last up to 18 days. Image: Getty / Gallo Images


PICTURE THIS

MOERAKI BOULDERS Otago, New Zealand

Let your imagination run wild and you could reckon these rocks to huge, cracked dinosaur eggs ... in reality, of course, there’s a more logical tale behind the bunshaped boulders - calcium and carbonate-based rocks from the seabed, thought to have formed some 60 million years ago. Today they remain a permanent fixture on Otago’s coast; step on to the sea-drenched sand and you can touch the spherical stones, but, at up to three metres wide and several tonnes in weight, budging them is impossible - as is bypassing the New Zealand coast without stopping and staring... Image: Getty / Gallo Images


PICTURE THIS

HOODOOS IN BRYCE CANYON

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, USA ‘Fairy chimneys’, ‘earth pyramids’, ‘tent rocks’, the aliases for the hoodoos before you are both weird and wonderful. These flame-hued pinnacles sprout from the base of Utah’s Bryce Canyon National Park, each ranging in size from the height of an average human to that of a ten-storey building. Weaved inside them are multiple colours, the result of minerals shaped by the erosive forces of nature - water, ice and gravity - over the course of thousands of years. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye


ferrariworldabudhabi.com

IT’S YOUR TURN

TO FEEL THE THRILL

When you hit 240km/h in less than 5 seconds, don’t forget to breathe. At Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world’s first Ferrari branded theme park, you finally have the chance to live the racing dream in ways you never imagined possible. Experience the legend like never before, with over 20 rides and attractions in the world’s largest indoor theme park.


ESSENTIAL SELECTION | BE MINE

ESSENTIAL SELECTION

View to a Thrill Laura Binder seeks out stays with heart-stirring vistas, best shared with your Valentine… Hotel Caesar Augustus, Italy Few nations do romance like the Italians – little surprise, then, that this hotel comes lavished in the stuff: buttercup yellow, the ivy-clad mansion peers over the Bay of Naples from an elevation of 1,000 feet. It’s picture perfect. Take a pew at its terrace-based eatery, where clusters of justpicked roses and candles perch on tabletops and where you can sink your teeth into Neapolitan fare (the Carnaroli rice with seafood, saffron and caviar is a delight), as waves crash into the cliffs of Capri. If a candlelit dinner is a little too clichéd for your taste, though, make for the hotel’s infinity pool (surely the best on the island) and gaze out to sea. Just one tip: pack a suitably ‘Italian’ ensemble, guests here are effortlessly glamorous. caesar-augustus.com

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 21


Rayvadee, Thailand Tropical fauna, coconut groves and an ink-blue ocean circling green-tinged cliffs – Rayvadee really is as dreamy as it sounds. If being abandoned on a desert island (the most luxurious kind, of course) is your idea of heaven, the scattering of five-star pavilions here are liable to make your heart skip a beat. Three beaches snake their way around some 26 acres, which means you can step on to cottonwhite sands with barely another soul in sight. Bar lazing on its sun-drenched beaches, our top spot to survey the surrounds is The Grotto, where you’ll dine by the sea, beneath the arch of an ancient cliff. Take a barefooted wander after slurping juicy, pink lobster and you’ll have to pinch yourself at the romance of it all... rayavdee.com

Hotel on Rivington, USA If it’s city sights you crave, there are few cooler hotels to whisk a loved-one to than the Big Apple’s Hotel on Rivington. While it doesn’t promise decadence (the resounding style here is a minimalist one), it’s the tower-thick skyline and yellow-cab speckled streets that create a real wow factor. In fact, with its pared-down looks, loft-like spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows, it has to be the hippest 22 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

boutique haunt on the Lower East side. Push the boat out with a stay in its penthouse – seriously spacious, its terrace will make your jaw drop – and have an entirely private dinner for two before the city’s bright lights. Alternatively, the Unique Suite is the way to go – here you can see the Empire State Building which, on Valentine’s Day, features a glowing red heart at its centre. hotelonrivington.com


ESSENTIAL SELECTION | BE MINE

Hacienda De San Antonio, Mexico Make for Mexico where the façade of this boutique haunt-in-the-hills looks poised for lovers: prawn-pink in colour, its twee terraces would have been a worthy platform for Romeo and Juliet’s famous balcony scene. But, save declarations of love for later; look around and admire 360 degree panoramas of Colima’s volcanic valleys. Together, the backdrop and the 120-year-old property – with its coffee plantations, bamboo avenues and clear-as-day view of a mist-haloed volcano – prove a catch-your-breath sight. Make a beeline for its beautiful swimming pool, where cushioned loungers serve as a snug spot on which to behold it all, along with groomed gardens and a central stream that trickles its way to the pool. haciendadesanantonio.com

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 23


ESSENTIAL SELECTION | BE MINE

Wickaninnish Inn, Canada If you want to get back to nature, a stay here is one hell of a way to do it: slap bang in the middle of British Columbia country, the rustic Wickaninnish Inn is as remote as it is stunning. Coined from locally-sourced stone, cedar and glass, the property is inspired by its surrounds – and what surrounds they are: peer out of your suite’s panoramic windows and you’ll find yourself at the foot of sky-high, thick forestry, on a rock’s face and before the raging ocean – a position its owners chose for prime stormwatching. So, get your fireplace going, a glass of grape in hand and watch Mother Nature in action. Elsewhere, keep your eyes peeled for its standout spa (the hot stone massage is sublime) and for the Driftwood Lounge – with a ‘boot dryer’ and roaring log fire, it’s a lovely retreat after a chilly walk on the beach. wickinn.com

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 25


Hotel Salto Chico, Chile Snow-dipped peaks, emerald green forests and piercing glacial blues can all be surveyed from this icy-white lodge. Meander along its rustic wooden walkway to the sound of the gushing Salto Chico waterfall below, and you’ll be teetering on the edge of crystalline waters and at the foot of formidable black peaks. For the more active couples

26 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

among you, being at the heart of the Torres del Paine National Park presents a hotbed of activity, from glacier trekking to sailing. Saddle up in the lodge’s stables, though, and you can saunter into the sunset on horseback before returning for a dip in your suite’s oversized tub. (Or, go one better – request a room with a bubbling Jacuzzi.) explora.com


Delaire Graff Estate, South Africa It’s impossible not to stop and stare over Stellenbosch’s famed vineyards, here, a sight that extends all the way to South Africa’s piece de resistance; Table Mountain. The estate’s 10 ‘lodges’ (they’re actually more like private villas) make viewing the sprawling, pea-green terrain a breeze: sat on the uppermost point of Helshoogte Mountain pass, each abode comes with a private infinity pool and shade-dappled viewing deck. With such verdant surrounds, the best thing to do is simply savour the fruits of the region; be it fine dining (ingredients come plucked from the estate’s greenhouse); an al fresco massage at the estate’s stellar spa; or basking in your David Collins-designed suite, where marble bathrooms come chock full of Jo Malone goodies. delaire.co.za

28 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


ESSENTIAL SELECTION | BE MINE

The Oberoi Amarvilas, Agra, India What better monument to have in full view than one built in the name of love? Cue the Taj Mahal – constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal – which you can gawp at from the hotel’s lounge, lobby or even your suite’s bath tub. The hotel, too, is a fine display of Mughal architecture, from its elegant archways and manicured greens to its grand pools and pavilions – and that’s before you get to the interiors (lavish, to say the least). All this is best enjoyed at a regally tranquil pace, so, savour its torch-lit gardens, take a dip in its white, marble swimming pool (it looks stripped from a scene in Arabian Nights) or be chauffeur-driven to the Taj Mahal for an even closer look. And, if you really object to lifting a finger (it is Valentine’s Day, after all) there’s a 24-hour butler service. oberoihotels.com

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The old man and the city Pamplona in northern Spain was Ernest Hemingway’s first obsession, but the affair ended badly. Fifty years after his death, Chris Leadbeater visits a place that the author feared he had ruined 32 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

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t is not hard to find him. And I see him first where I had expected him to be. Outside the bullring. There he is in sculpture: head an orb of bronze, hair plastered to giant cranium, beard in bloom. His face wears a look that says he owns the place. In many ways, he does. Ernest Miller Hemingway. Legendary carouser and drinker. Itinerant American and far-flung traveller. A lover and a fighter who chalked up four marriages in his 61 years. A misogynist and a boor, but one whose bullish approach to life is splashed across the pages of the books he penned. A Nobel-lauded writer who, in the likes of For Whom The Bell Tolls and A Farewell To Arms, was one of the undisputed icons of 20th-century literature. Many parts of the world can claim an affiliation with the great man, his heavy footsteps solidified in the years he spent trawling their cities, and the novels he crafted as a result – Cuba (The Old Man And The Sea), the Florida


PAMPLONA | SPAIN

Keys (To Have And Have Not), Paris (A Moveable Feast), the French Riviera (The Garden Of Eden), Kenya (True At First Light). But Pamplona was his first obsession – a mutual romance. Even now, though sizeable of reputation, the capital of the Navarre region is a small city, hemmed into the north-east corner of Spain. In Hemingway’s heyday, this was trebly the case – a little-acknowledged citadel barely grown beyond medieval youth, a secret package waiting to be unwrapped. And unwrap it he did. In total, Hemingway journeyed to Pamplona on nine occasions, the most prolific burst between 1923 and 1927, when he visited every year. Each time he came for San Fermín, the city’s famed fiesta of bullfighting and brutality, drink and song. Of course, ‘famed’ needs qualification here. Because, before Hemingway, Pamplona was not famous. Much of

its current-day mystique stems from The Sun Also Rises, the masterpiece that the writer distilled from the ripe fruits of his Spanish summer of 1925. Indeed, you might even say that he forged the modern idea of Pamplona and San Fermín, his celebratory words transforming what had been a provincial party into a global event. The Sun Also Rises was his first novel, and his finest. A portrait of a group of Bohemians caught in the frenzy of the festival, it fizzes with the abandon of the Roaring Twenties. Its genius is built on fact, inspired by what happened to Hemingway’s own friends in the July heat. For the fictional Lady Brett Ashley, whose bed-hopping rips the group apart, you should read Lady Duff Twysden, a British divorcee socialite. For her ex-lover Robert Cohn, you can picture Harold Loeb, Hemingway’s former boxing partner. And for the cold voice of the narrator Jake Barnes, you should hear Hemingway himself. February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 33


But if 1925 was the beginning of something beautiful, 1959 was the end of the affair. The author’s final visit to Pamplona was not a happy one. Increasingly frail of body, mind and mood, he found a city he did not know. The spry Spain of the Twenties had been replaced by a state stifled by the fascist fist of General Franco for two decades, a country in which Hemingway’s books were banned. And San Fermín had swelled hugely – so much so that Hemingway feared he had created a monster. Writing in The Dangerous Summer, published posthumously in 1985, he mused: “Pamplona was rough, as always, overcrowded... I’ve written Pamplona once, and for keeps. It is all there, as it always was, except forty thousand tourists have been added. There were not twenty tourists when I first went there... four decades ago.” Two years later, on 2 July 1961, he walked on to the porch of his home in Ketchum, Idaho, and put a shotgun in his mouth. It was the week of San Fermín. While it would be a leap to say his last dalliance with Pamplona was a factor in his suicide, there is no doubt that it left Hemingway troubled. And, so, when I arrive in the city on a spring evening, yet another tourist attracted by his prose, I am aware of the folly of chasing something that Hemingway had deemed spoiled. But I am hopeful that it still exists, the Pamplona of 1925 – café chatter and friendly spirit – that dances in The Sun Also Rises. It helps that I am not in town for San Fermín, the bloodsoaked fiesta where the reckless run with angry cattle, and six bulls die in the ring on each of its eight days. For though it was the festival that called to Hemingway’s machismo, the city is far better when calm. So much is clear in the Plaza del Castillo. A grand rectangular space framed by the pale façades of threestorey buildings, it is the obvious spot to launch a hunt for Hemingway’s Pamplona. Here it is, the centrepiece, not only of the city, but of The Sun Also Rises – the playground where the characters nurse their morning coffee and spill their evening drink. As soon as I enter the square, I feel that I have tripped into a chapter of the book. “The square was hot,” says Jake Barnes of his first impressions. “The flags hung on their staffs, and it was good to get out of the sun and under the shade of the arcade that runs around the square.” And, though the day is merely warm, I do the 34 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


PAMPLONA | SPAIN

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 35


same, diving into the semi-dark and tracing the edge of the plaza below the low overhang that still flanks it on four sides. This brings me, instantly, to a landmark. “We had coffee at the Iruña,” Barnes continues, “sitting in the comfortable wicker chairs, looking out from the cool of the arcade at the big square.” Café Iruña does not seem to have changed in 86 years – a gilded ghost of the 19th century, vast polished mirrors affixed to its walls, Arabesque pillars rising to ornate ceiling, black-and-white tiled floor scuffed by decades of chair-legs scraping backwards. It still exudes ‘local’. It is a weekday morning, and, as I sip a café con leche (€1.90), I am surrounded by elderly matriarchs, huddled in pairs at rounded tables. And Hemingway is here, too, 36 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

swarthy statue standing by the bar in a side room that, until Spain enforced a ban, was the smoking area. This is the corpulent Fifties Hemingway (though a photo behind shows the svelte lothario of the Twenties), full of face – and the scowl upon it conveys what would surely have been his opinion on Spain’s break-up with tobacco. There are less subtle alterations to Hemingway’s Pamplona blueprint. The bolthole where the group stays in The Sun Also Rises was the Hotel Quintana – or the Hotel Montoya, as it is named in the book. The property, in the south-east corner of the Plaza del Castillo, was run by Juanito Quintana. He was a friend of Hemingway, and the model for the novel’s gruff hotelier, Montoya. Quintana, an open critic of Franco, vanished in the

Opening page: Pamplona. Previous page: Bullfight at the festival of San Fermin. This page, clockwise from top right: Chupinazo, the opening ceremony of the San Fermin Festival; Local bookshop; Classic paella.


PAMPLONA | SPAIN

Images: Corbis /Arabian Eye; Photolibrary Text: Chris Leadbeater / The Independent / The Interview People

‘Café Iruña does not seem to have changed in 86 years – a gilded ghost of the 19th century, vast polished mirrors affixed to its walls...’ Forties, and the hotel was turned into apartments. The ground floor now hosts the Cervecería Tropicana, a rowdy watering hole that, on the evening I pop in, is far removed from the polite retreat of matadors that Hemingway eulogises. Next door, Bar Txoko, where Hemingway drank in 1959, is similarly boisterous. Though, at least it is still there. Elsewhere on the Plaza, Bar Torino – thinly disguised in the novel as Bar Milano – is mourned by a plaque on the wall. Yet I can’t lose the belief that the Pamplona of 1925 lingers. And, as I stroll the Plaza that evening, I catch another glimpse. Children are noisily kicking a ball under the arcade, and I’m transported to Barnes’s depiction of a scene outside Café Iruña, of “a man, playing a reed-pipe... a crowd of children was following him, shouting and pulling at his clothes.” Then there is the Hemingway mother lode, the Gran Hotel La Perla. While Hotel Quintana is the mainstay of The Sun Also Rises, its colleague, in the north-east corner of the Plaza del Castillo, was the author’s favourite. He stayed here on most of his visits, becoming so much a part of its fabric that the room he always booked has been preserved in his name. The suite is usually occupied. But I am in luck. There is a vacancy – and I am led through the lobby of this elegant five-star, past an antique lift and a framed poster for the 1923 fiesta. At the top of the stairs is a time capsule. True, the number has been changed (from 217 to 201) as part of a renovation in 2007, and a new bathroom has been built on to the front. But the bedroom beyond the second door is almost unaltered from the last time Hemingway slumbered here, down to the original furniture: a twoseat sofa in faded pink; a white circular-dial telephone; a writing desk with fold-down lid; a pair of single beds. Of these, the one by the window is most important. This room was a direct influence on Hemingway’s work. When a hungover Jake Barnes is woken by the clatter of bulls on Calle de la Estafeta, it is – to all purposes – in this bed that he stirs. When I doze off that night, I do so aware that I am effectively sleeping within the pages of The Sun Also Rises. Next morning, I step on to the very balcony where Barnes observes this animal cavalcade, and decide to experience the route myself. Even walking it on a quiet Tuesday, the 851-metre madness of attempting to run with the bulls on these narrow streets is apparent: up the steep gradient of Cuesta de Santo Domingo into the Plaza

Consistorial, a quick left into Calle de Mercaderes, a right into the long enclosed corridor of Calle de la Estafeta. At the end, the bullring lurks. As I approach, the entrance is open. A market is in swing, and I wander inside. The size of the arena (the third largest bullfighting stadium on the planet, after Mexico City and Madrid) is impressive – and you do not have to be a blood-sports apologist to appreciate the place it holds in Pamplona’s heart. Nor to appreciate that its seats are where Barnes explains the rituals of battle to Brett Ashley; where the socialite falls for the matador Pedro Romero; where Hemingway himself watched the corrida. Hemingway was probably fair in his bleak 1959 appraisal of the city. But the thought that he had created a monster was not. Perhaps The Sun Also Rises ushered Pamplona into some awkward teenage phase – because it has since blossomed into adult sophistication. And it is here that the charming city Hemingway loved lives on: in the Museo de Navarra – a showcase for the region, where an 1804 Goya painting of the Marqués de San Adrián does dark portents, the clouds gathering behind the nobleman hinting at Napoleon’s threat to Spain; in the Parque de la Taconera, a leafy expanse where the art-deco Cafe Alt Wien does Twenties splendour as readily as Hemingway’s fiction; in the Ciudadela, a 17th-century stronghold where striking pieces by Basque sculptor Eduardo Chillida now nestle behind the fortifications; in the fresh produce on sale in the Mercado del Ensanche in the newer, south side of town; in Rodero, a Michelin-starred restaurant by the bullring; in the bite-sized pintxos at Bar Gaucho, where the ajoarriero (a pastry parcel of cod and poached egg) should really cost more than $4; in the cluttered ambience of a city that still echoes the medieval era in its defensive walls. It is to these that I go, seeking a last fragment of The Sun Also Rises. At one point, Barnes and Brett escape the group, ambling to these ramparts to share a moment of peace. And, on a quiet evening, I stalk them – past the Catedral de Santa Maria to the Paseo de Redín. Here is a special view, the River Arga flowing below, the valley ebbing away, the San Cristóbal mountain rearing to the north. It is the Pamplona that Barnes espies from afar en route to the city, “rising out of the plain... the walls of the city, and the great brown cathedral, and the broken skyline”. It is the Pamplona that Hemingway thought was ruined, but which, 50 years after his death, is still extant. You just have to search for it. February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 37


38 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


DONEGAL | IRELAND

Irish Rover On a half–term break in a twinkling familyfriendly hotel in Ireland, Judith Woods and her daughters relaxed, explored, played on the beach – and enjoyed a thrilling encounter with a stuffed hedgehog

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 39


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here to go now the half-term holidays loom and Daddy (yet again) is far too indispensable to be allowed out of the office, never mind the country? I’ve tried entertaining the children at home all week – but we’re all so bored and needy by the time he gets back that most evenings begin with a bicker. I’ve also flown to the likes of Mauritius, where the lavishly appointed children’s clubs would have most school head teacher’s weeping with envy. But being a lady in her tankini prime lounging alone on a pristine beach, I was horribly conscious of what people thought I was doing there. So, last half term I decided to head somewhere quietly appealing that would be a bit different and special, yet not so exotic that my spouse would complain about being left at home. Our needs were simple but non-negotiable: my daughters wanted “a beach to dig” and I wanted peace and quiet but – and this bit is crucial – attentive peace and quiet. And so we headed to the rugged tranquillity of Donegal in Ireland; a four-hour drive from Dublin airport that, as you get closer, becomes the best sort of car journey, one that’s an adventure in itself and actually becomes less boring the farther you go, as the roads gradually become narrower, the route twistier and the views more enticing. Look, calves! Ponies! More ponies! 40 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Our destination was Rathmullan House Hotel, which had come recommended as child-friendly and turned out to be a twinkling gem of a place. Sited on the western shore of Loch Swilly, one of Ireland’s three glacial fjords, famous for its dolphins, porpoises and sea birds, Rathmullan itself is a blink-and-you’ll miss-it seaside village, steeped in a disproportionate amount of history. It was home to the ruins of a medieval Carmelite friary and the last stop before the infamous Flight of the Earls in 1607, when Ulster’s nobility left for France, following the defeat at the hands of the English that marked the end of the Gaelic political order in the province. Almost 200 years later, Wolfe Tone, the father of Irish Republicanism and a leader of the 1798 Rising, was captured there and taken to Dublin in irons, where he cut his own throat rather than be hanged. Stirring, if gory stuff – perfect for my eight year-old, who has a penchant for Horrible Histories, and indeed for me, as I’ve reached the age where my memory is so cluttered with modern birthdays and anniversary dates that only the real biggies (1066 and all that) remain lodged in a corner of my brain. At the hotel, the mood was much jollier. Was it the Georgian splendour? The scent of the turf fires? The dinner of carpaccio of Fermanagh rose veal, roast rump of local lamb with wild garlic and morel mushrooms, followed by Irish farmhouse cheeses and locally produced

Opening page: Rathmullan House Hotel. Above: Local beach. Opposite page: Glenveagh National Park.


DONEGAL | IRELAND

smoked oatcakes? No, it wasn’t – although they helped. It was actually the (pleasantly distant) sound of my two girls laughing and running about outside with new best friends and a passing terrier they had adopted, which repaid their kindness by peeing on their coats. Most beguiling of all, there was also an indefinable comfiness about the hotel; grand, but lived-in, few airs, but many graces. Being a Celt myself, I may be a little biased, but I find Irish luxury is altogether more informal than the English sort. Thus there were ranks of previouslyloved children’s wellies (workaday Dora the Explorers rather than Hunters) and beach toys free to borrow – and discard at the front door. Nobody bothered to lock bedrooms and the general convivial air was of a countryhouse party rather than a four star hotel. An adults-only lounge was reserved for those without children, for reading and quiet board games. It was a civilised retreat, but to my taste not nearly as much fun as the other interconnecting sitting rooms, where conversation was livelier and toddlers gambolled about among the antique side tables and some heroically unruffled staff. A great number of families had also made the fourhour drive from Dublin for their R&R, and yes, I will own to a Mrs Bennett social climbing thrill that my offspring were hanging out with the daughters of a couple of consultants. I’m used to squabbling sotto voce with my husband over whose turn it is to chase round after the two yearold and who is clock–watching until the sun has passed the proverbial yard arm. Here, instead, there was a tacit understanding among the grown-ups that any small child who fell down and hollered for more than the requisite moment or two would be immediately picked up by anyone passing. Said infant would then be returned to its rightful owners or, better still, the playroom, where there wasn’t official supervision but there were toys and DVDs. There was also an indoor swimming pool in which to exhaust them before supper. Short of bringing Mary Poppins along, it was the nearest to deep relaxation that any (in my case temporarily) single parent could achieve while awake. The gardens led directly to a stretch of beach that ran for two miles, where the entertainment was provided by gipsy boys racing sulkies – lightweight two-wheeled carts hitched to sturdy piebald cobs – across the sands against a backdrop of foaming white horses. Here we dug castles, made pictures with seaweed and chatted to the dog walkers who paused to make a fuss of the children and admire their handiwork. It was hard to drag my two away from the beach and their new playmates, but drag them I did – and it was worth it. We took the serpentine coast road up as far as Fanad Point, with the Fanad lighthouse at its spectacularly rugged apex. The views down to perfect little sandy coves

‘Our destination was the hauntingly beautiful Glenveagh National Park, which features one of the most celebrated gardens in Ireland’

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 41


This page, top to bottom: Rathmullan house library; Donegal roads. Opposite page: Cliffs At Slieve League Near.

‘...there was an indefinable comfiness about the hotel; grand, but lived-in, few airs, but many graces’ were spectacular and tempting, but sadly my townie children were left feeling slightly car sick by mummy’s nervous negotiation of the hairpin bends, so I felt it better to press on than to pause. Our destination was the hauntingly beautiful Glenveagh National Park, which features one of the most celebrated gardens in Ireland, an eccentric confection of Italianate statues and Balinese stone carvings and the setting for Glenveagh Castle, a 19th-century pile built in the Scottish Baronial style. The American who owned it at the start of the 20th century was a flamboyant host who numbered Marilyn Monroe and Greta Garbo among his guests – he would weigh them on a jockey’s scales at the start and the end of their visits, taking personal pride in their (mandatory) weight gain thanks to his lavish hospitality. For my eight year-old, the visitor centre offered one of the major highlights – not just of the holiday, but of her life, apparently. A diorama showed a stuffed hedgehog, fox, owl and so forth, which was pretty standard stuff – except it was all at child height, it wasn’t under a glass cloche and touching was actively encouraged. And so, saucer-eyed with amazement, she gently, thoughtfully, ran her fingers through the feathers and fur, felt the prickles and was mesmerised at being so close to such creatures, albeit not quite in the flesh. It made a huge impression; many months later she still talks about it and the Glenveagh visitor centre has now become the benchmark by which all other visitor centres shall henceforth be judged – and, I fear, found sadly wanting. Back at Rathmullan House, there was an evening storytelling session for the children down in the atmospheric cellar bar and, on our last day, a kids’ cookery demonstration. I would have loved to have explored the county further; Donegal town, the Irish speaking Gaeltacht region to the far west, Mount Errigal and the Slieve League Cliffs.But it would have taken brute force to get the children off beach and I really would have preferred to drink in the scenery rather than drive, so it looks like we’ll have to go back again. Next time, though, we’ll definitely bring Daddy. 42 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


Images: Corbis /Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Supplied. Text: Judith Woods / The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People.

DONEGAL | IRELAND

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 43


44 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


CHICAGO | UNITED STATES

CHICAGO ON A HIGH

With its lofty skyline and superb culture, food and shopping, the Windy City has no problem holding its own against the Big Apple, says Claire Wrathall

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t’s hard not to be blown away by the Windy City. Like most people, I love New York. But I love Chicago better. A Big Apple without the angst or the attitude, it’s a place with all the buzz and beauty of Manhattan, but an altogether more laid-back, more gracious manner. It surpasses New York in other ways, too. Its vertiginous skyline rises not just higher but is older, for this is where the skyscraper was invented – ‘cloud busters’ they called them in the 19th century. For the moment the 1,450ft Willis (formerly Sears) Tower is the tallest in the West (the Empire State Building is a mere 1,250ft). Indeed, the new 103rd-floor Skydeck is the perfect place to get your bearings: on a clear day you can see for 50 miles, north to Wisconsin and across Lake Michigan as far as Indiana. Back in 1939, the great 20th-century architect Frank Lloyd Wright said: “Eventually, I think Chicago will be the most beautiful great city in the world.” He had a point. For its orderly grid is crammed with marvellous and extraordinary high-rises. Take the immense Wrigley

Building (1924), an ornately decorated white-tiled wedding cake just north of the Chicago river on Michigan Avenue, which is topped with a tower modelled on the Giralda in Seville. Or the Chicago Tribune building opposite it, a preposterous exercise in Twenties NeoGothic, the apex of its tower inspired by Rouen Cathedral, complete with elaborate tracery and flying buttresses. Cast your eyes west, and they’ll settle on the shiny black monolith that is Mies van der Rohe’s IBM building, with its glass walls, exterior steelwork and polished white travertine lobby. It stands in the shadow of the shiny 98-storey Trump International Hotel & Tower, at present the second-highest building in America, which has a terrific terrace on its 16th floor. The best way to get to grips with the variety of the Chicago skyline is to take one of the river cruises run by the Architecture Foundation, which offer a wonderful perspective on many of its major landmarks: Bertrand Goldberg’s Marina City, a pair of circular towers known as February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 45


Opening page: The Magnificent Mile. This page, clockwise from top: Cloud Gate; Chicago skyline; The Art Institute.

‘the corncobs’; icons such as Alfred Caldwell’s curvaceous three-pronged Lake Point Tower; or Studio Gang’s recently completed Aqua Building, with undulating façades that seem to ripple in the wind. The greatest concentration of 21st-century monuments, however, lies in and around Millennium Park, which opened four years late in 2004. At one end unfurl the billowing stainless steel ribbons of Frank Gehry’s majestic Jay Pritzker Pavilion, which, among others, hosts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, one of the world’s greatest. During the summer, audiences of more than 10,000 gather in the immense grassy auditorium to watch free concerts as well as opera and dance. It is flanked by Gehry’s equally arresting serpentine bridge and Anish Kapoor’s mesmerising reflective-steel installation Cloud Gate, which locals call the Bean; and beyond that stand Jaume Plensa’s monumental fountains, tiled in light-emitting diodes that display a changing gallery of gurning portraits of 1,000 Chicago citizens, from whose mouths issue occasional torrents of water. At the southern end of Millennium Park, just behind the luxuriant Lurie Garden, you’ll find the Modern Wing of the venerable Art Institute, another compelling reason 46 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

to visit Chicago. Designed by Renzo Piano, this immense gallery opened in 2009, making the museum the largest in the US after New York’s Metropolitan. It holds, needless to say, a remarkable collection: Seurat’s sublime Sunday on the Grande Jatte, Monet’s series of haystack paintings, Matisse’s Bathers by a River, Edward Hopper’s Night Hawks, Grant Wood’s much-reproduced portrait of a bald bespectacled pitchfork-clasping farmer and his dour daughter, American Gothic, and a succession of galleries packed with choice works by Picasso, Van Gogh, Gauguin, Brancusi and Gerhard Richter. I could gladly have filled the three days I was in Chicago looking at paintings and buildings, not just downtown, but out in the sylvan suburb of Oak Park, accessible via the ‘L’, the city’s antiquated elevated railway. Here you’ll find 25 houses designed by Frank Lloyd Wright between 1889 and 1906, as well as the architect’s home and studio, which is worth the price of admission just to see the improbable way he accommodated a grand piano in a tight domestic space: its keyboard and front legs sit in an upstairs room, while the rest of it bursts through the wall into the stairwell, where it’s suspended on wires from the ceiling.


CHICAGO | UNITED STATES

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 47


‘The best way to get to grips with the variety of the Chicago skyline is to take one of the river cruises run, which offer a wonderful perspective on many of its major landmarks’

48 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


CHICAGO | UNITED STATES

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 49


Images: Photolibrary Text: Claire Wrathall / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People

‘Chicago’s answer to Fifth Avenue, known as the Magnificent Mile, is home to branches of Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks’

50 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


CHICAGO | UNITED STATES Opposite page, clockwise from top: Wrigley Building; Tribune Tower; Chicago Theater; Shoppers at Millennium Park; Old Chicago Water Tower and Michigan Shops Building.

The houses are all now privately owned, but the museum provides an excellent audio guide to the area, “a place of wide lawns and narrow minds”, according to Ernest Hemingway who was born on North Oak Park Avenue, four blocks east of Wright’s home, in a preposterously turreted clapboard house that is now a hokey museum of his youth. Sightseeing aside, Chicago is also a great place to shop (even if its sales tax is almost a percentage point higher than New York’s). The stretch of Michigan Avenue, Chicago’s answer to Fifth, known as the Magnificent Mile, is home to branches of New York’s classiest department stores: Bloomingdale’s, Neiman Marcus and Saks (there’s a Barneys on East Oak Street). But thanks to an afternoon in the company of the Peninsula Hotel’s personal shopper Bonnie Kaplan, I discovered all sorts of wonderful emporia in off-the-beaten-track neighbourhoods I’d never otherwise have found. Elements in River North, for example, which sells exquisite homeware, jewellery and bags; Jayson Home in West Lincoln Park; or Renegade Handmade, a little place selling crafts in the hip East Village. Best of all, though, I liked POSH in the landmark Tree Studio Building, a listed development of artists’ studios built in 1894 on North State Street, three blocks east of Michigan Avenue. The shop began as an outlet for vintage silverware and china from grand hotels, some of it new, some second-hand. But it also stocks wonderful examples of echt Americana: classic earthenware diner mugs, the milky green glassware known as jadeite, kitsch Fifties tea towels and rather beautiful etched glassware from the Thirties, the style of which is known as “elegant Depression”. A long weekend is scant time to do justice to all Chicago has to offer given its abundance of museums and galleries, its vibrant theatre, dance and music scenes; its remarkable dining culture. It may be home of the hot dog (asking for ketchup is a faux pas; here mustard is the condiment of choice), rib shacks and the deep-dish pizza, but it also has 21 Michelin-starred restaurants. I did, however, get to an ice-hockey game at United Center stadium, a hot ticket since 2010 when the Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup league trophy for the first time since 1961. However hazy you are on the rules, ice hockey is a sensational spectacle: the speed, the grace, the skill (not to mention the violence). But then skating is practically a way of life here, hence the popularity of the free Millennium Park Rink, just below the Bean on Michigan Avenue and yet another reason to brave Chicago in winter. It may be bracing at this time of year, but the Windy City is a superlative place year-round. Whatever the weather, it’s hard not to be blown away. February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 51


Tracks of history Mark Smith travels in style aboard the Eastern & Oriental Express between Singapore and Bangkok before taking a slow train on the infamous ‘Death Railway’ to the River Kwai

52 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS | SINGAPORE AND BANGKOK

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white envelope was waiting at reception when my wife and I checked into Raffles Hotel in Singapore. It was not good news. A freight train had derailed in northern Thailand, trapping the southbound Eastern & Oriental Express until they could clear the damaged wagons. Introduced in 1993 as Asia’s answer to Europe’s glamorous Venice Simplon Orient Express (and in fact run by the same people), the E&O was now on its way south to Singapore some 24 hours late. At the earliest, tomorrow’s northbound train to Bangkok would not leave until late afternoon. Still, we’d have more time to enjoy Raffles, an oasis of Old World colonial charm and not just a five-star place to stay. “That’s where they shot the tiger, hiding beneath the

billiard table in 1902,” said Mr Danker, the hotel’s resident historian, who showed us around. A Singapore Sling at the Long Bar completed our Raffles experience, an affordable indulgence even if you can’t afford a room. At least the peanuts are free. The following afternoon, we presented ourselves at Singapore’s classic art deco railway station on Keppel Road. The station’s impressive sculptures and murals representing Malayan industry date from 1932, and the façade still proudly sports the initials FMSR (Federated Malay States Railway). At the station, I spoke to the E&O’s general manager, Leesa Lovelace. “Normally, our train runs pretty well,” she said. “But about once a year, we have to deal with something like this.” For all its luxury and fine dining, the E&O is still subject

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54 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS | SINGAPORE AND BANGKOK

to the vagaries of the Malaysian and Thai railways over which it runs, and a journey remains to be something of an adventure. After a short delay while an incoming intercity from Kuala Lumpur cleared the single track, the brakes hissed off and the E&O Express set out on its 1,250-mile, twonight journey to Bangkok. In the open-air observation car at the rear, a steward kept us topped up with tea and coffee as the train gathered speed along the narrow-gauge track, the railway forming a rural green corridor through urban and suburban Singapore. After passport control at Woodlands, we crossed the famous causeway which carries the road, railway and much of Singapore’s drinking water across the Johor Strait. Now in Malaysia, the train proceeded up the Malay Peninsula, through endless shady palm plantations and patches of thick jungle. Dinner was a classy, four-course affair in one of the two elegant dining-cars. The food was excellent in spite of the cramped kitchens, and many of the male passengers sported dinner jackets, attire made bearable by the air-conditioning. This is a sociable train, and as table reservations changed with each meal we could meet a cross-section of our fellow travellers. A few were celebrating a birthday or anniversary, most were using the E&O as part of a longer independent tour of southeast Asia, a luxury link between Singapore and Bangkok before an onward hop to Laos or Vietnam. If we’d been running to time, we could have stretched our legs after dinner during an hour-long halt at Kuala Lumpur’s historic railway station, opened in 1910. Dedicated traveller (and part-time insomniac) that I am, I did indeed stroll along the deserted platform, but as I gazed at the Moorish-style towers of Arthur Hubback’s

beautiful station building, standing proud against the night sky, my watch said 4am. After a hot shower and leisurely breakfast in our twinbed stateroom as the train wound its way up through jungle-covered hills, the E&O rolled into Butterworth, the ferry terminal for Georgetown on Penang island, once capital of British Malaya. A pair of road coaches shuttled us across on the ferry and we climbed aboard a fleet of cycle trishaws for a pedal-powered tour of historic Georgetown. Back at Butterworth, the E&O lost another crucial hour waiting for a train to clear the line ahead. Many passengers had onward arrangements and it was announced that we would make directly for Bangkok next day, dropping the scheduled detour to Kanchanaburi and the bridge on the Kwai. Pre-dinner cocktails were distributed as we neared the Thai border at Padang Besar, and day trips to Kanchanaburi were arranged for those spending time in Bangkok. But I was determined to reach the Kwai by train. Consoled by another wonderful E&O dinner washed down with a quantity of now-complimentary E&O grape, I spent a second convivial evening in the piano-bar car listening to my wife sing Cole Porter songs accompanied by the ever cheerful Pete, the E&O’s resident Singaporean pianist. The next and third day brought a scenic ride through southern Thailand passing rural villages, hilltop temples and strange rocky outcrops. Finally, late at night and many hours behind schedule, the Eastern & Oriental Express arrived at Bangkok’s grand Hualamphong station of 1916, designed by an Italian architect brought from Europe by the Europhile King of Siam. I was still determined to reach the Kwai, and at 5.30 next morning we were back in a taxi to Hualamphong.

‘This is a sociable train, and as table reservations changed with each meal we could meet a crosssection of our fellow travellers’

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Evelyn Kocsis, the E&O’s train manager, had had phoned ahead, and even though tickets had sold out, she’d made arrangements for us to occupy the seats reserved for train staff on the 6.30am weekend excursion railcar to the Kwai Bridge. The little third-class train could not have been a greater contrast to the E&O. Perched on leatherette bench seats, we bumped along, stopping at wayside stations, a warm breeze blowing through the open window, turning off the main line at Nong Pladuck onto the undulating weedstrewn branch line to Kanchanaburi. This was the so-called ‘Death Railway’, built by the Japanese in 1942-43 to link Bangkok with Burma to supply their war effort. From Nong Pladuck to Kanchanaburi, Asian slave labour built the line. From Kanchanaburi onwards Allied prisoners of war built the railway and the bridge across the river near Kanchanaburi made famous by David Lean’s The Bridge on the River Kwai. Not only does the bridge exist, it still carries three daily passenger trains plus the weekend excursion railcar, although these only go as far as Nam Tok, 130 miles from Bangkok and well short of the Burmese border. However, one thing the bridge doesn’t, or didn’t, do was cross the Kwai. Pierre Boulle, author of the original book, knew the line followed the Kwai for many miles and assumed it crossed the Kwai near Kanchanaburi. He was wrong, it crossed the Mae Khlung. With the release of Lean’s epic film in 1957, visitors flocked to Thailand seeking a bridge on the River Kwai, but all the Thais could show them was a bridge on the Mae Khlung. So with admirable lateral thinking, they renamed the river. Since 1960, the Mae Khlung has been known as the Kwai Yai or “Big Kwai” for some miles running either side of the bridge. Our little silver railcar stopped briefly at the well-kept country station at Kanchanaburi, 83 miles from Bangkok, then rumbled on for a mile or two behind the town, rounded a sharp lefthand curve hooting wildly and finally expired in the morning sun at River Kwai Bridge station, surrounded by busy souvenir stalls and crowds of Sunday visitors, a hundred yards short of the infamous bridge. We’d made it all from Singapore. Not, perhaps, on the fine Eastern & Oriental Express, but made it none the less, on the Slow Train to the River Kwai. 56 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Images: Corbis /Arabian Eye; Supplied Text Mark Smith / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People

Opening page: Bridge on the River Kwai over Mae Nam Khwae Noi. Previous page, clockwise from top left: Raffles hotel; Afternoon tea on the Eastern & Oriental Express; Hualumphong Station. This page: The Oriental Express.


EASTERN & ORIENTAL EXPRESS | SINGAPORE AND BANGKOK

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 57


Heart of Seoul The South Korean capital has plenty of surprises for urban adventurers

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I want to show you something,” said my guide. “It’s very Korean, and a little bit strange. You’ll probably think it’s silly.” We were walking, on an autumn evening that turned crisp after dusk fell on a bright and balmy day, down Isadong-gil. This is a crowded, trafficfree street in the centre of Seoul – or so you assume, until a rogue scooter or van shoots across your path. It leads through a retail gauntlet of high-quality and mostly affordable craft shops to Tapgol Park. Here, 15th-century stone pagodas commemorate the kings of the Joseon dynasty, who united the Korean peninsula after 1392 – which has plenty of resonances in 2012.

SEOUL | SOUTH KOREA

I imagined some ritual in one of the tea-houses, hidden down alleyways just off the main drag. Instead, we turned off into a small courtyard that hosted a sort of mini-mall, and went upstairs. There, gaggles of shrieking teens (well, it was Saturday night) clustered around automatic photo booths. They seemed – by the extravagant period outfits hanging all around – to have been hijacked by a theatrical costumier. The deal is that you pay a few thousand won (that’s around $3), select your historical fancy-dress, and leave giggling over the evidence of how fine you’d look as – in my case – a 17th-century Korean nobleman. Korea surprised me, not least in its civic sense of humour – quirky, surreal, sometimes raucous and often,

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 59


Opening page: Aerial view of Seoul. This page, from top: Gwanghwamun Gate; Busy shopping district. Opposite page: Cheonggye stream at night.

yes, a bit silly. Laughter has helped its citizens ease their rapid passage from the war-wrecked wasteland of the 1950s to today’s urban and ultra-modern ‘Asian tiger’. It is one of the qualities that takes the edge off the daily stress of Seoul. Take the cheap and efficient subway (and you should: a single ticket costs $1. Just before a train arrives in the station, a merry little fanfare plays. You enter the clean, comfortable carriage with a smile. Less than 60 years ago, this was a flattened battleground. In 1953, an armistice halted the war that divided the nation and it still, technically, continues. Since then, South Korea’s capital has mushroomed into a 10-million strong metropolis, the core of a wider conurbation double that size. Just a few kilometres beyond Seoul, meanwhile, North Korea under its new leader Kim Jong-un still languishes in nuclear-armed poverty. Although many seem to care little about the unification question, trippers flock to the Demilitarised Zone to gaze through telescopes at their deprived neighbour at the Odusan Unification Observatory – surely one of the world’s weirdest tourist spots.

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This year, the country’s per-capita GDP will surpass the EU average of around US$30,000: an astonishing ascent. Given that breakneck growth, veterans of other Asian urban giants might expect to find in Seoul a smogchoked, high-rise hell of neon and concrete grey. And, if you want outlandish skyscrapers, swish retail complexes and nocturnal dazzle, the city will satisfy big-time. For a splash of glitz, try the pedestrian streets around Myeongdong, where Japanese tourists on shopping trips snap up designer labels beneath corporate HQs. To glimpse this tigerish Seoul at its proudest, take the cable car up Namsan (‘southern mountain’) at night, with an electric rainbow of signage spread below. Even that short trip will show you why Seoul feels different from its counterparts elsewhere. Namsan rises on its green tuft abruptly for 260 metres, right from the heart of the capital. On a hilltop viewing platform, hundreds of couples have attached padlocks to the railings as a token of undying love. Having savoured this inner-city idyll (which comes with obligatory fast-food outlets and even a teddybear store), you may descend again through trees into the metropolitan hubbub on an emission-free electric bus. Seoul feels cleaner, and greener, than many eastAsian rivals. Through autumn or spring, you may breathe freely and walk briskly – humid July or August would tell another story, which is why the 1988 Olympics were deferred until late September. Some enlightened urban planning has – belatedly, perhaps – begun to mitigate the effects of the growth spurt: in the cleaned-up and now fishable Cheonggyecheon urban waterway, lined with paths and plants, that cuts through the heart of downtown, or in the cycle tracks that run along the broad Hangang – Seoul’s Thames or Seine. You can hire bikes for a riverside spin, stop for a snack at one of the cafés at the ends of bridges. Hilly parks dot the suburbs south of the Hangang, the preserve of Seoul’s richer half. But it’s in the north-of-the river quarters, where most visitors congregate, that the paradoxical pleasures of ‘green Seoul’ can be most easily enjoyed. Immediately north of the business and consumer hub, wooded mountains topped with rocky outcrops soar into the sky, a dream-like landscape transplanted from some antique scroll. Wild and dramatic scenery rears over the hooting, throbbing centre: rare in any sprawling city but, in booming Asia, surely unique. Between the skyscrapers and mountainsides lies the green oasis of the palace district. Of the six royal residences, Gyeongbokgung is the largest and most varied, Changdeokgung is the most sumptuously designed and Changgyeonggung is, perhaps, the most peaceful. Here, in the far-flung estates of the Joseon monarchs – first constructed in the 15th and 16th centuries, now


SEOUL | SOUTH KOREA

‘Wild and dramatic scenery rears over the hooting, throbbing centre: rare in any sprawling city but, in booming Asia, surely unique’

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 61


62 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


SEOUL | SOUTH KOREA

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock Text: Boyd Tonkin / The Independent / The Interview People

Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Statue of the King; Korea’s neon signs; Marbled beef; A local chef makes noodles. This page: Royal guards at Gyeongbokgung Palace.

immaculately restored – finely carved audience halls and living quarters, temples and pavilions, nestle amid gardens landscaped with a painter’s eye. In autumn, as the leaves turn to a dozen reds and golds, take the Secret Garden tour at Changdeokgung and you will feel like you’ve slipped into the decoration on a screen, or the pattern on a plate. Among the stars in this arboricultural heaven are ancient Chinese scholar and gooseberry trees, and venerable mulberries. One juniper dates back to 1250. The Bukchon neighbourhood, squeezed between a couple of palace compounds, is an urban village noted for its one-storey hanok houses, each built around a small courtyard. Its survival, across the road from the downtown frenzy, shows not only that many citizens of Seoul seek to preserve tradition in the face of galloping development, but that they can wield enough civic muscle to prevail. Thanks to a long campaign by residents, Bukchon remains a delightful low-rise warren for wandering in narrow lanes, eating at Korean restaurants (shoes off, legs crossed) and browsing in the art galleries that have sprung up across the area. It also offers quiet homestay accommodation in hanoks. For the equivalent of about $33 per night, I unrolled a mat on the floor, a stone’s throw from the Changdeokgung palace walls. At the western edge of Bukchon, tree-lined Samcheongdonggil rises past galleries and cafés. Stop along the way, with the city’s trend-surfers, for a good coffee or a glass of wine (pricey, like everywhere in Asia). Then head into Samcheong Park, which is steep and forested and serves as a kind of taster for the Bugaksan and Inwangsan mountains, both of which peer down into the city from 350-metre peaks. A little further north, for stalwart hikers, lie the trails of the Bukhansan National Park, which showcases perfectly how spectacular, and special, Seoul’s highland hinterland is. With more huffing and puffing than one might wish for after ambling through an arty quarter, I climbed through the trees to Prospect Point and looked down over the high-rise city. In the shadow of towers of corporate power, the curved, carved roofs of Gyeongbokgung recalled an era of less frenetic, if riskier, authority. At twilight on a day of gazebos, gardens and forests, I felt I could adopt the lifestyle of a Joseon-era aristocrat. After all (don’t laugh) I have the photos to prove it.

‘To glimpse this tigerish Seoul at its proudest, take the cable car up Namsan at night, with an electric rainbow of signage spread below’

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 63


KATHMANDU

Embark on a journey of discovery in Nepal Day 01: Upon arrival in Kathmandu, meeting & assistance at the airport then transfer to hotel. Overnight stay at hotel. Day 02: Breakfast at Hotel. Morning: Half-day sightseeing tour of Kathmandu City + Swayambhunath. Afternoon: Half-day sightseeing tour of Patan City. Overnight stay at hotel. Day 03: Breakfast at Hotel. Morning: Half-day sightseeing tour of Pashupatinath + Bodhnath. Afternoon: Half-day sightseeing tour of Bhadgaon. Overnight stay at hotel. Day 04: Breakfast at hotel.Normal check-out time of hotel is noon. Transfer to airport for flight to onward destination. Basis Hotel Hyatt Regency (5*) using Guest Room/Kathmandu - Basis Hotel Himalaya (4*)/Kathmandu

VALIDITY : JAN-SEP’12

BASIS HYATT

BASIS HIMALAYA

01 PAX

USD 715.00

USD 577.00

SINGLE ROOM

02 PAX

USD 410.00

USD 355.00

PER PERSON IN SHARING TWIN

03 PAX

USD 375.00

USD 320.00

PER PERSON IN SHARING TWIN

04-09 PAX

USD 375.00

USD 315.00

PER PERSON IN SHARING TWINS

SINGLE SUPPLEMENT

USD 196.00

USD 120.00

PER PERSON

ADULT WITH EXTRA BED

USD 267.00

USD 305.00

PER EXTRA BED PER ADULT

CHILD (below 12 years) with Extra Bed

USD 266.00

USD 245.00

PER EXTRA BED PER CHILD

The above costs will include the following services:- 03 night’s accommodation. At respective hotels mentioned above in Kathmandu on bed and breakfast basis. - Necessary arrival & departure transfers. - Half-day sightseeing tours to include: (a) Kathmandu City + Swayambhunath (b) Patan City (c) Pashupatinath + Bodhnath (d) Bhadgaon. - Applicable entrance fees of the above sightseeing places (but subject to change without prior notice, if revised). - An ac-vehicle will be provided. - An English-speaking guide will be provided during sightseeing tours. Kindly note that we have not included cost of breakfast for child (below 6 years) sharing parent’s bed without extra bed. In this regard, we would suggest guests to settle the cost of breakfast with the hotels directly as per the consumption basis. However, we shall offer complimentary transfers, sightseeing tours, applicable entrance fees for child (below 6 years) sharing parent’s bed without extra bed. The above prices are subject to availability at the time of reservation and valid until 12 September 2012. Kanoo Holidays terms and conditions apply. E Mail- holiday1/3/4/8@kanoo.ae For more information call or contact any Kanoo Travel or Kanoo Holidays office. 12

Kanoo World Traveller May 2011


CONCIERGE

MAURITIUS | BERLIN | ROME | SOUTH AFRICA

THE 30-SECOND CONCIERGE

SUNIL BEERBUL, LE TOUESSROK, MAURITIUS How would you describe the look and style of Le Touessrok? Set on Trou d’Eau Douce bay, with two private islands and a two-kilometre long entrance road, the hotel is unique. Suites have unimpeded sea views while the resort retains the easy-going atmosphere of a Mediterranean village with Mauritian touches, like thatched roofs and dark volcanic stone. How can I best spend my days here? I often advise guests to enjoy a private breakfast on their terrace, overlooking the lagoon, then escape to Ilot Mangénie, the Robinson Crusoelike exclusive island retreat of the hotel and enjoy fresh catch of the day, before returning to the pampering heaven of Le Touessrok’s Givenchy Spa. I want to spare no expense – which suite would you recommend? One of our three exclusive villas: three rooms, a swimming pool, flower-filled garden, direct beach access and separate entrance. Each villa is attended by dedicated household staff who will pander to you 24 hours.

I’d like to step off the island, where could I venture to? Go out for a day, accompanied by a guide, to discover the spirit of Mauritius at Port Louis, our capital city. It’s a melting pot of cultures and you can discover unique spots, like the traditional ‘Bazaar’ – the central market with its vegetable sellers and spice stalls. Have lunch at Eureka, one of the best known traditional Creole houses in Mauritius and end at the top of Trou aux Cerfs, the crater of an extinct volcano, for 360-degree views of the island. It’s dinnertime – where would you recommend I dine? At Le Touessrok, go to Safran – an intimate, open-air Indian restaurant with mother-of-pearl details in the lounge and tandoori ovens. I recommend a Manglorian Prawn Curry served with freshly-made naans. If you want to dine out, go to Le Café des Arts, a very exclusive restaurant open to a select few – like guests of Le Touessrok. Ask for the owner to prepare his ‘Capitaine’ (a local fish) in salt crust, accompanied by one of his private bottles of grape. letouessrokresort.com

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 65


VISIT

ROME If you only choose one place to visit this Spring, make it Rome. Rob Orchard gives us ten reasons to fall in love with the Eternal City...

This page, clockwise from top left: Campo dei Fiori market; Coliseum; Trevi fountain; Dish from Le Jardin du Russie. Opposite page: Nijinsky Library, Hotel de Russie.

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o artist or poet could ever do justice to the glories of Rome – although that hasn’t stopped them trying for the last 3,000 years or so. This cradle of European culture is bathed in ancient history and tradition, filled with crumbling reminders of its past and animated by a passionate people who Vespa their way 66 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

round its grand boulevards and creaky sidestreets with cheerful insouciance. The French may have invented the term ‘joie de vivre’, but it’s the Romans who show us what it means – a stylish people who dress beautifully, eat well, rejoice in the al fresco cafès which line the streets, and who are fiercely proud of their home town.


CITY GUIDE | ROME

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ROME’S BEST... PLACES YOU’VE SEEN IN THE MOVIES

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The Bocca della Verità A marble carving of a face which

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supposedly works as a lie detector: as made famous by Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck in ‘Roman Holiday’ Piazza Navona As seen in Anthony Mingella’s The Talented Mr. Ripley – watch out for the scene where Philip Seymour Hoffman screeches up in his sports car. The Trevi Fountain One of the shining stars of Fellini’s classic movie ‘La Dolce Vita’.

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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Supplied.

MUST-DOS The Colosseum (1) Yes it’s a cliché and yes, if you come here at certain times of day you may be trampled by coachloads of tourists (hint: avoid the 11am-3pm period), but no trip to Rome is complete without a neck-straining hour or so spent wandering round this extraordinary, 2,000-year-old amphitheatre. The Forum (2) is equally touristy but equally glorious; a cobble-lined set of ruins which you can be shown round by any number of cluedup, good-value, anglophone guides who hang about by the entrance. Once you’ve taken the tour and asked all your emperor-, senator- and gladiator-related questions, pop next door to the Vittorio Emanuele II monument, where you can zoom up in the Sky Elevator to get a unique view of the Forum from above. Campo dei Fiori (3) is Rome’s best outdoor market and the sort of place that makes you want to quit your home country and apply for Italian citizenship. It’s filled with gourmet foods – and in Italy that means it’s an intoxicatingly pungent, enticing place where you can wander around picking up superb cheeses, fresh meats, achingly ripe tomatoes, just-cooked breads, high-octane olive oils and more. Ideal for stocking

up before a picnic by the Trevi Fountain. Gelaterias (4) is one dish that the Romans truly excel at – aka ice cream. The city’s streets are studded with gelaterias serving whippedup mounds of wondrously rich frozen treats: particular favourites include Caffè Giolitti on Via Uffici del Vicario and Tre Scalini on Piazza Navona (don’t miss out on their gorgeous cherry-stuffed tartufo ice cream). Galleria Borghese (5) is housed in an exquisite, 300-year-old villa. It’s a pleasingly manageable size – there are just a score of rooms, but they take you through every major era and movement in Italian art, with particularly good exhibits in the Baroque and Renaissance periods. One extra plus point to this place is that you have to make a reservation in advance in order to visit, which means that numbers are controlled and you never feel overcrowded by fellow visitors. Via del Governo Vecchio (6) is a lovely pedestrian street where you could squint and feel like you’re back in the 18th century, the Via del Governo Vecchio is also pleasingly well stocked with boutiques – the place to get that perfect souvenir of your trip.

who know a thing or two about creating luxury hangouts – and, while it’s far from a cheap option, if you’re looking to spoil yourself, you won’t find anywhere better in the city. The hotel is built around a large garden, an oasis of tranquility where guests go to take a breather between sightseeing forays.

St Regis Grand Rome (8) (starwoodhotels.com) is garlanded with international awards and benefited from a $35 million upgrade just a couple of years ago. Check in to find rooms kitted out in Louis XV, Empire and Regency styles, while outside you’re just a short saunter away from the Via Veneto, the grand Piazza Navona and the Spanish Steps.

WHERE TO EAT Il Pagliaccio (9) (ristoranteilpagliaccio.com) in the historic centre offers a full-on gourmet experience. The food is a mix of the best of Italian with some international influences – like snapper with turnip, lemon and black rice – followed by Rome’s finest desserts (hint: try the white chocolate cup with banana granita). Antico Arco (10) (anticoarco. it) is a good value, welcoming slow-food spot that’s just the sort of place to settle into for a long, lazy evening. You can’t go wrong with anything on the elegant menu, but we’d urge you towards the the onion pie with aged parmesan cheese fondue. Just superb.

WHERE TO STAY De Russie (7) (roccofortehotels. com) is run by Rocco Forte – February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 67


VISIT

BERLIN Don’t expect to be wowed by Berlin’s beauty, says Jessica Parry, but prepare to be seduced by this gritty city’s soul, vigour and creativity...

B

erlin has been through more upheaval in its last century than most cities experience in a millenium. It has been razed to the ground and built up from scratch, divided down the middle and washed over by a dozen different architectural movements including Nazi and Communist. In recent years, it has become a magnet for artists, entrepreneurs, boho types and immigrants, drawn to the infectious energy and boundless opportunities of Germany’s economic powerhouse. It is also, increasingly, bringing in tourists on the hunt for a different side of Germany to the chocolate box towns and alpine vistas of Bavaria. Berlin is a vast city with a million things to do – here’s our pick of the best.. 68 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

MUST-DOS The Reichstag (1), the German parliament building, is the ideal place to get your bearings. Head up on the roof, a Norman Fosterdesigned glass masterpiece, where you can get an eagle’s eye view over the whole of Berlin. The Berlin Wall (2) now has just a few stretches of bricks remaining. The most intriguing is The East Side Gallery (eastsidegallery.com), a 1.3 kilometre section that’s covered in street art, some dating back decades, some painted more recently by international artists in a celebration of freedom. Museum Island (3) will make dedicated culture vultures beam:

five of Berlin’s most exciting museums are all in this area, grouped close together at one end of the Unter den Linden. Make time for the Bode Museum (amazing old coins and exquisite sculptures), Pergamonmuseum (Babylonian treasures), the Neues Museum (Egyptian art including a world-famous bust of Nefertiti), the Altes Museum (Ancient Greek and Roman artefacts) and the Alte Nationalgalerie (superb 19thcentury artworks. KaDeWe (4) is a landmark department store (formerly known as Kaufhaus des Westens) that stretches back to 1905. This is a place for serious shoppers, who mention


it in the same breath as Liberty in London and Printemps in Paris. The Artist’s Quarter (5) draws regular comparison’s with London’s boho Shoreditch district and is lined with endless small galleries. Take a stroll and you’ll find dozens of intriguing places to stop off, admire some artworks, and talk to the artists themselves. The DDR museum (6) (ddr-museum.de) is the place to get an eye-opening glimpse into what life was like in communist East Berlin during the soviet era. In fact, it can’t be beaten; hands-on exploration is encouraged, so you can get to grips with amazing old products from the former regime, sit inside an iconic Trabant car and watch TV from the era.

WHERE TO STAY Hotel Adlon (7) (kempinski.

WHERE TO EAT Fischers Fritz (9)

com) is our pick if you’re in the mood for serious luxury. The grandest old hotel in the city, it’s located right by the Brandenburg Gate and is where the great and the good stay when they’re in Berlin – expect open fires in the richly-appointed rooms, polished service and exquisite views as well as Berlin’s best spa.

(fischersfritzberlin.com) is a two Michelin-starred restaurant on Charlottenstrasse that gives lie to the idea that German food is always meat-focused. Here you can indulge in superb seafood dishes in an elegant, low-lit dining room: we can highly recommend the sea bass cassoulet and the smoked eel tartare with Granny Smith apples and horseradish: outstanding. Reinstoff (10) (reinstoff.eu) is located in a converted factory, an ultra-sleek spot that dreams up imaginative, experimental dishes that gourmets rave about – the likes of wild duck served with creamed oats and poppy seed crumble, to name but one.

Propeller Island City Lodge (8) (propeller-island.com) brings something a little more left field – well alright, a lot more left field. Itsindividually-decorated rooms have extremely unusual themes – you can stay in one where the furniture has been welded to the ceiling, or where the bed floats in mid air. Lots of fun.

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Images: Shutterstock; Photolibrary; Supplied.

HANSAVIERTEL

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BERLIN’S... BEST MARKETS The Türkischer Markt A lovely market on Maybachufer Strasse which is devoted to all things Turkish, selling wonderful food and handicrafts to an appreciative audience every Tuesday and Friday.

The Trödelmarkt Arkonaplatz The perfect place for picking up vintage clothes and retro items like old East German radios and memorabilia. Great fun for browsing.

The Trödelmarkt am Rathaus Schöneberg You may recognise this place from photos – it’s where JFK made his ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech. In reality, it’s a laidback fleamarket simply stuffed with bargains, where haggling is an essential part of the process.

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Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Hotel Aldon; Berlin Wall; Altes Museum on Museum Island; Local cafe. This page, from left to right: Reichstag interior and Reichstag exterior.

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February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 69


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British Airways & Qantas Abu Obeidah Avenue Manama +973 1 722 9614 +973 1 757 6970 britishairways1@ybakanoo. net +973 1 758 7777

Kanoo Travel Refinery Sitra +973 1 775 2887 kanoo_travel@babpco.net +973 1 775 5012 Kanoo Travel Airport Muharraq +973 1 732 1909 ktairprt@batelco.com.bh +973 1 732 1325 Egypt Air Shaikh Isa Avenue Gudaibya +973 1 724 0171 salesms@batelco.com.bh/ rsvnms@batelco.com.bh +973 1 724 3317 Lufthansa Airline Center Mahooz +973 1 782 7742 +973 1 782 8763 Air India Abu Obeidah Avenue Manama +973 1 721 4898 +973 1 722 0788

EGYPT Amex 33 Nabil El Waqqad St. Ard El Golf – Heliopolis Cairo +202 2 290 9157 amex.heliopolis@ amexfranchise.com +202 2 418 2144/+202 2 418 3222 Amex 15 St. Kasr El Nile - Cairo Down Town – Kasr El Nile Cairo +202 2 574 7997 amex.kasrelnil@ amexfranchise.com 002 02 2574 7991/2/3

Cairo clubmed@amex franchise.com +202 2 574 7991 - +2 418 2144/5 – 2 751 3910 Amex 14 May Str. Sayadlia Building - Alexandria Alexandria +203 4 241 020 amex.alex@ amexfranchise.com +203 424 1050 Amex Mashrabia Mall, Sharm Elysee St. El Hadaba – Oposite to Meracto Sharm El Shiek +2 069 366 6193 amex.sharm@ amexfranchise.com +2 069 366 6192 Amex Abtal El Tahrir St. Corniche El Nile Aswan +2 097 230 2909 aswan@amex franchise.com +2 097 230 6983 Amex Winter Palace hotel Luxor +2 095 237 2862 luxor@amex franchise.com +2 095 237 8333 FRANCE Bureau de Change Kanoo 11 rue Scribe, 75009 Paris +33 1 5330 9878 parisscribe.france@ kanoofes.com +33 1 5330 9900

Amex 1 wahib Doss Str. Office No 9 - Maadi Cairo +202 2 751 3732 amex.maadi@ amexfranchise.com +202 2 751 3930/10

Bureau de Change Kanoo 11 cours de l’Intendance, 33000 Bordeaux +33 5 5600 6339 bordeaux.france@ kanoofes.com +33 5 5600 6333 /+33 5 5600 6336

Amex Club Med Reservation Desk

Bureau de Change Kanoo Printemps Department Store, 64 Boulevard

70 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Haussmann 75009 Paris +33 1 4282 4092 parisprintemps.france@ kanoofes.com +33 1 4282 4181 /+33 1 4282 4108

Jeddah +966 2 668 0303

WESTERN PROVINCE

Air India Kanoo Center Jeddah +966 2 263 3005

OMAN

Singapore Airlines Kanoo Center Jeddah +966 2 657 9911

Kanoo Corporate 5th Floor Mohmediya Plaza Jeddah +966 2 653 9298 +966 2 653 9200 Jeddah

Kanoo Travel PC 114 Muscat +968 24700317 info@kanootravel.com +968 24700249 QATAR

Srilankan Airlines Kanoo Center Jeddah +966 2 263 2999

Qatar Kanoo Travel Ras Laffan Commercial Complex Ras Laffan +974 474 8775 info@kanoo–qatar.com +974 474 8772

Air Canada Kanoo Center Jeddah +966 2 263 2996

Qatar Kanoo Travel Salam Tower Doha +974 483 3714 info@kanoo–qatar.com +974 440 16333

Kanoo Travel Dammam 31411 Dammam +966 3 835 5670 +966 3 835 5642

Qatar Kanoo Corporate Mansour Al Mouleh Building, Old Al Salata Doha +974 431 3374 info@kanoo–qatar.com +974 448 3777

Kanoo Travel Office 2 - Dammam 31411 Dammam +966 3 833 3128 +966 3 832 2006

Qatar Kanoo Travel Old Al Hitmi Street Museum Street Doha +974 4371088 info@kanoo–qatar.com +974 4413441 SAUDI ARABIA WESTERN PROVINCE Kanoo Travel Medina Road Jeddah +966 2 263 3040 Kanoo Travel Prince Sulthan Street Gizan +966 7 317 4285 Gulf Air Kanoo Center

EASTERN PROVINCE

Kanoo Travel Al Khobar 31952 Al Khobar +966 3 895 0222 +966 3 864 7471 CENTRAL PROVINCE Kanoo Travel Riyadh +966 1 477 2228/331 Qantas Kanoo Tower Riyadh +966 1 463 4454 Air India Kanoo Tower Riyadh +966 1 833 9793 Kanoo Travel Sharjah Street Al Hotah +966 1 555 0304

Kanoo Holidays Kanoo Center Jeddah +966 2 263 2959 Ex 199 Kanoo Travel King Abdul Aziz Street, Al Bahr, Yanbu +966 4 391 2508 +966 4 322 1087 Kanoo Travel Tabuk Garden Village Compound Tabuk +966 4 428 1746 +966 4 428 1020 Kanoo Travel Ummal Qura Street Makkah +966 2 545 8263 +966 2 548 0646 Kanoo Travel Abboobakker Siddik St Medina +966 4 824 1028 +966 4 822 4240 Kanoo Travel Jamjoom Building Jeddah +966 2 643 2287 +966 2 643 4209 Kanoo Travel Beside Pizaa Hut, Al Jaish Street Taif +966 2 736 4372 +966 2 736 4211 Kanoo Travel Khamis Mushayat Khamis +966 7 222 3608 +966 7 222 3624 Kanoo Travel Opp.Rabigh Prison Main Road, Rabigh +4232807 +4232785


WIN A GRAND STAY FOR TWO AT ROCCO FORTE HOTEL ABU DHABI You’ll need your sunglasses on arrival to Rocco Forte Hotels’ newest venue; the gleaming high-rise is a show of glass, from top-to-toe. Get past its curved exterior and you’ll be met with equally slick interiors, from lavish furnishings to local artworks. Each of its 281 bedrooms, meanwhile, sport mod cons and luxurious marble bathrooms. Elsewhere, the in-house Spa is well worth a visit for its superb treatments, while the hotel’s three eateries (Oceana Grill, Oro and Rouge) and two lounges (Noche and Blue) will leave you spoilt for choice on how to spend your evening – make time for a beverage in Blue, which appears to float in the hotel’s 11-storey glass atrium. Magical.

THE PRIZE A one-night weekend stay in a Grand Suite with breakfast and dinner. To be in with a chance to win, email your answer to this question to easywin@ hotmediapublishing.com before February 29, 2012.

Q. What is the name of Rocco Forte Hotel Abu Dhabi’s ‘floating’ lounge? a) Blue b) Red c) Green TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prize must be taken on a weekend. Prize to be claimed within six months of issue. Dates subject to availability.

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

887 0128 +966 3 849 1823/+966 3 849 1824 U.A.E KT Fujeirah Sea Port Fujeirah +971 9 228 2298 ktfuj@eim.ae +971 9 228 2295

Kanoo Travel Dammam 31411 Qatif +966 3 851 4001 +966 3 851 4300

KT Sharjah Rolla Street Sharjah +971 6 561 8655 trvlshjmgr@kanoo.ae +971 6 561 6058

Kanoo Travel Hofuf 31982 +966 3 586 4155 +966 3 586 3823

KT Corporate Corporate Office Dubai +971 4 392 0240 ktdxb3@kanoo.ae

Kanoo Travel King Fahd Int'l Airport Dammam +966 3 883 7490 +966 3 883 2660

KT Dubai Internet City Dubai Internet City no.12 (Oracle Bldg) Dubai +971 4 390 8671 ktadic2@emirates.net.ae +971 4 390 1990 - 994

Kanoo Travel Kanoo Airline Center Al Khobar

KT Karama Holidays

Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Dubai +971 4 334 7944 holidaysmgruae@ kanoo.ae +971 4 334 1444 KT Jebel Ali LOB 16 Ground floor Jebel Ali Free Zone Dubai +971 4 881 6095 ktajbfz@emirates.net.ae +971 4 881 5050/8816350 KT Bur Dubai Khalid Bin Walid Street Bur Dubai Dubai +971 4 393 1545 ktdxb7@kanoo.ae +971 4 507 2467 KT Burj Burj Dubai Business Centre, Bldg no. 1, Ground floor Dubai +971 4 365 3268 Ktdxb10@kanoo.ae +971 50553 9431 KT Al Ain Emirates Commercial Complex Khalifa Street, Al Ain

+971 3 764 4811 sales1@kanoomussafa.ae

Edinburgh +44 13 1718 2505

M1 1PX +44 161 833 7301

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

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

Kanoo Travel 2 Victoria Street, Nottingham NG1 2EX

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

Kanoo Travel 38-40 High Street, Guildford GU1 3EL +44 14 8355 1605

+44 115 924 7705 Kanoo Travel 20 Charles Street, Sheffield, S1 1GW +44 114 263 9305

Kanoo Travel 30-31 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4EX +44 20 7484 9688

Kanoo Travel 99 Above Bar, Southampton, SO14 7FG +44 23 807 16805

Kanoo Travel 78 Brompton Road, London, SW3 1ER Knightsbridge +44 207 761 7905

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

Kanoo Travel 2-4 High Street Croydon CR0 1YA +44 2 08 256 0805

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

Kanoo Travel 69 George Street, Edinburgh, EH2 2JG

Kanoo Travel St. Mary’s Gate, Manchester

February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 71


SUITE DREAMS

SHAMBALA PRIVATE GAME RESERVE

Stepping into a honeycomb-shaped suite is an experience in itself: sat by the water’s edge in South Africa’s Zulu Camp, the traditional, bulbous structure serves as a fairytale-like abode in which to rest your head after a sun-soaked day in the bush (the elephant safaris here are a magical way to behold the mighty, grey giants in all their glory). Inside it’s a picture of Afro-French Provincial style, blossoming in inchesthick duvets, luxe wooden finishes and cosy trimmings (fluffy slippers and robes in the bathrooms, cushioned chairs on the deck, chocolates on the bed). But its standout feature has to be its mammoth outdoor shower where you can let the fresh air rush over you while you bathe. And if this nest-like dwelling looks at one with its surrounds, that’s because it truly is: no fence separates you and the wilderness, making the views (and sounds) authentically African. Is it any wonder ‘Shambala’ translates to ‘Paradise on Earth’? ttc.ae / shambalagamereserve.com 72 February 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


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The Middle East’s highest-circulating travel magazine

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The Middle East’s highest-circulating travel magazine

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