THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE
Produced in International Media Production Zone
Why isolation is sweet in the rugged north
trips to top your travel list in 2013
of West Africa’s smallest strip...
Gambia Discover the hidden beauty
A rlt we on ek ’s en Sh d ar at q Vi the lla R ge itz & Sp a
Mike Unwin unearths family fun in Costa Rica
Kanoo World Traveller
Welcome to the issue
As we enter a New Year, we wish all of our readers a happy and prosperous 2013. I take this opportunity to also thank our loyal customers, business partners and our own associates for their hard work and support throughout 2012, and hope we continue to work together in the future. Our objectives for 2013 are simple: my team and I will make every attempt at improving our service delivery, increasing the range of products and services to our customers, and investing in online technology to offer greater access to a world of new travel experiences. The recent launch of our new Corporate Contact Centre in Dubai and the introduction of the Business Travel Account (BTA) with American Express Cards for the first time in this region are examples of our passion to innovate and offer state-of-the-art travel management solutions to our valued customers. In this monthâ€™s issue we highlight the must-see destinations of 2013 in Check In, while our globe trotting writers travel to five far-flung destinations and encounter everything from zip-lining down volcanoes in Costa Rica to beholding natural beauty in Iceland. Plus, for those planning city trips, we show you the best attractions of Rome and Perth. I wish our readers a pleasant January! nabeel Kanoo Director Kanoo Travel
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 1
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KaNOO WOrld TravEllEr JANUARY 2013
CONTENTS TRAVEl biTES 05 check in
We look at the must-see spots of 2013, and take a trip down memory lane with New York’s Pierre hotel
Win a break in Qatar at the RitzCarlton’s luxe Sharq Village & Spa resort
18 Where to stay
Head to Dublin for trendy boltholes and old school glamour too
28 picture this
More eye-catching places to take you places you’ve never seen before...
66 Visit: perth
For sun, sea, adventure and so much more, head west, says Hazel Plush
68 Visit: rome
KWT heads to the Eternal City for a heavy helping of history
72 suite dreams
Glamour (and glistening views) are a guarantee at Dubai’s Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah
FEATURES 33 grand canyon Why winter is actually the best time to behold this USA spectacle...
38 iceland Simon Calder heads north to see find raw natural beauty abound
46 costa rica
Zip-lining down volcanoes, rafting, poisonous frogs and furry anteaters – Mike Urwin goes wild in Central America
54 gambia Oliver West puts preconceptions aside in Africa’s tiniest western strip
How the holiday haunt has shed its low budget image to charming effect
Woman riding horse along beach, Africa. Diego Lezama, Getty Images.
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January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 3
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BE INformEd, BE INspIrEd, BE tHErE
Must-see countries 2013
KWT profiles the destinations all discerning travellers should add to their travel tick list for the year ahead… montenegro
Best for… raw natural beauty
Best for… culture vultures
Best for… avoiding the tourist trap
Montenegro (pictured) is making the most of its bountiful natural beauty: the Bay of Kotor is utterly jaw-dropping, the beaches along its riviera a pleasure to lounge upon, its plentiful national parks a sight to behold, and its rugged mountains – which loom over ice-clear lakes, sweeping valleys and pictureperfect villages – are ripe for exploring (so pack your walking boots). Such beauteous draws have cued developers to take note, and now luxury-seekers can enjoy its splendours from the comfort of coastal resorts, like the stunning Sveti Stefan or the yacht marina Porto Montenegro.
This year it’s happy 20th birthday Slovakia, marking two decades since it split up from its Czech neighbour – a separation that saw it join the EU, spur its economy and prompt a revamp too: travellers can now banish thoughts of package deals and stag dos and make instead for the evolving Bratislava capital for spruced-up snow sports and action-packed activities, like wolf tracking in the mountains. Kosice, meanwhile, shares the 2013 European Capital of Culture title with Marseille – so you can expect an arts and culture line-up chockablock with film and folk music, and art and craft festivals.
It’s hardly a secret location, yet the crowds are yet to descend on Iceland – which is why our advice is to make for the magical land before tourists do cotton on to its myriad delights (as KWT’s Simon Calder does this issue in Wonder World, page 38). Think enchanting landscapes, sloping volcanoes, lush greenery, coloured sands and ink-blue waters (the Westfjords region’s bays are even dotted with whales). Such verdant scenery also makes for happy gourmands – the verdant land and clear water enables firstrate meat and fish to be delivered onto local restaurants’ plates. Delicious. January 2013 Kanoo World traveller 5
Best for… a room with a view Wildlife was the first thing to draw travellers to admire Ecuador’s South American charms – and this year you can make the most of the wilderness from the comfort of some seriously luxe lodges – Mashpi Lodge being a case in point (its boutique Amazon expedition will have you whizzing through the jungle on a treetop gondola). For a longer look at the country, its rail system is the way to go – 2013 will see a $250million overhaul of its network, which was devastated in floods over a decade ago. When complete, it will take travellers between cosmopolitan Quito and the port of Guayaquil, and claim the Western world’s steepest stretch of railway – between volcano Cotopaxi and the Andes’ Devil’s Nose. Spectacular views are guaranteed.
Best for… a fresh perspective Ok, so you may have been to Turkey before, but June 2013’s Mediterranean Games (and the stranger-sounding Kirkpinar Oil Wrestling Festival in Edirne) have made us think it’s worth a second look. This year, leave behind the more familiar environs of Istanbul or Turkey’s muchpublicised beach resorts (sun, sea, sand, you get the idea…) and get to the heart of the country’s culture with a gastronomic getaway. Eastern region cuisine has seen a surge in popularity in the capital, so our advice is to eat it at its place of origin – the Van Kahvalti Evi in suburban Cihangir, for instance, which rustles up the likes of herb-studded cheeses, kaymak (clotted cream) with honey and delicious menemen (scrambled eggs).
dominican republic Best for… new-wave luxury 2012 saw an 8.4% rise in tourism for the cool and colourful environs of the Dominican Republic – and hotels have been quick to catch on with new openings scheduled across 2013. Head there while it’s not overcrowded and you’ll be able to see firsthand what all the fuss is about: dance salsa, go rafting on the Caribbean’s only raftable river; swim up Damajagua’s 27 waterfalls; bask in its pictureperfect coastlines, not to mention catching the sun (with a local tipple in hand) beneath its tropical sun. It’s heaven sent for those after beach breaks with a difference. 6 January 2013 Kanoo World traveller
south Korea Best for… an alternative city break Famed for its sky-reaching towers, traffic and hubbub, South Korea has all the ingredients of a great Asian city. But what not everyone knows is that it’s also bursting with activities – which is no doubt why it was chosen to host this year’s Special Olympics Winter Games, Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games and the World Rowing Championship. It’s a fact that means its other side won’t stay secret for long – thrill-seekers, then, are advised to go quickly to enjoy first-rate golfing (it’s home to over 100 golf courses, some designed by the likes of Jack Nicklaus), fly fishing and hiking before the hoards arrive.
Cast your eyes on Le Méridien Mina Seyahi’s new look...
Fans of Mina Seyahi may have been disappointed by its February 2012 closure for a refurbishment – but the good news is that you can reap its decorative results: the popular Dubai hotel is open with even more stylish décor than before. Guest rooms and public areas have been touched by interior design company BCBG, and General Manager Stewart Selbie assures KWT of its chic results: “The refurbishment of Le Méridien Mina Seyahi infused the interiors with classic chic décor... modern furnishings with subtle purple accents.” And its highlight? “It’s difficult to choose one,” tells Selbie, “from the Royal Club lounge located on the 10th floor with magnificent views, to our guestrooms, which have all been refitted with the guests’ comfort in mind.” Change can also be savoured in the Latest Recipe restaurant, The Hub and Latitude Bar, a trio of new initiatives that will delight social butterflies and gourmands alike. KWT is craving Latest Recipe, where “signature breakfasts by three-star Michelin Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten” are among the culinary highlights. lemeridien-minaseyahi.com
Ones to watch
2013 has hotel openings aplenty up its sleeve, as KWT reveals… There’s sure to be a corner of the globe that beckons your passport this year, starting with Banyan Tree Kerala (banyantree.com), the brand’s first foray into India. But this is no ordinary beach getaway – check into the all-pool-villa resort and you’ll find yourself on the private island of Nediyathuruthu, surrounded by swaying palms and unobstructed views (not to mention top-rate lounges and eateries on site). It’s a first for the Peninsula hotel group too, which eases its usual USA and Asian focus to 8 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
open The Peninsula Paris (peninsula.com). The hotel’s historic building is impressive, its location (steps away from the Champs Elysees) perfect, and inside it promises all-out luxury. The Shangri-La Hotel, At The
Shard, London (shangri-la.com) will make history as it opens a 202-room hotel inside the UK’s latest architectural triumph, one of Europe’s tallest buildings, the distinctive Shard. Plus, for foodies, its ‘food theatre’ café with an array of cooking stations will more than satisfy appetites. Those seeking something new closer to the UAE need look no further than the Conrad Hotel, Dubai (conradhotels.hilton.com). Set off Sheikh Zayed Road, it places guests in a prime spot to soak up its ultra-slick, modern offerings, as well as the best of Dubai’s eateries and shops (the nearby DIFC and Dubai Mall are first-rate). Expect to see the doors open by spring 2013…
new year getaways
This monthâ€™s trio of deals, brought to you by Kanoo Travel and American Express Travel, will blast off the winter blues
magical maldives 3 nights, 4 days From $710 p/p Crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, tropical sun and lashings of luxury make a winter escape to the Maldives unbeatable for 10 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
banishing those post-festive blues. Jet setters can take their pick of a trio of resorts in which to spend a long weekend on a half board basis in a double Garden Villa, including speedboat transfers. Try the four-star Bandos Island Resort and Spa (from $1,079) where youâ€™ll stay on the 178,900 square metre
island, encircled by powderwhite beaches. Or, the Paradise Island Resort Resort & Spa (from $710), a stellar pick for activities on and off land. Alternatively, go for five-star style at the Sheraton Maldives Full Moon Resort (from $1,935) where, as well as water sports galore, the fine dining options are superb.
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golden triangle trip 4 nights, 5 days From $646 p/p For an Indian adventure, take advantage of this chock-full trip. Beginning with a night in Delhi, you’ll take a tour of Old and New Delhi for an authentic insight into the vibrant city which has thrived since the 6th century. Come nightfall you’ll rest up in Agra, before awaking to explore the Red Fort and the exquisite palaces of former Mughal emperors, as well as chances to snap the Taj Mahal – an architectural must-see. Day four takes you to Jaipur, the highlight of which is Unesco World Heritage site Fatehpur Sikri before, on day five, you can explore the Pink City, famed for its colour, forts, palaces, lakes and palaces, in all their glory. A truly memorable way to begin your new year travels.
ceylon tour 5 nights, 6 days From $455 p/p This five-night getaway will allow you to get the very most out of Sri Lanka, from city to tea trails. After landing in the emerald green isle you can make for ancient Colombo for a bout of sightseeing (the bustling fort and Cinnamon Gardens included), and while away your day in the company of gentle grey giants at the Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage (expect to see around 65 roaming around, from newborns to the elderly). A visit to a tea factory will shed light on how the country’s famous Ceylon Tea is brewed, while an overnight stay at a beach hotel in Beruwela will allow you to sample Sri Lanka’s famous waves (surfers and body boarders will love it) – and that’s just a taster. January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 11
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Toast of the Town
Beginning our regular look at some of the world’s most historic hotels, we head to New York where The Pierre, A Taj Hotel, has been a Big Apple landmark since 1930
It was 1929 when Charles Pierre Casalasco joined forces with a group of notable Wall Street investors to create the legendary hotel luxury-seekers have come to know and love: The Pierre. Venture to Midtown Manhattan, 84 years on, and the name is still at the tip of many a New Yorker’s tongue when asked which of the Big Apple’s most revered haunts is best to check in to. Unsurprisingly, back in the tassle-swinging ’20s, the hotel opened amid a whirl of anticipation, the UK Times noted it as an exclusive hotel, “characterized by simplicity and refinement”, while the New York Times was the first of the hungry press to announce its official opening: “Pierre Hotel to rise on Gerry Home site, $15-million building of 41 stories to replace mansion at Fifth Avenue
and 61st Street. Building to have club atmosphere.” And, after five years of planning by Corsican-born Casalasco, the property was full of promise. The appointed architects, Schultze and Weaver, sought inspiration from a French château, creating a Georgian brickand-granite structure for The Pierre that replaced the mansion of one Commodore Elbridge T. Gerry. With an aim to “create the atmosphere of a private club or residence instead of the average hotel atmosphere”, Casalasco and team opened The Pierre’s doors on October 1, 1930. And, like any high-flying New Yorker, he marked the occasion with a glittering gala dinner, with the “father of French chefs”, an 85-year-old Auguste Escoffier as guest chef.
The cream of Big Apple society sauntered through its Central Park doors – at just twoweeks old, The Pierre was the toast of the town. “It is a monument of beauty and one of the most majestic structures in all New York”, a guidebook of the time declared. Few hotels, however grand, though, could survive the Great Depression. Casalasco filed for bankruptcy three years on from its opening. “It will take years to discover whether society will find itself again,” he said at the time. “Society no longer exists. Today it’s ‘How much money have you?’ Yesterday it was ‘Who are you?’” But The Pierre – and Casalasco for that matter – were not to be worn down. The hotel was sold at public auction in 1933, while Casalasco remained as managing director with new management, with a return to glamour ensuring the venue remained upon society’s pedestal: supper dances brought the property to life once again, while topnotch big bands played to the fabulous guests who flocked through its doors. In 1940, the opening of The Café Pierre (this time under the new ownership of oil tycoon John Paul Getty) became the place to see and be seen, frequented by the who’s who of New York society. From there, The Pierre had gained a firm place on the January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 13
Opening page, left to right: As it is now – The Pierre; Newspaper clipping of the grand opening. This page, top to bottom: The Pierre’s TaTa Suite; The Rotunda.
Manhattan map. In 1950, manager Frank Paget was the first hotelier to install radio and TV sets in all guest rooms, while in 1981, the hotel received a $15million makeover under the new management of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. While other hotels were busy practicing the minimalist fashions of the 1990s, a decade that saw bare-faced models staring down on the Big Apple from Calvin Klein billboards, Pierre stuck to its refined roots. 14 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Yet more grandeur was added, with an allnew Italian marble lobby, crown moldings and a Garden Foyer painted to look like a scene from Versailles. In 1999, meanwhile, its Grand Ballroom was revealed – a space that remains a coveted spot for elegant gala dinners and society weddings to this day. The final turn in The Pierre’s story so far took place in 2005 when it made a final move, this time into the hands of the Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces. Known the
world over for its extravagance, Taj had one aim: to restore the property to its “richly deserved grande dame status”. In fact, it trumped any previous attempts at revamps, reopening after a $100million overhaul. When it did, The Pierre boasted renewed guest rooms (including 11 Grand Suites, each with apartment-style quarters and terraces) by James Parker Associates – the team behind the lavish Lake Palace Hotel Udaipur (star of Bond film Octopussy, it’s the picture of extravagance). The first floor bore Le Caprice restaurant, a new lounge Two E, a gracious reception area and restored Grand Ballroom, Cotillion and banquet room, the intricate ceilings of which saw artisans fly in from Portugal to restore and handpaint the historic ceilings in a fresh palette. The hotel’s 80th birthday on October 1 2010 was a prime chance for New Yorkers and luxury travellers alike to survey the ‘Taj touch’. And, still assuming pride of place over Central Park today, the ‘grande dame’ shows no sign of resting on her laurels yet. Check in this year and you can sink your teeth into a taste of Italy, courtesy of its latest addition – legendary restaurateur Sirio Maccioni’s namesake restaurant, Sirio Ristorante New York, which sees Italian Chef Filippo Gozzoli serving up a smorgasbord of treats, from fresh pastas to robust entrées, each inspired by Maccioni’s Tuscan youth. As for what the future holds for The Pierre, we can’t wait to see…
INTRODUCING YOUR NEXT DESTINATION Book your stay at Hilton Doha and experience style and service taken to new heights. Enjoy the waterfront, private beach and inﬁnity pool when staying in any of the 309 guest rooms and suites, all oﬀering breathtaking views across the Arabian Gulf. Indulge in the array of dining options at our six exceptional restaurants and bars including Trader Vic’s. Emerge brighter at eforea:spa at Hilton and stay ﬁt at the state-of-the-art gym facilities by Hilton Fitness by Precor®. For room reservations, please visit hilton.com or call +974 4423 3333
© Hilton Worldwide 2012
Win a weekend in Qatar at the Ritz-Carlton Sharq Village & Spa THE PRIZE A two-night stay for two people in a deluxe room, including breakfast. To enter, email your answer to easywin@ hotmediapublishing.com before January 31, 2013 Q. How many guest rooms does the Sharq Village and Spa have? a) 174 b) 104 c) 75 Terms and conditions: Prior reservation is required, and offer is subject to availability, exclusive of alcoholic beverages and tobacco.
16 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
If you want to brush off the winter blues, we can think of few better places to do so than at the sea-facing resort of Sharq Village & Spa. On arrival, you’ll find the palatial property (home to 174 guest rooms) atop some 350 metres of glistening coastline, which stretches its way around an ancient Arabic bazaar. The result is a luxurious resort in which guests can saunter through maze-like streets, stopping off to enjoy the pleasures of its sublime pools, an authentic al fresco majlis, Qatari bazaar-style Six Senses spa and all manner of treasures available at the village souq. And, when night falls, there are no fewer than six first-rate restaurants in which to whet your appetite – our advice is to tuck into a feast-worthy array of tapas at the recentlyopened Sea Lounge; located on the water’s edge you can listen to the lapping waves as you dine, making for the most memorable of evenings in Doha. ritzcarlton.com
WheRe To STAy...
Heading to Ireland’s historic capital? Sample the best of the Emerald Isle’s warm hospitality in one of these elegant abodes
Hit the street
In for a treat
The Westbury Hotel
Located on the banks of the River Liffey, this chic city bolthole boasts U2’s Bono and The Edge at its helm. Check in to the Penthouse Suite – it commands the top two floors of the cosy abode – where you’ll find a baby grand piano and hot tub among the luxurious treats.
The Gallery, an elegant glassfronted dining area frequented by locals and guests alike, is a prime spot for soaking up Dublin’s sights. Overlooking Grafton Street, you’ll be in the heart of the action – and with over €1 million of Irish art on display, the restaurant’s interior is an equally-impressive sight.
The Westin Dublin
La Stampa Hotel & Spa
Behind this hotel’s lavish 19thcentury facade you’ll find an equally-opulent dining hall and one of Dublin’s most soughtafter spas.
The collection of 19th- and 20th-century art sets this abode apart. Take afternoon tea to sup treats inspired by the daubings on display.
Whether you’re after a tasty pitstop lunch or late night finger food, La Stampa’s Samsara restaurant is a popular hangout for hungry celebs.
This hotel’s Drury Street location puts you within a stone’s throw of the city’s finest boutiques. Dublin Castle and Grafton Street are just a short stroll away too.
18 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
golfing greats KWT rounds up the UAEâ€™s finest greens from which to tee off... January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 21
emirates golf Club dubaigolf.com It’s for good reason that Emirates Golf Club was dubbed the ‘Desert Miracle’ when it opened in 1988 as the first all-grass championship course in the Middle East. The club now plays annual host to the European Tour’s Omega Dubai Desert Classic and Omega Dubai Ladies Masters, and with 36 holes of world-class golf on offer, the club sports two of the city’s finest must-play courses, the Majlis and the Faldo. The latter also happens to be the only 18-hole course in the region to offer night golf. In its 25 years,
22 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
the Majlis course has received numerous accolades, the most recent of which saw it ranked in 2012 by UK’s Golf World magazine as one of the ‘Top 100 Golf Courses in the World’. Head there yourself and you’ll be far from the soaring skyscrapers Dubai is famed for, and inside an oasis of calm. Across its verdant greens sits an iconic clubhouse inspired by a Bedouin tented village, home to a great selection of restaurants and bars, including the award-winning classical French restaurant Le Classique. More casual
dining options include M’s restaurant (expect relaxed ‘MeditArabian’ fare), and Spike Bar, a friendly sports bar with an international menu. At Emirates Golf Club, guests can also visit the Fit Lab and make the most of firstrate leisure and recreation facilities – a stateof-the-art gymnasium, squash and tennis courts and temperature-controlled swimming pool among them. Plus, a range of fitness classes, personal training, physiotherapy and wellness advice – what better place to achieve your fitness goals?
Dubai Creek golf & Yacht Club dubaigolf.com Rolling fairways flanked by swaying date palms and coconut trees give Dubai Creek Golf & Yacht Club an air of the exotic. The par 71 golf course is the star of the show, stretching across 6,857 yards. So spectacular in fact that it scooped an array of accolades including ‘Best Hole in the Middle East’, ‘18th hole’ (2011 Middle East Golfer awards) and ‘Best Sporting Club’ in Dubai (Ahlan! Best in Dubai 2012 awards). Once on course, golfers can make the most of remodelled tees,
greens and topography on its back nine holes, and a newly-revamped front nine holes – the work of European Golf Design and Thomas Björn – which is more than enough to keep golfers challenged. With a golf academy, six restaurants including Legends Restaurant and Dubai’s new Boardwalk BBQ Donuts, state-of-the-art recreation facilities, a 121berth marina and the grandiose Park Hyatt Dubai your only difficulty may be deciding what to do first! Managed by qualified PGA
instructors, the Dubai Creek Golf Academy offers a world-class learning experience. Plus, with a dedicated 9-hole Par 3 floodlit course, 36 bay driving range, short game facility and state-of-the-art Golf Swing Analysis Studio, it caters for golfers of all levels. But don’t leave without also enjoying the landmark clubhouse, whose design is inspired by the sails of an Arab Dhow (so famous it appears on the UAE’s 20 dirham note), which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month. January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 23
Yas links abu Dhabi yaslinks.com
Golfers will be in design heaven once setting their golf shoes onto Yas Links – the first Links Golf Course in the UAE designed by one of the top golf course designers on the planet, Kyle Phillips. It’s easy to see what all the fuss is about too – roving groomed greens and lush mangrove plantations span the western shore, in a show of over 130,000 plants. But don’t just take our word for it, Yas Links was awarded the title of 24th best course in the world outside the USA by Golf Digest, and 24 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
ranked number 70 worldwide by Golf World magazine. Elsewhere onsite, golfers will love the luxurious clubhouse, world-class floodlit practice ranges, plus a pro shop in which to deck yourself out in the latest gear before heading to the first-rate academy to improve your handicap. But even non-golfers can make the most of Yas Links, making it an ideal spot for families. The championship course is also home to an award-winning restaurant – Hickory’s, where you can pull
up a pew at the all-day dining eatery and tuck into everything from succulent steaks to freshly-made pizzas while admiring the course. If you don’t intend to spend all day mastering the 8 coast-facing holes on the Par 72 course (though, for golfers, it’s difficult to resist), you can make the most of Yas Links’ other activities – try kayaking along the mangroves, while members can take a sunkissed dip in its sparkling infinity pool. The options are endless...
The Els Club elsclubdubai.com Designed by US Open and two times British open winner Ernie Els, The Els Club is a choice pick for golfers after a first-rate experience. Fittingly set in Dubai Sports City, you’ll find four sets of tees (which stretch across some 7,538 yards), allowing players an array of lengths from which to play. In fact, on these immaculate greens and desert slopes, the course’s links-style layout throws up plenty of challenges for both budding and experienced golfers alike. If you want
to follow in the footsteps of Ernie Els, the onsite Butch Harmon School of Golf is sure to help you improve your handicap – it’s one of the most technologically advanced teaching academies in the Middle East. Inside you’ll be privy to three swing studios with wall-mounted cameras that link up to the latest V1 Video Swing Analysis, while a Sam PuttLab will give you precise feedback on your putting stroke. Become a member (individuals, families and corporations are
all invited) and now you can also make the most of The Els Club’s newest addition – The Clubhouse, a swanky new facility that teeters over the 18th and 9th greens (so expect stellar views) and offers 261 Restaurant, a Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room and giant video. Plus, a Big Easy Grill will open later this year, so you can enjoy a prime feed postround. Not only that but a top-of-the-range pro shop ensures you can have everything you need to look (and play) the part.
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 25
whitefish Montana, USA
Take a closer look at what appears to be a mythical winter scene and you’ll spy two speedy skiiers whooshing their way across an untouched blanket of snow and weaving between an assault course of powder-coated firs. With an average snowfall of 300 inches a year, Big Mountain – which towers over the resort town of Whitefish – is a coveted spot for skiiers (the first of which descended on its slopes in 1933) who flock here for lashings of snow, 3,000 ski-worthy acres, a fearsome vertical drop of 2,500 (only for the truly thrill-seeking) and views across the Glacier National Park. Picture perfect. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
lake hiller Western Australia
Sometimes Mother Nature has a little fun and Lake Hiller, popularly known as the ‘Pink Lake’, is one such example. Travel along Western Australia’s Goldfields-Esperance coastline and you’ll find its flamingo-pink hue, a trait that scientists put down to the high presence of salt-tolerant algae, which causes the bizarre yet beautiful colouration. But you’ll have to keep your fingers crossed for the right weather; the lake isn’t pink everyday. Find it at its rosiest and the Pink Lake lookout is the best spot from which to bag snaps (place a sunglass lens or polarising filter on your camera for a dramatic effect). And keep an eye out for the resident birds who nestle by its waters – the red-eyed hooded plovers and black-winged banded stilts among them. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
travertine terraces Pamukkale, Turkey
To seek out these all-natural peacock-blue hues you’ll need to make for the the Denizli province of southwestern Turkey. Here, seeing is believing: a vast powder-white cliffside gives way to a cascade of shellshaped basins, the waters of which ripple down onto the next. The solidified terraces were formed by carbonate minerals; leftovers from flowing water. And it’s a natural wonder that’s drowning in history: the ancient GrecoRoman and Byzantine city of Hierapolis was built atop it, prompting its latter-day status as a Unesco World Heritage site. Today, it’s Turkey’s warm rays that seep through its surface, changing the water’s colour to magical effect – and the wonder of onlooking tourists... Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
ExpEriEncE nEw luxury A truly spectacular oasis in the heart of the capital yet sheltered from the bustling city, Al Raha Beach Hotel now offers 144 additional reasons to visit! Nestled among blonde sands overlooking the turquoise Gulf, explore our brand new extended bouquet of rooms and suites with uninterrupted views of the shimmering water or sun drenched courtyard. Book now at Al Raha Beach Hotel and get an exclusive 30% discount* on our best available rate that comes with a delectable breakfast buffet, VIP treatment and free WiFi. Call on +971 2 508 0555 or 800 ALRAHA for reservations *Terms & conditions apply
Managed by Danat Hotels & Resorts, a Division of National Corporation for Tourism and Hotels PO Box 38616, Abu Dhabi, U.A.E. | T. +971 2 508 0555 | F. +971 2 508 0444 | E. email@example.com | www.danathotels.com A Member of Preferred Hotels & Resorts
Go with the snow | UsA
Go with the Snow
‘A wintry, ice-draped Grand Canyon? Cool!’ says Chris Leadbeater on his not-so-sunny trip to south west USA
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 33
residents have praised the magnificence of this geological scar in the south-west US, yet most people only see it in summer. To enjoy this landmark in solitude, though, you have to go with the snow – as I did. Rarely can the colour white have seemed such an interloper. It has slithered and slathered itself over every available flat surface, clinging to cracks and lying on ledges. True, the darker hues usually associated with this scene – hazy pink, warm red, solid brown, sunset orange – are all visible. But their ruddy demeanour is partially hidden by this pale shroud. Popular imagination says that the Grand Canyon should not look like this – its cragginess softened by snow. The classic image is rather harder: a geological scar – 277 miles long, up to 18 miles wide, 6,000ft
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deep – where two billion years of Earth’s history are flaunted in natural erosion; a place indelibly linked to heat and dryness, all harsh sun and rattlesnake hiss; the great divide that marks the most indisputable of all American state lines as it dissects Nevada and Arizona. Alone, the Colorado River soothes the area’s parched tongue below. And yet, I am not exactly surprised. The idea of glimpsing one of the world’s most iconic landmarks in its winter disguise seems a possibility by the time I reach Flagstaff, heavy frost garnishing the fringes of Interstate 17, hail punching angrily at the windscreen. The real shock is the speed of transition, Phoenix’s desert setting – which effortlessly pushes the temperature in the Arizona capital into the 70s, even in February – surrendering meekly to a chillier realm as I forge north, the mercury dropping 40 degrees in 100 miles.
Opening page: Grand Canyon National Park in winter. This page: Snowy vistas of the Grand Canyon. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Grand Canyon Railway; A snow storm; Snow on pine trees. Next page: Grand Canyon at sunrise.
Go with the snow | UsA
â€˜Snow has slithered and slathered itself over every available flat surface, clinging to cracks and lying on ledgesâ€™
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 35
36 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
beast that is Humphreys Peak – so titanic that you can ski on its slopes at the Arizona Snowbowl. Beyond the small town of Tusayan, gates guard the entrance to Grand Canyon National Park. “I have to tell you, the visibility isn’t good,” says the park official as he takes my $25 admission fee. He has a point – although he is entirely missing another. Many people have seen this natural wonder in its summer finery, even if only in photos. But it is a rare privilege to catch sight of it when the worst of the weather is doing its best to repel you. Three miles further on, mist and cloud clog up the maw of the canyon beneath Yavapai Point. But every couple of minutes, the wind
tugs at the fog, the vapours part, and those sheer walls of stone are revealed in the gap. All around, the snow is mounting a campaign of conquest, weighing down bushes, masking pathways and supplying an extra note of treachery to the rocks at the lip of the abyss. It is as if someone has gouged a slice from a giant festive cake, cutting through the icing to uncover the fruit of the matter within. Not everybody is impressed. A few yards away, an American family is surveying the murkiness with suspicion, a teenage son registering bemusement in shrugs and sighs. A park ranger – the voice of pragmatism – is standing alongside, explaining the situation. “We’re at 7,200ft,” he nods, face semi-lost under a furry hat. “We can have snow at any
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock Text: Chris Leadbeater / The Independent / The Interview People
This is down to Arizona’s diverse geography. Perceived as an expanse of sand and cacti (which it is in its southern third, where the Sonoran Desert declines to halt at the Mexican border), America’s sixth largest state also proffers the elevated scrub of the Colorado Plateau in its north-east corner, and high-rise terrain where the Mogollon Rim escarpment spans its midriff. The Grand Canyon, caught between plateau and peaks in the north-west of the state, has to cope with wild seasonal mood swings – whatever its postcards suggest. So much becomes clear as I continue up Route 64, the wind howling in protest. Off to the east, the San Francisco Peaks prod the sky, their tallest member – the 12,633ft
Go with the snow | UsA
‘It is as if someone has gouged a slice from a giant festive cake, cutting through the icing to uncover the fruit of the matter within’ time from November to June. Last year, we had it in May. It gets pretty cold up here.” He is correct on all scores, but especially the last one – so I retreat into the refuge of the Yavapai Point Museum. Perched precariously on the edge of the drop, this 1928 structure delivers brief insight into the canyon’s formation, but is chiefly of interest for the view it provides. In the far corner, a gilded picture frame of the type you find in the Louvre has been fixed to a window – an effective way of emphasising the majesty of the panorama.
At the top, a quote from Theodore Roosevelt – one of the key players in the creation of the national park – has been glued to the glass. “Do nothing to mar its grandeur, for the ages have been at work on it, and man cannot improve it,” he says in sepia. “Keep it for your children, your children’s children and all who come after you.” Perhaps the 26th US president is watching, because, as I peer through the pane, the curtains of cloud open once more. When I depart, I take the eastbound stretch of Route 64 – an indirect way of
venturing back to ‘civilisation’ that traces the South Rim for 30 miles of coils and loops. But before I turn off, I pass the station, where the carriages of the Grand Canyon Railway (the tourist service that runs 60 miles from Williams) are idling – the picture made all the prettier by the definition that the snow gives to the tracks, showcasing them as slick black parallel curves. As the train leaves, its horn-toots are muffled by swirling flakes, making it sound curiously forlorn. My mood, as I drive in the opposite direction, is anything but.
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Wonder World The long, dark hours of winter are nearly over in Iceland. Simon Calder travels to the rugged north to see the country light up
ever plan a trip mathematically. I know this – but when I consulted the guidebook Top 10 Iceland ahead of a winter trip to the island’s Arctic fringe, it would have been cheering to have seen more than just a single highlight in the entire north of the country. And that one top sight wasn’t even Dettifoss. This may sound like an oral hygiene product, but it turns out to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe – a howling torrent that roars over a jagged lip of rock, plummets 150ft and fuels a perpetual rainbow before continuing its journey, carving a dramatic canyon through the fresh rock of this young island. The dry statistic for the quantity of wet stuff dragged over the brink by gravity is one million litres every two seconds. Fortunately, the wonders of north Iceland are so intense that they require no liquid reinforcement to enjoy – starting with Dettifoss itself, which resembles Niagara only in its brutal power. No neon, no crowds, no quietly turning down the falls at night to conserve water. In summer, you can hike north along this laceration in the planet; in winter, you are free to rejoice in its dramatic desolation. In one sense, I had been relieved to learn that there is, apparently, only one ‘must-see’ in the northern half of a country the size of 38 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
wonder world | iceland
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 39
Ireland, because I imagined that the average 24 hours on the brink of the Arctic at this time of year would be a study in darkness, with only a brief interlude of ghostly daylight. In fact, this is a location in which, in early March, you can watch the day stretch before your very eyes. At the start of my six-day trip, the first approximation to usable light appeared shortly before 9am, and ended by around 6.30pm; in less than a week, a 12-hour day seemed the norm. It is as though you have landed on the bright side of the Moon. My favourite Icelandic word is now ljostillfun, which translates scientifically as ‘photosynthesis’ – but literally as ‘light creates life’. The books I had brought went unread, because the rough edge of the planet proved more enthralling than prose. A journey here is like one big geography field trip, a succession of craters and canyons and cliffs resembling crumpled parchment. In the fjords that serrate the coastline, the steely waters serenely reflect the snow draped on the muscular mountainsides, and the islands scattered like a sculptor’s offcuts. The ocean also provides a living for the hardy folk who dispute the assumption that 65 degrees north is a latitude unfit for human habitation. A sequence of fascinating exhibitions shows the fragility of life on the edge. At Husavik, the Whaling Centre (occupying a former slaughterhouse) explains how Icelanders took a leading role in exploiting the world’s largest mammal. It stands adjacent to the jetty that is now the centre of the country’s whale-watching industry; the creatures are worth more alive than dead. Far more plentiful were the herrings that, for a time from 1903, made Siglufjordur the richest place in Iceland. The sheltered harbour hosted hundreds of trawlers in the ‘herring rush’, capturing the protein that kept the rest of northern Europe healthy. The herring shoals have suffered the same fate as the cod that enriched Iceland until overfishing ruined the industry. But the modern twist here is fashion: fish skins are cured in the same manner as sheepskins, and have been transformed into fabric that is lighter and tougher than leather. The skins are exported to Milan and Paris, allowing the stylish to look slinky in salmon. The fortunes of the far north are even more fickle than fashion. A harsh winter 40 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Opening page: Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This page, from top: Icelandic horses; Eyjafjordur Sound, Akureyri; Heimaey harbour.
wonder world | iceland
‘Dettifoss is the most powerful waterfall in Europe – a howling torrent that roars over a jagged lip of rock, plummets 150ft and fuels a perpetual rainbow’ characterised by northerly winds could deny essential access to the sea, starving communities in the process. The best place to understand the endless cycles of hope and despair that have characterised the millennium of human settlement in Iceland is at the Icelandic Emigration Centre in Hofsos. A handsome old mansion has been revived as a testament to the tens of thousands of Icelanders who sought out new lives in North America. Hofsos is also a good place to learn that the 21st century has not been entirely cruel to Iceland. Just before the financial crash, a pair of bankers’ wives signed a cheque for a new swimming pool there – a spectacular, cliffside outdoor pool, naturally heated to resemble a warm bath, with the bonus of an infinity aspect aimed at the North Pole. New road tunnels make life easier for locals and visitors. Between Siglufjordur
and Olafsfjordur, the previously treacherous journey across a mountain pass has been superseded by a quick drive that takes only about as long as a foreigner does to pronounce the names of the towns it connects. And there is an aesthetic bonus too: halfway through, the tunnel takes a break for breath, and this short outdoor segment comes at the head of a fjord previously off-limits except to the hardiest hikers or trawlermen. North Iceland is full of extreme experiences, but thankfully also simple comforts. I stayed in a succession of friendly hotels and guesthouses, mostly charging under $160 for a double room with breakfast – and usually featuring unlimited quantities of smoked salmon and home-made bread. The diminutive capital of north Iceland is Akureyri, prettily located beside a fjord and hemmed in by mountains (which makes the January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 41
â€˜In the fjords that serrate the coastline, the steely waters serenely reflect the snow draped on the muscular mountainsidesâ€™
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wonder world | iceland Previous page: Jokulsargljufur canyon, Dettifoss waterfall. This page: Hofsjokull Glacier.
airport an exciting ‘Category C’ experience for pilots and passengers). The biggest number of beds, though, is around Iceland’s mother lake, Myvatn, which shimmers at 1,000ft in the heart of its own national park – and is the one northerly location to make it in to Top 10 Iceland. Other countries may boast continental divides, but Iceland can brag of an intercontinental divide, as the North American and European tectonic plates noisily tear themselves apart. The MidAtlantic Ridge, as this fault is known, runs through the country and beneath the lake. Yet at this time of year, when the ice is so thick that locals play on it in their 4x4s, it is the sky that screams for attention. I wondered why the Sel-Hotel Myvatn had a funny little conservatory attached, until – shortly after dark, a dozen nights ago – the cry went up that the Northern Lights had been ‘switched on’. The leaden skies that sometimes make Iceland look like a nation in mourning had cleared, revealing a gust of solar wind beautifully entangled in Earth’s magnetic field. Not quite a natural Las Vegas of colour, as sometimes happens, but a pearly veil that appeared to flutter before melting into the night. The mathematics of the cosmos predict the Aurora Borealis. But its naked beauty is incalculable. January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 43
Out of Africa Gambia has a reputation for hustling and hassling, but after a week, Oliver Smithâ€™s preconceptions of the tiny West African strip were overturnedâ€Ś
44 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
out of africa | gambia
y taxi driver, Katim, led me into the front room of his home on the edge of Serrekunda, Gambia’s largest city. Twenty chairs were arranged in a horseshoe, each facing the property’s most prized possessions: an ancient–looking television and a battered wireless perched on a creaking credenza. My arrival caught the attention of three cheeky youngsters. They rushed towards the doorway to greet me, their shrieks of delight disturbing the silence of the home and the slumber of older relatives napping in adjacent rooms. Soon I was sitting in a courtyard enjoying the afternoon sunshine with a coterie of aunts, great aunts, nieces and nephews – a space we shared with a skinny heifer, a clutch of chickens and a tethered goat. A matriarchal figure stirred a mighty pan of couscous as it warmed over an open fire,
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 45
‘My wife could unwind while I explored monkey-filled forests, meandering wetlands and a sleepy Third World capital’ a baby in a brightly coloured sling clung to her back. The children begged me to take their pictures. They craned their necks to see the results on my digital camera. I asked the eldest to take a picture of Katim and myself. Another photograph for his album. It’s not often I accept an offer of late lunch from a taxi driver, but a day spent with Katim, and a week in Gambia, had made me less suspicious than I am in my home city of London. I hadn’t envisaged this scenario three months previously, when my wife, Sophie, and I decided on a trip to this tiny strip of West Africa. Whereas Sophie looks for nothing more in a holiday than some sun-scorched stretch of sand in which to disappear into a decent novel and – ideally – five-star accommodation, I crave distraction. Here was the perfect compromise. With April temperatures in excess of 30°C and good beaches, she could unwind while I explored monkey-filled forests, meandering wetlands and a sleepy Third World capital. 46 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
But our research also unearthed a few off-putting warnings too. “Do take care of yourself,” urged my grandmother. We chose to take the risk. Sophie’s fears were forgotten within five minutes of our arrival at the hotel. Once ‘cheap and cheerful’, Gambian accommodation has improved, and the Coco Ocean Resort and Spa can only be termed luxurious. We were whisked by golf buggy past fountains and manicured gardens to a cool, airy suite overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. In the fading light, we spotted lizards scuttling from the undergrowth and egrets stalking through the grass in search of one last edible insect. The following morning we claimed two sun loungers beside the hotel’s infinity pool – a spot that became Sophie’s command centre for the duration of the holiday. Lovely as the hotel was, we could have been anywhere on earth. And every luxury seemed designed to dissuade people from exploring beyond its whitewashed walls and Moorish domes. Why leave when there were two excellent restaurants, a spa, a sandy
beach, a library and a hairdresser’s all on your doorstep? Sophie, and many of our fellow guests, struggled with that question. Each morning the same cast of colourful characters dragged their bodies to the pool, sunned themselves for eight hours and then made half–hearted resolutions to “get out and explore tomorrow”. Among them was an MCC member and former manufacturer of lingerie, Britain’s largest importer of peanuts (“We’re bigger than KP,” he joked), and a German doctor whose bedroom became a free, walk-in clinic for the staff after he revealed his profession to a waiter (“I have a local patient in my room every night,” he explained with a chuckle). For us, the slothful spell was broken on our second afternoon by a shrill whistle. A man with two white mares beckoned us from the beach. I persuaded Sophie to peel herself from the poolside. “Are they OK?” she asked, pointing to a nasty–looking sore on one of the animal’s
out of africa | gambia
backsides. “She’s fine!” came the reply. Sophie informed me that this was to be my horse. We rode past men praying to Mecca, and children playing in the sea. We dismounted and joined a group of fishermen bringing in their catch. We examined the net of one. Perhaps we could find the species we had devoured for lunch. “What’s this one?” I asked, pointing to a thin, silvery creature. “Lady fish,” he eagerly replied. “Very tasty!” Moments later an American tourist sidled up. He too, was keen to identify the fish.“What is this?” He asked, pointing at a flat, grey one. “Lady fish!” came the answer. As the days passed, we explored farther afield. An afternoon at the beachside Bijilo Forest Park – a mile up the coast – gave us the chance to wander among baobabs, spotting hornbills, red colobus and green vervet monkeys. On a day trip to the wetlands that divide Serrekunda from the Gambian capital, Banjul, we watched pelicans fishing and women in traditional canoes plucking oysters from the mangroves. But it was our exchanges with the locals that linger in my memory – from the bus driver who extolled the virtues of Islamic society, to the groundskeeper who appeared on our patio each evening, full of questions about our lives back in England. The hotel’s army of staff was remarkable. Special mentions are reserved for the comedy double act of Famara and Mohammed, and for the waiter whose catchphrase, “Why not?”, was delivered at any reasonable opportunity. “Dessert today, sir? – Why not?” “Bubbles with breakfast? – Why not?” I met Katim on our second night. Leaving the hotel in search of somewhere else to eat, we stared at a handful of parked taxis. The sight of two tourists leaving our opulent hotel galvanised the cabbies. One grinning driver was quickest off the blocks. He jogged across the busy street, risking his life, while his friend reversed a car, somehow avoiding the oncoming traffic, and parked it under our noses. Admiring his eagerness, we hopped in and agreed a small price for a return trip to a nearby restaurant. He handed me his homemade business card and promised January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 47
48 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Opening page: Gambian fishing village. Previous pages, from left: Coco Ocean Resort and Spa; Serekunda market. This page, from top: Children learning how to take photographs; White pelicans. Opposite page, clockwise from top: Fajara beach; Havesting rice; The catch of the day in Tanji.
‘On a day trip to the wetlands, we watched pelicans fishing and women in traditional canoes plucking oysters from the mangroves’
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Getty Images; Supplied Text: Oliver Smith / The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People
to be at our beck and call for the duration of our holiday. “I’m Katim,” he said. “I am always here.” We pulled up at the restaurant, and, without thinking, I handed him the full fare. Sophie cursed me for a fool and I agreed we were unlikely to see him again. But two hours later we found him awaiting our return. “Still here,” he beamed. To reward his honesty I let him drive me to Banjul later that week. While Sophie’s relationship with her sunlounger continued to blossom, Katim and I shared the potholed roads with scores of pedestrians walking stoically in the midday heat, ramshackle cars laden with locals and the occasional donkey and cart. Beyond the tarmac, women toiled in fields while their husbands sheltered from the heat in huts and half–built houses. Building sites resembled lounge rooms as men reclined in the shade, turning inactivity into an art form. Katim explained that this kind of behaviour is de rigueur in Gambia. Women work twice as hard to compensate for their other halves. It’s no surprise that a Gambian man will refer to his wife as “boss lady”. We discussed everything from Gambian education to the price of taxis in London, before he grabbed a folder from his glove compartment and dropped it on my lap. “These are my friends,” he announced proudly. The folder contained photographs and letters from people he had met over the years. Each had an arm around Katim and wore a wide smile. Our car passed Arch 22 – a 115ft-high monument to the coup of July 22 1994 – announcing our arrival in Banjul. Little else in the capital rises beyond two storeys and it was everything I expected from a small African city: run-down, hot and dusty. Welders worked on the pavement, sending sparks flying in all directions, but there was not a pair of safety goggles in sight. Street vendors cooked and sold what could only be described as ‘offal baguettes’. People stared at me. Katim guided me around Albert Market, a warren of corrugated iron, cardboard boxes and commerce. The sights and smells were arresting: giant slabs of shea butter, grinning cats picking at fishmongers’ leftovers, piles of brightly-coloured fabric and rows of hastily stitched football tops.
I escaped the heat at the National Museum, a charmingly deserted affair that houses a hotchpotch of artefacts. I browsed a copy of a national newspaper published on the day after the 1994 coup. Given equal prominence to the headline proclaiming a new government was a huge advertisement asking readers: ‘Does your roof leak?’
Returning to the hotel, we drove past garden centres, concrete office blocks and more women suffering in the sub–Saharan heat, before Katim asked if I might consider a detour to his home in Serrakunda. “I need to see my aunt,” he said. “Come and meet my family.” I didn’t even need to consider the proposal. “Why not?” I replied.
out of africa | gambia
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 49
Wild Things Zip-lining down volcanoes? Close encounters with poison dart frogs? Don’t worry: Costa Rica is surprisingly family friendly, says Mike Unwin
ot again. I reach for my watch. It’s 5.04am. This is the third morning in succession we’ve been woken by howler monkeys. ‘Howl’ isn’t the half of it. The noise invades your consciousness like some distant wind and builds into a sustained, jet-engine roar until you fling off the sheets and sit up, cursing. Awake, you can hear the throaty rasp – like a vomiting Darth Vader. The volume is astonishing: this is reputedly the loudest voice on the planet yet it comes from an animal no larger than a cat. Still, an early start is no bad thing. So far we’ve needed every minute of daylight to get through our breathless itinerary, and this morning at the Hacienda Guachipelín promises to be the most action-packed yet. We are, after all, the proud bearers of a ‘family adventure pass’. A short while later, strapped into harness and helmet and regretting my immense 50 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
breakfast, I find myself standing on a narrow platform overlooking a forested gorge. A steel cable arcs down through the trees to some invisible point on the other side. Now seems the last chance to voice my fears were it not for the fact that my nine-year-old daughter is already clipped on ahead of me. The last thing I see as she launches into the void is her grin. This would feel more daunting, though, if we hadn’t been zip-lining already a few days ago, on the slopes of the Arenal volcano. Then, I found it terrifying, hurtling at unnatural speeds along 800m cables high above the canopy. Now I’m a little more confident. As I zigzag down from platform to platform I can relax enough to appreciate the gurgle of the river and the chorus of birdsong. There is even time to spot a troop of howler monkeys in the crown of a fig tree. By the time we swing off the final platform on a Tarzan rope – with the obligatory Johnny Weissmuller yodel – fun has definitely conquered fear.
wild things | costa rica
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Opening page: Howler monkey. Previous page: The Arenal volcano, Alajuela. This page, from left: Suspension bridge over Sarapiqui River; Northern tamandua anteater. Opposite page: Irazu volcano crater.
But the adventure pass has not done with us yet. Next, we saddle up on the hacienda’s patient horses and ride down to where the tumbling stream has become an impressive river. Waiting for us is a pile of outsize rubber rings. We’re going tubing, it seems. Before we know it, we are pushing off into the current, abandoned to our fate like human Poohsticks. Tubing turns out to be a disconcerting business: one minute we’re drifting along admiring the scenery; next, the current is drawing us into another set of rapids and our world has exploded into spray and screaming. The Hacienda Guachipelí is the penultimate stop on our two-week Costa Rica family adventure tour. It lies on the slopes of the Rincó de la Vieja volcano in the country’s far north-west. Like the other volcanoes we’ve seen, this one belches sulphurous smoke. But the dry forest that cloaks the lower slopes is very different from the dripping humidity of a few days earlier. “These volcanoes control our climate,” our guide Daniel Monge had told us on day one, as he collected us from San José airport and drove east. He showed on our tourist map how 52 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
‘From our cable car on the slopes of Arenal I had spied a tamandua – a tree-climbing anteater – foraging for termites in the branches below’ Costa Rica’s peaks line up to form a barrier down the spine of the country: the Cordillera Central. The eastern slopes, which fall away to the Caribbean, get most of the rainfall and are carpeted in lush tropical rainforest. The western Pacific slopes lie in the rain shadow, so their forests are more arid, with a dusty, thorny feel. Our first stop was on neither slope, however, but in the misty highlands that divide them. We drove up a hairpin ascent to the 3,432m summit of Irazú, Costa Rica’s highest active volcano. On a good day, apparently, you can see both coasts from here. We had no such luck but, as we tramped around the ashy wasteland, the swirling mist allowed glimpses into the flooded crater. In 1963 this crater spewed out enough ash to blacken the skies of San José for three years and send lethal mudslides sweeping through the outskirts of Daniel’s hometown, Cartago.
By afternoon, clear skies gave us picturebook views of Turrialba, the next volcano on our route. An ominous plume of smoke rose from the summit and Guayabo Lodge, our stop for the night, was directly below. “Don’t worry,” said Daniel, “it’s been doing that for three years.” Thankfully, it has been a while since Costa Rica experienced anything like the eruption of Volcá de Fuego, which forced thousands to flee their homes in Guatemala. The highlands are coffee country. The next morning, we wound through the plantations to the estate of Tayutic, where they still process local produce the traditional way – and visitors get to join in. Here, my daughter helped to sort good macadamia nuts from bad as they rattled down the chute, then attempted to crush dried coffee beans in a stone mill. Her face fell when she learned that to work as a picker she’d need to pluck at least 4,000 beans to fill one basket, and do it 20 times a day.
wild things | costa rica
From coffee to sugar seemed a natural leap. We joined a group to watch as the estate’s two oxen turned a huge mill wheel that crushed fresh cane to a sticky pulp. The children’s eyes widened as first the fresh juice was boiled up into a slow-bubbling gloop of golden molasses, then the raw sugar was spread, chopped and sifted. That evening, inspired, we cooked our own Costa Rican meal in the kitchen of Guayabo Lodge. Our hosts provided ingredients and instructions, and the chef kept a distance as we chopped, mashed, drizzled and seasoned to produce our best shot at tortas de plátano (plantain and cheese fritters), ensalada de palmito (heart of palm salad), and the obligatory gallo pinto (rice and black beans). My daughter even baked a chocolate cake using pure local cacao. Our smugness at dinner that night was matched only by our gluttony. Next up, the rainforest. A morning’s winding drive led us down to Selva Verde
lodge in the Caribbean lowlands. This was much closer to what I’d been expecting from Costa Rica: hot and sweaty, with a backdrop of towering green. These vast forests are said to harbour the greatest biodiversity on the planet – and even the short path from reception to room was like an encyclopedia of tropical wildlife: we saw leaf-cutter ants ferrying their trophies; a metre-long green iguana basking on its branch like a plastic dinosaur; and, best of all, a three-toed sloth peering down from an epiphyte-laden kapok tree, with a baby clinging to its coat. The next afternoon, to up the wildlife quota, we headed down the road to Tirimbina Reserve, where a local ecologist Willy Aguilar led us across a hair-raising suspension bridge into the primary forest. Knowing the challenges of finding wildlife in this habitat, I had warned my daughter not to expect big beasts around every corner. But she was
enthralled as Willy produced a succession of rainforest rabbits – or, at least, agoutis – from his ecological hat. One minute we were squatting to examine the diggings of an armadillo; the next, we were sniffing the pungent fruit of a kerosene tree, watching a toucan pluck figs with its preposterous bill or marvelling at the leaf architecture of tentmaking bats. Being with a guide also has certain practical advantages. “Avoid the handrails,” advised Willy, as a marauding bullet ant (its sting explains the name) trundled past. “Don’t touch,” he cautioned, as we crouched to examine a thumbnail-sized strawberry poison dart frog in the leaf litter. “That’s far enough,” he warned, more sharply, as I parted the foliage to view an eyelash pit viper coiled on the leaf of a heliconia. But you don’t need a guide to find Costa Rica’s wildlife. In fact, you don’t even need to go looking for it. So exuberant is nature in this January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 53
‘Fun, adventure and wildlife came rolled into one on the Peñas Blancas river, below Arenal, when we floated downstream on inflatable rafts’
54 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
wild things | costa rica
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 55
Previous page: Kayaking on the Pacuare River. This page, clockwise from top left: Costa Rican scarlet macaws; Braulio Carrillo National Park; Woman selling textiles, Alajuela Market. Opposite page, clockwise from left: San Jose fruit market; Measuring coffee beans to sell at market; Fresh local produce.
part of the world that wild creatures form an unavoidable backdrop to whatever else you might get up to. Thus, over a fresh pineapple juice at a café, we had watched dazzling hummingbirds zip back and forth. And from our cable car on the slopes of Arenal I had spied a tamandua – a tree-climbing anteater – foraging for termites in the branches below. Fun, adventure and wildlife came rolled into one on the Peñas Blancas river, below Arenal, when we floated downstream on inflatable rafts. This was boating with at least a semblance of control, and the water was calm enough for my daughter to take the paddle. Wildlife was unfazed by our quiet approach: green basilisks – nicknamed Jesus Cristo lizards for their ability to scamper across the water’s surface – posed on roots; a pair of spectacled owls peered down from the tangle; and long-nosed bats roosting on a tree-trunk mimicked the S-shape of a serpent to deter any myopic predators. There comes a point in any holiday, of course, when you must put down the cables, tubes, paddles, saddles, cameras and binoculars and simply crash out. Conveniently, Costa Rica comes with not only two idyllic 56 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
tropical coastlines but also a geothermal spa at the foot of every volcano. We’d already tried the latter at the lush Arenal Hot Springs Resort, parboiling ourselves gently into a wrinkled stupor beneath the smoking summit. So, for our last two days – having wrung all possible adventure from our pass – we descend from Rincón de la Vieja to Playa Panama, on the Pacific.
Our hotel, Casa Conde del Mar, turns out to be perfect: the lush grounds, the huge pool, the lavish breakfast spread and the warm ocean just beyond. How better to wind down before the flight home? There’s only one problem, and it comes at 5.03am on our final morning: a thunderous wake-up call courtesy of the planet’s noisiest primate. I pull my pillow over my ears.
wild things | costa rica
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 57
Grotty no more
Lanzarote has been quietly changing its fly-and-flop holiday image and upgrading its appeal, discovers Andrew Eames
58 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Grotty no morE | LAnzArotE
f the many myths and legends of the Canary Islands, the most often rehearsed is the story of the existence or otherwise of a mysterious eighth island, called San Borondón. Over the centuries there have been various reported sightings to the west of the archipelago, but whenever sailors tried to approach, a mist descended and the island either moved away or disappeared, according to which account you read. Well, that legend almost came true when an underwater volcano just south of El Hierro, the most remote of the Canary Islands,
erupted in 2011, and the resulting outpouring of rock and solidifying lava made the sea’s surface boil. Once again, there was talk of a new island, of what it might be called, and how long it would be before there were flights there. I was reminded of all this while sitting by the pool on the archipelago’s fourth-largest member, Lanzarote – the island which had seen the most recent volcanic activity prior to the El Hierro upstart. In the early 19th century, about a quarter of the island was re-carpeted in lava after the eruption of Mount Timanfaya. Although Lanzarote has been around for ages, in tourism terms, it seems, somehow... renewed. It is an island with a great capacity for reinventing itself. I was staying in a new luxury villa recently opened by Natural Retreats in Playa Blanca January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 59
Openning page: Arrecife, Lanzarote. This page, from top: Timanfaya National Park; Fishing boats in Charco de San Gines; Architectural details in Arrecife. Opposite page: Men playing bocci.
– an ambitious 20-villa development – and looking around, I felt as if I were playing a walk-on part in a Hockney painting from his Hollywood Hills period. The villa has been cleverly built into the hillside so that most of the bedrooms and bathrooms are below ground, albeit daylight-lit thanks to flanking excavated patios. At ground level, a large swimming pool occupies centre stage, tucked between the linens of the master bedroom, the slate-floored kitchen of brushed steel and the chrome-furnished glass-walled living area, all of which are lit by the pool’s translucent, rippling, refracted light. It’s a place for sun-loving sybarites – although you could be anywhere in the world. The Natural Retreats property is not alone, for there’s a growing breed of unique rural villas in Lanzarote, as I discovered on an exploratory journey north. The island landscape is like nowhere else I know. It has the colour, and the texture, of elephant hide, humped, wrinkled and occasionally bristled, and sometimes covered in different-coloured dust where the elephant has rolled. Its villages are splodges of spilt white paint nestling in folds of the elephant’s skin, and their distinctive cuboid design and green balconies, doors and windows reflect a mixture of Lanzaroteño tradition and the influence of one man, the artist César Manrique, who saw art in their very simplicity. Certainly it is visually unique, and as a piece of landscape art it is also very well curated. Travelling through it, I could see no abandoned cars, broken fridges, or windblown plastic bags. But then, with no bushes or undergrowth, there’s nowhere to hide the flotsam and jetsam of life, so civic pride comes with the territory. In any case, teams of litter pickers made their way alongside the roads, removing anything that might distract the eye. Beyond the roadside, the landscape is hand tended. Agricultural machinery would 60 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Grotty no more | Lanzarote
‘I found myself plunged into a hidden Lanzarote of quiet villages, sleeping dogs and donkey tracks’ be cut to ribbons by lava rocks, so donkeys still do the ploughing. Lanzarote farmers have their own way of dealing with a land of volcanic ash and minimal rainfall, and the most visually arresting part of their industry is the cultivation of grapes, particularly in the La Geria region, which runs through the spine of the island. Here, it looks as if the elephant hide has been decorated with thousands upon
thousands of eyebrows. These are the zocos, crescents of rock that protect cones of crumbled lava (picon), which funnel overnight condensation down to the vine at their centre. It is a surprisingly effective system, producing around two million kilos of grapes for the island’s 20-plus bodegas. In the midst of this carefully tended, hand-constructed landscape, I came across more unusual self-catering, albeit a lot
more individual in style than the oh-so-chic Natural Retreats. At Casa el Morro, just outside the village of Uga, Raquel Hidalgo has converted a rambling former farmhouse into a seven-villa establishment on the side of a hill, surrounded by pepper trees, Canarian palms and jacaranda trees. The highlight is the generous hillside pool, a true suntrap surrounded by giant maharajah’s daybeds, with a glass wall to preserve the view but protect bathers from the wind. There’s a spiritual, meditative quality in the air here, with a massage yurt and a yoga palace for organised sessions, led by Raquel herself. Casa el Morro has hints of South-east Asia in its interior design and that is echoed in Casa Tomarén, run by Raquel’s brother Damian, at the centre of the island close to San Bartolomé. Another former farm, this one a listed building, has been converted into seven rustic cottages, with a communal pool in a sunken garden to keep it out of the wind. These Hidalgos are well-travelled people and the unassuming Damian – who does a lot of the work around the villas himself – has blended traditional Lanzarote with splashes of Morocco and strong influences of Indonesia. (When I suggest Bali he scolds me and it turns out his wife is Javanese.) As for his market, he talked of British, Dutch, Spanish, German, but all of them a new kind of visitor for Lanzarote: “Educated sorts who don’t want to do mass tourism.” Further north still, I entered into the potato-farming territory at Los Valles and had a quick look at a more traditional stand-alone 150-year-old rural house, Casa Barranco, a rambling cluster of rooms around its own patio, and with its own bread oven and pool. Not far away lies El Aljibe, a unique villa with the same owner (Yayo Fontes, one of the driving forces behind rural tourism in Lanzarote), which happens to be in a former giant water cistern. This is a ‘special occasion’ place to stay, for couples on anniversaries or honeymoon; the kitchen and bathroom, above ground, are like the bridge of a ship, while the bed is suspended down below on a platform in the middle of a softly lit vault. It is a humorous, cleverly conceived conversion, although I’m not sure I’d manage a whole week here. My last stop, back on the coast by Arrieta up in the north, was almost as new as Natural Retreats, and has a website January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 61
â€˜The island landscape is like nowhere else I know. It has the colour, and the texture, of elephant hide, humped, wrinkled and occasionally bristled, and sometimes covered in different-coloured dustâ€™
62 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Grotty no morE | LAnzArotE
(lanzaroteretreats.com) which sounds confusingly similar. But this is a conversion of the former Finca de Arrieta which reflects the unbounded energy of the English couple, Michelle and Tila Braddock, who run it. Here they’ve created six ‘yurt units’ (yurts of various sizes, with outside bathrooms and kitchens) with five stone cottages, all of them fed by wind- or solar-generated power, and a couple of which also include the use of a hybrid car in the rental. The pool, trampoline, donkey and chicken run (collect your own eggs in the morning) mean that this is probably the most family-oriented of all the places I saw. The guest profile for each of these villas is different: urban sybarites at Natural Retreats; the more spiritual appeal of Casa el Morro; the eclectic Casa Tomarén; the traditional Casa el Barranco and the contemporary Finca Arrieta. But all these villas are attracting a new and more discerning market of people who want to break away from the traditional diet of package tourism on an island derided as ‘Lanzagrotty’; they want to get active, to paraglide, to hike, to surf, to go mountain biking. I had a crack at the mountain biking myself, putting the rental bike in the back of the hire car and heading over on the island’s less populated eastern flank beyond Tinajo, where I found myself plunged into a hidden Lanzarote of quiet villages, sleeping dogs and donkey tracks. This is the Lanzarote that has gone on doing what it has always done, however many millions of tourists (5.5 million in 2011) fly in every year. The Lanzarote that Manrique realised was worth preserving, and the Lanzarote that the villa-renters come to see. The island is not to everyone’s taste, and it will never be a Provence or a Tuscany, but it now has rather lovely places in which to stay.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock Text: Andrew Eames / The Independent / The Interview People
Opposite page: Papagayo beach. This page, from top: Beach café; Local musicians; Canarianstyle roasted fish.
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 63
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ConCierge | opener
concierge souTh africa | perTh | rome | dubai
the 30-second concierge
carmen harding, KarKloof spa
What better way to get ready for the new year than with a spa break that combines travel too? KWT finds out how to revive in the wilds of Africa... Karkloof spa is a retreat with a difference… a wildlife and nature reserve too, you’ll find it situated in the kingdom of KwaZulu Natal in South Africa, nestled in a green mix of African bush and lush forestry. For the best view in the house… I would suggest reserving villa 14 for panoramic vistas; villas 1 to 3 for a view of the dam, 6 for valley vistas and 7 or 8 for secluded privacy. Some guests return to their favourite villa time and again, while others relish a new experience. Either way, your view will provide a feast for the eyes, surrounded by a sea of nature. For those who want to rejuvenate… the spa offers therapies that will detox the mind, body and soul. From a raw diet menu to regeneration
facials, herbal baths and a consultation with one of our chefs, you can experience tailor-made treatments while based in a game reserve. If you want to head outside of the lodge… I would recommend a waterfall walk or a private game drive, followed by a bush-set picnic. For the more active, a mountain biking experience in the valley or fishing one of the dams are excellent options. If you want to eat healthily… I suggest the restaurant’s pan fried fillet of Drakensburg Tsauterout, served with olive crushed potatoes, sautéed green beans and lemon oil. Also, the more unusual wildebeest loin is an exotic yet lean choice. karkloofspa.com January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 65
In search of adventure? Head to Western Australia for al fresco fun and frolics, says Hazel Plush
ustralia’s east coast may be famed for its serene surf bays and lively cities, but nowhere does laid-back chic quite like the west: think glimmering waters brimming with marine life, quirky cultural tastes and an insatiable appetite for the outdoors. For westerners, Perth is more than the state capital: it’s the sum of the Aussie playground’s best bits; part urban hub, part adventurer’s dream. Monday to Friday, the city is all about business, but at the weekend it shakes off its suit. Whatever your weakness, there’s plenty to keep 66 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
you occupied: take to the foaming waters for surfing, canoeing or sailing; pedal along the Swan River in search of the perfect picnic spot; sip flat whites while leafing through second hand tomes; or go quokka spotting on the tranquil Rottnest Island. After the sun sets over the Indian Ocean, the party continues: head to one of Perth’s arty districts for low-key lounges, late night gallery gatherings, and fine international cuisine. The city might not be a high-octane hub, but its charms lie in its zest for life – a truly irresistible outlook.
Perth | AustrAliA
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock
mUst-DOs The Swan river (1) runs through the heart of the city, so what better taster of Perth’s sights than a cruise along its waters? Pick up a vessel from the harbour, and glide past parks and city icons to the historic Fremantle Port, or head upstream to the serene Swan Valley. Adventurous types can explore the shores by rented canoe or kayak. Cottesloe Beach (2) is perhaps the most popular of Perth’s beaches: just 15 minutes from the city centre, it’s a favourite local hang-out. Beyond the surfers and cute seaside restaurants, the area is steeped in maritime history – and there’s no finer place to catch the sunset. Take a picnic, or pick up a fresh fish supper from the eateries that line the bay. Leederville (3) boasts some of the finest nightlife and café culture in town. To the north of the city, it’s home to a quirky array of delis and galleries – more than enough to while away a rainy afternoon. Come nightfall, head to the Luna Cinema (lunapalace. com.au), which screens arty classics and local flicks. The Art Gallery of Western Australia (4) (artgallery.wa.gov.au) offers a more mainstream showcase of national treasures, as well as touring exhibitions from around the world. This month, catch Picturing New York (opens 26 January), a display of photography from the capital on loan from the Big Apple’s Museum of Modern Art. Fremantle (5), a quaint beach-side suburb, is a popular weekend retreat. Alongside the charming port, colourful market stalls and artisan boutiques line the streets, and you’ll find everything from Aboriginal artwork to vintage records among the treasures. Fremantle Prison offers a fascinating insight
into the now-defunct gaol: a guided tour (complete with eerie stories) is sure to send a shiver down your spine. rottnest Island (6) is perfect for a rural day trip – the tiny islet just off the coast boasts no fewer than 63 beaches and 20 bays for your perusal. Cars are banned, so explore the island on rental bike or by foot – tackle the slog to the top of Oliver Hill and you’ll be rewarded with vast ocean views. Water babies will love the snorkelling trail from Parker Point, and the surf breaks at Stark Bay (they’re often larger than those at the Perth beaches). Rottnest is home to an indigenous population of quokkas, an endangered marsupial, so keep your eyes peeled for their furry pelts too.
Crown Metropole Perth (8) (crownmetropolperth.com.au) is a resort on the banks of the Swan River. You’ll be within easy reach of the city, but you may not want to venture far: hire a poolside cabana for the ultimate in relaxation, with a butler, al fresco dining, and spa treatments.
Where tO eat Opus restaurant (9) (09 217 8880) boasts a feted tasting menu, in a quiet, intimate setting.
Try the marron with asparagus, mushroom and hollandaise sauce (it’s a local favourite), and leave room for the delicate lychee sorbet and rose meringue. Galileo (10) (09 382 3343) is a hidden gem in Shenton Park, perfect for refuelling during shopping trips, or dinner in a quieter end of town. Cuisine is Italian-Australian fusion, featuring home-made pasta, shared platters and signature grills of locally-sourced meat.
Perth’s best… markets Canning Vale Markets, Bannister road Western Australia’s largest undercover market takes place every Sunday, with a plethora of second-hand goods and food stalls. Look out for unusual furniture, vintage clothing and dusty books.
Where tO staY The richardson (7) (therichardson.com.au) is within walking distance of the city centre, with quirky design by British architect Sir Terry Farrell. In addition to its stylish array of cosy rooms and penthouse suites, the boutique retreat boasts sumptuous ESPA treatment rooms, and delectable Aussie cuisine.
Station Street Markets, Station Street This is the place to head for hand-crafted jewellery, gifts and curios, and some equally colourful characters. The central garden courtyard is brimming with freshly-cooked bites.
The Farmer’s Market, Manning road Pick up farm-fresh goodies from this casual set-up: every Saturday, local producers set up shop to offer their hearty ranges of organic fruit and veg, cakes, crepes, nuts, chutneys and cheeses.
West Perh Bold Park
4 East Perh
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Kite surfing on Cottesloe Beach; The Bell Tower; Koala; The Swan River. January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 67
With Alitalia now flying direct from Abu Dhabi to Rome, head to the Eternal City for a taste of Europe’s colourful past
or most travellers, to take a trip to Rome is to journey back through time. History is top of the agenda in this ancient capital: at every cobbled corner, on each page of the guide book – speckled with bloodshed, rich in royalty, dark with intrigue. To find the heart of the city, you’ll have to take to the streets. Tripping through the city’s 16th-century piazzas, you’ll find Rome’s past is alive at every turn: in the sweet aroma of stone-baked bread, the soft furl of handmade leather, the outlandish marble obelisks to leaders, heroes and deities. Of course, no trip to the capital would be complete without a taste of Ancient Rome. Head to the Colosseum for the shadows of bloodthirsty crowds; stroll the Forum, where Emperors deliberated the empire’s next conquest. Even a leisurely lunch is served with a side of antiquity: take a seat in a street-side café, nestled between treasured architecture and framed by a backdrop of fabled hills and monoliths. A journey to Rome doesn’t just take you to one of Europe’s famed capitals, you see – it transports you to its very beginnings, for a close-up glimpse of living history.
68 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
rome | italy
WHeRe to eat 2 1
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: The Trevi Fountain; Colosseum; The Via Condotti as seen from the Spanish Steps; Cafe della Pace in the Piazza Navona District; Pizzas in Da Francesco trattoria.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock
mUst-Dos The Colosseum (1), still standing strong after 2,000 years, was Ancient Rome’s prime entertainment venue. Here, gladiators fought in mortal combat in front of bloodthirsty crowds, and fatal tournaments were hosted in honour of the empire’s leaders. Today, the building is thrilling for its size and preservation – take a guided tour to hear tales of its violent past. The roman Forum (2) was the heart of the empire, with government buildings, courts and imperial residences. It’s in a more dishevelled state than the Colosseum, but no less impressive – spend a day wandering its walls for a perspective on the size and ambition of Ancient Rome. Villa Borghese (3) (galleriaborghese.it) is a painstakinglyrestored 16th-century villa, with 148 acres of tranquil gardens. The site offers welcome respite from the tourist throngs at the city’s more ancient attractions, and the orangery is home to a charming contemporary art museum – an excellent place for a post-picnic stroll. The Trevi Fountain (4) fills almost an entire piazza, a majestic tribute to the vision and achievements of Ancient Rome. The baroque sculpture depicts Neptune’s chariot being led by Tritons on sea horses, and the foaming waters are pumped from the aqua virgo, an underground aqueduct that is over 2,000 years old. Throw a coin
effect. You’ll find it in the history-rich Villa Agrippina, an ancient empress’s residence – an impressive backdrop, whether you’re checking in to a city-view suite or a sumptuous apartment with private garden. Jumeirah Grand Hotel Via Veneto (10) (jumeirah.com) places you at the heart of the city, with the Trevi Fountain and Villa Borghese gardens just a few minutes’ walk away. To soothe aching muscles after a day’s explorations, head to the serene AQVA City Spa – the only retreat in Rome to stock the exclusive Bvlgari Skincare range.
into the water for good fortune – and try to avoid the jostling mid-day crowds. Palazzo Altemps (5) (coopculture.it), part of the National Museum of Rome, boasts a peerless collection of classical sculpture. Look out for the 5th-century carved marble throne, early Roman friezes, and frescoes that date back to the 16th century. Il Vittoriano (6) cuts a startlingly modern figure among Rome’s antiquities. The towering monument to united Italy offers an alternative view of the city’s treasures, however: a lift will whisk you to the upper terraces for a bird’s eye panorama – and visibility is up to 30 kilometres on a clear day. Via Condotti (7) is the place to sample Italian shopping at its finest. This well-heeled strip is home to the likes of Gianni Bravo, Bruno Magli and Giorgio Armani – modern additions to the city’s heaving trove of ancient treasures. Teatro Dell’opera Di roma (8) (operaroma.it) is the definitive place to wrap-up a day’s explorations in style. Don your evening gloves or dinner jacket and commandeer a stage-side box: performances here include concerts, operas and ballet – and even the theatre’s intricate interior is a masterpiece in itself.
WHeRe to staY The Gran meliá rome Hotel (9) (granmeliarome.com) combines worldly charm with Italian hospitality, to great
La Gatta mangiona (11) (06 534 6702) is one of the finest pizzerias in Rome – no mean feat in a city where Italy’s most famous fare can be found on every corner. Toppings are decidedly gourmet – think pachino tomato and buffalo mozzarella – and the choice of pasta and salads is vast, but leave room for the eatery’s fabled coffee mousse. osteria Barberini (12) (06 474 3325) offers traditional Italian dishes galore, but it’s famed for its adventurous array of truffle-based fare. A low-key but charming venue – and booking is essential.
Rome’s best... Piazzas Piazza del Popolo At the end of the ancient via Flamina, this neo-classical square was constructed by local architect Giuseppe Valadier in the 19th century – and counts a genuine Egyptian obelisk among its centrepieces.
Piazza Venezia Situated opposite the Palazzo Venezia, this 15th-century plaza is adorned with ornate marble sculptures and original artwork at every turn.
Piazza Navona A baroque treasure in its own right, Navona boasts an elegant gathering of no fewer than three fountains, plus a delightful medley of cafés and stalls.
January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 69
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January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 71
KempinSKi hoTel & reSidenceS palm jumeirah
Between its world-famous setting on Dubai’s palm-shaped isle, its glowing emerald domes and that pink stretch of sky, it’s easy to feel as though you’ve entered fairytale environs when staying in the penthouse suite of the Kempinski Hotel & Residences Palm Jumeirah. Its spacious terrace is the four-bedroom abode’s crowning glory, presenting a prime spot from which to survey your sparkling surrounds: make sure to drink-in the sight of the glistening Arabian 72 January 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
sea, or pull up a pew for an authentic feast with friends. Its grandiose stonework gives a nod to the lavish decorative features to be found inside too. Head behind its glass doors and you’ll find top-to-toe glamour: gold finishes unravel at every turn, furnishings are fit for a queen and jewelled chandeliers are the icing on the cake. In short, you’ll feel as though you’re spending your nights in a French royal residence. kempinski.com