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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE

JUNE 2012

Have a whale of a time in the Azores

Estonia

The fairy-tale charm of Europe’s magical land Produced in International Media Production Zone

Smiles Better

Bangkok comes of age in the style stakes

The best places to take the kids this summer...

Oman

The coolest address in the Gulf

WIN

A stay at Abu Dhabi’s latest luxury hotel

Hawaii Celebrating one century since the birth of surf


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The UEFA EURO 2012™ official logo is protected by trademarks, copyright and/or design. All rights reserved.

National Stores Showrooms: Abu Dhabi (Khalifa St) T: 02 6222437 • Dubai Mall T: 04 3399171 Mirdiff City Centre T: 04 2843312 • • Bur Dubai T: 04 3536074 • Deira T: 04 2280870 • Sharjah City Centre T: 06 5330001


KANOO WORLD TRAVELLER JUNE 2012

CONTENTS TRAVEL BITES 05 CHECK IN

The latest hotel news and travel tips from around the the world.

12 COMPETITION

Win a sumptuous city break and dinner at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche.

15 WHERE TO EAT

62

Head to New York, home of some of the world’s most eclectic dining options.

16 PICTURE THIS

A stand-out snapshot of the limestone hills in China’s isolated Yunnan Province.

19 ESSENTIAL SELECTION

Travelling with little ones in tow? Check out one of these family-friendly picks.

74 VISIT: ZAGREB

Quirky museums and dinky boutiques abound in Croatia’s ancient capital.

76 VISIT: MONTRÉAL

Head to this francophone city for al fresco adventures and cultural treasure.

80 SUITE DREAMS

Escape to a Jumeirah Vittaveli Beach Suite – a magical Maldivian retreat...

33

42

FEATURES 33 BANGKOK With luxury digs and a leafy paradise on its doorstep, Bangkok deserves more than just a two-day stop-over.

42 HAWAII

Learn to surf on this idyllic isle and you’ll be in good company – even the former king of England gave it a go.

50 ESTONIA

Discover fairytale castles and walk on water in the icy climes of Estonia.

58 OMAN

Thought the Sultanate only had sand and camels to offer? Think again...

62 AZORES

Delve into the waters of this archipelago for some world-class whale-watching.

On the cover: Surfer riding on a break in Waimea Bay; Corbis / Arabian Eye.

50

58

Managing Director: Victoria Hazell-Thatcher

Group Editor: Laura Binder

Production Manager: Haneef Abdul

Publishing Director: John Thatcher

laura@hotmediapublishing.com

Senior Advertisement Manager:

Advertisement Director: Chris Capstick

Sub Editor: Hazel Plush

Stefanie Morgner

chris@hotmediapublishing.com

hazel@hotmediapublishing.com

stefanie@hotmediapublishing.com

+971 4 369 0917

Designers: Adam Sneade, Vanessa Arnaud

+971 4 446 1558

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.

Jun-Dec 2011 23,120 BPA Consumer Audit Produced by: HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 3


CHECK IN | NEWS

CHECK IN

BE INFORMED, BE INSPIRED, BE THERE

UK

BULGARI HOTEL & RESIDENCES General manager Sylvain Ercoli uncovers the layers behind a new design gem from the jewellery masters – nestled in the heart of exclusive Knightsbridge There are a number of key features that distinguish the Bulgari Hotel: its exclusive location in Knightsbridge, the fact that it’s the only luxury new build hotel in central London for over 40 years... and its decorative silver design motifs.

Bulgari Hotels & Resorts targets upscale, sophisticated and discerning travellers who are seeking a luxury experience in an exclusive and intimate yet glamorous setting. Bulgari appeals to the traveller who seeks a luxury experience in a contemporary style.

The silver theme influences the design of all public spaces, referencing Bulgari’s heritage in silversmithing, as well as London’s silversmithing history.

We have fewer guest rooms than other luxury hotels so that we can increase the quality of the guests’ experience. This enables our hotels to offer the world-class personalised service that is always expected from Bulgari.

Bulgari branding has been kept very discreet, as we want the style to be intrinsic in the design. Some items will be branded, such as the Bulgari Hotel Line au Thé Vert available in the bathrooms. The Bulgari Hotel is timeless in design – our hotels [its sister properties can be found in Bali and Milan] feature contemporary Italian furniture and details exclusively designed to express superior Italian craftsmanship creating a very luxurious environment, regardless of any trend. In this sense our hotels are timeless in design, just like our jewels are.

Best of the rest… If you ask KWT, the hotel’s spa is a must-do; it’s an onyx teal and stone-crafted haven that stretches over two floors, the highlight of which is a glistening green and gold mosaic swimming pool. What’s more, there’s a trio of pursuits come nightfall: Il Bar is the spot to socialise; Il Ristorante is the place to dine on authentic Italian fare (to reach it you descend a silver staircase), while the hotel’s screening room offers up a choice of 500 films. Open for reservations now, bulgarihotels.com

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 5


UK

Going for Gold A handful of London hotels are on their marks to open for the 2012 Olympics. KWT awards the city’s rising stars…

In London this month? Toast the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee with one of these hotel packages – a right royal time guaranteed… True Royalist Corinthia Hotel’s Ultimate Jubilee package, £9,900 Splurge your sterling with a stay in a decadent River Suite and gourmand-friendly package that includes an English breakfast, afternoon tea and three-course feast in Massimo restaurant (complete with oyster bar). On June 3 you’ll tuck into a Jubilee brunch at The Northall, just save some energy for a private tour of the Crown Jewels.

GOLD: ME London, Holborn Opening: Mid-July Set inside the Grade II listed Marconi House, ME London is set to join the capital’s fivestar heavyweights The Savoy and Somerset House on the Strand. Portland stone and glass extensions make it a vision of contemporary design, while the highlight has to be its rooftop lounge (pictured) – vistas unravel across the Thames. Go all out by reserving its two-storey suite, set inside the building’s dramatic glass turret (note its stunning 360-degree London views). me-by-melia.com

SILVER: Café Royal, Regent Street Opening: June This hotel is worth a stay for pure heritage and star-studded guests alone. Open in 1865, its hey day saw the likes of Oscar Wilde and latter-day rocker David Bowie (who hosted his retirement party here in the glitter-ridden disco days of 1973) walk through its doors. This month it reopens with 159 rooms, a spa (the ideal place to chill out after a busy day at the Olympic Games) and a bevy of eateries – don’t bypass the Grill Room, the hotel’s culinary gem. hotelcaferoyal.com

SEE YOU AT THE FINISH LINE… The Wellesley, Knightsbridge Opening: November Ok, so it won’t be open in time for the Olympics, but KWT has high hopes for the grand reveal of The Wellesley later this year. One for luxury-seekers, 6 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

BRONZE: Dorset Square Hotel, Marylebone Opening: June Those already familiar with the super-stylish Firmdale Hotel Group (The Soho Hotel, Covent Garden Hotel, Haymarket Hotel…) will be raring to check-in to its latest project. First purchased in 1985 by the group’s owners (Tim and Kit Kemp), they sold it in 2002 only to re-purchase it and open in time for the Olympics. Plus points go to the Regency townhouse’s Kit Kemp interiors – eclectic, brightly-coloured and seriously swanky. firmdalehotels.com

the all-suite hotel will exude a modern Art Deco-style throughout and, for the social butterflies among you, a hip Jazz Room, cool Cigar Lounge and mocktailtoting Crystal Lounge. We’re counting down the days...

Feeling patriotic 51 Buckingham Gate, £1,149 Snap up a two-night stay in this famous five-star hotel along with a Royal afternoon tea for two (try the Earl Grey tea), as well as tickets to watch the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant (with VIP seats and picnic) and exclusive Diamond Jubilee gifts too… Counting the pennies Brown’s Hotel, £495 Brown’s Hotel may be set in exclusive Mayfair but the 1837 establishment is offering a value-for-money two-night stay with tea for two, welcome bubbly and stacks of themed treats (a copy of Our Queen by Robert Hardman among them) plus an appointment at Garrard – the oldest jewellery house in the world. Splendid.


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JAPAN

TOKYO THROUGH A LENS

If you’re planning a trip to the Japanese capital, check out World Film Locations: Tokyo, a silver-screen guide to the city out this month ($18, intellectbooks.co.uk) KWT spotlights the top trio of flicks to watch before you go… Lost in Translation Two travellers (Bill Murray, Scarlett Johansson) spark an unlikely friendship in Tokyo’s karaoke bars and jam-packed streets. Fantastic skyline views will make you want to go today – though we can’t guarantee you’ll bump into Scarlett...

Tokyo Story Released in 1953 and directed by the great Yasujiro Ozu, this is an unmissable tale of post-war life in the city – featuring gorgeous interior shots of the era’s architecture and with subtle plot twists throughout, it’s sure to get you in the mood.

Tokyo Sonata For a darker look at life in modern-day Japan, this Billy Elliot-style tale charts a young musician’s rise to fame against the odds and offers a powerful glimpse of Tokyo’s grittier side (perhaps best avoided on your holidays).

App Happy Travelling with kids in tow? Download one of these iPhone and iPad apps and keep them quiet for hours… Fish School This nifty app helps little ones to learn the alphabet and identify numbers, shapes and colours – it’s all about basic visual development (great for tots). Bright colours, playful music and mini activities will keep them busy in the car or on a plane. Price: $1.99 Draw and Tell If you have a budding artist in your midst, they can draw and colour-in pictures using virtual crayons, paint brushes and coloured pencils. They can even make audio recordings and send them to their grandparents or friends at home – postcards with a difference! Price: $1.99.

GLOBAL

Monkey Preschool Lunchbox

New for June

KWT highlights the finest features of global hotels opening this month

Anantara Sanya Resort & Spa The setting: Nestled between lush mountains and the South China Sea, retreats here make for truly scenic stays in your own little oasis. 8 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

SLS South Beach, Miami The style: Dating back to 1939, hipsters will flock here for the revived Philippe Starck-designed rooms and penthouse created by pop star Lenny Kravitz.

La Suite West, London The convenience: If you’re in town just for the night this new bolthole serves up boutique style and location without a hefty price tag.

Educational and fun, this jungle-themed number helps kids brush up on their colours, letters, shapes and sizes – the app can even say the object aloud to help them read and connect meanings. (Best if you’re not sitting next to a stranger…) Price: $.99


GLOBAL

Be a sport

Whether you love the thrill of the chase or an on-pitch battle between nations, head to Europe for a month of nail-biting fixtures Royal Ascot

Euro 2012

UK, 19-23 June With a history spanning over 250 years and the Royal Family in attendance throughout, this is a true British institution. You’ll find the finest equines and upper-class crowds at the fixtures – and plenty of famous faces to spot between races. Where to stay: Crazy Bear in leafy Buckinghamshire is oh-so handy, and a quick hop from London. Its bedrooms have to be seen to be believed – we adore the gold trimmings and heavenly deep copper baths. crazybeargroup.co.uk Before you leave: Visit Windsor Castle, home to Her Majesty herself. It’s just down the road, where you’ll also find the glorious Windsor Great Park. If you’re lucky you’ll spot inquisitive deer and the occasional royal – so why not pack a picnic and dine on the greens?

Wimbledon Championships UK, 25 June-8 July The Wimbledon courts have hosted the world’s greatest tennis players for over 125 years: this is the UK’s time to shine in the tennis stakes. Join the masses on Murray Mount (where the Scot’s fanbase camped out during last year’s semi final), or grab a bowl of strawberries on centre court. Where to stay: Cannizaro House, set in 34 acres of parkland, has a sumptuous array of rooms and suites. Better still, during the tennis they’re offering transport to and from the site. cannizarohouse.com Before you leave: Go to Wimbledon Lawn Museum which holds fascinating knick-knacks from the sport’s history, as well as footage of the tournament’s key moments.

10 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Poland & Ukraine, 8 June-1 July One of the toughest prizes to bag in football, the European Championship is sure to spark fireworks this year. Will Germany steal Spain’s crown? Or will the underdogs come up trumps à la Greece at Euro 2004? It’s dramatic stuff, guaranteed to move the whole continent to the edge of their seats. Where to stay: Mamaison Hotel Le Regina Warsaw is a cosy boutique hotel tucked away in the historic Mokrowski Palace. But be quick – with only 60 rooms and a sanctuary spa, this city centre haven is sure to book up fast. mamaison.com Before you leave: Explore Royal Bath Park, the largest green space in Warsaw, with 75 hectares of gardens. Explore Łazienki Palace, a 16th-century royal residence, or hold a 5-a-side tournament in the park.

Tour de France France, 30 June-22 July Covering 3,479 kilometres of mountainous terrain, this championship brings elite cyclists to France from all over the world. The route passes through the Pyrenees, Alps, Jura and Vosges ranges, and hops along the south coast before its Paris finale. Where to stay: Hotel Bassano is a stone’s throw from Paris’s Avenue des Champs Elysées, perfectly-placed for watching the winning team cross the finish line. hotel-bassano.com Before you leave: Witness the final sprint through Paris which falls on a weekend – as does the open-air Paris Jazz Festival, which attracts big-name musicians to the capital from all over the world. A must-see.


More space to be yourself... Space, luxury, privacy. Each of our wonderfully stylish suites, penthouses and villas offers the ultimate in exclusivity, bringing a touch of European flair to Dubai, for you and your family. We were pleased to be presented with two awards at the recent World Travel Awards, including Middle East’s Leading Penthouse.

Some secrets are too good to keep. www.kempinski.com/palmjumeirah

T +971 4 444 2000


HOT OFFERS GLOBAL

Excess Baggage

WIN a night at Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche

This new hotel has all you need for a top city break...

Selfridges’ new luggage hall presents bags of opportunity to travel in style

THE PRIZE

There’s no excuse to fly home from the Big Smoke with shoddy baggage – Selfridges’ new luggage space brings a head-turning array of brands to the fore, with something for virtually every jet setter. Classic lady or gent? You can’t beat its vintage-inspired, leather bound Streamline range. Modern man or woman? Its cabin and stowaway collections have classic pieces that won’t date. But KWT has its eye on the limited-edition postcard designs by Jeremy Scott for Longchamp – perfect for impromptu city breaks.

12 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

With its Art Deco-style design and top-notch location, Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche is one of the city’s hottest hotels. It’s one of the newest, too – it opened just last year. Step inside for cutting-edge style and unbridled comfort... All rooms and suites have views of the city, and blend Oriental and French influences by design agency WA International. In need of some R&R? Visit So SPA for five treatment rooms, hammams, a sauna and a steam room. Dinner in Silk & Spice is a real feast for the senses. The menu is brimming with Thai-inspired treats, served with glittering vistas of the Corniche. Night owls should head to Jazz’N Fizz Bar, which hosts live entertainment and music until the small hours. sofitel.com

One complimentary night in a superior room for two people, inclusive of breakfast and a meal at Silk & Spice. For a chance to win, email easywin@hotmediapublishing.com with your answer before June 30, 2012. Q. When did Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche open? a) 2009 b) 2010 c) 2011 TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Valid until November 30 2012. Reservation to be made on +971 2 813 7777 and voucher to be presented upon arrival. Prize is nontransferable, and must be taken within six months. Subject to availability in the hotel and the restaurant. Prize is not exchangeable for cash.


STAY LONGER THIS SUMMER AT DUBAI MARRIOTT HOTELS

Escape to Dubai and extend your stay! For the perfect family holiday, kids eat free. Book your stay using Promotional Code: SUM

JW Marriott Hotel Dubai jwmarriottdubai.com T: +971 4 262 4444

Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites dubaimarriottharbourhotel.com T: +971 4 319 4000

Courtyard by Marriott Dubai Green Community cydubaigreencommunity.com T: +971 4 885 2222

Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek marriottdubaicreek.com T: +971 4 213 1000

Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Green Community meadubaigreencommunity.com T: +971 4 885 2222

Stay 4 nights for the price of 3. A haven of elegance and impeccable service, the JW Marriott Hotel Dubai offers a variety of suites and rooms, along with 10 restaurants to indulge in.

Stay 5 nights for the price of 4. At the heart of Dubai Marina, with superb views across Palm Jumeirah, Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites is a chic, urban hot spot.

Stay 4 nights for the price of 3. Located amidst a crystal blue lake, the hotel offers an unprecedented level of accommodation, unique dining options and impeccable personalised service.

Stay 7 nights for the price of 5. Overlooking downtown and the serene Dubai Creek, you will experience 5 star service, hospitality and warmth at Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek.

Stay 7 nights for the price of 5. Surrounded by picturesque parkland, explore an oasis of serenity away from the bustling city at Green Community.

These offers are valid from 17th May - 18th August, 2012. Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites is valid from 3rd May - 15th August, 2012. Kids under the age of 12 eat for free. JW Marriott Hotel Dubai offer includes Executive rooms and Suites only. Marriott Executive Apartments Dubai Creek offer excludes 3 bedroom apartments. For full terms and conditions on the summer promotions, please visit www.marriott.com/dubai. All offers are subject to availability. Š 2012 Marriott International, Inc.


THE ESSENCE OF MALDIVES. THE SOUL OF SERENITY.

Lagoon Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Beach Villas at Jumeirah Vittaveli

Ocean Revives at Jumeirah Dhevanafushi

Be spoiled for choice with two exceptional island resorts in the Indian Ocean. Escape to the enchantingly sublime Jumeirah Dhevanafushi, a secret hideaway on the southern end of the rich Maldivian landscape. Or stimulate your senses at Jumeirah Vittaveli, perfect for an indulgent stay with family and friends. Whichever you choose, the experience will be unique and magically unforgettable.

Book our special summer packages starting from just USD 875. For more information, please visit Jumeirah.com/Maldives or contact your local travel agent.


CHECK IN | WHERE TO EAT

WHERE TO EAT...

NEW YORK

Whether you’re hungry for an organic grill with show-stopping views or a bustling Italian kitchen, the Big Apple has a treat for your tastebuds...

START

Location

OR OR

See

Be seen

OR

Atmosphere

Scrub up

OR

Dug up

Eleven Madison Park

Aldea

elevenmadisonpark.com

aldearestaurant.com

No trip to high-end shopping haven Madison Avenue would be complete without a stop to refuel at this elegant eatery. The four-course dining experience is perfect for an indulgent lunch or dinner, and the ambitious tasting menu is brimming with delicious seasonal ingredients.

Land

OR

With endlessly chic styling and an equally irresistable menu, this luxury restaurant is a true NYC hotspot. We love the Spanish-inspired menu, created by Iberian Chef George Mendes – order quirky bites like sea urchin toast and foie gras with fig jam for a dinner to remember.

Sea

Up top

OR

Down below

Osteria Morini

The John Dory Oyster Bar

Bell Book & Candle

Riverpark

osteriamorini.com

thejohndory.com

bbandcnyc.com

riverparknyc.com

This charming Italian eatery is a favourite with locals and critics alike. The Bologna-style specials taste even more authentic in the original 16th-century décor.

This is the place to head for top-notch seafood, and the chef’s table places you in the kitchen, the heart of the action. Don’t miss the juicy razor clams.

The menu at this hip hangout is all about sustainable and responsible ingredients – ask to see the roof-top veggie garden which boasts city views.

As if the line-up of freshlysourced organic greens and meat wasn’t enough, the riverside vistas down on the dining terrace are breathtaking. June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 15


PICTURE THIS

YUNNAN PROVINCE China

China is the world’s largest producer of rapeseed, but few fields are as spectacular as these. The forested limestone hills of Yunnan Province throw dark shadows over the flowering crop, leafy giants towering over a near-neon blanket. Bordered by Tibet, Sichuan, Burma, Laos and Vietnam, Yunnan is one of China’s most ethnically-diverse regions – this mountainous wonderland is home to over 25 cultures, each with their own distinct languages, traditions and brightlyfringed costumes. Their wild neighbours are just as colourful: Yunnan golden monkeys swing from the trees, over wide-eyed red pandas and fiercely-protected populations of tigers and elephants. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye


KANOO WORLD TRAVELLER | SPECIAL PROMOTION

POSTCARDS FROM PARADISE Find your own private island idyll at the beautiful Baros Maldives – with average June temperatures a gorgeous 30°C, it’s the perfect summer getaway

BEST OF BAROS Explore the island through these unique excursions Nooma Sunset Cruise Head out into the sunset on a private dhoni - a traditional Maldivian sailing boat - for a romantic dinner cruise for two, with canapes and grape served onboard by a personal waiter as you watch the sun slip into the ocean. The ultimate in intimate luxury.

N

estled in the glistening waters of the Indian Ocean, Baros Maldives is a true slice of paradise. In this award-winning boutique bolt-hole, discover your very own coral-fringed hideaway with shady tropical gardens and white sands stretching out into crystal-clear waters… This naturally-formed private island is accessible only by sea, and a luxury speedboat will whisk you from Malé International Airport to the resort in just 25 minutes – a fabulous introduction 18 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

to the sumptuous seclusion and romance that awaits. Once there, with only swaying palms and discreet staff for company, you’ll feel like the only soul on the island. It’s dotted with just 75 villas – each with direct access to the beach and leafy outside areas – the most exclusive of which is The Residence – voted the Indian Ocean’s best for four years in a row. Here you’ll find a private pool, luscious walled garden (with a chic shisha area), a 24/7 on-call butler, and a truly elegant living space. Equally

desirable are the Premium Pool Villas, which offer the ultimate in private luxury, while the Water Villas - perched on stilts atop the turquoise water - boast individual sun decks and unbroken ocean views. The luxurious Spa provides instant rejuvenation, with treatments specially designed for couples, or opt for a breathtaking dolphin watching cruise at dusk. Whatever you choose to do at this unique tropical sanctuary, Baros Maldives excels in caring personal attention to meet your desires. www.baros.com

Reef diving & Snorkelling The coral surrounding the island is teeming with colourful life - perfect for snorkelling with beautiful housereef only 20 metres from the shore. What’s more, numerous protected dive sites can be reached from the shores in just 50 minutes. Explore the glorious depths on PADI-certified courses and excursions, perfect for beginners and experienced divers alike. Sandbank dinner Take a short, private cruise to your own desert island and dine on a sumptuous meal for two, with your own personal chef and waiter, for a starlit evening of secluded romance.


ESSENTIAL SELECTION | KID-FRIENDLY GETAWAYS

ESSENTIAL SELECTION

12 Kid-friendly Getaways Travelling with children can be a disaster or a delight – Laura Binder rounds up the retreats that your little monkeys will love as much as you…

1

Giraffe Manor, Kenya

thesafaricollection.com Animal lovers will hardly be able to contain their excitement at this colonial manor house where giraffes roam the grounds like horses in a paddock. If it sounds unreal, it is. Breakfast time is the best hour of the day here, when the whole family can gather together to tuck into fresh fare as the resident giraffes poke their long necks and dainty heads through the window – feed them by hand or even kiss them (be warned, their tongues are long, grey and wet!) A spellbinding experience at any age.

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 19


ESSENTIAL SELECTION | KID-FRIENDLY GETAWAYS

2

Angsana Velavaru, Maldives

angsana.com Hop on a seaplane (the kids will love it) and within 40 minutes you’ll be touching down on the remote South Nilandhe Atoll. It’s the stuff that dreams are made of: turquoise waters shimmer with multi-coloured flurries of fish while the sand beneath your toes is cottonwhite. While parents kick back and relax in this little slice of paradise, more active family members can make a beeline for nearby dive sites (the snorkelling and scuba diving is among the best in the world here), smaller siblings can take part in mini-adventure snorkelling safaris (they can even plant their own corals), and all of you can learn about the island’s endangered turtle species at the onsite Marine Lab.

3

Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Thailand

fourseasons.com If a spa break is your idea of heaven, the All About Me package at Four Seasons Koh Samui is the perfect excuse to indulge yourself – and your kids. Built upon a former coconut farm, the resort peppers thatched-roofed, familysized villas across the hillsides while, below, little ones can get their kicks playing at being pirates and mermaids on its private beach. Best of all, though, are the standout spa’s all-natural treatments where 6 to 11-year-olds can be pampered and preened (while you make the most of the adults’ menu). An Island Princess Manicure will have little girls grinning from ear-to-ear, while a Happy Smile Facial is great for self-conscious teens. June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 21


C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY

CMY

K

4

The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands

ritzcarlton.com Kids from four to 18 will be in their element at The Ritz-Carlton Grand Cayman – just be sure to nab them a spot on its Ambassadors 22 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

of the Environment scheme. A place earns them aquatic adventures, from skimming the ocean on a two-person pontoon to learning all about the fascinating ways of the resident sea turtles – and, for the really curious, even sinking below the surface in the resort’s very

own submarine – yes, really. Atlantis XI delves some 100ft, where they’ll be privy to the colourful underwater reefs (it’s just like The Little Mermaid). And for the adults, well, you have the famous Seven Mile Beach to lounge on, not to mention the palm-flanked pool.


5

Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort & Spa, New Mexico tamaya.hyatt.com Arrivals here always provoke a delighted gasp: 500 acres (part of a Native American Pueblo) marry rust and green hues, while grazing horses and passing chap-clad riders make you feel as though you’ve just stepped onto the set of a Western movie. Virtually all ages (from three years upwards) can make the most of the Native American-themed surrounds; the more gentile can create sand paintings and stroll along the Rio Grande River, while those with ants in their pants can rid their excess energy by horse-riding (all the better as a family) and trying their hand at Farming Friday (just one of the themed week days). End the day listening to folk tales told beneath the stars.

6

Villa San Michele, Florence

villasanmichele.com While you soak up city views from the fragrant Florentine gardens, younger guests will love getting stuck into one of the villa’s kidfriendly treats. Chef Attilio di Fabrizio hosts masterclasses for little learners, and the whole clan can get creative in the cusina on a family lesson. The forest that surrounds the 15th-century 24 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

residence is great for picnics, with nibbles rustled up especially for little explorers. Fairy Alice, who lives in the enchanted woodland, might even make an appearance – perfect for special occasions. The nearby chocolate workshop and ice cream factory make for yummy excursions too, and a specially-organised treasure hunt through the city’s museums will keep inquisitive minds occupied.


7

The Royal Scotsman, Scotland

8

Phinda Mountain Lodge, South Africa

royalscotsman.com You don’t have to be train-mad to enjoy a stint on the Royal Scotsman. Step aboard the old-fashioned machine (tell kids it’s like Harry Potter’s train to Hogwarts) and you’ll find yourselves amid authentic tartan-clad décor. Just through the window, you’ll be able to drink in the awesome surrounds of pine-flanked mountains, glass-clear lochs and dense greenery – the heart of the Scottish Highlands. If you can get a group of 36 together you can charter the entire 18 berths for yourselves, stopping off for castle tours, city sights and traditional eateries. Wow restless ones in the open-deck observation carriage and sit them before a local clansman who’ll regale them with historic Scottish tales.

phinda.com Wildly-curious adventurers will quickly fall prey to the charms of this luxurious safari lodge. Set in the thick of the South African 26 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

bush, its villas boast every creature comfort a globe trotter could wish for (you’ll love the private verandahs and Flintstones-style stonecarved furniture). But little ones won’t want to stay inside for long: luckily, rangers are on hand to take them out into the bush, collecting

all manners of creepy crawlies, pods, feathers and leaves. Elsewhere, they’ll spot the Big Five (‘from a safe distance’, staff urge) and learn all about the area’s 10 Star Birds before getting delightfully mucky on frogging safaris and fishing trips.


ESSENTIAL SELECTION | KID-FRIENDLY GETAWAYS

9

The Cambrian, Switzerland

thecambrianadelboden.com Set smack bang in the Swiss Alps, this is a sure-fire way to give your kids some fresh air. If you regard yourself as a trendy parent, you’ll fall even more in love with the pinewood retreat on learning that it’s packed to the rafters with boutique style, yet is still child-friendly. Outside, it’s all about lime-green pastures, snow-dusted mountain ranges and summer blooms, so make the most of it with hikes and bike rides. Foodie families, meanwhile, should stray to Adelboden’s family bakeries and tuck into Swiss chocolates or munch away in its twee cheese shops. Back at the hotel, a hip lounge is the ideal place to relax before floor-to-ceiling windows, while next door at the restaurant kids learn how to make mocktails. That should keep them quiet...

10

Beluga, Croatia

dalmatiandestinations.com Teenagers can be the trickiest to impress, but few can fail to be awed by setting sail on a private yacht for the summer months. Beluga – a Turkish gulet owned by hotelier and designer Anoushka Hulet – is a film starworthy vessel on which to do so: its sprawling deck is strewn with oversized cushions (a

prime spot for a read); its mahogany mast is too good-looking to climb; and dramatic black sails will make them feel like the coolest teen in town. An onboard crew ensures you don’t have to do all the hard work (as does a private chef from London’s Blake’s Hotel), though kids can learn a trick or two if the urge takes them. And with space for up to 18 people, why not invite a few more relatives? June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 27


11

Bovey Castle, UK

boveycastle.com If the English countryside beckons, this regal estate by Dartmoor National Park is just the place. Its 14 three-bedroom lodges are the perfect digs to call your own for the duration (they’re kitted out in chic country-style décor) and there are plenty of pursuits to keep every age entertained, from tots to teens. With rolling pea-green acres, seven- to 14-yearolds can don Hunter wellies and head to the grounds for a spot of archery, golf, camp fires or raft-building. If they have a penchant for all creatures great and small, though, ask for a guide to the estate’s resident roost of hens where they can handpick eggs – and make furrier friends with the neighbouring ferrets. And if rain falls (this is England, after all) the film library and afternoon tea treats will keep them happy.

28 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


12

Amanwana, Indonesia

amanresorts.com If camping is high on your offspring’s agenda, why not go one step further with a spot of ‘glamping’? Amanwana brings new meaning to the term; immersed in the wilderness, each luxury ‘tent’ (they’re more like standout suites) boasts billowing ceilings, four-poster beds and marble sinks. Set foot outside, and little ones will delight in the sight of gentle indigenous deer who nibble at the grass and bound by with Bambi-like grace. Kids will be wide-eyed at the options for free time: they can perch on the jetty and feed the fish, create birds made from coconut leafs, braid their hair with the help of a spa therapist... For bigger kids (and adults), meanwhile, jungle-themed activities mean you can do anything from dipping in waterfalls in the heart of the forest to spending the day on a secluded beach armed with a picnic and snorkel, or watching a film beneath the stars. 30 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


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CAPITAL VENTURES | THAILAND

Capital Ventures Fashionable Hi-Sos, design hotels, beachside escapes and cheap-as-chips cuisine: a swift stop-over no longer cuts it in Bangkok – just ask Laura Binder...

I

admit it: I’ve become a five-star-only traveller, banishing my backpacking days to my early twenties when running water and a flushing toilet constituted good hotel facilities. Which is why the prospect of spending a week in Bangkok, a backpackers’ haven, didn’t have me jumping for joy. “I don’t really do hostels,” I ventured to my sister – a fully-fledged Bangkok expat. “It’s a good job Sofitel So Bangkok has just opened then, isn’t it?” she scoffed. That should do it, I thought…

Touching down in the Thai capital was a sensory overload: humid air clung to my skin; honking horns played on my eardrums; and an explosion of colour erupted in a long line of hot pink, lime green and acid yellow taxis – kids would think they’d arrived at a concrete fairground. After bundling into one of them (hot pink, of course), my cabbie’s eager nodding assured me he had some idea of where we were headed, leaving me to sit back and drink in the surrounds. After all, up

until now, for me (and many others) Bangkok had served as little more than a stopover en route to more exotic islets; Koh Samui, Phuket, Koh Samet… Not this time, though. This time I was ready for bustling Bangkok – neon lights, street food and… er… a five-star hotel. I couldn’t have timed it better: Sofitel So Bangkok had been causing ripples on the travel circuit as an urban design gem amidst a throng of more traditional Thai resorts. And with ‘head stylist’ Christian Lacroix behind its June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 33


Opening page: HI-SO, Sofitel So Bangkok. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Traffic in the city; Night market food stall; Park lobby, Sofitel So Bangkok; A tuk tuk takes on the city traffic; A Bangkok street market.

aesthetics, it was proving kryptonite for the fashion jet set. (“The staff makes the place look like a permanent catwalk,” my sister promised). After a knuckle-whitening drive along the city’s main artery – Sukhumvit Road – the heat, noise and traffic merged with clusters of grey skyscrapers. ‘Land of a Thousand Smiles’, a welcome billboard declared (even my taxi driver had been smiling like a Cheshire cat, despite the fact neither of us understood a word the other said). Within moments I was tripping out of the cab, and two mammoth black granite doors parted before me as if by magic. I stepped inside, feeling like I’d just earned access to a secret members-only club.

“Sawasdee,” greeted a model-like hostess, porcelain palms pressed together and head lightly bowed. She was dressed in one of those uniforms: an explosion of floral and bird prints danced on her haute couture-style tailoring. Inside, each elements-themed floor had harvested the skills of Thailand’s top interior talent, and quirky touches cropped up at every turn – my personal favourite, a white furry llama with a sequined skull, being a case in point. It was top-to-toe cool. I gazed through floor-to-ceiling windows, out across the broccoli-headed Lumpini Park (Bangkok’s answer to Central Park). This, I thought, is the way to do Bangkok. And I’m not the only one – sipping one of an arm-length list of drinks on the hotel’s HI-SO rooftop lounge, my sister and I scanned an eclectic bunch of revellers, from cutting-edge businessmen to style-conscious tourists and the crème de la crème of Thai high society. “It’s already become a real hotspot for the Thai elite,” affirmed a hostess. “The hotel’s design style has really brought something different to the city.” As if on cue, a gaggle of namesake ‘Hi-Sos’ (high society) tottered by: milky-skinned, wide-eyed, rose bud-mouthed and sporting footwear fit for

a Jimmy Choo ad campaign. It’s an image that’s a far cry from the affectionate Bangkok stereotype: a good-time city throbbing with frenetic sois (alleyways), stag dos, flashing neon lights, pungent smells, street food and young women draped over the arms of aging farangs (foreigners). Though, of course, the city’s fast-living side is alive and well for those who seek it – as our night time strolls around its buzzing streets revealed. Nearby Soi 11 is an uninterrupted haze of lounges, clubs and eateries teaming with expats and Thai middleand upper-classes. “To experience Bangkok’s craziness by day, Chatuchak is the place to go,” my sister said the next morning. So, despite the thick blobs of rain plonking from moody grey clouds (the onset of June’s rainy season), we made for the weekend market – a market you need a map to navigate. This is a place where labyrinthine stalls are headed by cat-calling Thais, where pungent aromas fill your nostrils (whether you like it or not) and where we browsed a startling array of goods, from clothes to pottery to food to books to toys to puppies (dehydrated ones at that). We stopped only to slurp super-cheap noodles after working up an appetite at minimal expense (“Who can

‘Floor-to-ceiling windows and a seamless infinity pool overlooked the broccoli-headed Lumpini Park – Bangkok’s answer to Central Park’

34 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


CAPITAL VENTURES | THAILAND

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 35


be bothered to barter,” I said, etiquette clearly broken, “when a boutique-worthy buy is $5?”) The next mission was for me to taste ‘true’ Thai food. “You can’t order that again,” my sister said as I perused the steak options at the hotel’s Red Oven restaurant (there you can dine beneath lampshades from which cutlery dangles like jewels on a chandelier – design heaven!) Swapping brown leather chairs for plastic orange ones, Suda Restaurant’s tables spilt out onto the pavement – with not an empty

36 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

seat in sight. Despite my aversion to clammy plastic pews, its owner – a 70-something Thai with conker-brown skin and a charming, deeply-lined face – won me over with a toothless smile. What followed was nothing short of a feast. We were treated to a thick and fast stream of steaming Morning Glory (green vegetables in oyster, chili and garlic sauce), a mass of Pad Thai bursting with fat shrimp; and Pad Sew Ew (thick noodles) with plump poultry – all cooked by the owner’s family, at a cost of around $6 dollars each.


CAPITAL VENTURES | THAILAND

“I’m wilting,” I confessed after a third day of traversing throbbing sois. “Where does a girl go to get a break from the city?” “Other than the hotel’s infinity pool?” my sister said, smirking. (See it and you’d be tempted too.) Surprisingly, the answer came in pea-green form: Bangkok, it seems, is home to a fleet of lesser-known parks where patches of verdant green serve as sanctuaries from the concrete jungle. At Lumpini Park, locals walked their posing chihuahuas, expats jogged, picnickers

chattered amid ponds and wooden pavilions, while the surface of a wide lake was broken by couples peddling boats shaped like swans. But, after an iced latte stop-off, my sister had grander ideas – a two-hour drive to the royal seaside town of Hua Hin. A favoured getaway of local Thais and expats, it’s where the current King Rama IX owns a beachside palace, Klai Kangwon. This, I thought, sounds like my kind of escape. King Rama VII had the right idea in the early 1920s – discovering Hua Hin as an escape from

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 37


38 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


CAPITAL VENTURES | THAILAND

sultry Bangkok, the tranquil fishing village quickly became a royal resort, peppered with palaces and a favoured playground of the Thai nobility. “Last time I made for Hua Hin it was to escape the floods,” my sister recalled as we made the drive to its sandy shores, a Thai guide, Richard, at the wheel. “The traffic was just terrible – hoards of cars, packed to their roofs with belongings. All those who could leave, that could get out, did.” Richard wasn’t so lucky, though: “I lost my home in Bangkok,” he told us in a measured tone. “I stayed in hotels in the city until the water went. I lost everything.” In true Thai spirit, he used his taxi cab to head out of the city, buy water and dispense it to those in need. “The supermarkets had no water. Crazy… crazy…” Today, though, it’s as if the floods – the abandoned cars on motorways, washed-away homes, rescue missions and traffic jams to Hua Hin – never happened. “We can’t look back,” nodded Richard, “only forwards.” One such look forward delivered a picture of seriously lush surrounds: bright green palms, brilliant blue skies (“People come here still for the sun, for the sea”), road-side carts selling fresh pineapple and flowers… all the while Bangkok’s skyscrapers were shrinking in the rear-view mirror. When we stepped out of Richard’s Fanta Orange-hued cab to Anantara Hua Hin Resort & Spa (our stop-over for the trip), the thick smog had parted and in its place was a tropical oasis hidden behind terracotta walls: huge pillars, lily pad-covered ponds, bright blooms and stone elephants marked our entrance. “Elephants – they are a symbol of royalty,” Richard told us as we parted ways. “It’s pretty much impossible not to relax here,” said my sister (though Thai public holidays are worth avoiding – everyone has the same idea). In contrast to Bangkok’s devilishly modern delights, here we were amidst traditional Thai environs: suites were dotted across the green estate, some popping up in landscaped gardens, others by the beach, and all reached by a stroll past lagoons, Thai salas, twee bridges and, to my delight, gecko-embossed pathways underfoot. After being shoulder-to-shoulder in Bangkok, the seclusion suited me just fine. We took a barefoot stroll along the resort’s beachfront – it placed us at the quietest stretch of the town’s famous powder-white sands (though mind your toes – I watched

Previous spread: Silom Area Skyline, Bangkok. These pages: Blissful Spa and Issara Cafe, Anantara Hua Hin resort. Next page: Street food stall, Bangkok.

‘The smog had parted; in its place was an oasis hidden behind terracotta walls, with lily pad-covered ponds and bright blooms’

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 39


bulbous jelly fish blob by in shallow pools). The only other life came in the form of beached guests lounging beneath thatched parasols with iced watermelon juices in hand, and a girl cantering a Palomino horse along the shore. “Manicure, pedicure, massage?” beamed a Thai woman. “I take you to spa”. Too weak to resist, we experienced a true Thai massage (expect clicks, creaks and more than the odd groan) while listening to crashing waves. Though for all-out luxury, Anansara’s spa is virtually legendary: “I feel like I’m in the Secret Garden,” marvelled my sister as we snaked our way along cobbled paths and tropical fauna to a dual treatment room. (A pair of cotton pyjamas, scented foot bath and an hour-long massage later, I don’t think I’d ever felt so supple.) 40 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Suitably spaced out, the terracotta cocoon of Anantara was almost too tempting to leave (especially after that massage), yet the town’s night market was tipped as a must-do (“It is very famous”, staff enthused). As was a jaunt about town on a tuk tuk – though nowadays such traditional rickshaws come complete with spinning disco ball, loud speakers and Disney character etchings. It’s one way to travel, I thought, face full of hair as the warm wind whooshed in from every open side. After preparing myself for another assault on the senses, the Hua Hin night market was an altogether less frenetic experience. An eye-opener for foodies, the road is fit-to-burst with street carts and garish sit-down eateries. Making like Thais (notoriously fastidious eaters), we beavered away at generous tit bits – crispy-coated crab legs; near-luminous

sweets; fried quail eggs; whole char-grilled squid on a skewer and Pad Thai whisked around a huge steel pan like candy floss, all washed down with a whole coconut’s juice, a straw and flower poking out from a hole in its head. “Sawasdee,” cooed a welcoming waitress as we spent our final night dining back at Suda Restaurant in Bangkok (so good it’s worth doing twice). Nestled on an orange plastic chair, it was impossible not to reciprocate that now-famous Thai smile. “What you want?” she asked. And it clicked: the true pleasure of Bangkok – a city that’s survived floods, that’s home to standout hotels and modest street bars, that’s a drive from a royal retreat and bursting with smiles – is that it’s a place you can do any way you please; just allow more than a day or two…

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Supplied

‘We beavered away at generous tit bits – crispy-coated crab legs; near-luminous sweets; fried quail eggs; whole char-grilled squid on a skewer and Pad Thai whisked around a huge steel pan…’


Surf’s Up Emily Dugan makes a pilgrimage to Hawaii to celebrate one century since the birth of surf‌ 42 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


SURF’S UP | HAWAII

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 43


‘At the heart of Waikiki Beach sits the Moana Surfrider hotel, where the former king of England was taught to surf’

44 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


SURF’S UP | HAWAII

O

n Honolulu’s Waikiki Beach, a man in shorts greets visitors with open arms. He is not an over-enthusiastic beach boy, or a friendly tourist-board official, but the bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing. This summer it will be 100 years since the man known to Hawaiians simply as ‘The Duke’ took home an Olympic gold medal in swimming, and decided to show the world how to surf. On his way to the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm the Duke stopped off in southern California and held packed-out surfing demonstrations for mainlanders. Others had surfed in Californian waters before him, but the already world-famous Duke brought in such crowds that he is credited with starting the Californian craze. Three years later, he carved a board from an Australian sugar pine at Freshwater, Sydney, and amazed locals by standing on it in the water. It is therefore arguably thanks to the Duke that there are now wetsuited figures bobbing in the freezing waters off Scotland and speeding into barrels in Bali. For centuries, surfing had been almost entirely the preserve of Hawaiians, whose happiness in riding the surf naked shocked visiting missionaries into banning the pastime. While other Polynesians, such as Tongans and Fijians, rode the sea on their bellies, it was in Hawaii that the art of standing on a wave was perfected. The thin beach at Waikiki probably hasn’t changed that much since the Duke set off for Stockholm, if you ignore the skyscrapers; the water still teems with outrigger canoes, surfboards and swimmers. Sitting at its heart are the marble pillars of the Moana Surfrider hotel, where the Prince of Wales (later Edward VIII) stayed in 1920 and was taught to surf by

the Duke. The grand, whitewashed ‘First Lady of Waikiki’ was the first hotel to be built here, in 1901. It has kept its imposing colonial style, with enormous corridors off the lobby to accommodate guests’ steamer trunks. It was here that I stayed before my first Waikiki surf – waking up to the sort of turquoise waves that make you want to leap out of the window and sprint for the nearest board shop. This is where the Duke learnt his art, and, having spent the past decade attempting to surf with an enthusiasm far outstripping talent, I had long been keen to make that same pilgrimage. Paddling out felt absurdly easy after Britain’s freezing waters. The sea was a bath-like 25°C – no need for blubbery layers of Neoprene. I headed for a reef break called Pops. Two hours passed so quickly that when I finally found someone with a watch and caught a wave back to shore, I only had minutes left until my afternoon stand-up paddle boarding lesson at Hans Hedemann’s surf school. Hawaii-born Hedemann represented the islands as a professional surfer in the ’80s and ’90s, and now offers stand-up paddle boarding in tandem with the original art. Waikiki claims to have invented the sport, since it was the beach boys here who are said to have first used outrigger paddles with longboards in the 1960s, to take pictures of surfing tourists. Ever since celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston were pictured, paddle in hand, its popularity has soared. “It is all about stand-up now,” Hedemann says. “It’s easier for the average visitor to try out.” It certainly looked easy enough – a bit like punting a landing craft – so I joined a group and we headed out to sea with Smiley, our enthusiastic instructor. I managed about two strokes before falling off. And manoeuvring

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 45


the board into the waves was about as simple as parallel-parking an HGV, but when I finally made it work, I rocketed towards the shore. The precursor to stand-up paddling is the outrigger canoe, several of which go out every day at Waikiki, packed with tourists. The men paddling these team canoes are the last of the Waikiki beach boys. The Duke was one of the original boys – an unofficial group of watermen who shaped the last century of Hawaii’s surf history. Their enthusiasm was responsible for the revival of the ancient sports of surfing and outrigger canoeing in the 1900s, and you can still find the same beach-boy friendliness at Waikiki in everyone from the guys renting boards on the sand to the sun-wrinkled old locals dishing out tips in the surf. While Oahu island’s Waikiki Beach may have the greater claim to surfing history, the waves that the Hawaiian islands are best known for are the ones that batter Oahu’s North Shore, which are created by stormgenerated swells in the North Pacific. At notorious breaks such as Pipeline, Sunset and Waimea Bay, professional surfers slug it out 46 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

in enormous hollow tubes, trying to escape before the towering waters – up to 50ft high – crash down. Many of these spots were considered unsurfable before the advent of shorter, lighter boards which could be manoeuvred quickly to avoid wipeout, but now even the juniors career in and out of the treacherous barrels. Still, I wasn’t tempted. If the yellow danger signs depicting surfers being chewed up by house-sized waves weren’t enough, the stories I’d read of decent amateurs trapped and drowned under the reef left me with little desire to paddle out. But I couldn’t go home without surfing the legendary North Shore, and, happily, help was at hand. Hedemann’s North Shore surf school is based at the Turtle Bay Hotel. Its surf coaches took us round the corner to a wave that, while still technically on the North Shore, was less likely to kill us. Here, the waves were just a few feet high, breaking over a sharp reef a long paddle from shore. Smashing into that reef on a few wipeouts brought home how terrifying it would be to get pinned by something 10 times the size.

Opening page: Surfer in Oahu. Previous page, clockwise from top: Aerial view of Moana Surfrider Hotel; Porte Cochere Lanai; Hotel pool. This page, clockwise from left: Paddleboarder in Oahu; Aerial view of Turtle Bay Hotel; Surfer off the coast of North Shore Oahu.


SURF’S UP | HAWAII

‘For centuries, Tongans and Fijians rode the sea on their bellies, but it was in Hawaii that the art of standing on a wave was perfected’

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 47


‘At Kahaluu Beach Park, a staggering multicoloured underwater world lies just 20 yards from the car park’

48 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


SURF’S UP | HAWAII

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Supplied Text: Emily Dugan / The Independent / Interview People

This page, clockwise from left: Onomea Falls, Hilo; Diver with tropical fish on coral reef; Duke Kahanamoku statue on Waikiki Beach; Turtle Bay Hotel pool.

While Oahu is most associated with Hawaii’s surf scene, the island of Hawaii – also known as Big Island – claims its own surf pedigree. As its nickname suggests, it is the largest on the archipelago, but it is sparsely populated, with plenty of rugged scenery to explore. Anthropologists cite Kealakekua Bay on the island’s west coast – known as Kona – as the first place where a written record of surfing was made, by one of Captain Cook’s crewmen. But breaks are tricker to find here than on Oahu. In fact, the best thing to do in the waters around the Big Island is to get under their surface – and you won’t need fancy scuba gear to see fish all the colours of an Eighties rave. At Kahaluu Beach Park, a staggering multicoloured underwater world lies just 20 yards from the car park. Succumbing to the Big Island’s laid-back ambience, I abandoned any idea of surfing and hired a VW camper to explore. Setting off from the capital, Hilo, I headed north on a four-day circuit, starting at tranquil Spencer Beach Park. Next was Kona’s Hookena Beach

Park – unspectacular, but a great starting point to explore snorkelling beaches such as Kahaluu. The best site was on the black sands of Punaluu Beach Park, where I woke to see enormous turtles sunbathing in volcanic rock pools just across from the van. Before heading back to Hilo I drove inland to visit the spectacular Kilauea, the most active of the island’s three live volcanoes. The lava wasn’t flowing, but it was exciting enough to stand by its crater, taking in the strange atmosphere of impending doom, and catching a whiff of its intoxicating mix of fireworks and rotten eggs. My last stop in Hawaii was the island of Kauai, whose most recent claim to fame is as the lush location for the film The Descendants. It’s a curious meeting of Polynesia and mid-West America; flat-roofed diners and shopping arcades straight out of the Fifties sit in front of enormous waterfalls cascading down the sides of a volcano. Here the road hugs the sea and the water is full of figures bobbing on boards. No wonder tiny Kauai is home to so many great

surfers. Laird Hamilton, pioneer of tow-in surfing, where a jet ski propels the rider into implausibly huge waves, is the best known. He grew up here, and his dad, Bill, runs the board-rental shop at Hanalei Bay. Hanalei is also home to professional surfer Bruce Irons and his brother Andy, a triple world-title winner. Andy suffered a fatal heart attack last year, and the trees by the beach are now a makeshift shrine to him. Two beaches along from Hanalei Bay is ‘Tunnels’, a surf spot where, in 2003, 13-yearold Bethany Hamilton had her arm bitten off by a tiger shark. Within three weeks she was back on a surfboard, and is now a professional – and the subject of a Hollywood film, Soul Surfer. I headed to Bill Hamilton’s shop for my final date with the Hawaiian surf, hired a longboard and paddled out into Hanalei Bay. There will be some in Hawaii who wish the Duke had never shared their secret pleasure with the world. But as I caught another long, turquoise wave into the shore I could not help feeling very glad that he did. June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 49


Magic Kingdom

Whether you're walking on water, sailing through ice or riding into the sunset, the fairy-tale charms of Estonia always shine through, says Sankha Guha

50 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


I

MAGIC KINGDOM | ESTONIA

have gate-crashed the Magic Kingdom. There is fresh snow on the ground. Every tower and parapet of Tallinn’s medieval Old Town is fringed with fairy dust. The baroque spire of the Lutheran Toomkirik points like a three-stage rocket at the ice-blue sky. A Whomping Willow is throwing scary shapes on the ivory flanks of the church. Around the next corner the onion domes of the orthodox Nevsky Cathedral are supported on pillars of ice cream. The hues are saturated, pure, sharp, clean – proto colours. There is a hallucinogenic edge to it all. Any minute now a white rabbit might come hopping down the cobbled streets, an elephant with flapping ears might glide between the dreamy spires. I wonder about the latitude and the intensity of the light. Up here on the shores of the Baltic, I reason, we might be closer to the sun. But then what’s reason got to do with anything? If logic had any rules, this small former Soviet republic in the furthest corner of north-eastern Europe should be drowning in the whirlpool of the eurozone. But it’s not like

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MAGIC KINGDOM | ESTONIA

that. Despite a brief blip when the property bubble burst and the economy went into reverse around 2008, this Baltic Tiger is back, not quite roaring, but purring nicely. The good times are rolling on. The anticipated growth figure this year is just under 2 per cent – not thrilling by the Estonian standards of the early 21st century – but George Osborne would be over the moon if he could make a similar projection. In the commercial heart of Tallinn, the Soviet-era Kaubamaja with its natty new ‘K’ logo is unrecognisable from the department store that marked its dreary communist inception – its acres of high-end retail are now as glitzy a temple to consumerism as you could hope to see on Fifth Avenue. Viru Keskus, the mall next door, is equally awash with talismanic international brands – Chanel, Armani, Swarovski, Calvin Klein – powerful enough to erase all memory of the grim old days. Following independence in 1992, the headlong rush for all things Western was perhaps inevitable. Hotelier and restaurateur Martin Breuer recalls how it used to be. “People wanted to eat exotic – they wanted to eat strange – after so many years of Soviet rule. The stranger it was, the better it was.” But over the past two decades tastes have matured into something less flashy and more indigenous. Style and quality come with an Estonian imprimatur these days.

Restaurants are finally recognising the joys of sourcing locally. The recently opened F-Hoone (F-Block) in the Kalamaja suburb keeps it simple. The restaurant is popular with the bohemian set – it is housed in a former electro-mechanical factory reputed to have turned out components that went into space in the Sputniks. The interior is an effortless mash-up of industrial chic, exposed steel joists, naked brickwork, and vibrant colour. The atmosphere is warm and open. The food is unfussy; my salmon is fresh, lightly poached and excellent value. Fashion boutiques such as Naiiv, at Pikk 33, and Nu Nordik, at VabaduseValjak 8, also suggest a new aesthetic: cosy, quirky, fun, warm, and outrageously vivid. Designer Liina Viira uses Estonian folk motifs for inspiration. Her shop, Naiiv, displays a range of knitted hats, scarves, bags and dresses. The eruption of carnival colours challenges any preconception you may have that Scandi/Nordic design is muted and minds its manners. In a similar vein, Etno.ee at Tartu Road 6 is a sign of the times – the store takes evident pride in the country’s ethnic design traditions. Folk patterns from various parts of Estonia are given a new twist and deployed to invigorate a range of household goods – cushions, kitchen stuff, lampshades. A bright yellow pair of wellies printed with folksy floral designs from the island of Muhu catch my eye partly because of their sheer exuberance and

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MAGIC KINGDOM | ESTONIA

and partly because I am headed for the island. Muhu is a two-and-a-half-hour drive west from the capital. The ferry from Virtsu to the island feels like an ice breaker – navigating a narrow channel through the frozen sea. Mini floes grind against the hull of the boat, giving the short crossing the feel of an Arctic expedition. Padaste Manor dates back to 1566, though the current structure is largely 19th-century. Framed by ash trees, the house stands out against the surrounding snow in its warming cream and terracotta livery. It was rebuilt from a ruin in 2008 by current owners Martin Breuer and Imre Sooaar, part of a long-term love affair with a property that they took on in 1996. Now it is a luxury hotel, finished tastefully in the modern idiom under the marketing tag of Simple Luxury. Gold taps and chintzy drapery are conspicuous by their absence. Stripped wooden floors, kilims and animal-skin rugs, occasional antiques and log fires set the tone for cool and cosy comfort. It’s tempting to stay indoors for the duration. Martin’s pitch for his hotel is disarming: “Nothing much happens here,” he says. “A farmer moves a cow from left to right in the morning and from right to left

in the evening, and then his day is done. There are no spectacular things – no big mountains, no waterfalls, no things which have an ‘awe’ effect.” I get his drift, but he is being unfair. The manor is located on the shoreline of the Gulf of Riga. The view stretches out from the front of the property through the grounds onto the frozen sea and onwards to some small islands. Martin is right – there are no mountains or waterfalls or wildebeest sweeping majestically across the plain. But there is plenty to awe the visitor in many subtle and magical ways. Today the sun and clouds are playing tag. The light changes by the moment – the landscape is benign one minute, sullen and menacing the next. The view is perpetually on the cusp, always rearranging itself into the next tableau. There are of course things to do, and this afternoon a horse ride in the ice and snow has been arranged. A lovely idea, in theory, if I forget the deep mutual distrust that usually characterises the relationship between horses and me. As I arrive at the stables an elf comes bounding out to greet me. This is Martin Kivisoo, the horseman of Muhu. He has a long white beard and is wearing a white

Opening page: Cityscape, seen from Toompea. This page from top: Horses on Bashang grassland; View to Padaste Manoron on a winter afternoon.

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 55


sheepish hat. For a few seconds I am not sure which way up his face is. My mount is called Racy, a gentle horse I am assured, suitable for beginners. She is part of a tough and ancient Estonian breed that can be left out in all weathers – and here that can mean -30°C for weeks at a time. Martin spends much of the ride telling me about the spirits of the forest. We dismount at a seven-way crossroads in the juniper forest. This is an auspicious spot, he explains, to honour Uku, the ancient Estonian god of the sky and the harvest. We circle a holy rock, bang it with a smaller rock and throw grains (which Martin carries in his pocket for just such eventualities) towards the west as a gift. I’m OK with all this as it means less time in the saddle. His assistant, Kati, is keen, however, that I do some riding – and keeps breaking the horses into a trot. Try as I might, I have never mastered the rhythm. The more I try, the worse it gets. The bumpity-bump is not good; not good for me, not good for the unfortunate horse. We are mercifully at the end of our ride, within yards of 56 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Supplied Text: Sankha Guha / The Independent / Interview People

‘The laws of physics have been suspended. I am in Estonia. It seems the most natural thing to walk on water’

dismounting, when Racy decides enough is enough. And tries to kill me. She shies to the right and throws me off her back. I land on my head on the crème brûlée icy crust of the snow. I am upside down with my feet still tangled in the stirrups. This is not an attractive look – luckily no photos are taken. I am removed from the vicinity of thundering hooves. Racy appears to be smirking. No damage is done, though my dignity is sorely bruised. The sunset back at the manor is dramatic. As the shallow sun begins to dip, a red blade of light travels like a laser up the grand avenue, illuminating the canopy of the barren trees and bathing the manor in an eery pink glow. Having locked on to its target, the red beam intensifies until the house looks as if it might be catching fire. Looking westwards, the heart of light is blinding, a rose-tinted halo projects around the reeds and shrubs poking through the ice. The Simple Luxury slogan seems slightly disingenuous when dinner is served. As befits the restaurant named the best in Estonia for the past two years, it is an elaborate feast for the senses. The seven-course tasting menu is calibrated to the seasons and leans on local traditions and ingredients, which can include, somewhat counterintuitively, ostrich reared on a local farm. Tonight’s medley is more traditional: courses include cod with cauliflower mousse, beetroot consommé and steak with wild mushroom sauce. Chef Peeter Pihel saves the best till last with his Muhu apurokk. It looks deceptively like cheesecake but is, in fact, his take on a local pudding made with potato and sour milk. It is served with gooey fermented birch sap and flakes of liquorice and ash meringue. The apurokk is beautiful to look at and seductive and mysterious in the mouth. In the morning, Martin Breuer marshalls his guests for a walk on the sea. We don snow shoes. Martin takes us to the edge of the shore, which is indistinguishable from the frozen sea. It’s a blazing sunny day and there are visible fissures in the surface of the ice. He reassures us by going ahead. “I weigh more than most of you, so if you follow where I tread you should be OK,” he jokes. The guests are a varied group, from Italy, Holland, Russia, Estonia and North Wales. It is an unlikely location for the tribes of Europe to be coming together. Our shadows are elongated on the glittering crystal surface. Occasionally the ice is cratered and volcanic, in other places it has thinned to a transparent lens through which we can see flowing water. We shuffle to a small island across the bay, cooing at the wonders around us in a babel of European languages. As we return I glance back and see the line of footprints we have left on the surface of the sea. The laws of physics have been suspended. I am in Estonia. It seems the most natural thing to walk on water.


MAGIC KINGDOM | ESTONIA Opposite page: Snowshoer traversing a frozen lake. This page: View of the Tallinn’s Town Hall Square and Old Town.

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 57


58 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller


TRAIL OF THE UNEXPECTED | OMAN

Trail of the Unexpected Matt Carroll uncovers greenery and grandeur in Oman – much to his surprise...

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e must be in the wrong place. This was the immediate conclusion I arrived at as our guide, Mahad, pulled off to the side of the road and killed the engine. While he pottered about in the boot for the picnic, laying out a blanket and several bowls of exotic-looking food, I held a quick internal debate about whether or not I should believe my eyes. Beside us was a muddy brown river bordered by grassy banks – so green they looked as though they might be lime-flavoured. Rising up on the opposite shore were mist-shrouded mountains covered in trees, which, from where I was sitting, looked like mini florets of broccoli. This was not what I was expecting from the Middle East. “What do you think?” asked Mahad, with a glint in his eye. I’d only ever seen landscapes like this in the Amazon rainforest. And yet, according to the stamp on my passport (and the registration plate on Mahad’s car), I was on the south coast of Oman. So where was all the sand? There was plenty of it back at the hotel. Located right on the beach at Salalah, the Hilton is one of several resorts to have sprung up over the past five years. With the turquoise Arabian Sea on your doorstep and miles of white sand stretching out in either direction, it ticks all the usual boxes. Yet for some reason most tourists only

go as far as the capital city, Muscat, located in the north – remaining oblivious to the surprise that awaits this part of Oman. The reason for the Dhofar Mountains’ ostentatious greenery is that they trap moist air coming off the Arabian Sea – creating a coastal microclimate. The result is that you get plenty of sun, without the intense heat normally associated with desert countries. Come here in June, as I did, and the greenery is even more spectacular – fuelled by the monsoon winds that blow from India. The other reason for coming to the south of Oman is the fact that it’s packed with historical treasures. After collecting me from the hotel earlier that morning, Mahad had taken me on a magical history tour that began at Al Baleed National Park. Located half an hour from Salalah, this Unesco World Heritage Site is home to the remains of Zafar – an ancient port city dating back to around 2000BC. Up until the 16th century it did a roaring trade with the likes of India, Africa and China – exporting horses, gold and frankincense. The latter made the Middle East rich before anyone had even thought about oil. From here we headed to Khor Rori – the ruins of an ancient fortified town overlooking a lagoon. Like Zafar, this place prospered thanks to frankincense, but many of its houses have been worn away by centuries of dry June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 59


winds and salty air. In my experience, visitors to such sites are normally kept at arm’s length from the exhibits; yet here we were, nonchalantly strolling around the biscuitcoloured buildings that are sprinkled across the hilltop. The view from here has remained unchanged for centuries: spread out in front was a jade-green lagoon, with a flock of feeding flamingos lining the water’s edge like decorative sculptures. Behind me were those lush green mountains, rising up out of the flat, rocky plane that leads away from the coast. These formed a natural border between us and our ultimate destination – the Lost City of Ubar. After a leisurely picnic, we climbed out over the other side and I got my first glimpse of proper desert. The mist suddenly lifted, and we found ourselves staring out over an arid landscape that stretched away into the shimmering distance. What we were looking at was the Empty Quarter – a vast expanse of desert that covers more land than France, Holland and Belgium combined, and is one of the most sparsely-populated areas on the planet. To this day, one of the few people to explore it is British adventurer Wilfred Thesiger, whose book on the subject, Arabian Sands, is considered a travel-writing classic. Despite becoming familiar with several Bedouin clans – who are among the only people hardy enough to call this place home – Thesiger never managed to find the mythical city of Ubar. In fact it took scientists and historians until 1992 to find the place, using Nasa satellite technology to spot traces of the old caravan trails that lead here. Tucked away in the barren wilderness, it’s more a collection of random ruins than a lost city. Dating back to around 3000BC, it was a thriving trading post for frankincense merchants from all over the Middle East, until the first century AD, when its water source became squashed by a huge boulder, making the place uninhabitable. As with Al Baleed and Khor Rori, this is history that you can get up close and personal with – assuming you can stand the roasting 50°C heat, that is. The moment we got out of the car, it felt as though someone was directing a pair of hairdryers up my trouser legs. If I was looking for bona fide desert, I’d come to the right place at last. 60 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

Images: Getty / Gallo Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Supplied Text: Matt Carroll / The Independent / Interview People

Opening page: Western Hajar mountains; Off-roading on Wahaiba Sands; Flamingos in Dhofar. This page, clockwise from left: Ruined house, Ibra; Hilton Salalah Resort pool; Verdant scenery in Dhofar; Shadows of a camel herd in the Empty Quarter; Lush greenery on the way to the Lost City of Ubar.


TRAIL OF THE UNEXPECTED | OMAN

‘Beside us was a brown river bordered by grassy banks – so green they looked as though they might be lime-flavoured’

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 61


INTO THE DEEP

In the sea around the Azores islands it’s even easier for whale-watchers to catch one of the planet’s great spectacles, finds Philip Hoare

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INTO THE DEEP | AZORES

F or a confirmed whalehead such as myself, the islands of the Azores offer the equivalent of a cetacean safari. A remarkable 26 different whales and dolphins have been recorded in these waters – one-third of all known species. But even for those not obsessed with these miraculous mammals, their reason for being here – the spectacular geography of the place – draws discerning visitors to this enigmatically-beautiful archipelago. The islands themselves are really just a series of drowned volcanoes (the largest of which is São Miguel), set on the vast ridge that runs down the mid-Atlantic like an underwater spine. Indeed, the archipelago is formed at the meeting of three tectonic plates, the Eurasian, North American and African, each pulling the islands in different directions. This remains a restive place. The last eruption, on Faial, was only in 1957, and there are still regular, and fatal, earthquakes. Truly, these are dark, almost satanic islands; even the houses are black, built from basalt rocks. The central and youngest island of Pico – only 3,000 years old, and also known as Ilha Negra, black island – has

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 63


no beaches, centred as it is around one huge volcano, the tallest peak on Portuguese territory. Boulders tumble like clinker into the sea, as if still simmering with heat. Just 100 yards from the shore the depth drops to one mile, and then to a further three. It’s a fearful place from which to swim for anyone with an overactive imagination; climbing down a ladder into water made inky by the rocks, I felt distinctly spooked by what might lie below. Yet for my fellow mammals, it’s precisely this profundity that makes these waters a perfect home. This is where leviathans linger, sucking up the plentiful supply of squid. Zooming out of the harbour at Lajes, Pico’s oldest settlement (its chapel dates back to 1460, the time of the islands’ discovery by the Portuguese; Columbus heard Mass in 64 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

the Azores on his way back from America), I set off in search of whales in the estimable company of Espaco Talassa – the first whale-watching operation in the Azores. Founded by a Frenchman, Serge Viallelle, Espaco Talassa took advantage of an older profession: the Azorean whalers who’d learned their trade from Yankee whalers, the men of Moby Dick fame. Whaling ended here only in the 1980s, and the town bears witness to this legacy. Its pavements are set with a mosaic of whale images; over the local bar hangs the huge jaw of a sperm whale. But as most of the world moved from regarding whales as an industrial resource to seeing them as a natural wonder, Viallelle capitalised on that turnaround: he persuaded the whalers that people would pay to see living whales.

Opening page: Sperm Whale. This page, clockwise from top left: View of the town of Horta and neighbouring island Pico at dusk; The lighthouse in the town of Nordeste São Miguel island; Striped dolphins.


INTO THE DEEP | AZORES

‘A remarkable 26 different whales and dolphins have been recorded in these waters – one-third of all known species’

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‘In the summer, you’re most likely to see sperm whales: the world’s largest predators, and owners of the planet’s biggest brains’

To spot their prey, the hunters had used cliff-top towers or vigias, resembling narrow pillboxes with an open slit at the top. On seeing whales, the watcher would light a rocket with his cigarette, summoning the hunters to the pursuit. Now the Lajes vigia is manned by Marcelo André da Silva Soares, the soft-spoken, 24-year-old son of a whaler. His lofty viewpoint and sharp eyesight (his previous career was as a soldier serving in Kosovo) gives Espaco Talassa a head start on the tricky business of finding whales. For although they’re the biggest animals on Earth, they can be elusive. In the summer, you’re most likely to see sperm whales: the world’s largest predators, and owners of the planet’s biggest brains. Far from terrifying monsters, they’re extraordinarily timid animals – which makes watching them all the more challenging. I last came to Pico four years ago, for a memorable close encounter with the island’s gargantuan residents, the culmination to a half-decade spent working on my book, Leviathan. Now, returning to Pico, I felt the familiar mixture of rising excitement and 66 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

apprehension. To see one of these animals surfacing only a few yards away, blowing exhausted air from its huge, single nostril after a dive which may have taken it a mile below, is a salutary experience – not least because we’re collectively aware of how close we came to driving them to extinction. In São Roque, on the north side of Pico, you can visit – if you have the stomach for it – a museum set within a grim whaling factory, filled with autoclaves and winches: the brutal equipment employed to turn these animals into pet food, fertiliser and vitamin supplements. If cetaceans have good memories – and the latest research indicates that they do – then they appear to have forgiven us. Out here, the ocean erupts with marine mammals. Bottlenose, spotted, striped, common and Risso’s dolphins all scythe through the surf in a show which puts SeaWorld to shame. Piloted by Espaco Talassa’s expert young skipper, Joao Quaresma, to the radio directions of Marcelo in the vigia, our rib, which seats only 12 passengers, brings us right down to sea level. The result is


INTO THE DEEP | AZORES

June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 67


INTO THE DEEP | AZORES Previous page: a pod of sperm whale protecting a calf. This page from bottom left: A humpback whale surfaces at sunset; Horta Harbour, Faial Island. Next Page: view over Velas, São Jorge Island.

spectacular: watching a sperm whale raising its flukes against the majestic backdrop of Pico is probably one of the most sublime cetacean experiences. Sperm whales can be seen here all year round, but weather permits whale watching (from boats, at least) only from April to October, on three-hour trips. As with such operations, no trip guarantees sightings. But of all the places I’ve watched whales, the Azores is the most dependable. Not only sperm whales, but humpbacks, minkes, pilots, fin and blue whales are seen here, at different points in the season. And you’d be very unlucky indeed if you don’t come across at least one pod of dolphins. You might even

see a beaked whale – one of the rarest and most mysterious of all. From this marine perspective you appreciate just how green the island is. On a day off from whale-watching, we drove more than 4,000ft up into the clouds that ring the volcano’s lower reaches like a fur collar, emerging into a Middle Earth landscape studded with vertebrae-like lava cones named mistérios negros (literally, ‘black mysteries’) and deserted lanes lined with giant heathers, ancient ferns and acid-blue hydrangeas. The volcanic soil encourages everything from grazing cows to basaltwalled vineyards. Bananas, tea and even tobacco all flourish here.

The ferry that arrives from neighbouring Faial is laden with fish, eggs and other produce. With a population of only 15,000 and tourists a relative rarity, Pico feels like a living, working place: reserved, insular and yet open to the world, too. Here, everything looks familiar, yet not quite. I’ve seldom eaten such good, or strangely-named fish – amberjack, parrotfish, forkbeard – as those served at Espaco Talassa’s chic café (Hélène, its elegant head waitress, was on secondment from Peter Jones’s department store), or at our hotel, the Aldeia da Fonte. Set a couple of miles west of Lajes, this collection of quirky villas, with the eccentric air of Portmeirion, is only 15 years old but

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looks as though it’s been here for centuries. Down at the hotel’s swimming cove, its erudite, yoga-practising owner, Dr Antonio – having welcomed me to paradise – gives me a brief natural history lesson (with the chilling detail of the cries of harpooned dolphins, victims of the hunts which he witnessed as a boy) before blithely diving into the rock-strewn water. Sequestered in its tree-shaded cliff-top perch, and wonderfully quiet (despite the occasional singing French osteopaths), the Aldeia is surrounded by lush 70 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

gardens and active wildlife, from Azorean blackbirds to noctule bats, the island’s only endemic mammals. As twilight falls, Pico’s ghosts appear. Wheeling overhead as starry shadows in the dark sky, the eerie squawks of the Cory’s shearwaters announce their return to land after a day foraging at sea. Pico is one of their major nesting sites, and they use the cover of darkness to avoid predators, rearing their chicks on regurgitated fish. Their homecoming call is a strangulated screech

somewhere between Donald Duck and Punch and Judy; disconcerted sailors believed they were drowned souls in torment. These birds were also once hunted and eaten by the Azoreans. Happily, they are no longer on the menu. Out on the open ocean, they’re daringly beautiful birds, swooping with slender wings that almost seem to touch the waves. Together with the cetaceans with which they share the sea, their airy spirits seem to embody Pico’s tantalising beauty; but also its darker history, too.

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary Text: Philip Hoare / The Independent / The Interview People

‘With a population of only 15,000 and tourists a relative rarity, Pico feels like a living, working place: reserved, insular, yet open to the world’


Have you decided where to go this summer?

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CONCIERGE | OPENER

CONCIERGE

NEW YORK | ZAGREB | MONTRÉAL | MALDIVES

THE 30-SECOND CONCIERGE

MAURICE DANCER, THE PIERRE, NEW YORK CITY What style can I expect when I set foot inside The Pierre? The Pierre received a $100 million dollar renovation by Taj hotels, yet it maintains an overall style of classic décor and timeless elegance. You’ll see this in its guestrooms and suites, all of which have been transformed to feature a residential-style décor with soft neutral colour palettes accented with burgundy and rose, light blues, greens, corals or gold and silver and richly-textured silk and brocade fabrics on upholstery and bed throws.

continue walking down Fifth Avenue to The Metropolitan Museum. The Rockefeller Center and the world-famous MoMA museum are also within walking distance, and shoppers should head just south of the hotel to Madison and Fifth Avenues for famous boutiques.

I’d love a room with a view – which one should I reserve? A Signature room – they are one of our most spacious room categories and offer both Central Park and panoramic city views.

Which tables should I reserve for the best fare in town? Inside the hotel you must try Two E Bar/Lounge’s new spring menu (order the parmesan-crusted spring vegetable tartlet with pea shoots, spinach salad and rhubarb chutney – you won’t regret it). If you want to step out, go downtown to Daniel Humm’s new restaurant The NoMad and order the sweet bread crostinis – they’re full of flavour.

I want to explore New York – what can I see within reach of the hotel? Central Park is just outside our door, perfect for picnicking and strolling. The intimate Frick Museum is just a stone’s throw away, then you can

I want to rest up, what’s the best way to relax inside the hotel? The ultimate is an in-room Indian spa treatment from Jiva, Taj Hotels’ signature spa brand, with organic Jiva products. tajhotels.com/pierre June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 73


VISIT

ZAGREB Qatar Airways is now flying daily to the ancient Croatian capital, so hop onboard to discover the city’s eclectic charms

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agreb isn’t your average capital – indeed, it takes pride in its novelty. Forget grey government buildings and parliamentary pomp: city breaks here are all about arty hangouts, colourful markets and belt-busting platters of Dalmatian-style fare. Even its museum scene is a breath of fresh air: from the Mimara’s eccentric treasure troves to the poignant hoard at the Museum of Broken Relationships, there’s not a stuffy mausoleum in sight. Make like a

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local and head outside: the summer is fresh and warm, perfect for al fresco dining in the Old Town or a stroll through the lush Botanical Gardens. Up for something more energetic? The quaint towns that surround the city boast a medley of hiking routes, ever-popular with locals. Indeed, mountainous rambles are so loved that no trip to the city would be complete without a quick jaunt out of it – although the feisty urban playground will do its best to tempt you back...


ZAGREB | CROATIA

Opening page, clockwise from left: Shopping on one of the Old Town’s colourful streets; Mimara Museum; Zagreb vegetable market. This page: The garden of President Pantovcak hotel.

Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; supplied

MUST-DOS Dolac Market (1) is a lively place to start the day – the traditional open stalls are overflowing with local fruit, loaves, cured meats, cheeses and sweets. Tuck into a hearty breakfast alongside the city’s chefs and traders, and pick up a piece of croaterra, the locals’ favourite multi-grain cake. Mimara Museum (2) provides treats of a visual nature. Its eclectic stash includes artefacts from all over the world: Ming Dynasty vases sit alongside Byzantine icons and Persian carpets. The ornate ceremonial hall and its lavish collection of Peter Paul Rubens canvases are a feast of Baroque melodrama. Art Pavilion (3) also has an impressive assortment of collections, and the museum building is an attraction in its own right – it was originally constructed in Budapest in 1896, but was later relocated to Zagreb and gradually reconstructed. The Museum of Broken Relationships (4) (brokenships. com) is a quirky gathering of artefacts donated by people from around the world, each with their own tales of lost loves. It can make for an emotional afternoon out, but the stories are fascinating fodder for voyeurs… Zagreb Botanical Gardens (5) offers a pleasant change of pace

after all that gallery hopping – a picnic among its spectacular landscaping and lakes is a great way to take in the city’s thriving outside space. The gardens were created in 1890 and have over 10,000 types of greenery from all over the world. Medvedgrad (6), a medieval fortress just to the north of the city centre, was erected to protect the city from invasions in the early 13th century. Its walls and towers have been restored with great care, and on clear days the views of Zagreb and Mount Medvednica are superb.

WHERE TO STAY Regent Esplanade Zagreb (7) (regenthotels.com), an Art Deco retreat close to Art Pavilion, is the place to see and be seen. Its sumptuous rooms have hosted the likes of Louis Armstrong, Orson Wells and Woody Allen – no doubt they were tempted by the ‘scented bath menu’, L’Occitane En Provence toiletries and glorious spa. President Pantovcak (8) (president-zagreb.com) is a leafy oasis in the heart of the city, and home to a vibrant collection of design-led digs. Splash out on the President Suite for its charming private garden, vast bathtub and minimalist décor.

6 8 9

4

1

Llica

Zagreb

Vlaška

10 Donji Grad

2 3 5

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WHERE TO EAT Kaptolska Klet (9) (+385 1 4814 838) is an immense eatery in central Zagreb with an equally massive menu. Take a seat on the leafy terrace outside and dine on grilled meats and traditional vegetable loaves. Korčula (10) (+385 1 4872 159), widely acclaimed as the city’s finest fish restaurant, is the place for seafood of all shapes and sizes. The à la carte line-up is nothing short of spectacular: think Adriatic squid, scorpionfish and Dalmatian-style codfish.

ZAGREB’S BEST… DAY TRIPS Samobor A half-hour drive from the city, this pretty medieval settlement is brimming with charming architecture. Explore the area on a picturesque hiking trail. Vrbovec 45 minutes to the east of Zagreb, this sleepy town is a haven from tourist traffic. Sample local delicacies in its many traditional restaurants. Mount Medvednica Reaching 1,033 metres at its highest, this area is a hikers’ heaven in summer and a skier’s dream in winter – and it’s only a 30-minute drive from the city centre.

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VISIT

MONTRÉAL Blending Canadian zeal, French savoir faire and a world-class line-up of arty attractions, this city deserves more than a mini-break – as Hazel Plush reveals

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hile supping on macaroons and café au lait in Montréal’s Old Quarter, it becomes clear that this is no ordinary city. With francophone chatter and buttery wafts drifting from the countless nearby pâtisseries, you’d be forgiven for thinking these were the cobbled streets of Paris. But head downtown and you’ll find yourself in a throbbing metropolis, alive with shoppers, poseurs and gallery hoppers – all jostling for a slice of cutting-edge Canada. Venture a bit

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further and you’ll find yet more Montréalers: the feathered natives of the Parc des Rapides bird sanctuary, and the tropical expats that call the biodôme home. This is a tale of three cities – each of them ripe for exploring. And with such a vibrant population, it’s no surprise that Montréal hosts a sparkling schedule of cultural events, each revelling in the eclecticism of everyday life. As melting pots go, this is a big one – grab your French phrasebook and jump right in…


MONTRÉAL | CANADA Opening page from top: Panorama of the city from Ile Saint Helene; Macaroons with confit mushrooms; The Biosphere.

MUST-DOS The Old Quarter (1) is a picturesque base from which to explore the city – head straight to City Hall, a grandiose example of FrenchCanadian ‘Second Empire’ architecture. Using its turrets as a landmark, venture into the winding cobbled alleyways… You’ll find dinky boutiques and cafés, and stumble across Bonsecours Market, home to an eccentric array of arts exhibitions and stalls. Montréal Science Museum (2) (montrealsciencecentre. com), on the edge of the Old Quarter, will haul you back to the present day – and beyond. The new Star Wars Identities collection (until September 2012) makes for fail-safe rainy day fun – this month sees the screening of 3D polar bear adventure To The Arctic. McCord Museum of Canadian History (3) (mccord-museum.qc.ca) tells stories of life north of the border through artefacts dating back to its Aboriginal past. Don’t miss the collection of vintage black-and white city photographs in its cosy restaurant. Montréal Museum of Fine Arts (4) (mbam.qc.ca) holds an equally impressive assortment of Canadian treasures, as well as artwork from all over the world – the Beyond Pop gallery runs until October 2012, and features dazzling pieces by Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol. Montréal Biodôme (5) (ville.montreal.qc.ca/ biodome) encapsulates the Canadian love of the natural world: the Tropical Rainforest area remains hot even when winter rages outside, and the penguins of the Sub-Antarctic Islands dome are kept cool through the summer months. Jardin Botanique Montréal (6)

MONTRÉAL’S BEST... SUMMER FESTIVALS Les FrancoFolies de Montréal (7-16 June) Attracting almost one million people and 1,000 musicians, this is the world’s biggest celebration of francophone music. Catch electro, rap, soul and jazz artists on the seven outdoor stages. Just For Laughs (12-29 July) With a programme of topdraw comedians from all over the globe, you’ll find the finest French- and English-language stand-up right here.

Festival Mode & Design Montréal (tbc, August) Serving up progressive labels and international designers, this four-day festival puts Montréal on the fashion map. Catch catwalk shows, performances and shopping events city-wide.

5

(ville.montreal.qc.ca/jardin) is a 185-acre sensory wonderland. Set aside an afternoon and wander around its 30 themed gardens and 10 greenhouses – make a beeline for the ornate Chinese garden and Alpine area. Parc des Rapides (7) offers more energetic al fresco adventures: a quick drive from the city, it’s a hub for hiking, kayaking and cycling, and the bustling bird sanctuary is a twitcher’s dream-come-true.

WHERE TO STAY Hotel le Saint-James (8) (hotellestjames.com), housed in a former Merchants’ Bank, is one of the city’s most exclusive destinations. Check into a palatial Heritage Collection suite, dine at the acclaimed XO Le Restaurant, and book a beauty treatment in the underground spa. St Paul Hotel Montréal (9) (hotelstpaul.com) is a luxury boutique bolthole with a limited collection of designer rooms – perfect for taking in the spectacular skyline views.

WHERE TO EAT Olive & Gourmando (10) (+514 350 1083) is a charming patisserie and bistro in Old Montréal, great for fuelling up for a day’s wanderings around the city. Don’t miss the grown-up macaroni cheese with truffle tapenade and caramelised onions. Beaver Club at Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth (11) (+514 861 3511) has its roots in the lucrative fur trade of old Montréal. It was once an elite private club, but now its menu is open to all – try the traditional beef wellington to see what the fuss is about.

6 Ville-Marie

1 Mt Royal Park

McGill University

3

Montreal

2 8 10

Images: Photolibrary

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June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 77


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On an unspoilt island in the Indian Ocean, you’ll find this stunning Beach Suite – a jewel in the crown of the glorious Jumeirah Vittaveli. With its own glassy pool, private stretch of beach and secluded rooftop terrace, this magnificent residence is all about peaceful luxury. On arrival by speed boat, you’ll find elegant natural décor and topquality touches throughout – we love the Bose speaker set and Apple Media Centre, marble bathroom with rain shower and the vast walk-in wardrobe. Spend the day submerged in the 49-square-metre pool, or

80 June 2012 Kanoo World Traveller

stretched out on the deserted white sands... For adventurous types, some of the world’s finest dive spots are only minutes from the island, and canoeing and windsurfing trips can be organised too. On request, a butler can be on call 24 hours a day to arrange your itinerary, as well as a personal chef to rustle up sumptuous meals. Nights are best enjoyed soaking in the al fresco bath tub, or star gazing from your verandah – with no light pollution and nobody else in sight, you’ll feel like the only guests on the island. jumeirah.com


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ESPA Summer Escape package starting from AED 825* per night Enjoy a Summer break that will leave you feeling renewed and rejuvenated. Stay in our spacious deluxe rooms including breakfast for two in Origins and embark on one of ESPA’s finest massage journeys, with full use of our separate male or female relaxation facilities all day.

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*Rates are exclusive of 10% service charge and 6% tourism fee. Offer Valid until 15th September, 2012.

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