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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE

MARcH 2011

Eastern Promise

The lowdown on Japan’s cultural heartland Caribbean Queen

Is St. Lucia the most treasured island of all?

Produced in International Media Production Zone

bLue FOr YOu Amrit Dhilon falls for India’s painted city

10 MagniFiCent HOLidaY ViLLas

Roar of the Lion Why Singapore is now a leisure destination to be reckoned with

F OFext

% n 10 your liday ho


Kanoo World Traveller MARCH 2011

CONTENTS Travel biTes

feaTures

05 AgendA

65 thirty-second concierge

32 singApore

All the latest need-to-know travel news.

A centuries-old retreat in stunning Tuscany.

The rise and rise of a modern city.

16 drive time

66 city guide: kyiv

38 st luciA

The drive of a lifetime through the Canadian Rockies.

Laura Binder checks out Ukraine’s famous capital.

Paradise found on the Caribbean’s treasured island.

14 Ask the expert

68 city guide: cAnnes

44 jodphur

Done Paris and Rome? Head to romantic Damascus.

Aerin Rose hits the French Riviera.

Amrit Dhilon gets the blues in India’s walled city.

20 picture this

71 competition

50 new ZeAlAnd

Postcard-perfect sights in Yemen and Germany.

Win a two-night stay at Dubai’s Meydan Hotel.

Hitting the tracks for the most scenic journey on earth

25 essentiAl selection

72 suite dreAms

58 kyoto

Inside the world’s most incredible holiday villas.

Stunning Sri Panwa in Thailand’s Phuket.

Simon Horsford explores Japan’s cultural heartland.

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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE

MARcH 2011

Eastern Promise

The lowdown on Japan’s cultural heartland Caribbean Queen

Is St. Lucia the most treasured island of all?

Produced in International Media Production Zone

bLue FOr YOu Amrit Dhilon falls for India’s painted city

10 MagniFiCent HOLidaY ViLLas KWT Cover March.indd 1

Roar of the Lion Why Singapore is now a leisure destination to be reckoned with

On the cover: Sky Park pool, Singapore.

62

55

43

Managing Director: Victoria Hazell-Thatcher

Features Editor: Laura Binder

Designer: Matthew McBriar

Publishing Director: John Thatcher

laura@hotmediapublishing.com

Production manager: Haneef Abdul

Advertisement Director: Chris Capstick

+971 4 364 2877

Sales Manager: Cat Steele

chris@hotmediapublishing.com

Art Editor: Jenni Dennis

cat@hotmediapublishing.com

+971 4 369 0917

jenni@hotmediapublishing.com

+971 4 446 1558

Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are F OF xt % ne 10 your liday ho

2/24/2011 6:21:04 PM

correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in Kanoo World Traveller.

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Jan-June 2010 22,620 BPA Consumer Audit Produced by: HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 3


AGENDA Be informed, be inspired, be there

russian revelation

W sT peTersburgh, russia The W brand has spread its wings to Eastern Europe for the first time in its history to make the most modern of nests in the heart of St Petersburg. Stay from March 1 and you’ll find yourself split between two worlds: one of cutting-edge suites and swanky restaurants inside the hotel – check out the exhaustive tapas menu in the Living Room – and one of old-school romance outside: you’re just a skip away from the wonderful Winter Palace and Mariinsky Theatre. www.wstpetersburgh.com

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 5


4 ALTERNATIvE WAyS TO ENjOy

Las Vegas

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There’s some great art on permanent display in Vegas. You’ll find works by Picasso and Renoior hanging in the Bellagio’s Gallery of Fine Art, while more modern marvels – 25 art installations to be precise – are on show at CityCenter.

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Another permanent exhibition that’s well worth checking out is Titanic. It displays artefacts recovered from the wreckage of the famously doomed ship – including personal belongings of its passengers – and a recreation of the ship’s Grand Staircase.

Empire strikes back Jumeirah’s latest hotel opening – this time on Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah – evokes era of the Ottoman Empire. Though it doesn’t fully open till next month, Jumeirah Zabeel Saray has already created a bit of a buzz. A magnificent, palatial resort, it stands on the western wing of Palm Jumeirah, looking over a private beach to the sea and the ever-expanding Dubai Marina skyline beyond. Inside it’s instantly impressive – soaring gold pillars and chandeliers dominate the lobby and it houses some of the best suites in town (look out for its Turkish tubs), plus a superb 42-room spa. But for something different we’re looking forward to the opening of its restaurant Voi for cuisine inspired by 1920’s French-colonial Vietnam. www.jumeirah.com

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Head an hour out of town along roads flanked by desert and you’ll come to the spectacular valley of Fire. Here red rock formations – shaped by a millenia of water and wind – appear otherworldly and make for a stunning holiday snap.

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Las Vegas is a city that never rests on its laurels when it comes to offering state-of-the art hotels and, as such, when a hotel passes its supposed sell by date it is flattened. Its neon sign, though, is kept and lives on, displayed in the city’s fantastic Neon Museum.

ONE-MINUTE MASTERCLASS: pOLISh Where can I go to get warm? Gdzie moge pojechac, zeby sie ogrzac? Do you accept US dollars? Czy mozna placic w dolarach? Where can I get a dish of bigos? Gdzie moge dostac talerz bigosu? 6

Kanoo World Traveller March 2011


agEnda | nEws

Global GoUrmet If you’re making for Argentina, there’s one standout spot you simply won’t want to miss, says Chef Norberto Palacios of Asado, The Palace – The Old Town, Dubai. To me, the best food in my hometown of Cordoba is my mum’s beef ragout or my grandfather’s homemade spaghetti but for visitors, I’d like to share an amazing place in a countryside town called Agua de Oro, meaning Water of Gold. Take a long walk by the river and you’ll discover a restaurant called Rio Arriba, meaning ‘Up the River’. There’s a beautiful terrace with tables set beneath a pergola made of natural tree leaves and branches. It’s a perfect oasis for lunch – expect an entire menu with food that families typically prepare in their own homes in Cordoba. We ate a white bean puree and fresh warm bread, straight from the wooden oven. It was simply perfect. Also try ‘milanesa con papas fritas y ensalada mixta’. Milanesa is a veal beef, coated with a breadcrumb, egg and parsley mixture, and deep fried. It was wonderfully crispy, and the beef has a perfect pink colour inside.

a rubbish hotel No, really, a temporary hotel in Madrid has been built out of nothing but rubbish and waste washed up on beaches by German artist Ha Schult. Why? Schult wanted to show what wouid happen to our holidays if we don’t keep our beaches clean.

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pack it in

Read all about it

home is where the art is

If you’ve always planned to browse the world’s greatest galleries, Google has developed a website which takes visitiors on an incredible virtual tour of 17 top galleries from the comfort of their own home. www.googleartproject.com

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Kanoo World Traveller March 2011

It’s easy to miss news stories when you’re working every hour of daylight, so if you want to use your holiday time to catch up with what’s gone by, bag yourself a copy of Delayed Gratification, which distills three months of news into one handysized magazine of record. www.dgquarterly.com


agEnda | nEws

St. patrick’S day

going green

Come March 17th everyone seems to be Irish. But where will you go to celebrate the big day?

Safari, so good...

This month’s hot offers from Kanoo Travel and american Express Vacations.

Chicago, USA

Birmingham, England

lowdown though you’d be hard pushed to find a US city that doesn’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day wholeheartedly, nowhere does it quite like Chicago.

lowdown england is home to a huge Irish population with the main concentration being in the midland’s city of birmingham. the Venue like Chicago, birmigham goes big on its street parade – it’s the largest in the UK. but the party isn’t confined to the 17th, with a whole week of events staged throughout the city.

the Venue all over the city. but the two main parades – we’re talking marching bands, dancers and supersized floats – take place in Downtown and South Side. both are even bigger than Dublin’s own parade. highlight When the city’s famous river is dyed green in celebration. Head to the district of Columbus for a bird’s eye view. Staying there try the very grand trump International Hotel & tower. www.trumpchicagohotel.com

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highlight leprechauns marching through the city aside, the myriad events that take place include some superb music and family-focused events. Staying there birmingham isn’t blessed with a lot of luxury hotels, so best choose a lodging based on its location the Hyatt regency is slap-bang in the centre. www.birmingham.regency.hyatt.com

KENyAN SAFARI 7 dAyS/6 NIGhTS $1,555 Experience the ultimate safari experience by taking in five game drives and four superb lodges. pRAGUE 4 dAyS/3 NIGhTS $874 Check out one of Europe’s oldest and architecturally impressive cities. MALdIvES 4 dAyS/3 NIGhTS $1,739 Enjoy the ultimate getaway in magical Maldives.

off all hotel and car hire bookings worldwide

Kanoo Travel is offering its customers a fantastic saving should they book a holiday anytime during March and April. The discount of 10% is applicable to all hotel bookings and car rentals worldwide, giving you a little extra money to spend while on your dream vacation. See page 70 for a full list of Kanoo Travel offices.

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 9


agenda | calendar

March

this month’s events serve up a seriously stimulating pick for jet-setters everywhere...

5-8

rio Carnival rio de Janeiro, Brazil It’s impossible not to have heard of the mother of all carnivals: Rio. Samba dancers showcase off-the-scale spirit as they shimmy through the streets in a stop-and-stare stream of bright outfits with glitter galore. Make for the arquibancadas (terrace seats) or camarotes (boxes) for the best views or shake your tail feather to Brazilian beats in a public bandstand. www.rio-carnival.net

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vienna opera ball vienna, austria Mix high society with old-school glamour and a swirl of Vienesse waltzes and you’ll have yourself a ball; literally. This is the socialite’s event of the year, when thousands gather in their finest at the State Opera. But, it’s not as inaccessible as it sounds; mere mortals can apply for tickets too, though competition for them is rife and only handwritten requests are accepted. www. viennaoperaball.com

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hong kong art walk Soho district, hong kong Art-lovers will be in their element on this most cultured of crawls. Step out in oh-so-trendy Soho and you’ll have your pick of 60 galleries, all of which open for the evening, presenting you with a view of all the city’s art in a single night – all proceeds go to charity. Expect everything from urban photos to bold prints. www.hongkongart walk.com

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red bull craShed ice old Quebec, canada Feel the need for speed? Head down to the Old Quebec district and you’ll see adrenaline junkies strap on their skates and take to an oversized ice track that throws up hairpin turns, plummeting drops and jumps to boot. The atmosphere’s electric as well, with up to 85,000 spectators gathering to cheer on the speedloving skaters. www.redbull.com

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dubai world cup dubai, uae Forget what you think you know about racing; this is the richest event on the equine calendar, worth a cool $25 million. Held at Meydan Racecourse, it includes eight races each of which make heart-stopping viewing thanks to the world’s top horses, jockeys and trainers. The course seats 60,000 and the luxe Meydan Hotel serves as an alternative spot to celebrate. www.dubaiworldcup.com

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QantaS auStralian grand prix Melbourne, australia The season-opening F1 Grand Prix revs into gear as Melbourne gets the honour of dropping the chequered flag for the first time. Last year’s championship witnessed the emergence of Sebastian Vettel, with the flying German crowned the youngest ever winner of the F1 title (by a matter of days). And he’s likely to be the man to beat this year, too. www grandprix.com.au


HONG KONG

Hong Kong is Asia’s leading tourist destination that never fails to amaze you. Discover the many delights it has to offer from the breathtaking skyline view from The Peak, the delicious fresh cuisine, the abundance of shopping malls and markets and, of course, the luscious green countryside and beaches. Hong Kong is great for everyone from families to friends, to couples – there is something to suit all. Immerse yourself in the shopping experience and you’ll find everything from the latest designer fashions to electronic gadgets. Explore the memorable attractions around you and be amazed by the diversity of this exciting destination. Hong Kong’s vibrant atmosphere and blend of cultures will dazzle you and leave you wanting more. For further information about Hong Kong, visit DiscoverHongKong.com


AgendA | in depth

‘With the everpassionate Rosita taking a hands-on approach, there’s no fear of Missoni-lovers leaving disappointed’

City SliCker The Italian fashion dynasty Missoni has left another beautiful mark in its wake; this time a new hotel in Kuwait City. But what should we expect besides those signature stripes? Laura Binder finds out.

Above: Inside a suite at Missoni Kuwait.

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Kanoo World Traveller March 2011

For fashionistas everywhere just the word Missoni is all it takes to conjure up a burst of excitement strong enough to rival the designer’s explosions of multi-coloured hues. For design-loving travellers, meanwhile, it prompts visions of what can’t fail to be one very stylish stop-over. Missoni Kuwait is the brand’s second city hotel, following in the footsteps of its Edinburgh sister. But the Middle Eastern sibling is far from a carbon copy, as Director of Marketing, Rose Kutzil, explains: ‘Each hotel was designed individually and took inspiration from its environment. While Edinburgh is a UK city hotel with a base colour palette of black and white, Kuwait’s far more colourful, inspired by the hues of the sand and sea and the sun’s golden tones.’ With 169 rooms (including 63 suites) it surpasses the size of a boutique hotel but its dedication to design and, what Rose describes as ‘a truly authentic Italian hospitality experience, portraying the Missoni way of life’ means an individual touch graces each of its 18 floors. ‘The design is all about pleasing the eye but also

making you feel instantly comfortable, says Rose. ‘Guests can expect style without show and comfort with style.’ As with all designer labeled hotels, one has to wonder whether the designer themselves played much of a part in the creative process: ‘Rosita Missoni was involved in every aspect of the hotel’s design. She personally chose everything from the wall colours and fabrics to the furniture, tiles, textures and artwork – she even chose the crockery and finer details, like the soaps in the bathrooms.’ And Rose’s favourite feature? ‘The swimming pool; it’s just stunning, It’s made from almost one million mosaic tiles which portray the iconic Missoni print. Look down on it from the 18th floor and you’ll have the best view in the house!” With the ever-passionate Rosita taking a hands-on approach, there’s no fear of Missoni-lovers leaving disappointed. Not that you have to be a slave to the brand to really enjoy a stay here. ‘It’s not all Missoni,’ insists Rose. ‘If you share its (Missoni) passion for life, for design, comfort and excellent food you’ll love the hotel.’ And in true Italian spirit, its dedication to food is one aspect that’s well worth exploring. ‘For Cucina (the hotel’s Italian restaurant), Rosita worked in close collaboration with the renowned chef Giorgio Locatelli to create a concept and menus’, explains Rose. The result is a menu that includes a mouth-watering array of Italian-spun classics, like Barolo and Castelmagno cheese risotto, and sea bass baked with a salt crust. Then there’s the Choco Café: ‘It’s inspired by the Italian Gran Caffè legend and there’s a permanent buzz inside,’ enthuses Rose. ‘It’s a place to savour great coffee, fine chocolate and decadent pastries – all the more enjoyable eaten on the fabulous outdoor terrace.’ That’s all the encouragement we need to pay a visit. Now, if we can just find our Missoni scarf… Missoni Kuwait is open for reservations. Visit www.hotelmissoni.com


AgendA | TrAvel q&A

Ask the expert

This month our experts suggest a romantic city break that eschews the norm and a football match that all fans of the beautiful game should see.

The panel Jessica hudson co-founded The Chic Collection’s travel advisory and is tasked with sampling endless luxury hotels and resorts. Rachel hamilton is a full-time writer and the mother of two young children, Jodie and Dylan, whom she travels frequently with. James montague writes for CNN.com and The Guardian and is the author of ‘When Friday Comes: Football in the War Zone’ (Mainstream).

Q

Q

My partner and I want to book ourselves a romantic spring city break but have both been to Paris and Rome previously. Can you suggest anywhere less obvious? Head to the Old City in Damascus for a romantic city break where the weather in spring time is perfect for exploring its ancient Roman ruins, magnificent Umayyad Mosque, and the vast souks famous for rosebuds, spices and silver. Dating back more than 4,500 years, it is the oldest continually inhabited city in the world. There are a handful of beautiful boutique hotels tucked away along the winding alleys that open onto courtyards of lemon trees and fountains, such as Beit Al Mamlouka, a lovingly restored 19th century house, or The Art House just outside the Old City walls, where each suite is named after famous Syrian artists. Straight Street is full of fashionable cafes and boutiques – including Villa Moda which you’ll know from its branches in the GCC – and you can easily spend a weekend away there shopping and exploring the city. Alternatively, take a trip up into the hills to the wildly atmospheric Krak des Chevaliers, the world’s best preserved crusader castle, for breathtaking views that look out over the mountains and city. Jessica Hudson

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Kanoo World Traveller March 2011

There are two or three matches in the region that would have all the passion and support to match any game in world football. But the Cairo derby between Al Ahly and Zamalek can rightly be considered up there with Real Madrid versus Barcelona. It is the biggest football match in Africa, and was once considered so fierce that the Cairo derby is now held at the neutral Cairo International stadium in front of close to 80,000 fans. The match has had a political dimension too, with Al Ahly claiming the mantel of Arab nationalism; Zamalek forever connected with the old deposed king. But the revolution that toppled President Mubarek saw rival fans of both teams coming together and their next match will be fascinating. James Montague

Image: Beit Al-Mamlouka

I want to take my husband to a football match in the Middle East as he’s never been to one here. Which fixture has the best atmosphere?


AgendA AgendA | RoAd RoAd tRip tRip

Drive time: IcefIeld’s parkway, alberta CATCh youR BReATh ANd Behold CANAdIAN CouNTRy AT ITs MosT sPeCTACulAR... With baited breath is the only state in which to drive the route from Banff to Jasper National Parks and behold those Canadian Rockies. It’s one of the most scenic mountain drives in the world and – as you cruise Icefield’s Parkway, flanked by soaring pine trees – you’ll understand why. The road itself (all 230km of it) is the best stretch of tarmac from which to behold the awesome vistas. In fact, as it runs alongside the main Canadian Rocky Mountain ranges, you’re literally riding the continent’s spine. As you do, you’ll be privy to panoramas of sky-bound peaks that soar beyond 11,000 feet. But that’s not all; ancient glaciers, glassy lakes, dipping valleys and head-turning wildlife (think moose, black bear, elk and even the odd grizzly) all exist in this alpine wonderland. Image: Photolibrary

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Kanoo World Traveller March January 2011 2011


AgendA | hotel picker

Where to stay

New York City

Spring’s the perfect time to visit the Big Apple, so take your pick from these Manhatten hotel hotspots... START

Central Park

OR

Uptown

Fifth Avenue

OR

Downtown

New Cool

OR

Old School

Setai Fifth Avenue

Hotel On Rivington

www.setaififthavenue.com Size matters at the Setai Fifth Aveune, with the tower soaring some 60 stories to be noticed on Manhatten’s famed skyline and the rooms among the largest in the city. Stay here and you’ll also be given a peronal assistant who’s an expert on the city.

www.hotelonrivington.com New York is of course well known for being constantly at the cutting edge of style and this all-glass hotel is standing proof. You’ll enjoy a superb view of the Empire State Buiding from your bed, while Manhatten’s skyline is also visible from your shower.

Great Spa

OR

Great Food

Famous Lady

OR

Famous Man

Mandarin Oriental, New York

Jumeirah Essex House

Ritz-Carlton, Battery Park

The Greenwich Hotel

www.mandarinoriental.com Undoutedly the best spa in the city, the serene vibe here actually manages to convince you that you’re anywhere but one of the world’s busiest cities.

www.jumeirah.com US celebrity chef Kerry Heffernan heads up the super chic South Gate here, where an ever-changing menu offers the season’s richest pickings.

www.ritzcarlton.com While enjoying some of the best service in the city, guests can also peer out from their rooms for unbroken views of the Statue of Liberty.

www.thegreenwichhotel.com Robert De Niro is the man behind this characterful abode in the fashionable Tribeca district, which feels distinctly more members’ club than hotel.

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 19


Picture this

Berchtesgaden Germany

Cast your eyes over this idyllic snow-clad town and it’s hard to imagine it serving as anything other than a picture-perfect ski retreat. But while its natural beauty will stop you in your icy tracks – mountainous terrain dotted with fairytale forests – this area of the Balvarian Alps is shrouded in infamy. Formerly a favoured leisure spot of The Nazis in the 1920s, it played host to haunts like The Berchtesgadener Hof Hotel – frequented by political figures like Eva Braun (Hitler’s companion) and Joseph Goebbels. While post-war years saw the demolition of such buildings, Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest – a mountain-top retreat built for his 50th birthday – remains. Head there (via a brass elevator, 400 feet up) and you can bask in Berchtesgaden’s beauty from an altitude of 6017 feet. Image: Photolibrary


Picture this

socotra Island yemen

‘Dragon blood tree’ (or Dracaena cinnabari, to be precise) is the name given to these mushroom-like trees, which sprout up peculiarly across Socotra Island’s dry terrain. Each one bleeds a red sap, (once a sought-after means of medicine), that’s now used as a rich paint or varnish. To say that these fantastical trees and sandridden surrounds look fit for a scene from Star Wars is no understatement; the island is in a pure state of isolation, and together with its desert climate, has spawned a breed of bizarre plant life – a third of which cannot be found anywhere else on the planet. In fact, Socotra has been described as the ‘most alien-looking place on Earth’. And we tend to agree... Image: Photolibrary


essential selection

The World’s FinesT Villas Essential selection

After more thAn just A hotel room? lAurA Binder mAkes for the most BeAutiful villAs on the plAnet for some seriously stylish seclusion.

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Kanoo World Traveller March 2011


EssEntial EssEntialsElEction sElEction||world’s world’sbEst bEst villas

AlilA villAs uluwAtu, BAli

mAlAkiyA royAl villA, uAe

Stood on a cliff top plateau faced with a seemingly endless horizon that sweeps across the Indian Ocean is a moment that’s sure to evoke an awestruck gasp: Which is exactly what you’ll do after making reservations here (pictured). Choose from one- to three-bed villas with a cliff or hillside setting – each with the kind of pool you’ll want to while away an entire sun-soaked day aside. Calm-inducing interiors make it easy to relax inside, too; an open-plan design is just made for meandering; lava rock roofs allow the sea breeze to caress you; and to die-for-beds are rivaled only by the vistas before them. Sleeps: Up to six in a three-bed pool villa. Best for: Those who don’t want to lift a finger: butlers tend to your every whim and restaurants CIRE and The Warung have meal times covered – be sure to try Indonesian dishes like Sate Lilit. www.alilahotels.com

It’s easy to mistake the castle-like turrets that decorate a slice of Dubai’s skyline for an ancient Arabian palace. But, these caramelcoloured rooftops in fact form the magnificent Malakiya Villas at Madinat Jumeirah: the sprawling resort which flanks a jewel-green river where guests are ferried from one point to the next on gentlycruising dhows (Step off to a giddying array of restaurants). The Royal Villa is the crème de la crème here: grandiose surrounds open onto private terraces and manicured gardens fit for a fairytale. Plus, of course, a private pool and Jacuzzi (just try and resist a dip). A private lift, meanwhile, will take you to ground-level in a flash. Sleeps: Maximum of six adults and two children. Best for: Arabian opulence. Rooms decked-out in rich red tones look fit for royalty and spacious layouts provide room for all the family. www.jumeirah.com

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 25


EssEntial sElEction | world’s bEst villas

AlfAjiri Cliff VillA, KenyA

VillA MArgot, MoroCCo

One hour’s drive from Mombassa airport will bring you here: a plush tribal-esque retreat that’s home to three properties dotted across the East African Coast. Ivory floors look as slick as ice, Makuti roofs soar skyward and African artefacts set the tone. If you’re a sucker for sea views, the Cliff Villa is unbeatable. Its turret suite’s floor-to-ceiling windows place you within virtual reach of each crashing wave, while its infinity pool looks at one with the sea. Its décor is equally look-at-me, with wild animal prints on the floor and featherweight nets cascading from four-poster beds. For a taste of that ocean, just request fresh seafood – bought from local fishermen daily – served in your villa. Sleeps: Up to eight. Best for: Families. The owners have two daughters and designed the villas with mini imaginations in mind. ‘Ayah’s (nannies) are on call 24/7. www.alfjirivillas.com

A flamingo-pink façade that stings of South America greets you on arrival to this most glamorous of villas on the cusp of Marrakech. At first glance it’s more Mexico than Morocco but head inside, beneath head-raising arches fit for a Turkish palace, past steaming hammams and through the sweet waft of local cuisine and you’ll be straight back to North Africa. Its marble white bathrooms and sleek figure-of-eight pool, flanked by seductive day beds (a truly romantic setting for a candlelit meal) may not make it one for grubby-fingered tots but will prove nothing short of irresistible for sun-seeking couples. Sleeps: Sixteen across eight double rooms. Best for: A sublime steam for two – its Moroccan baths are just sensational. Plump for a massage while you’re there, which use homemade plant and herb oils that feel like hot liquid silk on your skin. www.villamargotmarrakech.com

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EssEntial sElEction | world’s bEst villas

rahimoana Villa, EaglE’s nEst, nEw ZEaland It’s no exaggeration to dub Eagle Nest’s setting ‘paradise’. Rahimoana (left) is one of five villas perched on the Russell peninsula’s tip – which means you’ll find yourself gloriously abandoned in the tropics, lost somewhere between emerald green tree-tops and a peacock-blue sea. But what’s truly special about this villa is its private pool; 25metres of horizon-edged infinity, it appears beautifully poised to drift you blissfully out to sea. Undoubtedly the ruler of the Eagle’s roost, a stay here will lend you four bedrooms (white gloss finishes throughout), a private powder-soft beach and cool extras like a home cinema. Sleeps: Up to eight. Best for: Heart-stopping vistas. Rahimoana’s 320 degree view over the Bay of Islands can’t fail to send you into a silent state of wonder... www.eaglesnest.co.nz

‘you’ll find yourself gloriously abandoned in the tropics, lost somewhere between emerald green tree-tops and a peacock-blue sea’

Villa Bordoni , italy There’s something instantly romantic about this villa; a duck egg-blue Renaissance abode set in the heart of Tuscany’s Chianti Classico region. The 16th century property opened in 2006, after its new owners stumbled upon it quietly decaying in the grey-green hills, tortoises roaming its wild gardens. Since then its received a Florentine overhaul. Each room is a delight; from the beige and cobalt blue Mezzuola to the crimson Montefilli (you’ll coo over its carved Venetian boserie), right down to the plump, goose-feather pillows and quirky design finishes that echo a time of Tuscan peasantry – look out for the chicken coop door that now serenades as an ornament. Sleeps: Twenty across 10 double bedrooms. Best for: An Autumn break when its Tuscan pastures burst into flame red, burnt orange and golden hues; there’s no better time of year for crisp, country strolls. www.villabordoni.com

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 29


ParadisE island Villa, CrEtE Villas named after Greek mythological heroes will send you into a Mediterranean mindset from the moment you check-in here (right). While the names (and mountainous views) are mighty, each abode exudes a Med-chic rather than extravagant Greek theme (no gold laurel wreaths here). Terracotta tiles, stone-wash walls and earthy hues will pass you by as you make for your illuminated dipping pool, set in an idyllic private garden. Step out further to sample the hotel-style amenities; from laundry and babysitting services to more indulgent restaurants and pools. Its poolside lounge, with tree-top tables and bright white loungers against turquoise waters, is startlingly cool. Sleeps: Up to seven. Best for: Those after privacy and services alike. Be sure to dine at Ambrosia and save room for ‘loukoumades’ – a delicious doughnut-like dessert with ice cream and honey. www.luxuryvillascrete.com

‘its poolside lounge, with tree-top tables and bright white loungers set against turquoise waters, is startingly cool’

PrEsidEntial Villa, six sEnsEs samui, thailand With its thatched roof spouting from broccoli-like terrain, your arrival to Six Senses Samui may feel a little like entering an indigenous desert island. You’ll find the resort’s presidential villa here – it’s one of 66 sweetly scattered villas – constructed from trademark conkerbrown Thai wood, all the way down to its staircase which invites you onto the sunbathing deck and daybeds that await patiently below. Once there, you can let the sun touch your skin in solitude. Bliss. Sleeps: Up to four. Best for: Seclusion without self-catering: the villa’s sprawling ocean-facing terrace and table for ten is shaded by an expanse of jungle-like vegetation – the perfect tropical setting in which to feast on in-villa dining or barbecues – served by a personal butler, naturally. www.sixsenses.com/SixSensesSamui

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EssEntial sElEction | world’s bEst villas

Villa amiZadE, moZamBiquE

Deep in the Charente Maritime countryside sits the most charming of watermills to call your own – at least for a week or two. The house itself (pictured) is the prettiest vision of quintessential French countrystyle with its white shutters, creeper-clad façade and stone walls that hug rooms of antique-style furniture. Its real allure comes from an original waterwheel that still turns – you can see the mill stream trickle through the house under a glass-viewing panel (magical when lit-up at night). But a stylish restoration means there’s nothing ancient about its finishes – rather an eight-person Jacuzzi, huge heated saltwater swimming pool and a 50-inch plasma TV in the lounge. Sleeps: Eighteen across eight double bedrooms and a garden room. Best for: Food-lovers: the stone kitchen’s long island just begs to be cooked upon and the room opens onto the front and back, so you can take freshly baked fare outside and dine on a sun-dappled terrace. www.lepetitmoulin.com

You’ll be even more in awe of your luxury digs here on realising it was built by the hands of the Island’s local community – making its mothering Azura Resort Mozambique’s first eco-retreat. The newest villa is Amazade (meaning ‘friendship’) whose creature comforts blend the on-trend with the natural (bold Missoni fabrics against soft driftwood details) while evoking a sense of island life through its shaggy, thatched roof and beachfront garden – where a hammock forms the dreamiest spot for a daytime doze. But its setting is the real selling point; nestled inside Bazaruto National Park, you’re in for an unspoilt treat of pure, cotton-soft sands and crystal clear, salty waters. Sleeps: Up to four. Best for: Barefoot escapism. If the water babies among you are game for dipping more than just your toes in the Azure Sea, immerse yourself in scuba diving, snorkelling, fishing or dhow sailing. www.azura-retreats.com

Image: www.rogermoss.com

lE PEtit moulin, FranCE

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lion city | singapore

LION PRIDE Singapore is trying to rebrand itself as a leisure destination. It might just work, says Claire Wrathall.

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lion city | singapore

t

here can’t be another hotel in the world that looks out on three countries. But from the SkyPark, 600ft up on the new Marina Bay Sands hotel in Singapore, you can see not just Singapore, but the skyline of Johor Baharu in Malaysia and across the Strait of Malacca to the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It’s an arresting sight by any standard, but what really took me by surprise was how green so much of it looked. Not just the 60-odd outlying islands, many of them jungle-clad; nor the extravagant SkyPark itself, which is home to more than 900 species, including 250 types of tree; but also Singapore itself, verdant with public parks and bosky avenues. And it stands to become yet greener. Next year, for example, the Botanic Gardens, where botanists from Kew first propagated the Brazilian rubber trees that spawned the industry on which much of Singapore’s wealth was based, will open a 250-acre extension on the reclaimed land that forms the eastern edge of Marina Bay, complete with two modern glasshouses.

‘you can see monkeys and monitor lizards on pulau Ubin as well, perhaps the most atmospheric of all the excursions that singapore has to offer’ Previous page: Marina Sands; Pool at top of same hotel. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Pool at viewing platrom Sky Park; China Town. Next page: The Fullerton Hotel.

For the moment, however, the only way to view this work-in-progress is from the skypark, itself the newest – and by some distance the strangest – green space to have opened in years. shaped like a boat that’s run aground on the roofs of three 57-storey tower blocks, like a sort of glass-and-steel stonehenge, it’s the length of three football pitches and has a swimming pool on its western perimeter that looks across the marina to the central Business District. Most of the park is accessible only to hotel guests, though there is a public observation deck, a 19-second elevator ride from the street. a better ruse, though, is to book a table on the terrace of one of the two restaurants up there: Ku dé ta (pretty ordinary cooking, but the food is hardly the point), or sky on 57, an about-to-open restaurant run by singapore’s most celebrated chef, Justin Quek. Built at a cost of £3.7 billion, the hotel has claims to be a wonder of the world, at least in terms of scale. When it’s finally fully open, there’ll be 10,000 staff, 21 restaurants and 2,561

bedrooms in 18 categories. there are also 10 immense art installations by the likes of antony gormley, sol leWitt and ned Kahn, and an arcade featuring just about every major luxury brand (plus a canal along which you can cruise on flat-bottomed sampans). But while Marina Bay sands is an extraordinary architectural feat, i wouldn’t necessarily choose to stay there. Better to opt for the even newer Fullerton Bay Hotel, which opened just across the water in July. it has marvellous views of the skypark, as well as the armadillo-like theatres on the Bay, but with just 105 very attractive, comfortable rooms, a fine restaurant and its own rooftop swimming pool, which is surrounded by luxuriant foliage and adjoins the lantern, which is swiftly establishing itself as the most modish lounge in the city. like its sister hotel, the Fullerton, converted from the imposing neoclassical post office HQ built in 1928, the Fullerton Bay is part of Fullerton Heritage, a development of two hotels, galleries, shops and restaurants

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‘Best of all, there are undeveloped sandy beaches lapped by unexpectedly clean water, just as there are on st John’s and Kusu islands’ in a waterfront area that strives to make use of listed buildings. the Fullerton Bay may be an unexceptional glass-andsteel newbuild, but it incorporates clifford pier, a huge hall spanned by a red corrugated-iron roof supported by fancy ribbon-like trusses, the place where many immigrants first set foot on the island. now it houses a fashionable chinese restaurant, one on the Bund. and it’s flanked by Waterboat House, a marvellous example of nautical art Deco, and customs House, a low linear structure from the sixties which, when it opens this year, will house cuban, Japanese and italian restaurants together with an oyster bar. i laughed when one of its developers called it a ‘heritage’ building. But it predates independence, he pointed out, and that makes it historic. However, if singapore is essentially a modern megalopolis, roaring as befits a lion city (which is what singa pura means in Malay), where the economy is expected to have grown by 13 to 15 per cent in 2010, there are equally pockets that feel very ancient and untouched. the Bukit timah nature reserve, for example, 400 acres of primeval rainforest bang in the centre of the city, remains home to 500 or so species of fauna, fabulous butterflies, pangolins and long-tailed macaques. you can see monkeys and monitor lizards on pulau Ubin as well, perhaps the most atmospheric of all the excursions that singapore has to offer. Bicycling around this island in the Johor strait (a 10-minute bumboat-ride from changi point), it feels as it must have done in colonial times: a place of rubber plantations, shrimp farms and stilt-houses. Best of all, there are undeveloped sandy beaches lapped by unexpectedly clean water, just as there are on the islands of st John’s and Kusu, south of Marina Bay. in terms of atmosphere and pace, Ubin couldn’t be further from the energy and dynamism of downtown. proof indeed that singapore has far more to offer those on holiday than simply a place to change planes.

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lion city | singapore

THE BEST HOTELS Hotel 1929 its chinatown location is not ideal, but this is one of singapore’s most eccentric boutique hotels. it’s a stunning stucco structure with boxy chinese art Deco balconies and louvred shutters. it was built as a hotel in 1929, when rooms were smaller and en-suite bathrooms a rarity, hence the bathroom-in-the-bedroom arrangement in some rooms (www.hotel1929.com; rooms from $137). Fullerton Bay Hotel Modern décor that reflects singapore’s many cultures (chinese, Malay, indian, peranakan and colonial); beautifully designed; highly recommended (www. fullertonbayhotel.com; from $605 per night). Raffles the most famous hotel in singapore, perhaps in asia, and a national monument since 1987; its attributes include 18 restaurants, an elegant shopping arcade, a 388-seat Victorian theatre – it even has its own museum. Have afternoon tea in its tiffin room, even if you don’t stay here (www.raffleshotel.com; from $500 per night).

THE BEST RESTAURANTS

Images; Marina Sands Hotel, www.leonardo.com, Photolibrary. Text: Claire Wrathall \ The Telegraph \ The Interview People.

The Banana Leaf Apolo an institution since 1974, this no-frills canteen in little india (at 48 serangoon road) serves outstandingly good food, the dark aromatic peppery mutton Mysore in particular, which you eat off banana leaves rather than plates (006297 1595). Harvest Seafood Restaurant the 19th-century shophouses that line Boat Quay on the singapore river are now mostly restaurants, of which this is one of the best. ask for a table by the water and order singapore’s national dishes chilli crab and black pepper crab; mop up the sauce with tiny sweet bread rolls. (006532 6731). The Blue Ginger peranakan is the term used to describe descendants of chinese immigrants who intermarried with Malay. their cooking fuses traditions from both cultures, hence spring rolls, sambals and soupy coconut curries. located like most peranakan restaurants in the Katong area, this three-level former shop-house at 97 tanjong pagar is probably the best (006222 3928).

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| st lucia | st lucia caribbean queen caribbean queen

it’s a jungle out there Which is the most perfect island in the Caribbean? Claire Wrathall explains why St Lucia, in the Lesser Antilles, gets her vote. Show me a tropical beach and I’ll lie on it gladly. But the pleasures of an afternoon’s idling in the shallows and soaking up warmth redouble after a morning’s exertions. to my mind, this makes st lucia the most perfect island in the caribbean. For this is a place rich in things to do, from riding creole thoroughbreds through the waves on cas-enbas beach to zip-lining through the rainforest canopy. it’s also paradise for walkers as st lucia abounds in trails. the obvious challenge is to climb the Pitons, the almost perfectly conical twin lava spikes designated a World Heritage site. the reasonably fit can get to the summit of the Gros Piton (2,618ft), in around two hours, from which the views, as far as Martinique to the north and st Vincent to the south on a clear day, more than justify any breathlessness you’ve suffered on the way up. at 2,408ft, the Petit Piton ought to be easier, but it’s a very steep, much tougher ascent that involves knotted ropes and officially the path, or what exists of one at least, is closed for safety reasons. if Gros Piton sounds a trek too far, there are plenty of less strenuous options in the hinterland around st lucia’s highest peak, Morne Gimie, and through the edmund Forest reserve, an area cloaked in the sort of improbably beautiful

jungle imagined by the painter Henri ‘le Douanier’ rousseau: of waterfalls you can bathe under (the enbas saut Falls feed a sequence of three idyllic pools), cloud forest, stunted ‘elfin woodland’ and extraordinary trees. immense chataigniers, for example, their buttressed trunks bound by strangler figs; spidery tree ferns, whose woody stems sprout parasitical bromeliads; and sprays of heliconia thronged by humming birds no bigger than your thumb. no wonder Derek Walcott, the more famous of st lucia’s two nobel Prize winners (the other was the economist arthur lewis), makes repeated references in the opening chapter of his epic novel-in-verse Omeros, to laurier-cannelles, the bark of which is revered as a kind of forest Viagra when made into a tea – our guide winked knowingly – and gommiers, whose highly flammable sap smells of fire lighters. indeed, in the 1790s a band of escaped slaves known as the brigands used it, along with hollow shafts of the giant bamboo that also grows here, to construct makeshift cannons, the roar from which frightened their French rulers into thinking they were well armed. the uprising led to the abolition of slavery in 1794 - at least until britain regained control of the island and brought it back. Few places have been as fought over as st lucia, which changed hands between the French

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caribbean queen | st lucia

and british 14 times before it secured independence in 1979. but it makes for a fascinating fusion of cultures: amerindian, african, european and indian, thanks to the 6,000 indentured workers shipped here from bihar and uttar Pradesh after slavery was abolished. For those who prefer their vegetation ‘colonised’, as Walcott put it when he spoke of the ‘civilising decency [of] botanical gardens’ in his 1992 nobel lecture, st lucia has several notable public gardens to explore. the best known are the Diamond botanical Gardens near the old French capital soufrière, part of a defunct sugar estate bestowed on its owners by louis XiV. but after the rainforest, it all feels a little tamed and over formalised, the incongruous Japanese water garden in particular. by contrast at Mamiku – a creolisation of the name of its first châtelaine, Madame de Micoud, the st lucian-born wife of a 18th-century French governor of the island – you’ll find a dozen acres of what its now septuagenarian creator,

beach that stretches between the Pitons and is currently in the midst of an expensive makeover that will see the resort rebranded next year as the tides sugar beach. Paradoxically its work-in-progress status is a compelling reason to come here this winter, for though the building work is ongoing, the majority of its 85 new luxury villas are open and its rates are a bargain compared with what they will be. certainly in terms of comfort and design, i can’t think there is lovelier, more luxurious accommodation on the island than these pale pastel-painted, quintessentially caribbean ‘gingerbread’ cottages with their ornately carved bargeboards, wraparound verandas and understated white interiors. nor is there a more promising spa than the one that’s just opened here, accessed by a private trail that winds though woodland, its six elevated coconut-thatched treatment rooms set amid the tree canopy. the staff, too - our butler, tyson, in particular -

‘this is a place rich in things to do, from riding creole thoroughbreds through the waves on cas-en-bas beach to zip-lining through the rainforest canopy’ Veronica shingleton-smith, calls ‘controlled jungle’. it may look natural, but this dazzling array of brilliantly coloured anthuriums, crotons, flamboyants, hibiscus and orchids was every bit as planned and contrived as the orderly garden of creole medicinal herbs. shingleton-smith came to st lucia from england in 1952 when her father was stationed here, married into a family who’d arrived in 1906 and has lived here ever since. in addition to growing Fairtrade bananas for Waitrose, she has designed gardens across the island for hotels such as cap Maison and Discovery at Marigot bay, and residents such as the great russian pianist and conductor Vladimir ashkenazy. Her latest venture, however, is the 100-acre grounds at Jalousie Plantation. established by the late lord Glenconner when he moved to st lucia from Mustique in 1992, Jalousie stands on the Previous page: View of the Pitons. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: White sandy beach; Lounge at Jalousie Plantation; Exterior of same hotel; Saffron prawns at same hotel; Lounge at same hotel; Grand luxury villa at same hotel; Orchids.

couldn’t have been kinder or more attentive. but then i sensed this was a good place to work. Other hotel managements might have taken the decision to close while they renovated; here the decision to stay open was driven primarily by a reluctance to lay off any of the 250 staff, even temporarily, at a time when jobs are scarce. inevitably, though, there are caveats. though the new villas categorically count as five-star, as do the restaurants, much of the place still feels a bit run down, the pool area in particular. i loved the creole additions to the menu at bayside on the beach, but not the pretentiousness of the gloomy Great room. the beach - one of the few, incidentally, off which the snorkelling is first rate – could do with new sunloungers and more parasols. and the hotel as a whole is crying out for a fleet of golf carts. For the moment, guests have to rely on an infrequent service of shabby shuttle buses to get about the huge hilly estate. usually i’d advocate walking, but if you’ve been trekking all day in high humidity, the last thing you want is a 20-minute hike to your villa.

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GETTING AROUND car hire is an option, but st lucia is hilly, its roads are steep, sometimes winding and not always in the best repair. better to stick to taxis (negotiate a fixed price before you set off). if you’re staying on the coast, it’s often quicker to travel by sea than by road, so consider the taxi boats that ply their trade from most beaches (again, rates are fixed).

THE BEST HOTELS Fond Doux locally owned working organic cocoa plantation that now supplies Hershey’s, whose 130 acres of orchard are dotted with 10 carefully restored traditional wooden one-and two-bedroom cottages, some dating back to the early 19th century. www. fonddouxestate.com; doubles from $153.

‘the cliff at cap’s open-sided cliff-top gourmet restaurant is the best on the island for fancy cooking’ THE BEST RESTAURANTS

Anse Chastanet Jade Mountain’s less expensive, less extraordinary, less exclusive but still alluring rustic older sister sits right on the beach; family friendly. www.ansechastanet. com; doubles from $358. Jade Mountain its uncompromising concrete exterior may be a bit of an eyesore, but inside this hotel has a wow factor like no other. each of its 29 expansive ‘sanctuaries’ has an open fourth wall with uninterrupted views of the Pitons. and the staff couldn’t be kinder. www.jade mountain.com; doubles from $1,000.

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Chateau Mygo House of Seafood Popular with yachties, this is an informal airy terrace overlooking the water and a great place for freshly-grilled mahimahi (00758 451 4772).

the steeply rising, densely forested northern shore of Marigot bay, accessible only by boat, this place serves cooking that fuses european and creole styles to great effect. (00758 451 4485).

The Coal Pot established in 1968, this st lucia institution rests on pontoons in Vigie Marina; you won’t find better st lucian crab backs (stuffed crab) or a fresher catch of the day (00758 456 8000).

The Cliff at Cap there are better-designed hotels than cap Maison and better locations, but its opensided cliff-top gourmet restaurant is the best on the island for fancy cooking and luxury ingredients: foie gras, lobster, Kobe beef and so on (00758 457 8681)

Rainforest Hideaway an idyllic overwater setting at the foot of

Clockwise from top left: View from Luxury at Jalousie Plantation; Pool at same hotel; Cottages at Fond Doux Estate; Kayaking.

Images; Shutterstock, Photolibrary. Text: Claire Wrathall / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People.

Jalousie Plantation if you go before the resort’s full transformation into the tides sugar beach in november 2011, you will find great deals at both the older cottages and the new luxury villas, which all come with butlers. www.jalousie plantation.com; half board from $276.


Images: Photolibrary, Shutterstock, The jalousie Plantation, Fond Doux estate

caribbean queen | st lucia

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blue city | jodhpur

Chaotic, crowded and humming with life, Jodhpur’s walled city is modern India in miniature, says Amrit Dhilon.

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I

f you want to experience India in a concentrated dose – intense and intoxicating – you have to visit a walled city. Here you will find life lived as it always has been in the mansions, courtyards, winding lanes and ancient markets that arose around a city’s royal palace.

The best of the walled cities, to my mind, is Jodhpur. It is a microcosm of the miracle that is India, a country where people live together in harmony despite violently conflicting faiths and serried living conditions. Every inch of the walled city hums with life and activity. In a five-minute stroll around the sprawling bazaar under the Clock Tower, I see a pile of bulbous clay pots for storing water, of which artist Subodh Gupta would be proud; a bangle maker using hot coals and tools dating back five generations; a beautiful girl carrying ice home in a pail; a deformed “Elephant Man” striding along, challenging anyone to stare at him; women removing petals from roses for garlands; and a man selling antique locks with a side business in dentures (his roadside stall displays two hand-painted smiles). There are no pavements. Homes and shops abut the narrow alleyways. I can see children on the rooftops flying kites, while from the mosques comes the haunting sound of the azan. I also pass the crumbling old havelis (mansions), with their great entrance gates and carved balconies, offering a glimpse of how Jodhpur’s nobility once lived in the shadow of Mehrangarh Fort, home to the city’s maharajas since the 15th century. The fort itself is quite

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blue city | jodhpur

simply breathtaking. There is plenty to see inside – including gilt palanquins and bejewelled daggers – but it is the view of the city spread out below that is sublime. Standing on the ramparts, I am dazzled by the Brahmins’ blue houses, which are dotted all over the city (Jodhpur is often referred to as the Blue City). One theory suggests these houses were painted with indigo to demarcate the high-caste Brahmin quarter and distinguish it from the rest of the city. Another offers the more mundane explanation that indigo deters mosquitoes. Whatever the truth, today they shimmer in the sunshine following a monsoon shower. On the horizon stands Umaid Bhawan, an Art Deco palace of red sandstone that can rival the greatest of European cathedrals in its lofty grandeur. This imposing and expensive hotel is a must-see if you are to understand the lifestyle of Rajasthan’s maharajas, which used to leave European royalty gasping. I have always had a soft spot for Jodhpur’s walled city, but the problem used to be where to stay. After my shot of Indian essence, I need a comforting sedative – but the only places inside the old quarter used to be guesthouses of varying degrees of undesirability. Fine Previous page: Aerial view of the blue-soaked city. Opposite page, left to right: A colourfully dressed woman walks the city’s narrow passageways; A marble memorial bulilding. This page: Street life.

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blue city | jodhpur

Left: Pool at the Raas hotel.

world’s first environmentalists” owing to their love of wild animals and protection of the environment, the Bishnois are now widely known. Arjun Ram Bishnoi and his splendidly bejewelled wife, Devi (Bishnoi women wear chunky tribal jewellery even when working in the fields), show me a blackbuck antelope grazing near their hut. As we chat, the laconic Arjun strokes the goat that lives inside his hut and remarks: “Some animals give you more affection than your own children.” Another 30 minutes’ drive from the Bishnoi villages, the desert proper begins. Here you will find the Rohet Garh Wilderness Camp, run by Siddharth Singh, which comprises six tents on a sand dune in the Thar Desert. The sand dune is the highest point in a flat landscape, so it offers spectacular views. At night, there is nothing but silence, moonlight, infinity, stars and a soft breeze. The word

‘Standing on the ramparts, I am dazzled by the Brahmins’ blue houses, which are dotted all over the city... they shimmer in the sunshine following a monsoon shower’ for backpackers, but not my cup of chai. One of Jodhpur’s gilded youths, the polo-playing Nikhilendra Singh, has solved the problem. Like a doctor delicately inserting a stent into an artery, he has tucked Raas, a luxurious hotel with beautifully designed interiors, into a crevice of the walled city. In 2007, Singh, who arranged Elizabeth Hurley’s wedding at Umaid Bhawan Palace, the smartest hotel in Jodphur, bought a 150-yearold haveli lying in ruins at the foot of Mehrangarh Fort, restored it, and added rooms, restaurants and a pool using local materials that mesh perfectly with the original structures. It’s a striking juxtaposition of international chic with antiquity. From the entrance, you enter a narrow, high-walled passage that opens on to a Mughal garden and there, right in front of you, is the fort, which Rudyard Kipling called “the work of giants”, on its rocky escarpment. The balcony of every room has this spectacular view – it’s a vista of which you never tire. The other great appeal of the densely congested walled city is that, after a 10-minute drive, you can be in the open, semi-arid scrubland outside the urban sprawl. There you can visit the Bishnoi tribe. Often referred to as “the

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tent, however, is a misnomer. This is how the maharajas lived, in considerable splendour, with the entire court in attendance, when they travelled across the desert. Still, in the midst of such luxury, there is something elemental and primeval about it all. Siddharth Singh also owns Rohet Garh itself, the palace where Bruce Chatwin spent six months writing The Songlines in 1985 before the estate was turned into a hotel. Madonna and Guy Ritchie were more recent visitors. Siddharth Singh and his wife, Rashmi, have just opened another resort, a fantasy fortress made of mud on a high sand dune at the desert’s edge from where, as far as the eye can see, there is no human or animal life, just scrubland and then desert stretching into the horizon. Mihirgarh, or “Sun Fortress”, boasts all the accoutrements one expects of a luxury establishment, but also celebrates the crafts of Jodhpur – virtually every object in the nine palatial suites has been handmade by Jodhpur artisans. Reclining by the pool on the terrace, I watch the sun set over the wilderness. All is tranquil and still, and it’s as if I am dreaming. Then an attendant appears to replenish my Darjeeling and I realise I am very much awake. What a relief.


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Rail life StoRy New Zealand’s trains, like the country itself, offer a glimpse of an older world. On South Island, James Owen relishes the chance to slow down and take stock.

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W

aiting in Picton’s station – all trim white wood and red brick – brought to mind the cliché that travelling in New Zealand is like being in England in the Fifties. On the bench beside me a young boy kept glancing up from his copy of Thomas the Tank Engine at the stout, bluepainted train we were waiting to board. The carriages beside the only platform had old-fashioned handles on their doors, and farther down I could see porters loading baggage, and even an observation car. There was a sense of occasion among the locals queuing to buy tickets. Yet that stemmed, I had learnt to my surprise, not from any feelings of nostalgia but from novelty value. We were not, it seemed, about to rattle back into the past on a

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piece of the nation’s heritage ousted by a more modern service. The attraction of this train was more basic. New Zealand has no passenger network to speak of, and while air travel was a regular experience for most of the youngsters who were taking their seats, few of them had ridden by rail before. ‘Here, you travel by train for the journey, not to get somewhere,’ explained Raewyn, who was guiding a tour group of Australians. A combination of mountainous topography and a small population had meant that the British Empire had never constructed an extensive railway here. In recent times, what services there were had been greatly reduced after several changes of ownership and much asset-stripping. Now, all that remained were a few commuter lines, mainly around Wellington, and a track – chiefly aimed at tourists – that slid slowly down the country from Auckland


raIl journey | new zealand

Previous page from left: Cattle; Coastal Pacific train crosses the Southern Alps. Clockwise from top left: View over the grapevines of Blenhien; Coastal Pacific train; Southern Alps; Classical English Tram in Christchurch.

to Christchurch and then over the Southern Alps to Greymouth. Once a day, a train sets out along a 200-mile stretch of this that the marketing men have named the TranzCoastal: the journey from Picton, a harbour town on the northern rim of the South Island, to Christchurch. Soon we had left behind the hills above Picton, and were running down to Blenheim, through a flatter landscape of orchards and then past rows of vines smudged by an early tinge of autumn. Across a table from me was Chris, an architect. He had flown up from farther south for a meeting and was taking the chance to go back by train. Beyond the window were the images I had expected of New

‘If the lowering hills beyond were reminiscent of Scotland, then it was a Scotland basking in near-tropical sunshine’

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Zealand – a farmer repairing wire, newly shorn sheep white against the yellowing grass – but talking to Chris and others of his generation made me appreciate that a new identity was emerging here, one that looked less to colonial Britain and more to the once-shunned native culture. It was noticeable, for instance, how those under 50 used Maori rather than English names for local trees. Even sheep are no longer big business: farmers now favour dairy herding. Another influence in the past 20 years has been immigration from Asia and the Mediterranean. New kinds of cooking have thrived, the coffee has become drinkable and chardonnay flourishes on the fertile plain across which we were trundling. If the lowering hills beyond were reminiscent of Scotland, then it was a Scotland basking in near-tropical sunshine. I leant over the rail of the open-sided observation car to feel the cool of the air against my face. I let my thoughts drift, lulled by the sluggish rhythm of our progress. Then a long blast of the hooter woke me from my reverie. The red-andyellow diesel engine was beginning to curve through Dashwood Pass, and the driver had to alert workmen on the track. The carriage swayed, and we lunged for handholds. Soon the breeze smelt of salt, not from the ocean but from Lake Grassmere, a shallow lagoon among the dunes where seawater is allowed to evaporate and the residue is harvested for domestic use and for bleaching paper. Now we could see the grey sand of a beach, and the spare white limbs of trees on the foreshore, gaunt survivors of the desiccating effects of wind and sun. About two hours and 80 miles out from Blenheim, the train began to run alongside the blue of the Pacific. Propelled by a light swell, frothy spume flecked boulders beside the line. Joe came from Hawkes Bay, on the North

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‘The sky was sullen, two parts copper to one of lead, but the scenery majestic. either side of the carriage rose nearsheer hot, grey, rugged rock.’ Island, and was giving his children their first taste of the South. They knew it had a harder climate than where they lived, but they were surprised by its more varied and wilder landscape, especially its rocky spine. ‘This has been the best part of the trip for us,’ he said, as we pulled into Kaikoura, in the shadow of those same mountains. ‘Doesn’t everyone like trains?’ We waited a while as Joe and others disembarked. The sun picked out a piping of snow that ran along the range and I savoured the sound of the syllables of its highest peak, Tapuae-o-Uenuku, or ‘footprint of the rainbow’. Offshore, its mirror image, the 10,000ft-deep Hikurangi Trench, is the larder of the whales, dolphins and marine birds – albatross, petrels and even blue penguins – that are Kaikoura’s great attraction. The engine hefted its load once more and we followed the coast, rolling through a bucolic landscape of lightly wooded hills coursed by swift brooks. For much of the way, the road ran beside the line, disappearing into its own tunnels as we slid through ours from light into darkness

and back again. A bus, not travelling at any great pace, overtook us easily. A succession of smooth, grey sandy coves was soon a memory as the track started to weave inland, darting back occasionally to the water to rinse off the heat. The late afternoon sun blew fire into the glassy surface of the waves. Through stubby spinneys of akeake I saw the bend of a river, as silvery as the underside of a fern. ‘They say it’s the last place God made,’ an Australian voice said beside me. ‘He put in all his favourite bits from elsewhere.’ Not far away is the farm where for 40 years Charles Upham, the only soldier to win the Victoria Cross twice, lived quietly. The voice belonged to Dennis, who was relishing the abundance of nature visible from the observation car. ‘In Oz there’s just bush and it just keeps on going.’ His wife’s people used to own 50,000 acres ‘up on the place where Waltzing Matilda was written’. There, drought was a fact of life. One year they had lost almost half their sheep. By comparison, as a New Zealander would say, this wellwatered land was ‘all good’. The sound of the train startled a blackfaced herd, which scurried toward the hills. Shorn of their cloak of trees, the bare ridges stood out sharply as we dropped down to the Canterbury plain, another major grape producing region about 40 minutes’ drive from Christchurch. ‘The Garden City’ has the reputation of being the most English in New Zealand and as we neared it order began to reassert itself in the countryside. Lines of pines, planted for regeneration, gave way to a Midsomer Murders notion of England: a neat cemetery; gabled cottages. Only the long, long bank of white cloud in the distance held a hint of the exotic. Right on time, after four hours and 21 minutes, we drew into Christchurch station. Right: Arthur’s Pass at sunset.


| New ZeAlANd | AFRICA RAIl jouRNey TANZANIA

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Images; Photolibrary; Shutterstock; Tranzscenic Railways.

rail journey | new zealand

The stretch of line from Christchurch to Greymouth has been dubbed the TranzAlpine; the next day I set off to travel a stretch of it that train buffs rate as being among the top 10 of short railway journeys: the descent from the Southern Alps back to Christchurch. A minibus whisked me from the hotel up to Arthur’s Pass, at some 3,000ft the highest point on the road-andrail crossing over the mountains, where I found the train waiting. The sky was sullen, two parts copper to one of lead, but the scenery majestic. Either side of the carriage rose near-sheer hot, grey, rugged rock. The absence of other life was almost total. In winter, the station can be snowed in for several days, but even though the sun now bore down on the high slopes around us, the train itself was deep in shadow. Bucking occasionally on the rail, we began to cross a series of viaducts built a century before over the bends in the river. Their sections had been prefabricated in Britain and then sent by sea. Light flittered through the wooden slats at the sides of the bridges, put there to protect the trains from the 200mph winds that can barrel down the canyon in stormy weather. Most of those on the train were tourists. The service, which was only instituted in 1987 in place of a failing passenger line, is the most profitable in New Zealand – indeed, one of the few that makes any money. More than 200,000 people a year travel by it and around me were visitors from Malaysia and Canada, as well as a group of Saudi engineers who had flown in for a conference on public utilities. Below, the cliffs fell straight to the valley Clockwise from top left: Sheep graze in Canterbury; TranzAlpine crosses bridge; Deer bouncing through grass; TranzAlpine train passes through Canterbury.

‘the deer turned their backs on the train and began to bounce away through the grass, their motion as graceful as any ballerina’s’ floor, and as we jolted over the bridge I remembered nervously being told that it was high enough to fit Christchurch Cathedral beneath it. The mountains descended swiftly and after about two hours we began to wind through a series of tunnels and viaducts known as the Staircase. The train bent in a series of C and S shapes, hastening now as if trying to keep pace with the faltering sun. The light on the Waimakariri river fell more subtly, a change matched by that in the steadily more domesticated world beyond the window. Moraine gave way to flat grasslands, pine to palm. Windbreaks appeared, then wheat, and finally clapboard houses behind manicured hedges. The line of hills grew more distant. A sign on a vast metal shed, used for seed storage, told us we were at Darfield. The day had gone, leaving only vestigial traces of pale orange in the sky. As the dusk thickened, the tilled earth beside the train turned from mauve to black. A twinkling of fairy lights could be seen on the heights behind us, while ahead Christchurch already shimmered with neon.

I thought back to the calm of that journey the following evening, when somewhere over the water between Auckland and Sydney the captain informed us that an engine had failed and we would have to turn around. There is something of a bygone age about the train, but it is all of a part with what I discovered in a New Zealand entirely comfortable with itself. What I found was a place where the striving that drives life elsewhere in the world was virtually absent. There seemed to be no urge among those I met just to accumulate more stuff, to get somewhere ahead of everyone else. For the first time in many years I had had the time, and had felt the need, to reflect. I had taken life, like the train, at its own pace, and enjoyed it for what it showed me. There had been a moment, too, on that afternoon ride from Picton, when I had felt more in harmony with the world than for many years. I had been watching what I thought must be deer, standing half-hidden in the shade of trees a hundred yards from the track. Some instinct had startled them, and they turned their backs on the train and began to bounce away through the grass, their motion as graceful as any ballerina’s. I followed their movement with my head, and my eye caught that of Joe, the man from the North Island. He had been watching the same thing. For an instant, we had been admitted to an older world, one that still existed if you knew where to look and if you gave it room to breathe. We had come into it only for a short time, but for just long enough to still the ticking of the clock. I had forgotten how good it was just to be, to float on the water rather than to seek to part it. ‘All good, mate?’ Joe said. ‘Yes,’ I replied, ‘all good, mate. it’s definitely all good.’

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kyoto | japan

From the heart With graceful geishas, toWering buildings and manga mania, it’s little Wonder that this ancient city, the heart of Japan, is also its cultural core, says Simon HorSford.

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‘H

arrison Ford, Harrison Ford...’ bellowed my taxi driver into his mobile. We were on our way to a shop in downtown Kyoto and he was giving instructions to the manager. It was only after I inquired why he was uttering the name of the Hollywood actor that we established he thought I was Harrison Ford or, rather, that was how he pronounced my surname. When we arrived at the shop there was a distinct air of disappointment. Lost in translation, indeed.

The experience captured the strange sense of unreality that often pervades Japanese culture, at least to a foreigner’s eyes. I’d arrived in Kyoto after an effortless transfer from Tokyo airport to the main station and on to the ‘bullet’ train for the journey south – 320 miles in just two and a quarter hours. Super slick and right on time, too, with the bonus of a glimpse of Mount Fuji in the distance. Kyoto was Japan’s capital for more than 1,000 years, until 1868, when a power struggle between the shogun and Emperor Meiji swung the way of the latter and the country’s political focus moved to Edo, now Tokyo. In many ways the city still represents old

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kyoto | japan

Japan. Yes, you are never far from the cutting edge – witness the stunning steel and glass of the main station, the National Museum of Modern Art and the fact that the city is the headquarters of Nintendo. But ancient and modern are never far apart and there’s a definite awareness of the benefits of preserving the past, and not just for the sake of visitors – height restrictions on new buildings, for example, and strict rules on billboards. Kyoto has been described as the most Japanese part of Japan and the centre of its culture. And no wonder, with mesmerising buildings such as Ginkaku-ji (Silver Pavilion) and its beautiful garden, or Kinkaku-ji (Golden Pavilion), which shimmers in the adjacent lake. Then there’s the 13th-century Sanjusangen-do, which houses 1,001 wooden statues. Such buildings aside – and there are 1,600 of them – Kyoto is a city that lends itself to being explored on foot or by bicycle. For a start, it’s laid out on a grid, it’s flat (locals call the city trayland) and lies between three mountains (Arashiyama, Higashiyama and Kitayama). Kyoto’s districts form a loose rectangle and each offers contrasting insights into local life. In Higashiyama, I made for the Tetsugaku-no-Michi, a lovely, cherry treelined canalside walk known as the Path of Philosophy, dedicated to the 20th-century thinker Nishida Kitaro. Residents by the canal not only make sure the path is litter free, but also clear the water of rubbish. It was a sight I found common in Japan where cleanliness is an essential part of the culture. To the west, the district of Arashiyama and Sagano offers something different: a wander through a towering bamboo grove just outside the north gate of Tenryuji; it can get busy, but a walk among these incredible photogenic trees, with their strange, smooth trunks, is enchanting. Nearby, the Hozu-Gawa river is dotted with flat-bottom boats, their boatmen armed with poles steering passengers along the steep-sided valley; down river, cormorant fishermen can be seen using their birds to catch fish. I lunched late at Kurama Onsen (hot spring), tucking into a beautifully prepared bento box lunch, before stripping off and venturing outside to immerse myself in one of the sulphur spring baths – being sure to shower and rinse first (it is considered impolite to get soap in the bath). The springs are meant to help with rheumatism, high blood pressure, backache and much more, but I simply felt cleansed and refreshed, if a bit flushed and slightly conspicuous.

‘The Hozu-Gawa river is dotted with flat-bottom boats, their boatmen armed with poles steering passengers along the steep-sided valley; down river, cormorant fishermen can be seen using their birds to catch fish’

Opposite page clockwise from top left: Ginkaku-ji garden; Classic Japanese architecture; Geisha posing in the street. This page: Boat on the Hozu-Gawa river.

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Back in town, as the light began to fade, I hopped on a local bus and headed for the Nishiki food market, a riot of weird Japanese delicacies, the oddest of which was an octopus head stuffed with a quail egg, dyed red and served on a stick – I declined. Even though the street was crowded everyone was unfailingly polite. It was the same at pedestrian crossings: hordes of people waited patiently for the green light, then crossed in unison. A while later, I was among the busy, narrow streets of Gion, lined with traditional small shops, an area once known as the city’s ‘pleasure district’ but now the place for entertainment and exquisite, kimono-clad geishas who shuffle demurely down the road. Later that night, the right connections at my hotel, the Hyatt Regency, got me into a teahouse to watch a performance by a maiko (an apprentice geisha). We were led into a simply decorated backroom where I sat cross-legged as she introduced herself, offered sake and then sang and danced accompanied by an older geisha playing a three-stringed samisen. It was a delightful, slightly surreal experience during which – again – everyone

Kanoo World Traveller March 2011

was incredibly well mannered.Alongside the onsen, the geisha and manga (a visit to the Kyoto International Manga Museum didn’t get me any closer to fathoming Japan’s obsession with cartoons and animation), the tea ceremony is also traditional to Japanese life, as I discovered the next day in the pristine setting of the Nishinotoin Tea House. Here, as I sipped from chawan (cups) of powdered bright green matcha and viscous koicha, I was tutored in the medicative roots of this strictly choreographed and ritualised event. Suitably refreshed, I took a final wander through a city that is synonymous with all things green – despite the traffic and many visitors. With 200 gardens, 17 UnescoWorld Heritage Sites and the legacy of the 1997 Kyoto Protocol on climate change, it is a place of obvious beauty, history and culture. And yet an evocative contrast to all this refinement was provided by my YouTube-obsessed taxi driver, who, as we sped past another revered building, captured the flip side of the Japanese character by showing me ever more ridiculous clips.

Images: Photolibrary; Shutterstock; Kyoto Travel Guide. Text: Simon Horsford / The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People

Clockwise from top left: Profile of a Geisha, The Golden Pavilion; Colourful bento box; Japanese lanterns.


Into the wIld KENYA SAFARI (7 Days/6 Nights) - USD.1555

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Day 01 - Arrive in Nairobi, assistance for transfer. Check in at your specified hotel. Day 02 - After breakfast depart for Samburu Game Reserve. Lunch. Afternoon game drive. Dinner and overnight stay at Samburu Simba Lodge. Day 03 - Breakfast. Depart for Nyeri. Lunch at Aberdare Country Club. Afternoon transfer to The Ark. Dinner and overnight stay at The Ark. Day 04 - After breakfast depart for Lake Nakuru Lodge. Lunch. Afternoon game drive. Dinner and overnight stay at Lake Naivasha Simba Lodge. Day 05 - After breakfast depart for Masai Mara Game Reserve. Lunch Afernoon game drive. Dinner and overnight stay at Mara Simba Lodge. Day 06 - Breakfast. Morning and afternoon game drives. You can also take an optional ballon safari. All meals and overnight stay at Mara Simba Lodge. Day 07 - After breakfast transfer to Nairobi airport.

Day 01 - Arrive in Prague. Met and assisted, then transferred to a five star hotel. Ultimate body massage in a couple suite at The Spa for about ninety minutes. Overnight stay. Day 02 - After breakfast a private walking tour for 4 hours. Overnight stay at the hotel. Day 03 - Breakfast at the hotel. Entire day at leisure for shopping or just relaxation. Day 04 - After breakfast, check-out and transferred to the airport. Terms and Conditions The prices are valid till 30 April, 2011 and subject to change without prior notice, rates for other dates will be provided on your request. Please call or contact any Kanoo Travel or Kanoo Holidays office for more details on the package and your specific requirement. Kanoo Holidays terms and conditions apply to all bookings.

PlUS! Get 10% off hotels and car rentals worldwide!

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August 2010 Kanoo World Traveller 13


Mayfair Mayfairisisthe theheart heartof ofLondon London Brown’s Brown’sisisthe theheart heartof ofMayfair. Mayfair. Mayfair is the hearthome-away-from-home. of London This Thischic chichotel hoteloffers offersthe theperfect perfecthome-away-from-home. Brown’s the heart of Boasting Boastingluxurious luxurious rooms roomsis and and suites suites that thatyou youMayfair. will willnever neverwant wanttotoleave, leave, outstanding outstandingdining diningthat thatyou youwill willnever neverforget forgetand andheavenly heavenlyspa spatreatments, treatments, This chic hotelisisoffers theaddress perfect home-away-from-home. Brown’s Brown’s the theonly only addressyou youneed needininLondon. London. Boasting luxurious rooms and suites that you will never want to leave, outstanding dining that you will never forget and heavenly spa treatments, Brown’s is the only address you need in London. Albermarle AlbermarleStreet, Street,London, London,W1S W1S4BP 4BP Tel: Tel:020 0207493 74936020 6020Fax: Fax:020 0207493 74939381 9381 E-mail: E-mail:reservations.browns@roccofortecollection.com reservations.browns@roccofortecollection.com www.roccofortecollection.com www.roccofortecollection.com Albermarle Street, London, W1S 4BP Tel: 020 7493 6020 Fax: 020 7493 9381


concierge Tuscany | cannes | Kyiv | Phuket

The 30-second concierge

Michela Di Marcello, castello Di Vicarello How would you sum up the hotel and its setting? It’s a medieval Italian castle surrounded by gardens in the middle of the Maremma countryside which dates back to 1100. Its restoration has been long and every piece inside is authentic; either inherited from the owners’ families or travels. Today the private home serves as a beautiful retreat where people can forget about the stresses of everyday living. Which is the best room in the castle? Suite Chiesina; a two-story, 18th century-style cottage. It has a kitchen, living room and bathroom (with a great tub) as well as a grand master bedroom whose balcony peers over the Tuscan hills. Its terrace also has incredible panoramas – the perfect place to sit beneath the stars at night.

If I booked a stay here, how would I spend my time? We have a fantastic spa and beautiful travertine infinity pool to relax in. Or, for something different, Mrs Aurora Baccheschi and our castle chef offer tailor-made cooking classes so you can learn how to create your dream Italian menu or bake fresh bread, pasta and focaccia. What can I expect at meal times? Home-cooked Tuscan meals using our own grown vegetables and seasonal produce. Come in summer and you can eat out on the terrace or in our charming gardens or, during cooler months, pick a cosy corner in our intimate 18th century-style dining room or sit at the long, 17th century table in our castle courtyard. www.castellodivicarello.it

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Ukraine

Visit Kyiv

Through Russian rule and German invasion, Kyiv has emerged as an independent, European capital and – as Laura Binder finds – there’s plenty to write home about.

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rriving in Ukraine’s capital, you may be forgiven for expecting a somewhat grey scene – it is one of the oldest cities in eastern europe, after all. But what you’re met with is something quite spectacular; gold domes pierce the skylines; lush hilltops overlook the Dnipro river; and sea and sand can be found at the city’s plentiful beaches. Trying to navigate your way around kyiv, though, can be tough – most signs here are written in Cyrillic script – but don’t let that stop you. Jump on the metro (it’s swift and easy-to-use) and stop by street vendors for ‘kvas’, a staple brewed bread drink (you’ll love it or hate it) and bites like Borscht and Mlyntzi. Oh, and select your season of visit wisely: summer brings climes of 24 degrees , while in winter it dips to minus 19. So it’s a choice of basking on the beach or wrapping up warm to explore the streets as snow falls, when the city looks prettier than ever. 66

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KYIV MUST-DOS For carefree days, make for the water. Dnipro River (1) is a prime sunbathing spot where you can sail in summer or icefish on its frozen surface come winter. But the best beaches can be found on Trukhaniv Island (2) or Hydropark (3). If you fancy a shopping trip, go underground to the Globus Mall (4) (the biggest around) or go to Kreshchatyk Street’s (5) boutiques for quirkier buys. Kyiv was virtually destroyed during the invasion of World War II and history-enthusiasts can get a hold on the turbulent time with a visit to the Motherland Statue and War

memorials (6). While you’re there, make for The Museum to the Great Patriotic War (7) which you’ll find at the statue’s base – its artifacts and original photos can’t fail to move you. Drink-in the city’s greenery at the Central Botanical Gardens (8); its manicured grounds are fairytale-like and quaint paths lead to hidden vistas that you’ll want to capture on camera. Spend a day perusing an art gallery: the best of the bunch being the Da Vinci Gallery (9) where Kyiv’s finest sculptures reside. Alternatively, head to the Bereznitskiy Gallery (10), where you can cast your eyes upon works by Ukraine’s finest artists.


concierge | kyiv

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Opposite page: Colourful houses. Clockwise from left: Dumplings; Funicular; Imperial Square; The Premier Palace Hotel.

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MOTHER TONGUE ‘Surzhik’ is the name of the dialect widely-spoken by kievans – russian with a few Ukranian words added in WHAT’S MY NAME? The city’s old spelling of ‘kiev’ is still often used but, since 1995, the official spelling of the capital was changed to ‘kyiv’. Grab your camera and snap the strangest building in town: House of Chimeras (11). Stone

Images: Shutterstock, Premier Hotels.

animals and animated gargoyles cling to its roof, making it a somewhat fantastical home for a presidential administration office, as it’s now used. Maydan NezalezhnostI (12) is a fountain-filled square that’s alive with activity; from vendors selling food to jam-packed side-street cafes and locals chattering – all beneath statues of winged angels. Listen out for the free, open-air summer concerts which draw big names like Elton John. If you’re drawn to all-things sparkly, you’ll love the Historical Treasures Museum (13). It’s home to a spellbinding selection of precious Ukranian stones and metals – plus a glistening collection of gold jewels.

where to stay Hyatt Regency Kiev (14) 5, Alla Tarasova Street www.kiev. regency.hyatt.com Make reservations here for five-star luxury. Its views span Kyiv’s Old City and seem to quite literally soak-up its historic aura. Inside, though, contemporary design reigns and – if you really want to push the boat out – its Presidential Suite is unbeatable (you can virtually lose yourself in its master bathroom). Its butler service means you barely have to lift a finger either but, if you do step out, make the hotel’s Grill Asia your first port of call: a swanky eatery that’s arguably Kyiv’s finest. From $364. The Premier Palace Hotel (15) 5-7/29 T Shevchenka Blvd, Pushkinska St www.premier-palace.com/en

Grand Russian style sums up the look of this 20th century hotel – as spellbinding from the outside (it’s huge façade looks amazing when lit up at night) as it is glamorous inside. There’s gold finishes at every turn and luxe fabrics in deep tones make it an easy place in which to relax. When it comes to where to spend the night, plump for a room on the Executive Floor – suites here feel like your own private (and grand) residence. From $365.

where to eat Comme II Faut (16) Velyka Zhytomyrska Street 2A 044 219 1919 Barely-there blue walls, checkered floors, white linens and crystal chandeliers make dinnertimes spent here feel almost Parisian. Its hopelessly

chic surrounds are mirrored by the menu; a mouthwatering display of French fine dining. A fabulous stop-off for fashionable diners, find it on the first floor of the InterContinental Kiev – and dress to impress. From $14. Khutotok (17) Ul. Naberezhno, Khreshcatskaya 044 416 8039 It doesn’t get much more authentic than this; a restaurant aboard a wooden houseboat docked on the Dnieper. While it draws an eclectic clientele, its offerings remain the same: old Ukraine through and through, even the waitresses don traditional Ukranian peasantwear. Take the chance to sample ‘real’ food, like vareniki; a Ukrainian dumpling plump with potato, meat and vegetables. From $10.

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france

Visit CAnnes

Aerin Rose jets into Cannes to soak up the sun, glitz and glamour of the French Riviera’s prized jewel.

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or ten days of the year, the lenses of the paparazzi are trained on the stylish, seaside city of cannes as it hosts its annual film festival. for that short spell as the glitterati take over the town, you’ll be hard pushed to find an available hotel room anywhere within a mile of the city’s famous promenade – and if you did, your stay would cause considerable damage to your credit card – but come here outside of that silly season (May) and you’ll find a city that doesn’t need Hollywood razzmatazz to boost its charms. a jewel of the french riviera, cannes is a playground for the rich and famous and their transport of choice, the outsized yacht, is more visible than the car. They come here for the sea and sun, old-school opulent hotels, brilliant boutiques and, if you eschew those on the waterfront, great restaurants - the best of which can be found either side of steep streets in the city’s old town. 68

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Cannes must-dos A simple stroll down the beautiful Boulevard Le Croisette (1) grants you an opportunity to walk the length of a seafront lined by restaurants, designer stores, super yachts and the odd Ferrari, capturing Cannes in a nutshell. Though most of the seafront hotels offer their own stretch of private beach, you will pay extra for the privilege of sitting on it, hotel guest or not. If that rankles with you, there’s always the public beach (2) further on down the coastline where you can soak up the same sun, albeit without a lounger and waiter service.

Take a boat over to neighbouring island SaintMarguerite, a tiny forested atoll where the mysterious ‘Man in the Iron Mask’ was imprisoned. The island is now home to a museum, which displays a few fascinating Roman artifacts recovered from sunken ships in the area. Another nearby island, Saint-Honorat, is a great place to spend an afternoon walking amidst ruins, gardens and an old stone fortress. There’s a great restaurant here too that’s perfect for lunch. Head to Le Suquet (3), the city’s old town, where you’ll find medieval buildings and


concierge | cannes

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Images: Shutterstock, Photolibrary, IHG, www.leadinghotelsoftheworld.com.

MEAT MARKET everyday but Monday cannes hosts a fantastic food market where locals farmers and artisans sell their wares. if you love french food, you’ll adore the offerings here. LITTLE SISTER cannes is known as the sister city of Beverly Hills because of its celebrity crowd. steep, winding walkways that come alive at night with street performers. This is also a great place to eat – restaurants stand cheek by jowl and most are excellent. Take a post-dinner stroll to the top of the hill and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning view over the starlit bay. If you don’t want to blow a small fortune in one of the city’s countless designer boutiques, check out the great flea market (4) which is held every Saturday aside the city’s old port. Flowers are also sold here and the scent that fills the air on a sunny morning makes it a great place to browse.

where to stay Hotel Majestic Barriere (5) Boulevard de la Croisette www.lucienbarriere.com If you want to make like a celebrity and sample a slice of the high life Cannes is famous for, be sure to book a suite here. You’ll overlook the sea and the palm tree-lined boulevard

below, and enjoy in-house comforts that include a private beach and the soon-to-open La Petite Maison de Nicole, a branch of the famous – and mighty fine - Nice eatery. Rooms from $300. InterContinental Carlton Cannes (6) Boulevard de la Croisette www.ichotelsgroup.com There are few more beautiful buildings along the French Riviera than that which houses this plush hotel. In fact, it has been registered as a ‘historical monument’ and is a muchtreasured landmark, resplendent

on the edge of the ocean. Here, as a means of celebrating the city’s Film Festival, suites are named after famous names from the silver screen. Rooms from $195.

where to eat Zplage (7) www.hotel-martinez.com Martinez Hotel Boulevard de la Croisette Set on a private beach, this is the place to be seen in Cannes, so don’t be surprised to see a celebrity or two at the tables next to you. Given its ocean-side location, it’s a fantastic place

to enjoy a spot of lunch and if you’re in the mood to sample fresh catches from the sea, try the outstanding sushi. Mains from $32. Le Manoir (8) www.lemanoircannes.fr 4 Rue Saint-Antione, Quartier Le Suquet You won’t go far wrong wherever you choose to dine on Rue Saint-Antione with all of the restaurants here offering good value set menus and great food in cosy surrounds. But it would be rude not to sample somewhere French. Set 3-course menus from $45.

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 69


Feeling excited about your holiday? Check through our list of the most popular Kanoo Travel offices, find one near you and head down or call up to turn your getaway dreams into reality...

Bahrain Abu Obeidah Avenue Wroad No. 302 Manama Tel. 17 576950 Air Canada/Austrian Airlines/Polish Olympic Airways/Sudan Airways/ Sas/Swiss Int’l/Tunis Mahooz Tel. 17 828770 Air India Manama Tel. 17 220788 Airport Office Bahrain Tel. 17 321325 Al Moayd Tower Manama Tel. 17 220220 Awali Branch Sitrah Avenue Road No. 4522 Tel. 17 756487 British Airways Manama Tel. 17 220701 Egypt Air Manama Tel. 17 220747 Kanoo Holidays Mahooz Tel.17 828802 Kanoo Travel Refinery Tel. 17 755012 Lufthansa Mahooz Tel. 17 828763 Mahooz Tel. 17 828754 Qantas/Jetabout Manama Tel. 17220743 EGYPT Alexandria Booz Allen 1 Youssef El-Shazly Street Roushdy, Alexandria Tel. 002 03 5459265 Alexandria 14 May Str, Sayadlia

Building, Symoha Tel. 002 03 424 1050

75009 Paris Tel. +33 1 4282 4181

Aswan Abtal El-Tahrir Street Corniche El-Nil Tel. 002 097 2306983

Foreign Exchange 11 Rue Scribe Paris 75009 Tel. +33 1 5300 9897

Cairo C/O Halliburton Overseas Ltd Kilometer No 10, Land No 30 Ein Sokhna Road North Kattamia, Cairo Tel. 002 02 27591690

Foreign Exchange 11 Cours de I’Intendance Bordeaux 33000 Tel. +33 5 5600 6336

Dr. Kamal Hussin Heliopolis, Cairo Tel. 002 02 26251307 El Areesh C/O Mfo Northern Sinai Tel. 002 068 3502868 Heliopolis Business Travel Centre 33 Nabil Elwakkad St Heliopolis, Cairo Tel. 002 02 4130375/6 Kasr El Nil 15 Kasr El Nil Street Down Town Tel. 002 02 25747991 Luxor Winter Palace Hotel Tel. 002 095 2378333 Nile Hilton Down Town, Cairo Tel. 002 02 25785001 C/O Schlumberger Zeiny Tower 25 Misr Helwan Road Maadi Tel. 002 02 7684700 Ext. 1014 C/O U.N.D.P 4th Floor, World Trade Center 1191 Cornich El Nil Tel. 002 02 25804491 1 Wahib Doss Str. Office No 9 Maadi Tel. 002 02 27513930 FrancE Bureau de Change Kanoo Printemps Dept. Store 64 Boulevard Haussmann

OMan Kanoo Travel LLC PO Box 75 114 Jibroo, Muscat Tel. +968 24700249 QaTar Kanoo Centre Ground Floor, C Ring Road Al Mansoora Area, Doha Tel +974 44016333 / +974 55997272 (24 hrs) Museum Street Corporate Centre Al Hithmi, Doha Tel. 448 3777 Old Al Salatta, Doha Tel. 441 3441 Ras Laffan Commercial Complex Ras Laffan Tel. 474 8772/4 Salam Tower West Bay Doha Tel. 483 7826/483 7297 SaUDi araBia WESTERN PROvINCE Kanoo Centre Medina Road, Jeddah Tel. 02 661 4950 Kanoo Travel Medinah Tel. 02 263 3040 Kanoo Travel Sharafiya Tel. 02 643 9426 Kanoo Travel Rabigh Tel. 02 423 2785

Kanoo Travel Taif Tel. 02 736 4211 Aboobacker Al Siddiq Street, Medina Tel. 04 823 9120 Air Canada Jeddah Tel. 02 263 2996, Ext. 190 Air India Jeddah Tel. 02 668 0303/669 6571 Albishar Commercial Centre King Abdulaziz Street Al Bahar, Yanbu Tel. 04 322 1087 Al Nawa Commercial Centre Al Sinnaiyat, Yanbu Tel. 04 321 3607 Bab Makkah Jeddah Tel. 02 644 9030 Bamaroof Centre Hail Street, Jeddah Tel. 02 653 0541 Gulf Air Jeddah Tel. 02 668 0303/669 Kenyan Airways Jeddah Tel.02 263 2959 Ext. 108 Khamis Abha Main Road Khamis Mushayat Tel. 07 222 3624 Philippine Airways Jeddah Tel. 02 263 2959 Ext. 100/122 Prince Sultan Street Gizan Tel. 07 317 4285 Singapore Airlines Jeddah Tel. 02 657 9898 Srilankan Airlines Jeddah Tel. 02 263 2959 Umalquara Street Hayfer

Makkah Tel. 02 544 7741 United Airlines Jeddah Tel. 02 263 3021/2959 Ext. 196/197 EASTERN PROvINCE Kanoo Building Corniche Road, Jubail Tel. 03 362 2340 Kanoo Holidays Retail Airline Centre, Khobar Tel. 03 882 2206/2601/2249 Kanoo Holidays Wholesale Airline Centre Khobar Tel. 03 8821626/1851/ 8820161 Kanoo Tower King Saud Street, Damman Tel. 03 8355642 / 802 Airport Office Dammam Tel. 03 883 2660/2660 Air India Khobar Tel. 03 882 2478 Air India Jubail Tel. 03 362 3454 Al Quds Street Qatif Tel. 03 851 5009 British Airways Khobar Tel. 03 882 2000 British Airways Dammam Tel. 03 835 5714 British Airways Jubail Tel. 03 362 1069 City Centre Al Mahoob Buidling Hufuf Tel. 03 586 3823 Dhahran Street Damman Tel. 03 833 7694

Gulf Air Khobar Tel. 03 896 8496/ 9393/8493 Gulf Air Dammam Tel.03 835 4194/4917/ 4952 Gulf Air Qatif Tel. 03 852 9384/ 854 5240 Gulf Air Rastanura Tel. 03 667 8041/7972 Gulf Air Hofuf Tel. 03 585 3358/ 4080/2252 Gulf Air Jubail Tel. 03 363 0982/84 Hertz Khobar Tel. 03 882 2005/5597 King Khalid Street Khobar Tel. 03 864 7471 Municipal Street Al Khafji Tel. 03 766 0045 Qantas Khobar Tel. 03 882 3711/2467 Srilankan Airlines Khobar Tel. 03 882 2789/2675/2792 United Airlines/Air Canada/Singapore Airlines/Swissair/ Austrian Airlines/Thai Airways Tel. 03 882 1518/2962/ 2602/03 882 4477/4442 47th Street Rahima Tel. 03 667 0388 CENTRAL PROvINCE Kanoo Tower King Abdul Aziz Road Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228


concierge | book your trip

win A two-night stAy At the meydAn hotel, dUBAi The Meydan race course sets the scene for the most prestigious (not to mention glamorous), event on the horse-racing calendar: the Dubai World Cup. And, when it comes to where to stay, there’s only one name worth knowing: the 285-room Meydan Hotel. Its course-side location places you on the edge of the season’s action – making it one of the most exciting spots in the city. But, you don’t have to be part of the racing glitterati to sample its delights. Head there any time of year and you’ll find yourself in the most stylish of surrounds; suites are luxurious (you can soak-up views of the racetrack from its big bath tubs); a rooftop infinity pool provides the coolest of settings on which to relax; while four lounges and restaurants serve-up the most mouthwatering bites – from succulent sirloins at the decadent Prime Steakhouse to fresh Italian fare at Bas Pasta. And that’s just a taster... ThE PrizE We’re giving away a two-night stay (including breakfast) for two people. To be in with a chance of winning, email your answer to the following question to easywin@hotmediapublishing.com before March 31, 2011.

Q. Which famous event takes place at Meydan race course? a) Dubai Desert Classic b) Dubai World Cup c) Dubai Tennis Championship TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prize excludes November 12 to 17 2011, inclusive. All other dates are subject to availibility.

Second Industrial City Al Zamel Center Tel. 2653920/34/41 Airport Road Hail Tel. 06 543 0430 Air India Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Air India Buraidah Tel. 06 324 6514/325 0888 Al Kubaih Street Buraidah Tel. 06 325 0888 Gulf Air Olaya, Riyadh Tel. 01 461 0589/462 4902 Gulf Air Hail Tel. 06 532 0280 Gulf Air Buraidah Tel. 06 324 6514/325 0888 King Faisal Foundation Al Khairia Complex Riyadh Tel. 01 463 4454

Qantas Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 288/305 Sharjah Street Hotat Bani Tamim, Al Hotah Tel. 01 555 0304 Silsilah Road Onaiza, Al Qassim Tel. 06 362 0080 Singapore Airlines Kanoo Tower Tel. 4734102/4734103 Srilankan Airlines Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 292/293

Kanoo Travel – American Express Hermitage Building Al Karama Tel. 04 334 9219 Kanoo Travel Corniche, Abu Dhabi Tel. 02 631 3900/631 8187 Airport Office Dubai Tel. 04 393 1963 Deira City Centre Dubai Tel. 04 294 1481 Dubai Internet City Building 12 Tel. 04 390 1992

United Airlines/ Air Canada Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 289/290

Green Community Jebel Ali Road, Dubai Tel. 04 885 3321

Wazir Street Al Azizea Building, Riyadh Tel. 01 411 4780

Jebel Ali LOB 16, Ground Floor Jebel Ali Free Zone Tel. 04 881 5050

UaE Kanoo Holidays Dubai Tel. 04 334 1444/315 6624

Karama Al Fathooi Centre, Dubai Tel. 04 334 1222

Main Street Al Khamseen Wadi Ad Dawasir Tel. 01 784 6500

Kanoo Building Khalid Bin Al Waleed Street, Bur Dubai Tel. 04 507 2242

Philippine Airlines Kanoo Tower, Riyadh Tel. 01 477 2228 Ext. 237/238

Kanoo Building Al Orouba Street, Sharjah Tel. 06 561 6058

Marine Travel Services Dubai Tel. 04 335 1314 Najda Street Abu Dhabi Tel. 02 678 0400

UK Birmingham American Express Bank House 8 Cherry Street Tel. 0121 644 5514/ 0121 644 5560 Bournemouth American Express 95A Old Christchurch Road Tel. 07872 600528/ 01202 780 752 Brighton Amex House Implant American Express Ground Floor, Amex House Edward Street Tel. 01273 525 041/040 Bristol American Express 74 Queens Road Tel. 01179 065 107/105 Cardiff American Express 3 Queen Street Tel. 02920 649 305/ 02920 649 301 Coventry American Express 5 Cathedral Lanes Shopping Centre Tel. 02476 225511/ 07872 600 528 Croydon American Express 2-4 High Street Tel. 0208 256 0808/0805 Edinburgh American Express

69 George Street 0131 718 2508/2505 Essex Lakeside Bureau American Express Lakeside Shopping Centre West Thurrock Grays Tel. 01708 890 654 Glasgow American Express 66 Gordon Street Tel. 0141 225 29 05/08 Guildford American Express 38-40 High Street Tel. 01483 551 605/607 Leicester American Express 1 Horsefair Street Tel. 0116 242 18 05/08 London American Express 84 Kensington High Street Tel. 0207 795 6703 London American Express 78 Brompton Road, Knightsbridge Tel. 0207 7617 900/908 London American Express 1 Savoy Court, The Strand Tel. 0207 240 1521 London American Express Travel Office Cabot Square Canary Wharf Tel. 0207 888 4196

London Haymarket American Express 30 – 31 Haymarket Tel. 0207 4849 600/674 London Holborn Bureau American Express 156a Southampton Row Tel. 0207 837 4416 Manchester American Express 10-12 St Mary’s Gate Tel. 0161 833 7301 Milton Keynes American Express 670 Silbury Boulevard Tel. 01908 608 877 Nottingham American Express 2 victoria Street Tel. 0115 924 7701/05 Plymouth American Express 139 Armada Tel. 01752 502 702/707 Sheffield American Express 20 Charles Street Tel. 0114 263 9305/08 Southampton American Express 99 Above Bar Tel. 02380 716 805/808 York American Express 6 Stonegate Tel. 01904 676 505

March 2011 Kanoo World Traveller 71


concierge | thailand

Suite dreamS

You may have to pinch yourself on waking up to the seemingly endless expanse of sea unravelling before you at Sri Panwa. But, the good news is, you’re not dreaming – the pool villa’s fantasy-like views are a reality due to its enviable position atop Cape Panwa, 60metres above sea-level. It’s hard to pick the suite’s best gazing-spot when its entirety – warm sunset hues, bamboo-like wood, fresh linens; all encased by floor-to-ceiling windows – holds you in the lap of tropical luxury at every turn. But, wherever you choose to recline, the oh-so-blue Andaman Sea that laps beneath a balmy Thai clime is sure to seduce you. We say dive on in – but not before you try the suite’s personal infinity pool, bubbling Jacuzzi or rainfall shower. And if you can bear to leave altogether, we suggest you step aboard a yacht and make for one of the Phuket archipelago’s eight nearby islands – and prepare to pinch yourself all over again... www.sripanwa.com

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Kanoo World Traveller March 2011

Image: Sri Panwa.

sri panwa, phuket


Profile for Hot Media

Kanoo World Traveller_March2011  

The Middle East’s highest-circulating travel magazine

Kanoo World Traveller_March2011  

The Middle East’s highest-circulating travel magazine

Profile for hotmedia