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THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE
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Turkish Delight Exploring Istanbul’s ancient charms
Grizzlies and geysers in Yellowstone Park
Thrill-out in Switzerland Global cookery classes Ireland’s top coastal drive
Why everyone’s entranced by island life
Indulge at Hyatt Capital Gate Abu Dhabi, the city’s premium business address located in the iconic Capital Gate Building, which leans a record-breaking 18 degrees. The hotel is adjacent to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), the largest conference and exhibition venue in the Middle East. The hotel is within walking distance of the UAE capital’s upmarket Embassy District, and 15 minutes from the city’s international airport. Reservations: +971 2 596 1234 or abudhabi.capitalgate.hyatt.com The trademarks HYATT™, PARK HYATT™ and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2012 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.
two exciting new hyat t hotels...
Experience Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel and Villas, an exclusive sanctuary of contemporary luxury located on a nine-kilometre stretch of environmentally protected, natural sand beach on Saadiyat Island. The resort is adjacent to Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and minutes away from Abu Dhabi Corniche, Abu Dhabi Mall, Ferrari World and Abu Dhabi International Airport. Reservations: +971 2 407 1234 or abudhabi.park.hyatt.com The trademarks HYATT™, PARK HYATT™ and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation. ©2012 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.
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Abu Dhabi, Chicago, Paris, Dubai, Bangkok... Discover all our magnifique addresses around the world on www.sofitel.com
KANOO WORLD TRAVELLER MAY 2012
CONTENTS TRAVEL BITES 07 CHECK IN
The latest hotel news and travel tips from around the the world.
18 WHERE TO STAY
Iconic towers or beach idyll? Abu Dhabi has a hotel to suit your holiday style.
20 PICTURE THIS
Breathtaking snapshots for must-see photo inspiration...
25 ESSENTIAL SELECTION
Rustle up a feast fit for a local in one of these far-flung cookery schools.
78 VISIT: RAS AL KHAIMAH
Head to this wild-and-wonderful city for Indiana Jones-style adventures.
80 VISIT: JAIPUR
Soak up the treasures of royal Rajasthan on a trip to India’s most opulent city.
Win two nights at the sumptuous Westin Abu Dhabi Resort & Spa...
84 SUITE DREAMS
Stargazing and spectacular sea views at the Caribbean’s La Samanna Resort.
FEATURES 39 NORTHERN IRELAND Encounter giants and legends on the emerald isle’s most scenic route.
Now’s the time to explore this paradise island’s lush rainforests and hip hotels.
57 YELLOWSTONE, USA
Sarah Baxter heads to the world’s oldest national park and finds flatulent mud pools and inquisitive bears.
Discovering the stories and secrets of this historic capital on a walk along its crumbling city walls.
Stuck in a rut? There’s nothing like a Swiss skydive to banish those cobwebs...
A woman strolls on Lombok Island. Justin Guariglia, Getty / Gallo Images
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May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 5
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BE INFORMED, BE INSPIRED, BE THERE
JUMEIRAH PORT SÓLLER HOTEL & SPA General manager Fernando Gibaja tells KWT what to expect from Jumeirah’s first European resort… The luxury in Jumeirah Port Sóller is understated where the views, the silence, the space and the quality of the materials provide a general sense of wellbeing and elegance, rather than the opulence that could describe some of our properties in the Middle East. The location is stunning: sometimes it feels as if the hotel floats between the sky and the sea, while the bright green pines stand in contrast with the rock, the blue sea and the clear skies – it just takes your breath away. The resort is very Mediterranean and quite contemporary. Efforts have been made to make it fit as much as possible into the surrounding nature, keeping the buildings low and following the slope of the mountain where it is set. Inside olive and pine woods, mosaics in vibrant colours and textiles in whites, creams, browns and earthy shades complement the decoration, making it easy and elegant. The rooms are very large and very comfortable. Always facing a large outdoor living area, they are designed to be used in the daytime
as much as at night. In-room dining is bound to be busy, since the terraces and balconies are so inviting, with beautiful views. Request a sea view room to be completely undisrupted with just you and the Mediterranean Sea, however the changing colours of the mountain range and the quaint port are also extremely appealing. We have equipped some rooms with telescopes and binoculars to watch them and the stars at night. The Talise Spa is my highlight of the resort: warm textures, wooden floors, fire and water features and the best team of therapists and products to make each treatment an experience to remember! The heated outdoor Hydropool is a must-try. Local fish is brought in daily by the fishing boats and, of course, you simply must try Sóller’s prawns with Mallorcan olive oil and rock salt from the beach of Es Trenc, and a freshly-squeezed orange juice with our valley’s oranges. The island produce is exceptional. Open May, 2012, jumeirah.com May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 7
HOTEL OPENINGS Great new getaways to make for this May…
Ask the Local In the first of our series of expat travel tips, Hong Kong resident, British-born Francesca von Etzdorf, shares her city’s top dining spots off the tourist trail…
1. Zuma brunch is without question the best Sunday brunch in Hong Kong. As a well-known Japanese restaurant in The Landmark Hotel, it will be in the guidebooks – but what not everyone knows is that their Sunday brunch is the best value and quality in town: for HK$600 (AED280) you get a fantastic hot food and sushi buffet; a main course from the menu and free-flowing tipples. zumarestaurant.com 2. One-Thirtyone is my absolute favourite private kitchen in HK. You’ll need to head quite far out of town in Sai Kung to find it, but it’s worth the trip. The restaurant is in a converted old town house by the sea and has a beautiful set menu of fusion cuisine which changes every day. What I love most is that you feel like you’re sitting a world away from the city, by the sea. My tip is to book quite far in advance – though occasionally you can get lucky. one-thirtyone.com 3. The Steop is a small restaurant set on the beach on Lantau Island (go to Pier 4 at the Star Ferry, or hike over if you’re feeling active!) It’s very unassuming and serves great South African food. It actually has some of the grumpiest service around but, oddly, that’s part of its charm! It’s a great place to go with a group of friends – hire a ‘junk’ (boat) and make it your lunchtime stop-off. thestoep.com 4. The Wooloomooloo’s roof top has one of the best views across the harbour and is a best-kept secret for those after somewhere different. If you fancy a steak, the restaurant downstairs is great for dinner too. wooloo-mooloo.com 5. Dumpling Yuan is a small non-descript place on Wellington Street that makes the best Beijing dumplings in the city. It doesn’t have an English name, but the way one could say it would be ‘Dumpling Yuan’. All the dumplings are made fresh in the open kitchen and taste just delicious. The menu is short and unfussy, and there are only about 20 seats, so you’ll often find yourself sharing a table with complete strangers, which is all part of the experience. openrice.com/restaurant 8 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
If you have grand designs for your next destination, you’ll be hard pushed to trump the Palace Hotel Tokyo (palacehoteltokyo.com). Open on May 17 after a whopping $1.2 billion investment, the Japanese giant has more than the odd trick up its hotelier sleeve: its evian® SPA (all 1,200 square metres of it) is the first of its kind in Japan, while rooms harbour open terraces that look out over Tokyo’s Imperial Palace and Gardens. Its 10 restaurants and lounges meanwhile are shooting for the stars – Michelin stars. If you believe good things come in small packages, Bangkok’s latest bolthole will have you reaching for your passport: set in the popular Sukhumvit district, Cabochon Hotel (cabochonhotel.com, pictured) is an eight-bed hotel jam-packed with colonial charm. While its global memorabilia will have your head turning in its communal spaces, our highlight is its rooftop garden where you can swap Bangkok’s frenetic streets for a spot amid treetops and palms (plus a private pool). If culture tugs at your heartstrings, look to the historical district of Istanbul, where the Rixos Pera (rixos.com) is now open. The second of Rixos’s Istanbul-based hotels, Pera brings 116 luxurious rooms to Beyoğlu, while no fewer than four à la carte eateries means you won’t be short on dining options. If Europe beckons, the Albergo-Caffè Carcani (carcani.ch) in Switzerland is now open for business. Set off the shore of Lake Maggiore it’s a sunnier part of the country in which to retreat – make sure to stop off at Caffè Carcani for a midmorning coffee and cake (they’re delicious). Radisson Blu Hotel, Uppsala (radissonblu.com) in Sweden, meanwhile, makes for a stylish city break. Just 18 minutes from Stockholm’s airport, you’ll be there in no time to drop off your bags in one of its 185 trendy Scandinavian-style rooms and explore the city – known as much for its beautiful locals as its sublime scenery and cool cafés.
The Meydan Hotel raises the bar for service, style and sheer indulgence and a visit to this iconic landmark will leave you breathless. Luxurious accommodation, several fine dining restaurants and plenty of horse racing action make The Meydan Hotel the perfect weekend getaway.
A decision so difficult, trying both is the only option.
Situated in the heart of the desert, nestled between majestic dunes and clear blue skies, lies an exclusive traditional resort. Renowned for its traditional Arabic hospitality and unique setting, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort and Spa is the ultimate luxury getaway.
For more information call +971 4 381 3231 or email email@example.com Please contact your preferred travel partner for further details and bookings.
New York State of Mind Make like your best-loved Mad Men character with a trip to the sitcom’s most-featured haunts in the Big Apple... Shop…
Tailors Paul Stuart has been turning gentlemen into seriously sharp dressers (pop stars and politicians among them) for generations. Hand-sewn suits are the way to go for debonair Don Draper-style threads: stay true to the show’s era and request those trademark slim silhouettes. Madison Avenue & 45th Street, paulstuart.com
The Roosevelt Hotel was the place Don Draper fled to after Betty threw him out, and you won’t be disappointed when staying on happier terms. Opt for its ‘Mad Men in the City’ package for a grandiose stay, series 4 on DVD, Unofficial Mad Men Cookbook and retro beverages to boot. 45 East 45th Street, Madison Avenue, theroosevelthotel.com
Sardi’s Restaurant and Grill was the backdrop of numerable Don Draper dinners. Set on Broadway, you’ll step away from the city’s bright lights into a dimly-lit lounge with vintage-style environs. It’s a place of legends too – Elizabeth Taylor, Fred Astaire and Arthur Miller have all taken a pew here. 234 West 44th Street, sardis.com
Grand Central Oyster Bar & Restaurant has been serving icecold drinks and – you guessed it – oysters for nearly 100 years. On the show it set the scene for Sterling Cooper lunches and now you can sip and slurp its offerings – just make sure to book, it’s one of Midtown’s busiest spots. Grand Central Station, 89 East 42nd Street, oysterbarny.com
Suite Surrender Sofitel Philippine Plaza’s Imperial Residence The Philippines’ former first couple Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos dreamt up this 6,200 square feet residence as a place for their rich and famous friends to stay – and now the 11th-floor ‘suite’ (it’s more like a house) is open to hotel guests. Inside, swooping panoramas of sea and city vistas come as standard, but its biggest highlights (pearl inlaid doors, sculptures and wraparound balcony aside) are its helicopter landing pad, personal shopper, and private chef. sofitelmanila.com 10 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
Two capitals have taken luxury suites to new heights this month – we compare the best in show, all you need to do is decide between Manila and London…
Corinthia London’s Whitehall Penthouse Corinthia London has launched not one but seven stellar suites this spring; two-storey penthouses themed around the royalty, high society, actors, writers and musicians to set up home on the hotel’s sought-after street. But for its terrace alone the Whitehouse Penthouse has our full attention: on it is a giant chess board, not to mention views of the city and Tower of London; so you can gaze at the horizon as you ponder your next move. corinthia.com
IT’S YOUR TURN
TO FEEL THE THRILL
When you hit 240km/h in less than 5 seconds, don’t forget to breathe. At Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, the world’s first Ferrari branded theme park, you finally have the chance to live the racing dream in ways you never imagined possible. Experience the legend like never before, with over 20 rides and attractions in the world’s largest indoor theme park.
How to Take the Perfect Travel Shots Award-winning travel photographer Robin Moore has snapped everything from Lamu landscapes to wild lions – and catalogued some of it in his book Kenya, A Visual Journey. But how do us mere mortals capture travel snaps a pro would be proud of? Robin shares his advice… Change perspectives Most photographs are shot from eye level, but this may not be the strongest composition. Try lying on the ground or climbing on a rock. It is amazing how much a change of perspective can strengthen a shot! Go out in the middle of the day Many photographers say they leave their camera behind in the middle of the day because the light is bad. The light is just different. Try experimenting with the hard light and capture portraits in the shade. Test your creativity under different light. While early morning and evening light has a magical golden quality that should not be missed, some of my favourite shots have been taken at this time of day. Play with camera exposure Cameras these days are pretty good at telling you the ‘correct’ exposure for a scene, but not the ‘creatively correct’ exposure. Try under-exposing for deep blue skies or over-exposing to blow out the sky behind your subject. Use full flash in broad daylight Use your flash in the daytime to fill in hard shadows cast by the sun on your subject, and keep a nice deep blue sky. Make sure you have a subject that is quite close to the camera or your flash will have nothing to illuminate. Focus on the eyes If you’re on safari and want to get a great portrait of an animal my advice is to fill the frame, avoid distracting backgrounds and focus on the eyes. Be respectful of cultures Be bold and respectful when photographing strangers. Engage with the subject, seek their permission and show them the shot in the back of your camera. If you act nervy they will not be relaxed; a smile goes a long way. Images courtesy of Robin Moore, robindmoore.com 12 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
ITALY HOT OFFERS
SPRING BREAKS This month’s deals brought to you by Kanoo Travel and American Express
A former 17th-century monastery in the twee town of Conca dei Marini has been lovingly restored, bringing yet more reason to visit the stunning Amalfi Coast. KWT chats to the Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa’s owner, Bianca Sharma...
KENYAN SAFARI 5 DAYS, 4 NIGHTS From $1,546 p/p On this trip-of-alifetime you’ll spot spectacular wildlife (tick off the Big Five) in Lake Nakuru National Park (teeming with flamingos), Rift Valley and the Masai Mara game reserve – not forgetting overnight stays at luxury lodges, like Lake Nakuru Lodge.
EAST COAST USA 18 DAYS, 17 NIGHTS From $2,720 p/p This spectacular tour takes in eight destinations, including New York, Washington DC, picturesque Toronto and Orlando, where four nights at the Walt Disney World Resort will have kids grinning from ear to ear.
SINGAPORE & MALAYSIA 7 DAYS, 6 NIGHTS From $1,300 p/p Spend three nights in both destinations and you’ll be privy to allinclusive activities, from a Hippo Hop On Hop Off Cruise and Cable Car ride to entry to the National Orchid Garden and Jurong Bird Park – to name a few...
14 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
What kind of ambience does the property evoke today? I think it has a casual elegance, with modern touches. We’re very proud to have respected and maintained the integrity of the original structure, yet giving guests all the amenities and state-of-the-art facilities expected in a luxury hotel. The hotel has just 20 rooms – what will I see from my bedroom window? Most rooms have stunning views of the Amalfi Coast; you’ll look across the sea, at Amalfi’s harbour and beyond. Others overlook the gardens – and you can drink-in the same sights from your bathroom.
Which original features can we see still in existence from the property’s past? A real highlight is the ceilings: all of the rooms have wonderful vaulted ceilings. Elsewhere, some areas – like the dining room and the spa tepidarium – have original bare walls. And which is its most stunning new feature? In the hotel’s park-like garden there is now an infinity swimming pool that’s been created to stare out over the sea – and it’s just exceptional. There’s also a glass lift which takes you up the outside of the hotel, and our luxury spa should not be missed either: it has a thermal area that
cannot be matched anywhere else on the coast. Have you introduced a restaurant to the hotel? Absolutely, we have a fabulous terrace and the kitchen uses organic produce grown in our own garden, so you can be sure to get a taste of the region. Our chef, Christoph Bob, tells me that no one should leave the hotel without trying some traditional Italian food, like wholewheat spaghetti with clams and nettle pesto or grouper with sea urchins – it was eaten by residents some 400 years ago and today our chef prepares it with a creative, contemporary twist. monasterosantarosa.com
Yoga. Ayurveda. Wellness Spas. Wildlife. Arts. Culture. Shopping. Luxury Stays. Simply put ..... it'll be an incredible experience in an incredible country.
DISCOVER YOUR ONE SPECIAL REASON TO VISIT INDIA India Tourism Dubai 104, Nasa Building, Al Maktoum Road Deira P.O. Box 12856, Dubai Tel: +971(4)2274848, Fax: +971(4)2274013 www.incredibleindia.org Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
CHECK IN | NEWS
WHAT IN THE WORLD?
TROT THROUGH RURAL ENGLAND, HAVE A HOE DOWN IN FLORIDA, OR SLURP UP NEW ZEALAND’S SPECTACULAR SEAFOOD – MAY WILL BE A MONTH TO REMEMBER...
1 RIDING OF THE BOUNDS has been bringing fine British horse riding to the historic town of Berwick upon Tweed for the past five centuries. Each year, hundreds of riders and spectators head off from the cobbled streets along the border between England and Scotland – an impressive sight in their traditional red hunting jackets.
3-6 AUSTRALIAN CELTIC FESTIVAL unites Australia’s Celtic clans in a three-day Scot-style party. In the sleepy town of Glen Innes, you’ll find pipe bands, poetry and parades – and meet pretty much every Australian who can claim Scottish ancestory.
4 GAMBLE ROGERS FOLK FESTIVAL gets the state of Florida dancing in a lively weekend hoe down. Held in commemoration of guitar folk legend Gamble Rogers, the festival features finger-picking stars from all over the US – as well as farmers’ markets, storytelling, and arts and crafts displays.
25 THE ROYAL SHOW champions all things weird and wonderful in South Africa’s KwaZulu Natal – think dog shows, cattle markets, and aerobatic flying displays. Try your hand at the wheel of a tractor and take a whirl on the old-fashioned fun fair.
26 BLUFF OYSTER FESTIVAL tempts even the most discerning of tastebuds with its array of fresh seafood. The coastal town of Bluff is nestled on New Zealand’s South Island, and foodies from all over the world flock there to sample its spectacular haul. 26-27 CABOT TRAIL RELAY RACE winds along Nova Scotia’s 185-mile Cabot Trail, through wild coastline and forest parks. The relay race is gruelling, and runners don’t have much chance to admire the scenery – but you can. Perch on one of the windswept beaches, take in the spectacular view, and cheer them on. May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 17
WHERE TO STAY...
City shopping trip or sightseeing minibreak? Sporty retreat or beach-side feast? The UAE’s lively capital boasts some truly fabulous hotels and resorts – so you’ll be spoiled for choice, whatever your holiday style...
Grand Millennium Al Wahda
Emirates Palace Abu Dhabi
Slap bang in the heart of the city, next to Al Wahda Mall, this hotel is great if you’re looking to splash some cash. You’ll find over 150 big names – among them Armani, Banana Republic and Mango – and the hotel’s Zayna Spa is perfect for when you’re ready to drop.
A pristine private beach and swimming pools await in this coastal resort. Catch some rays on the sandy stretch, or take a dip in the two pools – then head to the Anantara Spa for indulgent beauty treatments while a range of activities keeps the kids entertained.
Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi
Jumeirah at Etihad Towers
Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi
Spa-lovers will adore the on-site ESPA treatments – our favourite? The indulgent 80-minute Ultimate Hammam experience... 18 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
Located in one of the soaring skyscrapers of the Etihad Towers development, this high-flying hotel has some of the city’s most dazzling views.
With a fitness centre, tennis courts, and no fewer than four swimming pools, this beach-side resort is perfect for an active city break.
The St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort stregissaadiyatisland.com
You’ll find some of the island’s finest dining here, including Mediterranean tapas and New York-style grills.
SHARK BAY Western Australia
Covering a whopping 2.2 million hectares of Australia’s western-most coastline, Shark Bay might look like an empty piece of paradise, but it’s actually one of the most densely-populated parts of the state – populated with animals, that is. Its waters are teeming with humpback whales, loggerhead turtles, dolphins and dugongs, and its sands with wallabies, bandicoots and Shark Bay boodies (small fluffy marsupials). Look to the skies for rare Australian birdlife – this is a protected area, giving endangered species a chance to thrive. It’s also home to one of the most ancient life forms on the planet, stromatolites – these ‘living fossils’ are roughly 3,000 years old, and related to microbes that lived over 3.5 million years ago. Now that’s real longevity... Image: Getty / Gallo Images
20 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
ESSENTIAL SELECTION | THE BEST ROOMS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 21
22 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
ESSENTIAL SELECTION | THE BEST ROOMS IN THE INDIAN OCEAN
NAVAJO SANDSTONE ROCK FORMATION Northern Arizona, USA
Near the desolate state line between Utah and Arizona, under the blaze of merciless skies, the undulating curves of the Navajo Sandstone formation rise up out of the desert. Their smooth-sided troughs and hypnotic lines, rolling and twisting in fiery hues, are the scars of millennia of rain and wind erosion; the elements are at their most brutal here, and the abuse is relentless. Be warned: this is no easy afternoon excursion. Only the most intrepid of hikers venture out here, battling dehydration along a meandering track â€“ but the rewards for their slog are plentiful. And as the battle against the elements rages on, who knows how long this psychedelic playground will last? Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 23
ESSENTIAL SELECTION | ALL IN GOOD TASTE
All in Good Taste
When it comes to cookery schools, the world is your oyster – Laura Binder rounds up the best of the bunch… Go to… Tuscany, Italy Alain Ducasse cooking course, L’Andana Arrivals at L’Andana can cause the heart to skip a beat: make your way up its long driveway, lined by cypresses, to behold the 500-hectacre La Badiola Estate – peach-hued and shaded by olive groves, it was once the summer residence of Grand Duke Leopold II. At its daily cooking classes, you’ll rustle up intricate Italian dishes in the Duke’s former granary – home to a mammoth wood oven, exposed brickwork and beams and vast windows overlooking ripe vineyards. The result is a truly romantic setting in which to let your creative juices flow. Eat… Tuscan dishes that plunge you into the region with every bite. Sleep… in surrounds that scream ‘rustic-chic’; the Prestige Suite is the crème de la crème with its grand ceiling-hung candelabra, autumn hues, grandiose bed and views across those pea-green fields. andana.it
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 25
Summer stay and splash! Make Park Rotana & Park Arjaan by Rotana Abu Dhabi your destination, when visiting the UAE capital this summer. Stay in luxury while you and your family can also enjoy the views of the city as well as soak in the thrills and splashes on offer. AED 350* including accommodation in a Classic room, buffet breakfast for 2 persons, internet and 2 tickets to Murjan Splash Park. AED 500* including accommodation in 1 bedroom apartment, buffet breakfast for 2 persons, internet and 4 tickets to Murjan Splash Park. AED 650* including accommodation in 2 bedroom apartment, buffet breakfast for 4 persons, internet, 4 tickets to Murjan Splash Park. *Terms & Conditions: The offers are valid from May 15 to August 20, 2012 and subject to availability The price is per room per night including 10% service charge and 6% Tourism fee
For reservations, visit rotana.com or call +971 (0)2 657 3333
P.O. Box: 43377, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates T: +971 (0)2 657 3333, F: +971 (0)2 657 3000, email@example.com
ESSENTIAL SELECTION | ALL IN GOOD TASTE
Go to… Hoi An, Vietnam Red Bridge Cooking School Make for the riverside city of Hoi An and you’ll find yourself in the most idyllic region to learn the tricks of the Vietnamese food trade. The Red Bridge Cooking School offers jam-packed, one-day classes that kick off with a visit to local organic farms (pick up fresh coriander and Vietnamese mint for garnishing), before hitting a bustling market full of exotic finds like star anise and banana flower. Back at the open-air restaurant (best reached by its namesake red bridge), the head chef is on hand to teach four classic dishes – our favourite is the lemongrass shrimp in banana leaves: exquisite. After a day by the stove, the restaurant’s huge pool is the perfect place to cool off before a boat trip back to Hoi An town – don’t miss the charming crumbling Old Town which, with no cars allowed, is a peaceful place to walk off the day’s eats. Eat… healthily. Mint, coriander and lemongrass are key ingredients here and with no oil or fats in the mix, you can enjoy the cuisine’s aromatic delights without counting calories – you are on holiday, after all… Sleep… at The Nam Hai resort on nearby Ha My Beach: its powder-white sands will take you away from the town’s hustle and bustle, tropical touches radiate throughout, and its Pool Villas really take the biscuit in the style stakes. visithoian.com/redbridge and ttc.ae
‘This is the most idyllic region to learn the tricks of the Vietnamese food trade’ May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 27
‘For sheer Parisian pleasure the cream of the crop has to be the Extreme Chocolate class’
Go to… Paris, France Ritz Escoffier School, Ritz Paris Croissants, foie gras, beurre blanc – where better to master the art of France’s famous dishes than Paris? Blend this culinary vision with the glittering Ritz brand and you get the Ritz Escoffier School – a gourmand’s mecca – headed by legend of French haute cuisine (and the first head chef of the Ritz Paris), Auguste Escoffier. Once there, try your hand at delicate pastry-making techniques, delectable chocolatemaking and, for little ones, child-friendly Ritz Kids classes – who knows, you may have a budding Nigella Lawson or Raymond Blanc on your hands. For sheer Parisian pleasure, though, the cream of the crop has to be the Extreme Chocolate class, where you’ll spend three deliciously gooey hours with La Maison du Chocolat’s creative director and executive chef Michel Roth, rustling up the likes of chocolat and Périgord black truffle macaroons and hot chocolate soup. Eat… like a king. Each and every class guarantees results that are rich, intricate and high-end: much like the environs of the Ritz Paris. Sleep… in the first-rate Coco Chanel suite; the home of the designer in the 1920s, today it remains a picture of taste with its rock crystals, goldencased mirrors and garden views – not to mention the Jacuzzi in one of its two bathrooms. ritzparis.com 28 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
ESSENTIAL SELECTION | ALL IN GOOD TASTE
Go to… New York, USA Jean-Georges Culinary Master Course, Trump International Hotel & Tower Only the most dedicated gourmands will be tempted by the price tag of Trump Tower’s two-on-two cooking classes – a cool $9,000. Get past the dollar signs and you’re in for a lavish gastronomic experience; classes are led by the Michelin-starred JeanGeorges Vongerichten and his executive pastry chef Johnny Iuzzini, and take place in Vongerichten’s famed Jean-Georges restaurant (one of just five New York eateries to earn three Michelin-stars). Wonderfully hands-on, you can choose the recipes you most want to make from the chef’s stable of Big Apple eateries, be it Japanese (Matsugen), Mediterranean (JoJo), organic (ABC Kitchen), Asian (Spice Market), New American (Perry Street) or French (Jean Georges). Eat… first-rate dishes including Vongerichten’s favourite, tuna tartar, and – with help from his sidekick Luzzini – the most transcendent cakes and creamy homemade ice cream. Sleep… in an Executive Park View Suite (all part of that $9,000 price tag) where you can lie back, full-bellied, and gaze across Central Park through floor-to-ceiling windows – even better spied from the suite’s master tub. trumpintl.com
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 31
Treasured Time. Our promise to you.
At Rotana, we have chosen to acknowledge how precious time is to you by making all time spent with us, Treasured Time. This means that we pledge to understand and meet the individual needs of all our guests. In so doing, we have evolved our product brands to include, Rotana Hotels & Resorts, Arjaan Hotel Apartments by Rotana, Centro Hotels by Rotana and Rayhaan Hotels & Resorts by Rotana. Visit us during ATM on our stand number HC3940.
P.O. Box: 43500, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates T: +971 (0)2 644 4412, F: +971 (0)2 644 4413, head.ofďŹ firstname.lastname@example.org
ESSENTIAL SELECTION | ALL IN GOOD TASTE
Go to… Madikwe, South Africa Morukuru Family If home-cooking is your cup of tea, Morukuru Lodge’s relaxed style is sure to quench your thirst: the abode comes with its own private chef and you can get to grips with pots and pans whenever the urge takes you, while he or she teaches you the ropes of the region’s cuisine – which, out here in the wilderness, includes Ox tail, milk tart and malva pudding. But the real highlight is the setting in which you’ll tuck into the fruits of your labour: sat outside in the bush on the edge of the Madikwe Reserve, you’ll be serenaded by the distant purr of big cats. And when you need to work up an appetite all over again, there’s no better way than a few leisurely laps in the lodge’s infinity pool – a bowl of the chef’s homemade mango ice cream is sure to serve as an incentive. Eat… Morukuru’s home-grown veg – the vegetable garden at Morukuru Farmhouse grows myriad types of lettuce, fresh herbs, must-try ‘Mieles’ (corn on the cob) and plump tomatoes. And if your kids are craving something sweet, let them go wild with a cupcake class. Sleep… in colonial-style environs where authentic African features (soaring thatched roof and bush-view showers) marry with luxurious touches (see its super-wide beds and sink-straight-in tubs). kiwicollection.com
‘It’s impossible not to succumb to classic Irish charm on a gastronomic trip to Ballymaloe’
Go to… County Cork, Ireland Ballymaloe Cookery School It’s impossible not to succumb to classic Irish charm on a gastronomic trip to Ballymaloe: the 25-year-old school is owned by chef, author and TV host Darina Allen and you’ll not only leave a better cook, but gain green fingers too – the property is flanked by gorgeous gardens and acres of organic farmland, while the (albeit freezing-cold) sea is half-a-mile away, so even the fish is catch-of-the-day fresh. While class options are generous, you’d be wise to choose one that celebrates Darina’s passion for ‘forgotten skills’: among them, the art of bee-keeping and buttermaking. Classes don’t cut any corners, either – you’ll learn several recipes (and plenty of new tricks), while generous ingredients (including ample Irish cream and butter) mean you’ll leave seriously well-fed... Eat… hearty and delicious fare (whole flounder baked in butter) and cutely-named desserts like Bumble’s Ginger Roulade – you’ll be back for second helpings. Sleep… at Ballymaloe House – two miles away and run by Darina’s family, you can stroll to your cooking classes from the quintessential country manor in seconds. When you have time off, try afternoon tea by a log fire in winter and croquet on its rolling lawns come summertime. Delightful. cookingisfun.ie and ballymaloe.ie
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Go to… Oxford, UK Raymond Blanc Cookery School, Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons If the thought of unspoiled English countryside and fresh regional fare tugs at your taste buds, few places deliver the reality as well as Le Manoir: think lilac lavender fields, an organic garden a rabbit would die for and a sprawling red-brick manor house – your home for the duration. Even reading the list of classes is enough to make your mouth water (Fish and Shellfish; Bread Making; Chocolate Heaven; Patisserie and Desserts…). Whichever you plump for, Chef Mark Peregrine – a man tutored to faultless form by Raymond Blanc – hosts the majority, while Blanc takes on a limited few, among them Maman Blanc where you’ll rustle up meals eaten by the Michelin-star veteran as a boy (you won’t be able to get enough of the Bouillabaisse). Eat… just-plucked organic herbs and vegetables – Le Manoir’s gardens are something really special. Sleep… in a Garden Suite – inspired by France, each one exudes château-style luxury. Our pick is L’Orangerie for its lime oak floor, citrus tree scent and tangerine-hued décor, not to mention its private garden entry. manoir.com Go to… Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Rebung Cooking Classes Celebrity chef Ismail Ahmad heads the classes at Rebung, a restaurant he co-owns with Dr. Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, Malaysia’s first astronaut and the world’s first Muslim to observe Ramadan in space. If it sounds a somewhat eccentric spot in which to master Malaysian cuisine, it is: Chef Ahmad is a compact chatterbox of a man who’ll happily regale tales of cooking for the likes of Julia Roberts and Madonna. Seek the lesserknown school out and the bearded Chef Ahmad will teach you all manner of techniques, from picking the best market goods to preparing his ‘secret’ curry pastes (try the Malaysian shrimp paste). Eat… the daily lunch buffet; it’s teaming with local dishes, from stewed tripe (tastier than it sounds) to tapioca leaf cooked with durian fruit – fermented to preserve its sweet floral taste, it’s worth a try... Sleep… at Traders Hotel – the nearby Shangri-La hotel harbours what have to be the most stunning views of Kuala Lumpur’s Petronas Towers – the tallest twin towers on the planet. rebung.com.my and shangri-la.com
34 January 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
See Madonna and stay on Yas Island Madonna is having a huge dance party and everyone’s invited. One of the most successful touring artists of all time. Fans can anticipate one of the best live shows in the world. Stay on Yas Island with overnight packages starting at AED 2,389*. • Overnight stay for two adults • Breakfast at Jing Asia • Two ‘Grandstand’ tickets to Madonna concert Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island To book please call +971 (0)2 656 3030, email: email@example.com or visit crowneplaza.com/abudhabi *Inclusive of 10% service charge & 6% tourism fee. Terms and conditions apply.
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ESSENTIAL SELECTION | ALL IN GOOD TASTE
Go to… Mauritius, Indian Ocean Heritage Le Telfair For desert island digs – of the most luxurious kind – and cuisine plucked from land and sea, Mauritius is a stellar port of call. Meander through Heritage Le Telfair’s fauna-filled tropical gardens, penetrated by the flowing Citronniers River, and you’ll find 20 colonial-style villas stretched along the shore. Named after naturalist Charles Telfair, the effect is a resort brimming with 19th-century charm. For the Chef’s Cooking Course, make a beeline for Annabella’s Kitchen – a space alive with the sight and smells of fresh produce from local Mauritian markets.
And if you really can’t get enough of the cuisine, request a private chef to serve dinner in your suite. Eat… fusion food – Mauritian fare marries Creole, Chinese, European and Indian influences, which means you’ll wrap your lips around dishes like bourgeois fillet in a spicy sesame seed crust, saffron rice, and a crustacean warm vinaigrette – delicious. Sleep… in a four-poster bed facing the ocean – just reserve one of two Ocean Suites. Each one is a few barefooted steps from the Indian Ocean, while inside they’re the essence of French colonial times with dark timber floors and period-inspired pieces. heritageresorts.mu
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 37
OCEAN DRIVE | NORTHERN IRELAND
Ocean Drive David Atkinson travels 120 miles along Northern Irelandâ€™s Causeway Coastal Route, one of Europe's greatest drives
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 39
40 May 2012 Kanoo W orld Traveller
OCEAN DRIVE | NORTHERN IRELAND
t’s a journey of fire and ice, limestone and basalt. But, most of all, as I set out to drive the Causeway Coastal Route from Belfast Lough to Lough Foyle just outside Derry-Londonderry, the 120-mile journey comes alive with ancient folk legends. “Ireland has the second oldest oral tradition of storytelling in the world after Greece,” says tour guide Ken McElroy. “Old superstitions and legends – the little people, banshees and giants – are embedded in the national psyche of Northern Ireland. The dramatic landscape of the Causeway Coast lends itself perfectly to illustrating this long storytelling tradition.” Indeed, the Giant’s Causeway, the monumental natural feature of this coast, is the focus of one of Northern Ireland’s big events in 2012. An innovative, multi-million pound visitor attraction opens next summer to form a new gateway to this geological wonder. Among many other things, visitors will be able to find out more about the Causeway Coast folk legends that were first collected in the tales of The Táin – stories of good versus evil, featuring the likes of the mythological Ulster warrior, Cú Chulainn. More recently, local tourism bodies have started to publish the legends behind the landscape and are currently working on new interpretation material. As I set out along the old Antrim coast road, built by military engineer William Bald in 1832, the fables of rural Northern Ireland appear to me etched into the stoneforged, purple heather scenery. Flint-speckled limestone cliffs, isolated farmsteads and old walls lend context to the legends. Gnarled hawthorn trees stand stoic by the roadside, the locals reluctant to cut them down for fear of disturbing the wee folk. I will follow the arc of the coast over the next few days, passing through the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, stopping en route to visit lost-in-time coastal towns such as Carnlough and exploring the nine Glens of Antrim further inland. This is great driving country with plenty of wave-crashing vistas and a slew of interesting pit stops. The first legend takes me to Glenariff for a brush with a giant’s son. Ossian was a warrior poet who fell in love with Niamh, a lady of the underworld, Tír na nÓg. But Ossian wanted to see his beloved glens once more and returned to the mortal world. Pursued by Vikings, he scaled what turned out to be the fibrous tail of a magical horse overhanging a cliff. The horse turned into a stream, washing away the invading Vikings and saving Ossian’s life. From the roadside, looking across verdant Glenariff to the sea beyond, Grey Mare’s Tail waterfall gushes down behind me from Glenariff Forest Park. Standing on the crest of the Glen, late-dawn mist swirling around me
Opening page: Dunluce Castle. Opposite page, clockwise from bottom left: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge; The manicured grounds of St MacNissi’s College, Carnlough; Ess-naLarach waterfall in Glenariff Forest Park. This page: Traditional fisherman’s cottage.
‘This is great driving country with plenty of wavecrashing vistas and a slew of interesting pit stops’ May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 41
This page: Giant’s Causeway. Next page: Ballycastle, Ballintoy; Farming on the top of an ocean-side cliff.
like ancient ghosts, I start to feel the visceral power of nature that fuelled these legends and makes them still tangible today. The next leg of the journey hugs the Sea of Moyle from Ballycastle to Ballintoy, just beyond the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, erected by salmon fishermen to span a 100ft-deep chasm off the limestone headland. It’s now protected by the National Trust. The area is associated with the legend of the Children of Lir – twins Fiachra and Conn, Fionnuala and Aodh – who were turned into beautiful white swans by their wicked stepmother, Aoife. They were condemned to spend 300 years adrift on the Sea of Moyle, their cries carried on the breeze, but the curse was broken by the peal of the first Christian bell. Today the ruins of a friary, located just off the road at Ballycastle among golf links, mark the site of the early Christian church. I can imagine the bells ringing out in praise in ancient times as I look across to Rathlin Island, a nature reserve with a community of nesting seabirds. The stories are coming to life as I explore. The coastal route winds onwards, ultimately twisting through coasthugging curves past the misty stronghold of Dunluce Castle, clinging dramatically to the clifftop just east of Portrush, and Mussenden Temple, the 18thcentury folly near Castlerock. But it’s the Giant’s Causeway, the Unesco–listed World Heritage Site and domain of Northern Ireland’s favourite giant, Finn McCool, which is the highlight of my trip. Northern Ireland’s best-known folk legend explains that local giant Finn built the rock causeway to Scotland to fight his arch-rival, the Scottish giant Benandonner. But Finn ran away when he realised his rival was bigger than him and was saved by his cunning wife, who disguised Finn as a baby as Benandonner approached. The Scottish giant took flight, ripping up the causeway in his wake, believing that an 18ft baby must have the world’s biggest giant as a father. A mural of Finn is to be found on the façade of a property in the nearby village of Bushmills. 42 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
OCEAN DRIVE | NORTHERN IRELAND
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 43
44 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
The Causeway’s distinctive hexagonal basalt columns, some 40,000 of them forged by cooling lava more than 60 million years ago, still point an accusatory finger towards Benandonner’s domain. I walk down to the stones from the site of the new Giant’s Causeway Visitor Experience, which has new walking trails leading off around the headland, to catch the afternoon sun illuminating the rocks. There’s a restored, two-mile-long steam railway here, too, between Bushmills and the landmark. In years gone by, old crones would sit among the stones, regaling visitors with folk yarns in return for a few coins. They’re gone now, but the sense of being in tune with ancient folk traditions still leaves me humbled. By the end of the drive, scenic and history-rich, I feel the route has also brought me closer to understanding this more rural and remote side of Northern Ireland away from the city lights. During July of this year, artist Deborah Warner will add further context, staging a coastal installation at two locations along the Causeway Coast. Hundreds of tents will recount the folk legends and present the love poetry associated with the region. It proves that the best legends never die – they are simply reinvented for new generations.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary Text: David Atkinson / The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People
‘As I set out along the old Antrim coast road… fables of rural Northern Ireland appear to me etched into the stone-forged, purple heather scenery’
Mercure Gold Hotel
Al Mina Road DUBAI
A stylish hotel, centrally located near the Dubai International Convention & Exhibition Centre and Jumeirah Beach. The preferential choice for travelers both business and leisure.
WHERE INDULGENCE MEANS COMFORT . . .
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. . . SOPHISTICATION MEETS CONVENIENCE AT THE MERCURE GOLD HOTEL
700 Hotels worldwide mercure.com
Tel.: +971 (4) 3019888 Email: H8500@accor.com
IF YOU WANT TO DISCOVER THE REAL ABU DHABI, GO STRAIGHT TO ITS HEART.
For more than 30 years, InterContinental Abu Dhabi has been at the very heart of life in the capital. From casual visitors to heads of government, we have welcomed guests from all over the world. So, we understand that people want much more than room and board. They want experiences that enrich and reward. That’s why we offer a range of insider packages designed to connect our guests to the real Abu Dhabi and create lasting memories.
For further information or to make a reservation call: +971 2 693 5154/5155 or email firstname.lastname@example.org intercontinental.com/abudhabi dining-intercontinental-ad.ae. Terms & conditions apply. ©2011 InterContinental Hotels Group. All rights reserved.
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INDONESIAN IDYLL | LOMBOK
Indonesian Idyll Thereâ€™s a buzz about Lombok, says Iain Stewart, as hip hotels and spas combine with dramatic scenery...
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 47
Opening page: Sunset over the Lombok Strait, towards Mount Agung. This page, clockwise from bottom left: Peppers in the Ubud market; An impromtu palm-fringed soccer pitch; A ricefield worker; Farmers collecting straw bundles. Next page: Mount Rinjani.
‘Those in the know are here already... opening hip hotels and transforming Lombok’s west coast and Gili islands into a kind of Eastern eden’
48 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
INDONESIAN IDYLL | LOMBOK
ts behaviour had been disturbing me for days now (though I was half a world away from Iceland). I’d been sunning myself on the sublime Indonesian island of Gili Trawangan, spending my days snorkelling coral reefs and nights working through the menu at the hip Horizontal Lounge. But when I glanced to the east, slate-grey storm clouds smothered the volcano’s profile, though the rainy season was supposed to be over. Periodically, plumes of smoke belched from its cone. The scale of the mountain (3,726m) is such that Rinjani lords itself over the entire northern half of the island of Lombok in every way. Ash emissions bring fertility to the island’s rice fields and tobacco crops; its elevation acts like a magnet for rainclouds. Unsurprisingly, Rinjani is a revered mountain, a pilgrimage destination – and I’d delayed the challenge too long. I had to hike the peak. Just 50km east of Bali, there’s a gentle hum about Lombok that’s developing into a distinct buzz. Those in the know are here already. They’ve had enough of the overdevelopment and gridlock that plagues southern Bali and are opening hip hotels (such as the stylish Qunci) and transforming Lombok’s west coast and Gili islands into a kind of Eastern eden. Visually, Lombok easily matches Bali’s appeal. Its northwest coast is defined by a beautiful succession of sandy coves while the island’s southern shore boasts legendary surf breaks and breathtaking beaches. Culturally, most islanders are Sasak, a Muslim people with mystic traditions. Just a generation ago in rural parts, many people were Wektu Telu (Muslims with a unique sufi-like heritage, not averse to alcohol or pork). Elsewhere, Hindu and Wektu Telu communities worship together at the Pura Lingsar just outside the Lombok capital Mataram, where Muslims give offerings to the Hindu deity Vishnu. I am no mountaineer. But the sun was out, and the village of Sembalun Lawang, suspended in a lush highland valley between the peaks of Rinjani and Nangi, was looking its best. We were some of the first hikers of the year (Rinjani is closed during the wet season due to the threat of landslides), though lingering rains and minor eruptions meant that a summit attempt might not be possible. I shook hands with my guide and with Nyopi, May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 49
50 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
INDONESIAN IDYLL | LOMBOK
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 51
our porter, who carried 30kg of gear on a bamboo pole and preferred flip-flops to boots. Nyopi explained the best approach was “palan-palan” (slowly, slowly). I had to agree. The path meandered past fields of garlic, rows of chilli bushes and then grasslands. A steady climb followed past mountain shelters, where the heavens opened in truly tropical style. Ahead was a near-vertical ascent of 900m up river beds and muddy gulleys sprinkled with volcanic pebbles and ash that sent me skidding into the dirt. We pushed on higher through cloud forest, home to wild boar, porcupine and towering pines, stopping to watch pied flycatchers swoop through the mist. Soaked with sweat, legs trembling, we eventually emerged at the cloud-wrapped crater rim. Home for the night was a campsite on the edge of the caldera at 2,600m, my bed a mattress of black volcanic sand. Great clouds of smoke erupted from the highly active micro peak of Gunung Baru below, darkening the afternoon sky and coating my face with abrasive specks of ash. We dined on noodle soup before rain and exhaustion sent us to bed at 7.30pm, a howling wind inhibiting sleep and threatening to blow us off our perch into the abyss. At 2.45am our attempt at the summit (a five-hour return hike) was called off, as the gale continued. But at daylight the weather had eased, and the skies cleared to
‘Mawun Beach left me speechless, a half-moon cove of perfect proportions, powder-white sand and azure water, framed by emerald-green hills’
52 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
INDONESIAN IDYLL | LOMBOK This page: A woman carries her harvest along a rice terrace. Opposite page: The ebony langur lives in the islandâ€™s rainforests; The Gili archipelago.
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 53
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock Text: Iain Stewart / The Independent / Interview People
This page from top: Service with a smile from the hotel concierge; Tiu Kelep waterfall.
54 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
reveal the great Rinjani caldera in all its brutal, smoking glory. Below us was the ink-black crater lake of Segara Anak (Child of the Sea). As the sun climbed higher, the sky changed to an electric blue. In the distance, the perfect cone of Agung in Bali pierced the horizon. I sat and contemplated the forces of nature that had created this astonishing landscape, for Rinjani is only a fraction of its former self – thousands of years ago a cataclysmic eruption blew the entire lid off the Rinjani supervolcano, reduced the volcano’s height from about 5,000m to 3,726m and created the 9km-wide caldera and crater lake. Two days later, my body was still in bits. I had tendonitis in my city knees and my thighs had all the flexibility of concrete (despite my palan-palan descent). Fortunately, the Lombok Oberoi proved to be a fine place to recuperate. The hotel is built around a triple-level pool which extends to a white-sand beach, with a coral reef offshore. Accommodation, built from natural materials (honey-coloured stone and thatched roofs) is dotted around a coconut grove. I loved sharing tales of pain with the staff, many of whom had made the Rinjani climb. One morning I hobbled around the sandy bay to Tugu, an astonishing fantasy of a hotel, and home to Lombok’s finest spa. Here, under the gaze of centuries-old Javanese statues, my Sasak masseur, Riadi, teased and plied my shell-shocked limbs back into some kind of humanoid form. While I lay mesmerised by the sound of the ocean, I marvelled at the complexity of Indonesian culture. Southern Lombok is drier, less developed and has been touted as the island’s next big thing since anyone can remember. Plans for a mega-resort (backed by the Dubaibased Emaar group) appear to be moribund following the emirate’s financial crisis, but with a new airport soon to open, changes are coming, and the scruffy one-horse town of Kuta now has three estate agencies. I found a virtually pristine coastline, visited by Aussie surfers and the odd backpacker. I signed up for a day of surf instruction at Gerupuk Bay, and felt the raw power of southern Lombok’s waves, which propelled me 200m from break to beach before spitting me out in a blur of foam, salt and spray. The next day I took a moped west of Kuta, pausing at Ashtari Café for breakfast to take in its coast of soaring headlands and bays. A little further west, Mawun Beach left me speechless, a half-moon cove of perfect proportions, powder-white sand and azure water, framed by emerald-green hills. My plan to return to northern Lombok that afternoon was immediately postponed: the beauty was too overpowering, the place too special to experience in an hour or two. Back in Kuta I asked Made, my guest house owner, about Mawun. He said that a Chinese hotel group had plans to build a big resort there, but they were sitting on the land for now. “No water pipe, no electricity,” he explained. So for now it seems the coast is clear. “Yes,” smiled Made. “Palan-palan.”
YELLOWSTONE COUNTRY | USA
Sarah Baxter joins the one per cent of visitors who escape the ‘bear-jams’, and finds the world’s first national park bristling with wildlife…
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 57
here was something in the air. And it wasn’t just the eggy whiff of flatulent mud-pools or the sunscreen-andperfume fug of the crowds at Old Faithful, the geyser. No, something less obvious but more powerful was pervading this strange, volcanic land. It was history. In 1872, Yellowstone – the 3,469 square mile, geothermally restless chunk of (mostly) Wyoming – became the world’s first national park. In other words, it was the first piece of wilderness that anyone, anywhere, saw fit to protect officially. That was what I could sense, infiltrating the straight-backed pine forests. Amid the water spurts and hot springs, above the great, gaping Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, the park bore a palpable specialness befitting a place that, 140 years ago, inspired a whole new concept of conservation. The problem is that ‘specialness’ attracts people. Every year this flagship park – the Empire State Building of the United States’ natural world – receives more than three million visitors. The very wildness that spurred its original protection has been diluted by the attention, and is ever harder to find. Or so I thought. “Congratulations,” MacNeil Lyons declared as we paused at some bison dust-wallows, bare craters in the earth where the beasts like to roll. “You are now members of an exclusive club – the one per cent of visitors that venture more than a mile from the road.” I was spending three-and-a-half days in Yellowstone National Park with a friendly bunch of 11 solo travellers – aged from mid-twenties to late-fifties – on a small-group adventure trip designed to afford a more in-depth exploration. We hadn’t hiked far, just a short stroll out amid the sage scrub and boulders of the Lamar Valley, in search of a wolf den. But it was enough to leave behind the highway-hugging crowds. By heading off-road, we had discovered not tourists but desiccated elk antlers, grasses a-hop with crickets and countryside that seemed to ripple on forever. We had also discovered the benefit of walking with MacNeil. Our guide had met us just after dawn, when the sky was aglow, the mist wisping and the bison – overnight frost still crisp in their permed forelocks – grunting like teenagers. He came bearing hot coffee and an encyclopedic knowledge of the park, starting with perhaps its most interesting species: wolves. “Right: 1,000 years of wolf history in five minutes…” he began as we drove down the valley, filling us in on the story of the canid that was hunted to extinction here by the Twenties. It was reintroduced in 1995, when 38 wolves were brought down from Canada. After a period of acclimatisation, they were released into the park; today 98 wolves prowl its backwoods and beyond. We were hoping to glimpse one. MacNeil set up his spotting scopes by a bend in the Lamar River. Wolves or no wolves, it was a beautiful location.
58 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
Opening page: Morning Glory thermal pool, Upper Geyser Basin; This page, clockwise from top left: Grand Tetons Range; Orako Korakei geothermal park; Native bull elk. Next page: Grand Prismatic Spring, Midway Geyser Basin.
YELLOWSTONE COUNTRY | USA
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 59
â€˜A quick hill climb amid the trees, and suddenly Grand Prismatic appeared in all its blue-green-yelloworange gloryâ€™
60 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
YELLOWSTONE COUNTRY | USA
May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 61
â€˜Off-road, we had discovered not tourists but desiccated elk antlers, grasses a-hop with crickets and countryside that seemed to ripple on foreverâ€™
62 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
YELLOWSTONE COUNTRY | USA Opposite page from top: Herd of bison; Fishermen on Yellowstone River. This page: Yellowstone Falls.
The water meandered across the valley floor, a deep sapphire curl against the yellow-green hillsides; a bald eagle paused in a cottonwood while a Stetsoned horseman splashed through the shallows. The scopes were trained on the cliff behind: up there, somewhere, was a den full of wolf-cubs. MacNeil was hopeful they might be about to pop out for breakfast. Wildlife-watching, good things often come to those who wait. And, even if they don’t, the excitement is in the waiting. Was that a flicker under the willow? A movement by the rock? Or was it one of MacNeil’s ‘granite grizzlies’ – boulders with an annoying habit of looking like bears? The wolves weren’t playing – more fool them: they were missing a glorious, amber-hued morning. But the park’s other animals were less bashful. Bison roamed the distant plains, along with pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep. A beaver slid out of the river and waddled over the pebbles. Then one of those ‘granite boulders’ moved. The grizzly was a long way off when MacNeil first spotted it, but sort of fortunately, it decided to head our way. I say sort of: bears, though beautiful to encounter, are not to be taken lightly. In summer 2011 there were two fatal attacks by bears in the park, the first since 1986. So we were all primed, ready to make a calm and controlled exit if the animal came too close. Actually, our bear wasn’t interested in us. Instead, it made for a lone, lounging bison. Despite the bulk of the shaggy ungulate, the bear advanced. And advanced, until these two behemoths of Yellowstone stood snout to mighty skull – the bear muscular and testing, the bison alert, tail aloft, head angled for defence. Sensibly, the bear thought better than to take on this hairy-brick-wall-on-legs, and ambled towards us, content to graze on berry bushes instead. Wolves not forthcoming, and mini-drama over, we decided to pack up the scopes and move on. A day with MacNeil was a wonderful zoology lesson, even without wolves. He was passionate and knowledgeable on everything from Yellowstone’s trophic cascades (in layman’s terms: the effects on the ecosystem when you remove its keystone species – here, the wolf) to bison dust-baths (“Basically they roll in it, urinate in it, release pheromones, belch, drool…”). On day two, we had a new subject, Geology 101, and a new leader, John. “So the Yellowstone super-volcano tends to erupt roughly every 640,000 years. And the last major eruption – well, that was about 640,000 years ago,” John announced with a smile and a Kentucky drawl. On such a beautiful day it was hard to countenance the end of the world as we know it, so I wasn’t too concerned. But the fact is, Yellowstone will blow again – and the fallout, it’s reckoned, could have catastrophic consequences for the planet. (John’s advice? “You folks need to move to New Zealand.”) John was our geology guide, trusted with helping all the spurts, burps and ruptures of Yellowstone make a little more sense. He was May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 63
cheery, and delighted that we wanted to explore on foot: “Y’all want to walk? That’s awesome! You walk a mile down the trail here and you got it to yourself. Usually I do tours by bus…” We started with a stroll along the rim of the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone: not as big as Arizona’s, perhaps, but replete with some thunderous waterfalls and creative hoodoo rock-chimneys. “The Hayden Valley here used to be the bottom of a glacial lake,” John explained. “But about 100 million years ago the glacial dam broke, releasing an incredible volume of water on the volcanically-softened rock. Some say the canyon was carved in a single day.” Really? He shrugged: “It’s possible.” The many, many geothermal features of Yellowstone – more than 10,000 in total – are extremely popular; the boardwalks that snake between various pools and mud pots are thronged with crowds. So, if private enjoyment was out of the question, we would aim at least for a more informed appreciation. With John on hand, a nondescript hole in the earth was transformed into a loaded water cannon capable of shooting 330ft into the air. He explained a mud pot’s heat, habits and gloopiness (“It would be your best, but last, face pack”). He also explained how the disparate features are actually interconnected: “Take Jet geyser: it will start steaming just before Fountain goes off. This one, Clepsydra, will subside as Fountain enters its end phase.” Some geysers go off almost perpetually, some only once a year; others are born afresh or cease completely as the tumultuous ground beneath shifts and flexes. At Grand Prismatic Spring we did manage to escape the masses. This 400ft-wide hot pool – like a nightmarishly bloodshot eyeball in the earth – is circled by a well-trodden deck. At ground level, however, you can barely comprehend the site; by far the best views are from above. John led us away from the other people, along nearby Fairy Falls Trail. A quick hill climb amid the trees, and suddenly Grand Prismatic appeared in all its blue-green-yellow-orange glory. Bacteria – the source of all those colours, flicking out like flames – have never looked so good. I could understand why three million people come here each year. And when you’re stuck in a ‘bear jam’, it seems as though they are there at the same time. But while the tailbacks resulting from roadside ursine-ogling are frustrating (unless you’re at the front, watching the bear), this park is so vast that it doesn’t need to be a problem. Only two per cent of it is developed, so with the tiniest bit of effort, you can find a quieter Yellowstone. Quiet, that is, save the snore-snorts of bison, the fizzing of steam vents and the race of your pulse when – maybe, just maybe – you catch sight of a wolf. 64 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock Text: Sarah Baxter / The Daily Telegraph / The Interview People
This page from top: Wild wolf; Grizzly bear.
A walk along the ancient walls reveals Istanbulâ€™s convoluted history, says Tristan Rutherford
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PAST GLORIES | TURKEY
n the lower shores of the Golden Horn – the oozy inlet of the Bosphorus that divides European Istanbul from its touristy historic centre – I witnessed my favourite fiddle. The trick is known across the Mediterranean as the gold ring scam. You’ll be strolling along when a fellow walker stumbles over a gold signet ring, which he assumes must be yours. Handle it and your new friend will want a finder’s fee. Or a willowy accomplice might spring from a side street claiming it was hers all along, and only a crossed palm of silver will resolve her indignation. Yet the tranquil upper reaches of the Golden Horn are a world away from such chicanery. Opposite the waterway’s Ayvansaray bus stop, the first of 96 raggedyjaggedy towers marks the edge of ancient Constantinople. From here, five miles of crumbling city walls run down to the sea on Istanbul’s southern shore. Built by the Byzantines to repel barbarian hordes, they were finished just in time to keep out Attila the Hun in 448AD. Passing markets, ancient mosques and finelyfrescoed churches, they offer a passage back to early Ottoman times, devoid of tourists and tricksters alike. Many of Istanbul’s grandest monuments were given a kiss of life as the city basked in its Capital of Culture 2010 celebrations. Not these city walls. Mossy steps allowed me to clamber up to the top of the first tower for panoramas over this city of 13 million souls.
My gaze swept across ancient mosques and modern stadia in the early morning sun, the mighty Bosphorus and the forests of Anatolia, the iconic Galata Tower skylined against the brand new Trump Towers. For the next half-mile the footpath along the wall offered a historical helter-skelter through old Istanbul. First was a mausoleum of Arabian warrior Ahmed el Hudri, where chanting devotees bowed heads before a draped tomb. Other long-dead acolytes lie under the surrounding gardens. Turbans topped the tombstones of the ancient faithful. The path soon stumbled past a dainty little mosque designed by famed Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan. Further on, chickens were roosting in the fortifications. A father and son team were flogging fresh anchovies from an icy pushcart. Once-grand wooden villas crumbled into figgy gardens. An outdoor bird market rounded off the first mile mark near Hirami Ahmet Pasha Mosque, a converted Eastern Orthadox church from pre-Ottoman times. Old chaps in flat caps cupped pigeons and doves, however it was all puff and wind; the only bird trader making any money was the one selling packets of seed. The city wall runs downhill from here to Edirnekapi – the Gate of Edirne – which once led to the Ottoman Empire’s European domains. The towers seemed taller and bulkier here, and with good reason. This topographical dip in Istanbul’s defences has been the focus of many a marauding horde. Bulgars and Kievan Rus battered the bastions
‘The top of one restored tower offered an awesome panorama over the defences, a Great Wall of Istanbul, panning into the distance’
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Opening page: Hagia Sophia Basilica on the banks of the Bosphorus. This page from left: Blue Mosque (also known as Sultan Ahmet Mosque); Whirling dervishes. Opposite page: Visitors inside Hagia Sophia.
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in the first millennia, as did early Arabs – who nearly succeeded in taking Istanbul for Islam seven centuries before the Turks. The top of one restored tower offered an awesome panorama over the defences, a Great Wall of Istanbul, panning into the distance. The scene would have rung true back in 1453 when the current Turkish tenants moved in to stay. In April of that year, Sultan Mehmet II arrived at the city walls with 100,000 soldiers, determined to flip the last vestiges of the Byzantine Empire into the Ottoman realm. But when Mehmet marched through the walls victorious, he promptly put a stop to any looting and paid tribute in the great Hagia Sophia cathedral. The Ottomans preserved almost all of classic Constantinople, including the 5th-century Chora Church next to the city walls. Now a museum, its frescos and gold mosaics retell biblical history in a spellbinding riot of colour. Next door to the church, I stopped for lunch at Asitane Restaurant, a treat for historians of a culinary kind. Here owner Batur Durmay recreates long-lost Ottoman dishes. A highlight is slow-baked goose kebab with almond pilaf, a dish with history: it was
previously served at one of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent’s ceremonies in 1539. History was visible at every turn as the towers rolled down to the Sea of Marmara. I followed a group of students into a towering gatehouse filled with Greek inscriptions, remembering that it was once a portcullised murder hole for barbarian hordes. The moat that ringed the city centuries ago was more visible in this section too. In more recent years, it has been developed into a fertile patch of smallholdings, timelessly picturesque at sunset against the walls. It was into central Istanbul, a maelstrom of modernity, that that I now headed. Today the area is known as much for its rooftop bars as it is for the Grand Bazaar. For the walls, the end of the line is Yedikule, the city’s former Golden Gate. It was once used by victorious generals returning from a foreign ‘triumph’ and was punched through in 1889 by the Orient Express. A local train still draws into the Yedikule platform and rattles for three miles along the Bosphorus to Sirkeci station, the terminus of European rail. En route, it runs parallel to another length of city walls... but that’s another story.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock Text: Tristan Rutherford / The Independent / The Interview People
‘History was visible at every turn as the towers rolled down to the Sea of Marmara’
PAST GLORIES | TURKEY
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SKY HIGH | SWITZERLAND
g, kin e bi s th n e n ai oy k nt nj rla ou e te m en In s, dd ble ne a i la d M red f p ar inc t o ich ’s ou … R and ng g rl pi in ze m on it Ju ny Sw ca s of l ril th
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Opening page: Basejumpers leap from 550m-high â€˜High Noseâ€™ in Lauterbrunnen Valley. This page, clockwise from bottom left: Canyoners prepare to descend through a waterfall; Murren, Berner Oberland; Mountain railway. Next page: Mountain biking on Wetterhorn, Grindelwald.
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SKY HIGH | SWITZERLAND
ll work and no play has made Jack, or in my case Dick, a dull boy. There’s only one thing for it: to shake myself out of my torpor with a dose of high-octane adventure sports. Crisp mountain air is top of my agenda, along with canyons, cliffs and vertiginous geographical features of every description to climb, hike, bike, or throw myself off with reckless abandon. Interlaken in Switzerland’s Bernese Oberland is my destination of choice. The town lies under the talismanic but often tragic spell of the Eigerwand, otherwise known as the North Face of the Eiger, and has been a honeypot for mountaineers and adrenalin junkies for generations. It’s built around a maple-lined park between two lakes (Inter-laken, you see) called the Brienzersee and the Thunersee, and is a model of architectural decorum. But the true stars of the show are the titanic peaks that soar above the valleys below and make for some of the most arresting mountain scenery on the planet. The local transport system, one of the most efficient in the world, includes the Jungfrau Railway which tunnels through the Eiger itself before emerging at the Jungfraujoch, the 3,454m self-styled ‘Top of Europe’. On my first morning, I join a group of 15 mainly twenty-somethings in the Chli Schliere Canyon, reputed to be one of the best canyoning canyons in Europe. I’m swathed in 5mm Neoprene, and clutching a helmet and climbing harness. After a detailed safety briefing, I find myself staring nervously into an abyss as water thunders around me.
Things rapidly turn cold, precipitous and very, very slippery, but within minutes I’m having the time of my life. My head is beginning to clear; the adrenalin starting to flow. “This is one of nature’s more extreme fairground rides,” says Ian, one of our five guides. “The canyon is basically a series of slides, pools, ledges and drop-offs but we descend in stages. We don’t ask you to jump unless we know there’s plenty of water depth below – and we have ropes so you can abseil down if you think the leap looks too high.” Our first obstacle is a slide or channel in the rock known as a flume, which, as I whizz round a corner into the seething torrent of a whirlpool below, feels a bit like being flushed down a giant-sized loo. A short scramble later, and we are peering over the top of a 15-metre waterfall. Canyoning, I soon discover, is a mix of swimming, jumping, scrambling, climbing, slipping, sliding, abseiling and using foul and abusive language with a huge grin on your face. At other moments, during brief pauses in the madness, I look up to see rainbows forming around the silver birch trees clinging to the side of the canyon and gaze out over spectacular views to the valleys below. The next day I swap Neoprene for Lycra and head off on a mountain bike to the nearby Lauterbrunnen Valley, one of the largest nature-conservation areas in Switzerland. This is thrilling biking country, surrounded by mountain peaks and vertical walls that plunge as straight as a plumb-line towards the valley floor. I meander aimlessly, safe in the knowledge that if I tire or get lost, the trains and gondolas that connect even
‘The true stars of the show are the titanic peaks that soar above the valleys below and make for some of the most arresting mountain scenery on the planet’
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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Photolibrary; Shutterstock Text: Richard Madden / The Independent / Interview People
‘This is thrilling biking country, surrounded by mountain peaks and vertical walls that plunge as straight as a plumb-line…’
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the smallest mountain villages will whisk me and my bike to wherever my fancy takes me. My haphazard route leads me to Stechelberg at the end of the valley, where I take the gondola to Mürren and an easy red trail to Winteregg. Here the fun begins in earnest as I thunder down some challenging single-track through the forest to Isenfluh, and then by the river alongside Alpine meadows back to Lauterbrunnen. There are 72 waterfalls in the valley, the best known of them being Staubbach Falls, with a 300m continuous drop making it one of the highest in Europe. But an even more extraordinary sight awaits further down the valley. As I emerge from under some trees I hear a ‘whumph’ high above me, as a parachute opens and swoops down to earth. Further investigation reveals that I have timed my ride to coincide with a base-jumping competition. Competitors are hurling themselves off the cliffs above, clad in aerodynamic ‘squirrel’ suits, before free-flying into the centre of the valley like Superman and opening their parachutes. Inspired by this aerial insanity, the next morning I sign up for a tandem parachute jump. As luck would have it I have chosen a perfect blue-sky day; as we arrive at the airfield the last wisps of mist are still clinging to the surrounding pine forest. There are nine of us on the plane. We circle ever higher to the moment at 4,500m when the door will open and it will be my turn to shuffle to the exit and hurl myself out of the door attached to Mick from Queensland, my tandem freefall pilot. A moment of terror, as the door is opened and we brace against the slipstream, the wind
howling in my ears and my stomach gyrating like a washing machine on max spin. Then with a ‘hard arch’ we plunge out of the door. Nothing prepares you for the rush. Within seven seconds we reach 200km/h – the speed of a Swiss high-speed train – and my stomach is doing weird stuff I never realised was possible. I have just about enough time in our 40 seconds of freefall to get my senses together and take in my surroundings. In the distance framed by a deep blue sky I can see the Eiger, the Jungfrau, the Matterhorn, and even Mont Blanc over the border in France. To make it even more surreal, a crescent moon still floats serenely above them all. On my final morning in Interlaken, I take to the skies once again on a much more gentle tandem paragliding flight from a mountainside to the north of the town. This time we defy gravity and fly upwards as the canopy inflates and we glide out over the valley. One thousand metres below, the cars look like Dinky toys and the wake from the pleasure cruisers on the lake resembles brush strokes of white paint on the surface of the flat water. In my flying armchair I am able to take in the view at my leisure. To the south is the Schilthorn with its revolving restaurant where the Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, was shot, while the now-familiar profile of the Eigerwand looks as intimidating as ever. Then we drift down into the centre of Interlaken and land on the patch of green outside the Metropole Hotel. After an adrenalin-filled burst of all play and no work, Dick is no longer a dull boy.
SKY HIGH | SWITZERLAND
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CONCIERGE | OPENER
IRELAND | RAS AL KHAIMAH | JAIPUR | ST MARTIN ISLAND
THE 30-SECOND CONCIERGE
AILEESH CAREW, BALLYFIN, IRELAND Ballyfin looks like it’s steeped in history – what’s the story behind it? It was built in 1759, a place of lavish parties, but it eventually fell into disrepair. In 2001, a businessman fell in love with the estate, and set to work restoring it to its former glory. He hired historians and experts on Georgian art and architecture – every inch has been painstakingly refurbished. What can I expect to find on arrival today? Ballyfin’s reception rooms are astounding – each one has intricate inlaid wood floors, silk-covered walls and exceptional antiques. The French Gold Room is a favourite of many guests – it’s decorated in elegant Louis XVI style, and is graced by a chandelier from Princess Maria, Napoleon’s sister. What’s the best way to travel there from the Middle East? There are direct flights to Dublin with Ethiad and Emirates. It’s a 70-minute transfer from Dublin Airport to Ballyfin, and we can arrange a car and driver.
Which suite would you recommend I check in to? The Sir Christopher Coote Suite, with its beautiful creamy colours, spacious sitting area and a view overlooking the gardens. It is adorned with family paintings, antiques and 18th-century hand-painted Chinese wallpaper. I want to make like a country lady or gent – how should I spend my stay? There are lots of things to do here: horseback riding, canoeing, archery, clay pigeon shooting, croquet and tennis – to name but a few. We have a spa, falconry and 600 acres of parkland, and we’re handy for nearby excursions. Where can I savour local cuisine both in and outside of the hotel? The chef creates Irish and European dishes with a contemporary flair, and the estate features a sprawling working garden with orchards of apple and pear trees. We even have our own farm for fresh milk and eggs – guests can even pick out their own eggs for breakfast. ballyfin.com May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 77
RAS AL KHAIMAH A stone’s throw from the UAE’s busiest cities, this untouched emirate is an oasis of calm – as Hazel Plush reveals
t’s hard to believe Ras Al Khaimah exists. Rising out of the desert, surrounded by wild mountains and endless sands, this dizzyingly remote city is perched among some of the UAE’s most spectacular scenery. But, unlike in neighbouring emirates, you won’t find any skyscrapers here – this is untouched territory, light-years away from the hustle of city life. Dolphin pods frolic next to its pristine beaches, and the wadis – craggy stretches of spectacular rock formations – are hubs for birdwatching and adventure sports. Take on world-class
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hiking and rock climbing routes, or dig out ancient ruins in the Hajar mountains – with so few tourists, every day feels like an Indiana Jones-style adventure. Al Hamra Fort Hotel and Beach Resort is a fantastic base for active types – golfers will love its designer greens, and its yacht charter service is perfect for plentiful fishing trips. Head out with a scuba school to discover magnificent dive sites, or stake your claim on an empty stretch of beach – chances are, you’ll have it all to yourself.
RAS AL KHAIMAH | UAE
Ras Al Khaimah
Opening page: Banyan Tree Al Wadi; Wild gazelle; Banyan Tree Al Wadi souk. This page: Hummus mezze.
6 Shamal Julphar
9 3 2 1 10
Al Jazirat Al Hamra
RAS AL KHAIMAH’S BEST… SPAS Banyan Tree Al Wadi Spa
MUST-DOS Al Hamra Golf Club (1) (alhamragolf.com) is a fine 18-hole par 72 championship golf course on the edge of the Gulf waters – and it’s perfect for beginners and pro golfers alike. Designed by Peter Harradine, the greens circle four interconnected lagoons, and can be floodlit if you fancy a round after dark. Non-golfers will love the three restaurants and sun deck with views of the Marina. Al Hamra Marina & Yacht Club (2) (alhamramarina.com) offers yacht charters for sailing and fishing – as well as maritime training courses for would-be captains. Choose from dinghies, racing yachts and motorboats (and everything in between), or hire a traditional Turkish gulet for a barbecue daytrip and sundowners. Iceland Waterpark (3) (icelandwaterpark.com) has enough white-knuckle rides and water chutes to keep the whole family entertained for a day – kids will love the splash pools and discos of Penguin Bay, while thrill-seekers should take on Mount Fury, a terrifying assortment of slides that plunge from lofty heights. If you’re after a more sedate afternoon, leave the little ones at the Kids’ Cove and hire a gazebo and private butler. Arabian Diver (4) (arabiandiver.com) offers scuba trips and PADI-certified courses in some of the UAE’s finest dive sites. Swim amongst stingrays, turtles and dolphins in glassy waters, or
Choose from a plethora of indulgent treatments in this health haven – or go all-out on a refreshing beautyfilled Banyan Day.
The Cove Rotana Resort The extensive spa menu at this luxury resort features fine
try your hand at wreck diving to encounter hawkfish, snapper, and moray eels. Visibility is top-notch, excellent if you want to try your hand at underwater photography. The Stairway to Heaven (5), a hiking route which passes through the crags and troughs of Wadi Ghalilah, is said to be one of the most spectacular in the UAE – but don’t attempt it lightly. The gruelling 12-hour trail takes on some of RAK’s wildest terrain, and dehydration and rock falls are real dangers. Queen Sheba’s Palace (6) is an archaeologist’s treasure trove: the haunting ruins date back to the 16th century, when it is thought that an Islamic Palace was perched atop the 200-metre-high hill. The history is shrouded in legend, but the site is captivating nevertheless – hire a guide to hear all the myths and yarns.
WHERE TO STAY Banyan Tree Al Wadi (7) (banyantree.com), tucked away on the sands of Wadi Khadeja, is a true desert haven – its private beach club
indulgences from all over the world. Our favourite? A Swedish deeptissue massage right on the beach.
Hilton Ras Al Khaimah On a private coastal stretch, this sumptuous spa boasts no fewer than nine treatment rooms as well as a traditional hammam.
and nature reserve are the stuff of dreams. Bed down in an Al Sahari Tented Pool Villa for Bedouin-style romance and a secluded infinity pool. Al Hamra Fort Hotel and Beach Resort (8) (alhamrafort.com), with its private beach and elegant landscaped gardens, is the place for some real R&R. Recline at the exclusive beach club and enjoy a treatment at the on-site spa – or, if you’re feeling energetic, work it out at the golf course, gym and tennis courts.
WHERE TO EAT Basilico at The Cove Rotana Resort (9) (rotana.com) has a Mediterranean-inspired menu, with fresh seafood and all the Italian favourites. Its suave dining area is excellent for a leisurely lunch or candle-lit dinner. Al Jazeera at Al Hamra Fort Hotel (10) (alhamrafort.com) is a lively Lebanese-style hang-out, with regular music nights and belly dancing. Enjoy an al fresco dinner on its Arabian garden terrace – it’s a romantic spot for a moonlit meal. May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 79
JAIPUR The Pink City is the jewel in the crown of India’s Golden Triangle – and has regal splendour and style in abundance
he pink marble walls of Jaipur could tell a thousand stories: tales of Rajasthan’s rulers, bloody wars, trade routes and colonial greed. There isn’t just a sense of history here – it’s tangible, in the carvings of the opulent City Palace, the miniature paintings that line the Albert Hall Museum, and the leafy fortresses given second lives as hotels. Even the city’s dining scene is rooted in tradition: opulent menus feature hundred-year-old recipes, served on hand-crafted platters with regal motifs. Of course, once outside those rosy-hued rooms, Jaipur is throbbing; in true Indian style, modern city living is loud, hectic and delightfully frenzied. Soak it all up in the bazaars and back streets, amongst the clamour and chaos of everyday life. But if it all gets too much, and tranquillity beckons, retreat into those pinky palaces – just like the royals and rulers of old...
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MUST-DOS City Palace (1), a vast complex of ornate royal residences, is home to the Maharaja Sawai Man Singh II Museum (msmsmuseum. com) – a gathering of Rajasthani artifacts. Set aside an afternoon, and lose yourself in the labyrinth. Hawa Mahal (2), known as the ‘Palace of the Winds’, is an intricate five-storey façade which extends the women’s chambers of the City Palace. Its original
purpose was to allow royal ladies to observe street life without being seen. They would peek out from the 953 windows at the hustle and bustle below – and you can do the same with access from the Palace grounds. Albert Hall Museum (3) is one of the city’s oldest museums, located in the sweet-scented heart of the Ram Niwas Gardens. Its Indo-Sarcenic architecture – an ornate combination of Indian
JAIPUR | INDIA
Opening page from top: Mehrangarh Fort on Jaipur skyline; Indian sadhu; Hawa Mahal. This page: Decorated elephant; One of Jaipur’s many spice markets.
and British influences, popular with colonial forces in the late 19th century – houses a rich collection of artwork, jewellery and miniature paintings. Jantar Mantar Observatory (4), the largest stone observatory in the world, was constructed in 1733. This Unesco-protected site is spectacular for its scale, but the most impressive triumph is its accuracy: the fourteen instruments (which include a giant sundial) are unfailingly precise. Sisodia Rani Ka Bagh (5), an assortment of landscaped gardens, makes for a refreshing break from Jaipur’s urban sprawl. The grounds are on the Jaipur-Agra road, ten kilometres from the city, and feature shady pavilions, fountains, and a vibrant collection of India’s exotic flora. Amber Palace (6) is best visited at sunset: orange skies light up its red sandstone and white marble domes. Its hilltop location, among pristine manicured gardens, can be a tough slog, so hire an elephant and guide to take you to the top.
of a traditional fort, with regal embellishments at every turn. Book an embroidered tent with bath and terrace, and enjoy the view of your private garden. Amanbagh (8) (amanresorts. com) is a boutique-style hotel on the outskirts of the city – but it’s worth making the trip for the ambiance alone. A haven of eucalyptus trees, marble courtyards and a glorious spa, this retreat has true palatial poise.
WHERE TO EAT Suvarna Mahal (9) (tajhotels. com), in the magnificent Rambagh Palace hotel, boasts fine dining with a rich serving of decadence. Quaff from goblets and feast on dishes inspired by royal menus. Durg The Fort (10) (durgthefort. com) is the place for lively nights with dancing, entertainment, and infamous fire shows... The menu is eclectic, with Indian dishes appearing alongside Chinese and Italian favourites.
WHERE TO STAY The Oberoi Rajvilas (7) (oberoihotels.com), nestled in 32 acres of elegant grounds, is a meticulous reconstruction
JAIPUR’S BEST… BAZAARS
6 Paurani Basti
This is one of the city’s most famous markets, with a dazzling – and seemingly endless – array of precious and non-precious stones.
Head to Bapu for the finest textiles: you’ll find everything from handmade lace to sari material here, and the resident tailors and seamstresses can rustle up suits and dresses in no time.
This lengthy street is brimming with stalls and vendors – you can haggle for jewellery, woodwork, pottery and brass.
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82 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
EGYPT Amex 33 Nabil El Waqqad St. Ard El Golf – Heliopolis Cairo +202 2 290 9157 amex.heliopolis@ amexfranchise.com +202 2 418 2144/+202 2 418 3222 Amex 15 St. Kasr El Nile - Cairo Down Town – Kasr El Nile Cairo +202 2 574 7997 amex.kasrelnil@ amexfranchise.com 002 02 2574 7991/2/3
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WIN TWO NIGHTS AT THE WESTIN ABU DHABI GOLF RESORT & SPA It’s impossible not to feel rejuvenated after a stay at The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa. Start your day with an invigorating breakfast of fresh fruits and energy-boosting superfoods, then go in search of some fun. Surrounded by the Abu Dhabi Golf Club, a 27-hole championship course, the hotel is perfectly placed for a day (or a few) on the greens. Shopaholics will love Abu Dhabi Mall, just a short distance away, which is packed with department stores and designer outlets galore. Head to the Heavenly Spa for some luxurious treatments – we love the ‘golfers’ recovery’ session for post-game relaxation, or ‘myoxy-caviar’ to nourish your skin. For dinner, the resort has a plethora of options: the chefs of Fairways International Restaurant can create delicious dishes from all over the world, or you can sample Moroccan delicacies in Agadir, a romantic spot with a candle-lit terrace. Fancy something more lively? The Retreat shows live coverage of sporting events, and Lemon & Lime Lounge has an array of beverages. At the end of the day, immerse yourself in the bubbles of a Westin Heavenly Bath, and then sink into your sumptuous Heavenly Bed… westinabudhabigolfresort.com
THE PRIZE Two nights in The Westin Abu Dhabi Golf Resort & Spa, plus breakfast, and dinner in Fairways with soft drinks. For your chance to win, email your answer to email@example.com before May 31, 2012.
Q. How many holes does the Abu Dhabi Golf Club course have? a) Eighteen b) Twenty-two c) Twenty-seven TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prize to be claimed on weekends only, subject to availability. Advanced bookings only.
EASTERN PROVINCE Kanoo Corporate Al Khobar 31952 Al Khobar +966 3 882 4534 +966 3 849 8700 Kanoo Travel Aramco, Rastanura 31941 Rahima +966 3 667 3591 +966 3 667 0388
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May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 83
LA SAMANNA RESORT AND SPA, SAINT MARTIN ISLAND
Sea views don’t come much more spectacular than this – but then, La Samanna Resort and Spa doesn’t do things by halves. Check into a Plunge Pool Suite (pictured) for your very own beach-side gazebo, and enjoy unrivalled views of the tranquil Caribbean waters. Spend your days gazing out at the colourful fishing boats (no doubt bringing your dinner to shore), and nights star-gazing from your personal rooftop lounge. This luxury residence is all about stylish seclusion: each suite comes with a private pool for dips, tropical 84 May 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
outdoor shower and luxurious linens throughout – and they’re set in lush 55-acre grounds, so you’ll feel like you’ve got the place all to yourself. Relax with an al fresco four-hand massage, or swing away the day in one of the suite’s hammocks. And the best bit? Staff will set up a dining area on your terrace where you can enjoy private meals from the hotel’s French and Caribbean restaurants – and you won’t ever have to tear your eyes away from that view... lasamanna.com