THE MIDDLE EAST’S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE
Rio de Janeiro
The inside track on Brazil’s Marvellous City
Andrew Eames enjoys a true taste of Malaysia
Produced in International Media Production Zone
reasons to rediscover Paris & London
The Wild One
colourful country’s soul
India Where to go to find the
tw o Ra -nig di ht ss st on ay Bl at u Re Fuj so air rt ah ’s
Our man heads west to cowboy territory
Kanoo World Traveller
Welcome to the issue
Dear readers, It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the May issue of Kanoo World Traveller magazine. At the outset, I would like to thank all of our partners and sponsors for your continued support. With the weather heating up and the sun shining bright, I am sure you are eager to finalise your vacation plans for this summer. We hope our travel tips and coverage on exotic destinations in this publication will help you make a decision on your holiday planning. Our focus this summer is to offer our customers the chance to experience the perfect vacation by partnering with the most exclusive hotel chains and tour operators that believe in quality and customer satisfaction. Please feel free to visit us on www.kanootravel.com or email email@example.com, the Kanoo Travel team will be more than happy to assist you. In this issue, we see India through the fresh eyes of a first-time visitor to the country before heading off to Penang to discover the culinary and cultural delights of the Malaysian state. We also report from a ranch in Montana, explore the many cultural delights Amsterdam has to offer the more discerning traveller and tell the story of the recently renovated The Gritti Palace, Venice. Wherever you are travelling, I wish you a safe and enjoyable journey. nabeel Kanoo Director Kanoo Travel
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 3
PAY less, STAY more WITH HYATT HOTELS IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES Let Hyatt reward you for longer stays this summer. Stay with us from 16 May to 14 September 2013 in Abu Dhabi or Dubai and enjoy free nights on us. What’s more, get 20% off at 27 restaurants and bars and across five luxury spas. Even better, your children stay and dine for free! For reservations visit hyatt.com/uae-summer-specials or call: United Arab Emirates Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Qatar Bahrain Other countries
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Free night(s) can be redeemed at Hyatt Hotels in the United Arab Emirates when staying a minimum of two consecutive nights in Abu Dhabi and three consecutive nights in Dubai. A maximum of two children below the age of 12 stay and dine for free when accompanied by 2 paying adults. A maximum of 1 extra bed can be placed in 1 room (subject to each participating property). Guests aged 12 years and above may be subject to additional hotel charges. For complete terms and conditions, visit hyatt.com/uae-summer-specials. Hyatt™ and related marks are trademarks of Hyatt Corporation and its affiliates.© 2013 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved. Void where prohibited.
KaNOO WOrld TravEllEr MAy 2013
CONTENTS TRAVeL BITeS 07 check in
We discover what’s new in London and Paris this summer and visit the newly restored Gritti Palace, Venice
Win a serene two-night break at the Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah
28 Where to Stay
Heading to Chicago? KWT has rounded up the city’s most stylish boltholes
30 picture thiS
These images of far-flung places will leave you searching for your passport
73 ViSit: amSterdam
The city is in a party mood as many of its landmarks celebrate big birthdays
76 ViSit: buenoS aireS
KWT discovers just why the Argentinian capital remains so popular with visitors
80 Suite dreamS
Rooms with a view don’t come much better than the penthouse at Four Seasons Hotel George V Paris
FeATuReS 34 india Jessamy Caulkin’s first visit to India is a spellbinding cultural journey
A trip to the Wild West proves exhilarating for Pete Thompson
Discover the culinary wonder of Malaysia’s lesser known Penang
60 rio de janeiro
KWT offers an insider guide to the best of Brazil’s ‘Marvellous City’
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editor: Leah Oatway
Production Manager: Haneef Abdul
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Writer: Grace Hyne
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May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 5
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Book your summer savings offer now. For information or reservations contact your travel agent, visit www.moevenpick-hotels.com/summersavings or call us toll free from the following countries: Bahrain 8000 1991, Egypt 0800 441 1111, Jordan 0800 222 02, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 800 124 2929, Kuwait 2 225 3228, Qatar 800 2001, United Arab Emirates 800 4934.
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CheCk in | news
BE INformEd, BE INspIrEd, BE THErE What a difference a year makes… When the summer heat sets in, London and Paris are always appealing getaways. Hot destinations in all but temperature, both serve up a
feast of culture, charm, shopping and sights. And there’s always something new and exciting to tempt you back. If you’re debating which of these rather majestic
cities to pick this summer, fear not. KWT has rounded up the best of what’s new: from luxurious hotels to exciting dining experiences and stimulating attractions...
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 7
The iconic hotel Café royal (hotelcaferoyal. com), has been painstakingly restored and is fast regaining its place at the heart of London high society. Steeped in history and a royal favourite, the hotel has welcomed a host of A-listers since the 1900s, from Oscar Wilde to Elizabeth Taylor. And if it’s good enough for them... Foodies, meanwhile, have cause for celebration: D&D restaurants, the gastronomic empire owned by Sir Terence Conran, has opened its first hotel – south place Hotel (southplacehotel.com). Here, the restaurants are as important as the rooms: the head chef at its seafood restaurant Angler was formerly the chef de partie for Marco Pierre White. If you’re looking for a room with a view though, you’re unlikely to find better than at the eagerly anticipated shangri-La Hotel, At The shard (shangri-la.com/london). If the impressive height doesn’t get you then the size of the guestrooms will – they’re among the largest in London.
It’s impossible not to start with London’s newest, and tallest, monument: The shard (the-shard.com). Already a city icon; scale its heights (in one of its super-fast lifts) for panoramic views of the capital. Art lovers will be pleased to hear that the Ayyam Gallery (ayyamgallery.com) opened earlier this year. Seeking to display new Islamic art with a global resonance, you’ll adore its collection of works by emerging Middle Eastern artists. Next month, London acquires a new cultural destination – the serpentine sackler Gallery (serpentinegallery.org). A stone’s throw from its sister gallery (the Serpentine Gallery) in Kensington Gardens, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Zaha Hadid has transformed a listed building into a home for works of emerging artists and its pavilion has been designed by multi-award-winning Japanese architect Sou Fujimoto. And for a child-friendly family day out, there’s London Zoo’s new sumatran tiger enclosure (zsl.org).
London isn’t short of decadent new dining destinations to try. We expect great things from Bird of smithfield (birdofsmithfield. com), which is led by the former head chef of The Ivy, Alan Bird. Set in a five-storey Georgian townhouse, it offers modern British dishes, which – weather dependent – can be enjoyed on its roof terrace overlooking Smithfield market. In the heart of Covent Garden, you’ll find the London branch of Keith McNally’s Balthazar (balthazarlondon. com), which opened in February amid much excitement. An homage to Parisian dining establishments (think red leather banquettes and mosaic floors) it serves breakfast through to dinner with a French brasserieinspired menu – and its boulangerie is to-diefor. Meanwhile, for those who prefer to share, there’s The pearson room (thepearsonroom. co.uk) in Canary Wharf, which offers sharing plates: from fish tacos to jam and custard doughnuts, dig in en masse. Delicious.
8 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Paris Attractions Art fans rejoice: the new Islamic art wing in the Louvre (louvre. fr) is now open and has on display exceptional pieces from around the world. If sculpture is more your thing then venture to the Zadkine Museum (+33 1 5542 7720), which has reopened following a year of renovation. Marvel at Russian-born sculptor Ossip Zadkine’s ground-breaking pieces in revamped surrounds. For a sweet treat, head to La Manufacture de Chocolat Alain Ducasse (lechocolatalainducasse.com), the mouthwatering new chocolate atelier run by the Michelinstarred chef. From bean to bar, artisans here do it all. Heavenly.
Moments from the ChampsElysées you’ll find the Prince de Galles, A Luxury Collection Hotel (princedegallesparis. com), which has just undergone a two-year-long restoration. Reopening this month, the grand 1928 building has been carefully brought into the noughties by renowned interior designer Pierre Yves-Rochon. Originally built for the annual visit of the then Prince of Wales, Edward VIII, the hotel was soon attracting A-list clientele, from Winston Churchill to Marlene Dietrich. Book L’Appartement Parisien suite for its private terrace, which offers stunning panoramic city views. Fashionistas will be pleased to hear that Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris (buddhabarhotelparis. com) opens its doors next month. Set in an 18th century building in Paris’ swanky 8th arrondissement, it will fuse the best of classic French architecture with neo-Asian- and Parisian-inspired designs.
The City of Lights is renowned for its fine dining prowess. The signature restaurant of the newly-renovated Prince de Galles hotel (princedegallesparis. com) is the latest star on the ascent. It’s due to open this month with Stephanie Le Quellec, who trained at the Four Seasons Hotel George V, at the helm. Another female French chef making strides in the capital is Anne-Sophie Pic: La Dame de Pic (ladamedepic. fr) is her first Parisian venture and it has already been awarded a Michelin star (her fourth). Expect elegant and fragrant cuisine – she teamed up with Japanese perfumer Takasago to create tasting menus based on fragrances. Those looking for a lighter bite, meanwhile, should head to Paris’ second Pinxo outpost, based in the Latin Quarter and run by Michelinstarred chef Alain Dutournier (alaindutournier.com). Piquillo peppers never tasted so good...
10 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Opening page: Houses of Parliament, London. Previous page, clockwise from top left: Dominion bedroom, South Place Hotel, London; Le Chiffre - South Place’s residents’ games room; Cafe Royal hotel lobby; The Shard. This page, from top: Guestroom at the Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris; Bathroom at Buddha-Bar Hotel Paris; Art Deco Deluxe room, Prince de Galles, A Luxury Collection Hotel; Louvre museum (exterior).
GRAN MELIÁ Starting from Gran Meliá Villa Agrippina
Gran Meliá Colón
Gran Meliá Fénix
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PICTURED: GRAN MELIÁ VILLA AGRIPPINA, ROME
MELIÁ Starting from Meliá Princesa
Meliá Marbella Banus
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PICTURED: MELIÁ ZANZIBAR
ME BY MELIÁ Starting from ME London
PICTURED: ME LONDON
Feast your eyes on this month’s great deals from Kanoo Travel
discover sri Lanka 8 days, 7 nights From $600 p/p (excluding flights) There are few places better equipped to cater for the discerning traveller than Sri Lanka. From pristine beaches and historical sites to exciting water adventures and awe-inspiring wildlife, the possibilities are endless. This tour will ensure you won’t overlook the best of what’s on offer. You’ll begin at Pinnawala Elephant Orphanage – established in 1975 to care for young orphaned elephants or adult elephants lost in the wilderness. Next up is Dambulla, a Unesco world heritage site north of Kandy: here you’ll find a fascinating five-cave complex dating as early as the 7th century BCE and filled with art and statues spanning the centuries. It’s a beautiful way to trace the country’s evolution. There is another Unesco world heritage site to be discovered just 20 minutes from Dambulla: Sigiriya – an enormous hulk of rock that rises 200 metres above the ground. Within its complex there are water gardens, frescoes and, of course, the Lion Rock (so named because of the lion-shaped gateway halfway up its side) – scale it (via an iron stairwell) for breathtaking views. From Dandulla it’s on to Kandy, via Matale’s fragrant spice garden. The last capital of the ancient kings’ era, Kandy is also arguably Sri Lanka’s most scenic city. After an evening of cultural dancing, you’ll spend a leisurely morning discovering the thousands of plant species at the Royal Botanical Garden, Peradeniya. Later, a city tour will orientate you before you’re left to explore. Tea lovers will be thrilled to hear that the next stop is Nuwara Eliya, in the heart of Sri Lanka’s breathtaking tea country. En route you’ll stop at a tea plantation before marvelling at Ramboda Falls – Sri Lanka’s highest waterfall at 109 metres. The next day is yours to spend as you choose, giving you ample time to discover Horton Plains National Park’s beautiful trails and wild inhabitants. The next day you depart for Colombo, where there’s just enough time to see its highlights. 12 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
HisToric sHimLa 3 nights, from $248 p/p (excluding flights) Nicknamed ‘The Queen of Hills’ because of its hillside location, Shimla (formerly Simla) was for a long time in the 19th century the summer destination of choice for Brits seeking cooler climes. Today, the northern Indian city remains a stunning refuge from soaring temperatures. There is plenty of Raj memorabilia to be discovered and cooed
over here – from the majestic royal buildings to the colonial infrastructure and traditions that have been carefully preserved, including the ‘toy train’ that once ferried tired Brits up the steep hillside and now has Unesco world heritage status. Those who feel more inclined to walk, however, will adore the hike-friendly forest trails in this area. They are filled with fascinating legends, incredible wildlife and lead to villages adorned with historic temples. For a more relaxed introduction to Shimla, sit at The Mall and people-watch.
India Tourism Dubai Tel: +971-4-2274848 Fax: +971-4-2274013 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
golden triangle 5 days, 4 nights From $396 p/p (excluding flights) If you want to experience India but feel overwhelmed at the sheer size of the continent and the many incredible destination options it throws out, why not keep it simple, with this five-day tour of its magnificent Golden Triangle? So-called because of the sheer wealth of cultural monuments on the well-travelled route, the Golden Triangle offers the best of the country’s many different landscapes and takes in the three most visited cities in the north-west: Delhi, Agra and Jaipur. Prepare for a sensory overload when arriving in Delhi – a diverse city filled with everything from colourful, if frenetic, bazaars through to stylish boutiques and cafes. Be sure to take your guide’s advice on what to see and do there – the possibilities are endless – before heading on to Agra and its crowning glory, the breathtaking Taj Mahal. Yes, it’s tourist-filled, but it’s also magnificent and a must-see. There are other architectural wonders to behold here, though none on the same scale or as beautiful. Next up is Jaipur. Known as the Pink City because of the incredible pink walls and buildings in its old city, the royal heritage here is quite special – conjuring up images of a bygone era. You can take an elephant safari here before heading back to Delhi, tired but satisfied.
14 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Captivating Kerala 3 nights From $320 p/p (excluding flights) If you’re looking for a serene getaway then Kerala, India, is a must. A short flight will see you on quiet, tourist-free beaches, surrounded by exotic wildlife and lush landscape; historical monuments and a cosmopolitan city within your reach. You can’t see all the state has to offer in just three days, but this tour offers a pretty good taster, with five-star accommodation too. You’ll start and end the tour in Kochi (formerly Cochin) – its bustling port city (famous for its Chinese fishing nets) and Kerala’s financial hub. Once an ancient port where merchants sold spices to overseas traders, including Arabs, for a taste of how Kochi once was, head to the thriving peninsula of Mattencherry and Fort Kochi (known as Old Kochi) for colonial buildings, antique shops and more. For historical palaces, museums, art and temples galore, there’s Thripunithura – your local English-speaking guide will make sure you don’t miss the best bits. Mid-way through your tour is a day in Kumarakom, a destination famous for its beautiful backwaters – canals, rivers, lakes and lagoons – and houseboats; once used to transport goods they’re now a unique tourism selling point. Home to all manner of flora, fauna and incredible migratory birds – be sure to remember your camera.
GET SO MUCH MORE OUT OF SUMMER WITH INTERCONTINENTAL ABU DHABI
With room rates starting at AED 450++, InterContinental Abu Dhabi is the smart choice for your summer break. Rate includes breakfast, free internet, next level room upgrade (subject to availability) and a Club Room upgrade for only AED 300++. Offer valid from 9th May to 6th September 2013. ++ Rates exclude 10% service charge and 6% tourism fee.
For further information or to make a reservation please call +971 2 666 6888 or email email@example.com intercontinentalabudhabi.com dining-intercontinental-ad.ae Terms and conditions apply. ©2013 InterContinental Hotels Group. All Rights Reserved. Most hotels independently owned and/or operated.
In over 170 locations across the globe including HONG KONG • LONDON • NEW YORK • PARIS
CheCk in | news
Best of the Fests
A new collection of images by renowned nature photographer Sebastião Salgado show Earth as you’ve never seen it before…
Festival season is underway. Check out the best in May...
Images (far right, from top): Shutterstock; Nathalie Bauer; Finn Beales
Cannes Film Festival Expect sun, glamour and the world’s biggest film stars at what is arguably the industry’s most prestigious, and fun, event.
Prague Spring Festival John Malkovich is a surprise star at this year’s classical music extravaganza. He joins the world’s best orchestras and musicians. These extraordinary images are the snapshots of one man’s eight-year expedition to rediscover the far corners of the world. The result? Genesis: breathtaking scenes of nature in its purest form. The blackand-white photographs, which are currently on display at the Natural History Museum in London, were taken by Brazilian photographer Sebastião Salgado, who set out to document the 46 per cent of the planet that remains the same today as it was at the time of genesis. Travelling by foot, light aircraft, boat,
canoe, and even hot air balloon, over 30 trips Salgado captured beautiful landscapes, wildlife and communities in parts of the world untouched by modern society - from the Galapagos Islands to the Antarctic and the Amazon jungle. The images are, he says, a “love letter to the planet”. A selection have also been collated into book form - Sebastião Salgado: Genesis, published by Taschen. The photographer’s deep-rooted respect for nature has always been his inspiration: previous works have documented the devastating
effect of socio-economic conditions on humans – from hunger to natural disasters and environmental degradation. He shunned shooting in colour many years ago, preferring the “chiaroscuro palette of black-and-white images”. The Genesis project is dedicated to showing the depth of the planet’s beauty and Salgado hopes his images will inspire people to preserve it for future generations: “We must preserve what exists.” Taschen.com
Hay Festival Beirut The second edition of this UK export promises international writers, thinkers and artists in venues across Lebanon’s capital.
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 17
Grills and thrills
Italy is always an appealing prospect but KWT has found two very special reasons to go in May...
Images: courtesy of Palazzo Margherita and Lamborghini
Looking for a delicious excuse to head to Italy this month? Film director and hotel mogul Francis Ford Coppola is serving up a treat for foodies at his southern Italian abode, Palazzo Margherita (coppolaresorts. com/palazzomargherita). Immerse yourself in southern Italian culture – particularly its incredible cuisine (it’s the home of pizza, didn’t you know?) – courtesy of bespoke three- or eight-day itineraries. La Dolce Vita package includes one-on-one culinary classes from the palazzo’s live-in chefs: learn how to make a pizza from scratch, make hand-made pasta with local flour, source produce from nearby farms and pick herbs from the on-site garden. There are also plenty of restaurants to try out while touring the ancient city of Matera, the old town of Taranto, and the beautiful beaches. If you’re more interested in motor oil than olive oil though, Lamborghini has a special treat in store. To celebrate its 50th anniversary it has organised a one-off tour of Italy. A convoy of the cars, vintage and modern, will navigate their way through 1,200km of inspiring ltalian countryside. While places on the tour are limited, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for motoring aficionados to get up close and personal with the marque at the various stops en route.
Ones to watch...
Another month, another selection of luxurious new abodes to tempt the discerning traveller...
If you’re looking for an elegant and spellbinding retreat then head to Mallorca’s new gem; Castell Son Claret (castellsonclaret.com). Not only is it located on a Unesco world natural heritage site but the historical, 325-acre retreat also boasts chef Fernando Perez Arellano, of Michelin-starred restaurant Zaranda. For a city-based treat, try Rotterdam’s new landmark – Mainport (designhotels.com/mainport). The sleek black Design Hotels property, located in the city centre with 18 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
incredible harbour views, was designed with wellness in mind: from its private Finnish saunas to the hot tubs overlooking the city. Or, for those looking for a whitewashed haven to retreat to, there’s San Giorgio Mykonos (designhotels.com/san_giorgio). A collaboration between Design Hotels and the creatives behind Mykanos’ Paradise Club, what began as a six-month experiment in 2012 proved so popular it’s now a permanent fixture on the island.
Make it a complete holiday in the heart of Dubai.
Welcome to Al Ghurair Rayhaan and Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana. Nestled in the historical heart of the city, in Dubai’s bustling Deira district, Al Ghurair Rayhaan and Al Ghurair Arjaan by Rotana are adjacent to one of Dubai’s famous malls – Al Ghurair Centre. Their unique positioning makes them an attractive property for business and leisure travellers. Make your stay an experience to cherish with a choice of our fine dining outlets. For an authentic taste of Persia, step into Shayan Restaurant and choose from an extensive menu over a sit-down dinner. Or choose to spend time with family and friends at Liwan, our all day dining restaurant and its various theme nights. What’s more, should you choose to, spend a day at the beach or shop, with our free shuttle bus to Mamzar Beach and Dubai Mall through the day. Complete the experience and indulge yourself in our first Zen the spa at Rotana in Dubai. The very tranquil and luxurious spa offers signature treatments designed to relax your mind, revive your soul and rejuvenate your body. For your booking and reservations, please call +971 4 293 3000 or visit rotana.com
P.O.Box 185051, Dubai U.A.E, T:+971 (0)4 293 3000, F:+971 (0)4 293 3555, firstname.lastname@example.org
SoPHIStIcAted leISuRe At tHe fIneSt AddReSS In QAtAR Escape to an exclusive beach with private oceanfront cabanas. Slip into an Olympic-size pool or take a dip in the inviting blue waters of the Arabian Gulf. Revel in water sports that excite or soothe, arranged by a St. Regis Butler. Savor flavors from ten extraordinary restaurants including Gordon Ramsay, the master chef’s signature ode to Qatar. The joy of leisure redefined by The St. Regis Doha. Come, explore.
al gassar resort at west bay stregisdoha.com 974.4446.0000
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finest hotels africa europe ©2010–2012 Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their logos are the trademarks of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., or its affiliates.
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CheCk in | news
A Gritti business
How do you restore and improve The Gritti Palace, Venice’s finest hotel? By leaving well alone, says Tim Jepson At 9.52, on the morning of July 14, 1902, the huge Campanile, or bell tower, in St Mark’s Square collapsed in a mountain of wood, brick and marble. It had stood, on the flimsiest of foundations, for almost 1,000 years, buffeted by wind and rain, corroded by salt water and – thanks to its inviting bronze tip – struck repeatedly by lightning. It was a miracle it hadn’t fallen sooner. That same evening, a meeting of Venice’s city council was
convened and, despite protests about cost, and claims by some that the square was improved without the tower, it was decided, in a phrase that entered Venetian folklore, to rebuild the Campanile dov’era e com’era – “where it was and how it was”. What you see today is the new tower, inaugurated in 1912, 600 tons lighter and with an additional 1,000 wooden piles reinforcing its foundations, but otherwise identical to before.
This is what Venetians do. When the issue of renewal arises, they tend to ask why – and more to the point, how – would you go about improving the world’s most beautiful city? On the whole they adhere to the principle of 1902, restoring rather than altering to leave things much as they were before – dov’era e com’era. This is precisely what has happened in the restoration of The Gritti Palace, Venice’s most
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 21
celebrated hotel, which reopened last month after a renovation that took 15 months and cost £36.5million. It was beautiful before, it is beautiful again, and at first glance it’s as if nothing has changed. In the greater scheme of things, of course, the fate of a single hotel is of little importance. But the Gritti is not just any hotel: it is one of the world’s finest hotels; one of the most historic, ravishing, beautifully located and sumptuously appointed places to stay, not just in Venice but in any city you care to mention. The history first. The Gritti’s palazzo was begun for the aristocratic Pisani family in 1475. It was then acquired and extended by Andrea Gritti, doge of Venice between 1523 and 1538. For around 350 years thereafter it remained a private residence, becoming a hotel in its present guise in 1948. Ernest Hemingway was one of the first guests: he wrote much of his novel Across the River and Into the Trees whilst at The Gritti Palace. Then the location. No other 22 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
hotel can hold a candle to the Gritti’s setting on the Grand Canal – not even the Danieli or Cipriani, its main Venetian rivals. And not just any setting on the Grand Canal, but a position close to St Mark’s and opposite the Salute, arguably one of Venice’s greatest churches. Guests over the years have included just about every famous visitor who ever came to Venice, from old-school dignitaries – Churchill, de Gaulle, Bacall, Bogart, Chaplin, Garbo, Stravinsky, Somerset Maugham, Graham Greene, Elizabeth Taylor, Bing Crosby, Grace Kelly, Orson Welles – to those of more recent celebrity stamp such as Springsteen, Dylan, Pacino, Pavarotti, De Niro, Jagger, Winslet, Woody Allen, Cruise, Kidman and more. Eight years ago I also stayed in the Gritti. Last week I stayed again, but as I walked around the restored hotel with the general manager, Paolo Lorenzoni, who moved here from another great hotel, The Excelsior in Rome, it was hard to see what had changed. It seemed, as before, a beautiful 15th-century palazzo filled with beautiful things. Where had all that money gone? But as we wandered from one breathtaking suite to another, Signor Lorenzoni explained that one of the first tasks of the restoration was to make an inventory of the palace’s many hundreds of paintings, mirrors, chandeliers and other countless antiques, objets d’art and priceless pieces of furniture. The next job was to have them all restored by Venetian artisans, many of whom are the last exponents of all but vanished skills. The chandeliers were broken down into their thousands of constituent pieces and sent to the specialists Galliano Ferro on the island of
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Murano; the etched glass and handcrafted girandole and other mirrors were dispatched to Barbini, founded in 1658. Tables, lamps, chairs, bedheads and boiserie were scattered among workshops across the city. Lorenzo Rubelli, whose roots go back to 1835, dealt with the silks, velvets and damasks, providing fabrics to patterns from its archives for new upholstery, curtains and, above all, the incredibly sumptuous silk wall coverings that line virtually every completely refurbished room (there’s rarely anything as humble as mere paint in the Gritti, and where there is, it’s usually in the form of fresco and trompe l’oeil). Once the hotel had been stripped bare, the invisible work began. Italy’s strict laws (it does have some) on what can be done to historic buildings meant that none of the palace’s original superstructure could be altered. Nonetheless, doors were moved, partitions demolished and rooms reconfigured. As a result, the Gritti now has just 82 rooms, including 21 suites, down from 91 (the Danieli, by contrast, has 221), and one of the hotel’s charms – its intimacy – has been enhanced. Those same laws mean that few of the rooms or suites are large by the standards of many modern luxury hotels (by most other standards, they are huge). Bathrooms in particular, while all fully replaced and finely done, and swathed from floor to ceiling in Italian marble, are small. But what is size when your rooms and public spaces are as beautiful as the Gritti’s? The fully renovated rooms, with their returned treasures and seamlessly blended replacements, are all different and all (bar a few with a more Art Deco twist) retain the sumptuous 24 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Opening page: The view from the Gritti’s Jacuzzi terrace. Next page, top to bottom: Peggy Guggenheim suite bedroom; Canal view; Hotel entrance. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Lobby entrance; Hemingway suite; Bar Longhi; Hemingway suite bedroom. This page, top to bottom: Guggenheim suite; Hemingway suite.
period style you would expect of a 15th-century Venetian palazzo. Technology is state-of-theart but, with the exception of televisions and those wretched digital radio-alarms, carefully and artfully concealed. As for the public spaces, Signor Lorenzoni and I concluded our tour in the hotel’s bar and Club Del Doge restaurant. Even if you don’t stay in the Gritti, do eat in the Club del Doge, whose dining room is surely the most beautiful in Italy, or have a drink, either in the bar itself or on its incomparable terrace on the Grand Canal. The bar is a particular delight. It is typical of the public spaces, which are intimate, filled with fresh flowers and decorated with the same period finesse as the rooms. And with the same sorts of treasures: as you sip your refreshment in the bar you can admire three paintings by the 18th-century Venetian master Pietro Longhi. In January, a Longhi sold at Sotheby’s in
New York for US$1.3 million. At the Gritti, they’re part of the exquisite furniture. Signor Lorenzoni was too discreet to talk about anything as vulgar as money, just as he was too discreet to confirm or deny that the Gritti is where Queen Elizabeth II stays when she visits Venice, but it is clear that much of the cost of the restoration must – literally – have been sunk into the bar and the rest of the palace’s ground floor. Ground-floor properties are the cheapest in Venice and with good reason – they’re the most prone to Venice’s infamous floods. During dinner in the Club del Doge, the maître d’ told me that before the restoration the dining room could be affected by flooding up to 50 days a year, sometimes, if the wind was in the wrong direction, for 10 days in a row; and not just a few easily mopped puddles, either, but up to five feet of water. Because of the way Venetian palaces are constructed (on wooden piles, basically), water also comes up through the floor, not just through the doors. The solution in Venice is to build a vasca, or tank, a watertight membrane that not only provides a barrier against water from outside (the Gritti’s high-water threshold is now 5ft 11ins), but also extends under the entire building. All of the Gritti’s 21,500-square-foot ground floor had to be dug out to a depth of over six feet and lined with a foot-thick shield of steel, resin and concrete. That kind of hole doesn’t come cheap. But now you’d never know. The Longhis are back on the walls, the chandeliers sparkle, the marbles shine, the silks and velvets dazzle. Everything, as elsewhere in the Gritti, seems just as it was: historic, timeless and beautiful. Com’era, dov’era. May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 25
Text: Tim Jepson / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People
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Win a two-night stay at Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah
The Prize A two-night stay for two adults at the Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah, including breakfast and lunch at Breeze restaurant. To enter, email easywin@hotmediapublishing. com with your answer before May 31, 2013.
26 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Q. What is the name of the hotel’s Arabian restaurant? TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prize is valid until July 2013 and is subject to availability. It includes tax/service charges, is nontransferable and is not exchangeable for cash. Advance reservation is required.
When you feel the need to escape the frenetic pace of Dubai life, you needn’t go far to find refuge. Just 90 minutes away, on the UAE’s stunning east coast, you’ll find the serene Radisson Blu Resort, Fujairah. Framed on one side by the azure waters of the Arabian Sea, and with spectacular views of the Hajar Mountains and Dibba Rock on the other, the resort’s clean, modern design and stunning natural surroundings make it a haven of relaxation for weary city dwellers. On arrival, sink your toes into the white sands of the private, 500-metre-long beach strip or rejuvenate with a cooling dip in one of the property’s five pools. The adventurous will not be disappointed by the plethora of water sports on offer, either. Take advantage of The Palms Dive Centre – the on-site, world-class diving facility - and discover the vibrant marine life and stunning corals that thrive beneath the ocean’s calm surface. Meanwhile, for guests who prefer to keep their adventures strictly above water, there are always the hotel-organised deep-sea fishing trips to try. When evening falls, there are dining options to suit all tastes. For spectacular sea views there’s Breeze, which serves delicious buffets throughout the day. Al Nokhada offers authentic Arabian fare, from hot and cold mezzeh to mixed grills, while those looking for relaxed al fresco dining, beachside, should head to Grand Bleu. The greatest challenge is likely to be be mustering the willpower to leave.
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WheRe To STAy...
The Windy City has everything a discerning traveller could desire, including abodes to suit all tastes. KWT rounds up the best on offer...
Trump International Hotel & Tower
The W Lakeshore wchicago-lakeshore.com
The only hotel overlooking Lake Michigan, lounge on its sandy beaches or go to the iconic Navy Pier to relax for the day. Eclectically decorated, and dressed in rich, warm colours, whether you’re looking for a city destination or a relaxing beach holiday, this boutique hotel can cater to your needs.
With sweeping lake, river, and cityscape views, this 92-storey hotel is downtown Chicago’s most enviable address. Dine at its Michelin-starred restaurant Sixteen or indulge in some me time at The Spa. This five-star abode offers modern luxury with a large dash of class.
Fairmont Chicago Millennium Park
Designed by Jean-Paul Viguier, this architectural gem is one of Chicago’s finest buildings. The perfect location, the city’s best attractions are only steps away.
Lavish, sleek with contemporary decoration, book the Parkview Suite for views of the iconic Millennium and Grant Park.
This luxury hotel is the epitome of subdued elegance. Situated within the famous Magnificent Mile, and adjacent to Nordstrom, shoppers will be spoilt for choice.
Enjoy the hotel’s renowned artwork and its roaring in-room fireplaces before venturing to the plethora of museums, theatres and attractions nearby.
Sofitel Water Tower
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Discover paradise this summer at
Experience your dream holiday surrounded by crystal clear waters and a sun-drenched white beach in the Maldives This summer discover the spirit of an authentic Maldivian Holiday at Baros Maldives, an exclusive, five-star boutique resort nestled in a lush, tropical island set in shimmering, crystal clear waters. Only a four-hour flight from the GCC and a scenic 20-minute boat trip from Male’ Airport, this exquisite resort is the ideal sanctuary to escape from everyday life. Recently acclaimed as the Best Hotel in the Maldives by Trip Advisor, the hotel offers GCC travellers one of the most exceptional tropical holiday experiences - a holiday that allows visitors to enjoy the best in Maldivian exploration and relaxation, combined in one luxurious award-winning destination. Every unique experience at Baros is designed to seduce the senses into slowing down, relaxing and savouring. Shortly after touchdown at Male’ Airport, guests can be relaxing on the beach in harmony with nature and lazing in luxury and tranquil refinement. Guests can explore a range of activities such as a dhoni (local motorised sail boat) sunset cruise or a dolphin watching cruise. For those looking for a more active holiday, Baros Maldives arranges exploration of the unique and mesmerising colourful marine life exploration with a Baros Dive Instructor, as well as the discovery of stunning nearby sites during a snorkelling safari tour with a qualified Marine Biologist. With its own oval-shaped, vibrant house reef, and a number of superlative dive sites close to the
island, Baros offers an exceptional diving and snorkelling experience. When it’s time to simply unwind and let the senses be pampered, guests can indulge in a blissful private spa treatment for two and a private beach dinner under the stars. As the world’s fifth Most Romantic Hotel, a title awarded by TripAdvisor in 2013, Baros is the epitome of personalised romance and individual care and attention. This summer, Baros Maldives is offering GCC guests the Spirit of Summer package, which is available for stays between May 2013 and September 2013 as a four-night or
seven-night package. Rates for the fournight package start at US $970 per villa per night, and for the seven-night package at US $850 per villa per night, based on double occupancy. At Baros Maldives, every guest will be delighted by this haven of understated elegance, beauty, culinary delights, authenticity, and unique experiences. With the Baros signature personalised service and attention to detail, GCC guests will discover a true sense of relaxation at this luxury resort. For further information on Baros Maldives, please visit www.baros.com May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 29
NeVADA, usA Fly Geyser
You could be forgiven for thinking this multi-coloured rock formation, and its water-spouting ways, is a work of fiction. But Fly Geyser is very much real; said to be the wondrous, if accidental, result of well drilling in the early 1900s and a subsequent geothermal test in the 1960s that was not capped properly. Today, constant jets of scalding water spew from its top in different directions. Its incredible colours are a result of the calcium carbonate deposits that have built up over the decades, forming the mound and terrace-like steps that surround it. Algae thrives in such conditions and is responsible for the vibrant red and green shades. Unfortunately, the site is on private land, so a visit is out of the question. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
stockholm, sweDeN Söder Mälarstrand
For such a spectacular view of this serene and historic beach street quay, you’ll need to take to the still waters of Riddarfjärden – the easternmost bay of Lake Mälaren – at sunset. Söder Mälastrand stretches 2,200 feet along the waterfront and is framed on one side by quaint sea-faring vessels and on the other by magnificent red-brick buildings that glow in the warmth of the summer sun. One of the most impressive buildings on this skyline is the former brewery – today a conference centre. Perched above the city, the magnificent building overlooks the city and its many landmarks, including the pictureperfect old town and city hall. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
For her first trip to India, Jessamy Calkin wanted to visit one place that would capture its essence. A little-known fort in the heart of the country hit the jackpot…
n a road in Maharashtra, hurtling along in front of me, is a flatbed truck with a motorbike balanced on the back, a man sitting precariously astride it. Despite a cacophony of revving engines, hooting traffic and a dust cloud, he is talking casually on his mobile. I thought of what a friend had said: ‘You’ll like India. Funny things happen there’. I’d never been to India. And because I’d never been, the idea of going had become overwhelming. I know that everyone who travels there loves it, but they all go to different places and they all have their favourites.
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“Start with the Golden Triangle – Delhi, Agra and Jaipur.” “You must go to Goa.” “Surely you’ve heard of the Hermitage in Kerala?” “We’re going to the New Year’s Eve party at Umaid Bhawan Palace…” – and on it went. Mumbai, Gujarat, Punjab, Pondicherry. The India bores. It was apparently impossible to go to one place; if you were going all that way, it seemed, then you had to go to at least three. (Why? People go to just New York, or just Florida.) It sounded exhausting. So I continued going to Africa, which I already loved, and where I had spent part of my childhood. It seemed easier, and there was still so much of it to see. Of course going to Africa doesn’t preclude you
This page: Rupmati’s Pavilion in Mandu.
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from going to India, but somewhere in my head they were in competition. Yet I couldn’t help feeling I was missing out. And then I met James Jayasundera. He said: “Don’t be intimidated, just have the courage to go to one place. Go to Ahilya Fort in Maheshwar. It distils everything that everyone loves about India. Go there, watch the sun set over the Narmada river, and soak it up.”
A month later I board the plane to Delhi. Indira Gandhi International Airport is not what I expected – I thought it might be like Nairobi, a seething chaos, not organised and spotless with overzealous security: no one is allowed into the airport without a ticket or boarding pass. And it’s cold in Delhi: 5 degrees Celsius. I could have flown directly from there to Indore, two hours from Ahilya, but that would be dull, Jayasundera said – there were things off the beaten track that he wanted me to see. So I fly to Aurangabad in Maharashtra, in the heart of India. Sajid Khan, my driver, is waiting for me with a lovely smile and a blast of deafening Indian disco when he turns the ignition on. He speaks a little English with great confidence; we have lots of incomprehensible but entertaining chats. Aurangabad has a population of more than a million, and is one of the fastest growing cities in Asia. It’s my first glimpse of India and it’s gorgeous: everywhere so colourful, a reckless mass of unfinished buildings, barelystarted buildings, hooting, scooting – a motorbike pulls up beside us with a female passenger sitting side-saddle, casually holding her toddler like a clutch bag. It is all noisy, gaudy chaos with moments of exquisite tranquillity – a woman standing on the top-floor balcony of a purple house combing her hair in the evening sun; a man in an open-air barber’s shop with his head tipped back having a shave; schools, goats, tents by the side of the road. Plucky little auto-rickshaws, which I knew as tuk-tuks. It’s 29 degrees Celsius and the traffic is mad. I am staying in the Taj Residency, a compound of calm efficiency where barbecue dinners and delicious puddings are served in the garden. Banyan and neem trees overlook a pool with smart yellow-and-white-striped towels and a games area – Monopoly and Scrabble, a dartboard and a chess table. There are two Unesco world heritage sites on the way to Ahilya. Near Aurangabad are the Ellora caves, dating from the 6th and 8th centuries AD, and considered to be the greatest example of cave architecture in the world. They are not widely known, presumably because there’s so much else to see in India, but are unique because the site houses temples of three different religions. The caves are dug out of the Charanandri Hills, hewn out of one mountain, and sport spectacular carvings. The most amazing being the Kailashnath temple. It is twice the size of the Parthenon, and took 2,000 artists 150 years to build (AD 753-900). It has the biggest cantilever ever made – an overhang 23ft wide. How did they work that out? No computers, no plans – it is a staggering feat of engineering. Near to Ellora is Daulatabad, the most invincible fort in all of India. I read the history of it in the shade of a flame tree with a troop of monkeys playing beneath it. “Its possession was craved by most powerful dynasties ruling between 12th and 17th century AD – ownership became a May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 35
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There is one more stop. In a Sylvan setting lies another Unesco site, the Ajanta caves, some dating from 200BCE. They contain carvings and paintings that are considered masterpieces of their type, and the reason they are so well preserved is that they were abandoned in AD650, and became overgrown and forgotten. They were rediscovered by a British Army officer in 1819. Consequently the paintings were not damaged by cooking fires and the wear and tear that Ellora suffered from habitation (though some were spoilt by primitive attempts at restoration). The paintings have, however, recently deteriorated, and a replica of the caves is being built nearby with a view to closing the original. My guide, Bharat, takes me up to a platform with an overview of the caves, and we discuss the intricacies of Indian politics. Then he leaves for Aurangabad and Sajid and I head north to Burhanpur. Almost all the vehicles, apart from the cows, are made by Tata. The single-carriageway road is jammed with trucks overloaded with sugarcane and cotton, clappedout buses, cows pulling carts and families of five on one scooter. Manic, reckless overtaking, accompanied by frantic honking. The saying is that to drive in India you have to have good brakes, a good horn and good luck. (At night it’s worse. Most people have no lights.)
‘It is all noisy, gaudy chaos with moments of exquisite tranquillity’ This page, from top: Woman exploring Daulatabad Fort; A parade of Indian soldiers. Next page: Woman carrying linen, Mandu.
matter of prestige.” You can see why. The compound is 2.1 square miles, entirely self-sustaining for 10,000 people and their elephants via a huge water tank and sophisticated water system – step wells fed by a spring. The fort itself is built on a 650-feet-high conical hill surrounded by unassailable rock. It is a schoolboy’s dream: the entrance to the compound is fronted by a vast door – a foot thick and studded with sharp spikes to deter elephants. In the courtyard a false entry passage leads to a dead end; then walls, ramparts, bastions and two moats; one was filled with crocodiles. The only way across the final moat is a narrow bridge with a tunnel at the end (where a swordsman would be posted to chop off protruding heads), followed by an underground passage (Andhari – which translates as ‘dark confusion passage’) carved out of rock, 165ft-long and smelling strongly of bat excrement. Further on is a small opening for light and air, but heading for that would lead you to fall into the moat. No wonder it was invincible. Daulatabad is wondrous, and deserted apart from a few school trips enjoying its grisly charms. The only tourists are Indian, and they are very keen to take my picture. It is a memorable morning. May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 37
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But once I get used to bracing myself for impact I discover that I like nothing better than driving through the Indian countryside. We pass fields of crops – cotton, sugarcane, corn, wheat, red chillies. ‘What’s in that field?’ I ask Sajid. ‘Vegetarians,’ he says. There are oxen pulling ploughs and children leading goats on strings. Gnarly trees line the side of the road, their trunks painted with red and white stripes to denote that they are government property and to deter people from driving into them – very different to driving through parts of Africa where there are few trees left, the rest having been cut down for charcoal. (There are stiff penalties here for cutting down trees.) We reach Hotel Ambar in the one-horse town of Burhanpur on the northern banks of the Tapti at 8pm (its address is ‘Opp Bus Stand, State Highway, Burhanpur’). The owner, Hoshang Sorabji Havaldar, portly in a knitted cap, comes rushing out to meet me with a necklace of yarn, a rose that has seen better days and a warm Coke. He indicates a poster on the wall and, aided by a pointer of the type teachers use, proceeds to give me a potted history of Burhanpur. My room is a little cottage; its interior is 1970s in style: an ancient telly, a blue-and-white-tiled shower, a loo with a jug beside it for flushing. Simple and very clean. The restaurant is in the garden; no alcohol is served. My supper – noodle soup, a very garlicky naan and paneer angara, which contains local cheese – is extremely tasty and costs approximately $5. When Havaldar discovers I am [a journalist], he dismisses my guide and shows me around town himself. And what a town. It’s like taking a trip back into the past, to old India. Burhanpur is enclosed by a six-mile wall. It was the second Mughal capital, and the old town is filled with narrow streets and wooden houses with shutters; there are few cars here and we have to weave our way through the market on Quila Road. There is one street for each product: fruit, spices, textiles, rope, fish, utensils. We manage to fit in three of the 12 magnificent sites of Burhanpur. Jama Masjid is a mosque built in 1537 with an
artful ceiling and a unique characteristic: it houses Sanskrit, Arabic and Urdu script. The ruins of the Shahi Quila palace, belonging to Mumtaz Mahal, the wife of the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan (who built the Taj Mahal in her memory), are on the western bank of the Tapti; the palace has designs that influenced the Taj. We look at her beautifully decorated hammam, colours glowing on the ceiling (it was closed to the public because of an enormous beehive outside the window, but Havaldar had a word with someone). Mumtaz, much revered in these parts, died here while giving birth to her fourteenth child. She is buried at the Taj Mahal. This is a serene spot: roses have been planted, the gardens are opulent and green. We stand on the banks of the river, admiring the staircase she used to climb to mount her elephant. There are no tourists – just a few locals. It costs five rupees (9 cents) to come here if you are Indian; 100 rupees ($1.85) if you’re not. Dargah-E-Hakimi is a mausoleum in the Shia community area, a sacred pilgrimage for Dawoodi Bohra Muslims. It is immaculate and dazzling; its constantly mopped white marble floor shimmers in the sun. We take off our shoes and watch as the supplicants enter various mausoleums and pray in a circular ritual. Havaldar tells me there are about “500 houses” of the Shia community in Burhanpur; he himself is the only Parsee in town. There are attempts to make Burhanpur a world heritage site, so rich is it with treasures. In the meantime, nobody’s heard of it. Havaldar is a charming and knowledgeable host, and he wants more visitors to come to Burhanpur. I don’t. I like it as it is. Loaded up with mango juice, Sajid and I hit the road at lunchtime, hoping to make it to Ahilya by the evening. Ahilya Fort is right in the centre of the action in Maheshwar, a 4,000-year-old town in Madhya Pradesh. Ahilya is an 18th-century fort, built by Queen Ahilya Holkar, known as Ahilya Bai. The fort remained in the family until my host, Prince Richard Holkar, Ahilya Bai’s descendant, took it over in 1971. It was derelict, but he restored it and opened it as a
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This page, from top: Waiter carrying tray in ornate room; Jama Masjid mosque.
hotel in 2000 with four rooms. It now has 13, all different, including the Maharaja Tent with a little garden overlooking Ahilyeshwar temple and the river, where I am staying. One of the best features of Ahilya Fort, and there are many, is the juxtaposition of the hotel with the ghats, or river steps. On the Ahilya ghats, directly beneath the hotel, all of Indian life is conducted: washing, praying, chanting, yoga, gossiping, singing, swimming. “The Narmada is the last river in India where you can swim without any problems because there is no major urban area on the river,” Holkar says. We are on a boat heading for Baneshwar, a tiny island with a temple on it which, it is said, sits on the axis that connects the centre of the earth to the North Star. It was built by Anand Raj Parmar in the 15th century. I climb up on to the steps of the temple and take off my shoes. It is a spot, away from life on the ghats, with fine bird life – egrets and grey herons, river terns, black and white ibis, snipes and cormorants. We have tea and biscuits on the boat. Holkar’s father, Yaheshwant Rao, was the last Maharaja
‘It is a sacred spot, with fine bird life. We have tea and biscuits on the boat’
of Indore. Pictures show him to be a striking, flamboyant man, whose American second wife, Euphemia Stevenson, was Holkar’s mother. Holkar says he was “distantly close” to his father, who died when he was 17. Holkar went to the Woodstock School in the foothills of the Himalayas but moved to America aged eight and was educated at Stanford. He has two grown-up children who were raised by their nanny, Kunta Bai, who has worked for the Holkars for 30 years, and is now housekeeper – and pinnacle – of the hotel. She arranges every detail, down to the placements at dinner. The reign of Ahilya Bai of Indore lasted from 1767 to 1795, a legendary period of reformation and good governance. Ahilya is highly respected in Madhya Pradesh. Holkar chose to settle here because he loves the fort and feels happy in Maheshwar, which is, he says, a microcosm of what India wants to be, with a very well integrated population, 18 per cent Muslim. There is no artisanal industry in Maheshwar but Holkar and his then-wife Sally established the Rehwa Society in 1978 to inject life into the weaving industry. About 150 women and men work here; there is a creche for their children, and some subsidised housing for the weavers, with specially adapted high ceilings for the looms. Ahilya School is funded by profits from the weaving initiative; it has 240 children aged three to 13, and has been running for 15 years. It was closed while I was there because the government had decided it was too cold (it was, after all, about 24 degrees Celsuis). Later, we have drinks on the terrace on the battlements overlooking the river and watch the sunset over Baneshwar. Holkar is avidly interested in cooking, and is present at every meal, lively al fresco occasions taken May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 41
Holkar asked her to be his “alter ego”; she is now in charge while he is away (he spends time in Paris, where his girlfriend lives). We drift up the river, past the place where the holy men live in small chambers near the Kashi Vishwanath temple (built by Ahilya Bai in 1790, to give shelter to sadhus, itinerant holy men). We visit one later – he is on his mobile phone. When Junker first came here there were no phones. “Rajiv Gandhi was in power at the time and I remember it took him two days to get through to the White House,” she says. A man is on the ghats, another feeding the fish, an old lady performing a ritual with a candle and another man suspended in the river, doing yoga. At the small temple within the fort 11 Brahmin pandits (scholars) are performing their daily morning ritual to bless the town. It’s a form of meditation and lasts for a couple of hours. (The youngest pandit turns up for work in sunglasses and headphones.) When we return, Holkar is sitting under a tree on the terrace eating duck and a fried egg. A convivial breakfast is in full swing; it is cooked in front of us. The guests tuck into the jams Holkar makes in Paris – fig, lemon mango, apricot, guava jelly; and fresh papaya and tiny bananas from a tree that he brought from Goa. Afterwards he summons the cook, Kalyan Singh, who started at the fort as a gardener, to discuss the day’s menus. There is lots to do. We have a picnic on the riverbank, voyaging part of the way by ox cart. The road here is barely a road at all, and the cart has chic padding, which the Indians certainly don’t have; even so it is wildly uncomfortable. We pass a deserted funfair and eat under a tamarind tree watched by hordes of children, then cross the river to the village of Bakawa, which can be reached all together (though you can request a separate table). Dinner one night was “eight-hour spiced leg of lamb, lentils as prepared by the Hyderabad gipsies, okra kadhi, with baked apple for dessert”. “Don’t you get tired of all this guesting?” I ask him. “No,” he says. “Mostly people are so nice. And I like to show off my place.” His “place” is magnificent. It has great character and elegance, and like all the best hotels, is not without eccentricity. No televisions, no phones and no room service. There is a swimming-pool next to a vegetable garden, a well-stocked library and lots of places to read, shady courtyards, a table-tennis table, an internet room, and flowers everywhere. Best of all is the constant presence of life on the ghats. The relentless beating of the laundry begins at 4am, and the chanting and singing sometimes goes on late into the night, but it’s strangely soothing. Early one morning I go out on the river with Aimee Junker, who has a gentle manner and is in charge of “guest relations”. Junker arrived in India from Vermont. “I came to Delhi with one suitcase; 16 years later I left for Nepal with 50 assorted pieces of luggage, two horses and 30 polo sticks,” she tells me. There she managed a small safari lodge, until in 2011 42 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
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Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock Text: Jessamy Calkin / Telegraph Magazine / The Interview People
‘Another day I visit Mandu, a deserted Islamic city. Mandu is entrancing, peaceful and lushly green’ only by boat, an ancient village with an ancient industry – retrieving and polishing shivlings, oval-shaped stones found only in the Narmada. Another day I visit Mandu, a deserted Islamic city that gained prominence in the 10th and 11th centuries. There are baobab trees here, which I had thought were found only in Africa; later Holkar says that Mahmud Khilji’s Abyssinian cohorts brought them over as seedlings. Mandu is entrancing, peaceful and lushly green. On the way back, at the gate of Tarapur Darwaza, a little table overlooking the valley has been set up for lunch. As I am alone, it is the quietest picnic in the world. On my last evening we assemble on the terrace and descend to the ghats, where boats are waiting for us; we take off in the dark. Our boat then joins up with the other boat and they’re roped together so we’re facing each other; there are about 10 of us. Another boat full of musicians tails us, then a boat, with drinks and freshly grilled cheese cooked on board, draws alongside. Kunta Bai, in a surreal combination of sari and miner’s headlamp (to keep her hands free for herding guests), is handing out refreshments.
Holkar takes out his iPad and starts up his astrology app. We are eating peanuts soaked in coconut water and roasted, and arguing about the stars when I notice that the river is alive with hundreds of little lights. As we have just toasted Narmada I wonder if this might be her response, but it is actually a thousand candles in half-coconut shells floating busily down the river, launched earlier by a boat. We land on Rupmati’s Island – a strip of land close to the opposite bank of the river, where fires have been lit and a magnificent spread has been laid out. We eat lamb stew on plates fashioned from tendu leaves. It is a wonderful atmosphere; the last supper. Even the India bores agree that Ahilya is one of the best; as James Jayasundera said, it’s a “happy accident – no hotel chain could create something like this regardless of how much [is] spent.” My first visit to India was full of surprises: no one begged me for money, and I felt totally safe. I was prepared for its poverty but not for the accompanying grace and curiosity and radiant smiles; mostly I loved the colours, and the exhilarating feeling of momentum – that India seems to function entirely on willpower and force of spirit.
Opposite page, from top: Madhya Pradesh Khajuraho dancer; Karnataka state, Hampi, Zenara, Zana Museum. This page: Women at the basins’ edge of Jahaz Mahal Palace, Mandu.
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 43
At home on the range Pete Thompson discovers the many adrenaline-filled thrills to be had in the Wild West of Montanaâ€Ś
44 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
at home on the range | usa
n a crisp winter morning in the heart of the Wild West the ominous sound of gunshots echo around a vast valley in Montana’s Granite County. Cowboys and Indians used to do battle in these parts, but I’m in no danger of getting caught up in a stampede or a stand-off as it is me spraying the bullets. It is fair to say the likes of Butch Cassidy and Billy the Kid wouldn’t have been quaking in their cowboy boots if they were still running amok in the American state known as ‘big sky country’. The infamous outlaws might have been concerned about my suspect rifle shooting skills though, as I tried to pepper the target with guidance from instructor Theo. But there would be no afternoon duel for me – even if that were an option, the prospect of a massage followed by a snowcat (a trucksized vehicle designed to move on snow) ride before dinner was far more appealing. I might not be a cowboy in the making, but I was very much at home at The Ranch at Rock Creek – a luxury retreat spanning more than 10 square miles, which provides the perfect escape from the rigors of the real world. The Ranch was originally a mining claim in the late 1890s and owner Jim Manley struck gold when he bought the property before it hit the market in 2007. Manley dreamed of having his own ranch when he was a boy, and at the age of 33 began casting his eye over properties in Canada and the United States. He was not looking for any old ranch; he insisted the property must meet a strict criteria, which included the need for a river running through it, a ski resort nearby, no snakes and no grizzly bears. May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 45
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at home on the range | usa
Friends and family felt that was just a pipedream, but Manley stood firm and 20 years after starting his search his patience paid off when he acquired The Ranch. It was certainly worth the wait. We arrived in the dead of night, so it was not until morning, when I climbed out of the huge four-poster bed in the swanky Palomino room of Granite Lodge that I was able to take in the surroundings. I was not disappointed: the vistas of rolling hills, tall trees covered in snow and a valley that stretched as far as the eye could see were breathtaking. After tucking into a hearty breakfast, the Lodge’s huge leather sofas and roaring fire were extremely tempting, as were the cosy cabins on The Ranch (which would not have looked out of place in the Swiss Alps). But I’d not come all this way to sit inside and we were soon off into the hills for some clay pigeon shooting. Theo gave me a helping hand again, advising me to shoot left-handed rather than right, as I had done in the past. “Nice shot”, he bellowed, as I picked off several clays. Another shooting session under our belts, it was then on to the ice skating rink, where Get Rhythm, by Johnny Cash, was being blasted. No amount of great music could help me locate my rhythm on the ice, however, as one spectacular fall was followed by another. Eventually, I admitted defeat and retired for a warm drink by the fire. Keen to forget my pitiful attempt on the ice, we headed back to Granite Lodge for dinner, which included a tender grilled Montana elk strip loin. Re-fuelled, we prolonged the night with some 10-pin bowling and pool over at the Silver Dollar Saloon before I made for my bed, aware that my first attempt at cross-country skiing loomed ahead. The following morning, after another hearty breakfast, I was put through one of the sternest fitness tests I’d ever had. Encountering one hill after another, with no sign of any let up, made skiing downhill a welcome relief – until I would tumble into deep snow at the end of the run, like a leggy marathon runner stumbling over the finishing line. I passed up the opportunity to go horse riding in the afternoon, feeling I’d earned a rest in the small nearby town of Philipsburg. Philipsburg was thriving in the late 1800s, thanks to a silver mining boom. But the May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 47
‘The vistas of rolling hills, tall trees covered in snow and a valley that stretched as far as the eye could see were breathtaking’
48 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
mining business was devastated by a silver crash in 1893. Recent regeneration efforts are contributing to recapturing the buzz. After another sociable evening, I was ready for my next challenge: pistol and rifle shooting. After a thorough briefing on gun safety, I tried my luck with a pistol, missing the target time and time again, before redeeming myself with a rifle. In a bid to soothe my now aching muscles, I headed to the Swedana steam tent for an herbal Ayurvedic therapy and massage. Reinvigorated, I was soon climbing onto the back of a snowcat and heading up the hills, where refreshments awaited on a table near to a blazing fire that burned in the snow. Just when I thought the holiday couldn’t get any better, I found myself at the Discovery Ski area. I’d encountered very few people during my time in Montana and the ski area was no exception: I hurtled down blue and blacks runs, building up speed like never before on near-empty slopes. “I’ve skied all over the world and it doesn’t get any better than this.” was the verdict of Theo’s Dad – who we bumped into at the top of the slopes – and I couldn’t argue with him. It was perfect. Still on a high after my latest adrenaline rush, I was eager to sample more of the old Wild West so we headed back into Philipsburg. Despite being warned that outsiders are not always welcome, we were soon mixing with the locals – one of whom was still licking his wounds after his defeat in the local elections and bemoaning the demise of the mining industry. I got my first taste of the Wild West at Rock Creek and unless I’m back there the next time I hear the words ‘let’s go back to the ranch’, I suspect I’ll be disappointed.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Supplied Text: Pete Thompson
Opening page: Granite County sunset. Previous page, from top: Mountain biking; Horse riding; Clay shooting; Rodeo. This page, from top: Eagle’s Perch at The Ranch at Rock Creek; Master bedroom at Sara Jane’s Cottage at The Ranch at Rock Creek.
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far and malay | malaysia
Far and Malay Why go all the way to Malaysia for westernised Kuala Lumpur? Taste a blend of Chinese, Indian and Malay culture on Penang island instead, says Andrew Eames May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 51
annons don’t often have names, but the Seri Rambai, on the walls of Fort Cornwallis, is something rather special. That’s why I’m staking it out, trying to look casual as I lean on the low wall surrounding the Padang, a rectangular expanse of town green. The Strait of Malacca all but laps my back, and around the Padang’s far borders is downtown George Town. Either side of me are couples who have come out here for a touch of privacy as the sun goes down. Once Dutch, then British, the 400-year-old cannon (Seri Rambai) has since been adopted as a massive fertility symbol by local women. When I’d checked it out, early in the day, it was primed with fresh blooms. I’m on the Malaysian island of Penang, one of Southeast Asia’s best-loved holiday spots. Right now it’s experiencing a renaissance, partly thanks to the efforts of Unesco, which lists George Town as a world heritage site. Unlike Kuala Lumpur, the disappointingly westernised capital of Malaysia, where gleaming towers have taken priority over traditional architecture, George Town is knee-deep in history and intoxicatingly cosmopolitan. Penang has a knack for assimilating every passing influence, and the island remains one of the best places to dip a toe in Malay, Chinese and Indian cultural cross-currents - all that and what remains of colonial British society, which survived intact until independence in 1957. It’s not a massive outcrop – picture a chunk slightly smaller than the Isle of Wight, some 300km northwest of Kuala Lumpur, a little way south of the border with Thailand. Like most international visitors, you’ll probably arrive by air, but the peninsula of mainland Malaysia, lying serenely to the east, feeds a constant stream of local traffic by ferry or bridge. Its serenity – and simple sea crossings – helped make Penang one of the aristocrats of world tourism. Back in the early colonial years towards the turn of the 18th century, ‘Prince of Wales Island’ was a sanctuary for British government officers seeking rest and recuperation from active service. Many are buried in George Town’s [Northam Road] cemetery, having succumbed to what the gravestones describe as ‘jungle fever’ (presumably malaria, now long gone). I settle in at Penang’s international resort, Batu Ferringhi, 15km northwest of George Town, to find life reassuringly as I remember 52 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Opening page: Exterior of Kapitan Keling Mosque at sunrise on Harmony Street. This page: Trishaw. Opposite page, from top: Train to top of Penang Hill; View over George Town
it from my backpacker days, 30-odd years ago. That swathe of sand; a relaxed crop of good hotels - a dozen, maybe more - shaded by casuarina trees; the horizons of blue sea. The waters, if I’m to be honest, aren’t exactly Maldivian-clear, which helps explain why Batu Ferringhi got left behind in the global stampede for great beaches. But if you’re seeking beach and ‘something a little extra’, trust me, it remains unsurpassed. The resort is a lovely, sleepy place to while away your day: you might take a boat ride, or submit to a somnolent massage in one of the pagodas on the sands. Most visitors choose to stay by their hotel pool, among emerald lawns shaded by spreading rain trees. After
dark, though, a different show commences. The main road fizzes into life as a sprawling night market cranks into action, lined with buzzing restaurants. Curious tourists wrestle for designer fakes, filling up on delicious food for just a few pence. “We tried to do all-inclusive,” a hotel manager confided to me, “but guests would come to us after a couple of days asking to cancel. They’d seen the eating options outside.” It’s understandable. Why eat buffet staples when you can wolf down a fresh Chinese stir-fry, sizzling Malay satay or fiery Indian curry for little more than £1 (US$1.50)? Batu Ferringhi is a great first place to base yourself – and to return to – but it’s
far and malay | malaysia
â€˜That swathe of sand; a relaxed crop of good hotels - a dozen, maybe more - shaded by casuarina trees; the horizons of blue sea...â€™
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 53
‘George Town is a captivating, camera-friendly place for a day’s wandering, exchanging pleasantries with traders, mostly Chinese, and inhaling the exotic appeal of shophouses’
54 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
far and malay | malaysia
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 55
Previous page: The Floating Mosque, George Town. This page: A Chinese door in colonial George Town. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Char koew tiau; Satay penang; A woman selling fresh vegetables at a market.
56 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
only the start of the story. I was keen to immerse myself in the big cultural attraction, downtown George Town, 30 minutes away in an air-conditioned bus. Streets named Codrington or Brown ooze old-time atmosphere, sprinkled with Colonial-style ‘bungalows’ that turn out to be elegant, airy two-storey houses, some now jazzed up as good-looking boutique hotels and guesthouses. At its heart, according to the Unesco blurb, George Town is ‘one of the most complete surviving historic city centres on the Straits of Malacca’. That translates as a captivating, camera-friendly place for a day’s wandering, exchanging pleasantries with small traders, mostly Chinese, and inhaling the exotic appeal of shophouses. Laid out in rows, each centres on a tiled patio framed by battered pillars encrusted with the name of the family business in Chinese script. On the patio is a
plastic stool for grandpa, who once owned the business, to keep an eye on things, and a rusty Honda scooter, the equivalent of the company car. Inside, the dim interiors are lined with cabinets, glass cases and a tasselled red lamp above the entrance. Come in the morning and you’ll detect the lingering smell of ash – the owners burn paper money to bring prosperity. In the evening, the front shutters get pulled half-way across, and the family sits around the table inside, TV on, the children doing their homework. Are they open? “Of course we are.” Someone in a vest gets up. “If you want to buy something, of course we are open.” Along the road there’ll be a Chinese temple, with ceramic dragons marching along the ridge of the roof, gnashing their teeth. And presently, as you amble, you should find, as I did, elaborately decorated clan houses for the Khoos, the Tans, and so on, still-functioning social and
far and malay | malaysia
ceremonial centres for the dynasties who helped make Penang a great trade centre. Much of the city’s Chinese shophouseowning population arrived in the mid-19th century, having left their villages in Fujian province. Some were too poor to afford houses in town, so they made their own communities on stilted jetties over the water. A couple of these clan jetties still survive, in a kind of no-man’s-land between sea and shore. Chew Jetty is the most prosperous, starting with its own temple, and proceeding through mazy lanes and overhangs, past a homestay, to an emphatic sign at the end: ‘Cannot fishing’. (I’ve never caught a Cannot.) Life is becoming more sophisticated: in shophouses around Chulia Street, several old backpacker haunts are being converted into boutique hotels, and the gentrification is slowly spreading. At China House, on Beach Street, many properties have been stripped back and conjoined. The result is a trendy cake-shopcum-exhibition-space-cum-theatre-cum-bar. It’s a rendezvous for smart young Penangites, many back from educations overseas. I get talking to Joe Sidek, a Malay who’s director of the George Town Festival, an eclectic arts shindig in its third year. Garrulous and charming, he’s full of praise for the broadmindedness of his home town. “This is the only place in Malaysia I’d have the freedom to do what I do, without an insistence on a high percentage of the home-grown.” Not that you have to go far to find the indigenous, I discover, as I wander from China House. Within shouting distance is the town’s oldest Chinese temple, the Kong Hock Keong, a dusty, relatively unornamented place dating from 1728. Here, the following night, I hear Chinese opera, which sounds to my untrained ear like an argument set to music. There’s no audience in front of the stage (a temporary one for the opera’s two-night run), just passers-by like me. This is Chinese culture – “purer than in China,” an official tells me. “In China, the Cultural Revolution has long since swept this sort of thing away.” Directly opposite is another riot of bygone culture: Little India, a tight huddle of streets crammed with sari shops and flower garlands. In the warm air I wander among blazes of saffron and orange, inhaling heady aromas of sandalwood and garam masala. Indians began arriving in significant numbers
during the colonial era, at much the same time as the Chinese. Many were encouraged to settle by plantation owners who needed cheap labour. Others were soldiers in the British army or clerical staff within the colonial administration, both of which had a big presence on Penang. I rub shoulders with some of their descendants in Little India’s Sri Mahamariamman temple, the oldest Hindu temple in town, which is having its bellringing, oboe-wailing, drum-banging moment of the day, and I notice a Chinese worshipper amongst the faithful, representing the crossfertilisation of cultures. There are more Chinese in Little India’s
restaurant Daun Pisang, tucking into fish curry, mutton curry, channa fry (chickpeas) and aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower) - a feast for just a few pounds. Strangely, the only cultural presence lacking in George Town is Malay. Back at my Batu Ferringhi hotel, I ask why, and am given instructions for the following day: with a rented bicycle, I turn right rather than left out of the gates, and head into rural Penang. Away from the capital, along the island’s north coast, I find a different place altogether. There are monkeys on the telegraph wires, emerald doves in the trees and hairy red rambutan fruit on the roadside
‘We tried to do all-inclusive but guests would later cancel. They’d seen the eating options outside’
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 57
far and malay | malaysia
stalls. In the fishing village of Teluk Bahang, the boats have returned after a night at sea, and are clustered like barnacles along a long rambling jetty. On some, the Malay crew are sorting piles of pomfret fish according to size, ready for market. On others they’re asleep in hammocks. “You should have come early in the morning if you wanted to see action,” I’m told. Never mind. From Teluk Bahang, a forest walk leads out to a fine beach with a breeding station for green ridley turtles. I make a mental note to return another day. For now, the mountain road round to the remoter west coast awaits. The pedalling ascent is particularly gruelling in the heat, up through towering merawan trees; past Chinese oaks and bamboo stands; under branches heavy with durian and jackfruit. I stop for a swim below the waterfall at Air Terjun Titi Kerawang, just over the summit, sharing the pool with a pair of butterflies and a Malay couple with two young children. It is “dingin” – chilly – they keep telling me. In fact, it’s delightfully cool. It doesn’t take long to warm up again, whizzing down the other side and into kampung (Malay village) territory. I’m in a land of rootling chickens, nutmeg plantations, sarongs on the line, tables in the shade, and young Malays in prayer caps setting off for the local mosque on their mopeds. Here, the Mubbah restaurant on the sleepy main street in Balik Pulau is run by welcoming Malay matriarchs in hijabs. Stomach rumbles remind me I haven’t had lunch, so I order chicken soup, shellfish in coconut and ikan bilis – dried fish and peanuts – with as much rice as I can shove down. The bill comes to just under £2 ($3). I liked the look of the beef curry, too, but I had a hill to climb, and a waterfall pool to plunge back into. So I sit in Mubbah contemplating the foodie spread, the forest ride, the lazy sands of Batu Ferringhi and the kaleidoscope of downtown George Town. All in all, it had been a [great] feast. May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 59
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Supplied Text: Andrew Eames / The Sunday Times Travel magazine
This page: Line of decorated bicycle rickshaws.
With the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics following two years later, Rio is about to step onto the international stage. This is your chance to get in before the crowds. Here’s your inside guide to the ‘Marvellous City’. Shun the tourists and live it up like a Carioca, says Will Donnelly.
60 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Rio con bRio | bRazil
eople make cities, and it is Cariocas, as the inhabitants of Rio are known, who make Rio. Spectacular setting aside, the images the Brazilian city conjures are of its people – exuberant and unusually attractive football fans, costumed Carnival dancers, tanned figures trailing along gorgeous beaches... Famously good-looking, Cariocas are party people: chilled, spontaneous and fun-loving. With a shrug and a smile, they take pleasure in pleasure, whether it’s lunch with friends, an afternoon at the beach or an evening of samba. There is a gritty underside to Rio, of course, in the favelas. But even here, there’s an extraordinary energy, a brazen commitment to living large.
To Cariocas, Rio is the most beautiful, most vibrant, most fun city on Earth. It is, because they have made it so. When asked to explain the hard-working, stressed lifestyle of São Paulo, Brazil’s other metropolis, Cariocas shrug. The answer is simple: São Paulo doesn’t have a beach; Rio has beaches to die for. Separated only by the rocky Arpoador promontory, Copacabana and Ipanema (with their two further extensions of Leme and Leblon) roll out more than six kilometres of wide, golden sands in the heart of the city. Every day, Cariocas take to these fabulous stretches to sunbathe, to shoot the breeze, to play games – and to admire one another. A bad day at the beach, Cariocas say, is better than a good day at the office.
This page: Cable car going to top of Sugarloaf mountain. Next page, clockwise from top left: Stairway Selaron; Copacabana Palace; Copacabana beach; Carnival parade at the Sambadrome; Niterói Contemporary Art Museum.
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 61
Rio con bRio | bRazil
The beaches themselves are divided informally into sections, identified by postos (marker posts) every 600 metres or so: 1 to 6 are on Copacabana, and 7 to 12 carry on down the length of Ipanema. Where you go depends on who you are. Postos 3 and 4 attract foreigners as they are near the hotels of Copacabana. 1, 7, 11 and 12 are family-oriented – there is even a toddler zone between 11 and 12 with play areas. Posto 9 is the hippest location for trendy young things. Posto 10 is big on sports - volleyball, football and the ping-pong-like frescobol. Posto 11 is Muscle Beach, with body builders. Rio has other beaches of course: beyond the Dois Irmãos peaks, a string of beauties run westward through the suburbs into tropical countryside. São Conrado is a fashionable
outpost in a wealthy enclave. The Praia da Barra da Tijuca and its continuation, the Praia do Recreio dos Bandeirantes, yield 16 kilometres of gorgeous sands where kite surfing is big. Beaches such as Prainha and Grumari back onto rainforests, and on weekdays are virtually deserted. Some of these beaches are great surf spots, and a useful Surf Bus (www.surfbus.com.br) runs every day from the Largo do Machado metro station as far as Prainha. There are a few things you should know about Rio beach etiquette, though. First up, only tourists swim; Cariocas paddle a bit but the waves are big and no one wants to return to their friends sandy, soaking and dishevelled. Don’t bring a beach towel: bring a kanga or sarong if you want to lie on the
sand, or rent one of the chairs or loungers. A fat novel marks you out as a stranger, or possibly a weirdo. Cariocas come to the beach to socialise – they can read at home. Services all come to you courtesy of the beach vendors: chair and umbrella rental, sodas, coconut juice, ice cream and snacks ranging from grilled meat to deep-fried pastries. There are masseurs, yoga teachers, palm readers, surf instructors, sand sculptors and, of course, endless games of football and volleyball. On Sundays, the grand avenue that runs the length of Copacabana and Ipanema – Avenida Atlantica – is closed, allowing cyclists, skateboarders, in-line skaters, dog walkers and families the run of all six lanes. Rio’s most appealing neighbourhood is leafy Santa Teresa, all graceful 19th-century
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 63
mansions, cobbled streets, corner cafes, with a bohemian artistic vibe; the perfect place for an afternoon stroll. Start in Largo dos Guimarães, the heart of the neighbourhood, lined with cafes, restaurants and boutiques. Don’t miss the Parque das Ruinas, a mansion that once belonged to the Brazilian heiress and feminist Laurinda Santos Lobo. The grounds have a cultural centre, a cafe, and splendid city views, while the ground floor houses exhibitions. And make time for one of Rio’s best museums, the Museu Chácara do Céu. It has a fine collection of paintings, including some fascinating early views of the city. For a traditional local lunch order a feijoada 64 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
– a black-bean stew served with [beef] and rice – in Bar do Mineiro, still the haunt of artists and intellectuals (Rua Paschoal Carlos Magno 99; feijoada for four from about £20, or $30). Most Cariocas start an evening at botecos or botequins – Rio’s traditional watering holes: small and characterful with tiled walls, ceiling fans, a television in the corner, a casual vibe and a local identity. All botequins serve petiscos, a kind of Brazilian tapas or finger food, from sardinhas assadas (charcoal-
grilled sardines), to frango a passarinho (fried chicken bits). One of the best is in Leblon: Jobi has been at the same spot for more than 50 years. Try a plate of purê de abóbora com carne seca (mashed pumpkin with jerk meat), or go for the gorgeous, flaky empanadas. Like smart gastro-pubs, botequins these days are moving into more serious culinary territory. A great example is Aconchego Carioca, in the unassuming northern neighbourhood of Praça da Bandeira, where chef Katia Barbosa
Rio con bRio | bRazil
is reinterpreting a range of classic dishes in a more stylish upmarket joint. In Botafogo, look for Joaquina, where tables spill outside onto the terrace. It has a great menu (try the shrimp and asparagus risotto for £12 [$18]), while keeping an informal feel. There are a number of small chains of excellent botequins: look for Belmonte, Informal Botequim and Devassa. When it’s time to boogie, Cariocas head for Lapa, the beating heart of Rio’s nightlife. After decades of decline, the city’s oldest barrio
has reinvented itself with a raft of trendy new establishments opening in old 19th-century mansions. Come the weekend, Lapa turns into one great big street party. At its centre are the Arcos da Lapa, the tall arches of the viaduct that carries elevated trams up to Santa Teresa (now mainly ferrying tourists). Beneath them, stalls jostle for space, selling everything from pastéis (deep-fried pastries) to cheap local beverages, as the crowds fan out into the surrounding streets. The clubs offer the full range of Brazilian
music: samba, forró and choro, as well as the new sounds of baile funk. For those who want it, there is even hip-hop, techno, reggae and rock to choose from. Lapa’s most famous venue is Rio Scenarium, a rambling former mansion full of quirky antiques. Now firmly on the tourist trail, it’s still popular and is a good place to start. The live music is chiefly samba and choro. For more locals, head for Carioca da Gema and Café Sacrilégio - both great clubs with good music. Lapa 40° has four floors of fun with a botequin, lounge, pool hall - and some of the best forró and samba bands in Rio. It’s love at first sight for most visitors when they glimpse [the city] through the aeroplane window: blue bays and green mountains frame a city tumbling among conical hills towards golden beaches. (Even Cariocas say that first glimpse of home is heart-stopping.) To recreate that moment you need to leap off the top of Pedra Bonita, one of the highest mountains above the city. It is probably best to be strapped firmly to a hang-glider and its pilot at the time. In order to show the folks back home how insane Rio has made you, a May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 65
Rio con bRio | bRazil
camera attached to the wing takes pictures of you plummeting earthward. Depending on winds and the weather, the ‘flight’ takes between 10 and 30 minutes, ending with a soft landing on São Conrado beach. For sensible types, who feel a little queasy about jumping off a mountain, there is always Corcovado, the city’s emblematic Christ the Redeemer statue, arms outstretched as if trying to hug the whole glorious panorama to his chest. Cariocas come to the viewing platforms around its base for celebrations, for pictures, or just for a reminder of how beautiful Rio is. The easiest way to get there is by taxi. There is also a cog train that you can catch from the Estação Cosme Velho at Rua Cosme Velho. Cog trains run every half hour from 8.30am to 7pm. Or try the walk: there are good trails that start at the Parque Lage at Rua Jardim Botânico, or you can follow the road, on foot or by bike, from Santa Teresa. The viewing platforms are open daily from 9am to 7pm. At every World Cup, Brazilian football fans
become the envy of the world. The ranks of tattooed Neanderthals common in Europe are miraculously replaced in the Brazilian stands by gorgeous [fans] partying in fetching team colours. They are passionate without being angry: They have come to have fun, no matter who wins (although it helps, of course, that Brazil almost always wins). Rio’s football passions reach their fullest expression at the colossal Maracanã, home to the city’s four clubs – Flamengo, Fluminense, Botafogo and Vasco. The stadium has been under renovation but is due to re-open any day now. There are tours of the stadium, including the Walk of Fame. Should you want to make a fool of yourself having a kickabout with the locals, head for the public pitches at the southeast corner of the Lagoa or Lagoon, just behind Ipanema, or even further round the shores beyond the Piraquê Naval Club. Alternatively, posto 4 on Copacabana beach is a good place to get a decent game. They used to warn tourists to avoid Rio’s favelas or shanty towns, where about a fifth of
Previous page: Tijuca National Park. This page: Hang gliding from the Pedra Bonita in Tijuca National Park.
Cariocas live; now favelas have become tourist attractions (albeit educational ones). In the company of a local guide, visitors are perfectly safe. Try to use a tour company run by favela inhabitants; a good bet is the long-running Favela Tour (www.favelatour.com.br), which runs three-hour tours, including hotel pick-up. Some of their profits go to support a school that is part of the tour. These days you can even stay the night in a favela. Check out www.favelinha.com for bookings at the Pousada Favelinha in Laranjeiras. In Tavares Bastos – a favela that is now considered safer than Ipanema – try The Maze Inn, a rambling old villa run by a Londoner married to a Brazilian. The live jazz
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 67
â€˜A bad day at the beach, Cariocas say, is better than a good day at the officeâ€™
This page: Ipanema beach from the air. Opposite page, from top: Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro with the Dos Hermanos mountain in the background; Copacabana beach. 68 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock Text: Mark Harris / The Independent / The Interview People
nights (we’re getting to that) and sunrise views of Sugar Loaf add to the thrill. Rio’s nightlife doesn’t need to be sweaty and frenetic. Jazz is a great way to have a sitdown while at the same time scaring away the under-25s. Latin jazz has its own melodic vibe and plenty of complex rhythm, including the syncopated beats of bossa nova. For romantic candlelit evenings with the possibility of conversation, head to Leblon for Bar do Tom; the Tom refers to the late Tom Jobin, one of the composers of The Girl from Ipanema. High-quality performances are given by many prominent names. The most unusual venue in the city is Jazz at the Maze Inn. The views are fabulous, the music top-rate and the vibe chilled and friendly. For a quieter night, a real winner is Bip Bip, a tiny [spot] in Copacabana, just a block from the ocean. Most evenings, a small group of musicians ‘sit in’ - and perform an acoustic jam round the various styles of Carioca music, from samba to bossa nova to chorinho. It doesn’t get any more laid-back than this – and there isn’t a tourist in sight.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock Text: Sunday Times Travel Magazine
Rio con bRio | bRazil
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 69
ConCierge | opener
oSlo | amSTerdam| bueNoS aIreS | parIS
the 30-second concierge
domINIc gorham, The ThIeF hoTel, oSlo
Set in Oslo’s vibrant seafront district, Tjuvholmen, this luxury hotel is perfect for art lovers... Stay at The Thief because... it offers the best in Scandinavian design and comfort as well as local and international art. The surrounding area also has some of the city’s best art, restaurants and cultural outlets.
Museum, next door. Dog A is a meeting place for design and architecture, while Frogner Park is beautiful and Vulkan, the city’s historical centre, represents the city’s past, present and future.
For the best photos of the city... head to The Thief’s rooftop. Outside the hotel, try: Akershus Festning, the fortress that protects the city; Holmenkollen Ski Jump; or Tjuvholmen Icon Tower.
For an unusual souvenir... I suggest traditional Norwegian long wool socks or a Thief Toncho, a locally designed poncho/woollen rug.
For a taste of Norway... head to The Thief’s Fru K – a spin on classic Norwegian cuisine with a strong focus on local and organic ingredients. Or try two Michelin-starred Maaemo – we’ll do our best to get you in. If you’re exploring the district... I recommend Astrup Fearnley
If you want a day at The Thief... Enjoy breakfast at Fru K, before a stroll around the harbour. Return for high tea before indulging in an in-room spa treatment. Dine at Fru K then take in the sea air from your balcony. For something different... find out about the Oslo Escape Routes – a perfect way to discover hidden gems that only the locals know about. May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 71
AMSTERDAM | nEThERlAnDS visit
With its impressive architecture and famous canal ring, it is not difficult to understand why the Dutch capital is known as ‘the Venice of the North’, says Grace Hyne.
ith Amsterdam celebrating several momentous anniversaries in 2013, there has never been a better time to discover why it remains among Europe’s most popular city destinations. Too often associated with low-end tourism, Amsterdam has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a 13th-century fishing village. Today, a vibrant city, it offers plenty to amuse the more discerning traveller too. Among its most famous features are its 165 canals, which celebrate their 400th birthday this year. Head to its incredible waterways to be part of the festivities, which include art, concerts, festivals and special exhibitions. There’s also the opportunity to find out how this worldfamous canal ring (a Unesco world heritage site) inspired Peter the Great to found the city of St Petersburg: take a visit to the Hermitage Amsterdam,
an exhibition centre on the banks of the Amstel River, for a presentation entitled Peter the Great. And for inspiring music in a spectacular location, The Concertgebouw takes some beating. Considered one of the world’s finest concert halls, thanks to its acclaimed acoustics, it too celebrates its 125th anniversary this year with a special jubilee programme, which focuses on a different period of the hall’s rich history every month. There’s great news for art lovers, too: the Rijksmuseum reopened last month following extensive renovations. Among the highlights of the newlook museum – which is the country’s largest, set over 1.5km – remains Rembrandt’s The Night Watch, which still hangs in its original place. Check out the new-look Van Gogh museum too, which has just reopened and is celebrating its 40th birthday.
May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 73
AmsterdAm’s best… mArkets 4 10
De Wallen 13 3
14 7 19 16
Noordermarkt is a flea market located in the hip Jordaan neighbourhood offering a mix of antique goods and handmade crafts. It’s very popular, so make sure to get there early in the morning for unhindered shopping.
Opposite page, from top: Rijksmuseum facade; Tulips in Keukenhof Gardens; View of Amsterdam canals with bridge and typical Dutch houses. This page: Old bicycles and a canal view.
mUst-dOs If you’re new to the city, there is no better way to discover its countless attractions than with a canal tour. Among the main waterways are Prinsengracht (1), Keizersgracht (2), Herengracht (3) and Jordaan (4). Lined by trees and gabled canal houses, Prinsengracht is among the city’s most attractive canals: stop off to visit the Westerkerk (5), or Western Church - the view from its tower is breathtaking. For those wanting to stay on dry land, the city is made for cycling and there are plenty of tours to choose from. Amsterdam is brimming with world-class museums and galleries: head to the museumplein (6), in the heart of the Museum Quarter, to find its most impressive offerings. There you will find the Van Gogh museum (7), which chronicles the artist’s life and has the most extensive collection of his works. Prepare to be overwhelmed by the size and quality of offerings at the rijksmuseum (8): 80 halls hold 8,000 items narrating the story of 800 years of Dutch art and history, including Rembrandt’s The Night Watch. And for fans of modern art, there is stedelijk museum Amsterdam (9), home to impressive 20thcentury works: from Picasso to Chagall. Art isn’t the only beauty to behold in this city, though. The tulips of Amsterdam have inspired artists and musicians for generations: head to the Amsterdam Tulip museum (10) 74 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
Boerenmarkt is one of Amsterdam’s biggest organic farmers’ markets. From seasonal fruits and vegetables, meats and cheeses, to freshly-baked breads, pastries, organic olive oils and fragrant pestos, it’s definitely a foodie’s paradise. spui art market is a weekly open-air gallery showcasing the works of up to 25 artists: from oil and watercolour works through to photography, sculpture and jewellery. This hub of creativity is not to be missed.
to find out more, or, if you visit in early May, take a tour to the Keukenhof Gardens (11), located just out of town, and cycle through tulip fields. Back in the city, follow the crowds to Vondelpark (12), the largest green space in the city. A cultural hub – complete with a cinema, Picasso sculpture and entertainers – it’s the perfect place to picnic and people watch. For quieter environs, there is Beginhof (11), Amsterdam’s secret garden, or Artis Zoo (12), which is in bloom this year: to celebrate its 175th birthday it is planting hundreds of thousands of new bulbs. The city-centre zoo boasts 19th century architecture and more than 900 species of animals. Music lovers will fall head-over-heels for the Concertgebouw (13). Its incredible acoustics are worldrenowned, as is its spellbinding Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra (also 125 this year). Alternatively, find some of the best Dutch cabaret artists, touring operas, and plays at the Koninklijk Theater Carré (14). And if you don’t want to go home empty-handed, head to high-end department store de Bijenkorf (15) on dam square (16) – look out for creations by Dutch designer Bas Kosters.
WHere tO stAY Conservatorium Hotel (19) (conservatoriumhotel.com) is in the heart of the museum square, with unrivalled access to the capital’s cultural destinations. Formerly a music conservatorium, the hotel is a mix of modernism and contemporary chic. de L’europe Hotel (20) (leurope.nl) is regally decorated, with three-tiered glass chandeliers and famous artwork of Dutch masters. Referred to as the ‘royal palace of Amsterdam’, it boasts beautiful views of the Amstel river. And its restaurant Bord’Eau is Michelin-starred.
WHere tO eAt Beddington’s (17) (beddington.nl) creates fusion cuisine inspired by countries worldwide, from Italy to Japan. Bursting with flavour and innovatively presented, the restaurant’s everchanging menu is a favourite with foodies. de Kas (18) (restaurantdekas.nl) is set in a beautifully renovated greenhouse. With ingredients sourced from the surrounding vegetable and herb gardens at sunrise every day, its Mediterranean cuisine is exquisitely fresh and delicious.
If the energy of the ever-popular Argentinian capital doesn’t get you, then the rhythm of its incredible tango dancers certainly will…
t’s a city where people are as likely to be dancing down the street as walking, where museums are open all night long and streets are filled with magnificent architecture, art and theatrical performances. It is little wonder then, that Buenos Aires is the most popular destination in South America. For an authentic and unforgettable introduction to the city, head to the Feria de Mataderos: Sunday street fairs are an institution in this city and they don’t get much livelier, or more fun, than this one. To a soundtrack of tango and traditional gaucho music, the air thick with the aroma of burning wood and grilled meats, crowds bustle in 76 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
and out of cafes and market stalls – some in traditional costume – all ready and willing to teach you traditional and tango dance moves, if you feel so inclined. Unearthing the city’s rich history is easy, and just as fun: descend into the underground tunnels of El Zanjón de Granados for a unique insight into Buenos Aires’ 500year history; or head to the vast Palermo neighbourhood for world-class museums, urban parks and more besides. The city is unlikely to disappoint art lovers too: visit Caminito, an open-air museum, to view beautiful art works under sunny skies, or, for timeless classics, head to the National
Museum of Fine Arts – home to everything from Rembrandt to Manet. Even the cemeteries in this city are works of art: in the upmarket Recoleta neighbourhood you’ll find the resting place of countless notables, a vast expanse filled with architectural beauty. Those looking for retail therapy won’t need to look far either: designer boutiques line Avenida Alvear and the city abounds with festive outdoor markets, lively boutiques and cafes. When night falls, admire the new city skyline at Puerto Madero, a swanky regenerated part of town where the streets pay homage to outstanding Argentinian women, or discover the beauty of tango.
Buenos aires | argentina
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock
MUst-Dos Located in northern Buenos Aires, the sub-districts of Palermo (1) (and the wealth of attractions they host) make it the perfect starting point for curious visitors. Budding photographers will love Carlos Thays Botanical Garden (2), 18 acres of park with more than 5,000 plant species, trickling brooks and beautiful statues. The nearby Museum of Latin American Art of Buenos Aires (3) is an essential stop for art aficionados, with more than 200 20th-century classics, from Frida Kahlo to Diego Rivera. For more exotic tastes, there’s the Xul solar Museum (4): built in the Argentinian artist’s former apartment, it houses most of his art – which features mystic worlds and alternate universes. Buenos Aires Zoo (5), home to the albino tiger and black howler monkey, is an historical monument in its own right, with architecture dating back to its opening in 1874. Those seeking a more energetic Argentinian experience should hot-foot it over to Fería De Mataderos (6) on a Sunday, where market stalls are overflowing with tasty treats, colourful crafts and costumed tango dancers who compete in vibrant dance-offs. Shop at Galerias Pacifico (7), an upmarket mall on Avenida Cordoba (8), or take a cultural tour of the recoleta cemetery (9), filled with statues and marble sarcophagi honouring late presidents, military heroes and influential politicians. Keep your eyes peeled for Eva Perón’s grave, an ornate resting place for the First lady of Argentina. Literary and architecture lovers alike should head to the Al Ateneo (10), one of the best bookshops in the city. The building first opened as a theatre in 1919 and features beautiful Italian frescoes and
sculptures. While New York has Times Square and London has Picadilly Circus, Buenos Aires has Punto obelisco (11). Built around its iconic monument, el obelisco (12), this is the city’s entertainment hub. Finally, don’t leave the city without visiting el Zanjón de Granados (13), in the historic san Telmo district (14). Explore the 200-year-old mansion that leads to a series of underground tunnels believed to be the site of the first Buenos Aires settlement in 1536.
WHeRe to staY Panamericano Buenos Aires Hotel (15) (panamericano. us) offers breathtaking city views and is the perfect base from which to explore the city. Situated in front of the Obelisk and the Colon Theatre, the luxurious Galerias Pacific shopping mall is a stroll away.
WHeRe to eat
Astrid and Gastón (17) (astridygaston.com) was voted one of the world’s 50 best restaurants in 2012. Located in Palermo, renowned chef Gastón Acurio serves up Peru-meetsinternational, mouthwatering haute cuisine in a magnificent 1920s French-style mansion.
señor Tango An outrageous extravaganza, with dozens of performers and horses set in a magnificent 1900s building, this tango has charmed the likes of Sting and Bill Clinton. Truly unforgettable.
Casa Cruz (18) (casacruzrestaurant.com) creates urban Argentinian cooking in sumptuous environs and is a favourite of visiting celebrities. After an exemplary dining experience, people-watch in its banquette lounge area.
Club Atlético Fernández Fierro (el CAFF) The popular 12-piece Orquesta Típica Fernández Fierro perform here every Wednesday - filling the warehouseturned-music-club with a zealous crowd and incredible, rock-inspired tango. Catch it if you can. Complejo Tango Want to try tango? Head to Balvanera district for this unique dancing experience. It begins with a free one-hour lesson, followed by a tasty dinner and a chance to see the professionals in action.
Alvear Palace Hotel (16) (alvearpalace.com) is a grand historical building located in the ritzy Recoleta area. With magnificent architecture, regal decor, and a butler on hand to cater to your every desire, you’ll feel just like royalty.
3 9 16
4 8 Almagro
Torre de Los Ingleses
10 15 11 12
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: El Obelisco, on Avenida 9 de Julio; Landmark corner of Caminito Street; Colourful La Boca; Crowded city street at a weekend market. This page: A pair of tango dancers performing. May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller 77
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four SeaSonS hoTel GeorGe V pariS penThouSe, france
With six terraces offering panoramic views of the city, this luxurious penthouse is the picture-perfect base from which to experience the City of Light. Designed as a real Parisian pied-Ă -terre, enjoy a romantic al fresco candlelit dinner in its winter garden, draped in floral fabric and separated from the living room by a charming wrought iron door. Take in magnificent views of the cityâ€™s most iconic sights, from the shimmering Eiffel Tower to the Pantheon and the Invalides. For an even more intimate viewing spot, head to the upper balcony. 80 May 2013 Kanoo World Traveller
The interior of the penthouse, designed by Pierre Yves Rochon, offers plenty more reasons to coo. The open and elegant space has been sumptuously dressed by the finest luxury houses, from Baccarat glassware to fabric by Lelievre. And then there is the resplendent marble bathroom, decorated with orchids and featuring a grand overflow bath fitted with jets and a chromotherapy system. After a busy morning in the city, sink into the four-poster daybed for a quick snooze. Parisian style at its finest. fourseasons.com/paris