THE MIDDLE EASTâ€™S BIGGEST TRAVEL MAGAZINE
Produced in International Media Production Zone
Why the bright and breezy isle is in the mood to party
Seriously swish suites, right here in the GCC
The Great Escape
Where to jet off to this Eid
How Krakow is topping the city break stakes
Culinary adventures across southeast Asia
Walking on ice in the last great wilderness
A st at ay i De n t sr he oc S he ey s I ch sla ell nd es
Armani Hotel Dubai +971 4 888 3888 or email email@example.com Armani Hotel Milan +39 02 8883 8888 or email firstname.lastname@example.org armanihotels.com
KaNOO WOrld TravEllEr OCTOBeR 2012
CONTENTS TRAveL BITeS 05 check in
The latest resorts, revamps and mustsee exhibitions for the month ahead
Win a standout stay in the beautiful Seychelles, courtesy of Desroches Island
13 Where to stay
Seeking digs in Denver? Map your way to your perfect hotel here...
22 picture this
Broccoli-headed islets and red-hued watering holes to make you look twice
27 best suites in the gcc
Why leave the region with hotel rooms like these? KWT spotlights the best boudoirs around...
70 visit: shanghai
A heady mix of capitalism and tradition awaits in China’s enticing city
72 visit: Wellington
Surf the waves, peruse the art scene and discover the Kiwi culture of New Zealand
76 suite dreams
Room with a view: where to admire the Big Apple in all its glory
FeATuReS 36 norWay Mark Rowe braves chilly climes and polar bears in stunning Spitsbergen
Kate Derham munches her way round the tastiest leg of southeast Asia
Yet to visit Krakow? KWT digs up its best-kept treasures for travellers
For bright, breezy beach life few destinations trump this sunny island
Azerbaijan is a bountiful capital with plenty to see – just ask Mark Leftly...
Polar Bear, Managing Director: Victoria Hazell-Thatcher Svalbard, Norway. Publishing Director: John Thatcher Paul Souders, Corbis Images. Advertisement Director: Chris Capstick
Group editor: Laura Binder
Production Manager: Haneef Abdul
Senior Advertisement Manager:
Sub editor: Hazel Plush
+971 4 369 0917
Designers: Adam Sneade, Vanessa Arnaud
+971 4 446 1558
Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in Kanoo World Traveller.
Jun-Dec 2011 23,120 BPA Consumer Audit Produced by: HOT Media Publishing FZ LLC
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 3
CheCk in | news
BE INformEd, BE INspIrEd, BE THErE
Montigo ResoRts nongsa This Singapore retreat’s soft opening gives guests a chance to experience the first in a series of five-star outposts from the hotel brand. KWT takes a look… The Chinese whispers have stopped: Singapore’s new, hotlyanticipated family resort brand sent ripples of curiosity through the north-east shores of Batam Island – and now we can see what the luxe outpost has to offer. Managing director of KOP Hotels & Resorts, Richard van Batenburg told KWT: “Montigo is a product of four years of hard work, creative conceptualisation and development. We are excited that the resort is now open to welcome guests.” At first glance it’s difficult not to feel satisfied by its island-style aesthetics: 88 villas (each of which has two bedrooms, with many harbouring private plunge pools) stretch across 12 hectares and each
bestows spectacular sea views. in fact, even reaching the island is an experience – a 30-minute boat ride from Singapore (so you can add a city weekend to your trip) via the resort’s private yacht. If it’s relaxation you’re after, Batenburg’s advice is to make for the resort’s standout spa (we’re told regional rituals and therapies are a speciality), while we say take advantage of the inky ocean before you: fishing trips, private cruises and water sports are all on tap. And though the resort’s beach, lawn and dining outposts make it all too easy to simply sit back and relax, active guests can try out cooking classes and golf. We can’t wait to see what more the official opening in early 2013 holds… montigoresorts.com October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 5
On the Grapevine… The openings and revamps on our radar this month
Ngala Tented Camp, south Africa &Beyond’s Kruger National Park camp is sporting six swish safari tents thanks to a recent rebuild. Make for the African wilderness and between game drives you’ll have all manner of new creature comforts at your disposal – deep baths, al fresco showers, wooden decks and cosy beds among them.
park Hyatt Kuala Lumpur, malaysia Whether you’re in the city for business or pleasure, it’s well worth checking out Park Hyatt’s latest ultra-modern offering. Set in the hubbub of the city, you’re just a sky bridge away from stellar shopping and iconic sights – see the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, KLCC Park and Pavilion Shopping Centre.
Branching Out rixos sharm El sheikh, Egypt Water babes will love Rixos’s first Egypt-based hotel: set on the cottonwhite sands of Nabq Bay you’ll be a barefooted stroll away from some of the best diving the world can offer. Our tip is to book one of its 10 suites with private plunge pools, which come with views of the Red Sea, aka ‘nature’s aquarium’.
6 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
Seeking fresh travel inspiration? If you feel as though you’ve ‘been there, done that’, ponder the pages of Taschen’s latest release: Tree Houses. Fairy Tale Castles in the Air. As fantastical as the title suggests, its contents showcase 50 tree houses (hotels, inns and suites among them) taking adults back to their childhoods. Inside, you can flick through colour photos and cool illustrations from LA artist Patrick Hruby while being whisked from one far-flung destination to the next – think New Zealand’s east coast, the African wilderness and the cherry blossomed trees of Japan to name a few. And when your travels are done, pop it on your coffee table – its hardback cover is just as eye-catching. taschen.com
Make your weekend a Mövenpick weekend. Relaxing days by the pool. Rejuvenating treatments in soothing spas. Culinary experiences as the sun sets. Exceptional discounts and privileges at over 25 hotels and resorts across the Middle East. With ‘My weekend, my choice’ offer, the longer you stay, the more you save... · Enjoy 10% off for one night, 20% off for 2 or 30% for 3 · Up to two children stay free · Late checkout until 4 pm Terms and conditions apply. Bahrain · Jordan · Kuwait · Lebanon · Qatar · Saudi Arabia · UAE · Yemen
To begin your weekend, book online at www.moevenpick-hotels.com/myweekend, call us toll free: Bahrain 8000 1991, Jordan 0800 222 02, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 800 124 2929, Kuwait 2 225 3228, Qatar 800 2001, United Arab Emirates 800 4934 or contact your travel agent.
Paris in Pictures From cabaret showgirls to classic Parisian beauties, sightseers can relive La Belle Epoque (‘The Beautiful Era’) this autumn by catching Le Chat Noir exhibition. The Black Cat, as it translates, was the original cabaret – a legendary hub of music and entertainment that opened in 1881 and hosted France’s most famous artists, musicians and writers of the day (Claude Debussy and Toulouse Lautrec included). Such hot property was it, that when Picasso sought it out in 1900 he was too late: it had closed forever. The poster of that little black cat, however, lives on – you’ll see it pop up along the Rive Gauche or on bistro walls. Saunter along to Musée de Montmartre (12 rue Cortot) and you can spy its original, along with over 200 artworks of the era, showcased to fitting music in a bid to evoke the frivolity of its 18th-century hey day. Until 13 January, 2013. museedemontmartre.fr
Totally Tropical Taste
Take to the beach in Vilebrequin’s eye-popping collection
Octopus, lobster, mackerel, citrus fruits... the latest bold prints to don Vilebrequin’s swimming trunks are inspired by chefs from around the globe. Famed for their intricate detail, the St Tropez brand’s latest designs marry flowers, fruits, shells and stripes that will surely get you noticed on the beach – make the most of the summer rays while you can… Visit the Vilebrequin store, Mall of the Emirates and Souk Madinat Jumeirah, Dubai. vilebrequin.com
Global Gourmet Passengers on board Qatar Airways flights from Doha International should remember to pack their appetites: from this month onwards, travellers will be able to tuck into in-flight fare by the likes of Nobu Matsuhisa (of Nobu fame) and Vineet Bhatia (the only Indian chef to have won
8 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
two Michelin stars). The ‘Culinary World Menu’ on selected flights features 5-star dishes from all over the globe, hand-crafted to suit high-altitude palettes and the rigours of long-haul travel. Lebanese gourmet guru Ramzi Choueiri will bring Arabic-style dining to 35,000 feet, while Tom Aikens will serve up the best of British bites on your fold-down table... qatarairways.com
WIN three nights in a luxury Seychelles retreat
THE PRIZE Three nights in a Desroches Island Beach Suite with selected meals and activities for two people. To enter, email your answer to easywin@hotmediapublishing. com before 31 October, 2012. We all deserve a beach break from time to time, but few are as idyllic – or exclusive – as Desroches Island. Tucked away on an outer island in the Seychelles’ Amirantes Archipelago, you’ll find 14km of pristine Indian Ocean shoreline and an abundance of natural jungle – making for a truly untouched paradise. The resort is the only one on the island, and each elegant residence has been constructed with privacy in mind, so you’ll feel like you’ve landed on a deserted isle. Take your pick from garden-fringed suites (perfect for couples), spacious retreats and 10 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
villas, or vast five-bedroom residences – those with family in tow will relish the extra space. Once settled, adventurous types will be itching to explore more than 18 classified scuba dive sites, circumnavigate the island on kayaks, or try their hand at paddle boarding – but there’s plenty to occupy more serene guests too. Beach-side massages will ease you in to island life, and the dining options range from gourmet Creole fare at The Terrace restaurant to private beach-side picnics… Desert islands don’t get much more sumptuous than this. desroches-island.com
Q. In which stretch of water is the Seychelles archipelago situated? a) Indian Ocean b) Red Sea c) Pacific Ocean TERMS AND CONDITIONS: Prize is valid until 31 March 2013, subject to availability and black-out dates. Prize is nontransferable and is not exchangeable for cash. Advance reservation is required. Prize does not include flights, spa treatments and purchases; other exclusions apply.
check in | where to stay
WheRe To STAy...
It’s brimming with charm and creativity – but how to sample the best of Denver’s historic heart? You can’t go wrong with one of these not-so-humble abodes...
The Brown Palace Hotel
Sandwiched between lavish theatres and intimate playhouses, this class act puts you right in the heart of arty downtown Denver. The hotel is a spectacle in its own right, too, with lavish rooms – try the Chancellor Suite with Rocky Mountain views – and the elegant Kevin Taylor restaurant.
Over the past century, this suave bolthole has welcomed famous names galore. Feel the power in the Roosevelt and Eisenhower suites, or crank up the jukebox in the Beatles suite – each has plenty of standout features, including a dented fireplace in Ike’s digs, from the great man’s golf practice.
In the thick
Four Seasons Hotel Denver
The Oxford Hotel
A stay here puts you at the edge of the Rocky Mountains, but a complimentary chauffeur to the city centre can pop you right outside Denver’s top galleries.
Bursting at the seams with pop culture and quirky curios, this hotel is a work of art in itself. Creative types will love the fashion library and vintage gems.
Denver’s first hotel opened in 1891 just after the railroad boom, and has remained the height of luxury since. The Art Deco Parlour Suite is a KWT favourite.
Tucked away on ‘Millionaires’ Row’, this redbrick mansion offers architectural tours of the city – and they’re by horsedrawn carriage, no less.
Capitol Hill Mansion
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 13
Eid EscapEs Want to get away? KWT brings you the very best breaks for October
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 15
InterContInental abu DhabI Abu Dhabi, UAE If you can’t quite make your mind up on where to spend your Eid, InterContinental Abu Dhabi’s stellar setting has the solution: non-stop city and idyllic beach combined. In fact, its location ensures there’s plenty to keep both couples and families occupied, from standout shopping at Marina Mall and Khalidiya Malls to visting local attractions and historical sites. Even Abu Dhabi International Airport is close by. Back at the hotel you can most of October’s cooler 16 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
climes by reclining by the hotel’s slick swimming pool, marina views unravelling at your feet. If it’s an active getaway you crave, the hotel’s tennis and squash courts should serve you well, while those seeking relaxation should head to the health club where massages, steam rooms and Jacuzzis await. Gourmands, meanwhile, will have their appetites peaked by the hotel’s six eateries: beachside feasts of fresh seafood can be had at the Fishmarket; a taste of Brussels awaits
at the Belgian Café; and the party spirit of Brazil is in full swing at Chamas Churrascaria where Latin beats will fill your ears and tasty barbecued meats will fill your tum. If you’re holidaying with family check out the hotel’s Arabic brunch or Eid buffet (AED165). While couples should make the most of a double room with breakfast from AED431 or the luxurious Eid Suite offer for AED689, plus breakfast. For full details of Eid packages visit intercontinental.com/abudhabi
Desert Palm by Per aQuum Dubai, UAE You don’t need a penchant for equine pursuits to appreciate this chic retreat, set on the green grounds of a grand polo estate. If you do follow the Sport of Kings, though, nothing beats the experience of sitting on the retreat’s terrace and cheering on chukkas at sunset. The more hands-on of you, meanwhile, can make for the property’s standout stables and saddle up for a riding lesson. Alternatively, leave the horse-mad to it and enjoy the retreat’s other pleasures:
lush greenery unravels around you, while its suites and villas serve up modern-yetluxe interiors and access to cool pools and pretty gardens. For Eid we’ve got our eye on its Desert Palm Eid Package (valid October 25–29), which allows you to cosy up in one of its stylish, one-bed Polo Villa’s (they come with the best polo field views in the house) and soak up the Arabian sunshine by its private pool (shade-seekers can bask beneath 200-year-old olive trees). But that’s
not all – couples can sink their teeth into all manner of meaty treats courtesy of a private barbecue served at your villa; relax with a Lime Intuitive Massage for two at the resort’s standout spa (trust us, it’s one hour of sheer bliss); enjoy two trips to The Dubai Mall for world-class shopping and also a return trip to the airport, so there’s no need to trouble yourself with making the travel arrangements. desertpalm.peraquum.com October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 17
Crowne Plaza abu Dhabi Yas islanD Abu Dhabi, UAE Sunshine, beaches, city sights, familyfriendly pursuits… the list of things to do during a stay at Crowne Plaza Abu Dhabi Yas Island is endless. Little wonder then, that it makes a top holiday spot for those with kids in tow. Once there you’re just a sunny stroll away from the Yas Marina Circuit and Ferrari World Abu Dhabi theme park – so thrillseekers can get their kicks fast (the park is home to the fastest rollercoaster on the planet). Plus you can enjoy slower-paced fun 18 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
in the sun by driving over the nearby desert dunes or bathing on the beautiful Corniche. Book the hotel’s special Eid package and, back at the hotel, kids aged six and under can eat free and make the most of plentiful activities at the onsite Kids’ Club. But adults needn’t feel excluded – you’ll love the hotel’s setting (along Yas Links Abu Dhabi and the Arabian Gulf) where pea-green fairways, sparkling sea and perfect blue sky form a dreamy backdrop to your break. What’s
more, the package grants you a 10% discount at the hotel’s plentiful restaurants (we love Barouk for its smorgasbord of Lebanese mezze), as well as glorious massage treatments. And, if any family members are feeling restless (though with pool, squash court, spa and eateries at your fingertips we seriously doubt it) the bustling capital of Abu Dhabi awaits… Eid packages run from October 19-30, for details visit crowneplaza.com/abudhabi
GranD hYatt Kuala lumPur Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia If the globetrotters among you have itchy feet on the run-up to Eid, why not grab your passport and make for Malaysia? Once there, there are few better places to check in to than the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur. Opened in August 2012, it’s a show of modern glamour set smack bang in the city centre – which means you’ll be placed right in the thick of things. If you plan to sightsee during your stay, there’s plenty of reason to charge your camera: the iconic Petronas Twin
Towers, standout shopping at The Pavilion Shopping Centre and the Golden Triangle shopping and entertainment district are all within reach. And if city life sends your head in a spin, the groomed gardens of KLCC Park create an idyllic retreat – stop off for a picnic while you’re there. Back at the hotel you can gain further sanctuary from the busy streets (though each of the 370 rooms and 42 suites bestow fabulous city vistas thanks to floorto-ceiling windows), and no more so than in
the Essa Spa, where spa-junkies can trawl through an arm-length menu of signature treatments and traditional massages. Cuisine is something of a specialty here too, so leave the calorie counting for after Eid and tuck into anything from hearty steaks at signature restaurant THIRTY8 or wrap your lips around more authentic Malaysian bites at JP teres where local favourites are served hot from the grill, wok and hotplate. kualalumpur.grand.hyatt.com October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 19
hIlton Doha Doha, Qatar Perched on the pristine waterfront of Qatar’s vibrant capital, this family-friendly hotel is perfect for a short-hop weekend break. Every room features views of the Arabian Gulf, so from the moment you arrive you’ll ease into beach-side life. A private pool and beach await, just steps from your stylish abode – and with free entry to Kidz Paradize for all little ones in tow, you can relax knowing they’re in safe hands. During the Eid break, you can snap up a room for QR 850 – a snip 20 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
for an all-inclusive breakfast buffet, beach and pool access, and passes to the stateof-the-art fitness centre. There’s plenty to entertain spa lovers too: you’ll receive a 20% discount on spa treatments at eforea throughout your stay; its sumptuous aromatic steam room, rain shower, hydro-pool and sauna opened only this year, and its expert staff will pummel away the stresses of city life in no time. Stay on a Thursday night, and you’ll enjoy a 10% discount on the Sea Food
Extravaganza, a feast of the Gulf’s finest fish. Dining options don’t stop there, though: no fewer than six restaurants and lounges await. Choose from the like of Bab Al Baher, which serves-up beach-front fare and fruity smoothies, French and Mediterranean bites in the elegant La Sahtaine, or sea-view suppers in the chilled out Zawaya lounge. At day’s end, soak up the vistas from your room’s floorto-ceiling windows, and watch the sun sink behind the azure-hued horizon. hilton.com
hotel Missoni Kuwait City, Kuwait Fashionistas and label lovers can’t fail to fall in love with Hotel Missoni, the brand’s iconic 18-floor digs in the heart of Kuwait. Decked in signature stripes, sweet candy colours and quirky details galore, the hotel is a triumph of decadent design. The Eid Al Adha special puts you in a sea-view Missoni Room for just 85KD – a vibrant bolthole that leaves all other hotel rooms in the shade – or you can upgrade to a Maggiore Suite (also with stunning sea vistas) for an additional 50KD. Either way,
you’ll start your mini break in style: airport transfers are by complimentary limousine. Situated within walking distance of the malls, entertainment and restaurants of Salmiya and the Arabian Gulf Road, you’ll be spoiled for choice of how to fill your days off... Fuel up with a sumptuous breakfast buffet, then head off to explore the city – don’t miss the Tareq Rajab museum’s spectacular Islamic art collection. Need to unwind? You need only venture as far as the hotel’s Six Senses spa – a
1,500-square-metre haven of pampering (with a Missoni twist, of course). Here, you can indulge in Arabic-inspired treatments (try the Gulf Spices Ritual for a detox with a difference) and tailor-made beauty boosters. You needn’t venture far for dinner, either: the hotel boasts three destination restaurants to its name: the authentic Italian-style Cucina, the international menu and sushi bar at Luna, and the coffee and chocolate-lover’s paradise of Choco Café. Divine. hotelmissoni.com October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 21
Northern Pacific Ocean You’d be forgiven for thinking that the remote archipelago of Palau is one of travel’s best kept secrets, but watch where you put your beach towel: these teeny treasure islands have been inhabited for over 4,000 years, and boast enough prehistoric remains to leave anthropologists misty-eyed. The Rock Islands, pictured, have the most colourful legacy of all: the castaway cols were formed by volcanic eruptions which forced coral to the ocean’s surface, creating fertile patches of lush flora. Millennia of sea erosion have left the rock under-cut, but these idyllic mushroom islands aren’t designed to be tamed: arrive by boat to spend a day exploring the tropical undergrowth, then plunge beneath the waves to discover thriving reefs and wrecks... Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
lake natron Tanzania
The red hues of this East African lake should be warning enough: this is no ordinary sub-Saharan watering hole. With temperatures reaching 50°C and waters as alkaline as ammonia, Lake Natron is a lethal cocktail of mineralrich spring water, volcanic ash, and salt – meaning that travellers can only explore by plane. The area isn’t entirely lifeless, however: as the salinity increases, so does the population of cyanobacteria, which gives the caustic waters their colour. It’s also the snack of choice for hardy flamingos; the banks are a bountiful breeding ground for the pink-plumed birds, protected from predators by the toxic environs. Image: Corbis / Arabian Eye
EssEntial sElEction | BEst suitEs in thE Gcc
Best suites in the GCC
Image: Yas Viceroy Abu Dhabi Hotel, Presidential Suite
Snoozing with sharks, sinking into Missoni stripes or staying at the worldâ€™s tallest building â€“ Laura Binder spotlights the rooms to add to your wish-list
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 27
Yas ViCeroY abu dhabi Presidential Suite Formula One enthusiasts will find themselves in pole position when checking into the Presidential Suite, which overlooks the famous F1 racetrack. But that isn’t its only first-rate feature – head past the hotel’s grid-like façade and you’ll be gearing up for a stay in a suite that virtually gleams with gloss-white finishes, sizzles with its contrasting scarlet hues and serves up plenty of scope to socialise thanks to a 16-seater dining room and an elevator that takes you to a private spa treatment room. But its winning feature will only emerge at the flick of a remote: a concealed indoor lap pool shimmers behind a secret door. A real show-stopper.
the Chedi MusCat Chedi Club Suite As soon as you arrive at the palatial snow-white façade of The Chedi Muscat, you just know you’re in for great things. And you’d be right: outside it’s an oasis of palmpeppered gardens, ocean views and majestic mountain ranges, while one foot inside the Chedi Club Suite reveals all the grandeur its exterior suggests. Here you’ll wander beneath soaring ceilings as natural light streams through its huge windows. While, for water-lovers, there is a further trio of treats: a sunken jet-black bathtub is a dramatic spot in which to bathe; its swimming pool a sublime place for a dip; and from your private terrace you can view the resort’s water ponds. 28 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
EssEntial sElEction | BEst suitEs in thE Gcc
al Faisaliah hotel, saudi arabia Royal Penthouse Suite Suite-lovers are in for a treat at the Al Faisaliah Hotel, an all-suite bolthole. The crème de la crème though, has to be its three-bed Royal Penthouse Suite. Make straight for the hotel’s south wing where the majestic Penthouse is so generous it takes up two floors. But you won’t have to trouble yourself with stairs – a private elevator will whisk you between the two, so you can conserve your energy for its other regal delights (a massage room, Jacuzzi and sauna among them). For gourmands, though, its lavish dining space will more than sate your appetite (it comes complete with buffet space) – which is perfect for formal entertaining. hotel Missoni Kuwait Suite d’Oro Now we don’t wish to be prejudiced, but with its explosion of candy-coloured hues and bold floral prints, women will fall head over heels for Hotel Missoni Kuwait’s Suite d’Oro. Not only that, but Missoni goodies are everywhere in the 17th-floor abode, from the espresso cups to the fluffy bathrobes. But its gold, pink, turquoise and orange décor is not just a pretty face – designer style gives way to standout features, among them a beautiful greentiled terrace (sink into its striped cushions and admire the sea view) and access to the hotel’s Six Senses Spa (try the Honey and Date Wrap). And men needn’t fret – the Italian design house has put on plenty to tempt gents too, starting with an airport transfer by Maserati.
KeMpinsKi hotel & residenCes palM JuMeirah Deluxe 4-Bedroom Penthouse Harbour a taste for the extravagant? This lavish Dubai hotel’s four-bed penthouse suite is a virtual playground of grandiose features, from its pool to its glamorous interiors: gold finishes dominate, mirrored furniture looks plucked from a French royal residence and jewelled chandeliers tinkle overhead. Inspired by European palaces, the suite’s a decorative spot from which to enjoy your place on Dubai’s world-famous palm-shaped isle. Our tip is to make straight for the suite’s terrace (it’s huge) where you can admire the glistening Gulf lapping beneath the hotel’s palatial emerald-green domes. Fit for a fairytale. October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 29
EssEntial sElEction | BEst suitEs in thE Gcc
Hotel Sofitel BaHrain Zallaq tHalaSSa Sea & Spa Royal Suite Sofitel has been spreading French flair across the GCC for some time now and its latest offering – Bahrain’s Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa – is no exception. The brand’s signature sophistication is seen at its finest in the Royal Suite, which is awash in fittingly regal tones of burgundy and gold (not to mention an impressive four-poster bed). It’s only right, then, that you should experience the royal treatment while you’re there, and the suite’s terrace is a prime place to lie back by your private infinity pool and not only soak up a spectacular sea view but enjoy a bubbling Jacuzzi and the services of your very own butler. We love the suite’s finishing touches too – its Hèrmes bathroom goodies are impossible to resist.
Six SenSeS ZigHy Bay Private Reserve Suite A live-in butler, nanny’s quarters, four bedrooms, yoga studio, private spa suite, infinity pool… listing what makes Zighy Bay’s Private Reserve Suite a head-turning retreat is easy (if not a little lengthy). Head here and you’ll be in the otherworldly environs of Musandam, comfortably wedged between dramatic Omani mountains and the honey-hued Zighy Beach. Happily for us, Six Senses has stayed true to the region’s roots by creating a chic ‘village style’ hideaway using locally-inspired stone on floors and walls, plus timber or thatched roofs overhead. The master bedroom’s copper bath, meanwhile, is the place to experience the bubble bath of your life – no matter how hot it is outside… October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 31
THE LUXURY OF A HOTEL WITH THE COMFORTS OF HOME Enjoy panoramic views over the sparkling coastline and stunning cityscape at Fraser Suites Dubai. With award-winning service and extensive 5-star facilities including swimming pools, steam & sauna, Kidâ€™s Club, tennis & squash courts; relaxed dining in Aqua CafĂŠ and the exclusive Awazen Spa - Fraser Suites Dubai has it all.
For the latest offers and best available rates visit dubai.frasershospitality.com
EssEntial sElEction | BEst suitEs in thE Gcc
emirAtes PAlAce Palace Suite It’s impossible not to feel like royalty when setting foot inside the majestic Palace Suite: this is a place where gold leaf, marble, metallic tones, pearl finishes and glittering Swarovski chandeliers are all part of the décor. And like any royal, you’ll need plenty of space: cue three regal bedrooms (aptly-named Coral, Pearl and Diamond), an elegant dining room (with pantry facilities, so there’s no need to dirty a single nail); sprawling terrace with sea views and a majlis living area to boot. Though with environs like these there’s little incentive to leave, we’d advise luxurylovers to take a well-dressed amble to Le Café & Caviar Bar for chocolates and caviar. Sublime.
Al BustAn PAlAce Presidential Suite Sea View If an ocean view tops your wish-list, you’ll be delighted by the far-as-the-eye-can-see vista afforded by the Al Bustan Palace’s Presidential Suite. Step straight out on to its sprawling private terrace and admire the rippling sea and, at times, Arabic horses cantering along the shore. Back inside you can sink into sumptuous caramel-hued interiors or flick through a tome in the suite’s library – whatever you decide to do, there’s a butler on hand to fulfil your every whim. And if you do feel like leaving this plush cocoon, you’ll instantly be granted a personal cabana on the cotton-white beach and a tour of Muscat: is it any wonder the resort is dubbed the ‘Jewel of the Sultanate’? October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 33
the st. regis sAAdiyAt islAnd resort, ABu dhABi Majestic Suite Open the door to 101 and you’ll find a luxurious homefrom-home with a twist – this one comes with the St.Regis’s signature butler service (trust us, it’s second to none). If you don’t like to feel as though you’re in a hotel, this suite’s Mediterranean style and imaginative interiors do a superb job of creating the feel of a grand residence. What’s more, this ‘home’ comes with a private terrace (with dining for six) and picture-perfect view of an inky blue ocean. Our advice is to make the most of it with a slap up meal – that’s only after you’ve bounced on one of the two bedroom’s king sized beds, slipped into the bathroom’s fluffy robe, sunk into its oversized tub and marvelled at its walk-in closets (a great excuse for a shopping trip). AtlAntis the PAlm, duBAi Poseidon Underwater Suite It’s not every day you find yourself in an underwater world, but it’s quite the norm at the larger-than-life Atlantis on the Palm – if you book one of its two Underwater Suites, that is. While it spreads over three floors the Poseidon Underwater Suite’s master bedroom is a true spectacle: floorto-ceiling windowed walls into the Ambassador Lagoon allow you to watch flurries of fish (not to mention sharks and sting rays) glide by. Admire the view from the bathroom’s tub or marvel at the suite’s other marine-themed splendours: a Cinderella-style staircase sweeps you down to a generous living and dining area (complete with butler’s pantry), while its entertainment lounge will keep you holed up for days.
QAsr Al sArAB desert resort By AnAntArA 2-bed Anantara Family Pool Villa Nestled on the edge of the sun-drenched Liwa Desert, a plunge pool never looked quite as inviting as this one – which is why Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort’s Family Pool Villa is our pick of the resort’s Arabian-themed bunch. Slip straight into its bright blue waters to admire the endless sands before you, which snake their way across the Empty Quarter and into the orange-tinged horizon. Thick with Arabic charms, we wouldn’t blame you for simply staying put in your stone-clad villa: lounge on its shaded sundeck (a butler at your beck and call); luxuriate in the rooms’ bejewelled interiors (we love the bronze and silver chandeliers), or cool off under the glorious rain shower. 34 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
EssEntial sElEction | BEst suitEs in thE Gcc
JumeirAh At etihAd towers Royal Etihad Suite If you’re looking for plenty of space to stretch out in, how does the entire 60th level of Jumeirah at Etihad Towers sound? The Royal Etihad Suite grants you 980 square metres of seriously swanky space (think handcrafted furnishings and lavish Arabic artwork) which unravel alongside floor-to-ceiling windows – the sparkling city of Abu Dhabi twinkling before you. Standalone tubs, walk-in dressing rooms, butler service, and four sitting rooms plus two dining rooms mean you’ll have all the trimmings a jet setter could possibly wish for. But that’s not all – guests here are granted a chauffeured limousine during their stay, so you can continue the five-star treatment from the minute you step outside Jumeirah’s gleaming glass tower.
ArmAni hotel duBAi Armani Dubai Suite, Floor 39 Sophisticated, luxurious, understated – what else would you expect from a suite designed by Giorgio Armani? Whether you’re a slave to fashion or not, few will fail to fall for its stylish features: firstly, it’s set on the Burj Khalifa’s 39th floor, which means you’ll be privy to stellar views of the sparkling cityscape 24 hours a day (and, trust us, it’s all the better viewed at night). Once inside, you’ll be submerged in a soothing 390-square-metre space of clean lines and sophisticated light gold and grey hues. But, ask us what the best bit is and we’d tell you to wander past its powder rooms, private study, dining room and even the gym to sink straight into the master bedroom’s oversized bed – its cloud-soft bedding ensures the most blissful snooze in the GCC.
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e g d e e
lar o p of . d y lan ener the e ot c sc of m e ne pi a r d e es o sses s i n e c en air a rien ern g e n ild er sb clea exp at w t i Sp ars, owe gre be rk R last Ma rldâ€™s wo
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living on the edge | norway
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Opening page: Uphill skiers, Spitsbergen. This page: Arctic reindeer at Alkhornet. Opposite page, clockwise from top: Expedition skier descends Nordenskjold Glacier; Kittiwakes in flight; A walrus; Houses in Longyearbyen.
erhaps it’s because of all the Nobel prizes they dish out, or because they have utilised their reserves of North Sea oil so judiciously, but I trust Norwegians. That’s why when Martin, once a soldier, now a wildlife guide who passes the dark winter months on Svalbard reading books, invited me to walk on thin ice, I did so with all the trust of a horse being led by its owner to the knacker’s yard. The ice had a slushy crust – enough to wash over my boots – and you could see the water below, separated by what Martin reckoned was just seven inches of ice. Fortunately, there were plenty of distractions, not least the staggering scenery of Trygghamna, or ‘safe harbour’, an inlet in the mighty Isfjord, which sweeps for more than 100 miles from the Arctic Ocean into the heart of Spitsbergen, the largest island on the Svalbard archipelago. The basic rule for walking on ice is apparently to shuffle along in single file, in the footprints of the person ahead. Backmarkers risk slipping unnoticed into the water. We are watched by a bearded seal and a ringed seal, and then, of course, there are polar bears. Even before last year’s fatal attack on a British student, local guides went to great lengths to stress the danger they present. I’ve been on wildlife trips where guides clearly exaggerate the dangers, to create an artificial frisson. That’s not the Norwegian style. Martin carried a gun, as anyone walking on Svalbard must, but shooting a bear is a last resort and we would, he calmly instructed us, first clap our hands in an attempt to scare them off. The inquiry into last year’s attack identified ‘a number of unfortunate circumstances’ but cleared those who laid the tripwire flares and shot the bear of any criminal negligence. The family of the teenager are appealing the ruling.
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The reality, says the local tourist board, is that just three per cent of visitors to Spitsbergen will see a polar bear, at any distance. But bear attacks have even happened in the regional capital, Longyearbyen, albeit rarely, according to local guides. Everyone I met stressed that by observing basic safety and procedures you significantly mitigate those risks. We never did see a bear, apart from skinned or stuffed ones splayed and mounted across the walls of hotels and airport arrival halls. But free-range walking requires that you can use a rifle, and have the expertise to set up trip wires and flares when you camp. I opted, instead, for a series of walks based around Cape Linne, on the western edge of Spitsbergen, made possible by the 24-hour sunlight in high summer. The venue was Basecamp Isfjord Radio. Having expected to subsist on berries and processed reindeer meat for four days, I was surprised – but not overly disappointed – to find that Isfjord Radio, once a meteorology, communications and Cold War spying outpost, had been converted into a boutique hotel. The giant satellite dish remains, as do redundant telegraph wires and poles that punctuate the landscape and march away to the skyline. These and other incongruous features are in full view as you recline with a mug of cocoa in surroundings of sea-spray shades of white and blue. One of Norway’s top chefs has been tempted away from Oslo, and the reindeer mousse and brunost – caramelised goat’s cheese – were real highlights.
living on the edge | norway
‘The ice had a slushy crust – enough to wash over my boots – and you could see the water below, separated by just seven inches of ice...’
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living on the edge | norway
â€˜Pointy, icy peaks flanked the north coast of the fjord, seven miles wide at this point, while more glacier-flattened mountains book-ended the view across the bayâ€™
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 41
‘Isfjord Radio, once a meteorology, communications and Cold War spying outpost, had been converted into a boutique hotel’ We were not allowed to leave our base, or even wander around the compound, without badgering staff to accompany us. And, although the Arctic has an extraordinary capacity to thrill and overwhelm, should you want to sit down and get all poetic about it you have to do so with a marksman waiting discreetly a few yards off. Every day the bar for sightseeing was raised by encounters with creatures of the Arctic imagination. Eider ducks, whose startled cooing sounds disconcertingly like Frankie Howerd from beyond the grave, nested all around. Arctic skuas whiled away the day with aerial dogfights in which competing males spectacularly bashed their breasts against one another. Then there’s the Svalbard reindeer, more stumpy and wind-pummelled than their mainland cousins, fetchingly doe-eyed in panda fashion, who graze around the equally unlikely summertime flowers of moss campion and pink saxifrage. One morning, two walruses barrelled about in the shallow waters offshore. These huge animals managed to look positively balletic. The icing on the frozen gateaux was the spectacle of neither one nor two but three blue whales at least a mile out to sea. They spouted showers of air from their blowholes and then, obligingly, performed an about-turn and shunted back along our line of vision. One walk of three miles took us below the Alkhornet, an Eiger-like, triangular rock-face home to nesting 42 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
kittiwakes. These little gulls filled the air like confetti. Underneath the rock-face our group slowly stopped, possibly just halted by the glory of the spectacle around us. Pointy, icy peaks flanked the north coast of the fjord, seven miles wide at this point, while more glacierflattened mountains book-ended the view across the bay. The clarity of the air made distances and heights hard to judge: those mountains looked to be 10,000ft high; I checked the map later and they generally came in at around 3,000ft. Perhaps I was just taken aback by where I was. Barely three hours’ flight from Oslo, it felt like I was standing on a spinning top. The southern shores of Spitsbergen are where the Gulf Stream gasps its last, and neighbouring places at this latitude – 78°N – have epic names such as Franz Josef Land and Novaya Zemlya. By comparison, Prudhoe Bay at the northern end of Canada’s epic Dalton Highway, is a mere 70°N. Even Greenland’s mysterious settlement of Thule – the ancient Greeks’ embodiment of the edge of the Earth – lies further south. The North Pole is a mere 800 miles away, in global terms just around the corner. Anything you do up here – send a postcard, order a drink, answer a call of nature – comes with the inevitable tagline of being ‘the world’s most northerly ...’ You can also manufacture other ways to get the adrenalin going. One evening, someone came up with the idea of a pre-breakfast swim in the Arctic Ocean.
Images: Getty Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Supplied Text: Mark Rowe / The Independent / The Interview People
living on the edge | norway
Previous pages: Polar bear crosses the ice. Opposite page: Basecamp Isfjord Radio Hotel. This page, from top: Basecamp Isfjord Radio Hotel’s rustic dining room and accommodation.
I recalled reading how sailors often survived in icy waters only to die when hauled out as the shock of warming up hit them. “OK, then it’ll be a case of euphoria or death,” one of our party helpfully pointed out. In the event, it was no colder than the North Sea off South Shields in February, and, of course, we were watched from the shore by a member of the hotel team, in this case the cook, with her gun slung over her shoulder. Weather forecasts make for truly surreal reading. On our arrival, the forecast was for bright sun, light winds and 5°C between midnight and 6am. It was the same all day round. There was no reason why temperatures should drop at night, for the simple reason that there wasn’t any night. For a few days it was exhilarating, but I suspected that you might tire of it. Svalbard effectively has two tourist seasons: summer, when the sun never sets, and winter, when it never rises. It is easy to look at Svalbard as unchanging, but Arctic ice, typically about 10ft thick, has thinned by more than 2ft in the past four winters, according to Nasa. The plight of polar bears as this ice contracts beneath them is well documented. Predictions of just when the Arctic will become icefree in the summer have hastily been revised from the end of this century to within a decade, according to Professor Peter Wadhams of the Polar Oceans Physics Group at Cambridge University. A visit to the Svalbard museum in Longyearbyen shows how this elemental landscape still has traces of a dark passage in its history. Some whale and seal populations are only now recovering after the great slaughter that extended over three centuries as Europeans sought out blubber. Norway gained ownership of Svalbard in 1925, but just before that the Svalbard Treaty was ratified, enabling anyone to declare an interest in the islands’ resources. The bizarre list of signatories includes Venezuela and Afghanistan and, in reality, everyone is biding their time. Svalbard is reckoned to be oozing oil, along with deposits of gas, coal, even gold. Given that Svalbard today is a remorselessly treeless, Arctic desert, this is ironic; the explanation is that the primordial Svalbard lay somewhere close to the equator and was covered by forest that later decayed to form today’s tempting mineral wealth. Mining goes on in a desultory, piecemeal fashion today. Russia even has a concession to mine at Barentsburg, a Soviet-era town of pastel colours. But it will take great resolve for Norway to keep the door shut as world reserves dwindle. The advice for dealing with polar bears is no use in these circumstances. If you clap loudly, the miners are not going to go away. That said, trusting Norwegians as I do, if anyone can keep Svalbard pristine, they can. October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 43
Malaysia on a plate | Malaysia
Malaysia on a Plate Katie Derham and family signed up for a cookery lesson â€“ but making spicy chicken noodles was only the beginning of a gastronomic adventureâ€Ś
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Opening page, clockwise from top: Vegetables for sale at Kota Bharu market; Chicken satay; Beef rendang. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Boats moored at Perhentian Island; Durian fruits; Tea plantation in the Cameron Highlands; Pangkor Laut resort private dining.
hotel shows its character when the weather turns nasty. An unseasonably late and heavy monsoon in north-east Malaysia wasn’t just threatening the sense of humour of the guests, it was causing chaos locally, with considerable flooding and storm damage. But at Tanjong Jara, what I like to call the Kellerman spirit – in homage to the film Dirty Dancing – kicked in with grace and speed, and we were offered activities as diverse as batik painting and playing chong ka (a kind of hybrid of marbles and backgammon). For us, though, the choice was easy. We would learn to cook. Tanjong Jara was the start of a gastronomic journey around Malaysia that took in both east and west coasts of the peninsula, as well as the capital, Kuala Lumpur. Before I went, I’m afraid my knowledge of the country was shamefully limited to geography lessons about the rubber industry. But as a family, we’re crazy for Asian food, and the prospect of being taught how to wield a wok by the pros – with the added lure of time on the beach – was too good to pass up. Malaysia is a perfect foodie destination. The cuisine of neighbouring Thailand may be better known, but Malaysian cuisine is more complicated – and richer for it. The country was firmly on the spice route, and the original
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Malays were a seafaring bunch, so the food, as well as the culture, has long been influenced by the traders – and invaders – of the region. For hundreds of years there were strong links with India. More recently, thousands of Indian workers were brought in to work on the rubber plantations. There’s a large Chinese population, too, so in the west and in the capital in particular your menu will include as many curries as Thai-style stir-fries and Chinese noodles. Beef rendang, a delicious spicy, tender but dry stew of beef with coconut is virtually the Malay national dish, and has to be tried, but what tickled us most was the discovery that Malaysia invented satay, the classic meat-on-astick snack. It’s cooked on every street corner, on a charcoal griddle, with ladles of freshly made peanut sauce and bamboo skewers. Our culinary education started with a trip to the local market. In the care of the talented, eccentric and hilarious chef Ann, we made our way, through sheets of rain, along the palmlined coastal road to the covered market in the town of Dungun. It seemed a crime to leave the comfort of Tanjong Jara. But any hankering for the resort was soon forgotten as we wandered wide-eyed past stalls piled high with unfamiliar herbs and vegetables (twisty runner beans, anyone?), and past fish vendors determined to make the children jump by waving enormous
Malaysia on a plate | Malaysia
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This page: Petronas Towers, Kuala Lumpur. Next page, clockwise from top left: Pangkor Laut resort infinity pool; Hill villas at Pangkor Laut resort; Pangkor Laut Island from above.
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Malaysia on a plate | Malaysia
‘Street food is alive and well in Kuala Lumpur, and there are some wonderful restaurants tucked into the ubiquitous shopping malls’
mackerel and big, ugly monkfish at them. Ann told me which spices she couldn’t live without. Garlic and chilli came as no surprise. But galangal? It looks like a ginger root but is citrusy, and is a staple of her noodle dishes. Then there’s a kind of fermented shrimp paste called belacan, which smells like nothing on earth before it’s cooked, but adds a non-fishy sweetness and intensity to meat. “I’m tired, let’s have a cappuccino,” announced Ann, and we looked blankly for a coffee shop in the heaving market where we were most definitely the only foreign visitors. Cappuccino, it transpired, meant a stall where instant coffee and warm condensed milk was poured – or pulled, as they say – back and forth between two mugs until it developed a good froth. Like cappuccino. Not bad, actually. Two hours later we’d cooked much of what we’d bought. Buttermilk prawns, with the most indulgent cream and chilli sauce, topped with crispy deep fried egg yolk (very fiddly). Spicy chicken noodles, mamak style. Beef with lemongrass and coconut milk. It all looked a bit haphazard, and I’m still not sure we should have let five-year-old Eleanor chop chillies with an eight-inch blade, but the pride and effort involved made it the best lunch we’d eaten. To the west coast. With more time, we could travel slowly, through the tea plantations and nature reserves of the Cameron Highlands, where the Empire still lingers in the names of the bungalows, and the air is cool. We drove along surprisingly
good roads (driving on the left – the British departed in 1957 – and you don’t need electrical plug adaptors, either – who knew?), passing through mile after mile of precisely-planted plantation. Palm oil has mostly replaced rubber these days. Fascinating to see the freshly painted gates and signs with the names of international conglomerates, cheek by jowl with traditional wooden homes on stilts. Slightly worrying to realise, after the first hour or so, that all this used to be virgin jungle. Still, onto the ferry, relishing the fact that the monsoon on this side of the peninsula had finished a month previously, and we were off to the island of Pangkor Laut. A British colonel, Freddy Spencer Chapman, was rescued from the island by submarine during the war after spending many months living rough in the jungle, fighting the Japanese. For us, by contrast, Pangkor Laut had been a resort mentioned in hushed tones by ritzy friends booking their honeymoons. It has the perfect palmfringed beach; picturesque cabins on stilts in the sea, with terraces from which you gaze at the glorious sunset or deep into each other’s eyes. It also has a fine spa, restaurants, activities should you desire, and gorgeous views of ancient rainforest to feast upon. Just to add to the package, a chef can come to your cabin and cook just about anything. We were on a mission to eat our way around Malaysia, and now we discovered we could do so without moving a muscle. I have recipes of some of the dozens of dishes we worked our way through – all for research, of course.
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Some we were allowed to watch being prepared – the pad Thai, the black-bean beef, the sweet and sour grouper. All were delicious. There was also a Chinese cookery class where we made spring rolls and chilli sauce from scratch, learnt how to steam sea bass perfectly (easier when you have an industrialsize bamboo steamer) and make ‘chilled honey dew with tapioca pearl’, which the children found delicious once they’d stopped saying “urgh, it looks like frogspawn”. Then to Kuala Lumpur, a city trying so hard to catch up with the international hubs of Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai that you might worry that local food would be 50 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
subsumed by – at best – trendy fusion places, and, at worst, by global fast-food chains. Happily, street food is very much alive and well, and though it might seem a bit counterintuitive, there are some wonderful restaurants tucked into the ubiquitous shopping malls. We found a kind of fantasy food court called Feast in the basement of the newest and shiniest of the malls, Starhill, next door to the Ritz-Carlton hotel. The imagination of its décor is only matched by the variety and quality of the food on offer. So good in fact, that it seemed churlish to try our new-found cooking skills. Sometimes you’re much better off leaving it to the experts.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Supplied Text: Katie Derham / Discover / The Interview People
‘Pangkor Laut resort has the perfect palmfringed beach; picturesque cabins on stilts in the sea, with terraces from which you gaze at the glorious sunset...’
From JEDDAH to RIYADH to MAKKAH and MADINAH Join the millions of people visiting the Kingdom each year from around the world
SAUDI ARABIA Supporting the Kingdomâ€™s growing hospitality and tourism industry
17 - 19 November 2012 Under the patronage of Saudi Commission for Tourism & Antiquities
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KraKow calling | poland
Krakow Calling Poland’s former capital is one of central Europe’s least-known treasures – Teresa Levonian Cole takes a look around…
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 53
â€˜I looked at people huddling around stalls selling pierogi (stuffed dumplings), buying fur hats, woolly socks and Baltic amber, as fat snowflakes fellâ€™
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KraKow calling | poland Opening page: Main Market Square. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Medieval architecture of the Jagiellonian University; Horse-drawn carriage at City Square; Glowny Market Square. This page: Folk dancers.
n my first visit to Krakow 12 years ago, I was struck by the magnificent riot of its churches. Every religious order, so it seemed, had set up shop here, and few had found reason to leave. Towers and spires pierced the skyline. Priests emerged from portals Romanesque, Gothic and baroque, to stroll down the narrow cobbled streets of the old town, greeting members of their congregation by name. The gaps between the churches spiritual had been plugged by palaces temporal, scarcely less commanding when studied individually, yet collectively blending into the 1,000 year-old architectural potpourri that was, to its inhabitants, simply Krakow. I was relieved to find that little had changed. No international hotel chains have arrived to colonise the former homes of nuns or Polish nobles; restaurants, bar a few notable exceptions, still serve the kind of hearty food whose fatty insulation might have fuelled Napoleonâ€™s army on its march through Russia. Satirical cabaret venues lurk in underground spaces, throwbacks to the days of resistance to foreign domination. Frumpy shops outnumber the occasional boutique stocked with fashionable European and Polish designers â€“ the latter secreted in a mini-mall lest they disturb the aura of a bygone age. Lacking the sophistication of Vienna or the mushroom growth tourism of Prague, yet with elements of both cities, Krakow is one of central Europeâ€™s least-known treasures. As a base of Nazi command in the Second World War, it was spared the wholesale destruction that befell Warsaw, and remains the cultural and intellectual heart of Poland. The Collegium Maius, where Copernicus studied astronomy, still stands, housing among its treasures October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 55
Fryderyk Chopin’s piano. The Pod Roza hotel, where Franz Liszt, Balzac and Tsar Alexander II reputedly lodged, continues to welcome guests. One can wander dreamily through the traffic-free medieval streets, or view the swirling art nouveau decorations of Stanislaw Wyspianski which survive to astonish still. Krakow’s glory radiates from Market Square like rays from a misshapen sun. But the cobbles of Rynek Glowny, as it is otherwise known, were glazed with ice, transforming Europe’s largest square into a skating rink. I skidded into the wooded warmth of Wedel for a cup of near-solid hot chocolate, negotiating with difficulty the agglomeration of consonants on the menu. Pre-dating a numbering system, the palaces fringing the square – now shops, restaurants and galleries – are still romantically identified by the elaborate carvings above their portals: the House beneath the Eagle, beneath the Rams, beneath the Evangelist. I looked out at people huddling around stalls selling pierogi (stuffed dumplings) and mead, buying fur hats, woolly socks and Baltic amber, as fat snowflakes fell around the turreted arcades of the Cloth Hall. As late winter scenes go, it was perfect. Yet there is a melancholy to Krakow’s beauty, which seems to mourn her glory days. From the 13th century to the fall of Communism in 1989, successive invasions, partitions and occupations have weighed on the national consciousness. 19th-century tableaux by Jan Matejko, one of Poland’s best-known artists and a local resident, speak of heroic battles or the treachery of Poland’s last king, Stanislaw Poniatowski, who forfeited the country’s independence. Every statue and effigy proclaims saints and martyrs. Patriotic fervour can be overwhelming. Within hours of arriving I learned, in some detail, how Jan Sobiecki had defeated the Ottomans at the gates of Vienna, and of Jozef Pilsudski’s triumph over the Red Army in the Miracle at the Vistula “saving all of Europe from Turks and Bolsheviks,” added my guide, the delightful Krzysztof, proudly. Both heroes now rest atop Wawel Hill, in the cathedral built by Wladislaw the Elbowhigh to house the bones of St Stanislaw – an outspoken bishop murdered in church, like Thomas à Becket a century later, by an enraged king. Together with the neighbouring castle, until 1609 the residence of kings, the cathedral’s stylistic medley of chapels and breathtaking monuments offers the most pleasurable crash-course in Poland’s rich history. You don’t hear much about this episode in Krakow today. Instead, strolling the narrow streets, I discovered a delightful quarter of colourful buildings centred on Serozka Street, filled with kitsch restaurants of questionable authenticity, the original ritual baths transformed into the characterful Klezmer-Hois, cosy bars such as Alchemia recreating the original through-the-cupboard hiding 56 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
places of less happy times. Restored largely in response to interest ignited by Spielberg’s film, Schindler’s List, Kazimierz has become a trendy haunt of the young, buzzing with nightlife. Elsewhere, Krakow’s countryside provided the perfect antidote to an excess of pathos and hot chocolate. Ojcow National Park lies some 15 miles from Krakow, an upland of Jurassic limestone caves and crags teetering in extraordinary formations above Pradnik Valley. Walks through the padded beech forests, exploring the ruins of 14th-century castle-eyries at the southern end of the socalled Eagles’ Nests Trail of fortifications, banished any residual cobwebs. “Be it for nothing other than the true beauty of Ojcow,” rhapsodised Chopin on his visit here in 1829, “it was worth getting soaked”. I would have to agree. Frozen to the bone in the still-falling snow, I retired to the beautifully restored wing of nearby Korzkiew Castle, for a night spent thawing in baronial splendour, before a roaring fire.
KraKow calling | poland
Images: Getty Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock Text: Teresa Levonian Cole / The Sunday Telegraph / The Interview People
This page, clockwise from top left: Arts and crafts market; Wawel Royal Castle road; Pierogi (dumplings); Traditional musician in the old town; Wedel chocolate shop and cafĂŠ.
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Treasure Island | JamaIca
Treasure Island It has been 50 years since the former British colony gained independence, says Boyd Tonkin, and Jamaica is in the mood to celebrate
ll night the waves break on the rocks just a few feet from my bed, a background rustle – with the odd roar – that seems to deepen sleep rather than impede it. My seaside suite takes the form of a miniature castle painted in duck-egg blue, set on the shore’s edge, in a garden full of tropical trees and flowering shrubs. Sunloungers stand on the decking by the ocean. Above my head, a roof terrace carries canopied day beds with vistas along the indented coast and southwest towards Nicaragua. As for the décor, with its multicoloured glass and shells inlaid into every surface, it feels as if Antoni Gaudí had been whisked from Barcelona and hired as the set designer on some surreal episode of the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. This is Jamaica, but not as the high-volume tourist business usually markets it. Jakes is a collection of suites, cottages and villas in the village of Treasure Beach, part of the out-of-the-way and still-unspoiled southcoast parish of St Elizabeth. “In this parish we work, not shirk,” warns a sign on one road as you enter this cluster of farming and fishing October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 59
â€˜If you ever tire of the coast, stroll from one cheerfully-painted diner to another, in search of the best ackee-and-saltfish, rice-and-peas or conch soup, amid the clack of dominoesâ€™
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Treasure Island | JamaIca
Opening page: Beachfront houses. Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Accommodation at Jakes; Fisherman on Montego Bay; Jack Spratt restaurant. This page: A musician playing the banjo at the Bob Marley Mausoleum.
communities in the semi-arid lee of the Santa Cruz mountains. That’s indisputably true of the locals in this ‘breadbasket’ for the whole island. As for the visitors – well, they have a licence to chill. One way and another, Jamaica is making quite a bit of noise at the moment. Earlier this year, the former British colony celebrated 50 years as an independent nation, with the anniversary marked in style not just at home but in every place where its three-million strong diaspora (more people than live on the island) have put down roots. To coincide with the London Olympics, the Bubble at the North Greenwich Arena was transformed into Jamaica House, with a crammed schedule of music and other events. Elsewhere, across the river at the stadium in Stratford, the 100m final saw Jamaica’s super-fast hero Usain Bolt crowned with gold. Not only that, but the reggae pioneer Jimmy Cliff performed in North Greenwich as part of the Jamaica 50 festival. And it’s Cliff who, via the cult film that introduced his talent to the world, supplies a link to the quieter, gentler Jamaica of Treasure
Beach. The Harder They Come starred Cliff: Jamaica’s first full-length feature, it was directed by writer and film-maker Perry Henzell in 1972. Henzell had married Sally Densham, an artist, designer, poet and photographer whose family came to Jamaica from Britain in the wake of the Great Crash. Sally’s sailor uncle Lionel had fallen in love with the island and sent an urgent telegram to his brother Basil, her father: ‘Sell everything. Bring No 9 Hardy Fishing Rod, polo sticks and come.’ Basil did. Eventually the family moved to Treasure Beach, a necklace of four bays – from Billy’s in the north-west to Great Bay in the south-east – where the Pedro Plains meet the sea. Sally bought her own property here in 1991. First a bar and restaurant, Jakes – named after a family parrot – spawned one strikingly-original accommodation unit after another, from those one-bed coastal castles through two- and three-bed cottages to a handful of four-bed villas. In addition to the on-site restaurant and Dougie’s Bar (complete with signature punch) beside the seawater pool, the Jakes-owned Jack
Sprat, just along the water, serves fresh local seafood, tasty fish stew and huge pizzas by the beach. Jakes functions not just as a family concern, but a community powerhouse. Jason Henzell, Perry and Sally’s son, manages the business and ensures that – in this gorgeous but challenging landscape – it remains sustainable. His wife Laura Henzell directs the Driftwood Spa, committed to the use of natural materials. The Henzells help, along with their fellow citizens, to manage the Breds Foundation, which raises funds for community projects in education, health, youth work and (most recently) a sports park. One of the highlights of the Jakes events calendar is the Calabash literary festival in late May. Inaugurated in 2001, and codirected by Jason’s sister, film-maker Justine Henzell, it attracts about 5,000 locals and tourists for three days of free readings and discussions from top-flight Caribbean and global authors – with plenty of music in the mix as well. Some tourism did exist on this coast before Jakes. The 1930s Treasure Beach Hotel still October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 61
‘My seaside suite takes the form of a miniature castle painted in duckegg blue, set on the shore’s edge, in a garden full of tropical trees’ flourishes. Since the Henzells first made an impact, other low-key guesthouses and villas have arrived, although the scatter of pastel-painted cabins that counts as a ‘resort’ around here has nothing in common with the high-security, package-deal citadels of Jamaica’s north coast. In spite of the village’s reputation as a fashionable ‘chic-shack’ destination, Treasure Beach life can still be tough. Healthcare and schooling remain precious, hard-won assets; the sea claims its toll of victims among the fishermen. But country manners, and country rhythms, still prevail. If you ever tire of the coast, stroll from one cheerfully painted diner to another, in search of the best ackee-and-saltfish, rice-and-peas or conch soup, amid the clack of dominoes. Wash down the meal with a icy local drink. Then wander on. Pretty soon, you’ll be meeting more goats than people. This tranquil side of the island deserves a big shout of its own. 62 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
This page, clockwise from left: Jakes hotel entrance; Boat docked in a Jamaican harbour; The low-key local beach scene; Accommodation at Jakes; Plantain, a staple Jamaican food.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Supplied Text: Boyd Tonkin / The Independent / The Interview People
Treasure Island | JamaIca
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 63
64 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
windy city | baku
Windy City Mark Leftly takes to Baku’s cobbled streets for a tourist’s-eye view of Azerbaijan’s oil-boom capital
hin balanced awkwardly in his hands, the pre-adolescent, mop-haired boy in a turquoise pullover glances up at his opponent. His eyes dart back to the chess board, legs shaking vigorously beneath the table. The other boy, dressed in red, has moved a rook one space to the left, e3 to d3 – but why? In maybe three seconds, the riddle is solved and MopHair swiftly moves his bishop diagonally up the board to a threatening position. Another glance at his opponent, this time accompanied by a grin. At the back of the chess centre are many trophies, one of which the children here are competing to win. At the front, by the wide, coveredup window, middle-aged women are reading books and considering their Sudoku puzzles. Hidden away behind rickety wooden doors on one of the main streets in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, is this down-at-heel centre where the great Grandmaster Garry Kasparov learnt his trade. In 1990, Kasparov fled this extraordinary city of contradictions, bleak yet spectacular: Unesco-protected fortress walls struggling for prominence with Dubai-style glass buildings; late 19th- and early 20th-century oil tycoon mansions sitting alongside Soviet brutalism. As I pass the grim, futuristic glass pyramid of the old town metro station, which jars with the backdrop of the old city’s medieval walls, I figure that I am in for a disappointment. But entering Icheri Shahar, or the inner city, I soon realise that I have been too quick to judge. I am greeted by an enormous stone head, the bust of the
poet Aliagha Vahid. Although fairly modern – he died only 45 years ago – this is the first of many examples of outstanding statues I encounter. On close inspection, Vahid’s hair is, in fact, a collection of simple scenes, such as men drinking, while his neck is covered not by wrinkles but the roots of a tree. Nearby, three boys use the gap between two sets of steps as a makeshift goal for a game of football, a sport all locals seem to love, while a friendly down-and-out comes over simply to practice his English and say hello. Forget using a map in this corner of town; the tiny disorganised cobbled streets would flummox even the most gifted cartographer. There are lots of little discoveries to be made – although at first it seems that there are only cats and washing lines – the best of which is a free-ofcharge museum of miniature books. The owner, a lady in her fifties who cannot speak any English, insists on showing me around, and is even able to convey that there are 4,800 books in the museum but more in her total collection. She points out a series of fingernailsized works by Alexander Pushkin, and a photograph of Boris Yeltsin, who visited the museum in 2005. The major attractions in the old town are Maiden’s Tower and Shirvanshah’s Palace; one interesting, the other soulless. The tower is a mysterious 29.5-metre structure, of which no one really knows the origins, bar that it was rebuilt in the 12th century. Wearing battered old shoes with no discernable grip, I nearly slip on several jagged stone steps on my way to
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 65
the top, but once there I am rewarded with a tremendous view over the Caspian. Baku isn’t known as the ‘City of Winds’ for nothing: at this height I am nearly blown over by the fierce, icy gusts. The palace wasn’t worth the four manat – roughly £3.30 – that I paid for entry and the right to take photographs. There’s little of interest to take a snap of here, the buildings empty, the reconstructions of parts of this 15th-century complex simply not that impressive. This might have been a better structure to demolish than the south-western corner of the walls, which have made way for a Four Seasons hotel. Sadly, there seems to be more construction firms on their way to the old city, their mission to smooth out the irregular, cobbled pathways. I move on to Fountain Square, which is the hub of Baku’s thriving shopping district. Again, the builders have got there first, the square fenced off for reconstruction. 66 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
The famous little Passaj souvenir street to the east of the square presently has only a handful of stalls, having made way for painters who are redecorating the mansion arches that cover this area. A teenage boy running one of the few remaining stands dishes out a lesson in the art of haggling. I ask the price of a gaudy, gold picture of Azerbaijan, to which he replies “10 manat”. He runs off to get a less battered version and when he returns says: “Thirteen, my boss tell me.” I point out the increase in price to which he responds “15”. I eventually get the picture and some coasters for 18 manat, though the boy suggests that I don’t need the change from my 20 manat note. In need of a drink to contemplate the genius of the boy’s sales strategy, I pass the Carpet Museum, a massive Soviet structure that looks like something from ancient Greece.
windy city | baku Opening page, clockwise from top: View from the Maiden Tower; The old town; Azerbaijani dancers. Opposite page: The old town and Flame Towers. This page from top: An Azerbaijani girl; Russian dolls in the Passaj market.
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock; Supplied Text: Mark Leftly / The Independent / The Interview People
‘There are lots of little discoveries to be made – the best of which is a freeof-charge museum of miniature books’
I head for the tree-lined promenade by the seafront. I go to Bar Xazor, a circular venue with good views of the heavily overcast Caspian. Enclosed, I cough at the smoke that wafts over from nearby tables, where patrons sip jamsweetened tea, gossip, and puff on high-tar cigarettes. After a domestic tipple, I stagger past two yellow Noddy Trains that wouldn’t look out of place at a children’s theme park. I attempt to walk on to the pier, but it is roped off due to the piercing winds, thwarting my attempts to look like a male version of The French Lieutenant’s Woman. After a two-manat trip on the promenade’s incredibly slow, Soviet-era Ferris wheel, I head for dinner. I order a delicious plov, lamb with rice that, in this case, is heavy on dill. On my table there is what appears to be a small tub of grass, which I conclude must be a condiment. I eat a couple of the blades and, sure enough, it’s grass. What I didn’t realise was that it is the Novruz holiday, the first day of spring, and that the grass bundle is a symbol of the event. Grass aside, the food in Baku is filling and heavy on meat. At the Fayton Club, for example, I order some dolma, those vine leaves stuffed with minced lamb and rice. Inside each one there are only two or three grains of rice, the rest is meat. Fayton is near Heydar Aliyev Park. Aliyev was the president of Azerbaijan from 1993 until his death in 2003 and was either the country’s saviour from postSoviet poverty or an authoritarian human rights violator, depending on who you talk to. His image is everywhere, and the statue of Aliyev waving in the park is, by night, lit up by two sets of massive spotlights. Aliyev appears to be waving at the hideous central bank building across the street. My guide, Samed, tells me that the builders used several kilos of gold to help create a distinctive colour for the glass of that building. Unfortunately for the architect, that distinctive colour turned out to be copper. I visit Shahidlar Xiyabani, or the Alley of Martyrs, the Baku equivalent of Yerevan’s Yerablur cemetery. To get to the centrepiece eternal flame you have to pass by a row of black marble rectangles with images of people murdered during Black January, back in 1990, when the totalitarian Soviet regime left its final mark on Baku, and their graves. It is a staggeringly moving memorial and a testament to the subtlety of which this big, brash city can be capable. And if almost wilful eclecticism is your cup of fig jamsweetened tea, Baku is definitely worth a visit. October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 67
ExplorE KErala – luxury Tour 8 Days / 7 Nights From USD 850 per person
Itinerary includes 1 night in Cochin, 2 nights in Munnar, Kumarakom, and Kovalam. HoTels used: CiTy
DREAMS (DElUxE ROOM)
MOUNTAiN ClUb (COTTAgE)
ThE ZURi (ZURi ROOM)
lEElA (gARDEN ViEw pAViliON ROOM)
Package includes: • Accommodation on twin sharing basis as per hotels/room types mentioned above, or equivalent • Room and breakfast in all hotels (except Mountain Club, Munnar where breakfast and dinner will be provided) • All transfers & sightseeing as per the itinerary by Air Conditioned medium size vehicle • English speaking guide in Cochin only & entrances to places of visit in Cochin, Munnar • All currently applicable taxes Package does not include: • Expenses of personal nature such as drinks, entrances, boating charges, still camera / video camera fees at monuments, laundry, phone/fax, tips & gratuities and any items not specified above. Terms and Conditions: • Rates mentioned are per person on twin sharing basis in US Dollars • Extra adult with bed will be charged 50% of the per person rate • Extra child 5-12 years with bed, will be charged 30% of the per person rate Sale validity: 24 OCT 2012 to 01 NOV 2012 Dammam: +966 3 8355642 / 632 / 645 | Riyadh: +966 1 4634454 / 2933740 | Jeddah: +966 2 2632875 / 2633040 | Bahrain: +973 17 828801 / 792 / 793 | Qatar: +974 4483704 | Dubai, UAE: +971 4 3341444 / Abu Dhabi, UAE: +971 2 6780400 | Oman: +968 24700249 / 24700279 12 Kanoo World Traveller May 2011
ConCierge | opener
MarraKEch | WEllinGTon | shanGhai | nEW yorK
the 30-second concierge
Touria Elrhachoui, royal Mansour
Riads, spices, souks – if you want to add lashings of luxury to a Marrakech trip, few places will beat this first-rate, all-riad hotel. Its concierge shares her tips... The suite to choose for all-out luxury... would be the Riad d’Honneur: at 20,000 square feet, it comes with four bedrooms, private gardens and an outdoor swimming pool. It’s really a hotel within the hotel. It’s set on three floors surrounding a central courtyard with an electric retractable roof, and guests can entertain in the screening room, dine on delicacies prepared in the riad’s restaurant kitchen or relax on the rooftop terrace. It is a favourite of top politicians, CEOs and designers. To see Marrakech... my advice is to take an excursion into the Atlas Mountains to discover the wonderful landscapes, with the experience of an authentic Berber breakfast and a tea ceremony in a traditional Berber house. The views over the mountains are stunning.
If it’s authentic Moroccan food you crave... La Grande Table Marocaine at Royal Mansour serves Moroccan specialities revisited by the renowned three-Michelin-starred Chef Yannick Alléno. We also suggest the Yacout restaurant for traditional Moroccan dishes. My advice for a stay in the city... is to make time to visit the Majorelle Gardens for a break from the bustling souks. These beautiful botanical gardens were designed by French artist Jacques Majorelle in the 1920s, and painted in the special shade of bold cobalt blue which he used extensively in the gardens and the buildings. The gardens were later owned by Yves Saint Laurent, and the complex also houses the Islamic Art Museum of Marrakech. royalmansour.com October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 69
Head to the sizzling streets of Shanghai for a collision of East and West – the results are intoxicating, discovers Hazel Plush
hina is booming – but among the throbbing urban hubs of the world’s fastest-growing country, Shanghai’s guts and gumption make it the leader of the pack. Once the playground enclave of British expats and social climbers, the city now stands on its own two feet – alive with ambition, proud, and thirsty for the future. Life here is messy, vibrant, thrilling; traditional China collides with the modern-day Orient, an intoxicating cocktail of capitalism, tradition, and big dreams. Huangpu River, the city’s main artery, beats with life: its banks are lined with skyscrapers and shopping malls, heaving with businesses, entertainment, and commerce. Shanghai hasn’t lost sight of its roots, though: marvel at the city’s humble beginnings at the many museums and galleries – the colourful Shanghai History Museum is an excellent primer – and witness the ancient art of tai chi in practice at dawn throughout the urban parks. Gobble delicious noodles, explore the subculture of contemporary art, blow the dust from souvenirs at the Dongtai Road Antique Market… There’s only one way to visit Shanghai: with eyes and mind wide open.
70 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
Shanghai | China
Shanghai’S beSt… Shopping hotSpotS Three on the Bund is the place to head for flagship designer stores. You’ll find the likes of Gucci, Prada and Armani among other top-quality retailers and restaurants.
the local arts and crafts too – perfect if you’re searching for a unique souvenir.
Nanjing Road is Shanghai’s favourite shopping strip – you’ll find all the Chinese brands and international favourites, as well as touristy curio stalls, lively cafés and a throbbing pedestrianised district.
Dongtai Road Antique Market is brimming with treasures and knick knacks of every description. Browse
Opposite page, clockwise from top left: Tai chi practice on the Bund at dawn; The bustling shopping hub of Nanjing Road; Dining on steamed dumplings; Chinese tea; En-masse ballroom dancing in Lu Xun Park.
1 9 11 5
Images: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Shutterstock
MUSt-DoS Lu Xun Park (1), one of the leafiest parts of the city, makes an excellent introduction to Shanghai’s plethora of personalities. You’ll see locals practicing tai chi (a Chinese meditative exercise) as the sun rises, impromptu performers, dog walkers, fashionistas and businessmen – it’s entertaining viewing, and you can take it all in from blossom-canopied benches. Huangpu River (2) runs through the heart of Shanghai, and a river cruise showcases the city without the need to immerse yourself in the crowded melee. Boats depart from the wharf, at the end of Nanjing Road – make the trip at night to see the skyscrapers twinkle in the dark sky. Shanghai Art Museum (3), adjacent to People’s Square, is home to a
seemingly bottomless trove of traditional Chinese art. Must-see areas include the ceramics, bronzes and paintings galleries – all displayed in a former colonial clubhouse. From this month (until March 2013), you’ll find the high-profile contemporary Shanghai Biennale on show too. Shanghai History Museum (4) tracks the city’s progression since its cotton-producing beginnings. It’s captivating stuff – from the colourful colonial days, to the rise of Communism – and gives real insight into the ambitious, cosmopolitan city of today. The Bund (5) runs alongside the Huangpu River, and is where you’ll find key business buildings, a thriving dining scene, and high-end shops galore. Three on the Bund, the area’s newest retail and restaurant complex, offers fantastic views
of Pudong financial district – best enjoyed with a glass of something cool as the sun goes down. Gongqing Forest Park (6), a vast expanse of park land on the shore of the Huangpu River, offers a taste of wild China. Here you’ll find serene picnic spots among acres of pines, magnolias and willows – and, for a more raucous day out, kids will love the rollercoaster, climbing wall and fun fair. M50 (7), a gathering of independent galleries, reflects the enduring popularity of Chinese contemporary art; this is the centre of the thriving creative subculture. You’ll need a map (available from the main entrance), but head straight to ShanghART (021 6359 3923) – at ten years old, it’s a veteran on the scene – twocities (021 5252 1518) for sculpture, and OFoto (021 6298 5416) for China-themed photography. In between galleries, you’ll stumble upon trendy boutiques and cafés: recharge with steaming hot noodles and stay for music concerts and late-night film viewings at Image Tunnel (021 2813 0548).
WheRe to StaY 88 Xintiandi (8) (shanghai.88xintiandi. com) is brimming with traditional elegance and contemporary style (think welcome tea ceremonies and good-luck goldfish bowls). In the heart of the lively Xintiandi district, it’s circled by shops, restaurants and historic interests – so you won’t have to venture far to explore. Fairmont Peace Hotel (9) (fairmont.com/ peace-hotel-shanghai), perched on the banks of the Huangpu River, was a magnet for the rich and famous in the 1930s, and its allure lives on. Venture here for smoky nights in the Jazz Lounge, delectable afternoon tea and extravagant themed suites.
WheRe to eat Ye Shanghai (10) (021 6311 2323) is renowned for its up-market mix of Shanghainese, Szechuan and Cantonese dishes; this is a refined venue in which to sample the local delicacies, and is a favourite among expats who flock here for the generous array of plump dumplings. Shook! (11) (021 2329 8522), at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel, is the place to head for dinnertime view of The Bund and Pudong. Grab a table on the terrace and sink your teeth into fois gras burgers and succulent braised beef cheeks. October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 71
From Māori lore and settler influence to modern-day metropolis thrust, this thriving city has a character and culture like no other
n the surface, New Zealand’s capital is a cosmopolitan showpiece of the New World; a playful city with ambitions, with its eye on the future and tongue firmly in cheek. There’s an established surf scene, malls brimming with big-name brands, and a bustling central business district; the art scene is blossoming, the gastronomic treats are plentiful, and the nightlife is the finest you’ll find on the islands. Scratch the surface, however, and you’ll find a city that’s steeped in history, that embraces an ancient culture that predates any of its imposing Edwardian architecture. Wellington strikes a fine balance of international influence and Māori roots – and the result 72 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
is captivating. There’s no better evidence than Te Papa Tongarewa Museum, a national exhibition centre that boasts the world’s largest collection of Māori artefacts. And just outside the city, Zealandia offers a glimpse of New Zealand’s natural world, itself swathed in Māori lore, where the mythical kiwi bird is harboured from extinction. This is a city built by international influence, too – a colonial past, although painful at times, that’s commemorated in settler museums and cultural sites. This is no simple capital, but its glossy exterior hides a rich personality; make like a kiwi bird and forage beneath the surface – you’ll find treasures galore.
wellington | new zealand
Images: Getty Images; Corbis / Arabian Eye
MUST-DOS Wellington Cable Car (1) (wellingtoncablecar.co.nz) is a picturesque way to get acquainted with the city: departing from Lambton Quay, the cart reaches the corporate hub of The Terrace, tunnels underground to Kelburn Park, and trundles up to the top of Upland Road. Here you’ll find the Carter Observatory, from which you’ll spy the city centre and as far as Mount Victoria. Te Papa Tongarewa Museum (2) (tepapa.govt.nz) is New Zealand’s national museum, and deserves a day’s explorations – at least. Exhibits include fascinating insights into Māori lore (this is a great place to start if you’re unfamiliar with Kiwi culture) as well as the country’s geology and natural environment. Current shows include Kahu Ora, the world’s largest collection of Māori cloaks, and fashion retrospective New Zealand in Vogue. The Colonial Cottage Museum (3) (colonialcottagemuseum.co.nz) is on a much smaller scale, but offers an unparalleled insight into the lives of the first European settlers. It was built in 1858 as a family home, and has been kept true to its roots: try your hand cooking pikelets on the open fire before exploring the colonial relics on the Aro Valley walking trail (it starts from the museum’s gate). City Gallery Wellington (4) (citygallery.org. nz), in the heart of Civic Square, is the home of Wellington’s thriving art scene. As well as an array of local works, you’ll find pieces from all over the country (sculpture by Auckland-based Rohan Wealleans is currently on show), as well as Māori and Pacific-themed galleries. Cuba Street (5) is one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares, dating back to the 1840s when the
settlers first established it as a trading area. Today, its eclectic array of shops, boutiques and stalls are famous for their myriad treasures; lose a day browsing, digging in vintage stores, brogging through old record shops and dodging street entertainers. The local population is just as colourful, and best-viewed while sipping a flat white in a pavement café. Zealandia (6) (visitzealandia. com) is a natural utopia just minutes from the capital, with a weird and wonderful population of indigenous wildlife. The sanctuary is home to kākā parrots, geckos and the endangered takahē bird – and by night, it’s possible to spot kiwis plucking out food from amongst the undergrowth.
and iPod sound-systems – perfect for a leisurely escape. The Wellesley Boutique Hotel (8) (wellesleyboutiquehotel. co.nz), in the heart of the city centre, offers a deluxe array of rooms and suites. Housed in a listed building, the accommodations feature neoGeorgian features throughout, and are a mere stroll from a bustling array of nightlife, shops and sights.
WHErE TO EAT Martin Bosley’s (9) (04 920 8302), perched on the Wellington Harbour, is the best place to sample local seafood specialities. Order the à la carte snapper, sashimi and salmon roe, or splash out on the ‘Coastal Cuisine’
WHErE TO STAy Ohtel (7) (ohtel.com) is a tenroom hideaway in the beachfront district of Oriental Bay. The city’s attractions are a short drive away, and the luxurious residences boast two-person baths, naturally-sourced toiletries
WELLINGTON’S BEST… ArTy ExpErIENcES The Embassy Theatre is New Zealand’s grandest cinema – and this November it’ll host the world premiere of The Hobbit. Its 1920s auditorium makes for a unique backdrop for independent and general-release films.
The St James Theatre, home of the
degustation menu for succulent sea-fresh bites. The White House Restaurant (10) (04 385 8555) is a champion of locally-sourced ingredients – some of which are grown in its rooftop garden. Pull up a harbour-side chair and feast on seafood and braised New Zealand lamb, as well as a hearty menu of risottos and veggie fare.
Royal New Zealand Ballet, is a fullyrestored Edwardian playhouse. The recitals are just as spectacular as the décor, and include opera, dance and most major touring musicals.
Adam Art Gallery 2 7
Oriental 10 Bay
5 Te Aro Mount Victoria
3 Opposite page, clockwise from top left: The Wellington cable car makes its way to Kelburn Park; Surfers at Lyall Bay beach; One of the many cafés in Lambton Harbour; Te Papa Tongarewa Museum. This page: Roast New Zealand lamb chops.
is celebrated for its galleries which feature a plethora of local, national and international names. A visit also grants you access to the Victoria University art collection – a 240-strong hoard of Kiwi artwork.
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 73
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74 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
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KWT DeTails | hoT offers
a tale of three cities
This month’s deals brought to you by Kanoo Travel and American Express
escape to salalah 3 days, 2 nights From $374 Dreaming of greenery and cooler climes? Then how about two nights and three days spent not too far afield in idyllic Salalah? Make for the Omani sanctuary and you’ll be instantly immersed in picturesque surrounds. While you’re there make sure to stop off at Haffa (the old city) where you can trawl authentic souks and haggle for hidden treasures – they make great gifts. And if you want to team your trip to the Sultanate with splendid creature comforts, opt for a four-star stay at Haffa House (from $375 on twin-sharing basis, plus breakfast and return economy flights with Oman Air) or stay instead at the three-star Tourist Village: either way you’ll be in a prime spot to soak up the atmosphere of this compelling region.
while will be in awe of the Pinnawella Elephant orphanage (entrance fees included) where you can get up close to the gentle grey giants and their swaying trunks. With accommodation and breakfast included, it’s sure to be a trip to remember.
savour sri lanka
delight in istanbul
6 days, 5 nights From $490 Those seeking a city trip with a difference would do well to look to beautiful Sri Lanka – this capital sojourn encompasses tours of Kandy, Colombo and Nuwara Eliya. While Colombo is the epitomy of hustle and bustle, Kandy brings a chance to swap drama for gentile strolls around its stunning botanical gardens, where the country’s most exotic flowers can be seen in full bloom. Come nightfall, you can also take in a cultural show for a real taste of the city. Animal-lovers mean-
4 days, 3 nights From $1,218 Five-star style awaits jet setters to the Turkish capital – but you’ll need to be quick, the offer ends on 31 October, 2012. After flying in with Etihad Airways (return economy flights included), you can check into the stunning Jumeirah Pera Palace Hotel and make the most of all its luxe trimmings. Stays here (three nights on a twin-sharing basis at $1,218) also place you in a prime location – overlooking the Golden Horn and nestled in Pera. Formerly dubbed ‘Little
Europe’, you can explore all manner of historical and cultural delights with ease – it’s just a 5km stroll to the atmospheric Old City and moments from the idyllic harbour. One way to drink in this multi-faceted city in style. And if you prefer your sightseeing to be organised for you, you’ll be pleased to hear that the package includes a half day Bosphurus cruise and a full day tour of the Princes Islands.
October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller 75
four SeaSonS hoTel neW yorK
If you’re splashing out on a trip to the Big Apple, make it a stay to remember in this lavish sky-scraping pad. Perched atop the Four Seasons Hotel New York, the Ty Warner suite was designed by architects I. M. Pei and Peter Marino, and the result is as jawdropping as you’d expect. Life at 244 metres above street-level is truly decadent: think Chinese onyx bathroom with an infinity poolstyle tub, bespoke commissioned artwork by some of NYC’s finest creatives, and a dedicated spa room for in-suite treatments. Finishings 76 October 2012 Kanoo World Traveller
are exquisite – from the Thai silk-clad bedroom to the private elevator to whisk you there – although the finest sight is just beyond those floor-to-ceiling glass panes. Step on to one of the four balconies to take in views over Manhattan – what better spot for a private dinner for two? When you feel like exploring the city streets, the suite’s Rolls-Royce (plus chauffeur, of course) will take you there in style – although with all-inclusive access to the spa and dining venues, you may never want to leave the hotel... fourseasons.com
beSPoke Weekend GetAWAyS At tHe fIneSt AddReSS In qAtAR Escape to our 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 your 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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