Issue Seventy Two
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From Istanbul to Oman,where will you spend yours?
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April // 2014
Editor’s Note Issue Seventy Two, April 2014
Here at WT we live for the weekend: two days to discover, 48 hours to explore, 2,880 minutes to wander. So seriously do we take those two days, that this issue we’ve picked our choice locations for a weekend away (page 27). From surfing in Sri Lanka to swimming in the Dead Sea, it’s time to lose yourself, albeit temporarily. Assuming you’ve visited all the locations on the list, let’s imagine that you have the powers of a Jumper – not the fashion garment but those of Hayden Christensen in Doug Liman’s sci-fi movie of the same name. Where would you travel if you had just 48 hours? Drawing inspiration from this issue, how does this whirlwind adventure sound: start your day by catching the sunrise in Bondi Beach with photographer Eugene Tan (page 12). From there, teleport yourself over to Miami and follow WT around the city’s hippest haunts (page 41). Next, ‘jump’ on over to Venice and take to the city’s canals – literally – on a kayak (page 52). Finally refuel in Seoul (page 76). Go on, grab your fork and jump – don’t forget to Tweet us while you’re there, @WT_Magazine.
Victoria Thatcher Editorial Director
John Thatcher Business Development Director
Jason Brown Editor
Tracey Scott Deputy Editor
Richard Jenkins Features Editor
Lara Brunt Senior Designer
Adam Sneade Designer & Illustrator
Andy Knappett Production Manager
Chalitha Fernando To contact any of the above people, email email@example.com
Jun-Dec 2013 | 23,167 | BPA Consumer Audit 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 World Traveller. Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494
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Cover: Sunset over the Blue Mosque (Sultanahmet Mosque), Istanbul, Turkey. Copyright: Luciano Mortula
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April // 2014
It’s monsoon season in Oman, so you’d better take cover at the glorious new Salalah Rotana Resort. Elsewhere there’s underwater relaxation in the Maldives, and we pick 14 sensational weekend trips that are all five hours or less from Dubai something for every kind of traveller.
A city break with a summertime feel in Miami, the beauty of iconic Croatia and an epic, life-changing kayak tour through Venice – who needs gondolas? Finally, party season in Ibiza is coming up – but what else is there to see on the White Isle before the dancing begins?
Recharge your batteries at the Clinique La Prairie, Switzerland’s most exlusive health resort. We get gastronomic with Seoul’s dining delights and pick six of the best hotels in which to get married. Last but not least, possibly the best view we’ve seen in Suite Dreams is in New Zealand.
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Check In The Essentials
Need another reason to visit Salalah? Here you go: the new Salalah Rotana Resort. As hotels in the city begin to fill up in anticipation of the Khareef Festival – a four-month long celebration of monsoon season, running June to September – this 400-room hotel is a great option to rest your head. Throughout much of the year, Salalah quietly ticks over. June time here, however, is like holidaying in the tropics (think lush vegetation and stunning scenery). And with over one million visitors expected to descend on the city throughout Khareef, it’s time to get booking.
April // 2014
OUR MOST POPULAR DESTINATION. Do not disturb. Stretched out on a fully-flat bed. The sumptuous soft mattress and bedtime drink beginning to take effect. About to touch down on a cotton-wool cloud. From gentle ambient cabin lighting, to soothing pillow mist aromas, see how far weâ€™re going to bring you some well-deserved sleep at etihad.com/comfortzone Welcome to a more comfortable world.
April // 2014
PAR ADISE FOUND The Shard’s Shangri-La hotel opens its doors
London’s iconic Shard may have only opened a year ago, but it’s still felt like a heck of a long wait for its signature hotel, Shangri-La, to follow suit. Towering over London’s landmark-stuffed skyline, Shangri-La is the tallest hotel in Western Europe. Book your stay in one of the signature suites and be there for the grand opening on May 6. shangri-la.com
ICE DREAM Sweden’s ICEHOTEL is after creative types that don’t mind wearing gloves. For the last 25 winters, they’ve been creating sculptures out of ice that double up as hotel rooms – and they’re currently seeking submissions for this November’s suites. Submission deadline is May 7 and standards are incredibly high, judging from last year’s efforts. So if you can’t stand the heat – best head to ICEHOTEL. For more information visit www.icehotel.com.
Images: Paulina Holmgren; Marjolein Vonk
Handy with an ice pick? Have we got a job for you…
April // 2014
TR AVEL CALENDAR
If you’re fed up with the crowds in London, a new Marylebone restaurant has opened that should be right up your street. Canvas by Michael Riemenschneider only takes 20 diners per sitting. In the chef ’s opinion though, the squeeze is a good thing. “The atmosphere is very personal, last night the tables all started interacting with each other. People were saying to other tables, ‘I should have ordered that!’” Join the party while you can - spaces don’t last long.
Wednesday, April 9 International Boat Show, Shanghai If you’re interested in sailing or yachting, the top-of-the-range lines on display here should give you something to think about.
Friday, April 11
Relaxation Station This underwater art exhibition will pull you under Below the waves of the Indian Ocean, at the Huvafen Fushi and NIYAMA hotels in the Maldives, an extraordinary show is taking place. Awardwinning visual artist Andreas Franke’s Phantasy Fairytale photographs combine “photography, nautical exploration and digital mastery to produce compelling underwater dream worlds”. Be quick, the gallery is running until the end of May.
Coachella Festival, US The hottest hipster hangout on the planet, California’s Coachella lineup improves every year. This year’s headliners include Muse and Lana Del Rey.
Sunday, April 13 Songkran Water Festival (New Year), Thailand Part introspection and part riot, Songkran sees images of Buddha ‘bathed’ in water and the rest of the country goes water-crazy in a ceremony called rod nahm dum hua.
Saturday, April 26 Jazz and Heritage Festival, New Orleans The home of jazz hosts its second biggest party (after the unstoppable Mardi Gras of course). Music lovers should make the pilgrimage.
Wednesday April 30 Walpurgisnacht (Witches’ Night), Germany High on the Harz Mountains in Brocken, the witching hour is accompanied by actual witches and warlocks – according to local mythology, anyway. See in spring with a spooky twist.
First-class shopping in a central location Sheraton Dubai Mall of the Emirates Hotel Directly connected to Dubai’s premier shopping destination - the Mall of the Emirates, the Sheraton offers comfortable suites in a prime location. Combine business with leisure and book our amazing family suite offers including sumptious breakfast buffet and Wii/PlayStation entertainment systems for kids. For more information and reservations please call +971 4 377 2005 or visit sheraton.com/dubaimalloftheemirates
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April // 2014
LIFE’S A BEACH
For 15 years, photographer Eugene Tan has been taking early morning snaps of Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach. Here’s some of his handiwork…
April // 2014
April // 2014
ver wanted to quit your job and pursue your passion? Sydney surfer Eugene Tan did just that, swapping the nine-tofive for 5am wake-up calls to document the daily goings-on at Bondi Beach. Long before blogging went mainstream, Tan started emailing his stunning snaps of sun, surf and sand to a handful of mates. They quickly caught on, prompting the frustrated creative director to ditch his day job and launch Aquabumps in 1999. Today, his daily photo newsletter has 40,000 subscribers, from Perth to Peru, and over 100,000 Facebook fans. Buoyed by his online success, Tan opened his first gallery in North Bondi in 2004. “I was lucky enough to do some freelance work on the side to support my dream. Now we have a gallery three times the size in the heart of Bondi and I’m so glad I did,” he says. While Sydney’s most famous beach is undeniably beautiful, what is it about Bondi that makes him want to photograph it day in, day out? “The fact that it’s different every day and you never know what you’re going to get. I’m addicted to the golden light of the mornings, the warm water in summer, observing the morning people fulfilling their rituals,” he explains. “There’s an energy about Bondi in the mornings, people are happy and there’s nothing like watching the sunrise every day.” Tan even loves the solitude of windy winter mornings when most people would be tempted to hit ‘snooze’ rather than hit the beach. “Those days it’s usually me and the lifeguards,” he says. “I think after 15 years of getting up at sunrise my body clock is attuned to it, so the getting up part isn’t so hard. If there’s nothing to shoot I can always find gold in my archives.” The photographer has seen first-hand how the laid-back beachside suburb has changed. Smart bars now sit alongside backpacker pubs, while organic cafés and trendy boutiques line the streets. “But I think the thing I love most about Bondi Beach is it’s a place where everyone can come and do what they love to do: surf, run, swim, relax. That hasn’t changed in 15 years, although maybe there are a few more boot camps and famous lifeguards running around,” he says, in reference to the red-and-yellow-clad stars of hit reality television show, Bondi Rescue. So has he had any unusual experiences during his dawn escapades? “I’ve been chased out of the water by a sting ray twice my size, and I’ve watched a bunch of nude men – and one girl – make a pyramid on the beach. That was weird,” he laughs. Sure beats the daily commute. aquabumps.com Check In
There’s nothing like watching the sunrise every day
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BEST OF BONDI Want to know where the locals go? Eugene shares his favourite places
Best breakfast spot? Jedâ€™s Food Store, a laid-back cafĂŠ dishing up wholesome food with a Caribbean twist. 96 Glenayr Avenue
Best place for a sundowner? Right on the promenade, The Bucket List is the place to go for drinks. Queen Elizabeth Drive
Best restaurant? Gelbison, a family-run trattoria serving authentic Italian cuisine for over 25 years. 10 Lamrock Avenue
Photography supplied by: Eugene Tan
Text by: Lara Brunt
April // 2014
Floating Hotels From concept sketches to completed designs – the future of hospitality lies offshore… 1. Greenstar, Maldives The Maldives government joined forces with Dutch Docklands to plan out this incredible, 800 hectare floating development. 2. Floating Hotel, Qatar Planned to be unveiled in time for the 2022 World Cup, the Qatari effort is as opulent as you’d expect.
I want to...
SWIM WITH GREAT WHITES Fancy a dip with the apex predator of the sea? With nothing but a steel cage between you and a 20-foot White, only the brave need apply. But if you don’t fancy taking a dip below sea level, you can still get a great view from the safety of the boat.
Where to go: Shark Alley is close to Gansbaai, near Cape Town, South Africa. Whites are near-guaranteed.
What you need: A strong constitution – all equipment will be provided for you, and you don’t need any diving certificates.
Find out more: www.gosharkdiving.com
3. Sea Orbiter This crowdfunded superexplorer will be the closest we’ve gotten yet to living on the seabed. 4. Sunborn London A superyacht converted into a luxury hotel, the Sunborn will stay in London – but can up anchor to sunnier climes any time. 5. Spitbank Fort, Portsmouth A former defence tower, this fort (one of three) is now a luxury hotel, only reachable by boat.
April // 2014
TR AVEL DOWNLOAD All the media you need, whatever your journey BOOKS
XE Currency Simply the best currency converter on the market. View exchange rates and calculate prices on the go.
Worst. Person. Ever
Douglas Coupland The Canadian that defined Generation X is back with a wry and funny new novel involving humans using nuclear bombs to clear up the oceans.
The Alchemist (25th Anniversary)
Donoghue’s smash-hit Room propelled the author into stardom, and her new novel takes an unexpected twist – it’s a crime story set in 1860s California.
One of the finest holidaybooks ever written gets a re-print to celebrate its 25th birthday. Packed with soulchanging wisdom.
TravelSafe Pro A guardian angel on any long trips – emergency contact numbers and embassy details for different countries worldwide.
Slow Shutter Cam This newly redesigned photography app captures amazing longexposure shots that the iPhone camera can’t take on its own.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty This mind-bending Ben Stiller vehicle features Walter, a timid photo expert
who spends his time daydreaming incredible scenarios. For travel buffs, this is a rare chance to see Iceland for
the first time in a Hollywood movie Walter’s daydreams take him all over the Scandinavian countryside.
April // 2014
Founded in 1592, Trinity College is the oldest university in Ireland. Famous alumni include Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker.
666 There are
“When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart."
JAMES JOYCE (Poet)
Rock band U2 hails from Dublin. In 2000 they were given the Freedom of the City, which grants them many symbolic privileges, including the right to graze sheep on St Stephen’s Green in the city centre.
THE OLDEST DATING BACK TO
In the year 841, Viking invaders made a permanent settlement in Dublin.
Artane North Bull Island Clondalkin
O’Connell Bridge is by far the most famous such structure in the city is the only bridge in Europe that has the same width and length.
HIGHEST CAPACIT Y STADIUMS IN EUROPE CAMP NOU (BARCELONA)
CROKE PARK (DUBLIN)
19 T WICKENHAM (LONDON)
The famous Oscar statuette was designed by Dubliner Cedric Gibbons.
STADE DE FRANCE (SAINT-DENIS)
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Historic Hotel #10
FAMILY AFFAIR The Goring is the only luxury hotel in London still owned and run by the family that built it
here are countless hotels in London, of course. Good ones, terrible ones, worse-than-terrible ones. There are also a few betterthan-good, and The Goring definitely fits that category. Deep in the heart of luxurious Belgravia, The Goring has sat snugly in the shadow of Buckingham Palace for over a hundred years. Just four Gorings have run the hotel since it first opened its Edwardian Baroque doors in 1910, the same year King George V took the throne. O.R. Goring opened the hotel, and a statue of his likeness remains in the lobby to greet guests to this day – a fresh flower in his buttonhole every morning. The Goring’s ace in the hole is its glamorous Royal Suite, opened in May 2011. With two bedrooms and two reception rooms, not to mention exceptional views of the hotel’s glorious private garden, the Royal Suite is the crown jewel of 69 individually designed rooms and suites. Having operated for so long, The Goring has seen its fair share of history. During WWI, the hotel became the command
centre for the chief of the Allied Forces. Throughout WWII, the enormous garden was given over to growing tomatoes and housing chickens to help feed the nation. And on the day peace was declared in 1945, the King and Queen of England ate sausages and eggs in the dining room. These days the dining facilities are much more up-to-date. The head chef uses carefully selected British ingredients to create a real taste of England, best enjoyed in the elegant dining room designed by David Linley. Everything stops for Afternoon Tea at The Goring, served on the Terrace overlooking the garden when the weather is fine. With a Royal seal of approval you should hardly need convincing to visit this most historic of hotels – if it’s good enough for HM The Queen it’s good enough for us.
Text by: Richard Jenkins
If it’s good enough for HM The Queen it’s good enough for us
April // 2014
April // 2014
World Traveller Reader Offers We’ve cherry-picked this month’s hottest offers which are ripe for a great escape... dnatatravel.com
St James’ Court London, A Taj Hotel 4 nights from USD815 per person, or from USD2,145 including airfare. Special offer: Stay 3 nights and receive an extra night free, breakfast in the suite, complimentary internet, early check-in and late check-out. Includes: Stay in a Superior Suite with return transfers to/from London Heathrow. Validity: August 1-September 30, 2014* *Book by June 30, 2014.
In a fantastic location close to all the city’s major sights, yet nestled away in a quiet courtyard, this hotel grants the best of both worlds.
Le Méridien Fisherman’s Cove 3 nights from USD945 per person, or from USD1,850 including airfare. Special Offer: 30% discount on room rate plus a complimentary upgrade to a Suite for families with up to two children. Includes: Stay in an Ocean Deluxe View Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Validity: August 1-September 30, 2014. A beautiful, relaxed resort best known for romance, but this offer lets the kids join in the fun.
Malaysia How to Book 22
You can book these offers by calling dnata on +971 4 316 6666 or by visiting dnatatravel.com. Terms and conditions apply. On the same site you can also sign up to dnata’s newsletter and receive more offers direct to your inbox.
JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur 3 nights from USD320 per person, or from USD1,055 including airfare. Special offer: 10% discount on room rate. Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast daily
and return airport transfers. Validity: Now ‘til July 31, 2014. A great hotel centrally located for all the best shopping in KL. There’s even a mall next to the hotel, the Starhill Gallery.
April // 2014
UAE DAMAC Maison - Dubai Mall Street 3 nights from USD275 per person. Special Offer: Stay 2 nights and receive an additional night free. Includes: Stay in a One Bedroom City View Apartment, room only basis.
Validity: Now ‘til April 30, 2014.
Burj Al Arab 1 night from USD815 per person. Special Offer: 33% discount on room rate and up to three kids (under 12) stay and eat free. Includes: Stay in a One Bedroom Deluxe Suite with breakfast daily and unlimited
access to Wild Wadi Waterpark. Validity: Now ‘til May 8, 2014.
Newly opened, this is the place to base yourself if you want to embark on a shopping spree while in Dubai – the hotel looks out to the biggest mall in the world.
You must stay at the world’s most luxurious hotel at least once while living in the UAE. This fantastic offers allows you bring the family, too.
Thailand Hotel Novotel Phuket Vintage Park Resort 3 nights starting from USD200 per person, or from USD1,175 per person including airfare. Special offer: 10% discount on room rate. Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Validity: April 16-October 31, 2014. One of the friendliest islands you can travel too, Novotel Phuket is the perfect place for a short break.
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Rob Arrow Why all eyes are fixed on Vietnam
Living in the UAE, we are often lucky to hear and experience the delights that much of South East Asia has to offer, but there is still a lot to explore in the region, some in limit, some off limit. However, one centrally located but often overlooked destination is Vietnam. It has to be one of the top places in the region to witness the convergence of the old and new, when you set foot in the country you will feel an energy, a youthful nation with a desire to modernise and commercialise like its neighbours, while making sure it holds on to its past traditions. This is why now is the time to be adventurous and think about a long weekend or extended break here. When you arrive in the stoic capital of Hanoi or the cosmopolitan Ho Chi Minh City, you will see mini Hong Kongs in the making, but with our assistance we will take you to the small streets and alleys, where you will see silversmiths still working their century old crafts and be amazed by stunning buildings and architecture that contrasts but leaves a better understanding of the legacy of the country’s royal past. Vietnam has a wealth of experiences to offer, from amazing city tours, taking in the culinary and cultural delights, to the unique experience of crawling through the Chu Chi tunnels. However, you must never miss a trip to the Mekong - I would suggest to take at least a few nights to sail on a junk on Halong Bay, and our supplier in the country owns two newly restored junks that could rival even the top luxury land hotels. Contact dnata now and let us arrange an amazing itinerary for you. Also this month I’ve selected a few of my favourite dnata offers (see right) to tempt you to travel, including one which affords you a great base from which to explore Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City. Check In
Fairmont Le Montreux Palace
Maldives Zitahli Resorts & Spa Kuda Funafaru 4 nights from USD1,435 per person, or from USD2,250 including airfare. Special Offer: Stay 2 nights and receive an additional 2 nights free plus a 35% discount on meal supplements when booking Half Board or Full Board. Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Beach Villa with breakfast daily and return seaplane transfers. Validity: August 1–September 30, 2014. If you are looking for something new, or if you want to come back from somewhere feeling new, then Zitahli is the resort to go to. Nestled amongst untouched reef, it promotes a new concept that’s simple yet luxurious, personalised yet private. All of this surrounded by the pristine clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Our offer allows you to spend twice as long at the resort without feeling the pinch financially, and thus you can indulge in the guilty pleasures of dining at the wonderful restaurant options. This truly is a hidden hideaway.
Switzerland Fairmont Le Montreux Palace 7 nights from USD1,825 per person, or from USD2,655 including airfare. Special offer: Stay 6 nights and receive an additional night free. Includes: Stay in a Fairmont Mountain View room with return transfers to and from Geneva airport. Validity: Now ‘til 31 December, 2014* * Black-out dates apply. The Fairmont Le Montreux Palace is situated on the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, overlooking the Alps. Built in 1906, this Jewel of Belle-Époque
architecture offers a traditional and elegant atmosphere, and a personalised and attentive service in true Swiss style. The hotel’s 235 rooms and suites are luxuriously furnished, offering both comfort and the latest technology.
UAE Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah 1 night from USD205 per person. Special Offer: 30% discount on room rate. Includes: Stay in a Classic Room with breakfast daily. Validity: Now ‘til 30 April, 2014. One of the most captivating beachfront destinations in the UAE has to be Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah. It offers a wide array of activities and amenities guaranteed to please the entire family. Refresh and unwind in one of the two enormous swimming pools, or soak up the sunshine on the white sands of the 350m private beach, set against the blue
April // 2014
Sail of the Century Three great getaways on the high seas
Zitahli Resorts & Spa Kuda Funafaru
Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah
water of the Arabian Gulf. Indulge at some wonderful restaurants and if youâ€™re a lover of steak then Lexington alone makes the trip here worthwhile.
Vietnam Asiana Saigon, An InterContinental City Hotel 2 nights from USD355 per person, or from USD1,120 including airfare. Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast daily, a half day city tour, Cu Chi tunnels tour and return airport transfers Validity: April 1-September 30, 2014. This five-star luxury hotel boasts 305 elegantly appointed rooms, 19 beautiful suites and a selection of divine treatments at Spa InterContinental, making it one of the best hotel options in Ho Chi Minh City. Additionally, the hotel is located in the city centre, just a short stroll to famous landmarks such as Notre Dame Cathedral and Saigon Opera House.
Costa Serena Magic of the Mediterranean 7 nights from USD519 per person Includes: Stay in an Inside Cabin on the Costa Serena with breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Routing: Departing/arriving from Savona, visiting La Spezia, Civitavecchia, Naples, Barcelona and Marseilles. Cruise dates: April 13, 20 & 27 or May 4, 11 & 18, 2014.
Costa neoRiviera Mediterranean Heart 11 nights from USD778 per person Includes: Stay in an Inside Cabin with breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Routing: Departing/arriving from Savona, visiting Toulon, Barcelona, Porto Empedocle, Valletta, Salerno and Livorno. Cruise dates: April 11 & 22 or May 14 & 15, 2014. Costa Magica The Magic of Italy 9 nights from USD818 per person Includes: Stay in an Inside Cabin with breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Routing: Departing/arriving from Istanbul, visiting Corfu, Venice, Bari, Olympia, Athens and Izmir. Cruise dates: July 12 & 22 August 1, 11, 21 & 31, 2014.
*Terms and conditions apply, subject to availability. For further enquiries, please contact email@example.com
Empire Aviation Group is a one-stop shop for integrated private aviation services, offering aircraft sales, aircraft management and Private Jet charters. T: + 971 4 299 8444 | www.empire.aero
April // 2014
Arabian Desert > For a desert escape
The areas on your doorstep are sometimes the most beautiful of all. There is much to see and do in the desert, like spectacular desert safaris which can be completed in 4x4s or, for a really authentic feel, on camel-back. Desert walks or bike treks can be undertaken for those of a fitness bent and cater to a variety of exercise levels from a gentle walk to a long-haul run. To truly be at one with nature, courses in falconry are available where youâ€™ll get up close and personal with the characterful birds of the desert.
Using Dubai as the hub, where should you spend those precious two days that seem to go so fast?
Where to stay Qasr Al Sarab by Anantara is world-renowned for its spa facilities and offers an unparalleled relaxation experience. Overlooking the evocative desert landscape, the pools and spas will leave you mesmerised and energised - and evangelising about the beauty of the desert.
April // 2014
2hrs, 41 mins
For a true taste of the region Qatar’s capital is the numberone spot to visit in order to understand more about the Arabic culture and history. The Museum of Islamic Art was designed by the architect of the pyramid at the Louvre, IM Pei, and is a postmodern fortress, which houses antique and priceless Islamic art collected over centuries. If you have time, venture 100 kilometres north of Doha to Qatar’s only World Heritage Site, the Al Zubarah Archaeological Site, a uniquely preserved town dating back to the 18th century.
For those in the know Azerbaijan’s capital city lies low – 28 metres below sea level, in fact, making it the lowest-lying capital in the world. Found on the eastern tip of Azerbaijan, the city is packed to the rafters with sights including Fountains Square, Shikhov Beach and Oil Rocks. It also has world-class museums like the Baku Museum of Modern Art and Azerbaijan State Museum of History, showcasing historical artifacts and local artworks.
Where to stay 28
Where to stay Taking inspiration from the mystique of the Middle East, St. Regis Doha offers butler service inside its majestic interiors. To get close to Doha’s nightlife, the W Hotel Doha in West Bay gets you right on the shopping, restaurant and beach scenes with 442 rooms and suites. Check In
Fitting in with the striking architecture dotted about the city is the Jumeirah Bilgah Beach Hotel, a supersized hotel overlooking the Caspian Sea. Opt for one of the 14 three-bedroom cottages. Not far from here is the Four Seasons Hotel Baku, a five-star city centre hotel with all the hallmarks of this luxury brand.
April // 2014
4hrs, 21 mins
For a food pilgrimage Dine like an Ottoman king with a tour of the Turkish capital’s foodie hangouts. Eating is a religion in this sunny city, and the food culture is one not taken lightly. Sample spiced breads on a street-food tour or jump on a ferry to Khalkedon to visit culinary boutiques. Or take our advice, and bag a table at Ciya Sofrasi where the kitchen – once little more than a humble kebab shop, now one of Turkey’s finest eateries – will welcome you with enough food to see you through to breakfast.
Where to stay Fed and full? Take a nap at the CVK Park Bosphorus Istanbul. Home to the largest terrace in Istanbul – ideal for soaking up views of the Bosphorus – the hotel was originally a mansion built in the late 19th century. Along the banks of the Bosphorus Strait you’ll find The Ritz-Carlton, Istanbul, a stunning hotel inspired by the Ottoman era.
Around 200 kilometres from the Greek mainland, Santorini was formed after an enormous volcanic explosion destroyed the settlements on an earlier island. An explosion in popularity has happened in recent years, with tourists drawn to the picturesque white houses, volcanic black-sand beaches and the beautiful Aegean Sea. A-listers like Angelina Jolie, Beyoncé and Kim Kardashian have all vacationed in the region. The volcano caldera, at the heart of the island, is the one thing you cannot miss on any trip to the idyllic island. But don’t get too close – the volcano is still active, if not particularly explosive.
Where to stay The azure waters and whitewashed buildings of Santorini are best captured from one of the 14 suites at Andronis Boutique Hotel in Oia, a pretty village known for its sunsets. This hospitality newcomer offers private pools, Jacuzzi’s and spectacular views of the caldera. Equally plush is the award-winning Katikies Hotel, home to 27 rooms and suites. Time to check in – preferably into the Katikies Suite.
JW MARRIOT T® MARQUIS DUBAI
Taking luxury to new heights. Located near some of Dubai’s best attractions, the JW Marriott ǡơ Ǥ 1,608 LUXURIOUS GUEST ROOMS 8 INCREDIBLE RESTAURANTS AND 6 BARS AND LOUNGES SUBLIME SARAY SPA AND HEALTH CLUB OVER 8,000 SQM OF INDOOR AND OUTDOOR EVENT SPACE Book your next stay now on jwmarriottmarquisdubai.com or call +971 4 414 0000
Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, United Arab Emirates, T +971 4 414 0000, F +971 4 414 0001 jwmarriottmarquisdubai.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
April // 2014
Swimming in the Dead Sea is something that everybody wants to do, but only a fraction actually makes it. Join the have-dones by visiting Amman. The centre of Amman is a maze of ancient souks of the downtown area which features the Temple of Hercules and the King Hussein Mosque. A 120 minute drive from the town centre will take you to the famous Dead Sea, where the above-average levels of salt in the water will allow you to float serenely without even needing a lilo – and it’s said the water has healing properties, too.
Paradise on earth sums up the Seychelles in three words. A trip to this otherworldly archipelago in the Indian Ocean can be anything you make it – a relaxing, romantic getaway or the snorkeling adventure of a lifetime, all in your own private and luxurious world. For lovers, pretty much anywhere you look could be the most romantic place you’ve ever seen, but the Vallée de Mai has been dubbed “the islands of love” and marriage proposals are more or less impossible to say no to – take note, gents.
Just 500 metres from the coast of Abu Dhabi, Saadiyat Island is a world away in terms of its atmosphere. Far from the bustling city, nature, culture and wildlife are the watchwords here. Planned around an environmentally sound philosophy, areas such as the Saadiyat Reserve are a haven for wildlife and cultivating the delicate ecosystem which includes dolphins and turtles. Saadiyat’s beach is an unspoilt, ninekilometre arc of diamondwhite sand that runs up to a turquoise sea that will envelop you in its lapping waves.
For the bucket list
For ultimate privacy
For getting back to nature
Where to stay Where to stay If the Dead Sea’s waters don’t do enough to relax you, the Crowne Plaza Jordan – Dead Sea Resort and Spa certainly will. A short stroll will take you to the sea’s promenade. InterContinental Amman is located high on one of the city’s seven hills, giving astounding views of the ancient city below.
When it comes to privacy, it doesn’t get more secluded than Desroches Island. Considered to be one of the most pristine and untouched islands still around today, you can choose from a selection of suites and villas at this privately owned resort. Of a similar (luxurious) ilk is North Island, a tropical retreat offering 11 breathtaking villas. The lush surrounds – think coconut palms and takamaka trees – and luminous white sands enhance the beauty of the island further.
Where to stay Contemporary design inside classic Mediterranean architecture will make you feel at home in the St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort. The hotel’s Iridium Spa customises each guest’s experience to maximise relaxation. Located right on the pristine beach, Park Hyatt Abu Dhabi Hotel & Villas has activities and adventures for kids as well as adults.
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Yas Island > For family fun
You could fill an entire magazine with brilliant family activities on Yas Island. Yas Waterworld is a world-leading water park with 43 rides, slides and attractions for the whole family. For younger ones, Disney Live! Mickey’s Music Festival is a riot. And if there are any petrol heads in the family, Ferrari World is a mustsee with rides, memorabilia and even a driving school for fans of the prancing horse. The Yas Marina Circuit is now a fixture on the F1 calendar, and worth seeing even if there’s no race scheduled.
Where to stay A jaw-dropping landmark in its own right, the Yas Viceroy Hotel is Abu Dhabi’s premier hotel. With 499 rooms and suites, not to mention 11 dining and lounge options, you could spend your entire trip here. The most convenient hotel is the Crowne Plaza, which is minutes’ walk from most of Yas Island’s attractions.
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Clockwise, from top left: Jing Asia, Crowne Plaza Yas Island; Yas Waterworld; Yas Marina Circuit; A suite at Radisson Blu Yas Island, Abu Dhabi; Ferrari World Abu Dhabi; Yas Links Golf Club.
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For an underwater adventure In the Maldives, everything looks like it belongs on a postcard. Beyond the lush tropical sands of the 26 atolls, what lies beneath the tranquil sea is an underwater paradise like no other. Scuba expeditions can be arranged for any budget and any group, from the smallest sculls to 26-metre superyachts. Inside a multitude of coral atolls, over 700 species of fish will greet you below the waves. Keep your eyes peeled for the awesome manta ray and ghostly reef shark, as well as countless multicoloured species of fish and invertebrates still to be classified.
For the great outdoors An up-and-coming tourism destination, Oman is being groomed to become the UAE’s premier tourist spot. From Muscat’s thrilling theme and water parks to diving and rock climbing, Oman has a variety of outdoor activities to turn your hand to. The Oman coastline is over 1,600-kilometre long, and has a wealth of flora and marine life to discover. Around 3,000 metres of mountains surround the area which are ideal for hiking and rock climbing tours. For an offbeat sport, camel racing offers thrills and excitement as the jockeys compete for first place.
Where to stay Where to stay Ticking every box in the Maldives must-have list is Beach House Irevuli. Infinity pools overlooking the azure sea, gorgeous spas and huts on stilts – it’s got everything. For an amazingly secluded getaway, Jumeirah Dhevanafushi offers private suites complete with their own beach or garden, and the stunning views to match.
Found where the Al Hajar Mountains meet the Gulf of Oman, The Chedi Muscat Hotel sits within a 21-acre garden oasis which includes a 13-suit Balinese spa. The palatial Al Husn, an exclusive castle at Muscat’s Shangri-La is the perfect reward after an active day.
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For the all-nighters
For a walk on the wild side
For a weekend of metropolitan cool that you aren’t likely to forget in a hurry, Beirut is the place you want to tell people you’ve been for a night out. Local Beirutis have a reputation for being friendly and outgoing, and you only have to walk five minutes in any direction in the young neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye before hearing the sounds of a celebration – Beirut has already taken Berlin’s crown for hard partying, and you’ll find that you can squeeze a lot into a short space of time – simply by not going to bed.
Take your chance to catch ‘The Big Five’ (elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo, lion and leopard, as if you didn’t know) in their stunning natural habitat. No other location in the world has such an exciting amount of wildlife to discover. There are myriad safari companies that can accommodate all kinds of trips, from private jeep tours to overnight stays on the plains. The south and west coasts of Kenya are often overlooked tropical paradises where monkeys play among the palm trees and brightly coloured birds flock along the golden beaches.
Where to stay Start your weekend of excess at Le Gray, a contemporary hotel in Beirut’s central district. The city’s pretty people hang out – and check in – here. Pick the corner suite for city views. Near the Corniche Beirut you’ll find hospitality stalwart the Phoenicia Hotel. Unbelievably chic – the hotel underwent a major facelift in 2000 – book the penthouse suite.
Where to stay The Safari Collection offers the most memorable accommodation in East Africa. Giraffe Manor is the only hotel in the world where you can eat breakfast with a giraffe (they poke their heads in through the window) while Sala’s Camp has beautiful views over the Sand River towards the Serengeti.
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4hrs, 37 mins
< Sri Lanka
For riding the waves If you want a surf trip, Sri Lanka might not be at the top of your list – but don’t be too hasty, because it’s earning a reputation as the hottest “place you don’t know about” on the globe. The whole south coast of the region is ripe for hanging ten, and the locals will know where the best surf is to be had – it may not be the most reliable place to land decent sized swells, but catch the ocean on a good day and you’ll be catching waves to make Hawaii jealous.
Where to stay With your surfboard and kite packed away, rest your head at The Fortress Resort & Spa – a stunning property sited on the south coast near Galle. Its imposing castle-like exterior is poles apart from the tranquil retreat inside. Up the west coast in Negombo you’ll find Jetwing Beach. Designed by Sri Lankan architect Geoffrey Bawa, this five-star hotel combines local culture with sophisticated décor fittingly.
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MIAMI NICE Television host and girl-about-town Suzy Buckley Woodward reveals Miamiâ€™s hippest haunts, from new openings to all-time hotspots
United States of America
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Old favourite: IL GABBI A NO People assume there’s more scenic fine dining on Miami’s waterfront than there actually is. Il Gabbiano - owned by the brothers who founded new York’s famous Il Mulino in 1981 - offers the best views and the most delicious Italian food. Everyone from Jennifer Aniston to Sir Michael Caine agrees - they’ve dined here multiple times (no, not together). Try not to fill up on the fried zucchini and garlicky bruschetta that appears on the table as soon as you sit down, because dishes like the porcini mushroom ravioli in a Champagne and black truffle sauce are so good you’ll want to lick your plate clean. ilgabbianomia.com
New Kid on the block: THE JUICE SPOT It’s bathing-suit season here 365 days a year, which is perhaps why it’s a see-andbe-seen scene at the myriad juice bars in Miami. Gaggles of svelte Lululemon-clad ladies grab cold-pressed organic green juices together after their work-outs. The latest hotspot for juice junkies? The Juice Spot off Brickell Avenue in Downtown Miami. It was opened by Savannah James, wife of one of the city’s most famous residents, the Miami Heat basketball player LeBron James. Here you’ll find nutrientand enzyme-rich fresh liquid concoctions of apple, carrot and beetroot juices, as well as smoothies and healthy snacks like açaí and oatmeal bowls. Customers have access to iPads on the tables and strong Wi-Fi. Since day one, it’s been packed with James’s friends and supporters (hubby LeBron, Kim Kardashian’s chum Jonathan Cheban, Angela Simmons...). Besides the juice, they do gourmet espresso, so you’ll only have to make one morning stop. thejuicespotmiami.com
Old favourite: CALLE OCHO
When I have out-of-town guests, they’re always curious about the Cuban neighbourhood they’ve heard so much about from food and travel shows on television, namely Little Havana’s Calle Ocho (Southwest 8th St). There are several iconic destinations worth checking out here: Versailles restaurant for authentic Cuban coffee and pastelitos (pastries); Hoy Como Ayer for dancing; Cava Mia for flamenco shows; El Credito for cigars; Azucar for ice cream. But go on the last Friday night of any month at 7pm for the ultimate Cuban-American experience. Viernes Culturales, or ‘Cultural Fridays’ (on Southwest 8th St, between 13th and United States of America
17th Ave), are really just giant street parties with Latin flair, featuring live music, domino games, dancing, art shows and more. viernesculturales.org
New kid on the block: PÉREZ ART MUSEUM MI A MI Miami’s already renowned for hosting one of the world’s most glamorous art fairs, Art Basel Miami Beach, and the new PAMM will rack up the city’s creative kudos even further. Named after the billionaire real-estate developer Jorge Pérez, who donated some US$40 million in art and cash, the museum, which cost a cool US$223 million to create, opened with a spectacular exhibition of photography and sculpture by the renowned Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. Look out for the Imagined Landscapes exhibition by one of Miami’s best artists, Edouard Duval-Carrié. His large-scale paintings and sculptures executed in black and silver glitter will be shown till the end of August. When you’re done with the art, aim for the delicious on-site waterfront bistro, Verde - US magazine Bon Appetit’s ‘restaurateur of the year’, Stephen Starr, is behind it. pamm.org
Old favourite: THE BILTMORE HOTEL Miami’s hotel scene is far too good to leave to visitors. Plan to spend time at the 88-year-old Biltmore Hotel (over the years it’s played host to everyone from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor to Ginger Rogers) - there’s so much to do. Besides taking advantage of the fine dining by Michelin-starred chef Gregory Pugin at Palme d’Or, the fabulous spa and 2,136sqm pool (some say it’s the largest hotel pool in the US), you can have tango lessons there, play pétanque and indulge in one of its famous Sunday brunch buffets. biltmorehotel.com
New kid on the block: BARRY ’S BOOTCA MP In January, South Beach finally got its own Barry’s Bootcamp, the ‘1,000-calorie workout’ that’s already a hit in locations from LA to London. As at the UK branch - which has trained Lily Allen, Ellie Goulding and Princess Beatrice - the Miami classes are packed with a very sweaty who’s who of Miami. Barry’s chalks up its effectiveness to interval training: half the class consists of cardio
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Opening page: Miami Beach Coast, Florida. Opposite page: The Biltmore Hotel. This page clockwise from top: Flamenco dancers; Woman exercising; Art Basel Miami Beach 2013; Sushi at The Biltmore Hotel.
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on a treadmill; the rest incorporates hardcore squats, biceps curls, sit-ups, lunges and more. Thankfully, the trainers (including Derek DeGrazio, who whipped Britney Spears into shape for her Femme Fatale tour) are more ‘can do!’ than ‘tenhut!’, so you’ll walk away feeling good about yourself. barrysbootcamp.com
Old favourite: CASA TUA This impossibly romantic restaurant, small hotel, bar and club opened in 2002. The owners (Miky and Leticia Grendene) have succeeded in creating a place where they and their friends truly want to spend time. The historic two-floor building (c.1925) is elegant yet casual: you’ll feel equally happy in suit or jeans. The restaurant serves fine Northern Italian cuisine, and there’s always lovely music and beautiful details (flowers floating in water in glass vases, scented candles). Regular events include weekly karaoke nights (I’ll never forget the time Lenny Kravitz walked out in the middle of my rendition of Walk on the Wild Side. Crushing!). casatualifestyle.com
New kid on the block: LIPPI After knocking it out of the park with his Biscayne Boulevard outpost of the international culinary sensation Zuma, the restaurateur Tunu Puri recently opened another Miami restaurant, Lippi. He snagged the acclaimed chef Philippe Ruiz from The Biltmore Hotel, which made the locals take notice. These days, it’s on everyone’s hit list for power lunches and splurge dinners. The Mediterranean menu is seafood-heavy (langoustine a la plancha, ceviche, black cod), plus a little bit of everything else (the wagyu beef and truffled scrambled eggs are the biz). Puri’s third Miami venture, an outpost of London’s popular Coya, opens up along the street later this year. lippirestaurants. com
Old favourite: THE W EBSTER
This three-floor fashion emporium is Miami’s answer to Colette in Paris or Milan’s 10 Corso Como. Owner/buyer Laure Heriard Dubreuil sells Chanel, Valentino and Lanvin alongside emerging designers such as Tori Praver and Del Toro, and regularly hosts some of the most fashionable parties in town. Stars including Katy Perry and Kim Kardashian have dropped thousands of dollars at a time on shoes, clothes and jewellery. Their end-of-season sales (around June and February) are legendary - try to be first in line. thewebstermiami.com United States of America
This page: Ravioli with mushrooms on plate; The Biltmore Hotel. Next page: The Webster; A woman receiving a face spa therapy; 1100 Lincoln Road.
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New kid on the block: THE REDBURY Hollywood hospitality hotshot Sam Nazarian just debuted his first Redbury hotel concept outside of Hollywood - right across from the SLS South Beach hotel he opened in 2012. It has 69 rooms, with a glitzy, mid-century modern/Rat Pack feel: Frank, Dean and Sammy would have dug the record players and vinyl collections in every room. There’s a 1,115sqm rooftop pool and party space, and chef Tony Mantuano (of Chicago’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia, Obama’s favourite restaurant) is at the helm of the hotel’s Italian eatery, Lorenzo. theredbury.com/southbeach
Old favourite: EXH ALE SPA Ever since the Miami outpost of Exhale Spa opened at the Epic hotel in 2010, it’s been considered the loveliest and most comfortable spa in town. Await your treatment lying on hot marble slabs in the steamy, detoxifying hammam, then sip delicious tea in the dimly lit relaxation room. Exhale’s offerings range from acupuncture, reiki and cupping, to manis and waxing, to exceptionally effective massages and facials. Book José Sarazen, for a strong deeptissue massage, followed by an hourlong facial by Shakira’s go-to girl for facials, Shareese Logan. Ask for the ‘Illuminate’, which uses rosemary, honey, algae and citrus to purify pores, enhance collagen and prompt proof-of-age requests at South Beach’s nightclubs. exhalespa.com
New kid on the block: SE ASALT & PEPPER Until Seasalt and Pepper opened last December, waterfront dining on the Miami River had been limited to a few very casual seafood joints. You’ll fall in love with this elegant indooroutdoor brasserie, which was outfitted by Miami’s king of whimsical hospitality design, Stephane Dupoux. During the city’s annual art fair, Art Basel Miami Beach, you could run into rock ‘n’ roll royalty there - Steven Tyler and his three daughters, Liv, Mia and Chelsea, were spotted happily dining on seafood casserole, lobster risotto and grass-fed rib-eye amid flickering candlelight and stunning views of the river. seasaltandpepper.com
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Perched on the coast of the Adriatic sea, the Town of Hvar on Hvar Island is one of the northernmost parts of the country. The 13th century architecture of Hvar can be viewed high above the sea from the 16th century Fortress (Fortica). Wander the main square or the cobbled streets, or take a swim on one of the numerous beaches.
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A troupe of Jewish dancers in a public square in the town of Hvar. The town is known for its raucous, late-night parties as much as its 13th century architecture and city walls. The well-heeled mix with the young and fancy-free in an eclectic mix of locals and tourists. The streets are traffic-free, which makes the town perfect for those that prefer to walk.
The Plitvice Lakes National Park is the oldest national park in South East Europe, and the largest in Croatia. Unique to Plivice are the lakes arranged in cascades, criss-crossed with boardwalks to allow stunning views. The 16 lakes of the park are famous for their variety of colours, across the entire spectrum of green, blue and grey.
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Diocletianâ€™s Palace was built by the Roman emporor Diocletian as a retirement home for himself, in the year 305 AD. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the site lay empty for many centuries. Today, shops and restaurants can be found within its walls, and the imposing structure has been used as a location in HBOâ€™s series A Game of Thrones.
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Dubrovnik is a must-visit on any trip to Croatia. Its Old Town houses the venerable Cathedral, built by Richard the Lionheart after washing up there following a shipwreck on his return from the crusades in 1192. Tranquil Lokrum Island (in the background) is reachable by boat, and is ideal for swimming, picnics, nature trails and hiking.
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This page: Gondola in a canal. Next page clockwise from left: Campanile and gondola on canal; St Markâ€™s Square; Pumpkin and prawn risotto; Gondolas parked on the Grand Canal.
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Going, going GONDOLA Want to experience more of Venice? See a whole new side of the city - from sea level, on a kayak tour along its backwaters, says Jeremy Lazell
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here’s nothing new about city kayak tours - from San Francisco to Sydney, they’re spattering the tourist map like surf on a spraydeck. But kayaking in Venice? Obviously, there’s a slight worry about gondolas and drains, but while one half of me frets about them, the other half thinks ‘kayaking in Venice!’ and books himself a flight. It’s only when I arrive I realise what I’ve let myself in for. I join a group of six Danes, meeting up at San Nicolò campsite on the Lido, summer home to Venice Kayak owner/ guide René Seindal. The Cipriani it is not, but the campsite hums with lively, arty Euro-flair. I get chatting to one delegate over breakfast brioches. ‘Katharine Hepburn went blind after falling into the canal,’ she chirrups gaily. ‘Truly – you are kayaking in this?’ I’m about to answer when suddenly, silently, a cruise ship looms in along the Grand Canal. It’s monstrous: birds cry out in the sudden shadow of its prow. Somewhere, I’m sure, a child is scooped up by its mother and bundled inside. ‘Mio Dio,’ murmurs the delegate. Mio Dio’s right. The plan for the week is a mixture of half-and all-day excursions weaving through the canals, as well as out across the lagoon to the outlying islands of Murano and Burano. On paper,
The tide tugs at our kayaks, luring us away from the herd and out towards the open sea
wonderful. In reality, with cruise ships and river blindness suddenly part of the picture, it’s daunting. All too soon the brioches are done: time to go. We ‘put in’ by the campsite itself, shinning down a ladder, leaping onto an inflatable pontoon, slipping into our kayaks like tuxed-up Daniel Craigs. At least, René does. For the rest of us, it’s more like It’s a Knockout, the pontoon floaty and feckless beneath our struggling limbs. Eventually – and I mean eventually – we are all in, fumbling with our waterproofs, bobbing in the wake of passing vaporetti, busily ignoring the inner voices as the tide tugs at our kayaks, luring us away from the herd and out towards the open sea. We head across the lagoon towards the distant belltower of St Mark’s, René rounding up stragglers with the furrowed brow of a man thinking lawsuits and emergency rescues. Stopping in front Italy
Gondolas are to Venice what yellow cabs are to New York, or rickshaws to Beijing. First used around the year 1500, they were originally known as “gondulams” - derived from the latin “cymbula” which means “ little boat” Images of gondolas can be found in the paintings of Carpaccio and Bellini. The iron “ ferro” on
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the prow of the boats have significance. They are roughly in the shape of an S, to represent the shape of the Grand Canal. The six teeth in the front represent Venice’s six quarters, and the large arch on the top refers to the Rialto, Venice’s most famous bridge. The rear-facing tooth represents the Giudecca Canal.
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of the magnificent, domed Dogana, the grandeur of the old customs house is suddenly secondary to the task now confronting us: we have to cross the Grand Canal. A vaporetto churns past. Not one person on board is smiling. We set off, ridiculous video-game frogs dodging motorway lorries. But we get there, and slowly, perceptibly, the spectre of splatted menace melts away in the late-summer sun, the beauty of St Mark’s ours to soak up from our exclusive, watery perch. It’s preposterously delightful, a stage-set of Byzantine cupolas and arches, the stain from centuries of damp rising dark and visceral from its ancient depths. Drifting past St Mark’s, waving to the land-bound masses in their testy, jostling packs, we turn off the Grand Canal under a bridge and into Rio di Palazzo. We are in the canals. How to describe the next 90 minutes? For one thing, it really doesn’t smell. Granted, there’s one short section on Rio dei Fuseri that has me wondering if Fuseri isn’t perhaps Italian for ‘May Contain Traces of Raw Effluent’, but everywhere else, the water is absolutely fine. In fact, it is better than fine: Byron stalked these quiet backwaters, avoiding husbands and debt-collectors; and
It’s preposterously delightful, a stage-set of Byzantine cupolas and arches
Canaletto, Titian and Turner all dipped a brush in these very waters. Now, with the Adriatic dripping down your arms, the brickwork crumbling against your fingertips as you stop to let a gondola go past, you’re unavoidably, thrillingly part of it all. Paddling silently along one particularly plump, echoey, drip-drop passage not a million paddle-strokes from the Gritti Palace, I glide past a head-high ledge and come face to face with a rat, our eyes catching for a bizarre, measureless eternity. But is it actually better than moseying around by foot? Well, the gondolas do put a dampener on things. Not that they’re dangerous: they’re just better than us. They’re dark and sexy and ancient. We’re brightly coloured and plastic. No-one says anything, but I can’t help thinking they hate us. We get in the way, we undermine their function. We are an affront to nearly 10 centuries of tradition. What’s not to hate? Consequently, we stop-start around the canals like children at a grown-up’s party, heads down, gaze averted, minding our p’s and q’s so we won’t get noticed Italy
and sent upstairs to bed. ‘Do you need a licence to do this?’ I ask René. ‘So far, no,’ he says, the chuckle that follows speaking volumes of disbelief. There’s also the minor - but actually quite irritating - issue of Wet Bum Syndrome, as someone in the group christens it. It sounds a small price to pay, but stopping at Campo San Barnaba for lunch (where Hepburn fell in while filming Summertime), it’s only the ridiculous beauty of the place, the sheer filmic fabulousness of what we’ve done to get here, that stops me having a Hollywood strop all of my own. Still, no amount of (mild) discomfort or (imagined) danger can ruin this: it’s every bit the sensuous, private tour of Venice I had hoped for. Back into the canals for a night-paddle at the end of day one, I glide past an open window and just catch sight of a vast signora, gesticulating wildly to someone unseen across the room, cackling hard. Wet bum, dry bum, it’s hard to mind either way. This is how Venice should be seen. Next day, we paddle north across the
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Opposite page from top: An elderly resident of Burano; Venetian seafood; Burano bike. This page: Burano, Venice.
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vast openness of the lagoon to the island of Burano, a prettier, quieter, Venice-lite version of St Mark’s, marooned some 10 kilometres northeast of the city. It takes two hours, with only the odd egret to interrupt the slow, plodding passage towards the island’s many-coloured houses and wonky clocktower. And yet, with no gondolas to worry about, this becomes a wonderfully slow, utterly meditative march measured out in the tide-whittled wooden marker posts that litter the lagoon like washed-up whale ribs. Reaching Burano, emerging from the reeds at the tip of Sant’ Erasmo and entering a canal right below the campanile we’ve been working towards from so far away, the palpable sense of discovery makes back-slapping comrades of us all. And so the days pass. Paddle. Eat. Wander. Murano, Torcello, back in once more exploring the canals of San Marco. It’s an idyllic, almost shockingly serene agenda. Later in the week on Murano, watching a vaporetto disgorge its cargo of grey-flannel Brits and fanny-packed Americans, it’s impossible not to feel superior. And utterly relieved. Just how utterly relieved I discover only after I’ve said goodbye to René at the end of my week, and have boarded a vaporetto for the station. I’ve looked forward to this. A last hurrah down the Grand Canal, maybe get some nice photos. It’s horrendous. Herded in like cattle, we’re packed in so tight I can all but taste last night’s Cognac on the breath of the bloke beside me. Somewhere behind, an Aussie backpacker starts baaing like a sheep. People chuckle, someone sighs, then suddenly, above the general hum, a Brit starts shouting and waving his arms. ‘Pickpocket!’ he screams. ‘Help, I’ve been robbed!’ We stop, a man is bundled off, and we clatter on up the Grand Canal, the stink of diesel washing through me like disappointment. Over a shoulder, through the wall of heads, I briefly spot the Gritti Palace, and think of René. He’s out there somewhere, paddling quietly along. If I could only get to the edge of this bloody boat, I swear I’d jump in and find him. Italy
Text by: Amanda Hyde Photography supplied by: Corbis / Arabian Eye
This page from top: Woman in doorway wearing Carnival mask and costume; Gondolier in Venice; Detail of man playing double bass. Opposite page: Church of Santa Maria della Salute.
WHERE TO STAY For true Venetian glamour, the Bauer Il Palazzo combines luxury suites with amazing convenience, right in the heart of the city. It even has a private boat landing on the Grand Canal, dropping you right to your door after a day on the water. The Hilton Molini Stucky Hotel has its own rooftop swimming pool, overlooking Venice’s stunning network of waterways.
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6 other great ways to see Venice from the water
Fancy yourself as an oarsman? You’ll master the art of the gondolier during a lesson with Row Venice (rowvenice.com), learning basic strokes on one of the larger canals, before honing your steering along narrow side routes. It’s heart-in-the-mouth stuff, but imagine the photos...
It’s far cheaper and more romantic to stay on a Venice houseboat than in one of the city’s hotels. Wake up to dawn on the water, and spend your days on the sundeck, admiring palace views, punctuated by whizzing vaporetti. Houseboats Venice (venicehouseboats.com) is a great place to start.
3. Boat trips don’t come prettier than the ferry to the little islands of Murano and Burano. Sail off on the No.4.2 from St Mark’s Square, past the Lido, and soon you’ll arrive at the glass-making island of Murano, where canals are lined with candy-coloured terraces. See actv.it for info.
4. For an insider’s ferry ride, hop on the No.13 for a jaunt to the gorgeously green island of Vignole and spaghetti alla vongole like you’ve never tasted. Eat among the long tables of gossiping families on Trattoria alle Vignole’s terrace.
5. There are no postcard shops or tourist-trap restaurants in Pellestrina, near the Lido. The inhabitants of this sleepy, pastel-painted strip still make a living from fishing. See the town’s secret corners on a tour (ilbra gozzo.it) to the lesser-visited parts of the lagoon, by traditional boat or vintage water-taxi.
6. There’s an even crazier way to tour the canals: aboard a floating bicycle. Attached to twin catamaran-type inflatables, these do big business. Abercrombie & Kent (abercrombiekent.com) has some great options.
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Ibiza is known primarily for its hedonistic nightlife, but Simon Hughes discovers a much softer side to the Balearic island, and some surprisingly beautiful â€“ and tranquil â€“ corners in which to relax
April // 2014
April // 2014
t is easy to develop misconceptions about Ibiza. Dubbed the undisputed party capital of the world, the island is often used as a byword for excess. So it was with some trepidation that I first set foot on Ibizan soil. Despite the promises in the hotel brochure of a more refined experience, I was still expecting to have my senses assaulted by thumping music and hordes of overexcited partygoers, to be confronted by the stench of fried food and to be unable to see the sea because of all the great lumps of concrete masquerading as hotels hugging the coastline. And, in order to escape all this, I was also bracing myself for an interminable journey on meandering roads stuck behind a succession of hired Seats, each occupied by bewildered drivers all trying to find the same strip of already overcrowded beach using badly drawn, misleading local maps. I was right about one thing. The maps are badly drawn and misleading. Perhaps this is a prerogative of a holiday island to ensure visitors have trouble finding the good places, allowing the locals to get there first and bag the best spots. But in every other way my preconceptions were way off beam. With a job (covering cricket) that follows the sun, I have spent the past 20 years inadvertently searching for the best beach in the world. Somewhere that had everything. A pretty cove that had reliable weather and iridescent, safe, crystalclear sea and powdery sand, which had Ibiza
some shade but was not overlooked by apartment blocks or overrun by hawkers, or lads on jet skis, or people in general, where you could sidle barefoot into a simple, airy café selling interesting food and local wine and later stroll along the beach to the headland to watch the sun go down. I have tried all the obvious places: France (too crowded), Italy (too expensive), South Africa (too many sharks), Australia, Greece, the Caribbean, Portugal, New Zealand, Thailand, Sri Lanka. I could go on. And then… a blissfully easy drive from Ibiza airport, I found it. Within five minutes of leaving the airport you are driving alongside low, bush-clad hills and glinting salt lakes with few other cars, and within 10 minutes you are parking under conveniently located wooden awnings and emerging through tall trees on to a beautiful curving swathe of sand lapped by calm blue water. This is Playa des Salinas. It was quiet at 10am. The sun loungers with little parasols were mostly unoccupied (the day doesn’t really kick into life in Ibiza until midday at the earliest); there were a few kids paddling with their dads and several couples stretched out, but otherwise the place felt private and a bit of a discovery. The air was already warm, a gentle breeze with a hint of citrus wafted across the beach. It had a very laid-back atmosphere. A casually-dressed waiter from the nearby chiringuito food stall sidled between the sunbathers offering coffee and snacks but without heavy persuasion. There was no
Opening page: Cala D’Hort Beach and Es Vedra Island. This page, from top left: Sunset view from Ibiza island; Calamari fritti, Ibiza Town; Boats off Cala Comte.
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Ibiza has an indigenous type of dog, known, surprisingly enough, as the Ibizan Hound. Active and intelligent, the Ibizan Hound is the pet of choice for many locals due to its engaging and energetic yet friendly nature. You’ ll recognise an Ibizan Hound by its large, upright ears and rangy frame, reminiscent of a greyhound crossed with a collie. They’re also renowned for longevity, and rarely suffer any hereditery illnesses.
one pestering you to buy anything. The beach sloped gently into beautifully warm, clean water; within 60ft it was waist deep. A bit further out the view across the bay and round the low, rocky headland was idyllic. At the back of the beach, merging with the trees, is an opensided restaurant of timber construction: the Jockey Club. I have never eaten such delicious food in an informal beach environment before. While I went for chillied calamari, my girlfriend opted for the tuna and mango salad which was incredibly fresh and zingy – especially washed down with sangria. We returned twice. The food was always light and scrumptious – just what you want during a shady break from the beach. The restaurant is also a superb spot for people watching as the younger contingent gradually materialises after a heady night to be revitalised by some low-level, cool beats from the resident DJ. Even when it is quite crowded, the Playa des Salinas has a relaxed vibe. You will not see or hear a car, jet ski or tattooed Aston Villa supporter. Just kindred spirits drinking in the warm air and gazing out at the glistening sea. It’s a happy place. OK, a word of warning. The music, unobtrusive at lunchtime, does increase in volume as the afternoon wears on – though it’s never overpowering. It gets busy about threeish, so that might be the moment to stroll beyond the beach across rocky outcrops, through trees and past little coves of frolicking families, round the headland to El Cavallet, a longer beach backed by dunes with very calm water and a divine open-plan restaurant with white leather sofas and incredibly delicious salads. We stayed at the Hostal Salinas, five minutes’ walk from Salinas beach. There are many smart hotels on the island, ranging from luxurious spas to rustic converted fincas, but most are pricey, and none is quite so convenient. This is a low-level building partly hidden behind a wall that describes itself as a boutique hotel. If that is a euphemism for small and more expensive than it looks, that would be right. But in fact it is perfect. With all that Playa des Salinas has to offer, you could spend several blissful days here: it would be that unique thing, an excellent holiday barely 10 minutes from an international airport (which you can’t hear or see). But the great thing about Ibiza is its variety and accessibility – you can get everywhere within about half an hour. Fifteen minutes to the west is the sweet, secluded Cala d’Hort, a small sandy beach looking out at a huge monolith in the sea – Es Boldado – where local families mingle with the odd tourist and you can sit at wooden tables with your feet in the sand
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and eat good tapas. A little further round to the west is the gorgeous Cala Comte, a slightly rockier beach attracting a younger crowd stretched out on pockets of sand or eating in a round, open-sided clifftop bar with spectacular views of the sun going down. On the other side of the island up in the north-east is my other favourite beach, S’Aigo Blanca. You park at the top of a
WHERE TO STAY Me Ibiza Hotel‘s modern and chic cool make it the perfect rest spot after a day’s sightseeing or a night’s partying. In Ibiza Old Town, the Mirador De Dalt Vila offers a luxurious stay with private spas and glamorously appointed rooms - no afterparties here.
This page from top: Pacha Ibiza; View of the city from the fisherman’s harbour; Finca, Cala of the Jondal. Ibiza
very steep hill and descend down the road until you reach a narrow strip of orange sand backed by red cliffs. There are sun loungers, a simple restaurant serving mainly pizzas or mussels and a large rock to swim out to and sit on. The rich variety of restaurants on Ibiza may surprise you too. At Aura, in the middle of the island, you sit outside in a secluded, fairy-lit courtyard with cicadas clicking in the trees and eat melt-inyour-mouth beef carpaccio and fantastic seafood. In the cool, luxurious, Bedouinstyle KM5, a bar-restaurant under stylish layered canvas close to Ibiza Town, the food is more eclectic, including Thaibaked fish and other Asian delicacies. In the romantic setting at Les Terrasses, an old finca in the hills which has great rooms, you sit among twinkly-lit citrus and olive trees and the chef does amazing things with lamb and couscous. And then there is Pacha. Look, even if people tell you you’re too old for clubbing, you have to go. It is exorbitant to get in but it’s worth it, not least for the experience of standing on the balcony overlooking the main floor watching people go mental as the music is cranked up. If the average English youth put this amount of energy into their work, the UK economy would be in better shape. But the great thing about Pacha, like Ibiza in general, is that there is always somewhere (relatively) quiet you can escape to – in Pacha’s case a huge open-air area with comfy seats and various chill-out spaces where the music is a good deal less overwhelming, and the food is surprisingly good, too. Overall, I was absolutely stunned by the quality and variety of Ibiza. I can’t wait to go back and wouldn’t hesitate to take my children for a family holiday. And, contrary to common belief, you don’t need another holiday straight afterwards to recover from it.
Text by: Simon Hughes Photography supplied by: Corbis / Arabian Eye; Supplied
The air was already warm, a gentle breeze with a hint of citrus wafted across the beach
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Concierge Inside Information
Swiss bliss Where health and hospitality collide Feel like you need a health overhaul? Clinique La Prairie, one of the world’s most exclusive medical spas, has relaunched following a year-long renovation. Nestled between the snowcapped peaks of the Swiss Alps and the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the new 1600-square-metre spa complex includes sleek treatment rooms with high-tech machines, a wet zone with ice waterfalls and hammams, as well as dreamy relaxation suites. Guests choose from a handful of week-long programmes that combine wellness and relaxation with medical and technological know-how – we’ll be signing up for the rebalancing programme, which promises to restore harmony to both body and mind. laprairie.ch
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Vida Downtown Hotel, Dubai
Something for the Weekend
THE BIG THREE Your new plan for this weekend is below… Anantara Sir Bani Yas Al Sahel Villas, Abu Dhabi 1 night from USD230 per person.* Special Offer: 35% discount on room rate. Includes: Stay in a One Bedroom Villa with breakfast daily. Validity: March 1-April 30, 2014. *No children in the room – maximum occupancy 2 adults Doubletree by Hilton Resort & Spa Marjaan Island, Ras Al Khaimah 1 night from USD135 per person. Special Offer: Complimentary upgrade to All Inclusive for two adults. Includes: Stay in a Guest Room with breakfast daily. Validity: March 1-April 30, 2014.
What is this place contemporary or traditional?
Handy. What’s for dinner after the work is done?
It’s a bit of both. The hotel itself is very chic, with an ultramodern pool and deck area, and stylish suites. Downtown Dubai at large, though, is a melting pot of the sleek Burj Khalifa and The Dubai Mall, and the fauxancient souks around which the city was built.
We’d recommend TOKO Dubai, a fresh and modern ‘izakaya’ dining style (sushi to you and me). Think Japanese food done in the most appetising way possible. If you’re more into European cuisine, La Serre Bistro and Boulangerie is an authentic Parisian deli downstairs – serving fresh bread, salads and more – and brilliant restaurant upstairs.
Something for everyone. I’ve got some work to do, though… The ground floor of Vida Downtown has four large meeting rooms, which can be combined to create a space big enough for any corporate event. State of the art technologies make use of the complimentary Wi-Fi.
I’m knackered. What’s the best room in the house? The Premier Suite gives you a whopping 90 metre squared of urban living space, decorated in classy greys and blacks. You can get your head down on the king-sized bed.
St. Regis Abu Dhabi 1 night from USD130 per person. Special Offer: 38% discount on room rate. Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast daily plus unlimited access to Nation Riviera Private Beach Club. Validity: March 1–April 30, 2014. Subject to availability, a supplement may be applied to bookings covering the Easter period. Book by calling dnata on +971 4 316 6666.
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Discover Dubai from above with these brilliant airborne activities…
Hot air ballooning
Helicopter joy flight
Best for… romantics We can’t think of a better way to start the day than floating over Dubai’s majestic desert by hot air balloon. To catch sunrise, the adventure starts early with a 4.30am pick-up. Then Balloon Adventures Emirates will whisk you away to the launch site on the Al Ain highway, about 30 minutes drive from the Burj Khalifa and next door to the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. After clambering into the basket (opt for trousers, ladies), you’ll slowly head skywards as dawn breaks, revealing a magical landscape of glowing red sand dunes and emerald green oases (look out for gazelle and oryx). Actual flight time is about one hour, with daily flights from September to May. Who needs a lie-in? ballooning.ae
Best for… luxury lovers Want to feel really flash? Take to the skies in a chopper during a joy flight over the city and coast. Departing from the Atlantis, The Palm helipad, you’ll hover above the Arabian Gulf and past The Palm, before heading inland to fly over the city (try not to feel too smug as you look down at the traffic-clogged streets) and cruise past the world’s tallest building. Choose from a 15 or 25-minute flight, and treat yourself to an Atlantis mini-break to boot. Either way, a taxi just won’t cut it again. Flights take off every day throughout the year, as long as the weather plays ball. atlantisthepalm.com
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Sky-high haunts Got a head for heights? Check out the views from these top spots At.mosphere On Level 122 of the towering Burj Khalifa, this fine dining restaurant is officially the world’s highest. While the view is pretty spectacular, the seasonal menu of contemporary classics is even better. atmosphereburjkhalifa.com JW Marriott Marquis Dubai This landmark hotel is like a mini-city in itself, with 14 restaurants, bars and lounges to explore, as well as a sublime spa to shake off the stresses of the Sheikh Zayed Road. marriott.com
Best for… thrill-seekers Voluntarily jumping out of a perfectly good plane may sound heartstoppingly mad, but the amazing birds’ eye views of the city are definitely worth scaring yourself silly. Skydive Dubai operates tandem jumps – where you’re harnessed to an instructor – from their base at Dubai Marina. After reaching 15,000 feet, you’ll both inch towards the plane door and then free fall at around 200km/h above Palm Jumeirah, before the parachute opens (phew!) and you drift peacefully back to earth. And the best bit? Your wobbly cheeks and terrified screams will be captured on video, providing plenty of post-jump laughs at your expense. Open from September to May, from 10am until sunset. skydivedubai.ae
Best for… sightseeing Soaring 15,000 feet above Dubai’s glittering coastline and architectural icons in a seaplane is one of those pinch yourself moments. Seawings offer scenic flights over the city and surrounds in a Cessna Amphibian aircraft that seats nine passengers and a pilot (or go for a private charter). There are a handful of 40-minute round-trips taking off and landing at either Dubai Creek or Jebel Ali, or you can arrange a bespoke aerial tour of Dubai and neighbouring Abu Dhabi. Once you’re airborne, you’ll see all of the city’s major landmarks from a different perspective, including the Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, World Islands and Burj Al Arab. Tours depart every day, year-round, weather permitting. seawings.ae
40Kong Look down on Dubai from this new rooftop terrace perched on the 40th floor of The H Hotel. The fun starts as the sun sets with chilled beats and aperitivo-inspired cocktails. DJs mix deep dance tracks well into the wee hours, making this is one of the city’s hottest latenight hangouts. 40kong.com Al Muntaha Friday brunch is a hallowed affair at this classy restuarant on the 27th floor of the Burj Al Arab. Two ear-popping express elevators travelling six metres per second - deliver you to Al Muntaha (‘the top’ in Arabic). It lives up to its name, with panoramic views and decadent buffet. jumeirah.com
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1. The Romanticists: One&Only, Bahamas
SIX of the BEST…
Hotels to get married in…
Love is the buzzword in the Bahamas and nowhere captures it quite like the One&Only Ocean Club. Once the private estate of A&P heir, Huntington Hartford II, this coastal spot is stunning. The only problem you’ll face here is picking one of the four breathtaking venues available for your big day: the beach deck which holds 80 people and looks out onto the spectacular Bahamian shoreline; the stunning Versailles-inspired gardens suitable for a Shakespeare novel; under the 12th century Augustinian cloisters which were brought from France and later reassembled on this paradise island; or the more relaxed pool terrace offering a laid-back take on this traditional day. Now, time to say ‘I do’. oneandonlyresorts. com
Cupid: Looking for a way to rid yourself of post-wedding day stress? Let the hotel bring its award-winning spa to you. The in-suite massage menu covers everything from Swedish to Balinese.
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2. The Artists: Gran Meliá Rome Want to experience the thrill of a city wedding without the chaos that comes with a city break? Then the Gran Meliá Rome is a great option. Located on the Vatican City side of Rome – the opposite side of the Tiber River to the jam-packed Colosseum, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain et al – the wedding experience begins as soon as you arrive at the gated entrance to this five-star urban resort. Depending on your package and preference –traditional or modern, festive or formal, intimate or grand – the bride and groom can start their day with a drinks reception at the private Lunae Terrace overlooking Castel Sant’Angelo, the Vatican City and the hotel’s private gardens. From there, head to Viva Voce – headed by two-Michelin starred chef Alfonso Iaccarino – for a sit-down dinner comprising Mediterranean haute cuisine prepared by the hotel’s culinary team. Bellissimo indeed. melia.com
Cupid: The day before the big day, book yourself in for the beauty programme at the hotel’s Yhi Spa. For her, there’s a body scrub, antistress massage and facial; for him, meanwhile, expect a personalised facial, manicure and back massage. Prewedding day nerves be-gone.
3. The Exhibitionists: Dalhousie Castle, Scotland Follow in the footsteps of the world’s elite (Madonna, Pierce Brosnan, Sir Paul McCartney) and marry your significant other in a castle; Dalhousie Castle, actually. Sited in a 13th century fortress on the banks of the River Esk – on the edge of Edinburgh – this is stuff bridal dreams are made of. Get married here and you can expect stunning scenery, five-
star accommodation, awardwinning food and a wedding day to remember. Need I mention the option to appoint an owl as your ring bearer? Yes, this bird or prey swoops in to drop your wedding bands at the alter. dalhousiecastle.co.uk
Cupid: Enhance your wedding experience by booking the castle’s pre-wedding dinner. Held in the unique barrelvaulted Dungeon Restaurant, up to 22 guests can dine in this semi private side of the castle’s underground cell.
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4. The Naturalists: Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort & Spa With lush greenery for surrounds and the big blue for a view, getting married in Bali makes quite a bridal statement. Perfect for nature lovers, the Anantara Seminyak Bali Resort & Spa offers five wedding packages for starry-eyed couples: sunset, Balinese, eternal, luxurious and ultimate. From backdrops (how does the Indian Ocean sound?) to ceremonial entrances (think sand strewn with rose petals or a rooftop ceremony with a violinist and floral pergola), no bridal stone is left unturned at this lush resort. Book a wedding here and you’ll feel like you’ve been touched by Aphrodite herself. anantara. com
Cupid: Caught up with wedding plans thus forgetting your other ‘half’? Then take note of the resort’s Dining by Design concept, a tailor-made dining experience at various points around the hotel. So exclusive are the locations, you need to check in to find out more.
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5. The Modernists: Armani Hotel Dubai Looking for a sleek and sophisticated place to get married? Then the Armani Dubai is an excellent choice. Located in Dubai’s iconic Burj Khalifa, this swanky spot offers a handful of wedding packages for soon-to-weds. First up is the venue: couples can choose between the Armani/Ballroom, which has space for 450 guests, or the stunning landscaped gardens at Armani/Pavilion, an al fresco area overlooking The Dubai Fountain. Then there’s the setting, flowers, food, entertainment and accommodation, all of which can be left in the capable hands of Armani’s expert planners. All you need now is someone special to share it with. dubai.armanihotels.com
Cupid: Put the wedding checklist to one side and book yourself in for the Armani/Spa bridal package – a combination of body buffing, massaging and beauty treatments. For him, there’s the ultimate grooming option – six exclusive experiences designed to relax, revive and rejuvenate the groom before his big day. It’s not all about the bride, you know.
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6. The Traditionalists: The Ritz Hotel London Cloaked in history, The Ritz Hotel London promises a no-holds-barred fairy tale wedding. Whether you’re looking for a private ceremony for two or a larger gathering for 200, this prestigious London address will build your big day around your requirements. Weddings generally take place in William Kent House, an 18th century mansion adjoined to The Ritz with private dining and reception rooms as well as a secret garden overlooking Green Park. Here, a dedicated team of experienced wedding planners and banqueting professionals will be available from the first consultation until you hang up your wedding gown. theritzlondon.com
Cupid: For over a century, couples have celebrated and announced their love at The Ritz Hotel London. Become one of them and check out the ‘Ritz Romance Package’ – where a Louis XVI-inspired room, massage, flowers and a bottle of bubbly await you.
April // 2014
Thanks to a certain singing sensation named Psy – Gangnam Style is officially the most-watched YouTube video ever, with over 1.9 billion views – the South Korean capital has been on many people’s lips. But it’s not just catchy K-Pop the city is famous for – Seoul’s spicy cuisine is reason alone to visit. Although quite distinctive, Korean cuisine (hansik) has been influenced by neighbouring China and Japan, as well as European traders who introduced chilli peppers in the 17th century.
Seoul food From sizzling street food to world-class fine dining, get set for an epicurean adventure in the South Korean capital
The Han River bisects Seoul into two regions: Gangnam, literally ‘south of the river’, and Gangbuk, ‘north of the river’. Traditional Gangbuk features majestic royal palaces, temples and old fortress walls, while modern Gangnam is home to skyscrapers, classy boutiques and hip clubs. A typical Korean meal consists of rice or noodles, soup, and five to 20 side dishes served at once to share, rather than in courses. Almost every meal comes with kimchi, a spicy fermented dish made with pickled vegetables, often cabbage, radish, green onion and cucumber, and drenched in red pepper paste. For authentic and inexpensive street food head to Gwangjang Market in the Dongdaemun district north of the river. The best time to visit is the evening, when over 200 stalls offer a hugely atmospheric dining experience. Look out for Jeon Alley, crammed with food stalls selling gloriously greasy jeon (savoury pancakes) washed down with makgeolli (rice liquor). Other tasty treats to try include bibimbap (rice mixed with vegetables Malaysia
Fox Kim, of the Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas, shares three mustvisit sights
Gyeongbokgung Palace Built in 1395 by the Joseon Dynasty, Gyeongbokgung Palace was burned down during the Japanese invasion in 1592 and rebuilt in 1868. The changing of the guard ceremony is a colourful photo opportunity not to be missed (daily at 10am, 1pm and 3pm, except Tuesdays). Namdaemun Market Dating back to the Joseon period, the market was a centre for rice trade and specialty products. Today, many of the stores manufacture their own goods, so clothes, household goods, local products, and fruits and vegetables can be bought at lower prices. Fashion District As well as its excellent restaurants, the Cheongdam-dong area is known for its exclusive boutiques from independent designers and the flagship stores of the international fashion houses. Celebrity sightings are so common here that Cheongdam has been nicknamed ‘Celebrity Street’.
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Where to Stay Grand InterContinental Seoul Parnas (seoul. intercontinental.com) Located in trendy Gangnam, this hotel has excellent French, Chinese and Japanese restaurants, along with the country’s largest buffet restaurant. Lotte Hotel Seoul (lottehotelseoul.com) This huge 1,479-room hotel is a good base for sightseeing and shopping, with a duty-free store on site and department store next door. The Shilla (shilla.net) Set in 23 acres of private parkland, this resort-style hotel has pools, jogging tracks, an indoor golf range and a tranquil sculpture garden.
Photography supplied by: Corbis / Arabian Eye
Text by: Lara Brunt
and beef), fresh yukhoe (Korean steak tartare), and incredibly moreish gimbap (Korean-style sushi rolls). And don’t miss Sindang-dong Topokki Alley near the Dongdaemun History and Culture Park, which is packed with 24-hour restaurants serving topokki (stir-fried rice cakes), a popular snack that is also available from street vendors throughout the city, and the colossal Namdaemun Market, known for galchi jorim (braised fish) and kalguksu (handmade chopped noodles). It used to be that the only fine dining restaurants in Seoul were European or Japanese. All that has changed over the last few years as Korean food has gone high-end, thanks to a group of innovative young chefs. Leading the way is Jungsik Yim, who serves ‘New Korean’ cuisine at his Jungsik restaurant in Gangnam (his second branch in New York has been awarded two Michelin stars). Try the signature Five Senses pork belly created to hit five textures and flavours: spicy, crispy, sour, sweet and soft. At Poom, chef Young Hee Roh creates seasonal banga cuisine of the noble class with a modern twist. Located atop Mount Namsan in Yongsan district, the restaurant has fantastic views from the floor-to-
ceiling glass windows. For international fare, head to Pierre Gagnaire, a top-notch French fine diner on the 35th floor of the Lotte Hotel north of the river. Another French favourite is Bienetre, a tiny bistro with only eight seats in the chic Cheongdam neighbourhood in Gangnam (book two weeks in advance). At Ristorante Eo also in Cheongdam, chef Eo Yun-geun, who spent a decade working in Italy, prepares elegant and authentic Italian cuisine. Next door is the more casual Gourmet Eo, while Grill5Taco in neighbouring Sinsadong dishes up tasty Mexican dishes (with lashings of kimchi, of course). No trip to Seoul would be complete without a good old-fashioned Korean barbecue (gogigui). Thinly sliced marinated beef (bulgogi) and short ribs (galbi) are cooked over white-hot charcoal at your table. Byeokje Galbi in Songpa district is probably most famous, with melt-in-yourmouth meat from organically fed Korean cows. Hwajang Hangogi in Cheongdam is a local favourite, with top quality Australian beef and traditional straw mats and floor cushions (plus Western-style tables). The restaurant is also famous for their knifecut soybean noodle soup. Yum!
The fast and frequent subway is the best way to get around and has signs and announcements in English. Taxis are abundant and reasonably priced, although best avoided during peak-hour traffic. There are four types of taxis: opt for an international (with English-speaking drivers) taxi if possible and ask your hotel to write down your destination in Hangul script before you set off.
Language Korean is the official language, while Hangul is the written script. English is widely taught in schools but, due to a lack of practise, proficiency can be poor so writing down simple questions in English is often the best way to communicate.
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Insider’s Istanbul Straddling Europe and Asia, Istanbul has plenty of big draws. Here’s where to uncover some of its lesser known gems
Where to Stay InterContinental Istanbul (intercontinental.com/ Istanbul) Located in Taksim, this contemporary hotel has two rooftop restaurants with stunning views of the Bosphorus and Blue Mosque.
Four Seasons Sultanahmet (fourseasons.com/ Istanbul) Right in the heart of the old city, this characterful hotel is within walking distance to the Aya Sofya, Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. Shangri-La Bosphorus (shangri-la.com/Istanbul) This former tobacco warehouse in the Besiktas district has wonderful waterfront views and sumptuous interiors reminiscent of an Ottoman palace. Turkey
As the nation’s capital in all but name, Istanbul has a long history stretching back to the seventh century BC when it was founded by the Greeks. In the fourth century AD it became the Byzantine capital Constantinople, before finally falling to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. Home to around 15 million people, these days the city remains the country’s economic and cultural heart, with new restaurants, cafés and galleries opening all the time. Beyond the vast Grand Bazaar, Istanbul has an impressive array of independent boutiques and ateliers. Home to highend designers and some of the city’s most expensive real estate, Nisantasi on the European side is the city’s trendiest shopping quarter. For cutting-edge Turkish fashion, head to designer Arzu Kaprol’s flagship boutique. Known for her bold creations and striking couture range, the designer recently opened a showroom in Paris. Midnight Express has sophisticated fashion from designer Banu Bora, while Urart specialises in Ottoman-inspired jewellery and high-end handmade pieces. If vintage is more your thing, head to Fey, an eclectic boutique selling owner Fatos Yalin’s designs and handpicked clothes, jewellery and decorative pieces. And don’t leave without exploring the opulent sevenstorey Armaggan emporium (pictured left), which designs and produces handcrafted jewellery, objets d’art, naturally dyed textiles, scarves, leather goods, and carpets at their own ateliers in the city. While Istanbul is inextricably linked to coffee – the beverage was introduced by the Ottoman Governor of Yemen in the mid-1550s and quickly spread to Europe and the Americas – over the years, traditional Turkish coffee has given way to inferior instant and international chains selling lattes and the like. For the best traditional brew in town, head to Fazil Bey in Kadikoy on the Asian side. This tiny shop has been roasting beans since 1923 and each cup comes with a piece of Turkish delight to offset the intense flavour of the mud-thick coffee. A wave
Photography supplied by: Corbis / Arabian Eye
Text by: Lara Brunt
Getting around Taxis are a cheap and convenient way of getting around – just ensure the meter is switched on, as it must be by law. The efficient metro system is also handy for visitors, while trams run through the city centre to the outlying suburbs. Don’t leave without catching a ferry between the Asian and European shores.
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of independent artisanal coffee shops is also sweeping the city, as a backlash to the big chains. Cekirdek in the Moda neighbourhood of Kadikoy uses singleorigin beans sourced from places like Sumatra and Guatemala and is popular with the locally caffeinated crowd. Back in Europe in Beyoglu, follow the Mactoting creative types to Holy Coffee, whose walls are adorned with the works of local artists, or stop by Heirloom Café and Market for delicious pastries, supersmooth coffee and exquisite olive oil sourced from villages along the Aegean coast. The city has an equally vibrant food scene, with most of the best restaurants found well away from the tourist hub of Sultanahmet. Spread over four floors of an Art Nouveau townhouse near Taksim, Kiwi
Turkish is the official language, although English is widely spoken at tourist sites and hotels.
Ali Öner, of the InterContinental Istanbul, on the city’s best art galleries
Istanbul Modern This two-storey art space (pictured left) houses a permanent exhibition exploring the transformation of art in Turkey since 1893. The lower ground galleries feature temporary exhibitions from internationally acclaimed artists such as Anish Kapoor and Juan Munoz. Installations such as the glass staircase by Monica Bonvicini and Richard Wentworth’s hanging books are not to be missed. chef Peter Gordon serves up acclaimed Turkish fusion to a glamorous crowd at fine dining stalwart Changa. Newcomers making waves include Mona, an upscale Italian eatery frequented by celebrities and expats in Beyoglu’s bohemian neighbourhood of Cihangir and Gile Restaurant in Akaretler near the ShangriLa Bosphorus hotel. For more casual eats, head to Cuma in Cukurcuma, opened last year by former Changa chef Banu Tiryakiogullari, and Wolf Junior, a trendy café in Sishane serving American comfort food like mac and cheese. When it comes to sightseeing, the spectacular Blue Mosque and Aya Sofya are must-visits, but if you’re keen for less crowds head to Suleymaniye Mosque. Built in the 1550s for Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, it is one of the grandest Ottoman mosques. And instead of joining the queue at the Dolmabahce Palace, head for the far less crowded Beylerbeyi Palace on the city’s Asian side. Finish off with a thorough steam clean at Kilic Ali Pasa in Karakoy, a beautifully restored 16th-century hammam.
SALT Galata Originally designed by Alexander Vallaury as the 19th century Imperial Ottoman Bank headquarters, SALT Galata opened in 2011. It offers an exhibition space, auditorium, arts research library, café and rooftop restaurant, as well as the Ottoman Bank Museum. Borusan Contemporary Located in the 100-yearold Perili Kosk (Haunted Mansion) on the Bosphorus, this museum has galleries and outdoor terraces with breathtaking views. The building serves as the company HQ for Borusan Holding, so it’s only open to the public on weekends.
April // 2014
Overlooking its own private bay, this sleek and secluded villa is one of four unique properties at Annandale, a 4,000-acre sheep and cattle farm about an hour’s drive from Christchurch. With over 10 kilometres of rugged
Where: Banks Peninsula, South Island, New Zealand
Pacific coastline, you can watch rare Hector’s dolphins frolic from the villa’s outdoor Jacuzzi, or dive straight into kayaking, paddle-boarding, and sailing. Head up to the historic homestead for a farm-to-table cooking
lesson from the awardwinning chef, and then try your hand at a spot of cattle mustering. However you decide to spend your days, it’s guaranteed you won’t want to leave. Ever. annandale.com
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 gold-standard facilities including swimming pools, steam & sauna, Kid’s Club, tennis & squash courts, conference rooms that can cater up to 200 delegates; relaxed dining in Aqua Café and the exclusive Awazen Spa Fraser Suites Dubai has it all.
FRASER SUITES DUBAI - Sheikh Zayed Road, Media City, Dubai, UAE Reservations: +971 4 440 1400 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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