Page 1

Issue 120 | aprIl 2018 | ComplImentary Copy

Step to the beat in

Produced in Dubai Production City

Buenos Aires

bAngkok Lights, clamour, action: the lure of Thailand’s colourful capital

Serengeti azerbaijan VeniCe DubroVnik


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Welcome note

This monTh’s travel companions

in some countries around the world, the start of April is marked by playing practical jokes and, in the same spirit, we’ve dedicated this issue to having fun. From joining in Bangkok's supersized water fight in celebration of Songkran, to heading to sunny California for Coachella, and dancing your way around Buenos Aires (page 50), we've got plenty of inspiration to make you smile. If you're seeking a wilder adventure, a trip to the Serengeti

managing Director

(p42) to embark on a walking safari offers a full sensory

Victoria Thatcher

overload. Alternatively, exploring the art, foodie scene and

editorial Director

romantic side of Dubrovnik (p30) is sure to put a spring in

John Thatcher

your step (which is handy, considering the city can mostly be

group Commercial Director

explored on foot).

David Wade

If you haven't yet been to Baku and beyond, our mini guide

managing editor

to Azerbaijan (page 60) highlights all the best bits. And if you

Faye Bartle

schedule your trip towards the end of the month, you'll be able

to tie it in with the Formula 1 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Contributing editor

p24 Katsuya uechi reveals his favourite places to eat around the globe

Even if you're not planning a big one for spring break, you can

Claire Malcolm

still squeeze in a staycation – simply turn to our round-up of UAE

art Director

hotels (starting on page 66) for inspiration.


emirati filmmaker ali F. MostaFa lays open his travel journal

Kerri Bennett Designer Jamie Pudsey

Happy travels, Faye Bartle

Senior advertising manager Mia Cachero Production manager Muthu Kumar

Follow us at… FaceBooK @worldtravellermagazine instaGRaM @dnataworldtraveller


artist and illustrator cléMentine du Pontavice shops venice

tWitteR @WT_magazine

BRouGht to you By

Photography credits: Getty Images, Phocal Media, and Shutterstock

Click it

Get a heads up on what’s happening online and on our social channels on page 87

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

p65 Photographer and storyteller edcel suyo takes us behind the lens

Cover image Bangkok's busy Chinatown. Getty Images.

World Traveller 5

Contents April 2018

18 regulArs









Personal perspectives, from high over Hong Kong to atop the gaping Grand Canyon

Mark your card for all that’s hot this month, including the world's biggest water fight

Katsuya Uechi, the man who served Japanese cuisine to the world, on his must-dines

Emirati filmmaker Ali F. Mostafa on travelling alone, packing precisely, and dining out in LA







Illustrator Clémentine du Pontavice shares the shopping highlights of the vibrant city of Venice

Three in-the-know locals tell all about Croatia's coastal hotspot and magnificent walled city

The Royal Residence at Atlantis by Giardino, Europe's largest luxury suite World Traveller 7


50 feAtures







Tristan Rutherford returns to Bangkok determined to right the wrongs of his gap year visit

What could be scarier than meeting a hungry lion on safari? Doing so on foot, says Stanley Stewart

Laura Whateley shrugs off her shyness to dance her way around Argentina's culture-rich capital









In AzErbAIjAn

Photographer and storyteller Edcel Suyo recounts trips from Fez to Siem Reap

Enjoy a well-deserved weekend away at these luxurious hotels in the UAE

Take advantage of our exclusive deals for a trip to remember

60 Claire Malcolm discovers all about The Land of Fire

8 World Traveller

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10 World Traveller

travel goals

Kowloon PeaK, Hong Kong While Hong Kong Island has the skyscrapers, Kowloon boasts the best views of them. In fact, drawing the curtains of your suite in a Kowloon-side, waterfront hotel (the InterContinental Hong Kong is a never fail option) to reveal the historic Victoria Harbour, backed by cloud-skimming peaks, is one of the finest vistas in travel. To see yet more of Hong Kong, visitors often head to the peak to drink in views of rolling hills to the north and the modern metropolis below. It’s a popular place for a night hike, when the densely populated territory that glows below adopts a magical quality. World Traveller 11

take me there

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travel goals

Manarola, Italy

The multi-hued, cliff hugging village of Manarola is not unique in appearance. Or, indeed, is it the only perfectly preserved hamlet perched on the Italian Riviera’s rugged coastline. Yet, it is perhaps alone in stirring romantic notions in all who gaze longingly at it. Said to be the oldest of five fishing communities that form the Cinque Terre – visitors who brave the high, narrow, corkscrew mountain roads to get here often visit all five – Manarola’s pastel glow is best snapped at sunset from Punta Bonfiglio, a short hike from the village, from where the view is heart-tugging.

World Traveller 13

take me there

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travel goals

grand Canyon, USa

One of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World, this vast, visually arresting chasm may not be the world’s deepest at over one mile (that prize belongs goes to the Kali Gandaki Gorge in Nepal) but it’s by far the most visited. How the canyon came to be is not debated – the rushing Colorado River cut through layer after layer of rock – but competing schools of thought have its age as either six million or 70 million years (a gap as wide as the canyon itself). Visitors come to hike, bike, raft or hover in a helicopter over the canyon’s multifaceted landscape, but exploring it on the back of a mule remains the most fun option.

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Globetrotter Be informed, be inspired, be there

SOAK CITY It's Thai New Year this month, which means it's time to pack your Super Soaker and head to Bangkok (page 36). We also flag our favourite eco resorts to mark Earth Day (page 18), and spotlight historic hotels reopening in London and West Massachusetts (page 22). World Traveller 17


Seize The Day

earth day (22 april) provides a timely reminder that there are some truly spectacular eco resorts dotted across the globe, where your stay would be welcomed by Mother nature. Here’s our pick of the very best… Laguna Lodge

LongItude 131

Song Saa

LIMaLIMo Lodge





With jade waters below it and a thick forest above, Laguna Lodge is pegged to a sheer cliff face and accessible only by boat. It's a setting made even more striking by each of its suites – fashioned from only natural materials – bestowing views of a trio of dramatic volcanoes. Here, you can hike a volcano, paraglide, or jump off a cliff into beautiful Lake atitlan – we'll leave that to you.

there's little chance of someone's selfie stick getting in the way as you gaze at one of Mother nature's wonders here (pictured). From the sanctuary of your tented pavilion, one of only 16 dotted amid the red-hued expanse of outback, you can bask in the sight of uluru (or ayers Rock as it's more commonly known), arguably the most iconic sight of all in australia and one to tick off the bucket list.

Cambodia’s beautiful islands remain relatively untouched, the white sands that fringe virgin rainforests and give way to tropical reefs, glistening jewel-like from where they lay dotted throughout the gulf of thailand. It's here you'll find Song Saa (the sweethearts), a pair of side-by-side islands which house the remote, sustainable sanctuary Song Saa Private Island. Paradise most definitely found.

ethiopia's aweinspiring Simien Mountains is the setting for the 12room Limalino Lodge, the realisation of a vision to support the communities living within the park by offering visitors an alternative way to experience the uneSCo listed site. this includes visits to view aspects of daily life in a rural ethiopian village, and 10-day treks through peaks and riverbeds.

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aL MaHa deSeRt ReSoRt & SPa


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Where To geT your fix of fun This monTh 1. Get wet in Thailand

Everyone loves a good water fight, but nowhere enjoys one quite like Bangkok as it celebrates Songkran (13-15 April). Merry revellers with water pistols and buckets in hand fill the streets of Silom and Khao San Road and soak one another to the skin. The water symbolically washes away misfortune, to welcome the new year afresh. For somewhere to stay, Centara Hotels & Resorts has four properties in Bangkok.

2. Get stuffed in Singapore

London's hyde Park Vienna

Wat xieng Thong Buddhist temple, Luang Prabang

While most cities celebrate their diverse food offering by rolling out the food trucks and adding a dash of so-called celebrity chefs, Singapore's World Gourmet Summit (2-29 April) deals solely in haute cuisine. That means instead of queuing for a quinoa and kale burger, you can pull up a cushioned chair at one of Singapore's celebrated restaurants for fine dining (and drinking) events aplenty.

3. Get rocked in California Spread over two, always sunny weekends (13-15 and 20-22 April), Coachella is the world's foremost pre-summer music festival, beloved of California's cool kids. The same line-up of stellar acts play both weekends, with The Weeknd (his typo, not ours), Beyonce and Eminem headlining this year's event. Book a Safari Tent, which comes with air-con and a concierge, if you're one for glamping. Coachella

The hoT liST

Trending destinations dnata Travel's head of product, Rob Arrow, gives the inside track on where the in-crowd is headed London is a great place to travel to in spring, as the trees turn green and the flowers bloom. The city is packed full of parks and it's such a great place to get out and explore. The Bulgari Hotel London, right on the edge of Hyde Park, is the best place to start and end a day of strolling around. It has a great spa too. With a visa no longer needed for Emiratis to visit Ireland, Dublin has never been easier to travel to. There is so much to discover both in the city and around the country, so take some time to explore. Those who love a touch of luxury teamed with history can stay at The Merrion – it's the perfect hotel at which to indulge in both.

Still focusing on Europe, it's also a magical time to travel to Vienna to soak up the romance and culture of the city. It's home to some of the most stunning palaces, with great museums filled with classical and modern art. There's a lively cafĂŠ scene and shoppers will find top brands plus lots of independent stores. Park Hyatt Vienna has a central location ideal for seeing everything Viennese. There is a buzz of interest around Luang Prabang in Laos with the stunning Rosewood Luang Prabang opening there (a secluded jungle style property in the heart of the city). Relax in your villa or get out and soak up the culture. But go now before it becomes too popular. World Traveller 21


pAST glorieS

New look for old favourites This month’s hottest hotel openings are reboots, taking us from the mountains of West Massachusetts to the streets of London Two hours from Boston, in the mountains of West Massachusetts, is The Berkshires, a long-time weekend escape for wellheeled Bostonians. It’s here, amid over 100 acres of lush woodland, that you’ll find Blantyre (pictured above), a storied estate comprised of a Tudor-style main house, an 11-suite carriage house, and four storybook cottages, all of which reopen this month following a multimillion-dollar facelift. In keeping with the estate’s embracement of the traditional,

London Calling

Opening in London's Covent Garden this month is the new flagship of renowned concept store The Shop at Bluebird. Housed in a 19th century coach house, the store will stock cutting edge labels, a fashion illustration gallery and rooftop restaurant.

22 World Traveller

outdoor pursuits here include croquet on the lawn and horse-drawn carriage rides through the woodlands. But you’ll find us holed-up in the estate’s brand-new spa. Also reopening this month having enjoyed an extensive makeover of its own is The Academy, which spans five Georgian townhouses in the Bloomsbury area of London. It, too, has chosen to take its cue from history, with interiors inspired by the literary Bloomsbury Group (Virginia Woolf and E.M Forster

among them) who lived and worked in the area. New to the building is a charming hidden garden, which houses Mr Ma’s Teahouse Spa – named with a nod to the 1920s novel Mr Ma and Son by Chinese author Lao Sha, on account of the spa offering authentic Asian experiences, which include the likes of a hot medicinal herbal footbath and Chinese reflexology. Just the job to recover from a day spent walking the rooms of the nearby British Museum.

Paul Smith has joined forces with Globe-Trotter to design this handcrafted trolley case – one of only 120 made – which will be available in stores and online from 19 April.


Chef’s top tables

* The market is relocating in October.

A style-setter in Japanese cuisine, Katsuya Uechi has restaurants around the world, including Katsuya by Starck at Dubai’s Jumeirah Al Naseem

On my wish list…

tetsuya’s Restaurant in Sydney. I know about chef Tetsuya Wakuda from a book a friend gave me and I am very interested in his cooking style. He makes very creative dishes based on Japanese and French techniques.

sushi sho Honolulu, Hawaii

Daiwa sushi Tsukiji, Tokyo Sushi Sho is one of the most famous sushi restaurants in Tokyo (it’s very difficult to make a reservation there and the Waikiki Beach venue is its first location outside of Japan. Chef Keiji Nakazawa makes authentic edomae-style sushi teamed with Hawaiian ingredients. Simply sit back and enjoy the conversation and skill of the chef. FAVOURITE DISH: The menu is omakase, which means "I'll leave it up to you".

Most people know Tsukiji market in Tokyo* and Daiwa Sushi can be found in the inner market area. It’s where the restaurant owners and employees go to eat, but it’s open to everyone. I eat there every time I visit, as the sushi is delicious, fresh and affordable. I strongly recommend you arrive before 5am otherwise you’re likely to wait in line for up to two hours. FAVOURITE DISH: Toro (tuna), anago (sea eel), uni (sea urchin) and mackerel.

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faR westeRn taveRn Orcutt, California I went a long time ago while travelling with a friend but it was unforgettable. We weren’t expecting to experience such an incredible taste, as the venue had an ordinary atmosphere and an old-school ranch menu, but it exceeded our expectations. Simple seasoning allowed us to enjoy the meat’s original taste and I still think that the steak at this restaurant is the most delicious I’ve had. FAVOURITE DISH: The ribeye.



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Ali F. MostAFA The Emirati filmmaker and producer reveals the destinations that have made an impression and offers an insight into his travel rituals I prefer to discover a destination alone. Wandering around until I get lost delivers the best experience of a place – especially if you’ve never been there before. That said, my ideal companion is my wife, Maha. She knows me inside out and gets what I like and what I don’t. I had a blast with my family in Thailand last year. From exploring the bustling cities, to swimming with elephants and relaxing in exclusive tropical resorts, we did it all on that trip. I travel a lot for work. I’ve just got back from London, where I was in the studio recording sound for a commercial campaign that’s soon to released (it’s something I am very excited about). We shot the campaign images for the TUMI Alpha Bravo collection in California. Shooting in LA is always great, as I get to have work meetings thrown in while I’m there. It’s a productive trip every time I visit, but I always make time to grab a bite to eat at The Original Farmers Market by Beverly Grove. Whenever I travel, I pack pretty precisely, but regardless of where I’m going I pack at least one formal outfit such as a suit, as you never know what’ll happen. My goal is to ride a motorcycle from Dubai to London for charity. I will make it happen soon enough. Ali F. Mostafa is the ambassador for the TUMI Alpha Bravo Spring/ Summer 2018 collection.

26 World Traveller










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Clockwise from left: An illustration by Clémentine recently showcased at Comptoir 102 in Dubai; Loewe FW18; T Fondaco dei Tedeschi by DFS; bed linen by Chiarastella Cattana; and velvet slippers by Piedàterre

shop my City


Feminist artist and illustrator Clémentine du pontavice shares the shopping highlights of the floating city When in Venice it’s a joy to stroll along the narrow pathways and bridges that line the canals, discovering the bustling markets as you go. I live in Paris but as a child my mother often brought me to Venice. When I visit now I still feel the same sense of child-like excitement and I’ve made some beautiful discoveries. One of the most innovative department stores is t Fondaco dei tedeschi by DFs ( on the Grand Canal, just a few steps away from the famous Rialto Bridge. It carries soughtafter Italian and international brands such as Kenzo, Loewe and Ermenegildo Zegna. Even the most enlightened Italians go to shop there. You must purchase a pair of authentic velvet slippers from piedàterre ( The rubber sole means you can wear them in the street if necessary – and steer a gondola without damaging the varnish.

Shop for a hat at Giuliana Longo ( and have it customised with your initials braided directly in the straw. If you have room in your luggage, go to fabric designer Chiarastella Cattana ( for stylish bed and bath linen. It's all made in Italy, in the old mills of Alto Adige. Of course, Venice is also the city of art and antiquities. The Giorgio mastinu fine art space (giorgiomastinufineart. it) is brimming with books, photographs and drawings by contemporary Italian artists, like a real-life cabinet of curiosities. Close to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection is Napè (, a small gallery specialising in 20th century Murano glass. The owner, Filippo Gambardella, can share the stories of the pieces. Lastly, for a traditional mask, papier mache (papiermache. it) is the place to go for incredible craftsmanship.

“You must buy a pair of authentic velvet slippers”

World Traveller 29

locals’ guide

the locals' guide to

Dubrovnik From its Baroque buildings to its contemporary art attractions, there’s plenty to discover inside the Croatian city’s ancient stone walls

30 World Traveller

locals’ guide

For romantics at heart Croatian journalist Ana Muhar, who was married in Dubrovnik, reveals the secret side of the city, and where to go for a dash of romance Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. The famous portraits of the fortified Old Town are stunning and the place is even more breathtaking in real life. It's hard to resist diving into the sea – the locals don’t understand why tourists often require access to swimming pools. The city is so photogenic that it can feel like a wedding set. Approaching the Old Harbour by boat is a special experience, perhaps after a long, delicious lunch in Gverović-Orsan ( in the nearby village of Zaton beside the sea. Hike up to Fort Lovrijenac for striking views. And stroll through the elegant Old Town in the middle of the night, when the old stones have a special glow. It is impossible to divide Dubrovnik from its history, and people who don’t appreciate history are unlikely to fall in love with Dubrovnik. A simple walk in the Old Town will work its magic, however, it’s definitely worth having a guided tour of the City Walls. For a look into its more recent history, I would advise visitors to visit the War Photography Museum. Croatians will tell you that the people of Dubrovnik are complicated, but I like them. I like their pride, peculiar accent and relaxed manner. The best way to meet them is at one of the local cafés in the morning, as a cup of coffee first thing is an absolute must in Croatia.

Dubrovnik is one of the oldest and most beautiful Adriatic towns

Spend your time and money on experiences. Visit the stunning Elaphiti Islands, eat the fresh fish, sample different olive oils and sip the wine from nearby Peljesac. If you must buy something, my favourite place to shop is antique boutique Moje Tezoro (, which has a wonderful collection of original old jewellery that’s pricey but beautiful and unique. World Traveller 31

locals’ guide

Seeing red

The distinctive terracotta rooftops that characterise the Old Town, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, have inspired many artworks and are a focus of a major restoration programme co-ordinated by the organisation.

Dubrovnik, Croatia, by John Newcomb

For art buFFs Selma Hafizovic, owner of Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery (+385 95 822 2971), shines a light on the city’s artistic and creative gems

Dubrovnik itself is like an evolving work of art. If you want to experience the art scene that’s developing there, head to Banje Beach on Frana Supila Road. All the major galleries and institutions are there, including Museum of Modern Art Dubrovnik ( Founded in 1945 it houses an impressive 2,620 works of art, many of which are by artists linked in some way to the Dubrovnik area. For a grassroots experience, head over to Art Radionica Lazareti (, an independent institution representing an alternative art scene with concerts, open discussions and exhibitions. It’s an amazing place to meet local artists at the many openings and events held there. And, of course, Dubrovnik Contemporary Gallery is the place to go 32 World Traveller

The workshop at Clara Stones and (inset) red coral and jade carved antique necklace

for works by mainly London and New York based contemporary artists. It's a magnet for serious collectors who are interested in emerging and mid-career artists. Next, head back inside the city walls to mingle with the locals in the old part of town. I recommend hanging out at Lucio’s café in Zlatarska Street – it’s where all the artists and sailors come to unwind. Once there, you can get a sense of the history of the place. Afterwards, walk to Clara Stones Jewellery ( where you can peek inside one of the last red coral workshops in Croatia and see how these

little pieces of art are transformed into jewellery. A walk through the city follows in the footsteps of Lord Byron (who described it as the 'jewel of the Adriatic') and playwright George Bernard Shaw (who wrote Pygmalion) who both came here for inspiration. The locals will also tell you stories of Dame Elizabeth Taylor who came here to hide away. In the summer, the city takes pride in its Dubrovnik Summer Festival ( theatre programme, running from 10 July to 25 August 2018. The whole city will be out in will be out in support, and it’s really quite wonderful.

locals’ guide

For Foodies

Photos: With thanks to Dubrovnik Tourist Board

Ana-Marija Bujić, co-owner of Pantarul restaurant and author of What's Cooking in Dubrovnik, takes us on a gastronomic tour of the city. Dubrovnik is a small town but there are several good restaurants scattered around and, even if you're pushed for time, you should find it easy to experience all of them. For a fine dining experience, check out: Restaurant 360° (360dubrovnik. com), which has recently been awarded a Michelin star; Restaurant Nautika (, a longestablished venue with breathtaking sea views; and Restaurant Dubrovnik (, where the quality of the food is always high. During April there is an abundance of fresh produce at the local markets, such as wild asparagus (not to be confused with the cultivated varieties – the wild one has a bitter taste and is most often combined with eggs), a mixture of wild herbs called pazija, fava beans, green beans, new potatoes and dill. At Pantarul (pantarul. com) we make the most out of each season, so you are sure to find most – if not all – of these vegetables on our menu. For something a bit different, Konavoski Dvori National Restaurant ( in Ljuta, in the Konavle area, serves delicious Croatian cuisine in a riverside setting. Try the sač (peka) – meat and vegetables prepared under an iron bell and cooked in the ashes – and also trout fresh from the river. The weather there is always pleasant and it’s a refreshing destination in summer. To taste something truly unique, take a trip to Ston village, which is a 45-minute drive from Dubrovnik. The oysters and mussels you can eat there are a delicacy in Croatia and you can even have a go at harvesting them. You should also try cuttlefish risotto – special due to its jet black colour – and end the experience with makaruli, a dessert made from pasta and a sweet walnut and almond based cream. Pantarul

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World Traveller x ananTara Peace Haven Tangalle resorT

The spice of life From discovering Ceylonese tea culture to surfing the waves, the old-world charm and untamed landscapes of Sri Lanka beckon and Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort is the perfect base from which to explore Gain a local perspective. Seeing a destination through the eyes of a local offers a real feel for the culture. Step forward the line-up of dedicated Anantara ‘gurus’, each of whom can show you a different side to Tangalle. From the Coconut Guru who can shimmy up a palm and fetch you a drink to the Experience Guru who’ll take you on a tour of the town’s markets, cottage industries and temples, there is plenty to discover. Be an eco explorer. Learn about the rich ecosystem of the resort, which is nestled within a coconut plantation on Sri Lanka’s southernmost shores, by embarking on the complimentary 90-minute nature walk. Visit the organic rice fields, learn about indigenous farming methods, tour the mangroves and see first-hand how sea turtles are being cared for and protected on this eye-opening outing. Find your balance with Ayurveda. Sri Lanka is famous for Ayurvedic healing so if you're eager to discover how ancient remedies and holistic therapies can boost your wellbeing, you’ve come 34 World Traveller

to the right place. Head to the spa and select a nurturing programme – we rate Samabara, which offers an introduction to self-care through Ayurveda. Surf the waves. Whether you’re new to the surfing scene or a pro chasing the biggest swells, Anantara Surf Centre by Tropicsurf will deliver a thrilling experience. It offers lessons and stand-up paddle boarding for all abilities, with expert guides to help you find the best spots. Try a cooking class. Immerse yourself in the local culinary culture by preparing a meal from scratch. Journey to the fishing port to select your fresh catch and organic ingredients and then take it back to the resort where the chef will show you how to rustle up traditional dishes. Taste teppanyaki. For a touch of drama with your dinner, head to Verala where the skilled master chef creates teppanyaki delights with Sri Lankan flair before your eyes. Set along the seafront, the casual dining venue is famous for its kottu roti – a hot and spicy local dish based on shredded flatbread.

Dinner with a view. Dine against a backdrop of stunning ocean vistas at the cliffside Il Mare, an award-winning fine dining restaurant that specialises in authentic Italian cuisine. Tuck into delicious seafood and handmade pasta dishes, complemented by a curated selection of fine wines. Get back to nature. Be sure to check out the multitude of protected forest reserves nearby, such as Udawalawe National Park and Yala National Park. In addition, you can make the 90-minute drive to Mirissa Harbour and take a boat out to sea for a chance to spot giant blue whales and dolphins – the best time to go is from December to April. Rituals to remember. Guests are welcomed by a number of indigenous ceremonies throughout their stay, such as folk songs sung to the beat of a drum upon arrival, daily conch shell playing at sunset and, when it’s time to leave, a blessing with flowers and water to wish you on your way. Find out more at

Ride the waves with the help of the in-resort surf school

Guests are welcomed with traditional drumming The Coconut Guru will fetch you a fresh drink

Serene moments by the swimming pool Get an up-close view of wildlife in the national parks

Taste authentic Italian fare at Il Mare

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Twenty years since he did Bangkok by backpack, Tristan Rutherford returns for a challenge: seeking that classic city clamour - with a bit more glamour. He’s older, but in a city this exciting, will he prove to be any the wiser? 36 World Traveller

bangkok Opposite: Neon illuminates the city at night This page: The BTS Skytrain speeds over a colourful traffic jam along Sukhumvit road


ged 18, my four days in Bangkok were a busted flush. I scoured my Lonely Planet guidebook for the cheapest dorm on Khaosan Road. I ate banana pancakes with Kiwi gappers to assuage a bitter loneliness. On Hotmail I lied to friends about scoffing fried insects (when really I just missed my mum). In a rubbish bit of planning, I’d arrived mid rainy season. My fake Armani pants bled orange in the damp, forcing me to hop to the hostel showers wrapped (before Beckham made it cool) in a batik sarong. What a wasted opportunity. What a twit. Now, in my forties, four nights in Bangkok without the wife and kids is a treat – my chance to make up for those youthful errors, to do it properly. So instead of hitching or walking, or anything stupid like that, I join commuters on the Skytrain into town. This raised route glides above canal shacks and skyscrapers – the 18th century meeting the 21st. And at Phrom Phong station, double doors still ping open onto a cacophony of all the senses. The smell: grilled squid, clove cigarettes and temple joss. The noise: the screech of street hawkers and moto-taxis. The sight: someone pouring a takeaway massaman curry into a plastic sandwich bag. The taste: a lime juice to wash down the noodles sticking to the roof of my mouth. Five minutes into the blender of modern Bangkok and I’m deafened, spun and completely hooked. World Traveller 37

Like 20-odd years ago, my first night is in a hostel – but one of the new breed. The Oneday Pause hostel is Bangkokmeets-Brooklyn, an industrial-chic array of metal ceiling fans and polished cement floors. A family would love the cool linen and brick walls of a four-person dorm. My en-suite double pairs Parisian tiles with flea-market hangers – plus a private courtyard where I sip a sunset Singha. This is the way to backpack. For dinner, I’m directed to EmQuarter Mall on Sukhumvit Road. Underneath its Uniqlo superstore is a basement food hall where 50-plus vendors turn out sashimi, summer rolls and mie goreng in tiny spotless kitchens. It’s an airconditioned Asia-lite, with half-hour foot rubs available across the street. Bangkok has become a city dedicated to eating and shopping, with kaffir lime and discount massages sprinkled on top. The next morning I ride the Skytrain to the Jim Thompson House: it’s a must-see I missed in my cooler-than-thou backpacker days. Thompson was an American serviceman in Asia after WWII – he founded the Thai Silk Company in 1948. His raised wooden homes showcase ’50s Bangkok like a period photoshoot for Architectural Digest, all rattan recliners with bloodorange antimacassars and yellowing portraits of tiger hunts and palace scenes. The gardens are full of houseplants run wild: rubber plants and ficus have grown to unfathomable sizes and swish above a black pond that ripples with red carp. My toddler children would love the estate’s bamboo trails (but they’d wilt in the midday heat). It would be my wife who’d complain about my next activity. Google Maps claims it’s a 30-minute cab ride to tonight’s hotel, but I know a way to get there in 10. Mototaxi drivers prowl for pillion passengers on every street corner. My driver tucks my bag between his legs and we roar into a screaming torrent of traffic. As in a video game – with only one life – our motorbike

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brushes close to trucks and clatters over storm drains as if there’s a biblical flood behind us. I thought I was the amber gambler, but my driver shoots through red lights like a madcap Moses, a sea of cars slamming a second behind us like a klaxon curtain. During occasional traffic stops I glimpse further decadent ways to part with my baht: tailors that promise three-piece suits with two shirts – plus a free silk tie. With a final trigger squeeze, the moto-taxi skirts up a sidewalk to the Siam hotel, where a butler raises an indulgent eyebrow as he retrieves my dusty rucksack. The Siam is a lavish establishment where you’ll be lulled into colonialist delusions as you pen postcards amid a mini-museum of Indochinoiserie. You can learn Muay Thai boxing in the gym, make pad Thai in the kitchen, or ensure the only thing that sweats is your lemongrass G&T. But its real USP is its private boat launch. Nine times a day the elegant wooden cruiser escorts guests down the Chao Phraya river for free. The city’s pumping artery cuts through a cross-section of Thai society. Beside temple wats that point skywards like golden rocketships, multicoloured shacks tumble hugger-mugger into the brown chop. Tugs strain to pull fourbarge convoys, as sunset river cruisers and barbecue boats serve grilled meats to the sound of Céline Dion’s powerful vocals. I alight at the Jam Factory, a former warehouse turned shop and café, where the riverside terrace is buffeted by giant steel fans. Here, my frozen cappuccino is served with a jug of syrup. Bangkok can’t stomach hot drinks, and this alternative sweetener dissolves better in ice than grains of sugar. A polluted sunset scalds the river a violent pink. From the jetty I ride a public ferry through the dusky fug, jumping ship at Si Phraya pier. The guide for my night stroll is Bangkok Days, a voyeuristic memoir by resident novelist Lawrence Osborne, chronicling his nocturnal stumbles around Asia’s crossroads city. On foot and under a


This page: The view from the historic area of Candelaria Opposite: Contemporary art in Iglesia de Santa Clara

"Bangkok has become a city dedicated to eating and shopping, with kaffir lime and discount massages sprinkled on top"

This page, clockwise from top left: Tuk tuks line up ready to transport tourists and locals around Bangkok; Jim Thompson's House; Kuay Tiew Rua, a traditional Thai noodle dish; the flower market

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This page: vendors in boats at the city's floating market

“Wagons push past me offering bags of papaya and jackfruit, followed by juice carts stocked with pressed tangerine and watermelon� 40 World Traveller

Credit: The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing


cloak of darkness, I spy backstreet Mahjong joints, silk kimono depots, gold pawners, sacks of shaved squid, and costly bolts of silk so hefty it would take an army to steal them. Rising up are stupas, minarets and church spires. Plus the riverside Mandarin Oriental hotel where, according to a barman’s notes from the ’20s, ‘Mr Somerset Maugham likes his Martini served in a very chilled, long-stemmed glass ’. The streets get naughtier in the darker east. Women catcall from massage joints (I run away), and strange buckets surround blackened shops: scallop dust, sea cucumbers and wriggling shapes you can’t identify. My night ends at a Thai music club that serves yadong (Thai moonshine) infused with herbs and honey. My final day is reserved for the big sights. Khaosan Road runs the gamut of Thai architecture: blinging early-1800s temples from Rama IV and Europeanised grandeur from his son Rama V. Then French châteaux and Italianate mansions from Ramas VI and VII, who were educated at Oxford and Eton respectively. But I’m more interested in spotting backpackers. A holidaying couple sport ballooning pantaloons in DayGlo colours like a pair of Stabilo Boss marker pens. Their backpacks seem monumental: 60, 80, maybe 100 litres. They lug Calor gas stoves past stalls that sell tom yum soup with fishballs for a dollar a pop. Surely that was never me? At the Grand Palace I meet my tour guide Oranee. Up to 20,000 Chinese tourists visit the palace each day, she says. The first gold leaf was applied to the now-glitzy palace in 1782, when Bangkok became Thailand’s capital – and the work didn’t stop until absolute monarchy was dissolved in 1932. The Temple of the Emerald Buddha houses the cherubic figure; he’s moulded from jade, and seated on a gold altar (to keep him cosy in winter, staff adorn him with a golden shawl). A fabulous fresco highlights Thailand’s folkloric history around the 2km perimeter. It reads like a tropical Game of Thrones, with leaping demons, blowpipe wars and monkey armies commanded by the naughty simian demigod Hanuman. Fortunately, Oranee knows how to lose a crowd. We duck into Pak Khlong Talat wholesale flower market, Bangkok’s largest, where armfuls of hotel-bound orchids rest on slabs of ice like fish. At Ta Chang pier Oranee has reserved a longtail

boat. These are powered by a cut-throat propeller on a giant pole attached to a car engine. Our pilot rips through the canals at jet-ski speeds. We peer through people’s windows while they do the dishes as we slap-slap-slap through the water. There are leaping catfish, canaries in cages, laundry hanging out to dry, palm trees, and basking monitor lizards the size of crocs. We slow down near Oranee’s old waterside primary school (she used to swim across the canal after class), then alight at an artists’ residence built on stilts, Baan Silapin, to see a contemporary puppet show. Three men operate a life-size Hanuman, the wicked monkey. The puppet kisses female audience members, then rifles through their handbags. Charming. Tour groups cast envious glances as the longtail drops me off at Ratchawong pier for Chinatown. Ten minutes later I’m immersed in a fragrant world of gold emporia with digital price indexes, monks dressed in yellow, and street signs in Chinese. Truth be told, I’m only here for the food. My barbecue stall owner plies me with crab claws and sticky prawn satay; wagons push past me offering bags of papaya and jackfruit, followed by juice carts stocked with pressed tangerine and watermelon – all in all, I have a feast of a dinner for less than ten dollars. A few blocks east, Hua Lamphong railway station is a terminal for memories. Eastern & Oriental Express trains still depart for Singapore, and a couple are snapping wedding portraits in the Italiandesigned foyer. In the ’90s, I travelled third class on the night train from here to Chiang Mai, when for a few dollars more I could have bagged a luxury sleeper. If only I could have told my 18-year-old self that, of all the cities in the world, Bangkok sells a taste of the high life at the lowest price. A quick hop on the Skytrain delivers me to my last hotel, the Cabochon, an eight-room colonial mansion, where you can phone down your $3 drink order from the rooftop pool. Whether you’re a backpacker or a banker, that’s a bargain too good to miss – in Bangkok, everyone can afford to upgrade. Something I’ll be sure to share with my kids when they get to their own gap year: don’t do as I did. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit World Traveller 41

take a walk

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African game on your bucket list? You could follow the herd and hop on a minibus. But for full sensory overload, walking safaris are the way ahead. Stanley Stewart steps out in the Serengeti

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‘Two lions,’ he said, scanning the raised banks above us. ‘Young males. They are close.’ Prim is the Sherlock Holmes of the Serengeti. A walking guide, he has an uncanny ability to read the landscape and trace the passage of its animals. I was half expecting him to tell me what they’d had for breakfast. And then he did, pausing by a pile of fresh dung. ‘They’ve taken a young wildebeest,’ he said. ‘Probably four or five hours ago.’ I followed him to the top of the riverbank where he lifted his gun in readiness. ‘There,’ he said, pointing. About 100m away, moving slowly through the long grass, were the lions. They stopped and looked back at us over their shoulders. For a moment I was eye to eye with one of Africa’s greatest predators. Considering the options, then deciding we represented too great a danger, they went on, shoulder blades seesawing through the grass. My pulse raced. We were in the Serengeti National Park, one of Africa’s most popular wildlife destinations. More than 300,000 visitors come each year, nearly all of them ensconced in the upholstered comfort of 4WDs and minibuses, seeing Africa from a safe distance. But we were on foot. However you explore it, the Serengeti is, of course, a once-in-a-lifetime experience (even if vehicles are likely to converge en masse on an elephant sighting or lion kill). It is made even more special by its international-class, luxury lodges. But tourism is focused on about 40 percent of the park. If I was coming this far, 44 World Traveller

I’d told myself, it made sense to go the whole (wart)hog: to see Africa at walking pace, stretch my legs and engage with the landscape as well as the animals; to experience the country without a lodge, a vehicle or even a road in sight. The Maasai call it Siringet, the place where the land runs on forever. Tipping down from the Crater Highlands in Tanzania towards the Maasai Mara in Kenya, the vast grasslands of the Serengeti are archetypal Africa: long horizons and towering skies. Across 15,000sq km of wilderness a bewildering array of wildlife meanders with proprietorial ease. As I flew north from Lake Manyara, there was no sign of habitation below us, just baked emptiness, except for a scattering of lodges and camps. Our 12-seater Cessna hopped between dirt airstrips like a flying bus, dropping off safari visitors along the way. I had an appointment with a rare guide, licensed for game-viewing on foot. At Kogatende, as we came in to land, a small herd of wildebeest, three startled warthogs and a gangly giraffe all scuttled off the airstrip. A 4WD was waiting. We set off for the wilderness zone through a landscape of gentle hills and yellow grasslands edged by acacia woods. The tracks we drove on grew smaller until they disappeared altogether. Long grasses swished against the car as we dodged trees and boulders. At a dry riverbed I got out to help scout for a crossing place. On the far side, we passed a pride of lions sitting in the grass, scanning herds of wildebeest and impalas in the distance.

The Wayo camp was strung along the banks of the Bologonja river, half a dozen tents on an open rise. The moment the car stopped and the engine died, I was seized by a sense of peace. The only sounds were of Africa: the river chattering among boulders, the clattering of Egyptian geese and, far away, an elephant trumpeting. ‘There’s a disconnect when you’re in a vehicle – you’re seeing Africa on your terms,’ said Jean du Plessis, the owner of Wayo Africa, who would be leading me. ‘Walking is a different experience. You’re here on Africa’s terms. That’s when you really begin to feel the continent.’ Jean grew up in South Africa running around the African bush with Zulu children in the Drakensberg mountains. He came to Tanzania 20 years ago to help train park rangers, and spent a lot of his time on long foot patrols. He fell in love with the country – and with the idea of seeing it at walking pace. His contacts allowed him unique access to the wilderness zones, but it’s a two-way deal: for the park authorities Jean’s camps act as a deterrent to poachers in less-visited areas. I’d imagined walking meant roughing it, but there was something splendid about the camp at Bologonja – this was how visitors saw Africa 100 years ago. Furnished with duvets, mattresses and camp chairs, the two-man tents were cosy and comfortable. Close by was a roofless loo of wonderful simplicity – a composting short-drop thunderbox; a sink with a mirror; and a bucket shower readied with warm water by staff on demand.

Stanley Stewart / The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing

In the sand by the rIver, PrIm knelt down to examIne a lIne of anImal PrInts. then he stood uP, suddenly.


“We had pre-dinner drinks around the campfire prior to three-course candlelit meals served beneath skies swarming with stars”

Opening pages: A Wayo Camp walking guide leads his party into the wilderness These pages: Aerial view of the two-man tents at Wayo camp, Bologonja

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“On the far side, we passed a pride of lions sitting in the grass, scanning herds of wildebeest and impalas in the distance�

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We had pre-dinner drinks around the campfire prior to three-course candlelit meals served beneath skies swarming with stars. I felt I could linger here for a week, but Bologonja was merely base camp, where the walking base safaris begin and end. As we chatted round the fire after dinner, I sensed Prim was keen to get going. ‘There is a male elephant that roams a territory a couple of days’ walk from here,’ he said. ‘He’s very old, a bit cantankerous, and lives entirely on his own now. I have watched him for years. He is like an old friend. I am keen to see if he is still alive.’ Awaking in the pre-dawn I dressed by lantern light. When I emerged from my tent, the eastern sky already carried a rose tint. Over coffee by the embers of the previous night’s fire, I watched the landscape across the river slowly materialise: the smooth, lion-coloured boulders, the flat-topped acacias, the slopes of yellow grass dotted with hundreds of wildebeest and zebra. As we ate a hearty breakfast, a great chorus of chattering birds filled the morning. We were a small party: myself and a mother and daughter from New York. We were accompanied by two guides, Prim and George, a park ranger. Regulations stipulate that both men should be armed (on foot, extra levels of safety are required). But in many years trekking the Serengeti, neither men had ever needed to shoot. We followed the line of the river, among scattered trees, towards the Nyama Lumbwa Hills. The smell of wild mint and sage rose from beneath our feet. In the fresh morning air, with the grass still wet with dew, the early sun casting long shadows and the birds singing, Africa felt new-born. Prim moved with care, gently dispensing information and stories. There is, he told us, an old African saying that you feel a place through the soles of your feet. Walking, I began to savour nuances – I was no longer just looking at Africa, I was beginning to sense it. He showed us an orange caterpillar as long as a man’s hand – its bristling hide would produce stinging sores if touched. He pointed out a woodpecker cocking its head in order to hear the subtle movements of larvae beneath the bark, and the honey guide flitting noisily

from tree to tree trying to lead us to a beehive in the hope we would open it. He explained how termites could build new ‘chimneys’ in a day to achieve the optimal temperature inside their castellated mounds. We followed a trail of Matabele ants on their way to raid a termite mound. For another bird, the anteater chat, it was love rather than lunch – from atop the highest fever tree, it sang its heart out to a dowdy, uninterested female not far away. Prim’s detective work was ceaseless, but beside his Sherlock act, I was the bumbling Watson, bemused and amazed in turn. He lifted a fistful of grass, smelled it and told us about the leopard that had recently passed this way. Stopping by hyena poo, he told us the animal’s age and habits, the specifics of its lunch. He knelt to examine rhino tracks and could tell us when the beasts passed and where they were going. Crime scenes were Prim’s speciality, and the Serengeti is thick with corpses. We meditated for a time on the skeleton of a juvenile lappet-faced vulture beneath a tree. Eventually Prim reached his verdict: fratricide. It had been killed by its siblings in the nest above, and a parent had disposed of the body by pushing it out of the nest. By the remains of a wildebeest, he recited its biography – its age, sex, status in the herd, and how it had met its end. He pointed out the differing lengths of the femurs on its front legs. It had had a limp, and was too slow for the lions that had taken it down. Life was everywhere. In a dry riverbed, two hyenas paused, turning their great heads slowly to look at us with malevolent eyes as vultures fed on a fresh carcass nearby. Elegant in the air, the birds were colossal on the ground, Jurassic Age survivors, squabbling over carrion, their bald heads bloodied from foraging in entrails. Of course, the Serengeti wasn’t all death and defecation. A herd of zebras, a couple of hundred strong, suddenly lifted their heads among the trees in front of us, then turned and galloped away. A small group of impalas, elegantly poised, watched us from the far side of the river. A family of warthogs passed at a stiff-legged trot, their tails sticking up like antennae. At some distance, giraffes browsed among acacias, their long necks protruding amusingly

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among the branches. But for comic appeal they were upstaged effortlessly by the wildebeest, creatures composed, some tribes say, from the animal parts God had left over: a few stripes from the zebra, a handful of lion’s mane, the head of a warthog and the neck of a buffalo. Yet they also offer one of the great spectacles of the Serengeti. Herds migrating in search of fresh pasture make epic river crossings, which safari-goers congregate to watch – as I did, after a walk in the bush. In a way that seemed fitting for these hapless creatures, the thrill was chiefly in watching crocodiles devour them as they flailed mid-stream, like freeloaders vacuuming up the buffet at a party. It was elephants Prim wanted to find; in particular the ageing male he’d told us about. ‘The old separate from the herd in their last years so as not to slow or hinder,’ he said. ‘This elephant is like a recluse these days, waiting to die.’ A small group of them appeared on the far bank of the river later that day. Behind a screen of trees they were grey ghosts; stepping into the open they were suddenly solid and real. Lifting their trunks, they pulled entire branches off the trees as if they were twigs. Prim scanned the hills beyond with his binoculars for the old male. ‘It’s silly. There are other elephants, other animals. But for me, the landscapes are not the same without him.’ We walked for three days, starting early each morning, when the air was cool and fresh, and reaching our overnight fly camps by lunchtime. Cooks and porters, having gone ahead, would already be preparing food. Tents were usually pitched on a sand bank next to a fresh stream so bathing was a few steps away from the front flap. We

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spent the heat of midday resting and reading beneath awnings. Tea and fresh muffins arrived at four o’clock. Then, late afternoon, we set off to explore. At some point on each outing, we came upon a spoor of fresh elephant dung, grassy blocks that Prim would examine, looking for clues. On the third day, in the late afternoon, we crossed the river and struck across country to emerge on a wide plain. A pair of tawny eagles circled above a family of warthogs, a mother with four young clambering over rocks. We walked for a couple of hours, savouring the last light of the day. Then, as we were turning back towards the camp, we heard it... From somewhere beyond a wood away to our left, where the sun was starting to set, came a trumpeting. Prim stopped and listened. A moment later a great bull elephant appeared on the skyline from behind the trees, silhouetted suddenly against the red sun, like an African cliché. Prim nodded. ‘It’s him,’ he said. ‘He is still alive.’ His face was broken by a smile. ‘And he looks well.’ The creature was magnificent, seemingly twice as large as any elephant I had seen before, with a pair of wonderful tusks catching the last light. Trunk raised in defiance, ears flapping forward, he began trotting menacingly towards us in elephantine slow motion. I felt the same rush of adrenaline as I had done on that first morning seeing the two lions so close in the long grass. His thunderous footfalls seemed to reverberate through the very ground on which I stood. I wasn’t just seeing or hearing his approach, I was feeling it. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit


“His thunderous footfalls seemed to reverberate through the very ground on which I stood�

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50 World Traveller

Buenos Aires

Laura Whateley finds her feet in Buenos Aires

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Clockwise from above: a food truck in Zona Rosa; a house in the colonial district of La Candelaria; Church Museum


he Germans are even more tense, I’m reassured by my dance teacher, as I stiffly embrace a sweaty man from Seattle on a darkened dancefloor. “But by the end of the evening they are hugging and kissing everyone like true porteños [Buenos Aires residents].” I have already downed a strong drink for a bit of Argentine courage from a table covered by a red cloth on the edge of the floor and watched strangers dance sensually together, legs expertly tangled, faces almost touching, eyes shut, communicating through the rhythm of the bandoneon (concertina) and live orchestra. This while trying to keep my eyes averted for fear of accidentally locking them with an expert bailarin (male dancer). Cabeceo is the signal to dance: a man scans the room to make eye contact with a woman he wants to dance with and subtly tilts his head, a woman might nod to accept, the man will stand, collect his partner and escort her to the floor; if you are not keen you pretend not to have seen, to spare a man’s blushes. Too soon it is my turn, along with a handful of visitors mostly from the US and Latin America, to join the beginners and learn the most basic of tango steps. The teachers chat away in Spanish, but you do not need to understand the language to figure out where your feet should be going in the eight-count formation.

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Half an hour later I’m dreaming of a new career as a tango star. It is about $10 to enter La Viruta Milonga, one of about 150 tango clubs across Buenos Aires, at least one of which is open all night on any night of the year. For that you can listen to live tango music, watch people dance, learn yourself, pay extra for dinner and malbec, then join in until closing at 6am. The dancefloor is heaving at 4am. Taxis lined up outside are not there to pick up visitors, but are owned by drivers having a quick tango during their break. Dancing is just one of the activities offered by a new local company, Immersion Tours, to encourage visitors to get under the skin of the city; many, such as visiting a milonga (tango club), or eating the best steak of your life, cost very little. A stay in the Argentine capital has got cheaper, too. The city’s many boutique hotels, while not cheap, have become more affordable for visitors; the government, hoping to attract more tourist pesos, last year abolished the 21 percent tax on hotels for non-Argentinians. Shopping is still painfully expensive; the Argentine woman I sit next to on the plane tells me it costs about half her monthly rent to buy a coat. But things are changing, with a new right-leaning government keen to boost investment. It is hard to escape politics, history and changing economic landscapes here. On

Buenos Aires

“At least one of the 150 tango clubs across Buenos Aires is open all night on any night of the year”

Caption please xxx

a tour around the city I pass the central bank, where my guide points out the dents and scratches on heavy metal shutters from where crowds banged the doors to get access to their cash during the crisis of 2001. Everyone I meet has an opinion on Perón, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, and whether or not residents pay too much tax. High taxes have, however, resulted in a commitment to providing citizens, and visitors, with access to high culture, free of charge. The grand beaux arts post office building, completed in 1928 and modelled on New York’s main post office, is now the impressively huge Kirchner Cultural Centre, one of the best of several arts centres in the city that are free to visit for hundreds of concerts, exhibitions, book fairs, dance classes and even yoga. A visit to the Teatro Colón opera house is a must. Like so much of Buenos

Aires, with its wide boulevards, Parisian architecture, British-designed subway, Italian-influenced language and 'Spanish soul', it is a mishmash of European and Latin American style. Its sweeping grand-entrance staircase is a patchwork of white carrara marble from Tuscany, pink from Portugal, yellow from Siena and orange from Verona, with art nouveau floor tiles from England. The auditorium takes my breath away. It seats nearly 2,500, with standing room in the vertigoinducing 'henhouse' for a further 500, at the top of the 28m-high ceiling, crowned with a chandelier of 700 lightbulbs. The best seats are reserved for the mayor, the president and the Pope, but I am fascinated by the widows’ boxes, hidden behind an ornate grille either side of the stalls, where, until 1955, women in mourning would sit during the two-year World Traveller 53

Main image: The historic San Telmo market, which opened in 1897 Right: One of the city's many murals

period they could not be seen in public. I try to get tickets for a concert — they can be as cheap as $10 for 'henhouse' standing — but it is near impossible unless you book two months in advance. A good trick, however, is to turn up for a rehearsal, when you can sit in the auditorium and experience the theatre’s world-class acoustics for free. The other grand theatre I rate is now a bookshop, El Ateneo Grand Splendid. It is frequently voted one of the world’s most beautiful, with an ornate frescoed ceiling, shelves lining the stalls and a café on the stage. There are more bookshops per capita here than in any other city, with more second-hand bookshops than London. Many have cafés, where you can sit and read all day with no hassle. Among the other bookshops, I love the tiny, arty Librosref, with green velvet mid-century armchairs; Libros Del Pasaje, which has ladders to scale the tall wooden bookshelves and a wine bar at the back; and Librería del Fondo in Palermo Soho, which has a café in a sunny, rainbowpainted courtyard, with bright red chairs and a balcony filled with cactuses. Many of Buenos Aires’ art galleries are free too and are open in the evening for workers to get their culture fix after office hours. I wander around the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, with Latin America’s largest collection of public art, just before it closes at 8pm. Downstairs are Rodin sculptures and 19th-century European art works from Monet to Van Gogh, but I prefer the upper floor with more unusual contemporary Argentine and Latin American art, portraying gaucho life, or 20th-century political struggles. Some of the best political works are to be found on the side of buildings, shops and houses. Buenos Aires is one of the top cities in the world for street art: the authorities take a laissez-faire attitude to it and politicians often hire artists to produce street art propaganda. Down residential roads in the neighbourhood of La Boca is a huge painting of a woman in a headscarf, representing the Madres, identified by white pañuelos, or handkerchiefs, worn on their heads, who demonstrated against the disappearance of their sons during the 1970s military dictatorship. Across from the Boca Juniors’ stadium, painted on the side of a 54 World Traveller

Buenos Aires

Laura Whateley / The Times / News Licensing

“Taxis are lined up outside by drivers having a quick tango during their break” high-rise housing block, is a giant Carlos Tevez playing football with a small boy. I cruise around the sunny, brightly painted streets of La Boca on a bike, which proves an excellent way to see what is a surprisingly green city, studded with willowy, purple jacaranda trees in late November. Buenos Aires is divided into 48 barrios and it can be hard work getting around. For travellers watching the pennies, the buses are cheap, but can be held up by bad traffic or protests that frequently block roads. The subway, designed in 1913 and modelled on London’s, is handy, but increasingly people cycle around — bike lanes are being added all the time and the city has free yellow bikes to use. Other parts are easy to cover on foot, including the city’s richest and most European-looking, Recoleta, and the trendiest, Palermo. One of the best sights in Recoleta is free: its cemetery. It is inspired by the great Parisian graveyards, but is even more eerie and impressive than Père Lachaise, with row after row of architecturally intriguing mausoleums

and more than 6,400 statues, sarcophagi and crypts, housing the rich and powerful of Buenos Aires. Evita is buried here, 5m underground, although her mausoleum is tucked away and remarkably modest. There is more interesting history in San Telmo, a district of narrow cobbled streets and old-fashioned wood-lined cafés, once the home of the wealthiest late-19th-century families until yellow fever cleared out communities who relocated to Recoleta. Huge houses were abandoned and occupied arrived European immigrants, who started selling the goods they found inside, such as family silver collections. The tradition has remained: on Sunday afternoon I stroll around the weekly antiques market, which is selling genuine, good-value antiques, from cutlery sets to old gramophones. The indoor market here has more antique shops, alongside bargain places to eat. Try the tiny, cult, hole-in-the-wall Nuestra Parrilla, where there are just a handful of stools round a greasy barbecue, producing the juiciest steak for just a few dollars. Or grab an empanada from a bakery for $1 or so and sit on a step in the sunshine. World Traveller 55

“I cruise around the brightly painted streets of La Boca on a bike, which proves an excellent way to see what is a surprisingly green city�

Painted buildings of the Caminito street museum

56 World Traveller

Buenos Aires

It is in Palermo, however, where I find the coolest and best-value restaurants. It’s a familiar story: the district was taken over by young designers looking for cheap studio space and became a hip area of independent shops, bars and pricey homes on leafy streets with colourful front doors. Allie Lazar, a local foodie who writes the Pick Up The Fork blog, says that the craze for burgers and craft drinks has just reached Buenos Aires (try the Burger Joint on Calle Jorge Luis Borges, with graffitied walls and pictures of Che Guevara). There’s cheap pizza and gelato on every corner, thanks to strong Italian immigration – at one stage half the population of Argentina had Italian heritage. If you want a full, fancy, sit-down steak-of-your-life experience, though, head to La Cabrera, one of Buenos Aires’s most famous parrillas (grills). Every day it has a happy hour from 6.30pm to 8pm, during which the whole menu, including wine, is discounted by 40 percent. Get there early, before queues start to form. The waiter suggests I try the most popular cut, tenderloin. A slab of buttersoft meat arrives, almost the size of my head, for about $16, with free sides of apple sauce, pumpkin purée, mashed potato and a strange but tasty egg, ham, pea and béchamel mixture. For porteños, eating at 7pm would be unthinkable; weekend dinners are often at 11pm, before people go out partying from about 3am. There’s yet more steak and empanadas at La Ventana, one of the city’s many tango shows, where dinner is served before you sit down for the performance. If you are a fan of Strictly Come Dancing you’ll love the noisy performance of kitsch, acrobatic dancing, with sparkly costumes, a tango singer blasting out Evita classics, with black and white footage of Eva and Juan Perón in the background, and a gang of gauchos demonstrating their panpipe skills. At $120, though, such a show does not come cheap, and you would not catch a porteño in the audience. I’m a milonga convert – for the real Buenos Aires experience save your pesos and work on your eye contact. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit World Traveller 57

Weekends Staycations and short-haul escapes

over the hills and far away sometimes the best places can be the most difficult to reach, as was long the case with the ancient mountain village of XÄąnalÄąq in azerbaijan (pictured). while a road now leads the way, it remains high up on the tick list for adventure travellers. find out more about the destination in our mini guide (page 60) and read on for a selection of tempting staycations (page 66) and travel offers (page 81). World Traveller 59

MINI BREAK Heydar Aliyev Center, with a view towards historic Baku

Your guide to: AZerBAiJAN An historic nexus between Europe and Asia where futuristic-looking landmarks stand amid centuries-old caravanserai, Azerbaijan is a charming paradox for the curious traveller Words: Claire MalColM


nown as The Land of Fire, Azerbaijan keeps its cultural identity burning bright as it continues to grow into a modern nation. From its fire-worshipping heritage to the architecturally stunning Flame Towers that characterise the Baku skyline, it offers a visual feast of contrasts in a dramatic setting lapped by the Caspian Sea and surrounded by the Caucasus Mountains. Marvel at its natural wonders, tick off a ream of UNESCOlisted sites or simply sip tea at a pavement cafĂŠ along the old Silk Road route to get a real feel for the place...

60 World Traveller

The perpetually aflame Yanar DaÄ&#x; (Fire Mountain)



A view from the Old City, Baku towards Flame Towers

On the beaten track A trip to Lahıc, the copper-smithing capital of the country, will net you some engraved, hand-beaten pieces where families of blacksmiths have been plying their trade for generations. Located at the foot of the Great Caucasian Ridge, the former mining town is also known for its brass items and attar stores that sell locally harvested mountain herbs for culinary and medicinal purposes. Magic carpets Up your game when it comes to floor coverings with a silk carpet from the heart of Azerbaijan’s northwestern silk region. The small but beautiful town of Sheki has a long tradition of carpet weaving, with local workshops producing the most exquisite pieces, as well as traditional silk scarves known as kelaghayi. Closer to Baku, the Qadim Quba workshop is your go-to for naturally dyed wool carpets. Luxury labels Back in Baku, a profusion of designer names (from Gucci to Salvatore Ferragamo) line the grand Neftchilyar Avenue while the city’s style set flock to Port Baku Mall on the same street for more high-end label love. There, you’ll also find fabulous kelaghayi scarves from in-demand designer Menzer Hajiyeva. Traditional keepsakes Xxxxxx

LANDMARK MOMENTS #travelgoals The historic Maiden Tower is Baku’s original landmark, and while its architectural provenance is much debated (the general consensus is 12th century), the monument's rooftop views over the bay and Old City make it a must-do

Light it up A visual homage to The Land of Fire, dominating the Baku skyline, the triptych Flame Towers transform after dusk with a light show that switches between fiery orange to the blue, red and green of the national flag. Power to the people The late Zaha Hadid was the architectural icon behind the stunning Heydar Aliyev Center. Its flowing wave-like design houses a museum, gallery hall and auditorium dedicated to Azerbaijan’s past and future vision. Roll up

The Formula 1 Azerbaijan Weave in a spot of rug shopping on Grand Prix is taking place at Neftchiler Avenue then pop down Baku City Circuit from 26-29 the road to the Azerbaijan State April, promising an exhilarating Carpet Museum for an insider race through the historic heart of the city and alongside the look at exactly what goes into seafront promenade. After a creating these practical works of day by the track, get your funk art. Housing the largest collection on at the after-race concerts of Azerbaijani carpets and rugs in – British band Jamiroquai is the world, and representing different headlining the opening night. periods, the building was designed by renowned Austrian architect Franz Janz.

World Traveller 61


Get messy at the mud volcanoes

#travelgoals Catch a game of chovkan – Azerbaijan’s take on polo, played with a curved wooden stick – and join in the party atmosphere by dancing to the folk music

Palace life A tiny but exquisite remnant of Azerbaijan’s royal past, the two-storey wooden Xan Sarayı was the summer palace of the Sheki Khans and features stunning stained glass windows, 18th-century frescoes and mosaic tiles. Feel more of the noblesse oblige vibe at the even tinier winter palace. Or, for a flavour of the town’s trading past, you can also take a peek inside the Sheki Caravanserai (traveller’s inn). Mountain retreat There’s more fresh air on offer in the historic district of Qabala. Take a picturesque cable car ride over the valley far below at the Tufandag tourism complex and spare a few hours to explore the spectacular Yeddi Gozel Waterfall and Ismailli State Reserve.

NATURAL WONDERS Mud, glorious mud Home to almost a third of the world’s mud volcanoes, Azerbaijan’s sulphurous and occasionally explosive landscape is best explored in the Gobustan State Reserve where you’ll also find more than 600,000 ancient petroglyphs and the famous ‘musical stone’, which tinkles like a tambourine when played with small stones. Just follow your nose.

Uncharted exploration An up-and-coming tourism hotspot, the landlocked autonomous state of Nakhchivan (Noah’s Home) is a bit of a trek (perhaps the easiest way to reach it is by catching a flight from Baku). Local legend has it that the ark landed here after the flood and Noah died here (his mausoleum is a place of pilgrimage). Be at one with Mother Nature and explore the salt caves of Mount Duzdag (its therapy caves can soothe those with respiratory disorders such as asthma) and Lake Batabat, which is perched 2,500 metres above sea level.

Ring of fire A stretch of hillside that’s perpetually aflame, Yanar Dağ (Fire Mountain) is thoroughly deserving of its mysterious moniker, with Marco Polo even mentioning it in his travel accounts. A fascinating natural phenomenon fuelled by the country’s huge underground gas reserves, a nighttime visit is particularly memorable (it’s just a 30-minute drive from the centre of Baku). Close by is the 17thcentury Ateşgah temple, a shrine of fire worship. Crude relief The only spa town in the world where a bath in black gold is on the treatment menu, a visit to Naftalan in central Azerbaijan to ‘take the oils’ is a unique experience. The 10-minute treatment using gently warmed oil is reportedly said to benefit those affected by psoriasis, arthritis and rheumatism. 62 World Traveller

Xan Sarayı was the summer palace of the Sheki Khans



Four Seasons Hotel Baku

Azeri influences It doesn’t get more multicultural than Azeri cuisine, which has Middle Eastern, Persian, Eastern European, Russian and Turkish influences. Popular with locals and travellers alike, Sumakh's menu is as inclusive as its clientele. From moreish pumpkinstuffed dough pancakes (qutab) to the finest Caspian black caviar, this central Baku restaurant is infused with Azerbaijani tradition. A Baku breakfast The scent of freshly baked bread permeates Baku’s Old City every morning as cutesy local café Sehirli Tendir fires up the clay oven. Join the line to grab a table and tuck into hot tendir (bread) – a signature dish that’s best enjoyed with homemade jam and sour cream, or served with its bestselling egg and tomato breakfast dish.

Photos: Courtesy of the Representative Office of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Azerbaijan in the GCC

Fish supper On the shores of the Caspian, Bibiheybet village and Derya Fish House is well worth the drive if seafood is your thing. It has a catch of the day menu style and choice of grilled or fried fish served with traditional sides. Try Shekerbura, a traditional sweet pastry dessert

#travelgoals Take to the water in a gondola on Baku’s own Little Venice waterway. Located on the seafront Bulvar (boulevard), it’s an amusing detour from the historic tourist trail

#travelgoals Visit a local chaykhana (tea house) for a glass of black tea, which is often served with homemade jam as a sweetener. Drink it local style with a sugar cube between the teeth as you sip


Four Seasons Hotel Baku With a coveted address behind the UNESCO-listed Old City walls, this new-build Beaux Arts-inspired hotel is all high ceilings, chandeliers and timeless luxury. Check out the breathtaking penthouse spa and go for a swim in the glass-roofed atrium pool. Fairmont Baku, Flame Towers The hospitality heart of the trio of iconic flameshaped towers, overlooking the city’s cypress-lined boardwalks and café-filled streets, the Fairmont is characterised by light and space with floor-toceiling windows in its guestrooms. There’s an impressive collection of restaurants to choose from, including the ever-popular Jazz Club.

Chenot Palace Wellness Hotel In Gabala, 225 kilometres from Baku, this wellness retreat occupies a scenic spot on a tranquil lake with a mountainous backdrop. Guests can check in for a minimum of three nights and set about exploring the natural landscape while enjoying the hi-tech treatments on offer (try the signature hydro-aromatherapy treatment to unwind body and mind). World Traveller 63

World traveller x abu dhabi

The literary circle Brush shoulders with poets, writers and illustrators at Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, where humanity is providing food for thought


hether you're a budding novelist or want to stay in the know about trends in the literary world, Abu Dhabi International Book Fair offers a coveted chance to expand your reading repertoire. Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the annual event draws leading lights from the publishing industry in the Middle East and North Africa and is designed to stimulate discussion.

64 World Traveller

This year’s installment is themed around humanity with the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan selected as Personality of the Year in recognition of his role in shaping UAE society. Poland is the guest country of honour. Visitors can discover the destination’s fascinating history though centuriesold literature, including the epic tales of Nobel Prize laureate Henryk Sienkiewicz and subtle poetry of Czesław Miłosz. The broader cultural programme will touch on ways that Arab artistic and literary issues relate to the wider world.

Highlights include an in-depth look at contemporary Arab sculpture and the movement to reignite Arab theatre by reconsidering the role of the play as a text. While you're there, you can browse hundreds of top tomes and get your favourites signed by visiting authors. For younger minds, the dedicated creativity corner will inspire kids to engage with books though a variety of fun and interactive games and activities. Taking place at ADNEC from 25 April to 1 May. Open daily from 9am to 10pm (4-10pm on Friday). Free to the public.



Travel NoTes

My Great Escapes 6


Photographer and storyteller Edcel Suyo runs the popular Dubai Travel Blog (, sharing his globetrotting adventures from behind the lens 1. Rome, Italy. I'm not usually very keen on historic or art attractions, but wandering along the narrow alleyways of Rome in search of famous sculptures, such as Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi, helped me to develop an appreciation for these visual masterpieces sprawled across the city. 2. Kakheti, Georgia. Thought to be home to the earliest wine-makers in the world, Kakheti in eastern Georgia, overlooking the Caucasus Mountains, is simply beautiful. I got to see how the wine is made. 3. Petra, Jordan. My wife and I toured Petra by night, when the Siq (the main entrance to the ancient Nabatean city of Petra) had over 1,500 candles illuminating the pathway towards the famous Al-Khazneh temple. The chilly November weather was ideal for hours spent hiking under a starry sky. 4. Siem Reap, Cambodia. I spent a day riding a tuk tuk touring the ornate temples such as Angkor Wat, Ta Prohm and Bayon, which offer a glimpse of the rich history and culture of the kingdom. 5. Fez, Morocco. While in the handicraft capital of Morocco, the bustling Medina of Fez, I was able to sit back and observe a slice of everyday life. A UNESCO World Heritage Centre, there is so much to see and do there, from touring the world's oldest university (University of al-Qarawiyyin) to seeing how leather's made at Chaouwara Leather Tannery [pictured] and bartering for poufs and colourful carpets at the atmospheric souks. Weekends 6. MahĂŠ, Seychelles. A naturally romantic setting, my wife and I got married there and stayed on for a relaxing honeymoon. Unwinding on an island surrounded by lush vegetation, white-sand beach and the inviting Indian Ocean was a great start to married life.



World Traveller 65

world traveller x the St. regiS abu dhabi


The St. Regis Abu Dhabi The club lounge is so 2017. Experience luxury, St. Regis style, by becoming an aficionado The rooms Celebrating it's fifth anniversary in 2018, this luxurious hotel on Abu Dhabi Corniche entices guests who value attention to detail. Design elements draw on the warm colours of the sands, souks and Middle Eastern fare, with patterns enriched by Emirati artist and jewellery designer Azza Al Qubai for an Arabian-palace-meets-Art-Deco feel. All rooms offer panoramic sea views, making it easy to soak up a sense of place.

The food There are eight places to eat and drink, including The Terrace on the Corniche Restaurant (request a table outdoors, overlooking the gardens); Villa Toscana, that'll transport your taste buds to the Tuscan countryside; and Crystal Lounge, for afternoon tea. Get a taste for New York’s Gilded Age by stepping into The St. Regis Bar for a signature Bloody Mary, perfected at the original St. Regis in New York in 1934.

The service Elevate your stay even further and discover the St. Regis Aficionado Privilege programme. Designed to exceed your expectations, you'll receive a host of complimentary benefits including daily buffet breakfasts and delicious dinners in The Terrace Restaurant, as well as selected evening drinks. Plus, you can take advantage of the St. Regis Signature Butler service – the unpacking and packing service is a winner.

To find out more, call +971 2 694 4444 or visit 66 World Traveller

Elevate Your Stay & Become A St. Regis Aficionado Introducing a new level of luxury, the era of the Club Lounge is long gone. Live exquisite at the best address in the heart of the city where refined tastes and relaxation become the norm. Elevate your stay and discover the St. Regis Aficionado Privilege. Experience service beyond expectation with complimentary enhanced benefits including: Daily Buffet Breakfast and a delicious Dinner in The Terrace Restaurant, selected beverages every evening in our restaurants & bars, access to a private meeting space, 2 pieces of laundry and pressing daily per guest as well as the St. Regis Signature Butler service including unpacking & packing service and complimentary tea & coffee throughout the day.

Š2018 Marriott International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their logos are the trademarks of Marriott International, Inc., or its affiliates.

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates t. +971 2 694 4444

Stay exquisite at more than 40 St. Regis hotels and resorts worldwide. @stregishotels

world traveller x Jumeirah at etihad towers


Jumeirah at Etihad Towers Check in to sky-high luxury overlooking the Arabian Gulf in the heart of the UAE capital The rooms An eye-catching architectural landmark with a prime beachside location, Jumeirah at Etihad Towers has 382 contemporary guestrooms with jaw-dropping Arabian Gulf views. Rise to the top by booking a high-floor Club Room and enjoy a world of Club Executive Lounge benefits, or opt for one of the fully-serviced studios to threebedroomed residences offering ample space for solo travellers and families alike.

The food With a choice of 12 award-winning restaurants, lounges and bars, there's a surfeit of gourmet experiences to delight. Must-dos include high tea at the Observation Deck at 300 (on level 74) and sundowners at Ray's Bar, with its panoramic views and innovative cocktails. For Japanese flavours, Tori No Su is the place to go for an unforgettable meal prepared by a kaiseki master.

The ACTIVITIes Action and relaxation is guaranteed in equal measure with three swimming pools, a stunning private beach, hi-tech gym (a personal trainer can draw up a bespoke workout schedule) and urban retreat Talise Spa (we recommend the 90-minute Akhdar Experience). If retail therapy is on the itinerary, the hotel is directly connected to Avenue at Etihad Towers, which boasts an exclusive collection of designer emporiums.

To find out more, call +971 2 811 5555 or visit 68 World Traveller

WEEKEND ESCAPE Experience a relaxing stay in the capital with complimentary breakfast and dinner.

T:+971 2 811 5888 |


world traveller x the ritz-Carlton abu dhabi, Grand Canal


The Ritz-Carlton Abu Dhabi, Grand Canal Enjoy a beachside stay just minutes from the UAE capital’s bustling heart The rooms Feeling rushed off your feet? Slow down the pace at this Venetian-inspired property. Unwind amid the lush, tranquil gardens by the babbling fountains and admire the view of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The spacious rooms and suites are elegantly decorated and some are interconnecting, which is ideal for families. If privacy is paramount, opt for one of the private garden houses and suites.

The food There are eight restaurants, each offering a distinctive dining experience. For quality steak, head to The Forge, tuck into Southeast Asian food at Li Jiang, or be entertained by the live performances at Mijana, which serves traditional Middle Eastern cuisine. If you're staying over the weekend, be sure to book in for the indulgent Friday brunch at Giornotte, where you can dine overlooking the gardens.

The ACTIVITIes Let a wave of relaxation wash over you at pampering haven ESPA. There are 16 treatment rooms nestled within, as well as a traditional hammam, sauna, steam rooms, relaxation areas, a private beach and plunge pool with a waterfall. Try the Inner Calm Massage, which uses a bespoke blend of oils and warm rose quartz crystals to soothe. For a total body blitz, the signature four-handed massage will come to the rescue.

To find out more, call +971 2 818 8888 or visit 70 World Traveller

world traveller x the Meydan hotel


The Meydan Hotel Race to this elegant hotel that's at the centre of all the action The rooms Within easy reach of Dubai International Airport, and just 12 minutes' drive from The Dubai Mall, this luxurious property is famous for its convenient location, iconic architecture and popularity among the social set. It features 284 rooms and suites, many of which have a private balcony with panoramic vistas of the racecourse. For a premier view of Burj Khalifa, however, you’ll want to stay in The Meydan Suites.

The food For a side of drama with your dinner, head to PRIME fine-dining steakhouse for its signature flambĂŠ. Settle into the oversized chairs and enjoy the live piano music while you taste the finest cuts. Shiba is the place to go for Japanese and Chinese specialities, with the open kitchen providing a window to the chefs at work. Lastly, the familyfriendly Farriers all-day-dining restaurant suits all with its international buffet.

The ACTIVITIes Spend your day relaxing on a sunlounger by the temperature-controlled infinity pool on the 11th floor, which overlooks the racecourse. At dusk, make your way to the 9-hole The Track, Meydan Golf, which offers floodlit night golf against a backdrop of the twinkling city skyline. Designed by Peter Harradine, the Troon-managed course has a 400-yard driving range that's ideal for working on those long shots.

To find out more, call +971 4 381 3333 or visit 72 World Traveller

ENJOY EXPANSIVE SPACES, INDULGENT LUXURY AND COZY COMFORT AT THE MEYDAN HOTEL, DUBAI The destination experience at The Meydan Hotel is complemented by seven food and beverage outlets ranging from casual to fine dining; extensive recreational and leisure facilities crowned with a rooftop infinity pool.

For reservations please contact: +971 4 381 3231 /meydanHotel



world traveller x BaB al ShamS deSert reSort & Spa


Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa Venture into the desert to experience an authentic Arabian style escape The rooms For a dreamy desert break away, this resort certainly delivers, with its rustic charm and tranquil vibe. There are 115 cosy rooms and suites – with interconnecting rooms available for larger families – featuring carved niches and alcoves to sequester yourself away in. Most have a private terrace or balcony offering views of the golden desert, lush gardens or sparkling swimming pool.

The food Gaze at the sunset at Al Sarab Rooftop Lounge, where you can taste mezzeh, sip cocktails and listen to live oud tunes. Move on to Masala restaurant, and tuck into an authentic Indian dinner under a canopy of stars while being serenaded by a sitar player. Alternatively, the family-friendly all-day-dining restaurant Al Forsan offers an international buffet and, at the weekend, the fun Friday Farmers Brunch.

The ACTIVITIes Whether you want to banish stress or give your energy levels a boost, a trip to Satori Spa, which specialises in Balinese massages, comes highly recommended. Nestled amid the dunes, it has four spa suites, including two couples’ suites (perfect for a relaxing side-by-side massage), an outdoor yoga area, a scented steam room and a spacious sauna. After your treatment, you chill in the scenic outdoor relaxation area.

To find out more, call +971 4 809 6100 or visit 74 World Traveller

YOUR ULTIMATE DESERT ESCAPE.. Nestled among the dunes, Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa is the world’s favourite choice for dream desert getaways. This oasis of tranquility combines rustic charm with top-tier hospitality and luxury to bring to life an authentic desert experience. BOOK DIRECT & SAVE

For reservations please contact: +971 4 809 6498




world traveller x roda al MUrooJ hotel


Roda Al Murooj Hotel City chic meets resort-style relaxation at this lively property in Downtown Dubai The rooms Situated directly opposite The Dubai Mall, in the heart of all the action, this five-star hotel offers a luxurious resort-style setting at an urban address. Book a Roda Discovery Premium Room and you'll have plenty of space to work and relax, city or pool views to gaze at, and access to all the benefits of the Executive Lounge, including a private reception area, airport transfers and complimentary breakfast.

The food A gem nestled within the hotel's lush green gardens, Tabule is the place to go for exquisite Middle Eastern delicacies. A further quintet of restaurants includes Pergolas for global dining on a grand buffet scale, the convivial Circle Lobby CafĂŠ for coffee and light bites (its homemade pastries are a delight), and Dubai institution Double Decker, for Britishthemed eats and entertainment.

The ACTIVITIes Retreat to the landscaped terrace pool where you can unwind and be in the moment – the picturesque spot is often a top choice for wedding ceremonies. If you need to expend some energy, two tennis courts serve fast-paced fun while Flow Health Club & Wellness has a gym, fitness studio, sauna and steam rooms, and offers bespoke facial and massage treatments designed to recharge your batteries.

Also check out Roda Beach Resort in Jumeirah and Roda Al Bustan Hotel near Dubai International Airport. Visit 76 World Traveller

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Reader offers Great deals to get you packing

gRaB youR passpoRt With four fantastic offers to book now (page 82), a selection of tempting global hotel deals (page 83), including at JW Marriott phuket (pictured), and dreamy weekend escapes (page 84), let our exclusive offers transport you somewhere new World Traveller 81


the FantaStIc FOUr

1 3

Ken Seet / Four Seasons


4 1


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82 World Traveller





grand Hotel KempinsKi geneVa

intercontinental Bali resort

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Four seasons resort mauritius at anaHita

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azerbaIjan pullman BaKu

3 nights starting from USD198 per person

Includes: Stay in a Superior Room and enjoy return airport transfers. Offer: Complimentary upgrade to the next room category. Valid from: Now until 30 April 2018.

arOUnD the wOrlD


sHangri-la BospHorus, istanBul

3 nights starting from USD725 per person

Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Offer: 15% discount on room rate, guaranteed room upgrade offer, 20% spa discount and VIP welcome amenities. Valid from: Now until 14 June 2018.


anantara dHigu maldiVes resort

3 nights starting from USD1,415 per person

Includes: Stay in a Sunset Over Water Suite with breakfast daily and return speedboat transfers. Offer: Stay 2 nights and receive an additional night free and complimentary upgrade to half board. Valid from: 1 April to 27 July 2018.


Banyan tree seycHelles Banyan Tree Seychelles Palazzo Montemartini Roma

Meliรก Madrid Princesa

3 nights starting from USD1,435 per person

Includes: Stay in an Ocean View Pool Villa with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Offer: 20% discount on room rate and one complimentary. private in-villa dining and sunset cocktails for two per stay. Valid from: 4 April to 13 June 2018.


JW marriott pHuKet

3 nights starting from USD265 per person

Shangri-La Bosphorus, Istanbul

Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Garden Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Offer: 20% discount on room rate. Valid from: 16 April to 30 June 2018.


ritz-carlton Kuala lumpur

3 nights starting from USD292 per person

Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Offer: Receive a 10% discount on the room rate. Valid from: 1 April to 30 June 2018. World Traveller 83

dnata travel offers

Sofitel Abu Dhabi Corniche, Abu Dhabi

weekenD eScapeS

Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara, Abu Dhabi

Bab Al Qasr Hotel, Abu Dhabi Swissôtel Al Ghurair, Dubai


eastern mangroVes Hotel & spa By anantara, aBu dHaBi 1 night starting from USD185 per person Special offer: 30% discount on room rate and a complimentary upgrade to a Deluxe Mangroves Balcony Room. Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Balcony Room with breakfast and return airport transfers. Valid from: Now until 30 April 2018. BaB al Qasr Hotel, aBu dHaBi 1 night starting from USD251 per person Special offer: 30% discount on room rate, 1 child below 12 years old stays for free. Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast, lunch and dinner and return airport transfers. Valid from: Now until 30 April 2018. soFitel aBu dHaBi cornicHe, aBu dHaBi 1 night starting from USD210 per person Special offer: 40% discount on room rate, 1 child below 12 years old stays for free, and receive Club Millesime privileges including light snacks, afternoon tea and an evening apéritif. Includes: Stay in a Prestige Suite with breakfast and return airport transfers. Valid from: Now until 30 April 2018. sWissôtel al gHurair, duBai 1 night starting from USD122 per person Special offer: 45% discount on room rate, 2 children below 12 years old stay for free, How to book

84 World Traveller

20% discount on F&B, and 20% discount at the spa. Includes: Stay in a Classic Room with breakfast and return airport transfers. Valid from: Now until 14 May 2018. tHe oBeroi BeacH resort, al zoraH 1 night starting from USD293 per person Special offer: 45% discount on room rate, 1 child below 12 years old stays for free, and 15% discount at the spa. Includes: Stay in a Premier Room with a Private Terrace including breakfast and return airport transfers. Valid from: Now until 15 May 2018.

The Oberoi Beach Resort, Al Zorah Concorde El Salam Hotel Cairo by Royal Tulip


concorde el salam Hotel cairo By royal tulip 3 nights starting from USD205 per person Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers included. Offer: 15% discount on room rate. Valid from: Now until 30 April 2018. Grand Hyatt Amman


grand Hyatt amman 3 nights starting from USD250 per person Includes: Stay in a Grand Room and return airport transfers. Offer: 15% discount on room rate and you can enjoy a guaranteed upgrade from Grand Room to Club (without access to the lounge). Valid from: Now until 30 September 2018.

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Suite dreams Our monthly finish with a flourish, delving into a suite that has a character and style all of its own

The Royal Residence

Atlantis by Giardino, Zurich Entertain in the majlis-style salons, unwind on the sweeping outdoor terrace, which offers views of Üetliberg mountain, and keep those newlybought timepieces safe in the vault inside this eight bedroom, eight bathroom Arabesque-styled residence, which is Europe’s largest luxury suite. The two Michelin-starred Ecco Zürich by chef Rolf Fliegauf is just a stroll away but, if you feel like staying put, you can request a meal with Chef Stefan Heileman to enjoy in the formal dining room – privacy guaranteed.

88 World Traveller

Abu Dhabi boasts a treasure trove of culture, just waiting to be discovered. From its rich historic traditions to its vibrant, dynamic arts scene. From a wealth of spectacular sites which offer a window into the past, to a calendar of world-class events with contemporary vigour, tradition and heritage. Now, all of Abu Dhabi’s cultural heritage is in one place for you. Abu Dhabi Culture is an easy-to-use platform offering the full breadth and depth of Abu Dhabi’s cultural information, right at your fingertips. Explore every historic topic, keep up-to-date with every calendar event, browse our latest photography and videography libraries, or go exploring via the walk-throughs and interactive maps.

Inspiration. Expertly crafted. Comprising two iconic towers, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is centrally located beside the Dubai Water Canal and offers a spectrum of facilities and services for a seamless experience. The hotel features: 1,608 Luxurious Guest Rooms and Suites, Over 15 Award-Winning Restaurants and Lounges, Saray Spa featuring Traditional Hammams, A Dead Sea Floatation Pool and 17 Treatment Rooms, State-of-the-Art Health Club and Fitness facilities, 8,000 sqm of spectacular Meeting Spaces.

JW MarriottÂŽ MarquisÂŽ Hotel Dubai Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971 4 414 0000 |

World Traveller - April'18  
World Traveller - April'18  

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