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Issue 119 | march 2018 | complImentary copy

How to do


like a local

rome Produced in Dubai Production City

A history lesson your kids will adore

zanzibar bahrain india Vietnam

Experience Polynesia in the heart of Dubai Parks and Resorts Step into an exciting world of curiosity with an unforgettable stay at Lapita, a unique gateway to the endless fun and enjoyment on offer at Dubai Parks and Resorts. Create moments to treasure with friends and family and stay in Polynesian inspired rooms with theme park access, bond over a meal at incredible restaurants and unwind at the lazy river and Ola Spa. Exactly like nothing else.

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Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Autograph Collection Hotels Dubai Parks and Resorts, Sheikh Zayed Road, P.O. Box 334221, Dubai, UAE LapitaHotel |

LapitaHotel |


Girls’ Day at Saray Spa. Renew for the journey ahead.

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JW Marriott Marquis Dubai | Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE T +971 4 414 6754 | | JW Marriott Marquis Dubai |

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*Terms & Conditions: Offer is subject to availability. Advanced booking required. Booking is valid for a group of maximum 6 people.

Welcome note

This monTh’s travel companions

With Europe enjoying a springtime awakening, nature bursting into bloom and families looking to make the most of the school holidays, march offers plenty of reasons to travel. And while going on tour with the kids can feel like being part of a travelling circus at times, the many memories you'll make are more than worth it. To help you get going, we've rounded up a variety of ideas especially for those with little ones in tow. From an educational trip to historical Rome (page 40), to escaping

managing Director

to a family-friendly resort in Maldives (page 68), there's ample

Victoria Thatcher

motivation inside this issue. For something a bit different, be

editorial Director

inspired by Anthea Rowan, who took her daughter on a bonding

John Thatcher

break away to the Zanzibar archipelago (page 46).

group Commercial Director

p25 Tom Aikens rounds up his favourite places to eat around the world

Adventure seekers looking to get under the skin of a

David Wade

destination can take a cue from Chris Haslam, who shares a

managing editor

beginner’s guide to India’s beautiful north (page 36), or head

Faye Bartle

to London and follow our locals’ guide to the homegrown

hotspots that characterise this buzzing capital city (page 30).

assistant editor

Wherever your wanderlust takes you this month, we invite you to

Habiba Azab

share your experiences via our social channels – simply use the

art Director

hashtag #worldtraveller to show us your view of the world.


international designer kelly Hoppen lays open her 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

p29 Fashion expert BeHnAz ArAm shows us stylish stockholm

TWiTTer @WT_magazine

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Photography credits: Getty Images, Phocal Media, and Shutterstock

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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

p75 The Thrift Trip blogger, Joy CAAsi, shares her most memorable travel moments

Cover image The Colosseum, Rome. Getty Images.

World Traveller 5

Contents March 2018

22 regulars









Insta-worthy aerial shots of the wildebeest migration, Bali and Istanbul

All that’s hot in travel this month, and why the party people are Miami bound

Michelin star toting Tom Aikens shares his list of mustdine restaurants

International designer Kelly Hoppen lays open her travel journal







Behnaz Aram, head of ready-towear at & Other Stories, reveals Stockholm's top shops

Take your travel cues from those in-theknow to make the most of your next trip to London

Inside the sublime Deluxe Suite at The Legian Bali World Traveller 7


54 features









First time to nothern India? Our beginner's itinerary takes you to the must-see sights

Who said school holidays aren't for learning? Family time in ancient Rome

What happens when a mother and daughter embark on an island hopping adventure?

Alex Robinson enjoys a slice of serenity on empty beaches in Southeast Asia











Swap the school run for a bonding break away at these family-friendly resorts

Joy Caasi, author of budget travel blog The Thrift Trip on her most memorable moments

Take advantage of our exclusive deals for a holiday to remember

Start your engines for a race through the best of Bahrain

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travel goals

Kenya, africa

The annual wildebeest migration is among nature’s most stirring sights. At this time each year herds begin to gather on the southern Serengeti plains, fattening themselves on the long grasses, birthing the last of their calves and readying themselves for the arduous trek north, which begins in April. Over a million wildebeest make the journey, funnelled into columns that can grow to as long as 40 kilometres, but their number is depleted by journey’s end. Treacherous river crossings account for the vast majority, as outsized Nile crocodiles lie in wait beneath the murky water, eager for a feast.

World Traveller 11

take me there

Bali, indonesia

In the shallows of Bali’s translucent waters, what looks like shadows are in fact seaweed farms, an industry that’s the lifeblood of the small communities on Bali’s neighbouring islands. Cultivated in low tide for a period of between two to three weeks, strands of seaweed are tied together and strung in lines, which creates the dark shadows seen from above. Once picked by hand, the seaweed is laid on the land to dry, before being exported to places like China, for use in cosmetics, and Japan, where it’s a key ingredient in Japanese cuisine, owing to its many nutritional benefits. 12 World Traveller

travel goals

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take me there

istanBul, turKey

The city where East greets West is a riot of sounds, sights and smells. On the European side of the Bosphorus, the boundary-setting strait which flows through it, is the city’s business and historical centre, while a third of Istanbul's cosmopolitan mass of some 15 million people are grouped on the Asian side. In the days of the Roman Empire, the city was called Constantinople, named in honour of the Roman Emperor Constantine, and like Rome it is built on seven hills. Having served as the capital of the Byzantine and Ottoman Empires, it’s a city that has played a starring role in history, and one that stands proud among the world's great cities.

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travel goals

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Whatever your vision of the perfect vacation – be it a fun family beach holiday, honeymoon romance or just relaxing in beachfront exclusivity – Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort offers a uniquely luxurious escape, inspired by Thai exoticism and the heartbeat of Dubai. Unwind in an enchanting Beach Pool Villa, with your very own private infinity pool. Soak up tranquil Arabian Gulf views from your Over Water Villa. Step straight from your room into the crystal clear waters of our 10,000 square metre lagoon pools. Culinary journeys excite with a melange of mouthwatering flavours. The prestigious sanctuary of Anantara Spa rejuvenates and renews, from a range of inspirational treatments, to indulgent rituals in the Turkish Hammam.




Globetrotter Be informed, be inspired, be there

treasured islands the andaman islands (pictured) come into focus this month with the opening of taj exotica resort & spa – check out page 22 for other new hotels to head to. We also tell you why Miami is hot right now (page 21) and flag some special suites for international Women's day (page 18). World Traveller 17


the hot list

Trending places dnata Travel's head of product, Rob Arrow, gives the inside track on where to go this month

Seoul is a fantastic place to explore, with great shopping and exquisite food. Now, there's the fabulous Four Seasons Hotel Seoul at which to enjoy a long weekend in this culturally exciting destination.

Party destination Belgrade is attracting an increasing number of fun-seekers eager to discover this music mad capital. A stay at Metropol Palace Hotel Belgrade will revive you after a night on the town.

Girls’ Trip São Paulo is fast becoming a cultural hub with some great museums and a vibrant restaurant scene. Stay at Palácio Tangará at the edge of the city, but be sure to make your way down to Paulista Avenue.

Conveniently connected to the US hub of Latino culture, Miami is easy to get to, and is a great starting point for a cruise. Stay at The Miami Beach EDITION to get a real feel for this crazy and fun city.

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To celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March, why not head to a hotel where female icons take centre stage? Perhaps the most famous of all female hotel residents, Coco Chanel lived at the Ritz Paris for over 30 years, always entering the storied hotel via the staff entrance. The hotel’s renovation in 2016 saw the opening of the Coco Chanel Suite, decorated in the signature black and white style of Chanel and housing many of her personal artefacts. Through the channel tunnel into England, is the similarly storied Burgh Island, a Devon landmark. It’s home to The Beach House, which was first built in the 1930s as a winter retreat for author Agatha Christie who, while in residence, wrote the novels And Then There Were None and Evil Under the Sun, both of which are set on

the island. At the opposite end of the design scale is the brilliantly brash Pretty in Pink suite at the Rendezvous Palm Springs Hotel, made famous for housing screen siren Marilyn Monroe and now a magnet for her fans. Yet while these rooms honour those who frequented them, The Hilton Portland & Executive Tower in Portland, Oregon, went a few floors higher by renaming itself The Duniway last year, in recognition of Portland pioneer Abigail Scott Duniway. A journalist, Abigail founded a women’s rights newspaper in 1871, starting a victorious fight for suffrage. What better place to stay to mark International Women’s Day?

I THINK WE’VE MET BEFORE? Was it in New York, Paris or maybe Bangkok? We’re always happy to see a familiar face. After you’ve made yourself comfortable in one of our stylish rooms, head over to one of the bars, where you’ll enjoy flawless service and chic surroundings. Discover your new favorite destination with Renaissance Downtown Hotel, Dubai. For more information visit or email

RENAISSANCE DOWNTOWN HOTEL, DUBAI Marasi Drive Business Bay Dubai PO Box 191984 United Arab Emirates t: +971.4.512.5555



Standing tall in the heart of Dubai Marina, featuring incomparable panoramic views of the city, combine the best of all worlds with luxurious accommodation, three contemporary dining destinations and a blissful caravanserai-inspired, Saray Spa.


Be our guest How Santa Monica's legendary hotel indulged its most famous guest If the Penelope Cruzstarring The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story is currently on your watch list, you’ll be accustomed to seeing scenes that were shot at the art deco Hotel Shangri-La in Santa Monica. During his lifetime, Versace termed the hotel his ‘secret hideaway,’ and since the show’s airing the hotel has revealed a secret of its own – that Versace was the only guest allowed to have parties in the penthouse suite, thus flouting the rules of the family-run hotel. Not surprisingly, Versace's parties here are said to have had a guestlist that was long with the names of famous actors, musicians, and writers.

Hot RigHt Now

Miami thrice No city on earth is as exciting as Miami this month. From the hedonistic hordes heading here for spring break, to the EDM enthusiasts in town for the biggest music festival of its kind, Miami has it all 1



Spring break Miami has long proved a magnet for Spring breakers keen to soak up the blazing sun by day and the equally hot nightlife after dark. South Beach is the epicentre of the action, where you’ll dive into a sea of bead-sporting milliennials slaloming along neon-lit sidewalks as they venue hop until the sun comes up.

Ultra Music Festival Every EDM DJ, producer and label of note will be in Miami for the annual Winter Music Conference, a decades aged gathering of the industry’s finest, which has since spawned Miami Music Week and the Ultra Music Festival, all in March. Expect to see DJs play almost everywhere in the city, including at restaurants and galleries.

Shop Miami Month While the party crowd sleep off their evenings of excess, the shopoholics take advantage by hitting Miami’s malls – both indoors and al fresco – to get their fill of month-long discounts. For the high-end, head to the luxury boutiques (Gucci, Chanel) of Bal Harbour Shops, which are dotted with tranquil carp ponds.

The colour palettes of the world's busiest cities – most prominently, London – proved the inspiration for Hackett's SS18 collection, part of which is this stylish weekend bag World Traveller 21


Season’s Greetings As Europe bids farewell to winter, its seasonal resorts open up to usher in the warmer weather. We’re packing our bags for these two summer stalwarts… VillA DubroVnik

Su GoloGonE



Season opening: 16 March Dubrovnik’s atmospheric and perfectly preserved old Town is a wonderful place to explore on foot, and a stay at Villa Dubrovnik (pictured) – cut into the cliffs above the indigo sea – provides the perfect base from which to explore its winning mix of city and sea. Soak off the fatigue from your sightseeing in the sun in your suite’s al fresco hot tub. or eschew walking altogether by hopping aboard the hotel’s own wooden speedboat to cruise to the sites in style.

Season opening: 23 March Every room at the Su Gologone hotel – hidden amid the spectacular mountainous area of barbagia – is individually designed, with each drawing creative inspiration from the rich traditions of Sardinian culture. With its season opening this month comes the unveiling of the brand new Wild Suite. it includes a wonderful garden terrace, a haven of white drapes and juniper trees, with a firepit and telescope for surveying the stars.

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A place where turquiose clear waters meet cloudless azure skies.

JW Marriott Marquis

Restaurant Week 25th March – 31st March Get ready to experience flavors from over 10 different gastronomies with the launch of JW Marriott Marquis Dubai Restaurant Week! From fine dining to casual dining set-menus there is something for every taste!

AED 130 – Pubs and Bars

Cafe Artois, Bridgewater Tavern, Aqua, La Farine

AED 160 – Casual Dining Izakaya, Positano, Garden

AED 190 – Fine Dining

Prime68, Rang Mahal by Atul Kochhar, Tong Thai

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai | Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay T +971 4 414 3000 | JW Marriott Marquis Dubai I

JWDubaiMarquis I



Chef’s top tables Tom Aikens remains the youngest British chef to have scooped two Michelin stars. His global casual dining empire includes Dubai's Pots, Pans & Boards

On my wish list…

Niko Romito’s Reale, which he runs with his sister. It’s housed inside a 16thcentury former monastery in Castel di Sangro, Italy, and is a gem.

benu San Francisco

l’effeRvesCenCe Tokyo

l'aRpege Paris Chef Corey Lee has brought all his magic to Benu. Having worked with Thomas Keller (The French Laundry) for many years, he has now made his own name great. You are completely spoilt in San Francisco because of the amount of two- and threeMichelin-star restaurants, but Benu is the best. Lee shows a magnificent example of individuality on each plate, with breathtaking creativity. FAVOURITE DISH: The 16-course tasting menu – it’s out of this world. A good friend of mine recommended L’Effervescence after meeting chef Shinobu Namae when at The Fat Duck. His food is created using a wonderful combination of modern and classic techniques, and is very clean and pure. When I ate here I had an amazing appetizer of porcini mousse, kujo neji (scallion) foam, kawahagi tartare, with mead and apple sorbet and it all went uphill from there. FAVOURITE DISH: Four-hours cooked Tokyo turnip, parsley, Basque ham and brioche. Alain Passard is such an inspiration to me. An incredible chef who I really admire. Here you're treated to an amazing meal created from fabulous homegrown (chef’s own gardens) produce. I don’t think there is another chef like Alain Passard, who truly understands the greatness of vegetables. His tomato tart uses the juiciest tomatoes and yet he manages to keep the pastry totally crisp – I just don’t know how he does it. FAVOURITE DISH: Tomato tart. World Traveller 25



Kelly Hoppen The international designer, who has turned her hand to everything from homes to yachts, hotels and restaurants, shares the travel experiences that have shaped her

This year I am constantly on the move. Verbier is up next, which should be super relaxing. Also in March I’m heading to Design Shanghai and Hong Kong for work, before jetting off to France, LA, and India. Travelling to such wonderful places for work is a constant source of inspiration for me. I was recently in Mauritius to install my LUX* Grand Gaube project. The sunshine, the food and the people there are magical. I also regularly visit the Far East and love the Eastern philosophy, sense of tranquillity, harmony and the general way of life. I tend to discover destinations through Instagram and by word of mouth. Once I arrive, I love nothing better than checking out the culture, the people and the little things, such as the shops and beaches, that make up its identity. Amazing company and great food is key to having a good holiday. I travel with different people for different reasons. My ultimate companion, though, would be my partner John, or my daughter Natasha and my new grandson, Rudy. During the summer we often spend time with friends in a big villa with lots of laughter and delicious food, creating long-lasting memories. Years ago I travelled to Bhutan, on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, where I climbed up to The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, perched on a cliff 900 metres off the ground. It had just opened to the public, and it was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. It will be etched in my mind forever. Kelly has recently refurbished LUX* Grand Gaube in Mauritius.

26 World Traveller Your passport to the Middle East's first fully bookable travel inspiration website

Extend your journey with World Traveller magazine by heading online to read more inspirational and exclusive travel content and take advantage of upto-the-minute hotel and holiday features

Dream Read Click Book


Clockwise from left: Top, & Other Stories SS18; earrings, & Other Stories SS18; skirt K-ourage; sunglasses, Chanel Summer 2018 collection; assorted jewellery, Karin Larsson Rydén; ring, & Other Stories SS18; waistcoat, & Other Stories SS18

shop my City


Behnaz Aram is head of ready-to-wear at & other stories' stockholm atelier The shopping scene in Stockholm is very varied, with a great mix of high-street and high-end. Around Stureplan, in Östermalm, is where you’ll find the best example of this wide-ranging offering. It’s home to fashion brands such as & other stories, Céline, Chanel, Byredo and many others. If you’re on the hunt for Swedish brands, Stockholm has many good mid-level labels such as Whyred (whyred. com), Filippa K (filippa-k. com), hope (hope-sthlm. com), and A Day’s march ( And if you want to delve deeper into Swedish style, check out some of the country’s emerging design talent: Lazoschimdl (lazoschmidl. represents a new way of doing menswear; K-ourage ( is a new brand that I’m currently intrigued by, while Felicia swartling ( does amazing jewellery. Speaking of which, one place I always

go to is Karin Larsson Rydén (, a bespoke jewellery designer and goldsmith working at 21Gram at Tegnérgatan 45. I design my own rings and she makes them for me. saker & ting is the place to head if you want to bling it up. Located at Sturegatan 28, it’s a boutique that stocks pre-owned high fashion and jewellery pieces, so you’re always likely to find something amazing. Outside of fashion, I’d recommend a visit to my favourite bookshop, Konst-ig ( at Åsögatan 124 in Södermalm – the staff here really know their art and design. And you can shop for amazing tasting local produce at matmarknad (stockholmsmatmarknad. se), where the emphasis is on artisanal foods from smallscale farmers. If you can’t wait to eat what you’ve bought, the market’s landmark restaurant, sturehof, serves dishes made from raw ingredients available in the market.

“K-ourage is a new brand that I’m intrigued by”

World Traveller 29

locals’ guide

the locals' guide to

London Get under the skin of the UK capital with these insider tips for discovering the homegrown highlights that'll turn your stay into a royal success

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locals’ guide

Foodie hotsPots James Thompson charts his food and travel exploits on Instagram (@ food_feels) keeping his 125k followers in the loop with the tastiest finds

Gardens by the Bay, Bay South

London is home to one of the most exciting food scenes in the world. The street food scene in particular is buzzing – there are so many options and it's a great way for vendors to test the market before opening a restaurant. Smokestak in Shoreditch (35 Sclater St, smokestak. is one of my favourites. The owner, David Carter, started selling his barbecue street food at festivals around the UK before opening the bricks and mortar incarnation. It serves the best smoked barbecue food in the city. There are a lot of new restaurants taking risks and pushing boundaries, supported by dedicated foodies open to trying new things. Londrino at London Bridge (36 Snowsfields,, which opened in December, is run by one of London's most exciting chefs, Leandro Carreira. He is putting his own spin on authentic Portuguese dishes with an emphasis on seafood. It's a place where you want to try a little of everything. For a quintessentially British fine dining experience, The Game Bird at The Stafford London in Mayfair (16-18 St James's Place, the-game-bird) does a sophisticated take on comfort food. Signature dishes like stews, pies and puddings – as well as a mean Sunday Roast – are brought to your table on a trolley and there are works from young British artists on the walls. A memorable meal out awaits at Sketch (9 Conduit St, Its home is the former London atelier of Christian Dior and there are plenty of rooms to explore, but I recommend you head to Pierre Gagnaire's two-Michelinstar Lecture Room & Library. I’ve had many memorable meals in the capital, but the simplest pleasures stand out, like enjoying pappardelle pasta with eight-hour beef shin ragu at Padella in Borough Market (6 Southwark St, padella. co). Feasting on great pasta while peoplewatching is always winner for me. World Traveller 31

locals’ guide


Take the 20-minute tube ride from central London to The Wardrobe Wimbledon ( – a menswear emporium that will kit you out in the finest British classics.

Liberty of London

the style setteR Lee Osborne, menswear consultant and founding editor of men’s style blog Sartorialee (@ sartorialee), takes us on a fashionable tour of the capital

go-to tailoRs Sartor London Sartor London ( is the brainchild of menswear designer and former pro golfer Faiyaz Amlani who established the brand to celebrate the art of dressing well, and to help recapture the essence of classic menswear from a bygone era. It utilises some of the finest materials in luxury attire. Edward Sexton Dagenham boy Edward Sexton and dapper socialite Tommy Nutter sent shock waves through Mayfair when they opened their now legendary tailoring house Nutters of Savile Row on Valentine's Day 1969 – the first new establishment to infiltrate The Row for 120 years. Sexton’s trademark 32 World Traveller

style of nipped-in waists and flared jackets boasting wide lapels paired with parallel trousers retains a cult following to this day. Beat a path to his HQ at 26 Beauchamp Place (, where 75-year-old Sexton and his protégé Dominc Sebag Montefiore still strum considerable sartorial rock ‘n’ roll.

dePaRtMeNt stoRes Fenwick of Bond Street For menswear shopping par excellence, nothing quite compares to Fenwick (63 New Bond St, It has one of the finest multi-brand edit spaces around and I've been hugely impressed by the curation of niche brands from the likes of Valstar and Massimo Alba, not to mention a shoe section containing gems from Crockett & Jones and Magnanni. Liberty of London For those of a more sportswear-slanted persuasion, the bounty that lies within Liberty (Regent St, is hard to beat. Fresh from a 2017 relaunch that saw over 20 new ready-to-wear and accessories brands added to the edit, the store continues to showcase the very finest in quirky British ingenuity alongside some

Fenwick of Bond Street

of the most sought after international brand apparel.

eXclusiVe BoutiQue Anglo Italian The trend of cult independent menswear stores bringing artisanal makers to international prominence shows no sign of abating, as Anglo Italian (57 Weymouth St, demonstrates. Jake Grantham and Alex Pirounis opened the doors last summer, with the aim of marrying the ease of soft Italian construction with the gravity of the English palette.

locals’ guide

Inside Hayward Gallery

the aRts adVocate Mixed media artist Sharon White (sharonwhiteart. exhibits regularly in London and knows all the best places to go to immerse yourself in art and culture


Fashion and Textile Museum, Bermondsey Village. Founded by British designer Dame Zandra Rhodes, this museum has something for everyone, from Chanel fashion classics through the ages to knitting classes. 83 Bermondsey St,


Covent Garden Market, West End. Covent Garden, especially the Apple Market, is the place to go for handmade goods and crafts, with glassware, artworks, jewellery and ceramics on display. Situated close to Theatreland, it exudes charm and captures the spirit of ‘Old London Town’. 130 King St,


Hayward Gallery, South Bank. This gallery contains a rich variety of work and has amazing architecture, but it’s the story behind the incredible artisans that impresses me. Past shows have included the works of Edvard Munch and Leonardo da Vinci. 337-338 Belvedere Rd,


Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly. The amazing store windows invite me in and I adore the elegant afternoon tea. The art exhibitions evolve from their connections with London’s Royal College of Art and the crimson carpets and gold interiors have inspired some of my Middle East paintings. 181 Piccadilly,


Victoria & Albert Museum, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea. The world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design, this iconic museum opened in 1852. It has a wonderful garden, and entry is free. Cromwell Rd,

World Traveller 33

world traveller x Qasr al sarab desert resort by anantara

Desert charm From sinking into a state of spa-induced bliss to saying “I do” amid the dunes, Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara excels in creating meaningful moments


et deep within the sun-drenched dunes of the Rub Al’Khali (the largest uninterrupted sand desert in the world), Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara lures travellers in search of a tranquil Arabian escape steeped in tradition. Get behind the wheel of a four-wheel-drive and make the twohour journey (200km) to the heart of the oasis from Abu Dhabi International Airport. Stretch your legs and prepare to slow down the pace as you discover all this luxurious hideaway has to offer. Start by settling into your room – we recommend the One Bedroom Anantara Pool Villa, which features a private pool and outdoor dining area where you can soak up the stunning desert scenery. If you’re aching to unwind, head straight to Anantara Spa, which draws upon traditional Arabic rituals and ingredients to help you feel your best. The signature Desert Fusion Massage uses specialist techniques to combat stress, fatigue and muscle tension by kneading hot stones and desert sand poultice combined with sweet almond oil over the body. For head-to-toe pampering, try the Traditional Moroccan Hammam, which involves a black olive soap cleanse and steam bath as well as a full body scrub with a kesse mitt at the skilful hands of a therapist. A relaxing bath, mini facial and hair treatment complete this traditional ritual, although brave souls can step into the ice room for an invigorating finish. There are five dining venues to choose from, including the popular steakhouse and rooftop lounge Suhail (arrive at sunset for the best views). For special occasions you can book a private in-villa barbecue, orchestrated by a dedicated chef and butler. Alternatively, take advantage of the Dining by Design service, which will whisk you and your loved one off for a romantic dinner in the grounds. You can fill up the memory bank by taking part in a selection of the adventurous activities on offer, from camel trekking to falconry. We suggest you saddle up and explore the surrounds on horseback before the hot summer months kick in (from May onwards) when this experience is put on hold. If you're new to horse-riding, or are a seasoned equestrian, your expert instructor will be happy to tailor the ride to suit your ability. With so many treasured elements, it may come as no surprise that the resort is popular for wedding ceremonies. Whether you have your heart set on a grand ballroom celebration or would prefer an intimate ceremony in a private villa amid the dunes, the dreamy setting will set the bar high for a stellar future together. To find out more, visit

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Anantara Spa

Pool Villa Dine on the terrace

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36 World Traveller


NortherN Soul You want relics of the British Empire, a dash of marble domes, and all of it topped off with a strong cup of char? Chris Haslam plots the perfect beginner’s itinerary to India’s beautiful north

Days 1-3: Kolkata This two-week journey by river and road through wild Assam starts in the city of Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), capital of West Bengal and once second only to London as the biggest city in the British Empire. It’s an intoxicating place: part colonial monument, part cultural capital and part high-spending hipster metropolis. Top sights include the Mullik Ghat flower market, best seen at dawn when the growers arrive; the dazzling marble confection that is the Victoria Memorial; the street-food stalls on Dacres Lane; the wonderfully eccentric Indian Museum, the biggest in the country; and, at 54A A.J.C Bose Road, the home of Mother Teresa. Days 4-6: The mighty Brahmaputra river It’s an hour’s flight from Kolkata to Guwahati, in Assam, the embarkation point for a cruise on one of the fastest flowing rivers on earth. Draining half of all the rainwater that falls on India, and nearly half of all the meltwater from the Himalayas, the Brahmaputra swells in monsoon season to more than 29km wide. In the dry season, dense jungle and palm-fringed paddies give way to dazzling fields of mustard and sunflowers, not to mention villages where people are so unused to tourists that your arrival will kick off a frenzy of selfies and tea. You’ll visit the silk-weaving workshops of Sualkuchi, rarely visited riverside temples, and Bhashmachal, said to be the smallest inhabited river island in the world (population: two men and a dozen or so World Traveller 37

Days 7-8: Kaziranga National Park The grass in Kaziranga National Park grows up to 6m high. It hides elephants, tigers, deer and about 2,000 of the world’s 3,000 one-horned rhinos. The traditional way to explore this riverside paradise is on an elephant, while the alternative is a 4WD safari, and while it might not get you as close to the wildlife as a pachyderm, it’s a lot kinder. Stay at the superb Diphlu River Lodge. It was good enough for William and Kate. Days 9-10: Majuli, river island The fast-growing city of Jorhat hasa gibbon sanctuary and little else, but a few kilometres west lies the Haroocharai Tea Estate, owned by the charming Rajib and Indrani Barooah. They also run a little B&B, called the Puroni Bheti Lodge, a good base for two nights. Around 20 minutes north is the ferry terminal for Majuli Island – once the biggest river island on Earth, now downgraded by erosion to the number-two spot. It’s home to the Missing people, a fun-loving lot famous for their music and their 38 World Traveller

weaving – if you see the fluffy blanket called a gadu for sale, don’t hesitate. Days 11-12: Teatime Shortly before his death in 1824, Mr Robert Bruce of the East India Company learnt that the Singpho people were growing tea in the jungles of Assam. He realised that India could rival China for tea production and in 1836 his brother Charles planted the first saplings at the Chubwa Tea Estate, near the town of Dibrugarh, just upriver from Majuli. It’s fair to say it took off: there are now 144 plantations in the district, the highest density in India, an achievement that has earned Dibrugarh the nickname Tea City. The Mancotta Tea Estate isn’t much younger than Chubwa, and the old planters’ house – a stilted structure in the Arunachal Pradesh style – is now a comfortable, welcoming hotel. From here you can gaze across the estate, hang out with the pickers, and get a tour of the factory. Day 13: Back to Kolkata The most appropriate way to say farewell is to take the cheesy evening cruise on the Hooghly river, sailing up to the Belur Math religious site to watch the magnificent sunset. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit

Credit: Chris Haslam / The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Syndication

golden langur monkeys). The Orang National Park on the north bank of the river is home to a healthy population of tigers, which can sometimes be seen swimming out to islands in the stream.


Three more advenTures in The norTh... Toy Train, darjeeling West of Assam, in the mountain state of Sikkim, Darjeeling, is the hill station of your dreams. Colonial bungalows sit in tea gardens with the snow-capped peaks of the Kanchenjunga range looming to the north. Reached aboard the Toy Train, this is walking country, with easy rambles through forests of rhododendrons and magnolias for views of Everest, Lhotse and Makalu. into nagaland Those dark mountains rising from the Brahmaputra flood plain to the south are in Nagaland — India’s wildest state. It’s a place of stunning beauty, populated by the friendly Naga tribes, who have mostly given up their headhunting ways. It was in this difficult opening pages: Victoria Memorial at sunset this page, clockwise from top left: Kaziranga National Park; Brahmaputra river; tea pickers crossing a plantation

land by the Burmese border that some of the fiercest battles of WWII were fought, including the Battle of Kohima, where, in April 1944, 1,500 British soldiers held off 12,000 Japanese. Living bridges Deep in the forests of Meghalaya, the mountain state between Assam and Bangladesh, the Khasi people put up with the highest rainfall on earth. Normal bridges can’t cope with the torrents, so the Khasi came up with the ingenious solution of training the roots of the native ficus elastica (rubber plant) to cross watercourses, thus creating astonishing living bridges. There are about 88 of them.

The Toy Train

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Rome foR a little one

Wondering what to do with the kids for spring break? How about a spot of time travelling to swot up on history amidst Rome’s ancient wonders?


Words by: Ellen Himelfarb

he taxi from Ciampino airport hurtled through the centuries like the Tardis. We skimmed moss-infested 5th-century ramparts, nipped past the arched remains of the Circus Maximus, and orbited the Pyramid of Cestius – razor-sharp and chalky-white, like some 2,030-year-old prototype for London’s Shard. ‘Look, quick!’ I shrieked to my daughters, struggling to fit the Colosseum in the window frame. ‘Gladiators fought lions here two thousand years ago.’ To my left, Lola, 9, inspected her fingernails. On my right, Camilla, 7, craned half-heartedly in her seatbelt. A minute later, palatial Il Vittoriano reared from behind a forest of pillars, and they were jolted to attention by the white marble. Lola gasped in awe. Now she’s getting it, I thought. ‘Tiger!’ Wait. What? And there it was, out of the back window: a branch of the Danish variety store Tiger. ‘Can we go?’ We’d been looking into holiday villas in Umbria when, on impulse, I slotted in a two-night stopover in Rome. I hadn’t been in a decade. And facing a yawning gap in our August diary and a hubby preoccupied with work, I anticipated the need for more time away from home. The kids, who’d gobbled up picture books on the ancient city, would be enchanted seeing the real thing, I reckoned. I knew it wouldn’t all be amber-tinged, pepperoniflecked and perfect. But I saw these 48

hours as an opportunity for 100 teachable moments. What are the school holidays for, if not the expansion of young minds beyond the classroom? And if the educational part fell flat, there would always be gelato. We dropped our bags in our faux-frescoed room by Piazza Navona and rushed out into a backstreet shadowed by ochre stucco. Slowly, so as not to break into a sweat, we crept towards the piazza with a terrace at every corner, where waiters carried trays of Aperol. The ‘rhubarb-rhubarb’ of tourists intensified. In the heat, a flush crept up the girls’ cheeks, but soon they were distracted by the majesty of Navona, that one-time sporting oval ringed with domes and towers. At the white marble Fontana del Moro, mermen thrust water-spouting conch shells, anatomy dangling in the mist. In the waning afternoon, street artists had already set up on the cobbles, and we settled in to watch one transform splotches of spray paint into a waterfall. Beside us, Bulgarian students queued for a portraitist displaying charcoals of George Clooney. Or was it Zachary Quinto? ‘I’m hungry,’ whispered Milla. My memories of Rome were of a chaotic metropolis with wide, snarled streets and a contempt for logic. But staying in Navona cut it down to size, its tight lanes crowded with restaurants. A Roman friend had pinned my Google map with recommendations. ‘Don’t go anywhere else,’ she urged. Her first choice, PizzeriaDa Baffetto, was a block away, so Milla was in

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luck. Except... ‘Chiuso per le ferie’, read a sign taped to the door. A funfair? Where? No matter. Down the road was Da Baffetto’s sister restaurant, La Montecarlo. Also dark. At Campo de’ Fiori, calmly cleared of the morning’s market stalls, I found that auspicious sign ‘Forno’ — a bakery serving bubbling rectangles of pizza. Pre-empting an insurrection, I bagged two white-cheese tranches and the girls nibbled happily as we strolled down Via dei Giubbonari. By the time we reached Renato e Luisa, a taverna locked behind extinguished lanterns, the penny dropped. Ferie. August. Vacation. Schoolgirl error. Thankfully, a few minutes down still narrower lanes, we plopped down outside Ba’Ghetto, a raucous trattoria churning out tuna-topped bruschetta and aubergine pizza. In the twilight, we eavesdropped on families splayed across the pavement where once, Jesus would have been locked in by the authorities. Next morning, we woke at 10am, alarmed that the morning is half over. But without my slowcoach husband to contend with, we were ensconced on the terrace at Sant’Eustachio by 10.30am, sipping fresh orange juice and, for me, coffee brewed with water from an ancient aqueduct. Gnawing on an ice cube, Milla spotted her first fresco, in the direction of the Pantheon... just your average breakfast, then. Soon, we were following a slow procession of tourists through the Pantheon’s Corinthian pillars, as worshippers have done since before Christianity. We navigated to the dead centre of the marble rotunda, nudging aside an Australian pensioner to get into place. Light beamed down on us like figures in a Michelangelo as we looked up, spellbound, to the circular opening in the dome. I’d forgotten the joy of gazing through that oculus to brilliant blue sky; I’d forgotten the Romans could build domes. Onwards to the Trevi Fountain, past palazzos and obelisks so commonplace in Rome they were barely signed. Fair enough, but they couldn’t match the big reveal around the bend. ‘It’s not a fountain, Mum,’ said Milla, spotting the arsenic-blue water tumbling over Trevi’s muscular marble horsewrestling bodies. ‘It’s a waterfall!’ This calls for a coin, I thought, retrieving two pennies from my purse as we neared 42 World Traveller

the mass of spectators. Handing them over, I told the girls, ‘They say you’ll return to Rome again, as long as you toss a...’ Thunk. Never able to hold on to money for long, Lola had misread the distance and clocked a toddler between the eyes. Downright gladiatorial behaviour. We moved in nearer, apologised, and squeezed onto the ledge so Lola could decipher the Roman numerals inscribed on the pediment: 1735, probably the most modern attraction we’d visit all weekend. Barely noon and the sun was already punishingly fierce as we crouched for selfies among the marble togas. Dipping even a toe in the water is forbidden here, so I knew I had to act fast. Time to deploy the ace up my sleeve – a Capuchin convent nearby. With the girls wilting at the traffic lights in Piazza Barberini, it was a prescient move. Shaded by oaks, the Convento dei Frati Cappuccini has a small museum displaying the terrifying tools of self-mortification. That’s just the entrée. The crypt at the back is the main event: cool, damp and decorated with the bones of 3,700 friars exhumed from the catacombs. In one chapel, shoulder blades form winged patterns under the arches; in the next, tailbones spread like tiles. Ribs, then skulls, congregate in the hundreds. Mummified bodies in robes lean in like Madame Tussauds waxworks. ‘I’m hungry,’ whispered Milla. Once again, I didn’t see the connection. There were still the Spanish Steps on the agenda, four blocks away. Alas, we found the vast staircase wrapped in scaffolding. Luckily for Milla, round the back just off posh Via del Babuino, two women laden with shopping gorged themselves with bowls of pasta at Dillà. She wanted in. Nobody in this chic bistro seemed to mind my two limp lasses. And the lasses didn’t mind that the menu was aimed at ladies who lunch. Milla devoured lasagne layered with paper-thin courgette – a vegetable I thought I’d never see on her fork. Lola sighed over spaghetti carbonara. And I returned to aubergine, suspecting they’d be too revolted to steal a bite. Yet piled under ricotta, tomato and fresh pesto, they wanted that, too. After 24 hours of chipping away at my wish list, the pressure was beginning to subside, too. I let the girls choose. Would we see Vatican City, the world’s smallest


Clockwise from left: Exploring the streets of Trastevere; a side street pizzeria in Trastevere; zucchini and arugula pizza; the Trevi fountain

"There are few happier feelings than walking in the steps of the Romans from a sheer miracle of architecture, a child holding each hand"

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Credit: Ellen Himelfarb / The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Syndication

country, or Villa Borghese, Rome’s most glorious gardens? The latter, which they could see from our map was just next door, won out. What we couldn’t foresee was the steep, sweaty climb up from Piazza del Popolo. What should have taken five minutes took us 15, me alternating piggy-backs up the steps. It was worth it, though. At the top, from classical stone railings, our eyes followed deep boulevards all the way to St Peter’s, and the girls saw this majestic city laid out like pieces of a Lego set. Villa Borghese is a generously shaded city-within-the-city, with bridges, Palladian follies and the Neo-Classical Galleria Borghese, plastered with Caravaggios. The latter books up months ahead. Just as well. There was a fanciful fountain to stretch out on, where a toddler called Nicola pushed a toy boat to his nonna. When a rickety tourist train pulled up, we bought tickets and felt the first breeze of the day as we weaved around the property. The afternoon should have ended here, but – under the guise of zooming back to the hotel – I hailed a taxi and rerouted to


Clockwise from above: Taking in the sight of the crumbling colosseum; gelato flavours; Saint Peter's Basilica, as viewed from Castel Sant'Angelo

“At the Colosseum we effortlessly toured the bleachers, peering down at the floor where the gladiators’ beasts were confined, inspecting ancient graffiti”

Trastevere, a vine-clambered quarter I remembered as soothingly modest and, not coincidentally, home to the gourmet gelateria Fatamorgana. Even at 4pm there was a queue out the door, but the betrayal was forgotten as the girls contemplated the bizarre list of flavours: pear and gorgonzola, chocolate and wasabi... ‘Strawberry!’ cried Milla. ‘Strawberry!’ cried Lola. We might not have managed the 20-minute trek back to the hotel if not for the high boutique-to-footstep ratio in the streets either side of the sagging Ponte Sisto. Cones dripping, we browsed handmade jewellery on Via del Moro. And, over the bridge, we paused on Via del Pellegrino to admire Murano-glass figurines priced like sweets – then snapped up a pick ‘n’ mix menagerie. Over slurpy spaghetti that evening at Cul de Sac, I let the girls spread out their tiny glass pets and they enthusiastically negotiated swapsies. Some souvenirs – even the cheapest ones – pay dividends. Saturday morning at 7.30am, I was waking my soldiers with a nagging reveille. The battle of getting to the Colosseum by the 8.30am opening had begun. We gobbled continental breakfast and I requested a taxi at the desk, then panicked when it hadn’t arrived at 8.15, 8.30, 8.40... Three

calls later, we arrived with our printed tickets and... sailed past the crowds. Small victory. For 15 minutes we effortlessly toured the bleachers, peering down at the floor where the gladiators’ beasts were confined, inspecting ancient graffiti. After that, flag-waving tour guides and vastly taller crowds obscured every view, and we retreated, defeated, through the access hall, where vitrines displayed old lion bones and stumps of Corinthian columns. On leaving, we discovered the best view of all was from the pavement across the street. I made a mental note. Awestruck at the half-eaten cake of a building, the girls fell quiet. Their little brains, I hoped, were busy making mental notes as well. There are few happier feelings than walking in the steps of the Romans from a sheer miracle of architecture, a child holding each hand. Until those children turn on you. After brunch on the plantshrouded terrace at La Bottega, in a wee piazza off Via Cavour, we began an early return to the hotel, past the Colosseum, Il Vittoriano and... ‘Tiger!’ OK, they’d earned it. We browsed, but ultimately they decided against Danish souvenirs. Perhaps they sensed the yellow emoji pillows at the shop outside our hotel were more evocative of the current era. Besides, the Largo di Torre Argentina, the neighbouring ruins where Julius Caesar was butchered in 44BC and where we took our last sightseeing stop, were crawling with cute stray cats. We later learnt that volunteers herd them here, then sterilise them. If our moods were fully restored by Tiger, the live cat antics were the clincher. Milla looked over to a series of openings barely visible above mounds of earth and fallen brick. ‘How did people get in those little doors?’ she asked. You can just see the tops of them, peeking out from the undergrowth – the temples having been partially excavated beneath the tarmac (with some walls still buried). As a final teachable city moment, it was a delight: deeply entertaining and quintessentially Rome. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit World Traveller 45


Hop to it White beaches, stunning sealife and a private island — Anthea Rowan takes her daughter on an exploration of the amazing Zanzibar archipelago 46 World Traveller


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opening page: An aerial view of Thanda Island This page: Thanda Island's villa


ar es Salaam shrinks below me, its tin-roofed sprawl receding as we soar into a white sky. The land yields to sea, buffered by a ribbon of beach that runs for hundreds of miles, the ocean myriad hues of blue and green. I can see coral reefs rise on a shallow tide, like something beautiful caught beneath glass. My daughter Hattie and I are heading for tiny Thanda Island, the first stop as we island-hop our way up the Zanzibar archipelago – a convoluted affair of planes, boats and automobiles. This feels like the best kind of travel; there is adventure in the getting there. We land on Mafia Island’s short strip and trundle overland in a shambling taxi and down the mile-long Kilindoni jetty to board a boat whose roaring power slices a white wake through waves as spray salts our skin. A speck of land on the watery horizon grows as we near. We slow to a putter and then, as the engines still, there is silence, except for the stroke of sea on sand and the wind rattling palm fronds. There, right on the beach, is Thanda’s enormous, elegant villa in front of a quintessentially tropical backdrop. With its sleek lines, it is startlingly different from anything on this Swahili coast. Its owners, the entrepreneurs Dan and Christin Olofsson, began looking for the perfect island retreat a decade ago. But islands for hire, despite the dozens that string the east African coast, are harder to come by than you might think. They dismissed the Seychelles (“spectacular but developed”), Madagascar (“beautiful but lacking infrastructure”) and Mozambique (“interesting but occupied”). Uninhabited Shungi Mbili (now Thanda), spied from the air, was deemed perfect: a smudge of sand with an emerald interior, saltwhite hem and waters the vitreousblue of a Bombay Sapphire bottle. The household tips out to greet us and we’re offered homemade juice. “Or bubbly if you like”, suggests hostess Antigone. She and her partner, Oscar, Italians with years of experience on the Kenyan coast,

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“A speck of land on the watery horizon grows as we near. We slow to a putter and then, as the engines still, there is silence, except for the stroke of sea on sand and the wind rattling palm fronds” show us around the house. Powered by solar (there’s no mains electricity on the island), its water supply either harvested from rain or desalinated seawater (nor fresh water), the house sprawls over 1,200 sq m. The huge aquarium is a focal point and five en-suite bedrooms open to generous decks. Glass bifold doors concertina open wide so that the breeze is funnelled through big, bright rooms. Nothing, apparently, is too much here. Do we want a drink? When do we want lunch? Would we like red or white with dinner? An enormous fridge is thrown open and we ponder its contents before plucking out our choice. We help ourselves to fins and masks and head into the sea. Thanda lies within the Shungi Mbili Island Marine Reserve, which was designated a protected area in 2007, but no protection was started and stripping of the reef continued unabated. Thanks to Thanda’s efforts, that has stopped; the marine park is demarcated with buoys and Thanda sponsors conservation programmes. The revival can be seen in the returning sea life; we see a pair of bat fish, a stingray, an octopus glaring at us from his hole, coral bravely growing back in delicate branches of cupcake pink. The next morning, before breakfast, we take the mile walk around the island. In sinking tide we notice an oyster-encrusted reef. Oscar spots us drooling. “You like?” he asks. We nod and he roars in Kiswahili towards the island’s interior. A waiter races forth proffering the requested iron bar and hammer and Oscar sets to work. As if by magic, another waiter appears bearing welcome drinks. Thanda’s luxury — sumptuous furnishings, opulent bathrooms (inside


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“I can see coral reefs rise on a shallow tide, like something beautiful caught beneath glass�

Clockwise from top left: A whale shark beneath the water surrounding Mafia Island; Islanders walk a dusty road in the late afternoon sunshine on Mafia Island; Lobster dish served at Thanda Island; a guest room at Thanda Island

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a double shower, outside a huge tub), fine grape, fabulous food, a bespoke glass-sided pool like a giant Perspex box on the sand – isn’t surprising. These are the details that make it more home than hotel: Bose sound docks, flamboyant kikoys (sarongs), a library of well-thumbed Hemingways, piles of board games and colourful, uncoordinated towels around the pool that make it feel like a kicked-back family holiday house, where the linen never matches. For two days we play at castaway and pretend it’s ours, but then it’s time to explore some more. More than 30 islands bead the Zanzibar archipelago. We’re working our way north, from one of the smallest (Thanda) to the biggest — Zanzibar. Linking them by boat is our middle stop of Mafia — nothing sinister here, it takes its name from the Arabic morfiyeh, “group of islands”. At 17 miles long and 10 wide, it is considerably bigger than Thanda. Moments after arriving at Pole Pole, a luxey little eco-lodge, we’re herded on to another boat (this one slower, gentler and wind-powered) because, as the hostess Paola exclaims, “the turtles are hatching”. On board we’re warned there must be “no getting in the hatchlings’

way, no treading on their runway; your footprint is like the Grand Canyon to a baby turtle.” We nod earnestly. Our expedition takes us to Juani, one of three smaller islands next to Mafia, which we trek across explorer-style, single file. We emerge on to a holiday brochure beach: Persil-white next to blue sea, empty except for the stern turtle protection squad and another boatful of guests who clearly didn’t get the memo. We tut to one another as they plod across the sand leaving Grand Canyons all over the show; we smooth them over smugly with sticks. The turtles hatch, 70 of them, and scramble for the sea. Even teenagers present are rapt; not one looks at their phone. There is more life to be seen under the water. I nervously take the plunge and do a first dive under the watchful instruction of the slick team at Mafia Island Diving. I can’t refuse: Mafia is ranked among the top 10 dive sites globally. I tip over backwards into the sea as I’ve seen a thousand divers do on National Geographic. My nerves dissolve as soon as I’m beneath the surface and surrounded by plunging reefs, bouquets of luminous coral, schools of fish scaled with silver, a turtle grazing

peacefully on coral. I marvel that she is one in a thousand that survived to adulthood. My regulator purrs rhythmically as its bubbles rise above my head in celebration. We’re too early in the season for Mafia’s famous whale sharks and our island- hopping itinerary means we can’t dally to see the humpbacks. Later, aboard Coastal Aviation’s archipelago skipping service (it has more than 100 flights a week between islands), I imagine I see them from the air, their atoll-sized shapes shadowing the aquamarine beneath me, rendering little white-sailed dhows toy-tiny. It’s a 30-minute flight back to the mainland, where we change planes and hop 20 minutes out to sea again to Zanzibar. This is easy-peasy exotic transport, the tropical version of swapping buses at a bus station. Zanzibar’s capital, Stone Town, seems electric after the unhurried peace of the southerly islands — big, busy, boisterous. Hattie and I trot to keep up with Farid as he snakes through its narrow alleys, a profusion of shops spilling out gaudy merchandise and heady scent; streets hung with artwork ring with bicycle bells and the whine of Vespas. Our guide’s World Traveller 51

Above and below: street scenes in Stone Town, Zanzibar opposite page: Acrobtatic teenagers play a game of jump and kick on Stone Town beach

Clockwise from top left: Leo restaurant and (inset) a classic dish; chef Leonor Espinosa; Centro Skandia; Simon BolĂ­var Park; colourful Wayuu bags for sale at Usaquen flea market

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Credit: Anthea Rowan / The Times / News Licensing

“Stone Town, with the muezzin’s cry and the shriek of vendors, is colourfully cacophonous”

canary-yellow kanzu billows around him. Farid’s grandparents came from Yemen, Java, the Comoros. “Zanzibar is like soup,” he says. “Many tribes, many flavours.” Before the Suez Canal gouged an easier passage, “everybody came past: Bantu, Persians, Arabs, the Portuguese”. The Omani chased the Portuguese off, then came the British, who abolished the slave trade, built the first school and taught the islanders to play football. “Four hundred years ago some Swedish women came; there are people here with Nordic heritage,” Farid adds. The Kenwood blend of races in this tiny capital is visible everywhere, not just in the different skin tones, from pale mocha, like Farid, to ebony, but also in the buildings – one small corner has a Catholic church, a Jain temple and a mosque. “Zanzibar was very tolerant,” Farid says. The town is chock-full of splendid Omani palaces in varying degrees of dress-up or collapse, depending on ownership: the House of Wonders is forlorn, crumbling, closed. The two Emerson hotels, built in the 19th century, are glorious examples of Arab, Indian and Omani grandeur that have had significant facelifts. One evening

we eat at the Secret Garden — exactly that, an oasis of green hidden within ancient walls. Even Stone Town’s modest buildings bear gorgeously imposing doors, each passing identity drawn differently, depending on the shape of the door and the patterns carved into it. Sated with cultural soup, Hattie and I head to Matemwe in search of sand, sea and silence; Stone Town, with the muezzin’s cry and the shriek of vendors, is colourfully cacophonous. Matemwe, on the other hand, in the northeast, is where island life potters on in idyllic ignorance of what everybody else is up to. It has the longest beach on Zanzibar, stretching from the Retreat, where we are staying, in a powder-pale curve to the south. We’re at one of the hotel’s four lovely twostorey villas, with a vast wooden veranda that leans across dense forest towards the beach, and a rooftop terrace with a plunge pool, as well as its own butler. I ask Mubarak, who takes us to the fish market, if I could walk the length of the beach. Mubarak sizes me up. “No, it is far, you are old.” I ask Ross, the Retreat’s general manager, instead. He deals a

softer blow. “Well, at low tide I can do a 30-kilometre jog without running out of sand.” We walk it later, not 30km (given my dotage), but enough to witness the village spill on to the beach to play football matches; there are several strung along the sand. “We all support Man U,” Mubarak tells me. “My son’s a Chelsea fan,” I say. “And Chelsea,” he adds diplomatically. Asilia, the Retreat’s owner, plans to shave off a section of the southern beach to try to protect turtle nests from beach traffic: bikes and Beckham wannabes. To the north are secluded coves. Here we watch shadows grow as the sun goes down. Out there at sea – just two miles away – lies Mnemba, dubbed Millionaire’s Island for the price tag that goes with it. Yet dive schools take their guests snorkelling around Mnemba’s reefs, which means total privacy isn’t necessarily assured. That wouldn’t happen at Thanda where, thanks to a 1km buffer of protected ocean round the island, you stay in glorious seclusion. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit World Traveller 53


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for our time Thailand too touristy? For a slice of Southeast Asia at its most serene, try the rivers, mountains — and empty beaches — of Vietnam, says Alex Robinson

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Opening pages: A worker walks through the terraced rice field landscape of Mu Cang Chai. Right: Sailing onboard a traditional Vietnamese surf boat

‘You like adventure?’ my guide Tua had asked

before we seT off for hang ruc cave. At the foot of dense- jungle-covered mountains in the Phong Nha national park, she looked as fragile as a butterfly. What’s the worst she could have in store for me, I’d asked myself. (I’ve travelled up the Amazon. I’ve scuba-dived with sharks.) ‘Absolutely!’ I replied. ‘Love it!’ An hour later, standing on a beach in intense darkness, I wasn’t feeling quite so sure. Tua pointed the beam of her torch at a slippery slope disappearing into the blackness beyond. I was already shaken. To get this far, we’d clambered over rocks and swum down a torrent that twisted three kilometres into the heart of the mountains. ‘You want me to go up there?’ ‘It’s easy!’ she said. ‘Last week we took a 12-year-old boy.’ And she scampered up like a cat. I followed gingerly, heart thumping. Tua showed me exactly where to put every step. And giggled when I finally emerged, filthy and puffing, at the top. My next gasp wasn’t for breath. I was in a cavern glittering with million-yearold cave flowstones – calcite formations that oozed from the walls like melting ice cream – and littered with sparkling cave pearls, water-worn balls of calcite strewn across the floor like marbles. Stalagmites

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towered into the gloom. Pipes of calcified rock stretched along the walls. And the silence was velvet-soft — but for a distant drip-drip falling into some far-off pool. Well, I thought, if ever there were a reward for leaving the crowds behind, this is it. I’d been to Southeast Asia before, but it was a yearning for secrets like Hang Ruc that had brought me to Vietnam. In Thailand and Malaysia, I had, for sure, enjoyed beautiful beaches and sumptuous spas. And yet I couldn’t shake off the sense that those paths were well trodden and well touristed. I wanted local life and genuine warmth, shimmering rice paddies, forestcovered limestone mountains, villages buzzing with life, and walled imperial cities. Vietnam promised all this – but with far fewer fellow tourists than Thailand. I had two weeks – enough to see a decent chunk of the country. I planned an easy route, working south from the capital city, Hanoi, swinging southwest to find those rice paddies, then back to the coast and the train line down towards the old port of Hoi An. For the first leg to Mai Chau, the valley some two hours out of Hanoi that would be my first stop, I’d booked a car and driver – I was expecting impressive views and

Vietnam Bogotรก

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wanted the freedom to take my eyes off the road. I wasn’t disappointed. Fields cut into the mountain like ascending steps, deep valleys dropped to winding brown rivers. But the most stunning sights were from the mountains east of Mai Chau, over the valley itself. Teak houses were lost in a carpet of coriander-green rice terraces that stretched to the horizon, broken by rainforestcovered slopes. Workers in conical hats tilled the fields, and the sun was a golden ball silhouetting flocks of flying parakeets. I immersed myself in Mai Chau’s rural idyll for two blissful days – cycling serenely through hamlets, stopping to buy iced green tea from friendly village cafés built of teak and bamboo. On dirt roads that rose over streams I saw two-wheeled traffic, buffaloes and Tai Dam villagers – tribal people who emigrated here from Yunnan around the same time the Saxons came to Britain. Distinct from the stockier

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Vietnamese, they are willowy, light-skinned and as elegant as dancers in their dark skirts and intricately embroidered tops. In Thailand, tourist groups with flashing cameras would descend on them; here they went uninterrupted about their business, weaving or tending paddy fields. Three hours south, Ninh Binh province promised rippling mountain scenery. It’s not undiscovered, but I knew that most tourists headed to the Tam Coc river valley. Instead I went 20 minutes further to the less well known Ben Dang river, where I had the mountains, a mystic river and a wooden boat all to myself. It was dreamy – like floating through an ancient Asian scroll painting. My boat was even rowed by a wispy-bearded old man who used his feet to push the oars. He paused, and I awaited a pithy Confucian aphorism. Instead he lit a cigarette and gave me a toothless grin. We spent hours

winding around stone pinnacles, sending snow-white egrets flapping out of still water, pink lily pads lolling in their wake. We cut through shallow caves whirling with bats. And while I sweltered in the sun, the tireless old man barely broke a sweat. I met more locals the next day, on a cycling tour of the rice-growing villages that lie sprinkled among Ninh Binh’s mountains and rivers. Thao, a hyperactive 50- yearold woman, whose forearms were knotted with muscles, promised to teach me how to catch freshwater crabs. She led me to the rivulets running next to her rice paddies and dropped a handcrafted bamboo trap into the water. After five minutes it was wriggling with catfish and crabs. I tried, and caught nothing but the sun on my back. There was clearly a skill. But Thao didn’t let me lose face. She poured her catch into my basket. Back in her village home I handed the spoils to her 80-year-old mother who

“I whiled away hours, lost in the view and the fabulous food”

Opposite: Limestone karst mountains over the Tam Coc River in Ninh Binh This page: Vietnamese stir-fry

rustled up a spicy lunch fragrant with kaffir lime, which I ate with the family at a long wooden table. Our sign language did us proud. They laughed at my love of chilli and showed me family pictures. Thao’s mother proudly showed me a photo of her son, who’d just become a priest. This was the real Asia, I thought; its inner sanctum. I wouldn’t have traded the experience for a Michelin-starred Bangkok meal. That night I caught the train, sharing my compartment with a German couple. As the carriage clattered past buffaloes in rice fields and an orange sinking sun, we played cards on the tiny table fitted below the windows. Staff appeared with starched sheets, folding hospital corners to turn the benches into couchettes – surprisingly comfortable beds that soon rocked me to sleep (shame the freezing air-con woke me). I left the Germans on the train the next morning at Dong Hoi, the stop for the peaks and caves of the Phong Nha national park.The limestone mountains

here are pocked like giant pumice stones, with endless caves and endless adventure – you can zipline into one or spend three days walking through another. But I’d had my fill of thrills, swimming and scrambling through Hang Ruc with Tua, so the following day I took a sedate stroll through Paradise Cave – though even in this well-lit, boardwalked cavern, my only company was a few Vietnamese families. From Dong Hoi, the train took me south again for some urban life in Hue. Today, it’s a provincial city of low-rise concrete, buzzing with motorbikes, dotted with pagodas and spread along the winding Perfume river. Once, it was northern Vietnam’s capital, built by the Nguyen dynasty who ruled from the Forbidden Purple City that still lies at Hue’s heart. Arriving at its massive fortified gate early the next morning, I stepped through and into a throne room, lined with sombre guardian statues. The private areas lay beyond, via a blood-red corridor topped World Traveller 59

with decorated gables. With the place almost to myself, I felt like an intruder in a mystical private world and imagined mandarins pacing the vast squares, past the bronze water cauldrons and the terracottaroofed pavilions topped with dragon sculptures. I pictured silk-clad supplicants, palms pressed together in the incensescented Buddhist and Confucian temples. After a few quiet hours I was ready for something livelier – a street-food tour. My guide was Cong, a Vietnamese Tigger who grinned infectiously as we whizzed through Hue’s stall-packed streets in his old Jeep. We sampled sizzling bun cha patties seasoned with spice, and slurped pho noodle soup and draft brews at makeshift streetside tables. It wasn’t so much a tour as a bar crawl, Vietnamese-style. Cong knew everyone. And his favourite game was trying English tongue-twisters, then getting me to try pronouncing Vietnamese words – and laughing hysterically at the ensuing faux-pas. ‘I can’t tell you what that means!’ he bellowed, his friends cackling. ‘But don’t say that in front of my wife!’ Cong came to the rescue, too, when an overnight storm meant my train to Hoi An was cancelled. I’d have to take the road, but Cong convinced me that I wouldn’t miss out. ‘I drive you. It’s even more beautiful, you will love it, my friend.’ And he was right — on the two-hour drive, we passed lagoons, snaked up mountains to the Hai Van Pass and dropped down to steamy coastal plains. ‘This is where the Americans landed in 1965,’ Cong said at one point, indicating China Beach, a sweep of white sand backed by swaying palms and half-built Beijingfunded mega-hotels. Now, it seemed, it was the Chinese who were arriving in force. They’d certainly arrived in Hoi An, the first really busy place I’d seen. But that didn’t lessen its appeal. The same place

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in Bali or Thailand might feel culturally diluted. But Hoi An remained resolutely Vietnamese – no malls, no brandname chains and no mass-produced imported tat. I spent the afternoon on a carefree wander – past 18th-century shophouses and Portuguese mansions. Many were now craft shops, selling local, hand-painted porcelains, silk lanterns or tailored suits. I had some smart linen trousers made in a day. At night, the town was lantern-lit. A lambent glow from the quayside restaurants glinted off the water. I whiled away hours, lost in the view and the fabulous food. Hoi An is famous for its cooking – chicken roasted in sticky rice accompanied by aromatic veg; fish barbecued in a sizzling tamarind, lemongrass and chilli sauce. It was delicious and half the price of a similar meal in a waterfront restaurant in Chiang Mai. My final stop was Cham Island, one of a cluster of eight isles, 20 minutes offshore. Chinese day-trippers pour in to snorkel and sunbathe on this crag of forest- covered limestone ringed with beaches and fishteeming reefs set in emerald-green sea. But guessing that they’d all be gone by late afternoon, I booked a room in a simple homestay, run by an elderly couple, whose ground floor doubled as the local shop. Sure enough, the tourists disappeared as the day progressed, and fisher-folk appeared, like hermit crabs emerging from their shells, tugging tiny coracles across the sand to go and catch squid by lanternlight. A mother and daughter came out to walk their puppy on a deserted beach. A monk prayed in the local temple. And I sent up my own prayer of thanks for the secrets that Vietnam had shared. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666 or visit

Vietnam Opposite: Rice wrapped in banana leaves for sale at a market. This page: A woman in traditional dress walks aside a colourful building in Hoi An

Credit: Alex Robinson / Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing

“We passed lagoons, snaked up mountains and dropped down to steamy coastal plains�

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Weekends Staycations and short-haul escapes

MAKING TRACKS Bahrain is the subject of our mini break guide (page 64) as it gears up to host the 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix. The floodlit night race takes place on 6-8 April at Bahrain International Circuit. Elsewhere, we highlight family holidays in Maldives (page 68) and detail blogger Joy Caasi's greatest escapes (page 75). World Traveller 63


Bahrain: where old meets new

Your guide to: BAHrAiN From its ancient architecture and pearling heritage to its luxurious private beaches and sleek shopping malls, this Gulf island draws you in with its wave of contrasts Words: Habiba Azab


hile it may maintain a lower-key reputation than its Gulf neighbours, Bahrain has a lot to shout about – and therein lies the kingdom’s genuine charm. The destination is something of a two-sided coin, with a fascinating history (a number of significant Dilmun settlements have been unearthed there), and an impressive roster of modern art and cultural attractions standing alongside luxury hotels, shopping malls, and private beaches. Here’s how to craft an itinerary that takes in all the best bits… 64 World Traveller

The Tree of Life



Pearl diving with Jumeirah Royal Saray


Pearly queens You can’t visit the ‘Pearl of the Gulf’ without checking out Gold City, just off Government Avenue. Despite its name, this marketplace is actually a pearl-lover's paradise that’s overflowing with precious gemstones of all shapes, sizes and colours. The quality of a pearl is determined by its luster, so if you can clearly see your reflection (just like looking into a mirror) then you’ve likely got the real deal. Souk savvy Looking for a traditional Bahraini shopping experience? Manama Souq is an authentic marketplace home to a diverse selection of vendors. Stroll through the labyrinth-like alleyways and take the chance to interact with the local traders and barter for perfume and spices. If possible, arrange to go with a guide or a local who knows their way around, as it’s easy to lose your bearings.

ECLECTIC EXPERIENCES 2018 Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix Hear the ear-splitting roar of the engines as the world’s top drivers jostle for prime position on track and on the podium at this, the second stage of the 2018 Formula One World Championship season. Taking place from 6-8 April at Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir (a 40-minute drive south of Manama), this floodlit night race guarantees a carnival-like experience.

#travelgoals Make the most of the camping season (which runs until the end of March) by heading out to the Sakhir Desert for stargazing and a meal by the bonfire

A touch of luxury City Centre Bahrain is the largest shopping mall in Manama. It has 340 shops, including a Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as a good selection of eateries and bags of entertainment, like kiddie favourite Wahooo! Waterpark.

Artistic narrative With its blend of works from Bahraini artists and international galleries, you can soak up the diversity at contemporary art fair ArtBAB, which is taking place from 15-18 March at International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Sanabis. Now in its third edition, the fair showcases a carefully curated selection of paintings, sculptures and photographs, and entry is free. Pearl diving Pearls were once the source of the country’s riches, as divers scoured the seabed for oysters on weighted ropes, with nothing but a nose peg to control their breathing. The economy has long since diversified, but tourists can enjoy a modern pearl diving experience with one of the licensed diving companies setting sail from Ras Rayya at the northern tip of Muharraq Island. There are four diving sites to discover. Simply don your scuba gear and collect some oysters – you can keep any treasures inside.

#travelgoals Barter for antiques at Isa Town flea market (also known as Souk Al Haraj), which bursts to life on weekday mornings

Details at Bab Al Bahrain historical building in Customs Square

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MINI BREAK HISTORIC HEROES #travelgoals Taste handmade Bahraini halva, as well as jellystyle sweets flavoured with rosewater, sesame, pistachios and other ingredients bought from the family-run Hussain Mohammed Showaiter Sweets on Hussain Shaikh Hamad Avenue


Fluffy fare Fill your tummy with ‘fluff’ at Freej Bin Rashdan. This unassuming café in Muharraq serves an array of dishes, from meaty grills to savoury rice dishes but most important of all is the signature fluffy khubz (bread), which is freshly prepared before your eyes. Romantic flair Tucked away in the older side of Manama Souq is La Fontaine Centre of Contemporary Art, a 150-yearold building that has been carefully restored, featuring contemporary art galleries, an openair amphitheatre, and an exquisite fine dining restaurant La Fontaine. It's the place to go for a special occasion dinner – think piano performances and dining by candlelight – with dishes like grilled crayfish with saffron rice and pan-seared duck breast competing for attention. 66 World Traveller

Bold beauty One of the largest mosques in the world, Al Fateh Grand Mosque was built in the 1990s and is embellished with intricate and stunning Kufic calligraphy. It’s also home to the National Library. The mysterious tree Believed by some to be the vestige of the Garden of Eden, the mystery of the Tree of Life – a majestic Prosopis cineraria tree situated on a remote hill in the desert around 2km from Jebel Dukhan – has been baffling the world for more than 400 years. Its untraceable water source is the enigma that bestowed its name and also what has led it to become known as a remarkable natural wonder.

Halva is a traditional sweet

Home-cooked cuisine The combination of simple, traditional Bahraini home cooking, friendly staff and coveted location in the heart of the city, gives street-side café Haji Gahwa a homey, cosy feel. The twist? There’s no menu – it’s a random serving depending on what time of the day you visit (although the Biryanis are the mainstay). It’s just around the corner from Bahrain Islamic Bank.

A national treasure Wander through halls brimming with 6,000 years of history and devour the tales of a bygone era at Bahrain National Museum. Established in 1988, the museum keeps a diverse range of treasures, including artefacts uncovered at local archaeological sites that paint a picture of the ancient Dilmun civilization that flourished in the region for millennia, as well as a collection of works by a selection of Bahrain’s leading artists.

Al Fateh Grand Mosque


CULTURE TRIP A sacred journey The Bahraini people pride themselves on their distinguished Islamic heritage. Immerse yourself in a spiritual journey at Beit Al Qur'an museum in the Diplomatic Area, which houses an impressive selection of rare Qur’anic manuscripts dating back to the 7th century, alongside an extensive library of books in Arabic, English, and French that centre mostly on Islam. For a novel touch, you can view inscriptions on a grain of rice. Art exhibitions are often held within the venue, too. Money talks Head to Bahrain Central Bank and duck into the on-site Currency Museum to see a comprehensive collection of the currency used in Bahrain from the beginning of Islam until modern times. The collection is priceless and includes some very rare coins. Bring the drama Drawing inspiration from the tales of 1,001 Arabian Nights, The National Theatre of Bahrain is an architectural gem with its wood-covered interior. Set along the waterfront, the theatre has welcomed the likes of composer Yanni, opera star Placido Domingo and guests from Moscow’s Bolshoi Theatre. It has also played host to the Bahrain Annual Fine Arts Exhibition, which is credited with helping to put the destination on the global art map.

Photos: With thanks to Bahrain Tourism & Exhibitions Authority

The National Theatre of Bahrain

Jumeirah Royal Saray

Big hitters can check out Bahrain’s royal Golf Club, which is home to an 18-hole, par 72 championship golf course designed by Colin Montgomerie


Jumeirah Royal Saray Enveloped by the Arabian Sea, this luxurious hotel, which opened in February, marks the first Jumeirah property in the kingdom. Situated on a private beach in Manama’s new Seef district, it has 167 guestrooms, including two royal suites, a variety of impressive restaurants and a health club and spa.

#travelgoals Soak up the sun at popular beach resort Al Dar Islands (a 10-minute boat ride from Sitra, Fisherman’s Port), which lures active types for its jet skiing, paddle boarding and scuba diving

The Ritz-Carlton, Bahrain Also located in Seef, this white-sand beach resort has 11 dining venues including an authentic Mexican restaurant with vibrant décor inspired by Frida Kahlo, as well as a stellar spa. Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay Perched on a five-hectare private island in Manama, this architectural gem can be reached by boat or water taxi, as well as by car, and offers great views of the bay. World Traveller 67


Flying visits

Swap the school run for an island adventure and play castaway with the kids at these family-friendly resorts in Maldives

PLEASURE ISLAND One&Only Reethi Rah Boredom isn’t an option at this 109-acre island resort, with 12 beaches, three pools, a Splash watersports centre and endless activities to persuade even the most reluctant teen that there’s life beyond their iPhone. The KidsOnly club is set up for titches, tweens and teens with endless age-appropriate activities, including the Maldives’ only climbing wall. Accommodation is generous – we recommend the Beach Villa King with space for a cot, or the Two-Villa Residence with its own private pool. Thoughtful touches include child-sized robes, baby monitors and soft toys. Unleash your inner artist at the on-site art studio, play 18 holes on the golf simulator or kick back with a refreshing drink while the little ones load up on sugar at the Sweet Paradise ice cream bar. +971 4 426 1099, 68 World Traveller

Living Room, Grand Beach Villa


ALL-INCLUSIVE ESCAPE Constance Moofushi Hugging the tip of the South Ari Atoll, this resort keeps it simple with an all-inclusive philosophy that makes dining decisions a breeze. The thatched-roof Beach Villas are perfect for those with younger kids, while the Senior Water Villas are a fun affair for families of four. There’s no kids’ club, but who cares when you have a swimming pool and white sand as your natural playground? The BlueTribe dive centre offers beginner courses for children, and giant chess and ping-pong are great family bonding activities. You can also educate your kids by taking them on a tour of a neighbouring island, where you can visit an open-air school and meet members of the local community. +960 668 10 10,

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ADVENTURE zONE The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi If the kids aren’t tuckered out by the end of the day, then you checked into the wrong resort. From nature trails, snorkelling safaris and fishing, to paddleboarding, wakeboarding and mini golf, it’s full steam ahead from dawn to dusk at The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi. Drop off your tots at the kids’ club, which offers a daily changing menu of activities from mask making to gecko hunting, and take time to appreciate your idyllic surrounds in the comfort of the Family Deluxe Beach Villa with private pool, courtyard and direct beach access. The toughest decision of the day is which of the 10 child-friendly restaurants to choose from. +960 656 0591,

Kids' club, The Sun Siyam Iru Fushi

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK Reethi Faru Resort A fresh addition to the Raa Atoll, occupying its own mini island paradise embraced by a stunning house reef, guests of Reethi Faru Resort are welcomed by the beat of a traditional drum. Friends and family are front of mind, with the option of an ultra-private, two bedroom Family Garden Villa or Family Deluxe Beach Villas, which share a common living area. Join in the resort fun by working your way through its full menu of watersports, including banana boat rides, parasailing, canoeing and more. The 24-hour restaurant is on hand to satisfy those late-night munchies, with snacks on demand, while family time spent over sunset drinks on the open-air deck of Haruge bar is a must. +960 400 4000, 70 World Traveller

Reethi Faru Resort



Presidential Pool Villa

Kurumba Maldives A mere 10 minutes from the airport by speedboat (good news for hyperactive little ones), you'll embrace the Maldivian spirit the second you step onto the resort jetty. An original private island retreat, Kurumba is big on fun and edutainment. Learn to dance or drum local style at Majaa Kids Club where four- to 13-year-olds can also try their hand at coconut crafting and other traditional pursuits. Family chill-out time is guaranteed at the two kid-friendly swimming pools. Plus, you can sign up for a glass-bottomed boat trip or sea kayaking session. With plenty of babycentric amenities and babysitting on request, a candlelit beachfront dinner for two is the perfect date night. +960 664 2324,

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SURF’S UP Adaaran Select Hudhuranfushi A surfer’s paradise and family-friendly destination in equal measure, there’s oodles of action to be had on, above and beneath the water at this popular resort. Dedicated surfers will plump for the Beach Villas just seconds from the next epic wave, while the Garden Villas are a peaceful retreat (great for nap times). A one-of-a-kind experience awaits aboard the Whale Submarine, which dives 120 feet below the ocean surface, or opt for sky-high thrills with a seaplane tour. Buggies are available (so you don't have to lug yours all the way there), and an all-inclusive meal plan option helps to keep things simple. +960 664 1930, 72 World Traveller



The Den, Soneva Fushi

“The thatched treehouse venue has great food and a maze of trapdoors, ladders and swings”

Soneva Fushi Inspire budding eco-warriors with a stay at this nature-inspired resort situated within the Baa Atoll UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. Smaller families can keep sleeping arrangements simple in the One Bedroom Villa Suite With Pool, which features a separate children’s bedroom. Larger groups can splash out on the nine bedroom Private Reserve, which comes complete with its own gym, spa area, kitchen, swimming pool and a nanny’s room (handy if you need an extra pair of hands). All villas benefit from butler service, but there’s plenty to entice you out of your cocoon. Kids will make a beeline for The Den – a stunning playground filled with creative entertainment, such as a pirate ship, two swimming pools, a dedicated Lego room, dressing-up area, and music room filled with instruments. Make lasting memories by embarking on a dolphin-spotting voyage on the traditional dhoni sailboat, catching an al fresco movie at Cinema Paradiso, and sharing stargazing secrets with the resident astronomer. +960 660 0304,

Lagoon villa with private plunge pool, Dhigali Maldives

GO REMOTE Dhigali Maldives If off the beaten track meets contemporary luxury is your family’s idea of holiday heaven then Dhigali is well worth the 45-minute seaplane ride from Malé. Three beachfront infinity pools, endless watersports, a PADI dive centre and kids’ club guarantee something for every age, and the creative resort team is big on family-friendly activities (who doesn’t love a treasure hunt?). Dining is easy, with allday-dining restaurant Jade a firm favourite among kids for its make-your-own pizza area. Haali is just as fun – the thatched treehouse venue has great food and a maze of trapdoors, ladders and swings to keep little rascals busy while you enjoy some well-deserved downtime. +960 658 6060, World Traveller 73

World traveller x abu dhabi

Children can unleash their inner artist

Family values Deepen your understanding of the pivotal role that mothers play in society at this interactive festival in Abu Dhabi that welcomes culture seekers near and far Whether you’re a mother yourself, are part of a tight-knit family, or simply want to find a meaningful way to engage with the local culture, the Mother of the Nation Festival, taking place in Abu Dhabi this month, provides a fantastic opportunity to broaden the mind. This year’s event will feature a series of interactive displays, activities and performances designed to highlight the importance of family connections, with a special focus on mothers’ roles in promoting family cohesion, and maintaining social values and traditions. Now in its third edition, the festival will be set along the emirate’s new 600-metre-long beachfront leisure development, A’l Bahah, marking the first time the attraction will be open to the public. It is dedicated to Her Highness Sheikha Fatima bint Mubarak, Supreme Chairwoman of the Family Development Foundation, Chairwoman of the General Women's Union, and Chairwoman of the Supreme Council of Motherhood and Childhood – and fittingly so. “The festival not only honours Her Highness’ vision, care and values that 74 World Traveller

she has instilled into our society, but will also celebrate all mothers here in the UAE and their fortitude, resilience and aspirations in raising our future generations,” explained HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Director General, Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, which organises the event. Its popularity speaks volumes. In 2017, more than 197,000 visitors clocked in over 10 days to enjoy the live performances, activities and musical shows, with an even

higher number expected to attend this month. From admiring the art exhibits to simply taking time out to reflect on the theme, it is a must-do for all those who are interested in embracing a female perspective, and championing a community spirit. The Mother of the Nation Festival is taking place from 22-31 March and is open daily from 4pm to midnight. To find out more, visit

Interactive displays will highlight the importance of family connections



Travel NoTes

My Great Escapes 6


A jet-setter from the Philippines, Joy Caasi lives in Dubai and runs the blog The Thrift Trip (, @joycaasi). Here she shares her most memorable travel moments 1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Discovering the beautiful, hidden alleyways and canals of Amsterdam is pleasing on the eye, but what I love the most about the capital is Vondel Park, which is ideal for people spotting. 2. Rome, Italy. Italy was the first country I visited this year and I immediately fell in love with Rome. I walked through every small alleyway I could find, admiring the beauty of the architecture. While trying to find the famous Aventine Keyhole, I stumbled across Giardino degli Aranci (the Orange Garden), which boasts the most amazing view towards St. Peter’s Basilica, with its tall trees perfectly framing the dome. 3. Sighnaghi, Georgia. I’ve travelled all around the country but the place that captured my heart by surprise was Sighnaghi. Also known as ‘the city of love’, it is a very small town that you can easily traverse on foot. I was in awe of the beautiful colours, especially the mint green balconies and red bricks that characterise the houses. 4. El Nido, Palawan. My home country will always feature in my list of top travel experiences and El Nido, Palawan, is my favourite island out of the 7,107 that make up the archipelago. Hidden stretches of sand, like Nacpan Beach, can be found at the northern part of El Nido – it's ideal for those who want to avoid the tourist throngs. WEEKENDS 5. Salalah, Oman. I visited Salalah during the Khareef Season in 2017 – the earthy aroma of the surroundings is refreshing for the soul. A highlight was discovering Wadi Darbat and the 'magical' Anti Gravity Point at Tawi Atair/Mirbat, where cars can travel uphill in neutral gear, without any acceleration. 6. Dubai, UAE. I like venturing off the beaten track and one of my best adventures in the emirate was overlooking the Margham Desert in a hot air balloon. The moment was made even more special as a couple of falcons took flight alongside our basket.



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world traveller x Palazzo versace dubai










Palazzo Versace Dubai Opulent rooms, Persian cuisine and musical prowess combine to make a stand-out stay The rooms From the parquet flooring to the silk furnishings, this luxurious hotel at the heart of Culture Village is rich in classic Italian design influences. All rooms and suites are furnished with the brand's trademark hues of turquoise, blue, beige, gold and salmon. Step out onto your private balcony or terrace to admire views of the village or across Dubai Creek. There's a special offer for UAE residents.

The food There are eight themed restaurants and bars to discover, with the latest addition, Enigma, offering a decadent taste of Persia. Curated by the hotel’s executive chef, Mansour Memarian from Iran, the new venue champions a sharing menu of traditional gems born from homemade recipes passed down the generations. Try the Kotlette Tehrani – crispy potatoes with minced beef, onion juice and saffron.

The ACTIVITIes By day, you can unwind by the swimming pools or at The SPA, which features two Moroccan hammams. By night, Q’s Bar and Lounge beckons for an evening of great music. The venue, by Quincy Jones, shines a light on the next generation of stars, with a strong line-up of resident acts. Currently you can see The Strike, a band of five talented musicians from Utah who are putting the funk and rock back into pop.

To avail the special UAE residents offer, call +971 4 556 8888 or visit 76 World Traveller

world traveller x KempinsKi Hotel mall of tHe emirates


Kempinski Hotel Mall of the Emirates Stay at this central Dubai address where the sand meets the snow The rooms If stunning views are a priority, you can’t go wrong at this property, as many of the guestrooms frame the glittering Dubai skyline. If you prefer to disengage from city life, escape to one of the 20 Aspen Chalets, which directly overlook the powdery slopes of Ski Dubai. These rustic rooms boast cosy features, like stone faux fireplaces, so you can curl up on the sofa and watch the skiers whizzing down the black run.

The food Whether you want to savour the authentic flavours of Levantine cuisine at Olea Restaurant or feel the Spanish flair at Salero Tapas, the hotel's diverse selection of restaurants and bars is sure to whet the appetite. Stop by the lobby lounge, Aspen by Kempinski, in order to try the hotel's signature dish – Slow Cooked Beef Cheeks in Demi-Glace – which was created especially by Executive Chef Sudqi Naddaf.

The ACTIVITIes Directly connected to Mall of the Emirates, this property is perfectly positioned for those looking to schedule some retail therapy into a stay, while active types can strap on their snow boots and navigate the slippery slopes at Ski Dubai. Unwind with a spot of pampering, such as a caviar facial, at Softouch Spa or step into Joelle Mardinian's much-loved hair and beauty salon, Maison de Joelle, for a top-to-toe glam-over.

To find out more, call +971 4 341 0000 or visit 78 World Traveller


Winter time is the best season to make memories in the exciting city of Dubai. Enjoy a fun time in Ski Dubai, discover the historical quarters of Old Dubai or explore traditional Bedouin life on a desert safari. With our winter offer there is now even more time to enjoy all that Dubai has to offer. This package includes: Stay 3 to 4 nights, enjoy 20% off Stay 5 nights or more, enjoy 25% off Valid until 31st March 2018

+971 4 341 0000 | |


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Reader offers Great deals to get you packing

Be inspiRed With four fantastic offers to book now (page 82), a selection of tempting global hotel deals (page 83), including at hurawalhi island Resort in Maldives (pictured), and dreamy weekend escapes (page 84), let our exclusive offers transport you somewhere new World Traveller 81


the fAntAStIc fOUr

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3 nights starting from USD560 per person

Includes: Stay in Standard Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Offer: 20% discount on room rate. Valid from: Now until 31 Mar 2018.

ArOUnD the WOrLD


prinCe de Galles, a luxury ColleCtion Hotel

3 nights starting from USD870 per person

Includes: Stay in an Art Deco Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Offer: 15% discount on room rate; children under 12 years stay free. Valid from: Now until 8 Apr 2018.


interContinental banGKoK

3 nights starting from USD360 per person

Includes: Stay in a Grande Deluxe Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfer. Offer: 20% discount on room rate. Valid from: Now until 30 Apr 2018.


Hilton seyCHelles labriz resort & spa Outrigger Mauritius Beach Resort Prince de Galles, a Luxury Collection Hotel

Bristol Vienna

3 nights starting from USD760 per person

Includes: Stay in a King Garden Villa with breakfast daily and return airport & ferry transfers. Offer: 25% discount on room rate and 2 children under 12 years stay free on a BB basis. Valid from: Now until 31 Mar 2018.


outriGGer mauritius beaCH resort

4 nights starting from USD745 per person

Hurawalhi Island Resort

Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Sea View Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers. Offer: Complimentary upgrade to full board. Valid from: Now until 15 Apr 2018.


CvK parK bospHorus Hotel istanbul

3 nights starting from USD325 per person

Includes: Stay in a Superior Garden Room with breakfast and return airport transfers. Offer: 15% discount on room rate. Valid from: Now until 31 Mar 2018. World Traveller 83

dnata travel offers

WeeKenD eScApeS


tHe oberoi beaCH resort al zoraH

1 night starting from USD235 per person

Special offer: Receive a 45% discount on the room rate, a 15% discount at the spa, and 1 child below 12 stays free. Includes: Stay in a terraced Premier Room, with breakfast and return airport transfers. Validity: Now until 30 Apr 2018. five palm JumeiraH dubai

1 night starting from USD216 per person Special offer: Special discounted rate. Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast and return airport transfers. Validity: Now until 23 Mar 2018.

Lapita, Dubai Parks and Resorts, Autograph Collection

lapita, dubai parKs and resorts, autoGrapH ColleCtion

1 night starting from USD199 per person

Special offer: Unlimited access to all parks for 2 adults and 2 children. Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Twin Room and return airport transfers. Validity: Now until 31 Mar 2018 tHe retreat palm dubai mGallery by sofitel

1 night starting from USD157 per person

Special offer: Receive a 45% discount on the room rate. Includes: Stay in a Classic Sea View Room with breakfast and return airport transfers. Validity: Now until 24 Mar 2018 fairmont bab al baHr, abu dHabi

1 night starting from USD196 per person

Fairmont Bab Al Bahr, Abu Dhabi

Special offer: 20% discount on room rate and complimentary upgrade to half board. Includes: Stay in a Fairmont Room with breakfast and return airport transfers. Validity: Now until 31 Mar 2018.


atana musandam

2 nights starting from USD178 per person

Special offer: Special discounted rate. Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast daily. Validity: Now until 23 Mar 2018.


doWntoWn rotana

2 nights starting from USD220 per person Special offer: Complimentary upgrade to next room category and late check-out. Includes: Stay in a Classic Room with breakfast daily. Validity: Now until 23 Mar 2018. How to book

84 World Traveller

By calling dnata on +971 4 316 6666

Atana Musandam

By stepping into a dnata outlet or by visiting

On the website you can also sign up to the dnata newsletter and receive more offers direct to your inbox. T&Cs apply.

Email us at • Call +971 4 316 6666

Email us at • Call +971 4 316 6666

online 1. The Highlight Room at Dream Hollywood

#worldtraveller What you’re reading

2. South Korean side dishes

3. Organic garden, Six Senses Zighy Bay

A selection of the top stories you’ve been clicking on… Our round-up of LA’s defining tourist draws, from celebrityspotting to partying at a rooftop pool with views of the Hollywood sign, has peaked the interest of our starry-eyed readers. We all want to stay ahead of the curve, and our feature on 2018 travel trends is serving as a popular reference for those who don’t want to miss out. With our three contributors highlighting the best sights, foodie hotspots and shops, our local’s guide to Seoul is coming in handy.


let's get

digital Check out the new look – and carry on the conversation on our social channels


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The hoT LisT This new, dedicated section of our website is home to exclusive travel ideas that will have you reaching for your passport

Travel inspiraTion aT your fingerTips

sTaycaTions Squeeze a mini break into your schedule at these top destinations on your doorstep

Win! Keep your eyes peeled for competitions that will see you checking in at some of the world's leading hotels and resorts

available on your desktop, smartphone and tablet World Traveller 87

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

One Bedroom Deluxe Suite The Legian Bali

Seminyak in southern Bali offers an elegant take on a tropical escape. Peppered with restaurants, designer boutiques and art galleries, this stunning beach resort lures travellers eager to unwind along its golden shoreline lapped by gentle waves. You can wake up to views of this dreamy landscape when staying at The Legian Bali, an exclusive hideaway set amid lush gardens, with a threetiered infinity pool and an excellent spa. Book a beachfront One Bedroom Deluxe Suite, where you can unwind on the plumped-up daybed on the ocean-facing patio. 88 World Traveller

Visit Al Ain and enjoy the culturally enriched annual programme of activities and events. Celebrate the emirate’s essence of the past and the contemporary vision of the future.


Beyond the Walls



(Multiple Venues)

Write Your Name in Cuneiform

My Old House Tour 8 Mar 2018 Monthly from October 2017 - April 2018

Workshop Every Sunday from Oct 2017 through Apr 2018

Travel Through Our Traditions 17 Mar 2018 Monthly from October 2017 - April 2018

Drawing on Pottery Every Wednesday from Oct 2017 through Apr 2018

QASR AL MUWAIJI Weekends at the Oasis Every weekend from mid November to end of March


Trucial Scouts: Life and Times Exhibition 2 Nov 2017 - 26 Apr 2018

Ayallah and Harbiya Performances Every Thursday from Oct 2017 to Apr 2018

Handicrafts Workshops

Every Tuesday - year long

Royal ‘Bisht’ Workshop 22 Mar 2018 Monthly from October 2017 - April 2018


Memory of the Emirati Song 16 Mar 2018

‘Yalsa’ Every Thursday from Oct 2017 - Apr 2018

‘Ramsa’ Every Sunday from Oct 2017 - Apr 2018

Military Band Performance Every Thursday from Oct 2017 - Apr 2018

Restoration Workshop Every Thursday from Oct 2017 - Apr 2018

Handicrafts Workshops Every Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday throughout the year

Police Dog Show Every Wednesday from Oct 2017 Apr 2018

Excavations and Treasure Hunts Every Wednesday from Oct 2017 Apr 2018

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 - March'18