The Regionâ€™s BiggesT LuxuRy TRaveL Magazine
issue one hundred and one | september 2016
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Thailand Beauty, spirit and wellness upon a luxury island
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Ancient culture and neon-lit quirkiness collide, as first impressions get rewritten...
From Michelin stars to gleaming supercars: how Monte Carlo sets the tone for fashion and finesse
A compact (now classy) feast of pretty cities, ornate heritage and hypnotic waters
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September 2016 World Traveller
Issue one hundred and one
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If your favourite coffee shop is getting overcrowded, traffic jams dominate your route home, and even your headphones can’t keep at bay the background noise society loves to crank out, we’ve a collection of cures to provide some peace of mind. Life in a pulsating GCC city can be exhilarating, but it is wide-eyed travel (with all its wonder) that provides the ultimate recharge to confront the hustle and bustle with a smile. September is the ideal time to eye a short break. Stylish Phuket, sophisticated Monaco, reinvented Malta, captivating Lisbon and stunning Zanzibar are among the places to catch our attention this time around, as well as a tempting trio of thermal spas, fuelled by toasty natural springs. (If you can’t quite leave behind the vibrancy – but fancy unfamiliar new everything – we have Japan). You’re certain to be inspired by one of these places, hunting for your passport and booking the next plane out... Though if your flight is some weeks away, it’s a holiday to daydream about until that cappuccino is finally ready, or the traffic lights have turned green.
Chris Ujma firstname.lastname@example.org @wt_magazine
Cover: ‘Shutter Island’, Thailand
Jun-Dec 2015 | 22,984 | BPA Consumer Audit Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission from HOT Media Publishing is strictly prohibited. All prices mentioned are correct at time of press but may change. HOT Media Publishing does not accept liability for omissions or errors in World Traveller. Tel: 00971 4 364 2876 Fax: 00971 4 369 7494
Take a flight of fame to Los Angeles Fly daily to Los Angeles. Strut down the bustling Hollywood Boulevard, go behind the scenes in the world â€“ famous Universal Studios, or enjoy luxury shopping with a view of the beach at Santa Monica Place. Book your tickets now by visiting: Any Qatar Airways sales office qatarairways.com
Your preferred travel agency
September 2016 World Traveller
8 Be Here Now
Tuck into a wholesome cake while gazing at a gorgeous Mid-Autumn Festival moon, or catch the dying embers of European summer by Lake Como Check In News and inspiration from around the world
Three places to find a private tropical-island hideaway, eco luxury and boutique bliss in Quito, and why Sri Lanka is a destination on the rise
Destinations In-depth travel features to fuel your wanderlust
22 Chef’s Top Tables
Munich-based Michael Hüsken recommends his fine-dining haunts from around the globe
24 Spotlight On: Zanzibar
One of Tanzania’s treasures, this island has places on each coast vying for our spotlight Weekends Everything you need to know about short-haul escapes
26 Style & Wellness
Spa news, travel accessories and fashion; make your upcoming excursion that bit more stylish 5
38 At First Sight
66 One Weekend For All: Lisbon
44 Malta Tease
68 48-Hour Foodie
Surrender your senses and sensibilities for a trip to Japan, where first impressions are not always as they seem...
This is not your archipelago of the 1970s – upmarket and ambitious Malta has been reinvented and repackaged with fresh appeal
Sophistication has a permanent home in Monaco, where glamour aligns with grandeur: from dining, hotels and spas to couture garb
56 Beauty And The East
Phuket is not only for honeymooners: beyond romance, the party-ready Thai island beckons female travellers with natural splendour, stylish resorts and beauty boutiques 6
This fabled city is an achingly beautiful European hub of culture, art, architecture and cuisine... something for everyone indeed
A duo of days in Ras al-Khaimah to tour the various feasts doesn’t seem an immediately obvious weekend choice, but trust us, it’s worthwhile
Four hotels that prove there’s no need to leave the GCC to get away from it all
70 Great Escapes: Bliss On The Beach
It’s location, location, location for this cluster of hotels who’ve access to the Holy Grail of relaxation – the private beach
feeling like a VIP that’s Kilban’s marhaba effect The difference is the staff. So caring. I’m just an ordinary traveller but marhaba makes me feel like a VIP. With people like this, there is only one way you can go—up, up and up! Kilban
Breeze through all the airport formalities with our meet & greet services in Dubai and Bahrain. Whether you’re arriving, departing or transferring, marhaba meet & greet makes your time at the airport something to look forward to. You can also relax in style, no matter what your airline or class of travel, at our lounges in Dubai and Bahrain. Find your marhaba effect at marhabaservices.com
meet & greet | family packages | marhaba lounge | citystop | transfer service
Check In Be Here Now
The arrival of the auspicious Mid-Autumn Festival means paper lanterns and (oncerebellious) mooncake galore, as China casts a collective gaze to the night sky. This year, the Chinese calendar’s eighth month falls in September, with day 15 marking the beginning of a week-long indulgence of lunar worship, festivity and feast. See the celestial body poised over Shanghai from atop the 468m-tall Oriental Pearl TV Tower, take a night cruise on the Pearl River in Guangzhou, or simply zou yueliang (moonwalk) with friends – there are many ways to witness the natural beauty. Our advice is to admire the moon’s reflection in the lake of Beijing’s Beihai Park, as ancient emperors once did. Who knows, you might just be moved to compose a ‘quiet night thought’ about the moon, in the style of a true Tang Dynasty poet.
September April 2016 2015 World Traveller
Check In Be Here Now
Lake Como, Italy
Autumn may be drawing in, but there are still lashings of sunshine beating down on this corner of northern Italy, with its pleasant Mediterranean climate and famed horseshoe-shaped, pristine lake. The area is as glamorous as it is gorgeous, and for the luxury traveller chasing those last embers of summer, there’s an abundance of relaxation to unwrap in this picturesque region. There’s a plethora of grand hotels, too: visit in September and you’ll be one of the first guests at the hotly anticipated il Sereno Lago di Como – a boutique seasonal hotel that sits resplendently on the shoreside, awaiting visitors arriving across the waters by a traditional handcrafted vaporina.
September 2016 World Traveller
September 2016 World Traveller
Globetrotter Here’s what’s hot in travel this month…
Il Sereno Lago di Como, Italy If it’s good enough for George Clooney, Donatella Versace and Robert DeNiro then it’s good enough for Sereno Hotels. Lake Como’s newest addition has arrived and it’s definitely the cool kid on the block. Perched on the edge of a cliff in the tiny town of Torno, this is Lake Como for millennials. With cutting-edge design by Milan-based Patricia Urquilla, the almost all-Italian furnishings fuse elements of Italy’s fashion capital with a sense
of exclusive modernity. In the lobby, a dramatic entrance in the form of a 22ft-tall walnut-wood staircase shrouded by copper pipes welcomes guests, and the 37 suites and villas are just as impressive. The sleek terrace, decked out with plush couches and nest chairs, offers perfect views in all directions – ideal for sipping a sundowner on while behind you Le Miroir Vert du Lac, one of two vertical gardens created for the property by world-class
botanist Patrick Blanc, heaves spectacularly with over 2,000 individual plants. No trip to Lake Como would be complete without a spin on the lake itself, of course – and at Il Sereno, there’s not one but two wooden James Bond-style motorboats just waiting for you to play with them. Surrounded by roaming mountains dotted with pretty villages, the newest addition to the 28-mile-long Lake Como is definitely one for those in the know. 13
Check In Globetrotter
Le Corbusier, Menace (1938) © Landau Fine Art, Switzerland and Canada
From 10 to 18 September, art lovers from across the world will descend upon France’s capital for the Biennale des Antiquaires. Celebrating the quintessence of French art de vivre, the revamped fair will now be an annual event and, this year, will host 123 exhibitors from 14 countries showcasing furniture, textiles, watchmaking, painting and ancient artefacts in Europe’s most romantic city. biennale-paris.com/en
Unwind in the height of eco luxury by the beach or enjoy boutique elegance in vibrant Quito Finch Bay Eco Hotel
Food For Thought
Now in its fifth year, Taste MIGF is a sneaky peek ahead to the Malaysian International Gastronomy Festival. Get your gastro dollars and head to Berjaya Times Square Hotel to tuck into samples from 30 of Malaysia’s best restaurants, then pick up some tasty souvenirs from Epicure International Gourmet Village to recreate some of the meals for yourself back home. tastemigf.com 14
What to expect? Recently refurbished by Julio Vinuezza, Ecuador’s leading interior designer, this stalwart is as far from the typical eco-hotel image as you can imagine. Playful, island-inspired textiles, coloured pallet mirrors and an essence of upmarket expedition chic await, all surrounded by sandy beaches and azure-blue waters. Where is it? Tucked away on the southernmost point of Santa Cruz Island and the only beachfront hotel in the Galapagos Islands, this stunning enclave is located on a beachfront cove with gorgeous views over the Pacific Ocean. Go snorkelling, swim with seals, take a hike over the surrounding volcanic hills or simply relax on the beach with the iguanas for company. Must-do? Set sail on the Sea Lion, the resort’s very own yacht, for a magical day exploring the islands. Sea lions, bluefooted boobies and marine iguanas are just a few of the incredible species waiting to be discovered. finchbayhotel.com
What to expect? One for old-world romantics, this restored former historic mansion is nestled in the heart of Quito and is the perfect spot to witness firsthand the spruced-up delights of Ecuador’s capital. From painted tin ceilings to handsome aedicules and stucco architecture, this former private mansion opened as a hotel in 2011 and has been touted as the best hotel in all of South America. Where is it? In the heart of Ecuador’s capital, admire the intriguing city views from the hotel’s third-floor terrace. Spires and bell towers of the Old Town flanked by the Panecillo hillside and the Pichincha Volcano make for truly epic viewing. Must-do? Quiteños love a good afternoon tea and at Casa Gangotena, it’s a daily tradition. Freshly brewed coffee and five varieties of tea made with fresh herbs from the hotel garden are served on the terrace, where you can enjoy a plethora of scones, empanadas and pasties in one of the prettiest patios we’ve ever seen. casagangotena.com
Check In Globetrotter
Three Ways To...
Cast away on a tropical island
Make like Richard Branson and pitch up on your own private island. Play castaway as life slows down and your only neighbours are the swaying palm trees and some exotic wildlife
Coral Caye, Belize
Two acres of private, palm tree-lined paradise is yours to explore, just behind the world-famous Belize Barrier Reef. Spend afternoons snorkelling in the lapping waters around the island, enjoy an alfresco massage – after all, there’s no-one else here – then bed down in a rustic-styled cottage as the sounds of the Caribbean Sea lull you to sleep. thefamilycoppolaresorts.com
Song Saa, Cambodia
Owned by an Australian husband-and-wife team, this place isn’t just a luxury resort, it’s also the home of the Song Saa Foundation – an initiative that has created Cambodia’s first dedicated marine reserve and supports local communities across the Kingdom’s islands. Located in the untouched Koh Rong Archipelago, the two private islands are intimate, luxurious and absolutely stunning. songsaa.com
North Island, Seychelles
Hop aboard a helicopter and whiz across to North Island, just 10 minutes from Mahé, where an exclusive colonial paradise of traditional villas constructed from local timber, complete with private plunge pools and beautiful driftwood sculptures, awaits. Book the entire island and let your private butler take care of your every need in this picture-perfect tropical-island hideaway. north-island.com
September 2016 World Traveller
September will see people around the world celebrate Eid al-Adha, one of the two most important dates in the Muslim calendar. A time for families, gatherings and social events, it’s a public holiday across the Middle East At the Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel, there’s a whole host of ways to mark the occasion. Experience a Royal Bath in the Saray Spa, where you’ll be pampered with a private Moroccan hammam, drawing on centuries-old traditions. Or try the invigorating Saray Oud Signature Package, where Dead Sea minerals and the scent of Arabian oud combine to melt away your stress. Located right beside City Center Mall, you’re also perfectly placed for some great Eid shopping.
Insider A world of pure imagination
Dubai’s newest record-breaking attraction, IMG Worlds of Adventure, opens on 31 August, with over 20 indoor rides and attractions including live shows and a 5D cinema experience. The likes of Marvel and Cartoon Network have the superhero angle covered while the Lost Valley Dinosaur Adventure is like something straight out of Jurassic Park. imgworlds.com
App Route master
Create a digital journal of your travels, great and small, with the LiveTrekker app (free on iOS and Android). It tracks you as you go, marking a red line on a map following the exact path you take. It also monitors your speed and altitude, making it great for adventure travellers, though it’s just as fun for looking back at your route around a city. You can add pictures, video, audio and text along the way – it’s the travel diary for today.
Going Up In The World
The Teardrop Island Where? Sri Lanka Why? Kissed by tropical seas, the teardropshaped island of Sri Lanka has seen a steady growth in tourists this year and the rise is set to continue. Luxury hotel operators are getting in on the act and new resorts are popping up all over the country. And with endless beaches, lush rainforests, ancient ruins, crashing surf and worldfamous tea, it’s not hard to see why. What? Few places in the world can lay claim to having quite so many things packed into such a small space. Just 65,000 sq km in size, this island nation truly has something for everyone. Safari tours in national parks? Check. Ancient
temples and UNESCO World Heritage sites? Check. Verdant tea plantations and lush rainforests? Check. Pristine white beaches with surfer-friendly waves? Check. One thing is certain; you’ll never be bored. Where to stay? Having opened its first luxury resort in the country in January, Anantara’s Kalutara Resort will open on 1 September. Just an hour’s drive from Colombo, the resort boasts detailed craftsmanship, breathtaking views and oodles of indulgent comforts, nestled in an exotic locale. Check in here if you want secluded beach luxury with plenty of nearby adventure. kalutara.anantara.com 17
Check In My City
Adriana Iglesias The fashion designer and founder of her eponymous label is passionate about the City of Valour After living in Valencia I understand why the Romans chose this city to retire to once they were done conquering the world. The third-largest city in Spain is a magnificent place, content for Madrid and Barcelona to grab headlines while it gets on with being a wonderfully livable city with thriving cultural, culinary and nightlife scenes. Surrounded by fertile farmland, Valencia is a truly healthy place to be – you begin the day with freshly squeezed orange juice or horchata, a milky drink made from tiger nuts (which are only found here). Take a table outside Horchateria el Siglo, in the centre of town, and people-watch. The City of Arts and Sciences is Spain’s most visited museum, and one of 18
Valencia’s most recognisable symbols – a futuristic white building designed by avantgarde local architect Santiago Calatrava. It boasts L’Oceanogràfic, Europe’s largest aquarium, and kids’ favourite Bioparc Valencia, a safari park in the heart of the city that’s dedicated to conservation. On a walk, admire the contemporary buildings of Modernista architecture, or stroll the old city from Plaza de la Virgen to Calle de los Caballeros – where the famous El Carmen quarter starts. Head south from Plaza del Negrito and you will reach La Lonja de la Seda, the old silk market and one of the greatest examples of medieval European architecture. In front of La Lonja, the huge art-nouveau Mercado Central building houses one of Spain’s largest indoor markets. The ancient, beautifully designed Mercat Central de Valencia is typical of great Valencian architecture: elegant and elaborate, yet utilitarian at the same time. Grab a few bags of fresh, locally farmed fruit and nuts
to snack on for the rest of the day – you’ll find the prices are just as tasty. I always spoil myself with a special candle or perfume in Linda Vuela a Río. Should you want a jewel that captures the essence and the art of the Mediterranean, visit the magical Vicente Gracia. The building, constructed in 1898, is one of the few examples of Neomozarab architecture in the area, and was inspired by the Alhambra. As I love Japanese food, my favoured places to eat are Komori at the Westin Hotel and Nozomi Sushi Bar, but I also recommend La Duna, where you can tuck into the best paella right on the beach. Make the trip to Albufera Natural Park and take a boat ride around lakes and rivers to see the local birds, in a place that feels more deep-south America than Spain. Or I like to run or cycle through Turia Gardens, a superb green ribbon of park. You can use it year-round because the weather here is fantastic! Like the latter-day Romans, I have made Valencia my home.
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Check In Ask The Expert Clockwise from left: Oia village in Santorini; ShangriLa’s Villingi Resort and Spa; The Peninsula Manila
Ask the EXPERT
Rob Arrow is head of product at dnata Travel and a selfconfessed hotel geek. With over a decade of experience in the luxury travel industry, Rob loves nothing more than talking hotels and discovering destinations. His favourite country is Lebanon, his beloved city is Melbourne, and his dream is to own a boutique retreat in the Italian Alps Q. With short breaks on the mind, which destinations would you recommend to give travellers a much-needed energy boost? A. You can get a kick-start at a recent discovery of mine, The Peninsula Manila, in the Philippines. What an amazing place: just a flight away and a weekend destination in itself. Checking into The Peninsula is an atmospheric experience, with a huge sun on the ceiling, energetic music in the lobby and some of the most sought-after seats in the city – all of which make this a most coveted address. The staff, the spa and the pool all add to a memorable stay, and with its proximity to some of the best shopping, it’s a great place from which to begin exploring. While in this nation, fly on to Boracay for a top-up of fun with some luxury, too. Shangri-La’s Boracay 20
Resort and Spa is a fantastic complement to The Peninsula, and combined they offer the perfect long break. If Asia is too far to travel, try a weekend in Jordan. Fly into Queen Alia International Airport, drive to the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar Dead Sea, roll out the towel and relax. Take in some mud-bath treatments, have a sumptuous dinner, wake up and repeat, before the evening transfer back to the airport for your flight home – it’s a mini spa break, and 24 hours of sheer luxury. Locally, a place oft neglected is Bahrain, which has the GCC vibe but a slower pace, with everything in close proximity. The Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay has a huge spa, indoor and outdoor pools, treatments to pamper you all weekend, and cuisine by Wolfgang Puck to feast on, once you’re finished with all that wellness. Bahrain is a bite-sized boost of energy. Q. Where are the best places to take in that precious last slice of summer sun? A. It’s not too late to get a little bit of lastminute sun and, being in the GCC, there are a number of destinations within an easy five-hour reach. If we look to the warm, salty waters of the Med, before they close for another year there are the Greek islands of Mykonos and Santorini, or even one of the wonderful resorts within driving distance of Athens. The Romanos, a Luxury Collection Resort, Costa Navarino is one of these, and is perfect for catching the last of the sun. A long weekend
at the Four Seasons Hotel Alexandria at San Stefano caters to all your worldly needs, too, with good sun and amazing seafood. A place synonymous with summer sun is the wonderful city of Beirut and the amazing beaches of south Lebanon. With the beach clubs open until late September, there are lots of places to escape to, and with the new Kempinski Summerland Hotel and Resort opening this month, you can have the ultimate indulgent experience in the only luxury resort in the city, watching the late-summer sun set over the Med while sipping cocktails on the jetty bar or dipping your toes in the warm surf. Moving south, head to Sri Lanka as the weather gets drier – here you can enjoy a direct flight to Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort and Spa, and check into the first fly-in-and-flop resort in the country, offering everything you might need in Sri Lanka in one uber-luxurious resort. Play golf, spa, and enjoy learning about local Sri Lankan customs and even the ecology of the island. Not far away you can travel to the Maldives, where a sparkling selection of hotels await. There are fantastic deals to unearth as it’s still not high season; Shangri-La’s Villingili Resort and Spa is amazing, with offers including flights to the resort, while Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru is one of my favourite in the world: a lovely place to escape to peace and quiet. To book any of these amazing hotels, please log onto dnatatravel.com, visit a dnata outlet or call +971 4 316 6666
Check In Chef’s Top Tables
Clockwise from left: Tantris; Reinstoff; Luce d’Oro; Reinstoff
TOP TABLES Michael Hüsken – executive chef at Sophia’s Restaurant & Bar in The Charles Hotel, Munich – shares with us his must-visit dining enclaves
Tantris, Munich, Germany Order: The eight-course menu recommended by Hans Haas
The interior of this restaurant is unique. With the fluffy orange wallpaper and oldfashioned architecture, you feel like you’re (back) in the 1970s. The food is always just excellent. Master of simplicity Hans Haas prepares his perfectly flavoured dishes naturally and simply, but with his signature handwriting. And sommelier Justin always serves the best choice of grape.
HIX Mayfair at Brown’s Hotel, London, UK Order: Reg Johnson’s flamed cornfed duck with Temperley’s cherries In the heart of Mayfair, HIX specialises in fine British cooking, using only carefully sourced local seasonal ingredients. Executive chef Lee Kebble offers a creative menu at night and for lunch I’d recommend the daily-changing lunch-trolley options. It’s the perfect place for a post-shopping lunch or a special occasion in the evening.
September 2016 World Traveller
Bo Innovation, Hong Kong Order: The unforgettable Chef’s Table menu
Alvin’s X-treme Chinese cuisine breaks down traditional Chinese food to its essence and uses it to create new interpretations in modern forms. Sitting at the chef’s table to watch them prepare your food is a real unique experience, especially because they explain everything they are doing and tell you from which typical Chinese dish they got the idea for the course in question.
Reinstoff, Berlin, Germany Order: If you love regional produce, choose the Nearby Menu
Chef Daniel Achilles presents a light and modern cuisine with an elegant, refreshing, often vegetal touch. His two menus, Nearby and Far Away, reflect his desire for culinary freedom, using produce from Germany. The industrial architecture of the historic Edison courtyards, in the heart of Berlin, makes Reinstoff one of the most exciting restaurants in the German capital.
Luce d’Oro, Elmau, Germany Order: Choose from two menus – every course is a highlight
The golden lights shimmering on red walls and the wood fire at Luce d’Oro produce a warm atmosphere with a certain hint of luxury. Chef Mario Paecke offers two different menus, both characterised by masterful precision. The service is attentive, competent and courteous, and the sommelier, Helene Krebs, always has great recommendations. 23
Check In Spotlight On
Spotlight On Zanzibar
Tanzania’s stunning island of Unguja is a mix of culture, boutique hotels and adventure – both on land and ocean-deep
Eat and Drink Lukmaan
This Stone Town icon on New Mkunazini Road is chaotic, traditional and always recommended. It’s one of the best places on the west coast to tuck into the Zanzibar staple of rich octopus curry, and with tempting aromas of stews and platters, this is the place for a plateful of authentic fare.
Beside the beach in Paje, this eatery opens late and its cuisine is fully endorsed by the locals. It’s described as Swahili food with a western twist: coconut, cinnamon and cardamom flavours, fresh ingredients, vegetarian options and a laid-back vibe.
Fine fare, high on a jagged Indian Ocean outcrop off the shore of Michanwi Pingwe. Opt for The Rock Special: lobster, cigal, jumbo prawns, fish fillet and calamari, all prepared on the grill. Get there by foot during low tide but for extra character, arrive by boat once the waves have rolled in. 24
See and Do Stone Town
Complex streets make this old part of Zanzibar City tricky to navigate, but immensely fun. The fabric of this coastal trading town is woven by historic influences from Africa, the Arab region and India. Stroll jumbled passageways past Swahili houses, bustling bazaars, mansions with ornate balconies and quaint courtyards, then take a breather on the serene seafront.
A wildlife interaction with a difference: come eye to eye with rescued animals like Aslan the white lion, Chaka the zebra and Tyson the cheetah. Adept guides impart zoological expertise, and guest numbers are limited to ensure a more personal visit.
Diving in Nungwi
Neighbouring Pemba attracts divers, yet Unguja’s northern tip is on the doorstep of the crystal waters. Ripe for exploring are its gentle locales and the deep waters of Leven Bank reef – a gem for the experienced.
Stay Baraza Resort and Spa
On the south-east coast, this most exclusive resort is considered one of Africa’s best: a blend of cultural styles and beautiful antiques, replete with luxurious oceanfront and Presidential villas, the Frangipani Spa, plus access to a pristine stretch of beach.
Zanzibar Serena Inn
Travellers choosing enchanting Stone Town as their base should elect for this Small Luxury Hotels of the World member. Select a suite to secure high ceilings, shuttered windows, carved furniture, a free-standing hammock and a net-draped four-poster bed.
• Don’t miss
A tour along the nature trails of Jozani Forest Reserve in the heart of the island ensures sightings of the unique Red Colobus Monkey species, as well as antelopes, chameleons, birds, butterflies and more. Early risers are rewarded with seeing the wildlife at its liveliest.
September 2016 World Traveller Promotion
Down-tempo Dining Go back to basics at Traiteur with a chilled-out experience that’s right on the creekfront
s funky house music plays in the background, blonde-haired Chef Dennis chats nonchalantly to us about his love for wakeboarding. Smiling servers buzz from table to table, taking their cue from chirpy restaurant manager Sid Mittra. There’s such a lack of pomposity that it’s hard to believe we’re seated in what was previously one of the city’s premium finedining restaurants. Recently, the awardwinning Traiteur has undergone a bit of a reinvention, being gorgeously overhauled and bringing it bang up to date. The beautiful wooden geometric wall, peppered with slits of diffused light, creates a warm welcome in keeping with the friendly staff, while the gleaming arched wooden panels create a cocoon-like effect, perfect for unwinding in. Dark wood furniture hints at an air of fine dining, a spell that’s soon forgotten thanks to the buzz from the signature show kitchen. When it comes to the menu, it’s a backto-basics affair where the focus is clearly quality over quantity. If you’re a stickler for tradition, opt for one of Traiteur’s long-famed classics – the Rossini is legendary. Or, mix it up a little with the Be Social options, ideal for sharing. With presentation that is second to none, try the Spring Foliage, which looks exactly like a miniature vegetable garden – right down to the soil (or cream cheese topped with blackened breadcrumbs) – it’s the cutest salad we’ve ever seen. Did someone say shots? The shrimp tartare comes served in four shot glasses, each filled with tangy vinaigrette, perfect for
cleansing the palate before sinking your teeth into the puffed capsule atop each glass, filled with deliciously fresh tuna and topped with lychee espuma. Expect plenty of interaction as you eat, with the chefs delivering their creations from the kitchen to your table – after all, who better to ask about your food than the person who made it? When it comes to mains, the Peri Peri Meagre is a must-try – beautifully presented sea bass paired with an entirely delicious spicy sauce. Elsewhere, the wild salmon served with Japanese mayo has a texture that’s truly unforgettable. Be sure to leave room for The End – you’ll regret not trying the giant profiterole, which comes with accompanying melted chocolate sauce that the chef will smother over your dessert. And try not to think of freshly baked cakes wafting from a kitchen with just one bite of the bourbon-vanilla tarte.
Opt to sit outside on the huge terrace for dinner with a view, right on the Dubai Creek front. Or head outside after you’ve eaten to enjoy a beverage from the carefully selected menu, matched with a sunset to remember and chill-out tunes. With a menu that’s set to change with the seasons, Traiteur is a relaxed fusion of quality ingredients and classic French cooking served with a side of passion.
Friday brunch is something you must experience. With stunning creek views, a fantastic DJ, delicious French-inspired fare and free-flowing beverages, it’s the place to escape the world on the weekend. Dhs495 with soft drinks; Dhs695 with sparkling grape; Dhs775 with premium bubbles. Fridays, 12.30pm-4pm. For reservations call +971 4 602 1814 or email firstname.lastname@example.org 25
Check In Style & Wellness
Style Wellness What to pack for... Fashion Week in Paris 1. Gold-plated Swarovskicrystal ring, USD530, Gucci at Net-A-Porter 2. Oâ€™Malley glasses with clip-on UV lenses, USD555, Oliver Peoples at Mr Porter 3. Leather wallet, USD295, Dolce & Gabbana at Mr Porter 4. Tulip-print leather iPhone 6 case, USD185, Dolce & Gabbana at Net-A-Porter 5. Gold-plated bead and crystal necklace, USD405, Etro at Net-A-Porter 6. Xiamen suede and jacquard sandals, USD795, Paul Andrew at Net-A-Porter 7. Tulip-print silk scarf, USD225, Dolce & Gabbana at Net-A-Porter 8. CM gold-plated watch, USD380, Larsson & Jennings at Net-A-Porter 9. Philip Kingsley PK Prep Polishing Balm, USD33 at Net-A-Porter 10. Philip Kingsley PK Prep Perfecting Spray, USD33 at Net-A-Porter
September 2016 World Traveller
The Style-Savvy Local You can trust Dubai-based designer Jelena Jakovljevic Bin Drai to know the ‘it’ places to eat, shop and be seen while in Novi Sad, Serbia
Serbia’s second-largest city is a beautiful, natural place to visit, filled with rich culture, museums and events, such as the world-renowned EXIT music festival and Festival Uličnih Svirača (in September). Fashion is a big part of my life, so it’s hard to choose my favourite store, but if I’m looking for something extravagant to wear, I shop at Mihano Momosa (mihanomomosa.com). For some relaxation time, head to the beach – I suggest Strand (visitnovisad.rs), one of Serbia’s most beautiful rivers and very popular among the locals. My favourite childhood spot there was Kupalište Tisa (serbia.com), which is on the Tisa river between my village, Zabalj, and Zrenjanin, around 35km from Novi Sad. I like walking with my family along one of the oldest streets in the city, Dunavska Street (visitnovisad.rs), which has many cafés and restaurants to choose from. When it comes to food, if you’re a fan of fish as I am, you won’t regret a visit to Carda Aqua Doria (carda.rs). I love to frequent Salaš 137 (salas137.rs) at Čenej with my family and close friends, as it has a lovely aura and delicious cuisine (there’s also a farm where kids can ride ponies). After a long day of walking, there’s nothing better than relaxing at Hotel Park Novi Sad (hotelparkns.com). However, I would also recommend finding one of many Serbian apartments on Airbnb – there are some beautifully designed abodes available, and many located in the centre of town. Although I was raised in Zabalj, I consider Novi Sad a second home – visit once and you will, too. Jelena Jakovljevic Bin Drai is the founder and designer of fashion label Jelena Bin Drai. Find out more at jelenabindrai.com 27
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The Spa You Need
Thermal Therapy When it comes to wellness, ‘natural’ often provides the best recourse, and there’s little better than sliding into a toasty hot spring to soothe the skin and address ailments. This destination trio leaves nature untampered and untamed, to bestow its unlimited benefits
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A breathtaking natural wonder Blue Lagoon, Iceland
This lava-field-located geothermal is as refreshing on the eyes as on the muscles, though guests are required to prebook to savour a spa break in the heart of the Reykjanes Peninsula. The freshwater/ seawater mix originates 2,000m below Earth’s surface, and is harnessed to provide energy for nearby communities. But what can it do for you? The mix of algae, minerals and silica achieves plenty (those with psoriasis see a marked improvement), while Blue Lagoon Clinic is also on hand for an all-round spa experience. It’s silica combined with sunlight that gives the blue hue, by the way. bluelagoon.com 28
Gods & gushing water Terme di Saturnia, Sardinia, Italy
Setting aside the resort’s fine cuisine, signature spa, 18-hole golf course and stunning suites, the exceptional thermal spring here bubbles with history. It’s named after Saturn, the god whose tempestuous flash of lightning caused sulphurous warm water to gush from a volcano crater. In the present day, the pure spring water flows at 500 litres a second through Monte Amiata’s limestone. The pool simmers at 37°C – take a dip in the gas- and mineral-saltinfused water to soothe muscular, skin and respiratory worries. It’s therapeutic luxury in the magical Maremma region of southern Tuscany. termedisaturnia.it
Famous baths & bountiful views Takaragawa Onsen, Japan
The alkaline waters of this traditional onsen are considered one of the country’s treasures, and the spring source is found in the valley of Minakami. This characterful (not gleaming) wooden lodging sits beside a babbling Takaraga stream, where a number of rotenburo have been designated as mixed or female-only, for all measures of shyness. Soak in the healing waters and soak in the sights of pine trees and hills (through the steam). Better yet, it’s the closest of its kind to Tokyo: head to JomoKogen on the bullet train then get collected from the station, for bliss away from neon city frenzy. takaragawa.com
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Check In dnata Offers
A UK ME London
4 nights from USD657 per person Special offer: Stay 3 nights and receive the fourth night free Includes: Stay in an Auro room with breakfast Middle Eastern Guest Special: VIP shopping package incl. VIP lounge access, Arabic-speaking concierge, halal food on request Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016 (book by 17 Sep) A specially tailored UK stay. 30
B France The Westin Paris – Vendôme
4 nights from USD752 per person Special offer: 15% discount on room rates Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 18 Sep 2016 Going to Paris for The Louvre and the Eiffel Tower? They’re right on the doorstep of this hotel. C’est magnifique.
Hungary Buddha Bar Hotel Budapest Klotild Palace
Jordan Crowne Plaza Jordan – Dead Sea Resort & Spa
4 nights from USD363 per person Special offer: Complimentary room upgrade to next room category Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
2 nights from USD291 per person Special offer: 20% discount on the spa list at Sohum Spa Includes: 2 nights’ stay in a Standard Room with breakfast and return airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
Modern majesty in the city, with Asian-colonial style laced into 100-year-old Klotild Palace.
A spa on the fringe of what is perhaps history’s greatest Sea for healing? Priceless.
September 2016 World Traveller
C E D
How to book By calling dnata on
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visiting a dnata outlet or logging on to dnatatravel.com
On the same site you can also sign up to dnata’s newsletter and receive more offers direct to your inbox. T&C apply.
Azerbaijan Baku Tour
3 nights from USD528 per person Includes: 3 nights’ stay in Central Park Hotel or similar, breakfast daily, private return airport transfers, private city tour of Baku, private tour of Gobustan and private tour of Absheron Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016 The Republic is an emerging tourism gem – especially its capital, beside the Caspian Sea.
F Seychelles Hilton Labriz, Mahe
4 nights from USD1,034 per person Special offer: Stay 3 nights and receive an additional night free and complimentary upgrade to half board Includes: Stay in a King Garden Villa with breakfast daily, return boat transfers to Silhouette Island and return airport transfers in Mahe Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016 Hilton luxury, on the beachfront.
Sri Lanka Shangri-La’s Hambantota Resort & Spa, Colombo 3 nights from USD472 per person Special offer: 50% discount on room rate and complimentary upgrade to half board Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
One of the isle’s latest high-end additions: a haven of relaxation where time stands still.
H Thailand Sofitel Bangkok Sukhumvit
3 nights from USD242 per person Special offer: Stay 2 nights and receive an additional night free, plus complimentary late check-out until 4pm Includes: Stay in a Luxury Park View Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016 An upscale high-rise hotel with social hubbub in easy reach. 31
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Banyan Tree Phuket
Wengener Hof, Wengen
Sun Siyam Iru Fushi
Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur
dnata’s FANTASTIC FOUR
Call It ‘Home’
Jetting to these destinations? Be assured a stylish stay To book, visit a dnata outlet, call +971 4 316 6666 or log on to dnatatravel.com I
Switzerland Wengener Hof, Wengen
Maldives Sun Siyam Iru Fushi
4 nights from USD918 per person Special offer: 40% discount on room rate, stay 3 nights and receive an additional night free, plus 2 children under 12 years stay, play and eat for free Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Beach Villa with breakfast daily and return domestic flights Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
Thailand Banyan Tree Phuket
3 nights from USD503 per person Special offer: 25% discount on room rate, 20% discount on food and beverage outlets and spa treatments, plus 2 children under 12 years eat for free Includes: Stay in a Banyan Pool Villa with breakfast daily and return airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
Malaysia Ritz-Carlton Kuala Lumpur
With 52 acres of bliss in the Noonu Atoll, guests are assured lush tropical flora and crisp white-sand beaches.
The hotel offers serenity in sophisticated Bang Tao Bay. One of the best Trees in Banyan’s pretty little forest of properties.
A shopper’s paradise within KL’s Golden Triangle that will please haute-hospitality lovers, too.
5 nights from USD3,145 per person Special offer: 10% discount on room rate and complimentary upgrade to next room category Includes: Stay in a Standard Side Room with breakfast daily and return airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016 At the foot of Jungfrau mountain, you’re assured peace in Wengen – it’s a car-free area. The hotel has plenty to fill the void, from scrumptious dining options to excursions to the ‘Top of Europe’. 32
3 nights from USD246 per person Special offer: 25% discount on room rate with complimentary early check-in and late checkout. For 5 nights or more, book 2 deluxe rooms and receive an upgrade to a 3-bedroom suite Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast, butler service and airport transfers Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
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Heavenly island in the Maldives where you’ll be able to explore the underwater life on the coral reef� la�e on the white sandy beach and savour local grilled �shes. From AED 815 per person per night
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La Pointe aux Canonniers 4
Resort located on an Island with a unique Balinese atmosphere. Ideal for families and couples alike, and a golfers’ paradise. Get ready to raise your game! From AED 690 per person per night
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Destinations Iconic Los Shanghai Angeles
Los Angeles Iconic
‘Icons of LA’ could easily be a compilation of celebrity faces – it’s the town where fame and fortunes are made. Can’t quite attain such heights on a short holiday? Content yourself with making travel memories instead
The sign posted high on the Santa Monica mountains is a globally recognised sight, and by traversing the Runyon Canyon trail visitors can gain a spectacular vantage of the 14m-tall letters. It might just tempt you to swap your bespoke boulevard-ready shoes for a pair of hiking boots, as there are plenty of great hikes around LA such as Griffith Park, Eaton Canyon, Will Rogers State Park, and Escondido Canyon and Falls. The origins of the sign, by the way, date back to 1923 – it was an advertisement for a local real-estate development.
September November 2016 2015 World Traveller
Five-Star & Stripes On launch, Los Angeles represented a glitzy addition to the Qatar Airways route map, but it is by no means the only way to travel directly from Doha to North America. LA is accompanied by Boston, Houston, Atlanta, New York, Miami, Chicago, Washington, Philadelphia and Dallas/Fort Worth on the Qatari flag carrier’s whopping destination list – they’ve got every US coast covered. It’s luxury all the way, too, from the comfort of stylish Hamad International Airport to the award-winning onboard Business Class experience. qatarairways.com
Destinations Iconic Los Angeles
Walt Disney Concert Hall
or world music, as well as smooth notes of jazz. It was built as a devotion by Walt Disney to the arts, and matte was added to the original stainless-steel outer layer after it became a bit too reflective for the neighbours’ liking. Check out forthcoming performances at laphil.com/tickets/calendar
Santa Monica Pier
prevailed through the worst mother nature has thrown its way, and it’s the ideal place to head when she’s on her best behaviour. Ride the carousel and ferris wheel and try the trapeze school
Legendary architect Frank Gehry dreamt up this curvaceous wonder, located downtown on South Grand Avenue. The acoustically sophisticated home of the LA Philharmonic regularly reverberates to the sounds of classical, contemporary
Standing proud at the end of Colorado Avenue, the pier is where fun and entertainment reside – and this 9 September marks the 107th anniversary of its opening day. It has
before slurping a Soda Jerk milkshake or chomping on Bubba Gump’s shrimp (as we wouldn’t want you feeling queasy). There are more placid activites here, too, like the aquarium and an arcade.
September 2016 World Traveller
Yes, Hollywoodâ€™s Walk of Fame has been put aside (head there for a quick look at the famous hands and feet cast outside TCL Chinese Theatre, before escaping quick smart from the tourist hordes) in favour of this stretch of natural serenity. The Boardwalk promenade is built for a day of slinking in and out of shops while navigating through the peppering of bodybuilders and street performers. September (through to October) is the best time to surf in SoCal, and the Santa Ana winds should rasp up some enviable waves to please boarders along this North Atlantic shoreline.
at FIRSt SIGHt How much weird and wonderful can you fit into one fortnight? Liz Edwards makes an eyeopening virgin trip round Japanâ€™s hits
September 2016 World Traveller
Destinations Japan Opening pages: Kiyomizu-dera temple at sunset. These pages, clockwise from left: Senso-ji temple in Asakusa; morning mist in Kyoto; urban Tokyo; Japanese lanterns at Senso-ji temple; Asakusa at night. Next pages: Tokyo Tower at Sunset.
hat a disappointment. There we are, fresh off the plane from England, relishing the unfamiliar: the hygiene-masked immigration official. The three types of ladies’ loo (squat, regular and starship-control-panel). The airport signs for a capsule hotel and a pet hotel. Then the shoulderdrooping, plug-pulling realisation as our Tokyo-bound minibus pulls out of the car park: in Japan, they drive on the left. And on regular M1-motorway-alike roads, too. It’s so normal, it feels downright bizarre. It’s just possible that in my fevered excitement at the prospect of finally making it to a country I’ve spent years dreaming of, I’ve rather focused on the alien and the exotic – the high-tech, maelstrom cities, the hushed temples, the point-and-guess food – and overlooked the fact that Japan is not actually another planet. Our twoyear-old son sums it up. Pre-departure, having cottoned on to our impending adventure, he asks repeatedly, ‘Shall we go Japan?’ Then throughout our fortnight there, he continues asking exactly the same thing, as if the strange and fascinating, but totally doable places we’re rattling through (the classic first-timer’s TokyoKyoto combo, with diversions to seaside Miyajima and hot-springy Hakone) can’t possibly be the off-the-scale experience he’s been primed for. Not, I should point out, that any of this adds up to an anticlimax. Japan is fabulous, surpassing expectations I didn’t realise I had. Our first few days in Tokyo bring us plenty of weird (department-store apples so perfect they’re USD25 a pop, say) and wonderful (the subwaycarriage info panels that show not only which stop is next, but which way the exits and interchanges will be). We fling ourselves into the perma-rush hour of Shinjuku station (like Piccadilly Circus, cubed) and 40
September 2016 World Traveller
decompress in the Hamarikyu Gardens. A former royal hunting ground by Tokyo Bay, it’s a neatly lawned oasis of squawking birds, tittering grannies and butterfly-tickled wildflower banks, surrounded by glinting skyscrapers. We jump in and out of cabs with their white-gloved drivers and doilycovered seats. One day, we breakfast on impeccably fresh sushi in the streets around Tsukiji, the world’s biggest fish market, famous for its dawn tuna auctions. Then we lunch on USD3 ramen in Asakusa, its knickknacky lanes as chilled as the vermilion Senso-ji temple nearby is thronged. Our winning dinner is among the pubbish izakayas we find under the railway arches in buzzy Shinbashi. Perching on a crate, with Yebisus and a plate of juicy grill-your-own meat, we watch tie-loosened salarymen reel in and out of the next-door ‘encounter lounge’, wondering if it’s quite as seedy as it sounds. Our jet lag retreats, our city-navigating confidence improves, and we struggle to remember how unimaginable it all seemed just a few days back. The next morning, we’re whizzing over the tops of those Shinbashi arches in a shinkansen bullet train. Now, these machines make up for the culture shrug of Japan’s roads. Not just with their phenomenal punctuality, efficiency and cleanliness, but the staff – bowing conductors with jaunty caps, spruce neckscarfed snack-trolley ladies – and the English tannoy announcements that are both helpful and audible. Five hours whizz by as quickly as the mountains outside the window, and soon we’re stepping from a ferry onto Miyajima island, out west on the Seto Inland Sea. Most people come to Miyajima for the 12th-century waterside Itsukushima shrine and its much-snapped rust-red torii gate, apparently floating just offshore. At the edge of the island’s single town, beyond its few low-rise streets and one high-rise pagoda, it really is an enchanting place – especially when the day trippers leave, and it’s just us and the roaming deer. People come for the change of pace, too, and we’re all for that, taking the cable car over maples and chestnuts to the top of temple-strewn Mount Misen, and following the forest path back down. But half the fun for us is our first experience of a ryokan: the tatami-mat room, the cupboard-stored futons, the cotton yukata robes. I’m relieved to find that the walls are not, as I’d imagined, made of paper, and soon adjust to the room-specific 42
footwear (though try telling a toddler to put on special loo slippers). And the food is amazing: dinner is an exquisite kaiseki procession of translucent sashimi, hotstone beef and the local speciality eel nigiri. We even opt for Japanese breakfast: rice, omelette, miso, fish. Maybe this is the new normal. Of course this going-native foodie-traveller smugness is almost immediately undone when we arrive in Kyoto late, and complete a sweep of a Family Mart convenience store. We’re self-catering in a traditional machiya townhouse (so neatly minimal, it makes your average Scandi interior look cluttered) – and duly ignore the bargain onigiri rice parcels in favour of breakfast pastries, a pint of milk and cheesy dough balls. We compensate by browsing the fish-gill sake garnishes and eel-spine snacks the next day in Nishiki Food Market, building up to a full-on shopping spree along arcaded
Each day brings both unexpected novelty and the unexpectedly familiar Teramachi Street, in stores selling gorgeous stationery, woodblock prints and colourful manga comics. Kyoto feels busy, but balanced – for every clinking game parlour and flashing karaoke bar, there are a dozen temples and shrines. Holding their own among residential buildings, on neon-bright thoroughfares and in Kyoto’s quieter reaches, hundreds of holy places act like the spiritual equivalent of a green lung. In the contemplative stillness of Zuihou temple’s precise rockand-stone Zen garden, I’m taken aback – only now does the term ‘Zen’ really start to mean something. And so it goes on, each day bringing a combination of unexpected novelty and the unexpectedly familiar. In lakes-and-mountains Hakone, our last stop en route back to Tokyo, we find we ourselves are the oddities, the only westerners going pink in our ryokan’s onsen baths. But the strangest moment of all occurs in a Tokyo sidestreet. There, among the cat cafés and fancy-dress shops, we bump into my husband’s cousin. We’re all speechless, except my son. ‘Shall we go Japan?’ Inspired to travel? To book a trip call +971 4 316 6666, or log onto dnatatravel.com
September 2016 World Traveller
M A L T A
T E A S E The island that so seduced 1970s sunseekers slowly lost its edge to sexier new Med idylls. But it’s back, rejuvenated – and as Dana Facaros discovered, it’s hot stuff indeed
September 2016 World Traveller
ou’re going where?’ was my friends’ reaction when I told them I was heading to Malta for a blast of spring sun. They know I love the Mediterranean, but they were incredulous. Wasn’t Malta all hideous high-rises? French fries with everything? English spoken everywhere? Okay, I couldn’t tell them that Malta was none of those things – it was certainly some of them, when I last visited in 1980 to write a guidebook. Flat-pack accommodation? Most certainly. British fry-ups? A sizzling ‘yes’. Yet, all that time ago, I recall I’d come away in love with another side of this biscuit-dry island: a canvas of wildflower fields and ancient standing stones, baroque towns of chiselled façades and food that was simple and delicious. Having been to Greece so many times in the intervening years, I fancied a change, and the memory was enough last year to beckon me back for a fresh view. What I hadn’t reckoned with, 35 years on, was this: Malta’s gone upmarket. Stylish. Creatively ambitious. Such was the impression on checking in at my base in the capital, Valletta. There was nothing flat-pack about the 17th-century Palazzo Prince d’Orange, a hotel of honeystone walls, antiques and wrought-iron beds. Dropping my bags, I took a peek. The chandeliered piano nobile lounge with its book-filled mezzanine looked like a film set. Later I learnt that Daniel Craig and Eric Bana had been here, filming a scene for Spielberg’s 2005 movie Munich. I stepped out into the sunshine. It was heady walking in Malta’s capital again after so many years, trying to remember what was where. The city was founded in the 1570s by the Knights of St John, having survived an Ottoman siege so barbaric that human heads were used as cannonballs. Valletta, a so-called ‘city built by gentlemen for gentlemen’, spills over a steep, narrow peninsula. Lined with golden limestone palaces, its grid of roller-coaster streets looks like a baroque San Francisco. I paused in the leafy, arcaded Upper Barrakka Gardens, spellbound by the views over one of the best natural harbours in the Med. The 1565 siege was fought under the massive walls and forts on the opposite shore. But it was hard to imagine even raising your voice there now, especially on a sunny morning, when the Grand Harbour takes on a preternatural stillness, illuminated in the clearest light that seems to pick out every detail. At the garden kiosk I bought postcards of the charmingly old-fashioned green, red and yellow buses that had been my mode of transport in 1980. “Are they still running?” I asked the kiosk lady, hopefully. She sighed and shook her head. “The EU said they polluted too much. Now we have modern buses like everyone
else.” The buses weren’t the only change. I stopped on the new bridge over the yawningly deep moat before the City Gate. The main entrance into Valletta’s girdle of walls, it had been an understatement before; now, it looked like the building site for the palace of a Mesopotamian warlord, cut from giant blocks of limestone, with massive ramp stairways for processions of booty-bearers. If I’d been keeping up with the latest news from Malta, I’d have known that this was architect Renzo (‘The Shard’) Piano’s slick, minimalist City Gate and Parliament project. Set on stilts, the new Parliament building has a textured façade made from sharp lasercut, pi-shaped stone panels, designed to admit sunlight but not solar radiation, which inspired a local wag to rename it the ‘cheese grater’. Next to it are the ruins of the beloved Royal Opera House, bombed in World War II, now reimagined by Piano as an outdoor theatre. The whole city seemed to have undergone a mass primping. The ornate inns of the knights and the palazzi looked scrubbed and repaired (many had suffered bomb damage in Malta’s second Great Siege
Lined with golden limestone palaces, Valletta looks like a baroque San Francisco in World War II), their glassed-in wooden balconies shining with fresh coats of green or blue paint. St George’s Square, once a dingy car park in front of the sumptuous Grand Master’s Palace, has been restored to its former beauty, complete with a high-tech fountain spouting directly out of the pavement that creates a mirror of water. Children took off their shoes to scamper through it, kicking up diamond sprays. A busker on an upright piano watched them and launched into a jaunty rendition of Summertime. The Co-Cathedral of St John, built by the knights (who melted down Turkish cannons to make the bells), was also undergoing a spit and polish: inside, everything is insanely opulent, painted or slathered in marbles and gilded curlicues. The floor is carpeted with red, silver, gold and black marble-inlaid coats of arms, pouting putti and Halloween skulls over 370-odd knights’ tombs. The best work is the dark, riveting Beheading Of John The Baptist by Caravaggio, who escaped to Malta after murdering a man in Rome. The art-loving Grand Master ordained him a knight, and in gratitude Caravaggio left him his only signed painting, the signature scrawled in the saint’s oozing blood. But soon the artist was back to his old ways, seriously wounding a knight, then fleeing prison again; in two years, aged 38, he would be dead.
September 2016 World Traveller
The Knights of St John may have been aristocratic warrior-medical monks, operating the biggest hospital in the Med, but they had a light side: the next day I entered the tiny baroque Manoel Theatre, built by a Grand Master in 1731 to provide ‘honest entertainment’ to the music-mad Maltese. Today it’s one of the world’s oldest active theatres and the lady who runs the tour let me try out the original thunder-and-rain machines. I was surprised to learn that several of the knights were castrati. ‘Well, they wouldn’t let women sing, would they?’ she said. My second day in Malta coincided with the last day two French friends were spending on the island. Keen divers, Nadine and Jules were here for the wrecks: “We come every year,” said Nadine. Malta’s waters are rich in plane and shipwrecks, many of them scuttled on purpose to attract marine life – and divers. They invited me to meet for drinks at their hotel by Golden Sands Beach in St Paul’s Bay. We sat on the terrace just steps above the sands, framed by a rugged, baked, crumbly headland. It was laid-back and utterly idyllic; the colours rich, the jazz soft, the last bathers gathering their things in slow motion, reluctant for the day to end. They had booked dinner at Tarragon, their favourite restaurant. Back in 1980 the food, while good and filling, was not really one of Malta’s selling points. Besides fries with everything, the only local dish 48
you’d see was rabbit, usually ‘in brown sauce’. But there wasn’t a trace of rabbit on Tarragon’s menu now. Instead, we had exquisite seafood, served with theatrical flair: smoked tuna and oysters, chilled in liquid nitrogen; grilled barracuda and roast vegetables, drizzled in olive oil. Part of Malta’s new cultural appeal is a revival and modernisation of the country’s cuisine, with its unique Arabic, Italian and even British influences – hence the delicious mushy-pea filling in pastizzi, Malta’s addictive flaky pastries. Nadine and Jules recommended an early boat tour of the Blue Grotto, so off I went the next morning. Motoring there drove home just how much Malta epitomises ‘small is beautiful’: within 20 minutes of leaving Valletta and the traffic-clogged conurbation around the Grand Harbour, I was looking down at the sheer cliffs and tremendous soaring arch of the Blue Grotto. In the gentle light of a fresh day they radiated that unreal transcendence that occurs when pale limestone meets deep Mediterranean blue. In the distance, the uninhabited islet of Filfla, Malta’s southernmost point, resembled a giant hat tossed from the shore, floating away to Africa. The captain took us around the headland, where we were dwarfed by the natural flying buttress of the arch. The shimmering jewel colours of the sea were hypnotic. Purple coral clung to the rock; schools of
September 2016 World Traveller
Opening pages: The Blue Grotto. Previous page: Pretty streets in Valletta and Mdina. These pages, clockwise from top left: Marsaxlokk harbour; a Mdina phone box; the Valletta skyline; a traditional fishing boat; cannons in the Upper Barrakka Gardens
silvery fish darted in the transparent water; a milkywhite jellyfish pirouetted like a prima ballerina under the boat. From here it was a short drive to the Dingli Cliffs. Flat-roofed cubic buildings and low-stone-walled fields covered the countryside, dotted with intense red patches of poppies, as if the sky had planted lipstick kisses on the land. I wandered amid the prehistoric ‘cart ruts’: parallel grooves cut into the bedrock that went every which way, even straight to the cliff’s edge. The most sliced-up area is called Clapham Junction. Nobody knows the whats or whys, or even how they were made. Prehistoric tools of granite (imported from far beyond Malta) were discovered nearby, adding to the mystery. The ferry to Malta’s little sister Gozo departs on its 20-minute voyage from near here. I arrived to find it less built-up, every bend in the road revealing stunning views over green fields, vines and olive groves, many hedged in prickly pear. Villages lined ridges, piled under churches with prominent domes standing proud on the horizon. Ggantija, the wreck I was keen to visit on Gozo, was far, far older than those that attracted Nadine and Jules: one of the two megalithic temples at Ggantija was built 5,600 years ago, pre-dating Stonehenge and Egypt’s pyramids, making it one of the oldest freestanding structures in the world. It was a picture, with
delicate pink and purple wildflowers growing in dainty arabesques out of fissures in the deeply weathered stones. With its five apses, originally covered with corbelled domes, Ggantija resembles a chubby human body. The famous Fat Ladies – beautiful carved figures of Neolithic divinities found on the sites – could pass for sculptures by Botero. Maybe it’s something in the DNA – even the Maltese joke about generous portions. My own Maltese ‘feast’ was dwindling, but there were some sumptuous treats left: I stayed at the Xara Palace, a boutique hotel in a 17th-century baroque palace in Mdina, Malta’s ancient hilltop capital. Peace pervaded everything, so after dinner on the last night I took a stroll and realised why Mdina is called ‘the silent city’. Where the streetlight splashed the shadows of the narrow lanes, the walls shone like amber. Insanely ornate doorknockers and secret gardens marked the palaces. From the ramparts I could see the Rotunda of Mosta, topped with Malta’s largest dome, festooned with lights like a Christmas bauble under a nearly full moon. Only twice was the silence broken, by the ringing of an old-fashioned telephone and clip-clopping of a faraway horse. And to think my friends had worried that this island was a flat-pack hotel hell. Right here, right now, I couldn’t have been closer to heaven. Inspired to travel? To book a trip call +971 4 316 6666, or log onto dnatatravel.com 49
GR ACEF U L Sophistication, elegance, Michelin stars and supercars; the cream of society assemble in the regal Principality of Monaco, writes Chris Ujma
September 2016 World Traveller
here is timelessness to Monaco’s arguably most famous former resident. Straight from the silver screen and into her real-life fairy tale, Grace Kelly – she of enduring style – became Princess of Monaco in 1956, and though the late star was by no means the instigator of splendour here, she embodies the aura of affluence. Similarly timeless is the unspoken understanding of sartorial standards and decorum that silently emits from the Monte-Carlo district outwards; when everyone is dressed to impress, elegance becomes normality. Sophistication is effortless, not striven, and the air swirls with assumed success – identifiers are not societal but literal labels, hand-sewn into couture. Monaco feels like Mont Agel stood resolute and the high-rise buildings, streets and boutiques were poured down the slopes from above, settling into the available spaces within the rock (with Monte-Carlo Golf Club placed 900m above sea level on the mountain, in 1911). It’s a seven-hour flight from Dubai (time that melts away on board a Wi-Fi-enabled Emirates flight), followed by a 45-minute scoot from Nice Côte d’Azur Airport through mountain roads. The place is French-but-not-French, and Italian is widely spoken: the House of Grimaldi lineage dates back over 700 years, and Monaco achieved autonomy in 1861 when it relinquished half of its territory to France in exchange for cash and independence – a move that gave away natural resources, but inspired the need for a new revenue stream. They turned their attention to tourism and entertainment. On arrival, the first inclination for the visitor is to make their way to Place du Casino, a Square that is the heart of the Monte-Carlo district, and is a magnet for tourists and Monégasques. Actually, call it the second urge: the actual first is to drink in astounding balcony-made views across glittering Port Hercules, which is watched over by 18th-century Fort Antoine in Monaco-Ville ward on the far side. Every property in Monaco is seemingly angled toward this watery focal point, where even adoration takes on new realms: oligarchs prove undying love with names of their
beloved upon sizeable yachts, not love locks. It is around the harbour in which these boating titans are berthed that the grandstand for the annual Formula 1 Grand Prix is assembled – later, when being chauffeured around the streets, you get a sense for the hairpin bends and breathe-in tightness that the highly tuned drivers have to navigate on race day (albeit at 209km/h). When finally making a beeline to said iconic ‘Place’, there are two ways to arrive. The more ‘look-at-me’ route is Avenue de Monte-Carlo, where sports cars slink single-file around the bend, pausing (almost deliberately…) long enough for gawping smartphone cameras, then purring past the corner stores of Gucci and Van Cleef & Arpels. Alternatively, on foot you can stealth in the back way along Avenue de la Costa. You’ll pass by ladies of leisure in their oversized sunglasses (and the requisite high-society accessories: haute horology creation; designer handbag; pintsized pooch), tucking in around the back of Les Pavillons Monte-Carlo, a ‘temporary’ creation in Boulingrins Gardens (for
On arrival, drink in astounding balconymade views across Port Hercules the high-end boutiques of Chanel, Saint Laurent, Chopard et al) while the palatial Hôtel de Paris undergoes restoration. Place du Casino is cosily contained on three sides: when standing front-face to the belle époque-styled Opéra de MonteCarlo, the quaint Café de Paris sits on the left (the perfect spot to people-watch, and where well-dressed professionals clamour for a lunchtime table), with Hôtel de Paris on the right. The inner architecture of the opera house is wondrous; the venue was a resplendent injection of culture devised by Prince Charles III of Monaco in the 1870s, designed by Charles Garnier, and subsequently renovated in 2004. In the original intricate décor (loyally maintained by chief architect Alain-Charles Perrot during restoration) are three types of gold, generous use of the lyre symbol and large
September 2016 World Traveller Opening pages: Monaco’s stunning coastline. This page: A street scene. Next pages, clockwise from top left: A royal guard at Palais du Prince; one of many domed roofs; homes built along the cliff’s edge; cacti at Jardin Exotique; the view from Jardin Exotique
windows overlooking the sea – enough distraction to forgive observers for casting their eye ceilingwards, as opposed to toward the world-class avant-garde acts occupying the stage. From the main square, a stroll south along Boulevard Louis II (which becomes Avenue JF Kennedy) takes you back past the harbour at street level, continuing on past the pretty Church of Sainte Dévote and heading towards Fontvieille; tourismwise, the southernmost ward is in the gravitational orbit of the Palace of Monaco and its stunning panoramas. The treelined streets at this end of town are more bustling, and it’s home to more affordable shops and cafés (with red-clothed pavement tables at which to sip a cup of restretto). Should you ascend levels to reach vantage points such as Esplanade Rainier III, you’ll do so helped by the height of civility: escalators ferry civilians up the incline. Though opulence clearly abounds, there is no velvet rope around the spotless streets of this microstate: they’re walkable for all soles, not paved with gold (even if they often do lead to the doors of a luxury boutique). For those who lack a homing-pigeon sense of direction, pocket-sized Monaco is easy to get to grips with; there are plenty of enveloping corners, but it’s easy to reacquire your bearings. At least every 50 paces there’s a detail to stoke inquisitiveness and plenty of establishments you’ll lay eyes upon belong to Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer (or Monte-Carlo SBM), which presides over the lion’s share of the entertainment, hospitality, fine-dining and wellness options in Monaco. SBM laid the foundation for Monte-Carlo’s status as a destination colossus – among the jewels in its case are the breathtaking Salle Garnier and Salle des Etoiles concert halls, the seafacing Thermes Marins spa and fitness address, and properties such as Villa Vigie (the former residence of Karl Lagerfeld), the awe-inspiring Hôtel de Paris and the 160-year-old Hôtel Hermitage. The latter is a notable local legend: a resplendent example of nonpareil standards. It houses a hallway designed by Gustav Eiffel, where guests can enjoy breakfast under the glass 53
dome he also dreamt up; assistance comes from smartly dressed door staff in top hats, sliding bespoke luggage into equally bespoke vehicles; in the abodes, the acclaimed Diamond Suites are the pinnacle of luxury, with private access and stunning views of the Mediterranean Sea. Hôtel Hermitage is history, poetry and romance, encapsulated in a property that has even bottled its own signature scent. Of Monaco’s 37,000 population, 30% are said to be millionaires, and refined palates are catered to here: jet in for a long weekend and you’ll dine heartily with every meal of the day. For example, Hermitage is home to one such culinary highlight – Le Vistamar and terrace – perfect for first-night dinner. Brunch the following day should be savoured at Monte-Carlo Beach Hotel’s Elsa, devised by chef Paolo Sari. Dining theatre takes many forms here. Synchronised waiters lift glass plate-covers to reveal the 100% organic fare underneath – drama matched by the breathtaking surroundings, where upon a sun-soaked terrace you’re serenaded by the gentle cush of waves against the walls below, and protected by a mountainous backdrop. It’s the perfect 54
setting in which to savour a famed, lighterthan-air almond soufflé. At Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel & Resort, Blue Bay warrants similar plaudits: Marcel Ravin used local Mediterranean and exotic Caribbean flavours to secure a place among Monaco’s Michelin-star elite. Come nightfall, should the soundtrack of blinging slot machines not be to your taste in glitzy Place du Casino, back at Hôtel Hermitage there’s
It’s beautiful to behold such sobriety; all chic, no kitsch a quieter place to end the evening: on the terrace of Le Crystal with an aperitif. If the temperature dips they’ll issue a blanket, and the noise level in the streets below certainly dips (save for the occasional throaty echo of a passing supercar). Monaco may only clock in at 2.2 sq km, but its footprint is comprehensive: a characterful high-end shopping centre – Le Métropole – with its chandeliers, wroughtiron railings and marble staircases; a football stadium for the hometown team
AS Monaco FC; as of 2016, 15 Michelin-star enclaves; a cliffside botanical garden; and museums respectively dedicated to stamps, oceanography, local heritage, prehistoric anthropology and the Prince’s vintage-car collection. Another SBM asset, Jimmy’z Sporting Monte-Carlo, attracts the night owls – the rich and famous after a slice of the club’s self-styled ‘haute-couture electro’. In this playground of the elite, the refined let their hair down with acts of wealth, not gaudy wildness (if there is hedonism, it is neatly concealed). Monaco takes itself seriously, and it is beautiful to behold such sobriety; all chic, no kitsch, you feel compelled to respectfully rise to the occasion. As a destination, it evoked in me the Hardy Amies quote: “A man should look as if he had bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care, and then forgotten all about them.” Centuries ago, the Rock of Monaco was strategically chosen for its ability to protect. Now, the Principality assumes responsibility as a guardian itself – of taste, class, and the finer things in life. Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call +971 4 316 6666, or log onto dnatatravel.com
September 2016 World Traveller
September 2016 World Traveller
Beauty & the
Katie Glass and her pal Zara mix health and hedonism on holiday in Phuket â€“ the luxury destination thatâ€™s alluring a solely female demographic
cork pops and music streams out of our villa and over me as I float belly-up in our private pool, deep in post-massage bliss. Inside, rose petals decorate the bathtub. The steam room is on ‘full’. Beneath our deck, the Andaman Sea shivers in the evening light. Then the romance of the moment is punctured by a scream – Cyndi Lauper being turned up a notch on the stereo, and a figure dive-bombing into the pool. “I bet this is how Kate and Stella do holidays!” yells Zara, who’s jumped in. You see, I’m not sharing this ‘honeymoon’ moment with a lover. Instead, I’ve gone on holiday with my best friend. As girlie holiday destinations go, Thailand might not seem an obvious choice. It doesn’t have the party reputation of Ibiza, the cool appeal of New York, or even the sun, sea and sangria potential of Marbella. If anything, Thailand – and Phuket in particular – conjures up an image of honeymooners, backpackers or, worse, middle-aged men seeking a different kind of loving. But look closer at the sun-worshippers in those beachside cabanas and you’ll find an altogether more glamorous breed of holidaymaker. Kate Moss has spent New Year on the island with Naomi Campbell; Kim Kardashian went with her whole Amazonian clan: her mother and sisters Kylie, Kendall and Khloé; Rihanna, too, took a break in Phuket during her world tour. So Zara and I were definitely up for a girlie holiday here. Thailand is changing. Admittedly, the first hotel we checked in at, The Naka Island, was probably intended for honeymooners – a private-island resort reached by speedboat, out across clear blue seas, where isles float like blossoming green clouds. Stepping off the boat onto an empty white-sand beach, we were presented with fresh jasmine wrist garlands and invited to ceremoniously bang a gong and welcome in ‘our new life together’. We giggled all the way to our hotel villa, unsure what hotel staff made of us. We needn’t have worried. While in some island idylls – say, the Caribbean or the Maldives – it might be awkward to land with your best friend in a lovers’ paradise, in Thailand they go in for romance-lite. It’s not about formal candlelit dinners, beach weddings or some lovey-dovey ritual, rather couples just enjoying the laid-back vibe. The villa, stacked with fruit platters, Ferrero Rocher, a spa menu and an iPod pre-programmed with Bob Marley, was far better to share with a girlfriend. We lounged in our private sala – a little openroofed wooden outhouse overlooking the beach – sharing gossip from a magazine, delighted to be saved from socialising around a hotel pool packed with a crowd of other tourists. And it was definitely a bonus when confronting a breakfast banquet complete with pastries, churros and sushi not to be worried about your partner thinking you’re a pig.
September 2016 World Traveller Previous pages: A fisherwoman in Krabi. These pages, clockwise from left: A roadside stall in Patong; an elephant in the jungle; The Naka Island beachfront spa. Next pages: Baba Nest. Closing pages, clockwise from top left: A seafood stand on Rawai Beach; Laem Singh headland; a Royal Horizon Pool Villa at The Naka Island
For women, Thailand’s greatest advantage over other destinations is how safe it feels. We were travelling alone and didn’t think twice about going out at night; we weren’t hassled once. On our first night we ventured to the frantic Bangla Road in the heart of Patong. The Soho of Phuket, this notorious party area is a strip of hectic seafront on the west coast. We prepared for sleaze but were surprised to find the domestic and quirky existing comfortably side by side in an amusing and utterly non-threatening way. Zara and I stifled laughs at the live bands playing hideously hilarious country-music covers and teens rocking out in AC/DC T-shirts at heavy-metal bars. Among the less salubrious joints we found families, street entertainers, ice-cream shops, fish pedicures, beauty salons (more on which later) and, inexplicably, groups of women playing Connect Four. If you’re a girl with, say, a penchant for retro drinks, there’s a place for you, too. The White Box restaurant on nearby Kalim Beach is a pale, glassy cube with blue neon lights and a deck perched over the sea, where waitresses in nautical uniforms serve drinks to Argentinian lounge music. “It’s like Marbella – but better,” tittered Zara. Thailand has sophisticated offerings for girls on tour, too. You can avoid Patong altogether and instead head to the exclusive Baba Nest, which looks like an Asian Shoreditch House. High on the southern
Cape Panwa peninsula, this rooftop bar is bounded by a wraparound infinity pool, creating the illusion of hovering between sea and sky. We felt as if we were floating as we sat on cushions around a sunken table. Since I’ve already revealed this was a girls’ holiday, I may as well admit to our ‘girlie’ behaviour. Having massively overpacked, we’d arrived with a family-sized suitcase each, plus hand luggage, with Zara also, inexplicably, carrying a fur coat. We needn’t have bothered – shopping in Thailand is phenomenally cheap and we made the most of it. At the Talad Tai Rot night market, we loaded up on tie-dye then killed the hippy vibe by buying rip-off designer sunglasses and bags – something you couldn’t dream of doing on a shopping trip to New York. And when we weren’t shopping, we were at the spa – in Thailand, people have massages like they do Starbucks elsewhere. You can’t walk down any little street without finding a group of women in silk uniforms calling you inside for a body scrub. Of course, we obliged. Nearly all the salons have Wi-Fi, so we sat instagramming our holiday while getting our pedicures done. We were in seventh heaven to find prices so low. Had we gone to New York or Ibiza, we’d have paid USD150 for a decent massage. In Thailand, they set us back about USD13. In W’s Nail Spa in Phuket Town, we had super-cool manicures administered by a flamboyant technician who had done 59
Baba Nest is bounded by a wraparound infinity pool, creating the illusion of hovering between sea and sky. We felt as if we were floating on cushions
September 2016 World Traveller
Rihanna’s nails on her last trip. At Central Festival, one of the island’s largest malls, I had a full head of hair extensions fitted for an outrageously low fee – so reasonable (for such a good job), in fact, that the woman from the UK in the next chair confessed she came to Phuket twice a year just to get hers done. Waxing, however, wasn’t such a success. The naturally hair-free Thai girls seemed so baffled by my leg stubble, it took more than two hours and was agonising. We spent 10 days in Phuket like this, having beauty treatments and trying not to overindulge on the cheap and delicious curries. But it wasn’t long before we realised we’d become Buddha-shaped. It was time to try another girlie Thai tradition. Phuket is the spiritual home of the detox, and one of the best places in the world to do so, in one of its many yoga and wellbeing centres. We took up residence at Phuket Cleanse, hidden down a leafy backstreet in Rawai, a short walk away from stunning Nai Harn Beach, and just a 15-minute drive from Phuket Town. Run by eccentric American hippies Mel and Stanton, the retreat runs 62
a unique ‘active cleanse’ programme where you can choose between an extreme juiceonly diet or a buffet of raw vegan foods. On site, we had an open-air ice bath, sauna and private pool, but there would also be trips out for Muay Thai training, hot yoga, circuits on the beach, mountain hikes, meditation and raw-food cookery classes.
Phuket is the spiritual home of the detox, and one of the best places in the world to do so Our fellow ‘cleansers’ were an eclectic mix of Australians, Brits, Hong Kong expats and Koreans. We started each morning with shots of spirulina. On day three I skipped down to breakfast and whispered smugly across the table to Zara, “I’ve lost four pounds!” She shrieked loudly in the otherwise serene room, turning heads, “I’ve lost seven!”
On our last day, we hiked up into the Nakkerd Hills to see the 45m-high white marble Big Buddha, near Chalong Bay – so big it’s visible all across southern Phuket. Buddhist monks in orange robes meditated on the mountaintop. Monkeys jumped between trees hung with bells. It may have a touristy vibe, with shops selling trinkets, but the undercurrent was quietly spiritual. Of course girls will love Thailand, where even the written language looks like cake decoration. It’s somewhere you can detox and retox and, most importantly, relax in peace. Phuket’s also proud of its feminist past. At Amphoe Thalang, the Two Heroines Monument remembers sisters Thao Thep Kasattri and Thao Sri Sunthon, who helped defeat Burmese invaders in 1785 by disguising local women as male soldiers, thereby convincing Burma’s army that Phuket’s military manpower had increased overnight. My enduring memory, though, is of girls giggling outside beauty parlours. I’ll just remember to take an epilator next time. Inspired to travel? To book a trip call +971 4 316 6666, or log onto dnatatravel.com
September 2016 World Traveller
Weekends Weekends Opener
Two days is still plenty of time to travel 66 One Weekend For All: Lisbon 68 48-Hour Foodie: Ras al-Khaimah 69 Staycations 70 Great Escapes: Beachfront Bliss 74 Reader Offers
September 2016 World Traveller
Paradise Found Make memories in ancient Kalutara
aving opened its doors on the first of the month, Anantara’s Kalutara Resort ticks all the luxury boxes, then adds a few more and ticks them, too. Superbly located under two hour’s drive from Colombo Airport, Kalutara is the perfect base for a short break in the teardrop island of Sri Lanka. Nestled into the ruggedly beautiful southwest coast and set among tropical gardens, every one of the 141 rooms, suites and pool villas is beautifully designed. Interiors are a fusion of local charm and intricate craftsmanship combined with contemporary furnishings and accented by stunning views. Take your pick from breathtaking scenes of the Indian Ocean or the Kalu Ganga River, perfectly framed by swaying coconut palms. For true indulgence, check into one of the spaciously appointed villas, where you can relax in your own private plunge pool and pretty garden terrace. Dining options abound, and rightly so – Sri Lanka is as famed for its cuisine as it is for its tea. Local delicacies are served in Spice Traders alongside a culinary showcase of the best pan-Asian cuisine, while all-day dining at Olu offers live cooking stations and international food under a lofty ceiling. Sample authentic Italian cuisine crafted with passion at Acquolina, then head on over to The Upper Deck, perfect for sundowners with a view to remember.
With wellness concepts at its very core, Anantara knows how to spa and Kalutara is no exception. Restore harmony in body, mind and spirit by checking into an oasis of tranquillity where holistic Ayurvedic rituals, time-honoured treatments and ancient therapies await. Afterwards, prolong your Zen with a yoga session on the pavilion. Spend your days swimming, sunbathing and basking in the resort’s exotic beauty or head out to discover more with scenic helicopter flights that reveal a bird’s eye view of Kalutara’s exotic beauty. Guests can opt to head out for a picnic beside a waterfall, go river fishing on a traditional
boat or soak up the romance of a sunset river cruise. Relax into authentic luxury at Anantara Kalutara on Sri Lanka’s imposing southwest coastline and rest assured you’ll be returning home with tales of indulgence and memories that will stay with you for a long time to come.
Be among the first to stay at Anantara Kalutara Resort and experience the warmth of Sri Lankan hospitality combined with Anantara’s signature service. For reservations email kalutara.resort@ anantara.com, call +94 11 468 9689 or head online to kalutara.anantara.com 65
Weekends Lisbon For All...
One Weekend For All In... lisbon
Year-round fine weather, soulful music, charming cafés and a sumptuous dose of culture: there’s plenty to love about the Portuguese capital
The romantic one
If hand-in-hand strolls are on your agenda, Bairro Alto Hotel in Chiado is centrally located and, ideal address aside, has a rooftop bar with a breathtaking view. For lunch, Darwin’s Café is a stunning, colourful homage to the famed biologist, where views of the Tagus River compete with original drawings from Charles’ own hand. Munch on affordable fare while contemplating the millions of years of evolutionary fate that transpired, allowing your love to bloom… Remaining with the admiration of nature, take a cruise in the Bay of Setubal – also known as the Bay of the Dolphins – where Flipper and friends frolic, hunt and socialise. Lisbon’s pop-upbook quality is apparent with the views from Miradouro Senhora do Monte, while old-fashioned romance takes shape with a horse-drawn carriage ride through Pena Park. The opportunity to watch the likes of Madama Butterfly at TNSC (or São Carlos Theatre) won’t occur until October, but opposite the intricately designed opera house is Belcanto. With its two Michelin stars, storytelling cuisine and elegant, industrial/Parisian-chic décor, this is a sumptuous setting for a memorable candelit dinner. 66
The family-friendly one
Say hola to a view of the city that will make the entire family say ‘wow’ by riding the Telecabine cable car. It glides over the park area, estuary and by the 145m-tall Vasco da Gama Tower for 20 minutes of total awe. The Sintra Toy Museum has a more direct childlike appeal. An immense collection of 60,000 figures come to life (metaphorically) to inspire the inner child of every guest. Curious minds will delight at the 8,000 aquatic species of marine life at the Oceanário de Lisboa, from toothy, menacing sharks to uttlerly cute sea otters. Parque das Nações, meanwhile, is ideal for the restless with bikes for hire, bowling, the Parque do Gil playground and much more. When hunger strikes, Pregos da Peixaria is a trendy seafood place with fresh catches and tasty sushi, and is also (surprisingly) a great place for prego – a meat sandwich with a dash of mustard. Getting to pick your fish from the tank will please your own tiddlers no end. Don’t depart Lisbon without treating the kids to the proclaimed ‘best ice cream in the world’, following a tradition that dates back to 1949, with a visit to a Santini dessert parlour.
Clockwise from below: Trams on Rua da Conceição; Palácio da Pena; pasteles de nata; Mosteiro dos Jerónimos Cathedral; rooftop views in Alfama
september 2016 World Traveller
Did You Know?
• There’s been a noticeable upsurge in new hotels opening in the past year. Fresh-faced LX Boutique Hotel and stylish Porto Bay Liberdade lead the charge, with the latter located a mere 60m from Portugal’s most luxurious shopping avenue. This clutch of unique properties have enriched an already accomplished hospitality scene, whereby established favourites such as the elegant Olissippo Lapa Palace Hotel and the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon provide stunning views and impeccable levels of service.
The adventurous one
Looking for hours on the open ocean? Book some tailored time aboard a boat skippered by the Spica Sailing Team, whose crew guarantee a party atmosphere. Burst out of indoor galleries for a fascinating fourhour Street Art Tour led by Vasco T Rodrigues (who is arguably Portugal’s foremost graffiti and urban-culture expert), or instead opt for a Lisbon Surf Tour, which includes equipment hire and surfing the waves off Guincho or at Costa de Caparica. Trade balancing on your own two legs for those of a Lusitano horse; there are local riding tours, and even sessions on horseback in Cascai (on the grounds of Quinta da Marinho Resort). For a high-altitude adventure, the Sintra Natural Park has excellent rock-climbing opportunities. Back in the city, internationally renowned venue Lux is a nightclub partly owned by John Malkovich. Expect a queue to get into this ice-cool venue (it’s a known ‘name’ of Lisbon nightlife). This last tip slightly cheats: Lisbon acts as the starting point for a fantastic four-day Motorbike Tour of southern Portugal, taking in green valleys, wide plains and plenty of Portuguese cuisine.
Ask A local
“Start the day with a delicious croissant from Pastelaria Careca in Restelo, before taking a stroll along the river line in Patrao dos Descobrimentos and Palacio de Belem. (I urge art lovers to see which exhibit is showing at nearby CCB.) Lunch in Alfama at one of many great traditional restaurants. Also, take time to stop at Miradouro da Graça with its gorgeous skyline view, before visiting Avenida da Liberdade (for its high couture). End an afternoon with sunset at Terreiro do Paço, to watch the 25 de Abril Bridge light up at dusk.”
- Catarina CR
The restful one
There’s nothing like a spot of retail therapy to soothe the soul. Avenida da Liberdade, Rua Castilho, Chiado and Rua da Escola Politécnica are within a relatively new area of boutiques and indoor markets in which to seek those pick-meup purchases. There’s plenty to choose from: standouts for the men are Rosa & Teixeira and Oficina Mustra, while Stivali provides sleek offerings for the ladies. Altis Belém Hotel & Spa is a luxury base away from the city centre for some peace, quiet and a dose of wellness. On the culture trail, Museu Berardo is a contemporary-art treasure trove. The museum is settled in the same area as the UNESCOlisted and fantastical Mosteiro dos Jerónimos Cathedral – it was commissioned to celebrate Vasco da Gama’s 1498 discovery of a sea route to India. Take time to sink teeth into a pastry called pastel de nata from the vendors here, too. Top up inner peace at the award-winning spa of the Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon: think heated limestone floors, sauna and steam rooms. PS Don’t forget the Estoril, Cascais and Oeiras coastline, and its unspolit beaches: rugged and pretty. 67
Weekends 48-Hour Foodie
The UAE’s northernmost emirate, with its white beaches, high mountain ranges and rolling waves, isn’t just the gateway to the Musandam peninsula – it’s also a great spot for foodies, especially those with a penchant for fresh seafood
DAY ONE Breakfast
DAY TWO Breakfast
Get your trip off to a great start with the breakfast spread at Seven Heights in Rixos Bab Al Bahr. Whether you want fresh fruit and creamy yoghurt, deliciously buttery pancakes, eggs and sausage or even Chinese-style noodles, you’ll find it all here. The décor hints at Arabian traditions and the alfresco terrace, surrounded by pools of water, makes for a lovely spot to enjoy your morning coffee. It’s among the reasons this hotel gets booked up so quickly, and is a worthy breakfast stop for the day tripper. babalbahr.rixos.com
Head to Al Marjan Island Resort and Spa for breakfast by the sea. Take a pew on the terrace and dine beachside, or head indoors, where colourful Arabian-inspired artwork pairs well with marinecoloured furniture. Take your pick from a huge variety of breakfast dishes including eggs whichever way you desire. We recommend the shakshouka, where eggs are cooked sunny-side up and served in a skillet of tasty tomato and pepper sauce: truly delicious. marjanislandresort.com/dining
You’d be forgiven for driving past Al Moohit on Al Khor Road – the faded red carpet leading to a door marked with a chef’s hatwearing cartoon fish is certainly quirky. But don’t. Inside, once you get past the colourful waves painted on the walls and the bright purple and green place mats, you’ll find some of the best seafood around. Choose from the well-stocked fresh fish counter or go for the seafood platter – packed with prawns, fish fillets, calamari and mussels, it’s perfect for sharing. Facebook: Al-moohit-restaurant For delicious fare with a strong Mediterranean vibe, try Basilico at The Cove Rotana Resort – our favourite of their six culinary venues. Dining in this scenic spot, which comes with gorgeous sunset views, you’ll feel like you’re a million miles from the city, in an idyllic location. There’s something for everyone with a great selection of risottos, pizzas, salads, soups and seafood. Try the grilled sea bass, crusted with garlic and veal bacon, and leave room for dessert – the potted chocolate cheesecake hits all the right sweet notes. rotana.com/rotanahotelandresorts/rasalkhaimah 68
For those craving a taste of home, The Village English Pub at Al Hamra offers a wonderful traditional lunch. This ‘local’ is a tribute to all things England, expect dark wood tables and racinggreen quilted seats. The atmosphere is cosy, the staff are friendly and the food is definitely comforting. Try the English Club House sandwich or go all traditional with a tasty portion of Blighty’s famous fish and chips – scrumptious British-style pub grub, guaranteed. alhamravillage.com/dine/english-pub.html To truly round off your Ras al-Khaimah weekend in style, dinner at Al Waha in the Banyan Tree Al Wadi is a must. The restaurant name means ‘oasis’ in Arabic and, set amid rolling sand dunes, it lives up to its moniker. New chef de cuisine Tamer Alnoty serves a fantastic array of Middle Eastern cuisine, taking influences from Greece, Italy, Asia and beyond. Beautifully plated, we recommend the couer de saumon fumé to start, followed by freshly caught seafood, all enjoyed under the twinkling desert skies. banyantree.com/en/em-uae-al-wadi/al-waha
September 2016 World Traveller
Staycations Desirable hotel hot spots on the GCC doorstep, for a relaxing weekend escape
Kempinski Hotel, Palm Jumeirah Refined Residences
The Ritz-Carlton, Doha Arabian Opulence
Al Faisaliah Hotel & Suites Saudi Sophistication
The Regency Kuwait The Most On The Coast
In a nutshell
In a nutshell
In a nutshell
In a nutshell
An all-suite resort with European styling and a palatial aura, set in five acres of stunning grounds. A city escape
One of the most elegant properties in the Qatari capital, and a highlight of the ‘Lion and Crown’ brand’s global portfolio
Al Faisaliah Hotel has 224 rooms and five-star luxury; Al Faisaliah Suites is Riyadh’s only dedicated luxury-suite property
Gourmet dining, stylish living spaces, stunning surrounds and an ideal location for local exploration. True elegance
Its 500m-long private beach: overlook the azure lagoon while lounging in a cabana. GCC residents can avail the Beach Club, with an array of privileges and choice of memberships
The Spa seals the deal. Aqua and fitness facilities appeal to the active; those seeking wellness are treated to ‘traditional Arabic principles, Asian traditions and progressive European concepts’
With its shimmering crystals, soothing waterfalls, lounges and a hammam, Al Faisaliah Spa by ESPA is a haven of relaxation... but sorry gentlemen, this retreat only caters to the ladies
An abundance of water: two beaches, five freshwater swimming pools and an infinity pool. The Ladies Lounge gives exclusive access to a private pool, beach and indoor lounge
Suite? Try a hotel penthouse. The Superior four-bedroom version has three king rooms and a twin, plus terraces with views of the Dubai cityscape
The Grand Amiri is a space filled with huge bedrooms, a luxurious living room, Jacuzzi and marble bathrooms, plus a balcony with Doha vistas
Take a private elevator to the Royal Penthouse Suite, which spans the fourth and fifth floors. Avail the personal butler, and never leave the suite...
A living area, dining room for eight, hand-carved bed and floor-to-ceiling Arabian Gulf views: the Abdul Razzaq Suite is named after the hotel’s founder
For alfresco, the Beach BBQ hits the spot. Refined dining comes in the shape of Brunello, with its ‘seasonal menus; hymns to Italy’
Elegant La Mer on the 23rd floor is fine-dining seafood fare with a reputation that’s hard to rival. For Italian, opt for Porcini
The Globe is a sight to behold, with panoramas from within the spectacular golden sphere atop the Al Faisaliah Tower
Sample High Tea in the ornate marble lobby with its glass atrium, plus attend the famed Friday Brunch at Silk Road
kempinski.com/en/dubai/ palm-jumeirah/ Dubai On the Palm’s secluded west crescent: remote, yet with direct access to Sheikh Zayed Road
ritzcarlton.com/en/hotels/ qatar/doha Qatar Upon an island parcel on the fringe of The Pearl, assuring stunning Arabian Gulf views
lhw.com/hotel/al-faisaliahhotel-riyadh-saudi-arabia Saudi Arabia On King Fahd Road – the same street as the Sky Bridge and four malls (one right next door)
Kuwait 15km away from the city centre, it’s on the shoreline right on the edge of Kuwait Bay
Weekends Great Escapes
bliss on the beach A look at four properties within weekend reach that are each blessed with an exquisite parcel of sand
September 2016 World Traveller 1.
Meeru Island Resort & Spa, Maldives
As the solitary property here, guests are assured every inch of beach that fringes the island is theirs to tread. These soft, white sands long to be padded upon, from the chalet-style bungalows on the northern tip and back – the island itself is only 1200m by 350m. Daydream away of tranquillity, and a calming turquoise lagoon...
Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Hotel, Qatar
The pyramidal luxe high-rise is located on the shores of West Bay, right on the corner of the yawning Doha Corniche. Haute waterfront suites overlooking Gulf Bay are a highlight, but this is the ideal location to be close to the beach and within easy reach of the city centre, with a skyline backdrop. Outside guests who fancy a day of leisurely sunsoaking are welcome, too, by obtaining a Day Pass/Beach Access.
Jumeirah Beach Hotel, Dubai
The multi-award-winning Dubai icon boasts plenty of desirable features, from suites with ocean views to those granting direct access to the ever-popular Wild Wadi Water Park – a real draw for visiting families. But one of its main assets is a great stretch of private beach that shapes along the Arabian Gulf. The wave-shaped hotel is mere footsteps away from real swells.
The H Resort Beau Vallon Beach, Seychelles
The island of Mahé provides the setting for H’s exquisite boutique property. Elegantly designed suites and villas boast day beds inside and out, while some feature private pools, too. But tough though they are to vacate, the Beau Vallon Beach is a naturally beautiful amenity you’ll instantly adore. 71
Weekends Abu Dhabi
City of Symphony
Orchestral movements bring the emotion of the silver screen to life in rousing fashion
hat shall it be: a night at the movies or a cultured date with the orchestra? Why not experience both. The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) presents A Night At The Movies... EXTREME! at the resplendent Emirates Palace Auditorium on 30 September. Ever popular with audiences young and old alike, this year’s movie night will raise the curtain on the orchestra’s fifth annual season and follows its recent acclaimed performances accompanying both classical maestro Andrea Bocelli and Disney’s Frozen. Proceedings will be conducted by music director Andrew Berryman, and the concert promises an array of tantalising movie-themed treats to excite the musical palate. The NSO has delved into its music box to bring to life treasures from Disney’s Fantasia, with extracts from Stravinsky’s amazing The Firebird. And, staying on trend, attendees will also be treated to
music from blockbuster film Star Trek Into Darkness, as well as an exciting world premiere from the award-winning composer James Griffiths, Starlight Horizon. There’ll be a special arrangement of classics from the Cartoon Network, too, featuring the Emirati cartoon character Mansour. The musical spectacular culminates with the choral theme Ode To Joy from Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony – an epic piece performed with the full might of the 100-voice NSO Symphony Chorus, alongside guest soloists. The night will cap a month that is chockfull of fascinating events, as the Abu Dhabi Summer Season enters its final flourish with various comedy stylings, as well as The District programme, designed to imbibe 14- to 22-year-olds with new skills, support and guidance. Everything is in place this September for memories to be made (and family time to be shared) in the UAE capital. Tickets for A Night At The Movies... EXTREME! are available at ticketmaster. ae; to explore the full range of
entertainment and cultural offerings taking place in Abu Dhabi this autumn, visit tcaabudhabi.ae
Eastern Mangroves Hotel & Spa by Anantara is not merely a haven of hospitality – it’s an integrated hotel, marina, retail and residential destination. While it invokes traditional Arabian design elements, Anantara’s majestic property also brings a taste of the exotic to Abu Dhabi. As its name suggests, the hotel overlooks the fascinating Eastern Mangrove Lagoon National Park, a slice of nature in a bustling emirate. The hotel is an urban sanctuary itself, with 222 rooms and suites crowned by the Royal Mangroves Residence, complete with private entrance and rooftop pool. There’s also the Kasara Club Floor and lounges, three dining enclaves, an infinity pool and, of course, the famed Anantara Spa – all set against an utterly serene backdrop, no less. abu-dhabi.anantara.com
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Jumeirah At Etihad Towers
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Grand Millennium Al Wahda
The Ritz-Carlton DIFC
Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel
Four Seasons Bahrain Bay
Qatar Marriott Marquis City Center Doha Hotel
1 night from USD86 per person Special offer: Special Eid al-Adha offer Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast Validity: 3-17 Sep 2016
UAE Jumeirah At Etihad Towers
1 night from USD69 per person* Special offer: Late check-out until 2pm and guaranteed interconnecting rooms Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast Validity: Now ’til 17 Sep 2016
Grand Millennium Al Wahda
1 night from USD41 per person* Special offer: 25% discount on room rate, late check-out 74
until 4pm, and 30% discount on food and beverages Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Room with breakfast Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
Anantara The Palm
1 night from USD137 per person* Special offer: 20% discount on room rate Includes: Stay in a Premier Lagoon View Room with breakfast Validity: Now ’til 6 Oct 2016
DAMAC Maison Canal Views
1 night from USD61 per person* Special offer: Summer promotional rates Includes: Stay in a Deluxe Downtown View Room with breakfast Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
DAMAC Maison Canal Views
The Ritz-Carlton DIFC
2 nights from USD229 per person* Special offer: 10% discount on room rate, complimentary upgrade to an Executive Suite, 2 children below 12 years stay and eat for free when accompanied by at least 1 paying adult, 20% discount on food and beverages in selected restaurants, and 25% discount on selected spa treatments Includes: Stay in a Junior Suite with breakfast Validity: Now ’til 30 Sep 2016
Bahrain Four Seasons Bahrain Bay
1 night from USD196 per person* Special offer: Summer promotional rates Includes: Stay in a Superior Room with breakfast Validity: Now ’til 15 Sep 2016
*Rates may vary during the Eid period from 8 to 16 Sep 2016
September 2016 World Traveller
WIN! An appealing stay at the luxury Banana Island Resort Doha by Anantara Arabian style with signature Anantara touches, 800m of private beach, a dedicated Balance Wellness Centre â€“ the only one of its kind in the Middle East â€“ and eight mouthwatering dining options. Yes, this resort is a masterpiece, set upon a distinctive crescent-shaped island in the Arabian Gulf, only 25 minutes by luxury ferry from downtown Doha. For the chance to win two nights in a premier room (including breakfast) for two people, just complete this hotel-themed statement: Banana Island Resort Doha is shaped like a... A) B) C)
Triangle Crescent Heart
Email your answer to easywin@ hotmediapublishing.com by 30 September 2016. Flights to Doha not included in the prize. Stay not available during public holidays and weekends; advanced booking must be made. Valid for 6 months from closing date.
Weekends Suite Dreams
What: Golden Gate View Suite Where: Cavallo Point – the Lodge at the Golden Gate, San Francisco About:
At the turn of the last century, Cavallo Point – the Lodge at the Golden Gate served as a home for army personnel, due to its convenient position at the mouth of San Francisco Bay. Now it serves as one of America’s most charming hotels, with 74 newly constructed rooms and suites added to the wonderfully characterful rooms that housed the military staff. Among those new is the Golden Gate View Suite, where design highlights include a two-sided fireplace – perfect for those chilly San Francisco dawns. But the star of the show is of course the Golden Gate Bridge, a moniker that sounds a great deal more alluring than International Orange Gate Bridge (how it would be known if its true colour were referenced). Each day this wonderful suite provides the perfect vantage point to see the iconic landmark gradually reveal its full glory. Low-hanging fog shrouds the bridge for much of the morning, with just a burst of orange above the clouds offering a tantalising hint of what lies beneath. Slowly, the fog dissipates and the bridge stands fully exposed, resplendent in the San Francisco sun. An icon of America observed without even having to open your door. Cavallo Point – the Lodge at the Golden Gate is a member of the Preferred Hotels & Resorts LVX Collection 76
Spend your summer in Abu Dhabi with superb entertainment across the emirate for all the family including live concerts, amazing theatre shows, great comedy and your favourite kids' characters live on stage!
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KEY MAP Abu Dhabi Al Ain Al Gharbia
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AN ch Th RP TE a Bea E P ah lR -A i b a
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JW MARRIOT TÂ® MARQUIS DUBAI
Destination of Exceptional Taste. Experience a world of choice with authentic flavors at a myriad of award-winning restaurants and lounges.
PERUVIAN FOOD & DRINKS TO SHARE
Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971 4 414 0000, F +971 4 414 0001 | jwmarriottmarquisdubai.com JW Marriott Marquis Dubai |
-Here come the girls: Phuket embraces a new audience -First impressions of whirlwind Japan -Malta: reinvented and refined -The majesty of Mo...
Published on Aug 30, 2016
-Here come the girls: Phuket embraces a new audience -First impressions of whirlwind Japan -Malta: reinvented and refined -The majesty of Mo...