Page 1

WINTER 14/15














island hopping...

Whether it’s business or pleasure, Victor will find you the best prices for private jet charter. Compare quotes from more than 110 certified operators and choose from over 700 aircraft. We offer you the most competitive booking fee, exceptional service and a commitment to total transparency with no hidden charges. It’s where the smart money is moving. Victor is approved by the Civil Aviation Authority for ATOL Licence 10378

+44 20 7384 8550 - +49 69 66 55 41 25 - +7 499 255 1793 London







elcome to another issue of JETSETTER, Asia-Pacific’s dedicated experiential luxury travel magazine. I’m writing elcome to sales the floor of the this from the busy International Luxury Travel Mart Asia winter issue of (ILTM) 2014, the region’s premium JETSETTER, showcase of luxury travel experiences, held each year in Shanghai. This year’s Asia’s leading packed exhibition, a collection of lavish events and x p e r i e nappointments tial nose-to-the-grindstone e business that welcomed over 500 Winter buyers (an percent increase) travel magazine. is a11 great from 19 countries, a trusted thermometer of excuse to travel;remains you can head to the Asian luxury travel scene in general, and of China’s the ski slopes of Japan or Europe or specifically.


Canada, or run for the sun in spots

Alike report at ILTM and commissioned by its thereleased Maldives, Australia, and organisers Reed Exhibitions and luxury consumer the Caribbean. authority Hurun Report, delves further into one of the most important markets for luxury hotels and travel In this issue we scour companies. Outbound travel the from globe China increased by almost 18 for percent in 2013, 98 million, the off report found,Zealand’s making itdramatic the largestSouth outbound looking unique traveltoideas, starting in New Island, market in the world. With 2.9 million millionaires in China, a number that’s increasing by 3.6 to where campervanning has gone luxe. If the Southern Alps give you chills, head percent per annum, it’s a positive time for the luxury travel scene, both regionally and beyond.

Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake, where Aqua Expeditions’ newest ship, the Aqua Mekong, has started four, andinseven night Siem Reap to and Saigon, linking We have a three, little something this issue for itineraries all travellersbetween from Asia. We escape little Lord Howe Island, an with isolated offlandscapes the coast ofand Australia; and for warmer climes Shangrivisitors theparadise beautiful villages of head the region, on and off at the water. In La’s Villingi we Resort & time Spa, one of thethe Maldives’ most luxurious resorts; before delving the Chengdu have to visit giant pandas, sip fiery baijiu made from into a timeless redevelopment of London’s historic King’s Cross precinct, the city’s most ambitious project to recipe, and check in totheone of China’s mostPanwa luxurious new hotels, the Stbeautiful Regis. Talking date. In Phuket we visit regal Regent Cape on the island’s ruggedly east of stopping in for a drink, this issue, we seek out our favourite rooftop cocktail coast; visit the home of luxury hospitality with Langham London, and give you the low downdivans on Asia’s best adults resorts. luxesover out in France and martini. Bangkok,Then while it’s Divia and soak in theonly views from Gayatri the top Bhaumik of the world a well-made off to Harilela gives us her favourite haunts in Tokyo in The Guide. In our regular Lifestyle section, Copenhagen, where Gayatri Bhaumik follows her taste buds and taste for fashion through we travel the world with mint-themed experiences; sample craft-distilled spirits from Down one ofeat Scandinavia’s coolest capitals, Richard Green does the famed Trans-Siberian Under; our way through Lima; and getwhile behind the wheel of Lamborghini’s newest supercar. in style through the Russian heartland. Whether you’re new to experiential travel or are a seasoned jetsetter, we hope our latest issue In our and regular Lifestyle section, we delve into the art of barrel aging that’s taking the informs inspires you, where ever you’re headed.

cocktail world by storm, sip ice wine in time for the festive season, and meet New Orleans’ culinary Safe travels.prodigy. Foodies will also love our tips on the best bites in Mexico City and our cinnamon-spiced travel experiences in Food Adventures, while we’re sure motorheads will be captivated by the new BMW i8 hybrid in our regular Auto section. Nick Walton


Managing Editor

Whether you’re travelling this festive season or staying home to enjoy the time with family and friends, we hope JETSETTER continues to inspire the traveller inside all of you, and we wish you a very Merry Christmas, and look forward to heading somewhere exotic together in 2015.

Safe travels,

Nick Walton Managing Editor

Master of Wine Debra Meiburg is a celebrated wine journalist, TV personality, wine educator and in-demand speaker. With a serious tongue for wine, but a little tonguein-cheek, Debra is pleasing palates across Asia with her fresh take on the world of wine. In this issue, she argues the merits of diminutive bottles of vino.

Divia Harilela has been working in fashion and lifestyle media for over a decade and recently held the post of Fashion Editor at the South China Morning Post newspaper, where she remains a contributing editor. She has often been quoted as a leading authority on fashion in Asia, and can be found navigating the cobbled streets of Paris in her Rupert Sandersons or interviewing design luminaries such as Karl Lagerfeld, Giorgio Armani or John Galliano. In this issue she explores Tokyo for our regular The Guide section.

ART ARTDIRECTOR DIRECTOR Don Pierre Riosa Herbert Nunag TRAVELINDUSTRY INDUSTRY TRAVEL RELATIONSHIPDIRECTOR DIRECTOR RELATIONSHIP TammyFong Fong Tammy ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE BEIJING SALES VincentMANAGER: Sze Louis Chu BEIJING SALES MANAGER: SALES MANAGER Louis Chu Fatima Cameira SALES MANAGER FatimaisCameira JETSETTER registered as a newspaper & periodical. CHIEF REPRESENTATIVE JETSETTER is publishedEUROPE by James Channel Laurence One Communications JETSETTER is printed by Channel One Communications JETSETTER is registered as Suite 402-3, Hong Kong Trade Centre a newspaper & periodical. 161-167 Des Voeux Rd Central Hong Kong JETSETTER is published by Channel One Communications 616 Corporate Way, Suite 2-5706 Valley Cottage,isNY 10989by JETSETTER printed Channel OneUSA Communications Suite 402-3, Hong Kong Trade Centre 161-167 Des Voeux Rd Central Hong Kong All rights616 Reserved: Copyright and2-5706 distribution Corporate Way, Suite rights are reserved exclusively Channel One Valley Cottage, NYfor 10989 Communications, their partners, associates USA and affiliates. All materials published remain the property of the publisher. No part of this publication be reproduced without prior written permission. All information contained in this publication is from a reliable source. All rights Reserved: Copyright and distribution Channel One does not make any guarantees rights are reserved exclusively for Channel One to the accuracy of the information contained. Communications, their partners, associates and affiliates. All materials published remain the property of the publisher. No part of this publication may be reproduced without prior written permission. All information contained in this publication is from a reliable source. Channel One does not make any guarantees to the accuracy of the information contained.

When on assignment, JETSETTER’s editorial team use Nikon professional cameras.


WINTER 14/15


ROOM WITH A VIEW Saruni Samburu Safari Lodge


SPA PROFILE The Spa at Wynn Macau


24 Hours Lounging in Luang Prabang



Boutique & Beautiful Mio Miami


New Zealand Glampervanning Middle Earth


Cambodia The Lake of the Past & Present



62 94 62

Chengdu The Western Gateway


The Guide Copenhagen Cool


Food Adventures Ceylon’s Subtle Spice



Chef Profile New Orleans’ Ryan Prewitt


Spirits Secrets of the Barrel


Auto Plug & Play


WINTER 14/15



Berlin, Germany February 5 – 15, 2015

The Berlin International Film Festival, or Berlinale, is celebrating its 65th anniversary in 2015, and plans to beat its average of 300,000 annual attendants to celebrate. The ten-day event showcases over 400 international and European premieres, with a coveted 20 flicks going head to head for the prestigious Honorary Golden Bear award. With journalists and visitors attending from over 130 countries and the hottest celebrities in the film industry walking the red carpet, it’s no surprise that Berlinale is the largest public film festival in the world. Where to stay: The Dormero Hotel Brandenburger Hof Berlin is close to the stylish Kurfürstendamm district and blends traditional architecture with contemporary design. The high-ceilinged rooms and suites are decorated with colourful pieces of furniture and surrealist paintings by Ernst Fuchs.

Photo by: Dirk Michael Deckbar

HURLEY AUSTRALIAN OPEN OF SURFING Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia February 7 – 15, 2015

Catch the best of Australia's renowned beach and surf culture at the Hurley Australian Open of Surfing 2015. Over nine sunny days, the world’s best surfers will take the waves in a battle of technique and stunts as bystanders cheer on from the famous Many Beach shoreline. Vibrant shopping and sumptuous food and wine surround the event to entertain when guests are not partying to stellar music by the water. Where to stay: With a cool sea breeze and sunny seaside location, The Sebel Sydney Manly Beach hotel is only 100m away from the water. Eightythree rooms are dressed with contemporary furniture and luxurious amenities to give guests the ideal home-away-from-home feel.


Hong Kong

February 19 – 21, 2015

Celebrate Chinese New Year all over Hong Kong and ring in the Year of the Sheep with citywide festivities over three days. Engage in age-old traditions like hanging red lanterns, or visit Causeway Bay’s sprawling flower market, and kick start the Lunar New Year with the famous night parade on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront. Fireworks dazzle on the second night, but be sure to get a spot on Victoria Harbour early as it will get super crowded. Where to stay: Overlooking Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, and practically on Victoria Harbour, is the InterContinental Hong Kong. Spacious rooms and luxurious amenities are complemented by a first-class dining experience. Foodies should check out SPOON by world-renowned chef Alain Ducasse.



Guggenheim Museum, New York City, USA February 6 – May 3, 2015

New York City’s Guggenheim Museum will showcase the On Kawara – Silence exhibition over a three-month period as a tribute to the late Japanese conceptual artist. Drawing inspiration from personal milestones and significant historic events from 1966 onwards, On Kawara’s I Got Up series and selected paintings from the Today collection will be displayed amongst many other examples of his work. Curators Jeffrey Weiss and Anne Wheeler will also organise continuous live reading sessions of Kawara’s One Million Years, an epic that remarks on the movement of time. Where to stay: Capturing all the refinement of the Upper East Side is The Lowell New York, one of the city's most fashionable hotels with only 47 suites and 27 deluxe rooms. The hotel boasts wood-burning fireplaces and interiors by designer Michael Smith for the ultimate dose of luxury. Photo Courtesy of David Zwirner

WANDERLUST YOGA FESTIVAL Lake Taupo, New Zealand January 29 – February 1, 2015

The Wanderlust Yoga Festival in Taupo, New Zealand is the perfect four-day getaway to focus on self-improvement through exercise and meditation. Teachers from around the world offer classes throughout the day in a variety of yogic styles, and further endorse healthy living through lectures and meals prepared with organic produce. Outdoorsy activities like hiking and mountain biking are also available, and evening concerts by Xavier Rudd and DJ HyFi encourage a chilled-out atmosphere, making the Wanderlust Yoga Festival the best place to unwind. Where to stay: The Wanderlust Yoga Festival partners with the Wairakei Resort Taupo, a four-star establishment surrounded by nature and only minutes away from the famous Huka Falls. Enjoy geothermal hot tubs and the Body Firm spa for the ultimate relaxing atmosphere.

Mardi Gras

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA February 17, 2015

The Mardi Gras New Orleans carnival is a colourful, mad frenzy that dates back to 1699 and has evolved from the narrow streets of the French Quarter to a citywide party filled with music, masquerade balls, and all-round revelry. Watch massive parade floats drift through the streets, collect signature Mardi Gras beads thrown by costume-clad men and women, and dance the day and night away at New Orleans’ street party of the year. Where to stay: The Lookout Inn of New Orleans in Bywater has four whimsical suites named Elvis, Mardi Gras, Bollywood, and Mission, which are eclectically decorated with trinkets and bold patterns. The location is perfect for meeting locals in the surrounding restaurants.

Photo by: Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World


The Air up Here


ake up to stunning views of Mount Kenya and the Kalama Conservancy from the acclaimed Villa 5 (pictured), one of six at the Saruni Samburu safari camp in Northern Kenya. Located in the Northern Frontier District, Saruni Samburu is the only lodge in the Kalama Conservancy that nudges against the Samburu National Reserve, 81,000 hectares of untouched wilderness. Famed for its innovative eco-chic architecture and Italian cuisine, guests can while away the day in the camp’s infinity pool or spa, or capture the serenity of the savannah from their lavish, open-plan villas, which include indulgent master suites with views to die for.


22 JOURNEYS Delve into the culinary landscape of South Australia and Victoria with a new action-packed day trip from Air Adventure. The Great Wagyu Adventure departs from Melbourne’s Essendon Airport on an Outback Jet, arriving at the South Australian wine belt of Coonawarra an hour later. Here, guests are whisked to Wynns Estate for a behind-the-scenes tour before playing winemaker for real, blending their own bottle and creating a



personalised label. At the award-winning Mayura Station in Millicent, home of Wagyu in Australia, guests enjoy a three-course lunch, matched with Coonawarra wines and showcasing the diversity of local produce and the station’s own beef. Lunch includes the signature Brand 9+ cut, which retails at AU$250 (US$218) per kilogram. The return trip completes this memorable experience with a scenic orbit of the iconic Twelve Apostles along Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, with guests arriving back in Melbourne by 5pm. The tour is open to groups of six or more and is priced at AU$1,190 (US$1,040) per person.


Since the 1920’s, the two lovingly restored colonial gems have been oases for the well-travelled travelling to Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. With a range of luxury suites and poolside villas offering the utmost in privacy and comfort with your personal butler available to arrange private tours, intimate garden or temple dinners or just a fresh pot of coffee to start your day. For bookings, please call: T +855 23 981 888 or email to T +855 63 963 888 or email to


Beyond the Pale Delve into the heart of Central Asia on the new Cox & Kings 11-day Uncover Uzbekistan itinerary, departing from Tashkent. Get to the heart of this nation, one which has played host to waves of conquerors and nomads, with an itinerary that traces the famous Silk Road and visits the towering fortresses of Khiva and Bukhara. You'll explore the Islamic architecture of Samarkand, known as the “Rock Town," ride the express Sharq Train through the scenic countryside, spend days exploring the ancient Silk Road city of Bukhara, and visit Sharhrisabz, the birthplaces of Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur.

Master the Mush Try your hand at the art of mushing with a unique husky sledding trip in Finland this winter. There is nothing like whizzing through the fresh powder snow behind a pack of huskies performing at their peak. The threeday journey from Artisan Tours is part bonding, part husky training at the acclaimed Arctic Sled Dog Centre at Harriniva, home to over 400 dogs, as you head out on overnight safari trips through beautiful snow-laden forests and frozen lakes, spending your nights in wilderness cabins along the route. The Harriniva Husky Training Adventure is priced at GBP1,118 (US$1,749) per person, based on twin share, and includes flights from London, transfers, and accommodation on a half board basis.

Garden Party Delve behind the scenes of some of Venice's most historic enclaves with new tours from The Bauers Venezia, a collection of historic luxury Italian hotels. The luxury hotel group has launched exclusive tours to several of Venice's most enchanting private backyards, including the three-acre Villa F’s gardens, which are among Venice’s largest and are home to the city’s oldest Magnolia tree, and the backyard of the Palazzo Cappello Malipiero Barnabo property, arguably one of Venice’s best kept secrets. These unique, bespoke tours, on offer to guests at the group’s four hotels, open the doors to the glorious past of Venice and introduce visitors to the rooms of the privileged, the Venetian nobility, and a taste of 16th, 17th, and 18th century life.


Looking to the Heavens Stargazers and travellers looking for an excuse of cosmic proportions should be headed to the remote Faroe Islands. In March, the tiny islands in the heart of the Norwegian Sea will be one of only two places in the world from which the March 20 total solar eclipse will be visible from dry land (the other is Svalbard in Arctic Norway). A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun and blocks out the direct light of the sun. Next year’s eclipse will take place at 9.41am, and direct flights from London's Stansted airport have travellers bound for the islands on March 18 and returning on March 21. Faroe Islands Tourism has all the information you need on packages, transfers, and accommodation, but book well ahead for this once in a lifetime opportunity.

Fun with Food For a unique way to follow your taste buds through Perth, jump on the new Leederville Food Safari tours, which combine the best local Asian-fusion cuisine of the Leederville Strip with the fun and excitement of your own personal rickshaw driver. Available from Wednesdays to Sundays, the tour is a mini food odyssey, taking in starters at renowned Malaysian restaurant Ria Malay Kitchen, one of Perth’s perennial Asian favourites, with guests then hopping back aboard to travel to Kitsch Bar Asia for delicious mains, before concluding at Foam Coffee Bar for sweet treats and a late night tipple (after all, you’re not driving).

Down Under Tucker Tour Foodies will love the new Tasting Kangaroo Island tour on offer by Wilderness Tours. Start off in the main town of Kingscote for a tasting at Ferguson’s Lobster, home to some of Australia’s best seafood, and Cygnet Valley, home of the renowned “Island Pure” sheep dairy, producers of a smooth sheep’s milk yoghurt with a hint of Ligurian bee honey, as well as feta, kefalotiri, and the distinctive Kangaroo Island haloumi. In the small seaside hamlet of American River, situated on the shores of Eastern Cove and neighboured by Pelican Lagoon, you’ll tour Kangaroo Island Shellfish farms, famed for their Pacific oysters, and after a lunch that showcases local ingredients, visit the cellar doors of Dudley Wines, the Islander Estate vineyard, and Kangaroo Island Sprits for a short lesson on spirit fermentation. The one-day tour includes transfers and lunch.


Island Hopping SeaDream Yacht Club has kicked-off its Caribbean season, launching its most comprehensive collection of itineraries to date. Through April 19, 2015, the SeaDream twin mega-yachts will cruise the Caribbean’s most popular islands including St. Barts, Union Island, the Grenadines, and the British Virgin Islands. Passengers can enjoy the warm Caribbean waters with SeaDream’s complimentary water sports, which include snorkelling and paddleboarding, and a host of water toys including Laser Sailboats, Hobie Cat catamarans, kayaks, wakeboards, and water skis. Each voyage also highlights the region’s vibrant sightseeing, dining, and nightlife scenes, so there’s plenty to do off the water, too.

Going North The recent melting of the polar ice caps has opened parts of the remote Northwest Passage – usually frozen and inaccessible – and Crystal Cruises will become the first luxury cruise line to sail the route when it kicks-off its Arctic Circle voyage on August 16, 2016. The 32-day sailing aboard Crystal Serenity departs Seward, Alaska, and will call in at Kodiak, Dutch Harbour, Cambridge Bay, Sisimiut, Boston, Newport, and several other ports before reaching its final destination of New York. Along the way, check out the indigenous wildlife with polar bear viewings and whale-watching; be awed by nature while glacier cruising, hiking, climbing, and playing golf at the world’s northernmost nine-hole course; be immersed in local culture with traditional dancing and throat singing; and sample local delicacies.

Special Interests at Sea Luxury cruise line Avalon Waterways has announced additional ‘special interest’ departures to its 2015 lineup, offering guests niche, themed itineraries. Two of these will be offered on the company’s popular 13-day Blue Danube Discovery journey. The July 15 departure will feature the all-new Opera Cruise, with performances by four emerging stars from Canada’s Calgary Opera, along with opera-themed talks. The August 9 Author’s Cruise sailing will be accompanied by Patricia Shultz, author of 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, who will talk about writing and travelling. Other themed cruises on offer in 2015 include golf, beer tasting, wellness, jazz and classical music, wine appreciation, art, European history, Jewish heritage, and Christmas markets.


In Shackleton's Steps Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic will celebrate the centenary of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition with some exciting extras on its Winter 2015/2015 Journey to Antarctica: The White Continent and Antarctica, South Georgia, and The Falklands journeys. Passengers will learn about Shackleton’s ill-fated attempt to cross the continent on foot while taking to the ice on hiking, kayaking, and zodiac excursions with naturalists and historians who will bring the notorious journey to life. Since the season is dedicated to Shackleton’s expeditionary photographer, Frank Hurley, National Geographic photographers will accompany the cruises, helping shutterbugs take photos inspired by Hurley’s iconic images. Guests will also toast their adventures with Mackinlay’s Rare Old Highland Malt Whisky, which accompanied Shackleton’s 1907 Nimrod excursion.

Luxury in Indochina The waterways of Indochina will get a luxurious new addition for the 2016/2017 season when tour operator APT launches its new boutique rivership, the RV Samatha. Guests will revel in the opulence of the cruiser’s 30 stylish suites, each with panoramic or twin balconies, while feasting on sumptuous cuisine by APT’s Asia Ambassador, celebrity chef Luke Nguyen, in the locally-influenced main restaurant and eightseater private dining room. Other indulgent amenities include the sundeck with its swimming pool, the day spa, and the elegant lounge. On land, passengers will immerse themselves in local culture with APT’s Signature Experiences like touring Inwa by horse cart, exploring Bagan, and visiting the Shwedagon Pagoda.

Harbour City Home From 2015, Hong Kong’s avid travellers will have a new water-based getaway option when Voyager of the Seas, a cruise liner from the Royal Caribbean group, makes the Harbour City its home port. To celebrate its new digs, the luxurious liner will undergo a thorough revamp that will see the addition of exciting new amenities like the FlowRider surf simulator, deluxe state rooms, an outdoor movie screen, and specialty dining, as well as new entertainment offerings like Ice Odyssey - a figureskating show - Broadway-style dance performances, and full-scale musicals. Voyager of the Seas will sail nine routes through the region, covering 10 ports in five countries, including Japan, China, and Vietnam.


Capital Idea Set to welcome visiting politicians, diplomats, and dignitaries, The Lake Garden Nay Pyi Taw, the newest member of the MGallery Collection, has opened in Myanmar’s capital, combining lavish facilities and amenities with exquisite touches of cultural heritage. Only a five-minute drive from Myanmar International Convention Centre (MICC) and 20 minutes from Nay Pyi Taw International Airport, the hotel is perfectly suited to business and government travellers and lifts the bar on the city’s hospitality offerings. With just 165 rooms and suites, including two Presidential Suites, eight Executive Suites, and 30 Deluxe Suites, the hotel boasts guest rooms that are spacious and functional. In addition, the hotel features the best meeting spaces in the capital, including a conference room which can accommodate up to 250 delegates, six breakout meeting rooms for small-to-medium size functions, and two state-of-the-art boardrooms.

Down to Business Designed for both business travellers and holiday makers bound for the financial district of Gangnam, the new Shilla Stay Yeoksam, the first Shilla Stay hotel in the South Korean capital, features 306 stylish guest rooms and suites with captivating views over downtown Seoul. Designed by Italian architect Piero Lissoni, the creative mind behind the Taj Mahal Palace Suites in Mumbai and the Studio M Hotel in Singapore, the Shilla Stay features a minimalist feel that's complemented by cuttingedge technology and modern meeting spaces. Business travellers could be forgiven for missing morning meetings thanks to decadent Hungarian goose down comforters and Aveda amenities in the bathrooms, but will want to be early to breakfast gatherings at the Café restaurant, with menus inspired by the Parkside at The Shilla Seoul hotel. Additional Shilla Stay properties are planned for other districts throughout Seoul.

Style Icon Bringing a shot of cool to the Chinese capital, the W Beijing - Chang'an has opened on Chang'an Avenue, a major thoroughfare that houses many of Beijing's most important monuments and buildings, including Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, and the headquarters of the Central Bank of China. Located near major attractions like the National Museum of China, the National Centre for the Performing Arts, the Silk Market, and the Beijing Concert Hall, W Beijing - Chang'an lights up the district with a distinctive metropolitan vibe. The hotel boasts 349 stylish and spacious guestrooms and suites, featuring state-of-the-art fittings, including digital tablets that manipulate the room's lighting and mood, 48-inch LED TVs, and Bluetooth sound systems. Downstairs, the signature Living Room concept features a LED-lit catwalk in the middle of the room that leads to a circular bar counter, while X25, an exclusive lounge at the top of the hotel, offers a chilled-out atmosphere, where renowned DJs mix original beats and W Mixologists create handcrafted cocktails.


Out With the Old Replacing the once iconic Observatory Hotel, and fresh from a $30 million transformation, is the newly opened Langham Sydney, a luxurious and intimate new landmark nestled into Kent Street. With works by GA Designs, building specialists ICMG, and the Langham's own in-house team, the extensive renovation project has seen internationally designed spaces paired with eclectic interior furnishings, with every corner of this magnificent hotel being given a grand treatment. An art collection curated by Sotheby's, Afternoon Tea with Wedgwood, an immersive fine-dining concept at Sydney's newest offering, Kent Street Kitchen, an exclusive new day spa, and Sydney's largest lead-in guest rooms with signature terraces and balconies, ensure the hotel vaults the Sydney luxury benchmark and remains a destination within a destination. www.

Field of Dreams

Nippon Awakening

Named for the glorious fields which surround both it and the scenic Isar River, The Flushing Meadows, a member of Design Hotels, has opened in Munich. Boasting 16 rooms, including 11 loft studios individually designed by local creatives, the hotel was created by architects Sascha Arnold and Steffen Werner, who teamed up with gastronomy and marketing guru Neils Uäger to create both a haven and hotspot. The loft studios, the only loft rooms in the city, boast four-metre high ceilings, and the distinctive touch of their creators, which range from Austrian actress and singer Birgit Minichmayrto, musician Michi Beck, and pro surfer Quirin Rohleder. Three of the hotel’s five Penthouse Studios feature private terrace access, and all offer stunning views over the Munich cityscape or Bavarian Alps. Leave time for a tipple on the south-facing rooftop bar, the new home to sophistication in Munich.

Aman has opened its first property in the heart of the Japanese capital. Aman Tokyo occupies the top six floors of the recently built Otemachi Tower, offering travellers an urban sanctuary high above the atmospheric whirl of the city. Located in the financial district of Otemachi, Aman Tokyo features 84 rooms and suites, each with panoramic city views, as well as a peaceful inner garden, a serene Aman Spa, and an intimate swimming pool. Aman’s sixth property to be designed by Kerry Hill Architects, Aman Tokyo cleverly reveals itself through a series of unique design elements, blending perfectly a mix of traditional Japanese design with contemporary flair thanks to the use of classic Japanese materials such as camphor wood, washi paper, and stone. Foodies will love The Café by Aman, which specialises in Mediterranean-inspired fare featuring the hotel’s own signature sake, while The Restaurant by Aman serves gastronomic fine-dining based on Mediterranean cuisine with Japanese touches, with dishes matched with wines from a 1,200-label wine library.


ROOM TO BREATHE Taking its design cues from a futuristic nautical vision, Phuket’s newest luxury hideaway, Kata Rocks, is perched above its namesake beachfront, and offers visitors to the holiday island luxury and privacy in equal measures. Wreathed by tropical foliage, each of the resort’s 34 opulent one, two, three, and four-bedroom Sky Villas features its own private pool, expansive living and dining spaces, and in-room iPads that control lighting, temperature, music selection, and even room service. Look out for the resort’s Infinite Luxury Spa, with its seven unique treatment rooms and menu of indulgent Ila Spa treatments.

INTRODUCING 31 One of Singapore’s first boutique hotels, The Scarlett, has expanded to San Francisco with the US$15 million renovation of the city’s iconic 90-year old Huntington Hotel. Located atop Nob Hill, the new Scarlet Huntington boasts 134 rooms and suites, each of which offers contemporary luxury with touches of the heritage and

Paint the Town Red

culture of 15th century Chinese immigrants to modern day Malaysia and Singapore. Rooms and public spaces are dressed in the bold red hues of Huntington’s former exterior, with touches of gold and black lacquer, while decadent suites – including the one bedroom Passion Suite, with its four poster bed - feature a distinctive Chinese Straits aesthetic influence, complete with curated antiques. Elements of the Huntington have been retained, including the award-winning Nob Hill Spa, the hotel’s indoor infinity pool, and the Big 4 Restaurant, with its emphasis on locally-sourced ingredients from the Bay Area.


C L I F F TO P SECLUSION Perched above soaring sea cliffs, the luxurious Cape Weligama has opened on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, offering beach bunnies new levels of authentic local luxury. The second hotel by Resplendent Ceylon, owned by Dilmah Tea’s Fernando family, Cape Weligama is located just south of Galle Fort, and boasts 40 rooms and suites overlooking a bay famed for its seasonal whale watching. Dynamic designs by Thai architect Kek Bunnag, whose previous projects include the Four Seasons Langkawi, Maia Seychelles, and Malaysia’s Pangkor Laut, complement custom-made furnishings, ocean-facing bathrooms, and manicured gardens surrounding the resort’s villas and suites, which range from 130-300 sqm. The dramatic views continue at the cliff-edge Teppanyaki pavilion, at the signature alfresco Sri Lankan restaurant, and at the ocean view dining pavilion, complete with an authentic pola market where guests can select their own fresh seafood.


LUX I N LIJIANG With a traditional Chinese design and an initial offering of just ten guest rooms, Mauritius-based Lux Resorts & Hotels has opened an urban hideaway in the historic town of Lijiang, in China’s southwest Yunnan province. The tiny hotel, modelled on a traditional courtyard residence, is the first of a planned series that will follow the Tea Horse Road, an ancient tea trading route that leads to Tibet. After a day spent exploring the city’s thriving markets, return to elegant but simple guest rooms featuring traditional timber-framed Naxi architecture and courtyard views, and leave time for a visit to the signature restaurant, which showcases fusion Naxi cuisine, or to the resident tea house, home to some of the best locally produced Pu’er teas.



Finish Offering a distinctly luxurious reprieve from the gaming tables and world-class shows of Macau, The Spa at Wynn, located within the Wynn Macau, has unveiled a new look to its 14 spacious treatment rooms and its elegant wellness spaces. Featuring separate pre and post-treatment facilities for him and her, including sauna, steam suites, and whirlpools, the spa’s contemporary new look features a caramel and cream palette and the addition of limed oak woodwork, plush carpeting, and exquisite lanterns. Celebrate the spa’s new persona with another new addition, the indulgent signature 90-minute Silk & Cashmere Awakening ritual, a wellness journey that includes a purifying exfoliation and light massage using warm silk gloves, followed by a deeper full-body massage using warm lotus oil, a cashmere-infused silky body wrap, and finally, a rare and refined body cream application made from lotus flower extract and shea butter.


Channelling Your Qi

Belle of the Ball ‘Tis the season, so prep your skin for all those holiday parties by trying the new Tri-Radiant Boost by ESPA at The Ritz Carlton Hong Kong for that sexy pre-party glow. Using ESPA’s innovative TriSerum, a signature blend of turmeric root, balloon plant, and seaweed, the ritual enhances radiance, protects against premature aging, and increases collagen production. Arrive early to make use of the spa’s Stone Saunas and Aroma Steam Rooms, then begin the 110-minute session, which includes a body massage and a regenerating facial. There’ll be no hint of dry, itchy winter skin when you make your showstopping entrance. com

Seventh Heaven Nestled into the Westin Qingdao is the new Heavenly Spa, boasting six single spa treatment rooms and four couples suites, each equipped with deluxe bathtubs and specially designed massage beds. Ensconced in a serene atmosphere, guests will have their five senses soothed with the spa's signature aromatic essential oil, which also works to relieve muscular tension and stress. Sip on a complimentary tea and relax with the Renewal Ritual, a deeply moisturising treatment packed with essential antioxidants and vitamins that works to combat ageing; or let the Heavenly Spa Signature Massage work its magic as your muscles are worked over with a warm compress.

The ever-popular award-winning Spa at Cape Grace in Cape Town, South Africa, has unveiled a range of hydrotherapy and beauty treatments for the Spa’s new NeoQi Energy Cocoon that promise to pamper the mind, body, and soul. Designed to combat stress, energise the body, and rejuvenate the skin, the treatments include infra-red with steam, hydrotherapy baths, Thalasso therapy underwater massages, Vichy shower body detox, and vibrating sauna massages. Each treatment uses a holistic approach to promote the body’s energy flow, or ‘qi,’ and works to improve circulation and decrease muscle tension, all of which leave spagoers thoroughly relaxed.

Up in the Clouds Perched on the 55th floor of Marina Bay Sands Singapore is the award-winning Banyan Tree Spa, a wellness oasis now indulging spaophiles with 17 new and improved treatments. Celebrating the power of touch, these Asian-inspired therapies incorporate natural herbs, spices, and aromatic oils to provide guests with a premium spa experience. Opt for the enhanced Sweet Serenade treatment for deep relaxation with a refreshing almond tomato purifier, or the new Thai Classic Massage; or choose the 90-minute Absolute Lift treatment for the ultimate in man pampering with tailored body scrubs and massages.



CUPID As the Proposal Manager at the Fairmont Pacific Rim Vancouver, Kate Francois is very much clued into the city’s romantic side. She tells Gayatri Bhaumik about the best date night ideas and couple experiences in Vancouver.

We’re out for a romantic evening. Where to for a candle-lit dinner? Call me biased, but ORU [at Fairmont Pacific Rim] would be high on the list – there’s something romantic about dining against the backdrop of the waterfront and city lights. Other favourite spots would include L'Abattoir, a dark, cozy space with delicious French-meets-West Coast fare; Espana, an intimate room with amazing Spanish tapas and tiny candlelit tables; and of course, Chambar. Their new space is gorgeous – warm and romantic – and the menu never disappoints.

that really encourage you to interact, and get you out of your comfort zone or routine. Peak of Christmas on Grouse Mountain offers sleigh rides and romantic snowshoe and fondue packages during the holidays; The Dirty Apron hosts great cooking classes; while Raw Canvas in Yaletown is a tasting room and art studio where guests can choose canvases and paint while enjoying wine and tapas.

terrace, and take a dip in the Jacuzzi. The couples treatment room features a deep Japanese Ofuro tub overlooking the waterfront. Other top choices include Absolute Spa, which has two downtown locations, and the Eveline Charles Spa and Salon on South Granville.

Vancouver has some beautiful natural scenery. Where’s the best spot for a picnic for two?

In Vancouver, the possibilities are endless. Hiking is popular, with many trails just outside the city, including the Chief, the BCMC and Grouse Grind, and the Capilano Pacific Trail, but you can also go kayaking or paddle-boarding, skiing and snowboarding at Grouse Mountain, or outdoor ice-skating downtown.

There’s too many to choose just one!

Time for a nightcap. Which quiet, intimate bars would you recommend? Bacchus at the Wedgewood Hotel is definitely the first that comes to mind. Their lounge features live piano music and these fabulous cosy chairs you just sink into. If you’re lucky enough to snag one of the seats next to the fire, it really makes for a perfect end to your evening. Another is Clough Club in Gastown, which features great craft cocktails in an intimate space, and there’s often live music.

Any suggestion for a night out that doesn't involve dinner and drinks? I find that the best date nights are the ones

Quarry Rock in Deep Cove is great; you take a short hike along the Baden Powell trail to find it, and the views are spectacular. The VanDusen Gardens are great. It's not somewhere people think of right away, but the grounds are so beautiful in the spring and summer, and there are so many quiet spots to have a romantic picnic amongst the flowers and trees.

We’re looking for a little pampering. Where can we find the best couples spa treatments? Again, not to sound biased, but the Willow Stream Spa [at Fairmont Pacific Rim] is fantastic! You can relax together in the fireside lounge or on the day beds on the

We’re a pretty sporty couple. What are the best outdoor activities around?

Where are the best spots for a memorable proposal? This is something that differs for every couple, since to some, memorable might mean in public with a grand gesture, while to others, it’s an intimate, sentimental moment for two. But some of the most romantic ideas include proposing while overlooking the city from the top of Grouse Mountain; watching the sunset from English Bay; or cruising the waters around False Creek.


Open Sesame Starwood Preferred Guests, the loyalty program for Starwood Hotels & Resorts, has introduced the hospitality industry's first keyless entry system, SPG Keyless, which allows guests to use their smartphones as their room key. Powered by the SPG app, the system allows guests to skip the queues at the front desk, and go straight to their rooms, smoothing the check-in process. To access the service, guests register their phones through the SPG app, and opt-in to use SPG Keyless; the app is updated with the room number and Bluetooth key once the room is ready. The new system debuted at 10 hotels around the world, including Beijing, Hong Kong, New York, Los Angeles, and Doha, and Starwood plans to roll out SPG Keyless across the globe in the first quarter of 2015.

Sky-High Luxury Australia’s national airline, Qantas, has unveiled a luxurious new offering on its A330 aircraft in the form of new Business Suites. The new Suites were introduced in late December on domestic routes, and are being rolled out across international routes from January. Designed in collaboration with Marc Newson, the new Business Suites are the first to allow passengers to recline from take-off through landing, and feature fully-flat beds and direct aisle access for each seat in a 1-2-1 configuration. Developed with intelligent design and functionality as the guiding principles, the Suites incorporate the Vantage XL seat from Thompson Aero Seating, and offer plenty of space to eat and work, and copious storage. Suite customers will also enjoy the latest Panasonic eX3 entertainment system.

A Lounge Revived After several months of extensive renovations, Singapore Airlines has reopened its Silverkris lounge at Hong Kong International Airport. The 913sqm facility underwent a makeover so that it could be dressed with the same ‘home away from home’ concept as the airline’s Sydney lounge. The new lounge has dedicated seating for first and business class passengers, while The Gallery, a standalone seating area near the entrance, will showcase artwork by Hong Kong and Singaporean artists. The lounge also boasts three shower suites – each with a rain shower – and serves four meals each day, alongside a bar that serves premium wines, spirits, and cocktails. The lounge is open to Singapore Airlines' premium passengers and their Star Alliance equivalents.


Easy Riding Premium passengers flying out of London Heathrow Terminal Three on Delta Airlines now have access to private cars through Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Wing. The new initiative means that the US airline’s Business Elite passengers will be able to go from car to lounge in under ten minutes, making the airport process much smoother and faster for time-poor travellers. Passengers using the service will be met by Virgin Atlantic concierge staff, who will provide printed boarding passes and handle checked luggage, before whisking guests through fast-tracked security and on to the Virgin Atlantic Clubhouse lounge. The service has been made available through the transatlantic joint venture between Delta and Virgin, allowing Delta Business Elite passengers to experience the same service as Virgin’s Upper Class customers.

LAX Made Easy With Air New Zealand set to add three weekly services to its Auckland – Los Angeles route in summer 2015, passengers flying the airline and passing through LA will greatly benefit with the announcement that from December 3, 2014, New Zealand’s national carrier will operate from the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport. Moving to the recently refurbished terminal means that the airline’s passengers at LAX will have access to the Air New Zealand-managed Star Alliance Los Angeles lounge which opened just last year. While the lounge will be made available to the airline’s premium passengers, the move to the international terminal also means that passengers transitting through LA will be able to access the wider terminal, rather than being confined to the dedicated transit facility.

The Next Level German carrier Lufthansa has introduced its all-new Premium Economy cabins onboard all B747-8 aircraft ahead of schedule, giving travellers on a range of routes – including Bangalore, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Seoul, and Tokyo – a spate of new luxuries. Passengers flying in the new Premium Economy will have more luggage allowances – double that for Economy – access to the airline’s business lounges for a fee of 25 Euros; high-end amenity kits; meals served on china tableware; and seats featuring the airline’s extensive inflight entertainment program and power sockets. The Premium Economy cabins will also be rolled out across Lufthansa’s A380 fleet by the end of summer 2015. Economy passengers with qualifying bookings will be able to bid for upgrades to the new cabins.

40 24 HOURS

The UNESCO-listed Laotian city of Luang Prabang appears at first a little sleepy, but hidden beneath the surface is a rich cultural heritage and some unassuming culinary delights. By Gayatri Bhaumik



French toast with mango, or the breakfast


into the luxe Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao , a colonial-style

burrito. Th Chao Fa Ngum; +856 71 252

Once you’ve had your fill of history,


make a pit-stop at L’Elephant for what’s considered to be some of the best food in town, dished up in a restored 1960s colonial shophouse. Take your pick from the traditional Laotian menu, or the more creative French menu – liberally flavoured with local touches – both of which use organic produce grown in the restaurant’s own gardens. For local


retreat situated amidst lush, tranquil gardens and breathtaking views of the


surrounding mountains (read more about

Wander over to the garden-wreathed

Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao on p42). Make time for a poolside meal at the Phou Savanh restaurant, considered one

Royal Palace Museum. Built in 1904 and designed in a French Beaux-Arts style accented by traditional Laotian touches, the royal apartments have been carefully preserved, while other exhibits include religious objects, weapons, screens, and paintings – collected over centuries – that trace the turbulent history of the Lane Xang kingdom. Highlights here include the Laos crown jewels; the King’s Reception Rooms, which display murals depicting everyday life in the 1930s; and a garage holding the last king’s car collection, including

of the town’s finest. Phou Vao Road; +856 71 212 530;

9AM Head into town for breakfast at Joma

Bakery Café , an unfussy eatery that delivers a jump-start to your day. This hideaway serves a house-blend organic Lao Arabica coffee grown in the shady forests of the Bolaven Plateau in southern Laos, along with fresh pastries. A quarter of the café’s revenues go towards supporting grassroots charity initiatives focused on providing basic living needs, so order up a fresh coffee and try the oat

two 1960s-era Lincoln Continentals. Th Sisavangvong; +856 71 212 470; www.

flavour, try the Tom Hom Prak I Leud, a beef consommé with betel leaves, or the Laap Kai, chicken tartar cooked with herbs and salad. Vat Nong; +856 71 252 482;

3PM After lunch, explore Wat Xieng Thong – the Golden City Monastery – considered the most historically and architecturally significant of Luang Prabang’s temples. Founded in 1560 by King Setthathilat, the temple is located on an embankment

24 HOURS 41

above the Mekong River. With its low-sloping tiered roofs, detailed exterior decorations, and rich interiors, it’s no wonder the chapels that make up this complex are considered architectural gems. In 1887, gangs of the Chinese ‘Black Flag’ army sacked the town, but this temple – Laos’ highest Buddhist symbol – was (mostly) spared because the army’s leader, Deo Van Tri, had once studied here as a monk. Th Sakkarin; www.

4.30PM Spend the afternoon working for your supper the restaurant also offers full-day classes that include a market visit. Th Kingkitsalat; +856 71 213 128;

9PM Work off your meal with a quick zip through the sprawling Night Market, a collection of several hundred stalls that line Sisavangvong road each night. Independent vendors sell all manner of trinkets, ranging from Hmong embroidery and Laos silk scarves to opium pipes and Laotian coffee, so this is the perfect place to pick up some souvenirs. Should you need a snack, duck into one of the streetside vendors for a street food buffet washed down with a Beer Lao. Th Sisavangvong;

10PM Wind down with a nightcap at Icon Klub, a lively yet understated cocktail lounge set in a white colonial-era building. Board games and books of poetry and art are scattered around the bar, and it’s not uncommon to see would-be rhymers engage in a poetry slam. Order a mojito or a dirty martini and let the convivial atmosphere flow over you. Word to the wise: don’t ring the bell unless you really mean to buy a round for the whole bar. Ban Xiengmouane; +856 71 254 905; Clockwise from left: The pool at Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao; the main waterfall at Kuang Si; cocktails at Icon Klub; silk umbrellas at the night market.

at Tamarind, a chic restaurant on the banks of the Nam Khan river that’s made a name for itself with its own brand of modern Lao cuisine. You’ll pound a mortar and pestle and cook over open fires at one of Tamarind’s half-day cooking classes,

set in open-air pavilions with views of Wat Nong. You’ll learn to make jeow, the ubiquitous local dipping sauce, the house special - lemongrass stuffed with chicken and herbs - and several other dishes, before sitting down to dinner. For real gourmets,

8AM Splash into the day with a dip in the swimming holes at the Kuang Si Falls. The threetiered falls start at shallow pools atop a steep hillside that cascades into the main 60-metre fall. Visitors enter the park and pass through the bear sanctuary before following a trail of walkways and bridges that runs along the left bank of the falls.



Built as a mountain retreat for the Lao royal family, but never used, the luxurious hideaway of Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao in Luang Prabang still boasts a refined elegance inspired by Laos’ colonial history, finds Gayatri Bhaumik


’ve just arrived at the wood-heavy lobby of Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, and I’ve already surrendered my iPad and iPhone. Apparently the WiFi here can be tricky to set up on Apple devices, so during check-in, the smiling staff handle it while you sip an ice-cold hibiscus drink. And with that, I’ve encountered the precise attention to detail that ensures stays here are effortless and luxurious. There are just 34 suites at the hotel, all styled in a manner heavily influenced by Laos’ colonial heritage, but the Mountain Pool View Junior Suite is the most coveted, and it’s easy to see why. Light streams in through floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the hotel’s vegetation-fringed infinity pool and surrounding mountains;

the plush king-sized bed is draped in gauzy white mosquito nets and strewn with flowers; and heavy teak wood furniture underpins the sense of understated elegance. Returning from dinner each night, there are bedtime snacks of fresh madeleines, while around the bed, the mosquito nets have been let down for maximum effect. Dinner is an indulgent affair at the resort’s airy Phou Sawanh restaurant, which dishes up French-inspired cuisine laced with Lao flavours. Make sure to try the local tilapia fish, and for special occasions, book the romantic “500-Candle” dinner, held in the Unesco heritage gardens. Some may consider the breakfast menu somewhat sparse – because everything is made to order – but the restaurant really excels during the dinner service, making it one of Luang Prabang’s best eateries. Added extras are where La Résidence shines, so make use of them whether you’re relaxing in the resort or experiencing the town in true Belmond style. Duck into one of the traditional-style villas that make up the property’s Mekong Spa and indulge in treatments inspired by local herbal remedies; the Sip Sen is a soothing traditional dry massage that involves a

touch more contortion than your average massage, and you’ll be dressed in the spa’s pajama-style garments while being worked over. Outside the hotel, cruise the Mekong in style on La Résidence’s elegant teak barge. Fitted with a double bed and dining area, the barge drew not a little attention when we stop at the Pak O Caves, and we complete the morning's exploration with an extravagant multi-course lunch – served in impeccable style by our accompanying

butler – as we cruise back to the hotel. Luxurious without being ostentatious, Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao is a slice of attentive French flair in Luang Prabang. Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao, Phou Vao Road, Luang Prabang, Laos; +856 71 212 194;



M IAMI Stay close to the action with the coolest boutique hideaways in South Beach.

By Nick Walton

Mondrian South Beach For something a bit glitzy, head down to the Mondrian South Beach, located on the waterfront of Biscayne Bay. With all the heat and hype of its LA sibling, this beachfront beauty was designed by revolutionary Dutch architect Marcel Wanders and with its soaring lobby, floor-to-ceiling windows, and iconic ‘floating’ staircase is an ode to Sleeping Beauty’s Castle – or at least her Florida summer home. Set yourself up with a Bay-View One Bedroom Suite with Balcony, which features custom-designed furniture, crisp cotton linens, and bath products from MALIN+GOETZ to create a provocative yet luxurious ambience. Work up a sweat along South Beach with one of the hotel’s complimentary bicycles, or find inner peace with the Agua Spa’s signature Milk & Honey treatments, before sampling signature dishes like Branzino “ala Plancha” with charred lemon and Tuscan kale; tuna poke with avocado, ajiamarillo, and mango; and mini chili braised brisket or 48 hour pork belly tacos in The Restaurant, an American brasserie and sushi bar with alfresco dining.



The Raleigh South Beach A favourite of Anthony Bourdain and regarded as the ‘grande dame’ of the strip, The Raleigh blends homely comfort with world-class hospitality. Guest rooms and suites – do yourself a favour and opt for the spacious Esther Williams Suite, with its marble bathroom and dining table for six – boast chic vintage furniture and luxurious 400-thread count Egyptian linens, deep soak tubs with Ciel Spa products, and views of a pool once described by Life Magazine as “the most beautiful pool in America.” Downstairs, Restaurant Michael Schwartz serves up a contemporary American menu by its namesake James Beard award-winning chef, best enjoyed on the hotel’s Tiger Terrace, while the hotel’s Martini Bar has been a South Beach institution for the past 70 years, and the eight seats at its mahogany bar are some of the hottest in town.

SLS Hotel South Beach Onto the big hitter of the beach, the name-dropping SLS Hotel South Beach, the brainchild of a coalition of cool, from designer Philippe Starck and James Beard award-winning chef José Andrés to pop icon Lenny Kravitz. With plenty of input from hospitality stalwart and SBE founder Sam Nazarian, the SLS Hotel South Beach is a feast for the senses, with distinct Latin leanings and captivating precision. Guest rooms and suites channel the ghost of Madame de Pompadour with touches of old French aristocracy and modern decadence. Splurge on the Tower Penthouse; envisioned by Kravitz, the 1,000 sqft space boast ocean and Hyde Beach views, 47inch flatscreens, an oversized soak tub with Ciel Spa amenities, its own kitchen and wet bar, and a private rooftop terrace, ideal for those in-the-know exclusive gatherings. Downstairs, The Bazaar by José Andrés serves up sophisticated Spanishmeets-South Beach cuisine in an elegant indooroutdoor setting, while master sushi chef Katsuya Uechi unleashes his acclaimed culinary skills at Katsuya by Starck.

Special Promotional Section

Havens of

Holistic Wellness

Designed to enhance the rest and relaxation of their guests, Constance Hotels and Resorts has unveiled U Spa by Constance, a new wellness concept, across all six of its Indian Ocean properties. The Philosophy Specially developed to help guests achieve a blissful state of balance in body and mind, U Spa by Constance is a bespoke experience that concentrates on maximising wellness, enjoyment, and vitality. With the luxurious new wellness concept, guests can enjoy a new range of indulgent treatments, each inspired by the latest developments in the spa world, as well as an enticing range of natural U Spa products that pay tribute to the Indian Ocean. Overseen by corporate spa manager Dr. Chase Webber, the program ensures that each U Spa ritual looks at the person as a whole, creating a truly holistic wellness experience.

U Spa Classic Treatments A full complement of hedonistic treatments that soothe and pamper the skin and body

are available through the brand’s new spa program, including the U Spa Classic massages, facials, and body treatments. For a real treat, indulge in the Signature U Experience Massage, Facial, and Body Treatment, which leaves spagoers thoroughly relaxed and rejuvenated. A range of focused techniques are deployed by experienced therapists during treatments, each of which is specifically chosen to suit your body’s requirements on the day, and to help heal skin, ease muscles, and encourage blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, and the nervous system. Guests looking to address specific issues can also choose specialised massages that aid in relaxing, rejuvenating, detoxing, or recovering after sports. Each of the specially developed massages uses a different, targeted body oil from the U Spa product range. Fragrant scrubs and wraps give a taste of your tropical Indian Ocean

setting as they work to tone and repair the skin, but other internationally-inspired rituals, like the Balinese, Ayurvedic, or Swedish massages, draw from the best of the world’s wellness traditions. The exclusive Kids Spa menu, catering to young guests between six and 16, provide family bonding time over kidfriendly massages, facials, manicures, and pedicures.

U Spa Deluxe Treatments U Spa by Constance also incorporates luxurious specialist treatments from some of the best international spa brands around. The popular holistic face and body treatments by Shiseido, created to balance the Qi in the body, are available at Constance Belle Mare Place, Constance Ephelia, and Constance Lémuria. The Brice Nicham Collection of treatments combining medical chiropody

Special Promotional Section

with glamorous pedicures and manicures – and designed by the podiatrist to the stars – is available exclusively at Constance Le Prince Maurice, as are Sisley’s exotic phytoaromatic treatments which use effective topgrade essential oils and plant extracts and combine international aromatherapy and massage techniques. Guests of Constance Halaveli, in the Maldives, can also enjoy the lush range of expert anti-ageing treatments from Swiss cellular cosmetics experts Valmont.

U Spa Products Adding to the indulgent spa experiences is a series of innovative spa products that includes aromatherapy massage oils, body scrubs, and creams. These exclusive products have been developed for use in U Spa by Constance treatments, and can also

be taken home so that guests can extend the experience and results once their vacation is over. Inspired by the lush fruits and plants of the Indian Ocean, including ylang-ylang, vanilla, coconut, sweet orange, frangipane, and aloe vera, each product combines 100 percent natural botanical ingredients with scientific technology to create visible results.

U Spa Wellness Experience The holistic wellness experiences continue outside the spas with a range of fitness activities and specially-concocted cuisine. The U Spa program offers Bodyweight Training, Yoga, and Personal Training activities, held either outside in the fresh sea air, or inside one of the properties’ fully-equipped gyms. To nourish the body from inside, Constance’s ‘wellness cuisine’ concept provides healthy, innovative meals

that are irresistibly delicious. Marked by ‘W’ symbols on the menus, these dishes incorporate natural foods high in essential nutrients, beneficial omega fats, soluble fibers, and healthy proteins, and leave out added sugars and processed fats. With the ‘wellness cuisine’, you’ll feast on fresh fruit and vegetables, and delectable meat and seafood that’s flavourful, fresh, and prepared with healthy cooking methods.




A Maui campervan crosses the Mackenzie Basin in New Zealand's South Island.


Nick Walton discovers that New Zealand’s South Island is ideally suited for the slow travel approach of a luxury motorhome journey.



t’s a glorious and uncharacteristically warm winter morning as I make my way through the western suburbs of Christchurch, my eye on the line of snow-capped peaks in the distance. The sky throbs a vivid blue, the pasturelands of Canterbury on either side a dazzling patchwork of greens under a golden sun. Traffic is light, the open road inviting, and we’re off. Campervans – RVs, Winnabagos, motorhomes, call them what you will – are a very particular form of travel. Some destinations, like the US and Canada, the UK and Scotland, and Australia’s vast open spaces, are perfectly suited to homes

on wheels; for drivers unaccustomed to driving with a three-bedroom house on the back, these countries’ roads are forgiving, their beautiful rural scenery easily accessible. And then there is New Zealand, a destination that has forged its own mark among the ever-growing campervan community, with its long, well-maintained highways, its stunning landscapes, and its unrivaled motorhome infrastructure. Here you can take it slow, take your time, and soak in those precious moments of discovery. If God went on a campervan trip, this is where he would holiday. So it is that I’m showing off the land of my birth to my Malaysian in-laws from the surprising comfort of a Maui motorhome. I say surprising because I always associated

campervans with retirees enjoying their golden years in cramped trailer parks (New Zealand has more than 18,000 campervans owned domestically); with road trip films depicting one misfortune after another; and with Swedish backpackers content to sleep in the back of a combi-van so that they may travel for longer. But that’s all in the past, and our towering, super-efficient, deadeasy-to-operate Mercedes Benz Platinum River camper is the face of New Zealand’s motorhome future. Campervanning can trace its history back to the turn of last century, when, in 1910, the Pierce-Arrow company unveiled the Tourism Landau in New York. What would today be regarded as an early SUV, gave a new generation of travelling public the


flexibility to explore where they liked (a chauffeur drove, naturally), and to fold down the back seats and sleep when they felt like it. Suddenly, travellers weren’t bound by their proximity to a hotel, and the great open spaces of the US could be explored with ease. Race forward to 2014, and my adopted family and I continue our charge towards Mt Hutt in a much more modern fashion. Maui, a market leader in New Zealand’s competitive camper scene, has a fleet of modern vehicles that range from the two-person Ultima, with its outdoor barbeque, through to our six-person Platinum River, a purpose-built late model Mercedes motorhome complete with shower, toilet, kitchen, and more than enough room for in-laws and all. Despite its size, the motorhome is very easy to drive thanks to a smooth automatic transmission, GPS, and cruise control, and when we’re setting up home, it’s as simple as connecting a cable and flicking a switch, and we have electricity, gas, and running water at our disposal. New Zealand’s South Island is the most popular cruising ground for

Clockwise from left: Milford Sound's imposing Mitre Peak; a lush winter stream runs through Fiordland National Park; tourists cruise Milford Sound; a local farmer enjoys a moment of quiet; the Maui campers are both spacious and modern.


campervans, with its long, arrow-straight roads, otherworldly scenery, and network of both Department of Conservation and privately owned camp sites, all of which cater to these modern motorhomes. On our journey from Christchurch to Queenstown and Milford Sound we take the inland route, driving first towards the base of Mt Hutt and Mt Taylor, both peaks thick with fresh snow, before turning south and descending into the mesmerising Makenzie Basin. Here, we cross turquoise canals feeding the region’s many hydroelectric projects; the manmade hydro lakes of Ruataniwha, Benmore, and Aviemore are not only popular with water sports enthusiasts but are also regularly used in car commercials for their stunning mirror-like waters. We arrive at midday in the lakeside town of Tekapo under a startling midday sun that turns the town’s namesake lake a brilliant azure. There’s time for contemplation and plenty of photo posing at the iconic pint-sized Church of the Good Shepard on the water’s edge, the Southern Alps glowing in the distance, before we continue south, stopping for a lunch of fresh salmon sashimi at Mt Cook Alpine Salmon, one of the many fish farms on the lake’s fringe.

The skies are clear and blue, the hills that ring the Mackenzie Basin dappled with dazzling bronze under the winter sun as we climb through the Lindis Pass, one of New Zealand’s most beautiful stretches of road. Once again, it’s easy to stop and stretch our legs as we gaze down a valley dancing with golden tussock, falcons circling silent in the thermals above. The view is truly spectacular. With the smooth ride of the Maui motorhome and little traffic on the roads, we make good time as we cruise down the spine of the South Island, stopping at a farmer’s market in the lakeside town of Twizel for homemade lemon curd and locally-produced Manuka honey, and again at Peregrine Wines, one of the many worldclass cellar doors of Central Otago, a region famed for its pinot noirs. My mother-in-law is bright red after a few tastings as we cruise the banks of Lake Wakatipu, the jagged teeth of the Remarkables coated with snow in the distance, before descending into Queenstown, the all-year alpine wonderland of the South Island. The Top 10 Campervan Park, like campervan parks found throughout New

Zealand, is perfectly suited for motorhome travellers; powered sites are ample and easily booked online in advance, and the camp offers clean, modern, communal facilities if you don’t want to use those within your own campervan. If you’re more content ‘roughing it,’ these modern, self-sustainable motorhomes also allow for easy “freedom camping” throughout New Zealand, as they don’t require any additional facilities at the pre-designated sites, and don’t leave a trace afterwards. We’re a little less gung-ho as we dine under a canopy of stars outside our Maui, sipping a sublime Peregrine late harvest, before converting the two table-seating areas into comfortable double beds. The camp site is filled with modern motorhomes and visitors from New Zealand and beyond, but under the starry sky we’re all just travellers. The independence that comes with a modern motorhome comes is handy the next day when we journey south from Queenstown to the picturesque lakefront town of TeAnau, before delving into Fiordland National Park, bound for Milford Sound. Fiordland National Park is one of the South Island’s many natural treasures,

NEW ZEALAND 53 Clockwise from top left: a star filled night in Queenstown; wine resting and aging at Peregrine; Lake Tekapo at noon.

fact, half of its parking lot is reserved for motorhomes like ours, their temporary residents often hiking the famed Milford or Routeburn tracks within the park and returning to the comforts of a home on wheels. Milford is the best known of the sounds that line Fiordland’s western coast. Regarded by Rudyard Kipling as the eighth wonder of the world, this glacial valley reaches from the mountains to the often turbulent Tasman Sea and has become popular with cruise ships visiting during the summer months. We head out onto the calm waters with Jucy Cruizes (, a distinctly Kiwi operator that offers sightseeing cruises (as well as bus tours and scenic flights) on a modern catamaran. Despite the size of the vessel, we're utterly dwarfed by the steep mountains on both sides of the sound, including the iconic mile-high Mitre Peak. Waterfalls plummet from the cliffs on both sides of the sound as we stop to watch fur seals laze in the sun and a trio of Fiordland crested penguins playing in the shallows.

and a destination for travellers from across the globe. With an area of 12,500sqkm, the park is the largest of the 14 national parks in the country and sees hundreds of visitors each day, many of whom drive campervans so they can spend longer in the park. Despite the winter season, the sky above remains a glorious blue, the sunlight setting the native bush alight in emerald green as we cruise down State Highway 94, also known as the Milford Road, beneath ancient tree canopies, down the flanks of steep, glaciercarved valleys,and across vast plains of golden tussock. This is where many scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy were shot, and the scenery is as Middle Earth as you’ll

find anywhere in the world. We’re lucky, as we step from the camper and weave our way down a Department of Conservation path to the Mirror Lakes. Only the week before, this road had been closed due to heavy snow falls, and yet with the sun shimmering off the mirror-still waters, it could be summer among the totara and rimu trees as we’re serenaded by a native chorus of grey warblers, fantails, tui, bellbirds, and plump woodpigeons. After diving into the darkness that is the 1.2km Homer Tunnel – a passage cut through solid granite over a period of 20 years – we emerge above Milford Sound, its little port packed with tourist boats. In

We finish our cruise and make our way back to the Maui camper as the sunlight starts to ebb from the western sky, the mountains casting the valley in a premature shadow. It’s a long road back to Queenstown and the campsite, but therein lies the beauty of a modern motorhome in a country made for campervan travel: we can take our time, we can take it slow, and enjoy a few more precious moments in this glorious corner of the world.

Travel Essentials Getting There: Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific. com) has direct daily flights between Hong Kong and Auckland. Air New Zealand (airnz. offers direct flights from Auckland to Christchurch and Queenstown. Getting Around: Maui offers a variety of modern motorhomes for all budgets.


The Lake Of The


Nick Walton cruises Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake aboard the newly launched Aqua Mekong, a luxury river cruiser that promises to take well-heeled adventurers far from the tourist traps.


Aqua Mekong is the most modern and luxurious ship on the lake.


On this page: Oriental Darters congregate on trees in the protected Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary.

Opposite page, Clockwise from top left: local artisans finish oars for a ngo racing boat; a teen glides through the waters on a traditional longboat; family visits make the itinerary unique; chef David Thompson cooks up a storm.


t’s cocktail hour and in the dimly lit lounge, a bartender shakes up a storm as the last brushstrokes of day fade on the horizon. Darkness comes quickly on Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake, as if a giant vacuum has sucked up all the light, leaving only inky darkness punctuated by the bumblebee sounds of fishermen’s longtail boats as they head out on the night’s catch. It’s a breathtaking transition, enjoyed from a unique perspective; the beautifully-styled Aqua Mekong river cruiser, which launched mid-way through October, is by far the most luxurious way to experience Tonle Sap and the mighty Mekong River, two waterways that are vital to Indochina. Combining the chic décor and the personalised service of an inner city boutique hotel with the cultural immersion that comes with life on the water, Aqua Mekong heralds a new era in high-end tourism for one of Indochina’s least visited corners. It’s the first night of our four-night itinerary as we cruise from Siem Reap, across the ocean-like lake towards Phnom Penh, from where the ship continues on the Mekong into Vietnam. In the comfort of the ship’s intimate lounge, with its polished wood floors, floorto-ceiling windows, and bespoke furniture,

Cambodian and Vietnamese guides map out our itinerary east and south across the vast expanses of Tonle Sap. Outside, the anchor is raised and we begin to cruise into the darkness. Tonle Sap Lake is perfect for expeditionary cruising. A vast, dumbbell-shaped body of water, it’s a crucial ecosystem, and home to over a million people whose lives and livelihoods ebb and flow with the lake’s waters. During the wet season, when flood waters from the Himalayas expand Tonle Sap to 12,000 square kilometres, making it one of Asia’s largest freshwater lakes, its floating fishing communities move to the lake’s banks. During the dry season, when we visit, the lake shrinks to 2,500 square kilometres, its villages returning to deep water en mass, the flow of the Tonle Sap River reversing in a unique hydrodynamic phenomenon that can be seen from the ship. Unfortunately, this is an ecosystem under threat; it’s feared a series of large scale hydroelectric dams scheduled to open in Laos and northern Cambodia over the next decade will disrupt the finely tuned balance of the lake and the fisheries so fundamental to the people of Indochina.

Meaning Aqua Mekong, the newest vessel of Aqua Expeditions, the expeditionary cruising company owned by Italian-American Francesco Galli Zugaro, couldn’t have launched at a better time. Zugaro’s passion for expeditionary cruising was forged during years working with a cruise line in the Galapagos Islands, and Aqua Mekong joins his two South American ships, which ply the Peruvian Amazon. Many of my fellow guests, who number just 27, have cruised on the Aqua Aria or Aqua Amazon, and have eagerly awaited the new ship’s arrival on the Mekong. She is worth the wait. Designed by Saigonbased architect David Hodkinson and built in shipyards in Singapore, Aqua Mekong is the first five-star vessel on the Mekong, a river that’s increasingly sought after by intrepid travellers. Dressed in the natural tones of polished wood and locally-sourced fabrics, the Aqua Mekong is spacious, airy, and modern without being flashy, and is staffed by a superb crew led by hospitality genius and country manager Kim Loan Le. The ship's 20 Design Suites – eight of which feature private balconies – weigh in at a surprising 30 square metres and are minimalist yet welcoming, with plush twin day



beds wreathing French door-style windows, addictively good king-size beds, and walk-in rain showers. It’s also the little touches that go a long way, from the Nespresso coffee machine and built-in USB connectivity to the complimentary WiFi service and a triple-fold turndown service that makes coming back from excursions a dream. For the ultimate indulgence, interconnecting suites may be booked together to create private living rooms and multiple bedrooms. Despite its expeditionary credentials, modern touches extend throughout the Aqua Mekong, from the bar on the top deck, with its collection of small-batch rums and inventive evening cocktails, to the plunge pool perched above the bow, to the intimate day spa. A crew ratio of 1:1 and a menu created by Michelin-starred chef David Thompson, who regularly joins the ship, ensure this is no simple river meander. Early the next morning, we depart on the ship’s modern skiffs; the only ones of their kind on the lake, they are a signature of the Aqua experience and offer guests a chance to explore deep within this

CAMBODIA 59 Opposite page, Clockwise from left: a fresh face for Cambodia at a local school on Koh Oknha Tey; rangers guard the rare birds of the Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary; inquisitive local children outside Phnom Penh; a palm farmer in Kampong Chhnang. On this page: Aqua Mekong has its creature comforts, from an outdoor bar to a plunge pool.

Kampon Khleang, children and adults alike glide through mirror-like waters on traditional long boats, leaving lingering wakes that wash against homes perched on pontoons. We use GPS and line of sight to navigate the flooded forests surrounding Moat Kla, where excited children rush to doorways and wave frantically as we, among the first foreigners they’ve seen, cruise by. In tiny Koh Oknha Tey, we visit a local school and take turns to donate stationary supplies and sing with the children, and among the palm plantations of Kampong Chhnang, we watch Angkorian pottery respun and sip palm nectar in the shade. We also meet third generation silversmiths and learn the art of Khmer silk. It’s cultural immersion with creature comforts.

unique aquatic landscape. Loaded with cameras and Aqua water thermoses – one of many green initiatives created by the company – we cruise the flooded forests of the 31,282-hectare Prek Toal Bird Sanctuary, regarded as the single most important breeding ground in Southeast Asia for many threatened waterbird species. The Mercury engines of the skiffs run almost silently as we cruise through the flooded landscape in search of great egrets and Indian shags. Atop trees slowly dying from their guano, Oriental Darters parade before us, their outstretched wings drying in the sun, while squadrons of giant pelicans patrol above, their expansive wingspan allowing them to glide high above the flooded vista with ease. Under one large water-wreathed tree, we chat with three poachers-turned-rangers; the sanctuary is home to many endangered species, and hunters who once preyed on the migratory visitors now protect them, armed with rifles and radios, at 36 ranger stations. We cruise on, keeping one eye on the tree tops and another at their base in search of elusive Siamese crocodiles. The inclusive excursions, combined with the comforts of the most modern ship on Asia’s rivers, make Aqua Expeditions’ offering unique. In the tiny floating village of

Of course, it’s no hardship returning each evening to cocktail hour in the lounge and David Thompson’s stunning cuisine in the ship’s intimate dining room. Famed for being awarded the first ever Michelin star for a restaurant serving Southeast Asian cuisine, at Nahm in Bangkok, on Aqua Mekong, Thompson serves up delectable dishes as sharing platters, the daily changing menus laced with signature favourites, from river prawns with tamarind and palm sugar served on betel leaves, to sticky ribs, green papaya salad and fiery coconut laksa. Locally sourced ingredients, including Khmer Kampot black pepper, Mekong River catfish and prawns, and fruit from the markets of Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, ensure brilliant flavour combinations and insightful cuisine throughout our cruise, even if a few passengers had their palates – and spice tolerance – tested. And then, each evening, it’s back to the lounge or one of two outdoor decks, to watch fisherman lure their catch with green fluro bar lights that sway in the evening breeze, and to listen as silence cascades across the Great Lake once more. A four-night downriver itinerary is priced from US$4,000 per person, inclusive of all meals, selected beverages, transfers, excursions, and internet access.





The ancient trading city of Chengdu continues to welcome visitors from across the world as it preserves its rich past while navigating the fortunes of its future, discovers Nick Walton.

62 CHENGDU This page from top: Mr Xu shows off his latest batch; architecture at Kuan Zhai Alley; Chengdu is famous for its street food. Opposite page, Clockwise from left: The Shuijing Fan Museum Distillery; hawkers on Kuan Zhai Alley.


t’s a scene that’s changed little over the centuries. Sure, the little cafes and restaurants hidden behind the crumbling stonework of the city’s famed Kuan Zhai Alley are a touch more modern than they would have been during the Qing Dynasty, and now serve green tea lattes to iPhone-toting teens. But the warm hospitality of the hawker stand owners, the delicacy of locally-grown tea served in glass thimbles, and the aroma of spice on the air is the same as that which would have greeted Marco Polo when he visited the city during the reign of the Yuen Dynasty. One of the reasons that Chengdu is so perfect for a quick long weekend visit is the balance that the city maintains between its rich history and its dynamic present, even as it welcomes 238 of the Fortune 500 companies, earning the city the nickname 'the Silicone Valley of China.' Everywhere you go in this city of 12 million, there is a seamless transition between the past and the future, with malls and boutiques next to temples and ancient marketplaces. That balance is seen best at Kuan Zhai Alley, in the city centre. Formed by three alleys – the Wide Alley, the Narrow Alley, and the Jing Alley – this ancient trading hub once welcomed centuries of travellers journeying on the Silk Road. The three alleys are made up of weathered cobblestone streets with homes and stores on each side, many of which boast intimate Qing and Ming Dynasty-era courtyards and gardens beyond. Once a commune for Northern Chinese living in Chengdu, the architecture of the district is more reminiscent of Beijing’s Hutong than traditional Sichuan, and has been beautifully preserved thanks to extensive renovations in 2008. Kuan Zhai Alley is now a hub for tourists and young people who pack the coffee shops and restaurants built around the courtyards, and snack at the traditional food stalls on the main alleyways. It’s a fascinating scene; in one corner, a wizened old man in a fur hat hand rolls thick cigars the colour of molasses, plumes of smoke rising into the chilly air above his stall. Between the stacks of cellophane wrapped cigars are lines of long, slender, and beautifully carved pipes in a style popular in


China’s northwest. Yet across the narrow pathway is a Starbucks, nestled into a traditional merchant's home, complete with alfresco courtyard and signature green umbrellas. Protective guard gods glare out from the ornately painted doors facing the ancient alley, but do little to deter crowds at the food stalls, which are haloed with steam. You can eat almost anything in the three alleys, from roasted rabbit’s head and deep fried squid to strawberries dipped in sugar and pork steamed in bamboo. Cups of dandan noodles are handed out from bustling kitchens, and beef and pork skewers doused in glossy red chili oil are grilled and served to the intrepid – this is Sichuan after all, a Unesco City of Gastronomy. You can learn about another traditional taste bud challenge at the nearby Shuijing Fang Museum ( Built on the site of the first distillery in China, and said to be the oldest in the world, fiery Chinese baijiu has been made here since the 1400s. Rediscovered by construction workers in 1998, the original distillery still pumps out white spirit in the traditional style, now as a working museum, and visitors can tour above the coveted yellow clay pits where the grains continue to ferment, as they have for 600 years. In a damp adjacent warehouse, head distiller Mr Xu watches his staff as they pack a large barrel with the fermented grains, before heaving a wooden lid on top by hand. The museum's token production is just a drop in the bucket of the distillery's


of-the-art factory nearby, which makes 10 percent of China's baijiu, but it's fascinating to watch the baijiu process preserved. Our guide, Blair, (the new St Regis Chengdu offers behind the scenes tours of the distillery - read more about the hotel on p66) leads us down to the distillery floor where the air is thick with the smell of wet grain and a touch of sweetness from the fermentation. As the water in the condenser captures the steam from the barrel, the resulting alcohol pours from a tiny tap at the base, a distiller carefully watching the bubbles that indicate the spirit quality. “The taste should be sweet and strong and mellow,” says Mr Xu as he passes out thimbles of the 70 percent liquor. It is sweet, surprisingly so, and much more complex than a grappa or aquavit. “You’re tasting tradition and heritage,” he says with a wink as workers use traditional thatch wheelbarrows to begin loading another huge barrel. A tour of the museum is fascinating for drinkers and non-drinkers alike. A beautiful model of the area in ancient Chengdu, where the first baijiu inns were built, tells of a trade at the heart of the Silk Road

migration, and a gallery at the end – after another voluntary tasting of baijiu’s three quality levels – boasts breathtakingly beautiful bottles that show presentation is as important in this ancient trade as the spirit itself. Countering recent antigraft restrictions on giving luxury spirits as a gift, the company has focused on its most premium products. With bottles priced as high as US$3,000 each, these products are aimed at an increasing number of connoisseurs and collectors across China. Of course, there is one word that everyone associates Chengdu with, and that's pandas. We set out early the next morning, bound for the Chengdu Research Base for Giant Panda Breeding ( to see these international celebrities in the flesh. With less than 2,000 giant pandas left in the world, these government-run breeding and research centres (there are two in Sichuan) are vital to the survival of the world’s most lovable bear species. The expansive centre sees thousands of visitors a day, so it's wise to arrive when the park opens at 7.30am to see the pandas when they’re most active. We’ve reserved a place, well ahead of time, on the park’s one-on-one panda

experience, which not only offers access to the pathways which wind their way around the spacious panda enclosures, but also allows us to dress up in surgical scrubs and gloves for a brilliant close encounter with one of the year-old panda cubs. The size of a tubby ten year-old, Mun Mun, or dreamer, is much too focused on the honey smeared on her paws to take notice as each of the saucer-eyed visitors in our little group takes a seat next to her for a photo and a stroke of her coarse, waterproof fur. It’s a truly mesmerising experience, and the RMB2,000 ticket price goes directly to the centre’s research and breeding efforts. Outside Mun Mun’s enclosure, a clutch of mischievous pups play and roll in the grass while researchers film them. Chengdu is famous for its overcast weather, so the researchers are making the most of the sunny morning to capture the pandas in action at their most adorable. Pandas have lived in the mountains surrounding Chengdu for more than 4,000 years, and are now the icon of the city on its Can Do, Chengdu billboards across Asia, promoting investment in the IT sector. It’s a fitting, and utterly loveable, marriage of the past and the future, in a city that seems comfortable existing in two separate times.



NEW TRADITIONS The newly opened St Regis Chengdu brings new levels of luxury and sophistication to one of China’s most historic cities, discovers Nick Walton.


Opposite page: The St Regis Chengdu boasts the best Presidential Suite in town. This page: The hotel's Iridium Spa is one of the most cutting-edge wellness havens in Asia.


ith its distinctly old world charm, combined with cutting-edge technology and unrivaled service levels, the new St Regis Chengdu is a fitting addition to this ancient city’s hospitality offerings. Part of China’s portion of the Silk Road, Chengdu has been welcoming travellers for centuries, and its newest indulgent house of slumber sets a new benchmark for high-end leisure and corporate travellers bound for the gateway to the West. Known as the Silicon Valley of China and home to more than 250 Fortune 500 companies, including Apple, Motorola, IBM, Coca Cola, and Toyota, Chengdu is no stranger to corporate travellers, while its panda breeding facilities and stunning mountain landscapes welcome millions of domestic and international holiday makers each year. The St Regis experience begins at Chengdu’s Shuangliu International Airport, one of the world’s busiest. The hotel’s dedicated arrivals team meets inbound guests, escorting them to luxury hotel sedans that whisk them away on the 30-minute ride into the city centre and the

St Regis hotel, located at the heart of the city’s financial belt, just steps away from Tianfu Square and Chun Xi Road. Opening exactly 110 years after the first St Regis launched in New York, the new Chengdu hotel not only exemplifies the luxurious virtues of the Big Apple original, but redefines them for the modern China market. Its vaulted yet intimate Art Decoinspired lobby by interior designers DiLeonardo Design is a far cry from the crowded entrances of mainstream luxury hotels in China’s largest cities; dedicated butlers – a signature St Regis amenity that’s well received in the Middle Kingdom - is on hand to escort guests to one of 279 elegantly-appointed guest rooms and suites, for an in-room check-in. These well-trained butlers also offer packing and unpacking services, act as extensions of the concierge, and provide pressing, turn-down, and tea services. The butler’s insider knowledge proves indispensable when it comes to navigating our sublime St Regis Suite, one of eight room categories. The suite features floorto-ceiling windows that bathe an expansive living room and dining table for six in natural

68 HOTEL REVIEW light. Beyond is a master bedroom with a king-size bed by Simmons, and a large leather-topped work desk that doubles as a dresser. The master bathroom – there is another off the vestibule – features a soak tub with television, double vanities in Italian marble, Remède bath amenities, and a cavernous rain shower, while a walk-in dressing room is hidden away down a short corridor. It’s the attention to detail that will stand out; the bedhead is faux leather the colour of dark chocolate, the woodwork through the suite ranging from maple to espresso. A minibar and coffee machine are hidden away in a stylish Oriental-style hutch beside a glossy dining table and lounges in pale gold, and all the electronics in the room, from the 46-inch LCD television to the Bose surround sound system, are controlled by an iPad mini in a leather case. With dual entrances and plenty of space, the suite is as perfectly suited for intimate meetings as it is for a couple’s weekend escape. The hotel’s split personality continues to

its six distinctive restaurants. In Unesco’s first City of Gastronomy in Asia, food is a religion and the St Regis has a little something for every diner, from the all-day international dining of the Kokai Studiosdesigned Social, with its live cooking stations and indulgent, lingering breakfasts, to the extensive wine collection of Decanter, the glass-lined private dining room which is a popular spot with local oenophiles. Yan Ting is a specialty Chinese restaurant with a menu laced with Cantonese and Sichuan signature dishes, while the intimate Drawing Room in the lobby is home to the hotel’s signatures, a decadent afternoon tea featuring a champagne sabering ritual, and the Chuan Mary, a spicy, Sichuan peppercorn-laced local rendition of the St Regis classic cocktail. On the hotel’s upper levels, Yun Fu boasts four expansive private dining suites, complete with electronic mahjong tables, spacious living areas, and beautifully inlaid dining tables, while Vantage XXVII, an outdoor rooftop cocktail bar on the 27th floor, remains the place to be seen by Chengdu's social set.

The St Regis’ all-weather potential extends to its many outdoor facilities, from the spa’s outdoor relaxation lounge and the alfresco dining terraces, to the expansive pool deck; the St Regis is the only hotel in town to offer both an outdoor swimming pool and an indoor heated pool, ideal amenities in a city where temperatures fluctuate greatly through the year. The indulgent indoor pool, with its adjacent oversized Jacuzzi and St Regis Athletic Club fitness centre, is complemented by one of China’s most advanced day spas. The new Iridium Spa is a sumptuous urban oasis designed by acclaimed Austrian agency Schletterer that boasts nine treatment rooms – including five signature sky loft-style spaces with cocoon suites - and a menu of holistic wellness journeys punctuated with local ingredients, including the famed organic tea that has drawn travellers to the city for centuries.

St Regis Chengdu; No. 99, Tidu Street, Chengdu, China; Tel: +86 28 6287 6666;

Above: The Decanter wine bar serves fine wines in exclusive surrounds.


Above 6, New York, USA Rub shoulders with the Big Apple’s leading lights at Above 6. One of the newest rooftop bars in the Big Apple, it's a beautifully understated venue perched atop the 6 Columbus hotel overlooking trendy Columbus Circle. One of midtown’s hottest cocktail corners, the bar combines the intimacy of an outdoor fireplace with the staggering vistas of New York by twilight. The cocktail list ensures it’s summer all year round with fresh, refreshing concoctions like the cava-laced Hummingbird remaining firm favourites with the elegant set who call this posh patio their second home. If you’re looking to dine, be sure to book well in advance for a coveted spot at the Blue Ribbon Sushi Bar & Grill which shares the terrace.


Why hide away in a stuffy underground cocktail bar when you can strut your stuff at the world’s coolest rooftop bars? Here are a few of our favorites. By Nick Walton


Radio Rooftop Bar & Restaurant, London, UK It might be a bit chilly at this time of year, but come the northern summer and the Radio Rooftop will be the place to be seen in Merry Old London Town. Located on the 10th floor of London’s newest five-star hotel, Radio Rooftop (named for the first BBC transmission towers which once stood on the site) already has a loyal following among the city’s movers and shakers, who love to rise above the chaos of the capital at rush hour and relax with innovative and unashamedly modern cocktails and stunning panoramas. Book ahead for one of the coveted couch settings, and if you do go when the city’s still chilly, you can warm yourself under an army of modern space heaters, which make the terrace an all-year affair.

Sirocco, Bangkok, Thailand Asia’s City of Angels has a reputation for its impressive rooftop bars, and foremost among them is the Sky Bar at Sirocco, the world’s highest, truly alfresco restaurant, and one of Bangkok’s sexiest spots. Featured as a shoot location in the film The Hangover II, this lofty perch offers 270-degree views of the Chao Phraya River and the cityscape, and serves up the city’s hottest cocktails — including the Mango Tickle, with fresh mango, Belvedere IX and lavender — complemented by live jazz performances. Keep a sharp eye on the crowd as this remains one of the city’s top venues for celeb spotting.

Ozone, Hong Kong Only one watering hotel can claim to be the tallest hotel bar in the world, and that is Ozone at the Ritz Carlton Hong Kong, a super sexy space perched atop the ICC tower, the city’s tallest building. Boasting unrivaled views of the city and its famed Victoria Harbour, the bar has three parts: there’s a spacious lounge with spinning DJs on the decks and a list of addictive cocktails; an informal dining room that serves pan-Asian snacks and jet-fresh sashimi; and a semi-open terrace – we’re on the 118th floor, remember – that boasts a series of coveted couches and staggering vistas down to Hong Kong Island’s skyscrapers.

Aer, Mumbai, India


One of the most mesmerising rooftop bars in the world, Aer offers sensational cocktails and sultry sunsets in equal measure. If you want to get a sense of place when visiting India’s commercial capital, then ascend to the top of the Four Seasons hotel and its 34th floor open-air cocktail divan, a stunning spot from which to capture Mumbai’s captivating sunsets and views of the city’s most esteemed landmarks, from the Haij Ali mosque to the colonialera racetrack to Elephanta Island. Expect a distinctly modern cocktail menu that complements designs by Bob Bilkey, Ritu Nanda, and Elsie Nanji, and furniture by Ross Lovegrove. If you don’t fill up drinking in the view and the exotic cocktails on offer, sample from a menu laced with crowd pleasers like goat cheese and pistachio truffles, and ginger and prawn dumplings.

Sir Elly's Terrace, Shanghai, China The most exclusive rooftop hideaway on the Bund, the U-shaped Sir Elly’s Terrace, atop the Peninsula Shanghai, offers mesmerising views of the Pudong skyline and the ever-busy Huangpu River. The bar offers a menu of gourmet snacks, a host of rare whiskies and wines, as well as a cocktail list laced with innovative signature drinks – the La Vie en Rose features gin, plum liquor, lychee liquor, and white peach purée, the perfect accompaniment to smooth tracks spun by resident DJ Jasmine Li.

Unique, Bali, Indonesia Created by the designers of the awardwinning Rock Bar at sister resort Ayana, Unique Rooftop Bar & Restaurant, at the new Rimba Jimbaran, offers Bali-bound travellers dramatic 360-degree views of the Uluwatu Hills and the Indian Ocean. The chic pool club turns into one of Bali’s most coveted nightspots as the sun dips in the sky and the beautiful people come out to play. Take a dip in the 25m infinity pool, before dining on Asian comfort food, from whole scampi tail and Thai duck curry to Korean Spiced chicken lollipops.



Once an industrial stronghold of factories, wholesale markets, and warehouses, Chicago’s West Loop is undergoing a slow renaissance as it becomes one of the hottest destinations in the Windy City. By Gayatri Bhaumik

nce known for its deep-dish pizza and the Michael Jordan-era Bulls, Chicago is quickly becoming a destination for serious creatives and foodies, who are flocking to the city’s emerging West Loop neighbourhood. While retaining remnants of its gritty working class persona, the neighbourhood’s gentrification can be seen in the sleek restaurants and sexy bars that now line Randolph Street. Proving itself the Midwest’s hotspot du jour, tech firms like Google and Twitter have joined Harpo Studios, longtime headquarters for Oprah Winfrey, in West Loop, while the district’s art credentials are presented in the form of Union Park’s annual Pitchfork Music Festival, a showcase of up-and-coming indie bands, and the Chicago Loop Alliance’s Activate program, which hosts creative art and music experiences in unique, underutilised spaces across the enclave.

THE NEIGHBOURHOOD 73 Leading the creative charge is the Chicago Artists Coalition. Founded in 1974, the CAC is a major player in the city’s arts community, leading efforts in artist advocacy and support, and providing professional development and residency initiatives. Operating out of a historic building on North Carpenter Street since 2011, the CAC features a lofty gallery, artist residency studios, and exhibition spaces which regularly hold compelling exhibitions and installations, including Vagabunda, a recent show by interdisciplinary artist Rashayla Marie Brown that explored concepts of privilege, migration, and the search for power and freedom.

217 North Carpenter St; +312 491 8888; A well-mixed tipple is the perfect prelude – or epilogue – to an artsy night out, and while West Loop is teeming with bars, lounges, and champagne salons, few have the unfussy elegance of the Lone Wolf. Simplicity is at the heart of this howling success, where glass block windows, rounded leather booths, and a dark, broody atmosphere complement a short, sharp cocktail list by Stephen Cole of Barrelhouse Flat. Your choices are three

sgroppino (Venetian-originated cocktails), four signature cocktails, a curated wine collection, and a carefully crafted selection of draft and bottled beer. Try Cole’s perfectlybalanced Giralamo Sour, a concoction of Luxardo Amaro Abano and Luxardo Bitters rounded out with lemon juice and simple syrup, and finished with egg white; or for something simpler, order up one of the Three Floyds beers on tap. 806 West Randolph

St; +312 600 9391; www.lonewolftavern. com Lone Wolf is also the perfect spot for an aperitif while you endure the inevitable wait for a table at the nearby Au Cheval. Picture the classic American diner dressed in dark wood and rich leather banquettes and you have this high-end spin on classic Americana. The brainchild of homegrown restaurant whiz Brendan Sodikoff, Au Cheval is often reverently spoken of as having the best burger in America. Some might say this is a tall order, but the eatery is certainly doing its best to meet expectations. The short menu looks deceptively simple, as befits a diner, but features a 32-ounce pork porterhouse with foie gras and roasted apples; and a crowd favourite, a “single cheeseburger,” which comes with two perfectly grilled patties topped with expertly melted cheese - say yes when the waiter asks if you want a fried egg and bacon – and bookended by soft, fluffy buns. Wash it down with a selection from ‘light,’ ‘full,’ ‘specialty,’ or ‘rich’ beers, and your taste buds will be in seventh heaven. 800 West Randolph St;

+312 929 4580; www.auchevalchicago. com

Left: View of West Randolph Street and River Center. Credit Seth Anderson Top: Sample 'America's best burger' at Au Cheval. Bottom: An Activate event by the Chicago Loop Alliance.

The West Loop’s restaurant scene wouldn’t be complete without Next, a Grant Achatzrun eatery where a sleek minimalist aesthetic and neutral colour palette offset nods to the neighbourhood’s industrial roots. Like going to the theatre, the only way to gain admittance here is to buy tickets for specified dates in advance. Meals here are a damningly indulgent, multi-course, themed extravaganza, where diners put their trust in the chef for a lingering meal that could go up to 20 courses. Themes, which have included ‘Paris 1906’, ‘elBulli’ and ‘Chicago Steakhouse’, change three times a year.

953 West Fulton Market; +312 226 0858;




Founded in the 10th century as a Viking fishing village, Copenhagen became the Danish capital in the 15th century, cementing its status as a regional centre. Gayatri Bhaumik goes north to explore a city where cutting-edge design meets living history with a healthy dash of Scandinavian nonchalance.


76 THE GUIDE SLEEP Scandinavians are known for their slick, minimalist designs, and while from outside Hotel Skt. Petri (Krystalgade 22; +45 3345 9100;, a Design Hotels property, looks like an unassuming industrial block, inside it’s a cocoon of Danish cool. Expect clean lines, smooth curves, and quirky light fixtures on a white background, with Danish artist Per Arnoldi’s signature cool blues and vivid reds enlivening the 268 rooms and suites. This former 1930s department store, a favourite of visiting stars like Pharrell Williams, is hot property, so check into the Star Suite – a fully-loaded penthouse with a cozy sitting area, wraparound balcony, and jacuzzi - and leave time for Restaurant Petri’s sumptuous buffet breakfast or a tipple at Bar Rouge. The ideal pied-à-terre for boardroombrawling visitors, the Radisson Blu




(Amager Boulevard 70; +45 3396 5000; sits just outside the city centre, and at the heart of its business district. One of the tallest buildings around, the hotel boasts 455 well-appointed rooms that meld modern minimalist aesthetics with natural elements. Gourmet travellers will enjoy international cuisine at the property's three restaurants - European at Mamas & Papas; Japanese at Restaurant Kyoto; and Thai at The Blue Elephant - while punters can roll the dice at Casino Copenhagen, the city’s only gambling den. Edging into Tivoli, the fantastical gardens and amusement park that inspired Disneyland, is the Moorish-style palace that is Nimb Hotel (Bernstorffsgade 5; +45 8870 0000;, a sexy, intimate hotel of just 17 individually-designed suites. In each, you’ll find antique furnishings, Geismar linens, Bang & Olufsen technology, and luxury AESOP bath products – most also have open fireplaces. Settle into the Executive Suite, which boasts 133sqm of unfettered luxury, including a separate bedroom and dining area, a sunken lounge, and a private balcony with unique views over Tivoli. Guests are also spoilt with a host of bars and restaurants, including Terasse, Tivoli’s oldest restaurant, the ever-popular Bar'n'Grill, and Vinotek, the understatedly chic wine bar.

EAT Noma might be the hottest eatery in town

Top: The bar at Kødbyens Fiskebar. Bottom: The design-savvy lobby at Hotel Skt. Petri.

since being ranked ‘world’s best restaurant,’ but skip the months-long waiting list and book a table at the Bib Gourmand-awarded Kødbyens Fiskebar (Flæsketorvet 100; +45 3215 5656; www.fiskebaren. dk). The hip, industrial-esque restaurant in Copenhagen’s meatpacking district is the brainchild of ex-Noma sommelier Anders Selmer, and serves up seriously fresh seafood and fine wines in a space that’s all concrete floors and tiled walls, with a 1,000-litre aquarium as the eyecatching centrepiece. Quality, sustainable ingredients from local producers is the focus here, so order up a serve of oysters from the raw bar, and the Limfjorden mussels steamed in apple cider and garnished with herbs. There are several outposts around the city, but Madklubben Bistro-de-Luxe

(Store Kongensgade 66;+45 3332 3234;, in the heart of the city, is the original. This unfussy restaurant features seasonal menus boasting dishes inspired by the Danish kitchen and bursting with fresh, local ingredients. Highlights include fried langoustines with cauliflower and lobster soup; deconstructed apple pie; and The Irresistible, coffee spiked with 23-year-old Ron Zacapa rum served with petit fours.

Schønnemann Opened in 1877, (Hauser Plads 16; +45 3312 0785; www. is one of Copenhagen’s oldest eateries, and the rustic restaurant still features original wooden ceiling beams, tall oak panels, fustian-upholstered seating, and sand on the basement floor. Once a favourite with local farmers, politicians and high-rolling

78 THE GUIDE statue; the Opera House; Christiansborg Slot and Amalienborg Slot, the two royal castles currently in use; the Old Stock Exchange; the Royal Danish Playhouse, Our Saviour’s Church; and the National Museum of Denmark, amongst other sights of interest.

Left: One of Copenhagen's fashion-forward clothing boutiques. Right: The brooding Rosenborg Slot.

businessmen now flock here to indulge in an extensive menu that includes everything from herring and chicken to eel and tartar, although smørrebrød – the traditional Danish open-face sandwich – is the house special. The restaurant is lunch-only, so book ahead for a lingering meal, and finish with a chilled shot of one of the 130 schnapps and aquavits on offer.

PLAY A city legend, Jazzhus Montmartre (Store Renegade 19A; +45 3172 3494; is an intimate jazz venue where greats like Stan Getz, Chet Baker, Miles Davis, and James Brown have taken the stage. The room is dominated by the stage – wreathed by rich, red drapes – and patrons are seated at tables ideally placed to catch the performance. Music lovers can dine early on ever-changing three-course menus inspired by Italian flavours, before catching the performances at 8pm.

The Jane Recently reopened, (Gråbrødretorv 8; +45 2613 4510; www. is a sprawling nightclub and bar where Mad Men’s Don Draper would have sipped whiskey had he ever ended up in Copenhagen. The dark, sexy space is decked out with leather chesterfields and dark wood panelling, and boasts a fireplace and large wood bar in the main room – but adventurous guests will find

that the old bookshelves that line the walls may just open to reveal hidden doors leading to other bar areas. Order the award-winning North Sea Lemonade, a tropical, crisp drink bursting with Nordic flavours, and brood over your next killer ad campaign. A cozy bar in the city centre, Bar 7 (Studiestræde 7; +45 3211 1771; www. feels like a sophisticated house party. Creatively divided areas featuring different design aesthetics, oldschool TVs propped in corners, and an eclectic mix of furniture somehow come together to make you feel like you’re at a friend’s house – although most friends won’t have a glass-top grand piano or seven-metre bar in gleaming wood lying around. Settle into a conversationconducive corner, and order a tipple from a drinks list that features innovative cocktails like The Kester, an indulgent concoction of Richard Hennessy Cognac, Gordon's Orange Gin, and other rare spirits.

EXPERIENCE For a different perspective, head to the famous harbour area of Nyhavn and jump aboard one of Canal Tours Copenhagen’s (Nyhavn 3; +45 3266 0000; big sightseeing boats to explore the city from the water. On the one-hour cruise through the waterways, you’ll see the Little Mermaid

The most engaging of Copenhagen’s many castles is Rosenborg Slot (Øster Voldgade 4A; +45 3315 3285; www.dkks. dk), an utterly atmospheric, gothic castle built in 1606 as a country summerhouse for King Christian IV. The historic palace now houses a plethora of royal memorabilia, including the kings’ coronation chair, the queens’ throne, and collections of art and artefacts, but the biggest draw lies in the basement, which houses the Crown Jewels, and the Danish Crown Regalia. Make sure to pack a picnic and spend an idyllic afternoon in Kongens Have; the ‘King’s Garden’ is Denmark’s oldest royal garden, and one of the most picturesque. The magical fairy tales of Denmark’s most famous author were a part of many childhoods, and the itinerary by Copenhagen Walking Tours (+45 4081 1217; www.copenhagen-walkingtours. dk) offers an inside look at the city as it was when Hans Christian Andersen was resident. Explore 19th century Copenhagen’s crooked backstreets, quaint buildings, alleys, and secret courtyards; see old landmarks like the Tivoli Gardens, the Cathedral of Copenhagen, and the Round Tower; and get inside tips on local favourites, all while quickly orientating yourself in the city.


Surf’s UP It’s a well-known fact that when the tide, swell, direction and wind are in harmony, it’s a surfer’s paradise. So check out five of the world’s best reef breaks, where the smiles are big, and the waves even bigger. By Sakshi Kaushik


ome to the annual Billabong Pro Tahiti surfing competition, the Teahupo’o reef break is famous for glassy offshore waves that are notorious for reaching up to seven metres in height. With shallow coral reefs and consistent wave barrels that break left, surfing at Teahupo’o is known to be legendary.


ustralia’s Gold Coast is known to the world as a surfer’s paradise (in fact, one neighbourhood bears that very name), with sunny skies galore, over 70km of sand, and prime waves to satisfy watersport enthusiasts. It is home to the famous


he art of surfing was created in Oahu, Hawaii, and the island remains home to some of the world’s heaviest waves, many


ondly known to locals as J-Bay, Jeffreys Bay on the Eastern Cape of South Africa is a former hippie hangout turned

Superbank surf break, where powerful tides form tubes and solid walls, guaranteed to give surfers a massive adrenaline rush.

of which are formed at the world-renowned Banzai Pipeline surf break. The waves here soar to over six metres and curl over the shallow table reef to create consistent, flawless tubes – a surfer’s ultimate playground.

surfer’s haven. The mother of all reef breaks, the Supertubes, rides for over 300 metres in long, fast barrels to offer high walls and consistent tubes.


ith shallow, razor-sharp coral reefs beneath your board and regular right-breaking waves, the Cloud 9 surf break on Siargao Island in the Philippines is for professionals and daredevils alike. Its thick, hollow tubes are certain to give surfers the ride of their lives.



MOTHER RUSSIA Richard Green travels on one of the world’s most famous trains and discovers that in the jet age, the journey can still be more than half the fun.




lickering past the train windows are birch trees and patches of spring snow, and this everchanging yet never changing scenery has become the surprising highlight of my time on the TransSiberian journey. It’s slow travel at its best, where the chief thrill is the journey itself: the cosy carriages, onboard camaraderie, and the constant edging forward across the vastness of Russia. The whole trip from Moscow to Beijing is a journey of 7,621 kilometres, which takes six days on an ‘ordinary’ train, or 16 days on the ‘private’ Tsar’s Gold tourist train, one of the luxury trains on the lines, and one which makes sightseeing stops along the way. This German-run ‘cruising on wheels’ experience is for people who prefer everything prebooked and arranged in advance, and don't fancy tackling the language barrier on regular Russian domestic trains.

I board the Tsar’s Gold train in Yekaterinburg, just east of the Ural Mountains, for a threenight ride to Irkutsk, not really knowing what to expect. As we chug out of the city, I slip into the toasty dining car and meet my fellow travellers. The jolly mélange of 20 English speakers includes Brits, Danes, Dutch, Italians, Americans, and a Spaniard, but most passengers on the train are German. It’s nice to warm through, eat a hearty meal of fish salad, cabbage soup, and ‘beef in Russian Monastic Manner’, and move on from the gloomy spots that I’d visited before boarding in Yekaterinburg. In 1918, Tsar Nicholas II and his family were executed there; the city’s opulent, somber Russian Orthodox Church of All Saints now stands on the site of Ipatiev House, where the assassination was carried out. I later learn that it wasn’t just the Imperial family whose forced journey eastwards was

doomed, when after dinner, Larissa, our English speaking guide, gives her evening talk on Siberia. “It’s been a place of exile for 300 years, with perhaps 21 million inmates passing through the gulags in total,” says sparky Larissa. The majority of people were sent east during Stalin’s time, when he expanded the isolated prison camps. “Even on the trains,” says Larissa, “There were gun emplacements on the top of the carriages and hooks underneath to kill anyone trying to escape”. I wouldn’t fancy anyone’s chances in this wilderness. Between the cities there is barely a sign of life, save for a meagre hut or two close by the train tracks every few hours. I'd imagined that the size of towns would grow smaller and more picturesque as the train trundled further into Siberia, but Novosibirsk, the first stop after Yekaterinburg at 3,200 kilometres east of Moscow, was big and

TRANS-SIBERIAN 83 bombastic. Soviet-era edifices here include the country’s largest opera house, and a prominent Lenin statue flanked by five heroic workers. At Krasnoyarsk, while other passengers head out on aa city tour, I ask train manager Hans for a peek in all the carriages. Squeezing past a large man with a small vacuum cleaner, I enter a swish Bolshoi Cabin at the front of the train, the second accommodation tier. Comfortably decorated, the cabin offers more space, with bench seats that convert into twin bunks – the lower a spacious, nearly double-size bed – and an ensuite bathroom. The cabin costs about US$15,600 per person. “All of our classes include the same meals, and sightseeing”, said Hans, as we move briskly down the corridor. The windows of the Nostalgia Cabin, with one shower shared between two cabins, are being cleaned inside and out, “so our guests can always take good photographs," Hans explains. I catch up with the group walking towards the city with local guide Irena. Siberia may conjure an empty freezing wasteland to us, but almost 25 million people live here, in an area about the size of China. Down by the river promenade, the spring sun enlivens everyone’s spirits. Sitting on the open deck of a large pleasure boat, I fall into a backslapping beer-fuelled chat

with a trio of young Russian lads, and we talk football and pop music as we meander down the Yenisei River. It’s my last night aboard the train, and I return to my compartment tipsy from a robust vodka tasting evening with Larissa and the group. I fall asleep wondering if she had really had said that Tsar Peter the Great had made dancing and moustaches compulsory? We joke as the train approached Irkutsk the next morning. “Yes, Peter the Great really did that!” beams Larissa. After my 100-hour stint on the train, I pop back to the compartment for a last stare into the birch forests.The monotony had become magical, the carriages homely, and several of the group are now friends. What a cracking experience, and what a wrench to leave for my sixhour flight back to Moscow.

Travel Notes The Russia Experience (; 0845 521 2910) has a 16-day Tsar's Gold train journey from Moscow to Beijing (or vice-versa) starting from GBP3,580 (US$6,000) per person in standard category based on two people travelling, excluding flights. The “classic” journey costs from GBP2,065(US$3,461) per person for an 18-day trip between St Petersburg and Beijing (again based on two people travelling and excluding flights). If budget is no problem, then the top-of-the-range Golden Eagle starts from GBP9,695 (US$16,253).

84 INSIDER Special Promotional Section


SKY As Falconer at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort by Anantara, Aman Ullah Muhammad Hussain thrills guests with aweinspiring displays of this ancient art. He tells Gayatri Bhaumik, about the history of falconry and his strict training regimen. First things first: what is falconry, exactly? Falconry is the hunting of prey with a trained bird, usually falcons or hawks.

How has falconry changed over the years? Initially, falconry was a means for Bedouin tribes to hunt animals such as hare or houbara – a desert bird – to supplement their diet with meat. Now, hunting is not allowed in the UAE so falcon owners travel to other destinations, such as Pakistan, to hunt. Falconry in the UAE has evolved into a sport of cultural heritage, passed on from generation to generation.

Are falcons used differently around the world? What is particular about how the UAE uses them? Historically, falconry was practiced in many countries all over the globe for different reasons. In Mongolia or medieval Europe for instance, falconry was practiced by noblemen and was a symbol of high social status. In the UAE on the other hand, falcons were captured by Bedouin tribes during winter, trained to hunt desert animals

to supplement a simple diet, and released afterwards – new birds were caught the following season. This partly explains why falconry is such an important component of the Emirati culture, and why falcons have become a national symbol.

How did you become interested in falconry? When I was young my brother used to keep birds, and I helped him take care of them every chance I had. I’ve always been fascinated by birds, and being in the UAE, where falcons represent an important facet of the cultural heritage, my interest in falconry came about very naturally.

Can you describe how you train your falcons? Training a falcon takes patience and skill. To start, I name my falcon and spend as much time as possible with him so he gets used to me and my voice. This helps to establish a close relationship with the bird, which is essential for the training process. Later, I train him to fly and return by putting my arm forward while wearing a leather glove and holding pieces of meat between my fingers. When the falcon comes back to me, I reward

him with a treat, which he then associates with the leather glove.

What are some of the more difficult parts of your work with falcons?

Falcons have to follow a very strict diet in order to perform well. For instance, a variation of 100 grams from its optimum weight will prevent the bird from flying. So it’s really important to find the right balance between training and feeding. This is probably the most critical skill to acquire to be a good falconer, and one that’s mastered through time and experience.

What are some of the most interesting parts of working with falcons? Falcons are majestic birds, and it’s always rewarding to observe the admiration in the eyes of guests watching our birds’ performances. The birds’ attributes usually fascinate people; for example, the Peregrine falcon’s speed can reach up to 322km/ph, and their eyes can see clearly up to a distance of one mile.

What activities or experiences could guests do to better understand falconry? Abu Dhabi is home to the first Falcon Hospital (, which is a great place to learn more about the birds and observe how they are taken care of by a dedicated team.


SERVICE WITHOUT A SMILE Malaysia Airlines MH132 Kuala Lumpur - Auckland

Nick Walton finds that in the face of adversity, Malaysia Airlines’ once world-class business product has a long road ahead if the airline wants to compete with Asia’s top carriers once again. The Lounge Despite arriving at lunch time, Malaysia Airlines’ sprawling signature lounge at Kuala Lumpur International Airport was surprisingly quiet during our visit. The flagship space is split into dining and lounge areas, with several buffets offering delicacies like of ikan tenggiri kari fish curry and ayam percil chicken, as well as snacks, made-to-order noodles, and sandwiches. In addition to an abundance of power points, high-speed WiFi, a separate sports bar venue, and a complimentary shower complex, the lounge also boasts its own tiny spa, although with a 60-minute foot massage priced at HK$590 (US$76), the spa is almost always empty. The shower counter staff were their usual complacent selves, but overall, the lounge staff were friendly and welcoming.

Onboard The crew boarding the 777-200 aircraft were cheerful and efficient, even if the business class product beyond was a disappointment. The ancient (by 777 standards) Boeing boasted a business class product that was a few generations behind that which you find on the carrier’s A380. While the 18.2-inch wide, angled flat recliner seats offer a 62inch pitch and plenty of leg room, they also feature clunky, phone book-thick monitors, worn, chipped control panels, and no USB power connection, as well as virtually no storage space. Perfectly adequate for a day

time inter-regional flight (although bring your own headphones, theirs are awful), this hard, unforgiving seat, with a rock-hard headrest, is a sour taste at the commencement of a long-haul night flight. With 17 passengers in business, the cabin was mostly full, and crew welcomed us with juice, hot towels, and elegant Tumi amenity kits. No alcohol was permitted until after takeoff.

Dining We departed the Malaysian capital on time and once we reached cruising altitude the crew offered menus for the late lunch service. MAS has made significant headway in the in-flight dining scene, and the menu explained the Chef-on-Call service (only available on certain flights) and the history of satay, an iconic Malaysian snack, the service of which earned the airline the World’s Best Airline Signature Dish in 2013’s Skytrax World Airlines Awards. The mixed beef and chicken satay, with its rich peanut sauce, was fantastic, and was followed by a delicate salmon gravlax with citrus prawns. For the main (one of four mains was not available, despite the fact we were the first passengers served) I opted for chef Zubir Zain’s signature slow braised beef short rib, which was served with a warm potato onion salad and sautéed vegetables. The beef was beautifully cooked and well portioned. Unfortunately this was matched with robotic

service that lacked charm or warmth, something we encountered on all four MAS flights we travelled on in the space of two weeks, where slow, zombie-like service and long instances of the entire crew ‘hiding’ in the galley seemed the norm, though it was possibly related to the airline’s recent announcement of job cuts. A few hours out from Auckland, the crew prepared the cabin for breakfast, which included fresh fruit and fruit juice, croissants that had been in the oven a little too long, and a choice of Nasi Lemak, a Malaysian staple of coconut rice with spicy prawns; a Spanish omelet with chicken sausage, asparagus, and button mushrooms; and a mixed grill of beef tournedos, lamb cutlet, and grilled chicken, served with potatoes, tomatoes and a mushroom sauce. the Nasi Lemak is always a favourite of mine but was, in retrospect, a little too spicy for breakfast.

Summary Malaysia Airlines has the building blocks to return to its golden years once more, and airline success stories like that of Garuda Indonesia show that legacy carriers truly can bounce back. But it’s going to take a much better work ethic and investment in more competitive hardware for the carrier to shine once again. Note: The author travelled on a fully paid business class ticket without the airline’s knowledge



GA0856 Denpasar to Indonesia

Airlines can win or lose passengers on short-haul flights as easily as long-haul journeys. The key is consistency, discovers Nick Walton on a recent Garuda Indonesia flight. Check-in Check-in at Bali’s new-look airport is a breath of fresh air after its predecessor, which was plagued by long lines at both security and check-in counters. Spacious, airy, and well lit, the voluminous new terminal boasts a lounge-like check-in area for Garuda’s Executive Class and First Class passengers. Our requested seats were assigned and lounge cards given but unfortunately, all passengers still run the departure tax-security-immigration gauntlet together. Total line time: 22 minutes.

The Lounge Nothing moves fast in Bali, and that’s one of the island’s charms, but the “temporary” Garuda business class lounge continues to welcome guests two years after the new airport opened. It’s a simple, elegant space, with towering windows overlooking the apron, and a range of comfortable lounges, but that’s about it. Even the wireless is borrowed from the airport.

Onboard Boarding of the 737-800NG aircraft commenced just two minutes after the scheduled time – which again isn’t bad for Bali – and the crew in the tiny business class cabin were welcoming, with hot towels and glasses of juice (no bubbles

served on the ground in Indonesia). The 737’s business cabin consists of 12 19inch wide, 160-degree reclining seats, of which 11 were taken. Crew dished out menus and L’Occitane amenity kits and we left the gate on time, in good weather. It’s not until we reached cruising altitude that I realised the lumbar support on my chair was stuck in the extended position, which made sitting up straight for lunch much more difficult. Unfortunately, the cabin crew were unable to retract the seat’s cushion. It also took crew a long time to begin service after the seat belt sign was turned off; on previous flights, cabin crew were quick to offer a preliminary drink and the airline’s signature warmed almonds, but the pursuer and one other cabin attendant spent the first 30 minutes of the flight secreted behind the galley curtain, offering drinks and lunch simultaneously. Lunch included a delicate amuse bouche of small, open-faced sandwiches and cold smoked duck breast with hoisin sauce and a pineapple salsa, followed by a choice of grilled lamb cutlet with gruyere soufflé and ratatouille; pan-fried snapper with Indonesian gulai sauce and spicy eggplant; or stir-fried chicken with hot bean sauce and egg fried rice. The chicken was wonderful comfort food,

especially when matched with a glass of the signature Billecart-Salmon Brut Rosé or the delectable D’Arenburg The Stump Jump Riesling. Lunch was served in a ‘business class-lite’ style, with the salad, cheese and crackers, and dessert served on a train, and the main served hot when ready. All in all, it was an enjoyable experience for a four-hour daytime flight, but the challenge for Garuda is to maintain its new-found levels of service and to not slip into its old persona of a tired flag carrier. Note: The author flew on a paid-for business class ticket with the airline’s knowledge.



SOAR BMW’s Stunning i8 Hybrid






Aged Cocktails in Vogue



Ceylon’s Subtle


Although true cinnamon is only grown in Sri Lanka, the holidays’ favourite spice is sought after the world over for its well-documented health and nutritional benefits. Gayatri Bhaumik discovers a few unique ways to indulge in the aromatic spice.






or some cinnamon-laced pampering, head over to New Jersey where you’ll find Gentle Healing Wellness Spa, a lush, Victorian-style retreat tucked into the historic village of Cranbury, once a headquarters for George Washington. Here, Cinnamon Treatment is a spicy precursor to a luxurious manicure, and the perfect way to ensure your hands look as good as your nails. Your hands will be treated to a robust scrub with a cinnamon exfoliator, ridding them of dry skin cells and leaving them fresh and rejuvenated. A hydrating cinnamon hand crème is then massaged on to stimulate circulation, before hands are dipped in paraffin and covered with hot mitts. When the gloves come off, your hands will be soft, smooth, totally revitalised, and ready to show off your new nail art. uck into one of Nordic Bakery’s three London stores and experience the humble cinnamon bun as never before. Nordic’s signature cinnamon buns are made from a Finnish recipe that results in a sumptuously indulgent sweet treat that at first glance looks like a pain au chocolat. Packing a spiced, glazed punch, the pastry boasts a crunchy, crusty exterior which hides a light, buttery dough inside. The whole thing is lavishly swirled with lashings of cinnamon and cardamom sugar. The bakery even does special limited editions, particularly around Cinnamon Bun Day (February 21) – expect cinnamon buns with apple jam, creamy custard and almonds, chocolate, or raisin and lemon glaze.

or a truly immersive spice experience, head to Weligama Bay in southern Sri Lanka, where you’ll find Mirissa Hills. Guests can stay in the varied accommodation on this working cinnamon estate, and learn about one of Sri Lanka’s major exports with in-depth tours of the plantation and live demonstrations of cinnamon peeling. To really understand this exotic spice head to the estate’s plantation house. The building’s lower quarters feature a secluded courtyard and four bedrooms, but the upper house boasts the world’s only cinnamon museum. Filled with all manner of cinnamon-related items, the museum is dedicated to the history and uses of this much-loved spice.

inally, head south of Chicago to the small Midwestern town of Champaign, Illinois, where Wedge Tequila Bar & Grill creates its own special houseinfused cinnamon tequila and mixes it into two delicious cocktails. For a perfectly balanced concoction, try the delicious Cinnamon Peach Margarita, an easy-drinking mix of the houseinfused cinnamon tequila, triple sec, peach purée, lime juice, and agave nectar. The sweettoothed should head straight for the dessert cocktail menu, which features the decadent Canela’s Twisted Sister, a frothy treat made with the house-infused cinnamon tequila, RumChata, and cream.


Named ‘Best Chef: South’ at the 2014 James Beard Foundation Awards, Ryan Prewitt gives southern culinary traditions a modern twist at New Orleans’ Pêche Seafood Grill. He talks to Gayatri Bhaumik about his serendipitous start in the kitchen, travelling for inspiration, and the world of fresh fish.


Have you always cooked?

and creativity. Being in foreign countries, in new situations, pushes me to look

I started cooking professionally after

at things differently. Uruguay was so

spending a few years shopping at the

influential because it took something I

Bay Area’s farmer’s markets [in San

was familiar with – live fire cooking and

Francisco]. I was working in advertising, and




smoking – and showed me a different way

it. An

of approaching it. The purity of ingredients

opportunity arose to work with a friend of

in Spain was equally compelling.

mine in a new restaurant, so I quit my job and started cooking.

What important lessons have you learned from the kitchen?

How would you describe your culinary style?

Everyone has something important to say

I like cooking what’s around me. We’re

– make sure you listen.

very fortunate to have a long growing season and an abundance of great seafood in south Louisiana, and my focus has really shifted to that. At Pêche, we try to highlight these products using our wood grill and lots of olive oil-based sauces. We find this keeps our dishes more focused, and allows the natural flavours to come through more cleanly.

Where do you find your inspiration? Inspiration comes from many places, not least from the people I work with. Cooking

I want the whole kitchen involved in this process; I want constant discussion. I have travelled and eaten in many places that have inspired me. Likewise, everyone that I work with comes from somewhere, and has travelled and eaten in places that I haven’t. Their experience is very valuable, and collectively, I believe we continually produce new and interesting food.

You personally, and Pêche, won awards from the James Beard Foundation this year. What are your hopes going forward? I want to continue to refine our seafood purchasing by seeking the best products we can buy, and to keep working to support independent seafood purveyors. The world of seafood in America is so complex, and I want to continue to learn about how we utilise our aquatic

we have. I operate better when I can see

You’ve travelled to places like Uruguay and Spain to learn particular cooking techniques. How have you incorporated this into your cooking?

and touch the products I am working with.

Travel is an important part of cooking

are a lot more dishes out there.

is a team sport. The people that work at Pêche all have different backgrounds that inspire us to produce new dishes. I have a habit of buying anything that looks good, both seafood and vegetables, and then formulating new ideas based on what

resources. These ideas all go hand in hand, and they continue to push Pêche forward. Creating markets for different, non-standard, species is also an ongoing project. The Gulf of Mexico is such a rich body of water, and I feel like we have only just begun to scratch the surface – there


Sipping tequila isn’t the only spirit making headway in Asia’s top cocktail bars. Tequila cocktails have never been so sought after as bars access better quality products from the US and Mexico, including the likes of hand-crafted Tapatio Blanco 110 , a premium white tequila made by the La Alteña Distillery in the mountainous region of Jalisco. This unique, overproof tequila is bottled at 55% ABV to ensure a more intense nose filled with spicy green pepper, followed by concentrated peppery fruit and hefty hints of agave on the palate. Delectably dry and crisp, this is the perfect tequila to keep the winter chills at bay.

As pedigree rums begin to get the appreciation they deserve in Asia, connoisseurs are increasingly reaching for rhum agricoles, light, zesty aged rums made from fermented sugar cane. Distilled by La Mauny in Martinique in the French West Indies, La Mauny 1749 is a stunning expression of the agricole tradition, with a rich honey colour thanks to 12 months in French oak. Perfectly positioned at the centre of the "Amber" rum spectrum, 1749 boasts a mild smokiness with cane sweetness, touches of oak and earthiness, subtle spices, and a smooth finish that makes it the ideal sipping rum for increasingly cooler nights.


Keep bellies warm and spirits alive with this seasonal








Edinburgh Gin is distilled with classic gin botanicals in a revival of the Scottish gin boom of the 1700s, when its namesake city was the epicenter of gin distillation. Created by the Spencerfield Spirit Company, Edinburgh Gin features locally-grown juniper, coriander, citrus peel, angelica, and orris root, as well as a few more Scottish touches, including pine, heather, and milk thistle. The spirit is then bottled at 43% ABV to ensure a mellow yet floral result. Look for a crisp, clean nose with touches of juniper, with the freshness of pine following through to a lingering, slightly creamy finish.


With an eye-catching bottle and a complex flavour profile, The King of SoHo gin is the latest to bolster London’s gin-making renaissance. Created by Howard Raymond, whose father Paul was known as the King of SoHo because of his influence on SoHo's creative music scene, this gin boasts a vibrant juniper nose and subtle coriander behind the heady burn of a typical 42% ABV London Dry style spirit. On the palate, there is a touch of sweetness and citrus, with spice and grapefruit on a lingering finish that makes it perfect for the likes of a ginlaced Christmas punch.

Vodka brand Absolut has once again collaborated with the works of artist Andy Warhol to create a limited edition bottle that is a must for any budding home bar. Nearly 30 years after the high priest of pop culture created an original art piece for the brand, the vodka maker has released a tribute bottle inspired by the same painting. The new Absolut Warhol bottle, available in travel retail, is devoted to the father of American pop art, and features three-dimensional graphics that echo Warhol’s unforgettable style. The bottle launch is supported by two innovative concepts: Warhol Spirit by Absolut, a series of dedicated music and art events, and the Andy Warhol Art Exchange by Absolut, which invites audiences to join in on the creative process by making their own art at events.


selection of tipples from the world’s best distilleries.

Dublin’s Teeling Whiskey Company has released a Teeling Single Malt Irish Whiskey, one of only a handful of such expressions in the world. With a unique depth of character and flavour, Teeling Single Malt consists of aged malt whiskey up to 23 years old that has been matured in five different wine casks including sherry, port, madeira, white burgundy, and cabernet sauvignon. This special combination of casks creates a very distinctive, rich colour while imparting a vibrant and balanced flavour of dry fruits, citrus, vanilla, spice, and cloves. The proprietary maturation and vatting technique produces a very special Irish whiskey of distinctive character while still being remarkably easy to drink. Like all the Teeling whiskeys, it is bottled at 46% with no chill filtration, allowing for all the natural flavours of the whiskey to be retained.



t Singapore’s newly opened Manhattan Bar, at the Regent hotel, guests can step into the future and back in time simultaneously. Based on the 19th century golden age of cocktail making, an era that’s inspiring and guiding a host of imaginative new bartenders across the region, the Manhattan Bar not only brings back old school traditions. including a bespoke Manhattan trolley, but is also home to a cutting-edge one-of-akind Ingredients Room – home to the likes of wildcherry bark, shisandra berries, and dandelion root – and the world’s first inhotel Rickhouse, where some of history’s most celebrated elixirs are mellowed in hand-picked casks.

The Rickhouse boasts more than 100 charred American white oak barrels from a small cooperage in Minnesota. Each is used to finish whiskies and other spirits, and to age bitters and ‘single-cask’ concoctions for a new From the Rickhouse menu. It’s history repeating itself for the benefit of tomorrow’s drinkers. “The amazing opportunity to have these barrels gives me the ability to let the cocktails rest and mature,” says Manhattan’s head bartender Ricky Paiva. “Barrel aging lends tones of lanolin, coconut, and chocolate to the drinks [and] softens some of the ‘rough’ edges, bringing a roundness and smoothness to the cocktail.” Barrel aging is essentially a continuation of the aging process that many premium spirits have already gone through; in a complex dance between the barrel surface and alcohol, which is absorbed by and expelled from the wood while the barrel "breathes,"the cocktail extracts tannins, colour, and flavour while losing its edges, mellowing, and hopefully improving. Of course, like many mixology trends this is not a modern technique. When Romans and Greeks started buying wine in 300BC, they quickly realised that wooden casks were much better at preserving and aging wine than clay pots and animal skins, and barrels became the preferred storage method for wine and even later, spirits.

Secrets of

the Barrel

Bartenders are increasingly turning to the timeless traditions of barrel aging to give new complexity to their classic cocktails, discovers Nick Walton. Centuries after, before America’s flirtation with prohibition, cocktails were made in large batches and stored in barrels before being bottled, a popular trend in the saloons of the late 1800s and early 1900s (and one that’s coming back at bars like London’s White Lyan). These were the first barrelaged cocktails. The modern use of barrels in cocktail aging has been credited to London bartender Tony Conigliaro and Portland mixologist Jeffrey Morgenthaler, who started barrel aging Manhattans in 2009, but the trend has reached bars across the globe, including Asia’s drinking capitals. The Lobby Lounge at the InterContinental Hong Kong recently announced a new menu of barrel-aged cocktails; while Singapore’s Longtail Asian Brasserie & Bar barrel-ages selected tipples; Bangkok’s Vesper matches barrel-

aged Tanqueray gin cocktails with a chef’s tasting menu; and Shanghai’s Jade on 36 bar has its American oak barrels custom made. Currently, in Manhattan’s Rickhouse there are solera-aged Negronis and aged versions of some of the bar’s more popular drinks, including the Remember the Maine and Vieux Carre. “In addition to these aged cocktails, I’m also barrel-aging a gin and finishing a port-washed rye whiskey,” says Paiva. “I have our house applejack resting as well.” He says he sees aging as just another tool in the modern bartender’s tool belt. “I see barrel-aging becoming a small part of all craft bars, perhaps not so much in the public eye, but on a more subtle level. Guests in the know will ask about barrelaged cocktails and most will have one or two special tipples on offer, aged to perfection.”



The mercury is dropping and that’s all the excuse you need to reach for those moreish, rich, and devilishly sweet ice wines after a hearty winter meal. By Nick Walton


t’s winter in the northern hemisphere, and ice wine makers across the northern-most latitudes are looking out their windows waiting for their grapes to freeze. Ice wine, a unique drop made from grapes that have frozen on the vine, is best described as the world’s most difficult wine to make, such are the extreme and tenuous conditions that must come together perfectly for its production. With a history that reaches back to the Romans, ice wine can be found in many European countries, including Austria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, and

Switzerland, as well as the US, with experimental plots growing in the southern hemisphere’s coldest corners. However, 75 percent of these decadent and pricy wines come from Germany and Canada, the former an old school producer, the latter a young upstart that has propelled the variety to new heights. When the grapes – usually Vidal, but other varieties are now being used too - freeze on the vine, the sugars and other dissolved solids do not freeze, allowing for a more concentrated must to be pressed. Unlike many dessert wines, only healthy noble rotfree grapes are used. However, due to the smaller volume of must produced, the risk that frosts don’t occur in time to harvest, and the fact that the grapes must be picked within a few hours of freezing, ice wines fetch a pretty penny in Asia, where they are especially popular as an after dinner treat in Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea. Technology in the 1960s helped increase the production of ice wines in Germany, where the style has been valued since the late

1800s; remote alarms indicating when the right conditions were taking place, generators and lights to aid harvesting in the darkness of early morning, and covers to protect the ripe grapes from birds pre-freeze helped increase production further. However, by the early 1980s, ice wine was being made in Canada, with wine makers taking advantage of harsh, regular winters to harvest ice wine grapes on a much larger scale, both for the domestic and export markets. By the mid-2000s Canadian ice wines were winning gold at some of the world’s top wine competitions. Canadian ice wines remain the most popular here in Asia, especially in China, where new wine drinkers are reaching first for the sweet stuff. Some of the best Canadian producers include Inniskillin, Peller, and Pillitteri from the Niagara region, and Mission Hill from Okanagan. Pillitteri makes a unique cabernet franc ice wine, a rare red ice wine, while Mission Hill makes a fantastic Reserve Riesling which remains popular in Hong Kong.



Swire brings all the elegance of its hotels to the dinner table with the opening of The Continental at Pacific Place, discovers Nick Walton.


he first thing you notice – and appreciate – when you step into The Continental is the sense of space. It’s something you notice in Hong Kong, where restaurants seem to be getting smaller, with more tables within shoulder rub of each other than ever before. But not so at the new Swire restaurant, which takes over the elegant space that formerly housed Domani. The main dining room, flooded with natural light by day, and by the twinkling lights of Central’s skyscrapers by night, has a little space for every occasion, from the centre stage tables for four, to intimate booths and umbrella-shaded alfresco tables on a terrace wreathed by potted plants. All that space is complemented by an elegant design persona by David Collins Studios, which was responsible for the eyecatching lines of both The Wolseley and The Delaunay in London, and Scarpetta in Miami. Taking inspiration from the grand cafes

of Europe, expect a double-height ceiling, polished timber parquet floors, cream marble accents, and champagne globe lamps. The foliage of the terrace is drawn inside with teal leather chair backs and booths. We start off with a beautifully made martini at the restaurant’s Art Deco-inspired, emerald-hue cocktail bar, located at the restaurant entrance. This intimate space is great as a standalone while you’re waiting for the taxi line to die down, with signature drops including the Bloody Rye, with Michter’s rye whiskey, tomato, lemon, and rosemary; and The Continental, a heady mix of Père Magloire Calvados, Tanqueray gin, Wild Berry Shrub, lemon, and soda. Then we claim our table – the central spots offer the most space but the window-side booths offer the best ambiance. The Continental’s seafood-heavy menu, by British culinary icon chef Rowley Leigh (he of Le Café Anglais, Kensington Place and Le Poulbot fame) boasts a distinct FrancoAnglaise leaning, and is served with crisp,

military-like precision by cheerful and wellinformed waiters that exhibit the same levels of skill and dedication we’re used to at fellow Swire eatery Café Grey Deluxe. We opt for a couple of starters to share – the raw tuna with ginger dressing is delicate and silky; the grilled squid with chilli and rocket perfectly tender; and the chestnut mousse beneath plump, perfectly cooked scallops dressed with shiso and lemon an elegant contrast. For mains, we opt for the salmon, smoked haddock, prawn, and whiting pie, a childhood classic that I couldn’t resist, and the roasted partridge with Jamon, chickpea puree, and an almond picada. The fish pie was spectacular in its creamy simplicity, but the partridge was a little bitter in its gaminess. The well-priced wine list, which offers wine by the glass from HK$75-$130 (US$9.66$16.70) is France and Italy-heavy, with a few Germanic surprises, and the digestif listing makes the terrace all the more attractive for a post-meal tipple.

The Continental ; Unit 406, L4 Pacific Place, Hong



Kong; Tel:


Admiralty, 27045211;



With a strong focus on hearty Italian fare, Gradini is a simple, elegant choice in the heart of Hong Kong. By Gayatri Bhaumik


ompetition is rife in Hong Kong’s restaurant-dense dining scene, so it is no surprise that many eateries succumb to gimmicks and hype to lure customers, often to the detriment of the food. But there are a few eateries that resist the temptation to pander to the city’s ever-changing whims by keeping things simple with the eternally crowd-pleasing combination of refined décor, good service, and great food. This is exactly what you’ll find at Gradini, the understated yet sophisticated new Italian restaurant at boutique hotel The Pottinger. Entering through the hotel lobby, guests pass the restaurant’s small bar before stepping into the intimate dining room where white walls and shutters are offset by swathes of drapes and wall decal in shades of green, and white-clothed tables positioned with enough space to ensure your conversation isn’t overheard. Seated

at a corner table overlooking Pottinger Street and Queen’s Road Central, the meal kicks off with a signature Bellini Gradini, a delicious concoction of fresh peaches, champagne, and grappa, as we look over the list of dishes inspired by time-honoured Italian recipes and the freshest available ingredients. After much back and forth between the a la carte menu and the current white truffle menu, we make our selections, and as soon as the starters arrive, we know we’re in for a treat. The king scallops in the first dish are seared to perfection, while the plate of cured Italian meats is beautifully offset by a spoonful of truffled honey. The highlight of the meal however, is the homemade tagliolini; fleshed out with Maine lobster and doused in fresh tomato and basil, this signature dish is a fresh, flavour-packed punch to the palate, and one you’ll come back for. The mains, veal cutlets from the white truffle menu, and a herb-encrusted rack of lamb with Chianti

mustard from the a la carte menu, are perfectly delicious, but in all honesty, we are still basking in the aftermath of the pasta. Pasta and tiramisu are usually the ultimate barometers for gauging the quality of an Italian restaurant, and like its pasta, Gradini’s Classico Tiramisu del Pasticcere – savoiardi biscuits laced with espresso and amaretto, topped with mascarpone and cacao, and served in a teacup - is a winner. Sinfully decadent, it even wins over my usually tiramisu-averse dining companion. A hidden gem a little way below the overflowing (and sometimes overhyped) eateries of SoHo, Gradini will no doubt marshal a loyal following with its simple, sumptuous Italian fare and chic, laidback ambiance.

Gr adini ; L o bby L eve l , 74 Q u e e n s R o a d , C e n t ra l ; + 8 5 2 w w w. t h e p o t t i n g e r. c o m




Get Your Grill On

The Marina Grill has opened at one of Hong Kong’s most exclusive private clubs, offering a luxurious steakhouse experience like no other in the city. With Australian chef Ryan Crawford overseeing the grill, the Aberdeen Marina Club’s newest fine-dining restaurant specialises in dry-aged and wet-aged cuts of beef sourced from the best producers in the world, and matched with an enviable wine list and a selection of hand-crafted cocktails from the new adjacent cocktail bar. Decked out in glossy timber with hand-picked furnishings and stunning marina views, highlights of the Marina Grill’s beef offerings include the 1.6kg Tomahawk and the M4 Wagyu rib-eye, while the menu also features seafood, chicken, and lamb dishes, including and lamb rack and rump two way.

Cutting Through the Chill

From steaks and comfort food to fresh produce and hearty Italian meals, these dining experiences are sure to keep you warm this winter.

Italy Down Under Melbourne chef Johnny Di Francesco’s award-winning pizzas have found a new home at Crown Melbourne with the recent opening of his Riverwalk restaurant, Gradi . The slick, sophisticated, and incredibly spacious new eatery dishes up the hearty Italian cuisine infused with Neapolitan techniques that Di Francesco is known for. Along with his famous pizzas, diners can feast family-style on sumptuous dishes bursting with rich flavours and fresh ingredients. Start with the crowd-pleasing Arancini Del Giorno (crumbed Italian rice balls with mascarpone and parmesan cream) and a charcuterie board of specialty cured meats and cheeses, then move on to a selection from the line-up of housemade pastas and risottos – the Spaghetti alla carbonara is a popular choice – and don’t miss the sinful ricotta and chocolate cheesecake or tiramisu for dessert.

Farm Fresh Fare Headed by one of Australia's best regional chefs, Ash Martin, Homage has opened at Queensland’s Spicers Hidden Vale retreat and showcases locally sourced ingredients from across Australia. With menus inspired by the best local produce from the Lockyer Valley, sourced from independent suppliers, farmers markets, and the 4,800-hectare Hidden Vale property itself - home to an organic garden and orchard - dishes are a marriage of local ingredients and sophisticated cooking techniques that draw on French culinary tradition. Treat yourself to the stunning Tasting Menu, which features the likes of beetroot kingfish ceviche with charred octopus; Flagstone Creek Murray cod with Tarome freshwater crayfish; and Spicers Station yearling with panzanella. The launch of Homage is the first stage in the redevelopment of the historic Hidden Vale property which is due to be completed in mid2015.


Following the Herd

The concept of steak frites is beautiful in its simplicity, and one that’s become a bona fide trend in the Harbour City, with a slew of restaurants specialising in the unfussy meal opening in recent months. The latest addition to the bandwagon is Steak

Frites by The Butchers Club, an industrial-feel 1,500sqft space at PMQ in Central. Diners begin with a Wedge Salad served with blue cheese cream, cherry tomatoes, and thickcut maple-glaze bacon, before moving on to the main event – a 12-ounce, 40-day dry-aged rib-eye (from New South Wales, Australia) smothered in Béarnaise or peppercorn sauce, or horseradish cream, and accompanied with a side of the group’s signature duck fat fries. Setting itself apart, the new restaurant also offers a ‘Secret Menu’ – with items like butterpoached Nova Scotia lobster tail – which is accessible only by QR code.

A Landmark Reopens

The Pawn , an institution in Hong Kong’s Wan Chai neighbourhood, has reopened after several months of extensive renovations. The former shabby-chic, pub-like establishment has been given a design-savvy makeover with the leafy ‘Botanicals’ bar; a members-club-like afterhours corner complete with leather couches and dark wood panels; and the airy, open-plan 'Kitchen,' the main dining room. From the kitchen, Michelin-starred British chef Tom Aikens serves ingredient-driven dishes that fuse comfort food with high-end technique. Highlights include housemade ricotta with olive oil, herbs, and aged balsamic; brined pork belly with ‘botanical’ glaze, fermented grains, and miso; and confit salmon with pomelo and grapefruit vanilla dressing. The all-new weekend brunch menu boasts the usual breads and cereals, and all-time favourites like roast beef with Yorkshire pudding and horseradish cream; and shepherd’s pie.

To The Pampas

Carnivores will also love Gaucho , London’s awardwinning Argentinians steakhouse, which has opened its first Asian branch in Hong Kong. Located in the LHT Tower in Central, the new steak joint serves up succulent cuts of 100 percent grass-fed, free-range Argentinian beef, as well as a selection of South American inspired ceviche dishes, amidst bold black and white décor. Meat cuts, presented to guests on a signature meat board, are cooked over traditional asado open-fire grills, with touches of Nuevo Latino flavours. All staff are graduates of the Gaucho Academy, which ensures high levels of service and knowledge of the different cuts, aging process, cooking methods, and wine pairings. Signature dishes to look out for include the forty-eight hour dry-aged Provoleta; a zesty Ecuadorian ceviche; and daily beef specials, matched with an Argentina-specific wine list that includes the group’s own unique Malbec.


Symbolising rarity, beauty, and excellence, Graff’s new Nuages Collection represents the natural, organic beauty found in locations like the Ginkaku-ji temple in Kyoto, the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech, and Kew Gardens in London. Designed in the brand's London atelier, and set in a symmetrical platinum base, shimmering pavé diamonds capture the motif of clouds, while exquisite sapphires, rubies, and emeralds show the stunning spectrum of colours found in each garden. With earrings, necklaces, and bracelets to pick from, ladies will be absolutely spoilt for choice.


From leather-bound flasks to show-stopping shoppers and jaw-dropping jewels Ports 1961’s new line includes the No. 10 bag, designed to celebrate the perfect and unique characteristics of a woman. Made from the finest Italian leather, this horizontal shopper is minimalist yet stylish, and comes in five bold colours, with embellished maxi-brass fittings, intricate rib stitching lining the smooth, dappled leather shell, and a circular insert.

Need the perfect accessories to match that new dress in your closet? These earrings from Tiffany and Co.’s latest Masterpiece Collection will do the trick. Brilliant cut diamonds are tiered and layered with alternating seed pearls to dot the structure for a delicate, radiant glow. Resembling a chandelier hanging gently on the ears, these earrings are the ultimate ear candy this season.


“A shave is not just about getting the hair off your face. It’s about feeling fresh, feeling better, feeling manly,” says Wolfgang Joensson, male grooming brand Hommage’s coveted designer. That ideal has transformed itself into the Carbon Fibre Shave Set. A precision cast and carbon fibre brush and razor (compatible with Gillette Mach3 blades) are balanced on a streamline, magnetised stand with a rubber base to turn shaving into an art form all of its own. Sleek, professional-looking, and ultra-sexy, this ought to be in every gentleman’s bathroom. US$600,


to sharp-bladed shavers, here are gift ideas for him and her this festive season. Eloquence and elegance go hand in hand with Montblanc’s newest writing instrument, the Writers Edition: Daniel Defoe. Inspired by Defoe’s famous tale of Robinson Crusoe, the writing instrument’s distinct, polished resin barrel and elaborately designed feather clip is reminiscent of Crusoe’s wooden paddle and Poll the parrot. With intricate 18th century-style filigree engravings decorating the exterior, and a ruthenium-plated 18-karat gold nib, the piece is a grand tribute to the man regarded as one of the foremost proponents of the English novel.

Because bottles are for boys, and hip flasks are for men, Linley’s hip flask is designed for the true man, and is the perfect addition to a hunting journey or a day at the races. Holding up to six ounces of your favourite tipple, this kidney shaped flask in stainless steel is dressed in fine calfskin leather and is also available in tan. With a simple screw-top lid and an engraving service for the ultimate personalised touch, this flask deserves a place in every man’s pocket. GBP95,




Two new timepieces from Breitling contrast occasion, but are intrinsically linked through chronological excellence, finds Nick Walton. Eye-catching in black and orange, the new Chronomat 44 Raven special series reinvents the pilot’s chronograph in an original look dedicated to performance. First launched in 1984, the Breitling Chronomat has established itself as a reference point among mechanical chronographs, embodying the Breitling philosophy of strength and design. This exceptional new model adds to that a renewed sense of masculinity thanks to a satin-brushed steel case, entirely clad in a high-resistance, carbon-based black coating, matched with a black rubber strap. The unidirectional rotating bezel features orange rubber inlaid numerals creating a powerful and ultra-legible contrast, while the same bright orange touches appear on the inner bezel, the chronograph's second hand, and on the Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01 movement, visible through a transparent sapphire case back. Boasting a self-winding movement chronometercertified by the COSC (Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute), the highest benchmark in terms of reliability and precision, the new timepiece features a 70-hour power reserve and is water resistant to 200m.

By contrast, the vintage accents and two-tone dial of the Transocean Edition limited series reinterprets the contemporary classic style of the Transocean line in a highly exclusive spirit. Inspired by a star model from 1958 (an ultra-precise, anti-shock, anti-magnetic, and super-water-resistant watch that magnificently accompanied the boom in intercontinental air travel), the Transocean reflects the spirit of great journeys and luxury long-haul aircraft. With a dial bearing two vintage-style counters, a date window at 6 o’clock adorned with a twin-zone silver-toned dÊcor, and the 18-carat gold version of Breitling's original symbol, this beautifully-designed timepiece also boasts a double-back steel case that provides space for a personalised engraving, as well as a sapphire crystal back that affords a chance to admire the Manufacture Breitling Caliber 01 movement within. Issued in a 2,000-piece production run, the Transocean Chronograph Edition limited series is teamed with an original steel mesh bracelet but also comes with a leather or crocodile


leather strap.




Rose gold is making a space for itself amid the usual silver and gold jewellery, and these three new watches perfectly highlight the metal’s femininity. By Gayatri Bhaumik

The latest accessory offering from Italian fashion house Dolce and Gabbana is Sofia, a sophisticated, elegant watch that captures the essence of subtle femininity. The dominant design feature of the timepiece is the ‘sapphire’ glass cut in a geometrical pattern modelled on traditional stonemasion techniques; extending to the case, these features create enhanced light reflection. The watch also features a 24mm case in 18-carat rose gold, along with an octagonal crown set with a natural ruby, and a markedly sparse black enamel dial. With no indexes or marking apart from the hands and brand logo – both plated with rose gold – the dial’s austerity is striking, especially when paired with the unadorned colourcoordinated satin strap and 18-carat rose gold pin-buckle clasp. The Sofia is available in pink, blue, beige, gray, and

Part of the Ocean Collection, the Harry

Winston Ocean Moon Phase 36mm is a glamorous revamp of one of the brand’s most iconic designs, refining the timepiece’s traditionally sporty aesthetics with soft, feminine colours, delicate detailing, new-look lugs, arches, and crown, and 163 brilliantcut diamonds totalling 3.33 carats. The dial is an ethereal, gem-set baby blue mother-of-pearl, featuring a central moon phase covered with an openwork grid, and 58 diamonds that look like stars dancing across the sky. Protecting the dial is the 18-carat rose gold case, covered by strong sapphire crystal. The case sits on a smooth, shiny taupe alligator strap that fastens around the wrist with an 18-carat rose gold adrillon buckle boasting 42 diamonds. The Ocean Moon Phase 36mm is also available in four other variations featuring different metals, dials, and bracelets.

Combining classic aesthetics with distinctly modern style, Bulgari’s new Lucea Luxury Watches are a collection of gorgeous timepieces that pay tribute to the subtle nuances of the female personality, and honour the brand’s Roman heritage with their sundial-inspired design, The collection boasts 12 models ranging in size from 28mm to 33mm that come in an array of materials and finishes, but the standout is the 33mm 18-carat rose gold model adorned with brilliant-cut diamonds. The black opaline dial is finished with a guilloché soleil treatment and set with diamond indexes, and is surrounded by the diamond-studded bezel, while the 18-carat rose gold crown features a pink cabochon-cut stone and diamonds, which highlight the pink undertones in the metal. Inspired by Bulgari’s Serpenti jewellery collection, the 18-carat rose gold bracelet is a chain of links that alternate plain and diamond-adorned pieces that provide geometric detail.



W inter W onderland ‘Tis the the season to be jolly because Christmas, the world’s most anticipated holiday, is just around the corner. Watch as candy canes and presents spread love and joy, and check out five of the world’s best public Christmas trees to really get you in that warm, festive mood. By Sakshi Kaushik


loating on the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon in Rio de Janeiro, the Bradesco Seguros Christmas Tree has made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the tallest

of its kind. The 85-metre behemoth attracts over 100,000 visitors for the Christmas Eve fireworks display, which gets the town geared up for its famous New Year’s Eve celebrations on Copacabana Beach.


n December 3, New York City will celebrate one of its most iconic events of the

year with the lighting of the Rockerfeller Center Christmas Tree. This 23-metre Norwegian Spruce will see 45,000 multi-coloured light bulbs come to life and will be crowned with the famous ‘Swarovski Star.’ The tree will be lit until January 7, 2015.


he world’s highest in-store tree is Paris’ Galeries Lafayatte Christmas Tree. Set in one of the city’s most upmarket department stores, the tree will sit under the iconic domed stained glass roof, and will be decked with lavish and vibrantly coloured ornaments. A toy village at its base will spring to life every hour.


celebration of religion can be seen at the Vatican City as the Pope unveils the Saint Peter’s Square Christmas Tree every holiday season. The City receives its tree as

a gift from a different European country each year, and is installed with a life-size nativity scene with figurines that date back to the late 1800s.


alaysia’s LEGOLAND Christmas Tree is made entirely from lego, making Asia’s tallest tree a treat for kids and adults alike. This nine-metre structure is fashioned from over 400,000 blocks, and has roughly 300 baubles for stars, chains, and candles. From the end of November to the end of January, the tree will be lit up every night from 7pm onwards.



OF THE SUN Your winter break might not take you to a sunkissed island, but you can still get that glow with these easy-travelling products. By Sakshi Kaushik Winter doesn’t have to mean dry, pasty skin when you can brighten it with a warm, natural glow thanks to the Laura Mercier Radiance Baked Body Bronzer. With vitamin E and jojoba oil in the ultra-lightweight formula, the bronzer not only provides a multidimensional, luminous finish, but also moisturises and protects skin from free radicals. Smooth and silky, and presented in an easy to use compact, the longwearing eight-hour powder lets you step off the plane with a sheer, warm dose of colour.

Scent memory is powerful, and a whiff of Michael Kors’ Sexy Rio de Janeiro eau de parfum will take you straight back to those warm, sultry summer evenings. At the heart of the scent is luxurious gardenia and jasmine absolute, softened by the sweet freshness of mandarin, honeysuckle, and Brazilian mango, while indulgent notes of sandalwood, Tahitian vanilla, and musk bring a warm finish. The seductive, sophisticated fragrance is a perfect ode to the sensual charms of the iconic Brazilian city. With femininity, grace, and sensuality captured in an alluring bottle, women will be taken back to Rio de Janeiro with every spritz.

If you’re going for that smoky, smouldering look that hints of wild summer nights, look no further than the limited-edition Bobbi Brown Bobbi’s Chocolates Long-Wear Eye Trio. Designed with the modern woman in mind, Bobbi’s Chocolates features two Long-Wear Cream Shadows in velvety Praline and shimmery Bronze Sugar shades, along with smudge-resistant, waterproof Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Dark Chocolate to create intense definition that lasts up to 12 hours. With a mini Dual-Ended Cream Shadow/Ultra-Fine Eyeliner Brush, the set brings some summertime smoulder to dreary winter days.

Special Promotional Section

Classic luxury IN THE

Lion city

original works, the hotel’s art collection includes pieces by Pablo Picasso, Marc Chagall, and Frank Gehry – and homegrown talent like Georgette Chen and Cheong Soo Pieng – which capture the confluence of East and West that Singapore is known for. Guests can explore the art collection with The Art of Living, the art tour that runs at 6pm every day.


regal structure located on the crossroads where the high-end shopping boulevard of Orchard Road meets the diplomatic enclave of Tanglin, The St. Regis Singapore is an oasis of classic elegance and unfettered luxury. Designed by internationally acclaimed architects WATG, and featuring interiors by Wilson Associates, the hotel is a study in refined, timeless style that continues the legacy built by John Jacob Astor IV, who created the first St. Regis in New York more than a century ago. The St. Regis Singapore boasts 299 opulent guest rooms and suites, each of which is bedecked with plush custom furniture, handpainted Chinoiserie silk wallpaper, elegant designer fabrics, and soft, neutral hues punctuated with bursts of striking colour. Each room comes with all the luxuries one would expect of a world-class five-star hotel, including 42-inch flatscreens, iPod docking, Bose lifestyle systems, Sealy pillow-top mattresses, automatic blackout roller blinds, and spacious French marble bathrooms with rainforest showers, double vanities, and amenities by Laboratoire Remède. All guest rooms have access to the St. Regis’ legendary butler service, which sees ever-

present yet unobtrusive personal butlers on hand to create bespoke experiences for every guest. The personalised attention includes services ranging from packing and unpacking luggage, garment pressing, shoe shining, and even a beverage service which sees butlers bring coffee and newspapers to your room after your morning wake up call.

Epicureans will also delight in the gourmet offerings to be found at The St. Regis Singapore, which includes cuisine from across the world. At Brasserie Les Saveurs, guests will feast on natural elegant French dining that runs the gamut from comfort foods and regional favourites to fine-dining degustation menus, while trattoria-style Italian cuisine bursting with fresh flavours and seasonal produce can be sampled at the poolside LaBrezza. For Asian fare, guests indulge in authentic Cantonese food – rendered in classic and innovative modern dishes – at the contemporary Cantonese restaurant Yan Ting. The St. Regis brand is known for its signature Bloody Mary cocktail, and there’s no better place to try it than at the hotel’s Astor Bar, a thoroughly sophisticated cocktail divan dressed in wood and leather, and Picasso prints, that was named for the brand’s founder.

Art aficionados will relish The St. Regis Singapore’s collection of sculptures, paintings, and prints by internationally renowned artists. Considered one of the finest private art collections in South East Asia, and with over 70

A luxurious icon of timeless elegance offering luxe accommodation, excellent service, a standout art collection, and sumptuous dining, The St. Regis Singapore offers guests an unparalleled experience in the Lion City.


SMART LUGGAGE, SMART TRAVELLER Ever watched your luggage bump its way off the check-in scale and wonder where it was going? Ever run out of juice and need a place to plug in your phone? Or perhaps you’ve lost that vital valise and dreamed of a day when it could be traced in real time? The time, it seems, it upon us.


ew York-based Bluesmart has created the world’s first bona fide smart carry-on suitcase. The case, which is presently attracting crowdfunding on Indiegogo, connects to a user’s smartphone via a dedicated Bluetooth app, allowing them to lock and unlock it remotely, check its weight, receive alerts, and track it during travel. The app also syncs with online travel services to provide users with weather and delay reports, aiding the process of packing. The case won’t stop airlines losing your luggage but will increase the odds of you getting back your belongings while making the travel experience all the more smoother. “We came up with the idea for Bluesmart after suffering a couple of bad experiences with our luggage, when airlines forced us to check bags only to have them mishandled or lost,” says co-founder of Bluesmart, Tomi Pierucci. “We realised that with all the amazing technology available today, we could do better. Suitcases haven't seen much innovation in decades, so we decided to design a suitcase for this century.” Another vital feature is the 3.8kg case’s built-in battery charger, which has a capacity to charge a smartphone or tablet up to six times. A proximity sensor locks the case automatically when it’s separated from its user, and protected compartments for laptops and other electronic devices can be accessed without opening the main compartment, a plus during airport security runs. “More than 25 million bags are lost or mishandled by airlines every year,” explains Bluesmart co-founder Brian Chen. “This causes great pains to travellers all over the world. With the advent of microcomputers and the internet, we have the opportunity to prevent these problems while providing a smarter option to travellers of the connected generation.”

AUTO 111




ocused on visionary vehicle concepts, inspirational design, and a new take on the meaning of premium, with sustainability as a key defining element, BMW’s first plug-in hybrid vehicle represents a distinctly forwardlooking and sustainability-focused marque that marries surprising horsepower with green technology. Combining the BMW eDrive with a 1.5-litre Twin Power Turbo threecylinder petrol engine and an electric motor, the first BMW production model to have this combination, the revolutionary 2015 BMW i8 has a joint power output of 362hp; despite the ability to sprint up to 100km/hr in just 4.4 seconds, the BMW i8 boasts record low 2.1L/100km fuel consumption and heralds a future of high-performance hybrids. With its ultra-dynamic proportions,

BMW’s revolutionary new i8 hybrid marries power and performance with environmentally-friendly innovation, discovers Nick Walton.

elegantly sporty lines, low-slung silhouette, and innovative design features, the BMW i8 represents a new generation of sports car; one that revels in its new and exciting aerodynamic features, but is proud of its green credentials. Distinct design aspects include blue or silver accents on the kidney grille, "stream flow" side contours at the rear, U-shaped daytime running lights in the headlights (laser headlights are also an added option), as well as U-shaped taillights. An aggressive stance is accentuated by tall wheel arches and an almost joinedup kidney grille, which makes for an extremely low frontal appearance. Of course, gull wings ensure a car that not only performs, but looks like no other. Using design innovation dubbed LifeDrive architecture, engineers were able to reduce both drag and weight by splitting the car into two; the two main components of the BMW i8 – the

Life module, which includes a carbonfibre reinforced plastic passenger cell, and the Drive module, which houses all the drive and chassis technology, can be seen interacting and overlapping in the car’s profile, and adds to an extremely low centre of gravity for the high-performance hybrid. Further stability comes from the centrally mounted model-specific 7.1kWh capacity lithium battery, which can be charged using a conventional household power socket, at a BMW I Wallbox, or at public charging stations. The i8's environmental sensitivity extends to the cockpit, where the leather has been tanned using all-natural olive leaf extract, and the accent textiles are made from an innovative recycling process. Environmentally-sensitive, inside and out, but with no sacrifice in power, the BMW i8 hybrid will herald a new era of mean green machines. From HK$2,455,000.


immigrants, tacos al pastoris is often called the city’s signature dish. Pork, infused with cumin, garlic, dried chilies, and pineapple shavings, is cooked on a vertical rotisserie called a trompo and is thinly sliced and served in tacos. The staff of El Huequito , a hole in the wall in the city’s Historic Centre, has been perfecting this art since 1959, and serves heaven on a plate garnished with chopped onions, cilantro, lime juice, and spicy salsa. www.

Chow Down Like a

C HILANGO Gastronomic fare can be found in every nook and cranny of Mexico City, and there’s definitely more to it than just nachos. Here are four things you need to try before you leave. By Sakshi Kaushik


ochinitapilbil, meaning ‘buried baby pig’, blends ancient Mayan cooking practices with influences from the Spanish conquistadors. The dish features suckling pig marinated in annatto seeds and juices from lime and bitter oranges, wrapped in banana leaves, and roasted in a fire pit. El Turix , a taqueria

in the Polanco district, is famous for its cochinitapilbil and serves the dish with a generous helping of refried beans and red pickled onions on a corn tortilla. Emilio Castelar 212, Col. Polanco, +52 55 5280 6449 Inspired by shawarma, spit-grilled meats brought to the city by Lebanese

Huarache is a true local dish that features all the authentic flavours of Mexico City. Oblong shaped pieces of bread made from masa, corn dough made from fresh hominy, form a base that is then layered with ground beef, red salsa, guacamole, onions, and potatoes. El Huarache Azteca in Artes Graficas, Venustiano Carranza, whips up these local favourites and dresses the huaraches with queso fresco, a creamy cheese, refried beans, and a side of cactus salad, leaving a zesty aftertaste. For those with a bit of a sweet tooth, a warm mug of atole is a must try. This traditional beverage is made with masa brewed in milk or water, and is sweetened and flavoured with varying combinations of piloncillo (unrefined cane sugar), chocolate, cinnamon, vanilla, egg, ground nuts, and orange zest. In a beautiful two-storey building that faces the Plaza Santa Caterina, Las Lupitas , a familystyle restaurant, is known throughout the city for its cinnamon atole with milk and claims it to be the best in the universe.

Special Promotional Section



Special Promotional Section

One of the most important and colourful festivals on the Chinese calendar, the Lunar New Year is a huge event celebrated by the majority of Macau’s population.

Special Promotional Section


his year, Macau’s Chinese New Year festivities will kick off on February 19 at the Ruins of St. Paul’s and Senado Square. The opening ceremony will feature dancing lions and a golden dragon, along with plenty of firecrackers, to welcome the Year of the Goat. The God of Fortune will also be on hand to distribute ‘Lai Si,’ the ubiquitous red packets, to guests, bestowing prosperity for the year ahead. A highlight of the celebrations each year is the parade that winds its way across all of Macau’s major tourist attractions. This year, the parade will be led by a 238-metre long golden dragon, which will be accompanied by lively lions. An emblem of joy and a symbol of virtue, truth, and sincerity, red is the colour most associated with Chinese New Year and Macau, like most cities that celebrate the holiday, will be decked in shades of red as everything from candies and cakes to decorations and clothing sports this vibrant hue. There are many traditions associated with Chinese New Year, ranging from huge public displays to smaller, more personal customs. During the festive period, people greet each

other with “Kung Hei Fat Choy,” a blessing of good wishes and fortunes; while to confer hopes of good luck and prosperity for the coming year, red envelopes containing money – referred to as Lai Si – are distributed among friends and relatives. Many also make their annual pilgrimage to their favourite temples to make offerings to the deities in the hopes of getting into their good graces and ensuring good fortune for the year ahead. Publically, cities often host massive parties and parades for Chinese New Year, among which revellers will find flamboyantly decorated floats, never-ending dragon and lion dances, and other entertainment, on streets strewn with lanterns, flowers, and other traditional decorations. The celebrations usually culminate in a spectacular fireworks show that lights up the night sky for hours on end. Along with the opening ceremony and the parade, Macau will host a series of festivities to usher in the Year of the Goat.

The twelve characters of the Chinese Zodiac, along with the Gods of Happiness, Prosperity, Longevity, and Fortune, will parade around the town during the Lunar New Year to greet the public and distribute ‘Lai Si.’ The festivities will be preceded by the Lunar New Year Fair, which will be held at Tap Seac Square from February 11 – 17 and February 18. Temple visits are another Lunar New Year tradition, and a favourite spot in Macau is the 16th century A-Ma temple – a UNESCO World Heritage Site - situated on the southwest tip of Macau. One of the oldest – and most famous – temples in Macau, it has been a popular site for pilgrims for hundreds of years, and has more recently become a major attraction for tourists. Also worth a visit is the Kun Iam Temple. One of Macau’s Three Ancient temples, it boasts a colossal entrance and open courtyards. Welcome the Year of the Goat in style with a culture-packed visit to Macau this February.

2015 Lunar New Year Fair Venue: TAP SEAC SQUARE

11/02/2015 – 17/02/2015 18/02/2015

09:00-00:00 09:00-02:00




Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., USA October 16, 2014 – April 12, 2015


n a world conditioned by the

presents fourteen installations that

frantic, 24/7 flow of information

offer prismatic vantage points into the

and the ephemerality of digital

suspension and attenuation of time or



that create a sense of timelessness.

artists are countering these tendencies

Themes of these captivating images,

with works that emphasise slower, more


meditative forms of perception. Days of

DeadSee (pictured), include escape,

Endless Time, on show at the Hirshhorn

solitude, enchantment, and the thrall of

Museum in Washington D.C. until April,






118 TECHNOLOGY Taking awesome pictures is one thing, but what about being able to change the focus and perspective after the fact? Lytro has released its latest state-of-the-art light field camera, the

LytroIllum, an advanced, professional-grade version of its boxy first generation model. With a 40-megaray light field sensor, 8x optical zoom range, constant f/2.0 aperture, and a high-speed shutter capable of freezing motion under a wide variety of conditions, the Illum’s massive computing power and innovative software allows users to adjust aspects of images that were previously fixed, such as focus, tilt, perspective shift, and depth of field. In addition, the camera's proprietary software platform enables users to view images in 3D, build custom animations, export images into common formats like JPEG, and share to the web or mobile devices. From US$1,599.


Convergence continues its relentless march, which is great news for travelling technophilies looking for the latest battery-powered travelling companions. By Nick Walton Go to extremes with the new Ricoh WG-M1 action camera with built-in WiFi. The newest addition to Ricoh’s collection of rugged action cams, the WG-M1 is waterproof to 9.7-meters, cold proof to -10°C, and able to withstand a fall of two metres. With its ultra wide-angle lens you’ll be able to capture every aspect of your travels in high resolution stills and full HD movies, review them in the built-in LCD screen, and then upload them to smartphones or laptops in seconds. From US$299.

Cut the wires and don a pair of Philips’ new Bluetooth

NFC in-ear headphones. With easy one-touch NFC connectivity, these are ideal for travel. Finely engineered in solid brass, and featuring IPX2 sweat and moisture proofing, these tiny, light-weight in-ear headphones are durable for the long road ahead. Enjoy balanced sound from both MP3 players or smartphones thanks to finely tuned drivers and in-ear seals, and answer calls on the run with wireless Bluetooth music and call controls at your fingertips.


The perfect tablet for Apple fans, the new iPad Air 2, the brand’s thinnest and most powerful iPad ever, is just 6.1mm thick and weighs less than 0.4kg. Available in gold, silver, and space gray, the new iPad Air 2 is made with anodized aluminum, and features a new custom-designed anti-reflective coating on its improved Retina display, which reduces glare by 56 percent for a clearer display in the office, the classroom, or outdoors. A new Touch ID feature allows users to unlock their iPad with the touch of a finger and make purchases easily and securely within apps using Apple Pay, while the new Apple-designed A8X chip delivers a 40 percent improvement in CPU performance and 2.5 times the graphics performance of iPad Air, with an impressive 10-hour battery life. From US$499.

In a significant step up from its previous model, the Moto X 2014 by Motorola combines sophisticated looks with more processing power. With full customisation - it’s available in 17 colours with a choice of four wood or four leather backs – this new handset is ringed with metal and boasts a larger 5.2-inch AMOLED 1920x1080 full HD display. Powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 801 quad core 2.5GHz CPU as the Galaxy S5 or LG G3, the more powerful Moto X 2014 comes with 16 or 32G of internal storage, but sadly, no microSD card slot. The 13MP rear and 2MP front cameras have been improved, and the popular Moto Display, which allows for buttonless notifications, and Moto Actions, which allows you to silence the phone or snooze alarms with the wave of a hand, are already proving keepers.

Sitting perfectly between the full frame D610 and D810 digital SLRs, the Nikon D750 takes the best of both previous models, with a powerful sensor and additional maneuverability. The smallest and lightest Nikon FX-format camera yet, the D750 offers experienced amateur and advanced photographers incredible image quality, and the addition of sought-after functionalities like built-in Wi-Fi, a tilting monitor, 24.3 megapixels, a 91K-pixel RGB CMOS sensor, and an outstanding high-speed continuous shooting rate. Ideal for world wanderers looking to capture exceptional images, the D750 is strong, lightweight, and user friendly, with an advanced EXPEED 4 image processing engine, full HD movie recording, and a new movie shooting menu, viewed on the new tilting monitor.


Time Travelling Pictures capture moments in time, and in the pages of these books, carefully compiled collections of images explore time and place through visual means. By Gayatri Bhaumik MARK TWAIN’S AMERICA: A CELEBRATION IN WORDS AND IMAGES Harry L. Katz and The Library of Congress Little, Brown and Company Considered one of America’s first major celebrity authors, Samuel Clemens – or Mark Twain, as he’s commonly known – shaped national dialogue through the pithy wisdom and cultural commentary dispensed in timeless stories like The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Having lived through pivotal moments in America's history while living a life of many incarnations – he was at various times a gold prospector, a journalist, and a public speaker – Twain’s life is the perfect means of tracing US history. Katz marries lively narrative and extracts from Twain’s novels and travel writing with 300 visual gems from the Library of Congress collections to explore America between 1850 and 1910. A book as much about the man as the country, Mark Twain’s America uses compelling visuals – like an illustration from The Times that’s a pointed attack by artist Edward W. Clay on the Treasury policies of President Andrew Jackson – to shore up his efforts to explore Twain’s impact on American culture, and put American history into context. The result is an engaging, aesthetically appealing coffee table book that presents a personal history of 19th century America.


Compiled by Bradley L. Garrett Prestel

Take normally inaccessible sites under London and 12 photographers adept with clever lighting tricks and artistic perspective, and you get Subterranean London, a fascinating series of images capturing the eerie underground world that lies beneath the city’s streets. Handlaid brick sewers, abandoned tube stations, Second World War evacuation shelters, secret government bunkers, and infrastructure grids feature in these haunting images which document the forbidden infiltrations of ‘urban explorers’ into the secret bowels of London. Divided into themed sections, Garrett's book takes you through ever-descending levels of London’s history through a detailed exploration of its underground architecture. From Sir Joseph Bazalgette’s 19th-century drainage system in ‘Water’ to ‘Fresh Bore,’ which shows the new National Grid 60 metres underground, and everything literally in between, it's not surprising Garrett hopes that his book "will also become a historical document, reminding viewers long into the future of what London was, and what was possible here, at this point in time.” The result is a unique, fascinating perspective on one of the world’s major cities and its history, as well as a tribute to the incredible feats of engineering that make it run.

ON THE ROAD WITH TEXAS HIGHWAYS: A TRIBUTE TO TRUE TEXAS J. Griffis Smith Texas A&M University Press Described by fellow shutterbugs as a ‘galactic force,’ Smith – former photo editor of Texas Highways magazine – revelled in capturing images of ‘true’ Texas while dashing across the state on assignments. In his new book, Smith brings the Lone Star state to colourful life by adroitly capturing texture, depth, space, and emotion. Spanning three decades, the images present different visual representations of Texas, and simultaneously document the state’s development over that period. All of Texas is depicted here, from icons like the State Capital and Willie Nelson to the landscapes of Corpus Christi and Amarillo, and even historical sites like The Alamo; best of all, Smith’s day job granted him access to some of the most unusual places in the state, ranging from courthouse cupolas and backstage dressing rooms to ghost towns and dance halls. Smith juxtaposes his photos with commentary that takes the reader into the photographer’s mindset, using stories from the road and describing moments in time to contextualise his work. Having retired this summer, Smith’s book is a fitting epilogue to a dynamic career behind the lens, and a rich visual guide to Texas.

Profile for Jetsetter

Jetsetter winter 2014 2015 issue  

JETSETTER winter 2014/14 Asia's leading luxury travel and lifestyle magazine.

Jetsetter winter 2014 2015 issue  

JETSETTER winter 2014/14 Asia's leading luxury travel and lifestyle magazine.