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THE LUXURY ISSUE IN TRANSIT PIN IT Culture and croissants: First-class travel for A guide to the furry friends, plus perfect day in Paris new railway decadence

FEATURES The German town overrun with Michelin stars

COVET Thrilling aviation photography from Laird Kay

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Travel’s luxury sector is wooing man’s best friend with spas, food and more. in






How a tiny German town in the Black Forest has become one of the world’s top culinary destinations.


Wrap yourself in warmth — ­ and style — with Montreal’s Mackage.



Instagram feeds to obsess over, and a test drive of the Hotel Tonight app.



Five incredible trips that will liven up your winter calendar.




Hotels are expanding into members-only clubs to bring travellers together.



New levels of decadence await with Chanel set to open a spa at the Ritz-Carlton in Paris.

Musician Anne Le Gal offers an art-infused tour of the City of Light.


Far and Wide Collective artist Shugufa Yousofzai is a jewellery designer who’s making noise.


Learn how to make the perfect bed with tips from Ireland’s Ashford Castle.


Photographer Laird Kay combines his loves of flying and fashion with a new line of clothing.








Luxury is coming to train travel in the form of lounges, lush cabins and live entertainment.



The world’s most expensive dark chocolate comes from the jungles of Ecuador.


The ultimate weekend and carry-on bag is here: Voyager by This is Ground.



In Mozambique, the high life comes with a backdrop of civil war and social strife.


4 Contributors/Masthead 5 Editor’s letter



Hotels are opting for menu choices and in-room experiences that are deluxe — and sometimes digital. QF high tailing to LHR. Photo by Laird Kay. Read more at






Maryam Siddiqi DEPUTY EDITOR

Alex Laws


Federica Maraboli


Karen Cleveland COPY EDITOR

Aviva Guidis


Barry Hertz, Tim Johnson, Lauren Marinigh, Rani Sheen, Michele Sponagle CREATIVE DIRECTOR



TIM JOHNSON Writer, The Lure of Luxury, Page 26 Tim writes for North America’s biggest magazines and newspapers including The Globe and Mail, American Way, enRoute, Maclean’s and Robb Report. He’s visited 107 countries on all seven continents. DREAM LUXE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE “I rode Trans-Siberian’s Trans-Mongolian route from Beijing to Moscow a few years back in a down-and-dirty, second-class cabin. I have plans to retrace these tracks in style on the Tsar’s Golden Train, which takes you along the same route but with gourmet meals, white-glove treatment and, most importantly, on-board showers.”

KAREN CLEVELAND Associate Editor, Furst Class, Page 14, and Bittersweet Reward, Page 18 A Toronto-based writer, Karen is happiest with carry-on luggage and a notepad in hand, and not a screen to be seen — aside from the flight status board. She has contributed to Fashion, Where, National Post, Global News, CBC, Toronto Star and more. DREAM LUXE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE “I love the idea of going off the grid — a small-but-wellappointed beach house, with a steady flow of fresh fish, fruit and rum, preferably on a beach with a clean breaking right wave. Return flight optional.”



sales@ lacartemagazine lacartemag lacartemag


AVIVA GUIDIS Copy Editor As well as finding and fixing La Carte’s typos, Aviva spends her days obsessing over apostrophes and commas as a bilingual copy editor at an awardwinning ad agency in Toronto. She is also a selfproclaimed beach expert and is counting down the days until her next vacation. DREAM LUXE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE “I would love to fly — first class, of course — to the Maldives and stay in one of the beautiful over-water villas, or maybe relax on Necker Island, Richard Branson’s private plot of land in the British Virgin Islands.”

BARRY HERTZ Writer, A Peek Behind the Curtain, Page 15, and Room Service Remodelled, Page 32 Besides being a regular contributor to La Carte, Barry is the film editor and deputy arts editor for The Globe and Mail, where he oversees entertainment coverage. His life and culture writing has also been featured in NOW magazine and the Canadian edition of Reader’s Digest. DREAM LUXE TRAVEL EXPERIENCE “I’d love to fly on a private jet — for the luxury of it all, sure, but also the ability, for whatever reason, to bypass most airport security protocol.”





First-class fantasies Luxury travel comes in many forms — an exclusive dinner, taking the scenic route to a destination, or simply a well-made bed. Heck, at times, the biggest treat is having an empty seat next to you on a long flight — like the one I’m currently taking advantage of as I type this en route from Stockholm. Other decadent experiences — from gourmet meals to clandestine clubs, spa retreats to handcrafted luggage — now cater to luxury travellers more than ever. In our second issue, we take a peek behind the first-class curtain to investigate this increasingly competitive market.  It really is a dog’s life in Karen Cleveland’s “Furst Class,” which explores luxurious amenities especially designed for pets to enjoy (Page 14). She also writes about treats for hu-

mans in the form of dark chocolate that, quite literally, is worth its weight in gold (Page 18). Meanwhile, Michele Sponagle indulges herself in Baiersbronn, a town in Germany’s Black Forest that is brimming with Michelin-starred chefs (Page 20). And as proof that some destinations feel special on any budget, musician Anne Le Gal’s itinerary for a perfect day in Paris is packed with, well, Paris (Page 10). We hope you enjoy the stories in the following pages and that, even if you can’t afford the world’s most expensive chocolate bar, they inspire you to spoil yourself on your next holiday. Let us know what you think of this issue by emailing hello@lacartemag. com, or getting in touch with us via Facebook and Twitter (@lacartemag).

Top: London’s St. Pancras railway station, home to a plush lounge for Eurostar business travellers. Above: Editor Maryam Siddiqi in Paris.





Fringe benefits

If there’s anyone who knows how to stay warm and still dress well in winter, it’s Eran Elfassy and Elisa Dahan, the duo behind Mackage, the chic Montreal-based fashion label that specializes in outerwear. Their expertise is crafting functional, hard-working pieces with lush detailing — modern, understated designs with a bit of edge, just the sort of look found on fall/ winter 2015/2016 runways in New York, London and Paris. Take this Raya double-face wool scarf ($295), a blend of 80 per cent wool and 20 per cent nylon with a luxurious genuine lambskin trim. A simple swath of cozy wool given a personality by a wild leather fringe, the scarf is perfect for bracing against the elements, whether walking down the street or sitting on a long-haul flight. Mackage, which in October opened a shop in Montreal, its second store after the company’s flagship in New York’s Soho, is sold in 20 countries around the world. LA CARTE




ALL-STAR ALBUMS With literally millions of posts hashtagged #travel,

#travelling and #traveller, looking for itinerary inspiration via Instagram can leave you spoiled for choice. To help you cut through the clutter, here are four of our favourites whose feeds are full of beautifully shot portraits, architecture, scenery and, yes, food. Go on and give that follow button a workout.


Maryam Siddiqi tests HotelTonight

What’s a traveller to do when Airbnb options are only offered at hotel prices? It was the predicament I found myself in while visiting Venice in the height of summer this year. Mamma mia. Time to try HotelTonight. After plugging dates into the app, options started to appear in a range of prices — along with photos, both from @THISWILDIDEA When his relationship went south, photographer Theron Humphrey took to the road to hit all the U.S. states with his pup. Maddie, a rescue dog, has a talent for standing on things, which Humphrey documents against stunning backdrops in this delightful account and the book it led to, Maddie on Things.

@WHERESMYOFFICENOW Emily and Corey are a couple who traded their New England lives for a VW Vanogan, which they share with their dog Penny Rose, in 2013. They chronicle their journeys via beautiful photography mixed with tips on how to survive life in a van.

properties and previous app users, as well as succinct and detailed write-ups of each hotel. I booked a night at Hotel Antiche Figure, which HotelTonight dubs charming, and it was, perched on the water’s edge with an outdoor patio for breakfast and aperitivos. The app’s “Why We Like It” page gave me a good idea of what to expect, while detailing need-to-knows (including a notice about city tax being collected by the hotel upon departure), plus booking was simple (pick hotel, hit book and I was set). Sexier than

@NICOLE_FRANZEN If you find the best way to get a feel of a place is through its people, this one’s for you. Photographer Nicole Franzen captures the essences of everywhere she goes by profiling local people and telling their charming stories. 8


@GIRLEATWORLD Melissa Hie is on a mission to eat her way around the world. Each of her creative shots features a local delicacy photographed against a cultural landmark, combining food and travel to whet your appetite for both. — Alex Laws

TripAdvisor, easier than going through hotels’ own websites, and yes, often just as affordable as Airbnb.



A SONG OF ICE AND FIRE (AND SEA AND SKY) Whether you’re looking up to the electrically lit heavens or diving down into Caribbean waters, this winter, plan your trips based on the elements By Alex Laws

No. If a winter weekend at the cottage seems like a dream but the work involved in prep and maintenance throughout the year seems like a 1 nightmare, consider the family-owned Glendorn Lodge. The Relais & Château property sits on a 1,500-acre wooded estate in northern Pennsylvania, and guests can choose from one of 12 luxe cabins. Though labelled the Girlfriends Getaway package, the following two-night stay can be enjoyed by anyone in need of unwinding: a full day at the on-property spa, which uses seasonally foraged ingredients in its treatments, a cooking class and wine and cheese tastings, plus a private bonfire accompanied by house-made s’mores. Packages start at US$3,358.30, double occupancy, not including spa services (though guests receive a 5 per cent discount). Don’t forget your board games for the true cottage experience.

No. The recent arrival of the St. Regis ho2 tel in Mumbai, the Starwood hotel chain’s 34th, makes it possible to experience India with new levels of decadence. Located in the commercial district of Lower Parel, it has the country’s tallest hotel tower — and the city’s highest bar and nightclub — overlooking both the metropolis and the Arabian sea, and contains four world-class restaurants and three bars. Save time for a meal at Seven Kitchens, known for its brunch. No. Christmas lights are nice, but they’re 3 nothing compared to what’s up north. Nature Tours of Yukon has exclusive packages for groups of up to six people to see the

Northern Lights. Travelling to the Yukon and Arctic Circle to capture the aurora borealis and landscape of the snow-covered northern mountains might not sound like luxury, but the once-in-a-lifetime views are the stuff bucket lists are made of. (No wonder photographers are encouraged.) Seven-day trips run from November to March, from $2,395. No. Shake off winter with Ride and Seek 4 via kid-friendly cycling tours in coastal Vietnam so that the whole family can take in the southeast Asian country’s rich heritage sites and national parks — and stay in fourstar hotels along the way. March 20-26, 2016. Prices start at US$2,995.

No. A new dive centre on the Southern 5 Grenadines’ private island of Petit St. Vincent offers PADI certifications, marine-biologist-guided underwater diving tours and education on the area’s marine ecosystems. It should be noted that the centre wasn’t opened by just anyone: Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of Jacques, is the one behind the operation. Beyond the standard PADI courses, Cousteau Diving runs children’s courses as well as specialty classes for night diving and other niche underwater exploration. And as of early 2016, the country will be served by direct flights from the U.S., Canada and Europe, thanks to the new Argyle International Airport. LA CARTE




And morning, noon and evening. Musician and Indie Travel Guides co-founder Anne Le Gal gives us an art-infused tour of the City of Light. By Federica Maraboli





Enjoy a visual feast at the gallery Le Bal.



The best butter croissant in the city can be found at Sébastien Gaudard.

aris. The city of light, of love — and of luxury if recent hotel (re) openings by Hôtel de Crillon, the Ritz and the Peninsula are any indication. But it’s also a city oozing with creativity, which is why Anne Le Gal, journalist, musician and co-founder of the recently launched Indie Travel Guides, is the ideal tour guide for a decadent day in the city. Her travel app, created with the help of a global network of musicians and artists, offers a smartly curated series of guides that cater to culturally alternative interests and creative pursuits, featuring hidden gems you’re not likely to find on your own. Through her passionately creative lens, Le Gal has created a route through the Montmartre and Bastille neighbourhoods that features price points both high and low. BUTTER ME UP “I don’t generally wake up early, but if I do it’s a good excuse to pop down to the local bakery on rue des Martyrs, Sébastien Gaudard, for a coffee and butter croissant. The croissant au beurre here is the best in the city. It’s also the most expensive (€1,40) but well worth the price for the rich buttery flavour!” VISUAL INSPIRATION “I like to begin my day with friends by taking them to Le Bal. It’s a unique photo exhibition venue launched by the famous French photojournalist Raymond Depardon. It examines the image in all its forms: photography, video, new media, and the artists’ works are always passionate, bold and experimental. Surprisingly, it’s not that crowded most of the time and they have a nice café with American-inspired food and amazing French cakes. It’s a nice, quiet place to relax and enjoy brunch before the exhibition.” FASHION FOR A SONG “After that, one of my favourite places is Balades Sonores. It used to be a tiny record shop but the owner expanded it recently and the other side is a clothing shop run by his girlfriend, a fashion designer. She makes beautiful handmade clothing with a lot of personality and sensibility that feature her drawings, so each piece is unique. It’s actually the cheapest place to get handmade clothing in Paris — T-shirts are from €20. Nearby is an amazing vintage furniture shop called Nationale 7, with tasteful pieces from the ’50s and ’60s. It’s expensive, but a music lover’s dream. In the basement, there’s another indie

pop-rock record shop, Ground Zero, where you can find some great additions for your music collection.” A STORYBOOK AFTERNOON “A little further north is La Boutique du Livre Animé, a store that specializes in pop-up books. The entrance is hidden off the street and you’d never know it was there except for a small sign over the doorbell. They have an amazing collection of pop-ups, old school stuff from a century ago to very recent books by new designers. It’s open to everyone but because they don’t advertise, only book lovers tend to know about it. You can spend hours browsing all the books and you feel like a kid with the shop all to yourself.” NOT YOUR AVERAGE STREET MEAT “By now it’s mid-after-

noon and brunch was a long way away. When I’m with friends I like to go to a Corsican deli shop called Terra Corsa for a plate of cheese and charcuterie. In Corsica, they feed chestnuts to pigs and wild boar, so the meat is very flavourful and delicious. It’s more expensive than the basic charcuterie but worth the extra price (€25). The deli is another favourite on rue des Martyrs, a destination for Parisian foodies, and the tiny terrace out front is great for people watching — you really get the feel of being a local.” MUSICAL INTERLUDE “Now is a perfect time to visit Phonogalerie, which only opens in the afternoon. The shop sells gramophones; the pieces are obviously collectibles and you can buy one if you have a lot of money, but even if you just like music it’s very interesting. The owners are cool and don’t judge if you’re just looking. Around the corner is an actual gramophone museum where, for €10, they will explain anything about recording music and will even play gramophones for you.” DINNER AND DRINKS “In France we usually eat dinner at around 8 p.m. I go to Dune, a restaurant with a thoughtful menu of local, fresh ingredients and delicious (mostly) vegan meals at reasonable prices. It’s in the neighbourhood of Bastille where there are lots of bars and live music venues. The owners of Dune also have a bar close by called Le Motel, a well-known spot to see indie gigs. To end the night, go to La Loge to discover up-and-coming artists or to Le Café de la Danse to see a concert or play.”

Get rare vinyl and one-of-akind clothing at Balades Sonores.

Hit Dune for a (mostly) vegan dinner.



Partner with La Carte on content, contesting opportunities, newsletter integrations and more. Contact the team at to find out how your brand can be part of the next issue.


Want to live like a VIP while seeing the world from a train car? Become a member of an exclusive club and meet other like-minded travellers? Treat your pup to a first-class experience? Or, live a day as Coco Chanel would have? All of the above can be possible on your next holiday. Learn how in the following pages.

A MAP TO THE GOOD LIFE Posh Private CLUBS for travellers

SOHO HOUSE Malibu, California


Recreate the HOTEL at home ASHFORD CASTLE Cong, County Mayo, Ireland

an EPIC spa day



KEE CLUB Hong Kong


HOTEL NORTH WOODS Lake Placid, New York

RAIL EUROPE London, Paris, Brussels PULLMAN RAIL JOURNEYS Chicago, New Orleans, New York

TOP train trips

SIT ’N STAY GLOBAL Carmel, California HORNBLOWER CRUISES San Diego, California

WALDORF ASTORIA New York, New York VIA RAIL Vancouver, Toronto

pampering pets with FIRST CLASS


TO’AK Piedra de Plata, Ecuador

world’s RICHEST chocolate

LOEWS DON CESAR St. Petersburg, Florida




f the old adage “It’s a dog’s life” holds true, sign me up. Luxury travel for those with four-­legged companions is booming. Canada is home to roughly 5.9 million dogs, and most of them reside in households with higher incomes. The result? A population of pets that live really, really well — so well in fact that the luxury tourism industry has evolved to cater to them. Carol Martin founded Carmel, Calif.­-based Sit ’n Stay Global in 2006 specifically to address the demand of well-­heeled clients wanting to fly their pets on private jets. Initially focused on in-flight safety, she soon expanded services to reflect the level of luxury her human clients experienced: “We are all trained in pet nutrition as well as human nutrition and food preparation, and we present our carefully prepared pet meals with the same elegant flair that their humans enjoy: on china with spring water,” she explains. Martin introduced a “Pet Nanny” service for busy clients wherein staff join a trip and source the best pet­-friendly offerings at destinations, spend the day with the animal, and send pictures and updates to let pet parents know all is well. “Clients are demanding more and more that their pets are accepted as any other family member would be. They are seeking out locations where they will have the freedom to enjoy their travel adventures with that valued member of their family,” she adds. Beach and mountain destinations are increasingly popular, as well as options to take pets along when dining out. “Our clients feel valued by resorts and properties that treat their pets with dignity and respect,” she says. Two major airlines are welcoming pets in 14


Furst class

Don Cesar offers gourmet room-service menus for cats and dogs — beef tenderloin with eggs and brown rice or pumpkin pup cakes — prepared by the hotel’s award-­ winning master chef, as well as poolside dog massages by a professional canine massage therapist. The high life isn’t Even the old guards of luxury are down exclusively for humans with dogs. The doggie room service menu at anymore. Karen Cleveland New York’s Waldorf­Astoria features German examines posh travel shepherd’s pie and Pekingese’s duck. Pups can unwind on luxury beds, dine on fancy options for pets dishes and see the sites of the city on a complimentary dog walk during their stay. a big way. In 2009, JetBlue introduced JetFor travellers (and pets) who prefer scenic Paws, a travel program for pets that includes mountain terrain over poolside pampering or a customized carrier, pet­-specific promotions urban energy, Hotel North Woods in Lake and extra airline points. In August of this Placid is ideal. The 92­-room historic hotel ofyear, American Airlines announced its Cud- fers guests the Outward Hound experience. dle Class, a first-class section for pets for the It includes use of custom pet beds, pet dining standard $125 carry-on pet fee. stations, as well as homemade nutty maple Well-to-do dogs can get their sea legs in bacon dog treats made with Adirondack maSan Diego on Hornblower Cruises. The ple syrup. Dogs are welcomed in the outdoor Bow Wow Brunch is a special two-­hour boat areas of the hotel’s two restaurants and guests cruise that treats two-­legged guests to a dec- are provided with a guide to pet-­friendly locaadent Champagne brunch and four­-legged tions and hikes in and around Lake Placid. On guests to a pet buffet and special dog sun top of that, a portion of every pet fee charged relief area of the yacht. in the Outward Hound program is Hotels are keen to attract petdonated to the Joshua Fund, a local attached travellers, too. A dog’s breaknot­-for-­profit organization that places fast sounds like heaven at the iconic dogs in loving foster and permanent Istanbul hotel Pera Palace Hotel Juhomes, and helps Lake Placid resimeirah. Here, pet guests dine on a dents cover vet bills that they might Hotel North poached fillet of salmon or chopped not be able to afford. Woods’ nutty fillet of beef, and all meals are prepared Whatever trip is on the horizon, maple bacon dog treats. without any seasoning or bones to enrugged or luxurious, there are increassure the food is easy for animals to eat. ing options for man — and man’s best In St.Petersburg, Fla., the Loews friend.




A rendering of Gansevoort’s The Curtain in London.

A peek behind the curtain

While the price tag can be an obstacle, hotel expansion into members­-only clubs intends to bring travellers together By Barry Hertz



hat was that line that Groucho Marx once said? “I don’t want to belong to any club that would accept me as one of its members.” True, Marx was talking, in assumed jest, about his resignation from the Friar’s Club, but as the hospitality industry expands into the lucrative members-­only club market, it’s not too hard to feel like a traveller who’s on the outside looking in. What do these swishy places have that is so exclusive anyway? The reason the market is moving to more and more clubs is not to be exclusionary, per se, but rather to offer a new way of actually connecting with others, and of enjoying the best a property has to offer. Take the Gansevoort Hotel Group, which just announced the launch of The Curtain, a new property in London that’s both a hotel

and private members club. To be opened in East London’s Shoreditch area in summer 2016, the property will house 120 guest rooms and six suites, plus a club with three spaces dedicated to private members. “This is an exciting new direction for us,” Michael Achenbaum, group president for Gansevoort, said in a press release. “With the development of the hotel and the private members club, we will [inject] something fresh to create fluid, multi­layered experiences for hotel guests, members and locals alike.” Members of The Curtain Club will enjoy access to dedicated spaces for their use, including a whisky bar, music venue and a garden room. Some amenities will be shared with hotel guests, like a screening room, but there will also be events for members only.

In this way, Gansevoort is adopting the model of the ever-­ expanding Soho House, which has recently undertaken a global expansion. With both hotel properties and guest­ -only amenities, and houses across the globe, the creative outpost is fixing to become a staple of the well­-travelled creative class, with recent outposts in Istanbul, Oxfordshire and plans for a second location in New York, on the ever-­hip Lower East Side. (Plans for Mumbai, Malibu and Hong Kong are also afoot.) Of course, the Gansevoort and Soho House represent one sort of accessible luxury. For some, there is an almost impenetrable elite level of private club, where the sky is the limit. In Hong Kong, for instance, the Kee Club is the spot for transcontinental mingling and deal making, and its exclusive salon (which features the original Arne Jacobsen “Egg Chair,” of all things) regularly hosts Mick Jagger and Gwyneth Paltrow (membership is only offered via a proposer, and comes with a hefty price tag — the sort of which if you have to ask how much it is, you shouldn’t even bother). In slightly chillier climates, the Yellowstone Club is a sky haven for the ultra 0.1 per cent, where slopes are the first order of business ... well, maybe with a side billion­-dollar deal or two, as Bill Gates and Peter Chernin are also members. The cost of entry? A deposit of a mere US$300,000. And then there’s Silencio: The club with the coolest name is also one of the most inaccessible in the world. Founded by filmmaker David Lynch in 2011, the Paris club’s extremely tight membership is due to the fact that Silencio considers itself the modern­-day “successor to salons,” containing several galleries, an art library and a movie theatre. If you know somebody special, and have the financial means to do so, then, well, the world is your private club. Step right in. LA CARTE





When Chanel opens a spa in the Ritz Paris next year, it will create new levels of decadence By Rani Sheen When Chanel announced in May that it planned to open its first spa at the under­-renovation Ritz Paris, it inspired a kind of swooning reserved for the rarest of collaborations. The spa represents a perfect confluence of Parisian history (Coco Chanel was known to say, “The Ritz is my home”) and supreme branding (the two company names are recognized worldwide, without fancy accommodation). While we don’t yet know what the treatment

When it comes to recreating the hotel experience at home, it all starts with the bed By Lauren Marinigh

menu (or prices) will entail, Chanel’s results­


haps, the most enticing exfoliator in existence:

reland’s Ashford Castle was named No. 1 in the world earlier this year by Virtuoso, a network of luxury travel agents, so who better to teach the perfect bed­making technique than the team from this regal property? “We would like the guest to feel that they were being invited to have the most comfortable night’s sleep of their life,” says Mary Flannery, Ashford’s executive accommodation manager. The Castle’s cozy beds can be attributed to down and feathers: Beds are made with a feather and down baffled mattress topper, a feather and down oversized duvet and four pillows — two feather and down and two microfiber. But there’s also skill required. Here, Flannery shares her bed­making secrets. Make sure mattress protectors are the correct size, clean, neat and secured to bed with the elastic corners tucked evenly under the mattress. Start with perfectly pressed sheets. Spread pressed bottom sheet evenly over the bed. Make sure the sheet is left long enough to cover the mattress at the top, bottom and sides. Perfect sheets require perfect hospital corners. Start at the end of the bed and tuck the sheet under the mattress, leaving the sides hanging. Stand beside the bed at the corner and pull back the sheet 16


on the side to create a 45-­degree corner. Smooth the fold, and make sure it’s flush with the top of the mattress. While holding the crease in one hand, tuck the overhanging portion underneath with your other hand. Place hand on the corner of the bed and fold the crease towards you to form a straight vertical line along the corner of the bed. Smooth sheet and tuck the remainder of the sheet underneath the mattress and make sure the line is straight down. Lay top sheet on bed evenly and repeat the step above to create hospital corners. Fold the edge of

the top sheet at the top of the bed. Plump duvet and lay it on your perfect sheets. Make sure it lies evenly by using your hands. Tuck duvet under mattress at the bottom of the bed and make hospital corners on both sides. Add a bedspread on top of the duvet. Spread the bedspread evenly and fold back from top of the bed, leaving about a 30­-centimetre gap from the top of the bed — this should leave enough room for pillows to be placed on bed and the comforter to cover the pillows neatly and completely.

focused skincare line is well equipped to deliver truly satisfying treatments. It makes, perLe Weekend de Chanel, housed in a sleek white bottle encapsulating the idea that off­-duty Champagne­ fuelled carousing requires a weekly glycolic-­acid polishing to prepare one for Le Weekend de Chanel: an exfoliator worthy of the Ritz spa

the week ahead. It’s a day spa but, of course, there’s no greater luxury than emerging dazed and fully­-moisturized, and knowing bed is an elevator

ride away. The hotel itself, like many grand dames of European hospitality, was in need of a drastic refresh, undertaken over three years at a cost of €200-­million. There has been careful restoration of the personalized decor chosen by former suite residents Marcel Proust, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and Coco herself, and the addition of more contemporary features such as separate bathtubs and showers in ensuite bathrooms, and a private tunnel to the underground parking garage for paparazzi­-dodging purposes. Reservations are now open. As of March 14, 2016, for a mere €1,200 a night plus your no­doubt-­well-­worth-­it spa bill, you can climb into the lap of these enduring objets de luxe.


A bed made for royalty

context, as the ne plus ultra in fancy fashion and


Top row: The sights and tastes of a ride on the Rocky Mountaineer through Western Canada. Bottom row: VIA Rail’s new Prestige Sleeper class.



arlier this year, Great Rail Journeys, the largest rail­-based travel company in the U.K., launched its Around the World in 50 Days package, escorting travellers from London westward through the United States, Asia and Europe via train (and plane for one continent hop). The price: £21,995 (roughly $44,000), which includes time on the Venice Simplon Orient-­Express and Tsar’s Gold Private Train departing from Mongolia (though it’s a shame Canada’s own Rocky Mountaineer, the largest privately owned luxury tourist train in the world, famous for its glass­-dome roof that allows passengers to lounge back and gape at the Rockies, bubbly in hand, didn’t fit in the itinerary). But the high life on the rails is no longer exclusively reserved for epic once-­in-­a-­lifetime trips. Luxury touches can now be found everywhere from lounges at central stations to comfort in cabins and via entertainment in dining cars. “The rail industry is taking cues from the airline industry,” says Melanie Albaric, marketing and communications manager for Rail Europe. The company, particularly in hubs like London, Paris and Brussels, is actively wooing business travellers by investing in amenities such as the Business Premiere lounge, which is kitted out much like a luxe airport lounge.


Lounges with libraries, cabins with heated floors, and live music on board: Rail companies are changing the way we see train travel By Maryam Siddiqi

Albaric notes: “[The lounge] is not reserved to business travellers, since this offer is open to travellers who take the train as leisure but who appreciate the same level of comfort offered to business travellers.” Aside from cushy seating, passengers have access to complimentary wifi and an impressive selection of newspapers and magazines, as well as drinks and snacks — all before they set foot on a train. In Canada, Via, the national rail network, has stepped up its game by making things cozy in the bedrooms on its cross­-country The

Canadian route, which travels from Vancouver to Toronto (and vice­-versa). In 2014, the company launched its Prestige Sleeper class, which consists of an exclusive car comprised of six cabins; each one has a leather sofa that transitions to a Murphy bed at night, a private bathroom with shower, and heated cabin floors. (The cost, per person, for the journey is $3,700.) Via Rail’s senior sales manager Josephine Wasch says these cabins have been selling out since they launched. And on two very specific routes in the U.S., between Chicago and New Orleans and Chicago and New York, luxury has come in the form of slow, enriching holidays. Launched in 2012, Pullman Rail Journeys is reviving historic rail travel in the U.S. by refurbishing old rail cars — including one that began service in 1917 — for a cost of US$750,000 to US$1.2 million each. Keeping in tact the art deco design the company is adding period touches including the conductor and porter uniforms. Fares start at US$500 one way, which on select trips, includes live music thanks to a collaboration between Pullman and Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music. Whether chasing comfort or curiosity, for a night or for a month, upgraded rail travel is giving customers the opportunity to revel in the the luxury of time. LA CARTE



From the jungles of Ecuador comes To’ak, the world’s most expensive chocolate bar By Karen Cleveland


s a commodity, chocolate is pure gold. a single roasted cacao bean that has been perAccording to Deutsche Bank, which sonally measured and hand-selected by To’ak ranked the trading prices of 20 different com- co-founders Carl Schweizer and Jerry Toth. modities in comparison to their 2000-2014 The box includes tasting utensils and a 116average prices, cocoa is 34 per cent more ex- page booklet that tells the story behind the pensive this year compared to its long-term sourcing of the beans and provides a guide to average price. By comparison, gold was 23 per the ritual of dark chocolate tasting. cent more expensive. If you want to put your Along with being decadent, it is guilt-free. money where you mouth is, it appears that To’ak cacao is USDA Organic and Fair Trade chocolate is a safe investment. Certified, and the farmers who grow it are While some mass chocolate producers have guaranteed the highest price per pound in had to rethink their chocolate recipes, the country. They also share in To’ak’s replacing expensive cocoa butter with profits. Five percent of the profits are The box cheaper vegetable oils, others are prodonated to Third Millennium Alliincludes ducing the most pure chocolate ever ance, a conservation foundation dedutensils and — with the price tag to match. icated to protecting the remnants of a 116-page Pacific Forest in coastal Ecuador. Quite possibly, and literally, the guide to richest chocolate you’ll ever taste is The company didn’t set out to make To’ak, which is sourced exclusively the ritual the world’s most expensive chocolate, from 14 cacao growers in the valley of tasting explains Schweizer. Rather, the cost is of Piedra de Plata, Ecuador. Made reflective of what goes into each bar. from only two ingredients, cacao “The meticulous craftsmanship that mass and cane sugar, the 2015 Rain Harvest goes into our chocolate bars and packaging, Edition (US$270 per bar) comes in two of- and our vision to keep production as low as ferings, Dark (80.5-per cent cacao) and Light possible in order to maintain 100 per cent con(73-per cent cacao). Each 50 gram bar is pre- trol over every step from earth to bar, influencsented in a handcrafted Spanish Elm wood es our pricing,” he says. Schweizer also points box (the same wood used to ferment To’ak’s to the preservation efforts that are factored into cacao beans) that is individually engraved with their spending, which they consider essential the bar number. In the middle of each bar is to their project, as is their fair trade agreement 18


K TO’A 70 2 $ S U

with the growers. To’ak was born from a rainforest conservation project that started in 2007. It was here that Toth began cultivating cacao trees and making chocolate in a thatched bamboo house secluded in the middle of a forest. The house didn’t have electricity, so initially the entire process was done by hand. They roasted the cacao beans in a big iron pot over a wood fire and then de-husked the beans by hand, one by one. Toth would then use an old hand grinder to grind the beans. The powerful aroma that wafted from that grinder was his first cue that Ecuadorian cacao was unlike any other. After honing their skills, Toth and Schweizer linked up with fourth-generation Ecuadorian cacao grower Servio Pachard and To’ak was born. Customers come from all corners of the globe, many of them connoisseurs of fine wines and whiskeys who are now looking for similar experiences from chocolate. This year, To’ak produced 500 bars and the founders have some delicious plans ahead. They are currently experimenting with a vintage chocolate, aged for 18 months in a 50-year-old cognac barrel, as well as a chocolate made exclusively from old cacao trees. “Our next step is to focus on the importance of preservation of an heirloom variety on the brink of extinction,” says Schweizer.



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Terms and Conditions: Receive 15% off per person on guaranteed departures of select small-group tours as follows: Tour must be booked by March 31, 2016 at 23:59 EST for the G Adventures’ tour portion of these trip codes: SEGF, SEIG, SEQI, for travel departing before June 30, 2016. Valid for new bookings only and must quote promo code 16GA015GAL01 at time of booking. Bookings must be made by calling G Adventures or visiting This promotion is only open to residents of Canada. Cannot be combined with any other offers, promotions or discounts and is subject to availability. Does not apply to FIT, Independent trips, pre- or post-tour accommodation, insurance, airfare not included in the itinerary, upgrades, add-ons, “My Own Room” or “My Own Tent,” transfers, theme packs, or other in-country or on-board services. G Adventures reserves the right to withdraw this offer from sale at any time without prior notice. Any refunds made with respect to products booked under this promotion shall be issued at the discounted rate. G Adventures reserves the right to cancel any booking due to unauthorized, altered, ineligible, or fraudulent use of discount. G Adventures is not responsible for technical or system errors that may interfere with or otherwise prohibit the use of the promotion. All G Adventures’ tours are subject to G Adventures’ full booking conditions, found here: terms-conditions-policies/




Michele Sponagle explores how a tiny German town has become one of the world’s most luxurious culinary destinations

n the surface, Baiersbronn looks like any other Black Forest town. It has pretty, rolling hills, bucolic pastures upon which cows and sheep graze, and cute-as-button houses adorned with window boxes brimming with colourful flowers. With a population of just 16,000, it’s the type of place where neighbours take in each other’s mail when they’re away on holiday. But Baiersbronn is not any other Black Forest town. This is one of the world’s top culinary spots boasting seven Michelin stars, spread over three eateries. It has as many threestar restaurants as Chicago and London. That wasn’t always the case. Baiersbronn’s global reputation for fine dining has grown along with that of Germany. Sure, schnitzel, sausage and pretzels are part of the scene, but it is no longer the scene. Germany’s culinary culture has evolved in bold new directions and, along with metropolitan centres like Berlin, Baiersbronn is at the forefront. This small town has a key advantage over larger cities – location. It is situated in the heart of the country’s best growing regions, from grapes to strawberries. Add to that its proximity to the bounty of ingredients available less than an hour’s drive away in France and it’s a recipe for culinary greatness. The culinary scene started with Schwarzwaldstube, a restaurant located in the luxurious Traube Tonbach hotel. Its roots can be traced back to 1789 when it opened as an inn licensed to sell food and beverages to lumberjacks. Today, it’s a family-run business with Heiner Finkbeiner and his wife Renate at the helm, backed by their children, Matthias, Sebastian and Antonia, and grandkids. In 1977, Finkbeiner had what seemed to be an impossible dream. “At that time, there wasn’t the same level of cuisine we have now in Germany. There was one restaurant in Munich that had an international menu, but that was it,” explains Finkbeiner. “We really wanted to create a restaurant that would become a true 22


destination — one built on the reputation of Traube Tonbach as being a place where you could eat very well.” At that time, it was easier said than done. High-quality ingredients were in short supply, so much so that Finkbeiner had to drive to France and smuggle back items like fresh fish for the restaurant. But quickly, the restaurant attracted star-powered chefs who realized that, given the terrain, Europe’s best ingredients could be at their disposal here. Culinary legends including Paul Bocuse, Jean Troisgros and the Haeberlin brothers attended the opening. In 1980, Harald Wohlfahrt was hired as executive chef — a position that he still holds – drawn by the beauty of the area and the sheer potential for creating a culinary scene from scratch. He’s regarded as Germany’s culinary kingpin. He’s trained many of the top talents in Europe and his former apprentices now hold more than 60 Michelin stars among them. Wohlfahrt’s style is tough to pin down, but German fusion is a term that works. He marries locally sourced ingredients, north-coast seafood with foraged items like mushrooms from the Black Forest, for instance, then elevates them with exotic flavours. A classic dish like Coquilles St. Jacques gets a mash-up treatment when plump scallops meet macadamia nuts, a palm heart coulis and a Thai curry foam. In between meals at Traube Tonbach, hotel guests can burn calories in a myriad of ways. It offers gorgeous spa facilities where they can swim in an outdoor heated salt-water pool, sweat it out at variety of steam rooms and saunas, or unwind with a massage at the hands of a Thai therapist. Even kids can stay amused with far-from-ordinary activities like soccer camp, dance class and puppet theatre. But, since the resort is smack dab in the middle of the Black Forest and next to newly created national park, many come for the hiking. There are more than 550 kilometres worth of paths in Baiersbronn, so there’s plenty to explore. A good thing, too, because there’s also plenty to eat. In true German style, good food is never far away —

Top: Hotel Traube Tonbach’s Köhlerstube restaurant and one of the property’s indoor pools. Above: From top, tuna steak with mango and avocado from the kitchen at Traube Tonbach; executive chef Harald Wohlfahrt; a creation from Köhlerstube and Bauernstube head chef Florian Stolte. Right: Hotel Traube Tonbach’s Bauernstube.


Previous page: A wintery look at the village of Tonbach, just outside of Baiersbronn.


Left: Outdoor dining on the terrace at Hotel Bareiss. Below: The indoor pool at Hotel Bareiss, and a Claus-Peter Lumpp creation at the hotel’s restaurant: king prawn with pumpkin and verbena.

Above and right: Baden Baden’s “temple of well-being” is Friedrichsbad bath house, which first opened in 1877 and has 17 therapy stations on site including thermal pools and hot dry air baths.

even in the middle of a forest. Traube Tonbach also has a Blockhütte, a rustic log cabin that serves up delicious comfort food. This is the spot to order quintessentially German dishes like Bavarian veal sausage with a doughy pretzel, Swabian meat-stuffed ravioli and creamy potato soup. And for dessert, nothing tops eating Black Forest cake in the Black Forest — a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just down the road is the Hotel Bareiss whose roots can be traced back to Hermine Bareiss, a war widow who started a guesthouse to help support her family in 1947. It expanded and morphed over the years to add many more rooms, more floors and guest facilities, yet it still maintains the feeling of being in a garden paradise in the heart of the Black Forest. It is brimming with beautiful flowers, shrubbery and green spaces that have everything from trout ponds to quiet terraces. In 1982, the Restaurant Bareiss opened and, in just a year, it was boasting a Michelin star. Two more stars followed. The man behind the success is Claus-Peter Lumpp. He began as an apprentice in the kitchen of Hotel Bareiss after he decided — around his 16th birthday — that school wasn’t for him. Aside from the year he spent interning at other three-star restaurants and learning from chefs like Alain Ducasse, Lumpp has happily stayed put. He has a reputation for having an impeccable cooking technique. As dishes flow out of the kitchen for the lunch tasting menu (six courses, plus too many extras to count), each one is the epitome of perfection. A goose liver crème brûlée opens the meal, followed by mushroom risotto crowned with a seared scallop, venison, char with lentil salad and smoked ham, sorbet, hazelnut parfait, and plum sorbet. It plays out like a symphony of light flavours that build into rich robust ones — crunch, creaminess, sweet and savoury in harmonious balance. Coupled with ninja-like service in which new cutlery appears before guests have noticed, along with smartly matched wines (both local and international), it leaves you with a new appreciation for the artistry that goes into great cooking. At the end of the meal, Lumpp slips into the dining room without any fanfare and goes to each table to ask, “Was the food okay?” If you didn’t know better, it was like it was his first time behind the stove. He seems completely unaware that he is one of Germany’s most celebrated chefs. Okay? Not okay. It was magical from start to finish. The good news for international diners is that even toptier German restaurants like this offer luxury at great value. If you were to have the five-course tasting dinner menu at Per Se, chef Thomas Keller’s famed three-Michelin star resto in New York, you could expect to pay close to $400. In Baiersbronn, a similar meal costs roughly $225 to $275. The lunch with three wines at Restaurant Bareiss was a steal at around €130 ($190). Overall, Germany offers plenty for the dollar, from meals to hotel stays, and, these days that’s good news for luxury-minded travellers who like to star gaze at the world’s best Michelin restaurants.

A Guide to Living Well in Baden Baden Along with the Baiersbronn, southwest Germany is home to Baden Baden, famous for its bounty of spas and thermal waters, which were first capitalized on by the Romans who built the inaugural bathing facility here 2,000 years ago. Much has changed since then, but the reputation of Baden Baden as a wellness destination still thrives. Visitors these days have a choice between old-world spas and sleek new ones. Friedrichsbad opened in 1877 as a “temple of well-being.” There’s a sense of grandeur here with its soaring arches and ornate vaulted ceilings. Over the course of three and a half hours, guests go through a sequence of warm and hot dry air baths, soap and brush massage, steam baths, thermal pools and showers — 17 stations in all. A pass is €37. Shed your shyness along with your clothes. Nudity is the norm here. Some days are for the ladies, others for the gents, with some pools for both. If you want to hold on to your clothes, try Caracalla Spa. It’s a mammoth contemporary space spreading over 4,000 square metres with indoor and outdoor facilities. Lounge in a bubble seat in the pool, take a steam bath or breathe easy in the brine inhalation room. Brenners Park Hotel & Spa represents the town’s past and future in one stylish spot where celebrities like Justin Beiber, George Clooney and the Clintons have come to rest their weary heads. The luxurious property welcomed its first guests in 1872 and has evolved continuously ever since, boosting its amenities along the way to include one of the best-equipped spas in the country, complete with naturopaths and aesthetic dentistry, plus a two-star Michelin restaurant onsite. While part of the hotel is rooted in elegance from another time, it also has a newer addition, Villa Stephanie, which has the feel of a stylish urban boutique hotel, equally as luxurious and pampering as its older adjoining sister property. LA CARTE



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t was a beautiful tour. Motoring around Bazaruto Island — just a long spit of sand in the Indian Ocean, less than an hour’s boat ride (or a 10-minute helicopter flight) off the coast of southeast Africa — I’d already seen a number of natural wonders. Driven around in a comfortable, open-backed safari vehicle by a guide named James, we had visited big sand dunes, piled high by the prevailing sea breezes, inland lakes populated by pelicans and flamingoes and cormorants, and deserted beaches — anyone’s idea of paradise. The tour came after a few days of sonorous relaxation back at Anantara Bazaruto, my elegant, expensive home for a few nights, where I spent my days mostly sipping rosé wine on my private patio and eating gourmet meals chock-full of fresh seafood at a lovely open-air restaurant, or simply luxuriating by the water in a cushy beach chair, reclining on a pillow and watching the world go by. And then, we drove toward the school. Earlier on, James told me that the island is home to some 2,700 residents spread over three separate villages. We met some of the students before we even got to Zenguelemo School, little kids — maybe 10 or 12 years old — who ran up behind us on the dusty trail. Some carried sticks and branches, and James explained that they were gathering firewood for the teacher — part of the educator’s payment. Slowing to a stop, I felt woefully unprepared. I was empty-handed when it came to gifts. Digging deep in my backpack, I found a few pens — cheap, throwaway plastic items that I’d inadvertently accumulated as I checked in and out of hotel rooms in my life as a travel writer. Handing out every one I could find in my bag, James supplemented my offering with Cokes from our cooler. Holding forth their new treasures, the children beamed — and I suddenly felt rather uncomfortable in my luxury vehicle. I was in Mozambique, one of the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped nations. Luxury is often encountered in the most 28


beautiful parts of the world, which are often the most traumatized — and this country has seen its fair share of trauma. Colonized by the Portuguese for five centuries and racked by a post-independence civil war that stretched from the late 1970s to the early ’90s, Mozambique has struggled to move forward. Saddled with one of the world’s lowest per-capita GDPs, it remains in the basement of the United Nation’s Human Development Index. Despite the fact that its long coastline is home to some of the most opulent hotels and resorts in Africa, in this country, ghosts of the past still haunt, every day. Mozambique, it must be noted, is one of the world’s most beautiful countries. Here on the coast, all the clichés come true: The beaches are sandy, powder-white and mostly empty, giant palm trees bend with the breeze, coral reefs are abundant, and the water is a shade of aquamarine deeper and bluer than any I’ve ever seen. Driving toward Zenguelemo, James, who was 36 when we met and old enough to remember, told me about the long days of fighting that once engulfed Mozambique. Nothing was sacred, he said. Atrocities were committed by both sides. Hospitals were attacked, and people were burned alive on buses. Most

galling was the fact that they were not dealing with an invading force. This was a civil war. “It was terrible. We weren’t fighting another country,” he said, a reflective look on his face. “These were our brothers.” I had heard similar stories as I made my way up the coast — a rather luxurious journey. Early in my trip, I had helicoptered from the country’s capital, Maputo, to White Pearl Resort, which sits just north of the border with South Africa. There, I spent whole days drinking cold African beer and snacking on samosas by my private plunge pool, and evenings listening to songs of liberation, played by drummers and dancers on the beach. A little later, at another resort called Anantara Medjumbe, having arrived via a tiny plane that landed on a little landing strip that ran the length of the island, I stressed myself with not much more than dodging giant crabs on the beach and indulging in heavenly massages in their small, airy spa. I also enjoyed a private lunch of lobster — prepared just for me — on Quissanga, a former palm plantation, now a desert island owned by the resort and used for super-exclusive meals. I felt fortunate for these experiences and made sure to go beyond the beaches, too. At each step in the journey, I sought to learn more Previous page: A peek at Mozambique’s Bazaruto Island. Above: Students at Zenguelemo School on Bazaruto Island. Right: Maputo’s statue of former President Samora Machal, honouring his declaration of “one bag of rice for one person.” Left: The Zenguelemo schoolhouse visited by the writer.



about this fascinating country and its people, engaging in extended conversations with Mozambicans I met along the way and asking them about their lives, history and culture. In Maputo, I followed the advice of a friend and sought out a woman named Jane Flood, a British expat and former English teacher who now gives local tours. Accompanied by a local guide-in-training named Paulo Borges Jamo, they showed me a city touched by centuries of traders — Arab, Indian and European. Jamo told stories from his childhood as we strolled past the flowing Wallis fountain and hundreds of squawking fruit bats in lush Tunduru Gardens, past the colourful peacocks rambling the grounds of the presidential palace, stopping for a moment under a towering statue of Samora Machal, the first president to rule independent Mozambique, his index finger raised sternly. “He’s saying one bag of rice for one person,” Flood observed. “It’s a socialist pose.” There was also rubble, buildings and monuments ruined by forces civil, natural or economic, and left to languish. But near them — and in some cases, right next to them — stood new, shiny office towers, symbols of Mozambique’s nascent prosperity. For the past decade, this country has posted one of the world’s fastest growing GDPs. “This city is changing rapidly,” Flood told me in a crisp, London accent. “The country has coal and gas and other natural resources. The Chinese are investing, and the Portuguese are back.” And these dollars and pounds and euros and yuan are reaching the islands, too — including Bazaruto. Others had told me that the larger economic growth is driving tourism, that expat workers are taking their vacations here and then telling their friends back home. As we made our way in his jeep toward Zenguelemo School, James noted that the kids there are very dedicated, walking up to 15 kilometres, round-trip, to attend class in one of the three tidy, tin-roofed buildings there. My stay, he explained, was making those classes possible: $10 from each night at the 30


resort is channelled into the community, used to build water pumps and clinics and, yes, the school. He added that many guests choose to continue to support the island through private donations facilitated by the resort. Arriving at Zenguelemo, we were soon mobbed by the students, who smiled and chattered away in Xitsonga, the local language, beaming big, adorable smiles for my photos. Rolling back to the resort, I reflected on my trip. No, the $30 from my three-night stay wouldn’t necessarily transform anyone’s life. But while it’s far from a perfect vehicle for development, tourism undoubtedly helps Bazaruto — and the rest of the country — in often very practical ways. In addition to helping the school, James also told me that the resorts here serve to train a management class, drawn from the local villages, places that had relied on subsistence fishing in years past. I resolved to continue to buy my souvenirs in village markets and hire local guides whenever possible, and to tip extremely generously — all things I’ve long done in developing countries, my own manner of super-micro, bottom-up economic development. I decided to donate, too, to be a part of the bigger picture on Bazaruto (something I was already doing with a group of AIDS widows, single mothers in Rwanda, whom I had met the previous year). And finally, I determined that I’d never again be caught empty handed. On my return visit, whenever that would be, I would certainly bring something much better to give than plastic hotel pens from the bottom of my bag.

Above: A private plunge pool at Azura Benguerra, located on an island in a national marine park. Left: Anantara Bazaruto’s resort property includes a salt-water pool and beach with access to some of Africa’s best scuba diving and fishing spots.




Forget soggy club sandwiches and li As Barry Hertz learns, the new l service is deluxe, and in some ca



imp French fries. look of room ases, digital


LLED In August of 2013, Hilton Worldwide announced a controversial plan: It would discontinue room service at its flagship New York Midtown location. The move sent a shock-wave throughout the hotel industry, not unlike the one you might feel after looking at your mini-bar bill following a one-night stay. The reasoning: “Like most full-service hotels, New York Hilton Midtown has continued to see a decline in traditional room-service requests over the last several years as customer preferences and expectations continue to evolve,” a spokesperson said at the time. Instead of in-room service, the hotel set out a plan to offer to-go food in a market-style café called Herb N’ Kitchen. Situated in the lobby, Hilton thought it that it would allow greater variety and convenience for busy guests presumably not content to stay in their rooms for 45 minutes while food was prepared fresh in a kitchen below. Although the move, which eliminated 55 jobs, was reversed one month later — though with meals now being delivered to guest rooms in paper bags instead of on silver trays, and only during breakfast and dinner hours — it spelled the beginning of a new era in the evolution of room service. First, there’s the matter of economics. In 1980, room service (including drinks) made up almost 40 per cent of a U.S. hotel’s revenue. Today, that’s dropped to about 25 per cent, according to PFK Consulting — a devastating plunge in an industry that is ever LA CARTE


more perilous, thanks to a confluence of facTake The Singular in Santiago, Chile, for tors that include the fluctuating cost of air- instance. While the country has a number of fare and the rise of Airbnb and other ancillary upper-end hotel options, The Singular tries accommodation services. To be fair, hotels to stand out by offering in-room dining that themselves must shoulder much of the blame. not only highlights, but makes a celebration After all, they’ve been the ones dishing out of, local Chilean cuisine, including wild game arguably subpar food at sky-rocketing prices like Patagonian hare and wood-fired lamb. for the past five decades or so, often charging “Our chef, Laurent Pasqualetto, only cooks $35 for a cold club sandwich with limp fries. with locally grown or raised ingredients, many When, truly, was the last time you remem- of which originate from Southern Chile in ber enjoying a room-service meal — actually the Patagonia region,” says Lanny Grossman, savouring it, rather than struggling through who manages public relations for the propera last-resort hamburger at 11:30 p.m. after a ty. “The Singular Santiago’s mission is in its long day of meetings? name; to offer a Singular experience that is Of course, hotels have also been cannibal- representative of its location, culture and herizing their own room service itage. That rings true for every revenue, thanks to the rise of aspect of the property including free breakfast buffets and other room service.” THERE IS complimentary perks. Naturally, That same above-and-beyond A NEED TO they’ve been doing this to attract philosophy rings true at luxCATER TO A a customer base in a fiercely comury establishments the world CLIENT BASE over, including St. Barth’s Hotel petitive market, but it does affect the mentality of a customer. I THAT CRAVES Le Toiny, where giant wheels recall, a few years ago, visiting a INNOVATION, of Parmigiano-Reggiano arrive chain hotel in downtown New at your room, alongside a chef EVEN WHEN who carves the cheese into the York City and being amazed by IT COMES its free breakfast buffet (comshape of a bowl before adding plete with eggs, bacon, oatmeal spaghetti and black truffles; CaTO A CLUB and pancakes), then shocked by vallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, SANDWICH its happy hour snacks and lateCalif., where personal bartendnight tapas. With this bounty, ers are available to show you why on earth would I want — how to make use of your mini or need — to then fork over more money for bar); and Raffles Paris’s Le Royal Monceau kitchen-prepped salads and sandwiches, even if property, where treats are courtesy of chef they are delivered to my room? Pierre Hermé, a.k.a. the “Picasso of Pastry.” In an age where hotel guests, primarily busiThis aim-to-please balance has also ness travellers, are constantly on the clock and spawned a perhaps expected push-pull in so less apt to stay in the room for a prolonged the other direction, with mid-range chains period of time, there is suddenly a need to be turning room service up to the proverbial more flexible in room-service offerings, and in 11. The JW Marriott Chicago, for instance, catering to the needs of a client base that craves is making in-room dining less of a last resort innovation and flexibility, even when it comes and more of an experience. The 611-room to the simple matter of a club sandwich. hotel offers everything from high-end JapSo, where does this leave the current state of anese bento boxes (striped bass with miso room service? Are we doomed to either suffer broth, anyone?) to a unique dessert called $35 hamburgers that take an hour to prepare a “chocolate ski” — a thin wooden board or simply suffer in silence with prepackaged topped with cookies, truffles and accompatuna sandwiches from a lobby bar? This is nied with Prosecco. where the luxury market comes in. As with Other properties are going in similarly most bygone hotel amenities, the luxe bracket extravagant and/or eccentric routes. There’s of hotels has taken a look at the industry and the boutique Aparium Hotel Group, which decided that if it wants to stand out, room ser- boasts artisanal non-alcoholic elixirs; Caevice just might be the key to guests’ stomachs, sars Palace, with room service available from hearts and American Express Black cards. in-hotel restaurant Nobu; Trump Hotel Cen34


Above: Pasta in parmesan, a room-service option at Hotel Le Toiny, left, and Santiago’s The Singular offers restaurant-worthy meals in guest rooms. Right: Crown Plaza’s Dash on delivery.

tral Park New York and its in-suite chefs from Jean-George Vongerichten’s kitchen available at just 24 hours notice; and Aloft Hotels, where you can order your meal using emojis (really), as well as care package-like combos for different types of travellers, such as “The Sightseer” or “The Hangover.” Lest you think any of those offerings are too extreme, there’s also the future-is-now option. Intercontinental Hotels Group is responsible for the San Jose-Silicon Valley Crowne Plaza, which is currently using androids to deliver room service meals. Thanks to Dash, a three-foot-tall android that weighs less than 100 pounds, the Crowne Plaza’s new server can travel floor to floor at basically the same speed as a human server, with wifi enabling it to use elevators. The food items may be standard, but the delivery is the definition of special-for-special’s sake. So pick up that in-room phone and order in, already. It’s only going to get better.




Birds chase the tail of a Star Alliance Airbus 330.





Photographer Laird Kay doesn’t just plane spot, he sets his sights on making aviation art. Here, he talks about his favourite vantage points, his dream flight and turning his photos into clothing By Maryam Siddiqi

Laird Kay took his first flight when he was eight years old. Flying from London to Johannesberg on South African Airways, he was visiting family. “At that time, kids were allowed to visit the cockpit, and I was given a pair of gold wings as a memento. Ever since then, I’ve been utterly fascinated with planes and air travel,” he says. Now 42, Kay, who is based in Toronto, continues to explore his fascination with aviation through photography, both from the ground and in the air. And though he loves being airborne, “I’m the guy who stares out the window

Above: Close-up of a Lufthansa 747-8 engine. Below: The view from the same plane’s economy cabin, prior to the installation of seating.

Above: Inside the cargo hold of a Luf

fthansa 777. Below: Empty seating at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

and smiles the entire flight,” he says his favourite vantage point for shooting is being firmly planted on the ground. “I love seeing the underside of landing gear, or the wing flaps completely extended for landing. It’s the perspectives that no passengers ever get to see. Even though the plane is moving incredibly fast, I love capturing and freezing those moments, as if the plane is posing for me,” the self-professed plane nerd says. Kay’s work has appeared in magazines, including Vogue Italia; on gallery walls, such as the exhibition space at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport; and in art shows including the 2013 edition of Toronto’s Nuit Blanche, and the upcoming The Artist Project, which runs Feb. 18-21, 2016 at the Better Living Centre in Toronto. And as of this autumn, it can also be found on clothing and home accessories via his lines Very Plane Clothes and Very Plane Home. LA CARTE


Above: Kay launched his Very Plane Clothes and Very Plane Home lines this fall. The pieces incorporate his work in bold and creative ways. Right: A sampling of Kay’s shots of an Air France 777 on arrival.



“To me, aviation and planes are glamorous. And just as planes transport you — literally — so too does fashion in a more ethereal sense. There is something wonderful about putting on your favourite shirt or jacket; you feel different when wearing it,” Kay explains, adding: “I wanted to bring together runways and fashion, pardon the pun.” The collection of casual wear — T-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets, each produced in limited quantities of 200 per item — is more than simply Kay’s photography as images on pieces of clothing; the tops are almost like canvases for his art work. Some are bold, like the LAX T-shirt, which features the belly of a plane from the shoulder and neckline down to the hem; others, like the Changi sweatshirt, have the a plane’s profile running along the bottom of the garment from sleeve to body to sleeve in one continuous image. The canvas CPT tote bag is adorned with a sexy gold engine, while Kay’s home line consists of fun printed cushions and “air-gyle” wallpaper. His favourite item is the one he first designed, the HKG bomber jacket: “The idea of re-appropriating the bomber jacket with aviation images was just too fun,” he says, and Kay is already working towards getting the line into boutiques in Portland, Toronto and London. In the meantime, he’ll continue plane spotting, both for himself and for clients, which include Lufthansa, and travelling. On Kay’s flight wish list is the soon-to-be longest one in the world, Singapore Airline’s Singapore-Newark route. “It would be a 19-hour flight of pure bliss on Singapore Airlines, one of my favourites!” he says. With the chore that air travel often becomes, it’s refreshing that someone who spends so much time on and around planes can still be excited by the prospect of a flight. “With every flight, I still am amazed that I’m in a vehicle travelling high above the Earth at hundreds of kilometres an hour,” Kay says. “To me, that’s luxury — a wonderful momentary experience.”

You can see more of Laird Kay’s work and purchase Very Plane items at




Silver ruby studs $236

Gold-plated lapis ring $119

Silver emerald drop earrings $236

ROUGH AROUND THE EDGES Having spent her youth as a refugee in Pakistan, Shugufa Yousofzai returned to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban and has been living in Kabul since. In 2012, she launched her own jewellery business: handmade pieces that feature precious and semiprecious stones, such as lapis lazuli, rubies and emeralds. Working with silver and 18-karat gold-plated silver, her pieces, which include earrings and rings, are rough around the edges — intentionally. The uncut stones and haphazardly shaped metals reflect Afghan artisanal traditions that date back more than 2,000 years. The work has a variety of aesthetic influences — Persian, Indian, Greek and Roman — and requires a high level of craftsmanship. To learn, Yousofzai studied at home and 42


abroad, including practicing the art of gem cutting in Dubai. Along with running her own business, the 28-year-old, who is also a mother of one, consults with other independent entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and is an advisor to several Afghan womens’ associations. “Afghanistan needs strong women and I want to be one of them,” she says. Yousofzai is one of the artists supported by Far and Wide Collective, which supports local artisans in several emerging and recovering countries around the world by providing a fairly traded and ethical marketplace for their goods. Join La Carte in supporting these craftspeople by shopping at Far and Wide’s online boutique.


Shugufa Yousofzai is a jewellery designer who is making noise not only to develop her own business, but to help other Afghan women do the same

Courtesy This is Ground

COVET wanted

Baggage check Finding that perfect piece of luggage can seem like a lifelong quest, so much so that when that dream bag comes along, you can’t quite believe it. Is this it? Is the search truly over? The weekend bag that doubles as a carry-on, that looks good and keeps you organized is this one: the Voyager bag by Los Angeles-based leather accessories company This is Ground. Launched in early November, the bag, made of sturdy, supple leather, measures about 12 inches (30 centimetres) high and 16.5 inches (42 centimetres) long and comes in four understated and sophisticated colours (bomber, navy, charcoal, French grey). The lined interior can handily fit a pair of shoes (two if you’re packing flats), a weekend’s worth of clothes, toiletry bag and laptop. The bag’s exterior pockets are sanity savers. The company calls the zipped one the “Pod,” and organization rules here: There are pockets and straps

especially designed for phones, compact cameras, charging cords, pens, batteries and other e-accoutrement. The pocket behind the pod is an easy-to-access spot ideal for boarding passes, books, magazines and other flat necessities (deflated neck pillow?). But the pièce de résistance: This is Ground has teamed up with Karma, a company that makes a portable wifi device, to turn the Voyager in to a hotspot when wifi is enabled on the tech accessory. Karma promotes signal sharing — owners of the device get 100 free megabytes of data each time they let someone log on to their network. The only downside: Karma is currently only usable in the U.S. Still, wifi-enabled or not, this is the bag you’ve been looking for. Stop searching and start packing. US$725, US$925 with wifi device, US$30 for monogramming



WHERE TO NEXT? Don’t miss La Carte’s spring issue in which we explore the newest and most gnarly in adventure travel, including: • The company that’s taking cyclists to Antarctica • A visit to a park in Eastern Quebec where moose outnumber humans • Gear to get excited about




La Carte Volume 1 Issue 2  

The Luxury Issue: A guide to the high life. Destinations include Mozambique, Germany, Ecuador, France and more. Travel Smarter. Travel Bette...

La Carte Volume 1 Issue 2  

The Luxury Issue: A guide to the high life. Destinations include Mozambique, Germany, Ecuador, France and more. Travel Smarter. Travel Bette...