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LUXURY RRP NZ$19.95

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Issue 27 Spring/Summer 2015

HOLIDAYS & CORP OR ATE T R AVEL

A TASTE OF ISTANBUL Set off into a back-street tour of this dynamic city

TAHITI CRUISING In 3 distinctly different ways

WHITE SAND WHITE WEDDING Tying the knot in Fiji

KAREN WALKER searches for a new fragrance and finds La Colombe d'Or

MARRAKESH Vibrantly colourful

alpine Top

European Retreats

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Editor’s Letter As Summer draws near, many of us are looking forward to long relaxed days at our favourite beach. However, if you’re thinking about heading to the Northern Hemisphere for a white Christmas then

N E W

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O N L Y

D E D I C A T E D

L U X U R Y

T R A V E L

M A G A Z I N E

LUXURY RRP NZ$19.95

/ AU$17.95 incl gst

Issue 27 Spring/Summer 2015

HOLIDAYS & CORP OR ATE T R AVEL

A TASTE OF ISTANBUL

our Top 5 European Ski Hotels will certainly get you

Set off into a back-street tour of this dynamic city

making plans for a luxury winter wonderland holiday.

TAHITI CRUISING In 3 distinctly different ways

WHITE SAND, WHITE WEDDING Tying the knot in Fiji

KAREN WALKER

Still in Europe, internationally renowned fashion

searches for a new fragrance and finds La Colombe d'Or

designer, Karen Walker writes about her stay at

Vibrantly colourful

La Colombe d’Or in picturesque Saint Paul-de-Vence, France, while she methodically selected premium scents for her perfume range.

MARRAKESH

alpine Top

European Retreats

1

Next, we visit the vibrant metropolis of Istanbul and immerse ourselves in the

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1

LUXURY Holidays & Corporate Travel

sights and cuisine that this city is famous for. Brimming with choices, we soon discover that we are only but touching the surface – this is a city that can be re-visited time and time again. We explore another colourful city this issue, Marrakesh, seeking out culturally diverse experiences. Staying at the stunning Riad El Fenn, a welcome retreat after the vigour and intensity of our days wandering the laneways and souks.

“...cruising the gorgeous archipelagos that make up French Polynesia is truly glorious.” Everyone loves Tahiti and cruising the gorgeous archipelagos that make up French Polynesia is truly glorious. We show you three different types of ships, each with their own unique offering. If you’re planning a tropical wedding in Fiji then review our story – White Sand White Wedding. Each with their own point of difference, we highlight some of the key properties that specialise in making your special day a treasured memory. With Air New Zealand opening up flights to Houston in December, we showcase the 4th largest city in the USA and its surrounds including state capital, Austin and historical San Antonio. Our last notable experience – an opera dinner set in a restored monastery in South America’s Cusco, followed by a breathtaking train journey on the splendid Andean Explorer to the shores of Lake Titicaca. What more can I say? So, enjoy the read and I invite you to email me about your favourite travel experiences to mel@travelpublications.co.nz. I look forward to hearing from you. Keep relishing in what the wonderful world of travel has to offer.

Publisher: Travel Publications Limited Editorial Director: Philip Harrison Phone: +64 21 477 514 Email: phil@travelpublications.co.nz Editor: Melanie Hawkins Phone: +64 21 557 579 Email: mel@travelpublications.co.nz Features & Advertising Enquiries: Janice Burmaz Phone: +64 21 630 257 Email: janice@travelpublications.co.nz Contributors: Philip Tetley-Jones Stuart Walker Toni Gillan Karen Walker Elena Mironova Creative Director: James Rangihika

Janice Burmaz Jackie O’Fee Tim Lamb Fergus Clark Renee Lamb

Designer: Erin Clarke Contact Details: PO Box 559, Shortland Street, Auckland 1140, New Zealand Phone: 0800 758 759 Website: www.luxurymagazine.co.nz ISSN: 1178-2382 Our preferred retail travel partner is United Travel. www.unitedtravel.co.nz

Melanie Hawkins Editor, LUXURY Holidays & Corporate Travel Congratulations to Catherine Aitken, the lucky winner of a bottle of Prodige des Océans by Thalgo. Enjoy!

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Although we endeavour to provide the highest level of quality in our content, the views and opinions contained within this magazine have been obtained from independent sources, and Travel Publications Limited explicitly disclaims any responsibility for the accuracy, content or availability of the information. Digital version available from www.zinio.co.nz


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If

heaven is on the left,

Fiji is on the right. In Fiji, luxury is often found where other travellers aren’t, along with world-class accommodation and cuisine, stunning natural beauty, and unwavering happiness. The only thing that is missing is you. Find out more at www.fiji.travel

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68 78

Cover Story 27

Top 5 European Alpine Retreats

Features 20

A Taste of Istanbul

35 Mahana – Luxury in the best possible taste

35

38 Tahiti Cruising 45 Spicers Retreats – From urban sanctuary to luxury gourmet heaven 48 White Sand, White Wedding

31

54 Vomo Island Resort – The ultimate pampering experience at the Spa 56

Sweetness of La Colombe d'Or

59

New Zealand Fashion Week 2016

72 Opera Dinner at the Monasterio 75 Cusco to Puno on the Andean Explorer 78

Vibrantly Colourful Marrakesh

87

Hot in Houston

In Every Issue

27

8 Review 10

Luxury Preview

84 Style File 92

Travel Accessories

43

Property Reviews 24

W Hotel, Istanbul

43

QT Hotel, Sydney

63

Mandarin Oriental, Singapore

69

Grand Hyatt, Incheon

90 Hotel Vitale, San Francisco

Airline Features 60 Singapore Airlines Business Class 66 Korean Air – Bringing the state-of-the-art Boeing 747-800i to Auckland

69

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Review: Spring/Summer 2015 Check out these great events happening over the next few months. Ranging from photography and fashion to some of the biggest international events of the year, you’re sure to find something here of interest.

Maui Photo Expedition, Hawai’i Open to photography enthusiasts at all skill levels, join acclaimed photographers, Robert Caplin (New York) and Peter Lockley (Denver) on an amazing photographic adventure. The expedition includes workshops, on-location shoots, demonstrations, group editing, critique sessions and a gallery showing. The Four Seasons Resort Maui hosts the event as part of its Unforgettable Series and is the luxurious home base for accommodation and amenities. 14-19 June 2016 www.mauiworkshop.com

Image: Four Seasons Resort Maui

Meditation on the Mekong, Laos Bringing Buddhism to life, this oneof-a-kind experience in Laos can be experienced with Belmond La Résidence Phou Vao in Luang Prabang. Former Buddhist Monk Ajanh Souk, from Your Mind Retreat leads seated meditations at selected small temples along the Mekong River. Guests will also engage in ‘walking meditation’, believed to build concentration and invigorate the senses. Year-round www.belmond.com

Image: swiss-image.ch/Andy Mettler

White Turf, Switzerland This unique and exclusive event is where race-horse owners, trainers and jockeys from all over the world meet for a dynamic gathering of exhilarating horse-racing, gourmet cuisine, lively music and aspirational art exhibitions. It’s all set on a frozen lake among the majestically beautiful, snow-capped mountains of St. Moritz. 7, 14, 21 February 2016 www.whiteturf.ch

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Barcelona Carnival, Spain

New York Fashion Week, New York

A time of great joy and high spirits, this carnival is a fiesta of colourful events and spectacles, culminating with the Grand Parade. More than 2,000 people and around 60 wagons participate in the procession as it runs about 2km along the Avinguda del Paral·lel, one of Barcelona’s main streets.

This high-profile, high-energy event is the epitome for designers, buyers and ‘fashionistas’ alike. One of the ‘Big Four’ when it comes to showcasing fashion, be prepared to be ‘wowed’ with the cutting-edge examples of new season’s trends.

4-10 February 2016 www.barcelona.de/en/barcelona-carnival

11-18 February 2016 www.nyfw.com

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Luxury Preview LAN ramps up capacity on the Auckland to Santiago route

Adventure and luxury just 45-minutes from Auckland Kauri Bay Boomrock is Auckland’s new premier venue for thrill-seekers and luxury-lovers. Located 45-minutes by road or 12-minutes by air from central Auckland, this purpose-built entertainment facility sits within 500-acres of private farmland with spectacular coastal views across the Hauraki Gulf to Waiheke Island and the Coromandel Peninsula. Stage one of the development, known as The Bunkers, hosts claybird shoots, catering to expert and amateur enthusiasts for business, international and private groups. Archery, knife-throwing, extreme golf, 4WD and digger driving, or flying a helicopter can also be tailored into unique experience packages. The Bunkers setting can host up to 75 guests.

LAN Airlines has added the newest Boeing 787-9 aircraft to its schedule on the trans-Pacific route between Auckland and Santiago, Chile, the gateway to South America. The 787-9 model replaces the 787-8, bringing with it more capacity and services to transport 27 per cent more passengers between the two regions. Furthermore, it can travel longer

After an adrenaline-filled day, relax at The Lodge. Perfect for corporate events, weddings,

distances without stopping while

product launches and private parties, The Lodge can host up to 250 guests in a warm

delivering the same environmental

and relaxed setting. The array of activities, plus the attention to detail, will undoubtedly

efficiency as the previous model. The

put Kauri Bay Boomrock at the forefront of entertainment experiences in Auckland.

787 family consumes up to 20% less

www.kauribayboomrock.co.nz

fuel than other similar aircraft, reducing CO2 emissions by 20%. Travellers will appreciate the visionary design, which offers the best in comfort. Other features include larger windows and bigger overhead compartments. Premium Business Class provides fully flat seats that recline 180 degrees and include a lumbar massage system to further increase passenger relaxation. Perfect for long-haul flights, so you arrive in South America ready to make the most of your holiday. www.lan.com

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Luxury Preview The St. Regis Macao rolls out the red carpet December 2015 sees the arrival of a very stylish newcomer to the Macau scene. Conveniently

Noma puts Australia on a plate

located along the vibrant Cotai Strip, which offers easy access to over 650 retail outlets,

René Redzepi, one of the world's best-

hundreds of dining options and a diverse range of world-class entertainment, the St.

known and most respected chefs, will

Regis Macao Cotai Central is poised to become the most coveted address in the popular

close Noma Copenhagen and bring his

tourist destination.

entire team to a temporary home in Sydney's new harbour-side Barangaroo development with the support of Tourism Australia. Noma Australia will showcase the country's extraordinary produce as seen through Redzepi's eyes.

There will be 400 exquisitely styled and lavishly appointed guestrooms and suites ranging from 53sqm to 477sqm. Guests will enjoy the signature St. Regis Butler Service for every guestroom and suite, a first for any hotel in Macau. This 24-hour anticipatory service will customise each guest’s stay to his or her specific needs, tastes and preferences. We particularly like the sound of the Iridium Spa, located on the 38th floor with views over the Cotai Strip. The expansive outdoor pool with a substantial 2,457sqm of deck space, will feature private cabanas and an idyllic oasis in the bustling centre of the city. www.stregis.com/macao Image: Eamon Gallagher

The Noma Australia residency will run for 10 weeks from 26 January until 2 April 2016, serving lunch and dinner from Tuesday to Saturday. The menu will cost AUD$485 per person (plus 1.65% CC fee). The beverage offerings at Noma Australia will include an allAustralian wine pairing or non-alcoholic pairing, and short global wine list. So what culinary delights can diners look forward to? René and his chefs have been scouring Australia to find the best – and most interesting – produce. From native fruits in South Australia to seafood in Victoria and seaweed in Tasmania, the Noma team have put together a truly inspiring menu. www.noma.dk/australia

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Luxury Preview Welcome back, United!

Sheraton brings world-class luxury to Samoa

A famous name in aviation is returning

The iconic Sheraton brand has made its debut in Samoa with the opening of Sheraton

to New Zealand. In July 2016, United

Samoa Aggie Grey’s Resort following a comprehensive multi-million dollar conversion.

Airlines will start a new San Francisco

Owned by the Grey family, the property is the first internationally branded resort to come

to Auckland service, using its Boeing

to Samoa.

787 Dreamliners.

Nestled on the west coast of Upolu, Samoa’s most populous island, the Resort is just a

The new service will operate from

five-minute drive from Faleolo International Airport. Surrounded by natural beauty, the

the airline’s main West Coast hub.

beachfront property is situated along a gorgeous white-sand beach. You can snorkel or

It will connect with 280 daily flights

dive at one of Upolu’s striking dive spots, charter a boat and spend the day fishing, swim

between San Francisco and more than

with turtles or partake in the numerous water sports the hotel offers. Guests can also take

90 destinations in North America, Latin

a stroll in one of Samoa’s lush national parks or visit the spectacular waterfalls, blowholes,

America, Europe and Asia / Pacific. It

caves or lava fields nearby.

adds a convenient, one-stop service between Auckland and more than 44 cities in the United States, including more than 40 cities that do not already have a single-carrier, one-stop service to Auckland. With more New Zealanders flying to the USA via San Francisco, it’s great to have more capacity and options on the route. www.united.com

Air Tahiti Nui orders Dreamliners

The resort boasts 133 luxury guest rooms, all with their own ground-floor patio or first-floor

French Polynesia’s flag carrier is adding

and restaurants. Cultural entertainers and fire dancers will create the ultimate, unforgettable

two Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners to its

Samoan experience. www.sheratonsamoaaggiegreysresort.com

balcony, allowing stunning vistas of the Pacific. Guests will enjoy delicious flavours from around the South Pacific and experience the region’s culinary talents at the Resort’s five bars

fleet. The new Boeing 787-9 aircraft are planned for delivery in 2018, coinciding with the company’s 20th anniversary celebrations.

Epic evening at Four Seasons Maui Four Seasons Resort Maui is elevating their already popular 'Ultimate Dinner' to a new level. Guests can now enjoy a private and customised five-star meal prepared by the resort’s top chefs, set by the famed Serenity Pool, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and possibly witnessing majestic humpback whales (December - May). After dinner, float weightlessly in one of two elegant saltwater pools, complete with underwater music. This is that epic evening, the snapshot in time, the indelible moment that will be ingrained forever in the minds of those who stay. The Serenity Pool is available from dusk to dawn for a truly enchanted evening where no two experiences will ever be

With the fuselage stretched by six

the same. www.fourseasons.com/maui

metres over the 787-8, the 787-9 will carry more passengers and more cargo further with the same exceptional environmental performance. The 787-9 also includes traveller-friendly features such as large windows, large overhead lockers, modern LED lighting, higher humidity, a lower cabin altitude, cleaner air and a smoother ride. www.airtahitinui.com/nz-en 12 Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.


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Luxury Preview The Dawn of a new Rolls-Royce

The Langham Hong Kong celebrates Forbes 5-star rating The Langham Hong Kong has just been recognised as one of the top 115 hotels in the world, and one of only eight properties in Hong Kong to earn the prestigious Forbes 5-Star rating.

Many automotive brands would like to claim the mantle of luxury; only one can truly own it. That brand is, of course, Rolls-Royce. A new beginning for Rolls-Royce in 1952, the original Silver Dawn was the

This news comes in the wake of the extensive US$30 million refurbishment, where the

first Rolls-Royce to be offered with

focus was on luxury detailing within ‘elegant residential experiences’. The renovation

a factory-built body. However, the

included the guest rooms and suites, as well as public areas like the glamorous cocktail

drophead Rolls-Royces that carried

bar, the Artesian.

the name Silver Dawn continued to be coach-built for individual customers, ensuring their uniqueness and rarity.

Other features include dedicated Guest Experience Managers that have been assigned to each floor, and signature Service Stylists ensuring a luxury bespoke experience for every guest. This certainly shows a dedication to luxury on every level. Closer to home, the Langham Auckland is celebrating a refurbishment of its meeting rooms. The Crystal Room is a stunning new venue that can accommodate up to 180 guests, making it an excellent wedding venue and breakout space for exhibitions and conferences.

Rolls-Royce’s new Dawn has taken inspiration from the original Silver Dawn, while delivering a world first in super-luxury motoring. It’s a cool, contemporary interpretation of what a super-luxury four-seater convertible car should be – rare, refined and social. Much like the 1952 Silver Dawn drophead, the new Rolls-Royce Dawn stands apart from its stable mates, featuring 80% unique body panels. Even the tyres that connect the new

Four new sparkling crystal chandeliers bring a sense of indulgence to the lighting in the

Rolls-Royce Dawn to the roads it

room, which can be controlled in sections. Crystal’s guests can also enjoy an exclusive

will glide over have been specially

private foyer without needing to leave the venue.

developed to deliver the pinnacle ‘magic carpet’ ride expected of every Rolls-Royce. www.rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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Four new Gallery Rooms have also officially opened their doors on the site of the old SPE (Some Place Else) bar following an increase in demand for more meeting rooms to support large events in The Great Room – still the largest pillar-less ballroom of any hotel in Auckland, seating 900 for dinner or 1,400 for cocktails. www.langhamhotels.com

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Luxury Preview What delectable secrets will you find in Sofitel’s Cellar? Sofitel Auckland Viaduct Harbour has unveiled its new venue – a Frenchinspired wine cellar, complete with beautiful antique décor and a unique

Is this the most luxurious ship ever built? We can’t make a definitive ruling on that – the competition is too tough. But there’s no doubt the new Seven Seas Explorer will offer a seriously lavish experience. At 56,000 gross-registered tons and carrying only 750 guests, Seven Seas Explorer will boast one of the highest space ratios in the cruise industry, plus an exceptionally high staff-to-guest ratio. This alone should place the new cruise ship in a class of its own, but the Regent Seven Seas Cruises team have another trick up their sleeves.

gastronomic concept. This intimate setting provides the perfect stage to experience ‘Le Rituel du Vin.’ So what does that involve?

Situated on deck 5, the Canyon Ranch SpaClub will offer a range of treatments developed in partnership with lifestyle and beauty experts Red Flower. The goal is to provide guests with a luxurious retreat and the finest array of treatments you can imagine. The reception area is decorated with crisscrossing light-grained wooden bands that evoke the silk wrappings woven into a chrysalis. Decorative light fixtures cast small twinkling lights off an abstract Swarovski crystal sculpture, forming dappled reflections on the marble floor to evoke an aura of woodland twilight. In collaboration with acclaimed wineries, the Cellar features a handpicked ‘library’ of top New Zealand and French wines to suit every palate. Pair these with charcuterie boards and cheese platters, and you have a very special celebration of the good things in life.

After a luxurious treatment, guests migrate to a thermal suite where a variety of hot-to-cold experiences await. A state-of-the-art infrared sauna soothes muscles more deeply than traditional steam saunas. In the soothing shower room, guests can choose from a menu of preset shower treatments with various distributions of water flow, chroma-therapeutic lighting and audio effects that mimic natural sounds such as thunderstorms or waterfalls. Part of the spa, but located on a private outdoor deck, is an inviting teak-deck terrace filled with plush, partially covered lounge chairs that surround an infinity-edge plunge pool. The pool serves as a dramatic focal point as it contours to the stern of the ship. You’ll be

You could be transported through

treated to incredible views across the sea to the horizon as you soak in the therapeutic

France’s wine regions on Sofitel’s

waters of the pool. Seven Seas Explorer’s 2016 Inaugural Season is now open for bookings.

signature wine flight, sample the finest

www.RSSC.com

Champagnes or delve into Central Otago Pinot Noir. Keep the Cellar in mind for private dining, interactive team-building or corporate dinners. Tap Sofitel’s expertise to pair up wine and cheese, or host an exclusive Winemaker’s Dinner with input from a premium winemaker. Think bespoke menus, matched wines and an altogether delightful gourmet experience. Bon Appetit! www.sofitel-auckland.com

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Luxury Preview Ultra-premium Aman to open a second Japanese resort

The St. Regis brand makes a regal entrance to India

Aman is preparing to open the doors of its second Japanese property. Appropriately for the tradition-rich Land of the Rising Sun, the new resort will be Aman’s first hot spring resort.

Starwood’s ultra-luxury brand has introduced its signature Butler Service and refined elegance to India’s financial, commercial and entertainment capital.

Celebrating Japan’s ancient onsen (mineral hot spring) tradition, Amanemu is perched on the shores of Ago Bay, otherwise known as the ‘Bay of Pearls’. It will present 24 suites and four two-bedroom villas as well as a lap pool, restaurant and lounge.

Poised to become the best address, the St. Regis Mumbai is located in Lower Parel, one of the city’s most desirable districts. The hotel provides easy access to the commercial centres including the Bandra Kurla Complex and Nariman Point, as well as to the airport. The hotel’s design captures an urban aristocratic style, complemented by warm tones and specially commissioned artwork that lends an elegant and stylish touch to the guest rooms and public spaces. Residing in India’s tallest hotel tower, the St. Regis Mumbai offers panoramic views of the bustling metropolis. The hotel includes 386 well-appointed guest rooms including 27 suites and,

Suites of elegant simplicity will flow onto spacious terraces with tranquil views of Ago

for extended stays, the property’s 33

Bay, its islands and pearl rafts floating on the calm sea. Each suite will have its own private

residential suites feature a spacious

onsen facilities, while the Aman Spa will offer two expansive onsen bathing pavilions as

living room, fully-equipped kitchen and

well as a watsu pool, four treatment suites, a gym and yoga studio.

the option of one or two bedrooms.

Amanemu, situated at the tip of the Osaki Peninsula, is surrounded by a saw-toothed coastline, in a region renowned for its cultured pearls and abundant seafood, not to mention the acclaimed Matsusaka variety of Japanese Waygu. The resort’s restaurant, serving Japanese cuisine, will celebrate the area’s gourmet heritage, as it was once known as the breadbasket of the ancient Imperial Court. www.aman.com/resorts/amanemu

“The introduction of the St. Regis to India marks a significant milestone for the brand’s expansion in South Asia,” says Dilip Puri, Managing Director India and Regional Vice President South Asia, Starwood Hotels & Resorts. www.stregismumbai.com

A tasteful exploration of the Med with Viking Cruises If you’ve seen the BBC series, Rick Stein: From Venice to Istanbul, you will know how much wonderful food can be found in the countries that border the Mediterranean. Rick was hosted by Viking Cruises on his seaborne, culinary tour – and now you can follow in his wake. Stopping at destinations from Italy to Turkey, Rick whipped up gastronomic wonders inspired by the local destinations and created from local produce. In their 10-day Empires of the Mediterranean cruise, Viking will take guests to eight legendary destinations throughout the Eastern Mediterranean. Each day and night has been designed to bring guests the riches of this fabled region, from destination-focused Mediterranean cuisine to unforgettable excursions to Roman outposts. Venice, Dubrovnik, Santorini, Athens, Ephesus and Istanbul are all part of the itinerary, with ample opportunities to experience the local culture – not to mention, the cuisine. www.vikingcruises.com/oceans

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17


Luxury Preview Classical modernism in Athens The latest addition to the Athens hospitality landscape is AthensWas. The hotel takes mid-century flair and spins it with ancient Greek forms and architecture. Designer Stavros Papayiannis, has created a hotel that

Waikiki apartment sized suites come up trumps One of the newer properties in Hawaii’s most prestigious location is also one of its most luxurious. The Trump International Hotel & Tower Waikiki Beach Walk (to give its impressively full name) is located just steps away from the famous white sands of Waikiki Beach and the new Waikiki Beach Walk that’s packed with exclusive boutiques and world-class restaurants.

artfully references the city’s rich past while capturing the zeitgeist of the modern day capital, all within the foothills of the iconic Acropolis.

C

M

Inspired by the classic modernism

Y

movement that gripped Athens from

CM

the 1950s to 70s, AthensWas emerges MY

as a fresh celebration of Greek design.

CY

The glossy surfaces of locally sourced marble and walnut dominate the cool

CMY

design tone of the 21-room hotel,

K

which is defined by light-filled spaces and the imaginative use of glass walls. Furniture by modern masters such as Le Corbusier and Ettore Sottsass is dotted around guest areas, making the hotel a design destination in its own right in

You’d expect a hotel bearing the Trump name to provide a luxury experience at the upper

a city brimming with cultural hotspots.

edge of premium. That’s certainly true – but don’t make the error of thinking this excludes families. Soaring 38 stories high, the Trump International is a brilliant choice for a family group that’s looking to enjoy all Waikiki has to offer. The suites could more accurately be described as apartments. They’re spacious and ideal for couples and family groups that want to stretch out and enjoy a taste of luxury. The onebedroom suites are a generous 104 square metres while the two-bedroom suites come in at 150 square metres. These are colossal by Waikiki standards, and up to double the size of suites offered by some famous hotels in the vicinity. If you’re travelling as a family or group

Images courtesy of Design Hotels™

Unbeatable views are found at the

of friends, these multi-room suites can provide seriously good value for the standard of accommodation on offer.

rooftop restaurant and bar on the

The location is a winner with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean beyond Fort DeRussy

hotel’s sixth floor. From this vantage

Park to Diamond Head. You’re also just a short walk from one of our favourite breakfast

point, drinks and dinner are served

spots, Bills. With its sophisticated accommodations, white glove service and the best Mai

against a backdrop of the Acropolis,

tai in the islands, the Trump International is a fantastic option for that Hawaiian getaway

Parthenon, Temple of Olympian Zeus

you’ve been promising yourself.

and the old Olympic stadium, as well as the larger cityscape.

Make sure you book well in advance. The No.1 rating on TripAdvisor means the secret is well and truly out. This Waikiki luxury property has quickly become one of its most popular.

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Just you. Just me. ...and this view!

ultim For ate the i Ultimbookndthuelgence Bon ate us P ack Spa One age time $37 pric * eo 0 N s ta ZD x).

(plu

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a taste of

Istanbul

Arriving into Istanbul by ship was quite glorious. The city’s buildings were bathed in a soft pink light as the sun began its ascent. The early morning sounds and smells wafted across the Bosphorus. We pinched ourselves – before our eyes was Istanbul – a name associated with so many things from food to architecture – we were excitedly poised and ready to be introduced to some of the city’s best kept secrets. Istanbul is unique in that it straddles both Europe and Asia across the body of water called the Bosphorus. Located on the historic Silk Road and the only route by sea from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean, the Old City is steeped in trading history from bygone eras. A city pushed and pulled by its rulers, it has been known by many names. The most notable include Byzantium by the Greeks, then Constantinople by the Romans before becoming officially Istanbul by the Ottomans in the mid 14th century. The influences of the many empires that once ruled here are still significantly evident even in its modern state. That’s partly what makes Istanbul so alive and interesting. Even before we arrived, we knew that we wanted to get a real sense of the food. Our research lead us to discover a company called Culinary Backstreets, offering intimate walking tours in different parts of the city. The name piqued our interest further and we booked ourselves on a “Culinary Secrets of the Old City” tour. The experience with Adam, our guide that day was superb. The first stop on our tour was down an alleyway outside a shop that serves steaming Turkish tea, on order, to neighbouring shopkeepers. Laid out for us was the most delicious Turkish breakfast. We dipped into pastane simit (a ring shaped savoury bread covered in sesame seeds– crispy on the outside but so soft on the inside), a variety of cheeses (including kaymak, which can only be described as ‘dreamy’ – a delicious milk cheese similar to clotted cream and scented with honey), plump olives, marinated Rosemary and a spicy tomato-based paste. A fantastic way to set the scene for what we were about to experience, but leaving us worried as to whether we had over indulged, it was that good.

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Photography: James Rangihika


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We wandered through a Spice Market –

capsicums and lots of spices) and perde

this ancient underground water-holding

a visual and aromatic feast – noticing the

pilav (rice, currants, almonds and

chamber is tranquil and quite beautiful

quality, quantity and uniqueness of many

chicken cooked and enclosed within

with giant repurposed Medusa heads at

of the ingredients on offer. We passed

a pastry dough).

the base of two columns in the northwest

a coffee roasting shop, where a line of young men worked in unison prepping and bagging the beans for sale; through an area where all the cooking utensils imaginable were on display for purchase, then stopping at a pide stall. The owner made the process of making this narrow style of pizza with fillings like lamb mince

Search on the Internet for top ten things to do in Istanbul and there is

Then for a real local experience, visit

historical relevance like Hagia Sophia

one of the hamams (Turkish baths).

(a former Church then a Mosque and

We ventured to Çemberlita Hamami.

now a museum), Sultan Ahmed Mosque (identified by its six minarets and also known as the Blue Mosque due to the predominance of blue tiles adorning

thick crust look so easy – the result was

its interior walls), Topkapi Palace (the

nothing short of flavoursome.

residence of the Ottoman Sultans for

smells and sounds as street vendors cooked their specialties and store owners sold their wares. There were many more tastings – to name just a few – mercimek çorbasi (a hearty yet smooth, traditional red lentil soup), a selection of baklava (the melt-in-yourmouth kind that can only be found in Istanbul), boza from Vefa Bozacisi (a fermented millet drink that tastes a bit like apple pudding laced with cinnamon),

their origin.

no shortage. The old city is amass with

and freshly cracked egg, encased by a

We carried on, taking in all the sights,

corner – some mystery still surrounds

almost 400 years and which also includes an extensive harem) and of course the Grand Bazaar. These are all a must to visit, however if you have time to spare then Istanbul has so much more just waiting to be found. Wander the streets in the Sultanamet district and you’ll

Built in 1584, they open at 6am until midnight every day. Designed by the royal architect Sian, the building is steeped in history and exudes an atmosphere of another time. There are separate male and female bathing areas and friendly non-English speaking attendants who usher you around. The process is a little daunting at first but once you relax and let the attendants do their thing, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at what a unique and cleansing

discover trinket shops, less touristy yet

experience it is – no wonder the art of

still as beautiful mosques and smaller

bathing like this has been practiced for

bazaars (always next to a mosque). If you

hundreds of years.

have a sweet tooth then it will be hard to walk past the numerous delectable sweet shops seducing you inside.

Our days in Istanbul were none other than intensely enjoyable and our minds enriched forever. We certainly want

a variety of kebap with the most unusual

Less known about and close to the

to return again as we felt we only but

being kokoreç (made from goat or

Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia is the

touched the surface of what this bustling

sheep innards, chopped tomatoes, green

Basilica Cistern. Lying beneath the city,

and animated city has to offer.

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W Hotel Istanbul

The gleaming gold W on the pavement signifies our arrival at the W Istanbul. An angular mirrored corridor leads to the reception, and lobby lounge beyond. Already we are seeing and feeling things that are signatures of Starwood’s W brand – the hip vibe, the bright energy, the design features. We’re excited to be here.

The W Istanbul is situated in Bes¸iktas¸, on

had the luxury of a large and comfortable

the European shore of the Bosphorus and

outdoor cabana. Just the spot to relax

within the beautifully restored Akaretler

and chill with a wine or two at the end

Row Houses. The buildings, originally built

of the day before heading out for the

nearly 140 years ago were to serve as

evening. Or perhaps to spend an entire

additional housing for Dolmabahçe Palace

day of leisure, just reading and lazing the

staff. They were meticulously refurbished

hours away.

in 2008 and have now become home

Ottoman inspired design features, plush

to galleries, design stores, jewellers,

soft furnishings, W signature king-sized

classy bars and restaurants. The area has

bed and all the tech you need, including

become known as the ‘Soho’ district of

your own Smart Phone to use during your

Istanbul. However, you don’t have to

day. It’s even re-loaded with info on local

venture too far before you find yourself

places to see, top shopping spots and

amidst a myriad of local shops – from

dining options, as well as offering free

bakeries to clothing stores – if that is

local calls and unlimited 3G data.

what you’re after. The main access for ferry and boat trips along the Bosphorus is also very close.

The bathroom configuration is interesting in that it is a series of separate rooms to the left and right as you enter the

With only 140 suites and guestrooms

guestroom. This means there isn’t really

ranging from a 30 square metre

any private space for changing if that

Wonderful Room to the 170 square metre

is something you’re used to. Although,

Extreme Wow Suite, this hotel has a room

this style is “Ottoman”, so fitting for

type for everyone. Our Marvelous Room

the destination.

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This image: W Lounge Below: Leading Tunnel

W Istanbul at a glance

Marvelous Room

Category: Boutique City Hotel. Room Reviewed: Marvelous Room. What’s great? The complimentary Smart Phone – a real asset for navigating and getting info when out sightseeing. What’s not so great: There is no pool, which would be welcome in the searing Turkish heat, however the bartenders are eager to make cool and refreshing cocktails. Editor’s tip: The Marvelous Rooms on the 2nd floor each have their own private outdoor cabana. Other features of this hotel include the

of cheeses, rich red coloured tomatoes,

“Whatever Whenever®” service. We’ve

egg, cucumber and capsicum slices, fresh

used this before – just press the button

mint and basil were the key elements –

on your phone and request or ask about

accompanied by other fresh produce and

absolutely anything. The obliging staff

a daily changing sweet Turkish platter.

will just make it happen.

Eating like that was heavenly.

At the W Istanbul, you’re welcome to

Later in the day and into the evening, DJ’s

bring your pet along for your stay – they

fill the Lounge space with funky tunes,

get special treatment and even a set of

creating an upbeat mood that continues

personal amenities.

into the night. Perfect when arriving

Overall service level

back from dinner to have a drink before

Food & beverage

The W Lounge is a multi functional area to be enjoyed both during the day and

Rate: From NZ$495 per room per night for a Marvelous Room. Website: www.wistanbul.com.tr

Location

venturing back to your guestroom.

in the evening. For breakfast, they serve

The friendly staff, the vibe and the

an interesting selection of both Western

location combine to make the W Istanbul

and Turkish style. My preference was the

a fabulous base for exploring a part of

Turkish – traditional simit (like a chewy

Istanbul that first-time visitors to the city

sesame bagel), plump olives, a variety

might not venture to.

Room size Room interior

Business needs Value for money

New-style chic in a vibrant city.

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26 Palace Your Gstaad

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5

Our Top 5

European Alpine Retreats People have been taking Alpine holidays for hundreds of years, and Alpine hotels have been catering to their needs for almost as long. Unsurprisingly, there’s no shortage of mountainside accommodation for those who value the

après-ski experience as much the skiing itself. But which hotel should you book if you want a truly outstanding holiday? Here are our top European picks.

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Gstaad Palace Gstaad, Switzerland One of Switzerland’s most prestigious skiing destinations with more than 250-kilometres of slopes, Gstaad has long been attracting royalty and celebrities. There’s no shortage of luxury properties, but Gstaad Palace is iconic. With its fabulous turreted structure that rises from the chalet-strewn landscape, this hotel will give you the sensation of living in a fairytale. The grandeur of the setting is matched by the opulence of the facilities, with no fewer than six restaurants plus a nightclub. For a super-premium experience, book one of the two Tower Suites nestled in the hotel’s turrets, with views to die for. www.palace.ch

Aman Le Mélézin Courchevel, France On the French side of the Alps you’ll discover a different take on luxury. Francophiles will love the sophisticated décor and understated style of Aman Le Mélézin’s chambers and suites. Cedar panelled ceilings and walls create a cosy ambience while large picture windows frame some of the world’s most breathtaking landscapes. The scenery is even viewable from the bathtub in many suites – a lovely, luxurious touch. Hardcore ski fanatics will be pleased to learn that Aman Le Mélézin is ideally positioned to access 600 kilometres of groomed pistes in the Trois Vallées. www.aman.com

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Clockwise from top left: Gstaad Palace; Gstaad Palace Tower Suite; Aurelio Lech; Aurelio's Treasures; Aurelio's Licca Lounge; Aman Le Mélézin

Aurelio Lech Lech am Arlberg, Austria The people behind Aurelio Lech in the Austrian Alps have worked hard to create an opulent package without losing the charm of a boutique resort. There’s a spa with aroma salt steam rooms and herbal baths, a gourmet restaurant serving seasonal delicacies such as lake trout and fennel, and a 24-hour concierge on call. All the guestrooms and suites are individually designed and feature natural fabrics and stylish wooden furniture. We especially like the sound of their Alpine Chalet with accommodation for up to 16 people. It could be the ultimate base for your family or group holiday. www.aureliolech.com

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The Alpina Gstaad Gstaad, Switzerland A jewel of the Swiss hotel industry, the Alpina Gstaad has been attracting outstanding reviews since it opened in 2012. Complete with a Six Senses Spa, three innovative restaurants, specialised detox programme, option to “Silent Stay” and private art collection, there is more than just the expected. The 56 guestrooms and suites are decorated with classically carved ceilings, Swiss farmhouse chests and decorative accessories such as the traditional leather straps used to hold cowbells. The ultimate suite experience has to be the 400 square metre duplex Panorama Suite, with its elegant staircase leading to the suite’s top floor where you’ll discover a private spa, Jacuzzi, fitness and massage area, plus a stunning vista of the snow-capped mountain peaks. www.thealpinagstaad.ch

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This image and bottom right: The Alpina Panorama Suite

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This image: Wiesergut Restaurant Below: Wiesergut's stunning mountain view

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Wiesergut Hinterglemm, Austria This boutique property features 17 manor suites and seven garden suites with direct access to the skiing and hiking area of the Saalbach-Hinterglemm. Architecturally designed, glass encased buildings are built around a family-owned manor house that dates back to 1350. The result is an alpine sanctuary that exudes warmth while integrating seamlessly with the natural surroundings. The textures of untreated wood and weathered leather evoke the a sense of heritage while the clean lines and light-filled design leave you in doubt that this is 21st century luxury at its finest. Not to mention the views – they’re amazing. www.wiesergut.com

Your ultimate luxury and corporate travelWiesergut resource.Garden 33 Suite Images courtesy of Design Hotels™


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a n a h a m Luxury in the best possible taste

Nelson offers world-class produce and wines, plus a marvellous natural setting in which to enjoy them. In the last issue we introduced a luxury venue that brings all these good things together and serves them up amidst an internationally renowned art collection.

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At Mahana in the Moutere Hills you’ll find this nexus of good taste. Built around a luxury lodge – Mahana Villa – the property is part of the Small Luxury Hotels group, which places it in very exclusive company. There’s a well-established vineyard on site, producing some of New Zealand’s finest pinot noir, sauvignon blanc, pinot gris and riesling under the control of master winemaker Michael Glover. The package is rounded out with fine dining from the kitchen of Executive Chef Jason Innes. Michael Glover returned to Nelson earlier this year after 20 years building a reputation as one of Australia’s top winemakers with such names as Rothbury, Oakvale, Moorilla and Bannockburn. He also spent time in Europe, learning how the classic vintages of Burgundy and Italy attain their special character. According to Michael, it’s all about the terroir. This issue, we asked Michael and Jason about the thinking behind this sophisticated blend of hospitality. “Styles can be copied and techniques can be learned but the one thing that can’t be copied is the parcel of fruit that comes from a particular spot of the vineyard,” Michael says.

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The key to making wines in this unique corner of the world is the Moutere clay soils that enable vines to be dry-grown. With no irrigation systems pampering the grapes, what emerges is a pure expression of the land. In addition, the slopes and contours of the Moutere Hills landscape lend themselves to a boutique style of winemaking that’s closer to the family-owned plots of Burgundy than industrial-scale wine production. This sustainable approach to winemaking continues after harvesting, with all grapes processed in Mahana’s winery that’s built over four levels. The systems are gravityfed, enabling wines to be made without electrically powered processes. Michael is also a champion of the indigenous yeasts that ferment in their own sweet time and impart a unique character to the wine. Michael Glover’s approach to winemaking – which might be summarised as sophisticated but organic – is similar to the philosophy Jason Innes brings to Mahana’s cuisine. As Executive Chef, Jason caters for occasions ranging from intimate dinners at the Villa to 200-seater events in the Cellars. Whatever the setting, each meal benefits from his determination to showcase the local produce. Jason is passionate about making the most of Nelson’s bounty from the sea

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and land. Fresh produce from Mahana’s own gardens makes an appearance on every menu, supplemented with seafood, meat and artisan produce from the local growers. It’s all about working with the seasons and making the most of what’s available, from plump Nelson scallops to the freshest strawberries you can imagine. Drawing on 20 years’ professional experience in some of New Zealand’s top winery restaurants, Jason puts together menus every day to tempt the tastebuds of guests. Needless to say, each dish is perfectly matched with wines from the Mahana winery. The final component of the Mahana experience is art. The owner and Art Curator, Glenn Schaeffer, has sprinkled the grounds and buildings with priceless pieces from some very big names. Shane Cotton, Gordon Walters and Milan Mrkusich will be familiar to fans of New Zealand art, while artists such as Jenny Holzer, Richard Long and Yayoi Kusuma add a striking international influence. Feeding the soul – not to mention the stomach and senses – is all part of the service at one of New Zealand’s most sophisticated luxury resorts.


5 unforgettable experiences at Mahana Arrive by helicopter

Create your own bespoke tour

With its own helipad, Mahana caters for airborne arrivals. It’s

The team at Mahana will arrange outings and experiences

a great way to see the locale for the first time, whether you’re

that match your interests. Fly-fishing, heli-touring and

popping over from Wellington or touring the country in style.

gourmet food tasting are just a few of the possibilities.

Stage an amazing wedding or conference

Eat and sleep in an art gallery

More than just a boutique lodge, Mahana can cater for up to 200

With iconic art works dotting the grounds and adorning

guests at a wedding or business retreat. Many corporate clients

the walls, your stay will be artistic as well as hedonistic.

find the matchless beauty of the setting inspires fresh thinking.

www.mahana.nz

Sample some very special wines If you’re tired of generic wines, Michael Glover and his team will introduce you to their intriguing versions of pinot noir and sauvignon blanc, made organically and aged to perfection.

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Cruising in Tahiti. Three words that promise a holiday like no other. Drop them into the conversation, and wait for the envious remarks and heartfelt congratulations. The thing is, cruising the gorgeous archipelagos that make

and make yourself at home in your cabin. For the next

up French Polynesia needn’t be a pastime restricted to

week or so you’ll be taken to a succession of stunning

tycoons and lottery winners. These beautiful islands are

destinations, with no taxis or hotel check-in counters to

very accessible from New Zealand, and there are a growing number of cruise lines offering very attractive packages. If you long to see the sun set over Bora Bora or splash about in crystal-clear lagoons, you may be surprised at how many options there are.

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navigate. Your water-borne hotel has everything you need, including fine dining and nightly entertainment. Every day is different but nothing’s an effort. We’ve surveyed the latest offerings from the cruise

As with other cruising holidays, practicality goes hand in

companies that specialise in Tahiti. Here’s the pick of the

hand with luxury. You board the ship, unpack your gear

tropical bunch.

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Paul Gauguin Cruises The fine art of cruising Paul Gauguin the artist found inspiration (and ended his days) in French Polynesia. Paul Gauguin the cruise line is equally at home in these parts. Their latest ship was specifically designed to sail the shallow seas of Tahiti and other parts of Polynesia, visiting the small ports that other ships can’t reach and providing a relaxing home for its guests. With five-star service and a selection of spacious suites and staterooms, this is a very engaging way to discover the beauties of Tahiti and the surrounding islands. While Paul Gauguin is built on more compact lines than some of the gargantuan cruise ships that traverse the oceans, you won’t be lacking in luxuries. This ship is equipped with an extensive spa, onboard watersports marina and no fewer than three dining facilities. With cruises ranging from seven to 14 days, you’ll be surprised at how time flies. www.pgcruises.com

Getting there The capital of French Polynesia, Papeete, is only a short plane trip away so you can be cruising the picturesque waters of the South Pacific in no time. Most cruise lines depart from the main island, soon after setting sail for the breathtakingly beautiful Tuamotu atolls, the far-flung Marquesas and the famed Society Island of Bora Bora. As the international airline of Tahiti, Air Tahiti Nui prides itself on sharing the beautiful and unique attributes of the island nation’s culture, lifestyle and people with each and every guest, seamlessly blending the natural beauty of French Polynesia with the warmth of the Tahitian people to offer a memorable flight across the Pacific. Air Tahiti Nui offers excellent connections between Auckland and Tahiti, with three weekly flights year-round. You’ll also be able to take advantage of their excellent connections onward to Los Angeles and France. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. Tahiti and the rest of French Polynesia is waiting for you. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of cruising amongst these impossibly beautiful tropical islands, you’ll find there’s a lot to keep you there. Chances are, you won’t want to leave.

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Windstar Cruises Powered by the trade winds Perhaps the most romantic way to discover French Polynesia is aboard Windstar’s graceful sailing yacht. A vessel like Wind Spirit is the ideal way to approach Tahiti’s deserted motus and shallow lagoons, with its billowing white sails and wide teak decks. The trade winds fill your ship’s sails as you visit one legendary island after another. Dive into warm lagoons, meander through lush rainforests and encounter one of the surviving heartlands of Polynesian culture. The ships of the Windstar fleet are famous for their atmosphere. There are hidden nooks for quiet moments, so you can luxuriate on your own and watch the island peaks rise above the horizon. All staterooms come with ocean views, queen beds, flatscreen TV and a Bose Sound Dock for your iPod. Other onboard features include a spa, casino, lounge, library,

Aranui 5

watersports platform, pool and hot tub.

Cargo meets cruising

www.windstarcruises.com

Nostalgics pine for the glory days of sea travel when ships on a regular circuit supplied isolated isles. Booking a cabin on one of these workhorses offered a different type of cruise experience – one where the rhythms of a cargo ship mingled with the happy chitchat of holidaymakers. Those days can be re-visited on the Aranui 5 – a cruise ship that also serves as a cargo freighter linking the islands of French Polynesia. With capacity for 254 passengers, the modern 126-metre long Aranui 5 offers a range of stylish accommodation options, from single staterooms to premium and deluxe categories. The ship dispenses a lifeline of food, fuel and other staples to remote island ports while passengers disembark and explore a range of complimentary excursions including hikes, 4WD sightseeing tours to main archaeological sites with lecturers, a visit to the Paul Gauguin and Jacques Brel museum, and a picnic on a secluded beach in Bora Bora. www.aranui.com

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Photo: Gregoire Le Bacon

Worlds away from what’s expected

www.tahitinow.com Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.

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QT Sydney Lobby Furniture Wall

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QT Hotel

Sydney

Located in the historic Gowings Department and State Theatre buildings, the QT Sydney hotel street entrance is not particularly prominent except for the presence of the friendly “Chaos Girls” who were waiting to greet us. Dressed in striking costumes fit for a burlesque show, they guided us the short distance to the elevators. The ambience in the lobby immediately gives a feeling that you are stepping into a world of indulgence. A world sitting adjacent to reality, where the symbolism all around could materialise into actuality – if you dare let it. This is not your ordinary hotel. QT hotels have a way of doing this through their quirky themes that step outside the routine of everyday life. Where you are transported to another place, perhaps a little outside your comfort zone. Where you can just relax, open your mind and let yourself be part of the theme during your stay. Head on up to your floor and along the darkened hallway to your guestroom and you’ll find more indulgence – various notes strategically placed invite you to partake in little luxuries like making an Espresso Martini (all ingredients supplied). Many of the items that adorn the room, from the cocktail shaker to the candle votives are all available to be purchased. In the mini bar you might find the

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usual items and so many more that are idiosyncratic of the establishment – an Emergency Bowtie and a pack of Pick-up Sticks, to name a few. Resplendent and rich with colour, the furnishings ooze gorgeousness. The plushy

QT Sydney at a glance

bed floats on top of a thick hexagonal rug, adorned with velvety cushions and shaggy sheepskin rug in a deep burgundy shade. The mood lighting bathes everything in a soft amber glow. With house music beats to set the scene against the soft clinking of Champagne glasses, you’ll soon be ready for a big night out. The circular bath sits centre stage in the uber stylish bathroom, which has glass sliders that open out to the bedroom. The amenities are a selection from botanical based Malin + Goetz range. Be sure to allow time for a trip to SpaQ. Try a K-Lift therapy treatment by Kerstin Florian for a high-tech high-performance anti-aging boost. You’re encouraged to let your therapist guide and select a custom-made experience for you to fit your mood and well-being at the time of your appointment. For the gentlemen, The Barber is a sure way to feel the nostalgia of the surroundings while enjoying the precise tradition of male grooming. Gowings Bar & Grill has a great atmosphere in an on-trend, contemporary setting. With an extensive and interesting menu, there’s a lot of choice for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Throughout the hotel there are still elements of the celebrated historic buildings in which the hotel has made its home. For example, the signs in the stairwell advising the type of merchandise that was for sale in a bygone time. The

QT Sydney Executive King

Category: Boutique City Hotel.

public spaces cleverly merge the old and the new giving an eclectic result that

Room Reviewed: Executive King.

really works. There is a strong emphasis on art with many significant pieces

What’s great? A great stay for a party or shopping weekend in the city. This hotel has the vibe and ambience for a chic and stylish stay.

throughout the hotel. Continually looking for ways to support local and emerging talent, QT recently celebrated Sydney’s Sculpture by the Sea outdoor exhibition, offering guests a special package to stay and take in the exhibits. All of this combined is what makes this hotel interesting and a very enjoyable place to stay.

What’s not so great: Our mini bar didn’t get replenished during our stay. Editor’s tip: Be sure to make reservations at Gowings prior to your weekend stay as it is pretty popular. Rate: From AU$570 per room per night for an Executive King Room. Website: www.qtsydney.com.au

Location Room size Room interior Overall service level Food & beverage Business needs Spa facilities Value for money

Eccentric and theatrical in the city.

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SpaQ Treatment Room


Spicers Balfour Library

From urban sanctuary to luxury gourmet haven

Story: Janice Burmaz

As new age explorers and retreat seekers, we are all looking for the ultimate experience. Whether it be a suburban sanctuary with all the creature comforts or wide open spaces where we are in harmony with nature, while indulging in lashings of luxury. These places do exist and where you’d least expect. As first time visitors to this area, arriving on a late evening flight

Brisbanite’s, with a reputation for high quality cuisine. The hotel

into Brisbane, we head directly to Spicers Balfour Hotel. Located

has received many awards for its hospitality and great food.

in New Farm, an inner city suburb within close proximity to the

The emphasis here is on relaxation, the staff to guest ratio is

CBD, Spicers Balfour on Balfour Street is very chic and boutique.

high – almost as if you have your own personalised butler. Plus,

A charming old nine bedroom Queenslander villa has been

to make yourself feel right at home, you are welcome to help

converted and the character of the building makes this a very

yourself to a drink from the honesty bar.

unique stay and exudes a warmth and friendliness, which feels like a home away from home. Recently the neighbouring art deco building called Simla has been added to the portfolio. Linked to Balfour, it houses eight suites and conference facilities.

The clever use of redesigned spaces means that guests can enjoy a quaint courtyard room or terrace suite and enjoy the bright lights of the Story Bridge and cityscape along with Champagne and canapés at the roof top bar. Having never stayed at a Spicer’s property before, this is an enlightening introduction

The Balfour Kitchen is a neighbourhood restaurant and has

to their portfolio and I can only describe my overnight stay at

become an extremely popular place to dine amongst local

Balfour as being ‘Spicer-tised’.

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After a hearty Balfour breakfast, the GPS is locked in as we head

We are here for a special food experience to test out a new

for the hills. Driving west from Brisbane in just under 2-hours

degustation menu from the Spicers Kitchen designed by head

we are amongst The Great Dividing Range of inland Australia.

Chef, Doug Innes. Before dinner, we have time to venture

We are high above the coastal plains, as far as the GPS will

out for a stroll around the Lodge Plateau Track to watch the

guide us, where we leave the main highway and follow signs

kangaroo families bounce about enjoying the last few rays of

to Spicers Peak Lodge. Driving through native bush, taking our

sunshine as the sun sets in the distance. There are a number

time, we wind our way up the road catching glimpses of startled

of other tracks to walk, jog or ride depending on time and

kangaroos hopping on and off the road in the dappled sunlight.

fitness level.

Aboriginal people once hunted these ranges and Spicers Peak

In preparation for our gastronomic experience, we return to

was known as ‘Barguggan’. In this area there are bandicoots,

our rooms to freshen up and enjoy a glass of Champagne or

walaroos, koala, abundant birdlife and six different kangaroo

two in front of our open fireplace. Sharing a long table in the

species (a couple of which make it onto the endangered list).

main dining room with fellow retreaters, we introduce ourselves

After 12-kilometres we emerge from our bushy hill climb into

and find that we are all here under different circumstances but

a clearing on the top of the western spine of Spicers Peak,

all for the same reason – to relax and escape our daily grind.

1,100 metres above sea level and part of the 8,000 acres

Chef Innes has designed a selection of experimental dishes

of working farmland. We feel like we are a world away.

using fresh local ingredients in a way that neither he nor we

In the middle of the expansive grassy plateau stands Spicers

are likely to have experienced before. For every dish there is a wine match and he explains the connection to the ingredients

Peak Lodge. Where the sun rises and sets with unobstructed

throughout the dinner service, inviting us to give feedback

360º views across The Great Divide.

between each course. This is real test for our taste buds

The building is quite grand, with large exterior support beams and high stone chimneys. Inside it is spacious with a distinctly

leaving us surprised and bemused by his wonderful yet bizarre combinations.

alpine look and feel with an exceptionally high stud and large

We tasted: Fraser Spanner Crab combined with buttermilk,

stone open fireplace. The fire is blazing, taking the chill off the

whitlof and mandarin (Claire Valley Riesling), butter poached

autumn air. We are greeted and shown to our room where we

freshwater crayfish with turnips, sprouts and chèvre, (Cape

can retreat and relax with all the home comforts, as well as the

Mentelle Sauvignon Blanc Semillon), a confit of Kipfler,

luxurious extras.

artichoke, sprout and chèvre (Journey Wines Chardonnay),

This page opposite: 46 and Your ultimate Spicers Peak Lodge

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pork with pine mushroom, bone marrow and celeriac (Stonehorse Grenache Shiraz Mourvedre), corned beef, velouté, green olives and fungi (Gnarly Dudes Shiraz), ending with the most unusual version of rocky road made from cacao, parsnip and malt (Hollick Dessert Wine – The Nectar). An extraordinary culinary experience. A real stretch for the imagination and a once-in-a-lifetime signature taste experience, as no two ‘test’ menus are the same. Time to retire and take a spot in front of the fire in the main lounge or for those all talked-out, to the confines of their room, while a few head upstairs to the pool room. This is truly an escape from the norm along with lashings of luxury and leaving us with a taste for more. Spicers have a number of luxury retreats scattered throughout South East Queensland and New South Wales, with new developments on the horizon. www.spicersretreats.com

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d n a S e t i h W

g n i d d e W e t i Wh

When you’re planning your special day it’s natural to start thinking about a very special location in which to stage the ceremony. Fiji fits the bill in so many ways. Just a few hours from home, it’s a sun-splashed paradise with countless islands and almost as many resorts. And of course, Fiji provides the opportunity for a wonderful post-wedding holiday for everyone who attends. We’ve surveyed the options and shone the spotlight on a few of our favourites. Each resort offers something unique, but all have the potential to make your wedding an unforgettable occasion.

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Royal Davui Barefoot and fancy-free Some couples hanker for a big, ornate wedding with 250 of their closest friends. Others just want to elope somewhere very special, discreet and beautiful. If you’re in this second group, we recommend Royal Davui. An exclusive, adultsonly sanctuary in the spectacular Beqa Lagoon, this private island offers a degree of elegance and luxury you won’t find in many larger resorts. Whether you’re arriving as a couple or part of a larger wedding party, Royal Davui is ideal for your romantic getaway. With only 16 villas on the island, you could book the entire property and enjoy a truly personalised experience. When it’s time to exchange vows you can opt for a simple, barefoot beachside ceremony or create something more elaborate. Whatever wedding style you choose, this idyllic island with its white sand beaches and amazing setting will provide the most unforgettable setting for your special day. Matrimonial memories are made of this. www.royaldavuifiji.com

This page: Royal Davui Images by: Kama Catch Me

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This image and top right: Savasi Island Images by: Marina Savenkov

Likuliku Lagoon Resort Awaken to the sound of lapping waves A tropical wedding plus accommodation in an overwater bungalow – this must be one of the most romantic combinations imaginable. At Likuliku in Fiji’s gorgeous Mamanuca archipelago, you can enjoy this matrimonial double with their Marau and Dodomo packages. Exchange vows on the beach at sunset, around the magnificent horizon edge pool or on the deck at one of Fiji’s only overwater bures. Celebrant and document fees are included, and the higher priced packages also come with extras such as Fijian Choir and Warrior Escort, not to mention a luxurious treatment for the bride and groom at the Tatadra Spa. What of the resort itself? Likuliku means ‘calm waters,’ which gives a sense of the subtle luxury on offer. Designed along the lines of a traditional Fijian village, Likuliku Lagoon blends sophistication with tradition. And to cap it all, there’s the undeniable romance of waking up on your wedding morning in an overwater bure, with a day of celebrations to look forward to. It doesn’t get much better than that. www.likulikulagoon.com

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Savasi Island Boutique luxury for an intimate occasion With just seven stunning bures, this is a fantastic resort to book out for your intimate group of family and friends. You could have the whole place to yourself with pristine coral reefs, stunning sea views, giant banyan trees and secluded jungle paths to explore. Savasi Island is a tiny hideaway on Fiji’s second main island of Vanua Levu, connected to the mainland by a causeway and easily reached via Savusavu or Labasa airports. It has the feel of an escape from the modern world – relaxed, private and tranquil. Their all-inclusive wedding package covers the essentials (celebrant, marriage licence, wedding cake) and some charming extra touches (bespoke floral archway, wedding coordinator, candlelit dinner for two on the beach). Book out the entire island for a party of 24 and you’ll enjoy a fully inclusive package with all meals, welcome cocktails, celebratory dinner for the entire party on the beach, and more. There’s a minimum three-night stay but we’re picking your group will want to settle in for longer. www.savasiisland.com

Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource. 51 This image and bottom left: Likuliku Lagoon


This image: Namale

Yasawa Island Resort & Spa Splendid isolation with some opulent extras If you love the idea of getting away from it all – but enjoying the

When it comes to exchanging or renewing your vows, the

best of everything – Yasawa Island Resort & Spa should be near

Resort will go out of its way to ensure you enjoy the ceremony

the top of your list. Imagine bringing your wedding party to an

of your dreams. Weddings are usually held on the beach

island with 11 amazing beaches where you can enjoy private

towards sunset, with traditional decorations and tropical flowers

picnics with seafood and Champagne. You’ll be staying in an

adding to the occasion. You can invite the choir from nearby

area of outstanding natural beauty, with no other commercial

Bukama village to add their harmonious voices to the mix.

development closer than an hour’s boat ride. The spacious bures all enjoy beachfront locations, and each one is equipped with a romantic private outdoor shower. The ambience is intimate, welcoming and very luxurious.

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This image and right: Yasawa Island Resort & Spa

The resort also offers a dedicated honeymoon bure, so every day of your stay will feel extra-special. www.yasawa.com


another, less obvious side to Fiji’s natural beauty.

Get me to the isle on time!

Namale is situated in a secluded corner of the country

While it may be traditional for the bride to make her appearance

where the rainforest meets the ocean, sprawling

at the last possible minute, no one wants a wedding where the

across several hundred hectares of a former coconut

whole party arrives at the resort late, tired and flustered. That’s

plantation. There are cool forest pathways and beautiful

why it makes sense to book the services of Fiji’s premium air

waterfalls as well as white-sand beaches to explore. As

transport service.

Namale Resort & Spa Lush, lavish and romantic Beaches and ocean views are wonderful, but there’s

such, it provides an intriguingly different venue for your tropical wedding.

Island Hoppers specialises in smooth, timely helicopter and fixed wing aeroplane transfers. The airline boasts a modern fleet of

Namale specialises in creating romantic moments for

seven helicopters (catering for two to 14 passengers) plus three

newlywed guests. You could enjoy an idyllic breakfast

turbine-powered aircraft with seating for nine passengers each.

beside a waterfall, take an afternoon ride on horseback

The helicopters are ideal for nearby island groups such as the

along the beach and relax over a candlelit dinner in a

Mamanucas and Yasawas, while the fixed wing aircraft primarily

cool, mysterious grotto. This blend of natural beauty

serve more remote destinations such as Savusavu and Taveuni.

with unforgettable experiences has lured many celebrity

There are services operating all year round, from sunrise to sunset,

guests over the years, from Donna Karan and Russell

and serving all the main tourist destinations.

Crowe to Meg Ryan and Quincy Jones. They obviously have a taste for the finer things in life – and there’s no

The Island Hoppers Resort Express service meets and greets all

reason you can’t join them in it. www.namalefiji.com

passengers at Nadi International airport. You’ll be escorted to their private reception lounge near the main terminal, where you can relax in air-conditioned comfort before boarding for your flight. There’s no doubt that arriving in a helicopter adds to the sense of occasion as you prepare for your special day. But Island Hoppers’ service isn’t just about chauffeuring you to and from your destination. They also offer panoramic helicopter flights over the beautiful islands, resorts and reefs of the Mamanucas. Feeling more adventurous? Another scenic excursion can take you into the highlands of the Mt Evans Ranges, viewing rainforests and waterfalls. Island Day Packages are available for those who fancy a change of scene from the mainland. Heli golf and other heli adventures are also available. It makes the traditional bridal car look a little well, ordinary. www.helicopters.com.fj

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The ultimate pampering experience at the Spa Vomo is a luxurious island escape, just a short, scenic flight from Fiji’s Nadi airport. It truly is one-of-a-kind, with no other hotels or resorts on the island. With just 30 villa accommodations, soft sand beaches and crystalline waters, the carefully crafted Vomo experience matches the description of ‘boutique island hideaway.’ Guests enjoy the best of everything – from five-star cuisine at the resort’s signature Reef restaurant to a PADI Dive Centre, boutique Kid’s Club and gourmet picnics on a deserted beach. Then, because a five-star resort on a private island needs

Spa – are formulated using a unique natural combination

something extra, the owners of Vomo added something

of biochemistry, aromatherapy and Ayurvedic principles.

extra: an ultra-luxurious spa.

In Sanskrit, Sodashi translates to ‘wholeness, purity and

Volcanic rocks were gathered from Vomo Island and the nearby deserted sister island, Vomo Lai Lai, to form a central wall within the spa interior, giving an organic feel and immediate sense of place. Tucked into the corner of a natural palm tree grove, the spa’s unique ritual experience begins with

radiance,’ words that aptly describe Sodashi products and unique spa treatments. Produced in Australia, Sodashi’s skin and body care products and spa therapies use only natural sources from the earth and sea, including extracts and essential oils of the purest and highest grade.

a refreshing ruby red hibiscus drink made from the extracts of

Not a single synthetic chemical, preservative or fragrance is

the beautiful tropical flower, paired with a traditional Thai

used in their manufacturing process. Products are never tested

foot pampering.

on animals and Sodashi packaging is recyclable and printed

The team of talented and experienced Thai therapists apply

with natural vegetable dyes.

a wide range of luxurious treatments including the signature

While the products are an important point of difference, it’s

hour-long Sodashi Calm Facial, which uses soothing methods

the whole package that makes the difference. And this is

to nourish over-stimulated skin. Cooling mists and aromatic

where the team at Vomo have excelled. Couples can enjoy a

gels nurture the skin, while Sodashi’s unique plant essence

relaxing, romantic ritual, or perhaps you’d rather book yourself

and herbal extracts strengthen capillaries and desensitize the

in for some one-on-one pampering? If you’ve brought the

skin. Another signature treatment is the Sodashi Detoxifying

whole family on holiday, you can even book your little ones a

Marine Body Wrap that naturally combines the richness of sea

treatment from the unique ‘KidZpa’ menu at Kids’ Village, the

plants, algae, marine minerals and plant essences for a deep

resort’s comprehensive kids’ programme centre.

body detox at all levels.

The Vomo Island Resort Spa is the crowning glory of a very

Catering to both men and women, the extensive range of

special resort. Making the most of its unique location, it adds

Sodashi luxurious products – which are used in all new and

an opulent extra touch to a Fijian holiday. Keep that in mind

existing facial and body therapies at Vomo Island Resort

when planning your next tropical getaway.

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Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource. www.vomofiji.com

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Laneway in Grasse

of s s e n t e e w S lombe d'Or

La Co

There are worse places in the world to visit for work than the South of France and that’s where I found myself one recent Northern spring to develop our fragrances in Grasse. Grasse is, of course, synonymous with fragrance – the world’s capital of perfume, the place where it all started in the early 17th century. Grasse is home to the greatest fragrances, fragrance houses and noses in the world. All this means that Grasse was the only place we were ever going to work when it came to creating our own juices.

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Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource. Story: Karen Walker


Ceramic mural at La Colombe d'Or by Fernand Léger

The town itself is old-industrial with many

La Colombe quickly became the most

the mid 20th century’s greatest artists,

18th and 19th century factories dotting

fashionable hotel in Provence – an

Calder and César amongst them.

its steep streets. While these factories

antidote to the Riviera’s luxury hotels.

are no longer used for production, they

Dukes, countesses, millionaires, fortune

remain an important part of the town and

hunters and famous artists were thrown

its look and feel while the surrounding

together here. The Duke of Windsor

farms are beautiful when in bloom with

became a frequent visitor.

As a result, La Colombe d’Or is all about the art. No matter where you look there’s a great work by a master of the 20th century: Picasso, Miró, Renoir, Matisse, Chagall, Braque, Calder, Léger, César

violet, jasmine and lavender. In 1940 uneasiness, or a sense of duty,

and many others casually cover the walls

A half hour drive from Grasse is the even

sent most of La Colombe d’Or’s leading

or extend out onto the terraces. The

more stunning Saint-Paul-de-Vence.

figures running for home and when

highlight of the stay for me was dining

It’s one of the oldest and prettiest

the south became the “free zone”,

fireside in the lovely dining room while

medieval villages on the French Riviera,

La Colombe d’Or became a meeting place

candlelight played off the Miro, the

for the many artists who made the Cote

Picasso, the Léger, and the Braque

d’Azur their refuge. It was around this

next to my table.

with a population of just 3,500 and its fortified medieval village still fully intact. Sitting on the threshold of the village is La Colombe d’Or (“The Golden Dove”) – a hotel with an atmosphere and a story like no other I’ve experienced.

time that Picasso first visited the hotel and he became a faithful and attentive friend of Paul’s.

The hotel is small with just 25 rooms. The views from the rooms are lovely – the incredibly pretty town and its

At the end of the war the international

surrounds with the Alps in the distance.

The hotel opened as a Provençal inn in

crowd descended upon the region and

The buildings are a typical French village

1931. The founder, Paul Roux, had a

they too fell for La Colombe d’Or.

style – stone and wood, whitewashed

strong interest in art, and La Colombe

It was here that American cinema came

walls and tiled floors. It has a particularly

soon became a gathering place for

together with the elite of European

romantic terrace – perfect at any

artists including Braque, Léger, Miró and

cinema, literature and painting. By this

time of day but sensational for a petit

Chagall. Matisse became close friends

time a new generation of the family,

déjeuner of croissant and café au lait

with Paul and many of the artists who

Francis Roux, had begun to take over the

while the morning sun cuts through the

visited exchanged paintings for a few

running of the hotel and he continued

surrounding cypresses and the large

meals or a room. Soon, the walls of the

his father’s tradition of making the hotel

Léger ceramic peeps through the slightly

inn were covered with art.

a home-away-from-home for many of

overgrown ivy. On the other side of the

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inn, beside the blue-green pool, a Calder mobile hangs over the deep end and it’s not hard to picture Alain Delon lounging by the giant cypresses. Ghosts of past guests are everywhere at this hotel. So iconic are past visitors and so much a part of the hotel’s identity that it’s impossible not to imagine the terrace being enjoyed by Brigitte Bardot, David Niven, Orson Wells, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Roger Moore, Tony Curtis, Sophia Loren, Simone de Beauvoir or Cocteau. The hotel is certainly not polished or even particularly hip. It’s something much better. It’s charming, familial, and with a look and an atmosphere unlike any other place. It’s nostalgic and reeks of its story and yet it’s completely at ease in the present. As César once said of it: “For me, it’s a place that’s as full of promise as of magnificent memories.” Unfortunately I only had a few nights at La Colombe d’Or and they were experienced entirely through a haze of jet lag and general fatigue from huge workdays. However, it’s at the top of my list for a return visit, this time as a holidaymaker to fully enjoy the languorous sweetness of Provençal life. Colette wrote in the visitors’ book: “Wait for me, Colombe, I’m coming back!” Moi aussi La Colombe!

Karen Walker is a fashion designer. She lives in New Zealand and travels the world.

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NEW ZEALAND

FASHION WEEK 2016

New Zealand Fashion Week was again an inspiring combination of iconic and emerging designs from the country’s immense pool of talent. Writer and blogger, Elena Mironova reviews the 2015 season for us. With a continuing passion for fashion and all things beautiful, she combines her European heritage with New Zealand tastes to inspire and influence in the fashion space.

Andrea Moore

Andrea Moore has the unique ability to turn any garment into a piece of fashion art. So how does she achieve this? With her strong creative direction and passion for fun hues and bold prints. A highly acclaimed collection featuring beautifully tailored and versatile trench coats in relaxed shapes that are sure to come in handy and class-up any holiday.

Trelise Cooper always fills the room with an amazing explosion of colours, fabrics, textures and shapes. Vibrant and juicy shades like citrus, fuchsia and sky blue in nonchalant feminine flirty designs seem to encourage you not to take yourself too seriously and just have fun! Ideal for any adventurous European summer.

Willa & Mae

Trelise Cooper This luxurious sleepwear brand brings the art of living to a whole new level with sensually understated silk and cotton garments. Pastel shades complemented by the elegant shapes create a boudoir-like ambiance on the runway. A perfectly mischievous treat to pack for a romantic getaway.

Kate Sylvester

Fluid and feminine shapes designed to make you feel like a goddess. Ranging from basics to classics with a twist, Kate Sylvester’s collection showcased must-have pieces in both vibrant and earthy hues to delight any woman. From morning to night, you’ll be the best dressed on any continent.

One of the most anticipated shows, Hailwood featured signature metallics and bursts of electric blue colour. Gowns over pants, sheer fabrics and superb tailoring displayed the designer’s vision of a modern woman.

Hailwood

Despite being a fashion week veteran, Zambesi’s show was still one of the stand-outs… again! Highly texturised fabrics made for a bold statement on the runway, combined with reserved hues of burgundy, grey, cream, terracotta and khaki. Expertly tailored suits and coats were the highlights of this incredible Zambesi show. A sophisticated fit for that tailored business trip. Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource.

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Photography: Fergus Clark


Singapore Airlines Business Class Review

Story: Phil Harrison

Singapore Airlines is one of the world’s true 5-star airlines – the sort of operator that has always set the benchmark for long-haul Business Class travel. A few years ago LUXURY travelled on their Business product and spoke highly of the experience. I had been given the enviable task of road-testing it again to see if it still stands up to the reputation for which they are renowned. On boarding, the first thing I noticed – apart from the

For me, one of the most compelling reasons for paying the

ambience of calm professionalism – was the layout of the cabin.

extra to fly Business Class, especially long haul, is the significant

The Business Class section on my Auckland-Singapore flight

additional legroom. That, and a fully flat, 180-degree horizontal

consisted of 42 seats split into two cabins directly behind First Class at the front of the aircraft. The seat configuration of 1-2-1 allows for direct aisle access, which is becoming a must-have in Business.

seat. The quality of seat, and thus one’s ability to stretch out and sleep, can vary markedly between different carriers. And of course, the seat must also be comfortable in daytime reclining mode. In both cases, Singapore Airlines have succeeded. Upholstered

I was warmly welcomed, shown to my seat and made to feel at

in high-grade leather and at 30-inches wide, their Business Class

home. Take-off procedures went smoothly, and before I

seat is around 50% wider than the Business Class seats on many

knew it, the flight was underway. With a glass of Taittinger

other airlines – more akin to a First Class seat.

champagne in hand, I scanned the menu and looked forward

This extra width, combined with the seat’s ultra-comfy

to the flight ahead.

cushioning, is hard to beat for a long haul flight. The seats are

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private and nicely cocooned, which is a particular bonus if you

For my three-course lunch I settled on some exceptional

are travelling solo and choose a window option. The overall

Singapore-style chicken and beef satays with onion, cucumber

design is very clever with multiple storage spaces and

and spicy peanut sauce followed by a Matt Moran-style seared

an oversized tray for dining or work. This working surface

beef fillet in a mushroom Madeira sauce with roasted shallots,

includes an all-in-one business panel with in-seat power supply

green beans, garlic confit and boiled potatoes. Dessert seemed

and USB ports.

an indulgent luxury too far, but I was tempted to order an

With a seat pitch of 51-inches, there’s plenty of space to stretch out, work or simply sit back and watch a movie or two. Kris World, Singapore Airlines’ entertainment system, spoils you for choice, with an awe-inspiring selection of newly released blockbusters, TV, audio and games – all viewed on your 15.4inch wide LCD screen.

irresistible looking opera cake with zebra chocolate cigar. To accompany lunch I settled on a very refined 2011 Chateau Tour Haut-Caussan Cru Bourgeois from Medoc, Bordeaux. Then the lights were dimmed and it was time to turn in. The ability to get a good night’s sleep is perhaps the ultimate test for a Business Class seat, and I’m pleased to say Singapore

Quite often, when it comes to airline food, the menu reads a

Airlines excelled in this respect – I found the fully reclined seat to

lot better than it tastes. Fortunately, I have travelled enough to

be one of the most comfortable I’ve reviewed. The seat folds back

know that this is an area where Singapore Airlines have always

onto itself to transform into a spacious, fully flat surface rather

stood out from the rest. The cuisine on offer has been created

than simply reclining to a 180-degree position. This is preferable,

by an international culinary panel of celebrated chefs from

as instead of having the indentations of the seat cushions playing

around the globe.

havoc with your spine, you have one flat surface.

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Singapore Airlines Business Class The Facts

So does the Business Class package still rate well? More than just having a great product, to truly excel an airline needs a service level to match. Singapore Airlines has long been recognised as one of the world’s finest, having won multiple awards for in-flight excellence. I found all the attendants to be discreet yet attentive, and the service was always delivered with grace and a winning smile. I feel that Singapore Airlines’ Business Class still remains one of the finest in the sky. Coupled with their vast network of destinations, it also allows for a seamless journey to Asia, Europe and beyond. Singapore Airlines, you’re still a great way to fly. Again – it really was like a dream!

New Premium Economy On 26 October 2015, Singapore Airlines’ new Premium Economy cabin was launched in New Zealand.

Plane: 777-300ER. Cabin: Business Class, configuration 1 + 2 + 1. Seat: 20D. 180º Flat Bed Seat: 51-inch (129.5cm) pitch, 30-inch (76.2cm) width. Entertainment: Fantastic selection of movies, music and TV series. Baggage allowance: Business Class allowance is 2x items of checked luggage (up to 40kg each) plus a carry on bag. Service: Full service onboard dining created by international culinary panel of celebrated chefs. Inflight crew discrete and very attentive. Route: Auckland to Singapore. Flight time: Approx. 10 hours, daily service. Price: Approx. NZ$5487 return plus taxes. Highlight: The width and comfort of the seat. The excellent quality of service also deserves a mention.

A two-year development program and significant investment has created a notably improved product for the Airline. When asked about how passengers might respond to the new features, Executive Vice President Commercial, Mr Mak Swee Wah said, “we are confident that what we are delivering will exceed their expectations.” This could be partly due to the incorporation of several of their customers’ suggestions into the new product. Each seat has full leather finishing and a width ranging between 18.5-19.5 inches (47-49.5cm) and offers an 8-inch (20.3cm) recline for more ease and comfort. A calf-rest and foot-bar accompanies every seat, plus individual in-seat power supply, two USB ports, personal in-seat reading light, cocktail table, as well as additional stowage space for personal items such as a water bottle, mobile phone and laptop. Complementing all of this is a sleek 13.3 inch (33.7cm) full HD monitor, the largest in its class.

Lowlight: Departed a little late, but made up the time and actually arrived early. Tip: Business Class is separated into two cabins. Try and book a seat in the front cabin located directly behind First Class, as it’s smaller and more intimate. Website: www.singaporeair.com

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To enhance the individuality of the new class, seat amenities such as the headrest cover, cushion and blanket come in specially selected and matching colours. Champagne will be flowing, in addition to a selection of curated wines, to accompany a more extensive range of dining options. “Book-the-Cook” is a feature available on select routes,which give passengers the opportunity to book their meals up to 24-hours before they fly. On top of that is the generous baggage allowance of 35kg and KrisFlyer members will receive 10% more miles when they fly in Premium Economy Class.


Mandarin Oriental Singapore It’s easy to underestimate Singapore. Ideally situated for stopovers on the way to and from Europe, many travellers simply take advantage of the superb transit facilities at Changi Airport before hopping on board their next long-haul flight. However, those in the know have long recognised the potential of Singapore for a two or three-day break, or something even longer. With its tropical climate, amazing shopping and yearround tourist attractions, the Lion City offers you the chance to enjoy a sumptuous holiday, Asia-style. To make the most of the experience, it helps to book yourself a room or suite at one of the very best of the city state’s 5-star hotels. The Mandarin Oriental certainly fits that description. And so we found ourselves looking forward to a couple of idle days in the lap of Oriental luxury. Designed in the shape of a fan – which also happens to be the hotel group’s logo – the Mandarin Oriental has long been recognised as one of the finest 5-star options in Singapore. Like all Mandarin Oriental properties, it has a distinctive identity, which is refreshing. One thing that all the Group’s hotels have in common is an unwavering commitment to refined customer

service, as well as exquisite Asian design touches, giving a nod to their Oriental pedigree. The experience begins the moment you walk into the lobby. Mood lighting and lightly scented, cool air greet you as you enter the dark marble lobby from another humid and sticky Singapore day. I get the feeling I've had at previous Mandarin Oriental properties – the reassuring sense that everything will be perfect. And so it is. Our home for the next few days will be Room 2101, one of the hotel’s exclusive Club Marina Bay Suites. The clue to the view is evident with the suite’s name, and upon entering; it immediately becomes apparent that this is one of the most remarkable views in the city. Full-length glass running the entire width of the suite conveys uninterrupted views of the Marina with the imposing Singapore skyline as the backdrop. Our picture window also bathes the space in natural light. Our suite is located on the top floor and, at 62 square metres, it is suitably spacious. A hallway leads to the formal lounge with double doors showcasing the luxurious master suite. Plush, patterned carpets add vibrancy to a contemporary styled décor

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with pale wood accents and an otherwise neutral palette. Subtle Asian influences throughout reflect the brand’s personality. All furnishings are of the quality expected and, all in all, it is a very inviting space that would be more than comfortable for a prolonged stay. The king-sized bed is a signature touch, promising a perfect night's sleep. Add to this, the suite’s quadruple glazing, and you have the ultimate in peace and quiet even though you are right in the centre of all the hustle and bustle. It’s a great location, minutes from the central business district and the mega malls of Orchard Road. The obligatory marble bathroom comes with separate bath, shower and bidet. We liked the extra guest powder room off the lounge, too. Another nice touch is a small balcony that lets in the sounds and ambience of Singapore, if that’s what you desire. Having unpacked and made ourselves at home, it was time to explore the rest of the hotel and first stop was The Oriental Club. Executive lounges are pretty commonplace in top-class hotels, offering exclusivity and additional benefits such as complementary

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food and beverages akin to an airline’s business class lounge. The quality of these can vary greatly, with some being seriously underwhelming and not worth the extra cost. That’s not the case here. In the sumptuous, 19th-floor surroundings of The Oriental Club you’ll find an exceptional quality of food presented with a different theme each day. It’s a club that provides excellent value and is well-worth the additional cost. There’s a full list of premium spirits, with cocktails, wine and Champagne on offer every evening. If you fancy more than a drink, there are enticing hors d'oeuvres and daily breakfast in a luxe setting, again with sensational views. The pool is another big selling point for the Mandarin Oriental. After a day of shopping in Singapore’s amazing malls and markets, a great pool is a must-have. At 25-metres long, the infinity edged pool is resort-sized and unusually large for a city hotel, especially with the space restraints of the CBD. Chic cabanas are available free of charge on a first-come, first-served basis. They’re outfitted with a ceiling fan and Bose speakers to plug in your iPod, as well as poolside service at the touch of a button.

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Another way to escape the buzz of Singapore’s street life, even if only for an afternoon, is by booking a session in the hotel’s superb spa. A true haven of serenity, the Mandarin Oriental Spa offers a menu of bespoke treatments including custom-blended oils and expert massages. There’s something inherently indulgent about starting your two-hour session with a personalised consultation followed by a soothing footbath and all-over body scrub. With two therapists working on your head and feet simultaneously, this is a spa treatment that will leave you more relaxed than you ever thought possible. Singapore is a gourmet destination, so any hotel restaurant has to be on the top of its game. With this in mind, we set out to experience the quality of the Mandarin Oriental’s seven dining destinations. Starting at the informal end of the spectrum, Melt - The World Café is an innovative restaurant offering a wide array of Asian and Western cuisine complete with live cooking stations. It’s also the location for your breakfast each morning, with a wide selection and choices outside the norm. Axis Bar and Lounge or Bay@5 poolside are ideal spots to enjoy a cocktail and take in the city views. Dolce Vita, again


At Teppan-Ya you’ll enjoy a sophisticated and elegant setting, with friendly service that instantly puts you at ease. I love Japanese food and found the menu really interesting, offering an eclectic choice of traditional Japanese cuisine including bespoke teppan yaki meats, sea-fresh sashimi, made-to-order sushi and outstanding tempura. The teppan yaki in particular was a step above anything I've experienced. Chef David Goh has spent years perfecting his craft.

The Club Lounge

by the pool, offers traditional Italian cuisine with a contemporary touch – a great choice for lunch. Cherry Garden offers authentic Cantonese and is a local favourite, with some of the best dim sum in town. And if you fancy a taste of the West in the heart of the East, America's premier steakhouse, Morton’s, opened its first location outside of USA, at you guessed it – the Mandarin Oriental. Completing the line-up of standout dining options is Teppan-Ya, offering the best of contemporary Japanese cuisine. A knowledgeable friend had suggested trying it for dinner, and I was not disappointed.

Our picks started with the signature dish, a crab, avocado and white fish mix that’s baked in a secret sauce, followed by grade A5 Wagyu beef cooked to perfection, and jumbo prawns, butterflied and grilled on the teppan hotplate. All dishes were simply prepared with minimal garnish or seasoning, so the true flavours of the ingredients shone through. From the extensive wine list I chose a delicate chilled sake to complement a memorable dinner. I recommend a visit, but be warned that bookings are essential. Teppan-Ya is quite an intimate space and the skyline backdrop is worth the price of admission alone. Like many of the 5-star options in Singapore, the Mandarin Oriental is not a new property, but she has aged superbly and has all the key considerations covered. Great location and impeccable service – check. Luxurious rooms, plenty of quality food options, a renowned spa, awesome pool and gym – check to all of the above. Beautifully maintained and full of charm and style, staffed by a passionate team of people that really make all the difference – the Mandarin Oriental meets all the relevant criteria. The hotel’s extremely high proportion of repeat clientele says it all. The level of service at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore may spoil you forever but it’s a risk that’s well-worth taking.

Mandarin Oriental Singapore at a glance

Club Marina Bay Suite

Category: Luxury City Hotel. Suite Reviewed: Club Marina Bay Suite. What’s great? The phenomenal Mandarin Oriental service tops the list. Great to have so many quality restaurants in-house and the family will appreciate the superb resort style pool area. Location also appeals to guests in Singapore for business or pleasure. What’s not so great: The bath a bit of a token gesture, on the small side. Editor’s tip: Book a room or suite with a view of the Marina Bay and pay the extra for the Oriental Club as it is well-worth the extra cost. Rate: From NZ$610 to NZ$1590 for a Club Marina Bay Suite per night. Website: www.mandarinoriental.com/singapore

Location Suite size Suite interior Overall service level Food & beverage Business needs Recreational facilities Spa facilities Pool Value for money

Timeless elegance – in East meets West style.

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Korean Air Bringing the state-of-the-art Boeing 747-800i to Auckland Korean Air, the flagship carrier of South Korea recently took delivery of its first Boeing 747-800 Intercontinental in Seattle. This luxurious, high-tech member of the Boeing family will soon be a regular sight in Auckland. The new additions to Korean Air’s fleet will be operating three flights per week in January 2016, increasing to daily flights next February. Flying direct from Auckland to Seoul offers travellers a great opportunity to stop over in Korea on their way to Europe or other destinations in North Asia. Business travellers and holidaymakers will also appreciate the regular connections to fascinating, booming South Korea. Here’s a taste of what you can look forward to when you step onboard the new Boeings. Korean Air’s new 747-800 Intercontinental is configured with 368 seats in a three-class configuration: six First Class, 48 Prestige Class (26 seats on the upper deck and 22 seats on the main deck) and 314 Economy Class. The aircraft also features Korean Air’s brand new First Class Kosmo Suites 2.0, designed with a sliding door and higher partitions to provide added privacy for passengers. These sliding doors are cleverly designed so that you can see through them from the comfort of your suite, but outsiders can’t see in. The Kosmo suites are also equipped with updated in-flight entertainment systems, with large 24-inch high-definition monitors and new handheld touch remotes. The airline’s Prestige Class Suites feature staggered seating and privacy panels, along with 18-inch high definition touch screens. The seat converts into a 180-degree full flat seat, and you’ll

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www.koreanair.com


experience maximum comfort and privacy in your area with the

If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of flying with Korean Air,

direct aisle access. The aircraft also features an all-new, 787

2016 may be the ideal time to book a ticket, with its modern

Dreamliner-inspired interior that includes new curved, upswept

aircraft and over 20,000 professional employees, Korean Air

architecture, giving passengers the priceless feeling of more

offers travellers a high degree of convenience and comfort.

space and comfort.

Their award-winning Korean and Western meals combined

The new Boeings aren’t just innovative inside the cabin. Aviation buffs will be interested in the way Korean Air has been able to take advantage of the latest developments Boeing has introduced to aircraft technology, boosting performance and improving its environmental credentials. About 70% of the aircraft (by structural weight) incorporates advanced aluminium alloys and carbon composites to reduce the weight drastically. This delivers a 16% improvement in fuel consumption and emissions over its predecessor, the

with their state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system provide passengers with a memorable in-flight experience. You’ll be travelling with one of the world's Top 20 airlines, which carried more than 23 million passengers in 2014. Frequent flyers will be interested to learn that Korean Air is a founding member of the 20-strong Sky Team alliance, which offers its 612 million passengers a worldwide system of more than 16,320 flights every day, covering 1,050-plus destinations in 177 countries.

747-400, while generating 30% less noise. The benefits will

On a more personal note, the LUXURY team have enjoyed

also be noticeable in journey time reductions. With a range

the service and professionalism of Korean Air on flights to

of 14,815km, the new 747-800 will be the fastest wide body

Seoul and beyond in recent years. The introduction of the new

passenger jet in the world with a normal cruising speed

Boeing 747-800 Intercontinental, with its superb cabin fit-out,

of Mach 0.86.

promises to make the journey even more luxurious.

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Grand Hyatt Incheon, Seoul

The stunning Grand Hyatt Incheon is conveniently located a short 3-minute courtesy shuttle drive from the international airport. Korean Air hosts passengers in either the East Tower or recently finished West Tower of the hotel when an overnight transit is required. With its sweeping foyer, proficient and friendly service, we were grateful to our hosts to be breaking our long journey to Europe here.

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There are two main restaurants – Restaurant 8 (in the East Tower) features eight mini restaurants in the one space, each with its own cuisine type. While the Grand Café in the West Tower is an extravagant buffet-style with live kitchens catering to both Western and Eastern tastes. The standard of the food was excellent and the dishes a bit different to what you might expect. For example, next to the sweet treats was a delicious cinnamon drink that was an exquisite way to end the meal. A Karaoke bar, lounge Bar and al fresco poolside dining complete the dining selection. First impressions of the guestrooms would have to be ‘precise comfort’. A subtle colour scheme blends well with the modern furniture and a real meticulousness about the positioning of everything. The Grand Deluxe Executive Suite was very large at 95 square metres, with a full-sized lounge and dining area, plus separate guest bathroom and some

One of the highlights was the airport view. If you’re an aviation fanatic you’ll be in your element. But if you’re not, it’s still quite mesmerising to watch the airport activity and comings and goings of aircraft throughout the day and night.

choice for young families during the

There are a total of three swimming pools in the complex, one being a dedicated children’s pool. The pools are all covered and the one in the West Tower complex sits adjacent to the Pool House eatery. A well-equipped gym, running track, sauna and steam room all assist with recovery after a long flight. You could also make an appointment at the small spa for a relaxing massage or facial treatment.

can be found. One of them, Wolmi Island,

As well as being a more than suitable spot for a transit stopover, The Grand Hyatt Incheon is also fully set up to cater for large events and conferences of up to 1,250 people. Plus, as we discovered, it is also a popular holiday

flight.

kitchen facilities. The luxurious bed linen was immaculately ironed with no crease in sight. The bathroom was generous, with shower and bath combined in a ‘wet’ area and June Jacobs Spa Collection amenities to enjoy.

Reception and Lobby

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school holidays. The hotel caters well for its younger guests during these times and the location is also within easy distance to the West Sea, where a number of swimming beaches and offshore islands at only 1 kilometre from the shore is even connected by a causeway. So as far as airport hotels go, the Grand Hyatt Incheon offers a lot more than most. Its pleasant and calming ambience was just what we needed to recharge before our next long-haul


Grand Hyatt Incheon at a glance

Grand Delux Executive Suite

Category: Airport Hotel. Suite Reviewed: West Tower Grand Deluxe Executive Suite. What’s great? The restaurants, the generously sized guestrooms and overall ambience of the hotel. What’s not so great: During busy season the indoor pools can get quite noisy. Although great for all weather and keeping out of the sun, it would be nice to have a shaded outdoor pool option as well. Editor’s tip: Make an advance reservation at Restaurant 8 as it gets booked out quickly. Korean Air has a check-in counter in the East Tower and offer a free service to transfer your luggage to the airport where you can complete final formalities. Rate: From NZ$1028 per room per night for a Grand Deluxe Executive Suite (West Tower). From NZ$382 per room per night for a Grand Deluxe King (West Tower). Note: If travelling as part of the Korean Air Transit Program, your allocated guestroom will be complimentary. Website: www.incheon.grand.hyatt.com

Location Suite size Suite interior Overall service level Food & beverage Business needs Recreational facilities Spa facilities Pool Value for money

A quiet transit retreat.

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r e n n i d a r e p O at the Monasterio

If I told you that we had just experienced the most romantic Opera dinner in a centuries

old converted Monastery you most likely would assume that we were somewhere in Italy, France or maybe even Venice. Actually, it was South America and the city was Cusco, Peru.

Located beside the central square is the

dressed with white linen and large

soprano voice. Her sound resonates under

beautiful Belmond Hotel Monasterio.

floral arrangements.

the wooden arches emotionally stirring us

What is now a charming luxury hotel and fine restaurant known as El Tupay, was once the home to Spanish Monks. Steeped in history, its baroque style and ornate art collection is now a national historic landmark. The sound of the Monastery bells and Monks shuffling

Back-up to around the early 1600s – I was imagining a Monk sitting in this exact same spot as our table for two. The Monk dressed in his hooded cape, kneeling before the pulpit, we too are dressed for a very special occasion.

to the point of goose bumps as she hits the ‘money note’ – her highest falsetto. On cue, our waiter strides out from behind the kitchen door with our starter – a warm gazpacho. With precision delivery each dish is presented to us from under a silver service dome delicately plated on

about the large halls has since been

Our Opera Diva appears as if out of

fine china framed with olive leaf detail

replaced with waiters in starched white

nowhere and gracefully circles the

and oh so perfectly timed between arias.

jackets adorned with gleaming gold

candlelit room, gently filling the large

As we inhale the aromas, we discover the

buttons moving between tables smartly

Monastery hall with her beautiful

taste of internationally inspired Peruvian-

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Story: Janice Burmaz

style cuisine matched with new and old

is busy creating our dessert from an

world wines. The evening progresses to

open kitchen and just as we are about

the serenading sounds of the flautist,

to indulge in silver service tea and

Tenor and pianist all performing from

petits fours, our Diva takes a bow and

the pulpit. Our Diva makes several

floats from the room. A memorable

appearances throughout the dinner

dinner service, exquisite food and a

service then performs her final song ‘Ave

very moving Opera performance, we

Maria’ as a duet across the room with

finish almost breathless and on a high.

the Tenor. A chef at the rear of the hall

Mucho Gusto!

Belmond Hotel Monasterio Opera dinners are available four nights a week. Best to book in advance. www.belmond.com/hotel-monasterio-cusco

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Cusco to Puno

on the Andean Explorer Mention Peru and the Andes to most seasoned and aspirational travellers and they more often than not will talk about Machu Picchu, Cusco and the Sacred Valley Inca sites that abound this area. Having just visited Machu Picchu and its historic Inca treasures along with an enchanting evening of opera arias at Hotel Monasterio in Cusco, we were about to discover more hidden gems on our way south to Lake Titicaca and across the border to Bolivia. Rather than the traditional fly-in and fly-out of Cusco, we had planned our journey by rail to Puno, a city on the shores of Lake Titicaca. With the lovely sound of the Opera Diva’s voice still playing in our heads, our intrepid train journey is aboard the Andean Explorer and spans some 331-kilometres following the Urubamba River to its mountain source, climbing to a height of 4,321-metres up to the Andean altiplano and then descending to Puno on the north western shores of the Lake. Our morning departure was scheduled for 8am, with a journey time of around 10 ½ hours. Being somewhat of a self-confessed train buff, we had an early morning tour arranged especially for us by our rail touring company of the Peru Rail carriage works adjacent to the Cusco train station. This was a wonderful insight into the detailed craftsmanship that goes into the building and maintaining of these luxury trains and now we were going to ride on one. We departed from the station exactly on time to the powerful purr of the diesel electric locomotive, easily pulling seven carriages. With the sun shining and all the expectation of yet another fantastic adventure, we were on our way. What the ‘slow food’ movement has done to fine cuisine you could argue the Andean Explorer has done to train travel. We gently climb our way alongside the Urubamba River at a leisurely pace suited for taking in the scenery as we pass through numerous small villages and towns, after all, it’s just as much about the journey as it is the destination.

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Story: Stuart Walker


Settling back into the comfort of our

Latin dance tunes has everybody readily

At 281-kilometres we reach Juliaca, a

carriage, we are treated to the best

clapping along.

large commercial town of some 150,000

in Pullman tradition with soft plush furnishings, fine wood finishing and spacious leg room. Old fashioned sash-

As we approach midday, we pull into a scheduled stop at La Raya at the highest

people and a major railway junction. As we branch south to Puno, our train passes

point of our journey. We are greeted by

directly through the centre of the market

a waiting throng of local traders eager

areas, which peel back to let us pass

to sell us their Peruvian souvenirs and

through and then re-enveloping the train

coffee and tea accompanied by a selection

delicacies – the beautifully crafted

almost instantaneously with blankets

of fine pastries arrive, served by a

Alpaca scarves look exquisite and ideal

and tarpaulins of vegetables, textiles

regimented team of smiling young waiters

as a light-weight souvenir. However, we

and craftworks.

and waitresses resplendent in their neatly

decided to pass (in respect of a childhood

pressed Peru Rail uniforms. The scenery

pet) on the local delicacy of barbecued

As daylight fades, our journey is drawing

stretches out in all directions surrounded

skewers of cuy (guinea pig).

to a close as we skirt the northern

style windows are soon opened as we embrace the local atmosphere – no need for closeted air conditioning. Morning

by snow capped mountain peaks nudging 6-7,000-metres.

Back to our carriage for a refreshing beer before a lunch from a locally inspired

shoreline of Lake Titicaca, at a height of 3,855-metres, this is the largest and highest navigable lake in the world. We

Time to stretch our legs, we head

menu – fresh mountain raised trout

for the rear of the train to capture

and El Pollo accompanied by a medley

some photographic memories of this

of coloured and flavoursome Peruvian

breathtaking landscape. The rear facing

potatoes. Given the number of carriages

observation bar car is the perfect photo

on the train, lunch service was a highly

platform with unobstructed panoramic

choreographed parade of efficiency but

worked tirelessly throughout the day to

views and bracing alpine air. This is a

with all the sincerity of true Peruvian

make this a journey to remember and one

great vantage point to exchange

warmth and hospitality.

that I highly recommend to any ‘would be’

enthusiastic waves with local villagers and the occasional territorial dog determinedly chasing the train, a short lived but spirited attempt.

With the afternoon sunshine flooding the carriages and the soporific combination of good food and wine, there was more than a few passengers nodding off for an

reach our final destination of Puno. We disembark from the train and thank our smiling and gracious hosts who had

Peruvian adventurer. Then off to our hotel to rest and savour the day’s adventure and to pause before our next day of discovery. Tomorrow we board a hydrofoil

With another morning coffee in hand,

afternoon siesta. As the train descends

for an exhilarating ride over Lake Titicaca,

enjoying the spaciousness of the

over endless grassy plains punctuated by

crossing the border to Bolivia and visiting

observation car, which soon doubles as

various small towns, those of us awake

the Island of Copacabana – now that’s

a fashion catwalk accompanied by lively

enjoy an afternoon tea service.

another story.

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www.lan.com

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V Marrakesh Express is a famous 1969 song popularised by folk rock singers Crosby Stills and Nash. It’s about a four-hour train journey from Casablanca to Marrakesh. Like the words in their song, “Coloured cottons hang in the air, charming cobras in the square….”, we are on that train shadowing their ride and like them, anticipating the colours and experiences Marrakesh has to offer. Located to the north of the Atlas Mountains in Western Morocco, Marrakesh is often referred to as the "Red City” or “Rose City". In the past, varying in its customs and traditions, it was conquered and ruled by so many peoples – Arabic, Moorish, Berber and Andalucian – resulting in a diverse, culturally rich, artistic city. With contrasting old and new architecture in the old city and new town, mosques, shrines and palm-framed palaces, today it is significant for economic and religious reasons, as well as being a fascinating tourist destination. On arrival, we're transferred by car to our riad accommodation (a riad is a traditional and often extensively refurbished

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historic house arranged around enclosed courtyard gardens). Part way there, unexpectedly we stop. Our bags are placed into a dogcart pulled by a young Moroccan boy. Our driver directs us to follow it on into the medina; the old town and we do; down narrow, noisy, dusty backstreets, past donkeys and little workshops until we halt outside a small door. With tight entrance-ways, riad doors are often half sized, as is the 19th century door to Riad El Fenn where we are staying. The contrast overwhelms. We’re now into cool interiors where walls blast with colour and art. We progress into a bougainvillea-hung, arched courtyard complete with lemon trees, fountain and places to sit. Afternoon mint tea, lemon cake and meringues are

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Story: Toni Gillan


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El Fenn Colonnade Room

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just being served so we happily chill out delighting in watching resident tortoises track through the leafy undergrowth. This is how it’s going to be for us now, slow and so spoilt we tell ourselves. Moving on up to the expansive rooftop later, we curl up on a bhou (Moroccan lounger), agreeably positioned to view the vibrant sun setting behind the snowcapped Atlas Mountains. Our room is spacious with some lavish detail. We’re just as impressed by the thought of ‘bed’ tea or coffee that’s placed outside our room when we wake, long after the Muezzin’s 4am call to prayer had echoed across the medina. With beauty treatments, massages and a private hammam, plunge pools, sun positions, resting and eating places all over, a library and superb in-house art collections, El Fenn is a luxury boutique riad retreat in the real sense. Just minutes from the mayhem of Djemaa el-Fna square and a labyrinth of souks, it’s a calming world within another world. El Fenn is part owned by Vanessa Branson, Richard Branson's sister. She opened her first art gallery in London in 1989, hence the incredible art and photographic collections here. She also helped create, in 2005, the first Marrakesh Biennale. The Biennale is now internationally recognised as a thriving visual art and literature programme showcasing venues in both the walled old city and the new town, the Ville Nouvelle. The next Biennale is 28 February-8 May 2016. Keen to take an orientation tour of the old city, the hotel arranges Mustafa to guide us through the medina, which is comprised of a maze of communities; of souks and restricted lanes all radiating out from a World Heritage UNESCO site, the famous Djemaa el-Fna Square. This should mean, Mustafa tells us, that it’s impossible to get lost. Mustafa explains how the idea of the World Heritage UNESCO project Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity came from local residents concerned about protecting the traditions and future of Djama el-Fna’s cultural space. They saved it from economic redevelopment by seeking the support of this international body so people could experience this amazing place as it was and is now.

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We walk and he talks, explaining the old metalworking quarter and the ancient leather market. He points out fundugs (old stables) turned into artisan workshops. We pass by spice markets, lantern, carpet, slipper and food sellers. In the heart of the medina, Mustafa points out Le Jardin, a lively riad café and hub of the emerging arts scene, which we later establish as our resting base. Then, as a perfect example of all that is “beautiful and understated in Arab design”, we arrive at the Ben Youssef Medersa, a former Islamic college dating back to the 15th century, its walls covered in delicate carvings from the Qur'an. A young man sits under an umbrella in the courtyard and in fine calligraphy writes Arabic names in perfumed ink made to his own recipe. We found our way back next day and had all our family’s names so inscribed. “A visit to Marrakesh taught me colours.” These words by world-famous French couturier and designer, Yves Saint Laurent capture it beautifully. He loved Moroccan colour and hues – purple, violet, gold, orange, greens, pinks, reds, turquoise and live blues. Revered by the locals, he and his partner bought an electric blue villa and re-established its shady botanical gardens. On his death, he gifted his celebrated Jardin Majorelle to the people of Marrakesh. Today, Marjorelle's art décor studio houses a Berber Art Museum, boutique and café, and is one of the most admired tourist sites in Morocco. Wandering the souk one day, we initially ignored the calls of a charming young man inviting us to enter his shop called Herboriste des Amis. “Jamie Oliver came to my shop,” he said. “I have the photo – come and see.” True he did and, even if it was photoshopped, we immediately relaxed in this amazing herbarium. As a young woman massaged my shoulders with arnica creams, we bought the 35 spices tagine mix (that Jamie bought), orange blossom perfume, almond hand cream, a eucalyptus crystal remedy (for colds) and a stick of kohl (for dramatic eyes). Ultimately it seems, all lanes lead to Djemaa el-Fna, which is surrounded by restaurants, stands and public buildings;

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underneath we are told, is the prison. It really is a unique cultural space and meeting point, providing dramatic live action entertainment both day and night. Scrambling to avoid a bolting horse drawn carriage, we arrived early evening ready for anything exciting. We decide first to go up to a rooftop restaurant to sit on a terrace and take in the Terrasse Panaramique – the panoramic views of the square below. With the sun sinking low, turning the walls a pink-orange hue, belly dancers wafted past. Smoke began to drift up heralding the arrival of hundreds of chefs and the setting up of their food stalls below. We’d heard about how they fire up a feast here, serving superior street food from grills. Dishes like aubergine and chicken tagine with caramelised pumpkin. But I was on the hunt to try one dish – pastilla – pigeon cooked in flaky pastry with pistachios and almonds, topped with cinnamon and powdered sugar. But not today, we had to content ourselves with chicken in pastry, spiced similarly and served by a Drag Queen. It was an amazing meal. As the evening progressed, with so many food sellers and fresh orange booths everywhere to refresh us, all around the noise level rose. We watched and wandered as Berber musicians, street dancers, acrobats, snake charmers and monkeys on boys’ shoulders did their thing, while avoiding, on local advice, dodgy gropers and opportunist pickpockets. With its fabulous restaurants and contemporary art galleries, Marrakesh, was of great interest to us especially for investigating the new generations of craftsmen and artists. It was fascinating, alluring and alive in colour and soul. In coming to Marrakesh, I wanted to honour the vivacious spirit of a recently departed Moroccan girlfriend whose love of colour was legendary. Always present, her presence made our visit personally relevant and very meaningful. Live.

Suites range from NZ$350 to NZ$1050 per night and include early morning tea/coffee, afternoon tea and WiFi. www.el-fenn.com


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El Fenn Colonnade


Leading Personal Stylist Jackie O’Fee from personal style consultancy, Signature Style brings us her extensive fashion knowledge and expertise.

Style file

The gorgeous cerulean blue of Karen Walker’s Hollywood Creeper Sunglasses, coupled with their origami-inspired design makes these the perfect accessory to add a pop of real style to the simplest of ensembles. RRP NZ$349

The Company of Strangers jewellery range will add the finishing edge you need. Not too cool, not too twee but simply stylish. Cluster Necklace in Sterling Silver RRP NZ$575

The perfect mix of kimono wrapped top and fun shorts, the Ruby Vanda Wrap playsuit will take you from daytime to evening in style. RRP NZ$229

Heading to warmer climes? Be sure to take a pair of Chaos and Harmony Linea sandals. Perfect whether you’re lounging in a bikini or hitting the shops. RRP NZ$279

The Kowtow Volute dress is the ideal convertible travel dress. Not only is the organic cotton durable, breathable and good for the environment, the Japanese inspired twisted style is both flattering and fun. Team this with heels or take it back with a pair of trainers for hours of sightseeing. RRP NZ$189

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For more information visit www.signaturestyle.co.nz

Add a pair of Julian Danger Sophia Sneakers to your travel wardrobe and experience the comfort. These stylish sneakers will take you from sightseeing to shopping, all without sacrificing style. Available in a range of colours (Pictured: Blue Baby) RRP NZ$250

Save space in your cosmetics travel kit with the gorgeous new L.A. Lights Blush and Lip Colour in a range of delicious shades from Smashbox Cosmetics. RRP NZ$51


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Salt Lick BBQ Grill


HOT HOUSTON There’s no sign on the building exterior of wine bar 13 Celsius. It is located in midtown Houston, Texas, and its modest outside and charming Mediterranean interior characteristics don’t seem to fit the state’s extroverted stereotype that everything is bigger. But these days, if there is ever a city not to be judged by its cover it’s Houston.

Story: Tim Lamb Images: Renée Lamb

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Some of Houston’s most interesting locations won’t be obvious, especially the hottest places to wine and dine. (The city even has a complex tunnel system under the downtown high-rises full of eateries for workers). European-style wine bar 13 Celsius is both an example of a treasure you can discover in Houston and the perfect place to remedy your jet lag after the 14.5 hour direct flight from Auckland. Inside the bar is an expansive range of global wines served as flights, tastings or by the bottle and partnered with a charcuterie and cheese menu. Houston is the fourth largest city in the U.S. and there is possibly little known about the city other than its links to the country's space program or its oil market. But, that's Houston's advantage; the surprise factor. Even from the time your plane descends on George Bush Intercontinental Airport, the city is surprisingly green despite having one of the most complex and widest freeway systems in the U.S. Much like Los Angeles, Houston is a car, or in many cases truck, city. With petrol about the same price in Houston for one gallon (3.74 litres) as it is for a single litre in New Zealand (hovering around $2-pergallon in the second half of 2015), renting a car at the airport is the most efficient way to explore. Driving will also be the best way to navigate between the glitzy Galleria shopping mall and the city’s eclectic dining scene on Westheimer Road. First timers to Houston shouldn’t miss trying one of the city’s many Mexican restaurants. There’s no shortage of options for "Tex-Mex”, but head to Hugo’s to sample upscale Mexican. Frequently named one of Houston’s best restaurants, the interior is rustic and servers are sophisticated. However, the diners’ dress options, ranging from urban casual to button-up tie, reflect that this city is no longer the stuffy oil and gas destination many may associate it to be. Hugo’s has a detailed Mezcal and Tequila menu, and margaritas poured tableside. However, the best cocktails may be the seafood and ceviche starters, in particular Vuelve a la Vida (Return to Life). Chef Hugo Ortega’s comprehensive seafood and meat main courses start-off traditional before being contemporised with a twist.

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In addition to uncovering city secrets, Houston can also be your excuse to try experiences that are uniquely Texan or simply not an option in New Zealand. Drive 45-minutes southwest of downtown and walk the trails at Brazos Bend State Park; a reservation area that includes hundreds of easily-spotted alligators living in the ecosystem. Stay at the nearly 185 square metre, Warwick Apartment Suite at Hotel Zaza, fitted with vintage wingback leather chairs and a 3.5-metre long table for dinner parties, to be in walking distance of Houston’s world-class museums. Or secure tickets to one of city’s national sporting league teams – the Astros (baseball), Rockets (basketball) or Texans (football). Timing is everything when it comes to visiting Houston. Locals joke there are two seasons, hot and hotter. So visiting in the U.S. spring (March-May) or autumn (September-November) can often be the best time to visit to avoid the intense humidity. Another reason to travel in March is to attend the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo Show. Just buy tickets early as the best seats tend to sell-out fast. The best way to experience the threeweek event is by purchasing a HESS Chute seat, which comes with a front-row view of the rodeo, VIP access to ‘the dirt’ for the evening concert and entry to the giant carnival. Even if fast-paced rides or festival treats liked chocolate-dipped bacon and deep-fried “cookies” are not your preference, the carnival also includes high-end shopping for western boots, hats and jewellery.

Hear something new in Austin Even in the state capital (2.5-hours drive west), you’ll want to choose your time to visit. Austin hosts the only U.S. stop on the Formula One circuit, but is more synonymous with being the country’s live music capital. In October, the city hosts Austin City Limits (ACL), a music festival that became so popular that it now spans over two weekends. The festival now has a unique relationship with New Zealand after organisers announced the inaugural Auckland City Limits, a one-day spin-off of the festival that draws international superstars and breeds local musicians.

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Don’t be fooled into thinking ACL is marketed only towards a younger crowd. VIP tickets give access to an exclusive area featuring a mini-spa, gourmet happy hours and live feeds into the main stages. A dedicated child-friendly area, “Austin Kiddie Limits”, and eating options that promote locally-harvested food are a good representation of the inclusive spirit you’ll find in the city.

“The way we cook was based on how my relatives cooked when they were on the wagon trains,” says Salt Lick owner Scott Roberts. What has evolved at Salt Lick is the move to embrace the region’s growing wine presence. The land that the restaurant occupies also includes 50-acres of wine-growing grapes, which are bottled and available for tastings and sales in the Salt Lick Cellars.

Its slogan may be “Keep Austin Weird” and the best place to embrace this is in South Austin.

Discover History in San Antonio

Hidden on South Congress Ave among a collection of funky retail stores with retro exteriors and trendy eateries housed in trailers, food trucks and containers, is the boutique South Congress Hotel. The Hotel is a representation of the area's rebuild of the sophisticated, but casual approach that Austin appears to define. It has the comforts of a relaxing urban retreat with an alluring rooftop pool and spa-like guest rooms. Plus it’s in a location that makes it a short Uber ride to explore one of the city’s 250 live music venues or walk to one of the area’s independent coffee shops.

Explore the Hill Country It can be the small towns in between Austin and San Antonio that will give you the authentic Texas experience. Walk the main street in Fredericksburg to explore German-influenced dining or drive the 290 highway road to sample the emerging Texas wine culture. In Gruene (pronounced green), you can visit the state’s oldest dancehall or shop the boutique stores next to the Guadalupe River. Meanwhile in Bandera, hill country resorts known as Dude Ranches allow guests to experience cowboy culture and horseback trail rides on working ranches. On the 2-hour drive from Austin to San Antonio, don’t miss taking a detour to Driftwood and visit the Salt Lick restaurant to taste how Texans define barbecue. At Salt Lick, beef brisket is slow cooked – a 17 to 21-hour process, which still incorporates a traditional open fire grill.

Texas history combined with the addition of several theme parks makes San Antonio a lure for travellers. If travelling with family, there are a number of spacious resorts like the Hyatt Hill Country, which offers easy access to Six Flags Fiesta Texas Roller Coaster Park and SeaWorld. Staying downtown offers a great way to indulge in Texas history. Whether, that is at the landmark of the state’s independence, the Alamo, or at the re-opened St. Anthony Hotel, the first fully-functioning air-conditioned hotel in the world. The St. Anthony’s renovation has managed to preserve the hotel’s historical charm, while modernising its pristine lobby, dazzling rooftop pool and grand guest rooms. The hotel is the prime location to explore the city’s downtown attractions like the River Walk, a network of walkways below street level. Venture out before breakfast for almost exclusive access to the River Walk, but take one of the 30-minute river cruises on a Saturday night to see the waterfront restaurants buzzing. There’s always plenty to do beyond the River Walk. The emerging Pearl District is only five minutes drive from downtown and a hip shopping spot for Latin kitchenware and clothing. The district’s Boiler House Texas Grill and Wine Bar may just be the perfect way to end any Texas tour. The menu combines what you may know this state is renowned for, its cowboy-sized steaks, with the flair of originality and surprise that only those who venture to Texas will now know exist.

From December 2015 Air New Zealand will fly between Auckland and Houston up to five times a week. This new route will become the fastest way for New Zealanders to travel to popular East Coast destinations, including New York and Chicago. It also allows for easy access to Nashville, Tennessee; the jazz capital of New Orleans and sunny Miami in Florida. Houston is also a key gateway for destinations in Mexico, Your ultimate luxury and corporate travel resource. Central America and the Caribbean.

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Hotel Vitale San Francisco

San Francisco has always had a certain charisma. Its supreme setting on one of the world’s great natural harbours, its vertiginous hills and stunning views – all these factors have been drawing visitors since the Gold Rush era. These days the Bay Area is equally famous for its cutting-edge dining and vibrant arts scene, not to mention the tech money that flows from Silicon Valley in a ceaseless stream. No wonder travellers have been have been making their way to North California in ever-growing numbers. As one of the USA’s main Pacific gateways, San Francisco has more than its share of large hotels. However, we were determined to seek out a boutique luxury alternative. Our choice: Hotel Vitale. The first thing to note here is the location. Yes, Hotel Vitale really does live up to the adage that a property’s physical setting is allimportant. It’s right on the Embarcadero, close to the Bay Bridge, with fantastic views of the Bay and its glorious suspension bridge. The city’s historic trolley car has a stop right in front of the hotel, so you can easily explore all the city’s prime attractions. The hotel is away from the main CBD of San Francisco, so you enjoy all the urban amenities but enjoy a more spectacular natural backdrop. Some of San Francisco’s best restaurants are very close by. We enjoyed meals at Waterbar (fresh, sustainable seafood) and Slanted Door (delicious modern Vietnamese). And just over the road from the hotel you’ll find the famous Ferry Building, which is packed with restaurants and amazing markets. If gourmet dining is on your to-do list, Hotel Vitale will provide the perfect base. The hotel itself is definitely in the boutique category, furnished in an unpretentious style with acres of natural wood and stone. Its four stories provide a range of rooms and suites, many with stunning views across the Bay. To make the most of the experience, consider booking the Panoramic Circular Suite with its corner location providing 180-degree views of the waterfront.

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Once you’ve unpacked and freshened up, we suggest you head to the rooftop terrace. As the name implies, this is a prime spot for taking in the sweeping views. Relax in the comfortable chairs, enjoy some refreshments, and watch the world go by. Americano, the hotel’s main restaurant and bar, is much more than a hotel bar. It’s an attraction in its own right, with a nightly crowd of locals enjoying a glass or two of California’s finest wines and enjoying the rustic Italian cuisine. Like the rest of Hotel Vitale, it captures all that’s good about San Francisco – the good taste and sophistication of the old world, combined with the zesty energy of America.

Room features include a spa-style limestone bathroom with

If you’re ready to dip your toes in the San Francisco waters,

soaking tub for two, wet bar and living area.

Hotel Vitale provides the perfect entry point.

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Hotel Vitale San Francisco at a glance

Tranquil Interior King

Category: Boutique city hotel. Room Reviewed: Tranquil Interior King. What’s great? The amazing view – like looking out at your own personal postcard. The waterfront location on the Embarcadero is a gateway to some of San Francisco’s best restaurants. What’s not so great: While it’s understated luxury, maybe a little too understated. Editor’s tip: Definitely book a room with a water facing view – you won’t be disappointed. This image: Americano Bar Above: Rooftop Terrace

Rate: From NZ$540 per room per night for a Tranquil Interior King. Website: www.jdvhotels.com

Chef Josh Perez

Location Room size Room interior Overall service level Food & beverage Business needs Recreational facilities Spa facilities Value for money

Boutique style in The Bay.

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TRAVEL ACCESSORIES FOR THE LUXURY TRAVELLER Bose QuietComfort

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25 Headphones

What is it? Comfortable and streamlined noise-cancelling headphones. What makes it so special? The advanced acoustic technology delivers detailed low notes, giving less distortion and exaggeration of vocals or instruments. A single AAA battery is required for up to 35-hours of use, however if the battery dies, the music continues to play on. Where can you get it? See online at www.bose.co.nz for stockists. Price: From NZ$479

Karen Walker

Captain’s Daughter Dress What is it? A striking and versatile dress from the ‘Love Boat” Resort Collection. What makes it so special? Made from a light neoprene fabric with ruffle detail, this dress will travel superbly and can be worn for day or evening. Where can you get it? At Karen Walker stores, selected stockists or online at www.karenwalker.com Price: From NZ$380

MOR

Paris Fold-out Traveller What is it? From the Destination Luxe collection, a fold-out cosmetic purse made from seriously soft faux ostrich leather. What makes it so special? Designed to hang for easy access, it contains four compartments to selectively organise your beauty essentials. Where can you get it? See online at www.morboutique.com for stockists.

Tag Heuer Connected Watch

Price: NZ$69.95

What is it? A smartwatch to rival the Apple Watch. What makes it so special? It doesn’t look like a smartwatch but a traditional Tag Heuer timepiece with all the benefits of a smartwatch. What’s more, when it becomes obsolete, you can pay an additional US$1,500 to get it swapped out for a mechanical watch. Tag Heuer is the first Swiss brand to co-develop a smartwatch with Google. Where can you get it? Now launching in the USA and select cities in Europe. Will no doubt get to New Zealand and Australia soon. www.tagheuer.com

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Issue 27 for United Travel  

Spring/Summer 2015

Issue 27 for United Travel  

Spring/Summer 2015

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