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The international club for Rolls-Royce & Bentley Owners

LuxuryTravelGuide

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EXQUISITE DESIGN. BESPOKE LIFESTYLE. ENVIABLE ADDRESS. Presenting a peerless haven of oceanfront elegance in Bal Harbour. Premium hotel-condominiums and private Residences, designed by Yabu Pushelberg, are now offered for sale.

DEVELOPED BY AFFILIATES OF STARWOOD HOTELS & RESORTS WORLDWIDE, INC. AND THE RELATED GROUP.

ORAL REPRESENTATIONS CANNOT BE RELIED UPON AS CORRECTLY STATING THE REPRESENTATIONS OF THE DEVELOPER. FOR CORRECT REPRESENTATIONS, REFERENCE SHOULD BE MADE TO THE DOCUMENTS REQUIRED BY SECTION 718.503, FLORIDA STATUTES, TO BE FURNISHED BY A DEVELOPER TO A BUYER OR LESSEE. CERTAIN UNITS IN THIS CONDOMINIUM ARE SUBJECT TO TIMESHARE ESTATES. OBTAIN THE PROPERTY REPORT REQUIRED BY FEDERAL LAW AND READ IT BEFORE SIGNING ANYTHING. NO FEDERAL AGENCY HAS JUDGED THE MERITS OR VALUE, IF ANY, OF THIS PROPERTY. THIS OFFERING IS MADE ONLY BY THE PROSPECTUS FOR THE CONDOMINIUM AND NO STATEMENT SHOULD BE RELIED UPON IF NOT MADE IN THE PROSPECTUS. THIS IS NOT AN OFFER TO SELL OR SOLICITATION OF OFFERS TO BUY THE CONDOMINIUM UNITS IN STATES WHERE SUCH OFFER OR SOLICITATION CANNOT BE MADE. PRICES, FEATURES AND SPECIFICATIONS SUBJECT TO CHANGE WITHOUT NOTICE. NOT AN OFFERING WHERE PROHIBITED BY STATE LAW. WE ARE PLEDGED TO THE LETTER AND SPIRIT OF U.S. POLICY FOR THE ACHIEVEMENT OF EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY THROUGHOUT THE NATION. WE ENCOURAGE AND SUPPORT AN AFFIRMATIVE ADVERTISING AND MARKETING PROGRAM IN WHICH THERE ARE NO BARRIERS TO OBTAINING HOUSING BECAUSE OF RACE, COLOR, RELIGION, SEX, HANDICAP, FAMILIAL STATUS, OR NATIONAL ORIGIN. THE DEVELOPER’S USE OF THE ST. REGIS® TRADE NAME AND TRADEMARKS IS PURSUANT TO A LICENSE FROM THE SHERATON LLC.

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ARTIST’S RENDERING, FINISHED PRODUCT MAY VARY.

9 7 0 1 C O L L I N S AV E N U E , B A L H A R B O U R , F L O R I D A 3 3 1 5 4 TELEPHONE: 888.796.1579 | STREGISRESIDENCES.COM / BALHARBOUR

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[

THE FINEST REAL ESTATE IN THE FINEST PLACES ON EARTH

]

HOKULI’A, KONA, HAWAII

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Amenities are proposed and are subject to change. This is not an offer or solicitation to sell in states in which this property is not yet registered.

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VisionRock, LLC Š2007 Vision Producers, Inc.

5/7/07 10:21:54 AM


At River Rock, every home has more than 150 million square feet of living space. In addition to beautifully designed homes, living space at River Rock includes miles of river for fly fishing, a lakefront marina, extensive equestrian center, indoor/outdoor tennis facility, miles of hiking trails and two fabulous golf courses, including a prestigious 18-hole championship course designed by Phil Mickelson. In fact, your toughest decision is going to be picking which amenities you want closest to your new home. All of this is just a short drive from Asheville, 2 hours from Charlotte and less than 3 hours from Atlanta.

This Spring is very likely our last preconstruction offering, and only 40 home sites will be released. If you are interested in learning more about this luxury mountain community, please contact us at 888-743-2975 immediately. If you’d like a personal tour to view it for yourself, ask about our Weekend Mountain Getaway at the renowned Old Edwards Inn for only $199. How do you want to live this life? $100 Million Amenity Package • Homesites from the $300s to $1.5 Million Highlands-Cashiers, NC 888.743.2975 www.riverrocknc.com

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This does not constitute an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, an invitation to visit a location, attend a sales presentation, or contact a sales agent, in any jurisdiction where such activity requires registration in such jurisdiction. As to residents of any such jurisdiction, any sales of the product must take place in the United States of Mexico, and the federal laws of Mexico shall apply to any sales contracts or offers. California residents: warning: the California department of real estate has not examined this offering, including, but not limited to, the condition of title, the status of blanket liens on the project (if any), arrangements to assure project completion, escrow practices, control over project management, racially discriminatory practices (if any), terms, conditions, and price of the offer, control over annual assessments (if any), or the availability of water, services, utilities, or improvements. It may be advisable for you to consult an attorney or other knowledgeable professional who is familiar with real estate and development law in the country where the project is situated. Owner reserves the right to substitute building materials, finishing details, and appliances of equal or greater value and may alter plans and make other modifications as deemed necessary. All renderings are artist’s concepts. Buyers must not rely on oral representations and shall refer to legal documents for verifications. Any and all pricing given is subject to change without notice. All renderings are conceptual and subject to change. Furniture for positioning purposes only.

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LA AMADA IN PLAYA MUJERES, MEXICO

La Amada is conceived as the heart of a new Cancun resort development. This freestanding beachfront community includes an inland marina, two Greg Norman signature golf courses, a destination wellness center and spa, luxury residences, gourmet restaurants, elegant shopping, and a boutique hotel. La Amada has been carefully planned as a low-density Caribbean village complete with all the services and amenities of contemporary luxury living. La Amada opens in 2007; please visit www.laamada.com for more information.

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POSSESS YOUR OWN soho

246 spring street, new york city • call 212.612.1577 • trumpsoho.com

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Introducing a Special Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club Travel Guide Dear Member, In 1998, RROC entered into a cooperative agreement with Faircount LLC, publishers of the Annual RROC Desk Diary. Since that time, Faircount has produced 10 outstanding publications, featuring many stories on activities at Crewe, Chichester, and “the finer things” – and all at no cost to club members. As a result of the overwhelming positive response from our membership, Faircount is delighted to be able to extend that relationship to include the publication of this Luxury Travel Guide. One of the primary purposes of our club is to encourage the use of Rolls-Royce and Bentley motorcars. As a club we do that in so many ways … including the scheduling of National Driving Tours, the Judging Requirement that Award Winning Cars be driven, and the publication and distribution of articles on how to repair and maintain our cars. This magazine focuses on travel and on the FUN and the LUXURY of touring. As owners and enthusiasts, all of us appreciate the heritage and history of our cars and realize that the element of the motoring lifestyle that is most closely associated with Rolls-Royce and Bentley motor cars is touring. In the pages of this special issue, you’ll discover the difference a private charter can make to a Caribbean getaway; the exceptional service to be found in flying on various Asian airlines; the opportunity to play vintner in California’s Sonoma Wine Country; the excitement of the famed Mille Miglia road race in Brescia, Italy; and, of course, interesting spots around the globe to tour with your Rolls-Royce or Bentley. You’ll also find reviews of some of the most luxurious hotels as well as fine dining locales the world has to offer. Articles on luxury travel consultants and travel insurance provide tips for planning safe and memorable journeys. In addition, we have included an article on touring Tidewater Virginia in a Rolls-Royce Corniche II, as well as stories on driving a Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud across the impressive Millau Viaduct in France and a Bentley Turbo R on Germany’s famed Nürburgring. We hope that this magazine will (at the very least) provide some interesting reading and perhaps inspire some unforgettable travel experiences – perhaps behind the wheel of your Rolls-Royce or Bentley. Sincerely,

Robin A. James President 

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CONTENTS LETTER

Photo courtesy of Singapore Airlines

9 Robin A. James, President, Rolls-Royce Owners’ Club

18

REVIEWS 18

Eight Wonders of the Modern Hotel World By Hilary Armstrong

29

The World’s Top Tables Five world-class one-offs By Joe Warwick 42

TRANSPORT 34 All Hail the Queen The Queen Mary 2 offers incomparable transatlantic voyages By Laura Spinale 42 Flying by the Stars Exceptional service and luxury on Asian airlines By Claudia Jannone 52 Cruising the Caribbean Chart a course for relaxation as you board a luxury yacht bound for paradise By Tara N. Wilfong

FEATURES

Photo courtesy of Tourism Queensland

66 An Interview with Donald Trump “The Donald” shares his thoughts on success, his latest projects, and his favorite getaways By Iwalani Kahikina and Michael J. Tully 70 Seacoast Siesta Mexico’s sunny shores offer a plethora of vacation possibilities By Edie Jarolim 82

Several Hundred Feet Down Under Exploring Cairns, Australia By Julie Sturgeon 82

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98

Own a Slice of Ideal Vacation Fractional ownership of luxury vacation residences By Vera Marie Badertscher

112

From Connoisseur to Viticulteur Club Kenwood opens the door to serious Sonoma winemaking for the rest of us By Craig Collins

126 Crossing the Void Millau Viaduct: More than a bridge By Zac Assemakis Magical, Mythical England Faith and legend abound in the British countryside By Laura Spinale

138

Motoring Through 400 Years History comes alive in Virginia’s Tidewater region By Philip C. Brooks

146 Explosive Personality Majestic beauty balances volcanic surroundings for Ecuador’s capital By David A. Brown

Photo courtesy of APVA Preservation Virginia

128

Photo by Jan Tegler

88

The Red Arrow R ace An Italian rite of spring By Jan Tegler

Photo courtesy of the Kenwood Inn and Spa

112

88

162 Ring of Fear Driving Germany’s Nürburgring By Zac Assemakis 164 Enjoy the Enchantment of Carmel- by-the -Sea By Michael A. Robinson

TRAVELERS’ RESOURCES 176 Travel Agents vs. Luxury Consultants Traveling in style takes planning in style By Andrea Rademan 184 Travel Safe A guide to purchasing travel insurance By Carol Oldham O’Hara

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The Bentley Brooklands

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors Limited

In March 2007, Bentley Motors introduced its stunning new Bentley Brooklands grand touring coupé. The Brooklands features Bentley’s most powerful V8 engine yet – a 530 bhp, twin-turbocharged 6.75-liter engine capable of producing 1,050 Nm of torque. The impressive combination of classic, luxurious styling and powerful performance that is the hand-assembled, four-seat Brooklands will be limited to a lifetime production run of just 550 cars, with deliveries estimated to begin in the first half of 2008. “Bentley’s proud sporting pedigree, forged by the exploits of the immortal ‘Bentley Boys’ on the famous Brooklands racetrack in the 1920s, was the inspiration for our new coupé, capturing all the style, power and splendor of that era,” says Bentley chairman Dr. FranzJosef Paefgen. Brooklands, the site of some of Bentley’s greatest racing achievements, is often called the birthplace of British motor racing; it celebrates its centennial anniversary this year.

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LuxuryTravelGuide The international club for Rolls-Royce & Bentley Owners

Publishers Ross W. Jobson and Peter M. Antell North American Headquarters 701 North West Shore Blvd. Tampa, FL 33609 Tel. (813) 639-1900 Fax (813) 639-4344 European Headquarters 5 Ella Mews, Hampstead, London NW3 2NH UK Tel. 44 (0) 207-428-7000 Fax 44 (0) 207-284-2118

Editorial Director Charles Oldham oldham@faircount.com Consulting Editor Philip C. Brooks Editors Ed Lammon Ana E. Lopez Assistant Editors Iwalani Kahikina Michael J. Tully Art Director Robin K. McDowall Project Designer Lorena Noya Design & Production Rebecca Laborde Daniel Mrgan Lorena Noya Production Assistant Kenia Y. Perez Assistant to the Publisher Alexis Vars Writers Hilary Armstrong Zac Assemakis Vera Marie Badertscher Philip C. Brooks David A. Brown Craig Collins Claudia Jannone Edie Jarolim Carol Oldham O’Hara Andrea Rademan Michael A. Robinson Laura Spinale Julie Sturgeon Jan Tegler Joe Warwick Tara N. Wilfong

General Manager Lawrence Roberts lwroberts@faircount.com Assistant General Manager Robin Jobson rtaylor@faircount.com Business Development & Project Support David Sanis david@faircount.com Project Manager Peter Lewis peter.lewis@faircount.com Advertising Account Executives Allen Coates Annette Dragon Sophia Leich Jonathan Rosenfeld Controller Robert John Thorne rjthorne@faircount.com Director of Information Systems John Madden Administrative Assistant Heidi Reis Printing and Origination St. Ives

Special thanks: Bill Casey Tim Younes

©Copyright Faircount LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction of editorial content in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Neither Faircount LLC, nor Rolls-Royce Owner’s Club, Inc., assume responsibility for the advertisements, nor any representation made therein, nor the quality or deliverability of the products themselves. Reproduction of articles and photographs, in whole or in part, contained herein is prohibited without expressed written consent of the publisher, with the exception of reprinting for news media use. The 2007 International Club for Rolls-Royce and Bentley Owners Luxury Travel Guide does not imply endorsement by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Ltd., or Bentley Motors Ltd. Printed in the United States of America.

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www.thinkpenny.com

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Ginn ResortsSM Founder Bobby Ginn has a vision for one of the grandest resort destinations in North America. This vision combines the excitement of Monte Carlo, the grandeur of the French Riviera, the soul of the islands and the casually elegant lifestyle perfected by Ginn. With a private airport, mega-yacht marina, Signature golf courses from Nicklaus and Palmer, a Monte Carlo-style casino, miles of Bahamian beaches and a grand canal winding throughout the entire property, Ginn sur MerSM will be a whole new world. And you can be a part of it through ownership of an oceanfront, golf view or deep water homesite. Begin your journey to this new world today by visiting GINNSURMER .COM or by calling 877-820-0500. ARTIST ’S RENDERING

GOLF VIEW, DEEP WATER AND OCEANFRONT HOMESITES PRICED FROM $600,000 TO $1.4 MILLION+

GINNSURMER.COM/RRT 877-820-0500 Obtain the Property Report required by Federal Law and read it before signing anything. No federal agency has judged the merits or value, if any, of this property. Prices, plans, artist's renderings, photos, land uses, dimensions, specifications, improvements, materials, amenities and availability are subject to change without notice. Ownership of a residence at the Development does not grant the use of or access to any golf course or other recreational facilities (“The Club”) to be located at the Development, and membership in the Club will be subject to payment of dues, rules and availability. Use of amenities is subject to Membership requirements. This is not an offering of real property or condominium units and offers may only be made at the Discovery Center for the Development. This is NOT an offering of real property or condominium units within the State of New York. Void where prohibited by law or where there are other qualifications to advertising real property. Ginn Real Estate Company, LLC, Licensed Real Estate Broker. 2/07

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REviews

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Eight wonders of the modern hotel world By Hilary Armstrong

Burj Al Arab, Dubai, UAE Dubai, the commercial center of the United Arab Emirates, is a place of extremes. It may be best known for its opulent hotels, beaches, and designer shopping, but it has so much more. For me it means snow – yes, snow. Year-round sun may be central to Dubai’s appeal for most visitors, but when I was looking for a holiday with a difference, the concierge at the hotel Burj Al Arab recommended Ski Dubai – the Middle East’s first indoor ski resort. There’s real snow all year, with ski and snowboard lessons available to all.

After an alpine-themed day, returning to the beachside hotel for some well-deserved R&R can feel surreal, but the Burj Al Arab is spectacularly well placed for it. Situated on a man-made island, linked to the shore by a causeway, the hotel dominates the landscape, looking like a huge sailing boat on the water. If the ski slopes were disorientating, the reception at Burj Al Arab is reassuringly Arabian. Before you’ve even checked in you’re shown to a comfortable chair and provided with a fruit cocktail and dates; the aroma of incense fills the air as you casually fill in the necessary forms. It’s an all-suite hotel, with the best being the Royal Suite at 50,000 AED ($13,613) per night. It boasts a private elevator, cinema, and a rotating four-post bed. Even the entry-level suite (the deluxe suite) is impressive – at some 170 square meters for 7,500 AED ($2,042). Butler service is included along with high-tech office and leisure facilities, floor-to-ceiling windows, and opulent furnishings – but these are all basics. Burj Al Arab’s speciality is taking luxury to another level, so if you want to be pampered, there’s in-suite dining, Hermes products in every bathroom, a pillow menu, and even a bath menu. It’s even luxurious to leave the hotel. A chauffeur will take you out in one of the fleet of 16 Rolls-Royces, which includes eight Silver Seraphs, two Park Wards, and six Phantoms. If ground level is too pedestrian, charter the luxury helicopter for a bird’s-eye view of the white beaches and blue waters of the Arabian Gulf. You could even charter a yacht, but why settle for that when you can top it with a three-minute

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submarine ride – albeit a simulated one – that takes you to the hotel’s celebrated seafood restaurant, Al Mahara? Burj Al Arab, P.O. Box 74147, Dubai, UAE, +971 4 3017777, www.burj-al-arab.com

Emirates Palace hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE Despite being the largest of the Emirates and the financial and federal capital of the region, Abu Dhabi has at times appeared to exist in Dubai’s shadow. But it’s all change in Abu Dhabi these days. The white, sandy beaches, endless sunshine, and sparkling blue waters are still here, but new attractions abound – the ultra-luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel, the Marina Mall extension, and über-architect Frank Gehry’s planned Guggenheim outpost have turned all eyes toward Abu Dhabi. A key attraction is shopping. The city’s reputation as a world-beating shopping hub is such that it even has an annual shopping festival, but spending is always great here – it’s not just the joy of flexing plastic at state-of-theart malls, it’s also the art of haggling at the souk. I made a beeline for the gold souk at Madinat Zayed where “negotiation” can be very lively. Bargaining is expected, so brace yourself for a shocking starting price; from there it’s up to you to finagle a good deal. The price of gold is set daily, so check the prices in the paper to feel like a pro. Gold is available in 18, 22, and 24 carats, as are kilogram bars and gold bullion. Feel the

weight of what you’re buying; anything made and sold here will be solid, not the lightweight stuff we settle for elsewhere. I came away with two necklaces, one more than planned, but with a final price under half of the original price, I left happy. The souks are a great place to sample the region’s traditional culture. Remnants of the city’s life as a fishing village just 50 years ago remain, so take it all in while having a shisha or an Arab coffee. After the souks, calmness prevails at the Abu Dhabi and Marina Malls, where Western brands are on offer at super-low, tax-free prices. Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari are good spots for luxury gifts, but souk-style haggling is a definite no-no here. Since 2005, there has only really been one address for the jet set – the Kempinski Emirates Palace. Apart from being one of the most luxurious hotels imaginable, it’s also an impressive architectural colossus and destination in its own right. Standing on a stretch of white, sandy beach, the hotel is 1 kilometer long and 2.5 kilometers around. It is set amid 1 million square meters of landscaped gardens, so take up the offer of a map when you arrive – I learned this the hard way. The building incorporates traditional Arabian design, with a grand silver and gold mosaic dome in its center and a color palette based on shades of sand from the Arabian desert. Inside, rooms glisten with fine gold leaf and some 19

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DISCOVER TIME

INSPIRED BY THE LEGEND ARIZONA BILTMORE RESORT & SPA

GRAND WAILEA RESORT HOTEL & SPA 1 800 WALDORF

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1,002 Swarovski crystal chandeliers. It’s not just pretty, it also has practical amenities such as a helipad, two pools, and the latest business and conferencing technology. The finest rooms are the gold leaf- and marble-decorated Palace Suites (costing nearly $14,000 a night), each complete with a living room, dining room, and three bedrooms. Every bedroom enjoys a 61-inch plasma screen and a sea view. It’s entirely in keeping with the palatial pile that the service and facilities should be fit for a king: a fleet of white Rolls-Royces to take you shopping; a caviar bar serves the finest Iranian caviar; and a gentleman’s clubstyle bar specializes in Havana cigars and cognac. The jewel in the crown, however, is Sayad Restaurant, where fresh seafood (flown in daily from all over the world) is a speciality. There’s no menu – your wish is the chef’s command, so in effect you have a private chef. This is exquisite haute cuisine served with charm. After a day at the souks it’s the perfect way to relax. The Emirates Palace, P.O. Box 39999 Abu Dhabi Corniche, Abu Dhabi, UAE, +971 2 690 9000, www.emiratespalace.com

Four Seasons New York, USA In a city like New York that’s so famed for its grand luxury hotels, it can be hard to choose a favorite. All of the grand hotels have good views of the skyline or Central Park, and so many have good locations, good restaurants, and good martinis. But the discerning traveler doesn’t need to settle for “good” in New York, and this traveler will only accept the best.

of perfection to expect. Robuchon is, after all, the chef who was dubbed “Chef of the Century” by his peers. The idea behind L’Atelier is to order a range of smaller tasting plates, almost tapas style. I tried Smoked Foie Gras with Caramelised Eel, Osetra Caviar over Capellini, and Bluefin Tuna with Tomato-Infused Olive Oil. But I was bowled over, like so many before me, by the chef’s famous, super-rich truffled pommes purée. The restaurant also offers guests the rare opportunity to sit at the counter of an open kitchen to see chefs preparing every dish. It’s typical of the Four Seasons New York that it should introduce such an exciting and cutting-edge chef; the hotel is already renowned for forward thinking. The building was designed by renowned architect I.M. Pei in 1993, and its iconic 52-stories, between Park and Madison, are a must-see on any architectural tour of the Big Apple. To get a proper feel for Pei’s style, you ought to take one of the two Presidential Suites on the 51st floor. It’s a toss-up as to which is preferable. Suite 5101’s got great views of the city and Central Park, a semi-precious-stone-topped cabinet, and a leather-paneled library, but 5102’s baby grand piano is hard to top. Each suite costs $1,500 per night and both have a private elevator, a furnished balcony, a plasma TV in the marble bathroom, and original oil paintings. Four Seasons Hotel New York, 57 East 57th Street, New York, USA, +1 (212) 758 5700, www.fourseasons. com/newyorkfs

So it’s great news that the Four Seasons Hotel New York has brought in the best, yet again. After its 2005 purchase of a brand-new Rolls-Royce Phantom as the house car for guests, it has kept on upping the ante – this year introducing a fresh new restaurant concept to Manhattan. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon brings the best of Paris to New York in the form of culinary superstar Robuchon. If you know L’Atelier’s other branches, you’ll know the level

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Taj Lake Palace Hotel, Udaipur, India Magnificent forts, temples, and palaces abound in Rajasthan, India’s “Land of the Kings,” meaning most visitors would find it difficult to single one out as the most memorable. After a stay at the Taj Lake Palace Hotel in Udaipur, my choice was made for me. None can be more magical than the bright white wedding cake of a palace that has a four-acre island in Lake Pichola all to itself. By day it gleams as if floating on the lake; after dark it’s a striking, lit vision shining in the night sky. Small wonder it has been listed in the 2004 New York Times best seller, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Mewar ruler Maharana Jagat Singh II could almost have had the modern five-star traveler in mind when he built the white marble summer palace back in 1746. Architecturally it’s spectacular, with huge windows affording every guest a view of the shimmering lake, Aravalli Mountains, and lofty lakeside palaces. As much as the Lake Palace Hotel is defined by the glorious landscape outside, it’s also steeped with history within. The “royal butlers” are charged with the task of treating each guest like royalty; many are descendants of the palace’s original retainers. From the first footstep you take on the island, they make the fantasy of being one of the Maharaja’s favored guests seem a reality. To approximate it further, I can recommend booking the hotel spa’s signature treatment, the Mewar Khas, a speciality of the Mewar region and a pre-bathing ritual practiced by royalty in preparation for their wedding day. It includes a footbath ritual using a scrub made of sandalwood and mild turmeric mixed with auspicious grains and signature oils.

Staying in the rooms is like stepping back in time. The Grand Royal Suites are the finest. Each boasts crystal chandeliers, private balconies, and ornate swings called jhoolas. If possible, go for the Sajjan Niwas Suite, completed in 1884. It opens out onto the private Sajjan terrace and is decorated with frescoes of Krishna, inlaid marble, mirror work, and brocade fans. My butler arranged for a feast to be laid out in the suite to offer me a taste of some classic Rajasthani dishes, like laal maans, a fiery lamb dish spiced with chilies and prepared in the hotel’s restaurant, Neel Kamal. They can also arrange an elephant or camel ride in the countryside, a sunset sail in a 150-year-old ceremonial barge, or simply a cool drink to be enjoyed on the terrace in the end of the day. Taj Lake Palace, Lake Pichola, Udaipur 313 001, Rajasthan, India, +91 294 252 8800, www.tajhotels.com

Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Queenstown, New Zealand Queenstown often comes at the tail end of a New Zealand itinerary, after a few weeks wending one’s way down the North and South Islands, taking in perhaps some whale watching, Abel Tasman National Park, and the wine country. But it’s actually somewhat at odds with the city’s reputation, as the adventure capital of the world and the birthplace of bungee jumping, that so many visitors to New Zealand choose this quaint Gold Rush town as the place to relax and unwind. Eichardt’s raison d’être is cosseting the worn-out traveler, and its staff have a sixth sense for their guests’ competing urges to sleep and jump off a bridge on a long

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piece of elastic. Adrenaline junkies need a breather too, sometimes. The hotel occupies a great spot on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, commanding views over the clear water as far as the Remarkables mountain range. It’s also just a five-minute walk away from the heart of Queenstown’s buzzing restaurant and bar quarter. There are just five suites, so there will only ever be you and nine others – the title “Private Hotel” is indeed fitting. No single suite is said to be better than the others, but I must confess to feeling rather smug when I snagged the NZ$1,595 ($1,050) a night Suite No.1 – the only one with a lakeside view and a balcony. General Manager Victoria Shaw’s goal is to bring all the charm of New Zealand to each guest, even when you’re sequestered indoors. You can stay in and discover the best of the Central Otago wine region, care of a bottle of Gibbston Valley Reserve Pinot Noir from the cellar at NZ$185; try some local whitebait, bluff oysters, or in-season game from the hotel kitchen; or you can pop down to the boutique on the ground floor and pick up the latest creations from Kiwi designers like Karen Walker and Zambezi. To see the best of Queenstown, of course, you will have to wrench yourself away from Eichardt’s at some point. The concierge can arrange any activity for you, from boat rides to golf, bungee jumping, or skiing, depending on the season. For those who want to take it easy but see it all, take the hotel’s suggestion of a luxury helicopter trip to Milford Sound, New Zealand’s most incredible area of natural beauty. A tuxedo-clad pilot will speed you on a breathtaking journey over mountains and fjords before landing on a glacier to gather ice with which to chill champagne. Finish with a gourmet lunch in an old goldminer’s cottage in the hills before returning to the comfort of the hotel. Continued on page 25

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Eichardt’s Private Hotel, Marine Parade, P.O. Box 1340, Queenstown, New Zealand, +64 3441 0450, www. eichardts.co.nz

Hotel Schloss Fuschl, Hof bei Salzburg, AUSTRIA It’s hard to think of a bad word to say about Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart. The worst I can manage is to note that at the height of the summer tourist season, during the annual classical music festival, it can be a little crowded. But that’s easily remedied. At the Hotel Schloss Fuschl in Hof, you can get away from it all. The picture-perfect chateau is just 20 minutes away from city life, yet feels a world away up in the fresh alpine air, overlooking the clear waters of Lake Fuschl. This awe-inspiring castle, built originally as a hunting lodge over 500 years ago, has always been a popular Austrian retreat with the great, the good, and the not so good. Richard Nixon, Margaret Thatcher, and Adolf Hitler have all famously stayed here. More recently, however, the hotel has entered a new era thanks to an extensive and expensive refurbishment that was completed in summer 2006. The suites have been restored to their former glory. German-speaking guests snap up the Sissi Suite, named after the perennially popular series of movies about the wife of emperor Franz Josef, Kaiserin Elisabeth, aka “Sissi.” The films, starring Romy Schneider, were made at the Schloss in the 1950s. An even better choice is the Mozart Suite, one of seven suites in the castle’s tower. From 2,235 euros ($2,800) per night you can have a three-bedroom room with a kitchen, Old Masters’ paintings, a grand piano, and a butler-cum-chauffeur. For romance, Salzburg’s horse-drawn carriages are nice, but the Schloss Fuschl tops that by offering guests the use of a covetable collection of rare vintage cars, including a 1961 Silver Cloud II and a 1955 Silver Wraith.

A trip in one of these remarkable cars, rolling through the lush pasture of the Salzkammergut region, will take years off you, but for further rejuvenation, try the hotel’s Restaurant Imperial. Chef Thomas M. Walkensteiner literally wrote the book on anti-aging cuisine. The menus, starting at 95 euros ($120) a head, include Breton Lobster Chartreuse with Buttermilk and Imperial Caviar and Fillet of Organic Salzburg Veal with Lovage. The castle’s excellent cellar has the most sought-after Austrian wines, the restorative powers of which are not to be underestimated. Hotel Schloss Fuschl, Schloss-Strasse 19, 5322 Hof bei Salzburg, Austria, +43 6229 2253-0, www.schlossfuschl.at

The Ritz Hotel, London, England Was there ever a time when a hotel could set standards merely by having double-glazing and walk-in wardrobes? Apparently so. It was back in 1906, when legendary hotelier César Ritz opened The Ritz Hotel on Piccadilly and made it the talk of the town. Even now, after more than 100 years, the legendary hotel remains at the vanguard. The Ritz wows with its ability to be both old-fashioned and elegant, yet simultaneously cutting-edge. Take a spin in the hotel’s brand new centenary year Rolls-Royce Phantom and see for yourself. It’s decked out in signature Ritz

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blue, with an RTZ 100 number plate, crested handles, leather interior, and walnut burr trimmings – but then there’s the latest satellite-navigation technology and DVD screens. Over the last decade, the hotel has had £50million spent on it, and the ability to surprise remains. Behind the imposing chateau-style frontage and the Royal Warrant, you get it all, from the latest business services to Indian head massages. But the old treats are still the best; those that seduced Chaplin, the Aga Khan, and Noel Coward. Tea in the Palm Court is an institution without compare. Its perfect cucumber sandwiches, thick clotted cream, and perfectly brewed teas are legendary. For formal dining, the restaurant offers fine wines and chef John Williams’ exquisite “Palace style cooking,” served against an amazingly decadent backdrop. And the legendary weekend dinner dances are as popular as ever. Sumptuous elegance defines the suites too, with Louis XVI styling, deep carpets, and antique paintings. Around £2,000 ($3,750) per night will pay for the ultimate in Ritz comfort: the palatial Berkeley Suite, with its marble lobby, panoramic views, a dining table for 10, and all the latest in-room technology. There’s still nothing in London to beat the Ritz for luxury and service. The Ritz Hotel, 150 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9BR, +44 (0)20 7493 8181, www.theritzlondon.com

The Peninsula, Hong Kong, CHINA There are few accolades that Hong Kong’s oldest hotel, The Peninsula, hasn’t won. It has been recognized for its Philippe Starck-designed restaurant, Felix, and for its brand new ESPA spa.

Since The Peninsula was founded in 1928, it has always been destined for dizzy heights. The addition of the stateof-the-art Peninsula Tower in 1994 has ensured that the hotel continues to go one better than the competition, even through changing times in this ultra-modern, hightech city. You can get a taste of that in the 28th-floor, space-age Felix restaurant. The views are incredible, as is the fusion food featuring such dishes as Miso-Yaki Cod Fillet. The Peninsula Suite on the 26th floor ($5,880) per night affords spectacular views from its private balcony, but the full charms of this historic building are found in the Garden Suite. $4,600 gets you a vast two-bedroom garden terrace on the seventh floor, featuring an outdoor jacuzzi and a fully retractable roof. The ongoing blend of old and new, coupled with a seamless fusion of East and West, has maintained The Peninsula’s reputation as an institution with residents and visitors alike. The thrills of the world’s most exciting city are evident, but you’re also just minutes from old Hong Kong. Up on the roof, though, it’s all mod cons. Here you can find the only hotel helipad in Hong Kong – from which it’s only eight minutes to Hong Kong International Airport. For other journeys, the Peninsula’s fleet of 14 chauffeur-driven RollsRoyce limousines is the only option. The 1934 Rolls-Royce Phantom II is the pick of the bunch – one of only two made that year with that body. The other also belongs to the hotel group and will grace the brand new Peninsula Hotel in Tokyo when that opens in the autumn of 2007. The Peninsula Hong Kong, Salisbury Road, Kowloon, Hong Kong, +852 2920 2888, www.hongkong.peninsula.com 27

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Photo: John Kelly, The Little Nell Snowmass Kitchen/Living Area

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Five World-Class one-offs

The world’s top tables

By Joe Warwick

Le Quartier Français (South Africa) With the Franschhoek mountains playing amphitheatre, this restaurant, set in an auberge in the heart of the Cape Winelands, has a setting that would overshadow the cooking of many chefs. But not Dutch-born Margot Janse, whose individually-tailored tasting menus make the most of the region’s rich larder of game (impala, warthog, springbok), fish, and market vegetables. Then there’s the wine list, understandably heavy with rich local bottles, the best of which you won’t find anywhere but South Africa. www.lequartier.co.za

Gambero Rosso (Italy) Fulvio Pierangelini is the perfect antidote for those who are tired of jet-setting chefs with a multitude of restaurants across the world: He’s scared of flying, and if he’s not behind the stove in his restaurant, it closes for the day. Widely regarded in Italian gastronomic circles as the most creative chef cooking in the country today, his 30-seat restaurant in the small Tuscan harbor town of San Vincenzo, which overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea, is unassuming and perfectly formed. With fish-focused menus that champion simplicity (typified by his trademark dish of chickpea purée with prawns), Pierangelini’s cooking concentrates on the purity of fastidiously sourced ingredients and the flavors that he is able to muster from them. No Web site. Gambero Rosso, Piazza della Vittoria 13, 57027 San Vincenzo, Livorno, Italy. +39 (0)565 701 021 29

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El Bulli (Spain) El Bulli is perhaps the most oversubscribed restaurant in the world at the moment. Open from the middle of April to mid-September only, there is just a short period of time to sample its delights. This gastronomic institution, hidden on the Catalan coast, is where chef Ferran Adrià expresses his envelope-pushing culinary bent with multi-coursed tasting menus (developed during the six months that the restaurant is closed) where nothing is what it seems. Add to that the setting, service, and wine list, and it’s very easy to see why El Bulli topped The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2006. www. elbulli.com

The Fat Duck (UK) Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, in the village of Bray in Berkshire county, has grown into a legendary foodie destination in its own right. After Blumenthal was inspired by the food at Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli, he transformed a once straightforward French bistro in a converted pub into one of the most forward-thinking restaurants in the world. Blumenthal’s dishes often mess with your mind and play with your palate through sensory experimentation and embracing unexpected textures and tastes. A healthy dose of nostalgia for childhood flavors is evident, and it’s all served with a playful touch of the theatrical. www.fatduck.co.uk

Noma (Denmark) Situated in the Christianshavn district of Copenhagen on a quay in what was once a bonded warehouse for whale blubber and sea salt, Noma is at the forefront of “New Nordic Cuisine.” Since opening in 2003, head chef and co-owner René Redzepi has earned a reputation for his modern take on classic Danish and Nordic flavors, in dishes such as Musk Ox served two ways, Onions from Læsø, Ramson Garlic Capers, and Browned Butter. His is one of the most beautifully designed restaurants you will ever set foot in, albeit in a very cool, detached, Nordic way. www.noma.dk 31

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Get what you reserved. What a novel idea. Only Hertz lets you reserve the specific make and model. Like the Audi Q7. With the Hertz Prestige Collection, you can reserve the specific make and model luxury car of your choice. From stylish convertibles like the Audi A4 Cabriolet to powerful SUV’s like the Audi Q7. And if it’s unmatched luxury you crave, try the Audi A6 quattro. What’s more, all Prestige Collection vehicles are equipped with NeverLost ®, Hertz’ in-car satellite navigation system, so you’ll always have peace of mind. To reserve a Prestige Collection vehicle available at select major market locations in the U.S. and Canada, call your travel agent, the Hertz Prestige Collection reservation line at 1-800-654-2250, or visit hertz.com. At Hertz, a perk of being prestigious is getting what you want. It’s another reason why We’re Hertz. They’re Not.

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® Reg. U.S. Pat. Off. © 2007 Hertz System, Inc.

“Audi” and the four rings emblem are registered trademarks of AUDI AG. Not all vehicles available in all locations.

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transport

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All Hail the Queen The Queen Mary 2 offers incomparable transatlantic voyages

All photos courtesy of Cunard image library

By laura spinale

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On

her maiden sail, from Southampton to Fort Lauderdale, the Queen Mary 2 was the largest passenger ship ever constructed.

Opposite: Drawing attention from the storied Manhattan skyline, the QM2 departs New York City. Above, from left to right: High-end boutiques such as luxury watch and jewelry manufacturer Chopard await you at the QM2’s glitzy Mayfair Shops. Marvel and wonder at the infinite ocean as you work on your tan poolside. Regularly filled with the sounds of masterful musicians, the elegantly appointed Grand Lobby is a popular meeting point during cruises. Too much pampering and relaxing? Elevate your heart rate and release your inhibitions at the G32 nightclub.

Weighing 148,528 tons with a length of 1,132 feet, she is more than twice as long as the Washington Monument is tall. Guests take their repasts in 15 restaurants and bars, and splash in five swimming pools. They spend their evenings at formal-dress balls, gaming in a casino, or stargazing – either outdoors or in the only full planetarium at sea. Shopping is not for penny pinchers. Ship’s stores carry labels by designers such as Hermes, H. Stern, and Swarovski. The cost of this luxury? A duplex suite on an 80-day world cruise can cost as much as half a million dollars. By contrast, a standard inside cabin – the least expensive on the QM2 – can cost as little as $1,400 per person for a New York-Southampton voyage. If you think all this transatlantic excess sounds vaguely familiar, you’re right. The QM2 is, in fact, brought to you by the good folks who were first to offer transatlantic passenger service. The Cunard Line has been in operation since 1840. (It is now a division of the Carnival Corporation, known for its Carnival Cruise Lines.) Its specialty has always been the construction and operation of transatlantic liners. The QM2’s most recent predecessors as Cunard flagships have been the Queen Elizabeth 2 (still in operation), the Queen Elizabeth, and the original Queen Mary, now morphed into a hotel and docked in Long Beach, California. Over the decades, the Cunard Line has garnered a reputation as the standard-bearer of luxury travel. The 35

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Top, from left to right: With notable speakers such as Monty Python’s John Cleese, the 1,015seat Royal Court Theater is a great place for laughter or enlightenment – or sometimes both. The ship’s Illuminations Planetarium is billed as the only full-scale planetarium at sea. It offers a variety of constellation shows and also doubles as a movie theater and lecture hall. Below: Re-creating the experience of a Broadway theater, a variety of productions, classic and modern, will impress even hardened theatergoers.

QM2 ship harkens – in name and attitude – to the glory days of the original Queen Mary. In operation from 1936-1967, the Queen Mary frequently hosted luminaries such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Clark Gable, and Marilyn Monroe. In part because of its glamorous air, people tend to think of a mere sighting of the QM2 as an event. Press reports of her comings and goings tend to employ rather breathless prose. For example, when the QM2 left San Francisco, that city’s Chronicle wrote, in part: “With a mighty blast of her queenly horn, the grand ocean liner Queen Mary 2 bade farewell to San Francisco Monday night and … sailed off to points west.” Wherever the QM2 docks, crowds gather to take in the spectacle. Some cities set off fireworks in welcome. And when, in February, the QM2 and the QE2 met in Sydney Harbour, throngs gathered to see the aquatic get-together. Part of the appeal is no doubt the ship’s glamour, but the QM2’s sheer size also proves a spectacle. At the time of her construction, she was the longest, tallest, and, at

a construction cost of roughly £500,000,000, the priciest liner ever built. (That distinction has since been usurped by Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas, which took to the water in 2006. That ship weighs 154,407 gross tons. However, the QM2 remains the largest transatlantic liner in the world: The Freedom, like most other cruise ships, is not built for cross-ocean travel.) The QM2 is the largest ship ever to pass beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. She is so large, in fact, that she is unable to dock in most ports. Smaller boats ferry passengers to meet her. Her crew numbers 1,250, and she typically carries about 2,620 passengers (although she has a maximum guest capacity of 3,056). Christened by the reigning monarch in Southampton in January 2004 (the ship’s namesake is Queen Mary who reigned from 1910-1936), the ship on her maiden voyage sailed from England to the United States. Today, the QM2 offers a host of voyages from which to choose.

Oh, the Places You’ll Go The QM2’s trip menu includes transatlantic crossings, world cruises, and sails to the Caribbean, Mediterranean, and Northern Europe. Of these, the transatlantic crossing could be considered the QM2’s signature voyage. It takes six days to sail from the eastern United States to England. The Caribbean and Americas cruises stop at such hot spots as St. Kitts and St. George before traveling north to destinations including New York, Boston, and Quebec. Explore Rome, Venice, the Iberian Peninsula, and the French Riviera during your Mediterranean sail. If Northern Europe piques your interest, you’ll enjoy exploring Norwegian fjords and cities. World cruises run up to 106 nights, and take passengers to some of the planet’s most glittering destinations, including Paris, Hong Kong, Cairo, Sydney, and San Francisco, as well as sites in Southeast Asia and India.

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You’ll feel completely redesigned, too. Now that we’ve completed our $100 million transformation, we invite you to join us and feel brand new yourself. You’ll stay in a breathtaking new room or suite, relax at our remodeled Willow Stream Spa and ocean club, and lounge by our even more spectacular pool. Plus, you’ll play 36 championship holes redesigned tee-to-green by World Golf Hall of Famer Raymond Floyd. It’s a whole new Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club. Designed to make you feel exactly the same way. For reservations or more information, please contact your preferred travel professional, call 1 888 495 0722 or visit www.fairmont.com/turnberryisle


Dining and Bunking The QM2 is known for her luxury accommodations. They come in three classes: Queens Grill, Princess Grill, and Britannia staterooms. The level of your accommodation (with Queens Grill being the best on the ship) determines the restaurant in which you’ll dine. Dining in the Queens Grill (200 seats) and Princess Grill (178 seats) is at the guest’s will. The 1,300-seat Britannia dining room offers two seatings nightly. All three dining rooms have met with excellent reviews, with many considering the Britannia dining room to be the ship’s true heart. No matter what level of accommodation you seek, eating is a significant part of your experience. While menus in the three main dining rooms are forever changing, a recent Queens Grill menu boasted sevruga caviar followed by a greens and orange salad, and lobster flambé with Cognac. For dessert, taste the baked Alaska with

• Golden Lion Pub: This British eatery serves up such favorites as bangers and mash (that’s sausages and mashed potatoes). Also sip from a wide array of beers and lagers. • Kings Court: Specializes in casual breakfasts and latenight buffets. At the dinner hour, the restaurant morphs into a pan-continental smorgasbord. Interlinking dining areas specialize in Oriental, Italian, and British food. • Sir Samuel: This venue is a coffee bar by day (a great place, in the mornings, to snack on a muffin or Danish), and a wine bar at night. • The Boardwalk Café: The most casual eatery on the ship. It is situated outdoors, near the sundeck pool. Patrons may dine in their bathing suits. • The Queens Room: Enjoy a full afternoon tea here, with scones, pastries, and finger sandwiches. Those planning a sail aboard the QM2 should know that there is a level of formality here not often encountered on

Famed Boston chef Todd English brings his signature style and quality aboard with his namesake restaurant.

morello cherries. At the Princess Grill, it was Atlantic seafood bisque followed by Chateaubriand. At the Britannia Restaurant, guests supped on escargot, then moved on to a main course of roast duck à l’orange. Many specialties carry over from one restaurant to the next. In addition to meals in your assigned dining venue, a number of other restaurants are ready to serve. These are: • Todd English: Named for the famed Boston chef, this upscale eatery specializes in innovative Mediterranean cuisine.

American ships. On a typical six-night transatlantic crossing, you can expect two to three formal evenings – black tie, ball gowns, and cocktail dresses are in order. After you dine, you may want to waddle back to your cabin for a rest. Here, too, the QM2 impresses. Approximately 80 percent of the QM2’s cabins have balconies. All are decorated with fine prints. Queens Grill accommodations range from 506 square feet to an astounding 2,249 square feet. Princess Grill accommodations run about 380 square feet. Guests in both classes enjoy a 39

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The QM2’s Canyon Ranch Spa is a world leader in high-quality spa treatments. Say hello to 20,000 square feet of luxury and wave goodbye to any stress.

host of amenities, including private balconies, 24-hour room services, nightly turndown service, strawberries and Champagne at embarkation, Frette linens, daily newspapers, flower arrangements, and a concierge service offering nine varieties of pillows. Queens Grill passengers also enjoy priority embarkation with separate check-in, a personal butler service, and access to private lounges. Britannia staterooms, meanwhile, while more modest (typically ranging from 155 to 380 square feet, many with balconies), still offer amenities such as nightly turndown service and 24-hour room service.

Days at Sea Your days at sea can be divided into self-guided and organized pursuits. On your own, you’ll have fun exploring the Canyon Ranch SpaClub, a 20,000-square-foot retreat. It features 24 treatment rooms, a lounge, and an aqua therapy room. Enjoy treatments such as Swedish massages, stone massages, manicures, pedicures, and makeovers. Or you may just choose to kick back in the Finnish sauna and the aromatic steam room. Buffed and polished, take the time to visit the QM2’s Art Gallery. Here, you’ll find originals and lithographs by 20th century masters including Picasso, Dali, Chagall, and Erte. Contemporary work is also on view. You may also enjoy: • Illuminations: Billed as the only full-scale planetarium at sea, Illuminations offers a number of constellation shows. The venue doubles as a movie theater and lecture hall.

• The Play Zone: Children aged 3-17 find a variety of age-appropriate activities here. • The Library: Browse through the 8,000 volumes on hand in the QM2’s library, or purchase a tome at the adjacent bookstore. • The Computer Centre: This venue serves up 21 computer workstations. In addition, 14 WiFi hotspots are available throughout the ship. • Swimming Pools: There are five of them, one of which is indoors. Take a dip where you like. • The Grand Lobby: The lobby is three decks high, and boasts two grand staircases. You may choose to spend some time here, listening as harpists, string quartets, and other musicians play. • Mayfair Shops: Here you’ll find boutiques by Harrods, H. Stern, Chopard, Hermes, Chanel, and other fine merchants. • Sports Decks: On decks 12 and 13, you’ll find golf simulators, basketball courts, shuffleboard courts, and a putting green. If you prefer to take in more organized pursuits, you’ll find the QM2 happy to oblige. The ship’s Cultural Enrichment Programme offers a variety of lectures and panel discussions presented by experts in their fields. Topics vary from trip to trip. Past programs have focused on everything from fashion, cooking, science, and Renaissance art to acting, as presented by the members of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Lovers of the written word, meanwhile, appreciate the Cunard Book Club. Here you can take part in literary discussions based on New York Times best sellers.

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BARGING THROUGH

AMERICA

Nightlife Nightlife on the QM2 is legendary. Formal dress balls – including the Black and White Captain’s Ball and the Ascot Ball – are eagerly anticipated by passengers. They are hosted in the Queens Room ballroom, a 134-foot wide, doubleheight venue boasting huge crystal chandeliers and multi-tiered seating. In addition to these glittery affairs, the QM2 offers nightly opportunities for sophisticated fun. Try your luck at the Empire Casino. Taking its inspiration from the great gambling halls of Monte Carlo, the casino offers more than 120 slot machines, along with gaming tables and video poker. If you prefer dancing to the toss, visit G32. DJs and a live dance band get the party going. Those who prefer quieter evenings out visit the Commodore Club or the Veuve Clicquot Champagne Bar. At the Commodore Club, enjoy a drink, listen to live piano music, and make sure to examine the scale model of the QM2. At the Champagne Bar, choose from among seven Veuve Clicquot vintages.

Formal evenings aboard the QM2 are still the epitome of class and quality.

Finally, if your evening out is incomplete without a trip to the theater, take in the QM2’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts program. Six graduate actors perform abridged versions of well-known plays. The 1,015-seat Royal Court Theatre serves up lighter fare, typically musical revues and performances by guest entertainers. Notables such as John Cleese, of Monty Python fame, have appeared here. With luxury cabins, top-notch cuisines, and an array of entertainment options, your transatlantic crossing will pass quickly. For many, far too quickly. Bon voyage! 41

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With an excellent attendantcustomer ratio, the service aboard Singapore Airlines is beyond reproach. Here a flight attendant checks on a first-class passenger.

Photos 42 courtesy of Singapore Airlines unless otherwise noted

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Flying by the Stars By Claudia Jannone

On

my last flight with a domestic carrier, the chief flight attendant announced, “Although our job tonight is to ensure the safety of all passengers, once the plane has reached cruising altitude we will pass through the cabin with beverage service.” I had crossed the Pacific just hours before – in coach for 13 hours on Taiwan-based China Airlines. That flight had been so service-oriented that this flight attendant’s assertion that service on this transcontinental “red-eye” was not a priority stung like a slap on the cheek. No matter which Asian airline I fly, the deal is the same: excellent service, no matter where you are in the plane. So I have been spoiled – spoiled by flight attendants whose eyes smile as readily as their lips, spoiled by good meals charmingly served on nice linens and good china, by real pillows with fresh cotton pillowcases, by toilet compartments that are cleaned and restocked

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Having the space to keep the routines of home can make long flights a little easier.

hourly, by cloth hand towels in business class and complimentary toothbrushes, combs, razors, and lotions. When middle-of-the-night hunger starts to gnaw as the 747 passes over the Bering Strait and a flight attendant in a Chinese-inspired dress delivers me a steaming hot noodle cup, I feel supremely pampered. I learned about Asian ways from living and traveling extensively in Asia. On the ground and in the air, the aesthetic is identical – service, service, service. There is an expectation about checking into a fine hotel in Asia that holds true from Tokyo and Hong Kong to Bangkok and Dubai: If your jacket slips from your shoulders as you approach the desk, an employee will rush to catch it before it drops upon the polished marble floor. Such superb service results from a high employee-to-guest ratio, which Asian airlines accomplish with 15 to 16 flight attendants on transoceanic routes. Even in first class, high-quality service on U.S. carriers has become remarkable only because of its rarity. Having wrenched my back before traveling from the East Coast to Sri Lanka by way of Los Angeles, I explained the injury to a flight attendant upon boarding the domestic leg of my trip. I asked for help getting my carry-on into the overhead compartment and sat down. She said, “I’ll help you, but you’re going to have to lift it too.” If she could not hoist my 15-pound bag, I doubt she could wrestle out one of those heavy plane doors in an emergency, yet flight attendants are there for passenger safety. No one would receive such treatment on an Asian carrier. The tiniest of stewardesses clad in a tight sarong

can pop a large-wheeled suitcase into the overhead compartment with ease. Seated on the upper deck of a 747 in business? A lithe flight attendant will tote up the bag for you. And down. Just ask. Personal service means just that in Asia: a personal relationship between client and server wherein you are a person with a name. In first and business classes, cabin staff address passengers by name and title. When I first saw a Singapore Airlines stewardess do the carrier’s signature “service dip,” her thighs of steel amazed me. Here’s how she did it: With knees pressed together, she dropped down on her haunches with intense grace – all the while balancing a tray of glass stems brimming with good champagne and looking into my eyes to inquire if Ms. Jannone “would care for a pre-flight cocktail.” Encased in a form-fitting sarong kebaya, a batik uniform that showcases the island nation’s heritage, she revealed in that dip that I would never need to crane my neck upward to hear her speak. This transpacific flight was in Raffles class, Singapore Airlines’ designation for business. The carrier yearly jets away with many customer satisfaction awards, such as inclusion on the Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Travel awards, and the readers’ poll in Travel and Leisure that voted it the world’s best international airline for 11 consecutive years. A 2006 poll of readers conducted by Condé Nast Traveler revealed Singapore Airlines as the best on international routes, followed by Emirates, Cathay Pacific, Virgin Atlantic, Air New Zealand, Thai, Qantas, JAL, Malasia, EVA, and ANA. Cultural differences help to explain why Singapore Airlines ranks so highly with travelers. The airline may have

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stopped advertising its excellence as based on a â&#x20AC;&#x153;Singapore Girlâ&#x20AC;? philosophy, but the philosophic stance remains. These are not sterile, genderless flight attendants. Rather, they are â&#x20AC;&#x153;Singapore Girlsâ&#x20AC;? and their male counterparts, proud to serve passengers. In the mind of Singaporeans, to be a Singapore Girl is to be a celebrity. Parents mail announcements to friends when a daughter is hired after a highly competitive interview process and completes an extensive four-month training course that includes social

Above: With seats that lie flat to become beds, sleep comes easily. Below: Food service aboard most Asian airlines (here in Singapore Airlinesâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; business class) elevates fine dining to a new level, approximately 30,000 feet.

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Above left: With state-of-the-art computer terminals, your office can be right in front of you or a million miles away, it’s your choice. Above right: Quality appointments (pictured here in Singapore Airlines’ business class) keep customers coming back. Below: First comes comfort, then relaxation for passengers in Singapore Airlines’ economy class.

etiquette, grooming, passenger-handling skills, meal service, wine appreciation, first aid, and safety procedures for all aircraft. Ignoring a politically-correct agenda, the airline bases its choices on charm, beauty, intelligence, and the demonstration of a genuine desire to serve. However, cabin staff must also pass muster in a simulated water-rescue operation that mimics a rough sea. As equipment evolves, so does the in-flight experience. The new A-345 service in Raffles class on Singapore Airlines’ nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Singapore takes just under 17 hours, but it eliminates hours of travel time usually devoured by a stop in Japan, Korea, or Taiwan. The luxury of readily available flight attendants and a spacious interior creates a comfortable journey. Nonstop A-345 service to Singapore from Los Angeles or Newark carries only 64 business class guests who can snuggle down in a 78-inch SpaceBed that reclines to a flat position. The 117 passengers in

the Executive Economy class on the nonstop flights find a spacious cabin complete with socializing areas and seats that recline 92 degrees. I found Raffles class on the nonstop A-345 far superior to overseas flights in first class on domestic airlines. Recall with me the evening meal … served whenever I wanted it! The starter of fresh crab and mango salad – topped with cilantro and other aromatic herbs and ringed by a river of gazpacho – rivaled the cuisine in a fine restaurant. I had pre-ordered my entrée a week earlier – a traditional Japanese sushi and sashimi, which my Piper-Heidsieck Rare Cuvée accented nicely. With presentation that mimicked a good bistro on the ground, a stewardess next wheeled by the cheese cart, an eyelevel affair offering a selection of international cheeses, nuts, and fresh fruits. Cocktails, wine, Champagne, port, and espresso followed, finishing with chocolates and ice cream topped with fresh raspberry sauce. For the mid-flight snack, I ordered dim sum and fresh fruit, the perfect light nibble after a delicious nap. Breakfast included the usual espresso/cappuccino/exotic roasts, fresh-squeezed orange juice, and natural cereal, followed by the entrée I had pre-selected – roast baby chicken in balsamic reduction with roasted fall vegetables and polenta. Never, not even on the ground, have I been so delighted by breakfast. On a flight to Kuala Lumpur in first class, I asked my Malaysian Airlines stewardess about personal safety in the capital. She provided a rundown of neighborhoods and assured me that her country was a safe one for solo women travelers. On the return leg, the aircraft experienced mechanical problems and was delayed several hours. I inquired if it would be possible to put me on the next morning’s flight rather than leave on this one, which was scheduled for a midnight departure. Malaysian

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Photos via leonardo.com

Airlines arranged a complimentary hotel, meals, and a chauffeured Rolls-Royce to and from the Hyatt Regency. It has been ventured that there are more millionaires in Southeast Asia than anywhere else on Earth. Carriers from this region – Singapore Airlines, Malaysian Airlines, Thai Airways, Cathay Pacific, even the short-haul Bangkok Airways with its elegant private airports that make me feel like a guest at a resort as I lounge in an open-air pavilion while being served lemongrass tea and nibbles by smiling sarong-clad staff – are superb because the clientele demand it. Thai Airways received Global Traveler’s Best Trans-Pacific Airline Award in 2006. Its flight attendants must possess a bachelor’s degree, foreign-language certification, good health, approachable personality, and human-relation skills, all of which result in the world-renowned Royal Orchid service. Thai Airways’ transcontinental fleet contains seating arrangements that follow a fewer-is-better dictum. The A340-500s seat 60 in Royal Silk (business class), 42 in Premium Economy, and 113 in Economy. A340-600s offer eight first-class places, 60 business seats, and 199 coach seats. I appreciate the hospitality offered by 15 smiling Thai flight attendants, international cuisine, and spotless toilets with arrangements of fresh orchids. Cathay Pacific’s fleet of mainly Boeing 747s, A330s, and A340s averages 7 years of age. It makes service a priority in all classes, because to become a flight attendant is to become an ambassador for Hong Kong, a safety expert, and a multilingual caregiver who is versed in empathy for people from various cultures. The superior service delivered by Cathay flight attendants has won the airline many awards.

Outside of Southeast Asia, Korean Air has received worldwide recognition for its dedication to service and promise to pamper and recent accolades such as the Mercury Award for in-flight dining. It surfaced at the top of TIME Asia Readers’ 2006 Travel Choice Awards as the Best in First/Business Class Airline and ranked second in the Preferred Airline category (Singapore Airlines received first). It has been nominated for Global Traveler’s 2007 Travel Awards for Asia’s Leading Airline and Leading Business Class Airline. Accolades for service on Asian carriers are reinforced by rigorous market research by organizations like Skytrax, a business group that monitors airline quality. Of the 11 airlines receiving awards for service excellence in 2006 (in categories including cabin staff, airport services, lounges, in-flight entertainment systems, and catering), two were European, six were Asian (Thai, ANA, Cathay Pacific, Malaysian Airlines, China Airlines, and Asiana), and three were from the Middle East (Qatar Airways, Emirates, and Gulf Air). The geographic breakdown makes sense because Central Asia is the other “millionaires’ row.” Skytrax awarded an overall five-star excellence ranking for long-haul service to only five carriers: Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Asiana Airlines. When traveling to these exotic locales, I like to coordinate my hotels to match the high level of airline service. In Bangkok I choose The Oriental, in Hong Kong The Peninsula. The Fullerton in Singapore offers Palladianstyled luxury in its renovation of the former General Post Office, a striking edifice awash in tall columns. The best Dubai has to offer, the Burj Al Arab, appears on the desert horizon as a monumental vessel with a billowing sail.

Top left: The pool at the Fullerton in Singapore. Top right: A hotel suite at Hong Kong’s Peninsula. 49

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Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates that garnered four Skytrax stars, defines customers as “guests,” with service in three guest zones: Diamond, Pearl, and Coral. Its long-haul fleet of A340300s, A340-500s, and Boeing 767-300s is all new, assuring a roomy cabin, increased range, and safety. Tickets in the Diamond zone include chauffeur service at both ends of the flight (specific locations only), signature cuisine prepared by award-winning international chefs, and state-of-the-art entertainment systems. On A340500s, the seats rotate 180 degrees to create spaces for business meetings and also convert to 80-inch flat beds for a true night’s sleep. Voted the world’s leading new airline by the World Travel Awards for the third consecutive year, Etihad has service from New York and Toronto to the Emirates and points beyond in Africa, Asia, and Europe.

and fine wines. After a good meal that has been well served, sleep comes easily when amenity kits include pajamas and flight attendants have transformed seating on A330s and A340-600s into flat beds complete with feather duvets and pillows. Word about Qatar’s excellent service led to a recent TTG Asia travel award: Best Airline in the Middle East and Africa. Global Traveler, a U.S.-based magazine, voted Qatar the best airline in the Middle East. In summer 2007, Qatar Airlines begins daily nonstop service between Doha and New York on new, state-of-the-art A340-600s that feature an onboard first-class lounge.

Qatar Airlines, one of five five-star airlines, takes a motto that defines its commitment to customer service – five-star

I love how Asian flight attendants do not allow coach passengers to storm the premium cabin upon arrival. Passengers in first or business class leave the plane in peace, often disembarking through a separate jetway and arriving first at immigration. Even when flying coach, I respect the custom because it feels just. As I stood with two American men waiting our turn to exit a China Airlines

service begins on the ground. Features of the airline’s premium terminal, a $90 million facility completed in December 2006 at Doha International Airport, include exclusive check-in service for premium passengers and a lounge with concierge service around the clock. The first-class lounge indulges passengers with a spa, sauna, showers, duty-free shopping, hot and cold appetizers, and private sleep cabins. First-class pampering continues onboard with 10-course dinners based on the finest caviar, lobster, prawns, various Arabic mezzas, cheeses, luxury chocolates, freshly-brewed international coffees,

flight, one remarked on how nice the flight attendants had made the journey. The other called his last trip (on an unnamed U.S. carrier) a nightmare: “They practically threw stuff at us.” As a fan of Bangkok Airways who believes “small is beautiful,” I next want to fly the other two small carriers that achieved five-star rankings: Kingfisher Airlines (a domestic carrier in India that dubs its planes “funliners”) and Air Tahiti Nui (a David among Goliaths that serves four continents with just five wide-body planes). When traveling to exotic lands, I think the journey should be as lovely as the destination.

Quality lies in cutting-edge, spacious, and sumptuous details.

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Ah,

the Caribbean. The mere thought of this tropical paradise and you are instantly transported to a vacation state of mind. The crystalclear water, balmy breezes, and rhythmic beat of steel drums – imagery synonymous with an island retreat – tug at your senses and beg you to escape to paradise. But, if you’re like many discriminating travelers, you may be wary of the increasing crowds and commercialism that plague many of the Caribbean’s treasures. For those who want to see the true, natural beauty of the islands while enjoying fine dining and luxury accommodations, there is an unprecedented option that is quickly gaining in popularity: private vacation charters.

Harris Hatcher Photography

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CRUISING THE CARIBBEAN Chart a course for relaxation as you board a luxury yacht bound for paradise

By Tara N. Wilfong

Photos courtesy of Voyage Charters USA

A bumpy, dusty road leads into Cotopaxi National Park – one of Ecuador’s most spectacular natural areas, which holds the world’s highest active volcano.

Photographs by David Brown

Experience the Caribbean (opposite) in a whole new way by chartering a private vessel, such as a Voyage catamaran (opposite, inset and this page). 53

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Far from the massive cruise ships that shuttle thousands of passengers from one port to the next, private charters cater to small groups, usually just four to 12 passengers, depending on the vessel. With catamarans and monohulls (think luxury speedboats) to choose from, vacationers can tailor their charter experience from the onset. If the rudiments of sailing are of particular interest, consider an elegant catamaran, with its dual hulls, billowing sails, and ability to lithely glide across the water. If you’re more of an adventure buff and life in the fast lane is your style, then a monohull, with its ability to cut through the waves as it motors from island to island, may be more to your liking. With either choice, you will have the opportunity to experience the islands in a truly unique way while enjoying all of the comforts and pleasures of a luxury resort. “All monohulls and catamarans have divine accommodations,” says Sandy Carney of Sanderson Yachting, a charter broker based in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. “The cabins are on par with five-star hotels for top amenities, and luxury linens are de rigueur as are the latest in electronics and stereo equipment.” Spacious, well-appointed cabins, some with their own sitting room, are the norm, as are en suite bathrooms, large, open galley kitchens, and comfortable salons. Onboard the 76-foot catamaran Akasha, which can accommodate 10 guests in four double cabins and one owner’s suite, the cabins are a soothing balm after a day of vigorous watersports under the tropical sun. A mixture of materials, such as buttery leather and smooth, lightcolored wood, blend perfectly to create a sumptuous

palette for silk bed covers and cushions in natural hues of sage and gold. Complementing the ambiance of the cabins are en suite bathrooms crafted from cool marble. In the owners’ suite, a Jacuzzi tub begs you to sink into its depths for a heavenly soak, after which plush, monogrammed towels and bathrobes are provided for your comfort. Throughout the vessel, artwork specifically chosen by the owner has a decidedly South African twist, while displays of fresh flowers permeate and add a clean, tropical fragrance to the air. While these touches propel you straight into vacation mode, certain “necessities,” such as flat-screen televisions, Playstation consoles, a laptop computer complete with wireless Internet service, and Bose stereo systems provide the comforts of home. “It’s our job to ensure guests have a safe and wonderful vacation,” says Veronica Chamberlain, chef onboard Akasha. “We pamper our guests and look after their every need with great service and attention to detail. There are very few charter catamarans of Akasha’s size that can accommodate up to 10 guests. The spaciousness onboard gives a great level of comfort; you would have to charter a much larger monohull or motor yacht to have as much space.” Smaller in size, but with no less attention to detail or comfort, the catamarans of Voyage Charters have been ushering the jet set through the British Virgin Islands since 1995. Voyage Charters is unique in that it builds and sails its own catamarans – the entire fleet of four 50foot and four 58-foot vessels were constructed by its associate company, Voyage Yachts, in South Africa.

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Photos courtesy of Voyage Charters USA

It has launched more than 125 vessels and executed more than 1,500 charters. “Everything in the design of our boats has a purpose,” says Stella Beavis, manager of charter sales for Voyage. “The décor is very modern; the colors are cool in keeping with the tropical climate of the Caribbean; and our boats are designed to embrace the natural light and air.” Onboard, a delectable mix of monochromatic colors – white, black, and gray – are decidedly European, while the bright splashes of color in the artwork and accessories create a contemporary canvas with a Caribbean vibe. Complementing the vessels’ palette is a mixture of materials, including marble, leather, and wood, which add to their inviting décor. Sumptuous linens and the latest in high-tech electronics complete the

Opposite: You set the pace and the course when you cruise the Caribbean by private charter, allowing as much time as you’d like for watersports, relaxation, or sightseeing. Above: The thoughtfullyappointed interior of a Voyage catamaran allows travelers to relax in beautiful but functional surroundings.

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package. “The décor and accoutrements are not only beautiful, but user-friendly as well,” explains Beavis. “You never feel that you can’t step right out of the water onto the yacht; all of the materials we use are ideal for this climate.” After settling in and exploring the countless amenities inside these floating suites, you’ll be just as enchanted by their outdoor offerings. Al fresco dining is available on both catamarans and monohulls, as are numerous watersports, including waterskiing, tubing, wakeboarding, kayaking, snorkeling, and scuba diving. For the sun worshipper, there are countless spots for soaking in the tropical rays. The catamarans in particular offer a sunning experience like no other. Strung between the

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out of their vacation and makes suggestions that can be changed, if desired, on a daily basis.”

dual hulls is a net trampoline where guests can enjoy the Caribbean heat while mist from the ocean waves gently caresses their bodies with a cool, salt spray. “The British Virgin Islands [BVI], in particular, have wonderful year-round trade winds, which provide a tranquil warm breeze, in addition to gentle rolling waves,” Beavis says. “Ideally, even when you’re inside the boat, you never want to turn on the air conditioning in favor of the natural cooling air and water outside.” As you embrace total mental and physical relaxation, the real allure of a private vacation charter hits home: the level of service, as well as the customization of each itinerary. The guests, not the crew, choose the destinations to visit, the length of time spent at each island, and the menu to satisfy their every want. “The beauty of chartering a yacht is that there are no schedule restrictions except the client’s,” says Carney. “They can stay longer in one locale than originally planned, or leave earlier – it’s completely at their discretion. Every charter has a unique itinerary that is developed by the captain in concert with the client and their broker.”

Right: Akasha, a 76-foot catamaran, can accommodate 10 guests in its four double cabins and owner’s suite.

The former is best known for the Soggy Dollar Bar on White Bay, aptly named because visitors arriving by boat must swim ashore, since there is no dock. If you do embrace tradition, soggy dollars in hand, the gentle waves will propel you ashore as a panorama of sea life parades in the depths below. Brightly colored fish, stingrays, and perhaps the occasional sea turtle will glide by, undeterred by your presence. On the beach, sugary-white sand provides a soft blanket while you catch your breath after an exhilarating swim. Beavis recommends that when you do sidle up to the bar you order the signature island drink, the rum-infused “Painkiller,” then people-watch and rake in the atmosphere. “The people on Jost Van Dyke are the most laid-back,” she says. “If you go ashore, it’s not unusual for someone to just pick up a guitar and start playing. Music is everything to them.” If you want to keep the party going, sail over to Great Harbor and experience the world-renowned Foxy’s Bar, where Foxy himself just might be entertaining.

Photo courtesy of Akasha, Nicholson Yachts

Above: The interiors on Voyage charters are marked by monochromatic colors with bright splashes of color.

From the moment you board a private charter, the crew, consisting of a captain and chef – though some charters also include a stewardess and deckhand – tend to your every need. As you explore the vessel, getting acquainted with its layout and provisions, the captain gives his “captain’s briefing,” a quick list of dos and don’ts mixed in with sailing etiquette. To keep the mood light and the chat friendly, the chef prepares cocktails as the captain and guests discuss the trip’s itinerary. “With safety as our utmost concern, we cover this discussion as soon as our guests arrive,” Beavis says. “We’ve found that this informal, yet important, talk relaxes our guests and makes them feel less intimidated by the boat. Also at this briefing, the captain asks what in particular they want

Photo courtesy of Voyage Charters USA

If you’re sailing the BVI – the premier charter destination in the world because it offers the greatest number of islands in the smallest area, according to Beavis – you can tailor your vacation to include incredible natural coves and bays or boisterous nightspots resonating with the familiar sounds of reggae music. Whatever route you choose, there are a few “not-to-miss” spots that our experts suggest. Two destinations like no other are the islands of Jost Van Dyke and Anegada.

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Photo courtesy of Voyage Charters USA

Unlike Jost Van Dyke’s mountainous terrain, Anegada is a unique atoll that can be easily missed in the waters of the Caribbean. Just 28 feet above sea level, Anegada is a long, flat island characterized by the occasional palm tree and interior salt flats. Besides endless miles of relatively deserted beaches, Anegada’s real draw is “Cow Wreck” on the island’s westernmost point. “Cow Wreck is the most picturesque place you’ll ever see a sunset from because you won’t see anything else – no people, no islands, no development,” Beavis says. Deriving its name from a shipwreck in which cattle bones were washed ashore, the area is famous for its nightly lobster bakes at the Cow Wreck Bar. If you want to sample some of the best local cuisine, lobster sizzling over an open bonfire is an experience like no other. Island hopping from Jost Van Dyke to Anegada, and all ports in between, is just one lure of a luxury charter vacation. With the ultimate freedom of choice and a high level of comfort, these floating paradises are a secret indulgence well within reach. “The best thing about a private charter is that the crew

is meticulously trained on how to give impeccable service, and more importantly, when to give it,” Beavis says. “A high level of service is provided effortlessly, so the passengers don’t even realize someone is there doing it. Every effort is made to ensure guests view the vessel as their own private yacht and that the crew is just there to make their dream vacation even more magical.”

Fantastic Fare Aside from the exotic, and oftentimes remote, islands you sail to in a perpetual state of luxury, one of the most enticing aspects of a private charter is the delectable menu crafted by the boat’s master chef. Akasha’s Chamberlain has served as a first mate/chef for the past six years, extensively sailing the Caribbean and Mediterranean aboard private charters, including the past year aboard the Akasha. She is primarily a self-taught chef, but she has also been professionally trained by famed culinary institution Le Cordon Bleu. “I have a genuine passion for cooking, and I gain great satisfaction from people enjoying my food,” she explains. “I particularly enjoy cooking Continued on page 62

Charter companies ask guests for their culinary preferences before they arrive for their excursion to ensure that the menu is to their liking.

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Image: © Zach Stovall

artfully uniting extraordinary properties with extraordinary lives!

Offering the finest selection of properties for purchase and rental on the magical island of St. Barthélemy F.W.I. rue du Centenaire-Gustavia, 97133 St. Barthélemy F.W.I. U.S.A. 508.570.4127 • St. Barth + 590 590 29 75 05 sales.stbarth@sothebysrealty.com Real Estate: www.sothebysrealty-stbarth.com Rental: www.stbarth.com

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Bon AppÉtit! Sample Menu for Akasha FWI (French West Indies) Breakfast: Toast with sticky pineapple sauce Smoked salmon lox with toasted bagels Blueberry and banana pancakes with warm maple syrup and crispy bacon Luncheon: Fresh grilled tuna salad with mango and papaya accompanied by chilled Sancerre Grilled hamburgers with all the fixings Tobago flying fish with horseradish and capers Afternoon Cocktails: Fresh fruit daiquiri Appetizer and Pre-dinner Cocktails: Basil pesto, olive, and roasted pepper goat cheese torte Skewered rosemary shrimp with mint pesto Roasted garlic hummus with pita and crudités

Photos courtesy of Voyage Charters USA

Entrée: Lobster bisque followed by beef tenderloin with a port reduction, blue cheese and chive butter Roast duck breasts with tamarind-orange glaze Roasted sea bass with garlic and shallot vinaigrette Dessert: New York cheesecake with passion fruit coulis Triple-chocolate tiramisu Lemon panna cotta with blackberry sauce Nightcap: Cappuccino, espresso, cognac 61

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modern Caribbean style, incorporating as much local produce as possible, as well as many international foods with an Asian influence.” A typical day on any given charter includes breakfast, lunch, and dinner, in addition to numerous appetizers, cocktails, and desserts freshly prepared by the chef. To accommodate your culinary preferences, the charter company prepares a preference sheet in advance of your vacation, on which you can detail likes, dislikes, and any potential allergies. “Food and drink is a huge part of the vacation, so it’s very important that we customize it to the individuals’ tastes,” Beavis says. “On the water, your appetite is always there because of the activity, so you can eat without guilt. We compare our scrumptious meals to living in the Cooking Channel, but here, you get to taste everything every day!”

Ahoy! Sailors If you’re a boat owner, you already know how exhilarating and freeing life can be on the sea. Evening sails, morning fishing trips, and the often-enticing weekend away are all perks of ownership. But, if you’re like many sailors, the thought of an extended excursion to faraway ports like those of the Caribbean can be a bit intimidating. If you find yourself in this predicament, consider hiring a short-term captain to sail your boat. “Our services are an alternative for boat owners who

don’t want to hire a full-time, year-round crew,” says Captain Don Jackson, a captain for hire based in Murrells Inlet, South Carolina. “This alternative is particularly popular amongst boat owners who want to sail their own boat, but who aren’t comfortable enough to cross the Florida Straits, or aren’t comfortable doing a 24-hour stint overnight at the helm.” Specializing in crewed charters to the Caribbean, Jackson, who holds a U.S. Coast Guard 100-ton master’s license that allows him to sail just about any private or commercial vessel on the water, has delivered vessels from 30 feet to more than 100 feet to the islands from all ports along the East Coast. Depending on the boat’s size, he usually hires just one additional crewmember, who serves as first mate and chef, but supplemental crewmembers can be easily added for larger charters or parties. “Our main goal is to provide owners with an individualized, stress-free vacation where we deliver their boat to a desired location safely and on time,” Jackson says. “We are here to eliminate all the hassles and provide all the perks of a private charter.” For the ultimate hassle-free, charter-like experience, Jackson and his crew will also sail your vessel directly to the Caribbean, meeting you at the port of your choice. With this scenario, boat owners are spared from dealing with breakdowns, foul weather, and unexpected delays, as well as the time-consuming, but

Below: Catamarans like Voyage Charters’ Fantasy Island are a popular charter choice, but monohulls are also an option.

Photo courtesy of Voyage Charters USA

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required, step of clearing customs. “Many of our clients prefer for us to handle the necessary paperwork of sailing to the Caribbean,” Jackson explains. “We usually clear customs in a convenient spot like Nassau, Bahamas, because it has deep channels and easy access to provisions. Once the owner and his or her family and friends arrive, we have already dealt with general maintenance, such as washing and waxing the vessel, as well as supplying the boat with groceries, beverages, and toiletries, so they can easily start cruising as soon as they arrive.” What makes this arrangement even sweeter is that the captain and crew do not require a minimum or maximum number of days for each charter, nor are there additional fees for extra services, such as fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, or even guided tours. With more than 15 years of experience sailing to and from the islands, Jackson is familiar with the best diving and snorkeling spots, as well as many off-the-beaten-path sites that are relatively untouched and undiscovered jewels of the tropics. “The diversity of the islands from one side to the other is palpable,” he says. “One of my favorite places to cruise is the Abacoes in the Bahamas because there are great ports that are easy to navigate, private beaches, fantastic restaurants, and great shopping. Wherever boat owners want to sail, we can get them there quickly and safely and provide a vacation experience like no other.”

For More Information: Akasha www.akasha.com Captain Don Jackson Murrells Inlet, South Carolina (843) 457-8380 e-mail: cruisethecaribbean@netscape.com Sanderson Yachting 223 Wapping Rd., Portsmouth, RI 02871 (401) 338-6866 e-mail: sandy@sandersonyachting.com Voyage Charters USA Warehouse Creek Marina 58 Leeland Rd., Edgewater, MD 21037 (888) 869-2436 e-mail: info@voyagecharters.com www.voyagecharters.com

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Features

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An Interview with

Donald Trump

â&#x20AC;&#x153;The donaldâ&#x20AC;? shares his thoughts on success, his latest projects, and his favorite getaways

Photos courtesy of The Trump Organization

By Iwalani Kahikina and Michael J. Tully

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R

olls-Royce Owners’ Club Luxury Travel Guide 2007: You seem to have a golden touch with your many endeavors, from your towers, casinos, and golf courses to your highly rated television show. What’s your definition of success? Donald Trump: Success is loving what you’re doing and doing it well. You started out working with your father and eventually entered the world of Manhattan real estate. Then you branched out to the aforementioned casinos and golf courses and eventually, hotels. Which of your numerous ventures is closest to your heart? I have a genuine enthusiasm for everything I do, so that’s hard to answer. However, I’m currently developing a golf course in Scotland, in Aberdeen, which is tremendously exciting to me. It’s a fantastic property on the sea, and because I love playing golf and have Scottish heritage from my mother, this project is particularly special. There is a growing list of international Trump Organization endeavors – Seoul, Toronto, Canouan Island, Dubai, etc. Are these destinations that you gravitate toward on a personal level as well as a financial one? They are all wonderful destinations. They deserve topquality hotels, and we know we can enhance these locations with our buildings. What prompted you to make the move into the hospitality field with your luxury hotels? My first hotel and tower, Trump International Hotel & Tower in New York City, was a huge success. It made sense to duplicate it elsewhere. It was voted the No.1 hotel in New York City. We will have another spectacular success with our tower going up in SoHo. New York City deserves two Trump International Hotel & Towers. What amenities do you find to be key in a luxury hotel? What do you think makes a hotel stand out as a premier establishment? The best of everything works, as in service, location, amenities, restaurants, and so forth. My hotels have a reputation for impeccable and gracious service. I know what I like, and I have very high standards, and that’s what we deliver to my guests. It’s a simple formula. 67

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Along with your award-winning hotels, you have recently entered into the travel business with GoTrump.com and your signature line of travel goods – travel really seems to be a passion of yours. Can you foresee a time when Donald Trump the businessman might be replaced by Donald Trump the traveler? Not really. I have always traveled a lot as it’s important to my businesses. Do you ever find it possible to completely relax while on vacation? If so, what’s your secret?

What I enjoy most when on vacation is to play golf, and I develop golf courses, so in a sense I’m still working – which I love. The secret is to love what you’re doing, then you’ll never really need a vacation. Where is your favorite luxury getaway and what is it that makes it a preferred destination for you? My Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach is the ideal getaway for me. It’s on the ocean, it’s near the Trump International Golf Club, and the grounds are spectacular, as is the house itself. It’s my second residence, and there’s no place in the world that can equal it in luxury. However, I’ve been spending more time at my course in Palos Verdes, near Los Angeles, in California, and it’s become another luxury getaway that is wonderful in every way. It overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and it’s already the No.1 course in California. As I spend more time in Los Angeles these days, it’s a fantastic addition to my roster of preferred destinations. There has been a trend recently for billionaires like yourself to investigate private space travel. Is this something that interests you? Not really. I’m so busy on Planet Earth that it would be a distraction. The last few years have seen the Trump name attached to some exciting endeavors outside of the real estate development arena, including Trump magazine, Trump University, Trump Vodka, the Miss Universe, Miss USA, and Miss Teen USA beauty pageants … What do you see next? We are expanding internationally and there’s always something new on the horizon. I have a couple more books in the works and will continue with a variety of projects. You’re undoubtedly considered a real estate guru, an imaginative entrepreneur, and an excellent businessman, but if you had to choose an alternate career path, what could you see yourself doing? Before I went to Wharton, I had considered going to USC to study film. Being a producer interested me. How do you want to be remembered 100 years from now? As a developer who enhanced the landscape, whether that be in the Scottish countryside or in Manhattan or Dubai.

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Come to where every wave in the ocean

GUHDPV

of cr ashing.

Discover the charm and beauty of Old Mexico amid the scenic coastal hillsides of the Grand Bay Hotel Isla Navidad Resort. A longtime favorite along the Pacific Gold Coast, each one of this Wyndham Luxury Resort’s 200 oversized rooms are elegantly decorated and luxuriously furnished to reflect its romantic atmosphere and picturesque locale. Accented by a world-class golf course, 25,000 sq. ft. of meeting space and a stellar culinary staff, guests never have a hard time finding their way here, it’s leaving that’s always the most difficult.

For reservations, call 1.800.WYNDHAM or visit www.wyndham.com.

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C

Nature slowly reclaims ancient ruins, barely noticing a family of intrepid snorkelers.

ontemplating a seaside getaway? With thousands of miles of shoreline fringing several bodies of water – the Pacific, the Caribbean, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Sea of Cortez, to name only the largest – Mexico tempts beach seekers with an array of splashy retreats. Indeed, the country’s menu of resorts is so diverse that it’s useful to have some choice-making strategies. First, pick some waterside scenery, from desert to jungle and mountains. Now, select some favorite activities: diving, golf, exploring ancient Mayan cities, collecting contemporary art. Then figure out how social – or secluded – you’d like to be. While it’s impossible for a single beach resort to include every desired vacation ingredient, Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and the Riviera Maya stand out for their complexity and richness, not to mention gorgeous presentation. ¡Buen provecho – hearty appetite!

Los Cabos

Mexico’s sunny shores offer a plethora of vacation possibilities By Edie Jarolim

How did Cabo – as it’s known to its many devotees – become so popular? The answer lies underwater. Angling experts contend that the numbers and varieties of fish caught here year-round are unrivaled anywhere on the planet. While Cabo may not resemble the sleepy getaway that drew Ernest Hemingway, Bing Crosby, and other celebrity anglers in the 1940s and 1950s, the resident fish seem undeterred – especially the marlin. By some counts, more than 40,000 are hooked each year, earning Cabo the nickname “Marlin Alley.”

Mayan fortification Tulum, perched high atop limestone cliffs, is one of the Riviera Maya’s most visited sites.

Oversized sea creatures enjoy coming to Cabo, too. Between January and March, some 3,000 to 5,000 gray whales swim approximately 6,000 miles south from Alaska’s Bering Strait to the tip of Baja peninsula, in order to give birth in warmer Pacific waters and feed on the plentiful plankton. The annual visits of these enormous mammals, which stay relatively close to shore, have inspired a small industry of tours devoted to peeping at them, from one-hour excursions in small boats

Photos courtesy of Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board

SEacoast Siesta

Situated on the tip of the Baja California peninsula, where the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean converge, Los Cabos gives you two coasts for the price of one, along with the dramatic capes, or cabos, for which the destination was named. It also offers three distinct areas to revel in, sometimes literally: low-key San Jose del Cabo, the closest you get to traditional Mexico; party-hearty Cabo San Lucas, where visitors go to let their hair down; and “the Corridor,” a 20-mile stretch of posh resorts and golf courses that connects the two capes.

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Photos courtesy of Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board

Courtesy of Four Seasons, Punta Mita

Punta Mita Golf Club’s signature hole, “Tail of the Whale,” boasts the world’s only “natural island green” and many, many lost golf balls.

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to full-day air/boat trips to such Pacific Coast inlets as Magdalena Bay and Laguna Ojo de Liebre, both prime calving areas. Nor does Cabo neglect landlubbers, especially golfers. The rough really is rough at many of the courses spread along the Corridor – with obstacles including cliffs, arroyos, and huge, 100-year-old cardón cactuses – but, what with a startlingly azure sea contrasting the rolling greens, the scenery couldn’t be easier on the eyes. Since 1992, when Jack Nicklaus debuted his first signature course in Latin America at the Palmilla Golf Club, Los Cabos has become Mexico’s premier golf destination. The roster of celebrity designers – Robert Trent Jones, Jr., Pete Dye, Tom Weiskopf, Tom Fazio, and Greg Norman, to name just the top ones – is as impressive as their course backdrops.

Those who find their bliss in being stretched, wrapped, and prodded while gazing out at the sea won’t be disappointed in Los Cabos, which offers everything from yoga at low-key San Jose day spas to European-style balneotherapy and Aztec-inspired wraps at the top resorts. Bird-watching at the estuary in San Jose is another dry dock option – as is observing the mating rituals in Cabo San Lucas. These begin in the afternoon at the volleyball courts and bars on Medano Beach, and carry on through the wee hours at clubs like Cabo Wabo, El Squid Roe, and the Giggling Marlin (the names alone sum up the sophistication level).

Dave Richards, a longtime veteran in the industry and rater for Golf Magazine’s “Top 100 You Can Play” feature, says, “Golf in Cabo is Neiman Marcus variety, very high quality. Plus the conditions are great. You’ve got the ocean views, but because you’re in the desert, there’s practically no humidity.” Richards cites Nicklaus’ Ocean Course at the Cabo del Sol Country Club as the best of the 20 or so Nicklaus links he’s played – “What with the mountains winding down to the sea, it’s hard

For a change of pace – to a much slower one – daytrippers head 43 miles up the Pacific coast to Todos Santos, a one-time sugar cane center turned New Age expatriate enclave. There’s little to do but browse the galleries and crafts shops in the restored Colonial buildings near the plaza, dine at such world-class restaurants as the Café Santa Fe, or visit the 1928 Hotel California, more interesting for its construction materials – planks salvaged from a Norwegian shipwreck –

Courtesy of Resort and Golf Marketing

Palmilla Golf Course, designed by the legendary Jack Nicklaus, is as challenging as it is beautiful.

to beat” – but also recommends the complementary Desert Course that Tom Weiskopf created there. “Don’t miss it, just because it’s not directly on the ocean,” he advises. “It’s got some great holes.”

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Two moods of Las Ventanas al Paraiso; not a worry in sight.

than for the oft-claimed but dubious link to the Eagles’ song of the same name.

Puerto Vallarta

Courtesy of P&G Communications

Like Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta has striking scenery – it’s set on the Pacific coast’s sweeping Bay of Banderas and backed by the foothills of the Sierra Madres – and multiple personalities. The best known of them is the hilly, cobblestone town center, a sleepy fishing village before the 1963 filming of John Huston’s Night of the Iguana. Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s romantic trysts while both were married to other people created an international press frenzy. After the celebrity buzz died down, the photos of the stunning beaches continued to draw visitors from around the world. This was not entirely a bad thing. Jane Onstott, author of Fodor’s Puerto Vallarta, explains, “Puerto Vallarta is so beautiful, and many people who came on vacation from wealthier countries wanted to stay, and also to recreate the quality of life they enjoyed back home.” She cites as a recent example chef Bernhard Güth, from the Black Forest region of Germany. The fine dining room that he opened, Trio, was such a success that he and partner Ulf Henrikkson, a chef from Sweden, created Vitea, a more casual bistro. Both eateries highlight “world cuisine,” innovative versions of classical dishes that focus on regional ingredients. “The best chefs in Vallarta take advantage of everything that’s available around here, from tequila and chilis to chocolate and tropical fruit,” Onstott says.

She laughs, “And I know of at least one well-respected restaurateur who likes to frequent two of the local taco stands, which are also terrific.” Puerto Vallarta’s downtown art scene is similarly sophisticated – and fun. Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante has a gallery here, for example, while sculptor Alejandro Colunga is on the roster of established stars who mingle with the up-and-comers represented by Galleria Dante, owned by a Canadian-American couple. But public art is key to Mexican culture, so the seaside malecón (boardwalk) is lined with an array of sculpture, including a whimsical tower by Colunga that children – and many grown-up visitors – love to climb. Four and a half decades after the filming of “The Movie” (as it’s still referred to in Vallarta), old and new mingle easily in downtown. Traditional mariachis serenade young Mexican couples ambling past the malecón’s sculptures; a colorful traditional crafts market and a bronze statue of John Huston share space on the tree-shaded Río Cuale Island; and Liz and Dick’s houses – connected by an arching pink bridge in the neighborhood known as “Gringo Gulch” – are a short walk from the landmark Virgin of Guadalupe Church, recognizable by its lacy crown. Puerto Vallarta’s beachfront to the north is more single-mindedly modern: The high-rise hotel zone throngs with concessions renting everything from jet skis to parasails, and the sparkling marina swims with schools of yachts outfitted for deep-sea fishing trips. If these fishing trips are not quite as rewarding as those 75

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Right: An amazing subterranean world welcomes even tentative visitors.

Photos courtesy of Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board

Below: The Great Maya Reef offers an unparalleled diving experience inside its renowned cenotes.

Those seeking beachfront seclusion head for the smaller towns that dot the Bay of Banderas. Because there are no roads, you have to take a water taxi or private boat to such southern villages as Las Animas, Quimixto, and, the most visited, Yelapa, a former hangout of Bob Dylan and friends (electricity only arrived in Yelapa recently, so Dylan must have gone acoustic there). Roads – and high-end development – have definitely reached Punta Mita, the promontory at the northern tip of the Bay of Banderas, but nearby beaches remain pristine, and the protected Marietas Islands, with thriving marine life first spotlighted by Jacques Cousteau, are just a panga boat ride away. It’s far more difficult to reach the remote mountain towns that are home to the Huichol Indians, known for their intricate yarn and beadwork – several days through tropical thickets if you go overland – but tour operators in Puerto Vallarta can quickly whisk you back to

the past via small aircraft. Alternatively, you can indulge your jungle fever nearer to town by booking a canopy tour, which will have you swinging along the treetops via zip-line.

Riviera Maya The name says it all. This chic stretch of shore on the eastern Yucatán peninsula just south of Cancún features world-class beaches plus intriguing traces of the area’s first real estate developers, the Maya. Visitors come here to take advantage of the warm, clear water and startlingly white sand of Mexico’s lush Caribbean coast while avoiding the crowds and Americanization – at least for the time being – that is prevalent in Cancún. Courtesy of Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board

in Cabo – the Bay of Banderas is so large that it takes a couple of hours to get to the spots where the water is deep enough for the bigger fish – the journey is bracing, and there’s a good chance you’ll encounter some hungry sailfish and blue marlin upon arrival.

The Great Maya Reef, a coral extravaganza second only in size to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, lies off the coast, and a unique underground river system flows beneath the land, creating a honeycomb of underwater caverns and cenotes: sinkholes created by erosion. It’s easy to see why the cenotes were sacred to the Maya – not only were they a source of fresh water but, when shafts of sunlight from the surface illuminate the huge stalactites and stalagmites, they look magical – and why

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Clockwise from top right: Paraiso de la Bonita welcomes guests to its uniquely designed pool and deck area. Descendants of the area’s original rulers educate, inform, and entertain visitors with their reverent displays of Mayan culture.

Courtesy of Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board

Archaeology, aquatics, and nature combine at the Mayan-themed eco-park Xcaret.

Whichever you choose to do, you’ll find an outfitter to suit you in Playa del Carmen, which, like Puerto Vallarta, was once a fishing village. Although it now serves as the Riviera Maya’s activity center, however, Playa remains relatively small and laid-back. When you’re ready to dry out – literally, not metaphorically – from forays into the water, it’s fun to wander around the town’s craft and beachwear shops, then kick back with a margarita at an outdoor café. Culture buffs don’t have to give up great scenery to explore the region’s roots. Around the 7th century, the Maya built Tulum, a walled city perched high on a limestone cliff overlooking the Caribbean. Highlights include the faded paintings in the Temple of the Frescoes and the lighthouse-like Castillo, Tulum’s tallest structure. Even taller – and open to the public to climb – is the Nohoch Mul pyramid at Cobá, a less trafficked Mayan ruin about an hour inland. It’s worth the effort to scale the steep triangular structure for the commanding views of the surrounding jungle, punctuated by a series of shallow lakes.

Courtesy of Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board

Photos courtesy of Riviera Maya Tourism Promotion Board

Cathryn Castle, editor of Dive Training magazine, says, “There are not many locations in the world where you can combine clear, freshwater diving and Caribbean reef diving. Here, you can come up from a cenote dive in the morning, and by the time you pack your gear, drive to the reef, and get suited up again, you’re past the surface interval” (the time required to decompress between dives). She adds, “My husband and I probably have done 12,000 dives between us, and we keep coming back to the Riviera Maya for the cenotes, which are amazing.” In addition, as Castle points out, if you or one of your family members is not dive certified, the reefs and cenotes are also great for snorkeling.

Elements of Mayan culture suffuse other activities, too. Aquatics and archaeology meet at Xcaret, a Mayanthemed eco-park where you can swim with dolphins, splash around an underground river, and then watch a reenactment of a Mayan ballgame (no human sacrifice portrayed). As the many extras hired to depict their (oftsacrificed) ancestors in Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto can attest, the Maya are far from extinct. At Pac Chen, a contemporary Mayan village, you can sample traditional regional dishes, then rappel into a cenote. In addition, several spas at local resorts feature temezcals, sweat huts used in ancient Mayan ceremonies. Cherie Blair, wife of the British prime minister, took a lot of heat for venturing

Paraiso de la Bonita photo via KWE Group

they now help make the Riviera Maya a magnet for watersport enthusiasts, especially divers.

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Something this intoxicating should not be available to minors

Riviera Maya MEXICO Contact your Grand Specialist to book your r eser vation at: 1-888-923-2722 www.iberostar.com

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into a temezcal on the Riviera Maya a few years ago, but if you’re not in public life, group perspiration can be cool. You can avoid most of the trappings of culture, ancient and otherwise, at the 1.6-million-acre Sian Ka’an Biosphere Reserve, designated in 1987 as Mexico’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its tropical forest, grasslands, wetlands, and offshore waters are home to a vast array of wildlife – more than 330 types of birds, as well as such endangered species as jaguar, puma, tapir, manatee, and marsh crocodile. Signs of human presence aren’t entirely absent, however; several shipwrecks lie offshore, and some 22 overgrown Mayan archaeological sites, many of them unexcavated, dot the inland areas. It’s a nice reminder that, no matter how many out-of-towners come and raise a ruckus, Mother Nature always gets the last word.

If you go

Los Cabos The most exclusive hotels in Los Cabos are on the Corridor, including Las Ventanas al Paraiso (www.lasventanas. com), a celebrity haunt where each suite’s terrace has a

Courtesy of Four Seasons Resort, Punta Mita

Below, right: When the stability of dry land calls, the private docks of Paraiso de la Bonita are a great place to alight.

Several luxury hotel chains are represented in Los Cabos, Puerto Vallarta, and the Riviera Maya. Leading Hotels of the World (www.lhw.com) is a good resource for top accommodations that don’t have name-brand recognition; for well-vetted intimate lodgings, try Mexico Boutique Hotels (www.mexicoboutiquehotels.com).

Puerto Vallarta Although no one section of Puerto Vallarta stands out for luxury lodgings, several accommodations shine. The hacienda-style Casa Velas (www.hotelcasavelas.com) in Marina Vallarta has everything – golf, spa, private plunge pools, proximity to the town’s attractions – except a sandy beachfront. About an hour north of Vallarta, the Four Seasons Punta Mita (www.fourseasons. com/puntamita) provides scores of on-site amenities and activities, including a new yacht for charter – and even a cultural center. You have to take a small plane to reach Villa Sierra Lago (www.sierralago.com/cms/villas), perched on a volcanic lake in the Sierra Madres, but the breathtaking setting, great food – and dancing stallions – reward the trip. For additional information, visit www.visitpuertovallarta. com or call 888-384-6822. The Riviera Maya You’re spoiled for choice when it comes to luxurious places to stay on the Riviera Maya, where new posh spots with all the mod cons keep springing up on the coast – in every size. One of the top smaller properties, Esencia (www.hotelesencia.com), was built for an Italian duchess, and still offers butler service. Slightly larger but still exclusive, Paraiso de la Bonita (www.paraisodelabonita.com) has one of the region’s best spas. The Fairmont Mayakoba (www.fairmont.com/mayakoba), host to Mexico’s first PGA tournament in February 2007, may be capacious but service never suffers. Log on to www.rivieramaya.com or phone 877-7GOMAYA for details.

telescope for peering at migrating whales in winter; and the hacienda-style Casa del Mar (www.casadelmarmexico.com), with its Euro-chic Spa Chakra. Alternatively, get attuned to the gentle rhythms of small town Mexico at Casa Natalia (www.casanatalia.com), an inn as colorful and charming as San Jose del Cabo itself.

Paraiso de la Bonita photo via KWE Group

Below, left: Awestruck visitors gaze as Mexico’s Pacific Coast warmly welcomes the yearly visit of migrating gray whales.

See www.visitloscabos.org or call 866-LOS-CABOS for general tourism information; for activities, log onto www.loscabosguide.com.

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SEVERAL HUNDRED FEET DOWN UNDER

Photo courtesy of Tourism Queensland

Photo courtesy of Tammy Peluso

By Julie Sturgeon

The

guidebooks assume visitors to Australia’s city of Cairns have arrived to experience the Great Barrier Reef. After all, it’s the international attraction that enables this seaside region to generate 5.1 billion tourism dollars annually.

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Photo courtesy of Tourism Queensland

Opposite: Scuba diving isn’t necessary to view many of the wonders of “The Reef.” Here, mere feet below the water’s surface, beautiful fish and coral warmly greet a snorkeling family.

Opposite, inset: A family of clown fish relaxes amidst the relative safety of the coral. Above: Covering a wide variety of terrain, from open fields to rainforest to the city of Cairns, a balloon tour is a great way to see some more of your host city.

But real tourists know that Cairns offers far more adventures than merely underwater swimming. And our group of six – four adults whose ties go back as far as middle school, plus two kids (one a middleschooler himself) – was determined not to leave any adventure untouched. Our motto: to investigate what lay several hundred feet in all directions. We couldn’t think of a better way to start the day than to report before 5 a.m. in Mareeba for a hot-air balloon ride over the Cairns Highlands. Folks will tell you that watching the massive balloons inflate is definitely part of the experience, but with the sun beginning to peek out and our adrenaline flowing in anticipation, it instead felt slow and irksome. It took climbing into the basket and floating gently several hundred feet above the remnants of fog clinging to the tablelands to encourage the mix of excitement and relaxation we sought. Ballooning is, of course, about the scenery, so even travelers who have floated over French chateaus in

the Loire Valley or lofted above the Arizona desert will find this a totally different ride. Peering over the reinforced wicker basket to watch kangaroos hopping across the fields jolts you into remembering you’re not in Kansas anymore. And remember, what goes up must come down – and then help the crew stuff hundreds of thousands of yards of balloon back into the basket for transport. They’ll feed you a hearty meatand-eggs breakfast in exchange for the assistance – oh, and for that tour fee you paid up front as well. Plunging down grade three white-water rapids ranked next on our fast-track exploration list. Warning: Choose your vendor carefully, lest you, too, find yourself hiking through a dense rainforest carrying your rubber two-man kayak and acquiring leeches along the way. At least you hope that’s as wild as it gets – guides love to spend the hike time to the Russell River launching point plying their group with stories of Australia’s cassowary bird, the avian creature powerful enough to frighten American and Australian troops during World War II. Stumble upon one of 83

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these flightless animals, known to hang out in northern climes, and it’s likely to attack with its 5-inch-long razorsharp claws. These weapons earned the cranky creature its infamous listing in The Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s most dangerous bird.

Aussies have insurance rules they must follow like anyone else in the world, so children under the age of 13 typically are out of luck with the white-water rafting option. Horseback riding, however, offers the perfect alternative for younger tykes. The terrain varies, and depending on the stable you choose, you can either wind through mountainous trails or run along the shore, splashing in the waves with your new equine buddy. Some tour operators will gladly guide you through

Photos courtesy of The Kuranda Scenic Railway

On the upside, such a trek on the uptake makes a plunge down a river seem rather tame, so take this gamble and spend the day rafting if anyone in your crowd is feeling chicken of the sea.

the rainforest, where horses stand a better chance of running from a cassowary than humans do. Do listen carefully to the guide’s instructions, however, as he or she will point out poisonous flora to avoid rubbing up against during your half-day ride. Most stables allow visitors to take a stab at cantering or even galloping should your mood and the topography

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Photos courtesy of Cairns City Council

cooperate. If you’re truly broken into the saddle, consider carving out two days for a genuine camp-out, complete with sleeping on the ground in a swag (translation: sleeping bag) and boiling your billy (ahem, making a cup of coffee) over an open fire the next morning.

Of course, the more permanent shops also dangle a wealth of things to stimulate the eyes. Opals hold court at every jewelry counter in Cairns, so take your time selecting the design that best expresses your personality. Owners are typically more than happy to explain the variety of pearls on display as well.

No matter how long you ride, stable owners are eager to ply you with a copious barbeque lunch, and they promise to cook the burgers just the way you request. Understand, though, that if you give them free rein, they’ll do it up Australian style and slap a beet between your beef and bun. Guides are usually also willing to give you a crack at roping tricks and boomerang tosses. (Don’t let their laughter fool you – a majority of tourists don’t get the hang of it during their stay.)

By far, the most unique item to try is Australia’s didgeridoo, a wind instrument from which natives can coax a tune in any key from D to F sharp. Our own musical attempts, on the other hand, yielded nothing more than blaring, what-key-was-that? Bronx cheers. The ornate and intricate Aboriginal artwork alone make these prize possessions worth shipping back home, however, they also make excellent props for the kids’ show-and-tell sessions down the road.

Cool Down When traveling in a group, adventure lies around every corner, even if you’re simply ambling down the sidewalk for a few blocks to grab an ice cream bar. Cairns’ colorful Esplanade Markets, held every Saturday near the lagoon, hold a treasure trove of secrets to uncover. Here, a few hundred feet means the difference between stopping to listen to a local band or giving in to the temptation for an airbrush tattoo or a massage to erase the horseback-riding kinks.

If walking without commercial temptation suits you best, head for the Cairns Foreshore Promenade at the Playground on the Minnie Street corner of the Esplanade. Here you may take advantage of a boardwalk suspended over the mudflats. Pedestrians use this paved runway as their spot for bird-watching as they meander toward the swimming lagoon and wharfs at Trinity Inlet. Interpretive modules along the way feature interactive touchscreens and give visitors an insight into the cultural and environmental heritage surrounding the section they are strolling. Be sure to stop at the Memorial Gardens and the 1956 Olympic Torch Bearers Monument.

Opposite: A great feat of modern engineering, the Kuranda Scenic Railway snakes through the dewy splendor of the Daintree Rainforest. Above: The Esplanade Markets is where retail and art meet. Here you’ll find a wide array of local produce and specialties (left) alongside whimsical, intriguing artworks like “The Herd” (pictured at right), representative of migrating whales. It is a favorite among tourists and inhabitants alike. 85

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against their toes instead. The color saturation of the sky, flora, sand, and water alone at this spot beside the Coral Sea is enough to lift the soul.

Photo courtesy of leonardo.com Photo courtesy of leonardo.com

And what Mother Nature and a good book can’t provide in the relaxation department, the Eastern-influenced spa a few hundred feet from the beach can. Voted this decade’s second best Overseas Hotel Spa in Australasia & South Pacific by Conde Nast Traveller’s readers, the Angsana Spa convinced the ladies in our party to try a tomato body wrap created to release the

Photo courtesy of Tourism Queensland

An abundance of colorful and whimsical art is positioned throughout Cairns. At the lagoon, a galvanized steel sculpture of fish posted high above the water’s surface glistens in the sun. Nearby, “The Herd,” granite sculptures that represent a whale herd heading out to sea, also has a fan base. Even the seats at the barbeque pits feature the mosaic tile work of artist Peter Thompson. Concrete sculptures of bright-hued fish serve as playground equipment at Muddy’s Regional Playground, and are surrounded by hand-carved totems done by budding artists.

We found that wandering several hundred feet outside the city limits takes you to the Kuranda Scenic Railway. This old-fashioned railway runs 34 kilometers (approximately 21 miles) outside Cairns to the Kuranda Village, which has transformed itself from the famous alternative village our parents knew to a retreat for sophisticated dining, exotic handcrafted art, Tjapukai (Djabugay) aboriginal shows, and nature attractions. Hiking the lush trail to Barron Falls is an absolute must during your visit. We were just as thrilled to walk the beach alongside our resort, letting the waves wash over our toes and erase the marks of our presence as we ventured forward. Frankly, sand is sand and oceans are oceans around the world, but still, it’s a rare location that can convince people to give up an afternoon or two of baking their bones in the sun to feel the healing relaxation of sand pushing

impurities from our skin. Guests today have a difficult choice among the ginseng baths, jasmine and frangipani salt scrubs, green tea revivals, and creamy banana wraps recently added to the services menu. While here, check out the range of massage techniques including Thai, Ayurvedic, Hawaiian, Balinese, and the spa’s own signature strokes to bring your body in line with your sense of adventure.

The Main Event Finally, the day dawned when it was time to head to Port Arthur to visit the operator we had chosen to take us out to the Great Barrier Reef. The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) has granted approximately 820 permits to tourism operators in 2007, which total 1,500 vessels and aircraft. Under

Left: Tjapukai Aboriginal ceremonies like the one seen here often draw curious tourists. In these shows, regularly occurring in the Esplanade Markets, you can gain great insight into the millennia-old traditions of the Australian natives. Right: The worldrenowned Angsana Spa can help iron out some of the kinks created by the many adventurous activities that Cairns has to offer.

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the watchful eye of the GBRMPA and its responsible reef practices rules, folks are welcome to fish, snorkel, scuba dive, yacht, indulge in motorized watersports, and collect shells. Because of the children in our party and our flight schedules, we passed over the more involved scuba lessons and tanks in favor of the more universal snorkeling option. We knew, while strapping on our goggles and sliding on the fins, that many experts consider this spot to be the most spectacular reef in the world, but as city dwellers, our practical knowledge of this new world we were about to peek into was shamefully lacking. It didn’t matter though. Australia’s underworld is as colorful as its topside – it was a mesmerizing glimpse at a tranquil world that exists far outside meetings, sales projection charts, and tee times. While Cairns lies more than a 20-hour plane ride away from our daily routine, the memories remain just a few hundred feet away.

Watch Your Ecological Step The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority encourages visitors to the Great Barrier Reef, and its rules are far from onerous: • Check that you are weighted correctly before diving and practice buoyancy control away from coral and reef animals. • If you are a beginner, practice snorkeling techniques away from coral and dive over sand until you have mastered buoyancy control. • Secure dragging diving equipment such as secondary regulators and gauges. • Do not rest or stand on coral. • Avoid hovering over or leaning on corals when taking underwater photographs. • If you need to rest while snorkeling, try to use rest stations where provided. • Avoid touching anything with your fins and try not to stir up sediment or disturb coral. • Observe animals rather than handle them. Handling some animals may be dangerous. • Do not chase or attempt to ride or grab free-swimming animals. Avoid blocking their path. • Do not touch, poke, or prod any plants or animals. • If you pick up anything underwater, living or dead, return it to the exact position where you found it. • All divers and snorkelers should be aware that it is a legal offence in the Marine Park to damage or remove coral.

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The Red Arrow Race An Italian Rite of Spring

By Jan Tegler

It

On a gorgeous morning last May, we turned a corner in the birthplace of this rally on its opening day and

Photos by Jan Tegler unless otherwise noted

takes 10 minutes to be romanced by it, three full days to understand it, and, for many, a lifetime to get it out of one’s system. This fabled event, this Italian rite of spring, overwhelms you – visually, aurally, and atmospherically. It is the famed Mille Miglia, and this May the event will celebrate its 80th anniversary. To describe it with words alone is impossible. One has to see it, breathe it, and live it in person to grasp it. Alas, the opportunity to do so is rare, so we’ll try to do the race justice and invite you to be “co-piloti” as we motor through the atmosphere, history, and charm that is the Mille Miglia.

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stepped into magic. All day under the brilliant Brescian sun, we waded through hundreds of automotive treasures undergoing scrutineering – the final inspection and approval process before the rally. Having a vague idea of what to expect at such an event doesn’t work here. It takes time to appreciate. But shortly before 9 p.m. that evening, comprehension met delight at one famous focal point – the historic wooden starting ramp in the Viale Venezia. We were witnessing the start of the 24th running of the modern Mille Miglia, a revival of the legendary race that has itself become a classic. At the start ramp before us, the co-president of Chopard, the Swiss luxury watch and jewelry manufacturer, blips the throttle of the silver 1955 Porsche 550 RS he is driving and powers to the top of the ramp. The number 1-9-5 stands out on a white disc on the Porsche’s door, indicating that his car is 195th in the starting order for the race. His name is Karl-Friedrich Scheufele, and he is teamed in this legendary competition with a legendary co-driver, ex-Formula One pilot and six-time winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Jacky Ickx. But Ickx is not present alongside Scheufele as the car crests the ramp. Flashbulbs explode when the Porsche comes to a halt. Every competitor crossing the stage this evening has received rapt attention, but none more so than the Swiss executive and his “guest” co-driver. Ickx has been replaced, for the time being, by Czech supermodel Eva Herzigova. Herzigova happens to be an ambassadress for Chopard, and the

opportunity to place her in the right seat, even if temporarily, garners such publicity that it cannot be passed up. It’s the power of the Mille Miglia. The race draws stars – both automobiles and people. After several minutes in a fishbowl of lights, paparazzi, and spectators, the race officials count down the pairing and give the signal to start. Herr Scheufele heeds the order and puts the 550 RS in gear. With a wave and a bright smile from Herzigova, the duo motor down the start ramp and blast off down a half-mile-long corridor of cheering Brescians into the night. This is but one of a thousand scenes that take place on the opening day of the race. A parade of the most delicious, significant, and priceless automobiles on the planet top the start ramp driven by a raft of notables from the worlds of racing, sports, entertainment, fashion, and business. The famous symbol that is the emblem of this spectacle, the Red Arrow or Freccia Rossa, points the way. The cars competing are those that would have raced in the original Mille Miglia between 1927 and 1957, and the fortunate, feverishly excited crews driving them stand on the shoulders of giants. To understand their passion for this classic, and to comprehend the Mille Miglia’s significance, requires us to look back, even as the 375 entrants put the first of 1,000 miles under their wheels in the Italian darkness.

Opposite: Chopard co-president KarlFriedrich Scheufele and Chopard ambassadress and top model Eva Herzigova sit atop the Mille Miglia’s famous start ramp in the Viale Venezia in a 1955 Porsche 550 RS. Right: A 1955 Maserati 150S stands in line for scrutineering on the morning of the opening stage of the Mille Miglia. Behind is another Maserati. 89

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1,000-mile Test

The driver of a 1928 Alfa Romeo 6C 1500 Sport Spider patiently waits to move forward in line for inspection during the opening morning of the Mille Miglia in Brescia, Italy. 90

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Translated from Italian, “Mille Miglia” simply means “1,000 Miles.” The distance was chosen by four men from the northern Italian city of Brescia. Counts Aymo Maggi and Franco Mazzotti along with Renzo Castagneto and Giovanni Canestrini came together in late 1926 to plan a race they hoped would capture the imagination of the Italian public. Maggi and Mazotti in particular were keen racers and, like fellow Brescians, considered their city the birthplace of Italian motorsport. They were outraged in 1922 when the Italian Grand Prix was moved from Brescia to Milan. They sought an event that would at once bring glory back to Brescia and test man and machine as no other contemporary competition had – a race that would improve the breed. The format would be different from the Grand Prix now hosted by their Milanese rivals. Taking inspiration from the city-to-city races popular at the turn of the century, they

opted for a road race that would cover much of the Italian peninsula – from Brescia to Rome and back. It would be run flat-out over a distance of 1,600 kilometers. The driver with the lowest elapsed time would be the victor. Recently returned from a trip to the United States, Mazzotti began brainstorming to devise the name of their new race. He realized that 1,600 kilometers was roughly equal to 1,000 miles – mille miglia. It rolled off the tongue neatly and the “Coppa Mille Miglia” was born. Seventy-seven racers rolled over the start ramp in the Viale Venezia on March 26, 1927, for the first Mille Miglia. Italy’s leading car makers were among them (Alfa Romeo, Fiat, and Brescia’s own O.M. – Officine Meccaniche). The race was won by Brescian locals Ferdinando “Nando” Minoia and co-driver Giuseppe Morandi in an O.M. Tipo 665 Superba, finishing early on the morning of the 27th in 21 hours, 48 minutes, and 48 seconds at an average speed of 48.27 mph. It was a popular victory, and the race was a rousing success. Continued on page 92

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Chasing The Mille Miglia

Stay, Sup, and See

One of the many magical things about the Mille Miglia is that for every lucky participant in the 1,000-mile race there are thousands more by the roadside witnessing the spectacle. The view from behind the wheel is incomparable but those who see the treasures of the Mille Miglia pass by en-masse gain a broader perspective. In fact, the race can be just as involving for spectators as it is for participants. But where to go? Where to watch? What to eat? The choices are overwhelming so we offer three options – Brescia, Ferrara, Bologna. Brescia A full day of wonders awaits anyone who travels to Brescia to see the start of the Mille Miglia. From the sound of exotic engines that awaken the town early in the morning to the stunning scene at the start ramp, there is no better place to feel the pulse of the race. Keep in mind, the attendance for the race here and elsewhere is such that booking well in advance is essential. Here are a few hotels and restaurants. Hotel Best Western Master, Via Luigi Apolloni 72 – 25128 Brescia. Located near the historical center of town, near the 16th century Castello, the hotel was refurbished in 2005 and features comfortable rooms. Average room rate – 142 euros, $206. Hotel Santellone Resort, Via del Santellone 116 – 25132 Brescia. Located near the city center, it combines the tranquility of an exclusive setting, an ancient abbey from near the year 1000, which has been restored to its former glory. Nice rooms and good service. Average room rate – 155 euros, $221. Una Hotel Brescia, Viale Europa 45 – 25133 Brescia. Located two kilometers from the city with welcoming and elegant interiors and reasonably priced. Average double room rate – 91 euros, $158.

Da Girelli Benedetto, Via Nazionale, 17 – 25070 Barghe (Brescia). Tel: 0365/84140. Type: Regional, Price: $$ ($moderate, $$-more expensive, $$$-expensive) Il Labirinto, Via Corsica, 224 – 25125 Brescia. Tel: 030/3541607. Type: Traditional, Price: $$$ Ristorante La Sosta, Via S. Martino della Battaglia, 20 – 25121 Brescia. Tel. 030/295603. Type: Lombardian Specials, Price: $$ Ferrara A position by the road in Ferrara late at night is worth its weight in gold. See the racing machines of the Mille arrive

with lights blazing. It’s a dramatic scene and a party. Here are some hotels and restaurants to try. Hotel Annunziata, Piazza Repubblica 5 – 44100 Ferrara. A well-designed hotel with 24 rooms not far from the city center. Average room rate. 187 euros, $254. Hotel San Paolo, Via Baluardi 9 – 44100 Ferrara. A clean comfortable place within easy walking distance of most points of interest. Average room rate – 95 euros, $129. Hotel Europa, Corso Giovecca 49 – 44100 Ferrara. Slightly small rooms but a good location downtown. Average room rate – 127 euros, $173.

L’Oca Giuliva, Via Boccanale di Santo Stefano 38 – 44100 Ferrara. Tel. 0532/207628 Type: Regional, Price: $$ Aldobrando, Corso Porta Mare 45 – 44100 Ferrara. Tel. 0532/752648. Type: Traditional, Price: $$ Quel Fantastico Giovedì, Via Castelnuovo 9 – 44100 Ferrara. Tel. 0532/760570. Type: Traditional, Price: $$ Bologna Situated just north of the Apennine Mountains, Bologna is a great place from which to launch for a quick trip down to the Passo Della Raticosa or the Passo Della Futa. Watch and listen as the cars charge over the mountains on the grueling final stage of the race. Savhotel Bologna, Via F. Parri 9 – 40128 Bologna. Located a few minutes from city center, modern, efficient and reasonable. Average room rate – 78 euros, $106. Grand Hotel Baglioni, Via Indipendenzia 8 – 40121 Bologna. A five star, top class hotel, overlooking Via Indipendenzia, a stone’s throw from the Piazza Maggiore. Average room rate – 304 euros, $414. Holiday Inn Bologna - Via Emilia, Via Marco Emilio Lepido 203/214 – 40132 Bologna. Located at the entrance of Bologna near the A1 Autostrada del Sole and the city ring road. Average room rate – 250 euros ($340) for double room.

Diana, Via Indipendenza 24 – 40121 Bologna. Tel: 051/231302. Type: Bolognese Cuisine, Price: $$ Pappagallo, Piazza della Mercanzia 3 – 40125 Bologna. Tel: 051/232807. Type: Authentic Italian, Price: $$ Trattoria Fantoni, Via del Pratello 11a – 40122 Bologna. Tel: 051/236358. Type: Varied Italian, Price: $ 91

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The Mille grew over the next 30 years far beyond what its founders imagined. A long list of famous racing drivers from Nuvolari and Ascari to Fangio and Moss competed. Every year more automotive manufacturers and component makers put their innovations to the test, honing their machines and devices in the Mille Miglia. Among the advancements the Mille Miglia spurred were improvements in carburetion, fuel consumption, ignition, spark plugs, starter motors, headlights, brakes, windshield wipers, and, with the 1955 race, the debut of fuel injection. These enhancements, developed and tested on the racing machines taking part in the Red Ar-

row Race, soon made their way to mass-production vehicles. As none other than Enzo Ferrari noted, we have the Mille Miglia to thank for the class of sports touring cars known as “Gran Tourismo” or GT cars. The stir caused in Italy by the new long-distance contest cannot be overstated. In the prewar and immediate postwar eras, the race was an expression of freedom and glamour during a time of political oppression and depressed economics. Before television existed in any meaningful way, the Mille Miglia was the only sporting event that could actually be seen by a significant portion of Italy’s population. Towns vied for the opportunity of having the race pass through their centers. The thousands of spectators who lined the incomplete network of poorly maintained dirt roads over which the competition first ran saw their national transportation system improve as the government and municipalities paved existing paths and actually created new roads specifically for the Freccia Rossa. The Mille Miglia was a colorful diversion, an entertainment for the average Italian struggling to make ends meet, and it captured their imagination. Brescians gathered in the center of town once the racers roared off, waiting for news. Large notice boards gave updates on the competitors as telegrams arrived and the occasional

phone call came from out along the course. Speculation ran rampant as fans tried to envision what was taking place. While the vast majority could only dream of what was happening, it was a vivid and often dangerous adventure for those taking part. The rapid rise in the popularity of the Mille Miglia was matched only by the pace of development of the machines entered in the contest. As speeds and the number of contestants increased, so too did the crowds surging along the highways. Securing 1,000 miles of racecourse over public roads would be a considerable challenge today. At a time when the resources available to

undertake such an effort were all but non-existent and when safety was largely an afterthought, it was inevitable that sooner or later trouble would result. The first tragedy to visit the Mille Miglia occurred in 1939 when a Lancia careened out of control in Bologna, killing 10 spectators, including seven children. The next year the 1,000-mile race was banned and a truncated nine-lap competition (the Gran Premio di Brescia) over a 104mile course was run. Conflict overtook Italy and the rest of Europe for the next five years, and it wasn’t until 1947 that the Mille Miglia resumed. As before, it was a flat-out competition. But in the wake of technological leaps brought about by World War II, speeds reached new heights. In 1955, famed British driver Stirling Moss paired with motoring journalist Denis Jenkinson in one of three incredible new 300 SLRs entered by Mercedes. Well over 5 million spectators saw “Moss and Jenks” scorch the roads of the Mille Miglia, finishing the race in 10 hours, 7 minutes, 48 seconds at an amazing average speed of 98 mph, the all-time record. Moss credited Jenkinson with their success, the latter having devised a system of pace notes via symbols written on a roll of paper wound between two rollers in an aluminum box. Jenkinson’s notes, made during practice runs before the race, enabled the duo to negotiate blind corners, dangerous bumps, and

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series of bends at maximum speed. Modern versions of the system pioneered by Jenks are still in use today by teams in the World Rally Championship. Impressive as the 1955 record was, the 160 mph speeds achieved by the top racers were harrowing. In 1957, one team and 10 spectators would perish when a Ferrari 290S careened into a crowd in the town of Guidizzolo at 180 mph. It was the end for the Red Arrow Race. The Italian government put a stop to racing on public roads. Though modified versions of the classic were tried in 1958, 1959, and 1960, the flat-out 1,000mile test was finished.

Revival

Left to right across spread: The special hand controls fitted to the cockpit of the 1957 BMW 507 driven by racing legend Alex Zanardi. The neatly packaged straight-six cylinder engine of a Jaguar D-Type. The emblem of the Red Arrow Race is everywhere, even on the helmets of the competitors. The business end of a 1951 Ferrari 212 Berlinetta. The extremely rare 1927 BNC 527 Monza of the Italian team of Bonizolli and Bonizolli. The fluted exhaust of a 1935 Aston Martin Ulster driven by South Carolinian Dick Schultze.

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Down the start ramp and through a half-mile-long corridor of cheering fans, cars #1 through #375 roar into the darkness. The festivities at the start last more than three hours. It’s a nationally televised spectacle, a night out for local Brescians and for the thousands of automotive enthusiasts who come from around the world to Brescia to witness the finest rolling collection of cars on the planet spring into action. The cheering doesn’t stop once we leave Brescia, however. Out on the roads, thousands more stand in the darkness, straining to see the classics flash past, headlamps ablaze. The towns of Bussolengo, Verona, and Ostiglia are transited before the first stage ends in Ferrara late that night. In each municipality, waves of people come out to see the priceless parade. The Mille Miglia was sorely missed by Italians after its demise. Brescians in particular lamented its absence from their yearly calendar. “The most beautiful race in the world,” as it was often referred to, had become a rite of spring and a claim to fame for the northern Italian city. In 1977, the Automobile Club of Brescia decided a commemoration celebrating the 50th anniversary of the race was in order. Over the next five years, a small group of Brescians planned a revival of the Red Arrow

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Race. The revival Mille Miglia would honor the original, running from Brescia to Rome and back over public roads. But the nature of the competition would be different. The new race would be a “regularity test.” Contested over three stages (Brescia to Ferrara, Ferrara to Rome, Rome to Brescia), the modern event is a timespeed-distance rally. Competitors must complete each stage as a whole as well as regularity tests (covering a short specified distance in a specified time, for example) embedded in the stages in targeted times, governed by the class in which their car races. The closer a competitor comes to matching the targeted times, the more points are accumulated. The overall winner is the team with the fewest deviations in time and therefore the highest number of points. Navigation is the second part of the challenge. Competitors receive “roadbooks” prior to each stage. The volumes contain diagrams, illustrated by rudimentary direction markings, symbols, place names, the occasional photograph, and distance indicators marking the distance between diagrams and the total distance covered at any point on a stage. Racers who’ve done the Mille Miglia before may be familiar with some of the routes, but changes are made from year to year, so good navigation is crucial for achieving target times. For those new to the event it’s all very confusing, but through trial and error and with help from fellow participants, even first-timers can find the finish line. More than 150 classics lined up for the start of the first revival in 1982. The new version was open to automobiles crafted between 1927 and 1957, the period of the original Mille Miglia and one of the greatest eras of

automotive history. Many were presented by manufacturers who had participated in the original race. Famous drivers, celebrities, and journalists from all over Europe converged on Brescia. The event was a great success, capturing the spirit of the original and the imagination of a new generation of enthusiasts. In 1987 it became a yearly ritual once again. Twenty years later, it is more stunning than ever, the finest vintage car rally in the world. Today, the Mille Miglia is supremely select. Participation is limited to 375 entrants, but hundreds more apply annually to be “invited” to race. Only the finest, most relevant machines are accepted. Entry fees are high, and the cost and effort required to participate are considerable, but the experience more than rewards competitors. Once the Freccia Rossa virus is caught, many participants cannot resist racing year after year. International participants are among them. The majority of the racers are Italian, but entrants from across Europe, North and South America, and Asia are present in abundance. In 2006, 28 American teams entered. We came across South Carolinian Dick Schultze at the wheel of his rakish 1935 Aston Martin Ulster (one of only 20 existing) out on the road to Rome. Joined by first-timer Gordon Gale, the pair were soaking up the experience at speed. It was Schultze’s fifth appearance in the Red Arrow Race, and he explained what draws him back. “We love it! The energy of the crowds and the enthusiasm is infectious. For enthusiasts, no other place in the world has this kind of collection out on the roads. We have no chance of winning, but we’re not in it for that.

Left: The Mille Miglia was contested by rakish sports cars and more humble coupes and sedans alike. Here, a 1948 Fiat 1100 S MM crouches on the cobblestones of Brescia. Right: Members of the Automobile Club of Brescia, among the most traditional participants in the race, make sure their papers and car, a 1935 Singer Le Mans, are in order.

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Schultze’s approach to the Mille Miglia is shared by many fellow racers. In fact, the race has been humorously referred to as a kind of “food and wine tour.” The Italian countryside is so lovely and the national fare so delicious, who could blame anyone for taking this approach? To be sure, however, one must drive rather rapidly and almost constantly to be classified at the end of each day’s stage. It’s the kind of challenge, particularly in these vintage cars, that gives one an appreciation for how skilled the racing drivers of the past must have been. Nevertheless, it is exhilarating for those who take a relaxed approach or the experienced Mille Miglia participants who treat the race seriously, practicing for months in advance, learning every nuance of the regularity tests.

In fabulous Rome, outside our hotel, we came across a gorgeous BMW 507. But it was no ordinary 507. The normal steering wheel was missing, replaced by a modern racing yoke with special controls. Then we glanced at the pilots’ names on the front fender – “Marco Saltalamacchia and Alessandro Zanardi.” “Alex” Zanardi, as he is known in the United States, is one of the world’s most famous racing drivers. A champion in America in the CART Indycar series and an ex-Formula One driver, Zanardi now competes with BMW in the World Touring Car Championship, driving a BMW 3-Series racecar modified with special hand controls for throttle, brakes, and gearchange. Critically injured in an Indycar race in Germany in 2001, Zanardi lost both legs but has rebounded to race again professionally. In 2005, he was a co-driver in his first Mille Miglia. Last year he piloted the 507, causing a sensation everywhere the race went. The adoring crowds we waded through in his presence attested to the high regard in which this national hero is held.

The dash between towns and cities with names like Ravenna, San Marino, Leonessa, Siena, Firenze, Bologna, Modena, and Cremona is a sensual feast, feeling the speed of one’s own machine and watching other precious pieces of history working, being driven as they were meant to be driven through corners, down long, flowing straights, and up mountain switchbacks. In the towns, every car is a wonder and local officials and residents alike fawn over the participants. The attention is flattering, imbuing each racer with the feeling of celebrity – that is until a real star is spotted.

The team of Giuliano Cane and his wife, Lucia Galliani, triumphed for the ninth time, winning overall in their 1938 BMW 328 MM. We cruised to a finishing place much, much further back, but the experience of the Mille Miglia – the sights, sounds, and fellowship – were our reward. It is an unforgettable experience. The Freccia Rossa virus has infected us, and with luck we’ll be back this May to enjoy this Italian rite of spring. Even if you attend simply as a spectator, you will be infected too. Think about it. All signs point to the Red Arrow Race.

We don’t even carry stopwatches. We follow the guidebook and the crowd. The competitors are very congenial, and we’re careful to stay out of the way of those that are clearly trying to engage in the regularity tests.”

The husband and wife team of Giuliano Cane and Lucia Galiani won the 2006 Mille Miglia. It was their ninth victory, marking them as one of the most successful teams in Mille Miglia history.

Photo courtesy of Mille Miglia Press Office

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Photo courtesy of Tucker’s Point Club

Above: The Beach Club at Tucker’s Point in Bermuda. Fractional owners at this property automatically become members of the Beach Club. Left: Bachelor Gulch, a Ritz-Carlton Private Residence Club on Beaver Creek Mountain in Colorado.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Club

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Own a Slice of Ideal Vacation Fractional Ownership of Luxury Vacation Residences By Vera Marie Badertscher

P

icture yourself returning to your ski-in condo in Colorado as the snow gently begins to fall, or shaking the water off your wet suit after scuba diving in the Caribbean. You turn to your companion and say, “If we bought a house here, we could spend endless amounts of time in the place we love most.” If we had a soundtrack, at this point the background music would screech and jump as someone turned the power off. The reality of secondhome ownership may not quite live up to the dream. In fact, people with vacation homes average fewer than five weeks a year of usage, according to Richard Ragatz, head of Ragatz Associates, who specializes in vacation-home research. Yet the responsibilities continue all year. People who want a special place to vacation with their family or friends in a highly desirable vacation spot, but do not want the burden of year-round ownership,

have spurred the growth of a new concept – fractional ownership of luxury vacation residences. What are fractionals? What should you consider when purchasing one? We talked to several experts and owners to find some answers and to bring you examples from luxurious apartments to trophy mansions, many with 24-hour pampering by attentive staff.

Definitions Fractional Real Estate. Private Residence Clubs. Destination Clubs. Fractional Estate Ownership Clubs™. For an industry that is only about 12 years old, fractional ownership has spawned a lot of terminology. Basically, fractional ownership covers a deeded portion (commonly 1/12, but ranging from 1/2 to 1/24) of any type of residence. Owners can use a certain number of days each year, and in most cases can swap for other properties developed by the same company. 99

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Some come with additional features like country club membership or a yacht. The fractional owner can sell or pass on his deed in his estate. The deed differentiates fractional ownership from the older concept of timeshares or the luxury Destination Clubs, which sell portions of time rather than property. In addition to the purchase price, owners pay an assessment to cover maintenance and management as in any homeowner’s association.

The infinity pool at Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas. Owners at Capella Pedregal receive personalized service from attentive staff.

In the early ‘90s, developers first planned fractional sales at the Deer Valley Club in Utah and Franz Klammer Lodge in Colorado. David Disick and his partners opened the ski resort Franz Klammer Lodge in Telluride in 1996. Fairmont Resorts now operates the lodge. Twelve years ago, while working on the project, Disick coined a phrase to explain what he was doing: “You can have the same realistic use you would make of a comparable quality whole-ownership home for a fraction of the price, plus five-star services and amenities.” As a measure of the concept’s success, a report issued in March 2007 by Ragatz Associates says, “It is estimated that total sales volume in the shared-ownership

resort industry in 2006 was $2.1 billion.” Ragatz limited this report to North American, Caribbean, and Mexican sales. The report adds, “It is estimated that 40,000 households have purchased shared-ownership resort real estate. This represents about one percent of all households in the U.S. with incomes over $200,000 (the assumed income-eligibility at this time).” It indicates that the industry will continue to grow. The developers are responding to an enthusiastic market. Ragatz, founder of the Eugene, Oregon-based research company, says that, “In measuring satisfaction ratio, we have found it to be extremely high – 95 percent in the five major Private Residence Clubs.” Although most Private Residence Clubs make exchanges available at other properties in their chain, Jamie Cheng, a founder of the luxury buyers’ guide Helium Report (www.heliumreport.com) says, “The fundamental difference is you make that decision [to buy a fractional] because you love that [specific] place and you want to travel there most often.“ Allan Hurwitz, reached at his vacation home in Aspen Highlands, personifies Cheng’s definition. He describes Continued on page 104

Photo courtesy of Capella Pedregal

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“I don’t believe in timeshares,” Hurwitz, a real estate investor, says. “They aren’t a good investment in any way, shape, or form. And I didn’t want to buy a full-time condo. I did not want to spend that kind of money and I did not want to be obligated to be here that long. So this had a definite attraction,” he says. “Since then I think it is one of the better things I’ve done in my life.” Sherman Potvin, one of the pioneers in the business, now consults with developers and buyers and runs the Web site Luxury Fractional Guide (lfguide.com). He illustrates why fractional ownership has become one of the fastest-growing segments of real estate with a story from his early days as a salesman. “A couple owned a ski-in, ski-out home and Ritz-Carlton was building their sales office at Beaver Creek. That couple came in with their three boys and said, ‘I understand you are building a fractional?’ ‘We are but we’re not ready,’ said the salesperson. ‘Well, I want to leave our name because we want to purchase two fractions. We own a home here. We have it for sale. It is costing us nearly $10,000 a year to own, and we can come out only two weeks a year or three.’” “So they sold,” says Potvin, “for $5.5 million. They made $3-4 million. They paid $650,000 for two

fractions at Beaver Creek (a Ritz-Carlton Private Residence Club). They took $4 million of their money and put it in investments.”

Photos courtesy of Fairmont Heritage Place Franz Klammer Lodge

himself as a nester. A passionate skier, for 30 years he went to the same Austrian resort, before he started vacationing in Aspen. He and his wife and two children rented rooms at the Little Nell Hotel. It became very expensive to rent two or three hotel rooms every year, so when Ritz-Carlton opened Aspen Highlands, a Private Residence Club, he and his wife considered the option of fractional real estate.

For some people, the question “why buy a fractional?” comes down to an alternative to pricey hotel rooms. Ownership of property appeals to those who like the idea of possible appreciation of value and the ability to sell it if their lifestyle changes. Some, as in Potvin’s example, are looking for an alternative to owning an entire second home. And Cheng points out that a fractional allows you to live part-time in a place that might be unattainable otherwise. “These are very unique properties in popular places. How many places can you still build in Aspen?” he says.

Comparing the Vacation Options Private Residence Clubs Many Private Residence Clubs (PRCs) are co-located with luxury hotels. Four Seasons was the first major brand hotel to open a Private Residence Club, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They since have opened in Scottsdale, Arizona, and Costa Rica. Ritz-Carlton was second with St. Regis in Aspen and Manhattan soon after. Now Fairmont, Hyatt, Westin, and venerable resorts like Hilton Head and Homestead have joined the trend. Their operating models are similar. Beth Ridenour of Ritz-Carlton (ritzcarltonresidences.com) says her company, which opened their first PRC in Aspen in 2001, now runs four Residence Clubs, with 282 separate residences for the 3,000 people who own existing properties or fractions of coming developments. They will

This page: The Franz Klammer Lodge, opened in 1996 in Telluride, Colorado, was one of the first fractional offerings. The Lodge’s Himmel Spa Suite (below left) and the Club Room (below right) are pictured here. Opposite top: The Ritz-Carlton Club, Aspen Highlands. Opposite bottom: The Ritz-Carlton Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter in Florida.

Continued on page 107

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OWNER SALES Speaking of his Luxury Fractionals Guide Web site (www.lfguide.com), Sherman Potvin says, “We get an average of 8,000 new people to our Web site every month, and 67 percent of those, the first button they push is the private home button.” Overwhelmed by the inquires on the Web, he wrote a book, Fractionalize to Maximize: Dividing Your Vacation Home Into Profit. He says, “All the data shows that 81 percent of the vacation-home owners use their homes only three weeks a year. The rest of the time they try to rent it or it sits there and it drives them crazy.” Additionally, when the market is soft, this enables people to make money from their investment.

DESTINATION CLUBS Destination Clubs ask for a deposit, starting around $30,000, plus yearly five-figure annual dues of several thousand dollars. You get no deed, and only the developer can resell the property. Generally, you are promised an 80 percent to 90 percent refund if you want to leave, but in most cases, not until three new members sign on. All provide luxurious residences and services and multiple locations. Helium Report lists 25 Destination Clubs, four in the ultra-luxury category, with deposits of $550,000 to $3 million. Of the luxury category ($200,000 to $500,000), Exclusive Resorts is the largest, with 300 homes in 35 locations.

([SHULHQFH WKHGLIIHUHQFH From the secluded, luxurious, and spacious hillside villas with private sea-view terraces and plunge pools to the beach front activities, the amenities and services of this

Photos courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Club

exceptional St. Lucia resort will make

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Portofino, a slightly smaller organization, was one of the first to offer Destination Club vacations. They offer what President Rance Rogers describes as 31 second homes instead of one, without the burden of maintenance. Like most Destination Clubs, Portofino makes available a variety of places such as New York City, Scottsdale, London, Venice, Florence, Florida, Mexico, or Hawaii, with only a handful of homes in each. “For every seven full members, we buy another property.” The 2007 Ragatz report says, “Approximately 5,000 members are in the 21 (Destination) clubs.”

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Photo courtesy of Tucker’s Point Club

The Tucker’s Point Golf Club House in Bermuda. Owners at Tucker’s Point gain membership at the Golf Club, Beach Club, and Tennis Club.

be opening five more by 2009, including their first urban offering, in San Francisco, before the end of 2007. Most of their residences offer 2,000-3,000 square feet with two-three bedrooms. The majority of the RitzCarlton properties are 1/12 interest, but the number of days may vary depending on location from 21 days to 28 days. For instance, an owner at Aspen of a 28day share gets seven days in the summer, 14 days in the winter, or vice versa. These days are pre-scheduled and the weeks available shift by one week each year so that all owners get a chance at the highly desirable weeks. Plus member/owners can use seven “shoulder” days any time there is space available at any of the RitzCarlton clubs in the world. Owner Hurwitz says, “Last year, when we left here, we went to St. Thomas and we loved it. We could not get back in this year. … And sometimes, the times are just lost – I haven’t used it all.”

Tucker’s Point in Bermuda demonstrates another model of PRC. Although it is a stand-alone club, it allies itself to others through The Elite Alliance, an agency that links fractionals so that members of one can have reciprocal rights in others. For Jason Bruhl, an American living in Great Britain, that right is just “icing on the cake.” He may visit the offerings in Florence or at a ski resort in the future, but for now his family enjoys the activities in Bermuda. The more than 50 residents of Tucker’s Point homes automatically become members of the Golf Club, Tennis Club, and the Beach Club. At the top of the market, David Disick’s first Chateaux Society (www.chateauxsociety.com) offering in Vail, Colorado, offers Chateau Faucon, a trophy home of 7,128 square feet. He says that owners will soon be “chateau hopping to St. Andrews in Scotland, Lake Tahoe, Hawaii, and other top locations, where they will own part of $6-8 million estates.” Timeshares

Since owners pay a hefty annual homeowner’s fee for maintenance, many like to rent out their extra days, using an outside agency, in order to recoup some of their costs.

Although the laws that regulate developers are still the old timeshare laws, fractionals are not timeshares, which tend to attract mid-market rather than high-end buyers. 107

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Because of the increased level of service, some people refer to them as â&#x20AC;&#x153;timeshares on steroids.â&#x20AC;? When confronted with the question, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Arenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t they all just timeshares?â&#x20AC;? Disick says, â&#x20AC;&#x153;A Quality Inn is a hotel. A Ritz-Carlton is a hotel. The fact they are both hotels is irrelevant. The question is, what is the qualitative level of the physical facility and the service?â&#x20AC;? Fractional real estate may fall under the legal term â&#x20AC;&#x153;timeshare,â&#x20AC;? but there remains a world of difference. Destination Clubs Fractionals also differ from Destination Clubs, (see sidebar) which provide an arrangement more like a country club and the ability to visit multiple destinations around the world. Membership in a Destination

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Club, however, does not come with a deed. A study by PricewaterhouseCoopers, done for Ritz-Carlton, found that, of the high income people they surveyed, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Only seven percent prefer to travel to the same destination, while one in five prefer to travel to new destinations for their vacation experience.â&#x20AC;? Those vacationers with itchy feet may be better suited to the Destination Club. Helium Reportâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Cheng cautions that all definitions are dicey. â&#x20AC;&#x153;By and large, in our belief, Destination Clubs are a membership-based program,â&#x20AC;? he says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;They are targeting consumers who want multiple bedrooms in multiple destinations, whereas a Private Residence Club focuses on a single destination and generally offers smaller units. It is much more of a fractional ownership, or real estate transaction.â&#x20AC;? He admits that consumers may get confused because there are no fixed parameters in this business. Rather than â&#x20AC;&#x153;getting hung up on definitions, pick what fits you,â&#x20AC;? Cheng advises.

Left: Floridaâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s RitzCarlton Golf Club & Spa, Jupiter, boasts a Jack Nicklaus Signature Course. Right: Club Homes at the Jupiter fractional offering include amenities such as lanais with private whirlpools and summer kitchens.

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Cheng does not see the two forms of vacationing as competitive, because some people opt for the best of both worlds, he says. “Quite often our readers belong to a Destination Club and then own a fraction of a Private Residence Club.” Independent Fractionals Although most fractionals are part of Private Residence Clubs, some stand independently and come with all the services, like Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas, Tucker’s Point in Bermuda, and myriad others.

Photos courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Club

Ragatz Associates divides the pie differently, calling anything selling for less than $1,000 per square foot “fractional interest” and those selling for more than $1,000 per square foot “Private Residence Clubs.”

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Fractional ownership is an increasingly popular real estate option, and more offerings are appearing in desirable locations. For instance, the Ritz-Carlton Club has properties in the continental United States, including Colorado’s Bachelor Gulch (left), as well as in the Caribbean (in St. Thomas, pictured at right) and Hawaii.

San Francisco attorney Andy Sirkin represents fractional interest properties around the globe. He says, “The most valuable benefits of ownership are right to use and right to earn rental income.” Sirkin does not stress services because his properties, although many are luxurious and located in spectacular locations, are self-governed by the owners, and do not come with a promise of extra service. The advantages to owners, Sirkin feels, include cost and control. His model costs less for acquisition and continuing costs, and the owners have complete control over management, as opposed to handing it over to the developer.

Locations The fractional ownership concept has roots in Colorado, which is still a hotbed of fractional development and conversion. For instance, Hyatt and St. Regis and the Little Nell Hotel are all developing PRCs in downtown Aspen. Both hotels and private builders are active

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Fractional ownership offers a solution to those who want the luxury and relaxation of a vacation home without the headaches of maintaining a secondary residence.

in the Caribbean. Cheng says that the Dominican Republic is getting a lot of attention, and the Robb Report says, “Tucker’s Point Club brings an unparalleled standard of luxury to Bermuda.” Owner Jason Bruhl picked Bermuda for ease of travel from England as well as the United States. Helium Report lists over 250 Private Residence Clubs around the world that they consider four- or five-star facilities, and Cheng believes the list is fast approaching 300. They list a few fractionals each in Great Britain, Italy, and Portugal.

Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton Club

Limited to North American sales alone, the March 2007 Ragatz report says, “Some 254 fractional interest projects and private residence clubs were identified in the survey, along with 21 destination clubs.” Disick says, “Hawaii is at the outset of the growth curve.” He also believes that St. Andrews in Scotland and locations in France will begin to draw attention. His company and many others are moving to urban locations, looking at London, New York, and San Francisco. Potvin points to an enormous number of fractionals under development in South Africa. His other predictions for hot spots include Costa Rica and Panama. “Panama is up and coming. Costa Rica has been for about five years. Americans historically don’t like to put their money into other countries,” he says, but developers have

found a way to make them more comfortable. “Now they have the opportunity to buy a peach of a house with everything taken care of in an LLC that they are familiar with. So it is a way to own real estate – have their cake and eat it too.”

Guide for Buying Potvin says, “I sell it [the concept of fractionals] as a lifestyle investment, not as an investment to make money, even though historically they do well. They have increased, I think, 5.5 percent a year. “People should really do their due diligence,” Potvin says. “There are fractionals selling from $50,000 to $2 million. In New York City, the St. Regis goes for $2.5 million. It is a question of where you want to be and what you can afford.” His three rules: • Make sure the developer has the wherewithal to build what he is promising. • Buy close to home. Ideally, you could purchase a fractional in your very favorite place near your primary home so that you could drive to it and take advantage of space available and of all the amenities that go along with these properties. • Look at the use plan. Be sure it is something you can live with, that it complements your lifestyle. Ragatz spells out pricing decisions. “In Private Residence Clubs, 50 percent of the sales value goes into land, infrastructure, construction, furnishings, financing; 20 percent into marketing and sales. The mark-up on total shares sold over purchase is between 1.5 and 2 times. Divide the sales price by the number of shares to get equitable share price.” Sirkin has a few more suggestions: • Add up the annual costs and divide by the number of days you get for per-night cost. • Find out if you have any control over increasing costs. • Are you free to rent out the home and control what rent is charged? • How easy is it to get a vacation somewhere else (as in reciprocal agreements)? Get tips from Sirkin’s and Potvin’s Web sites, www.andysirkin.com and www.lfguide.com. For complete lists, reviews, and additional products like private jets and yachts, www.heliumreport.com. 111

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FROM CONNOISSEUR TO VITICULTEUR By Craig Collins

Club Kenwood opens the door to serious Sonoma winemaking for the rest of us

All photos courtesy of the Kenwood Inn and Spa unless otherwise noted

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On

a clear day, from the Mountain Terraces Vineyard – with its 80 acres of vines planted on steep slopes of the Mayacamas Range, 1,800 feet above the floor of Sonoma Valley – you can see well beyond the rolling green panorama below, to where the Spanish Franciscans built their northernmost mission, the Bear Flag Republic was declared, and California’s wine industry was born. To the south, beyond the little cluster of buildings known as the town of Sonoma, beyond the old Northwestern Pacific tracks and the wetlands teeming with shorebirds, is the glittering expanse of San Pablo Bay, whose cool northerly breezes flow unobstructed to this elevation and moderate its climate.

Across the water loom the twin skylines of Oakland and San Francisco with their accompanying landmarks: the jagged needle of the Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower, the tapering spires of the Golden Gate and Bay Bridges. According to Dan Schaefer, Jr., whose family bought and planted Mountain Terraces nearly two decades ago, there isn’t much to see here on a cool summer morning, after the nightly fog has rolled in. “We’re above the marine layer here,” he says. “When you get up in the morning and look out the window, you’re looking down at a big white blanket of fog.”

The understated luxury of the Kenwood Inn and Spa is complemented by its richly-hued surroundings.

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If you’re a grape, life doesn’t get much better, even by Sonoma standards. The vineyard has an ideal southwestern exposure, exposing vines to the maximum amount of available sunlight; the gentle daily cycle of warming and cooling occurs on a mountainside containing several large pockets of rhyolite – one of California’s rarest and most prized wine-growing soils. “[Rhyolite] is a derivative of compressed volcanic ash,” says Erich Bradley, who, in addition to his job as winemaker at the historic Hop Kiln Winery in the nearby Russian River Valley, crafts a number of small-batch wines for Schaefer’s family label, Audelssa Estate Winery. “It’s a very light soil, very calcium-rich, and very unique for this area ... It’s pretty sparse in California. It’s very common in Bordeaux.” The white rhyolitic soils impart intense and distinctive flavors to grapes. “They tend to drive flavors more like pure red cherries to the Cabernet, for example, than the much darker cherries from the other soil we have, which is basalt,” says Bradley. “Basalt is a derivative of the lava itself, much more common to this area. It tends to drive more earthy flavors – starting off with a kind of roasted coffee, and then going toward mocha and even chocolate.”

Kenwood Inn and Spa’s millhouse is just one example of the picturesque sights to be found on the grounds at every turn.

Photo courtesy of Audelssa Estate Winery

According to Bradley, the varying soil profiles, along with the vineyard’s precipitous plunge through volcanic striations (it is a total of 1,200 feet from the ridgetop to the more sheltered vines below, which can amount to a temperature difference of 15 degrees Fahrenheit from top to bottom) give Mountain Terraces something like 20 or 30 different growing environments. The fruit produced here is rapidly becoming among the most coveted in California Wine Country. One of the many who have sought its fruit is Napa Valley winemaker and media-magnet Jayson Pahlmeyer, who uses it in his Bordeaux-style blends. Audelssa’s own Summit blend, which combines Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and Petit Verdot from every corner of Mountain Terraces, is at once ripe and earthy, exploding with lush cherry flavors, and finishing on a pleasant mineral note that reminds you where it came from. To make this kind of wine, from these kinds of grapes, has become the dream of many casual visitors to the Wine Country. Increasingly, as they’ve become more knowledgeable about what’s in the bottle, they’ve grown more curious about what goes on beyond the tasting room. What would it take for a beginner, armed with an abundance of

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The Mountain Terraces vineyard, perched atop the Sonoma Valley, consistently produces some of the most stylistically varied and universally acclaimed wine in the entire country.

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Everywhere you look at the Kenwood Inn and Spa, you will see the fruits of “attention to detail,” a phrase that elsewhere is often used but rarely practiced. Meticulously sourced to maintain authenticity, the accoutrements of the Kenwood Inn and Spa are every bit as integral to the “true connoisseur” experience as the vines and the grapes themselves.

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both capital and enthusiasm, to make such wine, from such grapes? “You don’t want to know,” says Schaefer – whose family didn’t bottle their first blend until 13 years after planting Mountain Terraces. “To open the door at this quality level – tough to do. You need a great site, lots of money, time, patience, and a supply of good luck.”

A Piece of the Rhyolite How do you make a million in the wine business? begins a joke popular among vintners. Start with two million. Among the many who actually pursue the dream of owning a little land, planting a few vines, and making their own wine, most end up simply taking a bath. All of which has given Schaefer, together with friend and partner David Di Loreto, a former aviator and maker of acclaimed red wines, an idea. Combined, they have spent decades in the vineyard and wine business, and have seen the best and worst of it. They’ve heard over and over again from visitors to the Wine Country just how much they are envied. They know better. “Almost every time I talk with someone visiting, I hear the same thing. They want a piece of the rock. But I’m telling you,” he laughs, “getting your piece can be very painful. You just don’t realize it until you’re about five years in.” Di Loreto, the managing partner of a group whose iconic Sonoma County assets include Hop Kiln Winery

and the Kenwood Inn and Spa, concurs. “We’ve been in this business for years. And we know the reality of the business is very different from the perception. The part that rings truest, the part that most people become enthralled with and seek, is the slice they see and know as the ‘vintner’s lifestyle.’” Together, Schaefer and Di Loreto have fine-tuned an experience that serves up this slice on a sterling platter: Club Kenwood. The benefits extended to Club Kenwood members offer the best of the vintner’s lifestyle to members, without all the worries. In a nutshell: For a buy-in less than the cost of a dilapidated Sonoma County fixer-upper on a postage-stamp lot, you can own part of a limited liability company and an interest in Mountain Terraces, one of Sonoma’s finest vineyards. You can blend and bottle your own private-label wine annually from Mountain Terraces grapes. You can spend a month every year in the Sonoma Valley. You can participate as much or as little as you want in tending the vines and in blending your cuvée. And the only bath you’ll take will be one of your own choosing – perhaps in a barrel of bubbling Cabernet extract, at the resort that Food and Wine magazine has proclaimed the best Wine Country retreat in all of California, and one of the 10 best in the world: the Kenwood Inn and Spa.

You’re Soaking In It Just off the Sonoma Highway, in the heart of the valley, the Kenwood Inn and Spa, opened years ago by original owner Terry Grimm as a quiet Tuscanstyle hermitage for the celebrity set, hasn’t changed

The Kenwood Inn and Spa’s exterior may appear quaintly rustic, but its amenities, such as pools, suites with wood-burning fireplaces, and a vinothérapie spa unique to the Americas, are anything but.

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much over the years. It’s small, intimate, and decidedly Old World in its approach to hospitality, with buildings of stucco and troweled concrete, stone courtyards draped with vines and palm fronds, and three separate hot pools available for a refreshing soak 24 hours a day. One of the pools is located inside a replica Tuscan millhouse, complete with a great churning waterwheel that feeds a koi pond. No matter where you are at the resort, it seems, the sound of trickling water follows you. Suite furnishings are at once elegant and ornate, each outfitted with a wood-burning fireplace and a portico that can be draped for privacy. In the dining room, which snugly embraces the open kitchen of chef Renzo Veronese, guests select from a small but meticulously crafted menu, each item thoughtfully matched with a glass from one of the region’s boutique wineries.

Tuscan style permeates everything at the Kenwood Inn and Spa, from the furniture to the highly regarded menu.

The Kenwood Inn’s defining characteristic, cultivated over the years by Grimm – also a partner in Club Kenwood – has been its deft balance between serious luxury and an idiosyncratic strain of Sonoman cheekiness and whimsy. It has remained a feisty bantamweight among lumbering Wine Country five-stars, most of which have swollen inexorably into glitzy, landlocked “cruise liners.” The Kenwood Inn, with just 36 rooms, is stubbornly cozy. Its quirky charm is writ small on its grounds: in the dawdling, serpentine stone pathways, reminiscent of an old Mediterranean village; in the rosemary and citrus

you can’t help brushing against as you walk past; in the inescapable odor of warm mineral vapors. The Vinotherapy Spa at Kenwood Inn, opened in 2003, is the only spa in the Americas to offer a line of treatments pioneered in Bordeaux, France, by Caudalíe – a company named after the French term for a wine’s staying power on the palate. According to company lore, the founders, a married vintner couple named Bertrand and Mathilde Thomas, of Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte vineyards, were leading a group tour that included a professor of pharmaceutics from Bordeaux University, who exclaimed over the antiaging properties contained in a mound of discarded grape seeds. The Thomases trademarked the term “vinothérapie,” worked with scientists to stabilize the polyphenol antioxidants contained within grapes, and introduced a line of grape- and vine-based skincare products. Their first Caudalíe Spa, located at Les Sources de Caudalíe Hotel in the heart of the Chateau Smith Haute Lafitte vineyards, was recognized by Condé Nast Traveller readers in 2004 as the “Best European Spa.” At the Kenwood Inn’s Vinotherapy Spa – one of only seven Caudalíe spas worldwide – guests can receive treatments in one of six rooms or atop the spa complex, in a golden-draped pavilion that overlooks the surrounding vineyards. Treatments include a 15-minute barrel bath – a bubbling soak in 123

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waters infused with oils and finely-crushed extracts from grape seeds, skins, stalks, and pulp – as well as the standard toning Sauvignon massage; a crushed Cabernet scrub; and the more elaborate half-day or full-day “rituals.” To Di Loreto – whose group recently purchased the Kenwood Inn and Spa from Grimm – the inn is the logical centerpiece for the Club Kenwood experience. “It has everything you could ever want,” he says. “The atmosphere, the infrastructure, the spa, the incredible food – it’s a great jumping-off point for the Club Kenwood experience.” Club Kenwood members will spend up to 14 nights a year at the inn, where they’ll be greeted and served by their own personal concierge and have access to a members-only lounge and services. Members will also be able to spend time atop the Mountain Terraces vineyard, at the estate’s luxury villas – now in the planning stages – which will be outfitted with outdoor living amenities, a hot tub, decks overlooking the valley, and a staff to serve owners’ needs. The villas are where members will receive their hands-on education in winemaking from Erich Bradley. Says Di Loreto: “One thing we want to emphasize and make absolutely clear is that this is not a timeshare type of arrangement. A select group of people will be purchasing an ownership interest in a special company, and will share the assets of that company exclusively with their fellow owners, which at this time will be a total of only 75.” In short, you’ll be free to live the vintner’s good life, minus all the risks, management challenges, and bureaucratic battles.

Whether you’re relaxing after a hard day of tending vines or continuing an uninterrupted spell of R&R, these generously appointed rooms are a welcome sight.

The Club Kenwood concept evolved from an idea developed by Schaefer and Grimm several years ago, “the Barrel Club,” in which Kenwood Inn visitors came to Mountain Terraces and made their own wine over a period of three years. According to Bradley, the people who come to Mountain Terraces all share a passion for wine, but the level of interest in the details of winemaking varies widely among them. “For some it’s really just a chance to be social, but for others, it’s almost like a spiritual experience,” he says. “Some really want to take some ownership of it, and that’s why they get up at four in the morning and run a Brix report, and help out on the sorting tables, or even pick. You can just see that in their minds they are imagining drinking this wine that’s being produced before their eyes, a decade down the line, and being able to look back, open a bottle, and enjoy the memory all over again.”

To learn more about Club Kenwood, contact: Club Kenwood, c/o Kenwood Inn and Spa, 10400 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA 95452. (800)353-6966. On the Web, go to www.clubkenwood.com. 125

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Crossing the void Millau Viaduct: more than a Bridge

By Zac Assemakis

Photograph: Action Library

First

of all, here are a few statistics for you. This is the Millau Viaduct that spans the valley of the River Tarn near Millau in southern France. It’s the tallest vehicular bridge in the world, with the summit of one pier rising 1,125 feet from the ground. This makes it even taller than the Eiffel Tower and just 125 feet shorter than the Empire State Building. The viaduct was designed by French bridge engineer Michel Virlogeux in collaboration with British architect Sir Norman Foster. The road weighs 36,000 tons, is one-and-a-half miles long, and took more than three years to complete. It opened in December 2004, cost 340 million euros, and is a modern engineering feat of which even Henry Royce would have been in awe.

An equally exceptional feat of engineering is the RollsRoyce Silver Cloud. When it was launched in 1955, the press declared that it was the “finest car in the world,” adding, “There is little doubt that these fine new cars will carry on the maker’s tradition and reputation.” Rolls-Royce was so confident in its product that the company’s advertising ran the slogan: “At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.” I wonder if the same is true at an altitude of 885 feet – the height of the road. The Millau Viaduct spans rocky, wild, and weatherbeaten terrain that experiences extreme changes in temperature between summer and winter, so much so that the bridge’s steel roadways expand

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Photograph: David Noble Pothography/Army

Opposite: Crossing the Millau Viaduct – perhaps behind the wheel of a Rolls-Royce – is an experience like no other. Below: The gigantic, impressive Millau Viaduct spans the valley of the River Tarn in France.

and contract by as much as 3 meters. Often only the tops of the concrete piers peak out above low-lying clouds. When Foster proposed the design for the bridge, he said that the experience should be like “flying by car.” As I descend the road to the start of the bridge, I can confirm that this is exactly what it feels like. The land starts to drop away and I can feel my hands tighten on the steering wheel, but after a short distance the fear subsides and the combination of bright blue sky, occasional wisps of cloud, and the incredible structure of the bridge turns the moment into a living, moving, and massive work of art, giving drivers a genuine feeling of elation.

For such a huge structure, the bridge is an elegant and subtle design. Throughout the course of the span, the road curves gently and drops slightly from one end to the other. The struts and piers, meanwhile, constantly frame a new piece of the landscape as you travel across the bridge. Even the 3-meter-high screens that protect the vehicles from crosswinds are transparent, so there is nothing about the bridge’s design that can spoil your flight. Just over a minute later, the crossing is complete. Looking back at the bridge, rather than driving on it, presents an even more spectacular view, but I can’t believe that our maiden flight in the Silver Cloud is over so quickly. Could I hear the clock? I forgot to listen. After all, time flies when you’re having fun. 127

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Magical, Mythical England Faith and legend abound in the British countryside By Laura Spinale

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Stonehenge, a symbol of mystery and power, is one of the world’s greatest wonders.

I

first passed through Bath on a wintry day 15 years ago, on a train rushing from … I can’t exactly remember. Spying a cluster of honey-hued Georgian buildings arising along the River Avon, I almost got off right there – I was in college, and isn’t that what college is for? Dumping itineraries? In my excitement to get to, probably, Salisbury, I instead turned my head, spotted a conductor, and asked, “What is this stop?” “Bath,” he said. Bath. I tucked the name away for future travel. If I had known then what I know now, I would have jumped. Bath and the Cotswolds, Glastonbury, and Salisbury form a type of mystical/religious triangle running through Gloucestershire and Somerset counties. For ages, the British monarch has held the title “Defender of the Faith,” faith in this instance defined as the Church of England. What is clear, though, traveling through this triangle, is that Britain is a land of diverse faiths, of ancient beliefs ranging from pagan to Christian. Consider the Romans who established the Bath hot springs in homage to the goddess Sulis Minerva; the

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Druid history, Jesus stories, and Arthurian legends that imbue Glastonbury; and the ancient wonders of Stonehenge. For millennia the region has drawn believers and mystics. Magical thinkers. The faithful. Such distinctions are hard to delineate here. What one woman – I’ll call her a mystic – told me on a recent trip keeps resounding in my head. “This,” she said “is a holy place.” I don’t know that I believe her. But I have always been struck by the confluence of beliefs merging in this small corner of southwest England. Why here? Certainly, Gloucestershire and Somerset are lands of gentle natural beauty – every image you’ve ever had of the British countryside can be found in this region, from ancient stone cottages to gently rolling farmland to the sheep grazing thereon. Still, it’s no more beautiful than the Greek isles, no more awe-inspiring than the Alps – Italian or Swiss. So why does this small region draw believers from Celtic to Christian? No one truly knows why. Some point to “lay lines” – lines of spiritual energy said to pass through certain points on the globe, including, as it turns out, Glastonbury. I give up puzzling, after a while, and just enjoy my trip.

Bath Checking into my Bath B&B, I tell the innkeeper about first passing through the region a decade and a half back, and sticking it on my travel “to do” list. “And I bet those 15 years passed by in a blink,” he said, smiling. The dissolution of the Soviet Union. Gulf Wars I and II. Princess Diana’s car crash. My mother’s death. 9/11.

Six jobs. A dozen boyfriends. No. But it’s easy to see how time means little in this Georgian city (labeled such because most of its construction took place between the reigns of Kings George I and George IV, from 1714 to 1830) about 100 miles west of London. So plentiful is its 17th century architecture (5,000 buildings here are deemed by the nation to be of architectural merit) and so lovingly maintained that the entire city has been placed on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) list of World Heritage sites. (It joins landmarks such as the Great Barrier Reef and the Statue of Liberty.) According to UNESCO, the World Heritage designation is reserved for “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity.” Just walking the city is a joy. Take in the Georgian architecture and the tawny limestone construction of many buildings. (The building material is more commonly known as “Bath stone.”) You’ll enjoy the city’s wide thoroughfares, steep streets, its walkways, and its weirs. Relax in the Parade Gardens, abutting the River Avon. Pulteney Bridge, straddling that river, is one of the last remaining bridges in the nation that actually has shops and cafés built upon it. Bath Abbey and the city center draw in shoppers and diners. Still, where most Bath travelers start is, well, the Roman Baths. Located in Bath are Britain’s only naturally occurring hot springs. In ancient times, the Celts believed the warm water was a healing gift from the gods, and developed a civilization around it. The Romans felt much the same way, and after overtaking the region in 43 A.D., they

The beautiful city of Bath is well-known for its classical Georgian architecture.

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Photo courtesy of www.thermaebathspa.com

developed the springs as a temple to the goddess Sulis Minerva. Visiting the Roman Baths today, you’ll see the Sacred Spring (still spouting nearly a quarter million gallons daily, at a temperature of 109.4 degrees Fahrenheit), along with the remains of the Roman Temple and bathhouse. Traipse over stone pathways dating back two millennia as you view one of only two truly classical temples remaining from Roman Britain.

Left: Thermae Bath Spa guests can relax in the rooftop or indoor pools, natural thermal baths, or steam rooms. Right: The Sacred Spring is situated at the heart of the Roman Baths.

to the public in 1900, its permanent exhibit spotlights the oil paintings of Gainsborough, Turner, Sickert, and other British favorites. Archetypically English, the gallery is a mélange of misty landscapes, hunting scenes, and brides on their deathbeds. Lovers of the written word should visit the Jane Austen Centre. The author of Pride and Prejudice spent most of her life here, and the Centre celebrates her work with reenactors’ depiction of Regency times. End your visit with a full English tea in the Centre’s Regency Tea Room.

The Sacred Spring is still the main attraction. Sitting beneath street level, and graced by the remains of a statuary depicting Roman gods and goddesses, this water-wonder smells vaguely of sulfur – its mineral content is high. Guides will beg you not to sip from the springs (purified spring water is available for tasting in the nearby Pump Room – which is also one of the region’s bestknown restaurants). Feeling incautious, I dip my hand in the springs, and let the water drip from my fingers onto my tongue.

Finally, since this city is known for its architecture, travelers should make the time to visit the Royal Crescent. Constructed between 1767 and 1774, this row of 30 townhouses was designed by the architect John Wood the Younger and built in a half-moon shape. Its curved façade is one of the most recognizable features of the city. Number 1 Royal Crescent is today a museum, furnished and decorated in the style of a wealthy 1700s family.

You can’t bathe in the springs anymore, but you may choose to consider your water adventures with a trip to the Thermae Bath Spa. Here, you can enjoy thermal baths, steam rooms, and a variety of spa treatments. Dry off long enough to take in the other attractions situated in Bath. These include the city center and a variety of museums.

Scattered north of Bath, in Gloucestershire, are a series of tiny hamlets known, collectively, as the Cotswolds (the name loosely translates into “sheep hills”). Braced on limestone knolls, these towns serve up some of the most sublime scenery in Britain. I’m not the only one to think this way. J.M. Barrie lived, and began writing Peter Pan, here. Today, the villages are perhaps best known to PBS fans, as continual backdrops to the Mystery series. You’ll find gently rolling hills, thatched cottages, and plenty of sheep. Stone walls – most erected in the 18th and 19th centuries – are notable because they were built without cement.

Its pinnacle towering above city center, Bath Abbey is a must-visit. While churches have stood on this site since 757 A.D., construction of the current church began around 1499. Today, it is a Gothic-style fantasy, replete with flying buttresses, soaring pinnacles, vaulted ceilings, and plenty of stained glass. Nearby, art lovers will find plenty to do. Start with the Victoria Art Gallery. Opened

The Cotswolds

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beer and fish and chips are always on the menu. Here’s a shorter itinerary. Many travelers start with Bourton-on-the-Water. This charming, but decidedly tourist-centric, village is often referred to as “The Venice of The Cotswolds”: The River Windrush runs through the town center, easily crossed via a series of short bridges. Among its shops, restaurants, and hostelries, you’ll find attractions such as Birdland Park and Gardens, the Cotswold Perfumery, and Model Village, a miniature replica of the entire town. Nearby, Bibury stands in contrast to Bourton-on-theWater’s relative bustle. Relish the quiet, interrupted only by the occasional bird chirp. I’ve taken a bus tour here, and we arrive in the middle of a gentle rain. My L.L. Bean “Fisherman’s Sweater” serves me in good stead, and I giggle when the tour guide apologizes for the weather. What’s a tour of rural England without the

Photo courtesy of www.tetburyonline.co.uk

Of all the Cotswolds, Tetbury sits closest to Bath. I explore it on my own, hopping a public bus. I’m in Tetbury in about half an hour but not before the helpful bus driver points out Prince Charles’ country estate – Highgrove – sitting on the outskirts of this town. In fact, Tetbury grew in popularity immediately after Charles and Diana moved into their country home after their wedding in 1981.

Photo courtesy of www.visitcheltenham.com

mandatory mist? It adds an air of authenticity to the town that William Morris once called “the most beautiful village in England.” Its atmosphere is the main draw. Gabled cottages, many dating from the 14th century and constructed of honey-colored stone, line the River Coln. (The village of Arlington sits immediately on the other side.) Ducks precede us on the walkway. While soaking up the atmosphere is probably the best thing to do in Bibury, you will find organized attractions. Visit Arlington Row, a series of weavers’ cottages dating from the 1500s; the Bibury Trout Farm; and the Church of St. Mary, known best for its stained glass. If you want to spend the night, check out The Swan Hotel. This quintessential Cotswolds hostelry serves up picturesque accommodations and log fires in the common rooms.

In Tetbury proper, attractions abound. Here, find a market house dating from the 1600s and hoisted by three rows of stone pillars. It is still used as a fresh market on Wednesdays. Antique shops and small pubs line High Street. The Parish Church of St. Mary the Virgin was constructed in 1781, and today gives visitors a great view of Georgian Gothic architecture. And it is here I learn why church steeples stand so high – to give wanderers directions home. Trod down Chipping Steps, a steep cobbled pathway used by medieval merchants, to reach the Rail Lands – a linear park created in 2002 along the former railroad line that connected Kemble and Tetbury.

Glastonbury Glastonbury is a small town sitting just southwest of Bath. It houses 8,000 people, and roughly as many myths and legends. Before the Common Era, Celts and Druids worshipped here. The place really rocked, though, with the advent of Christianity. Joseph of Arimathea (the man who gave the crucified Jesus a tomb, according to the Bible), was said to have visited here shortly after the crucifixion. Pausing only briefly to drop the Holy Grail (the cup Jesus used at the last supper) into the body of water now known as the Chalice Well, he went on to found Christianity in Britain. Specifically, he went on to found Glastonbury Abbey, the ruins of which can still be seen in town. At some point after his arrival, legend

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holds, Joseph stuck his cane into the ground. He woke up the next morning to see that it had taken hold as a plant. The plant – now known as the Glastonbury Thorn – is a hybrid hawthorn that really does grow only in and around Glastonbury. Fast forward to 1133 A.D., and Glastonbury gleans a reputation as Avalon – the site where this world abuts the next. That reputation was buttressed in 1191, when monks at Glastonbury Abbey claimed to have found the graves of King Arthur and his wife, Guinevere. In 1278, their graves were moved to the high altar in the abbey church. Shortly thereafter, the church was vandalized.

Opposite top: Stroll down the charming, shoplined streets of the Cotswolds town of Cheltenham. Opposite bottom: A long row of weaver’s cottages line Tetbury’s cobbled Chipping Steps. Below: Steps lead to the chapel ruins of St. Michael’s Tower atop Glastonbury Tor.

No one has seen the bodies since. According to one Arthurian legend, the bodies, which had been in a pristine state of preservation, immediately disintegrated when the tombs were opened and the bodies were exposed to air. Two other bits: The faithful believe (as far as I can tell, for no apparent reason), that Jesus of Nazareth spent his “lost years” here – the time between the ages of 12 and 30 that go unaccounted for in the Bible. He studied in Glastonbury, they believe, under the tutelage of Joseph of Arimathea. The water in the Chalice Well is rusty. Believers think it’s the residue of the iron nails banged into Jesus’ hands and feet during the crucifixion.

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This is what you can see today. Visit the ruins of the Benedictine Abbey of St. Mary. They’re set in 37 acres of parkland, and date from the 14th century. Glastonbury Tor is perhaps the most mystical of all Glastonbury sites. The Tor is nothing more than a tall hill, but it’s a weird hill, arising, as it does, from a region so flat as to be known as the Somerset Levels. It stands 522 feet above sea level, and is topped by St. Michael’s Tower, the ruins of a onetime church. The hill itself is graced by a series of seven terraces – no one knows with any surety whether they are natural or man-made. However, some believe that they constitute a kind of maze created up to 5,000 years ago by the Celts or the Druids for use in ancient worship rites. The Chalice Well sits at the base of Glastonbury Tor. Sip from the well, and visit the parkland surrounding. When you’re done, visit the town itself. Harkening to Glastonbury’s distant past, you’ll find many pagan shops, as well as organizations with names like Glastonbury Goddess Temple and Glastonbury Order of Druids.

I arrived in town too late for the last bus tour. I was virtually broke, but spent £10 (remember, this was 15 years ago) on a cab to take me to the monument. The cabdriver’s name was Dick. He was ancient. Even then he was ancient. Now, I’m sure he’s dead. He was born in Ireland, and his father had been involved in the Easter Uprising – that conflict consumed our conversation.

The monolithic structure of Stonehenge is solitarily situated on the Salisbury Plain.

Dick and I arrived at Stonehenge, and it was closed. I don’t know, really, the difference between Stonehenge closed and Stonehenge open – you’re not allowed, typically, to meander around the stones in any case. Dick’s apologies ringing in my ears, I stood behind the iron fence separating Stonehenge from the rest of the world. It was early in the evening, and I began to understand the meaning of the word “gloaming.” Hawks soared overhead.

Salisbury Plain I’ve heard that Salisbury is a nice town, with the famous cathedral and all, but both times I’ve visited the region, I’ve given the city short shrift and headed 8 miles north, to Stonehenge. Locals say that, looking at the Neolithic/Bronze Age megalith, a series of huge stones erected roughly 5,100 years ago in a very rough pattern of concentric circles, will have one of two effects on you. The first effect is none at all. The second is that the stones help you plug into a spiritual energy that will change your life. Construction on the monument began 3,100 years before the birth of Jesus, and it was built in three phases. No one knows for sure what the monument was for, although theories cover everything from human sacrifice to astronomy.

My mind flashed back, again and again, to a poem by Langdon Smith. Imagining himself as a caveman, he talked about drawing hunt scenes in a cave, “That men might understand.” I stood there, looking at the stones, at the hawks, and tried to understand. I failed. That’s OK. Maybe just thinking is the point. In Bath, a mystic talked to me about the Bath/Glastonbury/Stonehenge triangle. “This,” she said, “is a holy place.” I’m not sure that’s right. I’m not sure it ain’t.

This is what I know of Stonehenge. Though I’ve visited since, my clearest memory of Stonehenge was arriving in Salisbury, by train, on the same day I blew off Bath.

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Motoring Through 400 Years

History Comes Alive in Virginiaâ&#x20AC;&#x2DC;s Tidewater region

By Philip C. Brooks

Photo courtesy of The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, Williamsburg, Va.

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nterstate 95 is a horrible road that runs up and down the East Coast of the United States. It is usually congested, impacted with traffic, and witness to some of the worst driving in North America. One fears that it will become a monument to 21st century driving. If you want to go back to a gentler time and experience pleasant motoring, abandon the 21st century at Richmond, Virginia, take I-295 going east of Richmond, and turn east onto Virginia Route 5 – the John Tyler Highway. Go back through the centuries into Tidewater Virginia. You’ll go through several miles of farming country, all of which witnessed the Union Army’s various attempts to get to Richmond during the Civil War, as what is now Route 5 was a main route for the Union Army and a place of annual Confederate Army resistance. We’re well into the 19th century here, but the country is older. The road winds through Henrico County – named for Henry VIII. Historical markers attest to nearby places and events: Curles Neck and Bremo are sites of 17th century plantations; and Malvern Hill is another ancient plantation site that, along with Turkey Island, a Randolph ancestral home, was burned during the 1862 Union advance on Richmond.

Opposite: The Governor’s Palace in Willamsburg, with its lush, colorful gardens, was considered one of the finest estates in British North America when it was completed in 1722. Below: The Rolls-Royce Corniche II takes a break from the tour at the Williamsburg Inn. The elegant Williamsburg Inn has been the place to stay since the 1930s.

Photo by Philip C. Brooks

We take our Rolls-Royce Corniche II on this route one late autumn day. As we proceed further into the colonial heartland of the Old Dominion, the Spirit of Ecstasy seems to look approvingly at this countryside, for so very long a part of the first British Empire. The Corniche is a perfect car for this kind of touring, an appropriate descendant of the carriages that took the “First Families of Virginia” to Williamsburg. Past the turn for Turkey Island, we enter Charles City County – named for Charles I. Coming up, only 10 miles from the horrors of the interstates, is Shirley Plantation, one of the greatest of Virginia plantations. The land was patented by Edward Hill in 1660, eventually going to his Carter descendants. The Hill Carter family still lives at Shirley – Charles Hill Carter III manages the plantation, and he represents the 11th generation of the family in residence. Here, we truly enter the 18th century: The “Great House” was completed in 1738, and its symmetrical Queen Anne-era forecourt of outbuildings and gardens remain to this day. Robert E. Lee’s mother, Anne Hill Carter, married 139

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Photo by David M. Doody

“Light-Horse” Harry Lee in the front parlor in 1793. Shirley, a home great with age, overlooks the James River and is probably the most intact 18th century plantation in Virginia.

Aerial view of historic Shirley Plantation on the James River, Charles City County, Virginia, along the historic Route 5 corridor.

Just a few miles down the road is Berkeley Plantation. Berkeley was first settled in December 1619, and the settlers celebrated the first Thanksgiving in America here on the day of their arrival. The settlement later became the Harrison family ancestral home. Benjamin Harrison IV built the house in 1726. Benjamin Harrison V, a signer of the Declaration of Independence, was born here, as was his son William Henry Harrison, the 9th president of the United States. Berkeley is also the ancestral home of the 23rd president, Benjamin Harrison, who was William Henry’s grandson, and the extended Harrison family, which includes television personality Katie Couric. (Frederick Douglass, a former slave of the Harrisons, was a member of Benjamin Harrison’s inaugural committee in 1889, which speaks volumes about the intertwining of African and Anglo heritage in the United States and particularly in this historic area.) The Army of the Potomac camped at Berkeley in 1862, during which time the tune “Taps” was composed at the campsite. One of the drummer boys of that army, John Jamieson, fell in love with Berkeley and returned in the early 1900s to purchase the house. Jamieson’s descendants have restored the plantation over the last 80 years and still live there. Berkeley’s house and gardens are spectacular. There are many other historic houses along Route 5 in Charles City County. Westover, built by William Byrd III in the 1750s, is one of the greatest masterpieces and most beautiful examples of colonial architecture in

America. It was long thought that the main house was built by the father, William Byrd II, an eminent and literate gentleman who kept secret and hilarious diaries that were discovered and published in the 1950s. However, recent dendrochronological studies of the main house’s floors and rafters indicate that William III built it. Cornwallis and his army crossed the James at Westover in hot pursuit of Lafayette’s army in 1781. The house was restored by the Fisher family in the early 20th century, and they still live there. The gardens, with their famous tulip poplar trees, are open, but the house is only open during some “Garden Weeks.” If you ever have the opportunity to see the interior of the house, with its lovely plasterwork ceilings, be sure to do so. Farther east we go, the car pointing deeper into Tidewater Virginia and deeper into history. The road straightens out here and goes through miles of overhanging trees, reminding one of the virgin forests of earlier times. We pass the turn to Atkins Store; down that road is land that is still home to the Chickahominy Indians, descendants of the Powhatans who greeted the Jamestown settlers in 1607. The Chickahominy and other Virginia tribes gather here annually for a powwow. They are a dignified and gentle people, very proud of their heritage and vibrant members of the Tidewater community. On through the village of Charles City Courthouse, we carry on east three miles to Sherwood Forest, the home to which America’s 10th president, John Tyler, returned upon his retirement from office in 1845. With him came his lovely young second wife, Julia Gardiner Tyler of New York. She decorated the house beautifully, and most of her furnishings are still there – as is the Tyler 141

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Photos courtesy of Virginia Department of Historic Resources

family (John and Julia had seven children, the last of whom died in 1947, and grandson Harrison Ruffin Tyler and his family now live there). Sherwood Forest, with its “Big House” in the center and wings flanking each side, has a façade of over 300 feet, making it the longest frame dwelling in the nation. Though the house was started about 1660, what you see today is mostly from the period 1730 to 1845 (with many architectural details having been designed in 1845 by architect Minard Lefever.) Andrew Jackson Downing designed the landscaping of the grounds. If you like presidential homes, this 19th century one is particularly interesting. We cross over the Chickahominy River – just above its mouth, where it runs into the James – before entering James City County headed for Williamsburg, Virginia’s colonial capital from 1699 to 1780. Williamsburg was the center of Tidewater civilization, but because the capital was moved to Richmond in 1780, Williamsburg became very quiet for the next 150 years. Restoration of the town began in 1928 and has continued to the present day thanks to the generosity of John D. Rockefeller, Jr., and the Rockefeller Foundation. Today the restored area is maintained by the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, and its collections of buildings, furnishings, and decorative arts are justly renowned. Williamsburg has lovely places to spend the night, from the Williamsburg Inn and the Willamsburg Lodge, through a variety of good hotels, motels, and B&Bs, to the brand-new country house hotel, Wedmore Place at the Williamsburg Winery. We drive up Route 5 and into Williamsburg, passing the College of William and Mary, America’s secondoldest institution of higher learning. The Wren Building

– traditionally designed by Christopher Wren – the President’s House, and Brafferton Hall are the college’s three original buildings; they are located at the apex of the campus facing east down Duke of Gloucester Street at an intersection known aptly as “Confusion Corner.” After checking in at our accommodations, we head to an historic tavern in the restored area for dinner. Tonight it’s Christiana Campbell’s – just across from the Capitol building – where they still serve oysters just as George Washington used to order them. The next day we tour Colonial Williamsburg. The Governor’s Palace vividly illustrates the majesty of an 18th century British “government house;” its gardens and maze are perhaps even more fascinating than the building itself. The Capitol building shows well how government worked in the colonial era, and its architecture reflects the balance possible with a bicameral legislature. We opt for a tour of the town’s gardens, which lets us understand better how townspeople really lived. Colonial Williamsburg has started a street theater program called “Revolutionary City,” which brings the American Revolution to life; it’s another must-see. There are many very good restaurants in Williamsburg, and it’s difficult choosing between one of them or another colonial tavern. We elect to eat in town, with a visit to the bar at Shields Tavern afterward. There’s more to Tidewater Virginia than just the 18th century: The 17th century is when the American experience began for the English-speaking world. Several 17th century homes still exist in Tidewater, including Bacon’s Castle across the James in Surry County; it’s the most original Jacobean house in America. But to

Left: The Wren Building was built in 1695, before Williamsburg was founded. Right: Bacon’s Castle underwent great restoration efforts and opened to the public in 1983.

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Photos courtesy of APVA Preservation Virginia Photo by Philip C. Brooks

get to the real beginning of the English-speaking world in America, we go back further in time, driving down the Colonial Parkway to Jamestown, where the settlers landed in May 1607. Our first stop is Jamestown Settlement, a re-creation of the original Jamestown fort and village, complete with replicas of the three ships that brought the settlers of the Virginia Company. New exhibit galleries vividly show the roots and interactions of the three cultures that created Jamestown and so much of the United States: the Powhatan Indians, the Africans, and the English. From the galleries, we visit the re-created village itself, where reenactors keep our attention. We then go out to the three small ships to marvel at the bravery of the people who sailed across the ocean on them. Jamestown Settlement only whets our appetite for the real thing; the actual site of Jamestown is just across the isthmus on Jamestown Island. For generations it was thought that the original site, except for the church tower, had fallen into the James River. However, in 1994, the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA) and the National Park Service, which own the village site (referred to as “Historic Jamestowne”) and the island respectively, teamed up for archaeological exploration.

Archaeologists were astounded to find the site of the original fort and village, most of which had not washed away. Today the excavations carry on, and the finds continue to be amazing. We first go to the Park Service’s

new visitors center, where more excellent exhibits portray the three cultures at Jamestown as well as many of the artifacts uncovered. Then we go to the site itself, where a fascinating Archaearium is located over the site of the settlement’s last Statehouse. The building is built so as not to disturb the site or the remains of the Statehouse walls and to provide a view through the floor of those remains. In the Archaearium we see thousands of objects that have been found in the last 13 years, including bottles, armor, plates, trade goods, tools, and skeletons. Replicas of three buried skeletons are on exhibit, two men and one woman; one of the men is probably Bartholomew Gosnold, an early leader of the settlement. A replica of an excavated well is also on exhibit, with the objects actually found in the well shown in situ. The Archaearium, an outstanding and innovative exhibit, is the epitome of Jamestown.

Left: The road curves toward the James River as it leads to Jamestown Island. The original settlement site is just beyond the trees ahead. Center: The John Smith statue and church tower at Historic Jamestowne. Right: Visitors to the Archaearium in Historic Jamestowne will find displays of the various objects that have been recovered at the settlement’s original site.

It’s easy to spend hours, if not an entire day, at Jamestown, and we did. We toured the whole island, then came away in the Corniche, thinking how central this Tidewater Virginia area is to the whole American experience. We had reaffirmed the English roots of our laws, government, and culture, but we had also developed a

much deeper understanding of the American Indian and African ancestry of American culture as well. We had driven back in time 400 years, and we had thankfully left the interstates far behind.

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EXPLOSIVE PERSONALITY Majestic Beauty Balances Volcanic Surroundings for Ecuadorâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Capital By DAVID A. BROWN

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Over

cheesecake and brownie sundaes at the restaurant Pim’s, Marco Cevallos quizzed his children Sofia and David on the names of massive structures guarding the outskirts of town. With broad picture windows, the upscale eatery atop a loaf-shaped hill called Panecillo (“little bread”) at the southern end of Ecuador’s capital city delivers a stunning view of the Andean countryside. But the Cevallos weren’t looking at Quito’s factories, condominiums, or industrial complexes. Rather, they casually pointed toward the snow-capped peaks of several volcanoes whose imposing forms rise with unmistakable grandeur from the country’s Northern Highlands.

Left: Chilly streams draining from Cotopaxi National Park provide water for indigenous wildlife and local livestock. Below: A bumpy, dusty road leads into Cotopaxi National Park – one of Ecuador’s most spectacular natural areas and home to the world’s highest active volcano.

As a trekking guide, Marco Cevallos has logged thousands of miles over his homeland’s rough and rugged yet visually spectacular landscape. His daughter and son, now 24 and 19, often join his trips, and while Cevallos’s wife Matilde is more of a city girl, they all keep constant company with ominous neighbors who’ve shadowed the area since long before Quito was Quito. The Northern Highlands surrounding an oblong valley, in which the capital resides, boast 16 volcanoes – several still active (see sidebar: “Giants on the Horizon”). Only a few have caused any serious concern in the past few decades, but proximity to potential disaster remains a real concern.

Photographs by David Brown, unless otherwise noted

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However, like severe weather events, the potential for volcanic eruption is simply part of life for those who live in the areas of their possibility. Given the attraction of a major metropolitan area blessed with all the modern conveniences of comfort and commerce, many Quito dwellers consider the risks tolerable. Above: On a clear day, the classic snowcapped cone of the Cotopaxi volcano peeks over Quito’s horizon.

“We know that something big [could happen], but life continues as long as nothing does happen,” Cevallos said. “The government tries to teach and prepare the population for potential problems.”

Below: Domestic and wild llamas are a common sight throughout the Andean Highlands near Quito, Ecuador.

Perhaps a subtle balance exists in the regional raiment that’s easy on the eyes and seductive to the heart. For amid this temperamental topography, Ecuador’s Andean Highlands hold some of South America’s most splendid habitat. Located on the continent’s northwestern corner, between Colombia and Peru, Ecuador’s continental complexion – the country also encompasses the Galapagos Islands – comprises three distinct climatic regions. The central mountains, also called “La Sierra,” join the arid coastal zone (“La Costa”) and the eastern Amazon jungle (“El Oriente”) within boundaries about the size of Colorado. The Sierra’s volcanic peaks and high mountain ridges stand in stark contrast to Ecuador’s jungle region. Rainfall

and melting snow from the Andes feed nippy rivers that prove vital to South America’s sprawling rainforests. Waterfalls are many in the Sierra region. Ranging from thin, white ribbons to roaring aqueous towers, these “cascadas” accentuate the mountains and offer beautiful photo opportunities.

LOCAL PERSPECTIVE The Pichincha volcanoes – a sprawling complex from which the local province gets its name – sit closest to Quito. In this group of linked formations, Rucu (“Old Man”) Pichincha and Guagua (“Child”) Pichincha take their names from Quechua – the main language of Ecuador’s indigenous people. Padre Encantado completes the Pichincha trio. Typical of the Andean Highlands, soaring peaks with deep, plunging valleys encompass a rich bouquet of natural features. As Cevallos notes, it doesn’t take long to witness the Highland diversity. Quito sits at approximately 9,350 feet above sea level, but moving into the city’s volcanic surroundings displays a striking process of transition. “It’s powerful and impressive,” said Mack Melchiade, a 53-year resident of Quito. “The different topography, vegetation, and volcanic formations are very distinctive. There is also a variety of different microforest climates.

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Within [a short time] the climate changes rapidly from warm valleys to freezing [environments].” Botanical brilliance adorns the region with verdant vistas and little treasures like colorful taxo flowers or wild blueberries growing along roadsides. Among the notable vegetation, the sharp, green leaves of a “puma maquis” plant resemble the clawed foot of a mountain lion. Incredible views of Highlands habitat await at a relatively new amusement park called Telefériqo. Opened on the west side of Quito in 2005, this park features a cable-car ride that scales the side of a hill called Cruz Loma. From the ride and the observation deck at its upper level, you’ll see the Pichinchas and some of the distant volcanoes, weather permitting.

Giants in the Distance

Volcanoes in Ecuador’s Northern Highlands include:

At the top, visitors find carnival rides, games, and a diverse selection of themed eateries. For an ethereal experience, stroll the exhilarating ascent up a sandy footpath to the summit. Gusty winds and thin, chilly air challenge your every step, but the panoramic views of surrounding landscapes, along with an elevated perspective of the capital city, won’t soon leave your memory.

Photo by Marco Cevallos

From the path’s midpoint, walkers ahead of you literally disappear into the clouds. Once you reach the top, the swirling white dreamscape rewards the arduous effort. (For safety, park staff closely monitors this area and rescue teams stand ready with oxygen tanks if anyone has trouble with the altitude.)

Name: Height, Status Atacazo: 4,410 m, active Antisana: 5,704 m, active

A CLOSER LOOK For a more intimate perspective of Ecuador’s Andean grandeur, Cevallos guides trips of varying complexity into the volcanic environment. Most visitors have no trouble with low-impact hikes through the valleys and

Cayambe: 5,790 m, active Chiles: 4,768 m, dormant Corazón: 4,788 m, dormant Cotopaxi: 5,897 m, active Guagua Pichincha: 4,794 m, active Ilinza Norte: 5,126 m, dormant

Camping in the high altitudes of Ecuador’s volcanoes presents a matchless ambiance of blissful solitude.

Ilinza Sur: 5,263 m, dormant Pasochoa: 4,200 m, dormant Reventador: 3,562 m, active Rucu Pichincha: 4,700 m, dormant Rumiñahui: 4,712 m, dormant Source: Moon Handbooks Ecuador by Julian Smith 151

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cloud forests, but tackling ice and snow requires a reasonable level of high-altitude trekking experience. “I suggest that people must have some technical skills before they try to attempt the high volcanoes,” Cevallos said. “But this is not always possible, so we decided, as a rule, to teach these skills the day before a climb.” June to September as well as late November to midJanuary offer ideal Highland conditions. The rainy seasons (February to May and October and November) mean muddy trails and soggy ground, but climbing in the frozen zone is a year-round opportunity. Extended trips may involve local hostels or rustic haciendas, but don’t miss the chance to camp on a chilly mountainside – an experience alone worth the price. Unquestionably, Ecuador’s premier volcanic celebrity is the awe-inspiring Cotopaxi. Standing 90 kilometers

south of Quito, the active mount’s classic cone shape rises 5,897 meters above sea level – the highest of any active volcano in the world. Approaching the namesake national park, you clearly see the destructive path carved by a roiling lava flow 152

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from Cotopaxi’s major eruption in 1877. Outside the park, Rumibamba (Quechua for “Valley of Stones”) bears the rocky remnants of this catastrophic event. Eerie is the juxtaposition of now serene pastures and rural woodlands with volcanic boulders the size of minivans littering grassy fields more than 10 miles from the volcano. Cotopaxi National Park has long been a popular destination for climbers and ecotourists. Iron deposits give a reddish tint to the volcano’s lower slopes, but a vivid white shawl drapes the upper limits, save for the Yanasacha (“Black Wall”), where heat vents create a bare spot on the north face.

The Incas revered Cotopaxi as a sacred mountain where they worshipped their sun god and offered ritual sacrifices from a stone altar deck on a bluff at the park’s north end. Wild vegetation has overgrown much of the site, but today the solid platform offers a clear vantage point for surveying the mighty swath cut by Cotopaxi’s lava flow. Curiously, the rich volcanic soil provides excellent growing conditions for grass and bright meadow flowers. Herds of wild horses, descendants of those left by European explorers, graze throughout the fertile fields surrounding Cotopaxi.

Opposite: Wild flowers and blueberries grow abundantly in the rich volcanic soil of Ecuador’s Andes Mountain region. Above: Wild horses, descendants of those brought by European explorers, graze throughout the fertile fields surrounding Cotopaxi.

Indigenous Andean wildlife also abounds throughout the park, with pumas, rabbits, llamas, foxes, ducks, condors, and caracaras making their way in this windy, desolate area. If you’re not into climbing, try mountain biking through Cotopaxi’s winding trails, or take a fourwheel-drive, off-road adventure deep into the park’s breathtaking majesty. Continued on page 157

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Conservation through Ecotourism

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Biscuits to Go

For

northbound trips out of Quito, make a pit stop in the town of San Pedro de Cayambe – home to an old-world bakery where a popular breakfast/snack biscuit called a “bizcocho” is still created in a completely manual process. In a small, dimly lit block room, bakers at Bizcochos Especiales San Pedro mix flour, sugar, salt, yeast, water, and grease in oblong bins until the golden yellow dough achieves the right “feel,” no doubt a skill developed over time. From there, four or five “cortadores” (cutters) divide the setup tasks. Two grab double handfuls of dough, form it into 24-inch rolls, and then flatten it with smooth wooden tools called “bolillos.” Next, they flip about a quarter of the dough’s edge back over the flattened section, before making a rapid series of lateral cuts to separate 20 or so fingers. Flipping the edges yields the traditional “cabezita” (little head) on each finished bizcocho. In one swift move, a cortadoro will scoop up eight-10 fingers and toss them across the table to stackers who place them in neatly spaced rows on baking trays. Poetry in motion, this is precision perfected by thousands of repetitions. Bakery owner Padre Rafael Mendez – also a local priest – said the personal touch has delivered a superior product in his shop for over 30 years. “It is very important

to use the original [methods] and to maintain the tradition. That’s why I am no friend of machines – they have no soul. Only a human can work with dedication. This is a labor of love.” Bizcochos are baked in open-hearth ovens fueled by clean-burning eucalyptus wood. After an initial spell in the oven, trays of lightly baked fingers are set on racks for a settling process. Once they cool, bizcochos return to the oven for a few minutes to achieve their crunchy, golden-brown finish. Daily patrons shuffle past mixing, production, and baking areas to pick up bags of fresh bizcochos, along with tasty “queso loja” (leaf cheese). Add to this a cup of hot coffee and a serving of manjar – a caramel-like sauce for dipping bizcochos – and yours is a morning well begun. A breakfast stop and a couple bags of bizcochos for the road will run you about $5.

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Small in stature, Ecuador’s

most of

indigenous people are friendly and humble, but they ’re often shy and reclusive . A smile and a prepaid tip usually guarantee a nice photo op.

INDIGENOUS CULTURE Trips throughout Ecuador’s Highlands frequently bring visitors into contact with the country’s indigenous peoples. Quito and other big cities are populated mostly by European descendants, while native Indians inhabit outlying villages and small towns.

Above and top right: The open-air market in Otavalo presents a great opportunity for travelers to interact with Ecuador’s indigenous people. Artisans and farmers from surrounding villages gather in the town’s central square to offer a variety of colorful textiles, paintings, carvings, and other local crafts.

Periodically visiting the metropolitan areas to shop and sell their wares, Ecuadorian Indians clearly stand out from the urban populace. Ink-black hair – long, ribboned braids for women – and traditional fedora-style hats distinguish these shy, pleasant people. Indigenous men maintain modest attire, but Indian women adorn themselves with crisp, white blouses – often colorfully trimmed – shawls or ponchos, and multiple strands of bright, beaded necklaces and bracelets. Friendly and accommodating, these diminutive people live primarily reclusive lives based around long, hard work days, close-knit family groups, and rich traditions of ceremony and celebration.

“The indigenous tribes were once limited by Ecuador’s geography, so they have retained their way of life over many generations,” Melchiade said. “In today’s civilization, they have access to the cities, but they still retain their customs, clothing, and culture.” Indian women frequently appear along highways with loads of firewood, harvested vegetables, or paja grass (used for roofs and brick fiber) bundled across their backs. You may also see cars and buses easing around a man and his son as they guide a herd of cows or sheep down the center of a rural road. Families riding horses or burros are about as common as cabs in Quito. Agriculture is the mainstay of Ecuador’s indigenous groups. Sustenance farming is a way of life for many, but there’s also a strong commercial element, with farmers providing produce for the country’s restaurants. Fertile volcanic soil favors growth, but water is the catalyst.

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Built from volcanic rocks, the central monument of La Mitad del Mundo (“Middle of the World”) straddles the equator’s hemispheric division of 0 degrees latitude. Visitors standing on either side of the east-west line can technically reach across the north and south hemispheres.

“The indigenous farmers are geniuses with irrigation,” Melchiade said. “They have made the soil very productive without any modern machinery, and they’ve taken advantage of the different climates [throughout the elevations] to produce various crops.” Broccoli, corn, onions, radishes, potatoes, carrots, and hops all benefit from the intricate network of canals that trickle across the landscape – sometimes just a few paces from main roads. Glance up the side of a steep slope, and you’ll often notice cows grazing and workers toiling at seemingly impossible angles. Neatly arranged in geometric patchworks, most of these operations clearly display the terrace style of crop placement developed by the Incas. Complementing this agricultural aptitude, handicrafts also add a significant element to Highlands Indian culture. Handmade textiles including thick sweaters woven from lamb or alpaca wool, colorful tapestries, scarves, gloves, and sturdy hammocks comprise the largest element, but you’ll also find specialties such as wood and jade carvings, leather goods, miniature paintings, and figurines made of hardened bread dough. Each mountain town has its own specialty and artisan markets provide central shopping opportunities. But the mecca for indigenous crafts occurs in Otavalo, approximately 95 kilometers (59 miles) north of Quito. Artisans and farmers from surrounding villages gather in the town’s central square to offer their goods in an open-air market that presents a great opportunity for travelers to interact with Ecuador’s indigenous people. In Otavalo, jewelry options range from traditional beaded bracelets and necklaces to hand-crafted silver. Be sure and ask for “plata pura” (pure silver, best quality). Also, haggling is an assumption at Indian markets, and tourists who go for the initial offer aren’t regarded as particularly savvy. Negotiate down to about 60 percent of an item’s quoted price and you’ve done well. Naturally, multiple purchases will strengthen your position. Also, close competition among market vendors factors into the chess match, so don’t hesitate to hand an item back to its owner and initiate talks at the next stall.

WRAPPING UP Whether you’re content to explore the foothills and cloud forests or push into the upper limits of frozen peaks, Quito’s volcanic backdrop never fails to amaze its visitors with invigorating memories. Just be sure to prepare properly – and that means a lot more than packing your fleece and trail gloves. “One of the biggest problems that visitors experience [in the Highlands] is altitude sickness,” Cevallos warned. “We design our trips based on the person’s experience level and their physical condition, but I recommend spending at least one day walking around Quito to become acclimatized to the high altitude.” Travelers will find plenty of modern shopping, dining, and entertainment options within the city, but short drives through outlying farmlands lead to historic haciendas, colonial villages, and old churches of exquisite design. Of course, a trip to Quito would fall incomplete without a visit to La Mitad del Mundo, aka the “Middle of the World.”

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Built from volcanic rocks, the central monument of La Mitad del Mundo (“Middle of the World”) straddles the equator’s hemispheric division of 0 degrees latitude. Visitors standing on either side of the east-west line can technically reach across the northern and southern hemispheres.

“The indigenous farmers are geniuses with irrigation,” Melchiade said. “They have made the soil very productive without any modern machinery, and they’ve taken advantage of the different climates [throughout the elevations] to produce various crops.” Broccoli, corn, onions, radishes, potatoes, carrots, and hops all benefit from the intricate network of canals that trickle across the landscape – sometimes just a few paces from main roads. Glance up the side of a steep slope, and you’ll often notice cows grazing and workers toiling at seemingly impossible angles. Neatly arranged in geometric patchworks, most of these operations clearly display the terrace style of crop placement developed by the Incas. Complementing this agricultural aptitude, handicrafts also add a significant element to Highlands Indian culture. Handmade textiles including thick sweaters woven from lamb or alpaca wool, colorful tapestries, scarves, gloves, and sturdy hammocks comprise the largest element, but you’ll also find specialties such as wood and jade carvings, leather goods, miniature paintings, and figurines made of hardened bread dough. Each mountain town has its own specialty and artisan markets provide central shopping opportunities. But the mecca for indigenous crafts occurs in Otavalo, approximately 95 kilometers (59 miles) north of Quito. Artisans and farmers from surrounding villages gather in the town’s central square to offer their goods in an open-air market that presents a great opportunity for travelers to interact with Ecuador’s indigenous people. In Otavalo, jewelry options range from traditional beaded bracelets and necklaces to hand-crafted silver. Be sure and ask for “plata pura” (pure silver, best quality). Also, haggling is an assumption at Indian markets, and tourists who go for the initial offer aren’t regarded as particularly savvy. Negotiate down to about 60 percent of an item’s quoted price and you’ve done well. Naturally, multiple purchases will strengthen your position. Also, close competition among market vendors factors into the chess match, so don’t hesitate to hand an item back to its owner and initiate talks at the next stall.

WRAPPING UP Whether you’re content to explore the foothills and cloud forests or push into the upper limits of frozen peaks, Quito’s volcanic backdrop never fails to amaze its visitors with invigorating memories. Just be sure to prepare properly – and that means a lot more than packing your fleece and trail gloves. “One of the biggest problems that visitors experience [in the Highlands] is altitude sickness,” Cevallos warned. “We design our trips based on the person’s experience level and their physical condition, but I recommend spending at least one day walking around Quito to become acclimatized to the high altitude.” Travelers will find plenty of modern shopping, dining, and entertainment options within the city, but short drives through outlying farmlands lead to historic haciendas, colonial villages, and old churches of exquisite design. Of course, a trip to Quito would fall incomplete without a visit to La Mitad del Mundo, aka the “Middle of the World.”

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Built from volcanic rocks, the park’s central monument straddles the equator’s hemispheric division of 0 degrees latitude. Visitors standing on either side of the east-west line can technically reach across the northern and southern hemispheres. Shops offering local handicrafts, cafes serving typical cuisine, and an anthropological museum complete the experience. Following the main road west about 45 minutes past La Mitad del Mundo takes you to one of the Sierra’s true gems – the inauspicious, yet thoroughly enjoyable town of Mindo. White-water rafting is the big tourist draw, but you’ll also find ecotours, horseback riding, and the “Mariposario” – an enchanting butterfly farm. Save time for a drive up to Panecillo. Across the main road from Pim’s, the Virgin of Quito ranks as a definite must-see. Below the towering monument, Quito’s colonial district, known as “Old Town,” makes for great walking tours. Here, you’ll find a blend of colonial and European architecture,

dazzling cathedrals with gilded interiors, ornate balconies, and central patios. Old Town also holds Ecuador’s military, governmental, and religious headquarters. Walk the cobblestone streets at night and the colonial district morphs into a different persona, as the hustle and bustle of daily business yields to street performers, musicians, and casual foot traffic, all amid the pastel glows of after-hours illumination. An obvious security presence keeps the area safe for unescorted strolls. Back at Pim’s, early afternoon dining on the patio deck provides a refreshing break for travelers, but evenings get pretty chilly on Panecillo and the interior fireplace adds a touch of ambiance for reliving trip memories and looking over digital photos. If your visit needs a sweet conclusion to Quito’s volcanic emphasis, just check out the “Pim’s Peaks” section of the dessert menu, where specialty ice cream creations bear volcanic names such as Cotopaxi and Cayambe.

Melting snow from high peaks sends a constant flow of chilly water through pristine mountain streams, which lace their way across the Andes’ rocky complexion.

Visitor Info • Local Currency: U.S. dollar (U.S. and Ecuadorian versions of the same denominations both accepted). • Ground Transportation: Ecuador has a large public transit system linking most populated towns. Private tour operators charge more but they’ll include several sightseeing stops. Cab drivers will often hire out for a day fee, but negotiate rates and details (gas, tolls, driver’s meals) upfront. Service providers quote what they think they can get, but diligent consumers who hold their ground usually achieve a fair deal. • Tipping: Most restaurant bills include tax and “servicio.” The latter is not actually a tip for the waiter, but a general service fee for the staff. If the job was well done, leave an additional 10-15 percent, but hand this directly to your server. • Air Travel: Mariscal Sucre International Airport (Quito). Most domestic flights throughout Ecuador are handled by Tame, Icaro, and AeroGal. • T ravel Requirements: Valid passport for visits of 90 days or less. Longer stays may require a visa. Exit taxes from Quito are $25 per person. • Trip Planning: Contact Marco Cevallos at info@adventureplanet-ecuador. com, or visit www.adventureplanetecuador.com, or exploringecuador. com/index.htm. • Telefériqo: (011) 593 2 225 0825, www.teleferiqo.com • Pim’s Restaurant: www.restaurantepims.com • U.S. Embassy (Quito): (011) 593 2 256 2890 ext. 4510, www.usembassy.org.ec/ • Ecuadorian Embassy (Washington, D.C.): (202) 234-7200, www.ecuador.org

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Ring of fear For size, speed, and endurance, few roads offer a stiffer challenge than the Nordschleife of Germany’s infamous Nürburgring By Zac Assemakis

It’s

I love it and, yes, I suspect that I’m not driving quickly enough. This is partly because I’m behind the wheel of a Bentley Turbo R that belongs to someone else. Another reason that I’m using rather more grace than pace is that, as Jackie Stewart correctly suspected, I’m scared. With 328 bhp on tap, and over 400 ft-lb of torque at my command, the Bentley’s 6.7-liter turbo-charged engine offers more than enough power to make life at the Ring a blast, but as I press the accelerator and feel the car

sit back on its haunches, I’m too worried about exactly what the next bend has in store to truly enjoy myself. I think I know where the apex is, but I could be wrong, and learning the Ring is a mammoth task. It’s the sheer scale and complexity of the circuit that has made it into such an exhilarating, unique, and frightening legend. A single lap of the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife (“northern loop”) takes in 73 corners and 12.9 miles as it twists and turns through Germany’s Eifel Mountains. It also takes in every conceivable gradient, camber, and radius. The greatest of its challenges have been given evocative names like the Carousel, Courage Curve, and the Foxhole. It’s an impressive list of attributes for any race track, but the truly unique thing about the Nordschleife is that it’s a public toll road and, on many days of the year, it’s open to any vehicle.

Photos by Richard Newton

one of the world’s most notorious race tracks, but, famously, many of the greatest drivers hated racing at the Nürburgring. Three-time Formula One champion Jackie Stewart once remarked, “I never did one more balls-out lap there than I absolutely had to. Any driver who says that they loved ‘the Ring’ was either lying or not driving quickly enough.”

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As I reach the tollbooth for the second time and pay the 16-euro fee for one lap, I begin to feel slightly less anxious than I did first time around. Ask anyone who has experience of driving the Ring and they will tell you that it warrants the ultimate degree of respect, that you should drive well within your limits, and that there are almost no run-off areas. Don’t be intimidated, however, and you should have a great time. As I’m more confident the second time around, I begin to enjoy myself. I’m now driving with the cautious enthusiasm I normally reserve for my favorite “A” road. I’m reveling in the undulating, twisting nature of the tarmac as it weaves its way through the deep green forest that swallows the track. There are other vehicles on the road, but there’s that reassuring knowledge that nothing is coming in the opposite direction and a satisfaction in knowing that the traditional thrill of motoring is still alive and kicking here. I find myself closing in on a “hot hatch,” which at one point was just a speck in the distance. As I slot in behind it, I can’t help but imagine what it must have been like for greats such as Nicky Lauda and Stewart to do battle here. The car in front moves over to let me through, and I get a tingle in my spine and a rush of adrenaline. I’m on a natural high for the rest of the lap. As I reach the final bend and ease off the accelerator, a smile spreads across my face and I consider whether Jackie Stewart didn’t get things quite right after all. I ponder for a moment more and, still tingling from my lap, conclude that any driver who loves the Ring is either a liar, not driving quickly enough – or sitting behind the wheel of a Bentley Turbo R.

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Opposite: A Bentley Turbo R takes on the 73 corners and 12.9 miles of the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife. Above: Waiting to tackle the notorious Nürburgring has always been a nailbiting moment for drivers of all abilities.

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Enjoy the Enchantment of Carmel-by-the-Sea By Michael A. Robinson

Not

many resort communities can claim that one of the more famous actors ever to work in Hollywood also served as their mayor. Then again, Carmel-by-the-Sea is anything but ordinary.

Photos courtesy of www.carmelcalifornia.com

Opposite: The iconographic “Hansel House,” designed and built by Hugh Comstock in 1925, is one example of the fairytale cottages that line Carmel’s neighborhood streets. Below left: This tiny 1920s Comstock cottage showcases Carmel’s small-town charm. Below right: Rugged coastline, Pacific waters, and cypress trees are common scenery along Route 1.

Though much of the world was shocked to learn 20 years ago that movie star and award-winning director Clint Eastwood had been elected mayor, locals already recognized Carmel’s unique charms as a major lure for talented professionals. Known for great restaurants, art galleries, shopping, and residential cottages without addresses, Carmel has long attracted top talent from many walks of life who either enjoy a great vacation or make the city their home, if only for a few months. Other famous residents of this charming community have included photographer Ansel Adams, author Upton Sinclair, actress Doris Day, and famed former Hollywood couple Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston.

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Located about 120 miles south of San Francisco and 330 miles north of Los Angeles on the Monterey Peninsula, Carmel is easy to get to by car and is quite simply a great place to rest and relax. With so many unique shops and restaurants, one can easily spend an hour or two just meandering a single block. For more than 80 years, Carmel’s leaders have carefully pursued a strategy of planned development so the city would retain its “village in a forest” character while maintaining the coastal environment. This is one classy little town, devoid of fast-food restaurants and T-shirt shops. It contains almost no chain stores. Instead, Carmel offers a unique shopping experience of high-end art galleries, jewelers, curios, and clothing. Spread out over several blocks, the central district contains most of the places to visit in the city limits. A stroll on the beach that waits at the bottom of a long hill yields great beauty, with views of the rugged coastline to the south and Pebble Beach to the north. Carmel’s beach is a favorite spot for flying kites, walking dogs, or taking romantic strolls. The fresh ocean breeze can be quite bracing – people often wear sweatshirts or jackets in the summer. Carmel is also a city of courtyards. It seems there is one on every street. Many contain quaint little shops or have patio restaurants with heat lamps in case the fog and wind roll in.

Earle’s serigraphs “Quiet Solitude” (second from top) and “Live Oak Country” (third from top). George Rodrigue’s “Blue Dog” series painting is an example of his signature abstract style.

Originally settled by the Ohlone Native Americans, the Monterey Peninsula saw the influx of Spanish settlers in the 1700s. At the turn of the last century, residential development began. Carmel boomed after the 1906 San Francisco earthquake brought an influx of artists and bohemians. It would later become a magnet for the wealthy, but Carmel still retains an artsy vibe. With more than 90 galleries in the area, Carmel ranks as an art collector’s dream. Each May, the city hosts a threeday art fair that includes live music and hundreds of pieces of art and sculpture. The fair represents many local painters who are often members of the “Plein Air” art movement – working outdoors, or in the “open air.”

Photo courtesy of Rodrigue Studio

From top to bottom: Eyvind Earle has produced a wide range of works, including paintings, illustrations, engravings, watercolor, and sculpture.

The city is a jumping-off point for great coastal motoring along Route 1, a narrow, winding road also called the Pacific Coast Highway. Indeed, the drive from Carmel south to Big Sur brings one terrific coastal view after another; the trip is highly recommended. A round-trip excursion can take as little as 90 minutes or as long as several hours, depending on how many stops one makes at scenic points.

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Carmel’s galleries offer a wide range of choices that includes international and local artists with everything from bold abstract expression to new realism to those pieces that evoke the style of the European masters. One unique store is Rodrigue Studio. It’s a one-artist shop featuring works by George Rodrigue. He’s a Louisiana native best known for his series of “Blue Dog” paintings. Rodrigue depicts sad- and ironic-looking canines in various shades of blue with wild, brightly colored backgrounds that at first were based on Louisiana landscapes but have since evolved into highly abstract scenes. Hanson Gallery represents a broad array of modern painters. Hanson’s is particularly big on Mackenzie Thorpe, considered one of the world’s “hot” painters. One Thorpe piece may depict a giant, smiling cat amid tulips, another may focus on a child surrounded by bees, or he may depict giants standing on top of a building. Gallery 21 also focuses on the work of one painter, Eyvind Earle, though the shop also has works by two sculptors, John Cody and Lynne Cook. Earle, known primarily for his unique landscapes that combine surrealism and modern expression, spent the last part of his life in Carmel before he passed away in April 2000. Photography lovers trek to the Weston Gallery and Photography West. At Weston you will find a small room devoted to the works of Brett Weston, son of master photographer and Group f/64 founder Edward Weston, who is also heavily featured there. Margaret Weston, a former daughter-in-law of Edward, founded the gallery in the 1970s with the help of Ansel Adams, some of whose work is on display. The emphasis is on black-and-white photography with a wide selection of signed prints.

Photos by Deborah Pearcy

Photo courtesy of Casanova Restaurant

Photography West also handles Brett Weston and boasts one of the largest collections of his photographs in the United States. The gallery recently highlighted the photographs of Polish-born photographer Roman Lorac, who now does most of his work within an hour’s drive of his home in Modesto, California. If all that shopping for art makes you hungry, Carmel provides an abundance of restaurant choices. Perhaps the most unique is newcomer Bubbly Fish Cafe, which focuses on champagne and caviar. Tucked away in a quiet courtyard off San Carlos, Bubbly Fish opened in December 2006 and also features fine chocolates. One can order caviar a la carte in 10- and 30-gram portions as well as several “tastings” that may include California osetra, pearl salmon, and truffle whitefish. Bubbly Fish has a wide selection of domestic and French champagnes. Small and cozy, Bubbly Fish can accommodate about 30 diners. Another distinctive restaurant is Casanova, which adopted the distinction of “Carmel’s most romantic restaurant” after its guests repeatedly referred to it as such over the years. Casanova offers a culinary experience echoing northern Italy and southern France. In addition, the eatery also boasts an incredible selection of excellent wines and has won numerous awards for its handdug wine cellar that holds 30,000 bottles. The Fountain Patio at Casanova remains highly popular because of its old-world charm and filtered sunlight by day and views of the stars at night. Casanova’s owners have remained at the forefront of California cuisine since the 1970s when they opened the restaurant’s forerunner La Boheme. They sold that restaurant in 1979, but recently reacquired the space in downtown Carmel and have opened another restaurant there – La Bicyclette.

Left: Casanova Restaurant features romantic garden seating, French- and Italian-inspired cuisine, plus a worldclass wine cellar. Make sure you leave room for dessert! Top and bottom right: Bubbly Fish offers a delectable selection of champagne, caviar, chocolates, desserts, and fine wines. Cheers! 169

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Photo courtesy of www.carmelcalifornia.com

Favored by locals, the French Poodle serves standard French dishes with a dash of California fusion thrown in. The Web site GourmetVoyageurs.com has reviewed the restaurant twice in the past six years and given plenty of raves. The French Poodle is definitely worth a visit, if for no other reason than the superb “floating island” dessert for two. The quiet and cozy restaurant often ranks as one of the top French restaurants in the West. It is very romantic, if a bit on the formal side. Bay Area celebrity chef Narsai David has joined forces with chef Kurt Grasing at Kurt’s Carmel Chop House. Kurt’s not only serves up steaks and chops but also has an interesting martini menu and excellent single-malt scotches. Grasing also operates Grasing’s Coastal Cuisine, which includes both seafood and meat dishes. The editors of the Zagat Survey ranked Grasing’s as “excellent” in each of the last six years. Christopher’s Restaurant provides fine dining in an upscale environment. Located in a courtyard off Lincoln Avenue, Christopher’s serves seasonal ingredients with a decidedly local flavor. Owner and chef Christopher Gaul has garnered several awards over the years, and the Monterey County Herald listed Christopher’s as the top new restaurant in 2004.

Photos by Ed Young

The Hog’s Breath Inn remains a top draw, in no small measure because of its original owner, Eastwood, who served two years as Carmel mayor. Paintings of him adorn the walls of this Western-style restaurant that also includes a brick patio with four cobblestone fireplaces. The Forge in the Forest offers indoor and outdoor dining, but the patios, with their casual dining in a relaxed ambiance, are often where the action is. Folks often vie for the limited number of “firepit seats,” so get there before the cocktail hour. Locals recommend the Reuben egg roll as an appetizer. Inside, the Forge Saloon formerly served as a blacksmith’s shop and has copper walls and a hand-carved mahogany back bar. The city and its surrounding locales offer a wide selection of hotels from basic to luxurious, and there are several bed and breakfasts. If an ocean view is imperative, specify this when making a reservation, and keep in mind that many rooms overlook gardens, courtyards, or other portions of the city. Two excellent choices for those who want a great ocean view lie just outside the city on Route 1. They are the Tickle Pink Inn at Carmel Highlands and the Highlands Inn, which is a Park Hyatt right next door. Both overlook a rocky point that is nothing short of spectacular as the

surf pounds the craggy coastline and rock outcroppings offshore. With 35 rooms and suites, the Tickle Pink Inn offers romance, privacy, and intimacy. The facility gears itself primarily toward couples. Originally the home of State Senator Edward and Mrs. Bess Tickle, the Tickle Pink Inn offers finely appointed ocean-view rooms. The Tickle Pink provides continental breakfasts and baked goods in the afternoon but does not have a restaurant. The Highlands Inn, however, has two restaurants on the grounds. One is Pacific’s Edge, which lives up to its name with dramatic ocean views and tables that sit next to plate-glass windows. The restaurant has a full bar with tables that have great views, excellent martinis, and a small but respectable selection of single-malt scotches. It’s a great place to watch the sun set. Pacific’s Edge has received the AAA 4-Diamond and DiRona 2005 awards, has been named one of the Top

Top left: The Old West ambiance of Hog’s Breath Inn lures local and visiting diners alike. Top right and bottom: The Forge in the Forest is known best for its heated garden patios and cozy stone fire pits.

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100 Restaurants in the United States by Zagat, and one of the Top 10 Restaurants With a View by USA Today.

but still has a vintage Western vibe. It is literally in the midst of the main shops, restaurants, and courtyards of Carmel and is a four-block stroll from the beach.

Also at the Highlands Inn, you can dine al fresco overlooking magnificent Yankee Point, or indoors surrounded by the rustic decor of the California Market Restaurant, where a wide range of dishes is served in a casual setting. The menu includes the Hyattâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s breakfast specialties and Monterey Bay seafood and fresh local produce for lunch and dinner.

The rooms and suites of the Pine Inn offer views of the Pacific Ocean, Carmelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s forest, the village itself, or the propertyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s picturesque courtyard. In addition, the hotel is adjacent to Il Fornaio, a bright and bustling eatery that is part of a chain of Italian restaurants highly popular in the Bay Area.

Back in Carmel, La Playa Hotel bills itself as â&#x20AC;&#x153;the Grande Dame of Carmel.â&#x20AC;? It has beautifully landscaped grounds and close proximity to the ocean just two blocks to the west. Built in 1904 as a Mediterranean villa, La Playa offers both standard rooms and cottages, each with views of the garden, village, or ocean. The hotelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Terrace Grill also features al fresco dining with some ocean views on a heated deck â&#x20AC;&#x201C; a romantic spot for dinner. The Grill also has a sumptuous Sunday brunch. Concentrating on its romantic atmosphere, La Playa has several on-site locations for weddings and receptions.

Located a few minutes inland, Carmel Valley has several hotels focused on providing the atmosphere of a country retreat. Notable properties include: Bernardus Lodge, which has a lovely garden; Carmel Valley Lodge, which has suites and cottages; and Gardinerâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Resort, a tennis hotel favored by serious players. For its part, though, Quail Lodge remains a golf resort. Situated on 850 acres, Quail Lodge recently underwent a $25 million upgrade. It operates a championship18hole golf course, along with four tennis courts and two swimming pools.

Right on Carmelâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s main east-west artery of Ocean Avenue, the Pine Inn ranks as the oldest inn in Carmel. Built in 1889, the property has systematically been updated

For golf lovers, no trip to Carmel or the broader Monterey Peninsula would be complete without making the brief drive to Pebble Beach, either to take in a round of

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golf at one of several challenging links or just to relax at the resort. In fact, Pebble Beach Resorts offer golfers a choice of four different courses: Pebble Beach – the most famous – Del Monte, Spanish Bay, and Spyglass Hill.

is located between the first and second fairways at Pebble Beach. The Lodge at Pebble Beach garners consistent ratings as one of the nation’s top resorts and sits on the stunning and picturesque 17-Mile Drive.

Pebble Beach itself not only ranks as one of the nation’s tougher courses and site of prestigious tournaments, but also affords dramatic views of the Pacific. In 2005, Golf Digest magazine ranked Pebble Beach Golf Links as the nation’s No. 1 Public Course.

For its part, 17-Mile Drive remains one of the region’s major tourist attractions because it lies between the cities of Monterey and Carmel. Motoring along the route, one can see deer on the golf courses, enjoy ocean views, or stop for a picture taken in front of the famous Lone Cypress Tree. Here’s an adventurous way to hit 17-Mile Drive: Get a car from Monterey Rent-a-Roadster, located at Cannery Row. The company offers the chance to rent “authentic” reproductions of the world famous Model A Ford Roadster, Mercedes SSK, or Ford Phaeton.

Photo by www.quaillodge.com

Del Monte remains the oldest course in continuous operation west of the Mississippi and is an inland site. Designed by a team that included golf great Tom Watson, the ocean-view links at Spanish Bay conjure images of old Scotland, where the sport originated about 500 years ago. Spyglass Hill Golf Course takes its name

Quail Lodge Golf Club’s 850 acres of lush fairway and California sunshine are sure to leave a lasting impression on any golf lover.

from Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic novel, Treasure Island. Local legend maintains that Stevenson once wandered the Spyglass area gathering ideas for his novels; holes on the course are named after characters in the book. Visitors to the courses can choose from three different hotels on the grounds and more than a dozen restaurants. The Inn at Spanish Bay boasts top critical rankings and sits between Del Monte Forest and the Pacific. Casa Palermo, a Mediterranean-style enclave,

Major attractions in nearby Monterey include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the National Steinbeck Center. Whale-watching excursions are also available. Carmel seems destined to remain the crown jewel of the Monterey Peninsula and keep its status as a unique locale. The combination of scenery, the arts, fine dining, excellent shopping, and comfortable accommodations makes visiting this city and its surrounds a delightful and rewarding experience. 173

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Travel Agents vs. Luxury Consultants Traveling in Style Takes Planning in Style By Andrea Rademan

As

he waited impatiently for the arrival of the stagecoach, the young Baptist minister resolved to persuade the newly formed Midland Counties Railway Company to run a special train to the upcoming temperance meeting. And so, on July 5, 1841, he and 570 fellow campaigners journeyed the 11 miles from Leicester to Loughborough, England, and back on what turned into the first private train trip. The one shilling fee included food and a 5 percent commission for the enterprising minister, who hadn’t envisioned this as a profitable venture but was legally required to act as

middle-man. From this inauspicious beginning, years before he opened his office-travel shop on Fleet Street in London, Thomas Cook became the world’s first travel agent. The number of travel agents has risen drastically since; by 2005, the Bureau of Labor Statistics listed 88,590 travel agents in the United States alone. For an insider’s view, we turned to Sylvia Frommer-Mracky, CEO of Production Travel & Tours and a leading member of The Africa Travel Association. She is credentialed by

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the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), the Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA), the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO), the Cruise Lines International Association, Inc. (CLIA), and the International Airlines Travel Agent Network (IATAN), and has worked in all aspects of the business. According to Frommer-Mracky, “travel agent” is a generic industry term for someone who is able to handle everything involving the field of travel. They are adept at arranging group travel because they understand booking details, logistics, timing, pricing, etc., and can handle most problems. This is even more important for business and corporate travelers since agents are equipped to handle lastminute bookings, have access to consolidator fares, and may enroll their clients in frequent flyer airline and hotel programs. Large agencies may have special net rate contracts with airlines, hotels, and tour packages. Prior to computers, agents learned their craft thoroughly before setting up practice. With the rise of Internet sites such as Orbitz.com, Travelocity.com, JohnnyJet.com, etc., a growing number of consumers make their own personal flight, hotel, and/or car rental arrangements. This “do-it-yourself” travel has led to the emergence of the home-based agent, an outside contractor who is either licensed or hosted by an agency that is, she explains. They work independently, set their own hours, and are not paid a salary by the associate agency. Many specialize in a particular facet of travel such as weddings or cruises. Their clients come mainly from personal contacts, but that doesn’t preclude business success.

Enlisting the services of a luxury travel consultant ensures that your travel needs, from private car (above) or plane charters (right) to securing sought-after dinner reservations, are attended to with an extreme level of personal attention. 177

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After one of Howard Hughes’ favorite employees passed away, Hughes inquired if the bereaved widow had any plans for her future. When she expressed an interest in being a travel agent, Hughes promptly assigned her the company account, says Frommer-Mracky. Connections also counted when the president of the Pepsi-Cola Company (now PepsiCo), who was then married to Joan Crawford, wanted a particular suite for a Queen Elizabeth cruise. When he learned it was not available, he called a travel agent and made an offer: Acquire the suite and acquire the Pepsi account. He got the suite.

Photo courtesy of Sylvia Frommer-Mracky

Vivian Taylor, a home-based luxury agent whom Bill Tomicki, publisher of ENTRÉE travel newsletter, describes as a “travel designer,” works through Protravel International, Inc. Taylor got into the business when her own travel agent asked her to join his firm. “Craig Loupassakis didn’t just sell trips,” she says, “he could tell you where to find the best cappuccino in the smallest village in Italy, all from personal experience.” Taylor has dropped everything to fly to Greece to pacify a fussy client; FedExed bed pillows to a third world country and pool toys to the Caribbean; and even had a client wake her in the middle of the night to ask for the name of the guide he’d had in Florence two years earlier. “Of course there are occasional requests that I can’t fill,” she says, “like when a client asked for a window seat on the plane so they could get some fresh air.”

Photo courtesy of Bill Fischer

Taylor’s associate agency, Priscilla Alexander’s Protravel International, Inc., does billings of $450 million annually, mainly through their New York and London offices. Clients range from button-down CEOs to high flying celebrities such as the Rolling Stones, Christina Aguilera, and maestro Kurt Masur. Alexander says, “I treat my clients like family and focus more on relationships than single trips. Part of my job is getting to know them so I can better serve them. I want them not just to go, but to experience where they go, whether it’s a private visit to a museum or a private plane to Luxor. If need be, I’ll even hold their hands when they visit the pyramids — they’re pretty claustrophobic.”

Protravel, like most luxury travel agencies, belongs to a consortium. In fact they are the largest member of Virtuoso, the most prestigious of the dozens of consortia, followed in size by Signature Travel Network and Ensemble Travel Group. That’s not the case with Bill Fischer, the independent but affable man who is credited with starting the very first agency dedicated solely to luxury travel, and thereby virtually inventing the field. Fischer was working in a Brooklyn “bucket shop” in the 1970s when he noticed that high-end clients seldom got high-end treatment. These people, who had more disposable income than time, required an extreme level of personal attention, assistance that could range from concierge-type services to travel planning, of which making the actual travel arrangements was just a fraction of their special needs. Fischer saw an opening and he took it, but only after spending two frustrating years looking for backers. “When I told them what I wanted to do, my accountant was apoplectic and everyone else just thought I was out of my mind,” he says. Finally, he scraped up $5,000 from a brother-in-law, weeded out 80 percent of his clients, and threw open his doors. For five years few people went through them. He got around that by unlisting his phone number (“even on my business cards”) and adding both an enrollment fee and a $5,000 retainer. “I had to,” he says, “to dump the deadweights, the ones who make the greatest demands and then you never hear from them again.” Soon, financiers, CEOs, and celebrities from Diane Sawyer to Martin Scorsese were signing up and recommending him to their friends. Before you could say “big bucks,” his moribund venture had morphed into the original “lifestyle company,” led by “the world’s most exclusive concierge,” as he describes himself. That seems a reasonable title for someone who is reachable 24/7 from Beijing to Botswana. Need a

Right: Bill Fischer is credited with starting the first agency dedicated to luxury travel and counts the famous and the wellto-do as his clients. Far right: Sylvia Frommer-Mracky, CEO of Production Travel & Tours.

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new butler? Chef? Nanny? Liposuction? Orchestra seats to a show that’s been standing room only for six months? Done. Done. Done. Done. And done. Care to tee off with Tiger Woods or hit the courts with Anna Kournikova? Have Daniel Bouloud prepare you a private dinner, or have the fountain at the Bellagio Hotel set to splash in sync with your wife’s favorite tune? Just call Fischer – provided, of course, that you have his private number. That’s what the general manager at a five-star Manhattan hotel did when he couldn’t snare a favorite guest reservations at a sold-out sister property during peak season.

Mansour sets up shop at the Majestic Hotel and prepays half a million dollars for 100 rooms at the Hotel du Cap to ensure that his Hollywood clients, who may be white-hot one year and ice-cold the next, always receive VIP treatment. Since the time a normally prompt-paying client ran up $120,000 of debt before declaring bankruptcy, Mansour has demanded payment up front. That held true for the festival-going producer who rented a 250-foot yacht, a Cigarette powerboat, a hideaway suite at the Hotel du Cap, a five-bedroom villa, and an extra 90foot yacht for “shopping along the Riviera.” He covered his bill, $750,000 before expenses, without a hitch. Yet, even when vast sums are involved, Mansour is not above saving his clients money, as when his eagle eye spotted a $30,000 charge that he had lowered to a relatively measly $13,000.

Corniche Travel owner Anastasia Mann, pictured here with Los Angeles Dodgers announcer Charley Steiner and Tommy Lasorda at a recent Reviving Baseball in the Inner Cities (RBI) charity event, goes to great lengths to address every detail of her clients’ travels.

Fischer has flown clients to the French Laundry in Napa Valley on a private jet for hot-air balloon rides and visits to a dozen private vineyards. He arranged a $15 million wedding in Florence where Jesse Jackson officiated, Steven Spielberg escorted the bride down the aisle, and Andrea Bocelli sang. For a 40th birthday bash, he jetted guests to Morocco, where they rode on 50 camels that had been groomed with Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and had their teeth brushed with Crest. He says that such feats explain his current $100,000 enrollment fee plus $25,000 annual retainer. Business is booming. We can only surmise that, if there is something money can’t buy, that’s the only thing Fischer hasn’t found. The only other luxury travel planner who charges a retainer ($15,000 annually, plus the cost of services) is Beverly Hills-based Gary Mansour of Mansour Travel Company. “When a client has been told they cannot get what they want, I find a way,” he says. That way encompasses the annual Cannes Film Festival, where

Photo courtesy of Anastasia Mann

To protect the privacy of a famous client vacationing on a private island in the South Pacific, Mansour filed a false flight plan, then changed the itinerary at the last minute, and dummied up bills so that not even those who handled the $80,000 worth of fees knew what they covered. He even successfully petitioned the government to prohibit flyovers from any aircraft during his client’s stay. Flight arrangements are Mansour’s bailiwick. The owner of Avion Private Jet Club, LLC, has his clients met planeside and driven directly to their connection without hassles from immigration. “Since 9/11,” he says, “we’ve seen a 3,500 percent increase in business. Hijacking is no problem when you fly a private plane or charter, and there’s room to take family and friends.” Mansour’s boutique agency has grown from $50,000 a month to $25 million a year, which suits him fine. “We have no desire to grow in size,” he says, “just profits.” When she was raising money to open her agency, Anastasia Mann made an appointment at a restaurant with two well-heeled prospective investors. She happened to glance out the window just as one of them drove up in a spiffy new Rolls-Royce Corniche, followed, minutes later, by the other would-be backer, also driving a Corniche. “I decided on the spot that, whether or not they gave me the money (they did), they’d already given me the name,” says the owner of Corniche Travel. Her late client, Sidney Sheldon, wrote about his own Corniche in two of his novels. She set him up with private drivers in all corners of the world. “He would direct them to fantastic adventures that became part of his novels,” she says. “One time he ended up in a Greek jail after he asked a policeman how to blow up a car.”

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Special requests are all in a day’s work for Mann, whether it’s having a rare orchid jetted in from South America for a rock star; arranging to have maid service untuck the bed sheets at the foot of the bed before a client’s arrival; ordering custom-made Patrick Mavros silver gifts flown in from Zimbabwe; having a particular brand of soy milk brought in from Singapore when the local brand wouldn’t do; bringing blenders to the African bush for morning health drinks; stocking a suite with twist-off (rather than flip-off), bottle tops of Perrier water; and, although the local version was superior, having American fruit juice shipped to a private yacht in France. Sue Brown, of Sue Brown Travel Consultants, says, “One of my clients called from his suite in Monte Carlo. When he decided to return some wristwatches he’d purchased in Milan, he just sent them back with his driver, in an otherwise empty limousine.” The client, a California resident, had met the driver in Israel and offered him a job as his private chauffeur. Not surprisingly, when the lucky man accepted, his new employer sent a private plane to fetch him and his family. When another client held a wedding in a foreign location, he chartered a plane to the gala event. The small first-class section couldn’t accommodate all 75 guests, so the bride sat in coach with her friends, while their Vera Wang designer

Luxury Consultants.indd 182

gowns rode up front. One client called Brown’s Florida office from her Paris hotel to have her make dinner reservations – at the hotel’s dining room. Yaye Karasawa, of Travel International, has no problem handling special requests. She developed resiliency and fortitude during seven years of internment in Manzanar during World War II. After helping open the first U.S. office of Japan Airlines, she broke through the glass ceiling on her way to the penthouse, eventually escorting high level special interest groups such as the World Affairs Council and university board members on their world travels. Karasawa was once checking an elegant entourage into a hotel when a baggage cart fell on one of the guests. “I was horrified,” she says, “because she happened to be the sister of the leader of the country.” The rarity of such misadventures account for Karasawa’s more than four decades servicing generations of the same families, and with some of her original staff. Mary Ann Ramsey and Carla Malachowski, who run Betty Maclean Travel, promote multigenerational trips and once arranged for a 90-something wheelchairbound client to visit the Taj Mahal, elephant ride and all. Ramsey is one of Virtuoso’s 40-some Accredited Space Agents serving potential space tourists who’ll

5/7/07 3:15:25 PM


pay $200,000 a pop when Virgin Galactic goes into orbit. Pricey, but significantly less than the $20 million businessman Dennis Tito paid for the privilege in 2001. At Linden Travel, owner Barbara Gallay regularly furnishes her 70 percent corporate clientele with private jets, penthouse suites, and sundry special services. She diligently keeps up with ever-changing product lines, industry contacts, technology, and airline rules and regulations. After each of her research trips she prepares a digital newsletter, photos included, and posts it on the company Intranet. Recognizing the constant pressures she and her employees face, she hired a feng shui master to instill balance and harmony as part of the decor when she moved the company into new offices. As the youthful founding editorial director of Elite Traveler magazine, Stacy Small of Elite Travel Intenational saw that affluent travelers appreciate firsthand advice and are willing to pay for it. She also found that this market continues to get younger and younger and, she says, “A lot of 30- and 40-somethings prefer to work with a contemporary who understands the types of experiences that interest them.” Small, whose mother is a cancer survivor, was recently named the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s Woman of the Year. Her “Trips for

Cancer” is an annual luxury online auction that she started in 2006. The first auction raised funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. This year, all proceeds will be donated to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, started by Evelyn Lauder. She will soon launch another high-end auction, “Trips for Pink,” which will include designer products from Judith Ripka, Audemars Piguet, and Missoni. A by-product of these charitable efforts is the opportunity to mix with wealthy donors, some of whom become clients. Beverly Hills-based Miriam Rand has decades of experience in the luxury market, which has given her insight into the affluent traveler. “Wealthy clients want reliable advice, not hype, and insider information that doesn’t make the pages of typical consumer travel publications,” she says. “Travelers who own their own jets and yachts need to know the most convenient and best-equipped airports and docks. They want privacy and exclusivity, but just because they can afford the best doesn’t mean they don’t like bargains as much as everybody else.”

The author wishes to acknowledge the generous assistance of Sylvia Frommer-Mracky in researching this article.

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Travel

is fun, fascinating, and fulfilling for all of us who enjoy adventure, exploring unusual environs, and gaining a new understanding of people. With our globe shrinking because of jetliners’ speed, the comfort of ultra-modern ground transportation, and the added number of cruise liners – at least 12 coming into service in North America this year, opening new portals to us almost as quickly as we can blink an eye – we can reach almost any destination within a matter of 184

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TRAVEL SAFE

A Guide to Purchasing Travel Insurance

By Carol Oldham O’Hara

home. It’s a fact: Accidents and illness are remote possibilities, but the purchase of a quality travel insurance policy can lift burdens from our shoulders if one or the other interrupts our pursuit of pleasure. Thoughts of insurance appeared at the beginning of human society. As early as the third and second millennia B.C.E., Chinese and Babylonian traders divided their merchandise among many ships to minimize their losses should a vessel carrying their wares be lost to the seas. Early Mediterranean merchants, receiving loans to fund their shipments, paid additional funds to lenders, who agreed to cancel their loans should the merchants’ shipments be lost or stolen. Today we have insurance available to cover almost any mishap. Travel insurance – a billion-dollar industry according to a 2004 study completed on behalf of the U.S. Travel Insurance Association – is among the many types, and the plethora of these policies on the market can be mind-boggling. Presently, more than 100 different policies are available – all designed to protect you, your family, and the cost of your vacation against almost any calamity. It takes time and patience to understand companies, coverage, and exclusions to make certain you select the policy meeting your exact needs. You don’t want unpleasant surprises should you have to take advantage of the one you purchased. Did you know that before September 11, only 10 percent of travelers each year insured their travel investment? Since that infamous date, the number of sojourners purchasing policies has risen to 22 percent annually. With a telephone call or the click of a mouse, you can discern the advantages and disadvantages of each policy. However, this article’s purpose is to make your travel insurance investigation easier, should you desire insurance for a long-awaited adventure.

hours or days. Thus we spend a wealth of time seeking knowledgeable travel agents, perusing brightly-colored travel brochures, and surfing the Web to find incredible and unimagined travel destinations. Yet, while we engross ourselves in this endeavor, it’s valuable to ponder the financial and emotional consequences that a simple fall on a cement sidewalk or an unexpected illness could create while we’re far from

Before you embark upon a search, look closely at your credit card insurance coverage and your personal and family medical and automobile insurance coverage to learn how well you’re insured so your travel insurance money is wisely spent. The insurance you have through your credit card companies could surprise you, and if you’re a U.S. resident traveling within the 50 states, your own medical insurance might be sufficient. You may, however, want to play it safe and purchase secondary coverage – funds that take over when your insurance ends. If you don’t carry rental-car coverage on your personal automobile insurance policy, you may consider including it in any travel insurance policy you purchase. Do you rely on Medicare for your medical needs? If 185

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2007 Golf Digest/Golf for Women Signature House opens for tours April 2007

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Where do you want to spend the best times of your life? Nearly 100 years ago, inventor Mercer Reynolds chose a pristine wooded sanctuary as his ultimate getaway; more recently, both GOLF Magazine and Golf Digest chose to place their first-ever “ultimate golf homes” in the community that evolved from his family's vision: Reynolds Plantation. As a unique primary address or the perfect vacation home, Reynolds Plantation is a world apart, but never far away. With award-winning golf courses by Nicklaus, Fazio, Cupp and Jones and over 80 miles of shoreline on Lake Oconee, the quiet retreat of the Reynolds family is now one of the world's premier golf and lake communities - as evidenced by Reynolds Plantation having earned The Robb Report's “Best of the Best Golf Community” designation. Many owners first experienced the community through a stay at the AAA Five Diamond Ritz-Carlton Lodge, Reynolds Plantation, which overlooks 19,000 acre Lake Oconee. We invite you to visit Reynolds Plantation and discover your ultimate golf home today.

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A limited number of private golf cottages at The Creek Club, the Jim Engh-designed member-only course opening this summer, will soon be offered for sale for the first time. These luxurious cottages will offer the ultimate in convenience and service for their owners, and are available exclusively through Reynolds Plantation Realty.

For information on real estate opportunities, please contact Reynolds Plantation Realty at 866.669.5139 or visit www.reynoldsplantation.com Obtain the property report required by Federal Law and read it before signing anything. No Federal Agency has judged the merit or value, if any, of this property. Void where prohibited by law.


so, and if your travel includes destinations outside the United States, you’ll want to give serious thought to buying travel insurance. Medicare does not cover health or accident issues beyond U.S. borders. Travel insurance usually costs 5 to 8 percent of your trip expense – in most cases reimbursing you after you have paid any bills – and offers coverage for trip cancellation, trip interruption, travel delay, baggage loss, and rental-car difficulties. Also routinely covered are: accident and health emergencies; medical evacuation; dismemberment; and accidental death, whether on a plane, bus, train, taxi, or boat. Trip cancellation includes coverage for costs you’ve paid in advance for your trip if you must cancel because of illness or death (your own or that of a family member). Some policies offer reimbursement should you cancel for any reason. Trip interruption coverage pays if you must cut short your trip due to illness or death, again, your own or that of a family member. All-inclusive policies, in general, cover every one of the above contingencies. They also cover personal items damaged, lost, or stolen wherever you are in your travels. If you can’t leave home without your laptop computer, you’ll want to know the maximum amount an insurer will pay to repair or replace it. In the event you have valuables like your wallet, jewelry, or clothing lost or stolen – either on the street, on public transportation, from your car, or from your hotel room – by all means file a police report wherever the theft takes place. Later, when you replace what disappeared, be certain to keep receipts. They are invaluable documents when you file your claim.

It is critical for you to be completely aware of the financial limits and exact coverage of each category listed on your policy, including deductibles. For instance, you may be interested to know that in-flight accidents usually pay the most, because they’re lower risk, while accidental death at any other time on your trip is considered high risk and often pays the least. If necessary, ask an insurer to streamline a policy to meet your needs. If you’re a frequent traveler abroad, or if you choose to live or work abroad, you may want to consider purchasing a policy with a single annual premium. These policies’ benefits can include the costs for prescription drugs; visits to physician’s offices; hospital, surgery, and ambulance expenses; and medical evacuation should the need arise. Premiums are age- and deductiblebased. It’s possible to add optional benefits including trip cancellation or curtailment as well as accidental death to a policy of this nature. Studying outside your home country? A number of companies offer fairly inexpensive insurance for those who have the desire to broaden their knowledge in a different land. Coverage is similar to all-inclusive policies, yet you’ll find actual coverage and amounts differ among individual providers. Thoroughly research appropriate companies for your own satisfaction. If you don’t purchase an all-inclusive policy, be aware that the cost for medical evacuation, to your home or to a hospital close to home, can be prohibitive. You can purchase this type of coverage separately; it usually becomes effective if you’re 100 or more miles from home. Another option is to choose to become a member of an organization whose sole responsibility is getting you home safely. Before you decide upon the amount of coverage you’d like for this help, you may want to research the cost of emergency transportation from where you’ll be to where you’ll want to be if you’re in medical trouble. A great number of us travel in spite of health issues, and in these cases pre-existing coverage is a necessity. A pre-existing condition usually means that within 60 days prior to the effective date of your travel insurance policy, you have either received treatment or had treatment recommended for a health condition, and/or you’re taking prescription drugs for an illness or a chronic disease that is not completely controlled by medication. If you have a pre-existing condition, it’s a good idea to research travel insurers before your trip to learn how many days you have to buy insurance after making your first trip payment. It’s also prudent to carry a letter 187

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from your doctor. Another useful tip is to check with the foreign embassies of any countries where you’ll travel to make certain your prescription medications are not considered illegal substances within their boundaries. Be sure to inquire if there are age limits for the type of policy you believe you’ll need and if you’ll have dental coverage, coverage for eyeglasses, and coverage for prescription drugs you use on a regular basis. You’ll also want to know what an insurer’s guidelines are regarding the provision of funds for a family member to fly to help if you or anyone on your policy becomes incapacitated far from home. Ask about coverage for loss of frequent flyer miles, for earthquake- and weather-related problems, or acts of terrorism. Learn the reimbursement procedure that will be followed if you cancel or interrupt your trip should your personal home become uninhabitable for any reason. Natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and the Indonesian tsunami bring these considerations to the forefront, as do the terrorist acts that now occur around the world with some frequency. In these days of tour company and airline bankruptcies, you should feel free to ask which corporations are not covered for those reasons. At least one insurance company currently includes a lengthy list of major airlines and tour firms for which it no longer underwrites coverage.

Purchasing insurance through a tour company you plan to travel with, or cruise line on which you plan to sail, is not always the best cash expenditure. This coverage may – or may not – be less expensive, but your benefits might be fewer and you probably won’t be protected if the tour company or cruise line becomes insolvent. You could wind up happier if you insure your trip with an independent carrier. In most cases, it’s not astute to purchase the least expensive policy you can find, as travel insurance is normally an insignificant investment compared to the total expense of your trip. Find an insurer with a top record for offering assistance should you need it. Reputable companies will give you telephone numbers for immediate emergency assistance, and their staff can assist you in finding medical personnel who speak your language – language barriers in an emergency can be a nightmare. Ask, too, for licensed professionals who have received training in your home country – extremely important. People from different regions do not always react similarly to local medications, which could present a deadly situation. In an urgent situation, you’ll also find support from your consulate. Consular officers can help you find medical services, inform family and friends of your dilemma, and aid in transferring your funds from your home bank to where you are. 189

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AN ASIDE: Receiving foreign visitors in your United States home? It may be appropriate to suggest to them the need for travel insurance to help defray their expenses against the cost for American health care, should a medical problem arise. INSURE MY TRIP: An all-inclusive Web site that offers access to and comparisons of the major travel insurance companies and their multitude of plans. Courteous, well-informed agents answer your most personal and very important questions. Telephone: 800-487-4722. Web address: www.insuremytrip.com. U.S. TRAVEL INSURANCE ASSOCIATION: A wealth of insurance information for travelers: www.ustia.com. INTERNATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR MEDICAL ASSISTANCE TO TRAVELERS (IAMAT): Free membership organization that guides members to physicians, specialists, clinics, and hospitals in 125 countries and provides telephone numbers and payment schedules for a member’s first medical visit: www.iamat.org.

Finally, a consumer study by the U.S. Travel Insurance Association states that one out of every six people who purchase travel insurance file some type of claim. Therefore, be certain to ask potential insurers to show you how well and how quickly they pay claims. Prompt payment of your claims could go a long way in saving you from possible financial hardship – or financial ruin. As one who rarely travels around the block without travel insurance, I consider it a necessity for peace of mind while my family and I traverse unfamiliar territory for respite and relaxation. I have learned to carry our travel-insurance information right with us and to leave a copy, along with our itinerary, on my desk for those close to us not traveling with us. Have we filed claims? Occasionally for small losses – except for the one time joyriders stole our rental car from our hotel as we slept. Did our company agree to pay for the car? Yes, and with the utmost courtesy. Fortunately, the car was found intact; the insurance check never written. May you and your family always have happy travels as you explore the world – surrounded by the safety net of travel insurance.

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