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Adventure World have been handcrafting luxury holidays for Australians to all corners of the globe for over 30 years. As a premium client we want to reward you with your very own complimentary copy of Luxury Travel Magazine. We are sure the destinations featured in this issue

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t h e n e w C o n t I n e n t A L g t. A u t o m o t I v e A r t.

Bentley Adelaide 32 Belair Road Hawthorn, 5062 South Australia 08 8272 8155 Overseas model shown

Bentley Brisbane

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Chellingworth Bentley 101 Stirling Highway Nedlands, 6009 Western Australia 08 9273 3131

Lance Dixon Bentley 565 Doncaster Road Doncaster, 3108 Victoria 03 9848 9000

I nSIDe , A h A n D Cr A f teD CA BI n I nf uSeD w It h t h e L A t e S t I n t o u C h S C r e e n t e C h n o L o g y. o u t S I De , p Io n e e r I n g S u p e r-f or m e D A L u m I n I u m B oDy wor k t r A n S p or t S t h e n e w g t t o n e w L e v e L S of At h L e t IC S C u L p t u r e u n A C h I e vA B L e u S I n g t r A D I t I o n A L t e C h n I q u e S . u n D e r t h e S k I n A 6 . 0 L t w I n -t u r B o C h A r g e D w 1 2 e n g I n e p r o D u C e S 4 2 3 k w o f u n A D u Lt e r A t e D p o w e r , D e L I v e r I n g A t r u Ly e f f o r t L e S S g r A n D t o u r I n g e x p e r I e n C e .

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SUN AND SAND SEYCHELLES Our guide to Seychelles luxury.


HOTEL HIPSTERS The latest crop of New York hotels capture the spirit of the times.


CELEBRITY HOLIDAY HAUNTS We follow in the travel footsteps of A-list celebrities.


SWIMMING IN THE DEAD SEA Rejuvenate in the world’s most unusual body of water.


SKI TOWN TELLURIDE We hit the slopes in the Colorado Rockies



INSIDER Discover what’s new in luxury travel in Australia and across the globe.




DESTINATION CANADA IN WINTER There’s more to Canada in winter than skiing.

86 68 82 35


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c a n’T Ta k e you a s fa r

© 2011 Four Seasons Hotels Limited

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C o n t a c t y o u r t r av e l c o n s u l t a n t , v i s i t f o u r s e a s o n s . c o m o r c a l l (1 800) 142 163. Jo i n o u r c o n v e r s a t i o n a t f a c e b o o k . c o m / f o u r s e a s o n s a n d t w i t t e r. c o m / f o u r s e a s o n s




REGULARS 30 ONE PERFECT DAY LONDON A London stopover for contemporary art lovers. 35 TIME TO FLY - ALASKA Jump on a plane right now to experience Alaska as a summer destination. 42 MAIN EVENT Premium tickets to the Rugby World Cup, US Open and New York Fashion Week. 45 FAMILY - NORTHERN THAILAND At a mahout training camp, family fun is about more than riding elephants. 50 TO DO LIST Our pick of the best activities for your next holiday, including the world’s best spots to swim with whale sharks.

100 SAFARI - KENYA Into the wild in the Maasai Mara.


109 SAFARI - SOUTH AFRICA You can see the big five all year round in Eastern Cape Province. 114 RAIL - BANGKOK TO SINGAPORE We take the Eastern & Oriental Express between two of Asia’s great cities. 120 HIGH FLYER We test-fly business class on Qantas, Qatar and Etihad.


144 CHAIRMAN’S LOUNGE Michael Batt is now one of the world’s most influential travel entrepreneurs. STYLE

63 TOUR ANTHOLOGY Dive the Titanic, cycle through France and explore Myanmar, Southeast Asia’s hidden gem.

127 Luxury lodge chic.

77 GOLF - DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Play a few rounds on the best courses in the Caribbean.

133 We take the new, practical Ferrari FF for a spin.

90 SKI - SOUTH KOREA There’s only one place for luxury accommodation on the South Korean slopes.

137 The Great Singapore Sale is on now.

128 What to pack for a stylish lodge weekend. 130 The latest luxuries for your on board bag.

134 Latest luggage for a night, a weekend or a week away. 138 Go shopping in Italy’s design capital.

95 RESPONSIBLE LUXURY - INDIA We go on safari to see the fight to save the Bengal tiger.

Prices and rates mentioned in the editorial may change. Please check current prices with the tour operator, airline or hotel at the time of booking. All currency conversions were correct at the time of printing.

98 CULINARY DISCOVERY - YORKSHIRE This northern county is home to more Michelin stars than any other in England.

On the cover: The Banyan Tree Seychelles resort is set around Intendance Bay on Mahe Island.



If your weeks aren’t ending then maybe we can help. Start by getting out of Melbourne and heading to one of our stunning properties located in Regional Victoria. Then make yourself at home in the luxurious surroundings, indulge in the finest regional food and wine and partake in the many leisure activities on offer. And if all that doesn’t appeal, you may choose to do absolutely nothing, which also sounds like the perfect weekend. +61 3 5989 2933 +61 3 5720 5777 +61 3 9731 4000


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Susan Borham EDITOR-AT-LARGE Jenny Caspersonn EDITOR Madeleine Stratton EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Lucy Jones ART DIRECTOR Stéphanie Blandin de Chalain ADVISORY BOARD CHAIRMAN John O’Neill ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER & ADVERTISING ENQUIRIES James Air Telephone +61 2 8204 1005 Fax +61 2 9281 7529 SUBSCRIPTION ENQUIRIES 1300 MAG TRAVEL (1300 624 872) Int. +61 2 8296 5404 EDITORIAL ENQUIRIES Susan Borham Jenny Caspersonn Madeleine Stratton Lucy Jones Telephone +61 2 8204 1000 Fax +61 2 9281 7529 CLASSIFIED ADVERTISING MANAGER Virginia Shirley WEBSITE & SPECIAL PROJECTS ADVERTISING MANAGER Philip McCluskey SOUTH EAST ASIA ADVERTISING AND DISTRIBUTION REPRESENTATIVE Immedia Services Pte Ltd Peter Bakker, Telephone +65 9757 3729 Fax +65 6542 0339 PRODUCTION MANAGER Victoria Hordern DISTRIBUTION ENQUIRIES AUSTRALIA, NZ Luxury Travel Magazine Telephone +61 2 8204 1000

Produced and Published by GADFLY MEDIA ABN 86 066 598 427 Level 1, 579 Harris Street, Ultimo, NSW, 2007 Australia Telephone (612) 8204 1000 Fax (612) 9281 7529 MANAGING DIRECTOR David Hickie CEO AND PRESIDENT Gary Allen EDITORIAL DIRECTOR Susan Borham Reproduction in whole or in part is not permitted without the written authorisation of the publisher. All reasonable efforts have been made to trace copyright holders. This magazine contains general information only and does not purport to be a substitute for expert advice. All readers are advised to seek expert advice from a travel agent if considering travelling to a specific destination. The publisher and the authors do not accept any liability whatsoever in respect of any action taken by readers in reliance on the recommendations set out in this magazine. 10

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TRAVEL IN STYLE IN CARLA ZAMPATTI SPRING/SUMMER 2011 This new look from Carla Zampatti’s Spring/Summer 2011 line combines stylish design with sleek lines, and is Luxury Travel Magazine’s pick for your new smart travel outfit. Blackcurrant Linen Razor Sharp Crop Jacket, RRP A$639, Tangerine Georgette Halter Top, RRP A$319 and Coconut Linen Palazzo Pant, RRP A$399 (03 9260 9700)

The Goring’s Royal Suite The Goring hotel in London has always been a favourite of the royal family but this year its fame reached new heights when Kate Middleton booked the Royal Suite as her prewedding base before walking down the isle to marry Prince William. The suite had been refurbished and unveiled just weeks before the wedding. Designer Robert Sage successfully created a space that is opulent, glamorous and homely at the same time. Along with two bedrooms and two reception rooms, it has French doors leading onto a balcony that runs the entire length of the top floor of the hotel giving guests unparalleled views over London’s skyline. Sage filled the suite with objects that evoke Britain’s rich history including Georgian decanters, a four-poster bed, paperweights, clocks, books and tea sets. Silks were specially woven using

only the most opulent fabrics and doors, tables and bed heads were decorated with intricate inlays throughout. While the design and layout is all about old world glamour, all the usual mod cons are in place including Wi Fi, iPod docking stations and controllable air conditioning. There are also personal touches meant to add to the regal experience: personalised stationery and bathrobes, handmade chocolates, international newspaper delivery and pastries on request. Owner Jeremy Goring says that the Royal Suite is the “icing on the cake” for his hundred-yearold hotel. RATES: The Royal Suite is £5,000 (about A$7,650) per night (excluding VAT) including airport pickup. The Goring is next to Buckingham Palace in London’s West End. Katia Iervasi

DOLPHIN ISLAND Huka Retreats has now added the Dolphin Island Resort in Fiji to its collection. The resort is currently undergoing refurbishment, and its new features will include an infinity pool, updated interior design and revamped suites. It boasts beauty, luxury, and exclusivity, and will be ready to accept reservations at the end of June. Following its revised rates, prices will start from A$6,000 a night. Katia Iervasi


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[insider] Lizard Island Reborn


FATHER’S DAY PRESENT SORTED The new Sportsyear diary is the perfect gift for those who live, breathe, and love sport. The diary features more than 20,000 sporting events and caters to both the fans and the fanatics. There are dates for all the classic favourites, such as NRL, AFL and the NBL, as well as more unusual events like New York’s Hot Dog Eating Contest. Sportsyear is now taking pre-orders for Father’s Day, and the most updated version of the diary will be available at the end of the year. Priced at A$43.95 the diaries are available through Katia Iervasi

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The $3million soft refurbishment of Lizard Island, one of Australia’s most loved luxury resorts, is complete. The resort restaurant Osprey’s has been fitted out with a series of comfortable banquettes in vibrant blue fabrics for relaxed dining while gazing over Anchor Bay. New wicker couches with natural-toned fabrics plus wooden credenzas and bookshelves stocked with natural history titles offer a relaxed ambiance in the lounge area. All the suites have new all-white, super-high thread-count bedding. The lounges in the Anchor Bay Suites are re-upholstered in aqua, turquoise and coral tones while daybeds and deckchairs on their large verandas are re-upholstered in strong marine colours. New milky-glass-topped coffee tables, neutral floor rugs, and fabric hangings woven with bamboo and bark add an earthy touch. New bathrooms feature Spanish Crema Maroc limestone mixed with tiny shell fragments that have a soft, sandy feel underfoot. High on the ridge, the Sunset Point Villas, with filtered beach

views through eucalypt trees, have been enhanced with deep built-in banquettes in palm greens and light sandy tones. The decks have new solid teak armchairs and hammocks. Behind the scenes, the kitchen has been completely refurbished with executive chef Mark Jensen now at the helm delivering his signature fusion cuisine with a light tropicalisland touch. All these refurbishments aside, Lizard is fundamentally not about the built environment. It is all location, location, location and delivers the ultimate tropical island fantasy. Lizard doesn’t just have one beach, there are 24 and the resort gives guests their own motorised dinghies, packs gourmet picnic baskets and tells them to go live their romantic dreams. There are dive trips to the Cod Hole, regularly listed among the world’s top five dive sites. RATES: from A$1,698 per room per night. All prices include all food and selected alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, use of non-motorised watersports and motorised dinghies. Susan Gough Henly

If you’ve been struggling to book into the Yacht Club Villas on Hamilton Island, you’re not alone. But thankfully now more privately owned, four-bedroom villas have been made available as luxury holiday properties. The Walter Barda designed villas lie adjacent to the exclusive Hamilton Island Yacht Club and are available from A$1,350 per night for a three-night minimum stay. Prudence McKendry



The kaftan queen Camilla Franks has designed the ‘Singapore Weekender Bag’ to celebrate the Great Singapore Sale, an annual shopping event which sees prices reduced by as much as 70 per cent (see page 169 for more details). The bag has all the essential features to make it the ultimate bag for shopovers. Along with its inspired printed style, it has pocket details, leather trims, and a detachable shoulder strap. This limited edition bag retails for A$550 and will be available in early May 2012 ( Katia Iervasi

St Regis Bangkok opens

If you’re looking for a unique experience in an untouched, exotic and distant land, you’re certainly not alone according to International Luxury Travel Market (ILTM). The preliminary findings of the organisation’s latest report, The Future of Luxury Travel: A Global Trends Report, reveals the luxury travel market is back on its feet after the financial crisis and is chasing increasing demand, and travellers are steering clear of ostentatious vacations, instead opting for environmentally sustainable, culturally rich, seamless service and private experiences. This change in traveller’s attitudes has boosted interest in destinations within emerging economies. The report pinpointed the Asia-Pacific and South America as stand out emerging luxury travel markets. Although established destinations such as Japan and Australia are still holding their own, a vast number of emerging destinations are becoming hot options, such as India, Cambodia, Malaysia, Bhutan and Myanmar. In South America, Argentina and Peru are stand out new competitors in the luxury market. Although half of the ILTM buyers who were surveyed are between 45 and 55, the 35 to 44 age group is increasing its presence in the market. ILTM says this indicates luxury travellers are getting younger. The report suggests that this may be accounted for by the change in the luxury family market. Luxury travellers used to leave the kids at home, however travellers from emerging countries, particularly India, are now looking to bring the entire family along. Prudence McKendry

The long-awaited St Regis Bangkok on Ratchdamri Road, the city’s most coveted address, recently opened its doors. It has all the luxury basics covered, with a few extras. There’s a 24-hour butler on every floor who is a main point of contact throughout guests’ stay. They’ll do anything from organising limousine transport for the day, pressing your clothes, shining your shoes and even checking you in and out of the hotel. They’ll also unpack and pack suitcases probably better than you can hope to do as they’re trained to fold and pack luggage items to ensure they’re wrinkle free at the other end. The Decanter wine bar is a gentleman’s club-like setting with an extensive cellar from some of the world’s most exclusive vineyards. For foodies, the hotel houses the first Zuma restaurant to open in Thailand, emulating the original London restaurant with a lounge bar and sushi counter. Other dining options include the elegant Viu restaurant and Italian trattoria, Jo Jo. The hotel’s Elemis Spa is the first 14

in Southeast Asia and is equipped with a photographic skin analysis machine, personalised showers where you can choose your own music, single and double Thai massage rooms and couples’ suites with soaking baths. While the hotel’s enviable location has it sitting in among Bangkok’s urban jungle, there are unobstructed views of the city’s greenery and skyline. From a particular vantage point guests can watch the horse riding in the grounds of the Royal Bangkok Sports Club. According to the hotel’s general manager Andreas Oberoi, St Regis Bangkok is designed for both leisure and business travellers. It has eight meeting venues, a full business centre, premier IT and audio-visual technology and a convention services team on hand. St Regis Bangkok has teamed up with Orient-Express to offer guests special deals on a four-night train journey up the Malaysian peninsula staying at the St Regis in Singapore and Bangkok at either end. (see our story on page 138). Antonia Maiolo w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


TRAVEL IN STYLE IN CARLA ZAMPATTI SPRING/SUMMER 2011 This new look from Carla Zampatti’s Spring/Summer 2011 line combines stylish design with sleek lines, and is Luxury Travel Magazine’s pick for your new smart travel outfit. Blackcurrant Linen Razor Sharp Crop Jacket, RRP A$639, Tangerine Georgette Halter Top, RRP A$319 and Coconut Linen Palazzo Pant, RRP A$399 (03 9260 9700)

The Goring’s Royal Suite The Goring hotel in London has always been a favourite of the royal family but this year its fame reached new heights when Kate Middleton booked the Royal Suite as her prewedding base before walking down the isle to marry Prince William. The suite had been refurbished and unveiled just weeks before the wedding. Designer Robert Sage successfully created a space that is opulent, glamorous and homely at the same time. Along with two bedrooms and two reception rooms, it has French doors leading onto a balcony that runs the entire length of the top floor of the hotel giving guests unparalleled views over London’s skyline. Sage filled the suite with objects that evoke Britain’s rich history including Georgian decanters, a four-poster bed, paperweights, clocks, books and tea sets. Silks were specially woven using

only the most opulent fabrics and doors, tables and bed heads were decorated with intricate inlays throughout. While the design and layout is all about old world glamour, all the usual mod cons are in place including Wi Fi, iPod docking stations and controllable air conditioning. There are also personal touches meant to add to the regal experience: personalised stationery and bathrobes, handmade chocolates, international newspaper delivery and pastries on request. Owner Jeremy Goring says that the Royal Suite is the “icing on the cake” for his hundred-yearold hotel. RATES: The Royal Suite is £5,000 (about A$7,650) per night (excluding VAT) including airport pickup. The Goring is next to Buckingham Palace in London’s West End. Katia Iervasi

DOLPHIN ISLAND Huka Retreats has now added the Dolphin Island Resort in Fiji to its collection. The resort is currently undergoing refurbishment, and its new features will include an infinity pool, updated interior design and revamped suites. It boasts beauty, luxury, and exclusivity, and will be ready to accept reservations at the end of June. Following its revised rates, prices will start from A$6,000 a night. Katia Iervasi


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AUTUMN 2011,




Southern slope





2011, AUD$11.95

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The Seychelles has all the ingredients of an island paradise – white sand beaches, warm turquoise water and lush tropical rainforest. Jenny Koh followed in the footsteps of the royal couple to confirm that it is indeed a hotspot for those in the mood for love.

PARADISE FOUND Raffles Praslin on Anse Tamaka beach, Praslin Island opened in February 2011. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u





f my toes could talk, this is what they’d be saying: I’m in heaven. I’m on a glorious stretch of white sand in the Beau Vallon Bay, with the turquoise hues of the Indian Ocean beckoning me to come closer. From the shore I can already see right through to the bottom, and I know that I’d have plenty of company when I get in the water. So in I fall into the embrace of the Seychelles, with nothing more than a snorkel, a purple bikini and a generous dose of sunscreen. I’m quickly greeted on all sides by a curious school of scissortail sergeants and other finned residents. What a great cure for jet lag after a nine-hour flight from Singapore! The 115 islands of the Seychelles are scattered across one million square kilometres of the Indian Ocean, lying a long way (1,600 kilometres) off the African coast. Each of the islands is tiny, with a total landmass of only around 450 square kilometres. The largest island, Mahe, measures 27 kilometres long by eight kilometres wide, while the smallest islands are little more than rocky or coralline outcrops. Seychellois culture is a mix of African, Asian and European cultures with strong links to the French who colonised the uninhabited islands. Only 13 of what are known as the inner islands, and two of the outer islands, have traveller accommodation. The luxury options fall roughly into three categories: resorts, villas and private islands. Many of the big name chains operate a resort in the region, mostly on the main island of Mahe, each on their own secluded beach. Expect lush jungle, powder white sand, warm turquoise water and ultra-luxe accommodation. There are private villas that can be rented on Mahe and other islands and these generally come with a full staff. Some islands are privately owned with only a few luxury villas and can be booked out in their entirety by one party. Konman sava? says the bartender at his counter as I check out the drinks menu after my morning dip. I’m quickly reminded that I’m in a melting pot of cultures. The locals speak both Creole (which is remarkably similar to French) and English, and although many places retain French names, most signs are in English. I’m also melting under the 30-degree heat, and so my mixologist recommends me one for the ladies – a delightful concoction of passionfruit, pineapple and other fruit called Cinderella. This I gratefully sip as I nibble on the famous Seychellois red snapper. There are many ways to cook this local delicacy, but the version grilled in butter with a dash of lemongrass is to die for. With my power level back into the green, I set off to experience more of the sand and sea that the archipelago is known for. A half-hour boat ride later, I am swimming with seven-metre-wide mantas in a dive site called Shark Bank. I spend the next couple of days diving just a few of the countless sites in Seychelles – L’ilot Island, Brissare Rocks, Dragon’s Teeth – and every dive delivers with amazing visibility and a smorgasbord of corals and exotic marine life that range from turtles to mackerel and whale sharks! What my dive buddies tell me is true indeed: the Seychelles can be considered one massive dive site. When it’s time to take a break from breathing from a tank, there are other wet pursuits available. Zoom around on a jetski, get high on a parasail or go island-hopping on a yacht. Or just relax on the powdery sand and chill with a glass of SeyBrew, a local beer. These fabled islands are a lot more than first-class sun, sand and sea, of course. Just ask William and Kate. The royal newlyweds famously chose to spend some time on Descroches Island and North Island, where they could enjoy a piece of paradise all to themselves. And the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are not the first celebrities to receive the royal treatment. The Seychelles has also played host to Brad Pitt, 20

Angelina Jolie, Paul McCartney, Bill Gates, Mick Jagger, David Beckham and all the who’s who in entertainment, sports and politics. It’s not hard to see why the Seychelles is the quintessential romantic getaway. Picture this: wake up to the sight of clear turquoise waters that reach to the horizon. Enjoy a fine bubbly in your private infinity pool with the love of your life. Or order a bed and breakfast if you’d like more time snuggling in bed and whispering sweet nothings to each other. Check out the local produce such as cinnamon and breadfruit in the market in Victoria, the world’s smallest capital city, and buy a distinctively local hat made by hand from coconut fibre. Time for lunch. For authentic Creole fare, check out the classy Marie Antoinette Restaurant on the outskirts of Victoria in a colonial house. Try the distinctive Creole curries, which are big on spices such as cumin and coriander, and yet not fiery hot. The house specials include fish stew, battered eggplant, chicken curry and bat curry (yes, the fruit-eating flying fox is a local delicacy, and it tastes somewhat like a cross between chicken and beef). After more shopping for the folks back home, it’s time to head back to the resort. Take a slow stroll along the beach and feel the sand slipping between your toes as the sun goes down. Then finish your day with a candlelit seafood dinner under a shimmering blanket of stars, as you gaze into each other’s eyes and promise to remember this moment forever. Intimate, relaxed and pampered – the way a perfect honeymoon should be. It’s not just lovers who’d feel snug and protected in the Seychelles. The island republic has done an enviable job in protecting its wildlife and marine environment. All its beaches are kept in pristine condition, with crystal-clear waters and sands free of litter, and there is a clear sense of local pride in having the best beaches in the world. It’s worth noting that there’s no such thing as a private beach in the Seychelles. No resort is allowed to own its own stretch of white sand, which means all visitors and locals alike can enjoy that piece of paradise for free. From Mahe Island I take a 20-minute helicopter ride to the secondlargest island of Praslin, where I venture into the giant palm forest of the Vallee de Mai Nature Reserve. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this reserve is home to many rare species found only in Seychelles, one of which is the coco de mer – the world’s heaviest nut, which takes the perfect form of a female pelvis. Also affectionately called the “love nut”, the coco de mer is a national treasure and an embodiment of the otherworldly charm of this island paradise. And a hollowed-out specimen of the coco de mer is yours for just US$200 apiece. Just be sure to buy only those with a special tag and permit that indicates it was harvested legally. The Seychelles is also home to the Aldabra giant tortoise and some of the largest seabird colonies in the world. Formed 150 million years ago when the supercontinent Gondwanaland broke up, the Seychelles were isolated between India and Africa, leaving the islands as the splendid wildlife sanctuary that they are today. Of course, the wildlife has remained intact because human settlers only made it here as late as 1770. Another World Heritage Site to visit is Aldabra, the world’s largest raised coral atoll. Here you’ll find hundreds of giant tortoises, seabirds, mantas and hammerhead sharks (and spot a dugong or two if you’re really lucky). I head back to my resort for the last time after my whirlwind tour of the Seychelles. But before I pack my bags for the dreaded flight home, I order another Cinderella from the bartender. I tell myself someday I’ll be back – this time with my very own prince. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u




MAHE ISLAND RESORTS LE MERIDIEN FISHERMAN’S COVE Also located on Beau Vallon Bay, the Le Meridien was one of the first hotels to open in the Seychelles in 1943. It underwent a major refurbishment and reopened as a five-star resort in 2004. The 68 rooms and suites are spread across the beach or along the hillside and constructed from natural granite with traditional thatched roofs. RATES: Superior Room from A$409 per person per night including breakfast. BANYAN TREE SEYCHELLES Set around Intendance Bay in the south of Mahe Island, all 60 villas in the Banyan Tree resort feature private pools and sea views. The Presidential Villa occupies its own private cove and features an infinity pool carved from granite boulders, a large sundeck and separate living and dining pavilions. Banyan Tree properties are renowned for their spas, and at this resort eight spa pavilions are set in amongst vegetation on the hillside.

RATES: Hillside Pool Villa from A$773 per person per night including breakfast. FOUR SEASONS RESORT SEYCHELLES The 67 villas and suites of the Four Seasons spill down the hillside towards Petit Anse beach on the southwestern side of Mahe. The villas range from tree houses perched on stilts high above the bay to ocean and garden view bungalows set beside the path leading to the private beach. The five suites are set throughout the resort with the two-bedroom, 860 square metre Presidential Suite just metres from the shoreline. All are over 180 square metres and have more outdoor space than indoor. A spa and a yoga pavilion are located on the hilltop and guests can dine at one of two restaurants, or privately in their villa. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. HILTON SEYCHELLES NORTHOLME The Hilton resort is only a 25-minute drive from the international airport in Victoria, set along the secluded Beau Vallon Bay. Guests

can choose between the 90 square metre oceanfront or hillside villas or the James Bondinspired suites. The 40 villas are built on stilts and are all sea facing, with whirlpool baths and private balconies. Guests can snorkel directly in front of the resort, dine in one of three restaurants and relax at the Duniye Spa. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. MAIA LUXURY RESORT & SPA Maia’s 30 villas are set over 30 acres of tropical gardens on a private peninsula in the south west of Mahe island. Ocean Panoramic villas sit at the top of the hill with Ocean View Villas set along the slope and the Ocean Front Villas at the waters edge. For complete privacy the Maia Signature Villas are secluded and some offer direct secret access to the beach. The open-air spa pavilions are separated by natural rock formations and guests can choose from a range of flexible dining options in the restaurants, in their villas or on a private beach. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request.

LUXURY ON MAHE ISLAND Top from left: a waterfront sun deck at the Hilton Seychelles Northolme; deluxe suite at the Le Meridien Fisherman’s Cove; Intendance Pool Villa at the Banyan Tree Seychelles. Bottom: the Four Seasons resort on Petit Anse beach. 22

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ABSOLUTE WATERFRONT Banyan Tree Seychelles’ main pool overlooks the Indian Ocean. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


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SEYCHELLOIS CHIC Clockwise from left: Ocean View Pool Villa at Raffles Praslin; the Presidential Villa, Constance Lemuria; master bedroom of the Raffles Villa Suite.

“HERE YOU’RE NOT A GUEST, AS THE STAFF ARE QUICK TO POINT OUT, BUT A RESIDENT. A RESIDENT WHO GETS A 24-HOUR BUTLER SERVICE WHILE STAYING IN ONE OF 86 EXCLUSIVE VILLAS.” OTHER ISLAND RESORTS CONSTANCE LEMURIA Set on the white sand beach of Anse Kerlan on Praslin Island, this resort has 105 suites and villas all facing the ocean and surrounded by tropical jungle. The two-bedroom Luxurious Villas open directly onto the beach and feature a private swimming pool, outdoor bathtub and a Villa Master to attend to guests’ needs. Resort features include an 18-hole golf course and Shiseido spa. RATES: Junior Suite from A$493 per person per night including breakfast. RAFFLES PRASLIN SEYCHELLES Brought to you by the folks from the legendary Raffles Hotel in Singapore, this resort is set amidst the lush greenery, turquoise waters and pristine white sands on the northeastern tip of Seychelles’ secondlargest island. Here you’re not a guest, as the staff are quick to point out, but a resident. 24

A resident who gets a 24-hour butler service while staying in one of 86 exclusive villas, each of which comes with its own infinity plunge pool, an expansive pavilion and an outdoor rain shower. The resort, which opened only in February this year, is a 30-minute drive from the Praslin Island Airport. The island itself is a 15-minute flight or a 45-minute ferry ride from the island of Mahé. Lining the seaward side of the resort is Anse Takamaka, a 500-metre stretch of white sand that faces the Indian Ocean. And just minutes away is Anse Lazio, which is said to be one of the five most beautiful beaches in the world. Both offer opportunities for exploring the rich marine life that Seychelles is known for. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. SAINTE ANNE RESORT & SPA This resort on the private island of St Anne has 87 villas, 29 of them with private pools. Garden or ocean facing villas sleep two

while the Presidential Pool Villas sleep four with living areas that all open directly onto a large terrace. The Royal Villa is the finest accommodation on the island and is designed as a private residence to sleep six. The island is a favourite nesting ground for sea turtles and hatchlings can be seen on the secluded Anse Manon beach between December and March. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. DESROCHES ISLAND RESORT Located 230 kilometres south west of Mahe, Desroches is one of only two outer islands with accommodation. The 48 villas are spread around the island’s coast and range from one-bedroom Beach Suites to four-bedroom Luxury Beach Villas and the palatial 750 square metre Presidential Villa. The island has a private airstrip and is reached by charter flight from Mahe. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

A R oom with aV iew‌ and a T errace


A Club Terrace Room at The Langham, Melbourne. A private haven for those who delight in fresh air, the sanctuary of a spacious terrace and views of the city skyline and beyond. To reserve a Club Terrace Room call 1800 858 662, email Auckland




Hong Kong


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YOUR OWN PRIVATE ISLAND Top from left: a private pool in one of Frégate Island’s villas; colonial-style villa on Cousine Island; North Island coastline. Bottom: Cousine Island from the air.


PRIVATE VILLAS There are a number of private villas available for rent on Mahe. Villa 108 is a four-bedroom luxury villa with direct views on Takamaka Beach on the south west coast. The villa is serviced by a chef, maids and villa manager. Residence on the Rocks is a private villa within the grounds of the Banyan Tree resort on Intendance Bay. This villa is fully staffed and offers the privacy of your own property with all the facilities of a resort. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request.

PRIVATE ISLANDS NORTH ISLAND Will and Kate booked out this entire exclusive island for their honeymoon and it is regarded as one of the most beautiful in the country. 26

The five secluded beaches offer complete privacy and there’s an abundance of marine life. The all-inclusive resort has only 11 villas and there are 130 staff on hand to serve a maximum of 18 guests at a time. All villas have private swimming pools and sun decks, butler service and beach buggy to get around the island. The best villa is the 450 square metre Villa North Island, tucked away from the rest in the Takamaka Forest on the northern end of Anse d’Este beach. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. FRÉGATE ISLAND PRIVATE Frégate Island’s 16 tropical villas are positioned to maximise ocean views and ensure absolute privacy. Each features a private infinity pool, large terrace, Jacuzzi and indoor/outdoor living areas. The three-bedroom Presidential Villa sits on a plateau high above the eastern shore of

the island and can be reached only by a private path. A private butler is assigned to each villa for individualised service. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. COUSINE ISLAND Cousine has only four luxury villas and guests are encouraged to rent out the entire island for their own private use. Each villa features a king bed, indoor and outdoor showers, double verandahs and private Jacuzzi. The main pavilion houses the dining area, gym, library and spa. There is a strong focus on eco-tourism and all profits from tourists are put back into conservation on the island. RATES: Prices available from Adventure World on request. This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

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ISLAND HIDEAWAY Frégate Island’s 16 villas are scattered throughout lush jungle.


The Seychelles sits between four and 10 degrees below the equator so the weather is always warm there with average temperatures between 24 and 32 degrees year round, and all but the southernmost islands are out of the cyclone belt unlike neighbouring Mauritius. The weather is generally dictated by the trade winds – the northwest trade winds bring warmer, wetter weather from October to April while the southwest winds bring cooler, drier weather from May to September. The southwest winds can make the sea rough and choppy, so you’ll need to find protected beaches for the best swimming or diving. December to March are the wettest months of the year, though the islands still receive around six hours of sunlight a day. The weather can be unpredictable at any time of year, though bad weather and heavy rain is unlikely to last long. The best time to visit the Seychelles can depend on how you plan to spend your trip. Keen sailors, surfers and windsurfers are advised to visit between May and September when the trade winds are stronger. Divers and snorkellers should visit in April or October when the winds are in turnaround. The seas are calm with temperatures around 29 degrees and visibility can be up to 30 metres. The Seychelles fly-fishing season runs from October to May and is best in the outer islands like Alphonse or Desroches. 28


Emirates flies direct to Dubai from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth and Brisbane daily. From Dubai there are daily direct flights to the Seychelles, though the flights on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday allow the best connections from Australia as they leave later in the morning and don’t require an overnight stay. Total travel time including the stopover is around 21 hours. Return economy fares start from A$2,786 and business class from A$9,286. Air Seychelles operates direct flights from Singapore once a week departing on Friday and returning on Wednesday. Return economy fares start from US$673 (about A$633) and business fares from US$1,652 (about A$1,554). Singapore Airlines offers daily direct flights to Singapore from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide. Return economy fares start at A$1,118 and business fares at A$4,228. The total flight cost is around A$1,751 for economy and around A$5,880 for business. With stopovers the total travelling time from Australia is around 20 hours. Qatar Airways and Air Austral also operate flights from Australia to the Seychelles via Doha and Reunion Island respectively. However flight timing requires passengers to spend at least one night in the stopover city before they can continue on. These airlines may be a good option if you are continuing your journey from elsewhere

in the Middle East or Indian Ocean. Etihad Airways will commence flying to the Seychelles from their base in Abu Dhabi on 1 November this year, pending government approval. Etihad offers a number of direct fights from Sydney and Melbourne to Abu Dhabi daily. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.


Air Seychelles operates interisland flights between Mahe and Praslin. The flight takes only 15 minutes and return airfares are around US$200 (about A$188). L’Air Dezil operates interisland helicopter flights between all the major islands as well as resort transfers on Mahe itself. Resort transfers on Mahe cost between c360 and c400 (about A$492 to about A$547) per helicopter with up to four passengers each way. Transfers to Praslin, North Island, Fregate Island, Cousine Island and La Digue Island cost between c700 and c900 (about A$957 to about A$1,230) per helicopter each way and transfers to Bird and Denis Islands, 90 kilometres to the north, are about c1,800 to c2,000 (about A$2,461 to A$2,735) per helicopter each way. A number of ferries and charter boats also operate between the islands and can be arranged through resorts at the time of booking. n w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

HAUNCH OF VENISON Founded in 2002, this London gallery now has branches in Berlin and New York. 30

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Contemporary art lovers are spoilt for choice in London. Beatrice Spence narrows it down and spends a perfect art day in the British capital.


he Dorchester is within easy reach of Heathrow and its location opposite Hyde Park is perfect for a weekend of gallery visiting in London. It first opened in 1931 on Park Lane and has accommodated over the years numerous celebrities including Winston Churchill during the World War II years, Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and more recently Nicole Kidman. As London was abuzz with royal wedding fever, it seemed appropriate to stay at a hotel whose dĂŠcor was steeped in the English tradition of floral comfort, and importantly for the bleak winter season, apparently has the deepest baths in London. Our suite was large and comfortable with a four-poster bed and a spacious bathroom built in Italian white marble in the art deco style of its construction

behind Fortnum & Masons and either a five-minute cab ride from the gardens, or a 15 minute walk. With galleries in Berlin, New York and London, Haunch of Venison has constantly changing exhibitions of internationally renowned contemporary artists with work available for sale. Often the exhibitions are quirky, fun installations such as the oversized felt octopus-like piece in the stairwell by Portuguese artist Joana Vasconcelos. Around the corner in Sloane Square is Saatchi Gallery, started by advertising guru Charles Saatchi but who is now perhaps better known for his involvement in launching the careers of many of the Young British Art artists who dominated the international art scene of the nineties such as Damien Hurst. Likewise Saatchi Gallery continues to show relatively unknown British and

DECIDING ON A MORNING WALK WE SIMPLY CROSSED THE ROAD ON FOOT TO BE IN THE EXTENSIVE GARDENS OF HYDE PARK. THERE WE CAME ACROSS A SERIES OF INSTALLATIONS BY RENOWNED LONDON SCULPTOR ANISH KAPOOR. date, both overlooking Hyde Park. As we came and went over the next two days we noticed that the suite next door had 24-hour body guards and we had great fun imagining who this well guarded guest might be. Deciding on a morning walk we simply crossed the road on foot to be in the extensive gardens of Hyde Park. Walking through Kensington Gardens, as well as passing the famous Peter Pan sculpture, we came across a series of installations by renowned London sculptor Anish Kapoor who seems to be very popular at the moment with 2010 seeing his work exhibited across Europe, including at the Guggenheim Bilbao. Using reflective surfaces, the sculptures, such as Sky Element, isolated facets of the surrounding environment. The show was organised by the Serpentine Gallery, which specialises in exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. Situated in the park near the Serpentine Lake, the gallery has constantly changing exhibitions. Next stop is Haunch of Venison, which is in Burlington Gardens,

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international artists and is always worth a visit to see the latest acquisitions and exhibitions (all exhibitions are free). From Saatchi you may want to either head to the National Gallery and ogle all the paintings you have only ever seen reproduced in books and have some lunch in nearby Convent Garden or for more contemporary British art venture down to the Southbank cultural area to the Hayward Gallery. Hayward Gallery opened in the sixties and has an ongoing changing exhibition programme and hosts shows such as Young British Art, and from mid May this year will run a survey show on artist Tracy Emin until the end of August. Last stop of the day is the spectacular Tate Modern also located at Southbank. Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron’s Tate Modern is a minimalist conversion of the Bankside power station and has been so successful that although originally designed for 1.8 million visitors a year, the gallery now receives over four million. The spectacular Turbine Hall is the huge



LONDON FOR ART LOVERS Main image: the front of the Serpentine Gallery. Inset from left: Tracey Emin exhibition at the Hayward Gallery; Meekyang Shin Translation Ghost Senses; Anish Kapoor, Sky Mirror, Red 2007, Installation view Kensington Gardens, London (28 September, 2010 - 13 March, 2011).



TATE MODERN HAS A CONSTANTLY CHANGING PROGRAMME OF WORLD CLASS EXHIBITIONS WITH A RETROSPECTIVE OF MIRÓ RUNNING UNTIL LATE SEPTEMBER. entrance hall to the Tate Modern that is over five stories high, with 3,400 metres square of floor space. It was designed to house large-scale works by contemporary artists and each year an installation/sculpture is commissioned as part of the Unilever series. In addition to the permanent collections, which are displayed by themes rather than the more traditional methods of movement or chronology, the Tate Modern has a constantly changing programme of world class exhibitions, with a retrospective of Miró running until late September this year. After a recovery soak in the best bath ever back at the Dorchester we end up in Soho at Barafina for dinner. Barafina opened a couple of years ago to rave reviews and we wanted to see if they still held. Located on


Frith Street, apart from a few tables outside, diners are seated at a long bar. No bookings are taken and a long queue runs alongside the bar and out into the street. The queue is kept content by a waiter plying them with a good selection of Spanish wine and antipasti and everyone develops an appetite seeing the selections of tapas being brought out. Specials included dishes such as fresh over-sized Mozambique prawns and regular favorites such as sardines a la plancha and tortilla. A stand out was the lamb cutlets with parsnip puree. The dishes were defined by their freshness and the quality of produce. My dining companion who had recently been in San Sebastian, which is renown for its tapas, thought Barafina’s had the edge and was worth the London prices. n

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Goes Beyond the Red Carpet Real travel finds the story in every stay. Choose Summit Hotels & Resorts to discover the heart of the action and the flavors of culture. Like your own global concierge, the collection offers an insider adventure at more than 140 unique hotels. Start at

T IME T O FLY A L A S KA SUMMER IN THE FAR NORTH Tutka Bay Lodge is on the shores of Kachemak Bay, near the seaside town of Homer, Alaska.


summer cool Escape the chill this winter and head north, far north, to the wild and mild Alaskan summer. Antonia Maiolo reports on two of the best luxury wilderness properties in the Southcentral region of the largest US state.

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ith a coastline longer than those of all the other US states combined, huge mountains, lots of wildlife and more than three million lakes, the wilderness of Alaska is the state’s major draw-card for international travellers. But while many think of Alaska as being all about snow, ice and glaciers, the Alaskan summer offers travellers great hiking, kayaking, swimming and wildlife viewing over long and comfortably temperate days. Here are two great luxury lodges to host an outdoorsy Alaskan holiday.

Tutka Bay Resort Tutka Bay Resort is 16.7 kilometres from the seaside town of Homer along the Kachemak Bay. The lodge offers full service lodging, guide services and an array of activities including watching sea otters, whales, sea lions, porpoises and seals, fishing from the lodge dock, learning about Alaska’s history and wildlife, learning to kayak, cooking classes, morning yoga, complimentary massages and once guests have returned from hiking and bush trail walks they can soothe tired muscles in the sauna. There are various out-of-camp adventure opportunities such as berry picking and hiking at Kachemak Bay State Park, a tour of the shoreline by boat, a visit to an oyster farm and opportunities to explore the nearby village of Seldovia. ACCOMMODATION There are eight types of cabins available, and each provides guests with panoramic views of the bay, ocean and mountains. Cabins can accommodate from two to seven guests and include a sitting area, wet bar and large deck/balcony. Three-day/two-night packages start from A$1,999 per person and include water taxi to and from the lodge, all meals, guide service and lodge-based activities. At an additional cost the lodge can arrange transportation to and from Homer from other destinations such as Anchorage. GETTING THERE Once guests arrive at the small town of Homer they catch a water taxi

to Tutka Bay Resort which is a 25-minute ride across Kachemak Bay. Transportation to and from the lodge via water taxi is included in accommodation costs and can be arranged prior to arrival.

Winterlake Lodge The secluded Winterlake Lodge is set along the historic Iditarod Trail overlooking Winter Lake, 318 kilometres north of Anchorage. Open year round, the property has an outlook onto the Trimble Glacier and Wolverine Mountain. Winterlake Lodge offers both out-of-camp and lodge-based activities for guests. The lodge-based activities include hiking along the Iditarod Sled Dog Trail, hiking Mt McKinley and Red Lake, exploring trails and gardens, bird watching, kayaking and canoeing, swimming in the lake and cooking classes. For out-of-camp activities guests can explore the wildlife and scenery from the lodge’s Robinson R-44 helicopter, as well as go glacier trekking, white-water rafting, sport fishing and panning for gold, all of which the lodge will organise. ACCOMMODATION There are five different types of guest cabins available with the largest cabin accommodating up to seven people. Each cabin has private bedrooms, private bathroom, a living room, porch, lake views and woodstove heating. Three-day/two-night packages start from A$2,451 per person and include air transportation to and from Anchorage International Airport, air transportation to and from activity destinations, lodging, meals, individual guide service and use of lodge equipment. GETTING THERE A small floatplane flies guests from Anchorage to Winterlake Lodge, landing on Winter Lake. Air transportation is included in the accommodation rates and flight reservations, dates and times can be arranged with the lodge staff. n This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.

EXPLORE THE ALASKAN WILDERNESS This page: Tutka Bay Lodge looks out over the Kachemak Bay State Park. Opposite page from left: reach remote areas by helicopter; Winterlake Lodge is set along the historic Iditarod Trail; Alaska is famous for its fishing. 36

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For out-of-camp activities guests can explore the wildlife and scenery from the lodge’s Robinson R-44 helicopter.



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WHEN TO GO The short summer period from June to mid-August is a great time to visit Southcentral Alaska as the weather is warmer, but not hot, and on average around 18 degrees Celsius during the day. At this time of year the days are extremely long and the sun shines for up to 19 hours a day.

GETTING TO ALASKA V Australia operates flights to LAX daily from Sydney, four times a week from Brisbane and three times a week from Melbourne. Return economy fares start from A$2,584 and return business fares start from A$9,432. The airline code-shares with Alaska Air for daily flights from LAX to Anchorage.

Return economy fares start from US$384 (about A$362) and return business from US$1,494 (about A$1,407). Homer can be reached by a 40 minute flight from Anchorage operated by Era Aviation, partners with Alaska Air. Return economy fares start from of US$256 (about A$243) and there are four flights per day.

Macau Government Tourist Office Lvl 11, 99 Bathurst Street Sydney NSW 2000 T: 02 92641488 37




winter wonderland Canada in winter isn’t only about skiing. Lucy Jones finds dog sledding and snowmobiling tours at the luxury end, and an eight-kilometre ice-skating run.

ICE-SKATING Skating is Canada’s favourite winter pastime. Most Canadians learn to skate when they learn to walk. Each year around December hundreds of ice rinks begin to appear on frozen ponds, lakes, playgrounds and sporting fields in the middle of major cities. In Toronto skaters can choose from more than 50 rinks, including the popular rink in Nathan Philips Square in the centre of town outside the city hall buildings. In Montreal the Quays Skating Rink has excellent views of the St Lawrence river and Old Montreal and each night features a different music and light theme. The Rideau Canal in Ottowa becomes the world’s largest outdoor skating rink at almost eight kilometres long. The frozen canal begins at the steps of the Canadian parliament buildings and runs through the centre of the town. Along the way there are rest areas with log fires and hot drinks and even an outdoor art gallery on the ice featuring original works from young Canadian artists and photographers. Further afield there is the opportunity to skate in some of Canada’s stunning natural environments. Lake Louise in Alberta, in the south-west of the country, freezes over every year between December and March. Skaters skate against the backdrop of the Victoria Glacier and Rocky Mountains. The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, which is right on the shore of the lake, organises skating for hotel guests. The lake is cleared of snow every morning and separate rinks are set up for free skating and for games of ice hockey or broomball (a game similar to field hockey but on ice, where players wear rubber soled shoes rather than skates). The hotel chefs create a huge ice castle from blocks of ice and the rink is filled with ice sculptures each year in January during the Ice Magic Festival. The Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge also offer iceskating on natural lakes in their grounds. Skating takes place from early December through to April if the weather stays cold enough for ice. Most rinks are free though some will charge an entry fee, usually less than C$10 (about A$10). Bring your own skates or hire them from the rinks for around C$10-20 (about A$10-20). Be warned – most of the Canadians skating will be very good so you’ll have to stay out of the way of teenagers performing triple axles. 38

DOG SLEDDING Thunder across Canada the way the pioneers did, albeit with the modern comforts of fur lined sleeping bags and heated tents or luxury lodges. Tours run across most of the country, through the thousands of kilometres of uninhabited Canadian wilderness. It’s generally two to a sled with one passenger sitting and one standing. The sleds are pulled by teams of between five and 10 dogs depending on the conditions, the duration of the tour and the weight of the sled. Guests are in charge of their own sled and will be driving the dogs themselves after a little training. You’ll need warm waterproof gear and boots, but these can be hired from tour companies. The tours range from a one or two hour taster trip to overnight tours and weeklong expeditions through the Arctic Circle or the Canadian Rockies. Adventure World can organise four-hour dog sledding tours departing from Banff for A$195 per person and sixhour tours departing from Jasper for A$354 per person. Accommodation on multi-day trips can be basic due to the remoteness of the area, though luxury camping options are becoming more common. Guests can stay in permanent camps that have been established along some of the more common routes, though at the most remote points camping may be the only option available. Tour companies will generally provide you with specially designed camping gear to ensure you stay warm and dry in the below-freezing conditions. In recent years there has been concern over the ethics of dog sledding, particularly after the revelation that a company in Whistler had slaughtered a large number of dogs when the tourist trade fell off following the Winter Olympics. Reputable tour providers will be committed to the humane and ethical treatment of their dogs. Dogs should be fed high quality food, have lots of human interaction, comfortable sleeping kennels and a happy home when their sled-pulling time comes to an end. Check with your tour provider that they have operational policies in place to ensure the responsible care and humane treatment of their sled dogs. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE Lake Louise in Alberta is one of hundreds of natural ice rinks that form each winter around the country.

Lake Louise in Alberta, in the south-west of the country, freezes over every year between December and March. Skaters skate against the backdrop of the Victoria Glacier and Rocky Mountains.

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SNOWMOBILING For something a little faster, you might like to hit the trails and untouched backcountry on a snowmobile. Originally designed as a utility vehicle that could access areas covered in snow, snowmobiles are now widely used in Canada for recreation. They run on ski-like tracks and are built to take one driver and occasionally a passenger though there is an overall weight restriction of around 200 kilograms. High performance snowmobiles can reach speeds in excess of 200km/h, though first timers are well advised to take it easy. Speeds on tours are generally restricted to a maximum of around 70km/h which is still fast enough to zip between snow covered trees, plough through fresh powder and race across frozen lakes. Like dog sledding, snowmobile tours can run for a couple of hours up to multi-day tours

staying in lodges or chalets. If you’ve had some previous experience on a snowmobile, make sure you take advantage of the the more advanced tours on offer. These will take you to places that the beginner tours don’t go, like the only high alpine bowl in Whistler, and you’ll be given more free reign with your Skidoo. Adventure World can organise a snowmobiling day tour departing from Whistler. The tour lasts for three hours and prices start from A$172 per person. If one day isn’t enough, they also arrange threeday/four-night snowmobiling adventures that depart from Revelstoke or Kelowna. Prices start from A$2,734 per person. These Adventure World tours and activities can be booked through your Travel Agent.

CROSS COUNTRY CANADA Main image: dog sledding across Canada’s barren winter landscape. Inset: plough through fresh powder on a high powered snowmobile.

GETTING THERE Air Canada flies direct from Sydney To Vancouver daily. Return business class flights start from A$9,672 and economy from A$2,880. From there it has connecting flights onto numerous other Canadian cities including Toronto, Montreal and Ottowa. These internal flights cost between A$1,936 and A$1,942 return for business class and between A$710 and A$889 for economy. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent. 40

WHEN TO GO Winters in Canada are cold. Really cold. Temperatures fall below zero across most of the country and in regions near the Arctic the average temperature can stay below zero for seven months. Snow starts to fall in Canada in late October and the season can sometimes stretch through until May depending on the region. Between November and March visitors can expect good snow cover and solid ice across most of the east and north of the country. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

Runs that run. And run. (And run.) Revelstoke, British Columbia

243 ratings


Posted 4:13pm (Aug 12, 2010)

Sweet. Revelstoke’s longest run is 15.2km! Revelstoke Mountain Resort/Selkirk Tangiers Heli Skiing. Photo credit Doug Marshall.


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Rugby World Cup

US Open 2011

Indian F1 Grand Prix

New Zealand

New York City, USA

New Delhi, India


29 AUGUST – 11 SEPTEMBER, 2011

27 – 31 OCTOBER, 2011

The premier international rugby union event is in New Zealand this September and October. After another four year wait, rugby fanatics the world over will watch their favourite teams battle it out to win the Webb Ellis Cup. To truly experience the fervour, head straight to New Zealand. This is the largest sporting event to ever be held in New Zealand and twelve cities will play host to matches between twenty teams. The nation is gearing up for the event with many premium packages still available, and many already sold out.

Witness the final Grand Slam tournament of the year at the US Open. Commencing on 29 August the tournament is held over a two-week period with the main court located at Arthur Ashe Stadium. Tennis players from around the world will compete for millions of dollars in prize-money in five different event championships: men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. Spectators can expect to see tennis greats like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Kim Clijsters battle it out for the grand title.

Experience the thrills of car racing as India hosts the Formula One race at the Indian Grand Prix in 2011. The race will be held at the Buddh International Circuit in Greater Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India. The first racing event is scheduled to commence on 30 October as the 17th race of the Forumla One season. The addition of an Indian GP to the F1 calendar makes 2011 a 20-race season, the longest in the history of the sport. This is an opportunity for motor sport enthusiasts to experience a new generation of Formula One racing in a new and exciting continent.




The semi-finals and finals cruise aboard the ms Volendam departs Sydney for Auckland on 14 October. Prices start from A$9,300 per person with upgrades available for game ticket categories and accommodation. Package includes category B tickets to both semi-finals, the bronze final and final as well as five-star accommodation, all meals, 24-hour room service and entertainment on board the cruise liner.

Horizon Holidays Small Group Tours & Private Journeys is offering exclusive access to this prestigious tennis tournament. The five-day tour begins on 9 September. Guests will have Loge Box seats and private transfers to and from game locations. There are also private guided tours of New York City with dinner at historical jazz clubs and accommodation at the renowned Plaza Hotel. Prices range from US$6,895 (about A$6,364) per person.

UK company MotoExpress is specialising in Grand Prix packages for the Indian GP. Arriving on 27 October, guests stay a total of four nights at the five-star Hyatt Regency Hotel and Spa, New Delhi. Packages include breakfasts, Thursday pit lane walk and evening reception party, Friday circuit transfers, sightseeing tour of Delhi and main grandstand weekend ticket. King, double or twin rooms are £1,836 (about A$2,795) per person and king single rooms are £2,581(about A$3,929) per person.


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Ubud Writers and Readers Festival

Mercedes Benz Fashion Week

Auckland Art Fair

Bali, Indonesia

New York City, USA

Auckland, New Zealand

5 – 9 OCTOBER, 2011

8 – 15 SEPTEMBER, 2011

4 – 7 AUGUST, 2011

The Ubud Writers and Readers Festival brings together authors and readers from Indonesia and the world to share stories and ideas, foster international awareness of Indonesian literature and to create opportunities for Indonesian writers to present their work to the global market. In its eighth year, the theme of the festival for 2011 is Cultivate the Land Within. Australian Professor Tim Flannery will be a guest at this year’s event, along with American-based authors Junot Diaz and Janice Lee. The festival encompasses a range of free and ticketed events around Ubud.

For those with a passion for fashion New York Fashion Week is an excellent opportunity to get the first look at the latest trends in designer wear. The Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week is a major fashion industry event that runs for approximately one week, showcasing the latest high-end designs by famous designers such as Oscar de la Renta, Zac Posen, Badgley Mischka, and others who use this event to introduce their new styles. The runway shows are always star-studded events and attendees can expect to experience the best in fashion seated among A-list celebrities and socialites.

There’s something of a boom in New Zealand art at the moment. It’s exciting, brave and definitely world-class. You can see the best on offer at the Auckland Art Fair. It’s small – only 40 of the top galleries from New Zealand and Australia are invited – but this tight edit also guarantees the quality is there. This year you’ll see work by old favourites like Francis Upritchard and Shane Cotton as well as up-and-comers like Elliot Collins, Sam Harrison and Roberta Thornley. Enjoy daily panel discussions, artist talks, guided tours and interactive project spaces.




The Amandari resort, where many festival authors stay, is offering three- or six-night festival packages including airport and festival event transfers, breakfast and attendance at a cocktail party and conversation with author Alexander McCall Smith on 8 October. Three-night packages start from US$2,250 (about A$2,121) for a Village Suite and US$3,450 (about A$3,252) for a Pool Suite. Six-night packages start from US$4,500 (about A$4,242) for a Village Suite and US$6,900 (about A$6,504) for a Pool Suite.

On Point Events is offering exclusive VIP tickets for the spring/summer shows from 8 September. Guests will stay four nights at a five-star hotel with airport tranfers to and from the hotel, reserved VIP invites to two designer fashion shows, a backstage pass to meet models and designers, eight-hour limousine service transporting guests from the event venue to VIP afterparties, and gourmet dinner and drinks. Prices start from US$6,900 (about A$6,445) per person, double occupancy.

It goes without saying you’ll want to be at the opening. Known as the vernissage, it’s when the socialising and serious champagne drinking happens. But the smart collectors get in early at the exclusive collector’s preview. Purchase a collector’s package, which also includes tickets to the vernissage and the keynote lecture, given this year by Knight Landesman. The package will also give you access to all four days of the fair, plus entrée to the VIP lounges and costs NZ$300 (about A$229).

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ELEPHANTS Being borne aloft an elephant in Thailand was too much of a travel clichĂŠ for Amanda Woodard so she took her family to a mahout training camp near Chiang Mai where they did a lot more than just ride the elephants.

UP CLOSE AND PERSONAL Ride, bathe and swim with elephants on a mahout course at the Anantara Golden Triangle. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u



here are three ways to mount an elephant. The first sees the elephant bending one front leg allowing you to stand on its knee, grab its ear and pull yourself up. For the second approach, the elephant puts its head to the ground and you leapfrog over the trunk onto its neck and then swivel round to face forward. The third and most heart-stopping, is when the elephant lies on its side and you lie down astride it, gripping on to the ears while it then hauls itself up. I know this because I’ve tried it – although I’m glad it was only my family who witnessed my ungainly attempts. Riding elephants in northern Thailand is almost a cliché, to be ticked off the tourist list of Things You Must Do and it was definitely top of my children’s itinerary on our month long trip. But simply being borne aloft on a seat, like some latter-day Maharaja, was not what I was after, so the mahout training camp at the Anantara resort in the Golden Triangle really caught my eye. Mahout are experts in rearing and training working elephants to shift lumber. But many mahout are forced onto the streets of Bangkok and Chiang Mai as there’s more money to be made hawking elephants to the tourists. Rescuing an elephant from these conditions simply deprives the mahout of their livelihood so at Anantara, a village has been built to accommodate not only the animals but the mahout and their families. For guests at Anantara, learning how to handle and care for elephants is not only great fun, it helps to pay for the animals’ upkeep. In their village, the women operate a silkworm farm, weaving the silk on looms. My son Theo, 10 and daughter, Ava, eight became fluent in Thai commands for forwards: “by”, backwards: “toy”, turn: “ben” and most importantly, stop: “how”. Riding an elephant bareback through the rainforest with no helmet probably breaks a hundred Australian health and safety rules but these are gentle giants and riding them like this, instead of on seats, is a real privilege. At the end of the day the elephants headed to the river for bathing and, still astride, we entered the water,


scrubbing brushes in hand. Ava’s elephant rolled over dunking her in and making her scream with laughter while my husband had an elephant that filled its trunk and sprayed him repeatedly. If I hadn’t been laughing so hard I might have taken a more steady video. Elated after our day, we watched the mist roll in across the plains of Laos and Burma, both countries visible from the rooms and terraces at Anantara. Part of the reason for our trip was that my husband and I have fond memories of visiting northern Thailand as backpackers more than 20 years ago. We wanted our children to experience all the exoticism of the culture. Even breakfast became an adventure, tasting strange fruits like dragon fruit, pink and lime-green rambutans and the evil-smelling durian. A relatively new crop to Thailand – coffee – has led to a profusion of much-welcome coffee shops and has gone a long way in replacing opium in the north. By contrast, rice has been planted here for millennia. The Lanna Kingdom or “land of a million rice fields” as it was known, was a state in what is now northern Thailand between the 13th and 18th centuries and the crop remains central to the culture and landscape. Heading south to Chiang Mai, the Four Seasons resort has been landscaped entirely around paddy fields and offers the chance to learn more about rice planting. At first we could do no more than watch the gardeners from the luxury of a plunge pool outside our guest pavilion. The buildings’ steeply pitched wooden roofs and ornate latticework are complemented by towering teak trees and a profusion of flowering heliconias, orchids and passion flowers. Paradise is an overused word in travel articles but this resort truly merits the description. The time came for us to get our hands dirty in paradise though, so one morning I tore the children away from the swimming pool to don gumboots, loose denims and coolie hats as we followed two very indolent but decorous water buffalo – one black the other albino – down to the paddies. Up to our calves in sinking mud (the hardest part was moving through

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ELEPHANTS ON PARADE This page: a mahout and his elephant. Opposite page: splashing around in the river.

Ava’s elephant rolled over dunking her in the water and making her scream with laughter while my husband had an elephant that filled its trunk and sprayed him repeatedly. If I hadn’t been laughing so hard I might have taken a more steady video. the paddy while trying not to fall over) we embed shoots of rice in straight rows. We also learned to thresh and sieve the grains, throwing them into the air and catching them using straw trays. I expect full marks if the children ever have to do a school project on rice! For anyone interested in learning to cook traditional Thai dishes, there’s an excellent cookery school on-site that uses fresh herbs and spices grown in the grounds. Leaving this rural idyll behind, we returned to Bangkok by train. The flight from Chiang Mai to the capital takes little more than an hour but the overnight rail journey is more fun. We booked adjoining family cabins in first-class complete with en-suite sinks. The children enjoyed having dinner served in our cabin and seeing the porter transform their seating into sleeping compartments. After a good night’s sleep, we drew the curtains to watch Bangkok wake to another day. Many w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

families live in makeshift homes built right up to the track, a sobering reminder that despite enjoying nearly four per cent growth, not everyone in Thailand is benefiting from the economic boom. One example of Bangkok’s growth since I was last there in the 1990s is the number of glitzy shopping malls that have sprung up full of hip young Thais. At the elegant riverside Peninsula hotel, they offer a treat for all aspiring teens called Diva for a day. In stark contrast to all of our close encounters with nature, my very un-girlie daughter surprised me by saying this is what she’d really like. One chauffeur ride later and she was choosing nail colours for her toes and then it was onto the hairdressers where her straight bob was teased into curls. “We make you look (like) a Barbie,” the hairdresser told her rather off-puttingly. Pampered to within an inch of her life, what was the verdict? “I can’t wait to show my school friends…. but I’d rather be dunked by an elephant.” n 47


STAY ANANTARA GOLDEN TRIANGLE RESORT & SPA RATES: Deluxe room from A$340 per room per night including breakfast. Stay three nights pay two unitl 31 October, 2011. FOUR SEASONS RESORT CHIANG MAI RATES: Garden Pavilion room from A$740 per room per night including breakfast. Saty three nights pay two until 31 October, 2011.

PENINSULA BANGKOK RATES: Grand Deluxe room from A$354 per room per night including breakfast. Book and pay before 30 September, 2011 and receive a spa voucher valued at THB500 (about A$16) per person.

GETTING THERE Thai Airways flies to Chiang Mai via Bangkok daily from Sydney, Melbourne and Perth and five times a week from Brisbane. Return economy fares start from A$1,465 and business from A$3,683. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.

This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.

The overnight train from Chiang Mai to Bangkok operates daily. First class start from A$290 one way.



EXOTIC NORTHERN THAILAND Top from left: the Elephant Bar at the Anantara Golden Triangle; making new friends at Anantara; a lantern lit corridor at the Peninsula Bangkok. Bottom: night falls over the Anantara Golden Triangle.


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Amazing serenity away from the hustle and bustle.

There’s something about Thailand that can almost immediately have you feeling more calm, content, healthier and happier than you have in a very long time. There’s a sense tranquillity and balance here that is so easy to tap into the second you arrive. Leave the stress and clatter behind at home and immerse yourself in indulgent bliss. Think massages and spa treatments like you’ve never had before. Think reading a book on a gorgeous beach by the aqua blue water. Think relaxing in a hammock. Think nothing. Take the opportunity to re-energise and revitalise your body and soul. You deserve it and you know you need it. Tourism Authority of Thailand, Level 20, 56 Pitt St Sydney, NSW 2000, +61 2 9247 7549



Shop New York | Ride USA | Drive Dubai | Raft Costa Rica | Bike Thailand | Taste Italy | Compiled by Antonia Maiolo


Shopping on Fifth Avenue

For fashion-focussed tourists, shopping at the New York stores on Fifth Avenue is a must during a stay in the Big Apple. In the centre of Manhattan, the historical road of Fifth Avenue is home to some of the world’s most luxurious brands and boutiques like Gucci, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany & Co, Giorgio Armani, Fendi, Versace, Cartier and many more. Shop like a celebrity in New York City and hire a personal shopper for the day who will give you fashion and styling tips and introduce you to new labels. A personal shopper is a good idea for someone who wants to know the best places to shop and would like someone to develop a personalised shopping itinerary that suits his or her personal style. Prices: for a half-day with a personal shopper prices start from US$400 (about A$375) and for a full day from US$700 (about A$657).



Desert safari in Dubai


Riding in Nevada


It is possible to explore the canyons and historic region of Nevada, USA by horseback. The area is vast and the horses are great for negotiating the difficult terrain. Horse riding trails take visitors along historic paths where they’ll see towns where decades of notorious feuds and shootings took place during the Wild West era. Riding on mountain terrain, horse riders will be surrounded by views of the El Dorado Canyon and forests of cholla cactus with multicoloured rock formations creating the backdrop. Horse back riders will also visit the Colorado River where they will explore gold and silver mines dating from the 19th century when cowboys and Indians were the primary residents of the land. Tours also give people the opportunity to visit some original home sites and to see a re-creation of an Old West Mining Town. Prices: start from US$149 (about A$140) for adults and children. 50

If you want to experience a 4WD adventure tour, the Dubai desert safari is a must do. With professional drivers at the wheel, expect to experience the thrills of climbing sand dune mountains at high speeds and 45 degree angles. After 90 minutes of driving the vehicles are parked in time to watch the sunset in the desert before the safari continues to a campsite where a BBQ dinner is prepared while guests can go camel riding and take photographs. Over dinner entertainment is provided with traditional dance performances and belly dancing demonstrations. Prices: US$75 (about A$70) for adults and US$51 (about A$48) for children for the desert safari with BBQ included. For the overnight safari with BBQ prices start from US$108 (about A$101.25) for adults and US$60 (about A$56) for children.

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Mountain biking in Phuket

Discover the island of Phuket, Thailand by cycling through its valleys and coconut groves by the sea. Phuket Tours & Travel offers a variety of cycling tours for tourists of all ages and levels, including full day cycling tours. The tour will usually include a hotel pick-up and return, English speaking tour guide, mountain bike and helmet, full support vehicle, lunch, snacks and drinks. After a biking brief of routes and safety instructions the tour takes groups through Phuket to visit farmer villages, rubber and rice plantations. Coconut groves and friendly locals will become familiar sights along the way, as will the village scenery and local culture. Tours will usually take rest stops giving cyclists enough time for a coffee break and a Thai lunch at a local restaurant. Prices: for adults start at THB2,400 (about A$74) and THB2,200 (about A$68) for children.



Tastes of Venice

Just north of Venice is the region famous for producing Prosecco, which stretches from the town of Valdobbiadene to Vittorio Veneto. Prosecco wines are produced exclusively in northeast Italy and are famous for their intensely aromatic and crisp flavours of lemon, lime, yellow apple, pear, peach and apricot. Tourists exploring the region can also sample well-known dishes using the ingredients of polenta, mushrooms, risottos, tortelli and a range of cheeses like Morlacco, Casatella, Caciotta and Pressato. With convenient access to this region, food and wine tours beginning in Venice take tourists on a journey north to taste all that area has to offer. Make a day of it with Cellar Tours, a company that offers luxury transportation to and from Venice with an English-speaking guide, tours of wineries and the town of Treviso, gourmet lunch and wine tasting. Prices: chauffeured luxury day trips start from 1500 (about A$687) per person per day for two people.


White water rafting in Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s mountainous topography makes it one of the best places in the world for white water rafting. Costa Rica lies to the south of Nicaragua and north of Panama in Central America, and is a tropical country with deep valleys and canyons carved by hundreds of years of rain forming a landscape of twists and dips which makes it ideal for rafting. Adventure seekers can experience some of the country’s most well known rivers including the Reventazon, Pacuare and Corobici each of which carves through dense rainforests and meanders along waterfalls. There are several rafting options to suit different ages and abilities, ranging from manoeuvring through the more technical rapids to effortlessly gliding along the river while nature watching. Prices: half-day rafting trips start from US$65 (about A$61) per person and one day trips from US$75 (about A$70) per person. These tours and activities can be booked through your Travel Agent. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


todolist | Whale Sharks |

Dive in the deep end with whale sharks. Antonia Maiolo finds the best places to swim with these giants of the deep.


hale sharks are the gentle giants of the ocean. They are the largest members of the shark family and the largest fish in the world - a fully-grown whale shark can get up to 15 metres in length and weigh up to 20 tonnes. Usually in tropical ocean waters, whale shark regions draw visitors from around the world and have become a tourist destination for diving adventures. Tours where the whale sharks visit have sprung up as the demand for human to marine interaction has increased. Fortunately, they are completely harmless and peaceful creatures and snorkellers can expect to be amazed and comfortable in their presence.

MALDIVES The tropical paradise of the Maldives has become a popular destination for people looking to take a dive in the Indian Ocean. Travellers to the islands have the opportunity to swim with whale sharks all year round as they congregate in the outer reef of South Ari Atoll. The sharks are attracted by the high levels of plankton in the water. The luxury Diva resort is on the Ari Atoll next to the first Marine Protection Area dedicated to the preservation of whale sharks. Euro Divers operates single scuba dives or dive courses from the resort. One hour trial dives in the lagoon cost c64 (around A$86) including all equipment. Diving packages for qualified divers including five beach or boat dives, equipment and guide start from c201 (around A$272). 52

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WESTERN AUSTRALIA The Ningaloo Reef on the Coral Coast of Western Australia is one of the few regions in the world where whale sharks congregate frequently in coastal waters and are easily accessible. Tours depart from Exmouth or Coral Bay and swims take place only three nautical miles off the coast on the reef. These giants of the sea gather together in the Ningaloo Marine Park annually between late March and early July. There are several tours that focus on whale sharks and other reef life such as manta rays, turtles, dolphins, whales and even dugongs may also be sighted. Three Islands Whale Shark Dive Ningaloo offer tours that include meals, snorkel gear and wetsuits, hotel transfers and support from qualified staff. The cost varies, priced at A$375 for adults, A$265 for children and a family of two adults and two children under 16 is A$1,130.


MEXICO Travellers to Central America can swim with these enormous fish in Cancun, Mexico. Whale sharks can usually be found around the islands of Holbox and Contoy off the Caribbean coast from May until September, although mostly during the months of July and August. They gather there due to the nutrientrich water around the shores. Such is their popularity that August 30th has been formally established as the Mexican Day of the Whale Shark. Holbox Tours and Travel offers a variety of tour packages that includes a VIP private boat adventure. Daily charters cost US$1,050 (about A$975) for a maximum of 10 persons on board.

Between March and June each year whale sharks can be spotted in the Gladden Split region, 26 miles off the coast of Placencia, Belize. Over 20 species of Caribbean fish release their eggs in the area, attracting the sharks who feast on the eggs. The sharks are gentle and can be playful with divers and snorkellers. There are generally 10-14 days of good sightings each month with the three days before or after the full moon the best time to see whale sharks en masse. Belize Scuba runs daily trips with full day snorkelling trips from US$90 (around A$85) and diving from US$165 (around A$155) including equipment, lunch and a trained guide or dive master.

PHILIPPINES Donsol bills itself as the whale shark (or butanding as they are known locally) capital of the world. The region is just 50 minutes south of Manila by plane so travellers can easily experience a close interaction with whale sharks. Peak months for whale shark swimming are February to May when visitors can often swim with 15 or 20 sharks a day. The tourism industry surrounding whale sharks is still developing, so prices are lower here than in other parts of the world. Donsol Eco Tour operates two night tours with two days of whale shark interaction for at least three hours each. Prices start from US$1,100 (about A$1,036) including accommodation, breakfast and equipment. These tours can be booked through your Travel Agent. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u



hotelhipsters Just as you’d expect from the world capital of cool, the latest crop of New York luxury hotels captures the spirit of the times. Tom Chin and Michael Jones visited eight recently-opened high-end hotels to sample the latest in hip design, in-room technology, responsible luxury and pet hospitality.


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NEW NEW YORK A view over New York City from the penthouse of the InterContinental. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


THE BOLD AND THE BRIGHT Clockwise from top left: the lobby of Mondrian SoHo is awash with rich reds and browns; Mondrian Soho’s lobby features bold blues and touches of gold; the walls of the Presidential Suite living room at Eventi are lined with artworks and brightly coloured books. 56

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SCHOOL OF FINE DESIGN From left: 10 chandeliers hang from the ceiling of Mondrian SoHo’s conservatory dining room; the Eventi Verandah Suite is accentuated by the elegant and modern décor.

These two hotels represent the young blood of New York’s chic hotel scene. They encapsulate the new caring hippie philosophy which is all about the perhaps uncomfortable mix of sustainability and hedonism. Access all information about the Mondrian SoHo hotel via an iPad 2 on the desk in your room. At the Eventi, eat the sumptuous food at Basque restaurant to a chorus coming from the adjoining bar/nightclub scene. Neither of these two things will present a problem to any gen X or Y guest. MONDRIAN SOHO The entrance to Mondrian SoHo is through an ivy colonnaded tunnel of love designed by Benjamin Noriega Ortiz. Ortiz is a master at creating an ambience of mystery. At Mondrian SoHo he’s installed candlelit lanterned walkways and in the lifts, an almost non-existent pale blue wash (reinventing the notion of indirect lighting). The theme of romance and mystery is continued in the hotel’s garden where perfumed blossom trees are set out, inspired by Jean Cocteau’s 1946 French film La Belle et la Bête (The Beauty and the Beast). In the glass conservatory dining room he seems to be saying “you can’t have too many (10!) chandeliers darling”. This hotel seems perfect for its location in the heartland of New York’s uber chic and cool, with Dean & Deluca, Balthazar, Chanel and Louis Vuitton all nearby. Derek Lam, the new enfant terrible of fashion is just opposite. From sunrise to sunset the Manhattan skyline beckons guests through the full height glass window of the room which, just so you know, includes the shower! And if, like the rest of SoHo you don’t want to sleep, The Blue Ribbon Sushi restaurant nearby (a popular haunt of the chic and infamous) w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

welcomes diners as late as 11.30pm and on into the early hours. RATES start from A$582 per night for a Standard King Room, and from A$962 per night for a Queen Bed Suite. EVENTI The motto of the Eventi hotel is to Live Life and the enthusiasm of its San Francisco founder Bill Kimpton to get into things is evident throughout the hotel and in the partnerships he embraces with organisations such as The Trust for Public Land (hence the open spaces adjacent to the hotel dedicated to open air screenings of short films held for the local community). Another partnership, Dress for Success is dedicated to improving the lives of women by providing professional clothing and employment programs for self sufficiency. This is fitting for the hotel’s location in Manhattan’s garment district on 6th Ave and 30th Street. Here, the hotel is well located to explore the flower markets on 28th Street overflowing with every imaginable bloom and the nearby Chelsea markets (for fresh produce including a bountiful seafood market) and the High Line Walk (a rejuvenation of a disused freight line fronting the Hudson River with self seeding plantings, audio/visual art installations and glass viewing spurs overlooking 10th Avenue and the river). The hotel offers specially designed menus to support healthy travel (calories, carbohydrates and saturated fats are all counted). One is never lonely at the Eventi as pets are encouraged with special programs and pet pedicures and massages. Packages include pet beds, walking maps, treats, pet entertainment programs and pet sitting. If you have left your pet behind you can borrow the hotel’s guppy fish and bond with it in your room while the staff takes care of it for you. Meanwhile, caring for the guests includes complimentary drinks in the evenings often held in the dedicated open spaces if weather permits or in front of the cosy open fire in the lobby. Coffee and tea is also served in the morning as part of this service. The rooms and suites are elegant, modern and light filled with views of the Empire State building. RATES start from A$350 per night for a Deluxe King Room, and A$968 per night for a Premier One-Bedroom Suite. 57

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TASTEFUL LUXURY Clockwise from top left: keep cozy by your fire in a Grand Deluxe Salon at The Surrey; dine at The Setai’s signature restaurant, Al Fiori; Al Fiori offers Italian and French Riviera cuisine; monochromatic marble in the lobby of The Surrey.


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These two hotels scream, albeit in hushed tones, that you have arrived, achieved and conquered. They are sophisticated and confident and there is no experimentation of taste. Their expensive fit outs and world-class artworks are complimented by a discrete staff that is quick to fulfil your needs. THE SETAI FIFTH AVENUE The Setai Fifth Avenue is an international hotel between 36th and 37th streets set within a new 60-storey tower designed by renowned New York architect firm Gwathmey Siegel & Associates. The building was inspired by the abstract Cubist compositions of Le Corbusier’s 1920s work and the apartment suites feature faceted full-height windows that project out onto the street allowing you to stand at the edge of the room and look down and out at the same time! The international flavour is evident in the interior fit out with streamlined Italian oak veneer panelled walls that continue up onto ceilings, a popular trademark of the 20s Modernist movement. The wood is echoed in all the minimalist linear long line built ins and together with Luce Di Luna marble and neutral carpet shades, the overall effect is overwhelmingly Italian moderne. The suite sizes are generous; the living area, the bedroom and the bathrooms are each given an entry space that makes the entire suite feel expansive. The television screens are micro thin and even the bathroom mirror has a hidden mini TV screen within, revealed at a touch of a remote control button. A Nespresso machine is given a dedicated alcove, built-in of course. The Setai Fifth Avenue is a renaissance palace fit for a modern day Doge. The hotel’s restaurant, Ai Fiori, complements its grandeur with oversized flower arrangements that ensure each evening’s dinner setting is unforgettable. The Ligurian cuisine is overseen by chef Michael White, whose deft hand at deconstructing traditional Provençale fare transports it into the 21st century. The rum baba is presented in its various components only to be melded by your taste buds into a sum greater than its parts. The highly professional staff creates the warm human glue that makes this place a sum greater than all its impressive inanimate parts. And finally, even when you venture out into Manhattan or off to the airport from the swank interiors of The Setai, you can do it in grand style in the hotel’s Maserati. RATES start from A$686 per night for a Standard Room, and from A$1,494 per night for an Avenue Apartment Suite.

THE SURREY The Surrey is a 1920s Beaux-Arts townhouse that recently underwent a $60 million refurbishment as a hotel. It is styled as an Upper East Side home with contemporary artworks cleverly chosen by Lauren Rottet, decorator extraordinaire who has overseen this “architectural digest” refurbishment drawing inspiration from various eras of fashion. The hotel bar, Bar Pleiades is styled as a Coco Chanel bag, with the banquettes taking on the famous quilted stitching. Contemporary artworks in the bar take it to a higher level; black and white photos of cigarette smoke line the banquettes evoking that mysterious sensuality of a glamorous 1920s art deco room. A William Kentridge art work features framed videos of pages of an antique book turning with the real book placed in situ underneath. This is the home we all want to live in, classic elegance teamed with carefully chosen art pieces from today’s galleries; bowls of white roses and a wall-sized tapestry of Chuck Close’s image of a Kate Moss close up, sans makeup. The piece de resistance is the roof garden, a space that emulates the Hamptons; pale timber decking, tailored lavender hedges scenting the balmy spring evenings, soft upholstered lounges creating an open garden room with cosy nooks that overlook the Manhattan skyline all the way to Central Park, the Dakota building and Strawberry Fields. The other jewel in the Surrey’s crown is Cafe Boulud, the original home of Daniel Boulud’s first New York City restaurant, Daniel. Under the tutelage of Gavin Kaysen as executive chef and his captain Giovanni Giambrone, every diner is made to feel as comfortable as the locals that file in, replete in vintage Chanel. Giovanni is a maitre’d who can make sure that your dinner finishes on time for the opera whilst juggling a parade of incoming, albeit, patient diners. This is the calibre of the entire staff from the house engineer, the doorman, to the front of house reception. No one graduated from hospitality school yesterday. “Sirius”, the handsomely manicured standard black poodle house “guest” was kind enough to share the lift with me on his way to bed, which just so you know, was especially turned down for him, complete with his doggie treat on the pillow. My turn down treat that night included a chocolate coated madeleine, the weather forecast for another sunny New York spring day and a suggestion for a local restaurant of renown for tomorrow’s culinary adventure. The hotel’s spa is open to the public and is well patronised by the doyens of the Upper East Side who enjoy the most luxurious organic products, Darphin and LiTya from Australia. The guilty sense of luxury is assuaged by knowing that these products harmed no animals and are 100 per cent organic. RATES start from A$458 per night for a Deluxe Salon, and A$6,624 per night for an Ultra Deluxe Three-Bedroom Suite.

HANDS UP ON FIFTH AVE 1920s modernism in the Penthouse dining room at The Surrey. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


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NEW YORK TIMES From left: keep track of the time in the lobby of The Chatwal; guestrooms pay homage to the hotel’s rich history but at the same time keep up with the latest in in-room technology.

Whilst both of these hotels are in New York’s theatre district and privileged Club Row, the InterContinental Times Square and The Chatwal are at opposite ends of a time spectrum. The latter, a Stanton White designed building (he is of the Washington Arch fame), is steeped in New York architectural history whilst the former is a new skyscraper of monumental proportions. Each has its own loyal niche market and both are well located for a high stepping Broadway musical or an intense mind probing play. THE INTERCONTINENTAL NEW YORK TIMES SQUARE This is a major international chain hotel that offers all the usual things its loyal clientele expect. The expansive entrance foyer, the multiple check-in registration attendants, the generous restaurant space and the banks of lifts are all familiar comforts of home for the Intercontinental guest. The standout features of the hotel are the suites and studio rooms, some of which occupy prime corner positions in the building. The views are quintessential New York Times Square; canyons of iridescent neon lights advertising the latest Broadway shows against art deco skyscrapers. Lovely to look at but from a distance. The hotel is designed by Jeffery Beers, an international design team with a global portfolio featuring contemporary themes and a focus on green and sustainable buildings. The young team that staff the hotel is keen to personalise the experience of staying there, which is a good thing given that Times Square is daunting even for the most seasoned travellers. This was affirmed with flying colours when I was seized with a late night craving for a Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia ice cream. The concierge was very obliging in identifying the nearest store. Guests find the in-room information not in the standard compendium but on the television screens and on the computer. The in-room technology extends from iPod docks, wired and wireless Internet, touch screen computers (Microsoft Office is available for a charge), automatic sensors that identify mini bar items in need of restocking and a delightful fully automated espresso machine for even the most 60

mechanically challenged guest. The hotel is also serviced by celebrity chef Todd English’s branded Ça Va, with a French inspired brassiere, bar and lounge. RATES available from Adventure World on request. THE CHATWAL This neo-Georgian building on west 44th street, between 6th and 7th Avenue is steeped in American theatre history as it was originally the home of the prestigious Lambs, America’s first professional theatrical club whose members included the Barrymores (John Barrymore resided in the club) Douglas Fairbanks, Cecil B. DeMille, Spencer Tracy and Fred Astaire. This specific district is known as Club Row because of the many famous private clubs of Manhattan’s privileged classes spotting the area. Thierry Despont, architect and designer, meticulously restored The Chatwal building drawing on the high glamour of steamship travel of the 1920s and 30s. The rooms are fitted with bespoke free standing credenzas and wardrobes finished in burgundy ostrich skin and chrome edges. The bathrooms are mirror walled similarly with chrome and burgundy quartz floors are embedded with silver shards that catch the light akin to sparkling midnight stars. The walls are papered in ochre suede. Even though homage is appropriately paid to its history. The Chatwal is equipped with up-to-the-minute technology; the room control for drapes, lights and climate is on a touch screen panel. The bathroom has an integrated television in the mirror and the heated toilet seat has a myriad of controls for the bidet jets that would make a geyser blush. The hotel prides itself on its butler service for the rooms. The head butler oversees the performances of all the butlers assigned to the guests. No task is too much for the asking, from the mundane pressing duties to identifying the obscure background music to the new Alexander McQueen retrospective exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The bar, the Lambs Club, in Empire Deco style, is built around a void over the foyer and evokes a feeling of one setting sail across the Atlantic. The hum is very much modern New York as it fills up with pre theatre crowds. One can almost hear F Scott Fitzgerald laughing with Noel Coward as they share a jug of martinis, with three olives. RATES available from Adventure World on request. n These Adventure World holidays can be booked through your Travel Agent. TO FIND OUT ABOUT EVENTS IN NEW YORK CITY AND TO PLAN A TRIP VISIT THE OFFICIAL NEW YORK CITY WEBSITE AT NYCGO.COM w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

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A BROADWAY STATE OF MIND Top, from left: enjoy a drink at The Chatwal before you catch a show on Broadway; The Chatwal’s The Lambs Club restaurant; breakfasts at The Chatwal attract both guests and local New Yorkers dropping in on the way to work. Bottom: The InterContinental is also located conveniently close to Broadway. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


Compromise? Never. Fully flat beds in Executive First. Flying to Canada and the U.S. has never been easier or more comfortable. Go to, call us on 1300 655 767 or contact your travel agent.


Relax in the Cook Islands | Compiled by Lucy Jones


Cook Islands Indulgence

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Explore two of the 15 Cook Islands in this seven-night tour. The Cook Islands lie halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii and are a mix of coral atolls and volcanic islands. Rarotonga, the largest of the islands, is home to craggy mountains, dense jungle and white sand beaches. On arrival in Rarotonga you will be met at the airport and transferred to the Little Polynesian Resort. The resort is set on the white sand beach of Titikaveka lagoon, which is fantastic for snorkelling. You’ll have the next two days to explore Rarotonga at your own pace. Relax on the beach, trek across the island through lush jungle or learn more about Polynesian culture at The Cook Islands Cultural Village. On day four you’ll be transferred to the domestic airport for your flight to Aitutaki Island. This hook-shaped atoll


DATE: available for booking all year round. PRICE: from A$2,339 per person twin share. INCLUDES: seven nights accommodation, breakfast daily, all transfers and domestic flights. This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.

sits at the top of one of the world’s largest coral lagoons and is ringed by smaller uninhabited islands known as motu. You’ll be staying at the Pacific Resort Aitutaki, a member of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World. This secluded resort has only 27 absolute beachfront bungalows all with panoramic views of Aitutaki’s world-famous lagoon. Spend the next two days snorkelling in the warm turquoise water that’s packed with giant clams and tropical fish or take a day trip to one of the deserted motu. The island’s rural interior is also worth exploring and you can hire a car or scooter to make your own way around. After seven nights in these island paradises you’ll be transferred back to Aitutaki airport for your flight back to Rarotonga. 63



Cruise many of the world’s great destinations with these tour packages | Compiled by Lucy Jones


Explore Alaska’s coastal wilderness

Spend eight days exploring the beauty of southeastern Alaska onboard the National Geographic Sea Lion or the National Geographic Sea Bird. You’ll depart Juneau in the late afternoon and head to Tracy Arm, a 22-mile long fjord surrounded by cascading waterfalls. The ship will manoeuvre among large icebergs as passengers look out for bears on the shore and mountain goats in the cliffs above. On day three you’ll visit Petersburg and can take an optional flight over the LeConte Glacier. Over the next three days the ship will make its way through Frederick Sound, Chatham Strait, Point Adolphus, Chicagof Island and the Glacier Bay National Park. These waters make for great wildlife spotting with orcas, humpback whales, sea lions, otters and puffins to be seen. There are opportunities to walk on forest trails or kayak through natural coves. The final day is spent beachcombing, hiking, kayaking or cruising along Admiralty Island to see brown bears before a farewell dinner and disembarkation in Sitka the following morning.


DATE: departs Juneau 30 and 31 July; 13, 14, 27 and 28 August. PRICE: from A$6,240 per person twin share. INCLUDES: seven nights cruising accommodation, all meals and non-alcoholic beverages onboard, shore excursions, sightseeing, entrance fees and transfers. This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.


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Hawaiian seascapes Cruise around the Hawaiian islands on a luxury yacht, exploring secluded beaches and quiet coves. Your journey starts in Maui with a visit to the 19th century whaling village of Lahaina. The next two days are spent at Moloka’i in the middle of the Humpback National Marine Sanctuary. See humpback whales and other marine life in this breeding ground, then head ashore to meet the people of Moloka’i and experience their traditional way of life. Cruise by Lana’i on day four and choose from many water activities off the white sand beaches before heading back toward Maui. Go ashore and hike the Laparuse Trail or view ancient Hawaiian ruins and at night go snorkelling or diving at the Molokini crater. Days six and seven DATE: departs Maui 14 and 30 November and 19 December. are spent cruising around the Big Island looking out for dolphins, whales, PRICE: from A$5,203 per person twin share. whale sharks and lava flows into the ocean. Snorkel around the bay and INCLUDES: seven nights cruising accommodation, all meals and beverages go ashore at the spot Captain Cook died in battle. The final day is spent onboard, use of all equipment, airport transfers, port and entry fees. on the Kohala Coast visiting the historic town of Kailua-Kona, taking an This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent. optional heli-tour of remote waterfalls and having a final evening swim with Great Pacific Manta rays.



Luxury Galapagos Islands


Discover the unique fauna of the Galapagos Islands on this seven-night cruise aboard the luxury small ship M/Y La Pinta. The cruise departs San Cristobal Island and cruises along the rocky shoreline of Isla Lobos, home to sea lions, brown pelicans and marine iguanas. On day two you’ll visit North Seymour Island for a morning walk along the coast and then sail to Cerro Dragon on Santa Cruz Island, home to a number of land iguanas. The ship heads to Floreana Island to visit the famous barrel that served as a post office for 18th century whalers before cruising to Punta DATE: departs San Cristobal every Friday. Cormorant. Over the next three days you’ll visit Isabela and PRICE: from A$5,370 per person twin share. Fernandina Islands, Santa Cruz, and Bartolome and Rabida INCLUDES: seven nights cruising accommodation, all meals Islands to see stunning volcanic landscapes, beaches, wildlife onboard, Galapagos transfers and guided excursions. and the Charles Darwin Research Station. The final day of This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your the cruise takes in the white coral beach of Gardner Bay on Travel Agent. Española Island and the lava terrain of Hood Island before you disembark at San Cristobal the next morning.




Antarctica, South Georgia & the Falklands Spend 20 nights visiting the ‘White Continent’ aboard the National Geographic Explorer. The tour starts in Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city, where you’ll take a catamaran cruise through the Beagle Channel to reach the ship. Day two is spent at sea cruising through the Drake Passage before you arrive in Antarctica. With nearly 24 hours of daylight you can make the most of your six days exploring via Zodiac, kayak and on foot. From day nine you will head back north passing Elephant Island and stopping at South Georgia Island where you can visit the grave of legendary explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and see hundreds of Antarctic fur seals and 100,000 king penguins at St Andrew’s Bay. You’ll spend two days in the Falkland Islands that boasts the largest albatross colony in the world as well as herds of elephant seals and Magellanic penguins. Enjoy your last day at sea as you head back to Ushuaia. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


DATE: departs Ushuaia 8 November, 2011 and 16 February, 2012. PRICE: from A$19,780 per person twin share. INCLUDES: 20 nights cruising accommodation, all meals and nonalcoholic beverages onboard, all shore excursions, sightseeing, entrance fees, transfers and services of expedition staff. This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.




Planning a family holiday to Borneo need not be a complicated affair, according to Mia Freedman.

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DATES: Private tour with flexible length and dates PRICE: On application INCLUDES: Accommodation at Shangri La Rasa Ria Resort in an Ocean Wing and transfers to and from accommodation, a visit to the Orang Utan Education Centre, a local lunch at Bundusan Restaurant, and a visit to the ancestral home of Monsopiad. One night at Sutera Sanctuary Lodge in a Kinabalu Lodge Premier Chalet including butler service, transfers, jungle walks of the Kota Kinabalu National Park with a private guide. Two nights at Shangri La Tanjung Aru Kinabalu in a Club Seaview Room, transfers, private tour of Kota Kinabalu, the state capital of Sabah known as “The Land Below The Wind” including a bird’s eye view of Kota Kinabalu from Signal Hill. Two nights at Gayana Eco Resort Ocean Villas, transfers by private speed boat, access to the Solace Spa and activities such as diving, kayaking, jungle trekking, snorkelling, underwater fish feeding and coral planting. WEBSITE: CALL: 1300 320 795

Taking the family to an adventurous destination like Borneo isn’t everyone’s idea of a relaxing, luxury family holiday but journalist and social commentator Mia Freedman recently did just that. “We hadn’t been on a family holiday in a long time and I was daunted about the idea of travelling with three kids, who each had very different wants and needs. Borneo turned out to be a perfect balance of adventure, comfort and peace of mind for all of us,” she said. “The team at Adventure World Luxury Adventures created a tailor-made itinerary based on our planning discussion. From giving the kids an unforgettable experience to meeting my own expectations, there were so many details we needed to think about but we were able to hand all that over to experts. “Borneo is amazing and a place I knew nothing about. It’s home to incredibly beautiful mountainous regions and amazing wildlife. We were especially excited to have the opportunity for a family travel experience that included an element of adventure. Well, as adventurous as you can be with two small kids and a teenager! “The experiences that the itinerary offered were well beyond our expectations – from a wildlife walk and up close and personal meeting with Orang Utans, through to spa treatments, private dinners and tours. We also took a trip to visit the ancestral home of Monsopiad, the most feared and infamous of warriors of the Kadazan Dusun tribe. Our bird’s eye view of Kota Kinabalu from Signal Hill during our last couple of days in Borneo was breathtaking.” On the various family-friendly luxury accommodations arranged by Adventure 66

World Luxury Adventures Mia said: “Coming home at the end of the day to the luxurious, yet homey rooms of the Shangri La’s – the Rasa Ria, where we had our own Ocean Wing and the La Tanjung Aru Kinabalu made our stay even more memorable. The over-water villa at the Gayana Eco Resort Ocean Villas was a particular thrill as we’ve always dreamed of staying over the water where your breakfast arrives by boat! It was the ultimate in relaxation and the kids thought it was a hoot.” Mia’s family also stayed at Sutera Sanctuary Lodge in Kinabalu Park at the base of Mount Kinabalu, Malaysia’s highest mountain. She said: “We felt totally spoilt in our Premier Chalet with three bedrooms, ensuite bathrooms, spacious dining/ living room area, its own kitchen, TV with satellite channels and butler service!” Mia Freedman’s tailor made itinerary was for eight days and seven nights. She said: “It was a brilliant experience for the whole family. The opportunity to have a personalised itinerary and get an off-the-beaten track experience is something I’d recommend entirely to anyone booking family holidays. “Travelling to destinations such as Asia doesn’t need to be a complicated process, and as most parents of small children understand, plans can often change. We were most impressed by having the convenience of our transfers and tours pre-organised, yet having the flexibility to change the arrangements with on-ground operators on arrival meaning that we were able to get the most out of our holiday experience. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

HOLLYWOOD ROYALTY Oberoi Rajvillas, the former residence of an Indian aristocrat, is a favourite of superstar Julia Roberts 68

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Keeping celebrity holiday choices a secret is next to impossible these days as tweeters broadcast every sighting. Pam Grout has tracked down six destinations tried and tested by the A-list.


Julia Roberts


LIFESTYLES OF THE RICH & FAMOUS This page: the lobby of the Oberoi Rajvillas is styled on a princely fort. Opposite page from left: the 44-yearold Hotel Byblos in St Tropez has long been a celebrity favourite; restaurant Spoon at Byblos is a Mediterranean version of Spoon Paris at Marignan from Alain Ducasse.


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OBEROI RAJVILAS. Readers of Travel + Leisure recently picked Rajvilas near Jaipur, India as one of the best resorts in the world, something Julia Roberts could have told them years ago. In fact, the “Pretty Woman” took her kids to this five-star hotel long before she was in India filming Eat Pray Love. And while she could have chosen the resort’s US$4,000 (about A$3,784) a night Kohinoor Suite, that has its own 60-foot swimming pool and garden and provided lodging for Bill Clinton and Brangelina, she opted for one of the hotel’s 14 tents. Not that the Roberts clan actually roughed it. Rajvilas’ tents have four-poster

you busy for an afternoon), there is plenty to do in the area. Julia and kids rode elephants and camels, gawked at Jaipur’s City Palace and toured the Amber Fort where a single candle lights up the entire Hall of Mirrors with its intricate well-placed mirrors.

SAINT-TROPEZ. Figaro, a French newspaper, once said that the French Riveria’s Saint-Tropez has more “famous faces per square mile” than anywhere else on the planet. Ever since the 50s when paparazzi began trailing the justdiscovered Brigitte Bardot, this provincial maritime village has been pulling in the yachts, the Ferraris, the private planes and

bohemians. Back in the 20s, for example, French author Collette fell in love with the sunsets, the Muscat grapes and the rustic wisteria-covered pastel houses. Or there’s Hotel Byblos, where in 1971 Mick Jagger proposed to Bianca (in room 401, if you must know). They later tied the knot at the Chapel of Saint Anne with scads of paparazzisnapping away. Jagger and Bardot sightings have tapered off (she still lives here, but mainly in seclusion), but this mythic playground is still good for a glimpse of Puff Daddy, Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, Naomi Campbell, Bruce Willis and Ivana Trump. Just remember, the real stars are the beaches.

SAINT-TROPEZ IS STILL GOOD FOR A GLIMPSE OF PUFF DADDY, TOM CRUISE, JULIA ROBERTS, NAOMI CAMPBELL, BRUCE WILLIS AND IVANA TRUMP. JUST REMEMBER, THE REAL STARS ARE THE BEACHES. beds, dressing rooms with walk in closets, teak floors, Victorian claw-tooth bathtubs, embroidered canopies and such luxury that Giorgio Armani raved about his. Once an orchard owned by an Indian aristocrat, the resort has a 250-year-old temple (complete with priest) and a mansion that serves as the pool pavilion. The 32-acre garden with its flame trees, jacaranda, fountains, shaded courtyards and requisite peacocks creates a gorgeous oasis set on the edge of the Rajasthan desert. Local craftspeople used tiles and earth-colored bricks to build a library, two restaurants and the spa and other locals are employed to do nothing but clean brass or drive around in a horse and cart to carry guests from their rooms to their yoga classes and ayurvedic treatments. Although the resort, located five miles from the famous Pink City, is a destination unto itself (just viewing all the marble and stone carvings and handmade brass doors can keep

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the flesh and blood versions of the faces we see on the magazine covers. Beyonce and Jay Z recently pulled into the Cote d’Azur paradise in their 180-foot Italian yacht and were spotted all over the town: on its narrow, cobblestone streets, on its dazzling beaches and even in its decadent discos. A breathtaking coastal footpath winds from the original fishing harbour to the hardpartying beaches and their non-stop nightclubs and yet another winds back through pines and eucalyptus to the famous Place des Lices shops selling Armani, Prada, Dior, Pucci and the SuperdryStore where David Beckham and Formula One racing champs hone their hunky images. If it’s a Tuesday or Saturday before noon, the open-air Marche de Saint-Tropez sells baguettes, Provencal olives and linens, cheeses, herbs and silk brocades. Hotel Sube, overlooking the famous port, is the town’s oldest hotel and has long been a hangout for artists, writers and other

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NECKER ISLAND. When he was 28, with just six years of Virgin entrepreneurship under his belt, Richard Branson bought a deserted island in the Virgin Islands (where else?) and turned it into a private family retreat. Using local stone, Brazilian hardwoods, antiques, fabrics and bamboo furniture from Bali, his design staff with a US$10 million (about A$9.5million) budget built a 10-bedroom Balinese villa (every room has a 360-degree view) and five guesthouses which were built in Bali, shipped to Tortola and reassembled on the private resort. Branson’s kids are grown now and while he still uses his beloved Necker Island (in March

GREENWICH HOTEL. Two months after their elaborate Indian wedding, Russell Brand and Katy Perry checked into the Greenwich Hotel, owned by Robert De Niro. Known for his obsessive attention to detail in movie roles (he gained 30 pounds to play boxer Jake LaMotta, for example, and paid US$5,000 (about A$4,733) to have his teeth ground down for his role as a convicted rapist in Cape Fear), De Niro spent six years perfecting the Greenwich. Built on the site of a former parking garage, De Niro’s masterpiece makes great use of hand-cut terracotta tiles from Italy, hundreds of thousands of specially-commissioned bricks and massive oak beams from defunct factories.


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2008, for example, he hosted former British Prime Minster Tony Blair, Google’s Larry Page and Wikipedia’s Jimmy Wales for a summit on global warming), he also rents it out to private groups and individuals who don’t balk at the US$53,000 (about A$50,150) nightly rate. As you can imagine, that tends to keep out riffraff. Necker Island (named after the 17th century Dutch squadron commander Johannes de Neckere who discovered it) sleeps 28, has 14 private beaches, a staff of 60, its own spa (where guests like Mariah Carey, Elizabeth Hurley, Pamela Anderson and Oprah Winfrey get caviar facials) and fleets of Hobie cats, windsurfers and boogie boards. If you rent the Bali Cliff guesthouse, one of five spread

around the 74-acre island, you can even zipline from your front porch to the beach. A Balinese drum gongs three times, calling guests to meals which can either be held in the Crocodile Pavilion where you’ll gather around a giant table carved in the shape of a crocodile or in the bar where James Bond movies play in the background. There’s a floating sushi bar during Happy Hour, plenty of tree houses (Branson calls them love shacks) and pickup games of beach volleyball played with a coconut. Steven Spielberg, Mel Gibson, Michael Douglas, Harrison Ford, Robert DeNiro and Kate Moss are just a few who have stayed at this exclusive island. Whether or not they donned the island’s signature pirate costumes, we can’t say.

No two rooms of this boutique jewel are alike. Each room is individually decorated with such touches as antique silk rugs, Siberian oak floors (the suites have American pine) and bathrooms with elaborate Moroccan tile mosaics. The Shibui spa, located in the basement, was brought over piece by piece from Japan. The 18th century bamboo and wooden structure, constructed without benefit of nails or screws, was reassembled by 13 artisan craftsmen, flown 16,000 miles from Japan. The spa’s zen-like pool is lit by lanterns and spa therapists use jasmine freshly-pounded for each treatment. Jennifer Aniston, Jude Law and Rhianna have also enjoyed the 88-room Greenwich. The hotel is located on Robert De Niro’s monopoly piece of Manhattan, next to his Tribeca Movie Studio and his Italian bistro, Locanda Verde. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

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ROMANCE & MUCH SOUGHT AFTER PRIVACY This page: the Sierra Mar restaurant at the Post Ranch Inn overlooks the Pacific. Opposite page top: bedroom of the Ocean House, Post Ranch Inn. Opposite page from bottom left: an overwater villa at the St Regis Bora Bora; a villa living room. 74

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POST RANCH INN. Just weeks before their much-publicised breakup, Taylor Swift and Jake Gyllenhaal had one last romantic interlude at Post Ranch Inn, the serene, seductive getaway atop the cliffs of Big Sur, California. Not only does this one-of-a-kind eco-inn with an endless view of the Pacific sing harmony with nature, but it has daily yoga classes, nightly star-gazing sessions and outdoor pools and hot tubs from which guests can

extensive wine cellars with bottles from both well-known wine producers and rare boutique vineyards. Executive Chef Craig von Foerster’s four-course, prix fixe organic menu changes daily depending on what’s in season. All 40 guest rooms at Post Ranch Inn, panelled with redwood salvaged from old wine barrels, come with king-size beds, wood-burning fireplaces, either indoor or outdoor hot tubs and free mini-bar. As for Taylor, who tends to write songs that reflect her life, she’s busy looking for words that rhyme with Gyllenhaal.

make up Bora Bora, this tropical paradise (also featured in Vince Vaughn’s recent groaner, Couples Retreat) has 30 bungalows and 70 giant villas, including the Royal Estate where Nicole and Keith stayed, spread out over the lagoon where octopi, tropical fish and turtles swim. Activities at this private resort include jeep safaris, diving, hiking, sailing and shark and ray feeding. These properties can be booked through your Travel Agent.

NICOLE KIDMAN AND KEITH URBAN HONEYMOONED AT THIS FIVE-STAR RESORT, FAMED FOR PROTECTING THE PRIVACY OF CELEB GUESTS, IN 2006. watch migrating whales. The spiraling suites with their floor-to-ceiling windows offer stars like Swift and Gyllenhaal commanding views without forsaking privacy. Post Ranch Inn’s acclaimed Sierra Mar restaurant has one of North America’s most

ST. REGIS BORA BORA. Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban honeymooned at this five-star resort, famed for protecting the privacy of celeb guests, in 2006. Located on Motu Ome, one of the small Pacific islands that

Keith Urban and Nicole Kid man

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Heaven T H E G A M E T H E Y P L AY I N

Caribbean pirates once had their headquarters on Hispaniola Island, where the Dominican Republic is located. Modern corporate raiders and other celebrities now go there for the golf. Timothy Morrell visited the five-star resorts that have the country’s finest courses.

A GREEN WITH A VIEW Punta Espada Golf Course, one of three Jack Nicklaus designed courses at Cap Cana, is considered one of the best in the Caribbean. 76

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COUNTRY CLUBS OF THE CARIBBEAN Opposte page from top left: Oscar de la Renta designed villas at Tortuga Bay Resort; the beach at the Puntacana Resort. Above right: have lunch overlooking the course at Punta Espada Golf Club. Bottom: The Links course at Casa de Campo has stunning ocean views.


t came as a surprise to me that the Dominican Republic is one of the world’s great sporting nations. With a population of only about 10 million it provides a large percentage of the top players in US basketball and baseball, and offers the best golf in the developing world. Less than a decade ago economic problems and political turbulence caused visitors to sense that not all their adventures would be on the golf course, but things have changed a lot since then. The country has settled into a phase of confident stability. Going there is a pleasure because unlike a generic Caribbean island paradise it’s a functioning nation where a lot more happens than drinking piña coladas under the palm trees. Just the sight of the courses in the Dominican Republic will be enough to lift your game. The hypnotic blue waters of the Caribbean provide an inspiring view and a hazard that keeps you on edge – literally. Many holes run along the cliffs, and comparisons are inevitably made with Pebble Beach. Golf isn’t cheap here. With the discount provided to hotel guests you’ll pay roughly US$100 (about A$94) to US$300 (about A$284) for a game. At Pebble Beach you’d pay close to US$500 (about A$474). 78

The first and most famous course in the country is the Teeth of the Dog. Yes, it can bite. It’s part of the Casa de Campo resort at La Romana, a little over an hour’s drive east of the capital Santo Domingo (or if you want to get straight down to business, La Romana has its own international airport). The kindest courses are at Puntacana Resort & Club at the easternmost tip of the island, and also immediately accessible to an international airport. The level of luxury at Puntacana, although refined and relaxed, puts a convincing case for golf as the game they play in heaven. The clubhouse and your accommodation in a Tortuga Bay villa will make you feel that you’re living and playing like a celebrity, if not an angel. Teeth of the Dog opened for play in 1971. Without access to heavy machinery, about 300 workers helped designer Pete Dye craft the course by hand. It remains the premier course in the Caribbean and one of the most exhilarating in the world. As is often the case with Pete Dye courses, the signature holes are superlative and tend to overshadow the others. Here the waterside holes are the great w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


attraction. Seven holes hug the shoreline and reaching the green generally involves driving the ball over a void occupied by rocks and surf. The secret is to pretend the void isn’t there. Like a tightrope walker, you don’t look down. At 7,350 yards from the tips it’s something of a marathon, and provides a similar sense of achievement. Players are required to be accompanied by a caddy on this course. The other big-name Dominican course is Punta Espada at Cap Cana, which opened in 2007 as part of a grand plan to create one of the world’s most splendid resorts. Punta Espada is the standout among the three courses that Jack Nicklaus designed for this location. His design works with and around the cliffs, beaches and lagoons. It feels very open, with no swathes of jungle, so ocean winds add to the challenge. There are some demanding, long fairways and the par five 2nd hole is 611 yards, which you negotiate through beach and lagoon. Corales at Puntacana is a Tom Fazio design with seven holes along the seafront including one (the 18th) that carries over the rocks lining the Bay of Corales. This hole is as nerve-wracking as Caribbean cliff-top w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

golf can get, but the course is also generous in more ways than one. All courses at the Puntacana Resort (there are three) are turfed with a variety of paspalum that can deal with the recycled and rather salty water used for irrigation by this environmentally responsible organisation. It creates a fine, smooth surface that has been liberally applied. Two holes, for example have alternate right and left greens, allowing players some leeway in how difficult they want their game to be. The quality of the golf on the La Cana course at Puntacana is possibly outranked by the quality of the views. Several holes start or finish near the sea, but only three run alongside it, so you’ll have fewer tense moments. Because this course is somewhat easier than many of its more famous neighbours, players who feel daunted by celebrity may prefer it. So take your pick. La Romana has the best golf, Cap Cana has the best beaches and Puntacana’s Tortuga Bay Resort has the best accommodation. All three resorts have internationally branded spas and fine restaurants where you have the option of trying one or two local dishes. This holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent. n 79

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When to go

Getting there:

Whenever you like. There’s a chance of rain at any time of year, with usually brief but often heavy showers. High season is during the northern winter, when good weather is slightly more dependable. From April to August there are fewer people, lower prices, and (unless you’re very unlucky) plenty of sun.

Qantas and American Airlines codeshare for two stop flights from Australia to Santo Domingo. Qantas flies non-stop to Los Angeles from Sydney and Melbourne daily and six times a week from Brisbane. From there American Airlines flies to Santo Domingo via Miami. Return economy fares to Los Angeles start from A$1,754 and business


from A$11,089. American Airlines operates a number of flights to Santo Domingo throughout the day. Fares start from A$608 return for economy and from A$1,732 return for business class. Total flight time from Australia is around 23 hours plus stopovers. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.

TEE-OFF IN THE TROPICS Above from left: the seventh hole at La Cana Golf Course at Puntacana; the white sand beaches at Cap Cana are among the best in the country. Bottom: The 11th hole of the Tom Lazio-designed Corales Golf Course at Puntacana.

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TRUSTED TRAVEL WITH THE DESTINATION E XPERTS INSPIRINg KENyA We heard the swish first, as if a strong wind was blowing through the dry elephant grass. We fell silent as a large rhino, looking as if it was dressed in armour plating, emerged into a clearing to one side. Then in what seemed like perfect casting we spotted the king of the savannah as he prowled the great Kenyan wilderness. Upon returning to our luxury private game lodge, which was decked out in fine African art, and staffed by expert guides, I relaxed by my plunge pool and simply listened to the calls of the wild. That evening as I sipped cold champagne beside my log fire and looked at the expanse of endless plains dotted with Acacia trees and roaming zebra herds, I though to myself, my dream holiday has come true Thelma Lockery, Kenya 2010


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With mineral rich water, super-oxygenated air and 350 days a year of sun that’s safe to bake in, the Dead Sea is a natural spa unlike anywhere else in the world. Lucy Jones dipped her toes in the water.


arrived at the Dead Sea at dusk with just enough time for a dip in the famous salty waters before sunset. I knew from previous experience in the region that the sun seems to drop from the sky much faster there than it does anywhere else, so I had to be quick. Up close the sea is hazy with evaporating salt and completely flat with barely a ripple visible from the shore all the way across to Israel on the opposite bank. The only break in the water’s glassy surface was caused by a number of bobbing tourists. Of course I knew that everything is especially buoyant in the Dead Sea, but to see people splashing gracelessly above the waterline is really something. There’s no diving or jumping into the water. The lifeguard explains


that because of its high salinity the water would burn your eyes. Instead you have to walk carefully down a slick, salt-covered gangway and ease yourself in as if you’re lowering yourself into an armchair. If you tried this method in any other body of water you would sink to the bottom, but here you’re curiously suspended. It is, hands down, the strangest feeling I’ve ever experienced. There’s no real swimming in the Dead Sea either, just an awkward mix of floating and crawling that looks as ridiculous as it feels. The water pushes you towards it surface. Earlier on our journey one of my travelling companions had asked if anyone had ever swum across the Dead Sea. It now made sense that the answer was no. The Dead Sea has an impressive history of royal patronage. Legend has w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD At more than 400 metres below sea level, the Dead Sea is the lowest point on the planet not covered by ice.

it that the Queen of Sheba was the first to believe in its restorative powers and that Cleopatra herself travelled from Egypt to build the world’s first spa on its shores. Kings Solomon and Herod believed in its curative properties and Roman nobles would transport the water and salt back to their homes in Italy. These days the royals tend to be from Eastern Europe. According to the general manager of the Movenpick Resort & Spa,one of the five-star hotels that line the shore of the Dead Sea, his penthouses and royal suites are booked by Russian oligarchs and their families taking the cure for weeks at a time, spending around $50,000 a stay. Russian guests are so common that on the Israeli side of the sea you are as likely to find local hotel staff speaking Russian as speaking English. The majority of visitors to Jordan are from Europe (not surprising when you consider it is just over five hours flight time from London to the Jordanian capital Amman), but there is a substantial number of American, Australian, South Asian and Arabic tourists in the mix. They all float merrily in the water, giggle with delight in the oxygen-rich air and cover themselves from head to toe in the sticky black mud, many returning year after year. These Dead Sea devotees are on to something – there is a unique convergence of environmental factors that makes the region unlike anywhere else on earth with proven health benefits according to modern day science. At more than 400 metres below sea level it is the planet’s lowest point not covered by ice. As a result, the region records the world’s highest barometric pressure resulting in air that contains eight per cent more oxygen molecules than air at sea level. Vegetation is very sparse because w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

of the dry climate and so the super-oxygenated air is virtually pollen free. There are proven benefits for sufferers of lung disease, asthma and cystic fibrosis, but anyone staying for more than a few days should feel the positive effects of clean air and more oxygen in their blood stream. The sun shines almost every day of the year but, due to an extra layer of atmospheric pressure provided by the extremely low altitude, harmful UVB rays are minimised. This means that skin will not burn even after prolonged exposure to the sun. This may be one of the only places in the world where you can get a truly healthy tan. Many of the spa clinics have set up outdoor natural solariums designed with reflective panels to catch the maximum amount of sunlight, and they are divided into male and female areas if you feel the need to strip off for an all over glow. More than eight times saltier than the ocean, the sea itself is the world’s deepest hypersaline lake with around 33 per cent salinity, which makes the unusual floating possible. The water contains 26 minerals, such as magnesium, calcium, bromide, sulpher and zinc. Of these minerals, all are found in unusually high concentrations and 12 are found in no other ocean or sea. According to articles published in peer reviewed journals such as International Journal of Dermatology, swimming in the water is said to be good for everything from muscle relaxation to skin regeneration and even has an anti-inflammatory effect. Bobbing around in the water for the recommended 20 minutes can reduce skin aging by promoting faster cell regeneration and may even reduce the depth of wrinkles. It’s as if nature has created its very own dry, sunny, mineral rich spa in the middle of the Arabic desert. 83


LEGEND HAS IT THAT THE QUEEN OF SHEBA WAS THE FIRST TO BELIEVE IN ITS RESTORATIVE POWERS AND THAT CLEOPATRA HERSELF TRAVELLED FROM EGYPT TO BUILD THE WORLD’S FIRST SPA ON ITS SHORES. All the traditional spa treatments are here – you can have a Thai massage or a facial and get your eyebrows waxed at any of the hotels. But it’s the specialised medicinal treatments that really set the area apart. Climatic and thalasso (water) therapy are used at the spa clinics to treat skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema and degenerative joint disorders like osteoarthritis. Patients stay for up to four weeks at a time and undergo daily therapies with massages, body wraps, scrubs and sessions in the outdoor solarium all overseen by a doctor or dermatologist. The treatments are centred around the natural elements from the area, using the nutrient rich mud, salt and water. Medical mud wraps are designed to apparently detox the body, improve circulation, increase cell metabolism and, it is claimed even reduce cellulite (the holy grail of spa

WHEN TO GO The Dead Sea region is most pleasant between October and April and can be unbearably hot at other times in year. The sun shines 350 days a year and the area receives only 50mm of rain annually, so you’re almost guaranteed good weather.



WHERE TO STAY MOVENPICK RESORT & SPA DEAD SEA RATES: Beach Rooms from A$696 per night including breakfast and government taxes.

treatments). Everyone, from spa therapists to boys spruiking the products in souvenir stores, promises that your skin will be like a baby’s after you’ve been covered in the sticky black mud from the area. Baby soft might be overreaching, but my skin certainly felt softer and more moisturised. The use of natural products is also a bonus for people who, like me, have very sensitive skin. If you want to go totally au naturel you can create your own spa treatment on the shores of the sea. Slather yourself in the mud and let it bake in the sun. Float around in the water and relax while the minerals are absorbed into your skin. Retire to your deckchair and breathe deeply in the oxygen-rich air as the sun sets on one of the most remarkable regions in the world. n

KEMPINSKI HOTEL ISHTAR RATES: Ishtar Jacuzzi Suites from A$842 per night including breakfast and government taxes. GETTING THERE Emirates flies to Amman, the Jordanian capital, via Dubai daily from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Return business class fares start from A$7,913 and economy from A$2,683. The Dead Sea is just over an hour’s drive from Amman airport, or 40 minutes from Amman itself. Hotels in the region will arrange airport

transfers for around JOD45 (about A$59) for two people each way. The Jordan Tourist Board has more information about Jordan and the Dead Sea at This Adventure Word holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent. HEALTH, WELLNESS AND HISTORY Main image: the Ashur pool at the Kempinski Hotel Ishtar. Inset from left: salt formations on the shore; the Movenpick Resort & Spa; float easily in the hypersaline water.

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Luxury redefined

Live like a rock star… spoil yourself Sheraton on the Park is home to the stars with over fifty suites, most with expansive balconies overlooking majestic Hyde Park, St Mary’s Cathedral and Sydney’s Middle Harbour. Escape today and be pampered!

To make a reservation or for more information please call 02 9286 6000 or email

Suites from $ 499 per night Sheraton on the Park 161 Elizabeth Street Sydney NSW 2000

TWINKLING LIGHTS OF TELLURIDE The historic town of Telluride was originally a mining town on the frontier of the Wild West.

Telluride SKI TOWN

Part historic alpine town, part serious ski-field, Telluride in the Colorado mountains is a high-altitude playground for snow-lovers. Jenny Caspersonn tests the slopes.


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s we step out of the cozy warmth of the restaurant onto the snowy pavement of Telluride’s charming Main Street, enormous dry Colorado snow crystals are falling heavily. We walk a short distance but I must stop for a snowflakes-that-stay-on-my-nose-and-eyelashes moment. It’s then I glance down and see the simple painted door with its small plaque. It reads “Mahr Building 1892. Site of the San Miguel Valley Bank. Butch Cassidy’s first bank robbery June 24, 1889.” I have to remind myself that the mountains of Colorado were once the frontiers of the Wild West. Indeed it was here that Robert Leroy Parker – aka Butch Cassidy – and two others made off with US$22,000 in broad daylight from the San Miguel Valley Bank in the summer of 1889. The streets of the historic town of Telluride remain largely unchanged and it is not difficult to imagine the robbers galloping past the redbrick hotels and clapboard shop-fronts into the nearby hills. But it’s there they would have had their work cut out for them. The “hills” around Telluride are in fact soaring mountain peaks of some 14,000 feet. In fact there are no less than 54 of them and they provide the backdrop to one of the most picturesque ski resorts in North America. Telluride has evolved from the booming mining town of Butch Cassidy’s day to a hip ski resort while delicately preserving the charm of its origins. Indeed Telluride is designated a National Historic Landmark District and any new construction must preserve the town’s image and history. Telluride itself is laid out in two villages. The historic town of Telluride rests in a box canyon at 8,750 feet above sea level on the northern slope of the ski mountains and is the original mining town. Its charming wide streets are lined with Victorian architecture of painted timber houses and original storefronts. One can easily picture the horses hitched outside the saloons and old hotels. We are told that one local known as Rowdy still brings his horse right into the bar on Main Street. The newer, purpose-built Mountain Village is connected to Telluride by a free 13-minute gondola ride. Located at 9,500 feet Mountain Village offers alpine ski in ski out accommodation with stylish amenities and is home to Telluride Ski Resort Headquarters as well as an 18-hole championship golf course. The towering peaks of the San Juan Mountains can exact a price: beware the altitude as it can affect many unsuspecting people. Take it easy for the first few days, drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol and coffee if possible. Apart from its charming historic feel and breathtaking scenery Telluride enjoys a reputation as a skier’s mountain, with terrain to challenge the most adventurous skiers. Of the 2,000 plus acres of skiable terrain advanced and expert skiers have 41 per cent while intermediate skiers enjoy 36 per cent and 23 per cent is designated for beginners. There are 125 trails with the Galloping Goose the longest at 7.4 88

Where to stay

Getting there

LUMIERE Telluride, CO Rates: from A$759 per night for the two-bedroom Dallas penthouse that can sleep up to four people and has a gourmet kitchen, large deck and four person hot tub.

V Australia flies twice daily from Sydney, twice a day four days a week from Brisbane and twice a day three days a week from Melbourne to Denver via Los Angeles (codesharing with Frontier Airlines from LAX to Denver). Flights start

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from A$3,405 return economy and A$9,062 return for business class. Telluride is the highest airport in the US and is often closed due to weather. Nearby Montrose is a safer bet for flight reliability. United operates daily one hour flights from Denver to Montrose starting at A$329 return.

Telluride Express operates private shuttles to Telluride from Montrose (about 90 minutes) starting from US$300 for up to five people travelling together one way. This Adventure World Ski holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.

SKI THE SAN JUAN MOUNTAINS Top from left: get cosy in front of the fire in one of Lumiere’s condos; sunny days outside Gorrono Ranch restaurant; mountain views from Lumiere. Bottom: the main street of Telluride, largely unchanged since the late 19th century. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

kilometres. There is a lift capacity of 22,386 plus per hour and the place was never crowded, despite the perfect February snow conditions. Four terrain parks keep skiers and riders defying gravity with any number of jumps, rails and boxes. Beyond the skiing there are loads of other winter activities to try like backcountry skiing and snow boarding, snow shoeing, Helitrax helicopter skiing, winter fly fishing, glider rides and ice climbing. For those who like to rev their engines, with Telluride Snowmobile Adventures you can gun the 550cc snowmobiles around the mountain, including a visit to an historic ghost town of Alta, deserted since 1948. Accommodation varies from charming original properties like the New Sheridan Hotel, an historic luxury boutique hotel with its famous mahogany bar unchanged since 1895 and renowned Chop House restaurant. Or the Hotel Columbia, well located near the gondola and recently remodeled. In Mountain Village new properties such as Lumiere are a luxurious option. Guests at the self-contained condo style Lumiere are treated to the helpful ski valet and Black Tie rentals who fit guests in room, an intimate bar restaurant perfect for après ski fireside sushi and a glass of wine which, by morning, is the setting of the sumptuous breakfast creations from chef Gary. The enormous four-bedroom penthouse apartment would be a knockout accommodation option for families. Telluride also has the dining scene covered with a slew of outstanding restaurants to choose from. Try Allred’s, 9545 Restaurant and Bar, Fat Alley BBQ, 221 South Oak, the charming Mexican sushi nook Pescado, the tiny onmountain delight Alpino Vino and don’t miss Rustico which serves the famous LL steaks from Ralph Lauren’s nearby ranch. There’s a thriving cultural and arts scene there, perhaps most famously the Telluride Film Festival that began in 1974 and now attracts over 5,000 cinema buffs to the historic Sheridan Opera House and other film venues. In mid June the Telluride Blue Grass Festival attracts 18,000 visitors and for Blues & Brews in September around 10,000 people come to town. The Telluride locals are cool and unpretentious. They know their town is a treasure but they are not smug or complacent, simply friendly and happy to be sharing their beautiful location with visitors. It is a small, safe community exemplified by the Free Box where locals can deposit redundant gear and clothing to be taken and used by the next person. No one is exactly certain of the origins of the name Telluride. Conventional wisdom is that it is named from the chemical element “tellurium” although interestingly it is not mined there. Others believe it was an amalgamation of the phrase “to hell u ride!” which was said to the prospectors setting off on the dangerous journey to seek their fortunes in the rugged San Juan Mountains. For Butch Cassidy and his accomplices escaping on horseback with their loot that day in 1889, it would certainly have been a helluva ride. n 89


Asian Alps The launch of a new five-star ski resort placed South Korea firmly on the list of the world’s luxury ski destinations. Katia Iervasi reports.


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SOUTH KOREAN SLOPES The ski resort of Yongpyeong in Pyeongchang has been at the center of the country’s Winter Olympic bids. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u



SKI PYEONGCHANG South Korea has always had the elements to make it a key player on the world ski scene: rolling snow-capped mountains, hundreds of feet of slopes and in some places fresh snow for most of the year. Until last year, it had attracted its share of the world’s ski enthusiasts but had failed to appeal to those looking for luxury lodgings. Now the county of Pyeongchang, 180 kilometres east of Seoul, is the world’s newest luxury ski destination thanks to the opening of the five-star ski resort, InterContinental Alpensia. The launch of the hotel and Pyeongchang’s facelift was partly to bolster the county’s winning bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics but it has also revitalised the region and turned it into a must-visit on the list of every ski enthusiast. In Pyeongchang, South Korea now has the facilities to compete with the well-known and much loved European ski resorts. It has dubbed itself the Alps of Asia, a reference to the incredible scenery of the European Alps, but in South Korea it of course has a distinctly Asian tone; the panoramic surroundings (including the snow-capped peaks of the Taebaek Mountains and the Mount Baekdu) have a quintessentially Asian landscape character which is accentuated by charming Korean-style villages nestled among the mountains. WHERE TO STAY The InterContinental Alpensia, which opened in late 2009/2010, is the only five-star complex in the Korean ski fields. The resort and village was purpose built to Olympic standards and it offers a list of activities that includes six snowboarding and skiing slopes to choose from, including a 1.4 kilometre slope reserved for beginners or the not-so-confident, and a ski jumping tower that is the largest in Korea

and has become a landmark because of its prime position in the picturesque snow-scape. Super fit skiers will be challenged by Alpensia’s cross-country circuit that is said to be the most gruelling in Asia. There are also plenty of other ways to get sporty at Alpensia that don’t involve bundling up in snow gear. Adventure seekers can hit the X-Game, which is all about testing your limits, and keen golfers can have a putt at the resort’s greens, the Troon Country Club or the Alpensia 700 Golf Club. Children and the young at heart can make a splash at the modern Ocean 700 Water Park and catch some awesome views of Pyeongchang as they go down the slides. The hotel’s alpine-style village setting also gives it a perfect apres-ski ambience. The hotel’s wellness centre houses the I-Spa, with six treatment rooms, a sauna and an outdoor hot tub. The hotel has its own retail village which houses specialty and global brand shops. It also has plenty of places to refuel, dine, and wine between activities or after a long day. There are three food courts in the Alpensia Village that have all the typical fast food chains as well as cafes. In the InterContinental itself, there are two main dining options. Flavours is an Italian-style restaurant serving buffet and à la carte all day from an open show kitchen. The Oxy Lounge has floor to ceiling windows, an open fireplace and serves snacks and cocktails all day, and afternoon tea. The rooms and suites are elegant and spacious. Guests can choose from the King, Junior, Executive, Deluxe, Alpensia or Presidential suites and all classes of suites have mod cons like flat screen televisions, iPod stations and high-speed internet. Guests who stay in the deluxe suites and above get free drinks, free breakfast, free daily newspaper delivery and other benefits in the Club InterContinental Lounge.

The resort is family friendly with room configurations including twin rooms and adjoining suites. Planet Trekkers kids club will occupy the kids as will enrolling them in the ski school. RATES At the InterContinental, room rates start from KRW152,000 (A$132) per weekday night, and KRW169,000 (A$146) per weekend night. This holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent. GETTING THERE Korean Air flies directly from Sydney to Seoul’s Incheon International Airport on a daily basis, and from Melbourne and Brisbane three times a week. The flight time is approximately 10 hours 20 minutes from Sydney, 10 hours 40 minutes from Melbourne, and 9 hours 30 minutes from Brisbane. Return economy airfares start from A$1,531 per person and business class from A$4,265. The InterContinental Alpensia resort is a three and a half hour drive from the airport. While there is an Airport Railroad Express, an Airport Bus and taxis available, the most comfortable and efficient option would be a car transfer. OneLimo Seoul and the Royal American Limousine Setvice both offer luxury transfers between any hotel and destination in South Korea. You will need to pre-book your transfers between 24 and 48 hours beforehand. These airfares and transfers can be booked through your Travel Agent. WHEN TO GO The Pyeongchang area enjoys an extended winter which lasts from November to March. During these four to five months, the weather is cold, dry, and perfect for a ski holiday.

FIVE-STAR FACILITIES Main image: a skier hits the slopes in the Asian Alps. Inset from top: an Executive Suite at the InterContinental Alpensia; all suites at the Alpensia have separate living areas. 93

Dance to a different beat. Korea. From the thunder of traditional drums to pulsating modern day hip-hop dance, we guarantee that your memories of Korean culture will live on forever in your heart.


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EYE ON THE TIGER The wild population of the solitary Bengal tiger is only 1,706 estimated invididuals.



Madeleine Stratton journeyed to the jungles of India in search of one of the world’s biggest and most endangered cats, the Bengal tiger.


n March this year at the International Conference on Tiger Conservation in New Delhi, Indian Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh announced that India’s tiger population was on the rise. Despite the Bengal tiger having been (somewhat ironically) the national symbol of India for thousands of years, over millennia the country’s tiger population has been diminished by, in no particular order, the British and Indian upper-class for whom tiger hunting was sport in colonial times, illegal poaching rings seeking pelts and other parts to sell on the black market, and habitat destruction due to the need to accommodate India’s burgeoning human population. It wasn’t until 1972 with the establishment of Project Tiger that any serious efforts were made by the Indian Government to halt the decline and avoid the extinction of these magnificent creatures. Project Tiger works within specially constituted Tiger Reserves, of which there are currently 39, to protect, maintain and boost the population. The

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program initially had some success, increasing the population from around 1,200 to 3,500 in the 1990s, but continued instances of illegal poaching reduced that number back down to 1,411 by 2008. Compared to that figure, the news that 1,706 tigers now inhabit the reserves of India was celebrated by conservationists both in India and across the globe, the ten percent increase a small but significant victory in the fight to save the tiger from extinction. I was lucky enough to see not just one, but six wild tigers in India. Okay, so five of the six were cubs, but they still count, and they get bonus points for being cute. I spent five days in India, staying at two of AndBeyond’s four Indian safari lodges (operated in partnership with Taj Hotels and Resorts). Baghvan, five minutes from the entrance to Pench National Park, is a collection of 12 bungalow suites set on either side of a central kitchen, dining and living building. Each air-conditioned bungalow suite is made up of two separate buildings, a bedroom and a bathroom, linked by wooden platform. They each have a private outdoor shower and a 95

MY ELEPHANT DELICATELY PICKED ITS WAY UP A ROCKY HILL FOR A FEW MINUTES AND THEN STOPPED NOT SIX METRES AWAY FROM A HUGE ROCK, ON WHICH TWO TIGER CUBS LANGUISHED LAZILY. machan, a covered rooftop platform, which, with its enormous comfy and cushioned mattress, can be used for both relaxing during the day or sleeping out under a mosquito net by night, although I was warned to be wary of cheeky langur monkeys, which have been known to take over the machans of unoccupied bungalows for their own monkey business. There are two game drives a day in Pench, one early in the morning and one at dusk, operated by Taj Safaris for AndBeyond and Taj Hotels and Resorts. My first drive was in the afternoon and began with a presentation from my assigned naturalist Veerjeej, outlining the park, the areas we would be travelling through and the wildlife we’d be likely to see, including the tiger. Led by Veerjeej and accompanied by two German lodge guests, we started off along route five. For those familiar with African safaris, the Indian reserves have a very different system, operating along allocated routes. Drivers are not permitted to stray from their allotted route for the day and there are no mobile phones or radios allowed inside the parks, so in order to communicate the whereabouts of various sightings, all the different drivers in the park communicate face to face over the sides of their jeeps as they pass each other. We saw countless spotted deer, the occasional odd-looking blue bull, and those cheeky langur monkeys, who like to casually sit on the edge of the dirt track right up until the minute the jeep is upon them then leap and bound back into the trees (and as we passed and I turned to check I saw that they’d moved right back into their comfortable roadside positions). While Veerjeej had informed us the area was home to a dominant male tiger (my companions had seen him only the day before), a tigress with two cubs, and her two grown-up daughters (each with two and five cubs respectively), they remained hidden for the duration of that dusk drive. Nevertheless, we set out the next morning in the hopes of catching just a glimpse of one of Pench’s tigers. Impatient to see them, I was advised we’d be trying our luck at the elephant camp that morning. The camp is inside the reserve and is home to elephants used by trackers to find tigers. The tracker riding the elephant spends the morning out on the safari trails, looking for tracks hopefully to the location of a resting tiger and the elephants are rewarded for their efforts upon return with enormous chapatti prepared at the camp. The naturalists take visitors to the camp to take a number to wait in line, so that if and when the trackers are successful, you can go back later in the morning and get directed to the location of the tigers. That morning they located not just one tiger, but the tigress with her five cubs. When we arrived at the location, we were asked to wait inside the vehicle. Then, when it was our turn, we were invited to swap the jeep for an elephant. Climbing aboard, I perched precariously on the back of my elephant as it trundled off into the lantana. As the tigers are solitary, and prefer hidden shaded places to rest rather than out in the open, the elephants are the best way to get a close look, as they don’t disturb the tigers, and the tigers don’t tend to bother them either. My elephant delicately picked its way up a rocky hill for a few minutes and then stopped not six metres away from a huge rock, on which two tiger cubs languished lazily. Camera at the ready, I focused on those two sleeping cats, who, just like the domestic ones back home, had stretched right out on the rock to maximise their warmth under the sun (one rolled onto its back, almost as if it wanted me to rub its belly). A little to the left, a little lower, eyes refocusing on a patch of thick woven lantana and I saw that, had I reached out to the cub, I would’ve been lucky to return with my arm intact – the tigress, hidden under the 96

branches, was watching her two young ones like a hawk. Looking a little harder, I could see her three other cubs also snoozing under the shade and protection of the lantana. Tigers seen, snaps taken, I had to head back as my turn was up. Riding high on the elation of having ticked the tiger off my list, we headed back to the lodge. I had one more drive that afternoon, and the tigers were nowhere to be found, eluding us once more. The next afternoon I headed north to a second lodge, Banjaar Tola, on the edge of Kanha National Park. Banjaar Tola is a tented safari camp, and in contrast to Baghvan, set on the edge of an open plain and overlooking the Kanha forests and the Banjaar river. The 18 airconditioned tents are divided into two rooms, again, one for sleeping and one the bathroom. The tents get very hot, so I was grateful for the constant humming of the air-con going in the background, the only disturbance to an otherwise perfectly peaceful lodging. The game drives at Kanha were led by naturalist and driver known as DK, and as he drove through the lush sal forests of Kanha we saw many more spotted deer and sambar, male peacocks proudly displaying their regalia. We stopped every now and again to listen for the distress calls, a clear indicator that a tiger is prowling nearby. We heard something like a spotted deer distress call, but on closer inspection found it was just an early mating call. Still on the lookout for tigers, DK told me that leopards also inhabit the area, best found in the very early or late hours of the day. Indian leopards are hard to spot because they usually don’t come out until after the parks have closed, and also, with the increased tiger population (tigers being the dominant species in the area) the leopards tend to stay away for fear of being chased off or even killed by the larger predators. Currently classified as a near-threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the Indian leopard faces a similar fate to the tiger due to habitat loss and poaching, and currently there is no government plan in action to protect the species. There are no game drives in Kanha National Park on Wednesday afternoons, in order to give the park staff the afternoon off, so instead the camp can organise other activities to keep you occupied – I went saree shopping in a local village, at which many of the property’s staff live. Aside from supporting the wildlife and reserves, both Baghvan and Banjaar Tola employ and train local people. And Taj Safaris is the only safari operator in India that trains its own naturalists, operating a permanent training school in Kahna. Each lodge also has systems in place to ensure sustainability and reduce carbon footprints by using renewable energy and water and waste management. Aside from Project Tiger, other initiatives being undertaken in the reserves include relocation programs. In February this year AndBeyond in conjunction with Indian authorities relocated 19 gaurs (bison) from Kanha to Bandhavgarh National Park to save the species from extinction in that area. Having seen a herd of these huge beasts at Kanha I imagine that was no mean feat. Given how few Bengal tigers are left, the opportunity to see six of them in the wild was a rare experience I won’t be forget soon. Despite the success of Project Tiger across India, in 2005 one reserve, Sariska in the state Rajasthan, lost its entire tiger population to poaching, and while in 2005 several tigers were relocated from another reserve it served as a sobering reminder that the battle to save the magnificent Bengal tiger from extinction is not over yet. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u


LUXURY ON THE EDGE OF THE JUNGLE Banjaar Tola comprises 18 contemporary-style luxury safari tents. Below, from left: one of the shared living areas at Bagvhan; the luxury tents overlook the Banjaar river at Banjaar Tola; a Bagvhan naturalist on the job in Pench National Park.

WHEN TO GO I went in summer, which is a great time for viewing because of great visibility, but don’t go if you can’t handle the heat, as the temperatures reach high thirties and low forties, and while the forest canopy will offer some protection on drives, out in the open you may get burnt. Winters are also pleasant, but rug up on the drives as the vehicles are open to the elements. Both parks close for the monsoon season, Kanha National Park closes from July to mid-October, and Pench National Park closes from mid-June to September. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

WHERE TO STAY BAGVHAN Rates: from A$433 per person per night.


Rates: from A$433 per person per night. Rates for both properties include three meals, drinks, two safaris, park fees and emergency medical evacuation insurance. Properties only operate between 16 October, 2011 and 30 June, 2012. This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.

GETTING THERE Thai Airways flies to Mumbai via Bangkok from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth. Economy class fares start from A$1,653 return and business class from A$4,003 return. The 1.5 hour flight from Mumbai to Nagpur is operated by Jet Airways and prices start from A$653 return. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent. Bagvhan is a two-hour drive from Nagpur, Banjaar Tola is five and a half hours away. The properties can arrange transfers. 97



shining dining stars

Jenny Caspersonn explores England’s historic county of Yorkshire in search of Michelin stars.


orkshire doesn’t spring to mind as a gourmet destination. Certainly it can boast the magnificent Yorkshire Dales, the inspiration for the works of the tragic Bronte sisters who lived and died so young at their parsonage home in Howath. And there’s no doubt that it’s produced a cast of colourful characters. Captain James Cook was from Whitby in Yorkshire. Furniture-maker Thomas Chippendale, the traitor Guy Fawkes and good-guy outlaw Robin Hood all hailed from the Yorkshire region. Cricket legends Geoffrey Boycott and Fred Trueman were also Yorkshire-born. In gourmet terms we’ve all heard of Yorkshire Pudding, but who knew that Yorkshire is home to six Michelin-starred restaurants? In fact it boasts more stars than any other county in England.

Box Tree Restaurant

We start our Michelin journey northwest of the bustling regional city of Leeds at the Box Tree Restaurant in Ilkley which opened in 1962, and soon became Northern England’s most successful restaurant, sporting two Michelin stars. Today Simon and Rena Gueller are continuing the Box Tree’s fine culinary tradition of modern French cuisine with the menu changing daily to embrace the freshest produce. Celebrated chef Marco Pierre White, who worked at Box Tree early in his career, recently announced he would be joining Simon and Rena on future projects at the Box Tree. The setting is very cozy on a chilly February evening. The ceilings in this 1720 stone cottage – one of the oldest in Ilkley - are low and the fire is gently crackling in the sitting room. Over a glass of champagne and an amuse-bouche diners are given a detailed outline of the menu and orders are taken before entering the lovely dining room. Despite the intimacy of the premises there is a space to suit all diners, from couples seeking a romantic dinner to a lively group celebration where up to 50 guests can be accommodated. There is a private lounge and separate private dining room for total seclusion if required. The impressive 21 page wine list is comprehensive to say the least. 98

SAMPLE MENU: · Roast Hand Dived Sea Scallops, Salad of Smoked Eel, Braeburn Apple, Autumn Truffle, Celeriac Puree · Papillotte of Squab Pigeon & Foie Pomme Mousseline, Wild Mushrooms, Red Wine Sauce · Warm Valrhona Chocolate Brownie, Espresso Anglaise, Chocolate Ice Cream

The Yorke Arms

From charming spa town of Harrogate for morning tea at the iconic Betty’s Café we head north to visit the glorious Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal. A World Heritage site, this is Britain’s most complete Cistercian abbey and one of the country’s most spectacular Georgian water gardens. Then it’s west toward Pately Bridge bringing us to the majestic moors of Yorkshire Dales National Park. The road is edged by the low stone walls that hug the shores of the reservoir until the ivy-covered sight of The Yorke Arms comes into view. An 18th century coaching house and shooting lodge, the Yorke Arms lies on the Ramsgill village green in the picturesque Nidderdale Valley. Chef Francis Atkins is a Fellow of the Masterchefs of Great Britain and co-owns the Yorke Arms. She is one of only six Michelin rated female chefs in the UK. Like the uncomplicated but tasteful dining room itself, Atkins’s offerings are simple with comfortable combinations but with distinctive flair and imaginative touches. Her ingredients are fresh and flavorsome, many grown on the premises. The Yorke Arms is one of the UK’s leading restaurants with rooms and the breakfast continues the culinary standards of the prior evening. Newly constructed garden and outdoor eating facilities will complete the perfect dine and stay experience. SAMPLE MENU: · Langoustine, Leek Veloute, Squid & Chorizo Wild Salmon Mid Cuit · Herb Crusted Nidderdale Lamb, Mutton Pudding Kidney, Barley Rice, Root Puree · Strawberry Bavarois, Peach, Walnut, Thyme Pannacotta w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

THE STARS OF THE NORTH Top: Fountains Abbey is Britain’s most complete Cisterian abbey. Clockwise bottom from left: the Box Tree Restaurant, Ilkey; pull up a chair at the Devonshire Arms; dine amongst the 18th century features of The Yorke Arms.

GETTING THERE: British Airways operates a double daily flight from Sydney to London via either Singapore or Bangkok. Fares start from A$2,996 return for economy class and A$7,986 return for business class. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent. Leeds and York are a little over two hours by train from London. Trains leave one to three times an hour. Tickets can be booked online through and start from £44.40 (about A$68) to both York Station and Leeds Station for a first class one-way ticket. Tickets go up in price significantly as the travel date approaches.

The Devonshire Arms Country House, Hotel and Spa

From Nidderdale it’s southwest toward Skipton to visit the Bronte Parsonage Museum where that tragic family lived and are buried. Inspired by the wild beauty of the moors, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights remains one of the world’s most enduring love stories. Our destination here is The Devonshire Arms Country House, Hotel and Spa situated on the Duke of Devonshire’s 30,000 acre Bolton Abbey Estate. Here at the lovely The Burlington Restaurant diners peruse the creations of award-winning Head Chef Steve Smith in the plush cocktail lounge, amid the overstuffed sofas and abundant floral arrangements. Guests are then ushered into one of two dining rooms: the formal dining room is furnished with polished antique furniture w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

and heavy silverware while the conservatory is lighter with a more contemporary ambiance. The tasting menu is a medley of flavours, perfectly proportioned and visually stunning. SAMPLE MENU: · Foie gras ballottine, Goosnargh duck textures, Fig fluid gel, Toasted brioche · Smoked sirloin, Braised blade & tongue Artichoke risotto, Nameko, Vanilla · Tiramisu Mascarpone parfait, Coffee, Amaretto Liquorice ice-cream This holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent. 99

into the wild Without hesitation, at a moment’s notice, Sandra Nori jumped on a plane to Nairobi for a chance to glimpse the wildlife on the plains of Kenya.


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JUST LION AROUND Lionesses keep a watchful eye out for prey on the dry plains of the Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u



t was a last minute invitation, with not a day spare to get ready. It was inconvenient and meant rearranging things at short notice, but there was never any doubt that I would go. Why? Because it was Africa. Even though I had been there some 15 months earlier, I hadn’t been to Kenya before and I’d always wanted to see the open plains of the Maasai Mara. The great thing about Kenya is you can do game drives virtually out of Nairobi. In fact, when you fly in or out on a domestic flight if you look carefully you can see game just out of the city in the Nairobi National Park, only seven kilometres from the centre of the city. The famous Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club is a convenient threehour drive from Nairobi. It is beautifully located, with the snowcapped Mount Kenya looming in front of you. The club was started by American movie star William Holden and became a favourite haunt of Hollywood stars in its day. It’s best described as a luxury country club style resort, with the equator running right through middle of the courtyard and the aptly named Equatorial suite. It has a golf course, a pool and deck and magnificent birdlife right on the doorstep, and the activities available include horse riding as well as game drives. When I arrived the property was cool because of its high altitude, but it is the altitude that makes possible the magnificent views. Here the turn down service includes the lighting of the open fire in your room while you’re at dinner, and the placement of a hot water bottle in your bed. Our next stop was the Lewa Conservancy. Seventy-five per cent of Kenya’s wildlife is outside National Parks on private and community land run as private conservancies by private individuals.

Conservancies involve entire local communities in preserving wildlife and the communities benefit from revenue sharing. Typically wildlife conservancies encourage high income, low impact tourism and only environmentally responsible lodges and camps are allowed to operate within the conservancies. The conservancies support local schools near the camps and other small community projects. The lodges and camps inside conservancies employ and train staff from the local area and use environmentally friendly best practices to manage the properties. Unlike the national parks, guests can go off-road in a private conservancy, though you would never realise you are not in a national park. No wonder Prince William chose the slopes of Mount Kenya overlooking the Lewa Conservancy to propose to the Duchess of Cambridge. We saw some magnificent sights there. Just getting to our accommodation was a game drive in itself. On our way to bed for the night, we called in to see a mother cheetah and her two four-month-old cubs. We sat transfixed for 20 minutes while 20 metres away they played with each other, cuddled and jumped on mum’s tail. Unlike other large cats, cheetah rarely rest, and while mum was quite relaxed with us there, she never quite gave up her sentry duty. We also saw zebra, giraffe, elephants and lions, including a newly post partum and first time lion mum sunning herself in the last moments of proper sunlight, her less than six-week-old cubs still hidden from the pride. We saw Vervet monkeys playing up, baboons, warthogs and lionesses in the sunset, alert, walking at a brisk pace on the nightly round for a feed. Next stop, the Maasai Mara. After a one-hour flight we were greeted

THE MAASAI MARA The plains of this Kenyan Game Reserve are home to Africa’s big cats, as well as the site of the annual Great Migration of zebra, wildebeest and Thompson’s gazelle. 102

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heirarchy of a hippo kill A hippo carcass can feed a lot of animals, but there is a strict feeding order and the feast can often go on for days. In our case, after the lions had eaten their fill of hippo the hyenas were there, the vultures too and several jackal. The hippo had by now lost all its hide and limbs, there was only a skeleton. One hyena crawled within the rib cage to have a better gnash and gnaw. The poor little jackals had to keep chasing off the vultures, leaping into the air to scare the birds off, and this was just for a place in the queue. They were hours away from an actual go at the carcass.

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with a fruit cocktail and hot towel on the airstrip. Also waiting was our Maasai game drive guide and our own personal Maasai warrior guard complete with machete, spears and bow and arrows – and not for show either. The jeep drive to camp was an expedition in itself. I saw vultures sitting patiently on a tree overlooking a thicket, and was told by the Maasai guide-driver there was kill in that thicket. Later, as we drove on the embankment of the Mara river we saw a truly odd sight: a hyena stone-hopping across the river with something in its mouth. It took a while to work out it was a young gazelle. Had the hyena chased the gazelle into the river? Or had it noticed it in there already drowned? Either way, that hyena was taking a huge risk because hippos and crocs could have easily attacked it and won. It was the first of what would be many signs of hunger on the plains. The rains were late and the predators were doing it tough. We arrived at Mara Ngenche Camp, our next accommodation, to a seated check-in in an open tent and more cocktails served on wonderful plush lounges, surrounded by trees and no wire fences. With the Talek and Mara rivers intersecting about 300 metres away there were elephants nearby, hippos in the river below us, and cats wandering around. Later that day I was sitting at a little outdoor table writing some notes, looking out to the bush in front of me when I saw what I thought was a boulder the size of a soccer ball. Taking little notice of it, I went on for at least 10 minutes, then noticed the “boulder” rotate. It took me a fair few seconds to work out that it was not a boulder but a hyena crouched down having a good look at me, before it got up and slunk away. That is how camouflage works. It’s not, as commonly thought, that the patterns stop you from seeing the creature. You see it all right but your brain doesn’t recognise it for what it is. I quickly got up, moved into my tent and zipped it up. My guard was just to the side and I was in no danger, but I was certainly close to the action. My tent was no ordinary tent; purpose-designed, spacious, well appointed and tastefully decorated. There’s a four poster bed, deep bath tub, flushing toilet, outdoor shower, lounges and armchairs, solar-powered electricity and outdoor coffee setting. The owner and our host, the delightful Minaz Manji describes it as “affordable luxury.” There are only six tents in the entire camp and the staff to guest ratio is very high. While waiting for lunch something caught my eye. I looked down onto a rocky platform in the middle of the river where we had noticed a magnificent African Fish Eagle resting. Something started rushing, like a serpent, charging at the eagle. It had no legs, it looked like a gigantic concertinaed serpent except it couldn’t be. The eagle took off vertically just in time, narrowly avoiding being taken. The “serpent” slowed down and now I could see its legs. The second it knew it had missed its mark it stopped (no point wasting energy) and did a 90-degree turn to slink off into the river. It was a croc, moving so fast my eye hadn’t registered its legs. After lunch we set off for an afternoon game drive. I could see we were heading to the place where I’d seen the vultures, and sure enough a lion pride was there, the male bloated and completely out of it under a tree. We saw two lionesses and six five-monthsold cubs tucking into the hippo they had brought down. Now that is unusual, hippos are usually safe from lion. It confirmed to me what I already knew; the rains had not come and prey was scarce. Our Maasai guide told us it took five lionesses and the male (who actually co-operated) to bring that hippo down. The carcass was in a thicket, it still had a head, four limbs and feet and its ribcage was 103


still covered in a thick hide. The cubs, while not game to growl at their mother or aunt who were also feeding, did growl at each other. I don’t know how they could breathe, their heads seemed to be tucked right into the carcass. One cub spent the whole afternoon fruitlessly trying to eat the hippo’s feet. The cubs would come up for air and just slump like little drunks and snooze for five minutes before tucking in again with gusto. We’d seen enough and were heading into the lower light of sunset when we saw one of the most astonishing things. We were about two metres away from the hippo carcass and we could see what the lions could not. It was a jackal, hidden by the rest of the foliage and thicket, coming towards the carcass. It was about one metre away. Such a game move. We watched as it took two steps forward, then one step backwards, slinking forward again then back, thinking better of it. Food was so close yet so far. All it needed was one little chomp, but given its place in the pecking order, this was a very plucky jackal, but a smart one because it knew that once the hyenas moved in it would be third in line. It was trying to get in early, you could see the dilemma

on its face, in its gait, its whole being. It was taking a calculated risk, then all of a sudden one of the cubs spotted it. Immediately the cub was in perfect stalk pose as if it were an experienced adult. Its entire demeanour changed. It had the characteristic slight twitch in its back signalling that it was ready to spring forth. This cub was twice the size of the jackal. It was a tense moment for us. Would the cub spring? Suddenly it did make its move but, mid-spring, it flopped on to its side and then its back, fast asleep. In a split second it had gone from noble beast on the hunt to “out to it”, its tummy looking as if it had been stuffed with pillows. If I have ever witnessed something that would make David Attenborough envious, this was it. I looked out over the dry savannah and for the sake of the animals I hoped for rain. Every type of creature was there but only in small numbers as most of them were still on the Serengeti in Tanzania, waiting for the rains. I tried to imagine what these plains in Kenya would be like in a couple of months time during the migration, as the wildlife make their way from the Serengeti to the Mara. I won’t be wondering for too long because I’ll be back to see it for myself. n

LUXURY ON THE SAVANNAH Top from left: a roaring fire at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club; lion cubs cuddle with their mother after a feed; plush lounges at Mara Ngenche Camp. Bottom: affordable luxury in a custom built tent at Mara Ngenche. 104

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Papua New Guinea is made to measure when it comes to adventure -cruising and, the Australian crew of the TRUE NORTH are unsurpassed when it comes to pampering guests amidst wilderness! Experience all this amazing land has to offer in absolute confidence. Visit countless postcard islands encountering overwhelming hospitality and unchanged village life. Snorkel the most highly regarded coral reef in the world. Join our multiple expedition boats (not rubber boats) and explore mighty rivers deep into the jungle. Climb mountains in the comfort of the ship’s air-conditioned helicopter. Then, each night return to your luxury floating hotel!

North Star Cruises Australia Telephone: (+61 8) 9192 1829 Twenty Five Years of Adventure



TAKE A WALK ON THE WILD SIDE Top: night falls at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club. Bottom from left: the animals are everywhere at the Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club; see giraffe in Kenya; a luxury tent amongst the greenery at Mara Ngenche.






Where to stay

You can go to Kenya any time of the year, however the experience will vary. The best viewing times are from June to February, with the annual wildebeest migration commencing in July.

FAIRMONT MOUNT KENYA SAFARI CLUB Rates: From A$771 per person twin share, which includes two nights accommodation in a Fairmont room, all meals, transfers and domestic flights from Nairobi. MARA NGENCHE CAMP Rates: From A$1,834 per person twin share, which includes two nights accommodation in a luxury safari tent, all meals, scheduled game drives, transfers and domestic flights from Nairobi.

Getting there



When to go


Air Mauritius flies from Melbourne to Mauritius via Kuala Lumpur three times a week, and from Perth to Mauritius via Kuala Lumpur twice a week. There are two Air Mauritius flights from Mauritius to Nairobi a week. Fares start from A$1,645 return for economy class and A$4,175 for business class.

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At first less than enthusiastic, it didn’t take Beatrice Spence long to become totally addicted to the game drives at the AndBeyond Kwandwe Private Game Reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape.

LUXURY LODGINGS Great Fish River Lodge on the AndBeyond Kwandwe Private Game Reserve, South Africa.

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SAFARI GETAWAY Clockwise from top left: guests can spot one of the local leopards on the twice daily game drives; the plush sitting area of Great Fish River Lodge; the Lodge is set on the banks of the Great Fish River. 110

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oing on safari had never been on the top of my list of yet-to-do travel experiences, however now I would say it is something everyone should experience at least once in a lifetime. We were planning a surfing trip to South Africa, but were urged by many friends to go on safari while we were there. From our main location of Cape Town, it was possible to test the safari waters for just three days. We flew by small plane from Cape Town to Port Elizabeth (a one-hour flight) and transferred by car to AndBeyond Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. A two-hour trip, our driver’s enthusiasm for the landscape and the game we would see was contagious, and we were quickly straining to spot the zebras he pointed out en route. AndBeyond Kwandwe Private Game Reserve was opened with philanthropic intentions by an American to increase wealth and employment in one of the poorest provinces, the Eastern Cape, in South Africa, and it now has a reputation as one of the top game reserves in this area. There is now an entire community on the reserve, with childcare and a craft workshop that produces goods that are sold at the entrance shop, including beautiful handmade dolls and jewellery, which we purchased as gifts for friends. A choice of accommodation is offered at two lodges, and also two houses for private groups. We stayed at the Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge, which as the name suggests, is situated along a river with spectacular views of the landscape from most areas of the lodge. Great Fish River Lodge accommodates a maximum of 12 guests, with the main building housing a welcoming lounge with a drinks bar and a large circular wood fire that on the other side opens on to an intimate dining room, with a private library at the end of the house with games, books, and internet available. With its high concave thatched roof, stone walls, leather chesterfields and crystal drinks trays it has the ambience of an old colonial hunting lodge. On arrival we were greeted by the lodge managers and led through to a verandah where lunch was being served at nestles of tables, set with beautiful silver and linen. All guests are housed in separate private suites, spread out around the main building, again along the river. After lunch, we were shown our digs for the next three nights, a large spacious studio room with French doors onto a wooden deck with lounge chairs and a plunge pool. Before leaving us to freshen up, our guide mentioned that an important security feature of the building was to never walk between the main house and your room unescorted at night in case we encountered wildlife, such as a lion! The first safari drive was to be held at 4pm sharp, after afternoon tea. Over tea we were introduced to the English couple with whom we would be sharing the open jeep on our drives and who were experienced safariers. We were also informed that the

morning drives went out at 5am and guests were expected to meet at 4:45am sharp. Rangers would come down to quarters to haul people out of bed who were tardy. My look of disbelief at this news was met by slightly disapproving frowns all round. By the end of the three days I had become well and truly addicted to the drives and was the first up in the jeep in the mornings, rain, hail or shine. Indeed over the next few days we experienced all weather conditions, only retreating back to the lodge when mist made it impossible to see past your hand. South Africa has seven different habitat types – broad ecological life zones with distinct environmental conditions and related sets of plant and animal life. Considered a conservation victory, Kwandwe is home to all of these seven habitat types and the landscape varied from flat, arid, cacti to dense, mountainous scrub. As we headed out on the drives in the rain, looking onto never-ending plains, it seemed an impossible ask that any kind of creature would be spotted, but the rangers and spotters astonished us every time, with Andy our spotter, quite miraculously locating a six centimetre chameleon in a bush 20 metres back from the road, as we drove back to the lodge at night. Apparently, only a handful of times in the last ten years had these been spotted, and only by Andy (who had grown up on the reserve) and his father. The staff at Kwandwe is from all over Africa. Our young ranger, Ryan, came from Zimbabwe where his family had been dispossessed of the land they had farmed for the last thirty years. Nonetheless, he feels he has fallen on his feet at Kwandwe and his excellent knowledge, people skills and passion for the landscape and animals ensured that the drives were fascinating and informative for both experienced and novice safariers. One evening upon our return from a game drive, we were treated to a braai (a traditional South African barbeque) and had the opportunity to taste some of the animals that we had been looking at during the drives: Kudu, ostrich, Guinea fowl etcetera. When weather permits, dinners out on the reserve are organised under the stars. Over our three-day visit we saw all of the big five game including a lioness and her five cubs. The lioness was bored by our jeep and sleepily watched her five inquisitive cubs rolling over each other as they snuck up to the car to inspect it. Leopards were spotted sleeping under trees, and lions and lionesses creeping out from under bushes, blood still dripping from their jaws after they had feasted on their prey. We watched as a herd of elephants with young cubs thundered across the plains, heading into the mountains to seek shelter from the rain. The excitement and wonder of seeing these beautiful animals in their natural habitat put rest to any other thoughts outside the moment being experienced right then and there. Three days seemed like months away from our everyday lives. n

Over tea we were introduced to the English couple with whom we would be sharing the open jeep on our drives and who were experienced safariers. We were also informed that the morning drives went out at 5am and guests were expected to meet at 4:45am sharp. Rangers would come down to quarters to haul people out of bed who were tardy. My look of disbelief at this news was met by slightly disapproving frowns all round. By the end of the three days I had become well and truly addicted to the drives and was the first up in the jeep in the mornings, rain, hail or shine.

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NATURAL WONDERS Clockwise from top: sweeping views from the balcony of a suite at the Lodge; see zebras soon after you arrive in Port Elizabeth; get close to nature in an open-air bathroom.





You can expect to see the big five all year round at Kwandwe. Summers (October to March) are hot and wet with high daytime temperatures sometimes soaring above 36 degrees Celcius. Winters (May to August) are dry and the days can sometimes be warm but it can get very, very cold and even on the warmer days the evenings and early mornings can be chilly. 112

ANDBEYOND KWANDWE PRIVATE GAME RESERVE Rates: from A$1,318 per person twin share at either Kwandwe Great Fish River Lodge or Kwandwe Ecca Lodge. Inclusions: Two nights accommodation, three meals daily, soft drinks, house wines, local brand spirits and beers, teas and coffees, refreshments on game drives, laundry, scheduled safari activities, nature walks (one hour) accompanied by experienced armed trackers (subject to availability), emergency medical evacuation insurance, VAT and transfers to and from the Port Elizabeth.


GETTING TO PORT ELIZABETH Qantas flies from Sydney to Port Elizabeth from A$1,152 one way or A$2,358 return (low season, between May and September). Kwandwe Private Game Reserve is in the malaria-free Eastern Cape near Grahamstown. The reserve lies approximately sixty-five kilometres from the coast and is close to the renowned Garden Route. Guests fly in to Port Elizabeth and then proceed to Kwandwe either by road or air transfer. By road: The distance from Port Elizabeth to Kwandwe is 160 kilometres and can be comfortably covered by road in an hour and

45 minutes. On arrival, guests will leave their vehicle at a dedicated car park at Heatherton Towers and will be transferred to the lodge by open safari vehicle. Road transfers can also be arranged from Port Elizabeth to the lodge. By air: A flight from Port Elizabeth directly to the Kwandwe air strip takes approximately 30 minutes and are scheduled for the morning or early afternoon to arrive in time for the afternoon game drive. Luggage is generally limited to 20 kilograms per person. This Adventure World holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

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With 550 trails up the mountain and countless things to do at its feet, we had a choice between heaven and paradise. And all the time in the world to experience both. Go to

A S I A ’ S

GRANDEST DAME Evenings of ragtime and champagne in the bar car, the smell of frangipanis at night and the sight of orange robed monks and cheering school children beside the tracks; the Eastern & Oriental Express took Nick Walton much further than from Bangkok to Singapore. It showed him the region, its people, history and elegance, he writes.

JUNGLE TRACKS This page: the Eastern & Oriental Express travelling between Butterworth and Singapore. Opposite page: twin beds in a state cabin. 114

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t 5.45pm to the second, the gruff old conductor at Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Train Station, his eyes on the ancient clock mounted on the wall above, drops his red signal flag to a shriek of train whistles. In response the Eastern & Oriental Express (E&O), Asia’s queen of the rails, takes tentative steps towards Singapore. My fiance Maggie and I stand with many of our fellow train travellers in the observation car, an open-air carriage at the rear of the train dressed in gleaming brass and varnished Burmese teak. We sip Singapore Slings and wave at gaggles of saucer-eyed children who run alongside the tracks. The train sways gently from side to side as it navigates its way out into the city’s north-eastern suburbs, bound for Kanchanaburi in Thailand’s far west. Like many of our fellow passengers, we’d spent a couple of nights in Asia’s City of Angels before meeting the train. Bangkok continues to captivate the senses; from our hotel, the Lebua State Tower, it’s easy to reach the city’s major attractions, including the gleaming temples of the Chao Phraya, the iconic floating markets and some of Bangkok’s best shopping. Being able to visit two of Asia’s most dynamic cities whilst also enjoying the fantasy of luxury on rails is one of the reasons the E&O has become so popular. The E&O may seem like a colonial remnant that has sauntered its way across Southeast Asia’s rails for generations – and a lot of work has gone into such a first impression – but in fact much of the E&O started life as the Silver Star, running between the New Zealand cities of Auckland and Wellington. After a lengthy renovation process, the train emerged as a Southeast Asian (and decidedly more modern) version of the Orient-Express group’s Venice-Simplon Orient-Express, which runs between Rome and London. The same elegance which made the OrientExpress a household name is found throughout the E&O, although its interpretation here has a significantly tropical twist. At a quarter of a mile in length (and seemingly much longer when you’re making your way down the train’s super-model slim passageways after dinner), the E&O comprises 66 air-conditioned cabins in three classes, catering to a total of 132 mainly British, European and American guests, as well as a saloon, three dining carriages, a library, and two bar cars, one of which opens onto the Observation Car at the train’s rear. All cabins on the E&O feature ensuites complete with showers, washbasins and WCs, as well as international power sockets, luggage storage space, a small wardrobe and attentive 24-hour steward service.

We retire to our room to prepare for dinner as the last light seeps from the sky. Our state cabin is comfortable and private; two large viewing windows frame the world whizzing by and come with Venetian blinds and thick curtains. The bathroom, although small, is surprisingly practical and with the luggage stowed, there’s plenty of room for one to wrestle their way into a tie and jacket for a whiskey sour, followed by a three-course dinner. The bar car is the train’s social epicentre. While passengers spend daytime hours in the moisture-soaked air of the observation car, watching the myriad green hues of Southeast Asia rush by, it’s in the bar car, fuelled by the shared experience (and a few well-made tipples) that guests meet and greet one another, making new friends and new dining companions for the many meals and miles ahead. A Singaporean pianist called Peter quickly breaks what little ice remains on the first night; his ragtime classics draw in couples from both ends of the train while the rest of the passengers assemble for the first dinner seating. Drinks are surprisingly affordable in the bar car, which also sees live cultural performances take place later in the trip. Attentive Thai staff, dressed in gold and green silk chakkraphat uniforms, glide around the bar car offering drinks and smiles as Peter kicks his piano chair out – Elton John style – and adds a personal flair to the climax of Rhapsody in Blue. The train manager announces the second seating for dinner and the occupants of the bar car file through to one of the three dining rooms, Adisorn, Rosaline and Malaya. Maggie and I dine with an Italian mother and son. They’re celebrating her recent retirement in style, and we dine on warm goat cheese soufflé with asparagus and a delicate Thai curry bouillon, followed by grilled snowfish with vegetables in a vermouth and soya sauce. Although dessert is tempting, we excuse ourselves to the cool solitude of our cabin, which our steward, also called Peter, has turned down. It’s not long until we’re both lulled to sleep by the gentle rocking of the train as it powers through the darkness towards our first stop, the Bridge over the River Kwai. As daylight streaks across the sky, Peter, ever resplendent in his green and gold uniform, serves a continental breakfast of fresh fruit and warm croissants with strong Colombian coffee. It’s an early start; the train is preparing to pass over the dramatic 300 metre-long wooden trestle bridge which clings to limestone cliffs on the approach to Kanchanaburi. Almost all the train’s passengers make their way to the observation car as the train crawls along the trestle, and before long we’ve stopped on the iconic iron arch bridge at the River Kwai, a historic locale on the Thai-



THE BATHROOM, ALTHOUGH SMALL, IS SURPRISINGLY PRACTICAL AND WITH THE LUGGAGE STOWED, THERE’S PLENTY OF ROOM FOR ONE TO WRESTLE THEIR WAY INTO A TIE AND JACKET FOR A WHISKEY SOUR, FOLLOWED BY A THREE-COURSE DINNER. Burmese Railroad created by the invading Japanese army during World War II. During an hour-long river cruise, a local historian and founder of the Kanchanaburi Railway Museum, fills us in on the strategic importance of the bridge and how its construction cost the lives of so many prisoners of war. Coaches take us to the newly built centre, which overlooks the expansive POW cemetery, and its various exhibits on the railway’s construction and the conditions in which the prisoners lived are very moving. Passengers are given plenty of time to walk under the blazing sun in the manicured cemetery and read the tombstones of those who fell. We rejoin the train at Kanchanaburi’s tiny station, where she stands gleaming in the afternoon sun. Locals and a few sunburnt backpackers lean out of the windows of a distinctly less lavish local train which has stopped beside the E&O. They smile and take photos before we move off again. As the train charges south towards Butterworth in Malaysia, couples read, enjoy massages in the library or play cards in the shaded saloon. Maggie and I have afternoon tea in our cabin; Peter serves steaming hot Earl Grey tea from polished pots, with traditional Thai coconut deserts on the side. It’s a fantastically leisurely way to enjoy an afternoon of exploration, sans laptop and mobile. Meals are a major event on the train. The tariff includes breakfast and afternoon tea, served in your stateroom, as well as formal dinners and less formal lunches in the dining cars. How the culinary team manage to create such exotic

SCENES OF SOUTHEAST ASIA Clockwise from main image: the train crossing Tha Chompu bridge in Kanchanaburi; orange robed Thai monks; a buddhist temple in Penang. 116

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dishes – each of which combine traditional French cooking techniques with local flavours and ingredients – I’ll never know, but meals are leisurely and intimate affairs and there is always someone keen for a post-meal cognac in the observation car. We cross into Malaysia in the middle of the night; the tracks are in much better state here and passengers sleep late, waking only for breakfast in bed and later a light lunch as the E&O approaches Butterworth for a tour of the island of Penang. We take a local car ferry across to Penang; it’s painfully slow after the powerful train trip but before long we’re walking through Georgetown’s ancient streets, past Chinese shrines stained with generations of incense smoke, and into the courtyard of a temple, where a fleet of the island’s iconic trishaws stand to attention, each shaded by a cream and green E&O umbrella against darkening skies. The trishaw drivers deftly glide us through the narrow cobbled streets and out into the traffic, their bells echoing off time-tired pockmarked walls. Old but colourful shopfronts line the streets as we pass through Little India, Malay fruit markets and bustling Chinese neighbourhoods, before passing the famed Khoo Kongsi Chinese clan association grounds and pulling into the stunning Eastern & Oriental Hotel (no relation to the train) in time for a lime soda and a cold towel. Passengers make it back to the train as the sky starts to grumble and from the observation car, the air is thick with moisture and anticipation of a tropical storm. After dinner Maggie and I breathe in the fresh, clean night air. The rain cleared during the meal and now the world seems refreshed. The train is fighting delay; for much of the route there is only a single track, meaning the E&O must often stop in sidings and wait for other trains to pass by. With the night at her back and a quick water stop in Kuala Lumpur ahead, she charges on, roaring her way through the impossible

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darkness of rural Malaysia. Sleepy Ipoh, Maggie’s hometown, is ahead and we lean out the windows of the observation car, eager for signs of civilisation after long hours of dense jungle and plantations. Fortunately the train slows and we glide gently through the tiny plateau town long enough for Maggie to point out her school, her father’s restaurants, and the colonial-era architecture of her childhood. We wake in the morning to endless palm oil plantations on both sides of the railway line. The train still charges, determined to make up lost minutes and before long the E&O is passing over the Johor Causeway between Singapore and Malaysia, and our journey has come to an end. Singapore is a contrast to much of Asia, as always; the streets are clean, the buildings bright and the suburbs orderly. It’s with great reluctance that we leave the E&O and her crew; the train grows on you. We’ve made friends, exchanged phone numbers and promises of future visits. We’ll miss Peter’s evenings of ragtime and champagne in the bar car, the smell of frangipanis at night and the sight of orange robed monks and cheering school children beside the tracks. In many ways the train has taken us much further than from one city to another; it has shown us another side to the region - its people, its history and its elegance – and we can’t wait to do the return trip one day, on Asia’s grandest dame. IF YOU GO: The Eastern & Oriental Express is operated by OrientExpress. The train runs between Singapore and Bangkok, with extensions to Chiang Mai and Laos. Rates for the two-night Classic Journey start from A$2,860 per person in a Pullman Cabin. This journey can be booked through Adventure World.



WHEN TO GO Singapore and Bangkok are both typically rainy and humid all year around, but the driest and most pleasant months to travel there are between November and March. GETTING THERE AND HOME Thai Airways flies direct from Australia to Bangkok 44 times a week. There are flights 18 times weekly from Sydney, twice daily from Melbourne, daily from Perth and five times a

week from Brisbane. One way flights start at A$726 for economy class and A$2,532 for business class. Suvarnabhumi Airport is around 30 kilometres away from the Hua Lamphong railway station. You can hire private car transfers through asp or limousine transfers through The express journey ends at Keppel Road station, Singapore. To get to Changi Airport, you can book

a transfer through or simply jump in one of the many taxis available at the station. Thai Airways flies from Singapore to most capital cities in Australia, with a stopover on some flights. Flights to Sydney run four times daily, Melbourne and Perth three times daily, and Brisbane twice daily. One way flights start from A$743 for economy class and A$2,684 for business class. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.

DESTINATION SINGAPORE Main image: the Eastern & Oriental Express cuts through lush jungle in Malaysia. Above: the sun sets over the Thai countryside. 118

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You’re guaranteed an aisle or a window for your Etihad flat bed.

There are 88 inches between seats in business class on Etihad.

The Etiha d Pearl b usiness class loun ge in Abu Dhabi.

Luxury Travel Magazine puts business class services on Qantas, Qatar and Etihad to the test.

Neil Perry’s business class menu on Qantas.

An ergonomist ensured Qantas flat beds are comfortable.

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The Qantas international business class lounge in Sydney

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ETIHAD: London Sydney to 25 hours Duration:

QATAR: bourne Doha to Mel 3 hours Duration: 1

m has Qatar’s Oryx Entertainment syste rams. around 900 audio and video prog

QANTAS: urg Johannesb Sydney to rs 14 hou Duration:

Qatar’s busin ess class cabin is soft grey with cher ry red accent s. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

There are 42 business class seats on Qatar’s 777-200. 121

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Qantas business class check-in staff were helpful and informative. If you’re one of those who prefers to use the scanner at the supermarket checkout, then check yourself in online between 24 and two hours before your flight. I received a wonderful express pass for Sydney and Johannesburg airports which was great for getting into the lounge more quickly and sipping on the divine champagne. At the gate there’s a dedicated boarding queue for first and business class passengers so you can avoid the hordes.

THE LOUNGES The business class international lounge is always full of business class passengers and frequent flyer members. It’s comfortable when it’s empty but more often than not, it’s filled with card holding members. Qantas introduced a new lounge experience at Sydney’s T3 late last year which we hope they’ll roll out to international. This will feature signature Italian wood-fired pizzas and a Candy Bar. A dedicated family zone will soon offer games at T3 by Apple, Sony, Mattel and others.

The seats all face forward which is a relief as I’m not partial to flying backwards. FOOD AND BEVERAGE A date in business class must be celebrated with a glass of bubbly. Who can resist a good champagne? Qantas has an award winning selection of Australian and New Zealand wines and it also serves the French stuff, although non-vintage.



Complemented by Neil Perry’s menu, seat 16A rivals any view at Aria with food just as decadent. Gluttons do not need to be embarrassed on a Qantas business class flight. They can just make their way down the aisle to the in-flight foyer where snacks are on show for the taking. Chocolates, sandwiches and the odd bit of fruit sit propped up awaiting the pyjama clad loungers or the indulged children. If you sleep through your meal and get a particularly nice in-flight attendant, they may pull out something special from the cabin which is not on show.

THE EXTRAS Amenity kits aren’t what they once were but the Qantas business kit has everything you need. Korner skin products and a good lip balm, comfortable eye masks, ear plugs, socks and a toothbrush and toothpaste. Those of us with quick growing hair should be pleased that razors and shaving foam are also available but only on request.

THE SERVICE Qantas staff are most friendly and helpful. My only gripe with flight attendants, all of them, not just Qantas employees, is that they don’t lift your luggage into the overhead luggage compartments, but I understand that there is an OH&S issue here which makes sense. Qantas staff reflect Australia, friendly and laid back. It’s always a pleasure to step foot on board a Qantas flight after you’ve been holidaying in a foreign country. It feels like you are already home.

THE CABIN The seats all face forward which is a relief as I’m not partial to flying

backwards. Choose row 16. This is the emergency exit upstairs and there’s more room than in first class.

THE SEATS What I want in a seat is one that lies flat and allows me a great sleep. Qantas passes this test with flying colours. The seat transformed into a bed almost two metres long and 61cm wide. The pillows could be a touch fluffier but for an airline bed, the Skybed is bliss. The seat is described as a cocoon style. Qantas has employed a leading Australian ergonomist who has designed the seats to create a more comfortable sleep.

ENTERTAINMENT For every big kid there’s the 26.5 cm screen for watching 60 movies, 200 TV programs, a moving map and 10 interactive games. The highlight was the pause button on the movies. How wonderful to be able to stop a movie at a whim, grab another chocolate bar and settle back into your comfortable seat, while drinks are just the press of a button away. For the audio minded there are 20 Radio Q channels and 150 CDs.

THE GRIPES Who doesn’t love getting gifts? The thought of Peter Morrissey designed pyjamas for my collection excited me until I unwrapped the cotton XL PJs. They were way too big unfortunately!

FLIGHT FREQUENCY & FARES Qantas operates daily services between Sydney and Johannesburg and codeshare services between Perth and Johannesburg. Business class fares start at A$7,248 return. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.

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In the Qatari capital, Doha, Qatar Airways has a dedicated Premium Terminal for first and business class passengers. It offers impressive dining and duty-free shopping facilities and also features spa and treatment rooms, saunas, jacuzzis, conference rooms and a children’s play area. But best of all it has an exclusive concierge-style seated check-in, convenient and personalised and a welcome change from the standard queue procedures of other airlines.

assured of an aisle or a window seat and ample space. Qatar has a policy of no plane being older than five years so the aircraft are in pristine condition.

THE SERVICE The crew is drawn from all over the world and, according to Qatar Airways CEO Mr Akbar Al Baker, is put through a rigorous training regimen and the highest standards are expected of them. It shows. The standard of service could not be faulted; the staff always professional yet attentive and charming, and the female staff could be supermodels in their spare time.

THE LOUNGES With an emphasis on light and space the lounge areas in the Premium Terminal are a stylish mixture of limestone and blonde timber, comfortable leather seating and soothing water features amidst towering palms and sculptural potted plants. For business travellers there are first-rate office facilities including conference rooms with audio-visual capabilities, several meeting rooms and secretarial services. In the separate dedicated first class lounge there are guest rooms set up hotelstyle with twin beds for those weary travellers needing a serious nap.

In the separate dedicated first class lounge there are guest rooms set up hotel-style with twin beds for those weary travellers needing a serious nap. THE CABIN Qatar’s colour scheme is a soft grey with deep cherry red trim and seat cushions. Business class on Qatar’s Boeing 777 is a two-two-two seat configuration, so each passenger is

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Qatar. Alcohol is available in the airport lounges but not while the aircraft is still on the ground. Once airborne, the champagne – or whatever beverage one desires from around the world - flows generously. The diverse wine list included selections from France, New Zealand, Australia, Portugal and Germany. Dining is on demand or a la carte and the menu is a fusion of Western and Middle Eastern cuisine. Dinner began with a delicious classic Arabic mezze plate followed by seared lamb with Moroccan spices finishing with an incredibly fresh fruit platter, desserts and chocolate.

THE EXTRAS THE SEATS Seats are fabric with leather cushions and a footrest with an in-seat massage option. The seats recline fully flat to 180 degrees. Each of the 42 business class seats has a 15.4-inch touch screen monitor and in-seat power supply and there is plenty of storage and ample lighting. Tray tables are conveniently stowed and well sized.

ENTERTAINMENT Each Boeing 777 features the Oryx Entertainment system. It offers around 900 audio and video entertainment options. The smallish buttons on the controller might be difficult for older, less dexterous passengers, but the movies were mercifully free from the tedious pre-movie advertisements and endorsements passengers must endure on other airlines.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE It is a punishable offence to drink alcohol or be drunk in public in

Qatar Airways provides comfy sleep suits and generous amenities kits.

THE GRIPES The timing of the Doha to Melbourne service, which arrives in the evening, means Sydney-bound passengers must overnight in Melbourne due to Sydney airport’s curfew. Nevertheless there is a comfortable airport Hilton in Melbourne for an easy connection on to Sydney the next morning.

ON TIME PERFORMANCE The flight departed on time and arrived on schedule.

FARES Qatar Airways flies non-stop from Melbourne to Doha daily. Fares range from approximately A$9,500 to A$10,000 for return business class. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.


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There’s a dedicated check-in desk for business class at each destination. In Abu Dhabi, Etihad has also introduced self-service kiosks allowing passengers to check themselves in, choose seats, print their own boarding passes and baggage tags. Business class passengers are allowed 30 kilograms of checked luggage and two carryon pieces.

THE LOUNGES There are two lounges in Abu Dhabi at Terminals 1 and 3 and I was fortunate enough to experience a complementary massage at the divine Six Senses Spa. Although it’s not a true Six Senses Spa (what can one expect in an airport lounge) I was allowed a 20-minute massage, which was incredible. There is also a Six Senses Spa in the Etihad Lounge at Heathrow’s Terminal 4. The Pearl Business Class Lounge has a slightly ‘Melbourne’ look with its dark wood, mint green leather sofas and coffeetable books. Besides the Spa, there are hot showers, Wi-Fi access and a selection of fine Arabian mezze. You can also make treatment reservations at the spa on the day of travel.

It was a pleasant change to be offered Arab mezze, and delights such as chicken tagne with preserved lemons, olives and stewed potatoes. THE SERVICE Etihad was represented onboard by a knowledgeable cabin manager, an F&B manager suited up in a white-coat, as well as a host of sometimes smiling in-flight attendants.


THE SEATS Etihad’s new business class seats offer a fabulous flat bed. Rows are staggered in a one-two-one configuration so depending on which seat you’re in you have access to either an aisle or both an aisle and window. Blankets are large and soft and the pillows are fluffy. I was disappointed at not having pyjamas offered to me but let’s hope this changes soon. The seats are definitely luxurious, offering 49-inch seat pitch, a privacy shell, adjustable headrest, footrest and lumbar support. There’s a vast cavern of 88 inches between you and the seat in front and 20 inches between armrests, reclining into a dead-flat 72.8-inch bed. There are also three massage options but not as good as the real thing.

ENTERTAINMENT The E Box in-flight system offers everything the other great airlines do – 15-inch personal LCD TVs and 600 hours of on-demand entertainment with the latest blockbusters, classics and addictive computer games. Other features of the system include the ability to recharge your laptop or iPod and connect personal devices to the E Box. Noise cancelling headsets are a nice little addition. In total there are 132 television programs and 76 movies in more than 10 languages. The audio selection is broad with 13 audio channels providing entertainment from the latest music to a verse from the Koran, and a library of more than 250 CDs and 29 games.

FOOD AND BEVERAGE Flying on Etihad meant a departure from the usual Asian fusion menus one often has en route to London. It was a pleasant change to be offered

Arab mezze, and delights such as chicken tagine with preserved lemons, olives and stewed potatoes. The wine list is what one would expect of a good restaurant including my particular favourite, French champagne, Henriot Blanc Souverain NV. Dining options comprise an a la carte menu or the lighter “kitchen anytime” menu.

THE EXTRAS Loved the mood lighting. I felt like I was in a Douglas Adams novel as the very slow brightening system awoke me from my sleep like an artificial sun rising inside the cabin with a most comforting glow. The Aigner amenity kit was a bit bland looking in a dull grey. However on further investigation I found one for sale on Ebay at two pounds fifty and thought this might be a good way to recover some of my ticket cost. The first class amenity kits have been taken over by Swarovski.

THE GRIPES Why wasn’t I upgraded to First Class? I’ve heard it’s unimaginably luxurious.

ON TIME PERFORMANCE My flight arrived on time on the way to London and it was actually early on the way home.

FLIGHT FREQUENCY & FARES Etihad flies from Sydney 11 times a week, daily from Melbourne and three times a week from Brisbane. There are three daily flights from Abu Dhabi to London. Return Pearl business class fares from Sydney to London start from A$8,604. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.

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TRUSTED TRAVEL WITH THE DESTINATION E XPERTS I was enjoying a hot chocolate to warm from the icy winds as we cruised through Glacier Bay in Alaska, watching the wildlife of cheeky otters & puffins playing next to us, oblivious to our existence. I took a mental image of everything around me; with the peaks of the mountain’s disappearing into the clouds above, the water glistening and rapidly changing in colours; rising giant glaciers of what seemed an endless silky ice mass, shrinking our ship to the size of a mouse. “BEAR!” someone yells. I dropped my hot chocolate and joined the atmosphere that was buzzing and full of excitement as we all rushed to catch a glimpse of these extraordinary animals. The bear strolled along the shoreline as though out for a Sunday walk lifting it’s nose to smell the scent in the air. Another bear emerged from the forest line at which both seemed to be heading for the whale carcass in the distance. The ship was humming with photo clicks and reloading cameras to see the bears feed! All up we saw four bears that day, which was one of my unforgettable experiences in North America. Heidi Bullough – Canada & Alaska 2010


1300 295 161

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Edited by Prudence McKendry

luxury lodge chic this winter There are many cosy rooms in the Main Lodge at The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in which to snuggle beside roaring open fires. This room, known as The Snug, has views all the way to the Pacific Ocean over the 6,000-acre property at Hawkes Bay on New Zealand’s North Island. Stay as cosy and chic as your luxurious surroundings by layering in soft cashmere, chunky knits and plenty of practical but quirky accessories.




What to pack



Everyone’s wardrobe should be home to a chunky knit, midheeled boot and a crisp white shirt. Add a personal twist to an ensemble with a Louis Vuitton twill silk and feather tassel scarf or a multi-strained Chanel necklace tucked under the collar. Clockwise from top: Louis Vuitton Sunglasses in Navy RRP A$675 (1300 883 880); Dion Lee Shirt RRP A$390 (02 9368 77 11); Vacheron Constantin watch POA (02 8215 5596); Mela Purdie skinny jeans RRP A$195 (; Chloé ankle boots RRP £470.83 (A$718) (; Chanel Necklace RRP A$10,540 (1300 CHANEL); Louis Vuitton Scarf RRP A$1,210 (1300 883 880); Donna Karan cashmere cardigan RRP £1,617 (A$2,471) (

MITTENS Designers are completely smitten with mittens in the latest winter and pre-fall collections. From above: Marni shearling gloves RRP approx A$425 (02 9327 3809); Marni wool, leather and fur gloves RRP approx A$895 (02 9327 3809)

WISH WELLINGTONS It’s certainly not chic to have your heels stuck in the mud. Opt for practical Wellington boots to keep dry and stylish. Hunter Wellington boots RRP £49.36 (A$74) ( 128

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What to pack


ABOUT TIME Lodge chic calls for understated luxury and practicality. The Sotirio Bulgari annual calendar automatic watch fits the bill perfectly. Black crocodile leather and 18kt rose gold combine to add a sleek touch to any outfit. RRP A$49,900 (

SLIP INTO COMFORT After a day in the elements wine tasting and sightseeing, swap boots for soft leather slippers back at the lodge. Derek Rose Morgan leather slippers RRP £79 (A$121) ( w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

NEW CLASSICS Hang up your suit and relax into a pair of tailored jeans, ultra-luxe knitwear and a shearling-lined jacket for comfort. Dark wash denim artfully walks the line between casual and refined, while a splash of maroon adds a modern twist to a winter palette. Clockwise from top left: Gucci scarf RRP £192 (A$294) (; John Smedley cotton sweater RRP £96 (A$147) (; Ermenegildo Zegna anorak RRP A$5,400 (1300 493 462); Jean Shop jeans RRP £183 (A$280) (; Ermenegildo Zegna suede boots RRP A$795 (1300 493 462) 129




Inspired by the Ferrari 458, this Vertu mobile features everything any top-of-the-line mobile phone has plus built in GPS navigation and some unique Vertu services. In true Ferrari style the price includes two full maintenance services and an authentic Ferrari engine roar ring tone. (


Jennifer Lopez sports these latest Gucci Aviators in her new video “I’m Into You”. If you want to channel Lopez for your next flight, these slender metal Guccis are perfect for any runway. (

DR. SPILLER BIOCOSMETIC OXYGEN VITAL COMPLEX RRP A$171 You’ll want to smother your face in this incredible serum which calms and soothes high flying skin. (1300 301 007)


This bag manages to hit the balance between sleek and sturdy. Its clean lines put full focus on the luxurious black grain calf leather. (


Treat your feet to this divine smelling reviver which includes sea salt for exfoliating and essential oils for renewing. Massage into each foot while you watch a movie in your fully reclined bed. (

CHANEL HYDRA BEAUTY SERUM RRP A$124 This couture hydration concentrate is a beneficial dew to stow away in your hand luggage. Known as the dream nectar, it has fruity notes of peach and watermelon. (1300 CHANEL)


Jimmy Choo’s luxurious leather bag tags called the Teddy will have your luggage standing out from others at baggage claim. They come in leopard print, glitter or this strong block red. (


With two weeks of reading on a single battery charge and the capacity to store around 1,200 books, even stuck on the tarmac you’ll be entertained. This pocket edition has a high contrast pearl display and anti glare from every angle, perfect for the next flop and drop. (1300 720 071) 130

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STEP INTO YOUR URBAN OASIS the difference between a good and a great hotel is invariably defined by the little touches. the myriad of small things that when combined, make your stay an exceptional experience.

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• One night in a Luxury room at SKYCITY Grand Hotel • Buffet breakfast for two at The Terrace Restaurant • 2-for-1 Sky Tower admission coupon

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Visit SkYcITYAUcklANd.cO.Nz/gRANdPAckAgES to book today Offer valid for up to two adults, for bookings and stays from 1 July–31 August 2011 and from 1 November–30 December 2011, subject to availability. All prices are in New Zealand Dollars. Close out dates may apply. 2-for-1 Sky Tower admission coupon provides one free adult admission when redeemed in conjunction with a full paying adult admission.




PRACTICALITY AND STYLE Top: the Ferrari FF can handle icy roads without tyre chains. Below: the spacious interior.


he luggage kept appearing from the boot, just like clowns springing out of a tiny car in a circus act. Before long, 11 pieces of luggage, including two giant golf bags, were lined up on the showroom floor. It seemed like an optical illusion. How did so many bags fit in the boot of a Ferrari? This, rather than a display of the car’s gorgeous V12 engine or plush interior, was the media’s introduction to the new Ferrari FF. With its unusual, elongated body, the FF is the roomiest Ferrari ever made and one of the most cavernous cars in its class. Ferrari had certainly made its point. It turns out Ferrari owners want to use their cars more – and so they need to be more practical. Its latest creation is in fact designed to tempt customers away from the raft of luxury four-wheel-drives and performance sedans currently on the market. So, call this the Ferrari you could live with every day, but it’s by no means pedestrian. The FF has the biggest V12 ever fitted to a Ferrari road car and matches the multi-million dollar Enzo supercar for power. It has more torque (the energy that gives you the shove-in-the-back feeling) than any other Ferrari road car before it – and 70 per cent of that oomph is available from just above idle, at 1000rpm, while you’re waiting at the lights. It’s a dormant Mike Tyson. The gear-changes in the F1-style gearbox are so quick that Ferrari claims a reaction time of 0.0 seconds. That’s not a misprint. It claims that the computer technology in the gearbox is now so fast the gearshifts are instantaneous. (The electronic message may take 0.0 seconds to get from your fingertips to w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

the gearbox, but it still takes the gearbox itself a moment to select the correct gear. But it is seamless, smooth and yes, very quick.) However, there’s one more trick under the Ferrari FF’s hood that also makes this car special. It’s part of the reasoning behind the car’s name. One “F” is for “four-seater”, the other “F” is for “four-wheel-drive”. The FF is the first Ferrari to send power to all four wheels. It may not be a high-riding four-wheel-drive, but with an inbuilt all-wheel-drive system, it means the FF can traverse slippery roads on the way to the ski fields – and you don’t need to carry tyre chains. It also means the FF has phenomenal grip in the iciest conditions. We got to sample this in the Italian Alps earlier this year. Snow banks two metres high lined the road, it was like we were driving through a giant, white funnel. As the snow began to melt, it left icy patches on the roadway, which meant every time you came around a corner you didn’t know if the tarmac would be dry or diabolical. But in the FF it mattered not. After a momentary wriggle on the ice, it’s all-wheel-drive system gathered things up nicely, bringing the driver and the car under control. Of course, it won’t rewrite the laws of physics but the four-wheel-drive system can certainly get the Ferrari out of slippery situations.

What surprises most about the FF is how nimble it feels for such a big, heavy car. The FF is heavier than a big family sedan and longer than a Holden Commodore wagon. The distance between the front and rear wheels is close to that of a Holden Caprice limousine. The FF is also wider than the latest BMW X5 four-wheel-drive and Bentley Continental GT coupe. These dimensions give the FF an impressively broad footprint but also provide more occupant space. Inside the cockpit, the Ferrari FF smells like an Italian shoe shop; the colour of fine leather can be selected from dozens of choices. Unlike some sports cars, there’s genuinely room for two adults in the back seats – and their luggage. Ah yes, the luggage. With the 11 pieces laid out, some of us took it upon ourselves to try to get the 11 pieces back in the car (with the back seats folded flat, of course). After several frustrating attempts, none of us could do better than having six pieces left over. Clearly there was an art to packing that we were yet to master. And I should stick to writing. n


FERRARI FF PRICE: A$625,000 ENGINE: 6.3-litre V12 POWER: 486kW, 683Nm 0 TO 100KM/H: 3.7 seconds TOP SPEED: 335km/h CONSUMPTION: 15.4L/100km WEIGHT: 1880kg




From top: Keep your laptop safe in this Bill Amberg hand-crafted leather laptop case, RRP £166.67 (about A$255) ( Dress up and protect your iPad in this fabulous orange Hermes iPad case, RRP A$1,195 (02 9287 3200). And pack your makeup and toiletries in this Louis Vuitton vernis amarante cosmetic bag, RRP A$490 (


If you’re just stopping in for the weekend or an overnighter, a cabin case or weekend bag will do the trick, and there’s a huge variety of high-end designer options to choose from. From top: Prada Saffiano case in Baltico, RRP A$2,700 (; Jimmy Choo Terrance case in Stamped moc croc, RRP A$5,075 (jimmychoo. com); Ermenegildo Zegna Leather Boston Duffle Bag, RRP A$2,700 (1300 493 462); Camilla Franks Singapore Weekender bag, RRP A$550 (



If you’re planning on holing up in luxury for a week or more at your lodge, a Longchamp hard case is a stylish way to transport your lodge-chic wardrobe. Boxford hard case, RRP A$895 (1800 083 355)

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G R O U P S 1 5 + & S C H O O L S


KINGTUTMELBOURNE.COM.AU The exhibition is organised by the National Geographic Society, Arts and Exhibitions International and IMG, with cooperation from the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities Image: Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun. Not the Funerary Mask.



SPEND AND SAVE IN SINGAPORE Top: find international brands in Singapore’s huge department stores. Below: shopping malls feature beautiful design details.

The Great Singapore Sale


ith an exchange rate that has the Australian dollar buying S$1.32, it’s a great time to plan a shopping trip for the Great Singapore Sale. The super-charged shopping power of the Australian dollar in Singapore right now is further boosted by citywide discounts of up to 70 per cent on just about everything in all the major shopping locations. From the central shopping belt of Orchard Road and Marina Bay to the Southern Waterfront and suburbs, there are huge bargains on things like fashion, health and beauty, watches, jewellery, electronics and home wares. w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

In fact, it’s difficult to think of a product you won’t find among the stretches of world-class shopping malls offering everything from upscale brands like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Gucci and Cartier to popular everyday labels like Topshop, Miss Selfridge, Nike and G-Star, among others. And those who embrace the “shop until you drop” ethic of serious shoppers will be pleased to know that in Singapore, you can do just that with stores open until midnight in most malls. The Great Singapore Sale usually runs every year for eight weeks and this year will end on 24 July. n Antonia Maiolo 137

FASHION HISTORY Luxury fashion house Prada began life as a Milanese leathergoods store in 1913. 138

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ilan M D E S I G N E R C A P I TA L

Milan may play second fiddle to the more glamorous cities of Rome, Florence and Venice, but Jane Gifford discovered an elegant and sophisticated city which is the hub for much of Italy’s fashion and design innovation.


hile, at first glance, the architecture in Milan tends to make the city seem drab and less appealing than say, Rome or Florence, its many riches are worth discovering. Milan is famous for shopping. Designer boutiques line Via Montenapoleone and the web of streets that make up the fashion district. Here too is G. Lorenzi, a shop with cult status specialising in vintage and new gentlemen’s grooming accoutrements. Of shopping and architectural significance in this area is the grand late 19th century glass-domed arcade Vittorio Emanuele Gallery, where the original Prada boutique (with its original fittings) is one of the long-standing tenants. Another, Caffé Campari, has been a popular Milanese meeting spot since it opened in the 1860s and is perfectly positioned for refreshments before tackling nearby La Rinascente, an upscale department store with a sizeable Design Supermarket on the lower ground floor where hundreds of objects, from glassware to electronics, showcase the latest and greatest in design from all over the world. The store’s rooftop café, Maio, offers delicious food and impressive close-up views of the Duomo’s exterior detailing. Elsewhere of note are Galleria Colombari and Galleria MK, haunts for collectors seeking coveted 20th century design objects. At 10 Corso Como a stylish mix of fashion, books, music and accessories is artfully displayed in a series of spaces that wrap around the leafy courtyard of an old industrial building. A gallery, restaurant, café and three chic hotel rooms complete the complex, founded by trend-setter PERSONAL SHOPPING TOURS: Worldwide Shopping Tours provides personal tours with your own chauffeur, customised itineraries, and they can organise your freight to send your shopping home Six-hour tours of Milan start at A$580 per person.

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Carla Sozzani around two decades ago. Fashionista bargain hunters can also add the Serraville Designer Outlet centre, about an hour’s drive from the city, to their shopping itineraries. If you’re in Milan to shop, you wouldn’t miss the opportunity to visit its cultural highlights too, including the majestic Duomo, the third largest church in the world, and Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper (1494-98), painted high on a wall in the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie church. An impressive collection of masterpieces by the country’s most important artists from the 13th to the 20th centuries, such as Raphael and Caravaggio, can be viewed at the Brera Art Gallery. Sforza Castle, which dates from the 14th century, houses several museums, the Picture Gallery, Museum of Decorative Arts and Museum of Musical Instruments, among them. Michelangelo’s last and unfinished work, Rondanini Pieta, is in the Museum of Ancient Art here. The Triennale Design Museum, established in 2007 and located a short walk away through the park, as well as the studio museum of famed Italian designer Achille Castiglione, are musts for anyone with an interest in design. For entertainment, there’s opera and ballet at one of the world’s finest opera houses, La Scala Theatre, and in the charming adjacent museum Giuseppe Verdi’s death mask is among the myriad of curiosities, costumes and artworks on display. Sports fans can indulge in expeditions to the historic Monza race track for Formula One events and legendary San Siro stadium for soccer, at various times of the year. Outstanding Italian cuisine is, of course, another excellent reason to linger in Milan. In particular, fine dining can be enjoyed at Acanto at the Hotel Principe di Savoia, pizza without hordes of tourists at Pizzeria Fabbrica on Viale Pasubio and creamy gelato in myriad flavours, at Grom near the Piazza Duomo. The best advice any visitor to Milan can be given is to walk throughout the city so that you can peak at life in the lush and lovely courtyards hidden behind the bland palazzo facades.


GETTING THERE British Airways operates nine direct flights from London to Milan return daily. Return Club World fares from Sydney to London via Bangkok start at A$8,700 and economy at A$2,727. Return Club World fares from London to Milan start at A$728 and economy at A$198. These airfares can be booked through your Travel Agent.

WHERE TO SHOP FASHION DISTRICT bordered by Via Sant’Andrea, Via della Spiga, Via Gesu, Via Montenapoleone. G. LORENZI Via Montenapoleone, 9 VITTORIO EMANUELE GALLERY Piazza Duomo LA RINASCENTE Piazza Duomo GALLERIA COLOMBARI Via Maroncelli 10 GALLERIA MK Via Maroncelli 2 10 CORSO COMO Corso Como 10 SERRAVALLE DESIGNER OUTLET Via della Moda 1, Serravalle




LANDMARK LODGINGS Top: Il Salotto bar in the lobby of the Hotel Principe de Savoia. Bottom from left: the bedroom of the Presidential Suite; a bedroom of one of the four Imperial Suites.

O: TO G pt N E in WH exce uch ime t y en m wn n h A w , do ust Aug y closes eak of it br c r e e h t umm weeks. s a for hree hoopla ast t e at le ence th s in i r e eek p Ex n W tember shio p of Fa and Se tional ch na r r a M ne nte the I (Salo ili) and ure Fair ob M i it Furn zionale d ates of n ld Inter y (actua y from a var M s t in ven e e s ar). the to ye r a e y

STAY HOTEL PRINCIPE DI SAVOIA A landmark glamorous hotel since the 1920s, with a neo-classical façade, and classic modern Italian décor throughout. Madonna, George Clooney and David Beckham are celebrity guests who’ve checked in lately and the hotel’s glamorous Principe Bar remains the place to be after dinner. Hotel amenities include Acqua di Parma products, the latest hi-tech gadgetry in rooms, a roof top spa (Club 10) with outdoor terrace and 140

swimming pool, and a complimentary limousine service to the city centre. RECOMMENDED ROOM NUMBERS: the spacious Mosaic rooms and Principe Suites recently refurbished by Francesca Basu, the Imperial Suites, the two-bedroom Royal suite and the Presidential Suite which is known as the “pearl of Italian hotels”. RATES: Rooms from c228 (about A$305) and suites from c595 (about A$797) per night. Imperial Suite from c6,500 (about A$8,708) per night. This holiday can be booked through your Travel Agent.

WHAT TO DO VISIT THE DUOMO Piazza Duomo VISIT THE LAST SUPPER Santa Maria delle Grazie Church Advance bookings required. Ask your travel agent or hotel concierge.





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MIKE BATT’S FAVOURITE DESTINATIONS: Il Pellicano Hotel in Tuscany: “Location, view, feel good factor. Looking out over the sea and knowing that there really isn’t anything better. Bill Gates couldn’t enjoy the club sandwich any more than I can. No matter how much money he’s got, it’s not possible!” Fort Lauderdale in Florida: “It has everything I love about America. Wide parking spaces, friendly people, great climate and ‘the-answer’s -yes, what’s-the-question?’ attitude.“ Australia: “I love the British undercurrent and the way it’s been overlaid by the Aussie farmore-laid-back attitude and overlaid again with how Australia’s integrated with Asia. It’s an intoxicating mix.” 144

ike Batt, one-time Marketing Manager for British Airways and now Chairman of Travel Leaders’ Group which comprises one third of North America’s travel agent network, recently had a moment of pure, unadulterated luxury in Australia. “Forget whether it’s something that’s really expensive,” he said during a visit to Sydney in June. “As I looked across Sydney Harbour, we were on a boat to Homebush Bay to a Rugby game, we were going past the Opera House and I had this amber beer that tasted just great. I’m thinking: ‘It doesn’t get any better. No matter how much money you have. It doesn’t get better.’ ” For Batt, now a multimillionaire and one of the world’s most influential travel entrepreneurs, the definition of luxury is simple: “If you said to me what’s the luxury about having money? It’s the freedom to do what I want. It’s not buying something that’s expensive. It’s just, ‘I can if I want …’ That said, luxury experiences do come at a price and, he says, that price is going up. “Most people have forgotten just how poor people were in the 60s and how wealthy the world is today, even though it’s not spread evenly. “Look at the number of wealthy people that there are today and where they are coming from: Romania, Russia, the other republics from the old Soviet Union, China and India, of course. “The prices of totally unique properties are going to rise to a level five years from now that people are just not going to believe,” Batt predicts. “I’m talking about things that cannot be replicated. I’m not talking about a five star hotel in the middle of New York because that can be replicated. But you can’t recreate the Hotel Splendido in Portofino.” Mike Batt grew up in Wales, the son of a coal miner, and began his career in sales with the Mars confectionary company. His move to British Airways, and subsequent eight years with the company, converted him to travel for life. He left British Airways to join Alamo Rent-a-car following an offer that tripled his salary – and gave him the opportunity to use his income to “angel invest” on the side. “I didn’t like the risk profile of being a corporate employee where your entire future depended on whether you could get another good job.”

In 1996, after 18 months with Alamo, Batt accepted an offer from the head of Carlson Companies to become president of Carlson Leisure Group, an offshoot of Carlson Travel Group Inc. He was also made a board member of Carlson Wagonlit Travel. At Carlson, Batt’s arrangement allowed him to share in the company’s success. Over the next decade he worked with JPMorgan Chase’s private equity company, One Equity Partners, and together they grew Carlson’s interests through merger and acquisition to the point where Carlson overtook American Express as the world’s number one business travel company. In so doing, he quadrupled the company’s profits and, in the process, became a multimillionaire in his own right, giving him the means to ultimately acquire the Carlson Leisure Group via a management buyout when the Carlson family decided to sell it. In the three years since, again through merger and acquisition and again supported by JP Morgan Chase, he has grown the renamed Travel Leaders’ Group business from running around 10 per cent of the travel agent network in North America to more than 6,000 wholly owned, franchised and affiliated agencies comprising around 30 per cent of the market. Batt sees further segmentation of the luxury travel market ahead. “There’s going to be so many new segments. Ritz Carlton does a really good job of what I call ‘mass market luxury’. As do Four Seasons. Then there are the versions on that with an edge. Brands like the Setai and the W are all about design, art and being the place to be seen.” As for Batt’s own ultimate personal travel goal, he’s conflicted. “The private jet is the classic embodiment of luxury. You want to go now? You want to go a minute from now...?” he says. “But I just don’t think I can take the coal miner’s son influence out of me. On the occasions I’ve paid for a private jet, and enjoyed it, I keep thinking ‘By the way, what’s wrong with First Class?’ I think I actually enjoy that tension - and the fact I get to think about it.” n John O’Neill is chairman of Luxury Travel Magazine’s advisory board and Managing Director of the digital marketing agency Komosion ( w w w. l u x u r y t r a v e l m a g . c o m . a u

Porsche recommends

So hardcore, it comes with an R rating. The new Cayman R. What you see is the attitude: lower sports suspension, 19-inch wheels and a motorsport inspired interior replete with lightweight carbon fibre bucket seats. What you feel is the unequivocal focus and flexed responsiveness of an elite athlete. 40kg lighter and with a more powerful 243kW mid-mounted engine,* this is a car created for the purist who values handling above all else. Could it be the best expression of Porsche agility ever?

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LT#47 - Winter 2011 - AWT  
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