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THE NEW MITSUBISHI ASX ESCAPE YOUR VIRTUAL LIFE
With 3 years 0% APR finance1, owning a new Mitsubishi ASX is now more of a reality than ever. An SUV which crosses affordability with agility and stylish practicality. We call this Intelligent Motion.
Take a test drive | Visit mitsubishi-cars.co.uk to find your nearest dealer 1. The offer relates to an ASX 2 and requires a minimum 20% deposit. 0% APR Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) only available on a new ASX 2 registered between 29th December 2016 and 29th March 2017. Retail sales only. 0% APR PCP offer shown is for an ASX 2 petrol with metallic paint (OTR price £16,709) and requires a £4,825 Deposit and a £5,800 Optional Final Payment. With PCP you have the option at the end of the agreement to: (a) return the vehicle and not pay the Optional Final Payment. If the vehicle has exceeded the maximum agreed mileage a charge per excess mile will apply. In this example, 6p plus VAT per excess mile above the maximum agreed mileage. If the vehicle is in good condition (fair wear and tear) and has not exceeded the maximum agreed mileage you will have nothing further to pay; (b) pay the Optional Final Payment to own the vehicle or (c) part exchange the vehicle subject to settlement of your existing credit agreement; new credit agreements are subject to status. The example is based upon an annual mileage of 10,000 miles. Credit is subject to status and only available to UK residents aged 18 and over resident in Mainland UK and N. Ireland. This credit offer is only available through Shogun Finance Ltd T/A Finance Mitsubishi, 116 Cockfosters Rd, Barnet, EN4 0DY. Finance Mitsubishi is part of Lloyds Banking Group. Offer not available in conjunction with any other offer, subject to availability, whilst stocks last and may be amended or withdrawn at any time. Fuel figures shown are official EU test figures, to be used as a guide for comparative purposes and may not reflect real driving results.
ASX 2 fuel consumption in mpg (ltrs/100km): Urban 38.2 (7.4), Extra Urban 57.6 (4.9), Combined 48.7 (5.8), CO2 emissions 135 g/km.
Our associate editor, Hannah Summers, won Young Travel Writer of the Year at the 2016 Travel Media Awards – for the second year running, no less. Hannah also won the 'Best Print Coverage' category in the British Annual Canada Travel Awards in February.
f you’re lucky enough to travel a lot, I happen to think that it’s your duty to appreciate how fortunate you are – especially in those moments when your love of travel’s being stretched and tested to its very limits. But there have been times when I’m sorry to say I’ve cracked. Most of those times have been in airports, all of which seem to have been purpose built to make my tiny brain fizz and spark until I’m left staring blankly at the departures board, unable to remember which flight I’m supposed to be getting on. At this exact point, I’m happy to admit that I’m not really feeling much love for travel – right then, for that very specific split second, I loathe travel. And then I snap out of it and remember (because it’s my duty, but mostly because it’s absolutely true) that I’m about to get on a plane and go somewhere, which has almost always proven to be a good thing. Without wanting to sound soppy, simply looking at this issue of escapism reminds me just how lucky we are, and how much there is to see and do in the world – from hanging out in bars in Bath (p36) to hanging off a cliff in southern China (p93). As I write this, I’m about to set off on a road trip to the Lake District, with a forecast in front of me that basically reads: ‘rain, more rain, really wet rain, painful rain, lucky dip rain’. And I still feel lucky. Mainly because I don’t have to go through airport customs to get there… e @escapismmag escapismmagazine
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What’s new in travel, from bike tours of Tanzania to windmill staycations in Norfolk, and everything in between
Family breaks that’ll sort your summer faster than the kids can say “are we nearly there yet”, and much more
Looking good takes some serious hard work. Luckily we’ve put in the effort for you. Plus: The Intrepid Series
14 . Photography 22 . Just Landed 27 . Tried & Tested 30 . UAE Essentials 36 . Short Stay 38 . In Focus: Bath
46 . The world‘s best big family breaks Your guide to the greatest family getaways 56 .Oman road trip Exploring Arabia, from mountains to sea 67 .Stockholm city guide Cool stays, kinky bars and fire-fuelled food 77.Venice, Italy Visiting the untouched idyll of Venice lagoon 82 .Aspen, USA Carving the slopes with Aspen's ski patrol 88 .Antwerp, Belgium Guts and glory in the Belgian riverside city 95 .Yangshuo, China Cocktails and climbing in Southern China 101 .Inside Coachella Rubbing shoulders with the slebs in California
109 . The best new gear 119 . The Intrepid Series: Alpine Survival Learning the ropes with Stéphane Viron
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TIME FLIES: This slow-shutter-speed snap of fireflies at dusk, on a farm in China’s Guangdong province, got photographer Zhu Jianxing a place on the shortlist in the Open Travel category of the Sony World Photography Awards 2017. Turn over for more of the best of this year’s entries…
14 PHOTOGRAPHY 22 JUST LANDED 27 ON LOCATION 29 WORLD NEWS 30 BEST OF UAE 36 SHORT STAY 38 UK FOCUS: BATHH
Photograph by ###
FRAMED IN THE PICTURE The shortlist for this year’s Sony World Photography Awards is in – and the shots are even more mind blowing than before
Photograph by Alessandra Meniconzi
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PRETTY IN PINK: Photographer Alessandra Meniconzi snapped these mist-shrouded flamingos on a day trip to the shallows of Namibia’s Walvis Bay lagoon. She’d never seen the pink-feathered beauties in the wild before, so she filled an entire memory card with snaps of the little guys – this one made the shortlist in the Open Wildlife category.
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YELLOW SNOW: According to Japanese photographer Masayasu Sakuma, the only time that falling snow gets this kind of godly glow is at the exact moment of sunrise, which is why this shot took four years to get in the bag. It was well worth the wait.
Photograph by Masayasu Sakuma
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Photograph by Rob Wilson
LIVING ON THE EDGE: If youâ€™re going to ask your girlfriend to stand on the edge of a cliff in Yosemite National Park, US, it had better get you an award.
.info n s b r u ck w w w.in
Grafik: Innsbruck Tourismus, Foto: Webhofer
Innsbruck – the Capital of the Alps Imperial palaces or shopping malls? Hiking boots or high heels? No need to struggle to make the right decision – with a holiday in Innsbruck you get the best of both worlds: the city AND the mountains. Where else can you take a designer cable car from a historic city centre that whisks you up to 2000 metres altitude for afternoon tea? Only in Innsbruck, the Capital of the Alps. To take your pick from the vast variety of Innsbruck’s tailor made holiday packages visit: www.innsbruck.info or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photograph by Barry Tweed-Rycroft
ALL PUDDLED UP: To see more amazing shots like this reflective number by Barry Tweed-Rycroft, check out the Sony World Photography Awards & Martin Parr exhibition at Somerset House from 21 April-7 May 2017. worldphoto.org
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HEAD IN THE CLOUDS
JUST LANDED WHAT’S NEW IN TRAVEL
In a world of glitzy mega resorts, it feels extra special to find a place where the sand hasn’t been swept and hoovered. Case in point, the tiny Caribbean island of Tobago. Go for the sublime, empty beaches, and one of the five-day yoga breaks launching at Castara Retreats this summer. You’ll be honing your moves in a treetop jumble of open-air suites, birds and a breezy new yoga deck with sea views. Afternoons are free for liming (hanging with the locals with a beer) and lazing on the nearby beach. Seven nights cost £900pp, including meals. Flights not included. castararetreats.com
To holiday like James Bond (although, does he ever take holidays?), check out the new lair-style Deplar Farm in northern Iceland. The former sheep lodge’s remote setting gives it access to mega-cool winter and summer pursuits (ice fishing, sea kayaking), and when the Arctic salmon season starts in April
you could even heli-ski down the slopes of the Troll Peninsula then catch big sea trout the same day. When you’re not doing that, you can try snowmobiling, ice fishing, jamming in the 12-room property’s rehearsal studio or dipping in the indoor and outdoor swimming pool. Of course, all this fun comes at a price: that’ll be £8,200pp (with four days of heli-skiing, chopper included). elevenexperience.com
Photograph (Castara) by Alex Treadway
ACTION ALL AREAS
Meeting the opposite sex via an app? All a bit Tinder circa 2012, isn’t it? Not with new app Chatzoome though, which really, genuinely, honestly is just about making friends in new cities – without having to go through the tedious icebreaker conversation (“Is this seat taken?”; “What’s in your sandwich?”; “Up for it?”). All you have to do is check into the venue you are in, see who is there, and wait for the new friends to appear. Which sounds a hell of a lot better than scrolling through Instagram. Maybe. chatzoome.com
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MARCH FOR GIANTS An elephant is killed every 25 minutes, and a third of the global population has been wiped out in seven years. That’s why, from 23 March, you’ll see colourful digital elephants strut the screens of Westfield, Times Square and more. Want to see your own personalised elephant appear? And help? Donate £5 and text ‘GIANT’ plus your first name to 70025. marchforgiants.org
POOL RESOURCES Sunshine, warm weather and blue sky: remember them? If you’re hankering for an inexpensive sun-drenched break this spring, try the new Marpunta Village Club – a chilled-out beachside resort that
once functioned as a fishing village – on the island of Alonnisos, Greece. Expect fresh, laid-back interiors complete with the typical white-washed walls/blue shutters combo, three private beaches and prices that go pretty easy on the wallet. Seven nights from £480pp on an all-inclusive basis. marpunta.com
RUN OF THE MILL Straight walls are just a bit blah really, aren’t they? For a staycation with a twist, try Red Mill, a converted Grade II-listed windmill on Haddiscoe Island, Norfolk. The property, which sleeps six, was originally built to power drainage pumps on the island, and now it’s available for long weekends and weeks of wildlife spotting, beach trips and views over the River Yare. And Scrabble. Lots of Scrabble. Prices start from £150 per night. For more information, see norfolkcottages.co.uk
Photograph(Greece) by Sandi Friend
Most people will see Tanzania by four wheels in a jeep, which is all well and good, but what if you need a bit more action? Intrepid Travel’s new 13-day cycling trip is the answer, in which you’ll be cruising down Great Rift Valley escarpments, strolling through villages, roasting your own coffee and drifting off to sleep surrounded by nocturnal creatures. Expect dry open plains, bumpy roads that will challenge your suspension (and your arse) and some of the best game drives going. From £2,377pp. intrepidtravel.com
TESTED TOUGH IN PORTLAND, OREGON, USA. WHERE WE MEASURE RAINFALL IN FEET.
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TRIED & TESTED Natural beauty products to take on your travels
MONU SKIN HYDRATING MASK, £29.95 (100ML)
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Remote island in the South Pacific? Pah! Turns out King Kong’s home, Skull Island, ain’t that far from Honolulu #06 OAHU, HAWAII
Photographs by (Oahu) imageBROKER / Alamy; (Kong) Pictorial Press Ltd/Alamy
If there’s one thing we learned exploring the dinosaur-infested (yes, dinosaurinfested) jungles of King Kong’s backyard while watching Kong: Skull Island – the latest addition to the massive ape’s movie canon – it’s that when Samuel L Jackson decides he needs a beach break, there aren’t going to be too many piñas and caipirinhas on the cards.
FAR FLUNG: [top] Kualoa Regional Park, Oahu is known for its beaches (and as a home for fictional giant apes); [above] the cast of Kong: Skull Island
Luckily for you, however, the leafy shores of Hawaii’s third-largest island, Oahu, aren’t full of bloodthirsty locals and palm-flinging primates like in the movie – probably because the film’s set during the Cold War or something. In fact, the only evidence of the ape anywhere near Oahu is the giant hatshaped island of Mokolii, which you can go and investigate by kayak (although we doubt King Kong would suit a fedora). Also on Oahu, you’ll find the beautiful Kualoa Ranch nature reserve, which you can schlep around by quad bike, catamaran and zipline, as well as touring the sights of other dino-smasher Jurassic Park, which was also filmed in Hawaii. Then there’s the matter of the secret beaches, horseback treks and jungle tours taking in the rich flora and fauna of the Aloha state. Just don’t expect to see any, well, gorillas. e Kong: Skull Island is MORE TRAVEL STORIES AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM in UK cinemas now.
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NIKKI BEACH RESORT & SPA DUBAI Kenwood Travel’s Dubai team are thrilled to present Nikki Beach Resort & Spa Dubai – a chic new Contemporary Lifestyle resort whose star-studded launch last December took the Pearl Jumeira scene by storm. Join the cool crowd at the destination beach club or sunbathe on the pristine white sands. Meanwhile, spacious private-pool villas, seafront or skyline room views and a world-class spa leave every visitor with plenty to admire.
LUXURY LIVING • Unique in-room features such as MyBar • Complimentary access to world-famous Nikki Beach Club • Spectacular 450 metre private beach with unobstructed sea views • Only 7km from Downtown Dubai & the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa
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D E PA R T U R E S MORE TRAVEL NEWS AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM
Like your hotel room so much that you want to take a piece of it home? You’re not the only one. At all. Seems that taking a ‘souvenir’ away with you is very much the done thing…
othing quite beats waltzing out of a hotel with a backpack full of tiny half-used toiletries, some flimsy Daz-white slippers (“I definitely need another pair”), and a suitcase stuffed with two, 30ft-long, fully lined silky black-out curtains, all without the hotel staff having the faintest idea. What? They do know? What? You haven’t? Oh. Turns out a quarter of you have actually pinched something during your stay – and toiletries don’t officially count. So that’s duvets, lamps, hopes and dreams, all stashed away from your suite. The results are in from Point A Hotels, which positions itself as a ‘brand new hotel group’ with a ‘brand new point of view’. To help them meet these new views, they’ve conducted
a survey of 2,000 adults, finding that the average Brit enjoys an average of 378 separate hotel stays over a period of 1,184 nights. In other words, that’s 378 pairs of curtains, 756 slippers and more than a thousand shampoo explosions on the plane home. We’ve all been there. Beyond that, we spend ten months asleep in hotels during our adult lifetime, dropping a whopping £62k in the process. And despite all that cash flooding in, we only spend three waking hours of each day actually making the most of our hotel room – like taking extra long baths, jumping on the bed, cruising around in a bathrobe you’d be horrified by at home. No wonder a quarter of us feel compelled to make our money back in different ways. Free shampoo for life. e
TRY BEFORE YOU BUY: Those curtains look nice, don’t they? Wonder if they’ll fit the windows at home?
FOLLOW THIS @ESCAPISMMAG
Not only do the people behind these Insta accounts get about a bit, they have a knack for capturing all the action
Photograph (hotel room) by Heinz Troll
“It’s never too late to follow your dream,” according to photographer Sean Byrne. Quite right! As long as those dreams take us to the places his account is filled with, including, wait for it, Happisburgh Lighthouse in Norfolk.
Follow Amsterdam-based Joost’s adventures to West Africa, India and more for a glimpse into the daily lives of the country’s residents. Baguettes on a motorbike? Donkey in a desert? Soccer at sunset? It’s all here.
Tim’s always ‘down for an adventure’ apparently, which is no bad thing considering the epic shots he captures along the way. Expect access to scenes we can only dream of (yep, that’s a river shot from above).
ARABIA WINGING IT
A WHOLE NEW WORLD DISCOVER MORE DESTINATIONS AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM
A trip to the UAE and its neighbours isnâ€™t all about luxury hotels, shopping, sunbathing and excess. Tom Powell seeks out some Arabian holidays with a difference
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Survive the desert in Sharjah If you reckon you’ve got what it takes to survive the arid sands and scorching sun of Sharjah’s desert, get your stomping boots on and take a hike through the Mleiha desert. Your survival camp will take in ancient ruins, starry-sky views and a fair bit of wildlife (we’re talking lizards, birds and camels). Of course, if you don’t fancy toughing it out on the ground with the best survival guides in the UAE, you can grab yourself a bird’s eye view of the dunes by jumping off one of the region’s biggest peaks while attached to a paraglider. Bear Grylls eat your heart out… Discover Mleiha offers two-night survival tours from £544. discovermleiha.ae
See Dubai by Lamborghini Looking for a whistle-stop tour of the skyscrapers and sands of Dubai? Well, you won’t find one nippier than this halfhour spin dreamt up by super-luxe hotel the Waldorf Astoria and Italian motoring legends Lamborghini. Due to the high During the Dubai interest in expensive Motor Show on 16-18 cars in the region, November, guests the Dubai Motor Show attracts plenty can razz a supercar of high-end car around the city with manufacturers as an expert driver on well as thousands of enthusiasts. hand for advice and, er, damage limitation. Belt up, hit the throttle, and remember that with a 0-60 time under three seconds, you’ll want your camera set to sports mode. Rooms from £391. waldorfastoria3.hilton.com
Get your stomping boots on and take a hike through the Mleiha desert in Sharjah on a survival camp that’ll take in the ancient ruins Explore Ras Al Khaimah’s mountains Beyond the beautiful beaches and lush oases of the UAE’s northernmost emirate, you’re going to want to check out one thing and one thing only: those mountains. Luckily for you, thanks to a brand-spankingnew via ferrata run that extends 400ft up the lofty peaks of Jebel Jais, you don’t need to be a pro at clambering in crampons or edging your way across crumbly rocky facades to soak up those magical views. With three separate runs and a 985ft zipline to cap it all off, it’s the perfect way to
DESERT STORM: [clockwise from above] A herd of Oryx in the desert in Sharjah; Dubai’s ever-evolving skyline; the big decision: pool or beach?
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CITY LIMITS: [above] Abu Dhabi is the place to go for stunning sandy beaches; [below] the Rhodes W1 bar in Dubai’s cool Grosvenor House
conquer the mountains without having to partake in tons of gruelling training. Jebel Jais offers Via Ferrata expeditions from £87. jebeljais.ae
Eat your way around Qatar
Discover Qatar offers Souq Waqif tours from £66, discoverqatar.qatarairways.com; qifoodfestival.qa; shangri-la.com
In a place as opulent as Abu Dhabi, sweeping white-sand beaches and effortlessly luxurious One of the most lodgings come impressive sights almost as standard in Abu Dhabi’s – but marble-clad mangroves are the flamingos. You might underpasses to your also spot dugongs own private beach and dolphins in the club, sumptuous Art water, or foraging foxes on land. Deco stylings and suites suspended 200m in the air between two towers are exclusive to St Regis Abu Dhabi. You’ll spend your days sipping cocktails at the hotel’s swim-up pool bar and your evenings sampling the freshest fine grub from one of the hotel’s nine unique restaurants, or even chowing down on a dinner of oysters and caviar on the hotel’s helipad while watching the sun set over the Corniche. Count us in.
Abu Dhabi’s East Mangrove National Park is an idyllic maze of trees and narrow waterways
Rooms from £141. stregisabudhabi.com
Soak up the scenery of Oman Tucked resplendently between the shimmering Gulf of Oman and the rugged spires of the Al Hajar mountains, The Chedi Muscat – one of the most enduringly popular boltholes in Oman’s serene, waterside capital city – is the perfect place for some sun, sand and, er, dune bashing adventures. If you ever get bored of sunbathing next to one of the
Photograph by Neil Scott Corder
Sure, Qatar’s going up in the world (in every sense) right now, but if you think it’s all plush gourmet offerings at swanky 44th-floor hotel restaurants, you’re wrong (although the new Shanghai Club at Shangri-La Doha is well worth the trip to please your palate with fine fusion food). Visit over March or April each year for the Qatar International Food Festival, which sees hundreds of chefs and foodies descend on Doha for two weeks of culinary heaven. After the festival, you This buzzing market can join Discover was traditionally Qatar on an evening used for trading tour of the bustling livestock when it was founded a capital’s Souq Waqif century ago, but now and indulge in shisha, sells clothing, spices, spices and a slap-up handicrafts and souvenirs. supper of middleeastern fare that’ll give you a fresh, authentic spin on Arabian cuisine after the deliciously high-end grub you’ll find in the modern heart of the city.
Live a little luxe in Abu Dhabi
Introducing The Westin Dubai Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina, approved first-hand by our Arabia experts. From foodie hotspots like Bubbalicious Friday Brunch to restful nights in The Heavenly® Bed, we loved how each luxury moment led to the next. And with great-value Kenwood Travel deals now on, there’s never been a better time to book your stay.
LUXURY MOMENTS • Free Half Board Dine Around* • Free use of sister property facilities • Five swimming pools and 14 restaurants & bars
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*Also valid at sister property Le Méridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort & Marina
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most iconic hotel swimming pools on the entire planet, you can ask your own personal concierge to tip you off about all of the region’s coolest sights, which include 4X4 desert tours, hikes to remote mountain villages Oman has long been and afternoons spent renowned for its with the artisan dhow boat builders, and builders and spice while not as many remain today, it’s sellers along the still possible to see seafront and in the the large wooden souks. Then again, the dhows being made, and take a cruise. long list of treatments at the resort’s gigantic spa look pretty tempting, too. Rooms from £237. ghmhotels.com
Catch some waves in Dubai marina If life feels hard even when you’re resting your tired feet in one of Dubai’s most iconic hotels and soaking up sublime city views from the comfort of your own suite, here’s something to blast away the cobwebs: a good-old wakeboarding sesh. The good news is when you stay in the elegant twin towers of Grosvenor House Dubai, you’re only ever minutes from Xtremewake UAE’s base in Dubai Marina, so whenever you want to make a splash and carve your way across the pleasantly warm waters of the gulf, you can – and you’ll have a choice of two world-class spas to sort out that saltsprayed hair once you’re done. Rooms at Grosvenor House from £237. grosvenorhouse-dubai.com; Wakeboarding charters from £120. xtremewakeuae.com
Hit the beach in Abu Dhabi Just because the beaches of Abu Dhabi are warm, white and very well-known doesn’t
ARABIAN NIGHTS: [clockwise from here] Discover Oman’s capital from The Chedi Muscat; more turquoise sea in Abu Dhabi; Qatar’s skyline
Hike to remote mountain villages and spend your afternoons with the artisan dhow builders of Muscat
mean that you can’t get a slice of the action too now, does it? Especially not when you’re chilling in the comfort of a beach-view villa on a private island a couple of miles out in the Persian Gulf. Reached by boat (or chopper if you’re feeling Hollywood), each of Nurai Island resort’s luxurious lodgings come complete with summer camp-style firepits, super-deep daybeds and contemporary furnishings, as well as a seat at five intimate restaurants serving the best locally sourced food alongside a lustrous list of biodynamic wines. e Kenwood Travel offers three-night stays with flights from £1,129. kenwoodtravel.co.uk; zayanuraiisland.com
A Captivating Location, Luxury Redefined The St. Regis Abu Dhabi soars to new heights of splendour and service beyond expectation. Located at the vibrant heart of Abu Dhabi, you are invited to experience the finest address in the city.
ÂŠ2016 Marriott International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their logos are the trademarks of Marriott International, Inc., or its affiliates.
The St. Regis Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates t. +971 2 694 4444 stregisabudhabi.com
Stay exquisite at more than 40 St. Regis hotels and resorts worldwide. @stregishotels
SHORT STAY ALBION HOUSE, RAMSGATE
ROYALLY GOOD You might not know it, but Ramsgate has its fair share of regal connections, as well as a serious dose of quintessentially British seaside charm. Hannah Summers heads to Kent to take in the sea air What’s the score?
What to expect
Here’s a good pub fact for you: Ramsgate is home to the only Royal Harbour in the UK. Yep, that’s Ramsgate, Kent, that southern seaside town that probably won’t feature on your holiday radar all that much. Except it should. This isn’t a Blackpool, a Brighton or a Hastings. No neon lights, no tattooed hipsters (yet) and no shiny new pier. Instead, there are Georgian terraces, a crazy network of wartime tunnels and the best fish and chips with the worst service you could ever hope to encounter (at Peter’s Fish Factory). At the centre of all this fun is Albion House, a clifftop, 14-bedroom boutique hotel which was built in 1791 and even hosted Princess Victoria before she was crowned queen.
Sea-view rooms come with muted tones, high ceilings, marble bathrooms and big, long windows overlooking the pretty harbour – throw them open for some seagull sounds. Beds are big and plump, but don’t linger too long – breakfast is a huge feast in a pretty, sunlit room perfect for spreading out with the papers and a couple of bloody marys. Come evening, the restaurant is a calm, candlelit space serving roast sirloin with carrot mash, and generous cheese boards showcasing the best of Kent and East Sussex. If you need a drink after, head to The Ravensgate Arms for local beers, beaten up armchairs and a real fire.
For the rest of the weekend Three miles along the coast is the town of
Ramsgate is home to Georgian terraces, wartime tunnels, the best fish and chips and the only Royal harbour in the UK
ALBION HOUSE, RAMSGATE ADDRESS ALBION PLACE, RAMSGATE, KENT CT11 8HQ
PRICE FROM £100 A NIGHT B&B GETTING THERE 90 MINUTES FROM LONDON
INFO VISITKENT.CO.UK; ALBIONHOUSERAMSGATE.CO.UK
D E PA R T U R E S
MORE STAYS BY THE SEA We all like to be beside the seaside, so it’s worth booking somewhere to stay that’s as close to the water as possible
SWAN HOUSE, HASTINGS
SET SAIL: [clockwise from left] Ramsgate's Royal Harbour; expect elegant bedrooms and sea views at Albion House; Viking Bay in Broadstairs
Photographs by (harbour) Britain On View/ Thanet District Council/ Rod Edwards/ British Tourist Authority
Broadstairs, which is a must for a pretty beach chock-full of gallivanting dogs, excellent micro pubs and one of the best restaurants in the south – Wyatt & Jones. Start with some oysters and check out the specials – our pick was a sharing platter of chateaubriand with the crispiest roast potatoes, a rich and punchy garlicky gravy and soft, The building that buttered carrots. now houses the Unforgettable. Royal Albion If you can’t stay for Hotel has stood on Broadstairs seafront dinner, then grab a since 1776. Inside, drink and a freshly however, it's all mod made pork pie at the cons and smart, contemporary decor. Thirty-Nine Steps Alehouse, a former pet shop that's now packed with locals sipping session bitters and creative ciders (try the rhubarb and custard flavour for a taste of sweets in a pint). If your company’s crap, then head to the Chapel, a cosy micro pub which was once a bookshop – the walls are lined with fiction (and fact) that you can still actually buy. Where else could you pick up a book on the history of WH Smith? I know. For some fun and games check out the arcades, where you can convert your skills to tickets which you then swap for lollipops or, if you’re really lucky, a naff key ring. If you do make a night of it (I would recommend spending one night in Ramsgate and one night in Broadstairs), then try holing up at the rather grand-looking Royal Albion, a seafront hotel with cosy bedrooms and a big claim to fame – it was the former residence of Charles Dickens. e
Visit Hastings for a mind-boggling selection of antique shops, a breezy new pier and this awesome little B&B, which was built in 1490 and now exists as a maze of cosy rooms. Breakfast is on point. From £80 a night B&B. swanhousehastings.co.uk
NUMBER ONE CARBOST, ISLE OF SKYE, SCOTLAND If hotels aren’t your thing, try this retro cottage from Cool Stays. Inside it’s a 1950s-inspired colour explosion, while outside the garden leads directly to Loch Harport. From £475 a week. coolstays.com
THE PIG ON THE BEACH, DORSET Big country-home style bedrooms with equally big beds, a rustic menu of pork dishes and access to a long, sandy nudist beach makes this a top pick for sausage lovers. Oh, and the sea views aren’t too shabby either. From £145 a night B&B. thepighotel.com
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IN FOCUS BATH
AVON CALLING Bath is best-known for bathing and beautiful buildings, but it’s not all hot springs and sightseeing – this riverside city is full of cool places to eat, drink and discover says Tom Powell Eat
beers and Sunday roasts on Old King Street by Queen Square since 2010. A short hop across Queen Square on the quaint and narrow Monmouth Place you’ll find the The Scallop Shell, where the delightfully crunchy cod and chips comes with the tag of 2016’s ‘best in the country’. Beyond the top-notch fast food, there’s a loose nautical theme in place that involves bathtubs full of seasonal fish (including oysters) on ice. Done. Sometimes the best things in life surprise you, and the fresh-cooked grub served at Menu Gordon Jones is full of it. OK, so the six-course, £55 blind-tasting menu isn’t one for fussy eaters (every day’s a new set of offpiste surprises), but it offers one of the most intimate high-end dining experiences in the city. And just minutes from Alexandra Park,
Dip into Bath: [above] Pulteney Bridge and the River Avon; [below] meat-free feasting at Acorn restaurant
Photograph (main) by Marco Wong/Getty
For a quick, light bite (or huge bag of picnic essentials to walk up to nearby Victoria Park with), try Chandos Deli at the top of George Street. Or for similar deli bites, Sam’s Kitchen, which is nearer the Avon on the indie-trader’s haven of Walcot Street. Around the corner from Chandos Deli, Hall & Woodhouse is exactly what happens when you strip a 235-year-old auction house, plant a palm tree in the middle, fit an openair roof terrace and Situated at the top fill it with shabbyof Beechen Cliff, chic furniture. The 11-acre Alexandra quirky yet glamorous Park is the place to head to for gastropub, owned panoramic views of by Dorset brewers, the city while taking Badger, has been a in a serious dose of fresh air. stately outpost for
D E PA R T U R E S
you’re really close to some of the best views across the Avon to Bath’s main slog. For serious veggie nosh concocted from the best of local growers, check out Acorn Vegetarian, where the slow-cooked squash might have you wondering why we ever bothered to eat meat in the first place. Stepping from high-end gourmet to eat-in-the-street takeaway, if the city gets the best of you, Bath’s budget alternative to a greasy kebab or a (dare we say) high street burger is legendary local frying shop Schwartz Bros, which has two shops conveniently placed opposite Theatre Royal and down Walcot Street past Waitrose.
Drink Start your day at Colonna & Smalls, Bath’s go-to Scandi-style café for coffee lovers. Complete with exposed walls and a laidback vibe, the shop’s award-winning baristas are on hand to eke the best out of specialty beans from all over the world. You’re unlikely get a better cup of joe in town. Come lunch, you’ll probably fancy something a little stiffer than a jug of java, so try Hunter & Sons, a bar and coffee shop
Head to the Canary Gin Bar, run by city distillers Bath Gin that serves the best of the UK craft crop, as well as all your usual hot bevvies supplied from the best West Country roasters. For a more Hogarthian twist on things, skip afternoon tea (although vintage tea rooms like Bea’s on Saville Row are great) and knock your way down to Queen Street stalwart Canary Gin Bar, which is run by city distillers Bath Gin. There are more than 200 gins on the menu, taking everything from classic cocktails to spirits with a splash and botanical gems, but the jewel is the earl grey negroni – perfect for an aromatic afternoon tipple on a spring day.
Relax in the warm, mineral-rich waters of Bath’s natural thermal Spa
Open daily from 09.00 – 21.30
01225 33 1234
D E PA R T U R E S
TAKE A DIP: [above] Thermae Bath Spa; [below left] Bath Gin; [right] Gainsborough Bath Spa
If you’re really into the science of spirits, Saturday is distillery day, where £30 will buy you a whistle-stop tour and a taster or two. Down the hill you’ll find Bath Brew House, home to St James Street brewery. Head to the brushed-up boozer to fill up on tons of top brews with on-pump tasting notes to save time (and awkwardness). You can also tour the basement brewery for the princely sum of £7.50. If wine’s more your thing, try Walcot Street’s Corkage, an indie wine shop that also serves small plates to help soak up the sauce. By popular demand, they serve 50ml tasting measures and carafes, as well as the regular glasses and full-sized bottles of wine that you can sip in the cosy wood-clad bar, or just take back to your hotel.
Do Brush up on your knowledge of Bath’s namesake with a trip to the Roman Baths just by the Abbey – or just hit up Thermae Bath Spa if you prefer hot springs and rooftop views to history lessons. For outrageous regent architecture and a taste of the high life, amble across The Circus and up to Royal Crescent to take in some serious Jane Austen vibes. Sports fans will enjoy the ruggedly intimate setting of Bath’s rugby ground, where the boys in black, white and blue
will give you a weekend schooling in hard knocks (and hooped socks). For an evening out, meanwhile, there’s the Ustinov – a simple, studio cousin to the neighbouring Theatre Royal where you can see small shows with impressive pedigree. If you’re in the area for longer, you might want to hop on the train to the quaint nearby town of Bradford-upon-Avon, which is great for a pub This row of 30 lunch and stroll along terraced houses the canal. is Grade I listed,
and it’s easy to see why – the Crescent is regarded as one of the best examples of Georgian architecture in the UK.
Opening this summer, Apex’s impeccably modern new City of Bath Hotel sits just seconds from Bath Brew House and Green Park Station at the bottom of town on James Street West, making it the perfect bolthole for city-centre shopping, sights and crashing overnight after the theatre. Prices start from £159 per night. The nearest you’ll get to that Roman vibe in the city is by staying at the Gainsborough Bath Spa, a sumptuous five-star hotel that comes complete with Roman columns; rich, indulgent feasts; and access to the thermal springs that make for a pretty luxurious bathing sesh. Prices from £242. If you’ve ever dreamed of living like a wealthy Victorian, new bolthole No.15 Great Pulteney is just for you. Inside the antique facade, you can expect camped-up parlours complete with quirky clocks and a doll’s house, while rooms all take a unique spin on modern regent style. e GWR offers tickets to Bath Spa from £20 single. For more information see gwr.com
Photograph (Thermae Bath Spa) by Bath Tourism/Colin Hawkins;
At the top of town, there’s, er, Topping Books, an eccentric but excellently curated bookshop where you’ll easily lose an hour browsing the floor-to-ceiling shelves.
Five minutes away in a corridor between Milsom Street and one of the centre’s car parks is Vintage to Vogue, a vintage clothes emporium with everything from flapper dresses to 1970s shirts. Meanwhile, for local artisan trinkets, antiques and nibbles head to Green Park Station at the bottom of town – the former railway station is bustling every weekend, and the restaurant next door hosts live jazz.
Making a Splash Following the launch of the Caribbean’s first over--the-water villas in Jamaica, Sandals has brought this ground-breaking luxury concept to St Lucia. The results are pretty special…
ome ideas are so good you wonder why no one has had them before. Case in point – until Sandals introduced them to Sandals Royal Caribbean in Jamaica late last year, no one had ever offered Indian Oceanstyle over-the-water accommodation in the Caribbean. But instead of kicking back with a rum punch and toasting their success, the Sandals team immediately set about rolling the concept out on the beautiful island of St Lucia. From May, guests will be able to check into one of nine Over the Water Honeymoon Butler Bungalows at Sandals Grande St. Lucian, with more to follow in 2017 at select Luxury Included® resorts. With a never-beforeseen connection to the Caribbean Sea, not to mention a level of luxury that cements Sandals’
FROM MAY, GUESTS CAN CHECK INTO OVER THE WATER BUNGALOWS AT SANDALS GRANDE ST. LUCIAN
position as the world’s leading all-inclusive resorts, it isn’t hard to see why the over-water suites have been an instant hit. Each over-the-water suite has its own distinctive design, inspired by the Feng Shui elements of wood, water, fire, earth and metal. Paired with the shimmering natural beauty of the ocean – visible at all times from your sundrenched deck hammock or through the glass panels in the floor of your suite – the result is a serene, stunning and indulgent setting. Of course, a teak king-sized bed, Egyptian cotton linens and your own private infinity pool don’t hurt… Each villa or bungalow is purpose built for you to get away from it all, though you’ll have a 24/7 butler – trained by the Guild of Professional Butlers – on hand to attend to your every need.
P ROMOTI ON
OVER-WATER LOVE: (clockwise from main) Your own private infinity pool; expect sea views inside and out; reach the resort by pontoon or water taxi; take a relaxing bath with the ocean just metres away
Whether you want dinner in your private sanctuary or fancy a private sunset yoga class, they’ll be able to make it happen. In fact, guests at Sandals’ over-the-water villas have access to a raft of exclusive services and amenities that take the Luxury Included® concept to an whole new level. You’ll be greeted at the airport, whisked to your resort by luxury transfer, and arrive at your room to find a welcome gift waiting. Though we’d understand if you wanted to hide away in your suite for the entirety of your break, on land (reachable by a wooden pontoon or water taxi) you’ll find all the luxury amenities you’d expect from a Sandals Luxury Included® holiday, not least a wealth of restaurants offering everything from elegant fine dining to casual shacks on the beach serving authentic Caribbean food. Alongside that, expect unlimited watersports, nightly entertainment, state-of-the-art fitness centres and unlimited scuba diving for PADI-certified divers. For an optional indulgent treat, head to the Red Lane® Spa for amazing botanical-inspired treatments that will leave you glowing. At the heart of your dream Caribbean break, though, will be your very own over-the-water suite – where natural Caribbean beauty and Sandals luxury combine like never before. ◆ For more information, or to book, go to sandals.co.uk;
call 0800 742 742; or visit in-store at 135 Fulham Road
EXPERIENCES 46 FAMILY ADVENTURES 56 OMAN ROAD TRIP 67 STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN 77 VENICE, ITALY 82 ASPEN, USA 88 ANTWERP, BELGIUM 95 YANGSHUO, CHINA 101 INSIDE COACHELLA
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GET THE HUMP: You see those mountains over there yonder? We climbed them on p95
ARE WE THERE YET? The annual getaway with the kids is full of challenges, but donâ€™t let the choice of destination be one of them: consult our guide to the best big family holidays Words by Hannah Summers
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ou can’t please everyone on a family holiday… or maybe you can. These 12 trips will cater to every type of traveller – big and small – while enabling you to see some epic parts of the world, too. Pile on in!
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Get the family together in Cornwall There are rumours that children can be tricky on planes (I know, you heard it here first). If you’ve been there, done that and never want to do it again, then it’s staycation time for you, pal. And where better than west Cornwall – specifically White Shores, a gleaming, light-filled beachside-retreat-withviews that sleeps up to 11 people, including nan, grandad, the lot. There are white sands and the village of Praa Sands to enjoy, and the Blue Chip Holidays concierge team can help you make the most of the area without the awful faff of planning. That’s whether it’s a private group surfing lesson (leave nan on the beach for that one), a trip to Cornwall’s National Seal Sanctuary, horse riding lessons, traffic-free cycling jaunts along woodland trails or a trip to the Minack Theatre, an open-air clifftop venue with performances of Goodnight Mr Tom, Treasure Island and more this year. HOW: Blue Chip Holidays offers three nights at White Shores from £1,331 – the property sleeps 11 people on a self-catering basis. bluechipholidays.co.uk As well as its beautiful beach, this village is home to what’s said to be one of the UK’s most haunted buildings, Pengersick Castle. Go on a ghost walk if you dare…
Learn to dive in Malta
Getting kids to try new things is all about throwing them in at the deep end, right? Well it certainly worked for us – or that’s what we like to think. So throw them, literally, into the deep end with a diving holiday in Malta – the island, off the coast of Italy, being the
only European country where you can do a PADI course at 13 (it’s 16 in most other destinations). There are natural harbours, bays, sheltered creeks, cliffs and wrecks to make the most of, while marine life includes grouper, barracuda and more. PADI courses can be tailored to suit all abilities, and when you’re not beneath that turquoise surface, there are plenty more activities including abseiling, rock climbing and sailing classes. And if all that sounds a bit boring, you’re in the heartland of uncrowded Medieval cities and beautiful, sun-soaked beaches. HOW: Sportif Dive offers seven nights at the Santana Hotel from £449pp including return flights. sportifdive.co.uk
Get chilled-out American beach vibes in Santa Monica The big US trips don’t have to be ditched if you have a toddler in tow, they just need
to be tweaked a little. The big Cali roadtrip might be pushing it, so for a small city that’s a boho little sister of LA, try Santa Monica in Southern California. Here it’s all about the laid-back vibes, and just enjoying the beach, so head to Pacific Park on Santa Monica Pier for sweet-coloured roller coasters, a giant Ferris wheel and sea views from every ride. For something more active, the 22-mile-long South Bay Bicycle Trail is the longest oceanfront beach path of its kind, and a great way to check out the Pacific coastline. Keep the hunger cranks at bay with simple patty and bun combos at Pier Burger – Santa Monica’s answer to Shake Shack. Sure, it’s not high on nutritional value, but this is a holiday after all. For something slightly more local, try Tacos Punta Cabras for, yeah, you know. HOW: Try Airbnb for cool beachside homes. airbnb.com; Norwegian offers fares from £179 one way. norwegian.com
Drive around Iceland in the winter
WHAT A GEYSER: [clockwise from here] Admire the natural landscape in Iceland; diving in Malta; White Shores, Cornwall
Learning is a bit of a drag when you’re 12 years old. That’s why filling children’s brains with useful info – while disguising it as a holiday – is a great idea. Of course, Discover the World’s new four-day selfdrive ice caves, glaciers and waterfalls trip isn’t one big lesson, but it does a good job of bringing to life At 148,000 cubic those dull physical metres, these lava geography classes caves are the largest (because looking at in Iceland. You can see them on a guided a real-life waterfall tour that takes in is a lot better than the rugged terrain seeing it in a text in an enjoyable and accessible way. book). You’ll spend three of the nights at Hotel Husafell, a new hotel with naturally heated geothermal hot tubs and access to trails that lead to forests, lava formations, rivers and glaciers. The new walkway experience at the Víðgelmir Lava Caves is just a 15-minute drive away, too, which is handy. The final night is spent at the Frost & Fire hotel in Hvergerdi, a small town built around a hot spring field, with access to the iconic Golden Circle. As if that’s not enough, Discover the World will kit you out with an iPad packed with details on waterfalls and a Mission: Explore gaming zone for those boring inbetweeny bits of the drive. HOW: Discover the World offers a four-night trip (from October-April) from £610pp based on a family of four with two children under 11. discover-the-world.co.uk
Photograph (Iceland) by Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson
IN SANTA MONICA IT’S ALL ABOUT LAID-BACK VIBES AND ENJOYING THE BEACH 49
Go surfing in west Portugal Children get real kicks out of being better than their parents at activities, it’s true. And that’s why all learning to surf together is a great choice for a bonding family holiday tinged with humilation, and potentially the occasional bruise. Abandon the big resorts that line Portugal’s south coast, and instead head to Peniche, 90 minutes north of Lisbon. Here you’ll find Surfers Lodge Peniche, a cool, vibrantly designed hotel with its own surf school. Included in your stay are daily 90 minute surf lessons with Goncalo Matos (and his bleached ponytail), accommodation in the family room (fight for the top bunk), plus breakfast and dinner. When surf lessons are over, there’s plenty to do nearby – including a trip to the archipelago of Berlengas Island, for snorkelling, swimming and dolphin spotting, or for the typical beach and sandcastle session, there’s Praia da Gamboa – a sheltered bay with Widely regarded calm waters. For a as one of the most touch of medieval picturesque towns history, check out in Portugal, Obidos was traditionally the maze of streets owned by the queen of Obidos and its of Portugal, which impressive castle. means it’s been well maintained. HOW: Five nights from €2,450 based on a family of four with daily surf lessons, breakfast and dinner. surferslodgepeniche.com. EasyJet offers return flights to Lisbon from £60. easyjet.com
Sleep in the mountains in Morocco
RIDE MULES TO REMOTE MOUNTAIN VILLAGES IN MOROCCO 50
spent in Marrakech, it’s a colourful, eyeopening trip that extends way beyond the traditional sun-and-sand getaway. HOW: Inntravel offers a Tales from Morocco trip from £690 per adult and £585 per child, including seven nights’ B&B accommodation, guides and some meals. inntravel.co.uk
Try new activities in Croatia Doing fun stuff on holiday adds up, and that’s why booking with an active holiday company, such as Neilson, can be the most cost-effective idea. There are beach clubs littered across Europe – each stocked with a mind-boggling choice of things to do – but the newest is the 164-room Alana Beachclub in Paklenica, Croatia. It goes far beyond snorkelling for free, too – you’ll be making the most of the landscape (mountains, turquoise water, pine forests) while waterskiing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, dinghy sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and trying out the newest activity on offer – rock climbing. And don’t worry about the kids while you’re gallivanting around – there are nine different children’s clubs for children aged between two months and seven years, meaning your 13-year-old eye roller won’t be hanging out with an eight-year-old on a treasure hunt. For the really young ‘uns, between four and
Photographs by (elephants) Givaga/Alamy; (kite surfing) Mark Bader
For a back-to-basics holiday infused with delicious food and epic landscapes, try exploring the mountains of Morocco. Inntravel’s Tales from Morocco adventure journeys into the foothills of the Atlas Mountains, spending four nights in a
family-friendly hotel on the outskirts of the village of Ouirgan. During your stay you’ll be accompanied by an English-speaking guide, riding mules to remote mountain villages, and getting the chance to meet Berber families who’ll teach you how to make bread in a clay wood-fired oven, whipping up a tagine for lunch, weaving a brightly patterned rug – or the best bit, getting to meet the animals on their farms. On other days you’ll be walking with – and riding on – mules to explore the Tassa Ouirgane National Park, and getting the chance to see what a school day is like high up in the Atlas Mountains. Combined with three nights
While it was once thought of as somewhere to go through to get to the beaches, Colombo is now a destination in its own right, with colonial architecture to explore.
23 months, there’s a ratio of one nanny to two babies, meaning you really can relax. Or at least try to… HOW: Neilson has prices from £721 for a family of four (two adults, two children) including flights, transfers, accommodation, some meals and all activities. neilson.co.uk
See beaches and wildlife in Sri Lanka
HERD IT HERE FIRST: [above] Elephants make their way down a jungle river in Sri Lanka; [below] Try your hand at a range of watersports, including kite surfing, in Sardinia
Rustic beaches, mystical ruins, exotic wildlife – a Cox and Kings tour of Sri Lanka will take in all this and more, and keep the entire family happy – in some way, at least. Starting in the capital of Colombo, the 12-night trip travels north to Marawila, staying in a house surrounded by fields of coconuts, mangoes and pineapples. Then the roof is ditched for airy tents (with camp beds) in the Wilpattu National Park – home to sloths, leopards and other wildlife you’re not likely to catch in many other parts of the country, or world. Travel on through the
SEE SRI LANKA’S BEACHES, MYSTICAL RUINS AND WILDLIFE cultural triangle before hitting the beaches of Trincomalee, which is not only a great sunbathing, swimming and snorkelling hot spot, but has recently been recognised by many oceanographers as the world’s best site for blue whale spotting.
Boatloads of family fun this summer! Our collection of award-winning holidays is designed for families who want far more than the usual summer break. Try white water rafting in Austria, mountain biking in Tuscany or snorkelling off the Galapagos Islands. We have a range of holidays to suit all ages and abilities.
Visit www.activitiesabroad.com or call 01670 785 091 to find out more
As well as elephants, expect to see all manner of creatures at Yala National Park, including the rather, er, lively sounding Sri Lankan flying snake. Keep your wits about you.
Sri Lanka is a great long-haul option for all times of year – in our winter, head to the west coast for the best beach weather, while the south is home to Yala National Park – it’s elephant heaven. If a tour is too much of an itinerary for you, it’s easy enough to wing it here. Hiring a driver is a common and economical way for families to travel (and they’ll know some great local guesthouses, too). HOW: Cox and Kings offers 12-night tours from £2,935pp including flights. coxandkings.co.uk
Watch your children play with your footballing heroes in Sardinia Fancy seeing your children playing football with the footballing heroes of your youth? Course you do. And at the Chia Laguna resort in Sardinia you can do just that. Throughout the summer and over May half term, the chilled-out resort will be holding football academies where your kids can learn essential ball skills, the rules of the game, and just have a lot of fun – under the guidance of some of the Premier League’s biggest names. So treat yourself – and book your kids in to learn the skills of the beautiful game with Andy Cole, Darren Anderton and more. Coaching sessions run for 90 minutes twice a day from Monday to Friday, and conclude with a celebratory presentation. Too cool to ask Andy Cole for a selfie? Get your kids to do the hard work instead and pretend you’re a reluctant participant. As for the setting – well, picture
BARBADOS IS A SAFE, FUN, SUN-SOAKED FAMILY DESTINATION
long sweeps of lovely beach with clear water, a range of swimming pools and restaurants, as well cool, calm interiors. You’ll win on away goals… HOW: Citalia offers a seven-night holiday to Sardinia, staying at the four-star-plus Chia Laguna Resort on a half-board basis from £2,956 per family of four. citalia.com; Chia Laguna offers football coaching from £472 per child per week. en.chialagunaresort.com
Hit the beaches (and the rum bars) in Barbados Think Barbados is a load of gorgeous beaches and lively rum shacks? You betcha it is. But the relatively short flight time (remember: there’s sunshine at the other end) makes for a safe, fun and sun-soaked family holiday that combines Caribbean cuisine, culture and fun activities. Try an island safari tour and you’ll visit the highest cliff on the island where Jim Hackleton, devastated by unrequited love, rode his horse off the edge. OK, maybe that’s not actually a story for the kids – but they will absolutely love exploring the gullies, forests and nature of the island, while rattling around in a Land Rover 4X4. All this is if you can drag yourself from your resort, which is a pretty big ask considering those watersports, cocktails and kids’ clubs at hand. Try the Tamarind for free watersports, cool kids’ club activities and one of the best beaches on the entire island.
Photograph (Barbados) by Iconotec/Alamy
ISLAND HOPPING: Use Chia Laguna Resort as a base to explore Sardinia’s beautiful coastline and go diving, too; [below] the whole fam can live the Caribbean dream in Barbados
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G N I N E P O N O S A E S ’ e d i w d l r o W k r a t Theme P at the ‘Bes
NEW 2017 Opening in June
HEAD FOR THE HILLS: [above] See the likes of Crowfoot Mountain on a road trip through the Canadian Rockies; [below] riding high at Gothenburg’s Liseberg Amusement Park
Collection Holidays offers seven nights at the Tamarind by Elegant Hotels from £4961 for a family of four. classic-collection.co.uk
Combine a city break with rollercoasters in Sweden Carting kids around a big bustling city is a bit of a nightmare – we get it. But you can satisfy that city break craving, with the family in tow, in a manageable and small city like Gothenburg in Sweden. Prep your body with caffeine and bouncy cinnamon buns at da Matteo (go for the flagship one on the corner of Magasinsgatan Square, there’s more space) before taking a tour
Take a road trip through the Canadian Rockies
While you’re in Banff, take time out at the Banff Hot Springs, where the warm, steaming waters will sooth your body and the stunning views will soothe your mind.
We loved the idea of camping as kids. But now? Shudder. Please both parties by renting an RV (one of those giant campervan mobiles) and see the spectacular sights of the Canadian Rockies on one big road trip. It’s best as a summer adventure, (although winter’s spot-on for skiing), when you’ll cruise along wide, empty roads taking in snowcapped mountains, and park up in Alberta
province’s cool towns. Try Canmore for beers and caving (caving first, mind), Banff for fun climbing sessions and the tiny town of Lake Louise for canoe jaunts on an electric-blue lake. It’s Canada’s 150th anniversary this year, so entry to the parks is free for visitors, leaving you with more cash to spend on caesars (bloody marys topped with various snacks) and, erm, petrol – travelling this way means you’ll keep on moving, seeing plenty more as you go. And if you like the sound of camping in the wilderness but don’t fancy that whole tent-pitching ‘I need a wee in the middle of the night’ part, then this is certainly the trip for you, and your family. HOW: Trailfinders offers 12-night trips from £572pp. trailfinders.com; Air Canada offers return flights to Calgary from £400. aircanada.com
Photographs by (Rockies) Witold Skrypczak/Getty; (Liseberg) Iain Masterton/Getty
RENT AN RV AND SEE THE SPECTACULAR SIGHTS OF THE ROCKIES ON A ROAD TRIP
along the river in a super-low boat that’ll glide its way beneath the city’s bridges while you learn interesting facts at the same time. Then it’s onto the good stuff: rollercoasters. The Liseberg Amusement Park – which is located close to the city centre and not an annoying drive-plus-parkand-ride away – has been luring thrillseeking crowds since the 1920s. Visit today and you’ll have your pick of rides, from Loke (a new ride which will swing you 42m up in the air), Balder (one of the biggest wooden rollercoasters in the world), and the Liseberg wheel because, well, ya know – it’s just got to be done. HOW: The city is full of great Airbnbs which are a great cost-effective option for families in traditionally expensive cities. airbnb.com; Norwegian offers flights from £29.90 one way. norwegian.com
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One For All Whether you’re looking to discover ancient history, relax by the peaceful Ionian Sea or snorkel for hours, The Westin Resort Costa Navarino in Greece is the ideal family base
or a relaxed family holiday that combines glorious beaches, thousands of years of history and warm Greek hospitality, look no further than Costa Navarino in the Peloponnese – one of the most idyllic destinations in the Mediterranean. Here you’ll find The Westin Resort Costa Navarino, a luxurious and stylish getaway set in 130 acres of unspoiled landscape. Boasting 1.5km of sandy beach, calm turquoise Ionian Sea and a selection of refreshing swimming pools, The Westin Resort Costa Navarino is a guaranteed restful holiday for all. Children will be in their element making new friends at Cocoon and SandCastle (the two children’s hubs), playing in the Aqua Park and learning new skills in the indoor sports centre. Teens, meanwhile, will have plenty of activities to keep boredom at bay, including water polo and beach volleyball, while the family can get together to try out the resort’s amazing range
of activities, including water skiing, snorkelling, golf (at two signature courses) and cycling. Meanwhile, this beautiful destination lends itself to plenty more family fun. Try hiking the sun-drenched hillsides, learn to rock climb or explore 4,500 years of rich history. Or why not discover the rich heritage of the Messinia region with a cooking class or wine-making session? The Westin Resort Costa Navarino will make the ideal base for your break. Inspired by old Messinian mansions, the spacious family suites offer private pools and interconnecting rooms. Dining is a relaxed affair, and a range of restaurants will appeal to all ages and palates – from traditional taverna-style dining to fusion food. Chill out on the beach, head to the spa or just soak up those stunning sea views: for a yearround holiday destination that’ll keep the entire family happy, this is the perfect choice. ◆
Travel details The Westin Resort Costa Navarino is easily accessible, with direct flights from the UK to Kalamata airport from April to October (for year-round travel just fly via Athens). Book by 31 March and save up to 20%. Visit westincostanavarino.com for details, or see your travel agent.
For information visit westincostanavarino.com
From camel-strewn dunes to wild swimming spots, Oman is a hotbed of jaw-dropping landscapes. Lizzie Pook took to a 4x4 to tour the country
Photograph by ###
here must be thousands of sardines in front of me. Neatly laid out in rows like soldiers, beady eyes flashing towards the gods, so their silver bodies wither and dry in the sun. I’m in the small fishing village of Taqah in subtropical Salalah, on the southwest coast of Oman. Villagers here catch and desiccate these fish to sell them to the sparse mountain communities, who share their territory with leopards, hyenas and Arabian wolves. “We feed the sardines to our family cow,” says our guide Hussain, nodding earnestly. “It makes her strong. When she eats the fish, instead of producing eight litres of milk, she produces 14.” He makes a gesture to suggest he has udders – bloated, heavy and swaying beneath him. The Sultanate of Oman – bordered by the UAE to the northwest, Saudi Arabia to the west, and Yemen to the southwest – is experiencing a huge surge in popularity right now. Not least because of its carefully nurtured tourism industry (it is accessible, safe and extremism-free), but luxury is cropping up here too – even beyond the capital, Muscat. Two Anantara hotels have recently opened: Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort near the Grand Canyon-esque Jebel Shams (which, at an As Oman’s capital eye-watering 3,000ft city, Muscat has above sea-level is the plenty going on. Middle East’s highest But don’t expect to see glitzy high-rises luxury hotel) and Al here, the buildings Baleed Resort Salalah are required to on the Arabian sea. reflect the country’s tradition. But still, most people that I mention it to don’t seem to know that much about the country (except my mum, who of course knows everything, but also whose father was stationed here on an army airbase in the seventies – sleeping under the stars and making friends with the locals). Compared to Dubai’s flashy excess and Abu Dhabi’s dazzling skyscrapers, Oman is generally better known for its gem-coloured sinkholes, Bedouin camp grounds and almost prehistoric-looking wildlife – from the long-horned oryx to the Egyptian fruit bat. Twice daily direct flights from Oman Air mean it’s only a seven-hour trip from London too. Hence why I’m here, with a well-thumbed map in hand, ready to get my fix before the crowds inevitably flood in. My route has taken me from Muscat in the very north of the country to Salalah, which is situated some 1,011kms away – gobbling up the beautiful beaches, Mars-like mountains and Mad Max deserts. To say
it has been an easy trip would be utterly misleading. Every single person out here who found out we – yes, including me, a woman – were planning to drive the length of the country dismissed us flat out. “Too far,” they’d say with the flick of a hand and phlegm-rattling sniff. Perhaps I should have taken a little more heed. While its luxury hotel game is certainly on the up, everchanging infrastructure and a painful lack of road signage mean that it’s not yet a ‘simple’ destination to travel by road. But that’s just all part of the fun, right?
OMAN IS KNOWN FOR ITS GEMCOLOURED SINKHOLES AND BEDOUIN CAMPS FIND MORE INSPIRING DESTINATIONS AT ESCAPISMMAGAZINE.COM
NEW TERRAIN: [clockwise from here] Looking out over Oman’s deserted mountains; snorkeling at Bandar Khyran; Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque; Al Baleed Resort Salalah
The mountains The very first thing we did when we arrived here was head straight for the mountains. Two hours out of Muscat airport you’ll find the Al Hajar range, home to Jebel Shams, the highest peak in the country, looming at an impressive 9,872ft. It’s perched up here that you’ll also find Anantara’s Al Jabal Al Akhdar hotel, It’s not the sights which is where I’ll from the peak that be resting my head Oman’s highest for the night. But mountain is bestknown for, but the we have to actually view into Wadi Ghul, get there first. a spectacularly deep Leaving the lights of canyon that sits alongside it. Muscat behind, we climb slowly into the mountaintops (you can’t get up these vertiginous roads in anything less than a 4x4 – and you’ll be stopped at the police checkpoint if you try anything different). In the inky blackness, the road ahead of us spirals high. A huge yellow slice of moon sits low on the horizon. Bright stars scatter the sky like pin pricks in black linen. And with the screeching of the gear box and popping of ears, we wind our way up the rocky mountain pass to the hotel, which sprawls across the lip of the canyon like ivy. We’re put up in a clifftop pool villa, which seems almost obscenely nice for two people who haven’t washed in a long time, and in the morning I wake up to a small nosebleed and one of the most powerful views I have ever witnessed – mountains thundering into the distance for as far as the eye can see, like rolling banks of fat storm clouds. We spend the morning rock climbing – huge steppe eagles wheeling overhead; hairy mountain goats bleating below – then set off to walk the three villages that sit in the valley below the hotel. They have the sum population of just one person – an
MOUNTAINS THUNDER INTO THE DISTANCE AS FAR AS THE EYE CAN SEE
LIVE A LITTLE LUXE Save up to 45% and stay Half Board Deluxe for free at Waldorf Astoria Dubai Palm Jumeirah when you book with Kenwood Travel DUBAI IN YOUR PALM Set on a private, soft-sand beach in the calming heart of Palm Jumeirah – one of Dubai’s most luxurious locations – the Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah is the perfect place to sit back, relax and let your troubles glide away. From the moment you check into one of the resort’s elegant sea-facing guest rooms, you’ll be able to kick your feet up and enjoy premium service and nextlevel luxury a stone’s throw from the hustle and bustle of the City of Gold. What’s more, whether you fancy trying your hand at paddle-boarding, wind-sailing, deep-sea fishing or just fancy indulging in one of almost 50 treatments in the luxurious Waldorf Astoria Spa, you’ll always have a personal concierge on hand to arrange excursions and make your stay absolutely unforgettable. When you get hungry, there are plenty of fine dining options, from the unique, contemporary setting of Social by Michelin-starred chef Heinz Beck, to the amazing Vietnamese food served up at LAO. Then, when you fancy sipping a cocktail or two, you can chill out and watch the sun set over the Gulf before dinner at Palm Avenue, or try an aperitif or two at the Venetian-style drinking spot, Serafina Bar. Absolute bliss. Sound good? Kenwood Travel offers seven nights’ dine around half board including flights from £899pp. To book, call 020 7749 9276 or visit kenwoodtravel.co.uk
DESERT MIRAGE: [above] Camels bathing at Wadi Darbat, Salalah; [below] a turtle at Ras al Jinz nature reserve
upbeat elderly man who simply refused to pack up and leave when everyone else left in search of better prospects. But as we pass the abandoned mosques, dilapidated houses and crumbling walls, we spot hundreds of fossils in the surrounding rocks – millenniaold fish, leaves and shells; a sign that life was here well before humans arrived.
The desert The next day, we hit the road early to make it to our next camp, slap bang in the middle of the wild interior desert. About 300km in, a camel lurches into the road in front of our car. We see it coming, lolloping towards us like a mal-co-ordinated colossus, and pile on the brakes. Thankfully it passes unscathed, free to terrorise other motorists. We spend the next two days in Desert Nights Camp, an isolated warren of beautiful tented rooms tucked into the golden sand dunes. By day, eagles cruise overhead looking for lizards. By night, owl calls echo ghoulishly through the desert. It’s from here that I also visit my first wadi – the name for any As well as owls, sort of geographical eagles and lizards, formation that can Oman is home to collect water; valleys, several protected endangered species, ravines, sinkholes including the and channels. Arabian leopard, Crimson dragonflies oryx and green turtles too. buzz about my ears
FISH NIBBLE MY CALVES AS I DIP INTO THE SUN-WARMED WADI POOL
and lizards scurry over the rocks as I pick my way towards the water. As I submerge myself in the sun-warmed pool, tiny black fish nibble at my calves. It’s a serene yet utterly exhilarating experience, and gives me a taste for the ocean. So next, we head due east, towards the coast. The recently built coastal road – some 1,000km long – winds along the edge of the country from Sur, the capital city of the Ash Sharqiyah region, to Salalah, past unspoilt beaches, craggy mountain passes and marshy lagoons festooned with huge flocks of water birds – gulls, terns and curlews that congregate in rowdy chorus-
SOMETIMES, REALITY IS BETTER THAN IMAGINATION
ON THE ROCKS: Jebel Shams, Oman’s highest mountain, is pretty remote, but also home to Anantara’s Al Jabaj Al Akhdar resort
IT QUICKLY BECOMES CLEAR THAT IT’S QUITE EASY TO GET LOST IN OMAN lines. At Ras al Jinz – the only place in the world where endangered green turtles return night after night to nest – we witness the spoils of pillage. Grabbing our torches and clambering over undulating sand dunes in the moonlight, we come upon a nest that’s been raided by foxes, headless baby turtles littering the ground like used shells.
The sea Our final day demands the most driving, as we set out to travel the full length of the country, heading inwards and southwards before peeling off to pick up the coastal road for the final few hours of our journey.
At least that’s the plan. We set off at 5am, as soft clouds paint iron oxide smears across the dawn sky, but with only a paper map for guidance (real adventurers don’t use sat-navs, right?), the roads all seem to blur into one. It quickly becomes clear that it’s quite easy to get lost in Oman. Which is exactly what we do. We get catastrophically, unreservedly lost and end up driving for three hours in the wrong direction. By the time we right ourselves and join highway 31, which barrels through the centre of the desert, it’s already pushing noon. The next several hours pass in a blur of trucks, goats, animal bones and lonely Bedouin tents. From my window I spot dumpsites, burning oil farms, car wrecks, camels squashed into the back of pick-up trucks and machine-gun-mounted military tanks. Halfway through the desert we come upon a massive monolith of a truck, which is more like a small city on wheels. Dozens of cars hover off the back of it like feeder fish behind the gills of a huge shark. We have no option but to hang idly behind it for the next couple of hours. Eventually we arrive, spent and raspy, in Salalah. From my Salalah’s landscape resplendent suite I is transformed from watch prehistoricarid and brown to looking herons lush and green from July to September, picking their way which is monsoon through the reeds, season. It’s also the and shower with busiest time to visit the region. a floor-to-ceiling
view of the sun going down over the sultry lagoon. As I look down, I see trails of sand disappearing down the plug hole. But it will take more than water to wash away the memory of the vast, sprawling deserts. Plans are in place to spend $35bn on tourism here in Oman and to double visitor numbers over the next 20 years. But there’s still something wild about the country, which is embracing modernism but preserving its ancient traditions. It’s quite special, really. Get here before everyone else figures that out too. e
NEED TO KNOW WHERE TO STAY Nightly rates at Anantara Al Jabal Al Akhdar Resort start from £369. jabal-akhdar.anantara.com; nightly rates at Al Baleed Resort Salalah by Anantara start from £264. salalah.anantara.com. Scott Dunn offers ten-night Oman itineraries from £2,600 per person based on two people sharing including all accommodation, flights and transfers. scottdunn.com
HOW TO GET THERE Oman Air offers twice daily direct flights from Heathrow to Muscat, from £400. omanair.com
With incredible art, luxurious hotels and some of the most exciting culture and history in the Arabian Peninsula, a holiday to Qatar is the perfect Middle Eastern getaway
here aren’t many places where you can experience authentic Arabian culture, highend luxury and incredible adventures all on the same trip, but it gets a little easier when you book a break to Qatar with Kenwood Travel. Steeped in authentic tradition, Qatar is one of the Middle East’s capitals of culture, playing host to everything from traditional markets like the bustling Souq Waqif on the Doha harbourside, to state-of-the-art museums and performance venues like the Museum of Islamic Art and Katara Cultural Village, where you can catch art installations, traditional live music and even more amazing events throughout the country’s busy cultural calendar. What’s more, with the recent launch of the country’s free transit visa scheme, all passengers with Qatar Airways are able to explore Qatar for up to 96 hours – making it the perfect stopover
AS SOON AS YOU ARRIVE IN DOHA, YOU’LL FIND THE PERFECT BALANCE OF MIDDLE EASTERN TRADITION AND UNIQUE LUXURY
spot for long-haul flyers looking for a luxurious and easy way to break up their journey. When you book any holiday to the Maldives, South Africa or Thailand with Kenwood Travel, you have the opportunity to add a two-night stopover in Qatar from £189 – and with direct flights from London Heathrow, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester and Dublin (from June 2017) with Qatar Airways, as well as daily flights from Heathrow to Doha with British Airways, it’s never been easier to experience the incredible culture of the Arabian Gulf. Those with a sense of adventure will also delight in Qatar, which provides a haven for golfers, thrill seekers and fans of water sports. From an afternoon’s dune bashing or sand skiing out in the desert to a day’s kayaking around the mangroves, there’s something for every traveller. Beyond the amazing adventures on offer,
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there’s also an action-packed sporting calendar that includes PGA golf, equestrian and traditional Qatari pursuits like camel racing and falconry that’ll truly enhance your break, giving you an authentic and unique taste of Middle Eastern culture and world-class sport. From the moment you set foot in the capital city of Doha, you’ll be in a place that perfectly balances Arabic tradition and up-and-coming contemporary luxury, so whether you fancy cruising on a dhow, dining under the stars in the desert or just soaking up some sun, shops and lovingly preserved heritage sites, there’s never been a better time to visit than now. ◆
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: The impressive skyline of Qatar’s capital; camel racing makes for an interesting afternoon out; browsing in Souq Waqif; Zubarah Fort; dine aboard a traditional dhow in Doha
Book five-night city breaks including flights from £799 or add Qatar as a two-night stopover to destinations including the Maldives, Thailand and South Africa from £189. For more information, call 020 7749 9276 or visit kenwoodtravel.co.uk
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Escape to an Aegean idyll on the Grecian coast
Marpunta Village Club t. +30 24240-65212 w. marpunta.com
Skiathos Princess Hotel t. +30-24270-49731 w. skiathosprincess.com
TAKING STOCK Photograph by ###
As the capital of Sweden, Stockholm is the epitome of Scandi-cool, and a lot more besides. Don’t miss out – here’s our guide to the stylish city’s top picks Words by Tom Powell
HOW TO GET THERE Norwegian flies from London Gatwick to Stockholm from Â£84 return. norwegian.com
Pull a kayak around the archipelago
Get on the metro
There aren’t many capital cities you can explore from the comfort of your own kayak, but Stockholm is one of them. Beyond dunking your paddle around the city’s 14 main islands on an urban water tour, the area’s archipelago extends into 24,000 islets – most of them uninhabited – which makes it perfect for a night’s wild camping, and a day or two of wilderness exploring. So skip that shower, head down to the harbour and pull a barrel roll in that crisp, lapping Swedish water.
Set on the idyllic little island of Skeppsholmen, you’d be forgiven for missing this rather large gem as you make a beeline for the old town charm of Gamla Stan. Walk across the footbridge and past the quirky sculptures and you’ll find a sprawling museum that’s home to pieces by Duchamp, Matisse, Rauschenberg and Baertling, as well as a gift shop that sells socks in the style of some of the collection’s most striking works (and loads of cool homewares with a super-Scandi lilt).
Just because you’re rattling through the dark, cramped tunnels of London as you read this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t spend your time away having a cheeky razz through unseen Stockholm. Loads of stations on the blue and red lines are carved caves with ancient elegance and bold paintwork – so hop on (or off) at T-centralen for blue and white vines, Stadion for rainbows, and Solna Centrum [pictured] for the red inner-circle of hell (but in a good and pretty way).
Photograph by ###
If you like strong Swedish flavours and, er, flames, Niklas Ekstedt’s fire-fuelled menu is the perfect place to chow down on age-old Nordic recipes with a smoky twist. The result of years spent poring through 18th-century cookbooks and harnessing the power of firewood, the six-course tasting menu will dazzle you with full-on flavour: we’re talking tartar of reindeer with lingonberries and charcoal butter, coldsmoked langoustine, and birch-fired duck with sunchoke and elderflower. Done.
Think Scandi nosh and your first thought probably isn’t deliciously oozy pulled pork fritters with those near-luminous pickled red onions. It probably isn’t a steaming-hot pan of razor clam-filled paella, either, but that’s exactly what you’ll get at Boqueria, a high-end tapas spot that takes its cues from Barcelona’s most famous food market. Found on a brushed-up backstreet at the eastern end of Norrmalm, it’s the perfect place to fuel up before (or after) hitting a couple of the cocktail bars nearby.
BBQ trucks, taco trucks, Lebanese trucks, deliciously drippy porchetta trucks – you’ve heard it all before, you’ve loved it all before. But beyond the stomach-pounding streetfood storm which – just like in London – is booming in Stockholm, there’s Nystekt Strömming: two relatively dour-looking fellows serving up no-frills herring burgers and huge paper plates of herring and mash from a food truck outside Slussen station (and about ten minutes along the waterfront from Fotografiska). It’s not a revolution, it’s not trendy, but it is damn tasty.
Photograph by Per-Anders Jorgensen
Need a stress free family holiday?
For full details contact Laure & Sylvain +33 6 77 54 56 00 email@example.com www.country-kids.fr
STAY SoFo Hotel
If making friends and getting a good night’s kip are top priorities for you, this easyon-the-eyes boutique hostel [pictured] has your back. You’ll sleep on a memory foam bed, chill in the laid-back bar and even play reception staff at ping pong for a free breakfast, as well as having a super-central camp for city exploring. And, just minutes from Arlanda Express station, it’s perfect for that last-minute stumble to the airport after a slap-up Swedish breakfast.
Named after the trendy neighbourhood South of Folkungagatan (SoFo), which is home to tons of thrift shops, record stores and corner cafés, this cosy underground bolthole blends contemporary Scandinavian design with functional living and a middle eastern edge. But, most importantly, it opens its doors right into the middle of one of Stockholm’s coolest shopping areas, so you’ll never have to walk too far with all of those heavy bags of clobber.
Some say Ett Hem gets its name from the significant throat-clearing you have to do to before talking about its antique opulence, others say it’s just Swedish for ‘a home’ – and they’re right. Oozing with arts and crafts design, this one-time 12-room townhouse in the leafy neighbourhood of northern Östermalm is an urban hideaway that offers next-level luxury minus the glitz. Expect quirky antiques, muted colours and amazing grub served up in the house’s old kitchen.
Six-bed dorms from £16, doubles from £69. generatorhostels.com
Double rooms from £78. sofo-hotel.com
Double rooms from £351. etthem.se
Photograph by Måns Berg Photography
Drop Coffee Roasters
The Flying Elk
Like a debauched, twisted cousin to Generator hostel next door, neon-clad, gritty Hilma [pictured] is the perfect place for steamy evening sessions and long, boozy lunches. Somewhere among the S&Mthemed livery (we’re talking caged booths and horsewhips at the bar) you’ll find aquavit and kiwi cocktails that taste weirdly healthy, as well as Swedish craft beers and an in-house tattoo parlour that’s been hauling hipsters across Norra Bantorget Square since it opened its doors last October.
Coffee and cake are a huge deal for the Swedish, so much so that they even have their own term for it – fika – which basically means chatting, chilling and drinking jugs and jugs of java (and little pastries) for much, much longer than your average morning latte pitstop. Enter Drop Coffee Roasters, which is currently ranked best roastery in Sweden, and fourth best in the world, which basically means there’s nowhere better for your fika fix than this trendy little side-street café in Södermalm.
Tons of amazing organic beers, cool pub grub and locally made artisan gin you say? In the quaint heart of Stockholm’s centremost island, Gamla Stan, you say? When elk can fly, you say. Well, apparently, they can – so head to this brushed-up boozer’s beautifully designed back bar and escape the tourist hordes, Irish bars and zombie-like cinnamon bun eaters – or just marvel at the spirit of Swedish boozemaking (and the giant filament lightbulbs that dangle elegantly from the ceiling).
All our holiday villas, apartments and hotels have been carefully hand-picked by us, weâ€™ve visited them all and stayed in many, to ensure you have an unforgettable Italian experience in some of the countryâ€™s best-loved and most beautiful locations.
essentialitaly.co.uk Âˇ +44(0)1223 460100
Photograph by Thierry Grun Photograph - Aero / by Alamy ###
HIDDEN DEPTHS On a quest to discover the real essence of the region, Laura Chubb heads away from Venice’s tourist-flooded waterways to the Venetian lagoon’s tranquil islands 77
THERE’S NEVER BEEN A BETTER TIME TO PROMOTE THE VENETIAN LAGOON’S CULINARY HERITAGE
the vineyard – using ingredients endemic to the lagoon’s unique micro-environment. The idea is to give visitors reason to come to the islands, so the young residents here – prone to leaving for the cities to make money – might have reason to stay. It’s also perhaps the antithesis of modern Venice’s overwhelmingly touristed thoroughfares, renowned for peddling lacklustre, overpriced pizza and pasta.
Culinary connection If you think conveying history through food sounds a bit grand – it’s not. Given the current fetishes for traditional artisanship and locality, there’s never been a better time to promote the Venetian lagoon’s culinary heritage; but, not only that, its classic grub and grog tell revealing stories about the area. Take the red wine cultivated on Santa Cristina island, a short distance north-east of Mazzorbo, first planted by the Armenian community that took up here after persecution by the Ottomans. Venice gave them land and traded with them because the
Photograph by (Burano) Jan Wlodarczyk / Alamy; (Mazzorto) Thierry Grun / Getty; (grapes) ages fotostock / Alamy
dyllic might not be a word many afford Venice, given the 20 million-strong rabble of tourists seething up its umpteen stairways and piling into its piazzas every year. The footfall here has become so intrusive that graffiti gruffly demanding “tourists go home” was scrawled across the ancient walls last summer. But just 7km away in the Venetian Lagoon, on little-visited Mazzorbo island, I can’t think of a better word than “idyllic” to describe things. I’m standing on the wooden footbridge that connects Mazzorbo to Burano, a larger island known for its rainbow of brightly painted fishermen’s houses. A distant shimmer in the heat haze on one side are the domes and palazzos of Venice. On the other, Torcello island’s domineering red-brick tower hints that it was once more than a sleepy locale home to nine people. The only noise is that of lagoon water lapping gently, and insect legs rubbing together in the bushes. It’s hard to believe this is actually where Venice started – that, 2,000 years ago, Mazzorbo and Torcello pulsed with the life of 15,000 people, while the 118 islands of what would become Venice slumbered with a couple of hundred. The Venetian Lagoon Today, those numbers is 212sq-m in size, making it the largest have traded places. But while Torcello wetland in the Mediterranean Sea. and Mazzorbo lie If you fancy a dip, largely forgotten just try visiting the sand a half-hour boat ride dunes of Alberoni, 40 mins from Venice. from the floating city, one family is determined to keep their legacy from disappearing. Matteo Bisol, the impeccably dressed and bronzed heir to the centuriesold Bisol wine business, tells me he and his father are using “the universal language of food to teach about the history of the area.” I meet Matteo where this mission all began, at his pretty, neatly plotted microvineyard on Mazzorbo. It’s here that Matteo and his father have quite literally resurrected a part of the lagoon’s past – a grape variety, dorona, thought lost after the devastating 1966 Venice flood, but recently rediscovered and painstakingly reintroduced by the Bisols, bringing back a uniquely Venetian wine beloved of the city’s elite of previous millennia. Crowning it Venissa, they produce just 4,000 bottles a year here, at the world’s only commercial vineyard growing dorona. Now, the Bisols are busy cultivating their own mini gastronomic utopia on Mazzorbo – via a Michelin-starred restaurant with rooms and more casual osteria, both set in
WATER WORLD: [clockwise from here] An aerial view of Mazzorbo; Burano island; dorona grapes; one of Torcello’s cathedrals
Photograph by ###
Armenians were Christians. And what about Torcello? Sure, now the island has one ‘high street’ – a gravel path – and is more field than anything. But it is also home to famed restaurant Locanda Cipriani, where Hemingway whiled away a whole season in 1948, writing Across the River and into the Trees and popping out to shoot the odd duck. The grand, rich cathedral here also points to Torcello’s past position as the area’s most populous island. (Malaria eventually pushed people out of the lagoon and towards Venice.) It’s over dinner at the Michelinstarred Venissa Ristorante that I begin to understand the project, though belonging to the Bisols, is Matteo’s baby. Instructed in the family business from the age of ten, the young Bisol now cuts a dashing figure at 28 (I could easily picture him razzing around the Venice canals in a speedboat alongside a gaggle of glamorous pals, if not Clooney himself). Last year, he introduced the restaurant’s new, more ambitious formula, where a kitchen team of four up-and-coming chefs – each assigned their own course, to be made with lagoon-specific ingredients – is refreshed every year. Having retained its Michelin star for the fourth year running in 2016, Venissa is rare for achieving this with a concept rather than a specific chef. “Everything that grows in Venice has a
unique taste,” Matteo tells me, as I hoover up a fantastical plate of musky, sweet lagoon shrimp, paired with the marinefunk of cuttlefish ink foam and a cloud of powdered beetroot. “It all has this mineral, bittersweet taste – even the salad.” He points to local herb salicornia, a salty grass. The same is true of that fabled Venetian wine. In the glass, Venissa looks like liquid gold: a result of leaving the grape skins in during maceration. Honestly, it glows. The flavour is also unlike anything I’ve encountered before; intensely mineral, almost salty, slightly sour. Its very difference is addictive. But perhaps most impressive is how everything about the place is connected to the local area. Glasses at the table are handblown on another lagoon island, Murano; the distinctive The dorona grapes gold-leaf labels on used to make Venissa bottles are Venissa is so-called hand-beaten by because of their physical characthe Famiglia Berta teristics. ‘Oro’ is Battiloro, peddling Italian for gold, and represents the fruit’s this skill since 1926, golden hue. in Venice. Matteo also employs local islanders to tend the restaurant’s herb and vegetable garden, wisely believing their sitespecific knowledge passed down through generations to be best.
DESTINATION DINING: Venissa hotel and restaurant in Mazzorbo. The family who own it hope to draw more tourists to the island
Self preservation Venissa has been open since 2011, but the Bisols are now extending their influence over the wooden footbridge to Burano, where they have just converted a handful of those colourful fishermen’s houses into guest apartments. From the outside, you wouldn’t know one from a resident’s, but inside a cool reception area leads up to modern, minimalist rooms. It’s a brilliant solution for seeing Burano outside of the 11am-4pm rush when tourist boats flood in from Venice, all intent on a selfie with those bright houses. (I ask Matteo why the primary-coloured paint. “One story goes that the women painted their homes so their fishermen husbands could recognise their house after a night out,” he laughs. “But also visibility in winter can be difficult in the lagoon; back in the day fishermen would row between Burano and Venice in heavy fog.”)
Around 2,500 people live in Burano, but out of these Matteo estimates about 100 fishermen remain. He hopes the new venture will see visitors appreciate local life here, rather than just snap their picture and go. And, from the point of view of a visitor, I can confirm Burano’s narrow canals, plentiful It’s possible to spritz opportunities book a trip with the and bright houses lagoon fishermen, are very much best where you’ll learn about the culture, enjoyed in peace. the ‘catch’, and what Back to dinner at to do with it. See Venissa. “We hope veneziaunica.it for information. our projects will bring social results to this area by keeping the islands’ traditions alive,” Matteo says, but adds the lagoon can do as much for the visitor as the visitor can do for the lagoon. “Venice is about palaces and churches, but the lagoon is about nature,” he ruminates. “In this place, time has stopped; you just really enjoy the present.” And as I sit in the dimming evening light, green vines all around me, sipping the golden wine and watching a full, orange moon appear in the very clearest of dark blue skies, I have to hand it to him. While Venice is celebrated for its history, and faces struggles in its modern incarnation, here in the lagoon, the present is as glorious as its past and – with any luck – its future. e Rooms at the Venissa wine resort on Burano cost €150-300 per night. A five-course tasting menu at Venissa Ristorante costs €130 per person. venissa.it; return flights to Venice cost from £50 with Ryanair. ryanair.com
Venice may have become a bit of an Italian Disneyland, but stray from the main drags and you’ll find that, deep down, it’s still a charmer.
EAT Osteria Anice Stellato makes up for Venice’s typically disappointing eats; the seasonal menu is ever-changing, but expect sublime renditions of classics like bigoli in salsa (chewy pasta with an anchovy and onion sauce) and cuttlefish with crispy polenta. osterianicestellato.com
DRINK Venice is full of characterful cicchetti bars, proudly serving local wine and pinxto-like morsels (cicchetti). Vino Vero is the standout – try the cloudy prosecco, and you can’t go wrong with any of their gourmet mouthfuls. The lively strip of bars by the canal here is the best place to be in Venice as the sun sets. facebook.com/vinoverovenezia
SEE Wander the Jewish Quarter for cute art galleries and cheap spritzes, all at a very un-Venetian, leisurely pace.
DO Forget the €80 gondola ride and sign up for a stand-up paddleboarding session with SUP Venice, taking in the quieter neighbourhood canals and secret corners. One-hour excursions from €35 per person. supinvenice.com
Photograph by age fotostock /Alamy
BURANO’S NARROW CANALS ARE BEST ENJOYED IN PEACE
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PATROL FREAK High up on Aspen mountain in Colorado, US, thereâ€™s a team of remarkable people dedicated to keeping the slopes safe. Ben Clatworthy meets the ski patrollers
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t all happened so quickly. One moment I’m skiing along at Mach One, and the next second I’m completely out of control and flying head first over the snow. Finally, after what feels like an eternity – and with a scarily loud wallop – I nosedive onto the icy, rock-solid piste. I’m winded, confused and seeing stars. Blood is trickling down my face, and I’m lying on the snow a completely broken man with my ego completely in tatters. Thankfully, help is quickly at hand. Following just behind me in hot pursuit is Mike Britt, one of Aspen’s top ski patrollers – a man who’s all too familiar with picking up the scattered pieces after a big smash. Along with a small group of fellow holidaymakers, I’ve joined Mike for Aspen’s Last Tracks programme, which offers avid skiers the chance of one last special descent after the lifts have closed for the evening – at a time that is usually reserved for propping up the après-ski bars. It also allows a rare glimpse of life as a ski patroller, and the chance to shadow them as they ‘sweep’ the mountain – which is one of the day’s most important tasks. The programme is a twist on First Tracks, when a small number of skiers are able to ski one run before the lifts open to everyone else. Aspen, however, is the only resort to offer punters a chance to get an extra run in at the end of the day. We’d been told to take the last chairlift to the top of the mountain, where we’d meet Mike and Aspen’s pack of about 35 ski patrollers, who are tasked with keeping the mountain safe. It’s a full-on job, and one that finishes every day with a final comb of the
‘SWEEPING’ THE MOUNTAIN IS ONE OF THE DAY’S MOST IMPORTANT TASKS 84
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RECCE RUN: [clockwise from above] First tracks on fresh powder; all ages of skiers flock to Aspen; the patrol sweep in action
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mountain, checking to make sure no skiers will be left stranded overnight. Mike is the archetypal ski patroller – burly, bronzed and sporting an impressive beard – and decked out in black and luminous-orange rescue gear. Bounding around beside him is a golden retriever avalanche dog, also wearing its official uniform (a red Not only do you have harness with a white to be a competent cross), who’s about skier to become a to be given a ride patroller, you also need to be quick down the mountain thinking, brave and on a skidoo. practical to ensure Sectors of the the wellbeing of hundreds of skiers. mountain to sweep are assigned to the patrollers, their radios crackle into life and then we’re off – Mike leading the way but stopping every few metres not only to peer into the dense forest, but also to entertain us with his tales. Mike waves his pole at an enclave of forest, pointing out the spot where he caught one particular publicity-seeking celebrity “taking, er, ‘suggestive’ selfies with her boyfriend.” The pair, he goes on to say, tried to flee the scene, but in their haste she lost control, falling and dropping her helmet, which flew down the mountain like a bowling ball. Luckily Mike and crew were able to grab it before it did any damage – and then escort them off the mountain. And when we’re not stopping to listen to Mike’s stories, we’re gliding down wide open slopes – without another soul in sight. Yes, the snow is choppy (there’s no corduroy as you’d find on first tracks), but it’s a magical time to be on the pistes, as the dusk sky turns a pinkish hue, and another bluebird day draws to a close. “If we see anyone else, it’s not going to be good news for them,” Mike says, exuding an imperturbable air. “We’re scanning the woods for coats and There’s a total of 64 colours that don’t miles of ski trails of fit in to the natural varying difficulty environment.” on Aspen Mountain, and the longest run A calm head is is three miles long. vital for anyone Lots of them have considering a career been used to host World Cup races. as a ski patroller: a few years ago on St Patrick’s Day, Mike found himself faced with a blindingly intoxicated partygoer who was sprawled out on the snow. “He’d decided to celebrate by sinking a small brewery’s worth of green beer, before hurling himself down the mountain. When I found him, he was lying barely conscious
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SUNDAY Wake up to the smell of freshly brewed coffee, and plunge in the fjord to shake off your bed head. Pack up and set off again, this time to the remote village of Undredal. Stop for an ice cream in the sun, then return to Bergen for your flight home, rejuvenated and armed with epic photos and memories. Trust us, there’ll only be one winner in the ‘what did you do over the weekend’ game on Monday morning. Fancy it? Much Better Adventures is running two- or three-night weekend packages between May and September from £370pp, including local guiding, accommodation, transfers, equipment and meals. There are plenty more weekend adventures where this came from at muchbetteradventures.com
KEEPING AN EYE OUT: [above] The patrol survey the slopes of Aspen before the crowds arrive; [right] a patroller in full kit
THE WORK THE PATROLLERS DO IS VITAL YET OFTEN THANKLESS disappeared and the dusky light makes it tricky to see bumps and ruts in the snow. And that’s when I crashed. I’d skied straight into some big divots in the snow – left by a piste grooming machine – and gone flying. Now, crouched here, my head throbbing and Mike applying butterfly stitches to my bloodied nose, I have a new-found respect for the folks whose job it is to keep us safe. I just wish I’d skied a little slower so I’d seen the bumps in the snow. That way I would have avoided the cuts, bruises and aching limbs. But boy, it could have been worse… it’s just my ego that needed recovery time. e
NEED TO KNOW Last Tracks runs on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, but is only available to guests staying at the Little Nell or Limelight Hotel and costs $25. The Limelight has B&B doubles from $300 a night. limelighthotel.com For more information see aspensnowmass.com
Photographs by (Main) Jesse Hoffman; (patroller) Scott Markewit
with an absolutely horrific leg break.” Such dramatic finds are extremely rare, although it’s not just skiers the guys have to contend with. On one dim evening, the team heard an unusual rustle in the forest; it was a grizzly bear that’d been rudely awakened from hibernation by the avalanche bombs. Hanging out with the guardian angels of the slopes offers a fascinating peek into the vital, yet often thankless, work they do. Growing up on skis, I had a love-hate relationship with ski patrollers. Yes, they were cool (a burly pack of guys and gals who could ski like gods), but on the other hand, they are the mountain police – poised to reprimand any sniff of bad behaviour. Building a jump? Over 90% of a Don’t think so. Skiing bear’s natural diet too fast? They’ll have is grasses, berries, your lift pass. fruits, nuts and plants. The rest is By now, we’re primarily insects nearing the bottom and scavenged of the mountain, and carcasses. Still, they’re best avoided. the light is fading fast. Luckily we’ve found nothing untoward on our sweep and the mountain is clear for another day. But there’s still the last pitch into town to ski, and keen to impress Mike with my prowess on two planks, I’m making huge arcing-turns on the empty slopes. But the sun has all but
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FIRST PORT OF CALL Antwerp is home to the world’s largest port, but it’s much more than docks and boats, says Christopher Beanland, who discovers a vibrant city that’s on the up
Photograph by blickwinkel/Alamy
o we travel to glimpse the world’s realities? Not always. Mostly it’s for, as the magazine you’re holding in your hands is titled, a little bit of escapism. We travel for comfort, for solace, and for excitement – but a human geography lesson? But as the huge horizon before me stretches and shifts, revealing warehouses and chimneys splatted against the orange afternoon sky as if painted by a surrealist, it is this obtuse reality that sucks me in. This is no vision of paradise: windmills turn, lorries beep, ships drift, the muddy waters of the Scheldt Estuary linger. It is a vision instead of a world we have made to give us everything we want. This is a place ruled by trade and commerce – Antwerp’s Port is the world’s largest by area. If we want electricity, petrol, stuff from Amazon, food, cars, iPhones, free magazines, this is how the system works. It is fascinating as it is terrifying and, like Zaha Hadid’s port many port cities, it House cost €55m, thrills and frightens and was designed in equal measure. to integrate modern design with Antwerp has both Antwerp’s history guts and glory, and as a pioneer global its pancake-flat trading hub and diamond centre. expanses of dock make London’s own Docklands look puny. No mean feat. This is a serious enterprise; it has been so for hundreds of years. It needs people pulling the levers, and last year they treated themselves to a new HQ. One of the last buildings that the late, great Zaha Hadid worked on, the Havenhuis looms up at me like a ship rising from the mist. As I draw closer, over dual carriageways and bridges, past DHL depots, strip malls and car windscreen repair shops, it seems more like
an axe that’s been dropped onto the port’s old fire station building that sits below it. Close up it’s almost more like a piece of flint, its angles seemingly random (they’re not, of course – they’re designed using some very complex software). To go into to Antwerp’s new toy you
need to be here during the rare tours that often sell out. Luckily I’ve scored something better, a personal whip round with architect Gert Biebauw, who worked on the building. He shows me up to the top of this strange space, from where swathes of the port can be spied as workers click away on mice,
TO-DO LIST: [clockwise from main] The Red Star Line museum; a cargo ship; Centraal Station; the town hall; Museum an der Stroom
Photographs by (Red Star Line) Walter Bibikow/Getty; (cargo ship) frans lemmens / Alamy (station) Alberto Revelli/Alamy; (town hall) Robert Harding/Alamy; (museum) Jorg Greuel/Getty
ANTWERP’S MARKET PLACE IS LINED WITH SHOWSTOPPING GOLDEN AGE ARCHITECTURE
managing the ships that come in from China, Chile and everywhere in between. The sky seems too huge for a small city as I trudge back towards Antwerp’s centre. Past the new flats and older quays of the Het Eilandje that used to brim with vessels bringing spices from the east and cloth from Britain and always a bunch of randy sailors – the red light district in the Schipperskwartier is still huge and naturally this is a town where you can really drink. The docks are changing – the number six and number seven tram lines will extend into them for the first time this spring. I pass the Red Star Line Museum on the site where many passengers made a one-way journey from Antwerp (often after crossing Europe from the east) to New York in the 1800s – a timely reminder, of course, that much of America’s modern history is predicated on immigration. Next up is the new Museum an der Stroom (MAS) which looks like a big Lego build and contains interesting exhibits on Antwerp’s hidden history, like the particularly dubious gains the city made
from trading rubber via the Belgian Congo. Over to the east of here, near the flashy Centraal Station, which is one of the railway age’s greatest setpieces, you can find the Diamond District, where huge numbers of the precious stones are cut like they have been for centuries. For something that has come to symbolise love, much toil and many tears go into their mining and production. As the docks fade away the harsher realities give way to kinder ones, the kind that prove conventionally attractive for weekend breaking. Two million people The Market Place is travelled from lined with the showAntwerp to the USA stopping Golden on board Red Star Line ships, and the Age merchants’ museum shares their houses, which line up stories, including that squarely like infantry of famous passenger ready to march. Port Albert Einstein. cities are open to the world, to its influences, to its challenges and its opportunities. Antwerp today is an international city boasting more than its fair share of independent boutiques south
GRAND DESIGNS: [above and below] Antwerp’s port has a new HQ – Port House, which was designed by Zaha Hadid
of the city centre and design studios galore. Fashion is huge here, and on Nationalestraat I pass the flagship store of Dries Van Noten, one of Antwerp’s most famous sons. In this hip neighbourhood you can find all sorts of off-kilter fun, like Plein Publiek. This greenhouse complex in the courtyard of an old apartment block hosts evenings of dining, drinking and dancing. A little further south is Antwerp’s excellent modern art museum,
Antwerp’s cute airport is tiny. But as we fly over the huge docks I see these as the asset they are. Trade has given us these goods that we crave and it’s also given us anachronistic and international cities that thrill us – like Antwerp. e Hotel O Kathedral is located in the city’s historic centre, and is crammed with Rubens-inspired artwork. Rooms start at £69. hotelokathedral.com; Cityjet, offers four daily direct flights from London City Airport to Antwerp from £50 return. cityjet.com; Find out more about visiting Antwerp at visitantwerpen.be
Photographs (both) by VIEW Pictures Ltd/Alamy
THIS IS A CHIC CITY, AND ITS CLEAN STREETS BRISTLE WITH RESTAURANTS
MHKA which has hosted recent exhibitions by American legend Robert Filliou and even on rave culture. But you are never far from the water. The River Scheldt runs hard up against the city here, just a block west of the MHKA. It’s odd because I could swear, standing on the river bank, looking across the water, that I was in King’s Lynn and this was the Great Ouse. The rivers are the same size, shape, width and colour. Also like King’s Lynn, Antwerp was a Hanseatic League city – a kind of prototype of the EU in the middle ages which linked many European port cities. But unlike many ports, which can feel shabby and past their best, Antwerp has a sheen. This is a chic city – even its docks are patently well run. Its clean streets bristle with bars and restaurants. I eat local specialities like hare from the polders with brussels sprouts at Appelmans, where the walls are bare brick, and moules with linguine from Fiskebar. And of course some classic Belgian frites Two things that and a Cristal beer are said to have origiat Roest, looking nated in Antwerp: through their glass newspapers (the world’s first printed floor at the remains one was published of dock warehouses in the city 400 years from centuries ago. ago), and gin (derived from ‘jenever’). Unlike its port,
GULF IN CLASS
The effortlessly classy five-star Grosvenor House Dubai oozes next-level luxury, and one lucky pair of readers will be flying to Dubai to discover it for themselves
f you’re looking for a sun-soaked city break with an added touch of luxury, look no further than a stay at the iconic, fivestar Grosvenor House Dubai. Set across two exquisitely designed 45-storey towers in the brushed-up heart of Dubai Marina, the hotel is the perfect place to soak up the sights of the city, while relaxing in the unparalleled comfort of one of 750 spacious butlered rooms, suites and apartments. Sound good? Lucky you – we’ve teamed up with Grosvenor House Dubai to offer you and a friend an unbelievable four-
SOAK UP THE SIGHTS OF DUBAI IN TOTAL LUXURY
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NATURAL HIGHS Yangshuo in southern China is renowned for dramatic mountain ranges and high-octane activities. Itâ€™s also good for a cocktail or two, finds Cathy Adams 95
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n China, you’ll usually wake up to a misty morning. This particular morning, the mist is just that. Not a grey, polluted haze that washes the sky a faded blue, but a crisp, wet fog hanging low over the forest green hills studded all around. Sorry. It’s 7am, and I need a coffee before I start proselytising about the beauty of these ancient Chinese landscapes. Yangshuo, in China’s Guangxi province, does that to you. It lines a shallow section of the Lijiang River, surrounded by dramatic karst peaks, watery rice paddies and that wide, blue sky. Look beyond and you’ll see uneven, mossy green hills. Two close together look like a pair of breasts. Sorry, sorry – I’m getting that coffee now, honestly. I’m not here to tell you about how epic the landscape is (although it is pretty epic:
YANGSHUO MAKES YOU REALISE CHINA ISN’T ALL SHIMMERING HIGH-RISES
the kind of place that makes you realise China isn’t all manufacturing towns, shimmering high-rises and pandas). Instead, I’m going to tell you why the only thing you need to do in this pretty town in southern China is to get your heart rate going. Beginning with rock climbing. Let’s start at the top, which for me is ten metres up the limestone face of a karst. In Yangshuo – the rock-climbing capital of Asia, as everybody tells me incessantly – these hills are It’s possible to climb called all kinds of in Yangshuo all strange names. The year round, but late one I’m currently September through to November is recslithering up is called ommended thanks to The Egg (thanks to warm weather and its conical shape), relatively low levels of rainfall. which is a baby hill
VIEW FROM THE TOP: [clockwise from here] The Lijiang River meanders through Guilin; climbing a limestone karst peak; Yangshuo
for beginners. There’s also Moon Hill, with a large hole in the middle of it (great for abseiling down), Baby Frog and Wine Bottle Cliff, which I’m beginning to hope is the Ronseal of karsts and actually serves the stuff. My arms ache. Aniu from Yangshuo-based Blackrock Climbing, gallantly holding the rope for me below, has no such complaints. The North Face-sponsored climber scales the wall easily, hooking his hands and feet expertly onto grooves that are just a few centimetres wide to hook the carabiners into the wall so that I can then cling lifelessly to them a few minutes later. (Although the first rule of rock climbing is actually not to cling to the carabiners. It’s fair to say it’s not going particularly well.) I might be a long way from the top of The Egg (it’s around 60m tall) but just ten metres up the view over the Situated around green mountainous 40 miles north of landscape is Yangshou, Guilin blockbuster. is a popular tourist destination thanks Guangxi’s economy to its scenery. Travel is predominantly between the two agrarian, and it’s places on a laid-back river cruise. crops – mainly rice, maize and sweet potatoes – rather than people that spread out into the near distance. Aniu is from Duyang, a Guangxi town close to the Vietnamese border, and has been climbing here for the past eight years. Now he takes wannabe climbers out for half-day trips – although I only manage a couple of hours before whining that my fingers feel numb (beginners, eh?).
I MAY BE A LONG WAY FROM THE MOUNTAIN TOP, BUT THE VIEW IS BLOCKBUSTER Soon we’re back down on terra firma, where the great Lijiang River (the Li for short) bisects the town. It’s short by Chinese standards: it runs just 83km, from Guilin in the north to Yangshuo in the south before merging with the Lipu and Gongcheng rivers. It’s the focal point for Yangshuo tourism. Kayakers, bamboo rafts and bigger air-conditioned cruises putter up and down the water, cruising past the karsts at a slightly faster pace than I struggled up The Egg at. After exhausting energy climbing and pulling my limbs out of their sockets, laying back on a bamboo raft moving just a few miles an hour is ideal. And in the
Photographs by (Guilin) Istvan Kadar Photography/Getty; (climbing) Aurora Photos/Alamy; (yangshuo) Adrien Chanut
RESIDENTS IN FULI VILLAGE, YANGSHUO, STILL FOLLOW A VERY TRADITIONAL WAY OF LIFE SCALING NEW HEIGHTS: [clockwise from here] Climbing Moon Hill; the region’s famous painted fans; the Lijiang River; karst landscape
Photographs by (Moon Hill) Cultura Creatiwve (RF)/Alamy; (fan) redchopsticks’Gety; (Lijiang River) HAIBO BI/Getty (karsts- robertharding/Alamy’ (pagoda) Paul Strawson/Alamy
summertime, the Li river is also the perfect place for a secret swim: just pitch up at a slow-moving section and dive in. What do you mean you just cruised down it? After the high-octane stuff, you’ll be wanting low-octane, too: and the place for that is the recently opened Banyan Tree in Fuli Village, a few kilometres out of Yangshuo proper. The village has the unusual honour of being the hometown of painted paper fans (I know), and residents here still follow a very traditional way of life, working in the rice paddies that spread out behind their houses. It’s on the outskirts of Fuli where the upmarket Banyan Tree retreat is sunken into the natural skyline, following the curve of the river. The estate, complete with pagoda and ponds, is A visit to Fuli is home to a collection recommended – the of low-slung villas, town is full of old painstakingly decked houses providing an insight into a tradiout in Chinese tional way of life. architecture – think They also keep their traditional winged NYE decorations up all year round. slate roofs, low ceilings and lots of dark wood. This place is vast. It’s built with the Yangshuo sunset in mind, which starts around 5.30pm and rinses the sky from blue, to pink, to a deep purple that eventually dips behind the karsts an hour later. Banyan Tree’s rooftop bar just off the lobby is handily located for a grainy snap of sunset, where buy-one-get-one-free cocktails are handily timed. A couple of cocktails later I’m less sure the peaks are breasts. They
sort of look a bit more like cat ears. The next morning it’s cycling. Turns out that two wheels are big business in Yangshuo. Locals have half-heartedly tried to insist on some official trails, but really, getting lost in the rice paddies is how to do it. The greenery’s the thing, after all. Fuelled by a jug of margarita unadvisedly drunk at a climbers’ bar on over-populated West Street in Yangshuo town after watching the light show – spotlights shone at the karsts from the river, the ultimate gimmick but absolutely worth seeing – we wheel bikes from Banyan Tree out into Fuli. The wheels are as thick as my ankles. Cycling around the village – unless you want to rear-end a tourist buying one of those painted fans, or rear-end your own forehead bumping over uneven alleyway stones – isn’t really the best place to start, particularly if you’re still running on happy hour cocktails. No, Banyan Tree suggests crossing the Li river on one of its bamboo rafts and continuing up a mountain path to nearby Page Boy Hill (visions of a limestone Little Lord Fauntleroy come to mind). But
we’re hungover and obviously know better, so instead take a right out of the Banyan Tree and keep cycling. Two-wheeled disobedience is no bad thing. Some lazy peddling through a series of small hamlets brings us out on an open road that takes us past watery rice paddies with the karsts looming all around. Every time I stop to take a picture, there’s an even better angle up ahead. This game of cat and mouse goes on for about 20 Southern China’s minutes, at which dramatic and point I decide to distinctive karst stop Instagramming landscape is characterised by and actually start craggy caves, large looking. Such is sinkholes, underthe joy of being ground rivers, and natural bridges. hungover, indecisive, on a bike, around these beautiful hills. Sorry again. I need some water and another coffee. At sunset, it’s time for that other wellknown activity – lifting a glass of wine to my mouth repeatedly, with a familiar view to accompany it. Locals call it Mao’er shan. You’ll know it as Cat Ear Mountain. e
NEED TO KNOW Blackrock Climbing take climbers out for half-day sessions, which cost 320RMB per person (£34), plus a taxi ride from your hotel. blackrockclimbing.net; a garden view villa at the Banyan Tree in Yangshuo starts from 3,192CNY (£345). Bamboo rafts and bikes can be hired during your stay. banyantree.com
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CALIFORNIA DREAMING A-listers, beauty salons, VIP parties, yoga… There’s plenty going on at Coachella festival in Palm Springs, but there’s one crucial thing missing, says Nick Boulos
Photograph Photograph by Getty Images by ###
n a land already well known for its super-sized portions, the cocktail being shaken and stirred before me brought new meaning to the phrase: ‘make mine a large’. It was certainly a first for me. I’d never seen someone filling an inflatable paddling pool with margarita before. Welcome to Coachella, the legendary American music festival that takes place in a sun-baked polo estate just outside Palm Springs every April. There are plenty of It attracts some of reasons to visit Palm the biggest names in Springs that don’t music (Lady Gaga include its music festivals, and it’s and Radiohead are worth tagging on headlining this year), some extra days to with identical linesee its mid-century modern architecture. ups spread across
COACHELLA IS HOT AND HEDONISTIC, SLICK AND SHINY, GLAM AND GLOSSY
two consecutive weekends and is, in many ways, America’s answer to Glastonbury. Minus the mud. For here, in this part of sunny southern California, there’s not a wellie or poncho to be seen. So instead of being damp and dirty, Coachella is hot and hedonistic, slick and shiny, glamorous and glossy, and arguably much more well-known for its fashion than it is for its music. Walking between the stages and giant art installations, it felt as though almost every feather-clad reveller had just stepped out of a beauty salon. And as it turned out, some actually had. Tucked away deep within Coachella’s most exclusive enclave – the VIP Safari campsite – was the Beauty Bus, where a team of professional hairstylists and make-
up artists were poised to transform the select few. Think glitter, braids, feathers and sparkles. And that’s just the boys. The Beauty Bus is but one of the perks afforded to those who splash out to do Coachella in serious style. Life within the confines of the private Safari enclosure is not your average festival experience. Several dozen spacious Shakir-style tents sat sprinkled in neat rows across a lush lawn, well away from the hoi polloi and the rest of the festival’s on-site camping areas. Ushered into my tent, located just a short walk away from the private toilets and plush showers, I ventured through the flappy canvas entrance Temperatures in and into an airPalm Springs have conditioned and fully been known to reach furnished haven with 44°C in April, and average at 30°C, so two double beds, a while paying extra fridge and a snazzy for air-con may seem zebra-print rug. extravagant, you’ll appreciate it… Glamping certainly
THERE ARE DAILY YOGA SESSIONS AND MASSAGES doesn’t get much glammer than this. Elsewhere, there are daily yoga sessions, holistic massages and games on the lawn. But such luxury doesn’t come cheap. The cost for a Safari tent and all its bells and whistles? That’s $7,500 (£6,035). Arguably its most attractive quality (beyond the beds and air-conditioning) is the exclusive backstage access that
BEYOND COACHELLA: WHERE TO EXPLORE IN PALM SPRINGS
SWAYING PALMS: [clockwise from here] Coachella; thousands of festival-goers at the main stage; fans wait for Sia in 2016
Photographs by (main) Marc Sethi; (main stage) Mark Davis/Getty; (front row) Kevin Winter/Getty
The retro city of Palm Springs is the gateway to Coachella and well worth at least a day or two of exploration. Tour boulevards lined with striking mid-century architecture and head straight to the House of Tomorrow, the innovative 1957 estate where Elvis once honeymooned. There’s also the Palm Springs Architecture and Design Centre, where you can learn more about the area’s buildings. Even more tempting is Joshua Tree National Park, a slice of protected wilderness roughly the size of Rhode Island that encompasses two desert ecosystems. The star of the show is, of course, the spiky-leafed Joshua tree. “It was thought that they were named after Joshua from the Bible,” explained local guide George. Explore Black Rock Canyon and wander among the emblematic Joshua trees that together form a formidable forest. From there, gain some elevation and take in the panoramas from Key Views, which overlooks the Coachella Valley and the peaks of San Gorgonio and San Jacinto. On a clear day it’s possible to see all the way to Mexico, which is only 90 miles away.
ACCESS ALL AREAS: [clockwise from here] Tokimonsta perform; rainbow illuminations; #festivalselfie; Band of Horses in 2013
Safari guests are also afforded. A convoy of golf buggies shuttles you between the five stages via the dressing rooms. And you never know who you might bump into given that Coachella is very much A-list territory. The Australian girl staying in the tent next to mine spied Taylor Swift on a passing buggy. My own personal celeb spot was rather less exciting: the sight of rocker (and Pamela Anderson’s ex) Tommy Lee emerging from the tent opposite,
GOLF BUGGIES SHUTTLE YOU BETWEEN THE FESTIVAL’S FIVE STAGES VIA THE DRESSING ROOMS 104
yawning in the sunlight before, presumably, heading straight over to the margarita-filled paddling pool for a spot of breakfast. Despite the fanfare, the glamour, the fashion, the sunshine, the acclaim, the A-listers… Coachella has its flaws. Deep within the VIP bar – another perk of camping in Safari – I made the most of the short queues, feasting on a Japaneseinspired hot dog (a ‘sumo dog’, if you please, laden with nose-tingling wasabi relish) beside a member of One Direction (Louis, I was reliably informed). The foam on my beer had barely stirred when it was time to head to the main stage to go and watch Sia. But there were to be no ‘cheap thrills’ for me. Upon leaving I was stopped by a surly steward and informed alcohol was not permitted outside the bar areas. Fancy a pint while raving to your
favourite DJ? Not at Coachella, I’m afraid. But it hasn’t always been this way. Coachella’s beginnings were humble and free-spirited. It was founded by music promoter Paul Tollett in 1999 as an alternative to other similar events that imposed high booking fees onto tickets. In its first few years, before attention skyrocketed, festivalgoers would book into local hotels The first ever until camping was Coachella was eventually introduced headlined by Beck, to meet demand. the Chemical Brothers and These days, Rage Against the camping comes in Machine. Tickets all shapes and sizes. cost just $50 for each day. Back within the five-star confines of Safari the following day, most had gathered inside the communal living tent, adorned with palm trees basked in midnight blue lights. They nursed hangovers and busied themselves with food, more drinks, games and, later, live DJ sets. I, however, headed back to the main festival site, just a few minutes away. Waiting for my golf buggy pickup, I browsed the telling treats placed strategically at the concierge desk, everything from mints and energy bars to condoms and Alka Seltzer. I spent the day riding the giant Ferris wheel and taking stock of the larger-thanlife installations scattered around the site. My personal favourite, by artist Robert Base, was a chain link of yellow balloons each with smiley faces that swayed high in the breeze. But mostly I spent the day rotating between the half dozen stages, dancing to electro DJs and raving to rock, and all under a flawless Californian sky. If only I could’ve had a beer… e
Photograph by ###
Virgin Holidays offers seven nights in Palm Springs from ÂŁ886 per person. Price includes return flights from London Heathrow to Los Angeles, car hire and accommodation in Palm Springs. virginholidays.com Safari tents at Coachella cost ÂŁ6,305 for two. The price includes tickets to the festival. For more information, see valleymusictravel.com
HIT THE HIGH SEAS
Here’s your chance to win a luxurious Mediterranean cruise for two, thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line
orwegian Cruise Line’s cruises are proving so popular that they have won the coveted title of Europe’s Leading Cruise Line in the World Travel Awards for nine consecutive years. Norwegian knows the biggest surprises are often closest to home, and this summer they’re opening up a whole new perspective on Europe by sailing five ships with brandnew itineraries there for the first time. To celebrate, we’re offering one lucky reader and a friend the opportunity to discover the world on their doorstep and win an unforgettable cruise exploring the marvellous Mediterranean. If you win, you’ll discover the wonders of the Western Mediterranean on a seven-night fly-cruise aboard the luxurious Norwegian Epic, courtesy of Norwegian Cruise Line. Before setting sail from Barcelona, you’ll be able to lose yourself strolling down the
NORWEGIAN’S CRUISES ARE A BLEND OF INNOVATION, EXCITEMENT AND FUN 106
medieval streets of the Barri Gòtic, before delighting your senses visiting the city’s otherworldly Modernista churches like Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, or treating yourself to patatas bravas and passion fruit Mojitos at a cool streetside café. After a day at sea enjoying the onboard facilities the Norwegian Epic has to offer, such as its onboard bowling alley, you’ll arrive in Naples, a city rich in history located on Italy’s stunning Amalfi coast. A tour around the city’s grand piazzas, cathedrals and castles in the old centre will take you back centuries. The next stop is Rome, where endless adventures also await. One of the most visited cities on the planet, there you can gaze at the masterpieces of the Vatican or walk into the past with visits to ancient relics, historic monuments and museums. Then, if Italy hasn’t already spoilt you enough, you’ll be sailing to Tuscany to see Florence and Pisa, two beatufiul cities that are both resplendent in art and history. Your penultimate port of call will be Cannes, where you’ll take a drive up Suquet Hill for a view of the city, sea and Lerins Island, before seeing how many rich and famous people you can spot on the palmlined Promenade de la Croisette while enjoying the warm sunshine. Finally, the Majorcan city of Palma, which was founded by the Romans some 2,100 years ago, is replete with wall-to-wall history and architectural splendour. You can journey back in time and wander the mazes of alleyways and cobblestone paths that surround the Gothic cathedral. The centre, meanwhile, is bustling with life, showcasing the island’s best restaurants, shops and bars. One of Norwegian’s newest ships, the Norwegian Epic has revolutionised
CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Norwegian Epic; stunning views from Parc Güell, Barcelona; Florence is a jewel in the heart of Tuscany
HOW TO WIN Fancy seeing the sights of the Mediterranean while kicking back in the unparalleled comfort of one of the most incredible cruise ships in Europe? You’re in luck – for full terms and conditions and your chance to win an amazing seven-night fly-cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line, all you need to do is head to escmag.co/ norwegiancruiseline
contemporary cruising, bringing a unique blend of innovation, excitement, fun and freedom, as well as imaginative new dining concepts across 23 dining options. The luxurious liner is also home to the first genuine ice bar at sea and brings a whole new take on stateroom design. As the first ship in their fleet to receive The Norwegian Edge® refurbishment, she now feels as new and fresh as ever. Enjoy the thrilling Aqua Park, two-level sports complex, luxurious Mandara Spa® and high-octane entertainment, or rock the night away at the Cavern Club and catch the Broadway blockbuster, Priscilla Queen of the Desert – The Musical. Serving a wide variety of culinary delights to please every palate, the complimentary dining options include two main dining rooms, a help-yourself
buffet and a variety of casual cafés, grills and on-the-go choices. Plus, the Main Dining Rooms offer a menu that changes daily, Chef’s Signature Dishes, and carefully selected wine recommendations, guaranteeing a different culinary adventure with every visit. So what are you waiting for? Enjoy a combination of amazing onboard entertainment, dine how and when you want, and experience unforgettable days of onshore exploration – you’re sure to have an incredible time. ◆ For a full itinerary, and more information about Norwegian Cruise Line’s cruise programme, call 0333 241 2319 or visit ncl.co.uk
SHOCK AND GORE THE NORTH FACE, TERRA MID GORE-TEX®, (DARK GREY) £135: Rugged, hard-wearing and built to last, these grippy GORE-TEX® crag-hoppers from Californian outdoor legends The North Face are the perfect partner for guys who like to hammer it hard on any terrain – including the soggy streets of London. blacks.co.uk
1 THE NORTH FACE 2 CARRY-ONS 3 HEADPHONES 4 HIKING BOOTS Photograph by David Harrison
IN ASSOCIATION WTH
The state-of-the-art waterproof protection in these boots will keep your feet dry while allowing them to breathe, which is great news for whomever’s sharing your tent.
Photograph by ###
CARRY-ON CRUISING When it comes to picking a cabin-size case thatâ€™ll carry you through a whistle-stop weekend break there are bags and bags of options out there. Luckily for you, these four road-ready rollers pack all the punch you could ever need.
Photograph by ###
The easy-access external zipper pocket on the top of this case means you can grab all your essentials from the overhead locker without causing a scene in the aisle.
Made for creatives on the move, this case comes complete with a bespoke front pocket for your Moleskine notebook and pen, meaning you’ll never forget a great idea again.
Photograph by David Harrison
THE NORTH FACE, ROLLING THUNDER, (BLACK/RED) £210: With a patented side-release luggage handle, meshed interior pockets and perforated back-panel, this rugged, nylon roller is built for lightweight durability. thenorthface.com
BRIGGS & RILEY, INTERNATIONAL CARRY-ON, (RUBY) £399: More than just a super-tough polycarbonate case, this has a lockable front compartment for easy access to tablets and other essentials. briggs-riley.com
EASTPAK, TRANVERZ S, (COMBO BLUE) £100: This soft-shell nylon stormer balances classic American style with the added function of packing down flat when you get back home after a long weekend away. eastpak.com
BRIC’S MOLESKINE, SOFT TROLLEY, (BLACK) £299: A cool collaboration between Italian journal-makers Moleskine and luxury luggage legends BRIC’s, this carry-on will store your suit, making business a breeze. brics.it
BACK WITH A BANG BANG & OLUFSEN, BEOPLAY H4, (CHARCOAL GREY) £249: Stripped-back, minimal and effortlessly cool, these bassy bronze boomers from the Danish audio legends are sure to make your favourite tunes sound clear as crystal. bang-olufsen.com
Photograph by David Harrison
It’s the leather, aluminium and stainless steel build that makes these wireless over-ear headphones so sexy, but 19-hour battery life means they’ve got function, too.
HIKE CONTRAST Whether you’re a weekend rambler or bigmountain scrambler, what’s certain is that a little extra support goes a very long way – and these super-grippy, waterproof numbers will work wonders for women who love to walk.
Keen’s boots come packed with a special foamy insole called zorb strobel, which adds a little extra spring to every step, and keeps your feet protected from the roughest terrain.
BERGHAUS, EXPEDITOR AQ RIDGE, (BLACK/BLUE) £110: With carefully crafted OPTI-STUD outsoles, waterproof lining and a leather upper, these boots will carry you through field and fell. blacks.co.uk
Photograph by ###
HI-TEC, PATHFINDER, (GREY/BLUE) £100: When a pair of boots are built with Michelin technology, you can be sure of three things: supreme grip, great durability and an incredibly comfy ride. blacks.co.uk
Created exclsuively for outdoors specialists Blacks, the Pathfinder boots mix clever technical features and smart design with great looks. They’re waterproof, too.
Photograph by David Harrison
KEEN, GYPSUM II, (CORNSTOCK/ GOLD CORAL) £115: Waterproof nubuck leather and a dry interior membrane makes these stompers perfect for everything from dog walking to mountain storming. blacks.co.uk
SCARPA, BORA GORE-TEX®, (NAVY) £110: Lightweight and low volume, these trail smashers are lined with a cooling, watertight membrane which’ll let you rule the British weather, no matter what it throws at you. blacks.co.uk
This watch isn’t just packed with enough internal storage for up to 200 hours of activity, it’ll also give you pep-talking smart notifications and share your stats to social media.
GARMIN, FORERUNNER 230, (BLACK) £220: With built-in GPS tracking and an intelligent accelerometer, this sleek timepiece will work out whether you’re on the treadmill or trail, and adjust its data-recording appropriately. Smart. blacks.co.uk
Photograph by David Harrison
WATCH YOUR STEP
TESTED TOUGH IN PORTLAND, OREGON, USA. WHERE WE MEASURE RAINFALL IN FEET.
INTRODUCING THE PEAKFREAK XCRSN II This multi-trail brute is built with a one piece, sealed OutDry upper that creates a seamless, breathable barrier so sweat can escape, but water and moisture canâ€™t get in. Be ready when Nature shows her nasty side. Visit Columbia.com
Available at blacks.co.uk
THE SE RIE S
elcome to the second installment of the Intrepid Series – our high-octane, hardcore and sometimes a little bit terrifying adventure stories, for when lying on a beach in the Med just wont cut it. This issue, Dominic Bliss heads to the Alps to learn the essential skills needed to survive on a mountain, because you never know when you’re going to be struck by dehydration, starvation and hypothermia. If you’re not heading up a mountain any time soon, these skills may also come in handy after a heavy night down the local pub. e
SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST Photography by Jono Carmichael
Photograph by ###
Starvation, hypothermia and dehydration: just a few of the ways you can perish up a mountain. Determined to beat the elements, Dominic Bliss enlists the help of survival expert Stéphane Viron to learn how it’s done
Photograph by ###
three, strap on snow shoes and start hiking uphill – each group sent on a different route but to the same rendezvous point – through the thick fir forests above La Clusaz. Our only guidance is a compass and a very smallscale map printed out on laminated paper. Half an hour later, after a few accidental deviations, we reach the rendezvous. First test completed successfully. Stéphane now wastes no time in teaching us the practical skills we’d need should we find ourselves lost in the mountains for real. It’s time to learn how Guide Stéphane to make a fire. Viron has more than But there are to 30 years’ survival experience, garnered in be no matches and terrain ranging from no paper. All we are dense rainforests to allowed is a fire steel soaring mountains, (a magnesium flint so you’ll be in safe hands. on which you strike
OUR ONLY GUIDANCE AS WE SET OFF UP THE MOUNTAIN IS A COMPASS AND A VERY SMALL-SCALE LAMINATED MAP
Photographs by Jono Carmichael
ccording to survival expert Stéphane Viron, when you’re lost in the wilderness, death stalks you in fours: clamber along the edge of a cliff and one slip will see you dead in four seconds. Fail to keep warm and you’ll perish of hypothermia in about four hours. Without water you might expire after four days. No food and you’re pretty much a goner within four weeks. It’s with these grim warnings that Stéphane introduces us to his crash course in alpine survival. Gathered in the basement of a restaurant in the French ski resort of La Clusaz, there are ten of us in attendance – travel agents, journalists and a filmmaker – and we are all determined to survive our day on the snowy mountain. After a spot of theory in our makeshift classroom, we break into groups of two and
tasks: using a stick in the snow as a makeshift compass; building night shelters, first with just a tarpaulin and broken branches, then a snow shelter; transporting an injured colleague using a stretcher made of four rucksacks. I think I might just have extended my survival period to four days. Stéphane imparts some useful tips. Apparently that old adage about moss growing on the north side of a tree trunk is complete codswallop. Much better to look for an ants’ nest – almost always on the south side of a tree so as to maximise sunlight. (Unfortunately with a metre of snow on the ground, the local ants are currently keeping their heads down.) He also teaches us how to assess the potential toxicity of berries: first rub them on your hand. If that doesn’t sting then rub them on your lips. If that still doesn’t sting then taste them. If you don’t choke on poison then you might just risk swallowing them. But no While some Alpine guarantee. plants may look On my itinerary, familiar (you might Stéphane had clearly see things like strawberries and written that we thyme), unless you’re were to learn about with an expert, it’s best to play safe and trapping animals. just avoid them. I’m no bloodthirsty caveman but I’ll admit I’ve been harbouring some atavistic desire to hunt my own lunch. Perhaps I might snare a mountain hare. Or bag a marmot. Even just a little squirrel would do. But no. It turns out we’re within the boundaries of a French national park which means hunting game is prohibited. All
APPARENTLY THAT OLD ADAGE ABOUT MOSS GROWING ON THE NORTH SIDE OF A TREE IS CODSWALLOP Stéphane can do is describe a few methods for trapping prey while proffering ham sandwiches around. I’m bitterly disappointed. Might we extend our survival period to four weeks? That’s being a tad optimistic. On a one-day course there’s inevitably a great deal of bushcraft that must fall by the wayside. This is only a taster, after all. Stéphane normally runs courses for two or three days. His five-day course teaches you to actually live off the land. Hunting game is still prohibited but he’ll happily teach you how to rustle up a mouth-watering meal of berries, grasshoppers and earthworms. To give his tuition extra kudos, Stéphane recently signed up as part of the Bear Grylls Survival Academy franchise. Personally, I don’t think he needed to. I’m not convinced Bear Grylls is as grizzled as he likes to
sparks with a piece of steel), some cotton wool, and any wooden fuel we can gather from the forest around us. There’s thick snow on the ground but fortunately plenty of small dead branches poking out from the lower levels of the fir tree trunks. Before long my partner and I have snapped off an impressive collection of dead wood. Can we get a fire going, though? Can we bollocks. After 30 arduous minutes of sparking the fire steel, cajoling the twigs, puffing like my life depends on it (which of course it would if this were a real survival situation), and cursing, I throw in the towel. Try as I might, the most I can produce is a puff of smoke and a few smouldering twigs. Pathetic. If I were really lost on the mountain, presumably I’d have four hours before hypothermia set in. We fare much better on the next few
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Photograph by Jono Carmichael
make out that he is. There’s obviously no doubt that he’s an engaging TV personality but when it comes to surviving in the wilderness, does he really cut the mustard? A close friend of mine was in the SAS, and his blood boils whenever people talk about how tough Bear Grylls is. I can’t repeat in print the words he spat when he discovered that, during the filming of the TV series Born Survivor, the presenter sloped off to spend the night in a hotel. You’d never find Stéphane eschewing the great outdoors for fluffy towels and hotel shampoo. His weather-beaten face and grizzled countenance are proof of this. A chat with him Obviously, shorts suggests he can walk aren’t the optimum the walk as well as attire for hiking in talk the talk. the snowy alps, and you’ll need to kit Now firmly yourself out properly middle-aged, he for the trip. Turn to page 109 for our pick has certainly been of hiking gear. in a couple of
PEOPLE THINK YOU CAN ONLY GET HYPOTHERMIA IN WINTER. NOT TRUE pretty hairy situations during his life as an adventurer. Years ago, while hiking the GR20, the 180-km footpath that snakes the length of Corsica, north to south over the Mediterranean island’s mountainous backbone, he almost died of hypothermia. “People usually think you get hypothermia in the mountains in winter. But this was mid-August in Corsica,” he explains. “I was hiking in shorts and a
SURVIVAL EQUIPMENT ESSENTIALS Yes, you need warm clothing and an indomitable spirit to survive in the Alps in winter. But here are some other essentials: 1 Snow shovel: You can use it to dig yourself a snow shelter, cover up yellow snow, or extricate colleagues after an avalanche. 2 Snow shoes: Attached to your boots, these spread your weight so that you can walk across deep snow without sinking into it. 3 Fire steel: By scraping the steel striker across the magnesium flint you create sparks to start a fire. 4 Knife: Essential tool and weapon.
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“Everything I heard about Samarkand is true, except that it’s more beautiful than I ever imagined.” Alexander the Great, 329 BC
This handy tool is more than just a knife – the back can be used as a hammer, and it also features an emergency whistle and a fire starter.
Photograph by Jono Carmichael
T-shirt. We were up on the high mountain ridges and suddenly we got caught in mist; then fog; then rain. We were soaked, shivering in the wind. In a matter of minutes we were dangerously cold. It was a nightmare.” Luckily Stéphane and his hiking partner heard the distant braying of a donkey which led them through the thick fog to the safety of a mountain refuge. “The donkey saved us!” Back in La Clusaz I could do with a donkey myself. Our course is over and we’re
KEEP SHARP BEAR GRYLLS ULTIMATE KNIFE, £69.55 When you’re out on that mountain, your skills can only take you so far. You need some serious kit to help you survive, specifically the Bear Grylls and Gerber-designed ‘Ultimate Knife’. Not only is the 12cm blade pretty handy, the holes in the knife’s handle allow it to be lashed to a pole to make a spear. Yep, we know – it’s pretty cool. uk.knivesandtools.com
MY SNOW SHOES ARE SLIPPING AND SLIDING ALL OVER THE PLACE
heading back down to civilisation. But my snow shoes are slipping and sliding all over the place. My partner takes a tumble at one point, face-planting in the snow. Could we really survive four weeks out here? Four days even? No, not without sloping off back to the hotel for fluffy towels and a warm night’s sleep… e For information on La Clusaz, see lakeannecy-skiresorts.com; For information on survival courses, see stage-survie-nature.com
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P ROMOTI ON
The Middle Eats For a trip that perfectly blends Eastern and Western culture, as well as offering amazing dining options for food lovers, make your way to the beautiful city of Jerusalem
*Terms and conditions: Prices correct at time of publication. Price includes accommodation and flights as stated with 10kg of cabin baggage. Transfers and hold baggage can be added at the time of booking for an additional charge.
he most incredible destinations are often defined by their food, and Jerusalem – the bustling, historical and culturally diverse capital of Israel is no exception. From fine dining restaurants to low key street food stands, the rich and varied culture of Israel is expressed through the amazing culinary offerings found throughout the city’s streets. Blending Middle Eastern, North African, South American, Asian and European cooking methods with some of the finest chefs, innovators and entrepreneurs in food tech, every
YOU’RE SURE TO DISCOVER NEW TWISTS ON CLASSIC CUISINE EVERY TIME YOU VISIT JERUSALEM
time you visit Jerusalem, you’re sure to discover new twists on classic cuisine, as well as sampling amazing lesser-known delicacies made with the country’s fresh, local produce. Beyond the city’s top-notch restaurants, you can also visit the vibrant Mahane Yehuda market, where you’ll be able to pick up fresh produce like cured meats, local veg and Israeli wine, and soak up the authentic atmosphere of an open-air foodie haven at the city’s centre. What’s more, to celebrate the city’s burgeoning food scene, top restaurants now open their doors for the Jerusalem Open Restaurant Festival every November to showcase the stories behind their menus, and give food lovers the chance to get a behind the scenes look at Israeli food, from market to table. So, whether you want to expand your palate, fancy a fix of fusion food, or just love fine dining, hop on a flight to Jerusalem. ◆
Special Offer DISCOVER FOODIE ISRAEL
Monarch offer a three-night bed and breakfast stay at the three-star Jerusalem Gold Hotel with flights, departing from Manchester for £295pp*, based on two adults sharing a standard double room (departing Thursdays in September). To book, visit monarch.co.uk/israel/jerusalem. For more information on Jerusalem, visit citybreak.itraveljerusalem.com or call 020 7593 1714
LUCKY STRIPES AN ALTERNATIVE VIEW
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We get it – staring at misty, snowcapped mountains is boring as hell. Luckily, we’re on hand to mix up the majestic monotony with this sublime slab of sandstone craziness. To see it for yourself, you’ll need to hop on a flight to Gansu province in north west China, where you’ll find 300km of red rock at the heart of the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park. After 24 million years in the making, they can probably wait until your next paycheck. e
DON’T MISS OUT.
JERUSALEM’S CALENDAR IS BRIMMING WITH FUN FESTIVALS AND EVENTS ALL YEAR ROUND. hearing stories directly from the architects involved in the city’s buildings.
OPEN RESTAURANT November
Jerusalem Open Restaurant Festival offers tours of the tastes and specialities of the Jerusalem table, from the markets to the most elegant of dining tables, from the freshest of locally sourced produce to the finest ingredients imported from around the world.
JERUSALEM BEER FESTIVAL 1st August
The Jerusalem Beer Festival is one of the largest events of the beer industry in Israel. This year the Festival will host some 120 different types of beer. The Festival attracts dozens of established Jerusalem brands alongside local boutique breweries.
MEKUDESHET MUSIC FESTIVAL 23rd August – 15th September
A magnificent three week festival of sacred and modern music, Mekudeshet Music Festival calls musicians from across the globe to celebrate their traditions in the most sacred city in the world. The festival brings its own unique voice into millennia-old caves, gardens and fortresses.
OPEN HOUSE FESTIVAL 26th – 28th October
Taking place throughout Jerusalem’s beautiful neighbourhoods, visitors get an inside glimpse at dozens of Jerusalem’s architectural treasures and private art collections, learning about the city from the inside and
For more info about the exciting festival and events at Jerusalem and for great vacation packages, please visit: iTravelJerusalem.com/vacation-packages
Escapism Magazine - Issue 38 - The Family Issue