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SKI & SNOWBOARD SPECIAL

Glasgow, UK

French Alps

Doha, Qatar

Oslo, Norway

Utah, USA

I s s u e

43 I S S N

2 3 9 7 - 3 4 0 4


D I S C O V E RY s t a r t s h e r e

R I C H M O N D

JACKET lightweight down / warm insulation / windproof / reinforced shoulders

Outdoor performance with modern style.

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ISSUE 43 • ESCAPISM • 7

EDITOR’S LETTER

E D I TO R I A L

I

DESIGN

EDITOR

ART DIRECTOR

Jon Hawkins

Matthew Hasteley

ASSOCIATE EDITOR

SENIOR DESIGNER

Lydia Winter

Abigail Rhodes

STAFF WRITER

DESIGNER

Tom Powell

Emily Black

CONTRIBUTING EDITOR

JUNIOR DESIGNERS

Hannah Summers SUB EDITOR

Annie Brooks, Nicola Poulos

CONTRIBUTORS

AJ Cerqueti

Victoria Smith Hugh Francis Anderson, Tristan Kennedy, Matt Barr

LEAD DEVELOPER

STUDIO PHOTOGRAPHY

DESIGN

EDITORIAL DIRECTOR

Mark Hedley SALES DIRECTORS

Mike Berrett, Alex Watson PRINT ADVERTISING

Sue Bann, Maria Constas, Charlotte Gibbs, Anna Gilmer, Jason Lyon, Thomas Ryan, Kim Sharp, Sophie Spencer, John Wells FINANCIAL DIRECTOR

Steve Cole

David Harrison

F YOU’RE LOOKING at this issue of escapism and thinking “Things are looking a little different around here,” good spot. We’ve given the UK’s biggest travel magazine a makeover, with a fresh design and all-new features that bring you closer than ever to some of the most exciting and inspiring places on earth. And Glasgow. (I’m kidding, of course – but you can find out exactly why you should go there on page 28.) On the other hand, you might have seen the cover and drifted off into dreams of carving down corduroy pistes or bouncing through waist-deep powder (or maybe standing on a table singing, with half a litre of glühwein dribbled down your top). If that’s the case, you’re in luck. Because one thing that hasn’t changed is that escapism’s annual snow issue is absolutely rammed with ideas for your next ski or snowboard break, from the resorts you need on your wishlist (p40) to all the new-season gear you’ll want in your luggage (p83). We’ve also got tales of snowy adventures from all over the world – or at least, all over the bits of the world worth bringing your skis or board to. And for everywhere else, you’ll find plenty of inspiration, too, whether you’re looking for a wintery weekend escape in the UK, a weekend break in Scandinavia (p65) or a sundrenched peek at goings-on in fast-changing Qatar (p58). We’re really proud of our new look; we hope you enjoy it too. ◆

ACCOUNTS

Caroline Walker, Taylor Haynes SENIOR COMMS MANAGER

Melissa van der Haak DIRECTOR

James Rolph MANAGING DIRECTOR

Jon Hawkins, Editor

Stephen Laffey CEO

Tim Slee CHAIRMAN

Tom Kelly OBE

@EscapismMag

@escapismmag

SQUARE UP MEDIA IS A SQUARE UP GROUP COMPANY The Professional Publishers Association Member

Winners!

Contributor Safi Thind won the VisitEngland Travel Article of the Year award for his piece in Escapism on walking from the west to the east coast of England. You can read it at

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escmag.co/coast-to-coast

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© Square Up Media Limited 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this magazine may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. All information contained in this magazine is, as far as we are aware, correct at the time of going to press. Square Up Media cannot accept responsibility for errors or inaccuracies in such information. If you submit unsolicited material to us, you automatically grant Square Up Media a licence to publish your submission in whole or in part in all editions of the magazine. All material is sent at your own risk and although every care is taken, neither Square Up Media nor its employees, agents or subcontractors shall be held liable resulting for loss or damage. Square Up Media endeavours to respect the intellectual property of the owners of copyrighted material reproduced herein. If you identify yourself as the copyright holder of material we have wrongly attributed, please contact the office.


46

58

CONTENTS

13

13 ◆ Photos ◆ Just Landed 18 

EXPERIENCES C OV E R S TO RY

40

Ski & Snow Special

23 ◆ On Location: Stranger Things

Everything new for the 2017-18 snow season, plus the hottest resort picks from our sister brands Whitelines, Cooler and Ski Union

26 ◆ Short Stay: Herefordshire

46 ◆ Tarentaise, France ◆ Skiing

28 ◆  UK Focus: Glasgow, Scotland

40

A snowsports blowout in some of the best resorts in Val d’Isère, Sainte Foy and La Rosière in the Tarentaise valley

EXCURSIONS 53 ◆ Alberta, Canada Road-tripping

Ice climbing, dog sledding, ice-road driving – yep, Alberta has it all 58

Qatar

In flux

An inside look at the world’s richest, fastest-changing country 65 ◆ Oslo, Norway City Guide

83 ◆ The Checklist: Essential ski gear 90 ◆  The Kit List: The best new snowboards 97 ◆ The Intrepid Series: Utah, USA

From kayaking and fjords to brown cheese in the beautiful Scandi city

106 The Selector: Christmas markets and more

[top left] Tristan Kennedy; [bottom middle] David Harrison; [bottom left] ‘Ski Lifts, Aspen’ © Gray Malin, see p13 for more details

DEPARTURES

83


Cool is Real Extreme escape To Lithuania www.lithuania.travel


DEPARTURES

‘Hamptons Surfers’ © Gray Malin / Taken from Gray Malin’s new book, Escape. See p13 for more details

13 18 26

Short Stay 28

In the Frame

Just Landed

Verzon House, Herefordshire

UK Focus

Glasgow, Scotland


THE STOP, BOOK, AND GO SALE. Save up to 30% on select small group adventure tours. The same unforgettable small group adventures for £100s less. Now’s your chance to save on many of our most popular tours, including Peru, Cuba, Mexico, and Thailand. Book between now and 15 December, and depart before 31 December 2017. You ready?

0344 272 2340 Visit: gadventures.co.uk/stop-book-and-go


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 13

IN THE FRAME

Fine art photographer Gray Malin’s new book features striking images that colour the world in a whole new light [

PHOTOGRAPHY

]

escapism’s In the Frame is presented in association with:

‘Skiers and Chair Lift, Aspen’ © Gray Malin

SNOW DAY: From

the book’s ‘Snow’ section, this aerial shot shows ski lifts in the American resort of Aspen, Colorado.


GET AWAY FROM IT ALL… ‘ESCAPE’ BY GRAY MALIN Photographer Gray Malin’s new book allows readers to explore the world without moving a muscle. Its main goal, says Malin, is to help those viewing the

images to break free of feelings of confinement and escape it all. £35, Abrams. For more amazing photos, follow @graymalin or visit graymalin.com


IN THE FRAME • DEPARTURES • 15

Firstname Surname ‘Bronte Pools, Sydney’ © Gray Malin


16 • DEPARTURES • IN THE FRAME

SURF-LY PLEASURES:

escapism’s In the Frame is presented in association with:

G ADVENTURES As well as revolutionising smallgroup travel for the last 27 years, G Adventures has been named Best Inca Trail Tour Operator by

‘Hamptons Surfers’ © Gray Malin

By flying miles above the ocean and distancing his lens from the action, Malin gives this photo of surfers waiting for waves on the coast of Montauk, Long Island, a surreal feel.

the Regional Direction of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Cusco in Peru. Once the cradle of the Incan empire, Peru is packed with ancient and colonial history. This issue, we’ve teamed up with G Adventures to offer one lucky reader and a friend the chance

to win a place on the three-day Lares Trek to Machu Picchu, taking in remote communities, mountains and friendly faces in the Sacred Valley along the way. Enter at escmag.co/gadventures. For more information visit gadventures.co.uk


SAVE UP TO 30% Prices from ÂŁ390. Seriously, just go. Check out incredible small group adventures on sale including Mekong river cruises, Peru, Thailand, Mexico, Argentina, and more. Book between now and 15 December, and depart before 31 December 2017 The Stop, Book, and Go Sale.

0344 272 2340 Visit: gadventures.co.uk/stop-book-and-go


18 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED

BEST IN SHOW

JUST LANDED

From new museums in Barcelona and Abu Dhabi to an incredible hotel in India and a magical winter getaway to Finnish Lapland, we bring you the latest from the world of travel

[

WHAT’S

NEW

IN

TRAVEL

WANT TO GO on an adventure but not sure where to start? Clear your diary for 20-21 January 2018, when the Adventure Travel Show will be taking over Olympia London. With a huge collection of specialist travel companies under one roof and a line up of adventurers – including the legendary Sir Ranulph Fiennes – to give inspirational talks, it’s your one-stop shop for getting off the beaten track. There are even workshops to help you make the most out of your trip, whether that’s through travel writing, photography or filming. 20-21 January at Olympia London. Tickets on sale now, starting at £8 for a day ticket. adventureshow.com

]

FRIENDS IN HIGH PLACES

INDULGE YOUR SENSES

sixsenses.com

[above] The magical new hotel from Six Senses, which is in a 700-year-old fort in Rajasthan

IF YOU KNOW MUCH ABOUT SIX SENSES’ INCREDIBLE STYLE, YOU KNOW THAT ITS LATEST HOTEL WILL BE BREATHTAKING

[Senses] Amit Pasricha; [skiing] Julian Cozma

Credit cards at the ready: Six Senses is expanding its burgeoning empire with a new property, this time in Rajasthan, India. The luxurious boutique hotel group is turning its attention to a 700-year-old fort in the village of Chauth ka Barwara, 68 miles from Jaipur – and if you know much about Six Senses’ incredible style, you know the results will be breathtaking. In keeping with the brand’s sustainable ethos, the design is being led by a team of conservation with the aim of protecting the original structure – including the restoration of the men’s and women’s palaces, two temples and the reforesting of protected land located nearby. Opening at the end of 2018;

PUSHING BOUNDARIES:

WINTER SPORTS BREAKS are great and all, but carving up the slopes is even better when you’re with a mate – and cheaper, too. Enter revamped website ropedup. com, a service that connects you with other skiers and snowboarders so you can split costs and meet likeminded people. Users share profiles to ensure similar interests and abilities, while the site gives you access to top ski schools and guides in leading resorts like Chamonix, Verbier and Val d’Isère. ropedup.com


20 • DEPARTURES • JUST LANDED

CHANGE OF ART Abu Dhabi is upping its art and culture game in November with the opening of the Louvre – the first branch of the iconic museum outside of France. The Jean Nouveldesigned building is as swish as you’d expect, capped off with a giant latticed dome. The museum’s permanent collection of more than 600 pieces is pretty impressive, too, and it’ll

THE IMPRESSIVE NEW LOUVRE IN ABU DHABI IS THE FIRST BRANCH OF THE ICONIC MUSEUM OUTSIDE OF FRANCE

CULTURE CLUB:

[above] The new Louvre in Abu Dhabi; [right] see reindeer and a lot more besides on an Activities Abroad winter holiday to Finnish Lapland

GARUDA INDONESIA CONTINUES to cement itself as a fivestar airline with its new routes between Heathrow and Jakarta, which launched three-times weekly on 31 October – the only non-stop return flights between the UK and Indonesia. The airline prides itself on its in-flight experience, complete with the smell of aromatic flowers and traditional Indonesian food. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal to us. Elsewhere, WOW Air adds to its US destinations with new flights going to Dallas, Texas – with prices starting from £129.999, ya’ll ready for this? garuda-indonesia.com; wowair.co.uk

SNOW DAYS WHY SHOULD THE festive fun stop after Christmas? Head to Activities Abroad’s Jeris Cottage in Finnish Lapland for a holiday that brings together everything a winter wonderland should be, from hunting down the elusive Northern Lights to husky and snowmobile safaris for you to make the most of the snow. Departs 26 December 2017; adults from £1,615 and children from £1,175 including return flights, transfers and full-board accommodation. activitiesabroad.com

[Reindeer] Antti Pietikainen

Jakarta: New non-stop flights to the capital of Indonesia mean you can reach the dynamic city in only 14 hours.

GET OFF THE GROUND

have around 300 pieces from key French institutions on loan, including works by da Vinci, Monet, van Gogh and Matisse. This is just a taste of things to come: Abu Dhabi’s cultural district will soon be home to a new outpost of the Guggenheim, and the Zayed National Museum. If you’re looking for a sophisticated crash pad while you’re there, try the St Regis in Abu Dhabi’s Corniche, which marries New York-style Art Deco opulence with rich Arabic culture. Rooms from £160. louvreabudhabi.ae; starwoodhotels.com


ON LOCATION • DEPARTURES • 23

ON THE FLY

ON LOCATION

The best in coldweather hiking gear

Indiana is where the Stranger Things kids reside, right? As it happens, no, it’s the outskirts of Atlanta in Georgia that act as a backdrop for all the supernatural goings-on in the series

[

T

ATLANTA,

Everett Collection Inc/Alamy

HE AMERICAN DEEP South: home to Creole cuisine, jazz and groups of excitable schoolkids cycling to the sound of insistent synth music. Sure, Netflix smasher Stranger Things might not be set in the state of Georgia in the US South (it’s actually meant to be Indiana), but if you want to experience the fictional town of Hawkins, you’re best off heading to the state capital of Atlanta and its amazing small-town surroundings, which acts as its 1980s-infused location double. Sitting about an hour’s drive south of Atlanta, the town of Jackson got a lick of paint ahead of filming last year to give it the marvellously retro aesthetic you see on screen. And if you want more, the woods around the Georgia International Horse Park were used to film both the real and netherworld scenes of the show. It just happens that they’re ripe for a afternoon’s hike, and quiet enough that you

GEORGIA

]

can probably shout “Will!”, “Eleven!” and “Barb!” to your heart’s content if you really (and we mean really) want to. After all that, it’ll be time for some southern staples like gumbo and pecan pie back in bustling downtown Atlanta, before banging together a neat little message to another dimension with a pot of paint and some fairy lights on your hotel wall. OK, maybe don’t do that last bit, not unless you want the demogorgon to kidnap all the money in your bank account, anyway. ◆ Stranger Things is on Netflix now

NOTHING IS EVER AS IT SEEMS: The

MERRELL CHAMELEON 7 MID GORE-TEX® With tough, flexible outsoles and an ultra-light build, these boots provide great traction in changeable conditions. £160; merrell.com

FJALLRAVEN BERGEN 30 BAG This daypack is built for unpredictable British weather. It’s kitted out with an extra-waterproof rolltop and a removable inner. £110; fjallraven.co.uk

stars of Stranger Things on location in Georgia. The Southern state acts as a stand-in for Indiana, where the series is actually set

THE TOWN OF JACKSON GOT A LICK OF PAINT AHEAD OF FILMING LAST YEAR TO GIVE IT THE RETRO AESTHETIC YOU SEE ON SCREEN

SHERPA TSEPUN ZIP TEE As well as being fastwicking and great as a lightweight layer in cold weather, this fleece top helps fund schools in Nepal with the brand’s social enterprise. £60; sherpaadventure gear.co.uk


INSTAGUIDE: MELBOURNE • DEPARTURES • 25

@RAYOFMELBOURNE

HOT SHOTS

From stunning natural scenery to incredible architecture and seriously tempting food and drink, follow these Instagrammers to find out why Melbourne should be on your visit list

[

MELBOURNE,

AUSTRALIA

AS HIS NAME suggests, Ray of Melbourne is concerned with one place, and one place only. In his own words, he’s dedicated to ‘capturing the world’s most liveable city’, and he does a pretty good job of it – his predominantly urban landscape shots depict Melbourne’s magnificent architecture against wide, colourful skies. This image of the skyline at sunset is taken from the city’s Shrine of Remembrance.

]

@IEATMELBOURNE ROBERT AND JANE McKay have made it their mission to taste and photograph some of the best food in Melbourne, and in a city that’s so full of good things to eat, that’s no small task. Exhibit A: truffled sweet potato and corn fritters, dukkah-coated son-in-law egg, smashed avo and bacon from Be The Duck in the city’s Richmond neighbourhood. Yes. Please. A word of warning, though – if you’re hungry, look away now.

@CONNORJVAUGHAN ‘HERE’S TO THE ones who chase adventure like it’s the setting sun for the last day of earth,’ reads the caption on this gravity-defying shot by Connor J Vaughan, and chasing adventure is exactly what he was doing when he captured the image at Whisky Bay, on the coast south of Melbourne, via drone. Check his account for more shots of the stunning natural landscapes of the city and beyond.


SHORT STAY

VERZON HOUSE

A country hotel with a twist, Verzon House in Herefordshire combines rural charm with super-local produce and a bar that’s fully stocked with spirits made by artisan distiller Chase, who also happens to own it. Are these the ingredients for a perfect weekend away? Tom Powell heads to the countryside to find out…

[

LEDBURY,

HEREFORDSHIRE

]

COST: Rooms

from £80 per night ADDRESS:

Hereford Road, Trumpet, HR8 2PZ NEAREST TOWN: Ledbury,

Herefordshire GETTING THERE: The

best way to get to Verzon House is by car, and it’s just short of a three-hour drive from London TO BOOK: 01531 670 381 or visit

verzonhouse.com

WHAT’S THE SCORE

Owned by the people behind Chase vodka and Williams gin, Verzon House sits slap-bang in the middle of the memorably named village of Trumpet. Not as manicured as its dainty neighbour the Cotswolds, eastern Herefordshire is a place of rugged valleys, winding lanes and farms – loads of them. And as you’d expect, the hotel is the Chase family’s food and drinks philosophy – if you’ll excuse the pun – purely distilled. Think high quality and classic, with a distinctly British air.

WHAT TO EXPECT

Hit Verzon’s cushy lounge bar and you’ll find a list of seasonal serves carefully concocted from spirits made at Chase’s distillery up the road in Preston Wynne, and wines from the family’s vineyard near Aix-en-Provence in southern France. Upstairs, spacious and well-turnedout rooms have a contemporary country theme running throughout, and come complete with huge beds, Chasestocked minibars and views of the rolling countryside out towards the Malvern hills and beyond.

DISH OF THE DAY:

[above] Seasonally changing dishes in the restaurant at Verzon are made from ingredients that are all sourced locally


SHORT STAY • DEPARTURES • 27

NIGHT ON THE BOOZE Like a tipple or two on a weekend away? Here are three more places that specialise in both

SPACIOUS AND WELL-TURNED-OUT ROOMS HAVE A CONTEMPORARY COUNTRY THEME RUNNING THROUGHOUT, AND COME COMPLETE WITH CHASE-STOCKED MINIBARS AND VIEWS OF THE COUNTRYSIDE WHAT TO EAT

[Food] India Pocock; [Chase distillery and Goudhurst Inn] Thomas Alexander

The restaurant serves up an inventive menu of seasonally changing dishes, cooked with ingredients almost exclusively from farms and suppliers in Herefordshire, Worcestershire and northern Gloucestershire. Think Hereford beef, Teme Valley lamb and Wye Valley veg. The only exception to the rule is the fish – which is still sourced in UK waters – but having tasted the cold-smoked turbot, we’re not complaining. Breakfast, meanwhile, is almost as good, and comes daintily arranged, but with enough on the plate to fill the boots of anyone who’s spent a night on the spirits.

THE GOUDHURST INN, KENT As well as making top-class wines and ciders, the Hush Heath estate in Kent’s High Weald is home to this little haven for foodies and oenophiles. Take a tour of the winery, walk the vineyards, taste a tipple or six and eat some great seasonal dishes. From £80. thegoudhurstinn.com

GET IN THE SPIRIT:

[above] A stay at Verzon isn’t complete without a visit to the Chase distillery down the road, where you can learn how the owners make their vodka and gin

HARBOUR INN, ISLAY Like holidaying in small seaside towns? Good. Like rugged Hebridean islands? Good. Like single malt scotch? Even better, because Islay-based distiller Bowmore owns the Harbour Inn, which sits right in the centre of – wait for it – Bowmore. From £110. bowmore.com

WHAT TO DO WHILE YOU’RE THERE

The main draw is an afternoon out at the Chase Distillery, where you’ll learn how to turn runny mashed potatoes into high-grade spirits, trying everything from a pinky-finger’s nip of super-proof pure spirit to the full range (and we mean the full, wobble-your-way-back-tothe-hotel range) of the brand’s blends and infusions. You can even get a lift to and from Verzon House in one of the distillery’s iconic Land Rovers. Slightly further afield to the south there’s also the Three Choirs Vineyard, where you can try tonnes of English wines, as long as your body can take two booze tours in one weekend. Then there’s the quaint town of Ledbury, where a market takes place on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the Grade I-listed market hall, and the Malvern hills, which are ripe for long, picturesque walks. ◆ verzonhouse.com

Chase Distillery: The farm where the distillery is located grows potatoes for vodka, as well as apples for Williams gin and apple vodka. It’s a true farm-tobottle operation.

THE SWAN INN, SOUTHWOLD Recently transformed with pomp, cosiness and contemporary quirks, this coastal bolthole is the perfect place to experience Southwold, the Suffolk coast and most importantly, brewer and distiller Adnams, who owns the gaff. From £200. theswansouthwold.co.uk


UK FOCUS

Planning an excursion all the way up to Glasgow? Not without reading our handy guide full of boutique boltholes, left-field things to do and locally loved places to eat and drink, you’re not...

[

GLASGOW,

SCOTLAND

]

SEE & DO KING TUT’S WAH WAH HUT

Feast your eyes on anything and everything at this tiny but iconic venue. A lot of tourists head up to Glasgow just for the pilgrimage to the legendary spot where Oasis signed their first record deal. We were more psyched about The View’s six sold-out shows earlier this year, though. OK, just kidding. kingtuts.co.uk

SUB CLUB

An absolute institution, Sub Club has been going longer than most millennials, and shows no sign of slowing down. Recent years have seen residences from local legends like Optimo and electronic labels like Numbers. Basically, go there. subclub.co.uk

THE LIGHTHOUSE

With multiple exhibition spaces, this Charles Rennie Mackintosh-designed piece of cultural heritage is Scotland’s centre for design and architecture that’s housed, unsurprisingly, in a lighthouse. Head here to get your art fix, or climb the Mack Tower for unparalleled views of the city. thelighthouse.co.uk

REST & RECHARGE 15 GLASGOW

From the velvet cushions to the squashy sofas, 15 Glasgow combines traditional luxury with a chic contempory twist. This award-winning, five-room B&B is just a five-minute walk from Glasgow’s centre, and is run by owner and hostess Laura. £120pn; 15glasgow.com

GRASSHOPPERS

All traditional red-brick on the outside and sleek, pared-back wood on the inside, the best way to describe this 30-room hotel is Scotland via Scandinavia – a pairing that might be unexpected, but it works. Design aside, it’s got luxurious showers, comfy beds and a balls-out full Scottish breakfast with freshly baked bread. £78pn; grasshoppersglasgow.com

ABODE GLASGOW

Rooms at this hotel start at ‘comfortable’ and finish at ‘fabulous’ – which, FYI, means you get a superking-sized bed and a tuck box of tasty treats with your stay. You also get both a roll-top bath and a walk-in monsoon shower, making an overnight visit here very fabulous indeed. £54pn; abodeglasgow.co.uk


UK FOCUS: GLASGOW • DEPARTURES • 29

CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: Gin palace The

Finnieston; top-rate steak at Porter & Rye; The Pot Still; The Lighthouse; Glasgow’s heaving city centre

GRAHAM SUTTLE, KAINED HOLDINGS

[street] Mario Gutiérrez/Getty; [stairs] Matt Sjöberg/Getty; [The Pot Still] Neil Setchfield / Alamy Stock Photo

Since opening his first venue in 2007 with two friends, Glasgow local Suttle has shaken up Scotland’s food scene with nine more sites. Look right to find out where he likes to eat and drink...

EAT & DRINK THE POT STILL

In this pub, a giant whisky collection is dwarfed only by owner Big Frank and his family’s warm welcome. It’s the kind of place every character on earth walks through from students to lawyers. When you’re having a pie and a pint here, you feel like you’re in the real Glasgow. thepotstill.co.uk

THE PUB’S GIANT WHISKY COLLECTION IS DWARFED ONLY BY ITS OWNER, BIG FRANK, AND HIS FAMILY’S WARM WELCOME

THE FINNIESTON

This low-slung, historical drovers’ inn has been converted into a gin palace with a bustling seafood kitchen at the back. It’s right in the heart of Finnieston, has a hidden beer garden, an open fire and you can get freshly shucked local oysters 24/7. I love it. thefinniestonbar.com

PORTER & RYE

At Porter, steak is a religion. The meat comes from an exclusive organic family farm, and is a native breed that’s aged in-house. The minimum age statement is 52 days but I’ve eaten 275-day aged longhorn there in the past – I would’ve happily died afterwards as it really doesn’t get any better. Until you see the wine list and bone marrow macaroni cheese, that is. porterandrye.com ◆ For more of Graham’s picks, head to escmag.co/glasgow


explore quintessential qatar Whether you’re visiting on a 72-hour stopover or for a week in the year-round Arabian sun, the Qatari capital of Doha is the perfect place to discover vibrant culture and effortless luxury all in one place Whether you’re the kind of traveller who wants to dive deep into the culture of a new country, or you just fancy kicking back for a couple of days at the beginning or end of a longer break, Qatar has it all – and now that UK nationals can stay visa-free for 30 days, there’s never been a better time to visit. With world-leading hotels all across the country’s capital and beyond, you can easily spend your entire time in Qatar just chilling by the pool, indulging in five-star treatments from both East and West or enjoying

fantastic hospitality and great food. One of the amazing places you can stay is the Doha Marriott, which sits on the beachfront just ten minutes from the airport, making it the perfect place to hunker down after a long flight. The St Regis Doha, meanwhile, is a beautiful high-end option on the northern side of Doha’s Corniche. There you’ll be able to recline in a beachfront paradise, swimming in a free-form pool and eating delicious food at restaurants like Hakkasan and Gordon Ramsay.

But it’s not all about luxury and relaxation – Doha is full of amazing cultural experiences, too. No trip is complete without a trip to the Museum of Islamic Art, a stunning building that houses a collection spanning 14 centuries, where you can lose almost half a day walking around its five floors of amazing exhibits. If you want to get a more hands-on experience of Qatari culture and history, though, you should head to Souq Waqif, where you can try your hand at haggling


QATAR • PROMOTION • 31

PROMOTION

experience unique culture and unparalleled luxury with a 72hour stopover in doha, qatar for local spices and Arabian goods, or even browse shops selling falcons and worldfamous Arabian horses. The souq really springs to life in the evening, so a visit on your last night for an authentic Arabian dinner before your onward journey is one of the best ways to see out the end of your stay. Then, after dinner, nothing beats taking to the Arabian Gulf in a traditional dhow. Once used for fishing and pearling, these iconic wooden boats were once a vital part of Qatari culture, helping pearl divers and fishermen head out intrepidly onto the Arabian Gulf in search of a prized catch. Although you won’t see them fishing the bay these days, the gorgeous boats are still the ideal way to soak up views of the

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: The café at the MIA boasts incredible views across the bay to the Corniche; a trip to Souq Waqif is a must if you want to get a unique taste of Qatari culture

Corniche and Doha’s ever-expanding skyline from an impressive angle. Of course, if you’re looking for something slightly more high-octane while you’re in the country, you should head out into the desert. Here, guided by an expert driver, you’ll bump gently across miles of rolling sand dunes in a 4x4, taking in unique sights and sensations. As well as riding the dunes, there’s a chance to see salt flats, camels and the one-of-a-kind Inland Sea – a saltwater creek that runs deep into the desert near the country’s southern border with Saudi Arabia. Once you’ve stopped for a photo, you’ll be whisked off to indulge in an amazing Arabian meal at a traditional-style Bedouin camp where you’ll eat overlooking the shimmering Arabian Gulf. It really is bliss. No matter how you choose to spend your time in Qatar one thing is for sure – nowhere else balances unparalleled luxury and unique culture quite like Doha. ◆ For more information go to visitqatar.qa

exclusive offer Get five nights at Shangri-lA hotel Doha from £1,049pp Ready to book your flights? Well lucky you, because you could save up to £568 per couple when you travel to Doha and stay at the luxurious, five-star Shangri-La Hotel Doha on selected dates in May and June 2018. Just £1,049 per person will get you flights from Heathrow to Doha with Qatar Airways, as well as five nights in a deluxe room on a room-and-board basis. kuoni.co.uk/qatar; 0800 144 8049


[

INSIDER’S

GUIDE

]

ALBERTA, CANADA

In association with


ALBERTA, CANADA • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 33

INSIDER’S GUIDE

winter wonders Whether you’re heading over for the sublime scenery, the secluded mountain lodges or the region’s totally unparalleled winter sports scene, a trip to the picturesque province of Alberta in Canada is an absolute must for anyone looking for a unique winter getaway that’ll last long in the memory. Visit travelalberta.com for more. Get there with WestJet, the highcare, low-fare airline that offers direct flights to Calgary all year round, with connections to Edmonton in winter. Direct seasonal flights to Edmonton, Alberta are also available. All flights are from London Gatwick. For more information, and to book your flights now, visit westjet.com Fitzgerald

Rainbow Lake

La Crête

Fort McMurray

Calgary Slave lake

Edmonton Anthabasca Bonnyville

Jasper

St. Paul

Red Deer

Banff

Drumheller

Brooks Medicine Hat Lethbridge


S P O T L I G H T A L B E R TA , C A N A D A

breeze your way to the peaks The Canadian province of Alberta becomes a snow-filled wonderland when winter swings around, and with great value flights from London Gatwick to Calgary with WestJet, getting there has never been easier For an epic, picturesque and actionpacked winter break that’s a little more farflung than the same old haunts in the Alps, a trip out west to Canada is just the tonic for the snow-loving holidaymaker. Whether you live for the pistes, love a taste of après culture or just fancy warming your toes in front of the fire after a day out soaking up mountain air and the dramatic sights of the Canadian Rockies, the province of Alberta is the perfect place for you, and thanks to WestJet’s direct flight from London Gatwick to Calgary, getting there is easier, cheaper and faster than ever before. Every winter the province’s mountains are covered in metres of light, ready-to-ski

powder that’s just as good for beginners as it is for experienced off-piste warriors. And naturally, where there’s top quality snow, there’s a great ski scene, which means the entire region is packed with amazing resorts with every kind of accommodation, from luxe hotels to remote mountainside cabins. Snow sports lovers will probably already have heard of Banff – one of the world’s best-

loved winter sports towns that’s just hourand-a-half’s drive from Calgary International Airport – as well as the clean-aired resort of Nakiska, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, and continues to wow travellers today. But beyond those two high-pedigree ski areas, there’s tons more to explore, from Mount Norquay near the town of Banff in the south, to Marmot Basin further north,

every winter, the rockies are coated in feet of perfect powder


ALBERTA, CANADA • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 35

INSIDER’S GUIDE

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: The amazing Rockies; unique cabin lodgings; go off piste at Lake Louise

near the cool mountain town of Jasper. Also, nestled in the world-famous Banff National Park, you’ll find the winter paradises of Lake Louise and Sunshine Village, where there’s both great gastronomy and light, fluffy snow. Of course, if you’re more about exploring the scenery than bombing it down the slopes back into town, you can head out into the wilderness on miles of well-maintained trails with a pair of cross-country skis or snowshoes, where you’ll get the chance to take some perfect holiday photos among Alberta’s famous beautiful blue skies and snow-capped mountains. By far the best thing about ski season in Alberta, however, is how long it lasts. From November to May each year the region gets coated in seven months of amazing snow, which rises to a dazzling four metres in the resort of Marmot Basin, meaning you’re guaranteed a good time until the very last days of the season. In fact, the resort makes

a habit of it, with hundreds of riders of every ability hitting the ski hill for events each day in April, eking out their carves, jumps and tricks until the last lift stops. But it’s about way more than just the skiing: Alberta’s many world-class resorts are home to a unique winter culture, and each of the province’s vibrant local scenes is a little different from the next. So whether you fancy ice skating on the frozen water at Lake Louise, taking advantage of Alberta’s famously low sales tax buying gear in the

shops of Banff and Jasper or getting your fill of gravy-smothered poutine and other great Canadian delicacies in the restaurants of Banff Sunshine Village, spending time in Alberta during ski season is as much about culture as carving fresh lines in untouched powder. So what are you waiting for? It’s time to make tracks. Book your flights and head to Alberta before the season’s out. ◆ Book flights to Calgary, Alberta at westjet.com; for more information on holidays to Alberta, visit travelalberta.com.


S P O T L I G H T A L B E R TA , C A N A D A

slopes and the city Whether you’re after delicious food and drink, history or a magical winter adventure, here’s why there’s more to Alberta than skiing

Alberta’s top-notch ski scene aside, there are plenty of other reasons to add a winter break to the Canadian province to your bucket list. From food, nightlife and

getting there If you want to hit the slopes, go on an ice walk or sample some of Alberta’s food and drink, you’re in luck. With direct flights from London Gatwick to Calgary thanks to WestJet, getting there has never been easier. One-way prices currently start at £264, so it’s the perfect time to book your fun-filled winter break with WestJet. The airline knows that your holiday starts as soon as you get on the plane, which is why it prides itself on providing the best experience for its guests – while keeping its fares low. Book by December 15, 2017 (11:59 p.m. GMT) for travel from January 17 to February 28 2018 on Wednesdays. Advertised price is per person based on non-stop flights. For baggage fees and optional charges, visit westjet. com. Advertised taxes and fees for Canadian destinations can fluctuate based on exchange rate. Advertised fares only apply to flights marketed and operated wholly by WestJet, and are not applicable when travelling with our code share, interline or other airline partners. Fares are limited and subject to availability. New bookings only. Nonrefundable. Flights may not operate on certain days. Price is accurate at time of printing deadline. See westjet.com/ escapism for full details.

culture to other outdoor pursuits, there’s plenty on offer to make sure a holiday to Alberta is one to remember – and we’ve rounded up just a few of our favourites. Keep your cool on an ice walk Ice walking might just be one of the most epic, beautiful activities you’ll ever experience. Head to Jasper’s Maligne Canyon in the winter months and you’ll get to feast your eyes on turquoise-hued glacial waters rushing between vertigo-inducing canyon walls. Or take the trail to Grotto Canyon, which can only be accessed by foot – but we can tell you the hike will be worth it. Walk up the creekbed and past a glistening waterfall and you’ll find some Hopi pictographs that were painted on the limestone walls 500-1,o00 years ago. Looking for more of an adrenaline rush? Grab a guide, your ice axe and test your mettle with ice climbing at one of Alberta’s many crags, ice walls and glaciers – which are among the best on the planet. Tangle Falls in Jasper National Park is one spot to look out for, with a waterfall frozen into crystalline ice. Fill your boots with local food and drink No holiday is complete without utterly delicious food and drink, and what you’ll find in Alberta is an abundance of top-grade locally reared beef – which pairs perfectly with the locally brewed beer or cocktails made with spirits distilled from local grains. If you’re hungry, check out Blink restaurant, housed in a trendy renovated saddlery building in Calgary, where fine dining meets contemporary cool. For something less formal, pop in for a pint at Edmonton’s

TAKE A HIKE: [from top] There are heaps of winter fun activities in Alberta, from hiking to dog-sledding; warm up in a trendy local eatery


ALBERTA, CANADA • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 37

INSIDER’S GUIDE

favourite brew pub, Situation Brewing, which brings together beers, bites and a friendly space in which to enjoy both.

between Canada’s landscape and its rich heritage, from the people to the events that have shaped western Canada’s community.

Hit the history books From dinosaurs to 18th-century trade objects, Alberta is a destination that’s brimming with history. The province is filled with indigenous sites that are even older than Stonehenge, and it’s also home to one of the largest collections of complete dinosaur skeletons in the world at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller. Elsewhere, the Glenbow Museum in Calgary is devoted to art as well as history and will have you more appreciative than ever of the links

Get closer to the stars Alberta is home to some of the world’s largest Dark Sky preserves, making it one of the best places to watch as the mesmerising greens, purples and yellows of the Northern

Lights illuminate the night sky. To really appreciate the beauty, book your stay between September and mid-May, and make sure October’s Jasper Dark Sky festival is in your calendar – it’s the best time to see the stars and you’ll also get fascinating insider insights from industry experts. ◆ Book flights to Calgary and Edmonton, Alberta at westjet.com; travelalberta.com

ICe walking is one of the most epic activities you’ll ever experience


Hotel of the year 2018

an icon of hospitality since 1855 Uncompromising quality, the highest standards, incomparable services & friendliness and an impressive architecture in a typically Swiss grand hotel - we‘re GaultMillau‘s Hotel of the Year 2018.

From December 2017, come and experience our unique Casual Fine Dining concept with Germany‘s star chef Tim Raue, combined with the fantastic Kulm Spa and skiing fun right next to the hotel. Hotel of the year package: 2 nights, including Champagne welcome and 2 creative dinners - from CHF 825 p.p.

gaultmillau‘s hotel of the year 2018

unique skiing experiences

Kulm Hotel · Via Veglia 18 · 7500 St. Moritz

T +41 81 836 80 00 · info@kulm.com · www.kulm.com


EXPERIENCES

Tristan Kennedy

40 ◆ Ski & Snowboard Special 46 ◆ Tarentaise, France ◆ Skiing 53 ◆ Alberta, Canada ◆ Road-tripping 58 ◆ Qatar ◆ A nation in flux 65 ◆ Oslo, Norway ◆ City Guide


SKI & SNOW SPECIAL • EXPERIENCES • 41

Words by LYDIA WINTER Randy Lincks

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A PISTE OF THE ACTION Can’t decide where to book your next mountain holiday? Whether you’re after speed on the slopes, comfy luxury, a piece of isolation or anything in between, we’ve got all bases covered. Dig out your salopettes and let’s go

-5°C

Average temp in Whistler in January

200"

Annual snowfall in El Arpa, Chile

190m

Depth of Lake Königssee in Bavaria

WHEN THE WHISTLER SNOWS: Whistler, in Canada’s portion of the Rockies, is one of the best places on North America’s West Coast for skiing and snowboarding

F

ROM FAR-FLUNG BREAKS to El Arpa in Chile to tried-and-tested alpine getaways in France, when it comes to choosing a destination for a winter break, skiiers and snowboarders pretty much have the world at their feet. With so much choice, and new and exciting snowsports destinations appearing all the time, how do you make that final decision? Do you prioritise a vibrant après scene, or somewhere with acres of freeriding terrain? We know it’s tricky, which is why we’ve asked our friends at our superknowledgable sister brands Cooler, Whitelines and Ski Union to tell us their favourite places to hit the slopes. And, just because we like to be good to you, we’ve put together our pick of the best skiing and snowboarding holidays for the new season, too. You’re welcome. >


SAM MCMAHON DEPUTY EDITOR, WHITELINES AND ONBOARD If there’s a resort that’s got it all, it’s Laax, Switzerland, where the holy trinity of pistes, parks and powder come together for 224km of undulating groomers around four of the best European snowparks. If you luck out with fresh snow... It’s time to partyboard your face off! Yes, it’s pricey, but so are caviar and jetpacks – also known as the finer things in life. Forget the crowds of surrounding Tignes, Val D’Isere and Les Arcs – stay in a yurt (yep, really) and ride the hidden gem of Sainte Foy, France instead. The accommodation is warmer than any pokey apartment and the resort is weirdly empty considering how much snow its north-facing slopes pick up. whitelines.com; onboardmag.com

SNOW WAY: In the scenic Vogel, Slovenia, extreme snowsports like airboarding are thrown into the mix alongside traditional skiing and snowboarding

GET EXTREME IN VOGEL, SLOVENIA Adrenaline junkie? Give alpine skiing a whirl at Slovenia’s Vogel resort, where you can also try your hand – or, er, body – at airboarding, which involves flinging yourself down the side of the mountain while lying on a specially designed inflatable ‘board’. HOW: Stay at Ramada Resort Kranjska Gora from £67 per night for a room based on two sharing. ramada.com

GO BACK TO SCHOOL IN WHISTLER If you’re just getting to grips with skiing or are feeling a bit rusty, head to British Columbia, Canada. In recent years, Whistler Mountain’s Olympic Station has been working on becoming more beginnerfriendly, and you’ll find new terrain, two

covered magic carpet lifts and 25 energyefficient snow guns that’ll guarantee prime conditions all the way through the season. At a whopping 7.5km HOW: Ski Solutions long and 200m deep, Mer de Glace offers seven nights’ is the largest glacier accommodation at the in France, and the Aava Hotel, including second longest in the Alps, and is well return flights with worth a visit on its Air Canada, domestic own merit. transfers and a sixday lift pass from £1,875 per person, based on two sharing. skisolutions.com

TAKE REFUGE IN MONT BLANC

For a hotel that blends style with substance, try the new Terminal Neige Refuge du Montenvers, perched on the Mont Blanc mountain range in France, at a lofty 6,725ft above sea level. It’s unashamedly gorgeous, and will also give you unfettered access to the legendary

YOU CAN TRY FLINGING YOURSELF DOWN THE MOUNTAIN ON AN INFLATABLE AIRBOARD

Mer de Glace, whether that’s via train, hike or cross-country ski. HOW: Nightly rates from about £220. montenvers.terminal-neige.com; easyJet offers return flights to Geneva from £49. easyjet.com

SLEEP AROUND IN COLOGNE

Why waste precious skiing time on travel when you could just book a sleeper train? Once you’ve got yourself to Cologne with the Eurostar, there’s a new service from Austrian rail operator OBB running all the way to Innsbruck, making several stops along the way – which means you’ll arrive first thing in the morning, ready to nail those runs. HOW: Trains to Cologne from £48 one way. eurostar.com. One-way tickets from Cologne to Innsbruck start at around £25; oebb.at

RIDE SOLO IN LES DEUX ALPES

Heading out on your own? Stay at ski-in ski-out Chalet Bérangère at Les Deux Alpes, France during one of its Club Mark Warner weeks. You’ll get your own room without that usual ‘under occupancy fee’, and there’ll be heaps of social dining and entertainment, plus plenty of opportunities to meet similarly minded guests.


SKI & SNOW SPECIAL • EXPERIENCES • 43

HOW: Rates start from £749pp. For more information: markwarner.co.uk

FLY THE NEST TO DENVER

With new direct flights from London Gatwick to Denver thanks to Norwegian, a winter holiday to Colorado is a nobrainer, especially when you throw the rail connections between the airport and the town of Winter Park into the mix. You’ll be there in a jiffy. Kind of. And, perhaps more importantly, you’ll avoid the soul-destroying traffic jams inevitable on snowy weekends. HOW: Flights start at £360 return. norwegian. com; train tickets start from £22. amtrak.com

JOIN THE HERD IN ANDORRA

Thanks to new infrastructure, Andorra’s resorts can transport more than 107,000 skiers an hour. That’s a lot of people – and it means more time to spend at the three main conveniently linked resorts, Soldeu, El Tarter and Pas de la Casa. There’s a clutch of new restaurants opening here, too, as well as a shopping mall just at the foot of the slopes. HOW: Crystal Ski Holidays offers seven nights half board at the four-star Hotel Piolets Park & Spa, Soldeu, from £499pp based on two sharing and including flights from Gatwick to Toulouse and transfers. crystalski.co.uk

UPGRADE YOUR APRÈS IN VERBIER At Vie Montagne, Verbier, a London

restaurateur is At 6,9601m high, the upping the ante Andean mountain of Aconcagua is the with a microbrewery highest mountain and fine-dining outside Asia, making venue headed up it the highest point in both the Western by ex-Ledbury and Southern chef Lawrence Hemispheres. McCarthy. And the good news doesn’t stop there, either: there’s a new twicedaily route between London City and the previously unserved Sion Airport, located in Switzerland’s Valais region. The whole journey time takes a little under three hours from start to finish, making it the obvious choice for city rats who want to get out on those slopes with only a few days to spare. HOW: Find out more at viemontagne.com; Powdair offers direct return flights to Sion Airport from London City, priced at £463 and including 8kg hand luggage, 23kg hold luggage and ski/snowboard carriage. Powdair also arranges transfers from the airport to Verbier. powdair.ski

WALK IT OFF IN JAPAN

If you’ve managed to get yourself to Japan, you might as well take in a bit of the country beyond the slopes. We like Walk Japan’s snowshoe tours through Tohoku, taking in the region’s vertigo-inducing mountains, valleys, coasts and never-ending forests. HOW: The Tohoku Hot Springs Snow Tour is a nine-day, eight-night fully-guided

snowshoe tour for up to twelve participants, starting at approximately £3,394 including accommodation, food, transfers from Tokyo, snowshoe rental and entrance fees. walkjapan.com

GET CHILLY IN CHILE

If you’ve been there, done that and got the t-shirt when it comes to skiing in Europe and North America, look to El Arpa, Chile, where, aside from challenging 3,000-ft descents and access to acres of backcountry terrain, you’ll get knockout views of the Pacific Ocean and the Cerro Aconcagua. HOW: Upscape Travel offers a three-day, two-night trip from £1,080 per person, including accommodation, transport within Los Andes and breakfast and lunch. upscapetravel.com

TAKE ON A MONSTER IN CANADA

Looking for a challenge? British Columbia’s Panorama resort in Taynton Bowl has added shedloads (shredloads?) of expert terrain that includes a double black diamond run – the hardest piste category you’ll find in North America – that’s already being referred to as ‘the Monster’. HOW: Day passes from £42.50. panoramaresort.com. For >

LOU BOYD EDITOR, COOLER MAGAZINE For a snowboarder looking to do more than just hit the slopes, Chamonix, France is the European capital for serious mountaineering and one of the world’s best freeriding spots – snowboarders here will be armed with carabiners and ice axes, abseiling into freeride terrain. Make your way up the 1,000m-plus ascent from the valley floor and you’ll find a snowboarding area with panoramic views across Mont Blanc and some of Europe’s best riding. Elsewhere, Davos, Switzerland is ideal for a varied experience. It has a huge pisted area, five mountains to keep freeriders happy and a terrain park with two half pipes for park rats. coolerlifestyle.com


44 • EXPERIENCES • SKI & SNOW SPECIAL

TILLY TASKER EDITOR, SKI UNION When it comes to the tiny resort of Saariselkä in Northern Finland, the offerings might be small, but the rewards are huge. As Europe’s northernmost ski resort, snow is almost 100% guaranteed for winter. Six efficient chairlifts cover 11 blue to black runs, and there’s a small freestyle park that packs a punch, too – but the highlight of this ski resort is the chance to see the mysterious Northern Lights. Morzine, France is a party town that resonates strongly with those who like a vin chaud (or three) at the end of the day, but you’ll brush shoulders with some serious skiers who can point you in the direction of some untouched powder pockets. skiunion.com

SNOW SCENE: The bucolic Bavarian countryside makes a fantastic backdrop for snowsports in Ramsau bei Berchtesgaden, Germany

> more information about British Columbia, visit hellobc.com; WestJet flies from London Gatwick to Calgary, Alberta, from £264 oneway. westjet.com

GET IN THE PICTURE IN BAVARIA

two sharing on a B&B basis. ciasasalares.it; easyJet flies from Gatwick to Innsbruck from £55 return. easyjet.com

PLAY HARD IN RUKA, FINLAND

SOAK IT ALL IN IN JAPAN

You might think that the brand new Rosa & Rudolf Park in Ruka, Finland is just for little ’uns, but the zipwire slide, playground and carousel will be plenty fun for big kids, too. HOW: Crystal Ski Holidays offers seven nights’ stay at the four-star Ruka Village Hotel and Apartments from £423pp based on four sharing, including flights from Gatwick to Kuusamo and transfers. crystalski.co.uk

GO GREEN IN THE DOLOMITES

If you’ve got sustainability in mind, add Hotel Ciasa Salares in the Dolomites to your hit list immediately. It’s got a brandspanking-new eco-designed penthouse suite that uses renewable energy, plus a roster of new, custom-made skiing experiences with its two in-house ski instructors, too. HOW: Nightly rates start at £360, based on

THE ZIPWIRE SLIDE, CAROUSEL AND PLAYGROUND PROVIDE FUN FOR BIG KIDS

We know skiing is hard work, so if hitting the Japanese Alps has left you feeling battered and bruised, treat yourself to a well-earned soak in the hot spring ryokan at Hoshino Resorts’ sleek and sophisticated KAI Alps, which is reopening this winter after 18 months of extensive renovations. HOW: Nightly rates from about £155 per person. hoshinoresorts.com. Air France flies from London Heathrow to Tokyo Narita via Paris or Amsterdam from around £450 return. airfrance.co.uk

MAKE A PASS IN INNSBRUCK

Innsbruck, Austria, has nine ski resorts and, rather conveniently, you only need one lift pass to access all of them. That means you’ll have 300km of pistes at your ski-boot-clad feet, ranging from family-friendly to plenty of more challenging descents. HOW: Crystal Ski Holidays offers a week half-board at the four-star Hotel Grauer Bär in Innsbruck from £685pp based on two sharing, including flights from Gatwick to Innsbruck and transfers. crystalski.co.uk ◆

minnystock | Dreamstime.com

If you’re more take-it-easy than all-outadrenaline, try the chocolate-box village of Ramsau bei Lake Königssee is Berchtesgaden, Germany’s deepest Bavaria. You’ve got lake, and was a cross-country skiing popular hunting area for Bavarian royalty in the meadows for centuries. – complete with picture-perfect views – as well as forest walks and trips to the stunningly clear waters of Lake Königssee. HOW: Inntravel offers seven nights’ halfboard accomodation at Berghotel Rehlegg

from £1,080pp based on two sharing, including transfers and return flights from London. inntravel.co.uk


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POWDER AND THE GLORY The Tarentaise Valley, France, might be home to some of the world's most famous skiing, but we swerve the mega resorts, grab our snow chains and head to a bevy of lesser-known gems – and reap the rewards with a day of bumper powder

830km

Distance from London

W

-2.3°C

Average temp in January

HEN THE POLICE pull us over, we’re struggling. The car is weaving all over the road, fishtailing like a trout being tickled as my friend Pete wrestles with the wheel. “Pull over there,” gestures the gendarme with his hand. We look back at him helplessly: “We’re trying!” Thankfully, Pete isn’t all over the place because he’s drunk, and the police don’t want to breathalyse us. There’s simply so much snow we can’t keep the rental car in a straight line, let alone drive it uphill. “It’s better that you put your snow chains on here,” says the copper when we finally >

1,850+m Above sea level

Words by TRISTAN KENNEDY Kene Ezeji-Okoye

FLYING HIGH: When conditions are right, the Tarentaise is fertile ground for off-piste skiing, and La Rosière [pictured] is a jewel in the valley's crown


TARENTAISE, FRANCE • EXPERIENCES • 47


KEEPING THEIR POWDER DRY: Tristan Kennedy's friend Matt Carr heads out for a day in the powder during their stay in Val d'Isère

> do manage to make it to the side of the road. But, disconcertingly, we’re in the town of Annecy, only 447 metres above sea level, and a long way from our final destination. If we need to put the snow chains on here, what the hell is it going to be like 1,850 metres up the mountain in Val d’Isère? If I’m surprised by the sheer amount of

snow that’s fallen, perhaps I shouldn’t be: this trip is effectively round two. Last season we’d done the same thing – gathered a crew (at the suggestion of my friend and colleague Matt Carr) and when we’d spotted the snow coming, headed out to explore the lesserknown regions of the Tarentaise Valley on touring skis and splitboards. Home to La Plagne, Les Arcs, Tignes and Val d’Isère, the Tarentaise is one of the most famous skiing destinations in the French Alps – or, indeed, anywhere in the world. But alongside these mega-resorts is a clutch of

THE OFF-PISTE WAS A HORRIFIC, CRUNCHING EXPERIENCE THAT SOUNDED LIKE BOTTOMING OUT YOUR CAR OVER A SPEED BUMP

smaller hidden gems, which may not attract the same amount of attention, but which are more than worth a visit – especially on a day of fresh bumper powder. The previous season’s trip took us first to La Rosière, a small, traditional-looking station de ski located just off the road that snakes over the Col du Grand St-Bernard, or Great St. Bernard Pass, and into Italy. It was snowing heavily on the drive up, and we arrived in resort excited about getting stuck into the soft, fluffy white stuff. Unfortunately, though, the next Raoul Blanchard, a morning dawned French geographer who mapped out anything but bright many Alpine regions, – it was absolutely referred to Annecy dumping it down as the "Pearl of the Alps", due to its and we couldn’t location between see a thing. But mountains and lakes. despite the white-out conditions, we spent an entertaining morning tearing through the the blanket of snow that covered every piste. The following day in Sainte Foy was a total write-off, even though the conditions were bluebird and everywhere around us the snow looked pristine. A freakish combination of heavy rain and freezing conditions – on top of masses of snow – had created an inchthick crust of ice on top of ball bearings. Off-piste wasn’t just ill-advised due to the risk of an avalanche, it was positively unpleasant to ride – a horrific, crunching experience that sounded like bottoming out your car over a speed bump, and felt almost as bad. And we fared little better the next day when we headed to Val d’Isère, and consoled ourselves by hitting an après scene that swings from dingy dives hosting punk cover bands to high-end clubs where the champagne starts at €300 a bottle. The following morning, battling through hangovers, we were again treated to a taste of what might have been: the snow was falling, and we had an excellent couple of runs through the trees underneath the Fornet cable car, but we left feeling frustrated. The incredible potential of the riding in the Tarentaise was obvious; we just seemed to be out of luck. Which is why, almost exactly one year later, we find ourselves heading back to Val. And the second time 'round, we hoped, the powder gods would smile on us.


TARENTAISE, FRANCE • EXPERIENCES • 49

“I can’t believe we have to put chains on in Annecy,” says Pete, who’s driven these roads many times before. But with the snow falling thick and heavy, it’s 3am before he finally pulls into the car park in Val d’Isère. It’s feels like a Stakhanovite shift – a journey that was supposed to take two and a half hours has taken us the best part of six. Despite the late arrival, we’re up early doors the following morning – we’re frothing to get out and make the most of the snow that’s still falling. Linking up with Matt and Pete’s friend Kene, a journalist and photographer who’s based here, we head again for the Fornet trees that served us so well at the end of the previous season’s trip. This time we reap our rewards and then some. What the day is lacking in terms of visibility, it more than makes up for in snow quality. And when the snow is dumping, Val d’Isère has some of the best tree runs anywhere in Europe. “We’ve been waiting for this all season,” says Kene. “You guys really brought the weather with you.” After a couple of celebratory après pints in the Blue Note bar, we head down towards Sainte Foy, where we’ll be staying the night. The road from the upper end of the valley

THE ROAD FROM THE UPPER END OF THE VALLEY TO THE BOTTOM SNAKES OUT THROUGH THE TWO MASSIVE CLIFFS to the bottom snakes out through the two massive cliffs at La Daille, which guard the entrance to Val d’Isère like Tolkien’s stone sentinels. From there it winds its way past the lake and the Tignes dam (with its giant Hercules mural) and around a series of switchbacks that give passengers on alternating sides of the car incredible views down into the valley. At night, the lights of distant villages twinkle on impossibly steep hillsides as the shadows of snow-covered trees slip past the windows. Unfortunately we don’t have time to appreciate any of this. Pete, who’s once again at the wheel, used to work as a transfer driver ferrying people to and from the airport to Tignes and Val d’Isère, and he knows these roads like the back of his hand. “I used to shit people up 'round these corners,” he says, proceeding to demonstrate. By the time we get down, I’m

in dire need of a stiff drink. Thankfully, Hôtel Le Monal is among the best places in the Tarentaise to ask for one. Set back slightly from the main road in a small cluster of buildings, it’s the kind of place that package-tour coaches whizz past without a second’s thought, but the locals flock to. Come in here in the morning and you’ll see many of the pisteurs, lifties and resort staff from Sainte Foy and further afield taking their morning coffee. It’s also an excellent place for a wellearned dinner, and the owners put on a lavish spread for us. As we stagger out at the end of the evening, a massive steak and several bottles of wine heavier, Matt >

HARE OF THE FOG: Going off-piste in Val d'Isère involves some unforgivingly steep trails, like this misty one, known as Le Lièvre Blanc (White Hare)

[top left] Tristan Kennedy; [bottom right] Kene Ezeji-Okoye


50 • EXPERIENCES • TARENTAISE, FRANCE

GETTING THERE FLIGHTS EasyJet operates multiple daily flights to Geneva from London airports. easyjet.com ACCOMMODATION We stayed with Crystal Ski (crystalski. com) in both La Rosière (Les Balcons self-catered Apartments) and Val d’Isère (Hôtel Auberge St Hubert). On our second trip we stayed at L’Hôtel Le Monal in Sainte Foy (le-monal.com). GUIDES Evolution 2 offers ski lessons for those of all levels, as well as guiding services throughout the Tarentaise valley and further afield. evolution2.com

SEE THE SNOW FOR THE TREES: As well as some world-class runs, Sainte Foy offers a wealth of rugged off-piste skiing, like this powdery scene

powder almost everywhere we go. By the time we finish our final run, I’m exhausted. It’s only 4pm, but I have a bus and then a flight to catch if I want to make it back for work on the Monday morning. It’s been an intense weekend in pursuit of powder, but it’s been an incredible one. I wave goodbye to Matt and Pete, who are heading on to La Rosière for their final day, completing the previous year’s trip in reverse. As I ride away on the bus, I’m reminded of something one of Colin’s colleagues, Sylvain, had said the previous year. He was talking about Sainte Foy, but it could equally have applied to the whole of the Tarentaise. “I’ve been in many resorts,” he said. “I’ve done many seasons. But the offpiste here blows me away. The accessibility of the terrain off the lift… If you just want to ski, ski, ski, this is the place.” At the time, beaten down by the less-thanideal conditions, we’d had to take him at his word. But now I can see he’s right. We came back, we saw and we shredded. And damn, did the Tarentaise deliver. ◆

THE REST OF THE DAY IS SPENT LAPPING THE TERRAIN OFF LIFTS, FINDING FRESH POCKETS OF POWDER ALMOST EVERYWHERE WE GO

Tristan Kennedy

> lights a cigarette and looks up at the sky. “You can see the stars. Shit, it’s totally cleared! Tomorrow’s going to be bluebird…” Thankfully, the previous evening’s promise outweighs the following morning’s headache, and it’s enough to drag me out of bed before dawn. The sky is crystal-clear, and as we walk back over to Le Monal and revive ourselves with a hearty breakfast, we’re treated to the spectacular sight of the sun breaking over the While Sainte Foy is a Tarentaise, its light small commune that slowly snaking its lacks largesse when way down the valley, it comes to bustling making the new snow nightlife, a plethora of very decent sparkle as it goes. restaurants will see “Today is not going to you through. suck,” says Matt. As fast as Pete is, he’s also a technically excellent driver, and I’m very glad it’s him and not me behind the wheel as we tackle the dauntingly snowcovered slope that leads towards the resort of Sainte Foy proper. This small ski area is truly something special – it has only four lifts, but these offer access to a vast amount of off-piste terrain. There are open faces, narrow couloirs, steep

tree runs and mellow sidecountry hits. Basically, whatever level you happen to be at, if you’re into powder, this place is an absolute paradise. We’re guided by Colin of French ski school Evolution 2 – after the tantalising glimpse of the potential we’d seen the previous year, he’s clearly stoked to be able to show us the goods properly. A short hike takes us up to the top of the Col du Granier, from where we drop into an open powder field filled with windlips to slash, rocks to drop and rollers to boost off. “Holy shit, this is good,” I say, barely able to contain my whoops as we carve down the slope. A few turns through some well-spaced trees, a scramble over a stream and a long run out down a fairly flat path lead us to a tiny village where we encounter several other powder hounds with equally wide grins on their faces. Before long a bus pulls up, and after loading our snowboards and skis on the back, we head up for another go. The rest of the day is spent lapping the terrain off the lifts, finding fresh pockets of


roped_up @ropedupadventures


ALBERTA • EXPERIENCES • 53

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ROCKY ROAD AHEAD Whether it’s vertigo-inducing ice climbing, dog-sledding through the wilderness, or even just hitting the icy roads, taking a trip through the Canadian Rockies in the depths of winter is an adrenaline-inducing adventure

1.61

Canadian dollars to one British pound

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-8°C

Average temperature in November

Y EYES DROOP wearily as I step through the doors and out of Edmonton International Airport, Canada, the past 20 hours a blur of flights, transfers and rubbery airport food. My first lungful of -30°C air is like a knife in my chest, and I pull the collar of my jacket close to my neck as I trudge across the car park. Waiting for me is the enormous Ford Flex that will carry my girlfriend Lilly and me from the city of Edmonton through the wilds of the Canadian Rockies over the next week, taking in the province of Alberta’s spectacular scenery and largely unhospitable weather in the process. >

13 hrs

Direct flight time from London

Words by HUGH FRANCIS ANDERSON Hugh Francis Anderson

CHILL SEEKERS: Hair-raising ice climbing is just one of the adrenalineinducing winter activities on offer in Banff National Park


ICE TO MEET YOU: [main] In winter, you can see how the Icefields Parkway gets its name; [right] Hugh Francis Anderson in the Edmonton Ice Castles

> Lilly slides into the Flex’s cab and cranks the heating up to full, and we watch the frost slowly melt off the windscreen before setting off towards Edmonton. The sheer scale of this land hits us straight away; sixlane motorways, roads lined with fast-food chains, and lorries the size of small houses that rumble by as we make our way through the industrial outskirts of the city. I’m told Edmonton is seeing a year-onyear growth of young professionals, and its

cold industrial gloom is being transformed into a cosmopolitan hubbub of creative minds, trendy bars and adventure seekers. One such young business owner, Chris Tse, meets us early in a chic coffee bar and offers to show us around the city on fat bikes. Snow lies piled high on every street corner, and the bitter cold lingers threateningly in the air, but we soon warm up as we cycle past the Alberta Legislature Building, built in 1913 and the only reference Known to locals as the Ledge, this Beaux Arts-style building is the meeting place for the Legislative Assembly and Execuctive Council, offering free tours.

to the city’s age. Within minutes we’re pulling onto the plethora of cycling, running and cross-country skiing tracks that line the banks of the North Saskatchewan River that flows through the city. Chris explains that Edmonton residents, for the most part, thrive on the easy access to nature, and from the number of joggers, cross-country skiers and cyclists out at this early time, this analysis appears true. Chris takes us further along the river and shows us the Edmonton ice castles, a man-made series of ice walls and roofs constructed out of hundreds of icicles, with numerous tunnels, slides, thrones and walkways; a phenomenal place to behold, and one that attracts people


ALBERTA • EXPERIENCES • 55

blocking my view of the road ahead, and in the distance I can just make out the jagged shape of a looming mountain. As I drive through Jasper National Park, in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, the car teeters on the verge of safety; there’s little to differentiate the road from the wilderness in the nearcomplete whiteout, but I drive onwards with exhilaration. There’s a certain charm to feeling on edge. Lilly yawns – the cold and jet lag are taking their toll – and the gentle glow of Jasper is a welcome sight. We crawl along Connaught Drive, the main road through the town, and pass an array of ’90s-style outdoor stores, whose steps are adorned with woodcarved grizzly bears and miniature totem poles, and whose windows are cluttered with snowshoes, winter jackets and skis. It’s as if we’ve stepped back 25 years. We carefully park amid 4x4s that dwarf our Ford, and from the journey in, it’s clear why vehicles of this size are needed. Our stomachs growl and we settle for dinner in North Face Pizza. As we enter, an ice hockey game flickers on an ancient television, the eyes of the locals within transfixed on the screen before them. Lilly and I exchange a glance in surprise at the small town feel of this place. At our hotel the following morning, I ask a young German waitress why she chose to live in Jasper. “For the access to the outdoors,” she says, “I love nature, and Jasper is the place for it.” In daylight, Jasper is even smaller than I thought, and even more stuck in time. But I like this; I like the remoteness and the feeling of insignificance when surrounded by the Rockies. I also

THE ICE CREAKS AND CRUNCHES, AND THE LIMITED LIGHT CREATES FLICKERING SHADOWS. IT’S AS IF THE CANYON IS MOVING

Hugh Francis Anderson

in their thousands. The sun soon starts to dwindle, snow heavily plummets from the sky, and we hurriedly return our fat bikes and clamber into the Ford; Jasper is calling. Rolling slowly onto the Trans-Canada Highway, the Ford struggles to find grip on the ice beneath it. A howling wind hurls powder from the never-ending snowstorm across the windscreen, momentarily

like the proximity to wilderness activities, and I understand the German waitress immediately. Later that afternoon, a herd of elk ventures down from the surrounding mountains to parade along the high street. It’s magnificent, and again shows the quiet nature of this small town. Over the next few days, we fully explore Jasper’s outdoor pursuits. We partake in an afternoon of

dog-sledding; there’s something intensely charming about being pulled through the silent white wilderness by eight hounds, where all that can be heard is the gentle glide of the sledge. We ski at the nearby Marmot Basin; I have never once skied on such perfect powder snow, and even deep into the afternoon, the snow remains like icing sugar beneath my skis. We also join the Maligne Canyon Icewalk for a late-night trek into the ice-coated gorge, lit only by our head torches. The ice creaks and crunches, and the limited light creates flickering More than 50m shadows. It’s as if the deep, this natural canyon is home to canyon is moving to waterfalls, streams the beat of our step. and plenty of birds “This place is magical and plantlife – making it worth a at night,” says our visit in both winter guide, Chris Krupski, and summer. “The ice feels alive.” Back in the Ford, we leave Jasper and head towards Banff, some 180 miles south along the Icefields Parkway. However, as with most journeys, nothing ever goes to plan. After a heavy blizzard overnight, part of the Icefields Parkway has been closed due to a severe avalanche risk, which means we must drive around the Rocky Mountains and join back >


56 • EXPERIENCES • ALBERTA

HUSKY DO: Dogsledding through a snowy landscape in Jasper National Park, Alberta

> up with it 100 miles further along. We look at the map; it’s a 400-mile detour. And so we leave the beauty of the Rockies and tirelessly plough along the Cowboy Trail for almost six hours, with nothing but grey skies, frozen farmland, and the permanent shadow of the Rockies teasing us to our right. Eventually pulling back onto the empty Icefields Parkway, the road is thick with powder that’s not been cleared. The wheels of the Ford spin wildly and I grip the steering wheel hard in order to stay on the road. It’s both terrifying and thrilling. Mountain peaks penetrate the horizon like a sea of blades, the frozen lakes glisten in the now-bright afternoon sunlight, and snow-covered pines sway in the erratic breeze. The driving is arduous and, if not for Lilly, achingly lonely. It feels as if you’re stuck, isolated, in the remotest corner of the world. Everything changes sharply when you get to Banff: the streets bustle with people, designer stores adorn every street corner, and from the architecture, it’s obvious that this is a wealthy town. Strolling along Banff Avenue, it feels as if you’re in the Alps, maybe Verbier or Val d’Isère, and while I don’t dislike the upmarket atmosphere, I far preferred the remoteness of Jasper. However, I soon discover that Banff National Park hosts some of the finest winter activities in the Rockies; 3,000 acres of skiable terrain at Sunshine Village; the smaller ski resort of Mount Norquay, ; and the entirety of Johnston Canyon, the centre of Rocky Mountain ice climbing. Driving deep into Banff National Park, the sun lies low on the horizon. We are alone on the road. Lilly hollers excitedly; to our right, a bull elk clambers solemnly up a steep bank, momentarily piercing us with his gaze. We pull into Johnston Canyon car park and meet Jess De Montigny, our guide,

and follow him into the gorge. Partway up, Jesse looks at the near-vertical ravine walls. “This ice looks good,” he says, pointing across the gorge, “you’ll get a good feel for ice climbing here.” Lilly nudges me. “What have we got ourselves into?” she says hesitantly. Crampons on, belays and ice axes ready, we take it in turns to ascend the ice. My adrenaline pumps and I breathe hard. Looking down, with nothing but a sheet of ice and air between me and certain death, I smile in both excitement and fear of the unknown. This is what a winter road trip offers; excitement and fear in equal measure. The very nature of any journey pivots on the unfamiliar, and the Canadian Rockies are that very obtainable unknown. ◆

If you’re daring enough to hit the roads of Alberta, you’re in luck, because Bon Voyage offers a nine-night fly-anddrive holiday in Alberta from £1,595 per person. Rates are valid for travel in January or February 2018 and the price includes return Air Canada flights from London Heathrow to Edmonton, returning from Calgary; two nights in Edmonton at the Matrix Hotel; three nights at The Crimson in Jasper; two nights at Sunshine Mountain Lodge in Banff; and two nights at The Fairmont Springs in Banff, plus car hire for the whole duration. The price is based on two adults travelling together and sharing accommodation on a roomonly basis. bon-voyage.co.uk For more information, and to plan your holiday to Alberta, Canada, head to travelalberta.co.uk

Hugh Francis Anderson

THE WHEELS OF THE FORD SPIN WILDLY AND I GRIP THE WHEEL HARD TO STAY ON THE ROAD. IT’S BOTH TERRIFYING AND THRILLING

GETTING THERE


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THESE SHIFTING SANDS Life in the world’s richest country isn’t just luxury resorts, shimmering skyscrapers and preparations for the World Cup. Not quite, anyway. From the dunes to Doha, Qatar is a nation in flux, and we set out to explore every inch

oct-apr

Best time to visit Qatar

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26°C

Average temp in November

F YOU’D COME here last week, none of this would’ve been here,” our driver Abdullah says as he takes us thudding through a hotchpotch valley of rare greenery in the heart of soft-as-you-like sand dunes. “This time last week, it rained for the first time in a year and the wind blew strongly. I know where we are, but it didn’t look anything like this last time I was here.” “Here” is the southern Qatari desert. It’s about midday on a Friday, the first day of just another Arabian weekend, and we’re searching for camels – a whole caravan of them, roaming a long, long way from their Bedouin owner, who’s nowhere to be >

7 hrs

Flight time from London

Words by TOM POWELL PAUL(PIBS)DAVIES / Alamy Stock Photo

NAME THAT DUNE: A convoy of SUVs heading down into Qatar’s southern desert to explore, race and visit amazing sights like the Inland Sea


QATAR • EXPERIENCES • 59


DHOW ABOUT THAT: [clockwise from main] Traditional dhow boats in front of the Doha skyline; the eerie desert highway in the southern Qatari dunes

> seen. So far, we’re out of luck, and a member of our party is starting to look pretty green behind me in the rear seat. For the last hour and a half, we’ve been edging along the pointed crests of huge, dazzling, off-white dunes, snaking our way across salt flats and swerving past sporadic swathes of desert traffic – Jeeps, Hummers, Toyota Land Cruisers and open-top dune buggies, all heading out for a sand-blasted razz to start another weekend’s festivities in the baking heat of the 36°C sun. Navigation out here in the desert is

closer to ‘third dune on the right’ at the best of times, and we’re about five miles away from anything recognisable – no OS, no GPS. We’ve not seen anyone else for at least 25 minutes, having departed the bustling seaside basecamp for the desert some time ago, leaving behind the hordes of traditionally dressed youngsters and families bumping optimistically southward into the open country like Margate-bound revellers who’ve replaced their charabancs and mopeds for white, powerfully airconditioned all-wheel-drive SUV monsters. The stragglers in our convoy have turned off for a camel-free route back to the comfort of the beach camp, leaving us to slug it out with the sand, the potholes and the guys with the humps, wherever they

are. By now, slightly frustrated that the camels aren’t in their usual spot, Abdullah is operating an inward spiral search technique that’s more akin to a TV cop drama than a casual afternoon jaunt; we’re heading into the southernmost reaches of this oil-rich peninsula nation, which pokes out 99 miles north of Saudi Arabia into the Arabian Gulf. But it’s not just the sands that have blown change in Qatar – this is a place where things become less and less recognisable year-onyear. It’s not just new restaurants, hotels and shopping complexes that are springing out of the desert to help sate the ever-more burgeoning trade for stopovers, short luxury breaks and business trips – there are entire new towns, cities and metro lines slowly starting to be carved out of the sand, too.


QATAR • EXPERIENCES • 61

FAMILIES BUMP THEIR WAY SOUTHWARD LIKE MARGATE-BOUND REVELLERS WHO’VE TRADED CHARABANCS FOR MASSIVE SUV MONSTERS

“When I was a child,” Abdullah tells me, “my father used to bring me down to the sea and I’d play on the beach or swim by the Sheraton Hotel. It’d be me, the hotel and then the desert stretching out beyond it, all the way to the horizon. “Today,” he continues, “we have 150 skyscrapers in the country, but by the World Cup in five years, we’ll have nearer 300.” Google the Qatari capital of Doha in the early 1980s and you’ll see just what Abdullah described: the pyramid-form Sheraton Hotel appearing out of the sand like the tip of a gigantic, part-buried ocean liner, the yellow desert rearing back into the distance behind it, met by a single slender road. Today, however, the Sheraton shimmers on the built-up waterfront with an original-

trilogy Star Wars kind of anachronism about it, the marble-adorned foyer and interior looking like a termite mound reimagined by James Dyson. It’s supremely luxurious, of course, but so are most of its neighbours in this, the world’s most wealthy country. So why is it the Sheraton that remains the centrepiece of the lustrous Corniche? The answer: age – or at least that’s what I hear in the reverence every local adopts when they speak of it, or see in the faces of the crowds of people at huge events like the Qatar International Food Festival, which was moved to its lawns this earlier year. Even though it’s only 38 years old – a slip of a lad in comparison to London’s oldest hotel, the 180-year-old Brown’s Hotel in Mayfair – this pyramid, not unlike those in Giza, Egypt, would appear to be a relic to the start of a special new era for the people of Doha: one of prosperity and glamour. It’s far more than this 40-year history that gives Qatar its kicks, though. This is a country that values a deeper, much longeringrained culture, too. You can see it in the thousands of people that make their way to Souq Waqif on a Friday night and the crowds that flock through the doors of the Museum of Islamic Art on a Saturday morning. I go to both, the former a brushed-up bazaar of restaurants and vendors that’s full of everyone from somnambulant tourists plodding through the first few hours of a stopover visit, to purposefully moving families inspecting wares as varied as spices and falcons (yes, falcons) in narrow but immaculately clean alleyways. The latter, meanwhile, is a five-floor walk-through of Islamic art, stretching back across 1,400 years and three continents. Glazed bowls from India, tilework from Iran, enamel-painted glassware from Jordan, surprisingly accurate trading maps of the Mediterranean from over 600 years ago – each darkened room is a step further into the technicolour inner sanctum of Muslim history, adding another layer and level of nuance to what it is to be Qatari today.

But one thing in particular catches my eye: a burnished war mask, immaculately gilded and originally found in the Eastern Caucasus in the 15th century, the discard of some long-departed war lord battling it out on the frontiers of the old Islamic world. A couple of hours later, it’s sitting on my dressing table in the Ritz-Carlton hotel. Not the real mask, I should add, but a gold leaf-covered chocolate version, made by the hotel’s in-house chocolatier and given as a gift when I checked in. And it’s this that really showcases what modern Qatar is about: Luxury, definitely. Heritage, undoubtedly. Audacity, quite possibly. But most certainly, generosity. “People here buy gold Bugattis just because they can,” my guide Jamal says, “but the same people will load up your plate with more food than you could ever eat, because that’s what Qatari hospitality is like. If you’re visiting us, we want you to be at home.” Even though only a little more than 12% of the country’s 2.3 million population is natural-born Qatari, this lavish generosity insinuates itself into all aspects of the country’s culture, from the food served to you at dinner, to the Emir himself, who – as Jamal jokes – the nation hopes is entertaining the notion of buying Manchester United, if only to up the stakes a little against City in the Manchester derby. >


62 • EXPERIENCES • QATAR

SHARQ ATTACK: Sharq Village & Spa is a superluxe, traditional-style resort with dramatic views of the Doha Corniche (and this killer waterfall pool)

WHERE TO STAY IN DOHA THE RITZ-CARLTON DOHA Refurbished this year, this hotel now boasts a top-floor restaurant with live jazz and a marina-view games room that’s also Qatar’s only pub. B&B from £155. ritzcarlton.com SHARQ VILLAGE & SPA Private beach? Traditional lodgings? Infinity pool? Yup, this resort is pretty unique. Eat at Parisa – one of the most authentic Arabian restaurants in Qatar. From £210. ritzcarlton.com/sharqvillage FOUR SEASONS DOHA As if supreme luxury wasn’t enough, the Four Seasons has a quayside Nobu with an outdoor seating area looking back across the Doha skyline. B&B from £240. fourseasons.com/doha SHANGRI-LA HOTEL DOHA Chill in this hotel’s secluded seventhfloor garden oasis right in the heart of the city. It’s complete with a curved outdoor pool and swim-up bar, natch. B&B from £150. shangri-la.com/doha MARSA MALAZ KEMPINSKI A jewel in the Pearl, a luxurious manmade island in the north of Doha, this palatial hotel is full of top restaurants like Levant-inspired Al Sufra. B&B from £510. kempinski.com

Sharq Village & Spa

> But beyond the outward-looking desire to dazzle, Abdullah has a different story to tell. Dropping me back at my hotel after dinner, he says that he’s heading home: “I need to call my father. He’s asked if I need any help with my work. I said no. He’s retired – he needs to look after the family home; I need to show visitors our country.” Tomorrow, he says, they’ll gather for a meal – his parents, his brothers and sisters, their partners and all of their children – many of whom all share a large housing complex built on money granted by the state at marriage. More than 30 under a single roof, they’ll relax (as much as they can given the shrieking of so many children, he says), eat and catch up on what’s happened in the week since they last sat down together. For every new building that challenges the height of the last, every plate of food that tests the notches in my belt, and every aspiration that looks to go further, glitzier, newer or better, there is also family: equally voluminous, equally chaotic as the growing sprawl of Doha, but equally a great source of pride. Back in the desert, we find the camels. Abdullah, clearly well-versed in the art of camel calling, punctuates the calm desert breeze with a sharp “Ay, ay, ay!” at the caravan until one of them approaches, gently lowering his head to our open window, so close we can smell his breath and feel the moistness of his slobber. Satisfied, we’re off – one last stop before we reach the Sealine Beach Camp for

tabbouleh, fattoush and kofte, though: the Inland Sea. After another purposeful 25-minute drive down an incredibly flat desert highway channeled through the dunes by a combination of wind and years of invisible desert traffic, we pull up about 30 yards short of a deep shelf in the sand. “Hop out,” Abdullah says, stepping confidently down onto the sand and into flip-flops. “Take five minutes – you might want to take some pictures.” He’s not wrong. From here, we’re in spitting distance of Saudi Arabia. A heelskidding sprint down a monster dune and we could be swimming across the border and taking a dip in the Inland Sea – the 180km² saltwater creek fed by a 10km-long tidal channel from the Arabian Gulf. This is one of the few too-good-to-be-true sights in this small country that hasn’t been painstakingly crafted by man and bankrolled by oil. Lusail, a new city directly to the north of Doha’s current sprawl, will be a wonder of the other kind. Touted to house another 260,000 people as well as marinas, island resorts, luxury shopping and the Lusail Iconic Stadium – home to the 2022 World Cup final – it’s a prime example of the Qatari approach to construction. Nothing is more important than ambition. I’m watching it come up through the window of the 23rd-floor club lounge at the top of the Ritz-Carlton hotel. A personal chef enters the room, clocking on for the morning shift, offering me pastries, eggs benedict, salad with labneh. The sun rises over the Gulf, expat runners heading out along the Pearl while a bleary-eyed Abdullah sits in the lobby drinking a Red Bull. The Doha Expressway yawns back into frenetic business after a brief, four-hour slumber and somewhere beyond the early morning mist, ground is broken on the stadium, which will play host to the World Cup final in five years’ time. There’s still a lot more to come. ◆ Book transfers tours and activities with Falcon Tours. falcontoursqatar.com; Qatar Airways offers direct daily flights to Doha. qatarairways. com; For more information on holidays to Qatar, go to visitqatar.qa


GERMANY • PROMOTION • 63

PROMOTION

a wonderful christmas time Get this year’s festive season off to a great start by visiting one of Germany’s original Christmas markets. There’s local charm, unique gifts, great food and winter time cheer by the bucketload...

In the four weeks before Christmas, Germany’s town centres are filled with festive magic. The Christmas market tradition dates back to the late Middle Ages and gets more popular each year. Stroll through illuminated streets lined with festive stalls, ride a carousel and listen to carols – all while enjoying authentic seasonal delicacies. For those who are on the hunt for unique gifts, Germany’s markets are the perfect place to start. There’s everything from handmade candles to wooden toys, tree ornaments and hand-painted glass. Germany’s Christmas Markets are also a delight for foodies; whether it’s gingerbread, sizzling bratwurst or mulled wine, you’ll be able to sample many regional specialities.

visitfrankfurt, Holger Ullmann

Frankfurt Look out for Bethmännchen, a pastry made from marzipan, almonds, powdered sugar, rosewater, egg and flour. It’s sold in most chocolate shops in the city centre as well as on the Christmas market. Erfurt and Weimar You can’t visit Thuringia without having a

Thuringian Rostbratwurst. Served in a bread roll, these pork sausages are spiced with marjoram, caraway and garlic. Nuremberg Nuremberg is famous for gingerbread called Elisenlebkuchen, which has been baked there for more than 600 years. These sweet and spicy treats are available with chocolate or sugar coating or decorated with almonds. Rothenburg ob der Tauber Käthe Wohlfahrt’s Christmas Village is world-famous. Open year-round, the shop sells a huge selection of traditional Christmas decorations such as wooden smokers’ figurines and music boxes. It’s also home to the German Christmas Museum.

ABOVE: The centres of many German cities, like Frankfurt, are transformed into illuminated winter wonderlands for four weeks every year

Dresden Dresden plays host to one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets, the Striezelmarkt. Head there to see the world’s tallest nutcracker and the Christmas Pyramid, all in the city’s beautiful Baroque surrounds. ◆ germany.travel

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Stroll through illuminated streets lined with festive stalls, listening to carols as you go


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OSLO, NORWAY • EXPERIENCES • 65

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FJORD FIESTA With access to the sea, beaches, forests and ski parks, the Norwegian capital of Oslo is an outdoor adventurer’s dream – but it’s got great food, shops and buzzing nightlife aplenty, too, says Lydia Winter

2.5 hRs

4°C

Mats Anda/ Getty Images

HIGH JUMP: The formidable ski jump at Holmenkollen, a 40-minute train from the centre

Flight time from London

Average temp in November

10.5 KR

to 1 British pound


DO HIT THE SLOPES

Not only does Oslo have a burgeoning food and drink scene, watersports and incredible natural scenery, but a 40-minute journey on the 1 Frognerseteren train line will take you straight to Oslo Winter Park. Located in Holmenkollen, it boasts an impressive ski slope that you can spy from the city centre. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a relative rookie, it’s got everything from a beginners’ area to a top-of-theline snow park, as well 18 runs over a vertical fall of 381 metres. A city where you can go from mountain to beach in a day? Sounds like our kind of party. oslovinterpark.no

NEED TO KNOW FLIGHTS: Norwegian offers daily flights from London Gatwick to Oslo from £53.80 return. norwegian.com GETTING AROUND: Download the Oslo Bysykkel app and you’ll be able to hire a bike from around £5 for 24 hours at the touch of a button. Alternatively, purchase an Oslo Pass, which gives you access to several museums and free travel in Zones 1 & 2 (£28 for 24h). TRAVEL TIP: Like much of Scandinavia, Oslo can get pretty pricey – especially if you’re partial to a drink or two. Pick up some wine or beer at duty free at Oslo’s airport, and you’ll still be able to have a wallet-friendly nightcap.

OSLO FOOD TOURS

Whether it’s the love-it-or-hate-it brown cheese or reindeer salami, Norwegian cuisine is peppered with unusual ingredients, and a tour with an Oslo native who’s passionate about food is the best way to get to grips with them. We’d recommend Oslo FoodTours.eu’s ‘gourmet’ option, which kicks off in the Mathallen – a factoryturned-food market – before taking you around trendy Grünerløkka to sample everything from sour beers to light bites while your guide talks you through New Nordic Cuisine and Oslo’s history. Be sure to quiz them for their recommendations on where to eat and what to do, and you’ll come away with a whole host of ideas for your trip. About £57. oslo.foodtours.eu

TAKE TO THE WATER

One of the things that sets Oslo apart from most cities is the unfettered access to nature: both fjords and forests lie right on your doorstep. And those fjords mean only one thing: hitting the water, preferably in a kayak. Plan a trip with the pros at Oslo Kayak Tours and you’ll be in safe hands; if you’re pressed for time, opt for the two-to-three hour trip that’ll take you around the small islands and beaches that lie just outside Sjølyst Marina, or go the whole hog with a longer tour that’ll be totally designed around your previous experience and preferences. There are options to go cliff jumping, too, if you’re brave enough. It’s the best way to get a totally different perspective of the city. About £81. oslokayaktours.no


OSLO, NORWAY • EXPERIENCES • 67

David Ryle / Getty Images


NORTHERN EUROPE MEDITERRANEAN | CARIBBEAN ALASKA | CANADA & NEW ENGLAND | HAWAI’I

BOOK YOUR PREMIUM ALL INCLUSIVE CRUISE NOW AT NCL.CO.UK OR SEE YOUR LOCAL TRAVEL AGENT

EAT AND DRINK HANDWERK BOTANISK

Want to sample the fiery Scandinavian spirit akvavit? Himkok’s the place, as it’s not only a super cool drinking den but a distillery that produces its own akvavit, gin and vodka. Enter through a discreet door just off Stroget Passajen and you’ll find yourself in a courtyard with a cider bar, but venture up the stairs and you’ll discover an atmospheric cocktail lounge with hipster bartenders and pounding music. You can also pop into the in-house barber shop Pels Pels and sip an old fashioned while your beard gets a trim. Storgata 27, 0184. himkok.no

Grådi

*Lowest available price per person for the respective category. Discounts valid for new bookings from 1st September to 30th November 2017 and applicable for all 5+ days cruises worldwide in 2017/2018. Savings: £50 for a Studio, £100 for an Inside or Oceanview, £200 for a Balcony Stateroom or higher category. Reduced Deposit £50 is applicable to new bookings only made between by 30th November 2017 of a Mini Suite and categories below. Discounts are per stateroom based on double occupancy and valid for the 1st & 2nd person. Single occupancy discounts may vary, excluding Studios. Norwegian Joy sailings are excluded from this offer.Offer is limited, subject to availability and combinable with selected specials. **Including all Premium All Inclusive services at a value of more than £1,200 per stateroom (based on a 7-day cruise in stateroom categories up to Mini Suite and the current retail prices charged on board as well as the applicable discretionary service charge). Please refer to terms and conditions. Errors and omissions accepted. ©2017 NCL Corporation Ltd. Ship’s Registry: Bahamas and United States of America. 35369.10.17

Sweet and fudge-like Norwegian brown cheese – made by caramelising the whey leftover from making goat’s milk – is an absolute must-eat in Oslo, especially when it comes on a hunk of homemade sourdough bread from this cute café in the botanical gardens. If that doesn’t tickle your fancy, try one of the pastries or drop by for an early dinner after a leisurely stroll around the park. Sarsgate 1, 0562. handwerk.no

HIMKOK


OSLO, NORWAY• EXPERIENCES • 69

NORTHERN EUROPE MEDITERRANEAN | CARIBBEAN ALASKA | CANADA & NEW ENGLAND | HAWAI’I

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BAR LARDO

Oh we do love a whiskey sour, and the ones at the casual and unpretentious Bar Lardo are no exception. Made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, they’ll set you back a pretty penny – but we can tell you now it’s definitely worth it. As is the resulting headache after one too many. This is also the place to try natural wine – or ‘hipster juice’ as it’s referred to in Norway – while sampling some utterly delicious morsels of snacky, charcuterie-led bar food that will help soak up all that wonderful booze. Møllergata 38A, 0172. barlardo.no

GRÅDI

Everything about Grådi [pictured] screams Scandi cool. Even the dishes are ridiculously attractive, like the duck, served on potato flour wraps with bright-pink cabbage and slices of mango. The bistro, which takes its name from the word for greedy, melds local produce with international ideas, serving plates of halibut ceviche with watermelon salsa; steak with chimichurri and salty side fat; and potato salad with crispy fried capers. If you sit there long enough, some of that Scandi cool might just rub off on you, too. Sørligata 40, 0651 2016

2016

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Caribbean's Leading WORLD‘S CruiseLEADING Line LARGE SHIP CRUISE LINE 2012 – 2016 www.worldtravelawards.com


70 • EXPERIENCES • OSLO, NORWAY

STAY AIRBNB

Oslo might not be the cheapest destination, but booking a chic Airbnb is a way to avoid spending a bomb. If you’re a night owl, bag yourself a flat in trendy Grünerløkka – Løkka to locals – and you’ll be right in the heart of the action. If you’re more outdoorsy than outré, look to forested Bygdøy, while in winter, skiers should head north to Holmenkollen for snow-covered slopes. airbnb.com

THE THIEF

Dark and sexy glamour is the name of the game at The Thief, which down in Oslo’s harbour: expect velvet throws, discrete lighting, perfectly squidgy pillows and a bed so comfortable it feels a bit like lying in a giant pudding. But there’s more to do here than just sleep: there are two rooftop bar/ restaurants and a spa if you’re really looking to push the boat out. Oh, and don’t forget the breakfast buffet, bursting with with organic homemade jams, breads and more. From £261. Landgangen 1, 0252. mrandmrssmith.com

OSLO GULDSMEDEN

This boutique, eco-friendly hotel is a proper home-away-from-home – if your home is lavender-scented and sweetly luxurious. Think goatskin rugs, a roaring fire, snuggly duvets, and rooms [pictured] full of little touches that’ll have you feeling hyggelig in no time. This place prides itself on being about care from the inside out, so make sure you stop by the restaurant for some delicious organic food and drink, including bread that’s made specially by a local bakery. From £85. Parkveien 78, 0254. Guldsmedenhotels.com


ELLIS BRIGHAM • COMPETITION • 71

WIN

COMPETITION

winter wishlist Enter to win £400 to spend on the very best kit for winter pursuits from expert outdoor outfitters Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports

Established in 1933, family-owned Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports is the UK’s leading outdoor, ski and snowboard store. The team aim to make your next adventure the best yet. Whether it’s walking in national parks, trail running, skiing or snowboarding in the Alps or exploring the world’s most vibrant cities, you won’t find a better place to kick-start your journey with some of the finest gear on the market. Visit any one of the four Ellis Brigham Mountain Sports stores in London and you’ll find the world’s best outdoor, ski and snowboard brands, as well as a team keen to help you kit yourself out for your adventure.

To celebrate the launch of the new winter range now available at Ellis Brigham, we’ve teamed up with them to offer you the chance to win a £400 gift card to spend on whatever you like. The new range contains everything you need for a winter spent outdoors, including the latest jackets from Arc’teryx and The North Face, and pieces from hundreds more brands such as Berghaus and Patagonia. If you’re a fan of snowsports, then you will love the brand-new range of skis, snowboards and accessories from the likes of Burton and Salomon that will ensure you hit the slopes in style. ◆ For more information: ellis-brigham.com

whether it’s trail running or skiing, you won’t find a better place to kick-start your journey

how to win win a £400 gift card to spend at Ellis Brigham Whether you’re heading into the mountains or just getting ready to face a cold winter in the city, getting a full stash of new, high-tech winter-weather gear never hurt anyone. That’s why we’ve teamed up with mountain experts Ellis Brigham to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a £400 gift card to spend on anything they like, whether that’s in-store at one of Ellis Brigham’s 24 UK shops, or on online at ellis-brigham.com. To be in with a chance of winning this prize, all you have to do is answer one simple question. Head to escmag.co/ellisbrigham to enter.


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BARBADOS

In association with


BARBADOS • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 73

INSIDER’S GUIDE

ISLAND ESSENTIALS When a country gets more than 3,000 hours of sunshine every year, you’d be forgiven for thinking it’s just a place for lounging on a very beautiful beach. But on the Caribbean island of Barbados, there’s much, much more – and that’s what we want you to discover. We’ve compiled a guide to making the most of a holiday to Barbados, whether that’s immersing yourself in local culture at one of its famous street parties, getting a taste of the sweet national spirit at a local rum shop, or hearing about the history this incredible island’s built on in the capital, Bridgetown. Take it from us: the beach is just the tip of the straw in your rum punch. Read on to find out how to max your holiday… For more information: visitbarbados.org

Surfing at Bathsheba St. Lucy

St. Peter St. Andrew

Oistins Fish Fry

St. James

St. Joseph St. Thomas

St. John

St. George

Batts Rock

St. Philip St. Michael Bridge Town Christ Church


SPOTLIGHT BARBADOS

the life and soul of the party Whether you’re sitting on a beach, kicking back in a rum shop or tucking into a delicious meal, one thing stands out in Barbados: its people. Warm, friendly and always up for a party, they’ll make you feel like a local as soon as you arrive

Yes, Barbados is well-known for its powder-soft beaches and dazzling blue sea, but that’s only half the reason it’s at the top of so many people’s holiday bucket lists. The thing that really keeps people coming back year after year is the islanders themselves. From the moment you step off the plane, you’ll be made to feel so welcome that you won’t want to leave. The Bajan people are famously courteous, thoughtful and generous, so don’t be surprised if you’re greeted by a flood of good mornings, good afternoons and goodnights during your stay. This genuine friendliness stems from a rich local culture that brings together British, African and West Indian influences – so it’s no surprise that Barbadians love a good party. From the music to the dancing and the incredible outfits, Barbados’s brilliantly

colourful street parties are legendary, not to mention being one of the best ways to immerse yourself in the local culture, so grab yourself a cocktail and get ready to join in. Two to look out for are Crop Over – a non-stop, six-week carnival that celebrates the sugar cane harvest – and the Food & Rum festival. If you’re a rum fan, this weeklong party is an event you won’t want to miss

From the music and dancing to the incredible outfits, Barbados’ parties are truly legendary

as it’s the best place to sample Barbados’s caramel-hued national spirit. This year, food is at the forefront thanks to gastronomic safaris with chefs like the acclaimed JeanGeorges Vongerichten and Tom Aikens. You’ve probably guessed by now that Bajan society has a deep-rooted love of entertaining and socialising – so it’s inevitable that food and cooking play a large part in local culture. Barbados has everything from street food to fine dining, and it was the first and remains the only Caribbean island to be rated by the prestigious Zagat guide. There are more than 100 restaurants for you to choose from, bringing together a delicious mix of North American, European, West African and Asian influences. As you’d expect from an island nation,


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INSIDER’S GUIDE

how to do rum right in barbados a rum-lover’s guide hang out in a rum shop The island’s rum shops are the beating heart of its culture – a place where serious drinking and talking gets done – and no visitor to the island should leave without visiting one. There are nearly 2,000 in total so finding one isn’t hard, though our favourite is John Moore bar in Weston – sat on the Platinum Coast’s pure white sand, it’s as friendly and welcoming as it gets. get schooled at mount gay A history lesson goes down a hell of a lot easier with a rum punch in your hand – as you’ll discover at the home of the island’s best-known rum, Mount Gay. The visitor centre’s located just outside Bridgetown, and is the perfect place to find out about the past and present of rum in Barbados from the brand that started it all. see the rum-making process Venture to the north of the island and you can see a real rum-making rarity: a place where everything’s done on site. At St Nicholas Abbey, they grow their own sugar cane, distill the spirit from its juice, and age it – all in the grounds of this historic, family-owned plantation house.

fresh seafood is high on the menu. Try local delicacies like flying fish, swordfish, tuna, lobster and shrimp, as well as the national dish, cou cou, made with okra and cornmeal and served with fried flying fish – which tastes even better washed down with plenty of local Banks beer at a beach shack. Elsewhere, there’s plenty of heritage to discover, and there’s nowhere better to get your geek on than the capital, Bridgetown. Here you’ll find the historic architecture of the Nidhe Israel Synagogue – the oldest Jewish synagogue in the Western Hemisphere – and the Parliament Buildings. And if all you want to do is kick back on the white-sand beaches and gaze out at the turquoise ocean, we don’t blame you one bit. After all, Barbados is your island, too. ◆

make your own rum punch The rum punch is so embedded in the fabric of Barbados life that the recipe has its own rhyme: ‘One of sour, two of sweet, three of

strong, four of weak. A dash of bitters and a sprinkle of spice, serve well chilled with plenty of ice.’ Got that? Good. So here’s how you make it: take one part lime juice, two parts simple syrup, three parts Bajan rum, four parts water, and mix them in an icefilled glass with a dash of Angostura bitters and a sprinkle of freshly grated nutmeg. All you have to do now is drink…


SPOTLIGHT BARBADOS

the island hit list Whatever you’re into, you’ll never run out of things to do in Barbados. Here are ten essentials for your island itinerary

We’ve already told you about Barbados’s vibrant and distinctive local culture, but there’s plenty more to discover on the island, too. Some, like the legendary Friday night fish fry at Oistins, will probably be on your island to-do list already, while others – like Barbados’s many beautiful bike routes – are lesser-known gems just waiting for you to discover them. 1. Get sea views with sea creatures Right at the very northern tip of Barbados you’ll find the Animal Flower Cave – an ocean cave with rock pools, some deep enough to swim in, filled with colourful sea anemones. The cave walls feature incredible green and brown rock formations, as well as openings in the rock that let you peer out over the island’s wild and rocky north coast.

that anyone can visit, and you’ll be glad you did when you spot a jewel-coloured hummingbird or see monkeys playing in the treetops. There’s a café, too, where they serve up simple but delicious Bajan food. 4. Get on your bike You might be surprised to learn Barbados is a great place to go cycling, but its great weather, incredible scenery and good road network make it a perfect destination for two-wheeled adventures. Test yourself on rugged off-road trails, or take a lazy, sunny pedal on a scenic

2. Kick back and get ripped at the same time Some of us like to stay active on holiday, while some of us would rather kick back and relax. But for exercise that ticks both those boxes, try yoga paddle boarding, where you’ll be able to stretch out the aches and pains of everyday life. We can’t guarantee you’ll come back with rock-hard abs, but it might help you work off a few of those rum punches. 3. See monkey business among the flowers What started as Iris Bannochie’s family garden, in the east-coast village Foster Hall, got a little out of hand. The Andromeda Botanical Gardens are now a tropical haven

At the oistins fish fry, local favourites like mahi-mahi are cooked right in front of you

route that’ll give you a completely different perspective of the island. 4. Go to prison (don’t worry, you’ll like it) The Barbados Museum is housed in a 19thcentury military prison, which just so happens to be a Unesco World Heritage Property. That


BARBADOS • INSIDER’S GUIDE • 77

INSIDER’S GUIDE

makes it a pretty special place to learn about the island’s history, culture and heritage – plus the excellent shop is perfect for stocking up on souvenirs and gifts to bring home, including prints, books and antique maps. 5. Get a really good grilling from the locals If it’s Friday night in Barbados, that means it’s time to hit the Oistins Fish Fry. The south coast fishing town becomes a hive of grilling activity, where you can get your chops around everything from mahi-mahi to flying fish, all cooked right in front of you. 6. Make waves at Bathsheba Beachlife on Barbados is all about relaxing in the tropical sun, right? Well, yes, but it’s also a great place to surf. The Soup Bowl at Bathsheba, on the island’s east coast, is one

of its best known spots, and when the big Atlantic swell is in, so’s your luck. 7. Join the best party on the planet You can’t say you know Bajan culture until you’ve been to Crop Over festival, an annual six-week party celebrating the sugar cane harvest. It’s been running for close to 40 years in its current format, but its origin can be traced as far back as the 17th century. 8. Hit the Kensington Oval (for six) Go to any rum shop in Barbados and you can bet someone will be shooting the breeze about cricket. To get up to speed, head to Bridgetown and visit the Cricket Legends Museum, or stop in at the Kensington Oval, which hosted the World Cup in 2007. Look out for live matches throughout the year.

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Tone up and de-stress with yoga paddle boarding; catch some waves with friends; don’t miss Oistins Fish Fry on Fridays

9. Go on safari Ok, so you’re not going to see lions, elephants or giraffes on a Barbados Island Safari. This 4x4 tour does, however, give an incredible insight into lesser-seen (by tourists, at least) parts of the island, from historic buildings to the booming surf of the Atlantic coast. 10. Get a deeper insight into the island If you thought Barbardos’ crystal-clear blue waters were stunning from above, try going below with an Atlantis Submarines tour. Visit shipwrecks, see huge shoals of fish, or take a night dive for an offbeat romantic treat. ◆


SPOTLIGHT BARBADOS

the main events Whatever time of year you visit Barbados you’ll find world-class events and festivals to enjoy. Here’s our pick of the very best

the holetown festival When English settlers landed at Holetown in 1627, Barbados became a British colony. This annual eight-day festival commemorates the important event with carnivals, talks and food.

mount gay round barbados race The island’s best sailors are pitted against one another in a historic race that dates back t0 1936.

jan

feb APR

sugar & rum season Discover the history of rum and its huge part in the heritage of Barbados in this two-month celebration of the sugar-based spirit. There’ll be plenty of distillery tours, one-off hosted dinners and more.

feb

OK Dinghy world championships Combine a champagne yacht event with an incredible holiday, watching 100 sailors compete for a world title.

mar

may

july

Sandy lane gold cup If you’re into horse racing, this is definitely the event for you. For one day only, the island welcomes the world’s best jockeys for the biggest equine event in the eastern Caribbean.

crop over Arguably the most important event in the Bajan calendar, this six-week festival celebrates the all-important sugar cane harvest with street parties.


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INSIDER’S GUIDE

Getting there

festival of speed Petrolheads won’t want to miss the opportunity to rub shoulders with the stars while seeing all kinds of high-octane action at this annual celebration of everything with an engine.

oct

run barbados marathon weekend Whether you’re a runner or a spectator, this is undeniably the Caribbean’s biggest and most important road race.

nov

[main] 2008 Michael Grimm; [far left] Ricky Redman; [top middle right] Himal Reece

food and rum festival Tantalise your tastebuds with a series of events celebrating the best of Barbadian cuisine that’s cooked by world-renowned chefs – topped off with plenty of local rum, of course.

dec

Want to sample Barbados’s incredible seafood, stunning beaches and unique culture for yourself? With a new, twice-weekly direct flight route from London Heathrow to Barbados launching with Virgin Atlantic in December, getting there has never been easier. It’s the only direct flight from London Heathrow to Barbados – and it’s arriving just in time to make a Caribbean Christmas a reality. The flights will operate on Tuesdays and Saturdays as part of the winter schedule – that adds up to 11 flights a week to Barbados from three major UK airports: London Gatwick, London Heathrow and Manchester. Flights are on sale now, so get booking. For more information and to book your flights, go to virginatlantic.com/barbados

dec

wBack for a second year, this epic weekend event sees world-class rugby, Segway polo and more.

VISITBARBADOS.ORG


ZENITH WATERPROOF JACKET A perfect mid-weight soshell, the Zenith is a tough piece of kit for trail junkies

New 2017 Autumn Winter range now available Winter can be a time for building up base miles for the season ahead, but equally can be an opportunity to take saturated trails, improving your skill set and providing unique riding conditions. Charge your lights, layer up and embrace all that winter brings. The season isn’t over, it’s only just begun.

WWW.MADISON.CC


EXCURSIONS

83 Jay Dash Photography

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The Checklist

Utah, USA 106

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The Intrepid Series

The Selector ◆

Rear View


GENEVA GRENOBLE LYON SALZBURG FROM LONDON STANSTED FROM

£25 *Price one way inc. taxes. Selected flights only, subject to availability. Correct at time of print, October 2017.


THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 83

CHECKLIST

IN ASSOCIATION WITH JET2.COM

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F YOU CAN’T be trusted to shop alone for fear of buying duff gear, maxing your credit card or accidentally dropping your whole paycheck on a diamanté-studded onesie, you’ve come to the right place, because you won’t do any of those things here. This is The Checklist, where escapism becomes your own personal shopper, kitting you out for whatever the world throws at you. This month, we bring you our buyer’s guide to the latest in ski, snowboard and après gear. It’s fine, you can thank us later. ◆

With up to 11 weekly departures from London Stansted to four incredible ski destinations, Jet2.com gives you access to the best slopes in Europe. Fancy going for free? You’re in luck, because we’ve teamed up with Jet2.com to give away two return flights to Geneva this winter. Enter at escmag.co/jet2


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THE CHECKLIST Winter is coming. No, not the one Jon Snow won't shut up about, the actual one. The one that's fun, snowy and jam-packed with gnarly downward gradients. Anyway, here's all the gear you need to get yourself through it...

◀ ARC'TERYX SHASHKA PANT, £380: There'll be

no more wet bums with these soft-shell Gore-Tex® shoulderstrap trousers. arcteryx.com

▼ DRAGON

ALLIANCE X2 REALM GOGGLES, £185:

With smart technology, these goggles handle changeable conditions with ease. dragonalliance.com ◀ EIDER

TWIN PEAKS HOODIE, £199.95: It’s

packable, warm and reversible to yellow. Why have one when you can have two? eider.com

▶ PICTURE ORGANIC CLOTHING

LANDER PRINT JACKET, £239.99:

Vibrant, warm, a-ok. picture-organicclothing.com

◀ STANCE

NOW SOCKS, £19.32:

More than just a pretty pattern, extra padding means these socks will lessen the fatigue of a day on the slopes. stance.com


THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 85

ALL THE GEAR, SNOW IDEA Dressing for the slopes is a tricky affair: you need technical wizardry like waterproofing and breathability, but you don't want to look like a total melon while you're at it. Luckily for you, this winter we've put the shift in so you don't have to. Here are a few essentials that are just as good for black-run bombing as they are for the après party in the evening. Santé, folks.

▲ THE NORTH FACE

STEEP SERIES RESPIRATOR MID-LAYER JACKET, £115: Skin

the peak at a pace in this fast-wicking, mid-layer fleece top. thenorthface.co.uk ◀ SUUNTO

SPARTAN SPORT WRIST WATCH HR BARO, £465: Altitude

and fitness tracking to keep you on top. suunto.com

◀ SALOMON

VISION GTX GLOVES, £90: Gore-Tex®

gloves: great when it comes to carves, falls – and snowballs, too. ellis-brigham.com

▼ PEAK PERFORMANCE VOLCAN SKI ANORAK JACKET, £720:

Style and function slays the backcountry. peakperformance.com

▲ OAKLEY

FALL LINE PRIZM SNOW GOGGLES, £170: The Califor-

nian brand's PRIZM® technology enhances contrast, so you can focus on the ride. oakley.com

▲ QUIKSILVER

Washington State, these socks are mega-soft and made for the mountains. stance.com

you didn't know you needed a neoprene radio holder in your bag. You do now. quiksilver.co.uk

WHITMORE SOCKS, £14.49: Inspired by

TR PLATINUM SNOW BACKPACK, £105: Bet

CHECKLIST

▲ STANCE


FROM HEAD TO TOE Let's be honest, no-one enjoys slipping into strong-smelling rental boots and (potentially) lice-ridden snow helmets. The good news? You don't have to. Not with these sleek new offerings on show, anyway. Mountains? What mountains? Those are just pretty little hills.

▶ SMITH

MAZE HELMET, £99.99: Sleek, mini-

mal design moulded into the world's lightest certified snow helmet. smithoptics.com

▶ SWEET PROTECTION IGNITER MIPS HELMET, £180:

Super-tough rubber and adjustable vents equals pure comfort. ellis-brigham.com

▶ ANON.

PRIME MIPS HELMET, £185: Three

things – durability, breathability and all-out sexiness. ellis-brigham.com

CHECKLIST

▼ NORDICA

ENFORCER 100 SKIS, £520: Progressive, no

nonsense construction makes for great all-condition skis. ellis-brigham.com

▲ BLIZZARD

BLACK PEARL 88 SKIS, £450: Turn

with elegance and zip through bumps with these beautiful blue women's skis. ellis-brigham.com

▶ FULL TILT

DROP KICK BOOTS, £330: If you're look-

ing for more control while out freestyling, hop into these. ellis-brigham.com


THE CHECKLIST • EXCURSIONS • 87

◀ HEAD

▶ FISCHER

responsive and built with graphene, this women's ski is super-lightweight. ellis-brigham.com

Conquer the slopes with these easy-on, adaptable-soled women's boots. ellis-brigham.com

ABSOLUT JOY SKIS, £430: Stable,

MY RC PRO 90 VACUUM BOOTS, £280:

▲ SALOMON

XDR 80 SKIS, £560:

▲ ATOMIC

HAWX PRIME 100 BOOTS, £290: Ideal

for advanced onpiste skiiers, these classics flex well for better balance. atomic.com

Want an easy-steering all-rounder? Look no further than this slick offering from Salomon. salomon.com

▶ FACTION

◀ ATOMIC

through the backcountry with these carbon-enhanced, all-mountain killers. factionskis.com

extra sidewall to improve grip, these skis are smooth on all types of snow. ellis-brigham.com

PRIME 3.0 SKIS, £879: Arc your way

VANTAGE 90 CTI SKIS, £430: With an


88 • EXCURSIONS • THE CHECKLIST

CHECKLIST CHECKLIST Introduced back in 1979, the Danner Light boot still looks like something from the golden age of backpacking, but it's now fitted with waterproof Gore-Tex®, grippy Vibram soles and fibreglass shank supports.

BRAWN IN THE USA DANNER

LIGHT KHAKI BOOTS, £302.99: Blending classic style with state-of-the-art modern technology, these might just be the ultimate après boots. danner.com


ACCESS OVER 500 AMAZING SKI RESORTS FROM LONDON STANSTED GREAT

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*Charges apply, see Jet2.com for details. Correct at time of print, October 2017.

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90 • EXCURSIONS • THE KIT LIST

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THE KIT LIST Sn owb oa r d s

NIDECKER GUN, £540: The word ‘weapon’ comes to mind when you look at this board. Tame it, and you’ll never want to ride anything else again. nidecker.com

Need a new board this winter? Put your best foot forward with these picks from the snowboarding gurus at Whitelines, who’ve tested tons of new-season gear and named their 100 hottest products. Read it in full at whitelines.com

DC

SPACE ECHO, £410:

On the surface it may seem like a throwback, but there’s nothing at all old-fashioned about this board. dcshoes.com

ROXY

TORAH BRIGHT, £495: Designed

with seasoned pro Torah Bright, this women’s snowboard is uber-precise while also being forgiving. roxy.com ROME

WHITE ROOM, £600: Head off the

beaten track on this splitboard that’ll let you rip and blast your way through the steep and deep. romesnowboards.com


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Innsbruck: Heart of the alps For a unique blend of festive folklore and sensational outdoors action both on piste and off, look no further than Innsbruck, the glorious ski-city that’s the proud capital of Austria’s Tirol region As soon as you set foot in Innsbruck, you’ll realise you’re in a place that’s best visited at Christmas, and no matter how you decide to spend your time – whether it’s on the slopes, or at one of the city’s six Christmas markets, you’re sure to get straight into the spirit. As well as the markets that run from 15 November through to 6 January, Innsbruck’s

cultural calendar is packed with unique events, the most exciting of which is the traditional St. Nicholas and Krampus processions, which take place every year from 3-7 December. During that time, the whole region is full of masked, devilishlooking Krampus figures who put on aweinspiring fire shows, and march through the historic centre of the city.

Innsbruck Tourismus

innsbruck’s cultural calendar is packed with unique festive events, and snow is guaranteed

But it’s not just the festive magic that makes Innsbruck so exciting in winter – the snow scene is one of the best in Europe, too. This beautiful ski-city is the perfect base for exploring top resorts like Kühtai – a winter wonderland set 2,020m above sea level that’s guaranteed snow between December and May every year. While you’re sure to love the healthy air, uncrowded pistes, incredible slopestyle park and amazing superpipe at Kühtai, the resort is actually just one of nine that you can access with a single Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck pass. So why not use Innsbruck as your base to see it all? With slopes, events and tons of festive fun, there’s nowhere better to visit in winter than the capital of the Alps. ◆ For more information, visit innsbruck.info


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Share a stroll this winter Off-Peak Make the most of your trip with our itinerary ideas. #SEhiddengems

Book train tickets and full T&Cs at southeasternrailway.co.uk/winter From left to right: Westgate Gardens, Hastings Pier, Deal Pier, Tunbridge Wells Common.


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Feel free on a cruise Norwegian Cruise Line’s new Premium All Inclusive concept means that holiday budgeting has never been easier, and travelling the seas in style on the ultimate getaway is more achievable than ever before

[main] Jim Erickson/ NCL Unlimited Usage; [boat] Danny Lehman/NCL Unlimited Usage

Taking to the high seas on a cruise is the ultimate way to get away from it all, providing an escape and true sense of freedom with nothing more to consider than your next port of call. And thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line’s Premium All Inclusive package, that sense of freedom has become even bigger. Not only does the new concept elevate your cruise experience to new heights, but it also makes holiday budgeting even easier as there’s so much more on offer – at no extra cost. Your cruise fare includes: ◆◆ A wide choice of premium alcoholic drinks ◆◆ Soft drinks and bottled water ◆◆ Award-winning entertainment ◆◆ Casual dining 24/7 ◆◆ Service charge and gratuities

◆◆ Selected speciality coffees with meals ◆◆ Junior and youth programmes ◆◆ Fun aqua parks, modern sports facilities,

ropes courses and more. In addition, Haven guests receive: ◆◆ A gourmet dining package ◆◆ 250 minutes of WiFi per suite ◆◆ $100 on-board spending money per suite One step ahead Norwegian Cruise Line has long been an innovator in the cruise industry, and the Premium All Inclusive package is changing the face of holidays at sea entirely. See the world in style without having to do more than simply book yourself a ticket… ◆ Find out more at ncl.co.uk

norwegian cruise line’s premium all inclusive concept is changing the face of holidays at sea entirely

new ship ahoy Norwegian Bliss is the newest member of Norwegian Cruise Line’s fleet, and is set to cruise Alaska and the Caribbean seasonally starting September 2018. Designed to the highest cruise liner specifications, you can expect an unrivalled on-board experience including stunning observation decks, an aqua park, spa facilities and an incredible array of bars and restaurants. For more information, see bliss.ncl.com


Malta: Sunshine state of mind With amazing heritage and over 300 days of sun a year, good times are guaranteed in Valletta, Malta – European Capital of Culture 2018

With incredible culture, yearround sun and a vibrant capital city that’s brimming with history and old town charm, Malta is the perfect destination for the British traveller looking to escape the cold, frenetic streets of London this winter. What’s more, at just a three-hour flight from London, you won’t have to travel for long to experience a city that was the sunniest in Europe in 2016. Malta’s capital city of Valletta is compact, full of English-speaking locals and very easy to explore on foot. It’s also full of amazing things to see, from the grand baroque architecture and stunning ornate interiors of its centrepiece, St John’s Co-Cathedral,

to historic streets that are the perfect, easygoing blend of holiday shopping and fascinating cultural heritage. While you’re there, you’ll be able to kick your feet up in cool boutique palazzos throughout the city, each of which has something unique on offer, from modern rooms to roof terraces and pools. You’ll be equally amazed by the streets around your hotel, too – the city’s nightlife is good, but it really comes into its own with its dining options, the best of which you’ll find on the scenic waterfront. Whether you fancy delicious Mediterranean food in a converted 18th-century warehouse at Harbour Club, fresh seafood at Michael’s or simply want to soak up the ocean views from the comfort of an armchair at Panorama Restaurant, in Valletta the choice is yours, and chances are you’ll have your eyes on beautiful buildings and scenery, as well as the top-notch food on the end of your fork. Speaking of which, the entire historic centre of the Maltese capital is a Unesco world heritage site, from the stunning Barrakka Gardens to the Hastings Gardens and the gorgeous Grand Harbour, where you’ll feel at ease watching boats come and go on the shimmering Mediterranean stretching out in front of you. It’s all of this and much more that’s helped win Valletta the title of European Capital of Culture 2018. As well as wide-reaching investment in the capital and beyond, the city

Kick your feet up in sensational boutique boltholes and dine on valletta’s gorgeous harbourside

CLOCKWISE FROM ABOVE: Set on the Mediterranean coast, Malta’s capital is compact and beautiful; much of Valletta is Unesco-listed

of Valletta will see more events and festivals than ever before in the coming months, in an already packed cultural calendar that takes in everything from music festivals and fashion shows to carnivals and literary readings. What’s more, the capital ranked 1st place on the Europe Rainbow Index in 2016 and


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2017, making it the continent’s most LGBTfriendly destination, too. With all this and more, Valletta is the perfect destination for a short-haul city escape that promises a spot of winter sun, as well as great food and cool history. It really comes into its own at Christmas time, too – because when festive season starts in Valletta, the city becomes home to plenty of beautiful nativity scenes, displays, and candlelit carol services, each of which brings a unique festive spirit to the streets.

No matter what time of year you’re looking to get away, or whether you fancy staying a little longer to see the islands of Gozo and Comino, too – just make sure you head across to Malta. ◆

need to know discover more about malta If you want to find out more about Valletta, Malta or any of the amazing European Capital of Culture 2018 celebrations, head to maltauk.com, follow @VisitMaltaUK on Facebook and Twitter or visit youtube.com/user/malta


Real Americas Real Adventure

We offer the widest range of small group tours in the USA and Canada, along with adventures in Central and South America. With us, you won’t just see the sights, you’ll experience the real destination. Hike magnificent trails in ever-changing scenery, try new activities you never thought possible and encounter wildlife, up close and personal. Discover the Americas like never before, travelling with the Experts.

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CONTACT OUR TEAM 0333 222 8124 Image: Angels Landing, Zion National Park


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ELCOME TO THE Intrepid Series, the part of escapism where we put our writers to the test, forcing their minds, bodies and souls (maybe) through whatever it takes to get the biggest, boldest, most epic story possible. This month, Matt Barr hits the scenic state of Utah, USA taking on the fierce terrain of red rock canyons and treacherous mountain passes in every way imaginable. Foot, car, bike, skis – you probably get the picture, so turn over the page and dive in. ◆

A specialist in small-group tours of the most exciting cities, national parks and wilderness areas of North, South and Central America, Grand American Adventures is famous for its incredible itineraries, great-sized groups and homegrown tour leaders. This month, we’re offering one lucky reader a place on the 13day Western Explorer tour. For prize details, and to enter, head to escmag.co/gaa


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THE INTREPID SERIES A l l-t i me h i gh s From skiing to cycling, snowy peaks to desert dunes, Matt Barr finds that a ski safari road trip through Utah is the best way to experience an unrivalled array of activities and landscapes


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ROM BOB DYLAN’S iconic wintry pilgrimage to Woody Guthrie’s deathbed, to Harry and Lloyd’s Homeric trek to Aspen in Dumb and Dumber, the great American road trip is an enduring trope of US culture. It also lends itself perfectly to a particularly North American style of ski trip, especially in a resort-rich powder paradise like Utah. The problem until now has been access; with in-bound flights from the UK to Salt Lake City previously routing through Chicago or another hub, journey times in excess of 14 hours were the norm. So when we hear that direct flights are now available from Heathrow to SLC, my wife and I make like Harry and Lloyd and hit the road. North to south, Utah is so vast that our route would enable us to take in the full range of the state’s geographical glories, starting with the iconic ski resorts that dot the Wasatch Mountains, before snaking south to the otherworldly desert landscapes of Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks. From there, we’d finish up in Las Vegas,

and Solitude. Despite their proximity, each hill has a distinct character and topography. Snowbird is a world-class freeride mountain, full of steeps and gullies. Brighton, on the other hand, is more of a snowboarder’s paradise, all fun parks and piste ‘sidehits’. Then there’s family-oriented Solitude, which offers a mix of sedate groomed trails and some serious-looking backcountry terrain. Alas, a freakish run of high temperatures means the Greatest Snow on Earth is, in our case, the Wettest Slush on Earth, with “you guys should have been here last week!” which soon becomes increasingly regular refrain. On the plus side, it means that once the riding’s done for the day, we can explore the rest of Salt Lake’s surprisingly diverse charms, dining at the rather enjoyable Trestle Tavern one evening and taking in a Utah Jazz NBA game the one after. Next, we head to Park City and Canyons, two neighbouring resorts that have recently joined forces to create one super-sized ski area. For years now, European resorts have been locked in a size-based arms race, >

SOMETHING IS IN THE AIR HERE, STEMMING FROM WORLD-CLASS TERRAIN, A PROUD LOCAL IDENTITY AND A HARD-RIDING CLIENTLE

Matt Crawley

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BOMBING IT: [main] A skier hits the slopes, making the most of the ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’ in Utah; [right] Utah’s landscape dusted in snow

eight hours south and just over the border in Nevada, Utah’s neighbour to the west. Our first stop, Salt Lake City, is the perfect starting point for such a mission. With transfer times of under an hour, you can banish jet lag with ease and concentrate on exploring the resorts within 60 minutes’ drive of the city. It’s these resorts that have inspired the tourist board’s grandiose ‘Greatest Snow on Earth’ tagline, and that put SLC alongside places like Chamonix, Innsbruck and Vancouver as one of the world’s great winter sports cities. There’s simply something in the air here, a rare combination of world-class terrain, a proud local identity and a hard-riding international clientele that lends the place an aura of tough, vibrant cosmopolitanism. For the first few days we explore the resorts of nearby Little Cottonwood and Big Cottonwood Canyons – Snowbird, Brighton


From active adventures to intrepid experiences...

... discover the Americas with the Experts

> intent on partnering with their near neighbours and advertising themselves as – yes – the biggest ski area in the world, so the news that these two neighbouring (and already sizeable) American behemoths have got in on the act piqued my interest. We stay at Canyons Resort, a classic ski-in/ski-out US destination with a hot tub on the roof and a heated pool for winding down post-ride. The vibe here is a tad more upmarket, as you might expect from a place that hosts Robert Redford’s Sundance Festival each January and counts Will Smith as a winter resident. Still, it’s nice to be part

of the jetset for a couple of days, joining the throng for some lively St Patrick’s Day Guinness in Flanagan’s and exploring the new ski area. With 300 trails and 41 lifts over 7,300 acres, the area is truly vast and covers it all: backcountry, groomers, legburning top-to-bottom trails and an almost unnecessary eight funparks. We’re exhausted by the time we reach Utah Olympic Park – a legacy from the 2002 Olympics that sits just down the valley – to sample the bobsleigh run that was used during the games themselves. Although you don’t get to drive the thing,

THE COMET BOBLSED IS A GENUINE, HIGHVELOCITY, NECK-CRICKING EXPERIENCE, WITH 3GS AND SPEEDS OF UP TO 60MPH START PLANNING YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE www.grandamericanadventures.com


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From active adventures to intrepid a ride on the Comet bobsled is still a genuine experiences... high-velocity, neck-cricking experience,

... discover the Americas with the Experts

with 3Gs and speeds of up to 60mph enough to see you mentally practicing your sprint starts and plotting how you’ll make your debut on the 2022 GB bobsleigh team. Day five, and it’s time to head south and really start ticking off those US road trip clichés. Freeways crossing vast prairies dotted with towns and cities named things like Ogden, Provo and Fremont? Tick. Random local FM rock stations singlehandedly keeping 1970s rock dinosaurs in PRS payments? Tick. Remote gas stations patronized by farmers wearing Make America Great again caps? Tick. Bryce Canyon is Historic roadside known for its crimson-hued hoodoos settlements staffed – also known as by Mormons who spire-shared rock are enthusiastically formations to you and us – that look offering histories of spectacular at the state? That too. sunrise and sunset. As we head towards Bryce Canyon National Park, one of five national parks in Utah, grasslands give way to desert >

PEAK SATISFACTION: A group of three skiers stop to take in the views over Utah’s undulating landscape – and plan the route ahead

Dan Campbell Photography

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START PLANNING YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE www.grandamericanadventures.com

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INTREPID CAN-YON BELIEVE IT?: [from top] Rocky outcrops in one of Utah’s canyons, before they get dusted with snow; Utah’s roads are great for cycling

> and, eventually, the unique multi-hued rocky crenellations of Bryce Canyon. We make straight for Sunrise Point, and from there walk the classic Navajo/Queen’s Garden Loop with the other international pilgrims. A slight dusting of snow gives Bryce Canyon’s ancient arid sandstone formations a gleaming majesty that our iPhone photos can never adequately convey, and suddenly Park City and its $30 wagyu burgers seem Zion is Utah’s oldest further away than a national park in more ways than mere four-hour drive. one – it was the first After a night at the to be designated a Ruby’s Inn – which protected area in 1919 and has the wholeheartedly oldest geographical embraces the alpine rock layers, too. theme with stags’ heads-a-plenty mounted on its timber-clad walls– the next stop is Zion National Park, our penultimate destination a further two-hour drive to the south. With its steep red cliffs, waterfalls and forest trails, Zion is the type of place that has been leaving more eloquent travellers than myself tongue-tied and groping for superlatives since humans first started frequenting the place some 8,000 years ago. It’s the scale that does it – the 15-mile long West Rim Trail itself is framed either side by

ANGEL’S LANDING IS A THREE-HOUR CLIMB WITH VERTIGINOUS WALKWAYS AND 450M DROP-OFFS sandstone cliffs more than 1,000m high, and is full of nightmarish scrambles such as the famed Angel’s Landing, a three-hour ascent where the really intrepid can negotiate vertiginous walkways with 450m drop-offs. Vertigo sufferers like myself need not apply. Instead, we hire road bikes and enjoy the

best day of the trip, being guided by Shirley and Margaret of Red Rock Cycles around Zion’s punishing-yet-beautiful climbs and swooping, hairpinned descents. Later, limbs spent and minds tired from goggling at all that neck-craning natural majesty, we head to Oscar’s Cafe in Springdale and demolish the famous ribsticking burgers we’ve been hearing about since we arrived in Utah. And so to our final leg: Vegas, another state entirely and different type of national monument. But that’s another story. ◆

GETTING THERE

Jim Parkin / Alamy

A 12-night Utah and National Parks Ski Safari starting in Salt Lake City and ending in Las Vegas costs from £2,115pp including flights, SUV car hire for the duration and accommodation on a B&B basis, based on two sharing. For more information contact Ski Safari. 01273 224 068; skisafari.com


Real Americas Real Adventure

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A medley of man-made and natural wonders are on full display on this popular tour of Western USA. Adventure awaits around every corner in the most geographically diverse region of the United States. WASHINGTON

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Included Highlights: • • • •

Navajo guided backroads tour of Monument Valley Explore Antelope Canyon with a Navajo guide Wildlife viewing possibilities in Yosemite National Park National parks and monuments: Yosemite, Death Valley, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Monument Valley and Grand Canyon • Professional tour leader, private transport in a custom-designed vehicle, all hotel and lodge accommodation

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Bryce Zion NP Canyon NP Antelope Canyon Lake Powell Death Route 66 Valley NP Monument Las Vegas Grand Valley Canyon CALIFORNIA NP A R I Z O N A

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Small group adventure tour from £2,869 M

START PLANNING YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE www.grandamericanadventures.com

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all inclusive, totally exclusive For a luxuriously exclusive style of all-inclusive resort, look no further than Sandals Royal Barbados, a jewel in the Caribbean

When it comes to luxury getaways, it can be quite hard to keep up with the very best. Not so at Sandals’ latest resort, Sandals Royal Barbados, where innovation and cutting-edge is the norm. Opening in December 2017, the five-star resort will boast exquisite suites, as well as plenty of worldclass firsts for the legendary resort group. As well as everything that comes as standard with a Sandals Luxury Included® holiday, like unlimited 5-Star Global Gourmet™ dining and unlimited premium brand beverages, the resort will be home to Sandals' first-ever rooftop pool and restaurant, as well as its first glass infinity pool, which will make you feel like you’re soaring metres above the beautiful Caribbean Sea every time you swim. And as if that’s not enough, there’ll also be two world-first recreation and style offerings: Lovers Lanes – the resort’s unique new fourlane bowling alley – and an amazing gentsonly barber shop called The Clip Yard. Then, of course, there’s the resort’s stunning, rejuvenating Red Lane® Spa – a stunning 15,000sq ft. wellness centre where European treatments are delivered with Caribbean flair, tropical aromas, natural botanicals and exceptional service. Add unlimited land and water sports – taking in everything from surfing and sailing to beach volleyball, snorkelling and much more – and there’s absolutely no way you’ll be getting bored while you’re away. But it’s not just on-site entertainment that’ll keep you contented while you’re there – like every Sandals property, the resort has been painstakingly planned with your stay in mind, right down to its picture-perfect location. Placed resplendently in the heart of several acres of lush Caribbean scenery, Sandals Royal Barbados occupies one of the island’s best white-sand beaches, sitting

right beside the beautiful shimmering sea. And then there’s the locale: Set in the heart of St. Lawrence Gap, a spirited community on the much sought after southern side of Barbados, the resort is perfectly poised for exploring the entirety of the gorgeous, sun-soaked and historic island. Known in equal measure for its jet-setters and celebrity visitors as its rich heritage, sun-and-surf culture and sailing scene, no matter how you decide to spend your time on the island, you’re sure to be kept happy, relaxed and entertained. After a long day of activities, whether you’re a culture-loving sightseer visiting the island’s amazing museums, or an intrepid off-shore explorer out deep-water fishing from the resort, you’ll return to the quiet comfort of your suite, which is one of the most exclusive places to stay in the whole Caribbean. With incredibly comfy beds and romantic Tranquility Soaking Tubs™ designed for two, you’ll have your own

CLOCKWISE FROM MAIN: Sandals Royal Barbados comes complete with an exquisite rooftop pool and restaurant; enjoying the white-sand beach


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private paradise to match the sun-soaked one waiting for you outside your window. If you really fancy taking things up a notch, why not go for Sandals’ unprecedented butler service? Only available in the most exclusive suites, you’ll receive a supreme level of service where your every possible need is anticipated – leaving you to kick back, relax and enjoy. Add to all of this the fact that your transfers and tips are included in your stay and you’re really onto a winner – especially because you can head across to nearby Sandals Barbados for even more exceptional

Luxury Included® fun, too. Honestly, where else can you get a fresh new haircut in the morning before hitting one of four pools for the afternoon, then choose from 17 different restaurants and 11 unique bars across two beautiful resorts when dinner time comes around? Nowhere. And that’s why a Luxury Included® escape at Sandals Royal Barbados is essential for 2018. Now all you need to do is book it. ◆ For more information on holidays with Sandals, call 0800 742 742, visit sandals.co.uk, or pop into the Sandals Luxury Travel Store at 135 Fulham Road, London SW3 6RT

sandals royal barbados blends the classic luxury included® break with world-first features

Two breaks in one stay at one, play at all Since every Sandals escape comes Luxury Included®, there’s no reason not to experience absolutely every aspect of Sandals’ Barbadian offerings. With Stay At One, Play At All, you can also enjoy all the pools, recreation, spas, restaurants and bars at neighbouring Sandals Barbados, giving you 17 restaurants, 11 bars and four pools to explore, plus much, much more. So what are you waiting for? Dive in.


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From Christmas markets to cities that are better in winter, we’ve picked out some holiday inspiration that’ll have you reaching for your credit card, pronto

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Co m pare t he m a r kets From mulled wine to sugar plums, get in the festive spirit at our pick of the very best Christmas markets

1) COLOGNE, GERMANY Cologne’s towering Gothic cathedral took 632 years to complete, which – as it turns out – was plenty enough

time to fine-tune one of the world’s biggest wintertime markets. Beyond the cathedral square’s crowds and enormous Christmas tree, you’ll find Christmas Avenue – a pink and purple row of chalets that celebrates the

city’s huge LGBT community. WHEN: 27 November-23 December STAY: Hotel im Wasserturm. From £142. hotel-imwasserturm.de GETTING THERE:

Ryanair offers flights to Cologne from £9 one-way. ryanair.com

2) INNSBRUCK, AUSTRIA If you want guaranteed White Christmas feels, head to Innsbruck, because in the Tyrolean capital the snow is measured by the bucketload. As well as shopping and all-out family fun, you’ll soak

up pastel-painted architecture and epic alpine views, which make this ski city the perfect place for a split trip of festivities and on-piste action. WHEN: 25 November-23 December STAY: aDLERS Hotel. From £125. adlers-innsbruck.com GETTING THERE:

Easyjet flies to Innsbruck from £31 oneway. easyjet.com


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3) BATH, UK

Zoonar GmbH; Zoonar GmbH; lynchpics; Jacob Surland; Leonid Andronov; Oliver Wintzen; Daniel J. Rao / Alamy

If any British city’s spires were likely to give the continent a run for its money in the battle for Christmas-time charm, that city would probably be Bath. With more than 200 chalets

4) COPENHAGEN, DENMARK Whether you spend your time mooching around the traditional market in the centrally located Tivoli Gardens or take a stroll through the stalls along the canal at Nyhavn to the intoxicating scent of sugar-roasted almonds, it’s hard to argue that adventdone-Scandi isn’t a

– 80% of which are local traders – it just shows we’ve got Christmas craic, too. WHEN: 23 November-10 December STAY: No 15 Great Pulteney. From £116. no15greatpulteney. co.uk

5) STRASBOURG, FRANCE Claimant of the title Capital of Christmas, Strasbourg’s festive traditions can be traced back to 1570, when the punchily named Market of

GETTING THERE:

GWR offers trains to Bath Spa from £14.50 one-way. gwr.com

festive paradise. Still don’t believe us? Swing by the Hotel D’Angleterre, which decks its exterior with a classy kitsch Grand Budapest Hotel-meets-Elf vibe every winter. WHEN: 18 November – 31 December STAY: Nobis Hotel Copenhagen. From £283. designhotels.com

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goods, giving local artisans the chance to exhibit their sustainable crafts WHEN: 24 November – 24 December STAY: Hotel Les Haras. From £115. les-haras-hotel.com GETTING THERE:

Ryanair offers flights from Stansted to nearby Baden-Baden from £9 one-way. ryanair.com

Win t er Wa rm ers Trade scarves for swimmers on these sun-drenched escapes

GETTING THERE:

Ryanair offers flights from Stansted to Copenhagen from £9 one-way. ryanair.com

the Infant Jesus first occupied its medieval streets. Nowadays, it’s much the same – aside from neon candy canes and gingerbread men that bedeck the streets. There’s also the OFF Market, which focuses on responsible consumerism and Fairtrade

The serene port city of Kochi has been a traveller’s hotspot for more than 600 years, with an intruiging mix of Portuguese, Dutch and English influences.

1) SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA If you want to dust away the cobwebs, blow the budget and annihilate that leftover annual leave in one swoop, Sydney’s your best bet. You’ll want to spend a few days on the beach,

2) KERALA, INDIA When it comes to winter sun, Kerala – a coastal haven on India’s southern

so try Bondi if you can take the crowds, or explore the wilderness of Ku-ring-gai National Park in a kayak if you really want to get away from it all. STAY: The Old Clare. From £153. mrandmrssmith.com

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GETTING THERE:

Book flights from Heathrow to Sydney from £338 one-way. kiwi.com

coast – has it all. Whether you fancy exploring the colonial history of Kochi, heading out into the country’s backwaters or just want to kick back on a beach minus the crowds, this is the

place to head. STAY: Lakes & Lagoons boat hotel. From £126. i-escape.com GETTING THERE: Jet Airways flies from Heathrow to Kochi from £266 oneway. jetairways.com


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3) MALE ATOLL, MALDIVES With leagues of pristine ocean and acres of tropical forest, this atoll is an absolute mustvisit. Resorts like Coco Bodu Hithi in the northern part of the atoll offer

sustainable dive tours that’ll see you going in search of hawksbill turtles, manta rays and – if you’re as fearless as us – sharks. STAY: Coco Bodu Hithi. From £805. Dive tours from £34. cococollection.com GETTING THERE: BA flies from Gatwick to Malé from £795 return. ba.com

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Burgers, bikinis, beaches – Miami is the good-time city when you go Stateside in winter, and that’s why you should hit it up, stat. South Beach will

independent cinemas and bars. STAY: The Confidante Miami Beach. From £126. hyatt.com GETTING THERE:

Norwegian offers flights from Gatwick to Fort Lauderdale International from £163 one-way. norwegian.com

5) DUBAI, UAE

Wynwood Walls is an outdoor museum showcasing work by well-known street artists. It’s no surprise that the local area is home to funky art galleries and craft breweries.

You know the drill – if you want to splash the cash on some guaranteed sun, beautiful beaches and one audacious skyline, it’s time to head to Dubai. Lap up unparalleled luxury in one of the city-state’s

GETTING THERE:

Royal Brunei offers flights to Dubai from £293 one-way. flyroyalbrunei.com

Jon Arnold Images Ltd; Stephen Saks Photography; Hugh Threlfall / Alamy

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still be hot enough to kick your feet up, and when you get bored you can meander into Little Havana to play the locals at dominoes, or hit the muralcovered streets of Wynwood, where you’ll find plenty of hipster grub stops, craft breweries,

many high-end resorts, then head out onto the gulf by paddleboard to snap the city from way out in the shimmering sea. We’re sold. STAY: Fairmont The Palm. From £175pn. fairmont.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 with a 200 metre stretch of pristine beach, overlooking the turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf which is home to the Nation Riviera Beach Club at the finest address in the city.

Š2016 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


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1) MAJORCA It’s easy to understand why Chris Froome and Team Sky use the Baleriac island of Majorca as a winter training base. With a temperate climate, silkysmooth roads and varied terrain, it’s a cyclist’s paradise.

2) MOROCCO Morocco is within striking distance of Europe but offers a stark contrast to any riding found on the continent. There’s something for everyone, from the High Atlas mountains to the coastal paradise of Taghazout, with access to the

The snaking descent of Sa Calobra is undoubtedly the highlight – but beware, the only way out is the same way you came in. NEED TO KNOW:

Sun Velo offers training camps for cyclists from £79pn. sunvelo.com

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GETTING THERE:

easyJet flies from Gatwick to Palma from around £45 return. easyjet.com

foothills. Sea-level temperatures rarely dip below the highteens, so Morocco is primed for a winter escape.

b rea k t h e cyc le

3

Sick of riding in the cold and wet? Book a biking break to one of these destinations instead

NEED TO KNOW:

The 2018 Marrakech Atlas Etape takes place 22 April. marrakechatlas-etape.com GETTING THERE:

Royal Air Maroc flies from Gatwick to Casablanca from £268 return. royalairmaroc.com

3) TUSCANY By George Scott, Editor of our sister title Road Cycling UK. Find out more: roadcyclinguk.com

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4) SOUTH AFRICA While Northern Europe shivers, South Africa swelters through summer. Swap frozen fingers

for sun-drenched coastal roads and vineyards as far the eye can see. Try the Western Cape’s Garden Route, where you can ride past beaches, over the Swartberg Mountains and through the forests of the Karoo.

NEED TO KNOW:

The next Strade Bianche takes place 3-4 March. strade-bianche.it GETTING THERE: BA flies from Gatwick to Pisa from £95 return. ba.com

NEED TO KNOW:

The next Cape Town Cycle Tour takes place on 11 March. capetowncycletour. com

5) GIRONA The Catalonian city of Girona combines cycling culture with cosmopolitan cool. Like Majorca, it’s a favourite training base for the pros, with the foothills of the Pyrenees to the north and the Costa Brava coastline to the south. The small airport is served by a number of low-cost airlines, or Barcelona is only an hour away. NEED TO KNOW:

GETTING THERE:

Bike Breaks Girona offers holidays and guided rides. gironacyclecentre. com

Thomas Cook flies from Gatwick to Cape Town from £280 one-way. thomascook.com

Ryan Air flies from Stansted to Gatwick from £28 return. ryanair.com ◆

GETTING THERE:

Rebecca Cole; Zoonar GmbH; Scott Wilson; jbdodane; domonabikeSpain / Alamy

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Italy is home to some of Europe’s most beautiful riding and Tuscany is the jewel in its crown – lush rolling hills, traffic-free roads and pictureperfect hilltop towns. Oh, and some of the world’s finest food and wine for

post-ride recovery. The area is also home to the iconic Strade Bianche, a network of white gravel roads that host the vintage L’Eroica event


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112 • PROMOTION • FAIRMONT THE PALM

PROMOTION

relax, recharge, be your best For an incredible sun-soaked winter break that’ll leave you feeling great, try Fairmont The Palm Dubai, where unique, innovative new wellness offerings are sure to help recharge your mind, body and soul With all that great food, sun-soaking and saltwater swimming, a totally relaxing holiday can start to take a toll on your fitness routine. Not so at Fairmont The Palm Dubai, where you’ll get all of the above, plus an incredible and innovative approach to wellness, spa relaxation and healthconscious dining – meaning you’ll go home feeling as just as chilled out as you were the whole time you were away. Adopting a 360º approach to wellbeing with the hotel’s new Be. Your. Best. experience, you’ll be able to do everything from curating your own bespoke circuit training workout to making health-conscious meals at The Chef ’s Palette equipped with top German cooking brand Gaggenau. At the luxurious Willow Stream Spa,

meanwhile, you’ll be able to detox after your workout, spoiling yourself with a variety of beauty products, massages and treatments. As one of the only hotels in the region that provides a holistic and integrated wellness programme, the fun doesn’t stop there – with beachside yoga and meditation sessions offered on site, you’ll be able to find inner peace, as well as pampering your body. And what’s more, as a celebrity hotspot that’s seen visitors like The Apprentice’s Karren Brady and famous footballers like Nicolas Anelka, you never know who you could end up sharing your workout with. So what are you waiting for? Book a stay, chill out and be your best. ◆ For more information visit fairmont.com/palmdubai. @FairmontThePalm #FairmontThePalm

look no further for a unique and holistic wellness getaway

ABOVE: Relax poolside; Aquaspin™ – just one of the many state-of-the-art new activities on offer at the Dubai resort; yoga with a skyline view


Seminars & Workshops

Supported by

Explorer Partner

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*10% off valid on standard day and weekend tickets. Ticket offer must end at midnight on the 19th January 2018.


114 • EXCURSIONS • REAR VIEW

EXCURSIONS

REAR VIEW

]

S

ITTING PRETTY IN the heart of Summit County, Colorado, Breckenridge gets its fair share of snow – more than 13.5 feet every year, to be precise – which makes it the perfect place for a little action when snow season comes around. Hunkered down among some of the gnarliest peaks in the Colorado stretch of the Rockies, this bustling resort has plenty

of pistes, but they can get a little packed. This solo boarder has found a new way to grab some serious air – by floating way above the tree line deep in the town’s vast, largely untouched backcountry. What are you waiting for? Hop on a snowmobile or grab yourself a splitboard and head out into the wilderness, because we’ve got some powder to find. ◆

Aurora Photos / Alamy Stock Photo

[


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Escapism – 43 – Ski and Snowboard Special  
Escapism – 43 – Ski and Snowboard Special  

Escapism Magazine – Issue 43 – Ski and Snowboard Special