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Luxury Travel

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FRENCH FANCY

Languedoc’s wine wonders

CAPE CRUSADERS

Warming up for RSA’s world cup

OLD SCHOOL THAI

The changing face of South East Asia

VROOM SERVICE

Holidays that will give you the ultimate office bragging rights


  

   ´          

Do you remember the best holiday you’ve ever experienced? Now picture something beer. Kuoni’s handpicked selection features the finest luxury hotels on the planet and unforge able experiences. Book today.

� Dominican Republic £pp

� ailand £1235pp

� Maldives £pp

Zoetry Agua Punta Cana

Pimalai, Lanta Yai

Kanuhura

7 nights all inclusive 2-27 May 2010 World Class Hotel

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8 nights room & breakfast 2 May-30 June 2010

£ 

    

01306 747015

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Prices are per person based on � adults sharing a room. Savings featured are per couple and against prices on www.kuoni.co.uk and brochured airlines as at time of going to press. All prices are correct at time of going to press. Holidays are subject to availability and change. See Kuoni Worldwide ���� or Kuoni World Class ���� brochures or visit www.kuoni.co.uk for more details and booking conditions.


CONTENTS & EDITOR’S LETTER

GUIDE

squaremile THE BEST OF THE CITY

EDITOR Mark Hedley ART EDITOR Matthew Hasteley ASSOCIATE EDITOR Eugene Costello EDITORIAL ASSISTANT Alex Bolden JUNIOR DESIGNER Matt Gregory CONTRIBUTORS Martin Deeson, June Field, Benedict Lee, Sarah Modlock, Gilly Pickup PRINTING Colourfast Europe

M

E

D

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DIRECTORS Stephen Murphy, Tim Slee PRODUCTION MANAGER Alan Raine MARKETING Clare Brind ADVERTISING MANAGER Vicky Miller ADVERTISING EXECUTIVES Michael Berrett, Mark Edwards, Christian Morrow, Kevin Rudge, Tom Rutherford, Alex Watson ACCOUNTS Steve Cole, Natalie Jackson

CONTACT

020 7819 9999

CERTIFIED DISTRIBUTION: 32,079 (July-December 2008) square mile uses paper from

sustainable sources

Mark Hedley, Editor mark@squareupmedia.com

4 TRAVEL ACCESSORIES Looking good for the beach, bar and babes

5 THE WORLD OVER The experts from Kuoni take us on a tour of the world’s best experience trips

10 FRANCE The hidden treasures of France’s Languedoc

14 ITALY A guide to Venice: an oldie but a goldie

16 SOUTH AFRICA In the run-up to the 2010 World Cup, we go on a recce to see where it’s at

20 MEXICO Raising a glass to tequila – and even being able to remember something afterwards

22 SEYCHELLES They say heaven is a place on earth... well, someone kindly sent us a postcard

26 PERU Flat-sharing with Tarzan in the Amazon

28 THAILAND The luxurious side to South East Asia

35 GLOBE TROTTING IN STYLE Around the world in 18 days – hotel heaven

FRONT COVER

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In association with

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Photo by Ljupco Smokovski Our front cover illustrates one of Kuoni’s authentic experience trips to South Africa where you’ll get to ride a Harley Davidosn around the Cape’s most unique attractions

© Square Up Media Limited 2009. 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.

WHEN I LEFT university, I was one of the few in my social group who decided to enter the real world, rather than electing to take a gap year and go ‘travelling’. As much as I love dreadlocks, recreational drugs and poor personal hygiene, I decided that backpacking was not really the route forward for me. I made a conscious decision that when I saw the world, I’d see it in style. And that’s what this guide is all about. As well as cherry-picking some of our favourite places around the world, we’ve also enrolled the help of luxury travel agents Kuoni. For the last few years, square mile has championed Kuoni as its tour operator de choix – and in their own words, no one knows the planet like they do. See p8 for a taster of what Kuoni has to offer – you’ll be giving them a ring faster than you can say “I think I’m going to go long on the rest of my positions”. Although this supplement concentrates on destinations, forgive me a minute while I dwell on the process of actually getting there. If you’ve been able to wrack up enough Airmiles (through the company account, of course), you should by now be the proud owner of a blue, silver, or even gold card. Indeed, a City fella I know is so red-eyed, that he was invited to become a ‘premier’ member, and was recently allocated the frequent flier’s holy grail: a black card. He often delights in reminding me what this affords him: automatic upgrades, unlimited baggage and the ability to walk on to any plane without prior booking. In fact, even if the plane is full, so he brags, another passenger will dutifully be bribed to vacate their seat to make way for him. On the last trip I took with him, the plane had been delayed by half an hour. A representative from the airline quickly found us, and asked if there was anything (anything) she could possibly do to make the delay somehow useful to him, perhaps, less painful... After a week away from home, and on the opposite side of the world from his wife, I’ll let you make your own conclusions to the outcome. After all, what goes on in first-class, stays in first-class.

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TRAVEL ACCESSORIES

GUIDE

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PICKETT LUGGAGE LABELS £29 Make your luggage stand out. pickett.co.uk

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TANNER KROLLE JEWEL BOX £895 With removable trays. tannerkrolle.co.uk

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PICKETT TRAVEL ALARM CLOCK £85 Doubles up as storage for studs. pickett.co.uk

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TANNER KROLLE HOLDALLS £895 Tanned English bridle leather (as before).

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HIDE AND CHIC There’s no point going to Cannes dressed for Canvey Island. ALEX BOLDEN goes club-class 4 SQUAREMILE

SWAINE ADENEY SUITCASES £1,795 Handmade heaven. swaineadeney.co.uk

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TOM FORD PAVLOS SUNGLASSES £1,400 Shady business. harverynichols.com

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PATEK PHILIPPE WORLD TIME WATCH £32,910 With 24 time zones, it’s perfect for the serial flyer. patek.com

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PICKET TRAVEL WALLET £169 Keep your travel documents in style. pickett.co.uk squaremileclub.com


ROYAL PLANTATION at OCHO RIOS, Jamaica

SAVE 50% up to

*

BOOK YOUR 2009 & 2010 HOLIDAY

A

midst the rolling hills of Ocho Rios, Jamaica, lies Royal Plantation, a glamorous 74 all-ocean view suite hotel and the private three bedroom Villa Plantana set on two flawless white-sand beaches. The only hotel in Jamaica recognised as a member of the prestigious Leading Small Hotels of the World, it is also home to Jamaica’s first and only Champagne and Caviar bar – C-Bar. At Royal Plantation, sophistication assumes an easy pace within a charming Caribbean atmosphere. Enjoy championship golf, Royal Beach Butler service, sumptuous gourmet restaurants, 24hour room service and an exclusive Red Lane® Spa^.

L

ocated on a 50-acre private island in the Bahamian Islands of the Exumas, this exclusive resort offers a complete respite from everyday cares and a chance to revel in nature’s bounty.

THE

GEM OF THE

CARIBBEAN For more information or to book: Call 0800 0223 773 , Visit www.royalplantation.co.uk See your local travel agent

With just six island villas to choose from, this resort is your very own private paradise, perfect for escaping with the family or in a group. Enjoy sensational cuisine and fine wines at the Harbour Club restaurant or relax in the evening at the island’s bar. With each villa coming with its own speed boat and golf buggy you can truly experience the island at your own leisure.

* For Royal Plantation Ocho Rios book by 31 Oct 2009 for travel up to 19 Dec 2010. Discounts vary between 30%-50% depending on time of year travelling. Blackout dates, terms & conditions apply. Offer applicable to bookings on the Royal Plan only. For Royal Plantation Island book by 31 Oct 2009 for travel up to 18 Dec 2010. Discounts vary between 10%-25% depending on time of year travelling. Blackout dates, terms & conditions apply. Offer available on selected months only. Minimum stay 7 nights. ^ payable locally

ROYAL PLANTATION ISLAND at FOWL CAY, Exumas, Bahamas


guide

think global, act local Take a walk on the wild side with award-winning experts Kuoni’s local expertise and insider savvy When Alfred Kuoni launched his travel agency more than 100 years ago, he was a visionary. An adventurer and explorer, he was seeking out new places and new experiences, easing the path for fellow travellers to share all that he discovered. Today, Kuoni is an awardwinning travel company providing premium service that has helped to define the world of luxury holiday and creating perfect travel moments. Kuoni Personal Travel Experts are on hand to answer any possible question raised on your chosen destination and the Kuoni Concierge service will take care of every detail

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such as private airport transfers or late check-outs. They can arrange personal guides, organise special events, private tours or book you a unique experience, to ensure you create a perfect holiday, never to be forgotten. The experts at Kuoni have scoured the world for what they call ‘Kuoni Authentic Experiences’ – these are unparalleled and unique travel experiences that allow travellers to do as the locals do, learn from experts in their field or experience something thrilling and unique. Here’s a pick of our favourites for the modern adventurers among you...

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kuoni

Easy ridEr

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PHoTogRaPH by Bob Thomas

Ride on the ‘Harley Davidson Ride, Loaves and Fishes’ trip where you get to cruise through Cape Town on the back of a Harley, learn to bake bread in Kalk Bay and cook freshly landed fish on hot coals at a local restaurant. 01306 747015; kuoni.co.uk/squaremile


kuoni

guide

◀ iN THE LOOP Take a private jet fighter flight from Thunder City in Cape Town, the only place in the world where you can feel the g-force take your breath away during an aerobatic flight in a Hawker Hunter. 01306 747015; kuoni.co.uk/squaremile

▶ yOU’VE BEEN TaNGO’d Wine, dine, dance and live ‘la vida loca’ on the Kuoni Passion for Dance eight-night private trip. Learn to tango with the professionals, enjoy expert wine tastings with local aficionados and stay in a former mansion in the old quarter of Buenos aires. Then jet on to Rio for private samba lessons with the professionals. Dance the night away and reward yourself with lazy days on the glamorous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. 01306 747015; kuoni.co.uk/squaremile

▲ saddLE UP… Those with a taste for adventure can become a cowboy gaucho for three days at Estancio El Rocio in argentina. Cattle herd on horseback, cheer on the rodeo, go bird-watching at the local lagoon and enjoy a chukkah or two of polo. 01306 747015; kuoni.co.uk/squaremile

▶ THar sHE BLOWs… If it’s active volcanoes you want, then take an 11-night private trip to one of the world’s most bio-diverse lands – Costa Rica. Stay at El Silencio Lodge & Spa, walk up into the cloud forest and end this trip in the shadow of the arenal Volcano, where biking, hiking, kayaking and wildlife, spotting or wallowing in hot springs, are all possible. 01306 747015; kuoni.co.uk/squaremile

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The Kuoni Gift Card can be loaded with any amount of money. Pick one up from the stores at High Street Kensington or Bishopsgate, or call 01306 747015

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������������������������ For a life less ordinary would more space do... or more time, another place perhaps. Would it be filled with charm, happiness and safety... and memorable stories. By any chance would it be in and out of this world.

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guide

Hommage a t

MarK HeDley has

a vine romance meandering around Languedoc in search of the holy trinity at the heart (and stomach) of France

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france languedoc

trois

photo by: Mark hedley

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Monsieur raynal was on a roll. “Le vin, le pain, et le fromage: c’est la trinité sainte du France.” I didn’t think it was appropriate at this point to mention the similarity of his gastro-philosophical postulation to the Boursin advert slogan. His argument seemed far more profound. And he hadn’t even been drinking. When it comes to the first of this holy trinity, this guy certainly knows his onions – or rather, his grapes. Jean-Marc Raynal is manager for all the vineyards in Languedoc-Roussillon (and indeed the whole Mediterranean region) owned by French wine magnate Bernard Magrez. To give you an idea of multimillionaire Magrez’s vinous clout, it is reported that the investment bank Lazard is offering the legendary Château Latour for sale at around £190m – and that Monsieur Magrez is the most likely buyer. However, despite Magrez’s prominence in Bordeaux, it’s actually the undervalued and underrated Languedoc-Roussillon region in which I’m more interested today, and the reason why I’m tasting straight from some of the region’s finest barrels. Unfortunately, my GCSE French was not holding up to M Raynal’s passionate descriptions, so we decided to let the wine do the talking instead. Or should that be shouting? The one thing that Languedoc wines don’t need to concern themselves with is being too shy or retiring. The long dry summers are ideal for making a big bold spicy red (which, I might add, will be the same colour as your skin if you forget to pack your Factor 30). Many of Magrez’s reds from this region possess a varietal trinity at their core – syrah, grenache and carignan. This threesome makes a perfect base for blending intricate wines with the levels of complexity that you just wouldn’t find in an equivalent from the New World. Just try the La Passion d’une Vie for proof.

But if you thought it was a red-only region, you’d be wrong. I was especially impressed by Magrez’s Passion Blanche from the Côtes Catalanes. A rich, elegant white, the 2006 is all butter and wet leaf, and the 2007 is lighter with more citrus highlights, ideal for session drinking and soaking up the warm southern French sun. Which, funnily enough, is exactly what we did. For the French, winemaking is second only to religion. So it only seemed right that I should find somewhere with an equally devout past for my stay in the region. The Couvent d’Hérépian in the heart of high Languedoc, is an enchantinglygardened boutique affair that was once a 17th-century convent. Subtly and gracefully restored, it still carries with it a sense of this original serenity. The hotel is swathed in soothing tones and sophisticated furnishings; vaulted ceilings and period décor all help conjure a romantic French idyll. With only 13 rooms, it’s closer to a b&b than a hotel, but the four southfacing suites on the upper floors are truly five-star, each boasting private balconies looking out over the village of Hérépian and the Monts d’Orb. The hotel’s subterranean spa is housed in stone vaults and includes an eight-person heated relaxation pool tiled in cool, watery cobalt. Its one treatment room is the sanctum of magic hands which, via Ayurvedic techniques and reflexology, will make sure you emerge with a serene grin and marshmallow muscles. ▶

●● languedoc wines are certainly not shy or retiring squaremile 11


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southern coMfort: (clockwise, from top left) tasting; the couvent’s pool; the living room; a cellar

▶ Although there’s no restaurant, you can have a local table d’hôte – a fourcourse meal from a local charcuterie – served in your room. And to wash it down, there’s local wine aplenty, including the house white: a charming, chalky (and cheap) Domaine de Raissac, CVM Barrique. If you run out, head downstairs to the ‘honesty’ bar, where you can help yourself – honestly. If, like me, it’s the wine you’re interested in (had you picked up on that, yet?), then a trip to Domaine de l’Arjolle in Pouzolles is also worthwhile. The family-owned winery is now looked after by the sixth generation and boasts 110ha in total (ten times more than the local average). Just one of these is dedicated to ‘Z’ – it’s the only zinfandel (just one hectare of it) made in the whole of France. For good reason, you might think. But you’d be wrong – the searing climate can pull it off, and Z puts many a Californian zinfandel to shame. To the same tune, Arjolle’s

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bog-standard sauvignon blanc would embarrass several of New Zealand’s mightier labels – and at €9, is a damn sight cheaper. The Languedoc is a picnicker’s paradise, and there are plenty of places to take that wine and put it to good use. The landscape is varied and spectacular in equal measure: from burnt red sands, to snow-crested mountains, to brochure-blue seas. The geography is ever-changing: in the north, it’s Dartmoor (without the ramblers, prisons or poor weather);

on the south-east coast, it’s St Tropez without the plastic surgery; and in the old, walled town at Carcassonne, you get the history and charm of a town like Bruges, but without having to put up with the Belgians. Carcassonne is shrouded in history and mystery, including conspiracy theories about Templar nobility brought into contemporary notoriety by Kate Mosse’s inexplicably best-selling novel, Labyrinth. There are a host of peaceful seaside getaways too: Collioure is particularly appealing – a French St Ives where tea and pasties have been replaced with sangria and tapas, thanks to its proximity to the Spanish border. And of course you have charming pastoral towns such as Hérépian, which offer an arcadian escape from City life. So there you have it: the countryside, the seaside and the cities of Languedoc-Roussillon. Une trinité sainte, indeed. Oh, and did I mention the wine? ■ Le Couvent can be reached easily from Marseille (BA, Easyjet, Ryanair), Montpellier (EasyJet, Ryanair), Beziers, Perpignan, Carcassonne and Nimes (Ryanair only) airports. Le Couvent d’Hérépian, 2, rue du couvent, 34600 Hérépian, France, 0871 218 7066; couventherepian.com. La Passion d’une Vie 2002 from Côte du Roussillon is currently on sale in Harrods for £17.95

●● The town has Bruges’s charm, but without any Belgians squaremileclub.com


guide

canal cruising For a three-day break that combines, history, mystique and fine food, the Queen of the Adriatic cannot be beaten, says sarah modlock

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italy venice

There is no way you can resist a place described as “The golden clasp on the girdle of the earth”. John Ruskin, the Victorian poet, author and art critic, cannot be faulted on his choice of words. My own gilded experience began with a glamorous transfer: stepping out of the airport and onto a luxury speedboat, I almost expected to see Sophia Loren sitting next to me. My advice is to avoid trying to visit on a budget as this is a destination that laughs in the face of credit limits. It’s not that Venice is superficial but it is best enjoyed without the worry of having to find the cheapest bowl of pasta in a ten-mile radius. That said, you don’t need to spend £9 for two cappuccinos to enjoy people-watching at a cafe in St Mark’s Square. As with many busy cities, it’s possible to find a middle ground without too much effort. Three nights is plenty of time here, which makes it even easier to justify your lush hotel and some naughty time in the shops. Wandering and exploring without a schedule is ideal and the perfect way to discover the best of everything, from views and food, to shops and local colour. There is much to see on both sides of the Grand Canal and most streets are pedestrianised. You can cross by water taxi (a free service was available from my hotel) or by one of the four bridges. The oldest and most famous of these if the Rialto Bridge. A mercantile centre of the city immortalised by Shakespeare in The Merchant Of Venice, it comprises a single stone arch and rows of covered shops. The bridge has spanned the Grand Canal since 1591. Duck down cobbled alleys and twisting lanes, hop over tiny bridges across the network of 150 canals and consult your map as little as possible. Apart from some squiggles of graffiti, the city has changed little since it was captured on canvas by Canaletto in the early 18th century, and feels very much like a historical playground. squaremileclub.com

Where To sTay Across the Grand Canal, on the peaceful island of Giudecca, is the Bauer Palladio Hotel and Spa (pictured left). This 16th-century former convent is beautifully decorated in lavender and sage by the interior-designer owner, Francesca Bortolotto Possati. There are 38 elegant guest rooms and 12 spacious suites with pretty wall hangings and Murano lamps, a private garden and breathtaking lagoon views. The staff are charming and the food here is also spot on. You must try the Rossini cocktail – a blend of fresh strawberries and prosecco. Tucked away behind the garden is the spa, employing Daniela Steiner’s Skin Care System. It has to win a prize for its relaxation room alone, which looks directly over the Lagoon via a one-way window. Not only that, but it sits directly below part of the next door house, owned by Sir Elton John. I wonder if he realises how many semi-naked, blissed-out women are beneath him when he’s at home. Where To eaT The Palladio’s sister hotel Il Palazzo at the Bauer is a club-style boutique ‘hotel within a hotel’ inside a historic 18thcentury palace attached to the famous five-star Hotel Bauer, on the Grand Canal. Here, the De Pisis restaurant draws on Asian cooking techniques to transform regional Italian dishes. The combination may sound unlikely but the results are delicious – melon and spider crab with sea asparagus and coral (roe) sauce; veal fillet in a salt crust;

●● avoid harry’s Bar – it’s a tourist trap full of americans

and bitter chocolate cake with pepper ice-cream. You can take the Palladio’s pollution-free, noiseless vaporetto to and from the restaurant. The electrically operated boat has solar panels on the roof and is the first of a new generation of water taxis in Venice. Another must-try is the Cipriani, just a couple of doors down from the Palladio. The hotel is fabulously ‘old money’ with tinkling pianos and staff that make you feel like a regular. There is a sumptuous boudoir feeling to the Fortuny restaurant which also has terraces in the flower garden and is perfect for a sunny lunch or candlelit dinner. Food is fresh, simple and delicious – an unmissable Venetian experience. And the bar cries out for star-studded late-night antics, such as those of frequent visitor George Clooney. He even has his own cocktail, the Buona Notte, on the menu.

WhaT To avoid At £60 a trip, gondolas may look romantic but are favoured by hardcore tourists more than honeymooners. Old favourite Harry’s Bar – home of the Bellini, which was famously invented here in 1931 – is also a tourist trap, usually full of Americans. ■ Citalia offers three nights at the five-star Bauer Palladio Hotel and Spa, Venice bauerhotels.com in a double room with breakfast, water-taxi transfers and British Airways flights departing Gatwick to Venice from £555 pp (three nights for the price of two, saving £340 per couple). For bookings and information call: 0871 664 0253 or visit citalia.com

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guide

finds that even with a weak pound you can live an epicure’s dream in RSA

JUNE FIELD

DAY ONE: Check in to newly furbished Mandela Rhodes Place for two nights. The ‘rooms’ are large serviced apartments, within a downtown retail office block. Most impressive feature must be the rooftop pool – perfect for posing with the beautiful people. Must catch up on sleep and prepare for foodie onslaught ahead...

raND Of PLENTY

DAY TWO: While ascending Table Mountain in a revolving cabin, shrouded in mist, our guide and mentor Lucky Sithole says that “Cape Town gets four seasons in one day. The city is a cross between Rio and San Fran. Locals call it ‘slaap stad’, which means sleepy town in Afrikaans,” he explains. Soaking up the views over the Cape coastline and city below is a delight, this area racking up more floral species than the entire UK. A minibus then whisks us towards the Helderberg Mountains. The Stellenbosch region feels like Switzerland, albeit with a coastline: a postcard backdrop of mountain ranges, flanked by a patchwork vineyards sprinkled with Cape Dutch 18th-century architecture. This is the golden triangle of wine country, the most ideal climate for production and home to some 576 wineries – predominantly white with French and German influences. Between 420m and 620m above sea level, its soil diversity lends itself to varied and exciting viticulture. We lunch at Guardian Peak, a boutique winery and gourmet restaurant owned by famous golfer, Ernie Els. It was a truly memorable meal in a relaxing setting. Biltong and avocado spring rolls; scallops seared

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africa rSa

●● This area racks up more floral species than the entire UK with an aniseed broth; pork belly braised with whole spices; or succulent lamb fillets, roasted and served with a crispy herby crumb and tasty berry juices… it’s a lot more exciting than golf, I can tell you. A short drive away is the Uva Mira winery, winner of ‘Best South African Wine Producer of the Year’. Set in another enviable location finished off with landscaped gardens, we stumble happily into the tasting area, and get giddy on sumptuous sauvignon blancs – aromas of passion fruit, gooseberry, lime and green fig washing over us. Sampling three more reds, the 2005 merlot/cab sav blend stood out as the top tooth stainer. Time to soak up some of the afternoon’s excesses with dinner on the top table of the Atlantic Restaurant. The stunning view over the Cape Town waterfront is only surpassed by the beautifully presented food. Our tasting menu comprised truffled pecorino with pimento relish and beetroot crème fraîche; Walvis Bay oysters; quail ravioli; beef gravadlax; cinnamon springroll and almond vanilla mille feuille. Enough to make you mouth (and eyes) water.

OUT OF AFRICA: (clockwise, from main picture) the Stellenbosch region; the Uva Mira winery; Mandela Rhodes Palace cuisine; the tasting room at Uva Mira; the Hoxton Apprentices

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DAY THREE: Took a two-hour flight to Jo’burg (or ‘Jozi’, as it’s known to locals) and a long ride (traffic worse than the M25) to the newly furbished Rosemont Hotel. Tonight’s dinner was at Tribez, a South African restaurant in Cedar Square Fourways – a cluster of hip ▶ Squaremile 17


africa rSa

guide

▶ restaurants packed with the movers and shakers of Jo’burg. The cheap rand makes a succulent 300g steak the price of a takeaway at home. Served on enormous platters with a choice of seafood and all the trimmings, you’d never go hungry. Next stop: a live jazz venue called Rockerz. Full of arty and media types, we are greeted like old friends by complete strangers and find ourselves drinking sparkling wine (£10 a bottle but tasting like it’s £100 a bottle), and enjoying a generous portion of stylish jazz on the side.

DAY FOUR: Dinner prepared by the Hoxton Apprentices – a programme run in cooperation with the SA tourist board and the charity Training for Life – at Prue Leith Academy in Pretoria was a real treat. SA-born Leith is naturally an advocate of her country and its cuisine: “It has its own identity; I want to put it on the map,” she wells with pride. Ex-students of the programme include Anna Trapido, author of To the Banqueting House, recently voted ‘best cookery book in the world’. It’s not all bush tucker either – ostrich farming, for example, is prevalent in RSA, and a lean substitute for red meat. Our feast kicked off with ostrich carpaccio, followed by lentil bobotie, crayfish bisque (a nod to Cape Town waters), springbok pie with umngqusho (samp and cowpeas) and tomato smoor, finishing off with a dessert of panna cotta with cinnamon jelly and wine-flavoured caviar pearls. By the end of the meal, the only thing fuller than the bustling restaurant was my stomach. ■ For more information, please contact South Africa Tourism, southafrica.net; flights with South African Airways, flysaa.com; Mandela Rhodes Place, rooms from £157 for two, b&b, mandelarhodesplace.co.za; Table Bay Hotel, rooms from £320; Guardian Peak Restaurant, lunch, £18 per person including wine; The Hoxton Apprentice, hoxtonapprentice.co.uk

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▼ &Beyond

▲ The LasT Word The Last Word offers five stunning yet distinctive locations that have been handpicked to provide savvy travellers with a unique adventure. The Last Word Retreats are located in and around Cape Town. Each has a different style, views and activities, yet are linked by the same distinctly superior hospitality standards. The secret is simple enough: a combination of luxurious homely comforts, irresistibly charming care and stunning views away from the crowds. Carefully chosen for their secluded, wind-free locations and breathtaking views of mountain or sea, each retreat inspires the fascination and excitement of an oasis, a sanctuary offering peace, privacy and comfort. Tranquil gardens surround large en-suite rooms, private patios and sparkling pools. It’s the last word in luxury. +27 21 794 2036; thelastword.co.za

The word ‘safari’ often conjures tired images of head-to-toe khaki and tedious Henry Stanley enthusiasts, but not at The Homestead – four private suites nestled within &Beyond’s newly opened Phinda Private Game Reserve. Here, safari has been updated and given a 21st-century luxury thrill seeker’s makeover. Mix and match high-energy game drives in the seven distinct habitats of &Beyond Phinda’s 23,000ha of wilderness, river cruises, turtle viewing and scuba diving, with much needed lounging by the rim-flow infinity pool or in the interactive kitchen and dining area. If you do feel overcome by all the luxury, there is always the option of punishing yourself in the private gym – though we wouldn’t advise it. Prices range from £1,960 for up to four guests per night during low season, or £3,840 for up to eight guests during high season. +27 11 809 4300; andbeyond.com

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GuiDe

SPiRit oF tHe SoutH Two decades ago BeneDiCt Lee came off worst against Mexican tequila. Now he’s going back for more…

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mexico tequila

when i hit 21, I visited a friend in Los Angeles. We took a road trip down Mexico-way where I happily surrendered to the power of cigarettes and late nights, fuelled by cheap margaritas and tequila slammers heedless of each new day’s hangover. My opinion of tequila hasn’t entirely recovered, although I like to think that I have. Armed with – or in spite of – these memories, I manfully accepted the invitation to be among the first of a few fortunates to visit the source itself to taste Platino, the latest addition to the José Cuervo canon. I have been whisked away to the town of Tequila in central northern Mexico to see Platino made. My tour guide Alejandro informs me that I am enjoying the second-best climate in the world, though with the sunshine, gentle breeze and rain only at night it seems perfect. People are genuine and friendly, rather than obsequious servants looking for tips. Passion is a word I hear used a great deal, and it seems fitting in this land of dormant volcanoes, lush, fertile countryside and happy, garishly colourful clothing. The blue agave, Tequila’s raw ingredient, is not a cactus, as has been made abundantly clear to me. Rather, it is a relative of the lily and the thistle, its spiky blue-grey leaves defiantly nurturing a large starchy heart, or pina, for around 12 years when it is ready to be made into tequila. Generally, it is flash-baked for eight hours at over 370°C (700°F) as heating breaks the starches down into sugars. Platino, however, is steam-baked in old clay ovens at 93°C (200°F) over days allowing the flavours to evolve while maintaining the aromatic compounds. The sugary juice is then extracted and fermented into pulque, as was drunk by the pre-Colombian inhabitants. This tastes foul to me, but I guess it worked for them. The Spanish brought the wheel, but far more importantly brought distillation, the next step in the process. squaremileclub.com

down mexico way: (from top) agave’s volcanic landscape; equestrian skills; Jardin Sergio Bustamente

This is done twice; the resulting liquor is cut down to 40 per cent and bottled. Brimming with character, its smell is less pronounced than I expect. I can taste honeys and wood, then pepper. I like this. It’s interesting and full, anything but bland – and very well-behaved. The phrase ‘unfussy

●● My guide says i am enjoying the second-best climate in the entire world

complexity’ comes to my mind. What a ponce, I think. Later, I find myself adding water as I would a malt – they look at me in a funny way, but it tastes good. Although José Cuervo is the biggest manufacturer of tequila, the methods used to achieve Platino are more akin to those found in a small family still. It is crafted rather than manufactured; artisanal. Painstaking and expensive to make, the pay off is in the flavour. Forget those rough hangover-inducing slammer times, those ghastly tequila burps that make you shudder: this is a drink to be savoured. It’s more akin to a really excellent marc or grappa. I sat drinking margaritas in a bar in Rosario 21 years ago, darning the previous night’s hangover with dog’s hair. That was a long time ago. I – and tequila – have finally come of age. ■

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ocean’s heaVen

Like a dazzling necklace of pearls on the turquoise velvet tray of the Indian Ocean, the Seychelles offer a glimpse of paradise on Earth, says GILLY PICKUP THE SEYCHELLES: JELLYFISH trees, the planet’s heaviest tortoise and an emblem of a tourism industry that resembles a large human bum. The coco de mer symbol – of which the locals are inordinately proud – appears everywhere. It even gets stamped in your passport and is so realistic it can be faintly embarrassing. But then, the Seychelles, an archipelago nation comprising some 115 of the oldest oceanic islands on earth, does ‘different’ rather well. Floating in the Indian Ocean a thousand miles from anywhere, species found nowhere else live here – the magpie robin and the Aldabra giant tortoise, for instance. There’s the ‘Moutia’ too, a dance unique to this archipelago that the authorities banned because they decided it was too sexually brazen. It still goes on though, usually by the flickering light of a beach bonfire, encouraged by unfeasibly large doses of local brew. Numerous legends abound, and have done ever since the first settlers came to hang their hats here in the 18th century. The Seychelles’s history is storybook stuff – all intrepid explorers, fearsome skull-andcrossbone pirates and bloody battles for the islands’ bountiful treasures. The Seychellois like to tell you that a fortune in pirate gold and jewels lies hidden on Frégate Island [pictured], formerly known as Skeleton Island. Weird markings on local stones and faded parchment maps add some weight to the story, but though many have tried to crack it, the mystery has never been solved.

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Frégate island If peace and tranquillity are what you’re craving, Frégate Island (pictured) should be first on your list. By combining luxury with ethical living, the island is a true paradise. Privacy is guaranteed as only 40 guests are allowed at a time, and there are no day visitors. So if you wish, you could spend a whole day wandering one of the seven gorgeous private beaches without encountering another soul. In fact, the only human contact you’ll want is from your private butler, who can arrange anything from a champagne breakfast on the beach to a meeting with the island’s apothecary. Frégate Island’s record of environmental preservation is second to none, proved by the fact they were voted ‘world saver’ finalists at the 2008 Condé Nast Traveler Awards. In accordance with the preservation of the island’s ecology, the two restaurants and two bars serve seasonal produce from the plantation and hydroponics house with the emphasis on simplicity and freshness. Bespoke meals, however, can be arranged anywhere on the island, with high tea on the Glacis Serf lookout being one of the most picturesque. Leisurely activities include a tour with the island’s chef, wine tasting in

But with so much white sand, blue sea and general Robinson Cruesoeesque privacy, there’s little wonder that some guests stay for months in this peace-seekers’ idyll. Lashings of crayon-box colours, the kind of sun-spangled welcome no place can

Frégate’s extensive wine cellar, and a visit to the Rock Spa – where bespoke products are created from over 160 natural ingredients grown on the island, so you can be pampered as only nature intended. If that all sounds a little too relaxed for your liking, then there are plenty of active options available. Frégate’s marina overlooks a turquoise lagoon and offers kayaks, sailing boats and yachts for excursions into the crystal clear waters of the Indian Ocean. Windsurfing, snorkelling and PADI-certified scuba diving are also available. To get even more in touch with the nature of the island, there are ten guided walks available through the jungle where the only other residents you’re likely to encounters are the likes of the Seychelles magpie robin and the Aldabra giant tortoise. If this all sounds appealing (how could it not?) then there are 16 villas on the island with their own terrace, Jacuzzi and infinity pool, and the owner’s private villa on a secluded plateau is also currently available for hire. Children are more than welcome (under fives are free), and there’s a Castaway Clubhouse complete with babysitting service to keep them entertained. fregate.com

fake, plus points for political stability, no racial tension, no large predators, little crime and no malaria. That’s the Seychelles. What more could you ask? ■

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indian ocean seychelles

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indian ocean seychelles

◀ it’s dive o’clock The Seychelles offers varied diving experiences for the amateur and aficionado alike, ranging from the imposing granite seascapes of the inner islands to the caves, canyons and spectacular wall-dives offered by the remoter outer islands. From May to September the winds blow south-easterly, causing a proliferation of plankton and the appearance of pelagic fish such as manta rays and whale sharks, proving a major attraction for divers. seychelles.travel

▼ yachts up doc…

▶ rod almighty

The Seychelles’ sparkling islands offer a refreshing new cruising horizon for sailors. Good moorings and easy sailing distances between the main islands facilitate the discovery of a wide selection of islands and secluded bays. Located outside the cyclone belt with no risk of contracting malaria, yellow fever, cholera or other common tropical diseases and with a sublime tropical climate, Seychelles offers a carefree, year-round cruising season. seychelles.travel

Whether watching your marlin explode from the surf somewhere on the Amirantes bank, or locked in battle with a sailfish within the shadow of Silhouette Island, jigging for dogtooth tuna in deep azure water or catching record weight bone fish on the flats of Alphonse – fishing anywhere amid the heart-stopping beauty of the Seychelles’ 115 islands and the fishrich waters that surround them is an experience not soon forgotten. Seychelles is the fisherman’s Shangri-La where, day after day, cloudless skies merge opulently with a sapphire ocean and where the closest fishing boat is probably hours away. – Glynn Burridge

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guide

the jungle look The Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica in Peru offers a truly unique view from the rainforest treetops. sally McIlhone investigates...

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peru inkaterra

FroM Peru’s Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica comes a palace fit for a king... of the jungle. The Canopy Tree House gives a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘getting back to nature’, as it sits perched 27m high among the jungle’s highest treetops. This is real Tarzan territory (if Tarzan was scrubbed up, suited, booted and hired by JP Morgan). After dining on the fruits of the rainforest, dazzle your Jane with a midnight stroll on Inkaterra’s canopy walkway before retiring to reconnect with your primal instincts. The two-person tree house is constructed in the native Ese’Eja village style with a wooden interior and exterior and a palm-thatched roof. It also comes complete with the services of a canopy butler – contactable by a walkie-talkie. He’ll be happy to bring you breakfast, dinner and an afternoon sundowner cocktail too – and all for the standard room rate of $300 per person. From the remarkable vantage point high in the canopy, you can observe a range of wild animal species that are not usually visible from the ground. When you’re ready to leave your treetop paradise, there’s plenty more to see: the Reserva Amazonica is in the biodiversity capital of Peru, among 12,000ha of private ecological reserve. The best way to enjoy the area is through a range of land and river excursions that introduce guests to the magic of the rainforest and the meandering Madre de Dios river.

●● We advise you to leave swinging from trees to Johnny Weissmuller squaremileclub.com

A river runs through it: local guides take guests on a tour of the Madre de Dios river

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica also provides the perfect location for a guilt-free environmentally friendly holiday: the limited-electricity lodge has attracted eco-tourists for over three decades and promotes sustainable use of the Peruvian rainforest, supporting important scientific research since opening back in 1975. All that leaves is for you to pursue your guilty pleasures elsewhere. Head to the dining pavilion for exquisitely presented cuisine, creatively prepared using local ingredients and native techniques. To finish off, the Canopy bar is an idyllic venue in which to enjoy a nightcap under the stars. One word of warning: when it comes to getting back to your room, we advise you to leave swinging from the trees to Johnny Weissmuller. ■ Last Frontiers (01296 653 000; lastfrontiers.com) offers a ten-night trip to Peru from £4,192 per person (based on two sharing) including one night in Lima, three nights at Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica staying in the new Canopy Tree House, two nights at Inkaterra La Casona and two nights at Inkaterra Machu Picchu. Price includes flights, transfers, accommodation and selected meals. Valid until end of Nov 2009. 0800 458 7506; inkaterra.com

INKATERRA LA CASONA

Let’s face it, not every man is a born adventurer; even Bear grylls can’t deny the draw of a few home comforts. so if jungle living isn’t your bag, inkaterra La Casona provides a more civilised alternative. this luxury 11-suite manor house stands in the dazzling Plaza de Las nazarenas at the heart of the historical city of Cusco and provides a unique insight into historical Peruvian culture. the interior blends antique furnishings and original murals with modern convenience, including your own private lounge and dining area, adjustable heated floors, sumptuous marble spa bathroom and 24-hour butler service.

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se asia thailand

losing the backpack

Thailand? All hammocks, magic mushrooms, full-moon parties… Think again, says Martin Deeson dazzled by the transformation of the past decade You never forget the first time you visit Thailand. The wall of hot, wet air that hits you the minute the plane door opens, the tropical lushness of the flowers and plants that spring up after a monsoon shower and the unbelievably good food you can buy on every street corner. Any readers, or movie fans, of The Beach will know the allure this peninsula kingdom has held for backpackers for over 30 years and their constant search for the next deserted island to colonise with their full-moon parties and magic-mushroom milk shakes. But where there were allnight raves a decade ago, there are now spas – and on islands which until only recently held little more than a collection of bamboo huts to stay in, there are now villas and restaurants to rival any in the world. ▶

●● there is a tropical lushness after a monsoon shower squaremileclub.com

FOUR SeaSOnS CHIanG MaI Thai people call Chiang Mai (the capital of Northern Thailand) the Rose of the North and it is here that western visitors come for hill trekking, elephant watching, mountain biking, rafting, golf and a famous night bazaar. The four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai is set in lush countryside in the middle of working paddy fields, complete with water buffalo, and also houses a spa and Thai cooking school within its grounds. If it wasn’t for the 350 mystical temples and fabulous bargains to be found within Chiang Mai proper, you might never want to leave. If you’re looking to invest, then you’ll want one of the 16 residences in the resort’s grounds. Otherwise one of the 64 garden pavilions are equally spectacular and each one is decorated lavishly, like a Northern Thai mini-palace. If you fancy finding out how to make the perfect green curry, or something more exotic like a gaeng hang lay (that’s a dry spiced curry with pork and pickled garlic, to you), you’re in the right place; the hotel cookery school is world-renowned. Four Seasons Resort Chiang Mai; rooms from £277 per night; visit fourseasons.com/chiangmai

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se asia thailand

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ORIent expReSS As anyone who has ever seen the movie knows, riding on the Orient Express can be murder. Luckily, for modern travellers, the only way you’d face death on the Orient Express today is from over-eating. After being re-launched in 1982, running restored 1920s and 1930s carriages from London to Venice as the Venice-Simplon Orient Express, the company now runs a chain of colonially decadent five-star hotels all over the world, and has extended its network of luxury trains to include journeys across America, Africa and Europe as well as the South East Asian service which runs from Chiang Mai, in the mountainous north of Thailand, to Bangkok and then on to Penang and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, before curling its way round

the Malaysian peninsula finally to end up in Singapore. This is a total distance of over 1,200 miles as the crow flies, but in this case considerably more for the crow who has decided to don a jacket and tie, and take a seat in one of the train’s two restaurant cars and do the entire distance while supping on a perfectly-made martini. square mile opted for a slightly shorter version of the journey, joining the train in Bangkok and leaving at Kuala Lumpur – which still gave us three days and two nights to experience the unusual feeling of staying in a long, rocking five-star hotel, with ever-changing views and a dress code for dinner. The views, it almost goes without saying, are stunning: few things can

compete with waking up and sipping your morning tea in bed while you glide past a paddy field full of buffalo. That said, in some ways it is the view inside the train that impresses the most. Almost every interior surface – from the walls of the outside observation car to the bar and the restaurants and even your own cabin – are panelled with intricate marquetry. We found that few things are more pleasurable than dozing off after an excellent lunch in a woodpanelled rocking cradle as Malaysia glides past. Heaven… Prices start at £1,160 per person, BangkokSingapore, based on two people sharing a Pullman cabin; (Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur, available from £990); 0845 077 2222; orient-express.com

▶ Not so long ago, Thailand was a budget traveller’s dream – now the choice for a luxury traveller who wants a little of that Thai relaxation is almost overwhelming. When I first went to Thailand back in 1994 – to Koh Phangan and Koh Samui – I thought I’d landed on the set of Apocalypse Now. For an impoverished writer on one of the first men’s mags it seemed like Thailand was literally a destination made in heaven. For £10 per night you could stay in a hut on a beach that never saw more than 20 people on it, and for £5 per day you could eat (and drink) like a king. I went back to the same beach this ▶

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●● some people will always regret the gradual passing of thailand’s unspoilt beauty ▶ trip, and there are three hotels where there used to be one collection of huts. However, for every development that has sprung up to cope with the German hordes and the half-term Highgate massive there is also a luxury development, in some hidden bay on some of even the busiest islands where you will find a temple of glass and design to soothe and smooth the London frown lines. On the other side of the peninsula, the island of Phuket has largely been sacrificed on the altar of package holidays, but even here you can find small boutique hideaways tucked away, and Koh Lanta is rapidly spawning some excellent luxury retreats. End your stay with a dose of Bangkok – even amidst the crowds in the Temple of the Emerald Buddha you can find some old-style Thai spirituality, sitting side-by-side with the rampant changes in South East Asia’s most developed country. Some people will always regret the gradual passing of Thailand’s reputation for unspoilt beauty in exchange for luxury residences and resorts, but for those who want little more than a hammock for their holiday chillin’, then other parts of South East Asia are more than happy to oblige: Vietnam and Cambodia are gearing up to become the next Thailand, while Thailand becomes the next Riviera.

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▼ FOUR SeaSOnS BanGkOk ‘When in doubt, book into the Four Seasons’ is a mantra that will serve you well in life. And in Bangkok – an essential stop on any trip to South East Asia – it holds truer than ever. For those a little bowled over if it is their first visit to this frenetic city, the Four Seasons is an island of serenity amid a sea of tuk-tuks, fake watches and lady boys. The Madison restaurant serves some of the finest steak this correspondent has eaten this side of Argentina – for the connoisseur of Japanese beef there is a choice of matsuzaka, kobe and wagyu beef from which to choose. And sited as it is in the middle of Bangkok’s corporate and shopping district (right by a SkyTrain station), the hotel is a great base whether you’re in the City for business, or to stop for a quick shopping trip before heading for the beach. And if you need any help finding the best place to buy Thai antiques, or need a tailor to run you up a suit, just ask the concierge. Four Seasons are known to be the best in the business. From £125 per room per night; fourseasons.com/bangkok

▲ COSta lanta One of the best places to gauge just how much Thailand has changed from backpacker hangout to luxury destination is on the island of Ko Lanta. Less than ten years ago, there was little here apart from hammocks rocking gently in the breeze on a deserted beach. Now, although the beaches are still relatively undisturbed, places such as Costa Lanta have sprung up, like a New York bar and restaurant beamed down into a palm grove. There are 14 bungalows built from wood, glass and concrete, and Sofia Coppola is said to be a fan of Costa Lanta’s approach to relaxation. This attempts to bring the outdoors indoors through innovative design and respect for the environment. Unusually for Thailand, no trees were harmed in the making of this hotel. Prices from £110 (£55 May-Sept) costalanta.com, +66 2662 3550

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ArounD the worlD in 18 DAys squaremileclub.com

Jumeirah Carlton tower, london ✈ UK ☎ 020 7235 1234 W jumeirahcarltontower.com For a hotel that means business, the Jumeirah Carlton Tower scores top marks for its Knightsbridge location and superb leisure facilities – just two of the reasons why it was voted ‘Best UK Business Hotel’ at the Condé Nast Readers’ Travel Awards in 2008. Offering panoramic city views and overlooking leafy gardens, the fresh and contemporary elements of Jumeirah Carlton Tower’s 220 luxury rooms and suites combine sophistication with true luxury. Six stunning new suites designed by Khuan Chew are the newest addition to this superb London hotel.

GeorGe V, Paris ✈ France ☎ 01306 747015 W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Named by Condé Nast Traveller as “the best Four Seasons property in the world”, this five-star hotel is just 100 yards from Champs Elysée. Rooms come with a view of the Eiffel Tower and some come with their own terrace. There is a spa, pool, gardens and 14,000 flowers are arranged every week for the hotel by floral designer Jeff Leatham. The restaurant has been voted 24th best in the world by Restaurant magazine, so you can enjoy the full Parisian experience all from one hotel.

SUITE DREAMS: (clockwise, from top left) George V; Jumierah Carlton Tower; Verbier; Tunisia This hotel is a particular favourite with such stellar celebs as George Clooney. Not surprising, given its imposing neo-classical solidity and woodpanelled elegance. Like all Fairmont hotels, this is a ‘Grand hotel’ in the true

ski Verbier ✈ Switzerland ☎ 0207 401 1101

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☎ +49 (40) 34 94 3180

Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen

W fairmont.com/hamburg

BenjamIn DIsraeLI

Fairmont Jahreszeiten, hamburG ✈ Germany

sense – 19th-century style overlooking the shores of Lake Alster. It seems to belong to a bygone era of indulgence – afternoon tea while listening to live piano recitals is a city institution. Of the eight restaurants, the Haerlin restaurant is one of Germany’s finest, awarded a Michelin star in recognition.

W skiverbier.com Winter 2009/10 will be Ski Verbier’s 18th season of offering unrivalled ski chalets and boutique hotel accommodation in the Swiss resort of Verbier with exceptional standards of accommodation, service and cuisine. Ski Verbier offers weekend breaks and longer stays with a transfer time of less than two hours from Geneva airport. For a copy of the new brochure please call, or visit the website.

asPeCts oF tunisia ✈ Tunisia ☎ 020 8994 1011 W aspectsoftunisia.co.uk Beautiful sandy beaches, colourful markets, unique archaeological treasures, the natural wonders of the Sahara Desert, all within three hours from London: think Tunisia. Four- and five-star hotels featured by Tunisia specialists Wigmore Holidays offer excellent facilities, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, tennis courts, fitness centres, water sports and state-of-the-art thalassotherapy spas. Scheduled flights from Heathrow and Gatwick.

Details ✈ Country ☎ Contact W Web

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HOTEL HEAVEN: (left to right) Al Moudira in Egypt; Mara Bushtops in Kenya; Banyan Tree in Phuket; (below) Huvafen Fushi in Maldives

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To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries

aLDous HuxLey

hotel al moudira ✈ Egypt ☎ 01306 747015 W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Its design redolent of an opulent Egyptian palace, its gardens a splash of oasis colour on the edge of the desert, and its elegant domes and arches creating an enclave of cossetted calm, Al Moudira will take your breath away. On the west bank of the Nile in a secluded and tranquil setting, the hotel is close to the Valleys of the Kings and Queens, and about a 30-minute drive from central Luxor. It is lavishly adorned with antiques and artistry, from centuriesold carved doorways to

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trickling fountains and ornate arabesques in shaded courtyards, all blending seamlessly with contemporary facilities including a small spa, large swimming pool and sunbathing terraces. Dining venues include al fresco courtyard tables, elegance under the chandeliers of The Great Room, and service by the pool and the Pavilion’s scented gardens.

kemPinski ishtar, amman ✈ Jordan ☎ +962 5 356 8888 W kempinskideadsea.com At this resort you’ll be at the Earth’s lowest point, 420m below sea level, but the scenery and hotel will give you a real high. The endless pools and palms attracted Tony Blair to the hotel, which boasts three restaurants and its own beach that’s the longest in Jordan at 450m. Originally rocky, it has had sand imported from Egypt. One of the best features of the resort is the view of the Dead Sea. Can’t swim? Not to worry – with 30 per cent salt you won’t get that sinking feeling.

mara bushtoPs ✈ Kenya ☎ 01306 747015 W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Raised above the plains

for fabulous views, and combining the tranquillity of a supremely luxurious camp with the adventure of its location, Mara Bushtops is one of the finest recent additions to the Mara and is exclusive to Kuoni clients in the UK. This award-winning camp is surrounded by a private conservancy enabling visitors to enjoy off-road and night-game drives, and borders the Masai Mara.

le touessrok, trou d’eau douCe ✈ Mauritius ☎ 01306 747015 W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Known as a honeymoon destination, this is the perfect hotel for couples. The service is impeccable, with 900 staff serving 200 rooms. If you’re relaxing in the sun there is even a flag system – red means ‘Leave me in privacy’ and blue means ‘Service, please’. The hotel holds three restaurants, and secluded pools and private bays. When you arrive at your room you’re greeted by champagne on ice and you can even take the flutes home with you. To save any honeymoon bust-ups, the bathroom is his’n’hers – but if you’ve taken the children along with you there is a Kids’ Club for some private one-on-one time.

huVaFen Fushi ✈ Maldives

banyan tree, Phuket ✈ Thailand

☎ 01306 747015

☎ 01306 747015

W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Follow sand paths from luxurious palm-thatched bungalows with private pools to the only underwater spa in the Maldives. There’s a unique LIME spa with underwater glass treatment rooms; luxury boats for private charter; an infinity pool; a flotation pool; watersports; a PADI dive school; and an air-conditioned library with television and internet. Dining options are hugely varied – from private location service to the sand floor Celcius restaurant, Folgliani’s pizza under the palms, or fine dining over the lagoon.

W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Phuket’s famous Banyan Tree is one of the finest experiences of indulgence, relaxation and total pampering in the world. This exceptional resort is perfectly romantic with unrivalled service levels and undoubtedly the best range of pool villas in Thailand. Hemming the sands of Bang Tao Bay, facilities include watersports, tennis courts, a fitness pavilion, lap pool, swimming pool, 18-hole golf course and award-winning spa. And there’s a choice of romantic restaurants for seafood, Thai cuisine and Mediterranean menus.

Park hyatt, shanGhai ✈ China ☎ +86 21 6888 1234

Details ✈ Country ☎ Contact W Web

W shanghai.park.hyatt.com This is the world’s highest hotel – to really feel the altitude shift visit the pool, which covers a whole floor. Every level has fantastic views of the city’s skyline with floor-to-ceiling windows. Your room contains a slimline TV, walk-in cupboard and command switches, ranging from “Get me food” to “Leave me alone”. The mini-bar has five different malt whiskies as standard.

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globe trotting

guide

in the heart of the tropical rainforest. Tabacón provides luxurious accommodations, services and amenities in a picture-perfect natural setting. The unique thermal springs emerge from the volcanic earth, cascading to form waterfalls, streams, tranquil pools and ponds surrounded by lush tropical gardens. As the perfect complement to a relaxing experience, inside the gardens you’ll find The Grand Spa (a member of Leading Spas of the World). Treatments are given in 11 open-air bungalows, all complete with Jacuzzis.

Jade mountain Club at anse Chastanet resort ✈ St Lucia ☎ 01306 747015

GIMME FIVE-STAR: Tabacón Resort; NY Four Seasons; Jade Mountain Club; Indigo Patagonia

Palazzo VersaCe, Gold Coast, Queensland ✈ Australia ☎ 01306 747015 W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Want over-the-top glamour? Think Versace. The cocktail bar is a local institution. But if you can drag yourself away, local landmarks include Conrad Jupiters Hotel Casino, racing, water sports and surfing. You’re surrounded by mountains, sun and sea – and D-list celebs crawling out of the jungle. Give our regards to Ant and Dec.

indiGo PataGonia hotel & sPa ✈ Chile ☎ +56 61 413 609 W indigopatagonia.com Patagonia is a place where

38 squaremile

people come looking for extreme experiences: trekking the confines of the earth, enduring the roughness of its climate. At Hotel Spa Indigo Patagonia a spa is located on the hotel’s top floor: one sauna, two massage rooms, and three impressive outdoor Jacuzzis directly facing the fjord and the distant glaciers: a breathtaking view of the shaped clouds and almost unreal light. A clever system of bridges, ramps and staircases allows an interesting route into the

building. The atmosphere inside the rooms is cosy and intimate, a welcome contrast to the monumental feeling of the public areas. The decoration, is minimalist and comfortable at the same time. The warm coloured sofas in the lobby and lounge, the chimneys and the hammocks suggest peace and relaxation after long days of trekking in Torres del Paine.

tabaCón Grand sPa thermal resort ✈ Costa Rica ☎ +506 2519 1999

Details ✈ Country ☎ Contact W Web

W tabacon.com Tabacón Grand Spa Thermal Resort is a five-star hotel member of the Leading Hotels of the World located in Costa Rica’s northern region, at the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano

W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile Imagine a room that is part of nature, an enormous expanse of luxury rising regally from a hillside, with a seamless edge of private pool disappearing into the Caribbean – taking your gaze to the majestic Pitons (pictured) and beyond… this is Jade Mountain. Voted the best resort in the Caribbean and ranked third hotel worldwide at the prestigious Travel and Leisure Awards Ceremony 2009.

Four seasons new york ✈ US ☎ 00800 6488 6488 W fourseasons.com/newyorkfs Rising over Manhattan’s premier shopping and business district, ideally located between Park and Madison, the Four Seasons Hotel New York features stunning views over the city that never sleeps. There’s the usual selection of luxurious facilities you’d expect – such as the

●●

The first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it

ruDyarD KIpLIng

world class spa and fitness centre – plus there’s one of New York’s most coveted dining spots, L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. And on 20 September, there will be one more reason to visit: a new restaurant, The Garden, will be opening that will convert into a vibrant wine bar in the evenings.

ritz-Carlton, near dublin ✈ Ireland ☎ 01306 747015 W kuoni.co.uk/squaremile The hotel has everything from a café to small boutiques and the usual spa/pool/Jacuzzi combo. What is original is the traditional Irish pub inside. The hotel’s restaurant is run by Gordon Ramsay and offers some of his signature dishes to choose from while you overlook the gardens from its balcony. This vast hotel is set upon hills that stretch as far as the eye can see. If you want to explore the grounds, the hotel will give you picnics and bikes. But if r’n’r is what you’re after, you’ve come to the right place. Fill the tub and settle back to watch a DVD – the bathroom even comes with its own TV.

squaremileclub.com


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ROOM WITH A VIEW

GUIDE

DEEP BLUE SEE

As well as boasting the most extravagant launch party in history, MARK HEDLEY finds that the Atlantis can lay claim to the best view in the world

AFTER A $20M launch party complete with a fireworks show that was visible from outer space, The Atlantis Hotel on The Palm Jumeirah had a lot of live up to. And it delivered, in gold-plated spades. Transporting guests into a dazzling, imaginative world, the 1,539-room resort encompasses a 46ha site with 17ha of waterpark at

40 SQUAREMILE

Aquaventure; extensive fresh and salt-water pools and lagoon exhibits; an open-aired marine habitat; a seemingly endless stretch of beach; luxury boutiques aplenty; dining choices too numerous to count; a nightclub; a spa and fitness club; and 5,600 sq m of meeting and convention space… oh, and did I mention this place was in Dubai?

But most impressive of all is the Poseidon suite where the view is – for once, without exaggeration – truly unique: an underwater paradise of which Jules Verne would be envious. At £4,900 per night it’s not cheap, but what makes the vista so rare is that there’s not one crane or unfinished building in sight. ■ atlantisthepalm.com

squaremileclub.com


  

   ´          

Do you remember the best holiday you’ve ever experienced? Now picture something beer. Kuoni’s handpicked selection features polo lessons in Argentina and samba classes in Brazil. Book today.

� Argentina £2295pp

� Mexico £1799pp

� Brazil £pp

Faena Hotel & Universe, Buenos Aires

Mandarin Oriental Riviera Maya

Fasano, Rio De Janeiro

5 nights room & breakfast 1 April-31 May 2010

Includes polo lesson

    

01306 747015

5 nights room & breakfast 3 April-31 May 2010

7 nights room & breakfast 3-31 May 2010

Save up to

 

0844 557 3777

£

Includes samba class

  

www.kuoni.co.uk

Prices are per person based on � adults sharing a room. Savings featured are per couple and against prices on www.kuoni.co.uk and brochured airlines as at time of going to press. All prices are correct at time of going to press. Holidays are subject to availability and change. See Kuoni Worldwide ���� or Kuoni World Class ���� brochures or visit www.kuoni.co.uk for more details and booking conditions.


  

   ´          

Do you remember the best holiday you’ve ever experienced? Now picture something beer. Kuoni’s handpicked selection features the finest luxury hotels on the planet and unforge able experiences. Book today.

� South Africa £pp � Zanzibar £ pp

� Mauritius £pp

Grand Roche

The Oberoi Mauritius

Baraza

5 nights room & breakfast 1 May-3 June 2010 Includes Harley Davidson ride Save up to

7 nights all inclusive 20 Jan-28 Feb 2010

£

    

01306 747015

7 nights room & breakfast 5 Feb-19 March 2010

Save up to

 

0844 557 3777

£ 

Save up to

£2050

  

www.kuoni.co.uk

Prices are per person based on � adults sharing a room. Savings featured are per couple and against prices on www.kuoni.co.uk and brochured airlines as at time of going to press. All prices are correct at time of going to press. Holidays are subject to availability and change. See Kuoni Worldwide ���� or Kuoni World Class ���� brochures or visit www.kuoni.co.uk for more details and booking conditions.

Profile for Square Up Media Ltd.

Square Mile Guides - Luxury Travel - 2009  

Square Mile Magazine, The Best of the City, Luxury Travel Guide, 2009 (Issue 42)

Square Mile Guides - Luxury Travel - 2009  

Square Mile Magazine, The Best of the City, Luxury Travel Guide, 2009 (Issue 42)