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ISSUE 18 AUG-SEP 2017


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Enjoy welcome dinner and breakfast at Juniper restaurant

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Rates are based on two adults sharing

Welcome kahwa & dates on arrival, fruit basket in your suite

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HIGHLIGHTS AUGUST-SEPTEMBER 2017 ISSUE 18

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BAROQUE MASTERPIECE

Packed full of history, with artistic and architectural gems around every corner, VALLETTA, with its expansive harbours and sea views, is also visually stunning. Whether you like your city breaks culture packed or more relaxed, Valletta has something for everyone. Alex Benasuli discovers that in the case of Malta’s breathtaking baroque masterpiece, smaller is undeniably grander.

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GASTRONOMIC GOD OF THE SEAS

LEFTERIS LAZAROU, one of Greece’s most famous chefs, has without doubt elevated the sophistication of Greek cuisine, far from what most people perceive to be stereotypical of the country's food. Winning his Michelin star fifteen years ago, his harbour-side restaurant, Varoulko Seaside, is widely considered to be the finest seafood eatery in Athens today.

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PRICELESS KIWI COASTLINE

Owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov, estimated to have cost USD 50 million to build and voted the world's best new luxury hotel of 2016, HELENA BAY is an adults-only oceanfront retreat for just ten guests, situated on two miles of stunning coastline in the northeast corner of New Zealand’s North Island.

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NEW KID ON THE BLOCK

Located one road back from the seafront, St. James’s Street is busy, vibrant, and slightly shabby, home to some of Brighton’s most colourful residents, and a micro capsule of the city’s distinctive spirit as a whole. Right in the middle, behind a small and unobtrusive shopfront, is newcomer BLOCK, one of the city's hidden culinary and hospitality gems.

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WIN A DREAMY EMIRATI ISLAND WEEKEND

Located on the beautiful eastern shores of the paradise Emirati isle of Sir Bani Yas, ANANTARA AL YAMM VILLA RESORT offers a unique experience that combines beachside luxury with exotic wildlife and every hospitality amenity. Win a two-night half board villa stay for two people, including a bespoke couple’s massage, a thrilling island activity and dinners at your choice of restaurants.

4 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


BURNING MAN Revellers get into the spirit of Burning Man, held every year in Nevada's unforgiving Black Rock Desert which sees almost 70,000 people come together for one of the most iconic festivals on the planet 27 August - 4 September 2017 www.burningman.org


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CONTENTS 82 8 EDITOR’S LETTER 10 NEWSFLASH

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The Cultured Traveller rounds-up the unmissable events and summer festivals happening around the world in August and September 2017, including Siena's epic horse race IL PALIO, South West England’s annual BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA, northeast Niger’s spectacular male beauty parade CURE SALÉE, the 72nd annual LA TOMATINA in the pretty Valencian town of Buñol, and the world's largest annual Volksfest, the 16-day OKTOBERFEST in Munich.

18 REST YOUR HEAD 158

10 18

Our regular round-up of a dozen new or notable global hospitality establishments includes the breathtaking Mozambican ANDBEYOND BENGUERRA ISLAND resort in the Indian Ocean; FOUR SEASONS HOTEL AT THE SURF CLUB, which is making waves in Miami’s social and style circles; PROVOCATEUR in West Berlin, designed to encourage guests to push their boundaries; and the splendid palace-like OBEROI SUKHVILAS in Chandigarh - the only Indian city planned by world renowned Swiss-French architect Le Corbusier.

48

82 SUITE ENVY Occupying one of the Austrian capital’s most prestigious addresses, PARK HYATT VIENNA is a skillful reimagination of the handsome neoclassical former headquarters of Bank Austria, a city landmark affectionately known as “The Pearl of Vienna”. Nicholas Chrisostomou road tests the hotel’s bejeweled and mother-of-pearl-encrusted yet divinely comfortable EUR 5,000/night PRESIDENTIAL SUITE.

92 BOARDING PASS Better known as the viper-tongued queen of the comedy skies, Australian comedienne Caroline Reid has been playing her turbo-charged airline hostess alter ego PAM ANN for more than two decades. Catty, cutting and often crude, Reid’s shows are an addictively entertaining environment where literally no-one watching is safe from either Pam demanding help or dishing out a piece of her indecent mind.

112 NO SHOES REQUIRED Set on a wide, sandy beach, part of one of the most picture-perfect bays on the Aegean Sea, a hillside cluster of one-time grey-stone miners’ quarters built a century ago have been artistically updated to create a unique

140


92 hospitality destination. Nicholas Chrisostomou experiences an authentic slice of Hellenic history on the Greek island of Serifos at COCO-MAT ECO RESIDENCES.

122 SPOTLIGHT For the past few years, the capital of Georgia has been hell-bent on proving that it’s also the capital of the Southeastern United States. Its place carved into fiction and folklore, Dilraz Kunnummal visits ATLANTA, the city where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up, and Margaret Mitchell wrote and based her timeless award-winning literary classic Gone With The Wind.

132 TRAVELLER LOWDOWN Boasting everything from sun to snow, technicoloured sandy beaches to actively erupting volcanoes, vast barren lava fields to lush tropical rain forests, and snorkeling to whale watching and even diving with manta rays, Sam Henderson and her family visit HAWAI’I, the United States’ largest island and home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kīlauea.

140 TASTE & SIP REVIEW Combining longstanding gastronomic traditions of Parisian fine dining with the global reputation for luxury and

50

excellence that Peninsula hotels are renowned for, LILI makes for an über chic and exotic addition to the French capital’s restaurant scene, and is a divine ode to Cantonese cooking. Alex Benasuli succumbs to the charms of probably the French capital’s finest Chinese restaurant.

158 MUSIC & NIGHT LIFE In 2013 aged just 25, Robbert Van De Corput, better known by his DJ moniker of HARDWELL, beat fellow countryman Armin Van Buuren to the number one spot of DJ Magazine's top 100 DJ poll. Yet despite his meteoric rise, the EDM superstar still has his feet firmly planted on terra firma. The Cultured Traveller interviews the young Dutchman who signed his first record deal just out of puberty.

152 171

171 STYLISH GLOBETROTTER Sponsored by Gucci, six years in planning and curated by Hamish Bowles (Editor-at-Large of American Vogue), Dawn Gibson walks through a unique exhibition at one of England’s most magnificent country estates - HOUSE STYLE: FIVE CENTURIES OF FASHION AT CHATSWORTH - which showcases a swathe of leading British and international fashion designers in decadent surroundings.

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Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 7


EDITOR’S LETTER

T

here used to be a time when the first thing I did every morning, without fail and no matter which country I happened to be in, was switch on BBC World. After a caffeine fix, of course. Despite the horrible goings-on around the globe, and some of the downright ghastly things we do to one another in the name of religion, military domination or some other excuse, I would sit in front of the box, mug in hand, glued to the most recent news. Or get dressed to the background of a BBC newscaster filling me in on what had transpired overnight. It was a ritual. Until very recently that is, when I rediscovered the true meaning of a vacation and switching-off. Granted, the “vacation” only commenced after a period of sleeping for almost twenty hours straight, waking only to eat and hydrate before drifting back into unconsciousness. But, once rested, I spent a lot of time padding around (mostly barefoot) completely uncaring of what was happening in the outside world, and certainly not fussed to switch-on the TV in my lodgings. You might ask why I hadn’t discovered sooner, an ability to disconnect from the news and life in general? No idea.

Perhaps because we are so god damn constantly connected these days and social media is rammed down our throats at every moment. The moral of this story? Use your valuable holiday time neither to watch the news, catch-up with Facebook, or spend so much time looking through the viewfinder of a camera that you don’t actually see the place you’re visiting. Live the vacation and feel the destination. Otherwise what’s the point in going away?! In this issue, Alex Benasuli visits the beautiful baroque Maltese capital of Valletta (page 50), Dawn Gibson walks through a unique fashion exhibition at one of England’s most magnificent country estates (page 171) and Sam Henderson takes her family to Hawai’i, home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world. Dilraz Kunnummal discovers that the capital of Georgia is hell-bent on proving that it’s also the capital of the Southeastern United States. Comedienne Caroline Reid (aka Pam Ann) chats to TCT about her career, Cher, Elton John and flying the comedy skies (page 92). And I was lucky enough to disconnect (and not watch the news) at an utterly unique hospitality destination, on the refreshingly unspoilt Cycladic island of Serifos in the Aegean, which, it has to be said, I did not want to leave, and I don’t confess this often (page 112). Our August-September issue is always published at the height of summer, when a good proportion of the world is on holiday. So hopefully you will be reading this and the rest of The Cultured Traveller, rather than tuning into a TV news station! Bonnes vacances!

Nicholas Chrisostomou Editor-in-Chief

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CONTRIBUTORS

ALEX BENASULI

DAWN GIBSON

SAM HENDERSON

DILRAZ KUNNUMMAL

Alex has been traveling the world his whole life. Growing up in New York City, he would accompany his family every summer on visits to relatives in Spain, France and Germany. A successful two-decade career in finance often took him to Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Russia, India, Indonesia and all over the Far East. Today, as an avid yoga practitioner and part-time teacher, Alex has a keen appreciation for combining luxury highbrow urban travels with off the beaten track alternative destinations and experiences.

Dawn Gibson is a multi-tasking journalist who is passionate about travel, fashion, food, culture and the arts. Never happier than when about to board a plane en route to a far-flung part of the globe, she is also a keen scuba diver always in search of the perfect coral reef. Dawn has worked as a senior news reporter for a leading city daily newspaper in Australia and as editor for a glossy lifestyle magazine in the Middle East. Her work has appeared in numerous international print and online publications, including Qatar Airways’ first class magazine Oryx Premium.

Travelling is a passion, hobby and way of life for born globetrotter Sam Henderson. She has lived in and travelled throughout Germany, Ukraine and Japan, can speak their mother tongues, and is a pro at setting-up home in foreign climes. In 2006 she ventured round the world to Canada, the States, Western Samoa, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa with her husband and two children. Right now Sam is again on the road, this time for a year with her three kids (aged 9, 11 and 13) driving across the USA from coast to coast, then on to various Asia Pacific destinations.

Journalist, public speaker, dancer, explorer and mum to a cheeky one year-old, Dilraz has a decade of experience working in the media industry across India and the Middle East. Her portfolio includes being the editor for a women’s magazine, heading a business publication’s editorial team, running a corporate newspaper and producing radio shows for a channel with 45 stations across India. A lifelong expat, Dilraz enjoys learning more about different cultures and so can be usually spotted at museums and exhibitions - when she is not eating out or spending time with her family.

CITY FOCUS

STYLISH GLOBETROTTER

TRAVELLER LOWDOWN

SPOTLIGHT

Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 9


MAINE LOBSTER FESTIVAL USA

RIVER PARTY GREECE Billed as the biggest music and camping festival in Greece and now in its 39th year, River Party has become the annual meeting place for over 50,000 people for almost four decades. Six days of events take place

10 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

in Nestorio, at the foothills of mount Grammos, close to the headwaters of Aliákmonas River - the longest in Greece at almost 300kms. Incorporating Happy People Dance Festival, attending River Party effectively gives festival goers two for the price of one, boasting four stages filled with well-known DJs, musicians and live acts, with pretty much something for everyone, locals and tourists alike. What makes River Party unique is that visitors have the opportunity to camp by the river in a magnificent area of natural beauty, adjacent to the performance stages. This year’s musical line-up includes celebrated Hellenic singer and composer Miltos Pashalidis, psychedelic rock band 1000mods, Greek rock singer Vasilis Papakonstantinou and celebrated Athenian band Imam Baildi, who's music is based on remixing old Greek tunes of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. 2-6 August 2017 www.riverparty.org

Two hours drive from Portland and four from Boston, the 70th annual non-profit celebration of all things lobster is held in the classic American working harbour town of Rockland, the easternmost state in New England. What began seventy years ago as an initiative to revive local Midcoast Maine marine communities has turned into an internationally recognised celebration of local seafood. This family orientated gathering comprises a parade, live music acts, a 10km road race, arts and crafts, nationally renowned entertainers, cooking contests, fairground rides and local Maine craftsmen, not to mention the consumption of more than 20,000lbs of cooked lobster, which is an awful lot of lobster dinners! Add in clams, calamari, scallops and haddock - all freshly sourced from the Atlantic Ocean - and Maine Lobster Festival is without doubt a marine crustacean-lovers culinary dream! 2-6 August 2017 www.mainelobsterfestival.com


WOODSTOCK FESTIVAL POLAND POLAND There aren't many large-scale music festivals in the world today that are completely free to attend. Woodstock in Poland is one of them, which almost certainly guarantees the festival’s mantra of “Love, Friendship and Music”.

BOARDMASTERS U.K. Born in 1981, Boardmasters is a five-day grassroots outdoor summertime surfing and music fest, that takes place along the Cornish coastline in the UK's premiere surfing mecca of Fistral Beach and Watergate Bay. Offering music-led parties that continue until late night and beautiful beaches upon which to relax and recover during the day in preparation for the next evening’s festivities, as well as the partying Boardmasters celebrates the region’s beloved watersport with numerous professional surfing competitions. Meanwhile amateurs and even non-surfers come out to enjoy the diverse beachside fun. Since this year’s Boardmasters will be headlined by none other Grammy

Inspired by America’s famous Woodstock of 1969, the Polish decedent’s runaway success and massive European popularity is due to the festival’s very simple approach that one of act of kindness will surely lead to another and another. Organised by the Great Orchestra of Christmas Charity to acknowledge all the supporters who participate in its massive annual fundraiser, and masterminded by Polish journalist and social campaigner Jerzy Owsiak, Przystanek Woodstock is a peaceful gathering and much more than just a festival. It’s mission is to be “as much about music as harmonious co-existence”, where the huge strain of social and economic hardship dissipates, and love, awareness and understanding permeate throughout. 3-5 August 2017 www.woodstockfestival.pl

award-winning British electro funk band Jamiroquai, together with English indie rock band Alt-J, not to mention DJs Pete Tong, Armen Van Helden and Roger Sanchez, expect the festival to be a complete sell out and the parties more raucous than ever. This is a part of the British Isles that plays hard and parties even harder! 9-13 August 2017 www.boardmasters.co.uk

EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE SCOTLAND Sprawling and diverse with a hefty dose of crazy, “The Fringe” (as it’s affectionately called) began in 1947 when eight alternative theatre companies arrived uninvited and proceeded to perform on the edges of the inaugural Edinburgh International Festival, which was effectively the main event. The following year more groups arrived to perform - again uninvited and were documented by playwright Robert Kemp, as performing “round

the fringe of the official festival” which is how the Fringe got its name. Seven decades on and now celebrating it’s 70th anniversary, the world's largest arts festival is still true to its founding spirit - basically open to anyone and everyone who can afford to get themselves to the diverse Scottish capital in August. The Fringe really is a bit of literally everything, so expect to see student theatre companies next to TV celebrities, comedians standing up alongside jazz musicians, and complete novices vying for the crowds' affections slap bang next to seasoned pros. 4-28 August 2017 www.edfringe.com


BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA UK Billed as “Four Fabulous Days of Free Fun”, Bristol’s annual hot air balloon extravaganza takes place in the delightful surroundings of Ashton Court Estate, which was once the gracious home of the Smyth family, and is now a historic 850-acre park just 10 minutes from the city centre in beautiful South West England. North Somerset's annual hot air balloon extravaganza is Europe’s largest yearly meet for ballooning enthusiasts, attracting more than 150 hot air balloons from across the globe. Witnessing a mass ascent of balloons in all shapes and sizes, lifting into the sky at once and instantly filling it with glorious colours, is truly a spectacular

sight to behold. Not to be missed is the festival’s famous “Night Glow” on Saturday evening 12th August, which sees the balloons inflated and glowing to music after the sun has set, followed by a dazzling fireworks display. A variety of entertainment, arena events and a giant fairground complete the weekend’s carnival-like feel. 10-13 August 2017 www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk 12 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

OBON

IL PALIO JAPAN

An occasion to commemorate one's ancestors and celebrated in Japan for more than half a millennia, Obon is based on a Buddhist legend that tells of the spirits of the deceased returning to earth to visit their families. The main Awa Odori part of Obon lasts for three days every 13-15 August at Tokushima on

Shikoku Island. Obon involves the rituals of hanging chochin lanterns in front of houses to guide in the ancestors' spirits, visiting graves, making food offerings at home altars and temples, and performing the traditional folk dance, bon odori. Obon ends with the beautiful ritual of Toro Nagashi, during which hundreds of candlelit lanterns are released into the ocean, rivers and lakes, floating away and carrying ancestors' spirits back to the afterlife. Since Obon week is one of Japan's three major annual holiday seasons, travelling around the country during this time can be difficult. 13-15 August 2017 www.japan-guide.com

ITALY Deeply rooted in religion, for two days every year Italy's most famous annual sporting event, Siena's Palio, takes over the

city with its epic horse race. As much about pageantry, civic identity and Sienese pride as it is about bareback horse racing, whilst the three-lap race lasts for barely a minute-and-a-half the celebrating lasts for days. But the sight is truly epic and worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. The 16th August race - Palio dell’Assunto - honours the ascension of Mary into heaven, and has been held almost uninterruptedly in Siena’s civic hub, Piazza del Campo, since 1644. Ten of the city’s seventeen districts are represented by a horse and jockey in the race. The seven districts that didn’t race in the previous July or August compete by right and are joined by horses from three lucky repeat districts drawn by ballot. More than half the riders get bucked from their horses which entertains the 40,000-strong Sienese crowd squeezed into the piazza on race day. 16 August 2017 www.ilpalio.org/palioenglish.htm


Discover Nepal

Take a break from routine and explore a vibrant, cultural and energizing experience of what Nepal has to offer. Relive the old traditions and immerse in the sights and sounds of Nepalese hospitality.

For reservations, visit kathmandu.regency.hyatt.com HYATT REGENCY KATHMANDU Boudha, Kathmandu +977 1 5171234 Š2017 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.


MOUNT HAGEN CULTURAL SHOW PAPUA NEW GUINEA Taking place in the large fertile Wahgi Valley in central mainland Papua New Guinea, and named after an old eroded volcano, every year since 1964, the city of Mount Hagen has played host to one of the largest gatherings (known locally as “sing-sings”) in the country, during the third weekend of August. Staged in the Kagamuga Show Ground - conveniently located adjacent to the airport in Mount Hagen - and with more than one hundred tribes in attendance, the concept of this peaceful event is pretty simple: each tribe - clad in elaborate body paint, extravagant colourful headdresses, and jewellery fashioned from bones, tusks and shells - shares

ONAM INDIA

their cultural traditions through costume, dancing and music, and performs a primal dance based on its own unique legend. Quite simply, the winning performance is the one which receives the most applause and biggest reaction from the crowd. 19-20 August 2017 www.pngtours.com

According to popular legend, Onam harvest festival is celebrated to welcome King Mahabali, whose spirit is said to visit Kerala at the beginning of Chingam, the first month of the Hindu Malayalam calendar, at a time when - after three months of heavy rains in India - the skies become clear and blue again, forests turn a lush deep green, lakes and rivers overflow and lotuses and lilies are in full bloom. People put flower mats in front of their houses to welcome the King,

BURNING MAN USA For one week every year, Nevada's unforgiving Black Rock Desert of Gerlach springs to life when 65,000+ revellers come together for Burning Man, the largest outdoor arts festival in North America and one of one of the most iconic festivals on the planet. Described as the ultimate culmination of community, art, self-expression and self-reliance, participants join in the effort to co-create Black Rock City, a temporary metropolis dedicated to art and togetherness. The festival celebrates alternative lifestyles through music, art and the unique comradery that develops during the gathering. The vision is to “bring experiences to people in grand, awe-inspiring and joyful ways that lift the human spirit, address social problems and inspire a 14 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

sense of culture, community and personal engagement.” The event's name comes from the ritual burning of a wooden effigy, which occurs on the last Saturday night of the festival. In 1986 the first Man burnt on a San Francisco Beach. In 2017 the Man will burn on 2nd September. 27 August - 4 September 2017 www.burningman.org

reap the harvest, celebrate and rejoice. Activities during Onam are centred around worshipping, music, dancing, sports, boat races and above all else, eating good food. The most impressive part of the festival is the grand nine-course feast called Onasadya, prepared on Thiruvonam, consisting of up to thirteen essential dishes. Onasadya is served on banana leaves and people sit on a mat laid on the floor to partake of the vast lavish meal. 25 August - 6 September 2017 www.onamfestival.org


WORLD BOG SNORKELLING CHAMPIONSHIPS WALES For more than thirty years since 1985, the small town of Llanwrtyd Wells - set among the Cambrian Mountains in Wales - has played host to the World Bog Snorkelling Championships. This rather unusual and somewhat dirty competition requires individuals to swim two lengths of a 55-metre water-filled trench - cut through the middle of the weed-infested Waen Rhydd peat bog - in the shortest possible time. Not your average sporting event but nevertheless one that is fast growing in popularity, bizarrely what started as a fundraiser has grown over the past three decades into something of a global curiosity, with 2016 seeing more than 150 hardy competitors pay to throw themselves into the murky waters. The rules stipulate that competitors must wear a snorkel and flippers

and complete their swim without using any conventional swimming strokes, with the fastest in both ladies and mens categories are declared the winners. 28 August 2017 www.green-events.co.uk

LA TOMATINA

CURE SALÉE NIGER

SPAIN nd

Now in its 72 year and attended by approximately 30,000 people annually, La Tomatina basically involves participants hurling more than 100 tons of overripe Spanish tomatoes at each other. Held in the pretty Valencian town of Buñol, on the east coast of Spain, La Tomatina is essentially a giant food fight held on the last Wednesday of August. The firing of a water canon heralds the start of the tomato

throwing, and exactly one hour later a second firing signals the end of the mayhem. There are conflicting stories about how the festival first began: some say it happened when two boys got into a fight during a parade and began lobbing tomatoes from a vegetable stand at each other. Others believe that the tomatoes were thrown to protest about an unfavourable decision by the city council, or launched at a particularly bad musician! 30 August 2017 www.latomatina.org

Every September the 500 townsfolk of In-Gall, in the Agadez region of northeast Niger, grows to upwards of 50,000 as

nomads and their herds make the pilgrimage to the tiny West African town to celebrate the annual gathering that serves as a harvest festival, a marketplace, a gathering of the tribes, and most importantly a spectacular male beauty parade in an effort to be named the most attractive man of their clan. Here the roles are reversed and it is the men who paint their faces, don traditional ceremonial costumes, and sing and dance in an effort to impress the female judges. The talent portion of the show, known as Yaake, is akin to line dancing, with men standing shoulder-to-shoulder, swaying, singing and chanting in a hypnotic fashion, fuelled by a stimulating tea made of fermented bark, rumoured to have a hallucinogenic effect, enabling them to dance wildly, often for hours on end. The exact date in September of Cure Salée changes every year, dependent upon the strength of the rains, and is announced approximately one month before. September 2017


OUTLOOK

OKTOBERFEST

CROATIA

GERMANY

During five days towards the end of summer, what is billed as “the largest sound system culture festival in Europe” brings together some of the biggest names from the most vibrant and cutting edge hip-hop, grime, reggae, techno and dub music scenes in a celebratory fusion of musical genres. Held in the abandoned 19th century Fort Punta Christo, perched over the dazzling Adriatic Sea close to the historic city of Pula in Croatia’s

Feast on traditional Bavarian foods (including 15-inch pretzels), drink beer by the litre, be entertained by live brass bands and carouse away the days and nights with hundreds of other revellers from all over the globe at the world's largest Volksfest, held annually in Munich, Germany. Oktoberfest is a 16-day folk festival running from mid September through to the first weekend of October, held in the Theresienwiese area (often called the Wiesn for short) located near Munich's city centre. If you want to catch the official opening ceremonies on 16th September the Schottenhamel tent is the place to be, since it is here, at 12 noon, that the Mayor of Munich taps the first keg of Oktoberfest beer. Now in its 184th

year this mammoth drinking fest now boasts a slightly more international flavour, characteristic of the 21st century, featuring added speciality German beers accompanied by more Sauerkraut and Weisswurst than one can possibly imagine! 16 September - 3 October 2017 www.oktoberfest.de/en/

ANIMASYROS 10 GREECE

northern region of Istria, party goers can chose to let rip in a collection of truly spectacular locations set in and around the fort, including a dungeon, a courtyard, a moat, a boat, the beach or the festival’s main stage set on a harbour. Outlook combines a heady mix of fun in the sun and under the stars sound sensations. Celebrating its tenth year in 2017, this year’s bass-infused music line-up includes Dizzee Rascal, DJ Shadow and The Outlook Orchestra. 6-10 September 2017 www.outlookfestival.com 16 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

For the 2017 tenth annual outing of the Greek island of Syros' popular animation fest, Animasyros is dedicated to the animation narrative for Europe. This theme will be activated via a special screenings programme and a roundtable highlighting the current state of affairs in the European Animation Industry, within the common framework of the EU. The artistic programme will be completed with special tributes, screening events & curatorial programmes celebrating the 10th anniversary of the festival. More than 260 animation films will also be screened, plus the festival features three separate international competition sections, for professional, student and feature films. Animasyros

is free to the public and takes place at the imposing Apollo Theatre (pictured), the Hermoupolis Cultural Centre, the University of the Aegean, Miaouli Square and other locations within the beautiful neoclassical town of Hermoupolis. 27 September - 1 October 2017 www.animasyros.gr


Rest Your Head

WHANGEREI, SURFSIDE, BERLIN, BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO, NEW YORK, GOA IBIZA, NANDAIME, GRAND CAYMAN, HALKIDIKI, YUCATÁN, CHANDIGARH

HELENA BAY

NORTH ISLAND, NEW ZEALAND Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 19


WHANGEREI, NEW ZEALAND HELENA BAY Estimated to have cost USD 50 million to build, and named the world's best new luxury hotel of 2016 yet consisting of just five suites capable of accommodating no more than ten people, every conceivable convenience has been incorporated in Helena Bay to ensure that its guests literally want for nothing. Owned by Russian billionaire Alexander Abramov, who is chairman of steel company Evraz in partnership with Roman Abramovich, this adults-only oceanfront retreat is a three-hour drive north of Auckland, situated on two miles of stunning coastline in the northeast corner of New Zealand’s North Island. Yet whilst the size and scale of this boutique property is as breathtaking as the detailing and decadence of the place, it's as much about what you cannot see as what you can. In a modern take on Upstairs Downstairs, a rabbit warren under the main residence comprises rooms within rooms, services on a par with a vast commercial venture, hidden corridors running the length of the main swimming pool, and kilometres of ducting, pipes and underground corridors to ensure that the main residence's comfort levels of air handling, fire safety, IT, kitchen services, heating and cooling are top of the line. Helena Bay is the first ever hotel to offer accommodation directly on one of New Zealand’s beaches, while being


surrounded by lush forest and the tranquil cove. Guests are accommodated in two separate 1,450ft2 beachfront villas along with five 700ft2 suites boasting sliding doors to the waterfront. Five staff members attend to the whims of each guest. And whilst the architecture and décor is intentionally on the bland side so as not to distract from the beautiful surroundings, guest rooms are kitted out with the finest European linens and bathrooms are mosaic lined. Facilities include a private European-style spa, art gallery and heated outdoor pool. Michelin-starred executive chef Ernesto Laccarino, from Italy’s famed Ristorante Don Alfonso 1890, oversees chef Michele Martino in the creation of traditional Italian cuisine sustained from the property's own farm, including vegetable and herb gardens, greenhouses, orchards, cattle and sheep. In fact Laccarino's ‘estate to plate’ policy means that delicious lamb and Wagyu beef come directly from the on-site farm. There are even eight beehives on the property producing Helena Bay’s own honey. Naturally this level of luxury and exclusivity come at a price. Nightly rates for an entry-level junior suite start at USD 1,750 for one person including pre-dinner drinks, dinner and breakfast. Spa treatments are extra. www.helenabay.com

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SURFSIDE, FLORIDA FOUR SEASONS HOTEL AT THE SURF CLUB Welcoming guests since March 2017, the 77-room Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is located at 9011 Collins Avenue in Surfside, on the site of the former private beach club fashioned in the Mediterranean style of the 1920s and founded by the tyre tycoon Harvey Firestone. The historic Russell Pancoast-designed club opened at the north end of Miami Beach on New Year’s Eve 1930, was an instant hit and one of few places in the States where the bars never ran dry during Prohibition. Despite extensive remodelling, the new hotel retains much of the club’s former grandeur and also boasts swishy new Le Sirenuse Miami Restaurant and Champagne Bar on the site of the former ballroom, the first foreign outpost of the magnificent Le Sirenuse in Positano (on Italy's Amalfi Coast), where Antonio Sersale's restaurant, La Sponda, has a Michelin star. Designed by New York-based Pritzker Prize-winning architect Richard Meier, the hotel's entrance and expansive lobby lead to an art gallery - known as Peacock Alley - of glorious photographs of former habitués: Gary Cooper; Elizabeth Taylor; Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner on their honeymoon, plus various nobility including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Queen Soraya of Iran and Winston Churchill. In fact the latter used to paint in one of two cabanas that he rented (the other was “for naps”), drawn to the place, Churchill said, by the promise “of sun, solitude, something to eat and perhaps something to drink”. A central 12-storey tower, rising out of what was the original club’s courtyard and cantilevered out over its tiled roofs so that it appears to float above them, is where the hotel’s guest rooms are to be found, each an exquisite essay in subtle earth tones, neutrals and greens, courtesy of Joseph Dirand, the French master of modern minimalism. Aside from the hotel, the 9-acre mixed-use oceanfront property includes two residential towers, a private club, two restaurants, four swimming pools, cabanas, a gym, oceanside gardens and a park – all designed by Meier, with landscape designer Fernando Wong laying out the gardens incorporating almost 1,000 feet of ocean frontage. With its historic and glamorous pedigree coupled with such modern-day greats of design and gastronomic excellence, Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club is unsurprisingly making waves in Miami’s social and style circles. www.fourseasons.com/surfside/

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BERLIN, GERMANY

PROVOCATEUR Famed the world over for its diversity, never-ending nightclubs and anything-goes attitude, Berlin has busied itself with becoming one of the most stimulatingly colourful, creative and cultural cities in Europe since the fall of its world-renowned Wall. It is a city that truly offers something for everyone, and is an infamous hub for hedonists and hipsters, where parties can go on for days rather than hours, and all manner of sexual goings-on within the walls of some of its establishments is tantamount to normal. In the midst of this shamelessly sensual mélange, to the West of the centre a little farther out than the usual West Berlin hubs of Wittenbergplatz and Zoologischer Garten, lies flamboyant boutique 58-room Provocateur. A hotel, restaurant and club opened in February 2017, Provocateur was fashioned by Amsterdam-based Israeli hotshot interior designer Saar Zafrir, who is the fêted name behind a number of Europe’s most talked about new properties. Designed to push buttons and encourage guests to push their boundaries, the hotel’s ethos is to be provocative and explorational, catering to the up-all-night sleep-all-day traits in both hotel guests and nightlife enthusiasts alike. What was once a residential property has been given a fun and seductive makeover by Zafrir, that’s characterised by the bold and lavish use of reds, golds and blues, married with sensual fabrics (including lashings of velvet) and decadent furnishings. The result is sultry and seductive rooms in four categories which all feature slightly erotic interiors of red walls, Asian-style wardrobes, minibars that resemble actual bars, and black-tiled bathrooms with high-end showers and heavy ceramic sinks with brass fittings. Bellevue rooms and Terrace Suites have spacious balconies that look out onto the leafy street or rear garden and espresso machines. Some also have free-standing pearl-shaped bathtubs. Every room has a “provocateur mode” setting, allowing guests to set the mood and drift to a different world as the room’s lights dim, seductive tunes entertain the ears and video art plays, all designed to encourage you to stay in bed or linger longer with your lover.. www.provocateur-hotel.com

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BAZARUTO ARCHIPELAGO, MOZAMBIQUE ANDBEYOND BENGUERRA ISLAND A group of islands off the coast of Vilanculos in Mozambique, any visit to the spectacular Bazaruto Archipelago makes for the quintessential Indian Ocean vacation. Indeed, some of Africa's finest beaches and sandy shoals are to be found here, amongst the five main islands, all of which are gently lapped by turquoise waters filled with a few thousand types of colourful fish, together with dolphins, loggerhead, leatherback and green turtles all swimming through the clear seas. Needless to say, countless opportunities abound for first class diving, snorkelling and birding, the latter offering the avid watcher dozens of bird species to view, including fish eagles and pink flamingos. Since 1971 much of the archipelago has been protected as 550mi² Bazaruto National Park, Mozambique’s only marine reserve and home to a stunning array of creatures large and small. Formerly known as Santo António, the island is a vision of pearl and dreamy blues, and the thatched cottages of andBeyond Benguerra Island, strung along a splendid crescent of sand, all look out over the park. Assuming that the helicopter ride is timed just right, guests arriving on Benguera from Vilanculos Airport are in for a breathtaking first glimpse of the island's dazzling natural wonders. Benguerra first opened as a fairly basic fishing lodge some thirty years ago. In the past three decades it has gently evolved into something nigh on sophisticated, until andBeyond purchased the stunning isle a couple of years ago. Setting out to transform the resort into a multifaceted eco retreat, conservation outfit AndBeyond skilfully reimagined the property as an upmarket yet unpretentious beachside retreat, minus the gimmicky nonsense of some of the other hotels in the Bazaruto Archipelago. Laid out in a simple safari camp-style configuration, AndBeyond Benguerra Island consists of ten casinhas, two cabanas and one three-bedroom casa, each imbued with a decidedly chic yet authentic Afro-Portuguese aesthetic that’s distinct to Mozambique. Hidden behind high walls, the secluded thatched roofed guest accommodations boast private plunge pools, outdoor showers, canopied beds, welcoming verandas and beachside cabanas. Inside the rooms are quiet colonial-style sanctuaries of copper and cream, lifted with touches of royal blue that deftly mimic the shades of the waters that lie beyond the lodgings. Shuttered windows close out the heat of the sun. From horseback riding to big-game fishing and sunset dhow cruising to collecting crabs on the sand, everything and anything is possible at this wondrous resort. www.andbeyond.com


NEW YORK, U.S.A. THE BEEKMAN New York's most anticipated opening of 2016, The Beekman is one of those rare hospitality gems that manages to temporarily transport guests into lives that are more beautiful, more glamorous and more effortlessly stylish that their normal day-to-day existences, without making them feel like they’ve stepped into Disneyland or onto the set of a movie. Occupying a landmark 1881 Queen Anne building, originally constructed by architecture firm Silliman & Farnsworth, formerly known as Temple Court and erected at the height of New York’s early golden age, The Beekman has incredibly good genes. In its heyday the building served as a white-collar hub of industry, where more than 200 businesses operated, from accountants and lawyers to publishers and press agents. And the glorious redbrick turreted structure has a magnificent nine-storey Victorian atrium and pyramidal skylight as its crowning glory. There’s a palpable sense of cultural history as one walks into the lobby. The interiors, designed by much-celebrated hospitality firm Martin Brudnizki Design Studio, are sensitive to the building's history without turning it into kitsch or farcical lodgings. This is core to The Beekman’s architectural success. For instance, in the Bar Room, leather club chairs sit next to bookshelves, floors are piled with Oriental rugs and portraits of famous authors hang on the walls, yet it’s all done with rather good taste. The 285 rooms plus two turret suites which ring the soaring central atrium, all kept their original style mouldings, understated period chandeliers and high ceilings. They’re furnished with a mix of antique and custom furnishings, studded leather headboards, bar carts and chinoiserie lamps, balanced with contemporary accessories and funky colours. The large bathrooms are clad in a Carrera version of timeless New York subway tiles and can be closed off with giant barn doors. The overall effect is the complete revival and reimagination of a long-time neglected beauty while maintaining its unique and original patina, all of which is completely suited to Wall Street’s current gilded age, and the general revitalisation of newly uber-cool lower Manhattan. www.thebeekman.com

Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 29


GOA, INDIA

AHILYA BY THE SEA Run by a husband and wife team, beachside boutique property Ahilya by the Sea is a veritable love letter to Goan culture, and staying here is a little like visiting the retreat of that wealthy and eccentric yet tasteful long-lost relative you always wished you had. Perched on Coco Beach overlooking Dolphin Bay in peaceful Nerul in North Goa, the busy beaches, parties and seaside shacks the western Indian state is infamous for are forty minutes’ drive away from Ahilya, making this home-turned-hotel the perfect place to getaway, unwind and recharge. Built just over a decade ago as a trio of private homes, by the granddaughter of Antonio Xavier Trindade, Goa’s greatest painter, the property was converted last year into a nine-room hospitality gem. Whilst still flamboyantly decorated with the owner’s selection of antiques and artworks, and stuffed to the gills with the most fabulous treasures, carefully curated from a lifetime of exotic travels, Ahilya combines quintessential local old-world charm with southeast Asian influences, resulting in a contemporary luxe experience. Set amidst lush tropical gardens and two crystal-clear swimming pools that provide a welcome retreat from the strong Goan sun, all three graceful guest villas exude a gentle blend of Balinese architecture and local Goan craftsmanship, with heavy laterite walls and intricately patterned wooden brackets adorning the roof. Bedrooms are cosy and intimate with muted lighting in keeping with the tasteful warm tones. Large doors open out from every room towards the sea. Rooms located on the first floor each have a little balcony. Bathrooms are kitted out with antique fittings, spacious showers, local toiletries and plenty of towels and robes. But it is the little details – a refreshing drink, cold towel, welcoming reception staff, bespoke artworks, aromatic diffusers and suchlike – that really make guests feel at home. Deck chairs positioned in relaxing nooks, a library laden with books, board games and musical instruments scattered around all contribute to the inordinately relaxing atmosphere. Wi-Fi and laundry are free of charge. All-day snacks and beverages are readily available, with lunch and dinner menus featuring a limited but sumptuous selection of both local and European-styled fare. www.ahilyabythesea.com

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Luxury Beachfront Villas & Suites WWW.SRIVILLAS.COM SRI VILLAS COLOMBO-GALLE MAIN ROAD 69 KM POST MAHA INDURUWA, SRI LANKA

INQUIRIES@SRIVILLAS.COM +94 774951646 +94 912264873


IBIZA, SPAIN SIR JOAN World renowned for having some of the best nightclubs on the planet, there is little one can say about the Spanish party island that hasn’t been written before. A luxurious bohemian retreat with a distinctly members club feel, and billed as “An Urban Oasis Minutes from Old Town Views of the Marina”, Sir Joan is the boutique hotel brand's fifth global destination and its first Ibithincan property, opened just a few months ago amidst the party mania in the heart of Ibiza Town, less than 500 yards from the infamous white isle’s most iconic nightclub, Pacha, which has been at the epicentre of the island’s nightlife scene for forty years. Located in the heart of the exclusive marina district of Talamanca, Sir Joan boasts thirty-six luxury rooms plus two stunning penthouses. Each penthouse boasts 80m2 of wraparound terraces with 360° views of Ibiza, outdoor seating, a private cabana and an open-air kitchen. Paying homage to yacht-living, Sir Joan’s ocean-inspired interiors were fashioned by award-winning architects and interior designers Baranowitz + Kronenberg, whilst Barcelona-based architects Ribas & Ribas faced the building with a unique and contemporary checkered façade. The slick guest accommodations reflect a high-end design aesthetic whilst giving more than a passing nod to the hotel’s surroundings, courtesy of stripped wooden yacht flooring and polished stainless steel wall panelling which, when struck by sunlight, give the appearance of moving waves. The property boasts a collection of carefully curated artworks, including pieces by Spanish art legend Joan Hernandez Pijuan and renowned installation artist Carlos Irijalba, alongside photographs from Toulouse-born artist/photographer Landry A. famed for his Barcelona nightlife collections which reflect the nocturnal activities of the throbbing underbelly of the Catalan metropolis. Each Sir property is based on a characterful aristocratic persona and Sir Joan is no exception. A sociable yachtie sort, whilst Sir Joan appreciates Ibiza’s nightlife he also enjoys hosting fun times in his own intimate spaces, which include an outpost of Amsterdam-based IZAKAYA Asian Kitchen & Bar serving quality Japanese-Peruvian dishes, and late-night burger bar THE BUTCHER. There’s also a cabana-lined rooftop pool and garden for those inevitable after-hours gatherings to watch the sun rise over Spain’s illustrious party isle. www.sirhotels.com/joan


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NANDAIME, NICARAGUA NEKUPE

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When the owners of the hotel you’re checking into are the country’s biggest philanthropists, you can probably feel good about your stay right from the get-go! Meaning “heaven” in Chorotega – a largely extinct Oto-Manguean language indigenous to a native Nicaraguan tribe – Nekupe opened in November 2016 in the shadow of the Mombacho volcano, set amongst a 1,300-acre reserve and animal sanctuary in the country’s mountainous region, thirty minutes from Granada and an hour and a half south of Managua. The country’s first luxury countryside resort is entirely surrounded by stunning landscapes in every direction, and guests enjoy miles of natural terrain ideal for both active pursuits as well as more sedate pastimes. Combining a strong wellness component and its stunning location makes Nekupe ripe with spots for yoga and meditation, and, unlike the backpacker lodges and surfing hotels that line the country’s coast, the resort was conceived to immerse travellers in Nicaragua’s little-known inland treasures and make the most of the breathtaking scenery. Residents at Nekupe can horseback ride along a series of lakes and mountains, clay pigeon shoot near a babbling brook, or sandboard down an active volcano. Guests are accommodated in just eight suites making Nekupe perfect for a buyout. There's even a small chapel for intimate weddings. The main residential compound, incorporating four suites, is perched on a hill allowing for unobstructed views of the reserve out towards Mombacho Volcano. Just steps away from the main residence, four villas have been arranged so that guests are immersed in nature, each with a king-sized bed, living area and bathrooms with deep soaking tubs and walk-in showers. Floor-to-ceiling windows and open terraces allow the natural splendour of the great outdoors to gently permeate the indoor spaces. The vision of Nicaraguan philanthropists Don Alfredo Pellas Jr. and Doña Theresita Pellas - both avid travellers and adventure enthusiasts - their commitment to nature is amply exhibited through Nekupe’s core principle of respecting the environment. The end result is a socially responsible mountain-based sanctuary that whilst enriching any outdoor sporting lifestyle also creates an external place to retreat to one’s inner peace. www.nekupe.com

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GRAND CAYMAN, CAYMAN ISLANDS THE KIMPTON SEAFIRE RESORT & SPA Around ninety miles south of Cuba, Grand Cayman is by far the largest and most populated of the Cayman Islands in the Caribbean Sea. Though Grand Cayman is most celebrated for its aquatic activities, there's no shortage of diversions to please landlubbers, history buffs, eco-warriors and families, from turtle sanctuaries and butterfly farms to Michelin-starred cuisine and ruined fortifications. Whilst the majority of visitors to Grand Cayman arrive by cruise ship to spend the day in Georgetown, the island has an awful lot more to offer than the obvious Caribbean holiday clichés of white sand beaches, umbrella-accessorised cocktails and calypso bands. Indeed, if you venture away from the capital’s souvenir shops, you'll find an island paradise with a rich history and a diverse population that includes well over a hundred different nationalities ranging from Jamaican to Canadian. Understandably, with such cultural diversity comes an incredible variety of food and entertainment. Yet with all that's happening day-in-day-out on Grand Cayman, it's hard to believe that the recently opened Kimpton Seafire is the first new hospitality offering to have been built on the island in more than a decade. Opened in November 2016 and located on Grand Cayman’s Seven Mile Beach, Seafire is Kimpton Hotels’ first property outside the States. Situated where the Courtyard Marriott once stood, the site's new incumbent consists of Cayman’s first pair of 10-storey buildings, one housing the 266-room hotel and the other just over sixty condos. Three roomy bungalows are sited adjacent to the beach.

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The hotel has been designed as a highly social, active resort environment, and, with its bohemian-meets-mid-century decor, wholly embodies the sense of playfulness and irreverent hospitality that characterises the Kimpton brand. Somewhat overnight, Seafire has become one of the hippest hotel options in the Cayman Islands and has ushered in a new era of contemporary luxury to the British territory. It’s luxurious, perfectly decorated, tech-savvy, and, just like Kimpton’s other properties, dog-friendly. Shack-up here and you’ll find it hard to escape the hotel’s extensive and alluring facilities. Hotel rooms boast balconies with ocean views and deep tubs to soak in. Meanwhile, for those with a touch more cash to splash, six separate deluxe suites are contained within three bungalows mere steps from the sand and cloistered between tropical swimming pools. In addition to a very full schedule of wellness programming ranging from yoga to an al fresco boot camp and pilates, a beach kiosk offers unlimited use of snorkelling equipment, paddle boards, kayaks and mini catamarans, the sprawling central pool has its own bar, and the beachfront has plenty of secluded cocoon-like chaises perfect for soaking up the Caribbean sunshine in style. www.seafireresortandspa.com


HALKIDIKI, GREECE AVATON Consisting of twenty monasteries and home to approximately 2,000 monks, Mount Athos is the spiritual capital of the Orthodox Christian world, the monastic center of the Greek Orthodox Church, a state-within-a-state, a veritable living museum of religion and the spiritual vortex of Greece. Located towards the top of the “third finger” of the Halkidiki prefecture, Mount Athos (or Agio Oros as it is also known) is home to the oldest surviving monastic community on Earth. The monks’ way of life is practically unchanged since they arrived in the 9th century. Most of them live within the walls of their chosen monastery, but others choose to live in complete isolation, away from any distractions. Women are not allowed within 500 metres of the shoreline, and even female animals are prohibited from walking on Mount Athos. This is because the Virgin Mary is said to have visited the peninsula and prayed to have it as her own. It is believed that the presence of women might distract the monks, tempting them away from true celibacy and leading them to sin. In the shadow of the UNESCO World Heritage Mount and located at the top of Athos Peninsula in Halkidiki, Avaton Luxury Villas Resort (to give the property its full name) is one of the Greek mainland's hidden hospitality gems, opened in 2015 and family owned and run. Positioned directly on beautifully unspoilt Komitsa Beach, this boutique hotel offers a range of uber-modern townhouse-like villas which are more than amply equipped. Discerning travellers, holidaying couples and adventurous families alike are accommodated in two-bedroom units, stylishly decorated and laden with every modern-day convenience, including full kitchens for those who wish to self-cater. Many boast their own private plunge pools. A cluster of half a dozen premium split-level units offer direct access - via delightful little private back gardens - to a grassed path which leads across lush Mediterranean lawns towards Avaton’s beachfront champagne bar, perched on a petite hill. Boasting incredible sweeping views of Komitsa Bay, Avaton’s bar is the perfect place for an afternoon cocktail, fresh sushi lunch or evening sundowners, before heading out to the ancient city of Ouranoupoli just 15 mins away by car and filled with bustling tavernas and lively bars. The beauty of Avaton is really in its unique, undisturbed location. Komitsa is virtually a private beach and Avaton’s team works tirelessly to ensure that it is kept in pristine condition for the resort’s guests to enjoy its full beauty, and bathe in the tranquil crystal-clear waters in peace and quiet every day of their stay. Guests are waited on hand and foot whether at the beach, the bar or in the privacy of their lodgings, where meals selected from a vast and varied international menu can be served in-room or al fresco for a private dinner party-like experience. In-room spa treatments, private transfers via helicopter or limousine from Thessaloniki (Greece’s second city) and memorable cruises around nearby picturesque islands and breathtaking coastlines complete the ultimate deluxe Greek summer seaside experience. www.avaton.com

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AVATON HALKIDIKI, GREECE


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YUCATÁN, MEXICO

CHABLÉ Half an hour from the Yucatán state's capital of Mérida, conceptualised more than a decade ago and making its hospitality début last year, the aim with Chablé was always to go beyond just another hacienda-style resort to create a calm and peaceful place for wellness and complete relaxation, and not only restore the traditional XIX-century buildings, but also reignite the prosperity the property enjoyed centuries ago and to tie it back to the community. The result is a resort which blends five-star hospitality, superior cuisine, the world’s largest tequila collection and an enviable location within a mystical natural environment, anchored by a spa and spread across 750 acres in the heart of the steamy Mayan jungle, providing the utmost in privacy, intimacy and tranquillity. Basically, right now Chablé is the coolest spot in Latin America's to kick off your shoes, disconnect and relax. Chablé is very much a hotel of two halves: a stunning modern spa and painstakingly restored 19th century hacienda. Yet at the heart of Chablé is a traditional Mayan garden - consisting of raised beds made from local woods and constructed without using man-made elements - recreating 17th century harvesting techniques that had not been used for many generations. Chablé’s world-class spa has been built alongside a private and natural cenote - a natural limestone swimming hole

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celebrated by Mayans as the entrance into the sacred underworld - and the spa’s philosophy draws from this ancient culture to offer a wide range of Mayan-inspired treatments, harnessing the powers of the area’s most ancient techniques and ingredients mixed with modern amenities. Each treatment room has been placed within the lush gardens where nature can be enjoyed to its fullest. Gourmands are amply catered for by consultant chef Jorge Vallejo of Quintonil in Mexico City (one of the World's 50 Best Restaurants), and his right-hand man, Luis Ronzon who helms all three of Chablé’s restaurants. As well as using the hotel's own organic herbs and veggies, Ronzon sources the best ingredients from around Mexico and keeps menus light and inventive. After dinner rest your head in one of the resort’s forty villas, each with its own pool, hammock and outdoor shower. The modern touches incorporated with Maya architecture, warm woods and original 19th century walls of the working hacienda are what make Chablé a veritable work of art. Every room has a view and every view is a living part of Chablé. www.chableresort.com


OBEROI SUKHVILAS 250 km from New Delhi, heading northwards towards fresh mountain air and a more conventional seasonal climate, lies an Indian city of just over a million people which was planned by world renowned Swiss-French architect Charles-Edouard Jeanneret-Gris, better known as Le Corbusier. Originally dreamed-up by India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, Chandigarh is located in the foothills of the Sivalik Hills, a mountain range of the outer Himalayas. Renowned and admired countrywide, Chandigarh is one of the best experiments in urban planning and modern architecture in India. Streets are straight, clean and organised in a grid system, with different districts marking out neighbourhoods. The city is well kept, tidy and ordered. A large proportion of its residents are affluent, proud and generally well-to-do. Basically, Chandigarh is an organised revelation in a country where organised chaos is so very often the norm. More than twenty years ago, the Oberoi Group reimagined India's princely tradition of grandiose country retreats and made it relevant for the modern hospitality industry. Late last year, the premium Indian hotel chain arrived in the Punjab with a major opening and one of the country’s most talked-about new spa resorts: Oberoi Sukhvilas, situated thirty minutes outside Chandigarh's centre, surrounded by more than 8,000 acres of protected forest.

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CHANDIGARH, INDIA

Entered via a sequence of landscaped courtyards, surrounded by arches and colonnaded verandas, Oberoi Sukhvilas really is a hotel of divine splendour. Gilded finials gleam above domed rooftops. Towering brass-framed doors rise from floors of red sandstone. Fountains, streams and reflection pools are all around. Tranquillity and class abound as if one had stepped into another mystical, frescoed world. Whilst some sixty bedrooms, villas, tents and suites artfully combine Northern Indian features and motifs with chandeliers, four-poster beds, acres of teak, and throws and cushions in Punjabi reds and greens, it is the resort’s show-stopping 12,000ft2 spa which is Oberoi Sukhvilas’s pièce de résistance. Offering a custom-designed menu of Ayurvedic therapies, spa facilities include a steam sauna, an infrared sauna, a vitality pool, a Turkish hammam and a Roman tepidarium. It also offers courses of Ayurvedic treatments masterminded by Ram Kumar, an eminence among India's Ayurvedic doctors, and a veritable coup for a hotel chain which only twenty years ago opened its first game-changing Indian country retreat, Rajvilas. In Oberoi Sukhvilas, the purpose-built palace hotel, combining traditional Indian design and contemporary Western facilities, has been brought glamorously up to date. www.oberoihotels.com


LA TOMATINA Participants covered in Spanish tomatoes during the giant annual food fight, when around 30,000 people hurl more than 100 tons of overripe tomatoes at each other 30 August 2017 www.latomatina.org


WIN A TWO-NIGHT HALF BO B ANANTARA AL YAMM VILLA R PARADISE EMIRATI ISLAND O

The winner of this prize will stay for two nights in a luxurious one-bedroom villa at Anantara Al Yamm Villa Resort on Sir Bani Yas Island, including daily breakfasts at Olio Restaurant, one 90-minute Anantara Bespoke Couple’s Massage (for two), one island activity for two, mineral waters and Wi-Fi, and dinner on both nights at your choice of Anantara Sir Bani Yas Island Resorts’ four restaurants. Located on the beautiful eastern shores of the island paradise of Sir Bani Yas, just 8 km off the coast of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, ANANTARA AL YAMM VILLA RESORT offers a unique hospitality experience that combines

beachside luxury with exotic beachfront or mangrove lagoo villas seamlessly blend with th designed to offer a 5 star Ara beauty with modern day comfo of deluxe features, including rai and private terraces with direct a wide range of activities availa wildlifes drives, water sports ac the end of each day, a selectio appetites with unforgettable cu


OARD STAY AT RESORT ON THE OF SIR BANI YAS

wildlife and thrilling activities. Boasting either on views, the resort’s thirty luxurious Al Yamm heir environment. Interiors have been carefully abian hospitality experience combining natural orts and luxury touches. Each villa features a host inforest showers and oversized freestanding tubs beach access. Guests can also take advantage of able on Sir Bani Yas Island, including nature and ctivities and pampering at Anantara Spa. And at on of four fine dining restaurants satiate guests’ ulinary experiences.

PRIZE DRAW

To enter this prize draw email your contact details (name, home city, email and mobile no.) to win @ TheCulturedTraveller.com Entrants will be added as subscribers to The Cultured Traveller's mailing list. The draw will take place after 30th September 2017 and the winner will be notified via email. This prize can be used between 1st November 2017 through 31st August 2018 and is subject to availability (when booking) and blackout dates. The Cultured Traveller will not share your contact details with third parties.

WWW.SIR-BANI-YAS-ISLAND.ANANTARA.COM Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 49


VALLETTA

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ALEX BENASULI DISCOVERS THAT IN THE CASE OF MALTA’S BREATHTAKING BAROQUE CAPITAL, SMALLER IS UNDENIABLY GRANDER


DD

eespite its petite scale Malta’s capital city is an eexciting blend of history, culture and al fresco Mediterranean life, whose charms are more M captivating ti ti and alluring today than ever before. One of the world’s smallest capitals of one the world’s tiniest nations is very much having a moment right about now. Having just completed its stint as head of the rotating European Presidency and about to host the title of European Capital of Culture in 2018 (with partner Dutch city, Leeuwarden), Valletta is reaping the benefits of infrastructure investment, the ongoing renovation of its historical heritage, new museums and improved cultural offerings. Record visitor numbers and a more discerning demographic are helping to update Valletta and infuse the city with more contemporary influences, fuelling the opening of design-led boutique

hotels and the emergence of a more fashionable restaurant scene. These are empowering the bijou city to hold its own amongst its more dynamic and much larger European peers. Valletta is changing and only for the better. However its heart and soul remains traditional and relaxed. Welcoming outdoor cafés and inviting restaurants gently facilitate lazy afternoons and long evenings of eating and drinking. A funky bar and music culture keeps things lively. Moreover, Valletta is home to some of the best examples of European baroque architecture and there are a number of world-class paintings dispersed amongst the city’s various cultural landmarks. More than anything, Valletta is stunning to gaze upon. Surrounded on three sides by water, buffeted by impressive ramparts and total architectural integrity of honey coloured sandstone buildings and distinctive brightly


“Record visitor numbers and a more discerning demographic are helping to update Valletta and infuse the city with more contemporary influences”

painted window trim and balconies, this low-rise city scape pierced by church spires, roof terraces and one amazing harbour view after another is altogether breath-taking. Valletta has movie star good looks yet is friendly, down to earth and affordable. It is impossible to spend any time in Valletta without understanding its history and origins, since visitors literally come face to face with ancient reminders at every corner. Malta lay at the crossroads of Europe for many centuries. Off the coast of Sicily, close to North Africa and almost exactly midway between the eastern and western halves of the Mediterranean, Malta acted as a vanguard against the westward expansion of the Ottoman Turks, and Valletta was literally born out of Christian Europe defending itself from

their advances. On the tip of the peninsula that currently defines Valletta’s boundaries, lies Fort Saint Elmo. In 1565 the Ottomans sought to control Malta as a pivotal part of their western expansion and gain control of the some of the world’s most lucrative shipping routes. Defence fell to the Knights Hospitaller, a medieval Catholic military order, drawn from the noblest European families, that was granted Malta as its dominion after being routed from the Holy Land during the aftermath of the crusades. In one of epic episodes of European medieval history, 2,000 knights and a militia of 3,000 Maltese men, women and children held off 40,000 Ottoman soldiers in a bloody and ruthless siege. For centuries this siege was regarded as the single most important event in European history. After the siege, Jean de Valette, Grand Master of the Knights and commander of the Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 53


“Regarded as one of the most impressive natural harbours in the Europe, the Grand Harbour, seen from the vantage point of the Upper Barrakka Gardens, is nothing short of marvellous� marvellous


victorious forces, laid the first stone of what would come to be known as La Valletta, a fortified city that would serve as both a permanent bulwark against the Ottomans and a means for the Knights to solidify their hold over Malta. In expressions of gratitude and to consolidate its strategic importance, vast sums of money flowed into Malta from Spain, France, Italy and the Germanic states and so the construction of Valletta was almost completed within five years. The money was well spent - most of Valletta still looks today as it did back then. The elaborate system of soaring fortifications and ramparts that surround the city are some of the best preserved in the world and were still considered an engineering marvel centuries later. One of the best spots to appreciate the scale and beauty of Valletta’s fortifications are the Upper Barrakka Gardens near

the city’s main entrance. This small but perfectly formed public garden occupies the highest spot of Valletta’s city walls. Sandstone arches frame breath-taking vistas. Geometrically patterned landscaping evokes an exotic and decidedly eastern air. The views are truly mesmerising. To one side a sweeping panoramic view of Valletta’s Grand Harbour comes into view. Regarded as one of the most impressive natural harbours in the Europe, the Grand Harbour, seen from the vantage point of the Upper Barrakka Gardens, is nothing short of marvellous. Across the shoreline a cluster of picturesque harbour towns collectively known as the Three Cities complete with their own bustling waterfronts, centuries-old forts, churches and working shipyards - complete the perspective. The gardens combine the meditative spirituality of a cloisters courtyard

Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 55


LOWER BARRAKKA GARDENS

with the expansiveness offered by being perched seemingly on top of the world. The sandstone, the bright blue sea, the garden landscaping and period skyline all come together to create an outer world experience which is emblematic of Valletta and the beautiful island nation. It’s no surprise that many of Valetta’s sites such as Upper Barrakka Gardens have been popular backdrops for celluloid productions ranging from Gladiator to Game of Thrones. From the gardens, it’s a lift ride or a series of stairs down to the waterfront and a leisurely fifteen-minute harbour fronted walk, through the equally beautiful Lower Barrakka Gardens to Fort Saint Elmo which makes up Valletta’s northern tip, strategically positioned between the entrance to the Great Harbour and Marsamxett Harbour. It was at star 56 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017 42

CARAVAGGIO’S THE BEHEADING OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIS

shaped Fort Saint Elmo that the Knights and their Maltese supporters held out against the Ottomans. Today its bastions house the National War Museum, well worth a visit not only to understand in more detail the Great Siege of Valletta but also to gain perspective of the rest of the nation’s history and how important Valletta was over the centuries. Napoleon swept through the city in 1799 and, after his defeat, the British would come to regard Valetta as one of its key overseas possessions. During WWII Valletta was constantly under threat, yet it was from Fort Saint Elmo, amongst others, that the British were able to keep the Germans and Italians from dominating the Mediterranean. Gazing upon the open seas without the protective gauntlet of either of the two harbours, one really appreciates Malta’s geographic isolation and how remarkable it is that Valletta


was founded here and has positively thrived ever since. A walk along the fortifications, along Valletta’s north and western flanks, takes in Marsamxett Harbour and vistas across to Sliema, a town located on the northeast coast of Malta which can be accessed via a small passenger ferry. It is from Sliema’s waterfront that most harbour boat tour cruises depart. 90 minutes on the water is an entertaining way to add another dimension to any visit to this visually captivating city, with the added bonus of receiving an audio history of the surroundings. Valletta is such a pleasant and compact city with a uniquely laidback pace, that it’s easy to just wander around and discover for yourself, without the relentless pressure that often accompanies visits to more culture packed and larger

capitals. However, there are two must-sees. On the exact location where Jean de Valette laid his namesake’s first stone is one of the best examples of Baroque interior design in the world. Never known for minimalist style, Baroque was encouraged by the Catholic Church and monarchies to celebrate exuberance, grandeur, drama and tension, all within a religious context. While Valletta’s main place or worship St. John’s Co-Cathedral may look somewhat austere from the outside, the interior is a triumph in gold, carved stone, vaulted ceilings, marble and richly woven tapestries. The opulence is overwhelmingly beautiful and truly jaw dropping. Saint John’s was built expressly for the Knights of St. John and has eight individually decorated chapels for each of the kingdoms from where the knights hailed. The cathedral is also famous for housing Italian artist


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“Valletta is such a pleasant and compact city, with a uniquely laidback pace, that it’s easy to just wander around and discover for yourself ”

ST. JOHN'S CO-CATHEDRAL Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 59


“Gazing upon the open seas without the protective gauntlet of either of the two harbours, one really appreciates Malta’s geographic isolation isolation”


Caravaggio’s The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, one of his largest canvasses and widely regarded to be not only one of his greatest masterpieces but also one of the most important works in Western painting. Just a stone’s throw away from Saint John’s is the Grandmaster’s Palace, originally the headquarters of the Knights of Malta and currently the office of the country’s President. The series of wall paintings in the Throne Room depicting the siege of Valletta, and the lavish tapestries in the Tapestry Hall transport the visitor to the pomp, circumstance and secrecy of the Knights. At roughly one square mile, Valletta can be comfortably navigated on foot. The city was one of the first in Europe to be designed on a grid system, making it easy to find your

way around. The long avenues and side streets make for endless vistas towards the harbours and breezes tease their way through the lanes during the sultry summer months. There is literally a historical treasure (a baroque church, a state building or aristocratic mansion) around every corner. Valletta is also fun. Outdoor cafés, restaurants and a bohemian bar scene fill the streets with vitality and soul and ensure that after dark the city comes to life and its inhabitants come out to play. Good weather year-round is the backdrop to an energetic outdoor scene. Whilst the overall mood is relaxed there are two notable emerging trends: Smarter and more design-led eating and drinking venues are beginning to open-up. And a burgeoning arts and alternative creative scene is taking hold. Valletta is growing up yet nurturing a stylish and youthful creative

Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 61


edge. The cuisine is excellent. Local wines are delicious. Service is friendly. An Italian dolce vita lifestyle permeates throughout Valletta but without the crowds or local attitude that often plagues the more popular Mediterranean waterside city destinations. Valletta has also become something of a favourite location for festivals. The International Baroque Festival in January, Carnival in February, the Valletta Film Festival in June and the Malta Jazz Festival in July are just some of the annual events that raise its profile and attract international visitors. Since the main island of Malta is so small, extending to a mere 45 kilometers at its longest point and 13 at its widest, any visit to Valletta can easily be combined with a tour of some of the island’s unique treasures. On the outskirts of Valletta is the recently reopened Hypogeum, one of Europe’s best-preserved and most important prehistoric sites. Dating back to the Saflieni period (3300–3000BC) and older than Stonehenge, this underground series of burial and ritual complexes is eerily spectacular. Less than half an hour away from Valletta is Mdina, Malta’s original capital. Whereas Valletta dates back to the late 1500s, Mdina is much more ancient, with settlement history dating back four thousand years, encompassing the Bronze Age, Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, a period of Arab conquest and then the Knights of Malta. Also known as the Silent City and important for its many historical buildings and fortifications, Mdina is the historical home of Malta’s most noble families and is an extraordinary example of an ancient walled city. Filled with palaces, churches and a warren of narrow and winding cobble-stoned streets, Mdina exudes an air of importance and mystery. The entire city is made out of honey-coloured stone. The views from its walls take in almost the entire island with Valletta is visible in the far distance. Mdina is literally out of this world. It’s little surprise then that it, too, is often used as a movie location. Despite being in Europe, Malta and its stunningly beautiful Baroque capital feel a world away. A visit to Valletta is akin to an exotic adventure with elements of Middle Ages Europe, the 1940s and a James Bond movie all thrown in for good measure. Long popular with those in the know, Valletta’s charms are becoming increasingly appreciated by a widening base of cultured globetrotters. Today’s visitors to Malta are younger, travel savvy and more sophisticated. While Valletta is gradually changing for the better, it is what Valletta already has in spades that makes it a truly superb city break destination.


MARSAXLOKK HARBOUR

“A visit to Valletta is akin to an exotic adventure with elements of Middle Ages Europe, the 1940s and a James Bond movie all thrown in for good measure”

Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 63


STAY THE PHOENICIA The Phoenicia has been Malta’s most exclusive hospitality address since it first opened in 1947. Built by the British in the 1930s and originally conceived as a place for visiting naval officers and their families to rest their heads, the Phoenicia gained a reputation early on as the place for foreign dignitaries to stay and soon became a social hub for the Maltese elite and noble. Occupying a privileged position just outside the city’s dramatic 16th century bastion walls and City Gate, this Valletta architectural icon’s excellent location commands unrivalled views across the harbour and, whilst within easy walking distance of all the city’s main attractions, is contained within its own secluded botanical oasis of calm and tranquillity. Recently reopened after a EUR 15 million overhaul, the Phoenicia is now more luxe than ever. Now a Campbell Gray managed property and under the watchful eye of charismatic award-winning London-based hotelier Gordon Campbell Gray, the Phoenicia has firmly entered the 21st century with a stylish new look and skilfully updated five-star facilities whilst respecting its reputation for classic and understated elegance. While the art deco bones of the property and its handsome sandstone exterior remain unchanged, the bright new interiors design aesthetic, employing generous use of whites offset by blue patterned accents, is essentially contemporary resort chic. The focal point of the hotel is its cavernous and airy Palm Court Lounge where breakfast and afternoon tea are served. The interior extends out to an oversized terrace boasting views over the harbour. Next to the Palm Court Lounge, the Club Bar evokes a glamorous bygone era with nods to British colonialism and various periods of Maltese history. The Phoenicia’s 7.5 acres of mature, beautifully landscaped gardens are immaculate and an utter delight to stroll around. Towards the harbour – down a garden path lined with palm trees and Mediterranean landscaping – is the Phoenicia’s brand-new pool and sun decks. The infinity pool looking out across the harbour is truly impressive, bordered on one side by Valletta’s fortified walls and on another by the Bastion Pool Bar & Restaurant. Towards the end of 2017 an extensive spa and fitness facility are expected to open, completing the Phoenicia’s status as a full-service luxury destination resort. All of the hotel’s 136 rooms and suites retain authentic tiled floors and, in collaboration with Peter Young Design, also feature many original details coupled with a clean and modern resort chic décor theme. Families have been coming to the Phoenicia for generations. There is an intense loyalty amongst islanders and guests towards the property. Many of the employees have similarly been at the Phoenicia for decades. Now, following the refurbishment, the Phoenicia is ready to open its doors to a new clientele, more accustomed to high global hospitality standards and deluxe world-class amenities. The Phoenicia will undoubtedly make new friends but keep the old. Following its reopening the Phoenicia immediately became a Leading Hotel of the World, validating its place amongst the top properties on the planet. www.phoeniciamalta.com 64 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


STAY PALAZZO CONSIGLIA Set on a typical residential Valletta street of limestone buildings laden with picture postcard painted wooden balconies, Palazzo Consiglia is a smart and elegant boutique hotel housed in a meticulously restored 400-year-old townhouse. Opened in 2016, the 13-room property is emblematic of a new crop of smaller, design-oriented independent hotels that are helping to make Valletta more appealing to more discerning travellers. Located on the quieter side of Valletta but a stone’s throw away from the waterfront and the Grand Harbour, Palazzo Consiglia is just a few minutes' walk from the city centre yet feels more like a private residence than a hotel. At one end of the street is the Knights-period Fort Saint Elmo, whilst at the other end are Lower Barrakka Gardens. The predominantly baroque design is blended with Arabic and Roman features which is typical of high-end Maltese style. Marble floors, panelled walls and an open-air courtyard – where an original stone well has been lovingly converted into an open fire – greet guests upon arrival. Bedrooms are individually decorated, each unique in one way or another, and are an eclectic mix of Baroque, Art Nouveau, classic and contemporary finishes. Lavish fabrics, period furniture and soaring ceilings are juxtaposed with modern design accents. Hard wood floors and custom wallpapers add additional luxurious touches. Rooms either face the interior courtyard or have small terraces facing out to quiet St. Ursula Street. All are well soundproofed with double glazed glass. Bathrooms are large and modern with a choice of bath or shower and some are lined with marble. Oversized king-sized beds add a romantic touch and USB charging ports on either side are rather handy. At its heart Palazzo Consiglia maybe an ancient 18th century building, but it now has all the creature comforts and luxe trimmings one would expect from a modern boutique hotel, including a state of the air control system, capsule coffee machines and Bluetooth speakers connected through to guest bathrooms. Tablets in each room – brimming with detailed information about the hotel and Valletta’s bars, restaurants and attractions – are particularly helpful for the virgin Valletta visitor. A smart and peaceful roof top terrace, complete with decking, sunbeds and an inviting plunge pool, looks out across Valletta’s rooftops, the beautiful dome of the neighbouring chapel and has a side view of the Grand Harbour. A small spa situated on the lower ground floor – converted from the original vaulted stone cellar - is the perfect place to relax after a busy day of sightseeing. A discreet street level bar adds an understated touch of sophisticated hustle and bustle. A delicious buffet is served every morning in the delightful breakfast room, once upon a time a chapel, evident by the original holy water basin on the wall. Palazzo Consiglia is the perfect choice for discerning travellers who enjoy personal service and attention to detail but prefer to stay in a boutique hotel without compromising on comfort or service. www.palazzoconsiglia.com 67 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


SEE ST. JOHN’S CO-CATHEDRAL This Baroque gem was built between 1572 and 1577 on the site of the first stone laid which founded Valletta. The austere exterior stands in direct contrast to the ornate and opulent interior which many regard as one of the most important examples of Baroque design in Europe. Generous use of gold leaf, marble, and panelled wood combine to deliver a truly incredible spectacle. Caravaggio’s famous masterpiece, The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, is hung here. Don’t miss seeing it! www.stjohnscocathedral.com THE GRANDMASTER’S PALACE Dominating Palace Square, just off of Republic Street, the Grandmaster’s Palace is Valletta’s second most important site after the cathedral. Built in 1571, originally as the seat of government for the Knights Hospitallers of St. John, it later served as the British colonial headquarters and today is the Office of the President of the Republic of Malta. The frescoes depicting the Great Siege of Valletta of 1565 in the Supreme Council Hall are not to be missed, nor the extraordinary Gobelin tapestries in the Council Chamber. The palace’s armoury also has a particularly well-regarded collection of suits of armour and period weaponry. www.heritagemalta.org UPPER BARRAKKA GARDENS Occupying a prime spot high above the waterfront, built on to the fortified walls close to Valletta’s City Gate, Upper Barrakka Gardens is a compact area of landscaped green spaces offering incredible views over the Grand Harbour, the Three Cities and the lower lying parts of Valletta. Sitting on one of the many benches that ring the gardens and simply taking in the view is deeply entrancing. www.heritagemalta.org THE NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM Since the city was born out of the Great Siege and so much of Malta’s history and identity was forged by centuries of conflict, the National War Museum makes for an interesting and eye-opening means to learn about Valetta’s and the nation’s past. Located in a series of rooms built into Fort St. Elmo at the tip of Valletta, facing the open seas, this museum spans the Bronze Age through to the Romans and beyond. Exhibits focusing on the Great Siege, the Napoleonic era, WWI 68 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

THE GRANDMASTER'S PALACE


THE NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM

CASA ROCCA PICCOLA


and WWII are of particular interest. Wandering around the fortifications of Fort St. Elmo and taking in the sea views are alone worthy of a visit. www.heritagemalta.org CASA ROCCA PICCOLA This 16th-century palace has been home to the noble de Piro family for centuries. Although still their private home there are daily tours of its main rooms, the courtyard garden and the underground bunker which served as a rainwater storage area and later a bomb shelter. The tour gives an insider glimpse of how the Maltese nobility once lived. Visiting Casa Rocca Piccola is a veritable peek into an illustrious aristocrat’s family residence, which is beautifully decorated with scores of antiques and lavish furnishings. www.casaroccapiccola.com ĦAL-SAFLIENI HYPOGEUM On the outskirts of greater Valletta, Ħal-Saflieni Hypogeum is one of Europe’s most important prehistoric sites. Discovered in 1902, Malta’s Hypogeum is a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is believed to be the oldest prehistoric underground temple in the world. Dating back approximately 5,000 years, it is the only known example of a subterranean structure of the Bronze Age, and is a complex of interconnecting rock-cut chambers on three distinct levels. Recently reopened after an extensive preservation effort, visits are limited to only a few dozen daily at set times. The carved rock and cave drawings are unique. The introductory sound and light presentation and the accompanying audio tour are top notch. Reservations are essential. www.heritagemalta.org MDINA Malta’s original capital and as splendid an example of a medieval fortified city as there possibly is, Mdina is a mere twenty minutes from Valletta and is easily accessible by taxi or bus. The narrow and winding streets stand in stark contrast to Valletta’s more open grid system. Mdina is breathtakingly beautiful, uniformly built out of honey and sand coloured stone, which catches the light in different ways throughout the day. A number of churches, palaces and small museums are well worth visiting. The spectacular views from the city’s fortified walls, across all of Malta towards Valletta and the Mediterranean, are the icing on the cake. www.heritagemalta.org 70 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

MDINA


HILTON LUXOR RESORT & SPA A HAVEN OF RELAXATION ON THE BANKS OF THE NILE

Looking for a centralized spot in the historical, beautiful city of Luxor? A place where you can enjoy the breathtaking view of the river Nile, with world-class services at your command? Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa is your answer. With an award winning culinary team and one of a kind spa, the resort is your doorway to explore the wonders of Luxor. Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa houses 236 guest rooms and suites, a Nile-view infinity pool, eight restaurants and bars offering international, Asian and Arabic cuisines and several fully-equipped function rooms with a capacity exceeding 200 pax for weddings and conferences. The hotel also houses Upper Egypt’s only full-fledged spa, where you can re-invigorate your senses with a range of professional treatments and exclusively designed signature beauty packages. The Nile-side treatment rooms display stunning river views, while the five in-spa private suites offer prolonged relaxation in tranquil surroundings. You can relax on a submerged lounger in the private infinity pool, unwind in one of three soothing steam baths, or take a drink while enjoying the spectacular Nile view in the spa relaxation area. “Over the years, we’ve been able to maintain our position as a favorite destination to Luxor visitors,” said Michael Procher, General Manager of Hilton Luxor resort & Spa. “We’re proud to have received several local and international accolades, as a testament to our success in offering a wide range of quality services and amenities.”

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Hilton Luxor Resort & Spa recently received TripAdvisor’s 2017 Travelers’ Choice Award for the eighth consecutive year. The hotel was also recognized on the same platform as the Middle East and Africa’s Top Hotel, Best Service provider and the region’s best Luxury hotel for 2017.


CAFFÉ CORDINA

TASTE CAFFÉ CORDINA A Valletta institution, Caffé Cordina has been Malta’s premier patisserie since 1837. Housed in an old palazzo on Republic Street close to St. John’s Co-Cathedral and the Grandmaster’s Palace, whilst Caffé Cordina boasts a lovely shaded outside seating area, its interior, crowned with stunning painted vaulted ceiling panels, is not to be missed. The stars of the show are the pastries and delicacies like Pastizzi, a traditional savoury pastry native to Malta and usually filled with ricotta. Popular with locals and tourists all day everyday, Caffé Cordina is deserving of its excellent reputation. www.caffecordina.com GUZE BISTRO Specialising in upscale Maltese home cooking, like many venues in Valletta Guze is located in a series of ground floor level rooms set within a historic 16th century building. Stone walls and a beamed ceiling contribute to the low key and intimate setting. The menu focuses on seafood, shellfish, pasta and game. Guze takes traditional Mediterranean fare and elevates it to fine dining with unique preparation techniques and seasonal ingredients. Rabbit is a favoured dish amongst the Maltese and Guze prepares it very well indeed. There is usually a fresh catch of the day and other daily specials. www.guzevalletta.com 72 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


ANGELICA

MICHAELS A relative newcomer to the Valletta dining scene, Michaels is more a fine dining establishment which is relaxed and unfussy. Romantic and calm, the dining room is located within the covered courtyard of a former palace lending the space a regal and airy feel. An open kitchen is located behind a glass wall at one end. Michaels excels at classic dishes infused with modern interpretations. Fresh ingredients on a Mediterranean bias but adored with exotic elements come together beautifully at Michaels. The seafood selection is excellent and the wine list very well curated. www.michaels.com.mt SCOGLITTI Positioned directly on the waterfront overlooking Marsamxett Harbour and on to Sliema, Scoglitti is an exceptional seafood and shellfish restaurant with an excellent reputation. For many it is amongst Malta’s top venues to dine on fresh fish, with the focus on Mediterranean and Sicilian preparations. The wine list and desserts are equally good. The charming location, delicious cuisine and excellent service assure Scoglitti’s continued popularity. Reservations are highly recommended. www.facebook.com/ScoglittiMalta


MICHAELS

ANGELICA Located on Archbishop Street, a cross street in the heart of Valletta with a number of popular restaurants and cafés, Angelica serves up tasty home cooking in a funky, colourful setting. The outdoor seating area is particularly inviting. The interior is cosy, warm and quirky. Rabbit joins seafood and elaborate salads on the menu together with a variety of daily specials. There are also tapas sized dishes for a more informal experience. Truly flavourful food in bohemian surroundings. www.angelicamalta.com BACCHUS Near the entrance to Mdina, tucked away down a long narrow path, Bacchus is housed in two double vaulted chambers built by Grand Master Fra Martino De Red in between 1657 and 1660 as gunpowder magazines for the main fortified bastion built to reinforce the Old City. Serving fine Maltese-inspired French cuisine, Bacchus’s exquisite gardens offer a shady oasis in which to pit stop during a day trip to enchanting Mdina. www.bacchus.com.mt 75 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


CHARLES GRECH

THE CLUB BAR

SIP CHARLES GRECH Right on Republic Street, just after the City Gates, Charles Grech is an elegant café, cocktail and wine bar. Founded in March 1881 as a tobacconist and bottle shop by Charles Grech, who after a distinguished career in Britain’s Royal Navy decided to settle in his homeland, this is a Maltese institution synonymous with timeless elegance and class. The belle époque interiors contribute to the general air of sophistication. www.charlesgrech.com TRABUXU WINE BAR Another Valletta institution, Trabuxu has been the city’s premier wine bar for over fifteen years. Particularly popular with the pre and post theatre and concert crowd, Trabuxu is a more bohemian alternative to Charles Grech but no less classy. Located below street level in a 400-year-old vaulted cellar, in addition to countless vintages divine cheeses and cured meats are also served in a lively and colourful atmosphere. Reservations are recommended, particularly on Friday and Saturday nights. www.trabuxu.com.mt YARD 32 GIN AND TAPAS BAR Strait Street, Valletta’s narrowest road, used to be the city’s red-light district. Today it is bursting with new bars and is the hub of a vibrant and developing social scene. As the name suggests, Yard 32 is focused on gin, 182 different types to be exact, with Spain being the main inspiration behind the venue. Drinks are poured generously and more than 50 kinds of Iberian tapas are offered to accompany the huge selection of gins. Yard 32 is a fun, friendly and youthful venue that literally attracts all types. www.yard32.com 76 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


YARD 32 GIN AND TAPAS BAR

STREAT WHISKY & BISTRO Also on Strait Street, StrEat is the whisky equivalent of Yard 32. A little more upmarket than its gin-focused neighbour, StrEat also serves tasty, well considered Maltese and Mediterranean food. Whilst there is a vast selection of whiskeys hailing from around the world to choose from, StrEat’s non-whisky based cocktails are also excellent. www.facebook.com/streatwhisky/ LEGLIGIN Legligin is another top-rated wine bar that serves delicious fare which ranges from Maltese meze to a tasting menu, and is run by chef/owner Chris who does the wine selection and much of the cooking himself. Situated in the cellar of a historic house on a quiet cross street in the heart of Valletta, don’t let Legligin’s unassuming entrance put you off. The wine and food offerings are superb. 119 St. Lucy Street, Valletta 00356 79932985 THE CLUB BAR For a step back in time and a taste of relaxed glamour head to The Club Bar at the recently renovated Phoenicia hotel. Originally opened in 1952 and the favoured watering hole for foreign dignitaries, the Maltese elite and anyone in search of old world service and excellent drinks, the warm décor of this charismatic cocktail bar is inspired by the country’s colonial past, with Maltese history adorning the walls. www.campbellgrayhotels.com/the-phoenicia-malta


SPEND CAMILLERI & SONS A high-end sweet shop, chocolatier and café that also sells wines, complete with a charming vintage style storefront and signage, Camilleri & Sons has been trading since the 1840s and makes for a highly inviting retail pit stop. A veritable Maltese icon for good taste and a magnet for those with a sweet tooth, Camilleri is located on Merchant Street, in the heart of Valetta’s historic shopping hub. www.ccamilleriandsonsltd.com.mt BORTEX Also on Merchant Street, at nos. 54-55, Bortex is an old school men’s outfitters that offers a vast range of formal tailoring, outerwear, casual clothing, footwear and accessories. Whilst Bortex sells its own line, the store also showcases a small range of carefully selected brands. Known for its fine tailoring and quality garments, Bortex has been Malta’s haberdashery of choice since the 1960s. www.bortexgroup.com MARQUIS DE VISSAC Olivia and Charles, Parisian transplants to Malta, operate a small French concept store largely dedicated to 100% hand-made and 100% eco-friendly espadrilles and trendy wedge-heels. Located in between St. John’s Co-Cathedral and St. Paul’s Shipwreck Church, Marquis de Vissac is a vision in colour, fun and bright, summery vibes. Do check-out Vissac’s year-round collaborations with different talented designers. www.marquisdevissac.com

MARQUIS DE VISSAC

MDINA GLASS Although all production takes place outside the capital in the Crafts Village in Ta’Qali, Mdina Glass has a number of retail outlets in central Valletta. Founded in 1968 by Michael Harris, a lecturer in industrial glass design at London’s Royal College of Art, Malta’s leading glassmaker produces a beautiful selection of blown glassware, vases and other decorative and collectible pieces. www.mdinaglass.com.mt CEKCIK Cekcik is a bohemian emporium showcasing an eclectic assortment of exotic and Fairtrade clothing, home accessories and design items. In Maltese “cekcik” means knick-knacks or random craft items. In their own words, Cekcik is “a collection of colours, patterns and positive energies from around the world for you and your home.” www.cekcik.com.mt 78 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

CEKCIK


BORTEX

MDINA GLASS


BRISTOL INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA Hot air balloons lifting off over Ashton Court Estate in South West England during a mass ascent at the 36th annual Bristol International Balloon Fiesta 10-13 August 2017 www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk


The Presidential Suite Park Hyatt Vienna

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umber 2 Am Hof has been an important building in the heart of Vienna for decades. One of the most prestigious addresses in the Austrian capital, whilst today the square on which it sits, Am Hof, is dominated by the white Baroque façade of the Kirche am Hof (built between 1386 and 1403 by the Carmelite Order), the site was once Vindobona fort and military garrison, established by Roman troops in 98 A.D. Centuries later in the Middle Ages, the then Duke of Austria erected Babenberg Castle on the Am Hof, repurposing the remaining walls of the Roman fort into a palace. At its height, the grand Babenberg Castle hosted such luminaries as Barbarossa and Walter von der Vogelweide, the famed minnesänger who starred in Wagner's Tannhäuser. The castle was the official residence of Austria's dukes until 1220 and the square in front of it was often used for jousting. Later, once the Habsburgs had moved to the castle of today, the square became a marketplace. Today, hundreds of years later, Am Hof is still used for markets, festivals and fairs and is very much the oldest and most historic square in Vienna.

The present building at Am Hof 2, affectionately referred to by many as “The Pearl of Vienna” and originally the headquarters of Austrian Länderbank, was erected more than a century ago between 1913 and 1915. The imposing six-storey edifice was designed by Ernst von Gotthilf and Alexander Neumann, star Austrian architects of the time, who had previously conceived a number of prominent structures in the city, including the headquarters of the Vienna Bank Corporation and the stunning private residence of David Fanto, the massive Palais Fanto. Their Austrian Länderbank building was amongst the first in Vienna to be fashioned in a neoclassical style, embodying the splendour of the Wilhelminian era whilst also incorporating elegant Jugendstil elements. Unsurprisingly since the Wilhelmine Period roughly coincided with the Belle Époque era, the Austrian Länderbank building bears many beautiful hallmarks of the time, including an ornate frontage facing Am Hof, sculptured ornamentation above the stately Doric-columned portico and a gable decorated with three-dimensional figures. A frieze of Greek keys and rosettes and an elegantly protruding cornice unifies the building's elongated side elevations with the magnificent front façade. Inside the building included many opulent features and careful detailing which were considered lavish for the early 20th century, including a wood-lined elevator inlaid with mother-of-pearl, which was used to ferry the bank's directors to their offices, a grand marble staircase, oak parquet floors and rooms completely paneled in dark walnut. By all accounts von Gotthilf and Neumann’s creation for Bank Austria was something of a first in many respects, particularly one hundred years ago, so the job of renovating and restoring the structure a century later, let alone reworking it into a luxury hotel containing every modern-day convenience, was never going to be easy or straightforward. The task of reimagining the interior of the 100 year-old building, and 84 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


overseeing its transformation from a financial hub to a 21st century hospitality haven, was the job of interior design duo Colin P. Finnigan and Gerard Glintmeijer of Amsterdam-based firm FG stijl. Their incredibly visionary concept for Hyatt’s first property in Austria was not only elegant and contemporary at the same time - seamlessly and tenderly interlacing the old with the new - but also breathed new light, energy and vigor into a relatively rigid building that could so easily have become oppressive and pompous. After three years work and despite a catastrophic fire, Finngan and Glintmeijer's skilled and beautifully executed juxtaposition between the building’s history and the building’s future resulted in public spaces, corridors, restaurants and guest rooms which are a joy to behold and move around in, and feel as casual as they do smart. Whilst an underlying sense of decorum is palpable throughout the building, it is also a space to enjoy and be enjoyed. From the outside and considering its slightly intimidating façade, one would imagine that staying at Park Hyatt Vienna - amidst the huge columns, fine marble, gleaming brass, wood paneling and alabaster ceilings - might be a stifling and staid experience. On the contrary, once inside sofas beg to be lounged on, cushions squeezed, chairs sat in and every handsome detail, exquisite nook and charming cranny beckons to be discovered. The entire building feels like it has been designed to be used, by people, rather than devised for looks alone with functionality and aesthetics coming second. Nowhere is this more evident that the hotel’s best suite. The best suites in five-star hotels literally come in all shapes and styles. Generally, they are always large. But from the contemporary to the traditional, and the cutting-edge to the whimsical, there is no hard and fast rule about how a showpiece suite will feel once you’ve put the key in the door and stepped inside. From my personal experience, those laden with grand pianos and huge chandeliers, and bedecked with acres of marble, miles of curtains and walls of dark wood, are the most unfriendly, unwelcoming and downright uncomfortable places to unpack one’s cases and lay one’s head. Not so Park Hyatt Vienna’s 170m2 Presidential Suite. Situated on the high-ceilinged bel étage, overlooking the city’s most fancy shopping street on the corner where Am Hof meets Bognergasse, Park Hyatt Vienna’s Presidential Suite strikes just the right balance between tasteful opulence and warm livability. I felt right at home within moments of setting down my bits and bobs on a console and my MacBook in the office. The oval salon is hung with a massive Josef Hoffman-designed Lobmeyr crystal chandelier, which was apparently increased from its original size to have greater impact in the main living space. Whilst huge and OTT it really is a thing of beauty. A three-metre curved sofa echoes the shape of the room, facing a large hi-tech TV casually sitting on the floor in front of a curved bank of 4.5-metre windows and plush drapes. Beyond them a balustraded balcony which, from the outside, accentuates the rounded corner between Bognergasse and 86 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017


Seitzergasse. An antique 1937 Bosenddorfer grand piano sits coolly to one side of the lounge - present but not screaming to be noticed - sans candelabra. Meanwhile in the dining room, a dreamy Casper Faassen painting enjoys pride of place in the middle of a huge wall, looking down on a silver leafed table equally equipped for eating and conferencing. Towering walnut bookcases laden with gorgeous objet d’art fill one wall of the masculine yet comfy office, where a large L-shaped desk inset with champagne-coloured stingray is offset by a deep-buttoned ivory leather swivel armchair. And so it goes on, every space brimming with detailing, fabric covered walls, mother-of-pearl, silver leafing and more detailing. Not to mention marble - plenty of marble. For me the pièces de résistance are the spectacular wall of lapis in the master bathroom, and the 3-metre mother-of-pearl encrusted oval mirror in the guest cloakroom, which was so huge it was impossible to photograph. I almost forgot the Lalique taps, the mirrored bath tub fit for a pop diva, the custom-designed silvered four-poster canopy bed, and the slick black kitchen equipped with every convenience, complete with a separate entrance for clandestine room service deliveries. Yet, despite being surrounded by such glamour, lavishness, excruciatingly expensive finishes and valuable antiques and bespoke furniture at every turn, the suite was comfortable, entirely usable and functioned just beautifully. Double-glazing and electrically-operated blackouts and curtains ensured that I slept like a baby, and room service breakfasts gently eased me into each day. And what I liked most about the suite, was that from the corridor outside, you had no idea what grandeur lay beyond the relatively nondescript single guest room door. Pure class. Park Hyatt Vienna is a place that stirs guests’ emotions, welcomes them with open arms and rewards them with luxuries, pampering and fond memories, the latter being as much about GM Monique Decker and her spirited and caring staff than it is about the warm environment they have created. The architectural beauty of Park Hyatt Vienna is that from an artistic and historical standpoint, inside and out Am Hof 2 is much the same as it was when the building first went up in the early 1900s. This is an incredible feat when you consider that inside now contains every modern-day hospitality convenience, seamlessly integrated into the old structure, and the hotel's guest rooms are some of the most sumptuous and spacious in the city. A testament as much to Dutch interior design duo Finnigan and Glintmeijer as it is to Am Hof 2’s original creators von Gotthilf and Neumann, these four experts - spanning more than one hundred years of craftsmanship and design - have between them guaranteed that The Pearl of Vienna will stand proud over the Austrian capital’s most famous square for at least another century. Nicholas Chrisostomou stayed in the EUR 5,000/night Presidential Suite at Park Hyatt Vienna in July 2017. The nightly rate includes Mercedes S-Class airport transfers, breakfast and taxes

www.vienna.park.hyatt.com

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IL PALIO Bareback riders careering around Piazza del Campo in the historic center of Siena during the Italian city’s epic annual horse race, Il Palio 16 August 2017 www.ilpalio.org


Better known as the viper-tongued queen of the comedy skies, Australian comedienne Caroline Reid has been playing her turbo-charged airline hostess alter ego PAM ANN for more than two decades. Catty, cutting and often crude, Reid’s act draws on both the glamour and inelegance of flying, usually dividing the audience into first, business and economy classes. Her shows are an addictively entertaining environment where literally no-one watching is safe from either Pam demanding help or dishing out a piece of her indecent mind


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What was your first inspiration for Pam Ann and how did you come-up with her name? themed birthday party where I was dressed as a 1960s Pan Am air hostess because James Bond only flew the then chic Pan Am airline. After a lot of vodkas Pan Am started to sound like PAM ANN and the rest is history.

Is there any theatrical history in your family or were you a fan of any particular comedians as a child? My dad was a used car salesman and my mum sold Hoover vacuum cleaners. My Mum hails from Liverpool so her side of the family was always very funny - maybe the Northern humour is in my blood. Barry Humphries aka Dame Edna Everage was my childhood inspiration - I just loved the way he played with the audience and referred to people seated in the back rows as paupers. Dame Edna not only inspired my live Pam Ann shows but also my TV show on Foxtel Australia.

What was your first air travel experience? I flew as an unattended minor on the now defunct Trans Australia Airlines (TAA) from Melbourne to Sydney. My Mum would often send me off to stay with my cousins. I remember the flight attendants being so glamorous and they took incredibly good care of me. Back then passengers could smoke on board and security wasn’t a priority.

Who or what has most influenced Pam’s personality? Air travel and flying are obviously Pam Ann’s inspiration, and travelling the world almost as much as a real flight attendant has added more layers and depth to the character over the years. Working the club scene in the early days made Pam aggressive since she often had to yell and curse to be heard. She never used to be so ferocious and bold. But as the airports got bigger and she travelled more the character started to develop into what she is today. As Pam is getting older she is becoming less and less concerned over who she offends.

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Please tell our readers (who haven’t had the pleasure of flying with Pam Ann) what to expect from one of your shows. Pam Ann says what real flight attendants would like to say. The show is very improvised and audience participation plays a big part of the current tour so don’t sit in the front row. The show is a little like taking a flight in the sense that you get a bit of everything, from champagne to a movie, all washed down with some verbal abuse. Someone said to me it was like being hijacked for two hours with laughing gas. Buckle up though because meeting Pam is not for the easily offended. Pam is very un-pc in a rather politically correct world.

What are Pam’s traits, qualities and failings? Pam Ann is very passionate about flying. She is always flying and when she’s not flying she is partying in fantastic locations with fabulous people around the world. People either love her or hate her - she’s very much an acquired taste. She loves a drink and recreational drugs, I mean, how else can a lady party all night and do a back-to-back to Singapore the next day?! Pam loves fashion and the marketing aspect of her airline. Pam never married because she gets bored incredibly quickly so she has a man in every airport. Basically, Pam Ann is an unapologetic airhostess bitch who is the envy of the airline industry.

You’ve performed all over the world, in everything from backstreet bars and comedy clubs, to huge theatres and massive stadiums. What’s your favorite venue in the world to perform at and why? The Two Brewers in Clapham is a fun venue. Not the most glamorous but it’s perfect to try new material because I can be as un-pc as I like since it’s a gay bar, people are drunk and they are there to laugh which allows me to explore and let rip. Theatres are more of an event, which people book months in advance, so they expect a certain level of professionalism and want to be entertained which can put more pressure on a performance. Joe’s Pub in NYC is a great cabaret space where people are eating and drinking during the show so there’s a really buzzy atmosphere. New York audiences are very hard to please but if you manage to do it the show can rock. The Hammersmith Apollo is a great theatre, huge space and on another level, but it’s a different kind of performance more of a production and less intimate. The Theatre Royal in Glasgow is an incredible venue and probably my favourite in the world to perform at. Not only is it beautiful and the perfect size, but Glaswegians are one of the most enjoyable audiences to play to. They love to drink and want to party so they arrive with an incredible and infectious energy.

Madonna once described Pam Ann as #cruellyfunny. Would you say that this is accurate? Absolutely, and coming from Madonna makes this comment even more fabulous. I would love to work with Madonna on a comedy tour. Who knows, maybe she will read this and call Pam Ann. A “Madonna/Pam Ann Confessions Of An Unapologetic Bitch” tour has a rather nice ring to it!

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Pam being so very un-pc, edgy and spontaneous often voicing things that others are too scared to say - makes her shows uniquely comedic in today’s world


Your global following spans everything from city slickers and heterosexual couples to the LGBT community and countless celebrities. What do you think it is about Pam’s personality that appeals to such a broad spectrum of people? These days everyone travels, so most people can relate to what Pam talks about in her shows, basically because they have lived it. I have literally performed all over the world - from Warsaw to Hong Kong and Paris to Sydney - and I guess that Pam appeals so broadly because I tailor each of my shows to the country and culture I’m performing in, and the universal topic of flying is so easily relatable. People also love to be made fun of and hear how other people perceive them and their country. And Pam being so very un-pc, edgy and spontaneous - often voicing things that others are too scared to say - makes her shows uniquely comedic in today’s world. More than anything else, laughter is arguably still the best medicine.

You supported Cher onstage during her UK farewell tour in 2004. Tell us about the experience, especially performing in stadiums and warming-up for a global pop icon. It was one of the most exhilarating and scariest experiences of my life yet one of the highlights of my career. I've been a fan since the Sonny and Cher show, so to be asked was a tremendous honour. I’ll never forget that Cher was driven from Dublin to Belfast, her driver got lost so she was 30 mins late to the Odyssey Arena. As a performer you really don’t want to be late in Belfast. I had to perform to a hostile crowd and make them laugh. It was fucking scary. Cher’s manager asked me to extend my set by 10 mins to buy some time for Cher, so I added a security bag check, keeping in mind this was to a crowd of around 10,000

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disgruntled and drunk Northern Irelanders. I got the stage security to grab a woman’s feather topped bag (I couldn’t reach from the stage). Security gave me the bag, I went through its contents to the woman’s horror, then asked my dancers to wrap it in cling film. But as they wrapped it I could hear the top of the bag snap and break. Basically the dancers turned a beautiful feathered bag into a small ball. When I threw the remains back to the bag’s owner she looked like she wanted to stab me. I ran off stage and never did that again in a show.

Is Pam’s character constantly evolving and how much of Caroline Reid has morphed into the Pam of 2017? It’s actually the opposite - these days I'm less and less like Pam. In real life I'm low key, quite shy and not at all like the character I play, which sometimes makes it hard when meeting new people. Establishing new relationships with guys often pose a challenge. I routinely tell guys on dates that I work at Aldo (Canadian shoe store) because telling them I’m Pam Ann can freak out a heterosexual man.

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Tell us about an occasion when Pam has taken a joke too far? I personally don’t think I have ever taken a joke too far but some people in the audience do and they generally leave. Aids, Aborigines and Isis are great topics for taking a joke too far. People walk out if I make fun of a certain culture and my language can also make people leave. A woman saying c**t is offensive in some people’s minds. People should research the show before buying a ticket and chill out more. The world has become way too serious and politically correct for my liking!

Have you ever considered toning down your act to secure a particular gig? Never, which is why I don’t get booked for as many corporate gigs. I once had to cut my show in half at a bankers Christmas party at the Dorchester hotel because I swore and offended the CEO. The show was doomed from the beginning because they were a bunch of white middle-aged misogynistic men who couldn’t handle an aggressive in-your-face female comic. Basically they wanted a stripper. I’ve had men come up and squeeze my boobs at corporate events, asking if I was a man or a woman. That kind of behaviour is disgraceful, so if anyone should tone themselves down it’s drunk inappropriate corporate types. I will never tone down my act for corporations or money - it’s simply not why I got into comedy.

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You were invited by Elton John to perform as Pam to David Furnish’s 40th birthday party guests on board a privately chartered 737 from London to Venice. Please tell us about the flight and how Pam handled the abundance of celebrities on board? Elton and David changed me forever and there is no one else in the world that knows how to throw a party like they do. Seeing the passenger list threw me into a spin.. Victoria Beckham, Isabella Blow, Philip Treacy, Patrick Cox, Elizabeth Hurley, Lulu and Damien Hirst to name but a few. On the day of the flight I was so freaked out at the thought of being on a plane for two hours with such huge stars that I had a panic attack. As they started boarding the plane Pam went into full-on bitch mode. I don’t suppose many had ever been spoken to in that way before and some couldn’t work out whether I was a real flight attendant or not. They were shocked and amused but mostly confused, especially when Pam told them to fuck off when they asked for a drink or assistance with their bags. By the time we got into the air I literally had them eating out of the palm of my hand, so much so that Pam was asked to perform on the flight back.

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John and David Furnish ged me forever and there is no else in the world that knows to throw a party like they do


Do you have any memorable anecdotes about that weekend which you would care to share with our readers? When the music stopped at David’s party Donatella Versace had an Italian fit, insisted one more song be played and sent her people to retrieve a CD from her suite at the Cipriani. The song was “Video Killed the Radio Star”. Philip Treacy and I howled with laughter. Whilst it’s impossible to disconnect Pam from her relationship with airline crews, she’s even more intertwined with the LGBTQ community. Please tell us a bit about the history of this strong bond. I've always been part of the LGBTQ community since it's where Pam was born. I think there should be a ‘P’ for Pam Ann at the end of LGBTQ-P. Caroline must always get treated very well on-board flights? Cabin crews around the world have made my world spectacular, and I'm forever grateful to Pam Ann for gifting me the most awesome travel experiences. I'm nothing without cabin crew in my life - they are my inspiration. Is Caroline ever able to fly commercially under the radar? Absolutely since not all crew know me, especially in the USA.

How often does Caroline find the time to return to your homeland and what’s your connection with the country more than twenty years after you left? My family are in Oz so I'll always be connected. I try and get home once or twice a year. Nothing beats going home for the food, wine, bars and beaches. What elements would Caroline say make a truly great flight? Cabin crew and great service. When was the last time you flew in economy and how was it? I always fly economy on flights of less than 3hrs. I like it up the rear occasionally. If you could sit next to anyone on a long-haul flight who would it be and why? Richard Branson because he is one of my inspirations in life. I could go twice around the world in his hot air balloon and would never tire of hearing what he has to say. Richard Branson is to aviation what Steve Jobs was to computers. There are so few of these people in the world it would be an absolute dream to sit next to Richard Branson.


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What essentials must always be with you on board a long flight? MAC Ruby Woo lipstick, headphones and Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. Do you have an in-flight routine when crossing the Atlantic? I am a plane geek so always book flights based on the aircraft. British Airways’ Boeing 747-400 is my favourite and 1A is my preferred seat. I get to the airport super early, eat and drink in the first-class lounge, board as soon as I can, unpack and get settled into 1A and drink some champagne no matter what time of the day or night it is, because to me, when you’re flying, you can drink anytime and any amount. I always watch the take off and film it, then drink some more and eat everything offered to me. I never sleep, even on red eyes, because I'm too excited. I’ll watch a couple of movies and always leave the aircraft drunk so by the time I reach my hotel it’s time for bed. What has been your most memorable vacation experience to date? Jackie O’s Beach Club on Mykonos is one of my all-time favourite places to eat, party and get merry. I’ve experienced the most amazing parties and drag shows here. It usually starts off quite tame, but as the champagne flows and the DJ gets going by sunset the entire venue full of guests are wedged precariously on the edge of the pool waiting for Priscilla the drag queen to start her act to the backdrop of Super Paradise Bay. Only in Greece can one get away with such debauchery. This summer I will be performing a one-off Pam Ann show here to celebrate Jackie O’s 9th birthday.

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I never sleep on planes because I'm too excited. I’ll watch a couple of movies and always leave the aircraft drunk, so by the time I reach my hotel it’s time for bed

Best airport in the world? Hollywood Burbank Airport in California because it’s a classic. Formerly known as Bob Hope airport, its architecture reflects classic old school Hollywood glamour and harks back to the golden age of flying when boarding a Boeing meant style, class and glitz. You can just imagine Liz Taylor flying out of Burbank with all of her Louis Vuitton luggage, or Sonny and Cher arriving back to a gaggling press pack. Caroline’s worst personal air travel experience? There really isn't a “worst” because everything is potentially material for one of Pam’s shows! Saying that arriving anywhere hungover isn't pleasant and happens often. Caroline’s favorite airline and why? British Airways because I love the cabin crew and the familiarity. Pam has performed quite a lot for British Airways so I’m very loyal to the airline and perhaps a touch biased. BA and Pam Ann collaborated on a viral

campaign in 2008, and I have been involved in the airline’s Flying Start charity which raises money to tackle poverty in deprived communities around the world www.ba-flyingstart.com. Where is Caroline most desperate to visit right now and why? Mexico City since I've never been and I love big, hectic foreign cities. What’s next for Pam Ann? I have been brainstorming an exciting new Pam Ann TV concept with a prominent travel industry guru which I hope to announce later this year. I am also working on a Pam Ann movie which has been a longtime dream of mine. I know it might take some years to get on screen but I am working on it. As far as my live work goes, Pam is touring in Australia, USA and Europe in 2018. I am also penning my first biography on my hell of a journey as Pam Ann. www.pamann.com

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WORLD BOG SNORKELLING CHAMPIONSHIPS A competitor readies himself to swim two lengths of a 55-metre trench, cut through a weed-infested peat bog in the Welsh town of Llanwrtyd Wells, at the annual World Bog Snorkelling Championships 28 August 2017 www.green-events.co.uk


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No Shoes Required AT

COCO-MAT ECO RESIDENCES SERIFOS NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU experiences an authentic slice of Hellenic history, artistically updated to create a rare hospitality experience on the shores of the Greek island of Serifos


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uxury in terms of travelling experiences comes in many different guises. There is the obvious opulence of a lavish hotel suite, lined in silks rich woods and marble, littered with antique furniture and adorned with pricey artworks. Then there is the gastronomic luxury of consuming multiple courses of decadent foods paired with expensive wines. Personal time and space are often a luxury, especially for busy high-flying executives. Bathing in the sun for an hour or two is considered a luxury by many, not least city folk who reside in bustling metropolises. And then there is the luxury of beholding a spectacular vista, feeling like it belongs solely to you, waking-up to the same view every morning and going to sleep at night after having watched the sun set in the horizon. Until staying at COCO-MAT Eco Residences, on the beautiful unspoilt western Cycladic island of Serifos in the Aegean Sea, I must admit that I hadn’t ever really fully appreciated the latter. But I soon discovered that fanciful décor and all the bells and whistles in the hospitality world rather quickly paled into insignificance when confronted by such intense natural beauty, the like of which I experienced on Serifos, from my incredible vantage point above Vagia Bay, gazing down towards the calm azure waters below. I realised soon after disembarking the Seajet ferry which whisked me there in two hours from Piraeus, as the minivan in which we were travelling to our lodgings passed fish tavernas, pastry shops and cafés lining Livadi harbour, that there was something intensely innocent and unpretentious about Serifos. I flash-backed to childhood family holidays in Cyprus, when times were carefree and young Nicholas bobbed up and down in a rubber ring on the Mediterranean. Arriving in Serifos, on a clear blue-skied June day, felt a little like stepping back into the seventies, and I knew there and then that I was in for a genuine Grecian treat. As we traversed the winding roads, the scenery which unfolded before our eyes was quite literally breath-taking. Turning every corner gave way to another picture postcard bay or sweeping sea vista, and the island appeared to exude a calmness and reassurance that rapidly connected directly with my senses. Areas of arid terrain and wild countryside, punctuated by intense deep blue swathes of the Aegean, made me ache to get down to one of the beaches immediately, which I knew were below but couldn’t quite see. Serifos is an island laden with history, and its mines and the people who worked them are a significant part of its past. Rich Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 115


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in iron ore and precious minerals, Serifos was once home to a mining industry that thrived for eighty years, giving prosperity to the island and growing the population. The exploitation of Serifos' mineral resources by Emilios Gromman and his family began in 1885 and continued until 1962 when the mines closed as reserves depleted, production costs increased and metal prices were in decline around the world. The rusty remains of mining machinery, tools and carts dot some of the island’s lush green hills like poetic reminders of Serifos’ industrial past. In some places it feels like the workers literally downed their tools, stopped the wagons and walked away forever. COCO-MAT Eco Residences has been fashioned in such a way as to respect the everyday lives of the hardworking miners of the island’s bygone era and, in some way, keep their memory alive. Set on wide, sandy and un-commercialised Vagia beach, free of tavernas and forming part of one of the most picture-perfect bays on the island, a hillside cluster of one-time grey-stone miners’ quarters built a century earlier, have been reimagined to create a rare hospitality experience incorporating an authentic slice of Greek history. Well-known architect, George Zafiriou, in conjunction with coveted contemporary Hellenic hospitality and sleep products brand, COCO-MAT, reworked the site into just over a dozen spacious two-storey residence-styled hotel suites, that skilfully merge the traditional elements of local architecture with an expansive industrial feel, to create hospitable spaces oozing natural light, in complete harmony with their surroundings. COCO-MAT’s involvement in this project is evident throughout what is essentially an über-relaxed boutique resort, catering to the needs of discerning travellers looking for a unique and tranquil spot for a hassle-free and peaceful break. Even the smallest details, such as room keys and slippers, are thoughtfully connected to the hotel’s warm and eco-friendly concept. COCO-MAT Eco Residences is essentially a place to decompress, switch-off and, well, sit back with a drink in hand and simply admire the extraordinary scene in front of you. Because this resort is all about the somewhat implausible views, which draw the eye from every room, terrace and window. Within minutes of unpacking, shortly after dusk and quite unplanned, I fell into a sleep which lasted for almost twenty hours straight, waking only to eat, rehydrate and then drift back into a super contented slumber. Obviously the further up the hillside you go the more spectacular the panorama beneath you. We were lucky


enough to be staying in one of the highest two-bedroomed residences, which boasted a sprawling sun-trap-of-a-terrace off a spacious lounge cum dining room laid with brushed-concrete floors, cute trompe l'oeil tiles and simple handmade rugs. Both the rustic chic al fresco breakfast area – fashioned out of old timber planks and weighty remnants of oxidised mining equipment – and the more formal circular dining table inside could comfortably seat eight. Meanwhile deep custom-made built-in sofas, upholstered in restful shades of pale blue and grey, just screamed to be laid on. In fact there was not a part of the residence which didn’t feel snug, inviting or gently calming. Talented interior designers Ioanna Founti and Zili Karahaliou have deftly crafted warm and well-lit spaces, rich in earth tones, with an aesthetic made up of just the right combination of selected Serifos finds and restrained decorative items from Athens, complete with subtle nods to colonial style. The only time I needed footwear during our four-night stay was to ride our rented quad bike around the island. Other than that I had pretty much no use for my Rivieras at all. Breakfasts of warm spanakopita, fresh fruits and melon, just-squeezed juices and the most divine Masticha Chai with honey were usually served to our room, even on days when I woke closer to lunchtime. And whilst there were countless places to go, hidden beaches to explore and must-see island sites to visit, quite honestly it was really just too tempting to do absolutely nothing but laze in the sun or have another lie down. The enormous all-natural daybeds on our terrace were for more than just sun-worshipping and siestas – more than once I seriously considered sleeping under the stars. In so expertly unifying nature, simplicity and elegance in one exclusive yet unstuffy beachfront location, COCO-MAT Eco Residences not only offers a place to dispense with the cares and worries of our hectic 21st century lives, but also unwind, rest and rejuvenate ready to face the world again. The resort’s authentic Cycladic design merged with unadorned industrial order and casual eco-friendly ethos was the perfect setting for my barefoot Greek island break from reality. I can honestly say that parting from the spectacular views of Vagia Bay, to which I had woken on four splendid mornings, was not an easy or pleasurable task. www.serifos.coco-mat-hotels.com Nicholas made the two-hour crossing from Piraeus (Athens) direct to Serifos on a Seajet catamaran www.seajets.gr/en


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For the past few years, the capital of Georgia has been hell-bent on proving that it’s also the capital of the Southeastern United States. Its place carved into fiction and folklore, DILRAZ KUNNAMAL visits the city where Martin Luther King Jr. grew up and Margaret Mitchell wrote and based her timeless award-winning literary classic Gone With The Wind


SPOTLIGHT ON

ATLANTA

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ATLANTA’S MIDTOWN SKYLINE FROM PIEDMONT PARK

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A

tlanta’s magnetic historically-rooted charisma has been noticeably enhanced of late by new charms and modern amenities, making now the perfect time to visit the beating heart of the American South. Originally a railroad town that served as a gateway to more far-flung corners of the Southeast, recent years have seen the opening of major new attractions, the unveiling of sprawling food halls, a new pedestrian trail snaking its way beneath the skyline and a brand-new streetcar system routed directly through Atlanta’s downtown hub, reinvigorating the bustling financial and commercial centre and drawing more people into the city. The largest city in Georgia, whilst Atlanta is now a vibrant metropolis boasting a thriving and varied cultural community it also remains a crucial countrywide transportation hub. Super-easily accessible via one of the world’s busiest airports, the city has attracted a new influx of entrepreneurs, media moguls and world-renowned chefs, the latter giving rise to a burgeoning and diverse culinary scene.

Atlanta’s hospitality offerings range from deluxe full-service properties and well known 5* brands to boutique hotels and antique-adorned bed and breakfasts. There’s literally somewhere for everyone to rest their head in Atlanta, from celebs and high-flying CEOs to vacationing families and backpackers. For those who like to be in the thick of it all, the 414-room Loews Atlanta Hotel is well located in the epicentre of Midtown’s hustle and bustle – close to the famous Fox Theatre, Piedmont Park and the Margaret Mitchell House – and puts a lot more sights within easy walking distance. And walking is indeed a pleasure in Atlanta. Rooms are serene and modern with floor-to-ceiling windows, and walls are hung with colourful works by local artists and big flat-screen TVs. Try to bag a room towards the top of the hotel’s 26 storeys (www.loewshotels.com/atlanta). The hotel's street-level Saltwood Charcuterie & Bar is renowned for its exceptionally good handcrafted cocktails, micro-brews and Southern-accented tapas-style plates and most definitely worth a look-in. (www.saltwoodatlanta.com).


At the top end is the stately St. Regis Atlanta, which comes laden with the kind of luxuries and decadent touches one expects from Starwood’s premium hotel brand. Located in the heart of Buckhead, the St. Regis is Southern luxury personified, complete with a bevy of doting, immaculately turned-out butlers, whizzing around and fulfilling guests’ every request. Bedrooms are large, airy and, well, pricey. Complete with floor-to-ceiling windows, handcrafted chandeliers, original artworks and probably the largest hotel bathrooms in the city, lined with marble and equipped with deep soaking tubs, double vanities, rain-showers and a television set in the bathroom mirror. (www.stregisatlanta.com) Completely Victorian inside and out and one of the first structures built in Midtown Atlanta (started in 1891 and finished in 1892), architecture buffs will love the stunning Shellmont Inn. Built by Walter T. Downing, one of Atlanta’s premier architects, the property is now a designated city landmark and 5-room B&B retaining oodles of charming details. Guest rooms are decorated in period splendour complete with Oriental rugs, wallpaper that replicates patterns in London's V&A Museum and large antique carved-wood bedsteads. (+1 404 872-9290)

HIGH MUSEUM OF ART

Once you’re settled and unpacked it’s time to do some exploring! Atlanta is so buzzing with energy and enthusiasm it’s virtually impossible not to rise early. A good place to start is the CNN Centre, the world headquarters of the media mammoth, founded by Ted Turner. There’s a palpable sense of anticipation in the air as one enters the building. The voluminous lobby is lined with an array of flags and features the vehicle used for CNN’s conflict reporting. The vast complex wholeheartedly embodies the essence of the company that calls it home. A 50-minute insider tour includes riding the world’s longest free-standing escalator and peeking into various stops over 8 floors, including an active newsroom, live studios and the weather room. The USD 33 “VIP Tour” is a must for all budding young news anchors! (http://tours.cnn.com/) Atlanta’s deep-rooted sporting connections are undeniable. Home of the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets and the American city where beach volleyball and mountain biking made their Olympic debuts, Atlanta has always been an active and energetic city, its residents vocal and dedicated supporters. Nothing feeds an ardent fan more than the College Football Hall of Fame, a short stroll across Centennial Olympic Park, which pays homage to the revered game and unofficial religion of the South. Here visitors can search flat-screen

GEORGIA AQUARIUM


LOEWS ATLANTA HOTEL

WORLD OF COCA-COLA MUSEUM

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Stay Exquisite Experience the modern day glamour combines with old-world elegance, The St. Regis Kuala Lumpur comprises of 208 elegantly furnished accomodations, featuring the largest guest rooms in the city. The signature St. Regis Butler Service provide discreet and anticipatory attention, every need is catered to.

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digital displays for stats on their favourite players. Even entry tickets are interactive, tailoring your experience through the building to the people and games you care most about after naming your home team on arrival (www.cfbhall.com). Since Atlanta was a touchpoint during the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s, it’s worth dropping into the intensely interesting Center for Civil and Human Rights to learn a little about the era. Comprising two very different sites, which quite honestly look as though they’ve landed from different galaxies, the USD 68 million facility opened just over three years ago and is cutting edge to say the least (www.civilandhumanrights.org). Meanwhile, a visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change (it may be a bit of a mouthful but it’s worth seeing!), includes admittance to the house in which the civil rights leader grew up and the church at which he was a pastor, and access to a digital archive where more than 10,000

documents from Martin Luther King's personal collection can be viewed (www.thekingcenter.org). Just across from these museums are the World of Coca-Cola Museum and the immense Georgia Aquarium (set on a 9-acre plot, to give you some idea of how massive it is), both of which have become international destinations. The World of Coca-Cola stands in Atlanta’s once-blighted downtown, on a 22-acre plot that the company purchased in the early 1990s. You enter by walking under a 27-foot bottle of Coke that hovers in a 90-foot-high glass pillar, the walls of which glisten like crushed ice and are bracingly cold to the touch, even when it’s sweltering outside. Guests of every age are catered for in this mammoth homage to the most famous fizzy drink on the planet by way of a variety of attractions, including a “Vault of Secret Formula”, a 10-gallery “Milestones of Refreshment” exhibit, a loft space which showcases vintage advertising and other Coca-Cola

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SHELLMONT INN

MARGARET MITCHELL HOUSE

memorabilia, a 4D movie experience and the inevitable taste room where more than 100 different beverages are on offer. If there wasn’t so much else to see and do in Atlanta it would be easy (and perhaps a little addictive) to lose half a day in the caffeine-fuelled world of this mass-marketing phenomenon (www.worldofcoca-cola.com).

FOX THEATRE

walking tours are offered daily to take visitors through the history of Atlanta from its early beginnings to the present day. The Georgia Railroad Freight Depot, which stands at the entrance to Underground Atlanta, is the city’s oldest building (www.underground-atlanta.com).

Moving around Atlanta is a doddle thanks to the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority public transport system (MARTA). A fascinating stop is Peachtree Center station, built 120ft underground and a veritable modern architectural marvel.

Culture vultures won’t want to miss Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, which was the first in the world to display works on loan from the Louvre in Paris. Here art aficionados can view paintings by van Gogh, Cézanne and Manet, not to mention an expansive and very well-curated permanent collection (www.high.org).

In the heart of downtown Atlanta, Underground Atlanta opened in 1969 as a “city beneath the streets.” Here visitors can explore six city blocks, 12 acres and three levels of shopping, restaurants and entertainment in one destination with more than 100 years of history. Guided 50-minute

Sightseeing and touring is a draining business, and frequent pit stops are needed to rehydrate and maintain energy levels. Luckily Atlanta is awash with all manner of dynamic new culinary offerings, vibrant bars, happening cafés and celebrated restaurants.


OCTOPUS BAR

Since you’re in Southern America anytime is a good time for fried chicken! Founded in July 1997 by chef Erica Palmer-Dobb, Erica’s Sidewalk Café may be unassuming and tiny but the food is hearty and delicious (134 Baker St NE). Famous names like chef Kevin Gillespie have breathed new gastronomic life into a number of neighbourhoods and encouraged other eateries to move in alongside. Gillespie’s award-winning restaurant in the Glenwood park neighbourhood of Atlanta is a veritable treat for one’s taste buds (www.gunshowatl.com). A meal at Angus Brown and Nhan Le’s Asian restaurant, Octopus Bar in South Buckhead, will not disappoint. Very sadly Brown passed away prematurely a few months ago at the age of 35, but the restaurant he co-founded lives on and reservations are essential (www.octopusbaratl.com). Meanwhile, for a prime cut steak in upscale yet relaxed surroundings, not to mention superb sushi and wonderfully fresh seafood, Ray’s In The City is hard to

beat, impeccable service and tasty wholesome food its hallmarks (www.raysrestaurants.com). Before calling it a night, be sure to hitch a ride on the 200ft SkyView Ferris wheel, located downtown and offering breathtaking panoramic views across the city. If you’re still flush after a whole day out, USD 50/person will buy you an extended ride in a VIP gondola complete with glass floor and five Ferrari style seats (www.skyviewatlanta.com). With a myriad of museums, outdoor activities, culinary adventures and shopping areas in the cosmopolitan capital of the South, there’s always something fun or happening in Atlanta which appeals to Americans and tourists alike. And Southern folk are ever so warm and friendly! With so many new attractions and such a diverse and thriving cultural scene, now is most certainly the time to visit the vibrant capital of the Southeastern United States (www.exploregeorgia.org/city/atlanta). Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 131


CAPTAIN COOK MONUMENT

PU'U LOA


TRAVELLER LOWDOWN SAM HENDERSON and her family visits the Big Island of Hawai’i, the United States’ largest isle and home to one of the most active volcanoes in the world, Kīīlauea

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ith a total surface area greater than all the other Hawaiian islands combined, the Big Island is the largest in its archipelago and boasts everything from sun to snow, technicoloured sandy beaches to actively erupting volcanoes, vast barren lava fields to lush tropical rain forests, and snorkeling to whale watching and even diving with manta rays. We spent ten days on Hawai’i and quite honestly it wasn’t long enough! More than anything else, Hawai’i’s laid-back enjoy-life ethos is just perfect for any family holiday. We began our Hawaiian adventure by flying into the town of Hilo on the east coast, but everywhere we visited can be accessed just easily from Kailua-Kona on the west coast. The biggest attraction to landing at Hilo is its proximity to Volcanoes National Park which is only 30 miles from the Jun-Jul 2017 The Cultured Traveller 133


airport. Volcanoes National Park is the location of Kīlauea – one of the world’s top 10 most active volcanoes – which sits adjacent to towering Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on our planet. Kīlauea began erupting in 1983 and has two fascinating focal points: its lava lake in the park and its ocean entry viewpoint. We spent three days out of ten in Volcanoes National Park. The first at the Kīlauea Visitor Centre and driving the 30km winding Chain of Craters Road, through the East Rift and coastal area of the park, past active thermal sites and across countless lava fields steeply descending to the sea, towards the ocean entry viewpoint. We returned back to base early evening to watch the sunset and view the constantly bubbling main crater from the deck of Jaggar Museum just a mile away (www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/jaggar_museum.htm). A note of caution: occasionally gas levels in the park reach dangerously high levels, resulting in rangers restricting road access to the vents. This can last up to 24 hours so it’s best to check the park's website before planning a visit (www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm). To stay just a short walk from Kīlauea Visitor Centre, Volcano House is an excellent choice, having hosted visitors since 1846. Deeply rooted in Hawaiian culture and hospitality, the hotel offers an authentic and warm visitor experience and boasts a rather good restaurant ideal for an evening meal. Accommodation ranges from entry level up to Deluxe Volcano Crater View rooms which offer spectacular views of Kīlauea caldera (www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com). There are some excellent full and half-day hikes inside the park, along well marked trails with fascinating views, across and above active and dormant craters and other geological features. Information boards detail the island's unique flora and fauna along the routes. On day two we hiked to Kīlauea Iki and along the Devastation Trail. We also explored lava tubes, visited sites where ancient tribes buried their dead and viewed petroglyphs (lava carvings) at Pu'u Loa dating back to between 1200-1450A.D. All fascinating stuff which the kids really enjoyed (www.nps.gov/havo/planyourvisit/hikes_day.htm). Our third day began around noon when we set out for Kalapana, the closest town to Kīlauea’s lava ocean entry viewpoint at Kamukona. En route we stopped at Tin Shack Bakery in Pahoa for a scrummy brekkie cum brunch (@TinShackBakery). Most afternoons in Kalapana are lively, with market stalls selling food, drink and arts and crafts. The best and quickest way into the ocean entry viewpoint is on a mountain bike which can be hired in Kalapana. Or, like us, you can hike the 4 miles each way, in

CHAIN OF CRATERS RO


Volcanoes National Park is the location of Kīlauea – one of the world’s top 10 most active volcanoes – which sits adjacent to towering Mauna Loa, the largest active volcano on our planet

OAD

VOLCANO HOUSE

HILO

Jun-Jul 2017 The Cultured Traveller 135


which case you need to set off at around 4pm with a head torch and water - across the barren lava plains. Where the lava flow enters the ocean is a truly incredible sight, complete with towering plumes of hydrogen chloride and vivid orange-red rivers of light. This spectacle of nature is really not to missed when visiting Hawai’i. In the same place chill out on the rocks, watch the sunset and observe the entry point by night. After dark, journey back under a sea of glistening stars which will give you time to appreciate that a village used to exist before molten magma overtook the place. Recently a few entrepreneurial individuals have built houses on stilts above the solidified lava fields. The next few days we spent at beaches with a bit of a difference. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach was formed when lava flowing into the ocean exploded as it hit the water, cooled rapidly and was shattered into tiny particles by crashing waves. The ocean at the beach is cool, mainly because a freshwater vent emerges directly into the left side of the bay, mixing with the warmer sea water. The black sand is soothingly warm, palm-fringed and there is a magnificent freshwater lily pond fronting the beach, which we luckily caught in bloom. The beach’s main attraction is the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles feeding, resting and nest there. Equipped with snorkeling gear it’s possible to dive with them close to shore and see them up close and personal. On the way to Punalu’u and just off the road we stopped for a quick tour of the local coffee mill at Pāhala. As well as great tasting coffee, the wasabi macadamias and macadamia nut brittle were to die for! (www.kaucoffeemill.com) Three miles down after Punalu’u, on the way to Green Sand Beach, you’ll find Punalu'u Bake Shop, famed for its delicately sweet and moist Hawaiian sweetbread as well as moreish doughnuts. Well worth looking-in but note that on most days the shop closes at 5pm (www.bakeshophawaii.com). The green sand of Papakōlea Beach is an olive colour caused by eruptions from what was once a volcano. In fact, the beach itself is within what was once a cinder cone. Located at the southern tip of Hawai’i, just west of South Point, it’s an even drive from either Hilo or Kailua-Kona. You can either hike the final 2.5 miles or pay around USD 10 for a ride in the back of a 4WD vehicle, since the land is government owned and visitors must use approved transport. On arrival at the beach you will need to negotiate a steep climb down via a locally built wooden ladder, but you’ll be rewarded with a wonderful swim in the clean, cool ocean. (www.greensandbeachhawaii.com)

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KAPOHO TIDEPOOLS


Where the lava flow enters the ocean is a truly incredible sight, complete with towering plumes of hydrogen chloride and vivid orange-red rivers of light

KĪLAUEA’S LAVA OCEAN ENTRY VIEWPOINT

PAPAKŌLEA BEACH


Big Island boasts everything from sun to snow, technicoloured sandy beaches to actively erupting volcanoes, vast barren lava fields to lush tropical rain forests, and snorkeling to whale watching and even diving with manta rays

ANGKOR TEMPLE

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A 15-minute drive from Papakōlea is the southern-most point of the U.S.A., Ka Lae, also known as South Point. If you’re an adrenalin junkie, a short walk west of the viewpoint is purportedly one of the best cliff-jumping points in the world. Be sure to have someone with you if you plan to take the plunge! After all that activity, you'll want a cold bear at least, if not some tasty grub, which you can get at South Side Shaka Restaurant & Bar in nearby Nā’ālehu, America’s most southernmost village community. The food is good and the portions at Shaka are generous. (www.shakarestaurant.com) Hawai’i has easy-access snorkeling all over the island. Near Hilo at Ahalanui is a volcanically naturally heated pool and one of the best family beaches on the east side of the Big Island. Just 15 minutes on you’ll find the calm Kapoho Tidepools which are fantastic to snorkel. Half way to Kailua-Kona is Two Steps Bay (Honaunau) abundant with sea life and coral with some amazing topography to explore at a variety of depths. Swim a little way out into this safe and protected bay and you may meet a pod of spinner dolphins like we did. (www.tropicalsnorkeling.com/snorkeling-two-steps.html) A monument now marks the place where Captain Cook, thought to be the first Westerner to set sight on the Hawaiian Islands, died at Kealakekua Bay in 1779. This location has it all for snorkelling enthusiasts: coral, fish and super clear waters. It’s a bit of a mission to reach since the area is inaccessible by road, but well worth the effort if you do and the ideal place for a spot of kayaking (www.tropicalsnorkeling.com/snorkeling-captain-cook-monu ment.html). If you are snorkelling in this area then you must drop into Da Poke Shack and sample some of the local specialty: small chunks of delectably marinated raw tuna, known as ‘poke’ (www.dapokeshack.com). During our ten days on the Big Island we ate big and small. The Hawai'ian Style Cafe in Hilo is big on comfort food (www.hawaiianstylecafe.us), while Cafe 100 is home of the ‘Loco Moco’, a local institution of white rice topped with a burger patty, a fried egg and brown gravy, and worth a visit just for the experience. (www.cafe100.com) For something less casual, award-winning Café Pesto has two locations on Hawai’i and serves a range of delicious, ethnically diverse Island cuisine. (www.cafepesto.com) Any time spent on the Big Island of Hawai’i, whether volcano watching, sightseeing, hiking, swimming or simply eating and drinking, will imbue you with a sense of its incredibly diverse and accessible nature, whilst leaving you charmed with a warm and cosy feeling that it isn’t such a ‘big island’ after all.


TASTE &SIP REVIEW LILI PARIS Food Atmosphere

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aris is famous the world over for its fine food and superb restaurants. From casual cafés and neighbourhood bistros to fine dining restaurants and gastronomic institutions, the French capital has, for centuries, shown the rest of the world how to eat well and create a sense of occasion whilst doing so. With seventy Michelin-starred restaurants, Paris is arguably one of the world’s culinary capitals. Understandably the emphasis remains on French gastronomy, which is so well loved and cultivated that UNESCO has added it to the list of the world’s “intangible cultural heritage”. Rich in sauces and benefitting from France’s diverse geography, climate and agricultural traditions, French cuisine encompasses the freshest seafood, poultry, meat, vegetables and fruit. And the nation’s wines and cheeses are as world-renowned as its desserts.

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In the shadow of such established and celebrated local cuisine, Parisian restaurants delivering international and exotic fare at the highest standards have been few and far between with notable exceptions. So, when a new kid on the block opens like LiLi – offering Chinese cuisine at the same level as Paris’ finest dining establishments – people take notice. LiLi was always destined to be standout. Combining longstanding gastronomic traditions of Parisian fine dining with the global reputation for luxury and excellence that Peninsula properties are renowned for, LiLi makes for an über chic and exotic addition to the French capital’s restaurant scene. LiLi’s chef, Peter Ma, began his career as an apprentice in

Hong Kong at the age of 17, and has since worked at some of the best Chinese restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau. Ma brings a level of authenticity and professionalism to the Chinese restaurant scene in Paris that is unparalleled. Drawing upon the hotel brand’s Hong Kong roots, LiLi is a divine ode to Cantonese cooking, flawlessly presented in a glamorous yet tasteful setting, firmly rooted in the 21st century with nods to bygone oriental eras. Located in Paris’ moneyed 16th arrondissement within The Peninsula’s classic fin de siècle Haussmann building on grand tree lined Avenue Kléber, although LiLi has its own dedicated off-street entrance, making one’s way through the hotel’s magnificent marble and gold-accented palatial ground floor spaces creates an inimitable sense of occasion. Yet crossing from the hotel’s contemporary yet classical take


on period interior architecture into LiLi’s threshold is to be instantly transported into another world. The décor in LiLi is as one would imagine in the villa of a wealthy 1920s Hong Kong tai-pan realised by a flamboyant French interior designer. Rich dark wood columns, panels inlaid with intricate patterns and fiery red curtains are offset by oversized electric blue tassels and fanciful chandeliers. A circular central ceiling fixture from which a single light pendant dangles adds a sculptural dimension. Ambient low lighting completes the seductive stage-like setting. You would be right in thinking that this all sounds a bit dramatic. It is. Chinese opera served as one of the inspirations for LiLi’s interior esthetic, the restaurant having been named after a famous Chinese opera singer. Lacquered wood detailing, screen-printed images of seductive Chinese operatic characters and wall-mounted costumes and masks add avant-garde accents to the theatrical space. An intimate foyer gives way to the ample main dining room with soaring ceilings, adorned with private alcoves around its perimeter. Contemporary artworks skillfully mixed with antiques add the warmth of a sumptuous personal residence, whilst high backed chairs and banquettes add an element of stylish formality. Of course, all of this elegant decadence just whets the appetite for the main event – delicious Cantonese food at its best. The menu is expansive, with six and eight-course set options plus page upon page of à la carte choices. Divided into

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sections including seafood, meat, poultry, vegetables, noodles and barbeque, the biggest challenge at LiLi is deciding what to settle on as it all sounds so delicious. It’s best to arrive hungry and share plates to sample as many different dishes as possible. The Kamchatka crab with enoki mushrooms and cucumbers was tender, meaty and fresh. Minced foie gras served with chopped rice crackers to be rolled in lettuce leaves was addictive - I was truly sad when this dish had been consumed. Bresse chicken paired with jellyfish, daikon and sesame sauce not only tasted divine but proved that the chef was unafraid to mix non-conventional delicacies with the best local produce. But for many no Chinese feast would be complete without Peking duck. LiLi’s version is traditional, classic and quite possibly the best I had ever tasted. The meat was succulent, the skin perfectly dark golden and crispy, the pancakes thin. If the meal had ended there and then it would have been a triumph. However it ascended into pure gluttony, in the best of all possible senses. Obsiblue prawns from the Pacific island of New Caledonia were lightly grilled in Chinese spices. Obsiblue is a unique variety of prawn, blue in colour and famed for their sweetness and texture, served in only a handful of the world’s best restaurants. They were magnifique. The sweet and sour duck was the perfect combination of sweetness and savoury. Steamed monk fish from Brittany was accompanied with black bean sauce and bean curd. In


SLICED BARBECUED IBERICO PORK GLAZED WITH MALT SUGAR

STEAMED TURBOT FILET WITH BELL PEPPER

CHILLED ABALONE WITH SCALLOP


fact, throughout the meal superior traditional Cantonese fare was continuously enhanced by the best French ingredients. This being France, the wine list is encyclopedic and offers even the most cultivated oenophiles something to ogle and open their wallets for, Lili’s sommeliers on hand to expertly pair wines with Chinese dishes. Décor reminiscent of the opulent Ming Dynasty combined with delicious cuisine and classic dishes refashioned in a dynamic way all contribute to make LiLi a truly unique destination restaurant. Private enough for romantic and discreet outings, grand enough for special occasions and sufficiently gastronomically creative to broaden the palette of even die-hard Chinese food connoisseurs, LiLi is not only a welcome addition to the Parisian restaurant scene but wholly deserves its place amongst the city’s best establishments.

WOK FRIED BLUE LOBSTER WITH GINGER AND SPRING ONIONS

DEEP FRIED SESAME BALLS FILLED WITH CUSTARD


LILI Food: Atmosphere: Executive chef: Chef de cuisine: Address: Telephone: Email: Website: Cuisine: Opening hours: Reservations: Lunch price: Dinner price: Ideal meal:

Christophe Raoux Peter Ma The Peninsula Paris, 19 Avenue Kléber, Paris 75116, France +33 1 58 12 67 50 lilippr@peninsula.com paris.peninsula.com Gastronomic Chinese Every day 12:00-14:30 + 19:00-22:30 Essential 7-course set lunch EUR 88 8-course set dinner EUR 118 Dégustation menu: Steamed lobster dumpling with asparagus (EUR 18), steamed shrimp dumplings with bamboo shoots (EUR 16), chilled Kamtchatka king crab with enoki mushroom and cucumber, sesame oil seasoning (EUR 42), roasted Peking duck served in two courses (EUR 128), Glazed Kintoa pork loin (EUR 32), wok-fried Brittany blue lobster with ginger and spring onions (EUR 120), French Obsiblue prawns breaded with Chinese spices (EUR 42), wok-fried Simmental beef tenderloin with mushroom and sugar snap, black pepper sauce (EUR 42), Yeung Chow-style fried rice (EUR 28), chilled mango cream with pomelo and sago pearls (EUR 12). Wheelchair access: Yes Children: High chairs available. No kids’ menu but meals can be adapted to suit Credit cards: All major Parking: Free valet for diners Reviewed by Alex Benasuli for dinner on 13th May 2017 Ratings range from zero to five stars and reflect the reviewer’s feedback about the food and service, and separately the atmosphere in the dining room.

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TASTE &SIP

SPOTLIGHT LEFTERIS LAZAROU

Nicholas Chrisostomou visits Michelin-starred Varoulko Seaside on a pretty Greek harbour just outside the centre of Athens and discovers that there are many more ways to serve ďŹ sh than he realised


Greek cuisine has come an awful long way since the trusty kebab. At the time of writing this article, Athens boasted more Michelin-starred establishments than the Florida seaside playground of Miami, which is literally littered with celebrity cooks, TV chefs and fancy eateries. They don’t have one Michelin star amongst them. This is not the case in Athens, which has a healthy handful of celebrated restaurants and a growing core of pioneering chefs making culinary headlines. Few countries can boast such a vast range of fresh produce as Greece, and its chefs are making the best use of the country’s bounteous fish, meat and vegetables to create some incredible food. From a EUR 2 gyro to a dining at GB Roof Garden atop Hotel Grande Bretagne on eye-level with the Acropolis, I can honestly say that I’ve never had a bad meal in Athens. Everything from village dishes and street food to fine dining and high-end gastronomy is produced with love and served with pride by the Greek people, and this is evident in pretty much everything you’ll consume in the country’s capital. One of Greece’s most famous chefs, who has without doubt elevated the sophistication of Greek cuisine, far from what most people perceive to be stereotypical of the country's food, is Lefteris Lazarou. Widely considered to helm the finest seafood restaurant in Athens today, Lazarou was the first chef in Greece to prepare and serve fish in a fine dining style and introduce to the public lesser known and previously ignored types. As a result, Lazarou was the first chef in Greece serving Greek cuisine to receive a Michelin star, and he has held it ever since, for the past fifteen years. But absolutely fresh fish - literally just caught - is only the start of what is plated at Varoulko Seaside, Lazarou’s iconic fine dining seafood restaurant on the water’s edge of Mikrolimano Bay, butted up to fishing boats and yachts in the Athenian suburb of Piraeus. Lazarou was born in Piraeus. His grandfather was a fisherman and his father was a cook, so there existed a solid foundation for him to pick-up cooking skills and work with seafood in particular. In his own words, “you can't choose to be a good cook, cooking actually chooses you”, and since cooking came relatively easily to him, he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps. From the age of 12 until 34, for twenty-two years, Lazarou spent his time on boats as a cook. Travelling to many different countries and learning about their national cuisines, he also prepared Greek cuisine for people of different cultures on board, to suit their particular nutritional habits and tastes. He was only forced onto solid ground when he was badly burnt on

a boat. So traumatised was Lazarou, that he vowed to “work on a boat which didn’t move” from that moment on. So in 1986 his restaurant Varoulko was born, which saw Lazarou persevere with seafood, employ innovative techniques to prepare the meat he knew best, and serve fish which customers weren’t accustomed to finding in a Greek restaurant, including the once underrated monkfish. Using his imagination and drawing upon the many years he travelled the world as a galley cook, today Lazarou conjures up seafood dishes which are not only ingenious, exciting and exquisitely presented, but also bursting with flavours that are rich and elegantly complex yet delicious and utterly moreish. A dish which may look complicated is probably actually prepared using the simplest ingredients in a novel and unique way. Lazarou has a special knack for taking inexpensive raw materials and turning them into gastronomic delights. Our starters of shrimp tartare with cauliflower mousse (EUR 12) and small fried fish on thin slices of sourdough bread (EUR 13) weren’t made of expensive or fancy ingredients, but it was the way in which they were carefully prepared and intricately presented which elevated them to the extraordinary. The latter was served with a green pea cream and smoked eggplant mousse which were simply superb. Common-or-garden grilled squid took on a different persona when presented amongst fish roe, roasted lettuce and jellies made of ouzo (EUR 16). And my favourite dish of the meal, tuna in shiso wrapped in pastry leaves, was a veritable gastronomic tour de force, its tomato and soya sauce the perfect accompaniment (EUR 14). Such are the beauty of Varoulko’s dishes that it’s hard to believe, whilst feasting on such elegant fare, that you’re actually eating fish and everything has come from the sea. It’s always a good sign to see the chef walking around a restaurant and talking to his guests. Even after a very busy service, late on a Friday night, Lazarou did just that, greeting and chatting with diners, pausing to speak with most of them rather than just shaking hands. Lazarou is clearly one celebrity chef who has never lost sight of his roots. It’s this and Lazarou’s intense passion for fish which come through in every wonderfully creative dish that leaves Varoulko’s kitchen.

Varoulko is a nautical experience and I come from a nautical family Lefteris Lazarou www.varoulko.gr

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TASTE &SIP

NEWCOMER BLOCK BRIGHTON

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Oh, how we do like to be beside the seaside, especially if we’re stuck in sweltering London and one is desperate to escape the hot and sweaty city for some sea air. Assuming the trains are running on time, Brighton is just a 60-minute hop from Victoria station, rendering the South Coast resort a very London-by-the-sea appeal. Unpretentious, affordable and populated by a bohemian mix of hipsters, trendsetters, urbanites, fashionistas and creative types, Brighton has long had a reputation for offering something for everyone. Nowhere is this more evident than Brighton’s foodie scene, which offers a vast array of places to eat and drink within the city limits. Gone are the days of hot dog stands, second-rate curry houses and cheap Chinese. The Brighton of today boasts an increasingly sophisticated culinary culture that easily rivals that of the British capital in terms of quality and value for money. There are literally hundreds of pubs, bars, cafés and

restaurants offering everything from classic afternoon tea to traditional fish ‘n’ chips and Michelin-standard fare to precision gastronomy. These are supported by Sussex vineyards, artisan cheesemakers, traditional bakeries, local fisheries and organic butchers, making some of Brighton’s restaurants unique in terms of their high usage of quality organic and locally-sourced produce. Located just one road back from the seafront, St. James’s Street is busy, vibrant, slightly shabby and home to some of Brighton’s most colourful residents. Despite ongoing attempts to strip St. James’s of its unique character, the gateway to Kemptown remains a pleasingly alternative concoction of independent businesses and tightly knit locals, and wandering up the street genuinely encapsulates everything that is whimsical about Brighton. Don’t be surprised to encounter trannies, hippies, dandies, drunks, families having a day out and upwardly mobile city slickers Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 155


all in this one street. Whilst this may seem a little wild to a tourist, in the context of St. James’s it all makes perfect sense. This unique street is a veritable micro capsule of Brighton’s distinctive spirit as a whole, and right in the middle of it all is BLOCK. Behind BLOCK’s small, dark and unobtrusive shop front lies one of the city's hidden culinary and hospitality gems. The venue’s individual sense of style is evident throughout right from the get-go, from the quirky intimate indoor bar through to the delightful urban garden cum dining room out back, the latter coming alive at weekends when a DJ provides a sophisticated yet not in-your-face soundtrack. During the summer months, the best outdoor seats in the house are undoubtedly the deep tan leather couches which run half the length of one wall. In the middle of the garden,

these seats positively encourage diners to slip off their shoes and get comfy in readiness for the culinary treats to follow. Artisan flint walls married with vintage school chairs, granite-topped tables and black slate floors skilfully juxtaposed with faux grass covered walls, vertical teak partitioning, raised planters and sub-tropical botanicals create an oasis within the city which is welcoming, secluded and atmospheric. A scattering of palm trees completes the relaxed semi-Mediterranean feel. Staff are friendly and casually-dressed completely in tune with the altogether unpretentious setting. My first drink was served by Leroy, a pretty-faced 20-something sporting a large afro. His cheeky yet professional demeanour – as he poured me a FEW American small batch G&T – would make anyone feel at ease. Waiting our table in the garden was Ricky who was equally chirpy, affable and efficient. Whilst well-trained staff who exude character and charm are few


and far between in the 21st century hospitality industry, it seems that BLOCK has managed to bag a fair few of them. BLOCK’s USP is its British designed and built “Bertha” charcoal and wood-fired indoor oven, inspired by celebrated Spanish restaurant Asador Etxeberri, where chef Victor Arguinzoniz cooks literally everything over a grill. This concept has transposed rather beautifully from the Basque region of Spain to the British south coast. The blackened octopus starter (GBP 9) was succulent and tasty, and married with clams and a moules-style sauce might have made for a perfectly adequate main accompanied by breads to soak up the delicious broth. The scallops in half shell (GBP 8) were mouthfuls of gastronomic sex, and the ox cheek croquettes (GBP 7.50) enlightened me as to how hearty and flavoursome a diminutive breadcrumbed fried roll could taste. But it was in my 225g sirloin (GBP 16) that Bertha’s skills really manifested themselves. The meat was

tender, moist and mouth-wateringly good. OK, so at almost twenty quid when served with hand-cut chips (GBP 3.50) having a steak here is not exactly cheap, but the quality is standout, and coupled with a glass of Malbec (selected from a rather good wine list) would easily persuade me to forsake a linen tablecloth in a stuffy restaurant in favour of an al fresco afternoon in BLOCK’s enchanting garden. The chocolate brownie dessert (GBP 6) is an unmissable chocoholic’s wet dream finale. Don’t eat breakfast or skip lunch if you’re having dinner at BLOCK, because a visit to 101 St. James’s Street is essentially everything one’s taste buds desire from a South Coast culinary experience. I’m only sad I missed the Sunday roast which, by all accounts, is the best in Brighton. www.facebook.com/blockbrighton NICHOLAS CHRISOSTOMOU

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music & NIGHT LIFE

HARDWELL

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IMAGE BY REIN KOOYMAN

IN 2013, AGED JUST 25, ROBBERT VAN DE CORPUT - BETTER KNOWN BY HIS DJ MONIKER OF HARDWELL - BEAT FELLOW COUNTRYMAN ARMIN VAN BUUREN TO TOP DJ MAGAZINE'S ANNUAL TOP 100 DJ POLL. HARDWELL’S METEORIC RISE HAS CONTINUED ONWARDS AND UPWARDS EVER SINCE. YET THE EDM SUPERSTAR WHO ROUTINELY SELLS OUT STADIUMS, HAS 9 MILLION FACEBOOK FOLLOWERS AND WHOSE NAME IS CHANTED BY LEGIONS OF FANS AROUND THE WORLD, STILL HAS HIS FEET FIRMLY PLANTED ON TERRA FIRMA. THE CULTURED TRAVELLER INTERVIEWS THE YOUNG DUTCHMAN WHO SIGNED HIS FIRST RECORD DEAL JUST OUT OF PUBERTY AND HAS NEVER LOOKED BACK SINCE.


I was still at school, so kind of living a double life as an artist and a school kid, but my parents supported me and I was

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What is your first musical memory as a child and what kind of music was played in the van de Corput household? My earliest memory is of my parents playing James Brown music. It really stood out because it had this crazy funky vibe which, as a young kid, just had me hooked. Of course, growing up Michael Jackson was often played, and since my dad’s a big Elvis Presley fan a lot of The King’s music was played in the house. I grew up with a lot of funk in the house, music with plenty of groove and energy. Did young Robbert play any musical instruments? Before discovering I had a passion for dance music I played the drums and piano. I started playing the piano when I was just six years old, so you could say that I connected with music at a very young age. From what age did you know that you wanted to DJ and share your music with the masses? I was 13 when dance music really become an intrinsic part of my life. I played my first DJ show at that age and loved it. It’s a little crazy looking back and thinking how far that moment in my life has taken me. What convinced you to take up DJing professionally and what was your parents’ reaction when you told them? I saw a documentary when I was about 12 years old about Dutch dance music which spotlighted guys such as Armin van Buuren, Tiësto and Ferry Corsten. It blew me away and I was so inspired I wanted to learn more. My parents have always support my decision. As long as the DJing didn’t interfere with my school work they were happy. In fact, my dad used to accompany me to my early shows and they still come and support me today. Who inspired you in the early days? Growing up and because we both come from the same Dutch city (Breda), Tiësto was a big influence on me. Years later we became great friends and he mentored me in the early years. Surinamese DJ and producer Chuckie was another artist who offered guidance and support in the formative years of my career. As an emerging artist, it really helps to have supportive people around providing advice and guidance. This is one of the reasons I launched my record label, Revealed Recordings, to help new and emerging talent.


You were a teenager when you signed your first record deal in Holland at the age of 14. Did you entirely comprehend what was happening to you at that age? It was quite surreal because it was unheard of back then, but I was focused on making DJing my career. I was still at school, so kind of living a double life as an artist and a school kid, but my parents supported me and I was committed to managing and making both work. Completing my schooling was very important to me. How did you stay grounded being a signed professional DJ while still at school? I was and always have been into this for the love of the music. I don’t want to be a celebrity, so keeping my feet on the ground has always been important to me and why I surround myself with good people. What’s the story behind your DJing name of Hardwell? Hardwell is my surname in Latin and it was my dad’s choice. Tell us about your first experience of DJing in Ibiza? Back in 2010 Tiësto invited me to be a guest DJ at his massive “Club Life” party at Privilege. Privilege is a 10,000 capacity Ibithincan clubbing institution and the crowd that night was wild! I remember being really nervous because I was about to play the biggest club in the world, with one of the DJs I most respected in the world’s party capital, Ibiza. It was so absolutely crazy it felt like something out of a dream. In 2013 you achieved your lifelong dream of becoming the world's best DJ. How did it feel to be voted DJ Magazine’s youngest ever number 1? It was a very special moment for me because it had been a lifelong dream of mine to achieve this. At the age of 13 I even appeared on a TV show saying that I wanted to become the #1 DJ in the world, so to eventually be voted by fans as their #1 DJ was just incredible. In the same year “I Am Hardwell” was released, which charts your rise from an up-and-coming artist to an international superstar. How did the idea for this documentary come about? A lot was happening in my life at that time and I felt I wanted to capture it all on film. I’d long had the idea of


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doing a documentary, so when my management team and I discussed it some more it genuinely felt like the right thing to do. Obviously now I’m incredibly happy we did, because those years were crazy and it is amazing to be able to look back on them today and see, on the screen, how they unfolded. “I Am Hardwell” not only provides a captivating view of how your career skyrocketed, but also an insight into the growth of the dance music phenomenon. How did America really getting into dance music impact on the global industry and your career personally? Exactly. “I Am Hardwell” isn’t just about me but also the rise of electronic music. Watching how the scene changed during the nearly three years it took to make the documentary is impressive to watch. Having videographer Robin Piree join me on that journey and capture it all on film was cool, since I was sharing the experience with someone who saw it first hand and got to capture it for fans to see firsthand too. America is one of the countries that has been a big part of my career the past few years. I just love playing there. Cities like Miami for example, are incredible places to visit and DJ. In my view electronic music has shifted the entire music industry’s position in the last few years. We’ve gone global and the rest of the industry has looked to us for innovation. You have bucked the trend and shied away from working with big pop stars like so many other famous DJs have and still do. What’s your rationale behind this? My rationale behind any musical decision is purely based on whether I believe in it or not. I’m not really interested in making music to make it into the charts, but rather make music that fits my sound and my DJ sets. I’ve worked with some big-name musicians, like American singer-songwriter Jason Derulo and British singer-songwriter Craig David, so it’s not that I won’t work with big stars of pop music or other genres, I just need to believe in the project, that’s all. In 2014 you were voted the world’s number one DJ for a second time. Did that change anything for you? I had more of a chance to appreciate the win the second time around. It was another crazy period in my life but it was fun to do it all again but slightly differently. My schedule was incredibly grueling the first time I was


voted #1 DJ in the world, so I made sure to not put myself under so much pressure after that first year. Whilst you most often perform in stadiums these days, what's your favourite club in the world to play at and why? Because of all the incredible festivals we have today I think people sometimes forget that we’re blessed with many incredible clubs around the world. This is why I so love Ibiza. The island’s clubs are simply magical. Las Vegas also does an incredible job of putting clubs at the centre of all the action. Hakkasan at the MGM Grand and OMNIA at Caesars Palace are two breathtaking clubs. It’s hard to decide between them because they’re both so cool, but without question these venues are two of my favourite clubs on the planet and why I agreed to become a resident DJ at both. You’re no stranger to remixing, having remixed for the likes of Coldplay, Armin van Buuren, Tiësto and Bob Sinclar, amongst others. What’s your favourite Hardwell remix to date? I love remixing and anyone who has heard my sets will know I put a lot of effort into mashups and remixes. Getting a chance to remix artists such as Moby or bands like Coldplay is cool and as a fan of their music is something I truly enjoy doing. You are known for interacting on various social media platforms and even this interview was a dream to organise compared to most DJs at your level. Is staying in touch with your fans and being relatively accessible part of your ethos for staying at the top of your game? Social media has played a huge role in the growth of our scene. I started using it because I love people and having the chance to keep in touch with my fans via social media is something I really enjoy. I like the instant access and being able to connect with people from anywhere in the world at the touch of a button. These days you can’t really have a successful career with being connected via social media, or at least it would be very difficult to do. But for me it just feels natural because I’m a fan of Facebook, Twitter etc. You’ve been known to perform 150 show dates in a year on top of residencies and countless unplanned gigs. In January 2017 you celebrated six years and 300 episodes of "Hardwell On Air". How do you find Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 165


“NOT JUST A THEATRE VENUE AND MUCH MORE THAN A CLUB” Pop, Oriental, African, Indian, Latino, Russian, Rumba, Rock, RnB, Bel Canto, Ethno, Jazz, Flamenco, Reggae, Fusion, Gipsy... Jumeirah, Zabeel Saray, Dubai, UAE. +971 56 270 8670 / +971 4 447 6646 Starco Center, Omar Daouk Street, Downtown Beirut, Lebanon. + 961 1 371 236


time in your crazy schedule to still host a weekly radio show? It’s a lot of work but I still love doing it. My radio show is a chance for me to play out some of the music I don’t always get to include in my DJ sets. It’s amazing getting feedback from fans who don’t get to see me DJ but still tune in each week from all around the world. For them, like me, it’s a weekly opportunity to listen to music I really enjoy. Although I am the host and am heavily involved with the show, I have a team of guys who help me to run the show each week and ensure it reaches all the stations (we now have 150+ station partners) around the world. Your most memorable DJing moment? There have been so many, but ones that stand out including closing a sold-out Madison Square Garden in New York for the end of my first I Am Hardwell world tour. Another is being the first DJ to play a solo show at Hockenheim race circuit in Germany for the closing party of my second world tour with I Am Hardwell United We Are. Headquartered in your hometown of Breda in the Netherlands you set-up Revealed Recordings in 2010. What prompted you to establish your own record label and how involved are you in checking-out new DJing talent? Revealed is a home for my music but also a chance to promote new talent. We are constantly signing and supporting new artists and pushing music forwards. I am very involved in offering guidance to the label’s new artists and very hands-on with the running of the label week in week out. Revealed also runs many events around the world, has staged parties everyone from Ibiza to Miami, and hosted numerous festival arenas – from Creamfields to Electric Daisy Carnival – where new and established talent join me in the DJ line-up. In 2015 your hugely successful “World’s Biggest Guest List” concert at the D.Y. Patil Stadium in Mumbai, attended by an estimated 75,000 people, was the first ever charity event on such a mammoth scale to involve an electronic DJ. Thanks to your efforts educational aid is being provided to 20,000 underprivileged children aged 8 to 18. Please tell us more about your United We Are Foundation. The project was set up to help educate young children. I Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 167


wanted to use my position in electronic music to help bring about a social change to the lives of underprivileged children in communities around the world. We started out with an objective of raising enough money to school 3,000 kids from the slums of Mumbai, but support for the Foundation has been so incredible that we managed to raise enough money to educate more than 20,000 young children. Later this year on 3rd December we will return to Mumbai to host another “World’s biggest Guest List” event which will hopefully raise enough money to educate 100,000 underprivileged children. More info here foundation.djhardwell.com What have you been up to recently with your music? I just collaborated with US pop star Austin Mahone on a track called “Creatures Of The Night’ which has been a huge hit for me. It was premiered during my DJ set at Ultra Music Festival in Miami and has been really popular ever since. You crisscross the world non-stop all year round. How do you deal with the jet lag and do you have any in-flight tips? Keeping myself healthy is crucial so I make sure I eat well when I’m travelling. I try to keep fit and get enough rest. Drinking plenty of water is also vital because it’s important to stay hydrated at all times. What advice would you give to budding DJs and producers reading this interview? Believe in yourself and do what feels right for you. Persistence and self-belief are very important. Now you're at the top, what is next for Hardwell? Right now I am enjoying touring and being back in the studio. I took some time during the latter part of 2016 to play around with new ideas and sounds, so I have a lot of new music coming up which is all very exciting. I am also on the road a lot this summer with headline shows at festivals including EXIT, Alfa Future People, Sensation White, Breda Live, Ultra Europe, Airbeat One, Untold, Creamfields, plus energising sets in Ibiza at Ushuaïa, Amnesia and new club Hï Ibiza (formerly Space). Summer 2017 is going to be very busy and exciting!

www.djhardwell.com


I was still at school, so kind of living a double life as an artist and a school kid, but my parents supported me and I was

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752 GOURAUD STREET • SAIFI VILLAGE • BEIRUT • LEBANON • +961 76 99 76 76 • INFO@GILTBEIRUT.COM • WWW.GILTBEIRUT.COM


GLOBETROTTER

FIVE CENTURIES OF FASHION AT CHATSWORTH SPONSORED BY GUCCI AND SIX YEARS IN PLANNING, DAWN GIBSON WALKS THROUGH A UNIQUE EXHIBITION AT ONE OF ENGLAND’S MOST MAGNIFICENT COUNTRY ESTATES, WHICH SHOWCASES A SWATHE OF LEADING BRITISH AND INTERNATIONAL FASHION DESIGNERS

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CHATSWORTH HOUSE

FAMILY WEDDING DRESSES IN THE CHAPEL

CORONATION ROBE


When visiting a grand old house, have you ever found a quiet corner near a window and dreamed that you were among the gilded few to actually live there? That an opulent, silk canopied four poster-bed in an oak-panelled bedroom was yours alone, that you woke each day to look out over verdant landscaped gardens and trickling fountains, before dressing in a haute couture ensemble to descend gracefully down a majestic marble staircase and greet your guests? Such fantasies easily spring to mind at Chatsworth, the glorious honey-tinged palatial pile of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, and home to the Cavendish family for sixteen generations. Nestled in the tranquil Derbyshire Dales - in the heart of Britain’s Peak District National Park of moors, rolling hills, rivers and caverns - Chatsworth’s reputation as one of England’s most magnificent stately homes rests just as much on its fascinating and glamorous cast of characters (which is a veritable who’s who of fashionable society), as on its rich history dating back to the 16th century. Along with prime ministers and parliamentarians, empire builders and philanthropists, the house’s residents have included the formidable founder Bess of Hardwick, a four times married Countess who became the second most powerful woman in Elizabethan England after the Queen; and the 18th century trendsetter, political campaigner and socialite, Duchess Georgiana, the wife of the Fifth Duke of Devonshire. Georgiana’s scandalous love life and fetish for extraordinarily elaborate hats was captured on film in The Duchess, starring British actress Keira Knightley. Since the days of Georgiana, the house has been linked to famous friends, the stylish set and countless leading designers. Dancer and actress Adele Astaire, the dance partner and sister of Fred, added some American dash when she literally cartwheeled into Chatsworth in the 1930s. Engaged to marry Lord Charles Cavendish, she lightened the tone of the first meeting with her future in-laws by famously turning cartwheels as she entered the room, much to the delight of those present, and ensuring her place in the annals of family history. Another American who married into the family was Kathleen ‘Kick’ Kennedy, the sister of President JFK. Tragically, the marriage was to last just four months, as Kathleen’s husband, William, the son and heir of the 10th Duke, was killed in action in Belgium in 1944. More recently, Deborah ‘Debo’ Cavendish, the late mother of the current Duke, flew the flag for Chatsworth flair. A friend of Hubert de Givenchy (who made many of her clothes) she was also a muse to Oscar de la Renta, and was photographed in 1995 feeding the chickens in a dashing red Balmain dress. Debo’s granddaughter, model Stella Tennant, clearly inherited her Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 173


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style DNA. Tennant’s piercing stare and cut-glass cheekbones were a regular sight on the pages of French, British and Italian Vogue in the 1990s. Taking into account such a family history, it was really only a case of when, not if, Chatsworth would host an extravagant international fashion retrospective. Happily, for cultured travellers, that exhibition has recently come to fruition, as part of a three-year collaboration with Gucci that has also seen the design house shooting a new ad campaign in the estate’s Capability Brown-designed grounds. Taking six years to plan, ‘House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth’ is the most ambitious exhibition ever held at the house, featuring designs by the likes of Chanel, Dior, Tom Ford, Yves Saint Laurent, Balmain, Vivienne Westwood, Oscar de la Renta, Christopher Kane, and, of course, Gucci, all presented against the unique backdrop of the grand rooms of one of England’s most lavish stately homes. Whilst the cosmopolitan collection of couture worn by the succession of Cavendish ladies, including wedding and evening gowns, is fascinating enough, there is also a plethora of garments and accessories that give viewers an insight into the lives of those who wore them and their eras, including tiaras and headdresses, robes and livery, and ostentatious, bejewelled fancy dress costumes. Some items are imbued with the heady waft of history, while others are simply decorative or sentimental: there’s the 19th century red silk velvet and ermine robe that Deborah Devonshire wore to the present Queen’s coronation; a gold dog collar worn by a favourite family hound; a pic of Kick Kennedy looking effortlessly glamorous on her wedding day; and magazine covers featuring Tennant. The exhibition came about as a result of a family event: Lady Laura Burlington, former fashion editor and model, and daughter-in-law of the current Duke and Duchess, was searching the Chatsworth archives for a christening gown for her son, James. After exploring the treasure trove of clothing and textiles amassed over the centuries, she asked the Duke and Duchess if she could invite an expert to take a look. She called upon her friend Hamish Bowles, Editor-at-Large of American Vogue, who became curator of the exhibition, assisted by the creative direction and design skills of Patrick Kinmonth and Antonio Monfreda.

DRESSING FOR DINNER IN THE GREAT DINING ROOM

Among the highlights are two dresses designed personally by Gucci’s creative director Alessandro Michele for the Duchess of Devonshire and Lady Burlington. Michele - unabashedly smitten with the house’s allure - describes Chatsworth as “a piece of England, of Europe and the contemporary world, all at the same time.” He enthused “This exhibition proves how much historical objects are an incredible source of inspiration for creating the


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SOMETIMES, REALITY IS BETTER THAN IMAGINATION

reservation@chedimuscat.com chedimuscat.com


THE PAINTED HALL Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 177


present. Thus far the house has been speaking, now House Style gives a voice to the wardrobes of its inhabitants and guests.” The exhibition begins spectacularly in the Painted Hall, where a mannequin on a black and silver mirrored dais, clad in a punky black Alexander McQueen dress and dramatic gold Philip Treacy headdress, ushers in visitors, framed by an impressive collection of artwork. Visitors then wind their way through rooms over two floors, following the lure of ever more beautifully dressed figures. In one of the state rooms are six dresses worn to the ‘party of the century’, a costume ball held at Devonshire House to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897. These garments are the epitome of fancy dress for the elite, made of the finest silks and satins, beaded and embroidered, and painstakingly sewn by expert seamstresses for hours on end. Based on photographs, Derbyshire jewellers C W Sellors recreated the headdress worn by the 8th Duchess of Devonshire, Louise, completing the display of her elaborate costume. The finale of the exhibition is set in the great dining room, arranged for a formal dinner, with figures seated and milling around the lengthy table, some having retreated to the edges of the room as if to indulge in private conversations. The rich red walls and curved white and gold ceiling frame an alternative catwalk, a veritable peacocking of classic couture and avant-garde showstoppers in hot pink, deep violet, vivid blue, shocking yellow, with embellished jackets, elaborate florals and prints, silks and velvets all vying to be noticed. Stand-outs include a delightfully simple Vivienne Westwood evening gown in deep green silk, and a dove grey Burberry dress with a long skirt of ostrich feathers, both courtesy of Stella Tennant, who wore the Burberry number to New York’s Met Gala in 2014. Also stunning is a classically sharp tuxedo by Stefano Pilati for Yves Saint Laurent, and Deborah Devonshire’s pearly pink silk satin evening dress from Dior’s 1953 spring/summer collection. Drawing one’s eyes away from the visual feast is a hardship, since every glance yields another example of superb workmanship and delicate detail, of finery that whispers of glittering balls and candlelit suppers, famous faces and hushed conversations. It’s a master class in high fashion but also a story of people, place and time. Within this house of style, the apparel and the surroundings are forever interlinked in an ongoing narrative of family and dynasty, romance and marriage, birth and death. As Coco Chanel herself once said, whilst “fashion fades, only style remains the same.” House Style: Five Centuries of Fashion at Chatsworth until 22nd October 2017 at Chatsworth House www.chatsworth.org

178 The Cultured Traveller Aug-Sep 2017

DUCHESS LOUISE'S WORTH DRESS FROM THE DEVONSHIRE HO THAN 100 DRESSES SPANNING 500 YEARS OF HISTORY AT CHA


OUSE BALL_ ONE OF MORE ATSWORTH HOUSE STYLE

DRESS BY ALEXANDER MCQUEEN WORN BY THE DUKE'S NIECE STELLA TENNANT ON HER MODELLING DEBUT


A

D

AHILYA BY THE SEA www.ahilyabythesea.com

DA POKE SHACK www.dapokeshack.com

ANANTARA SIR BANI YAS ISLAND RESORTS www.sir-bani-yas-island.anantara.com

F

ANDBEYOND BENGUERRA ISLAND

FOUR SEASONS HOTEL AT THE SURF CLUB

www.andbeyond.com

www.fourseasons.com/surfside/

ANGELICA www.angelicamalta.com ATLANTA’S HIGH MUSEUM OF ART www.high.org

G

AVATON www.avaton.com

GREEN SAND BEACH HAWAII www.greensandbeachhawaii.com

B

GUNSHOW www.gunshowatl.com

BACCHUS www.bacchus.com.mt

GUZE BISTRO www.guzevalletta.com

BLOCK www.facebook.com/blockbrighton BORTEX www.bortexgroup.com

H ĦAL-SAFLIENI HYPOGEUM

C

www.heritagemalta.org

CAFE 100 www.cafe100.com

HARDWELL www.djhardwell.com

CAFÉ PESTO www.cafepesto.com

HAWAI'IAN STYLE CAFE www.hawaiianstylecafe.us

CAFFÉ CORDINA www.caffecordina.com

HELENA BAY www.helenabay.com

CAMILLERI & SONS

HOUSE STYLE: FIVE CENTURIES OF FASHION AT CHATSWORTH www.chatsworth.org

www.ccamilleriandsonsltd.com.mt CASA ROCCA PICCOLA www.casaroccapiccola.com CEKCIK www.cekcik.com.mt CENTENNIAL OLYMPIC PARK www.cfbhall.com CENTER FOR CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS www.civilandhumanrights.org CHABLÉ www.chableresort.com CHARLES GRECH www.charlesgrech.com CNN CENTRE http://tours.cnn.com/ COCO-MAT ECO RESIDENCES SERIFOS http://serifos.coco-mat-hotels.com/en

K KA'U COFFEE MILL www.kaucoffeemill.com

L LILI http://paris.peninsula.com LOEWS ATLANTA HOTEL www.loewshotels.com/atlanta

M MARQUIS DE VISSAC www.marquisdevissac.com


MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. CENTER www.thekingcenter.org

ST. REGIS ATLANTA www.stregisatlanta.com

MDINA GLASS www.mdinaglass.com.mt

STREAT WHISKY & BISTRO www.facebook.com/streatwhisky/

MDINA www.heritagemalta.org MICHAELS www.michaels.com.mt

T

N

THE BEEKMAN www.thebeekman.com

NATIONAL PARK SERVICE www.nps.gov/index.htm

THE GRANDMASTER’S PALACE www.heritagemalta.org

NEKUPE www.nekupe.com

THE KIMPTON SEAFIRE RESORT & SPA www.seafireresortandspa.com

O

THE NATIONAL WAR MUSEUM www.heritagemalta.org

OBEROI SUKHVILAS www.oberoihotels.com/hotels-in-chandigarh-sukhvilas-resort/ OCTOPUS BAR www.octopusbaratl.com

P PALAZZO CONSIGLIA www.palazzoconsiglia.com PAM ANN www.pamann.com PROVOCATEUR www.provocateur-hotel.com

THE PHOENICIA, MALTA www.phoeniciamalta.com TRABUXU WINE BAR www.trabuxu.com.mt TROPICAL SNORKELING www.tropicalsnorkeling.com/snorkeling-two-steps.html

U UNDERGROUND ATLANTA www.underground-atlanta.com UPPER BARRAKKA GARDENS www.heritagemalta.org

PUNALU'U BAKE SHOP www.bakeshophawaii.com

R

V VOLCANO HOUSE www.hawaiivolcanohouse.com

RAY’S IN THE CITY www.raysrestaurants.com

S SALTWOOD CHARCUTERIE & BAR

W WORLD OF COCA-COLA MUSEUM www.worldofcoca-cola.com

www.saltwoodatlanta.com SCOGLITTI www.facebook.com/ScoglittiMalta

Y

SHAKA www.shakarestaurant.com

YARD 32 GIN AND TAPAS BAR www.yard32.com

SIR JOAN www.sirhotels.com/joan SKYVIEW ATLANTA www.skyviewatlanta.com ST. JOHN’S CO-CATHEDRAL www.stjohnscocathedral.com

Aug-Sep 2017 The Cultured Traveller 181


The Cultured Traveller, August-September 2017 Issue 18  

Established since 2014 and published bimonthly, The Cultured Traveller globetrots through the worlds of travel, culture, music, fashion and...

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