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International pop icon GLORIA ESTEFAN has achieved pretty much everything in the music world, not least winning seven Grammys and selling more than 100 million albums. In a rare and exclusive in-depth interview, Nicholas Chrisostomou chats with the Dr Beat and Conga singer about making it big with Miami Sound Machine, 39 years of marriage to Emilio, her life-changing accident, and how it feels to watch her personal love story play out on stage.



KATHMANDU is one of the few capitals left in the world which is utterly authentic, but visiting is definitely not for the faint hearted or inexperienced traveller. One must actively seek out and scratch below the city’s surface to uncover its many riches. But investing time to truly explore the Nepalese capital, rewards adventurous travellers with intense spiritual and unique cultural experiences, combining centuries of fascinating history, deep religion and glorious traditions.



Southern Patagonia has long lured travellers by its spellbinding landscapes and storied peaks carved by age-old glaciers. Located on the eastern border of Chile's Torres del Paine National Park, celebrated Chilean architect Cazú Zegers’ visually stunning TIERRA PATAGONIA HOTEL & SPA makes an immediate and lasting impression, like a prehistoric animal fossil beached on the shore of a lake.



The Colombian capital is a veritable foodie playground, aplomb with a wide variety of restaurants spanning every price point and taste sensation. Nowhere is the country’s homegrown culinary talent more evident than MESA FRANCA, a social and intimate eatery that is taking the country’s food status to new gastronomic heights.



Creating unforgettable holiday experiences all over the world, luxury hospitality brand Anantara has two luxe resorts on the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka, and the winner of this incredible prize will get to spend three nights at each of them – ANANTARA PEACE HAVEN TANGALLE RESORT and ANANTARA KALUTARA RESORT – including half board for two guests, transfers, a 90-minute couples’ spa treatment and a bespoke dining experience.




Our Editor-in-Chief, Nicholas Chrisostomou, takes stock of three years of The Cultured Traveller.

10 CONTRIBUTORS 12 NEWSFLASH TCT rounds up the most notable events, festivals and happenings taking place in October and November 2017 around our colourful planet, including Thailand’s bizarre (and excruciatingly painful for some) VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL, the annual ALBA INTERNATIONAL WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR in Northern Italy, five-day chocfest SALON DU CHOCOLATE in Paris, India’s PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR, Mexico’s 3,000 year-old DÍA DE LOS MUERTOS, and swashbuckling PIRATES WEEK in the Cayman Islands.



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Our bimonthly selection of a dozen hospitality establishments worth checking into, includes luxury Austrian health retreat LANSERHOF LANS which recently underwent an eight-month US$ 26 million renovation, 49-room boutique music-themed ARIA HOTEL in the Hungarian capital of Prague, ONYADO CHIKURINTEI in the historic Japanese prefecture of Saga, and

VENTANA BIG SUR located on one of the world's most unforgettable stretches of coastline.

90 SUITE ENVY MANDARIN ORIENTAL, BODRUM is a sprawling, ultra-elite 67-hectare resort of luxe rooms, suites, apartments and villas, all of which are amongst the largest five-star lodgings on the peninsula. Nicholas Chrisostomou checks in to 145m2 of beautifully designed Mediterranean Suite bliss, complete with lush garden, private swimming pool and spectacular views across Paradise Bay.

102 BOARDING PASS High fashion isn’t exactly the first thing that springs to mind when you step onto a plane and are greeted by the cabin crew. But for every dowdy uniform on-board today's airlines, there’s an incredibly rich history of stylish designer airline threads that stretches back to the golden age of aviation. The Cultured Traveller team charts the HISTORY OF GLAMOUR IN THE SKY, from 1930 to the present day.

114 NO SHOES REQUIRED Blessed with 300 days of sun every year, together with warm temperatures that stretch from spring




134 ‘til mid-October, Mallorca has something for everyone, and hence has been one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations for decades. Alex Benasuli takes a jaunt to the beautiful Balearic island for a helping of end of season Spanish sun at classic full-service deluxe resort, ST. REGIS MARDAVALL.

124 SPOTLIGHT In the heart of the world’s most fashionable city, THE PENINSULA PARIS is a magnificently restored neo-classical palace with walls that could tell a thousand tales – of Proust and Picasso, war heroes and villains, international peace treaties and romantic rendezvous. Dawn Gibson finds out how the Grande Dame of La Belle Époque is setting new standards for top-tier hospitality luxury.

134 TRAVELLER LOWDOWN Few people realise when they land in Bahrain that they have actually touched down in the country’s capital, MANAMA, a city so influenced by the Portuguese and Persians that it’s overflowing with must-see sites. Dilraz Kunnummal gives us her insider guide to the bustling Gulf metropolis, which is as renowned throughout the region for its vibrant nightlife scene as it is for its Middle Eastern authenticity.


156 TASTE & SIP INTERVIEW Renowned chef and restaurateur RICHARD SANDOVAL has mastered modern and coastal Mexican, Latin-Asian, Peruvian and Pan-Latin cuisines, and is the hands-on operator of more than forty restaurants around the world, stretching out from his Denver base. The Cultured Traveller chats with the Latin gastronomic powerhouse on the eve of opening new outlets in Abu Dhabi and Aspen.

168 TASTE & SIP NEWCOMER Ashlee Starratt feasts on Southern Californian cuisine in the heart of the Middle East, at Doha’s colourful new culinary tour-de-force SANTA MONICA BREAKFAST CLUB.


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Only in one exclusive London district will you find high fashion and designer stores side-by-side with private members clubs, a jeweller to the stars, a butcher and the Queen of England’s gun and rifle maker! Dawn Gibson and Nicholas Chrisostomou take a stroll through upmarket MAYFAIR, which is still a refreshingly eccentric British blend of old and new.


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t was a toss-up whether to feature on the cover of this, our third birthday edition, Latin pop queen Gloria Estefan against a dreamy Miami backdrop – or the Nepalese gent casually smoking a cigarette in his little shop, who smiled for me while in Kathmandu this summer. I was buying Gloria’s music in my teens, when records were only made of vinyl and came in two sizes. Little did I know back then that such a global music icon would speak to me, decades later, about her incredible life story. She may have won seven Grammys and sold more than 100 million albums, but Gloria's story is also one of struggle, pain, tears, and, most of all, overcoming the seemingly impossible – which in her case was breaking her back in a terrible accident 25 years ago. Kathmandu was one of the most demanding yet rewarding press trips I’ve experienced to date. Must-see sights, eateries

and venues were not delivered on a platter as they so often are. On the contrary, a considerable amount of research, time and genuine graft went into this issue’s City Focus article, which necessitated me spending a week in the capital of Nepal, quite literally scraping away layers of dirt to reveal the city’s beautiful underbelly. Since we’re not Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone, Gloria got bumped from the cover by the gentleman you see now. But their stories send the same message – that where there’s a will there’s a way. Gloria miraculously walked and performed again after her paralysing accident. The Nepalese shopkeeper somehow survived the devastating Gorkha earthquake of two years ago and lived to smile for another annoying tourist. In 2014 The Cultured Traveller was but an idea I dreamt up on a small beach in Cyprus. Somewhat bored by glossy holiday magazines full of irrelevant advertising and paid editorial, I was sure I could create something more slick, light-hearted and easy to absorb, without bombarding readers with clothing and jewellery ads in a travel publication. Three years later here we are – going strong and every day getting a little better at what we do. I thank all of you, our readers, for the opportunity to meet the Gloria Estefans and Nepalese shopkeepers of this incredible planet we live on, and hope that you continue to enjoy reading The Cultured Traveller as much as we enjoy working on delivering it to you.

Nicholas Chrisostomou Editor-in-Chief



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.


NO SHOES REQUIRED 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.


Born and raised in Cali, Colombia’s salsa capital, Katherine Araujo had the good fortune of growing up with a close affinity to Colombian cuisine thanks to her mother, and inherited delicious traditional recipes from her grandma. Araujo studied cooking and hospitality management in Argentina and Switzerland and likes nothing more than seeing the world and eating great food. Today, she co-publishes the only restaurant guide in Colombia, travels the country researching and selecting the best establishments for the handbook, and steers foodies to the hottest eateries throughout Colombia.


TASTE & SIP NEWCOMER Ashlee Starratt is a Canadian editor and journalist based out of Doha, Qatar. With a passion for story-telling, if it’s lifestyle, wellness, travel or food, she’s probably written about it. With a background in print media and television across Canada and the Middle East, Ashlee has worked as Editorial Director for Qatar Happening and ABODE magazines, as a reporter, videographer and host for, and as a producer for Pink Dog Productions out of Halifax, Nova Scotia. She can be found on her travels, collecting stamps in her passport, in search of stories that need to be told.

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A luxurious living room your urban retreat in the heart of Berlin

Nestled in the lush greens of Tiergarten Park with main shopping, art & entertainment hot spots being a stone-throw away, Das Stue welcomes you home with contemporary design, a striking art collection, private entrance to Berlin Zoo and starred cuisine, all housed in the historic setting of the former Royal Danish embassy. For reservations call us at +49 30 311 722 0 or email us at

BFI LONDON FILM FESTIVAL UK Featuring 243 films hailing from 67 countries, screened in 15 cinemas over twelve days just about sums up the 61st annual BFI London Film Festival, which showcases original movies by both world-renowned and emerging filmmakers. This year’s opening night gala, Breathe, is a moving true story of courage under profound difficulties, courtesy of first-time director and acclaimed British actor Andy Serkis. Also not to be missed, is the American Express Gala, Battle of The Sexes, about the legendary 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King (played by Emma Stone) and Bobby

VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL THAILAND Legend has it that a wandering Chinese opera company fell ill with Malaria while performing in Phuket, and, in order to beat the disease, adopted a strict vegetarian diet, prayed intensely for

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purification of their bodies and minds and somehow cured themselves. Having made a miraculous recovery, the group celebrated by originating an annual festival to honour the gods. Attended by thousands, today Phuket’s vegetarian festival celebrates a belief that abstinence from meat during the ninth month of the Asian lunar calendar will bring about good health and peace of mind. However, what the festival is really famous for, is the ritualised mutilation devotees subject themselves to in order to prove their devotion and venerate their gods and ancestors. Whilst most use skewers to pierce both cheeks and thread objects through the holes, for some the festival seems to be an opportunity to see who can have the most bizarre objects sticking out of their faces. 1-9 October 2017

Riggs played by Steve Carell. This playful true story of the 1970s gender wars - played out on the tennis court while the world watched - makes for a rousing and funny film. For priority London Film Festival booking, join the BFI from just GBP 35 for a full year’s membership. 4-15 October 2017

CAFE BUDAPEST CONTEMPORARY ARTS FESTIVAL HUNGARY The 26th incarnation of Hungary’s CAFe Budapest offers more than one hundred programs at over forty venues across the city - including the city’s enormous cultural complex, Művészetek Palotája - with many offering free entry. Spanning seventeen days, besides the work of Hungarian-born composer Béla Bartók, the other focuses of this year’s festival will be Israel and Jewish art and artists. The festival program always covers an incredibly wide spectrum and showcases a range of musical genres and performance art, from classical music to theatre premieres, popular music and jazz, to dance and visual art, as well as providing a platform for contemporary dance, circus acts, fine arts, design and photography. For 2017, CAFe Budapest affiliated events will again include the Budapest Ritmo world music festival, the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Central Europe, the Art Market Budapest, and the Autumn Margin Literary Festival and Book Fair. 6-22 October 2017

AUSTIN CITY LIMITS MUSIC FESTIVAL USA Held annually at Zilker Park in the south of Austin - a beautiful recreational area of more than 350 acres at the juncture of Barton Creek and the Colorado River - ACL Fest was founded more than 15 years ago and spans two consecutive three-day weekends. Boasting eight stages filled with musical groups from a variety of genres, including rock, indie, country, folk, electronic and hip hop, in addition to the numerous live performances, the festival showcases local foods, art and crafts. The 2017 line-up includes Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Martin Garrix, The Killers, Gorillaz and Solange. If you want to see even more, keep the party going at one of the many official ACL late

night shows at some of the city’s best venues. From Stubb’s to Emo’s Austin and The Historic Scoot Inn, a variety of the city’s legendary venues will host some wicked late-night parties. 6-8 + 13-15 October 2017

ALBA INTERNATIONAL WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR ITALY Real Italian food oozes intense flavours and unique aromas cultivated for generations. To coincide with the late autumn harvest period of the tartufo bianco, the pretty town of Alba, nestled in the Piedmont region of northern Italy about an hour by car from Turin, hosts its annual international white truffle fair. From early October to late November, Alba plays host to international chefs, gastronomy buffs, oenophiles and travelling foodies all seeking to indulge in the decadent, aromatic and wildly exclusive white truffles. Cleaned, meticulously preserved and shaved sparingly over pasta, risotto, grilled vegetables and just about everything else, the addition of truffles elevates Italian cuisine to new

gastronomic heights. Known as the town of one hundred medieval towers, Alba’s original centre is beautifully preserved, so when not feasting on the Italian foods, simply strolling its streets with a gelato in hand is one of life's great pleasures. 7 October - 26 November 2017

ALBUQUERQUE INTERNATIONAL BALLOON FIESTA USA Now in its 46th year, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta brings together pilots, crews and hot air and gas ballooning enthusiasts from more than fifty countries and routinely draws a crowd of more than 100,000. With a multitude of brightly coloured balloons regularly taking flight, the fiesta is an incredible week-long visual spectacle. Mass morning ascensions (when many hundreds of balloons lift off into the morning sky), are only given the green light after a dawn patrol carefully examines the weather conditions. Held on weekend mornings plus one day mid-week, the sight of hundreds of balloons

rising together as dawn breaks over the Sandia Mountains, is as breathtaking for first-time visitors as it continues to be for veteran attendees. On Saturdays and Sundays the nightly laser light and “AfterGlow” firework shows bring the days’ proceedings to a fittingly spectacular close. 7-15 October 2017



India’s b celebrat referred to as The F is an ancient five-d physical and spiritu celebrated on the 1 Hindu month of Ka victory of light over over despair and th Sixth Guru. Guru H

freed from impriso Mughal Emperor Ja same time he man 52 political prisone Fort. Hence Diwali much annual rever cheer. An importan India, participants before the festival with friends and fa food and exchangi are festooned with and at night, candl torches and firewo providing a spectac light that symbolis of inner light and t good over evil. 19 October 2017


biggest annual tion - commonly Festival of Lights day festival of ual light, 15th day of the artika, marking the r darkness, hope he freedom of the argobind Ji was

nment in 1619 by ahangir, and at the aged to release ers from Gwalior is the cause for rence and good nt tradition in clean their homes and celebrate amily by sharing ng gifts. Houses electric lights, les, lamps, rks are lit, cular display of es the awareness he triumph of

VOODOO MUSIC + ARTS EXPERIENCE USA The Voodoo Music + Arts Experience started out small and has, over time, exploded into a mega-event spanning several

days and drawing some massive music industry names. Over the course of its 18-year history, this weekend festival - whose motto is “worship the music” - has hosted thousands of artists and legions of fans from all over the world, attracting mystics, madmen, femme fatales, gods, goddesses and music lovers of all kinds under one collective consciousness. Across the festival grounds of New Orleans’ City Park, Voodoo hosts interactive and immersive large-scale art installations, the Brew Dat Beer Hall, a handcrafted shopping experience at the Market Place, and more. This year’s festival is headlined by Foo Fighters, Kendrick Lamar, The Killers and LCD Soundsystem. VIP and platinum packages offer prime viewing spots and respite from the crowds in comfy lounges with private facilities. 27-29 October 2017

BRISBANE GOOD FOOD SHOW AUSTRALIA The capital of Queensland is a large, modern metropolis brimming with entrepreneurial zeal, cosmopolitan young people, bohemian nightclubs and world-class restaurants, so it’s little surprise that Brisbane hosts one of the country’s top food and wine shows. Celebrating regionally sourced and locally-produced foods and wines, and showcasing artisan and home-grown produce from within the state and across Australia, Brisbane’s Good Food Show offers everything from master classes hosted by leading chefs Matt Moran, George Calombaris, Adam Liaw, Paul West and Miguel Maestre, to “The Smelly Cheese Project” presided over by a resident cheese expert taking visitors on a cheese appreciation journey that provides a complete sensory experience, and even a live Good Food Theatre stage to learn the hints of the best interstate chefs. For a more exclusive experience, buy a ticket for the Cape Mentelle VIP Lounge and sip unlimited vino from the Margaret River wine region in West Australia. 27-29 October 2017

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SALON DU CHOCOLAT FRANCE Dubbed the world's largest event dedicated to chocolate innovations and cocoa expressions, Salon Du Chocolat is a unique happening revered by chocolate aficionados the world over. Now in its 23rd year, the decadent annual chocfest is held in the heart of the French capital at the Porte de Versailles Exhibition Center, which provides tons of space to host hundreds of international chocolatiers. Visitors have a unique opportunity to discover and taste chocolate products not found anywhere else, courtesy of more than 500 chocolatiers and confectioners hailing from 60 countries on 5 continents, including more than 200 of the world’s greatest pastry chefs and cocoa experts. The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly

The Chocolate Fashion Show (on 27th October), when 15 duos of chocolatiers and fashion designers showcase an incredible collection of couture outfits made entirely out of chocolate. New for 2017, The Japan Area will showcase to groups of 30, unusual combinations of Japanese culinary staples married with chocolate. 28 October - 1 November 2017

PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR INDIA The somewhat sleepy lakeside Indian town of Pushkar, bordering the Thar Desert in the northeastern state of Rajasthan, springs to life every year for a unique and incredibly colourful camel pageant, which coincides with the religious festival of Kartik Purnima which sees thousands of devotees bathe in Pushkar Lake on the last day. Close to 50,000 camels are trimmed, coiffured and decorated in order to be entered into beauty contests and raced. Adorned with silver bells and bangles around their hoofs, and embellished with all manner of vibrant adornments, they are paraded past the golden sand dunes to an excited crowd and intense judging. Aside from the thousands of camels also traded

during the course of the fair, other livestock are haggled over, bought and sold, as well as local textiles, arts and crafts, saddles, jewellery and a variety of camel finery and embellishments. 28 October - 4 November 2017



USA th

New York City’s 44 annual Village Halloween Parade is billed as “The nation’s most wildly creative public participatory event in the greatest city in the world!” This vast and vibrant event sees more than 50,000 costumed party goers, attired in ghoulish fancy dress, line-up at 6th Avenue at Canal Street to set off on a mammoth parade, together with hundreds of puppets, bands of varying musical styles, dancers, circus

performers and floats. Founded in 1974 by mask-maker and puppeteer Ralph Lee, this massive public participatory gathering attracts millions of spectators and embodies a different theme each year, this year’s being “Cabinet of Curiosities: An Imaginary Menagerie”. Master puppeteers Alex Kahn and Sophia Michahelles, together with their posse of official parade puppeteers, will lead the way with a bestiary of flamboyant and fantastic hybrids, closely followed by members of the Manhattan public sporting their own multi-coloured creations. 31 October 2017

Tracing to the pre-Columbian era, at the beginning of every November in the city of Oaxaca (approximately 280 miles southeast of Mexico City), 3,000-year old Día de los Muertos is celebrated for three days, during which the dead are honoured and their souls welcomed home as a blessing. During this annual festival, images abound of the iconic, animated skeletons called calaveras, invented by 19th century printmaker Jose Guadalupe Posada, and popularised by artist Diego Rivera. October 31st is prep day, when the women clean the house and prepare food while the guys build clay altars. November 1st is dedicated to children and infants - Día de los Angelitios (Day of the Little Angels). The main event on 2nd November - Día de los Muertos - is usually an adult affair, with bigger and more elaborate costumes, more complex rituals, spicier foods and lots of tequila. 31 October - 2 November 2017

PIRATES WEEK CAYMAN ISLANDS If you enjoy the revelry of swashbucklers combined with a western Caribbean climate complete with beach resorts, varied scuba diving and multitude of snorkelling sites, Pirates Week is undoubtedly the best time to be in the Caymans. Every November, pirates run amok throughout the islands in this family-friendly festival that brings to life the famous Pirates of the Caribbean, complete with simulated pirate invasions, parties

and fancy dressed revellers at the end of every gangplank. Whilst festivities take place on Cayman Brac (3-5 Nov) and Little Cayman (7-19 Nov), the main event happens on Grand Cayman (9-13) where five fun filled days will mark Pirates Week’s 40th anniversary. Whilst Heritage Days on each island will bring together each district in one place, for 2017 spectators will also enjoy a series of parades and fireworks displays, street dances, costume contests, sporting competitions, happy hours and music stretching across all three islands. 3-19 November 2017

FICKSBURG CHERRY FESTIVAL SOUTH AFRICA On the edge of the mountain kingdom of Lesotho, in the foothills of South Africa’s Maluti Mountains, is the unassuming town of Ficksburg. Surrounded by undulating hills and set against a spectacular mountain backdrop, unsurprisingly Ficksburg is a popular destination for holidaymakers touring the rainbow nation. But what makes Ficksburg stand out even more, is that it is apparently the “Cherry Capital of the

HIGANTES FESTIVAL PHILIPPINES Arguably the arts capital of the Philippines, Angono in Rizal has continuously attracted art lovers from across the nation, not to mention globally. Originally scheduled to coincide with the festival of Pope St. Clement, the town comes alive every year during Higantes, when towering 5 or 6-metre tall papier-mâché giants - designed to express a person’s character or a unique idea and painted in vibrant colours - parade through the streets much to the joy of vivacious crowds. According to the locals, this practice began when locals in Angono created a dummy to portray a mean landlord who was best recognized by his foul mannerisms and imposing height. For tourists visiting Angono, a detour to the Blanco Family museum gives an insight to the

origins of this fascinating festival, including a large collection of giant higantes fashioned by renowned higante designer Argana Tori. 22-23 November 2017


World”. To reinforce this title, every year the town hosts a three-day cherry extravaganza, which also happens to be the longest running crop festival in South Africa, dating back to 1968. Whilst fifty years ago the main events were street parades, a “Cherry Ball” and the crowning of the "Cherry Queen”, in 2017 attendees will experience very different activities. These include wine and chocolate pairings, which, as you can imagine given the country’s superb wines, are very popular indeed. 16-18 November 2017 18 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

About 150km north of Bangkok in central Thailand’s provincial capital of Lopburi, around the same time as the Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, the last Sunday of November is reserved for the Lopburi Monkey Banquet. In this part of the world, countless monkeys have adapted to life in an urban environment and become an inherent part of the local culture. Despite their pick-pocketing tendencies and unpredictable attitudes, these fellow primates have free reign of the metropolis and are welcome to enter public buildings and traverse roads just like any other citizen. And once a year, the world’s wildest dinner party is held in honour of the city’s macaques monkeys, at

Prang Sam Yot, a historic Khmer temple. As you can imagine, the sight of some three thousand macaques tucking into a lavish feast - which includes tons of fresh produce, rice, ice cream and other tasty monkey treats - is quite a spectacle. 25-26 November 2017






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PATAGONIA, CHILE TIERRA PATAGONIA HOTEL & SPA Stretching across Chile and Argentina, Southern Patagonia is chiefly a land of vast, desolate steppes, and has long lured travellers by its spellbinding landscapes and storied peaks carved by age-old glaciers. In the countries’ numerous national parks, snow-capped mountains, cobalt fjords and old-growth forests lend the region an inimitable almost-the-end-of-the-world feel. At the southernmost tip of the Americas, high precipitation and cold air combine to create huge glaciers that spill into numerous fjords, whilst icebergs rupture with dramatic roars from ancient, massive glaciers. Located on the eastern border of Chile's Torres del Paine National Park, celebrated Chilean architect Cazú Zegers’ visually stunning Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa makes an immediate and lasting impression, like a prehistoric animal fossil beached on the shore of the lake. The shape of the building was dictated by the wind, a prominent natural element which is characteristic of the area, and its form seeks to join the metaphysical landscape of the location to the structure. Meanwhile the hotel (lest we forget that it is actually a hotel, rather than a massive art installation) is anchored to the ground with stone embankments and entirely covered with panelling of washed lenga – a native wood which grows in Tierra del Fuego, one of the most southern places on earth – in order to achieve the silver colouration common of water-corroded timber.

Inside, the remarkable building is dominated by immense floor-to-ceiling windows, which proffer extraordinary views across Lago Sarmiento towards the breathtaking granite monoliths of the Cordillera del Paine mountains. It is impossible not to be impressed by the dramatic surrounding Patagonian landscapes the hotel looks out upon. Throughout the building, the playful interplay of wood ceilings, walls constructed from timber boards of differing lengths, and floorboards laid at angles give the overall design an utterly unique feeling of energy and flow. Whilst the hotel’s great room seamlessly unites a sitting area, bar, dining space and inviting fireplace, the forty guest rooms (including three duplex suites) display largely the same aesthetic but are appointed with simple but smart furnishings that impart an intimate elegance to their interiors. Bathrooms are well lit by natural light, and offer more dramatic views alongside walk-in showers and deep tubs. Days are spent hiking to spectacular mountain vistas (mostly led by Chilean guides) and returning for a swim or a massage in the spa, and ended with a superb meal accompanied by Chilean wines as the sun sets on the rocky pinnacles in the distance.

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BUDAPEST, HUNGARY ARIA HOTEL Straddling the wide river Danube, which separates hilly Buda from level Pest, the Hungarian capital today offers one of the most striking metropolitan panoramas in Europe. Long hidden behind the Iron Curtain, in recent years Budapest has rightfully regained its reputation as one of the most vibrant capitals of central Europe, not least for its ability to both embrace and champion the past, present and future. Indeed, old frequently meets new during Budapest's renowned “spa parties”, held in the city’s famed thermal baths. Meanwhile fine cuisine, buzzing cafés, happening nightlife, rich heritage and striking turn-of-the-century buildings juxtaposed with contemporary modern-day architecture fill the city from corner to corner. But, most of all, Budapest is a metropolis of music. From the classics of Bartók and Kodály to the contemporary fusion of folk, klezmer, jazz and gypsy sounds, the Hungarian capital is positively alive with the sound of music. Opened in 2015 in the footsteps of its sister property in Prague, the 49-room Aria Hotel is quite literally a music-themed property. Whether you’re a music fanatic or simply a connoisseur of boutique city centre hotels, staying at Aria Hotel is one of the funkiest places to rest your head in the Hungarian capital, and its unbeatable location will put you within easy walking distance of the opera house, parliament building and Széchenyi Chain Bridge. Housed within a neoclassical former bank which dates back to the 1880s (note the original spiral staircase), and the brainchild of Henry Kallan, president of New York-based Library Hotel Collection, highlights include quite possibly one of the coolest rooftop bars in the city, boasting killer views of the domes of St. Stephen’s Basilica, pictured. There are also an enticing subterranean spa and swimming pool, and a soaring garden courtyard cum lobby, of which the centrepiece is a space-age piano, designed by the famed Hungarian pianist Gergely Bogányi and one of only two such instruments in the world. Bedrooms are spacious, modern, elegant, relatively unfussy and split into four wings, each representing a different musical genre. Cream and blue dominate the lodgings in the classical wing, whilst contemporary rooms are much bolder and brighter. All sport lots of marble and are enlivened by striking ornaments. Our favourite is the 66m² Romeo & Juliet suite, with a king bedded room, separate lounge and access to a spacious semi-private balcony overlooking the charming cobblestone street the hotel is situated on.

HỘI AN, VIETNAM ATLAS HOTEL An exceptionally well-preserved example of a typical Southeast Asian trading port, dating from the 15th - 19th centuries, the ancient town of Hội An is an enticing destination to spend two or three days, with its lazy river lined with mustard-coloured merchants’ houses, and soft sandy beaches a few kilometres away. Since cars and even motorbikes are banned from the centre of Hội An, and the bicycle is king, the sprawling old town may be a little touristy, but its atmosphere verges on dreamy and it can absorb a number of visitors without losing its relatively authentic Vietnamese feel. Hội An largely owes its charmingly well-preserved state to the silting-up of the Thu Bồn river in the 19th century. Whilst this put an end to the town's importance as a trading post, it helped it to escape modern development and US bombing, the cumulative result of which is what travellers enjoy today. But, in recent years, not least since it was officially recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, the heart of the Old Town has grown a little too rapidly to capitalise on the burgeoning tourism industry, and sadly many of its ancient houses have been converted into shops and restaurants. The neighbourhood once well known for its beautiful tiled roofs and internal courtyards – which provided a layered, spatial quality between inner

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and outer spaces – has slowly been eroded. Some would argue that the Old Town has lost a great deal of its original charm, calmness and peaceful way of life. Positioned on an irregular plot of land which its designers have used to give the 48-room property a unique character, building Atlas hotel above the site completely freed-up the ground floor to create an inter-connected network of internal courtyards. Whilst this spatial quality reflects the dynamism of the new linear Hội An, it also nods to the charm of the Old Town and has been constructed so as not to further diminish the town’s original feel. And by installing more than 100 cantilevering concrete planters, lush greenery tumbles from all of the façades’ sandstone balconies, as well as along the hotel’s narrow corridors and rooftop. The overall effect is a unique place to rest your head which gently yet effectively reconnects guests with nature, whilst offering all the modern-day amenities a 21st century city break vacationer demands, including a restaurant, healthcare centre and spa, gym and swimming pool.

SAN JOSÉ DEL CABO, MEXICO LAS VENTANAS AL PARAÍSO A destination full of tremendous contrasts, from seas to deserts and mountains to lush countryside, Los Cabos is also known as “Land’s End” for being situated at the tip of the Baja Peninsula, where the Pacific Ocean meets the Sea of Cortez. There is literally something here for every type of holidaymaker, including unparalleled natural beauty, biodiversity and a range of amenities to appeal to all personalities. Consisting primarily of two towns – San José del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas – linked by a 20-mile corridor lined with world-class resorts, championship golf courses and luxury hotels, to many travellers in the know, San José del Cabo is the less energetic and slightly more sophisticated twin sister of Cabo San Lucas. Whilst Cabo San Lucas is the party-loving Mexican wild child, her more sensible and elegant sibling, San José del Cabo, with art galleries, colourful homes, delightful Plaza Mijares and charming shops, dotted throughout with beautiful jacaranda trees, is the chosen locale for discerning holidaymakers dining at some of the best restaurants in the region. In between Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, deluxe 83-room Rosewood resort property, Las Ventanas Al Paraíso, occupies a generous swathe of oceanfront land, a vast proportion of which is dedicated to the art of pampering its lucky guests. There is no reception at Las Ventanas. Instead, your affable personal butler greets you on arrival with a margarita, your bags disappear and your vacation is underway. A meandering network of terraces, suites, pools, eateries and bars, combined with such intense attention to detail the like of which most will never have experienced before, make this Mexican-cum-Mediterranean resort one of the most exquisite locations on the Pacific. Furnished with the works of local artisans, from tapestries and murals to hand-carved cedar doors and terracotta fireplaces, every inch of Las Ventanas connects the property with its surroundings and local culture, everything skilfully evoking the essence of Mexico’s Baja region. Dishes at the Sea Grill are served raw or cooked using a wood-burning grill or oven. The incredible spa has a hydro-thermal system. The service is attentive in a way that only a mind-reader could possibly provide. In short, Las Ventanas is a dream Mexican vacation destination.

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As temperatures drop the summer haze clears and immaculate blue sky days followed by crystal clear nights awash with the brightest stars. Take advantage of the perfect winter climate and make luxuriously spacious suites your home from which to explore the beautiful and fascinating areas in Oman. Conquer the region’s highest and most exhilarating via ferrata, hike through abounded mountain villages or simply unwind in the elegant haven of Spa Alila and indulge in culinary experience which embraces the best of Omani and international cuisine.




The Greek capital is a city where ancient history lies side by side with modern society, fashion, culture, food, art and music. At every turn, ancient ruins form part of Athens’ unique urban landscape. Whether dining atop the iconic Hotel Grande Bretagne on eye level with the Acropolis, or looking at ruins of the partially excavated ancient city adjacent to a modern built-up area, Athens is awash with culture and history. Plaka is like a village within the city, located in the shadow of the Acropolis, and exudes a somewhat cutesy island feel for those who don't have the time to visit the stunning Greek Islands. AthensWas is located on the edge of Plaka, on cobbled pedestrianised Dionysiou Areopagitou, lined by plane trees and just two blocks from the Acropolis Museum. Part of the so-called “archaeological promenade” which leads from the Temple of Olympian Zeus to the Acropolis, the hotel is in the perfect location for those who enjoy the hustle and bustle of this characterful part of the city, and are happy to revel in its lively nightlife and vibrant restaurants before retiring to relative calmness. Having apparently taken its main cue from the urban landscape that surrounds it, the hotel’s decor is slick, contemporary and unpretentious, with a touch of classical modernism. There are nods to Greece’s heritage throughout the property by way of a permanent exhibition featuring photographs from the nearby archaeological museum. Lovers of 20th century designer furniture are also catered for in the marble and walnut interior which showcases retro-chic furniture by Modernists such as Le Corbusier and Eileen Gray. All 21 rooms and suites have balconies, large comfy beds (with pillow menus), a desk area and a designer armchair to collapse into after a busy day of sightseeing. Bathrooms stocked with Korres toiletries are spacious and marble-lined with big walk-in showers. Super Deluxe rooms have Acropolis views. The best accommodation in the building, the 110m² Hellenic Grande Suite, occupies the hotel’s entire 6th floor, and comprises two bedrooms and three bathrooms, plus a large veranda furnished with sofas and dining table for al fresco soirées in the shadow of the dramatically illuminated Acropolis by night.

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VENTANA BIG SUR When the winter storms caused a landslide in the Big Sur Valley, seriously damaging the Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and forcing the closure of Highway One, things came to a grinding halt in Big Sur, one of the world's most unforgettable stretches of coastline. And when most travellers were prevented from visiting this treasured 90-mile stretch of redwood and fog-trimmed Californian waterfront – between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Hearst Castle – most campgrounds, hotels and splurge-worthy resorts had to temporarily shutter as a result. These included the 19th century award-winning cliff-hugging homestead, Post Ranch Inn, and the luxurious 160-acre Ventana Big Sur, formerly the Ventana Inn & Spa, which boasts an enchanting backdrop of verdant woodlands and sparkling blue waters, creating the most picturesque ambiance imaginable. But the beloved adults-only Ventana used the enforced break to undergo an extensive renovation and refurbishment program, and will re-open on 20th October as Alila’s debut North American property, to coincide with the opening of a newly constructed Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge, reconnecting Big Sur to the rest of the world. Built more than four decades ago, Ventana's multimillion-dollar reimagination of its 59 guest rooms and suites has enhanced rather than changed the hotel's already plush and much-loved rustic design aesthetic. All guest rooms include a

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private balcony or patio, where breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains or Pacific Ocean can be enjoyed and savoured. The liberal addition of rich leathers, high quality timber furnishings, macramé wall hangings and handcrafted accessories has elevated guest accommodations to new luxurious standards. Other updates include the revamping of Social House lounge as an enclave designed for socialising with other guests, complete with a collection of vinyl, pool table, board games and an intimate bar. Meanwhile, Sur House restaurant, with its famed 10,000-bottle cellar, features an expanded terrace so that more people can dine al fresco. For those looking for a special break, luxe resort experiences include two, private outdoor Spa Alila cabanas overlooking the redwood forest, for an even more serene experience. And a standalone Cottage House - the property’s largest and most luxurious guest accommodation at 722ft² - boasts an outdoor hot tub, oversized hammock and sprawling stone bathroom complete with an indoor soaking tub for two. Not to mention incredible forest canyon views and complete and utter privacy. Perhaps the collapse of Pfeiffer Canyon Bridge and the forced closure of Highway One had a silver hospitality lining after all.

TAKEO-ONSEN, SAGA, JAPAN ONYADO CHIKURINTEI Nestled between the more popular Fukuoka and Nagasaki prefectures, the historic Japanese prefecture of Saga, in the north of Kyushu, is often underrated and overlooked. But with more than 10% of Saga dedicated to parks its natural beauty is hard to ignore, and is well worth a visit for those travelling around Japan. Saga is one of the few prefectures where surf meets ski. Karatsu offers some of the best surfing in Kyushu, while Tenzan Ski Resort offers an altogether more alpine experience. From the top of Mount Sefuri – the largest in the Sefuri Mountain Range – the views of this stunning region are breathtaking, and the climb is a mere 3 hours to the peak. Set within the lush Mifuneyama Rakuen Garden, which dates from the latter Edo Period, in Takeo-Onsen hot spring town with a 1,300-year history, the serene and extraordinarily exquisite Onyado Chikurintei inn features just 11 elegant and exquisitely fashioned guest rooms surrounded by dense wild forest and 495,000m² of landscaped gardens, including a number of rare cherry blossom trees. Each guest room has been lovingly designed with its own unique personality, to seamlessly integrate the architecture into the tranquil natural environment that surrounds Onyado Chikurintei, and take full advantage of its unique setting and historic location. Upon arrival, guests are welcomed into an intimate entrance area, where they remove their shoes before stepping onto the tatami floor. Vast, window-lined hallways lead visitors to their private rooms, with transparent glazing seemingly bringing the outdoors in, and the walk itself feeling much like a peaceful transition into the beautiful nature that surrounds the site. Room layouts have been designed to maximise the scenic views of the surrounding gardens and tune guests into Mifuneyama Rakuen garden’s hundreds of thousands of trees and flowering plants which provide a kaleidoscope of differing colours in each of the four seasons. Onyado Chikurintei‘s largest and most exclusive accommodation is the VIP ‘SHUHO’ room, a spacious and serene space that once hosted Japan’s Imperial family, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko.

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NEW YORK CITY, U.S.A. MADE HOTEL Named for the neighbourhood's acronym (NOrth of MADison Square Park), whilst many New Yorkers cite the NoMad district as quintessential New York, considering its position in the heart of Manhattan – pretty much as central as it gets – it’s a bit odd that the area between 26th and 30th Streets, Park Avenue and Broadway didn’t, until relatively recently, even have a name. Formerly home to the late 19th century and early 20th century music publishing mecca known as Tin Pan Alley, today the area oozes a high-energy buzz from the daytime hustle of its creative and enthusiastic residents always looking for better ways to live, work and play. Plentiful restaurants serve cuisine as diverse as the clientele who dine in them. There are a plethora of niche amenities, the like of which one would only ever find in Manhattan, such as the New York Dog Spa and Hotel and even a Museum of Sex. And now there are more than a few design-led hotels in on the hospitality action. The first to open was Ace Hotel in 2009, whose restaurants and lobby bar soon began to lure trendy downtowners to its obscure patch of Broadway. Other hotels soon followed, including the 168-room NoMad, occupying a stunning 1903 Beaux-Arts tower on Broadway at 28th Street, and the 254-room Redbury New York, sibling of its famous sister properties in Hollywood and South Beach. Everything in NoMad is but a short jaunt from the Empire State Building, Madison Square Park, the Theatre District, Fashion District and Museum Row, making the location uber convenient for all. 108-room MADE Hotel debuted in New York’s burgeoning NoMad district last month, spread across 18 storeys and meticulously conceptualised by Los Angeles-based design firm Studio MAI as a sustainable urban hospitality concept, based on an ecoconscious material palette without sacrificing luxury. Elements of global simplicity feature strongly within MADE’s rooms and suites, simultaneously humbling and adding raw elegance to their interiors, whilst also showcasing a number of bespoke fixtures and fittings, such as a custom raw bronze shelving system that connects the closet and desk, and allows guests to have some fun and games getting the space just the way they want it to function. Rich handwoven fabrics, polished stainless-steel mirrors and hand-carved benches contrast solid white oak walls and flumed white oak flooring. The overall effect is one of subdued yet well-designed and restrained sophistication, which is something New Yorkers are generally not used to seeing in their hotels. Perhaps this new minimal yet natural feel, laden with special design touches, is made for the new New York.

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PARIS, FRANCE THE HOXTON, PARIS Located directly north of the 1st arrondissement, the smallest of all the arrondissements, the unassuming 2eme is known for its banking and business presence, particularly for housing the Bourse – the historic HQ of the Paris stock exchange. The 2nd arrondissement is also a haven of fashion and food, lined with covered commercial passageways, trendy boutiques and vibrant open-air markets, some of which date back to 19th century. Most notable are the circular Place des Victoires, one of the oldest royal squares in Paris, and La Gallerie Vivienne, a gorgeous 19th century covered arcade that’s simply perfect for an afternoon of coffee and shopping. The open-air market on pedestrianised Rue Motorgueil is one of the city’s oldest, and a host of speciality food shops sell everything from bread, wine and cheese to fresh fish and cut flowers. The 2nd arrondissement is also home to the textile district, known as the Sentier. It is in the epicentre of this cool part of the French capital – in an enviable position on Rue du Sentier – that supremely funky hospitality brand Hoxton recently opened its hot new Paris hotel. The fourth outpost from what one of the world’s most exciting hotel groups, Hoxton Paris is the largest to date in the brand’s portfolio, with 172 guestrooms complemented by a brasserie, cocktail bar, two courtyards, seven meeting rooms and a communal pantry-style kitchen. Housed within an imposing 18th century townhouse originally designed by architect Nicolas d’Orbay for Etienne Rivié, a courtier to King Louis XV, the building sat empty for more than a decade and was last used as a clothing factory. Taking inspiration from the diversity and originality of the streets and scenes that surround it, a trio of design firms spent four years carefully renovating the ‘monument historique’ – a title it shares with the Eiffel Tower, Louvre and Notre Dame. Parisian studio Humbert & Poyet created the bedrooms, Soho House the public spaces, and Ennismore Creative Studio oversaw the project. As a result, the space has been skilfully reimagined and the history of the property beautifully captured through cornicing, panels and reclaimed oak chevron flooring, juxtaposed with contemporary feature walls and laminates to create an ultra-edgy urban haven of contemporary chic in a historic setting.

MACAU, CHINA THE MACAU ROOSEVELT Whilst Macau has worked hard to forge its reputation as the Las Vegas of Asia, Taipa Village, with its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, is one of the few areas where you can seemingly step back in time and enjoy quiet strolls along pedestrianised streets and hidden, characterful alleys, thus offering a welcome respite to the high octane Cotai casino area. The best-preserved area of historical Taipa Island, and home to Portuguese architecture and Mediterranean influences alongside Chinese architectural features, Taipa Village offers rich cultural heritage and a host of authentic local delights, including museums, colonial churches and Chinese temples. It is against this colourful backdrop – tucked away in its own corner of Taipa yet set well away from the area’s other hotels – that The Macau Roosevelt recently opened its glamorous doors, looking onto Macau's racecourse and over the Hengqin River towards China. Pairing a modernist design and the glamorous golden age of Hollywood with champagne-popping views, Roosevelt’s first outpost outside the States was fashioned by talented yet fierce Iceland-born Los Angeles-based female architect Gulla Jónsdóttir, and has added a noticeable dash of exclusivity to Taipa and indeed Macau overall. Given the Roosevelt brand’s colourful past (including hosting the first Academy Awards in 1929), there was a lot of pressure to get things right for its first overseas property. But, in the very capable hands of Jónsdóttir, local Chinese owner Yoho Group need not have worried about the outcome of its debut hotel. The Macau Roosevelt has literally overnight become the insider address for music makers, fashionistas and adventurous socialites alike, tapping into a Tinseltown design aesthetic, stylistically dated back to when Southern California epitomised glamour like nowhere else. The hotel’s 368 rooms are sumptuous yet not overpowering, with white oak flooring and a lavish use of materials such as bronze and stone in creative ways. In corner suites, a built-in wood and marble window seat doubles as a desk. Large timber dividers in bathrooms are set against bronze doors and black and white marble feature walls carved with an organic pattern akin to inkblots. At the top of the building, the hotel's duplex suites – named after Hollywood Roosevelt regular Marilyn Monroe – are akin to glamorous penthouse playgrounds, and boast rooftop hot tubs and multiple beds, creating some of the most decadent yet fun lodgings to rest one's head in Macau.

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TORONTO, CANADA THE BROADVIEW HOTEL With Niagara Falls just two hours away, a super-efficient transportation system and the welcoming Torontonians always smiling and ready to help, there are many reasons to visit North America’s fourth-largest city. Buzzing during term time with a few hundred thousand students and a population representing a couple of hundred nations, all frequenting the city's excellent restaurants, theatres, museums and art galleries, there is plenty to see and do in Toronto. When it comes to trendy neighbourhoods, Toronto’s east side traditionally lagged behind more westerly hot spots such as College Street’s Little Italy. But nowadays Queen St. East is the new Queen St. West, and the formerly industrial stretch known as Leslieville has emerged as one of the city's hippest places to eat, drink, shop and live. Over the past decade, the east side has attracted an influx of young homebuyers who have changed the dynamic and like to dine out and spend their cash in cool places close to home, with much of the excitement now centred on Gerrard Street. The Broadview Hotel on Queen St. East opened in July 2017 after a three-year renovation and restoration process, represents one of Toronto’s most enormous transformations, and is another fine example of fresh buzz again being injected into the city’s east side. Officially named Dingman's Hall and erected by a soap maker in 1891, who thought that the neighbourhood could use a community hub, what was once a bicycle club, residential complex and latterly a rooming-house and notorious strip club, has been transformed from a structurally unsound wreck into a lovingly realised boutique hotel, complete with a funky café-bar on street level and a seventh-floor rooftop bar and deck surrounding a preserved tower, which was the tallest structure in the area until recently. Indeed, Broadview’s rooftop was one of the summer’s most happening hang outs for miles around. A building with such character and multiple layers of history gave the hotel’s designers - DesignAgency - lots of freedom to play off different eras and genres. This playfulness is obvious in every party of the property, not least the 58 rooms and suites which feel a little like boudoirs, decorated with rich velvet curtains, patterned textiles, and the occasional utility pole that functions as the support for bedside tables or mirrors while also resembling a brass pole. Every room has a record player and selection of vinyl hand-picked by the hotel’s east-end neighbour, Tiny Record Shop, mini bars are stocked with goods from local purveyors, and marble-lined uber retro bathrooms are stocked with toiletries from another east-end company, Graydon Skincare. When it comes to Toronto’s east side, it’s all about keeping it real and keeping it in the family.

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LANS, AUSTRIA LANSERHOF LANS The picture postcard homely Austrian village of Lans, about 8km from Innsbruck, is renowned throughout Tyrol for its lake of glacial origin. Despite being situated at a height of 980m, in high summer the water temperature can rise to 25 degrees making it perfect for bathing. Whilst in the winter months, Lake Lans transforms into an ice skating rink. Being at the foot of 2,246m-high Patscherkofel mountain, Lans also offers direct access to a bijou resort boasting a very acceptable 18km of ski slopes and 8 lifts. Whilst it is here that Austrian alpine skier Franz Klammer won his gold medal in the 1986 Winter Olympics, the area is also famous for being the site of Lanserhof Group's first medical spa. Opened more than thirty years ago amidst a scenic setting of meadows, expansive forests and the dramatic Alpine backdrop of snow-capped mountains, Lanserhof Lans combines the best of a luxury health retreat and a medical resort in one location, the famous LANS Med concept being universally recognised as one of the world's leading detox regimes. Previously a serious clinic with very few frills, with treatments more medicinal rather than pampering, Lanserhof Lans has just put the finishing touches to an eight-month US$ 26 million renovation, sensitively designed by Düsseldorf-based architect Christoph Ingenhoven. The substantial makeover, including the addition of a new five-storey curvilinear building, has elevated Lanserhof Lans to a luxury all singing all dancing mega-retreat, complete with a sublime spa incorporating a saltwater pool and gym. Treatments are tailored to individuals’ needs, and doctors and specialists are on hand to encourage guests to live a more vital life once they leave. The new guest room structure houses a collection of 67 light and airy contemporary suites, all dressed in a soothing mineral-based palette, and filled with sensory materials such as wood, stone, linen and loden, the latter being a thick, water-resistant short-piled woollen fabric, first produced by Austrian peasants. Residents are treated to views of soaring mountains to the north and bucolic forests to the south. At the top of the building, the 65m² open-plan Grand Penthouse Suite, complete with private roof terrace, provides incredible mountain views via a curved bank of floor-to-ceiling windows (from EUR 1,750/night). A minimum of seven days is required to get rid of the rubbish, unblock the pipes, start to regenerate one’s body and let the energy flow unimpeded. If you’re going to totally clear your mind and learn to understand the importance of taking time out to properly reboot and recharge, Lanserhof Lans is surely the place to do it.

PHUKET VEGETARIAN FESTIVAL Devotees subjecting themselves to ritualised mutilation at Phuket’s annual vegetarian festival in order to prove their devotion and venerate their gods and ancestors 1-9 October 2017


The winner of this prize will stay for three nights in a Garden Pool Villa at Anantara Peace Haven Tangalle Resort, plus three nights in a One-Bedroom Ocean View Suite at Anantara Kalutara Resort, including half board for two guests. Also included are airport and inter resort transfers, a 90-minute signature couples spa treatment at Anantara Tangalle, plus one “Dining by Design” experience at Anantara Kalutara. Anantara is a luxury hospitality brand for modern travellers, connecting them to genuine places, people and stories through personal experiences, and providing heartfelt hospitality in the world’s most exciting destinations.

Memorable stays and inspiri capital of the island nation of S KALUTARA RESORT, where sign at the country’s largest spa. Meanwhile, at ANANTARA PEA of a coconut plantation edging memories as you explore the so Savour exquisite dining in wo Sri Lankan resorts, either atop lagoon. As always, Anantara ope




ing experiences are just an hour away from the Sri Lanka, at Geoffrey Bawa-inspired ANANTARA nature spa journeys unveil a world of relaxation

ACE HAVEN TANGALLE, unwind within the seclusion a golden crescent of sand, and create incredible uth coast of the island from your luxurious base. orld-class restaurants at both of Anantara’s deluxe the cliffs of Tangalle or beside Kalutara’s calm ens doors revealing the true spirit of a destination.

To enter this prize draw email your contact details (name, home city, email and mobile no.) to win @ Entrants will be added as subscribers to The Cultured Traveller's mailing list. The draw will take place after 30th November 2017 and the winner will be notified via email. This prize can be used anytime before 30th November 2018 and is subject to availability (when booking) and blackout periods during peak season, Easter, public holidays, August 2018 and Chinese New Year 2018. The Cultured Traveller will not share your contact details with third parties.

WWW.ANANTARA.COM/SRILANKA Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 49


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nusually for a cover story I am caveating this article n aat the outset, since visiting Kathmandu is not for tthe faint hearted, inexperienced travellers, first time visitors to A Asia or those who have never before experienced a third world country, which the Nepalese capital is largely reminiscent of at the present time. Whilst the countryside and Himalayan foothills just outside the city are overtly lush, green and utterly spectacular, you need to actively scratch below the surface of Kathmandu to uncover the city’s riches, many of which are essentially hidden in plain sight. Even on a fine weather day, the streets of the Nepalese capital are pretty treacherous, and in parts seemingly unpassable, especially to an uninitiated Westerner. Litter is everywhere, and it's not uncommon to see trash piled up

beside the road because rubbish bins are few and far between. Except for Saturday which is the locals' weekly day off, roads are heaving and the traffic routinely slow-moving. On a weekend night, don’t be surprised to sit in a log jam for what seems like an eternity, just to travel a few miles in a taxi. The best way to get around is undoubtedly on two wheels. Kathmandu's air is polluted and rife with dust, especially when it hasn't rained for a while. Yet, whilst all of these failings have the makings of a decidedly unhospitable destination, if one invests the time to truly explore the Nepalese capital, one is rewarded with an intense spiritual and cultural experience, combining centuries of fascinating history, deep religion and glorious traditions. Kathmandians are warm, honest, loyal and friendly people.

“You need to actively scratch below the surface of Kathmandu to uncover the city’s riches, many of which are essentially hidden in plain sight ”

Visitors are almost certainly safer on the streets of Kathmandu than in New York. No one will pickpocket your bag while you’re looking at a temple, for instance. The local cuisine is delicious, original and affordable, especially momos, which are essentially bite-size dumplings with a meat or vegetable filling, accompanied by a spicy dipping sauce. And Nepalese handicrafts are of an exceptionally high standard, especially textiles. Indeed, Nepalese cashmere and woven fabrics are amongst the best in the world, and local factories are routinely used by numerous high-end European fashion houses, including the likes of Chanel and Lagerfeld. Yes, your US$1,000 cashmere hoodie was most likely made in Nepal! As the stepping stone for literally every single Everest

climber who has attempted to conquer the world's tallest mountain, Kathmandu is experienced in meeting the needs of explorers and adventurers, yet, uniquely, hasn't been ruined by tourists. There are very few capitals left in the world which are still unspoilt and authentic. Kathmandu is one of them, making visiting it a unique and all-encompassing experience for those willing to take the plunge. And plunge in head fist you must, to fully understand the city, appreciate Nepalese culture and get the best out of your visit. Located at the crossroads of ancient trading and pilgrimage routes, in the fertile Kathmandu Valley, more than 20,000 feet below the poetic snow-capped Himalayan peaks, the Nepalese capital oozes countless exotic connotations. Before Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 53

I flew to Nepal, I anticipated exploring a remote and fabled kingdom, once isolated by geography and political upheaval. I expected mystery and mysticism, not least in a city which was founded in 723 AD. But I did not expect the pollution and traffic jams. And I certainly did not expect a corpse. “The feet of the body are in the water so the soul can be released into the Bagmati River, a tributary of the sacred Ganges, and after the cremation his ashes will also be swept into the river,” Shree, my guide, explained to me, unaware of my slight uneasiness. I was standing within the Pashupatinath temple complex, one of the holiest in the world, revered and worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. The scene which was unfolding before me was surreal. A dead male body was being attended to by various family members who were preparing him for imminent cremation. They were washing the corpse, with a little

move their oil lamps, lanterns and other religious icons in circular motions whilst chanting sacred mantras. Meanwhile, on the opposite river bank, the corpse, by now covered in bright orange flower garlands and layers of garments, was being carried to the ghat, stacked with wood and ready for the cremation to begin. All the while monkeys scrapped in the background, jumping from stupa to stupa, occasionally their crazy screams heard above the priests’ chanting. A young girl tried to sell me a necklace with a mandala charm, but when I said ‘no’ she moved on to her next target rather than harangue me. Further down the river, I could see women washing clothes and whacking them dry against rocks, and water buffalo wandering along the muddy banks. Monkeys splashed. Dogs drank. The entire scene awakened senses in me that had hitherto been dormant, probably because so much is handed to us on a plate when we travel to foreign lands these days.

“Located at the crossroads of ancient trading and pilgrimage routes, in the fertile Kathmandu Valley, more than 20,000 feet below the poetic snow-capped Himalayan peaks, the Nepalese capital oozes countless exotic connotations ”

difficulty it seemed, since it was wrapped in a sarong and other garments. His feet were in the river. “One must be cleansed before entering a different plane,” Shree commented. Whilst a public cremation was about to happen in front of me, on the river bank opposite, to my right, the set-up was beginning for a ritual candle ceremony, Aarati, a celebration of a completely different kind. Around me were hundreds of people, perhaps a few thousand actually, for I couldn’t see far as dusk was beginning to fall. But I could feel the people and their intense anticipation. Bagmati divides Pashupati into two parts, with the main temple on one side of the holy river, and the location of Aarati on the other. Pashupati’s Aarati is a nightly ritual of worship, in which light from wicks soaked in ghee (purified butter) is offered to God. During the ritual, three priests

I literally stood in the same spot for more than two hours, without so much as a sip of water, so entranced was I by the scene which was unfolding around me. When the funeral pyre was eventually lit, the body was being consumed and huge flames began to leap towards the sky, at the same time as the Aarati priests continued to sing their mesmerising songs and dance with their burning lanterns, it felt like the tableau was complete: celebrations of life and death were happening concurrently in the same place. As I reluctantly walked away, night had well and truly fallen by now, and huge smoke plumes from the burning corpse were trailing into the black sky. I have seen a lot of things on my travels around the world, but this intensely spiritual, spellbinding spectacle was one which I will almost certainly never forget. Life and death. Light and dark. Celebration and mourning. Everything happened on the RATHAUS

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banks of the Bagmati that night, and what I saw and experienced is the essence of Kathmandu – a city of great contradictions, but, through it all, great belief, trust, love and spirituality. “Watch where you walk,” Shree cautioned me, stepping around dog excrement. The Malla Dynasty was Kathmandu’s ruling family from 1201 until 1769. Upon the death of King Yaksha Malla in 1482, a rivalry developed among his three sons, so each took a portion of the Kathmandu Valley, creating three kingdoms and independent city-states now known as Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. The competition among the subsequent monarchs of the three cities continued until the Mallas were defeated, and the country reunified in 1769. Whilst in power, the kings of each city created a durbar (palace) and square, and each attempted to outdo the other in the building of their lavish temples, ornate shrines and opulent palaces. Today, the three durbar squares, all within a few miles of each other, have been designated as UNESCO world heritage sites. Whilst the devastating

earthquake of 25th April 2015 decimated much of these beautiful historic centres, the rebuilding of Kathmandu’s temples is proceeding at a rapid pace. In the sixties and early seventies, most visitors to the city congregated in Kathmandu Durbar Square, the natural center of the capital. The majority of these travellers had trekked the hippie trail, enticed by marijuana and hashish which was legal back then. So popular was this area, that a nearby road is still known as Freak Street, and a temple dedicated to Shiva, where those high on cannabis and hash routinely preached peace, love and flower power, is popularly known as the Hippie Temple. Nowadays the freaks have vanished – either grown up or gone to Goa – but the names have stuck. At the southern limits of Kathmandu Durbar Square, in the adjoining square of Basantapur – once the royal elephant stables – you will find a bustling flea market during the day. Every morning, vendors unload their wares from crates and

Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 57

“I have seen a lot of things on my travels around the world, but this intensely spiritual, spellbinding spectacle was one which I will almost certainly never forget ”

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arrange them on mats or makeshift tables. Among the many items for sale are elaborate antique locks that vendors swear hail from “a very old temple”, together with countless “singing bowls” – essentially metal bowls which produce a vibrating hum when the rim is rubbed with a wooden wand. Whilst such bowls are used by Buddhist monks during meditation, those sold in flea markets are generally of a poor quality. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the variety and number of imposing temples and shrines throughout Kathmandu, especially in the interconnected courtyards of the ancient royal palace complex of the former Kathmandu Kingdom. Sadly, the oldest and largest building in the complex, Kasthamandap, dating from the 14th century, was utterly

destroyed by the earthquake. According to legend, wood from a single tree had been used in its construction. Rebuilding this iconic Kathmandu landmark is a slow and difficult process. Yet there are others, still standing, in the same complex, which are open to tourists and worth visiting, not least to see their ornately and intricately carved woodwork. When moving around Kathmandu, as far as possible I travelled on the back of a motorcycle, with my trusty guide Manish skilfully weaving our two wheels in and out of the dreadful traffic. As long as one is equipped with a mask and helmet this is by far the quickest way to get from A to B, but is only doable when it's not raining. On the morning of my car ride to Patan, the 3-mile journey took over an hour even though we avoided rush hour. Bouncing about on the back

seat of a car, traversing broken roads on spent shock absorbers, with exhaust fumes pouring through the driver’s open window to a backdrop of non-stop horns blaring, is not a lot of fun I can tell you. Often I wondered whether it might not have been better to walk, but the pavements in Kathmandu are an assault course of potholes, fornicating stray dogs and cows either ambling across the street or recumbent on the sidewalk. Hence, walking anywhere, apart from short distances, is not recommended. I was heading to Patan for a guided tour of its chaityas (miniature stone stupas), a bespoke experience organised by Hyatt Regency Kathmandu to give visitors a real feel for the city's 1,500 years of Buddhist architecture. Upon my arrival in Patan, the chaos of the city’s roads gave way to

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the calm of the ancient city. Predominantly Buddhist Patan still goes by the ancient name of Lalitpur – City of Beauty. Kathmandu really comes to life in the backstreets and hidden squares of Patan, where candy-coloured houses, spanning numerous architectural generations, sit side-by-side with temples, chaityas, monuments and other altars to Buddha. It is not hard to see why Patan was originally named Lalitpur. Here a gentler pace of life obviously prevails. The streets are a riot of smells: turmeric, cardamom, incense, ginger, marigolds, fresh meat, fried onion and cow dung. Shop windows display tacky golden deities to attract the eyes of tourists. Courtyard upon courtyard, interspersed with beautiful squares – all kept tidy and litter-free by their residents – yield an array of chaityas of varying size, age and levels of decoration. Many courtyards echo with the tap of hammers from bronze casters hand crafting statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (goddesses). Most of the chaityas I saw were simply stunning. Starting at Gabaha Square and ending at Lunkhusi, the two-kilometre walk took just a few hours, yet in those 120 minutes I chanced upon more captivating Nepalese architecture than I had seen during the previous four days. Before the earthquake, Patan’s Durbar Square was reputedly the most spectacular of all Kathmandu, a veritable Disneyland of temples lining the left-hand side of the square, opposite the royal palace stretching for hundreds of feet down the other side. The palace fared reasonably well, but heartbreakingly most of the temples were reduced to rubble. However, amidst before and after images affixed to the hordes of scaffolding which surround each fallen temple, phoenix-like they are rising from the piles of rubble. Typically upbeat of the Nepalese people, my guide quipped “you’d better take photos of these temples now, because in a few years’ time all the scaffolding will be gone.” This positive-thinking and natural appreciation of their architectural heritage is the lifeline of Kathmandu’s residents, and one of the reasons why visitors, like me, can easily forgive the dog shit and broken roads for the possibility of a deep, meaningful and inherently cultural travel experience. There is much to see, feel, touch, taste and experience in Kathmandu – you just need to take the time to search it out and revel in it. Whilst this is not something 21st century travellers are routinely au fait with, for those adventurous enough to visit the second poorest nation in Asia, the visual rewards are huge, memories truly unforgettable and spiritual experiences utterly unique. ALSTERARKADEN

“Typically upbeat of the Nepalese people, my guide quipped “you’d better take photos of these temples now, because in a few years’ time all the scaffolding will be gone ”

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HYATT REGENCY KATHMANDU Liberally spread out on a 37-acre plot, comprising mainly of bucolic landscaped grounds, when exiting Kathmandu’s treacherous streets and making your way up the long, regal driveway towards the 5-star Hyatt Regency Kathmandu, one is almost immediately overcome by an overwhelming sense of calm and contentment, particularly as the massive hotel of 280 rooms and suites comes into view. The contrast between outside the hotel’s gates and inside its lush sprawling compound could not be greater. Outside, chaos, traffic, dirt and disorganisation reign. Meanwhile, in the domain of Kathmandu’s Hyatt, peace and calm are the order of the day – every day – and spacious accommodations and extensive resort-like facilities are complemented by a level of personal service and attention to detail unmatched anywhere else in the Nepalese capital. Arriving at the Hyatt is quite literally like stepping out of a dirty city and into a hospitality haven, such is the contrast, and so staying here must surely be the first choice of cultured travellers visiting Kathmandu. Built in the traditional Newari style of Nepalese architecture, the Hyatt is located on the road to Boudhanath Stupa - the most holy of all Tibetan Buddhist shrines outside of Tibet, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Boudhanath and the buzzing backstreets and busy alleys around the stupa are just five minutes on foot from the hotel’s back gate, making visiting this holiest of sites a breeze in a city where getting anywhere can be a bit of a struggle. For any other hotel, being in such close proximity to Boudhanath would invariably be its USP, but not the Hyatt, for it boasts numerous other facilities unique to a central Kathmandu

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hotel. Not least, a 25-metre free form outdoor swimming pool, indoor and outdoor whirpools, countless sundecks for tanning when the weather’s fine, three astroturfed tennis courts, multiple options for eating and drinking, and even a 1.6km (just under a mile-long) jogging track, the latter meandering its way around the hotel’s beautiful landscaped gardens. The onsite beauty salon, health club, spa and well-equipped state-of-the-art fitness centre offer opportunities to be preened, destress, relax and stay in shape, including a week-long schedule of yoga classes. Overlooking the hotel’s Japanese garden, the hotel’s fitness centre is uniquely open to in-house guests 24 hours a day every day. 280 rooms, including 7 suites and 35 Regency Club rooms, are some of the largest lodgings in the city, and have been designed to provide supreme comfort and space to unwind after a busy day, whether sightseeing or working. Many rooms boast panoramic Kathmandu Valley and direct Boudhanath Stupa views. High-speed Wi-Fi is free for all residents. Being a full-service resort hotel, an extensive room service menu is available for guests who wish to dine in their rooms after a tiring day out ‘n’ about. Guests staying in Regency Club rooms have exclusive access to a large private lounge, akin to a members’ club, which serves complimentary breakfast, all-day hot and cold soft beverages, and early evening hors d’oeuvres, wines and cocktails. In short, Hyatt Regency Kathmandu is the perfect base from which to explore the Kathmandu Valley, providing literally everything a discerning traveller could ever want in a city centre hotel.

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DWARIKA’S HOTEL When one man, Dwarika Das Shrestha, saw some ancient Nepalese carved wood pillars being burnt as firewood back in the early 1950s, it was to change the course of his life, and lead to the construction of a hotel and the birth of a hospitality group, of which Dwarika’s Hotel in Kathmandu was the first. Located in the Battisputali neighbourhood of the city, Dwarika’s Hotel is the result of the merging together of several traditional old Newari houses around a central courtyard. The resultant hotel, spread between three separate buildings, took more than thirty years to construct, and earned Dwarika’s a UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation, recognising the Shrestha family’s achievement in successfully conserving and restoring heritage buildings. Dwarika Das Shrestha's vision was born in Kathmandu Durbar Square in 1952. Nepal was entering a period of change, and all-around, centuries-old mud, brick and wooden houses were being demolished to make way for modern concrete structures. Legend has it that Shrestha was jogging past the ruins of an old building, in front of the ancient palatial complex of Kathmandu's Newari kings, when he saw, huddled in front of a small fire, two carpenters sawing-up ancient carved wooden pillars and using the pieces for firewood. The reduction of his heritage to fuel struck a chord, quite literally stopped Shrestha in his tracks, and he took action. First, he bought the wooden pillars from the carpenters, saving them from being burnt. In the years that followed, whenever an old building was torn down, Shrestha would buy as much of its ancient carved woodwork as he could afford. Indeed, it became his passion to collect as much as possible. In the early 1970s, during the time of the coronation of King Birenda, all the hotels in Nepal were fully booked, and so Shrestha and his family moved into a rented house and converted their home – the first building on the site – into a make-shift guest house. This first building, affectionately known as the cow shed, today houses rooms 105 and 106 of Dwarika’s Hotel. The overwhelmingly positive feedback they received from their first foray into the hotel industry, inspired the Shresthas to build a hotel in the same style. In 1988 Shrestha brought together his entire collection of carved wooden relics and opened the first part of Dwarika’s Hotel, the Lumbini Building. From small beginnings the hotel grew, piece by piece, and, just before Shrestha's death in 1992, he completed the 16-room Ram Palace, employing the same stylistic elements as the first building. By now locals and tourists alike has begun to appreciate the value of Newari architecture and Nepalese heritage. To stay in one of the hotel’s 83 individually designed rooms and suites today, is to experience genuine Nepali hospitality and culture. Meanwhile facilities now include a picturesque outdoor swimming pool, three restaurants and a spa influenced by ancient Himalayan traditions. A shop selling books, jewellery, Thangka paintings, handicrafts and Nepali Pashmina shawls completes the Dwarika’s Hotel experience, which, some would say, is utterly unique in the world of hospitality.

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DWARIKA’S RESORT Planning a 7-day trip to Nepal and including an out of town weekend in Dhulikhel, offers an opportunity to experience both the fascinating metropolis of Kathmandu and the gloriously lush Nepalese countryside. Dwarika’s Resort in Dhulikhel is perfect for a few days out of the city, and is the perfect luxe location to enjoy some meaningful therapies and restorative treatments. Offering stunning views over the extended Langtang range of the Himalayas, and just an hour’s drive from central Kathmandu (just beyond the ancient city of Bhaktapur), Dwarika’s Resort is a beautiful holistic lifestyle retreat, which draws upon ancient Himalayan knowledge and philosophies of care for nature and oneself. In many ways, the resort pays homage to Nepal’s natural heritage, and the holistic lifestyle of the Himalayan people, but also bows to universal wisdom with regards to one’s wellbeing. Located in Dhulikhel, a medieval city on the ancient trade route to Tibet, and positioned so as to make the most of the spectacular surrounding countryside, the resort is centred around its Pancha Kosha Himalayan Spa. The range of therapies and treatments offered focus on achieving a harmonious lifestyle, by employing Buddhist medicine, Ayurveda and traditional folkloric knowledge. Guests can enjoy a host of activities, as well as indulge in a range of unique Himalayan spa treatments, all in magnificent natural surroundings, presided over by friendly staff who attend to their needs with genuine warmth and care. Guest accommodations comprise forty suites, ranging in size from 100m² to 300m² in three categories (junior, executive and royal), and characterised by rosy brickwork and dark wooden accents with the emphasis on comfort and relaxation. All offer magnificent vistas through large windows facing directly out across the valley. Executive suites boast a sprawling party-sized private rooftop terrace which effectively acts as an outdoor living room. Whether inside or outside one’s suite, the temptation is genuinely to sit, do nothing, speak to no one and just drink in the breathtaking views. All guests are invited to partake in a variety of resort activities for no extra charge, although those who splash out for the highest room categories benefit from even more free activities, including a one-on-one chakra meditation with the resident guru, a personal consultation with the onsite Ayurvedic doctor and private yoga sessions. In addition to the activities, there are meditation and yoga halls, chakra sound chambers, a maze of 84 Shiva Linga carvings, and, perhaps most extraordinarily, a Himalayan salt therapy room completely lined with chunks of pure rock salt. The salt crystals impart a thickness to the air (which is fantastic for respiratory issues), and the effect of spending a few quiet moments here alone is as pleasing as it is mystical. Meals are provided by way of in-room dining and three restaurants (including a superb vegetarian Japanese), and there’s even a helipad for those for wish to take a chopper to watch the sun rise at Everest base camp.

SEE KUMARI DEVI A kumari is a young pre-pubescent girl believed by Newar Buddhists to be the embodiment of the supreme female deity Vajradevi, a Buddha. The cult of the Kumari dates back to the Middle Ages. Whilst there are about 10 kumaris in Nepal, Kathmandu's Kumari Devi (royal goddess) is the most important, and the Kumari Ghar on Kathmandu Durbar Square is where she lives. Built in 1757, the temple largely escaped earthquake damage, and is known for its magnificent carvings as well as its divine resident. Every afternoon, the Living Goddess appears for a few seconds in a first-floor window. No photos are allowed but she is said to answer devotees' questions by the expressions on her face! BOUDHANATH STUPA The largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet, Boudhanath is the center of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism. Probably built in the 14th century after the Mughal invasions, the stupa is located in the town of Boudha, on the eastern outskirts of Kathmandu, literally 5 minutes-walk from the Hyatt hotel. Boudhanath is topped with a square tower bearing the omnipresent Buddha eyes on all four sides. Prayer flags tied to the stupa flutter in the wind, carrying mantras and prayers heavenward. Surrounding Boudhanath are streets and narrow alleys lined with colourful homes, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries and street vendors.


GARDEN OF DREAMS A small, unremarkable sign in Thamel marks the entrance to this beautiful, historic neo-classical garden, which was laid out in the 1920s by the late Field Marshal Kaiser Shumsher Rana. Once inside and behind the garden’s thick walls, there is no hint whatsoever of the madness happening outside, making Garden of Dreams an oasis of serenity in the heart of the hectic city. People lounge on the grass carpeting the steps of the semi-circular Greek-style amphitheatre and chat in hushed tones. Fountains burble in the background. First time visitors investigate the space, wander around the six impressive pavilions and find hidden courtyards. Well worth a visit if only to take a break.

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SWAYAMBHU (MONKEY TEMPLE) Sitting atop a hill 3km west of Kathmandu, commanding wide and spectacular views of the valley below, makes visiting Swayambhu ideal to snap a panoramic photo of the sprawling cityscape. One of the holiest Buddhist chaityas in Nepal, Swayambhu is said to have evolved spontaneously when the valley was created out of a primordial lake more than two millenia ago. Being the oldest stupa of its kind in Nepal, it is surrounded by numerous shrines and monasteries. Oh, and lots of monkeys. The stone steps leading up to Swayambhu are exceedingly steep, so do ensure that your driver uses the road to drop you close to the top. GOLDEN GATE, BHAKTAPUR Set into a bright red gatehouse adjacent to the 55 Window Palace, the magnificent Golden Gate is a visual highlight of visiting Bhaktapur Durbar Square, and should be combined with exploring the inner courtyards of the Royal Palace, a once vast compound until the 1934 earthquake levelled all but a handful of its 99 courtyards. A few more walls toppled during the 2015 earthquake but much survives. The fabulous golden portal boasts some of Nepal's finest repoussé metalwork. The gilded torana features a fabulous Garuda wrestling with a number of supernatural serpents, while below her is a four-headed and 10-armed figure of the goddess Taleju Bhawani, the family deity of the Malla kings. THE CHAITYA WALK Hyatt Regency hotel's bespoke 2km guided walking tour of the ancient city of Patan’s landmark stupas, is a veritable journey through 1,500 years of Buddhist architecture in the heart of the Nepalese capital, and a superb way to spend just two hours of your time in Kathmandu. The walk starts at Gabaha Square and winds its way through hidden courtyards and bright, colourful squares, taking in a number of gorgeous temples along the way, as well as some of the city’s most important chaityas, some of which were consecrated in the 16th and 17th centuries. Not to be missed is the Golden Temple (Hiranya Varna Mahavihar) which was untouched by the earthquake and is one of the most beautiful in Patan, just north of Durbar Sq. 74 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017




Stay next to Boudhanath Stupa and be part of Kathmandu

Take a break from routine and immerse yourself in Nepal’s vibrant, cultural and energizing capital. Relive old traditions, experience the sights and colour of Kathmandu and enjoy genuine Nepalese hospitality.

For reservations, call +977 1 5171234 or visit HYATT REGENCY KATHMANDU Boudha, Kathmandu

Š2017 Hyatt Corporation. All rights reserved.

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TASTE FIRE AND ICE Founded in 1995 by charming and spirited Italian Annamaria Forgione, Fire And Ice is something of a culinary institution in Kathmandu, and has been serving the city’s best pizzas for more than two decades, providing great value for money as well as tasty authentic fare served in a buzzy, warm environment. Routinely packed to the rafters in the evenings, with discerning diners looking to be satisfied with no-nonsense Italian food prepared using only the freshest produce and ingredients, Fire And Ice is also a popular spot for travellers, climbers and local residents to meet for an authentic morning espresso prepared using the best imported beans. Everything is reasonably priced and tastes scrumptious making reservations essential, especially on weekend nights when the place is positively buzzing. KULFI SANSAR Even if you’re a fan of Greek yoghurt, Nepalese yoghurt may very well be the best you’ve ever tasted! Known as Juju Dhau – which literally means ‘king of yoghurt’ – it is made using buffalo milk, which gives the yoghurt a rich custard flavour and texture. The shallow clay pots the yogurt is made and served in allow any excess liquid to strain out, so the result is one of the thickest, creamiest yogurts imaginable. Juju Dhau is sometimes slightly sweetened with Nepalese honey or flavoured with cardamom or cloves. The best in Kathmandu can be found at Kulfi Sansar in Bhaktapur Durbar Square, which also happens to serve the best Kulfi popsicles (pictured) for miles around. +977 1-6611899 MOMOS Very popular among the Newar community of the Kathmandu valley, it would be impossible to visit the Nepalese capital and not partake (almost certainly more than once) in the one of the nation’s most popular dishes. Momos are essentially bite-size dumplings made with a spoonful of stuffing wrapped in dough. Usually steamed they are also often fried, although the most delicious and utterly moreish are those which are steamed then part fried. The filling of water buffalo meat or vegetables becomes succulent as the cooking process produces an intensely FIRE AND ICE

flavoured broth sealed inside the momo. Served with a spicy dipping sauce, the most authentic and tasty momos tend to be found on Kathmandu’s streets. PIANO B Located in front of the DFID office near Alka Hospital in Bhanimandal, and owned and managed by Gianantonio Candiani, Piano B is a little slice of Italy in Kathmandu, renowned for its authentic and tasty Italian fare, superb wines and excellent selection of artisan charcuterie. The restaurant is also a wine bar and retail outlet, so if you don’t have time to sit down and enjoy a delicious meal, you can drop in for a glass of vino or pick-up a good bottle of red, some cold cuts and cheeses and have a feast at home! Piano B also has three guest rooms, all with en-suites, simply decorated but perfectly adequate for a short stay, equipped with the usual mod cons, and a bargain at just US$ 35/night inclusive of breakfast. MAKO’S Taking its name from its host Mako-san, established in 2011, situated within the exotic confines of Dwarika’s Hotel in Battisputali and seating just thirty diners, Mako’s serves high quality authentic Japanese fare, traditionally prepared using only the finest and freshest ingredients. The intimate dining room is decorated in traditional shoin style, complete with FG walls bedecked in shōji and matrimonial kimonos, and servers’ uniforms are fashioned from Japanese textiles. This attention to detail extends to the food, of which the prawn tempura, Teriyaki (chicken), Nikujaga (meat and vegetable stew) and organic maccha green tea ice cream are standout dishes. MEZZE This hip rooftop drinking and dining spot on Durbar Marg, courtesy of the Roadhouse group, is one of the city’s most happening and popular destinations due to its urban warehouse design, open kitchen, spacious roof terrace overlooking Narayanhiti Palace and incredibly well-stocked bar. Particularly good are the vegetarian mezze platter of hummus, mini pittas, baba ghanoush and other tasty tidbits, and the coriander-crusted chicken kebabs. Mezze’s buzzy and happening vibe makes it equally good for a few drinks or a complete meal. 78 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017





SIP RUM DOODLE Established in 1980 and probably Kathmandu’s most famous bar and restaurant, Rum Doodle was a favourite meeting place for mountaineering expeditions (Sir Edmund Hillary, Reinhold Messner, Angrita Sherpa and Rob Hall have all left their marks) and continues to be popular with climbers, walkers and backpackers from all over the world. Named after the 1956 short novel by W. E. Bowman "The Ascent of Rum Doodle”, the ceiling is bedecked with hundreds upon hundreds of giant cut-out paper feet autographed by happy customers and climbers alike. Live music at the weekends and a well-stocked bar make Rum Doodle a must-visit venue on a Kathmandu night out. +977 1-2191248 KAISER CAFÉ, RESTAURANT & BAR Situated within the tranquil Garden Of Dreams in Thamel - itself a respite from the hectic, dirty city Kaiser Café’s unique location, within the spectacular pillared Barkha Pavilion, makes it a special place for a nice bottle of wine or a lunch stop in the middle of a hectic day of sightseeing. Open from 9am 'til 10pm every day serving meals, coffees and pastries on two levels, enjoying an alcoholic beverage at the long, grand bar in this rather special setting, surrounded by columns and arches, is a lovely way to while away an hour or two.


LEVEL 3 TERRACES One of the city’s most happening weekend nightspots, Level 3 is located at the top of Labim Mall – Kathmandu’s newest and best shopping destination – and offers expertly made cocktails, premium spirits and an excellent range of fresh juices in a slick covered outdoor space, with DJs on Friday and Saturday nights. The carrot and apple juice ‘Skin Purifier’, and beetroot, carrot and apple juice ‘Detox’ are both particularly good and healthy to boot! SAM’S BAR Located in bustling central Thamel, perhaps the oldest bar in Kathmandu and popular among travellers and locals alike, Sam’s is inconspicuously hidden on the upper levels of an old building, so this is not a venue you will stumble across by chance. 80 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017



Sam’s is also the only bar in Kathmandu that doesn’t serve food. Save for popcorn, it’s just booze, served in a chilled-out, grass-roots environment with scrubbish décor. The covered terrace is the best place to park yourself. Beware, the toilets are not particular pleasant and best to be avoided unless you’re desperate! Chaksibari Marg, Thamel, Kathmandu 44600 BENTO CAFÉ Occupying a narrow multi-storey building at the end of Freak Street, with multiple floors offering different experiences, when you visit Bento head straight up the stairs to the terrace or rooftop, both of which offer spectacular views across Basantapur Durbar Square. Bento is perfect for a pit stop during a day of sightseeing. Whilst the coffee, shisha and cocktails here are all good, Bento’s momos deserve a special mention because there are so scrummy, as are its chatmari rice flour pancakes. DOUBLE DORJEE On Boudha Road, just a few minutes-walk from both Hyatt Regency Kathmandu and Boudhanath Stupa, Nepalese owner Mrs Amala has been running her bijou restaurant for more than three decades since 1985. Very popular with climbers and backpackers, its slightly tatty exterior belies a shabby yet characterful and intimate interior, which is a bit like sitting in your granny’s lounge. Double Dorjee is renowned for Mrs Amala’s super-strength Tongba - a somewhat heady millet-based alcoholic beverage indigenous to Nepal, and commonly drunk in the eastern mountainous region of the country. +977 1-4914947


ROADHOUSE CAFÉ, BOUDHA Roadhouse has four different locations in Kathmandu and is a safe choice for decent food, tasty pizzas, fresh salads and drinks. The Boudha branch is however special because it is located inside the circle at Boudhanath Stupa, and from either of its two levels the café offers stunning views. Sit by the window and watch the world circumnavigate the stupa, or sip a coffee al fresco on the roof. Either way this is the best place in Boudha from which to see the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 83

SPEND DHUKUTI Located in Kupondole neighbourhood and run by the Association for Craft Producers (ACP) – a local, non-profit WFTO Guaranteed Fair Trade organisation, which provides a variety of services to around 1,200 low-income primarily female craft producers – Dhukuti is a veritable four-storey treasure trove for the fair trade consumer. Selling everything from home furnishings, textiles, shawls, scarves and bags, to ceramics, jewellery, hand-printed wrapping paper, children’s toys and rugs from the Nupri region of Manasl, Dhukuti is quite possibly the best store in Kathmandu for buying something made in Nepal. Prices are reasonable and a lot cheaper that you will pay for the same items in a tourist area. RAMALAYA A home-grown lifestyle brand that combines Nepal's culture, conservation and creativity – with two outlets in the city including one at Baber Mahal Revisited – featuring homewares, Himalayan-inspired gifts and other beautiful items that you will want to take home with you. We particularly love the tree free Loktha notebooks by Lasha Mutual which come in a variety of different designs, and Nepalese artist Tenzin Norbu's paintings and line drawings of the Dolpo region where he was born, translated into linen and silk cushions. MARINA VAPTZAROVA From the sustainable traditions of the Himalayas to the trends of Paris, Marina Vaptzarova's designs celebrate a meeting of the old and the new and the rough and the delicate. Each of Vaptzarova's journal and lifestyle products comes with a story card, sharing the detail behind the product’s inspiration and the number of skilled hands involved in making it. Vaptzarova's luxe, handmade notebooks, journals and guestbooks are tactile, beautiful and functional, and wonderful combinations of organic textures, bold colours and different materials.

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ARDOR KNITWEARS A must for lovers of quality cashmere and knitwear. Ardor is a one stop shop offering a variety of superior garments which would cost two or three times more in any of the world’s fashion capitals. Ardor’s cashmere items are made from longer, finer fibres which are softer and resist piling; more tightly knitted so they retain their beauty for much longer; and the cross section and drape of Ardor cashmere actually improves through wear and washing, as the fibre strands open up to become fuller and softer. It’s impossible to leave Ardor without at least one new cashmere piece for your wardrobe! HAND MADE POTTERY Traditionally spun and fired clay pots are a fine example of Nepal’s thriving craft trades. In Bhaktapur’s pottery square, a traditional way of life still exists, and pots continue to be made the old-fashioned way. It’s a fascinating process to watch, more so perhaps because of the people than the actual pot making. If the sun is shining, the square’s wide-open brick courtyard will be awash with a mix of small grey and brownish-red clay pots, in sections depending on their design or purpose. In amongst this maze of clay, you’ll see two or three people tending to each pot, much like a dedicated gardener tending to plants. Every pot is examined before being turned to face the sun at a new angle, or dipped into a bucket of coloured water. Finished pieces can be purchased at any one of a number of stalls around the square. KOBOLD With every Kobold watch comes a story, but none more interesting than the limited edition US$16,500 model made with a piece of rock from the summit of Mount Everest, used in the face of the Himalaya Everest Edition. A very exclusive edition of just 25 watches were made from two rocks collected on the actual summit by Sir Ranulph Fiennes and the company’s owner, Michael Kobold, both of whom were threatened with incarceration by the Nepali authorities for taking the summit rocks. Unfortunately, the Himalaya Everest Edition watch is sold out, but you can browse other Kobold timepieces at Baber Mahal Revisited in Kathmandu. 86 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

ALBA INTERNATIONAL WHITE TRUFFLE FAIR Aromatic white truffles - the lumpy, smelly fungi that resemble ugly potatoes line-up to be auctioned at the annual international truffle fair held in the Italian town of Alba. 7 October - 26 November 2017 www.ďŹ

Mediterranean Suite Mandarin Oriental, Bodrum

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ot all hotels are designed equally – this is a simple fact. No matter how much money is spent, marble lavished, oak varnished, terrazzo laid and gilt applied, it is essentially the design, attention to detail, F&B and functionality of a property that sets one apart from the rest. And in the case of the Mandarin Oriental in Bodrum, its suites are some of the best designed I have ever seen, especially the Mediterranean Suite I had the good fortune to road test for a long weekend towards the tail end of summer, which, I might add, is an excellent time to visit any resort if one wishes to avoid crowds and kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love children, but when splashing this kind of cash, one imagines that a discerning traveller surely requires some peace and quiet to tenderly take in and revel in the pure unadulterated high-end hospitality gorgeousness of it all. Not to mention enjoy the luxe facilities, appreciate the carefully considered touches and admire the beautiful finishing. As I was reluctantly packing to check-out of 145m2 of suite bliss, a sleek black helicopter, with a modern fan-in-fin style tail rotor, landed a few hundred metres away, gently depositing a group of guests within the resort. How envious I was of them at the beginning of their deluxe Bodrum break, just as I was leaving. Bodrum was not always a playground for the wealthy and fabulous. On the

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contrary, apart from ground-breaking boho chic beach club and boutique hotel, Maçakazi, which twenty years ago started Bodrum on its luxury travel trajectory, for much of its early touristic life the destination was serviced by bargain basement charter flights filled with cheap and cheerful sunshine seekers. The plethora of superyachts parked in and around Paradise Bay and its surrounding crystalline waters today, together with six-star spas, supermodels and billionaires sipping expensive malts and magnums of fine bubbly, have all arrived in recent years. Nowadays the pretty Turkish peninsula is a go-to destination for discriminating travellers, and has done a rather good job of setting to one discreetly fenced-off side, its once widespread image of tourist hordes, cheap bars and all-night discos. When in 2005 Kempinski opened a delightful 173-room resort overlooking Barbaros Bay, there soon followed a noticeable increase in the number of gullets (traditional Turkish wooden sailing boats) in the waters around Bodrum, and increasingly larger yachts began to appear more regularly, the like of which had previously dropped anchor in the Caribbean for the European winters. Next came 36-cottage Amanruya in 2011, a then eye-wateringly pricey (for the area) ultra-exclusive Aman property. Beautifully laid out on multiple levels of a hillside, amidst an ancient olive grove, Amanruya is skilfully bedded into its

surroundings by a strong architectural synergy to regional villages, and further elevated Bodrum’s hospitality image, just 75-minutes flying time south of Istanbul. The introduction of direct flights from a number of important travel hubs, not least London and Dubai, positively beckoned premium class passengers to at least investigate Turkey’s premier resort town and Aegean coast yachting center. Since then, top end travellers have kept coming back, and some would say that this class of holidaymaker now outnumbers the budget brigade, at the very least in their spending power. Mandarin Oriental is an iconic Asian luxury hotel group which prides itself on its excellent service, high quality accommodations, Asian authenticity and top global locations. In short, the brand provides 21st century luxury with oriental charm and finesse in some of the world's most desirable destinations. So, Mandarin’s first Turkish outpost was always going to be very special. Purpose built to cater for people who take their holidaying very seriously, and opened in 2014 to much fanfare, Mandarin Oriental Bodrum is a sprawling ultra-elite resort of 129 oversized guestrooms, suites, apartments and villas, all of which are amongst the largest five-star lodgings on the peninsula. Each has its own sun-deck, terrace or

balcony, and many have lush private gardens and generous infinity pools. Irrespective of size, every guest room is dedicated to the art of vacationing, from the spacious 72m2 entry-level garden view rooms, which are bigger than many a standard hotel suite, to the bulletproof 7-bedroom presidential villa coming in at EUR 40k/night. And once inside the complex there is basically no reason to leave, since absolutely everything one could possibly wish for whilst on holiday is quite literally at the end of a cobblestoned path, timber boardwalk or ‘0’ on the phone. Pretty much everything has been designed with exclusivity in mind. A fleet of leather-upholstered buggies swish guests around in the appropriate fashion, between the sumptuous three-storey spa complete with VIP penthouse and garden cabanas, Blue Beach Club on the edge of the Aegean, a multitude of gastronomic options, and jetties against which superyachts are routinely moored whilst their passengers dine on innovative Japanese fare at Kurochan by Ioki, overlooking the resort’s main sands. The possibilities for eating, drinking, reclining and enjoying life to the full are seemingly endless within the portals of this idyllic 60-hectare vacation paradise. As I’ve always said, luxury is different things to different people. For some, space and time and freedom is all they’ve ever wanted. For others, rich fabrics, deep Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 95

duvets, plush drapes and cashmere blankets make their world go around. In the case of a Mediterranean Suite at Mandarin Oriental Bodrum, the luxury inimitably lies in the height, light, design and, most of all, the attention to interior detailing. This is one exceptionally well planned and executed suite, delivering perfectly on all the levels one would expect at its price point. What strikes you immediately, once through the gloriously tall solid wood entrance doors, is the sense of serenity and calm which permeates the large loft-like space. This is thanks to the abundance of natural daylight which floods in through 12-metres of floor-to-ceiling doors filling one wall of the lounge – which open onto a private garden and pool – plus two giant skylights, one of which illuminates the bathroom from above. Married with the liberal use of different types of stone and timber, not to mention Turkish rugs and naturally coloured furnishings, cushions and curtains, the overall effect is one of immense warmth and calm quite literally from the moment you enter. Dark wood tables with dark green marble surfaces, and timeless teak armchairs meticulously upholstered, are juxtapositioned with grooved white stone walls which add a subtle touch of 70s glam. Furniture of varying heights – including a cool high-top table topped with a slab of locally quarried stone and surrounded by 96 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017


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chunky solid wood stools – draw the eye to all parts of the space, which serves as an extension to the pool deck when the massive 3m square doors are fully open. Off the lounge, a stainless-steel kitchenette is connected to the real world via a separate entrance so butlers can discreetly deliver room service, and a guest powder room is laden with Shanghai Tang toiletries. Outside, the enclosed private gardens and large infinity pool – the latter lined in rich Verde Guetamala sourced from India – combine to create the perfect ode to al fresco eating, poolside lounging and sun worshipping in supreme style, complete with a huge curtained day bed, outdoor shower, oversized loungers and dining for six. In the bedroom, night lights are discreetly built into bespoke hand-woven leather headboards, bedside table panels feature a ‘blackout’ button which works to a tee, soft furnishings abound in soothing tones, and more floor-to-ceiling doors slide open towards the private back garden. In the spacious master bath, a beige deep-soaking tub sits a few metres away from a long vanity topped with handmade porcelain bowls finished in a stunning cracked turquoise glaze. A massive walk-in shower enclosure at one end of the room boasts a variety of showering options and doubles up as a steam room. Since the design and décor is so spot on, artwork, flowers and objet d’art would be superfluous anywhere within this suite. Such design perfection is not easy to achieve in any environment, let alone hotels, which are notorious for their louche impersonality. Acclaimed international designer, Antonio Citterio, is to be applauded for so perfectly executing such sweet accommodation, to not only take full advantage of the resort’s outstanding vistas across Cennet Koyu, but also allow guests to feel at one with nature. I am rarely one to stay behind closed doors, especially when presented with the excitement of a new destination. Blurring the lines between inside and out, rendering everything as one immaculate Mandarin Oriental hospitality world, so perfectly designed was my Mediterranean Suite that, despite the lure of happening beach clubs and gourmet restaurants mere minutes from my abode, I was reluctant to leave it for the duration of my time in Bodrum. On check-out day, I extended my departure time as late as I possibly could without offending the hosts at my next stop. Next time, perhaps it would be easier not to check out at all. Nicholas Chrisostomou stayed in a Mediterranean Suite at Mandarin Oriental Bodrum in September 2017, when the nightly rate was EUR 3,725 inclusive of breakfast and taxes.

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SALON DU CHOCOLAT Models attired in couture outfits made entirely from chocolate, line-up at the end of a fashion show at the annual Salon Du Chocolat festival in Paris 28 October - 1 November 2017


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To say that air travel has come a long way since 1930, when the first stewardesses of Boeing Air Transport lined-up for inspection, would be a gross understatement. To say that air travel has changed in the past decade or two would also be understating it somewhat. The truth of the matter is that air travel is constantly evolving. Whether it is all good, or progressive, is a completely different subject for discussion. These days it is barely possible to keep up with the changing way we fly through the skies. We now have double decker jets capable of carrying six hundred or more people in one aircraft. If the hype is to be believed, before long we will once again be hurtling around the globe, on the edge of the earth’s atmosphere, at supersonic speeds. Not to mention space tourism, and the possibility of air travel taking us into another galaxy (well, perhaps not quite that far, yet). Let’s be honest though, with the exception of the space tourism, Etihad’s one-bedroom on-board ‘Residence’, and Virgin Atlantic generally (we’ll 104 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

come to Richard Branson later), how often to do you hear something about air travel these days that’s fabulous, fashionable or glamorous?! The introduction of new routes is not really aviation news anymore. The unveiling of a massive new terminal may just about make the front page of the air travel press. Even many of today’s premium cabins just contain bigger seats, offer better food and are presided over by more experienced and patient crew. It really is a sorry state of affairs when an airline issues a global press release about a new amenity kit! All of this comes down to one thing: Sadly, there is simply very little glamour in our skies today. But this wasn’t always the case. Security measures have obviously changed the way we fly but these are unavoidable. Tedious travel restrictions don’t exactly elevate the passenger experience. Moving through a humungous airport terminal, which handles tens of millions



of passengers per year, is like being processed through an aviation factory and really no fun at all. So today, when our carry-on bags are stuffed with in-flight survival necessities, like eye masks, noise-cancelling headsets and Valium (to numb the entire experience), it’s hard to imagine the glory days of aviation, back when air travel was glamorous and elite, and flight attendant style went far beyond the standard issue uniforms of today. But at aviation’s most glamorous height, flying was a special occasion that necessitated passengers dress to impress. Full meals were served with real silverware (even in economy), and flight attendants were expected to fulfil certain physical and beauty criteria in order to walk the aisles in the sky. High fashion is not exactly the first thing that springs to mind when, as a passenger, you step on board a plane in 2017 and are greeted by cabin crew. On the contrary, the ultra-conservative two-piece suits most flight attendants wear are downright dull and dreary. But for every dowdy SOUTHWEST AIRLINES, 1973

uniform you see on-board today's airlines, there’s an incredibly rich history of stylish designer airline threads, that stretches back to the golden age of aviation. At one point, many top couture houses counted an airline amongst their clients. Pierre Cardin, Christian Dior, Emilio Pucci, Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent and Valentino all designed bespoke flight attendant uniforms, back in the day.


It’s not difficult to trace the trajectory of the flight attendant uniform, from its sober pre-WWII beginnings, to its glamorous mid-century glory days, through decades of enjoying the haute couture treatment, followed by its sad decline to the dull-as-dishwater uniforms we largely see now (with one exception). In 1930, after convincing Boeing Air Transport (now United) that the presence of on-board nurses would help passengers overcome their fear of flying, Ellen Church became the very first airline “stewardess”. Seven other ladies soon joined Church's team, but since they had to be registered nurses, their uniforms were basically nurse’s attire, made of dark green wool, with matching green and grey wool capes, complete with caps. Since then, when efficient, caped nurses became the first stewardesses, it's been a tradition for flight attendants to look good while ensuring that passengers are comfortable and safe, and for the next decade or so, all stewardess uniforms looked alike. Basically, the only colours used were navy blue, dark green and brown for winter uniforms, and light blue, light green and beige for summer uniforms. All very conservative.


WWII saw the emergence of slightly more feminine, less conservative uniforms, not least because there were widespread crackdowns on the use of fabric for non-military purposes. As soon as WWII was over, the airline industry exploded with the introduction of the jumbo jet. Commercial airlines could hold more passengers, which meant that prices became more accessible for the average person. All of a sudden, anyone on a middle-class salary could afford air travel, which is something that had never been so available before. This saw the role of the stewardess develop, and soon they became associated with jet-setting and a free-spirited cosmopolitan lifestyle. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 107

During the late 1950s and 1960s, when commercial flight really began to take off and fast became a booming business, more airlines launched and suddenly inter-airline competition intensified. This caused airlines to explore how they differentiate themselves. Before long they began to turn to fashion designers and ad agencies to cultivate a sexier image for their flight attendants, and they all wanted the prestige of a big-name designer attached to their brand. For the fashion house, airlines promised large-scale ad campaigns that were almost certain to get their designs noticed, and attract a large amount of publicity to the designer and the label, so it was a win-win for everyone. In the mid-60s - when the Space Race coincided with the rise of air travel - Braniff International Airways capitalised on the excitement of the moment by hiring advertising exec Mary Wells Lawrence to mastermind the airline's brand identity. Lawrence in turn hired designer Alexander Girard to work on the ad campaign, and together they brought on-board the Florentine fashion designer Emilio Pucci, synonymous with geometric prints in a kaleidoscope of colours. Pucci essentially turned aviation marketing on its head overnight. Whether this was intentional or not we will never know. But his psychedelic flight attendant outfit – known as the "Supersonic Derby” – was an aviation show-stopper. Comprising a geometric printed nylon dress with matching tights and a bowler hat, the uniforms were a theatrical take on Italian high fashion meets intergalactic travel. Pucci even designed an astronaut-inspired glass helmet called a “rain dome”, to protect stewardesses’ hairdos on the journey from the hotel via the terminal to the plane. Sadly, the impractical glass helmets only lasted a month, since there was nowhere to put them in-flight, but the fact that they were even produced, and worn for a time, says a great about the glamour and excitement associated with the aviation industry in the 1960s. There was even a somewhat titillating marketing campaign for Braniff, called the “Air Strip”, featured a Pucci-designed uniform with several layers that could be removed inflight. The TV commercial even went so far as to depict a stewardess performing an airborne striptease. Of course, once Braniff turned the stewardess into a fragrantly sexual icon, other airlines soon followed. This culminated in Southwest Airlines 108 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017


throwing caution to the wind with its 1973 stewardess attire, which included thigh-high laced-up kinky boots and hot pants. Perhaps this was a step too far! Thanks to the revolutionary fashion of Dior and the popularity of Chanel, the two-piece suit became the basis of almost every flight attendant uniform in the ‘70s and ‘80s. All that really changed in these two decades were the length of the hemlines, the width of jacket lapels and the size of the padded shoulders. Conservatism was back in the skies, and until very recently, uniforms were uninteresting. The noticeable lack of glamour in our skies was remedied only relatively recently by the grande dame of British high fashion, Vivienne Westwood, whose punk attitude is more alive now than in the movement's Seventies heyday. Westwood designed cutting-edge new uniforms to mark the 30th anniversary of Virgin Atlantic – incorporating her well-tailored, figure-hugging signatures – which are now worn by over 7,500 members of staff, including cabin crew, pilots and ground staff. The pairing of Westwood and Branson came as a surprise to many, considering the designer’s outspoken views on sustainability and unnecessary waste. However, “sustainability” is the watchword when it comes to Westwood’s 22-piece collection for Virgin, which includes the use of a polyester yarn made from recycled plastic bottles, a nano finish to help retain colour and extend garment life, and bags for ground staff that came about as a result of a United Nations collaboration with the Ethical Fashion Initiative in Nairobi. Yet the ‘40s-inspired uniforms for Virgin’s high-flying crew don’t sacrifice beautiful design and strong tailoring. On the contrary, standouts include a bright red jacket – inspired by the Bettina jacket Westwood designed in the early '90s – paired with a matching red pencil skirt and red shoes with an hourglass heel (a Westwood signature). Meanwhile the guys are sporting sharp, three-piece burgundy wool suits inspired by Savile Row tailoring. Let’s hope that Westwood’s collection for Virgin has kick-started the reintroduction of some glamour into our skies. Like the return of supersonic air travel, and rocket-powered craft taking us into space for a weekend jaunt, we can but dream. 110 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017




PUSHKAR CAMEL FAIR A coiured camel waits with its handler to be paraded past judges at the annual camel fair in Pushkar, an Indian town bordering the Thar Desert in Rajasthan 28 October - 4 November 2017

ALEX BENASULI takes a jaunt to the beautiful Balearic island of Mallorca, for a helping of end of season Spanish sun at a classic full-service deluxe resort

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he largest of Spain’s Balearic Islands has been one of Europe’s most popular holiday destinations for decades. Blessed with 300 sunny days every year, together with warm temperatures that stretch from mid-March to mid-October, Mallorca has something for everyone. Long, sandy beaches and more intimate rocky coves serve as the backdrop to historic sites, exclusive marinas, happening beach clubs and quality seafood restaurants. Traditional communities are interspersed with luxury villas and more commercial tourist districts, in a way that doesn’t compromise the sheer beauty of this stunning Spanish island. Away from the coast, mountain ranges carve up in the interior into peaks, valleys and plains of immaculate stone villages, groves of almond and olive trees, pine forests and Mallorquin windmills. Because Mallorca was ruled by the Moors for 300 years, a lot of place names sound a little Arabic. You can visit bodegas and vineyards in Binissalem, the heart of Mallorca’s boutique wine industry. Or pick oranges in the beautiful valley of Sóller, which is particularly gorgeous during the first few months of the year when the fruit are ripe. And the mountains in the south-west, between Andratx and Cap Deia, are simply stunning to cruise through, especially in a cabriolet. Palma, the island’s seafront capital, is a bustling city of 400,000 with one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain, centuries of history and vibrant arts, shopping and gastronomic scenes. Sun worshippers and boating aficionados enjoy the sandy beaches and coastal scenery. Nature lovers adore exploring the island’s many national parks. Culture vultures are drawn to the handful of villages that have fostered artists for generations. And foodies revel in the burgeoning agro tourism scene, which has opened up to visitors Mallorca’s ecology, farming, local gastronomy and island customs. Whether you like your holiday chilled and relaxed or full of activities, it’s easy to see why Mallorca’s all-round appeal is so alluring. There are times in life when only a full-service luxury resort will do. When that resort is set in its own, private sprawling garden complex, in the shadow of the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range and directly in front of the tranquil Mediterranean, then even better. Add to this the reputation for sophistication and modern luxury that have become defining characteristics of the St. Regis brand, and you basically have the makings of a hospitality winner.

Twenty minutes from Palma’s well-connected international airport, St. Regis Mardavall, located on Mallorca’s southwestern coast, is a true destination within a destination, and epitomises the essence of a classic high-end resort hotel. A long driveway flanked by mountain vistas and Mediterranean landscaping, leads arriving guests to the property’s main building, of three. Designed in traditional Mallorquin finca style - in a combination of stone, ochre stucco, tiling and exposed timber – it is imposing yet not grandiose. Check-in takes place on one of the hotel’s numerous terraces, which offer views over perfectly manicured lawns towards the sparkling blue sea. Welcome drinks and light bites ease the arrival process, as the welcoming and efficient

reception staff take care of all the formalities, and promptly ensure that guests feel right at home and begin to relax in the first moments of their stay. Soaking up gentle sea breezes, and adapting to the calm of such a gorgeous spot and unhurried pace of life, is quite a start to one’s holiday. One of the hallmarks of the St. Regis experience is the brand’s renowned butler service and its Mardavall property is no exception. Professional butlers help guests unpack, serve complimentary coffee and newspapers each morning, arrange for clothes to be pressed and are generally available 24/7. St. Regis does butlering very well indeed. And, knowing that one’s personal butler is but a button away, is a somewhat decadent luxury that utterly elevates the guest experience to another level.

Once installed in a guest room and unpacked, one’s shoes can come off and travel clothes swapped for pool and beachwear. The hotel’s 125 rooms and suites are large, and the vast majority have full or partial sea views. All have terraces. Even entry-level room categories have separate sitting and work areas. Beds are enormous and supremely comfortable. Bathrooms feature double washbasins, big bathtubs and walk-in showers. Terraces are sufficiently ample to dine al fresco, as well as recline on comfy deck chairs draped with blankets on slightly chillier evenings outside of the mid-summer months. Suites come in various configurations and some include jacuzzis, kitchenettes and private plunge pools. Families have the added benefit of being able to select rooms that can interconnect to form

serviced apartment-style vacationing. All guest accommodations will be remodelled and upgraded when the property closes in mid-November. Come early spring 2018, visitors will experience a more contemporary and bold, yet elegant palette. Rooms will feature wood floors and a more classic Mediterranean look will prevail, with dark blue accents offsetting the gorgeous natural light that fills every room. Early mornings on the terrace, sipping freshly brewed coffee, nibbling on warm croissant and perusing my newspaper of choice, with the sea in front of me, was sublime. Large expanses of well-manicured and luxuriant gardens, together with lush green lawns, beckon from every Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 119

angle. A barefoot stroll across the garden is the best shortcut to the swimming pool, cascading over three levels and rumoured to be the largest in Mallorca. Comfy chairs for lounging surround the pool, and are strategically placed in clusters amidst the greenery, providing guests with a degree of space and privacy. Canopied outdoor beds cater to those who take their chillaxing more seriously. Taking short walks around the grounds, thick blades of grass underfoot, exploring the different vantage points of the sea and shady spots beneath the trees, are a great way to pass the time while expertly pursuing the art of lounging. Inevitably St. Regis Mardavall is popular with families, particularly during school holidays. In another section of the garden, close enough for parents to stroll over and check up on their brood but far enough away so as not hear them, the hotel’s kids club comprises two shaded swimming pools and a club house, and provides all manner of organised activities for younger guests. This set-up skillfully keeps the main pool primarily for adults, while children have their own domain in which to have the time of their lives. Spa and wellness fans will likely fall in love with St. Regis Mardavall. An oasis of tranquility, its Arabella Spa is truly exceptional and offers the most extensive variety of treatments on the island. Like a hidden Atlantis within the resort, an indoor pool flows into an outdoor pool, with another array of lounging areas for those seeking more privacy. Guests unwind in saunas, steam baths and an Egyptian saltwater pool. More than a dozen treatment rooms offer everything from nail care and traditional massages to luxuriant rituals and anti-aging therapies. Two dedicated traditional Chinese medicine doctors are on hand to delve into their millennia-long heritage, and address everything from sleep issues to digestion and joint pains. Chinese medicine is not only about acupuncture and acupressure - bespoke herbal remedies and teas are an intrinsic part of treatments, and leave guests feeling personally looked after and recharged. Spending half a day or even a few hours at Arabella Spa is akin to temporarily tapping into a fountain of youth. Whilst St. Regis Mardavall is a relaxed place and positively encourages bare feet and beachwear by day, you might be tempted to smarten up a touch of an evening. Champagne cocktails and canapés are served nightly. Es Fum, the hotel’s intimate and elegant gourmet restaurant, was awarded a Michelin star in 2011 for its

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innovative and exquisite cuisine. Any restaurant that starts a meal off with not one, or two, but five different flavoured butters, will always have a place in my heart. Hibiscus infused sea salt was a first and hopefully not the last, and my main of creamy rice adorned with langoustines and prawns, served with a grapefruit vinaigrette, was literally to die for. The five to seven-course Mediterranean, seasonal and local produce-inspired tasting menus, prepared under the direction of talented chef de cuisine José Miguel Navarro, are exceptional and worth splashing out for, especially with wines expertly paired by sommelier Javier Gómez. Dining al fresco on Es Fum’s timeless terrace, whilst taking in the picture postcard views, is a gastronomic

treat not to be missed when on Mallorca, whether staying at the hotel or not. ( It is tempting to never leave the grounds during one’s stay at St. Regis Mardavall, since residents are so spoilt for choice. Either stay onsite, de-stress, unwind and allow yourself to be pampered, or venture out of the hotel and become immersed in the endless possibilities that the island has to offer. As tempting as the latter may sound, trust me, once your shoes are off and your body is kissed by the sun, it’s not easy to put them back on. I could have easily stayed nestled in between the mountains and seas, amidst the bucolic lushness and five-star facilities of St. Regis Mardavall, for a very long time. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 123



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In the heart of the world’s most fashionable city, The Peninsula Paris is a magnificently restored neo-classical palace with walls that could tell a thousand tales – of Proust and Picasso, war heroes and villains, international peace treaties and romantic rendezvous. DAWN GIBSON finds out how the Grande Dame of La Belle Époque is setting new standards for top-tier luxury


ess than ten minutes’ walk from the Arc de Triomphe and fronting one of the grand avenues which radiate from the iconic monument, The Peninsula Paris is the essence of French style set in stone. Opened in August 2014 by the high-end hospitality group Peninsula, as its first foray into the European market, the hotel and The Cultured Traveller both celebrate their third anniversaries this year. The building had lain dormant for years before a painstaking, multi-million-Euro restoration simultaneously revitalised the truly magnificent edifice while discretely installing the array of 21st century facilities expected by the most demanding of cosmopolitan travellers. In a city where space has always been at a premium, The Peninsula Paris proudly fills an entire block fronting gracious,

tree-lined Avenue Kléber, a short stroll from the designer boutiques of the Champs-Élysées and many of the city’s most famous landmarks. Even the most well-travelled guest would be hard-pressed not to feel a mild thrill watching the sun go down over the Eiffel Tower while enjoying the 360-degree vistas from L’Oiseau Blanc restaurant on the hotel’s rooftop. Originally named the Majestic when it opened in 1908 - during the heady days of La Belle Époque - the hotel’s connections to high society and royalty date back more than 150 years. A wealthy Russian nobleman built a palace on the site in 1864, which he sold to a representative of Queen Isabella II of Spain in 1868, when revolution forced her to seek exile in Paris. The Queen abdicated two years later and continued to live in her Paris home, then called the Palais de Castille, until her death in 1904. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 127

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Hotel mogul Leonard Tauber became the new owner and constructed the Majestic, retaining some of the vestiges of the old Spanish palace, including Queen Isabella’s marble bath. The landmark hotel, a classic French building featuring Haussman and neo-classical detailing, swiftly became a favourite with the crème de la crème of Paris. Its reputation as the place to be seen was given a stellar boost by a legendary dinner party in 1922, held in a private room after the premiere of Stravinsky’s newest work, Renard, at the Opéra Garnier. Joining the famous composer at the after-party were some of the leading lights of the 20th century art world, including Pablo Picasso, James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Ballets Russes’ founder Sergei Diaghilev. The conversation must have fizzed with as much sparkle as the champagne. The Majestic’s elite reputation was further cemented when George Gershwin composed An American in Paris while staying in a suite at the hotel in 1928. On an equally fascinating but more sober note, the building’s past is intimately entwined with some of the 20th century’s greatest conflicts. It served as a military hospital in WWI, and was used as the headquarters of the German high command during the occupation of Paris in WWII – a failed plot to assassinate Hitler was concocted by a rebel officer from his rooms on the second floor. The building was the first headquarters of UNESCO from 1946 until 1958, and provided the setting for the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973. If you have a tipple in Le Bar Kléber you will be standing in the salon where the Vietnam War was officially brought to a close. After such an eventful past, it is only fitting that the building has been reincarnated as one of Paris’ most opulent hotels. The four-year restoration project employed more than 900 talented artisans, many from traditional French family firms. The badly damaged exterior façade required the work of 40 stonemasons, with each individual stone flower and bow taking days to complete. A wealth of fine marble, mosaics, gold leafing, mouldings, wood carvings and fine paintings were preserved and restored using the same techniques and finishes as the originals, under the watchful eyes of some of France’s best heritage experts. For example, two paintings on the ceiling of Le Lounge Kléber were restored by Cinzia Pasquali, who has restored paintings by da Vinci at the Louvre and Versailles. The attention to detail is staggering – a total of 1,000 pieces of woodwork were restored, while 20,000 pieces of gold leaf were used. Throughout the aim was to preserve the authenticity and opulent beauty of the hospitality grande dame, while leading her gracefully into the 21st century. The result is an


extraordinary 200-room hotel which thoroughly deserves the accolade of ‘Palace’, bestowed upon it a year ago by Atout France, the French tourism development agency. The award is an official recognition given only to a select number of five-star hotels that meet stringent criteria, as well as boasting elements such as an exceptional location or history. The opulence of the décor is abundantly apparent from the moment you enter Le Lobby, which skilfully treads the fine line between lavish and ostentatious. Highly polished marble floors are matched by high gilded and painted curved ceilings. The walls are a palatial combination of cream and gold. The furniture is modern and sophisticated in a matching palette. A glass room divider brilliantly scatters the light from the bespoke chandeliers in a dozen different directions. The message of the hotel’s principal

interior designer Henry Leung is clear: harmony and contrast in everything, both old and new. Visible through the vast windows is one of the biggest al fresco dining terraces in Paris, where guests contentedly sip their café au lait whilst choosing between Continental, American or Chinese breakfasts, the latter including the likes of caramelised pork bun and congee with beef, one of the many nods to Peninsula’s Asian heritage. The most striking feature of a second grand (though slightly less extravagant) entrance off a side avenue, is a magnificent installation of 800 hand-blown glass leaves by Czech workshop Lasvit, inspired by the plane trees which are a ubiquitous feature of the Parisian streetscape. Surrounded by cool marble, the leaves appear to be dancing in the air before falling into a symbolic pond - a Bhutanese

rock sculpture at the installation’s base. It is one of two Lasvit installations in the hotel – the other is ‘Pearl Necklace’ in the Rotunda, a 300kg crystal light sculpture inspired by 19th century Czech jewellery. Observant guests will notice a striking range of contemporary works around every corner, by artists including Ben Jakober, Xavier Corbero, Nathalie Decoster, José Pedro Croft, Michel Alexis and Ran Hwang. As one would expect when rates start at EUR 950 per night, the guest rooms at The Peninsula Paris are sumptuous even by luxury standards. All are exceptionally large, with superior and deluxe rooms ranging from 30m2 to 50m2, while the suites are some of the most spacious in Paris. A deluxe room is akin to a sophisticated, well-designed city centre pad, decorated in a calming palette of neutrals. A petite balcony overlooks a quiet street. There is a well-appointed desk and sitting area as well as a spacious

dressing room with generous luggage and wardrobe space. And a large, exquisite all-marble bathroom boasts a deep soaking bathtub, separate rain shower and double basins. Throughout, the décor deftly blends Asian and European influences. A contemporary abstract painting may add a splash of crimson to one wall, whilst a single white orchid standing in a simple black vase accessorises another, and a dainty porcelain Chinese tea service sits next to the coffee machine. All of this exquisite attention to detail sits side-by-side with state-of-the-art technology. Customised, interactive bedside and desk tablets control everything from the lighting to the room temperature, as well as the ubiquitous concealed large screen TV. And there are a number of thoughtful little touches designed to elevate the guest experience, including a valet box so guests can receive their freshly laundered clothes without being disturbed, and a nail polish drying station. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 131

While there is not space here to detail the hotel’s six divine bars and restaurants, two are particularly notable. Cantonese fine dining restaurant LiLi is exceptional for both its ambience and cuisine – the décor taking its cue from Chinese and Western opera, with backdrops of traditional costumes and headdresses, Chinese wood carvings and towering red drapes adding a dramatic flair amplified by the theatrical approach to service. Also not to be missed is the rooftop terrace on the sixth floor, where you can drink in the outstanding views whilst sipping a cocktail or two. One final recommendation: make time for a treatment at the beautifully appointed day spa. One of the city’s largest, it’s worth heeding the advice to arrive an hour before your treatment time to take full advantage of the facilities. The thermal suite includes one of the most relaxing steam

rooms I have ever experienced - a warm cocoon of curved tiled benches and soothing ceiling lights. A Cha Ling massage in the hands of therapist Berenice will round off your stay in an advanced state of euphoria. It is understandably difficult to leave The Peninsula Paris, even if only after a short stay. The very best hotels can imbue a truly unique feeling in a guest: the sense of finding a sumptuous haven; a hotel whose staff are so good at their jobs that one feels that everything is effortlessly attended to with genuine warmth, and, finally, a place where elegance and style blend seamlessly. The restoration was indeed a massive and hugely expensive undertaking, but cultured travellers will undoubtedly be thankful for decades to come.

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TRAVELLER LOWDOWN Few people realise when they land in Bahrain that they have actually touched down in the country’s capital, Manama, a city so influenced by the Portuguese and Persians that it’s overflowing with historic and cultural must-see sites. DILRAZ KUNNUMMAL gives us her insider guide to the bustling Gulf metropolis, which is as renowned throughout the region for its vibrant nightlife scene as it is for its Middle Eastern authenticity.




sland of pearls, land of smiles and home to the ancient enigmatic Dilmun civilisation, the tiny kingdom of Bahrain has many monikers. Located in the Persian Gulf, over the years the country has become an increasingly popular destination for seasoned travellers, not least due to its unique mix of culture, tradition and modernity, married with natural vistas and architectural marvels, populated by wonderfully warm and welcoming people. Moreover, like Oman, Bahrain has managed to retain much of its traditional character, charm and values. Although the smallest GCC country, the archipelago of 33 islands (of which just two are populated - Manama and Muharraq) has plenty to offer anyone who lands on its shores - from sites seeped in history to natural wonders, and fine dining to blissful beach resorts. While Muharraq is the soul of the country’s ancient pearl trading industry, Hawar Island (a 45-minute boat ride from Manama) is where sea turtles lay their eggs in the sand. Bahrain is nothing if not a country of pleasurable extremes.

Bahrain’s historical significance dates back many millennia, to a time when it was known as Dilmun, a Semitic-speaking country, mentioned throughout the history of Mesopotamia from the 3rd millennium BC onwards. Regarded as one of the oldest civilisations in the Middle East, Dilmun was also one of the most prosperous. Such historical influences continue to be evident in modern day Bahrain. Recent years have seen the country’s capital, Manama, bloom into a veritable Middle Eastern paradise for residents and visitors alike. Sprawling malls, hospitality gems and entertainment venues enhance the city’s understated regional trendsetting reputation. Notably, in 2004 Bahrain was the first country in the Middle East to host Formula One’s swirl of supercars. The high-profile event has been staged yearly ever since, with the exception of 2011, when, due to the Arab Spring, the country was engulfed in protest and the race had to be cancelled. Located barely 15 minutes from the country’s main airport, for many, Manama, Bahrain’s capital, never really sleeps. Late night eateries and bustling coffee shops vie with a seemingly 24-hour nightlife scene to keep the city’s tourists, Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 137


entrepreneurs, high-flying execs, Gulf residents and holidaying celebs entertained. From the beginning of the weekend, the 16-mile King Fahd Causeway (which links Bahrain to the wealthy but strictly proscriptive neighbouring Saudi Arabia to the south) is jammed with cars and SUVs, as Arabs from other Gulf states pour into Bahrain to enjoy its relative freedoms. In Manama there’s a myriad of options to set up base camp. From five-star hotels in the heart of the city to relaxed beach resorts on its outskirts, the capital of Bahrain provides a wide range of lodging options to rest one’s head, sufficient to satisfy the needs of every type of traveller, from those on a budget to the world’s most demanding. Situated on its own private island accessed by causeway, yacht or water-taxi, the soaring contemporary architectural statement made by Four Seasons Hotel Bahrain Bay – Manama’s most luxurious hospitality address – positively exudes opulence and dominates the city’s skyline. Boasting unparalleled facilities, each of the 273 guest rooms and suites at this deluxe urban resort, features unobstructed 138 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

Late night eateries and bustling coffee shops vie with a seemingly 24-hour nightlife scene to keep the city’s tourists, entrepreneurs, high-flying execs, Gulf residents and holidaying celebs entertained

vistas across the crystalline waters via oversized windows. Incorporating numerous unique design elements and filled with countless original artworks of varying styles, unsurprisingly the hotel has become something of a national landmark and hospitality status symbol within the country. Four Seasons also offers an array of culinary options, including two restaurants by Michelin-starred celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, not least critically acclaimed CUT, a sleek, modern American steakhouse serving the widest and best cuts of meat available. Meanwhile Puck’s Moroccan-inspired bar on the hotel’s 50th floor, Blue Moon Lounge, offers a rich space for guests to relax and enjoy spectacular sunsets and the twinkling lights above the bay until the early hours. ( Hotel Sofitel Bahrain Zallaq Thalassa Sea & Spa, located on Bahrain’s west coast and perched on the pristine beaches of Zallaq overlooking the Arabian Gulf, is as worthwhile visiting for the property’s sumptuous spa as it is for its superb Tapas Restaurant & Bar, which is just one of the many food and beverage outlets scattered around this sprawling 262-room

Business meets


Perfectly placed to make the most of the emirate’s business districts, Roda Al Bustan enjoys close proximity to key commercial locations including Dubai World Trade Centre and Dubai International Financial Centre – making it particularly popular with professional travellers. Just a short drive away, visitors will find shopping malls, Deira City Centre and Dubai Festival City.



Experience award-winning cuisine and

Those eager to sample some of the region’s

impeccable service in a variety of themed

famed Middle Eastern fare should visit

restaurants from casual to fine-dining.

IN ROOM Smart and sophisticated, Roda Al Bustan is home to 279 rooms and suites all elegantly furnished and designed with contemporary touches. Discover the 34 square-metre classic room and premium room with large marble bathroom. For suite options, take your pick from the 55 square-metre classic suite or the 76 square-metre premium suite, both with spacious living rooms and access to the Roda Discovery Club.

Mawal Shisha Café.

HIGH STEAKS For special occasions and intimate


celebrations, look no further than Roda

Relish the relaxed atmosphere of the hotel’s

Grill. Already a firm favourite with many

allday dining venue, Makan. Bright and

of the city’s carnivorous types, this slick

spacious, here guests can take their pick

restaurant boasts a range of prime meat

from an impressive daily buffet spread, a

cuts, with everything from sumptuous

host of live cooking stations or simply

sirloin and rib-eye to tender fillet on offer.

select dishes from the à la carte menu.

ASIAN ACCENTS Roda Al Bustan's selection of cuisine draws from destinations both near and far. Sushi and teppanyaki fans will love Hibachi. Continue your journey across the east at

Casablanca Road, Al Garhoud, P.O. box 30880, Dubai, U.A.E. +971 4 282 0000

Bambooda. The Thai fusion restaurant exudes plenty of charm and a menu that champions Thailand’s vibrant spirit.


resort, which skilfully blends French art de vivre with traditional Bahraini styles. After an afternoon of sublime pampering at the only thalassotherapy complex in the GCC, which offers a vast range of seawater-based treatments, adjourn to the tapas bar for sundowners, inimitable sea views, delicate bites and some live entertainment. Sipping a glass of Pinot here, perhaps accompanied by a little shisha while watching the sun gently setting, is the perfect prelude to a night out in the Bahraini capital. ( In the Seef district of the Manama, the country’s grand hospitality dame, Ritz-Carlton, is immensely popular with Europeans, expats and holidaymakers, a good number of whom can be seen every weekend relaxing within the boundaries of its extensive grounds. In a country whose natural coastline is regularly extended via massive land reclamation projects, Manama’s Ritz-Carlton offers some of the best private beaches (albeit artificial) in the Bahraini capital, complete with its own marina. For those looking to splash some serious holiday cash, the Ritz-Carlton's three-bedroom villas offer unsurpassed beachfront accommodation, each with its own private swimming pool, waited on 24/7 by a bevy of professional butlers. If you can draw yourself away from the hotel’s white sands, the Frida Kahlo inspired décor at the hotel’s excellent Mexican restaurant, Cantina Kahlo, is as memorable as its cuisine, whilst the blended three rum Tiki Puka Puka cocktails at Trader Vic’s are somewhat moreish. Late at night after a hearty meal, the hotel’s Burlington Club is the perfect locale to lounge with a Cuban cigar and fine French cognac. (

the 81-year period when Portugal occupied Bahrain from 1521 until 1602 (when it was pushed out by Persia), the site is also believed to have been the central hub of the Dilmun era and was first inhabited around 2300BC. Understandably the area is much loved by archaeologists, since excavations have revealed a great deal of information about times long gone. ( Many of the country’s most important archaeological finds are contained within the capital’s beautiful Bahrain National Museum, which houses extensive collections ranging from traditional handicrafts and cultural artefacts, to political documents and early currency, all carefully arranged within nine well-curated halls. The museum provides a truly wonderful tour through Bahrain and its history and traditions. Must-sees are the hundreds of years-old pearls found at the Dilmun Civilization Historic Site, as well as the Dilmun Seals. ( History shows that pearl diving was happening in Bahrain more than five millennia ago. Today more than 400mile² of oyster beds still flourish in the country’s warm and shallow waters. Whilst Bahrain's pearl industry may have taken a tumble with the emergence of Japanese cultured pearls in the 1920s, locals still pearl fish for fun. Offering a somewhat unusual aquatic experience, visitors can also dive for pearls (equipped with the appropriate scuba gear, of course) and are allowed to keep whatever they find. (

History shows that pearl diving was happening in Bahrain more than five millennia ago. Today more than 400mile² of oyster beds still flourish in the country’s warm and shallow waters

Dating back at least 5,000 years to the Dilmun civilisation, the country’s forts are its most important excavated sites. Hence, picking one of them is an ideal place to start a day of sightseeing. Bahrain Fort, also known as Qal’at al-Bahrain and a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located in the far north of the main island, 20 minutes-drive from central Manama. Built in the 16th century by the Portuguese, during

Bahrain has one of the largest necropolis in the world. The A’ali Burial Mounds date back to the Dilmun (3200 BC-330 BC), the Umm an-Nar Culture and later eras, and was the final resting place for people of all ages and tiers of society. Recent studies have shown that the estimated 350,000 ancient grave mounds on the site are likely to have been solely produced by the local population over a number of thousands of years. While in A’ali, make time to participate in a local village pottery workshop, all of which use traditional mud kilns. After all, there’s nothing better than making your own souvenir to take home! Back in Manama Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 141

central, EZ Art Pottery creative studio offers a drop-in pottery making class in spacious and well-equipped surroundings ( Meanwhile, to witness some traditional Bahraini arts and crafts, visit the Al Jasra Handicrafts Centre. A traditional house set in the midst of beautiful lush gardens, here a number of artisans showcase their work with textiles, woods and date palm leaves, the latter used to weave baskets and other small items. ( A veritable testament to the power of nature, 142 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

Sharajat-al-Hayat (or Tree of Life) definitely warrants a visit, especially to watch the sunset. Located in the middle of the desert, somehow this Prosopis cineraria tree has survived for more than 400 years in a brutally harsh climate with no obvious source of water. Legend has it that cults once made sacrifices and practiced other rituals around the tree, whilst others say that it is the “tree of life” mentioned in the Bible. For an artistic fix, Bahrain hosts many cultural events throughout the year. These take place all around Manama at different locations, including open-air stages, the National

Theatre, the Cultural Hall and at a variety of historic, traditional buildings which have been lovingly restored during recent years. The Spring of Culture, The Summer Festival and the Music Festival are just a few worthwhile annual events organised by the Authority of Culture and Antiquities. ( For high-end luxury shopping at its best, head to Moda Mall at Bahrain World Trade Centre, where countless international designers have stores, including Armani, Gucci and Hermès ( Other international and local designer wear can be found in malls such as City Center, Seef Mall and AlAli Mall. If you are looking to support local Bahraini designers, Noon by Noor ( and Azza Fine Jewellery ( are two of the most talented. The bustling alleyways of Manama Souq, in the warren of streets behind Bab Al Bahrain, is the place to go for nuts, spices, shisha bottles and a plethora of other Bahraini essentials. Don’t miss the Gold Souq, Kingdom of Perfumes and the Spice Souq. One of the country’s landmarks is Al-Fateh Mosque, one of the largest in the world and open to non-Muslims. Built in the 1990s, the huge domed building also hosts the National Library. Named after the founder of Bahrain, the mosque is open from 9am to 4pm and tours are conducted in a number of languages including English. Finally, to the Kingdom’s vibrant and hugely popular nightlife scene. Manama’s numerous clubs and bars, with their diverse and eclectic mix of DJs and music genres, allow visitors the opportunity to genuinely let their hair down. Ibrida at Ramee Grand Hotel in Seef district ( and KLUB360º at Elite Crystal Hotel are two nightclubs where the city’s who’s who often hang out ( But if it’s just a just a cocktail and dinner you’re after, Txoko sky lounge on the 36th floor of Domain Hotel is popular and always busy with a lively crowd ( There may be a mere 295 square miles of Bahrain in total, but the country and its energetic hub pack a lot of vacation punches. With world-class sporting events, festivals and cultural happenings, to historical sites, entertainment venues and Michelin-starred restaurants - not to mention a world of shopping - Manama offers something for literally everyone in one outgoing, pint-sized short break-friendly capital. 144 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

DĂ?A DE LOS MUERTOS Ghoulish revellers, young and old, creep through the streets of the Mexican city of Oaxaca during the ancient ritualistic Day of the Dead parade 2 November 2017


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he vibrant capital of the land of magical realism, Bogotá stands tall and proud at 2,600 metres above sea level, that much closer to the stars than its many of its South American culinary contemporaries. Lush green mountains surround the city, and the bustling streets of the capital are filled with greenery. The fertile lands of this vast country offer its talented chefs some of the freshest and most tasty produce on the planet. And this is without talking about the country’s vast variety of fruits, many of which are indigenous to Colombia, the fourth most biodiverse country in the world. In short, Colombia’s pantry is immense, providing an incredible array of ingredients. In Colombia chefs have a bigger role to play in delivering dishes from farm to table. In this country, meeting the farmers and hand-picking or growing their own produce are integral practices to the culture of the land. Smoking one's own paprika from scratch, spending hours to make sauces, and, in some cases, even hunting their own meats, 150 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

For a long period of time, the Bogotá restaurant scene was less than elaborate, populated mainly by classic establishments that Colombians would visit only on special occasions. The industry belonged to just a few. But now it is constantly evolving, thanks to young and passionate cooking-driven minds, who hustle to get the freshest, most remote and natural ingredients into their creations and onto their tables. What’s more, they ensure that not only the food tastes good but that the details are also in place. The fortunate diners who live in Bogotá are lucky enough to experience the foodie scene’s rapid and fascinating evolution. And it is still evolving.

elegant and refined, quaint bistros to majestic restaurants, and pavement cafés to fine dining big hitters, you will find every type of eatery on the streets of the Colombian capital. The city has become a world class destination to experience fantastic food, be immersed in unique dining décor and enjoy a variety of distinctly different ambiances. All are windows into the history, agriculture and talent of the Colombian people, and when it comes to their cuisine, Colombians don’t rest until they get it right: from delicious corn-based arepas which are a staple of the country, to traditional homemade ajiaco (chicken and potato soup) which is especially popular in Bogotá, and on to much more elaborate contemporary dishes where the fresh produce is almost always the star.

Today, Bogotá is an adult gastronomic playground, aplomb with a wide variety of restaurants spanning every price point and taste sensation. From the downright industrial to the

Hip and trendy restaurants, which highlight what it means to be Colombian, are popping up more frequently as eating-out and tourism increases. However, since Bogotá is

Colombian cooks take things further than usual, and each bite of their culinary labours is a tasty testament to this.

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a city of contrasts, residents also dine often in classic restaurants that left their culinary mark on the city long ago. Some notable establishments have been catering to the Colombian elite for many years with a more traditional service style and lower profile than the newest and most talked-about of the city’s places to dine. Such variety of restaurant trends afford locals and visitors alike rich pickings when it comes to choosing where to eat and the type of fare. Many of Colombia’s most well-known chefs spent a lot of time abroad, learning their craft and perfecting the cooking techniques they employ today in the kitchens of their restaurants in Bogotá. Their preparations are complex. They foster a mentality of beginning the creation of a dish from scratch and developing it to perfection. And their natural passion for cooking is evident. As a result, Colombian contemporary cuisine is on the rise, and nowhere is this homegrown talent more evident than Mesa Franca, an intimate restaurant that is taking the country’s food status to new gastronomic heights. Exciting, vibrant and delicious: these three words describe both modern Colombian cuisine and Mesa Franca. Bogotá is a city with good taste and fine food, and now, more than ever, young chefs are identifying what contemporary Colombian means for their pride and for the world to enjoy. Since opening its doors at the end of last year in up-and-coming Chapinero neighbourhood, understated Mesa Franca has rapidly become one of the best restaurants in the country. The traditional but restored corner house that is home to Mesa Franca, commemorates the past through its exposed foundations, and acknowledges the present via semi-industrial fittings and steel chairs. The décor is essentially minimalist, warm and comfortable. Boasting four intimate spaces, Mesa Franca has a colourful terrace for warmer days as well as an unpretentious inside dining room and inviting bar adjacent to an open kitchen. The high-top table directly in front of the bar is perfect for a night out with friends who also happen to be foodies. The second floor offers larger spaces for bigger groups, again kitted out in a quasi-industrial yet appealing and comfortable style. Three young personalities make Mesa Franca happen in beautiful culinary unison, and are making names for themselves as restaurateurs to be reckoned with: Sommelier Maria Paula Amador in the dining room, commands her team with love, leadership and tact, as she

strolls through the tables taking orders, chatting with guests, talking about her changing wine list, setting the stage for exquisite meals and presenting dishes that smell like food heaven. Tom Hydzik – originally from Poland – is the creator of a range of delectable hand-crafted cocktails, that combine local fruits and slightly bolder aperitifs. Hydzik’s accomplished bar menu might very well be the envy of some of the world’s most established mixologists. Divided into sections - Spritz’d, Sours, Raspados, High Balls and Aromáticos – I sample a pink pisco with fresh pineapple, spearmint, pisco, aperol and honey. The smooth yet fruity and dry taste left my palate positively animated. Iván Cadena – the star of the kitchen – tends to stand at the other side of the dining room, across from the bar. Looking at his guests from his cooking domain, his contagious excitement always on show, it’s satisfying to see how his young assistants follow him with rigor. Cadena is a young

and passionate chef, rich in both wisdom and experience. Having started his career at Astrid y Gaston, Cadena was a sous-chef for Virgilio Martinez, widely recognised as the best Latin America chef today. Cadena rose rapidly through the ranks. Mesa Franca is the first restaurant where he has accomplished an honest menu that showcases local products cooked with exquisite techniques to great success. Cadena plays with herbs, spices, textures and the presentation of his dishes like no other chef in the country, achieving finesse and subtlety via unique combinations of flavours which explode in the mouth. On the Thursday evening we visited Mesa Franca, it was ‘Salsa vinilo y cochinillo’, with suckling pig the culinary star, to a backdrop of DJ Pantera playing classic salsa using vinyl and turntables. My starter of romaine lettuce hearts with feta cheese, caramelized nuts and a subtle basil-lemon vinaigrette was supremely appetising. The moreish suckling pork dumplings are not to be missed on a Thursday – vegetables and pork

MESA FRANCA Food: Atmosphere: Executive chef: Mixologist: General manager: Address: Telephone: Email: Instagram: Cuisine: Opening hours:

Iván Cadena Tom Hydzik Maria Paula Amador Carrera 6 # 55-09. Chapinero Alto. Bogotá, Colombia +571 805 1787 mesafranca Contemporary Colombian Monday - Wednesday 12:00-15:30 + 18:30-22:00 Thursday & Friday 12:00-15:30 + 18:30-23:00 Saturday 12:00-23:00 Lunch price: Set menu of the day COP25,000 includes a non-alcoholic drink Dinner price: Crunchy lettuce (COP21,000), pork belly (COP29,000), brioche bread & chocolate pudding (COP13,000) Ideal dinner: Daily specials COP25,000 - COP55,000 Reservations: Essential Wheelchair access: Yes but limited Children: Highchairs available. No kids menu Credit cards: Amex, MasterCard & Visa Parking: On street. No valet. Parking lot 4 blocks away Reviewed by Katherine Araujo for dinner on 24th August 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.

flavours playing with the seared texture of the dough and delicate Asian seasonings. And to say that the main course suckling pig was succulent is an understatement. Mesa Franca was conceived out of Amador, Hydzik and Cadena’s love for great restaurants, where the relationships between a restauranteur and its suppliers are close, and where honest Colombian flavours are elevated by creative and ingenious recipes. In Mesa Franca, these three restaurateurs have successfully created a cutting-edge culinary sanctuary, where the finest produce, gastronomic excellence, friendly service, fine wines and delectable cocktails meet together and sing in perfect harmony. This restaurant will without doubt continue to be the talk of the Bogotá food scene for many years to come, and is a destination venue for any serious food lover visiting the Colombian capital and wanting to sample the best cuisine the city has to offer. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 155



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WAS THERE MUCH COOKING IN THE SANDOVAL HOUSEHOLD WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG? Yes, I spent a great deal of time with my grandmother (the matriarch of the family) and pretty much everything revolved around family and food. I remember very large family gatherings where my grandmother would sit at the head of the table surrounded by about 15 family members. Every meal was family-style and all the plates would be passed around the table. Dishes included stuffed chayote squash, black bean soup, chicken with mole poblano, pork loin stuffed with almonds and nuts in a prune mole sauce, chicken mole tamales, roasted poblano soup and pork in pumpkin sauce.

FRENCH RESTAURANTS, “SAVANN” AND “SAVANN EST”. WHY THIS DEPARTURE FROM YOUR GASTRONOMIC HERITAGE? Upon graduation, Savann and Savann Est were my segway into the New York culinary arena, but I always knew that Mexican cuisine was my true calling.

WHAT VALUES DID GROWING-UP IN A FOODIE FAMILY IN MEXICO CITY IMPART ON YOU AS AN ADULT? The most important was respect for ingredients which I still believe in today.

YOUR FLAGSHIP MODERN MEXICAN RESTAURANT “MAYA” IN NEW YORK OPENED IN 1997. FOR THE PAST TWO DECADES IT HAS BEEN CONSISTENTLY RANKED AS ONE OF THE BEST MEXICAN EATERIES IN THE BIG APPLE, WITH NEW YORK MAGAZINE LAUDING IT AS “THE BEST MEXICAN FOR MILES.” WHY DO YOU THINK THIS IS THE CASE AND WHAT IS THE SECRET OF MAYA’S SUCCESS? When Maya opened in 1997, Mexican cuisine in New York was very stagnant and not evolving. Mexican food was often confused with “Tex-Mex” and people were not really tasting authentic Mexican flavours the way they should. Maya was the first to really give New Yorkers the opportunity to taste the great, bold and authentic flavours of my homeland. I think Maya’s success can primarily be attributed to the fact that, for the last 20 years, the restaurant’s culinary program has consistently evolved and given the people of New York multiple reasons to keep coming back.

WHAT ADVICE DID YOUR RESTAURATEUR FATHER GIVE WHEN YOU OPENED YOUR FIRST OUTLET? My father always advised me to have a financial plan in place and understand that if I was going to be successful, I had to treat my restaurants as a business and not a source to feed my ego.

It’s very important to enter markets where I feel people will appreciate my work but most importantly that we bring some added value to the communities where we choose to set up shop

AS A KID WHAT DID YOU WANT TO BE? I grew up playing tennis in high school and university. I then had the privilege of traveling around the world to play my sport – which would later play a huge role in my culinary career. I really wanted to be a professional player since tennis was my first love, but once I started cooking, I realised that there were some similarities. I would get the same adrenaline rush when I was cooking on a busy Friday night as I did playing a tennis match, and I really enjoyed that.

AT WHAT STAGE DID YOU REALIZE THAT COOKING AND RUNNING RESTAURANTS WERE TO BE YOUR VOCATION? Ultimately, around the age of 20, I had to make a choice to either teach tennis or find a new career, and this is when I enrolled at The Culinary Institute of America to pursue my love of food. DO YOU REMEMBER THE FIRST MEAL OR DISH THAT TRULY AWAKENED YOUR PALETTE? The first time I tasted mole made me realise how flavour could really impact a dish. YOUR FIRST OPENINGS WERE BOTH CONTEMPORARY 158 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

YOU ARE KNOWN NOT TO EXPAND JUST TO ADD ANOTHER LOCATION TO HANG UP YOUR CHEF’S TOQUE. WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR OPENING A NEW RESTAURANT? I always like to be challenged and also challenge people. It’s very important to enter markets where I feel people will appreciate my work but most importantly that we bring some added value to the communities where we choose to

set up shop. For example, when I chose to open a restaurant in Dubai 10 years ago, Latin cuisine and culture was virtually non-existent there. However, I believed that the leaders of U.A.E. were very forward-thinking and creating something new there could be very successful. Today, Latin cuisine is probably the fastest growing cuisine in U.A.E.! THE CELEBRITY CHEF HAS BECOME A SOMETHING OF A TREND IN THE GASTRONOMIC WORLD OF TODAY. DO YOU THINK IT HAS IT GONE TOO FAR? Yes, I do, and I feel that the celebrity chef concept is very much a double-edged sword. On the one hand, multiple food channels and cooking-orientated shows have really made the food industry boom, and have given many people the opportunity to learn about and see first-hand all the different cuisines around the world. On the other hand, I feel it is having a negative impact as future generations may enter our industry with the intent of becoming celebrities rather than a passion for food.

WHAT, FOR YOU, ARE THE DOWNSIDES TO THE MEDIA FRENZY SURROUNDING CHEF AND COOKING COMPETITIONS? I feel there is both an upside and a downside. The upside is all the exposure our industry receives, which is, being honest, very good for business. The downside is that eventually, when the primary reason for all the competitions is financial gain and ratings, they become diluted and manipulated and stop being educational and motivational. IT’S WIDELY KNOWN THAT YOU ARE PASSIONATE ABOUT TRAINING THE CHEFS OF THE FUTURE AND YOU’RE ON THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES AT THE CULINARY INSTITUTE OF AMERICA. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE AN EMERGING CHEF TODAY? My recommendation to emerging chefs is to never forget why you entered the industry in the first place. In the whirlwind of our passion for food, some chefs seem to forget that our industry is all about creating unforgettable gastronomic experiences.

I have always said the difference between being a good chef and great chef is paying attention to all the small details that make a dish great

160 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017 Best Restaurants Colombia es la única guía de restaurantes en ofrecer una selección rigurosa de las mejores mesas en Colombia. Una compilación de 150 restaurantes entre los mejores, también es la guía más completa: 2 guías impresas, una página web, aplicación de iPhone y nuestro blog de Instagram lo mantendrá actualizado acerca de los chefs más talentosos en Colombia.

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I have always learned a lot more from my mistakes than from my successes

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AFTER MORE THAN TWO DECADES IN THE KITCHEN, INCLUDING MULTIPLE ACCOLADES AND COUNTLESS JUDGING ROLES IN CULINARY COMPETITIONS, WHAT, FOR YOU, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES THAT MAKE A GREAT CHEF STANDOUT FROM A GOOD CHEF? I have always said the difference between being a good chef and great chef is paying attention to all the small details that make a dish great - from the selection of the ingredients and ensuring that everything is correctly seasoned, through to using the right cooking technique, you are what you inspect not what you expect! WHEN IS THE RIGHT TIME FOR AN EMERGING CHEF TO STRIKE OUT ON HIS OR HER OWN AND OPEN THEIR OWN RESTAURANT? Once a chef has opened a few restaurants using someone else's money, mistakes are very costly. I have always learned a lot more from my mistakes than from my successes. The more restaurants a chef has opened, the better chance an emerging chef will have at succeeding in his or her own restaurant. After all, life is all about experience. OVERSEEING MORE THAN 40 RESTAURANTS ON MULTIPLE CONTINENTS IS NO MEAN FEAT, AND WE KNOW THAT YOU’RE A VERY HANDS-ON OPERATOR. HAVE YOU EVER HAD TO DIG DEEP TO OVERCOME ADVERSITY? PLEASE SHARE ANY WORDS OF WISDOM REGARDING PERSEVERANCE AND SUSTAINING LONGEVITY IN THE NOTORIOUSLY TOUGH CULINARY WORLD. Yes, on many levels I've had to dig deep. Any business owner knows that doing business has its challenges, and there are peaks and valleys, but perseverance usually sees you through. Always give your best no matter what the circumstances are. Life rewards effort and honesty. The key to sustainability is consistency and surrounding yourself with good people. WHAT CHALLENGES DOES OPENING A RESTAURANT IN A COUNTRY SUCH AS QATAR OR UNITED ARAB EMIRATES POSE FOR A CHEF SERVING MEXICAN, LATIN AND PERUVIAN CUISINE? When opening in Doha and Dubai, it was very difficult to find the ingredients we needed. We overcame this by researching and locating similar ingredients in neighbouring countries, such as India where we sourced chilies. But the biggest challenge was introducing a cuisine and flavours that were unfamiliar to these countries, which we overcame by over training our staff and making sure they could engage guests and really

make their experience special. After experiencing something new and special, we hoped that diners would go out of their way to speak to their friends and family about their new culinary experiences in our restaurants and this would have the domino effect. Eventually, everyone in Qatar and U.A.E. was talking about Latin cuisine and it started booming in both countries. PLEASE TELL US ABOUT ONE CREATIVE CULINARY COLLABORATION YOU ARE HUGELY PASSIONATE ABOUT? Zengo, my Latin-Asian restaurant, was a collaboration with an Asian chef. Zengo means “give and take” in Japanese. I hired an Asian chef to collaborate with me on the creation of the menu. I would create a Latin dish and give it to my Asian chef to put his cultural spin on it, and vice versa. This was a really great collaboration. HAS MEXICAN COOKING EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS? Yes, absolutely, and for sure Mexican cooking will continue to evolve. You need only look at tacos, for example. Before you would mostly find only grilled chicken, grilled steak and ground beef, with shredded lettuce and grated cheese. But today you can find all manner of tacos on the menus, including carnitas, chicken tinga and pork al pastor. The latter really is an original fusion food – a cross between Middle Eastern shawarma and the guajillo-rubbed grilled pork served by Mexican street vendors.

Nobuyuki Matsuhisa was the first chef to successfully combine Latin and Japanese cuisines and I always enjoy visiting his Malibu outpost ( At Máximo Bistrot in Mexico City, chef Eduardo Garcia has a unique talent for creating modern French dishes with strong Mexican influences which are bold yet unpretentious ( In New York I love the simple flavours at Momofuko which remind me of Asian markets ( IF YOU WERE TO WRITE AN INSIDER’S GUIDE TO MEXICO WHAT THREE PLACES WOULD YOU INCLUDE? The beautiful low-key beaches of Tulum. I love the small-town feeling of Todos Santos in Baja California Sur, especially its cobblestoned streets lined with tiny artisan shops and the refurbished haciendas in the old part of town. The setting of ten-acre Flora Farm, in the foothills of the Sierra de la Laguna Mountains in Los Cabos, is amazing and unmissable if you’re travelling in the area (

Any business owner knows that doing business has its challenges, and there are peaks and valleys, but perseverance usually sees you through

WHEN YOU’RE HAVING A DAY OFF, WHAT DO YOU LIKE TO COOK AT HOME FOR FRIENDS AND FAMILY? I love to grill good ingredients, with oil, herbs and fresh salsas, at home for my children. DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE COMFORT FOOD THAT YOU PREPARE FOR YOURSELF ALONE? Yes, I love a truly great burger every once in a while, and tacos. APART FROM YOU OWN RESTAURANTS, WHERE ARE YOUR FAVOURITE PLACES TO EAT OUT? 164 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

WHERE IN THE WORLD DO YOU MOST LIKE TO UNWIND AND RELAX? The hospitality of the entire team at Four Seasons in Punta Mita is amazing. The whole property is very special, from the landscaping to the ocean, and the resort itself transports you to place where you can truly unwind. The white-sand beaches and turquoise waters are gorgeous and the sunsets are spectacular. I always leave feeling rejuvenated. (

WHAT NEW RESTAURANT OPENINGS DO YOU HAVE COMING UP? Toro Toro in Abu Dhabi – a Latin American steak house serving ceviche nikkei, pulled pork, arepas and succulent steaks. And Toro Gastrobar at The Viceroy resort at the base of one of Colorado's top ski mountains in Snowmass Village near Aspen. This will be a farm-to-table concept, essentially Latin American cooking without borders.




INGREDIENTS 90g Pink snapper, diced 150g Leche de tigre (recipe) ½ red onion; minced 50mlOrange juice ¼ avocado, diced 20ml olive oil 1 tsp coriander leaves, chopped Roasted sweet potato for garnish

FOR THE LECHE DE TIGRE OR TIGER MILK 300ml Fish stock 700ml lemon Brazilian green juice 10 cloves garlic, or more as desired 1-inch piece Ginger 2 stalks celery (about 80g) 200g White fish 250g White onion 1 tsp, Coriander leaf 4 tsp salt 10 ice cubes 1 tsp Habanero chili (deseed and pith removed)

METHOD • First make the leche de tigre. Mix all the ingredients and blend until smooth. Strain and keep in the fridge so it is very cold. • Prepare the rest of the ingredients and keep separate until you are ready the serve. • When ready to eat, mix the ingredients otherwise the lime will “overcook” the fish. • Season the fish with the salt and mix well. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix. Finally add the leche de tigre and orange juice and mix one last time. • Check the seasoning and serve straight away.

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There’s something about colour that whets the appetite. Simply put, life is just a whole lot more inviting in Technicolour – from the spaces and places we frequent, to our personal style and, most definitely, the food on our plate. In a world of Instagram-obsessed foodies, it better be bold, it better be big and it had better be bright. Grand Hyatt Doha has been home to one such sun-kissed spot since February 2017 – Santa Monica Breakfast Club, or SMBC for short. What began as a pop-up restaurant seven months ago saw the property’s former all-day dining outlet, The Grill, transformed – and has proven so popular Hyatt management ensconced it as permanent fixture as of July. Having undergone a complete face-lift, SMBC is virtually unrecognizable from its predecessor, quickly leaving its mark as one of Qatar’s newest and most original F&B concepts. A bright splash of California sunshine, its ethos is fresh, wholesome and healthy – with an ample dose of the sinfully sweet thrown in to boot. So-Cal comfort food, with a Middle Eastern twist that tantalizes and teases. Walk in and what strikes you like a match is the ambiance. Awash with electric pop-art and vibrant primary colours, the décor instantly lifts your mood and whets your appetite for what’s to come. It’s hard to be a Debbie Downer when you’ve suddenly found yourself in the middle of a South Beach rainbow. This is in large part due to the playful graffiti-style wall murals painted by Achilleas Michaelides aka “Paparazzi”, a Cyprus-based painter, graffiti writer, muralist and street artist, who spent almost a month in Doha working solo at SMBC ( The Sunshine State citruses, bubble-gum pinks and robin’s-egg blues infuse the space with soul. Rough, rustic tones of wood abound throughout, giving it that beach-y boardwalk feel, while living walls of plant and foliage dress the interior in accents of greenery that lend freshness to the interior. Divided into several unique concept areas, SMBC’s off-beat layout makes for a new experience each time you visit – depending on where you sit. Tiffany-blue sofas with cherry-pink pillows offer a leisurely, afternoon-at-your-friend’s-house feel. Grab a book or

glossy mag from their library corner, sip your fresh lemonade (or something a bit stronger) and let the world slip away for an hour or two. Or, grab your mates and head to the games corner for a cheeky round of darts or foosball. There’s also a delightfully retro DJ booth where DJs spin a breezy soundtrack every Friday brunch – think Café del Mar meets Cali cool – as you sip your Sauv Blanc or indulge in one of their mountainous milkshakes topped with such shameless indulgences as salted caramel cubes, peanut butter mini-waffles, and the rest of the cookie jar! It’s early on a Thursday evening when we arrive for dinner – and while ‘breakfast’ may literally be what SMBC has staked their name on, don’t let it fool you. It’s only one of their many top-drawer standouts. Having recently revamped their menu with some mouth-watering new offerings, it’s easy to find something fresh, funky and delish to tempt your fancy, We’re seated at corner table by the window and as we wind our way through the space we notice that they’ve further upped the colour quotient by re-upholstering the dining chairs in Skittle shades of rainbow hues. As we settle in and peruse the menu we can’t help but notice some fabulously lush new additions that catch our fancy. Topping our list of SMBC’s So-Cal must-tries is a selection off the ‘Dropped Egg’ section of the menu – think inspirational, flavoursome, and piquant takes on your traditional Eggs Benny. Straight off the bat our eye falls on the new Santa Mexicana. A cross between an Eggs Benny and a fry-up, it’s a piping hot skillet heaped with fried free-range eggs, home-baked corn cakes, spicy beef chorizo, salsa verde, gooey melted cheddar, smashed avocado, and a cooling cumin yogurt. We muddle over its depths and reflect on how comfort food of this calibre will never, ever, go out of style. To balance this calorie overload, we glance over their new range of healthful salads, opting for a lush toss-up of their Californication bowl – with bitter, fresh rocket leaves off-set by creamy avocado, funky blue cheese, toasted nuts, and a sweetly inspired cranberry dressing. Total guilt-free indulgence – and you bet we cleaned the plate.

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Also new to SMBC are additions to its all-day breakfast ‘Top O’ The Mornin’ offerings. We eye up dim sum bao buns stuffed with teriyaki-glazed chicken, roasted peanuts and red chili, but just can’t pass up a portion of the restaurant’s best-seller – pan con chicharron. Jammed between two thick slices whole-grain bread is melt-in-your-mouth, slow-roasted beef brisket with a smoked chili salsa, jicama slaw and a spicy Sriracha mayo. Crowning this culinary heavy-hitter is a side of fluffy, golden-crisp sweet potato fries for a match made in Mexicali heaven. While I work my way through this pinnacle of a plate, my dining companion can’t resist a round of Australian lamb chops from the ‘Hot Off The Grill’ section. Also, newly revamped – SMBC faithful can expect to be pleasantly surprised with its upgrade. The sweet soy-glazed chicken with Asian slaw and sesame seeds had us hemming and hawing with indecision, while their Mediterranean sea-bass with pine-nuts and a ‘virgin’ sauce had us experiencing some serious foodie FOMO. As we make our way through an ice-cold bottle of citrusy-crisp Sauv Blanc, we bask in the atmosphere, feeling relaxed, full, and content. No trip to SMBC is complete without an indulgence off their dessert menu, and we can’t leave before sampling at least one (or two!) of its wares. My companion goes for the creamy comfort of their fresh yogurt and honeycomb milkshake topped with whipped cream, sprinkles, and cubes of salted caramel. It’s a frothy revelation – the pungency of the yogurt bringing a startlingly tangy balance to the sweetness of the caramel. I can’t turn down their top-dog off the dessert list – the cookie heaven – and take our waitresses recommendation. Usually I can take or leave a cookie – but when it comes ooey-gooey, crunchy, and crumbly in a cast-iron skillet topped with caramel drizzle, home-churned vanilla ice cream and slivered almonds, I simply have to admit that my choices are no longer in my hands. Hands down, it’s the most sumptuously sinful creation to pass my lips. Hats off to Santa Monica Breakfast Club, a newcomer to Doha’s ever-evolving dining scene that’s anything but a flash in the pan. Visit for the colourful ambiance and luscious menu, and stay for the So-Cal cool and laidback Californian vibe. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 173


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Your family were amongst the first wave of Cuban immigrants fleeing the regime of Fidel Castro to arrive in Miami. What do you remember about this period of your life? I was very young when we came to the United States. My Dad was a police officer for the Cuban Government, so he knew the changes that were coming. He took the ferry to Key West, came to Miami and found us a place to live. At first we lived with his sister, then we found a place of our own, but then he took off for the Bay of Pigs invasion. My Mom knew nothing about it. He left a note, simply saying she was going to be receiving a cheque from the US Government once a month – I think it was for about USD150 – and we had no idea where he was. We subsequently found out he was part of the Bay of Pigs invasion on his 27th birthday. I was about two then. We lived in an apartment near the Orange Bowl, close to all of my Mom’s friends and their young children. They were a support system for each other, as all of the men had gone off to the invasion. It was kind of like living in a commune: we would go together to get groceries and do laundry, and one car was bought for USD50 that all the women shared. We went through a hurricane together, where all of the women were holed up in our apartment, so we would all be together in case something happened. So, very early on, I learned a lot about camaraderie and the strength of women. When my Dad was in jail I heard it from everyone. He was a political prisoner in Cuba. My Mom tried to tell me he was on a farm. I didn’t want to tell her that I knew the truth, because I thought she believed he was on a farm, so essentially both of us helped each other believe in a more palatable story. After fighting in the Bay of Pigs invasion and later serving in the US Army in Vietnam, your father developed MS and required round-the-clock care which you helped provide. How did you cope during this time? It was incredibly tough when my Dad got sick. He had been noticing some health issues so my Mom asked him to go to the hospital and get checked-out. He came out of the hospital using a cane, after they did a spinal tap and diagnosed him with MS, but he also had a lot of issues that were not MS-related and was on the list for Agent Orange poisoning. A lot of the guys who were stationed with him in ‘Nam had the same medical problems. The day my Dad was diagnosed my Mom was very afraid 176 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

and disappeared. We found out that she had been walking for five hours all over the city, lost. We all had to help my Mom due to my Dad’s illness. When I turned 14, we were able to afford a nurse for him until three in the afternoon. When I came home from school, and from then on, I was pretty much in charge of taking care of him and my younger sister when she came back from school. My Mom was working full-time, and then going to the University of Miami to get her teaching credentials revalidated, and she was worried that she wasn’t going to be able to put my sister and me through school. She worked so hard. I knew that it was my goal to help Mom take care of everything that had to be taken care of. What saved me through this time was music. I would lock myself in my room and sing in order to cry. Tears would stream down my face and I would get all my angst and emotions out, because I wanted to be strong for my Mom. I didn’t want her to see that I was hurting, that I was having a tough time. So, music – other people’s music – really got me through this period. I would learn the songs on my guitar, tape them onto cassettes, figure out the chords and just sing. That’s what got me through the toughest moments. Music has always been incredibly healing in my life. When was the first time you performed on stage? I was about 10 years old and it was at my guitar teacher’s recital. My Mom got me this special dress and these very light blue tights, she did my hair up, and I was petrified! I sat on that stage – thankfully it was in a chair – playing my guitar, and people went crazy when I started singing, but I was dying. It was incredibly difficult for me as it was the first time I had sung for people other than my family. Believe it or not I really don’t like being the centre of attention. How long did it take you to become truly comfortable regularly performing in front of thousands of people? It took me a good 10 years, which is why I am so thankful that I had that experience with Miami Latin Boys, [which later became] Miami Sound Machine, playing gigs around town. I started in 1975. It was in 1985 when everything really exploded with Dr Beat and Conga. By that point, I had performed in front of audiences as small as one person, and as big as 100,000 people in stadiums in Latin America, because we were very well known there before we crossed over into the US market. I realised I was very shy and didn’t like being the centre of attention, but I knew it was very

important for me to put my best foot forward. When I realised that, if I just let people see how I felt about music and relaxed, then everything was going to go well. Eventually when I stepped on a stage it became like stepping into my home. The strength of your partnership and 39 years of marriage to Emilio Estefan are legendary in musical circles. How did you first meet? I first met Emilio in May of 1975 when I was about to graduate high school. I went to an all-girl Catholic high school and we had two brother schools. During senior year our parents would go out and have spiritual weekends. One of my friends, who played guitar and sang, wanted to put a band together to play when the parents came back from one of these events. So, knowing me, as we had played at the church and get-togethers at our mutual friends’ houses, he called me over and said he would like me to be the singer. My friend’s father worked at the same place as Emilio and suggested he came along to give us some pointers, as he had a band, the Miami Latin Boys, and they had been playing all over town. In fact, they had just played for the Mayor and

Eventually when I stepped on a stage it became like stepping into my home

excited to be getting tips from this guy. I remember he brought his accordion along and he was wearing vee-rry short shorts, so when he played, it looked like he was naked, because the accordion covered up his shorts. I was enthralled. I thought he was a lot older than he was because he looked like a very mature dude. I was 17 at the time, Emilio was 21. Anyway, he gave us some pointers and left; we played the gig and everybody went their separate ways. But, that summer, my Mom dragged me to a wedding of the daughter of one of my Dad’s army buddies, and when we walked into the reception, I saw this band playing and the lead guy was playing Do the Hustle on the accordion. Everyone was having a Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 179

blast and he looked like he was in absolute heaven, playing with his band. And then I realised, ‘Wait a minute, that’s that guy I met a while back’. He asked me to sit in with the band and I sang a couple of old Cuban standards that we both knew. At the end of the night, he asked me if I would like to join his band, because they didn’t have a singer. I told them I couldn’t because I was starting school in September and I already had two jobs – a full-time one and a part-time one – and I knew my Mom wasn’t going to like the idea. But, then, two weeks later, he tracked down my number from the people at the party and called my house, saying, “Look, we just play on weekends, it’s not going to interfere, I would really love you to come to a rehearsal.” So I went with my Mom, Grandma and sister, and, after it was over, he told me he wanted me to join. My Grandma, who was always my staunchest supporter and fan, said: “You need to share your voice with the world because, unless you do so, you’re not going to be happy.” And that’s when I met Emilio. Your unique blend of dance, salsa and pop not only took the Latin community by storm but also took the world by storm. Did this surprise you and how did you handle the intense attention? Emilio and I were not surprised at all by the fact that our music would work in the United States and all over the world, because we had the best focus groups ever, which were the gigs we were playing in Miami. Miami is an incredibly international community and it’s very mixed culturally. The reason we became very successful in Miami as a gig band is because we could play Latin music, we could play pop music, and then, when we started interjecting our originals, they were a mix of this vocabulary on both sides. We wrote Conga in Holland – we were on promotion for Dr Beat and were inspired by this Dutch audience in a club there. We played I Need a Man, we played Dr Beat, and we were out of material in English, but they were saying, “We want more, we want more”. Emilio took out his accordion and said, “I’m going to play that medley of Cuban congas that we play at the end of the gigs.” I said: “But, they don’t speak Spanish”. He said: “They don’t speak English either, so what’s difference?”, so we played the song, and they went crazy. Standing in an alley at three in the morning, I told my drummer that we needed to write a song based on that rhythm, the legitimate percussion of a conga, you know, with a funk bass line and a dance beat. 180 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

We returned to Miami, and before we recorded the song, we started playing it live. People would flock to the dance floor as if they were hearing a hit, when they were really hearing a song that was literally brand new. So, we very much believed that we could make it happen. The tough part was convincing the record company, and then radio, to actually play it, because they would say, “It’s too American for the Latins,” and “It’s too Latin for the Americans” – and we would say: “That’s exactly who we are, and we want to stick by our sound. We want to be successful, and who we are.” And, sure enough, we were right – we just had to stick to our guns. Is there anywhere in the world you would like to perform your music where you haven’t already? In a free Cuba. A free Cuba would mean a Cuba that holds free elections, where the Castro government is out of the picture, where people can choose their future, can choose their representatives, can freely choose to follow their religion, will not be jailed for speaking freely, and where I can truly sing about freedom of speech and not have to worry about speaking words on the stage that will either get me arrested or cause violence in the audience. I pray it will happen in my lifetime; the chances look slimmer right now, but I never lose hope that one day I can sing in my homeland. How did it feel to receive your first Grammy? I had been nominated six times before I actually received my first Grammy! However, what was very beautiful, was that I received it for Mi Tierra, a seminal album for us. If I had to choose one album only to stay behind in the world, that would be it, because it presented my culture to the world, my roots, the place where our Latin sound came from, that mix of the Anglo and the Cuban which is who I am. When they called our name [to collect the Grammy], we had just performed. I think it was one of the first times a Spanish song had been performed by a band on the Grammys. I was standing backstage and I couldn’t even hear when the announcement was made. So, when I was told I had won, I ran out there and I don’t even remember what I said. It was just one of those moments; a euphoria that is hard to describe, especially because it was an album that was in my native language and had such incredible acclaim all over, and still does. I will never forget that night since it was one of the most beautiful nights, professionally, in my life. Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 183

Why do you think so many millions of people around the world connect with you and your music? I’ve thought a lot as to what it is about our music that people connect to, especially so many different people. I think it’s the rhythm. I think we all have a very guttural and basic reaction to rhythm. Lyrics can be secondary, but when you throw down a song that people can move their bodies to, and dance to, that really breaks the ice, and it doesn’t matter what culture you’re talking about. After we produced a couple of songs that were rhythmic, it was important for me to do a ballad, because that’s the kind of stuff I loved to write. By the time Words Get In The Way came out, our first big hit as a ballad, people already knew us as a dance band. Although they tried to keep us in that hole, and the record company really wanted us to keep doing what was successful, we made it a point to do something that was beyond that, because we knew that ultimately it would free us up to create and produce the kind of music that we loved, which was not just dance music. I have always tried to write about subjects that are human in nature: love, losing love, getting it back. I stay away from politics and religion. Although I have written some songs with social commentary, talking about freedom of speech, I prefer music that bridges and unites. I have stayed away from political themes because music was my escape from all that – I lived a very political life with my Dad, with Bay of Pigs and then Vietnam, and my music was an escape from those hard times. You were at the height of your fame in March 1990, when your tour bus was hit by an out-of-control tractor trailer on a snowy Pennsylvania highway. You suffered massive injuries and were told you may spend the rest of your life in a wheelchair. How did you get through the experience, and were you able to derive anything positive from it? I derived a lot of incredibly beautiful experiences from this terrible accident, and from being paralysed. Number one, the power of prayer. I had literally millions of people all over the world praying for me, and I can tell you that I felt like I was plugged into the wall and being energised by those prayers. I absorbed them into my body, imagined and visualised them reconnecting my nerves. I didn’t know at the time that this type of visualisation is used in the recovery of injured and ill people. My prime motivation was to do as much as I could to prevent my family going through what I went through with

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my Dad. I knew that if I had to face being in a chair, I would, but I did everything in my power [to aid my recovery] in rehab. I was in rehab for six or seven hours every day, getting massages, doing bio feedback. Love, prayers and support got me through this tough period. My husband didn’t leave my side for three months. My family and so many people were part of my recuperation, as well as, ultimately, my music. After three months I went to the studio, because Emilio had asked me to. He had an idea that he had written down on the day of the accident, when we were being transported to New York. He had written out the words ‘coming out of the dark’ as he was in one helicopter and I was in the medivac. It was a grey day and there was a ray of light that kept hitting him in the eyes, so he wrote down this phrase. Three months later he found the piece of paper, called [singer songwriter] Jon Secada and went to the studio. Emilio told me, “I would really love for you to come and work on this”, because he knew that music had always been a healing force in my life. He wanted to get me away from the constant rehab and to focus on something positive. When I got to the studio, Emilio and Jon were there, and they sang me the melody to Coming Out Of The Dark and a couple of lines that they had written. This feeling washed over me of incredible thankfulness to everyone who had sent a good thought or a prayer my way, and literally that’s what the song is about. It took us 15 minutes to write it, and it is a big thank you to every person who took time out of their life and their day, and went to their places of worship, just to make life better for me and to send me good and positive thoughts. I knew that I wasn’t alone, and that was instrumental in my recuperation. Please tell us one of the most memorable moments of your Miami Sound Machine days? Oh my gosh, there were so many! I would say the biggest highlight was stepping back on stage on 1st March 1991, having broken my back, been paralysed and told that I would probably never walk again, much less get back on a stage. That night is the happiest I have ever been in my entire life. It was about regaining my life, it was getting back my independence, it was reclaiming what I was meant to do on this earth, which was to entertain and sing; and, also, to be an example to people that, no matter what happens in your life, it all depends on how you deal with it, and you can always fight your way back, no matter how difficult the odds. 186 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

How did your life story and 1987 hit ‘Anything for You’ come to be a Broadway musical ‘On Your Feet!’? Was the process of charting yours and Emilio's journey from anonymity in Cuba to stardom in the United States, for the theatre, an emotional process? It was an incredibly emotional process to sit down and decide, first of all, what story we were going to tell about our lives, because you need to follow one thread. Alex Dinelaris, who wrote our book, was brilliant. He spent a year and a half just talking with Emilio and I, my Mom and people who are pertinent to our lives, then he went away and wrote. I told him to choose the songs himself, because our songs are like our kids – it’s impossible to decide what goes in and what goes out. The first time we sat down and listened to the actors read the parts, I thought I was going to be able to keep control. At one part, I was hearing the actor playing my Dad singing one of the first songs I ever wrote for Miami Sound Machine (it’s pretty obscure, only real fans are going to know When Someone Comes Into Your Life), the tears started welling up and I looked to Emilio for emotional support, and he was already bawling like a baby! I cried more in the two years creating the musical than in my entire life, but they were tears of joy, of thankfulness, of feeling blessed that we were able to share our story with so many people, and hoping that, when people left the theatre, they would take that with them. This has been the case, because I have heard from so many people that, being part of the show, they had reclaimed one of their dreams that they had given up, or fixed a situation with a family member, or just had sheer joy as an immigrant revelling in the fact that we can live the American dream in this country. It has been an incredibly emotional journey. What was it like the first time you and Emilio watched your lives played out on 188 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

stage in front of an audience? My heart pounded hard the first time I watched that show in front of an audience, which was in Chicago. My sister was sitting next to me, I was holding her hand, because she had seen nothing about it, and when our ‘Dad’ stepped on stage and started singing, we both broke down. I can’t tell you the nerves, the excitement, the pride, the fear; it was just a plethora of emotions that I will never forget. ‘On Your Feet!’ is currently touring the States for 80 weeks, including dates in Boston, Cleveland and Detroit, as well as your hometown of Miami. What is the show’s core message? A love story to music. It’s a story about love between a man and a woman, love for this country, yet without forgetting about the country where we were born; it’s about family; it’s about the American dream, and it’s about two people struggling to make their dream come true. Basically it’s all these things wrapped up in a beautifully choreographed package. Aside from your music and ‘On Your Feet!’, your business empire includes a football team, restaurants and hotels, and you also somehow find time to publicly advocate against repression, defend human rights and fight against violence. How do you juxtapose your time to be such a good businesswoman, wife, mother and public speaker? My key word in life is balance, and Emilio and I are a good partnership, so we help each other as much as we can in everything. It’s crucial to me to give back. We are in a privileged position to have a voice because people know us, and there have been moments in my life where I have felt it is very important to stand up for what I feel is right. I will always do that, although sometimes it’s not easy to do. Even though I am never going to lecture people on how they should live or

My key word in life is balance, and Emilio and I are a good partnership, so we help each other as much as we can in everything

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what they should do, and you are never going to hear any lectures in my music, you are definitely going to hear an opinion if I feel it is necessary to raise my voice. Your daughter, Emily, taught herself drums, guitar and keyboards by ear, graduated from Berklee College of Music, performed her first concert as a Festival Miami headliner in January of this year, and a few days later released her sophisticated jazz-pop-funk debut album ‘Take Whatever You Want’. What did you feel when you first heard Emily’s music and watched her perform? The first time I ever heard Emily sing was a very unique experience because basically she never sang. She played drums, she played guitar and piano, but she would stay far away from stepping into Mommy’s territory. I think she was afraid to sound too much like me. So, we were alone very early one morning at our beach house. She had come back from her first break after being away for a semester at school in Boston, and she told me, “Mom, I need to do something. I need to sing for you, but you can’t look at me and you can’t cry”. Of course, I broke both those promises! She would always say, “I don’t sing, I don’t sing” – notice she didn’t say she couldn’t sing – but apparently, she hadn’t even tried. What I heard come out of that baby girl’s mouth blew me away. She was mature; it sounded like somebody who had been singing for a lifetime. It was mind-blowing. She went back to school and, within two weeks, started sending me completely produced tracks. She would call me or text me at two in the afternoon and say, “Mom, I have an idea for a song. Are you going to be up late?” and I would say, “Yeah.” I was always up late waiting. At two in the morning, she would send me a completely produced track, recorded by herself in her apartment, and that is where that album came from. She started writing and recording songs, never imagining they would become her first effort, which was Take Whatever You Want. Whilst I am very objective, she is just amazing. She is the best musician in the family, a unique singer and an amazing writer as well. Not just a songwriter, but a real writer. Are there any aspects of the notoriously harsh music industry which, as parents, you and Emilio would have preferred to protect Emily from? Well, of course we want to protect Emily, and our son as well, but once you make a choice about what you want to do, you have to learn in your own skin. It is a completely different 192 The Cultured Traveller Oct-Nov 2017

industry now. Emily has a lot of freedom and there is a lot of opportunity to get your music out there. At the same time, everything is fragmented, so you don’t reach the numbers that we did once you are signed to a big label; that just doesn’t exist anymore. But, what I always tell her is, “You need to share your passion and your music with the world. You are fortunate to be able to do it, and just make sure you stay true to yourself.” We will be there to support her in every way possible, especially because we know a lot of the ins and outs of the business, but we can’t possibly compare life now in the music industry to life as we knew it, especially when we started. She has to walk that path on her own and make her own decisions. She is very clear on who she is and what she wants to do, so I’m not worried in that respect. We will always be here, supporting her 1000 per cent. My son, [Nayib], I am proud to say, is more on the movie side. He has created a cultural phenomenon here in Miami – he is attempting to save 35mm as the world goes digital, and he has his own events space where he celebrates cult films and 35mm movies. Despite the fact that we are a very tight knit family, I think we have been able to get through to our kids the importance of walking their own paths. What is your favourite hotel in the world to visit, relax and recharge? There are so many places that I have loved, I can’t single out just one. But I have several favourite hotels where we always stay because, simply stated, they feel like home. The May Fair Hotel in London; the iconic Westin Palace in Madrid which is more than a century old; and the Sunset Marquis Hotel in the heart of Los Angeles. To me, the most important things when travelling are to have a comfortable bed, a wonderful shower with lots of pressure and hot, hot water – basically temperature control at my fingertips – and a place to put my bags. We spent quite a bit of money buying excellent mattresses and beautiful linens for our hotels – Costa d'Este in Vero Beach and Cardozo South Beach on Ocean Drive. Both are in plum locations on the Miami beachfront. What’s next for Gloria Estefan? Hopefully, a nice long vacation. Even though I say this all the time, I have never really been able to travel the world as a tourist – I was always working. Everybody else could see things, but I had to stay quiet, locked away, so I wouldn’t get sick. I would truly love to re-travel the world, just as a tourist.


Shopping i

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in Mayfair


Writer Samuel Johnson observed that “when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”. His words seem especially appropriate to the select and fashionable district of Mayfair, one of the most exclusive addresses anywhere in the world. Despite the increasing prominence of other London neighbourhoods – not least affluent Knightsbridge and the cinematically appealing Notting Hill – Mayfair has a special leafy charm borne out of centuries of class and style, making it tailor-made for a stylish weekend break. Whether taking tea at The Ritz, shopping the new season collections by the world’s top designers, walking the back streets looking for hidden treasures, or sipping a cocktail at a fashionable restaurant, a few days and nights can easily be spent in and around this most traditional yet cutting-edge part of London. Bordered by the bustle and buzz of Piccadilly, Oxford and Regent Streets, as well as the bucolic green expanse of Hyde Park, there are few locations to rival Mayfair for luxury retail

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therapy. Pivotal to Mayfair’s shopping crown is New Bond Street, arguably the most famous luxury shopping destination in the country, and the world’s fourth most expensive shopping location ranked by prime rental value, behind New York’s Fifth Avenue, Causeway Bay in Hong Kong and Paris’s prestigious Champs-Élysées. However, whilst New Bond Street is the most-pricey place to shop in the U.K., it is along its many side streets where the real retail therapy happens, since here the slightly lower rents attract independent boutiques and up-and-coming designers. But where to start?! If you have already visited many of London’s landmark stores close by – namely Harrods, Selfridges, Fortnum & Mason and Liberty – then it’s time for a self-guided walking tour to take in everything from the most prestigious international design houses to quirky little specialist boutiques. The perfect starting point is the exquisitely stylish and oh-so-very London Burlington Arcade, a covered promenade of small, exclusive shops that was one of the first shopping arcades in England when it opened in 1819. Dubbed “an iconic runway uniting Piccadilly and Bond Street”, the arcade runs from Piccadilly to Burlington Gardens, and every frontage is a visual delight designed to turn fashion conscious heads. You can’t help but be enchanted by Penhaligon’s, a London fragrance house established in 1870 and a veritable treasure trove of gift ideas (16-17 Burlington Arcade At no. 24, The Vintage Watch Company boasts a collection of some of the rarest vintage Rolex watches in the world (, whilst a few doors away at no. 43, family-run Armour-Winston has been dealing in fine pre-owned watches and jewellery for more than sixty years ( Those of you with a sweet tooth will find it nigh on impossible to pass Ladurée at no. 71-72 without nipping in for a divine French macaron or two (, or if you fancy nibbling on high quality traditional confectionary produced by chocolatier to the Queen, a few minutes away in St. James’s you will find Prestat, where you can get your hands on handcrafted truffles packaged in gorgeously vibrant boxes. ( Once you emerge from the arcade, set off on Old Bond Street, from the corner of Piccadilly, to experience one of the best luxury shopping streets in the world, where the crème of international and British designers vie for your attention, and your wallet. Start with the flagship London store of Alexander McQueen, the late British genius and award-winning designer, who originally trained on nearby Savile Row and

was renowned for pushing fashion boundaries. After perusing covetable tailored separates and ladylike party pieces at McQueen, saunter next door to Dolce & Gabbana for some Italian high fashion, then cross the road to dip into Cartier and Valentino. Keep walking and you will come across Gucci, Saint Laurent, Prada, Rolex, Tiffany & Co., Chanel (which has both a fine jewellery store and an apparel store on New Bond Street), Asprey, Bvlgari, Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Burberry, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo and many more. The displays are so artfully arranged, it is worth the walk for the window shopping alone. A stroll along Mount Street, from Park Lane, is also a Mayfair shopping expedition must. Originally built in the 1700s, the street’s name comes from Mount Field, which included Oliver’s Mount, the remains of fortifications erected during the English civil war. When many leases were approaching expiry in the late 1800s, the first Duke rebuilt the street with the beautifully detailed Queen Anne revival style of architecture that can still be seen today. Whilst Mount Street was once the preserve of art dealers, aristocratic ladies who lunch and gentlemen with a penchant for rifles and cigars (you can still buy both here), these days you don’t need to be sporting a pearl necklace to browse this upscale locale. Since the arrival of the Marc Jacobs store in 2007, Mount Street has become a veritable fashion hub. Where Jacobs goes others usually follow, and so now, a decade later, fashion plays a vital role in the distinctive character of 21st century Mayfair. Whether you stick to the main drag’s designer boutiques or venture down the side streets in search of something a little more unique, be warned, you will almost certainly find yourself tempted to stretch the plastic here! Fashion houses Balenciaga, Céline and Oscar de la Renta sit side-by-side with jeweller Solange Azagury-Partridge, watchmaker Richard Mille, gunmaker James Purdey, iconic seafood restaurant Scott’s, and Allen’s, one of London’s best-known butchers. This combination of newer brands sitting alongside long-established quintessentially English retailers has ensured the survival of Mount Street’s distinctive character well into the next decade. In the very heart of Mayfair Village and amidst all this retail royalty, you will find The Connaught, a grand, genteel 119-room Edwardian hotel much loved by visiting Americans. If you plan to spend the weekend in Mayfair this is the place to rest your head, but be sure to request one of the 30 rooms in the new wing, where the luxe contemporary accommodations ooze a gentle Oriental feel, and include mini bars housed within Chinese armoires and dazzling white Thassos marble bathrooms ( On the foodie front, there are now two restaurants at The Oct-Nov 2017 The Cultured Traveller 203

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Connaught which are worthy of a blow-out. At the recently opened Jean-Georges at The Connaught – which overlooks Mount Street and is helmed by the world-renowned Alsatian-American chef – Jean-Georges Vongerichten marries classic French and Asian flavours like no one else ( Meanwhile, lunching at Hélène Darroze’s two Michelin-starred restaurant, set within a historic dining room complete with beautiful wood panelling and floral plasterwork ceiling, is a veritable gastronomic treat ( It was thanks to The Connaught that the small plaza in front of the hotel was transformed by world-renowned Japanese artist Tadao Ando’s remarkable sculptural water feature, ‘Silence’, positioned just where Mount Street passes Carlos Place. Do stop here to appreciate this delightful piece of urban art, which was jointly commissioned by Grosvenor Estates and the hotel. The unveiling of ‘Silence’ marked the completion of Grosvenor's public space improvement works on Mount Street and ushered in a whole new era for this chic shopping jewel of central London. Another Mayfair retail hub not to be missed is South Audley Street, which runs north to south from the southwest corner of Grosvenor Square to Curzon Street. Amongst other retailers, Marc Jacobs’s less expensive diffusion line can be found here at no. 56, plus Canadian born Turkish fashion designer Erdem Moralıoğlu’ two-storey London flagship store at no. 70. If you want some expert tips, London Shopping Tours offer a range of experiences to suit different budgets, from a group tour centred on the Oxford Street area which includes Mayfair, Piccadilly and Marylebone, to personalised tours that can go anywhere you like, and may even include exclusive access to sample and VIP sales ( Bespoke shopping tours and stylist sessions are also offered by The Fashion Service, founded by Lucinda Cook after more than a decade of working with a variety of high-end glossies, including British and American Vogue ( Regardless of whether you take a tour or simply amble around its gorgeous streets at your own pace, spending any amount of time Mayfair is guaranteed to provide a heady combination of retail temptation and luxe lifestyle possibilities. At the very least you will pick up some extremely stylish souvenirs plus some gifts for forever grateful friends, but don’t be too surprised if you end up going home with enough booty for a whole new look. You’d better warn your bank manager in advance!















































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The Cultured Traveller - Third Anniversary Edition, October-November 2017 Issue 19  
The Cultured Traveller - Third Anniversary Edition, October-November 2017 Issue 19  

Established since 2014 and published bimonthly, The Cultured Traveller stylishly brings together travel, culture, music, food and fashion in...