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WAYS TO WOW

YOURSELF IN LOS ANGELES

>VALUE

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AFFORDABLE TOP TIPS FOR A ASIAN DEALS SAFER TRIP

APRIL 2009

Style& Design SPECIAL

The innovations that are shaping our lives

Berlin 16 hip hotspots you should visit now

Bangkok Guide to the old city’s secret spaces

ASIA’S NEW COOL CAPITAL:

SEOUL

Hong Kong Where to bag top brands for less travelandleisuresea.com

Plus: Rising stars of Filipino fashion

SINGAPORE SG$6.90 ● HONG KONG HK$39 THAILAND THB160 ● INDONESIA IDR45,000 MALAYSIA MYR15 ● VIETNAM VND80,000 MACAU MOP40 ● PHILIPPINES PHP220 BURMA MMK32 ● CAMBODIA KHR20,000 BRUNEI BND6.90 ● LAOS LAK48,000


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Yao Noi

Samui

Hua Hin

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Taking the Six Senses Spa experience to the ultimate level, the newly opened Six Senses Destination Spa is already winning accolades. Referred to as the destination spa for the 21st-century, Life Passages embark guests on all-natural lifestyle adjustment programs supported by highly trained therapists, counselors, hosts and nutritionists. All-inclusive stays provide guests with the support required to achieve personal goals, whilst enjoying the added luxury of private pool villas.

Six Senses Hideaway Samui covers a headland that juts into the Gulf of Thailand. The views are breathtaking from each of the private pool villas and suites. The cuisine is unexpected, with Dining on the Rocks having been listed in the top 10 restaurants of Thailand. And the access is ideal—just 15 minutes from Samui International Airport. The rambling Six Senses Spa offers unequalled views out to the Gulf of Thailand.

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY YAO NOI A 40-minute speedboat trip beyond Phuket on the island of Yao Noi, you will find utopia set in splendid isolation. The natural surroundings belie that fact that every creature comfort, with extemporary service to match, awaits you. This award-winning all-pool-villa escape offers a sense of adventure by the very nature of its eco-inspired design and natural materials, plus extraordinary views out to wondrous Phang Nga Bay. The holistic Six Senses Spa offers amazing sensory journeys.

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY HUA HIN Set in the rural outskirts of the Royal City of Hua Hin, the Six Senses Hideaway is less than a 3-hour drive, or 30-minute flight from Bangkok. Ceramic pathways bordered by lush foliage link the pool villas, pool villa duplexes and suites. In fact, the seclusion of your personal villa with a private pool may tempt you to not venture far afield, unless perhaps for a round or so of gold at one of the many nearby courses. Unobtrusive butlers are the order of the day and the multi-award winning Six Senses Earth Spa offer relaxation and rejuvenation.

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(Destinations)04.09 Munich 88

Seoul 118

Umbria 71

Los Angeles 130

Bangkok 106

Yogyakarta 50

World Weather This Month -40oF -20oF -40oC

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Issue Index Sri Lanka 35 Suzhou 38 Tokyo 34

ASIA Beijing 36 China 33 India 35 Liangzhou, China 44 Seoul 118

Los Angeles 130 New York City 36, 64 EUROPE Berlin 48 London 142 Munich 88 Spain 36 Umbria 71

THE MIDDLE EAST Istanbul 36 THE AMERICAS Chicago 36

Currency Converter Singapore Hong Kong Thailand Indonesia Malaysia Vietnam Macau Philippines Burma Cambodia Brunei Laos US ($1)

(SGD)

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(RM)

(VND)

(MOP)

(P)

(MMK)

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(BND)

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1.55

7.76

36.1

12,081

3.72

17,480

7.99

48.6

6.44

4,132

1.55

8,574

Source: www.xe.com (exchange rates at press time).

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Singapore 34, 35 Yogyakarta 50

SOUTHEAST ASIA Bali 35 Bangkok 106 Cambodia 42 Delhi 64 Hong Kong 34, 62 Manila 58 Penang 33 Saigon 46


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(Contents)04.09 >106 Officials from Bangkok’s Grand Palace.

106 Out of the Shadows Bangkok’s historic heart is home to much that is monumental, but both the Rattanakosin and Phra Nakhon neighborhoods are more intriguing once you venture beyond the tourist map. By CHRIS KUCWAY. Photographed by CEDRIC ARNOLD. GUIDE AND MAP 116 8

118 Seoul Fast-forward Cutting-edge art museums, hightech shopping, old-fashioned saunas and some of the tastiest food in Asia: GARY SHTEYNGART searches out the new Seoul, and finds it striving, thriving and driven to succeed. Photographed by ANDERS OVERGAARD. GUIDE AND MAP 128 130 L.A. Confident In a groundswell of appreciation for historic buildings and revitalized

A PRI L 2 0 0 9| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

neighborhoods, the city of forever young is flouting the old clichés. Writer M.G. LORD and photographer LISA EISNER zoom in on the real Los Angeles. GUIDE AND MAP 141 Special ● 2009 Design Awards > 93 Design and architecture shape every aspect of the travel experience, from airports and museums to hotels and luggage. For T+L’s competition, our jury chose the best in 15 categories.

CEDRIC ARNOLD

105-130 Features


TOP TIPS FOR A 18YOURSELF >VALUEAFFORDABLE ASIAN DEALS>SAFER TRIP WAYS TO WOW IN LOS ANGELES

(Contents)04.09

APRIL 2009

Style& Design SPECIAL

The innovations that are shaping our lives

Berlin 16 hip hotspots you should visit now

Bangkok Guide to the old city’s secret spaces

12 16 18 20 22 25 142

Editor’s Note Contributors Letters Best Deals Ask T+L Strategies My Favorite Place

> 54

31-54 Insider 32 Newsflash Tea boutiques, design-focused resort openings, breakfast menus to rouse the palate, how to tune in on your next trip, restaurants with a view, Africaninspired fashion and more. 38 Preservation Ancient Chinese threads get a new look at a storied studio in Suzhou. BY CARMEN TING 42 Hotels Boutique gems around Cambodia’s countryside. BY NAOMI LINDT 44 See It A futuristic museum in China embraces history. BY GARY BOWERMAN 46 The Arts Catching a glimpse of the visual arts scene in Saigon. BY GEMMA PRICE 10

SEOUL

Hong Kong Where to bag top brands for less travelandleisuresea.com

Plus: Rising stars of Filipino fashion

SINGAPORE SG$6.90 ● HONG KONG HK$39 THAILAND THB160 ● INDONESIA IDR45,000 MALAYSIA MYR15 ● VIETNAM VND80,000 MACAU MOP40 ● PHILIPPINES PHP220 BURMA MMK32 ● CAMBODIA KHR20,000 BRUNEI BND6.90 ● LAOS LAK48,000

Cover The Mario Botta–designed building at Seoul’s Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art. Photographed by Anders Overgaard.

> 71

57-66 Stylish Traveler 57 Icon Classic timepieces. BY SARAH GOLD 58 Local Talent Emerging Filipino designers take center stage. BY LARA DAY 60 Packing List Pared-down looks for your next trip. 61 Must-haves Rain jackets to keep you dry in style. 62 Best Bets Affordable Hong Kong outlets. BY HELEN DALLEY 64 Shopping Hotel boutiques that break the mold. BY GIGI GUERRA 66 On the Road Sir Terence Conran on his favorite places to stay in Asia and his latest travels. BY JENNIFER CHEN > 60

71-88 T+L Journal 71 Preservation Up in the Umbrian hills, entrepreneur Brunello Cucinelli is turning the town of Solomeo into a vibrant, modern village. BY CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS 78 Reflections Having come so far, KoreanAmerican author MIN JIN LEE realized she had never really traveled beyond the books she had read. That’s all changed now. 82 Design Qantas asked designer Marc Newson to rethink the Airbus A380. Is this the new shape of air travel? BY PAUL GOLDBERGER 88 Cityscape The city of lederhosen and beer steins is having a design moment. ARIC CHEN inspects the new restaurants, shops and museums.

C L O C K W I S E F R O M FA R L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E M E T R O P O L I TA N L O N D O N ; C H R I S T I A N K E R B E R ; D AV I E S + S TA R R ( 3 )

Departments

48 Navigator Berlin neighborhoods you should know. BY RALPH MARTIN 50 T+L Guide Exploring Yogyakarta, Indonesia’s art capital. BY GENEVIEVE TSAI 54 The Guru Looking to the future with the founder of Design Hotels. BY JENNIFER CHEN

ASIA’S NEW COOL CAPITAL:


PARADISE PERFECTED. THE ST. REGIS BALI RESORT.


Every camera design begins with the hands.

1995: CCD-TRV90 Handycam® featuring a rotating LCD attached to the side for more flexible video shooting

2003: DSC-T1 Slim Cyber-shot featuring a sliding lens cover doubling as a power switch

1996: DSC-F1 Launch of Cyber-shot —featuring a 180-degree rotating lens/flash element

1989: CCD-TR55 First generation, passport-size Handycam® —helped launch a new era of easy travel video shooting

1999: DSC-F505

2007: DSLR-A700

Big impact—with a unique lens-dominant design, this Cyber-shot helped to invigorate the digital camera market

At only 690g, the digital SLR camera delivers speedy one-handed operation

With creative expression that begins in the palm, Sony designs have helped shape the lifestyles of photographers. What is design? For Sony, design and function are inseparable. There’s

that have changed lifestyles, the Sony design philosophy ensures the

an inherent beauty in functionality, and the Sony design concept is

preservation of core elements that should never change.

about communicating that beauty—without inhibiting function—in the most accessible way.

Handycam®, Cyber-shot and the

series share the beauty that becomes

possible only when all unessential elements are removed and true functionality

In the finite space of the human hand, Sony has found infinite possibilities. The

is achieved. If a camera stimulates your creativity the moment you hold it in your

challenge is to develop the ideal package of lenses and image sensors that can

hand, it is undoubtedly a Sony—a camera born with a creator’s DNA.

be easily held. In Handycam®, Sony combined portability and ideal packaging so that people can enjoy taking movies anytime, anywhere. Cyber-shot introduced an innovative self-portrait shooting function. And Sony’s

series

made it possible for anyone to experience the advantages of professional photography. While, Sony has a storied history of creating innovative cameras

“Sony”, “like.no.other”, “Handycam”, “Cyber-shot”, and respective logos are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sony Corporation. All other products and brand names may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective owners.

www.sony-asia.com/di/creatordna


(Editor’s Note) 04.09

W

ELCOME TO OUR SECOND SPECIAL ISSUE focusing on

style and design, and how these relate to both travel and the lifestyles our readers lead. These words come with preconceptions—mention style and design in the same sentence, and many people will think only of modern art museums; angular, visually jolting structures; and outlandish fashion. Nothing could be further from the truth, of course. In this issue, for example, we delve into the ancient Chinese embroidery that’s now being produced and sold in Suzhou in China (“Thread of History,” page 38), and investigate the new and striking culture museum built on a once-contaminated industrial site in Hangzhou (page 44). Closer to home, we check out four galleries in Vietnam that are well worth exploring (“Made in Saigon,” page 46) as well as outstanding new Filipino designers (“Team Manila,” page 58). Style and design also play a prominent role in M. G. Lord’s fascinating story about Los Angeles (“L.A. Confident,” page 130), photographed by Lisa Eisner. And while these concepts are not at the forefront of our Bangkok story (“Out of the Shadows,” page 106), written by features editor Chris Kucway and shot by Cedric Arnold, a T+L regular, the article certainly shows how form and function are interlinked in one of Asia’s busiest cities. But for me, the gem in this issue is “Seoul Fast-forward” (page 118), courtesy of one of the best scribes in travel journalism, Gary Shteyngart, and photographed by Anders Overgaard. This thriving capital is embracing modernity and adapting to change, yet preserving the unique cultural identity of Korea. Elsewhere, you can find great Asian vacation bargains and tips on where to find good value, as well as a guide to bagging brand-name bargains in Hong Kong time away from it all, and it doesn’t need to cost the earth!—MATT LEPPARD TRAVEL + L EISURE EDITORS, WRITERS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS ARE THE INDUSTRY’S MOST RELIABLE SOURCES. WHILE ON ASSIGNMENT, THEY TRAVEL INCOGNITO WHENEVER POSSIBLE AND DO NOT TAKE PRESS TRIPS OR ACCEPT FREE TRAVEL OF ANY KIND.

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C H E N P O VA N O N T

(“Cheap Chic in HK,” page 62). With the ongoing financial meltdown, we all need


EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EDITOR-AT-LARGE ART DIRECTOR FEATURES EDITORS

Matt Leppard

ART EDITOR DESIGNER EDITORIAL ASSISTANT

Ellie Brannan

Paul Ehrlich Fah Sakharet Jennifer Chen Chris Kucway Wannapha Nawayon Wasinee Chantakorn

REGULAR CONTRIBUTORS / PHOTOGRAPHERS Dave Wong, Joe Yogerst, Adam Skolnick, Robyn Eckhardt, Sonia Kolesnikov-Jessop, Lara Day, Cedric Arnold, Steve McCurry, Peter Steinhauer, Nat Prakobsantisuk, Graham Uden, Darren Soh

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Ed Kelly Mark V. Stanich Paul B. Francis Nancy Novogrod Jean-Paul Kyrillos Cara S. David Mark Orwoll Thomas D. Storms Aneesa T. Waheed

TRAVEL+LEISURE SOUTHEAST ASIA VOL. 3, ISSUE 4 Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia is published monthly by Media Transasia Limited, Room 1205-06, 12/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2851-6963; Fax: +852 2851-1933; under license from American Express Publishing Corporation, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Produced and distributed by Media Transasia Thailand Ltd., 14th Floor, Ocean Tower II, 75/8 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoeynue, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: +66 2 204-2370. Printed by Comform Co., Ltd. (+66 2 368-2942–7). Color separation by Classic Scan Co., Ltd. (+66 2 291-7575). While the editors do their utmost to verify information published, they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy.

This edition is published by permission of AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING CORPORATION 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, United States of America. Reproduction in whole or in part without the consent of the copyright owner is prohibited. © Media Transasia Thailand Ltd. in respect of the published edition.

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(Contributors) 04.09 edric Arnold “I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of walking around old Bangkok with a camera. At work, Cedric It’s so full of life,” says the Arnold. Left: Monks photographer who shot in a tropical downpour. this month’s feature on the city (“Out of the Shadows,” page 106). “A stone’s throw away from the Grand Palace, you’ll see local art students with their tight jeans, T-shirts and attitude crossing paths with monks on their way to Wat Mahathat and the Buddhist university.” For Arnold, the neighborhood is an area he continually returns to, even when not on assignment.

M.G. Lord Writer M.G. Lord (“L.A. Confident,” page 130) grew up in southern California before decamping to the East Coast. But a homecoming eight years ago unveiled a new interest. “My worldview is centered on the restoration of Downtown. The exquisite old buildings are like archaeological sites hidden in plain sight.” Lord teaches writing and literature at the University of Southern California.

Min Jin Lee, the author Naomi Lindt Cambodia of Free Food for Millionaires, is familiar territory for writes this month of her Lindt, who lives in Phnom travel experiences both Penh and reports this through books and actual month on some of the trips (“Reading the more offbeat boutique World,” page 78). She hotels in the country lives in Tokyo with her (“Cambodia’s Chic Stays,” husband and son who page 42). “Cambodia is are also her favorite travel home to an impressive companions. When not collection of historic working on her second buildings,” she says. novel or writing essays for “Sadly, many have fallen Gourmet, Vogue, Food+Wine into disrepair, so it’s great and The Times, she bakes to see some of them sour cream chocolate reincarnated as boutique cakes and eats them with hotels.” Lindt also writes her friends. for The New York Times.

A BOV E , F RO M TO P : C E D R I C A R N O L D ; CO U RT ESY O F C E D R I C A R N O L D B E L O W, F R O M FA R L E F T : G R E G G S E G A L ; R I C H A R D C O R M A N ; C O U R T E SY O F N A O M I L I N D T

C


(Letters)04.09

I L L U S T R AT E D BY G U Y B I L L O U T

(Strategies) 02.09

9 Ways to Improve Your Next Trip (and Save Money) This may be a year of tightening belts and minding budgets. But there’s a silver lining: For travelers, it’s a buyer’s market. Hotels, airlines and destinations around the globe are taking measures to ensure your money goes far, offering never-before-seen deals and values. Here, T+L’s tip sheet for navigating the new travel landscape. By ELIZABETH BAILEY, GERALDINE CAMPBELL, JENNIFER CHEN and YOLANDA CROUS T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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C O M| F E B RUA RY

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LETTER OF THE MONTH Budget Busters

Finally—T+L runs an article that addresses the need to pinch pennies [“9 Ways to Improve Your Next Trip (and Save Money),” February 2009]! I usually assume that I can’t afford many of the fabulous—and expensive—places that you feature in your magazine. So it was refreshing to see an article that tackles how to make travel affordable—an issue that’s really affecting us these days. One suggestion to your readers—I’ve noticed a lot of the Asian airlines have been offering special fares lately. Before you book your ticket, log onto their websites to see if they have any special offers.—T R I S H L E E , S I N G A P O R E

Lost in Translation I’d like to clarify a misconception about Japanese culture. In your December 2008 issue, you say tips are perceived as “rude and in bad taste” [“The Art of Tipping”]. That’s not the case at all. Yes, it’s true we don’t generally tip; offering good service is part of the job and we don’t expect anything in return. Tips are also generally included in the bill, but if you did want to include something extra, it won’t be regarded as impolite.—J U N K I TAYA M A , BA N G KO K Dubai Blues Your article about Dubai [“Tomorrowland,” January 2009] didn’t view the city with enough skepticism. Seriously, how can green design make a difference in a place that has little water and relies so heavily on air conditioning? And how can you see the Palms as anything other than an exercise in hubris? I wonder how many of the projects have been delayed, now that the economic bubble has burst. —M I C H A E L G R E AV E S , H O N G KO N G Penang’s Pleasures I enjoyed your article on Penang [“Eat the Breeze,” March 2009]. It’s always a pleasure to read something by an author who obviously understands, and appreciates, a particular place. I was very impressed by Robyn Eckhardt’s knowledge of the local food and rich history of Penang. In fact, I enjoyed your entire food issue. It was a good mix between highbrow and lowbrow. —TA N K I AT S E N G , K UA L A LU M P U R

E-MAIL T+L SEND YOUR LETTERS TO EDITOR @ TRAVELANDLEISURESEA.COM AND LET US KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS ON RECENT STORIES OR NEW PLACES TO VISIT. LETTERS CHOSEN MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE. THE LETTER OF THE MONTH RECEIVES A FREE ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION TO TRAVEL + LEISURE ( SOUTHEAST ASIA ONLY). READER OPINIONS EXPRESSED IN LETTERS DO NOT NECESSARILY REFLECT THOSE OF TRAVEL + LEISURE SOUTHEAST ASIA, MEDIA TRANSASIA LTD., OR AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING.


NOW IN SOUTHEAST ASIA

(Best Deals) 04.09

The pool at Kahanda Kanda.

It’s bargain season. Here, five great, budget-friendly breaks around Asia IEKJ>;7IJ7I?7

INDULGE YOURSELF

■ SRI LANKA Special offer at Kahanda Kanda (94-91/228-6717; kahandakanda.com) in Galle. What’s Included Threenight stay for the price of two or seven-night stay for the price of five; and daily breakfast. Cost US$470 for three-night package; US$1,175 for seven-night package, through July 31, excludes period from April 6 to 19. Savings Up to 44 percent. ■ THE PHILIPPINES The Suite Life package at The Peninsula Manila (632/887-2888; peninsula.com). What’s Included A complimentary night and free local calls. Cost From P18,500, through April 30. Savings Up to 36 percent. ■ THAILAND Anantara Breeze package at the Anantara Si Kao (667/520-5888; sikao.anantara.com) in Krabi. What’s Included Three-night stay; an international newspaper daily; and a free drink. Cost From Bt6,000 per night, through April 30. Savings Up to 33 percent.

THE WORLD’S LEADING TRAVEL MAGAZINE www.travelandleisuresea.com/subscribe

■ HONG KONG Fun for Grown-Ups package at the Langham Place (852/3552-3552; langhamhotels.com) in Hong Kong. What’s Included Accommodation in a vital place room; champagne bath for two at the spa; two massages; a bottle of Veuve Clicquot; and breakfast. Cost HK$2,999, through December 31. Savings 48 percent.

BANGKOK Explore package at the Grand Hyatt Erawan (66-2/2541234; hyatt.com) in Bangkok. What’s Included Breakfast; one foot massage per person; one afternoon tea at the Erawan Tea Room per person; one BTS SkyTrain Day Pass per person; discount coupons and gift vouchers from department stores; and late check-out until 4:00 P.M. Cost From Bt7,200, through December 31. Savings Up to 45 percent. The executive suite at the Grand Hyatt Erawan, in Bangkok.

F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F K A H A N D A K A N D A ; C O U R T E S Y O F G R A N D H YAT T E R A W A N

DEAL OF THE MONTH


WHERE IN BANGKOK CAN YOU HEAR GOOD LIVE MUSIC, ESPECIALLY JAZZ AND BLUES? —TOBY MOFFAT, HONG KONG

A:

The Thai capital isn’t exactly a hotbed of good, live music but there are a handful of stops on the map for great jazz or blues. At the high end of the scale, Niu’s on Silom (661 Silom Rd.; 66-2/266-5333) features songstress Cheryl Hayes each night from 9 P.M. and more than 300 labels of wine. Tokyo Joe’s (25/9 Soi 26, Sukhumvit Rd.; 66-2/259-6267) takes a more laid-back approach—read blues and draft beer—and is a particularly good bet on Friday nights. Finally, downscale but very good is Adhere the 13th Blues Bar (13 Samsen Rd.; no phone). You can almost touch both walls in this room simultaneously, but the blues on offer is brilliant.

04.09 I’d like to do a bike tour of Vietnam. Can you suggest any tour operators? —STACEY HOFFMAN, BEIJING

There’s no shortage of two-wheeled trips in Vietnam, so it’s best to map out where exactly you want to visit, for how long and what you want included. Spice Roads (spiceroads.com) offers everything from four-day, mountain-bike journeys around Dalat to a 17-day ride from Saigon to Hanoi. High-end operator Velo Asia (veloasia.com) combines the best of both worlds with a 12-day cycling and dining tour of the country, and also wraps trips around Vietnamese holidays. I’m going to Beijing and want to know what new restaurants I should check out. —WALTER SUNG, SINGAPORE

Like the city itself, Beijing’s dining scene is in constant flux, but generally for the better. Thanks to new luxury hotels, Beijing is now fast catching up with Shanghai in terms of sophisticated dining. For the best view in town, have dinner at the China Grill in the Park Hyatt (Jianguomenwai Dajie, Chaoyang district; 86-10/8567-1234; see Newsflash). The Opposite House (11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang district; 86-10/6417-6688) also boasts some of the hottest tables in town with three restaurants. Of note are Sureño, an airy, casual affair with a wood-fired stove that dishes up Mediterranean fare, and the sleeker Bei, which hones in on North Asian cuisine, with a touch of East-meets-West. The Legation Quarter (23 Qianmen Dong Dajie, Dongcheng district) is a must for foodies in Beijing, with six eateries, including the supremely elegant Maison Boulud (8610/6559-9200), the first Asian outpost by Daniel Boulud and the Spanishflavored Agua (86-10/6559-6266).

E-MAIL T+L SEND YOUR QUESTIONS TO EDITOR @ TRAVELANDLEISURESEA.COM. QUESTIONS CHOSEN FOR PUBLICATION MAY BE EDITED FOR CLARITY AND SPACE .

I L L U S T R AT E D BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

Q:

(Ask T+L)


(Strategies) 04.09

How to Stay Safe After Mumbai, hotels are rethinking security from top to bottom. MARIA SHOLLENBARGER reports on how they’re protecting guests. PLUS: The latest on what’s being done in airports and on cruise ships, subways and trains, and T+L’s tips for a safer trip. Illustrated by GUY BILLOUT

THE YEAR 2008 WAS WHEN HOTEL security took center stage. On November 26 between 9 and 11 P.M., reported members of the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba stormed three hotels in Mumbai—the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower Hotel, the Oberoi and the Trident, Nariman Point— armed with machine guns, rifles and grenades. In three days, more than 170 people were killed. This wasn’t the only attack directed at high-end hotels: in January 2008, six people were killed at the Serena Hotel in Kabul, allegedly by Taliban fighters; and in September, a car bomb at the entrance to the Marriott in Islamabad claimed 52 lives. But Mumbai’s events were deeply shocking, and not simply for their scale. A certain degree of travel-at-your-own-risk is implicit in a destination like Kabul and, to a growing extent, Pakistan. But Mumbai? And the Taj Mahal? It’s a landmark, one of the most venerated—and thus, the received wisdom would have it, secure— hotels in India. As the world’s political and cultural terrain alters, rapidly and sometimes alarmingly, the hotel industry is being confronted with new paradigms of risk. “The kind of attack we saw in Mumbai has all the earmarks of what a terrorist wants: it’s cheap, it’s easy and it’s »

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SAFETY CHECK-IN: AIRLINES AND AIRPORTS After years of tightening security through stricter carry-on policies and random searches, the U.S. Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is gradually launching the most extensive passenger pre-screening system to date, throughout 2009. Under the Secure Flight program, domestic travelers have to disclose personal data, including date of birth and gender, when booking flights. And in a dramatic shift, the TSA — instead of the individual airlines — will monitor this data to coordinate comparisons with the agency’s No Fly List. Providing another safety layer at terminals across the country, the government is installing high-tech video cameras that use “passive millimeter wave technology” to read illumination levels of the human body. The device captures images of a traveler’s different parts (a leg, say, or a chest). When the photos are compared, higher illumination levels in one part of the body can signal the presence of suspicious materials such as explosives.— B A R B A R A B E N H A M

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sensational,” says Bruce McIndoe, president of iJET Intelligent Risk Systems, an Annapolis-based globalintelligence and risk-management consultancy that counts a handful of luxury hotel companies among its clients. McIndoe warns that we are likely to see more attempts at such attacks, at least regionally in South and Central Asia. Moreover, he says, “This incident will force the whole hotel industry to change its practices.” The vulnerability of hotels lies in the very welcome they extend to guests through their rooms and public spaces. Steven Brill, founder of Clear, which provides passenger pre-screening technology for airports, notes that Mumbai’s events upped the ante on what had been one of the industry’s main challenges since 9/11: “Luxury hotels have two primary mandates, which exist at total cross-purposes: they want to put guests at ease, but they also need to implement safety and security measures that may make them uneasy.” Simon Cooper, president and COO of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, observes that “while it can be reassuring to see obvious signs of security precautions, it is a delicate balancing act to not make [guests] overly anxious about threat levels.” So how exactly are the top hotels addressing safety without turning themselves into fortresses? “We don’t discuss these details, so as not to compromise them,” says Jim Fitzgibbon, president of worldwide hotel operations at Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts—a policy echoed by Cooper and other heads of major hotel companies and private hotels. But with both leisure travelers and corporatetravel bookers demanding answers in exchange for their business, safety protocols are under enormous scrutiny. And conversations with risk-assessment experts, hospitality insurers and security firms reveal that self-auditing, and soul-searching, are at high levels throughout the industry—even at

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properties in major Western cities and other regions heretofore not seen as high-risk. Most hotels are focused on enhancing security in several key areas. ■ SURVEILLANCE The use of closed-circuit television (CCTV), for years a mainstay in hotels in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Middle East and the Philippines, is on the rise. McIndoe predicts the spread of intelligent video surveillance to properties in regions with moderate risk levels, such as Dubai, within months. It’s also possible that the elaborate surveillance systems, including facerecognition software, now used to prevent robberies in Las Vegas hotels and casinos, could be disseminated to other American properties. Several experts, however, question the efficacy (and cost) of such systems and endorse human surveillance instead. Indeed, in recent years, there’s been a notable increase in hotels’ use of private security—a trend that will surely continue. “In some regions, it’ll be guards conspicuously uniformed and armed, if that’s within the local law,” says John Seddon, operations manager for travel security services at Control Risks, a London-based business-risk consultancy. “In the West, say the United Kingdom or the United States, it’ll have more of a customerservice packaging, but chances are it’ll fulfill, at least in part, the same role”— i.e., some of those smiling bellhops greeting you at the door might actually be security personnel, hired to keep an eye on entrances and visitors. ■ STAFF AND TRAINING Hospitality risk consultants across the board stress the importance of thorough vetting (including background checks), rigorous training and regular proficiency testing of even the most junior staffers. Some hotel chains began internal reviews within days of the Mumbai attacks; McIndoe’s firm dispatched agents to


conduct emergency audits on more than 50 hotels around the world in December alone. “There’s huge turnover in the industry; institutional knowledge bleeds out fast,” says Jan Schnabel, global hospitality and gaming practice leader at Marsh, a global insurance broker. “Hotels need to check constantly that all employees are proficient in the execution of any emergency response.” The drills work: Devendra Bharma, executive vice president of Oberoi Hotels & Resorts, Mumbai (including both the Trident and the Oberoi), cites his 1,400-strong staff ’s regular evacuation exercises as the reason that more than 450 guests from both hotels were led to safety during the November attacks. ■ GOVERNMENT–HOTEL COOPERATION One of the major lessons of Mumbai: any hotel concerned with security should have its floor plans on file with the local fire department. Already standard in New York and other U.S. cities, this procedure is predicted to become commonplace at high-end hotels worldwide. (It’s one of the most important booking conditions in the new Traveler Safety Recommendations guide, compiled by the Association of Corporate Travel Executives.) Beyond that, more hotels in hot zones are turning to private crisis- and riskmanagement companies, which supply intelligence on countries and regions and facilitate communication with government or law-enforcement officials. This can be mutually beneficial: John O’Sullivan, general manager of the Four Seasons Jimbaran Bay and Sayan resorts in Bali, credits the crucial tourist economy as one of the key factors behind local authorities’ “solid commitment” to exchanging intelligence with his properties (and, he says, most of the others on the island) since the 2002 and 2005 bombings there that left more than 200 people, including many tourists, dead.

■ DESIGN These days security is often incorporated at the most preliminary design stages of a new hotel, whether it’s a 20-villa resort or a 500-room tower. Control Risks has an entire section made up of engineers, terrorism-damage experts and security designers that tailors building templates to clients’ security needs. Industry conversation about “designing in” safety measures ranges from discussions of technology (more extensive key-card reading systems) and materials (antiballistic glass used in lobbies and elsewhere) to a hotel’s layout (driveways that circumvent guest areas entirely, deeper setbacks from streets). After the Mumbai attacks, talk of lockdown systems in lobbies and restaurants (mobile walls that would seal them off in seconds in the event of an attack) increased. McIndoe, however, is skeptical of their usefulness. “The last thing you’d want is a malfunctioning lockdown system trapping people inside during a fire.” One thing most experts agree on is limiting access to guest floors: “Any new hotel that’s not incorporating elevator key-card readers is missing the boat,” Schnabel says. “There’s no good reason someone on the fourth floor should have access to every other floor.” ■ MANAGING PERCEPTION Though hotels are tight-lipped about their security enhancements today, McIndoe predicts it won’t be long before properties worldwide begin marketing them to travelers. He even goes so far as to posit the emergence of a “fortress hotel” brand targeted to high-risk regions. Somewhat trickier will be acclimating guests to the upgraded protocols—extra guards, or security questions at check-in—in Marrakesh or Istanbul; or, for that matter, Los Angeles or London. In other words, hoteliers are exploring how to frame security the way they do 400-thread-count sheets—as both a »

SAFETY CHECK-IN: CRUISES Since last November’s pirate attack on an Oceania cruise ship in the Gulf of Aden (GOA), cruising security has been in the spotlight. Though the chance of an attack is small, cruise lines have been taking measures to ensure that it doesn’t happen again. Regent Seven Seas, for example, equipped its vessels with short-range radar, which can pick up the presence of small fishing boats (commonly used by pirates). Several companies have also removed the GOA route — which runs between Somalia and Yemen and is the only stretch of water where cruise ships have been under attack — from their itineraries. In the meantime, the United Nations recently called for armed boats to police GOA waters and provide emergency relief in case of an assault. Despite the headline-grabbing piracy, the biggest priority for cruise lines remains port safety: making sure that unauthorized travelers and baggage don’t get onto a ship. After 9/11, the International Maritime Organization instituted stricter regulations, requiring that all cargo be X-rayed and that cruises provide passengers with identification cards. So far, the efforts have proved extremely effective at keeping unauthorized people and cargo off the ships.— S T I R L I N G K E L S O

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SAFETY CHECK-IN: TRAINS AND SUBWAYS Despite its lack of uniform standards, Europe is at the vanguard of rail security, having invested US$21 million in safety research in 2007. Spain’s busiest rail lines, as well as Eurostar’s Brussels, London and Paris routes, have airport-style passenger screening with X-ray machines, metal detectors and passport control. In London, British Transport Police in rail stations and the tube have increased by 36 percent since 2003. And surveillance cameras will increase by more than 40 percent by 2012. The United States has been slower to respond on the technology front, but passenger searches are on the rise. Last fall, Amtrak boosted its police presence by deploying teams to check commuters and luggage on the nation’s busiest platforms. Undercover officers are also patrolling stations, dressed as businessmen or homeless people. As in Europe, Asian standards vary from country to country. In Bangkok, subway officials manually check bags and have replaced trash cans with clear plastic containers. Tokyo will increase the number of cameras in its subway stations to 5,700 by 2011. More-dramatic measures are taking place in Beijing, which is Asia’s first city to use X-ray machines throughout its 200-kilometer subway network.— J E N N I F E R F L O W E R S

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privilege of luxury and a cornerstone of customer service. Already, properties are updating their in-room compendiums with security information. Schnabel has been working with hotels to add information on “geopolitical conditions, crime rates—a view of the local picture.” The idea is to provide a best-practice guide, so guests clearly understand both the destination’s inherent risks and the hotel’s security procedures. The encouraging news is that the expertise, technology and motivation to make hotels safer is there, and it’s being tapped. But nearly every source agreed that travelers need to be informed and proactive themselves. Just as hotel

managers familiarize themselves with local political developments, religious holidays, crime rates and other dynamic barometers of risk, so should you. (See “T+L’s Safety Tips,” below.) They also emphasize the relatively small risk associated with terrorist attacks. McIndoe estimates that a traveler has a 1 in 10 million chance of being in a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, in India, your chance of being in a fatal car accident is 1 in 22,000. “We try to help people step back and remind themselves of the bigger picture,” McIndoe says. “And would I personally stay at the Taj Mahal tomorrow? Absolutely.” ✚

T+L'S SAFETY TIPS

No matter where you travel, there are ways you can protect yourself. Here, advice from the experts ● Be informed. Read up on the social and political situation in the regions you are traveling through. Check the websites of your foreign ministry for alerts and advisories. Both the U.S. State Department’s website (travel.state. gov) and the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office (fco.gov.uk) maintain detailed, country-specific reports. ● Stay connected. Bring a mobile phone or PDA that works overseas, or buy a pre-paid phone on the GSM network when you arrive. And make sure the device remains adequately charged. ● Know who to contact. Find out the number of the local consulate at your destination. Some countries also have a hotline for the citizens. ● Register your travel plans. Send your itinerary and contact details to your consulate or embassy if you’re heading to a high-risk region. This way you can be reached in case of emergency. ● Buy travel insurance. Consider plans that include security/repatriation services. Ask your insurance company if it provides evacuation plans, or sign up for MedjetAssist (medjet.com), a private membership company that arranges emergency jet transportation. ● Vet your hotel. Choose a property with good security features and access control, such as a well-staffed lobby and electronic room locks (which make it less likely that someone else will have a copy of your key). ● Keep a low profile. Tourists are targets because they look out of place, says Robert Siciliano, a Boston-based security consultant and author of The Safety Minute. Avoid dressing in a flashy manner and don’t wear valuables. —W I N G S Z E TA N G

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smart traveler | strategies carriers from other regions) or into Canada, though not into Europe. At Canadian airports, for example, airlines must announce schedule changes, give meal vouchers for delays of more than four hours, and hotel accommodations for those of more than eight hours. Passengers now must be given the option to disembark if they’ve been stuck on the tarmac for more than 90 minutes. The European Commission’s rules specify that delays or cancellations that prevent you from completing your trip entitle you to a refund of the unused portions within seven days, even on nonrefundable tickets. Hotel accommodations and meals must be provided for delays of 24 hours or more. In the absence of a U.S. nationwide Passenger Bill of Rights (the Department of Transportation approved a set of voluntary guidelines in November), some states have taken it on individually, with little luck. In 2007, New York passed such a bill after delays on the tarmac at JFK Airport stranded JetBlue travelers for more than 10 hours. But the bill was knocked down by a federal appellate court. In Australia, passengers rights are protected under fair trade laws, but in Asia, there’s little recourse for passengers. Still, there are steps that you take now.

Passenger Rights T+L’s ANDREA BENNETT explains your rights as a flier and what you should (and shouldn’t) expect from the airlines AST SUMMER, AT LAS VEGAS’S MCCARRAN AIRPORT, I stood behind a frustrated Delta passenger whose delayed flight had caused him to miss a connection. He was indignantly invoking Rule 240, insisting that Delta had to put him on a flight with another carrier, which elicited a chuckle from the agent. Rule 240, a 30-year-old relic of the days when airlines were regulated, at one time bound carriers to put you on the next available flight. These days, the airlines make their own rules; some have retained the name “Rule 240.” Unfortunately, Delta’s policy allows for its “sole discretion.” I often receive e-mails from other travelers incredulous at how little recourse they have in such a situation. And it’s true: most airline contracts of carriage (the agreement you enter into with the airline when you fly) contain oblique language and frustrating loopholes. Canada introduced Flight Rights Canada in September, and Europe has had a formalized set of passenger rights since 2005. The good news is, you’re covered if you’re flying out of either place (even on

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■ CHECK THE AIRLINE’S CONTRACT OF CARRIAGE Every airline posts a contract of carriage (sometimes called “conditions of carriage”) on its website. Each is different; Northwest, for example, states that it will put you on another airline’s flight if you experience a missed connection and a Northwest flight is unavailable, while Delta, as mentioned, has the final say. Familiarizing yourself with—or even printing out— your airline’s current rules before you fly may save you angst later. And flying with companies that voluntarily abide by some rules is a good idea. JetBlue has since developed its own customer bill of rights, promising that you will never be stuck on a plane for longer than five hours and that you’ll be compensated with vouchers for future travel if you experience delays of more than one hour. ■ KNOW WHAT THE RULES ARE ABROAD In case you are traveling from Canada or Europe on a U.S. or Asian carrier, the distinct possibility exists that the airline’s staff won’t be aware that you have more rights there. You’ll find the European Commission’s rules at its Air Transport Portal (apr. europa.eu), and Flight Rights Canada on the Transport Canada website (tc.gc.ca/flightrights). ✚ T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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Berlin stories. Restaurants, galleries and more in the German capital <(page 48)

Trendspotter. Design Hotels’ founder reveals what the future holds <(page 54)

Woven magic. A new take on an ancient art in Suzhou (page 38) >

+

• Singapore Slings, re-mixed • Restaurants with to-die-for views • Explore Saigon’s art scene

(Insider) Photo credit by tktktk

C LO C KW I S E F RO M TO P L E F T: C H O N G F U ZAO ; © JA N K RA N E N D O N K / D R E A M ST I M E .CO M ; CO U RT ESY O F D ES I G N H OT E L S AG ; K EV I N M I L L E R ; CO U RT ESY O F G U ’S E M B RO I D E RY

Past perfect. A cutting-edge museum in China looks to history <(page 44)

Where to GoWhat to EatWhere to StayWhat to Buy

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| newsflash Steeped in Style Tea boutiques are taking artisanal brewing to new levels

Out of Africa Fashion gets a decidedly African twist this spring with the launch of Suno (openingceremony.us), a colorful clothing line created by up-and-coming designer Max Osterweis and inspired by his frequent visits to Kenya. Using vintage textiles, Osterweis’s whimsical collection of dresses, tunics and swimwear is handcrafted by local artisans in Nairobi. “This is a chance to show the world a different side of the country—something other than safaris, coffee and political unrest,” the designer says. Mission accomplished. —MIMI 32

LOMBARDO

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TEA

London’s Miller Harris Fragrant Tea Room.

Kusmi Tea, in Paris, above. Left: The café at Kusmi.

C L O C K W I S E F R O M T O P : D AV I E S + S TA R R ; C O U R T E S Y O F M I L L E R H A R R I S ; C O U R T E S Y O F K U S M I T E A ( 2 )

FA S H I O N

PARIS The legendary Russian-style blends of Kusmi Tea (56 Rue de Seine, Sixth Arr.; 33-1/46-34-29-06) have been a Paris staple since 1867, but the bright little boutique and café, decorated with sleek tables and chairs and lined with colorful tins on shelves, brings tea-sipping into the 21st century. LONDON At Luponde Tea (70 Burlington Arcade; 44-20/7493-4936), organic leaves from Tanzania fill snappy black canisters. Don’t miss the peppermint infusion. Nearby, legendary perfumer Lyn Harris mixes oolong and black teas with the natural essences (rose oil from Turkey; vanilla from Madagascar) of her cult fragrance line, Miller Harris, at Miller Harris Fragrant Tea Room (21 Bruton St.; 44-20/7629-7750), her new London salon. MIAMI Tea-N-Sanity (13022 S.W. 120 St.; 1-305/951-2448) sells ready-to-drink blends, but keeps herbs on hand to cure whatever ails you, be it joint pain or migraines. LOS ANGELES Waitresses dressed in tongue-in-cheek French-maid uniforms pour concoctions such as milky matcha at Royal/T (8910 Washington Blvd., Culver City; 1-310/5596300).— C H A R L O T T E D RU C K M A N


BREAKFAST TREATS

B+B

F R O M T O P : C O U R T E SY O F B O N T O N R E S O R T; C O U R T E SY O F L E M É R I D I E N ; C O U R T E SY O F TA N G U L A L U X U R Y T R A I N S ( 2 )

A Historic Stay Some of the most memorable lodgings in Penang’s Georgetown are located in the town’s stunning, historic buildings. You can now add another to that list: 110 Armenian Street (60-4/955-6787). For RM1,500 a night, you can rent a lovingly renovated prewar shophouse comprising three bedrooms, two bathrooms, two comfortable living areas and a kitchenette. The structure retains charming original touches such as painted floor tiles and a central open airwell, and is eclectically kitted out with period pieces and contemporary furnishings. Entertainment options take the form of cable, a DVD player, copious reading material, Wi-Fi and a well-stocked bar. Located just steps from galleries, historic sites, cafés and Penang’s famous hawker fare, it’s an ideal base from which to explore the UNESCO heritage site. — R O BY N EC K H A R DT

TRANSPORT

Jean-Georges Vongerichten wants to help you start the day on the right foot. The French mega-star chef has created a special breakfast menu for Le Méridien properties worldwide (lemeridien.com). Servers first dole out complimentary minishakes—comprised of fruit and spices and served in shot glasses—meant to rouse the palate. Diners can then choose from a menu of classic breakfast dishes as reimagined by Vongerichten: an oatmeal soufflé with blackberries and currents; a buckwheat crêpe filled with spinach and Gruyère; lush smoked salmon paired with a surprising duo of silken tofu and raspberry vinegar (it works); creamy eggs cooked with the steamer on an espresso machine. With food this good, you might want to consider skipping lunch. FOOD

Mini-shakes at Le Méridien to wake you up.

Slow Train in China

Traveling by train is one of the classic ways of seeing China, a country that boasts one of the world’s most extensive networks. Starting later this year, travelers will have an option beyond hard and soft sleeper class: Tangula Luxury Trains (tangulaluxurytrains.com; trips from US$3,300) will start running journeys between Beijing and Lhasa, and Beijing and Lijiang in the southwestern Yunnan province. On board are 48 en-suite rooms appointed with expensive linens; 24-hour butlers; spa therapists; and on the Beijing– Lhasa route, a system that pumps in oxygen to help guests acclimatize to the high altitudes. There’s also Wi-Fi and full entertainment systems. But with the spectacular scenery outside, you probably need few distractions. T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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| newsflash SLING SHOT

For nearly a century, the Singapore Sling—the famous pink-hued cocktail of gin, Benedictine, kirsch, lemon juice, orange bitters, Angostura bitters and club soda—has been linked with the Raffles Hotel, where it was created. But now, The Fullerton Hotel Singapore’s everstylish Post Bar (1 Fullerton Sq.; 65/6733-8388; fullertonhotel.com) has upped the ante with its new Sling Collection, a reinterpretation of the iconic tipple in seven new, slightly less sweet versions (S$19 each). The Lychee Sling, for instance, blends lychee liqueur with gin and pineapple juice, while the Coco Sling is a tropical cooler of coconut rum, gin, Fraise de Boise and pineapple juice. But if, in this credit crunch, a defiant mood lifter is required, the Gold Sling is an icy concoction of gin, Goldschlager, cinnamon schnapps and real gold dust. Traditionalists should breathe easy though—the original version in all its glory is still on offer.—DAV E N W U

ART

Parallel Worlds Known for its avant-garde shows, the Mori Art Museum (53rd floor, Roppongi Hills Mori Tower, 6-10-1 Roppongi, Minato-ku; 813/5777-8600; mori.art.museum; admission Y1,500) this month opens an exhibition in collaboration with the forward-thinking Vienna-based foundation Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary. Titled “The Kaleidoscopic Eye” (April 4–July 5), the show tackles the big questions of perception and reality, with installations by luminaries from the international art world such as Olafur Eliasson, Matthew Ritchie and Carsten Höller.

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Bar Descending a Staircase The Surrealist-inspired Luxe Manor hotel in Hong Kong looks to an earlier art movement with its new live jazz venue. At Dada Bar + Lounge (2nd floor, The Luxe Manor, 39 Kimberley Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui; 852/3763-7887; theluxemanor. com), Hong Kong designer Jacky Wong translates the shock tactics of the Dadaists into tongue-incheek kitsch: overstuffed velvet sofas, free-form chandeliers and a black-lacquered bar with galloping horses sprouting from the corners. The lounge also features three private dining rooms — themed “Hell,” “Heaven” and “Eden,” and decorated accordingly — and a private, Italian-focused club–gallery where classes on art, food and wine will be held.

F R O M B O T T O M L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F T H E F U L L E R T O N H O T E L S I N G A P O R E ; J E N F O N G P H O T O G R A P H Y/ T H YSS E N - BO R N E M I SZA A RT CO N T E M P O RA RY; CO U RT ESY O F T H E LUX E M A N O R ( 3 )

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Stays à la Mode in Asia Four openings in the region where you can sleep in style—JENNIFER CHEN

HOTELS

LOCATION

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THE LOOK

HIGHLIGHTS

Capella Singapore 1 The Knolls, Sentosa Island; 65/6377-8888; capellasingapore.com; doubles from S$550.

Alila Villas Uluwatu Bali Jln. Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tambiyak, Desa Pecatu; 62361/848-21-66; alilahotels. com; villas from US$$725.

Aman New Delhi India Lodhi Rd.; 91-11/4363-3333; amanresorts.com; doubles from US$550.

Bawa House 87 Sri Lanka No. 87 Galle Rd., Bentota; 94-777/908-168; info@ bawahouse87.com; houses from US$100.

Sprawling over 12 hectares of rain forest on Sentosa, the resort is built around a stately 1880’s colonial edifice (complete with porticos and verandahs) that was built to house British officers.

A surfer’s paradise that is rapidly emerging as Bali’s latest hotspot. The resort, opening in June, is perched on a limestone cliff 100 meters above the sea.

Amanresorts’ debut in a city setting is situated in the center of New Delhi, close to historical sites like Humayun’s Tomb and the Nizamuddin complex.

Along the idyllic southern coast of Sri Lanka, about three hours from Colombo’s international airport. This part of Sri Lanka has not been directly affected by the civil war.

The figure-eight-shaped modern wing, designed by Norman Foster, features a terracotta-colored metal roof and aluminum louvers that echo the design of the original building, which has been gloriously restored. Inside, the 111 guest rooms (including a presidential manor) are tastefully decorated in muted shades of beige and cream.

Designed by the Singapore-based architecture firm WOHA, the 84 villas sport an ecoluxe look; sustainable materials — reclaimed wood, volcanic stone, bamboo and rattan — are combined with clean lines. Each villa comes with its own pool and pavilion, both overlooking the Indian Ocean.

With jaali screens and an internal courtyard, this property — which opened in March — pays discreet homage to its historical setting. Indian notes also grace the hotel’s 39 rooms and suites: handmade rugs, khareda stone and dark wood paneling.

Sri Lanka’s greatest architect, Geoffrey Bawa, designed this villa that now houses three wellappointed guest rooms. The villa is nestled on 7 hectares of landscaped gardens (also designed by Bawa) that border a lake and marshlands teeming with wildlife.

Personal assistants, a 1,115square-meter spa and fitness center, and a sculpture garden.

Butler service, a yoga and Pilates studio, and tailormade classes in everything from cooking to sculpture to jewelry-making.

A 1,712-square-meter spa complete with two marbled hammams and a bamboo garden, and squash and tennis courts.

The villa comes with a cook and two gardeners.

TRIP TUNES Looking to create a special playlist for your next road trip? Log onto amplifiedjourneys.hk, a new website from the sound system gurus at Harman/Kardon that helps travelers pick out the right tunes. Just plug in your point of origin and destination, and several suggested playlists pop up, including one featuring bands from locales along your route. The website also provides directions as well. Currently in its beta form, the service is free, though you’ll have to pay to download the playlist from iTunes.

TREND

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| newsflash

E AT

RESTAURANTS WITH A VIEW

At these four new hotel dining rooms, the sights are as big a draw as the food.—A N YA WHERE

VIEW

VIBE

DISH

El Jardín, Mallorca, Spain Finca Cortesin, Carr. de Casares; 34/952-937-898; lunch for two 110 euros.

A languid, Moorishinspired Andalusian mood prevails where brilliant Dutch chef Schilo Van Coevorden updates Spanish classics.

Follow the ajo blanco (a garlicky almond gazpacho with lavender flowers) with wild sea bass baked in a crust of thyme-scented salt.

From its high vantage point the dining room has sweeping Mediterranean views. On a clear day you can see Morocco.

Zuma, Istanbul Radisson SAS Bosphorus 7 Salhane Sokak, Ortaköy; 90-212/ 236-2296; dinner for two 220 lira.

An outpost of the buzzworthy London original, the bi-level space has an understated Zen-like design and a neo-Japanese menu that’s a huge hit with sushi lovers.

Besides the artful sushi rolls, try cooked dishes like spicy beef tenderloin with chili and sesame, and a fabulous misomarinated black cod wrapped in hoba leaf.

Watch boats glide by on the Bosporus, and to your left stands the neo-Baroque Ortaköy Mosque.

Sixteen, Chicago 16th floor, Trump International Hotel & Tower, 401 N. Wabash St.; 1-312/5888030; lunch for two US$64.

The loft-like dining rooms are perfect for a power breakfast or a lunch of chef Frank Brunacci’s unfussy New American food.

Reserve a window seat in the Tower Room and order the juicy steak sandwich on olive bread, served with addictive gaufrette french fries.

The clock on the iconic Wrigley Building is almost at eye level — plus one of the world’s greatest lineups of skyscrapers, along the Chicago River, and Lake Michigan beyond.

China Grill, Beijing 66th floor, Park Hyatt, Jianguomenwai St.; 86-10/85671234; dinner for two RMB820.

Bold designs blending bamboo, banyan trees and pebble mosaics under a glass pyramid ceiling are a hit with local bigwigs and travelers alike.

Book a seat at the communal Hot Table near the water wall and zero in on Chinese fare, like the fat, crusty pork potstickers and the scallops with pungent XO sauce.

A jaw-dropping 360degree panorama of Beijing: the entire city twinkles beneath you like some sort of hightech magic carpet.

Hall of Fame New York’s Lincoln Center (lincolncenter.org) kicked off a US$1.2 billion modernization in February with the debut of the renovated Alice Tully Hall. Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro in association with FXFowle Architects, the space, which hosts chamber-music and jazz concerts, now has a 572-square-meter, glassenclosed outer lobby with a café-bar; sound design by acoustics consulting firm JaffeHolden; and 1,088 seats. Don’t miss performances by Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble (June 5–6) featuring traditional arrangements and new works by emerging composers.—JANE LEVERE 36

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F R O M T O P : C O U R T E SY O F F I N C A C O R T E S I N ; C O U R T E SY O F S A S R A D I S S O N H O T E L S & R E S O R T S ; C O U R T E SY O F T R U M P I N T E R N AT I O N A L H O T E L & T O W E R ; C O U R T E S Y O F H YAT T H O T E L S & R E S O R T S ; R E N D E R I N G B Y D I L L E R S C O F I D I O + R E N F R O I N A S S O C I AT I O N W I T H F X F O W L E A R C H I T E C T S

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| preservation

Gu’s Embroidery in Suzhou is renowned for its handiwork.

Thread of History. The ancient Chinese art of embroidery gets a fresh spin at this renowned Suzhou-based studio. By CARMEN TING INCE THE SHANG DYNASTY, intricate embroidery has embellished clothing, furniture and accessories in China. Over the centuries, four main styles emerged, including the Su school of Suzhou, the picturesque riverside town near Shanghai that’s long been famed for its fine silk. With a history that stretches several millennia, the Su style became popular in the Song dynasty, and it’s known for its attention to detail and delicacy, achieved by splitting a thin thread into many strands. As with other traditional Chinese art forms, embroidery is often mired in certain themes: landscapes with limestone karsts, a bird nestled on a flowering branch. But one storied workshop, Gu’s Embroidery, has expanded its repertoire to include contemporary portraits and even reproductions of famous Western paintings. Started in the late Qing dynasty and now run by brother–sister team Gu Xiaoxian and Gu Yulai (both accomplished embroiders themselves), Gu’s Embroidery now has galleries in Changzhou, Yangzhou, Tianjin, Shenzhen and Hong Kong. What sets their handiwork apart is the use of “random” stitches, a technique developed in the 1920’s that involves layering stitches and colors to mimic the shadowing and light found in oil paintings. Hundreds of colors are used in each piece to create subtle color changes and extremely fine threads are used. A large piece can take up to two years to complete. While Gu Yulai now oversees the business side of things, Gu Xiaoxian continues to wield a needle; her work includes everything from traditional landscapes to a rendering of Gustav Klimt’s The Kiss. Asked what the toughest subjects for her are, she says, “Portraits are hard enough and people’s eyes are the hardest part.” Hong Kong: Shop A, ground floor, 69 Hollywood Rd., Central; 852/3521-0135 and Suzhou: 207-B-3, The Suzhou X2, 1388 Binghe Lu; 86/134-0257-4584; silkarts.com.hk. 

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Khmer Chic. Three stylish boutique hotels in off-the-beaten track destinations around Cambodia. By NAOMI LINDT

QTERRES ROUGES LODGE Since his first encounter with Cambodia in 1992 as a UNTAC peacekeeper, Frenchman Pierre-Yves Clais hasn’t looked back: he married a Khmer woman, had three children and purchased a wooden mansion in the wild northeastern province of Ratanakiri, eight hours from Phnom Penh. Over the last 10 years, the couple have transformed what was once the local governor’s home into a 23-room hotel that exudes an old world, adventurer’s charm, with antique furnishings, sepiatinged family photos on the walls, and objects they’ve picked up traveling, such as totems from Papua New Guinea. Local handicrafts—like the curved-leg opium beds in the rooms—

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Cambodia Catches Up Colonial ambience in La Villa, in Battambang; outside Terres Rouges Lodge, in Ratanakiri.

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are scattered throughout, while Clais’s passion for history is reflected in the seven spacious suites, which are named for explorers and writers. A swim in the foliage-shaded pool or a massage in one of the balés is ideal for winding down after a day of exploring the surrounding waterfalls and forests. Come nighttime, guests congregate at the open-air, lanternlit restaurant, sampling dishes like fish amok and coq au vin. Bonus Point Roses, hibiscus and frangipani from the lush garden are placed in the rooms daily. Ban Lung; 855-75/975051; ratanakiri-lodge.com; doubles from US$40. QLE RELAIS DE CHHLONG Built in 1916 by a Chinese–Khmer family, this French colonial villa is one of the oldest houses still standing in Cambodia. It’s just one of several notable buildings to be explored in the tiny village of Chhlong, a four-hour drive from Phnom Penh and just 60 minutes from Kratie, home of the rare Irrawaddy dolphin. The building’s breathtaking architecture, which combines Italian Renaissance and Greek Revival styling, once lured guests like former king Norodom Sihanouk, and a few unwanted tenants, too—both the Khmer Rouge and Vietnamese army set up headquarters inside. After a massive renovation in 2004, it’s now a tranquil getaway with just four rooms that meld original elements—high ceilings, wood floors, colorful ceramic tiles—with modern luxuries like flat-screen TV’s and DVD players. Each room has its own balcony with comfy teak chairs; two offer full views of the Mekong River. Before dinner (served at one large table), guests can take an aperitif at the poolside terrace, looking out onto a garden filled with fragrant flowering trees. Bonus Point The staff packs picnic lunches to take along on day trips into the countryside. Chhlong; 855-89/597-960; www.nicimex.com/chhlong; doubles from US$75. 

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Q LA VILLA It’s taken decades for the elegant, erstwhile home of a Chinese merchant to return to its former splendor. Built in the 1930’s in the riverside town of Battambang, four hours northwest of Phnom Penh, this mustard yellow, red-roofed colonial building would fall into disrepair at the hands of soldiers and squatters before being reborn as a seven-room boutique hotel in 2005. Art Deco furniture, silk lamps and metal fans create an Indochine ambience. Rooms feature four-poster beds with mosquito nets and potted plants; some have terraces with river views. Though it’s tempting to spend all day at the new pool, which is edged with dramatic black-and-yellow slabs of stone, Battambang’s historic French shophouses and idyllic country roads aren’t to be missed. Thanks to its fully stocked bar, fantastic food, and ambient iron-and-glass covered terrace, La Villa’s restaurant is also the chicest place to eat in town. Bonus Point The cozy velour armchairs in the lounge are perfect for a pre-dinner glass of bubbly. No. 185 Pom Romchek 5 Kom; 855-53/730-151; lavilla-battambang.com; doubles from US$60.


insider

| see it

Liangzhu Culture Museum, Hangzhou. A striking new space sheds light on a long-forgotten ancient culture. By GARY BOWERMAN

CHINA

ONCE-CONTAMINATED industrial site in China might not seem like a natural choice for a worldclass museum. But the locale, set in the hills outside the lakeside town of Hangzhou, is home to one of the most significant archaeological discoveries in China in modern times. In 1935, workers building a cemetery in the area unearthed a stash of burnished pottery and jade treasures. Subsequent digs revealed 135 prehistoric sites, including the remains of tombs, a palace and a sprawling settlement. Archaeologists say the sites belonged to the Liangzhu civilization that thrived in the fertile plains of the Yangtze River Delta around 3000 B.C. Innovative farmers and skilled craftsmen, the Liangzhu were experts in pottery and jade carving, and the many jade relics found at the sites have earned them the moniker, “the Jade Culture.” Those relics now have a new home: opened last October, the 9,500-square-meter Liangzhu Culture Museum is a striking addition to China’s growing collection of design-driven museums. Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the Liangzhu museum is composed of four rectangular blocks built out

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of cream-and-tan Iranian travertine stone that are equal in width but vary in height. Overlooking a man-made lake, the building’s sharp lines make it seem like a tomb—a deliberate move to focus attention on the collection within. Once inside, the world of the Liangzhu unfolds through a series of three galleries, each connected to an interior courtyard—a familiar motif in Chinese architecture. The courtyards come adorned with reflective pools, wisteria trees and wooden benches, making them the perfect spot to contemplate the now-pristine surroundings. English audio guides are available at the ipe-wood reception desk. The museum’s most prized exhibits are the lacquered pottery utensils and exquisite jade carvings and implements. There’s also a recreation of a Liangzhu village, replete with thatched farmhouses and craftsmen. It’s an ambitious attempt to meld modernity and history with the natural landscape. And in a country still learning how to reconcile its past with its present and future, that’s welcome news. 1 Meilizhou Lu, Liangzhu; 86-571/8877-8900; admission is free; audio tours RMB5. 

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Modernity meets antiquity at the Liangzhu Cultural Museum.


insider | the

arts

Made in Saigon. Visual arts are taking off in Vietnam’s biggest city. Here, T+L picks some of the city’s most exciting galleries where you can catch a glimpse of what’s new. By GEMMA PRICE

VIETNAM

Art with your coffee at Himiko Visual Saloon, a café–gallery in Saigon.

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Photographed by KEVIN MILLER


■ HIMIKO VISUAL SALOON Recently relocated to a spacious location in downtown Saigon, this cozy café– gallery finds favor among the city’s creative class for its offbeat pieces, quirky installations, and performances by local and international artists. Don’t Miss Photos and videos of “Super Structures,” a multi-country art project sponsored by a little blah blah (see sidebar) project, lighthearted photographic exhibition “1000 Jumps,” and Le Vo Tuan’s brightly colored, patterned canvases. 324 Bis Dien Bien Phu St., District 10; 84/958-881-908. ■ GALERIE QUYNH Housed in a beautifully renovated 1920’s French colonial villa in the thick of Saigon’s bustling District 1, this cool white space provides an oasis from the cheerful chaos outside. Established in 2000 in by a Viet Kieu, Quynh Pham, and British expatriate Robert Cianchi, the 200-square-meter gallery exhibits works by provocative local and international artists. Don’t Miss Hoang Duong Cam’s series of paintings and flash animations, titled, “Projecting into the night what has gone with the dawn,” Tiffany Chung’s sci-fi fantasy themed “Wonderland” and the light-hearted “Food for Thought,” by Trong Gia Nguyen. 65 De Tham St., District 1; 848/3836-8019; galeriequynh.com. ■ DUC MINH GALLERY Duc Minh was one of Vietnam’s pioneering art collectors, and after his death in 1983, his son Bui Quoc Chi continued to build on his legacy. When his bid to open an art museum was blocked, the business tycoon instead set up an art gallery in a colonial-style mansion. The building’s two floors are dedicated to contemporary art, while the basement holds works by Vietnamese masters. Most of his 1,000-strong collection remains in storage, but what’s on view here does provide an insight into Vietnamese art. Don’t Miss Tran Long’s captivating photograph-like still-lifes, and Dang Xuan Hoa’s strikingly distorted portraits. 31C Le Quy Don St., District 3; 84-8/3933-0498. ■ BLUE SPACE CONTEMPORARY ARTS CENTER With its ocher walls and internal courtyard complete with a quaint bridge, the rambling colonial building that houses the Blue Space Contemporary Arts Center is an attraction unto itself. Inside the 120-square-meter space, local expert Tran Thi Nguyen Nga curates a collection featuring artists from throughout Southeast Asia, from sculptures and luridly colored abstract paintings to contemporary representations of timeless Vietnamese themes: village scenes, willowy girls in ao dais and water buffaloes in the fields. Don’t Miss Tran Quang Dinh’s colorful take on traditional bamboo boats. 97A Pho Duc Chinh St., District 1, 84-8/3821-3696; bluespacearts.com/home.htm. ✚

Avant-garde in Saigon From top: A contemporary painting at Galerie Quynh; inside Duc Minh Gallery; outside Blue Space Contemporary Arts Center.

Art Movement Founded in 2005 by three Saigonbased artists, a little blah blah is one of the few organized efforts to promote contemporary art in Vietnam. Besides hosting screenings, talks and exhibitions, the initiative also runs residency programs and internships. If you want to delve deeper into the art scene, log onto their blog — albbsaigon. blogspot.com — for the latest events.

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Deutsch Treats The Oberbaum Bridge over the Spree River. Below: Contemporary Fine Arts, in Mitte. Left: The Club del Mar breakfast café at Ackselhaus Blue Home.

flux. Use T+L’s handy guide to the hotels, neighborhoods, restaurants and galleries you should know. By RALPH MARTIN

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AYOR K LAUS WOWEREIT’S description of Berlin in 2003 as “poor but sexy” still holds, but these days the city is much more than shabby chic. Massive construction has brought bright new spaces to the Mitte district, mainly consisting of upscale restaurants and watering holes clustered around Friedrichstrasse. Meanwhile, the latest evolution of Berlin’s cherished cheap-thrills aesthetic is centered in the Kreuzberg neighborhood, where a buzzing, multicultural scene is now drawing clusters of creative types. Read on for more on where to find the essential Berlin experience.

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The News from Berlin. Germany’s dynamic capital is in constant


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The Changing Berlin Clockwise from top left: A Sunday night in Berlin’s Mitte district; the restaurant Ma Tim Raue, at the Adlon; a performance at the opening of Tal R’s “Adieu Interessant” exhibition at the Contemporary Fine Arts gallery; a guest room at the Meliá Berlin.

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Oranienstrasse in Kreuzberg, the former center of radical West Berlin, is now one big sidewalk café spiced with kebab shops and leading-edge, cheap-chic boutiques like Egoiste (202 Oranienstrasse; 4930/4030-1879; egoiste-fashion. de) and UVR Connected (36 Oranienstrasse; 49-39/88427009; uvrconnected.de). Magazine junkies relish Motto Berlin (68 Skalitzer Strasse; mottodistribution.wordpress.com; no phone) for its archives of artsy, hard-to-find publications. After dark, the club SO36 (190 Oranienstrasse; 4930/6140-1306; so36.de) hosts an energetic bingo night in addition to bills of see-them now bands. Over in Mitte, a mix of fashion and media types frequent Tausend (11 Schiffbauerdamm; 49-30/41715469; tausendberlin.com), built under the tracks of the commuter S-Bahn train.

Kreuzberg’s upscale favorite Horváth (44A Paul-Lincke-Ufer; 49-30/6128-9992; dinner for two 77 euros) serves refined takes on standards like duck breast and lamb shank with perfect wine pairings. San Nicci (101 Friedrichstrasse; 4930/3064-54980; dinner for two 100 euros) offers modern Italian cuisine and the most flattering lighting in town. The must-book spots these days are in Mitte’s stately Hotel Adlon Kempinski: Ma Tim Raue and Uma (72 Behrenstrasse; 49-30/301117333; dinner for two at Ma Tim Raue 210 euros; dinner for two at Uma 105 euros), star chef Tim Raue’s twin restaurants. Uma is more low-key, with an open kitchen and a Japaneseinspired mix-and-match menu, and Ma Tim Raue veers more toward the eccentric (fish maw) and extravagant (diamond-label beef).

The Meliá Berlin hotel (103 Friedrichstrasse; 49-30/20607900; solmelia.com; doubles from 147 euros) sits along the Spree River and has splendid views. German celebs (Boris Becker, movie star Til Schweiger) flock to the Rocco Forte Hotel de Rome (37 Behrenstrasse; 49-30/460-6090; roccofortecollection.com, doubles from 395 euros) and its playful lobby full of giant urns, while Madonna has ducked the paparazzi at the striking Biedermeier-style Regent (49 Charlottenstrasse; 49-30/20338; regenthotels.com; doubles from 184.50 euros). Meanwhile, Ackselhaus Blue Home (21 Belforter Strasse; 49-30/44312603; ackselhaus.de; doubles from 150 euros) presents an alluring combination of elegance and affordability—as well as the stylish breakfast café Club del Mar—on a tree-lined street in Prenzlauer Berg.

Don’t miss Mitte’s cavernous, high-end Contemporary Fine Arts (10 Am Kupfergraben; 4930/288-7870; cfa-berlin.com), three stories of huge rooms and high ceilings with space for oversize sculptures and canvases by the likes of Georg Baselitz and Chris Ofili. Also in Mitte is Christian Ehrentraut (123 Friedrichstrasse; 49-30/44038385; christianehrentraut.com), the eponymous gallery of one of the New Leipzig School’s founders, which shows the work of emerging artists. And 032c, the international insider’s magazine par excellence, has opened a compelling shop—simply called the Museum Store— with a collection of “new, forgotten, anonymous, commissioned, or re-issued industrial objects and products” (1 Kleine Kurstrasse; 49-30/4405-0980; 032c.com). 

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guide

Exploring Yogyakarta. The gateway to the majestic INDONESIA

Borobudur temple complex, this buzzing university town is worth a visit in its own right. By GENEVIEVE TSAI

STAY

If you have transport and need some serious pampering, consider a stay at the magisterial Amanjiwo (Borobudur, Magelang; 62-293/788-333; amanresorts.com; suites from US$700), which has enviable views of the neighboring 9th-century Buddhist temples of Borobudur and dormant volcanoes. • In the artisan village of Tembi—now enjoying a renaissance as a hotspot for contemporary art—is the antiques-filled d’Omah Hotel Yogyakarta (Jln. Parangtritis, Km 8.5; 62-274/368-050; yogyakartaaccommodation.com; doubles from US$75), an eight-room property comprised of two vintage residences, including the home of a Javanese aristocrat. • Closer to town is Villa Hani’s (Jln. Palagan, Km 7.5; 62274/867-567; villahanis.com; doubles from Rp750,000), housed in a restored teak abode that’s nestled in small garden. Guests have the option of booking either one or both of the villa’s rooms (they’re never rented separately); in the front is a European bakery run by the villa’s owners. • For a taste of regal splendor, book one of the four suites at Rumah Sleman Hotel (No. 111 Jln. Purboyo, Warak Kidul, Mlati; 62274/866-611; rumahsleman.co.id; suites from US$240). The centerpiece is a pendopo (pavilion) that dates back to 1814; the palatial suites boast Dutch-colonial antiques, Oriental rugs and marbled bathrooms, and come with a 24hour butler service. 50

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Some of Indonesia’s most beautiful batik originates from Yogyakarta. Called the Prince of Batik, K.R.T. Daud Wiryo Hadinagoro—a descendant of the royal houses of Yogyakarta and Solo—has supplied fine fabrics to famed fashion houses such as Kenzo, Armani and Versace. Contact him for an appointment at his studio outside the city (62-274/378-162; daudbatik@yahoo.com) or visit his boutique at the Hotel Ibis Malioboro (No. 52–58 Jln. Malioboro; 62-274/516-974). • Batik Bixa Workshop (Ngentak Pelem Rt. 07/Rw.. 03, Baturetno, Banguntapan, Bantul; 62-274/546545) specializes in textiles made with natural dyes. • If you’re not experiencing batik overload, stop in at Ardiyanto Gallery (Jln. Magelang, Km 5; 62-274/562777), which showcases costly, handmade batiks; private Javanese dinners in the garden can also be served on request. »

Javanese Grace Clockwise from top: A waiter at Bale Raos restaurant carrying some of the dishes that were favored by Yogyakarta’s sultans; a marbled bathroom at Rumah Sleman; live like an aristocrat at the Rumah Sleman hotel.

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guide

DO

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Yogyakarta has a long, storied history as the center of traditional Javanese art, dance and music, and thanks to the presence of the country’s leading art institute, it’s emerged as a hotbed of contemporary art. One gallery, in particular, helped cement the city’s cutting-edge reputation. Established by an artist couple, Cemeti Art House (No. 41; Jln. D.I. Panjaitan; 62274/371-015; cemetiarthouse.com) has been a powerhouse in contemporary art since the late 1980’s. It’s housed in a striking space designed by Eko Prawoto, a celebrated Yogyakarta-based architect known for his blend of rustic Indonesian design and contemporary minimalism. • Opened last year, Tembi Contemporary (Jln. Parangtritis Km 8.5; 62-274/688-1919; tembicontemporary.com) is the latest addition to the vibrant local art scene, and regularly stages exhibitions with the country’s brightest young talents. • Join the local intelligentsia at Kafe Kinoki (No. 2 Jln. Abu Bakar Ali; 62274/702-9085), a coffee shop– cum-cinema that wouldn’t be out of place in Berlin or Paris. • If you want to try your hand at batik-making, sign up for a workshop at Batik Winotosastro (No. 54 Jln. Tirtodipuran; 62274/375-218), led by a master of this time-honored craft.

The lively, kilometer-long Malioboro Street in the city’s heart provides the best opportunities to sample the local hawker fare. Look out for nasi gudeg, Yogyakarta’s signature dish of stewed young jackfruit served with tempeh, tofu, chicken, a boiled egg and rice, and ayam goreng mbok berek, fried chicken with garlic and coriander.

Arts and Crafts Clockwise from left: Some of the décor at Gadjah Wong restaurant; inside the pioneering Cemeti Art Gallery; one of the dining rooms at the Omah Dhuwur restaurant; Ardiyanto Gallery sells handmade, unique batiks; an art installation at Cemeti Art Gallery.

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• Inside the royal palace complex, Bale Raos (No. 1 Jln. Magangan Kulon; 62-274/415-550; dinner for two Rp100,000), dishes up the favorite recipes of the city’s potentates with authority—the owner is the brother of the current sultan. • The popular riverside Gadjah Wong (No. 79D Jln. Gejayanl; 62-274/588-294; dinner for two Rp90,000) offers an extensive menu of Indonesian, Chinese and Western fare in themed dining rooms: Javanese, colonial and, rather incongruously, country and western. It’s a great alfresco spot, though the food lately has been more miss than hit. • Omah Dhuwur (No. 252 Jln. Mondorokan, Kota Gede; 62-274/374-952; dinner for two Rp140,000), located in a 150-year-old mansion, serves an eclectic mix of cuisines—chicken masala, rack of Australian lamb and traditional Javanese dishes, all under one roof—in one of the city’s most elegant settings. ✚


insider

| the guru

Claus Sendlinger, CEO of design hotels AG. One of the best trendspotters in the business predicts the future of hotels in Asia and beyond. By JENNIFER CHEN ■ How would you define a design hotel and is it a term that’s been abused a lot lately?

Sophisticated Tastes Clockwise from top left: The Metropolitan London’s lobby; Claus Sendlinger, the CEO of design hotels AG; the spa at Vigilius Mountain Resort, in Italy; inside The Opposite House, in Beijing.

“These days, the term ‘design hotel’ is often offhandedly batted around to describe just about any property that has an Eames chair in the lobby, but there’s more to a true design hotel than cookie-cutter minimalism or fly-bynight visual trends. Our member hotels are independently owned but united by a commitment to individuality, progressive architecture and design, concepts of sustainability and an authentic connection to location or legacy. They embody the most advanced ideas in the hospitality industry and offer cosmopolitan travelers new options for travel that include not only relaxation but inspiration, even education. It all translates into unique experiences in highly varied surroundings with impeccable yet personal service.” ■ What are your criteria when you’re looking for members?

“We do not have a set list of criteria. Generally we look at the people behind the project and whether or not their ideas and visions fit with ours. It’s not just the design that makes a property suitable for the design hotels™ brand; the hotel also needs to show it has the right personality. The staff and the guests obviously play a large part in that, because they give a hotel its soul. The architecture and interior need to provide the right element for these people to interact in, and when the right people come together in the right environment, the result is a fascinating place to be.” 54

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■ What hotel trends do you see in the future?

“Our society is undergoing a value shift at the moment. The importance of ‘soft factors’ such as quality of life and well-being is growing along with a rediscovery of simple, human, even humble values. … The Life Medicine Resort [Brunnenstraße 3, Bad Gleichenberg; 43/3159-22940; lifemedicineresort.com; doubles from 121 euros] in Austria is a great example for this movement. This hotel melds five-star luxury with high-tech medical treatment, old-school spa culture and modern diagnostic and therapeutic technologies.” ■ What new properties opening this year in Southeast Asia are you excited about?

“Alila Hotels & Resorts are opening their first villa properties this year. I am really looking forward to Alila Villas Uluwatu [Jln Belimbing Sari, Banjar Tambiyak, Desa Pecatu; 62-361/ 848-21-66; alilahotels.com; villas from US$725] in Bali.”

com; suites from US$700). “I loved watching the sun rise over Borobudur.” Metropolitan London (19 Old Park Lane; 44-20/7447-1000; metropolitan. como.bz; doubles from £325). “When we opened our office in London I lived there for almost a year. 1997 was a very exciting year for me in the British capital.” Vigilius Mountain Resort, Italy

(Vigiljoch Mountain, I-39011, Lana; 39473/556-600; vigilius.it; doubles from 340 euros). “This resort is my first choice when I am looking for a kind of ‘Bali experience’—where I can completely disconnect—but it’s still reachable by a short flight.” Condesa DF (102 Avda. Veracruz, Mexico City; 52-55/5241-2600; condesadf.com; doubles from US$175). “It’s a great starting point to explore the highlights of Mexico.” ✚

■ Which Asian destination is primed to see a boom in design-oriented hotels?

Stylish Haunts Clockwise from top: A guest room at Condesa DF, in Mexico City; The Opposite House's atrium; a villa at the Alila Villas Uluwatu; a vintage ride at Condesa DF.

“China. …With The Opposite House [11 Sanlitun Lu, Chaoyang district; 8610/6417-6688; theoppositehouse.com; doubles from RMB2,200], for example, [architect] Kengo Kuma created something sustainable in Beijing. … It is a unique hotel with a vivid design mix and beautiful materials.” ■ All-time, top five hotels?

“These are some of my all-time favorites, in no hierarchical order: Park Hyatt Tokyo [3-7-1-2 NishiShinjuku; 81-3/5322-1234; tokyo.park. hyatt.com; doubles from Y48,000]. “I experienced my own Lost in Translation story here.” Amanjiwo, Indonesia (Borobudur, Magelang; 62-293/788-333; amanresorts. T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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Promotional Feature

Madrid Magic Spanish cuisine is set to shine at this year’s World Gourmet Summit in Singapore

Clockwise from top left: Alfonso Castellano; dishing up at Diverxo; Sergi Arola at work; David Muñoz outside Diverxo; Oriol Balaguer.

T

his year’s World Gourmet Summit in Singapore is a sensational Spanish extravaganza, with four of the top Madrid-based chefs gracing the event with their culinary presence. This rare event presents Asian food lovers with the unique opportunity to immerse themselves in the epicurean delights of Madrid, the vibrant Spanish capital. SERGI AROLA, who heads up the two-Michelin-starred Sergi Arola Gastro restaurant in Madrid, returns to the summit this year, bringing his passion for fresh ideas and cutting-edge techniques. This maestro will be presenting an Epicurean Delights dinner promotion at The Cliff from April 21 to April 24, as well as a culinary Masterclass at Miele Showroom @ Winsland House II on April 23. Meanwhile, masterchef ALFONSO CASTELLANO, renowned for revolutionizing tapas at Paco Roncero’s Madrid-based Estado Puro, will also

feature at the Gourmet Summit. Guests can expect the unexpected with Castellano’s inspirational creations, particularly tapas, which will feature at an Epicurean Delights dinner promotion at The Pavilion from April 20 to April 24, with 10 tapas selections available in the evenings. Blending Spanish cuisine with Asian, Peruvian, Mexican, Moroccan and other exotic fare, DAVID MUÑOZ opened Diverxo in Madrid in 2007, with the restaurant featuring his distinctive fusion food. Join him and sample his inimitable creations at the Epicurean Evening with David Muñoz held from April 21 to April 25 at the Tower Club, Republic Plaza Tower I Singapore. Last, but certainly not least, dessert lovers will rejoice at the presence of chef ORIOL BALAGUER. Famous for his confectionery, Balaguer opened the most avante-garde sweet shop in Madrid in 2008. Winner of numerous awards and distinctions, Balaguer is

famous for creations that unite the relationship between confectionary preparation and cooking. Join him at the Epicurean Delights promotion at mezza9 from April 20 to April 24 at mezza9, Grand Hyatt Singapore. All four Madrid-based chefs will also be appearing at the Spanish Gala Dinner held at the Sentosa Resort & Spa Ballroom on April 20. The World Gourmet Summit runs from April 19–May 2. For more information, log on to www. worldgourmetsummit.com.

Stand a chance to win a pair of seats to the Spanish Gala Dinner on April 20 at the Sentosa Spa & Resorts. Simply register at www.insideespana.com. Competition ends April 10.


LOCAL

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ON

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With its titanium frame, brushed silver case, and rubberized strap, the NAUTICA NMX-300 Chrono can withstand dives of up to 100 meters.

Made of molded silicon, the SWATCH Wind Blocker is waterproof to 30 meters and has chronographic capabilities. The Rolex Submariner with a stainless-steel band and sapphire crystal.

TIMELESS Merging style and function, the Rolex Submariner is built to last. Photographed by NIGEL COX

is an investment that should do more than tell time. Ideally, it should run as precisely in its 50th year as it did in its first, no matter what feats of endurance come in between. The Rolex Oyster, the world’s first waterproof watch, has been a staple for adventurers since it was introduced in 1926, and the Submariner is one of its best-known models. With its chunky stainless-steel bracelet, scratch-resistant sapphire crystal and unidirectional bezel that tracks submersion time at depths of up to 305 meters, it’s little wonder that the watch has adorned the wrists of everyone from oceanographer Jacques Piccard to James Bond.— S A R A H G O L D

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The TOMMY BAHAMA Beach Cruiser has a stainless-steel case and a polyurethane band, and can be submerged 100 meters deep.

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This VICTORINOX SWISS ARMY Dive Master 500M goes 503 meters below sea level in style, with its gunmetal-plated stainless-steel bracelet.

T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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stylish traveler

| local talent

TEAM MANILA

Exuberant and utterly original, Filipino designers are finally starting to attract the attention they deserve. Story and Photographs by LARA DAY

PHILIPPINES

Manila Style From top: Local designers sold at Myth, a boutique in Manila; colorful wares at Kate Torralba’s flagship shop; a tunic at Kate Torralba; edgy marketing at Bleach Catastrophe.

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HE PHILIPPINE CAPITAL isn’t known as a hotbed of world-class design talent—at least, not yet. The past two years have seen a surge in homegrown fashion designers, thanks in part to the opening of Greenbelt 5, a slick shopping mall devoted to showcasing the very best of them alongside such international names as Marc Jacobs and Kenneth Cole. The arrival of the country’s first dedicated fashion school, School of Fashion and Arts (SoFA), also promises to nurture future generations of fashion talent. Cool, chic and raring for recognition, Manila’s designers look set to take on the world. Here are some of our favorites.

KATE TORRALBA

Known for her fun, flirty dresses in bold prints, Kate Torralba was a leading light on the Philippine design scene long before her eponymous boutique opened in Greenbelt 5. It’s hard not feel cheerful when you step inside—the designer’s upbeat personality dictates the décor, from the Warholesque portraits of her that line the walls to the colorful laughing Buddhas that adorn the shelves. Her ultrafeminine designs bear a distinctly retro feel, with short A-line


Catwalk Worthy From left: Urban threads at Bleach Catastrophe; a laughing Buddha at Kate Torralba; stunning stilettos at Gaupo; Amina Aranaz’s creations often feature native materials.

dresses harking back to the 1960’s, elegant 1970’s kaftans and sexy halter-neck cocktail gowns that seem to channel a vivacious Marilyn Monroe circa 1955. The shop also sells Torralba’s handbag designs as well as her recently launched “Leg Love” hosiery line. 2-032, 2nd floor, Greenbelt 5, Ayala, Makati; 63-2/729-1229. ARANAZ

The shimmering rose-blush interior of this award-winning flagship store by Carlo Calma lends itself to changing art installations. But the main attraction is Amina Aranaz’s everevolving collections of sleekly feminine purses. Underneath the show-stopping glamour is extraordinary craftsmanship. Aranaz is known for her use of local materials—think coco shells accentuated with bamboo and sequins, crocodile leather layered with pineapple-abaca weave, ostrich leather embedded with cracked mother-of-pearl, and handembossed snakeskin embellished with Swarovski crystals. A vanguard on the Manila design scene, Aranaz is the founder of SoFA. Bags can be made to order. 2-032, 2nd floor Greenbelt 5, Ayala, Makati; 63-2/757-0301. BLEACH CATASTROPHE

Originally a T-shirt brand, this young art-and-design collective specializes in street-smart clothing, shoes and accessories created by eight emerging Filipino artists from Cebu and Manila, including Greys Compuesto, Samantha Malapitan and creative director Cristine Villamiel. The raw, industrial-looking space reflects the brand’s ethos of “rough luxe”—products are displayed on recycled items such as

spray-painted metal bins and unvarnished wooden construction benches. 2-060, 2nd Floor Phase 2, Greenbelt 5, Makati; 63-2/757-9548. MYTH

Spearheaded by fashion pioneer Randy Ortiz, this minimalist, multi-designer boutique showcases clothes and accessories by Jojie Lloren, Dennis Lustico, Ivarluski Aseron, Joey Samson, as well as Ortiz himself, who made his name making tailored men’s shirts but has since branched out into women’s wear, with slick sporty dresses and waist-whittling leather belts. Hair products by hairdresser Jing Monis and cosmetics by makeup artist Henri Calayag complement the store’s offerings; more designers and products will be added in the future. 2nd floor, Phase 2, Greenbelt 5, Makati; 632/729-0162. GAUPO

If you’re into head-turning footwear, then look no further than the boutique of versatile design maestro Cesar Gaupo. The former creative director of Shanghai Tang has created an altar to shoe couture—its gleaming white planes are lined with a single black seam that sets off to-die-for stilettos. His designs expertly dance the divide between fashion and fetish: striking shoe silhouettes are combined with dramatic flourishes like bursts of diamanté and textured leather straps. All shoes on display are hand-crafted and produced in limited quantities. Women travel from far and wide to take advantage of the designer’s customized shoe service. 2nd floor, Phase 2, Greenbelt 5, Makati; 63-2/729-8672.  T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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| packing list

1 Nine Easy Pieces

2 3

Pare down your travel wardrobe with these mix-and-match looks. Photographed by RICHARD BALLARD. Styled by

4

MIMI LOMBARDO 1 COAT A long, satiny jacket by Boden (boden.co.uk) can go formal or casual. 2 NECKLACE These beaded strands by R.J. Graziano (maxandchloe.com) add a splash of color. 3 CLUTCH A patent leather purse by Anya Hindmarch (anyahindmarch.com) will take you from day to night. 4 TOP This silk Club Monaco (clubmonaco.com) racer-back tank can be layered or worn on its own. 5 SWEATER The merino wool Tory Burch (toryburch. com) cardigan makes a graphic statement. 6 PANTS Dress them up or down — black cotton Joe’s Jeans (joesjeans.com) add versatility to your wardrobe. 7 SHOES Suede-and-patent flats by Sigerson Morrison (sigersonmorrison.com) complement both pants and dresses. 8 DRESS This silk—satin Theory (theory.com) shift doubles as a dress or a top over pants. 9 BAG A leather Lodis (lodis.com) tote works on the plane and on the town. —MIMI LOMBARDO

5

6

7

8 9

S T I L L L I F E S : D AV I E S + S TA R R . A S S 0 C I AT E FA S H I O N E D I T O R : C AT H E R I N E C R AT E . H A I R / M A K E- U P : E L S A F O R T R E S E M M É / M A K E U P F O R E V E R . M O D E L : U L L A VA N Z E L L E R / F O R D

stylish traveler


must-haves | stylish traveler

RAIN OR SHINE

P R O P S T Y L I S T : S H A R O N R YA N F O R H A L L E Y R E S O U R C E S

These jackets are perfect for city jaunts and country walks. Photographed by NIGEL COX. Styled by CATHERINE CRATE

From top: Waterproof pullover with ruffle detailing, by Tory Burch; nylon anorak with ruched collar and hidden hood, Cole Haan; nylon-canvas windbreaker with zip-out quilted-nylon lining, Napapijri; cropped nylon bomber, Tod’s. T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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stylish traveler

HONG KONG

| best bets

CHEAP CHIC IN HK Looking for an affordable way to update your wardrobe? Head on over to these popular outlets, where high style is available for low prices. By HELEN DALLEY. Illustrated by WASINEE CHANTAKORN

■ I.T. Outlet Renowned for its colorful collections and funky window displays, the Hong Kong–based I.T. group brings in a number of edgy brands to the city, including Bathing Ape and Viktor & Rolf. Stocking out-of-season goods, the company’s outlet store boasts discounts of up to 90 percent. Shopping here isn’t the free-for-all normally associated with outlets: items bear colored stickers indicating the discount, and the store is neatly laid out, with everything grouped by designer. On a recent visit, we found pieces by Isabel Marant, See By Chloé, Comme des Garçons, Sonia Rykiel, Freshjive, Cabane de Zucca and Chocoolate. The focus here is mostly clothing, but there’s a selection of accessories, including shoes by Cacharel and belts by Tsumori Chisato. The vibe is definitely youthful, so don’t expect sizes bigger then a U.S. 6. T+L Tip Be sure to shop carefully: some goods are damaged, and refunds and exchanges aren’t available. Shop G01, Citygate Outlets, 20 Tat Tung Rd., Tung Chung, Lantau; 852/2109-2101. ■ Dickson Outlet Luxury goods mogul Dickson Poon also plies the fashion outlet trade, with six shops scattered throughout the city. His largest discount shop, the 557square-meter Dickson Outlet, stocks a solid range of High Street brands, including jeans and T-shirts from Gas and Replay, and bags from S.T. Dupont and Kipling. Regular promotions, such as a recent Miss Sixty sample sale, offer shoppers up to 90 percent off or an 62

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extra 20 percent discount if they buy two of the same item. If you’re a shoe fiend, this spot is definitely worth a browse; Patrick Cox, Mascotte, Paolo Da Ponte, Florsheim and Hush Puppies are all here at steep discounts. T+L Tip Check out the wares by Braccialini, an Italian leather goods maker that produces idiosyncratic handbags and purses. No exchange for items below HK$150. Shop G22, ground floor, Citygate Outlets, 20 Tat Tung Rd., Tung Chung, Lantau; 852/2793-9208; dicksoncyber.com. ■ Space A steady stream of budget-minded fashionistas comes here thanks to the ample supply of Prada and Miu Miu. Discounts here aren’t as generous as those at other outlets, but you can still count on getting at least 50 percent off; a Prada tie will set you back HK$500 while a pair of Miu Miu sunglasses costs HK$1,000. The shop’s Miu Miu range tends towards clothing, while the Prada products are mostly accessories such as the brand’s much-coveted bags as well as key rings, chokers, headbands and more. Don’t be put off by the shabby façade; inside, the shop cultivates an upscale feel, with carefully folded sweaters and tees, attractively decked-out mannequins and photographs from the catwalk. 2nd floor, Marina Square, East Commercial Block, South Horizons, Aberdeen; 852/2814-9576. ■ Joyce Warehouse Since the 1970’s, Joyce has imported some of the most covetable names in fashion; Jil Sander and Balenciaga are just some of the labels it’s introduced to clotheshorses here. The chain’s outlet carries last season’s wares at more than 40 percent off. Give yourself plenty of time here: among the more garish items on the heavily stocked rails, you’ll find true gems such as dresses from Zac Posen, jeans by Issey Miyake and ties by Alexander McQueen. Make sure to

check out the accessories: on a recent visit to the store, we found bags from Dries Van Noten and shoes by Oscar de La Renta. Slinky, stone-embellished belts from Marni, with a price tag slashed from HK$2,900 to HK$1,020, also caught our eye. One added bonus: there are several well-lit dressing rooms with full-length mirrors. T+L Tip If you

see something you like, it might pay to hold off on a purchase: the longer it lingers unsold, the bigger the markdown. Room 2101, 21st floor, Horizon Plaza, 2 Lee Wing St., Ap Lei Chau; 852/2814-8313. ✚

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stylish traveler

| shopping

SUITE BOUTIQUES Six hotel shops from California to India with style to spare. By GIGI GUERRA

PALM SPRINGS, CALIFORNIA PARKER PALM SPRINGS The glam Jonathan Adler–designed boutique at the Parker is as cheekily retro as the rest of the resort, thanks to its Schiaparelli pink motif and starburst chandeliers. Favorite Finds The shop stocks eclectic items, whether it’s a pair of psychedelic feather earrings or an alligator clutch by Lucien Pellat-Finet. 4200 E. Palm Canyon Dr.; 1-760/770-5000. SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA W SCOTTSDALE W Hotels was one of the first hotel groups to elevate the idea of shopping where you sleep, and this minimalist boutique in Scottsdale is no exception. The shop is meant to mirror its desert setting: ivory floors mimic shifting sands, and teal glass accents are a nod to the succulents that dot the landscape. Favorite Finds The merchandise is also in sync with the surroundings—from Lisa Curran bikinis for poolside lounging to cactus flower–bright satin Madison Marcus dresses to enjoy cocktails in on cool desert nights. 7277 E. Camelback Rd.; 1-480/970-2100.

MEXICO CITY, MEXICO CONDESA DF Mexican culture is on full display at the Condesa’s aqua-green shop, which carries items that cleverly update traditional style. Favorite Finds Look for chokers strung with silver beads and dyed red pinto beans and bags made from striped rebozo scarves. The highlight is the smooth mezcal, distilled exclusively for the hotel. 102 Avda. Veracruz, Colonia Condesa; 52-55/5241-2600. Hotel Labels From top: The vintage-inspired shop at the Parker Palm Springs; private-label tequila and mezcal at Mexico City’s Condesa DF; glassware by Carlo Moretti at Positano’s Le Sirenuse; lingerie boutique Marlies Dekkers at the Plaza, in Manhattan.

POSITANO, ITALY LE SIRENUSE In true southern Italian style, everything at the Sirenuse is a family affair, including its boutique. Lovingly overseen by the owner’s wife, Carla Sersale, the white stucco space feels like an unfussy beach shack—albeit one that purveys coveted Italian classics (Fornasetti plates, Porselli ballet flats). Favorite Find Don’t miss the Sirenuse specialty, the house fragrance, co-created by Marina Sersale, Carla’s cousin. 30 Via Colombo; 39-089/875-066. AGRA, INDIA OBEROI AMARVILAS This bazaar is a onestop resource for some of India’s finest handcrafts. Favorite Finds Head to Tijori for enameled metal boxes done in Rajasthani style. Neighboring Sunshine Alley offers up Jamawar shawls. And then there’s an outpost of Jaipur’s Gem Palace, the 150-year-old jeweler favored by everyone from Bollywood royalty to Mick Jagger. Taj East Gate Rd.; 91-562/223-1515. ✚

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C LO C KW I S E F RO M TO P : CO U RT E SY O F PA R K E R PA L M S P R I N G S ; U N D I N E P R Ö H L ; CO U RT E SY O F M A R L I E S | D E K K E R S ; FA B R I Z I O B E R G A M O / C O U R T E SY O F L E S I R E N U S E

NEW YORK, NEW YORK THE PLAZA It’s not easy setting up shop across the street from Bergdorf Goodman. But the highbrow retail concourse at the Plaza is well-edited, with outposts from more than 25 labels (shirtmaker Seize Sur Vingt, jeweler Ten Thousand Things). Favorite Find Celebrity hair stylists Joel Warren and Edward Tricomi (who relocated their eponymous salon to the hotel) handpicked the products at the Plaza Beauty, a source for cult brands like the organic Greek skin-care line Sponge. 1 W. 58th St.; 1-212/588-8007.


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stylish traveler

| on the road KENNY HEIGHTS “The project itself is quite remarkable: it’s in a wonderful valley where there will be all sorts of architecture, modern architecture. ”

THE MASTERS Design visionary Sir Terence Conran shares with T+L his travel essentials and more. By JENNIFER CHEN TRAVEL ESSENTIALS “Cigars. I have four Havana cigars a day. I like Cuba very much, partially because of the cigars but also because of the place and the people. Cigars, rum and music, and pleasantly pretty girls.”

HOUGH HE’S BEEN A FORCE IN the international design world for more than five decades, Sir Terence Conran isn’t settling down into retirement anytime soon. Having earned his reputation as the man who brought high style to the masses with furniture and home wares chain Habitat, the 77-year-old is still busy expanding his portfolio, with major projects underway in the U.K., Japan, India and Malaysia, where he’s designing the interiors of The Regent Residences, part of the ultraluxe Kenny Heights development. We caught up with him to quiz him about his latest travels, interests and more.

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● THE REGENT RESIDENCES “Our client Jeff Yap is an extraordinary man, interesting, enthusiastic, ambitious. . . . Jeff wanted the best modern architects he could lay his hands on: Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster, David Adjaye. It’s a collection of the best modern architects, cheek by jowl.” Conran’s Picks Clockwise from above: A taste of retro in Havana; a Cuba libre; Cuban cigars; Sir Terence Conran; Petronas Towers; inside KL’s The Regent Residences.

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● KUALA LUMPUR IMPRESSIONS “Driving in from the airport to the hotel, we were stuck in a traffic jam for two hours in central Kuala Lumpur. So it wasn’t a very

C LO C KW I S E F RO M TO P L E F T: CO U RT ESY O F T E R E N C E CO N RA N ; K EV I N M I L L E R ; CO U RT ESY O F T H E R EG E N T R ES I D E N C ES ; © SANCHES1980 / DREAMSTIME.COM; © RYZHKOV / DREAMSTIME.COM; © GRAç A VICTORIA / ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

LEARNING FROM

U.K.


FAVORITE ASIAN STAYS

“The Park Hyatt Shanghai [100 Century Ave.; 86-21/6888-1234; shanghai.park. hyatt.com; doubles from RMB3,200] is absolutely terrific. I think master [Tony] Chi is a great designer, and it was just one of the best hotel designs I’ve everseen. And the Park Hyatt Tokyo (3-7-1-2 Nishi Shinjuku; 81-3/5322-1234; tokyo.park.hyatt. com; doubles from Y48,000), which is absolutely wonderful. I’ve stayed there since the first day it opened.”

C LO C KW I S E F RO M A BOV E : CO U RT ESY O F CO N RA N G RO U P ; CO U RT ESY O F CONRAN GROUP; DARREN SOH; © GMV / DREAMSTIME.COM

Style for All Clockwise from left: A Sicilian vista; a playful pie dish by Conran; Conran’s style embraces simplicity and functionality; receptionists at work in the Park Hyatt Shanghai.

good start. But once I did get to see it, it is an exciting thing, the enormous bustle, the number of people working in the city. … I suppose one thing that was surprising— inevitably one is always amazed at the scale of the Petronas Towers, right in the center of the city. Having stayed at the Shanghai World Financial Center, I felt I slipped into the Shanghai environment in a less dramatic way because I think the architecture of the World Financial Center is less aggressive, less demanding. Petronas is really terrific at night, but it dwarfs everything.” ● ESSENTIAL TOKYO SHOPPING EXPERIENCE

“I’ve always enjoyed Tokyu Hands [12–18 Udagawacho, Shibuya-ku; 81-3/5489-5111]—it’s one of the most wonderful places in the world. It takes a day to see. You’ll find everything you need in your life and a lot you don’t.”

sensibly discreet. … The energy there is terrific. I’m very fond of Hong Kong and it seems to me that Shanghai has the same multicultural energy. It’s much more Western than Beijing.” ● RECENT HOLIDAYS “Until very recently, for the past 25 years we’ve had a house in Provence. When the children were growing up, we went on holiday there all the time, so I now like going on holiday somewhere else. So I sold the house and we went to Sicily … We also found a little hotel in Brittany in the north of France, a very modest hotel [Grand Hôtel des Bains; 15 Rue de l’Eglise, Locquirec; 332/98-67-41-02; grand-hotel-des-bains.com; doubles from 154 euros]. I’m sure we will go back there. It was a hotel overlooking the sea and the sand and the sailing boats. Not a tourist hotel in any way, fi lled with elderly French intellectuals—a rather interesting and different feel.”

● FUTURE FRONTIERS IN ASIA “I think we might be

doing some residential [projects] in Shanghai. … It has some sentimental value with me, my grandmother used to live there, right on The Bund, so there are always family associations with the city. My father probably told me more stories about Shanghai than she did. She was

● DREAM DESTINATIONS “There are hundreds of places I want to go to. I love being in Asia, I love staying in hotels. It’s relaxing, having other people do your worrying for you. And my wife doesn’t have to worry about doing the cooking.”  T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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T+L Journal The village of Solomeo’s new 240-seat theater. Inset: Employees of Brunello Cucinelli’s cashmere workshop, at the theater opening.

ITALY

Cashmere Kingdom In the Umbrian hills, entrepreneur Brunello Cucinelli is turning the centuries-old agrarian town of Solomeo into a vibrant, modern village. By CHRISTOPHER PETKANAS. Photographed by CHRISTIAN KERBER

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BRUNELLO CUCINELLI weren’t so likable and successful, and if the cashmere clothes he made weren’t so beautiful, you’d have to dismiss him as just another self-delusional fashion quack. Addressing his employees at a Christmas party one year, he did not shy from comparing himself to Che Guevara, “a small but important leader.” Dinner parties at his villa in the medieval hill town of Solomeo, outside Perugia in Umbria, might begin with a reading from Cicero. Plaques fixed to the façade of his headquarters there are chiseled with sound bites from Socrates and Kafka. In 1985 he began patiently buying up and restoring nearly the entire historic center of Solomeo as a home for his business, creating in the bargain a subtle, low-key destination for culturally driven travelers, connoisseurs of Italian village life and consumers of cashmere who appreciate a deep discount and get an extra buzz from buying at the source. Cucinelli believes that his humanistic philosophy, a cocktail of Benedictine morality and ethical capitalism, yields a navy blazer with coffee-colored suede elbow

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The kitchen staff at the Cucinelli canteen. Right: Parking, Solomeostyle. Opposite, from left: Spools of cashmere in Cucinelli’s office; the town’s main road. Inset: Cucinelli in his Solomeo headquarters.

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patches—to mention one vigorously copied signature men’s look—that is tangibly, quantifiably better. Designers consult Ouija boards to find out whether it was the 27th horse bit on a bag that caused it to be marked down before its time. So given the unknowable nature of what moves a luxury product, Cucinelli’s conviction that benevolent ideology motors his company is as good as any. In 2007, he had a net profit of 6.59 million euros on sales of 120 million euros. Bocconi University, in Milan, teaches his business model, with its emphasis on social responsibility, and the padrone himself has lectured about the topic as far afield as Harvard, MIT and Boston College. “From the beginning I knew that to convince 25-yearold kids from the region to come and work for me—and to repopulate Solomeo, which had been practically abandoned—I had to offer them something special,” Cucinelli told me over a plate of farro risotto with tomato and Parmesan at his favorite restaurant, Malvarina, an agriturismo in neighboring Assisi. “If you’re a young guy at the discoteca and you’re trying to pick up a girl and you say, ‘I’m


a patternmaker at Cucinelli, I work with my hands,’ it’s not very sexy. There had to be some added value.” For the luckiest that means an arcadian view from their desks in Solomeo’s frescoed 14th-century defensive castle. A strategically vague hierarchy is designed to empower employees, suggesting that each is his own boss. Samplehands and bookkeepers have it drilled into them that Cucinelli’s success in building the firm and rehabilitating the village is also theirs. And while it’s a practical impossibility for everyone on the payroll to have a key to the factory, the company has wrung a public relations bonanza and a fortune in goodwill out of this romantic fiction. The fashion for buying up all or most of a defunct Italian village and rescuing it was launched in 1988. That year the ready-to-wear designer Alberta Ferretti and a group of co-investors became the owners of Montegridolfo, just inland from the Adriatic in Le Marche. Six years later they opened Palazzo Viviani, an eight-room hotel, plus a specialty-foods shop and three restaurants. Ferretti likened the project to a crusade. In 2005, Daniele Kihlgren, the

Swedish–Italian philanthropist and preservationist, raised Abruzzi’s Santo Stefano di Sessanio from the dead with the 28-room Sextantio Albergo Diffuso, where hand-sewn mattresses are filled with hand-carded wool and made up with vintage embroidered linen sheets. The six crumbling Italian bourgs Kihlgren acquired after Santo Stefano await similar treatment. It can’t always be easy for old schoolmates of Cucinelli’s to watch the iron gates of his villa in Solomeo swing shut behind his Bentley. The town wears a happy face; if there are people nursing jealousies and asking, “Why him and not me?” they do it behind closed shutters. Born in 1953, Cucinelli grew up in the area in a family that lived off the land, cultivating sunflowers, corn and wheat. Twenty-seven people slept under the same roof in a house that, for many years, lacked plumbing and electricity. After World War II, farmers began leaving Solomeo for jobs in manufacturing and houses closer to cities like Perugia and Assisi. By the 1960’s the exodus was complete. When Cucinelli bought his first property in the village it was almost in ruins. Today it »


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Approaching the village. Right: Sales staff in the Brunello Cucinelli boutique. Opposite, from left: Solomeo’s only hotel; a local scooter gang at an overlook in town.

is thriving, with a population of 400 and an air of prosperity that a place can maybe only acquire by making 460-euro cashmere T-shirts (well, they do have long sleeves). Solomeo has one of the finest provincial classical music festivals in Italy. (It’s also free and alfresco.) A new 240-seat theater bowed in September, inspired by the Baroque Teatro Farnese in Parma, the prototype of the modern playhouse, and Vincenzo Scamozzi’s 16th-century jewel box Teatro all’Antica, in Lombardy. The theater is part of an elaborate Cucinelli-funded Arts Forum, a complex that includes a Renaissance-style public garden and will have a school and accommodations for craftsmen, based on the ancient guild system, as well as weeklong classes in theology, literature and philosophy for passing tourists. Forty apartments were scheduled to go up on the spot where the theater now stands, but the son of the man who owned the land works for Cucinelli, the son intervened, and the man sold to Cucinelli. A nine-day, village-wide medieval street fair held every July sounds corny and is corny, in a good way, with falconry and weaving demonstrations, wine and grappa tastings, 74

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art exhibits, concerts, a photography competition and stalls selling artisanal soaps and exquisite ironwork, like hinges and box locks. Any woman who lives in Solomeo and isn’t prepared to put on a long heavy velvet costume and headdress for the event and suffer the heat and look ridiculous is considered a bad sport. Many simply see the occasion as a good excuse to eat a lot of amazing food: sausage torte baked in the old communal bread oven, goose in porchetta, quadrucci (egg-pasta squares) sauced with chickpeas, panzanella (bread salad), formaggio di fossa (pecorino aged underground) and torcoli (the local biscotti) with vin santo. Some of the village grandmothers who cook for the fair also work in the Cucinelli canteen, where the young guy sitting next to you may be a buyer from Bergdorf ’s. Or maybe he designed the pullover you just closed the deal on in the boutique. The subsidized price of a three-course meal is the same for everyone: around three euros. The pasta is often handmade, the meat wood-grilled, the desserts fatto in casa. Only in Italy. Donatella and Pier Luigi Cavicchi opened Locanda Solomeo, the town’s only hotel and real restaurant, after day-


trippers began to appear and it seemed the place had a shot at tourism. “You don’t build a cathedral in the desert,” says Donatella. “If Brunello hadn’t saved the village I wouldn’t be here, and La Bottega—the grocery and bar—wouldn’t exist either. There’s no post office in Solomeo, but there are two furniture stores, each owned by a brother. They had a shop together before and were the symbol of fraternity, and then—kaput! The only other businesses are a beauty salon, plus a hairdresser who just makes house calls, plus two metalworkers. We share a mayor with five other villages but we’re growing.” Still, Donatella reflects, “if you’re an American department store president from Dallas coming to see Brunello—I know, they all stay with me—Solomeo is Lilliput. Brunello produces Michael Bastian’s menswear, and he’s here so often he has his own mattress, which we store for him in the basement. Normally in Italy the big industrialists make their money and take it to Liechtenstein or buy a yacht and villa in Sardinia. Brunello restored our church and built a piazza.” The Locanda is humble—everything, you might say, a Cucinelli pullover is not. The Cavicchis are wonderfully

If you were in New York and there were a place half as good as Locanda, you’d eat there FOUR nights a week

old-fashioned, unironic innkeepers: a Baci left on your pillow is a Baci left on your pillow, and their 12 guest rooms are sprinkled with antiques and stenciled with flowers. Donatella and Pier Luigi lodged the decorative painter who worked on the church, and when he finished he stayed on to endow the tea salon with Liberty-style scenes of nearby Lake Trasimeno, framed by charming trompe l’oeil pelmets and curtains identical to the real ones at the windows. The hotel’s cooking lacks the gutsiness of Malvarina, but then so does every restaurant in the neighborhood (except maybe L’Ulivo, in Matigge di Trevi; for the crucial torta al » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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The cooking school, at most six students, is blessedly free of bells, whistles and anyone ANSWERING to ‘Chef ’ The village’s Castello di Monte Frondoso. Below: Two smiling workers at Brunello Cucinelli’s factory.

formaggio, a brioche-like Easter bread made with Parmesan and pecorino, go to Sandri, in Perugia). On the other hand, if you lived in New York and there was a place half as good as the Locanda downstairs from you, you’d be eating there four nights a week. It’s all relative. Many of the dishes served in the hotel—ravioli filled with mashed chickpeas, rabbit galantina stuffed with forcemeat and pistachios—are also taught in its cooking school, which accepts a maximum of six students per class and is blessedly free of bells, whistles and anyone answering to “Chef.” Most of the ingredients for the restaurant and school come from Il Mandoleto, the Cavicchis’ agriturismo, set in the open countryside about a kilometer away. Five apartments, some slightly more glamorous than the category might imply, sleep four to 15 and offer the autonomy of kitchens or kitchenettes. Locanda Solomeo’s eventual buyer, should the couple ever decide to sell, is of course Cucinelli. In restoring Solomeo, he says he created 14 houses, not offices, even if that’s the function they fill today. Most have a working fireplace, at least one room conceived as a bedroom and a kitchen fitted with appliances. “Nothing lasts forever,” he says, “and that probably includes this company. The important thing is to have done something beautiful and enduring. I’m very philosophical. All the offices can be sold as individual houses, and families can move in tomorrow,” if the sweaters come out of the dishwashers first.  Christopher Petkanas is a T+L (U.S.) special correspondent.

GUIDE TO SOLOMEO GETTING THERE The village of Solomeo, in the Umbrian hills, is a two-hour drive from both the Rome and Florence airports. The region around it is best explored by car. WHEN TO GO The optimum weather is from May through September. The classical music Festival Villa Solomei (canticumnovum.it) isw

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held in early July. Solomeo’s medieval festival (solomeo.pg.it) is also held that month. WHERE TO STAY AND EAT Locanda Solomeo 1 Piazza Carlo Alberto dalla Chiesa, Solomeo; 39-075/5293119; solomeo.it; doubles from 135 euros; dinner for two 77 euros. GREAT Malvarina A farmhouse VALUE in nearby Assisi, with GREAT VALUE

simple rooms and extraordinary food. Brunello Cucinelli’s favorite restaurant. 32 Via Pieve di S. Apollinare, Assisi; 39-075/8064280; malvarina.it; doubles from 93 euros, including breakfast; dinner for two 68 euros. WHERE TO SHOP Brunello Cucinelli Piazza della Pace, Solomeo; 39-075/5294855; brunellocucinelli.it.


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Reading the World Having come so far, Korean-American author MIN JIN LEE suddenly realized she had never really traveled beyond the books she had read. That’s all changed now. Illustrated by WASINEE CHANTAKORN I was a pragmatic history major at Yale. As such, I’d been apprehensive about taking an advanced writing seminar filled with lissome and clever English majors. I was a public school kid from Queens, New York, whose immigrant parents

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worked in a dismal wholesale trinket shop in Manhattan that was open six days a week, 52 weeks a year. My quiet childhood was spent behind the covers of borrowed books, not that I understood everything I’d read. My new journalism course was taught by an esteemed professor and working journalist, and I felt


lucky to have been accepted at all. In class, we analyzed vintage Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion and John McPhee, and Calvin Trillin even stopped by to chat with us baby writers. Class was held once a week in the upper room of a residential college on the neo-Gothic-style campus, and about a dozen of us longhair aspirants sat around a monastic wooden table in the limestonewalled classroom. This was the kind of setting I’d read about in my favored 19th-century novels, the kind of school Thomas Hardy’s character Jude Fawley would have wanted to attend but could not because of his birth, except that this wasn’t England, but New England. One afternoon, when it was my turn to comment on a fellow student’s paper, I made some glib remarks about its structure, then mentioned that Stonehenge should be defined explicitly in the work, because I had no idea what it was. If I had ever felt unworthy when I was accepted into the seminar; if I had felt clumsy about speaking in the first few meetings; and if I had eventually merited my place by doing the reading diligently and being attentive; I had lost all at that moment, because every face turned to me with surprise and unwanted pity. How could I not know of England’s great megalith? Many had been to Wiltshire to see it, naturally. I had not. In fact, I had never gone on a trip with my family. That’s not entirely true. I was seven plus change when our parents told my two sisters and I that we were moving to America for good. In the spring of 1976, the five of us boarded a plane at Kimpo Airport in Seoul and never looked back. The family lore says that I barely slept on the transpacific flight because I was so busy practicing my English and enjoying the exotic American inflight meals. My father, a talented linguist, had taught me to say “Juice, please,” and apparently the foreign words had enchanted me so much that I repeatedly made this request to the kind flight attendants— ultimately accumulating a near six-pack of juice cans before my parents put a stop to my begging. Whenever our meals and snacks were served, I was the only one of our group to relish the brown meat in gravy, roasted potatoes and red Jell-O, while quaffing bottomless cups of fruit juice as my family looked askance at such blandly spiced dishes. I was a young traveler excited about going and getting somewhere. Once we landed at JFK, I was disappointed. In Korea, I had read every available fairy tale, and in my confused little girl brain, I had assumed that

American men would wear powdered wigs, women put on corsets with hoop skirts and everyone rode carriages drawn by ponies. Fairy tales had made a 7-year-old Korean girl anticipate the look of 18thcentury European life in 20th-century America, no different than how Thomas Hardy had partially prepared a kid from the boroughs of New York for an ivy-covered university in New Haven, Connecticut. Alas, I was learning that places turned out to be different than books. For the first 10 years in our new country, my family did not budge except to commute daily to work or school. We settled in a blue-collar, working class community in Queens, and my parents became small-time merchants in Manhattan. My sisters and I were latchkey kids with two working parents, and after school, before they returned home from work, we were told to stay put in our apartment and never to let anyone in. The world was a dangerous place, we were told. They weren’t wrong. In that decade, my parents’ store was robbed and burgled. One Saturday morning when I went to help out, I had a gun held to my head. My father and older sister were mugged on separate occasions. My gentle mother, a former piano teacher, nabbed a pickpocket. These things happened to lots of people we knew. As a girl, I had to be extra careful, my mother said. A man exposed himself in a subway car in the Bronx, and another did the same on Hillhouse Avenue in New Haven. Both times, I was able to run away, and nothing worse happened than the display of the depraved. This was the late 1970’s and 80’s in New York and New Haven, and my sisters, girlfriends and I found this sort of bad behavior commonplace. You learned not to make eye contact with sketchy characters on the bus or train. If you saw rowdy drunken men in your path, you focused on your shoes and kept on strolling. At Yale, students met at midnight to pointedly walk down the streets of New Haven to “Take Back the Night”—illustrating that we would not live or walk in fear. It was a beautiful idea, but I also knew that there were places a girl couldn’t go, and if something horrible happened, there would be more finger-wagging than sympathy. In college, I had not known what Stonehenge was, and what I felt then was the shame of being a proud kid from a modest background. There were kids on campus then who had it much worse than I did, but few readily admitted this lack of travel knowledge— this lack of, well, money and leisure and parents » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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Guidebooks were unlike any other books I had read. They INSPIRED you to get out the front door and see for yourself

who had formal vacation time and could read guidebooks and take you places—because there was one prevailing wish most of us snot-nosed Ivy League kids shared: We wanted to be viewed as educated, sophisticated and even a little cosmopolitan. Now, as a 40-year-old lawyer-turned-writer, I think being an immigrant kid from a different culture, race, class and religion did make me a kind of worldly little person. Nevertheless, in that snug, limestone seminar room, my innocence-cum-ignorance taught me that being educated went beyond books, for being educated also meant an ease and familiarity with the significant settings of the world. Reading Tolstoy was not the same thing as going to St. Petersburg. As a little girl, I had wanted to taste new things in life and toddle off to places, and then as a young woman, I had learned fear. Nevertheless, I still wanted more education. As expected, I graduated then went to law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and it was good. In my second year of law school, I met Christopher. He was born in Kobe, Japan to an American diplomat father and a Japanese aristocrat mother. A well-mannered and modest person, slowly, I learned that as a boy, he had stayed at the Georges V in Paris and spent summers in Maui with his parents. In prep school, he’d snuck out to Manhattan clubs, smoking Dunhills to look older. He had read a 80

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lot and been everywhere a few times. I might have been envious of his experiences—of having become a young but seasoned traveler—except that Christopher sought to share what he knew with me. When we met, he was 25 and starting out as a young salesman at a bank in New York, and I was a 22-year-old law student. In our courtship, if we had any extra money, we would go somewhere. For US$150, we’d rent a car and stay overnight at a bedand-breakfast in St. Michael’s Island on the Chesapeake Bay, or for less money, take a day trip to eat oysters in Annapolis. Once, when we put together a couple of hundred dollars, we drove all the way to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia where I got to timetravel and finally see Americans wearing the outfits I’d expected them to wear when I first landed on American shores. Christopher taught me about guidebooks, and they were unlike any books I had read. They inspired you to open the front door, get out of your house and see for yourself. After law school, when we married, we went to Italy for our honeymoon, and as I stood in front of The Last Supper, I realized that I had joined a lucky community of those who had seen such a painting up close—and like them, I felt the awe and gratitude of such a vision. Yet I also felt the guilt for those who couldn’t. It’s a curious thing, but every trip is tinged bittersweet in a way, because as you witness something wondrous, you know others who would have liked to be there, too. Over the 15 years of our marriage, Christopher and I have been to many fabled places, and we have taken our now 11-year-old son with us. He thinks nothing of throwing a pair of swimming trunks, a change of clothes and a book into his green overnight bag and going to the airport whereas I still fumble with my packing and write long lists to calm my jitters. Like Christopher, Sam sees the beautiful blue globe marked with fascinating places to visit, and together they are teaching me about the grace of travel. Last year, when we moved to Tokyo from New York, I found myself returning to Asia for an indefinite stay—reversing the course of my immigrant life to make another major one-way trip. Naturally, this is also another travel adventure, opening even greater vistas for the three of us. Since my first plane trip to JFK, I have hardly become the brave woman explorer—more like a competent traveler who wants to learn more. To date, I’ve yet to make the trip to Stonehenge, but it is on my wish list along with Angkor Wat and the pyramids, and it is a hopeful thing to know there are so many places to wish for. 


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Superjet Qantas took the largest passenger plane in the worldâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;the Airbus A380â&#x20AC;&#x201D;and asked ultramodern designer Marc Newson to rethink the space inside. Is this the new shape of air travel? PAUL GOLDBERGER reports. Photographed by NOAH WEBB

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F FOOTBALL IS, AS THEY SAY, a game of inches, so is designing an airplane. In fact, inches are a lot harder to come by on the average airliner than they are on a football field, where nobody has to spend hours strapped into a space less than 60 centimeters wide and paying customers are allowed to get up whenever they please. Years ago, before air travel became mass transit, things were a little better because airplanes weren’t laid out to maximize the number of seats you could cram into them, and sometimes there was even—no one under 30 will believe this—extra space that could be used for passenger lounges. (Anyone remember the “piano bar” that American Airlines once had on its transcontinental 747’s?) For a brief moment, it seemed as if the new Airbus A380, the largest passenger plane in the world, might bring some relief. At 73 meters in length—two meters longer than a 747 but with two full levels along its entire length—the A380 has, if not quite the space of a football field, more room on its two decks than in two tennis courts put together. You ought to be able to loosen things up quite a bit with a couple of tennis courts’ worth of space to play with. If the airlines choose to, that is. Qantas Airways, the latest carrier to take delivery of an A380—it follows Emirates and Singapore Airlines, which together put eight of the mega-planes into service »

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Class Acts Above: One of the economy-class cabins. Left: A first-class “suite” on the lower deck.

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Designing the interior of an airline means juggling space, MONEY and the marketplace

over the past year—hired Marc Newson, the Australianborn, London-based designer, to reinvent the cabin for its first A380, the ninth to come off the assembly line. Newson’s assignment, he said to me, was to “design a cool aircraft interior, something that seems to have escaped most airlines.” I went to Los Angeles to see the plane just after it touched down on American soil for the first time. There is a lot to say about what Newson has produced, most of which is sleek enough to make other airplane interiors feel like your grandmother’s parlor, and a lot to say about the A380, which is quieter and smoother than any jet I have ever ridden on. But if you are an economy passenger, let’s cut to the chase: all that extra space has been used mainly to make room for more seats, not to make more room for each seat. The Qantas A380, Newson said, has roughly an 2.5 centimeters more legroom than the economy-class seats on its other airplanes, and most of that comes not from spacing seats out 84

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more generously, but from a new seat design and from the high-tech materials that have been used to make seat cushions that are much thinner than older ones. (The real reason they are there, however, is because they are lighter, not because they are thinner.) These seats are considerably more comfortable than other economy seats, and Newson has figured out a way to give them a wider-angle recline and a simple, spring-based version of a footrest. But reinventing the economy-class seat means only so much if you can’t reinvent the space into which it is crammed, and I’m not sure that anything is enough to make up for the fact that this is still an awfully small space in which to spend a lot of time. Qantas has designed its A380 with a total of 450 seats, which is about 40 more than on its 747’s and slightly fewer than Emirates and Singapore have shoehorned in. No airline has come anywhere near outfitting its planes with the maximum number of economy seats, which, if they were


Top Deck From far left: A peek into business class, with its flat beds; one set of stairs to the upper level of the aircraft; crew members in the sleek business-class cabin; an upper-deck lounge area.

allowed to fill the entire plane on both decks, would be a horrifying 853, truly a modern-day version of steerage. As Qantas has configured its plane, there are 14 first-class “suites,” 72 business-class seats, 32 premium economy seats and 332 economy seats. Even so, the last row of economy is called ROW 88, and there is something quite sobering about looking at a boarding pass that says row 88 on it. You may think that designing the interior of an airline involves making a series of aesthetic decisions, but it is really more a matter of juggling space and money and the marketplace: you make a lot more money from a business- or first-class seat, but each of them takes up a lot more space. Airlines want to avoid ending up with empty economy seats, wasted space that could have been used for business-class seats, which could have been sold at a higher price. But it’s no better to have empty business-class seats hogging space that could have allowed for more economy seats. In the end,

figuring out what the airlines call the “layout of passenger arrangement,” or LOPA, is a marketing calculation. If you put the LOPA together with the fact that the physical shell of the plane—not just its overall shape but the location of the doors, the stairs, the windows and even the service areas—is pretty much fixed, you realize that there isn’t all that much a designer can do. The only real way to re-invent the interior of an airplane is to put fewer people in it. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Newson and Qantas have done a spectacular job working within narrow parameters. Newson, who is 45 and for several years now has been designing furniture, interiors, industrial objects and consumer products that recall the swooping, curving lines of the early 1960’s, has a sensibility that fits neatly with the trend toward making airline interiors softer, lighter and more curvy, and he has made the A380 far softer and lighter, and considerably more curvy than the average airplane. » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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Newson’s aesthetic is more Jetsons than retro, with a kind of perky understatement to it. The cabin walls are a pale, quiet gray, doubtless an acknowledgment that neutrality, however dull, is probably better than chartreuse or magenta for a confined space where you are going to spend 15 or more hours. But Newson has brought subtle checked patterns to the seat fabrics and the carbon-fiber material that makes the lightweight seatbacks. The economy area is so large it is divided into three separate cabins: in the first, the seats are upholstered in a deep red; in the second, green; and in the third, orange. Qantas, aware that you can get only so much of the feel of a plane on the ground, planned a two-hour test flight to show off the A380. Newson came along, as did the airline’s executives and the actor, pilot and flying aficionado John Travolta, who, since 2002, has held the title of Qantas’s “ambassador at large.” (Travolta pilots his own Boeing 707, a surplus plane he acquired from Qantas; it was parked on the tarmac at LAX, looking tiny beside the A380.) Travolta sat in the cockpit, got onto the PA system to welcome the hundred or so invited passengers, and then introduced the real captain, Peter Probert. We were all given boarding passes (they identified the flight as going from Los Angeles to “Fictitious Point”) with assigned seats. I was relegated to economy but since there seemed to be at least three seats for each of us in the section, this flight was not going to be any test of how comfortable the A380 would be for a passenger flying in tight quarters. What it did demonstrate was how stunningly quiet, smooth, and fast the plane’s takeoff was. We soared off the runway and over the Pacific with the kind of ease, almost gentleness, that you would associate more with a Gulfstream than with the biggest airliner ever built. Probert explained the route: up the California coast to San Francisco, around the Golden Gate Bridge, then back to Los Angeles, touching down two hours after takeoff. Once the seat-belt sign was off, the flight turned into a party. Qantas flight attendants served champagne and hors d’oeuvres—the same menu throughout the plane, just to avoid hurt feelings—as Travolta, accompanied by Olivia Newton-John, strolled around, shaking hands and posing for pictures. Almost everyone walked the length of both decks, an easy circle, since you can go up the curving staircase in the back of the plane, walk along the upper deck, and then go back down via the straight staircase that connects the two decks in the front, which is so wide that it seems more like something in a building than on a plane. Indeed, because the sides of the lower deck are practically vertical and the ceiling is roughly flat, the feeling all the way through the lower level could be said to resemble a room as much as the tube of an airplane. Qantas and Newson decided to put the first-class cabin in the front of the lower deck to give those passengers the benefit of the big, high 86

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The first Qantas A380.

UPSTAIRS are the in-between classes: business fills the first two-thirds of the upper deck, premium economy is behind it

space; they put the three economy cabins behind first class to maximize seats for the rest of the deck. Upstairs are the inbetween classes: business fills the front two-thirds of the upper deck, and the premium economy section is behind it. The business-class cabin is pretty much like any other, if a bit sleeker. First class is where Newson got to spread his wings, so to speak. Qantas didn’t want anything as dramatic—or as space-consuming—as the fully enclosed cabins that Emirates has put on its A380’s; instead, Newson came up with what the airline calls “suites,” semi-enclosed compartments with huge reclining seats set within low partitions. The seats can face forward or rotate 45 degrees to face a small visitor’s chair, which becomes the far end of a bed when the seat reclines to sleeping position. There is a large video screen, a touch-screen panel for controls, and a small work desk, storage rack and dining table. It’s hardly the stuff of wild fantasy—“It’s not a Japanese love hotel,” Newson said to me—but it is a remarkably efficient, comfortable, and inventive use of space. The most extravagant detail of all, however, isn’t in the first-class cabin itself, but in its bathrooms. They are large, with an expansive sink and counter, and there’s a window. When you walk in, the window, the surface of which is covered in liquid crystals, appears to be translucent. (Who could look in from the outside to invade your privacy, I’ll never know.) When you lock the door it transforms, as if by magic, into a transparent surface. Where else can you shut yourself in a bathroom and gaze out at the world from 10,000 meters?  Paul Goldberger is the architecture critic for The New Yorker.

C O U R T E SY O F Q A N TA S

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| cityscape

GERMANY

The city of lederhosen and beer steins is having a design moment. ARIC CHEN inspects the Bavarian capital’s new restaurants, shops and museums—and learns to love porcelain. Photographed by CHRISTIAN KERBER

Thoroughly Modern Munich 88

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Urban Renewal Clockwise from above: Olafur Eliasson’s Sphere 2003 looms above the Fünf Höfe shopping center; Herzog & de Meuron’s Allianz soccer arena, just outside town; BMW World. Opposite: A view of old Munich from the Blue Spa and Restaurant.

F

OR MUCH OF THE WORLD, Munich is likely to

evoke one or more stereotypical images, among them the Glockenspiel in the tower of the neoGothic Rathaus, or city hall; the annual Oktoberfest bacchanal; and mustachioed men wearing lederhosen. Style, a word generally not associated with lederhosen, doesn’t spring to mind. But these days Munich, Germany’s third-largest city and the capital of Bavaria, is shedding its dirndls and feathered caps in favor of cuttingedge design. Until my latest visit, I hadn’t thought much of the city. I had traveled there twice—once as a backpacking teenager, lured by the promise of copious beer, and again about 10

years later—and in my more sober moments Munich seemed a bit of a bore. It was as if the Wittelsbachs were still holed up in the royal palace: the spires of Baroque churches soared above winding streets, throngs followed the pied-piping Glockenspiel to the Marienplatz, the historic main square, and the Odeonsplatz and tony Maximilianstrasse presided with Italianate decorum. Munich was charming, elegant, and postcard-perfect—but often as riveting as a boiled Bavarian potato. It was a well-preserved time warp rebuilt after World War II with a hint of self-satisfied, Disneyesque preciousness. That’s no longer the case. “In some ways, Munich has always been a creative city,” says Christian Haas, a young local designer, over drinks at Heyluigi, a bustling boîte in » T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A

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the fashionable Glockenbach neighborhood, where a herd of wall-mounted plastic animals is the primary décor. “But it’s changed a lot in recent years,” he adds. Having celebrated its 850th birthday last year, Munich’s historic center remains pleasantly intact—though it’s now also home to a new synagogue and a Jewish Museum, designed by German firm Wandel Hoefer Lorch and opened in 2007. They are signs not just of a re-invigorated Jewish community but of a burst of innovation, powered by companies like BMW and Siemens, and by a boom in contemporary design. Driving in from the airport, one sees the evidence immediately: there’s the Allianz football stadium, an illuminated doughnut completed for the 2006 World Cup by vanguard Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. Closer to town are the BMW Museum and the glittering new BMW World, a car-delivery center accessorized with restaurants and shops. The swooping glassand-steel leviathan, designed by Austrian firm Coop Himmelb(l)au, looks like a spaceship touching down. Even the old center has received a design-driven jumpstart. Inserted with surgical precision inside a historic city block, Herzog & de Meuron’s Fünf Höfe (“five courtyards”) complex offers a Kubrickesque take on a 19th-century shopping arcade, its passageways and interior quadrangles distinguished by hanging plants, warped walls and a sculptural sphere by the artist Olafur Eliasson. One night, I

met Uli Tredup, a Munich-based interior designer, for dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant called Brenner. The salsiccia was a bit dry, but the scene said it all, as bijoux-laden ladies and Gucci-swathed men navigated the minefield of high-end shopping bags by their chairs. More telling than the conspicuous consumption was the setting of the restaurant itself, which occupies the vaulted cavern of the city’s royal stables, now encased within a modern complex built behind a Victorian-era façade. It’s an 18th-century relic wrapped in 21st-century glass inside a 19th-century shell—an apt metaphor for the city’s hybridization. The new creative energy is welcomed by Tredup, who has designed smart galleries and shops in Munich—including the Nymphenburg porcelain showroom and the Talbot Runhof boutique—as well as a house for Boris Becker. Locals describe their home, tongue-in-cheek, as Italy’s northernmost city. The pace is relaxed, and in summer the beer gardens are packed and the sky is pristine—an ideal habitat for the sun worshipers who stake their ground, full monty, in the R-rated section of the sprawling English Garden. “It’s an extremely pleasant city,” says Ingo Maurer, 76, the local designer who’s legendary for his poetic lighting fixtures. “The feeling is gemütlich [cozy],” he says. Originally from the German side of Lake Constance, Maurer, who lives part-time in New York, settled in Munich four decades ago. With its egg yolk–yellow buildings hemming a quiet

Hybrid Town From left to right: Brenner, an Italian restaurant, is located inside Munich’s 18th-century royal stables; the restaurant is a mix of styles from different centuries; the city’s iconic Glockenspiel and city hall, on Marienplatz; hand-painting porcelain at the Nympenburg manufactory; the Jewish Museum in the historic city center.

Going Pastoral From left: a smiling dancer; sheep trotting toward higher ground for the summer. Members of the dance troupe Les Bethmalais.

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courtyard, his compound just off Kaiserstrasse could be described as gemütlich as well. This month, Maurer plans to open his first-ever Munich showroom, where visitors will find his classics—say, an explosive chandelier of shattered china—along with exhibitions, lectures, and his latest work. Munich is also home to designer Konstantin Grcic, renowned for the technological and formal innovations of his space-age products, and furniture maker ClassiCon, which produces several Grcic designs. The haute-modern kitchen manufacturer Bulthaup has its headquarters just outside of town. An emerging generation, including Haas and former Grcic protégés Stefan Diez, Nitzan Cohen and Clemens Weisshaar, are bringing their talent to the city just as surefire, imported names like David Chipperfield and Andrée Putman have contributed interiors for, respectively, the Rena Lange boutique and the historic center’s Blue Spa and Restaurant, at the Bayerischer Hof hotel.

Swans ripple across palace ponds where you might spot the Duke of Bavaria WALKING his daschund

The inventive crowd now flocks to a number of newly buzzing establishments. In the historic center they fill the restaurant Schumann’s, a standby having a revival, and Saf im Zerwirk, a vegan eatery designed by Cohen. In nearby Glockenbach they savor tagliatelli al ragù at Heyluigi or the all-day breakfast at Café Maria, sip wine at the chilled-out Maroto Bar or the livelier Café King, and browse the tightly edited design bookstore Soda. Not all is new here in terms of groundbreaking design. Munich was home to the Deutscher Werkbund, the seminal early-20th-century association—a Bauhaus precursor—that sought to integrate crafts with modern industry. Among its members were artists Richard Riemerschmid and Peter Behrens, who would help found the Neue Sammlung museum, which today has the world’s largest collection, at around 75,000 objects, of modern and contemporary design. In 2002, the museum left its “provisional” home of nearly 80 years for dramatically expanded quarters in the Pinakothek der Moderne. Among its soaring galleries is one of the most comprehensive design installations I’ve ever seen, spanning Art Nouveau chairs, the Bauhaus and mid20th-century masters, as well as Macintosh computers and Braun appliances. Nowadays, the city’s forward-looking spirit shows up in unexpected ways. Consider the Nymphenburg porcelain manufactory, located in the 17th-century Nymphenburg »

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Palace, its home for more than 250 years. The frilly figurines and Rococo dinner services are still handcrafted using machines powered by water. Swans ripple across the ponds of the palace grounds, where you might spot Franz, the current Duke of Bavaria, walking his dachshund, Wastl. But Nymphenburg’s kilns are also producing some of the most notable contemporary designs around: porcelain driftwood candleholders by Ted Muehling, plates by Hella Jongerius that reveal the process of applying decoration, faux-stitched teapots by Grcic. “We want to explore what’s possible in porcelain, while creating timeless pieces that have long-term value,” Nymphenburg’s CEO, Jörg Richtsfeld, tells me. Munich is remaking itself by engaging its past. Its most radical spaces (think of Fünf Höfe or even Brennermar) have emerged from a rich historical fabric, just as Nymphenburg’s froufrou porcelain has evolved into pieces now coveted by avant-garde aficionados. The city is wresting innovation from its most entrenched traditions. And that may soon even extend—yes—to lederhosen. “It took me five years of living in Munich before I would even go to Oktoberfest, and 20 years to wear lederhosen there,” says the designer Uli Tredup. “But now it’s actually sort of cool for the kids to wear traditional clothes.” 

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0875; bayerischerhof.de; dinner for two 126 euros.

WHERE TO STAY Bayerischer Hof 2–6 Promenadeplatz; 49-89/21200; bayerischerhof.de; doubles from 315 euros.

Café Maria 97 Klenzestrasse; 49-89/2024-5750; brunch for two 24 euros.

Hotel Cortiina Intimate, newly expanded boutique hotel with a central but tucked-away location. 8 Ledererstrasse; 49-89/242-2490; cortiina.com; doubles from 225 euros. Mandarin Oriental Perennial favorite occupying an 1870’s building, with recently renovated rooms. 1 Neuturmstrasse; 1-800/5266566 or 49-89/290-980; mandarinoriental.com; doubles from 295 euros. WHERE TO EAT Blue Spa and Restaurant Mediterranean-inspired fare in a cozy-chic Andrée Putman– designed space. 2–6 Promenadeplatz; 49-89/212-

Brenner 15 Maximilianstrasse; 49-89/452-2880; dinner for two 110 euros.

Saf im Zerwirk 3 Ledererstrasse; 49-89/23239191; dinner for two 67 euros. Schumann’s Known for its glamorous bar scene; also serves delicious Continental home cooking. 6–7 Odeonsplatz; 49-89/229-060; dinner for two 87 euros. WHAT TO DO BMW World and BMW Museum 1 Am Olympiapark; 49-18/0211-8822; bmw-welt. com. Die Neue Sammlung 15 Türkenstrasse; 49-89/2727250; die-neue-sammlung.de. Fünf Höfe Theatinerstrasse; fuenfhoefe.de. Soda 3 Rumfordstrasse; 4989/2024-5353; sodabooks.com.


2009

+ THIS YEAR’S T+L DESIGN CHAMPION

C O U R T E S Y O F N AT I O N A L O P E R A HOUSE / NICOLAS BUISSON

TURN THE PAGE FOR MORE WINNERS

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B E S T C U LT U R A L S PA C E NATIONAL OPERA HOUSE Oslo, Norway. Designed by Snøhetta

With its sloping white-marble roof and delicate glass façade, Oslo’s National Opera House is a grand architectural statement — planting a flag for high culture on the Oslo waterfront — but more essentially it also creates a dramatic new public space in the heart of the city. The stone terraces run from the shore to the building, where they’re integrated into the roof of much of the complex, a series of steep, angled planes for adventurous pedestrians and pre-theater crowds. 1 Kirsten Flagstads Plass; 47-2/142-2100; operaen.no. 93


THE 2009 T+L JURY • Architect ADAM D. TIHANY

Adam D. Tihany. Clockwise from right: Lisa Phillips; Calvin Klein; Edwina von Gal; Michael Bierut; Laurie Beckelman.

founded New York City–based Tihany Design in 1978. His multidisciplinary studio has designed restaurant interiors for Jean-Georges Vongerichten and hotels for the Mandarin Oriental Group, among many other projects. • LISA PHILLIPS is the director of the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York. She was formerly the curator of contemporary art at the Whitney Museum of American Art. • Before cofounding the consulting firm Beckelman+Capalino in 2005, preservationist and urbanist LAURIE BECKELMAN worked for New York’s Museum of Arts & Design and served as chair and commissioner of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. • CALVIN KLEIN is recognized globally as a master of minimalism. During his groundbreaking career, he has been recognized by the Council of Fa shion Designers of America seven times. • Graphic designer MICHAEL BIERUT has been a partner at the fi rm Pentagram since 1990, where his clients have included Harley-Davidson, the Morgan Library and the Atlantic magazine. A cofounder of designobserver.com, he is also a senior critic at the Yale School of Art. • EDWINA VON GAL is a landscape designer based in East Hampton, New York. She worked with architect Frank Gehry on the botanical park for the Panama Bridge of Life museum, and is developing sustainable landscape planning for the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

JURY PHOTOGRAPHED BY DAVID NICOLAS


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DESIGN CHAMPION ANDRÉ BALAZS

CO U RT E SY O F A N D R É BA L A Z S

Combining old-school glamour and unfussy modern design, André Balazs’s hotels achieve a rare alchemy: they are warm and welcoming and somehow nevertheless mysterious too — places with a bit of history and mythology. His properties are all carefully in tune with their particular locations, from the 1930’s bungalows at Chateau Marmont in Hollywood to the Art Deco lobby at the Raleigh in Miami Beach and the new Standard in New York, which rises dramatically above the High Line. It is this uncanny sense of place — expressed in architecture and design — that sets this year’s Design Champion apart, lending his hotels their cool and unpretentious sex appeal.


FROM THE JURY:

>>“MELISSA SHOES ARE GREAT-LOOKING AND 100 PERCENT RECYCLABLE.”

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B E S T TR AV E L ACCESSORY MELISSA SHOES

Designed by the Campana Brothers, Zaha Hadid, Alexandre Herchcovitch and Vivienne Westwood melissa plasticdreams. com PRODUCTS PHOTOGRAPHED BY NIGEL COX

S T Y L I S T : S H A R O N R YA N F O R H A L L E Y R E S O U R C E S

— L AURIE BECKELMAN


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BEST CAMERA MINO FLIP VIDEO CAMERA theflip.com

B E S T TR AV E L GADGET STERIPEN JOURNEY LCD HANDHELD WATER PURIFIER steripen.com

B E S T T R AV E L FA S H I O N TRENCH COAT, NORMA KAMALI COLLECTION FOR WAL-MART

Designed by Norma Kamali walmart.com HONORABLE MENTION

THE FINAL HOME JACKET Designed by

Kosuke Tsumura finalhome.com

BEST LUGGAGE HYDRO SPORTS WATERRESISTANT BACKPACK, T-TECH BY TUMI tumi.com HONORABLE MENTION

Y’S MANDARINA

Designed by Yohji Yamamoto in collaboration with Mandarina Duck ysmandarina.com


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B E S T R E S TA U R A N T DELICATESSEN New York City. Designed by Anurag Nema in collaboration with Mark Thomas Amadei

Built into the lower floors of a SoHo tenement, Delicatessen embraces New York City’s early-20th-century brick-andmortar solidity, while imposing its own glamorous atmospherics. High-gloss materials and seductive lighting amplify dramatic skylight views of an interior courtyard; the urban landscape is incorporated into the restaurant — and transformed. 54 Prince St.; 1-212/226-0211; delicatessennyc.com; dinner for two US$70.

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FROM THE JURY:

> > “DELICATESSEN IS YOUNG AND ALIVE; IT HAS WONDERFUL STYLE IN AN UNPRETENTIOUS WAY.” — C A LV I N K L E I N

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BEST MUSEUM CAIXAFORUM MADRID

The self-confident wit — or is it the sheer brilliance? — of architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron is subtly yet unmistakably on display at CaixaForum Madrid, a building that seems to hover just above the street. This bit of architectural magic creates a natural entrance to the museum from the adjacent plaza and preserves the original façade of the 1901 electrical plant in the heart of Madrid. On top, a twostory addition in oxidized steel makes space for galleries and a café overlooking the Paseo del Prado. 36 Paseo del Prado; 34/ 91-330-7300; fundacio.lacaixa.es. HONORABLE MENTION

DOCKS DE PARIS, LA CITÉ DE LA MODE ET DU DESIGN,

Paris, France. Designed by Jakob + MacFarlane 36 Quai Austerlitz; no phone.

F R O M T O P : D AV I D J O S E P H ; R O L A N D H A L B E /A R T U R I M A G E S

Madrid. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron


OOB E S T P U B L I C S PAC E TKTS BOOTH

New York City. Designed by Perkins Eastman; concept by Choi Ropiha

P A Ú L R I V E R A /A R C H P H O T O

In the heart of Times Square, amid the thronging crowds, neon lights, urgent billboards and animated video screens — the cacophony of capitalism — the TKTS Booth has become a remarkable pedestrian destination, a small island of relative calm. Glowing red steps form the roof of the discount Broadway ticket outlet, an elevated grandstand from which to watch the world go by. Broadway at W. 47th St.; tdf.org.

FROM THE JURY:

>>“THE TKTS BOOTH INVENTS PUBLIC SPACE WHERE THERE WAS NONE BEFORE.” —MICHAEL BIERUT


FROM THE JURY:

>>“WHAT IS MEMORABLE ABOUT THE HOTEL AIRE DE BARDENAS IS THE MAGICAL RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE BUILDING AND ITS LOCATION.”

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BEST SMALL HOTEL HOTEL AIRE DE BARDENAS Tudela, Navarre, Spain. Designed by Emiliano López & Mónica Rivera Arquitectos

Single-story cubical structures set against an austere, windswept landscape in northeastern Spain: the Hotel Aire de Bardenas has the feel at first glance of a lunar encampment. But there is a familiar elegance here, a kind of recycled, modular minimalism that recalls the traditional buildings of this rural area, a semi-desert environment next to a nature preserve. The serene, white-walled rooms are oriented to the outside — large windows offer spectacular views. Km 1.5, Ctra. de Ejea, Tudela; 34/94-811-6666; airedebardenas.com; doubles from 130 euros.

CO U RT ESY O F H OT E L A I R E D E BA R D E N AS

—EDWINA VON GAL


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BEST BRIDGE JERUSALEM LIGHT-RAIL TRAIN BRIDGE

Jerusalem. Designed by Santiago Calatrava Another bridge from Santiago Calatrava? Yes, but this one is noteworthy both as a symbol and as a technological feat. The light-rail bridge curves dramatically toward the Eastern Gate of the old city of Jerusalem, supported by a single 118meter pylon and a parabolic arrangement of cables. Lit up at night, the landmark structure brings the optimism of 21stcentury engineering to this ancient land.

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B E S T S PA

F R O M TO P : B A R B A R A B U R G + O L I V E R S C H U H / PA L L A D I U M . D E ; K I AT T I P O N G PA N C H E E / C O U R T E S Y O F S I X S E N S E S R E S O R T S & S PA S

SIX SENSES HIDEAWAY ZIGHY BAY Zighy Bay, Oman.

Designed by Eva Shivdasani The pure exotic escapism of this Six Senses resort is amplified by its sensitive local design — the buildings are low stone structures with flat, woven roofs, and are arranged in the manner of an Omani village. Set beneath mountains overlooking a long beach on the Gulf of Oman, the spa has nine treatment rooms and two Arabian hammams, all done in rustic, eco-chic style; 79 villas, meanwhile, offer private pools and terraces: architecture at one with its surroundings. Zighy Bay, Musandam Peninsula; 968/2673-5555; sixsenses.com; doubles from US$1,282.

FROM THE JURY:

> > WE LOVED THE SIMPLICITY OF THE DESIGN OF THE SIX SENSES AND ITS CONNECTION WITH INDIGENOUS ARCHITECTURE.” —LISA PHILLIPS


F R O M T O P : C O U R T E S Y O F M A M A S H E LT E R ; D A N N Y B R I G H T

FROM THE JURY:

> > “MAMA SHELTER IS DEMOCRATIC DESIGN: UNIQUELY PARISIAN, ABOUT THE NEIGHBORHOOD, AFFORDABLE, AND AN ORIGINAL PRODUCT.” —ADAM D. TIHANY

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BEST LARGE HOTEL MAMA SHELTER Paris. Designed by Philippe Starck

Low-cost, high-style Mama Shelter is pure whimsy — tree-stump stools and foosball at the bar, chalk graffiti scrawled on the lobby ceiling, and Batman-mask lamps on the unfinished concrete-walled 79-euro-a-night guest rooms. Built in a former parking garage in a less-than-gentrified 20th Arrondissement neighborhood, the 172-room hotel has a patently silly, club-kid quality about it, and yet, as always, designer Philippe Starck’s noirish, otherworldly genius shines through. 109 Rue de Bagnolet, 20th Arr.; 33-1/43-48-48-48; mamashelter.com; doubles from 89 euros.

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B E S T R E TA I L S PAC E PUMA CITY

Boston. Designed by Lot-Ek Reclaiming for architecture one of the key elements of the global industrial economy — the corrugated-steel shipping container — New York– based design firm Lot-Ek makes recycled buildings that speak to the contemporary moment. For Puma, the firm created a flagship out of 24 refurbished 12-meter containers, a prefab take on retail that can be packed and reassembled easily, selling sneakers and clothing. Puma City is more than a retail experience, it’s a thoughtful spin on utilitarian chic. puma.com. 208


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BEST T R A N S P O R TAT I O N BEIJING CAPITAL INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, TERMINAL 3

N I G E L YO U N G / FO S T E R + PA R T N E R S

Beijing. Designed by Foster + Partners An epic building — the largest in the world — Norman Foster’s Terminal 3 represents a fundamental advance in airport design, combining wide-open navigability and awe-inspiring scale, natural light and clear sight lines. The structure is 1.3 million square meters and will accommodate 50 million passengers a year, and yet it’s spectacularly light on its feet, with a sloping roof canopy and subtle, shifting colors on the trusses — a celebration of air travel.

Jury moderated by CHEE P EAR LMAN. Text by LU KE BARR. Reported by STIRLING KELSO with CHRISTINE AJUDUA, A DA M BA E R, CATHER I NE C RATE, MI MI LO MBARDO, MARIO R. MERCADO, SUZANNE MOZ ES and SHIRA NANUS.


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106 NEW life in Bangkok’s old city 118 Seoul: striving, thriving and DRIVEN 130 Uncovering the REAL Los Angeles 105


Bangkokâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s old city is home to much that is monumental, but Rattanakosin and Phra Nakhon are both more intriguing beyond the tourist map. By Chris Kucway. Photographed by Cedric Arnold

Bangkokâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s iconic Wat Phra Kaew. Opposite: Royal Navy cadets wait for a bus.


Local Faces Left: Palace officials in front of the iconic Bangkok landmark. Opposite: Students from Silpakorn, a fine arts school, in front of a portrait of the university’s founder, Italian Corrado Feroci.

F

rom beneath a black umbrella

that wards off the tropical sun, Jakraphak Meun-Artyim oversees the end of another day at Bangkok’s Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. Rising behind him, golden spires glitter against a deep blue sky. A tour group from France, beaten down by the heat, idles beside me in the palace shade as a gaggle of Chinese shuffles past, electronically freezing poodle bushes, a throne hall or two and anything else that isn’t moving with their digital cameras. Still, Jakraphak waits. Having worked at the palace for 25 years, he now oversees a rotation of 60 guards decked out in pure white uniforms and pith helmets who shut the palace grounds each afternoon, a routine task in a spectacular setting. But, he tells me, the gates to this Bangkok landmark never actually close. Sure the ticket office may operate only between 8:30 A.M. and 3:30 P.M., but his duty at Bangkok’s grandest monument is to make sure every visitor is out the oversized doors by 4:30 P.M. Shortly before that hour, the day’s last changing of the guards goes »

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Daily Life Clockwise from above left: A student falls asleep on his notes in a coffee shop; the old streets of Rattanakosin after a tropical downpour; dining at one of the neighborhoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s oldest noodle shops; a Pak Khlong Talaat trader who has worked at the market for 42 years.


Old City Clockwise from above left: A little amulet protection never hurt anyone; Pak Khlong Talaat, home to both fresh fruit and vegetables, and a few long-time traders; a young scooter driver; images of Buddha made in the smaller sois around Wat Suthat.


The sidewalks are ripe with the scent of stir-fried garlic and searingly hot chilies that wrestle the senses

like clockwork, or at least as close to clockwork as Thailand ever experiences—if a tourist wants his picture taken, the gatekeepers will break stride to oblige. Yet, oddly for Thailand, they rarely smile. With almost as much precision, once the last tourists have left the palace grounds, the busy streets outside its whitewashed walls begin to transform. Swarms of visitors who have spent the day diligently checking off the city’s tourist sites as if part of some strange history test, pile into tuk-tuks, hail taxis, even hop on local buses, all heading back to the comforts of the climate-controlled side of tropical Bangkok. That’s the guidebook version of each day in the Thai capital’s old city. In it, nights are meant for other parts of Bangkok. But only after the last straggler has left do the neighborhoods of Rattanakosin and Phra Nakhon really come alive. As slowly and as surely as the traffic down the city’s grand Ratchadamnoen Avenue, sidewalks that were empty hours before sprout makeshift restaurants, eateries that unfold like some life-size metallic Thai origami. Wobbly chairs, tin tables, blackened woks, cutlery and plastic trays of dishes all appear faster than you can say phad thai gai; soon the sidewalks are ripe with the scent of stir-fried garlic and searingly hot chilies that wrestle the senses, pulling the crowds onto plastic stools for an early dinner. I follow the Thai flow and stick around. Standard street fare such as plaa thâwt (deep-fried fish), roti with beef curry, som tam and kuaytiaw muu, a noodle soup with ground pork, start at 30 baht and would pass muster, not only at a Thai restaurant in New York or London, but almost anywhere else in food-loving Bangkok. A woman squatting on the sidewalk churning not a bowl, but a bucket full of chilies makes certain that the dishes please Thai palates, not those who are faint of stomach. Visitors tend to know Bangkok’s old city based entirely upon the opening hours of its grand monuments. Yet for many Thais, this part of town still functions at all hours. Around Rattanakosin, it’s what lurks and lives in the monumental shadows, what’s around the next corner that is worth a look. This part of Bangkok is changing—sprouting the occasional bed and breakfast, worthwhile restaurant or bar, and sometimes even an art gallery—but only at its own speed. While nearby Thammasat University did just open an Apple computer shop not much larger than your standard phone booth, there’s no Skytrain, high-end shopping mall or inter112

national coffee chain within sight in this part of town. What’s of interest here isn’t always obvious. More often that not, it spills out from the stops condensed into a two-dimensional guidebook; it’s found on the sois and courtyards you reach by intentionally taking a wrong turn, in street-food stalls, even throughout the dilapidated buildings that line the Chao Phraya River. Any neighborhood’s vitality comes from the

people who live and work in it rather than its history. On the Chao Phraya River, directly across from Wat Arun—the Temple of Dawn—Piyanuj Ruckpanich has spent the better part of the past four years running one of the neighborhood’s more successful new businesses and represents part of the new breed of residents. She co-owns the five-bedroom Arun Residence; The Deck, an adjacent restaurant; and a small gallery. Today, she laughs when telling me that what first attracted her to the spot was not the spectacular view across the river at night but the exposed red brick along the sub soi that leads to her property tucked neatly behind the palace. For Piyanuj, it is the small things that matter. “When you walk around Rattanakosin Island,” she says, “you’ll see it has its own culture.” And she’s not speaking of the palace or temples a short stroll away but of the Thai-Chinese shopkeepers who have lived here for generations, the dried fish stalls perfuming the air around Tha Tien Pier, and the series of herbalists and Thai fortune tellers set up along the pavement behind Wat Po. “The people there are selling something that their parents probably sold 50 or 60 years ago,” she says of her neighbors. Bangkok’s old city, Rattanakosin, is an island, an elongated, 2-kilometer long oval, but most never know it: any sense of this being an island has been lost to the paving and construction that passes as progress. Thanon Atsadang follows the khlong that marks the eastern edge of the island and is lined with 19th-century shophouses whose façades are more European in style than those found along the dead-end sois leading to the river. In both Rattanakosin and the adjacent Phra Nakhon are a handful of the city’s oldest streets—Bam Rung Muang Road dates back to before 1864—thoroughfares that first appeared shortly after the new Thai capital was carved out of a bend in the Chao Phraya River in a bid to strengthen the city’s defenses. Wandering these narrow streets, I can’t help but »


Bangkokâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Rattanakosin as seen from Thonburi.


Lively Streets Above: The bustle along Mahararaj Road. Below: Outside the Phra Nakhon Bar & Gallery.


Across the garden, oblivious to the students, a monk meditates in the corner ... plugged into an ipod

think that the traffic would likely be the first line of that defense, fending off any invasive efforts; any foreign power to come across the daily vehicular snarl on these avenues would likely hightail it back from where they came. North of the palace to one side of Sanam Luang—itself a vast, featureless green space—I slip into the quiet comfort of Silpakorn University, a fine arts school where young Thai art students sporting exploding Afros and dark sunglasses the size of small TV sets idle in a courtyard, fingering guitars without a care in the world—including, it turns out, how to actually play. I catch third-year interior design student Korakot Ayutyanont taking notes inside an air-conditioned gallery and ask her what she likes about the neighborhood around her school. Almost in spite of the modern setting— the gallery around her is hung with a traveling collection of colorful tapestries from an innovative group of Norwegian artists—her answer is quite basic. “I like the feeling of the place,” says the 21-year-old from behind a shy smile. “It’s charming, the old buildings are a part of the past. It’s quiet.” Yet, aside from the busy life of a student, she says the only thing she has time for in the neighborhood other than school is eating along the streets. At that, she’s off to join the commuting throngs along Ratchadamnoen. Across the garden, oblivious to students snacking on street food or keying notebook computers, a monk meditates in the corner … plugged into an iPod. Second in numbers only to students—as well as Silpakorn, a block away is the more serious-minded Thammasat—orange-robed monks sweep through most every soi in Bangkok’s old city, underlining the large number of temples in the area. The Grand Palace and Wat Po might rise from the banks of the Chao Phraya River like some illusion in the night, but a few short blocks to the east are self-contained sois where everyone knows each other. The centerpiece to this community is still Wat Suthat and the equally tranquil Saranrom Royal Garden, a park with royal ties to the past but today a breath of fresh air in the big city. Local kids kick a football to me along one small soi but just as quickly see I’m more the inept Canadian rather than the fluid Brazilian. Areas like this are tucked in along the main thoroughfares of Rattanakosin behind government and military buildings—including a shooting range of all things—that stand tall and, from an architectural standpoint, only seem to be missing epaulets or even a few medals. Across from Wat Suthat

stands a crowd along a narrow soi. This group isn’t moving though: shrouded in plastic, these are newly minted images of Buddha in all sizes, waiting to be “adopted” rather than bought. As they have for decades, craftsmen on the lanes here busy themselves with making religious icons for the nation and are more than keen to show off their work. A few blocks north, Thanon Tanao, garishly lights up the night with a rainbow of neon and fluorescent bulbs. The Palace Hotel, which belongs to what I like to think of as the inverse name theory—if a building has a beautifully descriptive name, it will be nothing of the sort—is nowhere close to palatial. Next to it is the modest Phra Nakorn Bar & Gallery, a four-floor stop worth a look and an early dinner. Photographer Cedric Arnold and I eat like locals by ordering pla-meuk kai khem, squid with salty egg, and pad pet pla duk, deep fried catfish, and we’re not disappointed. The sweeping view from the roof all the way to the Golden Mount is just as spectacular and comes accompanied by, only in Bangkok, a Motown soundtrack. These juxtapositions of centuries-old ways and the modern world—monks training on computers!—are, Arnold tells me, precisely what he loves about this inexplicably secret part of the Thai capital.

Pak Khlong Talaat is a pile. Or several dozen

piles as this riverside market is one of the workmanlike locales that anchor the old city. Here, things are as they have been for decades. There are no funky restaurants or comfortable boutique hotels. Instead, mounds of orchids, buckets of water lilies, roses of every color tightly wrapped in newspaper, are all plentiful, workers push two-wheeled carts balancing 4meter-long bundles of palm fronds clutter Bangkok’s flower market. Here are the flowers intended for vases around the world, but sellers will just as easily part with a bundle of cut orchids for Bt60. Along the streets, garlands, or malai, are strung together out of jasmine or marigold with the nimble if somewhat bored fingers of a woman who chatters on her mobile phone. Closer to the river, whole sections housed underneath rusting metal beams and broken panes of glass are given over to fruits and vegetables of every description. Sixty years ago, this was the city’s fish market and more than a few of those who work here have done so for decades. Every day, trucks piled high with pineapples, circular rattan trays laden with chilies, tarps covered in branches of green » 115


bananas, so much of everything that you might want to start up a restaurant. Unlike the flower market, the wares at Bangkok’s sprawling amulet market upriver are not for sale. As with the statues, the miniature images of Buddha, phra kruang, can only be “rented.” Yet there’s no shortage of the talismans. Monks pore over cases of amulets, young collectors squint through miniscule loupes, elderly men shuffle their bony fingers across tabletops heaving with the medallions, and still others read up on their value and properties in a countless number of magazines devoted to the subject. Each is searching for physical invulnerability or divine guidance or a simple dose of good luck from the pieces. I feel like I’m wandering through a library laden with books written in a language I don’t understand. The amulets are available for as little as Bt5 for images that litter cloths spread across the pavement to several million baht for those that are considered especially sacred or well-

crafted or both. One thing they seemingly can’t do is cool off the stagnant air. But I’m forgetting that this side of Bangkok is far from the glossy brochure version of the city—that I should revel in its streets that appear to have turned their back on the present and now seem caught in a time warp. It’s late in the afternoon, so in my mind’s eye I picture Jaknaphak Meun-Artyin seeing off the last visitors of the day at the Grand Palace, knowing that the real theater of Bangkok’s old city is soon to start up once again. There’s also a good chance I would find businesswoman Piyanuj Rucknapich at a street-food stall near Thammasat University. And by the next morning, Korakot Ayutyanont will be back in class studying interior design. The first wave of visitors to the monumental side of Bangkok will be arriving, all too likely leaving the colorful sois, lanes and khlongs around them to the shadows of the ornate palace— and those in the know. 

GUIDE TO OLD BANGKOK tranquil grounds are nothing if not exclusive. 396 Maharaj Rd.; 66-2/622-3356; thaivillas. com; villas from Bt10,000 a night, minimum two-night stay. WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK Chote Chitr A hole-in-the-wall with a welldeserved reputation for dishes like bananablossom salad and red shrimp curry. Bring a map or get your concierge to write down the directions. 146 Phraeng Phuton; 662/221-4082; dinner for two Bt300. The Deck Book a table on the second deck for one of the best views of Bangkok’s river and Wat Arun. 66-2/221-9158; dinner for two Bt900. Phra Nakhon Bar & Gallery 58/2 Soi Damnoen Klang Tai, Ratchadmanoen Klang Rd.; 66-2/622-0282; dinner for two Bt500.

Wat Mahathat One of Thailand’s most important temples, it’s generally open from 7 A.M. to 6 P.M. Thanon Mahathat. Wat Suthat Colorful murals and a noted image of Buddha accent the calm feel of this temple. Thanon Botphram. Saranrom Royal Garden A peaceful break from the surrounding streets. Charoen Krung and Sanam Chai; open from 5 A.M. to 9 P.M. Amulet Market Located between Silpakorn University and Wat Mahathat, the market spills out along Thanon Mahathat, and is open from 8 A.M. to 6 P.M. Silpakorn University Includes a sculpture garden. 31 Na Phra Lan; su.ac.th. Bangkok’s bustling flower market.

Vivi 394/29 Maharaj Rd.; 66-2/226-4672; drinks for two Bt120.

WHERE TO STAY Arun Residence This renovated SinoPortuguese shophouse has five comfortable guestrooms, each offering great views. 3638 Soi Pratoo Nok Yoong, Maharat Rd.; 662/221-9158; arunresidence.com; double rooms from Bt3,500. Chakrabongse Villas Built in 1908, the three private villas and single suite on these

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WHAT TO DO Wat Phra Kaew and the Grand Palace Entry tickets for Bangkok’s historical centerpiece are sold from 8:30 A.M. until 3:30 P.M., though the grounds are open until 4:30 P.M. Entry Bt350. Wat Po Next to the palace, this is Bangkok’s most famous location for Thai massage and home to an image of a reclining Buddha, open from 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. watpho.com; entry Bt50. Pak Khlong Talaat The city’s flower and produce market is best visited at dawn when it’s at its busiest. Thanon Chakkaphet and Thanon Atsadang.

M A P BY WA S I N E E C H A N TA KO R N

GETTING THERE The quickest way to Rattanakosin and Phra Nakhon is to take Bangkok’s Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station, then board a ferry upriver to Tha Chang pier, Tha Thien pier or Rachinee pier. One-way fares are Bt13.


Monks stride through tropical rains behind the Grand Palace.


The cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s bustling Myeong-dong shopping district. Opposite: Giggles in a photo booth at the Lotte World mall, in Seoulâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Jamsil neighborhood.

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Cutting-edge art museums and galleries, high-tech shopping, old-fashioned saunas, late-night lounges and most of all, some of the tastiest food in Asia: Gary Shteyngart goes in search of the new Seoul, and ďŹ nds it striving, thriving and driven to succeed. Photographed by Anders Overgaard { G U I D E & M A P > PAG E 2 2 0 }


Modern Traditions Opposite, clockwise from top left: Sneakers for sale at a boutique in Apgujeong, a popular shopping district; Buddhist monk Jeong Hye Ryong at the Jogyesa temple, in the Insa-dong neighborhood; apartments in Ilsan Jamsil; grilled eel at the Solmoemaeul restaurant, in Gwanghwamun; ajummas — middle-aged housewives — at an Independence Day festival; kimchi and other garnishes at Solmoemaeul; inside the Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art designed by Rem Koolhaas; 50, a restaurant in Apgujeong. Center: A staircase in the Mario Botta–designed building at the Leeum.

et’s pretend it’s a warm Sunday afternoon, the veil of pollution that keeps the Seoul megalopolis tightly under its lid has lifted, the advent of spring is triggering the pheromones that keep us fruitful and multiplying, and I’m a 16-yearold Korean kid. Am I: (a) raising hell behind the 7-Eleven; (b) necking with my girl on some verdant mountain overlook; or (c) dressed in a school uniform, tie slightly undone, deep circles under my eyes, studying my brains out? Strolling through a bustling, cramped series of alleyways in the leafy Gwanghwamun district between two of Seoul’s most prominent royal palaces, the answer (c) is a no-brainer. If I had four words to sum up a Sunday afternoon stroll they would be church; study; study; church. Here are kids stumbling out of extra study sessions at the local high school—the girls with razor cuts and bangs, the boys just with razor cuts, the life slightly sucked out of them, but the teenager’s imperatives still driving them forward like a herd of dazed bulls—above them, RKO Radio–style towers prop massive crosses into the sky. In front of a church, I find a textbook store where the MegaStudy8000 richly mines the TOEFL dreams and nightmares of a generation. Here are some useful English phrases that any happy-go-lucky teenager should commit to memory: “I would like to get a humidifier.” “They took a CAT scan but they didn’t find anything unusual.” “Did they cure it?” Well, they did and they didn’t. Korea is a country with one of the unhappier histories the world has known, a present that amounts to the frenzied tapping of the fast-forward button and a future that may already be here. Sixty years after being colonized and brutalized by the Japanese and then bombed into near-oblivion by the internecine war between the Communist North and the American-backed South, the country is still divided in half. In the North, Kim Jong-Il’s cult-of-personality dictatorship continues precariously. In the South, the Koreans have created one of the world’s most advanced economies, fueled by ceaseless innovation and » 120


Interstate


Students singing at the Luxury Su karaoke club, in Hongdae.

Seoul is a megacity with endless incongruities. Past and present, tradition and modernity, have not merely collided here, they have caused a ďŹ ssion reaction 100 122


mind-boggling amounts of work (“My hobby is sleeping,” a young engineer told me). The War Memorial of Korea features dioramas of life in wartime; their hokey cardboard nature notwithstanding, the exhibit shows a civilization that came within millimeters of being completely snuffed out. Germany and Japan rebounded from their wartime losses, creating their own economic miracles, but their starving peasants were not eating grass and bark as late as the 1960’s. I have come to Seoul with my girlfriend, who is an American of Korean descent, and have just met her mother, who lives in San Francisco and hasn’t returned to the land of her birth in many years. “Too much building, too much building,” my girlfriend’s mother cries out as our cab honks and bullies its way past a phalanx of newly built residential monstrosities with names like Richenisia, Noblese, Daewoo Trump World III, Characterville and Instopia (would that be “Instant Utopia”?). “It wasn’t this way,” she says. The tourism board’s strange new slogan, Korea Sparkling, probably applies to some distant mountain brook flanked by a tranquil Buddhist monastery in the hinterland, but not much is sparkling in the polluted immensity of Seoul’s Han River (Korea’s economic growth has been called “The Miracle on the Han,” and Greater Seoul accounts for half of the country’s population). There are few vistas that will leave you gaping in wonder. Concrete and cement are what you will see—horizontally, vertically, diagonally, in the sky, in the sea, underground—while the flashing, impatient neon logos on most public surfaces are a constant reminder that modern life is very difficult. The key is to let yourself be a part of the never-ending flow of visual data around you. Have a cup of coffee at what I’m told is the world’s highest-grossing Starbucks, in the Myeongdong district, have another cup, make sure you have a steady supply of business cards, try to remember your SAT scores for discussion purposes and then run with the stress. Go down into Seoul’s efficient subway system. Some of the over-schooled kids are falling asleep on top of one another, others are watching TV on their mobile phones—cellular coverage in what the locals call the Republic of Samsung truly knows no bounds. These kids are part of the so-called Thumb Tribe, and with their ceaseless wireless communication they have, OMG!, changed the very nature of the Korean language. Get off at Yongsan station and head to the Yongsan Electronics Market, also known as Electroland. Here a half-dozen buildings of substantial size house entire shops devoted to GPS navigators and MP3 players, hyper-advanced, super-mobile phones that can probably reverse a vasectomy if you ask them to, and the ever-popular Nintendogs, which allows cooped-up city dwellers to raise an imaginary dog with the aid of a stylus and a tiny screen. The din is perpetual and the commerce flows sharply and ceaselessly against the human tide. Ancient security guards— short from childhood malnutrition—wander through this

electronic wonderland with quiet equanimity, while younger, much taller men dressed like Mormon missionaries lug the carcasses of personal computers, as their ancestors might have hoisted a cow or pig just a few short decades ago. Korea is one of the most interesting societies in the world, and Seoul is a megacity with endless incongruities. Past and present, tradition and modernity, have not merely collided here, they have caused a fission reaction. Prosperity, cutting-edge technology, and the unparalleled Christian faith that over a quarter of the citizenry have placed in the one they call “Geejush” have transformed this conservative Confucian land; but Korea’s history and its attendant tragedies are just a generation and a demilitarized zone away. Beneath the electronic bleats and streams of digital code there is a howl of pain— just go to a cemetery and watch an older woman quite literally collapse at her parents’ grave—that is visceral and familial and shockingly, despairingly real. ND THEN THERE’S THE FOOD. Korean cuisine is one key to its culture, and it is a deephearted strum of joy, a celebration of the gochu, the chili pepper that sets fire to most of the cooking, and a thousand ingredients besides. Every Korean is a foodie, and can rhapsodize about dinner the way a French novelist can describe a trip to a swinger’s club. The key is to find yourself a good tour guide. Many Koreans mistakenly believe that the Western visitor is weak of stomach, and will drag you to an Italian restaurant or some kind of deeply compromised fusion place. Resist by all means—the best restaurants in Seoul feature five-dollar rusted chandeliers and lots of Formica. After an hour-long tour of Electroland, my girlfriend and I walk across the street from Yongsan station to a place called Seobuk, which is the name of the North Korean area from which the owner hails. Note: Seoul’s address system is useless; for best results have your concierge call the number of an establishment and create a plan for getting you there. At Seobuk, we find a tired-looking but genial man tending to hungover hipsters. The specialty here is gamjatang stew, a mash of pork and potato covered with sesame leaf. Korean cuisine is all about taste, not presentation. A peek into a Korean kitchen will often reveal a lack of measuring cups, just an ajumma—the technically respectful but often derisory term for an older, married woman—tossing myriad ingredients into a boiling pot, going by smell more than anything. The vertebrae of the gamjatang’s pig stick out at you; the chunks of sweet fat around them have soaked up the red-pepper hotness, green onions and ground wild sesame seeds. The dish is remarkably free of grease and sugar, the taste is clear, and the succulence of the pork leaves no doubt about the owner’s claim that he buys the pigs himself. This restaurant has been around for 25 years—a small eternity in this relentless city. »


In the evening we meet up with my friend Charlie, a Korean native who works at the country’s edition of Harper’s Bazaar. A tall, bespectacled, American-educated wit who has a typical love–hate relationship with his city, Charlie takes us to Apgujeong. Apgu, as it’s known for short, is a kind of instant, vertical Beverly Hills south of the Han River (one of the main streets is actually named Rodeo Drive). “Romanesque-esque” is how Charlie describes some of the architecture found here. But it’s the people that are the most interesting. Apgu brims with plastic surgery clinics bearing names such as Smallface and Dream. The people in Apgu, and a number of their poodles, are coiffed and carved into something out of a Pixar cartoon. They can dine at the café Plastic or the new hot spot called 50, where that amount of dollars will buy you exactly half a bottle of unremarkable Kendall-Jackson wine and the opportunity to discover just how awful you look. “I was offered a nose job for my twentieth birthday,” Charlie tells me offhandedly. “By whom?” “My mother.” The Korean pursuit of perfection—at the golf course, in the boardroom, at the plastic surgeon’s—is relentless. This is a country that has gone from developing to overdeveloped in one generation. Failure is unthinkable. Listening to talk radio in a taxicab, we hear a man weeping inconsolably, while a team of professional consolers tells him it’s going to be okay, with his job, his wife, his loneliness. Sad music plays in the background as if to say “this can happen to any of us.” HE ESCAPE VALVE FOR MOST is food and drink. After 50, Charlie takes us off Apgu’s main drags to a nearby friedchicken place called Hanjanui Chueok, which roughly translates to “Memory of One Glass.” Enormous pitchers of Hite beer land on tables and are consumed instantly by the eclectic, raucous, smoky clientele. The bar food here would find few peers anywhere in the world. We start with the excellent gochu twigim, a hot stuffed pepper, lightly coated with flour and egg and deep-fried, then move to the fried chicken, which could stand up to the famous Polo Fried Chicken in Bangkok, immortalized by the late R. W. Apple Jr. There is so much juice and spice in each tender piece, the overall result crisp and soft in equal measure, crying out for beer and the cool radish cubes that round out the meal. Later in the week, we leave Apgu to the beautiful and the damned, and head for the youthful Hongdae district, in the shadows of Seoul’s premier art school. We take a quick meal at one of the bustling places selling galmaegisal, a chewy, lusty pork skirt steak served by waiters in red wifebeaters, who spray you with Febreze on the way out, leaving you smelling like some kind of wild pork flower, and head to the candy-colored basement Stereo Bar, where a slogan written on an ashtray could sum up the national mood: DON’T WORK TOO HARD. IS IT REALLY WORTH TO YOU? There are also exposed colored pipes, à la downtown Manhattan a little while ago, a girl in a birthday hat, and lots of bicultural Korean–American noise. The next stop is the exquisite Bar Da nearby, truly a hole in a concrete wall, full of glamorous nerds munching on dried anchovies while “Hotel California” plays on the stereo. Unlike amid the provincial flurry of Apgu, no one here knows or cares who you are. The next day, a workday, I don’t feel so good. Neither do many »


A fashionable information booth at Lotte World, in Jamsil. Opposite, from top: The beef galbi at Budnamujip restaurant; Bar Da, in Hongdae; tuned-in televisions on display at Electroland, a shopping center for gadgets and technology in the cityâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Yongsan district.

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Koreans. And so I head to that amazing invention—the jjimjilbang, or Korean sauna—where my spirit will be restored and detoxified. The Hurest Well Being Club sits between the 15th and 17th floors of a skyscraper, and offers great views of the surrounding office towers and the teenybopper shopping area of Myeong-dong. I change into a strange blue uniform, something out of a socialist Jewish summer camp, and set loose upon the “hot dock,” which is an excruciating sauna, followed by pools of cold water. All around me men on their lunch breaks are soaping off, some asleep in the tub, others practicing phantom golf swings in the water. Toothbrushes, haircuts, everything you will ever desire, is sold nearby. I retire to an oxygen room designed to relieve hangovers, and pass out on a remarkable wooden pillow that perfectly slots my weary head. Then it’s off to the yellow-mud room. Yellow mud, the wall text tells me, CAN BE CONSIDERED A LIVING CREATURE AND MITIGATES FATIGUE AND STRENGTHENS LADIES SKIN.

I pass out in the heat-swept room, yellow mud stalagmites hanging from the ceilings, and wake up refreshed and happy. My polluted hide doesn’t feel bad either. Next door, in the PC room, an old woman with a towel wrapped around her head plays impressive games of skill on the computer, while boys and girls curl up on those oddly comfortable wooden pillows reading manga cartoons. This is Korean society in deep, communal rest. At least for half a day, I feel like I’m a part of the family.

HE NEW LEEUM, SAMSUNG MUSEUM OF ART, up on Mount Namsan and overlooking the seedy Itaewon district, has been spearheading Seoul’s reputation as an arts destination. Funded by the family that controls the Samsung conglomerate, the vast museum campus consists of a fortress-like homage to terra-cotta designed by Mario Botta, a stainless-steel box by Jean Nouvel, and a slender, light-filled structure by Rem Koolhaas. What these three buildings are doing next to one another I cannot begin to fathom, but clearly somebody at Samsung has gone on a shopping spree. The museum’s traditional offerings include masterworks in celadon, like a water dropper shaped like a peach, eerily beautiful in its functionality. Willows, cranes and peonies hover ghostly over some of the designs, while several examples of 15th-century work nearly flirt with abstraction. The exhibit is quiet and the lighting low; the objects glow within the darkness—unmistakably, they are this nation’s treasures. On the modern side, the collection ranges from Rothko to Damien Hirst, but most interesting are Korean artworks such as Ik-Joong Kang’s I Have to Learn English, a bittersweet series of tiles painted with random comments picked up while riding the New York subway. Then there’s Lee Bul’s Cyborg W6, a futuristic female body missing many parts, ready for assembly or further disassembly—a brilliant nod to technology,

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femininity and perhaps the dystopian manga comics that have made such a dent in the young Asian psyche. Later we walk through the artsy and leafy Samcheongdong area, which is filled with restaurants, galleries and many of Seoul’s remaining hanok, traditional wooden houses clustered around small courtyards in which a lone apricot tree may grow. We stop for lunch at Solmoemaeul, an airy place where the emphasis is on royal cuisine, which stretches back to a time before Korea’s fateful encounter with the chili pepper some 250 years ago, and may thus be gentler on some Western palates. We order pumpkin soup, silky acorn jelly and beef of heavenly provenance, all to be wrapped in tiny radish crêpes that are presented with nine toppings, such as mushrooms, seaweed and carrot strips. Korean food’s emphasis on banchan, a wide assortment of side dishes that must always include kimchi is strongly in evidence here. I take the banchan concept as a bold challenge to design my own meal—for example, wrapping a little radish pancake with bulgogi, a thinly sliced sirloin, and then crowning the fatty little number with a touch of acorn jelly to smooth it out. Baby fiddlehead ferns and fresh squid add layers of complexity to other creations. Per my girlfriend’s mother’s instruction I drink wine stewed with sweet rice, and now my thirst and hunger are finally sated. Or are they? Baby fiddlehead ferns are fine for some, but the previous night we were talking about grilled meat, a luxury that unifies everyone in Korea and whose communal importance cannot be overstated. The price of beef is a constant topic of conversation here. At Budnamujip restaurant, in an area far south of the Han River and the city’s center, the specialty is galbi, short ribs traditionally seasoned with such flavors as Asian-pear juice, sesame seed, rice wine, sugar and of course, that Korean mainstay, garlic. After you put on a bib, mounds of galbi are grilled before you: the meat at Budnamujip is cut off the bone with a jeweler’s precision. Lacking toughness or the sinewy nature of inferior galbi, the meat-to-suet ratio here is just right and the jolt of sweetness from the complex seasoning is perfect. Our waitress kindly cuts ribbons of kimchi as well, and we coat the beef with a touch of hot-pepper sauce, add a pickled garlic clove, and wrap the whole thing in lettuce. Koreans view eating as a communal affair, but when confronted with high-quality meats I’ve seen them clam up, lost in the flavor of the animal. There is something almost hypnotic about a good plate of galbi—you eat quickly, greedily and meanwhile time slows down all around you, in some newfound coda to the theory of relativity. Only the fat man next to us—the one with the enormous ruby pinky ring who is yelling at the poor waitress over the bill—is immune to its spell. As for us, we eat until we can eat no longer. One night, with the liquor flowing, the conversation turns to a favorite subject: the ajummas, the older women mocked for everything from their highly permed hair to their »


Part of the â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pine Treeâ&#x20AC;? series by Korean artist Bae Bien-u at the Leeum museum.

The Korean pursuit of perfection is relentless. This is a country that has gone from developing to overdeveloped in one generation 127


penchant for wearing sun visors to protect their ageing skin. “I once found my flight back to Seoul at the Manila airport just by following those visors,” a BBC correspondent tells me. But tonight Charlie, who typically has many arch things to say about his country, surprises me. “Everything we have we owe to the ajummas,” he declares. The whole Korean economic miracle, he goes on to tell me, rests on these mothers waking up at five in the morning and shepherding their charges through kindergarten, after-school classes, Sunday schools, and all the way up to Seoul National or M.I.T. “In effect they’ve built this country,” he says. I’m reminded of this a few days later when I attend my girlfriend’s mother’s high school reunion. Her mother graduated from the prestigious Ewha Girls’ High School, and older Korean women from all over the world have gathered here today to pray and sing and gossip and laugh like little girls. The photographs they wear on their chests poignantly show themselves when they were young students, lost beneath bushels of thick dark hair. Sinatra’s “My Way” plays in the background. They talk about their children, leaving me with the impression that about 85 percent of Harvard’s and Yale’s student body must be Korean. Afterward, a very competitive Tupperware party/bake sale breaks out to raise money for

their alma mater. This is a who’s who of Korea’s elite; even Nobel Prize winner and ex-president Kim Dae-Jung’s wife is here, surrounded by bodyguards with earpieces. I did it my way, indeed. Toward the end of our stay, my girlfriend and I hike up one of the steep mountains that clasp urban Seoul in their embrace, providing a welcome antidote to the great concentration of cement. Nearly a third of the way up the mountain, we—who are both in our mid-thirties—are exhausted and drenched. Meanwhile, senior citizens in serious GoreTex suits (the ajummas in full perm-and-visor mode) are charging up the slopes like rams, pushing us out of their way, while some of the septuagenarian men are taking time out from the merciless climb for a little weight lifting by the side of the trail. What can account for such vigor and drive? What can account for the need to climb higher and higher until the city you have built spreads before you endlessly, neon crosses rising over lube shops and cafeterias snapping to glowing life even as a pink-hued industrial dusk settles over the metropolis? To begin to answer that question one must at least be able to climb to the top of the mountain. And I cannot.  Gary Shteyngart is a T+L (U.S.) contributing editor.

GUIDE TO SEOUL WHERE TO STAY Park Hyatt Seoul 995-14 Daechi-dong, Gangnam-gu; 822/2016-1234; hyatt.com; doubles from KRW245,000. Shilla Seoul 202 Jangchungdong 2-ga, Jung-gu; 82-2/ 2233-3131; shilla.net; doubles from KRW205,000. W Seoul-Walkerhill 21 Gwangjang-dong, Gwangjin-gu; 82-2/465-2222; whotels.com; doubles from KRW202,000. WHERE TO EAT & DRINK Bar Da 365-12 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu; 82-2/334-5572; drinks for two KRW28,900. Budnamujip 1340-5 Seochodong, Seocho-gu; 82-2/34734167; dinner for two KRW43,300. 50 650 Sinsa-dong, Gangnamgu; 82-2/544-8050; drinks for two KRW57,800. GETTING THERE AND AROUND Nonstop flights to Seoul are available from all of the main centers. The best way to get around Seoul is on the excellent subway system. Buses

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and cabs (a 15-minute taxi ride runs about KRW10,000) are a good alternative, but are susceptible to traffic. Ask your concierge to plot your route on a map to show to your cab driver.

Hanjanui Chueok 549-9 Sinsadong, Gangnam-gu; 82-2/5410969; lunch for two KRW50,500. Plastic 631-13 Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu; 82-2/3446-4646; lunch for two KRW47,600.

Seobuk Near the Yongsan subway station; 82-2/794-0008; dinner for two KRW28,900. Solmoemaeul 62 Samcheongdong, Jongno-gu; 82-2/7200995; dinner for two KRW57,800. Stereo Bar 334-1 Seogyo-dong, Mapo-gu; 82-2/322-4312; drinks for two KRW13,000. WHAT TO SEE AND DO Hurest Well Being Club spa Myeongdong Tower, 31-1, Myeong-dong 2-ga, Jung-gu; 822/778-8307. Kyobo Bookshop 1 Jongnodong, Jongno-gu; 82-2/397-3432. Leeum, Samsung Museum of Art 747-18 Hannam-dong, Yongsan-gu; 82-2/2014-6900; leeum.samsungfoundation.org. Lotte World 40-1 Jamsil-dong, Songpa-gu; 82-2/411-2000; lotteworld.com. War Memorial of Korea 8 Yongsan-dong 1-ga, Yongsan-gu; 82-2/709-3139; warmemo.or.kr. Yongsan Electronics Market 152 Hangangno 3-ga, Yongshan-gu.


Evening on the bay from Barr Al Jissah.

A reading area at the Gwanghwamun branch of the Kyobo Bookshop.


L.A.

IN A GROUNDSWELL OF APPRECIATION FOR HISTORIC BUILDINGS, REVITALIZED

THE CITY OF FOREVER YOUNG IS FLOUTING THE OLD CLICHÉS. WRITER


Shoe designer Adriana Caras rides through Santa Monica in a classic 1958 Corvette. Opposite: Downtown’s Deco Eastern Columbia Building.

Confident NEIGHBORHOODS AND SEASONED PRACTITIONERS OF MODEST ARTS,

M.G. LORD AND PHOTOGRAPHER LISA EISNER ZOOM IN ON THE REAL LOS ANGELES


P

ALVY SINGER IN 1977’S Annie Hall, Woody Allen famously described Los Angeles as a place whose only cultural advantage is being able to make a right turn on red. Thirty-one years later, the old chestnut lives on, but the notorious Manhattan propagandist has crossed over. For the opening of the Los Angeles Opera’s 2008–2009 season, general director Plácido Domingo invited Allen to direct Gianni Schicchi, the third comic opera in Puccini’s triple-bill Il Trittico. This happens to say much more about Los Angeles than it does about Woody Allen. For as long as outsiders have jeered at L.A.—“shallow!” “phony!” “pathologically car-dependent!”—L.A. has fought back, if not always from a position of confidence. There was a there there even before I moved from New York eight years ago, but that didn’t stop my East Coast friends from teasing me mercilessly. These days, I rarely hear the cultural wasteLAYING

land slur, or any other slur, for that matter. One friend who used to sneer spent the better part of a month last year flaunting her invitation to the opening of the Broad Contemporary Art Museum at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art—not just a fun bash for an important Renzo Piano building but also, amazingly, a non-industry hot ticket during Academy Awards week. Another friend just asked me to get her tickets to the Los Angeles Opera’s production of, you guessed it, Il Trittico. In the land of quakes, one hesitates to call anything earthshaking, but L.A.’s transformation from a patchwork of born-yesterday suburbs (where I grew up) to a real, unified city registers high on the cultural Richter scale. L.A. hasn’t lost its great historical markers—a beach, a sign, those movie studios. It still has strip malls and housing tracts, but it also has a booming downtown for the first time since the 1950’s—whose population has doubled to 36,000 since 1999. The construction of new buildings there and elsewhere in the city has made Angelenos notice venerable,

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Clothing designer Christina Kim at dosa818, her L.A. outpost. Behind her, piecedmica silhouettes of Oaxacan artist Francisco Tolode’s feet. Opposite: Staffers Eric Vindel and Aimee Pinga at Amoeba Music in Hollywood.

neglected ones—and, astonishingly, help stave off their decline. Quite simply, L.A. has awakened to its past—its stories, its people, its places. Downtown, where I live, I like the way the flashy curves of Frank Gehry’s Walt Disney Concert Hall underscore the elegant functionality of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion across the street. Long home to the Oscars, and now to the Los Angeles Opera, the Midcentury treasure was designed by iconic Los Angeles architect Welton Becket, who created both Hollywood’s cylindrical Capitol Records building and its geodesic Cinerama Dome. Although the dome was never threatened with destruction, it was very nearly obscured—by ArcLight, the state-of-the-art movie complex of which it is now a part. At the urging of the Los Angeles Conservancy, however, developers changed their plans and kept its golfball dimples in view. Likewise, in 2006, the Griffith Observatory, a beacon on the south-facing slope of Mount Hollywood, added more than 3,700 square meters of exhibition space simply by burrowing into the hillside beneath

it—leaving its famous shell, site of the climax in Rebel Without a Cause, unscathed. In L.A., which has long clung to the notion of unending youth, a quiet, organic movement has emerged from finding value in the old. The mantra is “adaptive re-use.” Its bugbears are disposability, fast food and big carbon footprints. Its mascots are both a Prius—fueled at the all-green-but-the-gas Helios House BP station—and an ancient diesel Mercedes— modified at Lovecraft Bio-Fuels to run on doughnut grease. This movement is not about preservation or conservation per se. It’s about stewardship—of buildings and neighborhoods that carry history, and of passed-down skills. You could call it the new authenticity, though some trend-watcher may coin a catchier phrase. Lisa Eisner, who photographed this story, is a Geiger counter for detecting it, and she led me to many exemplars. “I like things that avoid the ‘Hollywood’ cliché,” she explained, “things that you can’t find in other cities.” The fashion world provides the first stop on what I’ll call the New Authenticity tour. »

IN THE OLD. ITS BUGBEARS ARE DISPOSABILITY AND FAST FOOD 133


DESIGNER CHRISTINA KIM’S COMPANY, DOSA, IS SYNONYmous with unbleached organic cotton, environmentally friendly dyes and recycled materials. In her L.A. factory in Downtown’s Fashion District, Kim collects fabric scraps that would ordinarily be discarded. “I remember being amazed and fascinated at my grandmother’s traditional Korean socks,” she told me, describing soles patched with cotton cloth clipped from bedding, each piece a different shade of white. Mending, Kim realized, could “increase an object’s value, especially when done by hand and with care.” She went on to build a worldwide business by transforming fashion-industry detritus into luscious, labor-intensive clothes. You can see Kim’s designs on famous fans like Nicole Kidman and Jennifer Aniston and buy them at the L.A. Barneys. But to get a sense of her relationship to Los Angeles, you must see dosa818, her retail space on the 12th floor of the Wurlitzer Building, a terra-cotta–tiled gem on Downtown’s Broadway. The 650-square-meter loft could easily be mistaken for a Zendo, were it not for the art installations and racks of gossamer clothes. Kim relies on the skills behind the traditional arts and crafts of Latin America, where most of her workers come from, and she knows the immigrant experience firsthand; she came to Los Angeles with her family from South Korea when she was 15. And even though she later moved to New York and established her flagship store there, she has always made her clothing here because of the workers. In 1994, she decided to join them. This was shortly after the acquittal of four white Los Angeles police officers—whose brutal beating of African-

American resident Rodney King was caught on videotape— led to widespread street violence. The verdict deepened the divide between prosperous, mostly white neighborhoods in the west and poorer, mostly black and Latino ones in the east, which the post–World War II suburban movement and the 1965 race riots in Watts had already begun to create. “The King riot was part of what made me want to move back,” Kim said. She wanted to participate in the healing process, “to bridge the gap—in a small way.” Now she often works alongside her seamstresses—mending more than fabric in the once-simmering neighborhood. SINCE 2000, MOST OF THE CITY’S FAMOUSLY DISCONNECTED and derelict neighborhoods not only have rebounded, they have begun to cohere—with the millennium real estate bubble providing an unlikely glue. (Never mind that it has since popped.) Because many first-time home buyers could not afford West L.A.—often the place where they grew up—they turned east, resurrecting houses with “good bones” in Hollywood, Silver Lake, Los Feliz and Echo Park. Many of my friends—to say nothing of L.A.’s closest culture watchers—were either party or witness to this. They lived next to different types of people and usually figured out how to get along. Home ownership changed these buyers, even the jaded ones who planned merely to flip. They learned respect for craftsmanship and hands-on work. They learned to value authenticity, and that began to inform their lives. If any event serves as a rallying cry for authenticity, it is the loss of Mid-Wilshire’s 84-year-old Ambassador Hotel, site of

AT THE EDISON, A CAST-IRON GENERATOR MAKES YOU FEEL LIKE 134

T O P L E F T : C O U R T E S Y O F D A V I D K O R D A N S K Y G A L L E R Y, L O S A N G E L E S , C A L I F O R N I A , A N D S A L O N 9 4 , N E W Y O R K N E W Y O R K

From left: Amy Bessone and some of her work in progress in Boyle Heights; the lobby of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion; staff at author Dave Egger’s Time Travel Mart and 826LA tutoring center, in Echo Park.


Robert Kennedy’s assassination, which the city bulldozed in 2006 to make way for a school. Its legendary nightclub, the Cocoanut Grove, was slated to become an auditorium, but this year it, too, was razed. As the hotel demolition began, three disillusioned preservationists threw a public wake in the Gaylord Hotel, across the street: L.A. Conservancy executive director Linda Dishman, Conservancy board member Diane Keaton, and club owner Andrew Meieran, who was then transforming an abandoned power plant into the Edison bar. “You could see the dust and hear the wrecking crew,” Meieran said, still bitter at the recollection. Meieran cut his preservationist teeth at UC Berkeley, where he lost the dormitory lottery but scraped together funds for a beat-up Craftsman bungalow, on which he learned firsthand the art of restoration. The Edison, which Meieran co-owns with Marc Smith, is now one of the hottest clubs downtown. In the room that gives the club its name, a gigantic, rivet-covered, cast-iron generator makes you feel like a stowaway in the engine room of a Jules Verne submarine. The old equipment still hums with the promise of its time. “A hundred years ago,” Meieran said, “people had just discovered how to harness electricity, record voices, and transmit radio.” About 2 kilometers from the Edison, the Orpheum Theatre—a walnut-walled, vaudeville-era space—occupies a stretch of Broadway that once had 12 movie houses and three major department stores. Most were shuttered, and the street was eerily dead at night when Dishman became executive director of the L.A. Conservancy in 1992. “There was no crime, though,” she says, “because there were no people to

commit crimes against.” Building on efforts begun in 1978, when the Conservancy was formed, activist citizens like Meieran and fellow bar owner Cedd Moses, developers like Tom Gilmore (an early evangelist for Downtown), and the city itself have taken Broadway off life support. Performers such as Lyle Lovett and Alanis Morissette play the Orpheum. Nearby, the restored Mayan Theater is known for its triannual cult spectacle Lucha Vavoom, a chaotic mingling of burlesque dancers, masked lucha libre Mexican wrestlers (inspiration for Jack Black’s movie Nacho Libre), and lowrider cars. With skulls painted on their faces and tights as good as painted on their thighs, the wrestlers are a balance of earnestness and goofiness. The Mayan is also one of the historic movie houses that host the Last Remaining Seats, a Conservancy program screening vintage movies to support such ongoing projects as the restoration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s 1924 Ennis House in Los Feliz. L.A. has never stopped celebrating its longest-running raison d’être, and film societies like American Cinematheque, the 27-year-old grande dame headquartered in the 1922 Egyptian Theatre, lure people out of their living rooms with fare that goes far beyond TCM. Since 2001, the hip Cinespia has projected films on a mausoleum wall, “above and below the stars,” in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. To compensate for the modest irreverence of allowing fans to picnic on the graves, part of its US$10 admission fee goes to restoring the grounds. The Cinefamily, new kid on the film-society block, projects films in the Silent Movie Theatre, a landmark 1942 »

A STOWAWAY IN THE ENGINE ROOM OF A JULES VERNE SUBMARINE 135


Owner Joanna Moore at Axe, her restaurant in Venice. Above: A 1934 Plympouth drops off a wrestler-dancer for the Lucha Vavoom spectacle at the Mayan Theater downtown.


The 1935 GrifďŹ th Observatory on Mount Hollywoodâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s south slope, which Pfeiffer Partners and Brenda Levin Associates expanded underground in 2006. Below: The Silent Movie Theatre, in Mid-Wilshire.


THE TIME TRAVEL MART RESEMBLES A 1970’S 7-ELEVEN. YET INSTEAD OF SLURPEES AND ASPIRIN, IT SELLS DINOSAUR EGGS, ROBOT MILK AND ‘LEECHES — NATURE’S DOCTORS’

structure in the Fairfax District that may be best known for the grisly murder of its owner there in 1997. Brothers Sammy and Dan Harkham bought the theater last year in the neighborhood they grew up in, and hired programmer Hadrian Belove to build a series equal to that of American Cinematheque. They wanted to expand beyond silent films, but not abandon them—or the theater’s 96-year-old organist, Bob Mitchell, who remembers the films he now accompanies from their first time around. AMOEBA MUSIC, ON SUNSET BOULEVARD IN HOLLYWOOD near the ArcLight, is one of several singular stores on our tour. It is a monument to vinyl, an emblem of the onceindomitable record industry as it pretzels into an iTunes world. The L.A. branch of a Berkeley store, Amoeba carries 250,000 titles. Shopping here is as much about touch and sight as about hearing—placing your fingers on CD’s and records, responding viscerally to seductive cover art, whose importance has been diminished by digital distribution. While Amoeba preserves the vanishing pleasure of record shopping, Family bookstore, on Fairfax in Mid-Wilshire, is building a bulwark against the Kindle “wireless reading device.” The shop’s back wall is papered with a blown-up black-and-white photo of a gun-toting Eastern European Jewish vigilante group formed to guard against pogroms. Coowner David Kramer bills Family as “a curated bookstore.” This means that it stocks very few books, but for each of its pristine copies there is one dog-eared version that Kramer or his business partner, the aforementioned Silent Movie Theatre’s Sammy Harkham, has read and loved. For the store to function, you have to trust them—to believe that because you and they both like, say, Mikhail Bulgakov’s classic The Master and Margarita, you will also like David Shrigley’s Ants Have Sex in Your Beer. Apparently trust keeps the place open. “Our clients have become our friends,” said Kramer, whose friends range from Simpsons creator Matt Groening to “70year-old guys who used to write for Star Trek.” The Echo Park Time Travel Mart, on Sunset Boulevard, has been designed to resemble a 1970’s 7-Eleven. Yet instead of Slurpees, Pringles and aspirin, it sells dinosaur eggs, robot milk and “leeches—nature’s tiny doctors.” The more you look, the weirder it gets: LOST: DECADE announces a sign on the bulletin board. HAVE YOU SEEN 1960–1970? ANY INFO WOULD BE HELPFUL. LAST SEEN IN MY FRIEND STEVE’S VAN. It 138

may take a minute, but then the visitor gets it. This is a puton—an art installation: a convenience store stocked for a road trip through time. But the merchandise sells, and almost as soon as the store opened in the spring last year, it earned enough to pay rent for the nonprofit walk-in tutoring center for neighborhood kids, called 826LA, that occupies the rest of the building. Both store and center are the brainchildren of Dave Eggers, author and publisher of McSweeneys literary journal, who started the first such concern in San Francisco in 2002. To make the Echo Park space possible, Forty-Year-Old Virgin producer Judd Apatow hosted a parody fund-raiser, “An Evening of Best Intentions,” honoring actor Seth Rogen for “the charity work he is considering doing in the future.” Apatow exacted tributes from Will Ferrell, Ben Stiller and dozens of others, Eggers told me. “Guests were given Kentucky Fried Chicken to eat and the décor was borrowed from the Rocky Balboa premiere held a few days earlier. It was a wild and hilarious night.” Ordinarily this would be a hard act to follow, but not if you have a time machine. On the heels of the party, 826LA’s then executive director Mac Barnett booked readings by dead authors (okay, dead-author impersonators) Homer, John Steinbeck and Emily Dickinson. “We’re finally going to get her out of the house,” he joked. UNTIL RECENTLY, A DICKINSON TYPE IN DOWNTOWN’S ARTS District could have stayed happily indoors—with no galleries or bistros to tempt her. But today my still-gritty neighborhood houses lofts and restaurants like R23, whose exceptional Japanese food has drawn locals and adventurous West Siders since 1991. Like those in New York City’s SoHo, the district’s vacant warehouses were colonized by artists in the 1970’s, but as the area gentrified, rents rose—sending artists to newer urban frontiers like Boyle Heights. MOCA’s Temporary Contemporary took up residence in nearby Little Tokyo in 1983. It is now permanently the David Geffen Contemporary. Some remaining battered buildings in the city’s historic core are its newest places to view art—pulling the Chinatown art crowd to 44 galleries, mostly on Main and Spring streets, which were dubbed Gallery Row by the city in 2003. The Downtown Art Walk draws about 4,000 people, ranging from artists to West L.A. collectors. »


Helios House, the LEEDcertiďŹ ed BP ďŹ lling station at the corner of Olympic and Robertson boulevards.


One of the most collectible artists is a pioneer of an industrial section of Boyle Heights, across the Los Angeles River: thirtysomething painter Amy Bessone, whose work has been bought by MOCA. Bessone is best known for her large-scale paintings of Meissen porcelain figurines rendered as if they were alive. “There is a strange moment in the porcelains where German folklore meets Disney,” she told me. Of the new work in her studio, she said, “The last porcelains I painted were close-ups of faces. Their surfaces were very mask-like, which drew me to painting masks themselves.” IF L.A. IS COMING INTO ITS OWN, IT’S BECAUSE IT IS LEARNING to embrace the contradictions that define any great city. Downtown’s Eastern Columbia Building, a turquoise Deco jewel converted to condominium lofts (Johnny Depp owns a penthouse), is a far cry from neighboring South Park—a cluster of glittering new residential skyscrapers near the Staples Center, home to the L.A. Lakers. And Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria—opened in 1935 as a haven from the Great Depression—is a far cry from just about everything else. If Mad King Ludwig of Bavaria had decided to open a cafeteria and pattern it after a hunting lodge, Clifton’s would be the result. Columns disguised as redwoods appear to poke through the dining room ceiling. A 6-meter waterfall washes through its center. Long before feng shui made it to the U.S., founder Clifford Clinton knew that the sound of water was soothing. “My grandfather’s parents were missionaries in China,” said Clifford’s grandson, restaurant manager Robert Clinton. As a little boy, Clifford saw hunger, poverty and hopelessness. When he had a chance to alleviate them, he jumped at it. “He wanted a place where people could leave all that outside and eat good, wholesome, low-priced food,” Clinton said. Even at Broadway’s lowest point, Clifton’s never closed its doors. “We are a landmark. We don’t need a plaque on the door to say so.” Neither does another living landmark, Bob Baker, who carves marionettes and trains apprentices to animate them 2.5 kilometers northwest, in Filipinotown. Baker gave his first puppet show at age eight, in 1933, and has been mounting them ever since. With its houselights on, the theater is nothing: squirming kids and cheesy, dusty Christmas decorations. With the lights down, it’s unforgettable—part Ice Capades, part Muppets, part Chinese opera, part Bolshoi Ballet. And you see the puppeteers, a rainbow of ethnicities, walking among the audience, hands flying, convincing you that the marionettes are alive and the humans are struggling to keep

up with them. Even before the theater was founded in 1963, Baker, who worked in movies, was a hit with Hollywood families. “Poor little Liza Minnelli,” he recalled. “She was always getting left behind. She used to put her arms around me and say, ‘I love you, puppet man.’” Some kids who celebrated their sixth birthdays in the theater are coming back to celebrate their fortieth. PLÁCIDO DOMINGO GETS IT THAT AUTHENTICITY IS NOT about snubbing community; it’s why he’s tapped Hollywood heavies Garry Marshall, William Friedkin and Woody Allen to direct. It’s why the L.A. Opera performs free for kids, and why it has commissioned a work on Rafael Mendez, who as a boy played trumpet in Pancho Villa’s army and as a man performed with the MGM Orchestra. “How are we going to get people to love our religion,” Domingo once asked a staff member, “if we don’t invite them into the church?” When Welton Becket designed the original 1964 Music Center complex, anchored on the south by the Chandler Pavilion, he made a controversial decision—to raise its plaza above street level. Becket’s L.A. was not pedestrian-friendly, so the placement of the plaza did not then seem outrageous. But L.A. is rethinking its symbiosis with the car: when gas prices spiked last summer, so did ridership on the L.A. Metro—which includes the Red Line, an eight-year-old, 27kilometer-long, earthquake-resistant subway that makes it possible to travel from Downtown to the San Fernando Valley at rush hour without hitting traffic. It may also be time to rethink Becket’s symbolic placement of high art above the culture of the street. The 110 Project, newly commissioned by the L.A. Opera, may well erase that symbolic separation. It is a paean to the city’s first freeway, the redoubtable I-110, which turns 70 in 2009. Emmy Award–winning Angeleno composer Laura Karpman will write the score. Its libretto will incorporate themes from “story circles”—public interviews held in the racially diverse neighborhoods that the freeway traverses. And it will run 110 minutes—the time it takes in heavy traffic to get from San Pedro, at one end of the city, to Pasadena, at the other. “It’s about moving not only from one place to another, but through time,” says Stacy Brightman, the opera’s director of community programs. It’s about the wind in your hair and the right turn on red. “Seventy years—a lifetime. How has Los Angeles changed in a lifetime?” And will it take a freeway or a subway into the future? 

L.A. IS RETHINKING ITS SYMBIOSIS WITH THE CAR: WHEN GAS 140


Puppets at Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater in Filipinotown, in operation since 1963.

GUIDE TO LOS ANGELES WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK Axe For “a whole experience,” says photographer Lisa Eisner of her favorite restaurant, complete your meal with a walk to nearby “fun shops, galleries, and other restaurants.” 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice; 1-310/664-9787; dinner for two US$75. Clifton’s Brookdale Cafeteria 648 S. Broadway; 1-213/627-1673; dinner for two US$22. The Edison 108 W. Second St.; 1-213/6130000; drinks for two US$26. R23 923 E. Second St.; 1-213/687-7178; dinner for two US$90.

WHERE TO STAY The London West Hollywood The 200-room property is home to Gordon Ramsay’s latest restaurant. 1020 N. San Vicente Blvd.; 1-310/854-1111; thelondonwesthollywood.com; doubles from US$238. Mondrian Philippe Starck’s signature look has been updated recently by Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz. 8440 Sunset Blvd.; 1-323/6508999; morganshotelgroup.com; doubles from US$225. Downtown L.A. Standard Downtown’s coolest hotel, courtesy of André Balazs, in the Modernist Superior Oil headquarters. 550 S. Flower St.; 1-213/892-8080; standardhotel.com; doubles from US$245.

WHAT TO DO Film Societies: American Cinematheque Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd.; 1-323/466-3456; americancinematheque.com. ArcLight Hollywood Cinerama Dome, 6360 W. Sunset Blvd.; 1-323/464-1478; arclightcinemas.com. The Cinefamily The Silent Movie Theatre, 611 N. Fairfax Ave.; 1-323/655-2510; cinefamily.org. Cinespia Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd.; 1-323/469-1181; hollywoodforever. com. Last Remaining Seats For locations, call 1-213/623-2489 or visit laconservancy.org. Bob Baker Marionette Theater 1345 W. First St.; 1-213/250-9995; bobarkermarionettes. com; US$15. Broad Contemporary Art Museum, Los

Angeles County Museum of Art 5905 Wilshire Blvd.; 1-323/857-6000; lacma.org. dosa818 818 S. Broadway, 12th floor; 1-213/489-2801; dosainc.com. Downtown Art Walk The second Thursday of every month, 12–9 P.M.; downtownartwalk.com. Gallery Row Between Second and Ninth streets, and Main and Spring streets. Griffith Observatory 2800 E. Observatory Rd.; 1-213/473-0800; griffithobservatory.org. Los Angeles Opera 135 N. Grand Ave.; 1-213/972-7219; laopera.com. Lucha Vavoom at The Mayan Theater 1038 S. Hill St.; 1-213/746-4674; luchavavoom.com. Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) 250 S. Grand Ave. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA 152 N. Central Ave; 1-213/626-6222; moca.org. Orpheum Theatre 842 S. Broadway; 1-877/677-4386; laorpheum.com. Walt Disney Concert Hall 111 S. Grand Ave.; 1-323/850-2000; laphil.com. WHERE TO SHOP Amoeba Music 6400 W. Sunset Blvd.; 1-323/245-6400; amoeba.com. Echo Park Time Travel Mart 1714 W. Sunset Blvd.; 1-213/413-3388; 826la.org. Family 436 N. Fairfax Ave.; 1-323/782-9221; familylosangeles.com.

PRICES SPIKED LAST YEAR, SO DID RIDERSHIP ON THE METRO 141


(My Favorite Place) Christopher Bailey on the roof of Burberry’s headquarters.

BAILEY’S CLASSIC LONDON

WHERE TO EAT

Burberry’s creative director Christopher Bailey explains to DANI SHAPIRO how a daily stroll through historic London harmonizes his life and work MAYFAIR, I have a panoramic view: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, Wellington Arch, Buckingham Palace gardens and the big wheel. It’s why I chose to live there. On my walk to the Haymarket each morning, where the Burberry offices are, I love that I can connect with that traditional part of England and nature at the same time—all right in the midst of the city. It’s a 10- or 15minute walk straight down Piccadilly. Sometimes I skirt through Green Park when I want to see a squirrel. I’m from

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ROM MY HOME IN OLD

Yorkshire, the countryside, so parks are very important. Nature grounds you. As I make my way to the office, I also pass the Royal Academy, and in the warm weather they have outdoor exhibits in the courtyard. People on the streets inspire me as well, though it isn’t always a conscious thing. Juxtaposing young, modern fashion with tradition and history is what I do at Burberry. We all have this memory bank and we don’t always know what’s in there, but things rise to the surface. It’s very easy to walk through the world with eyes open but not seeing. I try to take things in. ✚

APRI L 2 0 0 9| T R A V E L A N D L E I S U R E S E A . C O M

The Wolseley The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and an English high tea starting at 3:30 P.M. It’s a beautiful old building that used to be a car showroom in the 1920’s. I favor the steak and chips, but all the meals are amazing. 160 Piccadilly; 44-20/74996996; dinner for two £91.

WHERE TO SHOP Burlington Arcade It runs north from Piccadilly, and is filled with little specialty shops. My favorite is a perfumer, Penhaligon’s. Try its Blenheim Bouquet. On Piccadilly near Old Bond St., 44-20/7630-1411 (Penhaligon’s; 44-20/ 7629-1416). Fortnum & Mason A local department store that’s very British. The food hall has cheese from all the British Isles, and an amazing selection of English teas — their English Breakfast is my choice. 181 Piccadilly; 4420/7734-8040.

E VA V E R M A N D E L

U.K.


April 2009  

April 2009

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