EXPLORING CAMBODIA’S COASTLINE
MOST Romantic HOTELS in the world
SAVE MONEY WHEN ROAMING
23 WAYS TO DO DUBLIN FLY ME!
EVOLUTION OF THE AIR HOSTESS
GUIDE TO 42ND STREET
WHERE TO GO NEXT
CHARTER YOUR OWN SUPERYACHT!
SINGAPORE SG$7.90 ● HONG KONG HK$43 THAILAND THB175 ● INDONESIA IDR50,000 MALAYSIA MYR17 ● VIETNAM VND85,000 MACAU MOP44 ● PHILIPPINES PHP240 BURMA MMK35 ● CAMBODIA KHR22,000 BRUNEI BND7.90 ● LAOS LAK52,000
Tra ve l a n d L e i s u re A s i a . c o m
Privilege knows no boundaries.
Carried by the Elite, the world over.
By invitation only. For expression of interest, please call Singapore: + (65) 6295 6293
volume 05 : issue 02
features 86 Go North Away from Bali’s crowded south, the other side of the island offers stunning volcanoes, lush rice terraces, black-sand beaches and a cast of colorful local characters. by lara day photographed by christopher wise. guide and map 95 96 25 Most Romantic Hotels A whitewashed former fisherman’s cottage by the sea. A gilded palace on a grand Parisian boulevard. A remote wilderness camp with a king-size bed under the stars. Whatever your vision for an idyllic vacation à deux, we’ve found the places to fill the bill. These global discoveries are where we’re longing to check in next. edited by irene edwards. photographed by john huba. styled by mimi lombardo
Kayaking in Cambodia.
4 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
116 The Spirit of Dublin Wandering the narrow streets and crowded pubs, meeting artists, novelists, cooks and assorted raconteurs, gini alhadeff finds that even in trying economic times, Dublin is thriving. photographed by cedric angeles. guide and map 123
j o h n m c d e r m ot t
106 out in the real world Off in a far-flung corner of Cambodia in the Cardamom Mountains, naomi lindt encounters a blank spot on her travel map—and ends up on an unforgettable trip. photographed by john mcdermott. guide and map 115
february 2011 volume 05 : issue 02 T+L SOUTHEAST ASIA WORLD’S 25 MOST ROMANTIC HOTELS / BALI / YACHTING / MONGOLIA / CAMBODIA / SMARTPHONE STRATEGIES
EXPLORING CAMBODIA’S COASTLINE
HOTELS in the world
SAVE MONEY WHEN ROAMING
23 WAYS TO DO DUBLIN FLY ME!
EVOLUTION OF THE AIR HOSTESS
GUIDE TO 42ND STREET
WHERE TO GO NEXT
F E B R UA RY 2 011
CHARTER YOUR OWN SUPERYACHT!
SINGAPORE SG$7.90 ● HONG KONG HK$43 THAILAND THB175 ● INDONESIA IDR50,000 MALAYSIA MYR17 ● VIETNAM VND85,000 MACAU MOP44 ● PHILIPPINES PHP240 BURMA MMK35 ● CAMBODIA KHR22,000 BRUNEI BND7.90 ● LAOS LAK52,000
02Feb CoverML.indd 1
Tra ve l a n d L e i s u re A s i a . c o m
On the cover
Photographed by Tom Hoops. Styled by Mag Vatcharapon. Model: Sarah B. Hair and make-up by Kittiya Anjimakorn. Chinese silk dress by Asava. At Shanghai Mansion, Bangkok, Thailand.
For those on the go who need to stay in touch, top smartphones for travel, your roaming checklist, essential apps and more.
Hands-on Asian gastro-tours, Manila’s sleekest cocktail spot, art lights up Kowloon’s former walled city, three Bangkok must-tries and more.
insider 39 check-in Globe-trotting style icon Diane von Furstenberg puts her mark on London’s Claridges Hotel. by shane mitchell 40 Asian Scene As Phnom Penh becomes ever more cosmopolitan, gourmet cafes are taking off across town, serving up top-notch cuppas and decadent treats. by naomi lindt 44 guru On a round-the-world trip for Lonely Planet, the Web’s most popular female video blogger dishes up her take on travel, YouTube, and yes, wearing pants. by lara day
6 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
to p : c o u r t e s y o f o m n i m a r i n e . i l l u s t r at e d b y c h r i s t i n e m a r i e l a r s e n
february 2011 volume 05 : issue 02
48 Expert Master chef Jereme Leung scoured Taiwan for his latest project at the new W Taipei. Here, he tells T+L his favorite food spots. by lara day 55 cruising In Southeast Asia, whether it’s sailing for a day off the coast or motoring across the region in a superyacht, a private charter puts you in control—and that’s exactly the point. by steve mollman 63 Spas What better way to bond with your loved one than sharing a pampering massage treatment? We pick some of the region’s most couple-friendly spa escapes. by chami jotisalikorn
stylish traveler 67 Icon The classic David Yurman cable bracelet puts a modern spin on an ancient motif. by s. s. fair. styled by mimi lombardo 8 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
68 Travel Uniform Hotelier, TV star and fashion designer Ivanka Trump shares her secrets for jet-set glamour. by jim shi
journal 69 Hotels Philippe Starck, perennial enfant terrible of the modern design scene, takes on the classic Royal Monceau Hotel in Paris. by charles gandee 74 Adventure In Mongolia’s vast Gobi Desert, jeremy tredinnick meets the remains of visitors who roamed the region 60 million years before. 79 Reflections What’s become of those charming, capable, legendarily alluring flying companions once known as stewardesses? aimee lee ball looks at the changing definition of in-flight service. 84 cityscape From the United Nations building right across to the Hudson River, 42nd Street is both New York’s central, cross town artery and its pulsating heart. by andrew mccarthy
departments 10 In This Issue 12 Editor’s Note 16 Contributors 18 Mail 20 Best Deals 24 Ask T+L 124 My Favorite Place
f r o m to p l e f t: p h i l i p p e g a r c i a / l a s o c i É t É a n o n y m e ; j e r e m y t r e d i n n i c k ; C h a r l e s M ast e r s
46 ROOM REPORT In a building that dates back to 1881, Hullett House aims to blend the best of two worlds in Hong Kong. by christopher kucway
in this issue
Dublin 116 Mongolia 78
Hong Kong 20, 34, 46, 63 Koh Kong, Cambodia 106 Bali 20, 63, 86
Southeast Asia Bali 20, 63, 86 Bangkok 36 Dalat 20 Hong Kong 20, 34, 46, 63 Indonesia 55 Ipoh 20 Isan, Thailand 36 Koh Kong, Cambodia 106 Malaysia 55 Manila 32 Penang 98 Phnom Penh 46 Phuket 20, 55, 63 Pranburi 20 Koh Samui 20 Singapore 20, 55 Asia Guilin 20 Hangzhou 63
India 55 Jaipur 98 Maldives 63, 96 Mongolia 74 Taiwan 48 Tibet 20 Tokyo 20 Yakushima, Japan 96 Yunnan 36 Australia and New Zealand Australia 96 Europe Dublin 116 France 34 London 34, 39, 124 Paris 69 The Americas New York City 82
Active + Adventure
55, 78, 106
Arts + Culture
Beaches + Islands
Food + Drink
34, 40, 48
Hotels + Resorts
39, 40, 69, 96
27, 30, 44
Known mainly for its agriculture, the islandâ€™s north is also home to a brewery and a winery. The British-owned Storm Brewing (stormbrewing.net) makes smooth light- to medium-strength ales, while the vineyards of Hatten Wines (hattenwines.com) produce light, highly drinkable reds, whites and rosĂŠs. Look out for both labels on menus across the island. (See page 86 for more on north Bali.)
10 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
c h r i sto p h e r w i s e ( 3 )
editor’s note where to find me )) firstname.lastname@example.org )) matt leppard tlsea on Facebook
PICKS OF THE MONTH Some of my personal spa favorites. Malaysia The Spa & Med Beauty at The Club at The Saujana Recently given a few fresh touches, this spa boasts a truly serene location. Jln. Lapangan Terbang SAAS, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan; shr.my/thespa-and-med-beauty.
aware that our February issue is always at least partly devoted to matters of the heart and soul. Well, first, we deal with matters of the soul by revealing our selection of top spa treatments in the region, but with a twist: these are couples’ spa treatments (you see, it’s all connected). If you’d asked me some years ago what I thought about such things, my reply would have been simple: nothing. Other than a few painfully twisty, bruisy traditional Thai massages, my spa experience was nil. Then, as I moved into travel journalism, spas naturally came onto my radar, although I used to regard them as hi-so clubs for pampered misses and grand-dames. Then I had a treatment at a notable Singapore hotel following a late night out and found myself recuperating, drifting and dreaming. I don’t want to sound like a zealot, but I’ve since become a big spa fan. So I hope you enjoy my personal selections on this page, and our listings of our region’s best couples’
spa treatments (“Just for Two,” page 63). That’s a handy segue into another focus of this issue: romance. Our list of the world’s dreamiest hotels (“25 Most Romantic Hotels,” page 96) takes in picture-perfect properties like Cosworth Park in Ascot in the U.K. and the Shangri-La Paris. At the other end of the spectrum, we travel down New York’s 42nd Street (“Main Street U.S.A.,” page 82), a fascinating walk through one of the main arteries in Manhattan; one that throbs with the pulse of the city. Romantic? Make your own minds up, but it’s certainly an enchanting place-name, immortalized in the song “42nd Street,” which neatly captures the spirit of the place: full of hope and optimism. Speaking of positive sentiments, we also take a saunter around the relatively unknown north of Bali (“Go North,” page 86). As those in the know will tell you, Bali is where romance can bloom and blossom, which makes it a fitting place in which to end this note.— m at t l e p pa r d
Singapore The Sentosa Resort & Spa Indulge in mud packs, waterfalls and a foot-stimulating stone maze before your treatment. 2 Bukit Manis Rd., Sentosa; thesentosa.com. Bali Nusa Dua Beach Hotel & Spa This award-winning spa was completely refurbished and reopened late last year. A rejuvenating must-visit. Kawasan Pariwisata Nusa Dua, Lot North 4, Nusa Dua; nusaduahotel.com. One to watch... St. Regis Bangkok Scheduled to open in April, this hotel will bring the brand’s signature Remède spa to the city. 159 Rajadamri Rd., Bangkok; stregis. com/bangkok.
travel + leisure 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.
12 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
tom ho ops
As a devoted Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia fan, and one who devours every issue before filing it for future nibbling, you, dear reader, will be
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Assignment Edited “25 Most Romantic Hotels” (page 96). Favorite hotel in the package Sankara Hotel & Spa. I want to go to Japan so badly I can almost taste it. Most romantic city San Francisco, for its light. I still get chills when I hear that Tony Bennett song. What’s more romantic: a cozy ski lodge or a secluded beach? Better than either: a garret-size apartment in Paris, with a pot of something delicious bubbling on the stove. Favorite romantic travel memory Sitting on the edge of a cliff in Oregon, watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, sharing a slice of pie and seeing a pod of whales breach offshore. Next trip Harbour Island, Bahamas—probably my last one as a footloose, fancy-free nonparent: our first child is due in March.
john huba photographer
gini alhadeff contributing editor Assignment Wrote “The Spirit of Dublin” (page 116). Dublin in 14 words Stories, storytellers and people who have all the time in the world for both. Best time to visit October. First trip there I was 13. My father covered one eye, my mother the other. Most underrated Irish souvenir A hotwater bottle covered in white Aran knit from the St. Patrick’s Cathedral shop. Most oVerrated Irish souvenir Anything to do with pubs. Favorite places in Dublin The Cake Café, Marsh’s Library, the Winding Stair and St. Stephen’s Green. Just traveled All over India, following a trail toward a new book.
Assignment Shot “25 Most Romantic Hotels.” City of love Paris, for sure. My wife and I chose to elope there, renting the whole American Church and bringing only my best man and his girlfriend. Must-have equipment The Hipstamatic iPhone app. Makes picture-taking fun again, even if you’re a professional. Best photo museum Jeu de Paume, in Paris. It’s a must-see. Next trip Hawaii, to shoot the guys who surf with their dogs. Dream assignment Heli-snowboarding in Alaska (let me know—it would make a great T+L cover!).
TOP ROW , FROM LEFT : JESSICA SAMPLE ; BRIGITTE LACOMBE ; G e n e v i e v e H u b a . BOTTOM ROW , FROM LEFT : JESS i c A SAMPLE ; CEDRIC ANGELES ; JOHN HUBA
irene edwards special projects editor
mail Letter of the month
Gotta say I loved your iPhone-induced advice on Madrid [“The Digital Guide,” January]. I think we spend too much time with our eyes glued to guidebooks when we travel, so maybe this is just the next logical step. At least your story was a funny take on the subject. Myself, I prefer to look where I’m going, call it a “personal app,” rather than focus on my phone or a book or a digital camera, for that matter. I still get lost, but my trips are much more interesting that way. —lorne spence, singapore
landmark of luxury A fusion of luxury and nature…
Hosted in the unspoiled environment of a lush rainforest river valley, traditional Balinese villages and verdant rice ﬁelds, Maya Ubud is a tranquil haven of tropical gardens, private pool villas and luxury accommodations. With the award-winning Spa at Maya, two dramatic inﬁnity-edged swimming pools, great dining choices and a host of activities - both on-site and in the surrounding countryside - Maya Ubud offers the ultimate alternative to the beach culture. Naturally.
Jl. Gunung Sari, Peliatan Ubud - Bali ph +62 361 977 888 fx +62 361 977 555 firstname.lastname@example.org mayaubud.com
A new sling
I am an avid fan of your magazine, never has Southeast Asia looked more attractive. That being said, I have only just recently moved back to Singapore after living in New York for six years and would like to share my new favorite bar with you. BarStories [57A Haji Lane; 65/6298-0838] is nestled in an area traditionally known for its Middle Eastern influence, indie music and quirky shops. To get there, look out for a bright turquoise sofa at 57A Haji Lane, then enter the building through a narrow white door. Walk up a flight of stairs and you’ll be greeted by the friendly bartenders. Sit either at the bar or at any of the one-of-akind chairs. At the end of the room is a sliding door that leads to a garden where it’s not hard to feel at home. I hope you find this new address compelling enough to check out during your next visit. —elizabeth chen, singapore
What a cliché-riddled story on Singapore [“Singapore on the Move,” January]! The old tale of turning the East Coast Parkway into a runway —has your writer never been to the city? At least he had the foresight to include some decent eating experiences, though to compare historic buildings in Singapore with those in Hanoi or Phnom Penh is nothing short of silly. —karen quoc, hong kong Hollywood ending
Add your look at the Chateau Marmont [“My Favorite Place,” January] to the long list of tales that haunt one of L.A.’s more famous hotels. Imagine Sofia Coppola speaking to her idol Helmut Newton at the hotel just hours before he died in a car accident there. Sounds like something that only could happen in a movie. —nick spencer, kuala lumpur
e-mail t+l Send your letters to email@example.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.
budget-friendly tips for your travel planning
AFFORDABLE ASIAN TRIPS
deal of the month s n a p
The Capitol Hotel Tokyu, Japan.
Hotel of Modern Art, China.
CHINA Only The Two of Us package at the Hotel of Modern Art (86-773/386-9066; guilinhoma.com) in Guilin. What’s Included
A two-night stay in a Deluxe room; roundtrip airport transfers; daily breakfast and afternoon tea; a traditional Chinese massage for two; a one-hour art class for two; a hotel sculpture park tour; Internet access; and butler service. Cost From RMB6,080 (RM3,040 per night), double, through March 31. Savings 20 percent.
INDONESIA Exotic Retreat package at Kayumanis ubud (62-361/770-777; kayumanis. com) in Bali. What’s Included A two-night
stay in a private Pool villa; daily breakfast; round-trip airport transfers; a two-hour spa treatment; a private dinner; a 30-minute back and shoulder massage; limo service within Ubud; and 24-hour butler service. Cost From US$1,050 (US$525 per night), double, through March 31. Savings 30 percent. THAILAND Stay Longer – Fourth Night Free package at Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui (66-77/243-000; fourseasons.com/ kohsamui). What’s Included A stay in a One-
Bedroom villa; and a free fourth night for every three consecutive paid nights. Cost From Bt24,500 per night, double, four20 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
Four Seasons Resort Koh Samui, Thailand.
night minimum, through July 15, blackout dates apply. SAvings 25 percent.
CHINA Festive Offer at the Mandarin Oriental, Sanya (86-898/8820-9999; mandarinoriental.com/sanya). What’s Included A two-night stay in an Ocean
Front Pavilion with plunge pool, with an extra room of the same type; welcome drinks; daily breakfast; and one privategarden barbecue. Cost From RMB9,990 (RMB2,498 per room per night), fouradult and two-child maximum, through February 28. Savings Up to 35 percent.
PHILIPPINES Special Offer at The Picasso Boutique Serviced Residences (63-2/8284774; picassomakati.com) in Manila. What’s Included A one-night stay in a Studio
TIBET Magical Lhasa, Luxurious Moments package at The St. Regis Lhasa Resort (86-891/680-8888; stregis.com/lhasa). What’s Included A three-night stay in a Grand Deluxe room; round-trip airport or rail-station transfers; daily breakfast; a personal yoga or meditation class; a Tibetan cooking class; and one dinner for two at Si Zi Kang restaurant. Cost From RMB4,500 (RMB1,500 per night), double, through March 31. Savings 51 percent.
room; daily breakfast; Wi-Fi access; and gym use. Cost From P6,300 per night, through June 30. Savings 37 percent. JAPAN Stay 2 Nights Get 3rd Night Free package at The Capitol Hotel Tokyu (813/3503-0109; preferredhotels.com). What’s Included A stay in a Deluxe King room;
Internet access; and a free third night for every two-night stay. Cost From ¥32,000 per night, double, three-night minimum, through March 31. Savings 62 percent.
The St. Regis Lhasa Resort, Tibet.
c l o c kw i s e f r o m t o p l e f t : c o u r t e s y o f p r e f e r r e d h o t e l s ; c o u r t e s y o f H o t e l o f M o d e r n A r t ; c o u r t e s y o f F o u r S e a s o n s R e s o r t s ; c o u r t e s y o f S t . R e g i s Lh a s a R e s o r t
recipes for romance
best couples’ deal s n a p
The Banjaran Hotsprings Resort, Malaysia.
Villa Maroc Resort, Thailand.
just the two of us
THAILAND Moroccan Dream Getaway package at Villa Maroc Resort (66-32/630-
771; villamarocresort.com) in Pranburi. What’s Included A two-night stay in a Pool Court room or Pool villa; daily in-room breakfast; a candle-lit dinner with wine; a 45-minute Cleansing Hammam couples’ treatment; 30 percent off spa treatments; Wi-Fi; and mini-bar soft drinks. Cost From Bt20,000 (Bt10,000 per night), double, through March 31. Savings Up to 39 percent. VIETNAM Valentine Getaway package at Ana Mandara Villas Dalat Resort & Spa (84-
63/3555-888; anamandara-resort.com). What’s Included A two-night stay in a Villa room; round-trip airport transfers; daily breakfast; a picnic lunch at Tuyen Lam Lake; one romantic dinner; a massage for two at La Cochinchine Spa; 10 percent off dining and spa treatments; access to heated swimming pool and gym; and a gift at departure. Cost US$398 per room per night, double, through February 28, blackout dates apply. Savings 53 percent.
HONEYMOONS TO REMEMBER
INDONESIA Honeymoon Bliss package at Ayana Resort & Spa (62-361/702-222; ayanaresort.com) in Bali. What’s Included
A stay in a one-bedroom Ocean Front or Ocean View villa; round-trip airport transfers; daily breakfast; one 50-minute Balinese massage for two; one romantic 22 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
Ayana Resort & Spa, Indonesia.
dinner in a private garden or gazebo; onetime access to the Aquatonic Pool; and unlimited use of the tennis pavilion and 18-hole putting course. Cost From US$668 per night, double, four-night minimum, through December 22. Savings 22 percent. MALAYSIA Luxurious Honeymoon package at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat (60-5/210-7777; thebanjaran.com) in Ipoh. What’s Included A two-night stay in a Garden or Water villa; a fruit basket; a bottle of organic wine; spa cuisine menus including two breakfasts, one lunch, one dinner and one candlelight dinner; a Hawa (women) and Adam (men) spa and facial treatment for two; and use of all facilities. Cost From RM4,888 (RM2,444 per night), double, two-night minimum, ongoing. Savings 35 percent. HONG KONG Leading Honeymoon Package at Hullett House (hulletthouse.com; 852/3988-0000). What’s Included A twonight stay in a Corner suite; daily breakfast for two in-suite or at The Parlour; round-trip airport transfers by limousine; a floral bouquet and a bottle of Veuve Clicquot; afternoon tea for two at The Parlour; a Hullett House heritage guided tour; a 45-minute cocktail cruise around Hong Kong harbor on the Aqua Luna junk; and 24-hour butler service. Cost From HK$6,888 per night, double, two-night minimum, through December 31. Savings 43 percent.
Romance package at Goodwood Park Hotel (65/6730-1811; goodwoodparkhotel.com) in Singapore. What’s Included A stay in a Junior suite; daily buffet breakfast for two at the Coffee Lounge; a S$50 daily dining credit at L’Espresso or Gordon Grill; chocolate fondue for two at L’Espresso from 6 p.m.; 20 percent off spa treatments at J’s Salon; and late check-out until 3 p.m. Cost From S$350 per night, double, through February 28. Savings 60 percent.
Goodwood Park Hotel, Singapore.
c lo c kw i s e f r o m to p l e f t: co u rt e sy o f T h e B a n ja r a n H ots p r i n g s R e s o rt; co u rt e sy o f V i l l a M a r o c R e s o rt; c o u r t e s y o f A ya n a R e s o r t & S p a ; c o u r t e s y o f G o o d w o o d P a r k H o t e l
Can you suggest a decent walking tour of Singapore?
—satoko kenji, tokyo
A company called The Original Singapore Walks (65/6325-1631; journeys.com.sg) meets daily at a different MRT stop for walks that run the gamut from the purely historical to tours of vibrant ethnic neighborhoods and insider food-and-drink spots. A two-and-a-half-hour tour of Chinatown is typical: visit Thien Hock Kheng, the oldest Hokkien temple in Singapore; go to restored shop houses and learn their history; and explore a colorful local wet market. Tours start from S$30 for adults and S$15 for children.
Thien Hock Kheng, Singapore.
Q: I’m looking to go on an environmentally friendly journey in Indonesia. Any suggestions? —mary bilger, singapore a: That’s a sweeping question, depending
upon where in Indonesia you’d like to visit. Ecolodges Indonesia (ecolodgesindonesia. com; 62-361/747-4204) has far-flung and 24 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
Last-minute air tickets.
nature-friendly stays in Bali, Borneo, Flores and Sumatra, each destination offering an entirely different experience. In Flores, you can come face to face with Komodo dragons; in Borneo, it’s a more laid-back experience with orangutans. The common thread is that each trip is a chance to learn about wildlife in their natural environment. The company donates a portion of its profits to environmental protection programs. Q: Is it worth waiting until the last minute to buy a plane ticket? —fred stevens, kuala lumpur a: Around Asia, a number of major airlines
have started offering last-minute deals on their websites, so it’s a matter of continually checking online for deals. Thai Airways International (thaiair.com), for one, has expanded its Super Deals section to include vastly discounted individual seats available in the days immediately following your search. Recently, that’s included a Bangkok to Hong Kong economy seat for a paltry Bt1,990 and a Bangkok to Madrid ticket for Bt10,900. The downside is that these are one-way fares on specific flights, so you’ll have to be flexible with your travel plans. In the Madrid case, Thai also had a return flight available for €249, which would mean a total cost of Bt20,778 before taxes and surcharges. It’s also worth checking airlines on routes that don’t include flying through their hub. Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific.com), for example, recently listed return flights between Bangkok and Singapore for Bt5,300, which, once taxes and surcharges were included, totaled Bt7,765. The plus side of these flights were that there was a good selection of seats available on multiple days. what’s your travel question?
» E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org » Post queries at Facebook.com/TravelandLeisureAsia » Follow us on Twitter at @TravLeisureAsia
(Questions may be edited for clarity and space.)
c l o c k w i s e FROM t o p LEFT : c o u r t e s y o f e c o l o d g e s i n d o n e s i a . c o m ; © L a s s e K r i s t e n s e n | D r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; © T u p u n g ato | D r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; © S t e v e A l l e n | D r e a m s t i m e . c o m
Orangutan experience at Ecolodges Indonesia.
Strategies travel smarter
Top smartphones for travel, your roaming checklist, essential apps and more t+l tip
go local Skip the whole roaming issue entirely by buying a local prepaid SIM card. You’ll pay local rates and—best of all— incoming calls are often free. Look out for dtac’s happy (happy.co.th), in Thailand; StarHub’s GREEN (starhub.com), in Singapore; and Telkomsel’s SimPATI (telkomsel. com), in Indonesia, which even has data services.
Illustrated by Christine Marie Larsen
Today’s typical smartphone is loaded with apps, those handy mobile programs that can act as guidebook, map, dictionary, laptop and travel agent—sometimes all in one. They’re lifesavers when used at home; overseas, it’s another story. Apps use loads of data, which costs about US$20 per megabyte if you’re roaming without an international plan. Add to that SMS reminders, push notifications and location-based services— all of which draw on data—and you can see why even the most experienced of travelers have come home to shockingly high phone bills. In the U.S., the FCC is proposing measures to protect cell phone customers. But in Asia, if you’re going to use your smartphone abroad (let’s face it: we’re addicted) do it wisely. — t om s a m i l ja n
travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 27
strategies smartphone roaming t+l tip
internet phone calls
how it works
cost of calls
Skype mobile (skype.com)
The best-known Internet phone service is now available as an app. In most Asian countries, with the exception of China and Japan, calls can be made over either 3G or Wi-Fi on iOS, Android and Symbian phones; however, using this app over 3G can be quite costly while roaming.
Skype-to-Skype calls are free; outside numbers run from 2 U.S. cents to about 23 U.S. cents a minute to most Asian landlines and mobile phones. You can also sign up for unlimited calls anywhere in the world (even while you’re abroad) for as little as US$13.99 per month.
Vonage Mobile for Facebook (vonage mobile.com)
Sign in to this free app using Facebook Connect, and you can call or IM any friends who have their numbers listed in their profiles and who have the app themselves. Note: the app doesn’t have to be open to receive calls.
Free if you use it over Wi-Fi while abroad.
Tango automatically locates friends who also have the free app; just click on a name to place a voice or video call. The app doesn’t need to be open for you to receive calls (except on older Android phones).
Free if you use it over Wi-Fi while abroad.
five essential travel apps
Power up! Since all those apps run down batteries in less than a day, be sure to pack a portable battery. We like the new Mophie Juice Pack Plus for iPhone 4 (US$99.95; mophie.com) and the Duracell Instant charger (US$29.99; duracell.com).
Need to find a restaurant or check a flight status on the go, but worry about racking up a bill? T+L tested our favorite apps to see how much data they use
Kayak Mobile/ Kayak HD
why we love it
why we love it
why we love it
why we love it
The easiest and most comprehensive of all the free navigation apps, it locates your exact position and gives you turn-by-turn directions to almost any address in the world.
why we love it
A one-stop shop for flight, hotel and car reservations, it also holds itineraries, performs currency conversions and contains Gate Guru–supplied airport info and airline reservation numbers. SAMPLE DATA USE
Can check itineraries and access airline info offline; uses 200GB to browse hotel listings; 164GB to check flight status.
SAMPLE DATA USE
91KB to check your location; 270KB to get directions, though you can download the map you need while in a hot spot and just stick to that, if necessary.
28 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
Offers text translations for more than 50 languages and text-to-voice pronunciations for 16 of them. SAMPLE DATA USE
Audio and text translation of “Waiter, there’s a fly in my gazpacho!” into German used up 36KB; “excuse me,” into Spanish with no audio accompaniment, 5KB.
This GPS-enabled app with user-generated reviews of local retailers is handy for travelers in the U.S., where it can help locate everything from restaurants to drugstores. Other destinations (available for iPhone users) include Austria, Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. SAMPLE DATA USE
748KB to search for nearby restaurants, check out a review and get directions.
Mobile-friendly access to news feeds, messages, live chats and profile updates. You can also upload photos and check in to locations using Places. SAMPLE DATA USE
Took a full 76KB just to press the “Like” button; 229KB to upload the news feed and leave a comment; 193KB to upload a photo with a caption.
c o u n t e r c l o c k w i s e f r o m t o p l e f t : c o u r t e s y o f s k y p e ; c o u r t e s y o f v o n a g e ; c o u r t e s y o f ta n g o ; c o u r t e s y o f k aya k ; c o u r t e s y o f g o o g l e ; c o u r t e s y o f i t r a n s l at e ; c o u r t e s y o f y e l p ; c o u r t e s y o f fa c e b o o k
the most affordable way to stay in touch abroad is through voice-over-internet services. Below, three internet-calling apps—just be sure to use them in a Wi-Fi hot spot or you’ll face hefty data-usage charges.
your roaming checklist
planning to use your smart phone on the road? Here’s what you’ll need to do—before, during and after your trip
BEFORE YOU GO
● Know how much data you’ll need. The easiest way to track your
usage is by resetting the phone’s meter, usually found in the Settings menu, and checking back to see how much you use during the next few days and weeks. Once you’re on the road, continue to monitor your usage through the meter or apps such as DataMan for iPhone or the Androidcompatible NetCounter and Stats Free. ● Sign up for an international plan. Most service providers charge
● Set your e-mail to manual to
avoid automatically downloading bandwidth-hogging attachments. Switch your settings to manual (or simply turn off the “Auto-Check” setting).
WHILE you’re THERE
● Download over Wi-Fi. Try to check e-mail and download news, music, videos, and apps only while in a hot spot. The same goes for uploading images to Facebook or Flickr. And don’t even think of streaming YouTube videos while roaming. ● Stay in airplane mode unless you need to make or receive a call. Otherwise, you’ll be charged anytime someone calls you or leaves a voice mail.
users who don’t have roaming packages significantly more for international calls and data usage, so make sure you enroll. If you’re a customer with Hong Kong’s Three, for instance, the International Data Roaming plan currently offers ● use the Internet as your unlimited data roaming in 23 countries phone. An app like Skype mobile can worldwide at very reasonable prices, save you over a dollar a minute on starting from HK$68 daily. phone calls. See “Internet Phone Calls” on the next page for more. ● Scope out hot spots so you can surf the Web, get e-mails and use apps ● Call customer service if you (for free!) via Wi-Fi whenever possible. accidentally use up your entire They’re becoming easier to find around roaming allowance. There’s no the region, particularly in cities such guarantee of clemency, but it might be as Taipei, Singapore and Hanoi. If possible to expand your monthly limit you’re stuck, JiWire (jiwire.com) has a for a reduced fee or even, if you’re directory of free and paid hot spots lucky, free of charge. around the world. ● Shut off data roaming. If you AFTER YOU GET HOME need to access the network outside of a ● Keep your roaming package Wi-Fi hot spot, you can always on through the end of the billing temporarily activate your roaming. cycle. Your plan may be prorated and able to be canceled at any time but if ● Turn off all push you’ve used up your monthly data notifications via the Settings allowance during your week’s vacation, menu. Depending on how many apps you have, these automated text updates then you’ll have to keep the package on for a full month or face overage can drain your data allowance in a charges for anything over 5MB. matter of hours.
websites, apps, tech gear, e-advice and more
T+L Picks: resources for the road
With more than 50,000 short-term rental listings in 170 countries, the new AirBnB App (free; iPhone) lets you search and book at affordable rates. A recent deal: US$200 per night for a two-room apartment near Singapore’s Marina Bay.
tour the (virtual) World Although virtual tourism has been around in various guises for almost a decade, new technology has made it easier and more fulfilling than ever to roam Machu Picchu or the street by a hotel without ever leaving your desk. Google Earth and Bing Maps zoom in on a satellite view of any address in the world while overlaying it with traffic patterns, weather and historical satellite photos. Google Earth even offers 3-D tours of ancient Rome and the moon. Google Street View lets users virtually stroll through composite street-level images of (mostly) cities around the world, from Hong Kong’s Canton Road to Amsterdam’s Red Light district—without the risk of pickpockets. (Street View has even
inspired a pair of homage sites, 9eyes. tumblr.com and googlesightseeing. com, that collect intriguing images caught by its cameras.) But virtual tourism consists of more than just tricked-out maps. The user-generated cyberworld of Second Life now offers 3-D renditions of Kowloon and Pompeii, among other places. Recently launched vizerra. com has built downloadable 3-D versions of 20 unesco World Heritage sites, including Angkor Wat and Mount Vernon, while the Assassin’s Creed 2 video game painstakingly recreates 15th-century Rome. The best part, according to Marcello Simonetta, the game’s historical consultant: “No tourists.” —to m sa m iljan
Wh o h e I s British travel junkie turned entrepreneur Tom Marchant met his first business partner while both were university students scrimping for future trips, and his second around a campfire in the Australian outback. In 2005, the trio launched Black Tomato (blacktomato.co.uk), an online travel agency specializing in unique and highly personalized experiences.
30 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
Innovator Tom Marchant
The GPS-enabled buUuk App (free; iPhone and Android; buuuk.com) guides you to recommended restaurants, cafés and bars as well as the latest dining deals in Asia and the Middle East, all near your location. Integrated with Facebook and Twitter, the app also lets you upload photos and reviews in real time.
Seriously sturdy and highly portable (1.36 kilograms), the new Panasonic Toughbook S9 laptop (panasonic.com; US$2,160) delivers topnotch computing with a shock-resistant hard drive and spill-proof keypad, smartly encased in a magnesium-alloy shell.
His B i g I d e a This year marks the debut of the more editorially driven Beach Tomato (beachtomato.com), a website devoted to life by the sea. Filled with fashion trends, travel recommendations, opinion pieces, and lists of the best bars and music, the site will provide a curated look at beach culture from some of the Web’s best travel planners.
Illustrated by Leif Parsons
FROM TOP : COURTESY OF AIRBNB ; COURTESY OF V IRTUALGDBK . COM ; COURTESY OF b u u u k . c o m ; COURTESY OF p a n a s o n i c ; C o u r t e s y o f B l a c k T o m a t o
Trend of the Month
T+L contributor Valerie Stivers-Isakova’s new virtualgdbk.com presents online travel resources—blogs, news stories, local listings—for Bangkok, Paris, New York and seven other cities.
newsflash your global guide to what’s happening right now...
Manila’s Salon de Ning. Below from left: The Shanghai Room; the Zeppelin Room, inspired by airships.
Manila’s Art Deco Appeal The Philippine capital’s most anticipated bar-lounge is both playful and chic
courtesy of the peninsula manila (3)
Madame Ning, a fictional 1930’s Shanghai socialite, has inspired a string of swanky club–lounges for The Peninsula Hotels, from Hong Kong to Paris. Now, the Salon de Ning (The Peninsula Manila, Ayala Ave. corner of Makati Ave., Makati; 63-2/8872888; drinks and snacks for two P1,200) is turning heads in Manila, delivering its sister lounges’ trademark Art Deco ambience to the capital’s party set. Eclectically outfitted with curios and objets d’art, the 165-square-meter space boasts a central dance floor and stage—live bands and DJ’s perform nightly—while four opulent semi-private rooms offer plenty of character. Le Boxing Room, an homage to 1937 World Heavyweight Champion Joe Louis, naturally invokes Manny Pacquiao. The Shoe Room, purportedly Ning’s footwear-filled boudoir, channels a certain former First Lady. The other two rooms, dedicated to Zeppelin airships and 1930’s Shanghai respectively, are equal parts quirky and glamorous. Wherever you sit, don’t miss the top-notch cocktails: try the lip-tingling Latin Passion, with light rum, passion fruit, vanilla syrup and chili.—l a r a d ay
32 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
signature style From left: A 1948 diamond, gold and platinum brooch; a platinum brooch with rubies and diamonds from circa 1937; and a 1935 lacquered gold and diamond box—all by Van Cleef & Arpels.
on our radar
all that glitters
In 1896, Alfred Van Cleef, son of a stonecutter, and Estelle Arpels, daughter of a precious-stones dealer, merged their family businesses, creating a French jewelry house that continues to endure. Now, New York City’s Cooper-Hewitt Museum is celebrating the couple’s 115th anniversary with “Set in Style: The Jewelry of Van Cleef & Arpels” (cooperhewitt.org; through June 5), showcasing more than 300 pieces from the archives. One highlight: a circa-1970 ivory pendant with turquoise and gold hieroglyphic details inspired by the excavation of King Tut’s tomb.— l i z wa l l a c e Dali, in Yunnan province, left. Right: Isan food in Thailand.
Asia’s Culinary Heartlands
Paging serious foodies. Culinary-travel experts The Globetrotting Gourmet (globetrottinggourmet.com) have lined up two in-depth, flavorrich journeys in Asia. • Up this month is Rice to Rapeseed (Feb. 20– Mar. 1; US$3,995 per person), in Yunnan, China, timed to make the most of Luositian’s gold-hued rapeseed-blossom season. Highlights include the province’s best guoqiao mixian, or “crossing the bridge” rice noodles, in Mengi, and a visit to Cheng Zi, an 800-year-old adobe-brick village. • Come June, Isan Explorer (Jun. 2–12; US$2,995 per person) delves into Thailand’s lesser-known northeastern province and includes stops such as Khon Kaen and Nakhon Phanom. Expect an Isan food-and-wine masterclass, tours of the region’s delicacies—som tam (green-papaya salad); laab (spicy meat salad); tom sap Isan (mushroom-and-pork-rib soup)—and trips to border-town markets.—l i a n g x i n y i 34 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
spotlight on bangkok
2 Book It
The new St. Regis Bangkok (159 Rajadamri Rd.; 66-2/207-7777; stregis.com; doubles from Bt8,690), with teakwood floors, Thai silk furnishings, and the city’s best views. Our favorite space: the sleek, gray-on-white room 2102 on the 21st floor.
3 Buy It
Cult local designer Matina Sukhahuta’s Taj Mahal–inspired enamel and gold-plated silver cocktail ring at Matina Amanita Mansion (Gaysorn mall, 999 Ploenchit Rd.; 66-2/656-1319; matinaamanita.com; rings from Bt3,050), which specializes in chic baubles.— j e n n i f e r c h e n
V AN CLEEF & ARPELS , FROM LEFT : TONY FALCONE ; PATRICK GRIES / V AN CLEEF & ARPELS ( 2 ) . BANGKOK , FROM TOP : COURTESY OF WTF GALLERY ( 2 ) ; COURTESY OF THE ST . REGIS BANGKOK ; COURTESY OF MATINA AMANITA . a s i a ' s c u l i a r y h e a r t l a n d s , C o u r t e s y o f t h e G l o b e t r o t t i n g g o u r m e t ( 2 )
1 See It
Up-and-coming video installation artist Sutthirat Supaparinya’s politically inspired solo show at WTF Café & Gallery (7 Sukhumvit Soi 51; 66-2/6626246; wtfbangkok.com; through March 9), a new bohemian-style bar and gallery.
GET AWAY TO IT ALL
Time for the two of you to leave the everyday stresses behind and head for somewhere that will bring a little romance back into your lives. Somewhere far away from it all, yet which provides everything you desire. Somewhere like a luxurious villa or suite on a small island in the Indian Ocean, with white sand and blue sea, and all the time in the world to be together. Somewhere with a sumptuous spa where the two of you can relax in a private suite, somewhere with wonderful restaurants and a fun nightlife. We know just the place.
Please contact us at: T +66 (0) 2101 1234 Ext. 1 E email@example.com www.centarahotelsresorts.com
the royal treatment Just 32 kilometers southwest of Paris, a stately country estate is reborn
Before there was William and Kate or even Charles and Di, there was the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, who were the media sensation of their day. Now, 73 years after their scandalous marriage, the couple’s private estate, Le Moulin de la Tuilerie (Impasse de la Tuilerie, Gif-sur-Yvette, France; landmarktrust.org.uk; doubles from €403, three-night minimum) has opened its doors for rent. Run by the British Landmark Trust, the 18th-century former mill is set on lush grounds and includes two stone cottages used by the Windsors’ close friends—Maria Callas, Marlene Dietrich and Elizabeth Taylor, to name a few. Cobblestoned paths and meandering streams wind through the original gardens. Inside, you’ll find English-country furniture (antique beds; rush-seated oak chairs) and fireplaces that make it the perfect place to curl up with a classic from the library. For dinner, don’t miss the nearby Michelin-starred La Table des Blot (1 Grande Rue, Dampierre-enYvelines; 33-1/30-47-56-56; dinner for two €132); or you can always whip up your own feast back at the estate. —e l e n a b o w e s
The Duke and Duchess of Windsor at their retreat Le Moulin, outside Paris, in 1967.
Dishing up London London chef Fergus Henderson—who revived “nose-to-tail” cooking at his St. John restaurant—just debuted the 15-room St. John Hotel (1 Leicester St., London; stjohnhotel london.com; doubles from £202). We asked for his top local haunts across the city.
•Cock Tavern This den at
Smithfield Market opens at 6 a.m. to feed a ravenous crowd of butchers and night traders. E. Poultry Ave.; breakfast for two £12.
•Golden Heart Run by
Sandra Esqulant since 1979, the Shoreditch tavern has an affectionate house terrier and a loyal clientele. “Sandra is a force of nature,” Henderson says. “She’ll drop some port into your pint of Guinness—that really sorts you out.” 110 Commercial St.; drinks for two £6. •The Hope This spot is a workaday hole-in-the-wall. Despite or perhaps maybe because of that, Henderson loves the place. “They have a very good hot sausage with English mustard.” 94 Cowcross St.; lunch for two £22. —peter jon lindberg
PUB GRUB A true traditional English breakfast.
36 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
hong kong’s Plant Power This month, the 39th Hong Kong Arts Festival goes outdoors with Power Plant, a large-scale art installation set to transform Kowloon Walled City Park into a nocturnal playground of light and sound: think old gramophones, chirping insects and surreal, dream-like projections. The fiveartist collaboration, led by U.K. video-and-sound artist Mark Anderson, has drawn crowds at Oxford Bonatical Gardens and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The site of Kowloon’s notorious former fort turned Triad-run citadel, now a placid Qing dynasty–styled park, is its debut location in Asia. Tung Tao Tsuen Rd., Kowloon, closest MTR station Lok Fu; hk.artsfestival.org; Feb. 18–Mar. 13; admission HK$20. T+L Tip Also drop by the Asia Top Gallery Hotel Art Fair (hotelartfair.kr; admission HK$100) to view works by artworld stars—Damien Hirst; Yayoi Kusama—in the rooms of the Mandarin Oriental Hong Kong (mandarinoriental.com).
LE MOULIN , FROM LEFT : C o u r t e s y o f l a n d m a r k t r u s t ; a f p . a r t , c o u r t e s y o f p o w e r p l a n t . H ENDERSON , FROM TO P : LAURIE FLETC H ER ; © R a ph o t o g r a ph y / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m
destinations trends restaurants + more
globe-trotting style ICON diane von furstenberg puts her mark on London’s Claridge’s hotel “I never stay anywhere for longer than three days,”
claims von Furstenberg, whose peripatetic lifestyle was the inspiration for a collection of 20 new rooms that she created for Claridge’s. The hotel is a frequent stop for the designer, when she’s not off to such exotic locales as Vanuatu and Abu Dhabi. Her life on the road is reflected in the boldly patterned Piano Suite, from its tan zebrastriped rug and ebony campaign furniture to an oak bed draped like a bedouin tent in pale cream silk. Signed prints of her Voyages photograph series hang in the living room. And what does this fashionable nomad order from room service? “Cucumber sandwiches served on Balinese trays, of course.” Claridge’s, Brook St., London; 44-20/71078862; claridges.co.uk; D iane von Furstenberg rooms from £650. —shane mitchell Diane von Furstenberg in her Piano Suite at Claridge’s.
Photographed by Andreas Bleckmann
travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 39
insider Asian Scene
Clockwise from left: Cafés Symphonies; Bloom’s cupcakes; a green-tea latte Brown; Sugar ’n’ Spice serves up coffee for a cause.
PHNOM PENH’S CAFÉ CULTURE. As Cambodia’s capital becomes
more cosmopolitan, stylish coffee houses are taking off across town. Here, five spots to while away the hours. By Naomi Lindt ■ JAVA CAFÉ & GALLERY
It’s been 10 years since American Dana Langlois opened Phnom Penh’s first proper coffee house along Sihanouk Boulevard, now a local institution known for its stellar caffeine and sugar kicks (the cookies, cheesecakes and
brownies are all made on-site) and healthy savories. The split-level café and exhibition space has rattan chairs, art books and wooden floors in the original upstairs area, and a sleeker, modern look in the new street-level digs; both attract long-time expats,
travelers and creative Cambodians. Food and art don’t disappoint, from the fresh salads and sandwiches to the cutting-edge exhibitions that have launched countless local careers. 56 Sihanouk Blvd.; 855-23/987-420; javaarts. org; coffee and cake for two US$12. ■ GLORIA JEAN’S
While it may lack hipster cachet, you can’t talk about coffee culture in Phnom Penh without mentioning last April’s opening of a branch of Australian chain Gloria Jean’s Coffees. The arrival didn’t just bring quality joe to Phnom Penh, but it also marked a change of another kind: the capital is becoming serious enough to attract major international brands. A popular gathering spot for business people and Cambodia’s new middle-class, the coffee house in the expat area known as BKK is a tasteful respite, with woven linen armchairs, leather couches and oversize floor lamps. In addition to signature drinks—coffee mochas; chilled mango frappés—there’s a refreshing selection of locally made products, like chocolate-dipped » 40 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
Photographed by James Grant
A Celebration of Asiaâ€™s Finest At The Fullerton Hotel Singapore and The Fullerton Bay Hotel Singapore. Unique masterpieces combining the best of the past and present. Experience utmost luxury and the finest hospitality at The Fullerton Hotel and The Fullerton Bay Hotel. Centrally located in the Central Business District and the vibrant Arts and Cultural precinct, both hotels provide spectacular views of the city and Marina Bay waterfront. Built in 1928, the luxurious Fullerton Hotel has been the preferred choice amongst meeting and conference organisers because of its strategic location and elegance. Steeped in the heritage of Singaporeâ€™s illustrious seafaring history, the stylish Fullerton Bay Hotel is newly built on water. An intimate ambience and stunning interiors will appeal to discerning guests.
1 Fullerton Square Singapore 049178 www.fullertonhotel.com
80 Collyer Quay Singapore 049326 www.fullertonbayhotel.com
insider Asian Scene espresso beans by the famed Chocolate Shop, and cookies and fruit chips by NGO Devi House. 16 St. 51; 855-23/221761; gloriajeans.com.kh; coffee and dessert for two US$10.
MORE COFFEE STOPS
■ BROWN COFFEE & BAKERY
Designed by young Cambodian architect Hok Kang, Brown scores as many points for its muted interior— heavy wooden tables; slate-tiled floors—as it does for its artful drinks. Top-flight baristas deliver expertly pulled espresso shots and fanciful creations: think chai or green-tea lattes adorned with flowers, leaves, hearts and even bears in the froth. The café’s lunch fare is no less inventive—grilled chicken sandwiches with pineapple, ginger and cashew; lentil and feta salad—while the baked goods keep it traditional, with fresh croissants and muffins made on the premises. Brown has proven so popular with Phnom Penh’s hip young things that a second location just opened on buzzy Street 51. 17 St. 214 and corner of St. 51 and 302; 855-23/217-262; the browncoffee.com; coffee and lunch for two US$12.
Cappuccinos and art are paired at Java Café & Gallery, a local institution. Below: The daily grind at Gloria Jean’s.
■ BLOOM CAFÉ
Satisfying multiple cravings at once, Bloom Café not only makes deliciously addictive baked goods, but it also doubles as a nonprofit that helps trafficked and at-risk Cambodian women. Even the macchiatos and black viennas (an americano topped with whipped cream) have heart— they’re brewed from organic fair-trade beans. Australian owner Ruth Larwill has dressed the place in warm brown, baby blue and cherry red, creating a chic, cheerful spot equally suited to kids’ parties and caffeine-and-sugarfueled girly gab sessions. Each sweet treat is truly a work of art, with tiny handmade flowers and birds topping miniature cupcakes piled high with frosting; don’t miss to-die-for flavors such as Red Velvet, iced with scarlethued vanilla and cream cheese. 40 St. 42 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
222; 855-77/757-500; bloomcreations.org; coffee and cupcakes for two US$12. ■ SUGAR ’N’ SPICE
There’s more good eating and drinking for a cause thanks to Daughters of Cambodia, an NGO that supports young trafficked women. Their eightmonth-old center, around the corner from the National Museum, has a clothing-and-handbag boutique, a petite spa and a cozy café called Sugar ’n’ Spice, decked out with dark bamboo floors and wooden tables laid out with hand-dyed chocolateand-vanilla-tinted runners; walls are
To take home some of Cambodia’s finest beans, head to Cafés Symphonies, a French-run store that sources its seven blends from the wild Ratanakiri Province in the northeast. Sit down at one of the simple tables in the fragrant space to watch the roasting process—and sample the results. 81 Sisowath Quay; 855-92/834-173; symphoniescambodia.com; coffee for two US$5. • The futuristic-looking Blue Pumpkin— with its perfectly brewed coffee and delicious housemade baked goods and ice cream—has long been a Siem Reap icon; early this year, Phnom Penhites finally welcome a capital city location. 245 Sisowath Quay; 855-63/963-574; tbpumpkin.com; coffee and snacks for two US$10.
covered in paintings created during art-therapy classes. Come here for the cinnamon or choco cappuccinos and lattes, or try the Khmer variety, a rich blend of strong coffee and condensed milk served over ice in a Collins glass. The house-made fudge brownies topped with ice cream are legendary; if you’re here for lunch, tuck into French-meets-Asian fare such as grilled-chicken-and-mango baguettes in coriander dressing, and roasted pumpkin, spinach and feta quiche. 65 St. 178; 855-77/657-678; daughtersofcambodia.org; coffee and brownies for two US$10. ✚
insider guru Singapore Maldives
AROUND THE WORLD with natalie tran. on the road with
Lonely Planet, the web’s most popular female video blogger dishes up her take on travel, YouTube and, yes, wearing pants. By Lara Day
ON TEAMING UP WITH LONELY PLANET
“I’d heard if you’re out of the country for a few years, your university debt is erased. I wanted to do a Jason Bourne, but I calmed down and settled for an around-the-world trip to tide me over. I e-mailed Lonely Planet, who had contacted me earlier about a project, and next thing I knew, I was on a plane about two months later!”
bad with taking photos or videos on trips so all that’s left are memories (not that there’s a problem with that). Still, it’s nice at the end of the day to actually have some kind of documentation of the trip and share it with people.” ON CHOOSING WHERE TO GO
“Basically, I picked a country from as many regions as I could (admittedly trying to avoid the cold). Egypt was most definitely on the top of the bucket list because I had studied history in school and at university. When I got there and saw my first glimpse of actual artifacts I laughed like a madman I was so excited. That’s how you know you’re a loser.” ON PREPARING FOR THE TRIP
“The most preparation went into vaccinations and visas. Vaccinations ended up being about 15 shots in total, which meant my handwriting when applying for visas the next few weeks was woeful, so I’m surprised the visas were all approved without any suspicion that I might be a serial killer. It made me slightly nervous that the woman behind the glass was taking my passport, offering me no receipt and was taking my cash. I guess when she’s the bridge troll, you do as she says.” ON PACKING light
ON VIDEO-BLOGGING WITH PANTS
“It’s pretty traumatizing video-blogging outside. For one thing, you need to wear pants. Aside from that, it’s been a really fun way of documenting my travels. Ironically, I’m usually quite 44 February 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
“Packing for this trip was a nightmare. Everybody kept saying “Pack light!” but it’s hard to do that when you’re traveling to places where it’s snowing and places where it’s almost 40 degrees Celsius. In the end I panicked and packed everything.”
C o u r t e s y o f L o n e ly p l a n e t ; © M i c h a e l A w / L o n e ly P l a n e t I m a g e s ; © R i c h a r d I ’ A n s o n / L o n e ly P l a n e t I m a g e s
f you haven’t heard of Natalie Tran, you’re probably not watching enough YouTube. Not only does the 23-year-old Australian count more than 170,000 followers on her Community Channel blog—its most popular video, “How to Fake a Six Pack,” has scored more than 34 million hits—but according to Business Insider, she earned more than US$100,000 from banner-ad revenue last year, making her one of the world’s Top 10 YouTube TubeMoguls. All this from making funny videos in her bedroom as a university student. The lesson: it pays to have too much time on your hands. Now, Tran has graduated and teamed up with Lonely Planet for a four-month odyssey around the globe, videoblogging from locations as diverse as Singapore and Jordan. Here, she tells T+L the in’s and out’s of her trip.
Opposite, far left: Globe-trotting video blogger Natalie Tran.
© C h r i s t i a n A s l u n d / L o n e ly P l a n e t i m a g e s ; © D a v i d E l s e / L o n e ly P l a n e t I m a g e s ; © B r i a n C r u i c k s h a n k / L o n e ly P l a n e t i m a g e s ; © N e i l S e t c h f i e l d / L o n e ly P l a n e t I m a g e s
ON her VIETNAMese roots
“I consider myself Australian with Vietnamese heritage and am very proud to be both. I’ve been to Vietnam only twice but hope to do my third trip very soon. Each trip has been about a month and I go with my family each time. The first time we went we did a trip from one end to the other and my parents showed me where they grew up, different places they had lived and made sure I got to know about the country they grew up in. It was incredibly humbling and emotional to see and hear about everything they had experienced.” BEST THING ABOUT TRAVEL
“The coolest thing about travel is the people you meet. It’s my own fault I don’t, but I wish I spoke every language there was. The worst thing is not being able to communicate with everyone, although it is great to know that the thumbs-up system is an internationally understood thing.” NEXT UP
“I’d love to do Europe in the summer. I avoided a lot of Europe [for this trip] because the cold intimidates me, but Greece, Spain, Italy, Hungary and Austria are all places I need to visit. Music is also a huge passion of mine so there are concert halls in Europe I need to cross off my list before I die.” best TRAVEL SURVIVAL TIP
“Look both ways before you cross the road.” ✚
NATALIE TRAN’S TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS SINGAPORE SLICK “I was blown away by how organized Singapore was and how efficient everything seemed to be. Oh, and the food, the food! My next trip to Singapore has already been mentally booked for next year. I can’t wait to spend more time there.” WEIRDEST FOOD SIGHTING “There are these guys in France who sell heaven knows what on hot plates in stolen shopping trolleys. I hope that sentence portrays it well.” BIGGEST SURPRISE “All I really knew of Jordan prior to visiting was Petra, but the first day there, I went to Wadi Rum and fell in love straight away. I thought nothing could top the temples of Egypt, but the rich history of Jordan quickly became a competitor.”
For more on Tran’s travels, go to lonelyplanet.com/blog/natalietran/. travelandleisureasia.com | February 2011 45
insider ROOM REPORT
COLONIAL GRANDEUR. The Overview
From top: The Tsing Lung suite; in the bathroom of the all-white Silvermine suite; inside the D’Aguilar suite.
Owned and run by the design-centric Aqua Restaurant Group, Hullett House is a 10-suite refurbished marine police headquarters built in 1881. Following a six-year, HK$1 billion restoration completed in 2010, the property eschews Hong Kong’s eternal quest for the ultra-new, and instead foregrounds its heritage and character: think white colonial stucco and wooden-plank flooring, and touches of Chinese design, both retro and modern, thrown in for good measure. 2A Canton Rd., Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon; 852/3988-0000; suites from HK$5,040. The Area
At the corner of Canton Road and Salisbury Road, the hotel’s location, just walking distance to the Star Ferry, is unlike any other. The place is 46 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
surrounded by high-end retail—indeed, it’s the centerpiece of 1881 Heritage— yet rooms and public areas are set back far enough from the rabble so that noise isn’t really a concern. The closest recognizable accommodation is either ultra-posh, The Peninsula, or at the other end of the price scale, the modest digs at the YMCA. The Design
Aqua group CEO David Yeo took on the hotel’s design, whose most striking feature is space: reflecting the heritage nature of the address, and the lack of today’s constraints on size, Hullett House suites range between 74 and 102 square meters. In the Tsing Lung Suite, where we stayed, a large canopy bed dominates the room, sparsely furnished with just two nightstands, a desk, a coffee table and two Chinese
c h r i s t o p h e r k u c w ay ( 2 ) ; b e l o w : c o u r t e s y o f H u l l e t t H o u s e
in a building that dates back to 1881, Hullett House aims to blend the best of two worlds. By Christopher kucway
grandfather chairs. Yellow, green and crimson latticework occupy the lower quarter of the wall, with scenes of rural China from a century past rising up to the high ceiling. Out on the spacious balcony, reached through double doors. There’s a sofa and two chairs to sink into, making this is an excellent spot to watch the city rush by. The Service
Well-meaning and overly attentive staff can’t explain why, when we request a cup of tea from room service, the knock on our door results in a kettle for boiling water, without a tea leaf in sight. Thankfully, the situation is quickly rectified. The Rooms
c h r i s t o p h e r k u c w ay ; b e l o w : c o u r t e s y o f H u l l e t t H o u s e
Unlike most hotels, Hullett House delivers on its promise to offer 10 distinct guest rooms, with mixed results. If you’re into glitzy floor-toceiling mirrors, choose the D’Aguilar suite. The all-white Silvermine suite, a corner room with two private balconies, is a particular favorite of honeymooners. Not all is retro: take the playful, irreverent minimalism of the Casam suite—think portraits of Mao blowing bubble gum and a ceramic white pig doing a face plant into the floor.
From top: The Silvermine suite; surrounded by modern buildings, Hullett House gives a taste of a different era.
The bathroom has twin sinks, a low bathtub and a glassed-in rain shower, but otherwise is quite ordinary, with seemingly little thought given to the fixtures and adornments. There’s a distinct lack of small touches, even though the facilities are spacious. The Amenities
A television, DVD player, stereo system and iPod dock are hidden behind a mirrored wall—a good thing, too, since they would only take away from the period aspect of the room. There’s no shortage of wining and dining, with five restaurants and bars reflecting Hullett House’s history and location. ✚
culinary capital From left:
Chef Jereme Leung; a dish of red crabs at A-Sha, in Tainan.
ong Kong–born chef Jereme Leung is no stranger to China’s regional food traditions. Since launching his career at the age of 13, Leung, who now bases himself in Shanghai, has cooked and eaten his way across the country, channeling his culinary research into trailblazing projects such as the Whampoa Club restaurants in Shanghai and Beijing, the Shanghai Tang Café, and cookbooks such as New Shanghai Cuisine and New Beijing Cuisine, both of which offered bold interpretations of time-honored Chinese recipes. Recently, Leung traveled across Taiwan to research the menu for Yen (10 Zhongxiao E. Rd., Sec. 5; 886-2/77038888; wtaipei.com; dinner for two NT$2,500), the flagship Chinese restaurant at the new W Taipei. The result? Inventive takes on authentic flavors, from Tainan-style waigui rice cakes to caramelized Kurobuta pork, an haute rendition of Cantonese char siu, served with roasted pineapple. Below, where the chef found inspiration. ✚
tasting TAIWAN. master chef Jereme Leung hunted down the
country’S BEST flavors for the new W Taipei’s flagship restaurant. Here, he tells T+L his Taiwan foodie favorites. By Lara Day
UNDISCOVERED NIGHT MARKETS Go to Huaxi Street Night Market (near Longshan Temple MRT Station) for exotic dishes—snake soup; turtle stew—as well as the original branch of Tainan Tantsumien Seafood Restaurant (31 Huaxi St.; 886-2/23081123; dinner for two NT$3,000), famed for its gourmet
seafood and tasty Tainan-style danzai noodles. • Right by National Taiwan Normal University, Shida Night Market (Lane 39, Shida Rd.) is a buzzing student haunt. It’s smaller than its counterparts, but the ambience, market place and people you meet there are refreshing. STRAIGHT TO SOURCE For anyone interested in Taiwanese produce and dried goods, Dihua Street is the place to go; talking to the friendly vendors is a lesson in itself. It’s here that I had my first encounter with real aiyu, a kind of fig. Its seeds are the core ingredient of aiyu jelly, the beloved local dessert. • Wanhua District is home to three wholesale food markets, which give
a bird’s-eye view of Taiwan’s huge selection of fresh, local ingredients: freshly sucked baby oysters, beautifully grown young ginger and white bitter melons, every single cut of pork and beef—it’s all here. TOP FLAVOR Min Yang Khuan Chong Hong (176–5 Nanshan Rd., first floor; 886-2/29400271) produces excellent fermented white bean curd. A well-known Shanghai food critic recommended it to me while we were chatting about Taiwan’s best cuisine. The sesame oil used is of very good quality—it retains its flavors wonderfully— and the bean curd is very smooth, almost like full-flavored cheese. Blend it with
a little sugar, chili and coriander to make a delicious dip for slowbraised lamb clay pot during winter. ■ TAINAN TASTE OF HISTORY Founded by Madam Ah Xia, A-Sha restaurant (7 Lane 84, Zhongyi Rd., Sec. 2; 886-6/2256789; dinner for two NT$2,800), in a historic four-story building, has been a stalwart on Tainan’s food scene for more than 60 years. Try their hua tiao yu tang, or fish soup—the waitress will patiently show you how to debone the fish with your chopsticks, so you can eat it without using your fingers. Their specialty is the hong xun, or red crabs. The roe is heavenly, similar to Zhejiang’s hairy crabs in season.
Get the guide for more of our interview with Jereme Leung, go to travelandleisureasia.com/features
48 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
Streetside snacks ati Wanhua Night Market.
Tainan Tantsumieni Seafood Restaurant.
Dried aiyu figs, sold ati Dihua Street in Taipei.
co u rt esy o f J e r e m e L e u n g ( 5 )
■ TAIPEI COMFORT FOOD Ding Zhen Fang restaurant (1 Lane 219, Fuxing S. Rd., Sec. 1; 886-2/27812518; lunch for two NT$1,100) serves honest and authentic local fare in a friendly, home-style environment. Don’t miss the juan juan vermicelli rolls and the delicious niu rou mian pian, or handmade beef noodles.
Courtesy of The Butter Factory; Courtesy of Singapore Tourism
soul Top: Located at One Fullerton, The Butter Factory offers popular and alternative culture, along with party music to boogie down to spread across two loud rooms. Bottom: Stunning views from the Fullerton Bay Hotel.
Thereâ€™s never a dull moment in Singapore, where thereâ€™s world-class options to suit every taste, from art lovers to blockbuster musicals, state-of-the-art museums to thrilling theme park rides.
in Singapore and the surrounding region.” Another long-running show, marking the debut of Resorts World Sentosa, is Voyage de la Vie, a “theatrical rock circus spectacular.” The 90-minute thrill-packed circus theatre show follows the fantastical journey through the imagination of a young boy, and is sure to dazzle Singaporean audiences with its unique blend of excitement, thrills and whimsy. The brainchild of Ukranian Viktor Kee, one of the world’s most respected circus choreographers, Voyage de la Vie features Singapore Idol runnerup Jonathan Leong in the title role. ““It’s different because it’s something that hasn’t been done before,” says Kee. “It combines different elements in a very interesting way. You have the story, the circus, the music and vocals that blend, that are in sync completely.” The art world, in recent years, has sat up and taken notice of Singapore. With annual Singaporean events of critical and commercial renown now a fixture on the international art circuit, the city has made a true name for itself as an arts hub. The Singapore Arts Festival (13 May – 5 June 2011) is one of the longest-running events in the city, a month-long celebration of art in all its myriad forms. Started in 1977, this year’s theme is “I want to remember” and event organizer Low Kee Hong promises a visual, aural and sensory treat, and promises “a more intimate relationship with the people, audience and art makers alike.”
Clockwise from left: Courtesy of KU DÉ TA; Courtesy of Singapore Sun Festival; Courtesy of Butter Factory; Courtesy of Tanjong Beach Club
ingapore is a small city with big ideas. The city has energized itself in recent years to become a cultural and art hub for the region and beyond, and now the city’s local and international cultural credentials are second to none. These days Singapore hosts some of the region’s most spectacular arts and entertainment extravaganzas – from theatre to art festivals, film and a burgeoning nightlife, the city is more vibrant and bustling than ever. And it’s attracting some international events and productions of a scale never seen before in Asia. One of the world’s bestloved musicals, The Lion King will debut in Singapore in March 2011, an award-winning slice of Broadway in Asia. With the same stunning production values as the Broadway production and a new, internationally-auditioned cast, the stage version of Disney’s 1994 hit, the inaugural event at Marina Bay Sands’ theatre, will doubtless be one of the highlights of the coming year. Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions, said, “We are excited and honoured to be bringing The Lion King to Singapore. Along with our partners at Marina Bay Sands and BASE Entertainment, Disney Theatrical Productions is thrilled to become a part of the vibrant and growing theatre and arts scene
this page, Zoukout, dance music festival at Siloso Beach; Simba and Nala from the Lion King; entrance to the Singapore Art Museum.
Clockwise from left: Courtesy of Zouk Management; © Joan Marcus - Disney; Courtesy of Singapoore Art Museum
Opposite page from top left: sky view dining at KU DÉ TA; Jimmy ong at the Singapore sun festival; street art at Butter factory club; the exclusive Tanjong Beach Club.
Elsewhere, on the festival front, the ten-day Singapore Sun Festival (October – November 2011) is notable as Asia’s only edition of the California-based event, which has also proved to be a magnet for international arts. Highlights of the festival include art exhibitions, exclusive wine sessions, film screenings under the stars and concerts by the waterfront. Another tenday music festival held at the Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay is the annual Mosaic Music Festival (11-20 March 2011) which attracts a fascinatingly diverse range of musical genres – everything from indie-folk through post-rock to Afrobeat, R&B and hip-hop. In terms of contemporary visual arts, the Singapore Biennale (13 March – 15 May 2011), a multi-discipline event which attracts entries from around the globe, is another milestone on the city’s calendar. The 2011 edition will feature over 150 works by 63 artists from 30 countries, presented across numerous venues around the island. Meanwhile,
ARTSingapore (September 2011), Asia’s longest running contemporary art fair, is also gearing up for its 11th edition, scheduled for the end of September at Suntec Singapore. For a city of its size and relative youth, Singapore supports a wide array of fascinating museums, offering visitors a chance to learn more about the cultural, historical and social background of the Lion City. The latest addition to the roster is the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands opening 17 February 2011 – a state-of-the-art facility that will no doubt host countless touring exhibitions in the years to come. The building itself, shaped like a lotus, is an architectural and engineering marvel and the 60,000 sq. ft of gallery space will host “the relationship between art and science, media and technology, design and architecture.” The ArtScience Museum will be launched together with one of the most anticipated exhibitions – Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds, showcasing one of the
“We are excited and honoured to bring The Lion King to Singapore, and thrilled to become a part of the vibrant and growing theatre and arts scene in Singapore.” Thomas Schumacher, producer and president of Disney Theatrical Productions
& Robb Harrell (5)
Singapore trace their ancestry, visit the Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM), or explore The Peranakan Museum for a peek into the traditions and rituals of this unique hybrid culture. The Singapore Art Museum (SAM), located in the centre of Singapore’s major shopping district and Waterloo Street arts belt, houses one of the world’s largest collections of contemporary Southeast Asian art. As one of Asia’s hippest party destinations, Singapore has earned its reputation as a place to let loose – and there really is something for everyone. The city collectively looks forward to Grand Prix season, a new addition to the social calendar but one that the denizens of the Lion City have embraced with open arms. The 2010 edition saw some of the world’s top performers descend on the city, with concerts by Mariah Carey, Missy Elliott and Adam Lambert, along with festivals of colour and rhythm in special world music and performances, with Brazilian, African, Latin, Italian – and Singaporean – flavours. Not forgetting the exclusive parties such as Podium Lounge and Amber Lounge, race-themed events, exhibitions and a series of lifestyle experiences, leading up to the final race. The main event, of course, is the only night race on the F1 calendar – an exhilarating night of revving engines and spectacular driving skills. “Because the F1 Singapore is a night race, anybody with the slightest interest in the race has to stay
Clockwise from left: Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution,photography by John Tsantes
oldest and most significant marine archeological finds of the late 20th century. The exhibition will feature Tang Dynasty artefacts recovered after a millennium from a shipwrecked Arab dhow that lay on the floor of the Java Sea for over 1,000 years. The ship’s cargo will provide the focal point for a dramatic exhibition, showcasing the dynamic interchange of 9th Century old world powers along the maritime silk route from Changan (modern Xian) to Baghdad. The exhibition will also tell the human stories of those who toiled in China’s factory-like kilns, and of the ship’s crew, whose few surviving belongings offer rare clues about their multi-ethnic origins. Other highlights include the largest consignment of Tang Dynasty export goods ever discovered – including ingots, bronze mirrors, spices and some of the oldest ceramics made in China. Another mysterious highlight is a small cache of spectacular, intricately worked vessels of silver and gold, unparalleled in quality and design. Why they were aboard the ship and who was destined to receive them remain intriguing questions that the exhibition will explore. Of a slightly more mature vintage, the National Museum of Singapore was founded in 1849 and is a priceless repository of all things Singapore, featuring film archives and artefacts from the city’s colourful past. For an insight into the history of Asia and Southeast Asia, from which the diverse ethnic groups of
opposite, clockwise from left; Shipwrecked: Tang Treasures and Monsoon Winds - Green-splashed Ewer, square lobed dishes, Green-splashed ware stem cup; Octagonal cup and Changsha bowls.
Courtesy of Marina Bay Sands
Clockwise from left: Courtesy of Singapore Tourism (2); Courtesy of Resorts World Sentosa;
This page, clockwise from left: Voyage de La Vie at Resorts World Sentosa; Universal Studios singapore at Rws; The ArtScience Museum at the marina bay sands.
up late,” says Brian McNally, veteran columnist for Vanity Fair. But Singapore is a late city. There are all sorts of parties, various concerts and nightclubs.” The end of the year sees one of the biggest parties with the annual ZoukOut dance music festival at Siloso Beach, Sentosa Island, featuring some of dance music’s best performers and DJs. The 2010 event celebrated the 10th anniversary of the party by welcoming David Guetta and Tiësto, among many others, and previous headliners have included Richie Hawtin, Armin van Buuren and 2manydjs. Besides the city’s big party events, Singapore is home to some of Asia’s hottest nightspots, including St James Power Station – the city’s biggest dance music venue, housed in a striking spot – the renovated St James Power Station, built in 1927. Now featuring no less than ten different venues, each catering to a specific music genre, the Power Station is undoubtedly the place to come and dance the night away. Other fantastic venues dotted around the city include Tanjong Beach Club at Sentosa– modelled after a 1950’s beach resort and featuring two bars –and Butter Factory at One Fullerton. For those who are into rooftop bars, Ku Dé Ta is a name that has been building a lot of buzz (such as being voted one of the top ten global hotspots by the New York Times), and it can now add Singapore to its list of hip homes. Sitting majestically
atop the three Marina Bay Sands Hotel towers, the immense 14,500 sq ft venue also offers one of the most spectacular viewpoints in the city. By the end of the year, partygoers will be able to enjoy an unforgettable clubbing experience inside one of Marina Bay Sands’ crystal pavilions, housing two American mega clubs, Pangaea and Avalon. Floating in the middle of Marina Bay, the two clubs will play host to star studded parties, exclusive events and rock concerts. For those who prefer entertainment of a different kind, Universal Studios Singapore is an ideal family day out, bringing the silver screen to life with some fantastic moviebased rides and attractions. See Hollywood come to life or enjoy Broadway-style shows in a 1,500-seat indoor theatre. The waterfront of Resorts World Sentosa comes to life at night with the world’s largest animatronic show, involving a pair of huge dancing steel cranes. The Crane Dance, held nightly at 9pm, combines groundbreaking audio and visual technologies with astounding light and water effects. Produced and choreographed by four-time Emmy winner Jeremy Railton, the dazzling, free-admission show features two 30-metre cranes in a breathtaking dance of courtship, love and transformation. Best of all, the show is also visible from across the waterfront at Vivocity.
clockwise from top left: world’s largest animatronic show, the crane dance; 2010 Singtel Singapore Grand Prix; one Fullerton Bay.
From local treasures to big-ticket international spectacles, Singapore celebrates a full spectrum of arts, culture and entertainment offerings. Much like the city itself, the arts scene thrives on a collective energy – one that marvels at the new while keeping touch with its own unique heritage, with a healthy appetite for inspiration. An ideal place for creativity to flourish.
“Because the F1 Singapore is a night race, anybody with the slightest interest in the race has to stay up late. But Singapore is a late city. There are all sorts of parties, various concerts and nightclubs.” Brian McNally, Vanity Fair columnist
Essentials Asian Civilisations Museumn
Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956 www.marinabaysands.com
1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555, www.acm.org.sg
10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956, ww.kudeta.com.sg
St James Power Station
Tanjong Beach Club
Marina Bay Sands (as above)
3 Sentosa Gateway Singapore 098544 www.stjamespowerstation.com
120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Singapore 098942 www.tanjongbeachclub
St James Power Station
39 Armenian Street, Singapore 179941 www.peranakanmuseum.sg
3 Sentosa Gateway Singapore 098544 www.stjamespowerstation.com
Resorts World Sentosa, www.rwsentosa.com
Singapore Art Museum
Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum
71 Bras Basah Rd, Singapore 189555 www.singaporeartmuseum.sg
1 Fullerton Road, Singapore 049213 www.thebutterfactory.com
Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018956 www.marinabaysands.com
Universal Studios Singapore Resorts World Sentosa 8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098269 www.rwsentosa.com
Voyage de la Vie Resorts World Sentosa Festive Grand, Sentosa Island Singapore 098269 www.rwsentosa.com
National Museum of Singapore 93 Stamford Road, Singapore 178897 www.nationalmuseum.sg
Clockwise from top left: © Lionel Ng Photography; Courtesy of Singapore Tourism (2)
Ku Dé Ta
The Lion King
SET SAIL IN SOUTHEAST ASIA. whether it’s cruising for a day off the coast or motoring across the region in a superyacht, a private charter puts you in control—and that’s the point. By Steve Mollman
ot everyone can afford a yacht, and the hassles of ownership scare away some who can. But it’s getting easier to charter in the region, whether you’re ready to spend US$500 or—if your pockets go deeper than ours—US$500,000 (hint: team up with friends and split the cost). Among the factors in your favor: more yacht owners, disenchanted with overcrowding in the Caribbean and Mediterranean, are docking and renting out their vessels in Southeast Asia. What’s more, the region is blessed with some of the most—the most, many contend—stunning cruising areas in the world, from the turquoise seas and limestone karsts of the Andaman to the sand-fringed monsoon forests of Saleh Bay, in Indonesia. Keep in mind that the possibilities are nearly endless, with the craft, duration, destination and often even the broker—a single yacht can deal with many—all up to you. Read on for some luxury chartering possibilities, all with captain and crew included (and in some cases optional). »
courtesy of omni marine
Exploring Phang Nga Bay, off Phuket, on an Omni Marine yacht.
travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 55
insider cruising ■ SINGAPORE
marine chic From top: Ready to dine on the Andara; a stateroom on the boat; exploring the waters off Phuket.
The Lion City is the perfect place to stretch your sea legs. Not only is a yacht-filled marina never far away, but it doesn’t take long to reach destinations such as Malaysia’s Pulau Tioman or Indonesia’s Riau Islands, which offer pristine beaches and great diving. But what’s especially fun about chartering in Singapore is how quick and convenient it can be. For some boats, you can even buy slots via PayPal—take the 11.6-meter Jobel (ONE15 Luxury Yachting; 65/6274-0175; one15luxuryyachting.com; S$2,688 for a six-hour weekday slot, 10 guests maximum), docked at Sentosa Island’s ONE°15 Marina Club, just a quick cab ride from downtown. The fully air-conditioned motorboat has two cabins with double beds, and an entertainment system with a 19-inch LCD TV, DVD player and interior speakers that stream music to the outdoor deck. Dining is alfresco, and while you can bring your own food and wine sans corkage, you can also order upscale fare in advance—think sautéed Alaskan king crab with linguine and chili—from the marina’s Latitude Bistro. A typical jaunt heads first to the Southern Islands, where guests can swim, fish or explore on land, and then cruises past city-skyline highlights like the Singapore Flyer and Marina Bay Sands—the scene is especially beautiful at dusk, as the buildings light up and the sun fades away.
Just off Thailand’s west coast in the Andaman Sea, Phuket has a profusion of marinas and luxury villas matched by a dizzying array of chartering options. Where to begin? For starters, check out an overnight cruise on the Andara (6676/338-777; andarayachts.com; US$9,000 from 3 p.m. to 11 a.m.; eight guests maximum), a 28-meter Italian yacht you’ll find at the Yacht Haven Marina on the island’s north side. The four-cabin boat exudes style, from the spacious earth-toned main lounge to the chic open-air flybridge, with oversize wooden tables and wide cushioned recliners for sipping cocktails. The comfy seating extends to the front exterior, where about the only thing between you and water is the wind and a bit of sea spray. Heading out into Phang Nga Bay, one of the world’s most beautiful cruising areas, you’ll glide past giant limestone formations that rise from the calm waters like surreal, monumental artworks. But your main destination might be even better. Turning northwest, you’ll find the Similan Islands, with sugar-sand beaches, dazzlingly clear water and world-class diving sites. The underwater sightseeing takes in massive schools of colorful tropical fish and vast stretches of even more colorful soft coral—don’t miss Christmas Point, on Koh Bangru, where divers can swim through a series of dramatic archways. Non-divers can head to Koh Miang, home to the Similan Marine National Park office, for superb snorkeling just off the beach. » 56 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
c o u r t e s y o f a n d a r a ya c h t s ( 3 )
insider cruising ■ MALAYSIA
sea breeze From
top: On board the Jojo; the boat sets anchor; the Andaman Islands offer pristine diving and snorkeling.
The Langkawi Archipelago, a sprinkling of about a hundred islands in the Andaman Sea, has stunning bays and beaches as well as sublime luxury resorts, such as the waterfront Casa del Mar and the rainforest-nestled The Andaman, both on Langkawi island. Take it all in from the Jojo, a 25-meter motor yacht with alfresco dining and an upper deck offering 360-degree views. Indoors, the master cabin has a walk-in wardrobe and Jacuzzi, while the saloon includes a 42-inch TV complete with karaoke system. (Don’t worry about waking the neighbors—there are none.) Simpson Marine (60-4/966-8188; simpsonmarine.com; RM38,000 per night, eight guests maximum) offers overnight cruises on the charter, starting at Langkawi’s Telaga Harbour Marina. Graced with a jet ski, a dinghy, fishing equipment and snorkeling gear, you’ll make the most of the area’s stunning natural attractions: stop by the Kilim River to explore lush mangroves, emerald lagoons and feed eagles; splash around on Pulau Beras Basah, an undeveloped island with crystalline waters and secluded beaches; and discover the forest-covered Pulau Dayang Bunting, rich in wildlife and believed by locals to bestow fertility upon visitors—the hills behind a lake at its center take the shape of a pregnant woman lying on her back.
Looking at a map, you might guess the remote Andaman Islands belong to Burma or Thailand. Try India. Many people like to access them from Phuket, a trip of about two days by motor yacht, with some superb big-fish diving along the way. This being India, there is some bureaucratic hassle—though that’s for your broker to contend with, so relax. Just bear in mind that permits must be arranged well in advance, and you need to leave the way you entered the islands, so don’t plan on yachting there and then flying out. Cruising here is not for the inexperienced or, for that matter, the impecunious. But you don’t need a superyacht. Consider the 16-meter Riviera 47 (66-86/2830-209; omnitrips.com; Bt130,000 per day, four guests maximum), offered out of Phuket through broker Omni Marine. Ideal for two couples, the charter has two cozy staterooms and an intimate main lounge, where guests can snuggle up on the sofa or take meals at the curved dining table. Up on the flybridge, an airy outdoor deck gives unobstructed views and, once this powerful boat gets going, an exhilarating sense of speed and freedom. Yet the vessel also boasts an energy-efficient design, so engine noise is minimized. Fishing, diving and snorkeling gear are all on board, along with a smaller boat for accessing deserted shores— some local tribes remain almost untouched by the modern world. On the north coast of Havelock Island you can swim with an elephant. Barren Island has superb fishing and » 58 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
f r o m to p : co u rt e sy o f s i m p s o n m a r i n e ( 2 ) ; co u rt e sy o f o m n i m a r i n e
Spa Botanica @ The Sentosa Resort & Spa Tel +65 6275 0331 www.thesentosa.com
A Tropical Spa Like No Other
diving and is India’s only active volcano. Pods of dolphins are a frequent occurrence off Long Island. And in the capital city, Port Blair, on the east coast of South Andaman Island, don’t miss the prison where Indian freedom fighters were held during colonial times.
ocean adventures Above: The KLM Atasita, inspired by Indonesia’s pinisi schooners; the boat’s interior. Inset from top: The Ligaya; a sundeck on the Moecca; the superyacht’s master stateroom.
SUPERYACHT SPOTLIGHT Loaded with cash? Commute in a helicopter? Then consider these superyacht charters
• Explore the Andaman Islands from
Phuket on the spacious 38-meter Ligaya (Omni Marine; 66-86/2830209; omnitrips.com; €95,000 per week, 10 guests maximum, one-week minimum), which has five plush staterooms—including a master suite with king-size bed—satin-stained mahogany paneling, marble-floored en-suite bathrooms, a stylish wine rack and, naturally, a Jacuzzi. This month and next she’ll be based in the Maldives.
• The stately 45 meter Moecca (Simpson Marine; 65/6274-3359; simpsonmarine.com; US$195,000 per week, 12 guests maximum, one-week minimum) is actually a giant water-jetpropelled catamaran; nearly all the interiors are above water level, guaranteeing great views. Perks include spacious cabins, saloons and decks—think plush recliners for sipping cocktails and white-umbrella-shaded outdoor tables—a helideck (just in case), spa and massage treatments, gourmet cuisine, high-end scuba gear (including spear guns), two Yamaha Waverunners, kayaks, kneeboards, windsurfing gear and a swirly tub in the master bathroom, complete with waterproof head-cushion.
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Italian motor yachts with chic leather sofas? State-of-the-art marinas? While these have yet to arrive in Indonesia, the archipelago’s stunning cruising waters, especially east of Bali, and rich cultural diversity are within reach thanks to some unusual yet delightful charter options. Try the KLM Atasita, a 38-meter double-masted sailing schooner that provides top-notch comfort and style—and is built locally. The design inspiration comes from the pinisi schooners that powered the spice trade centuries ago and still ply the waters today. On board are five spacious airconditioned cabins with big picture windows, a bar with a Russian marine clock, diving equipment and a main deck that’s almost as big as a badminton court. The Atasita is chartered by Jakarta-based outfit SongLine Cruises (62-21/787-5021; songlinecruises.com; US$4,000 per day, 10 guests maximum), whose sister company SongLine Yachts built the yacht in 2007. Try a seven-night cruise starting from Serangan Island, accessible by road bridge off Bali’s southeast coast, and head to Komodo National Park, where you can disembark and wander amid the namesake lizards in their natural habitat. Stops along the way include the up-and-coming Gili Islands, with their blindingly white beaches, and excellent diving and snorkeling, and, at the mouth of Saleh Bay, off Sumbawa, the still-under-the-radar Moyo Island—the setting for the luxurious Amanwana resort—blessed with a monsoon forest and a three-tiered waterfall. ✚
co u rt e sy o f s o n g l i n e c r u i s e s ( 2 ) . i n s e t f r o m to p : Co u rt e sy o f Omni Marine; courtesy of simpson marine (2)
COMING SOON. THE CONRAD KOH SAMUI.
Imagine a place where you have option to enjoy your holiday on the best terms possible—your terms. Imagine a resort that lets relax and rejuvenate in the most luxurious way—your way. Imagine a team that senses every luxury you desire while still leaving the most important luxury up to you—the luxury of being yourself. Introducing the Conrad Koh Samui, the newest resort on the popular Thai island of Koh Samui, only an hour from Bangkok with direct flights available from other major Asian hubs. Scheduled to open in Q2 2011, the Conrad Koh Samui sets the standard for a new and sophisticated sense of hospitality that empowers you with a forgotten service: embracing individuality. Just as no two vacations are the same, no two resorts are the same. The Conrad Koh Samui is the only luxury resort in Koh Samui that faces due west to enjoy the astonishing golden sunsets of the Gulf of Thailand, creating the perfect moment in the most stylish of settings. Picture a haven of eighty private villas sprawling across 25-acres of dramatic hillside overlooking the azure waters of the Aow Thai beach. Enjoy unobstructed ocean views and 10-metre infinity pools wrapped in accommodations that are tailored to suit the needs of even the most discerning guest. Stay at the resort that features the most innovative cuisine and eclectic dining options on Koh Samui, which are guaranteed to excite the most serious gourmand. The Conrad Koh Samui offers choices ranging from casual and contemporary to formal and traditional. Tantalize the palate with Mediterranean-rim influenced cuisine cooked from exciting live action stations in our all-day casual restaurant. Or perhaps indulge in the mysterious setting of our cliff-side specialty restaurant, which features the finest ingredients, infused with Thai and pan-Asian flavours, and preparations that delight the senses. At Conrad Koh Samui, each dining experience is more memorable than the last; no matter how guests choose to take their meal. Situated in the corner of the resort high above a 300-degree panoramic view of the ocean, the Spa is a hideaway from the daily distractions of modern life and a den of tranquility equipped with a range of world-class holistic and contemporary treatments. Every detail and surface has been crafted with guest’s well-being and harmony in mind. Disengage and relax by spending the day receiving pampering treatments in dramatic rock settings; journeying through multiple spa experiences to rebalance and revitalize. Coming soon, the Conrad Koh Samui sets a new standard in Thailand.
Experience the greatest luxury of all...
THE LUXURY OF BEING YOURSELF For furter information please visit ConradHotels.com or contact firstname.lastname@example.org
insider spas sharing time
Clockwise from left: A floral foot bath at Kamandalu, in Bali; a room at Plateau Residential Spa, in Hong Kong; a consultation at Four Seasons Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru.
c l o c k w i s e f r o m t o p l e f t : c o u r t e s y o f k a m a n d a l u r e s o r t & s p a ; c o u r t e s y o f G RAND H YATT H ON G KON G ; c o u r t e s y o f f o u r s e a s o n s RESORTS m a l d i v e s
MALDIVES ■ Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
JUST FOR TWO. what better way
to bond with your partner than sharing a pampering massage treatment? here, we pick some of the region’s most romantic couples’ spa experiences. By Chami Jotisalikorn
It’s togetherness all year round at Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, with 10 spa-treatment villas designed for couples. But for extra-special pampering, look out for the resort’s five-day Living in Love Retreats, created to deepen a couple’s connection through private Ayurvedic consultations, daily spa-treatment programs, yoga and open heart meditation with crystal mala beads. Treatments include the Omkaara Ritual for Couples, performed by a pair of male and female therapists to stimulate the male and female energies. Baa Atoll, Maldives; 960/6600888; fourseasons.com/maldives; Omkaara Ritual US$750; five-day all-inclusive Living in Love Retreat from US$9,650 per couple, July 16–21 and October 24–29. ■ Four Seasons Island Spa at Kuda Haraa
The Island Spa at the Four Seasons Kuda Haraa offers Romantic Retreats in seven over-water couples’ spa pavilions, on a private island accessible by native wooden dhoni. Multiday pampering experiences are designed for two, and include daily massages—Royal Lulur Indonesian Bridal rituals, Balinese massages, couples’ aroma massages—facials, scrubs and flower baths. Best of all, partners learn basic massage techniques, so they can reap their retreat’s benefits back home. Male Atoll, » travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 63
Maldives; 960/6644-888; fourseasons.com/ maldives; three-day Romantic Retreat from US$1,020 per couple, through December 31. THAILAND ■ Paresa Phuket
wrapped in love
Clockwise from top left: A spa suite bath at Amanfayun; the cliff-side Paresa Phuket; at Four Seasons Landaa Giraavaru; sunset at Paresa Phuket’s spa.
Nestled on a cliff with bird’s-eye views of the sparkling Andaman Sea, Paresa’s one-of-a-kind Energy Pool boasts a 4-kilogram rose-quartz obelisk suspended in a black terrazzo pool. Used as a healing stone for centuries, the quartz softens negative energy, calms the mind and enhances harmony and balance in couples. After a Heavenly Bliss couple’s treatment—a herbal steam, body scrub, body wrap, aroma-oil massage, facial and milk bath—in the cliff-side spa, a soak in the Energy Pool infuses partners with feelings of tranquillity, intimacy and love. 49 Moo 6, Layi-nakalay Rd., Kamala, Phuket; paresaresorts.com; 66-76/302-000; couples’ packages from Bt11,000 per person, ongoing. CHINA ■ Aman Spa at Amanfayun Hangzhou
Located near Hangzhou’s picturesque West Lake, a poetic landscape of mirrored waters fringed with weeping willows, stone bridges and centuries-old Chinese pagodas, the Aman Spa at Amanfayun hosts a reception house, five treatment rooms and a Chinese bathhouse. In one of three private bath suites—complete with wooden soaking tubs, rain showers and steam rooms made for two—partners can enjoy the privacy and seclusion of their own bath suite with a Traditional Bath treatment of a herbal 64 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
steam and body scrub, followed by a Chinese spa treatment using heated bamboo rollers and warm oils to knead tense muscles. Personal training, Tai Chi, yoga and meditation classes are also offered. 22 Fayun Nong; 86-571/87329999; amanresorts.com; 60-minute oil massage from RMB880, ongoing. ■ The Plateau Residential Spa at Grand Hyatt Hong Kong
For those drawn to city glitter, The Plateau Residential Spa offers a quick escape from the SAR’s bustle. Couples can luxuriate with a 60-minute Plateau Spa massage, a combination of Shiatsu, Thai and Swedish techniques enhanced with essential oils, administered in the ultimate privacy of their own spa room. An overnight package includes breakfast, a light lunch, a couple’s massage and facial, and use of all fitness facilities. Grand Hyatt Hong Kong, 1 Harbour Rd., Hong Kong; 852/25847688; hyattpure.com; one-night spa package from HK$4,700 per couple, through March 31. INDONESIA ■ Kamandalu Resort & Spa
In Bali, Ubud’s emerald hills and sculpted rice terraces make for a perfect retreat, not least with Kamandalu’s Wrapped in Love package. A his-and-hers hot stone massage using heated rose quartz crystals helps open up the heart chakra, enhancing feelings of love and tranquillity while easing tense muscles. A passion-fruit scrub, vanilla-cream body wrap and honey-and-lime facial is capped with a flower-and-honey bath and passion-fruit elixir made with ingredients plucked from the lush environment. Jln. Andong, Banjar Nagi, Ubud, Bali; 62-361/975-825; kamandaluresort.com; US$205 per couple, through February 28. ✚
c lo c kw i s e f ro m to p l e f t: co u rt e sy o f a m a n r e s o rts ; co u rt e sy o f Pa r e sa p h u k e t; co u rt e sy o f fo u r s e a s o n s r e s o rtS m a l d i v e s ; co u rt e sy o f pa r e sa p h u k e t
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coming full circle
the classic david yurman cable bracelet puts a modern spin on an ancient motif. by s. s. fair. Styled by Mimi Lombardo
Sterling silver cable bracelet with onyx and pavé diamonds, by David Yurman.
Photographed by Charles Masters
During the Iron Age, twisted ropes of metal, or torques, were worn as status symbols throughout Europe. More than 2,000 years later, New York City jeweler David Yurman updated the ancient design— as a cabled silver cuff. “It’s actually a helix,” Yurman says. “The pattern is in our DNA, in nautilus shells, and you can see it swirling in the galaxies, too.” Formerly a sculptor, Yurman created his first trademark bracelet in 1983 with his wife and business partner, Sybil, a painter. The couple looked to the curves and textures of nature—from the rolling hills and sand dunes of Cape Cod to the undulating coastline of Big Sur—which they turned into a swirl that became the label’s signature look. Made mostly of sterling silver or gold, the bracelets are often open-ended, with Romanesque finials and semiprecious stones in infinite variations. The line has grown to include snail-like hoop earrings and pavé diamond pendants—all with that special Yurman twist. ✚
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hotelier, Apprentice star and fashion designer Ivanka Trump shares her secrets for jet-set glamour. Styled by Mimi Lombardo “When I was a child, my mother would never allow me to get on a plane in sweatpants or jeans,” says Ivanka Trump, daughter of largerthan-life entrepreneurs Ivana and Donald Trump. Those high standards now serve her well. Not only is she part of the inner circle that oversees Trump hotels from New York to Panama (slated to open this spring) but she is also an adviser on NBC reality show The Apprentice and the designer of her own lines of jewelry, shoes, bags and outerwear. And her travel wardrobe must always be ready to go straight from the airport to the boardroom. “I always take a versatile coat”—such as this Milano cotton Tory Burch trench—“since I often get cold on the plane.” Underneath: a wool Catherine Malandrino dress. “I love that it doesn’t wrinkle, just in case I can’t change before a meeting.” Her preferred footwear does not sacrifice style. Trump is likely to wear leather heels from her new shoe line. She’ll add a belt—such as this elasticleather style by Tory Burch— to polish her look, as well as jewelry that’s “fun but not over the top.” These gold bracelets are her own creations. As for the faux-leather tote: “I designed it to fit my carry-on essentials.” —j i m s h i
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what’s in her bag? Laptop Trump carries on her Sony Vaio. “I’m most productive on the plane.” Tablet “I am obsessed with my iPad! I use it to read news on the go, and the TV apps are great for killing time at the airport.” PDA “I like to answer as much e-mail as possible while away from the office. I never leave home without my BlackBerry Bold 9700 and charger— in case I need to plug in during an unexpected delay.” Toner “Evian Mineral Water Spray is great for refreshing after a flight.” LIP BALM “Flying dries out my lips. ChapStick makes a world of difference.” Sunglasses “My Oliver Peoples shades are perfect for hiding jet lag.”
Photographed at Trump Tower in New York by Matthew Hranek
travel topics in depth, vivid visuals and more
The reopened Royal Monceau, in the Eighth Arrondissement of Paris.
Philippe Starck, Perennial enfant terrible of modern design, takes on the very classic Royal Monceau Hotel. By Charles Gandee
Philippe Garcia/La Société Anonyme
teps from the Champs Élysées, between the Arc de Triomphe and Parc Monceau, Le Royal Monceau– Raffles Paris embodies a glamorous, artistic sensibility. Built in 1928, the unapologetically luxe hotel was closed for two years and reopened last October after a monumental transformation by Philippe Starck, the 61-yearold designer responsible for placing an acoustic guitar in every room, not to mention a private screening room just off the lobby that features 99 oversize leather chairs modeled after first-class airplane seats. Because Starck is Starck—that is, forever a bit perverse—98 of those seats are dove gray, while one, arbitrarily situated among the others, is lipstick red. »
Paris Flash travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 69
There are 85 rooms, 54 suites and 10 apartments in the new Royal Monceau, which is now a Raffles property. In terms of five-star hotels in Paris, Le Royal Monceau is a viable alternative to the Ritz, the Crillon, the Meurice or the Plaza Athénée. Though not quite as centrally located, the hotel has a keen sense of modernity, of the now. Which is not to suggest that Starck thumbed his nose at history. He did not. If there are projects in Starck’s portfolio that have a haven’t-I-seen-this-all-before? quality, at Le Royal Monceau the designer appears to have been fully committed to the endeavor; that is, he didn’t mechanically reach into his wellknown bag of visual tricks. Perhaps this is to the credit of client Alexandre Allard, the French businessman who took over the fading dowager in 2007, then summoned Starck, who rose brilliantly to the occasion. In fact, no detail was too small or inconsequential for the designer to rethink. For example, in lieu of terry-cloth slippers in the guest rooms’ walk-in closets, which are modeled after the private cabines in couture houses, Starck specified traditional French canvas espadrilles. And while he does use overscale mirrors, leaning them nonchalantly against the guest-room walls, something he has been doing since the 1995 revamp 70 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
of the Delano Hotel in Miami Beach, here they serve a purpose aside from introducing Brobdingnagian scale, and an opportunity for shameless narcissism: at the flip of a switch, they turn into televisions. “It is all about ‘inhabited’ rooms,” Starck says. “I tried to imagine the rooms of creative, cultured, elegant people. But most of all, I blurred the style.” What that means is that the hotel’s guest rooms, like its public spaces, do not have a relentless, wall-to-wall Philippe Starck character. Which is inevitably tedious, no matter who the designer may be. Even 1930’s French legend Jean-Michel Frank, surely the ne plus ultra design talent of the 20th century, collaborated with other artists and designers, from Jean Cocteau to Christian Bérard and Emilio Terry. Also refreshing is the fact that Starck did not use the hotel as an opportunity for product placement of his countless furniture and accessory lines for Kartell, Cassina, Alessi and others. Instead, the rooms are a welcome mix of furniture and lighting, carpets and fittings, an eclectic fusion of talent—including Murano glass lamps and classic Milanese designs from the 1970’s and white stone–topped oval tables with polished-metal pedestal bases that instantly recall Eero Saarinen’s 1956 Tulip collection.
R o b e rto F r a n k e n b e r g ( 2 )
Starck-designed espresso cups at the hotel café. Left: The long table at La Cuisine. Opposite from left: A staff member at the front desk; writing tables include a Paris map annotated by Starck.
R o b e rto F r a n k e n b e r g ( 2 )
The one area where Starck did not collaborate was in the bathrooms, which are extraordinary feats of precision. Imagine an operating theater in some paradigmatic Swiss hospital, and you begin to get the idea. White on white on white, with shimmering polished stainless-steel fittings and glazed doors—some translucent, some transparent—that open to the oversize shower, the WC and the capacious walk-in closet, the bathrooms feature blindingly radiant ceilings that take the form of a luminous grid. Mercifully, at least for those over the age of 25, the designer installed a rheostat to control the megawatt lighting. “I worked on two levels,” Starck says. “For the public spaces I went back to the deep French modernity before it was influenced by other cultures in terms of design; therefore, there are some influences of the 1930’s, but twisted in a modern and timeless way with materials such as mahogany and vegetable-tanned leather.” In the public spaces Starck laid down a custom-designed carpet with an intricate tree-branch motif and set out a mix of furniture pieces ranging from Arne Jacobsen’s 1958 Egg Chair, upholstered in cognac-colored leather, to a wildly polychromatic hand-beaded chair from Africa that looks like a small throne. Lower profile, but no less welcome,
are the streamlined sofas, ottomans and side tables where guests and visitors relax over drinks and light snacks in Le Grand Salon, the lobby area. There is also that perennial Starck favorite, a long communal table (for 16), adjacent to the bar at one end of the expansive, high-ceilinged salon, which is something Starck first introduced at Asia de Cuba, the restaurant by the entrance of the Andrée Putman– designed Morgans Hotel in Manhattan. Also off Le Grand Salon is a wood-paneled bookstore stocked with some 700 art publications. For La Cuisine, the hotel’s French restaurant, Starck invited a group of contemporary artists to hand-paint porcelain plates for which he designed tall vitrines that »
Although the French now take their no smoking laws seriously, Le Royal Monceau does have a CIGAR bar
travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 71
line one side of the generously scaled dining room. A glass wall faces a garden where, on one level, trees and shrubs supply a verdant visual respite and, on another, herbs for the restaurant grow in neat black troughs. To Starck’s credit, no tricky, three-legged chairs with awkward arms, no tooclever-by-half cutlery detracts from the work of executive chef Laurent André. Also contributing to the aesthetic success of the restaurant, where Starck personally selected the photographs and prints that adorn the walls and square columns, is artist Stéphane Calais, who, at Starck’s invitation, assumed responsibility for La Cuisine’s white ceiling, now a simultaneously subtle and sprightly mix of biomorphic and geometric shapes and colors that recalls the work of Alexander Calder, albeit in two dimensions and with a more sophisticated palette. There is a second, smaller, Italian restaurant, Il Carpaccio, which Starck designed as part grotto, part solarium—with seashells embedded in the walls, ceiling and chandelier. Although the French now take their no smoking laws as seriously as Jean-Paul Belmondo once took his Gauloises, Le Royal Monceau does have a cigar bar, La Fumée Rouge, that, as the name suggests, is lined in bordello-red leather panels. It is fronted in glass and looks out onto a glazed wall 72 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
of individual humidors that are remarkably reminiscent of safe-deposit boxes in a bank vault. Still in construction is the spa, “Le Spa My Blend by Clarins,” including a 26-meter subterranean pool, slated for completion early this year. Next door is the hotel’s exhibition gallery and, upstairs, the hotel’s apartments, which measure up to 380 square meters. Le Royal Monceau is Starck’s third hotel in Paris, the city where it all began for him in 1982 when he snared the commission to design the private offices of then president François Mitterand at the Élysée Palace, followed in 1984 by Café Costes, a cleverly designed trilevel café in Les Halles that catapulted him from relative obscurity to international fame. It has been a happy homecoming for Starck, who, in 2007, was invited to remodel the restaurant, bar and ground-floor reception areas for the Hôtel Meurice, overlooking the Tuileries Gardens, where he drew his inspiration from Salvador Dalí, a frequent guest at the venerable 1835 hotel for more than three decades. A year later, Starck completed the new 170-room cheap-chic Mama Shelter, an altogether different endeavor in the far-flung 20th Arrondissement, near the hauntingly beautiful PèreLachaise cemetery, where everyone from neurasthenic
f r o m l e f t: H a r a l d G ot ts c h a l k / L aS o c i é t é A n o n y m e ; R o b e rto F r a n k e n b e r g ( 2 )
R o b e rto F r a n k e n b e r g
An acoustic guitar—there’s one in every room. Left: a guest room bathroom. Opposite from far left: A guest room at Le Royal Monceau; the hotel’s lobby, Le Grand Salon.
writer Marcel Proust to exhibitionistic rock legend Jim Morrison is buried. Meanwhile, back on Avenue Hoche, where the doormen at Le Royal Monceau are dressed in gray morning coats and black felt top hats, which make them look as if they had just arrived from Ascot, Starck is waxing poetic about what is surely his most sophisticated, most mature, most nuanced… most satisfying work to date. “I think we have invented in Le Royal Monceau a new concept called ‘Mental Space,’ ” the designer says. “It is no more about interior design style and trends. It is more about making air in vibration like music, giving to the air a spirit like a perfume.” And just to put the final nail in the coffin of minimalism, Starck adds, “The guest rooms are not empty. They are full of a feeling, a spirit, a presence, as if someone invisible is welcoming you.” Which would explain why underneath the glass that tops the wooden desks in the guest rooms, the maps of Paris have been very subjectively annotated with must-see spots boldly highlighted by the designer himself. If there are those who thought Starck’s stock took a tumble a few years back when Ian Schrager, possibly the savviest hotelier of them all, tapped artist-filmmaker Julian Schnabel to be his aesthetic guide in reimagining New
York’s Gramercy Park Hotel, effectively ending the 14-yearlong collaboration with Starck that produced the Royalton, the Paramount, the Delano, the Mondrian, St. Martins Lane, the Sanderson, the Hudson and the Clift, eight stop-thepresses hotels that virtually redefined the industry, Starck responded by signing an “exclusive” contract in the United States—“from 2006 until 2021”—with L.A.-based hospitality and entertainment impresario Sam Nazarian for SLS Hotels, the first of which opened in Beverly Hills in 2008. But then Starck is nothing if not philosophical, perhaps invaluable for a man now on his second marriage, with a total of four children, some 19 houses and a nine-seat private Swiss jet to maintain. “I never make architecture for architecture,” he says. “I am not interested in stone, aluminium, glass and concrete. I am interested in life. That is why a hotel for me is a movie. I imagine why people will come, why people will come back. What they will live, what they will feel. I hope for them to feel more creative, more intelligent, more elegant, more sparkling, more poetic, more foolish, more in love.” ✚ Le Royal Monceau–Raffles Paris 37 Avenue Hoche; 33-1/4299-8800; leroyalmonceau.com; doubles from €780. travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 73
Goats graze near the eastern end of the Hongoryn Els sand dunes.
Mongolia’s Gobi Desert is a vast stretch of natural wonders, but what is really astounding are the remains of visitors from 60 million years before. by Jeremy Tredinnick
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jeremy tredinnick (4)
Here Be Dinosaurs
ie up your dogs!” Adiya, my driver, calls out the traditional greeting as we pull up to the nomad tent, or ger. This is no joke, for nomad dogs are guardians of family and flocks, serious beasts able to fight off wolves and not to be messed with. This done, we’re invited into the ger and offered tasty sheep’s yogurt, fried bread and goat’s milk. My guide, Odka, explains that we have been told that our host has discovered a dinosaur nest, which he keeps hidden and shows secretly to the few tourists who hire him and his camels for afternoon treks along the base of the Flaming Cliffs. Would he be kind enough to show it to us? His weather-beaten face cracks into a smile. Just then, a jangling Japanese pop tune fills the ger, and his wife stands to answer one of two mobile phones dangling from the roof. I look around. Much of what I see is traditional: tools and furnishings that haven’t changed for centuries. But among this living cultural history are modern touches such as light bulbs, digital radios and a TV, all run either from solar panels propped against the ger’s outside felt wall or spare car batteries just inside the door. This is the reality of Mongolia today, a place where humans live in tune with nature while
also letting the modern world in wherever it can improve quality of life. icture the Gobi Desert, that fabled region of arid plains and barren, rocky hills suffering under a scorching sun that beats mercilessly down from a clear blue sky. This is the almost lifeless expanse that historically separated the Mongol hordes from dynastic China, a natural barrier between the nomadic culture of the northern grasslands of mountain and steppe, and the sedentary wealth of the Chinese heartland. For millennia it has been a place few willingly entered and few inhabited. But in recent decades, as Mongolia’s tourist industry has slowly developed, the stark beauty of this region and a few singular attractions have lured growing numbers of adventurous and curious travelers from across the globe, eager for an “Outer Mongolia” experience. That’s what I’m thinking as I head out of the capital, Ulaanbaatar, with Adiya and Odka, a vivacious young Mongolian woman with the open, moon-like face of her people. We have three days of hard driving to get to South Gobi aimag (province) and its treasures, but within 20 minutes of leaving the city the road becomes a dirt trail, and as we drive south through hilly steppe punctuated by rocks both large and small, I watch eagles soar across an empty sky above us, while the land stretches away to meet it on a distant and indistinct horizon. Driving Mongolia’s “roads” can be monotonous. Rarely does the speedometer pass 65 kilometers an hour and there is frequent hard braking to cross sudden dips in the ground. I am glad that I am in the relative comfort of a Toyota Landcruiser rather than the Russian four-wheeldrives or vans that bounce many tour groups across the landscape. By day two we are traveling through classic desert steppe. There is no drama in its geographical features, only a sense of ever-increasing remoteness from a modern world that cossets us, and entry into an endless primeval land that time forgot. Dalanzadgad is South Gobi’s small but bustling capital, a mini-metropolis that is growing fast as a result of the exploitation of this region’s vast mineral resources, primarily gold and copper mining. We stop only to refuel, though, as we are headed for the province’s more picturesque natural wonders. The South Gobi has three major tourist attractions. The first, Yolyn Am or “Eagle Valley,” is a narrow gorge famous for its “year-round glacier.” Not a true glacier, it’s really just accumulated layers of snow packed into ice through the »
There’s a sense of everincreasing remoteness from a modern world that COSSETS us
Valley days From top: The South Gobi’s unspoilt natural scenery remains its main attraction; a nomad sells crystals found in the surrounding mountains; a battered pool table at a luxurious tourist ger camp in the Gobi region.
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From top: The Hongoryn River allows lush grass to grow at the foot of the dunes; nomadic boys hold back their guard dog; two horse herders stop for a rest in the Gobi.
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long winter months that, because of the vertiginous walls of this gorge, is protected from the Gobi sun for most of the day and remains throughout most of the year. I say most because by the end of July 2010, for the first time all the ice had disappeared due to an unusually hot summer. How the changing global climate affects us all. Yolyn Am is part of the Gurvan Saykhan National Park, which is also home to the second of South Gobi’s natural highlights, some giant sand dunes. They are a four- to fivehour drive through a broad valley populated by hardy but prosperous nomad families who keep large flocks of cashmere goats along with camels, horses and sheep. The cashmere wool the nomads produce and sell to buyers from Ulaanbaatar allows them a level of wealth and stability their ancestors could never have dreamt of. A ridge of mountains to the south begins to come into sharp relief, and I notice that its base is a much lighter color. It soon becomes apparent that I am looking at the beginnings of a linear jumble of giant sand dunes that grow larger as we drive farther west. These are the Hongoryn Els, Mongolia’s longest stretch of sand dunes. The dunes extend for 180 kilometers along the northern face of the Zoolon Mountains, created by the funnel effect of the valley’s narrow western end and the frequent strong winds that blow sand in from the Gobi wastes beyond. Like similar areas in China and Kazakhstan they’re known as the Singing Dunes for the humming or droning sound you can sometimes hear as innumerable sand grains move over each other in the wind. We check in at our ger camp, which has a panoramic view of the dunes. A group of camels waits nearby, chewing and looking condescendingly at us, but I do not join the camp’s other guests in mounting them for a slow, seesawing walk down to and into the dunes, preferring my own two legs, which will get me there faster. Camels stroll at their own pace, and complain bitterly if hurried, being possibly the most recalcitrant beasts I have ever met. The dunes loom large as you approach them, surprisingly awe-inspiring after the distant view we’ve had for hours. Sunset and sunrise are of course the best time to see them, with the angled light casting sweeping shadows
f r o m t o p : j e r e m y t r e d i n n i c k ; CARL ROBINSON ( 2 )
I am LOOKING at the beginnings of a jumble of giant sand dunes that grow larger as we drive west
f r o m t o p : j e r e m y t r e d i n n i c k ; CARL ROBINSON
and turning one side of each dune to burnished gold. (The less intense temperatures are also a boon—midday can be oven-like.) A small river runs along the base of the dunes, creating a bright-green swathe that contrasts beautifully with the sand. Back at the camp for dinner I fall in with a tour group, and over drinks we swap anecdotes, horror stories and hilarious misunderstandings. Even better is that our guides contribute their own insights. I am amused to hear that, just as tourists will gossip about what tour company or guide was good or bad, the coin is reversed when guides and drivers meet each other on the trail. “How are your tourists?” is the usual greeting, followed by a discussion on whether they are lazy and difficult to get moving on schedule, or finicky about food, or moan too much about the long travel hours. The next day as we leave Hongoryn and loop west out of the valley and then northeast, I ask Odka and Adiya how I’m doing as “their tourist.” They both laugh. Apparently I’m a great tourist so far, “but a little like a goat,” says Odka, referring to my penchant for wandering off looking for photo opportunities. We are now on the road to Bayanzag, the last of the region’s big tourist draws. The terrain we are crossing is classic Gobi—vast stretches of flat desert scrub punctuated by rocky ridges. Gaze toward the horizon and as the morning sun heats up the baked earth classic Hollywoodstyle mirages appear, looking like nothing so much as lakes of blue shimmering water that seem to float just above the ground, always at your limit of vision. Bayanzag means “place of many saxaul trees,” but it’s not these desert plants that made it famous. Instead, it is the wealth of dinosaur fossils discovered here in 1922 by American explorer Roy Chapman Andrews and his expedition team that have put it on the map. Near the end of the expedition the team became lost while trying to follow an ancient caravan trail, and so they pulled off to ask directions at a nearby nomad camp. While Chapman Andrews was busy with this, the expedition’s chief paleontologist wandered off with its photographer to examine some small rock hills. Suddenly they came upon a long cliff face that had been hidden to them since they were on top of a flat escarpment. It was bright red in the afternoon sun, and immediately they began to find fossils— they had chanced upon the wealthiest source of fossilized dinosaur remains ever seen. They named the location the “Flaming Cliffs,” and subsequent expeditions have continued to reveal wonders to this day. We arrive the same way that that first expedition did, only now three tourist ger camps dot the top of the escarpment, ready with solar-powered showers to wash away the dust of our travels. But when we drive to the »
Wild life From top: A nomad’s camels stay grouped together for safety – they are suspicious, surly and easily spooked animals; a nomad milks a sheep.
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edge of the cliff late in the afternoon, it is glowing a magnificent red-gold as the sun dips toward the horizon. At the Flaming Cliffs viewpoint a tiny ger “museum” has been set up, containing dinosaur eggs, massive leg bones and other fossils, as well as notice boards explaining Chapman Andrews’ discoveries. But I am itching to get down to the cliff base and do some exploring of my own, so once again I leave Odka and Adiya sighing but smiling, and trek off down a steep, hardscrabble slope to the plain below. The light is phenomenal. With no pollution and clear skies, I can see for dozens of kilometers. Photographs take on a surreal hue. The books say you can still find fossils lying around on the ground, but I am doubtful of this until, as I shift from one red rock outcrop that looks spookily like a medieval castle tower to another fantastical natural feature, my boot kicks a hard stone almost buried beneath the red sand. I turf it up absentmindedly, but then something about its shape makes my heart lurch. I bend to pick it up and sure enough, I am holding the large fossilized remains of a dinosaur. Not only is it far heavier than a 78 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
GUIDE TO THE SOUTH GOBI WHEN TO GO June to September is the only reasonable time to visit as winters are long and severe. High summer temps exceed 40 degrees Celsius, but nights can be cold, so wear layers to adapt to the wildly variable conditions. GETTING THERE MIAT Mongolian Airlines (miat.com) flies to Ulaanbaatar from Beijing, Seoul, Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka. Korean Air (koreanair. com) also flies from Seoul. Alternatively you can enter Mongolia on the TransMongolian Train from Beijing. For those with limited time it’s possible to fly to Dalanzadgad from Ulaanbaatar with domestic carriers Aero Mongolia
(aeromongolia.mn) and EZNIS Airways (eznisairways. com), which will save you three or four days’ hard overland travel. DO AND STAY Most sign up for multi-day trips through Mongolian tour companies. Itineraries vary greatly but an 18-day tour runs about US$3,335 per person. Among those offering customized trips are: Juulchin World Tours Corporation (juulchinworld. com); Mongolian Travel Corporation (mongoliantravel corporation.com); and Tseren Tours (tserentours.com). The Three Camel Lodge, a premier eco-lodge, is open from May to November. 97611/313-396; threecamel lodge. com; gers from US$160.
Unearthing a fossilized dinosaur head.
normal piece of sedimentary rock the same size, but its shape is unmistakably that of a thigh bone joint. I jump and whoop with delight. A flood of joy engulfs me, far out of proportion with the actual achievement of my find, I know, but still for that brief moment I am a dinosaur hunter in the spirit of Roy Chapman Andrews himself. It’s a buzz, and when Odka appears, having come to shepherd me home, I insist on taking her picture holding my find with the location in the background. We return to camp with my trophy, and I give it to the owners, who listen patiently to my gleeful story and thank me with knowing smiles before adding it to a long row of other fossil bones by the entrance. I am enchanted by this land of stark, heart-clenching beauty, and when I emerge from my ger to breathe the cold sweet night air before retiring, my day is complete. Above me the Milky Way shines down with awesome clarity. It is so thick with stars that it seems to gift-wrap the world with twinkling light, millions of stars that beggar belief. In the early morning as we prepare for the long drive north out of the Gobi, we hear of the nomad’s “secret nest” and make a side trip to investigate. He agrees to show us and directs Adiya along the cliff before stopping him on a small rise with no apparent sign of disturbance. Under a covering of sand is a large square of plastic, beneath which is the partially revealed fossil skull of a plant-eating Protoceratops, a common dinosaur in this area. Its lower jaw and teeth are clear to see, and pieces of egg shard have been gathered and put on top of its head by the nomad. I feel another frisson of excitement at being in on the secret. It’s a great feeling to know that anyone can uncover a piece of real prehistory in this amazing location. ✚
Last Days of the stewardess
what’s become of those charming, capable and Legendarily ALLURING flying companions once known as stewardesses? Aimee Lee Ball looks at the changing definition of in-flight service
a l a n b a n d/ k e ysto n e
n anonymous flight attendant recently posted an open letter (read: bitch slap) “to the flying public” on the Internet: “We’re sorry we have no pillows. We’re sorry we’re out of blankets. We’re sorry the airplane is too cold. We’re sorry the airplane is too hot. We’re sorry the overhead bins are full.... We’re sorry that’s not the seat you wanted. We’re sorry there’s a restless toddler/overweight/offensivesmelling passenger seated next to you.... We’re sorry that guy makes you uncomfortable because he ‘looks like a terrorist….’” This sorry state of affairs ends with an admonition from the flight attendant: “The glory days of pillows, blankets, magazines and a hot meal for everyone are long gone. Our job is to get you from point A to point B safely and at the cheapest possible cost to you and the company.” We shall now observe a moment of silence for the golden age of travel, those madcap, Mad Men days when airplanes had piano bars and carvedat-your-seat chateaubriand, when the cabin crew was dressed by Emilio Pucci and the passengers dressed up too, when men were men and flight attendants were stewardesses. A recruiting ad from that time seems quaintly antediluvian: “To most passengers, their stewardess is National Airlines. So we are looking for young ladies who have a flair for making » travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 79
people happy, young ladies with just the right blend of friendliness, competence and poise.” Quite a departure from Steven Slater, the irate JetBlue attendant who famously announced “I’m done” and fled down his plane’s emergency chute last year, or the Slater manqué I encountered on a flight I took shortly after having rotator cuff surgery: I asked him to help put my carry-on in the overhead compartment and was told, “That’s not part of my job.” The changing dynamic of airline service seems to parallel the shifting role of airline personnel, whatever they’re called. In the earliest days of commercial flight, there were teenage “cabin boys,” and the first female stewardesses had to be registered nurses. (Such know-how would have been most welcome several years ago when, en route to Rome, I cleverly gave myself food poisoning from a homemade doggie bag. It’s bad, very
A T+L TIME LINE: the glamorous lives oF Stewardesses
Training takes place at facilities fittingly called “charm farms,” which churn out clones with identical collar-length haircuts and teeth ground into even smiles.
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bad, when you hear “Is there a doctor on board?” over the loudspeaker and realize it’s for you.) Dressed in hospital whites or military-style uniforms, a “sky girl” of the 1930’s not only served meals and soothed nerves but also sometimes helped refuel the plane or bolt the seats to the floor, according to the 2009 book Flying Across America: The Airline Passenger Experience by Daniel L. Rust. When World War II mobilized nurses, the airlines expanded their hiring parameters, but the requirements were draconian: Barbiedoll height and weight standards, girdles and heels worn at all times, and mandatory retirement by the decrepit age of…32. Shedding their white gloves and raising their hemlines, stewardesses imparted a mixed message of flirtation and personal indenture. Advertising for National Airlines had Debbie/ Cheryl/Karen cooing “Fly Me” (or, even less ambiguously, “I’m going to fly you like you’ve never been flown before”), and Continental claimed “We Really Move Our Tails for You.” Braniff coyly asked “Does your wife know you’re flying with us?” and Pacific Southwest Airlines stressed the advantage of an aisle seat, the better to see its miniskirted workforce. Male passengers were assumed to be little more than overgrown
frat boys: Eastern Airlines actually provided them with little black books to collect stewardesses’ phone numbers en route. From a feminist perspective, it was progress when flight attendants won the right to gain a few kilos, to let their hair go gray, to be pregnant or to have a Y chromosome: The Civil Rights Act of 1964 insisted that men could do the job too, thus making a little full circle back to those early cabin boys. Fishnet stockings and hot pants were replaced by androgynous pantsuits. But as the dress code changed, so did the up-inthe-air experience. Air travel became democratic and accessible. The 800 million of us who pass through U.S. airports every year now comprise a remote and motley crew. We book our flights online, check in at kiosks, board in T-shirts and flipflops, and withdraw under headsets and earbuds. “We have no connection with passengers any more,” a flight attendant for a major American airline confided to me, sotto voce. “Everybody has an iPod or an e-book. They don’t want any conversation beyond, ‘Would you like vinaigrette or creamy dressing?’ And that’s in business class, where we still serve meals. People don’t think about the face of a flight attendant. They want a nonstop flight for the cheapest price.”
The alleged memoirs of two “uninhibited” (but fictitious) stewardesses, Coffee, Tea or Me? launches three sequels, a TV movie and the fantasies of thousands of men.
After years of lawsuits, flight attendants now have the right to gain a few pounds, let their hair go gray, get pregnant, be men and wear polyester uniforms.
f r o m l e f t: co u rt e sy o f C h r i st i a n M o n to n e ; l a r s k lov e ; © s j lo c k e | i sto c k p h oto.co m
f r o m l e f t : c o u r t e s y o f d e lta ; © T y p h o o n s k i | D r e a m s t i m e . c o m
We trust that these faceless, nameless people asking us to turn off our mobile phones or raise our seatbacks will know what to do in an emergency (10 percent of JetBlue’s cabin crew has been recruited from police and fire departments) but their mandate is no longer the care and feeding of passengers, nor conveying the personality of the airline. And yet…. There’s a slightly schizophrenic message from the industry these days, as if it’s taking the temperature of public nostalgia for the era of “coffee, tea or me,” at the same time that technology is replacing the “me” factor. Continental is experimenting with subway-style “self-boarding” that bypasses an agent at the gate. The most overt sign that airlines no longer view flight attendants as personal service providers is Virgin America’s touch screen for ordering food on board; the intimate exchange with the person who brings your meal down the aisle approximates the bond with a delivery guy who brings kung pao chicken to your house. No tipping. On the completely opposite hand, Virgin Atlantic has a new commercial featuring stunning young women in lipstick-red uniforms and spike heels pointing out the exit rows with vampy choreography and ripping open their bodices to serve ice cream.
A commercial for the Russian airline Avianova shows a bevy of young women who strip down from skimpy uniforms into string bikinis to give the plane an orgiastic sponge bath. U.S. carriers seem more puritanical—or more respectful, depending on your point of view—but Southwest Airlines recently plastered an image of the cover girl for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, full length, on the Boeing 737 it flies from New York City to Las Vegas. So what’s it to be? Androids handing out peanuts, with a hologram showing how to inflate a life vest? Or stewardesses in stilettos and Spanx? Perhaps a return to teenage boys, recruited out of the Scouts? “The way people now view air travel, it’s public transportation,” said Patricia A. Friend, former president of the Association of Flight Attendants, who started flying with United in 1966. “When my friends complain about no food on board or paying to check a bag, I tell them: Talk to me when you stop going searching for the cheapest ticket on the Internet. As long as we show up based on the price of the seat, we have settled for a particular level of service.” Until the industry decides on a paradigm for the 21st century, you’d best pack your own sandwich and fasten your seatbelt. It could be a bumpy ride. ✚
Delta introduces uniforms designed by Richard Tyler— and, a few years later, a sexy safety video featuring a finger-wagging flight attendant (left), nicknamed Deltalina for her resemblance to the pillow-lipped actress.
Chinese airlines take up the “charm school” approach to hiring. China Southern Airlines even creates a reality show competition to search for new flight attendants. Applicants race against one another lugging heavy suitcases and serving drinks to the judges.
moved recently from Greenwich Village, where I lived for 25 years, to midtown Manhattan. It’s barely three kilometers away, and yet it feels like I’ve gone to an entirely new city. What used to be a 20-minute subway ride is now a two-minute walk. What was near is now far. Routines worn deep from years of familiarity have been turned upside down. So I’m getting a good second look at urban terrain I thought I knew well—both geographic and emotional.
I’m walking a lot, staking out my turf and finding myself on 42nd Street a great deal. I’ve discovered that much of what makes New York unique—the history and infrastructure vital to its day-to-day well-being—hangs from this “waistline” of the city. So early one morning, I hop on the M42 crosstown bus to its farthest point east and follow the great thoroughfare from one end to the other to see what I can see. At the end of the line the air brakes hiss and the door opens, the driver shifts into park, and I see her shoulders drop. “Long morning?”
MAIN STREET U.S.A.
FROM THE UNITED NATIONS TO THE HUDSON RIVER, 42ND STREET IS BOTH NEW YORK’S CENTRAL ARTERY AND ITS PULSATING HEART. ANDREW MCCARTHY STROLLS FROM RIVER TO RIVER AND DISCOVERS A MICROCOSM OF THE CITY—AND THE WORLD. Photographed by Emiliano Granado
First Avenue near the U.N. building
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Grand Central Terminal, near Park Avenue
42nd Street begins to drag itself toward the throb of midtown. Just beyond Second Avenue, the granite mural of the old Daily News Building stands watch. Soon the Chrysler Building—the 77-story masterpiece of Art Deco architecture and detail—draws me inside. I suggest to Patel, a native of India who works the newsstand in the lobby, how nice it must feel to work amid such aesthetically pleasing surroundings. “I hadn’t noticed,” he tells me with a shrug. The blocks along this section of 42nd Street are thrumming. Perhaps it’s because the avenues are so close together. Or maybe it’s Grand Central Terminal, smack in the middle of Park Avenue, with a 58-story office tower built right on top. Three quarters of a million people pass through the station’s marble halls each day. I’ve visited the main concourse, with its astronomical ceiling, hundreds of times, and it always arouses a sense of awe and nostalgia for a past I never knew. My arrival at Fifth Avenue is something of a shock. The skies above me widen and I’m »
I ask. “I’m off this route next week,” she says. “Thank God.” An ominous start, but then I don’t have to traverse this street 12 times a day. Forty-Second crawls up out of the East River from an FDR Drive on-ramp and struggles toward First Avenue, flanked on one side by a ventilation building for the Midtown Tunnel and on the other, more glamorously, by the southern end of the United Nations campus. Today, for reasons no one will explain, members of the Hercules unit of the NYPD are on hand. Officers in SWAT-type uniforms, with machine guns, bullet-resistant vests and black helmets, loiter with intent. None are interested in small talk. But nearby, one of New York’s finest, dressed casually by comparison in his blue uniform, is happy to chat. At one point he leans close and nods toward the tower of the U.N. “You can get a good meal in there,” he says. “The cafeteria’s pretty decent, not too expensive, either.” It turns out the Delegates Dining Room is closed for renovations, so I leave the suspicious looks behind. Beyond the Tudor City overpass,
Bryant Park, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
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Near the West Side Highway
Circle Line Ferry on the Hudson River
breeze softens the hanging heat and I look up to take in the Empire State Building a few blocks to the south. A low-flying plane crosses behind its radio tower and I’m reminded of thoughts and feelings that have become normal over the past nine years. The park is an oasis in the heart of midtown, but it wasn’t always so. Michele Sherman, granddaughter of Nat Sherman—who opened his “Tobacconist to the World” shop in the neighborhood in 1930—reminds me that Bryant Park was once more commonly known as Needle Park (in honor of the heroin sold and shot here). Huge swaths of 42nd Street were, as Isaiah, the doorman at the Grand Hyatt, dubs it, “a slutfest.” Then, in the early 1990’s, things began to improve. “God bless Giuliani,” exclaims Louis Gritsipis, owner of 42nd Street Restaurant & Pizza. A Greek immigrant, he boasts of being held up at gunpoint seven times and suffering through 26 break-ins during his 43-year tenure at the diner. “Giuliani had the balls to kick everybody out. When they came through here
suddenly aware what a canyon of buildings I’ve been walking through. For the first time since I left the U.N., I feel the warmth of the sun. Perhaps it’s the great American notion of manifest destiny, of always moving forward, looking west, following the sun toward opportunity, but I feel a gathering excitement and lightness as I proceed. The Beaux-Arts New York Public Library building, praised by the New York Herald as a “splendid temple of the mind” when it opened in 1911, anchors the southwest corner of 42nd Street and Fifth Avenue. I grab a sandwich at Pret A Manger and the Nigerian-born employee I speak with tells me the shop has sold nearly 3,500 sandwiches today. “We ran out of bread. Crazy!” he says. I slip into Bryant Park, the library’s backyard, and settle into one of the few empty chairs beneath the London plane trees. An old man wearing a beret dozes beside me. Nearby, two women train a seeingeye dog. A man walks past screaming into his mobile phone—“First of all, don’t yell at me. I’m not yelling at you, don’t yell at me!” A
Of the nearly 100 people I speak with on this day, I find exactly ONE native of Manhattan: Regina, who’s giving out free copies of the New York Post on a busy street corner. Everyone, it seems, is from somewhere else
with those mounted units.…” He waves a hand dismissively through the air. It’s a sentiment echoed by numerous people I encounter throughout the day, mostly immigrants—because it is immigrants, and out-of-towners, that I meet on my walk. Of the nearly 100 people I speak with on this day, I find exactly one native of Manhattan: Regina, who’s giving out free copies of the New York Post on a busy corner. Everyone, it seems, is from somewhere else. Mustafa, leaning against a coffee cart eating a banana, is from Afghanistan. He’s been here for 20 years. “I go back—who I see? Old people all dead. Young people gone,” he shouts at me. Pablo, a waiter from Uruguay, pulls on a cigarette and tells me, “I don’t have time to miss my family.” And Brenda, a hostess at Métrazur who came to New York to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology, isn’t going back to Carol, Iowa, any time soon—“I’m here now.” Everyone, it seems, is here to stay. By late afternoon I arrive at Times Square, “the crossroads of the world.” The view uptown from 42nd Street and Broadway is unlike any other: a honky-tonk chaos of neon and humanity. Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial decision last year to close off this section of Broadway to traffic has made lingering a more enticing option. But I keep moving. It’s the block between Seventh and Eighth Avenues that’s earned 42nd Street its reputation—the good, the bad and the ugly. When I arrived in the city in 1980, you went to this part of 42nd Street looking only for trouble. Now it’s all family-friendly, the streetwalkers and hawkers replaced by the New Victory children’s theater and Madame Tussauds wax museum.
Beyond Ninth Avenue, the blocks become longer and the sky opens up again. This far reach of 42nd Street—“the Wild West,” as a real estate broker friend calls it—I’m surprised to find this to be the most inspiring part of my walk across Manhattan. If the east side of 42nd Street is venerable and solidified, out here it feels forward-looking and alive. The blocks beyond 10th Avenue are witnessing construction of several 40-odd-story, high-end apartment towers. It doesn’t feel so much that an old neighborhood is being transformed as that a new one is being born. I reach the Hudson River and watch the Circle Line dock at Pier 83. The sun sets over the Palisades of New Jersey. I feel like I’ve walked out of my old rut and into my new life. Out here, with the vast sky and the light turning the water a deep purple, it’s easy to feel that there’s still so much opportunity, so much left to be created. ✚
42nd Street address book Chrysler Building 405 Lexington Ave.; 1-212/ 682-3070. Circle Line Cruises Pier 83; 1-212/563-3200; circleline42.com; tickets from US$23. Grand Central Terminal 87 E. 42nd St.; 1-212/5324900; grandcentralterminal.com. Madame Tussauds Wax Museum 234 W. 42nd St.; 1-212/512-9600; madametussauds.com; tickets US$36. Nat Sherman 12 E. 42nd St.; natsherman.com. New Victory Theater 209 W. 42nd St.; 1-646/2233010; newvictory.org; tickets from US$14. New York Public Library Fifth Ave. at 42nd St.; 1-917/275-6975; nypl.org. United Nations Entrance at First Ave., 45th and 46th Sts.; 1-212/963-4475; un.org; tours US$16.
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Away from Bali’s crowded south, the other side of the island offers stunning volcanoes, lush rice terraces, blacksand beaches and a cast of colorful local characters. By Lara Day Photographed by Christopher Wise
the road less traveled Above, from left: A carving of a Dutch cyclist at Pura Maduwe Karang temple, in Kubutambahan, north Bali;
nasi campur in Singaraja; the black-sand beaches of Air Sanih, on Bali’s north coast. Opposite: The rices terraces of Munduk.
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n 1930, the Mexican artist Miguel Covarrubias and his wife Rose, a photographer, boarded a steam ship in New York bound for Bali, a place they had pointed out on a map to friends as “a tiny dot in the swarm of islands east of Java.” After six weeks of monotonous sea travel, they landed in the regency of Buleleng, the island’s traditional gateway, on the north coast. There they saw “a high dark peak reflected on a sea as smooth as polished steel, with the summit of the cone hidden in dark, metallic clouds,” as Covarrubias wrote in his 1937 book Island of Bali, an illuminating, if quixotic, account of Bali’s rituals, beliefs and ethnography. Despite the beauty of that first vision, the Covarrubiases didn’t linger in Buleleng—they took a tortuous car journey south, to Denpasar. Today, few people ever venture north of Ubud. Not that Bali has any shortage of visitors. If, in 1930, the island was a barely perceptible dot in the outside world’s eye, in 2011, it’s a giant splash of paint on the atlas of global tourism: last year it received 2.27 million visitors, almost its entire population, between January and November. And while Bali has suffered its share of deeply felt setbacks—most damagingly, after the bombings of 2002 and 2005—it has also witnessed frenzied, rice-field-razing development, heavily concentrated in the south. All of which makes the north an attractive bet for today’s interested, intrepid traveler. It may be harder to get to than some places—expect at least a three-and-a-half-hour drive from Denpasar, now home to Bali’s international airport—and you won’t find the south’s surfeit of modern conveniences, from DJ-spinning sunset lounges to street-corner ATM’s. But you might encounter something rarer and more elusive in today’s world, where taking a plane is almost as easy as hopping on a bus. his car is very tired,” says my driver, Pak Ketut. “Every day it’s up and down, up and down.” He means: up and down giant mountains; up to the north, down to the south. “Very tired” means something is wrong with the suspension, or the ignition coil, or maybe the
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carburetor. Pak Ketut doesn’t know the word in English to describe our automotive travails and, for that matter, neither do I. We’re moving at the pace of a sea turtle in hot sand, and it will take longer than four hours to reach Pemuteran Bay. Luckily, the journey is a diversion in itself: jagged volcanic peaks mark the division between the island’s south and north, and as the car climbs uphill I look out to see bright rice fields emerge in the distance. Behind them loom dark mountains, their bases swathed by clouds that cling like half-formed memories of rain. As we approach Bedugul, a sign for Strawberry Hill Hotel appears. The “hill” in question rises above 1,000 meters and is ideal for cool-weather crops—strawberries; lettuce—as well as the Bedugul Botanic Garden, a horticulturalist’s fantasia of 160 hectares comprising nearly 2,000 plant species, including 320 orchid varieties. The road dips toward the crater lake of Bratan, home to Ulun Danu temple, possibly Bali’s most photographed sacred site, then rises again into the Monkey Forest. Naturally, I ask about monkeys. “You probably won’t see any here,” warns Pak Ketut, just as some appear. We veer west toward the rice terraces of Munduk. I peer through a wall of vine-covered tree trunks and glimpse watery fragments of Tamblingan and Buyan, both crater lakes; the sun catches on their glasslike surfaces, refracting silver and copper as it begins its descent for the day, at the same time as we reach our peak. “One thousand, four hundred meters,” announces Pak Ketut, my personal GPS. From there, the drive down borders on perilous: we swoop and curve along a tapered two-way road, all deep potholes, wiry barking dogs and trucks laden with cloves and coffee beans. One side bursts with vegetation, the other is a sheer drop. A goat hops across the dirt path that leads to Puri Ganesha, balinese dream at Pemuteran Bay, in north Bali’s Opposite, clockwise from left: Pura Maduwe western reaches. “Upstairs is your top Karang, in Kubutambahan; room,” announces Putu, one of a rice farmer; a festival in a stone carving at two butlers who attend to my Bedugul; Damai, in Lovina; the natural villa. The room, up a spiral springs at Air Sanih; boats Lovina Beach; Puri wooden staircase, turns out to be on Ganesha, in Pemuteran Bay; of palatial proportions, with a strawberries at Bedugul’s on the shores of soaring Balinese thatch ceiling market, Lake Tamblingan; the and towering wraparound » market sells vanilla pods.
courtesy of puri ganesha
bright rice fields emerge in the distance. Behind them loom dark mountains, their bases swathed by clouds that cling like half-formed memories of rain
through a wall of vine-covered tree trunks, i glimpse the watery fragments of two crater lakes; the sun catches on theirÂ glasslike surfaces, refracting silver and copper
French doors leading out to a generous veranda. Dramatic white drapes billow down, while the cloth-swathed four-poster bed conceals a Balinese offering basket blessed with a kimono, slippers, insect repellent—and ear plugs. Later, I understand: after dark, a lizard vigorously exercises its vocal chords. In go the earplugs, and I enjoy a blissful night’s sleep. It’s true that there aren’t many top-end hotels in north Bali, but Puri Ganesha would stand out just about anywhere. Not only does it offer a luxurious sense of privacy—40 staff to just four sprawling villas, each with its own pool, spread across 2.2 hectares—but guests are afforded a tremendous amount of freedom. You can eat the fresh, organic fare where you want—at the restaurant, in your villa, at your poolside balé—and do as much or as little as you like. In fact, this feels less like a hotel and more like an unfathomably stylish friend’s tropical beachside hideaway, where you’ve been lucky enough to get an invite. In this case, that friend is British owner Diana von Cranach, an Egyptologist turned interior designer turned hotelier turned chef and raw-food advocate. She moved to Bali following a failed marriage, speaks German and Indonesian fluently— “I absorb languages by osmosis”—and now runs Puri Ganesha with her Balinese husband, Gusti Wishnu Wardan. It occurs to me that Diana embodies the archetype of Eat Pray Love, Elizabeth Gilbert’s book turned film, before it became cool— or cloying, depending on how you look at it—and has somehow managed to transcend it. Diana and Gusti have left little notes in the villas, gently asking guests to be patient in case anything goes awry—upscale as Puri Ganesha is, this is, after all, the Southeast Asian countryside. Do not forget where we are, reads one. Remember we are in the tropics, cautions another. It’s ironic that these notes are necessary, because surely this is the purpose of travel: to be where you are. Gusti tells me most guests are content to accept that coming here won’t be a Disneyland-orchestrated experience, though naturally, it’s impossible to avoid detractors. northern exposure “One guest wanted marble in the Opposite, from top: Enjoying the water at bathrooms. Marble!” He shakes Banyar Hot Springs; his head. Tamblingan, a crater lake.
Speaking of where we are, I explore the shore of Pemuteran Bay. If you’re looking for a typical picture-postcard beach, its appeal isn’t immediately obvious: black sand and dull volcanic rock, a handful of fishing boats, a fringe of trees overlooking paperstill waters that are the polar opposite to the brash surfing beaches of the south. But the water conceals some of Bali’s best snorkeling and diving, at the reefs off nearby Menjangan Island, while more visibly, a sweep of volcanic mountains cradles the bay’s moonlike crescent. Breathtaking as those mountains are, they’re also a reminder of tragedy: many of north Bali’s inhabitants came here in 1963, when east Bali’s Mount Agung erupted in the most devastating explosion in a century, killing a reported 2,000 people and displacing 100,000. “People here are not rich,” Gusti says as we drive to a foundation supported by Puri Ganesha, which helps 110 children continue their schooling from the ages of 12 to 17. The foundation pays for school fees, books, uniforms, after-school tutoring and activities, even motorbikes. There, a group of girls practice a local Balinese dance. I quiz Gusti on how he thinks north Bali compares to the south. “People in the north are rougher, like cowboys,” he says. “People in the south say it’s like Texas here.” He’s clearly not a fan of the south, and I ask him if he’s ever been to Texas. “I don’t travel anywhere!” he grins. “I just feel happy here, I don’t know why.” hen I arrive at Shanti, it’s dark. Somewhere, a waterfall rumbles. The shapes of a man and a woman emerge out of the black night. “Hi, I’m Kadek,” says one shape. “Hi, I’m Kadek,” says the other. Patiently, the woman explains that Balinese first names depend on the order of a child’s birth: Kadek means second child. Confusion dissipated, I sit down in a wooden dining pavilion to feast on succulent chicken satay with peanut sauce and tasty nasi campur. But only in the morning’s first light does the real reason for coming here become clear: below, a stunning cascade of rice terraces leads down to a high waterfall. An alfresco breakfast of fresh fruit is the perfect way to soak in the setting. »
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The female Kadek guides me on a trek through the next-door village, Sambangen, lined with tinroof houses to the one side and rice fields framed by coconut palms to the other. We turn into a field, follow a ridge and pass through a carved wooden gate flanked by tall plants with succulent red leaves. Then it’s down steep, gently winding stone steps covered in bright green moss. The sound of rushing grows louder, more fierce; I’m focused on my footing. “Look up!” Kadek says. Giant fan palms loom in the foreground of green upon green soaring skyward. “This is Bali: up and down, up and down.” Across a wooden bridge, we reach an “island” fringed by two gushing streams. At last we see the waterfall. Its mist wafts toward us, immersing us in a gentle cool, like a natural outdoor air-conditioner. Kadek stops at a giant banyan tree, its trunk wrapped in a black-and-white poleng cloth: she lights two incense sticks and lays out an offering of flowers, dropping more red, violet and orange petals from her bag. She wafts the incense smoke with her hand, releasing her prayer to the universe. Since Pak Ketut isn’t available, Made picks me up in his car. He speaks excellent English, thanks to the Australians he’s met in the south. “G’day mate,” he says, mimicking. Impressive. “How ya going?” Outstanding. “Azitaka!” Azi… what? I nod politely, but in truth I’m perplexed. Is it a boat? A dish? A purveyor of Bondi beachwear? Later, I ask my boyfriend, an Adelaide native, what he thinks this “azitaka” might signify. It sounds like Aztec, which sounds like Anzac, which sounds like… I give up. He laughs. “Tucker,” he says. “It’s Australian slang for food. Who’s asking for Aussie tucker in Bali?” Made takes me to Banjar Hot Springs, a sacred watering hole that came into being when water gushed forth at the building site of a temple. There are three bathing pools. In the large, main pool, a scattering of mainly foreigners bob about like so many red apples. Fierce concrete serpents spill yellow, sulphurous water from their mouths. An immense, rubicund Dutchman lowers himself into the water like a dainty teabag. Is this really what people come here for?
In the corner of the highest pool, an old Balinese man bathes himself; his skin hangs loosely from his bones. I decide to test the waters. Here it’s tepid, like lukewarm tea. The large pool, below, is almost body temperature. I try the smallest, lowest pool, off to one side, where water spouts from three high metal pipes. Everyone here is local: two small boys piggyback each other like playful hippos; their mother, pregnant, relaxes under a falling stream; a young couple flirt in a corner. I realize why this humble watering hole is so popular: its size means it retains heat much better than its wider counterparts, and the tumbling water makes for one of the best head-and-shoulder massages around. Next up is Wasiri, Bali’s Buddhist monastery, set high on the slopes of a mountain. The structure is made of brick and whitewashed concrete, with a series of ascending pavilions graced with shrines. On the way up, I detect the unmistakable scent of pine—am I hallucinating? Apparently not: in a courtyard, stately rows of pine trees stand amid palms, bougainvillea and giant ferns. The loveliest pavilion of all is at the very top, where a frangipaniand bougainvillea-lined path leads to an almostempty temple. And yet, there are no monks in sight. As I turn to leave, rain starts to fall. That’s when I hear it: a lone voice, beautifully chanting a sutra. The sound is ghostly, disembodied. It could be a recording. I move to the outer edge of the courtyard, scanning the scene for its source, but all I can see is a wall of leafy green, thick and impenetrable. At sea level in Lovina, the signs of development are predictable: Western Union signs, neon minimarts, sports bars. At Lovina Beach, a stalllined stretch of sand known for its cheap resorts and dolphin tours, there’s a Dolphin Monument. Five gleeful-looking dolphins stud its base, while a dolphin with a crown caps its summit. “They say that dolphins are being chased away,” says Made. “Too many tourist boats.” Wandering along the sand, I’m taken through the litany of touts everywhere, albeit framed in the language peculiar to this location. “You want dolphin?” No. “Perla?” No. “Bling-bling?” No, no, no. Maybe this is what »
Wandering along the sand, i encounter the litany of touts everywhere. Maybe this is what it feels like to be under the sea, assaulted by the roar of oncoming motors
Lovina Beach at sunset. travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 105
Past the lotus-dotted pond and beyond the garden courtyard, i reach the shady inner sanctum, blessed with shrines, live turtles and mr. ang, the temple’s garrulous custodian it feels like to be under the sea, assaulted by the roar of oncoming motors. The sun drops steadily in the sky and giant cumulus clouds gather like bunches of ripe grapes, luminous with gorgeous shades of burgundy and purple. A woman makes an offering at the shoreline. “Do you know what she’s praying for?” I ask Made. “Yes,” he says, confidently. “Her business.” n my last night in north Bali, I stay at the Damai, a swanky, 14-villa property high on a hill behind Lovina—its tagline is hard to find, hard to leave—and wake to a strange, otherworldly sunshine filtered through clouds. Pak Ketut arrives, his car fully functional, and we head to Singaraja. I’d heard that the former colonial capital, a Muslim city on this Hindu island, would have mosques, colonial architecture, winding back streets, grand government buildings. What I didn’t expect was a fire-engine–red temple beaming like a beacon of eternal cheer from the city’s faded, rather disappointing waterfront. Ling Gwan Kiong, a Chinese Buddhist temple, dates to 1873, but it looks like it was built yesterday. That’s because it was repainted yesterday—its owners spruce it up every Chinese New Year. Past the dazzlingly red lotus-dotted pond, through the blindingly red Chinese gate, beyond the spankingly new garden courtyard, I reach the shady inner sanctum, blessed with shrines, live turtles and Mr. Ang, the temple’s garrulous custodian. He fires off
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information with machine-gun enthusiasm. “This is a ship bell, from England,” he says. “This is a Chinese drum.” “This tells the story of the Three Kingdoms, but I can’t read Chinese.” “Where did I learn English? BBC London radio.” Bali’s Chinese immigrants are visible and successful, but many have lost touch with their roots. Ang and I discover we both have ancestors from Fujian; his grandfather studied at a Catholic school, with a pastor from Holland. He says all denominations come to the temple—Muslims, Christians, Hindus—to pray for good fortune. A young Dutch couple arrive, and Ang shows off an unexpected skill: fortune telling. He points out the figures of the Chinese Zodiac on the wall, like a diligent schoolmaster. “You, Horse,” he tells the man, reading from a sheet of paper. “Diligent, clever, sometimes angry.” Now it’s the woman’s turn: “You, Ox. Pregnant in one year. Passion problem.” The woman looks aghast. Ang looks triumphant. “I’m a Goat,” I say. “When you born?” I tell him the year. “Monkey, not Goat,” he corrects me. I try to protest, explaining that my early birth month means I fall under a different Chinese year, but in vain. “In Indonesia you’re a monkey,” he harrumphs. “In China different, I don’t know.” The rest of Singaraja pales in comparison: rundown shop houses; workaday mosques; a plethora of bike and island charm From left: devotee at a priest’s motorbike shops; the odd Dutch A blessing; the pool at one colonial house. The highlight is of Damai’s seaview villas, the hills above Lovina; the Gedong Kirtya Library, which in barefoot in the sand on houses more than 1,500 lontar Lovina Beach.
manuscripts—palm leaves inscribed with a blade and candlenut ink—enshrining the wisdom of ancient religious mantras, Balinese astrology, black and white magic and traditional local medicine. Close to the city are a number of temples featuring bizarre carvings of foreigners among their traditional sacred motifs: at Pura Maduwe Karang, said to be one of north Bali’s most beautiful, there’s a white man on a bicycle, a fresh frangipani tucked behind his ear (note that it’s relatively touristed, and your “donation” is enforced before entrance). It’s time to go. Driving back up into the mountains, we take the eastern road toward Bangli, a steep, potholed route bordered by green grass and patches of randomly strewn litter. At Tejakula, the mountains roll down toward the sea, revealing an expanse of rice-field-covered hills. Tall conifers appear as the road climbs the 1,640-meter peak. My ears pop. As we start to descend, three volcanoes reveal themselves to our left: Batur, Abang and
Agung, all equally menacing and magnificent. Below us, dense agriculture—mandarins, carrots, bananas—flourishes in the fertile volcanic soil. In the town of Kintamani, old men smoke cigarettes and walk down the street wrapped in quilts—it’s a chilly 20 degrees Celsius. As we drive past a procession of halal restaurants patronized by busloads of international tour groups, Pak Ketut lowers his window. Quickly, he rolls it back up. “It’s too cool for me,” he says, and we laugh. Outside is significantly warmer than his car’s hyper-efficient air-cooling system. On the gently winding drive down, we almost run over a small menagerie: a white cat, a gaggle of geese, two roosters—“chicken soup,” Pak Ketut jokes. The sky shimmers in the glistening paddies. Suddenly, the heavens open and rain starts to fall, feeding the thirsty ground. Then it stops and we’re back to sunshine, the water a memory carried away by clouds. ✚
guide to north bali Flights to Bali arrive at Ngurah Rai International Airport, in Denpasar. The only way to the north is by car or bus. Several routes are possible, including the road through Munduk and Lake Bratan toward Singaraja. Once there, public transport is scarce and won’t take you to more secluded corners, so it’s best to hire a car and driver (from Rp600,000 per day). STAY Puri Ganesha Pantai Pemuteran, Gerokgak; 62362/94-766; puriganesha. com; villas from US$550. Damai Jln. Damai, Kayuputih, Lovina; 62-362/41-008; villas from US$210. Matahari Beach Resort & Spa Sixteen villas and 32 rooms nestled in lush, beautifully tended grounds. The spa is a highlight. Jln. Raya Seririt, Gilimanuk, Pemuteran, Gerokgak; 62-362/92-
312; matahari-beach-resort. com; doubles from US$234. Shanti Two clean, converted rice barns with a view. Sambangan, Singaraja; 62-362/700-1331; shantinorthbali.com; doubles from US$60. SEE & DO Menjangan Island National Marine Park Superb diving and snorkeling, with soft corals, drop-offs, caves, a 6-meter wreck dive, tropical fish—clownfish, seahorses, fusiliers—and manta rays. Try Reef Seen Aquatics (reefseen.com), which also operates a turtle hatchery.
playing Dutchmen. Sangsit; admission by donation.
Shanti Lunch or dinner for two Rp150,000.
Brahma Vihara Banjar, Lovina; admission free.
Pura Dalem Fascinating temple of the dead, with violent depictions of the afterlife. Jagaraga; admission by donation.
Damai Fine French cuisine with Balinese inflections. Dinner for two Rp850,000.
Ling Gwan Kiong Jln. Erlangga No. 65, Singaraja; admission free.
Pura Made Warung Kubutambahan; admission by donation.
Pura Beji Ornate pink-sandstone temple; look out for the carvings of instrument-
EAT & DRINK Puri Ganesha Dinner for two Rp500,000.
Banjar Hot Springs Banjar, Lovina; admission Rp6,000.
Sea Breeze Café Relaxed beachside sunset spot; order a Hatten white wine or Storm ale, both produced in the area. Central Lovina Beach; 62-362/41138; drinks for two Rp100,000.
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A stone bridge on the grounds of Coworth Park, in Ascot, England. Opposite: Escaping from the world in a canopy bed in one of Coworth’s junior suites.
A whitewashed former fisherman’s cottage by the sea. A gilded palace on a grand Parisian boulevard. A remote wilderness camp with a king-size bed under the stars. Whatever your vision for an idyllic vacation à deux, we’ve found the places to fill the bill. These global discoveries—most of them recent openings, others old favorites with an updated twist—are where we’re longing to check in next. Edited by Irene Edwards Photographed by John Huba ~ Styled by Mimi Lombardo
M o d e l : L u c y H o lt/ M o d e l s 1 . H a i r a n d M a k e u p : N a d i n e W i l k i e / C a r o l H ay e s M a n a g e m e n t . A s s i s t a n t F a s h i o n E d i t o r : J e s s i e B a n d y. S t y l i s t â€™ s A s s i s ta n t : S a r a h S t o r m s . b l o u s e b y C h a n e l
Most Romantic Hotels
country retreat coworth park berkshire, england
Love is in the air at this reinvented Georgian manor set on 97 hectares of private parkland near Windsor Castle, 45 minutes outside London. In fact, the very sentiment is spelled out in capital letters in the contemporary light fixture over the bar. The Dorchester Collection’s first country-house hotel was designed by British firm Fox Linton, which cleverly balanced the gravitas of a grand estate with whimsical flourishes worthy of a stylish aristocrat. The 70-room property pays homage to genteel rural pursuits with polo ponies on the lawn, a staff suited in mocha tweeds, leather-covered vanity tables and equestrian-themed artwork. Guests can doff their muddy Wellingtons after a ramble in the woods; linger over smoked salmon finger sandwiches and Silver Needle Yin Zhen tea in the drawing room; and thumb through The Book of Idle Pleasures while soaking in a deep copper tub. In the main restaurant, chef John Campbell’s roast suckling pig with pork and bacon jus is a sumptuous pleasure all its own. Blacknest Rd., Ascot; 44-1344/876-600; coworthpark.com; doubles from £215.
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Our favorite inroom details: a deck of horse-themed playing cards; the bedside call button to summon housekeeping
to the manor born From left: Ready to ride in
front of the property’s three-bedroom Dower House; the Terrace at Coworth Park’s Mansion House; a bespoke copper rolltop tub overlooking hectares of parkland. Opposite: The drawing room, where afternoon tea is served.
f r o m l e f t : j a c k e t b y USAI ; S c a r f , L o n g c h a m p . c a r d i g a n b y N a n e t t e L e p o r e ; D r e s s , CH C a r o l i n a H e r r e r a ; b a g , J é r ô m e D r e y f u s s
5 more country retreats El Cigarral de las Mercedes Toledo, Spain American expat Jayne Gunderson and her husband, Fernando Lleida Arcas, who comes from a distinguished line of Spanish hoteliers, turned a 5-hectare olive and citrus farm into a venue for weddings, then opened 21 rooms for overnight guests. Interiors combine mementos from the couple’s travels—French antique desks, Kenyan objets d’art—with furnishings handcrafted by Toledan artisans. Rendezvous spot The 200-year-old oak tree, overlooking Toledo and the historic estates along the banks of the Tagus River. 72 Crta. Piedrabuena; 34-925/252-064; cigarraldelasmercedes.com; doubles from €150. Aldeia da Cuada Azores, Portugal On this westernmost European archipelago, an abandoned 18th-century village of tumbledown stone cottages was renovated into a folksy rural getaway—lace curtains; iron
beds with homemade quilts— against a jaw-dropping landscape. Basalt paths lead to waterfalls and deep calderas known as the Seven Lakes, and the greenness of the surrounding valley resembles J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth. Best place for a picnic At one of the outdoor tables high above the Atlantic, with a loaf of bread and a wedge of cheese from the dairy in the nearby town of Fajãzinha. GREAT VALUE Flores; 351292/590-040; wonderfulland. com/cuada; doubles from €60. House of Jasmines Estancia de Charme Salta, Argentina Ancient eucalyptus trees flank a long and stately drive leading to the family-run estancia, 15 minutes outside Salta in Argentina’s subtropical northwest. Four new guest quarters (three of them suites) recently joined the 10 existing rooms, all furnished with exquisite taste by co-owner Stéphanie Fenestraz:
embroidered sheets; cowhide rugs; antique slipper chairs and love seats covered in white linen and draped with indigenous textiles. The sweet-smelling jasmine shrubs that give the property its name are joined by vegetable gardens and a fruit orchard. Place to lounge The sofas around the open hearth in the new La Table de House of Jasmines restaurant, which specializes in hearty cuisine— from locro stew to meat-filled empanadas. GREAT VALUE Km 11, Ruta Nacional No. 51, La Merced Chica; 54-387/4972002; houseofjasmines.com; doubles from US$230. E.B. Morgan House Aurora, New York One of two lakeside inns in buildings owned by Wells College, the 1858 former residence was reimagined, top to toe, by American Girl doll creator Pleasant Rowland—part of a one-woman beautification campaign in a historic Finger Lakes town. Splashes of persimmon, apricot and melon
energize rooms furnished with pieces from Rowland’s own collection. Most welcoming nook The firelit library, stocked with board games and books such as a volume of aerial photographs of Finger Lakes waterfalls. GREAT VALUE 431 Main St.; 1-315/364-8888; aurora-inn.com; doubles from US$175. Glen Oaks Big Sur Big Sur, California Just off California’s most dramatic stretch of coast, this recently expanded cluster of cabins and lodge rooms was made for sybaritic nature lovers. The setting sweeps from redwoodstudded hills to the banks of the Big Sur River, and sustainable touches such as bamboo floors and organic cottons stay true to the region’s eco-minded ethos. Bracing seaside stroll Head 7 kilometers to hidden Pfeiffer Beach, where the surf crashes against jagged rock formations along purple (yes, purple) sand. GREAT VALUE Hwy. 1; 1-831/6672105; glenoaksbigsur.com; doubles from US$155.
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GoldenEye Oracabessa, Jamaica
Jet-set bohemians and creative types have flocked to GoldenEye since the mid 20th century, when it was the clifftop retreat of Ian Fleming, who wrote many of his James Bond novels here. Fresh from a two-year overhaul courtesy of its current owner, Island Records founder Chris Blackwell, the property has morphed from private villa rental to fullfledged 22-room hotel. But thanks to Blackwell’s highly personal touch, the mood remains the same: a tropical playground for well-traveled expats from some latter-day Noël Coward play. Amid gardens of banyan and mango trees, the new waterfront cottages have ultramodern amenities (kitchen appliances by Renzo Piano) and design flourishes from Blackwell’s stylish friends (including Barbara Hulanicki of Biba and Pink Sands fame). Fleming’s original three-bedroom villa is available for booking and still features the writer’s own desk, carved out of Jamaican red bulletwood and surrounded by louvered windows looking out to the sea. Oracabessa Bay, St. Mary; 876/975-3354; goldeneye.com; doubles from US$536.
t h i s s p r e a d p h o t o g r a p h e d b y JESSICA SAMPLE
Seaside lullaby: Each room at GoldenEye comes with a sound system programmed with Island Records music, so you can let Bob Marley lull you to sleep
From top: Lounging on a daybed in one of GoldenEye’s new Beach villas; grilled lobster with jerk butter from chef Conroy Arnold; a veranda nook overlooking the lagoon. Opposite: Outside one of the new Lagoon suites, where the decks lead to the water’s edge.
5 more coastal getaways Turtle Beach Bungalows at Christophe Harbour St. Kitts Four hand-hewn wooden pavilions stretch along the sand dunes on quiet St. Kitts. Although it’s part of Christophe Harbour—ultimately destined to become a 1,011-hectare development with a 121hectare marina and an 18-hole, Tom Fazio–designed golf course—for now, this feels like a true hideaway, complete with private plunge pools and direct-from-your-patio access to the ocean. Top table Beach House, the hotel’s restaurant, is the best on the island, specializing in seafood from the Basseterre market (we recommend the wahoo tartare). Turtle Beach, Southeast Peninsula; 869/466-4557; turtlebeachbungalows.com; doubles from US$550. Rancho Pescadero Todos Santos, Mexico Live the life of a refined beach bum at this wellness-focused Baja Peninsula resort, owned by an American former CEO who traded the corporate world for a simpler life by the surf. Most of the 27 suites face the water, and shaded daybeds, swimming pools and mangrove trees dot the grounds. Guests get complimentary use of surfboards, boogie boards and bicycles for cavorting on land or sea. Morning jolt A smoothie of locally made yogurt and tropical fruit is a delicious refresher after a 9 a.m. yoga class in the oceanfront pavilion. GREAT VALUE Parcela No. 53, San Juan de Dios; 52-1612/ 135-5849; ranchopescadero. com; doubles from US$250, including breakfast and daily yoga classes. Cas’almare Favignana, Italy A simple cottage built from golden tuff stone was recently converted into this waterfront enclave on Sicily’s rugged, picturesque Favignana Island, a summer destination for Italians in the know. The intimate hotel—just five guest rooms, a breakfast room and a central living area awash in
soothing seaside colors—is furnished in chic Euro fashion (bold Ingo Maurer light fixtures and canopied beds with Bellora linens). Contemplate the turquoise Mediterranean from a teak table at the adjoining beach club, then take to the waters on one of the hotel’s two boats. Best spot to soak all day Room No. 4’s freestanding bathtub, perfectly positioned in front of the window to catch the ocean breeze. Strada Comunale Frascia; 39-335/ 492-929; casalmarefavignana. com; doubles from €200. Sankara Hotel & Spa Yakushima Yakushima, Japan A sense of mystery and magic pervades this secluded retreat on a southern Japanese island covered in old-growth cedars. The 28 airy suites and villas have teak furniture and rattan lamps fashioned by Balinese craftsmen, but interiors are decidedly Japanese, with sliding screens and delicate porcelain cups from Kyoto. Dinner for two Chef Chiharu Takei can craft personalized meals from locally sourced ingredients: a risotto of Asahi crab and bamboo shoots, for example, followed by grilled Nakayama sirloin in a yuzu-and-pepper sauce. 553 Haginoue, Mugio, Yakushima-cho, Kumagegun, Kagoshima; 81-997/473488; sankarahotel-spa.com; doubles from ¥42,000. Anantara Kihavah Villas Baa Atoll, Maldives A quick seaplane ride from the capital of Male lands you on a private island ringed by white sand, coconut palms and a reef that harbors colorful schools of tropical fish. Ask for an overwater villa, then dine at one of the world’s only underwater restaurants while gazing out at the ocean floor. Into the deep A dive master leads expeditions to search for gentle whale sharks in parts of the Indian Ocean beyond the Baa Atoll. 960/660-1020; anantara.com; doubles from US$1,170.
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shangri-la HOTEL PARIS
An eclectic gem, the newest Shangri-La was originally built for Prince Roland Bonaparte, Napoleon’s grandnephew, who took up residence at the hôtel particulier from 1896 until his death in 1924. Since then, it’s been carved up into luxury apartments (American decorator Elsie de Wolfe lived large here in the 1930’s); turned into a government building; then painstakingly restored in a manner worthy of its gilded, hand-painted, mosaicand mahogany-trimmed heyday. Interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon drew upon the Directoire and Empire periods—with a dash of Asian fusion—to appoint each of the 81 rooms and suites, reimagining them as Parisian pieds-à-terre. Half the rooms have Eiffel Tower views, and nearly that many (although none at entry-level rates) feature private terraces or balconies. The renovation’s biggest surprise: after being covered up for 55 years, a glass dome from 1929 now crowns La Bauhinia, one of the hotel’s three restaurants. 10 Ave. d’Iéna, 16th Arr.; 33-1/53-67-19-98; shangri-la.com; doubles from €750.
M o d e l : M i c h e l l e O u e l l e t / W o m e n M a n a g e m e n t . H a i r a n d M a k e u p : D o m i n i q u e G r e d i g u i /A g e n c e C a r o l e . A s s i s t a n t F a s h i o n E d i t o r : J e s s i e B a n d y. S t y l i s t ’ s A s s i s t a n t : S a r a h S t o r m s . c a r d i g a n , s k i r t , a n d s h o e s b y H e r m è s ; b a g , C a r t i e r ; S c a r f , T i f f a n y & C o . ; b e l t , S a lv a t o r e F e r r a g a m o
Most opulent space: The Shangri-La’s Panoramic Suite, with its glass walls and 100-squaremeter terrace
URBAN SPLENDOR From left: La Bauhinia restaurant
at the Shangri-La, Paris; an 1896 stained-glass window in the second-floor gallery; breakfast in bed in the Panoramic Suite. Opposite: Stepping out beneath the wrought-iron canopy at the hotel’s main entrance.
Fa r r i g h t : D r e s s b y D r i e s Va n N o t e n ; r i n g , k a r a b y k a r a r o s s ; wat c h , c a r t i e r
6 more city escapes Setai Fifth Avenue, a Capella Managed Hotel New York City The rush of midtown Manhattan becomes a hazy, glamorous blur from inside this cocoon of a hotel, a stellar example of streamlined maximalism (rosewood and marble flown in from Milan; walk-in closets big enough for a family of four). Part of a 60-story tower, the hotel features uniquely faceted windows angled downward for almost dizzying views of New York glittering at your feet. Hot and cold The Auriga spa is perfect for couples; relax in between treatments at the Aqua Lounge, which has an otherworldly hammam and a “chill room” with a trough of herb-infused ice. 400 Fifth Ave.; 1-212/695-4005; setaififthavenue.com; doubles from US$595. The Redbury Los Angeles The latest from developer Sam Nazarian of SLS Hotels, the 57-room Redbury gives guests
preferred access and car service to its buzzy sister properties— including XIV restaurant and the Colony nightclub. The splashy décor was masterminded by the hotel’s creative director, fashion photographer Matthew Rolston. Signature scent The Redbury’s own fragrance, a rich plumeria with Oriental notes, wafts through the building—and the valet-parking station. 1717 Vine St.; 1-323/962-1717; theredbury. com; doubles from US$299. Centurion Palace Venice It’s a canal-side palazzo with a twist: Each of the 50 rooms in the 19th-century monastery turned merchant’s residence—located on one of the best spots on the Grand Canal—forsakes traditional grandeur for a design-forward sensibility, thanks to bleachedwood floors and sinuous, vibrantly hued sofas. Best for secret serenades The echoing arcade in the courtyard, centered around an ancient well and a bamboo garden.
Dorsoduro 173; 39-41/34281; centurionpalacevenezia.com; doubles from €198. Soho House Berlin The creative energy is palpable at this boho 40-room boutique hotel, once home to the Communist Party archives and now the most fashionable address in the arty Mitte district. Coziest quarters While certainly not the largest, the attic rooms— with fire-engine red bed frames and rain showers— have a quirky La Bohème feel. GREAT VALUE 1 Torstrasse; 49-30/405-0440; sohohouse berlin.com; doubles from €150. Straits Collection Penang, Malaysia Capitalizing on the city’s evocative history, owner Narelle McMurtrie converted two rows of Chinese shop houses into 10 suites that call to mind early20th-century Asia. Antique doors inset with colored glass, latticed wood dividers, and a reading room in a former coffee roastery,
along with the sounds of trishaws passing by, add era-appropriate ambience. Movie night Asian films are projected each evening in the courtyard of the hotel’s Kopi Cine Café. GREAT VALUE 47–51 Stewart Lane and 89–95 Armenian St., Georgetown; 60-4/263-7299; straitscollection.com; doubles from RM420. Palais Amani Fez, Morocco Ensconced in the heart of the medina, this riad underwent a 3½-year restoration that enhanced its existing features— mosaic-adorned walls and floors in Fez’s signature shade of vibrant blue—with copper work, embroidery and calligraphy from some of the most skilled artisans in town. Prime lookout Misriah 2, accessed by a mosaicked staircase, is the only room with a rooftop terrace and expansive views of the medina. GREAT VALUE 12 Derb El Miter, Oued Zhoune, Hay Blida; 212-535/633-209; palaisamani. com; doubles from US$175.
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Arkaba Station Flinders Ranges National Park, Australia
Deep in the South Australian outback, 4 hours from Adelaide, Arkaba Station—a 19th-century sheep ranch turned luxury lodge—feels remote enough for most. But for an even more thorough immersion in the landscape, the 1856 homestead’s walking safaris may just be the ultimate means of getting away from it all. Guides Kat Mee and Brendon Bevan lead groups of up to eight on a four-day, 48-kilometer route through Flinders Ranges National Park, known for its centuries-old river red gum trees and hills covered in pompon-like golden wattle. (Your bags await each evening at camp, along with a three-course dinner and a hot outdoor shower.) Plush beds and feather duvets on open-air wooden platforms ensure a good night’s rest, although the wilderness doesn’t lack for background noise: Listen for the call of kookaburras and magpies at dawn and dusk, a kind of outback melody. Star struck The constellations never seemed so bright; ask your guide to point out the Southern Cross and Scorpio, which shimmer across a huge swath of sky. 612/9571-6399; arkabastation.com; from A$2,000 per person for a four-day tour, all-inclusive. ✚
5 more epic adventures
From top: A cozy room at The Ranch at Rock Creek; Olarro is on the Masai Mara in Kenya; the El Mapi Hotel bar at Machu Picchu. Opposite: Sundown at Arkaba Station in Flinders Ranges National Park.
f r o m to p : c o u r t e s y o f r a n c h at r o c k c r e e k ; c o u r t e s y o f o l a r r o ; c o u r t e s y o f e l m a p i h ot e l . o p p o s i t e : c o u r t e s y o f a r k a b a s tat i o n
Before dinner, choose your own wine from the lodge’s South Australian wine cellar
Ranch at Rock Creek Philipsburg, Montana It’s a 162-kilometer drive from Missoula International Airport to this 2,670-hectare spread, but the posh high-mountain pampering is worth it. Ponds are full of trout, cabins come with well-stocked wine fridges and claw-foot tubs, and spa treatments are tailor-made for two. Cabin to book Built from fallen wood, the secluded Trapper Tent has its own hot tub, gas fireplace and etchedglass windows overlooking Rock Creek. 79 Carriage House Lane; 1-406/859-6098; theranchatrockcreek.com; from US$900 per person, including meals and most activities. Hotel Kakslauttanen & Igloo Village Saariselkä, Finland In the vast Lapland wilderness, towering pines loom above 40 fireplace-equipped log cabins and 20 domed “igloos” of thermal glass. From December through April, you can also stay in one of eight real igloos built from snow and equipped with down sleeping bags. The real draw is the almost surreal setting from which to watch the northern lights—currently on the rise until this cycle’s peak in 2015. Elopement alert The seasonal snow chapel provides a fairy-tale mood for a winter wedding (Finnish ceremony and wedding cake optional). GREAT VALUE 13 Kiilopääntie; 358-16/667-100; kakslauttanen. fi; doubles from €141. El MaPi Hotel Machu Picchu Cuzco, Peru A façade decorated with eucalyptus branches marks the entrance to Inkaterra’s newest property, a more affordable alternative to the group’s Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. It’s an ideal getaway for couples whose idea of romance is a high-altitude trek: the stripped-down yet
comfortable rooms don’t distract from the beauty just beyond your door, and the breakfast buffet is loaded with hiker-friendly fare. Alfresco bath time At night, head for the natural hot spring ringed by tiny candles. GREAT VALUE 109 Avda. Pachacutec, Machu Picchu Pueblo; 51-1/610-0404; elmapihotel.com; doubles from US$200. Rasa Jaipur, India Channel a modern-day maharajah in one of 40 futuristic tented cubes at this cutting-edge Rajasthani compound. Each canvaswalled structure comes with wrought-iron lanterns, an oversize four-poster bed and an open-air pavilion, with the awe-inspiring Amber Fort as a backdrop. Mood lighting Paper-thin latticework curtains act as alluring filters for the sun’s rays. Kunda, NH-8, Tehsil Amer District; 91-124/488-8011; sterlinghotels.com; doubles from Rs16,000. Olarro Masai Mara, Kenya On a hill in a private reserve within the Maji Moto Group Ranch, owned by the local Masai people, this eco-lodge was designed by Anthony Russell, the architectconservationist behind the award-winning Shompole. The curvaceous thatched-roof structure, built to blend in with the undulating landscape, houses seven guest cottages with whitewashed walls, exposed beams and polished flagstone floors. Amazing race The lodge borders the area’s wildebeest migration route. Get a front-row seat on your veranda, or book a helicopter ride for a bird’s-eye view of the action. Masai Mara National Reserve; 254-721/921-966; olarrokenya.com; doubles from US$1,370, all-inclusive.
reported by Nicole Alper, Jennifer Chen, Christine Ciarmello, Alice Gordon, Jaime Gross, Tina Isaac, Stirling Kelso, Alison Miller, Shane Mitchell, Kathryn O’Shea-Evans, Dorkys Ramos and Ed Stocker.
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Out in the Real World
Off in a far-flung corner of Cambodia in the Cardamom Mountains, Naomi Lindt encounters a blank spot on her travel map—and ends up enjoying the solitude of an unforgettable trip. Photographed by john mcdermott
I Into the wild near 4 Rivers Floating Lodge.
t is a morning much like any other in Phnom Penh. Men in button-down shirts sipping iced coffee at outdoor cafés, women bustling around food markets, kids astride motor-bikes in blue-and-white uniforms, heading to school. But as I navigate the morning rush to catch the 7.45 a.m. bus to Koh Kong, I have butterflies in my stomach. Not only am I bound for six days in one of Cambodia’s least-developed corners (which is saying a lot in a country that still lags far behind its neighbors), but I am headed to a hidden village along the banks of a river at the foot of the untouched southern Cardamom Mountains, a place few foreigners visit. Alone. Here’s what I know: An environmental group called the Wildlife Alliance works with village residents to set up an ecotourism project in a village called Chi Phat. I’ve read about intriguing projects like these springing up around Cambodia. I’ll stay with a local family and spend the next two days trekking to a waterfall and swimming in some supposedly friendly rapids. I also know that I’ve never enjoyed roughing it, let alone in one of Southeast Asia’s most remote corners. Will there be any other tourists? Will the local food be okay to eat? What will my sleeping arrangements be like? Will tigers and giant snakes come looking for me in the night? » travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 107
As the bus rumbles southwest, the friendly pace of rural Cambodia take over. Golden rice fields are dotted with jagged coconut trees and stilted wooden houses. Smiling children on bicycles roll past my window, while passengers hum along to sappy karaoke videos playing on an overhead TV to catchy Khmer pop songs. It’s not long before my anxiety gives way to that particular kind of excitement that comes with knowing that you’ve embarked on an adventure. Four hours later, I get off the bus at Anduong Tuek, the transit point to the Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism site, where a few shacks sell dusty cans of sodas and bags of dried fruit alongside the river. A lone young man holds up a white plastic board that reads, “Welcome, Ms. Naomi.” I can’t help but chuckle—out here, in the middle of nowhere, there’s not another foreigner in sight. The two-hour ride down the Stung Proat River in the basic wooden boat is idyllic. Under a robin-egg blue sky dotted with tufts of clouds, we pass thick mangroves and huge ferns that stretch out over the river’s banks. Birds soar overhead. When I lose mobile phone reception, it is utterly silent other than the sound of the boat’s engine. We arrive at Chi Phat in the early afternoon, welcomed by a bevy of little kids trailed by chicks and scraggly puppies. Red clouds of dust follow me as I wheel my Samsonite down the dirt road to check in at the ecotourism office, an open-air structure made of bamboo and shaded by soaring palm trees.
ith its remote location and popularity among Khmer Rouge insurgents in the 1980’s and 1990’s, life in Chi Phat hasn’t exactly been easy for the 550 families who live here. Cut off from the rest of the world and with no other way to support themselves, they’d looked to the forest to make ends meet, hunting wildlife or chopping down trees. Chi Phat is in the heart of one of Southeast Asia’s largest remaining tracts of rainforest, providing shelter to more than 100 different mammals, including at least 60 threatened species. This biological diversity attracted the likes of the Wildlife Alliance, which has spent nearly 10 years working in Chi Phat to stem the environmental destruction while providing villagers with alternative sources of income. Ecotourism emerged as the best solution, offering visitors the chance to experience the area’s incredible beauty, solitude and natural bounty while offering locals the chance to host them and make a living in the process. Families were given grants to equip their simple, wooden homes to accommodate foreigners (latrines with running water being a must; showers entail a large drum of water and a can), while others, intimately familiar with the jungle and its waterfalls, caves and villages, now lead treks and overnight stays in the jungle. Within an hour of arriving in Chi Phat, most of my fears have been allayed. I meet my host family, a petite woman »
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Another calm day in Chi Phat. Clockwise from above: Curious kids gather in the village; at 4 Rivers Floating Lodge; the resort has 12 tented rooms; cycling through Chi Phat’s countryside; nightfall at the lodge; 4 Rivers’ sophisticated fare.
every night at 9 p.m., the village shuts down its power. iâ€™ve never seen the sky filled with so many stars. leaving the village, i promise to come back
named Sokha wearing a sarong and her three adorable children, who practice their English with barely contained excitement. My room is basic—a bed, a mosquito net, a flashlight—but clean and comfortable. There are at least a dozen other tourists milling about, mostly Europeans in cargo pants and hiking boots, including a young Swedish woman named Katrin traveling through Southeast Asia on her own. Though I’m nearly twice her age, we pair up for our time in Chi Phat, heading out the next day for a 10-kilometer trek to a waterfall hidden down endless grassy, butterflyfilled fields about two hours from the village. And luckily, no beasts come to hunt me down, but the huge grunting pigs at my homestay do get my heart pounding every now and then. The surrounding nature is amazing—I’ll never forget the final rays of the sun I saw beaming through the clouds atop a hill at Bold Mountain, nor the swim Katrin and I took with the waterfall crashing overhead—but being invited into rural Cambodian life is equally, if not more, memorable (although I could live without the roosters at 5 a.m.). The villagers’ warmth is palpable: they smile as tourists walk along the village’s single road taking pictures of their colorful, bougainvillea-edged wooden homes and water buffaloes. Every night at 9 p.m., the village shuts down its power. I’ve never seen the sky filled with so many stars. Leaving the peaceful village, I promise myself to come back. Though I’d fallen for Chi Phat’s quiet rhythms, I was more than a little excited to arrive at 4 Rivers Floating Lodge, which opened in 2009 along the Tatai River. Though it’s just an hour’s drive further west from Chi Phat, the luxurious, European-run resort feels worlds away. As the boat turns a corner and the resort comes into view, a collective hush of disbelief falls over the passengers. The 12-room hotel and its restaurant are housed in white, peaked, South Africanthemed tents, all of which float on the water along a bend in the river, like a mirage. My room has a king-size bed topped by a fluffy duvet, two chairs made of woven rattan and a coffee table, a rain shower, and a TV and a DVD player. Best of all, I have my own deck with lounge chairs, an umbrella and ladder with direct access to the quiet river. The property is the first hotel of this caliber to open in Koh Kong. I spend an afternoon enjoying the sun and swimming, with a light lunch of fresh spring rolls and papaya salad. The lodge is not the place to come for those seeking days filled with adrenaline-charged activity. Beyond the group excursion that heads out everyday, there’s simply nowhere to go. Today’s group journey is to the Tatai Waterfall, which cascades four meters down staggered rocks that create perfect swimming pools and nooks for pounding water massages; the other including a visit to a mangrove forest and local village. Other than that, the mostly European clientele couples spent their time reading, swimming and decompressing from everyday life. With so few distractions, food and drink take on supreme importance. There’s a sommelier-curated wine list and 110 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
around 9 p.m. i meet up with chili, the hotel’s knowledgeable tour guide, for a nocturnal kayak trip. we paddle in darkness along the river through banks lined with thick trees. the only sounds are the splash of our paddles and chirping crickets Transport at Rainbow Lodge. Clockwise from below: Dusk at 4 Rivers; creature comforts at the resort; one of Rainbow Lodge’s tranquil viewing points.
varied cocktail list, and every night sees a different threecourse set menu prepared (two options for each course, one Western, one Asian), with sophisticated fare like beef in red wine sauce, chicken curry with vanilla pasta, and Cambodia’s famous fish amok, a parcel of fish and coconut milk steamed in a banana leaf. After ending my dinner with some white chocolate mousse and a digestif, around 9 p.m. I meet up with Chili, the hotel’s knowledgeable tour guide, for a nocturnal kayak trip. We paddle in darkness along the river through banks lined with thick trees. The only sounds are the splash of our paddles and chirping crickets. Then we reach the main attraction. Thousands, if not millions, of fireflies light up the trees in unison. They gather in giant, blinking groups. The kayaking proves so much fun that I find myself in another boat at my final stop in Koh Kong, Rainbow Lodge, which pioneered tourism in this area when it opened in early 2008. The chatty, quirky owner, Janet Newman, was so captivated with the Cardamoms’ wild beauty after spending 10 weeks volunteering in a nearby national park that she bought a tract of land and set up a seven-room ecolodge, whose thatched bungalows are tucked away in the forest upstream from the 4 Rivers. Janet has done wonders in making the place environmentally responsible. She generates most of the power from solar panels and minimizes waste by asking guests to do simple things like reuse water bottles. She and her partner, Gee, are well-versed in the area’s flora and fauna, dutifully cataloging its birds, insects and bees. They also keep a small library with books on the subject. Where Chi Phat is rough and authentically Cambodian, and 4 Rivers provides a plush, escapist fantasy in the wilderness, Rainbow Lodge strikes the perfect balance between the two. Rustic and still comfortable, and submerged in nature yet offering fantastic homemade food and a full bar, it manages to combine creature comforts with adventure. The fact that the place is home to several cuddly cats and dogs doesn’t hurt either; they lend the place a welcoming, sociable feel where guests chitchat over the nightly communal meals, which are served in an open-air pavilion populated by huge geckos and furnished with wooden tables and rattan couches. I meet up with Katrin, the young Swede, ready for more adventures. We kayak along the glassy river in the late afternoon, en route to yet another waterfall. But as soon as we reach our destination, navigating the kayak into a gap in the rocks, the sky opens up and unleashes sheets of » travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 111
Kayaking through the regionâ€™s wild beauty. Opposite: Enjoying the quiet rhythms of Chi Phat. travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 105
as we near the resort and the storm slows, weâ€™re rewarded with a rainbow stretching above the trees. itâ€™s the first of three i see during my stay
Private comforts in a far-flung corner of Cambodia. Clockwise from above: A shady spot to relax in Chi Phat; smiling staff at 4 Rivers; waterfalls abound in this part of the country; a simple Chi Phat guesthouse.
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torrential rain. We then huddle under a clutch of bamboo trees, waiting out the storm. Growing tired of waiting, we decide to paddle back. The rain is pleasantly warm and forms beautiful rings and tiny pools in every direction on the surface of the water. As we near the resort and the storm slows, we’re rewarded with a rainbow stretching above the trees. It’s the first of three I see during my stay. The next day, we head across the river to a local village of rickety wooden homes interconnected by precarious footbridges and edged by vast rice fields. Water buffaloes are submerged in the mud up to their heads—refuge from the heat. At one of the houses, we exchange a few halting English/Khmer pleasantries with an old man wrapped in a checkered sarong and sporting a long, white beard à la Ho Chi Minh. He has one of those faces that make you wonder about all that he’s witnessed during his lifetime in Koh Kong. We spend another few hours exploring the river’s hidden passages by kayak, paddling by curious fishermen and locals shuttling back and forth from the market in Koh Kong town with baskets of glistening fish and vegetables. As dusk approaches, Katrin and I join a group of guests for a final sunset cruise. As I look out over the water while sipping a can of cold Angkor beer, the sun casts the sky in shades of gold and lavender as lightning bolts light up the horizon. There’s nowhere else in the world I’d rather be. ✚
Getting There The Southern Cardamoms Protected Forest is in Cambodia’s southwestern province of Koh Kong, halfway between Bangkok and Phnom Penh by road. Coming from Phnom Penh, you’ll cross four bridges in Koh Kong: the second, at Anduong Tuek and 190 kilometers from the capital, is the transit point to Chi Phat, while the third, 80 kilometers further at Tatai, accesses 4 Rivers and Rainbow Lodge. Several bus companies operate twice-daily departures from Phnom Penh that stop on request; one-way from US$7. Easier and quicker is a private car, costing around US$70 each way. Private transport is also a convenient way to travel point to point. Hanuman Tourism (hanuman. travel) can arrange the entire trip, but prices are significantly higher than booking on your own, particularly at Chi Phat. Stay Rooms in Chi Phat’s basic homestays and guesthouses cost US$3 to US$5 per person. You’ll get a bed, Western toilet and loads of Cambodian hospitality. ccben.org. 4 Rivers Floating Lodge The dozen 45-square-meter tented double and twin rooms feature private decks with sun loungers, sofas, DVD players and wooden floors. Tatai Village; 855-97/ 6434-032; ecolodges.asia; doubles from US$118. Rainbow Lodge Seven thatched bungalows have beds built of
wooden logs and burgundy-tiled balconies hung with hammocks overlooking the trees. Tatai Village; 855-99/744-321; rainbowlodgecambodia.com; doubles US$65, including board. Eat There are no restaurants in the area beyond basic roadside eateries. Meals are charged individually at Chi Phat and served communally. Breakfast US$2.50; lunch and dinner US$3.50. 4 Rivers Choose from an à la carte menu or a sophisticated three-course set dinner. Dinner for two US$38. Rainbow Lodge Three generous meals per day are included in the room rate. Food is vegetarian-friendly and focuses on fresh ingredients. Do Chi Phat Community-Based Ecotourism Office Book guided treks, mountain-biking excursions and overnight stays in the jungle directly with the office on arrival or by e-mail (from US$7 per person). 4 Rivers Offers one guided itinerary each day, visiting sites like the Tatai Waterfall, a local school or a mangrove forest (US$25). The free nightly kayak to see lightning bugs is a must. Rainbow Lodge The lodge arranges a host of guided treks, boat trips and overnight jungle stays (from US$15). There are also free kayaks and plenty of trails to explore on your own.
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Dublin The Spirit of
Wandering the narrow streets and crowded pubs, meeting artists, novelists, cooks and assorted raconteurs, Gini Alhadeff finds that even in trying economic times, Dublin is thriving. Photographed by Cedric Angeles
Dublin’s Cake Café owner Michelle Darmody and her team. Opposite: The Ha’penny Bridge over the river Liffey.
Novelist John Banville at Archbishop Marsh’s Library, built in 1701, left. A lunch platter at the Winding Stair, below.
ublin is a city of stories. I heard the tale of the man who lives in a trailer, worked as a tailor on film sets and was studying the law, for instance; of the mystic who gave up a university post in Canada to be a gardener till the end of his days. I heard the tale of Mrs. Chairbre, who could hold 12 people spellbound with one bottle and her conversation at a pub; the day she died she was laid out at the pub itself while people stood vigil all night long by her open casket, drinking and telling stories. As I listened to the radio while riding in cabs, it seemed as if an author was always being interviewed, and I thought of what the novelist Colm Tóibín had told me: “America may have Hollywood and Wall Street, the French may have their food, wine and culture, but the Irish have their writers!” No. 1 Merrion Square was where Oscar Wilde lived from 1855 to 1876, and a monument, right across the street from his former residence, has him reclining in a green jacket with quilted lapels, one leg propped up, on a pink rock so huge he looks like a splayed insect. The blackened bronze figure of 118 february 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com
James Joyce—thin and wiry, in a longish coat, with a stick, thick glasses and his crumpled, wide-brimmed hat worn at an angle—on North Earl Street is dignified by comparison. But these were just statues: I actually met a few of Ireland’s great living writers, among them the Booker Prize winner John Banville, a mischievous man in a suit and tie and a long, undulating blue scarf. His studio is just steps away from the Winding Stair, the restaurant where we met, and from the dainty, lacelike frame of the Ha’penny Bridge across which I’d walked. There really aren’t many better ways to have lunch than overlooking the Liffey with a fresh, char-grilled mackerel on your plate. Banville was telling me about the moment when he knew that Ireland was no longer the place his American wife, Janet, had first known in the 1970’s. Nostalgic for a hamburger, she had ordered one and a “thin gray thing” had arrived. “We had little apart from potatoes, cabbage and corned beef then,” Banville said. Things changed in 1992, “when we discovered that Bishop Casey—a big star when Pope John Paul came here—had had a mistress, that he had a 17-year old son, and had borrowed 70,000 pounds from the parish funds to pay her off. When that story broke we just said, ‘The priests are gone. Let’s start having fun.’ The Celtic Tiger was born out of Bishop Casey’s loins.”
Clockwise from left: Inside the Winding Stair’s downstairs bookstore; a sculpture by Bernar Venet at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; frosted treats at the Cake Café; Francis Bacon’s studio, preserved at The Hugh Lane gallery.
The Irish economic boom started in the mid-90’s and began to fizzle in the fall of 2008. With unemployment now at 12 percent and public debt on the rise, Ireland has suffered badly during the global recession. Nonetheless, the food was delicious—no “thin gray things” here. And no economic downturn, furthermore, is going to change the fact that conversation is the main commodity in this city.
ut the window of the winding stair the sky threatened a little rain, humidity seemed pervasive, women wore mostly black. All morning the sun had been unwilling to do more than flash itself between clouds, yet I was in thrall to its perfect light, which played like a silvery high note against rushing clusters of menacing cumuli—meant for other countries, not Ireland. Banville looked out. “I love this kind of weather,” he said. “You can get six seasons in one day.” It seemed to me that the sky was practicing how to do with light what Dubliners do with words. No sooner had I landed at the stately and very cozy Merrion Hotel, in the heart of Georgian Dublin, than I set off to meet Antony Farrell, founder and editor of Lilliput Press, which publishes
mostly Irish writers. From his roof, Farrell pointed out how much the Bay of Killiney resembled the Bay of Naples, with Sugar Loaf Mountain on one end standing in for Vesuvius. We could see the Guinness brewery right across the river, a huddle of tall, bulky cylinders with shining white caps producing what goes here by the sobriquet Vitamin G. Downstairs, we stopped in at a tiny shop called Lilliput Stores, one of the many new outlets in Dublin offering delicately prepared organic food, and I went on to visit the Eileen Gray exhibition at the National Museum of Ireland’s decorative arts collection, an imposing 1702 Neoclassical complex. The show included family photographs, correspondence, lacquerware, tools and most of the pieces for which this Modernist is best remembered. I encountered two of my old design favorites there—the E-1027, Gray’s perfect little round table in glass and tubular steel, and her side table with metal trays that can be used to empty out one’s pockets, or deposit a little book. And then it was time for drinks. At Buswell’s, not far from my hotel and the luxuriant patch of riotous gentle vegetation at the center of Dublin that is St. Stephen’s Green, I headed for an empty table at the Georgian bar, all deep red brocade and mahogany. » travelandleisureasia.com | february 2011 119
I’d been worrying about my teetotaling in Dublin. How would I fare in a city of drink, as I imagined it? A fair-skinned waitress came by to wipe the water rings off the table before me and I asked her, “What does one order if one does not drink?” She tilted her head: “You could always have wine.” My brother, who is married to an Irish woman, said he once found himself at a pub with eight shots of whiskey lined up before him—he hadn’t been able to keep up. At the long and narrow Cobblestone pub, in Smithfield, in the early evening and then again after dinner, musicians took turns depositing tall pints of Guinness before each member of the band. I decided that a Guinness, with its thick, coffeecolored foam, is the alcoholic cousin of a cappuccino. The harmonium player next to me banged his foot down hard to the beat. It was like being near a running engine, practically inside it, and the part of me that swayed my backbone and jittered my feet participated in the irrepressible production of rhythm. One man on a bar stool, who looked like the grizzled singer Joe Cocker, suddenly launched into a ballad about a sailor who puts in at a Spanish port where women with “dark eyes and dark hair” will “give you some more” even when “all your money is spent.” I couldn’t stop watching the intent faces of the two fiddlers, a man and a woman: they sat stock-still except for their arms and hands.
arly next morning I stood by the tall brick-and-copper façade of the Clarence Hotel, which was restored to its understated Arts and Crafts splendor in 1992. The hotel’s owners include U2’s Bono and The Edge. A man in a top hat and tails materialized at my elbow. On closer inspection, I recognized the friend I had come to meet: the artist David McDermott, of the team McDermott & McGough, whose art mostly consists of pretending to live in preindustrial times, which includes moving through life in gentlemanly Victorian attire and making photographs and paintings. McDermott is an American of Irish origin; he became an Irish citizen after moving to Dublin more than a decade ago. What inspired him was the conviction that the city was a place where “you could get up, have your cup of tea, walk in the mist or rain, come home and read a book—a place where you could be a scholar.” He’d come to the right place because Dublin functioned as an old-fashioned city. He’d offered to take me on a walking tour, and we began in the Temple Bar neighborhood, with its narrow cobblestoned streets and brick buildings. It is considered Dublin’s “cultural” quarter, with as many as 20 galleries, but also the Stock Exchange and probably a few too many pubs. One of the oldest, the Stag’s Head, on Dame Court, has stained-glass windows, a massive mahogany bar and a snug—a small, enclosed space where women in the 18th century could drink and not be seen. Dublin is a hardworking town, which may be why, on Saturday nights, the streets flow with liquor and the sidewalks sway with revelers.
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After St. George’s Arcade, a vaulted and skylighted mall, and the Powerscourt Townhouse, filled with cafés and shops selling antique jewelry, we entered a narrow alley and found Bewley’s Café. In the back were stained-glass windows, designed by the early-20th-century craftsman Harry Clarke, glowing with parrots and feathery foliage. Clarke was inspired by the windows of Chartres Cathedral and is thought to have died, at just over 40 years of age, from using toxic chemicals in stained-glass production. Suddenly, on South Anne Street, I came upon one of Dublin’s modern landmarks—the racing-green storefront of Sheridan’s Cheesemongers. It was freezing inside, and the women working there seemed to be swaddled in several layers of clothing. The cheeses were displayed on long wooden tables and kept at a constant temperature of around 10 degrees Celsius—to ensure the “cheesiness of the cheese,” I was informed. I bought some St. Tola, an organic raw goat cheese made by Siobhan Ni Ghairbhith (I still wonder how to pronounce this) in Inagh, County Clare and some Gubbeen, a washed-rind cow’s milk semisoft cheese made by Bill and Giana Ferguson in Schull, West Cork. When I emerged, my teeth chattering, the air outside felt almost tropical. I walked around St. Stephen’s Green and Hume Street. The elegant Georgian houses had sober, whitewashed brick façades. There is an atmosphere of grandeur and ruin that hovers over some of these houses: on Henrietta Street, Dublin’s most intact Georgian quarter, the neighborhood’s changing fortunes have forced it to relinquish some of its gentility. But the buildings remain beautiful.
’d been told about Michelle Darmody’s Cake Café, a restaurant in the Portobello neighborhood: the building was designed to be sustainable and with materials that were apparently “healthy and organic,” as indeed is the food. I sat outside, though it was drizzling and damp, because by then I was fairly addicted to that kind of weather. A woman with a baby strapped to her waist said something to the waiter and he returned with a hot-water bottle, not an unusual sight in Dublin. (Hotwater bottles in snug white Aran knits are even for sale at the gift shop of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Anglican church where Jonathan Swift, of Gulliver’s Travels, is buried.) My white-turnip-and-tarragon soup had a faint fragrance of cloves and, after all that walking in the rain, was the perfect thing. Then a plate of delicious “snowflake” ginger cookies came—small, moist, dark and packed with ginger. Everything was served on mismatched china. There were more instances of Dublin’s interest in simple, locally grown food in the days to follow—at the Mermaid Café, with its schoolroom-like atmosphere; at the intimate Gruel; and, of course, at the Winding Stair, one of the most inviting public rooms in Dublin precisely because it is plain and unadorned. Clad in a raincoat and beret the next day I mounted a bicycle and set off for the Irish Museum of Modern Art, set »
city views Clockwise from left: The 18th-century-style gardens at Dublin’s Merrion Hotel; a guest room at the hotel; the scene at Sin è Pub, near the Temple Bar neighborhood; hake from the open kitchen at the Mermaid Café, in Dublin City Centre; Antony Farrell, founder and editor of Lilliput Press, in his central Dublin apartment; a view of the Grand Canal, along Mespil Road; the artist David McDermott in his former home; the O’Connell Bridge; Kerryming Sun at Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, which sells Irish farmhouse varieties.
Along Fleet Street in Dublinâ€™s Temple Bar neighborhood.
in beautiful formal gardens. IMMA commissions site-specific works by an international roster of contemporary artists and displays them in a vast set of buildings that were once the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, founded in 1684. One building, where the stables used to be, now houses a set of studios in which artists are invited to live and work for a time. The installation of Francis Bacon’s studio at the Hugh Lane Gallery is the next best thing to visiting the studio of a living artist. Bacon was born in Dublin, and his working space of 31 years in London—the original walls, floors, door, ceilings and shelves— was transplanted here precisely as it was found after his death. There are 100 slashed canvases, 1,500 photographs and many paint-splattered brushes. The installation, done with the assistance of archaeologists, is a work of art in itself, and there is something macabre and moving about this display of arrested furious energy. I visited the Long Room library at Trinity, where one man waving a hand at the expanse of shelves packed with books from floor to ceiling asked the guard, “They read ’em, do they?” and the guard nodded gravely. I walked through Trinity campus, where Beckett admitted in a letter to feeling at home for the first time. At Marsh’s Library, Ireland’s first to be open to the public, I met Muriel McCarthy, the current librarian, a gray-eyed woman with a brooch twinkling from beneath one shoulder. She told me the story of the library’s
founder, the Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, who believed that everyone should have access to books on medicine, law, science, travel, navigation, mathematics, music, classical literature and, of course, theology. He hired a 19-year-old niece to be his housekeeper, but she stole out of her room one night to be with the vicar of Castleknock in a tavern, and was “bedded there with him—Lord consider my affliction,” Marsh wrote. She later regretted her actions and, it is said, wrote her uncle a letter, which she slipped between the pages of a book that he never could find. “His ghost haunts the library searching through the books for that letter,” McCarthy said. I would have liked to see Samuel Beckett’s telephone at the Dublin Writers Museum, but on my last day, a cup of thick Irish tea in one hand, I couldn’t help lingering over the Irish Independent’s farming supplement, where I read an article about breeding techniques, ewes, rams and lambs. It made me feel close to the source of food and of language. Before going to sleep that night I remembered Beckett in Molloy on the subject of the moon: “That movements of an extreme complexity were taking place seemed certain, and yet what a simple thing it seemed, that vast yellow light sailing slowly behind my bars and which little by little the dense wall devoured, and finally eclipsed.” Here was a sanatorium for the mind, I thought. Nothing really matters more in Dublin than spirits, and spirits to keep those spirits kindled. ✚
guide to dublin GREAT VALUE Clarence Hotel 6-8 Wellington Quay; 353-1/4070800; theclarence.ie; doubles from €139, including breakfast.
Four Seasons Hotel In Ballsbridge, an elegant residential area. Simmonscourt Rd.; 3531/665-4000; fourseasons.com; doubles from €239. Merrion Hotel Book a room in the main building for high ceilings and views. Dublin city center, 21 Upper Merrion St.; 3531/603-0600; merrionhotel.com; doubles from €199. EAT AND DRINK Bewley’s Café 78-79 Grafton St.; 353-1/672-7720; dinner for two €30. Cake Café 62 Pleasants Place, off Camden St.; 353-1/478-9394; lunch for two €20. Cobblestone Smithfield Square; 353-1/872-1799; beers for two €7. Gruel A faster take on Mermaid Café. 68a Dame St.; 353-1/6707119; lunch for two €13. Jack Carvill & Sons An old liquor
store with a beveled-glass cashier’s booth. 39 Lower Camden St.; 353-1/475-1791.
Sheridan’s Cheesemongers 11 S. Anne St.; 353-1/679-3143. Stag’s Head 1 Dame Court; 3531/679-3687. Tea Room at the Clarence Hotel The prettiest room in Dublin. 6-8 Wellington Quay; 353-1/4070813; afternoon tea for two €30. Temple Bar Market Local baked goods and produce. 353-1/6772255; templebar.ie; open Saturdays. Winding Stair 40 Lower Ormond Quay; 353-1/872-7320; dinner for two €110. SEE AND DO Arbour Hill Cemetery The resting place of 14 of the executed leaders of the insurrection of 1916. Arbour Hill; 353-1/821-3021.
R i ve r L i ffey
Lilliput Stores Coffee shop and gourmet grocery. 5 Rosemount Terrace; 353-1/672-9516. Mermaid Café 69–70 Dame St.; 353-1/670-8236; dinner for two €70.
Guinness Storehouse Irish Museum of Modern Art Atlantic Ocean
Trinity College Campus
St. Stephen’s Green
Merrion Square Hume St.
National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History Collins Barracks, Benburb St.; 353-1/677-7444.
Long Room Library at Trinity College College Green; 3531/896-1000; tcd.ie/library.
Guinness Storehouse St. James’s Gate; 353-1/408-4800; guinnessstorehouse.com.
Archbishop Marsh’s Library St. Patrick’s Close; 353-1/454-3511; marshlibrary.ie.
Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane Francis Bacon’s studio. Charlemont House, Parnell Square N.; 353-1/222-5550.
National Gallery of Ireland A standout collection of European masters. Merrion Square W.; 3531/661-5133; nationalgallery.ie.
Irish Museum of Modern Art Royal Hospital, Military Rd.; 353-
St. Patrick’s Cathedral 353-1/ 453-9472; stpatrickscathedral.ie.
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favorite place by Dani Shapiro
West London’s River Café; designer Paul Smith; the restaurant’s spaghetti with bottarga and cherry tomatoes.
“I’ve been dining at the River Café since the beginning, before it became the famous restaurant it is today. It started out, more than twenty years ago, as the office canteen for the architect Richard Rogers, because there was nowhere to eat near the Hammersmith Bridge, in West London. It’s still run by his wife, Ruth Rogers. Very quickly, the place became a haven for British writers, actors, architects and artists. “The cooking was wonderful from the start, of course, but the River Café has also always been a true pioneer when it comes to the quality of its ingredients, whether it’s wild salmon, char-grilled calamari or really proper fresh pasta. Once a year, many of the staffers— young, good-looking men and women who are quite knowledgeable about food—go to Italy and select the olive oil and wine they’ll feature in the restaurant. “To this day, when I’m home in London, tired from a tremendous amount of traveling, I go there and feel very welcomed. Even though the River Café is always buzzing, the staffers immediately ask me how I am, where I’ve been. There’s the sense that interesting people are all around. You don’t actually know this, but you can feel it.” ✚ Designer Paul Smith recently opened a women’s shop at Claridge’s, in Mayfair, London, and a men’s boutique in Crystals at CityCenter (crystalsatcitycenter.com), in Las Vegas.
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Tavern Bites “Near the café, there’s a lovely path along the Thames that leads to the Dove (19 Upper Mall, Hammersmith; 44-20/87489474; lunch for two £50), a 17th-century pub. Stop in for excellent beer and steak and ale pie.” Design Inspiration “Sir John Soane’s Museum (13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields; 4420/7405-2107; soane.org), set within three of the 19thcentury architect’s former residences, exhibits an eclectic mix of nearly 30,000 items from around the world, many purchased at auction in England.” London’s Top Address “I visit Claridge’s (49 Brook St.; 44-20/7629-8860; claridges.co.uk; doubles from £600), in Mayfair, quite a lot. My little shop is there, and I’ve held fashion shows in the ballroom. Just like the River Café, I have a particular affection for the place.”
c l o c k w i s e FROM TOP l e f t : MATTEO PIA Z Z A ; © T i m W h i t b y / a f p / g e t t y ; DAVID LOFTUS
The River Café London
WHAT TO ORDER “I love the pork cooked in milk, but the River Café (Thomas Wharf, Rainville Rd.; 44-20/7386-4200; dinner for two £61) is famous for Dover sole—and very generous portions.”
Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia February 2011