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SOUTHEAST ASIA

MAY 2011

COOL IN KL

18 MUST-READ TRIP IDEAS

Italian LAKES 33 WAYS TO BE WOWED

CHIANG MAI 10 BEST NEW BOUTIQUES

PHILIPPINES The magic of Misibis Bay

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: ESSENTIAL ECO GUIDE

VEGAS FOOD

BIGGER IS BETTER!

TECH AWARDS

T+L’S TOP 27 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

Plus: AFFORDABLE ASIAN VACATION DEALS Tra ve l a n d L e i s u re A s i a . c o m


contents

may 2011 volume 05 : issue 05

features 106 Malaysian Vibe With a nightlife scene that’s heating up fast, Kuala Lumpur is transforming into a great after-hours city. by bruno lee. photographed by kevin miller. guide 112 114 Your big fat Las Vegas food adventure Vegas inspires a person to do crazy things. Like, say, eat your way through the city’s best dishes—Robata to Rajasthani, haute French to French toast. Are you ready? by peter jon lindberg. photographed by coral von zumwalt. address book 123

106

After-hours Kuala Lumpur.

6 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

71 Special Section Family Travel Made Easy Kid-friendly tips for a trek in Bali’s Monkey Forest, kayaking around Phuket, enjoying Hong Kong’s Peak, travel apps for tots, and indoor diversions around Southeast Asia’s air-conditioned retail havens.

kevin miller

124 Best of the Italian Lakes Stately garden villas, artisanal food shops, waterside restaurants—what’s not to love about Italy’s lake region? Valerie Waterhouse reveals the top places to stay, eat, shop and see. photographed by oberto gili. guide and map 133


contents

may 2011 volume 05 : issue 05 T+L SOUTHEAST ASIA KUALA LUMPUR / TECH AWARDS / BEIJING / FAMILY TRAVEL / PAPUA NEW GUINEA / LAS VEGAS / CHIANG MAI / PHILIPPINES

SOUTHEAST ASIA

MAY 2011

COOL IN KL

18 MUST-READ TRIP IDEAS

Italian LAKES

33 WAYS TO BE WOWED

CHIANG MAI 10 BEST NEW BOUTIQUES

PHILIPPINES The magic of Misibis Bay

PAPUA NEW GUINEA: ESSENTIAL ECO GUIDE

VEGAS FOOD

BIGGER IS BETTER!

TECH AWARDS

T+L’S TOP 27 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

MAY 2011

Plus: AFFORDABLE ASIAN VACATION DEALS Tra ve l a n d L e i s u re A s i a . c o m

05MAY CoverOPTIONS.indd 1

31/03/2011 10:53

On the cover

Photographed by Tom Hoops. Styled by Akaphol Ruthaiyanont. Model: Terra. Hair and make-up by Kitty Kittiya. Photo assistant: Ami Lertpricha. Stylist assistant: Supaporn Teawvong. Bikini top by Sloggi; sunglasses by Chanel; earrings by Kloset Red Carpet; bracelet by Miu Miu; skirt by dkny jeans; scarf by Bulgari. W Retreat—Koh Samui, Thailand.

28 Digital Traveler Learning languages via your smart phone, finding hotels in the palm of your hand and a few other high-tech innovations.

49

31 Tech Awards Another day, another life-changing gadget, or so it seems. T+L tech expert Tom Samiljan puts new products through their paces to determine which will stand the test of time.

newsflash 40 Phnom Penh’s airport becomes an outpost of boutique chic, an unexpected market in Bangkok, new Asian albums and more.

insider 49 Restaurants Talented young chefs are turning Beijing into a gastronomic oasis. by jen lin-liu 52 48 Hours Whatever you’re in search of in laid-back Honolulu, jennifer flowers uncovers the places every visitor should know. 56 Neighborhood A re-energized Hong Kong district. by christopher dewolf 8 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

f r o m to p : co u rt e sy o f m oto r o l a ; ja m e s wo r r e l l ; co u rt e sy o f M o d o

31


contents

may 2011 volume 05 : issue 05

94

85

61

Icon Originally made in 13th- century Spain, the espadrille has become a chic and easy travel staple. by liz wallace. styled by mimi lombardo

62 Shopping Exploring Chiang Mai’s most stylish boutiques. by robyn eckhardt 66

Airport Critic Looking for hard-to-find beauty products? kate betts reports on duty-free shopping. styled by mimi lombardo

69 uniform Jimmy Choo’s Tamara Mellon isn’t one to travel lightly. styled by mimi lombardo

journal 85

Resorts An hour’s flight from Manila, the Philippine province of Albay has a wealth of natural attractions, from gentle whale sharks to the awe-inspiring Mayon Volcano. Can Misibis Bay, an ambitious resort, live up to its world-class setting? by lara day

10 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

90 Obsessions When you’ve been rubbed everywhere from rural China to Brighton Beach, you discover that sometimes the most glorious massages happen in the most unlikely places. by aimee lee ball 94 Getaway The Atlantic enclave of Cap Ferret is worlds apart from the glammed-out scene found along the Riviera. alexandra marshall revels in its billowy dunes, briny oysters and easy, unpretentious charms. photographed by jose bernad 99

departments 12 In This Issue 14 Editor’s Note 18 Contributors 20 Mail 22 Best Deals 24 Ask T+L 38 smart traveler 134 My Favorite Place

Adventure Any visit to the interior of Papua New Guinea is going to be a lesson in modern environmentalism, but as craig simons discovers, the learning curve is long, the journey unforgettable.

104 Hotels In the heart of the Adriatic, the once-secret island getaway of Sveti Stefan is reborn as a glamorous resort. by charles maclean photographed by malu alvarez

61

c l o c k w i s e f r o m t o p l e f t : j o s e b e r n a d ; c o u r t e s y o f m i s i b i s b ay ; c h a r l e s m a s t e r s

stylish traveler


in this issue

Italy 40, 124

Las Vegas 114

Beijing 49 Cagraray Island 85 Kuala Lumpur 71, 106

trip ideas

DESTINATIONS Asia Beijing 49 Hangzhou 22 Japan 24 Papua New Guinea 99 Sanya, China 71 Shanghai 22 Suzhou 22 Taipei 22 Taiwan 24 Europe Berlin 42, 134 Cap Ferret, France 94 Italy 40, 124 London 66 Montenegro 104 Paris 44, 66 Rome 66

Active and Adventure

99

Affordable

22, 71

Arts + Culture

134

Beaches + Islands

52, 71, 85, 94

City

56

Culture + History

71

Fashion

61, 68

Food + Drink

49, 114

Hotels + Resorts

104

Nightlife

106

Shopping

62, 66

Travel Tips

24, 28

The Americas Honolulu 52 Las Vegas 114

Featured Destination

Las Vegas

As this month’s story on the American city vividly points out, you’ll never go hungry in Las Vegas. In what you hope won’t become a role reversal when it comes to the food chain, you can swim with the sharks—more than 30 of them, including sand tiger, sandbar and whitetip reef sharks—at the Shark Reef Aquarium at Mandalay Bay. (See page 114 for more on Las Vegas.)

12 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

c o r a l v o n z u m wa lt ( 3 )

travel tip

Southeast Asia Bali 22, 71 Bangkok 45, 71 Batu, Indonesia 71 Bohol 71 Chiang Mai 62 Hong Kong 22, 56, 71 Jakarta 71 Khao Yai 71 Kuala Lumpur 71, 106 Langkawi 71 Luang Prabang 71 Makassar, Indonesia 71 Manila 71 Cagraray Island, Philippines 85 Nha Trang 22, 71 Penang 71 Phnom Penh 44 Phuket 71 Siem Reap 71 Singapore 71 Vietnam 24

Papua New Guinea 99


editor’s note where to find me )) matt@mediatransasia.com )) matt leppard tlsea on Facebook

PICKS OF THE MONTH Family-friendly travel favorites. THAILAND Centara Grand Mirage Pattaya A self-contained paradise with a childfriendly jungle theme. One of Pattaya’s finest. 277 Moo 5, Naklua, Banglamung; centarahotels resorts.com.

(“T+L Tech Awards 2011,” page 31), which allows me to extend into the subject quite nicely. Well, a confession to start, and one that may make me sound like I’m rooted in the dark ages (and by that I mean the 1980’s). I am still able to live my life and do all my traveling and working without being online and on call the whole time (the smart phone I have right now is not actually that smart). I can even survive without a tablet PC or an e-reader. Am I as alone in this as I feel at times? I ask this for one reason—because it’s fairly likely that I’ll soon get a much, much smarter phone and will transform into the sort of person who actually uses things like chat functions regularly. Should I worry? Send me a letter written by hand and I’ll reply in kind... Of course, the traveler in me does recognize that personal organization is a whole lot easier when you have a microchip doing much of the work. I don’t have kids yet, but I know that planning a family vacation

requires all sorts of important informational logistics that an organizational gadget could help out with. Just reading our family section this issue (“Family Travel Made Easy,” page 71) wears me out as much as having toddlers hurtling about a hotel room would (will?). But being the caring, sharing, tech-savvy team we are, and linking to my ramble above, we have suggested our top tech travel apps for kids. Just make sure they get plenty of physical exercise and something natural to discover too. I also hope you enjoy our Papua New Guinea feature as much as I did (“Jungle Baby,” page 99). In a previous life, I was a biologist and before that, a nature-loving kid, fascinated by exotic flora and fauna. Lastly, it would be remiss not to say that on behalf of all of us at T+L SEA, I’d like to express my sincerest condolences to the victims of the Japan earthquake and tsunami. Want to help? Visit us at www.TravelandLeisureAsia.com for some inspiring ideas.— m at t l e p pa r d

HONG KONG Langham Place This luxe stay’s Little People program sees youngsters get a range of free gifts on arrival, and they can dine at half price. They also get little robes. Bless! Langham Place, Mongkok; hongkong. langhamplace hotels.com. MALAYSIA Sunway Lagoon, Kuala Lumpur Kids will love the extreme sports and water park. Mum and dad can enjoy the opulent hotel. 3, Jln. PJS 11/11, Bandar Sunway; sunwaylagoon.com.

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.

14 May 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

tom ho ops

S i n c e w e d o n ’ t h av e a t e c h n o l o gy s p e c i a l i ss u e , w e ’ r e f e at u r i n g o u r t o p ey e - p o p p i n g g a d g e ts a n d g o t ta- h av e g i z m o s t h i s i ss u e

INDONESIA Green Camp Bali More than “edutainment,” this teaches kids how to respect their surroundings. Jln. Raya Sibang Kaja, Banjar Saren, Abiansemal; greencampbali.com.


Goes Beyond the Red Carpet Real travel finds the story in every stay. Choose Summit Hotels & Resorts to discover the heart of the action and the flavors of culture. Like your own global concierge, the collection offers an insider adventure at more than 140 unique hotels. Start at SummitHotels.com


editor-in-chief art director deputy editor features editor senior DEsigner DEsigner ASSISTANT editor/Illustrator Assistant Editor

Matt Leppard James Nvathorn Unkong Christopher Kucway Lara Day Wannapha Nawayon Sirirat Prajakthip Wasinee Chantakorn Liang Xinyi

Regular contributors / photographers Cedric Arnold, Jennifer Chen, Robyn Eckhardt, Philipp Engelhorn, David Hagerman, Lauryn Ishak, Naomi Lindt, Jen Lin-Liu, Nat Prakobsantisuk, Adam Skolnick, Darren Soh, Daven Wu

chairman president publishing director

Current Issue

now on

iPad avaliable at www.zinio.com

publishER director singapore / associate publisher DIGITAL MEDIA MANAGER business development managers CONSULTANT, HONG KONG/MACAU chief financial officer production manager production group circulation MANAGER circulation assistant

J.S. Uberoi Egasith Chotpakditrakul Rasina Uberoi-Bajaj

Robert Fernhout Lucas W. Krump Pichayanee Kitsanayothin Michael K. Hirsch Joey Kukielka Shea Stanley Gaurav Kumar Kanda Thanakornwongskul Supalak Krewsasaen Porames Chinwongs Yupadee Saebea

american express publishing corporation President/Chief Executive Officer Senior Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer Senior Vice President/Chief Financial Officer Senior Vice President/Editorial Director Vice President/Publisher, Travel + Leisure U.S. Executive Editor, International Publishing Director, International

Ed Kelly Mark V. Stanich Paul B. Francis Nancy Novogrod Jean-Paul Kyrillos Mark Orwoll Thomas D. Storms

travel+leisure southeast asia Vol. 5, Issue 5 Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia is published monthly by Media Transasia Limited, Room 1205-06, 12/F, Hollywood Centre, 233 Hollywood Road, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong. Tel: +852 2851-6963; Fax: +852 2851-1933; under license from American Express Publishing Corporation, 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036, United States of America. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording or any information storage or retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the Publisher. Produced and distributed by Media Transasia Thailand Ltd., 14th Floor, Ocean Tower II, 75/8 Soi Sukhumvit 19, Sukhumvit Road, Klongtoeynue, Wattana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand. Tel: +66 2 204-2370. Printed by Comform Co., Ltd. (+66 2 368-2942–7). Color separation by Classic Scan Co., Ltd. (+66 2 291-7575). While the editors do their utmost to verify information published, they do not accept responsibility for its absolute accuracy.

This edition is published by permission of AMERICAN EXPRESS PUBLISHING CORPORATION 1120 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10036 United States of America Tel. +1 212 382 5600 Online: www.amexpub.com Reproduction in whole or in part without the consent of the copyright owner is prohibited.

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christopher dewolf writer

craig simons writer

Assignment Wrote and photographed “Hong Kong’s New Energy” (page 56). Favorite Hong Kong neighborhood Mongkok, where I live. It’s loud, obnoxious and constantly in-yourface, but it’s alive at any hour of the day. Hong Kong in three words Never, ever asleep. Best find I’m a big fan of the junk dealer on Tai Ping Shan where you can find old Polaroid cameras, and of Yuk Kin, where you can sit on the street sipping milk tea. Favorite Cantonese expression Duk! I like the sound and you can repeat it to add emphasis. It means “sure” or “okay.” Next big trip A month-long visit to Montreal and Vancouver. Canada has taken on some of the qualities of an exotic foreign country. I step into the supermarket and am amazed by all the strange food that is available.

Assignment Wrote our look at Papua New Guinea (“Jungle Baby,” page 99) Favorite travel Anything outdoors in a beautiful place with no distractions except for friends. PNG fits the bill. Can’t leave home without… A few good books. Best moment in PNG Walking up a stream through clouds of day-flying moths that looked like butterflies. Downside to PNG Everyone warned me to be careful in Port Moresby. Stay in a good hotel and don’t go out at night alone. In the end, I had no problems. Dream trip I’d like to hike Nepal’s Annapurna Circuit before a road is built.

coral von zumwalt photographer Assignment Shot “Your Big Fat Las Vegas Food Adventure” (page 114). Should what happens in Vegas stay in Vegas? Definitely! Only not in the way you’d think. The flu bug hit me, my assistant, son and nanny. The ER is not where you want to be at 3 a.m. in that town—trust me. Sin City in three words Fabricated, lavish, devouring. Best Vegas restaurant Raku alone was worth my five-hour drive there. Secret of great food photography Shooting fast! When the chef hands a dish off to you it is perfect, but within minutes it could melt, wilt or dry out. Camera Essential A tripod—especially if you want to capture the glitz and lights of Vegas after dark.

TOP ROW , FROM LEFT : c o u r t e s y o f c h r i s t o p h e r d e w o l f ; n i c o l e l a m o t t e ; c o u r t e s y o f c r a i g s i m o n s BOTTOM ROW , FROM LEFT : c h r i s t o p h e r d e w o l f ; c o r a l v o n z u m w a l t ; © L e a f / d r e a m s t i m e . c o m

contributors


mail

come for the

views... Letter of the month Thai Time Travel

...stay

for the experience

Yes, a story that doesn’t mention iPads, Wi-Fi or fusion food! Your “Retro Bangkok” tale [March 2011] grabbed me right from the photo of the 1972 Cadillac to the barking dogs in the background to the yellow tuxedoes (yes, yellow!) on the doormen at the Lido Cinema. How could you visit Bangkok and not want to experience any or all of this? I’m going out tonight to start. And I’m leaving my phone at home, so don’t bother calling! —jeerawan napawongdee, bangkok

out of what is a slightly comical place to take a vacation. I love strawberries, so wouldn’t mind indulging myself with them. —sarah takeshi, osaka Missing Designs

I was surprised to read of your Design Awards 2011 [March 2011] and not come across anything from Southeast Asia. In fact, the only winners from Asia were all based in Shanghai and, as much as that city has some great design, we all know that there’s a healthy design culture in many corners of Asia outside of Shanghai. —mitch webster, hong kong

Pass the Strawberries

2011 & 2010 CONDE NAST TRAVELLER GOLD LIST World’s Best Hotels and Resorts 2010 CONDE NAST READERS’ SPA AWARDS #1 Spa in the World 2010 TRAVEL + LEISURE World’s Top 20 Hotels for Value Overall

AYANA Resort and Spa Bali Jl. Karang Mas Sejahtera, Jimbaran 80364 T.(62) 361-702 222 | E.reservation@ayanaresort.com www.ayanaresort.com

I can’t afford to visit Europe this year, so it was great to read your story on Cameron Highlands [“Little England,” April 2011]. That area of Malaysia has always been on my mind but I thought it would be overrun with tourists, so thanks for pointing out when to visit, where to go and how to make the most

European Vacation

Good idea to feature Europe on the cheap [“Affordable Europe,” April 2011]. I just wish the discounts in a few countries were even bigger. There’s nothing like escaping the heat of another summer in Asia. —henry cho, hong kong

e-mail t+l Send your letters to editor@travelandleisuresea.com and let us know your thoughts on recent stories or new places to visit. Letters chosen may be edited for clarity and space. The letter of the month receives a free one-year subscription to Travel + Leisure (Southeast Asia only). Reader opinions expressed in letters do not necessarily reflect those of Travel + Leisure Southeast Asia, Media Transasia Ltd., or American Express Publishing.


bestdeals

budget-friendly tips for your travel planning

AFFORDABLE ASIAN TRIPS

deal of the month s n a p

Banyan Tree Hangzhou, China.

The PuLi Hotel & Spa, Shanghai, China.

NATURAL ESCAPES

CHINA Discover the Tranquil Wetland package at Banyan Tree Hangzhou (86-

571/8586-0000; banyantree.com/en/ hangzhou). What’s Included A two-night stay in a Water Terrace room; daily breakfast; a set dinner; afternoon tea; a 90-minute massage; an Oriental bath; a half-day wetland tour; and bed and breakfast for one child under 12. Cost From RMB6,666 (RMB3,333 per night), double, two-night minimum, through August 31. Savings 33 percent. INDONESIA Sports & Nature package at Villa Mathis (62-361/733-311; villamathis. com), in Umalas, Bali. What’s Included A

three-night stay in a Deluxe room; daily breakfast; a massage and flower bath; free white-water rafting; a nature tour of Ubud area; transfers to Seminyak; and late check-out if available. Cost From US$435 per person (US$290 per night), double, through October 31. Savings 25 percent.

CITY BREAKS

CHINA Weekend Retreat package at The PuLi Hotel & Spa (86-21/3203-9999; thepuli.com) in Shanghai. What’s Included

A stay in a Deluxe King room; either brunch with free-flowing champagne at Jing’An restaurant or a 45-minute spa treatment; mini-bar soft drinks; and 22 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

The Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa, Vietnam.

Internet. Cost From RMB1,617 per night, double, weekends only, through June 30. Savings 60 percent. TAIWAN Are You Spectacular? package at the W Taipei (wtaipei.com; 886-2/7703-8888). What’s Included A stay in a Spectacular

room or Fantastic suite; daily breakfast; and VIP access to nightclubs in Xinyi district. Cost From NT$7,800 per night, through August 31. Savings 40 percent.

ARTFUL detour

HONG KONG Opening Celebration package at Hotel de EDGE by Rhombus (852/35599971; hoteldeedge.com. hk).
What’s Included A stay in a Superior room; welcome tea; local calls; daily newspaper; and free Wi-Fi access. Cost From HK$898 per night, double, through May 31. 
Savings 60 percent.

CHINA Art Experience package at Hotel Soul (86-512/6777-0777; hotelsoul.com.cn) in Suzhou. What’s Included A stay in a

Premier Twin room; daily breakfast; and arts and crafts workshops at the Suzhou Art & Design Technology Institute. Cost RMB1,298 per night, double, weekends only, through June 30. Savings 30 percent.

BEACH Getaway

VIETNAM Nha Trang Experience package at the Sheraton Nha Trang Hotel & Spa (84-58/388-0000; sheraton.com/ nhatrang). What’s Included A three-night stay in an oceanview Deluxe room; roundtrip airport transfers; daily breakfast; one dinner; 15 percent off dining and spa treatments; and a half-day city tour. Cost From US$177 per night, double, through May 31. Savings 30 percent.

Hotel de EDGE by Rhombus, Hong Kong.

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 b a n y a n t r e e h a n g z h o u ; c o u r t e s y o f t h e p u l i h o t e l & Sp a ; c o u r t e s y o f t h e s h e r a t o n n h a t r a n g h o t e l & Sp a ; c o u r t e s y o f h o t e l d a e d g e b y r h o m b u s ( 2 )

i t


I want to visit Taiwan and travel by train. Do you have any suggestions?

—melissa li, shanghai

The country has a good network of both regular (railway.gov.tw) and high-speed (thsrc.com.tw) trains, with the bullet train between Taipei and Kaohsiung capable of speeds up to 300 kph. Most of the rail lines are concentrated on the west coast but there’s also a line along Taiwan’s east coast. And China Airlines (chinaairlines.com) is now offering a 25 percent discount on high-speed rail fares when passengers make their air-ticket purchase. The airline has check-in desks at the main international airport just outside Taipei.

At the market in Ha Giang, Vietnam.

Q: What rules apply for air-ticket refunds or rebookings after a natural disaster such as the earthquake in Japan? —mark lysons, singapore a: In such extreme examples, the onus is on passengers to contact the airline they are flying as different conditions exist for each. Cathay Pacific (cathaypacific.com), for one, suggests that passengers who have made a booking through a travel agent deal with that agent directly. Those with online bookings are required to send an e-mail to the airline with their rebooking preferences. For its part, Singapore Airlines (singaporeair.com) waived administrative fees for refunds, rebooking or rerouting passengers holding tickets to Japan for the month following the earthquake. Q: I’m looking for a trip out of Hanoi to the mountains of northern Vietnam for my family. where to go? —barbara lemonde, hong kong a: The Ha Giang region consists mainly of ethnic minorities and is not to be missed. At the very top of the country, the Dong Van plateau is a unesco Global Geopark, noted for its karst formations. A number of travel companies offer tours out of Hanoi to the province, including Exotissimo Travel (84-8/3827-2811; exotissimo. com) and Free Wheelin’ Tours (84-4/39262743; freewheelin-tours.com), which specializes in sustainable tourism in the area. Forty kilometers south of Ha Giang town, Pan Hou Village (84-21/9383-3565; panhou-village.com; doubles from US$40) is an eco-resort with 30 rooms in stilt houses and even a small spa that uses traditional relaxation methods. what’s your travel question?

Taiwan’s high-speed rail to Kaohsiung.

24 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

» E-mail us at editor@travelandleisuresea.com » 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 : © R a g s a c 1 9 D r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; © P a c h o t / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; © R a i l m a n | D r e a m s t i m e . c o m

askt+l

Rebooking rules.


T h e L u x u r y o f b e i n g y o u R s e l f TM

View Luxury Like Never Before

DeďŹ ning a new level of luxury on Koh Samui with the personalized service only Conrad can provide... Conrad Koh Samui arrives July 2011 Conrad Koh Samui 49/9 Moo 4, Hillcrest Road,Tambon Taling-Ngam, Koh Samui 84140 Suratthani Phone:

(66) 77-915-888

Fax:

(66) 77-915-889

Email:

kohsamui.info@conradhotels.com

Website:

www.conradkohsamui.com travelandleisure.com month 2010 00


EXCLUSIVE TRAVEL OFFERS FOR AMERICAN EXPRESS® PLATINUM RESERVE CREDIT CARDMEMBERS ENJOY PRIVILEGED BENEFITS AT THAILAND'S NEWEST BEACH RESORT

Tropical Oasis, W Retreat - Koh Samui

W RETREAT - KOH SAMUI Opened in November 2010, the W Retreat - Koh Samui redefines luxury and style. With a contemporary and sleek design set within the famed island of Koh Samui, the W Retreat - Koh Samui is the hottest new property in Thailand. The first W outpost in Southeast Asia, W Retreat - Koh Samui is located on a pristine peninsula in the isle’s tranquil north and offers panoramic views of the azure Gulf of Thailand. Each of the 75 private villas is a personal haven with expansive spaces and a private pool, while the interior is decorated in a striking palette of clean lines and earthy teak-wood elements, with lavish furnishings such as an oversize bed, 46-inch plasma TV, Yamaha sound system, wine refrigerator and outdoor shower.

Beyond the sumptuous villas, plenty of distractions await at this idyllic oasis. The AWAY® Spa offers enticing treatments such as Thaimazcal® experience, a therapy combining traditional Mexican rituals with Thai herbs. Go on an island-hopping snorkeling excursion, unwind with cocktails while drinking in breathtaking sunset vistas at the SIP bar, or simply have W’s signature Whatever/Whenever® service tailor something special to your liking. Exclusive privileges* for Platinum Reserve Credit Cardmembers: • Complimentary 3rd night with 2 nights stay • Complimentary upgrade from Jungle Oasis room to Tropical Oasis room • Complimentary Interactive Breakfast Experience for 2 at The Kitchen Table Restaurant • Privileged rate at THB 21,500+++ per night • Valid for booking and stay until 31 May 2011

*To enjoy the offer, payment must be made with American Express Platinum Reserve Credit Card only. All package amenities associated with this promotion are per room, per eligible stay. Services and components offered in the package are non exchangeable and non refundable and may be replaced with a similar item without notice, based on availability. Advance reservations are required and subject to availability. Rates are per room, per night, based on single/double occupancy and availability at time of reservation. Rates are subject to 18.7% service charge and government tax. Blackout dates and other restrictions may apply. Offer not applicable to groups. Not to be combined with other offers or promotions and subject to change. Void where prohibited by law. Information is correct at the time of publishing.

For reservations, please visit www.whotels.com/kohsamui and quote rate code TLAXMAR when booking online


traveler

websites, apps, tech gear, e-advice and more

word play Thanks to the rise of social networking, smart phones and faster Internet speeds, it’s never been easier to immerse yourself in a new language without even leaving home. The best-known method is Rosetta Stone, the interactive, total-immersion-style program that uses intuitive flash-card-like video games to teach students in the same way a child might learn a language. In other words: no boring grammar lectures or lessons. The service’s Totale Version 4 program

T+L Picks: resources for the road

1 Innovative book publisher Taschen is going digital with a new series of iPad apps. Among the first up: Yes Is More (US$9.99), a comic book-cumarchitectural manifesto from the Danish design group BIG.

2 Finally, a digital photo frame with a sense of style: the sleek, Android-based DIA Parrot by ­Nodesign (US$500; parrot. com), which uses LCD panels to illuminate and enhance your pictures.

28 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

3 Concerned about health on the road? The iMedjet app (free; iPhone/iPad; Android) stores health records, key contacts and instructions on what to do in case of different medical emergencies.

4 For an insider’s experience of London, book a room with onefinestay.com. The villa-rental agency specializes in posh pads (fancy an ­ambassador’s residence in ­Mayfair?) that come with ­concierge service.

innovator Sam Shank

who he is “I got bitten by the travel bug late in life,” ­serial entrepreneur Sam Shank says. He’s certainly making up for lost time. In the past decade, Shank founded the hotel site travelpost.com, and dealbase.com, which compiles online travel discounts. His ­latest venture, Hotel ­Tonight, comes to the aid of stranded travelers. his big idea While on a business trip to Seattle last year, Shank’s plans changed at the last minute and he needed to stay an extra night, so he tried to book something on his phone—a surprisingly difficult process. The result? The free Hotel Tonight app (iPhone/iPad), which instantly delivers three one-night hotel deals per city in different categories and lets you book one in just seconds. The app is available for Boston, Chicago, L.A., New York, Miami, San Francisco, Seattle and Washington, D.C., with Las Vegas on the way.

Illustrated by Leif Parsons

f r o m l e f t : c o u r t e s y o f t a s c h e n ; c o u r t e s y o f n o d e s i g n ; c o u r t e s y o f i m e d j e t ; c o u r t e s y o f o n e f i n e s t a y. c o m ; c o u r t e s y o f s a m s h a n k

Trend of the Month

(US$249; rosettastone. com) offers interactive, voice-recognitionenabled lessons in any of 24 languages on CD, online, or via an app for iPhone, as well as through live online sessions with a native speaker. For the more scholarly minded, Livemocha’s Active classes (US$99–$399 per year; livemocha.com) for French, Italian, Spanish and German deliver a mix of textbased grammar and usage lessons and repeatafter-me-style exercises that use voice recognition to test pronunciation. Learners also interact with teachers and native speakers online, both in live video sessions and via e-mail and recorded voice messages. Mobile phones and tablets offer options, too, through apps such as Living Language’s text and audiobook grammar lessons for French, ­Italian and Spanish (US$9.99; iPhone), or the Byki series (US$7.99 each for iPhone; US$9.99 each for Android), which will blast thousands of rapid-fire phrases and quizzes at you in more than 40 languages. The methods may have changed in the Internet era, but you still need to practice to improve your new language skills. “The golden rule is twenty minutes a day,” says Livemocha CEO Michael Schutzler. “It’s not very different from learning the piano.” —tom samiljan


Strategies travel smarter  

co u rt e sy o f m oto r o l a

  Another day, another life-changing gadget, or   so it seems. But beyond this dizzying parade of new   new things, there are a handful of exceptional   devices that deliver on the promise to volutionizei life on the road. T+L tech expert Tom Samiljani   put dozens of products through their paces to  determine what will stand the test of time.   Here are his picks of the best recent releases,   plus a few more favorites that are on our radar

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Tablets

Motorola Xoom

Google’s Android platform is giving the iPad a run for its money, thanks in no small part to the 10.1-inch Motorola Xoom. Not only does it access Flash-based sites and videos (still inaccessible on the iPad), but it also loads Web pages in a second and offers glitch-free videoconferencing when used on high-speed networks. motorola.com. [ continues ]

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Tablets (continued)

Apple iPad 2 If you’re interested in tablet apps, there’s still only one game in town. From GPS-enabled maps to translators, TV viewers, games and (yes) magazines, more stellar apps (over 65,000) are available for the iPad than for any other competitor. And now, the lighter, thinner iPad 2’s new dual-camera setup means you can make video calls to iPhone 4 users back home via FaceTime. apple.com.

BlackBerry PlayBook Linking directly to BlackBerry handhelds, the PlayBook allows users to check e-mail, calendars and to-do lists on a 17.8-centimeter touch screen. But until it gets its own built-in e-mail client—and a way to get online besides Wi-Fi—its appeal will mainly be limited to BlackBerry devotees. The company plans to fill in these blanks with future models, but the clock ticks fast in tech time. blackberry.com.

ON OUR

RADAR

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Olympus

Pen E-PL2 The fourth­generation microfour-thirds Pen marries the lens versatility of a professional-grade camera (great for shooting close-ups and low-light scenes) with a travel-friendly size. It also has easy-to-use 720p HD video capability and a detachable Penpal device that lets you send images to your phone wirelessly. olympus.com.

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Cameras Nikon D3100 For safaris or football matches, nothing beats the speed of a digital SLR, and the up-to-three-frames-persecond capability of Nikon’s entry-level model ensures you won’t miss a thing. The list of manual options is endless, but we like the “Guide” mode, which delivers on-screen tips on how to handle everything from low-light close-ups to beachfront portraits. nikon.com. Casio EX-H20G

Casio’s pocket-size, 14.1-megapixel digicam offers the geotagging functionality of a mobilephone camera with all the

This is the future of travel cameras: a compact body with ­interchangeable lenses.

quality of a great point-andshoot (10x optical zoom; plenty of scene modes). Its GPS not only lets you tag the exact location of your shots (even indoors!), but also helps you track where you are with built-in maps. di.casio.com.

Canon

Powershot D10 This 12.1-megapixel point-and-shoot snaps crisp and colorful images both on the ground and undersea. Waterproof up to 10 meters, it can also withstand everything from shocks to freezing temperatures, making it great for pools, beaches and even ski slopes. canon.com.

HONORABLE MENTION Panasonic Lumix DMC-FH27K Ideal for big group and panorama shots, this pocketable 16.1-megapixel point-and-shoot offers a superb 28 mm wide-angle Leica lens at an affordable price. panasonic.com.

When it comes to portable speakers, it’s hard to beat the Philips Fidelio Docking Speaker DS 7550 (philips.com), with its deep, expansive sound and a flat-panel form that slips easily into briefcases and laptop sleeves. For kids (and kids at heart), the Nintendo 3DS (nintendo. com/3ds) puts a 3-D spin on the popular handheld gaming device—no glasses necessary.

c lo c kw i s e f r o m b ot to m l e f t: co u rt e sy o f b l ac k b e r ry; co u rt e sy o f a p p l e ; ja m e s wo r r e l l ; co u rt e sy o f n i ko n ; co u rt e sy o f c a n o n ; co u rt e sy o f c as i o

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Smart Phones

BlackBerry Bold The physical BlackBerry keyboard remains the best for meeting the serious correspondence needs of business travelers, and it’s easy to read and respond to e-mail even when there’s no reception. We prefer the Bold, which comes in world-phone versions for all major carriers. blackberry.com/ blackberrybold.

HONORABLE MENTION

Apple iPhone 4 Take your pick of the world’s most popular smart phone: the latest version, the iPhone 4, now allows video calling, and has a 9-centimeter high-resolution screen and a 5-megapixel camera, not to mention an ever-growing collection of shiny apps. Available in 8GB, 16GB and 32GB. apple.com.

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Kodak Playsport Video Camera 2x5 Water-, shock- and dust-proof, it’s the ultimate camcorder for adventures. But even if you never take it outside, it still delivers with high-quality video and handy in-camera editing. kodak.com.

Flip MinoHD

Still the most user-friendly portable camcorder we’ve found, taking 720p HD videos that are crisp, clear and always in focus. We also like the simple, physical record button and the built-in USB connector for charging and transferring up to two hours of video straight to your computer. theflip.com.

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Mophie Juice Pack Air

The elegant remedy to the iPhone’s short battery life? This slim case that doubles as a mobile charger. It’s essential for app-obsessed travelers who drain their handsets in less than a day. mophie.com.

Bluetooth headset

ON OUR

RADAR

34 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

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You can thank Yves Behar for the great design. Comes in three other styles, too.

Jawbone Era Using military-grade noise-canceling technology, the Era keeps conversations free of outside interference and has a surprisingly clear speaker. Meanwhile, custom apps let you use voice recognition to dictate and send e-mail and texts, and it has motion-sensitive controls ( just tap the device to answer a call). jawbone.com.

external battery

ON OUR RADAR Powergorilla Only 635 grams and smaller than an iPad, this mobile charger works with smart phones, tablets, and even higher-voltage laptops. powertraveller.com.

Our favorite all-in-one worldwide adapter? The iPhone-compatible Kensington International Travel Plug Adapter with USB Charger (kensington.com). Stay hands-free in your next U.S. rental car with Ford Sync (syncmyride.com), which controls your MP3 player and mobile phone with voice commands.

c lo c kw i s e f r o m to p l e f t: Co u rt e sy o f b l ac k b e r ry; co u rt e sy o f a p p l e ; co u rt e sy o f f l i p v i d e o ; ja m e s wo r r e l l ( 3 )

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A WORLD OF FUN FOR YOUR FAMILY

Visit our resorts at Pattaya and Phuket and you will find another world, a world of adventure and delight. We offer something for the whole family, including an oceanfront water park with swimming pools and a lazy river, watersports and beach games, rock climbing, tennis, and a kids’ club where there is plenty of action for both the youngsters and the teens. For the mums and dads there is a sumptuous spa village where you can relax body, mind and spirit. And every member of the family, from the toddlers to the grandparents, will love the array of food available at our many restaurants, including BBQ and grill, Thai, Chinese, Asian and Mediterranean dishes. In addition our family-friendly accommodation delivers all the comforts for the whole family, with certain units offering separate children’s area. Welcome to our world. Discover more at www.centararesorts.com

Please contact us at: T +66 (0) 2101 1234 Ext. 1 E reservations@chr.co.th


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LAPTOPS

Panasonic S10

One of the few Englishlanguage laptops made in Japan, the 12.1-inch, 1.27-kilogram S10 runs up to 15 1/2 hours on a single charge and can handle 100 kilograms of pressure on its sturdy, water-resistant case. Plus, it comes in six different colors. dynamism.com.

Apple MacBook

Air 11-Inch It starts up in under 30 seconds, is just over half an inch thin, weighs only 1.04 kilograms, and has a full-size keyboard. The unobtrusive, ultraportable 11-inch Air is hands down the best Mac laptop for travelers. Just make sure not to leave it in an airplane seat pocket, as we almost did on a recent trip. apple.com.

Flattens for easy travel.

Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse Most travel mice are too small to be used comfortably yet too big to fit into, say, a laptop sleeve. When turned on, the Arc Touch transforms into a curvy mouse with the requisite right and left buttons, but folds completely flat when switched off, making it a cinch to tuck into the smallest of spaces. microsoft.com.

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e-reader

HP Pavilion dm1 An 11.6-inch laptop that’s fast and full of functionality for less than US$500? At half the price of a MacBook Air, it’s a steal. hp.com.

Amazon Kindle Yes, there is still room in this tablet-filled world for a good old-fashioned e-reader, especially the lightweight, affordable Kindle, with its glare-free e-ink screen—ideal for both beach and bedtime reading. amazon.com.

Shown actual size. It’s thin, but powerful.

Samsung 9 Series This half-inch-thick beauty has the curvy profile of a sports car, mirroring the speedy processor within. A 13-inch LED-backlit screen displays HD movies with utmost clarity, and the full-size keyboard is terrific. samsung.com.

36 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

HONORABLE MENTION Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color If you want to read magazines along with your e-books, but don’t want to pony up for an iPad, the touch-screen Nook is the perfect fit. barnesandnoble.com.

c lo c kw i s e f r o m to p r i g h t: j a m e s wo r r e l l ; c o u r t e sy o f a m a zo n ; c o u r t e sy o f s a m s u n g ; j a m e s wo r r e l l ; c o u r t e sy o f pa n a s o n i c

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headphones

Able Planet

Clear Harmony NC1100b

There are a lot of great noise-­ canceling headphones around, but Able Planet’s model trumps competitors when it comes to sound quality. And it also conveniently doubles as a phone headset. ableplant.com.

V-Moda Vibrato

For stellar bass without sacrificing midrange clarity, these headphones edged out pricier rivals in our multi-music-genre trials. Plus, there’s a built-in mic so you can make and answer phone calls. v-moda.com.

james worrell (2)

Check out the tangle-free Kevlar cords.


smarttraveler

the ins and outs of modern travel

saving money in Asia’s Cities Expanding economies and inflation are making travel to Asia’s major cities costlier. Here, tips on where and how to save. By JENNIFER CHEN Quick: Where are Asia’s priciest hotel rooms? If you guessed Tokyo—usually singled out as the region’s, if not the world’s, most expensive city—you would be wrong. The correct answer: Singapore. Blame the punters descending upon the new casino resorts, business travelers, a relative shortage of luxury hotel rooms, or wealthy Singaporeans doling out for so-called 38 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

“staycations.” The bottom line is that it’s getting more and more expensive to visit the Lion City. Hotels.com reported that in 2010 Singapore’s average hotel rate was around US$193— that’s a 29 percent increase from 2009. In comparison, Tokyo’s average rate actually shrank by 10 percent. The trend seems set to continue this year: in April, the average price of a hotel room in Singapore was US$144.55, compared to US$138.69 in Tokyo, according to HotelsCombined.com. Of course, that doesn’t mean it has become miraculously cheaper to visit the Japanese capital. PriceofTravel.com notes that a pint of beer can cost up to US$12, while a threekilometer taxi ride will set you back US$13 to US$16. (Taking a cab in Tokyo evokes that joke from Woody Allen’s Annie Hall: “You look so beautiful. I can hardly keep my eyes on the meter.”) In fact, renewed prosperity and increasing inflation throughout the region are driving up costs in major cities. In Bangkok, for instance, some restaurants have started charging 30 baht for a bottle of water, compared to 15 or 20 baht a few years ago. For bargain hunters, there are still plenty of bright spots. A three-kilometer tuk-tuk ride in Phnom Penh will cost, at most, US$2, and you can spend as little as US$6 for a decent meal. But the best city for those on a budget is Hanoi, where a freshly brewed bia hoi is cheaper than water, and a hotel room averages between US$50 to US$60. Here are some more tips on how to save money on your next city weekend break in Asia: 1 Sign up for newsletters from hotel booking sites After the plane

ticket, your second biggest expense will be your hotel room. By signing up for newsletters from Asia-focused booking engines such as Agoda. com or Zuji.com, you’ll get regular updates on hotel deals. A recent newsletter from Agoda.com listed 20 percent off the Parkroyal Serviced Suites in Kuala Lumpur’s posh Bukit Bintang area. 2 Visit during the low season The best time to be in Shanghai and Tokyo is Illustrated by Wasinee Chantakorn


between January and March, as it is for most cities in North Asia. A hotel in Hong Kong will cost you around US$114 in February versus US$126 in April. The worst time for most cities is during major holidays—though Bangkok during Songkran might be an exception. 3 Take public transportation Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo might be the most expensive cities in the region, but they also have by far the best public transportation systems in Asia. Invest in an Octopus prepaid travel card when you get to Hong Kong, which can also be used at select stores and fast-food outlets, and is valid for up to three years. Taipei offers a similar option, called the EasyCard, while Tokyo’s Suica and PASMO cards are indispensable for getting around on the JR and metro system. Public transportation also saves you time—and stress. Forty minutes of sitting in traffic with an apoplectic cabbie along Sukhumvit or a 30 baht fare from Siam Square to Thonglor on the Sky Train?

4 Explore Groupon Copycats Social buying websites have caught on quickly in this region of bargain hunters. AllDealsAsia. com is a deal aggregator with dedicated pages for Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia and Malaysia. You can find bargains on everything from wine tastings to spa treatments. Bangkok-based Ensogo.com is also a good source of deals. We spotted Bt365 bicycle tour of Bangkok, including a barbecue buffet and a fish spa treatment. 5 Tip selectively You shouldn’t tip unless the service really merits it. Tipping is not compulsory in most Asian countries, and many establishments tack on a 10 percent service charge. True, in cities such as Bangkok and Jakarta, servers in tony restaurants and hotels have come to expect gratuities. My rule of thumb is at most 10 percent (if they deserve it). And if you do take a cab, round up the fair but don’t give the cabbie an extra tip unless he’s been helpful (i.e., carrying bags). ✚

Get the guide for more ideas and recommendations on making travel in southeast asia more affordable, go to travelandleisure asia.com


newsflash your global guide to what’s happening right now...

hotel

to the lighthouse

The untrammeled southern coast of Sardinia,  Italy, has an inviting new retreat  Nine days in the Sardinian town of Cagliari in 1921 was all it took to inspire D. H. Lawrence to write one of the last century’s great travel narratives, Sea and Sardinia. Spend a night at the Lighthouse Capo-Spartivento, on the southernmost tip of Sardinia, and you may be inclined to pen a classic of your own. Set on an isolated promontory 107 meters above the Mediterranean, Italy’s first and only lighthouse hotel was built in 1856 by the Italian Navy, which still operates its third-story lantern. As for the floors below, owner Alessio Raggio has spent 20 years perfecting the 40 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

place, filling the four barrel-vaulted guest rooms with Murano-glass chandeliers and enormous circular beds facing the sea. You can book one suite or take over the entire property (including two “apartments,” with ceilings made of glass, for better constellation viewing). Also on hand: three chefs preparing just-caught fish to order, a cistern turned cellar brimming with Sardinian wines and untamed private beaches. Chia; farocapospartivento.com; doubles from €388, including breakfast.  —h e i di m i t c h e l l

RO B ERTO P ATTI / COURTESY O F l i gh t h o u s e CA P O - S P ARTIVENTO

A Mediterraneanfacing living room at Lighthouse Capo-Spartivento, in Sardinia.


newsflash on the radar: berlin

CITY SPOTLIGHT

Q&A

PAUL THEROUX Q: Other than writing, how do you document your adventures? A: I collect knickknacks people have used, like snuff boxes and voodoo

figures. There’s a Polynesian word, mana, meaning the spiritual power of an object—those things appeal to me. Q: What have you learned from other writers? A: As Flaubert said, when you’re traveling, you realize how small you

1. Eat It

The pork-filled spring roll with prawns and garden beans at Sage Restaurant (18-20 Köpenicker Strasse; 49-30/755494-071; dinner for two €115), located on the River Spree.

are. Dollars are helpful, but a smile is more valuable.

Q: Is there a 21st-century Grand Tour? A: In the 19th century, it was London, Paris, Rome and Greece. Today

it’s a global buffet: a safari in Africa, the Great Wall of China, the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu and the Carnival, in Brazil.— dav id a . k e e p s

2. Book It

music

SENSE OF PLACE

No time to travel? Tune into these three captivating new albums and be transported across the region Cambodia u 1960’s Cambodian pop meets American surf rock on Cannibal Courtship, the fourth album by infectious California six-piece Dengue Fever. Expect 11 new tracks sung by the group’s sultry frontwoman, legendary female vocalist Chhom Nimol, who originally hails from Phnom Penh. denguefevermusic.com. Japan u Experience John, Paul, Ringo and George like you’ve never heard them before on Ryukyu Beatles 2, the second Beatles tribute album by Okinawa-based quintet Soul Gakudan. “All You Need Is Love” sounds

42 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

familiar yet strange thanks to instruments like the 17-string koto, and the sanshin, an Okinawan-style banjo. farsidemusic.com. Mongolia u Beijing folk group Hanggai’s second album, He Who Travels Far, carries you to the vast grasslands and big blue skies of the Mongolian steppes, with a blend of traditional folk instruments—the morin khuur, or horse-head fiddle; the tobushuur, or two-stringed lute— and techniques such as throat singing, updated with electric guitars. worldconnection.nl. — l a ra d ay

The light-filled Camper Suite at Casa Camper (1 Weinmeisterstrasse; 49-30/2000-3410; casacamper. com; doubles from €195), with views of the historic Mitte district and fiery Spanish-red walls softened by wood accents.

3. Buy It

The retro-casual hat collection at Rike Feurstein (28 RosaLuxemburg-Strasse; 49-30/92259669; rikefeurstein.com; €115), made by hand in a range of materials (cotton; raffia; Panama straw).—ralph martin

c l o c kw i s e f r o m t o p l e f t : s t e v e m c c u r r y ; l a r s k l o v e ; COURTESY O F SA G E ; COURTESY O F CASA CAM P ER ; COURTESY O F RI K E F EURSTEIN ; c o u r t e s y o f h a n gg a i . b a n d c a m p . c o m ; c o u r t e s y o f f a r s i d e m u s i c . c o m ; c o u r t e s y o f d e n g u e f e v e r m u s i c . c o m

In The Tao of Travel, out this month, the peripatetic writer compiles wisdom from an array of literature and life on the road. Here, he shares a few tidbits with T+L.


W foi n u an r u S ex ea nf pe So or r n ge ie S n re tt c S a e o bl rt e

12 unforgettable four seasons resort experiences. 12 lucky winners.

four seasons 12 live s contest join a n d w i n

From seaside retreats to hillside hideaways to a desert oasis,

every Four Seasons resort is an experience unto itself. And now, you can be 1 of 12 lucky winners of a 4-day, 3-night stay at one of our 12 participating properties. To join the contest, visit TravelandLeisureAsia.com.


newsflash airport update

Phnom Penh chic Ran out of time before hitting the Cambodian capital’s best boutiques? Now the shopping comes to you at Phnom Penh International Airport, whose small, unassuming departure lounge has transformed into a hip showcase for some of Cambodia’s most original products.—n a o m i l i n d t

2 Artisans d’Angkor Stop in for handcarved images of Buddha and stunning high-end silk items, from scarves to cushion covers. The gem-toned, quilted jewelry travel pouches are both chic and practical. artisansdangkor.com.

3 Smateria Quirky accessory heaven is within reach thanks to the Italianrun label’s reinvention of local products: think passport holders, toiletry bags and large shopping totes fashioned out of old motorbike seat covers, recycled plastic bottles and finely woven farm netting. smateria.com. 4 Waterlily In the same space as Smateria, resourceful ingenuity holds equal sway at the Frenchowned brand, whose handy patchwork travel bags make use of old rice sacks and recycled cotton and denim. The jewelry is a Phnom Penh icon: look out for necklaces, earrings and rings created

exhibition

X-RAY ART Fashion is obsessed with surfaces, but it’s what lies beneath that intrigues U.K. photographer Nick Veasey, who specializes in X-ray photography. “Fashion X-Rayed” marks his debut French exhibition in Paris, showcasing 15 prints of everyday objects—handbags; jackets; headphones—with their internal workings exposed. The images are even wearable: T-shirts cost €30. Espace La Vallée, La Vallée Village; chicoutletshopping.com.

44 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

from plastic buttons. waterlilycreation.com. 5 Bambou Indochine Pick up souvenirfriendly T-shirts and hats printed with geckoes and other locally inspired imagery. There’s also a line of shimmery halter dresses and cotton tunics. No web. 6 Amata Round off your shopper’s marathon with a quick foot rub; 15 minutes of pre-flight relaxation costs just US$10. The locally made aromatherapy products— jasmine essential oil; green tea– infused body gel— let you take a little piece of Cambodia’s natural beauty home. amata-aroma.com.

style on the fly Clockwise from top right: Fashions from Ambre; Amata’s aromatherapy products; Amata at the airport; Smateria trades in quirky accessories; last-minute souvenirs at Bambou Indochine; Waterlily’s space.

hidden visions X-Ray artworks by Nick Veasey.

C l o c kw i s e f r o m t o p r i gh t : c o u r t e s y o f a m b r e ; c o u r t e s y o f a m a t a ; n i c k v e a s e y ( 3 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f a m a t a ; G i o r g i a P e s a r i n i ; J o h n M c D e r m o t t ( 2 ) ; C o u r t e s y o f W a t e r l i ly - P h n o m P e n h

1 Ambre Paris-trained couturier Romyda Keth’s eyecatching women’s wear—bandagedbodice dresses, bead-encrusted jackets, appliquédorganza skirts, fitted trenches—is coveted by the capital’s most glamorous. Look out for the selection of cute girl’s dresses in punchy colors and patterns. romydaketh. net.


leafy respite From top: The seating area at Matupayas; Jai Phak offers fresh salads for a song; ladling soup at Matupayas; pizza from Jo-Joe; creating sweet lunchtime treats at La Crêperie.

markets

Bangkok lunch stop

A DIFFERENT KIND OF LUXURY

For a break from Bangkok’s bustle, head to the vibrant, yearold Tonson99 Lifestyle Market (99 Soi Tonson, Chit Lom; 66/86325-1137; weekdays 10:30 a.m.– 2:30 p.m.), a tucked-away lunch spot serving tasty international fare. Here, five new stalls to try. n Matupayas Inspired by London’s New Covent Garden Soups, Sutthiphan Praphapatana offers healthy homemade recipes. Try the signature blend: nine vitaminpacked grains boiled in fresh milk. 66/85-151-4885; matupayas.com; lunch for two Bt60. n Jo-Joe A graduate of upscale Bangkok Italian joint Gianni, young Thai chef Lay Jamlong, known as Jo-Joe, caters to a crowd of regulars with some of the tastiest—and best-value—pastas and pizzas in the city. 66/86-0093176; lunch for two Bt180.

W a s i n e e Ch a n t a k o r n ( 5 )

n Jai Phak Suvisa Kulsuptrakul traded in her job as an air hostess to open this made-to-order salad booth. Enjoy toppings—chicken; pasta—fresh leaves and veggies, and dressings such as Japanese soy-sesame for just Bt49 a bowl. No phone; salad for two Bt98. n Dr. Sushi Granted, this isn’t the best sushi you’ll find in Bangkok, but you can still sit down to a remarkably decent set (choose from nine options) served from a quirky white motor tricycle. 662/899-7882; kusamai.com; lunch for two Bt120. n La Crêperie Run by a young French-Thai couple, this small wooden stall serves up crêpes with toppings like lime–sugar, chocolate, banana and condensed milk, and Nutella. 66/86-515-0595; crepes for two Bt60. —simon ostheimer

The Eastern & Oriental Express is an experience reserved for true individuals. Where the spirit of discovery lives in unexpected details, throwing new light on places you thought you knew well. From the serenity and breathtaking beauty viewed from our observation deck. To new culinary experiences in our fine dining carriage. To sharing stories in our legendary piano bar. It’s not just luxury; you’ll be talking about your journey long after our staff wave you farewell. What better way to experience the Eastern & Oriental Express spirit of discovery than aboard one of our legendary Classic Journeys. Our opulent 2 and 3 night excursions between Singapore and Bangkok offer unforgettable adventures that will sustain a lifetime’s conversation. For more information or to make a booking please contact our reservations desk directly on +65 6395 0678, or email us at oereservations.singapore@orient-express.com quoting code ‘T&L’. Singapore - Malaysia - Thailand - Laos www.orient-express.com/e&o


Bring your friends and family and join the fun!


5 DAYS RACING, 7 NIGHTS PARTYING

The Samui Regatta Experience, Thailand 3 days, 2 nights @ a 3* Hotel Starting from THB 10,500.- net Inclusive of: • 2 nights accommodation including breakfast • 1 set dinner at the resort • A day on The Regatta Spectator Boat including lunch • Airport Transfer • Regatta Goody Bag

3 days, 2 nights @ a 5* Hotel Starting from THB 16,500.- net Inclusive of: • 2 nights accommodation including breakfast • 1 set dinner at the resort • A day on The Regatta Spectator Boat including lunch • Airport Transfer • Regatta Goody Bag

30th May - 5th June 2011


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insider

destinations trends restaurants + more

beijing modern

Clockwise from top: The arty interior of Modo; Apothecary has an encyclopedic menu of drinks; Mosto serves up contemporary Latin fare.

THE NEW SANLITUN. talented

To p : co u rt e sy o f m o d o. b ot to m : c r a i g s i m o n s ( 2 )

young international chefs are turning Beijing’s once grungy entertainment district into a gastronomic oasis. By Jen Lin-Liu

travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 49


insider Restaurants

culinary capital

Clockwise from top: At Mosto, in Nali Patio; the North Asianinspired cuisine at Bei, in the Opposite House; the restaurant’s chic interior; Modo offers wine from enomatic dispensers.

Beijing’s Sanlitun district used to be known as a place for cheap beer or knock-off designer clothing. These days, the area’s best finds are its many young, talented international chefs. Firstclass dining landed here two years ago with the arrival of Bei (Sanlitun Rd. 11; 86-10/6410-5230; beirestaurant.com; dinner and drinks for two RMB1,200) in the basement of the Opposite House, one of Beijing’s flashiest boutique hotels. Max Levy, who hails from New Orleans and worked at New York’s Sushi Yasuda, serves up North Asian–inspired cuisine in a black-andpurple dining room decorated with whimsical flying light bulbs. “The idea behind Bei is that instead of doing food that’s simply authentic, we’re trying to do dishes well,” says the 32-year-old ponytailed chef. At the bar, enjoy sumptuous cuts of raw seafood, like Levy’s steelhead ocean trout with a tiny dollop of shiso paste or scallops flavored with salted lemon peel. But also save room for the main

50 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

menu, which features delicious dishes such as poached foie gras paired with a fillet of sweet grilled eel. MODO

If you’re craving flavors from other continents, head a few meters down to Sanlitun’s Village Mall for Modo (Sanlitun Bei Rd. 19; 86-10/64157207; dinner and drinks for two RMB700), an energetic nine-month-old eatery serving “small plates” and more than 100 wines that span the globe. “We don’t call them tapas because we want people to think international, not Spain,” says 31-year-old Venezuelan chef Daniel Urdaneta, who has cooked in South America, Spain and Miami. Dishes range from übertrendy Scandinavian delights such as smoked salmon smørrebrød, or Danish open-faced sandwiches, to the Italian-Argentinean comfort dish of malfati, balls of spinach and ricotta cheese served in a creamy sauce with diced pear. Expect to order two to three dishes, at an average price of RMB80 each, per person. The well-curated wine list includes Japanese sake, Chinese baijiu and an ample selection of reds and whites from the New World. The narrow, two-floor restaurant with an urban feel also boasts one of Beijing’s first enomatic wine f r o m to p : co u rt e sy o f M o sto ; co u rt e sy o f b e i ; co u rt e sy o f M o d o ; co u rt e sy o f B e i

BEI


urban buzz

Clockwise from far left: Mosto’s façade lights up at night; fresh flavors at the restaurant; Agua’s intimate Sanlitun space delivers haute Spanish cuisine.

TWO MORE SANLITUN STOPS

systems, which offers 16 self-service wines— available by the taste, the half-glass or the full glass—priced between RMB13 to RMB80. Take a seat at the second-floor communal table for twenty, or perch barside, where you can watch the baby-faced Urdaneta sear his seafood and meats in front of you.

c lo c kw i s e f r o m l e f t: co u rt e sy o f m o sto ( 2 ) ; co u rt e sy o f ag ua

MOSTO

For dining that’s more formal but equally flavorful, Urdaneta’s two-year-old contemporary Latin restaurant Mosto (Sanlitun Bei Rd. 81, third floor; 86-10/5208-6030; mostobj. com; three-course menu for two with wine RMB800) in the Nali Patio designer mall, just north of the Village Mall, has a sophisticated but simple menu of three courses. Urdaneta pulses heirloom tomatoes into a gazpacho garnished with chorizo, avocado and orange caviar, and pan-fries codfish with soy and honey to juicy perfection. Complementing the straightforward menu is an expansive wine list that includes an option of four to six half-glass wine pairings with your meal (four half-glass wine pairing RMB120; six half-glass wine pairing RMB150). Our favorites: the Australian rib-eye steak with the Catena Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina (2008), and the avocado and bluecrab yellow-potato causa with the Craggy Range Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand (2009).

AGUA

Just upstairs from Mosto, 34-year-old Barcelona native Jordi Valles has created a temple to Spanish cuisine at Agua (Sanlitun Bei Rd. 81, fourth floor; 86-10/5208-6188; aqua. com.hk; dinner and wine for two RMB1400). Part of the Aqua restaurant group in Hong Kong, the restaurant recently moved from Beijing’s Legation Quarter to an intimate Sanlitun space decked out with red velvet chairs, Moorish stained-glass lamps and dark leather banquettes. Valles, who has worked for several Michelin-starred restaurants in Europe, impresses with signature dishes such as crispy suckling pig with apricots and shallots, and creamy pumpkin soup with caramelized onions and poached egg (the latter is rumored to be a favorite dish of celebrity Jackie Chan’s). A diverse wine list featuring gems from Spain, Greece and Germany rounds out one of Beijing’s finest dining experiences. ✚

At Apothecary (Nali Patio, third floor, Sanlitun Bei Rd. 81; 8610/5208-6040;  apothecarybj.com; drinks for two RMB120), a bar coowned by Levy of Bei, you’ll get as giddy as a kid in a candy store over their drinks. The encyclopedic menu includes exotic concoctions such as Rum Sazerac, made with aged rum and chocolate bitters, and the baconinfused Bourbon Old Fashioned, plus more than a dozen bitters made from scratch in an array of flavors from lavender to Sichuan peppercorn. • If you’re craving a true sugar rush, stop into Colibri (A The Village North, lower ground level 51, Sanlitun Rd. 11; 86-10/6417-0808; colibricupcakes. com; cupcakes for two RMB50) for a taste of the cupcake craze that’s recently hit Beijing. Flavors range from carrot and zucchini to green tea and chocolate ganache.

travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 51


insider 48 hours

hidden honolulu. Whether

you’re in search of endless beaches, exotic orchids or the freshest poke in town, Jennifer flowers uncovers the local spots every visitor should know.

DAY 1

MORNING hike Honolulu is a city of

early risers, so join predawn joggers and bikers on the three-kilometer coastal path that skirts Diamond Head Crater, where you’ll pass sleepy-eyed surfers scoping out the water conditions below. For Oahu’s best sunrise, take the invigorating 45-minute hike to the summit. WEEKEND MARKET The starting bell

lunch break The office crowd lines up at Yama’s Fish Market (2332 Young

St.; 1-808/941-9994; lunch for two US$20), a concrete-floored takeout joint specializing in Hawaiian plate lunches. On the menu: laulau (pork and chicken wrapped in ti-plant leaves), 14 types of poke (marinated raw fish), sweet-and-sour spareribs and Yama’s creamy, coconut-based haupia dessert— one of the island’s best. garden state Follow the winding road through Palolo Valley’s residential Kaimuki neighborhood to Kawamoto ­Orchids (2630 Waiomao Rd.; 1-808/73252 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

A SHORE THING Clockwise from top:

Surfers at daybreak on Waikiki Beach, with Diamond Head Crater in the distance; outside Yama’s Fish Market; Yama’s owner Anne Yamamoto.

S u sa n S e u b e rt ( 3 ) ; l e i : © s ko d o n n e l l / i sto c k p h oto.co m

rings at 7:30 a.m. sharp at the Saturday KCC Farmer’s Market (Kapiolani Community College, 4303 Diamond Head Rd.; 1-808/848-2074), but if you’re akamai (“smart,” in Hawaiian), you’ve arrived early to preorder your tart apple bananas, purple Okinawan sweet potatoes, aged honey and fresh-baked breads. Fuel up on aromatic Kona coffee and sliced papaya with a wedge of lime.


A sweeping view of Waikiki Beach from Diamond Head.

© R o b e r t C r a v e n s / i s t o c kph o t o . c o m

5808; kawamotoorchids.com), a 1.2-hectare nursery where a gruff Les ­Kawamoto—the second-generation ­owner—will advise on which of the kaleidoscopic flowers have a fighting chance in your hometown. He will pack and ship your buds for you. For more immediate gratification, head to Lin’s (1017 ­Maunakea St.; 1-808/5374112; linsleishop.com) and C ­ indy’s (1034 Maunakea St.; 1-808/536-6538; cindysleishoppe.com), two family-owned lei makers in Chinatown—their fragrant pikake and plumeria leis start at just US$5. HAWAIIANA If retro island ephemera is your thing, Tincan Mailman (1026

Nuuanu Ave.; 1-08/524-3009; ­tincanmailman.net) is a must. The shop pays homage to 1950’s-era kitsch with silk Aloha shirts, hand-tinted »

OWH/HOTEL/2011/093_Travel&Leasure_203.2x133.35mm

Welcome to a world where daily discoveries can enrich your mind and nourish your soul. At the fringe of Kuala Lumpur city and 45 minutes from the airport, towers the 5-star One World Hotel. Humble as it appears from the outside, its interior paints a dramatically different picture of stunning crystal chandeliers and fine Italian marble artfully blended with Asian influences. Here, you will find a range of world-class facilities catering to the needs, comfort and interests of business and leisure guests alike. Function rooms spread over 5,000 sq.m., including a magnificent Imperial Ballroom with variable mood illumination and capacity to seat 2,000. 6 categories of guestrooms and suites, lavishly furnished with hi-tech interactive services managed via LCD TVs. 6 signature restaurants, lounge and bars serving innovative creations and daring fusion dreamed up by master chefs. And a spa that offers an easy access to an oasis of peace and tranquillity. Then there is the multi-award winning 1 Utama right next door, with more than 5 million sq.ft. to keep you intrigued at Malaysia’s only shopping centre with a Rainforest and Sky Mall. There’s also the Secret Garden of 1 Utama, South East Asia’s largest rooftop garden with over 500 species of rare tropical and temperate plants. To experience this world of daily discoveries, begin your journey at www.oneworldhotel.com.my.

The BrandLaureate SMEs Chapter Awards 2009 Corporate Branding Best Brands in Hotel – Business

Cinnamon Coffee House Malaysia Tourism Award 2008 - 2009 Innovative Restaurant Premier Award - International Restaurant

first avenue, bandar utama city centre, 47800 petaling jaya, selangor, malaysia. toll free domestic: 1300 88 7888 toll free international: 1800 88 7888 tel: 603 7681 1111 fax: 603 7681 1188 email: sales@oneworldhotel.com.my website: www.oneworldhotel.com.my


insider 48 hours postcards, and mahogany and motherof-pearl ukuleles.

comfort food The housemade noodles at the always crowded Jimbo (1936 S. King St.; 1-808/947-2211; lunch for two US$40), in the bustling center of town, have a cult ­following. Order the nabeyaki udon, served in an earthenware pot with a ­bonitobased broth and topped with shrimp and eggplant tempura.

small bites  Finding Hale ­Vietnam

(1140 12th Ave.; 1-808/735-7581; dinner for two US$30), down a tiny side street in Kaimuki, is part of the fun. You’ll be rewarded with fresh rice noodle salad topped with grilled pork and crispy, tender-on-the-inside spring rolls (the secret: taro).

DAY 2 seaside jaunt

The macadamia nut pancakes at Boots & Kimos (151 Hekili St.; 1-808/263-7929; breakfast for two US$20), smothered in a sugar and butter concoction with macadamia shavings, are reason enough to make the 15-minute drive along the lush Pali Highway to Kailua. But don’t miss Lanikai Beach Park, a few minutes east, where locals take their morning strolls on the kilometer-long whitesand beach. far east flavors The Honolulu outpost of Japan’s oldest department store is now locally owned, but Shirokiya (1450 Ala Moana Blvd.; 1-808/973-9111; shirokiya.com) still delivers all the products any selfrespecting Japanophile could ever crave, from rice cookers and red bean–filled manju buns to US$200 bottles of sake. 54 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

ISLAND TREASURES

From top: Panroasted opah fish with local vegetables at Town; Kawamoto nursery’s colorful orchids; pickled mango and Chinese salted plum shave ice at Shimazu Store; a bustier made from kimono and obi fabric at the Anne Namba boutique.

made to measure Her use of vintage Japanese kimono and obi fabrics has earned Honolulu native Anne Namba (324 Kamani St.; 1-808/5891135; annenamba.com) a name outside Hawaii. In 2009 she designed the Savonlinna Opera Festival’s ­Madama Butterfly costumes, and fans include Hillary Clinton and ­A retha Franklin. Namba’s namesake shop sells her latest creations, from evening gowns to clutches and men’s shirts. sugar rush Though it’s not much to look at—a pocket-size operation with a single bench outside—the beloved Shimazu Store (330 N. School St.; 1-808/371-8899; dessert for two US$6) is a fine place to beat the afternoon heat. Owner Kelvin Shimazu mixes 64 flavors of shave ice by hand. He’s earned a reputation for dreaming up new flavors (crème brûlée) while doing justice to old favorites (li hing; pickled mango). final feast Seasonal ingredients are front and center at Town (3435 ­Waialae Ave.; 1-808/735-5900; dinner for two US$70), where the menu changes nightly. A few recent standouts: risotto with pepeiao (­Hawaiian wood ear mushrooms) and a tender Big Island strip loin. ✚

F r o m To p : L i n n y M o r r i s ; Ta r a V o r h e s ; S u s a n S e u b e r t ( 2 )

drinks Once-gritty Chinatown is undergoing a mini renaissance, thanks to the likes of French-­inspired Brasserie du Vin (1115 Bethel St.; 1-808/545-1115; drinks for two US$16). The candlelit space, across from the historic Hawaii Theatre, offers more than 200 wines from around the world.


insider

Neighborhood

HONG KONG’S NEW energy.

boutiques, cafés and galleries are reviving a hidden corner of the city. story and photographs by Christopher DeWolf

SHOP Tai Ping Shan Street is the perfect place for a leisurely stroll. Stop by Rat’s Cave (18A Tai Ping Shan St.; 852/3484-8577; startfromzero.org), a street-wear store opened by prolific street-art crew Start from Zero, for dark, post-industrial clothing, art and accessories.Allwhite space Haji (24C Tai Ping Shan St.; 852/28911164) is as bright as Rat’s Cave is dark: a cozy but airy art and photography gallery that also sells T-shirts, bags and accessories from Hong Kong and Japan.

SEE Tapping into the SAR’s shutterbug proclivities, The Upper Station (22 Upper Station St.; 852/34862474; theupperstation. com) stages exhibitions of contemporary photography with a fine-art and socialdocumentary bent. Look out for work by So Hing Keung, Michael Wolf, Dustin Shum and John Choy, and don’t miss the small but excellent selection of photography books for sale.

The quiet, hilly area around Blake Garden, in Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan district, is one of the city’s most atmospheric. Once associated with the macabre—in 1894, an outbreak of bubonic plague swept through overcrowded tenements, killing more than 2,500 people—today, this low-key neighborhood is enjoying a new lease of life. It’s all thanks to a a flock of creative tenants—designers, gallerists and café owners—drawn here by the affordable rents and close-knit, indie vibe. Below, eight exciting newcomers. ✚ SHOP Scandinavian chic rules at Square Street Studio (15 Square St.; 852/2362-1086; voidwatches. com), the workspace-cum-boutique of Swedish designers David Ericsson and Alexis Holm. Their stylish wares range from sleek, minimalist watches to casual shoes made from printed linen. Up the street, textile artist Edith Cheung’s Cloth Haven  (43-45 Square St.; 852/2546-0378; clothhaven.com) is a warm studio that doubles as a bookstore, textile gallery and craft boutique. Every second Sunday, a craft fair draws the city’s young makers.

RELAX

A short jaunt up picturesque Pound Lane is the neighborhood’s newest arrival: Hammer Gallery and Café Loisl (8A Tai On Terrace; 852/3481-8213), owned by husband-and-wife team Andreas Aigner and Sirkka Hammer. In one half of the shop, Hammer (hammer-design.hk) showcases beautiful handcrafted jewelry from Europe, while in the other, Loisl (cafeloisl. com; coffee and pastries for two HK$120) is a Viennese café serving locally roasted coffee and Austrian pastries. Barista Franck Chan pulls a mean espresso; try a Verlängerter with a slice of streusel.

56 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

SNACK With its mismatched furniture and cute décor, the tiny Homei (22 Tai Ping Shan St.; 852/28579991; drinks and snacks for two HK$70) is a lovely spot to spend a quiet afternoon of people watching. Mingle with the café’s creative clientele and order a freshly baked muffin with ginger-citron tea—all made in-house by owner Mei Mak, who gave up a job in a shoe business to fulfill her dream of creating the perfect blueberry cheesecake.

PLAY On evenings and weekend afternoons, Oscary Wine & Art (8A Tai Ping Shan St.; 852/2964-9111) throws open its metal shutters and kicks off an exuberant session of outdoor art jamming and wine drinking— note that the place doesn’t actually have a liquor license, so you’re encouraged to BYOB. A flat fee (HK$150 weekdays, HK$280 weekends) will get you snacks, a canvas, a palette and all of the creativity you can muster.


CHIC OUTLET SHOPPINGツョ

9 Reasons to Shop

European LONDON BICESTER VILLAGE | DUBLIN KILDARE VILLAGE PARIS LA VALLテ右 VILLAGE | MADRID LAS ROZAS VILLAGE BARCELONA LA ROCA VILLAGE | MILAN / BOLOGNA FIDENZA VILLAGE BRUSSELS / ANTWERP / COLOGNE MAASMECHELEN VILLAGE FRANKFURT WERTHEIM VILLAGE | MUNICH INGOLSTADT VILLAGE

Top left Bicester Village; Top right Kildare Village; Bottom left Las Rozas Village; Bottom right Fidenza Village


Chic Outlet Shopping ® The leading luxury outlet shopping EXPERIENCE

S

hopping for your favourite brands in Europe has never been such a rewarding adventure. The nine Chic Outlet Shopping® Villages are located just outside of some of Europe’s most exciting cities, which are recognised as must-see destinations for those seeking a fine bounty of European culture, lifestyle, fashion and gastronomy. Discover a new world of affordable luxury in some 900 luxury outlet boutiques from leading international and niche European luxury fashion and lifestyle brands, with exceptional savings on genuine, previous seasons’ collections of up to 60%* – and sometimes more – whenever you visit, whatever time of year. Here, too, in the tranquil Village setting take time to experience the fine regional and international cuisine from a selection of restaurants and cafés you will discover along the elegantly landscaped, open-air promenades – providing a superbly relaxing shopping experience. These chic destinations are a ‘must’ for your European travels. In fact you may want to plan your itinerary around them.

Brands include Antik Batik, Armani, Diane von Furstenberg, Jimmy Choo, Lancel, Lalique, Paul Smith and Zadig & Voltaire.

4

Madrid Las Rozas Village

If you’re in the Madrid region, head to Las Rozas Village. A firm favourite among the elegant Madrileños as a destination to shop and be seen, Las Rozas Village’s more than 100 chic boutiques offer high Spanish fashion amidst a selection of the most prestigious names from the international stage with savings of up to 60%*.

Brands include Armand Basi, Belstaff, Burberry, Bulgari, CH Carolina Herrera Company Store, Custo Barcelona, Loewe and Polo Ralph Lauren.

5

Barcelona La Roca Village

La Roca Village is an appealing reflection of Spanish life amidst boutiques of leading designer brands offering visitors savings of up to 60%*. Forty minutes outside Barcelona, on the road to the Costa Brava and conveniently close to the French border, this is must-visit in the area. Extend your shopping visit and enjoy some tapas in one of the Village’s eateries.

1

London Bicester Village

If you’re visiting Oxfordshire or the Cotswolds, a trip to Bicester Village, just 60 minutes from central London, is a must. Enjoy superb savings of up to 60%* on the best of iconic British fashion and international designer brands in over 130 boutiques. Dining options include Busaba Eathai, a modern Thai eatery, and French restaurant Villandry, both London culinary institutions.

Brands include Alexander McQueen, Anya Hindmarch, Diane von Furstenberg, Marni, Matthew Williamson, Mulberry, Smythson, Tod’s, Vivienne Westwood and Yves Saint Laurent.

2

Dublin Kildare Village

County Kildare, famed for its tradition of horse racing, is the home of Kildare Village, 60 minutes

from Dublin and Ireland’s only luxury outlet shopping destination. Bag some bargains from revered Irish and international brands offering up to 60%* reductions, no matter the time of year, in over 60 boutiques. There’s a restaurant and deli serving Italian cuisine so take your time shopping and enjoy some Irish hospitality.

Brands include Anya Hindmarch, Cath Kidston, DKNY, Furla, Jack Wills, Juicy Couture, Louise Kennedy, Thomas Pink and Tommy Hilfiger.

3

Paris La Vallée Village

Just 35 minutes east of Europe’s style capital, five minutes from Disney® Parks and on the road to the Champagne region, is La Vallée Village. Shop French chic from a selection of leading designer names alongside international brands with exceptional savings, all year long.

Brands include Armand Basi, Comptoir des Cotonniers, Custo Barcelona, Escada Sport, Hugo Boss, Pretty Ballerinas, Spazio Dolce & Gabbana and Swarovski.

6

Milan / Bologna Fidenza Village

Sixty minutes from Milan, the historic city of Parma and its surrounding gastronomic region are not the only reasons to visit this part of Italy. Fidenza Village offers the leading Italian fashion and lifestyle brands, as well as international designers, with savings of up to 70%* in over 100 boutiques. Head to the Village’s own restaurants and delicatessen for a selection of the region’s finest produce to sample or take home.

Brands include Armani, Bruno Magli, Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein Collection, Class Roberto Cavalli, Elizabeth Hurley Beach, Frette, Missoni, Osklen, Paul Smith, Swarovski, Simonetta and Trussardi Jeans.

7

Brussels / Antwerp / Cologne

Maasmechelen Village

Whether you are in Belgium, Germany or the Netherlands, Maasmechelen Village is a mustvisit. Discover quintessential Dutch, German and Belgian names (amongst the international heavy weights) in fashion and luxuries for the home, with savings of 30% to 60%*. Around 60 minutes from Brussels, Antwerp and Cologne and 20 minutes from Maastricht, over 100 elegant boutiques line an immaculately presented openair boulevard, with a choice of restaurants and cafés to suit all tastes.

Brands include Desigual, Escada, Elizabeth Hurley Beach, Façonnable, Furla, Hugo Boss, Marlies Dekkers, Olivier Strelli, Sarah Pacini and Scapa.

8

Frankfurt Wertheim Village

Frankfurt is a city of contrasts: a financial hub, an artistic centre and a horticultural haven. Fifty minutes away, Wertheim Village is home to a similarly diverse mix – German, European and nonEuropean brands here in over 110 boutiques are all reduced by up to 60%*, whenever you visit. Located at the gateway to the Romantic Road, this is an elegant shopping destination offering superb value.

Brands include Baldessarini, Bally, Belstaff, Desigual, Elizabeth Hurley Beach, Escada, Furla, Longchamp, Schumacher, Tumi and Wolford.

9

Munich Ingolstadt Village

Munich is known as one of the world’s best places to live. Fifty minutes away, Ingolstadt Village, host to leading German and iconic internationally famous brands, has established itself as a fitting nearby addition to a city that enjoys an enviable international reputation. Shop here in over 110 boutiques for the pick of previous seasons’ collections in fashion and lifestyle with savings of up to 60%*.

Brands include 7 For All Mankind, Aigner, Baldessarini, Bogner, Coccinelle, Escada, Furla, MCM, Philipp Plein, Tumi and Wolford.


CHIC OUTLET SHOPPING®

Top:

La Vallée Village, Paris

Bottom left:

Maasmechelen Village, Brussels / Antwerp / Cologne

Bottom right:

Fidenza Village, Milan / Bologna

PLAN YOUR VISIT Visiting the Villages couldn’t be simpler. www.ChicOutletShopping.com/planyourvisit allows you to plan your journey and purchase tickets for the Shopping Express, a luxury coach service that operates from nearby cities, transporting you in style directly to the Village. Alternatively to book your European holiday contact: ASA Holidays in Singapore: www.asaholiday.com or +65 6303 5303 Holiday Tours & Travel Sdn Bhd in Malaysia: www.holidaytours.com.my or +603 6286 6288

Download the free Chic Outlet Shopping® app from the App Store now. Also available for Android from the Android Market.

*on the (former) recommended retail price. © Value Retail PLC 2011


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spring in your step originally made   in 13th-century spain,  the espadrille has  become a chic and  easy travel staple.  By Liz wallace . Styled by Mimi Lombardo for a shoe traditionally made out of canvas and esparto grass, the espadrille has logged a lot of miles over the years. First worn by Catalan peasants in the 1200’s, by the mid 1900’s they were all over Europe, slipping on and off the feet of Salvador Dalí, Coco Chanel and Brigitte Bardot. In 1970 the look went high fashion when Yves Saint Laurent sent a high-heeled, gold-ribboned pair down his runway. Since then the shoe has been reimagined season after season, appearing on travelers from Malibu to Marrakesh—and no wonder. Whether a graphic Tory Burch flat or a wedge sandal by Coach, the espadrille is the tunic of footwear: easily tucked into a weekender, it can go for a stroll along the beach or a night out on the town. ✚

SHOE-IN From top: Rope-and-rubber platform with stretch-canvas upper, by andrE assous; leather flat with jute sole, COLE HAAN; suede-andrope sling-back, CHARLES DAVID; canvas-and-jute wedge, COACH; printed canvas flat, tory burch; cotton-and-rubber sandal, lands’ end; canvas slip-on, emporio armani.

Photographed by Teru Onishi Styled by Mimi Lombardo Photographed by Charles Masters

travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 61


[st] shopping

CHIANG MAI’S BEST BOUTIQUES Thailand’s laid-back northern city is a trove of singular finds, from fashion-forward jewelry to bold objets d’art. By Robyn Eckhardt

siam style

Clockwise from top left: Koland offers one-off finds; Kome Tong stocks sleek ceramics; brightly hued homeware at Koland; Kitty+ Rabbit+Squirrel is the brainchild of three Thai designer sisters.

62 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

Photographed by Marisa Marchitelli


M

ention shopping in Chiang Mai and most travelers think hill-tribe textiles and the Night Bazaar. Yet thanks to a large population of creatives and a growing expatriate community, the city’s shopping scene has taken a turn for the contemporary. Across Chiang Mai’s spreading sprawl, from trendy Nimmanhaemin Road (Nimman to locals) to the serene west bank of the Ping River, in sleek showrooms and trendy boltholes, singular—and often shockingly inexpensive—finds await the dedicated shopper.

■ CLOTHING Easy to miss on café-crowded Nimman, compact Pattern Parade (Tall Teak Plaza, 43 Nimmanhaemin Rd.; no phone) stocks a spare but well-curated selection of inexpensive dresses, separates and bags, sourced from small producers in China by owner Koong Phosanga. A recent visit turned up floaty chiffon blouses in mod 60’s prints (Bt590), long, skinny, thick-knit striped tanks (Bt200) and nubby linen totes in saturated primary colors bearing Chinese papercutout designs (Bt200). New shipments arrive on Sundays, so shop early in the week for the best selection. “Daily, cute and a little bit vintage” is how Waree, one of a trio of sister designers, describes the clothing and accessories at butter-yellow boutique Kitty+Rabbit+Squirrel (No. 28 Nimman Promenade, Nimmanhaemin Soi 4; no phone; kit-bit-s.blogspot.com). The sisters’ palette ranges from bold and bright—think flower prints and plaids on knee-length cottonand-silk pleated skirts (Bt690)—

to muted pastel stripes on a cotton-quilted double-breast blazer (Bt1,290). For men, there’s a small selection of long-sleeved cotton sateen shirts (Bt690).

northern chic From

top: Nomad stocks colorful floor cushions; floaty dresses at Pattern Parade; a leather clutch at Suchada; Koland’s array of stylish curios.

■ LEATHER GOODS Find sporty purses and bags fashioned from deliciously luxe leathers at Suchada (No. 15 Nimman Promenade; Nimmanhaemin Soi 4; no phone). Especially tempting are yellow stitched legal-pad-size envelope bags in super-supple cherry or dark-chocolate (Bt4,200) leather, and roomy tobaccohued book satchels (Bt4,250). With 10 days’ notice, any style can be made to order in a range of shades. Size isn’t an issue at Palmy (Nimmanhaemin Soi 5; 668/1472-0607; palmycollections. com); if Pitiporn Batpim isn’t stocking a shoe that fits you, she’ll make it. The 27-year-old designer–cobbler, who studied at the London College of Fashion, combines style and comfort— think butter-soft leather and cushy arch supports—in footwear christened with names like Ava (lavender round-toed strap-back flats, Bt1,350) and Rena (retro open-toed pumps in mottled mahogany leather with burgundy piping, Bt1,990). For special orders, allow two weeks. ■ JEWELRY Just steps from Thapae Gate, slate-gray shop Nova (201 Thapae Rd.; 66-53/273058; nova-collection.com) displays covetable contemporary jewelry pieces by four in-house designers. Recent highlights included a stainless-steel, silver and rose-gold cuff by Jaturaporn Lochotinun (Bt6,750), and Canadian co-owner Patrick Lemmon’s circular reversible » travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 63


[st] shopping pendant necklace, consisting of delicate ruby and cubic zirconium between horizontally stacked bands of silver suspended from a burgundy silk chord (Bt9,950). Realize your own vision with a bespoke piece—ready in three to seven days—or a five-day jewelrymaking workshop (Bt5,500). ■ ONE-OFF FINDS Enter Koland (Nimmanhaemin Soi 1;

66-53/214-715) and prepare for sensory overload. The dimunitive, light-filled, chandelier-bedecked shop is a treasure box of colorful, quirky finds from Chiang Mai, China and Turkey. Hand-etched leather bucket bags in citron and burnt orange (Bt1,890) beg to be worn with one-of-a-kind leather-soled shoes by Suzhou Cobblers; think jade corduroy slip-ons piped in magenta silk and embellished with a single red star (Bt3,900). For the home, there are hefty bell-shaped glass tumblers in robin-egg blue and seafoam (Bt350), stacks of burlap pillows in neon solids (Bt150) and wild Chinese flower–printed beanbag chairs (Bt6,800). ■ INTERIORS AND FURNISHINGS A loft-like glass

showroom on the Old City’s periphery sets the stage for Nomad (199 Moonmuang Rd.; 66-53/419-014), an inspired mix of objets and home furnishings both traditional and modern. Look for Balinese woven offering boxes updated with iridescent white beading (Bt10,900) and vivid velvet floor pillows trimmed in mismatched fabric swatches (from Bt1,390). Repurposed wood features in many of Nomad’s most striking pieces, such as a wash-painted 64 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

laid-back luxe

From top: Kome Tong showcases paper-inspired designs; Thitichai Arkaraoilapin at his shop, Fai Sor Kam; Palmy’s shoes can be made to order; contemporary jewelry on display at Nova.

wardrobe with massive double doors from western India (Bt69,000), and chunky unvarnished bowls and platters made from recycled Sumatran timber (from Bt2,990). Housed in an old wooden shophouse in out-of-the-way riverside neighborhood Wat Gate, Kome Tong (64 Charoenraj Rd.; 66-53/ 320-401; kometong.wordpress.com) is a showroom for architect– designer Rattanaphol Taja’s Cosmic Ocean, a lacey, foldable PVC cutout (from Bt1,075), and humorously bulbous papiermâché Egg ceiling lamps (Bt9,500). Named after a type of lantern (kome) and a Thai papercut technique (tong), the store also stocks handmade cards (Bt40), special-edition T-shirts (Bt850) and even ceramics embellished with Taja’s own tong-inspired patterns. ■ WEARABLE ART Just around the corner from Kome Tong, a turquoise blue storefront marks Fai Sor Kam (Fai Sor Kam Charoenraj Rd.; 66-8/3319-7321), which showcases the work of fabric designer and ceramicist Thitichai Arkaraoilapin. A small rack of humdrum Thai-styled separates hides fashion-forward finds like gold cowl-necked blouses in shiny cotton-silk (Bt2,800), ideally accessorized with a slouchy shoulder bag silkscreened in shades of dusky gray and midnight blue (Bt1,200). Back in Nimman, multimedia artist Torlarp Larpjaroensook offers acrylic paint-splashed computer bags and briefcases (Bt1,800) and hand-embroidered T-shirts (Bt350) at Hern (Hern Gallery See Scape, 22/1 Nimmanhaemin Soi 17; no phone), his tiny cement-floored, zincroofed shop cum gallery. ✚


[st] airport shopping

Terminally Chic     looking for  Last-minute gifts?  Hard-to-find  beauty products?  Otherwise sold- out Gucci boots? kate betts reports on the most glamorous (and underrated) aspect of  flying now: duty-free shopping. Styled by Mimi Lombardo  

66 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

runway ready

Shot on location at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. All brands are available at the airport. On him: Wool suit and cotton shirt, by ermenegildo zegna; silk tie, paul smith accessories; leather shoes, kurt geiger; glasses, cartier; leather case, smythson. On her: Cotton-twill trench and leather heels, by dkny; stretch-­poplin top and jeans, polo ralph lauren; silk tie, thomas pink; calfskin tote, smythson; faux-croc duffel, jimmy choo.

Photographed by Douglas Friedman


f r o m to p : c o u r t e sy o f pa u l s m i t h ; © Pa h a _ l / D r e a m s t i m e .c o m ( 2 )

boots at Milan’s Malpensa airport, shopping at the Valentino The sun had not yet come up, and Paris’s Charles de boutique in Rome’s Fiumicino Terminal 3, or calling ahead Gaulle airport was practically empty at 6:30 a.m. on a chilly to her Chanel salesperson at Heathrow’s Terminal 3 to make day last January, but the Hermès boutique in Terminal 2E sure they had a certain dress in her size. was open and the saleslady was more than happy to show “It’s my obsession. If I could be anywhere in the world, me the putty-colored Jypsière bag advertised in the I’d like to be in Terminal 5 at Heathrow,” she says, laughing. window for €4,600. Did I mention it was 6:30 in the That’s where she finds Smythson diary morning? I hadn’t even had a café crème refills, Boots chemist vitamins and a yet and the bank where I hoped to duty-free up great Elemis spa. Ratti regularly flies in change a pocketful of euros back into close: three top and out of Geneva, Zurich, Venice, pathetic dollars was still not staffed. But terminals Milan’s Malpensa, JFK and Heathrow, there I was, already clocking 12 percent and often does her Christmas shopping discounts at Hermès, Yves Saint Laurent Heathrow, London at Venice’s Marco Polo airport. “In and Prada. Once limited to tax-free Terminal 5 Zurich there’s a whole side of duty-free cigarettes, vodka and the occasional What You’ll Find Harrods, that’s open until 10 p.m. seven days a box of chocolate, the US$37 billion Thomas Pink, week, which is a real convenience,” global duty-free shopping business has Ted Baker, she says. “If you arrive late from a trip taken on a whole new look since the Smythson, Mulberry, Links of London—if you can still buy food to take home.” concept made its debut in Ireland’s the designer speaks with a The best duty-free shopping really Shannon Airport in 1947. British accent, it’s here. Insider Tip Pop into Paul does depend on the destination. Madrid’s “If you walk through any airport you Smith Globe for smartly Barajas Airport has a great selection of would think the world was run by ten tailored clothing and travel wines, Zurich has a branch of the Swiss brands,” says Paris-based Italian designer games, or browse rare books in the reading room. chocolatier Sprüngli and Charles de Giambattista Valli, referring to the Gaulle has Hédiard, where Ratti has plethora of Dior, Chanel, Prada and Gucci Charles de Gaulle, been known to buy a cheese plate, “if I’m boutiques popping up alongside every Paris feeling brave and can sit with it on my runway. One of Valli’s discoveries on a Terminal 2 lap on the plane!” The ne plus ultra of recent trip to Asia was a trove of Pañpuri What You’ll Find Finally, duty-free shopping can be found in Hong beauty products at the Bangkok airport. a place to buy Kong—“like New York’s Fifth Avenue in Of course, fragrances and beauty products those jewellike Ladurée ­macarons an airport”—that Ratti says is worth have long been a staple of most duty-free outside the city. There’s also the detour. Even in Nairobi, on the way shops. I remember stocking up on such Beauty Unlimited for upscale home from a safari, Ratti discovered a European products, and the hard-to-find French pharmacy products innovative kids’ shop Quand store selling beautiful locally produced as Embryolisse and Avène at Orly airport le Chat n’est pas là. Insider children’s pajamas and caftans. in the mid 1990’s. But these days, those Tip Get last-minute gifts at the Réunion des Musées In my latest early-morning spree quaint pharmacies and organic beauty Nationaux, including pieces at Charles de Gaulle I caressed piles of shops are often overshadowed by the inspired by artworks from French museums such as brightly colored cashmere sweaters at more glamorous luxury brands. Much of the Louvre and Versailles. Ralph Lauren, ogled Cartier’s white-gold the growth in duty-free shopping in the Ballon Bleu watch and even tried on Van past 10 years can be attributed to security Leonardo da VinciCleef & Arpels’s long Alhambra necklace. measures that force travelers to arrive Fiumicino, The Prada shop had a black-and-whiteearlier and therefore spend more time at Rome Terminal 3, checked floor just like the one in its airports. Once they’ve cleared security— Area C Galleria Vittorio Emanuele shop in Milan, potentially enduring the dreaded What You’ll a detail that seemed to make a black nylon pat-down—fliers now find themselves in a Find Prada, ­Gucci, Armani, Valentino, trolley for €1,148 all the more alluring. virtual luxury shopping mall where the Etro and almost any other I considered buying a few chic Prada doors open at dawn and often don’t close luxury brand ending in a vowel. Insider Tip For men: pouches in rich shades of fuchsia and until almost midnight. there’s one of the world’s tangerine as last-minute gifts. And I even My friend Michela Ratti, a fragrance only airport Ferrari outiques, wandered into a kids’ store selling Burberry executive based in Geneva, clued me in with leather jackets, T-shirts and more emblazoned with and Bonpoint. Seven in the morning still to the bargains and services now available the automaker’s logo (sorry, seemed awfully early. Instead I settled on a when she regaled me with stories about the car’s not for sale). Hello Kitty T-shirt for my daughter. ✚ tracking down a pair of “sold-out” Gucci travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 67


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[st] uniform

headto-choo

H a i r : L e o n a r d Z a g a m i f o r A n t h o n y L e o n a r d S a l o n . c o m . m a k e u p : c h i c h i s a i to at b a g e n c y n y u s i n g d i o r b e a u t y

  for Tamara mellon,  founder of jimmy choo, looking  good on the go is all just part of the job. Styled by Mimi Lombardo “I overpack,” says Jimmy Choo chief creative officer Tamara Mellon, OBE. “Always!” For a woman with an estimated collection of 1,000 pairs of shoes, that can sometimes mean checking four to eight suitcases. The English-born, New York–based executive’s main route is JFK to Heathrow, but since Jimmy Choo is a go-to label for A-list actresses, flying to Los Angeles for glitzy ­Hollywood parties also counts as a business trip. She takes a surprisingly streamlined approach when it comes to her travel look, however. “My rule,” Mellon says, “is to keep it simple.” She starts with J Brand stretch jeans and a cotton T by Alexander Wang top, and adds a blazer—such as this wool-blend style, also by ­Alexander Wang. She accessorizes with leather biker boots and oversize sunglasses— “you never feel good when you get off a plane, so it’s great to hide behind a big pair of shades”—both by ­Jimmy Choo. Her mock-croc tote and wheelie are from the brand’s recently launched 24/7 bag collection. After all, you’re going to need the right luggage if you pack 30 pairs of shoes “just in case.” —james patrick herman

Photographed by Christopher Sturman

what’s in her bag? fit for the road “I’m sure to bring Tracy Anderson’s Mat Workout DVD, so I can exercise in my hotel room.” magazine “I always pick up the British edition of fashion weekly Grazia at the airport. It’s my guilty pleasure.” pants Mellon might seem like the type who wouldn’t be caught dead in sweatpants, but once on board she changes into a cotton pair from T by Alexander Wang. towelettes She brings Wet Ones antibacterial hand wipes to freshen up on the plane. aromatherapy “To relax, I put a few drops of Aveda lavender oil on my travel pillow.” Moisturizers “Flying is so dehydrating. I carry Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream and Systane eyedrops, and rather than foundation I use Bobbi Brown tinted moisturize.” Fragrance For now, Mellon only has to pack one perfume bottle; she created the brand’s new namesake fragrance —versatile enough for any occasion­— with the ­essence of tiger orchid.

www.travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 69


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FAMILY Special Section

c o u r t e s y o f i n t e r c o n t i n e n ta l b a l i r e s o r t

Kid-friendly tips for:

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travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 71


family special

THE PERFECT WEEKEND: BALI, PHUKET, HONG KONG

Planning a trip with your kids, but not sure where to start? Mio Debnam, a writer for family-friendly guidebook series kidsGo!, gives T+L her insider tips for a fun-filled weekend in three popular Asian destinations. — s t eve m o l l m a n

Enter kidsGo!, a new series of travel guides published by Haven Books (havenbooksonline. com). Each guide brings together useful tips about a destination from parents who live in that destination, or have extensive traveling experience there. With an easy writing style and fun

72 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

chapter titles like “Be a Culture Vulture” and “Food, Glorious Food,” the books reveal the best kid-friendly places to visit for each of its locations and weeds out the rest. In Asia, the series so far covers Bali, Phuket and Hong Kong. The latter is home to kidsGo! writer Mio Debnam, an author of children’s books, a parent of two teenagers and an organizer of many family trips herself. We asked Debnam, fresh off her research, to suggest a fun-filled weekend at each destination.

BALI

SATURDAY Starting in Ubud, fuel up on the fabulous local fruit then go for a walk through the Monkey Forest. Go as far as the forest temple, then double back, taking care not to get too close to the monkeys, who might bite or steal. After an Indonesian lunch at Café Wayan (Jln. Monkey Forest, Ubud; 62361/975-447; lunch for four Rp400,000)—the nasi goreng is popular with young palates—go whitewater rafting along the Ayung river, suitable for kids aged seven and up; try

adventure-tour outfit Sobek Bali Utama (62-361/768050; balisobek.com). Later, catch a dance performance over dinner—ask your hotel’s concierge what’s on where. “Sitting under the stars listening to gamelan music is magical,” says Debnam. SUNDAY For a bit of culture, head a short distance from Ubud to Gunung Kawi, a collection of shrines carved into rock (note: climbing stairs and walking involved). Also see the beautiful temple Pura Tirta Empul nearby, where offerings are made to the spirits. Spend the afternoon

C o u r t e s y o f H av e n B o o k s ( 2 )

Organizing a trip is rarely easy—especially when you're traveling with children. Most guidebooks don’t tell parents what they really need to know: Namely, what are the best family-friendly places and activities a destination has to offer?


at the Elephant Safari Park Lodge (Jln. Elephant Park Taro, Ubud; 62-361/721-480; elephantsafariparklodge. com), where you can catch an elephant show before going on a forest safari, swaying on the back of a pachyderm. Back in town, stop by Ubud’s craft market—“Don’t forget to bargain!” advises Debnam— before finishing the day with a swim at your hotel or villa.

PHUKET

SATURDAY Head for the ATV Park (66-76/617-737; atvphuket.com). After a quick safety lesson, get your adrenaline up with a wild ride through the jungle— kids aged eight and above can drive their own vehicle, while kids four and up need a grownup at the wheel. Next, explore the roads and temples (especially the Shrine of Serene Light) of Phuket Town, where you can enjoy tasty Thai fare at the Natural Restaurant (62/5 Soi Phutorn, Bangkok Rd.; 66-76/224-287; naturalrestaurant-phuket. com; dinner for four Bt1,100), which is built around some trees. “The phad thai noodles and satay are good,” notes Debnam. “And you can ask the staff to tone down the chili to make the dishes more kid-friendly.”

HONG KONG

SATURDAY Absorb some local culture on a stroll around one of the city’s older neighborhoods. Start at the incense-filled Man Mo Temple on Hollywood Road, wander along Cat Street bazaar and head down along Queen’s Road West. Retrace your footsteps a bit then explore the streets of Sheung Wan. On the way, keep your eyes peeled for exotic dried goods such as seahorses, as well as incredibly detailed paper household items—mobile

phones; bags of money—that are burned for use by spirits in the afterlife. Take the Star Ferry to Kowloon and visit the bustling markets near Prince Edward Road: kids will love the goldfish and bird section. “Though these neighborhoods are becoming somewhat gentrified, you can still see a lot of ‘real’ Hong Kong street life,” says Debnam. At dusk, ride the tram up to the Peak and admire the twinkling lights of the city, then have dinner in the garden of the Peak Lookout (121 Peak Rd.; 852/2849-1000; thepeaklookout.com.hk; dinner for four HK$1,000). The menu is international— escargot; sushi—while pasta, sandwiches and thick, juicy burgers are available for picky eaters. Don’t miss the 15-minute laser show that lights up the harbor at 8 p.m.

catch a bus down to Lower Cheung Sha Beach for lunch at the Thai restaurant Hightide (35 Lower Cheung Sha Village; 852/2980-3002; hightidehk.com; lunch for four HK$480), which is right on the sand, followed by lazing on the beach or paddling rented kayaks or boogie boards. Back in town, sit down to a meal that requires “audience participation,” like Korean barbecue at Secret Garden (Bank of America Tower, ground floor, 12 Harcourt Rd., Central; 852/2801-7990; dinner for four HK$700) or Peking duck at Peking Garden (Alexandra House, 16 Chater Rd., Central; 852/2526-6456; dinner for four HK$950).

SUNDAY Head out to Lantau island. Hope for clear skies and ride the scenic Ngong Ping 360 cable car (11 Tat Tung Rd.; 852/36660606; np360.com.hk) to the Big Buddha statue. Then

C o u r t e s y o f H av e n B o o k s ( 2 )

SUNDAY If you’re not too far away, indulge in

the generous Sunday buffet breakfast at the Laguna Beach Resort (323 Moo 2, Srisoonthorn Rd., Bangtao; 66-76/324-352; lagunaphuket.com; breakfast for four Bt2,000) and meet the resident elephant, which greets diners at around 9:30 a.m. Then explore Phang Nga Bay with John Gray’s Sea Canoe (124 Soi 1 Yaowarat Rd., Muang; 66-76/254-505; johngrayseacanoe.com). Enjoy a fun afternoon of water sports, and when evening falls, make a floating offering to the gods before a final bout of kayaking in and around caves under the starlight. “The phosphorescence is amazing,” says Debnam. Don’t worry: a guide does all the hard work paddling, so the whole family can relax.

travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 73


family special

GEAR: BEST NEW BAGS Invest in a good rollaboard—it makes life so much better on the road. Clockwise from top, below: Britto Landscape Flowers 56-centimeter hardside Spinner (heysusa. com, or for intl. shipping luggageonline.com); Timbuk2 Checkpoint in fabric (timbuk2.com); Longchamp Darshan Luggage (longchamp. com); the North Face Rolling Thunder in durable nylon (thenorthface.com/ap); Halsea Roller Suitcase in canvas (halsea. com); Tumi Alpha Bravo Bremerton in ballistic nylon (tumi. com, or for intl. shipping luggageonline.com). —dorkys r amos

74 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

THE HILL TOWN: BATU, INDONESIA Tired of the heat? Batu, a hill town just north of the mellow city of Malang on eastern Java, has cool air, beautiful views, and plenty of family-oriented resorts and attractions. Klub Bunga Butik Resort (Jln. Kartika No. 1; 62-341/594-777; klubbungabutikresort.com; doubles from Rp700,000) offers activities galore, including a sprawling lagoon pool, a futsal field, a basketball court and all-terrain vehicles; indoors there’s badminton, billiards and karaoke. For some rustic charm, head to the orchards of Kusuma Agrowisata (Jln. Abdul Gani Atas; 62-341/593-333; kusuma-agrowisata.com; admission from Rp29,000), where kids can pick apples and strawberries amid mountain views. Further up the mountain is the Selecta Wisata resort (Jln. Raya Selecta No.1; selectawisata.com; 62-341/592-369), which has a pool with curving slides but really stands out for its gorgeous flower gardens.—s.m.

THE SUMMER CAMP: SANYA, CHINA Kids have more fun playing together than in isolation. At the Mandarin Oriental, Sanya (12 Yuhai Rd.; 86-898/8820-9999; mandarinoriental.com/sanya; doubles from RMB1,850) on Hainan Island, they can join forces at the MO Kid’s Summer Camp, led by the outdoor specialist Insight Adventures (insight-adventures.com; admission RMB388). Guides break the ice with games like “duck duck goose,” then move on to an action activity, like zip-lining over the pool, climbing a rock wall or building a raft together. When the day heats up, it’s time for shaded activities, like cooking or painting. Every day is different, though, and the guides tailor activities based on kids’ ages and abilities. Snorkeling around the protected coral reefs is a possibility, for instance, but the guides might first gauge abilities with a treasure hunt in the sand-bottomed children’s pool. Either way, the focus is on learning and development. Now in its second year, the camp goes from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. every day from July 1 to August 28.— s . m .

c l o c k w i s e f r o m to p r i g h t : R o b b y I r awa n ; c o u r t e s y o f m a n d a r i n o r i e n t a l , s a n ya ; l e v i b r o w n

Collection by Heys


THE INDOOR OASIS MANILA | Science Discovery Center, SM Mall of Asia In one of the region’s largest malls (Olympic-sized ice-skating rink? Check), this interactive science center stars a high-tech planetarium and is divided into themed galleries like Robot Inc., where kids can play with remote-control robots, and the aptly named Grossology, where they try to identify bad smells and learn about burps and bacteria. Entertainment Mall, ground floor, SM Mall of Asia; 63-2/556-2153; sciencediscovery.ph; admission P330.

Shopping malls tend to feel the same wherever you go—and hence seem antithetical to real travel—but their mix of safety, air-conditioning and convenience can be a boon if you’re traveling with kids in sweltering heat or rainy weather. And let’s face it, sometimes the family shopaholic just needs a fix. Here, some mall-based attractions that kids will love.

MAKASSAR | Trans Studio World, Trans Studio Mall This two-hectare indoor theme park in Sulawesi has more than 20 attractions, including bumper cars, a train and boating adventures. A studio lets kids see themselves on TV, while entertainment includes musicals and a 4-D SpongeBob segment in the movie theater. Trans Studio Mall, lower-ground level, Jln. H.M. Dg. Patompo, Metro Tanjung Bunga; 62-411/811-7000; transstudioworld.com; admission from Rp100,000.—s.m.

JAKARTA | Atmostfear, FX Lifestyle X’nter Catering to adrenaline-loving kids 1.3 meters and up, this color-shifting, attention-grabbing slide is the centerpiece of a busy mall: starting on level seven, it twists and plummets its way past amused shoppers and diners to the third floor. It’s tubular so that kids can safely swerve around all they want. Boosting the fear factor, the preparation platform is transparent, as is the top half of the slide. FX Lifestyle X’nter, level 7, Jln. Jenderal Sudirman, Pintu Satu Senayan; 62-21/2555-4600; fx-generation.com; admission from Rp100,000.

courtesy of siam ocean world

BANGKOK | Siam Ocean World, Siam Paragon Tens of thousands sea creatures call this mammoth aquarium home. Explore zones like the penguin habitat or the colorful reef system. You can even ride a glass-bottom boat for an unequaled view of the ocean’s wildlife. Siam Paragon, levels B1–B2, 991 Rama 1 Rd.; 66-2/687-2000; siamoceanworld.co.th; admission Bt900 for adults, Bt700 for children. KUALA LUMPUR | Berjaya Times Square Theme Park, Berjaya Times Square With more than a dozen rides, this park will easily keep the kids happy for a few hours. The Galaxy Station section is for thrill-seeking teens and adults (hence the roller coaster), while Fantasy Garden has gentler rides designed for younger kids, such as the Flying Bumble Bee. Berjaya Times Square, levels 5 and 7, 1 Jln. Imbi; 60-3/2117-3149; timessquarekl.com/ themepark; admission RM43 for adults, RM33 for children.

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family special

THE NATIONAL PARK: KHAO YAI THREE WAYS A two-hour drive from Bangkok, Thailand’s oldest national park, Khao Yai, is a unesco World Heritage site famed for its scenery, wildlife and pleasant climate.— l i a n g x i n y i

The Life Park, next door to the Greenery Resort Khao Yai.

Khao Yai Garden Lodge & Wildlife Tours caters to nature lovers.

76 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

eyes, veteran guides will lead the way through forests and grasslands to the best trails for spotting indigenous species including gibbons, hornbills, elephants and barking deer.

address book Farm Chokchai 159-160 Moo 2, Friendship Rd., Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima; 6644/328-485; farmchokchai.com; admission Bt125 for kids, Bt250 for adults; two-day, one-night room packages from Bt2,490. The Greenery Resort Khao Yai 188/1 Thanarat Rd., Moo See, Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima; 66-44/297-668; greeneryresort. com; doubles from Bt2,500; Life Park rides from Bt160. Khao Yai Garden Lodge & Wildlife Tours 135/1 Thanarat Rd., Km. 7, Pakchong, Nakhon Ratchasima; 6644/365-178: khaoyaigardenlodge.com; two-day, one-night camping tours Bt7,400 per person.

f r o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f fa r m c h o k c h a i ; c o u r t e s y o f t h e g r e e n e r y r e s o r t k h a o ya i ; © P ay ta i / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m

A rodeo show at Farm Chokchai.

Set against a backdrop of verdant mountains, Farm Chokchai is a cattle ranch, an affordable 50-tent resort and agro-tourism destination all rolled into one. Tractor-driven wagons bring visitors on tours across the sprawling 3,000-hectare-plus property, and children have the opportunity to milk cows, pet farm animals, ride ponies and watch live rodeo shows. When youngsters tire, stop at the dairy plant for a fresh ice cream treat. The Greenery Resort Khao Yai has 256 spacious guest rooms, views of forestclad hills and a play pool for kids, but the real draw is the Life Park next door. A fun-seekers’ stomping ground, the recently renovated adventure park brims with attractions ranging from gentle rides on bumper boats and kiddie karts to adrenaline thrills in the Zorb, a giant inflatable ball that rolls down a 120-meter slope, and the GX-Swing, a reverse-bungee ride that catapults you 60 meters into the sky. Nature-loving families should skip the basic lodgings offered by Khao Yai Garden Lodge & Wildlife Tours, and instead opt for the adventure of an overnight jungle-camping tour. With well-trained


THE learning curve: LUANG PRABANG

c o u r t e s y o f e x o t i ss i m o ( 3 )

Connecting with local culture is the essence of Luang Prabang: On The Kids Path (exotissimo.com; six-day, five-night tours from US$548 per person), a family-friendly tour from luxe travel operators Exotissimo. Learn about indigenous herbs in a half-day cooking class; join locals in a game of pétanque; try silk-weaving oi a workshop; receive blessings in a traditional baci ceremony; ride an elephant to a cascading waterfall; and stay at Kamu Lodge, an eco-oriented nature retreat close to a hill-tribe settlement. While you’re there, be sure to make a trip to a local village and donate books with Big Brother Mouse (bigbrothermouse.com), a nonprofit organization that works to improve literacy rates among Lao children.—l.x.

culture connect From

top: At school in Laos; local transport; a tray of silk cocoons.


family special

THE MOBILE NANNY

Flags Fun

Test your child’s memory and knowledge with two game modes: either tag the flag to the correct country or find matching pairs of flags from around the world. With more than 150 countries represented, the game is a fun way to introduce young travelers to the destinations they’re visiting. US$0.99; for ages 4 and up.

Mad Libs

The classic Mad Libs game is now available as an app. Simply fill in the blanks with the words of your choice to spin tales that are funny, wacky or just downright silly. This giggleinducing app also allows today’s tech-savvy kids to experience the old-school fun that moms and dads enjoyed in their own childhoods. Free; for ages 5 and up.

10 Doodle Buddy

Parents of toddlers, rejoice. With this app, small tots can create their own masterpieces on the road—all without spilling a drop of paint. Draw, paint and write on images from the photo library, or choose from the menu of backgrounds, stencils and stamps to create an original mosaic. Afterward, share the works of art with friends and family members via email or Facebook. Free; for ages 3 and up.

78 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

THE ISLAND ADVENTURE: BOHOL, PHILIPPINES

Restless kids and relaxation-seeking grownups sound like a recipe for vacation disaster. Not so on the whitesand-fringed island of Panglao, just south of Bohol, home to the crowdpleasing Eskaya Beach Resort & Spa (63-38/502-9516; eskayabeach.com; threenight Family Weekend Getaway packages from US$3,800 for up to six people, including transfers). Based in a generous beachfront villa, complete with a private swimming pool and whirlpool bath overlooking the sea, adults can unwind over cocktails or enjoy a Shiatsu massage while their energetic younger companions amuse themselves on mountain bikes, kayaks, pedal boats and even jet skis (for kids age 15 and up). The complimentary group-friendly activities—board games; table tennis; DVD’s—are a bonus.—l ar a day

THE SECRET GARDEN: SINGAPORE

Designed expressly for the under-12 set, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden (1 Cluny Rd.; 65/6471-7361; sbg.org.sg; free admission; closed on Mondays) teaches life sciences to kids in a leafy, picturesque park. Tucked on the northern edge of Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, just 10 minutes from built-up Orchard Road, this educational gem—the first of its kind in Asia—has a wealth of hidden nooks and enclaves, all conceived to foster creative play in a natural setting. There’s a tree house with orange tubular slides, a playground with squirting jets of water, an interactive exhibit on photosynthesis and even a hedge-maze with lots of twists and turns. T+L Tip To get the most out of the experience, download a copy of the educational worksheet (available on the website) before visiting.—l.x.

a p p s , F r o m to p : c o u r t e sy o f f l ag s f u n ; c o u r t e sy o f m a d l i b s ; c o u r t e sy o f d o o d l e b u d dy i sl a n d : c o u r t e s y o f e s k ay a b e a c h r e s o r t & s p a ( 3 )

On-the-go gadgets such as the iPad and iPhone are a blessing for parents looking to keep young minds occupied during a trip. Here, our pick of travelfriendly apps for kids.— l . x .


THE ROAD TRIP Now that full-body scans and pat-downs are making the skies seem a little too friendly, vacationing by car is more appealing than ever. Here, Jamie Jensen, author of the best-selling Road Trip USA series—and father to 12-year-old twins who are his frequent backseat companions—shares a few pointers on making it a fun and squabble-free ride.— j e n n i f e r m i ra n d a Do your homework. Young travelers feel more invested if they share some control over the itinerary. Involve them in online research for destination ideas: a place they’re learning about in school, perhaps, or the location of a movie they love.

Play to their interests. If your daughter loves water, find swimming holes along your route—and keep bathing suits close at hand, not packed up in the trunk. If your son plays baseball, think about stopping at a deserted field for an impromptu game.

Keep the car cozy. Clear out the detritus of your everyday life to make room for creature comforts: pillows, blankets, and as many familiar playthings as you can fit, from iPods to pacifiers. Organize separate backpacks and make each kid responsible for his or her own stuff, just like at home.

Give them jobs. Tasks make kids feel important. If you’re using a GPS unit, budding techies can play navigator, charting your course and suggesting detours or side trips (they can do the same with a road atlas). Or bring a copy of your itinerary and let them track what you’ve seen, places you’ve skipped, and things you want to add.

Hit the brakes. Bathroom stops are a good thing—they force you to get out of the car and talk with locals. According to Jensen, a 10-minute break every two hours also increases alertness and cuts down on aches and pains.

Be spontaneous. Divide the drive into manageable segments, and don’t overplan. If you find a place they like, stop and enjoy it. And be open to diversions you may hear about along the way (on the radio; from a gas attendant). These are the things that make a road trip so much more than just a long drive.

Ill u s t r a t e d b y W a s i n e e Ch a n t a k o r n

no-hassle T+L tip “If your kids will miss school while you’re on the road, ask their teachers if they can make up some of the work by writing about the places they visit in a journal,” Jensen says. “It keeps them focused on the trip and not plugged into the Nintendo DS.”— j . m .

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InterContinental Bali Resort.

THE SEASON’S BEST DEALS: 9 Irresistible Family Escapes From the history-steeped temples of Angkor to the sybaritic beaches of Vietnam, we pick some value-added Asian vacations for all the family

CLASSIC ANGKOR

Ayana Resort & Spa, Bali.

Golden Sands Resort, Penang.

80 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

Family Time package at Tara Angkor Hotel (855-63/966-661; taraangkorhotel.com) in Siem Reap. What’s Included A three-night stay in two connecting Superior rooms; oneway airport pick-up; welcome drinks and fruit; daily buffet breakfast for four; one Asian set menu dinner with ice cream for four; Wi-Fi Internet; and 10 percent off dining, laundry and babysitting services. Cost US$398 (US$133 per night), through September 11. Savings 20 percent.   Family Suite package at Borei Angkor Resort & Spa (855-63/964-406; boreiangkor.com) in Siem Reap. What’s Included A stay in a Family Suite, with one king-size bed and two twin beds; round-trip airport transfers; daily buffet breakfast; daily set lunch

or dinner with ice cream; one daily large pizza; 15 percent off spa treatments; free Internet; and access to swimming pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Cost From US$310 per night, through September 30. Savings 40 percent.  

BALI BREAKS

Family Time Out package at InterContinental Bali Resort (62-361/ 70-888; bali.intercontinental.com). What’s Included A stay in a Resort Classic room; round-trip airport transfers; daily buffet breakfast; one 60-minute spa treatment for two; one five-hour “Fun Session” at Planet Trekkers, a care center for kids; access to the children’s playground, Spa Uluwatu and fitness center; and one framed family photograph souvenir. Cost From US$269 per

f r o m t o p : c o u r t e s y o f i n t e r c o n t i n e n t a l b a l i r e s o r t ; 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 l d e n S a n d s R e s o r t

family special


night, with a three-night minimum, available through September 30. Savings 15 percent.   Family Holiday package at Ayana Resort & Spa (62-361/702-222; ayanaresort.com). What’s Included A stay in a Resort View room; roundtrip airport transfers; daily breakfast; one 50-minute Balinese massage for two adults; one Aquatonic Seawater Therapy Pool session for two adults; one 30-minute kids yoga class for two children; and one full-day access pass to the Kids Club for two children. Cost From US$299 per night, with a four-night minimum, available through December 22. Savings 20 percent.    

dining and recreation activities in hotel; one kampung (village) tour on bicycle for four; a RM50 spa credit per person; and access to Kiki Klub for children. Cost From RM1,290 (RM645 per night), through December 19. Savings 40 percent.     Penang Holiday package at Golden Sands Resort (60-4/886-1911; shangrila.com) in Penang. What’s Included A three-night stay in a Superior Hillview room; one-way airport transfer; daily buffet breakfast for two at Garden Café; one dinner for two; and a four-hour Adventure Zone package for two children. Cost From RM490 per night, through December 23. Savings 22 percent.     

Family package at Cosmopolitan Hotel (852/3552-1111; cosmopolitanhotel. com.hk). What’s Included A stay in an Executive Family Quad room with two queen-size beds; daily buffet breakfast; welcome snack box for children under 12; child-size bathrobe and slipper; baby bathroom amenities; free use of baby cot and cartoon DVD library; two hours of free babysitting service (upon availability); one-way shuttle-bus service to Ocean Park (Fri.–Sun.); park entrance tickets at HK$250 for adults and HK$125 for children; shuttle bus service to shopping centers, the Hong Kong (Airport Express) station, and sightseeing spots in Causeway Bay, Wan Chai, Admiralty and Central; and late check-out until 6 p.m. Cost From HK$1,800 per night, three-night minimum, through September 30. Savings Up to 50 percent.   

Family package at The Sentosa (65/6371-1198; thesentosa.com), overlooking the South China Sea. What’s Included A stay in a Deluxe room, with one extra bed; buffet breakfast at The Terrace; a S$100 dining credit per family per stay; and Sentosa admission charges (car pass excluded). Cost From S$555 per night, through December 31. Savings 34 percent.     

HONG KONG FUN

MALAYSIAN ISLES

Pelangi Family package at Meritus Pelangi Beach Resort & Spa (60-4/9528888; meritushotels.com) in Langkawi. What’s Included A two-night stay in a Garden Terrace room; buffet breakfast; free dining for two children under 11; 15 percent off

SINGAPORE SOJOURN

VIETNAMESE STYLE

Family Adventure package at Evason Ana Mandara Nha Trang (84-58/3522222; sixsenses.com). What’s Included A three-night stay in a Deluxe Beachfront villa; round-trip airport transfers; welcome drinks and fruits; a bottle of wine and popcorn machine in room upon arrival; daily buffet breakfast; beach toy basket amenities for children; a private family barbecue at the beach; a Vietnamese cooking class; supervised children activities at the hotel for two hours; and a departure gift. Cost From US$1,793 (US$598 per night), through December 19. Savings 15 percent. ✚


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c o u r t e s y o f m i s i b i s b ay

in southeastern luzon, albay offers everything from gentle whale sharks to awe-inspiring Volcanoes. can misibis bay, an ambitious resort, live up to its world-class setting? By Lara Day

Sunset at Misibis Bay’s amphitheater.

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journal where to go next

From top: The beach at Misibis Bay; Arlie Juarez, director of recreation at the resort; a beachfront villa at the resort.

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c o u r t e s y o f m i s i b i s b a y ( 2 ) ; M i d d l e : L a r a d ay

philippine warmth

L

ocals call it the shy volcano, the mahiyaing bulkan. You’d never know why from the pictures. Almost invariably, the Philippines’ iconic, 2,463-meter Mount Mayon, one of the world’s most photo­ graphed natural wonders, is depicted in its full, startlingly conical glory. You’ll see it towering over Legazpi City, the sleepy, low-rise capital of Albay province, in Bicol. Or looming behind the ruins of Cagsawa, a bell tower exposed to the air, the rest of the church’s body buried in hardened volcanic ash. Or you’ll witness it glowering, dark and incandescent, exhibiting its true, formidable self as the world’s most active volcano. It has revealed itself this way 49 times in the past four centuries, with its last eruption in 2006. When I touch down in Legazpi City after a one-hour flight from Manila, Mayon is hiding behind a thick cover of cloud. All that’s visible is its base, a sloping, truncated mass that gives little inkling of the fearful symmetry above it. But I’m not here for Mayon. I’ve come to visit the area’s newest, and only, luxury resort: Misibis Bay, which opened in mid2009 to little international fanfare. Not only is it one of only three Small Luxury Hotels in the country, but it promises to bring a new breed of traveler to a region that, for many, is as mysterious as a cloud-cloaked volcano. Until recently, backpackers and domestic tourists have made up the bulk of Albay’s visitors. And yet the province has a wealth of draws,


c o u r t e s y o f m i s i b i s b ay

from volcanoes and whale sharks to colorful festivals and Spanish architecture. “Everything, we have almost everything here,” says Benjie, the young guide from Misibis Bay who greets me at the airport. On the hour-long road journey to the resort, I glimpse the abundance he hints at. Agriculture flourishes in the rich volcanic soil—abaca plants; mango, banana and papaya trees—and cockerels crow in small, well-tended villages. The physical traces of Mayon’s stirrings are equally evident: pitch-black rivers of solidified lava, tracks left by giant boulders dislodged by heavy monsoonal rains. There’s also an unseasonal drizzle, a side effect of the global-cooling phenomenon known as La Niña. Though the rainfall hardly seems anything to blink at, the government has declared a state of calamity in Albay—a preemptive, if misleading, designation that saves lives by prompting early evacuations from landslide- and flood-prone areas. Finally, a barge takes us across the Sula Channel to reach the 480-hectare island of Cagraray, Misibis Bay’s home. Benjie is a recent recruit to the resort’s 150-strong staff, made up of both locals and experienced pros from high-end resorts around the country. “Hopefully one day, when we learn, we’ll be all Bicolano,” he says, before we part ways. Misibis Bay’s owner, Elizaldy S. Co, president of the construction firm Sunwest Group of Companies, is a Bicolano himself, whose long-term vision is to develop his home province into a world-class tourism destination. But that’s a tall order in a region where most locals have never seen a five-star resort, let alone worked for one. The five-hectare beachfront property, which cost P1.6 billion to develop, aims to be more than a far-flung retreat. Its tag line, “Your Luxury Island Playground,” suggests the raft of soft-adventure offerings available to guests: a 200-meter Zipline set in a sprawling “Eco” park, where sustainable energy sources such as windmills and solar panels are being developed; ATV’s for exploring the Cagraray’s steep terrain; and, bizarrely, Segways for use around the resort. And that’s just on land. In the water, the possibilities are even more profuse: kayaks, Hobie cats, sailboats, wakeboards, jet-skis, banana boats, parasailing. What’s more, for those who want to go up in the air, there are helicopters, which you can rent from P40,000. Guests seeking a more sedate experience can relax in the lagoon-like infinity pool that forms the resort’s centerpiece, or on the cloth-draped four-poster daybeds that line the attractive, yellow-sand beach. Unfortunately, for me, the rain means such gentle outdoor pursuits aren’t an option. I’m glad to hole up in my villa, one of 37 spacious, modern Asian accommodations—bamboo wall pieces; cylindrical capiz-shell pendant lamps—graced with flat-screen TV’s, iPod docking stations, Crabtree & Evelyn bath products and huge glass windows that, in my case, overlook the beach and

the sea beyond (a word of caution when booking: avoid the exposed Lagoon villas that sit on a central footpath). The next morning, a band of light stretches across the horizon; because of the Bicol’s location in the far east of the Philippines, the sun is said to rise a few minutes earlier here than in other parts of the country. The sky turns a deep, rich blue, and somehow everything around me improves. The resort looks veritably dapper, and the sea, dark and baleful when I arrived, is calm and welcoming. Crucially, my lackluster dinner of the night before—the hotel’s restaurant serves up buffets of international and Filipino dishes— transforms into a lavish breakfast, complete with beautifully turned out Filipino favorites such as garlic-fried rice, »

The Mayon Volcano towers over Albay province, Bicol.

Misibis Bay promises to bring travelers to a region as MYSTERIOUS as a cloud-cloaked volcano

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journal where to go next

Mayon glows like a mirage; the sun refracts against a MOSAIC of broken clouds natural bounty Clockwise from top: The

central lagoon pool at Misibis Bay; Bicol Express, a fiery local dish; viewing the Mayon Volcano on the resort’s ATV’s.

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c o u r t e s y o f m i s i b i s b ay ( 3 )

savory beef tapa, succulent pork tocino and fresh, homecured bacon. During the rest of my stay, the food there exceeds my expectations, particularly when it comes to local fare: fiery Bicol Express, a chili-laden pork-andvegetable dish; mouthwatering ginataang langka, or jackfruit in creamy coconut; “white” chicken adobo, a soy-sauce-free take on the famed Filipino dish; and succulent giant crabs from a nearby farm. Thanks to the sunshine, my planned scuba dive can go ahead. The water is murky from the rains, and descending into its opacity feels like a leap of faith. Then, a hazy vision emerges: sand-colored rocks. As I go deeper, more visions appear, more clearly: the defined edges of hard corals, the occasional bright tropical fish, and then giant clam after giant clam after giant clam. In total, there are almost a hundred, all royal purple with electric-blue lining. Out of the water, the soft-spoken dive master, Red, tells me he used to work in the Middle East. “In the Red Sea, it’s beautiful!” he says. “They protect, very strict, very, very strict.” Sadly, legislation hasn’t been strict enough here. Don’t expect to find technicolor reefs off Misibis Bay’s beach: years of illegal fishing with cyanide and dynamite have taken a heavy toll on marine life, and the resort is nurturing giant clams to encourage a comeback. “We brought over a hundred clams in from the hatchery,” says Arlie Juarez, the resort’s charismatic director of recreation. “Usually clams have a 40 percent survival rate when transported and transplanted, so I talked to them. ‘Survive, clams, survive! C’mon guys! You can do it!’ And they survived. I was so happy!” Originally from Anilao, in Batangas, the former national windsurfing champion spent 16 years at Palawan’s upscale eco-resort El Nido and three years at the ultra-luxe Amanpulo, where he dived with the likes of Clint Eastwood, Prince Albert of Monaco and, yes, Brangelina. But now, Juarez insists, his passion is protecting the environment. “The Philippines is a marine biodiversity hotspot,” he says. “When I was growing up in Anilao, we used to go into the water and break off coral—big bits of coral—just to put in the garden.” Years later, when he joined El Nido, he met a group of marine biologists who were training the staff about their environment. “They asked us, ‘How many people here have broken off coral from the sea?’ I raised my hand, I was


c o u r t e s y o f m i s i b i s b ay ( 2 )

Misibis Bay positions itself as an upscale wedding destination, left. The resort’s all-day restaurant, below.

so proud. They asked, ‘How big was the coral?’ I showed them and they said, ‘That’s table coral. That took more than 65 years to grow.’ We just didn’t know.” It’s clear that education is key to Misibis Bay’s, and Albay’s, long-term success. We look out onto the sea, a protean wash of aquamarine, dark green and celadon. Underwater revival will be a slow process, but promisingly, fish and corals have already begun to return, and there are some rewarding dive spots in the area. The Sula Channel hosts 15 Spanish galleons with solid-brass anchors overgrown with coral. There are also another six dive sites a speedboat ride away, including a coral reef and drop-off, where you can see schools of barracuda, grouper, bluespotted stingray, eagle rays, nudibranches and small corals. I have my sights set on bigger fish: whale sharks, known locally as buntanding, those spotted, blue-gray behemoths of the ocean that grow up to 18 meters long and live for as long as a century. This is the start of the season for sightings, but while I’m willing to brave the three-hour drive to the whaleshark-frequented waters of Donsol, the odds are stacked against me. Sighting numbers drop with each passing day: one out of six boats; one out of 10; then finally, none at all. The creatures’ elusiveness makes sense: plankton are attracted to sunshine, which brings them to the water’s surface, but when rain falls and the temperature is cool, they sink deeper into the ocean—and the plankton-loving whale sharks follow. Naturally, I’m disappointed, but all is not lost. On my final evening, the weather allows for a sunset cruise, and I board a boat with a group of guests. On the gentle journey out into open water, we turn west around a green promontory, and at last, there it is: Mayon. I’ve seen my

share of volcanic peaks, but nothing I’ve encountered compares to its silent, awe-inspiring majesty. Its form glows in the distance like a mirage, the low sun behind it shimmering and refracting against a mosaic of broken clouds. As we turn back, the waves glint with the sun’s last rays, their triangular peaks echoing the mountain’s nearly perfect form. I couldn’t have asked for a better parting gift. The next day, on my flight home, I hope to catch an aerial glimpse of the shy volcano. But by the time the plane turns, due northwest, it’s gone, hidden from view. ✚ Misibis Bay, Cagraray Island, Bacacay, Albay, Bicol; 63-52/8213800; misibisbay.com; three-day, two-night room packages from US$515 based on twin sharing. travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 89


journal obsessions

Confessions of a Massage Addict When you’ve been rubbed everywhere from rurali China to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, you discoveri that sometimes the most glorious massages happeni in the most unlikely places. By Aimee Lee Balli

Massage through the ages: An abbreviated history. Illustrated by Kagan McLeod

Weary Egyptians embrace reflexology enough to depict it on their tombs— perhaps ensuring a footrub-filled eternity.

90 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

circa

400 B.C.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine, writes about the physiological effects of “rubbing.” Without specifying parts of the anatomy, he concludes that “hard rubbing constricts, soft relaxes, much rubbing thins and moderate thickens.”

50 B.C.

Julius Caesar gets massages for his neuralgia—he was said to have been “pinched” every day (a practice continued by Italian men on public transportation).

© G e n n a d i y P o z n ya k o v / i S t o c k . c o m

circa

2300 B.C.


M

arge simpson, the cartoon character with the mile-high blue hair, once went to “Stagnant Springs Spa,” where she was massaged not with hot stones but with live turtles (later thrown into a bin labeled used turtles). I thought of that episode last year in Bangkok as I removed my shoes, rolled up my pant legs, and sat on the edge of a large water tank with half a dozen others at one of the city’s popular “fish spas.” Thousands of tiny fish called kangal rushed over to each pair of dangling feet, ready to nibble away our dead skin. The experience had been described to me as a pleasant sensa­ tion, a combo foot rub/pedicure. I lasted about 15 seconds. This may be more than you really need to know about me, but it’s (pretty much) okay with me to have (pretty much) anybody rub (pretty much) any part of me,

and I have traveled the world in pursuit of great massage. There is noth­ing I like better than an extravagant US$500 spa day, where I’m anointed with aromatherapy oils and bathrobes of astronomical thread counts. But I am not the queen of Romania or the manager of a hedge fund, so my massages are sometimes budget-priced and…unusual. In many cultures, massage is a tradition handed down through generations of grandmothers, un­encumbered by regulation or certification. I have a kind of Hippocratic attitude—first, do no harm (to myself )—and in unfamiliar territory, I usually start from the bottom up, on the theory that an untalented foot rub can be no worse than an an­noying waste of money, while an unskilled person unleashed on my back could leave me flattened. The creepy-crawly fish spa was the rare ex­ception to the typically blissful Thai foot mas­sage that involves actual human hands and rarely costs more than a few dollars. At one place on a side street—really just an alley—off Silom Road in Bangkok, I »

After my treatment, the masseuse promptly set up a street cart and was soon frying delicious peanut fritters—CLEARLY a woman of multiple talents

1813

Per Henrik Ling, a Stockholm fencing master and gymnast, is credited with developing modern Swedish massage.

1868

Ling’s place in history is challenged by Johan Georg Mezger, a Dutch practitioner who classifies massage techniques, using terms such as effleurage (stroking) and petrissage (kneading) that nobody on a massage table cares about, so long as it feels good.

1895

J. H. Kellogg promotes “The Art of Massage” from his Battle Creek Sanitarium, in Michigan. Not to mention Corn Flakes.

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journal obsessions

The setting could not have been more idyllic. But the technique was WIMPY—it was like being massaged by Raggedy Ann bought a CD of the music that was playing during my treatment (cheesy local “cov­ers” of 1980’s pop groups such as the Carpenters that are impossible to listen to without giggling). After my treatment, the masseuse promptly set up a street cart and was soon frying delicious pea­nut fritters—clearly a woman of multiple talents. The best massage (and best night’s sleep) I’ve ever had was in Anhui Province, about 650 kilometers south of Beijing. At the time, almost 20 years ago, the region was remote and unused to foreigners—Americans often traveled together in state-sanctioned groups, and crowds of local people stood outside the hotel just to get a look at us, like the Munchkins when Dorothy landed in Oz. The Chinese government had a program to train blind people in massage therapy—it was considered a suitable career path since the blind were supposed to have an enhanced sense of touch. The staff at our modest hotel spoke little English, but somehow my significant other and I managed to convey with vaguely lewd hand signals that we wanted massages. That night

1922

Reiki, an ancient Tibetan practice, is discovered by Japanese businessman Mikao Usui. He and his disciples, known as Reiki masters, claim healing powers even without touching—their hands hovering over the body like low-flying aircraft.

92 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

1928

A French chemist, René-Maurice Gattefossé, uses lavender oil to heal his burned hand. Aromatherapy is born, and forever after “aromatherapy massage” costs more.

there was a knock on our door, and a blind man was led into the room. I took the first turn and lay down on my bed—there was no such thing as a massage table or a neck cradle, let alone a dou­ble bed, in those early days of Chinese tourism. By the time it was my S.O.’s turn, I was ready to endorse any policy of the Chinese government. (He later informed me that I snored through his massage, but I deny it.) The tab and tip were automatically added to our hotel bill the next morning: about RMB80 for each of us. Conversely, the worst massage I’ve ever had was wildly expensive. I arrived in BoraBora shortly after a cyclone hit, and the beach was still strewn with the detritus of the storm—bicycles and computer monitors had flown through the air. Miraculously, the beautiful overwater bun­galows at my hotel were intact, and that water was turquoise blue. I requested a massage on my sundeck—there were no guests in the neighbor­ing bungalows to impinge on my privacy because so many tourists had been frightened away by the cyclone. A lovely young woman arrived at the ap­pointed hour,

Today

Ashram-style austerity is back, with the rise of detox and weight-loss spas and even “bikini boot camp” programs. What does it mean for sybarites? You now have to earn your end-of-day massage.


courtesy of guilin homa

and soft breezes fanned me as I lay down. The setting could not have been more idyl­lic. But her technique was so wimpy, it was like being massaged by Raggedy Ann, and my frustra­tion was exacerbated by the outrageous price tag. I’m lucky that I need not travel far from home for all sorts of bodywork; New York City is virtually a United Nations of massage. I’ve been thwacked with a broom made of oak leaves before a pound­ing rubdown at the Turkish bathhouse; rolled with bamboo sticks from the Philippines (rather un­comfortable on the bonier parts of me but pleas­ant where I’m nicely padded); and walked on by a Korean woman dressed in what appeared to be the house uniform of blue polyester bra and panties, holding onto a pole suspended from the ceiling. (Sign in the dressing room: we love americans!) My current favorite spot is in Brighton Beach. Since the 1970’s, Russian émigrés have turned this stretch of oceanside real estate into a Little Odessa, and it’s still possible to buy vodka and caviar by the gram at a club on the boardwalk. But recently and happily, Asians have infiltrated the neighborhood, offering amazing 60-minute reflexology for about US$25. When I practically levitated after the therapist touched one spot on my foot, he looked at me knowingly and said, “No sleep,” correctly diagnosing my bout of insomnia. The only caveat is that I must escape into my own iPod world to drown out the Chinese warlord mov­ies playing on a huge flat-screen TV. I believe in the maxim that you get what you pay for. I go to world-class doctors; I buy cashmere sweaters that will probably outlive me; and I don’t expect that monkfish is going to taste like lobster. But after all these years, I’ve learned that massage satisfaction is not based on price. And the frequent language barrier off the beaten path is often a plus, eliminating the possibility of a Chatty Cathy. Because the best quality of any mas­sage is…silence. ✚


journal getaway Biking along the Avenue du Monument Saliens in Cap Ferret, France.

France’s Hidden Coast

The Atlantic enclave of Cap Ferret is worlds apart from the glammed-out scene on the Riviera. Alexandra Marshall revels in its billowy dunes, briny oysters and easy, unpretentious charms. Photographed by Jose Bernad

W

hen I mention Cap Ferret to American friends, the response has become predictable. “Ooh, glamor­ous,” they say. “Very Jay-Z.” No, that’s Cap Ferrat, on the Côte d’Azur, a place of pop legends, Ferraris and leath­ery men. Cap Ferret, on France’s southwestern coast, is much more than a vowel and an ocean away. Its land­scape and spirit have more in common with salty Cape Cod than with St.-Tropez. The population is similar, too: a mix of fishermen, vacation renters, arts-industry types and preppy aristocrats from nearby Bordeaux. The longer I lived in Paris, the more French friends I made, the more I would hear about this magical place of pine forests, oyster shacks, rough waves and practically no hotels. Finally, last summer, I went. Then I went back. And as soon as I can, I’m going again. It’s easy to reach: a three-hour TGV ride from Paris and another 90-minute drive

94 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com


due west from Bordeaux. Even in July and August, the shore­line offers many pockets of privacy. Bargain-priced oysters are hauled out of the ice-blue water straight onto your plate. Kids on bicycles are as plentiful as hydrangeas. Af­ter the fussiness of Paris, even the shiny and fabulous bits of Cap Ferret are very, very laid-back. Here, Liberty of London gets you a lot further than Versace. It took a while for the pleasure-seekers to flock to the Bassin D’Arcachon, a mas­sive, diamond-shaped estuary. At its western edge sits the skinny peninsula of Cap Ferret, assaulted on one side by the choppy, bracing Atlantic. Roman artifacts have been found in the moun­tainous Dune of Pilat, Europe’s largest sandbank, directly across the lagoon from Cap Ferret. And there are handfuls of historic churches in towns such as Gujan-Mestras and AndernosLes-Bains, on the basin’s 72-kilometer-long coast. But it wasn’t until the mid 19th century that the first wave of tourism to the region came. Aided by the expan­sion of the national railroad, the city of Arcachon became a thalassotherapy hub, with grand rental villas and casinos springing up along the shore. Meanwhile, starting in 1852, when a local fisher­man began the practice of seeding oyster beds, domesticated oysters could ride the rails to Paris, bound for the finest tables. (Even today, some 10 percent of France’s oysters—and 70 percent of its oyster seeds—come from the Arcachon basin.) But France is a country with more affinity for protectionism than speculation, and the oyster beds were soon

parceled out to existing oyster-cultivating families with the provision that they could only be inherited or sold to others in the trade. As Arcachon’s tourism fortunes rose and fell, Cap Ferret, strictly zoned so as not to disturb the seafood or the extremely fragile landscape, main­tained a peaceful equilibrium, only seeing an in­flux of visitors in the 1970’s, when the decade’s back-to-nature ethos went mainstream. Although the ubiquitous signs shouting respectons la nature (“Let’s respect nature”) are a little cloying, people have little choice. It is forbidden to build on the peninsula’s Atlantic shore, so only dunes, shrubs, one or two menacing World War II–era concrete bunkers and two burger shacks distract from the vistas beyond. That sea is cold. No: freezing. The undertow is fierce, and there are no lifeguards. But the water is sparkling, sky blue and clear. The tides and temperatures keep most of the crowds across town on the bay side, just a slice of sand bordered by boulangeries, grill restaurants and flip-flop stores. As the sun turns low and gold, and the tide recedes dramatically, that slice of sand expands into a mossy bed of beached rowboats with her­ons and gulls picking among the leftovers. Not exactly a bather’s paradise, but beautiful.

A

turning point for Cap Ferret came in 1985, when Benoît Bartherotte, a former fashion de­signer and town father of sorts, installed himself at the southernmost tip of the peninsula and started to spiff up the place. When he bought his 5-hectare plot, he also invested millions in a massive stone jetty to keep the compound from washing out to sea. (The »

A Sail Fish Suites apartment, above. Right: The menu at Chez Boulan, in the Quartier Ostréicole. Far right: An oyster farm on the Arcachon basin.

travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 95


journal getaway tides in the Arcachon basin are so extreme that the 107-meter-high Dune of Pilat moves about a meter inland each year; between low and high tide, the surface area of the lagoon ex­pands from roughly 4,000 hectares to 15,000.) Bartherotte’s compound, with its streamlined, light-strewn cabins, modeled on the area’s tradi­tional wood-frame fisherman’s shacks, has become a favorite among French design magazines and the launch pad for a chic cabinbuilding enterprise overseen by Bartherotte’s two sons. And the sur­rounding, now wildly exclusive neighborhood— known as Les 44 Hectares, with only 250 plots—is among the most prized real estate in France, with modestly sized houses selling for upward of €9 million. The director and actor Guillaume Canet summers here, and it’s where he and his girlfriend, actress Marion Cotillard, just filmed their latest movie together, Les Petits Mouchoirs. While celebrities (Audrey Tautou, tennis champ turned pop star Yannick Noah and tough-guy matinée idol Jean-Paul Belmondo) have cer­tainly found Cap Ferret, rusticity still reigns. “For me it’s the mix of wildness and quaintness,” says Edouard Debost, a Paris-based banker whose family used to vacation in and around St.-Tropez until the hassle drove them to Les 44. “It’s healthy and sporty and you don’t play a role.” Adds his wife, Mahasti, a lawyer: “No high heels. No make­up. Just nice people and

wonderful food.” Indeed, the throbbing heart of Cap Ferret is not a blinged-out cruising drag or a string of LVMHowned boutiques, but the Marché du Cap Ferret, a cov­ered market with a strong parking-lot trade in espadrilles, hammam towels and tapenades. In­side is a small trove of fresh local fish stalls, a greengrocer and a jolly tapas bar, Le Bistrot de Peyo, that serves €3 glasses of rosé, stuffed piquillo peppers and Manchego cheese with black cherry jam starting at 6 a.m. Lacoste shirts and boat shoes abound, and whether it’s due to the morning tipple or not, everyone, everyone, is smiling.

F

or travelers looking to play into the local scene, there’s a snappy vacation-rental market through a handful of high-toned agen­cies. Greg de Lépinay, owner of Sail Fish, one of Cap Ferret’s most glamorous nightspots, has two whitewashed apartments for rent near the town dock called the Sail Fish Suites. Hotels, mean­while, are not plentiful. The best one, located in the charming Quartier Ostréicole, is La Maison du Bassin. It opened over a decade ago, and has been booked months in advance ever since. With crisp interiors, nautical antiques and sisal rugs doused with orange-flower water, the rooms are as welcoming as the service and the restaurant offers excellent bistro comfort food. The absence

Salmon carpaccio at La Co(o)rniche, in Pyla-sur-Mer. Below: At the Quartier Ostréicole’s La Maison du Bassin. Left: A sand dune in the Banc d’Arguin nature reserve.

96 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com


of televisions or other cushy room amenities propels you to the beach, which is with­in walking distance. Also right in the shabby-chic spirit of Cap Ferret is the Hôtel des Pins, whose rustic, country-Deco style seems too well-considered for a two-star. More controversial among locals is the new Côté Sable, on the bay side. With a Clarins spa and modern deck furniture, it gives off too strong a whiff of city mouse. Unfortunately it has service and prices to match. For those willing to lodge across the bay, out of the action but an easy ferry or boat-taxi ride from town, Philippe Starck’s shiny new La Co(o)rniche, in hoity-toity Pyla-sur-Mer, has the basin abuzz. Opened last May—and refashioned out of a split-timber former relais de chasse (hunting lodge)—the hotel has only 12 whimsical, sun-filled rooms, although the restaurant seats more than 200. The extra tables, even if they are across the bay, are welcome. Despite hav­ing the finest possible seafood, Cap Ferret wouldn’t know what to do with a Michelin star if they hauled one up from the deep. The area doesn’t have much of a gastronomy scene, so La Co(o)rniche’s modern cuisine de terroir is a welcome treat. The party atmosphere of the pool­side terrace is on lower volume during the day, and lunch is the best time to take advantage of a table overlooking the wa­ter and the paragliders who hover over the dune like butterflies. (Though my cod with boudin noir, red pepper coulis and roasted almonds would have been delicious no matter where I was.) Back in Cap Ferret, it’s all backyard barbecues and oysters, and, the thinking goes, they need little help. Chez Boulan, one of the many tasting bars that populate the Quartier Ostréicole, is content with a cluster of mismatched furniture set up on a lawn. It serves platters of salty oysters with lemon wedges; plates of steamed shrimp; white wine; and little else. I first stumbled in after a long idyll at the beach, and returned every day for a mid-afternoon snack, watching the to-go plat­ters streaming out the door like the tide. A few blocks away, Le Père Ouvrard serves fish-based tapas (succulent grilled prawns with herbs; impeccable sardines à la planche) during cocktail hour on high-season week­ends. Meanwhile, the tough­est reservation in town is the scruffy Chez Hortense, with long wooden tables, a great view of the Dune of Pilat, and garlicky, awesomely tender bacon-strewn mus­sels that are as good as the regulars say. The bottle-service set, meanwhile, heads to Greg de Lépinay’s Sail Fish, the beachside outpost of his stylish Bordeaux bistro Chez Greg. One look at Sail Fish’s towering white­washed walls, fluttering linen panels, disco balls and tanned-and-toned clientele—and the Rolls parked conspicuously out front—would lead one to think arriviste. But de Lépinay is a local, and he first opened the place 27 years ago as a simple beach bar. (The current incarnation dates to 1996.) Although Mahasti Debost’s no-makeup, no-heels rule

is stead­fastly ignored here, the room has a palpable warmth and fa­miliarity that feels very Cap Ferret. De Lépinay welcomes nearly every new arrival with an embrace, floats around the tables and tries not to harass his modelhandsome son Thibault, who runs the surprisingly nice sushi bar. The food is unpretentious: single portions of grilled Argentinean entrecôte, letter-perfect frites and chocolate mousse could each feed three. How do people manage to dance? But around midnight, dance they do— among the tables, in the back grill room, in the large front bar, out on the patio. The strains of Nouvelle Vague and Off the Wall–vintage Michael Jackson follow you out the door to the car, where they finally intermingle with the sound of the surf just over the dune. ✚

N

Paris Bordeaux

Atlantic Ocean Andernos-Les-Bains Bassin

Cap Ferret

d’Arcachon

Pyla-sur-Mer Dune of Pilat

0

16 km

ADDRESS BOOK STAY Agence Immobilière de la Presqu’ile 33-5/5660-9488; immo-capferret.com; villa rentals from €1,400 per week. Agence de l’Océan 335/5660-4580; immocap ferret-ocean.com; villa rentals from €990 per week. Côté Sable 37 Blvd. de la Plage; 33-5/5717-0727; cotesable.fr; doubles from €212. GREAT VALUE Hôtel des Pins 23 Rue des Fauvettes; 33-5/ 5660-6011; hotel despins.eu; doubles from €73.

Sail Fish Suites 2 Rue des Roitelets; 33-5/5691-8174; chez greg.fr; doubles from €2,400 per week. EAT Chez Boulan 2 Rue des Palmiers; 33-5/5660-7732; lunch for two €20. Chez Hortense Ave. Sémaphore; 33-5/56606256; dinner for two €100. La Co(o)rniche 46 Ave. Louis Gaume, Pyla-sur-Mer; 33-5/5622-7211; dinner for two €100.

La Co(o)rniche 46 Ave. Louis Gaume, Pyla-sur-Mer; 33-5/ 5622-7211; lacoorniche-pyla. com; doubles from €244.

Le Bistrot de Peyo Marché du Cap Ferret, Rue des Mouettes at the Ave. du Monument Saliens junction; 33-6/1169-5239; tapas for two €16.

GREAT VALUE La Maison du Bassin 5 Rue des Pionniers; 33-5/5660-6063; lamaisondubassin.com; doubles from €134.

Sail Fish 38 Rue Bernaches; 33-5/5660-4484; dinner for two €78.

Le Père Ouvrard 4 Rue des Pionniers; no phone.

travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 97


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18 MUST-READ TRIP IDEAS

Italian LAKES 33 WAYS TO BE WOWED

CHIANG MAI 10 BEST NEW BOUTIQUES

PHILIPPINES The magic of Misibis Bay

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journal adventure

Jungle Baby

Any visit to the interior of Papua New Guinea is going to be a lesson in environmental awareness, but as Craig Simons discovers, the learning curve is long, the journey unforgettable

© T y l e r Ols o n / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m

M

y crash course in tropical ecology was going well until I spotted what looked to be a soccer ball– size lump of fur on a distant branch. I’d been hiking for most of the day through highland rain forest in Papua New Guinea—a place that E. O. Wilson, a Harvard naturalist, identifies as one of the world’s last pockets of “true wilderness”— and surprised myself with my rapidly growing knowledge. Earlier during the course of the day I’d correctly identified six birds. Blackbreasted boatbill. Fantailed cuckoo. Cinnamon-browed honeyeater, a small creature with bright yellow and »

A trail through the tropical forest.

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red feathers around its eyes. You name it, I knew it. I’d learned that, while temperate forests tend to be dominated by oaks, maples or pines, no single species makes up more than 20 percent of a tropical rain forest, a reason for their incredible diversity. And I’d seen firsthand what it means that New Guinea, an island split roughly in half by Papua New Guinea and Indonesia’s Irian Jaya, protects more than six percent of the world’s biodiversity on roughly half of one percent of its land—a space roughly double the size of California but packed to the treetops with wildlife. Then I spotted the tree kangaroo. I’d spent hours looking for just such a clump of fur. I hollered for my guides, Junior and Samkass. They hurried back across a fat, fern-encrusted tree trunk and followed my excited finger pointing to where I was sure my first tree kangaroo was happily dozing. Let’s just say that PNG’s wildlife is difficult to identify; most are good at disguise. Unlike the rest of Asia, the country has no elephants, tigers or rhinos. Instead, its wildlife are distant cousins to those in Australia. They first arrived during an ice age that ended some 12,000 years ago and then figured out how to live in the jungle.  We stared into the canopy for a minute. Silence. Then Samkass started laughing. “That’s just moss,” he said. “You’re still a jungle baby.” I was crestfallen. But it’s just that kind of education that made me visit in the first place. My trip started in Port 100 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

Moresby, PNG’s ugly, dangerous capital. Visitors are advised to stay in good hotels and not venture out alone at night. I quickly made my way to Madang, a small city on the north coast popular with scuba divers. Just before dawn one November morning, I found myself sitting outside an airplane hangar waiting for a Mission Aviation Fellowship flight. A sign on the wall said that anyone carrying “day-old chickens” should pay 20 kina, about US$8, for each box they checked in. Twenty minutes later a German pilot named Holger Lasitold told me to sit next to him in a five-seat Cessna. He handed me a set of giant aviation headphones and warned me not to bump any of the buttons or knobs near my knees. He wiped condensed moisture off the windshield with his sleeve, gunned the propeller into a blur and hurled us into the brightening sky. Together with searching for tree kangaroos, flying is one of PNG’s great pleasures. A nation of six million people, it has only two serious roads and even they aren’t connected. To get almost anywhere in the highlands—the mountainous area at the country’s heart—you have to fly. After Holger had banked away from Madang, he explained that Mission Aviation Fellowship flies to about 350 of 600 grass airstrips carved into PNG’s forests. Many have no scheduled service. If someone needs a lift, they crank up a gas-powered generator and radio the airport.

f r o m l e f t : © As p e n r o c k / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m ; © B y e l i k o v a / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m

journal adventure


Paddling Papua New Guinea’s pristine waters. A tree kangaroo, right. Opposite from left: Cassowary, a flightless bird; high above Papua New Guinea.

© Guido Amrein / Dreamstime.com; © Steven Pike / Dreamstime.com

We banked around FAT cumulus clouds and swooped along the jungle canopy, buzzing over airstrips

Then they wait however long it takes for a plane to show up. Hours, sometimes days. Besides the incredible views of the green sweep of forests and mountains and, in the distance, South Pacific islands, what makes flying one of PNG’s take-home  memories is the reminder that people still pilot planes. Holger ignored a flashing computer message and flew by sight. We banked around fat cumulus clouds and swooped along the top of the jungle canopy, buzzing over a few long lines of grass—impossibly short or steep airstrips. The MAF flight manual discusses the difficulty of landing on some of the country’s homemade runways. It warns pilots that some strips are often obstructed by dogs or cattle. Other communities have problems keeping the grass cut and pilots should judge how thick it is before setting down. Some, including, I had heard, where we were heading, require aerial acrobatics like swinging around abrupt cliffs and dipping suddenly after clearing the forest. The view, however, took my mind off the imminent landing. One hundred meters up I gazed out at an unbroken canopy hung with mist like trailing spider webs. I spotted waterfalls that exploded into showers of light. By the time Holger touched down among a few dozen bamboo-andthatch buildings, I’d largely forgotten to worry. The village, named Yawan, is the staging point for visits to 75,000 hectares of protected forests managed by the Tree

Kangaroo Conservation Project, a NGO based at Seattle’s Woodland Park Zoo. Set up in 2009, the area conserves forests critical to the survival of the Matschie’s tree kangaroo, an endangered species, and allows scientists to study the near-pristine jungle. This is a dense, cathedral-like space where vines drop from a 60-meter-high canopy and giant ferns sway over the soft, fertile earth. Yawan’s villagers own most of the protected forests and are happy to arrange hikes or help visitors meet local scientists. Annie Ogate, the wife of the village chief, offered me lodging in a small, bamboo floored house with windows looking out at stunning cliffs. After a bit of coaxing, she also offered up some of the area’s history. PNG’s highlands have been inhabited for more than 20,000 years and its people learned to farm well before Europeans. The rich land and traditions that emerged have cultivated thousands of distinct cultures: PNG is home to more than 800 languages—12 percent of the world’s total— and a dizzying array of customs. I was interested in Yawan’s past partly because that diversity remained unknown until a pair of Australian prospectors flew over the highlands in 1935 and were surprised to find large villages. In 1961, anthropologists made first contact with highland communities, probably the last time in history that such a vast, previously unknown civilization was pulled into our larger humanity. » travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 101


The first foreigner to live in Yawan arrived in 1976. Even today the village gets no more than a few dozen visitors each year, most of them scientists working for the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Project or for a tropical ecology research station in a neighboring valley. The local villages maintain distinct traditions, but I decided to focus on PNG’s natural wonders and spent the next week talking scientists into letting me tag along on various expeditions. One morning, Katerina Tvardikova, a Czech ornithologist, allowed me to join her on a five-hour transect to count birds. We started at what locals call “birdsinging hour”: dawn. She identified dozens of species, including Spotted jewel-babblers, small birds with red crowns and slate-grey breasts; and Vulterine parrots, so named because they have the hunched-forward look of vultures. Not an expert by any means, I occasionally pointed out birds I spotted in the canopy but mostly just happily tagged along. The country is home to more than 750 different kinds of birds, and has become a Holy Grail for birders. The most popular species are the 42 varieties of birds of paradise, a family with such beautiful plumage that for hundreds of years it has been hunted for hats and headdresses. The hunting means that spotting a bird of paradise is difficult and despite a government ban on exports, we didn’t find any. Yet Katerina showed me a MacGregor’s bird of paradise dancing stage, an arena built by a male to attract a 102 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

We followed snaking paths through an understory of ferns, swaying BAMBOO and moss-covered trees

mate. The species is unusual in that females pick their partners by how well they build stick nests and then decorate them with grasses and berries, possibly an evolutionary tactic to improve brain power. Another day I visited a plot where a dozen scientists and their assistants were clearing one hectare of jungle to study its insects. Tropical rain forests are the world’s most diverse plots of land and Vojtech Novotny, a Czech ecologist who runs the Binatang Research Center in Madang, estimated that they will come away having found some 50,000 individual “plant-insect interactions.” My week in Yawan was nearing its end too quickly. It was time I move on and study some mammals. That’s when I hired Junior and Samkass to guide me to the top of Mount Numora, a 3,600-meter jungle peak that towers over the canopy. We started at 8 a.m. and followed hunting paths that

f r o m l e f t : © d a n i e l b u d i m a n / i s t o c k p h o t o . c o m ; © T y l e r Ols o n / D r e a m s t i m e . c o m

journal adventure


© Axleight | Dreamstime.com

Another world under the sea. From opposite left: The country boasts a wealth of colorful bird life; a village in the interior.

snaked through an understory of enormous ferns, swaying bamboo and moss-covered trees. Aware of my naturalist bent, Junior pointed out a halfeaten papaya left by a cuscus—a shy marsupial with the kind of big, round eyes that draw millions of kids to zoos around the world each year—and long kangaroo claw marks in the bark of a towering tree. He told me about spotting cassowary, flightless birds that can weigh as much as your average overstuffed adult. They are able to swallow objects as large as grapefruits and look like hybrids of ostriches, turkeys and even a dinosaur. The most famous animal here, however, is the tree kangaroo. Relatives of Australia’s rock wallabies, tree kangaroos retain powerful back legs and hold their young in big front pockets. But unlike their Australian cousins, they spend most of their time high in the jungle, hunting at night and sleeping during the day, when they look like mossy soccer balls sitting precariously on high tree limbs. As we hiked, I scanned the canopy. After six hours of climbing, we reached a ridge-top shelter made from logs and dried grass and set up camp. From our skyline perch, I found a comfortable seat and watched the sun slip toward the dense green jungle, enjoying the quiet. And then, in the fading light, I spotted my tree kangaroo. Even after Samkass had mocked my jungle naivety, I wondered if, maybe, he was wrong. The forest is an oasis

of fertility that exceeded anything I’d seen before. In that natural wonderland, it seemed possible that even a bump of moss might suddenly rise up and walk away. Or was I still a jungle baby? ✚

guide to papua new guinea GETTING THERE Mission Aviation Fellowship Flies between Madang and Yawan on Wednesdays. Reservations are recommended, though it’s possible to buy tickets at the airstrip. 675/422-2229; png-madang@ maf.org; US$150 one-way. North Coast Aviation Flies between Lae and Yawan on Mondays. nca.com.pg; US$107 one-way.    STAY Home stays are the only option in Yawan. Annie Ogate can arrange basic but clean rooms in the village council house or a nearby home. It is best to bring a sleeping bag and sleeping pad. Earplugs come in handy because of early-rising roosters. With three simple but filling meals included, lodging costs about US$20 per person per night.

GETTING AROUND Because trails aren’t marked and many people speak only Pidgin English, it’s best to hire local guides once you arrive in Yawan, who charge between US$5 and US$10 per day. Tips are appreciated. DO Hiking is the main draw. Guides can suggest several routes to the Tree Kangaroo Conservation Project zone. The route up Mount Numora is challenging and requires crossing a long meter-wide ridge. Don’t attempt it if you’re afraid of heights. Also, have your guides watch for wild pig traps. Several hikes use permanent lean-to shelters, but bring good rain gear. Travelers can also visit local villages and might be able to see work being done by local scientists. Ask Annie or Dono.

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journal hotels A view of Aman Sveti Stefan, in Montenegro, from the mainland.

 In the heart of the Adriatic, The once-secret island getaway of Sveti Stefan is reborn as a glamorous  resort. by Charles Maclean. Photographed by Malú Alvarez

 Montenegro’s    next act

D

riving south along the precipitous Budva corniche, described by Lord ­Byron as “the most beautiful meeting of land and sea” anywhere, I glimpse Aman ­Sveti Stefan far below. A cluster of red-roofed cottages on a rocky isle moored to the mainland by a catwalk of pink sand, the 15th-century pirate stronghold converted into a “hotel-village” in the late 1950’s seems to float on the wide dark-blue Adriatic. The paradisiacal view hasn’t changed since I first came here as a child in 1962, when Montenegro, a remote mountain kingdom on the historic fault line between East and West, was part of communist Yugoslavia. I remember being woken one night by gunfire, the ruckus apparently caused by exuberant “bimbams” (ex-freedom-fighters) in the hills. The country is still trying to shed a romanticized reputation for brigandry and clannish political intrigue. But Sveti Stefan, an off-the-radar haunt of movie stars, jet-setters and world leaders until it fell into disrepair during the wars in the ­Balkans in the 1990’s, has been

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reborn. After an extensive multimillion-dollar makeover, the Singapore-based luxury group Amanresorts has relaunched the hotel as Aman Sveti Stefan, which comprises the private island, with freestanding cottages, and the eight-suite Villa Miločer, a former royal palace located on the mainland. The Miločer has kept the air of a charmed stately retreat. Check-in formalities are swiftly dealt with on a laptop by a cool Montenegrin girl named Jelena, who welcomes me in the simple, unpretentious Aman style that makes guests feel at home—I am easily seduced by the notion that this is not so much a hotel as a way of life. My suite is an open-plan with fluid lines, dark wood and white marble (a modern take on traditional Dalmatian interiors). The minimalist décor creates an East-meets-West ambience that is anodyne, soothingly luxurious with just a hint of the spiritual. Aman is a Sanskrit word meaning “place of peace.” Adrian Zecha, the founder of Amanresorts, came to Sveti ­Stefan in the summer of 2002. After dining under the stars on the restaurant terrace high above the Adriatic—an experience


that’s like being on the deck of a great ocean liner—Zecha fell in love with the island and saw its potential as perhaps the last unspoiled Mediterranean destination. He took a gamble in locating Aman’s second ­European resort in Montenegro, an alluring but impoverished country that at that time was still tied to Serbia. Realizing his vision for Sveti Stefan hasn’t been easy. Project coordinator Jean-Pierre Baratin recalls the enormous challenges of the site, from the complex logistics, the handicap of working within the limits of protected historic buildings, financial pressures brought on by the global downturn, and prolonged negotiations with the government—all of which ­delayed the opening. “Then there was the task of making the local people understand how important it was for the future of their country to bring ­Sveti Stefan back to its former glory,” Baratin tells me. Before dinner, I take a dip at the Queen’s Beach, a secluded cove two minutes’ walk from Miločer. I swim out until I can see the whole property, which includes 2 kilometers of coastline, hotels, restaurants and shops, and hectares of pine forest rising up the mountain slopes. While reflecting on the scale of the ­undertaking—a spa above the Queen’s Beach will eventually complete the picture—I notice a couple of locals strolling down to the water’s edge followed by an attendant insisting politely that the beach is for guests only. For Montenegrins, this is a sensitive issue. Sveti Stefan holds a special place in the nation’s heart, and many resent being excluded from what they see as their patrimony. At the Villa Miločer, a few guests have complained about the lack of ­privacy—the public may still wander along footpaths through the gardens—but general manager Henry Gray believes a balance between respect for local traditions and the Aman philosophy can be struck: “We don’t compromise in anything we do. It will take time and patience, but we will get it right.” On the wisteria-covered loggia of the Villa Miločer, dinner is served to the sound of waves gently slapping the beach. I ask for Njeguski prsut, a delicately flavored, air-cured Montenegrin ham that tastes just as delicious as I remember from my first visit. The ham comes with kaymak (a house-made cream cheese) from the same mountain valley and a glass of Vranac, the local red wine. Between courses I chat with headwaiter Vule Peric, one of the few senior staff to be kept on from the old days. Of all his nostalgia-tinged stories about serving ­Hollywood royalty (Sophia Loren; Orson Welles; Kirk Douglas; Elizabeth Taylor), the best concern former Yugoslav dictator Marshal Tito, who stayed in what is now the ground-floor library. The great man’s dogs slept in an upstairs room, and it was Peric’s job to save them the juiciest bones. The next morning, Baratin takes me on a tour of the complex. We cross the causeway to inspect the elegantly revamped cottages and suites (the number of rooms has been cut from 124 to 50), including the ­Sveti Stefan Suite (where Loren once

A renovated guest room with antico stone walls and a wood-beamed ceiling, above. Right: A spacious en suite bathroom. Top: The Villa Miločer, built in the 1930’s.

stayed), with its own black swimming pool and spectacular views over the Adriatic. Baratin points out what’s been dubbed the Piazza, where guests can gather for cocktails: the idea is to reinvent the village square. The island’s historic exteriors have been preserved, the church immaculately restored, the once unreliable plumbing modernized—I’m left in no doubt that the “pearl of the Adriatic” has regained its luster. ✚ Aman Sveti Stefan, Sveti Stefan, Montenegro; 382-33/420-000; amanresorts.com; doubles from US$822. travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 105


After dark, Kuala Lumpur comes alive at 21 Bar.

Vibe Malaysian

With a nightlife scene that’s heating up fast and a hard drive for thinking and building big, Kuala Lumpur is fast becoming a great city for after-hours entertainment. By Bruno Lee. Photographed by kevin miller


I

AFTER-HOURS MENU From left: Deep-fried fare at Dancing Fish; the bar awaits at the masculine Il Primo Restolounge; Delucca’s ice-cold wines for a tropical night out. Opposite: The split-level, chandeliered Café Café is popular with the city’s creative community.

t’s past 2 a.m. on a drizzly Saturday. I’m standing outside Bakita, a bar in central Kuala Lumpur with luminous powder-white interiors and an open-air balcony capped with well-manicured miniature trees posing as supersize bonsai plants. In the background, Katy Perry tells me to never look back. My beer is as warm as soup,  though the slice of lime in it is bopping enthusiastically to Perry’s beat. I approach a tubby middle-aged Indian, one out of a gaggle of taxi drivers loitering on the street corner. He is eating a donut. “How much to the Marriott?” I ask. “Thirty ringgit, boss,” he replies. It has been a while since I engaged Kuala Lumpur’s taxi drivers in monetary discussions, and it soon becomes clear that I am out of practice. “It’s a five-minute drive. Ten ringgit is ok-lah,” I half-plead, hoping that my little offering of colloquial Malay will seal the deal. It does not. “Cannot, we have a midnight charge,” the man retorts, turning his head in the opposite direction. “20 ringgit,” I offer, conciliatorily. The guy doesn’t budge. “You better walk, lah,” he suggests with some finality. It has been a while since I explored the city’s night scene, and it appears that some of its taxi drivers have developed a fondness for donuts along with hard-nosed negotiations. I’d started the evening at Albion, a slick bistro-type establishment serving modern British cuisine including a brilliant steak-and-Guinness pudding as well as Asian specialties like spicy prawn-and-mango salad. Popular with the expatriate crowd, the less-than-a-year-old eatery has a relaxed and slightly cosmopolitan vibe. Owners James Grierson and Colin Yap have, with surgical precision, transplanted a life-size slice of London’s Soho to downtown Kuala Lumpur. The quiet street, Jalan Berangan, where the eatery is located, is just a step away from the raucous party strip known as Changkat Bukit Bintang, known in abbreviated form as Changkat. The area is a conundrum of teeming bars, international restaurants, economical backpacker hostels and, further along the street, seedier rent-by-the-hour hotels. »

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DINNER AND DRINKS Above: A room with a view at the Bridge Bar; you’d never guess that Dancing Fish is located in a shopping mall.


Originally from Liverpool, Grierson informs me that the bartenders have a Rolodex of cocktail recipes to which they make constant reference. When Nick, one of the Burmese bartenders, serves me a bone-dry martini, I realize that his many hours of cocktail homework have been put to good use. Previously on nights out in the city, I’d steered clear of my cocktail of choice—they were usually a letdown, tasting too vapid or, conversely, too heavy with the vermouth. Kuala Lumpur, unlike say Hong Kong, had no cocktail culture. But, after my experience at Albion, things, it would seem, are changing. “Come back for our Sunday roast,” suggests Grierson. For the longest time, I was of the view that Hong Kong had a sophisticated Manhattanesque attitude going for it. Singapore, with its palm-tree-lined avenues and beach bars built on a reclaimed island popular with European model types and Asian jocks, got an A for effort. In after-hours terms, the Malaysian capital, in contrast, was the friendlier, more down-to-earth sibling who was pretty content to let the other two jostle for pole position. However, that isn’t to say that the city and its surrounding suburbs, with a collective population of 7.2 million, can’t lay claim to a party scene. Hong Kong–based fashion designer Barney Cheng is on board. “KL is a party destination bar none. When the clubs close, the party migrates to the suburbs or some condominium, and it turns into a brunch pool party. The last time I was there I partied for three days nonstop,” he remembers, almost too enthusiastically. Olivier Delaunay, a Tokyo-based banker who used to live in the Malaysian capital, on the other hand, says that the scene here is more down-to-earth. “There aren’t as many model types. Things are several notches tamer compared with other Asian cities. But it’s definitely less plastic,” he suggests. “That can be a good thing.” As a counterpoint, Sunitha Thayaparan, one of the editors at Malaysia’s Harpers Bazaar, feels that “the city has a great beautiful-people scene, spanning It socialites to cool celebrities.” According to her, “it’s all happening here.” Adding weight to her point: the atmosphere at No Black Tie, a jazz bar with arguably the best acoustics in the city, conveys the impression of being as a popular hole in the wall. It’s a place for what she terms as “real jazz” featuring established performers like Jose Thomas and Indonesia’s talented Tengku Ryo who, on occasions, flies in from Jakarta. With its dark, sensuous, slightly musty environment, the jazz bar is as much an off-the-radar society hangout as it is low-key deal-making venue. It’s also one of the only places near the Changkat strip where you can hold an intelligible conversation. But if it’s noise you seek, there’s always the funky house beats at hot spots like Elixir, a chic velvet-roped lounge featuring some of the city’s best house DJ’s on the decks. On Fridays, local scene-setter DJ Donovan Tho, who has played­—and more importantly, partied—alongside French legends Bob Sinclair and Dimitri from Paris, spins here. The vibe, at least by Kuala Lumpur standards, is the glitziest on Changkat. Meanwhile, Il Primo, a hunky restaurant and bar suited to the business crowd, is decked out in masculine tones of gray and black. Executive chef Alessandro Delfanti, who recently decamped from Tuscany and has worked with the likes of Gordon Ramsay, has his work cut out for him. “When it comes to food, people here have different taste sensibilities. It’s a matter of pushing the boundaries as well as sticking to convention,” explains the goateed Delfanti about his present dilemma. Besides an international mix of Italian, Japanese and Chinese cuisines, one of the things Il Primo has going for it is the sprawling outdoor car park, a prime chunk of real estate worth millions. “People won’t have to worry about parking,” he says. “In KL, this is very important.” Several days later, the topic of where to park one’s car pops up again when I meet Peter Lenhardt. The former Berlin resident is a friend I’ve known for the better part of a decade. “Tourists have a knack of finding, or at the very least they try to get a more intimate view of the city. They explore places people who live here wouldn’t dream of going to,” says Lenhardt, the managing director of a factory that constructs office furniture parts. “We aren’t very adventurous, are we? We just spend time at shopping malls where it’s easy to park.” We have this conversation at The Press Room, a restaurant and bar located at Bangsar Shopping Centre in one of the city’s toniest suburbs. Over »

SEE AND BE SCENE From top: Kuala

Lumpur’s skyline as seen from the GTower Hotel; the dessert collection at Plan B; late nights, dull lights at Batika.

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MALAYSIAN NIGHTS Above: A mixed

seafood offering at Delucca; dining in style at Plan B; wines on offer at The Social, at the GTower Hotel.

the years, Lenhardt had been a bemused witness to my love-hate relationship with the capital. The city has had an almost intuitive power to reflect what I’ve liked—or not liked—about the stage of life I was at. Among my gripes about the city is its transport system: a fractured web of stations, dots that don’t always connect. To get around the city, owning a car—and subsequently finding sufficient spots in the city to park it—is crucial. But with the government’s upcoming RM50 billion plan to develop a mass-rapid-transport system for the city, things, at least in the distant future, are looking up. And one evening, on a whim, I head to a former haunt, a tucked-away establishment called Café Café. With its inner-city location, the split-level 25-seater restaurant is popular with the city’s art and fashion sets. The space features a dazzling Swarovskiencrusted chandelier, wooden furniture with a burnished quality, an out-of-tune piano and a gigantic birdcage minus the bird, all of which transform into a perfect simulacrum of a Parisian bistro without the no-smoking regulation. Owners Ben Ng and Toto Ooi sourced these well-worn furnishings from antique stores in Prague and London’s Spitalfields Market. An extra measure of authenticity: 70’s French chanteuse Dalida humming softly in the background. At the restaurant, Ng is responsible for the French-inspired menu, which has, among other items, a passable foie gras entrée. Ooi, on the other hand, is the creative mind behind the enterprise. He’s the person who sketched the one-of-a-kind interiors other restaurants in the city haven’t been able to replicate. But that’s not to say they haven’t tried doing so. In the past year, both have done their share of traveling. Ng recently returned from France as a qualified pastry chef. His dessert creations include small, perfectly formed tarts, tasting faintly of Earl Grey. “We call it the Duchess,” says Ng. It’s here that I remember a friend, a girl named Wish Teoh who brought me to Café Café years ago. The restaurant was her little discovery, long before the city’s hipsters in their Marnis and Mui Muis staked a claim to it. She now lives between Shanghai and Beijing, and I asked her what she thought about Kuala Lumpur. Would she consider returning here to live? “I like the curiosity the city has about the world,” she told me. “It’s open and always wants to understand the outside world, perhaps because the city is multicultural itself. For me, the dining spaces and cafés send out a refreshing energy. I am still drawn to the mood and feel I can move back to grow with the city.” ✚

GUIDE TO KUALA LUMPUR STAY Doubletree by Hilton 182 Jln. Tun Razak; 60-3/2172-7272; doubles from RM390.

EAT AND DRINK Bakita 33 Jln. Berangan; 60-3/2141-7733; drinks for two RM50.

GTower Hotel 199 Jln. Tun Razak; 60-3/2168-1919; gtower. com; doubles from RM400.

Bridge Bar To arrange a guest list at Bridge Bar, reserve at the hotel. A first drink charge of RM50 per person applies. GTower Hotel; 199 Jln. Tun Razak; 60-3/2168-1919.      

One World Hotel First Ave., Bandar Utama City Centre; 60-3/7681-1111; doubles from RM350. Royal Chulan 5 Jln. Conlay; 60-3/2688-9688; theroyal chulan.com.my; doubles from RM385. The Saujana Jln. Lapangan Terbang; 60-3/7843-1234; thesaujana-kualalumpur.com; doubles from RM350. Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa Persiaran Lagoon; 60-3/ 7492-8000; kualalumpur. sunway hotels.com; doubles from RM427.50.

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Café Café 75 Jln. Maharajalela; 60-3/2145-8141; dinner for two RM200.

The Hill 23, Lorong Dungun, Damansara Heights; 60-16/2291505; dinner for two RM150. Il Primo Restolounge 28 Jln. Kia Peng; 60-3/2143-2798; ilprimokl. com; dinner for two RM250. No Black Tie 17 Jln. Mesui; 60-3/2142-3737; drinks for two RM50. Plan B Ground floor, Bangsar Village, Bangsar; 60-3/22872630; dinner for two RM100.

Delucca One Residency, Office Tower, Ground Floor, Jln. Mesui; 60-3/2144-6545; dinner for two RM200.

The Press Room Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jln. Maarof, Bukit Bandaraya; 60-3/20958098; gastrodome.com.my; dinner for two RM200.

Dancing Fish Ground Floor, West Wing, Bangsar Shopping Centre, Jln. Maarof; 60-3/20956663; dinner for two RM100.

21 bar + restaurant 20-1 Changkat Bukit Bintang; 60-3/2142-0021; drinks for two RM50.

Elixir 37, 39, 41, Changkat Bukit Bintang; 60-3/2145-8111; drinks for two RM50.

The Social Gtower Hotel, 199 Jln. Tun Razak; 60-3/2164-4424; drinks for two RM50.


No Black Tie offers great acoustics.


las vegas

food adventure P h o t o g r a p h e d b y c o r a l v o n z um w a l t


High rolling Clockwise from above left: A neon cocktail on Fremont Street, in

downtown Las Vegas; pizza margherita from Settebello Pizzeria, in Green Valley; the King lives, on the Strip; Bachi Burger’s steamed bun with pork belly. Opposite: Chef Mitsou Endo, owner of Aburiya Raku, holding a yellowtail.


Endless Feast Clockwise from top left: An octopus salad from Sage; at Archi Thai Kitchen; Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s ­Typewriter Eraser, Scale X, at CityCenter; dining alfresco at Bartolotta; squid salad from Archi Thai Kitchen; the dining room of Sage; chefs at work in Archi; Julian Serrano’s grilled shishito peppers; Circus Circus at night; pitchers of sangria at Julian Serrano. Center: Bartolotta’s marinated anchovies.


Vegas inspires a person to do do crazy crazy things. things. to Like, say, eat your way through the city’s best dishes— robata to Rajasthani, haute French to French toast— in a four-day restaurant binge. Are you ready? by Peter Jon Lindberg

DAY 1 You arrive after lunchtime, having eaten only half a bag of pretzel nuggets on the plane ride in. You are famished. Jack is surveying his notes. He has a list of 47 restaurants and less than 79 hours to attempt to try them all. This absurd stunt was his idea. Jack is a foodie’s foodie, possessed of boundless appetites and an ironclad liver. He has 2,987 Chowhound posts. He reads Menupages in bed. But this is too big a task for one, so he’s coaxed you along as his wingman. Together you will devour the daylights out of the culinary candy land that is Las Vegas, Nevada. There is ground to cover. Vegas is no longer defined by splashy casino-side restaurants, though there are still plenty of those. For food lovers the parameters have expanded tenfold: to off-Strip ramen joints, far-flung suburban pizzerias, chef’s haunts in Chinatown mini-malls. You have packed Excedrin, Maalox, Lipitor. By Thursday you will have consumed 8.6 kilos of shellfish, 22 liters of booze, five lobes of foie gras, 15 sticks of butter and three micrograms of edible gold leaf. The only thing that really worries you is the foie. There is nothing more depraved than a man in the depths of a foie gras binge. Jack slides behind the wheel of the rental car. You take a deep breath and open the passenger door. 3:09 p.m. Archi Thai Kitchen You are in a stucco hut across from a pet-grooming service. You would not have glanced twice at this place had a chef friend of Jack’s not steered you here. You surely wouldn’t have guessed that Archi’s would serve the best chicken satay of your life, a life now steeped in regret over not having found it sooner: tender thigh meat marinated overnight in curry powder, sugar and garlic, deepfried and then grilled to an ideal balance of juiciness and char.

Most satay sauces are peanut-buttery sweet, but this is spicy, dusky, demanding another dip. While Jack talks Thai to the wait staff, you scan the listings in Las Vegas Weekly: Manilow, Rod Stewart, Donny & Marie. You have found a secret portal to 1976! 4:44 p.m. Bachi Burger You are heading south. Rumor has it there’s a new spot out beyond the airport specializing in pork buns and Asian-inflected burgers. Bachi’s menu reads as if Harold and Kumar are in the kitchen doing bong hits. Of the six whacked-out burgers on offer, the highlight is an homage to the Vietnamese banh mi, blending beef, pork, shrimp and pork pâté with pickled carrots and daikon. Fresh lemongrass, mint and basil add brightness, while fish sauce supplies depth. It is intensely satisfying. Jack orders a third. 5:36 p.m. CityCenter You’ve booked rooms at the Mandarin Oriental, because you’re not the type of people who open drapes by hand. Here, a single control panel will ring your alarm and automatically raise the curtains, jack up the A/C and switch on the Today show. Downside: it takes 17 minutes to figure out the shower. The Mandarin is one of three hotels in the new CityCenter complex, whose gimmick is having no gimmick. It is no pyramid or castle or volcano, but a simulacrum of a sleek Modernist metropolis, designed by name architects (Libeskind, Pelli), complete with art installations (Rauschenberg, Stella) and pedestrians. “Modernistan” would’ve been a better name. 6:41 p.m. Julian Serrano You’re at the Aria Resort & Casino, where most of Modernistan’s restaurants are located. Dinner (round one) is at Julian Serrano’s tapas restaurant. He’s the chef behind Picasso at the Bellagio. You have high hopes. » travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 117


Red mullet with olives, capers and roasted peppers at Bartolotta.


Just as a bistro can be judged by its poulet rôti, a tapas bar is only as good as its pan con tomate. “And its sangria,” Jack adds. Both arrive swiftly. The pan con tomate, rafts of toasted bread rubbed with tomato, garlic and grassy olive oil, is terrific; the sangria overly sweet but functional. Jack summons a platter of blistered shishito peppers sprinkled with sea salt. With his eyes glued on the Anne Hathaway ringer at the hostess stand, he whistles along as the stereo blasts “Centerfold.” 7:54 p.m. Todd English P.U.B. After a pitcher of saccharine sangria, you’re craving a hoppy IPA, so you stroll over to P.U.B., CityCenter’s requisite Todd English venture. In case anyone’s confused, P.U.B. stands for “Public Urban Bar.” In case Todd English is confused, pub already sort of stood for that. You loved English’s cooking at Olives in Boston, but he’s since spread his tapenade a little thick and his discretion a little thin. The P.U.B. menu is a cheese bomb of drunk food for guys who tuck in their polos and dudes who don’t tuck in their dress shirts: BLT sliders; swordfish enchiladas. Oh, well. At least the TV’s are immense. 8:18 p.m. Sage Refuge is found down the hall. Chef Shawn McClain made his name at Spring and Green Zebra, in Chicago. Sage hews to the same farm-to-table approach—or, in Vegas’s case, FedEx-to-table. You assume two leather-clad stools at the bar. Jack’s foodcritic pal has recommended the foie gras crème brûlée. It sounds ridiculous. Laced with cocoa nibs and bing cherries, spiked with brandy and Grand Marnier, it is, in fact, ridiculously good. Your bartender, who’s pairing beers with each dish, sets down two glasses of Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch—more mead than ale, redolent of saffron and muscat grapes. A yellowtail crudo, incongruously plated with black truffles and trumpet mushrooms, turns out to be a brilliant mix of ethereal and earthy, ocean and forest floor. You stumble outside and hail a cab to the Wynn. 10:05 p.m. Bartolotta Most people would be done for the night. Most would not be at Paul Bartolotta’s coastal-Italian restaurant for Dinner No. 3. Most people aren’t you and Jack. You would’ve preferred to sit in a cabana by the faux lagoon outside. Instead, you’re relegated to a two-top by the bar, where you’re assaulted by schmaltzy ballads. Bartolotta is known for impeccably fresh and shockingly expensive fish, most of it line-caught (very eco-friendly) and flown in every other day from Italy (very not). Your waiter rolls up a cart full of evidence: silver-flecked sea bream; spiny scorpion fish; glistening snapper that two nights ago was swimming off the Ligurian coast. You can choose any fish to be grilled or roasted. For US$85, the waiter says, the kitchen will shave white truffles on anything. (“Feh,” Jack says. “I know a girl who’ll do that for US$25.”) You settle on the snapper. A flurry of starters materializes: marinated anchovies; baby clams sautéed with white wine, tomato and garlic; Sicilian saber fish that’s charcoal-grilled and rightfully left alone. The Ligurian octopus is so tender you slice it with a butter knife. The waiter explains that it was massaged “exactly 500 times,”

which inspires some speculation about whose job that is and how one might describe it on a résumé. At last comes the snapper, which requires nothing more than a splash of olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and a few quick minutes on the grill. When the bill arrives it’s past midnight and you’re well past coherent, reeling from omega-3’s, wine and bad Italian disco. Jack is raring for a nightcap and soup dumplings. “It’s 1 a.m.!” he brays. “Do you know where your inner children are?!?”

DAY 2 You passed out in your trousers. Soup dumplings were a terrible idea. When Al Roker appears and the curtains slide open to an angry sun, you’re cotton-mouthed and unsure of your whereabouts. You squint out the window for clues: Egypt? Monte Carlo? The head spins. A US$14 bowl of oatmeal hardly helps. Over breakfast at the Mandarin, Jack plots out the day’s meals. 12:20 p.m. Settebello Pizzeria First up: a Neapolitan pizza parlor in suburban Green Valley. Settebello is equipped with a 510-degree wood-fired oven for blistering the crust just so. Your brain feels like a 510-degree oven. Your companion is mysteriously unaffected. While you wait for your pies, brighteyed Jack chats up the pizzaiolo. Like any respectable Italian, he uses Molina Caputo flour for a chewy, slightly sour crust. He adds San Marzano tomatoes, olive oil, ParmigianoReggiano, mozzarella and basil. The result is impressive. After two slices you have regained your peripheral vision. 4:03 p.m. Origin India Somewhere between stops at Hot N Juicy Crawfish and a north-side molcajetes stand, your hangover subsided. Now you’re at Origin India, double-fisting ice water and a half-liter Taj Mahal. With its Moghul archways and amiable staff, Origin is a cut above the typical South Asian restaurant. You could make a fine meal from the street-snacks menu alone: the bhel puri (puffed rice, potatoes and onions in tamarind sauce) is as tasty as any you’ve had in Mumbai. You tear into plush naan with wild mushrooms and truffle oil, savory biryani and a phenomenal rogan josh made with New Zealand lamb shank. Fully restored, you cross the street to the Hard Rock for a round of blackjack. Your dealer is an amiable Filipino named Wilson, like the volleyball. With two large riding on the bet, he cajoles you into splitting a pair of eights. You bust. Wilson!!! 8:16 p.m. Joël Robuchon At last, here you are: the grandest restaurant in Vegas, from the man some call the world’s greatest chef. Joël Robuchon is located at the MGM Grand, though it does its best not to appear so: guests are picked up by limousine, delivered to a private entrance of the MGM’s exclusive Mansion annex and escorted through rear corridors, Goodfellas-style, to the sumptuous, 50-seat dining room. Swathed in regal purples and golds, the interior is like a set from Die Zauberflöte. Surprisingly, it is the furthest thing from stiff. Laughter mingles with the bright tinkle of jazz piano. Your table is covered in what appear to be Mardi Gras beads. A bread cart emerges, and you begin to giggle. It is the Maybach of bread carts, laden with saffron focaccia, Gruyère » travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 119


brioche, olive flutes—plus a nearly 2½-kilo slab of butter flown in from Brittany, that reminds you what real butter tastes like. Robuchon’s 16-course tasting menu costs US$385 a person. (You are down that much at blackjack. Jack is treating.) As at so many Michelin three-stars, the opening courses are the standouts, their daintiness and concision whispering a whole evening’s worth of promise: a tin of osetra caviar hiding a layer of crabmeat and fennel cream; airy egg-yolk ravioli with chanterelles and spinach foam. Pairings are equally assured. A minerally white burgundy from Méo-Camuzet drinks beautifully with roasted lobster and sea-urchin flan. At some point you are no longer consuming food; food is consuming you. Time has stopped. Before you know it a mignardises cart appears, glittering like a jewel box. Is it really 12:15? The four-hour bacchanal has left you energized, the way great Japanese food does. Your feet feel lighter as you stride to the casino for some postprandial Texas Hold’em. You win a few hands. You could play more. But the night is young, Jack insists, and—speaking of Japanese—Raku is just getting started. 2:07 a.m. Aburiya Raku You are not the kind of person who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. Then again, nobody goes to Raku before midnight. Certainly not the chefs who make up much of the restaurant’s clientele. (Hey, isn’t that Paul Bartolotta?) Tucked in a strip mall on Spring Mountain Road, the heart of Vegas’s Chinatown, Raku shot to cult status soon after opening in 2008. The focus is on robata—charcoal-grilled meats and vegetables—but the real treats are on the dailychanging chalkboard menu: pristine fried prawns; quivering cubes of house-made tofu; a velvety poached egg with Santa Barbara sea urchin; silky custard with silkier foie gras. This is hearty Japanese soul food, ideally paired with sake or beer. (The faux-hawked barman suggests Ginga Kogen, an unfiltered hefeweizen from Nishiwaga.) You wind up closing the place down for the night, staggering out as the staff are stacking the chairs.

➥ DAY 3 When you awake, the Today show is long over.

Housekeeping has given up and left a note. You’re bloodshot, bleary-eyed and ravenous. You could murder some French toast. Your cohort knows just the place. 12:41 p.m. Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge Uhoh. You’ve heard about the Peppermill. About its monstrous breakfasts and giant Scorpion Bowls (both served 24/7); the fake trees foresting the dining room; the goofy fire pits dating to the Carter administration. For once, notoriety is inadequate. Your waitress wears a dress so low-cut the neckline catches on her belly ring. She brings you Bloody Marys the size of Big Gulps. The French Toast Collage includes not only an 18-centimeter stack of battered challah but three fried eggs, bacon, sausage and several golf balls of whipped butter. You are impervious to pain, cholesterol, remorse.

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2:53 p.m. Monta “Irasshaimase!” shout the cooks as you enter. They’re wearing do-rags and white rubber boots. You take two empty seats. The other 24 are occupied entirely by Japanese: hipsters, businessmen, hipster-businessmen and an octogenarian in a trilby. Opened last May on Spring Mountain Road ( just two doors down from Raku), Monta specializes in tonkatsu ramen, a nutty pork broth of unfathomable depth, laden with wood-ear mushrooms, scallions and a boiled egg. To this bowl of id you have added strips of roast pork belly that dissolve on the tongue. Your blood runs several degrees warmer as you slurp the last spoonful. Spring Mountain Road resembles any suburban strip, except every storefront has a pagoda roof. You stroll east in the fading light, Jack darting in and out of pho shops, boba tea shops, Hawaiian poke joints, Macanese bakeries, Taiwanese noodle houses and Mongolian BBQ’s, snacking as you go. 7:02 p.m. Twist A quick nap restores your appetite. Jack has spent the interim waist-deep in a martini glass at the Golden Steer. He knocks on your door clad in Armani and apparently no worse for wear. You ascend to the Mandarin’s 23rd floor and slide into a banquette at Twist, the first U.S. restaurant from chef Pierre Gagnaire. Where Robuchon went plush, Twist goes spare, bordering on ascetic. Tiny globe pendants, flickering like distant planets, hang from a double-height ceiling. The room’s pale, chilly lighting is more suited to a museum—or a spaceship. This is not a place to propose. Gagnaire’s cooking is quirky and cerebral, which doesn’t mean it can’t be fun. The amuse-bouche: shards of cumin flatbread to dip into tuna-infused Chantilly, then into a ramekin of dehydrated shrimp that crackle like Rice Krispies upon contact with the cream. “How cool is that?” Jack chortles, repeating the trick over and over until the waiter removes the bowl. More martinis are procured. Each course includes three separate dishes on three separate plates, which may be two too many for a man in Jack’s condition. He’s unsure which to tackle: the foie gras–and-fig terrine, studded with Sauternessoaked apricots and cosseted in speck? The rhubarb-andeggplant mousse? Or the bracing salad of pickled chanterelles, pickled onions and mâche, drizzled in beet syrup? Once again, the meal peaks early. Hamachi ceviche is served on a chicory-and-grapefruit salad so brassy and bitter it overwhelms the fish; cod is buried in a cloying reduction. By the fourth course you’ve lost interest. “Maybe they’ll bring us more Rice Krispie shrimp,” Jack wonders aloud. 12:45 a.m. Society Café You shouldn’t. You needn’t. But: another round. A taxi whisks you to the Encore resort, where Society Café dishes out late-night comfort food. After that heady dinner, you’re craving the unfussy nourishment that can only be delivered by a bowl of soup—in this case, roasted tomato bisque, with a salad of Rosso Bruno tomatoes and creamy, tangy burrata. From your perch at the bar, you play Spot-the-Call-Girl, Guess-the-John. Jack orders another Sazerac; you wander off to find the gents’. In the next stall a »


eating las vegas

Clockwise from top left: The mignardises cart at Joël Robuchon, at the MGM Grand; Robuchon’s bone marrow and vegetable ragoût; Kobe beef, grilled duck and tomato skewers from Aburiya Raku; Monta restaurant’s Chef Yuki; ginger-matsutake tea at Robuchon; terrace dining at Robuchon; outside a store on Las Vegas Boulevard.


The dining room at Twist.


guy is chatting on the phone and, judging from the sound of plastic on porcelain, chopping rails of coke. When did the night become a Jay McInerney novel?

➥ DAY 4 The scale in your hotel bathroom says you’ve

gained three kilograms since Monday. 11:29 a.m. Lotus of Siam Another day, another parking lot. This one is particularly derelict—probably hosts pit-bull fights after dark. Right now its only occupants are a dozen souls queued outside a still-locked door, waiting for lunch to begin. You’ve read the decade-old Gourmet article proclaiming Lotus of Siam “the best Thai restaurant in North America.” You’ve heard about its new branch in Manhattan, a rare case of reverse Vegas-NYC migration. You’ve heard the hype, and, frankly, you’re determined not to buy it. And then you finally lift fork to mouth and taste Lotus’s Isan-style deep-fried beef—beef jerky, for the love of Mike!— and your eyes actually well up, not so much from the heat, though it packs plenty, as from the sheer abundant goodness of the thing. Beneath a crackly exterior, dark as night and dusted with lemongrass, the beef is resoundingly juicy, each bite releasing waves of earthy flavor. You and Jack stare at your plates, dumbstruck. “Whoa,” he murmurs. “Whoa,” you reply. 4:20 p.m. Luv-it Frozen Custard While Jack goes off in search of ribs and empanadas, you manage to shed another US$170 at the Aria’s casino. This prompts a solo visit to Luv-It Frozen Custard, which has lifted the spirits of People-WhoLose-at-Blackjack since Robert Goulet was headlining the Sands. You devour your sundae on the blazing-hot hood of your car. It does the trick. With its homey façade and primitive sign, Luv-It reminds you of a bygone Las Vegas, before Wolfgang Puck arrived to make the city safe for celebrity chefs and serious dining. Since then, goes the logic, Vegas has become a bona fide food town. Or has it? For all the great meals you’ve had, ambitious cooking remains very much the exception here. This is still the land of soggy pancakes and leathery steaks, of flavorless crab legs and tasteless design. A place where restaurants offer to “add lobster to any dish—$26!” (Because who wouldn’t want lobster in their mac and cheese?) In every other aspect of Vegas life, kitsch and silliness are fundamental. But it’s hard to eat with your tongue in your cheek. 7:18 p.m. Caesars Palace The last meal is upon you. There’s an 11:30 red-eye to catch. You and Jack are at Caesars, wrestling with a dilemma. You have a table booked upstairs at Restaurant Guy Savoy—meaning you have the chance to eat three consecutive dinners, by three of France’s greatest living chefs. But to be honest, you are craving pasta something fierce. Just downstairs from Guy Savoy is…Rao’s. Rao’s! Whose 10 tables in Harlem are still the toughest booking in New York, 115 years on. And here it is in Caesars Palace, overflowing with marinara sauce and the whoops of wine-soaked celebrants. And there’s a booth available! You marvel at the absurdity of the choice: Guy Savoy...or Rao’s! Only in Vegas. So which will it be?

7:19 p.m. Rao’s The Vegas outpost is four times larger than Manhattan’s, but it’s divided into separate dining rooms, each scaled like the original. There’s a warmth here that’s hard to quarrel with: soft-glowing sconces, burnished plank floors, the obligatory head shot. Wait staff are prone to laughter; even the busboys slap your back. Rao’s inspires confidence. This is a place where, when they offer grated Parmesan, you say, “Yes,” and when they offer another bottle, you say, “Hell, yes.” You say “Hell, yes” to a lot at Rao’s. To a zesty insalata di mare—calamari, shrimp, PEI mussels, lobster and sweet crabmeat. To penne alla vodka and toothsome fiocchetti, stuffed with ricotta and pear, in a sage-butter-cranberry sauce. “That’s my jam!” shouts Jack, knocking over his wine glass. You realize how much you’ve missed this food. (Except the meatballs. Biting into Rao’s polpette is like gnawing on a Birkenstock.) More wine is brought. You try to find the bathroom and wind up on the bocce court. When you return, the woman in the next booth is giving her consort a lap dance. Bombed on Barolo and cheesecake, you and Jack defer your departure. Instead, you’re hatching plans for your own casino resort. Jack’s idea: Vegas, Vegas. Scale models of all the hotels on the Strip, each with just one room. “Very exclusive,” he reasons. “What’ll the restaurants serve?” you ask. “Small plates, of course.” ✚

address book STAY

GREAT VALUE Mandarin Oriental,

Las Vegas 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/590-8888; mandarinoriental. com; doubles from US$225. EAT Aburiya Raku 5030 W. Spring Mountain Rd.; 1-702/367-3511; dinner for two US$50. Archi Thai Kitchen 6360 W. Flamingo Rd.; 1-702/880-5550; lunch for two US$15. Bachi Burger 470 E. Windmill Lane; 1-702/242-2244; lunch for two US$30. Bartolotta Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/7709966; dinner for two US$260. Hot N Juicy Crawfish 4810 Spring Mountain Rd.; 1-702/891-8889; lunch for two US$30. Joël Robuchon MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/891-7925; 16-course tasting menu for two US$385. Julian Serrano Aria Resort & Casino; 3730 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/590-8520; dinner for two US$80. Lotus of Siam 953 E. Sahara Ave.; 1-702/735-3033; dinner for two US$60.

Luv-It Frozen Custard 505 E. Oakey Blvd.; 1-702/384-6452; custard for two US$8. Monta 5030 Spring Mountain Rd.; 1-702/367-4600; lunch for two US$30. Origin India 4480 Paradise Rd.; 1-702/734-6342; dinner for two US$80. Peppermill Restaurant & Fireside Lounge 2985 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/735-4177; breakfast for two US$35. Rao’s Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/731-7110; dinner for two US$130. Sage Aria Resort & Casino; 1-702/590-7111; dinner for two US$125. Settebello Pizzeria 140 Green Valley Pkwy.; Henderson; 1-702/ 222-3556; dinner for two US$23. Society Café Encore at Wynn Las Vegas, 3131 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/770-5300; dinner for two US$82. Todd English P.U.B. Aria Resort & Casino; 1-702/489-8080; dinner for two US$75. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 1-702/590-8888; dinner for two US$300.

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best of the

italian

stately garden villas, artisanal food shops, waterside restaurants—What’s not to love about Italy’s lake region? From como to Orta, Maggiore and Garda, Valerie ­waterhouse reveals the top places to stay, eat, shop and see right now. P h oto g ra p h ed

b y

O B E R T O

G I L I

o p p o s i t e , b ot to m r i g h t: co u rt e sy o f Lo c a n da Sa n V e r o lo

lakes


I

can still remember vividly my first en­counter with the Italian lakes 20 years ago. An hour’s train ride whisked me from Milan to Como, where I picnicked amid the white, red and pink rhododen­drons of the balustraded Villa Melzi, in nearby Bellagio. From there, it was a half-hour drive to Orta, with its balmy climate and olive groves. I spent the weekend shopping for the area’s many delicacies—red Gattinara wine, pork salumi, truffle-scented oil. The lake region, which stretches from Piedmont to Lombardy and the Veneto, has had a mythic quality for centuries. Ancient Roman writers, including Pliny the Younger, were among the first to use the area as a summer escape. They wrote lovingly about its shady plane-tree walks and flowery banks. Today, its legendary reputation continues. Celebrities includ­ing George Clooney and Richard Branson have owned villas on Como for more than 10 years. Little has changed in the past 50 years, though several grand hotel open­ ings (most recently the lavish CastaDiva Resort, in Como) have added to the lakes’ cachet. The main attractions, however, remain the simple, authentic pleasures that travelers have appreciated since the days of the Grand Tour. On the following pages, you’ll find the best of the region, from top hotels and restaurants to little-known treasures, such as an 11th-century abbey where monks have bottled home-brewed liqueurs for centuries. »

MYTHICAL ITALY Clockwise from top left: The drawing room of the Imperial Suite at Orta

San Giulio’s Villa Crespi, on Lake Orta; risotto with coconut milk and ratatouille in Villa Crespi’s Michelin-starred restaurant; inside Locanda San Verolo restaurant, at Lake Garda; the famous Renaissance-style garden at Villa d’Este, in Cernobbio, on Lake Como. Opposite: Waiters at the ready on the lakefront terrace at Villa d’Este.

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D

espite a high celeb quotient, Como, Italy’s most sophisticated lake, embodies low-key glamour, history and tradition. Its 48-kilometerlong western shoreline runs from the miniature sailing port of Cernobbio through sleepy Laglio to Menaggio. On the eastern shore is the chic hillside village of Bellagio, with its rainbowcolored villas; the old stone fishing villages of Bellano and Varenna are popular with culture and nature buffs, thanks to their medieval castles and elaborate Renaissance gardens.

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LAKE COMO

The pool at Relais Regina Teodolinda, in Laglio. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Wildflower digestif and small-batch limoncello at Abbazia di Piona; a room in Relais Regina Teodolinda; outside the 11th-century Piona Abbey, in Colico; and breakfast at Relais Regina Teodolinda.

➤ STAY An illuminated stone walkway wel­comes guests to the Relais Regina Teodolinda (58 Via Vecchia Regina, Laglio; 39-031/400031; relaisreginateodolinda.it; doubles from €211), an 1800’s villa with a 200-year-old gar­den overlooking Lake Como. The six suites are simple but stylish, with zebrapatterned rugs, white rafters and stripped-down walls that reveal centuries of pastel paintwork. The most prestigious of the water­ front hotels, the legendary Villa d’Este (40 Via Regina, Cernobbio; 39-031/3481; villadeste.it; doubles from €400) has attracted the international jet set since the 19th century. Along with 152 opulent rooms (silk brocade curtains; 16th-century frescoes), the property has 10 hectares of parkland, just enough space for three restau­rants, three pools, eight tennis courts and a renovated spa. GREAT VALUE At the contemporary Hotel Villa Stupenda (3 Via per Lecco, Bellano; 39-0341/810-386; villastupenda.it; doubles from €120), the understated suites look out onto Bellano harbor, where herons and cormorants gather. Inside, white Giorgetti armchairs and modular lamps are paired with original brickwork arch­es and exposed-beam ceilings. The only downside is that a narrow road runs between the hotel and the lakeshore. ➤ EAT International A-listers frequent Navedano (Via Giuseppe Velzi, Como; 39-031/ 308-080; dinner for two €146), in a 19thcentury windmill. Fresh flowers fill the intimate dining room year-round, and during summer, the outdoor veranda is surrounded by roses, orchids and lemon trees. Order the bouquet di mare, a vast platter of steamed seafood with lemon juice and olive oil. Every morning owner Cristian Ponzini sails out on Como to catch lava­ rello and other native fish to serve at his glass-walled Ristorante Silvio (12 Via Carcano, Bellagio; 39-031/950-322; dinner for two €67). Ponzini is one of the few who have fishing rights on the lake—a privilege that has been passed down through his family for generations. » travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 127


For the area’s best pizza, head to the La Piazzetta (6 Piazza Roma, Argegno;

39-031/821-110; dinner for two €58), where a wood-fired stone oven turns out crunchy buckwheat thin-crust pies. Ettore Bocchia is one of the most ex­perimental chefs in the region, incorpo­rating molecular gastronomic techniques at Ristorante Mistral (1 Via Roma, Bellagio; 39-031/956-435; dinner for two €160). Besides the liquid-nitrogencooled guacamole ice cream, try the ravi­oli stuffed with peacock breast. Hot on Bocchia’s heels is up-andcoming chef Simone Raviscioni, who runs the kitchen at Pesa Vegia (7 Piazza G. Verdi, Bellano; 39-0341/810-306; dinner for two €78), housed in a pink villa. Don’t miss his spin on a classic tiramisu, made with siphon-sprayed mascarpone foam. ➤ SHOP Como’s renowned olive oils are made by two principal suppliers. On the lake’s western shore, Vanini Osvaldo (10 Via Silvio Pellico, Lenno; 39-0344/55-127) is a family operation that has been producing fruity, full-flavored oils for more than 150 years. At Azienda Agricola Poppo (Frazione Biosio, Bellano; 39-0341/ 821-362), on the east­ern side, the smallbatch oil is known for its grassy flavor. Shopping is a spiritual experience at Abbazia di Piona (Loc. Piona, Coli­co; 39-0341/ 940-331), an artisanal store run by monks in an 11th-century ab­bey. Almost everything here is made on site, from the limoncello and man­darin liqueur to the beeswax soap. For decades, tailors at the family-run Orefice (16 Via Regina, Cernobbio; 39031/512-053) have created made-tomeasure wool and linen suits for luminaries such as Clark Gable. ➤ DO Twentieth-century explorer Guido Monzino’s former residence turned museum, Villa del Balbianello (Via Comoedia, Lenno; 39-0344/56110), showcases his eclectic collection. For a round of golf, head to Menaggio e Cadenabbia Golf Club (54 Via Wyatt, Menaggio; 39-0344/32103), Italy’s second-oldest club, founded in 1907. 128 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com


to p l e f t: co u rt e sy o f p i cco lo l ag o

LAKEs Orta + Maggiore

s The Moorish-style Imperial Suite at Villa Crespi. Clockwise from top left: Scambio di battute at Piccolo Lago restaurant, in Verbania Fondotoce; the turreted Villa Crespi; a motor taxi on Lake Orta; a cook from chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo’s team at Villa Crespi.

et along the banks of the Alps, Maggiore, Italy’s second-largest lake, is the busiest and most untamed. The eastern, Lombard shore is characterized by wild woodlands, but most travelers go to the western side, where the village of Stresa is full of artisanal shops. Close to the Swiss border you’ll find Cannobio, a labyrinth of cobblestoned streets, medieval palazzi and waterfront restaurants. Less than 16 kilometers west of Maggiore, Lake Orta is only 13 kilometers long and less than a 1½ kilometers wide. In Orta San Giulio, the central stairway leads from the ocher-and-cream-colored Santa Maria Assunta church to the lakeside Piazza Mario Motta, which is lined with arcades and outdoor cafés. »

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➤ STAY Ernest Hemingway used the Grand Hôtel des Iles Borromées (76 Corso Umberto I, Stresa; 39-0323/938938; borromees.it; doubles from €163) as a setting in his 1929 novel A Farewell to Arms, and it’s no wonder—the property has been a landmark since the mid 1800’s. Inside, guest rooms are outfitted with richly patterned carpets and Empire-style furniture while a vast collection of Roman vases and decorative artifacts fills the unforgettable hotel’s spacious corridors. GREAT VALUE Design buffs love the 12 rooms at Hotel Pironi (35 Via Marconi, Cannobio; 39-0323/70624; pironihotel.it; doubles from €135), where original fres­ coes and antiques are offset by modern fuchsia pillows and yellow lampshades. Downstairs, a vaulted wine cellar has been converted into a stylish bar with an impressive wine list. Built by a powerful industrialist in 1879, the turreted Villa Crespi (18 Via G. Fava, Orta San Giulio; 39-0322/911-902; villacrespi.it; doubles from €240; din­ner for two €163) is a Moorish-style estate with original plasterwork ceilings, four-poster beds and damask draperies. The real draw, however, is the hotel’s Michelinstarred restaurant, where chef-owner Antonino Cannavacciuolo, formerly of Capri’s Grand Hotel Quisisana, whips up such creative dish­es as buffalo mozzarella ice cream with tomato sauce and basil granita. GREAT VALUE If you prefer a farmhouse to a 19th-century villa, check in to the family-run Agriturismo La Capuccina (19B Via Novara, Loc. La Capuccina, Cureggio; 39-0322/839-930; lacapuccina.it; doubles from €77). The property’s owners have lovingly decorated eight rusticchic rooms with cashmere bed­spreads and carved wooden head­boards, smartly set off by sage, plum and sky-blue painted walls. GREAT VALUE

➤ EAT The Michelin-starred Piccolo Lago (87 Via Filippo Turati, Verbania Fondotoce; 39-0323/586-792; dinner for two €154) is known for its Piedmontese specialties. So then, what to order? The filetto di 130 may 2011 | travelandleisureasia.com

manzo, beef with goose-liver sauce and Sichuan pepper. Located in a red-roofed villa, Ristorante Milano (2 Corso Zanitello, Verbania; 39-0323/556-816; dinner for two €135) is home to a dining room that’s remained unchanged since the 1850’s. The menu focuses on local classics, from housemade ravioli filled with creamy ricotta to lavaret, or whitefish, cooked in butter and sage. On Maggiore’s pint-size Isola dei Pescatori, you’ll find the intimate Ristorante CasaBella (1 Via del Marinaio, Isola dei Pescatori; 39-0323/33471; dinner for two €72). Reserve a table in the cozy, wood-paneled dining room or on the rooftop terrace, which has views of the neighboring Isola Bella. ➤ SHOP No seriously stylish house is complete with­out a steel-wire fruit basket by Fernando and Humberto Campana or a squirrel-shaped nutcracker by Andrea Branzi from iconic design firm Alessi (6 Via Privata Alessi, Crusinallo; 39-0323/ 868-648). The compa­ny’s only factory store in Italy offers deep discounts and is located just north of Orta. Cashmere sweaters, blankets and bolts of woolen fabrics fill the shelves at the outlet of Loro Piana (484 Via Novara, Romagnano Sesia; 39-0163/826-875). An hour’s drive west of Orta, Lanificio Luigi Colombo (263 Via Novara, Romagnano Sesia; 39-0163/832-373) also sells cashmere pieces, such as cablestitch cardigans. For colorful Italian linen shirts and dresses, head to La Dispensa (10 Piazza Municipio, San Felice del Benaco; 390365/557-023). ➤ DO Hop a motorboat taxi (Piazza Mario Motta, Orta San Giulio; 39-333/605-0288; motoscafi pubbliciorta.it; from €3.70 per person) to San Giulio Island and tour its ancient basilica. Don’t miss the Hermitage of Santa Caterina del Sasso Ballaro (5 Via Santa Caterina, Leggiuno Varese; 39-0332/647172), a 12th-century church perched on a rock 14 meters above the lake.


F

ringed by lemon groves, olive trees and vineyards, Garda is the balmiest of the lakes—and also the largest. Sailors and windsurfers come for its breezy waters, while foodies are drawn to the award-winning olive oils, and Bardolino and Valpolicella wines. On the eastern shore, a cluster of small villages—including San Felice del Benaco and Gargnano—have glorious Roman ruins, villa museums and a clutch of upscale hotels, including historic Villa Feltrinelli. »

The outdoor restaurant at Villa Arcadio, in Salò. Bottom, clockwise from top left: Villa Arcadio; a waitress at the villa’s bar; the tearoom at Locanda San Verolo; Santa Maria Annunziata church, in Salò.

b ot to m r i g h t: Lo c a n da Sa n V e r o lo

LAKE garda travelandleisureasia.com | may 2011 131


The lakes’ main attractions remain the simple pleasures that travelers have appreciated since the days of the Grand Tour

A view of Tremezzo, on Como’s western shore.


➤ STAY The mansion of an aristocratic family in the 19th century (and, during World War II, Benito Mussolini), Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli (38-40 Via Rimembranza, Gargnano; 39-0365/798-000; villafeltrinelli. com; doubles from €865) resembles a private country manor. Its 21 suites pay homage to the Feltrinellis, with more than a thousand of their paintings and antiques on display. Also on site: a 500label wine cellar and restaurant, a 16meter wood-paneled yacht for trips along the lake, and a three-hectare Italian garden overlooking the water. Cutting-edge design meets monastic austerity at the newly opened Villa Arcadio Hotel & Resort (2 Via Palazzina, Salò; 39-0365/42281; hotelvillaarcadio. it; doubles from €200), housed in a 13thcentury former convent. White wood­en rafters, stone walls and contemporary artwork make up the interiors, but even more appealing is the hotel’s jasminecovered outdoor terrace, which looks out on Garda’s palm-studded shores. A beige-stone country farmhouse six kilometers from Garda, Locanda San Verolo (Loc. San Verolo, Costermano; 39045/720-0930; sanverolo.it; doubles from €188) has 13 airy rooms with oak wardrobes and equestrian prints. In the low-lit restaurant try the artichoke-filled ravioli, paired with San Verolo Prosecco from the neighboring vineyard. ➤ EAT The seven tables at the Michelin-starred La Tortuga (5 Via XXIV Maggio, Gargnano; 39-0365/71251; din­ner for two €137) are among the most sought after in the region, thanks to chef Maria Filippini’s decep­tively simple dishes such as crisp perch tossed in yellow corn flour. Don’t ex­pect a fussy affair—the plaster-walled dining room is intimate and low-key. Locals gather for Sunday brunch at Ristorante Taverna Kus (14 Contrada Castello, San Zeno di Montagna; 39-045/ 728-5667; dinner for two €67), a hilltop tavern set in a lush garden. On the menu: fresh ribbon pasta with goose ragù or, in sea­son, the creamy chestnut soup. For the best view of snowcapped Mount Baldo, head to Ristorante

Osvaldo (5 Piazzale Marinai d’Italia, San Felice del Benaco; 39-0365/62108; dinner for two €115)—the most atmo­spheric way to reach the restaurant is by boat from Sirmione. You won’t go wrong with the freshly caught and barbecued lake fish, served beneath shady linden trees.

most confectioner. Best buys: can­died orange peel dipped in bitter dark chocolate and hazelnut torte. Comincioli (10 Via Roma, Puegnago del Garda; 39-0365/651-141) produces the region’s only olive oil made from pulp; it has notes of al­monds and artichoke.

➤ SHOP Countess Maria Cristina Rizzardi per­ sonally oversees the wine production at her 550-year-old estate Guerrieri Rizzardi Azienda Agricola (4 Via Verdi, Bardolindo; 39-045/721-0028; tours by appointment). In summer, tast­ings of Bardolino, a dry red, and Chiaretto, a light pink rosé, are held in the kitchen garden of the lakeside family villa. Dessert aficionados won’t want to miss Vassalli Pasticcerie (84/86 Via S. Carlo, Salò; 39-0365/20752), Salò’s fore-

➤ DO Swing by Il Vittoriale degli Italiani (12 Via Vittoriale, Gardone Riviera; 39-0365/ 296-511), the former mansion of Italian poet and eccentric Gabriele D’Annunzio. The museum is filled with his journals and belongings, untouched since his death in 1938. Spend an afternoon hiking the grounds of Villa Borghese Cavazza, a Venetian neo-Gothic-style villa on Isola del Garda (Lake Garda; 39-0365/62294; isoladel garda.com). ✚

GETTING AROUND By Car If you’re planning to lake-hop, consider renting a car at Milan Malpensa Airport. Or arrange to lease a vintage vehicle from Slow Drive (108 Via Marconi, Padenghe sul Garda; 39-338/978-5124; slowdrive.com; rentals from €240 a day). The lakes are within a three-hour drive of one another, from Orta in the west,

past Maggiore, Lugano and Como to Garda in the east. By Boat Or focus on one lake and travel by boat. An efficient ferry service runs along the shores of the major lakes (navigazionelaghi.it), while Orta has motorboat taxis (motoscafipubbliciorta.it).

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Lake Lugano

Lake Iseo

Lake Garda

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Lake Como

Lake Maggiore

Lake Orta

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Verona Ven eto

25 km

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hélène grimaud’s

favorite place

The Berliner Philharmonic concert hall, designed by Hans Scharoun. Below: Hélène Grimaud.

local tips

“My first concert performance in Berlin was 15 years ago—I have to pinch myself to believe it has been 15 years—and I performed Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with the Berliner Philharmoniker in the iconic concert hall. Claudio Abbado was conducting. Since then I’ve had a sentimental connection to the city. If you have a good first experience in a place, it tends to repeat itself, and somehow that belief has always been confirmed for me in Berlin. It’s very much an adoptive hometown and creative retreat, not just for me and other musicians but also for painters, sculptors and architects. “A great hall has its own identity, and the asymmetrical Berliner Philharmonie, on the edge of the Tiergarten, is like no other concert hall I know. It’s a masterpiece, designed by German architect Hans Scharoun in the 1960’s. There is a sense of vastness in a venue that accommodates more than two thousand people. But at the same time there is a true sense of intimacy with the audience when I sit down to perform. “Acoustics are tremendously important. Every note I play is borne out of the previous one—so what happens to sound in a space actually creates the music itself. In a concert there is a physicality to the sound, and at the Philharmonie it surrounds you. I have returned many times. When I play there, the music goes right through the core of my being.”—da ni shapiro French pianist Hélène Grimaud’s new album, Résonances, is available now on iTunes. She is also cofounder of the Wolf Conservation Center (nywolf.org), in South Salem, New York.

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Gallery Scene “The Galerie Mehdi Chouakri (117 Invalidenstrasse; 49-30/2839-1153; mehdi-chouakri.com) is a spectacular place to see avant-garde works by emerging artists.” top shop “Local artist Hinrich Kröger sells ceramic plates and wall hangings at his charming workshop, Atelier Hinrich Kröger (13 Gipsstrasse; 4930/282-2729; galeriehinrich-kroeger.de), in the Mitte district.” Pre-Theater Bistro “Restaurant Borchardt (47 Französische Str.; 49-30/8188-6262; dinner for two €105) is the place for a Wiener schnitzel before heading to a show at the Berliner Philharmonie.”

FROM TOP : © BORGE S E M a u r i z i o / a f p / g e t t y. c o m ; © MIC H AE L L AT Z / a f p / g e t t y. c o m

Berlin Philharmonic

music central “The Grand Hyatt Berlin (2 MarleneDietrich-Platz; 4930/2553-1234; grand. hyatt.com; doubles from €250) has a wonderful spa overlooking the 200-hectare Tiergarten. And it’s just a fiveminute walk to the Berliner Philharmonie (1 Herbert-vonKarajan Str.; 49-30/25488-999; berlinerphilharmoniker.de)!”



May 2011