UNDER THE ASIAN SUN
sizzling Getaways to lounge away the day (or Week)
booK a beach VIlla and saVe
Wired for Sand
Go ahead, flaunt those beach apps
a set of secluded islands lost in time
Singapore S$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
WHY ARE ASIA’S AIRPORTS SO gOOD?
contents july 2012 volume 06 : issue 07
features 98 8 Ultimate islands This year, T+L casts a wide net in our never-ending quest for lush landscapes and sybaritic seclusion. The timing is right for these tropical wonderlands, so kick off your flip-flops and sink your toes into the sand.
108 secret slovenia In the heart of Europe is a land of mountains and lakes, castles and vineyards, quiet hotels and Mediterranean beachs—all still, somehow, undiscovered and unknown. by scott spencer. photographed by christian kerber. guide and map 115 116 insider’s GUide to the hamptons Pack your bags: this is New York’s most pedigreed summer getaway, like only locals know it. laura begley bloom opens her little black book. photographed by theo morrison. guide 124-125
Kelor island on the Flores sea.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 9
july 2012 volume 06 : issue 07
T+L SOUTHEAST ASIA ASIA’S ULTIMATE ISLANDS / BEACH APPS / CAMBODIA / TUSCANY / ASIA’S BEST AIRPORTS / BEACH VILLAS / PHAN THIET
UNDER THE ASIAN SUN
sizzling Getaways to lounge away the day (or Week)
booK a beach VIlla and saVe
Wired for Sand
Go ahead, flaunt those beach apps
JULY 2 012
a set of secluded islands lost in time
Singapore S$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
WHY ARE ASIA’S AIRPORTS SO gOOD?
07COVER Beaches + IslandsCKJUv2.indd 1
On the cOver
two lounge chairs and a great tropical view await at the viceroy in the maldives. Photographed by christian Horan.
insider 35 see it In Singapore, towering man-made trees light up Marina Bay Sands. by jennifer chen 38 eat Homestyle cooking in Southeast Asia means very local, must-try delicacies. 40 trends There’s a growing pool of mobile apps designed to make lying around and doing nothing feel easy. by merritt gurley
42 First look A look at the best ways to enjoy the sun, sand and surf in Phan Thiet, Vietnam. by karryn miller
10 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
44 Where to Go In the Maldives, a biosphere reserve now has the backing of several top-end resorts. Dive in and find out why. by christopher kucway
f r o m to p : st e v e h e r m a n n ; au st I n b u s h ; co u rt e sy s c u b a zo o ; co u rt e sy o f c a n o n
29 An explosive Hong Kong restaurant opens, tropical ales on tap in Singapore, special spa oils in Bali and more.
july 2012 volume 06 : issue 07
50 cityscape Buenos Aires is thriving thanks to avant-garde museums, sophisticated new hotels and creative restaurants. by colin barraclough
stylish traveler 63 icons Channel your inner style icon with a pair of classic frames. styled by jessie bandy. fashion direction by mimi lombardo 64 spotliGht Julian Tan, coowner of the Tanjong Beach Club, on where to go and what to wear in stylish Singapore. by mark lean
untouched until now, Richard Hermes discovers a place where the slow boat of history is about to speed up. photographed by austin bush 88 drive denis d. gray traces the slow route to Hua Hin to get even farther from the bustle of the big city. photographed by athit perawongmetha 93 GetaWay In a quiet corner of Italy, valerie waterhouse unearths a region and its hidden gems. photographed by anders overgaard
66 BeaUty This summer, put your best face forward with these allservice suncreens. 68 cUltUre Three reasons we’ll be seeing spots this summer, courtesy of 83-year-old artist Yayoi Kusama. by jennifer miranda
journal 81 islands In a cluster of Cambodian islands virtually 12 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
departments 14 in this issUe 16 editor’s note 20 contriBUtors 22 mail 26 Best deals 28 ask t+l 70 strateGies 76 smart traveler 1 26 last look
c L o c k w I s e f r o m to p L e f t: c o u r t e s y o f t h e fa e n a g r o u p ; c h a n o k t h a m m a r a k k I t; a u s t I n b u s h
48 GadGets Water was once the natural enemy of all electronics— but new technology has ended the battle. by merritt gurley
in this issue
hamptons 116 tuscany 93
cambodia 36, 81
hua hin 88
Buenos aires 50
DeStInAtIOnS timor-leste 98 togean islands, indonesia 98 ASIA Beijing 70 macau 126 nagoya 70 shanghai 28, 70 tokyo 70 AuStrAlIA, new ZeAlAnD AnD the pAcIfIc Kadavu, Fiji 98 melbourne 70
Beaches + islands
42, 44, 81, 88, 98, 116
35, 50, 126
63, 64, 68
28, 29, 30, 31, 36
Hotels + resorts
26, 44, 81
eurOpe slovenia 108 tuscany 93 the AmerIcAS Buenos aires 50 the Hamptons 116
some say that the planning and architecture of ljubljana’s old city center by jože Plečnik (1872– 1957) is one of the most important large-scale works of art of the 20th century. locally-based roundabout (travel-slovenia.com) offers affordable daily tours of the capital, as does the ljubljana tourist information center (www.visitljubljana.si). (For more on slovenia, see page 108).
14 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
©chrIstIan kerber (3)
SOutheASt ASIA Bali 26, 31, 76 Bangkok 31, 70 Boracay 26 Cambodia 36, 81 Flores, Philippines 98 Gili air, indonesia 98 Hua Hin 88 Hong Kong 26, 29, 70 Koh Phangan 98 Koh samui 36 Kuala lumpur 26, 70 luzon, Philippines 36 malaysia 26, 28 maldives 26, 44 mui ne, vietnam 36 Penang 36 Phan thiet, vietnam 42 Phu Quoc, vietnam 98 Phuket 26, 76 seoul 70 siargao, Philippines 98 singapore 30, 35, 64, 70 sri lanka 76 thailand 28
editor’s note Where to Find me )) email@example.com )) @CKucway on Twitter
On Our rADAr
Shanghai isn’t the first place that springs to mind when pondering Asia’s many beaches and islands, but it’s wh ere I find myself as we put this issue to bed. I’m in town for a luxury travel conference (see “Travel Habits” in the sidebar), an appropriate locale given that the city is constantly on the move to the next best thing, its skyline and streets changing almost as quickly as the weather. Yet this month is dedicated to beaches and islands, those getaways we all love. We take a look at some that you’ve likely visited but need to see in a different light (“8 Ultimate Islands,” page 98). We’ve also included some locales you may not have heard of, let alone been to, so now’s your chance, though I’ll be the first to admit we cheated and went slightly beyond the bounds of Asia. After the dust had settled when it came to choosing what to include in the issue, it was all hands on deck with features editor Merritt Gurley sorting out the go-to sun blocks we need (“Rock the Block,” page 66) and—her love of modern technology coming through loud and clear—an illuminating, sometimes comical look at the mobile phone apps you’ll
want to experiment with on your next beach break (“Seaside Software,” page 40). Both are the type of practical stories we aim to include more often in upcoming issues. Well-traveled features editor Richard Hermes returned from Cambodia stunned by the remote islands off its southern coast (“In Search of Lost Time,” page 81), the kind of places he was convinced didn’t exist anymore. For my part, I’ve been intrigued by Asia’s airports for years now and have always wondered why so many of them top the global rankings in almost every area. It’s a question I’ve tried to answer (“Top of the Charts,” page 70), though I know every reader will have his or her own opinion on the matter. Just as interesting in the same section is a look at what the future holds for these gateways. As for Shanghai, we’ll have more about that metropolis later this year. For now, my only advice is to head to your favorite beach or island, far from any airport or city, and chill.—c h r i s t o p h e r ku c way
travel haBits so how do you know if you rate as an affluent traveler? looking a step beyond a hefty bank account or two, you’re someone who values experiences above status; you’re environmentally sensitive and culturally aware; and social media figures in your travel choices. those were the findings at the international luxury travel market asia that took place in shanghai, in 2012, an upmarket city if there ever was one. old is neW in oz come september in sydney, two historic buildings—Gowings department store and the heritagelisted state theatre—will reopen as the Qt sydney, a 200-room hotel. Part of the design Hotels group, the city-center property will combine original stone cladding and timber floors with mod furnishings in royal blue, magenta and yellow.
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.
16 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
editor-in-CHieF art direCtor Features editors senior desiGner desiGner assistant editorâ€”diGital
christopher kucway James nvathorn unkong richard hermes merritt gurley wannapha nawayon chotika sopitarchasak wasinee chantakorn
reGular ContriButors / PHotoGraPHers cedric arnold, Jennifer chen, robyn eckhardt, tom hoops, philipp engelhorn, David hagerman, Lauryn Ishak, naomi Lindt, Jen Lin-Liu, brent madison, nat prakobsantisuk, aaron Joel santos, adam skolnick, Darren soh, Daven wu
CHairman President PuBlisHinG direCtor
PuBlisHer diGital media manaGer Business develoPment manaGers
Consultant, HonG KonG/maCau Consultant, australia/new Zealand CHieF FinanCial oFFiCer ProduCtion manaGer ProduCtion GrouP CirCulation manaGer CirCulation assistant
J.s. uberoi egasith chotpakditrakul rasina uberoi-bajaj
robert fernhout pichayanee kitsanayothin michael k. hirsch Joey kukielka Louisa Daly shea stanley stuart singleton gaurav kumar kanda thanakornwongskul supalak krewsasaen porames sirivejabandhu 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. 6, issue 7 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 2 368-2942â€“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.
suBsCriPtions subscription enquiries: www.travelandleisuresea.com/subscribe advertisinG advertising enquiries: e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
denis gray writer
theo morrison photographer
assiGnment “sea by the city” (page 88). Why drive in thailand i love thai gas stations—they offer everything from excellent espressos to showers. Favorite road trip Highway 1 down the u.s. Pacific coast—a dramatic coastline and towering redwoods. most memoraBle the road to Baghdad with u.s. troops during the iraq War. i’ve forgotten many hotels i’ve stayed in but never the nights sleeping on desert sands under a radiant sky—and checking for scorpions in my boots the next morning. postcard moment on the GUlF an evening jog along dolphin Bay near sam roi yot. offshore islands. cool breeze. only a lone fisherman and boys playing football on the beach with me. life doesn’t get better than that.
assiGnment “insider’s Guide to the Hamptons” (page 116). hamptons location oF choice shelter island. it reminded me of Bainbridge island, Washington, where i grew up—easygoing, approachable and just removed from the chaos. yoUr perFect niGht oUt involves... dinner at the crow’s nest, in montauk, followed by some nightlife at surf lodge. World’s Best Beach nicaragua’s Pacific coast, north of san juan del sur. When i visited, it was still empty and had amazing waves. most memoraBle shot i strapped myself into the back of an open suv to shoot a vintage mercedes driving down napeague meadow road. travel essential an assistant i can spend 14 hours a day with.
assiGnment “sea by the city” (page 88). the First time i Went to hUa hin... i was 16. i traveled by bus with some friends. there was only a small road leading to the beach, and no night market at that time. Favorite street Food there’s an isaan place that opens at 5 p.m. near tmB bank that does great som tam with fresh, raw crab. local challenGe i’m thai, and it still took me three hours to find Wat Ko Keo suttharam. But i found it the oldfashioned way, asking locals, and getting lost was part of the fun.
20 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
laura begley bloom writer christian kerber photographer assiGnment “secret slovenia” (page 108). Behind yoUr Favorite slovenia stopover lake Bled, with a church on an island in its middle, looks quite unreal and reminds me of czech fairy-tale films i watched in my childhood. memoraBle mistake after a great dinner at Hotel Kendov dvorec, we sat with the chef in the kitchen chatting and drinking slivovitz, a local brandy. the next day, i had to depart for venice at 8 a.m. lastinG impressions slovenia is one of the most underappreciated countries in the world.
assiGnment “insider’s Guide to the Hamptons” (page 116). GUilty pleasUre driving along the billionaire rows in the Hamptons (east Hampton’s lily Pond lane; Gin lane, in southampton) and ogling the sprawling mansions. standoUt meal i was blown away by dish, a tiny, 20-seat restaurant in Water mill run by a husband-and-wife team who source primarily from local farm stands. hoW to Blend in stick around the day after labor day, which true locals (not the weekenders or vacationers) refer to as tumbleweed tuesday. What not to Wear Plan on bringing warm clothes any time of year: it can get chilly at night. and no heels on the beach! visit iF yoU love... the three s’s: sun, surf and socializing.
t o p, f r o m L e f t : c o u r t e s y o F D e n I s g r ay ; c o u r t e s y o F at h I t p e r aw o n g m e t h a ; t h e r e s a a n D r e a ; w h I t n e y L aw s o n ; p at r I c k r u n t e ; b ot to m , f r o m L e f t : © at h I t p e r aw o n g m e t h a ( 2 ) ; © c h r I s t I a n k e r b e r ( 2 ) ; © t h e o m o r r I s o n
letter oF the month the InvIncIBleS
As part of a French-speaking but very vincible family, I laughed when I read Wesley Hsu’s article [“Whose Trip is it Anyway?” May 2012] on traveling with kids. I wondered, though, how much of his advice was truly universal. It seems to me that every family is different and each has its own idiosyncracies. We
have two sons, and while the oldest is indeed attached to his routine, the younger one finds nothing more exhilarating than being told that he will have to sleep in a different bed, in a different city, because we’re traveling. Spending all night on a plane? Almost too much excitement to bear! —Amon Séverin, Siem Reap
It was great to see an entire article devoted to oolong tea [“The Traveler’s Guide To Tea,” May 2012]. Around the point in my life when I decided that I was bored with beer, my brother in Arizona introduced me to one of his favorite rituals: Saturday afternoon tea, Chinese style. Despite the fact that I was the one living in Asia, I’d never partaken in a proper tea-drinking session before, complete with the rinsing and pouring and frequent re-steeping. Now that I have my own Chinese tea set and selection of specialty teas, I use it as a way to spend one-on-one quality time with friends. And yes, by the end it’s just as Bruce Schoenfeld describes it in his story—
we’re clear-headed and intoxicated at the same time. —Johann Wägner, Cha-Am tASte Of BruneI
I enjoyed Richard Hermes’s “Brunei’s Backyard,” [May 2012] but I noticed that he didn’t mention anything about food. Is this because ambuyat wins the award for world’s blandest substance? —Frank Wang, Kuching eDItOr’S reply: Let’s be fair to
Brunei’s signature dish: judging ambuyat without its delicious accompaniments is like eating tortillas without salsa, or rice with no curry. It’s a delivery mechanism— albeit, we admit, a very gooey one.
e-mAIl t+l send your letters to email@example.com and let us know your thoughts on recent stories or new places to visit. Letters chosen may be edited for clarity and space. the letter of the month receives a free one-year subscription to Travel + Leisure (southeast asia only). reader opinions expressed in letters do not necessarily reflect those of Travel + Leisure southeast asia, media transasia Ltd., or american express publishing.
budget-friendly tips for your travel planning
affordable asian trips dEaL OF THE MOnTH s n a p i t
Centara Grand west sands resort and villas. Phuket, thailand
hOnG KOnG Suite Rendezvous package at J PLUS BOUTIQUE HOTEL (852/3196-9000; jplushongkong.com). WHaT’S IncLUdEd A stay
in a Philippe Starck designer suite; a dinner for two; chauffeured Mercedes round-trip transfer from anywhere in Hong Kong; a bottle of wine; 20 percent discount at beauty boutique 10/10 SPACE. cOST HK$4,888 per night, double, twonight minimum, through August 31. SavIngS More than 40 percent. mAlDIveS Forever Summer package at the vIcEROY MaLdIvES (960/654-5000; viceroyhotelsandresorts.com). WHaT’S IncLUdEd A two-night stay in a villa; breakfast and dinner for two. cOST from
US$675 per night, double, two-night minimum, through September 30. SavIngS 50 percent. mAlAySIA Dragon’s Weekend package at THE RITZ-caRLTOn KUaLa LUMPUR (60-3/ 2142-8000; ritzcarlton.com). WHaT’S IncLUdEd A two-night stay in a Deluxe
room; breakfast for two in César’s; afternoon tea for two (available on Saturdays only); a set dinner in Li Yen; 24-hour butler service. cOST Starting from RM1,388 per night, double, weekends only, through December 31. SavIngS 57 percent. 26 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
Conrad Bali, indonesia.
BY ThE SEA
phIlIppIneS Five for Four package at the aRgOnaUTa BaY BOUTIQUE HOTEL (63-36/288-2746; argonauta-boracay.com) WHaT’S IncLUdEd A five-night stay for the price of four; complimentary daily à la carte breakfast; shuttle service to White Beach. cOST from US$165 per night, double. SavIngS Up to 20 percent. thAIlAnD Web Saver package at cEnTaRa gRand WEST SandS RESORT and vILLaS PHUKET
(66-2/101-1234; centarahotelsresorts.com) WHaT’S IncLUdEd A night in a penthouse three-bedroom Pool suite and complimentary breakfast. cOST Bt7,750 per night, double, through October 31. SavIngS 74 percent. InDOneSIA Family package at cOnRad BaLI (62-361/778-788; conradbali.com). WHaT’S IncLUdEd A one-night stay for two
adults and two children below 12; daily buffet breakfast at Suku; full day access to Kura Kura Club for Kids; free meals for kids dining with parents; return airport transfers; welcome amenities for children; one day “Rhino” pass for two adults and two children to Bali Safari & Marine Park with return transfer. cOST Starting from US$278 per night, two adults and two kids, four-night minimum, through March 31. SavIngS Up to 27 percent.
MaLaYSIa Introductory Offer package at the recently opened FOUR POInTS BY SHERaTOn SandaKan (60-89/244888; fourpoints.com/ Sandakan) WHaT’S IncLUdEd A stay in a Deluxe room; buffet breakfast for two; in-room Wi-Fi; late check out until 4 p.m. cOST Starting at RM208 per night, double, until December 31. SavIngS 47 percent.
Four Points by sheraton sandakan, malaysia.
c L o c k w I s e f r o m to p L e f t : c o u r t e s y o f v I c e r oy m a L D I v e s ; c o u r t e s y o f c e n ta r a g r a n D ; courtesy of conraD baLI; courtesy of four poInts
askt+l tea time at the Portman ritz-Carlton shanghai with a cup of Peach Garden.
Kayaking is a great way to see wildlife.
a great hornbill spotted in thailand.
Can you suggest a good place for tea or cocktails in shanghai? —La thĮ Xuân nhon, hanoI you can combine both at the portman ritz-carlton (1376 Nanjing Xi Lu; 86-21/6279-8888; ritzcarlton.com; drinks RMB98), which has introduced six new cocktails that incorporate tea into the menu for its afternoon “champagne High tea,” served in the lobby lounge. if you’ve
Q: What are the Best places to see hornBills in the Wild in asia? —aureLIo senerchIa, hong kong A: paddle asia runs wildlife-spotting kayaking tours in southern Thailand’s Khao Sok National Park (two-day package tours from US$285, including accommodation), where they regularly see bushy-crested, helmeted, wreathed, oriental-pied, southern pied and great hornbills. thailand Bird Watching’s Explore Hornbill package (66-82/272-1127; thailandbirdwatching. com; packages from Bt9,000 per person per day) covers Khao Yai National Park. Sumatra and Borneo have some of the highest numbers of species in the
region, and Peninsular Malaysia presents great opportunities too. In addition to Sabah, Sarawak and Langkawi island, endemic Guides (60-3/5512-3012; endemicguides.com; day tours from US$230) offer birding tours to the krau Wildlife reserve in the Titiwangsa Mountains in the Malaysian state of Pahang. South Africa–based Rockjumper covers Sulawesi and Halmahera, Indonesia in a comprehensive 18-day tour (27/33394-0225; rockjumperbirding.com). What’s yoUr travel qUestion?
» e-mail us at
» post queries at
» follow us on twitter at
@travleisureasia (Questions may be edited for clarity and space.)
c l o c K W i s e F r o m t o P l e F t : c o u r t e s y o F t H e P o r t m a n r i t z - c a r lt o n s H a n G H a i ; © e r i n Pac K a r d P H oto G r a P H y / d r e a m s t i m e .c o m ; © a n e Ko H o / d r e a m s t i m e .c o m
never heard of a lapsang souchong-infused negroni, you’ll want to stop by the hotel come sundown. aside from souchong tea, it includes sweet vermouth, campari and gin. there’s also Peach Garden, with lillet Blanc, peach tea bitters and Prosecco; or violet, a combination of lemongrass tea and cointreau. it definitely puts a boozy twist on tea and crumpets that you won’t soon forget, provided you don’t sample every one of the offerings.
newsflash your global guide to what’s happening right now...
AMMO FIRES UP
courtesy of ammo
This new Hong Kong eatery is putting lock, stock and barrel into its grand opening. b y c h r i s t o p h e r d e w o l f
dYnaMITE dInIng Clockwise from top: The long bar at AMMO; designer Joyce Wang; booth dining at AMMO; the restaurant’s refreshing Kiwi Basil Martini; slow-cooked egg with Toro.
Ammo knows how to make a memorable first impression. First, there’s the location inside the new Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, a gorgeous museum complex perched on the side of a thickly forested mountain slope, just above a cascading waterfall. Then there’s ammo’s steampunk design by Joyce Wang, which reflects the site’s previous life as a British explosives magazine in its heavy use of bullet-inspired brass and three sculptural staircases that hang from the six-meter ceiling. It all works surprisingly well with the large windows looking out onto the surrounding forest, which, incidentally, is inhabited by a rare colony of fruit bats. Just as intriguing is the menu devised by owner-chef Tony Cheng and chef Roland Schuller, best known for their Michelinstarred restaurant The Drawing Room. Mediterranean with an Asian twist is the best way to describe it, with tapas like oxtail meatballs, cuttlefish cappuccino and langoustine wrapped in Vietnamese rice paper. Main courses include house-made pasta and secondi piatti like slow-cooked egg with toro, sea urchin and zucchini sauce. There’s also a long and inventive list of cocktails like the Kiwi Basil Martini. Asia Society Hong Kong Centre, 9 Justice Drive, Admiralty, Hong Kong; 852/2537-9888. travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 29
newsflash cHEERS BEERS From left: Jungle Beer owner Aditya Challa; a trilogy of Jungle Beer tropical ales.
A boutique brewery is putting a new spin on an old classic, crafting tropical ales full of fruity flavor. b y b e n k e e n e it happened slowly and quietly, but the result is undeniable: singapore has become a magnet for beer connoisseurs. since the mid 1990’s, small brewers here have attracted customers with fresh ales and lagers, and at this year’s annual BeerFest asia, more than 30,000 people turned up at the marina Promenade for the chance to taste varieties from around the world. the latest business to join the fold is Jungle Beer (junglebeer.com), a company that’s already pushing the brewing envelope by offering “tropical wheat”
ales like mango/orange and pink guava/soursop, along with a hoppy american-style india Pale ale or iPa. more recently, they produced a limited release beer with habanero chiles for a local taqueria. director and Brewer aditya challa learned his craft in scotland, and says he considered a few other places in asia before deciding that the evolved singaporean palate was the best fit. “We see great potential in introducing them [singaporeans] to beers with character.”
Foodies, prepare to feast. This July 13-31, Marina Bay Sands will be buzzing with chefs across the region flexing their culinary muscles at the singapore Food Festival. Fresh seafood, local specialties, cultural performances and cooking demonstrations from gastro-gurus will be on display daily. Ever wanted to see 2,012 curried fish heads? Little India will be dishing them up in a bid for the Guinness World Records title for most fish heads served at a single dinner setting. And if you are feeling ambitious, you can attempt to set your own personal record for most seafood gobbled down in a single day. The Waterfront Promenade at Marina Bay Sands Singapore; singaporefoodfestival.com. 30 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
SEaFOOd SMORgaSBORd Clockwise from left: The funky Singapore Food Festival 2012 flyer; waterfront view from Tiffin Cruise; satay anyone?; fresh crabs at Jurong Fishery Port.
to p : co u rt e sy o f J u n g L e b e e r ( 2 ) ; b o t t o m : c o u r t e s y o f s I n g a p o r e f o o D f e s t I va L ( 4 )
ISaan FLavOR Clockwise from left. Ingredients ready for mixing at the som tam bar; lunch at Somtum Der; grilled pork with spicy sauce; classic Isaan som tam.
The pungent flavors of Northern Thai cuisine are rolling into the country’s capital with the recent opening of somtum der. Owner Thanaruek Laoraowirodge, known to his friends has Eh, is on a mission to share the authentic local cuisine from his hometown of Sakhon Nakorn in Isaan, with Bangkok’s many city-dwellers. “I want to bring the real taste of som tam from my region,” he explains. Eh argues that the som tam, a traditional Thai green papaya salad, in Bangkok is too sweet, and is lacking in the key ingredient for success— plaa ra, a fermented fish sauce made by pickling a variety of fish. “The further South you get, the sweeter the som tam tastes,” laments Eh. There are 20 different kinds of som tam on offer at Somtum Der, prepared fresh at the bar in the center of the small restaurant. The bartender pounds the ingredients in a traditional Thai mortar and the bar is lined in jars brimming with aromatic ingredients, from marinated mussels to fresh chilies. So whether you like your som tam fishy, tart, sweet, super spicy or some mix therein, at Somtum Der there’s a som tam for everyone. Somtum Der; 5/5 Saladaeng Rd., Silom; 66-2/632-4499; Som tam from Bt55.—m er r it t g u r ley
to p : wa s I n e e c h a n ta k o r n ( 4 ) ; b o t t o m : c o u r t e s y o f aya n a r e s o r t s & s p a b a L I ( 2 )
A look at the latest trend wafting through the spas of Southeast Asia. b y m e l a n i e l e e spas are offering increasingly customized treatments to create that unforgettable experience— from spa mixologists hand blending personalized scrubs to take-home massage oils. meanwhile, the thermes marins spa in ayana resort, Bali (62361/702-222; ayanaresort.com) has partnered with l’atelier Parfums & creations studio to offer a two-hour l’atelier perfume spa package (Rp1,750,000), the first of its kind in indonesia. customers first attend a 45-minute perfume-making workshop where they take a personality test to find out their fragrance profile, and concoct their favorite smell from over 45 different essences, fragrances and raw materials such as
frangipani, clove, vanilla and kopi luwak (civet droppings). this is followed by a 75-minute aromatic body massage where they get rubbed down in their bespoke fragrances that are blended with base oil. spa director michi sonoda says there are 30 booking queries for this package each month, and it is popular with newlywed couples and children who enjoy coming up with fun scents such as bubblegum. “after the treatment, our customers also get their personal fragrance bottled as perfume to take home. many of them are delighted by this and order extra bottles of their own perfume to give to their loved ones back home,” she says.
Spritzing with a customized perfume blended by L’Atelier, top. Below: Relaxing with a backrub at Thermes Marins.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 31
destinations trends restaurants + more
SINGAPORE’S MAGIC GARDEN. towerIng man-maDe trees LIght up marIna bay. By JenniFer chen
o, this isn’t a backdrop from Avatar. These so-called Supertrees are the centerpieces of the first phase of Gardens by the Bay (gardensbythebay.org.sg), the city’s S$1 billion, 102-hectare waterfront park. The “trunks” of the 18 soaring trellises (which reach up to 50 meters) will be dripping with Brazilian bromeliads, orchids from Ecuador and other exotic flora. More highlights: 10 themed gardens, two glass-enclosed biomes and an aerial walkway from which to take it all in. ✚
Photographed by Morgan & Owens
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 35
ISlAnD eAtS Clockwise from left:
Beachside dining at ngoc suong; slipper lobster at ngoc suong; gulia tumis with stingray from teksen.
COASTAl CUISINE. homestyLe cookIng In
muI ne, vIetnAm DISh: Sweet-tAIleD SlIpper lOBSter reStAurAnt: nGOc SuOnG
According to the folks at ngoc suong (94 Nguyen Dinh Chieu, Mui Ne; 84-62/384-7515; ngocsuong.com.vn/vietnamese/ muine.html; price varies by season), whose pretty seaside outlet in Mui Ne classes up the main strip of this kitesurfing mecca, the best path for fresh, stress-free fish isn’t necessarily direct from boat to truck to table. Upon delivery, their seafood is separated by species and unfed for 12 to 24 hours before being served, ensuring that the tanks from which you pick your dinner are clean and waste-free, and that the animals stay relaxed—and tender—en route to the kitchen. This family-run brand, founded in 1955, also has restaurants near the shore in Nha Trang and in other beach towns, as well as in Saigon. Just look for their signature, completely incongruous windmill. To souse in your muoi tieu chanh ot, the classic Vietnamese salt-pepperchili-lime sauce, get the sweet-tailed slipper lobster and the sun-dried cuttle fish. Both are caught by boats you can see right from your beachfront table trolling Mui Ne’s coast.—jennine lee st. john 36 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
penAnG, mAlAySIA DISh: Gulai Tumis reStAurAnt: teK Sen
Thanks to the island’s proximity to Thailand, Penang’s Nyonya cuisine—the culinary descendent of centuries-ago marriages between male Chinese traders and local women— features dishes both spicier and more sour than its cousins in Malacca and Singapore. A prized island specialty is gulai tumis (also known as assam, or sour fish), a hot and sour soup-stew based on a curry paste made with dried chilies, lemongrass, turmeric, garlic and shallots and pungent shrimp paste. The combination packs a delightful punch. This regional favorite is served at popular tek sen (18-20 Carnavon Street, George Town; 60-12/493-9424; RM20), a cheerful quarter century-old eatery in George Town. The restaurant specialises in wok-fried foods or chu char, which means “frying” in Chinese, though the entire menu is delectable. The Tek Sen version of gulia tumis includes whole lady fingers (okra), for an especially puckery bite. Order it with stingray—the fish’s mild white flesh, which slides off the bone with barely a nudge, is the perfect foil for the dish’s fiery broth.—robyn eckhardt
f r o m to p : c o u r t e s y o f n g o c s u o n g ( 2 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f t e k s e n r e s ta u r a n t
southeast asIa means very LocaL must-try DeLIcacIes. once you know where to go, you’LL be swImmIng In LocaL fLavor.
BeAch BIteS Clockwise from top left: Cruising Koh samui; outside Bang Po; saraay khor yam at Bang Po; Kampot pepper crab; sinigang at milky way Cafè.
The Thais have a well-deserved reputation for making clever culinary use of the items found right under their noses. On the Thai island of Koh Samui, locals need do little more than poke around in the clear shallow waters that surround them to find saraay khor, a type of edible seaweed. At Bang po seafood (Ao Bang Po, Koh Samui; 66-77/420010; around Bt80 per plate), a legendary seafood shack found on Koh Samui’s northern shore, saraay khor is cut into thin strands and served as a Thai salad, or ‘yam’, with shredded tart mango and cockles. The seaweed is pleasantly salty— the flavour countered by a spicy/sour dressing—but it’s the satisfying crunch that reminds the locals of their island home.—austin bush luZOn, the phIlIppIneS DISh: siniGanG reStAurAnt: mIlKy wAy cAfé
Believed to stimulate the appetite and induce a cooling effect in hot weather, sourness is a defining feature of the Filipino palate. And it’s best expressed in what many consider to be the national dish: sinigang, a beloved stew of meat or seafood and vegetables in a broth made tangy by the addition of a range of ingredients, from calamansi 38 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
KAmpOt, cAmBODIA DISh: crAB wIth KAmpOt pepper reStAurAnt: tA Ouv
The heat from the fresh peppercorns grown in the southern Cambodian province of Kampot—long home to the best black pepper in the world—isn’t an acid burn like that from a chili, but a bright, dry, fragrant, almost menthollike “cool heat.” Piled on a plate with one of the impossibly sweet blue crabs pulled from abundant local waters, it forms a flavor pairing that’s an embarrassment of regional riches. Kep’s Kimly restaurant may be a more locally well-known place to try the dish, but we had a memorable meal at ta ouv, a simple riverside shack in Kampot (next to the new bridge, no address; 855-12/820-832; crab for two US$9). Their crab in tamarind sauce is perhaps even more remarkable, with delicious bits of garlic and holy basil. Wash it all down with an Angkor beer, admire the piles of discarded shells and savor the beautiful mess.—richard hermes ✚
f r o m t o p : © a u s t I n b u s h ( 3 ) ; c o u r t e s y o f t h e m I L k way c a f e
KOh SAmuI, thAIlAnD DISh: saraay Khor reStAurAnt: BAnG pO
(a mandarin orange-and-lime cross) juice or vinegar to tomato or guava. For a sinigang to remember look no further than the Philippine capital of Manila on Luzon island, the country’s largest. milky Way café (2/F 900 Arnaiz— formerly Pasay—Road, Makati City; 63-2/843-7124; café. milkywayrestaurant.com; P395), the stylish present-day incarnation of a popular 1950’s dairy bar, draws locals with its sinigang na salmon, featuring a milky broth tarted with tamarind.—robyn eckhardt
SEASIDE SOFTwARE. there are so many thIngs to keep
track of, sometImes even a Day at the beach Isn’t reLaXIng. but there’s a growIng pooL of mobILe apps DesIgneD to make LyIng arounD anD DoIng nothIng feeL easy. By merritt GUrley
ItAnSmArt A little Vitamin D does the body good, but too much time in the sun is down right dangerous. itansmart (uvaid. com; free) uses satellite data to offer guidance on the level of SPF you should use based on your location and skin type. It sounds an alert when you should rotate, reapply sunscreen or seek shade, so you leave the beach tanned instead of toasted.
mAGIcSeAweeD If you aren’t sure where to park your beach towel, magicseaweed (magicseaweed. com; free) may have the answers you need. This app features surf, wind, swell, temperature and pressure forecasts for over 2,500 beaches across the globe, to help you prepare for the motion of the ocean.
tAnmeter Once you’ve cautiously tanned your way to an impressive sun-kissed hue, you can use tanmeter (tanmeter.com; US$0.99) to show it off. This app uses pictures of your tan line contrast to rate your tan on a scale of one to 10. You can compare your glow to your buddies’ to see whose shade makes the grade.
wAter yOur BODy A day at the beach can be draining. Water your Body (foware.com; lite version is free) helps you monitor your daily water consumption, set goals based on your level of activity and environment and reminds you when to rehydrate.
40 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
© i lya t e r e n t y e v / i s t o c K P H o t o . c o m
SImply BeAch Not sure which swimsuit will give you the most flattering tan lines? You can try a variety with simply Beach (simplybeach.com; free). This app offers a range of swimwear you can have delivered to your doorstep, anywhere in the world.
insider fIrst Look a kitesurferi set for liftoff.i
1 Get hIGh The sandy beach at Mui Ne, near Phan Thiet, is the launch pad for Southeast Asia’s kitesurfing enthusiasts. With steady onshore winds and Vietnam’s lowest rainfall, the fishing town offers some of the best kite and windsurfing in the region. Along the waterfront are dozens of watersport schools with an eclectic crew of teachers from around the world. Try KNS (84-128/601-3101; kite-n-surf.com; US$95 for a two-hour taster) for lessons with knowledgeable International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) certified instructors.
PhAN ThIET, FOUR wAYS.
at sea links Golf and Country Club.
karryn miller takes a Look at the best ways to enJoy the sun, sanD anD surf In vIetnam’s southern coastaL town of phan thIet
Four wheels andi some high dunes.i
3 BuG Out Cascading mountains of sand aren’t limited to the desert. Phan Thiet’s Saharan-like White Sand Dunes (a 45-minute drive from the city) feature peaks and troughs of powdery sand surrounding a deep blue lagoon. Four-wheeled dune buggies are available for rent at the entrance and visitors have free reign on the hills. If you’re after a perfect photo op, visit early before traffic destroys the artistic sand ripples. The dunes are in Hong Lam village, Hoa Thang Commune, Bac Binh District (62 kilometers from Phan Thiet).
42 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
2 hIt the lInKS The views at Vietnamese golf courses don’t disappoint. From Sea Links Golf and Country Club’s cliff-top tee box, golfers hit towards the South China Sea’s crisp blue waters. With its rolling landscape, this 18-hole links-style course not only has impressive views, but is also said to be one of Asia’s most challenging. Choose to play during Phan Thiet’s windiest seasons (May to November and December to April) and you’ll add even more excitement to the game (84-62/374-1741; golfthebeachvn.com/sea-links; US$75 weekday 18-hole green fee).
4 cOOK lIKe A lOcAl The honking scooters transporting the morning’s catch and locals scouring the produce stalls at Phan Thiet’s central market provide a starkly different experience than supermarket shopping in the West. Anantara Resort and Spa runs market tours as part of their cooking lessons, which include whipping up typical Vietnamese dishes such shop like the locals as shrimp spring rolls and banh chung at a morning market. (savory rice cakes). Head chef Alain Nguyen’s past makes for interesting discussion during each session. He trained under Alain Ducasse in Paris and has travelled all over Vietnam to learn more about his nation’s cuisine (84-62/374-1888; mui-ne.anantara.com; US$72 per person). ✚
insider where to go neXt
DIStAnt IDyll From the top: typical in the
maldives, a sweep of beach and clear waters; clown fish hide in a sea anemone; exploring a school of slender silversides.
44 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
n a land where US$35 breakfasts are the norm and, frankly, there’s not much above sea level, it’s easy to forget that some of the best sights in the Maldives are under the Indian Ocean. And there are few better spots in the island nation for snorkeling or diving than Baa Atoll, within the unesco World Biosphere Reserve Hanifaru Huraa. The area’s rich biodiversity prompted the designation in June 2010, specifically for Hanifaru Bay, one of the few places in the world where whale sharks congregate to mate. The Maldives is a place where the blue of the sky and the blue of the sea meet, though most of the activity is going on below the water’s surface. Yet it’s strange to sit in a place that could cease to exist in a generation or two if global warming plays out like so many predict it will. But this atoll is home to eight resorts, seven of which have signed an agreement to help protect the reserve. Each contributes US$20,000 a year and also works to preserve nearby
reefs. Newest to the group is the Dusit Thani Maldives, which is encircled by one of the best house reefs found in this sweep of an island nation. It’s here I find marine biologist Lauren Arthur who tells me that the reef has sprung back to life now that the resort’s construction has finished. On a good day, she says, snorkelers will encounter hawksbill turtles, eagle rays, guitar ray sharks, manta mobulas, octopus and lobsters just off the coral island. My own underwater exploits are limited to snorkeling, what I’d call a bit of fish spotting, but along this reef, that’s enough. A few meters deep, perfect for snorkeling, there are fish in colors that simply do not exist above the waves. Scores of needlefish, distinctive butterflyfish, schools of jacks, they all dart in and around the coral wall. A stone’s throw from shore, the reef drops off to 30 meters. Out on that open water, I spot a pair of eagle rays gliding through the depths. Yet my dips into the sea here are but a glimpse of what’s gone on under the waves. Off and on since 1990, Canadian marine biologist William Allison has studied the coral make up of the Maldives. “It’s kind of like a geology book with nine of 10 pages »
© aDam broaDbent / scubazoo.com
UNDER ThE ATOll.
In the maLDIves, a bIosphere reserve now has the backIng of severaL top-enD resorts that share the same aDDress. DIve In anD fInD out why. By christopher kUcWay
insider where to go neXt
UnderWater advice • never touch anything, both for your own safety and to protect the reef. • swim clear of the reef and remain in the streamline at all times.
missing,” he tells me one evening over a beer as the sun sets. “It has to be treated as a living community.” His latest visit was to study the effects of the resort being built on the coral, the answer being as minimal as can be expected. These atolls are actually a thousand or so meters of coral that have grown into an island over the centuries. Resorts, on the other hand, are a decades-old phenomena here. As an evolving entity, there’s still a lot to be learned about the coral mound that is the Maldives, so the biosphere reserve is meant to formulate and implement the rules and regulations. “It’s a step in the right direction,” Allison says, “though it’s not complete just yet.” In 1998, the mass bleaching that took place in the world’s oceans killed most of the surface coral in the Maldives; 2004 saw unprecedented damage from that year’s tsunami. Yet,
revelInG In the reefS Clockwise from top left: Gliding
spread out as they are across a vast area of ocean, Allison remains optimistic about the coral reefs in the Maldives compared with other regions of the world. After my last look at the Dusit Thani’s house reef, I’m reminded that the sea and everything in it is never far off in the Maldives. As I head to dinner, just outside my above-water villa, a baby black tip shark glides by underneath my feet, more exciting than menacing. ✚
among the manta rays; a school of bluelined snappers circles the coral; a bright orange giant frogfish.
stay dusit thani maldives mudhdhoo island, Baa atoll; 960/660-8888; dusit.com; doubles from us$675. Four seasons maldives at landaa Giraavaru Baa atoll; 960/660-0888; fourseasons.com; doubles from us$900. soneva Fushi resort By six senses Kunfunadhoo island, Baa atoll; 960/6600304; doubles from us$455.
• do not stand on the coral or stir up the sediment near the coral. • do not distress or feed any marine life.
© aDam broaDbent / scubazoo.com
• enjoy the reef and all the riches it holds.
46 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
DUNkABlE DEvICES. water was once the naturaL enemy of aLL eLectronIcs. LuckILy, there’s a new wave of technoLogy turnIng aquaphobIa Into a thIng of the past.
48 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
f r o m to p : c o u r t e sy o f h 2 oa u D I o ; c o u r t e sy o f c a n o n ; c o u r t e sy o f aq u a pac ; courtesy of sony (2); courtesy of h2oauDIo
ver wished you could listen to your music while you canoe, surf or snorkel? The 1 h20audio amphibx waterproof armband to the rescue. This device will keep your iPhone, Droid or MP3 Player dry and snuggly strapped to your arm while you get wild in the water. And to rock out while you swim laps, check out the 2 interval 4G waterproof headphone system, also by H20Audio, for the beats you need to freestyle while you freestyle. h2oaudio.com. To protect the rest of your prized electronics, take a look at 3 aquapac, which makes a range of waterproof bags for the most popular personal devices, so you can just waterproof the gadgets you already own instead of investing in new ones. Submersible cases are available for the iPad, iPhone, iPod, Kindle, SLR and mini cameras, camcorders, radios and even small items like microphones, flash drives and cords. aquapac.net. you daredevil shutterbugs will also want to experiment with Canon’s brand new 4 powershot d20. Waterproof to 10 meters, shockproof up to 1.5 meters and temperature resistant from minus 10 to 40 degrees Celsius, this camera is designed to go all the crazy places you do. And shooting with 12.1 megapixels, a DIGIC 4 image processor, 5x Optical Zoom, a 28mm wide-angle lens and 1080p full HD video, you’ll be able to capture all of your adventures like a pro. canon.com. Sony is diving head first into the waterproof market with two hot ticket new items. The 5 sony handycam hdr-GW77 can operate at depths up to five meters, is shock proof up to 1.5 meters and can record for up to 90 minutes. The 1080p HD video, shooting 60 frames per second, produces top quality video and the swivel three-inch LCD screen let’s you self-shoot—a nice feature for holiday makers. sony.co.th. For those more interested in pictures than long video recording capacity, the 6 sony cyber-shot dsc-tX20 comes in a range of playful colors. This durable little camera is waterproof, shock and low temperature resistant—built for adventure. The 16.2 megapixel sensor captures sharp images and you still have the option of shooting not only 1080i HD video, but 3D too. sony.co.th. ✚
OUR DEFINITIvE GUIDE TO BUENOS AIRES.
a crocheted installation by Brazilian artist ernesto neto at the new Faena arts Center, in Puerto madero.
c o u r t e s y o f t h e fa e n a g r o u p
south amerIca’s cuLturaL hub Is thrIvIng, thanks to avant-garDe museums, sophIstIcateD new hoteLs anD creatIve restaurants that span the cIty’s coLorfuL barrIos. By colin BarracloUGh
dizzying mix of Europe and Latin America, colonial and contemporary, laid-back and fast-paced, Buenos Aires has a buzz all its own. In recent years, forward-thinking gallery directors, hoteliers and chefs have reinvigorated the city with innovative projects, from the contemporary Faena Arts Center, in Puerto Madero, to the wine-themed MĂo Buenos Aires hotel, in tony Recoleta. And with much-touted dance and music festivals on the horizon (including next monthâ€™s tango celebration), the stylish capital is now more appealing than ever. Buenos Aires at your fingertips? Look no further. Âť
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 51
insider cItyscape PAcific oceAn
N la pl
ArgentinA palermo recoleTa villa creSpo
San Telmo la boca 0
at the ornate Four seasons Buenos aires. Below: a suite at Hotel Pulitzer.
lay of the land a guide to the city’s essential neighborhoods. la Boca the working-class district retains a flavor of the city’s early immigrant days, from the façades of caminito to unsung italian trattorias.
microcentro Best for daytime sightseeing, downtown has the lion’s share of landmark buildings.
hOtel BOcA JunIOrS
BeSt fOr Travelers with a
The world’s first soccerthemed hotel pays homage to Buenos Aires’s much-adored team Boca Juniors. Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott is responsible for the creative design, in which concave glass walls allow sunlight to flood the ample rooms. BeSt fOr Fútbol fanatics. 243 Tacuari; hotelbocajuniors.com; dinner for two US$155.
passion for history. 1832 Rodríguez Peña; hotel clubfrances. com.ar; dinner for two US$300.
This whimsical hotel earns our praise for its nautical interiors, especially its steel-trimmed furniture. BeSt fOr Stylish affordability. 907 Maipú; hotelpulitzer.com.ar; dinner for two US$115.
hOtel cluB frAncéS
mÍO BuenOS AIreS
Since its opening in 1866, the storied French Club has drawn generations of politicians and writers. While the city’s intelligentsia still congregates at the lobby bar, the upper floor was recently turned into a 28-room hotel filled with antiques and period furniture.
Impressive doors artfully fashioned out of wine-stained barrel slats, hardwood floors and bathtubs made from caldén tree trunks warm the interiors at vintner César Catena’s newcomer. BeSt fOr In-the-know oenophiles. 465 Avda. Presidente Manuel
52 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
Quintana; miobuenosaires.com; dinner for two US$340. the clASSIcS algodon mansion Although
only two years old, this Belle Époque gem has already become the standard-bearer for luxury. algodonmansion. com; doubles from US$550. Four seasons hotel Book a
suite in the original 1920 building, decorated with ornate mirrors and toile de Jouy wallpaper. fourseasons. com; doubles from US$410. palacio duhau – park hyatt
This stylish Recoleta property includes a Neoclassical mansion and a contemporary minimalist tower. park.hyatt. com; doubles from US$420.
palermo vieJo Buenos aires’s young and hip convene here for the edgy boutiques and bars set in ivy-covered town houses. pUerto madero Weekenders come to the restored port to stroll across the santiago calatrava–designed Puente de la mujer bridge and dine at upscale restaurants. recoleta argentina’s oldest monied families live in this wellheeled enclave. Blue-chip boutiques and elegant hotels attract the city’s sophisticated set. san telmo By day, this historic area shines with its cobblestoned lanes. at night, a savvy crowd is drawn to the after-midnight bar scene. GettInG ArOunD the subte, or metro, is the most efficient means of transportation. expect to do a lot of walking. taxis are also a great option and are affordable and easy to hail.
f r o m L e f t : c o u r t e s y o f f o u r s e a s o n s h o t e L b u e n o s a I r e s ; ya D I D L e v y
Buenos aires’s hottest hotel openings. plus, the classics we love.
at almacén secreto club (3266 Gregoria Perez; almacensecretoclub.blogspot.com; dinner for two US$270), beef-and-bean locro stews are matched with malbecs. christina sunae serves thai-style pork and green curries at cocina sunae (Roseti and 14 de Julio; cocinasunae. com; dinner for two US$260). paladar Buenos aires (Acevedo and Camargo; paladarbuenosaires.com.ar; dinner for two US$300) is one of the city’s most sought-after tables, thanks to the fresh market fare.
For years, only fishermen could access the jetty that juts from the Avenida Costanera into the Río de la Plata. This changed with the opening of el muelle, an excellent seafood spot on the pier that quickly won a loyal following with salads of fresh king crab and grilled wreckfish. Avda. Costanera Rafael Obligado and Avda. Sarmiento; elmuellerestaurante.com.ar; dinner for two US$375.
54 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
the bar at Palermo’s leopoldo. inset: merluza fish at sanbenito, in Belgrano.
craving grilled steak? Just-caught fish? Four spots guaranteed to please your palate.
Chef Diego Gera whips up intensely flavored signature dishes such as crisp-skinned suckling pig paired with quince purée at the purple-hued leopoldo, in Palermo. After dinner, head to the restaurant’s patio for cocktails and live DJ music. 3732 Avda. Cerviño; leopoldorestaurante.com.ar; dinner for two US$400.
After scoring hits with steak house Sucre and lounge Gran Bar Danzón, restaurateur Luis Morandi opened sanbenito, an Art Deco–style restaurant in Belgrano that serves hearty comfort foods, from tender osso buco with gnocchi to braised lamb shoulder accompanied by carrot purée and Rösti. 2136 Avda. Federico Lacroze; sanbenitorestaurante. com.ar; dinner for two US$375.
Renowned Argentine chef Darío Gualtieri recently took the reins at the longloved bistro social paraíso. His mission: to shake up the menu with cutting-edge dishes like Patagonian prawns cooked in palm oil and coconut milk and Sichuan-pepper ice cream with passionfruit mousse. 5182 Honduras; 54-11/48314556; dinner for two US$270.
ya D I D L e v y ( 2 ) . I L L u s t r a t I o n b y L a u r e n n a s s e f
What could be better than an intimate dinner party thrown at the house of a local chef? in Buenos aires, puertas cerradas (or underground supper clubs) are drawing in-the-know travelers.
insider cItyscape pIcKS frOm pOrteÑOS
From left: Housewares shop Cualquier verdura, in san telmo; tigre’s Paseo victorica; the clothing boutique Bolivia, in Palermo.
Local Take three insiders share their favorite places in the city.
San Telmo was pretty rough around the edges until a decade ago. Around that time tourists began discovering the area’s hidden jewels. The antiques stores on Defensa and the retro housewares at cualquier verdura (517 Humberto Primo; cualquierverdura.com.ar) are fun to browse, but I also love what’s left of old San Telmo: the covered, 19th-century mercado de san telmo (Carlos Calvo and Bolívar; mercadodesantelmo.com) and the café aconcagua (502 Estados Unidos; 54-11/4362-3826), a spot for the old guys from the barrio.
GABrIelA hOrvAt Jewelry designer
I live near the Paraná River delta in Tigre, a 30-minute drive from downtown Buenos Aires. Every morning I take my dog for a walk on the riverbank Paseo Victorica. Afternoon tea on the veranda at the tigre Boat club (156 Paseo Victorica; tigreboatclub.org.ar) is lovely; you can watch hundred-yearold boats on the water. For a culture fix, go to the restored museo de arte tigre (972 Paseo Victorica; mat.gov.ar), which features Argentinean paintings from the late 19th through the 20th century.
AlDO GrAZIAnI sommelier, aldo’s
I opened the bar Tercer Tiempo in the late eighties, when Palermo was mostly residential. These days the neighborhood is full of hip spots. For lunch, locals go to la pulpería (1667 Uriarte; 54-11/4833-6039; lunch for two US$200), an old-fashioned diner that serves a delicious oyster-mushroom sandwich. Nearby, Bolivia (1581 Gurruchaga; 54-11/4832-6284) stocks a great selection of men’s clothing, from casual floral-print shirts to slim-fitting suits. Come nighttime, I love mundo Bizarro (1222 Serrano; 54-11/4773-1967), a cocktail lounge with a great rock-and-roll vibe.
sharpen your milonga moves with our dance-filled itinerary. 2 p.m. Book a class at the salon confitería ideal (confiteriaideal.com), in a grand 1912 mansion in microcentro. 10 p.m. Watch rojo tango, the hottest tango show in town, live at Faena Hotel & universe’s el cabaret (rojotangoshow.com). 12 a.m. ready to strut your stuff? Head to san telmo’s centro región leonesa (1462 Humberto Primo; 54-911/4147-8687). it’s the best place to dance with locals.
56 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
ya D I D L e v y ( 3 ) . I L L u s t r a t I o n b y L a u r e n n a s s e f
AleJAnDrO DIGIlIO chef, la vinería de Gualterio Bolívar
y a D I D L e v y. I L L u s t r a t I o n b y L a u r e n n a s s e f
Five standouts in the style-obsessed city.
Silversmith 1 marcelo toledo (462 Humberto Primo; marcelotoledo.net) is one of the finest jewelry designers in the city. We love his re-creations of Eva Peron’s gem-encrusted necklaces. Aromatic herbs sourced from Patagonia and the Pampas region infuse the perfumes at 2 Fueguia (1680 Avda. Alvear; fueguia.com). For slim cocktail dresses in black and white, don’t miss 3 ramírez (587 Perú; pabloramirez.com.ar). Brazilian clothing designer Oskar Metsavaht creates sleek silhouettes from organic materials at 4 osklen (1245 Posadas; osklen.com). You can’t beat the selection of colorful leather jackets at 5 murillo 666 (666 Murillo; murillo666.com.ar). Rug maker 6 Graciela churba (1774 Godoy Cruz; gracielachurba.com.ar) crafts her patterns in ochers by hand-dyeing sheep’s wool before weaving on a traditional loom.
N .s a
avda. corrie n
tes avia avda. rivad
denc avda. indepen
a leather tote bag from osklen.
Beyond the city
• visit criollo and gaucho artisans in the colonial
town of san antonio de areco, a two-hour drive northwest. • carve out an afternoon for the two-hour trip east to carlos keen, a refurbished former railway station that hosts art shows. • if you’re looking for outdoor adventure, head to tandil, a popular hub for hiking, biking and rock climbing four hours south of the city.
avda. 9 de JUlio
a tour of the city’s art and historical gems for culture hounds.
ya D I D L e v y
Housed in a renovated grain mill, the justopened Faena arts center (1169 Aimé Painé; faenaartscenter. org) is a cathedral-size museum dedicated to works by artists such as Cuban duo Dagoberto Rodríguez and Marco Castillo, who are known as Los Carpinteros. Swing by mUseo de museo de arte moderno, in san telmo.
arte moderno de BUenos aires (350
Avda. San Juan;
museodeartemoderno. buenosaires.gob.ar) to see 20th-century pieces in the industrial and video arts. Highlights include Antonio Seguí silk-screen prints and Alberto Heredia sculptures. rUth Benzacar
(1000 Florida; ruthbenzacar.com), in Retiro, is a must for lovers of avant-garde art. The spacious gallery showcases the best from both
emerging and established Argentine artists (Flavia Da Rim and Miguel Ángel RÍos, to name two). At malBa (3415 Avda. Figueroa Alcorta; malba. org.ar), you’ll find a permanent collection of more than 500 paintings, sculptures and objects from top Latin American talent. There’s also a popular screening room that showcases independent films. ✚
MaDe in the shaDe
cHannel your inner style icon, WHetHer itâ€™s jacKie o. in caPe cod or BriGitte Bardot in st.-troPez, WitH a Pair oF classic BlacK (or WHite) Frames. styled By Jessie Bandy. Fashion direction By mimi lomBardo From top: mother-of-pearl frames, coach; trunk-studded sunglasses, louis vuitton; Wire-bridge sunglasses, prada; rubberized frames, ray-Ban.
Photographed by Charles Masters
From top: Gradient lenses Guess by marciano; Polarized sunglasses, david yurman; retro shades, d&G; cat-eye frames, kenneth cole new york.
travelandleisure.com decemBer 2011 travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 6300
JuLIan tan, co-owner of the tanJong beach cLub, gIves t+L the DetaILs on where to go anD what to wear In the IncreasIngLy styLIsh IsLanD state. By mark lean
With the influx of celebrity chef-headlined restaurants, high-rolling casinos and super clubs, Singapore has shed the final traces of its fusty reputation. “There is a new exuberance here,” says Julian Tan, a former investment banker who moved to Singapore in 2003 where he chanced upon a quiet stretch of beach on the then-tranquil island of Sentosa. Inspired by the Perth coastlines where he grew up and taken by “the sprawling white beachfront and stunning sunsets,” the Malaysian-Australian, together with his brother Christian, set up a pop-up bar on Sentosa called The Shack. It was constructed using a recycled six-meter–wide shipping container, oil drums as high tables and shipping pallets for day beds. The Shack’s immediate success soon called for more concrete expansion plans. This led, in 2010, to the S$3.8-million Tanjong Beach Club (120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa; 65/6270-1355; tanjongbeachclub.com), or TBC for short—a 9,144 square-meter area featuring a restaurant with 64 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
decorative timber paneling and 2.7-meter julian tan by the waterfront, above. top: the infinity pool glass doors and bars at the tanjong Beach Club. fronting both the sun-kissed beach and the infinity pool. “It’s a multi-dimensional space,” says Tan. “With sea breezes blowing, one can take a dip in the pool, or hit the sand for a game of volleyball or lie in the sun with a mojito in hand.” On weekends, the TBC attracts a stylish crowd made up of locals, expatriates and off-duty models, thronging to enjoy tropical cocktails like the Tanjong Sling (vodka, elderflower cordial, apple juice, lychee, kaffir lime leaf and fresh ginger), and listen to house tracks that the DJ spins late into the night. And massive parties like the thriceyearly Full Steam Ahead full moon celebration give patrons the chance to let loose. “It’s a great spot for people to escape their busy lives,” adds Tan. ✚
c L o c k w I s e f r o m to p L e f t : c o u r t e s y o f ta n J o n g b e a c h c L u b ; © c h r I s t I a n ta n
singapoRe suMMeR style
JUlian tan’s sinGapore address Book looF “this is, by far, my favorite bar in singapore, with cocktails like the Ho chi mint, made from vodka, apple and lemon juice, pear nectar and mint.” 03-07 Odeon Towers, 331 North Bridge Rd.; 65/6338-8035; drinks for two S$51. esqUina “michelin-starred chef jason atherton’s new singapore bolt hole puts a creative spin on traditional dishes. try the iberico pork and foie gras burger, as well as the scallop ceviche and radish salsa.” 16 Jiak Chuan Rd.; 65/6222-1616; dinner for two S$128; esquina.com.sg.
tAn’S tIpS Clockwise from left: outside the loof bar; scallop ceviche and radish salsa at esquina; inside the michelin-star restaurant.
f r o m to p : c o u r t e s y o f L o o f ; c o u r t e s y o f e s q u I n a ( 2 ) ; © e u g e n e ta n ; courtesy of persoL; courtesy of superga
aqUaBUmps “some of the coolest beach photography around that looks great on any wall.” aquabumps.com.
p persol sUnGlasses s ““i am partial to the retro shapes and the classic design made popular by steve mcQueen.” m persol.com.
inhaBit “it’s best place for jeans and other casualwear brands not easily found elsewhere in singapore.” 390 Orchard Rd., B1-03, Palais Renaissance; 65/6235-6995; inhabit.com.sg. deUs eX machina “i love these motorbikes and there are some pretty amazing accessories, too.” deuscustoms.com.
Bassike “it’s an australian casual wear brand that makes fashion forward t-shirts and sweats all from 100 percent organic cotton.” bassike.com. sUperGa sneakers “they are simple and casual. i wear mine everywhere.” superga.co.uk.
FUJiFilm X100 “a retro-style camera with all the options of a digital slr.” fujifilm.com.
28 honG konG street “this underground new yorkstyle speakeasy has some of the best cocktails in town, like the literate lass.” 28 Hong Kong St.; 65/6533-2001; drinks for two S$51. spa Botanica sentosa “a great spot for a quick detox with the signature cleansing cocktail.” 2 Bukit Manis Rd., Sentosa; 65/6371-1318; lunch for two S$102; spabotanica.com. stranGers’ reUnion “this is where i get my daily coffee fix, prepared by passionate baristas.” 37 Kampong Bahru Rd.; 65/93683610; drinks for two S$19. panGaea “the party at singapore’s ultimate lounge club doesn’t start till late.” marina Bay sands; 65/8611-7013; pangaea.sg. restaUrant andré “For fine dining, i’d recommend the restaurant’s eight-course degustation menu, octaPhilosophy.” 41 Bukit Pasoh Rd.; 65/6534-8880; dinner for two S$1,022; restaurantandre.com.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 65
Rock the block tHis summer Put your Best Face ForWard WitH tHese all- service sunscreens.
nivea sUn WhiteninG spF 50+ protects against uv rays while lightening your skin tone—perfect for those who want to cultivate a snowy complexion, even under the sun. nivea-international.com.
la mer Uv protectinG FlUid spF 30 goes on clear and gives your skin a subtle glow, so it works well as primer for other cosmetics. cremedelamer.com.
nivea sUn invisiBle protection spF 50 is non-greasy, water resistant and fastabsorbing—a great all-purpose sunscreen to keep stocked in your beach bag. nivea-international.com.
sUnleÿa aGeminimizinG sUn protection spF 15 is designed to let through a dose of uv light, forcing your skin to respond with its own photoprotection—a tan. sisley-cosmetics.com.
eUcerin kids sUn spray spF 50+ is easy to apply and the fragrance-free, colorant-free, high sPF formula is designed for the little ones in your life. eucerin-club.com.
shiseido perFect Uv protector spF 50+ targets creases and uneven surfaces to protect your skin from every angle. shiseido.com.
ettUsais aqUa splash Uv spF 25 is a light mist you can apply over your foundation to recharge your sun protection without having to redo your makeup. ettusais.sg.
kiehl’s activated sUn protector spF 50 has sun filters that shield skin from short uva rays that cause premature skin aging and high-energy uvB rays that lead to sunburns, for total coverage. kiehls.com.
66 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
Photographed by Chanok Thammarakkit
three reasons we’LL be seeIng spots thIs summer, courtesy of 83-year-oLD Japanese artIst yayoI kusama.
yayoi Kusama, dressed in polka dots, stands in front of her signature patterned paintings, top. above: a black and white monogram nylon tote.
68 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
1 New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art (whitney.org) is hosting Kusama’s first U.S. show in 15 years. Opening July 12— following stops in Madrid, Paris and London—it presents work from her sixdecade career, including immersive mirrored rooms that appear to go on forever.
2 Recently released in English, Kusama’s autobiography, Infinity Net (University of Chicago Press), recounts her colorful life, from hanging out with characters like Donald Judd and Andy Warhol in 1960’s New York to her more recent years in a Tokyo psychiatric hospital, where she still lives today.
3 The Princess of Polka Dots has collaborated with Marc Jacobs and Louis Vuitton on Infinitely Kusama, a new line of readyto-wear looks and accessories—which means we’ll be seeing her splashy creations long after the Whitney retrospective closes in September. —jennifer miranda ✚
f r o m to p : k I r s t y w I g g L e s w o r t h /a p/ c o r b I s ; c o u r t e s y o f L o u I s v u I t to n
strategies travel smarter
tOp Of the chArtS why Are ASIAâ€™S AIrpOrtS cOntInuAlly rAteD the BeSt In the wOrlD? In SeArch Of AnSwerS, we AlSO uncOver whAt yOur fAvOrIte GAtewAy wIll lOOK lIKe In the future. by c h r i s t o p h e r k u c w ay
Seoul Incheon Best in the business for the past seven years.
70 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
RANKINGS CHART World’s Best airports by customer satisfaction (airports council international 2011) 1 seoul incheon 2 singapore changi 3 Beijing 4 hong kong 5 nagoya
a hub that is full of diversions.
f r o m t o p L e f t : © t c 3 9 7 / I s t o c k p h o t o . c o m ; c h r I s t o p h e r k u c way o p p o s I t e pa g e : c o u r t e s y o f I n c h e o n I n t e r n at I o n a L a I r p o r t c o r p
acing through Singapore’s Changi Airport between connections, it’s easy to see why the facility rates as one of the best in the world. It’s not perfect, but it is clean, efficient and easy to use. It’s also home to enough worthy distractions— though where an indoor butterfly farm figures into that equation is anyone’s guess—to soften the blow of a long layover. So why are some of Asia’s airports continually ranked as the best in the world? In typical marketing gobbledygook, those who oversee the Singapore hub refer to any visit as a “Changi Experience.” In reality, it’s simply a matter of the airport—and others around the region—taking air travelers’ concerns to heart and acting on them. For those of us in Asia, fortunately this well-oiled gateway is the norm rather than the exception. And, as good as it is, Changi no longer even tops the list. For the past seven years, Seoul Incheon has been voted the best airport worldwide by Airports Council International. Even better news is that Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Nagoya have rounded out the top five
in the latest count, and several others around the region are aiming for the same lofty ratings. So what makes a great airport? The simple answer, one touched upon with the Changi example, is a facility that is efficient and user-friendly. More specifically, that means everything from cleanliness to check-in efficiency, courteous staff to good signage, comfortable waiting areas and even overall ambience. Airport analyst Richard Thomas points out that Asian airports are fortunate because they are so new and, to a large degree, air is the only viable travel option around the region. “Asian governments are prepared to invest in airports,” he points out, partly because they often have a direct financial stake in them. Contrast the airports here with those in Europe, where air travel competes directly with an efficient train network, and you get the idea. That said, don’t think for a minute that well-designed airports are exclusive to Asia. Thomas mentions Heathrow’s Terminal 5 as a prime example of a facility that is, well, top flight. Like that corner of Heathrow, Asia’s airports benefit from being relatively new, but even locations like »
AIRPORT APPS each of these is available through itunes, Google play or via the listed website.
• Beijing airport’s app largely
centers on the information you would find on the arrivals and departures board.
• Flightboard lists arrivals and
departures for thousands of airports around the world and is updated every five minutes.
• Hong Kong has an iPhone link
that concentrates on shopping and dining.
• Kuala lumpur international
airport offers an e-timetable.
• tokyo’s “naritra,” short for
narita translator, is a free app that translates from japanese to english, chinese or Korean.
• seoul incheon’s app (airport.kr) offers a detailed map of the airport, centering on how to get to your gate, as well as a synopsis of everything to do with your flight.
• in singapore, ichangi is a
mobile phone app that guides users through every aspect of the airport.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 71
strategies asIa’s aIrports
GOT A GRIPE? hong kong 852/2181-8888 kuala lumpur 603/8776-4386 seoul incheon 82/4577-2600 tokyo narita 81-476/34-8000
Beijing sees 80 million passengers a year.
Hong Kong and Singapore are continually upgrading to match expectations. Long the leader when it comes to the world’s airports, Changi completes a four-year renovation to Terminal 1 this month. Aside from revamping the interior of the terminal with new shops and eateries, Changi can now accommodate larger aircraft—such as the double-deck A380—at more of its gates and has included additional outdoor space for passengers who yearn for some
tropical weather before they board their flight. As one of the main gateways to China, Hong Kong International Airport is growing—last year saw 53.9 million passengers pass through—and, like the city it calls home, continues to improve and adapt. This year, the airport started a three-year, HK$496 million (US$63.6 million) rejuvenation program, an overhaul that is largely taking place behind the scenes and aims to ease the constraints of
the AIrpOrt Of the future
magine an airport with no check-in desks. confusing? well, yes. but if you believe airport analyst roger thomas, it’s easy if you try. It won’t really put a dent in your travels anyway, he predicts, because by 2025 there’s a good chance you won’t be checking in any luggage either. oh, and those immigration desks and duty-free shops? they won’t exist. there’s also a good chance your favorite airport will be open 24 hours a day. before you go there, no, thomas isn’t suffering from jetlag. airports are something he’s studied for the past 25 years. so start from the premise that these days airlines are losing money, many of the world’s airports are at capacity and passengers—you and I—are not happy travelers when talk turns to airports. assuming
72 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
c Lo c kw I s e f r o m to p L e f t: © 1 0 0 0 wo r Ds / D r e a m st I m e .co m ; © s o f I aw o r L D / D r e a m s t I m e . c o m ; © spectraL-DesIgn / DreamstIme.com
singapore changi 65/6595-6868
c o u r t e s y o f h o n g k o n g I n t e r n at I o n a L a I r p o r t
increased passenger flow. What that won’t help is the fact that the main terminal is designed so that the distance from airport transport to your gate is a long walk, despite the underground train that runs from just beyond customs and immigration controls to gates 35 and 36. Longer term, the city is looking at adding a third runway. Even top-rated Incheon in Seoul has plans for a second passenger terminal that is scheduled to open by 2017. Asia’s strength when it comes to customer service also plays well at airports. New at Narita International Airport is a badge system that clearly indicates what languages airport staff speak. Tokyo’s international gateway is also seeing some refurbishment to its duty-free shops in both terminals 1 and 2, work that should be completed by late summer. In Singapore, there are now 90 Changi Experience Agents throughout both terminals to assist passengers with special needs and with simple directions around the airport. Worth mentioning is that this staff speak a total of 20 languages. Each is equipped with an iPad for access to the most
up-to-date departures, arrivals and connection information. Cutting-edge technology, of course, plays a massive role in any decent airport. Most of the best have Wi-Fi hotspots throughout their terminals. But technology also has a key role when it comes to customs and immigration. At Incheon, the immigration process is about three times faster than average thanks to IT and biometric technology. Put in more succinct terms, that means the average
immigration procedures when departing the airport take 12 minutes as opposed to an industry standard of 45 minutes. And for anyone who wonders when the best time to travel is, think along the lines of traffic on the ground. Can you say rush hour? That means most airports are busiest around 9 a.m. and around 6 p.m. As you might expect, Tokyo’s Narita (narita-airport.jp/en) breaks down an average day at security checkpoints in each of its main wings »
the gateway to southern China remains a passenger favorite.
that technology will continue to advance, these predictions all start to fall into place. as thomas often says, it’s already happening. “within 15 years, 20 percent of all flights will be baggage free,” thomas says. already, cabins in new aircraft are designed to hold larger carry-ons. better still is the thought that the absence of check-in luggage could save you up to 15 percent on your ticket price. thomas says he can even envision a future when luggage will be collected the day before your flight and delivered to your destination. no bags plus self-serve check-in kiosks erases the need for manned desks. taking things a step further, he says emigration and immigration procedures can also be automated. then what about airport shopping? “the seasoned traveler now knows that duty-free doesn’t mean anything,” thomas, who admits he’s not a shopper, says. airport stores are already places to browse. spot
something you like? buy it later online or, if you do pick it up at the airport, have it delivered to your home. with quieter aircraft and many airports at capacity, extending the operational hours is an obvious move, though asia hasn’t reached that point yet. but it will, he says. “air traffic is growing so quickly, people will not want to queue at check-in, immigration or customs.” what does all this mean for air passengers? “air travel will be enjoyable once more because it will be automated,” says thomas. “you’ll be able to get through airports more efficiently by 2025. all the hassles you have at the moment, all of that will be gone.” today, a two-hour flight can take up to six hours door-to-door. thomas says he thinks this will be cut down to 3.5 hours with automation. “the thing I look for in an airport is efficiency,” says thomas, who flies about 80 times a year. so his favorite airport? without a second thought, changi. travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 73
strategies asIa’s aIrports
BEST WAY TO THE CITY
on its website—remember that Terminal 1 is home to Star Alliance carriers Etihad, EVA Air and Qatar, while Terminal 2 sees both the One World and Sky Team alliances, China’s major airlines, Air India, Emirates, Malaysia Airlines, Philippine Airlines and SriLankan. Not surprisingly, the busiest times for international flights are in periods between 8.30 a.m. and 10 a.m., at 12.30 p.m. and between 3 p.m. and 5.30 p.m. The adage that the earlier in the day you travel, the fewer delays you’ll encounter still holds true. As efficient as the aging Narita is, the upgrades are appreciated. On the other hand, Kuala Lumpur International Airport is an example of a facility that plays the modern card well. It consists of two separate terminals, with easy train access between them. During longer layovers, the satellite building is best if you don’t have access to a lounge since it’s home to the largest selection of dining and shopping. The Malaysian hub also hits some high-tech buttons: remember to include your mobile phone number with your flight booking on Malaysia Airlines. If the flight is delayed or the gate has changed, the carrier will shoot you a text message to inform you. A small 74 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
thing perhaps, but a much appreciated modern touch. So are things perfect at Asia’s airports? Travel to Manila and you’ll have a definitive answer on that one. Still, the trickle down effect from the Incheons and Changis of the world is seen in destinations like Delhi, where the international airport has improved exponentially over the past few years, even if it still has a ways to go. Today, it’s much more efficient when it comes to customs and immigration queues, a start in the right direction. While Asia continues to improve its facilities, other regions of the world are investing in their airports. Dubai has a blueprint for what is basically a small city centered around its gateway, not to mention plans for five runways. Melbourne is looking at a A$1 billion (US$996,000) upgrade with a new terminal opening by July 2014, while Bangkok aims to increase its capacity by a third come 2017, at a price of Bt60 billion (US$1.9 billion). And in its effort to stay at the top of the global heap, there are plans for a US$3 billion resort at Incheon airport, a project that includes a medical center, shopping mall and—that magnet for Chinese and Japanese travelers—a healthy supply of luxury goods outlets. ✚
BAnGKOK depending upon where you are headed in the sprawling capital, taxis will cost anywhere from Bt150 to Bt400, including the Bt50 airport fee. the city’s airport express train (Bt150) is an option only if you’re staying close to the line itself. BeIJInG in a city with so few taxis, good luck. you’re better off hiring a car, which will cost about rmB150 to your hotel. hOnG KOnG take the airport express train—24 minutes to central, HK$100 one way. KuAlA lumpur the express train (rm35) to the city takes 28 minutes and departs every 15 minutes during peak hours. SeOul departing every 30 minutes, the express train to seoul station takes 43 minutes (KrW3,850), while a taxi averages about one hour and will cost about KrW2,400. ShAnGhAI the maglev train takes only eight minutes to reach the city and costs rmB50, but it's likely not near where you are staying. opt for an hour’s taxi ride for rmB200. SInGApOre the airport shuttle bus costs s$9, while taxi fares to the city range between s$18 and s$38 depending on the time of day and exact drop-off location. tOKyO the narita express takes 53 minutes to reach tokyo station (¥2,940), while the journey to shibuya or shinjuku stations will cost ¥3,110. the skyliner travels to northern tokyo (¥2,400) and requires a transfer to the jr yamanote line if you’re going to shinjuku, an additional ¥190 for a trip lasting 56 minutes.
to p L e f t: © w I n h o r s e / I sto c k p h oto.co m ; co u rt e sy o f c h a n g I a I r p o rt
a second city, but great airport.
the ins and outs of modern travel
the vAlue Of vIllAS
wIth prIvate vILLa DeveLopments poppIng up aLL over asIa, It’s easIer than ever to fInD one that suIts your buDget. By JenniFer chen Imagine this: a cozy villa nestled in a tropical garden of palms, hibiscus and frangipani. It has three airy bedrooms filled with daybeds, artifacts and curios from Indonesia. At your beck and call is a full staff that includes a masseuse, driver, security guard and cook. If you’re bored with paddling in the pool, the beach is only a five-minute stroll. And the price for this private paradise? Depending on the season, Villa Kedidi (62-361/737-498; villakedidi.com) in Canggu, Bali can be yours for just US$328—a price tag that’s even more affordable when you consider that villas are often rented with a group. Yes, there are still the palatial, Architecture Digest–worthy spectacles with helicopter pads and their own pristine beaches that cost princely sums. But thanks to a building boom in Asia’s more developed resorts (think the usual suspects—Bali, Phuket and Samui), private beach villas are no longer the provenance of the rich and famous. Here, some tips from the experts on how to score the best deal. 76 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
cOnSIDer the Off-SeASOn Prices spike during big holidays, notes T. J. Mahoney, the cofounder and CEO of Flipkey.com, TripAdvisor’s online holiday rental marketplace. “By moving up or postponing your vacation by a week, you could save a bundle,” he says. Also familiarize yourself with the various high seasons. By booking just before or after the official high season, you can snag a villa for as much as 50 percent less than the high season price, says Darren Lockie, the owner of Amazing Thai Villas (66-81/797-0375; amazingphuketvillas.com), a rental agency focused on Phuket. Case in point, the four-bedroom Ambalama (94-77/373-2472; ambalamavilla.com) in Sri Lanka’s southern coast will set you back US$650 per day from May–July, September–October and for most of December. But during Christmas and New Year’s, the prices skyrocket to US$1,200 per day. cOunt up the ServIceS Some villas only
include breakfast in the rate; others offer a car and Illustration by Wasinee Chantakorn
driver, breakfast, afternoon tea and Wi-Fi. So while one property is cheaper, you might be saving more money at a pricier villa because it throws in more services and amenities. BOOK eArly Popular villas are often reserved
a year in advance, so if you’re really keen on a particular property, it’s wise to snag it as soon as possible. Booking in advance also has its financial advantages: it gives you more bargaining power and also helps you secure the best rate. Make sure to check out the deal pages of rental websites: Flipkey posts weekly deals, and though pricier, Jetsetter.com also lists deals. try hAGGlInG As with almost everything in
Asia, prices are negotiable. “Most villas are not a hundred percent booked, so make an offer and maybe your booking fills a gap,” says Lockie. “A thirty percent discount is a good starting point,” he
advises, adding that if the owner won't budge on the rate, try getting breakfast or a car and driver included in the cost. lOcAtIOn ISn’t everythInG How essential is that great view or immediate access to the beach? If you don’t mind walking or if you’re planning to be out for most of the day, consider a villa that’s a bit more secluded. Set inland from Phuket’s West Coast, the three-bedroom Baan La Wadee (66-81/438-7062; baanlawadee.com) is priced at US$280–US$560, compared to the lavish twobedroom Surin Heights–Sawan Anda (thevillaguide. com/villa/surin-heightssawan-anda.com), where the views of Surin Bay, while beautiful, will set you back US$659–US$1,995. ✚ Get the GUide cHecK out tHevillaGuide.com For comPreHensive, Well-Priced listinG in indonesia, tHailand and sri lanKa.
travel topiCs in depth, vivid visuals and more
on lazy Beach, Koh rong samloem.
In search of Lost tIme in a cluster oF camBodian islands leFt virtually untoucHed until noW, richard hermes discovers a Place WHere tHe sloW Boat oF History is aBout to sPeed uP. photoGraphed By aUstin BUsh
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 81
Sweet SecluSIOn Clockwise from top left: song saa's sous-chef alistair riley; colorfully plated sea bass; palm trees at Prek svay village,
hese remarkable Cambodian islands refuse to obey the laws of logic and time, so I won’t either. I’ll begin at the end. After five days of continuous rain that felt like weeks of waiting, the gods granted us one glorious morning of sun. We emerged from our 20-minute walk through the island’s jungle interior, glistening with perspiration rather than precipitation, to the beach from where we would depart. As our little blue-green boat edged closer to shore to pick us up, we dropped our bags,
82 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
shimmied into our suits and swam to meet it as slowly as we possibly could. We wanted to savor this dip in clear water, all the sweeter for being both our first and our last. From sea, the view of this particular beach looks like many others in the Koh Rong Archipelago: an improbably long stretch of sand with almost nothing on it. It makes no sense. These kinds of places aren’t supposed to exist anymore in Southeast Asia; for years, jaded travelers have been telling us that outside of long-shuttered Burma there are no more blank slates. Those travelers haven’t been to this part of Cambodia.
b e L o w, m I D D L e : c o u r t e s y o f s o n g s a a
Koh rong; lindsey swing and Kate Fox in the bungalow they share at lazy Beach resort on Koh rong samloem; view of Koh Bong, the greenest half of song saa’s “sweethearts”; song saa's villas feature lamps made from recycled oil barrels and repurposed wood.
ewind to 2006: Rory and Melita Hunter, a former advertising executive and set designer, respectively, are traveling around in a fishing boat when they come upon two very small islands named Song Saa (“Sweethearts” in Khmer), next to Koh Rong, about 10 kilometers from Sihanoukville. They stop and have lunch with some of the few people living there and are almost immediately asked if they want to buy the island. Nearly six years, several setbacks and US$29 million later, Song Saa the luxury resort was born. On the ride from Sihanoukville in Song Saa’s custommade speedboat, a kind of paradox is quickly apparent. The project is a quantum leap for Cambodia—nothing of its caliber has ever been attempted; the only other accommodation available in the archipelago is of the most basic, backpacker sort. And yet much of what makes Song Saa special is that it’s surrounded by islands that have been frozen in time, like a prehistoric dragonfly in amber. Gliding toward the horizon, the sleek white boat feels like a time machine to a future with leather-coated minibars and massive terrazzo tubs. It is drizzling when the resort general manager and his staff meet us at the pier with wooden umbrellas and cold drinks. We bunker down in the overwater restaurant waiting for it to stop, but it doesn’t, it merely varies its tone. Three days and several commendable plates of eggs Benedict later, the drizzle is still as soft as my down comforter, as constant as the hum of my air conditioner. I pretend to be as anxious as my photographer and friend, Austin Bush, for the skies to clear, but like most laggardly, bookish people I am secretly not-un-pleased by this kind of weather, the way it compels me to spend time with my current attempt to wade into Marcel Proust’s Swann’s Way. In my villa there is a huge desk made from reclaimed wood, a loaded iPod connected to an excellent sound system, sparkling wine, tea-making accoutrements and almonds. There is a saltwater infinity pool and a clear panel in the floor to stare at the sea from the settee. But I’m most pleased to find a stainless steel reading light standing sentry over my headboard, unnoticed until I need it. I spread out in a bed so soft it feels like lying on a pile of feathers. Proust, that long-winded rascal, writes that “the better part of our memories exist outside us, in a blatter of rain…hidden from our eyes in an oblivion [that nevertheless allows us] from time to time recover the person that we were.” Song Saa is admirably designed by Melita herself, its curved wooden footbridges giving a sense of journey on even the simplest walk. Still, I wonder what the inhabited half of the sweethearts, Koh Ouen, looked like before it was “found.” Across the channel, the massive, sleeping beast that is the shape of Koh Rong, obscured in parts by the weather, exists as a kind of persistent memory, a waking dream. »
across the channel, the sleeping beast that is Koh rong exists as a kind of persistent memory, a waking dream
DIve BAcK In tIme From top: the view from lookout Point on lazy Beach, Koh rong samloem; Prek svay village, Koh rong; along the simple pier at tuit Beach on the island.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 83
aking the Song Saa speedboat out for the afternoon, we scan the perimeter of Koh Rong’s 78 square kilometers. Because we don’t know what to expect, every cove is a discovery, every unoccupied stretch of sand a pleasant surprise. On a beach across from tiny Koh Tuit, a small village has sprung up, rough enough around the edges to make one feel selfconscious stepping off a luxury boat in a tailored pink shirt in front of a line of backpackers queuing lethargically for their three-hour ferry ride back to the mainland. Frank Fortune, a friendly, craggy-faced South African who runs Aka’s Guesthouse, came here after several years in Southeast Asia, unsatisfied with places like Sihanoukville. There are no cars or roads on Koh Rong; every beach requires a boat. One might fear a sameness to life here, but “Every day is flippin’ different on this island,” Frank says. “From a beautiful flecked turquoise color, to two weeks later and the sea is up on its head. Things takes time here, but sometimes that’s exactly what you need in life.” Here, he says, “Time doesn’t mean a hell of a lot.” Few countries have experienced stopped time, or lost time, as Cambodia has. The great irony of course is that
while we marvel at the untouched beauty of its island landscapes, this virtue exists because of the painful ugliness of politics and war. In the 1970’s the Khmer Rouge evacuated these islands and banned fishing, and instability and lack of infrastructure has kept them empty and quiet. In April 2007, not long after the Hunters got their first glimpse of Song Saa, Richard King was making a similar discovery with his fiancée Lina Muy and her father Benh, a fisherman and former member of the Cambodian Navy. They spent a couple nights camping on the beaches of Koh Rong Samloem, an island long associated with pirates and smuggling. For a long time there was nothing there but the »
the bungalows are simple and well made, and offer everything you need and nothing you don’t
cOAStAl cAmBODIA Clockwise from top left: Koh rong’s forested interior is the size of Hong Kong island; the overwater vista restaurant
and lounge at song saa; backpackers take a seat on tuit Beach, Koh rong; touring Prek svay, a fishing village near song saa.
84 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
IDyllIc ISlAnDS Clockwise from top left: a local on tuit Beach; kayaking
in the protected marine area around song saa; backpackers on tuit Beach; a bungalow at lazy Beach resort, Koh rong samloem.
navy and an old French-colonial lighthouse. Like the Hunters, King says he “saw no need for hesitation” and immediately inquired about what it would take to lease land and start a resort. Not much, it turns out. Doing business in Cambodia may have its risks, but it is also remarkably easy. Within months Benh and and his son Kenh were building the octagonal restaurant and chill-out space on what they would christen Lazy Beach, a huge stretch of golden sand framed by forested outcroppings on each side. The bungalows are simple, well-made and offer everything you need and nothing you don’t. There are hammocks and comfortable chairs everywhere. The room rate is onefiftieth that at Song Saa, but because the beach is so oversized and the bungalows so spread out, Lazy Beach offers an entirely different kind of luxury: the luxury of natural space. 86 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
Some people like Lazy Beach so much that they don’t leave. If King notices a guest who seems like a particularly good fit, he might ask them if they would like to stay longer and work in exchange for that stay. Often, they say yes. “It’s like getting adopted by a giant Khmer family,” says Lindsey Swing, who, along with her friend Kate Fox, skipped her graduation at the University of Oregon to start traveling. In a corner of the bungalow they’ve shared for over a year sits a colorful collection of flotsom-art: antiquelooking squidding bulbs, mobiles made from Red Bull bottles wrapped with colorful string. When they’re not manning the restaurant, they might walk up to the top of Lookout Point, or climb on the rocks by the cascading pools of a nearby waterfall. “There’s a freedom to explore like you did when you were a child,” Swing says. In the last few years all of the leases on Cambodian Islands have been snapped up, in some cases by powerful investors with big plans. When Proust writes “There is no paradise but paradise lost,” he’s talking about how it’s in our nature to indulge in nostalgia for what we no longer have, to take a kind of pleasure in what we’ve lost. It’s easy to mourn the inevitable development of Cambodia’s islands before it even happens, but had Proust had the opportunity to visit the Koh Rong Archipelago, he may have declared it not yet ripe—still too unspoiled to appreciate. It’s unclear whether Cambodia’s path toward becoming a full-fledged island destination will more closely resemble that of Song Saa or Lazy Beach—it will certainly involve a combination of both. With every wide-eyed 20-something who arrives to find themselves dazzled by the place and stays to learn how to live and work barefoot for a year, every upscale tourist attracted to Song Saa not just for its luxury but its conservation ethic, history in this part of Cambodia is not being re-written, necessarily, but re-shaped. When Austin and I left Koh Rong Samloem in that bluegreen fishing boat on the day that the rain stopped, the island looked the way we often feel after a journey: both the same and somehow changed from when we first landed. We were like men who had lost their time machine somewhere in the past and had come to peace with the fact that the return journey would be much slower than the first. ✚
GUide to koh ronG archipelaGo GettInG there there are currently two flights per week from siem reap to sihanoukville; otherwise, it is a three-hour drive from Phnom Penh. Boats to Koh rong samloem depart from ochheuteal Beach daily at 12:00 p.m.
StAy song saa private island 855-236/860-360; songsaa. com; doubles from us$1,336 all-inclusive. lazy Beach resort Koh rong samloem; 855016/214-211; lazybeachcambodia.com; doubles us$40.
journal DrIve thailand’s Gulf Coast offers plenty of beach for your baht.
sea by the cIty WitH BanGKoK in His rear-vieW mirror, denis d. Gray Heads soutH to Hua Hin, tHailand’s First BeacH resort, tracinG tHe sloW route to Get even FartHer From tHe Bustle oF tHe BiG city. photoGraphed By athit peraWonGmetha 88 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
hailand’s bluebloods once took days to reach their country’s first seaside resort, which they had established as a retreat from Bangkok’s oppressive heat. With entourages in tow, they traveled from the capital by canal boat, steamer and ox-cart in the days before a railway track was laid in the early 1900’s. Today, on just about every weekend, Bangkok Thais and expats by the carload head south for Hua Hin and beyond, most of them eager to hit the beach within three hours or less, blinkered to the pleasures en route to the sea. I confess succumbing to the same mindset on most trips to Hua Hin, neglecting the rewards of slow travel. Idyllic rural scenes. Second-to-none spas. Seafood fresh off fishing boats. A number of royal palaces along a stretch of the highway that is named after King Rama II. Limestone cliffs plunge dramatically into the sea at the journey’s furthest point, and of course there’s Hua Hin, “discovered’’ in recent decades by high-end hotel chains but still clinging to its past as both a picturesque fishing village and a classy getaway of the elite. The kind of visitor attracted to this region wouldn’t be caught dead in Pattaya, the frenetic, anything-goes resort on the other side of the Gulf of Thailand.
rOyAl rOAD trIp
From top: on the approach to Phra nakhon Khiri Palace; another day on the beach; the pool at evason Hua Hin resort.
o p p o s I t e pag e : © f r e D f r o e s e / I s to c k p h oto.c o m ; fa r r I g h t: © t b r a D f o r D / I s to c k p h oto . c o m
DAy 1 BAnGKOK tO huA hIn 195 KIlOmeterS
I love Bangkok, my home for more than 30 years. Still, I always feel my city-spawned tensions slip into low gear when I accelerate across the Rama IX Bridge and see the array of high rises fade in the rear-view mirror. The highway, the main artery down the southern peninsula of Thailand to Malaysia, begins to shed urban sprawl about an hour outside the capital, where we discover a pleasant alternative route. Rather than barrel down four lanes, at kilometer marker 72 we take a country-road detour to Phetchaburi. It’s full of mangroves, glimpses of the sea and brackish flats where salt is harvested and stacked in neat white pyramids. Flashes of gilt and orange suddenly break the monochrome of the endless horizon. You can always navigate to Phetchaburi from any direction because from a distance you spot Phra Nakhon Khiri, a palace complex built across three peaks by King Rama IV. It’s worth an » travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 89
A BAnGKOK BreAK
From top: outside villa maroc resort; squid drying at Pak nam Pran fishing village; the “mountain with three Hundred Peaks’’ at Khao sam roi yot.
90 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
ascent for the panoramic view and an astronomical observatory of the multi-talented monarch, popularly known from the musical The King and I. If you’re on foot rather than aboard the funicular, beware of the purse-snatching macaques. Officials have waged a decade’s long campaign to eject them. The monkeys are winning. The real glory of Phetchaburi comes in the form of two 17thcentury monasteries—Wat Yai Suwannaram and Wat Ko Keo Suttharam—which house rare surviving murals from the late Ayutthaya Kingdom when the art form reached its height. A guardian at Wat Ko unlocks the ordination hall for us (usually shut on weekdays) revealing scenes of serenity and drama from the life of the Buddha in age-mellowed colors. Hundreds of highly individualized figures populate the walls—all the bad guys are Chinese, Indians, Westerners and other foreigners. My wife, rather an expert on Buddhist art, rates Wat Ko as one of the top half dozen “must see’’ temples in Thailand. Several of the monarchs, the nine Ramas, of the current Chakri Dynasty, have left their mark on the region and as we near Hua Hin, a stopover at Maruekhathaiyawan Palace offers a glimpse of past royal lifestyles. Built in 1923 by Rama VI, the golden teak structure is raised on 1,080 columns, its airy pavilions connected by long covered walkways open to sea breezes. The king, who loved Shakespeare and translated several of his plays, built a theater not unlike London’s Globe where he directed and acted in his own productions. My wife and I spent many happy holidays in Hua Hin when it was still an intimate, quiet place, often staying at what was then called The Railway Hotel. Built in the 1920’s for royal courtiers, it’s now the Centara Grand Beach Resort and Villas, but after several years away we are delighted to find it so little changed, an enclave of the old Hua Hin, although the special rate for our room is almost 40 times more than we once paid. In the evening, I jog along the five-kilometerlong beach, first past family villas secluded behind palms and sea pines, then newer developments— hotels, condominiums, chic restaurants and spas.
On the beach fronting the Centara, the remembered flavor prevailed: vendors, pony rides and young Thai women swimming in modest shorts and T-shirts. Fishing boats, gently rocking offshore, prepared for their nightly hunt for squid and fish. “It’s a fascinating jewel—inspired by royalty, built by an Italian architect in pure Edwardian style. I’ve been here three years and still keep discovering something new,’’ general manager Jacques Antoine Mury tells us over morning coffee at the hotel’s museum, where silverware that was once on our dinner table is displayed behind glass. The hotel, he says, has an almost mythical allure, attracting royals, presidents and Hollywood stars (the property was a stand-in for a colonial Phnom Penh hotel in the film The Killing Fields). In the high season, more than 60 percent of the guests are repeaters. Mury himself, a Swiss who has overseen hotels from San Francisco to Koh Samui, fell under its spell—he hopes to be at his job as long as possible, and maybe retire in Hua Hin.
‘it’s a fascinating jewel— inspired by royalty, built by an italian architect in pure edwardian style’
DAy 2 huA hIn tO nOm SAO BeAch 65 KIlOmeterS
Those who find today’s Hua Hin too busy often drive further south for another hour or so to where you can still have long sweeps of beach almost to yourself. Our first stop is Pak Nam Pran, very much a working fishing village with squid and shrimp sun-drying in the streets and superb eateries right on the water’s edge. From there we hug the coastline, past some smart resorts of recent vintage, to Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, the “Mountain with Three Hundred Peaks.’’ We retrace an earlier trip to the park’s Sam Phraya Beach, where a simple restaurant serves fresh seafood in a pavilion as the wind soughs through fringing trees. Shore birds, annual visitors from Siberia, peck in the surf and around us jagged limestone hills rise from headlands and offshore islands, homes of dusky langurs and the serow goat-antelope. We overnight at the very antithesis of Bangkok, on a beach right up against the park’s cliffs in what must be one of the most tranquil spots on mainland Thailand. To get to Brassiere Cozy »
From top: Fishing boats on the coast; at Phra nakhon Khiri; a longtail boat on the amphawa canal.
journal DrIve Beach, with its Mediterranean white and blue touches, we drive on the sand for the last few hundred meters. The name of the quirky 11-room resort refers to two conically shaped islands offshore called “Young Woman’s Breasts.’’ DAy 3 nOm SAO BeAch tO AmphAwA 165 KIlOmeterS
We backtrack most of the way to Bangkok but turn off the highway to Amphawa, a district of vast coconut plantations, villagers who travel by canals rather than roads and vendors plying their wares from boats at authentic floating markets (the Floating Market, a top mass tourist attraction, is also located here but best avoided). It is a precious vestige of the vanishing water world that once spread across central Thailand. Boutique hotels and restaurants line the central canal area now, and on holiday weekends walkways can be shoulder-to-shoulder with Thai tourists. But the area retains its charm, and its bygone atmosphere is reflected in the 14-room The Legend Maeklong, built in a colonial style on the banks of the Maeklong River. Originally the residence of a courtier serving Rama VI, it has remained in the family for three generations. From Amphawa, we choose a route through Nakhon Pathom, passing by one of the world’s tallest stupas, and approach Bangkok from the west. The city greets us not by high rises but with the spires of the Grand Palace. ✚
A DAy By the BAy
From top: sunset on horseback at Hua Hin beach; inner tubes on display also at Hua Hin beach; floating food vendors at amphawa.
GUide to drivinG to hUa hin StAy aleenta hua hin 183 moo 4, Pak nam Pran, Prachuab Khirikhan; 66-2/514-8112; doubles from Bt4,590.
centara Grand Beach resort and villas 1 damnernkasem rd., Hua Hin; 66-32/512-021; centarahotelsresorts.com; doubles from Bt4,000.
eAt sailom restaurant sailom Hotel; 29 Phetkasem rd., Hua Hin; 66-32/511-890; dinner for two Bt1,200.
anantara hua hin 43/1 Phetkasem Beach rd.; 6632/520-250; huahinanantara. com; doubles from Bt5,000.
evason hua hin 9/22 moo 5 Pak nam Pran; 66-32/618200; sixsenses.com; doubles from Bt2,625.
Brassiere cozy Beach 210 moo 5, sam roi yot, Prachuab Khirikhan; 66-2/5111397; brassierebeach.com; doubles from Bt4,000.
the legend maeklong 1285 Pathummalai rd., samut songkhram; 66-2/513-4913; thelegendmaeklong.com; doubles from Bt1,500.
sam phraya Beach restaurant sam roi yot national Park; 6686/044-0856; fried fish Bt300.
92 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
Udom photchana 312/1 moo 2, Pak nam Pran, Pranburi; 66-32/631-130; dinner for two Bt900.
See AnD DO maruekathaiyawan palace camp rama vi, cha-am; open 8 a.m.–4 p.m.; Bt30. phra nakhon khiri palace Phetchaburi; open 8:30 a.m.– 4:30 p.m.; entry Bt150. sam roi yot national park Prachuab Khiri Khan; open 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m.; Bt200. Wat ko keo suttharam Phetchaburi; open daylight hours; free.
f r o m t o p : at h I t p e r aw o n g m e t h a ( 2 ) ; © J a m e s n vat h o r n u n k o n g
we overnight on a beach in what must be one of the most tranquil spots on mainland thailand
tuscany’s secret coast BeacHFront trattorias. cliFFside Hotels. medieval villaGes. in a lesser-KnoWn corner oF italy, valerie WaterhoUse uneartHs a Wild reGion and its Hidden Gems. photoGraphed By anders overGaard
unSpOIlt cOuntrySIDe From left:
the saltwater pool overlooking the tyrrhenian sea at il Pellicano Hotel, in Porto ercole; a cypress-lined lane in località Badiola, in maremma, tuscany.
ccording to locals, the true heart of the Maremma runs along the Tyrrhenian coast, from Grosseto to Capalbio, and 50 kilometers inland to Mount Amiata. A hub for stylish new hotels and restaurants, it is also, I recently discovered, one of the most unspoiled regions in Italy, marked by pristine beaches fringed with umbrella-shaped maritime pines and cork-oak woodlands, where aristocratic families such as the Principe Corsinis still hunt for wild boar. As I explored the remote
Vini Montauto wine estate, in Manciano, I found a quiver of black-and-white porcupine quills; near Orbetello, I spotted pink flamingos grazing in the lagoon; and one night my car nearly collided with a low-flying barn owl. On the following pages, you’ll find my favorite spots, from the high-end to the reasonably priced, all of them within an easy drive of one another, and roughly a two-hour drive north of Rome. »
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 93
CAPALBIO The medieval village of Capalbio is the Maremma’s epicenter, and come summer, Italian politicians and actors fill its sidewalk trattorias and artisanal shops selling regional specialties such as piquant olive oils and house-made jams. From here, it’s a 15-minute drive southwest to the fashionable Ultima Spiaggia, the perfect spot for a beachside frittura di pesce. StAy
Until 2010 there were few decent boutique hotels in the Maremma. Enter locanda rossa (11B Strada CapalbioPescia Fiorentina, Capalbio; 39-0564/890-462; locandarossa. com; doubles from €254), a modern, eco-conscious retreat set on a 20-hectare olive farm. The Tuscan-red country house has a retro-chic feel, with its 12 beige-and-taupe rooms and four apartments accented with Allegra Hicks pillows and Taschen coffee-table books. At the osteria, the floor-toceiling windows look out onto a pool and rows of olive trees. If you’re seeking to live like royalty, check in to the tenuta marsiliana (Località Castello, Manciano; 39-339/566-1326; tenutamarsiliana.it; from €710 per week), an estate owned by the Principe Corsini family. The five accommodations range from a seven-bedroom hunting lodge with a collection of mounted boar heads and sketches by Corsini princesses to a former game warden’s three-bedroom cottage. There’s never a dull moment: sample regional wines, visit the castle, or simply take in the views of the countryside. 94 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
the la Polverosa grocery and bar, in orbetello. left: riccardo lepri leading a horse at the Pietriccio rosso di montauto. opposite: the junior suite at locanda rossa, in Capalbio; a view of the coastline from the cliffside il Pellicano Hotel.
eAt AnD DrInK
Die-hard locals would be up in arms if the menu ever changed at trattoria da maria (3 Piazza Carlo Giordano, Capalbio; 39-0564/ 896-014; dinner for two €94), where chef Fiorella Contarelli has been whipping up traditional dishes for more than 30 years. Try the house-made pappardelle with wild-hare ragù and crisp almond-flavored tozzetti biscuits dipped in sweet vin santo wine. Owned by fashion photographer Andrea Marchionni, the see-and-be-seen rosso e vino alla dogana (Località Graticciaia, Capalbio; 39-0564/890-344; dinner for two €80) draws a sophisticated set, who linger over seafood lunches on the veranda beside the silver sands of La Dogana beach. Despite its unappealing name, Bar la polverosa—“the Dusty One” (225 Strada Regionale Maremmana, Orbetello; 390564/878-076; drinks for two €10)—became a popular nightspot last year when it was revamped by Camilla Novellis di Coarazze. She updated the roadside bar, which doubles as a grocery store during the day, with cream rattan chairs and monochrome murals, and hosts raucous dance parties on Friday evenings that last until dawn.
treats—porcini-mushroom pâté; apricot-and-almond jam— using recipes that date back more than a century.
L’ARGENTARIO A mojito with fresh rosemary is the best way to kick off an evening in the candlelit garden at il Frantoio (10 Via Renato Fucini, Capalbio; 39-0564/ 896-484; dinner for two €100). What to order? Wedges of mouthwatering beefsteak, culled from the Maremma’s native cattle and cooked on a hot stone slab.
A thickly wooded, 60-square-kilometer promontory linked to the mainland by three causeways, L’Argentario has long been a vacation spot for wealthy Romans. Its main towns are Porto Santo Stefano, a flashy harbor for yachts, and the colorful Porto Ercole, where the Baroque painter Caravaggio died of malaria in 1610. There’s also the lively fishing port of Orbetello nearby, with its blue-tinged lagoon. StAy
See AnD DO
Inside Il Frantoio restaurant, la Bottega del Frantoio (10 Via Renato Fucini, Capalbio; 39-0564/896-484) stocks a wellcurated collection of local designers and classic Italian labels. Best bet: strawberry-colored velvet coats by Milan’s Tessuti Mimma Gini. A 12-meter mirrored tower with wheels and cogs on top; a mosaic dragon chasing a maiden; a multicolored horned devil—these are among the 22 sculptures based on tarot cards that French-born artist Niki de Saint Phalle created for il Giardino dei tarocchi (Località Garavicchio, Capalbio; 39-0564/895-122). Oenophiles won’t want to miss Fattoria le pupille (92A Piagge del Maiano, Grosseto; 39-0564/ 409-517), one of the Maremma’s most prestigious vineyards. Book a tasting of Saffredi, an award-winning red, or of the special reserves. The appropriately named c’era una volta a capalbio (14 Via Torino, Capalbio; 39-0564/890-662), which translates to “Once upon a time in Capalbio,” makes and sells artisanal
Down a narrow, winding road on the promontory’s southeastern tip stands the cliffside il pellicano hotel (Località Sbarcatello, Porto Ercole; 39-06/9435-7357; pellicanohotel.com; doubles from €640), a sheltered hideaway that attracts a high-flying clientele (yes, that’s Bono by the pool). Most of the 50 rooms—spread out between the main, Pompeii-red house and six freestanding villas—were recently refreshed by owners Roberto Sciò and his daughter Marie-Louise, who just published a book to celebrate 33 years of ownership. The country-cottage-style rooms (exposed-beam ceilings; terra-cotta floors) are done up with quirky accessories including pineapple-shaped ceramic lamps and sun mirrors. But the hotel’s ace in the hole is its waterfront location. eAt AnD DrInK
Contrasting ingredients such as slow-cooked egg with vanilla and white truffle or duck with pink grapefruit are the hallmarks of the elaborate platters prepared by chef » travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 95
Antonio Guida at ristorante il pellicano (Località Sbarcatello, Porto Ercole; 39-0564/858-275; dinner for two €200), which garnered two Michelin stars in 2010. The best tables are on the stone terrace overlooking the Tyrrhenian. Fishermen from Orbetello catch and then prepare the seafood at i pescatori (14 Via Giacomo Leopardi, Orbetello; 39-0564/860-611; dinner for two €65), a buzzy, no-airs restaurant in a brick-vaulted former stable run by the town’s fisheries cooperative. In summer, steaming portions of smoked Orbetello lagoon eel and spaghetti alla chitarra with shavings of bottarga (dried fish roe) are served on plastic plates to large outdoor tables of boisterous Italians. See AnD DO
Buy organic oranges, lemons and grapefruits from the lush orchard at azienda agraria Fratelli osio (136 Via Panoramica, Porto Santo Stefano; 39-339/703-1065). The estate also sells bottles of extra-virgin olive oil and dry wines from the surrounding vineyards that stretch to the shore. Golf fanatics will love argentario resort Golf & spa (Via Acquedotto Leopoldino, Porto Ercole; 39-0564/810-292; argentario golfresortspa.it; greens fees from €70), an ecologically certified 18-hole course with native cork-oak woodlands and lakes filled with moorhen and wild ducks. 96 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
Public transportation is scarce in the Maremma, so consider renting a car at Rome’s Leonardo da Vinci Airport, in Fiumicino, or Pisa’s Galileo Galilei International Airport (130 kilometers and 210 kilometers from Capalbio, respectively). Once you arrive, try Taxi Renato (39-366/3922147) or, in Saturnia/Manciano, contact driver Andrea Tramontana (39-339/528-4918).
SATURNIA This pink-stone village, part of the larger town of Manciano, dates back to Roman times, when nobles would “take the cure” at its sulfurous hot springs. Today, visitors can still soak up the benefits at the Cascate del Gorello, a public waterfall that cascades down natural limestone. Those seeking a more intimate experience check in to the exclusive Terme di Saturnia Spa & Golf Resort, where the same restorative waters gush into a private thermal pool. Thanks to the much-lauded Caino restaurant, Saturnia is also a popular detour for gastronomes. StAy
The biggest draw at terme di saturnia spa & Golf resort (Strada Provinciale Follonata, Manciano; 39-0564/600-111; termedisaturnia.it; doubles from €234) is, naturally, the thermal pool—the temperature reaches a sweltering 40 degrees (don’t be put off by the egg-scented air, which comes from the water’s high sulfur content). Also on site: a 5,000-square-meter beauty center, specializing in anti-aging
ItAlIAn IDyll From opposite page, left to right: the medieval village of Pereta, near Grosseto; photographer andrea marchionni (standing, left) with diners at his rosso e vino alla dogana restaurant, in Capalbio; il Pellicano; a view of the maremmani countryside.
treatments, and 140 spacious rooms outfitted with pine floors, travertine bathrooms and private stone balconies. “If you see fruit hanging from a tree, pick it,” says Fabrizio D’Ascenzi, whose family owns relais villa acquaviva (Strada Provinciale Scansanese, Manciano; 390564/602-890; relaisvillaacquaviva.com; doubles from €120), a hotel in a manicured garden dotted with strawberry and plum trees. The 25 rooms incorporate details such as handspun Sardinian bedspreads and bottles of Acquaviva’s wine. eAt AnD DrInK
An amuse-bouche of sweet and salty ice cream made from yellow tomatoes is enough to satisfy refined palates at
trattoria verdiana (Località Ponticello, Manciano; 390564/602-576; dinner for two €80). Chef Annarita Fontecchi and her husband grow a variety of vegetables and fruits in the restaurant’s garden to use for her comfort dishes. Though two inscribed Roman stones decreeing annual orgies stand outside i due cippi (26 Piazza Vittorio Veneto, Manciano; 39-0564/601-074; dinner for two €90), the historic restaurant is known only for gastronomic indulgences. Tables spill out onto Saturnia’s postcard-perfect main square, while inside, chefs cook quail, steak and cockerel over a wood-fired grill. The menu also includes fresh pastas. The hilltop village of Montemerano is home to the ninetable caino (3 Via Canonica, Manciano; 39-0564/460-2817; dinner for two €136). In the warm, wood-and-ocher dining room, guests sample experimental Tuscan delicacies by chef Valeria Piccini—salt cod with black truffles; vegetable minestrone with seasonal sorbets. This is food to be savored, so expect to be there at least three hours. See AnD DO
Pick up handmade burnt-orange or green hunting jackets in fustian, waxed cotton, velvet or wool at antica sartoria di maremma (Via del Colle, Pancole, Scansano; 39-0564/50309), a traditional tailor in nearby Pancole. ✚ travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 97
This year, T+L casts a wide net in our never-ending quest for lush landscapes and sybaritic seclusion. The timing is right for these tropical wonderlands, so get ready to kick off your flip-flops and sink your toes into the sand.
daniel j. groshong
The spectacular view towards Hera, from atop the Cristo Rei monument in Timor-Leste.
GreAt fOr Barefoot Elegance
Floating in azure seas just out of reach of Lombok’s lush Sire Peninsula, you’ll find the first of Indonesia’s three palmdappled, sugar-white sanded Gili Islands. When the migrating Bugis fishermen came calling from Sulawesi decades ago, they settled here first. Less sedate than Gili Meno and not as popular as rapidly developing Gili Trawangan, Air combines both space and vibrancy as increasing numbers of vacationing families, hippie chic nomads and chilled-out backpackers seek the island’s penny-wise international sophistication delivered with a distinctly Indonesian spice. The Aussie-owned franchise scallywags (scallywagsresort. com; dinner for two Rp200,000)
rAre AIr Clockwise from top: a moveable feast on the beach; snorkeling in the island’s crystal-clear waters; one of the local underwater residents. opposite: a perfect day at “dollar Beach,” in timor-leste.
100 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
was a game changer when they built a beach club worthy of Air’s widest, whitest beach, with cushy rattan seating, plush lounges, a killer sound system and an extensive menu. It’s hardly the only newcomer. Stroll the island and you’ll discover a tasty Italian bistro here, a world-class yoga studio there and alluring local greasy spoon kitchens where delectable, fiery meals cost less than US$2. Though tourism numbers are rising, Air has so far retained its village heritage and still feels like rural Indo. Cows and goats roam the island undisturbed, and vast tracts of powdery beach remain empty and ready for exploring. t+l tip When the sun drops at the end of the day, head for one of the beach bars on the northwest coast where the sunsets are Technicolor and the archipelago views are truly sublime.—Adam Skolnick c Lo c kw I s e f r o m to p L e f t: © s I m o n f u r Lo n g ; © g u oJ I e y I / I sto c k p h oto.co m ; c o u r t e sy o f g I L I pa r a D I s e .c o m ; o p p o s I t e : Da n J . g r o s h o n g
GreAt fOr Biodiversity
Asia’s newest nation is emerging as a destination that rewards the determined traveler. Bad roads, uninspiring hotels and a lack of tourist infrastructure can make Timor-Leste a challenge for traditional tourists, but perfect for those with a pioneering spirit. The human fossil record on the island dates back 40,000 years, and since that time there has been almost no industry, major fisheries or use of chemical fertilizers or pesticides, making Timor a leader in organic agriculture. What this means to the traveler is biodiversity. Marine biologists suggest that Timor could have some of the most biodiverse reefs on the planet, great news for snorkelers and divers. Timor also has one of the highest concentrations of marine mammals in the world and boasts a whale super-highway passing its shores from October to December. And with 261 identified avian species, including six species that can only be seen on Timor, it’s a birdwatcher’s paradise. t+l tip eco discovery tours (670/332-2454; ecodiscoveryeasttimor.com) offers a weeklong Sparrow Trail tour, which walks in the footsteps of the famous Australian commandos known as the Sparrow Force who fought Japanese troops here during the Second World War.—Daniel J. Groshong
GreAt fOr Hanging ten
If you’re going to Siargao, you’d best bring a surfboard. Curls of white foam are what lure most visitors to this southeast corner of the Philippines, to an island that defines laid-back. And if you want to fit into that crowd, know that it’s the heavy right-hand barrel reef break called cloud 9—named after a popular Filipino chocolate bar— that makes the visit worthwhile. Between August and November, the habagat, or southwest monsoon, makes this a surfing paradise. Maybe it’s the type of visitor, or just as likely it’s the teardrop-shaped island itself, but Siargao defines raw charm. Its sweep of quiet beaches and a forested interior aren’t home to much in the way of development, unless you consider palm roofs and dirt floors an intrusion. So don’t be surprised if the most crowded spot is that curling wave lined with surfers. On this lazy island, it might be the only time your heart will race during a visit. t+l tip If you want to brave the waves, but don't have the skills, check out Surf Camp Siargao (surfcampsiargao.com) for lessons on riding barrels and getting in the green room.—Christopher Kucway
ceruleAn SwImS Clockwise from top left:
c L o c k w I s e f r o m t o p L e f t : © p o L I n a p o m o r t s e va / D r e a m s t I m e . c o m ; c o u r t e s y o f a n a n ta r a r a s a n a n D a p h a n g a n ; © t r o p I c a L p I X / I sto c k p h oto s .co m ; o p p o s I t e : © f r a n c I s co g u e r r e r o
a long-tail boat afloat in the waters of Koh Phangan, Chalok la; the beachside infinity pool at anantara rasananda; a tropical beach on the island. opposite: duck diving under a curling wave at siargao in the Philippines.
Koh phangan tHailand
GreAt fOr Balance and flow
It’s not fair to say that Koh Phangan isn’t just for full moon partiers anymore, because it never really was in the first place. The island’s sheer size and abundant beauty has always made for ample opportunity to find secludedbeach bliss. That’s not to say the party vibe emanating from Haad Rin doesn’t have ripple effects, but it’s like the concentrate used to make a Thai lime soda—too intense in itself, but a welcome flavoring when diluted. The flavor is just right on Thong Nai Pan Yai and Noi, twin coves of a double bay on the northeast corner of the island with a great range of accommodation and restaurants. The most comfortable options include santiya resort & spa (6677/428-999; santhiya.com;
doubles from Bt10,000) and anantara rasananda phangan (66-77/239-555;
phangan-rasananda.anantara. com; doubles from Bt7,400), but the spot is at a stage in its development where good options at almost any budget is available. The beach at Yai is best for swimming, while Noi feels more peaceful because many of its establishments are set back in a small village. They include a new incarnation of local institution Flip-Flop pharmacy bar; Better than sex, a restaurant serving tasty pizzas and Burmese dishes; and the classic handsome Burger shack. t+l tip If you’re going with friends, rent a villa. Perched on the hills behind the bay, most offer inspiring sea views with amenities like fully stocked kitchens and maid service, at per-room rates that often beat what you’d pay at your average resort. —Richard Hermes travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 103
GreAt fOr Living like
Fiji tops lists in the South Pacific for its diving (with soft corals and pelagics), food (Indian curries in a land of fish and coconuts) and socializing. While every island in this uncommonly blissed out nation won’t disappoint, little-known Kadavu has the edge for having a little bit of everything at its several private beach resorts. Visitors fly into the main village, but beyond that everywhere on the island can be accessed by boat or on foot. Bright red, Kadavu shining parrots squawk along treecanopied trails that lead through villages where you’re often asked in for a bowl of grog, a drink made from the root of the mildly psychoactive kava plant with an important place in local culture. Children leap into waterfall pools and beckon you to join; nights are spent around the bilo (kava bowl) or with cold beer, 104 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
listening to the strum of an eclectic mix of songs that somehow everyone knows. Along the southeast coast of the island the Great Astrolabe Reef, one of the largest barrier reefs in the world, is famed for its manta rays and is considered one of the best popping and jigging fishing destinations on the planet; anglers catch giant trevally, wahoo, huge dogtooth tuna and more. Resorts are comfortable and social though not outrageously luxurious, save for the decadent, very private bungalows at koromakawa resort (koromakawa.com.fj; doubles from US$575 per night), fringing Ono Island. For big, bright bungalows and more activities than you’ll likely have time for, stay at the affordable and well-organized matava resort (matava.com; seven-night packages for two, including meals, US$1,185). t+l tip The best spot to see manta rays while snorkeling is off of Ono Island, to the north of Kadavu. —Celeste Brash
c L o c k w I s e f r o m t o p L e f t : c o u r t e s y o f m atava e c o r e s o r t ( 2 ) ; courtesy of meLanIe morrIs. opposIte: Lauryn Ishak
pAcIfIc SwIm Clockwise from left: a bungalow at matava resort; taking a dip in a cooling rock pool in Fiji; the best seat in the house for beach spotting. opposite: High up on Kelor island, just off of Flores, indonesia.
GreAt fOr Fantastical landscapes
Flores dazzles with its natural beauty and frightens at the same time; its mountaintops knife into the sky out of lush green folds, and it is home to 14 volcanoes and a national park where the main attraction is the lethal Komodo dragon. Here is the home of “hobbit” bones and volcanic lakes that change colors, Portuguese churches and green hot springs. After serpentine twists and turns along the single road that links one end with the other, it’s a joy to come across the coral-encircled kelor island off the west coast of Flores. There’s nothing here but a handful of trees, a steep grassy mound and a modest beach. The waters are clear, the equatorial sky a deep shade of blue and the only sound is of the breeze along the sea. The parched hills of Rinca Island, part of komodo national park, are a reminder that it’s still possible to get away from crowds entirely. Here, time slows down and will make you wonder if you can ever go back to a big city. t+l tip For some local color take the three-hour hike from Moni village to Kelimutu to check out its polychrome crater lakes: one is aquamarine green, one is blue and one is black.—Christopher Kucway
the togean Islands sulaWesi indonesia
GreAt fOr Getting away from it all
However you tackle it, getting to Sulawesi’s Togean Islands is a sweaty, stomach-churning voyage involving long bus trips and slow boats. So why make the effort? The world has countless strings of jungle-covered islands in aquamarine waters, but there’s something magical about this archipelago that sets it apart. Traditional Bajo “Sea Gypsy” boats putter between mangrove coastlines and sandrimmed islets, and often meet with frolicking dolphins. Vistors can hike through virgin tropical forests, swim in a saltwater lake filled with stinger-free jellyfish or just relax on beaches where at peak hours you may see up to five other people. At night, when the water glows with phosphorescence, it is hard to decide what is more captivating, the star-filled sky or the sea. Plus there’s little cell phone reception and no Internet, so disconnection is guaranteed. To really get the feel for the Togeans, rough it at one of about a dozen locally-run places such as the simple but spotless wooden beach bungalows of poya lisa cottages (62-812/3953-8575; US$15 per night including three meals) near Bomba. Those wanting more comfort should head to ultra-private, spa-equipped Walea dive resort (walea.com; seven-night packages from US$987). t+l tip Keen divers should charter a boat (from US$80 for up to 12 people) to Una Una Island, whose reef hosts gigantic organ pipe sponges and the region’s best corals. Non-divers can spend the day hiking Una Una’s active volcanic cone.—Celeste Brash
phu Quoc vietnam
c Lo c kw I s e f r o m to p r I g h t: © f I s f r a / D r e a m st I m e .co m ; co u rt e sy o f co L I n r o o h a n / f L I c k r .co m ; opposIte: ceLeste brash
GreAt fOr Beating the crowds
The inevitable arrival of throngs of tourists has hovered like a dark cloud over Phu Quoc for years. Thankfully, for now, it’s all blue skies and sunshine. The triangular island, less than an hour’s hop from Saigon, still offers secluded white sand beaches fringed with palm trees and dusty red dirt roads. Head south by moped from the semideveloped main town of Duong Dong to experience the island’s bucolic charms. With a map and a bit of luck you will eventually find Bai sao Beach along the southeastern coast. The isolated spot has postcardquality scenes of ivory sand under a gradually deepening sea of translucent turquoise water. To venture further offshore book a dive or snorkel trip at rainbow divers (11 Tran Hung Dao; 84-913/400-
964; divevietnam.com) among the coral playground off the northwest tip or the cluster of An Thoi islands down south. If you prefer a personal touch in your accommodation opt for cassia cottage (Ba Keo beach; 84-4/3928-4973; cassiacottage.com; sea view rooms from US$95), a beachside boutique resort offering a friendly, intimate atmosphere with just 18 brick cottages. Cassia’s American owner first came to the island to get into the peppercorn business in the late ’90s, and his passion is apparent at the hotel’s Spice House restaurant, which seasons dishes with heady black pepper and vanilla from their farm. t+l tip Get there soon. An international airport is scheduled to open later this year or early next and the government is planning an all-out push to increase yearly arrivals from the current level of around 280,000 to 2 million by 2020.—Karryn Miller
SecluDeD SAnDS top: tethered canoes
float at a quiet Phu Quoc beach. Below: exploring this boat-dotted stretch of vietnamese coast. opposite: a stretch of coastline in the tongean islands in sulawesi.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 107
In the heart of Europe is a land of mountains and lakes, castles and vineyards, quiet hotels and Mediterranean beachesâ€”all still, somehow, undiscovered and unknown. BY SCOTT SPENCER
PHOT OGRAPHED BY CHRISTIAN KERBER
Lake Bled, in northwestern Slovenia, with the town of Bled in the distance, and in the foreground, Bled Island and the Church of St. Mary.
may live to regret committing this piece of advice to print, but you should go to Slovenia and you should go soon, because eventually this all-butunknown country, with its medieval villages, oniondome spires, idealistic love of the arts and vigorous wines will no longer be hidden in plain sight. From its borders, clockwise from the north, you can step into Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy. It has Alps and wind-raked valleys, cobblestoned streets and modern highways winding through vineyards and farms. Slovenia is a place where a meandering car can suddenly be overtaken by a buzzing burst of touring cyclists in Day-Glo— it’s like finding oneself in a school of tropical fish—and then in a beat they’re gone, around the bend, heading for the next vowel-deprived village. Trbovlje, Krško, Črnomelj—in Slovene, even nearby Trieste, Italy, is spelled without a single vowel: Trst. Slovenia is also a place where anything resembling a river in anything resembling a town after dark in summertime will likely as not have great arcing bouquets of fireworks over it, accompanied by the sounds of artillery. Desk clerks, when asked, cannot come up with the occasion. Festival, anniversary? “We just like fireworks,” one confides. Slovenia was once part of Yugoslavia, which itself was created out of numerous Big Bangs and was, from the end of World War II to the 1990’s, held together under the firm but practical rule of a marshal, Josip Broz Tito, and his successors. Yugoslavia, though far from being an antiWestern country, and far from being an exclusively Socialist state, was part of the Eastern bloc, and when the Soviet Union and the other European Socialist countries began to fall in the late 1980’s, Slovenia was the first state within Yugoslavia to successfully declare its independence. There was a brief war with very few casualties. Soon, of course, all that remained of Yugoslavia was in tragic turmoil. Yet Slovenia remained remarkably peaceful in this brutal period, and its preference for tranquillity and civility is evident as soon as you enter the country. In 10 days, my girlfriend and I didn’t hear a raised voice, or see an untended garden. In fact, gardening seems like the national pastime, with cascading riots of blooms in every yard, on every balcony, foaming over the sides of ceramic pots and sprawling up walls and over trellises, all carefully groomed into one civil- and civic-minded aesthetic. How is it that every single garden exhibits this elegantly controlled chaos of color, that every stack of firewood looks like some kind of tongue-ingroove wooden puzzle that a genius child put together? It may simply be that it’s literally a way for a country that has been pressed like a flower between the leaves of a heavy book to bloom again.
In 1895, when Ljubljana was still a part of the once-powerful Austro-Hungarian Empire, the city suffered a major earth110 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
quake, and the most historic and picturesque sections of this small city that exist now were in fact built or rebuilt in the early 20th century. The leading architect of the time, Jože Plečnik, remains a revered figure in Slovenia; he designed the monumental Church of St. Francis, the bustling central market, the great university’s immense library and the city’s emblematic and always busy Triple Bridge, a graceful pedestrian-only cement trident across the narrow Ljubljanica River. His sometimes avant-garde, early modern style can be seen all over the city. The Slovenes’ reverence for Plečnik is rivaled by the high esteem in which they hold their great national poet, France Prešeren, whose Romantic lyrics written in the mid 19th century have been a spring from which the roots of Slovenia’s national identity have been nourished—in secret during times of subjugation and openly now in this time of autonomy and independence. It is telling of the nature of Slovenian historical consciousness, in this country where identity has been forged independently of political and military power, that a poet and an architect would be such major figures, the subjects of plaques and monuments through the country. Plečnik and Prešeren have an ideal meeting place in Ljubljana, where a statue of the poet stands a few meters from the Triple Bridge. Cross the water and walk anywhere you want along the riverfront and you see what seems to be an overwhelmingly Slovenian crowd enjoying beers, coffees, wines, gelati and pizzas in one another’s company in what on a particularly wine-woozy summer afternoon seems to be a cobblestoned paradise of murmuring voices and well-fed dogs. The city center is foot traffic and bikes only, there is no machinery noise to compete with. Where New Yorkers place cell phones on their tables like interactive bread plates, here they seem to have ashtrays instead. One trg (square) leads to the next—past a fair-trade children’s clothing store for idealistic young couples, galleries showing local artists, a shop devoted entirely to locally harvested salt and several others to gelato—until we are on Stari Trg, one of the most beautiful streets in Ljubljana. Following the wave-patterned sidewalk around the corner we’re at Gornji Trg and the Antiq Hotel, which was not very long ago a carpentry shop, and which is now firmly and delightfully exploring its own Mitteleuropa personality, with rattling teacups, floral carpeting, handmade lace (a Slovenian specialty), steep staircases that would befit Dr. Caligari himself and hallways full of sudden right turns and unexpected windows. Our windows open to the hotel’s back garden. It is here that we discover our first Slovenian to raise his voice. But in all fairness, it needs to be pointed out that this shrieking lad is not quite two years old, and he seems to be conversing with a butterscotch-colored house cat that could double as an ottoman. It is also here that we discover—and now, for a moment, Slovenia does become »
Biking near the university of ljubljana, in the center of town. From top right: the courtyard at the antiq Palace Hotel & spa, in ljubljana; the cityâ€™s iconic triple Bridge; a newsstand near the triple Bridge.
the setting for a horror story—we have neglected to pack our powerful sleeping pills. Do our shrieks rival those of the two-year-old? No, not at all. We tell ourselves that if need be we can secure new pills—better pills! stronger!—at some local pharmacy, where we will be able to get them without a prescription. We make a stab at sleep au naturel and end up instead back outside sitting along the water, watching random fireworks above and a group of folk dancers below, on a platform just above the Ljubljanica. After that, gelato, and a late-night stroll across the Dragon Bridge, adorned at its corners with queasily realistic dragons, their scales, claws and ribbed wings the perfect metaphor for first-night-in-aforeign-country insomnia.
hought: when you are traveling, there are certain things you can never understand. To wit, that mid-morning throng of teenagers, mostly girls, approaching the Triple Bridge, filling the air with laughter; one of them carrying an inflatable penis, two meters tall, as pink as bubblegum. The best thing to do is keep walking along the path from the city center, and in about 15 cardiovascular, birdsongy minutes, there it is, the city’s most prominent landmark, Ljubljana Castle, built in the ninth century, rebuilt in the 16th and variously used as a home for ruling nobles, a jail, a poorhouse and a military fortress. Up top, there’s a lovely outdoor café and a stall offering free books and magazines to anyone who wants to loll in the
112 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
sun and read. But most of the people here have hiked up for the magnificent views of the serene city below, its spires, its practically motionless canal and its strong sense of a people holding their collective breath while the storms of history pass over. Having failed to sleep at one Antiq Hotel we seek to change our luck by checking in to the rather more luxurious (yet equally offbeat) Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa. Once a palazzo built for a wealthy Austrian family as their in-town residence, when the Austrians fled Ljubljana during the chaos of World War I, the majestic stone structure was converted into an apartment house. But as the years passed, it eventually became derelict, and would remain so until two locals purchased it a few years ago and transformed this spectacular space into a showcase for their taste, a living example of their idea of comfort, intimacy and luxury. With its thick walls and high ceilings (most of them still bearing the original frescoes), the hotel stays warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and the rooms themselves are immense and eccentrically homey in their décor. In its public spaces, the hotel is a mix of courtyard and columns, whitewashed walls and Art Deco sconces. The winding, narrow street was built near one of the walls of Emona, as the city was called in its ancient Roman incarnation. Now the street is home to one of the city’s great music schools, and guests at the Antiq Palace can dine in the courtyard with background music supplied by students honing their skills a hundred meters away.
the village of Goče, in western slovenia. opposite: seaside dining in Piran, on the mediterranean coast.
The sounds of music are not only in the courtyard, but come pouring through the open French windows of our suite after dark. A block from the hotel in the newly restored Congress Square (designed by the ubiquitous Plečnik), 1,100 musicians and singers are rehearsing for a gala performance of Mahler’s massive Symphony No. 8, with teams of technicians setting up the stage and the sound system, and trumpeters accustoming themselves to their places on the stone balconies of the buildings that line the square. Valery Gergiev, the Russian conductor, and an orchestra and chorus made up primarily of Slovenes and Croatians carry the impromptu audience of passersby, diners and drinkers and wide-awake travelers through a spellbinding performance that captures the reach and ambition of this profound work. Much better than sleeping, even if sleeping were an option.
From Ljubljana to Ptuj is an easy drive on well-marked roads through luscious farmland, crops cultivated at 60-degree angles, pole beans as tall as two men, fields of corn and a steady procession of small towns, each one pinned to the landscape by a church spire. Ptuj straddles the Drava River, green as grass, but clear enough to show the vigorous webbed feet of the mallards etching chevrons as they move upstream. The town itself is a medieval maze of one-way streets, where women in capri pants somehow are able to nimbly negotiate the ankle-snapping cobblestones in defiant high
heels. Here, too, the cafés are full of conversation, relaxing, smoking, talking—miraculously immune to the fiendish tirade of Europop music, techno beats with random American phrases repeated over and over. Despite its susceptibility to this manufactured madness, Ptuj is also the home of several serious schools of music. As we walk along the Drava watching the lazy life of the river, from an open window wafts the sound of a fledgling string quartet. Ptuj has been open for business since the Stone Age, home to Celts, Magyars, Slavs and various Hapsburgs, whose double chins and imperious stares are on display in supposedly flattering portraits housed in the town’s great castle. Room after room of these vain faces are putting us on edge, not to mention their finery and table settings on display in glass cases and, most challenging of all, depictions of The Odyssey with cavorting noblemen and their girlfriends woven into tall tapestries. It’s possible we need a nap. Out onto the street, we find a used-book shop and spend what seems like a long, long, Salvador-Dalí-melted-clock amount of time browsing, finally purchasing a reader’s guide to The Godfather and a British edition of The Great Gatsby. Half a block away is the Hotel Mitra, where the wellness center looks like a high-tech cavern, with stone floors and linen drapes separating the cubicles and a hot tub big enough for a band. Massages ensue but they don’t push us any further toward sleep. “It is called lekarna,” a woman in the neighborhood explains, answering our question about locating a nearby » travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 113
st. George Cathedral, in Piran. From top left: on the shores of lake Bled; a family album at the Hotel Kendov dvorec, near idrija.
pharmacy. We follow her directions and find ourselves at a busy bus stop in front of a dry cleaner, retrace our steps and find ourselves in the quaint courtyard of a car-repair shop, retrace those steps until we come to some actual steps, take them, and eventually find ourselves at and then in the pharmacy, where I find myself in an inane charade. We both nervously peruse hot-water bottles, sunblock and scrunchies, while the young pharmacist, whose platinum dye job has failed to lighten her mood, watches balefully. Finally, I give her a piece of paper upon which I have carefully written the sleeping potion’s generic name. She seems neither shocked nor surprised. “You must go to emergency room,” she responds in a flat monotone. We don’t really see how we can go to an emergency room in the middle of the afternoon saying, “We can’t sleep!” But her tone has us cowed, shamed, and we end up buying some herbal product that she says might do us some good.
The landscape between Ptuj and Bled has the beautiful, utilitarian contours of a sailor’s knot, and we drive, winding our way through vineyards, up and down steep roads lined with limestone that is piebald with moss. Our resting place, just 114 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
outside Idrija, is the Hotel Kendov Dvorec, a graceful manor decorated with handmade lace and a Princess Grace type of Catholicism—cherubs lolling on tabletops and pedestals indoors and out. Vaguely ecclesiastical Muzak whispers from unseen speakers. We eat a long, slow dinner sitting on a high terrace. The waiter hadn’t so much memorized the menu as internalized it, steepling his fingers and closing his eyes to recite the items as they were brought out, plate after plate: a cold appetizer of smoked fish with chive cottage cheese and asparagus; a hot appetizer of polenta pillows in a lamb ragoût; cabbage soup made only with “outer leaves” and served with traditional chive bread; venison from the hills beyond with wild mushrooms, and trout with wild mushrooms; panna cotta with wild berries for dessert. Early the next morning, we leave the Hotel Kendov and drive to Bled. Pronounced just like it looks, there’s the town Bled and the Lake Bled and then the Vila Bled, where we’re staying. If you believed in vampires, this is where they would have their country home, and yet it’s the opposite of gloomy: a sun-drenched town clustered around a brilliant blue lake, home to a fairy-tale island with a church, set upon in the
summer by boats bearing brides and their grooms. We hike what seems like straight up the side of a cliff to Bled Castle, which turned 1,000 in 2011 and presides over not just the lake and the town but also what seems like the entire vast blue and green region, the views from its parapets and stone stairways sweeping and majestic. There’s a museum that tells the history of the region, a chapel, a Gutenberg printing press, an herbal gallery and a restaurant. Going back down the same way we came, we then take a turn around Lake Bled. Hemlock and chestnut and wildflowers, stands of blooming phlox, bikers, joggers and clusters of middle-class day-trippers splashing on the public beaches with their children and Chihuahuas, two large cygnets and a hissing parent swan, a gelato stand, flocks of ducks swimming along the banks and dozing on the grass. The luxury lakeside hotels make their presence known mostly in understated ways—brass-plated names on ivy-covered fences and boat landings accessible only by key. Ours has a wide staircase up from the water to an open-air veranda and restaurant. The Vila Bled served as a summer residence for the Yugoslav royal family and then for Tito, and the hotel staff is happy to show us through his quarters, a maze of polished oak cabinetry and floors with an incongruous number of coat hooks and a wall of sheer curtains overlooking trees and lake. A mural in the villa’s music room depicts the revolution, culminating in a mother with a child on her shoulder—a kind of socialist-realist Madonna and Child—muscles rippling, eyes radiating joy and purpose, waving a banner with a red star, an iconography that seems both thrilling and sad, coming as it does at the end of a long columned driveway and a parking lot dotted with late-model German cars.
A discovery we make the next day, strolling through the marble-clad Tartini Square in Piran, a medieval town on the tip of the Slovenian seaboard: regarding gelato, it’s possible to have chocolate that is too dark. It made us thirsty. Tartini Square is home to St. Peter’s Church and is surrounded by alleys opening onto alleys opening onto stairways and small, ancient-looking shops—it’s only unmotorized traffic through the cool stone streets. Five minutes’ walking in any direction and the sea, or the Gulf of Piran, is visible. Although there are most certainly better dining establishments down the intriguing streets of Piran, we go for the waterfront, where we can watch the sunset and people at the same time. The air turns a dark blue and a jazz combo starts up two doors down from our chosen spot. Our hotel is a few kilometers away, in Portorož: the Kempinski Palace, an opulent establishment overlooking a more traditional and touristed beachfront. At a late breakfast on the formal dining-room terrace, the buffet tables are laden with food as photogenic as the (other) diners. The house-baked cereal consists of dark wheat twigs, cashew quarters and crumbly granola.
We have of course also been sleeping through the night, no thanks to the herbal remedy from Ptuj, which has had as much impact on our sleep patterns as would wearing a white belt. What has allowed us to rest is that we have become accustomed to the bucolic mysteries of the place, and now it’s time to go home. For me, heading home is one of the greatest pleasures of travel, but today my heart is heavy, and it takes me a few moments to realize why. For the most part, when we travel we are always there a bit after the fact, chasing the thing that has already occurred. So much of traveling is doing what other travelers have done, but Slovenia, perhaps more than any place we have ever visited, belongs to us. Yes, it is a secret place, but it cannot remain so for much longer. ✚
GUide to slovenia N auStria
Maribor drava river
lake bled ljubljanica river italy ljubljana idrija
Gulf of Piran
trieSte Piran PortoroŽ
plAn major operators such as rei (rei.com) and Kensington tours (kensingtontours.com) offer guided tours of slovenia, or book with t+l a-list agents Greg tepper (greg@ exeterinternational.com) or Frederick Poe (fpoe@poetravel. com), who specialize in eastern europe. StAy antiq hotel 3 Gornji trg, ljubljana; antiqhotel.eu; doubles from €94. antiq palace hotel & spa 10 Gosposka ul., ljubljana; antiqpalace. com; doubles from €259. hotel kendov dvorec spodnja idrija; kendovdvorec.com; doubles from €180.
hotel mitra Ptuj; hotelmitra.si; doubles from €88. kempinski palace portorož kempinski. com; doubles from €950. vila Bled Bled; vila-bled.com; doubles from €140. eAt marley & me Popular spot with fresh ingredients and friendly service in an intimate, charming space. 9 stari trg, ljubljana; lunchcafe.si; lunch for two €50. tri vdove located on a waterfront promenade, the terrace is ideal for seafood dishes such as baked monkfish with mushrooms and potatoes. 4 Presernovo nabrežje, Piran; 386-5/673-0290;
lunch or dinner for two €50. vila prešeren restaurant contemporary mediterranean restaurant offering slovenian wines to go along with the lake views. 14 veslaška Promenada, Bled; villa-preseren.com; lunch or dinner for two €50. DO Bled castle 11 cesta svobode, Bled; blejski-grad.si. church of st. Francis Bolniška ul., ljubljana; slovenia.info. ljubljana castle 1 Grajska Planota, ljubljana; ljubljanski grad.si. ptuj castle 1 muzejski trg, Ptuj; 386-2/7788780; ptuj.info.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 115
Insiderâ€™s Guide to
The Hamptons Pack your bags: this is New Yorkâ€™s most pedigreed summer getaway, like only locals know it. Laura Begley Bloom opens her little black book.
Photographed by Theo Morrison
Dining in front of a painting by Marco La Villa at Ruschmeyerâ€™s, in Montauk, New York. Opposite: Montaukâ€™s Hither Hills State Park Beach.
On my first visit to the Hamptons some 20 years ago, I stayed with friends at a sprawling rental in Southampton. We hired a now-defunct taxi service (Mercedes-Benzes, of course) to take us to overpriced restaurants and red-rope clubs. It was exactly how I’d pictured Long Island’s South Fork—a bit pretentious for my tastes. But there was something about this beachy New York destination that spoke to me: the dramatic dunes; the shingled windmills; and that famous light that has attracted artists as varied as Jackson Pollock and Winslow Homer. So I kept coming back, renting houses with friends and staying at inns from Amagansett to Sag Harbor, East Hampton to Montauk. Eventually, I bought a cottage in Amagansett with my husband (whom I met at a bonfire on Atlantic Beach). Over the years, I’ve discovered a very different side to this coastal getaway. My Hamptons is all about low-key seafood shacks, quirky antiques shops and placid bays that are perfect for beachcombing. Sure, you might run into Paul McCartney at the local café or spot Gwyneth Paltrow’s kids selling lemonade at a makeshift stand—but that is just evidence of the Hamptons’ many faces. Read on for my highly selective guide.
hamptons at a Glance
its boundaries are often debated, but here’s a snapshot of the region, from west to east. 4 southampton manicured lawns and mansions behind hedges. old money is never far away. 5 Water mill a small town that’s really big on food. i’ve nicknamed it Water meal.
1 Westhampton the gateway to the region, with a quaint town center and a long beachfront.
6 Bridgehampton antiques shops and summer polo tournaments— need i say more?
2 quogue a quiet, blink-and-you’llmiss-it village; gracious old houses line the tree-shaded streets.
7 sagaponack rolling dunes and plenty of farm stands for locavores.
3 hampton Bays Has a distinctly nautical feel; boats almost outnumber residents. 118 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
8 Wainscott Barely a blip on the map, with some of the most expensive real estate in the nation. 9 east hampton the town that has
it all: shops, restaurants, beaches, celebs. 10 amagansett Best of the beach and bay; some pretty good live music, too. 11 montauk newly hip fishing town at the tip of the south Fork that still retains its old-fashioned charms. 12 sag harbor onetime whaling port turned artists’ enclave with year-round appeal. 13 shelter island a secluded retreat accessible by ferry or boat.
Where to Stay
the clASSIcS The Maidstone Arms, a sprawling Greek Revival inn overlooking the town pond, has been the place to stay in East Hampton for generations. A much-welcome overhaul gave it an offbeat new name, c/o the maidstone, and a Swedish design sensibility; most of the 16 rooms and three cottages are inspired by famous Scandinavians (Arne Jacobsen, Hans Christian Andersen, even Edvard Munch). Just down the street behind an ivy-covered façade is the Baker house 1650, with five Arts and Crafts–style rooms and two lovely outdoor pools. Another updated classic is the inn at quogue, in an 1824 farmhouse. The rooms now have a suitably beachy, if slightly cookie-cutter, feel. The american hotel, a red-brick Victorian in the center of Sag Harbor, stands in stark contrast: it hasn’t changed much since 1846. And that’s just how guests like it, with its faded elegance, backgammon tables in the lobby and a bartender who will soon know your name. Another popular dowager: Southampton’s 152-year-old a Butler’s manor, which is surrounded by lush English gardens. Each of the five individually decorated rooms is named after an estate where co-owner Christopher Allen—a former butler—once worked.
the exterior of c/o the maidstone, an inn in east Hampton, left. Below: a sitting area in the Kurbits Cottage, on the property.
the new GuArD By far the most luxurious hotel in the area is Amagansett’s inn at Windmill lane, briefly known as the Reform Club (rumor has it the owners changed the name because it sounded like a rehab center). It is worth the splurge: the seven suites have wood-burning fireplaces; each of the three cottages also has its own gym and steam room. In Montauk, ruschmeyer’s is a summer camp for grown-ups. Think cabins clustered around a decorative tepee, bingo nights, Ping-Pong and a bar in an oversize sandbox. solé east resort is set in a Tudor-style house, with 61 whitewashed rooms; an allée of bamboo leads to eight garden cabanas out back. On Shelter Island, la maison Blanche, named after a hotel in St.-Tropez, channels the south of France: pétanque courts, a Gallic brasserie and an authentic boulangerie. wAterfrOnt hOtelS There are surprisingly
few good hotels on the water in the Hamptons, but the rooms are clean and simple at Amagansett’s White sands resort hotel, smack on a spectacular Atlantic beach. Worth booking for the ocean views alone is Montauk’s hillside panoramic view resort & residences; the pastel bathrooms and kitchenettes betray its previous life as a 1950’s motel. On » travelandleisureasia.com | june 2012 93
a cottage in sag Harbor, above. on a deck near montauk’s ditch Plains Beach, top right. opposite, clockwise from top left: appetizers at tutto il Giorno, in southampton; c/o the maidstone’s Cozy lounge; vicki’s veggies, a farm stand in amagansett.
a small islet, the montauk yacht club resort & marina has a scaled-down replica of the town’s famous lighthouse, not to mention three pools, four tennis courts, a spa and a marina. For a dose of glamour by the sea, check out Shelter Island’s sunset Beach, which has a vibrant social scene, its own brand of rosé and spectacular sunsets (as the name would suggest). Last summer, owner André Balazs introduced StndAir, a bright red seaplane from Manhattan to East Hampton that sometimes lands in the cove in front of the hotel. One-way rates start at a very democratic US$99—though those seats go fast.
Where to Eat
the hOt DISh The East End is buzzing with anticipation over chef Tom Colicchio’s long-awaited topping rose house, set to open late this season in an 1800’s Bridgehampton mansion. (There will also be an adjoining hotel, designed by Alexandra Champalimaud of Hotel Bel-Air fame.) Where to eat in the meantime? Foodies flock to Shelter Island’s vine street café for crisp calamari salad and miso salmon in a simple space with high, beamed ceilings. There’s a trio of gourmet finds hidden away in the tiny town of Water Mill: robert’s, which serves meticulously prepared Italian cuisine in a 1670 stagecoach house; mirko’s, run by a husband-and-wife team (she works the 120 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
room while he’s in the kitchen making his famous Croatian stuffed cabbage); and dish, a BYOB restaurant with only 16 seats (a charming touch: several days out, the owner confirms your reservation by e-mail and sends along the evening’s prix fixe menu). It’s no surprise that Gabby Karan De Felice’s tutto il Giorno is so stylish, considering her mother is Donna Karan; the lusty dishes range from branzino al forno to house-made pappardelle. The restaurant has two locations: Sag Harbor (the original) and Southampton. In Montauk, two places are adding to the town’s new culinary cred: navy Beach, a former surfer’s bar right on the sand with a great menu of ceviches, and the waterfront crow’s nest, a rusticchic spot from hipster hotelier Sean MacPherson. fArm (AnD OceAn) tO tABle Despite all the
changes, the South Fork is still home to fishermen who make a living offshore and family farms that have been around for generations—providing ample resources for chefs such as Joe Isidori at Bridgehampton’s southfork kitchen. He has gained a following for his unswerving commitment to sustainable seafood, fresh produce and Long Island wines. The most coveted reservation continues to be East Hampton’s 24-year-old nick & toni’s, which is a who’s who: Howard Stern, Lou Reed and Naomi
Watts, just to name a few. Chef Joseph Realmuto sources from the best local purveyors for such dishes as dandelion greens and pork-belly croutons in a white-anchovy vinaigrette. In Montauk, Jennifer Meadows, the adorable chef-owner of Fishbar, is so friendly with the fishermen that she radios them when they’re at sea to check out what they’ve caught. This summer, she’s opening Bliss kitchen, an eclectic takeaway with a fleet of tacodelivery bikes buzzing around town. One of the toughest tables to get in Montauk is at dave’s Grill. In-the-know diners start dialing at 4:15 p.m.—when the reservation line opens—to sample hearty cioppino and onion-and-potato-crusted flounder. SeAfOOD ShAcKS There’s nothing like a platter of good old fried oysters or steamers by the sea. At canal café, tucked into a Hampton Bays marina, you’ll get one of the most generous lobster rolls around—plus great water views and salty air in your hair. In a weathered cottage on Sag Harbor’s wharf, groupies line up at the dock house for the clam chowder and steamed lobsters; the live specimens are kept in an antique bathtub next to the front door. You can’t get a better endorsement than chef Bobby Flay, who has been spotted at Bostwick’s chowder house, East Hampton’s destination for shoreside favorites. On the stretch between Montauk and Amagansett, look for the yellow-andwhite-striped umbrellas: the open-air clam Bar serves simple seafood (I prefer it to the more »
Pink Chicken, a boutique for kids and moms in Amagansett, far left. Left: The Montauk Point Lighthouse. Below: Claudja Bicalho at her Amagansett shop, Lazypoint. .
famous Lunch, a.k.a. the Lobster Roll, down the street). Bring a bottle of rosé to Duryea’s Lobster Deck, set on a rocky Montauk outcropping and renowned for its well-priced lobster. Just be prepared for a long wait. Best Breakfasts Almost as social as dinner, breakfast is an institution in these parts. So local residents were devastated when the decades-old Fairway Restaurant, at Sagaponack’s Poxabogue Golf Center, lost its lease in 2010. After a heated battle with the town, it soon reopened, looking as retro as ever and once again supplying happy Hamptonites with no-fuss bacon and eggs. Another unassuming cult spot in a 1959 Hampton Bays motel is the Hampton Maid, known for its fluffy omelettes and decadent French toast. A few notches up on the culinary barometer is Estia’s Little Kitchen, a modern-Mexican roadhouse in Bridgehampton where regular Alec Baldwin has a menu item named after him: the egg-white “Big Al’s Burrito.” In Amagansett, the cheddar-scallion scones alone are worth the wait at Mary’s Marvelous, a low-key neighborhood haunt that also makes addictive cookies and sweets. You’ll also encounter lines outside Montauk’s Mr. John’s Pancake House for such indulgent combinations as the “ET” (chocolate and peanut-butter chips) and the “sabre” (coconut-filled and topped with coconut syrup). On a health kick? Follow the surf crowd to Joni’s for whole-wheat breakfast burritos and chai lattes.
Where to Shop
Farm Stands and Wineries The surrounding landscape used to be covered with potato fields; now heirloom tomatoes, baby beets and wine grapes are some of the crops of choice. And that means a plethora of places to find the local bounty. When
Rocco DiSpirito wants to make Mexican corn with chili mayo, he stocks up on the ingredients at Water Mill’s Green thumb organic Farm. After buying cheeses, fruit pies and grass-fed beef at Bridgehampton’s Fairview Farm at mecox, make your way through the winding corn maze. Set under huge chestnut trees in East Hampton, round swamp Farm sells everything from guacamole to chocolate-chip muffins. Perhaps the most atmospheric stand is vicki’s veggies, a bright red gem in Amagansett for just-harvested corn and incredible pies baked by Vicki herself (regulars are allowed access to the pick-your-own-herb garden out back). And of course, any trip to this end of Long Island wouldn’t be complete without stopping off at a wine tasting. My choices: Bridgehampton’s channing daughters Winery, where the vineyards are dotted with the owner’s sculpture collection, and Sagaponack’s Wölffer estate vineyard, which hosts free Friday jazz sessions at sunset, overlooking the vines. clOthInG AnD mOre Making a sartorial statement
here means standing out from the pack, so I seek out boutiques with an individual point of view. In an Amagansett cottage, Brazilian-born Claudja Bicalho and her Australian husband, Mark Wilson, run lazypoint, full of sexy-but-sophisticated clothes and jewelry found during their world travels. Down the street, the colorful pink chicken outfits pint-size beachgoers in floral dresses and tunics (there are some matching mom looks too). In a converted Wainscott diner, tomas maier (you know him as the creative director of Bottega Veneta) sells some of the most arresting (and form-flattering) swimwear around. At Jennifer miller Jewelry in Southampton and East Hampton, the baubles are perfect for a glittering poolside party. Among East Hampton’s other enticing one-off boutiques is the monogram shop: love the personalized totes and the cocktail napkins emblazoned with cheeky phrases like forced family fun and have you seen my contractor? The Frenchinfluenced *share with...montauk is the location for the authentic striped fishermen’s tops that everyone is wearing lately. Elizabeth Donnarumma left her career as a brand manager to open Quogue’s homespun; there’s a grab bag of summery finds, from sea-themed linens to silver sailcloth beach bags. Speaking of sailcloth, all of Shelter Island’s shelterego is wrapped in it; the breezy shop stocks both the fashionable (earrings woven from golden thread) and the eccentric, like the wooden pig bookends my motherin-law bought for my house.
AntIQueS Thanks to wealthy homeowners who have money to burn (and decorators to help burn it), the Hamptons has its share of wildly overpriced antiques stores. But there are a few reasonable gems, if you know where to look. My top source is Sag Harbor’s weekends-only sage street antiques. Get there when it opens: owner Eliza Werner’s selection of etched glassware, Art Deco lamps, nautical relics and white-painted dressers moves fast. Nearby, the highly personalized ruby Beets mixes in new treasures such as handblown glass lamps with the antiques. On Shelter Island, marika’s eclectic Boutique looks like a flea market: Heywood-Wakefield tables, bamboo bar carts and iron garden furniture spill out into the front yard. Similarly, you never know what you’ll uncover at collette home, an interiors consignment shop in Southampton. On a recent visit, I spied a vintage wooden racing car and a set of metal Navy chairs. (Collette also has sister shops in Southampton and Sag Harbor for secondhand designer clothes.) Set in a Bridgehampton farmhouse, laurin copen antiques is more refined, with its Sweden-meets– South Fork sensibility. On the other end of the spectrum is melet mercantile, in an unassuming Montauk garage where Bob Melet—former director of vintage buying at Ralph Lauren—displays used surfboards, 1970’s rock concert T-shirts and other offbeat discoveries.
What to Do
hIStOrIc hOuSeS Artists have long made the
Hamptons a studio by the sea. Perhaps two of the most famous residents were Jackson Pollock and his wife, Lee Krasner; at the pollock-krasner house & study center, in East Hampton’s Springs area, you can tour their 1879 residence and studio, complete with paint splotches on the floor. Not to miss on the other side of East Hampton is the longhouse reserve, founded by textile designer and crafts expert Jack Lenor Larsen. Works by artists Willem de Kooning and Sol LeWitt dot the spacious gardens. muSeumS Another top East Hampton destination is Guild hall, a center for visual and performing arts. Board member Alec Baldwin often hosts readings and theater performances; this August, the museum will be turned over to Eric Fischl’s beach paintings. In Southampton, the well-regarded parrish art museum, established in 1897, is about to move its collection of 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century American art into a dazzling new Water Mill » travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 123
space designed by Herzog & de Meuron. Run by the Dia Art Foundation, Bridgehampton’s dan Flavin art institute displays the artist’s light sculptures in a former firehouse and church. ADventure One of the joys of a visit here is getting out into the fresh air. When designer Tory Burch wanted her kids to have surfing lessons, she hired Flying point surf school, in Southampton, which also helps adults learn to ride the waves. Not feeling quite as intrepid? Girls can try their hand at the newly popular sport of stand-up paddleboarding with paddle diva. (Guys can get in on the action at Wainscott’s main Beach surf & sport.) There are plenty of bays for kayaking; one of my favorites is the serenely beautiful Accabonac Harbor. Rent kayaks from East Hampton’s picture-perfect springs General store. A sportfishing capital, Montauk has a marina that is crowded with charter boats. One of the top guides is expert angler and photographer Jim levison, who will take you on saltwater fly-fishing expeditions. nAture trAIlS Don’t miss the hither hills state park Walking dunes trail: hidden between
Amagansett and Montauk, these shifting mountains
of sand move nearly a meter a year. Near Sag Harbor, the birds eat right out of your hand at the elizabeth a. morton national Wildlife refuge. On Shelter Island, the nature conservancy’s mashomack preserve offers hiking trails through various ecosystems and past kettle holes formed by glaciers during the Ice Age. After DArK The nightlife scene is a mixed bag: I usually prefer walking on a moonlit beach to standing in line for a club. But when I’m feeling social, a few places are worth the effort. Among them are Amagansett’s stephen talkhouse, which hosts acts like Jimmy Buffett. At the capri, in Southampton, the poolside Bathing Club wakes up when the DJ’s start spinning. In Montauk, the buzzing surf lodge had come under criticism for its crowds of latenight revelers: the new management promises a more mellow scene, so you can peacefully sip mojitos by the waterfront fire pit. And the season wouldn’t be complete without the Fourth of July party at rick’s crabby cowboy café & marina, in Montauk, a down-and-dirty seafood joint that comes alive one night of the year. Filled with celebs and locals, it’s a can’t-miss affair that defines summer in the Hamptons. ✚
GUide to the hamptons GettInG ArOunD it’s a good idea to have a car, but be aware that many of the beaches have parking regulations; most hotels will provide a pass. AmAGAnSett stay inn at Windmill lane innatwindmilllane.com; doubles from us$800. White sands resort hotel whitesandsresort.com; doubles from us$175. eat amagansett seafood store 517 montauk Hwy.; 1-631/267-6015; dinner for two us$20. clam Bar 2025 montauk Hwy.; clambaronline.com; dinner for two us$50. mary’s marvelous 207 main st.; marysmarvelous.com; lunch for two us$25. shop lazypoint 303 main st.; 1-631/604-2870.
pink chicken 137 main st.; pinkchicken.com. vicki’s veggies 596 montauk Hwy.; 1-631/267-8272. do hither hills state park Walking dunes trail napeague Harbor rd. stephen talkhouse 161 main st.; stephentalkhouse.com. BrIDGehAmptOn eat estia’s little kitchen 1615 Bridgehampton/sag Harbor tpk.; eatshampton. com; dinner for two us$60. southfork kitchen 203 Bridgehampton/sag Harbor tpk.; southforkkitchen.com; dinner for two us$135. topping rose house 1 Bridgehampton/sagHarbor tpk.; toppingrosehouse.com; dinner for two us$125.
124 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
shop Fairview Farm at mecox 69 Horsemill lane; fairviewfarmatmecox.com. laurin copen antiques 1703 montauk Hwy.; laurincopenantiques.com. do channing daughters Winery 1927 scuttlehole rd.; channingdaughters.com. dan Flavin art institute 23 corwith ave.; diacenter.org. eASt hAmptOn stay Baker house 1650 bakerhouse1650.com; doubles from us$950. c/o the maidstone themaidstone.com; doubles from us$545. eat Bostwick’s chowder house 277 Pantigo rd.; dinner for two us$60. lucy’s Whey 80 n. main st.; lucyswhey.com.
nick & toni’s 136 n. main st.; dinner for two us$100. shop Jennifer miller Jewelry 55 main st.; jennifermillerjewelry.com. monogram shop 7 newtown lane; themonogramshops.com. round swamp Farm 184 three mile Harbor rd. do Guild hall 158 main st.; guildhall.org. longhouse reserve 133 Hands creek rd.; longhouse.org. paddle diva paddlediva. com. pollock-krasner house 830 springs-Fireplace rd.; pkhouse.org. springs General store 29 old stone Hwy.; springsgeneralstore.com. hAmptOn BAyS eat canal café 44 newtown
rd.; thecanalcafe.com; dinner for two us$100. hampton maid 259 montauk Hwy.; hamptonmaid.com; dinner for two us$20. mOntAuK stay montauk yacht club montaukyachtclub.com; doubles from us$349. panoramic view resort panoramicview.com; doubles from us$395. ruschmeyer’s kingandgrove.com; doubles from us$250. solé east resort soleeast. com; doubles from us$250. eat Bliss kitchen 732 montauk Hwy.; blissmtk.com; dinner for two us$25. crow’s nest 4 old West lake dr.; dinner for two us$75. dave’s Grill 468 W. lake
montauk’s navy Beach restaurant, above. right: at Channing daughters winery, in Bridgehampton.
dr.; davesgrill.com; dinner for two us$120. ditch Witch ditch Plains Beach; no phone; dinner for two us$20. duryea’s lobster deck 65 tuthill rd.; duryealobsters. com; dinner for two us$90. Fishbar 467 e. lake dr.; freshlocalfish.com; dinner for two us$80. Joni’s 9 s. edison st.; 1-631/668-3663; dinner for two us$20. mr. John’s pancake house 721 main st.; 631/668-2383; lunch for two us$20. navy Beach 16 navy rd.; navybeach.com; dinner for two us$85. rick’s crabby cowboy café 435 e. lake dr.; crabbycowboy.com; dinner for two us$50. shop melet mercantile 102 industrial rd.; 1-631/6689080.
*share with...montauk 764 montauk Hwy.; sharewith.org. QuOGue stay inn at quogue innatquo gue.com; doubles from us$325. SAGApOnAcK eat Fairway restaurant 3556 montauk Hwy.; 631/3217100; lunch for two us$20. sagg store 542 sagg main st.; 1-631/537-0233; lunch for two us$20. do Wölffer estate vineyard 139 sagg rd.; wolffer.com. SAG hArBOr stay american hotel theamericanhotel.com; doubles from us$250. eat dock house 1 long Wharf;
dockhouseny.com; dinner for two us$75. tutto il Giorno 6 Bay st.; 1-631/725-7009; dinner for two us$125. shop ruby Beets 25 Washington st.; rubybeets.com. sage street antiques 114 division st.; 631/725-4036. do elizabeth a. morton national Wildlife refuge 784 noyack rd.; 1-631/ 286-0485. Shelter ISlAnD stay la maison Blanche maisonblanchehotel.com; doubles from us$75. sunset Beach sunsetbeach li.com; doubles from us$345. eat Bob’s Fish market 87 n. Ferry rd.; 1-631/749-0830; dinner for two us$20. vine street café 41 s.
Ferry rd.; dinner for two us$100.
Hampton rd.; colletteconsignment.com.
shop marika’s eclectic Boutique 6 s. Ferry rd.; marikasantiques.com. shelterego 183 n. Ferry rd.; shelterego.com.
Jennifer miller Jewelry 28 jobs lane; jennifermillerjewelry.com.
do the nature conservancy’s mashomack preserve 1-631/749-1001; nature.org. SOuthAmptOn stay a Butler’s manor abutlersmanor.com; doubles from us$350. eat Blue duck Bakery café 30 Hampton rd.; blueduckbakerycafe.com; dinner for two us$20. tutto il Giorno 56 nugent st.; 1-631/377-3611; dinner for two us$120. shop collette home 25
do parrish art museum 25 jobs lane; parrishart.org. wAInScOtt shop tomas maier 411 montauk Hwy.; tomasmaier.com. wAter mIll eat dish 760 montauk Hwy.; 1-631/726-0246; dinner for two us$120. mirko’s 670 montauk Hwy.; dinner for two us$120. robert’s 755 montauk Hwy.; dinner for two us$125. weSthAmptOn eat Beach Bakery café 112 main st.; lunch for two us$20.
travelandleisureasia.com | july 2012 125
mAcAu, chInA “I was in Macau for one day and took this at a junction in front of the Grand Lisboa casino. I like the fact that underneath the vivid colors there’s a suggestion of a driver. He’s transient, just passing through the scene. Like any traveler, I was transient too—we moved from neighborhoods where we had sticky-sweet meats and unfamiliar drinks to places where the buildings suddenly exploded in size. At night it comes alive, but during the day the spaces between the larger, newer buildings seemed desolate compared to the old plazas. The contrast made it impossible to tell whether new Macau was vibrant or underpopulated, growing or subsiding. The shot was tricky because it was raining and I was walking out into the road, dodging traffic and studying the cars queuing at the junction to see which ones reflected the scene best. Drivers in Macau didn’t seem accustomed to a tall, long-haired guy standing a meter from their cars with a camera, squatting up and down in a maniacal fashion. I was staring at reflections, but they thought I was peering at them. I got some strange looks.” ✚ p ho t o g r a p he r l au r i e no ble • i n tervi ew ed by r i char d her mes 126 july 2012 | travelandleisureasia.com
00 montH 2010 travelandleisure.com