VOLUME 3 • AUTUMN 2014
COUNTRYSIDE SOJOURNS Three Undulating and Alluring Rural Landscapes
On Top of the World
South American Splendour
Unforgettable Island Spectacles
The Season’s Best Bike Trails
CONTENTS AUTUMN 2014
FLAVOUR Chef Will Meyrick: From the Streets to the Kitchen The culinary master on street food, travel and his new HK lady love
GLOBETROTTERS Rhythm and Balance Two fine personas to get to know better
ARTS & DESIGN The Digital Face of the Art World Breaking new ground as art and technology join forces
BUSINESS Dividend Income: Looking Beyond the Short Term How a little foresight can bring you a long way
FASHION Highland Recluse Wild beauty amidst rough terrains
COVER STORY Countryside Calling Three picturesque journeys to higher grounds
Volume 3 Autumn 2014 July-September
DESTINATION DIARY A Sumptuous Koh Samui Sidetrip Everlasting memories of a tropical gem
TRAVEL Exploring Ecuador Rediscovering an array of natural and cultural wonders
Phuket: Pure Pleasure A weekend of reverie in Phuketâ€™s most divine coasts
Taking on Tibet The grandeur of high-altitude scenery
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS Autumn in New York An assemblage of perspectives on the season of change
BESPOKE JOURNEYS Wanderlust on (Two) Wheels Pedalling for culture and adventure
Featured Contributors KAILA KRAYEWSKI As a journalist, Kaila has seen some of the most exciting destinations in Asia. For this issue, she’s TAKING ON TIBET for the very first time. Find out why for this Canadian traveller, Tibet is as close to heaven as anyone can get.
VIOLA RAIKHEL-BOLOT As co-founder and Managing Director of 1858 Ltd Art Advisory, Viola has closely followed the exciting developments in the art world. In her piece THE DIGITAL FACE OF THE ART WORLD, this sought-after art lecturer presents what the future holds for contemporary art in the age of tablets and smartphones.
Kat Modelo Efenio firstname.lastname@example.org
SJ Roxas email@example.com
Den Fajardo firstname.lastname@example.org
Mario Banzon email@example.com
Tabitha Jules Cariaga firstname.lastname@example.org
Mary Jessie Efenio email@example.com
Jeff Litan firstname.lastname@example.org Emilie Joan Cruz email@example.com
TAI HUI Patience is indeed a virtue as the Managing Director and Chief Market Strategist Asia for JP Morgan Funds stresses. Expounding on the long-term benefits of investing in a dividend income strategy, DIVIDEND INCOME: LOOKING BEYOND THE SHORT TERM is a must-read for anyone investing in Asia this year.
Bob Clutario firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Viola Raikhel-Bolot, Tai Hui, Kaila Krayewski, Mary Morton, Isobel Tsin CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS
MARY MORTON When Mary is not busy being a mother and the director at Spice and Soul, a growing PR and Marketing agency based in Australia, she heads off to the next exciting travel destination. This year, the lawyer-turned-PR specialist landed on Ecuador and she tells all the treasures to be found at the centre of the earth in EXPLORING ECUADOR.
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Navid Baraty, Franck Bohbot, Ximena Cabezas, Abdul Hye, Aleks Ivic, Isabel Maldonado, Ross Reyes, Rebeca Saborio, Rodrigo Medel Santibáñez, Kate Sheffield, Bert Smit PRINTED BY: PARAMOUNT PRINTING COMPANY LIMITED 1/F 8 Chun Ying Street, Tseung Kwan O Industrial Estate Tseung Kwan O, New Territories, Hong Kong Published by Travelite Magazine Company Limited. All rights, including the name of this publication are owned by Travelite Magazine Company Limited. No part of this publication may be reproduced without permission. Travelite Magazine believes that the information herein was obtained from reliable sources, but it does not guarantee its accuracy. Opinions expressed are those of the writers and contributors and not necessarily endorsed by the publisher. Information supplied for advertising purposes is the responsibility of the advertisers, and no advertisement is to be deemed an endorsement of the publisher. The publisher does not accept responsibility for entries supplied by individuals or companies including but not limited to typographical errors and copyright of all supplied materials. Travelite Magazine takes no responsibility for the price differences stated within. All prices are in US dollars, based on the currency rates at the time of print. TRAVELITE MAGAZINE COMPANY LIMITED Room 103, Tak Lok House, Tak Tin Estate Lam Tin, Kowloon, Hong Kong
trav–el–ite Travel for the elite
all, the season of change, sees many transformations to Travelite. We went as bold as we could, from renamed sections to a noticeable new look. As it happens, we are also celebrating our second anniversary
with this issue, and it not only justifies the changes, but also makes it a fitting tribute. I can’t think of a better way to introduce this season than with a peek at the Big Apple. It is, after all, one of the world’s most loved autumn destinations, which we showcased through a collection of beautiful photographs. With a newfound thirst for adventure, we take you to no less than three breathtaking landscapes, yours to explore without inhibition. A quick island stopover awaits with a short but definitely sweet trip to Koh Samui and, if you have more time to spare, Phuket’s storied beaches are yours to rediscover over the weekend. While you’re still wandering about in Asia, a heartwarming exploration of Tibet is one adventure you cannot miss. Journeying further, South America’s unspoilt wonder, Ecuador, surprises with a handful of remarkable experiences. For your last stop, we introduce a new section, Bespoke Journeys – starting with lovely cycling tours tailored for three types of adventure-seekers. The shift in seasons can bring about change anywhere from weather to your perspective. To match is our gorgeous fashion editorial shot in Batanes, a bucket-list worthy destination in the Philippines, ready to inspire you to tread new grounds and new territories in style. From meaningful journeys to more rewarding experiences, the best is yet to come. And we thank you, avid readers, for celebrating this milestone with us.
Photography PAELO PEDRAJAS Styling JAMES SCOTT Model NIKOLINA Ideal People Model Management Hair & Make-up ANTON PATDU for MAC Cosmetics
SPECIAL THANKS Skyjet Airlines www.skyjetair.com Batanes Travel & Tours provides reasonable packages for hassle-free trips to the northernmost province of the Philippines. Offering flights, accommodations and personalised private tours, Batanes Travel & Tours makes the journey delightful from start to finish. Batanes +632 400 0992, +63915 201 2755,
Shot on location in Batanes, Philippines
+63932 863 6125, +63998 984 4359 Manila +632 781 5587, +63917 892 2552,
Cover Outfit Black velvet coat, Black flannel jumpsuit, Vegetal leather & chain strap belt, Short tulle gloves, Matilda sandals, GIVENCHY
+63939 905 2699 firstname.lastname@example.org www.batanestravelandtours.com
TRAVELITE AT YOUR FINGERTIPS W herever your lavish journeys take you, the ultimate guide to luxurious travel is always within your reach at WWW.TRAVELITEMAGAZINE.COM
A mere click is all it takes to get the best of lifestyle updates as featured in every corner of Travelite Magazineâ€™s online abode. Flip through the web version of the magazine and dream up the trip of a lifetime while exploring the most sought-after hotels, restaurants, art galleries, and other international hot spots, with a turn of every page. Before jetting off to your next getaway, check Destination Hotlist for valuable insider tips that will make all the difference to your journey. Meanwhile, Travelogue is an engaging diary filled with inspiring travel experiences yours to relive. The hottest fashions, gadgets and other essentials of fine living are also given due focus to further enrich your wanderlust lifestyle. With Travelite Magazineâ€™s online travel portal, the most decadent journeys are never too far away.
Social Circuit Ai Weiwei: According to What?
New York 4 July-10 August
Design TradeModern Design Fair Copenhagen 24-26 August
Ai Weiwei’s works never fail to impress. Known for being one of China’s most provocative contemporary artists, his works highlight globally recognised issues such as human rights and freedom of expression through various forms – sculpture, pottery and photography, among many others. Be captivated by the intricate details of his artistry at the Brooklyn Museum as they showcase his latest intriguing exhibition. www.brooklynmuseum.org
Phuket 16-20 July
Watch the waters sparkle in Phuket as Asia’s much-awaited regatta makes waves this season. Hosted by Cape Panwa Hotel in their luxurious venue overlooking the sea, treat yourself to the perfect amount of extravagance at this year’s Phuket Raceweek. The four-day event will give you ample time to experience the thrill of world-class yacht racing during the day and revel in the magic of beachside parties at night. www.phuketraceweek.com
Discover the latest trends in modern design during the largest design and furniture fair internationally recognised for its ubiquitous range of collaborations with new and exciting artists. Showcasing the best furniture, lighting fixtures and other home interiors, witness various innovative approaches in the design metropolis itself as Copenhagen plays host to more than 270 leading exhibitors from Denmark and the rest of the world. www.designtrade.dk
© Ayuntamiento de Buñol
La Tomatina Festival
Valencia 27 August
The Evian Championship Évian 11-14 September
If you’re up for a bizarre thrill this season, paint the town red at the La Tomatina Festival in Valencia. The streets of Buñol is transformed into a merry venue of the world’s biggest food fight where visitors from around the world take delight in aiming truckloads of tomatoes at each other. This annual “tomatina” (tomato fight) is one messy affair that has consistently proven to be quite an entertainment. www.latomatina.info
2014 Formula 1 Grand Prix
Singapore 19-21 September For over 20 years, prominent names in the world of women’s golf have competed on the fairways of the Evian Resort Golf Club. This year’s Evian Championship line-up is every golf enthusiast’s dream, as the top 120 female golfers prepare to test their skills at the event. The tournament holds the excitement until the end of the season, being also the venue to crown the esteemed world number one. www.evianchampionship.com
Be in the heart of the action and head to Singapore for this year’s Formula 1 Grand Prix. Watch racing icons and their teams show off and gear up in battle to be the next F1 champion. The event is also a reason to indulge in fine cuisine and wines, accompanied by outstanding cityviews offered by the Formula One Paddock Club. Here, you can enjoy full views of the pit crew in action all the way to the minutes and seconds of the exhilirating race. www.singaporegp.sg
Travelite’s Picks HOTELS and RESORTS naked Stables Private Reserve Moganshan It has been a favourite hotspot for decades. Whenever 20s Shanghai became sweltering and unbearable, its chic elite repaired to the mountains of Moganshan to cool off. Though it has been decades since its heyday – much in fact has happened since the elites came, fortunately this patch of heaven recently had a revival with the naked Retreats, more specifically with its naked Stables Private Reserve. Asia’s first LEED platinum-certified resort, the property, in its own subtle way, allows visitors to view and experience Moganshan in a fresh light. The cabins, situated unobtrusively, above the resort and within the bamboo forest enable vacationers to sumptuously imbibe the calming spirit of the mountain. Of course, apart from the readily available activities such as hiking, golf, and spa treatments, the cuisine is also notable with Michelin-star chef Stefan Stiller helming the kitchen. With the recent developments, Moganshan’s tranquil appeal quite obviously has not waned even a bit. www.nakedretreats.cn
TRAVELITE’S PICKS HOTELS AND RESORTS
TRAVELITE’S PICKS HOTELS AND RESORTS
The Farm at Cape Kidnappers Hawke’s Bay There are plenty of good reasons to be surrounded with a large body of water. The calming effect of watching blue waves undulate from a distance, the great smell of the sea below, and the infinite expanse of the sky above can all lift the spirit. But if the place also has a legendary golf course, five-star luxury lodge accommodations and a gourmet restaurant, then so much the better. Such is what The Farm at Cape Kidnappers in Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand offers. Naturally, the cape’s rolling acres are perfect for hiking and biking and there’s
even an opportunity to do a bit of trout fishing on the side. The lodge itself also has some beauty to show off including rooms with a fireplace and private balcony, a heated infinity pool, a spa and a restaurant, which prides itself with New Zealand lamb and beef cuisine. And then there is the par 71 golf course designed by no less than esteemed golf architect Tom Doak. Touted as one of the great modern marvels in golf and 41st in the ranking of best courses in the world, it is definitely a golfer’s idea of heaven. Of course, add to this the sea, the sky, and the amazing beauty of New Zealand and you definitely have a winning combination. www.capekidnappers.com
TRAVELITE’S PICKS HOTELS AND RESORTS
Alila Jabal Akhdar Nizwa
The Vines Resort and Spa Mendoza
The Alila Jabal Akhdar in Oman may be small, but the views are literally big. Just a few strides from the hotel’s foyer lies the great Jabal Akhdar or ‘The Green Mountain’ as it is also called. It’s a magnificent verdant slice of the country’s spectacular range, the Al Hajar. It is, without any doubt, the hotel’s best feature. How can it not be when it affords visitors the chance to be overwhelmed with sloping desert mountains and ridges of earth that change moods as the day wears on? First, the Green Mountain both exhilarates and frightens with its seeming infiniteness, but by dusk, as the crepuscular rays crawl through the skies, the landscape turns soft and supple as watercolour. But then, Alila Jabal Akhdar is also quite an experience. Complementing the breathtaking nature, the property is constructed according to LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) principles. There is a hint of traditional Oman in everything – the construction technique, interior design and the irrigation channels – but this Alila property also features modern amenities even at 2,000 m above sea level. There is a restaurant with varied cuisine, exquisitely designed rooms, and, yes, even wireless Internet connection. www.alilahotels.com
To the uninitiated, it may suspiciously sound like a vacation tailor-fit for fans of Sideways without of course the road trip and the drama. Though there is indeed plenty of wine tasting, comparing this exquisite destination to a Hollywood movie is selling it short. After all, there is much to appreciate at The Vines Resort and Spa, one of Argentina’s hottest luxury spots. First off, the resort, which sits on Uco Valley is tranquillity defined. A flat expanse of land lush with wine vineyards and vegetable gardens, it has in the horizon the Andes Mountains serving as a spectacular backdrop. The spa also gets a special nod for its bespoke scents, while the restaurant serves a delicious nine-hour slow-grilled rib eye and cast-iron baked, salt-encrusted salmon that go magnificently well with the resort’s boutique wines. But yes, the wines, of course, are the real star of the show. The resort not only has an extensive wine menu, but also encourages visitors to be involved in all phases of winemaking. No need to hesitate though, world-renowned winemaker Santiago Achaval is around to answer your queries. Indeed, a trip to The Vines is as much a vacation as a celebration of life. Salud! www.vinesresortandspa.com
This boutique resort has been designed to capture the carefree social ambience of a traditional Balinese community in a setting surrounded by lush that rice field tropical greenery. It offers personalize self with five-star services and facilities that are second to none. Br. Silungan, Desa Mas Ubud + 62 361 8493049 E-mail : email@example.com www.anulekhaubud.com
Sankara Ubud offers a peaceful living experience in a natural setting surrounded by productive rice fields and coconut palms. It is a place to totally relax and discover the simple pleasures of a traditional Balinese village. Br. Kumbuh, Mas, Ubud +62 361 8493515 E-mail : firstname.lastname@example.org www.sankaraubud.com
Sawangan - South Nusa Dua is a new development area for tourism, located in outskirt of the prestigious Nusa Dua BTDC complex. Only minutes away to Geger Beach, with natural and serene environment located near modern business and leisure facilities. Opening at the end of year 2014 Nusa Dua-Bali-Indonesia +62 81 999 943 361 E-mail : marketing@ satyamconsultant.com www.laberceuse.com
Travelite’s Picks BARS and RESTAURANTS
Bibo Hong Kong Once in a while, a place so inspired comes along and assaults the senses in the most delightful of ways. Bibo is one of such imaginative places. A marriage of contemporary art and French cuisine, this striking new restaurant along Hong Kong’s illustrious Hollywood Road is one of the most important openings in the city this year. What was once the headquarters of a French company managing tramways is now the site of this eclectic dining haven, thanks to a savvy group of street artists. Naturally, the place is a bastion of creativity, designed with differently sized pipes running along the ceilings, while murals and framed paintings
adorn the walls. The gold mine of art, with pieces from King of Kowloon to Banksy, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst, is a definite highlight to any visit. Of course, being a restaurant, Bibo isn’t only supposed to fuel the imagination but also feed the appetite, and it does so in such a soulful manner. Chef Mutaro Balde, once with Plaza Athenee Paris and L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon in London, heads the culinary team, promising everything, from the bread to the ice cream, to be homemade. Meanwhile seasoned mixologist Alexandre Chatté inspires exciting toasts through a menu of finely crafted cocktails that harks back to the 1930s. Open for lunch, dinner and drinks, Bibo is easily becoming the hottest haunt for Hong Kong’s foodies and artists, and for good reason. www.bibo.hk
Making Unforgettable Sojourns Possible
veryone has experienced trips of great satisfaction. One sees it frequently online; Instagram-ed destinations, capsule raves by way of status updates. But the memorable ones, the ones that are remembered even after the season has changed, those come very rarely. Indeed, crafting unforgettable visits is a meticulous and arduous task that begins before the guests arrive. These are in fact crafted even earlier when the picture-perfect villas, the first-rate hotel amenities and the excellent service are all planned out. At the beginning, there is, of course the matter of conceptualising and planning. That’s when the success of a destination – and the eventual enjoyment of the guests, are sealed. Such is the specialty of Satyam Internasional, a team of senior Balinese executives that focuses on creating solid business concepts and building a strong management structure for up and coming enterprises. In previous years, the consultation firm has spearheaded business ventures that have become highly competitive in their respected fields and has created strong and solid management structure for clients by overlooking the recruitment and training of staff members. Led by its director Ida Bagus Jelantik, an expert in innovative marketing strategies and managing director Ketut Arya Wijaya, who has an extensive knowledge of the local hospitality industry, the firm has established a reputation of excellence with its exceptional projects.
Two of the firm’s most visited Balinese collaborations are the Anulekha Resort and Villa in Silungan and Sankara Ubud Resort and Villa in Mas. Anulekha is a boutique property that offers five-star services and facilities. With 16 deluxe rooms and nine private pool villas, it is, indeed an intimate setting where the guests are guaranteed to have a relaxing and memorable stay. The same could be said of Sankara, a collection of 20 stylishly-appointed rooms and villas. Situated in the middle of an art village, the property allows guests to get a peek and experience life in a traditional Balinese community. In addition to these two, Satyam Internasional is also currently developing properties in scenic Sawangan, a district in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia. One of these is the La Berceuse, a luxury residence that has 10 two-bedroom units. Located within a resort complex, the residence has access to various hotel amenities. But it’s not just the excellent service and first-rate amenities and facilities that put these three properties at the forefront of must-visit Indonesian destinations. True to its core values, Satyam Internasional also made sure that with Anulekha in Silungan, Sankara in Mas, and Le Berceuse in Nusa Dua, Bali, each property blends well with the traditional and natural surroundings. It is, perhaps, one of the main reasons that makes Satyam Internasional such a success in developing tourist destinations. Beyond business, the firm also takes into account the culture and the people, making it possible for a sustainable growth both for the developers and the community. It is no wonder then that the firm has chosen the ancient word Satya as its name, which simply translates to “highest level of truth”. After all, before the villas and the resorts are built, before the guests arrive, there is the matter of conserving the destination’s natural beauty and unique culture, the very things that make a visit truly memorable. www.satyamconsultant.com
TRAVELITE’S PICKS BARS AND RESTAURANTS
Manhattan Singapore Old New York comes alive, not exactly in the Big Apple, but in Singapore, amidst diverse city attractions. Housed in the luxurious Regent Singapore, Manhattan is a formidable new addition to the lion city’s colourful bar scene. The hotel is strategically set between bohemian dining venues, Dempsey Hill and the Botanic Gardens, making it a worthwhile stop when visiting the area. Then again, what with the splendid ambience and the innovative menu, Manhattan may just be reason enough for a special visit. Inspired by the 19th century’s golden age of cocktails and fine drinking, this metropolitan watering hole showcases classic and forgotten cocktails of yore. Ricky Paiva, American head bartender, is at the helm to make sure every tipple is of the best quality.
Manhattan, after all, is serious about its drinks as it contains the world’s first in-hotel rickhouse where 100 American oak barrels are used to finish whiskies and spirits, and age bitters and single-cask cocktails. A dedicated ingredients room was also built to stock precious ingredients from around the world. As if that’s not impressive enough, the bar also boasts of hand-
crafted cocktail glasses and a premium ice programme, which features high-purity, high-density and hand-cut ice to further elevate the drinking experience. When you stop by, make sure to also try Chef Nicolas Trosien’s sumptuous cuisine to complement your drinks. Settle down in one of the leather couches at the main salon and savour the revival of a lost bar culture. www.regenthotels.com/singapore
Ristorante Italia Istanbul Eataly, Istanbul’s little Italian food mecca, has added a stellar dining hotspot to its roster of must-visit restaurants. Aptly named Ristorante Italia, this new gastronomic affair pays tribute to age-old flavours through contemporary cooking techniques, creating a distinct journey through the Italian kitchen. The master in charge of this culinary feat is Massimo Bottura, chef-patron of the Osteria Francescana, a three Michelin-starred establishment in Modena. Chef Bottura’s first restaurant outside Italy is located on the top floor of Eataly, which is fast becoming one of Turkey’s premier dining destinations. From first impressions, it is apparent how the place stays faithful to its Italian inspirations what with its simple yet superbly sophisticated interiors featur-
ing lighting fixtures by Davide Groppi, leather chairs by Poltrona Frau and furniture from Bottega Veneta’s exclusive home collection. There is even a terrace featuring an outdoor cocktail and gelato bar, a space outfitted with furniture and carpeting by Paola Lenti. More than the venue, it is the food that really sets Ristorante Italia apart. By importing products from Italy and sourcing other ingredients from within Turkey and Eataly’s own producers, what comes out of the kitchen is a collection of outstanding, freshly crafted, reimagined Italian dishes. Try the Mozzarella in Carrozza, Spaghetti Cetarese, Bollito Misto and Tiramisu and let a banchetto unfold. www.ristoranteitalia.com.tr
Travelite’s Picks SPAS and RETREATS
Sense Spa at Rosewood Mayakoba Riviera Maya Experience the soothing and healing qualities of nature at Sense, A Rosewood Spa in Riviera Maya. Its location, completely secluded from the rest of the resort, allows you to lose yourself in the enchantments of the island as you indulge in spa treatments that fuse nature’s elements with the expert touch of the spa artisans. Sense’s most luxurious offering, the ‘Escape Together: Sun and Moon Journey’ is the treatment to try this season. Your majestic spa experience in this Mexican sanctuary commences as soon as your private boat transfer from the resort docks at the spa. Following a warm welcome from the spa staff and the relaxed ambience, you will
The Fortress Resort and Spa Koggala Offering signature Ayurveda therapies that have been passed down for generations, The Fortress Resort and Spa is an
be pampered with a full-body Mayan cacao scrub and wrap to exfoliate your skin. A nourishing bath rich in antioxidants for maximum skin rejuvenation follows and, completing your journey to relaxation is the Mayakoba Signature Island Massage. This massage is truly indulgent not only for the relaxing
pressure, but also for the use of rich chocolate that is worked into your skin as you recline in the private open-air palapa with an excellent view of the lagoon. Relaxed and refreshed, you are then whisked back to your suite by boat while enjoying a culinary treat. www.rosewoodhotels.com/mayakoba
ideal sanctuary for that much-deserved de-stressing. One of Sri Lanka’s finest boutique resorts, this wellness hub focuses on a holistic ritual for the mind and body using natural, homegrown herbal products. The spa’s special bath with delicate flower petals comes complimentary with the selection of water therapies and expert nurturing massages that are
sure to keep you relaxed and revived. Meticulously following ancient scripts, the Ayurveda therapies are as authentic as it gets. Consultations are even carried out to determine your Prakirthi (body constitution) and Dosha (patterns of energy) before each treatment to formulate the best therapy that suits your needs. This only means that you get a bespoke spa experience every single time. www.fortressresortandspa.com
Travelite’s Picks CORPORATE OFFERINGS
Banyan Tree Lijiang Lijiang Banyan Tree Hotel in Lijiang, China promises to take your company to new heights—literally. Located at 2,000 m above sea level, the hotel offers a view of a different kind of skyscrapers—the breathtakingly beautiful vista of the Sacred Dragon Stone Mountain, for one. This hotel experience, however, is just one of the event concepts specifically fashioned by Banyan Tree Hotels and Resorts for corporate conferences and
business meetings. With a specialised Events Team, companies can explore with the hotel the myriad ways of mixing business with pleasure. This can mean networking and brainstorming while golfing in any of the Banyan Tree locations in Indonesia, Thailand, or Vietnam or stripping the stress away with spa treatments, yoga or tai chi lessons. After all, the mind works better and sharper when the chakras are unlocked. www.banyantree.com/lijiang
Galle Face Hotel Colombo Built in 1864, the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo is revered not just for its Dutch colonial architecture, but also for its rich history. An iconic landmark in Sri Lanka, the property has since gone through several modern renovations; the most recent of which was the Sea Spray restaurant that overlooks the Indian Ocean. The enhancements are not just confined to the exteriors. The service has also evolved with amenities catering to business travellers. Under the Business Suite offering is an energy booster upon the arrival of attendees, ergonomic high back conference chairs for those long, intense meetings, and a dedicated conference concierge. You would be surprised how its time-honoured service can be of great help in creating big, fresh ideas. www.gallefacehotel.com
TRAVELITEâ€™S PICKS CORPORATE OFFERINGS
The Chedi Sakala Bali It is, as its press says, one of GHMâ€™s most expansive properties and it shows. With 261 suites and villas and massive conference rooms, including a ballroom that can accommodate up to 600 people, the Chedi Sakala in Indonesia is definitely for big timers. The conference centre, for example, is a state-of-the-art space equipped with the latest audiovisual technology proofing and can be easily turned from a ballroom into six meeting rooms. There is also an additional set of smaller multi-purpose rooms that can accommodate 40 to 100 participants. The size may be impressive, but it is of course the sights and sounds that get the mind going. And this being the business crowd, a bit of pleasure should most definitely be in order. Fortunately, this is in Bali where the options for inspiration are innumerable: the beachfront with the unspoilt sands of Tanjung, the award-winning Balinese cuisine at the Sakala Bali Restaurant, and of course, the culture, which is amazingly forever colourful and vibrant. www.ghmhotels.com
New President, New Heights
oung businessman-cum-politician Dino Reyes-Chua is the new president of Philippine-based Magnum Air Skyjet Inc. This was formally announced last December during the company’s corporate meeting. A group of investors, led by Chua, infused additional capital to strengthen the positioning and operation of Skyjet Airlines starting this year, to please discerning travellers. Chua, 33, is also the chairman and president of Greenbelt Hotels International, which operates hotel and resort properties in Ayala Center, Makati and Coastal Bay, Cavite, respectively. He plans to add two more hotels to this roster this year. Once the youngest vice mayor of Cavite City from 2004 to 2010, he now sits as a board member of the province.
“We want to be known as the f irst boutique leisure airline and stay away from budget airlines that are competing neck and neck with each other, resulting to bad service and unsatisfied customers,” said the Stanford-trained Chua. “We will continue to develop our own niche in offering the only jet service to unique and exotic island destinations in the Philippines such as Batanes, Coron, Palawan, Boracay (via Caticlan), Catanduanes (via Virac), Siargao (via Surigao), Vigan and Baler. Skyjet Airlines utilises a fleet of British Aerospace jet aircraft with an 80-seater passenger capacity and can accommodate 3,000 kg (three tons) of cargo. The jet is the same as the ones used by Queen Elizabeth, Prince William and the rest of the Royal British Family, as it is considered as one of the safest aircraft in the world. Having four turbofan engines that operate quietly, the BAe 146 is also known as the “whispering jet”. The engine is equipped with excellent safety features for short take off and landing (STOL), making it very ideal for the short runways in most of the island tourist destinations in the Philippines that are not serviceable by bigger airplanes. www.skyjetair.com
Flavour CHEF WILL MEYRICK
From the Streets to the Kitchen Scottish street food extraordinaire Chef Will Meyrick chats with Kat Modelo Efenio about his life’s passions and the many things he found (and fell in love with) in the streets of Asia.
TOP TO BOTTOM Chef Will Meyrick; Crispy half duck with pickled mustard greens choy sum green nahm jihm
eing a fan of his Bali restaurants, I’ve always wondered if he had always been passionate about food and cooking. His confession was one I did not expect. “Honestly, I was originally interested in arts and design. I had been a part of a well-travelled expat family since I was 16. Hence, food was always a love for me, but I never thought of cooking it at all.” When he started firing up the stoves of kitchens in London and Sydney though, there was no stopping him. He has, since then, found a home in Southeast Asia and has opened four restaurants to date. Though, it wasn’t actually the taste and flavours that made him fall in love with the region first. When asked what exactly it was that made him swoon, he was quick to say, “The women, of course.” And he instantly adds, “Then came food and some more experiences.” I learned that he first came to Asia when he was 22 and everything looked different, challenging and adventurous to him. He says, “One thing for sure, I believe there is always something mystical for a white boy about Asia.” He explored the region, city after city, street after street, and this is how he unearthed the very core of honest to goodness Asian cooking. Beyond the flavours, there is more to street food that fuels Chef Will’s passion for cooking this cuisine. “Street food carries a story behind it; each dish usually comes from a heritage of a family and is transferred from one generation to another. Creating your own is pretty fun to do, but I love meeting people and talking with them. That way, I get to learn and understand their culture. I should say, that is how you get to the heart of a place.” This tells a lot about the profound taste in each of his specialties. Sitting at a cosy table, you’d expect a simple dining experience, after all, that’s what street food should be all
FLAVOUR WILL MEYRICK
Salt crusted barramundi stuffed with lemongrass pandan and lemon basil served with nahm jihm
Interiors of Mama San
about. But somehow, Chef Will takes you to a journey, inviting you to taste the story behind every dish. How he manages to do just that in a no-nonsense manner is a mystery to me – from the explosion of bold flavours on your first bite, you’ll discover more taste profiles as you delve deeper into the dish. Such is Chef Will’s flair. Add in a good dose of humour, and you get a signature Will Meyrick dish. How exactly is a signature dish formed? He quips, “First of all, I find an old lady behind a stove, and I make sure it’s her stove. Then, I start to charm her. After a few minutes and I think I’m in there, I’d ask for her telephone number. I usually get two kinds of reactions; first, shocked, almost like witnessing a horror. Second, the lady
Oyster nahm jihm and coriander granite
suddenly winks back at me. Well, a longer story then continues. And the rest is a history between the little old lady and me.” What rounds up a good dish, of course, is the use of excellent ingredients and Chef Will is one to obsess about finding the freshest produce to go with exotic spices from the region. Out of the many spices unique to Asia, there is
FLAVOUR WILL MEYRICK
one favourite that could easily be the secret behind many of his stellar dishes. “I love the spice called ‘andaliman’. It is commonly used in Batak (one of the ethnic groups in Sumatera, Indonesia). It belongs to the citrus family, hence its very refreshing fragrance. Andaliman is also used in northern Thailand.” It’s interesting how his travels since his youth have inspired him to continuously see the world and later on, call a place different from what he knows ‘home’. He shares, “Travel has not only influenced me as a chef, but also as a person. When you meet so many wonderful people, but also find some awful situations during your travels, you become grateful and humble for what you have.” Indonesia is home to Chef Will for many years now, and he has chosen to put down his roots in Bali with the launch of Sarong in 2008 followed by Mama San in 2011. Still, he continues to tread city
TOP TO BOTTOM Crispy salmon with green mango and sweet fish sauce salad; Thai style wood roasted chicken marinated in garlic coriander root and black pepper; Interiors of Mama San
Sankara Ubud Resort A peaceful living
Banjar Kumbuh, Desa Mas, Ubud, Gianyar -Bali 80571
The Villa was designed in Balinese architecture, featuring natural finished teak wood and natural stones. Guests are surrounded by the textures and color of nature, dressed slate, tiles, smooth unpainted wood, soft homespun, fabrics, intricate worked copper, flowers and foliage.
email : email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org www.sankaraubud.com
Sankara is the word, its the scallop shell which produced sounds when its blowned. During Mahabarata war it used to give the sign when the war started and ended. Now in Bali this tools used on purify ceremony to neutralize the bad energy and produce a peaceful atmosphere.
P: +62 361 849 3515 F: +62 361 849 3521 M: +62 878 6006 2184
Accommodation 14 Units Deluxe Room 6 units One Bedroom Pool Villa Rates Room Types (++/Night) â€˘ One Bedroom pool Villa US$ 450 â€˘ Deluxe Room US$ 250 * Rate Subject to 21% tax & Service charge (Sleep for 2 persons)
FLAVOUR WILL MEYRICK
TOP TO BOTTOM Centrepiece of Mama San; Stir fried king prawn with padang style sauce; Lemongrass panacotta with cucumber lime jelly served with citrus lemon basil sorbet
streets for inspiration and good eats. About his top choice for excellent dining in the region, he says, “I can’t choose only one city. I would say Singapore and then Hong Kong. Meanwhile, Bali packs a big bunch too, for a tourist island.” From his home island of Bali, Chef Will has now expanded his territory with the opening of E&O (Eastern & Oriental) in Jakarta last year and Hong Kong’s very own Mama San outlet earlier this year. Apparently, there are a few more surprises up his sleeve. He discloses, “We are in negotiations with a potential partner in Kuala Lumpur at the moment. We also have to open one more restaurant in Bali, which is going to serve Indonesian food. So, our hands are very full.” Hong Kong’s New Lady Love I was tremendously excited to hear that my much-adored lady from Bali is arriving in Hong Kong. ‘Mama San’, (a woman of authority in a gentleman’s club) is Chef Will Meyrick’s second restaurant in the island of the gods, and is one I always look forward to visiting when in Bali. Mama San’s new home in Hong Kong’s chic central district evokes the same ambience and design features. Entering the doors takes you back to glamorous Shanghai in the 1920s, modernised
by a colonial-meets-industrial theme and the lady’s portrait as a centrepiece, welcoming diners to let loose and enjoy Asian street food specialties paired with delicious cocktails in an elegant setting overlooking the vibrant city scene. You won’t go wrong with the lunch sets offered, but the a la carte menu is always tempting. Don’t miss on-the-house favourites, which include the Oysters Nahm Jihm, Slow Braised Veal Cheek with Indonesian rendang spices and Babi Guling Suckling Pig with sambal matah to name a few. The house also serves curries you’d love to swim in, as I’d like to describe it. There is the Green Curry of Clams, the Burmese Chicken Curry or the Southern Goan Mud Crab with Okra Fenugree Coconut Curry to choose from. To balance the bold flavours of the dishes are delicious sips from a carefully curated cocktails and wine menu. I was thrilled to see my staple Bali favourite on the list – the Mango Pomegranate Mojito, which I do not mind ordering any time at any given day. Add to this a dessert selection that cleverly uses Asian ingredients; from coconut milk to Chai tea, and you get one sweet ending to an exquisite meal. Without a doubt, Hong Kong will be quick to swoon and fall head over heels in love with this special lady called Mama San.
Panacea Koh Samui
or travellers who have seen it all, the search for new and exclusive destinations is a perpetual occupation. No wonder then that each hotel and resort around the globe constantly promises bigger, better, more top-secret paradisiacal hideaways. But then, when one promises a memorable experience, it goes without saying that the high expectations should also be perfectly met. Panacea Koh Samui, of course, like other world-class resorts, also promises a unique and unforgettable destination. The difference is, Panacea actually follows through. To begin with, Koh Samui in Thailand is a sight to behold with beautiful beaches, glorious sunsets and natural wonders one can only find in Southeast Asia. Then, there is the matter of the villas’ location. Situated on top of a coastal hill, Panacea offers a 360-degree view of the famous “Full Moon Island” of Koh Phangan, Plai Laem, the Big Buddha and Chaweng. It is also important to note that the designer of the resort is no less than the master of resort architecture and landscape design, the highly lauded and respected Bill Bensley. And these are just for starters. “Our concept is reinventing the private villa experience,” says Panacea General Manager Milos Kosanovic. “We believe many of our guests want more than just the unadulterated luxury and relaxation of a five-star resort.” To assure a more exclusive experience, Panacea has limited its suites to 24. Each comes with a high-vaulted open ceiling and sliding glass doors that open to stunning views. Best of all, the suites are staffed with a 24-hour service team that includes a
Resident Host to make sure guests are given greater attention. “We anticipate their expectations,” continues Kosanovic. “And by identifying individual profiles of guests, we promise to provide intuitive service at any moment, crafting a truly bespoke experience.” But then, Panacea has another ace up their sleeves. Not contended in just providing the most luxurious vacation experience, the hotel also offers a wide menagerie of activities that will keep the guests busy and healthy. Included in the list is Thailand’s national martial art, Muay Thai. With a personal instructor, guests can take introductory lessons of this high-energy, calorie-burning sport. Another one is yoga, which is usually performed on top of a hill, with the panoramic views adding to the relaxing breathing exercises. The tennis court, however, is, as they say, a smash. Also situated on a hill, the court is surrounded by lush greenery views of mountains. As for the gym bunnies though, Panacea has a state-of-the-art gym that is at par with the best gyms in London and are supervised by competent coaches. “Our guests can push themselves if they want,” added Kosanovic. “Our experiential concept is all about adding substance to a lavish experience.” Lavish, indeed it is. Panacea seems to be doing something right as all the elements of a unique and luxurious vacation can be found in its resort; absolutely beautiful views, world-class creature comforts, and an exciting list of activities. Considering the unforgettable experiences it offers, Panacea Koh Samui may have well surpassed its promises. www.panaceasamui.com
W & S PA M A LDI V E S WRETREAT Maldives
R&R: Relaxing W Maldives title & Romantic
or travellers who have seen it all, the search for new and exclusive destinations is a perpetual occupation. No wonder then that ot each hotel resort into around thearrival globe at constantly promises even fiveand seconds your the private jetty, bigger, better, more and top-secret paradisiacal hideaways. But then, chilled towels cool, signature cocktails in neon-cowhen one promises a memorable experience, it goes without sayloured shakers welcome you to the island amid picture-perfect ing thatWthe high expectations should alsoyour be perfectly views. Retreat & Spa Maldives is not ordinarymet. paradise. Koh Samui, of course, like other world-class reIt is,Panacea in its own right, an indulgent tropical playground. sorts, alsothe promises a unique unforgettable destination. With salty breeze and and a drink in hand, lounge music The difference is,you Panacea actually follows through. To begin cues in, and then are ready to be whisked on a quick tour with, Samui in in one Thailand is ahip sight to beholdbefore with beautiful of theKoh property of the W Shuttles you are beaches, sunsets and natural wonders one can only find driven to glorious your retreat of choice. in Southeast Asia. Then, there the matter of theOasis, villas’Ocean locaAll 78 retreats, whether youisprefer the Beach tion. Situated top of or a coastal Panacea a 360-deOasis, SeascapeonEscape Ocean hill, Haven villas, offers are carefully degree view of thecomfort famousand “Full Moon Island” of Koh Phangan, signed for both style. Each spacious accommodaPlai Laem, thea Big Buddha and Chaweng. It isnights” also important to tion provides unique “infinite days, infinite experience that the designer the resort is nobeds less and thanprivate the master of –note from elegant outdoorofdecks with sun plunge resortyours architecture landscape design, the highlyglow-in-thelauded and pools to enjoyand during daytime to open-roof, respected Bill Bensley. Andsuites theseand are underwater just for starters. dark bath areas in the beach lighting on the “Our concept is reinventing the come private villa experience,” over-water villas’ glass bottom floors sundown. This stunsaysday-to-night Panacea General Manager Kosanovic. “We believe ning transition makesMilos waking up and sleeping all the manyexciting of our throughout guests want more the unadulterated more your stay.than Still,just the most stellar of stays luxury and relaxation of a five-star resort.” are reserved at the property’s only Ocean Haven retreat. Sitting To assure more exclusive experience, limited on stilts above atransparent lagoons, it is wherePanacea you canhas completeitsindulge suites to Eachspace comes with a high-vaulted open bathrooms ceiling and ly in 24. a huge with two bedrooms, three sliding glass doors thatwith openitstoown stunning views.plunge Best ofpool all, and the and an outdoor lounge over-water suites arestation, staffedamong with amany 24-hour service that includes a barbecue other in-villateam surprises.
INSIDER’S SECRET INSIDER’S W RETREAT SECRET & SPA W MALDIVES MALDIVES
It won’t take long until the unmistakable W vibe kicks in, from the retreat’s interiors to the chic experiences and the signature Whatever/Whenever® of the perks of Resident Host to make sure guestsService. are givenOne greater attention. being aW guest istheir getting whatever continues you want,Kosanovic. whenever“And you “We anticipate expectations,” need it – a special teamprofiles is dedicated to we make it happen. No reby identifying individual of guests, promise to provide inquest too crazy impossible, whether wish to party for tuitiveisservice at anyormoment, crafting a trulyyou bespoke experience.” seven isolatedace island, get sleeves. unusual Not cravings Butnights then, straight Panaceaon hasananother up their conat 3:00am, or providing even thinking aboutluxurious getting married tended in just the most vacationunderwater. experience, Yes, the is an menagerie utterly romantic destination in itself, the hotel alsoMaldives offers a wide of activities that will keep but leave it busy to Wand to make things a tad more as the team the guests healthy. Included in theexciting list is Thailand’s natakes to a art, deeper level, quite literally with this unique offering. tionallove martial Muay Thai. With a personal instructor, guests Where else can you celebrate with a wedding calorie-burnceremony atcan take introductory lessons love of this high-energy, tended by sharks, seaone turtles and eagle rays? Hiking up the romance ing sport. Another is yoga, which is usually performed on atop fewofnotches is a five-course wine views dinneradding aboard to thethe resort’s Esa hill, with the panoramic relaxing cape yacht,exercises. romantic The in-villa turndown andis,ofascourse, an breathing tennis court,service, however, they say,
intimate breakfast in bed to wake up to. There is also W Maldives’ Gaathafuschi private island for a few days with your beloved in your own romantic hideout away from the rest of the resort. W Maldives enjoys an enviable location in one of the Maldives’ best atolls, the North Ari Atoll, which is home to one of the best reefs in all of island nation. It is for this reason that the resort has a resident marine biologist, who can take you from the usual snorkelling and wreck diving trips to unique night snorkelling and exhilarating night dives. For all your other cravings, there are six dining and entertainment destinations, starting with all-day dining at Kitchen, a smash. Also situated on a hill, the court is surrounded by lush exquisite at Fish, barbecue nights at Fire, sungreenery seafood views of dinners mountains. As for the gym bunnies though, set drinkshas at aSip, cocktails and gym pool that parties Wet and,the 15best BePanacea state-of-the-art is atatpar with low, underground bar by is the place tocoaches. party down gymsWinMaldives’ London and are supervised competent during theguests weekends by the resort’s DJ. “Our can with pushmusic themselves if they resident want,” added Beyond“Our the usual resort offerings, & Spa MalKosanovic. experiential concept isW allRetreat about adding subdives unique experiences and creates a chic lifestyle. stanceprovides to a lavish experience.” As General Manager Jean-Marc “We have to set Lavish, indeed it is. PanaceaMa-Poon seems tosays, be doing something ourselves from other always thinkvacation about what right as allapart the elements of ahotels. uniqueWe and luxurious can kind of story weresort; can tellabsolutely behind everything do here.” be found in its beautiful we views, world-class creature comforts, and an exciting list ofattention activities. This explains W Retreat & Spa Maldives’ toConsiderevery deing experiences offers, Panacea tailthe ofunforgettable the experience, and this isitwhat makes eachKoh staySamui truly may have and well unforgettable. surpassed its promises. www.panaceasamui.com indulgent www.wretreatmaldives.com
Sentido Graceland Khao Lak Resort & Spa
Your Very Own Beach Paradise
n severely congested tourist destinations, peace and privacy are probably the hardest to find. This is especially true for hot spots like Thailand where droves come in anytime of the year. If one has set out on a vacation specifically to get away from the madding crowd, imagine how one will react when the beach paradise in his mind turns out to be as congested as the downtown scene. The results, most probably, would not be pretty. It is for this specific reason that SENTIDO Graceland Khao Lak Resort & Spa, just a 90-minute drive from Phuket, stands out. The long stretches of immaculately soft white sands, cool blue waters, and lines upon lines of untouched coconut trees definitely make it an absolute oasis, but it is the resort’s beautifully designed villas and rooms that have turned it into a real paradise hideaway. The villas, 22 in all, are located in different parts of the resort; each of which has a private pool and features a very distinct theme. The Garden Pool Villa has in abundance lush tropical gardens, the Water Pool Villa opens to a lagoon, and the Beachfront Two-bedroom Pool Villa leads to the wide open sea. The best thing about these villas is that all are similarly enclosed to provide utmost privacy. The same goes for the suites, of course. Couples or families may opt for the Moken Pool Access which features a separate living room and bedroom. The Moken Pool View on the other hand has a homey ambience with a private balcony and a huge outdoor bathtub. Even the signature SENTIDO Rooms offer quite a good degree of privacy. Smaller in size, yes, but they certainly have their own distinct charm. The Premier Pool Access is just a few steps from the pool while the Pre-
mier Pool View features a bathroom that is spacious and simply divine. The Deluxe Pool View, on the other hand, is suited for families since it can accommodate four guests. Another luxurious room is the Deluxe Pool Access, which also offers direct access to the pool, its bathroom, with its rain shower and beautifully styled tiles, is definitely worth the stay. As for the cuisine, the SENTIDO Graceland Khao Lak seems to have also left no stone unturned. Oceano, situated near the beach with the view of the Andaman Sea, serves Italian steak and grilled fare. For those who are yearning for a more local flavour, the Pla2 waterside restaurant specialises in Thai-fusion, while the main dining venue, Pakarang, focuses on international cuisine. Apart from the sumptuous epicurean offerings, there is also a wide menagerie of activities to be experienced within the resort; from yoga to bowling to tennis and squash to even Thai boxing. It even has a kids’ hub to keep the children busy and learning. But then, ultimately, the resort is just a means to enjoy the beach life in the best way possible. And so from sunrise to sunset, SENTIDO immerses guests in a life that’s as calming as the sea and as warm and beautiful as the sun. Away from the crowd and ensconced in a cocoon of a private oasis, it’s an exclusive beach resort that’ll definitely make one believe that paradise still exists. www.gracelandkhaolak.com
30/7 Moo 7, Bang Muang, Takua-pa, Phang Nga 82190 Thailand
Tel: +66 (0)76 584 150 Fax: + 66 (0)76 584 199 email@example.com www.gracelandkhaolak.com
J Plus Hotel by YOO
Brand New YOO
hat better way to celebrate a decade of designer hospitality than with another stylish makeover? J Plus Boutique Hotel revamped its already remarkable Philippe Starck original design and recently unveiled an even fresher look as J Plus Hotel by YOO. The playful, street art-inspired theme created by YOO studio is a true celebration of contemporary design, which echoes from the hotel’s graffiti façade to the whimsical lobby and each one of its 56 rooms. With an ideal location in Causeway Bay, one of Hong Kong’s vibrant shopping and entertainment districts, the new J Plus Hotel by YOO is every urbane travellers’ dream come true. Arrivals are nothing less than exciting, with a merry combination of ornate furniture pieces welcoming you at the cosy reception and lobby. Following a swift check-in, yours to call home during your stay are studio rooms and one-bedroom
INSIDER’S SECRET J PLUS HOTEL BY YOO
suites across 25 floors, all of which are homey and functional as they are stylish. Just to make your stay all the more vibrant, the accommodations also come in four colour themes – Dreamy Pink, Tangerine Joy, Sunshine Yellow and Tranquil Blue. Beyond aesthetics, YOO was also able to translate design into an experience. How they managed to create an exquisitely designed space that allows guests to relax and feel right at home is pure genius. Whether you book an open plan studio or a one-bedroom suite, you’ll have your own minibar, entertainment system and fully-equipped kitchen set in a predominantly white space with a splash of the colour motif. Add to this a combination of fun furnishings and Causeway Bay’s glittering lights, and you get a modern dwelling that allows you to relax in style throughout your stay. The J Plus experience also extends to the round-the-
clock personalised concierge service, which guides you to the best of Hong Kong from room deliveries to table reservations and any other needs you may have. Keeping your convenience in mind, the chic hotel also has a fitness gym and meeting space at the top floor and self-serve laundry facilities adjacent an outdoor lounge on the second level. The charming lobby knows a thing or two about tempting you to overstay your welcome, as it transforms from day to night. With a ready, complimentary spread of continental breakfasts early in the morning to cakes and light bites in the afternoon and a selection of wines come sundown, it would be quite a challenge to pass up. Truth be told, an urbane, chic lifestyle is the order of business at J Plus Hotel by YOO 24 hours a day, seven days a week. www.jplushongkong.com
Young as they are, celebrated violinist Charlie Siem and Strala Yoga founder Tara Stiles are making waves in their respective crafts, based on individual styles; one favours more of the classics, while the other takes the opposite route. Fuelled by passion and backed by formidable supporters, these personalities are ones to look out for.
CHARLIE SIEM From playing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to performing in front of Lady Gaga, Charlie Siem is quite the experienced musician. He also happens to be an ambassador of the Princeâ€™s Trust and Visiting Professor at Leeds College of Music, and has even collaborated with Dior, Dunhill and Armani. The 28-year old fiddler is on a roll and thereâ€™s definitely more to come from this virtuoso.
Tell us about the first time you realised you wanted to be a violinist. What was the experience like, hearing Yehudi Menuhin play Beethoven’s Concerto for the first time? I just remember hearing this beautiful sound and wanting to make it myself. That’s how it all started. What or who influences you the most as an artist? How? I am influenced by many things — what I’m reading, people I meet, places I go — everything has the capacity to inspire. You’re known for classic pieces but you’ve also performed with pop stars such as Boy George and Bryan Adams. Is this something that you actively pursue to promote classical music? Not necessarily. I have taken opportunities that have come my way and I grow through that process. Is it true that you love hip-hop? If so, which hip-hop artist would you like to collaborate with, if given the chance? I always liked the sampling process of making a hip hop track - it’s like a musical collage, which I think is creative. I don’t have an artist in mind I would like to work with, but I’d be excited to use this technique in something I do. What or whose music have you been frequently listening to lately? Hoagy Carmichael. Has travelling, in some way, let you embrace other people’s music? I suppose so, yes.
What can you never travel without? My positive side.
Do you bring your violin with you even when on vacation? Yes, I do. What’s your idea of a perfect holiday? Being able to appreciate wherever I am and whoever I’m with. What were the most inspiring moments you’ve had on a trip? Every moment is inspiring when I think about it.
What is your idea of luxury? For me, it’s realising that it’s always available within your reach. What are your upcoming projects that we should anticipate? I’m looking forward to many undertakings. My next recording for Sony Classical, ‘Under the Stars’, will be released in September. Next year, I will be touring China with the Festival Strings Lucerne, and performances in Hong Kong and Taiwan are under discussion.
TA R A STILES
Referred to as a yoga rebel, Tara Stiles has single-handedly changed the way many fitness buffs exercise today. She has come a long way from being a model to becoming a professional yoga instructor who counts Deepak Chopra as one of her clients. Bringing her unique approach to wellness to the rest of the world, she has recently partnered with a global hotel chain to help jet-setters keep fit while on the go.
How does Strala Yoga differ from the traditional type? Who is it for? Strala yoga is different from traditional yoga as it puts emphasis on moving comfortably and freely—avoiding holding in uncomfortable positions— and listening to your body. Thus, helping people find their own way into their own bodies. Strala is known for its laid-back, energetic and open vibe, so it caters to anyone and everyone.
What can W guests expect from your FIT yoga classes? Guests who join FIT with Tara Stiles classes will experience a non-purist take on yoga, offering a refreshing alternative through a modern spin. W Retreat and Spa Maldives will feature a customised itinerary unique to the destination and will include spa sessions, meals curated by yours truly, and unexpected, unprecedented experiences.
Please tell us about your latest project with W Hotels. W Hotels Worldwide launched its first ever fitness programme, FIT with Tara Stiles, which is rolled out to all 45 of the W brand’s cutting-edge hotels and resorts worldwide. It flips traditional yoga through a non-traditional approach to working out on the road. The programme is comprised of a curated in-room workout video designed for the needs of the W traveller, in-room tip cards with quick fixes to get camera-ready in a flash, and an exclusive series of intimate FIT with Tara Stiles packages available at the W Retreat and Spa Maldives and some of the most glamorous W Retreats around the world.
What’s your best advice to travellers who want to keep fit during a holiday? Stay at one any of the 45 W Hotels worldwide! We’ve created an energetic programme designed to celebrate the body and provide 24/7 access to an interactive workout that can easily be incorporated into the busiest of jetsetting lifestyles. How does travel affect your fitness routine? I have a true ‘work hard, play hard’ mentality and want to look fabulous, yet have fun while getting fit. So, I do make time to work out during my travels. Do you typically indulge during a trip or do you stay within your usual health and fitness regimen? It’s all about finding the right balance but as a passionate foodie, indulgence often overtakes health and fitness during a holiday. If you could strike those yoga poses in any spot, at all, in the world, where would it be? I am looking forward to strike a fabulous pose next to the iconic W Sign located 9m below sea level at the W Retreat and Spa Maldives.
What does luxury mean to you? Luxury, by definition, means something that appears to be the best of whatever it represents. To me it’s more than nice-looking surroundings, but most of all I want highly personalised service that creates memorable experiences. What can you never travel without? My iPad and my iPhone. I need to stay connected.
Join the yoga rebel herself on a three-day fitness journey amidst a tropical paradise on 1-4 December. The FIT with Tara Stiles at W RETREAT & SPA MALDIVES package includes accommodation, threecourse dinner curated by Tara Stiles, yoga sessions, spa treatments and activities. www.wretreatmaldives.com
Stylish Stays at The Putman
he next time you find yourself packing sleek outfits and stylish garb for a weekend in Hong Kong, make sure to check in at The Putman. Here, you are sure to have an equally chic dwelling in the heart of Central’s Soho district. Its unobtrusive façade, sandwiched between a wine shop and a trendy café, downplays the elegance within. Similar with all other National Properties developments, you will be greeted by a modern, dimly lit hallway – a fitting introduction to the pure elegance that awaits in each of the three Studios and 25 One-Bedroom Suites. As soon as you step out of the elevator, you’ll notice that the suites occupy an entire floor to itself.
INSIDER’S SECRET THE PUTMAN
The signature elegant design is one of the late Parisienne designer Andrée Putman’s masterpieces, featuring clean lines, neutral colours, specially selected furniture pieces and designer amenities. The airy and spacious suites are also drenched with light from floor-to-ceiling windows looking out to stunning views of the hip neighborhood. Needless to say, the space is designed to impress, and you won’t be able to decide outright whether the suite’s centrepiece is Putman’s famous Crescent Moon sofa in the living room, the bedroom’s queen-sized bed wrapped in Frette linens, or the bathroom’s lavish Villeroy & Boch bathtub. Of course, ambience is key in a sophisticated space like this, and at The Putman, a touch of a button on the built-in lighting system allows you to set the mood yourself. The shades roll up in
an instant and the lighting adjusts to create just the right mood you need, whether you’re watching movies in the living room, reading a book in bed or indulging on a long soak in the tub. There is also a state-of-the-art kitchen that hides out of view with another touch of a button when not needed, a separate toilet and rain shower, and in-suite washer and dryers to complete your stays. You’ll find everything you need in the stylish and functional suite, on top of the housekeeping services, a business centre and complimentary gym membership throughout your stay. The ultra-chic The Putman has all the right makings of a fashionable address, and is definitely one that would make you want to stay longer than necessary in this concrete jungle. www.theputman.com
ARTS & DESIGN
The Digital Face of the Art World Viola Raikhel-Bolot, Managing Director at 1858 Ltd Art Advisory explores contemporary art’s foray into the digital world.
t took us a while to embrace our virtual music collections and libraries of books, yet today, we couldn’t imagine living without our favourite authors and musicians at our fingertips via our smart devices. With advances in technology happening daily, it only made sense that collecting art should follow in suit. Having tracked the evolution of digital art over the past decade, my firm favourite in the medium is not a specific artist or work of art, it is in fact a platform which promotes making art accessible digitally to all levels of collectors. s[edition] is a groundbreaking platform for digital art, where enthusiasts can buy and collect art digitally. Fusing technology with art, s[edition] is part of a second digital revolution, fuelled by the tremendous growth of mobile technologies and advances in high definition screen resolutions that are making such sophisticated reproductions of art possible. Held in the cloud, it allows you to purchase an edition, which comes with a certificate of ownership wherever and whenever you are online. You can then view your art on multiple platforms at the best resolution / size for whichever device you are using be it TV,
PC, phone or tablet. No matter your budget or preference, s[edition] enables you to enjoy limited edition artworks, exclusively created by world-renowned contemporary artists. s[edition] also securely stores your collection so you can access it anytime, anywhere, on any screen, across your device of choice. Being able to enjoy and share your Tracey Emin with your iPad and Bill Viola on your TV screen at any given moment is a rather exciting proposition. Hot off the heels of a number of online art collecting platforms launching such as Paddle8 and Artsy, Sotheby’s announced their partnership with global online auction giant eBay last 14 June. Together, they are developing an innovative online platform that will make it easier for millions of people worldwide to discover, browse and acquire exceptional works of art, antiques and collectibles via the Internet. With Sotheby’s renowned art world expertise and eBay’s technology platform, they will begin by offering a number of live auctions that are taking place at Sotheby’s headquarters in New York. In the near future, eBay will be launching a newly designed experience
on its site, tailored for collectors of rare, unique and premium art and collectibles as well as first-time buyers. Sotheby’s will revamp its offering to include a new live auction feature and real-time bidding from anywhere around the world. The global art market is currently estimated at around USD 65 billion, with annual online sales far below averages for other luxury goods. Projections show online art sales could reach USD 13 billion by 2020. These staggering numbers are a testament to the broad reaching appeal of art and only prove that more and more collectors all over the globe are enjoying the art experience at the tip of their fingers. As Andy Warhol once said, “Making money is art and working is art and good business is the best art.”
1858 Ltd is a leading International Art Advisory firm providing independent and impartial advice on all areas of collection management to private clients, museums, luxury brands and private banks. www.1858ltd.com
The Mรถvenpick Resort Bangtao Beach Phuket offers a magical combination of Swiss efficiency and Thai hospitality. The resort has 40 luxurious residences next to the clean golden sands of Bangtao Beach. For a getaway with friends or family, take a trip to Phuket this summer and enjoy up to 30% discount on room rates. Spend family day by the beach, splash around the pool or simply relax and enjoy tropical bliss. For reservations, visit www.moevenpick-hotel.com/phuket-bangtao. Offer valid for stays from now until 30 September 2014. Terms & conditions apply.
Mรถvenpick Resort Bangtao Beach Phuket 35 Moo 4, Cherngtalay, Phuket, Thailand Phone +66 76 310400, Fax +66 76 310405 Residences.Phuket.Reservations@moevenpick.com
savings up to 30%.
SPECIAL FEATURE FOUR SEASONS JET
Flights of Fancy
mbark on a lavish getaway in the industry’s first-ever fully branded jet service. Beginning February 2015, experience jet setting like no other as the Four Seasons Jet takes you on the most exclusive of flights, complemented by luxury stays in Four Seasons properties across the globe. Discover fascinating destinations as you fly in style on board the premium hotel chain’s very own dashing Boeing 757 plane. Featuring the iconic Four Seasons logo on the tail and swathed in elegantly designed interiors, every inch of the aircraft exudes luxury, to further enhance your jet setting. Stay connected onboard with wireless Internet, which especially comes handy when scheduling spa treatments, private excursions, tee times
and more on-the-go arrangements on land and air. With the perfect combination of luxury and adventure, the Four Seasons Jet allows you to see the world from a higher perspective. Immerse in unique cultures through expert itineraries, starting with the ‘Around the World’ journey, a 24-day travel extravaganza accompanied by five-star amenities. Encompassing nine destinations, this bucket list-worthy experience starts in Los Angeles and ends in London. It is only limited to 52 guests, and includes air travel, ground transportation, carefully planned excursions and delectable meals. Be one of the first to experience Four Seasons’ fancy flights as the brand takes luxury travel to new heights. www.fourseasons.com/aroundtheworld
Insider’s Secret Photos courtesy of Bea Belen
Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge
nspiring art and the intoxicating beauty of nature converge in the northern tip of the Philippines with Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge, a cosy sanctuary that offers beyond-the-usual stays amidst the captivating countryside. Sitting atop a hill with sweeping views of the sea and the surrounding highlands, the hotel is the ideal base from which to admire bewildering vistas. It is not more than 15 minutes away from the airport and only a short drive away from centre of town, Valugan Beach, and the Marlboro Hills, among other local attractions. Batanes is a small province composed of several islands located in the northernmost end of the Philippines. Batan is the main island where its capital, Basco, is located, and where majority of the local population live. Although modern technology has somehow made its way to this far-flung gem, automated teller machines remain absent, while cellular network coverage is usually unstable, resulting to intermittent Internet connection. But instead of inconveniences, such factors actually contribute to the charm of the place, making Batanes the ideal destination to truly get away from it all. Over the years, for anyone who seeks the splendour of this remote paradise, Fundacion Pacita has remained as the premier choice for accommodations not only for its awe-inspiring location, but also for its compelling history. It was once the home studio of Pacita Abad, a revered artist who was born in Basco. Although it has been a decade since her passing, her legacy lives on, most especially in Fundacion Pacita. Even from afar, the lodge is quite the vision--an architectural marvel that blends seamlessly with the scenery. Inspired by Ivatan culture, the structure is made of stone
walls and Narra flooring complemented by tasteful, wooden walls and Narra by with tasteful, wooden furnishings. Eachflooring room orcomplemented suite, decorated artworks by furnishings. Each room or suite, artists, decorated with as artworks by renowned and budding Filipino doubles a gallery. renowned budding Filipino artists, doubles aspublic a gallery. As the placeand is embraced by nature’s resplendence, and As the spaces place islook embraced by nature’s resplendence, public private out to varying spectacular sights, includand privateofspaces look out to varying spectacular ining those the Pacific Ocean, the West Philippinesights, Sea and cluding of the mountainous Pacific Ocean,landscape. the West The Philippine Sea parts of those the Batanes hotel also and partsa restaurant of the Batanes mountainous landscape. The hotel features that serves farm-to-table cuisine and ofalso featurestransfers, a restaurant serves cuisine fers airport roomthat service andfarm-to-table massage treatments and offers airport transfers, room service and massage treatfor utter convenience and precious pampering. ments for utter convenience and precious pampering. As Fundacion Pacita is dedicated to enriching the lives of Fundacion is dedicated to enriching lives ofstay. the the As locals, it’s notPacita just guests who take delight the in every locals, it’s not just guests who take in every stay. The The proceeds of the property go todelight The Jorge, Aurora, and proceeds of Memorial the property go to The Jorge, Aurora, Pacita Pacita Abad Foundation, Inc., which fundsand eco-tourAbad Memorial Foundation, Inc.,programmes which funds for eco-tourism ism initiatives and educational the youth.initiatives and educational for the youth. Clearly, Fundacion programmes Pacita Batanes Nature lodge offers Clearly, Fundacion Pacita Batanes Natureadvocates lodge offers more than creature comforts, as it strongly the more than creature comforts, as itlocal strongly advocates the good of Filipino art, nature and the community. good of Filipino art, nature and the local community. www.fundacionpacita.ph
Business Dividend Income
Looking Beyond the Short Term
TAI HUI, J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Chief Market Strategist, Asia, shares why investors should look beyond the short term and focus instead on the long-term opportunities provided by a dividend income strategy despite the recent underperformance of high dividend equities.
Many investors seem to focus more on short-term changes in stock prices, neglecting one of the basic fundamentals of sound investing – the power of compounding adds up over time. Investors should not underestimate the power of compounding reinvested dividends, as this has paid off over a relatively long investment horizon. History suggests that high dividend equities tend to outperform the broader market in risk-adjusted returns over the longer term. We anticipate greater market volatility this year, given the normalisation of US monetary policy and the cyclical headwinds affecting emerging markets. This makes a good case for adopting a dividend income strategy to help manage the volatility. In fact, different ways of treating the dividend payout, taking the MSCI World Index and an initial investment of USD 100 in 1970 as an example, can
make a crucial difference to an investor’s total returns over the long run. Let’s have a look at the following scenarios. Scenario 1: An investor would have received USD 1,675 from share price appreciation, assuming for the sake of argument that there was no dividend payout. Scenario 2: If the investor spent all the dividends paid out without reinvesting anything into cash or equities, he would have made USD 2,350. Scenario 3: If the investor chose to reinvest dividends paid out in a zero-risk time deposit with an annual deposit rate of 5.1 per cent per annum, this would have generated a total return of USD 4,267, an extra USD 1,917 (+82 per cent) compared to no reinvestment.
Scenario 4: If the investor had reinvested all the dividends paid out back into equities, this would have made a staggering USD 6 ,120, 43 per cent and 160 per cent more than reinvesting into the time deposit (scenario 3) and no reinvestment (scenario 2), respectively. This is because the additional equities purchased with each dividend payout generate greater capital appreciation potential and future dividends as time goes by, contributing more and more to the total value of the investment over the long run. Over the past 10 years, dividends plus their compounding effect have accounted for 45, 54 and 39 per cent of the annualised total return for the MSCI AC Asia Pacific ex-Japan, MSCI Europe and S&P 500, respectively. For individual Asian equity markets, such as Japan, Taiwan and Australia, compounded dividends have contributed more than half of annualised total returns over the same period. Since dividends and their compounding effect are critical to an investor’s total return, a high dividend strategy could, in principle, lead to better returns because of the higher rate of compounding. As shown in the MSCI High Dividend indices for Asia Pacific ex-Japan, emerging markets and developed markets not only
register better annualised returns than their respective broad market indices, but also they achieve this with lower volatility, resulting in higher Sharpe ratios (a measure of risk-adjusted returns). In terms of (rolling) cumulative returns, we find out that the longer the time horizon, the bigger the outperformance of high dividend equities over the broad market indices. This is true across Asia Pacific ex-Japan, emerging markets and developed markets. There have also been periods when higher dividend stocks have fallen by more than the broad index or lower dividend stocks. But over a sufficiently long interval, the compounding effect of extra dividends restores outperformance to high dividend stocks. After the outperformance of high dividend equities in developed markets in recent years, valuations there have become more expensive, with the 12-month forward PER now at 13.4x3 compared to 11.5x in December 2012. Conversely, valuations of the high dividend universe of Asia ex-Japan (11.5x now vs. 12.8x in Dec 2012) and emerging markets (9.0x now vs. 9.5x in Dec 2012) have become cheaper compared to their own history as well as to the Western world. In addition, relative to each countryâ€™s 2-year government bond yield, dividend yields in many Asia and emerging markets, such as China, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, Australia and Singapore, are similar, if not higher. Although the relationship between dividend yield and earnings growth appears to be negative, there are a number
Investors should not underestimate the power of compounding reinvested dividends, as this has paid off over a relatively long investment horizon.
of countries within Asia and emerging markets that offer both attractive yields and good earnings growth. For example, the 3-year average dividend yields of Taiwan and Thailand were 3.6 and 3.1 per cent, respectively (versus APxJâ€™s 3.1), while they also had higher EPS growth (18.5 and 13.4 per cent) than the Asia average (12.3). Within emerging markets, the average dividend yields of South Africa (3.1) and Brazil (4.1 per cent) were above the regional average (2.7), while EPS growth was strong at 16.9 and 12.4 per cent, respectively, versus regional average of 12.7. In terms of sector preference, income investors tend to focus on defensive sectors, such as telecoms and utilities, to source higher dividend yields. However, it seems that non-defensive sectors, like financials, energy and materials, also pay good dividend yields in Asia and emerging markets, while being more exposed to the cyclical global recovery.
Investment Implications In conclusion, investors often focus too much on short-term sentiment, forgetting about the long-term benefits of investing in a dividend income strategy. However, the power of compounding reinvested dividends can only be fully appreciated over time. Historically, high dividend equities have not only outperformed the broad market indices in the long run, but also they have exhibited lower volatility, pushing up their Sharpe ratios. Many Asian and emerging markets equity markets offer good dividend yields in the financial and cyclical sectors, which stand to benefit from a stronger global economy. More importantly, they are trading at what we see as compelling valuations relative to their developed market counterparts.
The material contained herein is intended as a general market commentary. Opinions expressed herein are those of the author and may differ from those of other J.P. Morgan employees and affiliates. This information in no way constitutes J.P. Morgan research and should not be treated as such. Further, the views expressed herein may differ from that contained in J.P. Morgan research reports. Past performance is not a guarantee of future results. www.jpmorganam.com.hk
AUTUMN OBSESSIONS Save some space for these personal luxuries to make your upcoming trips fun, easy and fabulous!
Bobbi Brown Basic Brush Collection Brush away the stress and let beauty reign with a complete set of essential brushes thatâ€™s handy for those glam-up evenings or even for quick touch-ups on the road. www.sephora.com
Eyeko Hydrating Eye Patch All that sight-seeing can be taxing on the eyes, so better bring a trusted hydrating eye patch to keep your peepers bright and ready for more eye-catching spectacles. www.eyeko.com
Smythson Currency Case Done in natural goatskin with four handy pockets, donâ€™t you think this travel item is a style currency in itself? www.smythson.com
Petite Heure Minute 35mm by Jaquet Droz Never miss a big travel moment with this ultra luxurious timepiece swathed in diamonds and gold. Time is luxury indeed. www.jaquet-droz.com
Gucci Diamante Leather Heritage Travel Bag Arrive in style with this Gucci travel bag made in diamante leather, a classic signature of the famed Italian fashion house. www.gucci.com
Swarovski CL Pocket Binocular Small enough to keep in the pocket, but definitely a big help in viewing sights, the Swarovski CL Pocket Binocular is an absolute sightseeing essential. www.swarovskioptik.com
Hard Graft Passport Wallet No matter where you are in the world, this passport wallet will instantly be recognised for its classy form and style. www.hardgraft.com
Mulberry Golf Kit Black Natural Leather A combination of grainy leather and raw suede, the Mulberry Golf Kit Black Natural Leather is indeed a fashion hole-in-one for golf enthusiasts. www.mulberry.com
Tom Ford Buckley Go-To Travel Bag Tom Ford once again spoils the stylish modern man with this beautifully sleek, no-nonsense travel bag in semi-polished calfskin and exclusive heavy metal zipper. www.tomford.com
Bleu de Chanel Eau de Toilette Refillable Travel Spray Woody and aromatic, Bleu de Chanel Eau de Toilette promises to bring freshness even when at a beach or in a crowded Mediterranean souk. www.chanel.com
Ulysse Nardin Skeleton Tourbillion Manufacture With its elegant alligator strap and exquisitely designed skeleton case, thereâ€™s no mistaking that this limited timepiece is perfect for gentlemen of the highest regard. www.ulysse-nardin.com
AURA BREATHALYZER USD 150 What is probably more interesting than its pretty, handy design is its function. The Aura Breathalyzer easily measures the blood alcohol level with just a blow, which means it can also effectively answer that most often asked late Saturday night query (To drive or not to drive?), making it a definite must-have for partyphiles. www.aurabreathalyzer.com
Photos courtesy of Google
MOPHIE LIMITED EDITION VALENTINO POWERSTATION USD 349 Swathed in signature Valentino red, this collaboration between Mophie and the famous fashion house has elevated an otherwise ho-hum-looking gadget. From just a mobile accessory into something fashionably fun and sexy, this makeover is absolutely remarkable! www.mophie.com
DVF MADE FOR GLASS COLLECTION USD 1,725 Fashion maven Diane Von Furstenberg and Google Glass just might change the way life is lived in this century. DVF Made for Glass Collection is officially out and the sleek, slender glasses will enable users to, among other things, go online, send messages, and of course look good in DVF-approved design. Undeniably, the future has stylishly arrived! www.google.com/glass
ALEXANDER WANG PRISMA SKELETAL IPAD CASE USD 395 These days, even iPads get a serious dose of fashion. Take for example this Prisma Skelatal iPad case from award winning designer Alexander Wang. Chic and edgy in black leather, it also features paper card slots, prisma rhodium corners and of course, Wang’s distinct touch of style. www.alexanderwang.com
RING USD 185 And it has come to pass that a powerful ring has been forged not by a Dark Lord, but by a Japanese developer. Released just this July, the Ring lets the wearer manage other smart devices. You can write memos, execute commands and control apps with just a flick of a finger. Apparently, this Smart Ring can rule them all. www.logbar.jp
SKYLOCK USD 159
TANGENT CLASSIC BT SPEAKER USD 677 The beautiful wood design may be a classic throwback to the Mad Men era, but the technology is definitely modern. With a B4Stream Bluetooth interface, infrared remote, USB port and crisp, powerful speaker, it is truly a sound marriage of function and elegant design. www.tangent-audio.com
The key element to this bicycle lock is that it has no key. Operated purely through a custom app, Skylock can lock and unlock itself just by the proximity of the smartphone. Solar-powered, it also takes only an hour’s worth of exposure under the sun to be recharged for the entire week. Green warriors get ready to swoon! www.skylock.com
VERTU SIGNATURE TOUCH WITH HASSELBLAD CAMERA AND BANG & OLUFSEN SPEAKERS
USD 677 Its rich calf leather design evokes the elegance of a bygone era, but don’t be fooled. Vertu Signature Touch is anything but archaic and the 4.7-inch display, 64-GB internal storage, Hasselblad Camera and Bang & Olufsen speakers are proof of that. You might also enjoy the Vertu Concierge, Life and Certainty services, but it’s the 118-carat solid sapphire crystal sheen that really justifies this splurge. www.vertu.com
Flowing, off-white, washed satin blouse, scalloped short sleeves and back Long, flowing skirt, cut in the bias in black glacĂŠ washed satin, LANVIN
Highland Recluse FO R O N CE, D EF Y CO N V ENTI O N S A N D TR A D E CO N V EN I EN CE FO R U N PR ED I C TA B I L IT Y A N D PER H A P S , E V EN I N S A N IT Y. D EPA RT TH E PA RT Y E A R LY A N D A BA N D O N TH E WO R L D FO R TH E PR I CEL E S S C A L L O F F R EED O M . W ITH A N E W LY D I S COV ER ED C A R EF R EE S PI R IT A N D A S E T O F I N S PI R ED EN S EM B L E S , LO S E YO U R WAY A N D U LTI M ATELY, YO U R S EL F A M I DS T RO U G H CO N D ITI O N S , O N LY TO F I N D A N D TO EM B R ACE A N E W K I N D O F W I L D R E V EL RY.
Sleeveless, petrol blue, compact stretch dress embroidered with long fringes, LANVIN
‘Raymee’ sleeveless maxi dress with waist tie, BCBGMAXAZRIA Bejewelled necklace with tassel, ADANTE LEYESA
Croco jacquard zip-up bomber jacket, STELLA McCARTNEY 24K gold-plated brass earrings with turquoise, ARNEL PAPA
Zip-up moto jacket with split hem, ALEXANDER WANG Freshwater pearl necklace with kamagong inside, ARNEL PAPA
‘Thalia’ draped bandage dress, HERVE LEGER Gold cuff with cubic zirconia, Gold ring with cubic zirconia and fishbone, ARNEL PAPA
Photography PAELO PEDRAJAS Styling JAMES SCOTT Model NIKOLINA Ideal People Model Management Hair & Make-up ANTON PATDU for MAC Cosmetics
SPECIAL THANKS: Lanvin Lane Crawford Hong Kong BCBGMAXAZRIA Herve Leger Adante Leyesa Arnel Papa Skyjet Airlines www.skyjetair.com Batanes Travel & Tours www.batanestravelandtours.com Fundacion Pacita Batanes Nature Lodge www.fundacionpacita.ph
Photo courtesy of ÂŠEmmanuel Berthier, Britanny Tourism
Countryside Calling Head to undulating and elevated lands this fall as the rolling hills and rough cliffs of rural territories in three different parts of the world become the destinations of choice for unique, dramatic and inspiring holidays. From romantic to ravishing, SJ ROXAS discovers how these striking terrains are carved by the elements to host the most enchanting communion with the great outdoors.
Photo courtesy of ©Emmanuel Berthier, Brittany Tourism
Pointe Saint Mathieu
French Connection Gazing at the wild, unspoilt scenery of grassy hills and jagged rock cliffs thriving in this quaint portion of France, the Eiffel Tower and the rest of the country’s iconic sites suddenly seem so out of reach. But this cultural region in the north-west of France couldn’t be more accessible what with land, air and water transport connecting it to the rest of the country, as well as to Ireland, Great Britain and Spain. The few hours of travel from neighbouring cities take you to the best of the countryside, where dramatic landscapes inspire experiences that are as sweet as that first bite of an authentic French macaron. The setting of your rural interlude is Brittany, a French territory with a rich Celtic culture and a history of intimate ties with the United Kingdom. Having majority of its edges surrounded by the English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean, stunning coastal retreats abound. But besides these seaside areas, Brittany also offers magnificent spots on dry land through old towns and picturesque hillside attractions.
Finistère, a department tucked farthest to the west of Brittany holds some of the region’s most sensational spots. On its tip lies an awe-inspiring headland called Pointe Saint Mathieu, where nature blends with dramatic structures that provide a foray into history. The most breathtaking part of the place is the cliff top area where a 56-m lighthouse built in 1835 stands. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the lush greenery of the Plougonvelin commune on the other. For even more spectacular vistas, climb the 163 steps that take you to the top of the tower and get utterly smitten by the gripping beauty of the panorama. Right next to the lighthouse, ruins of an abbey from the 16th century provide an insightful sojourn to the past. The Abbaye de St-Mathieu is revered both for its historical significance and its architectural character. Back then, it was granted many privileges including the right of flotsam and jetsam and the right of remains on wrecks that occurred within the lord’s territory. The monastery is also said to have held the skull of the apostle Matthew. Without such tales, the abbey is merely a stunning display of ancient architecture, but considering its rich history, the structure has become an important emblem of the past, with its mysterious arcades and hallways seen as precious vestiges that tell the story of a culture. To learn more about the monastery and the rest of Pointe Saint Mathieu, drop by
TOP TO BOTTOM Montagne St. Michael; Façade of Hostellerie de la Pointe Saint-Mathieu SIDEBAR Coast of Dinard
the abbey museum and the monument honouring the sailors of Brittany. If you’re not much of a history buff, take in the dramatic setting through sightseeing and walks. The Iroise Marine Park is nearby as is the G.R.34 walking trail, which showcases the rest of Brittany’s scenic countryside. While staying in the nearest city that is Brest is a viable option, nothing comes close to the experience of living within the rugged bounds of Pointe Saint-Mathieu. Said to be located at the ends of the earth, Hostellerie de la Pointe Saint-Mathieu is the perfect choice for a base when exploring this side of Brittany. This boutique property is only a short stroll from the lighthouse, so the views from here are also nothing short of mesmerising. Stay in the Superior Sea Room to enjoy such sights from your own balcony anytime. Being the most luxurious property with-
in the vicinity, there’s no need to go far for meals as the on-site restaurant has become a favourite among visitors for its foie gras, seafood, cheeses and wines. Brittany has such a wealth of alluring landscapes that it would be a shame to visit only one area. One of the other spots worth venturing to is the Monts d’Arrée with the highest and oldest hills in the region. This arid expanse of land is not more than an hour and a half from Pointe Saint-Mathieu and less than an hour from Brest, making it a worthy destination for a day tour. The best way to experience the site is by walking or cycling. While you’re journeying eastward, make a stop at the Montagne St-Michel and make your way to the top of the hill where a rustic chapel sits. The 360-degree view from this point is one to behold, promising to be a lasting memory of your Brittany escape.
Photo courtesy of ©Emmanuel Berthier, Britanny Tourism
Photo courtesy of © Ronnie Hervé, Brittany Tourism
The weather in Brittany is pleasant between March and October but it’s the middle up to the latter parts of the year that are most recommended for holidays, not only for the natural conditions, but also for the unique social events that are perfect reasons for gallivanting across the countryside. One of such notable spectacles is L’Art dans les Chapelles or Art in the Chapels, running from 4 July-21 September to showcase modern art in historic places of worship located in Pontivy and Blavet Valley. In the medieval town of Vannes, Fêtes Historiques de Vannes takes place on 12-14 July to celebrate a rich past, while soulful music takes over the commune on 28 July-2 August with a venerable jazz festival. For a more varied repertoire, there’s Festival du Bout du Monde or Land’s End Festival, set to bring an international crowd to the Crozon Peninsula on 1-3 August. Film buffs ought to be in the seaside town of Dinard this 8-12 October for the Festival of British Cinema, while sailing enthusiasts would want to be in Saint Malo on 25 October-2 November for Route du Rhum, a transatlantic single-handed yacht race. While sweeping the region’s event circuit, you might as well go on the hunt for the best galettes and crepes among other specialties of authentic Breton cuisine.
Classic Americana Its postcard-perfect scenery of undulating terrains, generously coated with burnt orange leaves, is enough to lull anyone to a relaxing, dream-like state. Then there’s the fact that hardly anybody else is around to share this surreal wonderland with, leaving you with all the freedom to enjoy the place however you desire. Vermont, a small, landlocked state in northeastern America, surely knows how to romanticise the outdoors. That inherent sense of peace and exclusivity is exactly what makes Vermont a timelessly charming retreat, more so during the fall season when its robust countryside transforms into a mesmerising oasis of still lakes and golden foliage. Barnard, a quiet town in Windsor County, is the quintessence of the American countryside. It has such a warm atmosphere that charms travellers of varying backgrounds, providing an idyllic escape to relax and revitalise the weary. For discerning visitors, only Twin Farms ticks all the boxes in the list of essentials that make up the most exquisite of vacations. Formerly owned by the Nobel Prize-winning author Sinclair Lewis, the estate hosted many political and literary figures until the 1950s when the property was acquired by the new owners. The following decades saw the conversion of the place into a private vacation home and eventually, into a bed and breakfast of only nine rooms. Business flourished and what was once a 1765-era farmhouse has delicately evolved into the lovely hotel and spa that it is today, offering 20 accommodation units and a host of luxurious amenities. This stunning, laid-back haven is worlds away from the chaos of the big city, yet only an hour and a half away from the nearest commercial airport in Burlington, the capital of Vermont. Before setting off to the backroads, Burlington provides some worthwhile urban attractions such as scenic parks and heritage sites. If you’d rather steer clear of the city, a visit in the nearby town of Woodstock is a better idea, especially for anyone taking the five-hour drive from New York City to Barnard. It’s home to many attractions including the Billings Farm and Museum, where you’ll learn about the local way of life. The place is especially entertaining for the little ones as they’ll get to interact with animals like horses, cows and sheep. The Sugarbush Farm is also a worthwhile stop, particularly for epicures. Aside from
June at Twin Farms
aged cheddar and other cheeses of the artisanal type, this is where you can stock up on some of the best maple products; Vermont, after all, is the biggest producer of maple syrup in the US. Upon reaching Barnard, it would be hard not to notice the sweet serenity that pervades throughout the place. The way to Twin Farms is already quite the spectacle, with charming neighbourhoods filling your sight at every turn, but thoughts on matters beyond the 300-ac property are quickly set aside the moment you set foot on the magnificent sanctuary. It has such a unique quality in that it is both relaxing and energising at the same time, with touches of luxury in ample supply. Ensconced in the thickness of deciduous trees, the bucolic scenery is only made more enchanting by the cool autumn breeze. The accommodation options vary in size, location and style, featuring individually designed countryside abodes replete with lavish appointments. Choosing which one to book may come as a challenge as every unit has a distinct character and would fit right in on the pages of every interior design magazine. These gorgeous living spaces are reason enough to keep coming back, if only to try each one or stay in a favourite over and over again. Chalet, a two-level, 3,000-sq ft cottage with two bedrooms, two
Photo courtesy of Ellen Curran and Dennis Curran, www.vermontvacation.com
Photo courtesy of Skye Chalmers, www.vermontvacation.com
CLOCKWISE An autumn canopy; A barn in rural Vermont; Interiors of Chalet, Twin Farms SIDEBAR Church Street Marketplace in Burlington
bathrooms and two fireplaces, is worth the splurge if you’re looking for space and privacy. The unparalleled view of Mount Ascutney is also one of the reasons why it’s the most popular choice among guests. Everyone, it seems, thoroughly enjoys wine-fuelled conversations next to the fieldstone fireplace and long dips in the hot tub at the private porch that overlooks the mountains. Since stays at Twin Farms are on an all-inclusive basis, there’s never a need to take out your wallet while in the property. Besides on-site activities and gratuities, free-flowing fine wines and spirits, farmto-table dinners, bonfires with s’mores and barbeques are some of the numerous and thoughtful inclusions that take your Vermont holiday to a new level. Twin Farms is truly a destination in itself. From picnic lunches in any location to games like bocce ball and croquet, there are enough activities and attractions to keep each guest occupied for days. The owners’ museum-quality art collection alone is a feature that never fails to fascinate guests. Loved by both
Venture to the rest of Vermont while staying at Twin Farms by arrang ing tours through the hotel’s guest services team. Head to the nearby Silver Lake for paddling, fishing and sightseeing, tee off at the Quechee Club Golf Course, and shop for furniture, pottery and antiques in Bridgewater. For something a little less ordinary, drop by the Simon Pearce Gallery and catch glassblowing and pottery demonstrations. Remember to ask about the private shopping service exclusive to Twin Farms guests and pick up a souvenir or two. The gallery and store is as great a stop for gastronomy as it is for retail for its multi-awarded restaurant, so lingering longer for a meal is ideal.
young and old, Twin Farms is a place where kids go hiking and biking as well as enjoy an extensive collection of books, movies and games, while adults get pampered at Out of the Woods Spa, indulging in organic treatments or soaking in a Japanese soaking tub called the ‘furo’. For oenophiles, the 20,000-bottle wine cellar is always a treat – a collection comprised of Dom Perignon, Ornellaia, Penfolds Grange, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild, Dominus, David Arthur Elevation 1147, Screaming Eagle and other premium bottles keeps the mood spirited. Twin Farms’ own Copper Pond is a treasured feature as it has been the site of many unforgettable moments among visiting lovebirds and families. If you’re lucky, you might even get to enjoy the whole area to yourself. It doesn’t matter whether you’re swimming, fishing, canoeing across the water or simply lounging on the bank, the pond area is a lovely setting to bond with loved ones and build lasting memories of the Vermont countryside.
THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE Tea plantation; Bird House; Deluxe Room; Cameron Bar OPPOSITE PAGE Fresh strawberries from a farm in Cameron Highlands
Little England Defined by an endless landscape of majestic humps covered in verdant foliage, this expansive hill station boasts a more refined, almost spa-like atmosphere. Tea plantations run the course of its slopes and small towns dot the undulating scenery, making up a beguiling environment. The Cameron Highlands, in all its cool, misty glory, is Malaysia’s ‘Little England’ and so much more. From Kuala Lumpur, it takes only about three hours to reach this marvellous retreat. The pleasant drop in the temperature is what welcomes you upon approaching the area – complemented, of course, by views of rolling hills with a carpet of lush greenery. Unlike the rugged terrains of a cliffside countryside, this one has a gentler appeal but just as captivating. There are several activities to get busy with, but since the Cameron Highlands is about as big as Singapore, choosing the proper base is of prime importance. Ideally located atop a hill, showcasing vistas of the sloping woodlands, The Lakehouse is an exquisite choice for accommodations. Its close proximity to the towns of Tanah Rata and Ringlet and to farmlands and many other attractions makes it a great point from which you can explore local culture and commune with the splendid natural environment. Occupying such a privileged spot, the views from this boutique resort alone are a highlight of the trip, with sights that seem to have come alive from a painting surrounding the premises. This Tudor-style country house features some charming outdoor areas such as a garden and a terrace where you are to lounge, cradled by the crisp mountain breeze while sipping tea. For your highlands abode, the resort offers a fine selection of 19 tastefully designed rooms. Old-world elegance resonates in every living space as antique table fans, wooden armoires and other refinements, evocative of the past, serve as fancy and functional adornments. The Foster Suite, former residence of re-
tired British army officer Colonel Stanley Jack Foster, who had The Lakehouse constructed in 1966, is the most lavish of all accommodation options. It harks back to the old days as it exudes a traditional English appeal, made even more captivating by its secluded location. Add to the picture a log wood fireplace, a walk-in wardrobe, and large vanity areas, among other luxurious features and what you have is a large, charming cottage that makes staying in always exciting. Then again, there’s a plethora of reasons to step out. With five lovely spots where you can either simply sit back and have tea or indulge in a grand gastronomic feast, The Lakehouse promises unforgettable epicurean moments. Start the morning with a semi-continental spread at the restaurant, conclude the day at the bar with some premium Scotch whisky, and in between, find time to enjoy lunch at the Highlander Lounge, coffee and a literary classic at the Reading Lounge and afternoon scones at the Lakeview Terrace. With traditional English cuisine, local favourites, vegetarian specials and fine wines yours to enjoy, this wondrous resort presents the splendour of the countryside along with some memorable dining sensations. In between dainty tea parties and scrumptious dinners, indulge in invigorating treatments at Satkara Spa to attain mind and body balance. The hotel’s own wellness oasis has an impressive menu of therapies, which includes rituals that combine overall relief. Try ‘Serenity’ and enjoy three whole hours of utter pampering, starting with a signature tea foot bath followed by a lavender body polish, a petal bath, an aromatherapy massage and concludes with a facial. For a more active experience and to fully take in the unique beauty of the Cameron Highlands, book a tour or two that will showcase the different facets of this endearing destination. The Lakehouse offers an array of packages that takes you to attractions that are worth checking out. For starters, get your hiking shoes ready and venture on a trek to the
Much like the rest of Malaysia, any one who has made the visit will agree that the Cameron Highlands is very much a gourmand’s paradise. Besides tea, scones, and the sumptuous treats in hotels, the dishes (whether halal or otherwise) served in the restaurants of Brinchang and Tanah Rata are worth the side trip. From curries to
forest near the hotel. Not to be missed, though, is the country and farmland tour, the definitive activity that has the essential spots mapped out for you to visit. One of the highlights is the BOH Tea Plantation where an undulating terrain covered in rows of tea bushes is a sight of pure splendour. At 8,000 ac, this is the largest tea plantation in Southeast Asia. The place is peaceful and the air is cool and fresh, begging you to linger longer, and perhaps even enjoy a cuppa and cake at the BOH Tea Shop. For the curious, there are guided tours around the factory, detailing the process of tea making. Worthwhile visits to a strawberry farm, a butterfly garden, the Time Tunnel Museum and a Buddhist temple are among the other parts of the tour to look forward to. Lasting for half a day, you can either spend the rest of your time relax-
cheesecakes, there is a wide array of flavours for every palate. The Brinchang Night Market every Saturday and the Kea Farm Market are also favourites among food enthusiasts for the fresh produce. Aside from cabbage, strawberries and honey of the freshest kind, flowers, potted plants and souvenirs are also available.
ing at the hotel or carry on with more exploration. Tanah Rata, the largest town in the Cameron Highlands, is a good addition to any itinerary, especially for anyone who seeks the relief and conveniences of modern establishments. Although far from being a highly commercialised city, Tanah Rata has a good concentration of souvenir shops, moneychangers, bars and restaurants. It also provides a more convivial setting to interact with more locals and meet fellow tourists. What makes the Cameron Highlands a truly special place is not only its breathtaking scenery and calming atmosphere, but also its interesting culture. It has strong British connections but has managed to retain its warm, Asian spirit. Just like the air that circulates around this elevated Malaysian region, any interlude here is absolutely refreshing and exhilarating.
A Sumptuous Koh Samui Sidetrip For an island you can circle by car in less than two hours, traffic including, Koh Samui proves to be a charming escape for many reasons. KAT MODELO-EFENIO found no shortage of delightful experiences, only time, during her indulgent 48-hour trip on the island.
PHOTO COURTESY OF BANYAN TREE HOTELS & RESORTS
Day 1 11:25am - Of First Impressions I’m one to adore moments that make mental notes completely unnecessary. My first glimpse of Koh Samui, as the plane descended for landing is one I won’t easily forget for the giddying bird’seye view of turquoise waters fringing golden sands. Apart from Bangkok Airways’ on-the-dot arrival, an unexpected tropical atmosphere of the resort-like airport welcomed me to the island.
12:40pm Midday Indulgence Nothing excites more than the thought of having fresh seafood for lunch than of course, actually eating it, al fresco, while facing the beach. With the sun shining gloriously at Anantara Bophut Resort & Spa’s Full Moon restaurant, I tucked into the Seared Ahi Tuna Loin for starters and the stellar entrée of Premium Grilled Snow Fish. I resolved to skip dessert and just indulged in the views of the pool blending with the beach for a sweet ending.
4:00pm Lavish Relaxation
PHOTO COURTESY OF BANYAN TREE HOTELS & RESORTS
As if basking under the sun for hours is a tiring activity, I next find myself waiting to be pampered in one of Banyan Tree Spa Samui’s dimly lit treatment rooms. The 150-minute Royal Banyan treatment is heaven-sent for the Lemongrass and Cucumber Scrub and Herbal Pouch Massage that did wonders to my skin and aching muscles.
8:30pm A Winner Dinner I couldn’t have picked a better destination for dinner on my first night than Six Senses Samui’s Dining on the Rocks. Seated in one of the outdoor platforms, I wallowed in panoramic seascapes and exquisite dishes off the 10-course Simplicity signature set menu. The downside, if anything, was maintaining focus on the meal, as I was getting heady from staring at the enchanting views.
Day 2 10:30am Brunch,Beach and Books The Library’s red pool has got to be the sexiest pool I have seen in a while. Following an early lunch at The Page, I chose a cosy spot facing the calm beach and, book in hand, absorbed some sun amidst a dramatic scarlet backdrop. Already intriguing on its own, the pool’s defiant contrast to the blues of the sky and sea only adds to its allure.
6:00pm Night-time Pleasures One of few rituals of mine when travelling involves the sunset, cocktails and the magical combination of the two. W Retreat Koh Samui is just the place, where I started with sundowners at Sip bar, enjoyed a barbecue dinner at the Beach Grill and, as with all my other W visits, ending the night in Woobar is a requisite I dare not miss.
Koh Samui Cheat Sheet And then, there are some things I would make mental notes of, just for good measure.
Best Beach • Lamai
• Big Buddha • Hin-Ta and Hin-Yai rock formations
• Angthong National Marine Park • Ko Pha Ngan Island
Where to stay Taling Ngam Beach
rrival by speedboat or limousine?” would be one of the questions you’ll be answering when staying at InterContinental Samui Baan Taling Ngam Resort. I guess, it doesn’t really matter, as you’ll be met with a bubbly welcome of champagne and scenic views either way. The “home on the beautiful cliff”, as it is aptly named, is a 22-acre resort nestled in a verdant coconut plantation. You are right to think that privacy is top-notch here, with its secluded location far from the bustle of Koh Samui. Here, you’ll wake up to views of the Angthong National Marine Park – the nearby staple attraction made up of limestone cliffs and white-sand beaches – from your room, suite or villa of choice. With 79 accommodations in all, split across eight categories, you’d think choosing can get tricky. To make it easier, all are spacious, elegantly designed and well appointed with luxuries, but the resort’s only Three-Bedroom Napa Reserve Villa is the one to book for lavish stays in a 600 sqm space with its own private sundeck, swimming pool and living, dining and kitchen areas. It won’t take long to convince you that you need at least two nights in this stunning resort. Not counting the hours you’d like to spend just lounging about in the villa, there are a host of experiences offered that you simply can’t miss out on. When you’re not enjoying relaxing Ayurvedic treatments at Baan Thai Spa, perched 120-m high up on a cliff, you’d rather be cruising on a speedboat to the nearby Five Islands marine reserve during sunset, or maybe just sunbathe on hour’s end at the resort’s own stretch of private beach. Also, there are seven swimming pools, five of which come in different colours. This is utterly spoiling and a bit tough for the indecisive. Add to this four dining destinations, complimentary water sports and recreation activities in and around the resort, and you might just be tempted to stay longer than planned. It isn’t a wonder why the resort made it to the New York Times bestselling book ‘1,000 Places To See Before You Die’.
Where to stay Bophut Beach
t would probably take you two blinks to realise that you have actually arrived at this lovely destination with a short, 10-minute drive from the airport. Besides its gorgeous infinity pool centrepiece and the strip of white-beach fronting it, Hansar Samui will have you at “thrice daily happy hours”, among other surprises. Occupying a quiet stretch of Koh Samui in Bophut Beach, you’ll find charming accommodations – 74 all-beachfront rooms you’d love to call home during your stay on the island. The rooms’ open-plan bathroom is a clever and sophisticated use of space, but the spacious balcony, with its cosy daybed, is a definite favourite for lounging amid full views of the beach and pool.
Watching the infinity pool from your balcony will only last a few minutes. In no time, you’ll find yourself reclining on a sunbed in between dips in the saltwater pool. When the sun gets too hot, retreat to the nearby Beach Bar to cool off with some fresh juices and healthy smoothies, without forgetting that happy hour happens three times a day here. Delicious, handcrafted twofor-one cocktails are yours to imbibe daily at 1:30, 6:30 and 9:30pm. The quiet stretch of white-sand beach fronting the resort is also lined with sun loungers, just in case you want to dig your toes in the sand with a drink in hand. Come sundown, warm lights illuminate H Bistro restaurant, creating a truly relaxing and romantic setting for dinner. In the kitchen, Executive Chef Stephen Jean Dion carefully creates delectable French Mediterranean specialties and delightful Thai dishes using only the freshest produce available during the season. As a former
private chef to the King of Jordan, Chef Stephen is a perfectionist in the kitchen and his skills are evident in every divine plate waiting to be served at your table. Flickering candles on tabletops and the salty breeze round off your royal dining experience at H Bistro. Couples can also enjoy Dining Under the Stars complete with all the works – romantic setup by the beach and the chef’s special set menu for two, barefoot butler service included. Ending the night with a stroll at the nearby Fisherman’s Village is recommended, especially if you’re guilty of cleaning all seven courses of the Chef’s Dinner Special set menu. Exploring the cobblestone street lined with shops, trendy cafes and chic watering holes is also a charming introduction to the local way of life in Koh Samui. A visit to the award-winning Luxsa Spa is also something you can’t miss during your stay at the resort. Take your relaxation further with decadent treatments based on the four elements – earth, water, air and fire. Every tailored spa ex-
perience starts by determining your body element and finding the right treatment to match. Expert hands will not only lull you to bliss during the treatment, as spa therapists aim to bring back the balance of the four elements to your body. You’ll find that a weekend is not enough for you to truly savour the allure of Hansar Samui. If you have the luxury of time, why not stay longer and go on a sunset cruise, learn to mix signature cocktails at the Chill Lounge, go on a full day island tour or explore other islands nearby As long as you extend your stay in this captivating resort, any reason at all will do.
Hansar Gives Back Not only is Hansar Samui passionate about providing a unique resort experience, the team is also heading corporate social responsibility programs to give back to the community. Proceeds from the resort’s own organic garden and fish farm fund monthly activities, from mentoring programs to educational scholarships. Guests are also welcome to donate and participate in the resort’s community-based initiative.
Photo courtesy of Rodrigo Medel Santibáñez, www.agencianou.com
EX PL OR ING ECUA DOR
Straddling the equator between Colombia and Peru, the small but spectacular Andean nation of Ecuador is an amazing South American destination for many reasons. MARY MORTON for luxury travel company Abercrombie & Kent, brings this rewarding destination to life with her top experiences from the capital to the wilderness.
Photo courtesy of Bert Smit
Aerial view of Quito.
acked with startling contrasts of scenery and featuring astounding biodiversity, an impressive historical legacy, stunning colonial architecture, bustling highland markets and a diverse ethnic mix, it’s easy to see why this friendly and exotic destination is regarded as a microcosm of South America. From the icy pinnacles of Chimborazo, to the tropical forests of vast reserves like Parque Nacional Yasuní, to the palm-fringed beaches of the Pacific coast, Ecuador hums with life – and it’s all within easy reach of Quito, the capital. Quito The historic and scenically splendid capital Quito with its colonial attractions – and in particular its UNESCO World Heritage listed Old Town, are the ideal starting point for any visit to Ecuador. Nestled on a long and winding narrow valley, surrounded by stunning Andean volcanoes, hills and mountains, Quito is particularly proud of its Pre-Columbian past. Once the capital of the mythical Kingdom of Quito, the city became the Northern Capital of the Inca Empire during the few decades of Inca reign. Later on, during the Spanish Colonial period, which lasted nearly 300 years, it was known as Spanish America’s Capital of Art, frequently referred to as the Florence of the Americas. During the colonial period, dozens of monumental cathedrals, churches, cloisters and convents were built in Quito. Their exteriors alone became masterpieces of stone carving and architecture, while their interiors were filled with the most remarkable works of religious art, paintings, sculptures and ornamentation that fused European baroque styles with Amerindian colours,
shapes, visions, characters and elements. In 1978 UNESCO declared the city’s Historic Centre as the first ever World Cultural Heritage Site, and the Old City is considered to be one of the largest and best-preserved colonial quarters of Latin America. Spend a day strolling through Quito’s charming colonial plazas, taking in some of the city’s many churches. Located on Calle Sucre and capped by green and gold domes, La Compañía de Jesús is undoubtedly the most ornate amongst these. The marvellously gilded Jesuit church was begun in 1605 and not completed for another 160 years. Featuring Moorish elements, perfect symmetry (right down to the trompe l’oeil staircase at the rear) and Ecuadorian plants and indigenous faces hidden along the pillars, Quiteños proudly call it the most beautiful church in the country and it’s easy to see why. In the very heart of the old city is the majestic Church and Convent of San Francisco, Quito’s oldest Catholic cathedral. Presiding over the western side of the immense and historic Square of San Francisco, the city’s oldest and largest plaza, its construction began just one year after the Spanish foundation of the city in 1534 and was not completed until 1605. An intriguing mix of baroque and Amerindian influences, the main dome and the lateral altars also feature amazing religious sculptures and paintings including the famous Winged Virgin of Quito, a wooden masterpiece of the mestizo sculptor Bernardo de Legarda. The church also has a special altar for the venerated sculpture of the Jesus del Gran Poder, a statue that only leaves the church for a few hours once a year during the giant Good Friday Procession. Alongside the church is the Franciscan Convent with its quiet patios and interior courtyards, fountains and
Photo courtesy of Isabel Maldonado, www.flickr.com/mali_mf
Photo courtesy of Ximena Cabezas, www.flickr.com/ximenacab
art collections, which are also worth visit for some fine examples of religious art.
TOP TO BOTTOM Panorama of El Panecillo, Quito; Basilica Del Voto Nacional
El Panecillo An afternoon absorbing the sights in and around Panecillo Hill, with its breathtaking views across Quito is also not to be missed. El Panecillo as it is referred to locally, rises an impressive 200m above the city, itself over 3,000m above sea level. According to local historian, Juan de
Velasco, the peak was originally home to an Indian temple used by the local Indians to worship the sun, but this was destroyed by the early Spanish conquistadores. In 1976, the Spanish artist Agustín de la Herrán Matorras was commissioned by the religious order of the Oblates to build a 45-m-tall aluminium monument of a Madonna, which was assembled on a high pedestal on the top of Panecillo. Made of an astonishing seven thousand pieces of aluminium, the monument was inspired by the famous Virgen de Quito also known as ‘the dancer’ sculpted by Bernardo de Legarda in 1734, which now decorates the main altar at the Church of St. Francis. This Madonna represents a turning point of the Quito School of Art (one of the most renowned of the Americas) showing the Virgin Mary in movement, a stark contrast to the traditional motionless Madonnas that were produced during the 18th century.
Photo courtesy of Bert Smit
( A B O VE ) C A P T I O N 01 C A P T I O N 02 C A P T I O N 03 C A P T I O N 04
Art Behind the Scenes One of the most surprising experiences in the capital is the opportunity to meet acclaimed local artist Osvaldo Viteri in his Quito studio. A neo-figurative artist, Viteri gained recognition for his assemblage work, but has worked in a wide variety of media including painting, drawing, printmaking and mosaics. A native of Quito, he began his education as an architecture student at the Central University of Quito in the early 1950s, but began focusing on painting and studying anthropology and folklore in the 1960s. Following his appointment as director of the Ecuadorian Institute of Folklore in the mid 60s, he began to explore more experimental techniques of art incorporating collage and objects into his canvases. Regarded as a living treasure in his own country, since the 1960s, Viteri’s
CLOCKWISE Plaza Grande in Quito; Wooden handicrafts in a local market; Woven mats for sale
assemblage works have been exhibited around the world and he has been the recipient of numerous awards and accolades. His house in northern Quito is now a museum, and Abercrombie & Kent offers a ‘behind the scenes’ visit to his studio and private collection where his passion for colonial religious art and views on local politics, religion and Ecuadorean society provide a remarkable insight to the city and its people. Room With a View After a day or so exploring Quito’s charms, check in to a luxurious suite at the Hotel Plaza Grande, with its unrivalled location in the heart of the Old City. Housed within the shell of the former Hotel Majestic, the capital’s
Photos courtesy of Abdul Hye
Retail Therapy For some retail relief, visitors will be sorely tempted by a visit to some of Quito’s local markets, laden with fresh produce and local handicrafts. The district of La Mariscal is the best place for crafts, from llama rugs and jewellery at La Mariscal Craft Market through to ethnic art at the impressive Folklore Olga Fisch gallery-shop. Find the finest Panama hats at Homero Ortega & Hijos in the New Town or choose fair-trade wooden bowls and woven mats at the Sinchi Sacha Foundation in the Old Town.
flagship offering for nearly half a century, the building is a landmark in itself and the view over Plaza de la Independencia and its wonderful colonial monuments is nothing short of breathtaking. And with only 15 suites, it is truly boutique and exclusive, offering exceptional personalised service. The Plaza View suites justify their higher price tag with more ample bathrooms, containing handsome marble and wood washbasins and balconies with views of the main square below or García Moreno Street. The second floor is taken up with the hotel’s flagship La Belle époque restaurant, serving French and international dishes, amid an art nouveau inspired décor. And don’t miss El Claustro wine bar housed in the basement, which boasts no less than 1,500 bottles!
Unforgettable Wildlife Beyond the charms of Quito, Ecuador is perhaps most famous for its wildlife. The steamy jungle wilderness of the Oriente and the mist-shrouded lowland cloud forests hold and protect just some of the country’s astonishing array of flora and fauna: there are more bird species per square kilometre in Ecuador than any other South American country and more orchids than anywhere else on the planet. The country’s greatest draw, though, are the captivating Galápagos Islands, nearly 1,000km from the mainland, whose extraordinary wildlife inspired Charles Darwin and changed the world. The Galapagos are full of incredible wildlife experiences, and a seven-day cruise on A&K’s MV Eclipse provides a fascinating insight into this unique archipelago. Guests board the luxury vessel at Baltra Island, a short flight from Quito, and spend the next six days exploring the best of the islands and their wildlife. The voyage concentrates on the protected areas of the Galapagos National Park and most expeditions, accompanied by an expert naturalist guide, are by pangas
– inflatable, motorised rubber vessels. These manoeuvre smoothly into bays, offering unequalled opportunities for photography and up-close observation. A&K offers two well-balanced Galapagos Islands itineraries to choose from – both of which allow visitors to see the archipelago’s unique flora and fauna. Both also visit the remote western region, giving greater opportunities of seeing penguins, flightless cormorants, large marine iguanas, whales and dolphins. The Genovesa cruise covers parts of central, north and northwestern Galapagos, with highlights including marine iguanas, snorkelling and tortoises,
THIS PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM Puente Del Roto, Cuenca; Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve; Superior Court, Cuenca OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM Catedral Nueva, Cuenca; Exterior of MV Eclipse
penguin colonies and fur sea lions. The Española cruise covers parts of central, south and south-western Galapagos, taking in the spectacular population of waved albatrosses, sea lions, nesting frigates and blue-footed boobies, land iguanas, dolphins and orcas. The Cloud Forest For off the beaten track adventures, the Mashpi cloud forest on the western slopes of the Andes is a must. From Quito, travellers pass the Equator Monument and Latitude 0 en route to the Mashpi Rainforest Biodiversity Reserve, beautiful and brimming with wildlife, and extending over a vast 1,300 hectares. After a stop at the Hummingbird Viewpoint to learn more about these irrepressible flying machines, guests are then ferried by electric buggy to the award-winning Mashpi Lodge. There is plenty of opportunity to enjoy the beauty and magic of the forest, and guests are encouraged to start at dawn when most birds are active and calling, and views are often at their most spectacular. Other activities include an adventure on the ‘canopy gondola’, guided nature trails, a visit to the discovery centre, night walks, a ride through the canopy on an aerial bicycle and waterfall visits. Colonial Cuenca For an opportunity to experience Ecuador’s pre-Columbian and Inca heritage, travel to Cuenca, Ecuador’s third largest city and capital of Azuay Province. Located in Ecuador’s highlands, at over 2,500m above sea level, it was one of the first cities in the Inca Empire. Full of historical buildings, its centre is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Perfectly explored on foot, the old cobbled streets and ironwork balconies of Cuenca are a charm in itself. Highlights include the Cathedral, the famous Homero Ortega Panama Hat-making factory, the Modern Art Museum and the Archaeological Museum. But visitors should also take a day to explore the
nearby Inca ruins of Ingapirca, regarded as Ecuador’s most important archaeological site. The most significant of these is the Temple of the Sun, an elliptically shaped building constructed around a large rock. The stones were carefully chiselled and fashioned to fit together perfectly, and the temple was positioned so that on the solstices, at exactly the right time of day, sunlight would fall through the centre of the doorway of the small chamber at the top of the temple. While most of the chamber has now collapsed, it is still possible to gain a fascinating insight into temple life in Incan times from the extensive remains including the Inca baths and the small museum. Intricate Inca stonework is still being excavated to this day. When to Go Ecuador is a year-round destination. The warmest and driest months in the highland areas are June to September. Outside these months, the weather is typically sunny and clear in the mornings with some rain in the afternoon. The best time to visit the coastal regions is from December to April. From May to November, it’s often overcast and relatively cool, especially in the south, with less chance of rainfall. The Galápagos climate sees hot, sunny days interspersed with the odd heavy shower from January to June, and dry and overcast weather for the rest of the year, when the garúa mists are prevalent.
A&K’s eleven-day ‘Sail the Enchanted Isles’ journey includes a seven-night luxury Galapagos cruise aboard MV Eclipse, a visit to Osvaldo Viteri’s studio and a two-night stay at Hotel Plaza Grande and is priced from USD9,355 per person. The three-day ‘Ecuador’s Cloud Forest’ extension is priced from USD1,875 per person and the three-day ‘Cuenca Extension’ starts from USD755 per person. www.abercrombiekent.com.au
Abercrombie & Kent is the world’s leading luxury travel business. A&K organises private, tailored and escorted travel to every corner of the globe and has a wholly owned portfolio of cruise boats, luxury lodges, tented camps, hotels, and all-terrain vehicles. Whether travelling solo, as a couple, with a family or in an escorted group, A&K is expert in providing luxury, experiential and memorable travel experiences.
Reaffirming its title as the pearl of the Andaman Sea, Phuket continues to charm with a plethora of delights. SJ Roxas scours the island to find its most spectacular spots for a long weekend of shameless tropical splendour.
Space and Serenity at Maikhao Beach The doors swung open and revealed what seemed like an endless hallway warmly lit by ornate chandeliers. Upon stepping into the foyer, I discovered more pairs of doors leading to the kitchen and other areas. The villa is so massive I couldn’t quite figure out how my companion and I would make use of all the space. Ah, but it’s a dilemma I don’t mind having any day. It had been a hectic week at work and this Phuket trip is exactly what I needed for an indulgent weekend of diversion. Maikhao Dream Villa Resort & Spa, a heavenly beachfront gem set amidst the sandy shores and pine trees of Maikhao Beach, hosted my first days on the coast of the Andaman Sea. Within the first few minutes of arriving in Phuket, I was convinced this trip would be unforgettable as I sat comfortably in the resort’s very own BMW sedan that swiftly took us from the airport to the property in roughly 15 minutes.
CLOCKWISE Aerial view of Maikhao Dream Villa Resort & Spa; Main bedroom of one of the villas; Three-Bedroom Pool Villa; TwoBedroom Pool Villa
Surprisingly, the 5,000-sq ft two-bedroom villa that had me in awe for its sheer size happens to be Maikhao Dream Villa Resort’s smallest accommodation unit. This is a sprawling abode that comes with two baths (each with a large soaking tub), three toilets, living and dining areas, plus a fully equipped kitchen with its own fully stocked wine cooler – and this is just inside. On the other side of the glass doors, a private plunge pool, an outdoor jet pool, a wooden sun deck and a Thai sala featuring a gong complete the puzzle. Private access to the beach and the charming views that come with it are added features that make this seaside hideaway all the more impressive. Having taken an evening flight, we decided to stay in for the night to rest and simply bask in the splendour of our humongous villa. The complimentary butler service came in handy for unpacking while enjoying tea. I’m not sure if it was the tea, the serene atmosphere of the place or the hours-long flight but I drifted into deep slumber shortly thereafter – and had a Maikhao dream, if you will. The following day brought about more delight, starting with a breakfast buffet at Dokbua Restaurant. As any holidaymaker would have it, a sumptuous meal was followed by idle moments, preferably with sand between the toes. A few steps after breakfast, we resorted to the chaise lounges directly facing the Andaman Sea and for a few minutes, just took in the marvellous scenery. It was a nice, sunny Saturday morning so I took the opportunity to explore the area and went on a walk northward. As I go further, each foot sinking in the moist sandy ground with every step, it dawned on me how secluded and private this slice of Phuket really is. With nothing much but pine trees surrounding it, Maikhao Dream Villa Resort & Spa is an ideal getaway, indeed, especially for those who want nothing to do with the chaos of the big city for the time being. Besides the generous space and the peaceful location, there are several other elements that make Maikhao Dream Phuket a wondrous affair. Perhaps one of the moments that I fondly recall is the ritual dinner, which gave me a taste of both delectable flavours and warm hospitality. Based on the chakras, this unique dining experience offers a special menu that highlights the colour and body region connected to a specific energy centre. That night,
the root chakra, associated to the area at the base of the spine and symbolised by the colour red, was in focus. Hence, the ever-gracious resident chef Stuart Hickman served delights starting with a succulent beef Carpaccio with beets, while decadent truffles and strawberry panna cotta concluded the feast with a fitting exclamation point. More than beach lounging and dining, Maikhao Dream Phuket also offers a variety of other worthwhile activities through fitness training, yachting, golf courses and a kids club program for guests between four and 12 years old. But if you’re like me, who finds the stress-relieving benefits of massages utterly priceless, you ought to book a signature spa treatment at the Maikhao Dream Spa and relish the true meaning of a vacation. Island Revelry Phuket, as I’ve come to realise, is a vast province, being Thailand’s largest island. In fact, driving along Thepkasattri Road, the main highway, almost feels like being in the outskirts of a nearby metropolis – until, of course, the beckoning waves of the sea make a welcome appearance from afar. Given
THIS PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM The Silvercraft 38cc; James Bond Island and Ko Tapu OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM The Naka Island; Phi Phi Islands
its size, Phuket’s numerous attractions are not exactly within walking distance. This is why it’s necessary to arrange transport service or better yet, book a half-day or whole-day tour that takes you to the island’s different places of interest. These include Wat Chalong, an important temple that provides a great insight into Buddhist faith, Phuket Old Town, a historical district where quaint shop-houses and cafes take tourists down memory lane, and, if you’re up
for something out of the ordinary, the grandiose cabaret shows at Patong Beach and in Phuket town. In case you need to pick up a thing or two, drop by Central Festival and sample Phuket’s budding mall culture. Personally, I like to keep close to the sea, so one of the highlights of my time in Phuket was, well, leaving it. The province is surrounded by countless islands and it would be a shame not to visit one. Thankfully, Limestone Adventures offers private charters to different destinations through its impressive fleet, ranging from powerful speedboats to luxury yachts perfect for overnight cruises. Some of the destinations offered are Phi Phi Islands, the Similans and Krabi. My friend and I opted for Phang Nga Bay, popular for the iconic James Bond Island featured in the movie The Man with the Golden Gun. On board Limestone Adventures’ Silvercraft 38 CC, it was utterly exhilarating as we cruised across emerald waters, along walls of fantastic limestone formations. The boat is equipped with a bathroom, a cushioned sunning area and a high-quality stereo system, so frolicking in the middle of the sea is always comfortable and stylish.
Besides seeing the famous James Bond Island, one of the most memorable parts of the half-day boat trip was when we entered this large lagoon surrounded by a fortress of limestone cliffs. We could have paddled around as we had a kayak on-board, but we were too mesmerised to even remember that! We also had the chance to visit a unique settlement in Koh Panyee. Seeing an entire village built on stilts is quite the
spectacle, especially upon realising it has its own school, clinic and a mosque that’s even visible from the distance. Before heading straight back to the marina, we stopped by Naka Island where our crew set up a picnic lunch by the beach. There were no other tourists in the area, but several vendors selling drinks were in sight, so I decided to get some fresh coconuts. I finished two as the refreshing sweetness of the natural
THIS PAGE, CLOCKWISE On-site Thai boxing class.; Baba Soul Food; Cool Spa; Duo of shrimp green curry and shrimp coconut dip with crispy rice crackers OPPOSITE PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM Baba Nest; One-Bedroom Pool Villa
juice went perfectly with the tangy and superb dishes that Limestone Adventures’ chef prepared for us. This private boat tour is easily one of my favourite parts of the weekend. Cape Panwa Culture With its wide selection of coastal hot spots, it’s advisable to stay in different portions of Phuket in the course of several visits. An extended stay may even be in order to uncover the many sides of the island during one trip. It certainly crossed my mind, several times, to rebook flights and prolong what was supposedly a brief weekend trip while staying in Sri Panwa. This magnificent resort atop Cape Panwa had me longing for more time on the island not only to saunter about on the shores of the south-eastern Andaman Sea, but also to lounge endlessly in our One Bedroom Luxury Pool Villa. The resort is nothing short of dreamy, having such a spectacular location and sexy living spaces replete with premium appointments. The little touches, such as the shower that doubles as a steam room and the iPods, preloaded with playlists featuring everything from ambient music to Thai Songs, make all the difference. Then there’s the jetted tub in the bathroom, the Nespresso set in the pantry and the Bose sound systems in the bedroom and
the separate living room, which are all great, but the most exquisite feature of our villa is the vision of an inspiring panorama. Observing other holidaymakers catch rays on the floating dock below or watching yachts passing by from the private infinity pool or even from bed, can disarm anyone. As tempting as it was to stay in, I found several reasons to tear myself away from our villa –although, I didn’t end up very far. Sri Panwa, after all, has a host of thoughtful facilities including a beach pool, a game room, tennis courts, water sports equipment and even boats ranging from traditional longtail ones to private yachts. There’s also a secluded beach complete with sun loungers. All are only a minute or two away, reached through a ride in Sri Panwa’s own version of the tuktuk. In the pursuit of a different experience but still definitively Thai, I ended up in the fitness centre. I was met by Khun Toon, once the top Thai
boxer in Phuket, who introduced me to Thailand’s national sport. Upon changing into my boxing shorts and after my trainer, almost ceremoniously, put on my hand wraps, my private lesson officially began. Apart from stretching, Khun Toon asked me to do a jump-rope workout to warm up, which seemed fairly easy. My impression was subsequently proven wrong. Instead of the rapid, precise exercise that he demonstrated, what I could muster was something typically seen in a children’s playground. How glad was I that no one else was in the gym until later on, when I was throwing uppercuts and left jabs inside the ring. Although my brief, haphazard foray into Muay Thai barely scratched the surface of the sport, the experience was enough to make me appreciate it, highlighting the value of discipline and focus. Also, it’s a killer workout I would definitely try again. Over an hour and a few small blisters
TRAVELPHUKET PHUKET TRAVEL
later, my companion and I found relief at Baba Soul Food. The place is a cosy, dimly lit affair with indoor and outdoor dining areas as well as an interesting show kitchen. It’s excellent that the menu comes in an iPad so ordering was less precarious. Just about every dish, from the shrimp curry with rice crackers to the mango sticky rice, was a knockout. Baba Nest is another of Sri Panwa’s spectacular dining venues – a must-try not only for guests, but also for anyone who happens to be in Phuket. No walls, nor roofs, the stylish dining area is a
wooden deck surrounded by infinity pools and unbelievable, panoramic views. I don’t know about you, but indulging in a tipple or two amidst views of the Andaman, the surrounding islands and Phuket’s south-eastern peninsula during sunset is enough as a perfect ending to a day of touring. However, if you require a more relaxing way of kicking back, a session in the spa a few floors below should suffice. The award-winning Cool Spa has an extensive menu of treatments for everyone looking to get pampered. As much
as I wanted to try the Traditional Thai massage, it does not incorporate oils so I opted for the Sri Panwa Sport. Using long, hard strokes complemented by a blend of essential oils, I quickly drifted into a precious state of calm while gazing at a pair of frangipani flowers placed under the face-hole. After an interlude in this amazing resort, there’s no wondering why it has garnered multiple awards. Just about every part of Sri Panwa, from the villas to the spa, and everything in between, is built for sensory stimulation and pure debauchery. Sweet Seclusion at Layan Beach Heading to Phuket’s west coast, I realised we’ve reached an isolated area when the usually ubiquitous Thai spirit houses outside homes have become few and far apart. The destination was Layan Beach, a secluded stretch of coastal haven where shores of palm trees and fine white sand make up the captivating scenery. Just a few steps from the shoreline, Anantara Phuket Layan Resort & Spa occupies a marvellous spot,
TRAVEL PHUKET TRAVEL PHUKET
THIS PAGE, TOP TO BOTTOM Anantara Layan Dining by Design; Lobby exterior of Anantara Layan
OPPOSITE PAGE Pool Area, Point Yamu
extending up to the hillside. There’s a wide selection of living arrangements available, but I find the Beachfront Layan Pool Villa, especially covetable for its close proximity to the beach and other features including a private pool, a sundeck with loungers and the ever-helpful villa host service. For special occasions, however, the one-of-a-kind Anantara Pool Villa, offering 485 sqm of precious living space and a com-
plimentary in-villa massage for two, among other features, is the grandest of accommodations to mark any event. Having such a privileged location, leaving the resort premises proves to be a questionable idea, especially with the host of world-class facilities onsite. Just the meals here are quite the spectacle, serving up mouth-watering international and local fare along with tantalising views of the beach. Sala, dee plee, Breeze and Infinity Bar are certainly not to be missed but it’s Anantara Phuket Layan’s Dining by Design, a bespoke dining concept, that offers the ultimate gastronomic experience. Book this special offering and savour a personalised menu of delectable wonders either by the pool, at Anantara’s own chapel perched on a cliff or in other stunning locations. This piece of Layan Beach, after all, has more than enough picturesque nooks and corners to host such intimate moments. Between fine dining, signature spa treatments, Thai cooking classes and thrilling watersports, it can be daunting to arrange such activities. For this very reason, I prefer to settle down
beachfront--cocktail in hand--and just let the powers that be (also known as the villa host) to do the trick. East Coast Allure Rising on top of a hill and far removed from crowds, Point Yamu is one of the newest and most anticipated luxury developments in Phuket. The way to the property is a scenic ride amidst perfectly lined tree plantations and quaint coastal neighbourhoods, a great prelude to a majestic welcome. The moment I caught a glimpse of the steps leading to the vast, open-air lobby, which features a centrepiece inspired by Buddhist temples, I already figured this place is different. Designed by Paola Navone, it may initially take a certain level of appreciation for the edgy and bold to really
grasp the beauty of this haven. Point Yamu, after all, is unapologetically stylish and I am fairly certain the creative crowd will find great solace within its bounds. The place is certainly stimulating what with textured walls and creatively painted ceilings and columns set against sweeping views of the Andaman and limestone cliffs on Phang Nga Bay. The rooms, predominantly white with touches of blue, are ideal for lounging and relaxation as the views are utterly enchanting no matter the time of the day. From outside, these thoughtfully appointed living quarters may not seem much because of the minimalist design, but once the door opens, the visual feast begins. Point Yamu is a destination in itself, not only for the awesome vistas, but also for its notable restaurants,
the COMO Shambala Retreat and its unique event spaces. All things considered, the place will surely be an unforgettable element of any Phuket holiday. It seems like no matter which part of Phuket Iâ€™m in, thereâ€™s something captivating, entertaining or at least intriguing worth noting. Such is the beauty of this tropical hideaway. In its vastness lies a collection of wonders that could easily fill a weekend itinerary. This leaves me with the conclusion that, while Phuket is definitely an ideal setting for one epic weekend, it also happens to be a destination worth revisiting for more weekends, holidays, and just about every chance, to come. Sitting in the departure area, I find myself eager to once again arrive on the island and begin yet another memorable Phuket getaway.
Taking on Tibet
1 Kaila Krayewski journeys to the roof of the world with an honest-to-goodness exploration of Tibet
TRAVEL TIBET TRAVEL TIBET
No, it’s not heaven,
but for the adventurous traveller keen to seek out deep, authentic experiences amidst a stunning backdrop of pristine nature, majestic mountains and ancient culture, Tibet just might be the next best thing. At an elevation exceeding 14,800ft, Tibet is the highest region on Earth, surrounded by the world’s tallest mountains – the Himalayas. Up here, altitude is a way of life. Perhaps it is the region’s proximity to the gods that has endowed it with such thick cultural roots – this heavily Buddhist country has been guided by a 500-year lineage of Dalai Lamas, who lead the people both spiritually and politically. The country’s history, however, can be traced back long before the Dalai Lamas. Indeed, some archaeologists have found evidence of modern human life from over 20 million years ago in Tibet. Dynasties, empires, wars and invasions have seen Tibet fall into and out of the hands of a slew of ancient leaders, and its rich history is as fascinating as it is protracted. A country shrouded in mystery, Tibet has come a long way from its humble tourism beginnings when its doors opened to curious travellers in the 1980s.
PREVIOUS SPREAD Yamdrok Lake ABOVE Yumbulakhang
Nowadays, a sparkling new Shangri-La sits alongside a St. Regis in the heart of Lhasa, Tibet’s capital and second-most populous city. And though it is possible to get around on the back of a yak – Tibet’s native livestock – comfortable, chauffeured, heated vehicles make for a far more convenient way to travel between the many monasteries and palaces strewn across Tibet’s rugged, primal landscape. Five-star travel here may be nascent, but it’s blooming, and oftentimes, it’s in these early stages that luxury travel retains its authentic charm. My experiences in Tibet have provided me with memories to last a lifetime. From meeting a woman with four teeth and a wide grin in a small village near Tsetang, to watching monk debates at a monastery in Lhasa, and taking in the jaw-dropping view outside my window on the road to Gyantse, this is a country that is bound to impress. Allow me to recount my days in this astounding destination. Tsetang The first day of my luxury Tibet adventure began in Tsetang – not only one of the largest cities in the country, but also the oldest. This is considered to be the cradle of Tibetan civilisation, and was home to Tibet’s ancient emperors. This large city boasts a handful of impressive sites, and I set out to take
TOP TO BOTTOM Samye; A Tibetan elder in a small village near Tsetang
them in, starting with the 2nd-century Yungbulakang Palace, thought to be Tibet’s very first building. As I made my way to my next destination, I spent some time taking in the stunning surroundings – from the archetypal colourful Tibetan prayer flags, to the overpowering Mt. Gongbori and the Yarlung valley, this place truly had me enraptured. Next, I paid a visit to the ancient Tadruk Monastery, where I marvelled at its ornate architecture and intricate artwork. That evening, I bedded down at the four-star Tsetang Hotel, the best accommodation the city has to offer. It was a first day well spent. Lhasa The next morning, I awoke to the fresh mountain air of Tsetang and enjoyed a hearty breakfast at my hotel before heading out to check out one last of the city’s can’t-miss sites ahead of our departure. Samye Monastery is a short drive out of the city. Holding the impressive title as the country’s first monastery, the structure is fronted by a long set of stairs that afford incredible views of the surrounding area. Though difficult at this altitude, it was worth the effort. The elaborate monastery’s walls had intricate paintings of the sutras, describing the universe, I was told. We climbed back into the car and started out on the road – it would be three hours to Lhasa. Along the way, we stopped at a tiny village to check out the Tibetan Village Project, which promotes education and entrepreneurship while working to preserve Tibet’s ancient culture. It was here that I met a Tibetan elder with a fantastic smile that showed off her four teeth – one of the most memorable smiles I would have the pleasure of seeing on my trip. Once arrived in Lhasa, I checked in to my luxury hotel, The St. Regis Lhasa Resort – though the Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa, whose doors swung open just a few months ago, is another great option. Now it was time to explore the city. I noticed plenty of traffic on the roads, and was not nearly as charmed by the place as I was by other cities in Tibet. However, there are plenty of ancient sites in Lhasa that are must-sees, combined with the luxury of a five-star hotel to return home to at the end of the day, making it worth spending a few days in. Potala Palace was my first stop. Former home of the Dalai Lama, this structure dominates the city’s skyline (and is visible from both aforementioned luxury hotels). I found this spot to be most impressive from the outside, possessing a powerful presence that is rare and almost indescribable. Most interesting for me though were the hundreds of Tibetans that walked in a line, spinning prayer wheels. I could’ve spent hours there watching, photographing, and interacting with the friendly locals. I was next transported to Sera Monastery, where I had the unique opportunity to observe Buddhist monks debating in a lively fashion over Buddhist doctrines. I must say, it is a
truly bizarre experience to see a monk clapping in the face of another monk to drive through his point, but one that is pretty unforgettable! My final stop of the day was Jokhang Temple – for Tibetans, the important temple. I quickly found myself amidst a steady stream of locals strolling and praying throughout the area. Be warned; this spot is very touristy, certainly far too much so for me. Having spent a heavenly night’s sleep on my cloud-like mattress at the St. Regis, I stepped back out onto the streets of Lhasa once more to check out a few more sites. It was nice to start out the day in a spot free from tourists after the craziness of Jokhang Temple the day before. Having been the summer palace of the Dalai Lama since the 1780s, the well-manicured grounds of Norbulingka Palace are ideal for a morning stroll and, since it’s popular with locals, people watching. We made our way next to Drepung, the largest of all Tibetan monasteries. Though only a short walk, the hill to its entrance put me out of breath quickly, due to Tibet’s high altitude. I was surprised to see that the Chinese authorities had installed CCTV cameras to keep an eye on the monks. The inside of the monastery was beautifully decorated – more authentic, I thought, than Jokhang.
LEFT TO RIGHT Buddhists of Sera Monastery; A yak at Karola Glacier
As the day came to a close, it was time to head out and get a taste of Tibet’s nightlife. Alongside my guide, we entered a smoky, semi-crowded Tibetan nightclub. There was a stage, and we grabbed a seat front row center and ordered a few big bottles of Lhasa beer. Tibetans, I must say, can drink, and I was expected to keep up. We drank in unison from shot glasses every few minutes...for several hours. This is the Tibetan way. The show, performed to a crowd of Tibetans, Han Chinese, and me, began with some traditional Tibetan dancing, soon joined by a person in a yak costume and woman churning milk. Next up, of course, was Tibetan Michael Jackson. The entire experience was, how shall I put it? Weird, yet wonderful. Gyantse I started the morning with some delicious (but salty), warming Po Cha, or authentic Tibetan butter tea. The creamy drink, consumed several times a day in Tibet, is made from yak butter, and helps everything
from digestion to chapped lips. Today we are heading to Gyantse, a car journey that my guide told me would take about five hours. The scenery that was to come took on a crescendo effect, getting increasingly spectacular as we pressed on. Two hours in, my face was practically glued to the window, so mesmerised was I by the colossal mountains that towered over the sinewy road as it weaved its way in between them. We crossed three passes, each at an elevation of over 16,000ft. The air thinned. I was thankful to have mostly acclimatised during the previous days. Yaks plodded along the countryside, grazing and occasionally glancing up as I snapped their photo amidst the epic backdrop of majestic mountains. We came upon Yamdrok Lake, stopping to take in its beauty and stretch our legs. Local legends abound here – one being that the lake was once a goddess who transformed into a sapphire sea. And oh, how sapphire it was. Surrounded by snowcapped peaks, the gem-hued, glasslike lake took on a mystical appearance.
I was bewitched. We were surrounded by Chinese tourists and local Tibetans, but certainly no other westerners. This is the kind of experience that I go out of my way to find. It was here that I finally had the chance to ride the iconic Tibetan yak – an experience that was, I have to say, completely unimpressive, and I regretted having fallen into the tourist trap as I sat on the back of this smelly, hairy beast. But at least I have the photo. Once back in the car, we drove for a while and rounded a corner and – BAM – I was floored by one of the most awe-inspiring views I’ve ever had the opportunity to take in. Before me stood the mighty Mt. Nojin Kangsang Glacier, the pinnacle of the Lhagoi Kangri mountain range. At 16,500ft, this was the highest point I’d ever reached in all my travels. A few hours further along the road, we arrived in Gyantse – a traditional, charming town of 8,000 people, absent of tourists save for myself. Gyantse Dzong, a traditional Tibetan fortress, is a must-see, though unfortunately neither tourists nor (surprisingly) locals may enter its coffers. The thousand-yearold fortress is perched atop a hill and overshadows the entire town. Viewing it from below was enough for me. This evening, I checked in to the humble-but-comfortable Gyantse Hotel. This three-star hotel may not
Photos courtesy of Jay Tindall – Remote Lands
be the Shangri-La, but it’s the best Gyantse has to offer, with spacious rooms but somewhat dated furnishings. I enjoyed a peaceful night’s sleep amidst the clean and crisp Tibetan air. Shigatse The final day of my trip started with a two-hour drive from Gyantse to Shigatse, Tibet’s second-largest city. While the city – which appears more Chinese than Tibetan – wasn’t a particular highlight of my Tibet experience, there were definitely some interesting spots worth
checking out. The expansive Tashilhunpo Monastery, for one, is a fascinating religious site with a long history, having been founded in 1447. Another mustsee – perhaps the main highlight of any visit to Shigatse – is Samdruptse Dzong, or Shigatse fortress. This is yet another fortress where entrance is forbidden, but taking in its imposing figure from the outside is a wonderful experience. Our final stop ahead of departure was the Shigatse Market to pick up some souvenirs. Just outside Tashilhunpo Monastery, this small-but-active market
provides some fantastic insight into daily Tibetan life. Here we found many traditional Tibetan products for sale including – no surprise here – yak cheese. Our trip having come to an end, we drove to Shigatse’s international airport and hopped on a flight to Chengdu, from where we continued our journey home. This short, jam-packed trip left me feeling like I’d spent more like a month discovering the unique intricacies, beauty and storied history and culture of this incredible, mysterious country. It was a place to which I felt sure I would return.
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
Kate Sheffield www.behance.net/KD-Creative 102
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
Autumn in New York
Afternoons in autumn. In Kate Sheffield’s photographs, Central Park becomes an impressionist’s delight, while monolithic buildings, including the Brooklyn Bridge, tower like sentinels over the city.
ew York City in the fall means Bryant Park in full swing for fashion week, the New York Giants in the field with fans cheering from the bleachers, the Met ushering a slew of new art darlings and New Yorkers filling the streets, first for the NYC Marathon, and later, for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade. But despite the plethora of activities, it is the city itself that dazzles. In this season, New York City becomes its quintessential beautiful self with silhouettes of skyscrapers becoming more prominent against the grey skies, while the leaves below turn from summer green to a deeper shade of tangerine. It is, indeed, a vision that many have experienced and seen in stories and movies and is now captured by six photographers who roamed the city’s busy streets. Breathtakingly beautiful, these photographs show New York not so much as a city bursting with energy, but a city in its contemplative moments as it awaits the first cool kiss of winter. WORDS BY MARIO BANZON
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
Magic hour. Ross Reyes, an LA-based photographer, captures the Empire State Building, the JW Marriot Essex House, and a few sweet moments before night finally falls on New York City. Magical, indeed.
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AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
Hoop dreams. Franck Bohbot trains his lens on Manhattan’s West Side with a side trip to the Gothic bridge at Central Park. However, it’s the basketball courts that fascinate him the most. For him, it is “a stage where the people who live in New York come together, dream, play and keep score.”
Frank Bohbot www.franckbohbot.com
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
Dazzling as it is dizzying. Brooklyn-based photographer Navid Baraty takes you to the top of NYC skyscrapers and gives a unique and dizzying peek at the city’s ever-busy intersections.
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AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
In transition. Alex Ivic prowls New York City in the last days of the season with the fall leaves in full, crisp colours while in the air, there is already a hint of the chilling winter ahead.
Aleks Ivic www.aleksivicvisuals.com TRAVELITE
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
Rebeca Saborio www.rebecasaborio.com 108
AUTUMN HIGHLIGHTS NEW YORK
City of silhouettes. The New York that Rebeca Saborio presents is a city of silhouettes, of shadows lurking even in daytime. It is a city in a contemplative state, a quintessential New York fall moment.
BESPOKE JOURNEYS CYCLING HOLIDAYS
Wanderlust on (Two) Wheels The Best Cycling Holidays for Autumn 2014 110
Many may think the peak season for bike touring would be the summer when the lavender and sunflower fields are in full bloom, the Tour de France has the world consumed with the sport, and the long, sunny days are perfect for endless riding. However, the truth is, fall reigns supreme. Cooler temperatures are perfect for cycling, lighter crowds free up roads and restaurants for a more laid back atmosphere, and the harvests offer plenty of fascinating, local activities. Isobel Tsin maps out the seasonâ€™s most idyllic bike trails.
BESPOKE JOURNEYS CYCLING HOLIDAYS
he tempting idea to experience a different journey this fall led to find the world’s finest bike tour operator that can offer top cycling holidays. The search ended upon the discovery of DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co., a boutique travel operator out of Boston that proudly leads the industry in small group, luxury cycling tours. What sets DuVine apart is the level of service, access to local experiences and fabulous style incorporated in its carefully curated travel experiences. Ready for a ride? Make your way to these destinations and pedal away!
Vineyards at Bordeaux
For the Wine Lover
Home to some of the finest vintages in the world, Bordeaux is the perfect destination for wine enthusiasts. Cycle through endless vineyards on your way to an exclusive wine tasting at a regal chateau, and converse with the local wine makers while they pick the year’s harvest. Explore the world famous terroir around St. Emilion and the Médoc before a Michelin-starred meal and spend a restful night at a luxurious five-star address. Day One: Welcome to Bordeaux! Meet your guides and journey through Libourne market. Antiquated buildings are backdrops to vendors selling fresh produce, while the air is perfumed with flowers and herbs. Celebrate arriving to your hotel, Château de Sanse, with a toast of the region’s finest sparkling wine. Its effervescence pairs well with the luxury accommodations. Ride along the Dordogne River through Pessac-sur-Dordogne, a small town by the water with vineyards in the distance. Rest and meet your new friend Robert who owns a traditional watermill that captures the pastoral beauty of the French countryside. Later, relax at the château’s refreshing pool or enjoy the beautiful grounds before feasting upon a homemade bordelaise dish and local wines for dinner at Château Carbonneau.
BESPOKE JOURNEYS CYCLING HOLIDAYS
Chateau Figeac, Bordeaux
Day Two: Crossing the Dordogne to St. Emilion Passing kiwi trees and fishermen, ride along the Dordogne River, a designated biosphere reserve by UNESCO. Cross the river through historic Castillon-la-Bataille and pedal onward to the medieval city of St. Emilion. Roman style churches and ruins fill the steep and narrow stone streets, creating an enchanting atmosphere. Savour a lunch of delicacies at a favourite local restaurant before continuing past elegant Grand Cru Classé Châteaux. At the Château Grand Barrail, your home for the next two nights, dine on gastronomic delights from the hotel’s culinary offerings. Day Three: Exploring Pomerol and St. Emilion Cycle past estates in Pomerol and St. Emilion. The grandeur of these properties is simply astounding. Make sure to stop at Château Figeac to taste wine of the highest pedigree. Take time off from cycling to enjoy an afternoon of shopping, exploring St. Emilion, or indulging in a refreshing spa treatment, and spend the night sampling the town’s flavours.
Day Four: The Grand Cru Vineyards of the Médoc Wind through picturesque villages and vineyards of Paysage Bordelais and head to the shimmering waters of the Gironde estuary. If that’s not enough of a feast for the senses, lunch surely is as the ramparts of a UNESCO citadel serves as the setting. After ferrying across the Gironde, your arrival in the Médoc will bring you to the Lynch Bages winery where you’ll visit their historic, earthen cellars followed by a tasting of revered Pauillac wines. Day Five: Margaux Loop Ride Pedal along estates of Bordeaux and see lavish buildings and spacious grounds. You’ll enjoy a gourmet lunch and taste delicate wine at Château Pichon Longueville. Afterwards, relax at Château Cordeillan Bages, or take one last ride into Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe. On your final evening, a Michelin-starred dinner from acclaimed Chef Jean-Luc Rocha is a most fitting celebration! Day Six: Au Revoir Reminisce over breakfast before departing to Bordeaux’s train station. Guides will assist your departure making your farewell as smooth as possible.
BESPOKE JOURNEYS CYCLING HOLIDAYS
TOP TO BOTTOM Panorama of Hotel Barceló La Bobadilla; Lunch at Andalucia
For the Foodie Enjoy outstanding tapas in the village of Archidona. Make traditional Andalusian paella. Taste Europe’s freshwater caviar. Andalucía is an off-the-beaten path foodie’s paradise. Incredible scenery, fascinating history and world-class accommodations top off this gem of a Spanish cycling destination. . Day One: Welcome to Andalucia! Guides will greet you in Granada at the Palacio de los Patos. Start your journey with some crisp cava at Hotel Barceló La Bobadilla. The gastronomic adventure continues at Archidona through delicious tapas. Make your way to the village by cycling through olive groves and fill up on traditional small plates and refreshments. Afterwards, bike to the hotel where you can either ride some more--horseback, this time--or relax at the spa. Dinner is at the renowned restaurant La Finca. Its creative approach to Spanish cuisine is spectacular. Your home for the evening is reminiscent of an ancient Andalusian palace. Day Two: Ventorros Loop Ride Pedal amid more olive groves until you reach scenic bliss upon catching the views of the pueblos blancos, villages of white stucco and clay roofs built into the hillside. Coast downhill through the hamlet of Fuente del Conde. Stop for an Andalusian picnic hosted by a local named Elena in her garden. Tasting caviar at Europe’s only organic freshwater sturgeon farm is sure to be a highlight.
Don aprons and join Maria who is more than happy to share her grandmother’s Andalusian paella recipe. Sipping on freshly poured wines while tapping into Spanish culinary traditions makes the experience even more enjoyable.
Day Three: On the Road to Cabra Ride across the Iznajar Dam and into the town of Rute, famous for anise-flavoured liqueurs and Christmas cookies. Pedal hard for a short climb to the old town square. Juan is waiting with tapas for lunch. Take time to enjoy the glorious views of the valley below before descending into the olive oil town of Cabra. Tonight starts with a glass of coveted Montilla-Moriles wine, while a sumptuous meal waits at the hotel’s rustic restaurant.
Day Five: The Moorish Empire of Al Andaluz The captivating sights of Moorish ruins in quiet villages serve as the backdrop for today’s ride. Rolling hills of wheat accompanied by the Andalusian breeze add more delight when biking across the landscape. Ride into Guadalquivir River valley and climb a hill to catch views of Cordoba along the riverbanks. In the afternoon, relax at the spa or, discover the city’s many offerings. Tonight’s meal offers the best of the region, showcasing both old and new gastronomy.
Day Four: Loop Ride through the Montilla Vineyards Start the day by cycling along vineyards of the MontillaMoriles wine district only to find yourself later in a taberna for an indulgent Spanish lunch. A visit to a small bodega follows to see the art of traditional wine making.
Day Six: Adios Andalucia! Wake up to a bountiful breakfast. A private tour of the ancient capital of the Moorish empire of Al Andaluz serves as the best conclusion to your Andalacian journey. Bid farewell to your guides as they ensure a carefree departure.
BESPOKE JOURNEYS CYCLING HOLIDAYS
TOP TO BOTTOM Imbabura; Kayaking at Galápagos Islands
For the Adventurer For the ultimate multisport adventure, enjoy a tour combining the best of the Andes Mountains and the Galápagos Islands. More than biking, this trip includes hiking, kayaking, snorkelling and more as you explore beautiful vistas and fascinating wildlife. With exclusive access to accommodations on the Galápagos Islands, this is the only tour where you can fully immerse yourself in this famous ecological wonder. Day One + Two: Welcome to Ecuador! Start relaxing at Hotel Pinsaquí. At 10,000 ft, your first day is spent getting acclimated. Adventure starts the following day through a hike around the pristine waters of the Cuicocha Crater Lake, located at the foot of the Cotacachi Volcano where there is an array of unique plant life. Discover the area’s local artisans, leather shops, and handmade goods and further absorb the culture in the mountain villages by meeting indigenous residents. Day Three: Zuleta Valley Enjoy breakfast and get cycling to the Ugsha on the Camueando Peguche road. Awe-inspiring views of the Lake San Pablo, Imbabura and the cascading waterfalls of Peguche make every pedal worth it. This trip will also have you marvelling at handmade masterpieces of local weavers. Day Four + Five: Hike, Kayak and Snorkel on San Cristobal Off to the Galápagos! First, enjoy lunch, then, hike up the dry forest leading to Frigate Hill. Frigate birds and blue-footed boobies accompany your trek. The day ends with waterfront dining,
marvellous views included. The next day, have a dip in the blue waters and paddle along coastal coves like Darwin Bay. Exotic marine iguanas and sea lions are some of the local inhabitants to meet. Reach Leon Dormido to explore depths below. Snorkelling or diving in this area promises to be one for the books. Day Six + Seven: Coast and Volcano Exploration of Tintoreras and Isabela Islands Time to go island hopping! Take a flight from San Cristobal to Isabela Island. Visit El Muro de las Lágrimas (Wall of Tears), a historic site from when the island was a penal colony. Unwind on sandy white beaches, mangroves and lagoons before embarking on a boat ride to the Tintoreras, a set of small islets, to see the adorable Galápagos penguins. For more excitement, hike up to Volcano Chico—the puffing fumaroles and extraordinary lava formations are amazing. Finally, return to Puerto Villamil and kick back in your beachfront hotel.
BESPOKE JOURNEYS CYCLING HOLIDAYS
Sea lions on the beach of Galápagos
Day Eight: Tortuga Island Boat Trip Visit the small horseshoe-shaped Tortuga Island, known for its brackish lagoons and snorkelling spots. Go to an incredible seabird sanctuary just before guides take you hiking. Otherwise, simply recline on the heavenly white beaches and let the tropical haven lull you to a blissful state.
Day Nine + Ten: Giant Tortoise at El Chato and the Charles Darwin Research Station For this day’s adventure, make your way to Santa Cruz Islands where kayaking on the turquoise waters of Divine Bay can lead to sightings of white-tipped sharks and rays beneath the surface. After a fine lunch, head to the El Chato reserve. See the huge Galápagos tortoise and visit the Charles Darwin Research Center to learn about conservation and local efforts. Finally, bid farewell to the Galápagos and fly back to Quito with the best of holiday memories.
Winter may bring bitter winds and landscapes smothered in white, but the coldest season might just also be the most cheerful one. Cities, in particular, simply sparkle in this time of the year with lanterns festooned all over the streets and gigantic Christmas trees sprouting in every corner. Indeed, come wintertime, cities take on a new personality, one that is filled with levity and joy, despite the mad rush of the holidays. And with all the lights shining brighter and the peopleâ€™s smiles getting bigger, even well-trodden cities are ripe for rediscovering.