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EQ U E S TR I A N LIVING EQLiving.com
A PORTFOLIO: TRAVEL AND ENTERTAINMENT FEATURES FROM EQUESTRIAN LIVING
EQLIVING: THE LUXURY TRAVEL RESOURCE FOR EQUESTRIANS
THE GRAND ANNUAL TRAVEL ISSUE
FRANCE PAGE 61
AMAZING ESC APES
GLENEAGLES PAGE 64
F O R H O R S E L OV E R S EQ ’ S S ECO ND A NNUA L T RAV EL F EAT URE: F ROM M ARAKEC H TO M ON TAN A F ROM DEC ADEN T TO ROU GHIN G IT
IRELAND PAGE 60
IRELAND PAGE 60
EQ T R A V E L
Ireland’s K Club A DOMINCAN REPUBLIC TRAVEL DIARY BY JILL NOVOTNY
samples the endless amenities of this Georgian estate near Dublin.
LUXE LIFE IN PARADISE Punta Cana’s EDEN ROC RESORT offers European luxury in a tropical paradise.
here’s a Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs old-world charm to the K Club. You feel it as soon as you enter the long driveway, flanked by oak and birch trees, and reach the 19th-century, 137-bedroom Georgian estate. Set on 550-acres of verdant parkland hugged by a mile-long stretch of the River Liffey (ideal for fishing), the hotel is an Irish paradise. Only about 30 minutes from Dublin airport, the K Club solidified its five-star reputation when it
W A highlight for any horse lover staying at the K Club (above) is a guided tour of the Irish National Stud to see some of the world’s priciest studs, as well as the country’s most promising foals. Or you can ride at nearby Abbeyfield Farm, the 2015 winner of the Irish Independent’s Equestrian Center of the year, where guests can enjoy quiet cobbled lanes or towering crosscountry courses.
hen I first stepped outside the baggage claim with my luggage in tow, the warm, thick air of the Caribbean surprised me. The palm-leaf roof of the open building rustled in the tropical breeze, and I met a man holding a sign with my name. In the car, I fanned myself with my notebook as we sped through the lush, green landscape, passing riders on bicycles holding baskets of fruit. The thick
won the bid to hold the 2006 Ryder Cup, the first Irish hotel to ever do so. Michael Davern, the hotel’s affable general manager, told me stories of complete strangers bowing to him in the street when they realized he ran the K Club. With endless amenities, the club warrants the bow. There are three onsite restaurants— the River Room, Legends, and K Thai, as well as an indulgent spa. Fitted with all the latest offerings, from an outdoor hot tub to a luxurious indoor hamam and a hydrobath, there
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PERSONAL TRAVEL DIARY FEATURES
Affluent horse lovers look to Equestrian Living when they’re planning their next get-away. In fact, in a subscriber survey readers told us that more than a third travel at least 30 days a year. And even more important to travel advertisers, 34% purchased something they saw in the pages of EQ Living. We invite you to peruse this portfolio of a sampling of the exciting features (in no particular order) within our pages. Please contact email@example.com for more information.
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AN IRISH TRAVEL DIARY BY REBECCA BALDRIDGE
THE QUIET GRANDEUR OF
MOUNT JULIET ESTATE This 18th-century estate in KILKENNY, IRELAND, strikes a balance between an ultimate escape and a sports-loverâ€™s paradise.
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The estate offers the charms of a bygone era, and that includes all the exhilarating country pursuits you can shake a silver-headed walking stick at.
DON’T WANT TO RIDE. My friend gapes at me in disbelief. Never in the 10 years of our association has he heard me utter such blasphemy. He asks if I am unwell. I am not unwell. Quite the contrary. I’m seated in the Michelin-starred Lady Helen restaurant at Mount Juliet, a stunning country estate in County Kilkenny, Ireland. I’m meant to ride around the estate at 10 a.m., but I’m loath to leave the restful elegance of the dining room. The walls are painted a gentle peach, accented with white bas-relief medallions and decorative molding, while the white linen tablecloths are impeccably starched, and the chairs are upholstered in understated taupe velvet. It’s a room designed to soothe the senses. Almenara Hotel Sotogrande.
The Michelin-starred Lady Helen restaurant at the estate is a room designed to soothe the senses.
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Our table offers an incomparable view; the River Nore ambles along between gentle green banks as the morning mist rises from the meadows beyond. In the distance, a forest blazes with autumn color. The landscape begs for an unhurried hour passed in quiet contemplation. If only this were my estate, I could linger to give this view the full measure of respect it deserves. Lamentably, the schedule does not permit gentle reflection, and the 1,500acre Mount Juliet estate is not mine. Rather, it is one of the great historic estates of Europe and perhaps the most stunning country-house hotel in Ireland. The estate offers the charms of a bygone era, and that includes all the exhilarating country pursuits you can shake a silverheaded walking stick at. Mount Juliet combines two historic properties, Walton’s Grove and Ballylinch. Old Norman families originally occupied both, until Oliver Cromwell seized the land in 1653, following the English Civil War. Walton’s
The estateâ€™s Jack Nicklaus signature 18-hole golf course is host to a number of prestigious tournaments. Casual hacks through the property feature scenic views of the River Nore and rides by the ivy-covered Georgian mansion.
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his history had been on my mind since I arrived the previous night, after a harrowing moonlit journey through narrow country lanes and looming hedgerows in a manual transmission car with a right-hand drive. Idyllic pastoral beauty has its price. My long-suffering friend, his stiff upper
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Grove was briefly owned by the Duke of York and subsequently passed through several hands until its sale to the Earl of Carrick in 1757. Cromwell granted Ballylinch to a supporter in 1654, and it was his daughter’s marriage that brought the estate into the Butler family. Somerset Hamilton Butler, the First Earl of Carrick, purchased Walton’s Grove and in the mid-18th century built the Georgian mansion that graces the estate today. He named it Mount Juliet as a compliment to his wife, the Lady Juliana.
Top left: The lush yearling paddocks of Ballylinch Stud Farm. Guests are welcome to stroll across the footbridge and befriend the yearlings grazing near the river. Top right: A breathtaking view of Mount Juliet from Ballylinch Stud Farm. Bottom: A relaxing day’s hack along the River Nore.
lip slightly less so after several near misses, made for the Major’s Bar while I handled the formalities. Then, I found him relaxed, seated in a deep armchair before a cozy fire, crystal glass of Irish whiskey clutched firmly in hand. The bar boasted an impressive cocktail menu, clutches of overstuffed armchairs and sofas arranged around gleaming antique tables, walls hung with hunting pictures and equestrian memorabilia, and portraits of several militarily attired gentlemen I could only presume to be the majors themselves. I later discovered that the portraits were indeed the venerable officers for whom the bar was named: Major-General Sir Hugh McCalmont and Major Dermot McCalmont, both representatives of the family that owned Mount Juliet from 1914 until it was sold to the current owners. I was wildly overstimulated by Mount Juliet’s sheer country-house
perfection. It played into every fantasy to which a certain type of Jane Austen-, Downton Abbey-loving American woman is vulnerable. Nonetheless, the cocktails, the comfort of the canopied bed, and the room’s restful gold and beige décor assured a sound and dreamless sleep. Despite my desire to spend the rest of my life in the Lady Helen dining room, I was raring to go when I arrived at the Mount Juliet equestrian center. The director, Jacqueline Malone, was already astride a splendid chestnut gelding. He was a prancing, spinning handful, but Malone was nonplussed as he danced across the stableyard. She demanded to know why my friend was not along. “He doesn’t ride,” I admitted apologetically. “Oh dear,” she grimaced. “Well, we’ll call him when we’re close to the house. He’s not missing this!” Sinead, one of the center’s instructors, led my mount, a white behemoth named Junior, forward. The equestrian center
A ride around the estate can take a full two hours. Trotting down forested trails, watching salmon splash in the River Nore, and gazing across the banks of Ballylinch Stud Farm’s verdant pastures are just part of Mount Juliet’s equestrian experience.
offers not only hacking across the estate, but basic tuition, cross-country jumping, and show jumping. Since it was half-term in Ireland, Mount Juliet was conducting a children’s equestrian camp; children ride throughout the day while parents enjoy the vast amenities the estate has to offer. We set off, and Jacqueline pointed out Mount Juliet’s Jack Nicklaus signature 18-hole golf course, which has hosted a number of prestigious tournaments, including the Murphy’s Irish Open. “Hmph, if you like that sort thing,” I huffed. Of course, a great many do, and the presence of such a magnificent golf course, as well as an 18-hole, par-53 putting course and extensive practice facilities, is one way to keep those nonriding companions entertained. Along with myriad golfing opportunities (there are also 8 other golf courses in a 50-mile radius), the estate offers salmon and trout Continued on page 76
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The Majorâ€™s Bar offers roaring fires, overstuffed chairs, and an impressive cocktail menu. One of the estateâ€™s guest rooms with a canopy bed, a fireplace, and a soothing palette of beige and gold.
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The Jinks Bar is the favored spot to relax after a day of fishing on the estate.
The elegant main entrance of Mount Juliet showcases displays of ornate bas relief.
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fishing, sporting-clay shooting, archery, and falconry. Tuition and equipment are provided for all sports, so pack those Barbours and wellies and tweeds. But if tweed is too scratchy and shotguns too thundering, fear not. Mount Juliet offers a host of activities for the more delicately inclined as well. The estate’s leisure center and spa boasts a 15-meter heated swimming pool, a sauna, steam room, full gym, and a beauty salon where you can get buffed, puffed, polished, and massaged. One should be at one’s resplendent best for dinner with Lady Helen. The ride around the estate took a full two hours; we trotted down forested trails, saw salmon splash as we strolled aside the River Nore, and looked longingly across the banks to the verdant pastures of the Ballylinch Stud Farm. Although riding on the stud is prohibited, guests are welcome to stroll across the footbridge and befriend the yearlings grazing near the river. Circumstances permitting, a tour of the stud farm can be arranged.
nce we neared the manor house, Jacqueline commandeered my phone and ordered my friend downstairs at once. There’s nothing like riding up to an ivy-covered Georgian mansion on horseback to make you feel like a member of the landed gentry. I heartily recommend it. My friend was cajoled into a cautious meeting with Junior, who nuzzled his pocket for treats. Once we made our way back to the stable, we leapt into Jacqueline’s Range Rover for the next adventure. It was time for us to meet John Duggan, from Hawkeye Falconry. The hands-on falconry demonstration was the hands-down highlight of an incredible stay. Duggan delivered an informative lecture on training birds of prey before he pulled on a sturdy leather
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Stallions at Ballylinch Stud Farm enjoy spacious stalls.
glove and retrieved Stewart from the back of his van. Stewart, a Harris hawk, gave us the gimlet eye and uttered a series of shrill squawks. No cause to be alarmed, John assured us. Jacqueline, my friend, and I gathered around as Duggan explained the hawk’s capabilities. Stewart stood silently, his eyes fixed on John. He knew what was coming. John released the bird and hurled a hunk of raw chicken high into the air. Stewart swooped and swallowed, then assumed a perch high in a tree some 50 yards away. John produced what appeared to be a furry tail and began to run, dragging the tail behind him. Stewart dived on silent wings, delivering death from the sky. Now it was my turn. John released Stewart, who returned to his tree. I pulled on the stiff leather glove and John balanced a piece of raw chicken on my outstretched hand. Stewart headed straight for me at blazing speed. I tensed, waiting for the impact. He was surprisingly light and perched daintily on my hand, the scrap of chicken hanging from his beak. He tossed his head and swallowed in a gulp, then gave another high-pitched scream of pleasure. Once everyone had a go, Stewart was returned to his traveling box. The next avian guest appeared: a small gray owl named
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Margaret with eyes the color of an artificially flavored Halloween candy. She chortled and clucked, perching on our hands as we cooed in delight. The falconry experience can be tailored according to preference—watch the hawks fly, or sign up for a more extensive hunting experience. Whatever the choice, flying a magnificent bird of prey is an experience you’ll never forget. Of course, all of these wholesome country pursuits whet the appetite, and Mount Juliet has dining options for every taste. The Major’s Bar is a great choice for lunch, and the steak sandwich, razored slivers of juicy beef dripping onto crisp white toast, was a filling choice after the rigors of the morning. When it came to dinner, the Lady Helen was sadly closed on Tuesdays, so we dined at The Hound, the estate’s more informal restaurant. Of course, informal is a relative term. Open beams, a hardwood floor, and multitudinous windows combine with floral-upholstered armchairs to create an ambience simultaneously cozy and sophisticated. The cooking is inventive and assured. We shared a salad of roasted figs, arugula, and goat cheese with caramelized walnuts. A main course of risotto with smoky chunks of pancetta was creamy and comforting, while my friend’s crab tart was sweet and clean. The wine list is extensive, with plenty of reasonably priced options; our waiter suggested a chardonnay that paired perfectly with the meal. Mount Juliet offered everything my heart could desire in a dream holiday— plenty of horseback riding, beautiful countryside, an excuse to dress up in tweed costumes like a pretentious git, Michelin-star dining, and a cozy bar for a restorative tipple after a hard day of country revelry. Even my die-hard urbanite friend left ready to buy a pair of Purdey’s and a tweed cap. I’ll be making another reservation this fall—just not PAGE 113 during half-term.
Stewart, a Harris Hawk.
The decor of each guest room on the huge property is hand-selected by owner Nadine Lipson.
John Duggan from the estateâ€™s Hawkeye Falconry.
Fires burn in stone Margaret, a striking, firepits, where guests small can grey owl. warm up or just relax. OC TOB E R/NOVE MB E R | 20 1 7 | EQ L I V I NG .CO M | 7 7
THIRD ANNUAL TRAVEL GUIDE
SERENITY OR ADVENTURE: FIND YOUR ESCAPE
UTAH See Page 44
A M A Z IN G E S C A P E S ARGENTINA See Page 46
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DUBAI See Page 40
F O R H O R S E LOV E R S IRELAND See Page 42
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PER AQUUM DESERT PALM, DUB AI
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our full-size championship polo fields surround this manicured estate, just 15 minutes from downtown Dubai. You can watch the highest levels of the sport of kings being played October through April, directly from your room’s wide windows. Or if you’d prefer, catch a sunset chukker from the rooftop terrace. Here, the mix of European and Arabian influences is a notable break from the conventionally opulent luxury hotels that dot the city. The Per Aquum Desert Palm merges classic forms of local architecture with avant-garde design to create an oasis of lush green fields and shady palms in the ancient sun-soaked desert. Service and dining are of the highest levels, provided by polo-shirt-clad attendants. Venture just outside to search for bargains at the souk or cruise the Dubai Creek aboard a traditional Arabian dhow.
A UNIQUE MIX OF EUROPEAN AND ARABIAN STYLE
Or climb into a vintage Land Rover for a desert safari to a Bedouin camp inside a royal desert retreat and dine under the stars, while lamps flicker over the sand. Equestrian style is on full display at the Per Aquum Desert Palm. “A giant statue of a horse’s head in the outer courtyard sets the tone: this is a hotel obsessed with all things equine,” says The Telegraph in its review of the resort. “There are polo magazines in reception, by the pool, and in the rooms; pony statuettes in the lounge; even the phone pads have pictures of polo players on them.” Not only can you witness world-class horse sports, but as a guest you have access to a huge number of horse-related activities at the breath-taking equestrian facilities. The 300-stall stable offers riding and polo lessons, and three tracks loop the grounds for riding, jogging, and cycling. PAGE 105
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G I R A F F E M A N O R , K E N YA
ooking for a more unusual travel experience to fuel your dinner-party conversations? Giraffe Manor, located in the suburbs of Nairobi, allows visitors an authentic look at the natural surroundings and culture of Kenya. Built in 1932 and modeled on a Scottish hunting lodge, the inn offers a pleasant mixture of traditional and modern elegance. Each of the 10 rooms is different, furnished with a large four-poster bed and modern comforts. But whatâ€™s remarkable is not the antique furnishings, the traditional home-cooked meals from the on-site chef, or the spiral staircase that greets visitors in the main entrance hall. What makes this inn remarkable are the herds of wild giraffes which can be found grazing peacefully on the lawns in front of the resort, or even reaching in through the huge windows to greet guests during breakfast. Special walls have been built to keep the animals safe and separated, though they can walk right up to the terrace and around the house. The resort was not originally built to house giraffes. During the early 1970s, the owners of the manor were assisting in the relocation of some giraffes and agreed to take in an orphaned Rothschild giraffe, whom they named Daisy. Now, 40 years later, Giraffe Manor is home to many giraffes. As wild animals, giraffes are rather shy. Visitors
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THE GIRAFFES VIE FOR YOUR ATTENTION AT THE BREAKFAST TABLE, THE FRONT DOOR, AND EVEN AT YOUR BEDROOM WINDOW.
should not expect to cuddle or kiss them, though their warm faces and horse-like eyes may seem to invite them to try. Still, many of the giraffes will let you pet and feed them, or curiously poke their heads in through open windows to look around. The manor is located within walking distance of the Giraffe Centre, a breeding center and nature preserve, which is included in the rate for guests. Also close by is an elephant orphanage that rescues and rehabilitates orphaned baby elephants and rhinos. Karen Blixen, the Danish author of Out of Africa, is namesake to a nearby museum offering insight into the culture, history, and art of Kenya. Nairobi, the capital city of Kenya, is just 20 kilometers away and is one of the largest and fastest-growing cities in Africa. This cosmopolitan town, fondly nicknamed Green City in the Sun, has various tourist attractions such as the Kenya National Museum, many diverse restaurants, and great shopping. Giraffe Manor is a 40-minute drive from Jomo Kenyatta airport and 20 minutes from Wilson Airport. Rooms are offered from $505 per person, per night, and include meals and access to the nearby Giraffe Centre. The resort is closed PAGE 96 in May, but open for the remainder of the year.
Broadway producer and equestrian AMY NAUIOKAS’ favorite HOTEL: The Covent Garden Hotel in London. “Traditional English with a modern twist. And room 101 has the biggest bed in all of Europe!”
FEI 3* dressage judge and Central American Games Gold Medalist CESAR TORRENTE’S favorite RESTAURANT: Astrid y Gaston, Lima, Peru. GETAWAY: Curaçao.
German show jumper DAVID WILL’S favorite GETAWAY: Croatia. RESTAURANT: Grill Steakhouse in Bremen, Germany.
Ten-time U.S. National FourIn-Hand Driving Champion CHESTER WEBER’S favorite HOTELS: One and Only in the Maldives and 21C in Louisville, Ky. RESTAURANT: Hotel du Cap Eden Roc restaurant in Cap d’Antibes, France.
PHOTOS KODIAK GREENWOOD
Horse whisperer/artist MONTY AND PAT ROBERTS’ favorite HOTEL: Gritti Palace Hotel, Venice, Italy. “The view of the Grand Canal and the ambiance of the hotel was spectacular.” GETAWAY: “Heads and shoulders above all, my trips to Africa, going on the wildlife safaris and watching the abundant game.”
Fashion expert, TV star, and Saddlebred champion CARSON KRESSLEY’S favorite HOTEL: Qualia, on Hamilton Island in Australia. “It’s ridiculously luxurious, but still casual, chic, and relaxing.” RESTAURANT: Earth in Kennebunkport, Maine.
Ashland Farm trainer KEN SMITH’S favorite HOTEL: The Seagate Delray Beach because it is “casual but very nice.”
Movie producer and Arabian-horse breeder MINDY PETERS’ favorite WEEKEND GETAWAY Post Ranch Inn in Big Sur, Calif. “Nestled into the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, the Post Ranch Inn exudes romance and relaxation.”
Grand Prix champion ASHLEE BOND CLARKE’S favorite HOTEL: Santa Catarina on the Amalfi Coast of Italy.
ANN LEARY’S favorite HOTEL: Le Sirenuse in Positano, Italy.
Young hunter/jumper professional SHAWN CASADY’S favorite GETAWAY: Phillips, Wisc. “It’s near in the north woods of Wisconsin and my aunt has a cottage up there. It’s great to relax, fish, eat, and enjoy peace.”
Top Canadian dressage rider DIANE CREECH’S favorite HOTEL: “I was in Las Vegas for the World Cup Final, and the Hotel Bellagio was absolutely incredible. I had never seen anything like it...the stunning indoor botanical garden and the chocolate fountain in the foyer.”
E Q ’ S F R I E N D S S H A R E T H E I R T R AV E L FAVO R I T E S Italian dressage rider SILVIA RIZZO’S favorite HOTEL: The Four Seasons in Sharm El Sheik. GETAWAY: New York City.
Olympian DEBBIE McDONALD’S favorite HOTEL: Casa Del Mar in Cabo. “We did this trip with our kids and their spouses, and it was one of the best times I can remember.” RESTAURANT: Hotel du Cap Eden Roc in Cap d’Antibes, France.
GEORGINA BLOOMBERG’S favorite GETAWAY: Bermuda. “There is nowhere in the world I would rather go than the beach in Bermuda.” HOTEL: The Four Seasons in Dublin during the horse show. “So much fun and such a beautiful hotel.”
Pan Am Gold Medalist Dressage CESAR PARRA’S favorite HOTEL: “I am partial to the Lindner chain of hotels in Europe—partly because they are very nice, but mostly because my upcoming star is named after them, and I LOVE him!”
Reining’s first family TIM AND COLEEN McQUAY’S favorite HOTEL: Bellagio in Las Vegas. “Tim likes blackjack.”
Top Canadian hunter/jumper rider ERYNN BALLARD’S favorite GETAWAY: Prince Edward Island. “The most beautiful spot in all of Canada.”
L.A. Saddlery owner RENEE SPURGE’S favorite HOTEL: “Nestled between majestic redwoods and rugged coastlines, the Ventana Inn and Spa is my favorite place to hide out and recharge.” RESTAURANT: The Inn at the Seventh Ray, tucked away in Old Topanga Canyon in Los Angeles.
Champion reiners MANDY AND TOM McCUTCHEON’S favorite GETAWAY: “I think Turks and Cacois has the most beautiful beaches and clearest water I have ever seen.”
Grand Prix dressage rider DEVON KANE’S favorite HOTEL: Sea Island Resort in Georgia. “The beach is pristine, the grounds are gorgeous and inviting, and the staff is always more than helpful and very friendly. The atmosphere is warm, southern family style, but no expense is spared, and it is certainly a top-class resort. When I think perfection and relaxation, I think of Sea Island.”
Polo star NIC ROLDAN’S favorite HOTEL: Kurland Hotel in Pletenburg Bay, South Africa. “It’s a gorgeous hotel on a private polo farm at the base of a mountain range and close to the beach.” RESTAURANT: The Meatball Shop in New York City. “You can’t go wrong because the meatballs are delicious!”
President of Breyer Horses TONY FLEISCHMANN’S favorite HOTEL: Baur Au Lac in Zurich, Switzerland. “This gorgeous old hotel on the lake is completely restorative.” RESTAURANT: Il Buco in NYC. “The food is incredibly fresh and well prepared. And once a year, I have to have a fried hot dog from legendary Rutt’s Hut in New Jersey—although I usually regret it!”
2010 ASPCA Maclay Finals Champion HARLEY BARNHILL’S favorite HOTEL: The Monaco, Washington, D.C. “Love the modern décor, and it’s a short walk to the Washington International Horse Show.” GETAWAY: Key West. “It’s relaxed. You can do a lot of activities—or nothing at all.”
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n the otherworldly landscape of southern Utah, a unique resort blends seamlessly into the vast desert. It offers easy access to some of America’s most magnificent National Parks and protected areas, including Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, the Grand Canyon, and Monument Valley. Amangiri is an Aman destination, one of a group of luxury hotels and resorts in 20 countries around the world. They are renowned for their design, space, and privacy. Aman’s destinations are located in some of the most diverse and awe-inspiring natural or historic landscapes. Each instills a sense of peace and a connection to the natural environment. This jaw-dropping resort, like the surrounding landscape, is dramatic and majestic, yet intimate. Its ground-hugging design uses clean lines and natural materials to mirror the serenity of the stark desert scenery. Wide glass doors and skylights contrast the
DESERT RESORT OFFERS SERENITY AND ADVENTURE
cool, remote escape of the shady caves near the canyon wall. Looking for adventure? Early morning hot-air balloon flights launch directly from Amangiri and soar over Lake Powell, the Vermillion Cliffs, and the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. The resort’s extensive trails and expert guides offer horseback riding adventures for all levels. Paleontological interpreters will accompany you to explore and even excavate fossils and dinosaur tracks at the nearby Tibbet Spring Bone Bed Quarry. Navajo guides take you to slot canyons and introduce you to ritual dances and storytelling. For those in search of tranquility, the desert spa aims to reflect the healing traditions of the Navajo through the four elements of earth, wind, fire, and water. Treatments include massages, scrubs, wraps, PAGE 105 and flotation therapy.
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T R AV E L D I A RY
TA N Q U E V E R D E , A R I Z O N A
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THE EQ TEAM TAKES A CITY SLICKER’S ESCAPE TO A TUCSON, ARIZONA, RANCH.
BY JILL NOVOTNY PHOTOS BY GEORGE KAMPER
live in Brooklyn, New York, and ran the New York City Marathon the day before flying to visit Tanque Verde ranch in Tucson, Arizona. The marathon is a unique experience. It summarizes the intensity of New York and life here: overwhelming, energizing, diverse, crowded, and highly competitive. It’s intense enough to walk the streets on a normal day; to run them with crowds of thousands is an amazing experience. A day later, when I stepped off the plane in Arizona and hobbled down the steps to baggage claim, I was met by Jeff, who welcomed me warmly and began a fascinating lecture describing the culture, history, environment, and vegetation of the area and that lasted the 40-minute shuttle-van ride. Because it was dark, he pulled over to shine the headlights on various plants and trees. I arrived at the ranch later than the others, and it seemed quieter and darker than any place I could remember. I was definitely not in New York City anymore.
Below: George Kamper and Jill Novotny
A M ERICA’S LARGEST
Tanque Verde is the nation’s largest working dude ranch. It is nestled among the Rincon Mountains of Arizona and bordered on two sides by Saguaro National Park. The ranch spans 640 acres dotted with ponds and crisscrossed by a huge network of trails. There are currently about 150 horses that are herded into corrals each morning and saddled up for guests to ride. In the last 175 years, the ranch has been an important landmark for the area. It changed owners only three times. The first owner, Don Emilio Carrillo, bought the ranch in 1856, just after the land was transferred to the U.S. from Mexico. In 1904, it was raided by bandits, and Carrillo was hung from a beam in what is the card room at the ranch today. Cattleman Jim Converse bought the ranch from Carrillo’s son and built the present day ramada in the 1920s to welcome eastern visitors. During a bar-room brawl, Converse accidentally shot a Mexican cowboy. His troubles with the law led him to sell the ranch to Brownie Cote. Brownie’s son Bob and his wife, Rita, are around the ranch nearly every day and are well-known to ranch guests. I awoke the next morning as the sun rose on the chilly desert and joined George Kamper, EQ’s photography director, for a hearty breakfast before our first ride. We entered Continued on page 90 SUM M E R | 2 0 1 5 | EQ U ES TRIA N Q UA RTERLY | 73
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T R AV E L D I A RY
TA N Q U E V E R D E , A R I Z O N A a door marked Wranglers Room, and I felt nostalgic for the summer camps of my childhood. We were assigned horses that would be ours for the rest of the trip. I mounted my horse, Red, a rather lazy, steady fellow with an unhurried manner. We set out to a ring, where we English riders learned the Western way to hold the reins and practiced trotting around. When each of us had satisfied the ride leader, we took an easy trail ride through narrow, sandy trails. It looked like the riding at the ranch would be simple group trail rides, slow and relaxing. It wasn’t until later in the ride that I first caught wind of a “lope test.” The phrase was repeated in whispers, until I finally asked one of the other riders about it. She had been coming to the ranch since she was a child and spoke of the tradition with reverence. The lope test, she explained, is the highest level of riding offered at the ranch. Each rider is asked to perform several maneuvers, including a lope, the Western version of a canter. T I M E F O R T H E SPA
When I dismounted, my marathon-weary legs had gone from rubbery and sore to wooden and aching, so I decided to pass on the planned hiking trip for something more therapeutic. An outdoor yoga class sounded perfect. Much like the rest of the ranch, the class was unpretentious but excellent. After an hour of stretching and breathing deeply at the foot of the dramatic Saguaro Hills, I was ready to mount up again. Next on the itinerary was the sunset ride. The landscape opened up, the shrubs turned to sparse cacti, and huge, rocky mountains spread out ahead of us. I sat back into the wide, Western saddle and allowed Red to take me up the 9 0 | EQ U E S T RI A N L I VI N G | T R AV EL & EN T ERTAI N MEN T
slight incline to the foot of the hill. “Is anyone afraid of heights?” yelled our guide. Smiling, I expected her to be joking about a hill or an overlook. Instead, we scrambled up and down banks and ledges that I would never have attempted on my Warmblood back home. I was impressed. This was not your average trail ride. I tried my best to stay out of Red’s way as he adeptly pulled me up and over rocks and around each cactus and ditch. I caught glances of wildlife like hares and cactus wrens and remembered what a friend from the Southwest had told me: “If it doesn’t bite, scratch, or sting, then it’s not from Arizona.” As the blue moonlight pushed the last redness to the edges of the sky and darkness arrived, the group’s chatting stopped, replaced with silence. Was everyone else feeling my sense of adventure that bordered on nervousness? Thirty-five minutes later, we returned to the stable under a bright full moon. As soon as our feet were back on the ground, we made for the Dog House Saloon, the ranch’s on-site bar. The simple, square room was alive with conversation. I ordered their signature homemade Prickly Pear Margarita, and we all chatted excitedly about the day’s adventures. TH E L O P E TES T
The next morning, we headed out early for the lope test. I wobbled to the stable like a cartoon cowboy, unable to bend my saddle-sore legs. I feared that the combination of my useless legs and my lazy horse might spell failure in my test. As we lined up on the stable porch, we were told that we were not going to ride the horses we had been riding so far for the test. Murmurs of dissatisfaction spread over the
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TA N Q U E V E R D E , A R I Z O N A group, but I was glad. There is nothing like a steady and trustworthy horse, but in my condition I was quite ready for one with pep in his step. I mounted the unfamiliar Uno and joined the lineup as we crossed the paddock. The gates swung wildly in the wind, and the hay was picked up and thrown around as if by invisible vandals. I could already feel my horse’s hind end bouncing restlessly as I asked him to halt. I squinted, cowboy style, as my face was coated with a thick layer of dust, and volunteered to go first. At my first motion, my horse leapt into the lope. I spent the four or five strides along the length of the ring learning to steer with one hand and finding my balance in my long stirrups. “And brake!” shouted the wrangler through the wind, and I sat into a halt. Amazingly, I was one of two riders to pass the lope test, and the only one to continue on for a lope ride, which was much like the other trail rides but at a fast gait. Because it was only me and the wrangler, it was easy to settle into a pace and enjoy the ride. Along the way, a few pieces of trash had gathered along the trail, obviously a result of the extreme wind. The rugged cowboy easily jumped off his horse and picked up each piece of trash. I decided then that I loved this place. We picked up a lope down the sandy trails of Saguaro National Park. It was one of the most delightful experiences I can remember on horseback. That night, we walked a path to the cottonwood grove, a stunningly picturesque corner of the ranch where a weekly barbecue dinner is held. A guitar player strummed country tunes where we ordered local beers and filled our plates right off the huge grill.
By the morning of our last day, the routine was already familiar. We arrived at the stables ready for our morning ride and wistfully snapped photos of the warm desert we would be leaving in just a few hours. Our ride took us through a whole new terrain, sandy and open, and ended at an old homestead, where we found an old covered wagon with a sign that read “Bob’s Famous Old West Pancakes.” Famous Bob (photo at left) filled our plates with blueberry pancakes, eggs, and bacon. The picnic tables, covered in checkered tablecloths, were filled by guests of all ages. I overheard a conversation between a family from Brooklyn visiting for a second time and a couple who had returned to the ranch for each of the 33 years they had been married. WA RMTH I S L U X U RY
The uniqueness of Tanque Verde made the experience a luxury. But instead of a luxury resort, it was more like a family gathering—comfortable and unceremonious. Above all, it was a strikingly warm place, which no doubt accounts for the huge percentage of returning clientele. It is a place that feels familiar the instant you arrive. The rich green lawns and waterfall by the pool are opulent and beautiful, but luxury is not the aim. Tanque Verde is a highend resort built on authenticity, history, and warmth. As I exited the airplane and walked slowly down the corridors into the terminal at LaGuardia Airport, I looked down at my dusty cowboy boots and considered speeding up my steps to the usual New York City pace. But my saddle-sore legs would simply not allow it, and I walked on at my own relaxed speed. I could pick up city-slicking again tomorrow. TRAVEL & ENT E RTA INM E NT | EQ U ES TRIA N Q UA RTERLY | 91
TANQUE VERDE GALLERY
EQ’s photography director, GEORGE KAMPER,
The West has long fascinated George, who has
and deputy editor, Jill Novotny, recently spent a few
assembled a gallery of his favorite “cowboy” images
days at Tanque Verde, a guest ranch in Tucson, Arizona.
from this trip. You can also see his full cowboy
(See page 72.)
gallery (that includes his visit with Lyle Lovett last year in Texas and an excursion to a ranch in Moab, Utah) at tinyurl.com/EQ-cowboys
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ituated on the second largest island in the sunny Bazaruto Archipelago off the coast of Mozambique, the AndBeyond Benguerra resort is a gateway to an underwater paradise of marine life. Set in a protected conservation area, the resort offers pristine reefs teeming with life. A deep lagoon, unaffected by the tides, makes for perfect swimming and snorkeling. The lodge is sheltered by a canopy of casuarina pines that opens up to panoramic views of the Indian Ocean. While the island is fringed with golden, sandy beaches, its interior is a lush patchwork of forests, wetlands, and freshwater lakes. Explore the
RIDE BAREBACK INTO THE AZURE WATERS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN
island on foot or horseback, uncover traditional culture at the local village, or climb soaring sand dunes. The resort can offer you a castaway picnic, with incredible ocean views and romantic total seclusion. Horseback adventures allow guests to spend late afternoons cantering along the waterâ€™s edge, exploring the islandâ€™s hidden tracks, or indulging in a gentle wander along endless beaches. In tune with nature, horseback riding is the perfect way to absorb the beauty of Benguerra. You can ride bareback into the azure waters, splashing and laughing, as you float along into the waves aboard your island horse. Afterwards, hop off and allow your horse a sandy roll on the beach.
BENGUERRA , MOZ AMBIQUE
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NAYARA SPRINGS , COSTA RICA
he ultraluxe Nayara Springs sits under the misty Arenal Volcano in La Fortuna, Costa Rica. Accessible only by a 200-foot-long footbridge, the secluded resort is for adults only and attracts honeymooners and horse lovers from around the world. The rainforests of Central America are dense with vegetation and animal life. Huge, colorful plants line the stone pathways of the resort. Chirping frogs and the steady thump of warm rain on your villaâ€™s terrace will lull you to sleep in your extravagant four-poster, kingsize bed. Outside, an infinity pool merges into the forest, allowing swimmers-turned-birdwatchers to spot
ESCAPE TO THE RAINFOREST FOR LUXURY AND SECLUSION
toucans, hummingbirds, and macaws. Relaxation abounds in the spaâ€™s unique open-air bungalows, which offer volcanic mud treatments, or in a complimentary yoga class conducted in an incredible all-glass pavilion. Riders of all levels can enjoy horseback excursions into the rainforest, crossing rivers and traversing coffee plantations and dense jungles. Depending on your need for speed, walk or gallop with your guide across pastures or through the jungle to the volcano. Other adventures include zip lining, whitewater rafting, and eco-tours that cross the numerous Arenal hanging bridges in a 600-acre nature reserve. A hike to the nearby Chato Peak, a dormant twin to the Arenal Volcano, will take you to a splendid crater lake and the La Fortuna waterfall. PAGE 105 A PRIL/MAY | 201 6 | EQ L I V I NG .CO M | 5 1
otogrande looks like a Slim Aarons photograph. Sedate cerulean swimming pools and vibrant green landscaping meet one’s eye from practically every angle. So it’s little surprise that the 20th century Manhattanite photographer spent time on this southwestern coast of Spain. As Andalusia’s largest privately owned residential space—an eightsquare-mile stretch of land that skirts the Mediterranean Sea—the allure of Sotogrande is twofold. It’s a mix of natural beauty and unpretentious luxury. There’s no Nobu here, and that’s on purpose. With views reaching as far as Morocco and Gibraltar, its surrounds are a rich tangle of centuries of discoveries. History reveals itself in the Continued on page 70
BRIDGET ARSENAULT holds a master’s degree from Oxford University. A longtime journalist, she was the associate editor for print and digital at Vanity Fair U.K., and she is the London correspondent for VanityFair.com. She has also freelanced for a variety of publications, including British Vogue, DuJour, House & Garden, Departures, and Travel and Leisure.
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AN ANDALUSIAN TRAVEL DIARY BY BRIDGET ARSENAULT
THE ALLURE OF
SOTOGRANDE This resort on Spainâ€™s COSTA DEL SOL boasts views of the Rock of Gibraltar and Morocco and, with nine polo fields, is the largest and most prestigious polo club in Europe.
La Reserva clubhouse and golf course.
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Almenara Hotel Sotogrande.
La Reserva El Mirador infinity pool. 68 | E Q UE S T R I A N L I V I N G | AU GU S T/ S EPTEMB ER | 2017
PHILIPPE PERDEREAU / ULMER
Jean Mus-designed gardens.
Villa Oasis indoor pool. AUGUST /SE PT E M B E R | 20 1 7 | EQ L I V I NG .CO M | 6 9
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landscape, where Herculean cypresses once imported from ancient Greece are paired with indigenous plant life such as orange blossom, lavender, myrtle, and thyme. Sotogrande is somewhere you can get lunch for 20 Euros, and, unbeknownst to you, you might do that while sitting next to Prince Jefri of Brunei.
egacy is a word you often hear when in Sotogrande. In 1962 its founder, Joseph McMicking, set out to do something different. The idea behind Sotogrande was to take a group of like-minded people and bring them together. McMicking was brought up in Scotland before spending time in the United States and the Philippines, where he met and married Mercedes Zobel. McMicking was a self-made businessman and Mercedes a glamorous potential heiress—her family owned the multi-billion dollar Ayala 70 | E Q UE S T R I A N L I V I N G | AU GU S T/ S EPTEMB ER | 2017
Top left: The Santa Maria Polo Club is the most prestigious and largest in Europe, with nine polo fields and a one-million-squaremeter garden. Top right: Facundo Pieres (Ayala) and Adolfo Cambiaso (Dubai). Sotogrande is the August stop on the international polo circuit and the stats are impressive, with more than 25 tournaments, 75,000 visitors, 220 teams, 800 players, and 2,500 horses making their way through the grounds each year. Bottom: The polo school.
Corporation, the largest company in the Philippines. Where some businesses mine their history for a laudable moment, for McMicking history truly was a part of his DNA. A valued soldier during World War II, he finished his United States military career as a colonel; throughout his life, he was known across continents as a kind, conscientious, and gracious businessman. That thread is felt throughout Sotogrande. When it all began, McMicking was quoted as saying, “To have Sotogrande based on money would be the most horrible society I can imagine. It was first suggested that only landowners could join the Club de Gold. I said ‘That’s crazy.’ A club is a thing people join because they are friends, or potential friends.” He was not looking to replicate another Paris, Madrid, or London. Instead, it was a place created to reconnect people to themselves, their friends, and family.
The geographic beauty and laissezfaire attitude it imbued meant the area quickly became punctuated by Spain’s richest families as well as by leaders from around the world—princes, politicians, playboys, you name it. The reason it looks like somewhere you might have found Jackie Onassis supine on a sun lounger is because at one point, you could have. And in more recent years, Sotogrande has been visited by the likes of Mariah Carey, Antonio Banderas, and Tony Blair.
ast forward to right now. The Zobels still rein king. In August 2016, Paola Zobel wed the Argentinean polo player Santiago Laborde. The 500-person-plus wedding was held on the family’s Ayala polo grounds. Young and unfathomably glamorous, the couple is keeping up with tradition, currently building their residence in San
There are also a number of public and private equestrian facilities throughout Sotogrande. The best-known stables and lesson barn are the Sotogrande Equestrian Centre Hipica, with 103 stalls, a dressage and show-jumping ring, a cross-country course, and a pleasant restaurant. The smaller San Roque club, with 22 stalls, is also popular with locals and visitors alike.
Enrique, moments from the estate house where Joseph McMicking and Mercedes Zobel once lived. They are also maintaining, or more aptly, growing, the region’s equestrian scene—a valued piece of the Sotogrande puzzle since the beginning. Year-round sun and rich natural surroundings make for the ideal equestrian equation. The most vibrant scene in Sotogrande is polo, followed by show jumping and more casual hacking and trail rides. Paola and Santiago are the ideal conductors of the next phase. She a personable and pert blond whose showjumping career has taken her to Palm Beach and across Europe. Santiago is a tall, dark, and handsome internationally ranked polo player. There’s a Disney movie in there. The Santa Maria Polo Club is the most prestigious and largest in Europe, with nine polo fields and a one-millionsquare-meter garden. Sotogrande is the August stop on the international polo AUGUST /SE PT E M B E R | 20 1 7 | EQ L I V I NG .CO M | 7 1
Riding with Endurance Equestrian in Alcaidesa Andalucia pine forests Sotogrande marina.
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circuit, and Santa Maria helps host the majority. The stats are impressive, with more than 25 tournaments, 75,000 visitors, 220 teams, 800 players, and 2,500 horses making their way through the grounds each year. And as equestrian circuits so often are, polo is the hub for social connectivity. The evening matches are events in themselves, with Veuve Clicquot practically on tap, lithe young men and women with model pouts traipsing about, and DJs spinning into the wee hours. It’s a touch point for the community.
Ribiera del Marlin. The waterfront is alive with apartments, shops, and restaurants. In the summer there’s a meandering Sunday market and evening alfresco pop-ups. The food is predominately Spanish—plump olives, freshly charred octopus where a delightful smokiness permeates your mouth, and cured meats colored a deep-maroon. Elsewhere, palm trees fan the poolside at the Trocadero Sotogrande, an all-day and -night beach club, restaurant, and bar. The entire resort is personified by Gigi’s Beach, a laid-back beach bar set on the warm caramel sand. The menu is casual—heaping salads and fresh-off-thegrill fish and meats, and the ambiance and natural soundtrack is such that any five-star spa would want to come by and record them.
here’s also amateur show jumping aplenty, and Paola is working hard to bring a grand-prix tour to the area once a new set of facilities are completed. There are also a number of public and private facilities throughout Sotogrande, the best-known stables and lesson barn being the Sotogrande Equestrian Centre Hipica. With 103 stalls, a dressage and show-jumping ring, a cross-country course, and a pleasant restaurant onsite, Hipica is a bustling riding school. It’s commonplace to find pigtailed pony-club children tugging their obstinate ponies through the yard, and grooms busy clipping and primping clients’ horses for show season. The smaller San Roque club, with 22 stalls, is also popular with locals and visitors alike and formerly hosted the Asprey Cup, a renowned dressage and show-jumping weekend currently on hiatus. The area’s other huge draw is its trails and beaches. With natural assets in abundance, Sotogrande is a popular spot for hacking and leisurely rides. The onsite firm Endurance Equestrian is run by Dutch equestrian expert Ferdy Coopman, who is fluent in English, German, Spanish, and his native Dutch. Ferdy has worked with polo ponies in Argentina and Belgium, race horses in Mijas, and
La Reserva chef Cristina Gutierres Bergue.
endurance horses in Estepona (both not far from Sotogrande), and is a guide certified by the Royal Spanish Equestrian Federation. From the unspoiled Guadalquiton beach with soaring views of the Strait of Gibraltar and Africa to wooded paths and mountain ranges, he’ll lead riders through over 3,700 acres of trails. Partway through the ride, guests can stop beneath a canopy of pines and cork trees, where, like a mirage, Ferdy’s wife, Cristina Sempere, appears with a picnic basket teeming with rich cheeses, meats, and freshly made salads. There is of course a world beyond the equestrian offerings. Golf courses account for much of area; there are restaurants aplenty and a resplendent marina. Silver and white masts line both the original Marina Puerto Deportivo de Sotogrande, opened in 1987, and the more recent
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a Reserva is the pièce de résistance of the area and is set to take Sotogrande into the next century. What started as a well-designed golf course and clubhouse is growing to encompass a vast parkland and a new series of design-focused villas. The green spaces are overseen by the celebrated French landscape artist, Jean Mus, whose aim is to blend the rich natural environment with traditional Spanish marble, slate, and granite pathways and footbridges. Seven different architects will leave their imprint on one of each of the seven new villas set to open in 2018. “The villas are interpretations of each architect’s vision of the family home as a personal journey,” explains Marc Topiol, Sotogrande’s current CEO. “They will be a place for comfort, serenity, balance, protection, joy, freedom, and adventure.” If Joseph McMicking were alive today, this is surely just the kind of next step he’d be taking. PAGE 113
MOROCCO SEE PAGE 68
AMAZING ESC APES
ITALY SEE PAGE 70
SCOTLAND SEE PAGE 67
F O R H O R S E L OV E R S E Qâ€™S T H I R D A NN UA L T R AV E L FEATUR E: F RO M M A R R A K ECH TO MON TA NA , F RO M D E C AD E N T TO ROUG H IN G IT.
ARIZONA SEE PAGE 72
T H E I N N AT D O S B R I S A S , T E X A S
he Inn at Dos Brisas, tucked quietly between Houston and Austin, Texas, amidst 313 acres of rolling hill country, welcomes guests in impeccable style. Once a family ranch retreat, it has evolved into a highly esteemed, all-inclusive, five-star luxury resort. Its charming character and seamless blend of sumptuous surroundings and rustic flavor makes Dos Brisas an irresistible destination. The inn is an idyllic choice for guests looking for a quiet escape or an action-packed getaway. Visitors with an equestrian experience in mind will be thrilled with the range of options. Guided trail-rides throughout the ranch grounds are a popular choice for guests with basic riding experience, and romantic carriage rides, punctuated with picnic lunches and wine, speak to those looking for a way to unwind. B R I N G YO U R HORSE
The resort is now home to the second largest privately owned indoor riding arena in Texas and is available to guests and the public. Private and group lessons are offered as well as boarding for those traveling with their horses.
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SUMPTUOUS SETTINGS AND RUSTIC FLAVOR ARE A WINNING BLEND.
For more relaxing pursuits, an additional array of recreational choices await. Golf, biking, tennis, and clay shooting embody the sporting side of the resort. After an exhilarating day of athletic endeavors, you’ll want to schedule time to reward yourself with a soothing spa treatment by the private plunge pool. For an urban-themed day trip, consider taking a short drive to Houston to explore the plethora of cultural venues, museums, and upscale shopping. FIV E-STAR RESTAU RA NT
Unique to this intimate resort is the on-site Forbes fivestar rated restaurant—the only restaurant in Texas to have earned this award. Delectable ingredients cultivated on acres of the resort’s organic farmland yield innovative culinary creations overlaid with a hint of Texas flair. Your inner oenophile is bound to be indulged by the staggering wine collection that awaits your sampling. At the end of the day, guests can retreat to a private hacienda or casita outfitted in ultimate luxury. Dos Brisas embraces the indoor-outdoor experience, and each room features French doors that open onto a private patio and the PAGE 94 tranquil views beyond.
he Gleneagles Hotel, resting high atop the pinnacle of grand bastions, exudes old world charm and flawless attention to detail. This five-star hotel in Perthshire, Scotland, surrounded by 850 acres of beautiful countryside, offers an unparalleled escape for the discerning traveler and anyone who loves the great outdoors. Golfers consider Scotland synonymous with the sport, and Gleneagle’s three championship golf courses—regarded among the best in the world—offer avid players a winning blend of beauty and challenge. Other outdoor skills can be tested in falconry, archery, off-road driving, and gun-dog school. Children are invited to enjoy a multitude of sports, games, and even a spy school. A R I D E R ’ S D R EAM
This destination is above all a horse-rider’s dream. The equestrian school, complete with fully accredited coaches, offers lessons in every discipline of horsemanship from beginner to expert, and all takes place at the on-site, 50-acre facility. Introduction to polo is available along with carriage-driving packages for those who would rather drive than ride. Although grand in style, each of the luxury accommodations has an individual personality more typical of an intimate hotel. A day of venturing off the grounds should be set aside for excursions to nearby castles and palaces, or through the Dalwhinnie Distillery where tours include a range of single malts paired with artisanal chocolates from the Highland Chocolatier. What a perfect way to indulge in local tradiPAGE 94 tions!
A TIMELESS ELEGANCE GREETS THE DISCERNING TRAVELER.
G L E N E AG L E S , S C OT L A N D
SELMAN MARRAKECH, MOROCCO
arrakech, a city that enchants visitors with culture, history and magic, is known for the vibrant maze of markets that line the narrow streets of the Moroccan Medina. Souks, with their riotous displays of carpets, tapestries, baskets, and exotic spices, tempt shoppers from around the world. Just minutes from this bustling hub of one of Africa’s busiest cities is Selman Marrakech, a five-star luxury hotel renowned for its refined atmosphere and flawless blend of modern lifestyle and Moroccan tradition. At the foot of the Atlas Mountains, what once seemed like a mirage is now a distinct palace of alluring Moorish charm. Selman Marrakech is a family-owned business that reflects their unique combination of passions for horses and the hospitality industry. “Just as palaces showcase pieces of art, we have decided to go for a live installation of the most beautiful breed of horse in the world, the Arabian Thoroughbred, which is an integral part of our history and culture,” said owner Abdellam Bennani Smires. Bennani Smires entrusted the design of the hotel and onpremises horse farm to famous French architect and interior designer, Jacques Garcia.
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WHAT WAS ONCE MERELY A MIRAGE IS NOW A PALACE OF ALLURING CHARM.
“We wanted to create a place to be and live and to generate a unique experience, whose soul is part of the history and heritage of Morocco,” added Bennani Smires. The hotel offers guests a variety of sumptuous accommodations and amenities, including superior and deluxe rooms, generous suites, and one- and two-bedroom Riads complete with private gardens, pools, and butler service. Favorites among the guests are the private alcoves and terraces that create a sense of utter privacy and escape. The Garcia-designed stables boast 16 stalls, four outdoor paddocks, and a garden for private events. “I wanted to offer people the chance to gain access and to share this otherwiseclosed equitation world,” said Bennani Smires. Be sure to reserve restorative time at the hotel’s Henri Chenot signature spa after a full day of exploring. It offers some of the most innovative approaches to well-being in the region. There are several restaurants and bars throughout the hotel, serving French, Asian, Mediterranean, Moroccan, and international cuisine. If you are traveling with children, “Selman Kids” offers a program that treats children to magical moments of fun and PAGE 94 learning.
ontana is undeniably a rider’s paradise. Its wide-open views, sagebrush hillsides, and alpine peaks against azure skies are best seen on horseback. Located in Philipsburg, Montana, halfway between Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, the Ranch at Rock Creek experience combines adventure with the spirit of play. Travelers can thoroughly immerse themselves in the culture of western Montana rather than observe it through the slats of a corral. Hosted by knowledgeable guides, adventurers of all levels of expertise can traverse mountains, ranchland, and wildflower meadows in the extensive outdoor activities program that includes horseback riding, target shooting, fly fishing, hiking, mountain biking, and a ropes course. The Ranch at Rock Creek isn’t a nose-to-tail property. With 6,600 acres to explore and miles of trails to enjoy, there is ample room to spread out. Trail rides vary based on rider ability. Novice riders may prefer shorter excursions, while more advanced riders should plan to take advantage of half or full days of the ultimate Western riding experience. For equestrians looking to gain
TRY MONTANA “GLAMPING” IN AN UPSCALE, STREAM-SIDE CABIN.
skills in reining, cutting, roping, and more from National Reined Cow Horse Association (NRCHA) professionals, look into the five-day horsemanship clinic offered May 13-17, 2015. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for additional information. Part of the five-star luxury experience is to have all the necessary accoutrements for an authentic western-style adventure at your fingertips. The resort’s rod and gun club can outfit even the slickest of city dwellers with cowboy hats, boots, riding helmets, and more. Evening tours of the ranch can be enjoyed from an original Wells Fargo stagecoach or on a sleigh ride pulled by Percherons through pristine winter snow. The ranch offers guests myriad luxurious accommodations, including Granite Lodge rooms, authentic log cabins, and unique private homes. The definitive Montana “glamping” experience can be enjoyed in one of the delightful canvas cabins situated along the property’s trout stream. Each accommodation at this relaxed haven is as distinctive as it is magnificent, just like the Montana PAGE 94 landscape.
T H E R A N C H AT R O C K C R E E K , M O N TA N A
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A guest takes in the view of the village from the infinity pool. Top right: Exploring the estate on horseback is idyllic. Below: Il Borro wines age to perfection.
I L B O R R O, T U S C A N Y
nter the gates to Il Borro and you will be pleasantly transported into another world. The estate and medieval village of Il Borro, weathered by time and historic events, has been fully restored to its former glory and now shines like a jewel in a Tuscan crown. At the core of this stunning preservation is the Ferragamo family, known for its luxury-leather empire. Earlier dynasties such as the Medicis and the Savoys have also taken turns safeguarding the Il Borro domain. The 700-acre estate in the heart of Tuscany is surrounded by natural beauty. Olive trees, vineyards, and cypresscovered hillsides all contribute to the iconic image of the province. Il Borro, in the center of the Chianti region, takes claim to the first recorded Chianti production. With great pride the Ferragamos operate a thriving wine-making business that turns out award-winning varietals. Equestrians can enjoy trail riding through the enchanting landscape or taking a leisurely carriage ride through Chianti. Tennis, golf, and biking are also ideal options for soaking in the gorgeous backdrop. Museum tours and trips to observe local artisans at work are available, along with visits to Florence, Sienna, and other nearby medieval villages. 7 0 | EQ U E S T RI A N L I VI N G | T R AV EL & EN T ERTAI N MEN T
THE FERRAGAMO FAMILY HAS RESTORED IL BORRO TO ITS FORMER GLORY.
Accommodations are a perfect synthesis of contemporary design and traditional Tuscan style and run the gamut from beautifully appointed suites to exclusive villas and farmhouses in the heart of Il Borroâ€™s countryside. Meals are meant to be savored in Italy, and the resort celebrates this culinary heritage by offering a unique range of modern Tuscan cuisine, light fare, and informal bistro meals, all served in inviting cosmopolitan settings. The spa, complete with an infinity pool overlooking the estate, offers myriad treatments and programs tailored to each guest. This is truly a calm oasis in an incredibly seductive environment. A variety of private culinary and wine-touring day trips can be readily arranged for visitors. Traveling throughout the region is a great way to fully experience a slice of authentic Tuscan culture and cuisine. Full-day wine tours to choice vineyards in nearby regions will offer discussions about wine production and the art of identifying the nuances of various Tuscan wines. Tuscany also produces some of the finest cheeses and olive oils in Italy. Stopping at a local osteria to engage in conversation and sample these earthly delights will certainly be PAGE 94 time well spent.
Castle Leslie, perched above one of the three lakes on the property. At right: stately interiors of the castle exude Old World grandeur.
C ASTLE LESLIE, IRELAND
astle Leslie Estate, one of the top luxury castle hotels in Ireland, is a sumptuous destination for the discriminating traveler. Located in Glaslough, County Monaghan, it has long been a private escape for distinguished ambassadors, poets, and celebrity guests such as Bono, Mick Jagger, and Paul McCartney. For equestrians with a penchant for an aristocratic experience and unlimited riding options, Castle Leslie is nothing short of paradise. Recently revitalized, Castle Leslie has become an ultimate equestrian destination. The 1,000-acre property maintains two stables, full-service equestrian facilities, and an indoor arena. More than 300 cross-country jumps are scattered over the estate, and 21 miles of bridleways meander across the landscape, offering a gorgeous backdrop for a vigorous ride or an easy day of hacking. If you prefer a more structured equestrian vacation, there are three- and ﬁve-day instruction packages. Lessons are available for beginners, pleasure riders, and those looking to improve their skills in show jumping, cross country, and dressage. A less demanding and charming way to explore the property is by carriage. For those fortunate enough, Sir John Leslie, a descendant
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GUESTS INDULGE THEMSELVES AT ONE OF THE MOST SOUGHT-AFTER LUXURY CASTLES IN IRELAND.
of the original family, which dates back to the 1660s, may join you and share a bit of his colorful lore about the estate. CAST L E L ESL IE L U X U RY ACCOMMODAT IO NS
Flickering with welcoming candles, the castle includes 20 rooms, each tastefully appointed with antiques, family heirlooms, and walls graced with period sketches and paintings. Cozy up to your private ﬁreplace or next to a window overlooking the lakes and manicured gardens. Each room has an intriguing back-story and is worth investigating. The Old Stable Mews embody an authentic equestrian ﬂavor. Available in three-, four-, or ﬁve-bedroom conﬁgurations, they are the perfect choice for groups and families. The Lodge, adjacent to the equestrian center, includes 29 rooms with a mix of traditional and modern décor. There you may meet some of the locals who come to the Lodge to enjoy a delicious meal served with ﬂair at Snafﬂes Restaurant or share a pint of hearty Irish Stout and traditional country fare with friends at Conor’s Bar. Time to unwind? Be sure to partake of a soothing treatment at the castle’s full-service spa or hone your culinary PAGE 96 skills at the on-site cookery school.
A DIVINELY RESTORED 18TH-CENTURY GUEST HOUSE IN ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE
t is no surprise to ﬁnd Provence on a list of best travel destinations. The area has continuously attracted those seeking luxury and natural beauty. Domaine de la Baume is nonetheless a truly unique resort. It is located in Tourtour, a lovely French village that will enchant you with its restaurants and attractions. That is, of course, if you ever choose to leave the inn. Set on 99 acres, the grounds of Domain de la Baume include beehives used to make honey, an orangery, a stable, and 558 olive trees that produce over 2,000 liters of olive oil per year. The horses, though a lovely addition to the landscape, are more than decorative. Guests may take them for rides and explore the natural beauty of the property, which is covered in pine trees and trufﬂe oaks. A kitchen garden provides Chef François Martin the freshest ingredients. The grounds also include a formal French-style garden complete with ponds, a pool house, a chapel, and even waterfalls, beneath which guests can swim or receive massages. Inside the majestic building, a series of lounge areas—each cozier than the last—are often occupied by guests curled up with books or engaged in animated discussions over an aperitif. Unless, of course, they are out playing tennis, mountain biking, or sunbathing by the pool. The inn is accessible from three airports, each about an hour’s PAGE 96 drive, or by train from Avignon or London.
D O M A I N E D E L A B A U M E , P R OV E N C E , F R A N C E
estled alongside the warm waters of the Caribbean Sea, Casa de Campo makes its home on the captivating southeast coast of the Dominican Republic. Perhaps the resort is best known for serving as the backdrop of two Sports Illustrated swimsuit issues and its outstanding golf. With 90 holes created by celebrated course designer Pete Dye, it is home to the only Caribbean course consistently ranked in the worldâ€™s top 100. Of course, there are the other amenities you would expect from a resort of this caliber: beaches, a 400-berth marina, spa, tennis, a 245-acre shooting field, and over 70 restaurants, shops, and bars. But what makes Casa de Campo especially intriguing to EQ readers are the equestrian activities. If youâ€™re seeking the thrill of polo, the Casa de Campo facilities are among the best in the Caribbean. Consisting of three playing fields, one practice field, and the largest
A LEGENDARY GOLF RESORT WITH EQUESTRIAN PLEASURES GALORE
string of polo ponies under a single brand in the world, there is no better place to enjoy this rigorous and engaging sport. Equipment, group instruction, and personalized training are available for beginners and medium-goal players. Guests may hire ponies for stick-and-ball tournaments, and families can compete against each other in matches held each week. Regular polo matches are played throughout the week during the season, which begins in early November and ends in April. But even those who have never ridden will have a chance to become championship polo players by playing donkey polo. Kids and CEOs alike all compete on an equal playing field in this highly competitive sport. Even if you have never played polo, or even ridden a donkey, you can play donkey polo. There are also trail rides and hunter/jumper lessons available. PAGE 96
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Unbridled’s lavish interiors feature more than 20 different kinds of wood and more than a dozen types of marble and stone.
6 L U X U RY AT S E A
yacht can give you access to places that few ever get to know, all while enjoying pampered luxury. It’s about having new choices each day and sharing extraordinary experiences with the people you care about. Lavishly luxurious and effortlessly chic, the Unbridled embodies superyachting at its best. Delivered in 2009, the creation of Unbridled was driven by its equestrian owner’s determination to build a truly unique vessel. With equestrian touches throughout, it embodies, on the open water, the same sense of freedom and adventure attained while riding. At 191 feet, Unbridled offers accomodations for up to 12 guests in six staterooms, as well as 13 crew members. The owner, inspired by his family’s long history of riding and breeding horses and his love for the sport of polo, wove
MAKE AN U NB RI DLED ESCAPE ABOAR D AN EQU EST R I ANT HEMED YACHT.
an equestrian theme into the ship’s design. The Unbridled logo contains a belt clip from a saddle in its imagery. The main salon contains a large grill behind the TV with horses galloping, the staircase is leather like a bridle, and all of the sconces on board are horses. Other amenities include a variety of water toys, hightech underwater diving system, stainless steel hot tub, and air conditioning on all outdoor decks. This kind of over-the-top luxury doesn’t come cheap. Unbridled is available for charter for the winter and summer seasons. Summer rates start at $350,000, with winter rates starting at $300,000 per week, plus operating expenses. But somehow for a once-in-a-lifetime experience like this, $25,000 per person for a week seems like a bargain. PAGE 96
IN JAIPUR, YOU TOO CAN PLAY A CHUKKER OF UNFORGETTABLE POLO.
lephants have long been part of Indian culture, representing strength and power. Often used in weddings and religious ceremonies, they have come to be associated with gaiety and celebration, and their undeniable intelligence can be attested to by anyone who has witnessed their curious and gentle nature. It is therefore fitting that after many years of enjoying the game of polo, India would invite these marvelous animals to join the fun. The idea began as a whimsical conversation between two British officers who happened to be polo players, and for many years, the game of elephant polo was played by only the highest levels of society in India, Nepal, and Thailand. Now a much more open sport, elephant polo was introduced to tourists by Vikram Rathore in 1998 and is available to anyone adventurous enough to try. Polo Sport, a tourism and lifestyle company that arranges events and helps foreign travelers in northern India, organizes elephant polo in six locations in Jaipur, offering riders a rare chance to witness and participate in games throughout the year.
Jaipur is the only place in India where one can play Elephant polo at a dayâ€™s, or even only a couple of hoursÂ notice.
Sixteen elephants are trained for polo and are not shy of the mallets, balls, and other elephants. Bollywood stars, American celebrities, heads of state, kings, and corporate leaders have all participated, and in 2006, Cartier organized a tournament in Jaipur which included many A-list guests from Europe and America. Though elephants lack the agility and speed of horses, their docile nature and majestic presence ensures that every match is unforgettable and great fun. The basic rules of elephant polo (which guests are welcome to break) are simple. As in traditional polo, play is divided into seven-minute chukkers, though in this game there are four instead of the typical six. Between chukkers, players switch in order to allow as many guests as possible an opportunity to play. There may be no more than two elephants of the same team on any half of the field at once, and players are only permitted three taps of the ball. Polo Sport also offers other mounted activities around the world, including polo on horseback and on camels, and other equestrian activities like the ancient sport of tent-pegPAGE 96 ging, where galloping riders spear targets.
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T R AV E L D I A RY
D O H A , Q ATA R
f given the opportunity to travel to the exotic Middle East country of Qatar, do it without hesitation. If your means of getting there happens to be on Qatar Airways, then consider yourself a most fortunate traveler. Through an interesting mix of circumstances, EQ was invited to accompany Carson Kressley and two fellow friends of American Saddlebred horses on a five-day excursion to Doha, Qatar. The opportunity to take this VIP trip was part of a fund-raising event for the American Saddlebred Museum as well as an opportunity to introduce Qatar to EQ’s readers. The public relations firm of Public|NY and Qatar Airways orchestrated a trip that none of us will soon forget. (See: The Journey on page 92.)
A L S H AQ A B EQUESTRIAN CENTER
It is essential to stress the Qatari’s profound history and love of equines. Arabian horses were the lifeblood of Qatar long before oil riches. For centuries these noble creatures enabled trade, long-distance desert travel, exploration, and growth. Ultimately horses were the key to survival, and Qataris are committed to not only preserving the bloodlines but also passing along respect for and admiration of these animals to future generations. 5 8 | EQ U E S T RI A N L I VI N G | T R AV EL & EN T ERTAI N MEN T
1, 2. Marco Larsen and Carson Kressley sampled from Qatar Airway’s amazing wine list. The flight from New York took about 12 hours. 3, 4, 5, 16. We were welcomed royally to the St. Regis Doha by personal butlers, complementary Rolls-Royces, and an extravagant outdoor feast. 6. Carson rode camels, attacked the deser t dunes in Jeeps, and 9. made friends during our tour of the private stables. 7, 8. Riders from all over the world were competing in the Doha Longines Global Champions Tour, including 11. American competitor Reed Kessler. 10. A room with a view. 12. Unlike in America, a horse-show makes front page news. 13. The Souk sold everything from local pearls to camels and falcons. 14. Publisher C. W. Medinger introduced EQ, which will now be distributed in Qatar. 15. Editor Stephanie Peters and Carson enjoy “Jazz at Lincoln Center” at the St. Regis.
The Al Shaqab equestrian center is the most striking example of the Qatari’s devotion to horses. Covering almost 250 acres on the outskirts of Doha, Al Shaqab is an historical site with sentimental value for the Qataris. It was the site of an 1893 battle during which loyal supporters of Sheik Jassim bin Mohammed drove out an Ottoman force that had come to arrest him. The stadium complex—which is entirely devoted to horses—rivals the world’s major sports venues of any discipline. The structure is an award-winning architectural extravaganza, designed by the renowned architectural firm of Leigh and Orange (based in Hong Kong) and includes an outdoor arena, air-conditioned performance arenas, lounges, restaurants, a warm-up arena and track, and a full-service riding academy. Expansive press rooms, serving mainly Europe and the Middle East, are outfitted with the most sophisticated technology and flanked by observation lounges. Our visit to Al Shaqab coincided with the final 2013 Longines Global Champions Tour competition. We had the opportunity to visit with American rider Reed Kessler after her first competition in Qatar. She too was awed at the facility, commenting,“It was so thrilling to ride in this stadium. It’s just amazing!” Continued on page 90
Top row: Brazil’s Marlon Zanotelli leaving the warm-up area; our tour of the vast facility required a golf cart; a new foal in the breeding barn. Second row: The state-of-the-art air-conditioned equine hydrotherapy and exercise unit incorporates a swim-
ming pool, equine jacuzzi, dry treadmill, and horse walker with integral lunging unit. This row: The expansive grounds. Bottom row: Chi Al Shaqab event director, Omar Al Mannai, and commercial manager Khaled Yousuf Al Jehani welcomed us; the aisle of one of the many barns.
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IWILLBEHOMESOON/FLICKR CREATIVE COMMONS
A P E R S O N A L T R AV E L D I A RY
The attached riding academy plays an important role in preserving Qatar’s equestrian heritage and culture. Horsemanship is encouraged for children and adults and is available to riders of all levels. The royal family learned to ride at the academy, and it is where their children learn. While touring the facilities, we crossed paths with the Emir’s children returning from their riding lessons. Academy riders can experience dressage, show jumping, endurance, and other equine sports. Currently there are 200 students enrolled, with a waiting list of 600. It seems fitting that the academy is part of the Qatar Foundation and is located in the heart of education city, along with the academic outposts of Cornell, Georgetown, Carnegie Mellon, and other esteemed international universities. A P R I VAT E TOUR
Our entire group was invited to ride some prize Arabian horses at the academy and take a rare, private tour of the vast facilities, which are laid out to form a horseshoe. The stables are built in harmony with the stadium, as are the rehabilitation facilities and one of the largest breeding centers in the world, with a capacity for 400 horses. We couldn’t help but notice the astonishing attention to detail. There is an unwavering harmony to both the
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Many shops in the Doha Souk sell falcons. The raptors sit hooded on their perches, and premier birds cost as much as $1 million.
architecture and landscaping—each facility has its own unique purpose, and each building contributes to a cohesive homage to horses. There are numerous separate stables for dressage, show jumping, Arabians, breeding, and endurance. There is a veterinary center, visitor’s center, and an equestrian club with a panoramic view of the entire complex. The equine exercise center hosts an impressive mix of state-of-the-art equine hydrotherapy and exercise units, swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and treadmill that is unequaled by any we’ve ever seen. The many air-conditioned stables are impeccable, with huge stalls, and the horses—primarily Arabians—are magnificent, fit, and groomed to perfection. Everywhere we went, we found the staff incredibly friendly, generous with their time, and eager to share Al Shaqab’s vision with the world. DOHA
To fully appreciate the city of Doha you must tour this fascinating blend of ancient civilization and modern development. The virtually new city makes it hard to imagine that not much more than 10 years ago Bedouin tribes thrived in the desert—traveling by horse and camels. Qataris living along the Persian Gulf spent their days on Continued on page 92
Continued from page 90
pearl-diving boats called dhows. Pearls were a major industry long before oil. Built along the Corniche, a seaside promenade, Doha’s skyline is a dramatically modern backdrop against the steady stream of dhows that still head out to sea. The riotous mix of buildings stands prominently along the azure water and was best described by our host, Marco Larsen: “Doha is the world’s petri dish of architecture.” The buildings are most alive at night, when they dance to a chaotic symphony of mutating colors, lights, and motion. A trip to a Souk—the traditional open-air Arab market—is an entertaining way to experience Qatari customs and history. Imagine a maze of long passageways and alleys, with curious twists and turns and brimming with merchants selling their wares. Colored lanterns and exotic smells wafting from spice shops lure you in. Vibrant tapestries, silks, pearls, and gold are irresistible and test the temptation of even the savviest shoppers. Unexpected were the many shops selling falcons, all sitting hooded on their perches. We learned that falconry is a popular but not inexpensive
but not inexpensive sport, with prices for premier raptors selling for as much as $1 million. If you stroll far enough through the maze, you may eventually find a camel souk, and if you lose your way, listen for the hooves of mounted police as they meander through the cobblestone walkways. CU LT U RE AN D AC TI VI TI ES
In its quest to become a global art center, Doha has an abundance of museums and points of cultural interest. If your time is limited, a trip to The Museum of Islamic Art is a must. Designed by world-famous architect I.M. Pei (the Louvre), it is built on its own island, positioned out of reach of encroaching skyscrapers. A stunning blend of modern simplicity and Islamic architecture, it is nothing less than spectacular, reminding our group of Los Angeles’ Getty Museum. While the EQ team was engaged in equestrian pursuits, Carson and friends enjoyed some of the other popular activities available to visitors. Dune bashing, a heart-in-your-throat jeep experience of being pitched about like a rag doll while traversing steep desert dunes, was enjoyed along with a camel ride. And of course there was shopping. Lots and lots of shopping! After a wonderful five days, we learned that, while Qatar might be the world’s richest country, we think it could also be the most welcoming. In short, it’s a new must-visit destination for equestrians.
Q ATA R : T H E J O U R N E Y
f luxury travel is a favorite indulgence, rest assured that Qatar Airways meets and exceeds any expectations of airborne comfort. There is a rather overused maxim “It’s not the destination but the journey,” and in the case of Qatar Airways business class, it couldn’t be more accurate. The 12-hour flight from New York City’s JFK airpor t seems all too short to fully enjoy the comfort and amenities offered at 30,000 feet. The five-star service, culinary marvels, extensive wine lists, and unlimited entertainment are the perfect de-stressing precursors to a good night’s sleep. And sleep you will. Once settled into the complimentary grey flannel pajamas, one can fully recline in a cozy bed outfitted with Frette linens, quilted comfor ters, complimentary turn-down service, and dream-enhancing pillows. As a side note, when traveling from the United States on Qatar Airways, business class is first class, and we now understand why many critics choose it as the world’s best.
To extend this pampered state upon landing, consider splurging on Al Maha Services, Qatar’s upscale meetand-greet service, which provides a perfect foray into Arabian hospitality. It offered us full por ter service and a personalized bypass of the hectic pre- and-post-flight processing through passpor t, immigration, and visa
WHERE TO STAY
Our trip was scheduled prior to the completion of Hamad International Airpor t, the new five-star home base for Qatar Airways. Without question it will soon be a bustling, world-class, 600,000-square-meter facility a convenient 30-minute drive from Doha. It is
Doha has no shortage of five-star hotels. Two of our favorites are the Kempinski and the St. Regis Doha, that hosted the EQ team. The Kempinski is ideal for families or groups of friends traveling together. Accommodations range from one-to four-bedroom suites.
clearance, while relaxing in an ultraprivate lounge in both Doha and JFK.
slated for a phased opening beginning in mid-2014. Exciting news for equestrians are the soon-to-open live animal airpor t facilities designed to receive and transpor t significant numbers of horses. Qatar’s primary focus is to open the doors to greater international equestrian par ticipation and eliminate the traditional obstacles that often come with equine transpor t.
The St. Regis Doha offers the ultimate seaside experience at an elite westbay address. Middle Eastern mystique is integrated into modern yet timeless style. Your personal butler greets you upon arrival and is of assistance throughout your stay. Be sure to take advantage of their signature fleet of complimentary Rolls-Royces.
Qatar Airways is poised to fly thousands of soccer athletes, fans, and members of the press as Doha prepares to host the 2022 soccer FIFA World Cup. As par t of that preparation, the airline has joined the OneWorld alliance, offering a host of benefits for travelers.
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