Author Archives: C.C.
Author Archives: C.C.
This is by no means the biggest or fanciest camp in Kenya, but its strength lies in the fact that it’s a real home. Created by a Norwegian family in love with Africa, it has six canvas-and-stone rooms with roaring log fires and hot-water bottles popped between the sheets on chilly nights. Wake up to spectacular views across the plains to a watering hole where elephants, gazelle, zebra and wild dogs gather as they travel the game-rich corridor that passes through camp. Days can be as adventure-packed as you like: there are game drives where you won’t see another vehicle, helicopter trips for trout fishing at Mount Kenya, a resident pride of lions that can be tracked.
There are also think tanks, excursions or simply chats round the campfire with specialists including rock-art experts, conservationists and Kenyan policy makers. And if that sounds a little taxing, there are long lunches with binoculars at the ready, an orphaned cheetah to play with or the option of an open-air massage. Unusually for a safari camp, guests can do anything whenever they want, because Enasoit feels like it’s your own and, quite frankly, that’s worth far more than anything big and fancy.
BEST FOR DESIGN
PIA PAURO – Pia trained at the London School of Fashion and her boutique is a gem, with rails placed under the canopy of a maharani’s tent; the beaded, jewel-bright mini-dresses and languorous kaftans pair local tailoring with a European cut, and are great for sloping around St Tropez and Ibiza.
EN INDE – The showroom for this innovative jeweller is a cool loft space with painted brickwork and floor-to-ceiling windows – an aesthetic that matches the label s chunky, industrial steel collars and tribal beads, as well as curated homewares including rustic woven baskets and wooden butcher boards.
NAPPA DORI – Leather-goods-maker Gautam Sinha combines modern and traditional design for his own label, making delicious ikat-fabric satchels, canvas overnighters printed with vintage photographs, and lacquered steamer trunks, hat boxes and desk trays.
MANAN DESIGN – Kurtas, loose-fit bed jackets and ankle-sweeping skirts of Indian traditional dress are reconceived in a muted palette of navy, white, black and cream, and given a sleek silhouette.
BEST FOR INTERIORS
ARTISAN LUXE – An airy, elegant store that showcases a mix of Indian decorative talents, with beaten-tin lamps, engraved glass. Jaipur dhurries and applique-embellished table linen.
COTTONS AND SATINS – Just down from Artisan Luxe, this stocks heavenly fabrics in paisley and Suzani patterns and a rainbow of colourways, available by the metre, plus matching ready-made cushions.
NAVYA – The sign makes the boast ‘Everything beautiful’ – which indeed it is. Walk past the twee reproduction French furniture (there’s a lot) to find printed, quilted, appliqued fabrics stacked up to the ceiling, glass coasters painted with hummingbirds and Aubusson cushions embroidered with the directive ‘Kiss’ (and an eighth of the price of something similar at The Rug Company).
SOMA and FABINDIA – Both are stalwarts of India’s shopping scene and their Delhi stores have much to recommend them, including block-printed cotton on everything from tablecloths to duvet covers and. at Fabindia, pretty lacquered dishes in sorbet colours.
NIVASA – Designer Rohit Kapoor’s eye for style has given a high-end update to Indian handicraft, with marquetry coffee tables, mirrored sideboards and carved wood chairs. (Staff can arrange delivery for larger items.)
BEST FOR VINTAGE
LOVEBIRDS – As sweet as its name, with jewellery by young Delhi artisans alongside owner Amrita Khanna’s covetable shirt-dresses and the designer cast-offs of Delhi’s fashionable locals. There’s even a tiny cafe on a balcony at the back for mint tea and walnut cake.
BEST FOR CULTURE
CMYK – This concept bookstore has an impressive selection of photography editions, cookbooks, novels, design catalogues and works of Indian history. It also hosts documentary screenings, photography workshops, calligraphy lessons and readings.
BEST FOR STAYING OVER
THE LODHI – The hotel’s shop has a well-edited mix of textiles, silverwork, carvings, kaftans, jewellery, cashmere shawls – even paintings. The suites have daybeds for watching the sun melt over Lodhi Gardens.
SCARLETTE – For a Paris-meets-India vibe, this four-room chambres d’hote is furnished with framed Rajasthani textiles, rattan rugs and wicker chairs; it’s run by 26-year-old Pauline Bijvoet, who moved here to work in the fashion industry.
I CALL IT “WINTER ON demand”. As a desert-dweller with a serious distaste for temperatures below 21 °C but a just-as-serious passion for winter sports, I enjoy brief flings in cooler climes – at my discretion. Jetting into the cold for a week each year works well, but with such a narrow time frame to enjoy the snow, the importance of selecting a destination where the most can be made of winter is paramount. As I exited Geneva’s airport, all cosy in my transport heading for the hills as fat snowflakes swirled down to earth, I had a good feeling about Val d’lsere.
A scenic three-hour drive through the mountains later, the car pulled up beside a quirky hang ten statue in the driveway of Chalet Husky – my not-so-humble abode for this excursion. Located a short walk from the buzzy centre of town in the quiet Le Petit Alaska hamlet, from the outside the Jean-Charles Covarel-designed chalet seems typical of the Alps’ many luxury stays. But step inside and the off-the-wall style is immediately apparent with a ceiling covered in intricately painted.
Arabesque floral patterns and a glass walkway under-lit with vibrant disco colours. Husky’s mix of traditional and eclectic, rustic touches alongside modish decor, continues throughout: retro pop art hangs on walls next to hand-carved chests and wardrobes; fringed lampshades bundled into playful chandeliers cast a glow on the rough wooden flooring; a sofa made from dozens of denim pillow’s sits tinder a glass roof with classic Alpine views. Somehow; it all mingles harmoniously in the large open-plan space.
The seven bedrooms – three of which are accessed from an indoor garden atrium – have en-suite bathrooms and are hooked up with Apple TV and iPad controls; quirky elements, like a sofa printed with The Beatles or a mirror framed with coloured pencils, give each its own personality. The master bedroom includes direct access to the spa, and all guests can take advantage of the hammam, steam room, Jacuzzi, gym, technicolour infinity pool with a waterfall, indoor archery and rifle shooting, and a climbing wall fashioned from the stone that naturally forms one of the chalet’s walls. A full roster of staff run the show; including chef Leo, who tailors meals to guests’ preferences and whims (with a sudden desire for greens one morning, I requested a rather vague “breakfast salad”, which he created off the cuff: crisp radicchio, sauteed asparagus, carrots, potato and mushrooms topped with a perfectly poached egg, which ended up being precisely what I wanted even though I hadn’t known it when I asked).
In the beautiful suites of London’s Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel, timeless elegance has been given a fresh twist.
One of the most celebrated grandes dames among London’s great hotels, Grosvenor House has been a hub of the city’s social life ever since it opened in 1929, as well as an elegant refuge for international travellers. Distinctively British in both its style and atmosphere, it sits in splendour on Park Lane, overlooking the vast green expanse of Hyde Park. But this most distinguished of hotels has never rested on its historic laurels; over the decades it has been updated and adapted to remain in step with society’s changing tastes. Marriott understands that while a grand hotel will inevitably need rejuvenating and refreshing over the years, it should maintain its unique style.
The hotel’s newly reopened suites and all-new Executive Lounge are a fine example of this approach. Exuding the quintessentially British elegance and charm that Grosvenor House is so renowned for, they have a sense of freshness, calm and light that perfectly captures contemporary notions of luxury. The decor is based on a palette of creamy neutrals with splashes of colour that echo the changing seasons in Hyde Park, bringing a touch of nature indoors: warm golds for autumn, silvery tones for winter, daffodil yellow for spring and myriad shades of green for summer. It’s clear that tremendous thought has gone into every element of the hotel, from custom-made furnishings to the art on the walls – and yet nothing is overdone. This attention to detail is what makes guests feel cared for and want to come back time and time again.
Throughout the Middle East and North Africa, a visit to a traditional hammam is luxuriously familiar. Clothes, bags and phones are abandoned and stored in lockers. Bathers are swaddled in woven wraps and escorted into the heart of the bathhouse. The rituals vary slightly, depending on the country you’re in. In Turkey, the experience starts with the regional tradition of stretching out on the gobek last (warm marble “navel stone”). So far, so familiar? Think again. Because over the past 18 months, Istanbul’s newest hammams have inserted boutique hotel bling into the traditional scrub’n soak.
Many of the city’s ancient bathhouses have undergone multi-million-dollar renovations. Others offer personalised beauty treatments and shimmering new spaces for quiet contemplation. Private steam rooms and high-end organic products are the norm, wooing discerning residents and visitors alike. No longer are bathhouses simply a place for locals to doze and gossip. Nor are they merely a quirky activity for tourists to tick off their to-do list. In Western Asia’s most cosmopolitan metropolis, times have changed.
Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami – Streamlined but sumptuous, pared-down yet posh, Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami reopened to the public in 2012 after seven years of meticulous renovations. It’s tucked between the Bosphorus-side districts of Tophane, an area of docklands under arty gentrification, and Karakoy, set to be 2015’s neighbourhood du jour. The bathhouse takes its name from Italian-born Ottoman admiral Kilic Ali Pasa. It was the Pasa himself who commissioned Sinan, Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s iconic architect, to design and oversee the building of this hammam and its mosque complex in 1580. The result: a historical space that soars to the sky – and offers ultra-modern spa services to boot. Push through the heavy wooden doors and the pampering starts immediately. Spa-goers are greeted with a glass of traditional fruity sherbet, freshly brewed from a family recipe courtesy of the owner’s septuagenarian mother. The complimentary hammam slippers are “Made in Italy”.
“Not only is visiting the hammam good for your skin,” explains Melike Safak, Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami’s youthful sales manager. “It’s also great for relieving stress, increasing circulation and relaxing the muscles. While [bathers here] experience a very old tradition, they also have all the comforts and luxury of today.” And how. Optional hour-long, full-body massages follow the more traditional treatments. Afterwards, bathers are encouraged to stretch out on snowy-white sofas in the lounge area, while attendants serve cups of jasmine tea or freshly pressed pomegranate juice. Copies of Vogue and Conde Nast Traveller (naturally) are on hand. The scene is topped off with a bubbling marble fountain at the centre of the reclining room.
Just outside the spa sits Derya, a small boutique purveying traditional cotton wraps (pestamal), scrubbing mitts woven from natural fibres (kese) and ornate copper bowls – so you can attempt to recreate the experience at home. Note that Kilic Ali Pasa Hamami is women-only from 8am to 4pm, and men-only from 4.30pm until 11.30pm daily.
From its gleaming white hull to the spectacular atrium with its stunning staircase and enormous screen showcasing exquisite photography from Vikings destinations, Viking Sea is a feat of Scandinavian design and technology. Everything on board feels well made and beautifully crafted. This is a home away from home, a floating boutique hotel, with bright open spaces, contemporary Nordic-style furnishings and a calm, welcoming atmosphere. Cool blonde wood, glass everywhere to make the most of natural light, designer chairs and Scandinavian accents including stylish rugs and cushions, hide and cashmere throws abound. There are also some incredible works of art and superb prints around the ship.
Staterooms have the same cool vibe, with incredibly comfortable king-sized beds, and good-sized bathrooms with walk-in showers and heated floors, and all have balconies so you can take full advantage of all the wonderful views. There’s a decent coffee-maker and also a laundry room which you can use free of charge. For relaxation, the main swimming pool is chic and elegant, with an adjacent Jacuzzi, perfect for soaking after a days exploring in port. There’s never any shortage of sun loungers or chairs or sofas, and within moments of reclining you will be brought iced water and a cold facecloth.
There are some wonderful spaces to relax with a cocktail or two, including the Explorers’ Lounge, with its sweeping vistas; and Torshavn, a delightful New York-style club and bar. Wine, beer and soft drinks are included with lunch and dinner on a Viking ocean cruise; opt for the Silver Spirits package, and cocktails are included as well. On the top deck you’ll find lounge chairs, mini golf and workout equipment – everything you could need for a warm day at sea. There’s also a well-equipped gym next to the LivNordic Spa. The Spa itself is stylish and serene, with the look and feel of a London day spa, and an extensive treatment menu. Facilities include a sauna, snow grotto, swimming pool and plunge pool, as well as heated beds which are made for falling asleep on. There’s also an elegant salon where you can have your hair blow-dried or a manicure or pedicure while enjoying the ocean views.
Beyond beingjust another destination, the Great Barrier Reef is also the largest living organism on earth: a 2,300-kilometer-long subaqueous maze of coral gardens, more spectacular than a bursting supernova, encircled by highways of brightly colored fish. When BarackObama visited Australia for the G20 summit last November, he lamented that he didn’t have time to see it. A few days earlier. Sir David Attenborough had flown in to film a new 3-D documentary series for the BBC, describing it as the most magical thing he’s ever seen. But the Great Barrier Reef is in peril. Climate change and coastal development have created an environmental double-whammy, with unesco now threatening to declassify it as a World Heritage site unless radical new management practices are put in place. Adding to the cringe-factor are plans to build an A$8 billion mega-resort and casino for Chinese gamblers on the mainland north of Cairns.
There is every reason to hope Australia—a nation whose very identity is of the coast and of the sea—will rise to the challenge and protect this incomparable ecological marvel. Still, travelers should not tarry in 2015, for the stories and photographs one takes back home will contribute to the global movement to save the Great Barrier Reef. The biggest news for 2014 was the July opening of the One & Only Hayman Island. Set in the geographic heart of the reef, this beautifully sybaritic whole-of-island retreat leaves no stone unturned in the pursuit of luxury. Stay in a one-bedroom suite with swim-out access to Australia’s largest pool or in lavish beach villas. There are seven restaurants and bars, the best of which is Fire, a haute cuisine interpretation of surf ‘n’ turf.
Lush Lizard Island, the northern-most resort on the reef, is reopening in April after a 12-month renovation. The island, a national park covering 1,013 hectares with 24 sandy beaches and a lagoon, is back to its awe-inducing natural glory, following the mayhem of Cyclone Ita’s impact last spring, and rooms in the resort are rumored to be better than ever. Travelers looking for a tried and true hotspot should head to Hamilton Island (hamiltonisIand.com.au), the most popular holiday destination on the reef. In the third week of August, it hosts Audi Hamilton Island Race Week (ham iltonislandraceweek.com. au), a fixture of the international sailing calendar with a convivial on-shore program combining fashion events, food markets, cocktail parties and yoga on the beach. Later this year (dates to be confirmed), the Australian Ballet returns to Hamilton for its annual Pas de Deux in Paradise, a water’s edge performance and black-tie dinner held at Qualia Hamilton’s small luxury resort.
Crowd shy? Demure Orpheus Island National Park offers secluded bays and beaches, fringing coral and a giant clam nursery populated by mollusks weighing up to 200 kilograms. Orpheus is one of the few islands on the reef where camping is permitted (nprsr.qld.gov.au/parks; sites A$5-75 per person per night). Orpheus is also the name of the island’s laid-back luxury lodge—14 rooms and an alfresco-style restaurant laid along a serene ribbon of sugar-white sand. The kitchen sources fresh produce from the resort’s veggie patch and from daily fishing expeditions in waters exploding with dogtooth tuna, Spanish mackerel and coral trout.
Near the northern tip of Australia, Haggerstone Island offers a bone-deep sense of quiet. Accessible only by private charter from Cairns, the island’s resort is a small collection of palm-thatch beach huts and tree houses hand-crafted by the Turner family, who’ve lived on Haggerstone for 20 years. Yet it’s the hundreds of kilometers of virtually untouched lagoons, reefs and open ocean the island’s guests can explore by speedboat or helicopter that make Haggerstone so special.
In the deep south of the reef, the facilities at Lady Elliot Island Eco Resort are unpretentious but the ecosystem is among the most ostentatious on the planet. A sanctuary for more than 1,200 species of marine life, the surrounding waters have an abundance of manta rays, turtles, dolphins and migratory whales. “Lady Elliot is the best of the reef because you are living and breathing nature,” says British author Ben Southall. “The birds are on your doorstep, it’s mostly solar powered and you can walk straight fromyour room into a brilliant coral cay set right on the edge of a continental shelf and go snorkeling with giant manta rays.”
Let’s Sea Hua Hin Al Fresco Resort is a magic destination that defies the idea that the longest journeys are the most rewarding. A two-and-half hour drive from Bangkok in the seaside town of Hua Hin, Let’s Sea is an easy to reach beach resort where every detail has been carefully planned and considered to maximize your leisure and pleasure. This chic eco-resort is nestled on a striking stretch of white sand overlooking the azure waters of the Gulf of Thailand close enough to Hua Hin town to make a visit practical, but far enough away to remain peaceful.
An African village-meets-Bauhaus architecture sets the tone for the design. The ground-floor lobby and dining areas housed in open pavilions feature wicker and rich wood. Stone floors, polished concrete and colourful soft furnishing set the mood in the lobby lounge. The rooftop spa offers both a breeze and wonderful views. All of the guestrooms spill out onto the 120-meter lagoon pool that stretches through the resort creating unique water world atmosphere. The rooms designed by Architects Gaia and Agaligo are spectacular in their mix of traditional Thai style and modern comfort.
The 20 Studios have private poolside terraces, while the Moon Deck Duplex Suites offers 68 square meters and easy access to the pool. The bathroom is terrazzo and outfitted with oversized tub and separate rain showers big enough for two and all rooms have a Bose iPod dock so you can chill in the tub to your favorite tunes. One of the biggest reasons to stay at the hotel is its Beach Restaurant. With Thai and international dishes and a well-considered wine list, it’s an ideal place for sunrise or star watching.
Perfection is in the details and Let’s Sea has an enchanting spa, 24-hour in-room dining, breakfast-in-bed room service, an out-door gym, Internet, mood lighting, DVD/VCD players, a large flat-screen TV and a stocked refrigerator with a complimentary Btlll bar credit.
HOTEL BOUTIQUE CASA PESTAGUA – It’s the immense scale that hits you upon entering this high-ceilinged palacio, one of three originally owned by the 18th-century Count of Pestagua. With louvered window shutters, a muted palette, and heat-resistant corolina stone flooring, the 11 rooms are designed for Cartagena’s steamy climate. We love the generous breakfast of tropical fruit, stuffed yuca fritters, and arepas served in the palm-filled courtyard.
CHARLESTON SANTA TERESA CARTAGENA – While most hotels in the old town open onto narrow streets, the Charleston commands uninterrupted views over the 16th-century ramparts to the Caribbean Sea, with an open-air bar that spills out onto a large plaza. A new restaurant run by chef Harry Sasson, owner of Bogota’s Club Colombia and Harry’s Bar, opened in November and has already become a local hot spot.
SOFITEL LEGEND SANTA CLARA – The restored Santa Clara is carved from the shell of a 17th-century convent in the quiet neighborhood of San Diego. You’ll still find a chapel nave and confessional windows, along with an elaborate wrought-iron entrance gate and a crypt inside the perennially packed bar. Upstairs, there’s an easy tropical feel in both the suites of the Colonial wing and the 106 minimalist rooms in the contemporary wing.
CASA SAN AGUSTIN – Hidden among the houses of the old town, the 30-room Casa San Agustin was created by merging three smaller properties. An L-shaped pool passes pleasingly through the cutout wall of a former aqueduct, and rooms are tucked into a maze of alcoves, turrets, and mezzanines. Each is furnished with tables made of Congolese wenge wood and has a bathroom with intricate Mexican tiling. Room to book: 102, with a private plunge pool.
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