World Traveller February 2019

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Beauty and

the beach

in timewarp



Is the Great Barrier Reef

still all that? We take

the plunge to find out

Joy glide

On a slow boat down

the mighty Mekong

Produced in Dubai Production City

Are we there yet?

All your questions answered as we

foolproof your next family adventure

Welcome note

People who've been bitten by the travel bug often describe

it as a bit like falling in love. And with holidays inspiring us to

live for the moment, be more adventurous, and discover new

passions, it's easy to understand why.




Managing Director

Victoria Thatcher

Editorial Director

John Thatcher

General Manager

David Wade

Managing Editor

Faye Bartle


With Valentine's Day putting a big red heart

in the middle of the month, we've rounded up

a selection of romantic escapes (page 17) to

whisk your loved one away on, while many of our

featured staycations (page 66) highlight special

experiences for couples.

Whether you're travelling à deux, flying solo or

have the whole family in tow, you'll find plenty of

inspiration inside these pages. With half term here

and summer on the horizon, we're honing in on the

latter with our 10-page cover feature (page 24)

guiding you towards the perfect family holiday. So

if it's a European city break without the crowds, an

educational journey or a magical Disney escape

that gets the thumbs up, at least you won't be

short of ideas.

We've also got a heads-up on four places that

are trending right now (page 8), while we break

down the best way to spend a long weekend in

Lisbon on page 60.


In Finland there are

more saunas than there

are cars. Indeed, Finns

consider saunas a

weekly necessity, p10


Known as the

Portuguese blues, fado

originated in the streets

of Alfama in the 19th

century, and you can still

enjoy it today, p60


The Great Barrier Reef is

the world’s largest living

organism, visible from

space, p44

Content Writer

Habiba Azab

Art Director

Kerri Bennett

Senior Designer

Hiral Kapadia

Senior Advertising Manager

Mia Cachero


Production Manager

Muthu Kumar

Happy travels,

Faye Bartle


Find out how you can

win a three-night stay

at Avani+ Samui in

Thailand on p79


Crete was home to

Europe’s first literate

civilisation, the Bronze

Age Minoans, and today

is scattered with their

crumbling legacy, p50


Even Michelin-stared

maestro Alain Ducasse

feels lost in translation

sometimes. He tells us

how his work feeds his

travel experiences

on p18


Photography credits:

Getty Images and Phocal Media

Reproduction in whole or in part

without written permission from

HOT Media Publishing is strictly

prohibited. All prices mentioned

are correct at time of press

but may change. HOT Media

Publishing does not accept

liability for omissions or errors in

World Traveller.

Tel: 00971 4 364 2876

Fax: 00971 4 369 7494


Getty Images

Find us at…

ONLINE worldtravellermagazine.com

FACEBOOK @worldtravellermagazine

INSTAGRAM @dnataworldtraveller

TWITTER @WT_Magazine

worldtravellermagazine.com 3

Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa


February 2019




8 13 20 24 80



This month's go-to

places include the

seaside city of Helsinki

and, closer to home,

captivating Jordan


New openings; Alain

Ducasse talks global

tastes; and why you

should make a Pointe

of visiting Palm

Jumeirah's new hotspot


Passport? check; tickets?

check; travel insurance?

Um... It's often

overlooked, but is travel

insurance essential? We

ask the experts


The planning of your

family holiday starts

now: we serve up

options aplenty, from

once-in-a-lifetime trips

to magic moments


It's home to what is the

most Instagrammed

restaurant in London,

but we have another

very good reason to

book The Bloomsbury

worldtravellermagazine.com 5



38 44


Andrew Eames boards It's the largest living

a slow boat down the thing on Earth and

Mekong to visit Luang visible from space, but

Prabang, the old royal does the Great Barrier

capital of Laos

Reef amaze up close?



A family reunion in offthe-beaten-track


sees Dana Facaros find

peace in a place that

time forgot












58 60



Dubai's ever-changing Join us on a whirlwind

hub of creativity

tour of Portugal's

continues to thrive coastal capital



Already in need of a

break? We have four

more good reasons to

book a weekend escape



It's time we sent you

packing. Choose your

next adventure from

our exclusive offers

6 worldtravellermagazine.com





Emily Williams, dnata Travel’s resident globetrotter,

reveals the places that are trending this month


A city with a lot of buzz about it right now, in Copenhagen you can experience tasty Danish street food (including

the popular open sandwich or ‘smørrebrød’), get an up-close look at famous Danish designs, and learn about one

of the oldest monarchies in the world. The evenings can get pretty cold at this time of year, giving you the perfect

excuse to try out CopenHot, a waterfront sauna with great city views.

HIGHLIGHTS 1 Dine at the new Noma (named the World's Best Restaurant four times over), which now has an urban farm and

follows a three-season kitchen. 2 Head to Tivoli Gardens, where the snow falls through February, transforming it into a winter wonderland.

3 Stay warm by ducking into Kunsthal Charlottenborg, one of Northern Europe's largest exhibition spaces for contemporary art.

8 worldtravellermagazine.com



Don’t miss the chance to experience Goa, India’s popular beach destination, during its peak season, which typically

runs from November to February. From relaxing yoga retreats to beach shacks serving the freshest seafood, it has a

truly laid-back vibe, yet you’ll also find some of the best of India’s nightlife. Visit Anjuna Market for some excellent

thrift shopping and hike through the jungle to marvel at Goa’s tallest waterfall, Dudhsagar Falls.

HIGHLIGHTS 1 Head to Palolem Beach to dance the night away at a silent disco.

2 Get your flippers on and check out the best scuba diving spots, such as Grande Island. 3 Snap some pics of the

heart-shaped lake, a natural phenomenon, at Bogmalo.

worldtravellermagazine.com 9


Did you know that in Finland there are more saunas than there are cars? Indeed, Finns consider saunas a weekly

necessity and you'll find them everywhere. For excellent views 0f this pocket-sized city and a glimpse of its past,

take a boat to the UNESCO-listed Suomenlinna – an 18th-century sea fortress and nature spot spread across six

linked islands. What’s more, Fly Dubai now offers direct flights to Helsinki from the UAE.

HIGHLIGHTS 1 Strap on your skis as there are almost 200km of well-kept trails around the capital. You can rent your kit from Paloheinä

Recreational Center. 2 Embrace the slow food movement by dining on vegan, locally-sourced food – LOOP and Nolla are both excellent.

3 Explore the two large national parks of Sipoonkorpi and Nuuksio, both a short bus-journey away from the city centre.

10 worldtravellermagazine.com



Embrace the glorious weather we’re experiencing in the Middle East by staying closer to home. In Jordan, you can

discover the impressive sights of the ancient city of Petra and the protected desert wilderness of Wadi Rum. Here,

the Full of Stars luxury camping experience sets you up in a ‘bubble’ tent for the chance to observe the clearest desert

night sky. With its red sands and mountainous landscape, it’s probably the closest you can get to camping on Mars.

HIGHLIGHTS 1 Tuck into a traditional meal prepared by local chefs at Petra Kitchen within Wadi Musa. 2 Take a hike to the shrine

of the prophet Aaron. Situated 1,350m above sea level, it’s the highest point in Petra. 3 Follow in the footsteps of Cleopatra and

experience the mineral-rich mud of the Dead Sea from Amman Touristic Beach.

worldtravellermagazine.com 11


Relax and unwind as you breathe in the mystical charm of the Rub’ Al Khali.

Discover unparalleled desert luxury and cultural passion just 90 minutes

from Abu Dhabi. Trek the footsteps of the Bedouin and create a thousand

timeless moments in a luxury desert oasis.

To book your stay, call +971 (0) 2 895 8700 or

email crome@anantara.com

LIFE IS A JOURNEY. Visit anantara.com





Be informed, be inspired, be there


From its zero-waste food, which

draws on hydroponic fruit and

vegetables from the on-site farm,

to its interiors that showcase the

work of local artisans, SALT of

Palmar offers you a window to

unvarnished, vibrant Mauritius.

The 59-key resort, on the east

coast of the island, is the debut

opening for the newly launched

hotel brand SALT. The riadlike

building, on the fringe of

Palmar beach, has been carefully

repurposed in a collaboration

between local Mauritian architect

Jean-François Adam and French

artist Camille Walala, to bring the

natural environment to the fore

and allow the location's natural

colours to shine.

World Traveller 13


Four Seasons Astir Palace Hotel Athens


Get there before the rest

1 2 3


Four Seasons Astir Palace

Hotel Athens

Now taking reservations

for arrivals beginning 29

March, 2019, this glamorous

property on the Athenian

Riviera – just 30 minutes from

both the Acropolis and the

airport – is your ticket to the

perfect Greek beach holiday

with no less than three

private beaches, three pools,

and eight dining spots.



You can watch the boats

bobbing in the water at this

recently-opened waterfront

hotel in the downtown

district of Al Bateen Marina.

With guestrooms and

serviced residences, it's

good for longer stays, with

three signature restaurants

including Market by Tom

Aikens, two swimming pools

and a luxurious spa.


Anantara Quy Nhon Villas

Journey to this untouched

destination to see the raw

beauty of the Vietnamese

coastline. This beachfront

hideaway, set amid tropical

gardens, has just 26 private

pool villas (each serviced

by a dedicated host), with

castaway style dining

experiences, a secluded

Anantara spa and tours by

local guides.

Well and good

Combine a love for

travel with giving your

wellbeing a boost with

these fun spa pursuits

on our radar… At Cheval

Blanc Courchevel

(pictured), you can ski

down to the Russian

Banya at the foot of the

slopes for a traditional

Northern latitudes style

spa experience. The

dry-heat sauna reaches

temperatures of 90˚C,

so you can sweat it out

before braving a backto-basics

toning session

by rolling around in the

soft snow.

Turn the weather on

its head by jetting to

the Dominican Republic

to stay at the newlyopened


Resorts & Spa in Punta

Cana where you can

have a massage on

the beach and relax in

a Turkish bath. Body

treatments and facials

will keep you looking

and feeling your best.


Did you know that the Google Translate app

now recognises 13 new languages through

your smartphone's camera, including support for

Nepali, Thai, and Vietnamese? Simply snap a picture

and the app will figure it out for you by processing

any translatable text.

14 World Traveller





Standing tall in the heart of

Dubai Marina, featuring

incomparable panoramic views

of the city, combine the best

of all worlds with luxurious

accommodation, three

contemporary dining

destinations and a blissful

caravanserai-inspired, Saray Spa.





Dubai Marriott Harbour Hotel & Suites





Want to whisk your sweetheart

away? Get set to fall in love

with these heart melting



You can’t go wrong with

the Maldives’ mix of powder

soft sand, sparkling sea and

swaying coconut trees. Revel

in the air of exclusivity at

Velaa Private Island, which

is designed to let its exotic

setting shine. We rate the

Romantic Pool Residence

(pictured) – an ultra-private

one-bedroom villa with a

Jacuzzi, gazebo on the jetty

(for dining à deux) and a

private spa treatment room.

It's only accessible by boat.

Alternatively, the adultsonly,

all-inclusive Hurawalhi

Island Resort provides the

perfect excuse to focus on

the two of you. Dine at the

world’s largest undersea

restaurant and book a

professional photo session for

a lasting memory of your trip.

Grand View Junior Suite, Palazzo Manfredi


If a European city break

is more your style, jet off

to Rome where Palazzo

Manfredi delivers views of the

Colosseum and Ludus Magnus

(the gymnasium once used

by Roman gladiators) from a

selection of its suites, including

its three new Grand View

Junior Suites. This 17th century

palace also boasts a Michelin

stared restaurant, Aroma.

Alternatively, brush up on

your French in the City of

Love with a stay at Mandarin

Oriental Paris. Be inspired by

sweeping views of the city –

Eiffel Tower included – from

the Panoramic Suite.

worldtravellermagazine.com 17





The celebrated chef oversees

more than 30 restaurants

around the globe, including

his latest venue, miX by Alain

Ducasse, in Dubai. He shares

how his work feeds his travel

experiences and vice versa

Travelling nourishes me both

spiritually and creatively, and allows

me to gain a better understanding of

different cuisines. And while it would

not be my philosophy to try to move

towards something like sushi and

sashimi, as we could never achieve

exactly what is served in Japan, I

appreciate the aesthetical aspect and

elegant presentation of this type of

food, and elements could be integrated

in how we perceive a dish.

The first time I went

to Japan I didn't

understand the place.

Everything puzzled

me and I was lost in

translation. At the

same time, I grew

fascinated with

the country, which

is why I keep on

going back.

We have an

outpost of Rech in

Hong Kong so I have

spent quite a bit of time

there too. The place has a great

dynamic – especially in terms of its food

scene – and it’s a place that I would like

to explore more. Around 15 years ago,

there were only five to 10 well-known

chefs there, whereas now there are

dozens of internationally renowned

chefs to discover.

Lima is also a very interesting place

to me, as local chefs are rediscovering

the richness of ingredients sourced

from the land and sea, which so far has

been underexploited.

I grew up on a farm in the Landes

region in southwestern France. It’s

not far from wild mountains and the

Atlantic Ocean, so it has a wealth of

produce. Local people came to

us to buy everything from

vegetables to poultry,

geese, duck and

rabbit, and we

created meals

for the local


I’ve been

interested in the

flavours of the

Middle East for a

long time and this

has definitely been

an influence in terms

of the food you will taste

at miX in Dubai. Indeed, it is a

major food trend in general.

miX by Alain Ducasse at Emerald Palace

Kempinski Dubai is the chef’s first

restaurant in the UAE and the largest in

his restaurant group. kempinski.com



Leading a vegan lifestyle

just got even easier thanks

to Hilton Bankside’s Vegan

Suite, which invites guests

to veg out in its Vegan

Society approved

room, which is

almost entirely

plant-based, from

the furniture to

the bedding and, of

course, the snacks.

If you're a fan of Le Gray

in Beirut, you'll be pleased

to know that Campbell Gray

Hotels has opened its first

property in the GCC, The

Merchant House,

Manama, Bahrain.

Located alongside

the vibrant Bab

el-Bahrain Souk,

it's ideally placed

Belmond Le Manoir aux


for you to immerse

yourself in local

Bahraini life, and to get a real

feel for the culture.

Paying homage to past

patron and pop icon

David Bowie, the

new Ziggy's Bar at

Hotel Café Royal

in London, serves

drinks inspired by

his life and music

against a backdrop

of curated photography.

Bowie held the retirement party

for his alter ego Ziggy Stardust

at Café Royal in the 1970s.

As part of the Kingdom’s

2030 Vision, Saudi Arabia

has launched a new

west coast resort

destination, The

Red Sea Project,

which will team

natural islands

and coastline with

dormant volcanos,

a nature reserve and

nearby ancient ruins.

18 worldtravellermagazine.com




Dubai's latest dining destination, The Pointe on Palm Jumeirah, beckons hungry

holidaymakers with its cool line-up of eateries and stunning view of Atlantis, The Palm


This European-inspired bistro touts an

à la carte menu featuring the likes of

steak tartare, bouillabaisse, grilled

entrecôte and confit duck

leg. It's good for lunch or

dinner, but the venue

really comes into its

own at dusk.

Why we rate it: The

outdoor terrace is

a romantic setting,

with its flame

heaters creating

a cosy ambience

and tables directly

overlooking the water.

This image: The view from

Chicago Meatpackers

Inset: Chicken roulade

at Fitzroy


Serving up beautifully presented

food and Balearic Island vibes, this

market-style concept treats seafood

fans to delicate dishes such as snapper

ceviche, as well as crowd-pleasing

platters of clams, mussels, soft-shell

crab, prawns and chargrilled, locallysourced


Why we rate it: Downstairs is familyfriendly

while upstairs has a more

glamorous, lounge style ambience, with

ladies’ nights taking place on Thursdays.


Think you know authentic Greek food?

We recommend you sit down to a meal

at Ena before you answer that question.

It's the brainchild of owner Lena P,

Maniatis, whose vision for back to

basics Greek food is brought to life by

chef Alexandros Pavlopoulos Sperxos –

all with a modern twist.

Why we rate it: Most of the ingredients

are sourced from small farms in Greece

– the feta from Kalavrita features in a

number of must-try dishes.


This family-friendly deli brings

European café culture to life, with a

delicious selection of dishes to suit

all ages.

Why we rate it: The portions are large

and each dish has an interesting stamp,

like the chicken waffle cones stuffed

with cheesy chicken popcorn.


This Mexican eatery is a party for the

taste buds. Try the classic ceviche

followed by the tacos short ribs and

nachos festin marino (nachos with

prawns, squid, mussels, guacamole and

sea sauce).

Why we rate it: The combination of the

vibrant food, décor and entertainment

makes eating here far from boring.

This image: Sushi crêpe

at Amira's Deli

worldtravellermagazine.com 19


The Knowledge


Get to grips with travel insurance

Peace of mind is worth its weight in gold. Claire Ryan, head of travel and personal insurance

at AIG UAE and AIG MEA Limited, answers common questions about travel insurance

What are the main benefits

I should expect from a travel

insurance policy?

Depending on the level of

coverage you choose, it may

offer you protection in case of

travel inconvenience, such as trip

cancellation, flight delay or lost

luggage. More importantly, you may

choose a plan covering emergency

medical expenses, which can be very

expensive in most situations.

Taking out travel insurance is

like getting international health

insurance too, right?

Travel insurance covers you against

emergency medical expenses,

which means surgical and hospital

treatment if you become ill or injured

during your trip. However, medical

treatment required due to a preexisting

medical condition that you

knew about at the time of taking out

your insurance would, in most cases,

not be covered.

If I buy my holiday on my

credit card, I’m offered some

protection. Do I need an extra

policy on top?

Credit card insurance coverage

is generally limited, and all travel

bookings must be completely

purchased using the respective card.

You must check your policy schedule

from the issuing bank to understand

if all your needs are covered. In most

cases, the limits are quite low so, for

example, travelling to the US where

medical costs are very expensive

would most likely require you to

purchase a more comprehensive

travel insurance plan.

How can I ensure the

cancellation policy covers all?

The travel insurance cancellation

policy will not cover you for all reasons.

It will cover you for the travel and

accommodation costs, transfers,

excursions and, in some cases, even the

visa costs, but only if the cancellation

is unavoidable and due to a set list of

reasons, such as an illness that prevents

you from travelling, or the death of a

relative. What it won't cover you for, in

most cases, is you choosing not to travel.

I need coverage for my entire

family, from our baby to our

elderly grandparents who are

joining us on our trip. Can I cover

everyone with one policy?

The family travel insurance policy

usually covers husband, wife and

children. However, you may opt for a

group travel insurance where you can

add as many additional persons as

required, including extended family and

friends. You need to also check the age

limitations, as in some travel insurance

policies, the elderly have different rates

or benefit limitations.

I travel a lot. Is it worth getting a

multi-trip policy even if I’m yet to

book all my trips for the year?

Absolutely. An annual multi-trip

insurance will work out more cost

effective if you’re a frequent traveller.

Additionally, people tend to book their

travel insurance after they’ve bought

their flights and accommodation.

But if you have a yearly policy, for

example, the trip cancellation benefit is

on-going and you are covered from the

moment you book even the first sector

of your flight.

dnata Travel partners with AIG to

provide travel insurance. To find out

more, email holidays@dnatatravel.com

20 worldtravellermagazine.com

Discover a Revolutionary Beauty Line!

Renew for the journey ahead.

We have something new and exciting for you.

Behold the mind-blowing, anti-aging and hydrating facial treatments by an innovative

Korean product line, which uses Diamonds. Yes, you read that right! Diamonds are

known for their ability to deliver ingredients to the deepest layers of your skin.

Want to know the best part? You get to go home with your own box of exquisite

products after each treatment.

For more information or to make a booking please call +971 4 414 6754.

JW Marriott Marquis Dubai | Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE

mhrs.dxbjw.spa@marriott.com | jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com


5 reasons families

will love Jumeirah

Mina A’Salam

General manager Azar Saliba

shines a light on the familyfriendly

allure of this established

hotel at the heart of Madinat

Jumeirah in Dubai

There’s room for everyone

1 We have 128 sets of interconnecting rooms

at the hotel, giving families plenty of space

to spread out in and stay connected. All of

our rooms and suites can fit up to two adults

and two children, but if your kids are aged

12 or over then we recommend you opt for

interconnecting rooms so you all get a great

night’s sleep.

You’ll never be bored

2 With more than 30 rides and slides to

thrill you, from the relaxing lazy river to

the terrifying Jumeirah Sceirah (which

propels you to speeds of 80 km/h), Wild Wadi

Waterpark* has enough to keep you amused

for hours on end – and all guests staying at

Jumeirah Mina A’Salam receive complimentary

access for the duration of their stay. It’s a

fantastic benefit of staying with us.

When you’re done splashing around, you

can explore our beautiful private beach and

take part in the many watersports available,

from kayaking to stand-up paddleboarding.

In addition, Sinbad’s Kids Club is a dream

world for children with a climbing wall, play

areas and pools, as well as activities such as

face painting and crafts. It’s open daily from


Dining here is fun

3 In Arabic, Madinat means city – and

staying here is like being in a city within

a city. In this respect we are very lucky as

guests have access to over 40 different

restaurants, bars and cafés, serving

everything from Greek and Chinese to

Mexican. As well as being able to choose

from all different types of cuisines, parents

can relax in the knowledge that there’s

a dedicated children’s menu available at

Royal Heart Suite Reef, master in the Great bedroom Barrier Reef

22 worldtravellermagazine.com


Wild Wadi Waterpark

*Opening 8 February.

all venues throughout the resort. Plus, if

your child has a food allergy or sensitivity,

having around 150 chefs working here

gives the luxury of being able to make you

anything you want. If they need a little extra

entertainment, iPads and colouring books

are available at all our dining spots.

Your days doesn't have to end once

the little ones are in bed. Our in-house

babysitting service (bookable upon

request) means you can head out for a

romantic supper while your children

are well looked after by our trained

childcare professionals.

You don’t have to sweat

4 the small stuff

We know that travelling with small children

can be a challenge and parents are often

worried about forgetting an essential item,

such as the bottle steriliser, or whether

they’ve packed enough diapers. It’s extremely

common to be caught short on holiday, but

we can get hold of pretty much anything

you need, from putting a steriliser in the

room, to delivering a fresh supply of nappies,

and whipping up some puréed fruits and

vegetables in the kitchen for younger babies

who are weaning.

The view from the pool is hard to beat

There's lots for little travellers

5 to discover

Staying with us can be educational, too. With

its Arabian-style architecture, the resort is

sure to spark your child's imagination. You

can immerse them in old world Arabia with

a trip to Souk Madinat Jumeirah where they

can browse the stands, barrows and stalls

offering a mix of mementoes and choose a

keepsake to take home. Plus, you can fuel a

budding passion for the arts by catching a

show at Madinat Theatre.

To find out more, call +971 4 366 8888

or visit jumeirah.com


Don’t miss these memory

makers at Mina A'Salam…

Sit down to brunch. Our

Friday brunch provides

three-and-a-half hours

of delicious food and top

entertainment at Hanaaya

and Tortuga. Those under 12

years old go free.

Feed the turtles. The turtle

lagoon at neighbouring

Jumeirah Al Naseem is

where sick and injured sea

turtles are nursed back to

health. Learn more about it

at the feeding sessions on

Wednesdays at 11am.

Ride an abra. See the resort

from the water by taking

an abra tour of the Madinat

Jumeirah waterways.

Tune ceviche, Tortuga

worldtravellermagazine.com 23

The Family


Half term's here and (whisper it quietly)

summer's on the horizon. If you've yet to book your

next trip, we’re here to help. So whether you seek the

adventure of a lifetime or somewhere simply perfect

for a staycation, we have all the answers

24 worldtravellermagazine.com


worldtravellermagazine.com 25


My family and I love wildlife and an African safari has always been

on my bucket list. However, I’ve always thought of it as an adult-only

adventure. Are there any safari lodges that cater to young kids?

Lewa House, Kenya

Lewa House is a family home, and

you’ll feel that by staying in one of

its beautiful thatched-roof family

cottages. There’s also plenty to

occupy aside from game drives, like

freshwater crab hunts and visits to a

maasai village.

Samara Private Game Reserve,

South Africa

Children of all ages are warmly

welcomed here and are exceptionally

well-catered to. Tailored for under 12s,

the Samara Kids' Programme features

'outdoor classroom' bush excursions,

indigenous rock painting and storytelling

by the fire.

Singita Ebony Lodge,

South Africa

Singita Ebony Lodge is a jawdroppingly

beautiful colonial style

lodge that leaves no stone unturned

when it comes to spoiling families.

Custom activities for young guests

include astronomy, animal tracking

and mountain biking, while Singita’s

socially responsible ethos will keep

them grounded with a visit to the

Justicia community village.

My kids are pre-school age. Which European cities are best

enjoyed out of school holidays to avoid the crowds?



Summer in Venice can be downright

unpleasant but the first half of May

has fewer tourists and less traffic on the

canals. After a wallet-emptying gondola

ride, climb to the balcony of St Mark's

Basilica, then let ’em loose to chase

pigeons in the piazza below.


Cruise ships descend on Dubrovnik

in peak season, which peters off

around the end of September. Beat

the crowds by checking the cruise ship

arrival schedule (portdubrovnik.hr) and

explore the walled city by entering via

the Ulica Svetog Dominika gate.



February is chilly, but the Santa

Eulàlia festival in Barcelona is

terrific for mini travellers, with street

parades featuring fantasy characters

like gegants (the giants), and toddlerfriendly

fun aplenty, from human-tower

building through to puppetry.

26 worldtravellermagazine.com

Opposite: Singita

Ebony Lodge

This page: Rome's


My kids are in secondary school and I’d like to

take them somewhere that proves educational.

Which destinations do you suggest?

Snowmobiling, glacier hiking,

volcanoes – Iceland has all

the big-ticket adventures

for outdoorsy teens and

they’ll learn a thing or two

about the might of Mother

Nature, in particular, Iceland’s

geothermal energy (fun fact:

it actually powers the city

of Reykjavik). There’s the

monumental landscapes,

steaming geysers and

thundering waterfalls of the

Golden Circle, and Krísuvík’s

famous Blue Lagoon, but

elsewhere, Hveragerði’s

geothermal park is a hoot.

They’ll never forget bathing in

natural outdoor hot springs.

Pizza and gelato aside,

Italy overflows with culture,

especially in Rome, but

immersing the kids in history

doesn’t have to be dull.

Brandishing swords and

shields, and donning helmets

and armour, the two-hour

Roman Gladiator School

sessions run by Gruppo

Storico Romano are wildly

fun (even for the grumpiest of

teens) and include a guided

tour of the Colosseum arena

and Museum of Gladiators.

Mexico is another enriching

destination to expand young

minds. Touch down in Mexico

City to take in museums, eat

tostadas and watch a Lucha

Libre wrestling match. On

your way to the Caribbean

shores of the Yucatan

Peninsula, stop at Palenque.

Staying in the jungle and

exploring ancient Mayan

temples by day, listening to

howler monkeys call from the

treetops at night – you’ll need

to bribe your kids to leave.

worldtravellermagazine.com 27


We always head to our home country for the

summer holidays but this year we want a big

family adventure. What do you recommend?

Opposite: Walt

Disney World Resort

This page, from top:

Joshua Tree National Park,

California; Wild Wadi




Pacific Coast Highway 1 is the stuff

of legend for a reason. With rugged

beaches, frolicking sea lions, epic

views and equally epic sights (like

the iconic Bixby Bridge), driving the

Pacific coastline – the kids blasting

the stereo and singing at the top of

their lungs – will be a road-trip your

kids will talk about for years to come,

particularly if you've driven it in a

classic Airstream.



With 330 islands, crazy-clear water and

unspoilt white-sand beaches, not to

mention wonderful resorts with awardwinning

kids’ clubs, Fiji is outstanding

for island-hopping and there’s an added

bonus: Fijians are among the friendliest

people on earth. In between swimming

and gallivanting on beaches searching

for starfish, your babes will become

best friends with local kids before you

have the chance to say “Bula”.



Kids will go mad for the floating

playgrounds operated by Royal

Caribbean, Carnival and Disney, with

ginormous slides, ice skating rinks

and fun-filled youth programmes

aplenty, but for something more

intrepid, try a Lindblad Expedition.

In partnership with National

Geographic, these expedition-style

voyages venture to wild destinations

like the Galápagos islands or Alaska,

with kids’ programmes overseen by

certified educators and naturalists.

I fancy a family staycation for half term but want a room that

also offers privacy for my husband and I. Where should I book?

Recently reopened after a substantial

refurbishment, Jumeirah Beach Hotel's

polished rooms can accommodate two

adults and two children aged under

12 in one king size and one twin bed

respectively. But if it's privacy you seek

then each of the 'Ocean' rooms can

be booked with an interconnecting

room next door. With complimentary

access to Wild Wadi for the duration

of your stay thrown in, chances are you

won't be seeing much of your children,

regardless. At JW Marriott Marquis

Hotel Dubai – the world's tallest fivestar

hotel, an accolade your kids will

love – two Deluxe rooms can be booked

to interconnect, or one attached to a

more spacious suite. Staying next to

Ski Dubai is also likely to rack up the

brownie points, and Kempinski Hotel

Mall of the Emirates offers two Deluxe

room types that can interconnect.

28 worldtravellermagazine.com



Meeting Mickey and Co at

Walt Disney World Resort

With four theme parks and two water parks, the wishlist

topping Walt Disney World Resort is purpose built

for enrapturing children. No matter their age, the

wonderful world of Disney has undoubtedly waved

its magical wand over your kids at some point,

and there's plenty of reasons to plan a trip this

year – not least for the hotly anticipated late 2019

opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. Meanwhile,

the outstanding Four Seasons Resort Orlando

at Walt Disney World Resort is ready to roll

out its magic carpet for guests from May

through September. As part

of special packages timed

to coincide with the cinema

release of the live-action

Aladdin, the resort will also

offer Arabia-inspired drinks,

dishes and spa treatments.

Better still, its spectacular

Royal Suite can be expanded

to fit nine bedrooms, so no

family member misses out.

worldtravellermagazine.com 29


My kids have (very)

healthy appetites and

I’m worried about

running up a huge hotel

bill. Where are some allinclusive


Top billing here would have to go to

the wonderful Furaveri Island Resort

& Spa in the Maldives. Food and drink

prices in the Maldives can test any

budget, which is what makes Furaveri's

all-inclusive option so attractive if you're

travelling here with kids. All meals and

non-alcoholic drinks (as well as selected

alcoholic) are offered, with the choice of

cuisines equally generous – everything

from Italian through to Thai. A trip to

Dubai's two-hotel JA The Resort may

take you no time at all, but its secluded

spot by the sea makes it feel every bit

like a mini holiday. Book a minimum

three-night stay and you can go allinclusive,

which covers the day's three

main meals as well as snacks and drinks

(alcoholic and non-alcoholic). What's

more, kids aged under 12 are free.

I like the idea of our family

travelling by train (it sounds

less stressful than a road

trip). What are some of the

best railway journeys?

If your kids are spellbound by all things Harry

Potter, you'll earn a bucket-load of brownie

points by boarding The Jacobite, a steam

train which operates across Scotland's scenic

Highlands. That's because the Jacobite is best

known as the Hogwarts Express, the role it

played in the film series.

An adventure of a different kind can be

had onboard the day-train Belmond Hiram

Bingham, which snakes its way up Peru's

Machu Picchu. Catering well to families, there's

live music in the observation car and the threecourse

menu you'll enjoy can be adapted to

please any fussy little eater. Once at Machu

Picchu, a private guide will whisk you to

the best spots of the Citadel for a truly

memorable experience.

30 worldtravellermagazine.com


from top to

bottom: Furaveri Island

Resort & Spa; eyes on

the countryside during a

train journey

This page: Liwa Oasis


Seeing natural wonders

It’s not just parents who need a break. Kids too,

can get overloaded with the excessive 'noise' from

modern life, whether it’s pressure from exams

or overexposure to technology, which is why

whisking them away to nature is always a good

idea. But why not take it even further, and take

them to see one of the world’s big-ticket natural

wonders? Whether it’s watching the sun rise over

enormous dunes in the Liwa Oasis, listening to

their voices echo across the Grand Canyon, or

feeling the spray from Niagara Falls on their skin,

witnessing such tremendous natural beauty up

close will thrill them in a way an iPad never will.

worldtravellermagazine.com 31


As a family I’d like to

make our travels more

meaningful. In what

ways can we give back

on our travels?

Eat at local restaurants

Dining at a local eatery is a win-win: it

helps to support community business

and it gives children an insight into a

destination’s culture and traditions. They

won’t get a plastic toy with their meal,

but they probably won’t ever forget that

time they ate rice with their hands!

Purchase souvenirs from artists at

local markets

Market hauls may never replace the

Lego, but buying that handmade

ukulele, the beaded necklace threaded

by a local tribeswoman, or the animal

shaped from discarded flip-flops found

on the beach not only helps support

artisans whose livelihoods depend on

tourism, it will create a lasting memory

of the trip to take home.

Hire a local tour guide

Whether it’s tracking down the best

gelateria or the nearest bathroom, a

guide’s expertise and knowledge can

prove invaluable. The job supports them

financially, though many are just as

interested in learning about your family

and your culture – so say yes if they

invite you over to meet their family.

My kids like nothing more than a hotel kids’ club, but which ones

go above and beyond to really engage them?

Famous for golf it may be, but

Scotland's Gleneagles is swiftly making

a name for itself as an idyllic family

retreat. Dating to 1924, this historic hotel

is forward thinking when it comes to

planning kids' activities. Working on

the premise that 'whatever an adult can

do, a child can do too', kids can drive

a mini Land Rover, train a gundog, try

their hand at fishing and falconry or

even own a pony for a day (just hope

that all that mucking out will put them

off making the deal permanent). The

great outdoors also provides a fitting

playground at Constance Ephelia in

Seychelles, where budding Tarzans can

swing from tree to tree on a zip line.

Culinary skills can also be sharpened

through cooking classes, alongside a

programme of other fun workshops.

That's also very much the case at

LUX* Belle Mare in Mauritius, home

to an outdoor culinary school, tennis

coaching, adventure trips around the

island and local language and dance

classes. In the unlikely event of having

time to fill, the resort's unique cakedecorating

bar summons sticky fingers.

Words by Michelle Wranik-Hicks

32 worldtravellermagazine.com

Opposite, from top to

bottom: shopping for

souvenirs at a local market;

flying on the zip-line at

Constance Ephelia

This page: Kakslauttanen

Arctic Resort


Stepping into snow in Lapland

The magical Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi, Finland (near the Arctic Circle),

is like stepping into the pages of a storybook. Besides meeting the big man

himself, your wide-eyed kids can attend elf school or visit the post office where

elves sift through a reported half a million letters sent to Santa each year. If

you’re lucky, your family might even get the chance to witness the spectacular

light show (perhaps through the roof of a glass igloo), the Aurora Borealis, the

natural phenomenon colouring the sky approximately 200 nights a year. Add

to that reindeer sleigh rides, a snowmobiling adventure, and meeting adorable

Siberian huskies, and you can safely notch it up as one of those extraordinary

once-in-a-lifetime experiences they’ll probably tell their grandkids about one day.

worldtravellermagazine.com 33


Follow your heart

Whether you want to make a grand gesture or keep

things low key, there are plenty of ways to ramp up

the romance at Anantara The Palm Dubai Resort

Sample the outback

inspired menu at Bushman’s

The most romantic time of the year,

Valentine’s Day (on 14 February) provides all

the motivation you need to treat the object

of your affection to something extra special. And

if you’re in the mood to pull out all the stops, how

does a sun-drenched holiday sound? Crafted by

Anantara’s biggest softies, this vacation package

will send you off on a storybook style adventure,

starting with a two-night stay in a Pool Beach

Villa, with 100 red roses delivered to your door and

an evening onboard a private luxury yacht with a

chef, sommelier and waiter on hand to serve you

a five-course dinner of caviar, sushi and seafood

paired with your favourite drink. Each morning

you’ll wake up to a bubbly breakfast and, on the

last day, you’ll be whisked away to the airport in

a limo to hop on an Emirates flight headed to the

Indian Ocean where you’ll spend a further two

nights at Anantara Kihavah Maldives in a Beach

Pool Villa soaking up the rays.

34 worldtravellermagazine.com

Be pampered in the hammam

If you prefer to dial it down a little,

foodies will find all they need to make

the heart sing at Anantara The Palm

Dubai Resort’s restaurants – each of

which is putting on a special spread.

For those craving privacy, the best

option is dining under the stars at a

table on the beach overlooking Palm

Jumeirah. The intimate Flavours of the

Ocean by Dining by Design experience

includes a five-course menu and is

limited to just eight couples.

If Asian food floats your love

boat head to Mekong, which will be

transformed into a flower-filled venue

complete with mood lighting. Or keep it

casual at Bushman’s where you can tuck

into a three-course outback inspired

menu of authentic Australian fare on

the outdoor billabong terrace.

If you’re loved one deserves some

expert pampering, Anantara Spa is

offering couples’ journeys that invite

you to unwind with a treatment by the

sea, sit down to lunch at The Beach

House and spend some quality time

together thanks to the all-day pass to

the resort’s sparkling pools and beach.

Unwind in a Pool Beach Villa

Dip a toe in the resort's sparkling pools

Kick-start the

detox process in

the hammam

To find out more, call +971 4 567 8999

or visit anantara.com

Kick-start the detox

process in the hammam

worldtravellermagazine.com 35

Discover the perfect blend of convenience,

stylish comfort for pleasure and business.

א אא אא אא

א אאא א

Email: info@2seasonshotels.com | Web: www.2seasonshotels.com

Tel: +971 4 399 6666 | Fax: +971 4 381 8067 | P.O.Box: 502222, Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai Internet City, UAE

א א

Unlimited Comfort


LAOS p38




Stories from journeys

far and wide

worldtravellermagazine.com 37


These pages: A fisherman

sets his traditional net

Luang Prabang, the old

royal capital of Laos, is

still easier to reach by

water than road. On

a slow boat down the

gilded Mekong, Andrew

Eames finds the

Southeast Asia of old

38 worldtravellermagazine.com


worldtravellermagazine.com 39


here was nothing to

set Boat Can Sway

apart when I first

glimpsed her that

morning, among the

river vessels jammed

in herringbone

formation against the

bank at Huay Xai on

the Lao-Thai border.

She was slender, just

35 metres long, and

locally crafted, like

the cluster around her, with rosewood

planking above water, steel hull below.

Just another boat on the mighty Mekong,

waiting to do business. The unique

appeal would be apparent once we were

on board, for our two-day voyage to

Luang Prabang: we had not one but three

captains, an embarrassment of comfy

chairs for the passenger count (18) and

the promise of a cosy halfway house: a

sedate river-view hotel for the night. (Our

boat was too bijou-boutique for cabins.)

We also had a chef, it became clear,

as we stole back from our mooring

and the smell of lunch wafted by. A

fishy appetiser — tender white tilapia,

steamed with dill — emerged from the

galley as we nosed out into the channel.

By the time I’d turned my attention to

the beef curry, lightly fragranced with

lime leaves, the sour taste of officialdom

I’d experienced early that morning was

disappearing as fast as the morning

thrum of Huay Xai town. But it had

sure been an inauspicious start...

The Mekong is the Amazon of

Southeast Asia, passing through six

countries en route to the sea, and the

stretch we were following forms part

of Laos’s international border — I’d

had to cross east from Thailand that

morning to catch the boat. Despite its

name, there had been nothing remotely

amiable about the Friendship Bridge:

the echoingly empty Lao immigration

counters were inch-deep in a confetti of

dead mayflies. Changing money at the

bank, I got $100 worth of Lao kip, yet

my paperwork stated I’d only changed

$90. When I pointed this out, the teller

just shrugged. Those $10 were his now.

Still, here I was, out on the sunlit

water, blending into the forgotten

world of one of Asia’s greatest rivers.

The day was sultry, but the boat’s

This page, clockwise

from above: A tuk

tuk speeds through

the streets of Luang

Prabang; woman

dressed in traditional

costume; coconut

pancakes on street stall

Credit: Andrew Eames/The Sunday Times Travel Magazine/News Licensing

40 worldtravellermagazine.com

movement brought a fresh breeze rifling

through the saloon. It was wonderful

being here: a plate of pineapple and

lychees appeared before me.

Between here and now and Luang

Prabang were two days of delicious

grazing as a tapestry of forest, fishing

villages and limestone mountains

unravelled slowly either side.

I had long dreamt of making this trip.

More than once, on previous holidays

in Thailand, I’d reached the banks of

the Mekong. But I had never crossed it.

Cruising has colonised its lower reaches,

hundreds of kilometres downriver from

Huay Xai, where it becomes sufficiently

wide for big, all-inclusive boats. But

they held little appeal for me: after years

seeing Thai sophistication, I wanted the

Southeast Asia I’d found so enthralling

in my backpacker days. Laos, I knew,

was a country still immersed in the old

ways. If I could tap into its river life,

perhaps I’d recapture fond memories

of Southeast Asia as it used to be.

This upper stretch of the Mekong is

still wild and unspoilt — too treacherous

for big cruisers. People will tell you

it is the best way to reach the former

royal capital of Laos, one of Asia’s most

enchanting backwaters. In fact, it is

one of the very few places in the world

more accessible by water than by road.

There could be no more authentic

way to arrive than aboard a typical

river boat, the very reason it exists.

On the Boat Can Sway, to be precise.

That wasn’t, I confess, the boat’s real

name. A notice up by the captain’s perch

in the bows warned that, because of

the rapids, the ‘boat can sway’, but the

first words were partially obscured.

Whatever, it sounded far sassier than

Pakou III, and more descriptive.

The water levels at this early stage in

the Mekong’s journey are as volatile as a

teenager. In the rainy season the silt-rich

floods rise to fertilise a broad hopscotch

of village vegetable patches, but then the

river skinnies down and rocks rear from

the water like scales on a dragon’s back.

That afternoon, standing on the front

deck, we could see this was going to be

an exhilarating ride. The teenage dragon

bared its teeth and started to seethe and







writhe. The danger was less the rocks

we could see, more those concealed just

below the surface. At times it was like

white-water rafting, and you knew things

were tricky when the captain’s brow

furrowed, the boat quivered, and he asked

everyone on the front deck to sit down.

We weren’t alone in riding the rapids.

Every now and then a highly painted

apparition, barely more than a surfboard,

came screeching by, noisy as a race

circuit, half a dozen passengers sitting

erect before a truck engine mounted

on the stern. They could get you to

Luang Prabang in six hours, explained

Sanh, our onboard guide. Attempt

that journey by road, and it would

take you 13. I settled back in Boat Can

Sway, more contented than ever.

In quieter moments we saw fishermen,

out on the water in slender canoes,

working and nets in the backwater

eddies of what is officially the largest

freshwater fishery in the world. Their

dream, said Sanh, was of catching a

Mekong catfish, at up to 300kg the largest

freshwater fish in existence, but rare.

How a fisherman could expect to land

something six times his bodyweight in a

dugout made for one, he never explained.

For us passengers, that first day passed

in a blur of eating, snoozing, waving at

the fishermen and village children, and

getting to know each other. It was a sort

of river-borne house party and I found

myself swapping stories with an English

couple, Simon and Angela, who’d come

all the way to Laos overland. It was an

adventure that had included a train

trip through Russia, where Angela

had slipped on ice and broken her

arm. Together, we chatted with a posh

British banker, on board with his Thai

wife and their striking children. She

lived in Bangkok, while he remained in

worldtravellermagazine.com 41


42 worldtravellermagazine.com


London, which sounded intriguing,

although I didn’t ask further. Fleeting

insights into other people’s lives are

most fascinating when you accept

you’ll never know the full story.

In turn, we passengers stirred interest

among the people of the riverbanks.

In its more indolent sections the flow

wound past sandy embankments

and bays, where swimming children

stopped to stare and wave. Mooring at

a beach, we spent an hour with a boy

desperate to show us how he trapped

crickets for the family’s dinner using

a long bamboo pole. I don’t think

we’d have met him if we’d been on a

five-star luxury river cruise, or a bus.

He even led us up the sandy

embankment to his hill-tribe village,

where every house was perched on

stilts above spare timbers stacked

underneath for when the family

needed to up sticks and relocate to

better land. Hydropower dams are

under construction along the Mekong,

and one is planned downriver of

that boy’s village, at a settlement

called Pak Beng, where we broke our

journey at the end of that first day.

The Luang Say lodge was a mahoganyrich

construction with a fabulous

view down over rushes whirring with

cicadas to the Mekong sliding by. It

was elegant, open to the evening airs

and the sounds of gibbons calling.

Simple in design, it was also vulnerable,

as we discovered after dark, when

a thunderstorm menacing the hills

decided to pounce, driving billowing

clouds of rain through the restaurant.

Next day dawned bright and clear,

the overnight storm having cleared

the haze created by the slash-and-burn

practice that dominates agriculture

here. Some 70% of the Lao landscape

is forest and mountains, and in

the sharp light the burnt hillsides

bristled like an elephant’s hide,

their receding shoulders purpled

as if they’d been in a fight, some

bruises still livid with flame.

After a breakfast of fried eggs and

mango sticky rice, the baritone of

Boat Can Sway’s engine summoned us

back to the water’s edge. This time the

river seemed more gentle, its teenage

convulsions less frequent, and the

captain relaxed sufficiently to allow the

Thai/English couple’s children to take

turns with the wheel. Much later that

day, as the sun was burnishing the river

bronze, we finally sighted Luang Prabang,

raised high on a finger-like peninsula

between the Mekong and its tributary

the Nam Khan. I stood transfixed by the

curved roofs of its many temples peeking

above the riverside acacias. Boat Can

Sway performed a final pirouette, fond

farewells were said, and we dispersed

into the next stage of our lives.

After tranquil time on a boat it felt

strange to be back among thronging

humankind; strange, too, to be decanted

into a place that felt so much like a

spiritual remnant of old Southeast

Asia, suspended in time. But I couldn’t

have been happier. It reminded me

of Thailand’s popular northern city,

Chiang Mai, when I first arrived

there some 40 years ago. Then, it was

a place of novice monks and young

travellers wide-eyed with wonder.

Laid out by French planners in the

late 19th century, when Laos was part

of French Indochina, Luang Prabang

displayed a fusion of styles. I wandered

thoroughfares lined with Chinese-style

shophouses and colonial villas, their

courtyards fragranced with frangipani.

Shutters were the kind you’d see in a

Provençal village, married with filigree

ironwork eaves created by artisans

from Vietnam. Some of these heritage

buildings have been adapted to create

exquisite little hotels, some are coffee

shops, some art galleries or massage

parlours. The presence of the Mekong,

and sometimes the Nam Khan, at the

end of every street added a sense of

calm wellbeing, with cars pretty much

absent. Boats, rickshaws and bicycles

proved the best way of getting around.

Renting two wheels I was in a blur of

nostalgic bliss, visiting sights. The 16thcentury

Wat Xieng Thong, built for Lao

royalty on the tip of the peninsula, was

a stunner, containing a riot of depictions,

in gold leaf, of the Ramayana stories

— the Indian epic later adapted by

the Lao people — and a tree of life







mosaic embedded with emeralds

and lapis lazuli on the back wall.

Each morning, just before dawn,

came the city’s cultural highlight, as

orange-robed temple monks emerged

in silent single file onto the street, to

receive alms from local women. The

age-old ritual was over by the time the

sun had risen and breakfast beckoned.

I passed French-influenced bakeries

and courtyard restaurants, while eating

avocado baguettes and yellow-duck

noodle soup, mesmerised by the slow

waltz of boats out on the water.

Late in the day I’d joined the crowds

heading up the 328 steps to sit under

the pagoda on the top of Phu Si hill

and watch the departing sun run

its fingers lovingly across the goldpainted

gable ends of the temples,

before saying farewell from behind

the misty rills of forested hills. After

that came the night market, arrayed

with fishermen’s trousers, lanterns,

and jewellery fashioned from the scrap

metal of war — a sombre reminder

that the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the hotly

contested Vietcong supply line in the

Vietnam War, mostly ran through Laos.

Finally, each evening, came the

difficult decision of where, and what,

to eat. It was all very enchanting,

and I could almost think, as I sat at

a little bistro sipping a drink while

waiting for my order of shrimp bisque,

that it was untouched by modern

life — but modern life always has

the last laugh. My time ran out, and

I had to leave — this time via Luang

Prabang’s front door, on a jet plane.

Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call

+971 4 316 6666 or visit dnatatravel.com

worldtravellermagazine.com 43

44 worldtravellermagazine.com


Reef encounter

She’s a beauty — no wonder the Great Barrier Reef

tops so many travellers’ bucket lists.But is the view

from below as ‘great’ as it used to be?

Andrew Eames takes the plunge



Diwali (7


is one of

worldtravellermagazine.com 45


Bob was sitting on the

upper deck of a pontoon

moored to Agincourt Reef.

A solitary figure, absorbed

in his newspaper, he was every inch

the authentic Aussie, complete with

hat, shorts, and an unflinching

certainty to his world view.

Our eyes met, so I remarked that

it wasn’t the most peaceful place to

read, on a deck awash with families

in flippers launching themselves into

the water in a flailing mass of arms

and legs. ‘I guess not,’ he grinned.

Bob, it turned out, had recently retired

after a lifetime in the unrelenting

glare of Australia’s Red Centre, and he

thought the green tropical north was

brilliant, the Great Barrier Reef its

Crown Jewels. ‘All that wonderful stuff

going on down there.’ He surveyed the

water proprietorially. ‘You been in?’

I had. I said I’d seen a clownfish

family. That had been good. The Nemos

had been doing their whole flustery

house-proud thing, darting around the

fronds of their anemone. And there’d

been loads of giant clams, shellfish

the size of fridge-freezers with velvety

mantles that looked like debauched

hotel double beds. ‘Plus there’s a huge

grouper that hangs under the pontoon,

called Susie. As big as a barn door.’

But I didn’t want to admit that

I’d hoped for more. That the fish

density had been thin, and the corals

themselves disappointingly... well,

beige. I suspected that wasn’t what

Bob would have wanted to hear.

I love anything to do with the sea,

so the Great Barrier Reef — one of the

seven wonders of the natural world

— had long been on my bucket list.

This is, after all, the world’s largest

living organism, visible from space,

comprising 2,900 reefs, 900 islands,

300 coral cays and 1,625 species of fish,

many of them in magnificently weird

shapes and extraordinary colours.

I’m lucky enough to have done a bit

of diving — and a lot of snorkelling

— in some incredible places, but to

my mind the sheer scale of the GBR

had always kept it a league apart. But

the more I heard about its magical,

myriad life forms, threatened by years

of heatwaves and tropical storms, it

became something I simply had to see









— before I really did kick that bucket.

So I’d come with a mix of hope — and

fear. And to get a handle on the huge

breadth of the thing I’d set myself

something of a personal target: I wanted

to see the Great Eight, which is the

Barrier Reef’s equivalent of an African

safari’s Big Five. These eight iconic,

spectacular creatures have recently been

selected by the Marine Park Authority

as representative of the sheer diversity

to be found on the Reef. They’re a mix

of generic and specific, with turtles,

sharks, whales and rays on the list, along

with clownfish, Maori wrasse, giant

clams and potato cod. I only had a few

days, but was resolved to tick them off

— after all, it might be my only chance.

Spending a day out on that doubledecker

pontoon at Agincourt was my

first, and inexpensive, eyeful of the

undersea. Quicksilver’s giant catamaran

— seats for 400 — had gobbled up the

65km commute from the rainforestwrapped

mainland, and by the time

we returned to Port Douglas in late

afternoon I’d been on a discovery snorkel

with a marine biologist and a ride in

a semi-submersible, but I’d only got

clownfish and giant clams ticked off my

list. So I needed to go deeper. Literally.

Next day, brandishing my PADI scuba

certificate, I headed out again. I’m not

an experienced diver, but fortunately

there is nothing testing about the

warm, aquarium-like waters of the

Reef, particularly as I was buddied up

with a Scottish oil-rig diver used to

the ‘scuzzy’ (his word) North Sea. Jim’s

eyes were like saucers as we descended

among bizarrely long trumpetfish,

which were taking it in turns to do

headstands above the boulder coral.

Below them was a shoal of fingersized

bright yellow goatfish, rising in

unison out of a coral cauliflower, like

fluorescent midges out of heather.

Despite this increased access, though,

after two dives and one snorkel I’d only

chalked up one further sighting: the

Maori wrasse, a labrador-sized fish that

evolution had face-painted in purple

and green. A hump-headed pair had

mooched nonchalantly around the coral

stack, pretending to look very cerebral —

the Forrest Gumps of the Barrier Reef.

46 worldtravellermagazine.com

Opposite: Oriental

sweetlips swim in the

sun-pierced ocean

This page: Sunset over

the heritage listed Port

Douglas wharf

worldtravellermagazine.com 47


With three down and five to go I

needed to up my game. I was sad to

leave Port Douglas, which has a laidback,

bohemian vibe, its streets lined

with sweet-smelling frangipani and

lavender-flowered jacaranda. It is

almost exclusively a purpose-built

holiday resort, with its reef-andrainforest

double act, and its main

drag split between the outfitters who

organise trips during the day, and the

terraced restaurants and bars who fuel

the trippers into the balmy night.

Cairns, 68km south, turned out

to be altogether more substantial. It

had history — 150 years of it, starting

with a gold rush that brought dozens

of different nationalities to what

was then an isolated shanty town.

Today there are backpackers from

Europe wandering along its seafront

esplanade and day-trippers off the

cruise ships nibbling on crocodile

satay in its boardwalk restaurants.

From here I headed offshore again,

this time on a propeller aircraft that

skimmed out over batik-effect spangles

of turquoise and gold, streaked with

rust and rimmed with silver surf. My

destination was an island with history

longer than Cairns, because back in 1770

Captain James Cook had landed here

during a voyage that nearly ended in

disaster when his boat went aground.

Lizard Island has since become a

great deal more hospitable, occupied

as it is on one flank by a marine

research station, and on its most

sheltered side by a luxurious barefoot

retreat for honeymooners and CEOs.

The resort’s 40 suites and villas are

carefully landscaped into lawns shaded

by seagrape trees and pandanus palms

behind a couple of the island’s 24 whitesand

beaches, where they are presided

over by a sumptuous restaurant open

to evening breezes soughing through

the casuarina trees. Most importantly,

for my purposes, it had dive boats and

snorkel boats, access to special sites

and stacks of local knowledge, and was

prepared to assemble these assets to

suit a guest’s whims. Especially a guest

with a shopping list of fish to see.

First, the turtles. Easy: no boat

required, they said, and that afternoon,

biologist Ben took me over to the

research station (which has been









responsible for parts of Blue Planet)

and pointed to the shallows. I felt like

a cameraman as I slid into the water

ahead of a green sea turtle grazing on

the seagrass. As it sauntered past, I

noted a couple of remoras, or suckerfish,

on either side, so that from the rear

it looked as if it was packing pistols.

Next morning, I clambered aboard

one of the resort’s dive boats to head

to the outer reef, with high hopes of

seeing my remaining four: whales,

rays, sharks and potato cod. An hour

later we were at a site called the Cod

Hole, having seen a minke whale

unsheathe itself from the water in the

distance en route. Not a particularly

breathtaking sight — minkes are

not large — but it was undeniably

a whale, doing what whales do.

As for the potato cod, I was pleased

to find them pretty much queuing

up. The Lizard Island dive team has

permission to feed certain fish, and we

descended into the transparent waters

to find a bruiser of a fish with Winston

Churchill lips and big black splodges

along its flanks, ready and waiting. This,

apparently, was Brian, and we’d been

warned not to pet him, even though he

bumped into us like a friendly dog.

We’d also been warned about sharks,

and it wasn’t long before the divemaster

drew our attention to a sleek shape,

circling half out of sight. It was a grey

reef shark, being proper sharky — but

more scared of us than we were of it,

the divemaster said afterwards. Shortly

after, a whitetip reef shark appeared,

immobile on the sandy bottom. Big,

but only threatening at night.

After just 24 hours on Lizard Island

I’d notched up four more of my Great

Eight, although it had taken all the

resources (and expense) of a far-flung,

five-star resort to get them. And while

my quest was nearly complete, I still

felt a bit disappointed — for all the

coral and fish I saw, the world’s largest

reef should have so much more.

Fortunately, there was a bonus

moment yet to come on my last evening

on Lizard Island, on a last-minute solo

snorkel at Anchor Bay, an easy walk

from my veranda. The sun disappears

in a hurry here, as if it has something

important to do in another hemisphere,

and I hadn’t allowed myself a lot of

time. But suddenly there were colours,

and fish, among candelabras of flamehued

fire coral and fields of staghorn

coral with fresh-growing tips of blue. I

spotted an orange-spine unicornfish,

a cloud of yellow-tailed fusiliers, and a

titan triggerfish, seemingly unaware

of the yellow lipstick smeared all over

its face. And, yes. Finally a ray — a

fleeting glimpse, a small one the size

of a dinner plate, but the moment I

caught sight of the last item on my

list, I also glimpsed another form,

circling. It’s one thing sharing the

water with a shark when you’re with

an experienced divemaster, but quite

another when you’re alone and the light

is noticeably dimming. I didn’t linger.

On my last morning I was up early to

meet the sunrise on the top of Cook’s

Look, the island’s highest point, where

the captain himself had climbed in

search of a way out of the reef. Today

it is also the only place you can get a

mobile-phone signal, so I took a selfie on

the top and WhatsApped it to my family,

and then watched the rising sun throw

my shadow across the turquoise sea.

Almost instantly my phone buzzed

back at me from the other side of

the world. ‘How is the Great Barrier

Reef?’ my daughter wanted to know.

It was a big question, and one that

needed a pithy answer — especially

if I wanted to get back down in time

for breakfast — so I tapped out four

words that I thought summed it up:

‘Endangered, but still beautiful.’

Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call

+971 4 316 6666 or visit dnatatravel.com

Credit: Andrew Eames/The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing

48 worldtravellermagazine.com

This page: Soft,

colourful corals around

Lizard Island

worldtravellermagazine.com 49


This page: A traditional

Greek salad Right: The view

over Chora Sfakion town

50 worldtravellermagazine.com


Seeking serenity in high-season

Crete? Dana Facaros finds the

crowd-free, timewarp beauty beyond

the island’s brochure beach resorts

worldtravellermagazine.com 51


n the village we sat sipping iced coffees,

the ubiquitous frothy, bitter, refreshing

taste of a Greek summer. Around us

worry beads clacked; ducks quacked;

and villagers doing their morning

shopping stopped for a chat in the

dappled shade of an olive tree. In the

tiny main square of Fodele, we were

only an hour away from the coast and

Crete’s hulking capital, Heraklion, but it

felt as if we’d travelled back light years.

Don’t get me wrong. Like everyone

who’s holidayed here, I love Crete for

its coast. Every time I’ve visited my

cousin Despina over the years, we’ve

lazed the hours (days, weeks) away on

the quieter shores that unravel east

and west of Heraklion, where Despina

teaches English at a local school. I’ve

always left with a deep tan and sunny

memories, of wiggling our toes in warm

sands and giggling over family anecdotes

as the rays dry our swimsuits, while

her architect husband, Theo, steps out

in a suit and takes care of business.

But I was so glad we’d made the

journey, this time off the beaten track,

inland to the Crete that time forgot. Not

solely because of the peace, the quiet

and those caffeine hits, but because it

showed me how much there is in Crete

to see beyond the big brochure resorts.

I love Heraklion — the poster city

for the whole island — as much as the

other sun-seeking thousands who fly in

for the bargain summer hotels of Agios

Nikolaos, or the five-star resorts around

the holiday town of Elounda, on the Gulf

of Mirabello, a couple of hours’ drive east.

But this time, my annual date with

Despina was to take a different tack.

The two of us had spent the morning on

the beach at Fodele. Theo was absent,

working in Sitia, a port town a long

drive away, towards the easternmost

tip of Crete. We were gossiping and

bronzing as usual, when clouds brought

a sudden grey to the day, hanging over

the mountains that sweep down to

the sands. Despina sat up and took

off her shades, gesturing towards the

family pick-up truck parked nearby.

‘That might be it for a while. Fancy

a drive?’

Did I? Motoring in Crete is always

travel heaven: the peaks, the twistedlicorice

byways, the olive groves glinting

to the horizons. Unlike Greece’s smaller







specks (Cyclades, Dodecanese), Crete

feels like a fully-fledged country. In an

hour you can roll from Greek island

to Tuscany to Switzerland. Birthplace

of Zeus, it is as old as time, home to

Europe’s first literate civilisation, the

Bronze Age Minoans, and scattered

with their crumbling legacy. On Crete,

it takes more than clouds to stop play.

As it happened, the sun was returning

wanly as we drove into Fodele village,

warming the valley we passed through

to reach it, lush with orange, lemon and

mandarin groves. We parked, sat and

drank, shaded by an olive tree, a gnarly

thing with leafy branches. Only a sign

beside it reminded us we were not just in

the back of beyond but in the arty heart of

things. Fodele, it read, was the birthplace

in 1541 of Doménikos Theotokópoulos,

aka El Greco, the artist who matured,

in Venice, Rome, Madrid and finally

Toledo, into a singular force of nature.

Strolling, we found his birthplace,

now a museum, and gawped at

reproductions of his strange, visionary

works, so defiantly unlike any other

of the Spanish Renaissance age.

‘I have to say he could only have been

a Cretan’, said Despina. ‘He wasn’t afraid

to be different.’ Cretans are famously

fearless. When Nazi paratroopers

invaded and occupied the island, men

and women, young and old, fought

them with scythes, butcher’s knives and

rocks, even their bare hands. After the

war, Nikos Kazantzakis (author of Zorba

the Greek), charged by the UN to report

on Axis atrocities, found the Nazis had

destroyed more than 100 Cretan villages.

One of the most infamous, Anogia,

was our next stop, in the mountains

above Fodele. We drove past clustered

homes and olive groves, beeping sleeping

dogs off the road and overtaking, much

to our delight, a granny in black riding

side-saddle on a donkey, who smiled

and waved while engrossed in a mobilephone

chat. Slowly — ominously? — the

landscape grew savage. A golden eagle

hovered in the blue-black sky. Bells

jangled as a herd of goats skipped off the

road. The goatherd — mustachioed, clad

in black shirt and tall boots — nodded

with the noble bearing of a Homeric

hero. Far off loomed Crete’s highest peak,

Psiloritis: ancient Ida, sacred to Zeus.

Anogia greeted us, immaculately

whitewashed, its photogenic square

filled with café tables and wonky chairs.

It was hard to believe this was its fourth

incarnation. The Turks destroyed it twice.

Nazis razed it in reprisal for harbouring

members of the Cretan Resistance who

had abducted the German General,

Kreipe. After the war, the widows of

Anogia’s fighters turned to needlework

to survive. Even today houses are draped

in vivid woven bags and tablecloths.

We lunched at a little taverna called

Aetos, on tender lamb ofto, redolent of

fresh mountain air and wild herbs, slowcooked,

shepherd-style, from the heat off

charcoal embers. It tingled the tastebuds,

but the overriding sensory takeaway

from Anogia was for the ears and eyes:

in a tiny museum we found the works of

a folk artist nicknamed Grylios (‘bulging

eyes’), who started sculpting and painting

naïf, heartfelt scenes of the village at the

age of 68. While we took them in, tunes

fluttered from a lyraki, a three-stringed

violin played by Giorgios, his son.

The road back to Heraklion had more

in store: at Tylissos, we savoured the

solitude of half an hour, late afternoon,

among three ancient villas built by the

Minoan people in the 16th-14th centuries

BC. As with so many archaeological sites

beyond the main tourist circuit here,

we had the moment all to ourselves.

A breeze wooed eerily in the pines as

we ran our fingers over the warmed

stones, channelling the long-haired

Minoans in their colourful kilts. ‘Like

Bronze Age hippies,’ I said to Despina,

Credit: Dana Facaros/The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing

52 worldtravellermagazine.com


This page, clockwise from

above: Shepherding a herd

of goats on a country road;

the Venetian Walls in Heraklion;

a woman sits side-saddle on

a donkey; wooden louver

window shutters in Crete's

common blue, a typical feature

of local houses



Diwali (7


is one of

worldtravellermagazine.com 53


lost in her remoted-eyed trance.

Returning to Heraklion was a shock to

the system. Tour buses growled at traffic

lights. Bars rang with chattery European

languages — the high-spirited voices of

crowds gearing up for the night. But the

fading apricot light lent a kind of aura.

Despina, having stopped to buy oranges,

took me on to the Venetian Walls, then

up the steps to the bastion where Nikos

Kazantzakis, one of the most celebrated

Greek writers of recent times, was

buried. Despina arranged the oranges

around his tomb. ‘He requested fruit

instead of flowers,’ she explained, then

translated his famous epitaph. ‘“I hope

for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free”.’

Something about this special day

had liberated me, too — the elements,

the savage scenery, the real people with

classic customs. The raw remoteness

had made me want more. So it was

serendipity when we opened Despina’s

front door to find Theo home a day early.

He’d had to leave his car in Sitia due to

an electric-cable failure, and hitch a lift

back home with a colleague. It would

be ready the next day, but Despina

was too busy to fetch it. So was he.

Me? Next morning I was on a bus

heading east, with a quick stop at Agios

Nikolaos. As smells of coffee and oil

from its bus station faded, I felt bliss.

The highway snaked around the coast,

the bays glinting like shields far below

in the silver light. The Gulf of Mirabello

veered from arid late-summer peaks

to isles caught between sea and sky in

shades from pale turquoise to cobalt.

The conductor checked my ticket.

‘What a beautiful day to ride the bus,’ he

exclaimed. He was a cheery soul in his 60s,

with a sweet smile and twinkling eyes.

‘A beautiful day indeed!’ I chimed in.

He regarded me curiously: ‘Where

are you from?’ (Translation: I can

tell you’re Greek, but a bit dodgy).

‘My father’s from Ikaria.’

This response always gets a knowing

look. Ikarians have a reputation for

being slightly bonkers, although

he was clearly undeterred.

‘And what are you doing in these parts?’

Running an errand for my cousin,

Despina, I told him, whereupon

his eyes grew wide. ‘Despina is the

name of my mother, my wife and

my daughter. I am Nikos. You must

dine with us while you are in Sitia!’

I dialled home to Heraklion and told

my cousin. She asked to have a word with

Nikos, who was thrilled to speak to yet

another Despina. When he passed the

phone back to me, she said, ‘He sounds

lovely. Find a hotel and stay a couple of

days. Theo can do without a car for a bit.’

In Sitia I found the best of both

worlds — the simplicity of a mountain

village, and the buzz of a real Greek beach

town, by the clear waters of the Aegean.

A string of tavernas curled around a

waterfront parade studded with fat

These pages: The old Venetian

harbour in Rethymnon

54 worldtravellermagazine.com

palms, and cafes sighed with poignant

Cretan music played by musicians who

wandered from one to the other.

I found a hotel and, looking out from

my window as the evening turned purple

with nightfall, saw lamps like pearls,

flickering and showing the way to town.

It was steeped in the feel of ‘Old Greece’.

At a dusty newsstand I found books still

priced in drachmas. I inhaled the special,

unmistakable scent, a mix of freshly

ground coffee, cinnamon and oregano,

wafting from the grocers’ shops in the

alleys. There was the happy hubbub of

Greek families carving up fish at lamplit

tables by the quay. Carefree children

pedalled about in the warm air, as elderly

folk watched them, and the world, pass by.

What good fortune, finding myself

alone with a car and a free diary for a

day or two. I motored east to Vai, an

extraordinary strand studded with a

thick grove of palm trees — the largest

in Europe — grown, says legend, from

dates discarded by Arab pirates. I pootled

up to Itanos, a cove as tiny as a bite from

a biscuit, for a swim in waters of glass,

overlooked by the remains of an ancient

site. And when my phone rang, and Nikos

insisted on honouring his invitation the

next night, I felt as good as anointed.

At the end of a pitted lane just

beyond Sitia, his rosy-cheeked wife

(Despina), opened the front door of

their generator-powered cottage, and

welcomed me like a long lost relative.

We dined on Cretan bruschetta (dakos),

tzatziki and stuffed tomatoes.

I couldn’t drive back to Sitia, so they

made a bed for me on the sofa. And there I

slept the sweetest sleep, coiled in the heart

of this real, tourist-free, homely Crete.

Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call

+971 4 316 6666 or visit dnatatravel.com










worldtravellermagazine.com 55



Escape to a magical place and celebrate

the beginning of your new life together.

Book one of our honeymoon

packages for special offers in

dreamy beach locations

and make the most of

your time away with

each other.

Book at dnatatravel.com

call 800 DNATA (36282) or

speak to us in-store

Download our app

| Follow us on



Staycations and short-haul escapes

© Ibrahim Albeshari @ialbeshari


Dubai is famous for its masterful man-made feats,

and the new Love Lake in Al Qudra certainly has

the wow factor. Unveiled by His Highness Sheikh

Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum,

Crown Prince of Dubai, the two interlocking heartshaped

lakes are luring curious travellers due to

their mystery and beauty. As if it wasn't swoonworthy

enough, trees have been planted beside the

water to spell out the word 'love'.

worldtravellermagazine.com 57


Reasons to go back to…


Check out the wave of creative happenings at this thriving

arts and culture hub, where homegrown concepts rub

shoulders with international gallery outposts

Book a hands-on lesson.

The two commissioned

works that adorn the roofs

of Alserkal Avenue – When

Did You Arrive and When Will

You Return – speak volumes

about the hub’s ability to lure

you back. The community

events offer a chance to

explore your talents, like the

two-hour weekly workshops

on drawing techniques at

thejamjar. Taking place on

Tuesdays from 5 February.

View the new art exhibits.

Jasmine, soil and Aleppo

soap-inspired visual

artist Sara Naim in her

solo exhibition Building

Blocks, at The Third Line

until 27 February. Marking

the Syrian artist’s second

outing at the gallery,

the magnified cellular

structures of her subjects,

mounted on wood and

plexiglass, reveal their

stunning complexity. There

are plenty more to galleries

to discover besides.

Photo courtesy of Alserkal Avenue

Gulf Photo Plus

Snap to it. The 15th annual

edition of Gulf Photo Plus’

Photo Week, taking place

from 4-8 February, has

exhibitions and workshops

by leading photographers,

as well as free talks and

sessions. The headline

exhibition, hosted at

Concrete, shines a light on

seven photographers from

the Arab world, including

Hicham Gardaf whose

Intersections project

explores urban development

in Morocco.

For the record. It's not strictly new, but we

think The Flip Side, Dubai's only independent

record shop, will be your jam. It carries music

from around the world and has a cool line-up of

events hosted by local music buffs. There are

also documentaries and talks on music in the

region, making it an educational experience.

Wild flavours. Even the eateries here are creative.

Refuel at Wild & The Moon with

an energy ball (sprouted raw

walnuts, almonds and raw

cocoa sweetened with

dates) prepared by the

vegan chefs, accompanied

by a colourful tumeric latte.

58 worldtravellermagazine.com


Your passport to the Middle East's first fully

bookable travel inspiration website

Extend your journey with World Traveller magazine

by heading online to read more inspirational and

exclusive travel content and take advantage of upto-the-minute

hotel and holiday features

Dream Read Click Book





With vintage

trams and vibrant

street life, the



capital is an



This page: The Bica Funicular

Opposite from top:

Belém Tower; Altis Belém

Hotel and Spa

60 worldtravellermagazine.com


Spread across seven steep hillsides that overlook the

Tagus River, Lisbon lays on centuries of history and a

mild, Mediterranean climate despite its Atlantic-facing

location. Famous for its yellow trams, intricate azulejos

(hand-painted tiles) and delicious pasteis de nata

(custard tarts), visitors will also find cool cultural spaces

and an exciting food scene.

Although hilly, the Portuguese capital is quite compact

so you can walk to most places in the city centre. Above

the 18th-century Baixa (downtown) area, Chiado is the

cultural heart of the city with boutique-lined lanes,

theatres and museums. Heading north, the oncesleepy

Príncipe Real district is now awash with trendy

restaurants and independent shops. Rising into the hills

to the east is Alfama, the intriguing old Moorish quarter,

while picturesque Belém, on the western edge of the city,

is where Portuguese explorers set sail during the 15th

and 16th centuries. It’s also home to the World Heritagelisted

Monastery of Jerónimos and Tower of Belém.

Our Lisbon guide offers a curated list of the best

things to see and do, and the hippest places to eat and

shop, not to mention the best hotels to bed down. So,

let’s start exploring…

Lisbon is a stylish city,

so it's no surprise it has

good-looking hotels to

match. On the grand

Avenida da Liberdade,

Valverde Hotel has

25 rooms kitted out

with rich colours and

mid-century modern

furniture. Downstairs,

there’s a buzzy

Mediterranean restaurant

and a leafy courtyard

that hosts regular fado

and jazz performances.

Housed in a former

palace below the

mediaeval St George's

Castle, Santiago De

Alfama is another

boutique beauty. There

are 19 calm, neutral

and stylish rooms,

many with freestanding

baths, and a restaurant

serving seasonally-led

Portuguese cuisine.

Meanwhile, in a 15thcentury

palace attached

to the castle walls, the

intimate 10-suite Palácio

Belmonte is a favourite

of the fashion and film

set. The art-filled hotel

features thousands of

antique blue-and-white


Find the perfect place to stay in the

Portuguese capital

Portuguese tiles as well

as a black marble

infinity pool.

At the other end

of the scale, the

Corinthia Hotel is the

city’s largest five-star

abode. Overlooking a

magnificent 18th-century

aqueduct, there are

518 plush rooms and a

fabulous spa featuring

13 treatment rooms.

Down by the river, the

glass-walled Altis Belém

Hotel and Spa draws

style-conscious travellers

with its slick design,

monochromatic interiors

and Michelin-starred

restaurant. Soak up the

sun beside the rooftop

pool and be pampered in

the award-winning spa.



Lisbon's inventive chefs

make the most of the

country’s incredible bounty


This two



in Chiado is

helmed by

José Avillez,

who combines respect for

local ingredients with a

playful touch. belcanto.pt


In the Palácio Belmonte

hotel, chef Tiago

Feio creates delicate

dishes that fuse local

ingredients with Asian

flavours. Open for dinner

Wednesdays to Sundays.



With a laidback bohemian

vibe and dishes made for

sharing, Peruvian chef

Diego Muñoz brings a bit

of Lima to Lisbon. Be sure

to order the tuna tiradito

and wok-fried seafood.


worldtravellermagazine.com 61



Looking to take home an

authentic slice of the city?

Check out these top shops


In the heart of the Príncipe

Real district, this boutique

shopping gallery is housed

in a 19th-century Moorishstyle

palace, complete

with a grand staircase

and courtyard. There

are around 20 stores

specialising in fashion

and design from local

brands, including madeto-measure

tailoring at

UOY and organic skincare

from Organii Cosmética.


Luís Onofre

For statement heels

and luxury handbags

handcrafted in Portugal,

stop by Luís Onofre’s

flagship store on Avenida

da Liberdade (aka Lisbon’s

Champs-Élysées). Spread

across two floors, you’ll

find the latest women’s

and men’s collections

from Portugal’s

premier shoe


whose celeb

fans include


Obama and

Naomi Watts.


A Vida Portuguesa

This old-style emporium

(pictured) stocks

Portuguese-made products

from small independent

brands, including

stationery, toiletries and

homewares (don’t miss the

iconic Bordallo Pinheiro

cabbage leaf ceramics).

There are four locations

in Lisbon, including the

flagship store in a former

perfume factory in Chiado.



Hit hard by the global

financial crisis, Lisbon is

undergoing a creative

renaissance with new

cultural landmarks

and vibrant street art.

Start your gallery trawl

in Belém at Museu

Coleção Berardo

(museuberardo.pt), the

city’s most acclaimed

contemporary art space.

Housed in the minimalist

Belém Cultural Centre,

the gallery displays

an impressive private

collection of abstract,

surrealist and pop art,

from Picasso through to

Warhol and Portugal's

own Paula Rego.

Continue along the

riverfront to the Museum

of Art, Architecture

and Technology (maat.

pt). Opened in 2016, this

eye-catching cultural

space is covered in

15,000 white tiles and

capped with a rooftop

terrace. Inside, you’ll

find contemporary

works across four

sunken galleries. Keep

walking east to LX

Factory (lxfactory.com),

a cluster of once-derelict

warehouses beneath

the 25 April suspension

bridge that is now Lisbon’s

coolest creative district.

Browse the colourful

collection of art spaces,

boutiques and cafés, then

check out the street art

murals that adorn the old

factory walls. Jump on a

tram heading downtown

and visit the Museu do

Design e da Moda (mude.

pt), a wonderful fashion

and design museum

housed in former bank

in Baixa. Celebrating the

connection between

modern design and


fashion, explore the

vast collection of

contemporary furniture

from iconic names such

as Philippe Starck and

vintage couture from the

likes of Jean Paul Gaultier

and Yves St Laurent.

Finish up at the Jeanne

Bucher Jaeger Gallery


com) in nearby Chiado,

the first international

outpost of the Parisian

gallery, which exhibits

works by lesser-known

contemporary artists

such as André Bauchant

and Michael Biberstein.

street art and graffiti.


Known as the Portuguese blues, fado originated in

the streets of Alfama in the 19th century. Mournful

folk ballads feature a lone singer accompanied by

a Portuguese 12-string guitar and overflow with

the feeling of saudade – a yearning for something

lost. Stop by the engaging Fado Museum

(museudofado.pt) in Alfama to learn about the

history of fado and listen to its most celebrated

artists. Next, skip the touristy tavernas and catch

a live performance at local favourite Tasca do

Jaime, a tiny restaurant in Graça (get there early

or book a table).

62 worldtravellermagazine.com


Opposite page, from top:

Museu do Design e da Moda

© Luísa Ferreira; A Vida

Portuguesa; Fado Museum,

photo courtesy of Visit Lisboa

This page from top: The red

rooftops of Miradouro das

Portas do Sol, the gardens at

Fronteira Palace


Lisbon’s many miradouros (viewpoints)

offer picture-perfect views of the city


famous vantage point offers unbeatable views over

Alfama’s red rooftops. Head here for sunset, stopping

first at the Miradouro de Santa Luzia, just a minute’s

walk away, to admire its historic azulejos.


ramparts of the 11th-century St. George’s Castle for

fabulous views of the city all the way to the Tagus.

Then seek out the Miradouro do Recolhimento, an

olive-shaded square within the castle walls, for more

dreamy views minus the crowds.


rickety yellow Tram 28 to the Graça neighbourhood

and then stroll to this lesser-known miradouro. It’s

one of Lisbon’s highest lookouts, boasting panoramic

views of St. George’s Castle and the Bairro Alto and

Baixa districts.

Words: Lara Brunt

insider tips

Filipa Valente,

founder of Taste of

Lisboa Food Tours


com), shares

her favourite

hometown haunts:

The famous Tram

28 route finishes in the Campo de

Ourique neighbourhood, but many

tourists don't explore this relaxed

residential neighbourhood. It’s full

of trendy and traditional restaurants

where locals hang out, as well as

the Campo de Ourique Market

(mercadodecampodeourique.pt) which

is packed with gourmet food stalls.

Don’t leave without tasting a pastel

de nata (custard tart) at Manteigaria

(facebook.com/manteigaria.oficial) in

Chiado where you can watch the bakers

at work. And definitely try our seafood

– I love Ramiro (cervejariaramiro.pt) in

Downtown and Nune's Real Marisqueira

(nunesmarisqueira.pt) in Belém. Bring

your appetite!



Introduced to the

Iberian Peninsula

by the Moors in the

Middle Ages, azulejos

(handpainted tiles)

adorn many palaces,

buildings and metro

stations around Lisbon.

Explore 500 years

of tile trends at the

National Tile Museum


gov.pt), housed in

a splendid 16thcentury

convent, and

join a guided tour

of Fronteira Palace

(fronteira-alorna.pt) in

the Benfica area, known

for its antique azulejos

in both the palace and

gardens. Check out the


tiles in the Parque and

Restauradores metro

stations, and stop by

Sant’Anna (santanna.

com.pt), Portugal’s

oldest ceramic factory,

to join a tile-painting

workshop or buy some

azulejos to ship home.

worldtravellermagazine.com 63




resort hotels

Get washed up at these blissful island hideaways

© Jumeirah at Saadiyat Island Resort


Jumeirah at Saadiyat

Island Resort. Home to

mangroves, dolphins

and Hawksbill turtles, the

castaway-style Saadiyat

Island is brimming with

nature. And if sustainability

is top of mind, this new kid

on the block (the property

opened in November 2018),

will win you over with its

efforts to cut plastic usage.

Overlooking the sparkling

waters and protected sand

dunes, it's an idyllic place to

unwind, with three infinity

pools to splash around in,

sunrise yoga sessions and

bicycles available so you can

explore at your own pace.


Desert Islands Resort

& Spa by Anantara.

Fuel your adventurous

side at Sir Bani Yas Island, a

protected wildlife sanctuary

located just off the coast

of Abu Dhabi. Home to

free-roaming animals,

including the endangered

Arabian oryx, its blend of

wild luxury will make you

feel far removed from the

mainland. The resort itself

is nestled on the north

shore between a lagoon

and the sea, with rooms and

suites overlooking the Gulf.

There are plenty of ways to

discover the island's bounty,

from family wildlife drives

to exploring the ancient

ruins and rock formations

on horseback.


Zaya Nurai Island. This

boutique island resort,

just 10 minutes by

boat from Saadiyat Island,

has accommodation to suit

all types of travellers, from

the bijou one-bedroom

Beach Villas to the familyfriendly

six-bedroom Beach

Estates, which each boast

a private stretch of sand.

Be pampered in an oceanview

spa treatment room

and take part in tai chi

overlooking the gardens.

Dining options stretch from

modern Mexican to sushi,

with private dining serving

up the romance.

64 worldtravellermagazine.com

One Destination


Enjoy an ideal staycation for the entire family and enjoy a world of luxury and

comfort at any of our two beachfront hotels, JA Palm Tree Court or JA Beach

Hotel conveniently located only 15 minutes away from Dubai. Relax by one of

the 4 pools and on the 800m private beach or experience the thrill of over 30

exciting activities such as horse riding, golf, water sports and many more.

For bookings or more information, please call +971 4 814 5400

or email reservations.ptc@jaresorts.com



Jumeirah Messilah Beach Hotel & Spa

A seaside idyll sitting pretty on Kuwait's glittering coast


At Jumeirah's crown jewel in Kuwait City,

the living spaces deliver comfort and

class – as one has come to expect from

this trusted brand. Heritage is honoured

alongside luxury in each of the 316 rooms

and suites, 79 residential suites and 12

private villas. Check into a 'home away

from home' with a three-bedroom villa,

or reside like royalty in a majestic Royal

Suite (with its own butler, no less).


Eight international restaurants please

every palate, such as sumptuous cuts

at Pepper Steakhouse and delectable

Italian fare at Olio, to cultural recipes

from Kuwati cuisine at Arabesque. In

this month of love, the Romantic Stay

Package ensures a daily three-course set

dinner for two at the acclaimed seafood

enclave Salt – with decorated cakes to

further sweeten the occasion.


Two main attractions are lauded in the

hotel's very name – the beach, and the

award-winning Talise spa. Located in

seclusion on the shore of the Arabian Gulf,

this hotel's two swimming pools, array of

leisure pursuits and 200m of private sand

will tempt you into the outdoors. The spa

boasts 17 treatment rooms and a menu

of wellness treats, including a must-try

healing stint in the Himalayan Salt Room.

To find out more, call +965 2226 9600 or visit jumeirah.com

66 worldtravellermagazine.com



Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa

Let this rustic Arabian oasis charm its way into your travel plans


Designed in harmony with the

surroundings, you'll feel at one with

the dunes inside these abodes – from

the Superior Room with its desert or

courtyard views, to the Deluxe Suite,

which fits families of four and has a

terrace with a seating area ideal for

gazing at those golden sunsets. The

Junior Suites are decorated with rare,

handcrafted Arabian furnishings.


Enjoy a traditional meal under a blanket

of stars at the open-air Al Hadheerah

restaurant, which recreates a One

Thousand and One Nights style setting,

for an evening of vibrant dining and

entertainment. Plus, the whole family

can indulge at The Garden Brunch,

which takes place every Friday at Al

Forsan restaurant, offering an extensive

buffet and lots of kids' entertainment.


Those with a feel for adventure can take

a four-wheel-drive into the desert to

watch the sun set while whizzing across

the sands (60 mins for 6 people). You'll

even get a close-up look at protected

indigenous wildlife such as desert

gazelle and Arabian oryx. Bring your

heart rate back to normal at Satori Spa,

which offers tip-to-toe pampering

packages for men and women.

To find out more, call +971 4 809 6100 or visit babalshams.com

68 worldtravellermagazine.com


Bab Al Shams Desert Resort & Spa presents Al Hadheerah, its spectacular desert

entertainment and authentic food. Explore the sights, sounds and tastes

of Arabia at an authentic desert venue amidst the rolling dunes.

Feast under the stars, and enjoy a night of entertainment, live music, belly dancing,

traditional instruments and exclusively on Thursday & Fridays

a fireworks display will light the sky.


Dubai,United Arab Emirates

T:+971 4 809 6194, bas.restaurants@meydanhotels.com


alhadheerah alhadheerah alhadheerah



Dukes Dubai

With its Palm Jumeirah address and distinct British character, Dukes Dubai reigns supreme


Offering the best of British hospitality

in the UAE, Dukes Dubai has all the

ingredients for a fun-filled holiday.

Cosy up in a luxurious guestroom or

stay for longer in a tastefully furnished

hotel apartment – Arabian Gulf views

included. This month’s Suite Moments

Valentine’s Day package treats romantics

to a dreamy set-up in a Dukes Deluxe

Suite, and private dining on the beach.


Tuck into hearty classics with a twist

at Great British Restaurant (GBR) or

taste a North Indian palette of flavours

at Khyber. Just be sure to keep Friday

afternoons free for the Dukesy Family

Brunch, which takes place at West 14th

Steakhouse from 1pm-4pm. Grab a seat al

fresco and tuck into tasty food from the

live cooking stations while the children

get stuck into the self-serve buffet.


Make the most of the private beach access

and bask in the winter sun before taking

a refreshing dip in the infinity pool and

setting sail in a pool float along the lazy

river for some wet and wild fun.

Unwind with a yoga class by the indoor

pool while the little ones run off steam

at Dukesy Kids Club (for ages five to 12),

which invites them to get creative with

cooking classes, arts and crafts and more.

To find out more, call +971 4 455 1111 or visit dukesdubai.com

70 worldtravellermagazine.com



JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

Rise to the top at the world's tallest five-star hotel


This lofty hotel has ample space to

welcome guests. Its 1,608 guestrooms

and suites have luxurious finishings

– think marble bathrooms with rain

showers and oversized tubs – and

views of the glittering skyline or Dubai

Water Canal. Families can book a suite

and spread out in two separate living

and sleeping areas. Room service is

available around the clock.


There are 15 award-winning restaurants

and bars at the property, each serving

memorable meals. Fans of delicious

steak will want to head straight to

Prime68, while Positano is the place to

feast on handmade pasta and pizza. For

something a bit different, try Japanese

restaurant Izakaya – the resident Wasabi

Girl (she has green hair) will prepare

fresh wasabi at your table.


The hotel is close to many top

attractions, but there are lots of perks

that'll tempt you to linger for longer at

the property. Take a dip in the sparkling

outdoor swimming pool or, for a spot

of pampering, head to Saray Spa, which

is home to the UAE's only Dead Sea

floatation pool. Try the Saray Golden

Hammam, which includes a decadent

skin massage using 24-karat gold.

To find out more, call +971 4 414 3000 or visit jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com

72 worldtravellermagazine.com

Inspiration. Expertly crafted.

Comprising two iconic towers, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai is centrally located beside the

Dubai Water Canal and offers a spectrum of facilities and services for a seamless experience.

The hotel features: 1,608 Luxurious Guest Rooms and Suites, Over 15 Award-Winning Restaurants

and Lounges, Saray Spa featuring Traditional Hammams, A Dead Sea Floatation Pool and

17 Treatment Rooms, State-of-the-Art Health Club and Fitness facilities, 8,000 sqm of spectacular

Meeting Spaces.

JW Marriott® Marquis® Hotel Dubai


Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971.4.414.0000 | jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com




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76 worldtravellermagazine.com



Sandbank at

Fushifaru, Maldives

"As soon as our speedboat

pulled up to this sandbank in

the Maldives, I knew I wanted

a drone shot of myself by the

water. My companion asked

how, as a modestly dressed

woman wearing a hijab, I'd pull

it off. Her scepticism made me

even more determined and this

was the result. I never look at

wearing the hijab or dressing

modestly as something of an

obstacle. It’s such a natural

and integral part of my life,

like a limb – I need it but it

doesn’t define me. In fact, it’s

empowering to be recognised

for your inner self rather than

appearance. It never stopped me

from doing what I love."

Dubai-based travel and food

blogger, Sukaina Rajabali,

loves to travel to "eat new

food, meet new people and

discover different cultures".





in high-res jpeg format, along

with the stories behind them to


com and you may end up

being featured on this page

78 worldtravellermagazine.com


Now win!



Stay up-to-date with all that’s

happening on our social channels

and join in the conversation by

sharing your experiences. Here’s

where you can find us…


Double tap our dreamy

destination shots and tag

us in your images for a chance to

feature on our wall.


Stay up to date with travel

stories as we post them.


Make the most of your

280-character allowance

by sharing your best travel

moments with us.


A 3-night stay at

AVANI+ Samui

Chill on a tropical island escape at this leading resort in

Koh Samui, Thailand, where you can watch the sun set from

your balcony, unwind with a blissful spa treatment and taste

contemporary local food on the beachfront. Kayaking in the

nearby mangroves, and cruising the back streets on a bicycle are

just some of the ways to explore. The prize includes three nights'

accommodation in a deluxe room with breakfast for two.

Terms & conditions apply. Visit worldtravellermagazine.com/win


Let our travel news and round-ups, available exclusively on our digital channels,

inspire your next trip…

1A glimpse of

Jumeirah Mina

A'Salam. Check

out our video, which

highlights familyfriendly


2Rides to brave

at Wild Wadi


Would you hurl

yourself down our five

top rides and slides?

3Bucket list

trips. Our

countdown of

100 must-have travel

experiences is still

going strong.

worldtravellermagazine.com 79


Suite dreams

Our monthly finish with a flourish, delving into a

suite that has a character and style all of its own

Luxury Studio Suite

The Bloomsbury, London

Were we to issue an award for London's bestdressed

hotel room, The Bloomsbury would

claim the honour with ease. In what is itself a

beautiful and historic red-brick building (one

modelled on Queen Mary's doll house), Michaelis

Boyd's (Soho House Group) vintage-style

upholstery complements statement wallpaper

and parquet floors in a suite that could very well

define 'homely'. And if you think this is stylish,

wait until you see the restaurant and lounges...

80 worldtravellermagazine.com

Ronald Codrai © Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi

رونالد كودراي © دائرة الثقافة والسياحة - أبوظبي







Qasr Al Hosn is the oldest and most significant building

in Abu Dhabi. It includes the city’s first permanent

structure, a coral and sea stone watch tower built to

protect the settlement of Abu Dhabi established on the

island in the 1760s. Qasr Al Hosn became home to the

ruling family, a seat of government, and it now stands as

our nation’s living monument, telling the story of

Abu Dhabi and its people.

Book your experience at qasralhosn.ae

Inspiration. Expertly crafted.

Comprising two iconic towers, the JW Marriott Marquis Dubai, the world’s tallest 5-star hotel,

is centrally located beside the Dubai Water Canal and offers a spectrum of facilities and services for

a seamless experience. The hotel features: 1,608 luxurious guest rooms and suites,

over 15 award-winning restaurants and lounges, Saray Spa featuring traditional hammams,

a Dead Sea Floatation Pool and 17 treatment rooms, state-of-the-art health club and fitness facilities,

as well as 8,000 sqm of spectacular meeting spaces.

JW Marriott® Marquis® Hotel Dubai


Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, PO Box 121000, Dubai, UAE | T +971.4.414.0000 | jwmarriottmarquisdubailife.com

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