World Traveller June 2019

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On the road

to discovery

Produced in Dubai Production City

Classic Cuba

How to pack incredible encounters and experiences into two weeks

JAresorts.com /Manafaru @JAManafaru_Maldives

Inspired by nature,


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tropical backdrops are three ultra-luxurious Residences, designed for utmost comfort, and

privacy without any compromises. Indulge in bespoke amenities to rejuvenate your mind,

body, and soul.

Awaken to the glaze of the tropical sun in the Grand Water Suite, with your own infinity pool

a few steps outside the bedroom. Relish from expertly cooked dishes served in the coziness

of the Royal Island Suite or leisurely watch as the day passes by from ‘The Royal Residence’,

as the hues of the clear Maldivian sky shift from their beautiful blues to vivid violets.

Your ultimate luxury getaway in the Maldives awaits off the shores of JA Manafaru.

For bookings or more information, visit JAresorts.com

or email reservations.manafaru@jaresorts.com



Enjoy the tailored hospitality of your own Villa host to top

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Spa Sanctuary

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into a sinle uniue journey Ear on your path to wellein with

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© Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi / Photo by Hufton+Crow. Architect: Jean Nouvel.


Louvre Abu Dhabi brings different cultures together

to shine light on the shared stories of human creativity.

Admission: AED 63, children under 13 free





Welcome note

With the Eid Al Fitr holidays here and schools breaking up for

the summer next month, you’ve got a couple more reasons

to take a trip. If you haven’t yet stuck a pin in the map, simply

turn to page 26 for eight jam-packed pages of inspiration.

Managing Director

Victoria Thatcher

Editorial Director

John Thatcher

General Manager

David Wade

Managing Editor

Faye Bartle


Content Writers

Habiba Azab

Sophia Dyer

Art Director

Kerri Bennett

Senior Designer

Hiral Kapadia

Senior Advertising Manager

Mia Cachero


Production Manager

Muthu Kumar

From living the high life in a luxury treehouse,

to taking over an entire island in the Maldives and

climbing aboard Britain’s first new sleeper train in

35 years, get set to have a remarkable summer.

Before you get swept away with the season’s

travel frenzy, however, we suggest you curl up

with our long reads. This month, we take you to on

a fantasy trip to Cuba (page 36), on a journey to

uncover the authentic charms of Thailand (page

44) and on an adventure off the beaten track in

Namibia (page 50).

If you prefer to pack in a handful of long

weekends, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the

options you can tick off your list. A great place to

start is with Habiba Azab’s guide to Cairo (page

60), which tells you exactly how to get under the

skin of this fast-paced city.

Happy travels,

Faye Bartle


A stay at Qasr Al

Sarab Desert Resort

by Anantara in Abu

Dhabi on p75





You'll find Havana's

coolest creative types

on the rooftop at El del

Frente, p36


Disney’s Aladdin was

partly shot in the

Hashemite Kingdom of

southern Jordan, p20


Simple things, like

loading your holiday

reads onto your tablet

instead of carrying the

books, can make a big

difference to your ecotravel

credentials, p22


Don't leave Cairo

without tasting Koshari;

a unique mixture of rice,

macaroni and lentils,

all covered with a spicy

tomato sauce, p60


Khao Phing Kan,

is better known as

Christopher Lee's

private island in the

James Bond film The

Man with the Golden

Gun, p44

The filming of Aladdin © Disney


Photography credits:

Getty Images and Phocal Media

Reproduction in whole or in

part without written permission

from HOT Media Publishing is

strictly prohibited. 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 @WorldTravellerME

INSTAGRAM @worldtravellerme


worldtravellermagazine.com 5

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

Credit: The Wild Hotel, Mykonos © Yiorgos Kordakis


June 2019




10 15 22 74 76



This month's go-to

places include magical

Madagascar, the Windy

City of Chicago, and

beautiful Langkawi.


From as-seen-onscreen

destinations to

foodie finds in Hong

Kong and hot new

hotels, there's plenty to

sink your teeth into.


Give your ecocredentials

a boost

with these easy and

practical tips for happy

holidays that don't cost

the earth.


Head online for

exclusive content and,

better still, the chance

to win a two-night stay

at Qasr Al Sarab Desert

Resort by Anantara.


Fall in love with the

Eiffel Tower views

from the Jean-Michel

Wilmotte designed

Suite Amour at Hotel

Lutetia in Paris.

worldtravellermagazine.com 7



26 36



Our Cuba expert, Claire

Summer's here and Boobbyer, takes us on

if you're still making a journey through an

plans, we have a whole island rich in culture

host of cool ideas to help. and endless charm.



Who said Phuket was

all beaches and revelry?

Nick Redman tries an

authentic Thai on a trip

full of flavour.



Chris Haslam veers

off the tourist trail in

Namibia to discover

the land as it once was:

empty and magical.

6 0



58 60


The first of our new IN CAIRO

series highlights the Our Egypt insider goes

cultural charms of beyond the pyramids to

Tunisia's capital.

reveal the heart of Cairo.



Feel in need of a break?

We have a couple more

reasons to book a

weekend escape.



It's time we sent you

packing. Choose your

next adventure from

our exclusive offers.

8 worldtravellermagazine.com


Experience the alluring, golden desert landscape, the captivating silence of nature, the free-roaming

wildlife in the reserve, all enjoyed from your private suite and pool. Indulge in a luxurious desert adventure

with camel treks, horseback riding, falconry, archery, dune drives and more.





Emily Williams, dnata Travel’s resident globetrotter,

reveals the best places to hop on a plane to this month


There's much to love about Chicago in June. Make the most of the moderate weather and enjoy the open-air music,

food and art festivals, have a picnic in Grant Park, and browse the unique boutiques and outlet malls. A top spot for

foodies, you'll never go hungry here, with a variety of outdoor food festivals taking place throughout the summer,

offering dishes from around the world. And of course, you can try the famous deep-dish pizza at any time of year.

Highlights 1 Take a helicopter flight at dusk for breathtaking views of the illuminated city skyline with narration by an experienced guide.

2 Art buffs should head to the Art Institute of Chicago to see Manet’s works in the Modern Beauty exhibition running until 8 September.

3 Lose yourself in the Lurie gardens, an oasis of beautiful shrubberies and flowers in the middle of the city.

10 worldtravellermagazine.com


Amalfi Coast

Fly in to Rome and explore Italy’s ancient past before hopping on a domestic flight to Naples, or driving directly

to the dream-like Amalfi Coast. Take in some of the world’s most incredible coastal landscapes, with rugged cliffs

towering over boutique beaches, olive gardens and lemon groves. Highlights include Sorrento, which sits atop a cliff

with views of Mount Vesuvius, the colourful houses of Positano, and taking a boat trip to the island of Capri.

Highlights 1 Learn how to cook traditional Italian food just like mama, at Mamma Agata’s cooking school. 2 Walk the lemon path from Maiori

to Minori to see the golden fruits aplenty – a scene iconic of the Amalfi coast. 3 Consider travelling 4km to the bay of Conca de’ Marini where

you can discover the Emerald Grotto – a cave with an intense green hue.

worldtravellermagazine.com 11


In beautiful Langkawi, the oncoming wet season brings comfortable temperatures. Plus, it's less crowded. Best

accessed from Kuala Lumpur via a domestic flight, this coastal gem is geographically closer to Thailand than

mainland Malaysia. There’s much to explore across its 99 islets, with breathtaking beaches interspersed with

tropical rainforests and vibrant towns. Base yourself at a luxury resort for the perfect island escape.

Highlights 1 Climb aboard a boat and explore the mangrove forest where you'll see eagles flying above head. 2 Take an Instagram snap at new

heights: the pedestrianized, 410ft-long Langkawi Sky Bridge offers spectacular views worthy of sharing. 3 Head to the Langkawi night market

to pick up a bargain or two and soak up the bustling ambience.

12 worldtravellermagazine.com



It’s not surprising that the remote Indian Ocean island of Madagascar tends to make the bucket list of nature and

wildlife enthusiasts. Here, a high percentage of all plant and animal life, including the endangered lemur, exist

nowhere else on Earth. Fly in via African gateways to access its vast stretches of white-sand beaches, rainforests,

and even active volcanoes. In June, before the peak tourist season, rainfall is minimal and the flora is striking.

Highlights 1 Take a cruise to see humpback whales as they arrive for the summer months. 2 Head South to visit the city of Ambositra,

where you will find rich culture including Madagascar’s traditional wood-carving industry. 3 Go camping at Masoala Park, where you

can enjoy hiking the trails before bedding down for a night under the stars.

worldtravellermagazine.com 13




Be informed, be inspired, be there


Escape to the charming Savelletri di

Fasano, along Italy's Adriatic coast, and

be surrounded by ancient olive groves

at the newly renovated Masseria Torre

Maizza. This stylish Rocco Forte resort

in Puglia, set in an original farmhouse

dating to the 16th century, has 40 suites

with stunning views of the Apulian

countryside. We say book the new twobedroom

Torre Suite on the top floor of

the masseria’s original tower, and live la

dolce vita at the pool, 9-hole golf course

and private beach club.

Photo: Interni Restaurant © Margarita Nikitaki

worldtravellermagazine.com 15



Hot new places

to sleep, dine

and unwind

1 The Wild Hotel, Mykonos

If you're a fan of the Paola

Navone designed Interni

Restaurant in Mykonos,

then you'll love the island's

new hotel from the very

same owner: The Wild Hotel

in Kalafati Beach. Set in a

natural amphitheatre next

to a tiny beachfront village

that was once inhabited by

brave fishermen known as

‘the wild ones', the hotel has

40 suites and villas inspired

by traditional Grecian

architecture. It would be a

tragedy not to stay.

The Wild Hotel

Photo by Yiorgos Kordakis

Bed down in a Deluxe Double

The Wild Hotel

Located on a

picturesque cliffside,

this design-led

retreat has a dreamy

infinity pool with

views across the

Aegean Sea, a

private beach, and

The Taverna serving

classic dishes from

the Cyclades Islands.

The pool at The Wild Hotel

Photo by Yiorgos Kordakis

2 Hotel Hendricks, New

York City

Just one block from the

Fashion District and

Bryant Park in the heart of

Manhattan, this chic Big

Apple bolthole celebrates

its official opening this

month. With interiors

by LA-based designer

Marcello Pozzi, each of the

176 guestrooms boast ace

views of the Empire State

Building and the cityscape.

With two rooftop bars and

the Latin-infused restaurant

Carbonero, it's our new

favourite Midtown hotspot.

Hotel Hendricks

A little touch of

luxury amid the

hustle and bustle of

Midtown, you'll feel

like an insider here.

Be sure to head to

The Zoo rooftop for

panoramic views of

vibrant Manhattan.

A swimming pool with a view

The Zoo rooftop

3 The One Palácio da

Anunciada, Lisbon

This stunning retreat in

exclusive La Baixa is housed

within a restored 16th

century palace that was

once the home of one of

Portugal’s most esteemed

noble families, Condes de

Ericeira. Stay in the Tower

Suite for great views, dine

on traditional Portuguese

fare at Condes de Ericeira

Restaurant and seek out the

century-old dragon tree in

the magnificent gardens.

The One Palácio

da Anunciada

Staying here places

you at the heart

of the city's luxury

shopping district,

and close to the main

tourist attractions,

such as St George’s

Castle and the Santa

Justa Lift.

Make a grand entrance

16 worldtravellermagazine.com



There are many ways to cool off this summer in the waters of Sharjah. With diving,

kayaking, deep sea fishing and more to enjoy, it’s time to stretch your sea legs…

Kayaking in Kalba

Scuba diving in Khorfakkan

A sunset yoga session in Khorfakkan

Flanked by the Arabian Gulf to the

west and the Indian Ocean to

the east, Sharjah is surrounded

by beautiful stretches of coastline that

call adventure seekers to test their skills

on the water. But you don’t have to be

a seasoned watersports fan to take a

deeper dive into the emirate’s aquatic

allure. Just a short drive east of the city

centre (45 minutes to be precise, thanks

to the new tunnel along the Sharjah-

Khorfakkan road), is the picturesque

bay of Khorfakkan, which is home to

several seafront hotels. With a backdrop

of the Hajar Mountains, this cosy

enclave, which translates to the ‘creek

of two jaws’, enjoys cooler mountain

temperatures, making it the ideal spot

for a summer escape. Visitors can

take part in a host of water activities,

including scuba diving, and discover a

vibrant underwater world.

Further along the east coast is the

historic fishing village of Kalba, which

lays claim to Arabia’s oldest natural

mangrove forest. Get back to nature

by learning more about the area’s rich

ecosystem, which boasts many species

of rare, indigenous wildlife, such as the

eagle owl, that live amid the protected

Fishing in Khorfakkan

natural beaches. Go kayaking through

the mangroves and you can observe some

of the rarest bird species in the world

that thrive in the forest. Next, take an

educational trip to the nearby Kalba Bird

of Prey Centre to learn more about our

feathered friends.

Avid deep sea fishers will find a

reason to cast a line on either side of the

emirate. On the Arabian Gulf side to the

west, you can catch barracuda, kingfish

and trevally, while on the east coast you

may be in the running for yellowfin tuna,

dorado and sailfish.

If you fancy a day of undisturbed

relaxation or beach-side activities, the

beaches of Sharjah are sure to deliver. Al

Khan Beach, near the Al Khan historic

area, is a popular spot for active types as

well as those who prefer to slow down

the pace. Teaming beautiful scenery

with clean, safe waters and a range of

activities to suit all abilities, step into

the gentle surf and feel a wave of calm

wash over you as you ponder your next

big travel adventure.

To find out more, visit sharjah.com

worldtravellermagazine.com 17


Amber at The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong


Indulge in these gourmet

escapes in Asia's culinary

powerhouse: Hong Kong


To celebrate the reopening

of the two Michelin-starred

Amber, and the launch of

three new culinary concepts

– SOMM, Sushi Shikon and

Kappo Rin (the latter two are

limited to just eight seats) –

the Great Gourmet Escape

by The Landmark Mandarin

Oriental, Hong Kong is sure to

tempt you. Stay in a luxurious

suite, with a daily bubbly

breakfast, seven-course

dinner for two at Amber,

late check-out and priority

restaurant reservations.


Team a love of art and food

with the zen-inspired private

dining experience inside

Zhi-gang Lu’s art piece,

The Wonder Room, at The

Peninsula Hong Kong. Crafted

using meticulous woodworking

techniques, the complex

egg-shaped structure is a

modern take on the traditional

Chinese teahouse, and marks

the launch of Peninsula's Art

in Resonance programme.

Available until 21 June.


The updated volume of

this coffee table favourite

for globetrotters features

the best of the popular

travel series, with 150

bite-sized itineraries

of the world’s most

captivating cities. The

New York Times 36

Hours World, published

by Taschen, taschen.com

Starved of sleep? You

need the Sleep Collection

Journey at One&Only

Reethi Rah in Maldives.

The four-night escape

offers pampering sleep

goodies, soothing

underwater activities,

advice from a sleep trainer

and a 90-minute, slumberinducing

spa treatment.

Not for the faint-hearted,

Anantara Dhigu, Anantara

Veli and Naladhu Private

Island in Maldives now offer

IV Therapy. With sessions

for jet-lag, immunity

anti-ageing and more,

vitamins, minerals and

amino acids are introduced

to the bloodstream via an

intravenous drip.

Spotlighting places

around the world that

have inspired the famous

fashion house, the Gucci

Courrier collection

features patches that

reference Gucci's iconic

store in Piccadilly,

London. Selected pieces

are now available at

Maison Assouline Dubai.

18 worldtravellermagazine.com


The Langham Huntington, Pasadena


Follow in the footsteps of silver screen stars

by visiting these popular filming spots

What: Saving Mr. Banks, Murder She

Wrote, and more

Where: The Langham Huntington,


Filmmakers have long been drawn to the

property’s Spanish Mission architecture,

elegant gardens, and panoramic view

that epitomises the cinematic expression

of Southern California. Today, a new

tour by filming locations explorer Jared

Cowan will guide you on a cinematic

excursion of the hotel, with still images,

film clips and exclusive anecdotes from

industry execs bringing the experience

to life. The 90-minute tour ends with

cream tea in Lonny Lounge.

Get on the scene: Organised by

My Valley Pass and The Langham

Huntington, Pasadena. Available

until 14 July.

What: Aladdin

Where: Wadi Rum and Wadi

Disi in Jordan

Disney’s Aladdin, directed by Guy

Ritchie and featuring an all-star cast

including Will Smith as the Genie,

Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi

Scott as Jasmine, was shot between

Longcross Studios and Arborfield

Studios in the UK and the Hashemite

Kingdom of southern Jordan. On

location filming took place in the

stunning Wadi Rum and Wadi Disi

desert, where Lawrence of Arabia was

shot, with 150 locals joining the UK

crew to help bring the mysterious city

of Agrabah to life.

Get on the scene: Discover the desert

by glamping in a Bedouin style tent at

Wadi Rum Night Luxury Camp.

The filming of Aladdin © Disney

Lights, camera, action!

For the red-carpet treatment on your doorstep, make sure you're among the first to

stay at Paramount Hotel Dubai, which is set to open in Q3 2019 (it'll be the first ever

property by Paramount Hotels and Resorts in the Middle East). Located in Business

Bay, the design is inspired by Hollywood movie sets, with a screening room, Californiastyle

pool deck and more – even the General Manager is known as ‘the Director’.

Rooms and suites have cinema-inspired names, with exclusive behind-the-scenes

photography from the Paramount Pictures archive on the walls.

20 worldtravellermagazine.com





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



The Knowledge


How to holiday the sustainable way

Give your eco-credentials a boost with these tips for happy

holidays that don’t cost the earth


Choose your destination wisely.

“Travelling affects the environment so

explore your transportation options

and, wherever possible, try to minimise

your pollution,” says Randy Durband,

CEO of The Global Sustainable Tourism

Council (GSTC). Remember, you don’t

always need to travel far and wide to

have a brilliant break. There are many

destinations in and around the Middle

East, at which a variety of rich travel

experiences await.

Do you research. “Once you have

decided on your destination, check

for hotels and resorts that have an

active sustainability programme or

eco-friendly initiatives,” says Randy. If

the hotel has been certified by a GSTC

accredited body, it means it has passed

impartial sustainability checks. You

can also look into the eco experiences

and activities on offer. JA Manafaru in

Maldives, for instance, offers a House

Reef Cleaning snorkelling experience

that invites guests to help collect

foreign objects from the reefs. Atlantis,

The Palm in Dubai shines a light on

cultivating marine wildlife, most recently

releasing 15 baby sharks into the Gulf.

Pack lightly. “One’s carbon footprint

includes the amount of weight we

carry,” says Randy. Make an effort to

streamline your suitcase as much as

possible by packing mindfully. Simple

steps can make difference, such as

loading your holiday reads onto your

tablet instead of carrying the physical

books. Even the little things will count,

such as taking your new toothbrush

out of its plastic wrapper ahead of

your trip, so you’re saving space and

avoiding throwing away rubbish at your

destination, where you may not have

access to recycling facilities.


Shop consciously. “Don’t haggle for

the lowest price with a vendor who

makes in a week what you spend on

one coffee,” says Randy. Although it

may be tempting to battle it out for a

bargain, be mindful that what may seem

like little money to you could mean a

lot to them. You should also make sure

that your souvenirs don’t contain coral,

shells or wood products harvested from

unsustainable forests.

Swot up on animal rights. “As it comes

down to a matter of opinion, it's not

easy to state which animal attractions

are ethical, but you should always

do your research,” says Randy. “A

good source to learn about the issues

surrounding this topic is animondial.

com.” Although it may be cool to take a

picture riding an elephant, for example,

consider how these animals are being

treated before supporting it with your

money. Look into volunteering at an

animal sanctuary, where you’ll get to

meet animals up close in a safe and

ethical way.

Be a responsible guest. “Be conscious

of your destination’s environmental

challenges,” says Randy. “For example,

limit water usage when visiting desert

destinations.” Opting for showers over

baths, bringing your own reusable

water bottle to refill and making an

effort to reuse your towels are all easy

ways to consume less. If everyone

makes a small effort, it combines to

make a big difference.


Share the good stuff. “Write

favourable online reviews about

hotels and attractions that operate

sustainably,” says Randy. You can

influence others to make mindful

holiday choices through the photos

you share and the stories you

tell. Keep learning and spreading

awareness about how good it feels to

holiday with a conscience.

22 worldtravellermagazine.com


Rise and shine

Get set for a summer full of adventure at this family-friendly resort in Fujairah

*Terms and conditions apply.

Tucked away between the Indian

Ocean and the Al Hajar mountains,

natural beauty is a given at Le

Méridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, but

there’s more to this Fujairah favourite

than meets the eye. On top of sun, sea

and sand, this popular holiday spot is a

hub for thrill-seekers, with everything

from scuba diving to fly fishing,

abseiling and zip lining on offer.

Drive here from Dubai and you’ll only

need to endure a 90-minute chorus of

“are we nearly there yet?” until you’re

at the centre of all the action. Upon

arrival, check into a spacious Superior

Ocean View Room for a tranquil view of

the swimming pool and beach. Or, for

larger broods, The Penthouse Bedroom

Suite has more than enough space for

six people to bed down in style.

Head to the breakfast buffet where

the aroma of freshly roasted coffee

will get you into active mode, pronto.

Towel in hand, hot step it to Baywatch

village, which hosts the largest freeform

swimming pool on the emirate’s

East Coast. After a morning splashing

about, kids aged four to 16 can join the

Le Meridien Family Club, which has

a non-stop line-up of activities and

entertainment. Meanwhile, mum and

dad can check into Al Aqah Spa for a

relaxing couples’ massage followed by a

dip in the plunge pool.

Next, for some adrenaline-pumping

family fun, get warmed up for the

resort’s own obstacle course, the Al

Aqah Challenge. Featuring the firstof-its-kind

rope course tower on the

East Coast, you can take part in five

activities under the watchful eye of

the expert instructors. From zooming

through the air on the zip lines to

scaling the climbing wall, it’s sure to

bring out your competitive side.

After a jam-packed day, your appetite

will surely be reaching a peak. As luck

would have it, the resort is home to

eight dining venues. Sink your teeth

into delicious grills at the beachfront

Gonu, or head to Views Restaurant for

an east-meets-west fusion buffet and

live music. Alternatively, check out hot

new foodie spot Taste, which serves

flavourful Indian and Thai food.

What’s more, during the summer,

you can enjoy the full Al Aqah

experience for less, with Marriott

Bonvoy members saving up to 25%

and non-members receiving 15% off

everything until 25 September*.

To find out more, visit marriott.com

worldtravellermagazine.com 23

Wake up to dazzling sea views

A taste for luxury

Combine a love of food and travel at this Thai-inspired resort in Dubai, where

bespoke dining experiences and summer savings make it a trip to remember

In his Meditations on Gastronomy,

philosopher Jean Brillat-Savarin boldly

said, “The discovery of a new dish does

more for the happiness of the human race

than the discovery of a star.” With cutlery

in place of a telescope, Anantara The Palm

Dubai Resort promises to put a smile on

your face with its delicious line-up of

memorable dining experiences.

Famous for its over-water villas, this

luxurious resort occupies a premium spot

on the East Crescent of Palm Jumeirah,

delivering an idyllic beach experience that’s

within easy reach of the bright lights of the

big city. Currently, you can save up to 30%

on a One Bedroom Over Water Villa or a

One Bedroom Beach Pool Villa, complete

with a daily buffet breakfast for two. Once

you’ve found your feet, let the culinary

team whisk you off on a gastronomic

journey like no other. At the top of the

wish list is the bespoke Dining by Design

experience, which takes place on a secluded

slice of sand, offering a curated collection

of menus to pick from. Or, for a true taste of

culinary extravagance, you can collaborate

with a personal chef to tailor a fine feast

that ticks all the boxes. Candles set the

mood for this exclusive romantic meal for

two while the sea laps the shore, providing

the ultimate tranquil soundtrack. A butler

is on hand during the meal to tend to any

request you may have.

After a day swimming in lagoon, or

unwinding at your private pool, perhaps

you’re in the mood for a lighter evening

24 worldtravellermagazine.com


meal? Anantara’s Sunset Dining experience

allows just that. Relish the handpicked

selection of Mediterranean antipasti,

including international cured meats and

fine cheeses, as the amber and golden hues

of the sunset provide a blissful ambience.

It’s priced at Dhs600 per couple for

antipasti, dessert and a bottle of grape.

Those with exotic tastes can immerse

themselves in Anantara’s Thai heritage by

taking a cooking class at Spice Spoons. This

richly interactive, step-by-step cooking

experience will teach you how to make an

array of authentic Thai dishes. Not only can

you enjoy your creations for lunch, but you

can take your new skill back home with you

as a lasting memory of your holiday.

Once your appetite is satisfied, you

can round off your trip by trying some

of the non-foodie experiences on offer.

Watersports abound with waterskiing,

kayaking and wakeboarding fit for

thrillseekers. Those seeking a more

serene experience out at sea can try paddle

boarding or fishing. If you’re in the mood

to be pampered, you can indulge with a

traditional hammam or a tension-busting

massage. However you prefer to spend

your down time, this tropical paradise is a

magnet for all those with good taste.

To find out more, call +971 4 567 8888

or visit anantara.com

Join a Spice Spoons

cooking class

The Dining by Design experience takes

place on a secluded stretch of sand

worldtravellermagazine.com 25



Cool ideas for summer

Still sweating over your plans for

the summer? Fear not, we have the

answers. Lots of them. Whether

you fancy a drop in temperature,

endless sunshine or simply staying

put to take advantage of amazing

hotel deals, we'll take you there

26 worldtravellermagazine.com




Things don't get much cooler than Iceland's

soaring glaciers, and summer (when it's

warmer and sunny) is the best time to

explore their mighty magnificence. Do so

while strapped into a snowmobile.

New Zealand

The seasons are flipped below the equator

so while we're sweltering, New Zealanders

are throwing on their thermals and hitting the

slopes. Join them in the North Island and you

can ski on an active volcano at Mt Ruapehu.


You don't have to go to extremes to enjoy

cooler climes. Sydney is a brilliant city all year

round, and its temperate winter is perfect for

discovering it on foot and via ferry.

St Petersberg



The country's original Ice Hotel is rebuilt

every winter, yet its younger sibling, Ice

Hotel365, is a 20-room permanent palace of

ice – and a cooling -5°C inside.



Enjoy endless



1As the official hometown

of Santa Claus, you'd

expect the beautiful

wilderness of Finland's

Rovaniemi to be abuzz at

Christmas, but its appeal in

summer is equally magical:

24hr daylight, thanks to its

position on the Arctic Circle.

Plenty of time to pack the

likes of horseback riding and

husky rides into your day –

or even a trip to see Santa,

who's always on duty here.

2An archipelago that's

halfway between

Norway and the North

Pole, Svalbard is actually

home to more polar bears

than humans – and the

world's northernmost sushi

restaurant. Its polar summer

means it's in daylight until

the end of September, a time

when its fjords are flooded

by the arrival of whales, a

sight best observed by kayak.

3You don't have to head

somewhere remote

to bask in the glow of

endless daylight. During the

so-named White Nights of

summer (mid-June is the

peak), the sun never truly

sets on St Petersberg – cue

a time for myriad festivals,

concerts and alfreso parties.

worldtravellermagazine.com 27


Take your childhood dreams to the next level by bedding

down inside these luxury treehouses designed especially

for grown-ups. Set amid lush rainforest, Keemala in

Phuket (pictured), has seven treehouses, as well as the

cleverly designed Bird's Nest Pool Villas, so you can take

a dip amid the branches. For a touch of Maldives magic,

the Skyhouse with Bubble villa at Amilla Fushi calls

with its infinity pool extended over the treetops and the

bubble itself housing a telescope, daybed, and removable

roof for stargazing. If you're game for something a bit

more rustic, La Cabane en L’Air in France is a collection

of some 200 treehouses spread across the country. We

rate the Cabane Spa Vintage treehouse in Aquitaine,

which wows with its pink vintage car on the terrace and

breathtaking views of the Garonne Valley.

28 worldtravellermagazine.com


Beat the crowds to see one of these

in-the-know places

Opposite: A Bird's Nest Pool

Villa, Keemala in Phuket

This page, clockwise from top:

Aso Rock, Abuja; Tashkent; Sochi


With Emirates launching

three additional flights each

week from the beginning

of June, it has never been

easier to get from Dubai to

Nigeria’s capital city and seat

of political power. Abuja runs

at a different pace to Lagos,

with lots to do outdoors.

Take time out to visit the

imposing Aso Rock before

exploring the many green

spaces, such as Millennium

Park, which was designed by

world-renowned architect

Manfredi Nicoletti.


The capital and largest city

of Uzbekistan, Tashkent is

a hotspot for culture buffs,

with more than 2,200 years

of history and almost 50

museums to discover. Start

by paying a trip to the

State Museum of History of

Uzbekistan, one of the oldest

museums in Central Asia

with more than 300,000

exhibits. Next, embark on

an architecture tour to take

in the beautiful mosques,

madrassahs and skyscrapers.

There are five flights a week

from Dubai, via Flydubai – a

route that launched in March

this year.


This Black Sea city, which

hosted the 2014 Winter

Olympics and Paralympics,

teams stunning scenery

with culture thanks to its

mountainous coastline and

historical sites. Take a peek

inside Stalin’s Dacha, the

historic summer residence

of Joseph Stalin, and shop

the famous fruit markets,

stopping to taste a local

delicacy: Russian Lavash (a

baked flatbread) with a warm

cup of tea. Flydubai will

whizz you here from Dubai

from 7 June.

worldtravellermagazine.com 29




Its name may not roll of the tongue

(O, da! Eda!, which translates to

English as Oh, yes! That's food!) but

this annual Moscow festival (June

2-28) promises to serve up the whole

gastronomic panorama of Moscow,

giving guests the opportunity to

sample dishes from start-ups to

established restaurants and chefs of

the calibre of Vladimir Mukhin.

Nordic cuisine still commands

a seat at the top table of on trend

gastronomic fare and Copenhagen

Cooking is one of the biggest food

festivals in Northern Europe. For ten

days from 23 August you can gorge

on a smörgåsbord of Nordic dishes

cooked up by stellar name chefs.

The northeasternmost US state

of Maine is famous for its succulent

lobsters, so much so that there's a

dedicated festival - Maine Lobster

Festival, 31 July to 4 August – at

which 19,000 pounds of the coveted

crustaceans are cooked up. If you're

partial to a lobster roll, this is where

you can chow down on the ultimate

grilled sandwich.

30 worldtravellermagazine.com


Try out a soon-to-be

family favourite


Disney splashed a sum that was out of this galaxy to land the Star

Wars franchise, and continues to invest heavily in it. Before the finale

to the original series of movies drops in December, Star Wars fans

have long anticipated the opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, a

14-acre Star Wars land added to both Disneyland in California (open

now) and Disney World in Florida (opening in the fall), both of which

reportedly cost a cool $1 billion to build. Rides include Millennium

Falcon: Smugglers Run, which puts riders at the control of Han Solo's

legendary ship, and the forthcoming Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance,

an interactive battle against the First Order. May the force be with you.


With the idea to offer a hotel on wheels, the new Caledonian Sleeper

service, which hits the tracks from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow,

is the first time you can spend the night in a double bed on a UK railway.

Departing London a little before midnight, your pyjama-clad clan can

bed down in an en-suite Caledonian Double and wake in Scotland to

Highland porridge with honey for breakfast. Adventure awaits.


Before The Bear Grylls Survival Academy opens on Ras Al Khaimah's

Jebel Jais next year, you'll have to travel to the UK or US to partake of

his exhilarating adventure courses, designed for fathers and sons, and

mothers and daughters alike. The Primal Survival Family Adventure

teaches myriad survival skills as you cross testing terrain for 24hrs. This

is what happens when you call a child Bear.

Left: Mikkeller & Friends,


Inset: Star Wars: Galaxy's

Edge © Disney

worldtravellermagazine.com 31



Feeling overwhelmed with life? Push

the reset button in the lush green jungle

of Lipa in the Philippines, where The

Farm at San Benito is offering a new

mental health programme for those

who are affected by depression, stress,

and anxiety. A 90-minute drive south

of Manila, this holistic medical wellness

resort has a team of professionals

on hand to help rid you of unwanted

thoughts. Expect psychotherapy

sessions, hydrotherapy and daily

movement activities, including mandala

flower arrangement, with nourishing

homegrown vegan food aplenty.

Yoga buffs can practise their sun

salutations at Samujana in Koh Samui,

which promises to refresh body and

mind with its health and wellbeing

holidays. Each of the villas have a

private infinity pool for moments of

reflection, and little touches make it

easy to kick-start a healthier lifestyle,

with yoga mats in the living room,

nutritious snacks in the mini-bar,

meditation apps on the in-room mobile,

and a delicious detox menu to dine

from. You can book a one-, two- or

three-day programme that'll hook you

up with healthy meals, yoga sessions,

pampering spa treatments and more.

If being a master in the kitchen feeds

your soul, you can take time out to learn

some culinary skills at Sauce by The

Sauce by The Langham

Langham, the new informal cookery

school at the five-star hotel in London.

There are classes to suit all confidence

levels and abilities, including Building

Blocks for enthusiastic home cooks,

which will put you through you paces

by honing your knife skills, teaching you

how to make fresh pasta, and helping

you learn the basics of preparing stocks

and sauces. With up to 12 people per

class, it's a great way to meet likeminded

foodies, while focusing on you.

Throw caution to

the wind

The white sands, swaying coconut palms, and glistening

waters of the Indian Ocean can be all yours at Naladhu

Private Island Maldives, which is now available for private

takeovers. Here, you and your entourage (there are 20

houses dotted across the island) can craft a tailor-made

stay, with everything from snorkelling with sharks to

picnics on the sandbanks just a finger click away.

32 worldtravellermagazine.com




1To the desert. Channel

your inner David

Attenborough by getting

an up-close view of indigenous

wildlife, such as Arabian oryx

and gazelles, albeit from the

comfort of your temperaturecontrolled

infinity pool, at Al

Maha, a Luxury Collection

Desert Resort & Spa, Dubai.

An enduring favourite for a

traditional Arabian experience,

the resort is nestled amid the

golden dunes of Dubai Desert

Conservation Reserve.

2To the city. If it's

sweeping views of the

skyline you're after, the

new voco Dubai more than

delivers. Situated in the heart of

all the action on Sheikh Zayed

Road, each of the rooms have

floor-to-ceiling panoramic

windows, so you can gaze at

the city in all its glory.

Clockwise from top:

Al Maha, a Luxury

Collection Desert

Resort & Spa, Dubai;

voco Dubai; JA Hatta

Fort Hotel; Mandarin

Oriental Jumeira,


3To the sea. If you've

already stayed your way

around Palm Jumeirah,

it may be time to nudge

yourself along the coast a little

to Mandarin Oriental Jumeira,

Dubai – the emirate's closest

beachfront resort to Downtown

Dubai. Hit the sand for an early

morning sunbathing session,

dine overlooking the sea at The

Bay and be pampered in the

spa – just be sure to request a

room with a sea view.

4To the mountains. A

firm family favourite,

JA Hatta Fort Hotel is

a happy hideaway set against

the stunning backdrop of the

Al Hajar Mountains. There are

plenty of ways to get active

here, from exploring the

rugged bike trails, to hiking in

the mountains, whizzing down

the zip line and kayaking in the

lakes. You'll feel a world away.

worldtravellermagazine.com 33


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


Amanpuri, Thailand


Stories from journeys

far and wide

CUBA p36



worldtravellermagazine.com 35


This page: A dapper

gent with outsized cigar

poses in front of Havana's

traditional architecture

Opposite: Vintage pink

American convertible

36 worldtravellermagazine.com


How to do


Colonial mansions with crumbling facades. Big,

fat cigars, revolutionary billboards, salsa and

sandy beaches — you’ve seen them all in your

travel fantasies. Now let expert Claire Boobbyer

show you how to make the dream a reality...

worldtravellermagazine.com 37

ith its cigar-smoking

rebels, sparkling

seas, vintage vehicles,

potent music, and

locals who survive

on their wits and humour, Cuba will

almost certainly steal your heart. But like

so many seducers, this tropical island,

shaded a Socialist red on the map, is

complicated. It's at once gorgeous and

falling apart; ridiculously rich in culture,

but short on basic goods and common

conveniences. (Cuba's not for you if you

need Instagram connection 24/7; or if

you don't handle train cancellations well;

or if you come over shaky when you can't

find a breakfast latte with soya milk.)

The island's fairly large and packs in

a lot of encounters and experiences, so

you'll need two weeks to do it justice.

For us, that means seeing the highlights

and a bit more: the capital Havana; lush

Viñales Valley; Trinidad and Santiago

cities; and the distant east - jungly Oriente

is Cuba's best-kept secret and you won't

regret stretching your time. Anxious

about bypassing urbane Santa Clara

and coastal Cienfuegos towns? You'll

get more colonial grandeur and better

beaches on the route mapped out here.

Delays and safety concerns make

domestic flights a bad idea and car hire is

expensive and convoluted. Instead, do as

most travellers do and take cross-country

coaches or hire a car and driver. Pack

patience, flexibility, your sense of humour

and your glad rags. Cuba's infectious

magic will knock you sideways. From

cutting-edge art and hip-swivelling music

to wild beaches, colonial hotspots and

brilliant B&Bs, here's how to pack it all in...

DAYS 1-3


Havana is utterly beautiful. Not quite

the starlet she once was, perhaps, but

her 500-year-old bone structure is still

there, in primped-up plazas and swanky

mansions. The city is Cuba's political and

cultural capital and, more prosaically,

has the biggest airport for arrivals. Most

flights touch down in time for dinner

and drinks, and you'd be nuts not to take

advantage. From the airport, Havana is 40

minutes by taxi via a flipbook of socialist

billboards. Few places on Earth offer

stays in such splendour for such great

value - think Spanish colonial romance

These pages, clockwise from

above: Mural of revolutionary

Che Guevara in Plaza de la

Revolution, Havana; Cuban

local in traditionally colourful

dress with hand-rolled cigar;

fishing off the Malecon at

sunset; a dish of fried octopus

38 worldtravellermagazine.com


meets Art Deco. Havana is a city on the up,

and you'll find its coolest creative types

on the rooftop at El del Frente (O'Reilly

303). Come and dine alfresco, then slip

into speakeasy-feel Cero Habana (Aguiar

209). Prefer somewhere more established?

Anyone with a guidebook will know about

Ernest Hemingway's favourite haunts.

By all means take a stool at his favoured

spot, El Floridita (Obispo 557), and drink

in the long, classy lounge and live music

along with your drink. But avoid La

Bodeguita del Medio (Empedrado 207),

which does the city's worst Mojito.

The plundered loot of Spain's Latin

American empire was funnelled through

Havana for more than 200 years, via the

so-called treasure fleets. And the silver

cascading through the Atlantic-facing

city needed protection — with forts

mostly built by African slaves — to defy

those pirates of the Caribbean. Havana's

wealth was later bolstered by sugar

exports, and profits were invested in

handsome bricks and mortar. Now those

Old Havana streets are made for walking,

between UNESCO-protected Baroque

churches, bougainvillea-draped portals,

lofty mansions, muscular fortresses and

kerbside cafés. The four main plazas —

Catedral, Armas, Vieja and San Francisco

— are highlights. Devote time to the

plush presidential-palaceturned-Museum

of the Revolution, which charts Cuba's

history of rebellion. In the Museum of

Fine Arts, take a guided tour of the Cuban

collection (make for the avant-garde and

contemporary art floors). Artsy types

can go further with a curator-guide

(Sussette Martínez; sussem@gmail.com),

visiting artists' home-studios: maybe see

a Cadillac converted into a submarine,

or a Che Guevara 'Turin' shroud.

Wherever you're going, grab a rickshawstyle

bicycle taxi for speed. Havana's

almendrón taxi system — classic cars

running fixed routes — has disintegrated

somewhat. Now, you'll pay $6-$9 for

taxis for journeys of up to 4km. The

hop-on-hop-off circulating red tourist

bus is for people with plenty of time.

Shimmy along for matinee rumba at

tight, sweaty and untouristy El Jelengue

de Areito in Centro Habana, a dilapidated

residential zone. After dinner, look

out for the green light bulb on Calle 11

marking under-the-radar La Casa de la

Bombilla Verde, to hear live nueva trova

worldtravellermagazine.com 39


These pages: Viñales

Valley in the Sierra de los

Órganos mountains

40 worldtravellermagazine.com


music. Your next address is the city's

Fábrica de Arte Cubano for challenging

photography, singer-songwriters,

avant-garde dance and the chance to

mingle with Cuban entrepreneurs. Do

this lot and you'll have captured Cuba's

political, social and cultural zeitgeist.

You can sleep when you get home.

Take the strain off your feet on your

last day in Havana and make your way

through Centro by bicycle taxi for a

window onto street life — having first

bought a cigar factory ticket, available

from any hotel. The H Upmann

Factory tour reveals one of the world's

most aromatic and elaborate crafts.

Buy cigars from official 'Habanos'

stores only (on the street, you might

get fakes made of dried banana).

If cigars aren't your bag, try a farmto-table

cooking class at organic

paradise Finca Tungasuk (tungasuk.

com) in buried-in-the-bushes Caimito,

40 minutes from Havana. Or make like

Rihanna in Havana and hire a Cadillac

with driver (malecon663.com). Explore

the two castles defending the Bay of

Havana, then motor to the leafy, artsy

El Vedado district, home to weddingcake

mansions, top paladares (private

restaurants), and music venues. After

snapping the monumental Plaza de

la Revolución, step into Christopher

Columbus Cemetery for the largest

communion of marble angels in Latin

America (see a husband's devotion

embodied in bronze, stone and Lalique

glass at Catalina Lasa's tomb). In the

golden hour before sunset, cruise up

and down Havana's seaside boulevard,

the Malecón, with its hymn to fabulous,

colourful architectural eclecticism

Toast your time in Havana with a drink

on the roof of the Kempinski hotel; you'll

have a great view of curlicued motifs on

theatres and museums. Partygoers should

end the night dancing salsa in front of

a live band at alfresco Club 1830. In the

Old Town, music-crawl the lounges of

Calle Obispo: La Lluvia de Oro is a winner

for its old-time looks and live bands.

DAYS 4-5


Rise early for Víazul's 9am coach to

Viñales, 180km west of Havana. You'll

want as much time as transport allows








in the town and its lush valley. UNESCOprotected

Viñales Valley is a vision of

velvet-green mountains rising from

palms, tobacco plants and ruddy red soil

tilled by oxen and plough. Besides the

country air, its greatest draws are the

organic food, horse-riding and rockclimbing.

And you'll see much better

valley sights than those tipped in the

guidebooks on a walk with a guide from

the Visitors' Centre (close to Hotel Los

Jazmines; 8.30am-5pm). Otherwise,

stroll around a private mogote with

farmer Omar from Casa Omar y Mayra

(casaomarymayra@gmail.com), or ask

your B&B to help you hire horses for

a guided ride to the unspoilt Valley of

Silence. Swap valley sunsets the next

day for tangerine-coloured starfish at

Cayo Jutías, a sparkling white beach

that's an easy day-trip with one of the

travel agencies on the small main strip.

Or hire a taxi to take you to the tobacco

farm of Hector Luis Prieto (hectorfinca.

com). He does a superb tour and creole

lunch for a bargain price. The insatiable

could squeeze in both by private taxi.

DAYS 6-7



There's no quick fix to reach Trinidad,

but it's a must-visit for its pistachio-and

cinnamon-coloured homes, dreamy

palaces, and coppery horses ridden by

mangón (very good-looking) cowboys

trotting through town. Víazul's daily

bus from Viñales takes nine-and-ahalf

hours (or rent a car). But if you're

prepared for a little organised chaos,

you can keep it to six or seven hours by

taking collective taxis. Vintage vehicles

pick up passengers from Viñales B&Bs

and drive them to a highway restaurant;

you could then be shifted to another

vehicle and redirected to Trinidad. It

worldtravellermagazine.com 41


sounds like a jumbled plan, but go with

it you'll never be stranded in Cuba.

Trinidad was central to Cuba's 19thcentury

sugar boom, and its wealthy

sugar barons enshrined egos in stone:

palaces embellished with all the finest

furniture, frescoes and chandeliers

money could buy. You can sleep amid

the grandeur at some of the small city's

finest homes. The next day, gain full

immersion by just wandering. A cluster

of music venues, all within a stone’s

throw of each other, makes flirting with

each one a cinch. Top dazzler is Casa de

la Trova, a traditional colonial home with

live bands and a patio for dancing. If you

know the moves, wait at the edge for a

partner to approach. If you're a learner,

standby, too. It's the only way to improve

and Cubans are accommodating.

Morning light spills over Trinidad

in a golden sheen. Photographer Julio

Muñoz has been capturing life there for

years. His easy manner and contacts

make his street-photography tour a

nuanced introduction beyond the city's

UNESCO-protected chocolate-box façade.

Later, climb the observation tower at

the Cantero Palace history museum,

where a central fountain once sprinkled

eau de cologne for the ladies and spirits

for society gents. Look out for the faces

of Trinidad's elderly folk exquisitely

carved into abandoned door pieces at

the gallery of Lázaro Niebla Castro.

DAYS 8-10



Santiago is steeped in history, humidity

and a rocking music scene. With

African, Haitian and Jamaican roots, its

vibe is more Caribbean than Havana's.

To get there from Trinidad, don't spend

a day on Víazul's direct route: (12hr

50min); instead take a $50 taxi to Sancti

Spíritus (about one hour north) and

catch the 3.10pm bus or an overnighter

(9.10pm and 1.50am; 10hr 20min).

Don't pack all the sights into your

first day — plan a siesta, breaks on the

Casa Granda hotel terrace or coffee at

museum café Casa Dranguet. Explore

highlights of the 500-year-old historic

core on foot: the first governor's

mansion and the Moncada Museum,

charting Fidel Castro's rise to power.

Start the night at funky alfresco chess






café, Café Ajedrez, with its live bands,

followed by evening ensembles at Casa

de la Trova, and a storming end-ofnight

salsa shiver at Bar Claqueta. Next

day, swap city for country and hire a

car and driver through Out of the Box

(outofthebox.zone). Plan to take in

glorious Avenida Manduley mansions in

the Vista Alegre district, Fidel Castro's

tomb at magnificent marble Santa

Ifigenia Cemetery, and impressive

UNESCO-protected El Morro Castle

at the mouth of Santiago Bay. Time

your visit for the sunset cannon-firing

ceremony. Fancy carnival? Come in July,

prepared for stifling temperatures.

DAYS 11-14



Baracoa is spellbinding. Some of the

world's smallest species of bird, frog

and bat live here, as does the rainbowcoloured

hyper-local natural beauty the

polymita snail. These small wonders

inhabit the coconut palms, cocoa trees,

coffee bushes and pine forests of this

Atlantic region. When Christopher

Columbus first glimpsed the wild

beaches and green slopes in 1492, he

wrote there was 'so much beauty that

I can find no words to describe it'.

A Víazul bus from Santiago at 7.40am

can get you to this tropical enclave in

time for lunch. Climb the hill to Hotel

El Castillo for lush views of anvil-flat

mountain El Yunque, and map out the

following days' plans. For wild beach

exploration, head south, going off-piste

on hired bikes (baracoabikerental.com)

or in a cab ($30 return). At Manglito

Beach, sink into an Adirondack chair

with a drink, and order fresh seafood

from Tato's food shack. Hike up through

palms the next day to El Yunque's

summit. The views of the nibbled

Atlantic coastline — a jade-green

forest hemline against a peacock-blue

sea — are awesome. After that you'll

want relaxation. You can find it at

Maguana, the cutest beach corner in

Cuba, a rugged 22km north of Baracoa.

Then grit your teeth, book a cab

to Baracoa's bus station, and catch

the 1pm coach all the way back to

Havana (17hr 30min). If you squeezed

in a dip in the area's glassy River

of Honey, legend says you'll return

to Baracoa. You know you will.

Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call

+971 4 316 6666 or visit dnatatravel.com

Credit: The Sunday Times Travel Magazine/ News Licensing

42 worldtravellermagazine.com

These pages, from left:

Maguana Beach, Baracoa;

a Cuban bass player heads

to a gig

worldtravellermagazine.com 43


This page: The pool

at Amanpuri

44 worldtravellermagazine.com


Blazing curries, festivals sizzling with street life,

buildings as pretty as patisserie — who said Phuket was all beaches

and revelry? Nick Redman tries an authentic Thai

omewhere I stopped in at a café

laced with bougainvillea and

open to a street that smelt of

washing powder and incense.

I was heading to fill my face at Naka

night market, beyond Phuket Town, but

the server wiping the laminated pink

tablecloths pulled me in with her grin.

Her doughnuts, just shaken from the

pan and billowing steam, sealed the

deal: puffs of hot, sweet, delicious air.

With a tankard of sugar-laced iced tea,

I must have consumed 2,000 calories

— and I still hadn't had dinner.

When I eventually located it, Naka

market was a welcome sight. Sweetpotato

balls skittered around deep pans

of oil, trailing bubbles, while skewered

squids the colour of tangerines spat

in lines over orange coals. Roe-topped

sushi glistened like fat pink brooches,

drawing Thai families and backpackers

alike into a mild scrum. And that,

as they say, was just for starters.

I'd come to Phuket, essentially, for

a beach holiday, despite knowing that

Thai purists often roll their eyes at the

mention of the name: overdeveloped,

overpriced, basically just over, as tinier

idylls tempt more intrepid travellers.

Sure, in places, it's all gone a bit Patong,

the brazen resort of R-rated stage shows.

And yet, in a week, I found an island of

rare, delicious flavours: magnificent

wildlife, surreal landscapes and blissful

solitude. All that and great food.

It was Aunt Yai and Uncle Nun who'd

whetted my appetite, a Thai couple who

welcomed me into their kitchen in the

shadow of a massive banyan tree by the

sea. It looked reassuringly traditional











— even the roof was tin, the kind you

see in so many fishing villages. But

enjoying their authentic southern Thai

cooking hadn't entailed a showerless,

sleepless week in a hammock on some

Alex-Garland-scary remote sands.

Quite the opposite — they were inhouse

at Rosewood Phuket, the recently

opened resort I was staying in.

Wanting to have a foot in the real world,

not a perimeter fence between, the hotel

had talent-scouted around and found

their future chefs stirring up a storm in a

casual joint loved by the neighbourhood.

And now here they were, working their

magic for a global guest list. It was so

much more credible than importing

some highly paid international type

with an eye for culinary appropriation.

I liked the setting, Emerald Bay, and

I also liked the Rosewood: a jumble of

Modernist-cubic pavilion residences

knee-deep in jasmine and hibiscus,

smartly furnished with standing mirrors

in ebony-tone frames, drum lampshades

and stained dark floorboards.

This was, of course, a globally

recognisable canvas, which only served

to counterpoint the appeal of Uncle

Nun and Aunt Yai's homegrown cuisine.

Gesturing enthusiastically, they singled

out ingredients for their dishes —

currently lurking in the slate-green

stillness of their pond. Here a grouper,

there a sea bass and behind, in the corner,

a few scuttling blue crabs. A least one of

these would soon reappear in my gaeng

poo: a blazing regional curry speciality

with gossamer-fine noodles brought

steaming to my table under a hazy moon.

Their tour de force was moo hong, a

southern Thai favourite you might call the

signature dish of Phuket. After hours of

simmering in a treacly mix of coriander

root, star anise, soy sauce, palm sugar

and peppercorn, it was cinnamon-sweet

and sludgy-soft, a tinglingly delicious

experience I don't recall from the menu

at my nearest Thai back home. Some

have linked its flavour, soy in particular,

to Chinese influences — most likely

imparted by settlers, who arrived in

droves in the 19th-century, when the

Phuket tin industry was growing to

meet American canning demands.

I'd tried the curry already, in Phuket

Town, my first port of call after landing,

checking in at 2 Rooms, a charming

'30s-style side-alley lodge with a

gramophone and teak-look bed. Woven

with multicultural threads, the island's

informal capital is surely its most

underrated attraction. Despite exuding a

modern, urban feel in places, at its historic

heart it was good enough to eat, in every

respect. Raya restaurant was the kind of

place you wish would open up on your

worldtravellermagazine.com 45


street, with its giant ceiling fans, cool green

walls and epic menu. That said, its gaeng

poo was the main event, milkily innocuous

to behold at first, but flaring suddenly on the

tongue and wonderfully bitter with turmeric.

Another day I inhaled the heritage

of ancient Muslim traders: the sight of

Yameay Mosque with its emerald green

domes; the aroma of a chicken roti at Abdul

Murtabak's place, a simple institution lined

with framed engravings of Mecca. Lock

Tien, Phuket Town's local-food centre, did

delicious Hokkien (as in, fried) noodles —

another Sino-influence. And as my time

in town coincided with Chinese New Year,

I watched fireworks crackle in the night

above teeming, steaming street markets

dispensing dumplings and grilled seafood.

For afters, the grid streets delivered a

visual feast of dwellings, with work spaces

at ground level known as shophouses.

The result of Portuguese and Chinese

colonial currents merging, they displayed

stunning pastel-painted facades. But

the centre was no museum piece. Local

hipsters were on hand, drinking lattes

in blond-wood places with names like

Bookhemian and The Shelter Coffee — a

welcome hit of real-life modern Phuket.

After this, I was set for more immersion

in recipes and rituals. The finale to my

barbecued-prawn dinner at the Anantara

Layan Phuket Resort wasn't any old ice

cream, but a bowl of scoops gently flavoured

with Thai basil. As Phuket moments

go, it was lovely, although ultimately it

lost out to the magnificent tallow glow

on the horizon as the day drained away.

Everything looked enchanted, down to the

mysterious forested island in the bay, amid

the coffee-cream swirls of low-tide sands.

Time for a reality check: next day was

market day in Patong, a 25-minute drive

south for me, in the company of the resort

chef, Hong. Like Rosewood, Anantara

seemed adept at dissolving the barrier

between tourists and Thais, inviting them

to accompany Hong to busy Banzaan Fresh

Market for produce to make into dishes with

a Phuket-flavoured twist, back in her kitchen.

At the entrance, ready-mix trios of fresh

beansprouts, tofu and chives were piled in

bundles, the ingredients of pad Thai. So far,

so Spinny's. But as we moved deeper, things







grew more visceral, with the shattering

crack of cleavers on chicken feet, the sight of

muddy shrimp paste in bags and the smell

of fish-gut marinade, months old, prepared

to flavour southern curries. Hong advised

against even touching some of the fish to

which Western digestive systems might well

be unaccustomed. 'We have bacteria. We

grow up on this,' she said, while describing

one lurid specimen. 'If you eat, maybe you

poo poo.' I rubbed pungent betel leaves

between my fingers, and in doing so got the

ubiquitous smell of Thailand: a faintly bitter,

chocolate aroma that had been tickling

my nostrils for days, something almost

sedative. The landscapes had the same effect

that afternoon on a slow drive inland.

Sunshine turned the telegraph wires silver

as if spun by giant spiders, then it pooled

green on expanses of forest floor. Sometimes

we passed pineapples glinting among

stretches of rubber trees, or glimpsed blackand-white

cattle with egrets, by a lake, on

our bucolic glide to Phuket's more feral side.

If it sounded run-of-the-mill tourist, the

Phuket Elephant Sanctuary, our destination,

was the opposite: a dignified and thoughtprovoking

encounter with another slice of

real Phuket. The visit began with a video

showing the hideous ways humans have

treated Thailand's pachyderms over the

centuries, forcing them, with nails, cuts

and burns, to submit to a life carrying

heavy loads of timber or holidaymakers.

But the mood soon lifted when we came to

walk with the residents in their managed

wilderness: one of a pioneering few in

Thailand committed to rescuing victims and

releasing them into a contented retirement.

The animals were mesmerising to

watch, sometimes up close, sometimes

from raised lookouts laden with bananas,

to encourage curious trunks. I really fell

46 worldtravellermagazine.com

This page, clockwise

from above: Khao

Phing Kan (James Bond

Island); evening lantern

lighting ceremony

at Anantara Layan

Phuket Resort; a fresh

salad with rice and

cooked shrimp)

worldtravellermagazine.com 47

This page: Sala Pool

Villa at Anantara Layan

Phuket Resort

48 worldtravellermagazine.com


Credit: The Sunday Times Travel Magazine / News Licensing









for Jan Jao, encountered in the shade of

a mangosteen tree, her slow-flapping

ears speckled with sunlight, pink and

grey like terrazzo flooring. She moved

idly, huge hollowed temples above

eyes as kindly as those of a favourite

grandmother. Madee I was more wary

of. Arriving late to meet us by a banquet

of fruit, she thumped her trunk on the

ground, producing a weird woodwind

sound. She was in a bad mood, a ranger

said — a co-resident of hers, Kannika,

had come first and got stuck in without

her. Madee popped a whole watermelon

into her mouth as if it were a grape. After

all, she had a bit of catching up to do.

Phuket offered up plenty of even wilder

moments, wilder shores, too: beyond

the main island, it splinters into palmy

specks, sprinkled across the surrounding

seas. On a boat east into Phang Nga Bay, I

spent a morning transfixed by sea eagles

soaring overhead, circling the towering

limestone karsts that have made the

marine park famous. One, Khao Phing

Kan, is better known as Christopher Lee's

private island in the James Bond film The

Man with the Golden Gun. Topped with

rainforest vegetation it resembled the last

decayed tooth left in some centenarian

giant's gum, every bit as strange as it

had looked on celluloid back in 1974.

Attracting tourist longtail boats, it

was better from a distance. Besides,

the bay held so much more: chattering

bats speckling the dim cave interiors

of Hong Island, into which we kayaked;

and the floating village of Ko Panyi,

settled centuries ago by Indonesian

Islamic emigrants. Here was a Phuket

the crowds of Patong never see: a seagypsy

stronghold with a golden-domed

mosque visible for miles. Wandering the

pier-like floors was creakily atmospheric

in the hot lull of late afternoon.

Something of Ko Panyi's sedate

spirituality seemed to inhabit my last

hotel, Amanpuri — perhaps because it

resembled a place of worship rather than

a resort, with its flaring pagoda roofs

and decorative basins of moody water. I

bedded down well before midnight, rising

early to breakfast on kai yad sai: omelettes

made lace-thin, filled with shrimp and

vegetables. Staff glided around with the

faint tick-tack of flip-flops, depositing

little rectangular golden vases upon tables,

each holding a single lotus flower. If I'd

needed definitive proof that Phuket was

not shabby, then serene Amanpuri was it.

It was hard to believe this place opened

three decades ago — its Asian minimalism

looked as if it had been created last year.

And yet, despite the airy, understated

architecture, I felt I'd been drawn into

a silent commune of platinum-card

privilege and purity, set on its own private

peninsula, peering out from coconut

palms. Guests wandered about with yoga

mats under their arms like enormous

cheroots, reinforcing the apparent

resort USP: determined relaxation. The

food, from sushi to seasonal fruit, was

supermodel-delicate. I swam out and

climbed on to the pontoon in the bay for

some perspective on the place — in vain.

'My obstetrician said to get a Belly Bandit

online,' I heard a women tell her friend,

describing her recent pregnancy as they

lazed. 'It literally reminds your organs

where to return to after the distension.'

Where was the real Phuket when I

needed it? At 4pm, a Thai lady materialised

atop the central stepped sala pavilion,

pulled out a griddle and set about cooking

pancakes called khanom krok, some

of them filled with sweetcorn, others

shimmery with coconut. It was a daily

ritual, I learnt. OK, Naka night market

it wasn't, yet the appearance of street

food was like the breaking of a spell. A

polite scuffle erupted among the slim

and the wealthy, soon chatting and

scoffing on the steps. Not wanting to

be a calorie singleton I grabbed a plate

and, vowing to buy my own Belly Bandit

back in England, got stuck in to a last

real-but-perfect piece of Phuket.

Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call

+971 4 316 6666 or visit dnatatravel.com

worldtravellermagazine.com 49

These pages:

Elephants at sunset in

Etosha National Park

Remote control

So famous is Namibia's tourist-trodden self-drive circuit, it's known simply as

'Route One'. Chris Haslam veers off track to discover the destination as it once was

50 worldtravellermagazine.com


here are many things in

Namibia that can kill you,'

announces the welcome

video cheerfully, as a lion, a

Cape cobra and a scorpion

flash across the screen.

'But the biggest killer,' chirps

the narrator, 'is speed.' Cue a montage of

wrecked rental vehicles - identical, but for

the broken glass and torn steel, to those

in the car rental depot. The backpackers

who've spent the safety briefing scrolling

on their phones go pale. A German

lady hisses at her husband: 'You told

me Namibia was safe.' But despite this

sobering introduction, Namibia really

is Africa's safest, most effortlessly

explorable nation. Self-driving in Namibia

makes it easy to be intrepid. Part road

trip, part safari, it's two bucket-list trips

for the price of one. It's affordable, too,

with flight-inclusive self-drives much

cheaper than in South Africa. And, at

the wheel of a 4WD, the driving is epic.

It's for these reasons that so many

excited visitors fly in to Windhoek, ready

to depart on the famed tourist trail

they call Route One. It heads southwest

to the dunes of the Sossusvlei, then

loops north for the adrenaline sports

and Baltic-style seaside charms of

Swakopmund. From here, it's a six-hour

drive further north to reach the wildlife

of Etosha National Park. But Namibia is

fifth on the list of the world's emptiest

countries (with just three people per

square kilometre), so it doesn't require

many tourists to feel crowded.

Two decades ago, I wandered the

Sossusvlei like a lonely ghost in a Dalí

landscape. These days, such solace

is impossible. There's a car park full

of coaches, overland trucks, and that

backpacking couple. Instagrammers

queue at the Deadvlei for a photograph

with the skeletal camel thorns. There'll

be huge Chinese tour groups enjoying

Kaffee und Kuchen on Swakopmund's

prom and, as you watch lions drinking at

Etosha's Okondeka waterhole, you might

hear that German lady whisper 'Ist es

sicher?!' ('Is it safe?!') To experience the

cinematic desolation and spectacular

wildlife that Namibia is famous for, you

need to leave the herd. But it's not as

daunting as it sounds. All you need is

the ability to read a map, an awareness

of your limitations in what can be a

merciless land, and the desire to find

places so wild, so lonely and so alien,

they'll make you breathless. Scared,

even. Just as Namibia is supposed to.

So, back to the safety video. Which you

definitely need to watch. After which

you’re shown around a brutish Toyota

4WD. There's the sat nav, the sand jack

for digging yourself out of trouble, the

tyre deflator, the spare jerry cans, the

spade, the axe, the fire extinguisher,

the worryingly comprehensive firstaid

kit and a tracking device that

can monitor your speed: 120kph on

tarmac roads and 80kph on gravel,

where most accidents occur. Exceed

that and your insurance is void.

Then there's the optional rooftop

tent. I've never taken one because

deep down I know there'll be a night

when I'll forget I'm sleeping 2.5

metres off the ground, leave the tent

worldtravellermagazine.com 51


to mark my territory and break my

neck. And then get eaten by hyenas.

I start my journey with a 520km

drive up the B1 from Windhoek to

the Damaraland and Huab Lodge, a

halfway house on the road to nowhere.

For the first three hours, the road is

smooth, shimmering tarmac. Then I

reach Outjo and take the C35, the first

of the bone-shaking gravel roads. Two

hours later, at a lonely spot marked by

a large, dead python, I turn onto the

D2670. It's mostly dust, so I use the tyre

deflator to get more grip. A lappet-faced

vulture watches from a rock. I know

what he's thinking. It's just 30km from

here to the lodge, but it takes an hour.

I thought that two nights at this

eccentric little camp — eight thatched

huts overlooking the dry bed of the

Huab River — would be enough, but I

was wrong. The birdlife is astonishing:

I count 26 species from my terrace

and, as we're drinking sundowners,

nightjars are hunting around the bar.

At dawn, the riverbed is a alive with

wildlife: oryx, giraffes, zebra and kudus

commuting along its sandy path. That

afternoon I spend a thrilling four hours

following the spoor of a huge leopard

that ultimately does what leopards do

best and vanishes like a Cheshire cat.

A giant eagle owl watches wisely from

a tree. I know what she's thinking, too.

It's only as I'm leaving that I notice the

swimming pool and nearby hot spring.

I told you two nights wasn't enough.

Four hours east, past the gold

mines and cattle farms of central

Namibia, a track off the B1 brings

me to the Mundulea Nature Reserve:

120sq km of former cattle country

that's being returned to nature. Black

rhinos, cheetahs and giraffes are

among the species that have wandered

back in, accompanied by zebra, roan

antelopes and black-faced impala.

It's dark by the time I arrive. Entering

the camp is an experience somewhere

between Edgar Rice Burroughs and

Apocalypse Now. Bleached skulls,

flickering hurricane lamps and twisting

paths leading to big, simply furnished

safari tents. By the campfire, owner,

guide and conservationist Bruno Nebe

is expounding on pangolins. On another

fire, sorcerer's apprentice Patrick is

cooking a three-course dinner — baking




bread in an oven made from an old fire

extinguisher. Apart from some iffy solar,

there's no electricity. No phone signal.

No wi-fi. Owls, jackals and a distant

leopard provide the background music to

a safari camp so remote that Bruno only

opens it when he has enough bookings

to justify the expense. Lucky for me,

then, that Tim and Pauline are here.

Early retirees from the UK, they did

Route One last year, but knew instantly

there had to be more to the world's most

beautiful nation. So this year, they rented

a 4WD and went off the beaten track.

Together, we spend three days walking

with Bruno. It's like being shown Africa by

Gandalf. He dodges jade-green boomslang

snakes lurking on low branches, tracks

his beloved pangolins with a radio

antenna and, at one point, drops a rock

into a dark shaft in the karst and blithely

mentions that he doesn't know how deep

it is because when he climbed down he

ran out of rope before he hit the bottom.

I part company with Tim and Pauline in

the dusty, low-rise town of Otjiwarongo.

They're off to explore the rock paintings

of the Erongo Mountains. I'm heading

northwest into the Kunene, an otherworld

of unclimbed peaks, sparkling gravel

plains and river canyons running into a

fogbound dune belt, where they disappear

before reaching the cold Skeleton Coast.

With skill and the right kit, you can

self-drive the Kunene. But if you get

lost, break down, or upset the elephants,

it can be a one-way trip, so it's best to

park the car and call Caesar Zandberg,

one of the three best desert guides in

Namibia. If you thought your rental 4WD

was well-equipped, wait until you see

Caesar's chariot: a 4.5-litre turbo-diesel

V8 Toyota J7 Land Cruiser with a snorkel,

twin fuel tanks, solar panels on the roof

and enough kit to turn any shady corner

of the Kunene into a luxury tented resort.

I join Caesar a week after unusually

heavy rains have hit the Kunene. On

past visits, the place has been as dry

and bleached as a lost tourist's bones,

but it only takes a centimetre of rainfall

to unleash life. The hills and plains

are covered in bushman-grass baize,

and streaks of bright yellow devil's

thorn flowers stretch for miles like an

industrial custard spill. Most excitingly,

the Hoarusib River is flowing, bringing

waters of life from the Giraffe Mountains.

Caesar drops T-bone steaks the size of

telephone directories onto the woodfire

grill, tosses a salad — a Caesar

one, obviously — and refills my drink.

52 worldtravellermagazine.com

These pages, clockwise

from left: Little Himba

boy wearing traditional

jewellery; moon rising

over a dry river valley;

Vingerklip finger rock in

the evening light, near

the Vingerklip Lodge; a

black-backed jackal

worldtravellermagazine.com 53

These pages,

clockwise from below:

Animals reflect in

the sunset in Etosha

National Park; an offroad

vehicle with roof

tent parked beneath a

starry sky

He gazes across the ephemeral river

to where a couple of Himba kids are

minding their goats. 'There's good grazing

everywhere now,' he says. 'That means

the oryx, zebra and giraffes will disperse

into the far valleys, so we'll have to drive

further and look harder to find them.'

I'm delighted to hear that, because the

further we go, the less company we'll

encounter. A reliable way to estimate how

far you've come from civilisation is to

calculate your distance from the nearest

Starbucks. Standing on a nameless hilltop

in Kunene, I'm guessing the nearest

skinny almond caramel macchiato is

1,800km away in Jo'burg. I mention this

to Caesar, but he doesn't know what

Starbucks is, much less a macchiato.

The view from here is of apparent

lifelessness, but look closer: this hill

and its neighbours are cut with the

spiral scratches left by generations

of oryx, antelopes and zebra who've

come in search of the bonsai-sized

commiphora shrubs that sprout on

the summits, sucking moisture from

the fog. It's an astonishing sight. We

spot an oryx, and, far, far away, the

dust plume of another vehicle.

'Bloody tourists,' sniffs Caesar,

watching the distant speck through binos.

'They're overrunning the place.' That

night, we camp in a side-valley of the

Hoanib River. A campfire and a gemsbok







ragu turn this starkly beautiful spot into

the suite of my dreams, with 50-metre

sandstone walls and a ceiling made of

stars. We're discussing how the scarcity

of game makes the few sightings we've

had — that oryx, three zebra and a pair

of giraffes — even more memorable. At

that very moment, a pair of black-backed

jackals, led by their noses, turn up and

stand just close enough to the fire that

we can see itwws reflection in their eyes.

Next morning, Caesar stops the

Toyota in the exact middle of nowhere.

'The elephants are coming,' he says.

We scan the heat haze for 20 minutes,

and then, one by one, emerge nine

dusty pachyderms — mothers, aunts

and kids — following an ancient path

across the plain to the dune belt and

then, well, no-one really knows.

I only spend four days in the Kunene,

but it feels much longer. Time slows

down in the desert. Your senses grow

sharper. Water tastes sweeter and your

appetite becomes lion-like. Mysteries

abound: the Hoarusib, flowing wide,

deep and fast enough yesterday to

wash away a two-tonne Toyota is

dry as a bone today, and above Clay

Castles — a surreal canyon of Petralike

natural caves — a long-dead

explorer has spelt '26 Jan 1919' in rocks

scoured clean by the west wind. There

are moments of wonder — the frog

living in a shrinking puddle at least

80km from the next water source; the

slash-like trail of a Peringuey's adder

left on a dune — and moments when

you realise you're probably walking

where no human has ever been before.

This adventure has its downsides.

Souvenir shopping is limited to

rocks sold by Herero herders, or the

Himba pillow — a wooden affair like

the devices to prop corpses' heads in

mortuaries. The joys of queueing and

of socialising with other tourists are

absent, and when you do emerge from

the parched back of beyond, you may

find humanity a bit irritating. But

then, if you got off Route One in the

first place, you probably always did.

Inspired to travel? To book a trip, call

+971 4 316 6666 or visit dnatatravel.com

Credit: The Sunday Times Travel Magazine/News Licensing

54 worldtravellermagazine.com


This page: Soft,

colourful corals around

Lizard Island

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

worldtravellermagazine.com 55






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call 800 DNATA (36282) or

speak to us in-store

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Staycations and short-haul escapes


What may appear like a futuristic home

on Mars is actually a luxury retreat in the

heart of the Mleiha desert in Sharjah. The

recently-opened Al Faya Lodge places

you in the lap of nature, with wildlife

and stargazing experiences among the

highlights of this eco-friendly hotspot.

Originally built in the 1960s, the lodge's

three stone buildings have been lovingly

converted to house rooms, a restaurant,

library, a luxury spa and more.

worldtravellermagazine.com 57


Exploring Sidi Bou Said


Let us reacquaint you with this culture

spot that's ideally placed for a mindnourishing

mini break




magnetic combination of souks and

aromatic spices, desert dunes and

historic sites, Tunisia tells a gripping

tale. This year marks a shift in

perspective, with tourist numbers on the rise,

and capital city Tunis being crowned the Arab

Region’s Capital of Islamic Culture by the Islamic

Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

To gain a better understanding of the

destination’s old-world charm, we must first

rewind to the 12th-16th century when Tunis was

one of the greatest and wealthiest cities in the

Islamic world. Its special status gave rise to a

wave of monuments that are a testament to the

past. Within the Medina of Tunis, a UNESCO

World Heritage site, there are around 700

scattered across the old city, including palaces,

mosques, mausoleums, madrasas and fountains.

The modern district has a different appeal,

with many of the old buildings transformed into

museums and cultural centres, tea rooms and

restaurants. In the fashionable Les Berges du

Lac quarter, head to Patisserie Masmoudi (@

patisseriemasmoudi) to taste a traditional pastry,


... discovering Sidi Bou Said.

Just 20km from Tunis, this

clifftop town overlooks the

sparkling Mediterranean and

is thought to have inspired

famous artists and writers.

... making the 60-minute

car journey to the Dahmani

commune to view the 'cultural

Exploring Sidi Bou Said

cave' brimming with locally

produced modern art.

... embarking on a guided,

film lovers tour of the

such as the sticky-sweet makroudh, with a

Tunisian desert, the birthplace cup of green mint tea. To view east meets

of the original Star Wars saga.

west contemporary art, pop into Musk

and Amber Gallery (@musk_and_amber), which

is a showcase for Tunisian-heritage-inspired

pieces by local artisans.

Adventure seekers will find plenty to keep

them on their toes, with year-round activities

including golf, quad biking in the desert and

watersports (the beaches of Borj Cedria and

Ezzahra are just 20km from the city centre).

When planning a trip, bear in mind that April to

October is best for sea and sun, while autumn

and spring provide the ideal weather conditions

for boat trips and more active excursions.

In terms of where to stay, the beachside The

Residence Tunis is home to chic yet comfortable

rooms and suites, an 18-hole golf course, and

a luxurious spa famous for its thalasso spa

treatments. Villa Didon in Carthage places

you smack bang in the historical district, while

Concorde Les Berges Du Lac Hotel has a scenic

Dining on the beach

setting on the shore of Lake Tunis.

Photos courtesy of The Residence Tunis

58 worldtravellermagazine.com





Rich in history, heritage and culture,

the Egyptian capital is affectionately

known as the “Mother of the World”.

Habiba Azab tells us why

This page: The Great

Sphinx of Giza

Opposite: A Nile cruise,

photo by

Hassan Mohamed

60 worldtravellermagazine.com


With its bottleneck traffic, beguiling crowds and ancient tales,

Cairo is chaos at its most magnificent, fascinating and captivating

form. The fast-paced city’s constant buzz is the result of its 20

million strong inhabitants charming their way with their warm

smiles and exceptional humour. As the locals say, if you love Cairo,

it'll definitely love you back.

The sprawling capital blends the best of old-world and newworld

Egypt. Soaring minarets, historic mosques and some of the

greatest architecture of medieval Islam can only be found in old

Islamic Cairo. Meanwhile, a short cab ride away is the capital’s

other centre of antiquity, Coptic Cairo. Home to some of the oldest

churches and monasteries in the history of Christianity including

the Hanging Church, which served as the seat of the Coptic

Pope from the 7 th to the 13 th century. For a more modern outlook,

Zamalek is a cosy neighbourhood with local art galleries and

boutique gems hidden around every corner. Alternatively, Garden

City is the place to go for felucca rides, whereas Downtown Cairo

is the cultural hub of contemporary dance, music and art.

Cairo welcomes you with its mighty past and vivacious present.

And although it can be an assault on the senses, if done right you

can’t help but keep coming back for more.


From luxury abodes to boutiques boltholes, bed down in style

Once the hunting palace

of Egyptian Khedive

Isma'il Pasha, Marriott

Mena House combines

the charm of a bygone

era with service fit for

royalty. Rooms are

lavishly furnished with

exquisite rare antiques

and handcrafted furniture,

while The Sultan Lounge

is a memorable place

to start your evening –

cocktails as the sun sets

over the Great Pyramids

is an Instagram-worthy

moment to capture.

Boasting panoramic

views of the Nile river, The

Nile Ritz-Carlton lies at

the heart of the city. Take

a stroll back in time and

Le Riad Hotel

De Charme

stay in one of the 331 rooms

overlooking the historical

Egyptian museum, and then

taste signature Arabian

delicacies as the belly

dancers sway.

Just around the corner,

Four Seasons Cairo at

The First Residence draws

discerning travellers with its

stylish design, colonial décor

and opulent interiors.

Set amid lush ancient

zoological gardens, soak

up the scenery on the

open-deck pool followed

by a soothing body

treatment at the luxury

spa, which offers direct

views of the Nile.

Inspired by the grandeur

of the Ottoman Empire,

Le Riad Hotel De Charme

is a quaint lodging tucked

away in old town Cairo

with only 17 suites to

count. With its rich warm

colours, Fatimid traditional

prints and lovingly

preserved paintings, each

room evokes the romance

of old times.

Villa Belle Époque

is another boutique

gem hidden on the

quiet streets of Maadi.

Conjuring up French

summer vibes, this

charming white-washed

villa boasts 31 rooms,

13 of which are named

after an Egyptian city

combining contemporary

and traditional designs to

represent it.

worldtravellermagazine.com 61


street food

For a truly authentic

taste of the city, grab a

bite at these top stop-offs

It’s no surprise that

bustling Cairo is home to

an extraordinary variety

of rustic street fare; from

buzzing street food stalls

to eclectic local vendors,

there’s something for

every taste. You’ll know

you’ve reached KEBDET

EL PRINCE when you find

dozens of locals huddling

up and impatiently

waiting for their tables.

Start off by ordering the

heavenly molokhia with

rice and tender waraet

lahma, both local goodies

that’ll leave you wanting

more. Another authentic

dish that every visitor

should try at least once is

Koshari; a unique mixture

of rice, macaroni and

lentils, all covered with

a spicy tomato sauce,


has been ruling the roost

for years. While strolling

along the Corniche at

night you’ll find stands in

every nook and corner

serving HUMMUS SHAM.

The warm and spicy drink

is a very popular must-try

made out of chickpeas,

lemon, chili, along with

spices of your choice.


Looking to take home a

keepsake? Here are some


Incense: Intrinsic to the

worship of the gods and

goddesses of Ancient

Egypt, incense was

used to ward off evil

spirits. Choose between

many shapes, types

and fragrances to use

in beautifully crafted


Where to find it?

Khan El Khalili Market

Papyrus scroll: Another

item of ancient origin,

Papyrus scrolls were

man-made paper upon

which Egyptians kept

most of their important

records. Of course,

what you’ll find today

are just replicas of the

originals. However, with

hieroglyphic alphabets

and battle print scenes,

they look just as real.

Where to find it? Egypt

Papyrus Museum, Giza

Scarab beetle: Mostly

made out of alabaster

or granite, legend has

it that Scarab beetles

symbolize the Great Ra,

the deity and leader

of all Egyptian gods

who created himself

out of nothing. Ancient

Egyptians believed that

Ra was swallowed by

the sky goddess Nut

every evening as the sun

dipped down only to be

reborn every morning

representing renewal

and resurrection.

Where to find it?

Khan El Khalili Market

Fez “Tarboush”: Worn

by citizens and Pashas

from 1805 until 1952,

this cultural headgear

became a symbol of

modernity during the

Ottoman Empire. For a

true Bedouin look, wrap

a white turban around

your Fez.

Where to find it?

Moez street

Old is gold

With a history that dates back to 1382, Khan El Khalili

is one of the oldest flea markets in Egypt and by

far the most popular. Bask in the city’s rich history

and lose yourself in the winding alleyways of Islamic

historical buildings while haggling for gorgeous

antiques, handmade accessories, ornate perfume

bottles and traditional clothing. Book addicts,

meanwhile, should make a beeline to El Azbakeya

Wall, a book market that was first introduced in

the 19th century and displays more than 130 stalls

overflowing with old, unique and used books. If

you’re up for a splash of colour, Fokhareen Market is

brimming with pottery gems you simply wouldn’t find

anywhere else.

62 worldtravellermagazine.com

Opposite page, from top:

The traditional Egyptian

dish Koshari; Papyrus scroll;

Khan El Khalili Market, photo

by Zeyad Abouzeid

This page from top:

Muhammad Ali Mosque,

photo by Hassan Mohamed;

The Great Pyramids, photo

by Zeyad Abouzeid



Admire the splendour of Islamic

architecture in the City of a

Thousand Minarets

insider tips

Salma Ammar

shares insider

tips and tricks on

exploring the city

“Tipping, known as

baksheesh, is a huge

part of the Egyptian

culture. From waiters

to bathroom attendants, you pretty much

tip for anything and everything so make

sure you save those smaller bills. Of course,

a trip to Cairo is not complete until you’ve

seen a show featuring the famous Sufi

dancers. The plethora of twirling colours

flowing all around is magical and better

yet, free. Just head to the Al-Ghuri Mosque

on Wednesday and Saturday nights at

around 8pm for the dazzling show followed

by a quick detour to one of the most

authentic Egyptian culinary destinations,

Fashet Sumaya. Hidden down a quiet

lane in downtown Bab El Louk, here you

can enjoy traditional home cooked meals

served by Sumaya herself, the friendly

owner of the establishment. Her perfectly

seasoned lamb dish is a must-try.”



Home to one of the

oldest civilizations in

the world, Cairo is the

land of myth, legend

and deep-seated history,

and no trip is complete

without a stop at the

Great Pyramids of Giza.

The last of the ancient

seven wonders of the

world, the monumental

tombs are relics of

Egypt’s Old Kingdom

built 4,500 years ago

to withstand the test of

time, deeming them one

of the pure mysteries

of the world. Beat the

crowds by planning

your trip in the early

morning and don’t miss

snapping the all-time

classic photo of kissing

the Sphinx. Make the

Egyptian Museum your

next stop and marvel


its simplicity yet intricately designed, this

masterpiece wows with its creative use of slim

minarets, cascading domes, large chandeliers,

Thuluth inscriptions and beautiful globe lamps.

AL AZHAR MOSQUE. Considered a beacon of

theological authority to the entire Islamic world,

immerse yourself in a tale worth more than 1,000

years. With three minarets from the 14th, 15th

and 16th centuries, the mosque blends different

architectural styles while playing host to the

world’s second-oldest university for the Sunni

theology, Al Azhar University.


original mud brick form, this historical landmark is

the oldest mosque in city. Lying in the heart of old

Islamic Cairo, climb up the staircase of its minaret

(which was uniquely built on the outside) and soak

up a bird’s eye view of the old town.

at the beauty of more

than 12,000 ancient

antiques and artefacts

on display, including

royal mummies and the

infamous gold mask of

Tutankhamun. The City

of the Dead is another

must-see and a hidden

gem that’s hauntingly

beautiful. Known as

Cairo’s Necropolis,

the four-miles Islamic

cemetery holds tombs

of the world’s most

notable Islamic figures

and is largely inhabited

by citizens living

among the remains

of their ancestors.

With intricate shrines

inscribed with phrases

from the Qur’an,

the city exudes a

fascinating atmosphere

of life and death,

making it a truly unique


worldtravellermagazine.com 63



Spa serenity

Slip into a fluffy bathrobe and unwind on a pampering spa

break in the UAE capital. After all, you deserve it…

Photo: Desert Islands Resort & Spa by Anantara


Desert Islands Resort &

Spa by Anantara. Bringing

healing rituals al fresco,

you can enjoy treatments

along the seafront or inside a

private beach cabana at this

back-to-nature spa. Couples

can try the 120-minute Desert

Island Retreat package, which

includes a floral foot ritual, sand

scrub and full body massage.

Or, for a self-care moment, the

45-minute Makkakech Rhassoul

Wrap, will envelop you in

natural clay to detoxify the skin.

2Remède Spa at The St.

Regis Abu Dhabi. One

of the emirate's largest

spas, there’s ample space

to chill between treatments

here, including in the bubbling

Jacuzzi. Request a sea view

treatment room or plump for

the VIP Suite, where you can

unwind on the outdoor terrace

with a nourishing juice. The

exclusive St. Regis Splendour

package will lavish you with a

half-day of results-driven, topto-toe


3The Spa at Emirates

Palace Abu Dhabi.

Indulge the senses at this

Moroccan-inspired spa, which

has a traditional hammam at

its heart, complete with two

Jacuzzis, two steam rooms,

heated marble and an ice

cave. Once you’re suitably

scrubbed and buffed, the

relaxation room calls. Soak up

the tranquil ambiance before

carrying on your spa journey,

as the expert therapists tailor

treatments to suit you.

64 worldtravellermagazine.com



JW Marriott Marquis Dubai

Take your staycation experience to the next level at the world’s tallest five-star hotel


If you’re in need of a restful night’s

sleep, you’re sure to experience it here.

Bed down in one of 1,608 soundproofed

rooms or suites that tower above

the city, complete with views of the

twinkling skyline or the sea. During the

summer, you can save 15% off the usual

rate. Marriott Bonvoy members are

treated to more benefits still, enjoying

25% off and complimentary breakfast.


There are 15 award-winning restaurants

and bars to discover, including Japanese

restaurant Izakaya and glamorous

nightspot Vault, which has stunning

views of Downtown Dubai. The latest

addition to the culinary scene is

Masala Library by Jiggs Kalra, which

has mastered the art of molecular

gastronomy. We heartily recommend you

indulge in the great value tasting menu.


Occupying a premium spot along

Dubai’s main thoroughfare, Sheikh

Zayed Road, the hotel is within

easy reach of a roster of top tourist

attractions. Post sightseeing, there are

plenty of ways to unwind back at the

hotel. Take a dip in the outdoor pool or,

for a spot of pampering, head to Saray

Spa, where you can still the mind in the

UAE’s only Dead Sea floatation pool.

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

66 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



The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

Live the high life at this luxury hotel where views, fine fare and pampering define your stay


The height of sophistication, all 283

rooms and suites at this hotel on the

Corniche boast stellar views. We rate the

one-bedroom Al Hosen Suite (pictured),

which offers a generous snapshot of the

sea through floor-to-ceiling windows.

There are some fantastic staycation offers

for Eid al-Fitr, including complimentary

upgrades, dining credits and savings for

families booking two rooms.


There are six restaurants and bars to

discover, including Villa Toscana, which

will take you on a culinary journey to

Tuscany. For a taste of the season, sit

down to the delicious new Summer

Fruits Afternoon Tea at Crystal Lounge.

When the weekend rolls around, head

to the suits-all Family Friday Brunch at

The Terrace on the Corniche to indulge in

seafood, sushi and foie gras.


Kick-start you summer pampering

regime with a bespoke treatment at

Remède Spa, which is offering selected

treatments for less until the end of

August. Next, head outdoors to unwind

in a secluded cabana at Nation Rivera

Beach Club before stretching your

legs along the private beach. Kids can

scamper to Treasure Island Children’s

Club for some supervised fun.

To find out more, call +971 2 694 4444 or visit marriott.com

68 worldtravellermagazine.com

An Exquisite Eid Al-Fitr Staycation

Celebrate Eid al-Fitr with a family staycation to create lasting memories. Live exquisite in one of our

Superior Rooms or for the ultimate level of luxury upgrade to a Signature Suite. Located at the vibrant

heart of Abu Dhabi with a 200 metre stretch of pristine beach, overlooking the turquoise waters of the

Nation Riviera Beach Club at the finest address in the city.

Superior Room from AED 650* includes:

Complimentary upgrade to Sea View Room (subject to availability), AED 200 restaurant dining credit,

breakfast and 4:00 pm late checkout.

Signature Suites from AED 1200* includes:

AED 400 restaurant dining credit, breakfast and 4:00 pm late checkout.

Book one room and save 50% on the second room.

Perfect for families, connecting rooms available (subject to availability)

*All prices are in UAE Dirham and are exclusive of all applicable service charges, local fees and taxes. Offer valid from 1st – 15th June 2019.

The St. Regis Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates t. +971 2 694 4444 stregisabudhabi.com

©2019 Marriott International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Preferred Guest, SPG, St. Regis and their logos are the trademarks of Marriott International, Inc., or its affiliates.

Stay exquisite at more than 40 St. Regis hotels and resorts worldwide.




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Dublin, Ireland: Explore Trinity

College with a university insider,

before getting priority access to the

famous library and Book of Kells.

Book at dnatatravel.com

call 800 DNATA (36282) or

speak to us in-store

Download our app

Follow us on

• Holidays starting from US$1275.00

• Year round savings available, check

with us



The SOHO building in

Tokyo, Japan

"Although I've been to Tokyo

several times, I only discovered

this place on Instagram fairly

recently. So when I visited

last November, I knew I had to

find it. After a lot of extensive

research, I finally managed

to locate it – no easy feat

considering it's not a main

attraction in the city. Being a

hotel and private office space, it

was impossible to just go in, but

I was a man on a mission and

snuck in anyway to take the shot.

The guy in the photo is someone

that I met randomly along the

way and asked if he could kindly

pose for the photo. Thankfully,

he understood me and didn't

think I was a crazy tourist."


Travel photographer,

Loïc Lagarde, loves to travel

because "I can’t stay still. I

always need to be on the

move discovering something

new and exciting every day."

@loic.lagarde, loiclagarde.com



in high-res jpeg format, along

with the stories behind them to


com and you may end up

being featured

on this page

74 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 two-night stay at Qasr Al Sarab

Desert Resort by Anantara

Escape the city and sink into luxury at this traditionallystyled

desert resort on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. You'll stay

in a One Bedroom Anantara Pool Villa, with breakfast for two.

Chill out with a dip in your private plunge pool and take part in

thrilling sunrise and sunset desert activities. Or, you can simply

unwind at Anantara Spa. To find out more and to enter, visit

worldtravellermagazine.com/win (terms & conditions apply).


Let our travel news and round-ups, available to read on our website,

inspire your next trip…

1The Knowledge.

Read our handy

how-tos, from

getting to grips with

travel insurance to

helping kids beat jet

lag, and more.


Take a peek

inside these top

hotels and resorts on

your doorstep and

then book your next

mini break.

3Insider Guides.

Check out our


travel edits of some

of the most popular

holiday destinations

on our radar.

worldtravellermagazine.com 75


Suite dreams

Our monthly finish with a flourish, delving into a

suite that has a character and style all of its own

Suite Amour

Hotel Lutetia

It's easy to fall in love with this suite, which makes the

most of its vantage point at the pinnacle of the hotel with

a private terrace offering picture-perfect views across the

rooftops of Paris and the Eiffel Tower. It's one of seven

signature suites designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte at

this palace hotel in the St. Germain-des-Pres area of the

Left Bank. Back inside, ascend the staircase to the suite's

other main attraction, the stylish sitting room complete

with artworks and luxurious bespoke furniture.

76 worldtravellermagazine.com




this island sanctuary

welcomes you with breeze

and birdsong, candlelit dinners

and infinite views.

Just daydreams away

from the buzz of the capital,

you can lose yourself

in the peaceful luxury

of your own perfect universe.


Zaya Nurai Island Resort



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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