LOUVRE AT LAST
Huge celebrations are expected in the United Arab Emirates in November when Louvre Abu Dhabi opens.
Said to be one of the most ambitious cultural projects undertaken in the world, Louvre Abu Dhabi is the first museum of its kind in the Arab world, and focuses on shared human stories across civilisations and cultures. It’s set in a building designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, who said the museum was opening after “11 years of studies and construction”.
His structure will be an attraction in itself. Visitors will walk through the promenades overlooking the sea beneath the museum’s 180m dome, comprised of almost 8000 unique metal stars set in a complex geometric pattern. Inside will be artworks, artefacts and loans from France’s top museums from prehistoric objects to commissioned contemporary artworks, and it will also house a children’s museum.
Symposiums, performances, concerts, dance, and visual arts by renowned contemporary and classical artists are planned for the museum’s November 11 opening.
The inaugural special exhibition,
From One Louvre to Another: opening a museum for everyone, opens on December 21, and traces the history of Musée du Louvre in Paris. Tickets for the museum will cost 60 AED (about $A20) for general admission and 30 AED for visitors aged 13 to 22.
MAKE AND TASTE BALI
Foodies and gourmet travellers have a new choice in Bali cooking classes.
Rimba Jimbaran Bali by Ayana has introduced a cooking school where hotel guests and visitors can learn the fundamentals of Indonesian cuisine – how to make a Balinese sambal or traditional gado gado, for example – using local ingredients.
The hands-on lessons will be conducted in an open-air structure with eight gas cooking stations and a central communal table crafted from recycled sailing boat timber. Guests can choose a class ($A80), or an immersive experience which includes a local market tour and Balinese offering ceremony ($A90).
LOUNGE FOR EVERYONE
Few of us can afford to fly first or business, but now we can all get a taste of the luxury life. The pay-per- visit airport lounge trend is spreading around Australia, with a new openaccess lounge opening at Melbourne Airport last week. The new Marhaba Lounge, located in the international terminal, is open to passengers departing Melbourne on any airline.
Lounge access costs $65, or $35 for kids under 12, for up to four hours.
Melbourne Airport’s chief of property Linc Horton describes the lounge as “a beautiful space with capacity to seat 200 people, featuring a million dollar view with a contemporary fitout”.
“We’re excited for the future and proud to open Australia’s first marhaba experience,” Horton says.
Facilities include showers, free WiFi, a buffet and selection of premium Australian wines. There’s also a quiet zone for relaxation and Hudson Coffee barista bar.
It’s the first lounge in Melbourne to offer non-member access. Most airport lounges at Australian airports are restricted to business or first class travellers with specific airlines, although a few – such as the SkyTeam Lounge in Sydney and the Plaza Premium Lounge in Brisbane – also allow access to paying customers, while Darwin Airport has the pay-pervisit Catalina Lounge.
The trend to non-airline lounges looks set to spread in Australia, with the president of dnata, Gary Chapman, foreshadowing further expansion plans.
INSTA HIP IN MYANMAR
Built in 1901, The Strand in Yangon is known as one of southeast Asia’s most enduring landmark hotels.
In contrast to The Strand’s colonial elegance, its management company, GCP Hospitality, has just opened a new generation of boutique hotel in the Myanmar capital, one sure to capture the Instagram generation as much as classic hotel lovers adore The Strand.
Hotel G Yangon is now open in the lively district of Yaw Yaw Mingyi, a few minutes’ drive from the worldfamous Shwedagon Pagoda and downtown Yangon with its historic colonial buildings, and a few minutes’ walk from Bogyoke Aung San Market and the central railway station.
The hotel’s open-plan lobby and adjacent Babett Eatery & Bar have been designed to be a communal space and all-day dining venue for guests and locals alike.
Similar to other Hotels G, its 85 rooms are classified from the base level up as “Good”, “Great”, “Greater”, and “Greatest”. Rates start around the $US60 mark including discounts available as an opening special.
In Australia, Hotels G is set to open a “Campus” hotel in Perth next year.
NEW ROOMS IN AUSTRALIA
Back at home, bush holiday-makers will be delighted that a cabin, caravan and camping park is set to be developed on the site of the historic Mt Gipps Hotel, about 13km east of Broken Hill.
The 1890 hotel, which shut down in 1987, is being redeveloped by outback NSW tourism brand Out of the Ordinary Outback, and will reopen in March next year as the Broken Hill Outback Resort.
As part of the plan, the original hotel is being renovated to house a bar and restaurant.
At the other end of the scale and further into the future, Canberra is getting a new luxury hotel.
Melbourne architects Fender Katsalidis, whose many projects include Hobart’s renowned MONA buildings, have been engaged to design a luxury hotel for the Garema Centre site in the city’s centre. It’s set to open in 2020.
The Louvre Abu Dhabi’s structure will be an attraction in itself.