A STICKY SITUATION
MAD-ABOUT-FIJI Departure Lounge was in Lautoka last week for a day before boarding Queen Victoria. Just long enough to dine at Saffron, the terrific Indian restaurant in Nadi Town that locals and visitors alike seem to agree serves the best curries, tandoori and northern Indian fare on Viti Levu island.
Lounge had told her dining companions that the waitresses at Saffron customarily present a tray strewn with bindis for female diners to pop on their foreheads. On her first visit, Lounge mistook the little red stick-on spots as the world’s most microscopic appetisers and was on the verge of eating a handful. This time, thankfully, Lounge did not embarrass her table; the waitresses came around with an adhesive sheet and did the honours, looking slightly fearful of Lounge as she did so.
Saffron is off the main street of Nadi Town, near Jack’s handicrafts emporium.
Ask your hotel concierge to book a table: 670 1233.
NEWS from Karen Hoskison of Myola Plantation, a one-villa hideaway on the Fijian Coral Coast that she runs with husband Ian and a wonderfully attentive team of local staff, that it has won the unique accommodation category in the 2008 Fiji Excellence in Tourism awards. Lounge is thrilled for the Hoskisons that such a small but perfectly realised property has won against much bigger and better-known contenders.
To mark the occasion, Myola Plantation has a Celebration Stay and Cuisine Package for March, April and May: stay five nights, pay for four, and attend a complimentary cooking class. Also included are return road transfers from Nadi airport, meals and beverages. www.blacklabelretreats.com. Also see Travel&Indulgence ’ s coverage of a visit to Myola Plantation last year: www.theaustralian.com.au/travel.
Sofitel Fiji Resort & Spa at Denarau picked up the best restaurant gong in the Fiji annual awards for its popular outdoor eatery, Salt. And winners in other categories included the Heavenly Spa at the Westin Denarau Island Resort.
CONTINUING on an accommodation theme, following a mention in Lounge (February 9-10) that there will be a Travel&Indulgence Bali special on March 29-30, a flurry of readers have written in with details of their favourite hotels. Marilyn and Peter Fuller of Melbourne say they have been travelling to Bali for the past 12 years and have made ARMA Resort (Agung Rai Museum of Art) in Ubud their second home.
‘‘ This beautiful small hotel and villa resort is set in tropical gardens on either side of a small river,’’ the Fullers write. ‘‘ Each of the 10 villas has its own pool and garden and the ARMA complex also consists of two large galleries that house the private art collection of Agung Rai. He sponsors many of the local children in learning traditional dance and gamelan music. The lessons take place at ARMA every afternoon after school finishes and on Sunday mornings. Guests are always welcome to watch the children at their classes and we are particularly impressed that a considerable proportion of the tariff guests pay is allocated to maintaining Balinese culture.’’ Sounds delightful. www.armaresort.com.
THE prestigious Leading Hotels of the World group has released its 80th birthday directory in celebratory gold binding. In 1928, there were just 38 members, including the Ritz Madrid, which offered guests the unthinkable luxury of a telephone in every room; a single room at the Hotel Negresco in Nice cost a princely $US4.
Today’s rollcall is just shy of 450 and, in tune with 21st-century demands, there are supplementary categories of Leading Spas and Leading Small Hotels. The group prides itself on not soliciting members; like all the best clubs, one must wait to be invited. New to the mix are Karma Samui and Bo Phut Resort & Spa on Thailand’s Koh Samui island.
During the anniversary year, there will be various promotional tariffs, contests and charity auctions. www.lhw.com.
ANOTHER terrific accommodation collection, Small Luxury Hotels of the World, has released its 2008 edition and it’s a whopper. There are 440 properties included, 74 of which are new members. Small Luxury Hotels is increasing its reach to emerging and even unlikely destinations such as Guatemala, Mongolia and Bulgaria. In Australia, members range from the top-drawer Qualia on Queensland’s Hamilton Island to the 39-room, ultra-contemporary Smiths Beach Resort between Cape Naturaliste and Cape Leeuwin in Western Australia. Lounge rather likes the name of this Margaret River retreat’s champagne bar: it’s called Bouzy. www.slh.com.
FIND of the week: An amusing list from Scott Laming of online marketplace AbeBooks covers ‘‘ the world’s weirdest travel books’’. The site’s users have rated TravelbyCargoShip by Hugo Verlomme (1995) as the nuttiest (probably fits neatly into the pocket of a ship-spotter’s anorak). Another nifty handbook that polled well was OtherPeople’sBusiness: AGuidebookto87Companyand IndustrialToursinandNearOhio written by Jane Ware (1993).
EXPANSION is rife at Kiwi Collection, too. This one-stop accommodation site reports 50,000 unique visitors a day, a 460 per cent increase in traffic in the past 12 months. More than 2100 of the world’s best hotels, resorts, lodges, inns, camps and castles are featured. For some time Lounge imagined this group dealt in New Zealand properties but the name was chosen, apparently, as it’s easy for all nationalities to remember and pronounce. www.kiwicollection.com.
Lounge ’ s vote would have gone to FlattenedFauna by Roger M. Knutson (1987); it’s a guide to identifying roadkill on those long and uneventful driving holidays. www.abebooks.com.
LOUNGE loathes: Spas that take the hocus-pocus approach; sometimes one would simply settle for a massage rather than a yin-yang, renewal-of-life, awakethe-mermaid-within marathon.
LOUNGE loves: The clever Luxe Guides style-setters have added Chicago, Florence and Los Angeles to the range. These concertina guides, full of info and sassy opinion, look set to span the globe. $14.95 a pop. www.luxecityguides.com.
All smiles: Sheila and Rosi are among the attentive staff at Myola Plantation, which has won the unique accommodation category in the 2008 Fiji Excellence in Tourism awards