AC­COM­MO­DA­TION BUZZ

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE -

Just about the hottest restau­rant open­ing in the US last year — sneak­ing in with a De­cem­ber 2 de­but — Sin­gleThread comes with a farm, res­i­dent for­ager and an inn up­stairs. It’s the per­fect spot to un­wind af­ter the 11-course tast­ing menu from chef, culi­nary sci­en­tist and Sin­gleThread founder Kyle Con­naughton, for­mer head chef of R & D at He­ston Blu­men­thal’s Fat Duck.

The name of the restau­rant and ho­tel, in pic­turesque Healds­burg in Sonoma wine coun­try, 90 min­utes north of San Fran­cisco, comes from the idea of a sin­gle thread of hos­pi­tal­ity that be­gins on the nearby farm of wife and co-founder Katina Con­naughton — pro­duc­ing heir­loom fruit, veg­eta­bles, herbs, honey, eggs and olive oil — and fin­ishes with a gift of a copy of the menu and pack of home­grown onion seeds.

Four gue­strooms and one suite above the restau­rant, de­signed by AvroKO, are light filled with a strong Ja­panese flavour and fea­ture be­spoke fur­ni­ture, Ma­touk linens and vases made by the Na­gatani fam­ily of Iga, eighth-generation Ja­panese master pot­ters who’ve also made much of the restau­rant’s table­ware. Even the pa­per ceil­ing lantern in the shape of an onion flower was cus­tom made by de­signer Jiang­mei Wu.

State-of-the-art tech­nol­ogy un­der­lies the sen­si­tively crafted look: in­de­pen­dent Wi-Fi in each room so guests can run their de­vices through the TV and sound sys­tem, iPad to con­trol light­ing, un­der­floor heat­ing and in the bath­room one of those con­found­ing Ja­panese Toto wash­lets.

DON’T MISS: Do a lit­tle re­search be­fore din­ner. The in-room iPad is loaded with the restau­rant wine list fea­tur­ing tast­ing notes and cor­re­spond­ing maps. Or make a cuppa us­ing the Te­fo­ria in­fuser, the lat­est in achiev­ing the per­fect brew.

DIN­ING IN AND OUT: Con­naughton brings not only his ex­pe­ri­ence at Fat Duck but sev­eral years work­ing at the three-Miche­lin-star Michel Bras Toya Japon in Hokkaido. There are three 11course tast­ing menus — veg­e­tar­ian, pesc­etar­ian and om­ni­vore — but th­ese can be cus­tomised to suit per­nick­ety Cal­i­for­nian palates. Din­ner be- gins with aper­i­tifs and the first cour­ses on the rooftop gar­den be­fore mov­ing down­stairs to the el­e­gant, beau­ti­fully crafted din­ing room where ev­ery­thing, from the screens to the knives and pots, is be­spoke. Ex­pect the likes of black cod with miso; 55-day dry aged rib of beef with eu­ca­lyp­tus, squash, pick­led onion, pear and chest­nut; or melon sor­bet with camomile tapi­oca and ver­juice sabayon. Home cooked break­fasts, Cal­i­for­nian or Ja­panese in style, are taken in your room.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: The restau­rant can be booked 90 days in ad­vance and the inn up to a year. The din­ing room is open Tues­day to Sun­day; the inn seven days.

CHECKING IN: Rooms from $US800 ($1059) a night; sin­glethread­farms.com.

ALSO TRY: Bel­mond Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons, Eng­land; Sooke Har­bour House, Van­cou­ver Is­land; The Louise, Barossa Val­ley.

CHRISTINE McCABE Taj Ho­tels Re­sorts and Palaces is build­ing a 75villa resort on a pris­tine white-sand beach east of Great An­daman in the An­daman Is­lands, re­garded as one of the most stun­ning lo­cales in In­dia; the Taj Ex­ot­ica Have­lock Is­land is sched­uled to open later this year • Oaks Ho­tels and Re­sorts ven­tures into In­dia for the first time with a 78-room ho­tel just 3.5km from the UNESCO-listed Ma­ha­bodhi Temple in Bi­har state; the four-star Oaks Bod­hgaya fea­tures an all-day din­ing restau­rant and rooftop med­i­ta­tion space • The open­ing of Dhawa Cayo Santa Maria sig­nals the first of four ho­tels in Cuba for Sin­ga­pore-based Banyan Tree Ho­tels & Re­sorts; a 90-minute drive from Santa Clara In­ter­na­tional Air­port, the 515-room resort fea­tures a pri­vate beach, great ocean views and a chil­dren’s club • Shangri-La has opened a sec­ond ho­tel in China’s Harbin; the 344-room Song­bei Shangri-La on the Songhua river’s north bank, a five-minute drive from the city’s fa­mous Ice & Snow World • London’s land­mark Man­darin Ori­en­tal Hyde Park has un­furled a Sir Peter Blake col­lage the size of 38 dou­bledecker buses across its fa­cade, con­ceal­ing work on a multi-mil­lion-pound restora­tion due for com­ple­tion next year; the ho­tel re­mains open through­out; mean­time the faces of reg­u­lar guests in­clud­ing Mor­gan Free­man and He­len Mir­ren gaze down on passers-by.

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