PINK GINS AND DISCO LEGO

Or­der up a cock­tail and get ready for a party in the sky, it’s time to cel­e­brate an­other year in travel

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - COVER STORY - KEN­DALL HILL

In the past year I took 66 flights, slept 132 nights in ho­tels, spent six weeks in In­dia, hopped is­lands in Greece and jour­neyed from Ethiopia to the Ar­me­nian bor­der. Here are my best (and worst) travel ex­pe­ri­ences of 2018.

BEST IN-ROOM AC­CES­SORY

A mon­key stick. Se­ri­ously. You’ll find them in the 37 suites at Aman­bagh re­sort in ru­ral north In­dia, in case guests need to shoo away cheeky lan­gurs that sneak in from the sur­round­ing bush­land.

AMAN.COM

EAS­I­EST VISA

On­line visa ap­pli­ca­tions are a boon for 21st-cen­tury trav­ellers but Tur­key wins the prize for ease of en­try. Would-be vis­i­tors com­plete the usual ap­pli­ca­tion ques­tions, trans­fer $US60 ($84) and then re­ceive an ap­proval email in about 60 sec­onds. It should be the model for e-visas world­wide.

SMARTEST HO­TEL LIGHT­ING

In-room light­ing can be a chal­lenge even at the best ad­dresses so it’s a re­lief to check into Phuket’s Sri Panwa re­sort (and sis­ter prop­erty Baba Beach Club in Hua Hin) to find touch lamps by the bed­side. No more hunt­ing down ob­scure switches in a semi­con­scious state, or hav­ing to master iPad con­trols to per­form a ba­sic func­tion. Just tap the lamp stem and let there be light (or not).

SRIPANWA.COM

BEST SUNDOWNERS

At Cape Town’s Eller­man House, a grand, 13-room man­sion ho­tel high on the hill above Bantry Bay, guests re­ally look for­ward to the end of the day. That’s when staff roll out the (com­pli­men­tary) gin trol­ley and canapes on the panoramic ter­race of Eller­man’s Bar Roc for sun­set cock­tails. The trol­ley stocks a range of bou­tique South African spir­its, such as Crux­land Gin in­fused with truf­fles from the Kala­hari Desert and pink Musgrave Gin fra­grant with rose­wa­ter and spices.

Paired with tonic, straw­ber­ries and a sprig of rose­mary, it’s a fit­tingly pink match for evening skies over the At­lantic.

ELLER­MAN.CO.ZA

MOST SUR­PRIS­ING SCAM

Per­haps the last place you’d ex­pect to get ripped off is Switzer­land, but it hap­pened to me last sum­mer. The Zurich taxi rort works like this: if you call and book a cab for a cer­tain time, ap­par­ently you’re sup­posed to be in the car and ready to go when that time comes. Oth­er­wise the driver can add an­other nine francs ($12) to the al­ready ex­or­bi­tant fare, as ours did even though she could see us walk­ing to­wards the car at the ap­pointed pickup time. We were too stunned by her nerve to ob­ject.

BEST HO­TEL LAUN­DRY DEAL

I’ve al­ways be­lieved ho­tel laun­dry pric­ing was a mas­sive rort un­til I checked into Alila Fort Bis­hangarh in In­dia. It’s a stun­ning ren­o­va­tion of a 230-year-old Ra­jput war­rior fortress but what I re­mem­ber most clearly is the laun­dry list: for a five-star ho­tel it’s re­mark­ably cheap. Guests can get any cloth­ing item washed, from socks to jack­ets, for a flat rate of 200 ru­pees, or about $4. It’s the best laun­dry deal since Mum did mine for free.

ALILAHOTELS.COM/FORTBISHANGARH

BEST AIR­LINE HACK

Qatar Air­ways op­er­ates a slick econ­omy ser­vice be­tween Aus­tralia and the Mid­dle East but it’s even bet­ter when you sit up­stairs.

QATAR’S A380 SER­VICES FEA­TURE A MUCH NICER UPPERDECK ECON­OMY OF JUST EIGHT ROWS

Qatar’s A380 ser­vices (ex- Syd­ney, Mel­bourne and Perth) fea­ture a main cabin of 394 econ­omy seats crammed to­gether, and an­other much nicer upperdeck econ­omy of just eight rows tucked be­hind the first and busi­ness­class cab­ins. The trick is, un­less you’re a plat­inum and gold fre­quent flyer you can’t re­quest an upperdeck seat un­til you phys­i­cally check in at the air­port. But it’s worth ask­ing, (a) be­cause the ser­vice is bet­ter up there; and (b) given seats can’t be re­served on­line, the cabin seems to fill last.

Fly­ing up­stairs in Novem­ber, I had two free seats be­side me. On the re­turn leg I had three.

QATARAIRWAYS.COM

BEST GREEK IS­LAND

Plonk me on any Greek isle and I’ll be happy but my pick is Mi­los, the horse­shoe-shaped is­land south of Athens. Its min­eral-rich soils have cre­ated a weird and won­der­ful place that ranges from the bone-white rock for­ma­tions of Sarikiniko to the blood­red shores and sul­phur-yel­low cliffs of Paliorema; the crayon-coloured houses along Klima’s seafront to main town Plaka’s clas­sic Aegean scenery. The seafood’s fab­u­lous too.

VISITGREECE.GR

BEST DO­MES­TIC AIR­PORT

Fun trivia ques­tion for avi­a­tion buffs: which Aus­tralian air­port op­er­ates at less than half its eight-mil­lion­pas­sen­ger ca­pac­ity each year and has a shiny in­ter­na­tional ter­mi­nal that han­dles just 14 flights a week ?

The an­swer is Canberra, and its sleek, empty and ef­fi­cient spa­ces are a breath of fresh air com­pared to Mas­cot and Tul­la­ma­rine.

BEST CITY TOUR

Se­ri­ous street­food fans should seek out Culi­nary Back­streets, a team of pas­sion­ate gas­tro-guides who lead tours in some of the great food capi­tals – Tokyo, Rio, Naples, Mex­ico City and New York among them.

On a calo­rie-packed eat­ing binge in Is­tan­bul, guide Gonca Karakoç took me for tea and Turk­ish bagels (simit) in a 16th-cen­tury car­a­vanserai be­fore we set­tled in for a full Turk­ish break­fast in­clud­ing men­e­men scram­bled eggs and wa­ter buf­falo clot­ted cream driz­zled in wild­flower honey. Then we wan­dered down al­leys through door­ways to more than a dozen food joints – a show of the city’s best baklava, boreks and piz­za­style lah­ma­cun, among other de­li­cious de­tours. As a fel­low eater said mid­way through our mov­able feast, “This is the most authen­tic thing I’ve ever done on va­ca­tion.”

CULINARYBACKSTREETS.COM

BEST GUIDE

Firew Rede Adele, known to all his guests as Freo, is a vet­eran Ethiopian guide with a smile as wide as the Blue Nile and an easy man­ner that puts vis­i­tors at ease in his home coun­try. Dur­ing a 12-day es­corted ad­ven­ture through South­ern Ethiopia, or­gan­ised by WA-based Travel Di­rec­tors, Freo’s long­stand­ing friend­ships with chiefs and lead­ers in tribal vil­lages gained us priv­i­leged ac­cess and in­sights into a world we never even imag­ined ex­isted.

TRAVELDIRECTORS.COM.AU

GREEN­EST RE­SORT

The 24 vil­las and 10 res­i­dences of Six Senses Malolo Is­land have been built to re­sem­ble a tra­di­tional Fiji vil­lage ex­cept for one im­por­tant de­tail – the en­tire re­sort is pow­ered by so­lar pan­els and Tesla bat­ter­ies.

Kiwi de­vel­oper-di­rec­tor An­drew Grif­fiths wanted to cre­ate a sus­tain­able prop­erty that would leave the is­land in a bet­ter state than he found it. It’s an at­ti­tude seen in ev­ery­thing from the on­site farm sup­ply­ing pro­duce to re­sort res­tau­rants to an old-school gro­cery where goods are stored in jars and packed in paper bags.

SIXSENSES.COM

BEST WILDER­NESS RE­TREAT

Fr­eycinet Lodge’s six new coastal pav­il­ions look across tran­quil Coles Bay to the $2200-a-night Saf­fire re­sort but cost a frac­tion of the price.

The new suites, crafted from Tassie oak, iron­bark and glass, crouch in pris­tine wood­lands with wa­ter glimpses through the ca­suar­i­nas. Book num­ber 65 or 66 for sweep­ing and un­ob­structed bay views.

FREYCINETLODGE.COM.AU

BEST NEW AUS­TRALIAN HO­TEL

In a crowded year for lo­cal ho­tel open­ings it was the four-year ren­o­va­tion of the old Para­mount Pic­tures HQ in in­ner-city Syd­ney into a 29-room inn that stood out.

The Para­mount House Ho­tel in so­hot-right-now Surry Hills of­fers jetset digs with all the trim­mings, from rooftop yoga and farmer’s mar­ket to a bustling cof­fee house, gas­tro­nomic wine bar Poly, Golden Age Cin­ema and a chic co-work­ing setup called The Of­fice Space.

It’s ho­tel as in­stant hotspot, and a most wel­come ad­di­tion to Aus­tralia’s ac­com­mo­da­tion scene.

PARAMOUNTHOUSEHOTEL.COM

WORST TRAVEL AC­CES­SORY

The sales as­sis­tant at Dubai air­port as­sured me the Swiss-de­signed, Thai-made Skross adap­tor would work any­where in the world. Ex­cept, as I dis­cov­ered, if you’re Aus­tralian and use three-point earthed plugs, which don’t fit in this $70 piece of use­less plas­tic.

MOST BIZARRE IN-FLIGHT SAFETY VIDEO

When was the last time (or even the first time) you boarded a flight and thought, “It’s a party in the sky!”?

That’s the catchcry of the lat­est in­flight video from Turk­ish Air­lines, which stars Lego Movie char­ac­ters such as Bat­man and Won­der Woman per­form­ing the pre-flight safety spiel.

The cre­ative con­cept’s fine, in­ven­tive even, but loses the plot when the aisle morphs into a disco and Lego fig­urines sing, “We’re gonna have a good time in the air tonight; It’s a party in the sky, Let’s pack our dreams and fly!”

Said no pas­sen­ger ever.

PIC­TURE: AMAN

Find se­ri­ous glam­our and ... mon­key sticks ... to keep cheeky vis­i­tors away in the suites at Aman­bagh re­sort in ru­ral In­dia.

PIC­TURES: ALILA HO­TELS, SRI PANWA, IS­TOCK, SUP­PLIED

IN­DIA Alila Fort Bis­hangarh in In­dia is mem­o­rable, like its laun­dry ser­vice; Phuket’s Sri Panwa re­sort ex­cels with touch lamps; Greek is­land Mi­los is weird and won­der­ful; cheers to Cape Town’s Eller­man House for its ter­race sun­sets.

GREECE

SOUTH AFRICA

THAI­LAND

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.