Imagine a luxury hotel in the heart of one of the most densely populated conurbations on the planet. Now fill it with attentive but unobtrusive staff, award winning chefs, and scatter it with private secluded rooms in extensive tropical gardens and run scores of bubbling brooks, rivulets and cascading waterfalls through its open areas and atria. And give it plenty of room; yes. Set its rooms on 10, nay 15, rolling acres of grounds purchased by its farsighted owners 40 years earlier.
We enter the Fairmont, which has a unique location down by the undeveloped waterfront. It’s situated just off a main street lined with restaurants and shops leading to one of the city’s universities.
They have been dubbed the Dad’s army of the sea, but this old rust bucket is being repurposed as a modern day Letter of Marque – the first in more than two decades.
“It’s the pimple of the North,” says the Italian man standing next to me on a crowded bus as it pulls away from Ferroviaria train station to make its way past the city centre and begin the steep climb up San Giusto hill. The roads are tight and windy as the sardine-packed bus edges its way deeper into the city, scrapping past rugged buildings and pedestrians who foolishly thought they’d be safe on the sidewalk.
The Sheraton Resort is part of and surrounded by the throbbing heart of Kuta … and yet, comfortably removed from Bali’s party central. You can rub shoulders with the hoi polloi or sit in your comfortable suite removed from it all, but still take part vicariously in the sights, sounds and – ah, yes – even the smells of Kuta night life.
You don’t have to be a gardener to appreciate the healing powers of a garden, whether it’s a shady spot under a big old fig tree, a leafy glade or a richly coloured, pillowy flowerbed. So when I push my way through the iron gates of the Adelaide Botanic Garden, I am instantly put at ease.
It’s 8am in Weggis on Lake Lucerne and our guide Roland stands at the bus stop across from the Post Weggis hotel waiting for the 8.04am bus. Around 45 seconds past 8.04am the bus arrives and I suggest the bus is late and the whole Swiss system is about to collapse.
Edgar Alan Poe called it the “imp of the perverse”, that little voice in your head that grabs you as you stand on a cliff edge or on a train platform that sometimes says, “Jump”. My imp is talking to me as I stand peering at the sea from my eighth-floor balcony onboard Holland America’s MS Noordam.
The words ‘old world charm’ can conjure up images of stuffy cupboards and dusty sideboards, so as I walk into Varenna – a restored 20th century homestead in the Blue Mountains – I’m pleasantly surprised to see its ornate cornices, beautifully crafted antique cabinets, elaborate silverware, and billowing velvet curtains.
There’s a new, or perhaps old, kid in town and it’s pulling both the punters and the posh crowd to Philadelphia. The Barnes Foundation is probably THE most talked about opening in the art world these days. Its list of holdings alone is staggering: 181 Renoirs (the largest single group of the artist’s paintings), 69 Cézannes, 59 works by Matisse, 46 Picassos, and 16 Modigliani’s are just some highlights. Barnes also befriended and collected American painter William Glackens (70 of his works reside at the Foundation).