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MAY 2015 | OUR 36TH YEAR
AndrewHarper.com
T R AV E L I N G T H E WO R L D I N S E A RC H O F T RU LY E N C H A N T I N G P L AC E S
THIS MONTH
I S L A N D E S CA P E S I N
SOUTHEAST ASIA
Seductive resorts and hotels
in Thailand, Malaysia and
Indonesia
N E W R E S O R T S , S E N S U O U S S PA S , T H A I C U I S I N E
The Many Pleasures of Phuket
W YO M I N G A N D I DA H O
Rocky Mountain lodges for
multigenerational summer
vacations
W E B E XC L U S I V E S
Look for these symbols, then
visit The Hideaway Report at
AndrewHarper.com.
 = additional related article
 = slideshow  = video IN THE NEWS
Paris Debut
Sensation
SINCE IT OPENED in
January, La Réserve Paris
has garnered plaudits by
the sackful. Located just
off the Champs-Elysées,
the property offers 40
accommodations, of
which 26 are suites. The
building was designed by
Haussmann in 1854 for the
half-brother of Emperor
Napoleon III. Its interior
has been transformed by
designer-of-the-moment
Jacques Garcia at the
behest of hotelier Michel
Reybier (whose La Réserve
brand includes my recommended La Réserve
Ramatuelle near SaintTropez). The sumptuous
décor is complemented by
a spa with a 50-foot pool,
and Le Gabriel restaurant,
overseen by chef Jérôme
Banctel, who trained with
Alain Senderens at Lucas
Carton. I will publish a full
report in the near future.
LARESERVE-PARIS.COM
Infinity pool
overlooking the
Andaman Sea
at Point Yamu
by COMO
S T I L L R E L AT I V E LY U N S P OI L E D, P H U K E T P ROV I D E S A BL I S S F U L T I M E O U T D U R I N G A
sightseeing trip to Southeast Asia. Recently, the lush and hilly island off the southwest
coast of Thailand has seen the opening of several new hotels, including a property
by noted Singaporean hotelier Christina Ong, and the evolution of one of the best
restaurant scenes in Asia.
Tipped off to these developments by expatriate
friends living in Hong Kong, I added the island to
my itinerary during an extended visit to the region.
Phuket already has three of my favorite resort hotels
— Amanpuri, Six Senses Yao Noi and Trisara,
so I was curious to see how the new contenders
would stack up.
On arrival at Phuket’s international airport,
I was taken aback to see that many of the official
signs are now in both Russian and Chinese. Many
Russians, it seems, have bought property here as a
safe investment outside of the ruble zone, while the
Chinese have fallen in love, like everyone else, with
the friendly people, reasonable prices, delicious food
and gorgeous beaches.
V
iewed from afar, the 106-room Point Yamu
by COMO hotel has a slightly forbidding
appearance. A boxy modern structure, it is set on
a crest overlooking the Andaman Sea on Phuket’s
east coast, the side of the island that has spectacular
views but less desirable beaches. Since I’ve always
For personalized trip-planning assistance, call (800) 375-4685 or email [email protected]
AndrewHarper.com | For comments and inquiries concerning The Hideaway Report, please email [email protected]
been a fan of Ong’s other hotels, including COMO
Shambhala Estate in Bali and Cocoa Island by
COMO in the Maldives, I decided not to jump to
any conclusions.
The centerpiece of the open-air lobby proved to
be a colorful, stylized Thai altar with votive trays of
fruit. Long, lacy cylinder lamps dangled from the
high ceiling. We received a warm welcome from
staff dressed in airy white linen, then were shown
to our suite in the south wing of the building.
The hallways were mostly buffed gray concrete,
which is a long way from traditional Thai wooden
architecture, but small aluminum bowls filled with
floating chrysanthemums, and floods of natural
light, softened their appearance.
Our suite — the work of distinguished Italian
designer Paola Navone — proved a delightful
surprise. Stenciled white-and-gray floor tiles, an
overstuffed white linen sofa covered with throw
cushions, and a lapis lazuli ceramic-topped table
with limed oak chairs all contributed to a décor
that was stylish and contemporary yet practical and
extremely comfortable. The bedroom, which could
be completely closed off from the rest of the suite,
displayed commendable attention to detail, with
exemplary reading lights on long, flexible metal
tubes, and master controls on both sides of the bed.
An enormous bath provided a circular soaking tub,
a walk-in rainfall shower and COMO Shambhala
toiletries with scents of eucalyptus and rosemary.
French doors led to a small private sundeck — with
plunge pool — from which there were sweeping
views over the aquamarine expanse of Phang Nga
E XC U R S I O N S
Island-Hopping
THE BEST WAY to appreciate the beauty of Phuket
is to see the island from the
water. Phuket Adventures
WORLD offers a variety of
private speedboats and
yachts that will allow you
to visit lovely spots such
as Phang Nga Bay, Coral
Island, Racha Island, Koh
Keeyao, Koh Bon and
Koh Lone. The company
provides English-speaking
guides, refreshments and
snorkeling equipment.
Itineraries change according
to the tides. The Phi Phi
Islands are a great destination for beachcombing, but
it is best to get an early start
to arrive before the crowds.
PHUKETADVENTURES.WORLD
 More excursions online:
The Andaman Sea has
thousands of square miles of
pristine coral reef, making it
one of the world’s best diving
destinations.
A visit to the town of Phuket
reveals its rich history.
Bay. Having settled in, we ordered a room service
lunch, and a delicious array of Thai delicacies arrived
in less than 20 minutes.
As a result of its clifftop setting, Point Yamu
is not a beach resort. However, many people have
become cautious about getting too much sun, and in
some ways, it is more relaxing to spend an afternoon
by the saltwater pool beneath an umbrella than
actually to be on a beach. That said, the resort offers
speedboat service to a neighboring island ringed by
white sand, and is currently completing a private
beach club. Until that is finished, probably sometime
this fall, Point Yamu not only has one of the best spas
on Phuket — the COMO group is justly renowned
for the sophistication of its facilities — but the finest
restaurants of any hotel on the island. Nahmyaa is
extraordinarily good and serves delectable soups,
curries and stir fries inspired by Thai street food. La
Sirena, the casual poolside Italian restaurant, offers
delicious seafood, and its chefs make excellent use
of their wood-fired oven.
If you are looking for a beachfront location,
Amanpuri should still be your first choice. But
those in search of tranquility and a wellness-focused
experience will find Point Yamu much to their taste.
Aesthetically refined, with charming service and
exceptional cuisine, this is a distinctly superior resort.
D
uring our stay on Phuket, we also spent two
nights at the new Anantara Phuket Layan
resort on the island’s west coast (close to Trisara).
Anantara, a Bangkok-based hotel chain founded
by billionaire William Heinecke, is not especially
“
Those in search of
tranquility and a wellnessfocused experience will
find Point Yamu much to
their taste.
Bath, bedroom and sundeck of our suite,
and shrimp pad thai at Point Yamu
PHOTOS BY ANDREW HARPER
PHOTOS BY ANDREW HARPER
2 HIDEAWAY REPORT MAY 2015
well-known in the United States, but the brand is
a favorite of American expatriates in Hong Kong
and Singapore because its hotels are unfailingly
well-run and well-designed, and deliver excellent
value for money.
This quiet and attractive property offers a variety
of accommodations in its 30 rooms and suites and
47 pool villas. Half of the hotel is next to the beach,
while the other half is perched on a hillside. All rooms
are spacious, attractively decorated and equipped
with Apple televisions and espresso machines.
However, beachcombers will prefer easy access to the
white sands from Premier Rooms, Sala Pool Villas
and Beachfront Pool Villas. The hotel’s primary
swimming pool and restaurants are also located at
the center of the beachside accommodations. Created
by an Italian chef who has lived in Thailand for many
years, the cuisine at the hotel is consistently good.
In particular, Dee Plee serves delicious regional Thai
specialties such as massaman nua, a southern dish of
slow-cooked beef cheeks and crunchy peanuts in a
curry flavored with tamarind juice, and pla grapong
neung king, sea bass steamed with Thai herbs and
served in a soy sauce. Like all Anantara properties,
the Phuket property has an outstanding spa. The
hotel also offers a complete range of water sports,
with kayaks, canoes and surfboards available free.
S
ince Phuket offers an immense variety of
activities and reliably sunny weather for nine
months of the year — the only time not to visit is
the short rainy season from September to November
— the island has become a popular destination
for families. Coincidentally, one of my nephews
was staying with his wife and children at the JW
Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa during our visit.
Based in San Diego, he had chosen this 265-room
hotel specifically because of its impressive array of
activities for children. Of course, I greatly prefer
small, distinctive hotels to large chain properties,
but I couldn’t help being impressed. Set on 27
landscaped acres at the edge of the Andaman Sea,
the resort offers pleasing architecture, warm and
attentive service, and a surprisingly intimate
atmosphere. Done up in a scheme of soft pastels,
spacious Ocean Front Suites come with polished
teak floors, ceiling fans and large decks with private
whirlpools. The resort has several pools, including
one for adults only, and the fully staffed children’s
pavilion offers an ever-changing array of sports,
games and crafts. Overall, this is an excellent choice
for multigenerational family trips to Asia. H
CUISINE
Dining Out in Phuket
Lobster salad at Acqua
WITH OPTIONS RANGING FROM KOREAN RESTAURANTS to French bistros and
American-style steakhouses, Phuket has one of the most cosmopolitan dining scenes
in Southeast Asia. Since local boats supply freshly caught fish, crab, shrimp and lobster
daily, the island is a great place for seafood lovers. Southern Thai cooking is very different
from that found elsewhere in the country, being spicier and more pungent. Fresh turmeric,
fermented fish sauce and prawn paste are all important seasonings.
Acqua For a stylish night out and a change from Thai cooking, head for this chic Italian
spot that is a favorite with local expatriates. The homemade pastas, such as Sardinian
fregola with clams, lobster and tomatoes, are delicious. Outstanding wine list. 324/15
PRABARAMEE ROAD, KALIM BAY, PATONG. TEL. (66) 76-618-127. ACQUARESTAURANTPHUKET.COM
Aziamendi The most talked-about restaurant on Phuket is run by Basque chef Eneko
Atxa, who moved to Thailand after winning three stars in Spain. Here, he has hired young
American chef Alex Burger to run the kitchen. Burger does superb tasting menus that
include dishes such as tomato tart with Parmesan, and pigeon with duxelles and cauliflower. Reserve well in advance. Very expensive. 40/14 MOO 6 BAAN NATAI, T. KHOKKLOI A.
TAKUATHUNG, PHANG-NGA. TEL. (66) 94-005-0654. AZIAMENDI.COM
Breeze Just a short walk from the Point Yamu hotel, this beachside restaurant serves
a sophisticated modern Australian-style menu with dishes such as roasted scallops with
snow peas, orange and mint; and grilled steak with mustard vinaigrette. The Sunday
brunch is excellent. CAPE YAMU. TEL. (66) 81-271-2320. BREEZECAPEYAMU.COM
Blue Elephant Housed in the former governor’s mansion, this upscale Thai restaurant
has a great atmosphere and serves delicious dishes such as sea bass with lemongrass
and chiles, and crabmeat curry. 96 KRABI ROAD, TAMBON TALAD NEUA, MUANG DISTRICT. TEL. (66)
76-354-355. BLUEELEPHANT.COM
Suay Restaurant This stylish Thai table with an all-white décor is a perfect choice for
lunch while touring Phuket Town. The sea bass seasoned with turmeric and grilled in a
banana leaf is outstanding. Great cocktail list. 50/2 TAKUAPA ROAD, TALAT NUEA, MUEANG.
TEL. (66) 87-888-6990. SUAYRESTAURANT.COM
H O T E L S AT A G L A N C E
Point Yamu by COMO A95
L I K E Comfortable and stylish rooms; outstanding restaurants; exceptional spa. D I S L I K E The lack of
screens on the French doors in the bedrooms, preventing sleeping without air-conditioning; less-thanperfect soundproofing. G O O D T O K N O W Most cab drivers at Phuket’s airport don’t speak English and
seem to have little idea where the hotel is located, so arrange transportation with the hotel in advance.
VERANDAH ROOM WITH POOL, $400; VERANDAH POOL SUITE, $925. 225 MOO 7, PAKLOK, TALANG, PHUKET.
TEL.(66) 76-360-100. COMOHOTELS.COM/POINTYAMU Anantara Phuket Layan 89
L I K E The large, well-lit bath in our Sala Pool Villa; the excellent restaurants; the outstanding spa. D I S L I K E The hotel is located on a tidal bay, so swimming is difficult when the tide is out. G O O D T O
K N O W The resort provides a fast-track airport service, which is a huge help. BEACHFRONT LAYAN
POOL VILLA, $750. 168 MOO 6, LAYAN BEACH SOI 4, CHERNGTALAY, THALANG, PHUKET. TEL. (66) 76-317-200.
PHUKET-LAYAN.ANANTARA.COM JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa 89
L I K E The attractive, landscaped seaside setting; spacious, well-appointed rooms; the peerless menu of
activities for children of all ages. D I S L I K E While all of the five restaurants are good, none is outstanding. G O O D T O K N O W Both the baby-sitting service and the room service are first-rate. ROOM OCEAN FRONT
SUITE, $450. 231 MOO 3 MAI KHAO, TALANG, PHUKET. TEL. (66) 76-338-000. MARRIOTT.COM A
preceding a rating, denotes an officially recommended hotel. Visit AndrewHarper.com for more information on this
and four additional recommendations in and around Phuket.
MAY 2015 HIDEAWAY REPORT 3 A N E N C O U N T E R W I T H T H E H I S T O RY O F M A L AYS I A
Colonial-Era Charm in George Town, Penang
George Town waterfront
on the Strait of Malacca
CIT Y LIFE
GEORGE TOW N, ON THE M AL AYSIA N ISL A ND OF PENA NG, A ND ITS L ARGER A ND BETTER-K NOW N
sibling, Singapore, were both born at a time when the sun famously never set on the British
Empire. Located at the northern entrance to the strategically crucial Strait of Malacca,
George Town, unlike Singapore, still evokes an age of travel by steamship among storied
ports and their grand hotels, an era that began with the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869.
Street Food
MANY PEOPLE consider
George Town to be the
street-food capital of
Southeast Asia. Certainly,
a visit to its hawker stalls,
or open-air food courts,
where dozens of different
stands cook up local
dishes such as oyster
omelettes, fried crabs and
spring rolls, is an essential experience for any
visitor to Penang. Most
are open only at night.
If you’re feeling mildly
adventurous, try the Red
Garden food court at 20
Leith Street, which is open
from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
4 It was a Hindu feast day on my arrival, and
on the road into town from the airport, I caught
a glimpse of a happy, colorfully dressed crowd, its
members draped with marigold flower necklaces
and following several huge, brightly painted
puppets. In quick succession, we then passed a
large mosque, a Buddhist temple and a handsome
white church. George Town is an ethnically diverse
city — with a population chiefly of Malay, Chinese
and Indian heritage — which helps to explain its
conspicuous vitality.
A
natty doorman in shorts, white knee socks
and a pith helmet opened the door of my
taxi when we pulled up in front of the 100-room
Eastern & Oriental Hotel. The welcome in the
sedate lobby was cordial and slightly formal, just as
I had expected. This legendary hotel was created in
1885 by the Sarkies, an Armenian family that went
on to open The Strand in Rangoon and Raffles in
Singapore. At the time, it was considered to be the
HIDEAWAY REPORT MAY 2015
George Town “shophouse” PHOTO BY ANDREW HARPER
definition of luxury, with electric lights, hot and
cold running water, even elevators.
Although I’d chosen to stay at the Eastern &
Oriental primarily for its historic atmosphere, it
turned out to be an extremely comfortable and
well-run hotel. Our suite in the Heritage Wing —
which is preferable to the modern, high-rise Victory
Annexe — came with glossy teak floors, white
crown moldings, a four-poster bed and casement
windows overlooking a beautifully landscaped
terrace, one of the property’s two swimming pools
and the Andaman Sea. The separate lounge was
attractively furnished in an appropriately Victorian
style, and the spacious bath provided two separate
vanities and an extra-long claw-foot tub. Everything
technical, including the air-conditioning and
Wi-Fi, worked perfectly. What I liked most about
the Eastern & Oriental was that, unlike so many
other renovated heritage properties, it hadn’t been
turned into a pastiche. Instead, it had a pleasantly
sleepy atmosphere and an unselfconscious sepiatoned charm.
My only disappointment was that the food
seemed a reprise of the British Victorian kitchen.
Aside from a very good breakfast buffet, dishes
in the restaurants were typically overcooked
and under-seasoned. However, in a city as justly
renowned for its cuisine as George Town, this was
a very minor problem. I left the Eastern & Oriental
with real regret and a strong desire to return
for a longer stay.
T
he growing popularity of George Town has led
to a mini-boom in development, with many
of the so-called “shophouses” in the old city being
converted into boutique hotels. The shophouse is
George Town’s most emblematic form of architecture.
The term refers to a contiguous row of houses, rarely
higher than four stories, with stores on the ground
floor. The idiom became common as a result of
Chinese immigration in the 19th century, which
explains why so many shophouses have a distinctly
Chinese appearance, with ceramic tile roofs and
elaborate decoration.
The 18-suite Seven Terraces opened in 2013.
A hugely ambitious project, it was the brainchild of
hotelier Christopher Ong and his Austrian partner,
Karl Steinberg. In 2008, they acquired nine fireruined shophouses in a small lane near the center
of the city and undertook the massive task of
restoration. Ong was born in Penang, grew up in
Australia, and had a successful career as a banker
Our suite and view at
the Eastern & Oriental Hotel
PHOTOS BY ANDREW HARPER
C U LT U R E
George Town Sightseeing Highlights
1
Pinang Peranakan Mansion Peranakan derives from a Malay word that means
“descendants from a union between a local and a foreigner,” specifically Chinese
immigrants and the indigenous Malay population. Peranakan culture is at the core of
George Town’s identity. This museum occupies an ostentatious mansion built by a
wealthy Chinese merchant in the 1890s. Its contents reveal the Peranakan people’s
love of opulence. The cabinets are filled with German bisque porcelain figurines, fine
British pottery and even mantel clocks made in Ansonia, Connecticut. 29 CHURCH STREET.
PINANGPERANAKANMANSION.COM.MY
2
Protestant Cemetery Established in 1789 and shaded by frangipani trees, this
atmospheric cemetery brings the dramas of colonial history to life. An example from
the tombstone of Christopher Henry Lloyd: “Superintendent of Panghore and Dindings
who was murdered by a gang of Chinese robbers in the night of October 25, 1876.” The
grave of Captain Francis Light, the English adventurer who, in 1786, persuaded the Sultan
of Kedah to allow the island of Penang to become a protectorate of the British East India
Company, is also to be found here. JALAN SULTAN AHMAD SHAH.
3
Chew Jetty When Chinese immigrants arrived to work in the thriving port of
George Town, many of them built houses on stilts on the edges of wooden jetties as a
way to avoid the expense of buying property or paying taxes. The half-dozen or so Chinese
jetties were usually settled by members of the same clan, and their descendants still live
there. WELD QUAY.
H O T E L S AT A G L A N C E
Eastern & Oriental Hotel A92
L I K E The strong sense of place and history in the atmospheric public areas; the very comfortable and
spacious rooms; the excellent value for money. D I S L I K E The mediocre food aside from the lavish
breakfast buffet. G O O D T O K N O W Use the hotel’s second swimming pool at the Victory Annexe if
you want afternoon sun, since the seaside pool at the Heritage Wing quickly falls into shadow. DELUXE
SUITE KING, $215; STRAITS SUITE, $300. 10 LEBUH FARQUHAR, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG. TEL. (60) 4-222-2000.
E-O-HOTEL.COM
Seven Terraces A95
L I K E Exquisite décor in public spaces; convenient location; fine restaurant; charming staff. D I S L I K E The
lack of room service after 5 p.m. G O O D T O K N O W The Mews Café, just a five-minute walk from the hotel,
belongs to the same owners and is an excellent choice for lunch, with a selection of well-prepared Asian
and Western specialties and friendly service. ARGUS LANE SUITE, $205; ARGUS LANE GRAND SUITE, $385.
STEWART LANE, GEORGE TOWN, PENANG. TEL. (60) 4-264-2333. SEVENTERRACES.COM A
preceding a rating, denotes an officially recommended hotel. Visit AndrewHarper.com for more information on these
and two additional recommendations in Malaysia.
MAY 2015 HIDEAWAY REPORT 5 “
The Seven Terraces
is a truly distinctive and
utterly delightful hotel.
Atrium, bedroom and betel leaf wraps
filled with dried shrimp, salad and fish
eggs at the Seven Terraces.
in Sydney before becoming a hotelier, first with the
Galle Fort Hotel in Sri Lanka.
While preserving the 19th-century façades, Ong
and Steinberg managed to create a large, tile-floored
central atrium ornamented with sweet-smelling
frangipani trees in huge glazed pots. The ground
floor includes Kebaya, serving a menu of classic
Indo- and Straits Chinese dishes, plus a bar, a library
and a small lap pool. The public rooms display Ong’s
spectacular collection of local antiques, including
figurines, lacquered tiffin carriers and teak couches
inlaid with mother of pearl.
The suites are decorated in a similar style. The
most desirable are the duplex Argus Suites, which
overlook a quiet back street. Ours came with a
spacious lounge furnished with red velvet-upholstered
sofas, Chinese antiques and colonial-style furniture
of British, Sri Lankan and local provenance. A huge
white bath with a honeycomb-tile floor provided
a single vanity and a rainfall shower. Reached via
stairs, the bedroom opened onto a small private
balcony overlooking George Town’s Anglican church.
Throughout our stay, service from the mostly Sri
Lankan staff was outstanding. The Seven Terraces
is a truly distinctive and utterly delightful hotel. H
BURMA
LAOS
ROOM AND FOOD PHOTOS BY ANDREW HARPER
THAILAND
BANGKOK
Favorite George Town Restaurants
Kebaya The elegant restaurant at the Seven Terraces hotel specializes in Peranakan
cooking, including dishes such as minced chicken with herbs wrapped in lettuce, grilled
snapper, and pandan-leaf crème brûlée. Excellent wine list and very good service. Dinner
only. Reservations essential. STEWART LANE. TEL. (60) 4-264-2333. SEVENTERRACES.COM
China House This stylish café is a good place for a fast, casual meal. Excellent breakfasts, afternoon high tea, and dishes such as homemade lamb sausage with couscous
and warm feta-cheese dressing, and steamed apple-and-macadamia-nut pudding.
CAMBODIA
An da ma n
Se a
Gulf
of
Thailand
VIETNAM
PHUKET
PHUKET
(TOWN)
153-155 BEACH STREET. TEL. (60) 4-263-7299. CHINAHOUSE.COM.MY
Tek Sen This busy restaurant is widely considered to have the best Chinese kitchen
in George Town. Try dishes such as stir-fried shio bak (roasted pork belly), chicken with
turmeric and chiles, and braised duck with oysters. Cash only. 18 LEBUH CARNARVON.
S
GEORGE TOWN
tr
ai
t
TEL. (60) 12-981-5117.
of
M
MALAYSIA
al
ac
Mews Café Run by the owners of the Seven Terraces hotel, this casual all-day restaurant serves an eclectic menu that runs from ciabatta chicken to Asian dishes such as
Malay rice salad with spiced fried chicken. Don’t miss the caramelized banana fritters.
AIR ITAM. TEL. (60) 4-228-3930.
6 HIDEAWAY REPORT MAY 2015
ca
KUALA LUMPUR
SINGAPORE
BINTAN
ISLAND
MUNTRI MEWS, 77 MUNTRI STREET. TEL. (60) 4-263-5125.
Suffolk House This elegant colonial house was built on a pepper plantation that was
once owned by Captain Francis Light, the founder of George Town. It’s a stylish and
relaxing place for dinner, with a mostly Western menu that runs to dish such as truffled
chicken terrine, and smoked salmon fillet with horseradish and tomato chutney. 250 JALAN
So u t h
China
S ea
PENANG
INDONESIA
0
0
275 MI
275 KM
A L U X U R I O U S N E W H I D E AWAY N E A R S I N G A P O R E
The Sanchaya, Bintan Island
T R AV E L E R S T O A S I A F I N D T H E M S E LV E S I N S I N G A P O R E F O R M A N Y
reasons. The Southeast Asian city-state is one of the world’s most
important financial and business capitals; it has an efficient and wellserved airport; it also offers superb food and a distinctive culture.
“
During a long
walk along the
beach, I reflected
that Bintan today
is rather like
Southeast Asia
in the early ’80s,
before the region
emerged as a
popular tourist
destination.
On my most recent trip, however, I decided to
take a preliminary break beside the sea to recover
from the long flight from North America. The
Sanchaya hotel, a sumptuous new property on
Indonesia’s Bintan Island, is just a 45-minute ride
by comfortable high-speed ferry from Singapore.
So less than two hours after we’d landed at Changi
Airport, we were sitting on a veranda overlooking
a white-sand beach and the ocean.
More than three times larger in area than
Singapore, Bintan Island has only 118,000
inhabitants. This statistic explains why the island is
currently being developed as a second-home getaway
Exterior, and our suite at The Sanchaya
ROOM PHOTOS BY ANDREW HARPER
The Sanchaya A95
L I K E Exceptionally beautiful setting in a former coconut plantation overlooking the South China Sea. D I S L I K E The charge for the transfer from the ferry terminal, a service that should be complimentary,
given the hefty room rates. G O O D T O K N O W The best time to visit Bintan is from March to July; avoid the
monsoon season from mid-December to mid-February. Nearby Ria Bintan Golf Club is one of the best in
Southeast Asia. THE GREAT HOUSE JUNIOR SUITE SEA VIEW, $870; ONE-BEDROOM VILLA SEA VIEW, $1,475. JALAN
GURINDAM DUABELAS, PLOT 5 LAGOI BAY, P. BINTAN, KEP. RIAU. (62) 770-692200. THESANCHAYA.COM
A
preceding a rating, denotes an officially recommended hotel. Visit AndrewHarper.com for more information on this
and seven additional recommendations in Indonesia.
for Singaporeans in search of space and tranquility,
as well as a beach resort for foreign visitors.
When I first heard about the 21-villa, nine-suite
Sanchaya, it sounded intriguing, but I hesitated,
wondering about the complications of reserving
ferry tickets and obtaining the necessary Indonesian
visa. Happily, the hotel tends efficiently to all of
these arrangements.
As soon as we caught our first glimpse of the
handsome main manor house I knew we’d made a
good choice. The general manager, Murlidhar Rao,
a charming and ebullient host, welcomed us to his
30-acre tropical seaside estate. He then showed us
around the magnificent public rooms and explained
that sanchaya means “collection” in Sanskrit, a
reference to the architecture and decoration of the
villas, which were inspired by a variety of indigenous
idioms. This approach is reflected in Thai-style
pitched roofs, Burmese window frames, Laotian
temple ornaments and Khmer glazed pottery jars.
Our exceptionally attractive suite featured teak
floors, a grass-cloth sofa, black rattan armchairs, a
marble-topped table, a Bang & Olufsen entertainment
center and a wine fridge.
After a dip in the 150-foot infinity pool, I
indulged in a signature Sanchaya spa treatment,
which involved deep tissue massage and warm
stone therapy. Feeling relaxed and reinvigorated,
we headed to the bar, which is decorated like a
Victorian geographical society clubroom. Later, we
opted to dine in the Tasanee Grill, where we enjoyed
a delicious Thai meal of spring rolls, green papaya
salad and curried prawns.
The next morning, we were greeted at breakfast
in The Dining Room, the hotel’s main restaurant, by
the jamu gendong (herbal drinks) server, who arrived
tableside with a selection of these fruit, vegetable
and spice concoctions that the Indonesians like to
begin their day. My turmeric and tamarind shot
was certainly a potent eye-opener.
The Sanchaya is owned by Natalya Pavchinskaya,
a Russian businesswoman, and eventually will be
part of a much larger development project on the
northern coast of Bintan Island that will include
additional hotels, a golf course and an international
airport. During a long walk along the beach, I
reflected that Bintan today is rather like Southeast
Asia in the early ’80s, before the region emerged
as a popular tourist destination. For now, The
Sanchaya is a truly blissful place in which to relax
and to enjoy the soft, warm breezes wafting off
the South China Sea. H
MAY 2015 HIDEAWAY REPORT 7 L O D G I N G O P T I O N S I N S I D E A N D O U T S I D E T H E PA R K
Revisiting the Glories of Yellowstone
Emerald Pool, Yellowstone National Park
S OM E OF M Y FON DE S T M E MOR I E S R E VOLV E A ROU N D FA M I LY T I M E
spent amid the natural wonders of Yellowstone National Park.
There’s so much to see and do. Yet fully appreciating that abundance
requires some effort. At 3,500 square miles, the park is larger than
Delaware and Rhode Island combined. There are more than 350
miles of paved highways. The west and east gates are 100 miles apart.
THE WEST was still
wild when Yellowstone
became a national park in
1872 — four years before
Gen. George Armstrong
Custer and his 7th Calvary
command were wiped out
near the Little Bighorn
River. In the enabling legislation, Congress decreed
that the geothermal
features and the rugged
surrounding land be “set
apart as a public park or
pleasuring ground for the
benefit and enjoyment
of the people.” The act
allowed for a superintendent to be appointed, but
allocated not a penny for
roads or lodging, or for
managing and protecting
the new park.
 Read more online,
including an explanation of
the park lodging ownership.
8 Ye
l
MONTANA
Madison
R.
2
lo
w
st
on
e
R.
YELLOWSTONE
NATIONAL PARK
YELLOWSTONE
FALLS
1
WEST
YELLOWSTONE
OLD FAITHFUL
1 Lake Yellowstone Hotel
3 Jenny Lake Lodge
IDAHO
Our suite bedroom at Lake Yellowstone Hotel
PHOTO BY ANDREW HARPER
HIDEAWAY REPORT MAY 2015
0
0
50 MI
50 KM
YELLOWSTONE
LAKE
WYOMING
2 Firehole Ranch
E
Beginnings
Then there’s the vexed question of where to
stay. The park’s first hotel was a one-story, sodcovered log building, about 25 by 35 feet, “very
primitive,” according to Ferdinand Hayden, who
had led a geological survey into Yellowstone in
1871. The options certainly have improved in the
intervening years, but there are still no five-star
accommodations. The famed Old Faithful Inn, for
example, is a masterpiece of rustic architecture,
but that charm does not extend to its 327 merely
functional bedrooms, and hospitality remains an
elusive concept. What you get at Old Faithful Inn
or other lodging within the park is proximity to
Yellowstone’s natural attractions.
TETON RA
NG
H I S T O RY
On a recent visit, we chose to overnight at
the freshly renovated Lake Yellowstone Hotel
& Cabins on the north shore of the lake at an
elevation of 7,795 feet. The yellow-clapboard,
white-columned hotel was built by the Northern
Pacific Railroad in 1891. Like so many other historic
structures in the park, the property suffered from
years of neglect. In 1981, the National Park Service
and the concessionaire embarked on a 10-year
restoration program. That was followed in 2013-14
by a comprehensive $28.5 million upgrade.
Our suite turned out to be spacious and
comfortable, with tall windows that granted views
of the lake and the Absaroka Range. Craftsmanstyle furnishings in dark wood included a roomy
armoire in lieu of a closet. A writing desk sat next
to the double doors that separated the bedroom
and the living room. Patterned wall-to-wall carpet
extended into the living room, which was similarly
furnished with another armoire, as well as a sleeper
sofa. A bank of cabinets near the door held a small
sink and a Keurig coffeemaker.
The well-lit, clean-lined bath retained the
character of an earlier age: marble-topped vanity,
vintage-look fixtures, mosaic tile floors and white
subway tile wainscot. There is no air-conditioning,
television or Wi-Fi; rooms are wired for third-party
Internet service that costs $12 per day.
The hotel’s vast dining
room with its wall of
BOZEMAN
windows overlooking the lake accommodates hotel
guests and drop-in diners alike, and it’s a busy place,
JACKSON
LAKE
e R.
Snak
GRAND TETON
NATIONAL
3
PARK
JACKSON
serving 500 or more dinners on a typical night,
clearly a challenge for the kitchen and waitstaff.
The menu features more or less what you’d expect,
given the location: Montana lamb, ranch-raised
bison, locally farmed trout, Wyoming beef and so
on. Our server was hard-working and good-natured,
but she was overwhelmed, frankly, as tables along
her route competed for her attention. Drinks were
slow to arrive; appetizers scarcely beat the entrées
to the table; the food was uninspiring.
We understand the obstacles facing the
concessionaire. The season is short and the park’s
popularity taxes the infrastructure. And the mostly
young staff bring more enthusiasm than skill. Our
suite was a huge upgrade from anything offered
in the park until recently (and at $650 per night,
so is the rate). If you’re determined to stay within
Yellowstone, the Lake Hotel offers easily the best
lodging, but be prepared for inconsistent service
and ho-hum food.
“
Our suite was
a huge upgrade
from anything
offered in the park
until recently (and
at $650 per night,
so is the rate).
The Lake Hotel
offers easily the
best lodging, but
be prepared for
inconsistent service
and ho-hum food.
single-room cabins, which on this trip, we found
just a little too cozy. Happily, a larger suite was
available, so while we enjoyed dinner in the inviting
log dining room, a helpful staffer built a fire in the
larger cabin’s woodburning stove.
The nightly rate includes breakfast and an
unhurried, five-course dinner. The staff know you
by name, and service is polished and polite. Night
had fallen while we ate, and as we made our way
along the path through darkness scented by smoke
from the cabins’ wood fires, we were treated to
the distant sound of bugling elk. The next day, the
clouds parted, revealing the majestic Teton spires,
powdered with fresh snow. H
Young moose in
Grand Teton National Park
T
he other option, staying outside the park,
requires to-ing and fro-ing — not such a bad
thing, really, since in Yellowstone every drive is a
photo safari. Two longtime recommendations come
to mind. Firehole Ranch sits on 640 acres along
Montana’s Hebgen Lake, 18 miles from the park’s
western entrance. The ranch hosts a maximum of
20 guests in log cabins. Two stand-alone cabins
with private porches offer the most desirable
accommodations. The food is delicious, served in the
historic main lodge or, on barbecue night, under the
Big Sky. Although fly-fishing is the featured activity
at the ranch, most anything you want to see or do
in Yellowstone can be arranged.
R
ustic Jenny Lake Lodge sits at the foot of
the Teton Range, about 45 miles south of
Yellowstone. With an early start, you can tour the
major attractions in a day. However, once you’ve
settled into one of the cozy log cabins, scattered
among pine trees with the mountain peaks towering
above, you may choose not to go anywhere else.
The lodge is a genteel, hospitable place. A card
in your cabin invites you to a 5 p.m. reception by
the stone fireplace in the lobby, where champagne,
wine and hors d’oeuvres are served. The three dozen
cabins date to the 1920s and ’30s. About half are
duplexes with a shared wall and shared porches;
the rest are stand-alone. All are nicely restored
and comfortably furnished; baths are snug. We had
forgotten our own advice and reserved one of the
View of the Tetons from the porch at Jenny Lake Lodge
PHOTO BY ANDREW HARPER
Firehole Ranch, Montana
PHOTO BY KEN TAKATA
H O T E L S AT A G L A N C E
Lake Yellowstone Hotel & Cabins 89
L I K E Proximity to Yellowstone’s attractions. D I S L I K E Mediocre service and ho-hum food. G O O D
T O K N O W For choice accommodations and dates, reserve a year in advance. LAKE YELLOWSTONE,
YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING. TEL. (307) 344-7311. YELLOWSTONENATIONALPARKLODGES.COM  Firehole Ranch A94
L I K E Authentic Western ambience. D I S L I K E Lack of unified rate that includes all ranch activities. G O O D
T O K N O W Two stand-alone cabins, “Watkins Creek” and “Caddis,” offer the most privacy. LUXURY CABIN,
$750 PER PERSON PER NIGHT; ACTIVITIES EXTRA. 1207 FIREHOLE RANCH ROAD, WEST YELLOWSTONE, MONTANA.
TEL. (406) 646-7294. FIREHOLERANCH.COM Jenny Lake Lodge A90
L I K E Gorgeous, tranquil setting at the foot of the Teton Range. D I S L I K E Small baths. G O O D T O
K N O W The hotel offers rustic comfort rather than luxurious accommodations. SUITE CABIN, $870
TO $960 (INCLUDES BREAKFAST AND FIVE-COURSE DINNER). GRAND TETON NATIONAL PARK, WYOMING.
TEL. (307) 733-4647. GTLC.COM  preceding a rating, denotes an officially recommended hotel. Visit AndrewHarper.com for more information on these
A
and six additional recommendations in Wyoming and Montana.
MAY 2015 HIDEAWAY REPORT 9 Y E L L OW S T O N E A N D G R A N D T E T O N N AT I O N A L PA R KS
H O T E L U P DAT E
Amangani
COURTESY AMAN RESORTS
A Family-Friendly Resort in Jackson Hole
Rustic Inn Spa Suites exterior,
and our accommodation
PHOTOS BY ANDREW HARPER
Two Jackson
Classics
SITUATED atop 7,000foot East Gros Ventre
Butte, 15 minutes from
downtown Jackson,
Amangani remains one of
the finest resorts in North
America. The low-profile
sandstone structure
houses 40 guest suites
that feature sitting areas
with fireplaces, spacious
baths and covered decks.
Western and Native
American artifacts and
woodburning fireplaces
accent the public areas.
At The Grill, the menu
emphasizes local, sustainable ranch meats, fresh
fish and seasonal farm-totable produce. Amenities
include a spectacular
115-foot year-round heated
outdoor pool. For those
who prefer to stay in the
lively center of Jackson,
The Rusty Parrot Lodge
& Spa provides a good
choice. The 30-room
stone-and-timber lodge is
located a short stroll from
the shops and galleries of
Town Square. The 32-seat
restaurant, Wild Sage,
has an open kitchen and
a river-rock fireplace, and
serves exceptional New
American cuisine.
 Read more about these
classics online.
LOCATED AN HOUR’S DRIVE SOUTH OF YELLOWSTONE, THE TOWN OF JACKSON IS NONETHELESS
a convenient place to start a tour of the park. It’s a lively place that offers everything you
could want in a Western experience, including a mesmerizing view of the Teton Range.
On the north edge of Jackson, the Rustic Inn
occupies 12 acres at the foot of a high butte along
slow-moving Flat Creek, which meanders out of the
adjacent National Elk Refuge and on into town. What
you notice first are several dozen small log cabins
overlooking the creek and landscaped wetlands.
But we were guided to the far end of the property,
to a handsome lodge, set apart and screened from
the rest of the resort by mature trees and shrubs.
Inside, the theme is Western but decidedly upscale.
Wingback chairs and a leather couch front a
large stone fireplace in the lobby/lounge; bronzes
on the tables and art on the walls honor Wyoming’s
wildlife, landscape and cowboy tradition. There’s a
small but complete bar and a kitchen where breakfasts
are cooked to order. A hallway leads to a spa with
four treatment rooms, a steam room and a sauna.
On a wood deck near the entry, guests can sit with
a drink in front of a gas fireplace or step into the
tiled whirlpool tub.
We had reserved a One-Bedroom Spa Suite.
The nicely furnished and accessorized living room
The Spa Suites at the Rustic Inn A94
L I K E Attractive creekside site close to Town Square; cozy bar. D I S L I K E Unappealing resort restaurant. G O O D T O K N O W Two two-bedroom suites may be joined to accommodate family groups or friends.
ONE BEDROOM SPA SUITE, $890; TWO BEDROOM SPA SUITE, $1,490 (INCLUDES FULL BREAKFAST). 475 NORTH
CACHE STREET, JACKSON, WYOMING. TEL. (307) 413-7685. RUSTICSPASUITES.COM A
10  preceding a rating, denotes an officially recommended hotel. Visit AndrewHarper.com for more information on this
and two additional recommendations in Jackson Hole.
HIDEAWAY REPORT MAY 2015
included a queen-size sleeper sofa. Large casement
windows provided ample light but no interesting
view. In the bedroom, a leather chair and ottoman
sat in a windowed niche beyond the dark wood king
bed. The large spa-like bath, accessible from both
the bedroom and the living room, held an oversize
glass-enclosed shower and a freestanding soaking tub.
Smaller suites are equally plush, but in each case,
the tub sits in the bedroom instead of the bath, an
arrangement not to our liking. Two two-bedroom,
two-bath suites with full kitchens offer the most
room and luxury, plus the added option of being
combined into one large apartment for a group of
friends or family.
The resort’s atmospheric Rustic Bar serves
well-made cocktails and offers an adequate wine
list, but Jackson has better restaurant options, some
with gourmet dining, and some with lots of local
atmosphere and really good food. The latter sounded
appealing to us after several nights of overly fussy
entrées, and when two outfitters we met raved about
the fried chicken and the meatloaf at the Rendezvous
Bistro, we decided to try it. The restaurant features
traditional French and American dishes in a casual
but urbane atmosphere. The efficient and cheerful
server took our orders. Our cocktails were mixed
with a smile and shaken with panache. And when
our food came, we tucked in as enthusiastically as
everyone else in the place. H
WASHINGTON
Idyllic Idaho Lakeside Retreat
LAST YEAR, THE SUN VALLEY LODGE WAS BEING RENOVATED, SO, DEPRIVED OF A CUSTOMARY
A resort since 1948, Shore Lodge, as its name
suggests, is situated lakeside and offers 77 rooms
and suites, 62 of which have water views. In 2008,
the resort, along with the Whitetail Club residential
community, was a sentimental purchase by Joe Scott,
grandson of grocery magnate Joe Albertson. He
wanted to modernize the lodge while maintaining
the charm and family-friendly appeal that he recalled
from childhood. An investment of more than $10
million has resulted in upgraded rooms and a spa.
The property offers accommodations on three
levels, with the lower level opening onto groomed
sandy beaches — a nice feature for younger children.
We stayed in a spacious Lake View Suite on the third
floor. A living room featured large bay windows
and a small terrace. The dining room came with a
mini-kitchen area. The bedroom was windowless,
which was disappointing. The bath provided a walkin shower and tub, but was very dark, owing to its
green marble and brown wallpaper. Executive Suites
are worth the upgrade alone for their larger, nicer
baths done in cream-colored tile.
The lodge has three restaurants, all with
spectacular lake views. The marina-side Lake Grill
is the place to enjoy breakfast or lunch. Here, the
food is good, if unremarkable, but the service can
be slow. At The Narrows, a changing dinner menu
features Northwest cuisine with dishes such as elk
chop with smoked mushrooms and huckleberry sauce.
After dinner, we wandered over to the Narrows Grill,
a popular bar, for a “huckle-tini.” Huckleberries
grow generously in the summer around McCall,
attracting large numbers of black bears.
Family amenities at Shore Lodge include an inhouse movie theater, game room, indoor basketball
court and outdoor pool area with hot tub. However,
the most fun can be had on the lake itself. Payette
Lake covers 5,330 acres and, being in the shape
of a horseshoe, is larger than it appears from the
lodge. The water is pristine, cool and perfect for an
invigorating swim. We took out kayaks and paddled
right by a moose and her calf. Another highlight was
renting a Manitou pontoon boat, a well-equipped
floating living room with enough power for water
sports. For adults, the principal amenity is The Cove
spa, where we enjoyed soaking in the indoor and
outdoor saltwater immersion pools. Guests at Shore
Lodge have the privilege of playing at Whitetail Club
golf course, with a beautiful layout woven through
the forested residential area. The driving range itself
is a joy, so head over at least an hour before your
tee time. In general, the course is uncrowded — we
had the links to ourselves on a Saturday.
Downtown McCall, with its quaint shops, is
less than a mile from the resort. On more than one
evening, we took the entire family to Steamers, run
for the past 10 years by local chef Darren Strandell
and his wife, Lauri. Menu highlights included tuna
tartare with avocado and capers, manila clams from
Puget Sound, and a lamb and trout dinner served
with Idaho Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. H
IDAHO
YELLOWSTONE
NATIONAL
PARK
McCALL
OREGON
summer retreat, we decided to take our extended family to another Idaho resort. From
Boise, a scenic two-hour drive along the Payette River brought us to McCall, a remote town
with around 3,000 inhabitants set at the edge of snow-fed Payette Lake.
MONTANA
SUN VALLEY
JACKSON
BOISE
0
0
100 MI
100 KM
WYOMING
D OW N T I M E I N T R A N Q U I L M C C A L L
Sun Valley
Upgrade
SUN VALLEY LODGE is
undergoing long-overdue
refurbishments, including
new baths and larger
rooms, some of which
will now have fireplaces.
Public areas are being
updated, too, and a
20,000-square-foot spa
wing is being constructed
near the round outdoor
pool. The lodge is set to
reopen in June. I do not
currently recommend the
property, but intend to pay
a visit soon.
Shore Lodge and marina
PHOTOS BY ANDREW HARPER
Shore Lodge A90
L I K E The lakeside setting; the abundance of activities; the large, comfortable rooms. D I S L I K E Slow
service; our windowless bedroom. G O O D T O K N O W Only lakeview rooms should be considered. Book
well in advance, as summer is extremely popular. Fall is a nice time to go without the children. Internet is
not reliable or fast in McCall. LAKE VIEW KING SUITE, $260; EXECUTIVE LAKE VIEW KING SUITE, $410. 501 WEST
LAKE STREET, MCCALL, IDAHO. TEL. (208) 634-2244. SHORELODGE.COM A
 preceding a rating, denotes an officially recommended hotel. Visit AndrewHarper.com for more information on this
and one other recommendation in Idaho.
MAY 2015 HIDEAWAY REPORT 11 L AST LOOK
L A S T WO R D
Europe in
Springtime
Hallway décor at
Point Yamu by COMO
on Phuket, Thailand
PHOTO BY ANDREW HARPER

View a slideshow
of my favorite
Southeast Asia
trip photos online.
FROM THE
T R AV E L O F F I C E
New and Noteworthy
L’Albereta Spa
Upgraded
Time Travel in the New Kyoto
Andaman Islands Ryokan
Nowadays, every selfrespecting luxury hotel has
a spa, yet I am frequently
astonished by how few
are distinctive, imaginative or, frankly, worth the
money. One conspicuous
exception has long been
the Espace Vitalité Henri
Chenot at L’Albereta, my
recommended property in
the hills of Franciacorta a
few minutes from Lake Iseo
and an hour’s drive east of
Milan. After a brief closure,
the spa reopened in March
having been extended and
redesigned. A new menu of
treatments is administered
by more than 30 physicians, therapists, dietitians,
osteopaths and beauticians.
Aside from numerous types
of massage, the spa specializes in hydro-aromatherapy
and phyto-mud therapy,
plus personalized health
and nutritional programs.
The world has changed
beyond recognition during
my 35 years of globe-trotting, but a few areas remain
relatively unknown. One
such place is the Andaman
Islands archipelago in
the Bay of Bengal. North
Sentinel Island is famous
as the home of a Paleolithic
people, the Sentinelese,
who vigorously resist any
contact with the outside
world. They seem to have no
agriculture and no means
of producing fire, and their
language is unclassified.
Elsewhere, the Andamans
are similar to the Maldives
— aside from a complete
lack of luxury resorts. This
may be about to change,
however, with the opening in
2015 of Jalakara, a boutique
hotel on Havelock Island.
Soon, perhaps, only a space
plane will take you somewhere truly unexplored.
In Kyoto, I currently
recommend two traditional Japanese inns, or
ryokans. One, Hiiragiya,
dates from 1818, while the
other, Tawaraya, has been
owned by the same family
for nearly 300 years. In
March, they were joined
by an interloper, Suiran, a
39-room ryokan now part
of the Starwood Luxury
Collection portfolio. Located
in scenic western Kyoto,
the hotel occupies part of
the grounds of Tenryū-ji,
the head temple of the
Tenryū branch of Rinzai
Zen Buddhism. In addition to newly built rooms
and facilities, the property
includes restored historic
wooden structures. Suiran
promises to be a remarkable
combination of modernity
and tradition. I will bring you
a firsthand report later in
the year.
National Park
Private Journeys
A FAMILY EXPEDITION
to one of our great national
parks is a classic part of
an American summer.
Our new travel partner,
National Parks Revealed,
specializes in customized
private journeys for those
in search of authenticity
and adventure. The company’s staff has researched
and vetted the parks’
upscale hotels, resorts and
lodges. They know the best
trails, the places to escape
the crowds and, above all,
the most knowledgeable
private guides.
Discover More at AndrewHarper.com
Find additional stories, my trip videos and more photography throughout the month on our website. Look for these symbols in
this print edition, then visit The Hideaway Report at AndrewHarper.com.  = additional related article  = slideshow  = video
Free of hotel advertising since its inception in June 1979, Andrew Harper’s Hideaway Report® (ISSN 0884-7622) is a private publication for sophisticated
travelers. The selection of hotels and restaurants for inclusion is made on a completely independent basis, with Andrew Harper, LLC paying full rate for
all meals, lodging and related travel expenses. The Hideaway Report is published monthly by Andrew Harper at 1601 Rio Grande St., Suite 410, Austin, TX
78701. Periodicals Postage is paid at Austin, TX, and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to: Andrew Harper, P.O. Box 684368,
Austin, TX 78768. Tel. (866) 831-4314 or (512) 904-7342. Fax (512) 904-7350. Copyright 2015 Andrew Harper, LLC. CST #2110806-40; IST #1096;
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Editor-in-Chief Andrew Harper Art Director Kristina Mitchell Research Editor Adrienne Jany Photo Editor Kelly Zhu
THERE IS A POINT in the
year when my thoughts
turn inevitably to Europe.
Blissful memories resurface
of leaving the cool of the
lobby at the Hassler Roma
and descending the Spanish
Steps, favorite guidebook in
hand, into a sun-drenched
Piazza di Spagna. Or of
heading back from Musée
Picasso through the
exquisite vaulted arcades
of the Place des Vosges to
the leafy sanctuary of the
Pavillon de la Reine hotel.
I have a recurring, but as
yet unrealized, fantasy of
spending a month in May
and June slowly making my
way from the Amalfi Coast
to Paris and, ultimately,
London. My journey would
follow the progress of the
warm weather to more
northerly latitudes, so that
the trees would be always be
smothered in blossom and
the spring flowers ever in
bloom. There is, of course,
only one snag. The weather
is never quite as reliable as
one might wish. Over the
years, I have noticed that
many Americans assume
that as soon as the vernal
equinox has passed, the
Mediterranean is warm
enough for swimming and
the sun beats down on the
vineyards of Chianti. In
fact, even southern Europe
is only reliably hot and
sunny from mid-June to
the end of August. Which
is not to say that you can’t
have perfect weather in
Tuscany in early May, just
that it isn’t a foregone
conclusion. I shan’t give up
on my fantasy, but when I
do eventually find time for
the European trip of my
dreams, I’ll be sure to take
an umbrella along with
the sunscreen.