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Travel 2016 July

The Naadam Festival Brings Mongolia’s Gobi Desert Alive

by Robert Michael Poole

In few countries is the national festival so deeply associated with its past, and so relevant to its present, as in Mongolia. The Naadam Festival celebrated in the capital Ulaanbaatar each July, is a UNESCO-inscribed Intangible Cultural Heritage. Some suggest its origins date back to sports played by the army of Genghis Khan, as a way of testing strength and skill and the oldest surviving Mongolian language book, The Secret History of the Mongols mentions all three main sports of the festival – horse racing, archery and wrestling.

Travel 2016 July

Dunkeld Bungalow Restores Ceylon Tea Traditions to Splendor

by Robert Michael Poole

A century ago, it was traditional for Englishmen and women to enjoy their afternoon with tea with scones, cakes, strawberries and cream. Today, cities around the world have been flooded by coffee shops, and afternoon tea seems antiquated. Luckily, in the heart of one of the world’s finest tea plantation districts, in the valleys of southeast Sri Lanka, the tradition has not only been restored but transformed into a sought-after experience.

Travel 2016 May

Bhutan: Culture & Travel in the Lost Land of the Thunder Dragon

by Robert Michael Poole

Travel destinations don’t come much more seductive and alluring as Bhutan. Known to many as “The Forbidden Kingdom,” it’s the last Himalayan Buddhist kingdom to remain intact. Considered a last frontier, it also has a reputation for being hard to gain access to – though that turns out to be largely a myth.

Travel 2016 March

Francis Ford Coppola’s Lakeside La Lancha Captures Guatemala Culture

by Robert Michael Poole

Multi-Academy Award winning director Francis Ford Coppola has carefully kept his under the radar, even with “The Family Coppola Resorts” emblazoned across the five properties, and that’s due to their carefully chosen locations ranging from Argentina to Italy. The story of the collection though began in Central America, long before actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio bought Blackadore Caye in Belize to develop his own eco-resort in the same region.

ArtsTravel 2016 January

Congo Art Chic at Design Hotel El Otro Lado

by Robert Michael Poole

Set amongst steaming rainforests amid luscious vegetation with the mere sound of wildlife for company, it may seem no wonder that El Otro Lado has been fashioned into a “Congo Art Chic” boutique. But the hotel owned by the Spanish family Eleta is far from the jungles of Africa. Literally translated as “The Other Side,” the multicolor property is located on an island across from the UNESCO-listed fortified town of Portobelo on the Caribbean side of Panama.

ArtsTravel 2016 January

Bellavistina Style Restored in the Crossroads of America at Casco Viejo

by Robert Michael Poole

Anyone thinking that Panama is simply the icon of modernity in the region, would be overlooking the capital city’s most romantic and alluring attraction – Casco Viejo. The old fortified town was constructed in 1673 on a peninsula surrounded by the sea in order to better defend itself against pirates that had previously destroyed the first settlement, Panama Viejo, in 1671.

Travel 2016 January

Six Reasons to Seek Out Saba Island

by Robert Michael Poole

Imagine a child’s drawing of an island, jutting out of the sea, square houses clinging to the cliffs and jungle palms on its summit. Welcome to Saba, a tiny speck of a Caribbean island that seems delightfully cartoonish. Technically boasting the highest point of The Netherlands, it has just one road, called, well, The Road, and a capital nestled between its rocky peaks called The Bottom.

Reportage 2015 December

Preserving Laotian Art & Culture in Vang Vieng

by Robert Michael Poole

In one local village called Nakhe, the rapid rate of disappearance of the village itself is apparent before visitors eyes, with it clear that by this time next year, precious little of the old houses will still be standing.

Travel 2015 December

Culture+Travel’s Top 10 Instagram Photographers of 2015

by Robert Michael Poole

When it was launched in 2010, Instagram was essentially used to enhance photos via an array of filters, a fun take on Kodak Instamatic cameras that allowed people to create playfully framed square pictures on their smart phones. Flash forward five years and Instagram has become the most ubiquitous outlet for amateur and professional photographers to display their works.

Arts 2015 December

Hotel Max Teams Pop Art with Sub Pop in Seattle

by Robert Michael Poole

Hotel Max, Seattle’s downtown boutique art hotel, has revealed its latest collaboration, teaming up with legendary local independent record label Sub Pop to combine music and art in its lobby – and beyond.

Travel 2015 November

5 Essentials for a Sonoma Weekend Getaway

by Robert Michael Poole

Nowhere else in the United States has the art of wine-making been perfected as much as in California, which accounts for 90 per cent of the country’s entire output. To put that in perspective, if it were a country, California would be the fourth largest wine producer in the world. Culture+Travel thought it’s time to look more closely at what’s on offer in Napa’s quieter neighbor, Sonoma.

Travel 2015 July

Romance, War and the Tale of a Century at Hanoi’s Metropole Hotel

by Robert Michael Poole

The allure of discovering the romance of yesteryear lies at the heart of the joy of travel. Explorers and backpackers alike seek to discover destinations ancient and historical, where the memories of decades, centuries, and millennia fill the air with tales of life, love and war gone by. Finding these physical testaments to human endurance though, is not the tough part. Tuning in to the echoes of the past radiating around them seems to take a certain mindset.

Travel 2015 July

In the Steps of Canada’s Literary Giants at Park Hyatt Toronto

by Robert Michael Poole

It began as a tiny village. Founded as a venture by Joseph Bloore and Willian Botsford Jarvis in 1830, even their entrepreneurial spirit could surely not have imagined that Yorkville, in Toronto’s north, would become the city’s most upscale district.

Home to the first five-star hotel in Canada, it is not the expense of the area that gives it its character though. It is the story of how it became a center for Canadian culture – musical, literary and artistic.

Travel 2015 May

Aman Redefines its Brand – And Tokyo Hotel Culture

by Robert Michael Poole

As a resident of Tokyo for ten years, I’ve been a frequent visitor to Japan’s culturally distinct ryokan, dotted around the countryside. The traditional inns, often located close to the natural hot springs that run through the spine of the country, are not only the top choice of foreign guests, but of most Japanese themselves, all seeking a feeling and experience of old tradition and comfort that no modern hotel can replicate. Until Now.

Travel 2015 February

The C+T Tour: Exploring the Island of Bermuda

by Robert Michael Poole

The island of Bermuda lay seemingly orphaned by the Caribbean, well northeast of tropical paradise islands of the Bahamas and Puerto Rico, some 1,100 miles away from Miami. Discovered by Spaniard Juan de Bemrudez (hence the name) in 1503, the islet of just 53 square kilometers is in fact closest to the state of North Carolina. Still a British Overseas Territory – with the Union Jack remaining in its flag – Bermuda stands alone as both a historical and scenic anomaly.

Travel 2014 September

High-Ranking Women of Old-Cambodia Inspire TEAV Boutique Hotel

by Robert Michael Poole

TEAV Boutique Hotel takes it name from a particularly resonant word in Cambodian society. During the 17th to 20th Centuries the term “teav” was used to describe high-ranking and respectable women in the upper-echelons of the Khmer civilization. It was also used to describe those who showed sophistication and hospitality, an idea the this unique hotel is committed to.

Travel 2014 April

Guam – Relaxation and Adventure on America’s Most Distant Territory

by Robert Michael Poole

Situated in the far west Pacific, south of Japan and east of the Philippines, the small island of Guam is the USA’s most far-flung territory. Part of Micronesia, a group of islands that includes the diving paradise of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), the Marshall Islands and Kiribati, it is often overlooked as a destination compared to the more well-known tropical paradise islands of the region. But the fact it is less frequented by independent travels is part of the appeal. Escape the resorts booked full by Japanese and Korean tourists, and Guam has plenty to offer.

Travel 2014 April

Bed Down in a Castle at Al Husn, Oman’s Most Luxurious Hotel

by Robert Michael Poole

While the neighboring cities of Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE get most of the attention, Muscat offers perhaps the most authentic experience of the Gulf region, offering history, charm and rugged landscapes from the coast to the inland mountains and deserts. Designed in the style of a Moorish fort, Muscat’s Al Husn offers the Sultanate of Oman’s most extravagant stay option.

Travel 2014 February

Honeymoon with Thresher Sharks on the Philippine Island of Malapascua

by Robert Michael Poole

The Philippines is, according to the local tourist authority’s tagline, “more fun” than any other destination in Asia. The country though is more diverse than most, and in recent times has been developing fast – not least in Cebu. Malapascua, just 2.5 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide, is home now to 6,000, of which most are young kids, many of which relocated here once Dutchman Dik de Boer discovered that the surrounding waters are home to one of the blue planet’s most majestic of creatures, the thresher shark.