Redesigned Clubhouse Puts New Muscle On The Reserve Club

Redesigned Clubhouse Puts New Muscle On The Reserve Club

Heidi Turner Communications Director : Jennifer Leppen
The current trend in golf course renovations is to restore classic designers’ original intent, as part of a return to more traditional playing experiences. With clubhouses, though, it’s been just the opposite, as more casual and open atmospheres have taken hold at even the most historic properties.
Usually, this has resulted in the most dramatic clubhouse transformations occuring when decades-old buildings are repurposed. But as an indication of just how sweeping the shift in club lifestyles has become in the new millennium, you don’t have to always go back 50 or 100 years, or into older cities and regions of the country, to find examples of 180-degree facility overhauls. One of the most striking renovations to be found in the industry, in fact, has been taking place in a structure that’s less than 20 years old—and in California’s Coachella Valley, of all places.
As 2019 began, The Reserve Club in Indian Wells, Calif., was fast approaching the completion of what it called a “restyling” and “enhancement” of the 30,000-sq. ft., Tuscan-style clubhouse that was erected shortly after the club was founded in 1998. All of the “restyling” and “enhancement” was being done to the tune of $10 million-plus, and involved a complete blowout of the building’s insides, with $1.6 million being spent for new doors and windows alone, according to Mike Kelly, The Reserve Club’s CEO/General Manager.
As Kelly led a visitor through the clubhouse while construction was in the homestretch towards the end of 2018, he made references to “George Washington” and “Knights of the Roundtable” when describing some of the interior design motifs that had previously prevailed (and to help explain why another $2.2 million was being spent on new furniture, fixtures and equipment).
“It definitely didn’t feel like you were in California,” Kelly says of the original clubhouse. “Pretty much everywhere you turned, you ran into something heavy and dark.”
So why not just blow everything up and go all-out Cali modern from the ground up? “The bones were great, and we saw we didn’t have to do that,” says Kelly, a 20-year industry veteran who came to The Reserve in 2015, after previously working at properties including PGA West in La Quinta, Calif. and The Preserve in Carmel, Calif.
“The exterior is unique and could still fit well with the club and how it is changing,” Kelly adds. “We just needed to repurpose the rooms to fit with how the club has become more casual, and to take better advantage of where [the clubhouse] is positioned on the property, with an incredible surrounding landscape and down-valley views.” CEO/General Manager Mike Kelly has drawn on The Reserve’s signature bridge as a theme for how the clubhouse renovation signals the transition from the club’s origins to its future, as it hits the 20-year mark.
Bringing about those changes, Kelly says, meant doing everything possible to open up the floor plan and create a “lighter look” throughout the interior, while eliminating the sense of enclosed exclusivity that was the dominant theme of the previous layout. Now, the emphasis would be on interconnecting inside rooms to create multiple gathering points and maximize their functional flexibility, while also creating ways to extend as much of the space as possible beyond the walls, to always enable and encourage full enjoyment of what was outside.
At the same time, working within the existing skeleton would make it possible to retain and enhance unique features like the massive stone fireplaces, sweeping archways and other classic touches that had been built into the original design.
The new, “enhanced and restyled” version of The Reserve clubhouse will still provide elegant space for formal dining and private events for those desiring those amenities. But it will also feature a multi-purpose al fresco kitchen into which a high-end, $30,000 mobile pizza oven can be rolled out, along with many other new bars and casual spaces, special-event areas, and expanded terraces in and around the clubhouse.
In fact, even though The Reserve is part of a community where the “low end” of real-estate offerings are “bungalows” that start just shy of $1 million—making it pretty likely that most of the members with on-site properties (only 30 of the 250 members are non-residents) have decent TV-watching options at home—the renovation has also included an outsized bet, in the form of four 75-inch flat screens around a full-service bar in the expanded men’s locker room, that the clubhouse will now become the preferred game-day gathering spot.
“There was no place to watch sports before,” says Kelly, who has drawn confidence from the membership’s 80% approval vote for the project that all of the clubhouse’s new features will be fully embraced. “But now we will have plenty of places, and reasons, to make this the first spot on the property where people will want to congregate.”
Ahead of the Game Some of the more unique original interior features of The Reserve clubhouse, such as massive stone fireplaces, sweeping archways and other classic touches, were retained and enhanced through the renovation.
While The Reserve may have had to overhaul its clubhouse more quickly into its lifecycle than most properties, it can point to many other parts of its 20-year history where it has been noticeably out in front of trends that have emerged during that timeframe to reshape the club business.
The club officially opened on Thanksgiving weekend in 1998, marking the culmination of a 10-year process to realize the dream of founder and developer Bob Lowe of Lowe Enterprises (The Reserve transitioned to a member-owned club in 2003-04.)
The property’s 700 acres (which extend into Palm Desert, Calif., in addition to Indian Wells) are unusually secluded and protected among the many golf communities in the Coachella Valley, bordered on one side by The Living Desert, a botanical garden and zoo, and on another by the University of California’s Deep Canyon Research Center.
Environmental stewardship was established as a founding principle for the property well before it opened, with more than 1,700 native trees and shrubs salvaged during construction that continue to thrive there today. The terrain offers the opportunity to enjoy a unique mix of plants native to the Valley and those that have been imported from the Southwest desert region, all carefully cultivated and maintained by a full-time staff led by Horticulturist and Arborist Lori Gavitt.
The incorporation of the desertscape (which accounts for 100 acres of the property) has been intentional not only to help conserve water in the interest of being responsible for the physical environmental, but also to introduce a unique element to the emotional environment that members and visitors encounter afer passing through The Reserve’s modest gatehouse.
“The desertscape is intended to help set the tone that this is not a big, gaudy place,” says Tom Cullinan, a Managing Broker for Reserve Realty and one of the original management-team members for the club operation.
“There’s no ostenatious entry [to the property] and everything is low-key,” Cullinan explains. “We want people to go through a ‘decompression zone’ as they come over our bridge and into the community. It’s as authentic and pure as anything you can find in the Valley.”
The desired prevailing atmosphere is also reinforced by special features such as “tranquility gardens” that can be found throughout the property. Then there’s “Mountain Top,” a secluded terraced area at one of the property’s highest points that is fully equipped for outdoor events and offers even better down-valley views than from the clubhouse. Available to Reserve members for no rental fee and able to accommodate groups of as many as 50 to 60, Cullinan says Mountain Top evokes the throwback appeal of the earliest days of the Valley’s development as a resort destination, calling it “a ‘Rat Pack-type of party place.”
While The Reserve was always intentionally conceived as a low-density community, with just 220 total home sites, that has by no means limited the level and variety of activities offered to and participated in by club members.
For golf, the mix of native and desert landscape provides a unique setting for the 18-hole championship course designed by Tom Weiskopf and Jay Moorish that is one of only a handful in the Valley with bentgrass greens. The Reserve’s new Golf Course Superintendent, Alan Stuessy, has a new irrigation system to further the property’s leadership in water-conservation efforts and environmental stewardship.
Reflecting the trend for providing additional holes that can be used for practice or short rounds and that go beyond a chip-and-putt nature, golf at The Reserve also includes a trio of “Trophy Holes,” made up of a regulation par-3, par-4 and par-5 that are separate from the main course but also available to all members to play at any time without reservations (no tee times are required to play the main course, either).
“[The trophy holes[ are as good as any golf holes we have,” says Kelly. “And we’ve seen that they’re great for families, too.”
The Reserve also offers a double-ended driving range measuring over 380 yards (see photo, pg. 22), And the club didn’t neglect golf when allocating capital-improvement dollars in anticipation of its 20th anniversary—concurrent with the clubhouse renovation, $1.5 million was also spent on upgrading the course’s original irrigation system.
Golf Course Superintendent Alan Stuessy, who came to The Reserve from PGA West in 2018, says the new system will bring even more efficiency and control to help the club stay out in front of its water-conservation efforts, which have always been a primary concern for operating any golf course in the Valley.
“Doing more to find new efficiencies fits with the culture and environmental direction that the club has always had and its emphasis on preserving the natural desert setting,” says Stuessy.
A Full Slate Director of Golf John Miller and his staff have ample room for instruction, and inspiration, with The Reserve’s double-ended, 380-yard driving range. The range complements the unique status of the club’s 18-hole championship golf course (and three additional “Trophy Holes”) as the only place to play while enjoying views of all three of the mountain ranges that frame the Coachella Valley.
The Reserve has also always checked all of the boxes for designing a property and planning member activities to provide a well-rounded club life beyond golf. Its clubhouse was positioned from the beginning to be the central part of a club-village concept that also includes separate structures for a fitness and wellness center, pro shop and the Lakehouse, a casual-dining venue.
From the start, the club’s full amenities list has reflected, and been expanded to stay in step with, the trends for more family-friendly and wellness-oriented offerings. Pickleball, yoga (including the aerial variety), a dog park, and hiking and walking trails (a total of 26 miles) are all now part of the mix and in many cases have been in place for years.
For its culinary program, The Reserve has benefitted from the strong and loyal following built up from the club’s opening by Executive Chef/Food & Beverage Director Hugh Duffy, an Irishman by way of Iowa who was one of the charter members of the club’s management team. The new dining capabilities and venues offered in the renovated clubhouse only promise to further expand the excitement that Duffy and his staff have always generated as part of their ongoing crusade to prove that Irish-inspired cuisine doesn’t have to be boring.
“It’s only boring if you’re bored with it,” Duffy told one local food reviewer, who then marveled over a brisket sandwich, featuring onions caramelized in Guinness beer, that has long been established as a lunchtime menu favorite at the club. Director of Membership, Sales & Marketing Denise Adams and Director of Special Events Nicole Hughes continue to develop new ways to promote all that The Reserve property can offer.
With The Reserve limited in how many members it can draw from on-site properties because of the development’s low-density nature, and with golf memberships also nearing capacity, offering a wide variety of amenities and events has increased in importance as the club has put added emphasis on expanding the non-resident segment of its membership ranks.
Director of Membership, Sales & Marketing Denise Adams—a former ClubCorp executive who works closely with The Reserve’s Director of Special Events, Nicole Hughes, to ensure that all of those who are on property, or coming to it, are well aware of all that’s available—says the buzz over the clubhouse makeover and other improvements has spiked “huge interest” in memberships, particularly among non-resident prospects.
But as always, the property itself will retain the greatest appeal. “It’s a place where you can be as busy and active as you want to be—but if you don’t want to do anything while here, that’s fine, too,” says Kelly. “The only thing we want to be overwhelming is your sense of awe for the surroundings.” C&RB Chuperosa Grille Hawk’s Nest Bar & Lounge About The Author Joe Barks
Joe Barks is the Editor of Club & Resort Business magazine, working out of Wayne, Pa. (suburban Philadelphia). He has been covering the club and resort industry since the launch of C&RB in April 2005 and during that time has written cover-story profiles of over 150 club and resort properties, as well as many additional articles about specific aspects of club management and profiles of leading club managers. Barks has been a writer and editor for specialized business publications for over 40 years, covering a wide variety of industries and professional disciplines over the course of his career. He is a four-time winner of Jesse H. Neal Awards from the American Business Press, known as the “Pulitzer Prizes” for industry trade publications. He has also been a freelance contributor to many leading national consumer and business publications, and served as Marketing Manager for the Hay Group, a leading worldwide management consulting firm. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania. Tell Us What You Think!

Read More…

The trends that have been changing India’s foodscape

The trends that have been changing India’s foodscape Here are some of the most exciting themes India’s dining scene saw last year Published: Feb 26, 2019 | 16:01:36 IST L-R: Cheese from Himalayan Cheese Factory; chef Kelvin Cheung; heirloom cauliflower being pickled
2018 saw some big trends emerge, evolve and take their places on our tables (and phones). Could more of this be what’s in store in 2019?
HOMEGROWN CHEESE
You can now buy quality Indian-made cheeses like burrata at Delhi’s Flanders Dairy Products , ricotta at Pune’s ABC Farms and camembert at Mumbai’s The Spotted Cow Fromagerie . And Sikkimese chhurpi is available on Amazon.com and at shops like Mumbai’s The Cheese Collective , Delhi’s The Altitude Store and Bengaluru’s 10 Cuts of Cheese, as well as restaurant and bar Toast & Tonic that will soon retail Begum Victoria . Learn cheese-making at places such as La Ferme Cheese , The Farm and Acres Wild . And now there’s cheese for a cause: Chennai’s Käse (91762 21898) offers cheese made by the differently abled; and Himalayan Cheese , has worked with Gujjar herders in Kashmir to make kalari, cheddar and Gouda. Saumya Ancheri
THE PLATE AS ART A post shared by Baarique (@baarique) on Nov 14, 2018 at 5:41am PST
After an unsuccessful trip to Ladakh to source metal mugs, design graduates Surkhi Matharu and Malika Budhira built Baarique , a brand that updates and refreshes traditional Indian dining ware. Employing craftsmen and artisans from Rajasthan, Haryana and UP, it works with copper, brass and kansa to create a range of tableware that depicts Indian herbs, flowers, fruit and even folklore. An amateur potter for many years, Rohit Kulkarni partnered with Bhairavi Naik to launch Curators of Clay , a line of handcrafted, modern, minimalist ceramic tableware that is ‘imperfectly perfect’. These are just some of the brands that have made Indian diners look at their plates more seriously. Smitha Menon
INDIAN CHEFS ON SCREEN L-R: A still from the show The Final Table ; chef Sandhu
In 2018, Netflix’s The Final Table had Amninder Sandhu compete against 23 other elite chefs from around the world. “Now it’s my job to make others believe in serious Indian cuisine,” said the head chef at Mumbai restaurant Arth and the only Indian contestant on the show. Vineet Bhatia , the first Indian to receive a Michelin star for his London restaurant, Zaika, was a judge on the show. Indian-origin Singaporean chef Sashi Cheliah took home the MasterChef Australia trophy (scoring 93 on 100 in the finale of Season 10). This year viewers can enjoy Asma Khan, of London restaurant Darjeeling Express, in Season 6 of Chef’s Table . Andrea Pinto
FOOD APPS
With loyalty programmes, cashback schemes and butter-smooth user experience, food delivery apps like Zomato , Swiggy (which bought Scootsy in 2018), Foodpanda (integrated into Ola cabs) and Uber Eats have changed the way we eat. Market leaders Zomato and Swiggy now serve 35 million orders between them across nearly 100 Indian cities each month. And now, with restaurant booking app EazyDiner , getting a table at some of the hottest restaurants in the country (and even Gaggan in Bangkok, where the wait can be months long) is possible with just a tap. Salil Deshpande
EDIBLE FLOWERS

Read More…

Transit Retail: Optimising revenue potential and passenger experience

February 26, 2019 SHARE
The Yesteryears… It is always interesting to revisit the pages of history to know the origin of things. The journey of travel retail is in its 71st year. The Shannon airport, in Ireland, is where the first steps were taken in 1947. This airport served as a transit stop for flights between Europe and North America. Once the passengers had passed passport control, they could shop to their hearts content without ending up having to pay taxes and duties on their purchases. It goes without saying that airports and metro stations offers exciting opportunities for retailers
The concept caught momentum in 1960s when two American entrepreneurs – Charles Feeney and Robert Miller – started DFS (Duty Free Shop). Hong Kong was their first destination followed by fast-paced global expansion. Today, DFS stands as one of the world’s largest and most influential retailer.
The India Story
In India, the history of airport retail isn’t very old. The major turning point that gave a boost to travel retail (specific to airports) in the country was with the emergence of PPP airports. Saloni Nangia from Technopak elaborates, “In India, the focus came only a few years ago, with the PPP Airports (New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Hyderabad) and some AAI Airports taking a lead. So the years from 2008 onwards, when the new PPP airports came up, were the starting point. The experience and business model has evolved since then.”
To hear it from the spokesperson of GVK – the company which leads Mumbai International Airport Ltd. that manages and operates the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai, “Travel retail is completely dependent on the travelling population. With 300+ million passengers in FY 17-18 travelling to/ from Indian airports, growing at 16.5 percent YoY, and travel retail projections indicate that this is bound to grow by leaps and bounds. As per the report of Technavio, global travel retail market is expected to grow by 8 percent YoY upto 2021.”
According to GVK, the future of travel retail holds lots of potential. As per RedSeer Research, India will be amongst the top 10 global duty-free markets by 2025. This is well accentuated by the fact that today airports have evolved from being a pure utility to destinations offering various services, facilities and conveniences under one roof.
As the spokesperson adds, “With this evolution, passengers not only decide the airline they want to travel on but also select the preferred airport(s), depending on the transit patterns. In India, the airport infrastructure is continuously growing. Not only the metro airports but Tier II/ III airports are expanding their infrastructure, followed by the service offerings. This is considering the fact that there is a significant jump in the travelling population with an increase in the purchasing power, more business needs, etc. At Mumbai Airport, our observation is that more than 98 percent passengers spend an average of one hour at the airport for domestic flights, while 83 percent passengers spend around two hours for international flights.”
Talking about the conversion rate, the GVK spokesperson points out that given the right product assortment, a passenger can easily be converted from a window shopper to an actual shopper. Though he points out that in India, the conversion rate is still low compared to major global airports – less than 30 percent, but we are gradually seeing an increase in conversion rates.
The privatization of airports began in India in 2009. This was also the time Travel Food Services spotted the opportunity offered in the space of food retailing and took the leap of faith to be a part of the revolution and evolution of Airport Retailing in India.
Gaurav Dewan , Chief Operating Officer & Business Head – Travel Food Services shares, “We had started in the initial days, when airports were just getting privatised and not many options were available in terms of retail or F&B. Back in those days, the challenges were many, right from getting and creating brands to supply chain, everything was nascent. There was not a single day we did not learn, and we are still learning.”
Sharing details about the customer differentiation, he adds, “The profile of a person who goes to a first-class lounge is completely different from a person who eats at a food court. We plan our outlets as per the customer preferences, the right mix of partner brands, in-house brands and local favourites. Partner brands are similar, like a Dominos that appeals to all classes of TG. At the same time, we also introduce local favourites; for instance, Visakhapatnam has Sai Ram Parlour, Kolkata has Kusum Rolls, Delhi has a DilliStreat and so on.”
Scouting the Opportunities
It goes without saying that airports and metro stations offers exciting opportunities for retailers. The same cannot be said about highways and railway stations. Before we get into the why of this, it is interesting to hear from Saloni Nangia on the opportunities all of these offer together. “There are multiple opportunities for retail and food services in travel retail, including airports, railway stations, highways, bus stations, and now metro stations in many cities,” she says.
But then have these been well utilized? Nangia is of the opinion that the opportunities haven’t as yet been truly capitalized upon. “While there are basic retail and food services options available in most of these cases, these opportunities have not been designed or planned to create experience/ convenience for the passenger and generate additional revenue for the travel operator. Worldwide, non fare revenue (revenue generated through all other activities apart from the travel fare) can be as high as 55-60 percent of the total revenue generated by the travel operator,” she explains.
Lakhs of passengers use the metros, railways and highways on a daily basis. This is reason enough to catch the attention of a discerning retailer and plan out a retail format that can be replicated across the country. According to Panneerselvam Madanagopal, Chief Executive Officer, Stakeholder Management Consulting, the Reliance A1 Plaza was supposed to be a game changer but then the project fizzled out.
Challenges of Travel Retail
Talking about the challenges transit retail faces in India, Nangia says, “Transit retail, especially in airports, is not of the same scale as we see in some key transit hubs across the world. Usually passengers get to spend time in transit airports across the world which helps in increasing travel retail revenue. Indian airlines and airports have not been able to develop any of the Indian cities as an international transit hub, so there is negligible revenue opportunity there. In the domestic market, some of the larger airports (Delhi, Mumbai) have become transit airports for domestic air travel and offer a good retail option for the transit passengers. Their role as transit hubs might become lesser with many more short haul flights being introduced by the airlines between smaller cities and with the Udaan scheme gaining momentum.”
And like at malls and high streets, is there a concept of ‘suitable shopping time’ within the airports? According to GVK, it is more related to the product mix. Explaining this, the spokesperson shares, “This is true as more the number of passengers, more will be the shopping and higher the conversions. However, there are other parameters which need to be kept in mind apart from the concept of ‘suitable time’. Conversions are directly related to the type of products offered, value deals and the overall assortment of commercial offerings. For example, if there are no product offerings which cater to the requirement of business traffic, despite the fact that there are business travellers, it will be difficult for an airport to see higher conversions.”
So, what actually pulls the shoppers to shop at airports considering that the similar brands are present at malls and high streets? Is it the pricing or the need? The GVK spokesperson strongly attributes the answer to the overall experience.
“Today’s intelligent customer looks for the value in each transaction, whether at the airport or outside. With more travel, airports are becoming destinations in themselves and passengers spend considerable time at the airports. With these three key variables, it is incorrect to say that there is more of need based shopping at the airports. In case of products where pricing differentiation is high compared to city side pricing (e.g. liquor), passengers tend to shop at the airport. Also, overall experience of the passengers at the airport is significantly higher compared to downtown/ malls, thereby further alleviating the tendency to shop at the airport,” he says.
Just like it happens in malls, the brands and the developer here work in sync as well to promote consumerism. There is a contract in place and the brands receive a thorough hand holdings and when needed. The GVK spokesperson shares, “A typical contract duration is for 5 years however the duration varies if in case it is a master concessionaire. We have a mix of revenue sharing and minimum guarantee models. We work on the premise of ‘win-win’ with our brands. Through various measures we ensure that the brand continues to perform well at the airport, maintaining a long-term relationship. These measures include routine reviews, promotions, marketing, etc. Discontinuance is the last, extreme step.”
On the zoning, the spokesperson explains that zoning is dependent on what are the varied categories of passengers and their requirements. Accordingly, various commercial categories are formed. As detailed by the Airports Council International (ACI), there are typically six categories of commercial offerings – Sit down restaurants, fast food restaurants, convenience retail, specialty retail, duty free and services. Basis passenger travel behaviour, the zoning takes place. Some examples are: basis Passenger Journey Chart, passenger anxiety levels are highest pre-security/ immigrations.
“Thus, having various commercial offerings in that location may not be fruitful. Similarly, essential passenger services (forex/ ATM, etc) are required at multiple locations. Convenience retail seems to be beneficial at gates or at arrivals. Moreover, similar categories are zoned together. It is to be noted that airport zoning is very much different from other commercial setups, e.g. malls. In a mall, it is the area that drives sales whereas in the airport environment, it is the sales that drives an area,” the GVK spokesperson states.
Understanding the Distinction
As Madanagopal puts it, broadly speaking, the two categories that help understand the difference between travel and transit retail can be classified under – Functional and Experiential. According to him, “Where metro stations and highways can serve the customers with goods and services that are more need based, airports usually house retailers with products that fall under the experiential category which include more of lifestyle products. He further says highways can be perfect destinations for promoting local handicrafts and local food as well besides being a general hub for foods and refreshments.
Nangia elaborates on the category distinctions, “Categories for travel retail can be broadly divided into 5 : Convenience led/ basic necessities, including pharma, personal care, travel accessories, water, books, gifting among others; Browsing/ impulse/ gifting led including mobiles, computers, gadgets and accessories, fragrances, watches, jewelry, toys, writing instruments – these are also attractive for passengers from smaller cities transiting through bigger travel locations as their reach might be limited in smaller cities.”
Highlighting an interesting point, Nangia further shares, “At times brands are present at the airport as a marketing investment as well, for the consumers to see and connect with the brand; local food / craft products which are local specialties; services including spa, entertainment including screens, among others and food, including convenience, café, fast food, food courts, local cuisines, bars among others. For international travel, duty free is a significant category, especially for alcohol, tobacco, chocolates, fragrances and beauty products. It extends to luxury and bridge to luxury brands as well.”
Talking about brand and category mix at airports, according to GVK, inclusion of regional brands/ stores gives a local, distinct offering to the passengers, especially to those passengers who are not from the local region. This category of offering also helps in differentiating the overall commercial offerings of an airport from the other. For example, at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, Mumbai, there is a healthy combination of Indian/ Maharashtrian art and craft, souvenirs, food, etc.
The spokesperson elaborates, “Not only this, our promotions and events also focus on popularising the local flavours. We work very closely with the local brands who can showcase their unique products to the passengers along with the required commercial viability. The incentives for such concessionaires cannot be similar and depending on the requirement and mutual discussions, the required action is taken.”
Sharing details on the how best they go about choosing the right mix of food brands, Dewan states, “Our brand mixes are developed with a lot of consumer surveys, internal and external stakeholder’s deliberations and so on. We look at creating experiences – food is close to our heart and changing the scenario at travel ports across India is something we are very passionate about. Therefore, we carefully pick and choose brands for a particular geography. It is a mix of international, national, local favourites and in-house bespoke; to quote an instance – in Kolkata, we have Dominos, KFC, The Coff ee Bean & Tea Leaf etc. from international brand partnerships. Then there is Café Coff ee Day, Wow Momos from national brand partnerships and finally there are some local favourite like Kusum Rolls from the streets of Kolkata, and Flury’s a local favourite bakery. At the same time there are Biryani Bhai an in-house bespoke concept, The Irish House and Copper Chimney for North Indian tastes.”
Exploring In-flight Retail
The joy of shopping mid-air can be blissful provided that options given are alluring enough. No one wants to keep looking at a catalogue that has nothing better to offer than the same old pearl set or his and her wrist watch set.
“The product mix has to be meaningful. Only then inflight retail can be successful,” shares Madanagopal. He minces no words when he talks about how airlines in India haven’t truly capitalized on the opportunity before them. “It is just that the prohibitive prices keeping the customers away. If they get their pricing strategy right they can capitalize on the passengers they are flying. The logistics and managing should be done in a very professional manner. It can become a strong revenue stream for airlines if done and managed well.”
Sharing his list of airlines that can be an inspiration for other airlines, Madangopal is all praise for Emirates, Qatar and Qantas airlines. He says, “Emirates remains the undisputed leader when we talk of in-flight retail, but I am very impressed by Qatar’s offering of content and shopping catalogue. The shopping catalogue has a range of products to choose from including fi ne wine and electronic gadgets.”
He further highlights an important category that has yet not been capitalized upon by any airlines – the kid’s wear category. “There are a lot many business travelers and they would want to go home with a gift for their children. No airlines offer things a man or woman can take home for his/ her child.”
Dos & Don’ts
Anand Kumar , Executive Director – ABRA , a Dubai based firm that has to its credit designing a host of stores across 17 airports to date discusses in depth what brands need to keep in mind while setting up their storesat airports and other travel hubs. “Brands have to be selective in what they decide to sell in travel retail, it’s a niche and is not to be treated as another point of sale, as in a new domestic location. They must not go in with their full portfolio, as people tend to look for novelty and travel retail exclusives, for which many brands do successfully with specific sizes and promo-packs (mainly in beauty and confectionery products). This also makes way for different price points that cannot be compared with what is available in the domestic retail,” he says.
“Last minute gifting represents a huge opportunity for travel retailers, when the customer might not have the time to pick up something during their hectic trip and the airport represents a last opportunity to make a purchase to take home, and hence brands must appeal to this audience with the right assortment of products. Finally brands have to make it convenient for the shopper to pick and go, as there is limited time to engage the customer or try a product and hence the merchandisers in travel retail have to be trained to manage a customer that’s in a hurry, to avoid a lost sale,” he adds.
On the designintricacies for food stores at the airport, Dewan says, “Airports today are equipped with more experience zones than a mall or high-street. Basis the location of the outlet and passenger preference, we design our outlets, and some of them are notch better than those at a mall or a high-street. For instance, the experience one gets at our DilliStreat outlet at IGIA T3 departures, GVK Lounge at CSIA T2 departures, or Irish house are incomparable. At the same time, we have take-away counters and food courts, wherein look and feel and ambience are all similar. However, the menu is designed basis a travel port.”
BRAND SPEAK
It is interesting to visit the history books of brands and their journey of having stores at airports and other travel/ transit retail destinations. To take an example of Almond House , one of Hyderabad’s most coveted dessert and bakery delicacies brand, the journey to have a store at the Rajiv Gandhi International Airport in Hyderabad began in 2015. And just within three years today, they have four stores at the same airport.
Citing the journey so far, Chaitanya, CEO – Almond House, says, “In July 2015, we started operations in Domestic Terminal in RGIA Hyderabad, essentially as a mechanism to boost the brand visibility among our target customers. Having an airport store also reiterated our super premium positioning of the brand, also experience and the ambience at an airport rendered itself well to our positioning as well. However, it turned out to be positive contributor to our top-line as well, since then there has been no looking back. As we speak, today we are working on our 4th store in RGIA Hyderabad and we are in talks with Delhi and Mumbai airports for launching our stores.”
And the journey doesn’t stop there. According to Chaitanya the brand is also liaising with international airports such Singapore and Dubai for Almond House stores. But then no journey comes without its share of challenges. Though Almond House has not much to lament about except the fact that they a minimal time window to let know the customer who they are and the quality of the products.
Elaborating on their product portfolio, he shares, “Our stance is that we are a ‘Gourmet brand from India for the Global palette’, hence we always did products that suit a wider audience, today we offer Vegan Sweets, Gluten Free that are becoming mainstay across the globe. We have absolutely fresh products that are pre-packed in travel friendly packaging that are easy for the customers to pick n go! We offer special combination/ assortment packs for the travellers to the best of our offering at one go.”
BIBA, a brand that resonates with chic Indian ethnic wear has been attracting a lot of attention at the airports with their swanky designs alluring women to have a look at their collection. Siddharth Bindra – Managing Director, BIBA shares, “We have our presence across all metro cities. Our stores are located at majority airports like Delhi-2, Mumbai-2 and Goa -1.”
On the key things to be kept in mind, Bindra says, “A good mix of all variants from all collections i.e. from ethnic to Indo-western to western wear need to be stocked. The availability of products in all sizes is also to be kept in mind. The store display needs to be given extra care. It needs to be appealing and easy to explore for customers, as you get a very little time to attract and engage the customers at such places. The staff should be well equipped with language and should be extremely disciplined, polite and helpful.”
For the brands, one of the challenge that hits them the most is with regards to the operational cost. There is no dearth of customers but then to maintain the ROI with the high operational cost does create a roadblock for growth.
Chaitanya says, “Given the high operational costs it does take little longer to break even than our high street stores. Higher operational costs are owing to special packaging, logistics and staff who are to be verified for security etc.”
Talking about the most prominent challenges, Bindra says, “Stores open earlier and stay open till late, which means more shifts and odd hour shifts, though there is minimal staffing, as stores are small. Staff members need additional security checks to work inside the airport, so recruiting and on boarding takes longer. Some airports and stores even need multilingual staff members and lastly the supply calendars have to be planned far in advance as delivery times are strict. This leaves little room for ad hoc re-supplies.”
Hidesign as a band has earned an international reputation for itself with a presence overseas so the brand’s presence at the airports is well received by the passengers. Dilip Kapur , President Hidesign, says, “In India, we opened our second outlet at the Hyderabad Rajiv Gandhi Airport International Departures area, the first one is in the Domestic Departures area. We are planning to open new stores at airports and malls by this year December end. We will open stores at airports in Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Kochi, while other stores we plan to launch them in Tier I cities.”
Sharing details about their foray into airport retailing, Kapur says, ‘We got into airport retail way back in 2009, as we understood the importance of the airport stores since then. We believe that airport is a very significant platform for our brand as our ideal Hidesign customer is well-travelled and successful. We are currently present in 12 airport stores and this year, we plan to double that number. We do significantly well at the airports.” According to him, with the decision to privatize retail at more airports there will be no more roadblocks only opportunities.
Talking about the highest selling SKUs at the airports, Kapur reveals, “Products for personal use such as wallets, shoes, laptop bags and travel bags are an easy fit and also make great gifts. Travel themed products are another great option.”
Going by its name, one would have expected The Bombay Store to have their presence at the Mumbai Airport but their foray into airport retailing began its journey with a store at the Hyderabad Airport on June 09, 2018. Samson Peter , General Manager, Operations – The Bombay Store, shares, “The Bombay Store opened its first Airport Retail Store in SRA (Security Restricted Area) of Domestic departures of Hyderabad Airport on 9th June-2018, we had forecasted a great opportunity into this business model at Airport Terminals where the brands recognition products and value can be driven across the country and overseas through all our Airport Customers travelling to various destinations within India and globally. We had a great learning and opportunity to understand on how an Airline Customers are inclined towards our category of products and how they shop differently from our Airport Store vis-à-vis our other Mall or Stand-alone store.”
Elaborating on this, he explains: “Airport stores are an ideal shopping location for passengers with a holiday mindset, inspiring them for more impulsive shopping with better deals around the store.”
Logistical Roadblocks
Besides having to deal with bureaucratic formalities, the private players operating in transit retail hubs which come under government control, there are logistical challenges that retailers need to overcome before they are able to set the ball rolling in true sense for travel retail in India. This applies to transit retail as well to some extent.
Nangia says, “The biggest challenge in India is the lack of recognition of the fact that well planned travel retail and food services in a travel hub can be a big revenue contributor to the travel operator, therefore there is reluctance in investing and developing the right plan and infrastructure for it. This should ideally be done at the planning and construction stage. Even though there is a large amount of new travel infrastructure which have been developed in the last decade (airports, metro stations, highways, some train stations among others), there is still a very limited focus and thought into this aspect.”
Reiterating this is Chaitanya, “Availability of the real estate within airports are critical for growth, as major international airports are designed with a non-aero revenues in mind, in India it is still a work in progress.”
Elaborating on the role played by the government that if reversed and revised upon can be a boon, Nangia reveals, “Most of the travel hubs are owned and managed by the Indian government. There is very limited focus on creating the right commercial model for the travel hubs, with no planning. The retailers and food service companies are selected through a bidding process, with the highest bidder getting the contract to operate the space.”
Adding further on where we stand as compared to the international dynamics, she says, “To plan and manage the business as a key revenue contributor and segment, both for the brand and the travel operator vis a vis just an opportunistic channel.”
Peter talks about what makes airport retailing a difficult process to get through for brands saying, “Getting into an airport retail business in itself was a great challenge. Commercial airport terminals are most secured and protected locations in the country. As a standard process, each retailer has to undergo a specific verification process by the Ministry of Civil Aviation and other agency responsible for airport’s security, which in itself was quite a new and challenging task for us. We also had a challenge of planning and executing our supply chain management and on how quickly and effectively we can replenish the right stock to the store at right time without disturbing the sales opportunities.”
Marketing & Promotions
No matter where the store is housed, no brand can afford to neglect indulging in marketing and promotion initiatives to attract the shoppers. The store design too needs to be chic and to an extent eye catching.
A pre-requisite for an airport store in terms of design and service according to Chaitanya is, “It has to be precise and laser sharp in communicating the positioning of the brand, clubbed with a superior experience by the staff which facilitates conversion in the shortest span of time. Engaging a wide range of customers is not an easy task, from a first-time traveller to a CEO, the staff needs to be ready take on any queries from informed and innocent customers. Engaging and connecting the customers where he is in a hurry to get to their boarding gates is never an easy task and hence great body language helps to establish the positive connect faster.”
Elaborating on marketing initiatives that the brand undertakes, he says, “We do occasional marketing activities within the airports especially during the festive season such as Raksha Bandhan, we offer free Rakhis for the customers and Diyas for Diwali as a token of our thanks to customers which has been now a regular affair for many years at our high street stores.”
Conclusion
On a concluding note, Nangia shares, “Success of travel retail lies in understanding the basics of the business: It is important to understand the profile of passengers traveling from each travel location, the journeys/ routes they undertake and the time available to them. It helps in understanding their requirements for retail and reasons for shopping/ eating at the location. This requirement is then extrapolated on the space available at each travel location for developing the right infrastructure and experience for travel retail. Based on the categories relevant for each location, the space is divided optimally to maximize the productivity and revenue potential for the retailers and the location overall. Therefore, it is important that travel operators and retailers jointly work towards optimizing the revenue potential and passenger experience.”

Read More…

A China Wins Twice Proposition: The Belt and Road Initiative

in World — by Dr James M Dorsey — February 26, 2019 Image Source: Wikipedia
China’s dazzling infrastructure and energy-driven Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), a US$1 trillion investment across Eurasia and beyond, has lost its shine. Increasingly, China’s leveraging of the initiative is being perceived by a growing number of recipients and critics alike as a geopolitical power play, a tool to shape a new world order partly populated by autocrats and authoritarians, and progressively characterized by intrusive surveillance, potential debt traps, and perceived as a self-serving way to address domestic overcapacity. [i]
As a result, China’s most immediate problem is a growing perception that its principle of win-win economic cooperation often amounts to little more than China wins twice, both economically and geopolitically. It is forcing China to focus in the short-term less on the Great Game—the rivalry with the United States and its allies for dominance in a swath of land stretching from the China Sea to Europe’s Atlantic coast—and more on ensuring that it does not lose hard-won ground. Ironically, China’s immediate allies as well as rivals in efforts to maintain its status are not exclusively the United States, India or Japan, but also its newly assertive, geopolitically ambitious friends in the Gulf: Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Iran.
Nowhere is this truer than in Pakistan, which — with its Prime Minister Imran Khan and together with Malaysia [ii] and Myanmar [iii] — is leading the charge in resisting China’s approach to the Belt and Road and seeking to change its focus. A $45 billion-plus crown jewel of the Belt and Road, Pakistan is insisting that Chinese investment—in what both countries have dubbed the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—shift from infrastructure and energy to agriculture, job creation, and the enabling of third-party investment, primarily from countries of the Gulf. [iv]
Fuelling Chinese concern, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have exploited Chinese irritation with Pakistan’s demands, as well as initial criticism of the crackdown on Turkic Muslims in the north-western province of Xinjiang, to their advantage. Massive aid and investment, to the tune of $30 billion in balance of payment support, deferred oil import payments and investment in the troubled Pakistani province of Balochistan, which borders Iran, has helped the Khan government to avoid approaching the International Monetary Fund (IMF) cap in hand to bail it out of an imminent financial crisis. [v]
It also shielded China—which refrained from rushing to Pakistan’s financial aid—from potentially embarrassing disclosures of the financial terms of CPEC-related projects that the IMF was demanding as part of any bailout. [vi] Media reports said that Pakistan had told the IMF about having to pay China $40 billion over 20 years for $26.5 billion in Chinese funding of CPEC-related projects. [vii]
The official disclosures would have likely reinforced notions that the Belt and Road is less benign than China asserts. China worried, however, that greater Saudi and UAE influence in a restive region on Iran’s border—which could serve as a launchpad for possible efforts to destabilize the Islamic Republic—may complicate the security of its massive investment and suck the People’s Republic into the escalating maelstrom of Saudi-UAE-Iranian rivalry. [viii] China and Saudi Arabia were careful not to raise the issue of Pakistan during Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s recent visit to Beijing that was designed to put on display ever closer cooperation and shore up Prince Mohammed’s image tarnished by the Yemen war and the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. [ix]
Bolstered by Gulf support, Pakistan has put its money where its mouth is. In January, Pakistan asked China to shelve a joint $2 billion coal power project because of its expense. Pakistan planning and development minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtyar advised his Chinese counterpart that the 1,320-megawatt Rahim Yar Khan project was not a priority. The government was reportedly planning to slash hundreds more CPEC-related projects. [x] Two Chinese companies that drafted a master plan to turn the strategic Baloch port of Gwadar into a smart city, meanwhile, complained to the government about delays in the project’s approval. [xi]
Pakistan was just the last, albeit most crucial, node on the Belt and Road to challenge China’s commercial and geopolitical approach. Malaysia has suspended or cancelled $26 billion in Chinese-funded projects. [xii] Speaking during a visit to Beijing, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohmad warned the Chinese: “you don’t want a situation where there’s a new version of colonialism happening because poor countries are unable to compete with rich countries in terms of just open, free trade.” Mahathir was echoing his earlier assertion that “we gain nothing” from Chinese investment and risk selling off the country to foreigners. [xiii]
At about the same time, Myanmar was negotiating a significant scaling back of a Chinese-funded port project on the Bay of Bengal from one that would cost $ 7.3 billion to a more modest development that would cost $1.3 billion, in a bid to avoid shouldering an unsustainable debt. Myanmar feared that the debt burden would ultimately force it to follow in Sri Lanka’s footsteps, with debt having left Sri Lanka with no choice but to hand over its strategically located Hambantota port to the Asian giant. [xiv]
China was also pressuring Myanmar to revive the suspended $3.6 billion Myitsone dam project, which if built as previously designed would flood 600 square kilometres of forestland in northern Kachin state and export 90 percent of the power produced to China. In return, China reportedly offered to support Myanmar, which has been condemned by the United Nations, Western countries, and some Muslim nations for its repressive campaign against the Rohingya, some 700,000 of whom fled to Bangladesh last year. [xv]
Similarly, recent protests against the forced resettlement of eight Nepali villages persuaded China International Water and Electric Corporation (CWE), a subsidiary of China Three Gorges, to consider pulling out of a 750-megawatt hydropower project. CWE said it was looking at cancelling the project because it was “financially unfeasible.” [xvi]
The Soup Barometer
Ambivalence toward China and its signature Belt and Road is perhaps most complex in Central Asia, where a heavy soup made of pulled noodles, meat, and vegetables symbolizes the region’s close cultural and ethnic ties with the People’s Republic’s repressed Turkic and Hui Muslims also explains growing Central Asian unease with China’s re-education campaign in Xinjiang and the Belt and Road. Named Ashlan Fu and introduced to Kyrgyzstan in the late nineteenth century by Dungans, exiled Chinese Hui Muslims who fled over the Tien Shan Mountains after a failed rebellion in 1877, the soup has become a staple of Kyrgyz cuisine. [xvii]
Members of Kyrgyzstan’s far right Kyrk Choro (Forty Nights) group protested in December and January outside the Chinese embassy in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek against the inclusion of ethnic Kyrgyz in the up to one million Muslims detained in re-education camps in Xinjiang as part of the Chinese crackdown. In a sign of the times, Kyrk Choro, a nationalist group that has gained popularity and is believed to have the support of the Kyrgyz ministries of interior and labour, migration, and youth, and the National Security Committee (GKNB), focused its protest exclusively on ethnic Kyrgyz in Chinese detention. [xviii]
Acting as vigilantes, Kyrk Choro raided clubs in Bishkek four years ago in a campaign against prostitution, accusing Chinese nationals of promoting vice. In a video of an attack on a karaoke club, a Kyrk Choro leader showed a receipt that featured a girl as one of the consumed iteYet, while standing up for the rights of ethnic Kyrgyz and Kyrgyz nationals, Kyrk Choro has also called for Uighurs, the Turkic Muslims that populate Xinjiang, to be booted out of Bishkek’s most popular clothing bazaar and replaced by ethnic Kyrgyz. [xix]
Kyrk Choro further demanded the expulsion of illegal Chinese migrants. It insisted that the government check the documents of migrants, including those who had obtained Kyrgyz citizenship over the last decade, among them 268 Chinese nationals who in majority were of Kyrgyz descent. Kyrk Choro’s contradictory demands and claims reflect not only a global trend towards ethnic and religious nationalism with undertones of xenophobia, but also concern that Belt and Road-related projects serve Chinese rather than Kyrgyz and Central Asian interests. The Kyrgyz government recently reported that 35,215 Chinese citizens had arrived in the country in 2018, many of them as construction workers on Chinese-funded projects. [xx]
Political scientist Colleen Wood noted that social media activists were linking criticism of Chinese commercial practices with China’s crackdown in Xinjiang. “One widely-shared image, which declares “Don’t let anyone take your land,” depicts a strong fist—adorned with a Kyrgyz flag—stopping a spindly hand—marked by a Chinese flag—from snatching factories and a field,” Wood wrote in The Diplomat. Wood said that some activists compared Chinese practice to the 2002 demarcation of the Chinese-Kyrgyz border during which the Central Asian nation handed over 1,250 square kilometres of land to China. Another Facebook page, Kytai baskynchylygyna karshybyz, which roughly translates to “we’re against Chinese aggression,” posted articles about Chinese mining companies operating in Kyrgyzstan, which are a target of Kyrgyz protesters, alongside articles depicting the intrusiveness of the crackdown in Xinjiang, according to Wood. [xxi]
The Kyrgyz government, much like the vast majority of Muslim countries, has so far avoided taking China to task on its crackdown for fear of jeopardizing its relations with the People’s Republic. Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov insisted that “the ethnic Kyrgyz of China are citizens of China, who obey the laws of their country. How can we intervene in their domestic matters? We can’t.” [xxii]
If Kazakhstan—where the issue of ethnic Kazakhs detained in China has flared up—is anything to go by, the Kyrgyz government is walking a tightrope. Kyrgyz national Asyla Alymkulova recently established the Committee to Protect the Kyrgyz People in China after her husband, Shairbek Doolotkhan, a Chinese-born Muslim, vanished in October during a business trip to Xinjiang. Doolotkhan’s company subsequently advised Alymkulova that her husband had been “sent away to study” in a camp. Short of a reunion with her husband, there is little that is likely to convince Alymkulova, [xxiii] or the relatives of thousands of other Central Asians, including up to 7,500 Kazakhs, that Chinese policy towards Muslims is benign and benefiting the community and the region’s progress.
That, in turn, will not make things easier for the Kyrgyz and other Muslim governments at a time when ethnic and cultural identities in a nationalistic and at times xenophobic environment are becoming prevalent. Kyrgyz attitudes towards Ashlan Fu may be the barometer. Anti-Chinese sentiment in Central Asia simmers at the surface, with Tajikistan having become the first Central Asian nation to be trapped in debt. As a result, Tajikistan was forced to cede control of some 1,158 square kilometres of disputed territory in exchange for having an undisclosed amount of Chinese debt written off. [xxiv]
Scholars of international relations Robert Daly and Matthew Rojanski noted on a recent trip to Russia, Kazakhstan, and China that was intended to gauge responses to the Belt and Road that Eurasian nations were eager to benefit from Chinese investment, but wary of Beijing’s intentions. “We found an eagerness to participate in projects that support national development, but deep resistance to any westward or northward expansion of China’s practices, ideas, or population […] Neither (Russia or Kazakhstan) hope that China’s power will increase with its investments,” the scholars said. [xxv]
Matching Words with Deeds
Debt has been a focal point of criticism of the Belt and Road. It has allowed China to fly under the radar on other controversial issues, such as its support for the kind of dirty-power projects in Central and South Asia and Africa, which the People’s Republic has banned at home because of the increased cost of carbon pricing and air pollution regulations associated with coal-fired power plants. “BRI has the potential to transform economies in China’s partner countries. Yet it could also tip the world into catastrophic climate change,” warned China environment expert Isabel Hilton, noting that coal-driven power was long at the heart of China’s economic development. “The more than 70 countries that are signed up to BRI (Belt and Road Initiative) have an average GDP of around one-third of that of China. If they adopt China’s development model, which resulted in a doubling of China’s greenhouse gas emissions in the first decade of the century, it would make the emissions targets in the Paris Agreement impossible,” added climate change scholar Nicholas Stern. [xxvi]
Chinese President Xi Jinping has capitalized on the American withdrawal from the Paris Agreement—the landmark United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on greenhouse-gas-emissions mitigation, adaptation, and finance—by projecting China as a leader in environmental good governance. In 2016, Xi called for a “green, healthy, intelligent, and peaceful” Belt and Road. [xxvii] He urged participating countries to “deepen cooperation in environmental protection, intensify ecological preservation and build a green Silk Road.” On paper, Chinese environmental good governance looks good. The problem is that the government’s guidelines are non-binding and often ignored. As a result, Xi has yet to back up words with deeds. China is developing some 240 coal projects with a total generating capacity of 251 gigawatts in 25 countries that include developments in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, and Zimbabwe, and is also funding new coal capacity in Egypt, Tanzania, and Zambia. Many of those projects do not incorporate carbon capture technology that would align them with global efforts to control climate change. [xxviii]
Chinese financial institutions are the world’s largest financier of overseas coal plants, investing $15 billion in coal projects from 2013 to 2016 through international development funds, with another $13 billion in proposed funding […] Chinese firms are involved in the construction, ownership, or financing of at least 16 percent of all coal-fired power stations under development outside China, according to a report published by environmental advocacy groups CoalSwarm, Sierra Club, and Greenpeace. [xxix] Huang Wei, a climate and energy campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia, warned that Chinese banks’ and companies’ investments in coal abroad are a cause of major concern because of their potential to lock in more climate warming emissions in our carbon-constrained world […] If China wants to enhance its leadership on climate and ‘ecological civilization,’ Chinese companies’ and banks’ investment must steer away from coal towards renewable alternatives, such as wind and solar.” [xxx]
Hilton notes that the heavy price China paid for its coal addiction in water scarcity, acid rain, and air pollution, coupled with the country’s gradual shift from an industry to a services-based economy, has forced it to create ecological safeguards and emphasize clean, green energy. The problem, Hilton said, is that “while China is making commendable efforts to clean up at home and reduce its carbon emissions, the Belt and Road Initiative threatens to lock China’s partners into the same high-emission development that China is now trying to exit.” Symptomatic of the China-centric focus of the Belt and Road, China’s push for dirty energy beyond its own borders is a bid to support its coal and energy companies that faced a bleak future because of reform at home that emphasized renewable energy instead of coal. [xxxi]
Quoting energy and environmental scholar Kelly Sims Gallagher, Hilton said that more than half of 50 Chinese-financed, coal-fired power plants constructed overseas between 2001 and 2016 used low-efficiency, sub-critical coal technology. Together, the plants were expected to release nearly 600 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, equivalent to 11 percent of total American emissions in 2015. Hilton said that by building new coal plants along the Belt and Road, “China is creating […] risks for the countries that host these projects, risks most of them can ill afford. If these new coal plants continue to operate, they will they make it much more difficult for poor countries to meet their climate goals under the Paris Agreement, and, far from offering a cheap energy option, they will become a financial burden either to the governments or consumers, even as these plants lock out cheaper and cleaner alternatives.” [xxxii]
On the Defensive
A series of reports by Western think-tanks, coupled with official American warnings of the pitfalls of the Belt and Road, have added to China’s woes, contributed to the People’s Republic being put on the defensive. They have added to the domestic debate in China itself. Xi’s pledge last year of US$60 billion in new loans to Africa triggered a wave of grumbling in a sign of mounting popular hostility to his international ambitions, and to the tightening of political controls at home. One blogger asserted that the money would be sufficient to fund China’s cash-strapped education ministry for three years. The critical comments on social media were quickly deleted. [xxxiii]
All of this has not stopped the drumbeat of criticism from outside of China. China “is not in it to help countries out, they’re in it to grab their assets,” warned Ray Washburne, president and CEO of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), an intergovernmental agency that channels American private capital into overseas development projects. He accused China of intentionally plunging recipient countries into debt, then going after “their rare earths and minerals and things like that as collateral for their loans.” [xxxiv]
That view persuaded Greenland, helped along by US pressure, to select a Danish rather than a Chinese company to build and upgrade three airports. “The big fear is that even a small Chinese investment will amount to a large part of Greenland’s GDP, giving China an outsized influence that can be used for other purposes,” said Danish foreign and defense policy scholar Jon Rahbek-Clemmensen. [xxxv]
A study by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) argued that the Belt and Road was driven by “interest groups within and outside China (that) are skewing President Xi’s signature foreign policy vision.” The study asserted that the positioning of the initiative persuaded Chinese local and regional authorities, as well as companies, to brand their activities as Belt and Road-related in order to gain economic and political advantage. [xxxvi]
The similarly Washington-based Center for Global Development warned that 23 of 68 countries benefiting from Belt and Road investments were “significantly or highly vulnerable to debt distress.” The centre said eight of 23 vulnerable countries—Pakistan, Tajikistan, Djibouti, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, the Maldives, Mongolia, and Montenegro—were particularly at risk. Djibouti already owes 82 percent of its foreign debt to China, while China is expected to account for 71 percent of Kyrgyz debt as Belt and Road-related projects are implemented. “There is […] concern that debt problems will create an unfavouable degree of dependency on China as a creditor. Increasing debt, and China’s role in managing bilateral debt problems, has already exacerbated internal and bilateral tensions in some BRI countries,” the report said. [xxxvii]
Rex Tillerson, a former American secretary of state, echoed the centre’s concerns during a visit to Africa while still in office in March 2018. China “encourages dependency using opaque contracts, predatory loan practices, and corrupt deals that mire nations in debt and undercut their sovereignty, denying them their long-term, self-sustaining growth. Chinese investment does have the potential to address Africa’s infrastructure gap, but its approach has led to mounting debt and few, if any, jobs in most countries,” Tillerson said. [xxxviii]
Raising the Stakes
The Belt and Road’s geopolitics are a double-edged sword. Geopolitics is what many believe is its driver. Yet, geopolitics is also its potential Achilles Heel. The arrival in mid-December of the USS John C. Stennis aircraft carrier group in the Gulf had on the surface nothing to do with the Belt and Road and everything to do with American efforts to increase pressure on Iran. [xxxix] Yet, Pakistan’s mounting dependence on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, coupled with the American campaign intended to curb Iran’s regional projection, increasingly raises the stakes for China beyond the Trump administration’s efforts to force China and others to comply with its tough economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic. [xl]
The carrier group’s presence in the Gulf, the first by an American aircraft carrier in eight months, raised the spectre of a potential military conflagration on Balochistan’s doorstep. It coincided with a suicide attack on an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps headquarters in the Indian-backed Iranian port city of Chabahar, [xli] a mere 70 kilometres up the coast from the Chinese-backed port of Gwadar, which killed two people and left 40 wounded. The attack raised the spectre of Saudi and/or American covert support for militants in Iran, a key node in the Belt and Road’s land link to Europe.
Saudi and Iranian media reported that Ansar al-Furqan—a shadowy Iranian Sunni jihadi group which Iran asserts is supported by Saudi Arabia, along with the United States and Israel—had claimed responsibility for the attack. Saudi-based pan-Arab daily Asharq Al-Awsat suggested that the attack “reflects the anger harboured by the (city’s Baloch) minority against the government.” The paper said the Iranian government had expelled thousands of Baloch families from Chabahar and replaced them with Persians, in a bid to change the city’s demography. It asserted that Iran was granting nationality to Afghan Shiites who had fought in Syria and Iraq and was moving them to Chabahar. The paper went on to say that “anti-regime Baloch movements have recently intensified their operations against Tehran in an attempt to deter it from carrying out its plan to expel and marginalize the Baloch from their ancestral regions.” [xlii]
The Saudi media reports stroked with staunch Saudi support for Washington’s confrontational approach toward Iran. Pakistani militants say the kingdom has pumped large amounts of money into militant, ultraconservative Sunni Muslim, anti-Shiite, and anti-Iranian religious seminaries along the border separating Balochistan from the Iranian province of Sistan and Baluchestan, which is home to Chabahar. The funding was designed to create the building blocks for a potential covert effort to destabilize Iran by stirring unrest among its ethnic minorities. [xliii]
Moreover, Saudi think-tank the Arabian Gulf Centre for Iranian Studies (AGCIS), renamed the International Institute of Iranian Studies and believed to be backed by Prince Mohammed, argued in a study that Chabahar posed “a direct threat to the Arab Gulf states” that called for “immediate counter measures.” Written by Mohammed Hassan Husseinbor, identified as an Iranian political researcher, the study warned that Chabahar posed a threat because it would enable Iran to increase its market share in India for its oil exports at the expense of Saudi Arabia, raise foreign investment in the Islamic republic, increase government revenues, and allow Iran to project power in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean.
Noting the vast expanses of Iran’s Sistan and Baluchestan province, Husseinbor went on to say that “it would be a formidable challenge, if not impossible, for the Iranian government to protect such long distances and secure Chabahar in the face of widespread Baluch opposition, particularly if this opposition is supported by Iran’s regional adversaries and world powers.” [xliv]
Neo-Colonialism in the Twenty-First Century
The Pakistani government’s insistence on refocusing CPEC amounts to far more than a commercial and economic reorientation of Chinese investment. It challenges the core of the Belt and Road, at least as it relates to Pakistan, in terms of what some critics have termed a neo-colonial approach. It also casts a shadow over China’s hope that economic development in Xinjiang fuelled by linking the province to its neighbours will help it achieve the sinicizing of Turkic Muslims.
A leaked plan for CPEC [xlv] detailed not only benefits that China would derive from its investment in Pakistan, but the way Pakistan would be turned, even more than it already is, into a surveillance state in which freedoms of expression and media are manipulated. It also suggested the degree to which the Belt and Road was designed to establish China as Eurasia’s dominant power based on economics, as well as the adoption of measures that undermine democracy or inhibit political transition in autocracies.
The plan appeared to position Pakistan as a raw materials supplier for China, an export market for Chinese products and labour, and an experimental ground for the export of the surveillance state China is rolling out in Xinjiang. It envisioned Chinese state-owned companies leasing thousands of hectares of agricultural land to set up “demonstration projects” in areas ranging from seed varieties to irrigation technology.
Chinese agricultural companies would be offered “free capital and loans” from various Chinese ministries, as well as the China Development Bank. It projected that the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps would introduce mechanization and new technologies to Pakistani livestock breeding, development of hybrid varieties, and precision irrigation. Pakistan would effectively become a raw materials supplier rather than an added-value producer, a prerequisite for a sustainable textiles industry.
The plan further saw the Pakistani textile sector as a supplier of materials like yarn and coarse cloth to textile manufacturers in Xinjiang. “China can make the most of the Pakistani market in cheap raw materials to develop the textiles and garments industry and help soak up surplus labour forces in (Xinjiang’s) Kashgar,” the plan said. Chinese companies would be offered preferential treatment with regard to “land, tax, logistics, and services,” as well as “enterprise income tax, tariff reduction, and exemption and sales tax rate” incentives.
In other economic sectors, such as household appliances, telecommunications and mining, Chinese companies would exploit their presence to expand market share. In areas like cement, building materials, fertilizer and agricultural technologies, the plan called for the building of infrastructure and the developing of a policy environment to facilitate the entry of Chinese companies.
A full system of monitoring and surveillance would be built in Pakistani cities to ensure law and order. The system would involve the deployment of explosive detectors and scanners to “cover major roads, case-prone areas and crowded places […] in urban areas to conduct real-time monitoring and 24-hour video recording.”
A national fibre optic backbone would be built for internet traffic, as well as the terrestrial distribution of broadcast media that would cooperate with their Chinese counterparts in the “dissemination of Chinese culture.” The plan described the backbone as a “cultural transmission carrier” that would serve to “further enhance mutual understanding between the two peoples and the traditional friendship between the two countries.”
The plan identified as risks to CPEC “Pakistani politics, such as competing parties, religion, tribes, terrorists, and Western intervention,” as well as security. “The security situation is the worst in recent years,” the plan said. Its solution is stepped up surveillance rather than policies targeting root causes and appears to question the vibrancy of a system in which competition between parties and interest groups is the name of the game.
The risks have been driven home in attacks on Chinese targets and rejection of CPEC by Baloch nationalists who have seen little benefit to resource-rich, sparsely populated Balochistan itself, and fear that Chinese economic dominance will render the achievement of their rights even more difficult. “This conspiratorial plan (CPEC) is not acceptable to the Baloch people under any circumstances. Baloch independence movements have made it clear several times that they will not abandon their people’s future in the name of development projects or even democracy,” said Baloch Liberation Army spokesman Jeander Baloch. [xlvi] In the latest incident, in November 2018, three Baloch Liberation Army suicide bombers launched a brazen assault on the Chinese consulate in Karachi. [xlvii]
According to Financial Times columnist Jamil Anderlini: “China is at risk of inadvertently embarking on its own colonial adventure in Pakistan—the biggest recipient of Belt and Road investment and once the East India Company’s old stamping ground… Pakistan is now virtually a client state of China. Many within the country worry openly that its reliance on Beijing is already turning it into a colony of its huge neighbor. The risks that the relationship could turn problematic are greatly increased by Beijing’s ignorance of how China is perceived abroad and its reluctance to study history through a non-ideological lens […] It is easy to envisage a scenario in which militant attacks on Chinese projects overwhelm the Pakistani military and China decides to openly deploy the People’s Liberation Army to protect its people and assets. That is how ‘win-win’ investment projects can quickly become the foundations of empire.” [xlviii]
History Repeats Itself
In an ironic twist, China’s taking control of critical national infrastructure in countries trapped by Chinese debt amounts to the People’s Republic adopting the same approach that it feels lies at the core of its humiliation in the nineteenth century. “China is replicating the practices used against it in the European-colonial period, which began with the 1839-1860 Opium Wars and ended with the 1949 communist takeover—a period that China bitterly refers to as its ‘century of humiliation,’” said Indian strategist Brahma Chellaney. [xlix]
Chellaney argues that, just as European imperial powers employed gunboat diplomacy to open new markets and colonial outposts, “China uses sovereign debt to bend other states to its will, without having to fire a single shot. Like the opium the British exported to China, the easy loans China offers are addictive. And, because China chooses its projects according to their long-term strategic value, they may yield short-term returns that are insufficient for countries to repay their debts. This gives China added leverage, which it can use, say, to force borrowers to swap debt for equity, thereby expanding China’s global footprint by trapping a growing number of countries in debt servitude.”
The Indian strategist noted that the terms for a 99-year lease of the Sri Lankan port of Hambantota, which the government was forced to accept as part of a restructuring of its debt, resemble those European powers imposed for the lease of Chinese ports like Hong Kong, or its lease of Australia’s deep-water port of Darwin. Kenya’s crushing debt to China threatens to turn its busy port of Mombasa—the gateway to East Africa—into another Hambantota.
Chellaney said that “these experiences should serve as a warning that the Belt and Road is essentially an imperial project that aims to bring to fruition the mythical Middle Kingdom. States caught in debt bondage to China risk losing both their most valuable natural assets and their very sovereignty. The new imperial giant’s velvet glove cloaks an iron fist—one with the strength to squeeze the vitality out of smaller countries.”
Tone Deaf
China’s supposed obliviousness to the potential impact on recipients, and the standing of its own economic, commercial, and geopolitical approach appears to be rooted in President Xi Jinping’s rewriting of history and reality spin that threatens to become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Launching the Belt and Road Initiative in a speech in Kazakhstan in September 2013, Xi suggested that the initiative constituted a revival of China’s centuries-old relationship with Eurasia. [l] More than 2,100 years ago […] (Chinese) imperial envoy Zhang Qian was sent to Central Asia twice to open the door to friendly contacts between China and Central Asian countries, as well as the transcontinental Silk Road linking East and West,” Xi told his audience. In Indonesia a month later, Xi reminded the country’s parliament that “Southeast Asia has since ancient times been an important hub along the ancient Maritime Silk Road.” [li]
Scholars Daly and Rojanski noted that the historic Silk Road was never centered on China, and that it served both commercial and military purposes. “The term ‘Silk Road’ was coined in 1877 by a German geographer to connote the historic phenomenon of Eurasian trade rather than a particular route,” the scholars said. They suggested that Eurasian nations had not forgotten that historically Chinese expansion westwards had often been violent,” a fact that Xi chose to overlook in his projection of the Belt and Road. It was, moreover, not immediately clear “that China’s branding, cash, and ambition can overcome the uneven development, political and cultural diversity, age-old hatreds, and daunting geography” of the Belt and Road, Daly and Rojansky said. [lii]
Xi’s projection of a China-centric world is reflected in the country’s media, which position the Belt and Road as a vehicle to cement China’s place in the world, as well as that of Communist Party rule, despite paying lip service to the principle of a win-win proposition. Chinese ambitions are further evident in its efforts to internationalize its currency, the renminbi, [liii] as well as the inclusion of elements of the Chinese surveillance state and the propagation of Chinese culture through local media in investment-target countries. [liv] They are also apparent in the creation of special Chinese courts to adjudicate Belt and Road disputes. [lv] Moreover, China announced the establishment of a new agency to coordinate its foreign aid program in 2018. The agency is part of an effort to project China’s global influence more effectively, and to increase Communist Party control. [lvi]
Taking issue with the Chinese approach, the Center for Global Development suggested that China and recipients of Beijing’s largess would be better served if the People’s Republic adopted a multilateral approach to Belt and Road-related funding rather than insisting on doing it alone. [lvii] Scott Morris, a former U.S. Treasury official and co-author of the centre’s report, said: “the way forward demands a clear policy framework aligned with global standards, something that has been absent from China’s lending practices to date. Whether Chinese officials have the will to pursue this approach will be critical in determining the ultimate success or failure” of the Belt and Road. [lviii]
D r. James M. Dorsey is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, co-director of the University of Würzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture, and co-host of the New Books in Middle Eastern Studies podcast. James is the author of The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer blog, a book with the same title and a co-authored volume, Comparative Political Transitions between Southeast Asia and the Middle East and North Africa as well as Shifting Sands, Essays on Sports and Politics in the Middle East and North Africa and recently published China and the Middle East: Venturing into the Maelstrom
[i] James Kynge, China’s Belt and Road projects drive overseas debt fears, Financial Times, 8 August 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/e7a08b54-9554-11e8-b747-fb1e803ee64e
[ii] Kirsty Needham, Malaysia cancels Belt and Road projects with China over bankruptcy fears, The Sydney Morning Herald, 21 August 2018, https://www.smh.com.au/world/asia/china-malaysia-agree-to-mutual-respect-amid-belt-and-road-tensions-20180820-p4zyo3.html
[iii] Jon Emont and Myo Myo, Chinese-Funded Port Gives Myanmar a Sinking Feeling, The Wall Street Journal, 15 August 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-funded-port-gives-myanmar-a-sinking-feeling-1534325404
[iv] Syed Irfan Raza, CPEC focus must be on job creation, agriculture: Imran, Dawn, 9 October 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1437770/cpec-focus-must-be-on-job-creation-agriculture-imran
[v] Saeed Shah, Pakistan Turns to Gulf Countries to Keep Economy Afloat, The Wall Street Journal, 22 January 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/pakistan-turns-to-gulf-countries-to-keep-economy-afloat-11548160203
[vi] Mehreen Zahra-Malik, ‘No urgency’ for Pakistan to enter IMF program: Finance minister, Arab News, 14 December 2018, http://www.arabnews.com/node/1420756/world
[vii] Ali Salman Andani, All-weather friend? Pakistan falls into China’s debt trap, Asia Times, 11 January 2019, V http://www.atimes.com/all-weather-friend-pakistan-falls-into-chinas-debt-trap/?utm_source=The+Daily+Report&utm_campaign=3759569bec-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2019_01_11_01_08&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1f8bca137f-3759569bec-31513393
[viii] Adnan Aamir, Saudi investment in Pakistan stokes tensions with China, Asia Nikkei, 28 January 2019, https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-Relations/Saudi-investment-in-Pakistan-stokes-tensions-with-China
[ix] James M. Dorsey, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman must walk geopolitical tightrope during Asian tour, South China Morning Post, 18 February 2019, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/2186570/saudi-crown-prince-mohammed-bin-salman-must-walk-geopolitical
[x] Haroon Janjua, Cash-strapped Pakistan asks China to shelve US$2 billion coal plant, South China Morning Post, 16 January 2019, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2182326/cash-strapped-pakistan-asks-china-shelve-us2-billion-coal
[xi] Behram Baloch, Chinese firms concerned over Gwadar Master Plan approval delay, Dawn, 21 January 2019, https://www.dawn.com/news/1458803/chinese-firms-concerned-over-gwadar-master-plan-approval-delay
[xii] Hannah Beech, ‘ We Cannot Afford This ’: Malaysia Pushes Back Against China’s Vision, The New York Times, 20 August 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/20/world/asia/china-malaysia.html
[xiii] Bloomberg, Mahathir Warns Against New ‘Colonialism’ During Visit to China, 20 August 2018, https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-08-20/mahathir-warns-against-new-colonialism-during-visit-to-china
[xiv] Gordon Fairclough and Uditha Jayasinghe, Sri Lanka to Sell 80% Stake in Strategically Placed Harbor to Chinese, The Wall Street Journal, 30 August 2016, https://www.wsj.com/articles/sri-lanka-to-sell-80-stake-in-strategically-placed-harbor-to-chinese-1481226344?mod=article_inline
[xv] Ibid. Emont and Myo, Chinese-Funded Port Gives Myanmar a Sinking Feeling
[xvi] Yubaraj Ghimre, China Eyes Exit, Nepal’s West Seti Hydropower Project in Jeopardy, South China Morning Post, 30 August 2018, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/geopolitics/article/2161968/nepals-west-seti-hydropower-project-jeopardy-china-eyes-exit
[xvii] Richard Collett, How Muslim-Chinese Food Became a Culinary Star in Kyrgyzstan, Gastro Obscura, 18 December 2018, https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-to-eat-kyrgyzstan
[xviii] Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Bishkek Protesters Rally Outside Chinese Embassy Against ‘Reeducation Camps,’ 20 December 2018, https://www.rferl.org/a/bishkek-protesters-rally-outside-chinese-embassy-against-reeducation-camps-/29667706.html
[xix] Anna Lelik, Kyrgyzstan: Nationalist Vice Squad Stirs Controversy, eurasianet, 10 February 2015, https://eurasianet.org/kyrgyzstan-nationalist-vice-squad-stirs-controversy
[xx] Radio Azattik, Government: From 2010 to 2018, more than 260 Chinese citizens acquired Kyrgyz citizenship (Правительство: С 2010 по 2018 год гражданство Кыргызстана получили более 260 жителей Китая), 18 December 2018, https://rus.azattyk.org/a/29662156.html
[xxi] Colleen Wood, Why Did Kyrgyz Stage a Protest Outside the Chinese Embassy? The Diplomat, 29 December 2018, https://thediplomat.com/2018/12/why-did-kyrgyz-stage-a-protest-outside-the-chinese-embassy/
[xxii] Radio Azattik, Jeenbekov on Chinese Kyrgyz: These are Chinese citizens, we cannot interfere (Жээнбеков о китайских кыргызах: Это граждане Китая, мы не можем вмешиваться), 19 December 2018, https://rus.azattyk.org/a/29664421.html
[xxiii] AsiaNews.it, Kyrgyz and Kazakhs detained with Uyghurs in Xinjiang, activists say, 19 December 2018, http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Kyrgyz-and-Kazakhs-detained-with-Uyghurs-in-Xinjiang,-activists-say-45787.html
[xxiv] Bakhtiyor Atovulloev, Takiistan is turning into the new province of China, Eurasia News, 30 December 2016, https://tajikopposition.com/2016/12/30/tajikistan-is-turning-into-the-new-province-of-china-eurasianews/
[xxv] Robert Daly and Matthew Rojanski, China’s Global Dreams Give Its Neighbors Nightmares, Foreign Policy, 12 March 2018, https://foreignpolicy.com/2018/03/12/chinas-global-dreams-are-giving-its-neighbors-nightmares/
[xxvi] Isabel Hilton, How China’s Big Overseas Initiative Threatens Global Climate Progress, Yale Environment 360, 3 January 2019, https://e360.yale.edu/features/how-chinas-big-overseas-initiative-threatens-climate-progress
[xxvii] China Daily, Xi calls for building ‘green, healthy, intelligent and peaceful’ Silk Road, 22 June 2016, http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2016xivisitee/2016-06/22/content_25812410.htm
[xxviii] Feng Hao, China’s Belt and Road Initiative still pushing coal, chinadialogue, 12 May 2017, https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/9785-China-s-Belt-and-Road-Initiative-still-pushing-coal
[xxix] Christine Shearer, Neha Mathew-Shah, Lauri Myllyvirta, Aiqun Yu, and Ted Nace, Boom and Bust 2018, Tracking the Global Coal Plant Pipeline, Coalswarm, Sierra Club and Greenpeace, March 2018, https://endcoal.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/BoomAndBust_2018_r4.pdf
[xxx] Huileng Tan, China is massively betting on coal outside its borders — even as investment falls globally, CNBC, 6 April 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/06/china-is-massively-betting-on-coal-outside-its-shores–even-as-investment-falls-globally.html
[xxxii] Ibid. Hilton
[xxxiii] Robyn Dixon, China has spent billions in Africa, but some critics at home question why, Los Angeles Times, 3 September 2018, https://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-china-africa-20180903-story.html
[xxxiv] Owen Churchill, China hasn’t changed belt and road’s ‘predatory overseas investment model’, US official says, South China Morning Post, 13 September 2018, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2163972/china-hasnt-changed-belt-and-roads-predatory-overseas
[xxxv] Aaron Mehta, How a potential Chinese-built airport in Greenland could be risky for a vital US Air Force base, Defense News, 7 September 2018, https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2018/09/07/how-a-potential-chinese-built-airport-in-greenland-could-be-risky-for-a-vital-us-air-force-base/
[xxxvi] Jonathan Hillman, China’s Belt and Road Is Full of Holes, CSIS Briefs, September 2018, https://csis-prod.s3.amazonaws.com/s3fs-public/publication/180905_Hillman_ChinasBelt_FINAL.pdf?uhtZC7Pbw2UjbwtitdOXmexJDWjVWfyr
[xxxvii] John Hurley, Scott Morris, and Gailyn Portelance, Examining the Debt Implications of the Belt and Road Initiative from a Policy Perspective, Center for Global Development, March 2018, https://www.cgdev.org/sites/default/files/examining-debt-implications-belt-and-road-initiative-policy-perspective.pdf
[xxxviii] U.S. Embassy in Senegal, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson Remarks – U.S.-Africa Relations: A New Framework, George Mason University March 6, 2018, 6 March 2018, https://sn.usembassy.gov/secretary-state-rex-w-tillerson-remarks-george-mason-university-march-6-2018/
[xxxix] Nancy A. Youssef, U.S. Sends Aircraft Carrier to Persian Gulf in Show of Force Against Iran, The Wall Street Journal, 3 December 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-sends-aircraft-carrier-to-persian-gulf-in-show-of-force-against-iran-1543871934
[xl] Bourse& Bazaar, When the Sun Sets in the EastNew Dynamics in China-Iran Trade Under Sanctions, January 2019, https://static1.squarespace.com/static/54db7b69e4b00a5e4b11038c/t/5c4ad5ffc74c505f6368f1a8/1548408321766/B%26B_Special_Report_China_Iran_Trade_v2.pdf
[xli] The New Arab, an hints at Saudi role in deadly suicide bombing, 6 December 2018, https://www.alaraby.co.uk/english/news/2018/12/6/iran-hints-at-saudi-role-in-deadly-suicide-bombing
[xlii] Jamal Ismail, Ansar Al-Furqan Group Claims Attack against IRGC HQ in Iran, Asharq Al-Awsat, 8 December 2018, https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1495831/ansar-al-furqan-group-claims-attack-against-irgc-hq-iran
[xliii] James M. Dorsey, Pakistan caught in the middle as China’s OBOR becomes Saudi-Iranian-Indian battleground, The Turbulent World of Middle East Soccer, 5 May 2017, https://mideastsoccer.blogspot.com/2017/05/pakistan-caught-in-middle-as-chinas.html
[xliv] Mohammed Hassan Husseinbor, Chabahar and Gwadar Agreements and Rivalry among Competitors
in Baluchistan Region, Journal of Iranian Studies, Year 1, Issue 1, December 2016, https://rasanah-iiis.org/english/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2017/05/Chabahar-and-Gwadar-Agreements-and-Rivalry-among-Competitors-in-Baluchistan-Region.pdf
[xlv] Khurram Hussain, Exclusive: CPEC master plan revealed, Dawn, 21 June 2017, https://www.dawn.com/news/1333101
[xlvi] Al Jazeera, Gunmen kill 10 labourers in Balochistan’s Gwadar, 13 May 2017, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/05/gunmen-kill-10-labourers-balochistan-gwadar-170513111330168.html
[xlvii] Asad Hashim, Gunmen attack Chinese consulate in Karachi, Al Jazeera, 23 November 2018, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/11/shots-heard-china-consulate-pakistan-karachi-181123051817209.html
[xlviii] Jamil Anderlini, China is at risk of becoming a colonialist power, Financial Times, 9 September 2018, https://www.ft.com/content/186743b8-bb25-11e8-94b2-17176fbf93f5
[xlix] Brahma Chellaney, China’s creditor imperialism, The Strategist, 21 December 2017, https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/chinas-creditor-imperialism/
[l] Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, President Xi Jinping Delivers Important Speech and Proposes to Build a Silk Road Economic Belt with Central Asian Countries, 7 September 2013, https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/topics_665678/xjpfwzysiesgjtfhshzzfh_665686/t1076334.shtml
[li] Asean China Center, Speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping to Indonesian Parliament, 3 October 2013, http://www.asean­china­center.org/english/2013­10/03/c_133062675.htm
[lii] Ibid. Daly and Rojanski
[liii] Saori N. Katada, Can China Internationalize the RMB? Foreign Affairs, 1 January 2018, https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2018-01-01/can-china-internationalize-rmb
[liv] Louisa Lim and Julia Bergin, Inside China’s audacious global propaganda campaign, The Guardian, 7 December 2018, https://www.theguardian.com/news/2018/dec/07/china-plan-for-global-media-dominance-propaganda-xi-jinping
[lv] Nicolas Groffman, Meet the 8 Chinese Judges Who’ll Sit on Belt and Road Cases, South China Morning Post, 25 September 2018, https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/economics/article/2165567/meet-8-chinese-judges-wholl-sit-belt-and-road-cases
[lvi] Chinese Embassy in Mongolia, The Official Website of China International Development Cooperation Agency Has Been Released, 20 September 2018, http://mn.china-embassy.org/eng/zmgx/t1597178.htm
[lvii] Ibid. Hurley, Morris, and Portelance
[lviii] Scott Morris, China Needs to Avoid ‘Belt and Road’ Debt Problems, Inter Press Service, 14 May, 2018, http://www.ipsnews.net/2018/03/china-needs-avoid-belt-road-debt-problems/
A podcast version of this story is available on Soundcloud, Itunes , Spotify , Stitcher , TuneIn and Tumblr Share this:

Read More…

Insiders Info: Durban

February 25, 2019 19 Views
These trailblazing Durban dwellers know it all and are willing to share, from contemporary art and cultural hot spots to the best wave breaks. Follow their lead to the true heart of eThekwini
MUSIC
Kunzima Theology and Samurai Yasusa of Afro-house duo Kususa
Trust us: these producer/DJs are about to blow up. Soon after our meeting Joshua Sokweba (Kunzima Theology) and Mncedi Tshicila (Samurai Yasusua) are to board a flight to their first major overseas gig at Pure Sky Lounge in Dubai, which is pretty impressive considering their first EP release was only in 2016.
Fellow DJ and Durbanite Black Coffee incorporated three of their bootlegs into a set at South African radio station 5FM, then included their tracks at the Barcelona-born Sónar festival. Suddenly Kususa were on everyone’s lips.
While it’s inevitable that they’re influenced by gqom, a dance trend that’s Durban’s biggest music export, they’re clear that they don’t want to be known for just one sound. “ If you want serious gqom, head to South Beach CBD, ” says Mncedi. “ Anywhere there will do – but Koko Bar stands out.”
We can’t talk about music in Durban without talking about maskandi. Dubbed the “Zulu Blues”, it’s more of a sub-culture than a musical movement, and it permeates the Durban music scene.
For Afro house, Kusasa suggest Azar and Eyadini Lounge (especially on a Monday night) as the places to head to – and point to Argento Dust, Enoo Napa and Jackie Queens as the other Durban producer/DJs making waves.
Catch Kususa on 21 December at their first Shimmy Beach Club gig in Cape Town. Get all the info on their Facebook page: facebook.com/kususaofficial.
Gina Fors Nielsen Co-owner of 9th Avenue Bistro, blogger, founder of Dr Broth
There can’t be too many foodies more qualified than Gina Fors Nielsen to give us the insider’s edge on eThekwini’s eateries. Gina and husband Graham are at the helm of Durban’s celebrated 9th Avenue Bistro – and her new venture, Dr Broth, is gaining traction with its healthy homemade bone broths.
“ Durbanites are very health-conscious,” says Gina when discussing her decision to start Dr Broth. “People here eat dinner early, and they rise early. The weather is nice all year, so people are physically active, and diners are generally mindful of what they consume. ”
It explains why Durbanites are mad about seafood, fresh produce and, more noticeably, coffee, she says. Many of the local coffee shops acquired their following by frequenting the robust local market scene. (Look out for the I Heart Market.) Her favourite coffee stops include Khuluma on Station, Love Coffee, The Coffee Tree Co, and City Roast.
Indian cuisine is practically the lifeblood of Durban, and some of Gina’s most cherished haunts offer authentic and delicious Indian food. Head to Roti and Chai for traditional tandoor cooking, and Mali’s for a no-frills meal where it’s all about flavour. The Falafel Fundi is also a firm favourite of hers’, while on days off Gina and Graham head north to Ray’s Kitchen in Salt Rock for a more up-market bistro meal.
Look out for 9th Avenue’s move in 2019 to an iconic spot at Durban’s Yacht Mole. Follow Gina’s blog on environmentally friendly practice at 9thavenuebistro.co.za, and find out more about Dr Broth at drbroth.co.za.
Russel Hlongwane Art curator, consultant and cultural producer
When Russel Hlongwane speaks about art and culture he is not only poetic, but also engagingly intellectual. Durban-born and bred, Russel started his career in the international shipping trade – but the tug towards the arts was too great.
He challenges visitors to Durban to “ explore, and get beneath the veneer: it’s a convergence of many cultures and historic moments that play themselves out in interesting ways.”
The visual arts are offering some promising work at the moment, and Durban’s urban landscape is awash with the graffiti of Mookie or Mook Lion, Sakhile Mhlongo, Young Dave and Skullboy. On the photography front, look for the work of Mandisa Buthelezi, who documents KwaZulu-Natal life; and Wonder Mbambo (currently on a three-month residency in Manchester), who investigates themes of family, and the notion of “Black Tax” and the toll it takes on individuals, with charcoal portraiture (the chosen medium literally born from the ashes of childhood fires).
The Amasosha Art Movement is a progressive “ safe space ” for Durban’s black artists to collaborate and support each other, so visitors should look out for their projects as well. Other prominent thematic concerns include “ Afri Futurism, imagined dystopias and a noticeable influence from Silicon Valley and the start-up concept, which includes commentary on ‘the sharp rise of tech and the trappings of capitalistic models ’”.
Durban is home to some great cultural spaces, where varying art forms intercept and multiple cultures can converge, says Russel. He recently ended a tenure as the president of the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts council; in addition to the installations housed there, he mentions the Durban Art Gallery, The Chairman for live jazz, Khaya Records for a musical melting pot, and Ike’s Books and Collectibles in Florida Road.
Follow Russel on Instagram @russel_hlongwane.
Shane Sykes Pro surfer
Shane Sykes may be young, but he’s certainly seen more of the world than most, having chased waves from the Maldives to Nicaragua. The Salt Rock resident has had major sponsorships since the age of 12 and won an array of junior titles. But he maintains that the highlight of his career is simply the people he’s met.
It would appear that this sense of camaraderie the global surfing community nurtures is exactly the spirit behind Durban’s development programmes, which are working hard to bring young black surfers to the fore. Shane’s parents, Darren and Michelle, started the Ilembe Surf Riders Association in 2017 – a fledgling NPO to help develop and promote surfing on the north coast. The organisation Surfers Not Street Children, one the other hand, has a global set-up, and its founder Tom Hewitt was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2011. Durban’s surf scene, it seems, is as much about growth and development as it is about catching the perfect wave.
For the travelling surfer, Shane recommends Durban as a beginners’ mecca, where it’s easier to get out to the backline. Amateur and pro surfers can head to the south or north coast, which are “ much more powerful ”. On the north coast, Shane’s spots include Salmon Bay, Surfers, Clark Bay and Tiffany’s; in Durban, try New Pier, North Beach, Bay of Plenty and Addington. Novices can head to the Ballito Surf School to learn the basics, and for custom-made boards and shaping, head to Hutchison Handcrafted Surfboards in Ballito.
Follow Shane on Instagram @shane_sykes_.
Thembeka Yadah Fashion designer and owner of Yadah Exclusive Designs
A recent guest on CNN International’s African Voices, and a veteran of London’s African Fashion Week, Thembeka Yadah is making show-stopping garments with global appeal at her Durban studio. Her unique use of fabric displays striking symbolic placements on the body, to reflect urban and rural moments of everyday life in South Africa.
Originally from Estcourt, she creates “ clothes that are both timeless and Afro-centric ”. With the support of the KZN Fashion Council (sparked by eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development Unitand the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism), she and many other designers are finding an international platform for their work.
With conventional retail taking a back seat as a result of high rentals and long-term leases, Thembeka and many of her peers are shifting towards shared studio spaces to showcase their garments. And while there are still some gorgeous boutiques around town (Durbanites Amanda Laird Cherry, Jane Sews and Leigh Schubert all spring to mind), young Durban designers are collaborating more on regular pop-up events. This is how the Love Curvy concept was born: Thembeka has partnered with Silomo Ntombela of Silomo Boutique, Khanyi Malimela, Marparkisha, Inkosozane, 8th Wanda and Indoni Fashion House to curate regular pop-ups offering women more than an average retail experience.
Follow Thembeka on Instagram and Facebook @thembekayadah for details pop-ups on 1, 15 and 22 December.
Getting there
FLY SAA flies daily to Durban from Johannesburg and Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London.
IMAGES Chris Laurenz Insiders Info: Durban
These trailblazing Durban dwellers know it all and are willing to share, from contemporary art and cultural hot spots to the best wave breaks. Follow their lead to the true heart of eThekwini
MUSIC
Kunzima Theology and Samurai Yasusa of Afro-house duo Kususa
Trust us: these producer/DJs are about to blow up. Soon after our meeting Joshua Sokweba (Kunzima Theology) and Mncedi Tshicila (Samurai Yasusua) are to board a flight to their first major overseas gig at Pure Sky Lounge in Dubai, which is pretty impressive considering their first EP release was only in 2016.
Fellow DJ and Durbanite Black Coffee incorporated three of their bootlegs into a set at South African radio station 5FM, then included their tracks at the Barcelona-born Sónar festival. Suddenly Kususa were on everyone’s lips.
While it’s inevitable that they’re influenced by gqom, a dance trend that’s Durban’s biggest music export, they’re clear that they don’t want to be known for just one sound. “ If you want serious gqom, head to South Beach CBD, ” says Mncedi. “ Anywhere there will do – but Koko Bar stands out.”
We can’t talk about music in Durban without talking about maskandi. Dubbed the “Zulu Blues”, it’s more of a sub-culture than a musical movement, and it permeates the Durban music scene.
For Afro house, Kusasa suggest Azar and Eyadini Lounge (especially on a Monday night) as the places to head to – and point to Argento Dust, Enoo Napa and Jackie Queens as the other Durban producer/DJs making waves.
Catch Kususa on 21 December at their first Shimmy Beach Club gig in Cape Town. Get all the info on their Facebook page: facebook.com/kususaofficial.
Gina Fors Nielsen Co-owner of 9th Avenue Bistro, blogger, founder of Dr Broth
There can’t be too many foodies more qualified than Gina Fors Nielsen to give us the insider’s edge on eThekwini’s eateries. Gina and husband Graham are at the helm of Durban’s celebrated 9th Avenue Bistro – and her new venture, Dr Broth, is gaining traction with its healthy homemade bone broths.
“ Durbanites are very health-conscious,” says Gina when discussing her decision to start Dr Broth. “People here eat dinner early, and they rise early. The weather is nice all year, so people are physically active, and diners are generally mindful of what they consume. ”
It explains why Durbanites are mad about seafood, fresh produce and, more noticeably, coffee, she says. Many of the local coffee shops acquired their following by frequenting the robust local market scene. (Look out for the I Heart Market.) Her favourite coffee stops include Khuluma on Station, Love Coffee, The Coffee Tree Co, and City Roast.
Indian cuisine is practically the lifeblood of Durban, and some of Gina’s most cherished haunts offer authentic and delicious Indian food. Head to Roti and Chai for traditional tandoor cooking, and Mali’s for a no-frills meal where it’s all about flavour. The Falafel Fundi is also a firm favourite of hers’, while on days off Gina and Graham head north to Ray’s Kitchen in Salt Rock for a more up-market bistro meal.
Look out for 9th Avenue’s move in 2019 to an iconic spot at Durban’s Yacht Mole. Follow Gina’s blog on environmentally friendly practice at 9thavenuebistro.co.za, and find out more about Dr Broth at drbroth.co.za.
Russel Hlongwane Art curator, consultant and cultural producer
When Russel Hlongwane speaks about art and culture he is not only poetic, but also engagingly intellectual. Durban-born and bred, Russel started his career in the international shipping trade – but the tug towards the arts was too great.
He challenges visitors to Durban to “ explore, and get beneath the veneer: it’s a convergence of many cultures and historic moments that play themselves out in interesting ways.”
The visual arts are offering some promising work at the moment, and Durban’s urban landscape is awash with the graffiti of Mookie or Mook Lion, Sakhile Mhlongo, Young Dave and Skullboy. On the photography front, look for the work of Mandisa Buthelezi, who documents KwaZulu-Natal life; and Wonder Mbambo (currently on a three-month residency in Manchester), who investigates themes of family, and the notion of “Black Tax” and the toll it takes on individuals, with charcoal portraiture (the chosen medium literally born from the ashes of childhood fires).
The Amasosha Art Movement is a progressive “ safe space ” for Durban’s black artists to collaborate and support each other, so visitors should look out for their projects as well. Other prominent thematic concerns include “ Afri Futurism, imagined dystopias and a noticeable influence from Silicon Valley and the start-up concept, which includes commentary on ‘the sharp rise of tech and the trappings of capitalistic models ’”.
Durban is home to some great cultural spaces, where varying art forms intercept and multiple cultures can converge, says Russel. He recently ended a tenure as the president of the KwaZulu-Natal Society of Arts council; in addition to the installations housed there, he mentions the Durban Art Gallery, The Chairman for live jazz, Khaya Records for a musical melting pot, and Ike’s Books and Collectibles in Florida Road.
Follow Russel on Instagram @russel_hlongwane.
Shane Sykes Pro surfer
Shane Sykes may be young, but he’s certainly seen more of the world than most, having chased waves from the Maldives to Nicaragua. The Salt Rock resident has had major sponsorships since the age of 12 and won an array of junior titles. But he maintains that the highlight of his career is simply the people he’s met.
It would appear that this sense of camaraderie the global surfing community nurtures is exactly the spirit behind Durban’s development programmes, which are working hard to bring young black surfers to the fore. Shane’s parents, Darren and Michelle, started the Ilembe Surf Riders Association in 2017 – a fledgling NPO to help develop and promote surfing on the north coast. The organisation Surfers Not Street Children, one the other hand, has a global set-up, and its founder Tom Hewitt was awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth in 2011. Durban’s surf scene, it seems, is as much about growth and development as it is about catching the perfect wave.
For the travelling surfer, Shane recommends Durban as a beginners’ mecca, where it’s easier to get out to the backline. Amateur and pro surfers can head to the south or north coast, which are “ much more powerful ”. On the north coast, Shane’s spots include Salmon Bay, Surfers, Clark Bay and Tiffany’s; in Durban, try New Pier, North Beach, Bay of Plenty and Addington. Novices can head to the Ballito Surf School to learn the basics, and for custom-made boards and shaping, head to Hutchison Handcrafted Surfboards in Ballito.
Follow Shane on Instagram @shane_sykes_.
Thembeka Yadah Fashion designer and owner of Yadah Exclusive Designs
A recent guest on CNN International’s African Voices, and a veteran of London’s African Fashion Week, Thembeka Yadah is making show-stopping garments with global appeal at her Durban studio. Her unique use of fabric displays striking symbolic placements on the body, to reflect urban and rural moments of everyday life in South Africa.
Originally from Estcourt, she creates “ clothes that are both timeless and Afro-centric ”. With the support of the KZN Fashion Council (sparked by eThekwini Municipality’s Economic Development Unitand the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Economic Development and Tourism), she and many other designers are finding an international platform for their work.
With conventional retail taking a back seat as a result of high rentals and long-term leases, Thembeka and many of her peers are shifting towards shared studio spaces to showcase their garments. And while there are still some gorgeous boutiques around town (Durbanites Amanda Laird Cherry, Jane Sews and Leigh Schubert all spring to mind), young Durban designers are collaborating more on regular pop-up events. This is how the Love Curvy concept was born: Thembeka has partnered with Silomo Ntombela of Silomo Boutique, Khanyi Malimela, Marparkisha, Inkosozane, 8th Wanda and Indoni Fashion House to curate regular pop-ups offering women more than an average retail experience.
Follow Thembeka on Instagram and Facebook @thembekayadah for details pop-ups on 1, 15 and 22 December.
Getting there
FLY SAA flies daily to Durban from Johannesburg and Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and East London.

Read More…

Yepp, Indianized Chinese food is the most common. It’s much spicier than the authentic Chinese food. McDonald’s has the McAloo Tikki burger that has like an Indianized flavour to the patty. Many local Pizza joints have Chicken Tikka Masala pizzas and the likes. Basically many cuisines are Indianized here, as we Indians can’t live without spices and spicy food haha Edit: Having said that, the actual original cuisines are also a part of the menu of these restaurants

Read More…

Kurry Accent: Rediscovering Indian cuisine

Zane
You have had Indian food many, many times, in many places, and not just in Bangladesh, or India. The whole world loves it. And probably that’s why restaurateurs love serving it! But so much fervour there is about it, and so familiar the cuisine is to us, that you may wonder what new can yet another restaurant bring.
Kurry Accent has not taken this challenge lightly. They took Indian food, boldly experimented with it, but also adhered to the authenticity of it, and perfected it, with the result of the alchemy being that Kurry Accent is not your typical Indian restaurant.
Even for a delicacy as common as fuchka, the restaurant is sleek and modern in presentation. The shells, stuffed with the filling, come to the table on top of shot glasses, containing tamarind-water and jeera pani, on a sleek black tray.
Kurry Accent has jazzed up Indian food, making it chic and appealing. And appetising too!
Old Delhi Murgh Boti with Butter Roomali is as grand as the name sounds. The spicy chicken boti is contained in a rather large bowl of crispy roti. This delicacy should serve as a stand-alone dish by itself, as the chicken can be relished with the bread it comes in.
Meanwhile, the delicacy they call ‘Double Decker: Roti Pe Boti’ aptly explains what the item is all about, delightfully flavourful spicy mutton, served as topping on small Indian breads.
Kurry Accent does things with flamboyance. The kitchen, too, is not typical. With a transparent wall separating the area, guests can see live cooking.
“People are concerned about hygiene. And hence, we have not kept the kitchen out of sight for the guests,” said Avishek Sinha of Kurry Accent. “Trust among the customers is very important all throughout, from tandoor to the table.” The copper-tandoor has been brought from India, he further explained. And the tandoor is fed charcoal for that beautiful smoky flavour.
The shine of the copper and the red background behind reflects the heat of the kitchen, with the area adopting a theme of flame and warmth. The overall decor (created by Myth Limited) has drawn inspiration from the wide plethora of Indian spices and ingredients — a burst of colours in various motifs and designs.
Now, back to food, the menu is an eclectic mix of delicacies, from kebabs and tikkas to naans and biriyanis, to a number of Bengali delights. The menu also features a number of fish dishes, such as Calcutta Rowing Club Fish Fry, a tasty treat of bhetki.
Meanwhile, the drinks menu has a wide plethora of refreshing mocktails, amidst lassi and others, of course. Given the time of the season, Mother Nature will very soon turn up the heat, and the fruit-mocktails of Kurry Accent are very rejuvenating indeed.
For desserts, try their Gulab Jamun Cheese Cake. The delicacy is a cheese cake with portions of gulab jamun incorporated to it — is it at all necessary to explain, or entice you further? And even if the self-explanatory name does not attract you, the sight of it will, as the plate comes exquisitely garnished with sugar dust and all.
Or, opt for the Spiced Chocolate Delice. The chilli and ginger ganache provides a spicy flavour amidst the sweetness, and the delightful macaroons only add to the overall treat. Indeed, executive chef Deepak Negi and consultant-chef Subhabrata Maitra, with their experience and expertise, offers a fabulous culinary experience.
With delectable delicacies and state-of-the-art presentation, Kurry Accent stands out from the rest. And hence, even though Indian cuisine is ever so popular and you have tasted it in so many eateries in many cities, Kurry Accent will not fail to surprise you!
Address: House # NW 8, Rd # 51, Gulshan-2, Dhaka. Contact number: 01713 434075. Business hours: 12pm-3.30pm; 6pm-11pm. Food delivery @ Shohoz. Facebook page: www.facebook.com/KurryAccent

Read More…

Ultra Luxurious Home Away From Home

Thank you for the outstanding service during our stay. nnSamruddhi Dhon (Guest Relations) and Preetam Singh (Senior Butler) were present. nnThey greeted us with a lot of love and warmth outside the hotel. nnThe only thing that couldn’t be offered was a room with a better view and hopefully that will be met on our next visit. nnA huge thank you to the following members of staff for assisting us during our stay. nnMr Shakir Ali & Mr Preetam Singh Rautela. nnThis was my 3rd visit and it was wonderful to meet people that go above and beyond to make your stay special. Thank you for the birthday arrangement in my room. nnThank you to each Chef and staff member of Seven Kitchens for the amazing array of food and to the Head chef and chef responsible for the preparation of the South Indian cuisine. It was sublime. nnIt was great to try new items for breakfast. nnThank you Avneet from Seven Kitchens for providing the strawberries that i initially requested on my 1st email.They were enjoyable nnThe Paniyaram and Rawa Dosa were excellent possibly the two best things that I’ve indulged in India overall. nnNYE at Seven Kitchens was amazing. nnStaff was willing and able to assist with prompt service. nnThe staff in the lounge and drawing room are attentive and kind,special mention to Sonam and her team for being so kind to my parents and I. We will miss you. Thank you for your generosity and kindness. nnTo the rest of the team thank you as well. nnBell Desk was efficient as always. nnSt Regis Mumbai doesn’t make us feel like Guests,but family. nnIt’s a home away from home. nnPreetam and Shakir went above and beyond and especially Shakir for introducing us to so many staff who then proceeded to treat us with so much care,dignity and humility. nnPrivate dining was great. nnIf two persons stand out for us are Shakir Ali for receiving us with such warmth and making sure that we were happy and comfortable nnPreetam for your daily WhatsApp messages to check if we were well. nnThank you to our drivers that did the airport transfers as well. Very professional nnIt’s reassuring to see that the St Regis MUMBAI team is a formidable one.nnLook forward to coming back again n

Read More…

Eating Healthy In Hawaii

Eating Healthy In Hawaii Feb 26, 2019
I’m back from my 3-week workcation in Hawaii! So much I could tell you about but, since I am a nutritionist and a huge foodie, we MUST discuss food first. There’s something about eating healthy food and being on vacation that clashes for many people. I used to be this way too. I would use my travels as an excuse to eat ALL the crappy food and drink all the alcohol. It seemed fun at the time, but then I realized that I also always felt terrible during and after my vacations. Why would I take the time and money to plan a great trip only to feel horrible while there?! Now, I have found a really great balance between eating the foods that I know make me feel really good, but also experiencing local cuisine which is one of my favorite things about traveling.
Even more confusing is how to eat keto while traveling or basically anytime you’re not in your own kitchen. Because it’s such a unique way of eating, it can seem scary to go out into the real world where you don’t have full control and attempt to eat a keto diet. Let me be the one to completely calm this fear for you. It doesn’t have to be hard and you absolutely can remain keto and travel at the same time! The cool thing about the keto lifestyle, especially when you have taken the time to find out what your version of this way of eating looks like for you, is that it is enjoyable! Most people love the foods they are eating on keto and, of course, the way they feel because of those foods. This makes it a no-brainer to continue on the path even while away. So, as long as you know what to do in the situation, you can confidently make this choice for yourself.
The challenge comes in when the foods that are a key piece to the local cuisine are not something you would normally eat. Do you take part or opt out? My answer: Find a balance where you are keeping your health a priority, but also feeding into your happiness level as well. If there is a food or meal that may not be the healthiest of choice, but would really make your experience that much better and leave you feeling fulfilled on your happiness spectrum, that would perhaps be a great time to include it even though it’s not something you would normally include. However, if it is a meal that is not contributing to your health, but also not really something that adds value to the experience – maybe it’s more so coming from an emotional place like “I’m on vacation, I deserve to let loose” or “Everybody else is eating/drinking it, so I should too” – you can take a second to tap into what’s truly important to you and reconnect with a better choice for that purpose. It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing thing. When you approach it this way, a nice balance is formed where you can continue to feel really great and work towards your health goals while also fully experiencing and enjoying the special things in life.
And it doesn’t have to be perfect or look exactly like it does when you’re home. It can be a new, vacation-version of your way of eating. This 3-week trip was a really great example of this. I knew there would be some foods to experience that Hawaii does really right – fish tacos, coconut rice, poke bowls, fruit – for example. These are also foods that aren’t necessarily a normal part of my keto diet, but worth it to me to include while there in order to really feel like I had the best experience possible. I also know that, while these foods may have a slightly larger impact on my blood sugar than I try to maintain on a regular basis, they don’t make me feel bad or have any harmful consequences to my health. By the way, there are foods that do cause harm to my health with even a little consumption and those stay on my “never” list, even while traveling. Things like gluten, most dairy, refined sugars, and soy. It’s important for all of us to have a “never” list and know the foods that shouldn’t ever make an appearance.
So, I ate those foods! And enjoyed every bite! Were they “keto”? Nope. But, it was a conscious decision made based on the knowledge I have of myself, my body, my tolerances, and what makes me happy. This means most of the meals eaten out at restaurants included some foods that wouldn’t be deemed keto-friendly, mainly in the form of rice, cassava, and fruit – really great and nutrient-dense real foods! Almost every restaurant we went to had plenty of modification options to make dishes keto which I found very impressive. It would make staying 100% keto in Hawaii very easy.
The vast majority of our meals were cooked and eaten at our rental home. These meals were packed with the foods I know and love from my real life which meant they were naturally keto-friendly – lots of salads, roasted veggies, grilled meats, and breakfast bowls! This made for the perfect balance between eating foods that contribute to both my health and happiness levels. My top tips for eating healthy in Hawaii GO PREPARED
This tip goes for ANY travel you do: pack food to bring with you! Take out the extra pair of shoes that you probably won’t even wear and pack food that you will definitely eat! There are SO many great options for real food convenience foods these days that it will be easy to pack your favorites from home to have with you when away. The two things that I find to be the most important to have handy are properly-raised protein and anti-inflammatory fat sources. This way you’re covered on these high-quality foods that may be hard to find everywhere you go.
What I packed:
Not to mention, the hard-boiled eggs, avocado, and chilled roasted vegetables for the 14-hour travel day. The best thing ever! HEAD TO COSTCO FOR THE BASICS
Prices for pretty much everything in Hawaii, especially groceries, are much higher than those on the mainland. I signed up for a Costco membership a few weeks before leaving hoping the prices would be more comparable. This was by far the best thing I did to prep for this trip. Between the 3 trips to Costco for food and the 2 stops to fill up on gas, the $60 membership fee easily paid for itself. There’s a Costco on four of the Hawaiian islands: Maui, Kauai, Oahu, and The Big Island. We made Costco our first stop after getting off the plane in Maui and Kauai. They are both located very close to the airport which also makes it great to fill your rental car with gas before returning it.
Because Costco sells products in massive quantities and there were just two of us, we only stocked up on the foods we knew we would eat a lot of during our stay. This meant produce…lots of produce. Organic veggies for salads – something we both like to eat daily – such as organic greens, peppers, tomatoes, beets, and carrots. Organic avocados Organic frozen vegetables – cauliflower rice and stir-fry mix Real food carbohydrates for active adventure days – organic apples and purple sweet potatoes Real food convenience foods for long days away from home – Simple Mills grain-free crackers and Autumn’s Gold grain-free granola bars. Organic chicken thighs, organic free-range ground turkey, and Teton Waters 100% grass-fed sausages.
HIT UP NATURAL FOODS MARKETS FOR SPECIALTY FINDS
After grabbing the basic necessities from Costco, we then sought out a natural food store in both Kauai and Maui for the special things we wanted to take our home-cooked meals up a notch. In Kauai, we found both Healthy Hut in Kilauea and Harvest Market in Hanalei. Both carried organic, local produce, 100% grass-fed, local beef (at a really great price), pasture-raised eggs, gluten-free and grain-free snacks, healthy fats and oils, local coffee and tea, and natural body care products.
We stocked up on: Spindrift sparkling water Nutpods dairy-free coffee creamer
If you’re coming from the mainland, be prepared for sticker shock at these places! There prices for these items are easily 30-40% higher, sometimes even double the price as what you’re used to seeing.
In Maui, there’s a Whole Foods right by the airport! At first, I thought this was really exciting…a place where I knew exactly what to expect and what I could get. However, we were informed by the guy at the rental car pickup that there was an even better place to get these specialty food items at WAY better prices. And, he was right. Mana Foods in Paia carried all of the great brands I expect to find in Whole Foods at the prices that I was used to from back home in Boulder, CO. Most of the products there were priced pretty comparably to the mainland which was refreshing.
For the second leg of our journey, we picked up: Pasture-raised eggs Alter Eco Dark Blackout chocolate Aged Spanish chorizo Purely Elizabeth grain-free granola bars
SCOPE THE GROCERY STORES FOR GOOD DEALS
While we didn’t spend a lot of time (or money) in the box grocery stores like Foodland, we did scope them out and find that, while most of the prices are outrageous, they do have some really good sales. If you love finding a good bargain, you may want to pop into one of these stores and see what’s on sale for the week. You will have to give them your telephone number to sign up for their program in order to get the deals, but it really is worth it.
SEEK OUT FARMER’S MARKETS
There are plenty of Farmer’s Markets going on in all corners of the Hawaiian islands. They are the best spot to find local, organic produce, especially fruit, at good prices. There will be all the avocados, bananas, pineapples, guavas, mangos, and coconuts you could ever want and you’ll be supporting local farmers in the process. We walked through the Hanalei Farmer’s Market, which takes place every Saturday morning, but made it a quick stop because of the rain and mud. It was still a really cool thing to check out and I could have easily spent more time perusing if it were sunny.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF YOUR RENTAL KITCHEN
First things first, stay at a place with a kitchen! It will immediately enhance your experience. Like I mentioned, eating out at a restaurant for every meal while trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is going to get tricky (although not completely impossible). Instead, grab your groceries and get cooking! I know, I know, vacation is meant to be a break from all of that stuff. But, it will be a WAY better trip to cook some meals and stay feeling great instead of not cooking at all, eating questionable restaurant food and feeling crappy. These meals don’t need to be anything elaborate either!
While I love to cook at home, I didn’t want to spend my whole time in Hawaii in the kitchen, so I kept things simple. Lots of salad, roasted veggies, pan-grilled chicken thighs, ground beef, warmed up sausages, and scrambled egg bowls. No need to try whipping up a new recipe!
FIND THE BEST LOCAL CUISINE
If you’re anything like me, one of the best things ever is going out to eat! Especially if it’s a new restaurant with something really great on the menu. This excitement is even more amplified while traveling because there are always new things to try. This is where we get into the happy part of being healthy…finding the experiences that bring you so much joy that it lifts (you and your health) up. For me, and for many others, this involves food.
While in Hawaii, there were some meals I knew would bring me such joy. So, these meals became one of the priorities for how we decided which restaurants to go to. The other factors involved in this decision were: Do they have gluten-free options or menu? Do they source their food locally? Both of these traits are really important to me in the quest for a good restaurant.
Luckily, both Kauai and Maui had plenty of restaurants that met this criteria! In Kauai:
Cafe Turmeric at the Hanalei Street Eats food truck lot
This is a cute Indian-inspired food truck that’s in a parking lot with several other food trucks, all of which served very healthy food choices. I LOVE Indian food so had to go with the fish curry at Cafe Turmeric. It was absolutely delish with really fresh fish and an authentic curry sauce. Almost their entire menu is both gluten-free and dairy-free while also being really easy to customize for a keto lifestyle. Be prepared that you will be eating at communal picnic tables outside with all the chickens!
Sushi Girl in Kilauea
Sushi girl is a permanent food truck serving up poke, sushi burritos, and rolls. I knew without a doubt that I wanted to get my hands on all.the.poke. while I was in Hawaii. I had heard great things about Sushi Girl from friends and knew I needed to stop by this place for the best poke experience. It did not disappoint! The poke bowl, called the Action Bowl, is incredibly fresh and tender with great Asian flavor. They give you the option of ordering it on a bed of greens instead of rice or a combo of both, so very easy to make grain-free and keto. We also had the Sushi Beach roll that hit the sushi spot! Everything on their menu is gluten-free except the seaweed salad.
Tiki Tacos in Kapa’a
Another thing that made it on my must-have list was fish tacos. I love tacos but eat authentic ones very, very rarely since corn is not something I do well with in large doses. Good thing I love lettuce-wrapped tacos! Because this was such a special occasion, we thoroughly researched where to find the best tacos on Kauai. The best way to do this, in my opinion, is with online reviews from other people.
Tiki Tacos was a winner according to tons of reviews and I would have to agree! They take pride in their organic corn tortillas made in house daily and the local-sourcing of their vegetables, fish, and meat. I tried the fish, kalua pig, and lamb tacos on real, corn tortillas! Wow, they are incredible. Everything about these tacos was delish. They come with cabbage, homemade salsa, sour cream, and cheese. They were more than happy to make the tacos dairy-free for me and they are already gluten-free. If corn is not your friend, surely they would be more than happy to put the taco contents on to a bed of greens or cabbage. Just like that you have keto-friendly tacos! Note: these tacos are huge! Much, much bigger than the street tacos I’m used to. Three tacos is way more than a full meal, two would be plenty.
Bubba Burgers in Kapa’a
Bubba’s is a quick dining restaurant that serves 100% grass-fed Kauai beef! That is almost impossible to find on the mainland. For this reason, I was really excited to go, especially coming off a 6-mile hike through mud. However, because I don’t eat dairy or gluten, my burger was pretty lackluster. As in mustard, lettuce, and onion, no bun of course. But, if you can eat dairy, adding cheese and one of their sauces to this would really spice it up a bit and make it a great quick keto spot to stop.
Postcards Cafe in Hanalei
This restaurant blew me away! This was our one date night during our time in Kauai and we picked the perfect spot. I was a little hesitant as the menu is small, but now I know it’s just small because everything is so amazing, they don’t need very many options! I am not a huge fan of seafood, so it was important for me to experience a true seafood dish from a place that got their fish in the same day as is caught and cooked by a chef that knows what’s up. Turns out, when it’s this fresh and cooked correctly, I really, really love seafood.
We started out with some taro fritters and polenta cakes – definitely not something I would ever consider ordering at home, but was interested in experiencing on this trip. Our main courses were sesame crusted ahi and the mahi-mahi plate. Both were exquisite. The fish was perfectly cooked and tender, the sauces and side dishes were great compliments. All of these dishes were gluten-free and dairy-free. You could easily sub out the rice and sweet potato mash for extra veggies to keep it keto!
We left with very full bellies and smiles on our faces. That’s something I’m always worried about when I go to fancier restaurants – their portions are so small and this girl likes to eat! Not so with Postcards. On that note, they are a bit pricier than other restaurants, but worth it in my opinion. In Maui:
Aloha Mixed Plate in Lahaina
We went to Aloha Mixed Plate tired and hungry after a long travel day without knowing much about the place. However, a glance at their menu to spot kalua pork and I was sold. This was yet another must-try Hawaii dish on my list. I attempt to make kalua pork at home pretty regularly and was interested to see how close mine gets to the original. Answer? Not very. Something about authentic kalua pork is untouchable. Including that at Aloha Mixed Plate.
While there weren’t a ton of dished on the menu that were gluten-free and dairy-free, they were very accommodating to make it possible. You can order a salad and get a side of kalua pork to put on top. An amazing combo! Or, you can do a kalua pig plate and sub out the mac salad for a green salad. We chose both of these options and were not disappointed. This was by far the most valuable meal we had the whole time in Hawaii. As in, the most amount of high-quality food for the best price. Plus, you’re outdoors, right on the beach with the waves crashing, and if you catch it at the right time like we did, you get to hear the music from the live luau place right next door! 2-for-1!
Choice Health Bar in Lahaina
We ended up going to Choice Health Bar twice during our week on Maui. While I wouldn’t normally choose a vegan restaurant as my hang out spot, I had heard really good things and was intrigued by their menu. I also really wanted to try an acai bowl. They have been all the rage for awhile now and I still had never had one. I’m not really a smoothie person and definitely not a-ton-of-sugar-in-a-bowl person, but nonetheless, I felt the need to see what these acai bowls were all about, especially ones in Hawaii where they have the best fruit.
Because I don’t eat soy, there’s normally not a ton of options at vegan restaurants, but at Choice, there are plenty of non-soy men items that are actually nut and seed-based. That’s what we focused on during both of our visits. Their caesar kale salad was one of the best salads I have ever had. I don’t know how they do it, but they make a nut-based, dairy-free dressing that is outstanding. The raw pizza and tacos were also very tasty and completely grain-free, soy-free, and naturally low-carb.
We also split the dessert sunrise acai bowl. It was delicious and not nearly as sweet as I thought it would be. However, neither one of us are used to THAT much sugar in one sitting and both felt terrible the rest of the day. Not worth it! We didn’t and never will make that mistake again. I don’t know how people eat an entire one of those and make it through the day.
Another note: Choice has great wifi and a good environment to get work done. Since this was a workcation, we did quite a bit of work and Choice was one of the only places with trusty wifi and chill vibe (aka not just a sea of crazy tourists).
Mama’s Fish House in Paia
This was our Maui date spot. When I asked for recommendations on Maui, this place came up over and over and over again. It is THE place to eat on Maui, no question, which is code for “get a reservation months in advance”. We only made a reservation 3 weeks in advance and had to eat at 2:45 in the afternoon on a Sunday.
Before even stepping foot into the restaurant, I already loved it because they put on their menu the name of the fisherman who caught the fish and where he caught it. You can’t get much more personal with your food than that! Of course, this means the fish they serve are caught that day which makes a huge difference in the taste and quality of the meat. Again, not a ton of items on the menu that were gluten-free and dairy-free, but enough to give us some options. And, they were more than happy to customize a plate of fish and some safe side dishes for us.
We started out with octopus. I was very leary because…octopus. But, really glad I let the server talk me into it. Incredibly tender with a really mild taste. As for main dish, the ahi curry won out for both of us and for good reason. This dish truly was an experience and one that I will never forget. Huge chunks of fish in a rich, creamy coconut-based broth with tons of veggies. Another meal that could very easily be made grain-free and keto-friendly be simply asking for no rice.
There you have it! My recap of everything I ate during my 3 weeks in Hawaii and how I balanced living the experience while continuing to feel my absolute best. No matter where your travels take you, I hope you too can find that balance for yourself and realize you truly can have them both! Now, it’s time for you to start planning your trip to Hawaii so you too can enjoy all of these amazing eats.
Safe travels!

Read More…

Seeing the best of Sri Lanka without sacrificing style

Seeing the best of Sri Lanka without sacrificing style Seeing the best of Sri Lanka without sacrificing style For Cathy and Lisa Wagstaff, Sri Lanka’s south coast is a beacon of beaches, culture and wildlife ideal for a mother-daughter getaway in one of the world’s top trending destinations.
Although we’ve been told how travellers flock to Sri Lanka’s palm-fringed southern coast in search of surfing, whale-watching and snorkelling, we come to realise that seeing the beaches, wildlife-rich national parks and temples is only part of the appeal. It’s the warm welcome that visitors receive that has really put Sri Lanka on the wishlists of worldly travellers.
This 65,610-square-kilometre island is the Pearl of the Indian Ocean, with a population of 21 million, including Sinhalese, Tamils, Moors, Burghers, Malays and the indigenous Vedda people. Since the end of the civil war in 2009, this ‘Splendid Island’ (as its name may be translated in Sanskrit) has only grown in popularity, offering a tantalising blend of adventure, wildlife, culture, cuisine and history. There is far too much to explore in one two-week visit, so we decide not to try to see it all in one trip and focus on the south.
We journey from Colombo, the capital, to the fishing town of Tangalle, stopping often. We sample local fruit from roadside stalls, try buffalo curd topped with honey (it’s delicious) and chat to locals, all with huge smiles. We exchange greetings of ‘Ayubowan’, wishing one another a long life in Sinhala, our hands pressed together as if in prayer. AMANWELLA Life amid the coconut palms
Twelve kilometres outside Tangalle, our driver surprises us and swerves into a rural dirt road that ends at our destination. Aman (its name meaning ‘peace’ in Sanskrit) has a duo of Sri Lankan resorts, both opened in 2004. While Amangalla (80 kilometres west in Galle) is all historic grace, here, Amanwella is a contemporary beach resort, secluded away in 14 hectares of coconut grove.
Architect Kerry Hill, a long-time Aman collaborator, has clearly been inspired by Sri Lanka’s late, pre-eminent architect, Geoffrey Bawa, and his ‘tropical modernism’ style. The 27 suites all feature six-metre plunge pools, stone walls, floor-to-ceiling glass and folding doors and accents crafted from the kithul palm. Under the terracotta roof, clean lines and a palette of soothing cream, beige and honey offers a welcome respite from the balmy heat outside, and – would you believe – a loo with the most extraordinary view.
We’re immediately drawn to the main pool, a 47-metre expanse overlooking Amanwella’s stretch of private beach. Towering palms separate us from the white-sand beach below, and a coterie of poolside attendants keep us cool with a never-ending supply of mint gelato. We eat lunch beside the sand at the Beach Club, where ocean-fresh seafood is grilled over coconut charcoal, and stroll through coconut palms to the beach, where my daughter, Lisa, finds a rope swing at the water’s edge. She arcs through the air and drops into the sea.
Breakfast is served in the breezy Restaurant, overlooking the pool and the beach beyond, where we savour traditional coconut rice and delicate curries cooked with ingredients grown on site. Some days we begin with yoga on a beachside platform, others with a wander through the nearby village of Wella Wathura, following jungle pathways in search of monkeys and wild deer. Two hours northeast of Tangalle, we make our way through Udawalawe National Park, one of the world’s best places to see elephants in the wild. An hour to the west of the resort, we climb the hill above beautiful Mirissa Bay, a hotspot during the whale-watching season and a popular site for Instagrammers, looking out over the ocean. AMANGALLA Where history comes alive
Without a doubt, Galle Fort is the historic highlight of the south coast. The fort, separate from the town of Galle, perfectly preserves Sri Lanka’s colonial history, from the Portuguese who built the first earth-and-palisade defence in the 16th century to the Dutch East India Company, which built the coral and granite walls. The British are here in a tower dedicated to Queen Victoria and the cricket ground just beyond the ‘new’ gate, as are the Moors who came to peddle their wares. The settlement within the fort is spread over 52 hectares of colourful cafes, gelato bars, art galleries and boutiques selling stunning homewares, with a gabled Dutch church, a mosque and a Buddhist temple tucked in between. We walk along the old ramparts, waves lashing the rocks below, and take a tuk-tuk to the Japanese peace pagoda.
Amangalla is the only five-star hotel within the walled town, located in two 17th-century buildings built as Dutch officers’ barracks. In 1865, it became the New Oriental Hotel before being transformed into the 28-room Aman sanctuary that it is today. The style is pared-back colonial grandeur: polished teak floorboards, window shutters, fourposter beds, antique Pettagama chests displaying fine liquors and overhead fans forever turning in the sultry heat.
Atop the hotel is the elegant Amangalla Suite – complete with sunrise views of the ramparts – while our bedroom is in a newer section, nestled in the garden. Even in the entry-level rooms, the bathroom is as big as the bedroom, a freestanding tub at the centre.
It is the service that really makes the hotel stand out during our Sri Lankan journey. We’re greeted in the grand Zaal (Great Hall) by a woman in a crisp, blue-trimmed sari with a soft voice. Pathum, our butler, organises spa treatments (where a doctor presides over an Ayurvedic experience) and urges us to get in early at the Sunset Balcony on the second floor, where we sip arrack sours as the sun dips below the fort walls.
Afternoon tea on the verandah, sumptuous curry dinners in the Dining Room and drinks in the Zaal – where a baby grand piano sings under the fingers of a particularly talented guest – have us feeling as if we are staying in a private home in the days of British Ceylon. RESIDENCE BY UGA ESCAPES Calm in the capital
That feeling returns when we arrive in Colombo. The capital is a lively, vibrant metropolis, so it’s amazing to find a pocket of peace at its heart in the Residence by Uga Escapes . The former home of Sheikh Salehboy Moosajee was designed for entertaining and has elements of colonial style and reverent Victoriana spread across its 11 suites, chandelier-adorned public spaces and restaurant and bar. The hotel is bathed in the serenity of the surrounding gardens and the nearby lakeside Buddhist temple of Gangarama. By day, we venture out into historic quarters and newly developed centres of food and art. By night, we retreat to our private enclave, relishing the final moments of tranquillity before flying home.
Sri Lanka has captured our imaginations like no other destination, from the warmth of its people to the headiness of its spices. Fortunately, our south coast journey covered but a fraction of the island; there is plenty left to explore. Experience
Sri Lanka In Style is a Colombo-based partner of Virtuoso. Photography
Cathy captured her Sri Lanka journey with the Canon EF 70-200 L f/2.8 IS II and Canon EF 24-70 L f/2.8 lenses. cameraelectronic.com.au Getting there
SriLankan Airlines flies from Singapore to Colombo with direct flights from Melbourne to Colombo introduced last year.
This article originally appeared in volume 31 of Signature magazine. To subscribe to the latest issue, click here . Post Tags

Read More…