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By Marie Scott

Whizzing along on the crest of a wave, wind in hair, sun and seaspray on face, aboard a gleaming speedboat must rank as one of the better ways to start a holiday, perhaps only bettered by that seaplane whizzing overhead.

The boat was how we approached the desert island, one of very many tiny coral atolls scattered across the Indian Ocean that make up the Maldives, and though the boat was great, the seaplane has old Hollywood appeal for the next time. Both options are open to those choosing to holiday on one of these idyllic islands. The Maldives has only recently started to become a tourist destination, being a particularly far-flung faraway place that entails lengthy flights. Arriving finally at the islands’ capital, Malé, it is but a few steps to the waiting speedboat or moored seaplane in the harbour for the final lap of the journey. However jet-lagged, this provides exhilarating stimulation to all but the most aquaphobic – who presumably won’t choose to go here on holiday anyway.

A few years back, the Maldives acquired sudden international attention when its government took drastic action to draw notice to a major problem. It staged a cabinet meeting beneath the waves, to emphasise the danger to the islands from rising sea levels.

We may have had soaked politicians in the past, but this provides a new level of immersion from which our own dear leaders might benefit.


The Maldivian ministers donned wet suits and oxygen tanks and entered the pristine waters, clutching their documents in waterproof holders, and communicated by hand signals and white boards. The aim was to draw world attention to the very real threat the rising waters have for the low-lying Maldivian islands, and to give extra urgency to the need for all nations to reduce their carbon emissions.

Whether it has had any effect is a moot point, perhaps the minutes got water-logged, but meantime the islands are thankfully keeping their heads above water.

Which is more than can be said for most visitors. They can’t wait to pull on snorkels, strap on tanks, and join the shoals of fish performing waterobics in the lagoon.

The waters around the islands – all 1,190 of them still there at the last count – teem with fish and coral, so that snorkelling and scuba diving are the main activities for holidaymakers. There is, in truth, little else to do, other than enjoy nice food, cocktails on the jetties, lazing by the sea and sauntering round the island – which may take all of 10 minutes. It suited us down to the nearest sun lounger but is clearly not the place for those who wish to be busy at museums, discos, karaoke bars or suchlike.

But recognising that some visitors may pall of this surfeit of lazing, the Bandos Island Resort, where we were staying, has laid on some diversions. Live evening entertainment in the main palm-roofed reception area included a Western pop singer, who had clearly been so affected by the laid-back atmosphere that his somnolent style drove us to drink – again; while a young, all-male local dance team gave a fantastically strong, riveting performance that should see them signed up by some visiting agent and appearing at the O2 any time soon.

“There were some Japanese visitors with us, equally delighted and admiring
and nearly dropping cameras into the sea in their enthusiasm”

Known as something of a honeymoon resort, we could only sympathise with the many young brides, and old ones too, who must have thought that this remote outpost would remove their spouses from the temptation to watch World Cup football. Was there a corner of the planet where the histrionics and accompanying hysterical commentaries did not reach? Happily, there were plenty of such spots from which to watch the ocean, while sipping a daiquiri, out of ear and eye-shot of the action.

Other activities on offer for those who can’t sit still include nocturnal fishing, island-hopping, and, best of all, a boat trip out to see dolphins. There could be no guarantee, of course, that the fish would appear on cue to perform for us, but boy, did they. The delight and excitement of seeing these wonderful creatures swooping and diving right alongside the boat, beneath the prow, and then executing spins and turns and nose-stands in a shameless display of showing-off was quite magical.

There were some Japanese visitors with us, equally delighted and admiring and nearly dropping cameras into the sea in their enthusiasm. It was tempting to ask how their own government could allow the regular mass slaughter of dolphins each year, but English reserve prevailed.


The Maldives was a British Protectorate up until the mid-1960s and is the country with the lowest natural highest point in the world – a somewhat baffling combination of extremes – at just 7ft 10in. Though waves within the lagoon are usually of the gentle sort, it is easy to understand native concerns about the possibility of being swamped, and indeed, this happened calamitously in the 2004 tsunami. The human toll was mercifully limited by comparison with other areas that were devastated, but the infrastructure was largely destroyed.

Hard to imagine that now, cocktail in hand, watching sharks on the prowl beneath us in spotlights from the jetty. They are, we were assured, of the friendly sort but even a flick from a tail might give a bit of a nasty jolt in passing, but otherwise they are no more dangerous than the sharks in downtown Soho.

For the tourist, this does indeed seem like Heaven-on-sea. The climate is balmy all year round, the sea as warm as a bath, there were no signs of bothersome insects and the small lizards that were everywhere soon scuttled out of sight.

With just under 200 of the islands inhabited, and some of those very sparsely, there is clearly plenty of potential to extend the tourist facilities they have, if they can keep the waves at bay. At present, resort hotels are limited to one per island, apart from Malé, home to the capital. And they are of a deluxe variety. Testament to the sophistication of one, the Shangri-La on Villingili, is that it has been included in the Wine Spectator’s Awards for the second year running for its outstanding wines.

That in turn is testament to the somewhat relaxed attitude the Maldivian government has adopted towards tourists. This is an Islamic country, no other religions allowed, but alcohol, bikinis and shorts are tolerated – yet there are signs warning against holding hands, public displays of affection, and topless bathing is strictly forbidden. The Maldives is not going to become an Eastern Magaluf.

We witnessed a few cuddles and kisses – must have been honeymooners – while some of the older guests did sedately hold hands, without anyone emerging from the bushes to arrest them. Like trade, tourism is great for breaking down barriers and softening rules, in the interests of the local economy. For the Maldives, where the government is not yet showing greater tolerance towards its indigenous population, this must be a good thing.


By Marie Scott Whizzing along on the crest

By Marie Scott

Also described as the Golden Land, Burma positively sparkles with the precious stuff, pagodas dominating the landscape and covered, ornamented, and filled with it, including solid gold statues of the Buddha.

As the traveller flies in to Rangoon, or Yangon as it is now known, this preponderance of large and small pagodas is all too visible from the air, glittering peaks emerging from the countryside in all directions. And once in the city, more are to be seen, and dominating them all, the huge Shwedagon pagoda and complex, a quite stunning manifestation of the Buddhist faith that informs the Burmese way of life.

We arrived in this teeming city, in the vanguard of what is sure to become a tidal wave of visitors, as the country begins to open up after a half century of isolation. Leaving chilly, wintery London and arriving to find welcoming temperatures in the 80s, we were immediately enveloped into a colourful, congested, and cheerful ambience. It is at once foreign but friendly, and the natives, male and female, are all elegantly attired in the traditional longhi skirt, with nary a fat figure to be seen.

A backdrop of old colonial buildings, largely gone to seed, is a reminder of Britain’s colonial rule here. The British left in 1948 and after a brief few years of democracy, the country came under the iron rule of the generals, who have effectively kept the country poor and cut-off since 1953. Now, still there but relaxing their grip slightly since 2011, the future for Burma may not yet look golden but improvements are on the way.

Tourism is helping. Cruising down the Irrawaddy River on the de luxe ‘Road to Mandalay’ ship, it was clear to see the benefits it brings to locals along the way. With few hotels, as yet, outside of Yangon, this vessel takes travellers to villages eager for visitors and the money they bring. And particularly impressive was the hospital that the ship’s owners, the Orient Express, has helped to fund, the ship’s doctor and assistants seeing some 500 patients a day during the three days the ship is moored at Mandalay.

Ah, Mandalay, that fabled city made famous by Kipling, with some help from Sinatra. Now a pretty dusty town with frantic motorcycles and heavy lorries along the infamous Burma Road, its harbour still lives up to Kipling’s evocative poem – though he never actually visited here. Sitting on deck and watching the rays of the setting sun light upon all the golden pagodas on the hillside is magical, especially with a suitably exotic cocktail to hand. Such was taken almost – almost – for recuperative reasons, after a long day out exploring.

An early start took us up through the Highlands to Maymyo, founded by a Colonel May in colonial days as a retreat from the heat of Mandalay. A mini replica of a British country town, its neat villas and bungalows are now largely occupied by rich Chinese and Indians, its town clock, a testament to its British clockmaker, Purcell, still keeping time.


The journey up was spectacular and a reminder of how lush this country is. Everything thrives, flowers, vegetables, fruit in abundance. The country is also rich in oil, minerals and rice, all of which are exported – but with little benefit to the Burmese people. The stark poverty of most makes their elegance, charm and friendliness all the more remarkable, with little pressure on visitors to buy their wares. Women often have faces painted with taneko, a white cream substance; while some of the more fashion-conscious young men sport the tufted hairdos of popular Asian footballers.

Football is a national obsession, the poorest villages sporting satellite dishes to ensure TV reception of international games. It was introduced into the country by a buccaneering British adventurer-turned-colonial-official, one George Scott, in the 1870s. He was responsible for opening up and mapping much of the country, a fearless fellow out of a Boys Own adventure story, who used football to engage with some of the country’s most savage natives, including head hunters. (It’s claimed that this practice only finally died out in the 1970s.)

There is still conflict going on, between the Burma army and the Kachin and Shan ethnic minorities in the north east of the country, and the terrain has changed little since Scott’s time. Here, various warlords reign over an international drugs trade that crosses the border into China, and the region is certainly off-limits to tourists, a pretty lawless place for any visitor.

Back on board our floating hotel, we enjoyed the tranquility of the Irrawaddy, or more properly the Ayawady as the Burmans call it. Drifting gently along, we passed villages and temples, scattered dwellings along the banks, villagers washing and playing in the water, the occasional giant Buddha a reminder of the important place this religion occupies in Burmese life. At one village we visited, a pagoda had recently been renovated with gold, and the £40,000-plus expense was largely covered by nearby residents, who might well be thought to be rather more in need themselves.

But if we had seen many pagodas along the way, Pagan provided a positively wanton abundance of them. Big ones, small ones, some as large as pyramids, some solid, some hollow, some plain, some lavishly ornamented, glittering of gold or mellow of stone, they sprouted across the plain like a forest of fairytale creations. We scrambled up the largest, a pyramid-type giant that became a teaming mass of tourists over its many ledges, there to witness and, more specifically, to photograph the view as the sun set.


Burma is much more than the sum of its many pagodas (Pagan alone boasts over 2,000). It has had a long and turbulent history, and encompasses a rich mix of ethnic races, providing a variety of skills and crafts. In Yangon, the street stalls sell all manner of produce, the indoor markets rich pickings of textiles, apparel and handicrafts. There is fine art as well as local paintings, wonderful gems, traditional lacquer ware, tempting antiques. And all engagingly presented by these delightful people.

Returning to Yangon, we visited a war graves cemetery, where some 27,000 British and allied servicemen are buried at just one of the three sites in the city. Beautifully mantained, the row upon row of marble head stones testified to the youth of so many buried here, and the inscribed messages from loved ones conveyed their anguish all too movingly.

And from one sad experience to another, we were taken to view three ‘ceremonial’ elephants, their confinement something of a metaphor for the lives of the Burman people. Perhaps they too may soon enjoy greater freedom.

Marie Scott travelled with Audley Travel, on Qatar Airways, staying at the Traders Hotel in Rangon, and sailing on the ‘Road to Mandalay’ ship, with a single cabin. Over 12 days, the trip costs around £6,000.

By Marie Scott Also described as the Golden

By Diana Butler

There is one sport which should come with a government health warning – polo. It has been said that the only way to cure a passion for this fast paced and thrilling game, the oldest team sport in the world, is death or bankruptcy! The players think nothing of flying along a beautifully manicured grass lawn at 40mph, while using just their weight and the speed of their pony to keep their opponent off the ball. This goes by the mild term of ride off, but in the heat of battle it is anything but!

The perfect place to see player and pony in perfect harmony is at Guards Polo Club, situated in the heart of the magnificent Windsor Great Park. The Club first opened its doors 59 years ago and continues to boast an impressive list of playing members, including leading members of the Royal Family. Other key names include the World’s Number One Adolfo Cambiaso. Now in his late 30s, Cambiaso has been a 10-goaler – the highest handicap possible in this sport of kings – for some 20 years and brings much South American flair and panache to every game.

To complement such a world-class list of playing members, Guards Polo Club has created a fixtures list that is the envy of clubs around the world. The polo season may not be that long – games are played on grass in England from April to September – but the club offers more than 600 games in these five action-packed months. Matches range from tough, competitive high-goal games for tournaments such as The Cartier Queen’s Cup – with team sheets reading like a Who’s Who of polo – to smaller low-key games for the Club’s patrons, which successfully combine rivalry on the field with friendship off it.

Key fixtures for 2014 include the prestigious Al Habtoor Royal Windsor Cup; Jack Wills Varsity Day featuring Oxford v Cambridge; Pommery Polo for the Archie David Cup; the Inter Regimental and the Duke of Wellington Trophy, plus the world-famous Audi International Polo for the Coronation Cup, which this year will see the England team play an impressive Argentine side for one of the most magnificent cups to be won in this most stylish of sports. To be held on a Saturday for the first time in its history this summer – 26 July – this great day of sport combines perfect polo on the field with excellent entertainment off it.


Not surprisingly Guards Polo Club is hugely proud of its unrivalled relationship with The Royal Family. HM The Queen historically attends several matches each season and is regularly accompanied by her husband, HRH Prince Philip, who as Club President takes a keen interest in all developments at the Club. It was the Prince who originally suggested creating a Club in Windsor Great Park as he wanted to play closer to home (Windsor Castle) and although HRH retired from the game in the early 1970s, he continues to watch the matches with an experienced eye and remains an expert on this tough and challenging sport. Princes Charles, William and Harry have followed in Prince Philip’s footsteps, not only discovering a passion for polo but also playing many a game on the Club’s main grounds.

Guards Polo Club is not just for the experienced player though. The Club welcomes non-players and their guests and everyone receives a warm welcome in the Club’s elegant Clubhouse regardless of their handicap. The Clubhouse team, headed up by TV chef Merrilees Parker, creates delicious menus to suit every occasion, be it a relaxing Sunday lunch before a game, a celebratory end-of-season dinner or a traditional, post match afternoon tea. Of course, with 11 grounds at the Club, plus two further grounds at neighbouring Coworth Park, which Guards Polo Club manages on behalf of the Dorchester Collection, there is always plenty of polo to accompany such menus.

Thanks to the Club’s extensive global reciprocal agreements, Guards Polo Club can offer all of its members the chance to watch, and often play, polo almost anywhere in the world. So even when the covers are pulled over the manicured lawns of Smith’s Lawn, the Club’s elegant metal badge keeps on working, offering polo in places such as Brazil, Barbados, Thailand, USA, Australia and New Zealand. In fact, membership of this great club offers so much more than polo – although there is nowhere better in the UK to see this great sport of kings and princes.

Readers of Savile Row magazine are invited to sample this great sport for themselves. Please contact Guards Polo Club membership team on 01784 434212, quoting Savile Row Magazine, and a member of our events team will be delighted to arrange complimentary day guest badges for you and a guest to enjoy some great polo at the most famous polo club in the world.

For more details on matches and membership please go to

By Diana Butler There is one sport which

It’s a close shave

The barber that shaved Charles Dickens with an open cut-throat razor is now shaving men all over the globe – not him personally, of course, but the brand. While the marketing of brands was not the phenomenon it is today when Dickens was being attended to, he and his contemporaries would have been very familiar indeed with the barber name that continues to shave the great and the good now – Truefitt & Hill.

grooming_twoAs the oldest barber shop in the world, starting life in 1805, it has been responsible for holding a razor to more illustrious throats than any other respectable institution. And one member of staff in particular served very many of them, Mr Holgate finally retiring from the shop in 2001 at the age of 96, after over 82 years with the company, having started with them at the age of 14.

There are now outposts of Truefitt & Hill providing wet shaves with a razor to gentlemen in Chicago, Toronto and Beijing. And a new partnership with top spa name Resense will see their range of men’s toiletries in Kapinski hotels all over the world.

This tie-up was celebrated at Truefitt’s St. James’s premises this autumn, where the esoterics of a close wet shave were demonstrated on a relaxed young man by a young lady barber. Dickens would surely have appreciated the attentions of a female barber, but the first lady to be hired here was an American manicurist in 1864, and not until 1964 was a lady allowed to wield the razor.

There has been something of a renaissance of wet shaves, men once again enjoying going to a barber in much the same way as women go to the hairdresser – to be pampered.

At this establishment, there is a strict procedure, from various unguents being applied, through the head being wrapped and massaged in a towel, to the foam being applied, always with a badger brush, and then the steady strokes of the blade. This is no longer sharpened upon a leather strop. Not surprisingly, Health & Safety have interfered here, so that the blades are disposable and must not be used more than once. Most men with any real growth will testify to the fact that this really is the best shave possible.

Shaving aside, various other services are available. And a raft of soaps and creams, deodorants and colognes are marketed under the Truefitt & Hill name, and it is these that will now have pride of place in the Resense spas internationally, within Kempinski hotels. This will be the only men’s range used by Resense and on sale to clients.

Exotic wax for your tash

Moustaches are quite out of fashion. Not so long ago, when every man wore a hat, they also favoured a tash, from narrow to full blown handlebar but facial hair has been pretty much out of favour since the 1940s.

Nevertheless, there are those men out there dedicated to cultivating a bushy growth above their upper lip, and inevitably there are those dedicated to helping them.
BeauFort London is one such. This company has created a moustache finishing wax designed to withstand extremes of temperature and humidity without losing its hold. Made from Somerset beeswax, Argan oil from Morocco, Brazilian orange peel wax and Ghanian shea butter, it will ensure that a gentleman’s moustache, whether pencil slim, of Dali’s sharp points, Fu Manchu style or Poirot neat, stays exactly in place.
Available in a smooth aluminium case below, it is just the present for a moustachioed man of your acquaintance, price £80.

Putting a smile on your lips

The Americans have always thought the British have terrible teeth – and indeed our gnashers have often been seen as less than pearly. But now the benefits of revealing an impressive dental array when smiling is increasingly appreciated by British men, as the pursuit of looking good continues apace.

The spend on cosmetics – not just deodorant and aftershave – has risen phenomenally in recent years, and is now little short of what women spend, and indeed recent reports claim that some spend more. There are salons across the country devoted to pampering and grooming the male, and the breadth of unguents available to support them in providing miraculous transformations is ever-growing.

grooming_threeRecourse to dental surgery has been slower but is catching on. When author Martin Amis had a mouthful of change some years ago in the U.S, at considerable expense, it drew snide comments from the media and was seen as somehow a bit precious. He, in fact, had to have the inplants for health reasons. Now, many men in the UK are at last following in the teeth of their American cousins and getting their crooked, misshapen, and stained teeth fixed.

It is costly of course, and can require time consuming and a not very pleasant treatment procedure. Not surprisingly a new treatment in Harley Street that promises a ‘One Day Smile Makeover’ is proving pretty popular.

Developed by Elleven, it promises to give patients a complete set of porcelain veneers within the day.

An initial consultation notes just how patients want their smile to be improved, and then a ‘trial smile’ is designed, shown on a model. On the day of transformation, the patient arrives in the morning and the dental restorations are created using computer aided design and manufacture. A porcelain block shaded to match the resident teeth is perfected. The resulting dental creations have a life-like porcelain appearance, it is claimed, and these are bonded to the existing teeth. Hey presto, within just a few hours, a dire set of Hampstead Heath have been turned into pearlies to ensure a flashing smile.

Elleven is a specialist orthodontic practice that has been established since 2005. This procedure, perfected by Elleven’s Dr.Julian Caplan, former president of the British Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry, has been proving very popular since its launch early this year.

Its success stems from a computer system called CEREC, which uses the CadCam procedure to scan the mouth with a specialised camera, creating a virtual 3D image on the computer. It picks out teeth that would benefit from veneers or crowns, and design tools create a virtual restoration. This is then used to make the porcelain block shaded to match the patient’s teeth. Glazed in the oven, like pots, the resulting teeth are bonded into place.

So, if you have damaged, discoloured, worn, gappy or crowded teeth, this may be the thing to put a new smile on your face.

It’s a close shave The barber that shaved

Personal trainer Gary Renney sets out the foundation for making fitness an integral part of day-to-day life

Looking in the mirror, the average chap may suck in his cheeks, tuck in his chin, square his shoulders, straighten his back and pull in a paunch almost unconsciously, so that before him stands a fine figure of a fellow. But his tailor, with his tape measure, will be privy to the naked truth: that slouching over a hot desk, partaking of rich business lunches, and a lack of exercise have had their effects.

Harsh diets, even harsher gym regimes, and half an hour’s desultory exercise in the morning may help a bit to shift the flab and tauten the muscles. But it is only a coordinated programme of sensible diet, gym and targeted exercises that can bring and retain the changes a man may desire.

An individual’s body weight will have increased steadily over a period of time before he decides to do something about it. Then, there is no rapid remedy. If you take into account the time it took to gain that weight, it means that getting rid of it can only be achieved over time.

So, whether you are considering buying a new suit or trying to get back into an old favourite, achieving the shape you desire means following a set of three simple disciplines.


Aim to increase your protein intake to 30-40 per cent of each meal, concentrating upon clean protein such as chicken, fish and eggs, which will keep you fuller for longer, decreasing the likelihood of the dreaded snacking. Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t wish to cut out fats and carbohydrates as they are essential; carefully choosing your sources and controlling portion size is the key.

Carbohydrates from organic sources such as vegetables and grains are a fantastic source of fuel; due to their structural complexity they have slower breakdown rates than refined sources such as white rice, bread and pasta. Fats help to maintain a healthy cardiovascular system and play an important role in meal satiety.

Good fat sources such as avocado and nuts (monounsaturated) as well as those from fatty fish and seeds (polyunsaturated) are perfectly healthy. Saturated fat sources like fatty meats and whole fat dairy products should provide less than 10% of a day’s calories.

Finally, avoid trans fats; these fats have been modified to increase product shelf life resulting in a fat the body doesn’t recognise, cannot metabolise. Sources include baked goods, snack foods and margarine. The FDA recommends trans fat consumption should be as low as possible, so look out for hydrogenated oils on food labels. The correct blend of carbohydrates, fats and proteins will provide a sustained energy release, stopping blood sugar levels getting too high and causing unnecessary energy (FAT) storage.


loose_fat_twoA common misconception is that crunches will reduce abdominal fat. Site-specific fat loss is in fact a myth. Weight loss can be achieved by playing a simple game of energy balance; using more calories than you are consuming, creating an energy deficit.

Quite simply, each muscle can be considered as an engine, and the fuel for these engines comes primarily from fats and carbohydrates. The most time effective way to create an energy deficit is to select compound exercises that use the larger groups of muscles, in particular legs, core, back and chest.

Subcutaneous adipose stores (which is the fat stored under the skin) serves as an energy reservoir. When an energy deficit is created, fat is mobilised from the store as a whole, to provide energy for the body. Therefore, abdominal crunches and bicep curls will not significantly reduce body fat, as the muscle groups involved are too small.

Rowing, on the other hand, is aerobically one of the most demanding activities as it engages all of the lower body musculature in conjunction with the upper body pulling muscles (back and biceps). After approximately 12-15 minutes of such activity, the body begins to metabolise fat to fuel the effort.


‘Consistency is key’ is a phrase all too familiar to my clients. It is what I stress must be the basis for any weight loss and fitness regime. Going on a crash diet and training a few times will not provide long term improvements. Remembering how long it took to gain weight, subtle lifestyle changes are required that can be sustained, encompassing food and exercise.

If you are struggling to exercise consistently try to exercise on the same days each week, consider getting a training partner, and vary the exercises in your routine. The World Health Organisation suggests 30 minutes a day of MODERATE intensity exercise, and paired with a sensible dietary intervention, that should give a weight loss of 2lbs per week.

These are the three essential considerations when embarking upon a programme aimed at achieving weight loss and developing physical fitness. Forget the fashionable diets, the sporadic crash sessions at the gym. A sustained regime is what will give long-term results, so take responsibility for your fitness goals and slowly embrace some lifest

Personal trainer Gary Renney sets out the