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HTSI editor's letter: autumn travel special - Financial Times

Author: Financial Times

Source: https://www.ft.com/content/f26baa66-3d32-4346-a113-d05073f96205

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Unlock the Editor’s Digest for freeRoula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.HTSI editor Jo Ellison © Marili AndreWhat lures us to certain parts of the planet while other cities fail to appeal at all?Sometimes our reasons can be very basic.I enjoy going to places – especially former Eastern Bloc cities – where I might find an old-fashioned photo booth.I don’t quite know why I love them: probably because no other device has ever lit a face so well, but the portraits have a romance that seems to capture something of the sitter’s mood in a way no smartphone ever can.Holidays are lovely – the sighting of an autofoto seals the deal. The greatest souvenir I can find on any trip is a strip of four square portraits developed in one of the world’s still-working booths.In Bangkok, Kodchakorn P wears an Hermès metallic draped jacquard chiton-style dress, £5,320 © Ana KrašIn this travel issue we have tried to go to places that are perhaps not the best-known destinations on the map.Though many people have visited Thailand’s lustrous beaches, fewer holidaymakers spend much time in Bangkok.The city has long been the focus of a push by the country’s tourist board to “Discover Thainess”, an effort on which they have spent billions of baht.But, argues writer Chris Schalkx, too often those efforts have meant creating shining multiplexes and skyscrapers that emulate a faux nostalgia at the expense of its rootsier charms.To accompany a shoot by Ana Kraš and Delphine Danhier, our cover story offers what we hope is an authentic portrait of a city that still stuns with its cuisine, its temples and its diverse style. As Chris writes: “Bangkok feels, at times, on its way to being gobbled up by the ever-expanding blandness of globalisation.But it only takes a flash of marigold, a near-miss with a rattletrap tuk-tuk or a nose-tingling waft from a roadside som tum stall to remind you that the Thai capital is still south-east Asian – and one of its most electrifying corners.”Sonia Cheng, CEO of the Rosewood Hotel Group, at Hôtel Crillon, Paris © Julien Lienard Sonia Cheng joined New World Group and became chief executive officer of the Rosewood Hotel Group back in 2008.In little more than a decade, she has rolled out a breathtaking number of projects, including a dramatic renovation of both the Carlyle in New York and the Crillon in Paris, as well as initiating an impressive portfolio of Rosewood hotels around the world: one of its biggest undertakings, The Chancery, situated in the former American embassy in Mayfair, will open in 2025.Based in Hong Kong – where she is also raising five children, as well as serving as vice-chairman and executive director in the main family business, Chow Tai Fook, which she took on in 2022 – Cheng has a fascinating vision of the future of hospitality, and how a hotel must reflect its community.Maria Shollenbarger met her in Paris to get her take on hotel menus, members’ clubs and – one of the most hotly contested bits of real estate for hoteliers in 2023 – the makings of the perfect spa.Bonine Carriage House in Cass County, Michigan, part of the Underground Railroad route in the US © Patti WaldmeirDoes a tourist trail even count if you haven’t got a trail to go on? When the FT’s North American correspondent Patti Waldmeir decided to learn more about the Underground Railroad, a US network of safe houses and abolitionists on whom slaves could depend while escaping the antebellum south, she realised that most of the sites in question no longer exist.Our understanding of the Railroad has only been further confused by modern interpretations that give the impression an actual railroad once existed.Nevertheless, the routes by which more than 100,000 slaves found freedom have become a topic of national interest in recent decades, and the National Park Service and others are rightly commemorating the lives of both those who helped “staff” the Railroad, such as Harriet Tubman, as well as the people whom the “road” helped liberate.Lastly, on reading Eric Nam’s guide to Seoul, and having seen the film Past Lives last weekend, I am more determined than ever to visit Korea.I love his observation that Koreans will see something they like, then work out how to make it better – and that he has never eaten better pasta than that served in his part-time home city.Even better, I’ve discovered that Korea has a healthy and evolving booth culture – Life Four Cuts has ignited an autofoto craze.@jellison22For the best of HTSI straight into your inbox every week, sign up to our newsletter at ft.com/newsletters

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