x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A few things that rock my world

Little black book Susan Macaulay is the founder of the recently launched website www.amazingwomenrock.com.

Susan Macauley, the founder of the new website www.amazingwomenrock.com.
Susan Macauley, the founder of the new website www.amazingwomenrock.com.

Susan Macaulay, founder of the recently launched website www.amazingwomenrock.com. I am quite an adventurer, but I'm also a creature of habit. I've been going to my favourite hotel - the Gravenbruch Kempinski (www. kempinski-frankfurt.de), just outside of Frankfurt - pretty much every year, twice a year, since I arrived in the UAE in 1993. I choose to travel via Frankfurt on my way to and from Canada, my native country, just so I can stay there. The service is exemplary, the staff friendly and helpful; they always remember my name. The rooms are comfortable (if a little austere) and the setting is lovely. It is a quiet wooded area next to a small lake, which can be viewed, with or without afternoon tea, from a cosy glass-walled solarium. The hotel is not fancy or fantastic, like many of the hotels in the UAE, but to me it's like a home away from home. If you go there, you must dine at the hotel's gourmet restaurant, The Forsthaus (+49 (0) 693 898 8660). The food is simply splendid.

In my opinion, the only thing missing in Dubai is melt-in-your-mouth Belgian chocolates, but I go to Bernard Callebaut (www.bernardcallebaut.com) in Calgary to stock up. I've tasted and tested chocolates the world over, but Callebaut's are undeniably the best - just thinking about them makes my mouth water. Who cares if each one is worth about a hundred times its weight in calories? Calgary is also home to my favourite shoe shop - Arnold Churgin's (+1 403 266 2543, www.arnold churgin.com) - where I've found the finest "private label" leather footwear and handbags for the last 30 years. It used to be the only place I could source funky flats, like the ballet slippers that are all the rage right now. I guess I was either making a fashion faux pas, or years ahead of my time, depending on how you look at it. Or maybe I just like to swim against the tide .

Anyone who lives in Dubai is spoiled for choice when it comes to restaurants, so it's tough to pick a list-topper. For me, Sakura is up there. It's the Japanese restaurant at the Crowne Plaza. When I first lived in Dubai in 1997, I ate at Sakura every Thursday night for an entire year - I just couldn't get enough of their delicious sushi and teppanyaki (04 331 1111). When I go back to Canada, I love country living - it's the complete antidote to the glitz of the UAE. I love to drive to Fitch Bay, Quebec, where you'll find Bleu Lavande, which is the largest lavender farm in Canada and the second largest in North America with over 200,000 true lavender plants. You can smell it a mile away! They have more lavender plants than anyone could imagine and it's great to wander there on a day out (www.bleu lavande.com). On the way home I can recommend the home-baked goods at Georgeville General Store, which is 135 kilometres south-east of Montreal in the village of Georgeville. Their pies are scrumptious and it is a very quaint location.

For a perfect beach holiday nothing beats the Marina Phuket Resort on Karon Beach, Phuket where Thai culture meets tropical jungle. The resort has cosy cottages, with either sea or jungle views, which are linked by lovely forest walkways. You can snorkel on the reef right in front of the resort and I think it's wonderful (+66 7633 0625, www.marinaphuket.com). Even though I love to eat, I also like to exercise too. I like to cycle, run and swim, all of which can be combined in the form of triathlon, which is fast becoming a hot sport in the UAE. DubaiTri Club (www.dubaitriclub.net) is the place to go for advice, training and competitions that run throughout the year.