FrontRunner: Elephant polo and wine tours

    GROUNDBREAKING EVENT
    When the British aristocracy invented elephant polo at the turn of the 20th century, the players swatted soccer balls. Unfortunately, the elephants squashed these flimsy projectiles, prompting a switch to standard polo balls. With this annoyance overcome, the sport gradually gained ground, attracting both corporate sponsors and a worldwide fan base. This year, after five years under the purview of the Anantara Resort Hua Hin (anantara.com) in southern Thailand, the King’s Cup Elephant Polo Tournament—part of the World Elephant Polo Association’s World Series—is moving north. The Anantara Resort Golden Triangle, located about seven miles from the field of battle, will assume hosting duties for the event, which will take place September 4 through 10. . . .

    THE TWAIN MEET
    The Spa at Hotel Arts Barcelona is the first European outpost of Six Senses Resorts & Spas (sixsenses.com), the Bangkok-based company that typically operates in exotic destinations such as the Maldives’ Soneva Fushi. Practitioners administer adventuresome treatments that include ear candling, a technique that targets the ears, throat, and sinus; Katapateo massage, which is performed with the feet; and the three-hour Sensory Journey, a four-handed massage by two therapists. . . .

    WESTERN CIVILIZATION
    Oeno-philes now can visit some of Sonoma County’s most inaccessible wineries with the help of Healdsburg, Calif.’s Les Mars Hôtel (lesmarshotel.com). Guests of the 16-room property, which includes Cyrus Restaurant, one of this year’s Best of the Best dining honorees, have exclusive access to a program of one- and two-day tours that explore wineries otherwise closed to the public. Prices begin at $7,500 per day for a group of two to eight people. . . . About 750 miles to the north, amid rust-colored lowlands dotted with mint green sagebrush, is the 30-room Cave B Inn at SageCliffe (cavebinn.com), the first luxury wine-oriented destination in central Washington state. Neurosurgeon Vince Bryan purchased the 550-acre property when he realized that the soil resembled that of Provence, which he had visited during vacations. Enlisting his wife and children to plant grapes on weekends, he demonstrated that the arid Ancient Lakes region is a superb spot for winemaking. Now, the property includes a winery that produces a full range of reds and whites, including Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Chardonnay, and a Blanc de Blanc sparkling wine. 

    Contributors: Brett Anderson, Lori Bryan, Brent Butterworth, Karen Cakebread, Sheila Gibson Stoodley, Jennifer Hall, Katherine Jacob, Laurie Kahle, Jill Newman, Mike Nolan, Michael Schulze, Shaun Tolson

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