Why a trip to Portugal’s Algarve with Tivoli Carvoeiro should be on your bucket list…

This month I was lucky enough to visit Tivoli Carvoeiro on Portugal’s Algarve coast and a short stay was enough to show me that it has all the ingredients for a trip that ticks all the boxes- and more!

Here are just a few reasons to put it on your “to-go” list…

  • Off-season sun – with an average of 300 days of sunshine a year, the Algarve is the ideal destination for sun seekers looking to soak up some vitamin D before winter really sets in. Tivoli Carvoeiro’s iconic circular outdoor pool offers the perfect place to catch some rays on a comfortable sun lounger, refreshing drink in hand, or pop down to the secluded cove to feel the sand between your toes and enjoy the sound of the waves gently lapping the shore.

  • Things to do- for those looking for an active break the Algarve doesn’t disappoint. Adrenaline junkies can try surfing, scuba diving or mountain biking, while those looking for a more gentle day out can enjoy boat trips and coastal walks, all of which can be organised by Tivoli’s knowledgable team. Don’t fear- if your idea of a holiday is complete R&R the hotel’s gorgeous pool overlooking a quintessential cove is an idyllic backdrop or perhaps treat yourself to some serious pampering with an indulgent massage or facial in the spa… pure bliss!

  • A foodie haven- with savoury sardines, sweet custard tarts, fresh fish and more, Portugal is firmly on the foodie map and has something for every palette. Those staying at Tivoli Carvoeiro can look forward to delicious local and international dishes in the hotel’s three restaurants, with many more just a short stroll away in the town of Carvoeiro. Don’t miss the chance to try a creative cocktail or glass of local wine or port while watching the sun go down from the hotel’s rooftop Sky Bar- THE place for sundowners and after-dinner drinks in Carvoeiro!

  • Stunning scenery – from rugged mountainous terrain to golden sandy beaches, crystal clear waters, cute coves and caves and impressive coastal arches and rock formations – Portugal’s views just keep on giving. Nestled in a quiet cove, Tivoli Carvoeiro makes the most of its enviable location and you can enjoy impressive panoramic vistas throughout the hotel, from the bedroom, beach or breakfast terrace- it’s an Instagrammer’s dream!

I hope this has given you some inspiration and another gorgeous destination & hotel to add to your travel wish list!

For more information visit www.minorhotels.com/en/tivoli/tivoli-carvoeiro

La Maison d’Ulysse – a hidden gem in the heart of Provence

Nothing else quite epitomises hidden gem as well as La Maison d’Ulysse in the tiny village of Baron in Provence. My taxi dropped me outside a 16th century converted farmhouse and as I rang the bell I had no idea of the sheer beauty that awaited me inside the hotel’s old stone walls. Once you enter the front door of La Maison d’Ulysse, it feels as though you are stepping into a little paradise with lush greenery hanging from the hotel’s exterior walls.

La Maison d’Ulysse is a charming home turned authentic luxury hotel, providing a relaxed, welcoming and warm atmosphere, with the owners Guy Toullelan and Gauthier Vandendriessche personally there to welcome each guest upon arrival into “their home”.

The former house has been beautifully restored and features carefully selected modern furnishings that blend meticulously with the original stonework. Each room features its own design and unique character, whilst none of them compromise on either space or comfort. Featuring only nine bedrooms, each room feels hidden away from the others as if offering its very own secret hideaway. I stayed in the elegantly designed Chant du Murier suite, which resembles something you’d find in a glossy interior design magazine. A beautiful stone staircase leads you up to a private terrace outside the luxury suite. Upon entering, the striking bathroom is what really stands out, featuring colourful circular rugs made by Hay, a Danish designer brand, against a mosaic wall of small earthenware tiles.

On my first day we took a leisurely walk to the peaceful hamlet of Marignac, as part of the hotel’s new ‘Gauthier’s Guides’, a selection of guides left in the rooms for walking, jogging or cycling. With the expert guidance of Gauthier Vandendriessche, one half of the hotel’s founders, we embarked on a 6km walk to the hamlet of Marignac, also referred to as ‘Our little Nice’, simply because it enjoys the most sunshine and is the most protected against the Mistral wind out of all of the villages surrounding Uzès. The walk takes you through beautiful countryside and vineyards, overlooking the valley of Baron and offering magnificent views of the mountains in the distance.

On my second day I visited the medieval market town of Uzès for the weekly Wednesday morning market, during which local producers and agricultures come together to display their produits du terroir, regional products and specialities. Expect cheese, olives, wine, olive oil, fruit, bread, herbs and so much more.

Uzès is a beautiful small town in the Gard department, north of Nîmes, with a history dating from Roman times. The circular streets around the historical centre were once walls that protected the medieval castle in the 11th and 12th centuries.

The ancient centre houses Le Duché, a medieval castle with four towers, the lovely Place aux Herbes with terrace cafés and surrounding arcades, and the tall Fenestrelle tower at the cathedral, fashioned after the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

I spent my afternoon relaxing on the sun loungers lined up by the hotel’s outdoor heated pool. Surrounded by wildflower, herb and vegetable gardens, the pool offers the ultimate peaceful setting. Protected by the mistral wind, with the smell of lavender coming from the garden and stunning views of the surrounding Provencal countryside, I couldn’t think of a better spot to relax and unwind.

The breakfast at the hotel is outstanding, Gauthier personally shows you what he’s served up that morning at the breakfast buffet and offers you his own homemade crepes, accompanied with homemade fig and apricot jams. I opted to dine every morning in the restaurant’s beautiful stone-lined courtyard, with a beautiful gate opening up to the sun-soaked wild garden.

On my final night I had the pleasure of dining at the hotel’s restaurant. At the hands of the talented chefs Valerie and Daniel, I enjoyed a sublime butternut squash soup with Brazil nuts, and simply the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever had! Trained at the Institut Paul Bocuse, the duo meld French culinary precision with Asian and Caribbean elements to create culinary masterpieces.


Valerie and Daniel’s kitchen at La Maison d’Ulysse serves up fresh and seasonal gourmet cuisine, sourced from the wonderfully rich and fertile environs of the hotel, and chosen by the chefs at a local food market. The menu changes daily in accordance to what is ripe and fresh that day and the couple take pleasure in constantly reinventing and creating new dishes.

To sum it up, La Maison d’Ulysse is an absolute dream and offers an extremely relaxed and friendly atmosphere in the heart of Provence.

The Top Ten Ways to Celebrate Afternoon Tea Week


With Afternoon Tea Week in full swing, we hand-picked a variety of our clients that are offering their own take on this quintessential pastime:

G&V Royal Mile Hotel Edinburgh:

CapturePerfectly positioned at the corner of George IV Bridge and the Royal Mile, just steps from Edinburgh Castle, G&V Royal Mile Hotel Edinburgh is in the heart of Edinburgh. Afternoon Tea is served in the striking Cucina restaurant or on the outdoor terrace in fair weather. The Chef’s unique take on this British tradition includes cucumber gazpacho, chamomile tea sorbet, honeycomb truffle and Negroni jelly!

Traditional Afternoon Tea from £22.50 per person or with a choice of cocktail for £29.50. Visit https://www.quorvuscollection.com/en/gandv-hotel-edinburgh for further information and booking

La Suite West, Hyde Park:

1La Suite West is delighted to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week with a special collaboration with AfternoonTea.co.uk. La Suite West’s NEW Nosh Garden Kitchen is the perfect place to celebrate the annual Afternoon Tea Week with an indulgent but healthy Afternoon Tea in the hotel’s beautiful garden terrace.  For the duration of Afternoon Tea Week and for the whole of August, La Suite West will be offering 25% off their quintessentially contemporary vegan alternative to this Great British Tradition every day from 12pm. Featuring a fashionable and central venue near London’s Hyde Park, Portobello Road Market, Notting Hill and Kensington Palace Gardens, the newly launched Nosh Garden Kitchen features a selection of superfoods and products free from additives, eggs, dairy,  gluten and high in vitamin content. The vegan Afternoon Tea offers a selection of raw and plant based dining options, with a combination of designer finger sandwiches, crusty home-made scones served with light and creamy whipped coconut cream and fresh strawberries, to a selection of home-made pastries. This will of course be accompanied by a bubbling glass of non-alcoholic fizz and a selection of fine JING Teas.

Vegan Afternoon Tea from £21.75 per person. Visit afternoontea.co.uk for further information and booking

Offer subject to availability. Not to be used in conjunction with any other offer. Valid 1st – 31st August

 Hotel Gotham, Manchester:

2The stunning art deco façade of luxury 5-star boutique Hotel Gotham, situated at the centre of mid-town Manchester, is one of the city’s grandest buildings. A former bank premises dubbed the ‘King of King street’ due to its grandeur and castle-like design, guests are greeted by glamorous, Manhattan-inspired interiors, housing 60 luxurious rooms and suites. The hotel also boasts Club Brass, a private roof-top bar with panoramic views over the city, as well as Honey, the two AA rosette restaurant serving contemporary British cuisine. Those looking to indulge in signature Gotham style can book an afternoon tea at the hotel’s Honey restaurant for an exciting dining experience. Guests will be served a delicious selection of homemade cakes and sandwiches, handmade scones with local jams, as well as a selection of freshly brewed coffee or speciality teas.

Afternoon Tea from £25 per person. Visit www.hotelgotham.co.uk for further information and booking

Dorsett Shepherds Bush, London 

3Located in the heart of vibrant West London on Shepherds Bush Green, Dorsett Shepherds Bush is a Grade II listed building with 317 luxurious rooms, featuring Chinese-inspired interiors. There are plenty of fine dining options available, and one of the best ways to spend an afternoon at Dorsett Shepherds Bush is with the scrumptious Dorsett Classic Afternoon tea, available daily. Served under the striking golden atrium of Jin bar, Dorsett hosts an offering of superb appetising savoury and sweet delights and selection of leaf teas. The Sparkling Afternoon tea includes a delicious glass of Prosecco, and when celebrations are in order, the Celebration Afternoon Tea is the perfect choice, which includes a glass of Jacquart champagne and a special celebration cake delivered to the table, ideal for any occasion.

Dorsett Classic Afternoon tea £24 per person, Sparkling Afternoon Tea £30.50 per person and Celebration Afternoon Tea £40.50 per person. Visit www.dorsetthotel.com for further information and booking

The Chester Grosvenor, Cheshire

4Situated in Chester on one of Britain’s prettiest streets, The Chester Grosvenor is steeped in historical charm. A striking Grade II listed building with traditional black and white timbered exterior, there are 68 contemporary bedrooms and luxurious suites to choose from, alongside a wonderfully peaceful spa centre and the award-winning restaurants; the Michelin-starred ‘Simon Radley at The Chester Grosvenor’, the luxurious yet relaxed La Brasserie restaurant, and Arkle Bar and Lounge. For sophisticated Gentlemen, The Arkle Bar and Lounge hosts afternoon tea with a distinctive masculine slant, with hearty fare and strong tea replacing traditional delicate French pastries and tiny sandwiches, prepared by The Chester Grosvenor’s award-winning chefs.

Gentleman’s Afternoon Tea £32 per person, Gentleman’s Indulgent Afternoon tea £45 per person. Visit www.chestergrosvenor.com for further information and booking

The Gainsborough Bath Spa

5A quintessentially English, 99-room hotel set in the heart of Bath, The Gainsborough Bath Spa is the ideal spot to enjoy afternoon tea. Taking place in the elegantly styled Canvas Room, guests can unwind in sophisticated yet cosy surroundings and sample a traditional menu of scrumptious homemade sandwiches, freshly baked plain or raisin scones with a selection of tasty preserves and clotted cream and an assortment of delicious cakes and pastries. Guests can even celebrate the occasion with a choice of Champagnes, including the exclusive Sommelier selected Billecart-Salmon, which is guaranteed to add a sparkle to the afternoon.

Classic Afternoon Teas from £30 per person, Champagne Afternoon teas at £46 per person. Visit http://www.thegainsboroughbathspa.co.uk/ for further information and booking

Conrad Dublin, Ireland

CaptureThe team at Conrad Dublin are delighted to introduce their new Musically Inspired Afternoon Tea which will be hosted seven days a week within the contemporary surrounds of Lemuel’s Lounge. The Afternoon Tea includes a delicious array of freshly baked cakes, pastries and scones as well as gourmet sandwiches designed by new Pastry Chef Brizaida Hernandez, served with freshly brewed tea or coffee. This quintessential British pastime has been given a twist as the hotel pays homage to it neighbours, The National Concert Hall offering an experience to satisfy all tastes. The menu includes a new musically inspired selection of culinary delights including Burren smoked salmon, avocado purée, caper berry sandwiches on Guinness bread, exotic creamy coconut, lime and mango macaroons and a ‘Chocolate symphony’ ganache amongst many others.

Musically Inspired Afternoon Tea will run until the 30th September 2017 and costs €60 for two (approx. £55). Customers are invited to book their table before August 31st and quote #MUSIC.

Ballygally Castle, Northern Ireland

PEYE 260315KB2 0047With much of the filming of the Game of Thrones series taking place in Belfast and across various locations in Northern Ireland, their fabulous Ballygally Castle is ideally located to explore the Game of Thrones® filming locations and channel your favourite characters. In addition, Ballygally offers a very popular Game of Thrones inspired Afternoon Tea, sure to delight fans as well as those who love the indulgence of a delicious afternoon tea! The delectable treats, inspired by the fantasy lands of Winterfell, Iron Islands, Kings Landing or Stormlands, include Lannister egg Rolls, Baratheon Bread, Little Finger Chicken Caesar wraps, Jon Snow Cakes and Dothraki Trifle with mini Dragon’s eggs!

Game of Thrones Afternoon Tea from £22 per person. Visit http://www.hastingshotels.com/ballygally-castle/ for further information and booking

Dukes London

8DUKES LONDON’s recently opened Great British Restaurant, GBR, is the perfect place to celebrate Afternoon Tea Week. The quintessentially British hotel launched GBR in May, and offers guests the finest traditional and contemporary British dishes in a striking and vibrant space in the heart of Mayfair. Those celebrating Afternoon Tea Week can enjoy a delicious array of savoury sandwiches, from baked gammon and tomato chutney to traditional coronation chicken and cucumber with cream cheese. Savouries are followed by a selection of sweet treats and indulgent homemade traditional and golden sultana scones, all to be enjoyed with a variety of teas, from a classic Breakfast Blend to Jasmine Pearls or Nile Chamomile. Guests wishing to spoil themselves further can opt for the ‘GBR’ Afternoon Tea which comes with a glass of Perrier-Jouët Champagne.

‘Classic’ Afternoon Tea from £32.50 per person and the ‘GBR’ Afternoon Tea from £42.50 per person. Visit https://www.dukeshotel.com/ for further information and booking

Dukes Dubai, United Arab Emirates

9DUKES DUBAI offers guests the opportunity to treat themselves to a scrumptious high tea in the new hotel’s oh-so-British Tea Lounge on Dubai’s Palm Jumeriah. Guests can enjoy a heavenly selection of sandwiches accompanied by handmade pastries and scones with clotted cream and jam, as well as delicately flavoured tea, handpicked and blended from the choicest of tea estates from around the world. Enjoy your afternoon tea whilst overlooking the Arabian Gulf and relax in DUKES DUBAI’s stylish Tea Lounge, scented with fresh English roses for a home-from-home experience like no other!

Afternoon Tea from  170 AED/  £35 per person and with a glass of Tattinger Champagne from 320 AED/ (approx. £67). Visit https://www.dukesdubai.com/ for further information and booking

Executive Head Chef, Martin Cahill, tells us what’s in store at the newly opened DUKES DUBAI

Martin Cahill

Five-star hotel DUKES DUBAI has now opened its doors and is inviting guests to enjoy a quintessentially British experience on Dubai’s west trunk of The Palm Jumeirah. Part of the DUKES COLLECTION, DUKES DUBAI prides itself on its unrivalled attention to detail and exceptional customer service. Executive Head Chef, Martin Cahill, tells us what we can expect from the hotel’s first-class F&B offerings, including its signature Great British Restaurant (GBR).

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Tell us a bit about food and beverage in Dubai

In Dubai, there are so many options for food and beverage. There are only a few cities in the world where trends are set; London, Paris, New York, Asia, Tokyo and Dubai runs along with them. Food trucks are now popular over there, so the options for food and beverage are huge.

How do you pick your team?

For some nationalities, Dubai is the promised land. I interview everyone because I want to get the character right. I look for positive people. When we look for staff, we obviously look at their the skill set and previous experience, but also character is key. Graeme Dodrill is my Head Chef, Mohammed Issa Ibrahim Ali is the Executive Sous Chef and then Paris Halpawattage Asoka is my Executive Pastry Chef. Pre-opening is a real bonding time and you get to know everyone and their characters.

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From left to right: Paris Halpawattage Asoka – Executive Pastry Chef

Martin Cahill – Executive Head Chef, DUKES DUBAI

Graeme Dodrill – Head Chef, GBR

Mohammed Issa Ibrahim Ali – Executive Sous Chef

Where did you grow up and what inspired you to become a chef?

I grew up in Bolton and have three sisters so there was always lots of cooking and baking in the house. My parents’ family have all got farms in Ireland so there wasn’t necessarily a conscientious decision to become a chef, but every year going over to Ireland, milking the cows and collecting eggs from the chickens was certainly influential. When I was in my final year at school, I was the only one who wanted to go into food, but back then it wasn’t really a masculine thing to do. Being a chef was cool, but it wasn’t THE thing to do!

Have you been inspired by British cuisine when creating the menus for DUKES DUBAI?

In terms of the menus, part of the concept means that it has to have that British element but if we’ve got some great local ingredients, then of course we will use them. The main spine of the menu is dishes that I enjoy cooking; things like Lancashire hot pot, pies. We have a great rotisserie oven in the restaurant so we can do whole chickens on there or ribs of beef. The most important thing is that we cook for the guests. What I love to see is repeat guests in the restaurants, that’s the biggest accolade for me.

What new dish have you brought to DUKES DUBAI that you’re most proud of and why?

I’m really excited about the brand new high-tech equipment we have installed in our kitchen, and the fantastic chefs we are working with. The rotisserie oven is great for succulent legs of lamb, whole chickens and ribs of beef. Also, I don’t think there is anything wrong with opening six oysters with a nice glass of white wine. Sometimes we get too caught up with trends but if you’re confident in the product then it should work.


Can you tell us a bit about the other British brands that you’re working with?

We are proud to be working with British supplier, Paxton and Whitfield for their lovely cheeses, chutneys and breads. In terms of afternoon tea, Rodda’s supply us with their fantastic clotted cream. There is an abundance of rich ingredients in the UK; Menai oysters in Wales, Salmon from Scotland, black pudding from the North.

Can you tell us a bit about the afternoon tea at DUKES DUBAI?

People have tried to re-invent afternoon tea but actually, there is nothing wrong with a good old finger sandwich, so what we offer is an atfternoon tea that is fresh and cleanly presented, with a touch of home comfort. We have put a big focus on the things that you don’t realise are important in afternoon tea; things like warm scones, fresh clotted cream and homemade preserves. There are also some twists on local classics; like a date chutney or scone.

What can we find on GBR lunch menu?

We have staples like the GBR burger and steak sandwich as well as more tapas-like options such as cheese, charcuterie and seafood platters. We have also bought a panini pressing machine for warm paninis. At the weekend we’re offering really big roast lunches, where the waiter comes to your table to carve chicken, beef or lamb and then serves some lovely roast potatoes and vegetables with it. You’ll feel right at home here, only we’ve swapped dull, grey British skies for Dubai sunshine!

What sets GBR apart?

We are very much consistent in our standards. We want to make people happy because of quality and if DUKES DUBAI reminds people of home, then that’s great. GBR is a very timeless restaurant.


What’s the Martin touch?

Simple food cooked well with very good flavours that aren’t overpowering or complicated.

What do you most enjoy about living in Dubai?

I love my work and I’m passionate about DUKES. Dubai is very multi-cultural and there is a strong focus on tourism here so there are lots of things to do which makes it a great place to be with the family.

How do you like to wind down?

I love spending time with my kids and family. I like to take my daughter to the shops and we pick our ingredients and plan what we are going to cook. I think it’s really important that we don’t give kids bland food and that we educate their palate.


DUKES DUBAI, which soft-opened for training in December 2016, consists of 279 guestrooms including 64 suites, with a ladies-only Liberty Duchess floor featuring 20 rooms furnished exclusively by Liberty Fabrics, as well as 227 fully furnished hotel apartments and six distinctive dining experiences.

The remainder of the property’s food and beverage outlets will launch within the next six to eight weeks. This will include traditional Northern Indian restaurant Khyber, marking the first international outpost for the Mumbai-based family restaurant group. Visitors can also look forward to the Tea Lounge for afternoon tea and the Cigar Lounge, offering a sophisticated selection of fine cigars and malts.

For more information, please visit www.dukesdubai.com or www.seventides.com

DUKES DUBAI is located within the Oceana complex on Palm Jumeirah, for exact location please click here




Easter escapes with Park Hyatt & Andaz, our top picks!

For those looking to escape this Easter, here is a roundup of some our favourite places we have travelled to with Park Hyatt and Andaz hotels that we are still dreaming about…

For incredible sunsets and a taste of the exotic, head to Park Hyatt Zanzibar – situated in the bustling cultural capital, Stone Town, right on the beach and boasting incredible sunsets, this hotel will make you feel a world away from your usual routine.


Sun worshippers will love Park Hyatt Goa Hotels & Resorts . A few days relaxing around the hotel’s incredible pool (India’s largest with water slides too!) or on the private beach and you will never want to go(a) home…


For ultimate zen, spa junkies will love the Serenitas Spa at Park Hyatt Mallorca. This place is a peaceful oasis, surrounded by landscaped gardens and gorgeous views of the Serra de Llevant Mountains, home to the island’s only alpha quartz sand bed (a definite USP!)


Culture vultures & history buffs need look no further than the Park Hyatt Vienna, housed in the former Austrian Hungarian Monarchy Bank HQ and within strolling distance of the city’s top attractions including, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, the Michaelerkuppel, Vienna City Hall and St. Peter’s Church.

After a busy day soaking up the city sights head to the hotel’s Bank Brasserie & Bar for a delicious cocktail…


For city slickers on the hunt for ultimate luxury it doesn’t get much better than the Park Hyatt New York. Retreat to the Spa Nalai, high above the hustle and bustle of city that never sleeps for an indulgent treatment that will leave you feeling refreshed and reinvigorated…


Bleisure travellers in the Big Apple should head to the Andaz Wall Street, in the midst of New York’s buzzing financial district. With the Staten Island ferry (which takes in the Statue of Liberty), the New York Stock Exchange and 9-11 Memorial Museum all a stone’s throw away, it’s a great spot to squeeze in some pre or post-work sightseeing!


Happy Easter!

Where the Grifco girls would spend Mother’s Day…

With Mother’s Day fast approaching, and so many stunning destinations to pick from, some of our Grifco girls choose their ideal place to treat their mums this Sunday!

Lara Good, Senior Account Executive – Tiara Miramar Beah Hotel & Spa
Blog Mum

My mum is a glamour puss from head to toe, so naturally I would take her to the uber glamorous French Riviera to stay at the stunning five-star Tiara Miramar Beach Hotel & Spa for a late Mother’s Day celebration, as it reopens on 16th April for the Summer season. We’d sip on refreshing glasses of dry rose and tuck into a beautifully fresh seafood supper on the terrace, overlooking the sparkling ocean, before snuggling up in our huge pillowy beds. The next day, we’d take our places on a private bed right on the hotel’s private beach and enjoy an indulgent spa treatment to the sound of waves lapping on the shore…


Emma Howard-Smith, Account Director – Rome Cavalieri

Emma Mum

I’m lucky enough to be spending Mother’s Day at Waldorf Astoria’s Rome Cavalieri so my mum and I are in for a real treat! We will wake up to a spread of Italian pastries and freshly brewed coffee, spending the day shopping and soaking in the sights of Rome, indulging in some delicious gelato and enjoying an evening spent on one of Rome Cavalieri’s many balconies and terraces, drinking in the views of the Eternal City and perhaps an Aperol Spritz or two!


Kat Panayotopoulos, Account Manager – La Maison d’Ulysee

Kat Mum

For Mother’s Day, I would take my mum to the beautiful La Maison d’Ulysse in the South of France. It’s the perfect spot for some mother-daughter time – small and intimate, it only has nine rooms including six suites, and each are individually decorated. We’d spend the day exploring the local area using Gauthier’s Guides – not to mention some retail therapy in nearby Uzès! – and then return to the hotel for a treatment in the vaulted spa and Turkish baths followed by a glass of rosé by the outdoor pool to watch the sunset.


Nadia Walford, Senior Account Director – DUKES LONDON

Nadia Mum

This Mother’s Day, I will be saying “Cheers” to my Mother with glass of Prosecco and a Traditional Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea at our favourite DUKES LONDON in Mayfair.  The beauty of this package is that it comes with a gift wrapped DUKES By Floris London Hyacinth & Bluebell candle, so if you’re a bit time-pushed like me, you can let DUKES do the present-shopping for you! If you’re inspired to do the same, the sale is on until 26th March 2017, with a six month booking window period so you can treat your Mummy any time this year.


Charlotte Rous, Associate Director – Abu Camp

Char Mum

Whether you are a seasoned safari buff or have never been anywhere as remote as the African bush, the ultimate elephant interaction experience is at Wilderness Premier’s Abu Camp in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, a private concession in one of Africa’s prime wildlife-viewing areas. Where else better to spoil the most important woman in your life?! Spending Mother’s Day with my animal loving mum at Abu Camp would be the ultimate place to get away from it all together. This Mother’s Day treat will be hard to top!


Tamsin Stafford, Junior Account Executive – Amare Marbella Beach Hotel 

Tamsin Mum

If I could take my mum anywhere for Mother’s day, it would have to be Amàre Marbella Beach Hotel. The stunning adults-only beachfront hotel in southern Spain is the perfect place to relax and enjoy a weekend away together. We’d spend the day soaking up the Spanish sun on the beach, enjoy a leisurely cycle over to Puerto Banús, before devouring fresh, local food at the Beach restaurant. What better way to celebrate mum’s special day than at Amàre’s Sunday BBQ! We’d dance to live music whilst sipping cool fruity cocktails and savoring the fresh BBQ’d delights by the pool.


Packing for a safari holiday with Wilderness Safaris

Freelance journalist and fashionista Amanda Bernstein gives us her expert tips on what to pack (and wear!) for a safari trip of a lifetime with Wilderness Safaris

A safari holiday is one of the most magical vacations one can take, especially when being hosted by the incredible Wilderness Safaris, who operate camps all across Africa – I was lucky enough to be staying with them in the Namibian Desert. It’s often a trip of a lifetime, so you need to ensure you pack the correct clothes and toiletries to be fully prepared for your amazing adventure. Be sure also to check visa requirements of the country you’re visiting as soon as you book as some embassies can take a while to complete.

You don’t need to pack much – ‘less is really more’ in the safari world. Most of the luxury safaris offer an express laundry service where clothes are washed and returned to your room within 24 hours. You will need to be aware of the very strict luggage weight and size restriction in place so check before you travel the specific requirements – chances are you will need to take a soft bag of a certain size (especially for a flying safari).


Enjoying a game drive in the desert with Wilderness Safaris


The best type of clothes to take are those made from natural fabrics which will keep you as cool as possible: cotton and linen are your best bet. Try to organise your outfits so they all mix with each other in basic neutral tones of beige, cream, grey, brown and khaki green (but not camouflage). This isn’t a fashion show – it is a safari where you will look out of place in anything other than practical clothing.

You should keep your body covered up as much as possible, both to avoid sunburn and to avoid being bitten. Long sleeve T-shirts teamed with a fleece are best with a long pair of safari (combat style) trousers.  You can peel off the layers as the sun comes up, but early mornings on safaris are often very cold, even in the summer months. If it’s winter, consider packing a warm hat and gloves.

A sun hat is a must – the larger the brim the better in order to protect your neck and face. Take a cotton scarf too so you can tuck it around your neck if the sun gets too hot. It is also a good idea to take two pairs of sunglasses in case one breaks or gets lost.


A rare image of Sossusvlei after rain; Kulala Desert Lodge is the closest camp to the national park gate.

In terms of quantity of clothing, for a 3-day safari considering taking the following:

  • 3 long sleeve T shirts
  • 3 short sleeve T shirts
  • 2 vest tops
  • 2 long pairs of trousers
  • 1 pair of shorts
  • 2 fleeces
  • Lightweight jacket
  • Underwear
  • Walking socks
  • Light-weight socks
  • Two pairs of closed shoes – one should be a sturdy waterproof pair of hiking shoes, the other a lighter weight pair such as trainers
  • Swimming costume/trunks
  • Flip flops or open toe sandals for daytime after a swim – but ensure when wearing that insect repellent is liberally sprayed onto feet and ankles


Spotting elephants in Namibia with Wilderness Safaris


It is imperative to ensure you pack any medication (including any anti-malarials) in your hand luggage, just in case it gets delayed or lost in transit somewhere. You will need to think carefully about all your essential toiletries you use on a daily basis, as it may be difficult to buy anything when you are on the safari – and you may need to purchase the travel-sized varieties to save on space.

Take all your usual toiletries with you but forget the mousse and hairspray – there is really no point in even considering bringing these. And also leave your straighteners at home, because the humidity will see to your hair frizzing at every opportunity, so best just to tie it back with a hair elastic!


Serra Cafema Camp – match your clothes to the natural shades and tones of the bush

Toiletries should include:

  • A high SPF sun cream (minimum SPF 50) – bear in mind it needs to be reapplied often
  • A good quality insect repellent – take a larger size for use after a shower and another for your bag to top up during the daytime
  • Hand sanitizer – comes in handy when eating while in the bush
  • Lip salve, Vaseline or nude coloured gloss – to ensure lips stay moisturised
  • The camps provide their own gorgeous environmentally-friendly shampoos and conditioners, so you don’t need to worry about packing these. Plus, their in-house products are totally bio-degradable so much kinder to the surroundings!


Pack stylish, stay stylish at Wilderness Safaris’ Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp!

Other Essentials

Some other things not to forget to pack include:

  • Camera
  • Telescopic lens
  • Chargers for all your equipment
  • Binoculars
  • Extra memory card
  • Small holdall or rucksack for day trips

A note on the binoculars, I’ve heard that you get better results from using the best rangefinder for hunting that is a single lenses for nature watching. I don’t know about you but the dual lenses always makes my vision difficult. It is important that you leave valuables and jewellery, including designer watches, at home. A safari should be a real vacation in every sense, without having to worry about what you are wearing. Forget fashion – think fun!


COMING SOON: Bisate Lodge in Rwanda. Match your fashion to their colour scheme with this bespoke mood-board created by Artichoke Design…

Amanda stayed at Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Little Kulala, and Serra Cafema – three of leading safari tour operator Wilderness Safaris’ luxurious camps in Namibia.

By Amanda Bernstein


If you go down to Green Park today…A DUKES LONDON Gourmet Picnic

If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good picnic! So what better way to spend a hot, Indian summer’s evening in London than with a super luxurious gourmet picnic in Green Park, courtesy of our favourite DUKES LONDON, complete with our very own private butler.

Meet Fidel, our friendly DUKES butler for the evening, who came to meet us after work with a gorgeous hamper of goodies. He put together the most impressive spread you’ve seen in a matter of minutes. Here he is in action…


…eh voila. A Feast fit for Kings!


As the sun went down, thanks to DUKES’ super talented Executive Head Chef, Nigel Mendham, we ate to our heart’s content, with one of London’s finest green parks as our backdrop. From perfectly poached salmon with lemon mayonnaise and avocado, to Piri Piri chicken with chorizo and peppers, to Scotch eggs with honey mustard, it’s fair to say Nigel knows a thing or two about staple picnic food! For some of our 5 a day, we ate cous cous with coriander, tomato and courgette, with a delicious heritage tomato, cucumber, feta and mint salad. A picnic wouldn’t be a picnic without some British artisan cheese, bread, crackers and traditional chutney. As if that wasn’t enough, we indulged in a heavenly chocolate mousse with raspberry and rice pudding crème brûlée to satisfy our sweet tooth. If you want to see what happiness on a plate looks like…well here it is!


If you’re looking for a fun way to see out the last few days of summer, a DUKES gourmet picnic is definitely worth booking. Hurry though, as they’ll be finishing at the end of September.

DUKES’ Traditional British Picnic is priced from £35 per person for a minimum of 2 people with butler service included; a bottle of chilled Champagne starts from £80; DUKES’s Children’s picnic is priced at £12. All picnics include one bottle of water and one soft drink.

For more information on DUKES, St James, contact 0207 491 4840 or visit www.dukeshotel.com.

A Weekend Escape to Edinburgh with Waldorf Astoria, The Caledonian


Affectionately known by locals as ‘The Caley’, Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh – The Caledonian was just the restorative break we needed following a hectic couple of weeks. Escaping the bustling London rush, after a short flight from Heathrow, in less than hours we wandered into the lofty, calm reception of The Caledonian. Greeted by the rousing sounds of the bagpipes and a team of smiling reception staff, the iconic Scottish hotel made an impact on arrival.

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The grand hotel staircase

Following a restful night’s sleep in our plush Deluxe Room, we sauntered down to breakfast. After a sizable breakfast spread at the Brasserie, we set out to explore the sights of Edinburgh.

A historic city filled with character, every cobbled street was lined with street performers, artists, musicians and small craft markets. Thriving with a hub of activity but still managing to maintain a relaxed atmosphere, we soaked up the carefree city as we strolled past the highlights including the castle, St Giles’ Cathedral and The Royal Mile.  Refuelling at ‘The Chocolate Bar’ of Harvey Nichols, a revolving conveyor belt of chocolate delights – well worth checking out for anyone with a sweet tooth – we had lunch at Copper Bloom. A delightful underground restaurant and bar tucked away within a grand Georgian building, the botanical flowers and vintage design offered a great modern twist on the classic city.

Returning to rest our weary feet, we indulged in the beautiful Guerlain Spa of The Caledonian, enjoying a swim, steam and sauna. Selecting the ‘Radiance Facial’, after an hour of being preened and pampered with soothing Guerlain face masks, I re-joined the world feeling fresh-faced and relaxed, leaving the London weariness firmly behind.




Ending the night with a delicious meal at Galvin Brasserie – The Caledonian’s Parisian style restaurant offering an extensive seafood and steak dishes – we ended the night feeling suitably stuffed and content. Returning to our room in a food-fuelled haze, we resolved to return to Edinburgh and The Caledonian at the next possible opportunity…

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Peacock Alley at The Caledonian















A Weekend At Andaz Amsterdam, Prinsengracht

Known for its laid-back vibe and uber-cool chilled out residents, Amsterdam isn’t the place for stuffy, formal hotels – they need to be just as relaxed and accommodating as the locals are. Andaz Amsterdam manages to achieve this whilst maintaining its five-star status, and is a veritable tardis in the narrow city streets – unimposing and camouflaged on the outside, spacious and aesthetically exciting on the inside.

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Unsuspecting on the outside, mighty on the inside…

FullSizeRenderThe warm and welcoming lobby

On arrival, the concierge whisked me to a quiet table, where a strong but silky coffee appeared out of nowhere, and proceeded to point out all of her favourite spots in the city on a handy map – including a brewery in a windmill that her and her friends frequent. This was personal service at its best!

Armed with my Amsterdam bucket list, I wandered through the gardens, small but perfectly formed, towards my room. Marcel Wanders really has worked miracles on this previous library building right in the centre of the city, giving it an Alice in Wonderland theme and focusing on pops of colour and clashing patterns. The imposing garden statues, huge spoon on the wall of the aptly named ‘Bluespoon’ restaurant, and giant red chairs all succeeded in making me feel like Alice having drunk a shrinking potion.


A fish on the wall? Obviously!

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What every toilet needs: Some beautifully intricate artwork

A contrast from the rich colours of the corridors and lift, my suite was bright and airy, with a view of the observatory – an innovative solution to non-outward-looking rooms, revealing a stunning labyrinth of glass ceilings, and bird cages. I explored my surprisingly large room (the tardis strikes again!), whilst enjoying a complimentary apple crumble that was very much appreciated after a long train journey.

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An alternative room with a view

It was hard to pinpoint my highlight of the room, from the huge yellow chair injecting some sunshine, the walk in rainforest shower/wet room, or the bed on which I could easily lie horizontally, I could well have spent the whole weekend happily in the confines of these four walls, and not venture out into the city at all. But if you do need some inspiration for excursions, just take a look at the intricate maps and illustrations of Amsterdam on the toilet walls, perfect for planning your sightseeing to-do list!

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Enjoying daily wine hour with a view of the lobby

After a glorious night’s sleep, probably helped along the way by the complimentary Wine Hour that takes place each evening in the lobby, it  would have been impossible to rouse myself if it wasn’t for my paper at the door and in-room coffee machine. Fully revived, I padded down to Bluespoon for the Andaz breakfast, where I of course opted for the cold breakfast buffet and a cooked element. I couldn’t leave without wolfing down a full plate of fluffy pancakes, plus a creamy bowl of bircher muesli. Feeling sufficiently stuffed, I grabbed one of the hotel’s strategically placed umbrellas and headed out into a rainy Amsterdam, already on the doorstep of the beautiful canals and famous cafes thanks to Andaz’s unbeatable location.

From the big things like five-star service and impeccable rooms, to unexpected personal touches such as a complimentary mini bar and a weekly run with the GM, from now on Andaz really will be my only choice when visiting the city.

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Pancakes for one!

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Amsterdam by night, complete with bicycles of course

Doubles at Andaz Amsterdam start from £210* per night, excluding breakfast and VAT. (00 31 20 523 1234; www.amsterdam.prinsengracht.andaz.hyatt.com)

*Prices in Pound Sterling are according to today’s exchange rate