The Most Delicious Place In The Maldives

When I told a travel editor I was going to visit the Maldives for four days and that the resort I was staying at had 12 – yes 12 – restaurants and bars, she wondered if I could visit them all. The challenge was set. Could I visit all of the eateries at Conrad Maldives Rangali Island, the resort with the most bars and restaurants in the Maldives, in four days?

I arrived at Malé airport tired and hungry, keen to get to my final destination to begin my challenge. The Conrad team there appeared like a mirage – I was whisked up to their private lounge to wait for my seaplane transfer, and a masseuse offered me a soothing back, shoulder, neck and head massage to counter the long flight. There was breakfast and wifi too. Happy days!  photo 1

It wasn’t long before I was transported from one cocoon to another, with a short seaplane hop. As we approached the resort we could see the two islands and the long bridge that connects them, stretching across the most perfect calm blue waters I have ever seen.

Cold towels and a chilled drink await as you step off the plane and onto the resort’s welcome pontoon. From there I was whisked to my room, a beach villa with tropical outdoor bathroom – including a giant rain shower and a square bathtub beneath a canopy surrounded by candles and leafy foliage.  There are a number of different rooms at the resort, including the iconic villas on stilts above the water, but I loved being right on the beach and having a little sandy pathway from my  door to my sun lounger by the sea.

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I had three mornings so plenty of time to try breakfast at both Atoll Market, the buffet style restaurant, and Vilu, located across the bridge with really amazing views out over the beach and sea. Atoll had a fantastical, mind boggling choice of dishes and a troop of chefs on hand to make any breakfast dream come true including a green juice bar and plump dim sum. Vilu was my favourite though – it was more boutique in feel with a small buffet and a la carte menu. They made a great Maldivian reef fish omelette with chilli and herbs,  delicious with fresh watermelon juice.


Conrad Maldives_ Atoll Restaurant (4)

The Rangali Bar on the beach was a lovely spot for lunch as well as refreshing cocktails before dinner – the menu there was classic dishes and deli dining, lots of great wraps and salads. I loved Mandhoo Restaurant, opposite the spa. It follows the spa’s five elements philosophy, and you choose depending on the elements you feel inspired by. Or just what sounds good on the menu! Really great fresh seafood and fish that practically jumps off the plate – in an amazing setting. If you are lucky you can spot manta rays swimming past you.



Dinner was where choices started to get really difficult! So many places to choose and so little time. A highlight for me was an amazing Japanese tasting menu at Koko, an intimate little restaurant that sits a very small group, sunken into the sand. The Maldivian chef whipped up melt in the mouth sashimi and perfectly cooked Kobe beef right before our eyes and spoke perfect Japanese to one of our fellow diners.

Conrad Maldives_Koko Grill

I also made it to Sunset Bar and Grill to tuck into local lobster and wine from Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s French estate, Miraval – a beautiful rosé that the Sommelier managed to lay his hands on because he worked there previously.

Conrad Maldives_Sunset Grill Restaurant (7)

Another evening we paired fine wines with tapas and delectable cheeses at the Cheese & Wine Bar – an amazing room underground where guests can enjoy a menu of 101 of the world’s best cheeses and wines to match. The floor in this hidden away room is silky, cool sand that you can dip your toes into.

Conrad Maldives_Cheese and Wine Bar (3)

I failed my challenge though – I needed a few more days and a few more dinners. Ufaa, a brand new gourmet Chinese restaurant – was soon to open (it is now), and I had a look around Ithaa, the amazing famous underwater restaurant but will save dinner there for another trip.


The wine cellar was somewhere all the guests were talking about – I popped down to check it out and it’s quite a sight – thousands of bottles of the best wine kept at perfect temperature and displayed beautifully underground. Guests are given fluffy slippers and blankets to keep cosy while they enjoy a personalised wine tasting experience with the Sommelier, paired with a delicious degustation dinner.Conrad Maldives_The Wine Cellar (7)

I also found time amidst the wining and dining to try outdoor yoga, snorkelling around the house reef, and a visit to the fantastic Spa to visit Christelle, the resort Naturopath for energy-boosting ear acupuncture and reiki. I actually didn’t feel jet lagged at all, during or after my stay and I’m sure the treatments helped. I did however feel rather full – I’ll be working this trip off for a while!







Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam – First Look

Last week we were treated to a sneak peek of the much anticipated Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam ahead of its opening next month. Having visited many months ago when the project was a building site I was excited to see the transformation within. And what a transformation it has been – the six canal-side town houses Waldorf Astoria have taken over have been impressively and sensitively morphed into a gorgeous boutique hotel. Aside from furniture encased in protective plastic covers much of the hotel looks ready for business. Already the staff welcoming us for our preview had things running like clockwork.

Waldorf Astoria have come up trumps with their choice of property – alongside Herengracht, one of the prettiest canals in town, the former town houses are steeped in history and offer gorgeous views from the huge windows – giving you the feeling that you really are in the heart of the city.

Front_image_Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam_Opening Spring 2014

Think beautiful stuccoed ceilings, light filled rooms, and lots of original details that have been uncovered in the renovation process.


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One of the Suites, the Backer Suite, has a stunning painted ceiling, evocative of Rembrandt and dating back to the seventeenth century. We saw the final stages of its painstaking restoration – it’s going to be a very special ceiling to sleep under.

There’s a tranquil garden behind the hotel, onto which the private club-like restaurant looks.


A surprise is the sleek, modern spa, found in the depths of the hotel. With sauna, steam, sensory showers and a beautiful pool, it’s going to be an impressive cutting edge oasis amidst the historical property.

Large and light filled guest rooms are each individual due to the shape and characteristics of the buildings – even the entry level rooms are extremely spacious and super elegant.

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Love this suite which feels like your own private apartment on the canal.


Waldorf Astoria Amsterdam opens in May 2014, joining Waldorf Astoria’s prestigious collection of hotels around the world.

We can’t wait to stay the night next time!

Visit for more information.

Ras Al Khaimah: Desert Meets Development

A mere 45 minute drive, or dock to dock sea plane, from Dubai you’ll find Ras Al Khaimah, until now a lesser known Emirate making big leaps in the luxury hospitality world. The palatial new Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is one of the latest properties to open its doors to a burgeoning 5 star crowd here. We checked it out and found it a great accompaniment to Dubai with its proximity to endless sand dunes, stellar service and acres of luxuriant space.

A few of our favourite things:

Beach and pool chilling: The Waldorf Astoria is set on a wide strip of private sandy beach, equipped with super comfy sun beds looking out to sea. By the main pool, they bring round complimentary mango ice lollies and iced water regularly – ideal for us sun-worshippers! The sleek infinity edged lap pool on the other side of the grounds is great for those wanting to get some “proper” swimming done if pool side posing is not your thing.

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Mint tea in Peacock Alley: Peacock Alley is a Waldorf Astoria hallmark – the original being the area at Waldorf Astoria New York where ladies used to strut like peacocks in their evening finery on their way to dinner in the early 1900s. The Ras Al Khaimah modern-day version is a glamorous Arabian take on the space – sweeping staircases, a beautiful fountain and high ceilings. It’s a great spot to people watch whilst enjoying a refreshing mint tea, served on a silver platter in a fabulous tea pot, natch!

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Meze: So fresh and delicious, the meze at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah is addictive. The food at the hotel and all its restaurants is amazing without exception, but simple meze enjoyed by the pool was my favourite. Yum.



Having a personal concierge: Every guest at Waldorf Astoria Ras Al Khaimah has their own expert personal concierge who is on hand to make sure your stay is seamless. These ladies and gentlemen greet you as soon as you arrive, show you around your (humongous) room, and then act as your first point of call for any request, so it’s super personalised service for every guest.

Sailing: If the heat gets too much, take to the water! A catamaran trip and a dip in the warm Arabian Sea is a fun way to spend the afternoon – you can catch a beauty of a sunset too.


The Desert: It’s on your doorstep, literally, so it’s a real must to experience. Just a short drive away are dramatic sand dunes – the proximity to space and quietness is surprising especially after a few days in Dubai. Waldorf Astoria can arrange an unforgettable picnic with a difference out on the dunes – a really spectacular experience, complete with Persian rugs, a chef and tea and macaroons on the sand.



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Check out for more information.

Breakfast at The Ritz celebrating The Gainsborough Bath Spa joining The Leading Hotels of the World

Q: What’s better than Breakfast at Tiffany’s?  A: Breakfast at The Ritz! Grifco was very excited yesterday morning to organise a Buck’s Fizz breakfast in the Marie Antoinette Room at The Ritz to celebrate The Gainsborough Bath Spa joining The Leading Hotels of the World.

After a Grifco welcome from Claire Griffin, Dato’ Mark Yeoh, the Executive Director of YTL Hotels, gave a speech introducing the property as the newest edition to the YTL Hotels portfolio and the company’s first Classic Hotel in the UK, due to open in Spring 2014.

Welcome from Claire Griffin, Grifco

Welcome from Claire Griffin, Grifco

Amongst the beautiful Versailles style décor, the signing ceremony took place between Collin Skellett, Executive Chairman of Wessex Water & Chairman of The Gainsborough Hotel Company and Deniz Omurgonulsen, the Vice President of Membership at the Leading Hotels of the World.

Presentation of The Leading Hotels of the World Plaque – Deniz Omurgonulsen, LHW; Dato' Mark Yeoh, YTL Hotels; Collin Skellet, Wessex Water

Presentation of The Leading Hotels of the World Plaque – Deniz Omurgonulsen, LHW; Dato’ Mark Yeoh, YTL Hotels; Collin Skellet, Wessex Water

Whilst tucking into croissants and raspberry muffins, the press later enjoyed a detailed presentation from Anthony Champalimaud, the Vice President of YTL Hotels, where they learnt of the hotels’ connection to Bath itself as the Spa was revealed as the only hotel in the UK with direct access to natural thermal waters.

The Gainsborough Bath Spa Presentation – Anthony Champalimaud, YTL Hotels

The Gainsborough Bath Spa Presentation – Anthony Champalimaud, YTL Hotels

The press in the Marie Antoinette Room at The Ritz

The press in the Marie Antoinette Room at The Ritz

As breakfast came to an end we went away extremely happy and thrilled to be working with such an incredible spa hotel and, as Marie Antoinette would have wanted, returned to the office very full of cake!

Lai Ping, YTL Hotels; Anthony Champalimaud, YTL Hotels; Melissa Mettler, YTL Hotels; Andrew Jordan, YTL Hotels; Deniz Omurgonulsen, LHW; Collin Skellet, Wessex Water; Dato’ Mark Yeoh, YTL Hotels; Marilyn Smith, Wessex Water; Ross Sanders, YTL Hotels; Cedric Cheah, YTL Hotels; Annie Chen, LHW; Lydia Hammond, LHW; Rupert Radford-Hardy, LHW

Lai Ping, YTL Hotels; Anthony Champalimaud, YTL Hotels; Melissa Mettler, YTL Hotels; Andrew Jordan, YTL Hotels; Deniz Omurgonulsen, LHW; Collin Skellet, Wessex Water; Dato’ Mark Yeoh, YTL Hotels; Marilyn Smith, Wessex Water; Ross Sanders, YTL Hotels; Cedric Cheah, YTL Hotels; Annie Chen, LHW; Lydia Hammond, LHW; Rupert Radford-Hardy, LHW

The New Conrad Algarve Opens Its Doors With A Fabulous Party

The trip began at 3:30am on a Thursday morning – that’s rough. Thankfully, sunnier climes and Conrad Algarve’s fabulous opening party were within touching distance which made the antisocial hour bearable.

Touchdown in Faro and that wonderful feeling swept us from the moment we stepped off the plane….you know the one we don’t experience much coming back off the plane in the UK…..feeling the warmth of the sun on your face. The smiling face that met us was the smartest taxi at arrivals and the only one with names on an iPad – the true Conrad service started from here.

On the approach to the hotel, guests are met with this magnificent view.


Entrance to the hotel

I have seen so many pictures of the hotel but nothing prepared me for this. It is glorious.

That afternoon I met the dynamic general manager, Joachim Hartl, who has spread his magic over the Conrad Algarve.

From the moment I stepped into the light flooded atrium, I was swept off my feel. The lovely Doreen, took me to my room explaining the significance of the art work around the hotel. The theme of fire and light has been incorporated throughout, including pieces like this incredible water droplet installation in the atrium. One can’t help but feeling happy here – it’s just so light and airy!


Water Droplets in the Atrium

Walking up to my room, Doreen explained that the panel of each bedroom door had been hand-crafted with the shape of the Algarve flower designed into it.

My room was positively palatial. The bed could fit a family of 5. I had a delightful gourmet snack waiting for me (a surprise that continued throughout my stay – every time I returned to my room there would be delicious treat waiting for me).

I had just about enough time to take advantage of the Sereno Infinity Pool. Lying back on my sun lounger, comfortable enough to be a bed, I was brought over a tray of refreshing delights – a cooling watermelon drink and a bottle of water on ice….I could get used to this.


So refreshing!

The gourmet opportunities at the Conrad Algarve are astounding. I first experienced the Lago Lounge, which is the hotel’s sophisticated all day lounge, perfect if you want to just chill out inside with a coffee or a glass of something stronger.

Joachim Hartl, then gave a tour of the hotel – this place is seriously impressive. Its design is inspired by the 18th century Portuguese palaces. I certainly feel like a princess here.

The absolute piece-de-resistance of the day though was the 7-course dinner with wine pairing for each course at Conrad Algarve’s signature restaurant, Gusto, which is led by culinary pioneer Heinz Beck. Heinz holds 3 Michelin stars for his restaurant ‘La Pergola’ at the Rome Cavilieri (another Grifco client). This man means serious business and I couldn’t wait to be witness to his wonders.

I don’t want to make you all jealous because if I went through the detail of the mouthwatering, amazing tongue popping effect of each course, I definitely will make you jealous but I will leave you with the menu of the evening below and the thought that whilst sitting with some of the world’s most well-dined travel journalists, I swore testament of them saying “this is the best meal I have ever had.” And let me tell you something – Chef Beck’s signature dish, the Faggottelli Carbonara is one which dreams are made of. The waiter and sommeliers were incredibly charming too. The whole evening was just a very enjoyable experience. Meeting Heinz Beck and his sous chef, was a pleasure too.

Gusto Menu

Yes, I ate every last bite.

The second day split the group between golfers and non-golfers. The golfers experienced some of Europe’s best golf courses in the Conrad Algarve Inaugural Golf Tournament.

Personally, I’m not much of a golfer so chose the more gentle option: travelling by Catamaran to the local marshes for a morning of clam picking, one of the most surprisingly satisfying experiences I’ve had. It turns out there is truly an art to seducing a razor clam out of his sandy lair.


Clam pickers showing us how it’s done

The eco-friendly, cork insulated Jamanta catamaran then took us onto Deserta Island which has been preserved to its purest and wildest state.  Walking on its beaches, one feels as if they are the only person on there – it’s quite extraordinary.

Settled in the middle of this island paradise is the Estaminé Restaurant which looks out over the sea like a James Bond secret hideaway. The food served here is the freshest fish locally caught and is absolutely exquisite. The white fish we dined on was cooked so simply and tasted divine.



The pièce de resistance occurred that evening. After a VIP Drinks Reception on the palatial Presidential Roof Terrace with Hilton Worldwide’s most senior executive members, I descended into to Conrad Algarve Opening Party –and what a party it was!

There were acrobats suspended from the ceiling in the Atrium, chefs from around the globe serving the world’s finest cuisine from different stations around the swimming pool, catwalk show on the swimming pool commissioned by Portuguese fashion designer to the stars Fatima Lopes, the crème de la crème of Portuguese society swanning around elegantly, unbelievable fireworks, a human art installation, a wall of balloons ascending into the night sky…. Can I even call it a party? It was more like a dream-inspired extravaganza.


Amazing fireworks and a band playing in one of the balconies

The doors to the Conrad Algarve are well and truly open.

The day after such a high can always be a bit of miserable one but such a feeling is not possible in the Algarve, especially with the itinerary planned for my final day there.

The morning was spent on a magical mystery tour in a 4×4 through the mountains and traditional Algarve villages. Our informative tour leaders were so passionate about their local surroundings and pointed out the cork trees used in the local cork production as well as picking rosemary and thyme from the mountain roadside for us to smell  – divine!


Jungle jeep adventurers trekking through the Algarve wild

A wine tasting and a Portuguese picnic by the stunning Fonte Grande spring later, we headed back to the Conrad Spa to indulge in the Conrad Algarve Spa Experience. It truly is a haven and an oasis of calm which makes it difficult to leave. I tried out the oxygen treatment in the Elixir Lounge which is essentially is inhaling pure oxygen. One its many benefits is clearing any sore heads from the night before which was definitely beneficial for a few people in the group! A unique aspect of the Conrad Spa is ‘staying connected’ which means guests can take in their phones, iPads, laptops. Research was undertaken by Conrad where the results showed people are more stressed out being without their technology in a spa environment. The Conrad Spa offer a completely stress free experience that is for sure. My Aromatherapy Associates facial was sublime and the view from the spa infinity pool was quite dreamy.

he final evening was spent at the hotel’s DadoQ restaurant where we ate a sumptuous barbecue dinner against the backdrop of the Mediterranean gardens. My personal favourite was the monkfish cooked to absolute perfection.


The view at the Last Supper. No filter needed.

And so, the next morning I travelled back to blighty leaving clear skies and high temperatures for rain and Luton airport about 10 stone heavier. My time at the Conrad Algarve was so special – everything is carried out with such finesse and care that didn’t go unnoticed by a single member of the group. I still dream of that fagottelli carbonara…..

An interview with Peter Tschirky, General Manager of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz

Grifco recently caught up with Peter Tschirky, now the General Manager of Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, to hear about the latest cutting edge spa trends for 2013.

Grifco: Which spa treatments do you predict will be the most popular in 2013 at Bad Ragaz?

PT: I think the most popular spa treatments at Bad Ragaz this year will be the treatments that combine our soothing thermal water, such as the new Water Journey Massage. This is a take on our Singing Bowl massage, that actually takes place in one of our thermal water swimming pools. It is a sensuous and invigorating spa treatment where bowls are placed on the body and made to gently vibrate by contact with a mallet, where the resulting resonance penetrates through the whole body and leads to deep relaxation.

Grifco: What are the current most popular spa treatments?

PT: One of our most popular spa treatments at the moment is our Golden Honey Treatment, thanks to its abundant healing properties, where warm honey is poured over the skin and massaged into the back, neck and shoulders. Also popular is our Traditional Swiss Monastic Medicine, which uses medicinal herbs gathered from the Swiss mountains tried and tested over centuries to provide unparalleled healing results. The methods used by our experienced therapists are centered on maintaining physical and mental wellness, and can be adapted to treat a range of problems, from arthritis and back pain, to addictions and diabetes.

Grifco: In your opinion, what are the best new beauty brands for 2013 and why?

PT: We are proud to be working with some excellent new beauty brands this year, including luxury facial treatments from Sisley Paris, La Prairie, Kanebo International, and Ericson. Also available are the fantastic Niance facial treatments for men, and of course our own cosmetic line, To B. Cosmetics.

Grifco: Can you tell us about any new 2013 Grand Resort Bad Ragaz spa treatments you are particularly excited about?

PT: This year we’re really excited about the new male “Razor-Sharp Grooming Treatments”, as all elements of the treatment have been adapted for men. The facial – a Niance Men Power Facial – has been crafted to provide resilience and firmness to the male skin. It also includes a facial and neck massage, breathing exercises for deep relaxation as well as cleansing, peeling, mask and serum application. I think some men are less inclined to pamper themselves, which is either do to with lack of time or simply male pride, however, at Bad Ragaz we understand that pampering doesn’t have to be limited to women, we want everyone to be able to indulge in some R&R.

Grifco: If you were to choose a spa treatment at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz in 2013, what would you choose and why?

PT: I think the new Water Journey spa treatment would be my treatment of choice as this is something totally new to me and to Bad Ragaz, which hasn’t been done before and provides a level of relaxation which I believe no other treatment in the world can offer.


Grifco PR 2013 Hot List

Happy New Year! And welcome to 2013. Where’s on your travel wish list for the year ahead? The deserted plains of Namibia’s Skeleton Coast… a stunning infinity pool with views over the Mediterranean Sea in a never rented before villa… the hottest new luxury hotel in New York? Read on for a snap shot of the newest locations and experiences we’re most excited about for 2013.

New Openings – 2013’s hottest new places to stay

Wilderness Collection To Open Segera Retreat, Kenya – March 2013

Segera is a tangible example of successful multiple land-use efforts. With the support of the Zeitz Foundation, it is at the forefront of change in Kenya; its mission is to achieve a healthy, holistic balance of the 4Cs central to the Wilderness Collection ethos (conservation, community, culture and commerce), leading to the creation of a sustainable Long Run Destination (Global Ecosphere Retreat® certified) that contributes to the vision of an ecosphere in the healthiest possible state.

Expect exceptional service in the five private two-storey villas of wood and thatch that gaze out over the Laikipia plateau towards the spectacular Mount Kenya and which play host to guests seeking to reconnect with nature and embrace a new way of viewing man’s relationship with the natural world. Segera is accepting reservations from 23rd March 2013 onwards.

Holidays Please ( has a seven-night stay at Segera from £5,513 pp, including return BA flights from LHR, private transfers and full board with most drinks and all activities.

Wilderness Safaris Open Hoanib Skeleton Coast Camp, Namibia – June 2013

Wilderness Safaris is opening Hoanib Skeleton Coast in June, located on the Hoanib River within a private concession straddling the Palmwag area and Skeleton Coast National Park, in one of the most remote areas of the Kaokoveld. This exclusive camp, comprising eight units (including one family unit), will be a Classic Camp with all the attendant luxuries and amenities Wilderness Safaris are known for. For the first time, forays into the Hoanib floodplains (previously restricted inside the Skeleton Coast National Park) can be undertaken.

Park Hyatt New York To Open – 2013

Park Hyatt New York will be located at 157 West 57th Street between Avenue of the Americas and Seventh Avenue, across from Carnegie Hall. The 210-room hotel will be part of a 90-story mixed-use tower that will also feature 135 Thomas Juul-Hansen-designed luxury condominiums with breathtaking views of Central Park and the New York skyline.  In addition to a distinctive bar and restaurant and 5,000 square feet of retail space, the property will include a premier meeting facility with a grand ballroom and distinctive event space, as well as a lavish spa, fitness centre, and indoor swimming pool in a three-story aerie at the top of the hotel. The world-class hotel will reflect Park Hyatt’s intimate and understated elegance with interiors designed by the design firm Yabu Pushelberg.

Park Hyatt Siem Reap, Cambodia To Open – 2013

Park Hyatt Siem Reap will be situated nearby the renowned 12th century ruins of Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage site that researchers believe was one of the largest preindustrial cities in the world. The hotel will be a re-branded and totally renovated Hotel De La Paix Siem Reap, currently one of the country’s top-rated hotels.

Andaz Tokyo To Open – 2014

Andaz Tokyo will be the fourth Hyatt-branded hotel to open in Tokyo and the ninth to be established in Japan. With the Japanese launch of the Andaz brand in Toranomon, the birthplace of Mori Building, the two companies affirm their shared commitment to bringing gracious, unscripted service to an urban revitalization project that is focused on providing inventive programs and venues for inspired interactions between residents and visitors alike.

Scott Williams Introduces New Portfolio Of Extraordinary Houses In Turkey

New for 2013, luxury villa specialist Scott Williams has introduced an exclusive collection of holiday homes on the Bodrum Peninsula in Turkey to its growing portfolio of dazzling handpicked hideaways.

NEW Houses for 2013 include:

The Loft House, Bodrum Peninsula, Sleeps 4

The Loft House on the Bodrum Peninsula is straight off the pages of a luxury interiors magazine, situated in one of the most exclusive areas on the Peninsula with Turbuku, the San Tropez of Turkey, just a short drive away.  The villa commands stunning sea views from its idyllic hill top position, with whitewashed walls and the chicest contemporary design features including concrete floors, double height ceilings and huge glass and steel windows.

Prices start at €3,500 per week (approx. £2,850) excluding flights and transfers.

John O’Groats Hotel To Re-open – Summer 2013

Following a huge £6 million regeneration project of the area in 2012, Natural Retreats has opened of 23 standalone Residences, plus a brand new Outfitters activity and retail centre and co-operative Storehouse, selling produce and goods from local businesses including Old Pulteney Malt Scotch Whisky, freshly baked bread and speciality cheese.

Not forgetting its historic roots, Natural Retreats will also be renovating the classic John O’Groats hotel – opening in late summer 2013 – which this year will be celebrating its 125th anniversary.

Natural Retreats (; 0844 384 3166) offers four-nights in a 3 Bedroom Residence in John O’Groats from £420.

Waldorf Astoria Berlin – Opened December 2012

Setting a new standard in luxury for Berlin and the wider German market, the new Waldorf Astoria Berlin marries the timeless elegance of the legendary flagship, Waldorf=Astoria New York, with a unique design inspired by the City‘s vibrant and contemporary personality. Featuring 232 luxury guestrooms and suites, the hotel sits within the spectacular new Zoofenster skyscraper, designed by renowned German architect, Professor Christoph Mäckler.

Majestic Kuala Lumpur – Opened December 2012

The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur opened its doors on the 1st December 2012 and includes the iconic Hotel Majestic building, documented as a national heritage site under the Antiquities Act.  Built in the 1930s, the original hotel became one of the great landmarks of Kuala Lumpur in its time. The hotel was the place for glamorous social events, government receptions and the residence for prominent international visitors. The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur is positioned to share the glamour, heritage and success of its predecessor.

Andaz Amsterdam – Opened October 2012

2013 marks many historic anniversaries for Amsterdam such as 400 years of Amsterdam’s canals or 125 years of the Concertgebouw, Amsterdam’s famous concert hall, making Amsterdam a top destination for 2013 – and where else to stay other than the new cooler than cool Andaz Amsterdam? Based on the premise that the hotel should beat with the same heart as the city, the unique flavors of Amsterdam are embedded in the property’s adventurous design concept brought to life through the vision of local and legendary interior and product designer, Marcel Wanders. Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht is the first Hyatt hotel in the Netherlands and the ninth addition to the Andaz brand.

Rooms are available from EUR325 per night. Reservations for Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht may be made by calling +31 20 – 523 1234 or by visiting

New Experiences – Must. Try. Now.

Tom Aikens’ Michelin Master Class at Royal Palm, Mauritius – 25 – 27 March 2013

Headlining act of the London restaurant scene and the youngest chef ever to be awarded two Michelin stars, Tom Aikens will be cooking up a storm at the prestigious Royal Palm in Mauritius from 25th  – 27th  March 2013. For three days only, Tom will be presenting his innovative and creative style of modern French cookery that has been made famous at his Michelin starred Tom Aikens Restaurant in Chelsea. Guests will be able to partake in a series of one-off Master Classes and sit down to private four-course dinners cooked by the celebrity chef, over the three nights.

The Tom Aikens Master Class Week is available to book exclusively through Beachcomber Tours (; 01483 445 685) from £3,950 per person. Price includes 7 nights at Royal Palm based on two sharing on a half-board basis including Economy flights from London Heathrow, private transfers and Tom Aikens Master Class participation as detailed above.

Martini Master Classes at DUKES ST JAMES LONDON

Learn to make the perfect Martini in the famous DUKES bar; the location where Ian Fleming was inspired to write the James Bond line ‘shaken not stirred’, with the new Martini Master Classes at DUKES ST. JAMES LONDON.

Master Class students will learn to recreate the legendary DUKES Martini and other classic recipes with head barman and martini guru, Alessandro Palazzi, who will share his in-depth knowledge of each drink and its ingredients’ origins. After perfecting their martini making skills guests can relax, unwind and enjoy the taste of their hard work accompanied by some delicious canapés.

Master classes are held Monday to Friday from 3pm-5pm and can be booked for private events and cost just £95 per person. Groups of 4-8 people can attend each class. Nightly rates in a Dukes room at DUKES ST JAMES LONDON start from £270 inclusive of VAT. For more information please call 020 7491 4840 or visit

New Guerlain Spa Now Open at The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel, Edinburgh

With three bespoke treatment rooms and a team of highly trained Beauty Coaches, a visit to the UK’s first Guerlain spa will be a unique and personal experience to local residents and hotel guests. Open as of January 2013, the spa is a sanctuary of luxury and relaxation where guests will experience sensorial, indulgent and cutting edge treatments from Guerlain, one of the world’s most luxurious Spa brands.

Nightly rates start at £209 per night inc VAT, room only at The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel. For further information or to make a reservation, please call +44 (0) 131 222 888;

Green Leaf Niseko Village, Japan – Snow Lounge Installation

The Niseko Village ski resort is celebrating Japan’s top ski resort’s 30th anniversary with great fanfare this year by revealing its all-new outdoor art installation Snow Lounge, created by renowned artist Hirohiko Takenaka. Named ‘Snow Lounge @ Flame’s”, the venue is the talk of the town, both as an architectural point of interest and as an après-ski watering hole. Sculpted from pure powder snow with a cavern like feel, the snow and ice installation will be illuminated from within, casting a magical glow inside and around, as the play of escaping lights entice patrons to enter. The Niseko season runs until April 2013.

Inside Japan Tours offer a 7 night package including 5 nights at Green Leaf and 2 in Tokyo from £1,993pp based on two sharing.

Andaz Liverpool Street London Re-Invents Afternoon Tea With The Winter Club Sandwich

Following the success and rave reviews of the ‘Eggcentric’ installation during London Design Festival and September’s ‘Scrap Lab’ sustainable dinners, created by food designer Linda Monique, Andaz Liverpool Street hotel is delighted to announce the new seasonal Winter Club Sandwich, designed exclusively for the hotel by Monique. Monique’s latest seasonal creation is a mind bending sweet take on a savoury hotel classic, which will be available for a limited time only at the hotel’s glorious 1901 restaurant from 1st January – 31st March 2013.

The Winter Club Sandwich is priced at £10 per sandwich.

New 2013 Chocolate Tasting Menu at Jade Mountain, St Lucia

Famed for its outstanding natural beauty and wealth of organic, tropical flavours, St Lucia is home to some of the Caribbean’s most bountiful cacao plantations – brought to life by Jade Mountain’s annual Chocolate Festival. Held at the award-winning resort every December, the last event led by Chef Allen Susse has spawned a daring new menu, launched in January 2013 to excite the senses. 

Nightly rates at Jade Mountain start at US$ 1,275 per Sanctuary.  Price is based on two persons sharing a Sky, Star, Moon, Sun or Galaxy Jacuzzi Suite. All rates are subject to 8% tax and 10% service charges

Twitching At Sani Resort, Halkidiki, Greece

Sani Resort has its own Wetland Sanctuary and is now offering guided bird watching tours for the brilliant price of £13pp which includes a donation to the sanctuary. Guests can now view species such as Osprey, Wood Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover, Avocet, Montagu’s Harrier, Short-toed Snake Eagle, Willow Warbler, Northern Wheatear, the Pipit, the Sombre Tit, the Robin and the Woodchat Shrike, guided by a professional.

Purchase Your Very Own Natural Retreats Property

Award winning luxury self-catering company Natural Retreats has released a portfolio of exclusive holiday homes to buy for the first time. Spurred by the overwhelming interest about ownership from guests holidaying at its various UK locations, Natural Retreats has released 20 fully-furnished, panoramic sea view properties available to purchase off-plan on the breath-taking Llŷn Peninsula in Wales, and another 12 key-ready luxury apartments at Fistral Beach, Cornwall – all with a 999 year lease for generations to enjoy. More properties will be coming on sale in 2013.

The Oracle Retreat Returns to Spa Village Tembok Bali – 16th – 26th March 2013 and October 2013

Spa Village Tembok Bali is a sanctuary of peace and tranquillity. In March, Spa Village Resort Tembok, Bali will hold its Oracle Retreat, teaching self-care practices which restore the body, mind and soul, leaving one feeling renewed and replenished. Two options are available: the Full Retreat, commencing March 16 to 26, 2013 and the Mini Retreats from March 16 to 21 or March 20 to 26, 2013.

The Oracle Retreat invites guests to learn life-changing skills and techniques through a variety of activities and excursions such as life workshops, ‘5-element form’, yoga, meditation and holistic aromatherapy. Internationally renowned wellness practitioners will guide participants on the path to achieve true inner happiness through transformation; this year’s Oracle Facilitators include Diana Manilova –psychic healer and author, Marc Cofer –guiding in brain training, Dewi Hopley –aroma and holistic massage therapist and Sharron Hopley – host for the programme and movement specialist.

  • Mini Retreat (16th – 21st March or 20th – 26th March 2013) is priced at US$1,400 (*£870) per person based on two sharing.
  • Full Retreat (16th – 26th March 2013) is priced at US$2,750 (*£1,760) per person based on two sharing.
  • October 2013 TBC

Gent’s Grooming At Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland

To mark the start of 2013, 36.5° Wellbeing & Thermal Spa at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz is pleased to introduce a brand new Beauty and Care for HIM treatment. All elements of the treatment have been adapted for men. The facial – a Niance Men Power Facial – is crafted to provide resilience and firmness to the weary man, including facial and neck massage, breathing exercises for deep relaxation as well as cleansing, peeling, mask and serum; even extending to hands and arms to deliver a fully refreshed appearance and feeling. Each massage, manicure and pedicure is tailored to the needs of every individual – following a full consultation beforehand.

Experience the indulgent Beauty and Care for HIM at 36.5° Wellbeing & Thermal Spa at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland for £297 per person.

Champneys Launch 2013 Boot-Camp Series to Champion UK Sporting Legacy

Champneys has announced a brand new Boot Camp menu to include a new focus on sports such as hockey, swimming, tennis, cycling and the triathlon, accompanying more traditional weight loss and fitness Boot Camps stretching across all levels.

Champneys is partnering with 80s elite athlete, four-time world record breaker and fitness extraordinaire Daley Thompson, CBE to bring an intensive fitness weekender to the table. With 2-3 classes every hour, Daley’s course includes everything from Circuits and Spinning to Aerobics and Zumba to whip guests back into shape throughout an intensive, but fun, fitness weekend.

Where? Champneys Tring Dates: 1st February and 5th April 2013 Available from: £649 pp (2 days)

Other Boot Camps include Triathalon, Tennis, Cycling and Swimming. Contact for bookings and further details.

New BA Flight Route to Lanzarote

Travellers can enjoy greater flexibility when planning their luxury holiday to Lanzarote with the launch of a new BA flight route to the sun kissed Canary Island. From 31 March 2013, there will be two new BA flights per week departing from London Gatwick to Lanzarote.

The fabulous five-star Princesa Yaiza Suite Hotel Resort is situated in Playa Blanca, a pretty and tranquil spot on the Canary Island of Lanzarote. The luxurious suites, impeccable service, Kikoland kids club, Thalasso-therapy spa and gourmet dining options make the Princesa Yaiza the ideal getaway for young, old, honeymooners and families alike.

Sovereign Luxury Travel (0844 415 1936; is offering a 15% early booking discount and an online discount- 7 nights from £2,579 per family of 3 on a bed and breakfast basis, departing on the 4th August 2013. Price includes BA return flights from London Gatwick and private transfers. Saving up to £1,089 per family of 3

The Silent Beach at Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay, Bodrum

This blissful property on the Aegean Coast of Turkey is excited to announce the launch of its Silent Beach, a secluded haven where silence really does mean bliss. The Silent Beach will be located next to the blue flag sandy beach that Kempinski Hotel Barbaros Bay prides itself on. Tucked away amongst the trees, this really will be the perfect spot for guests wanting to enjoy the pace and quiet. The beach will not only offer guests a ‘no noise zone’ but also beach bar service straight to their sunbed…what more could you want!

Hotel de Toiras & Villa Clarisse Launch Own Wine Label

Two beautiful boutique properties on the Ile de Re, France.  Hotel de Toiras is a much loved, 17th century former shop owner’s residence. Its sister property, Villa Clarisse opened in May 2011 and has made the perfect second addition to the delightful port of Saint Martin de Re. New for 2013 is the launch a selection of acclaimed wines from Chateau Clarisse, the owner, Olivia Le Calvez boutique vineyard located in the Saint Emilion region of France.

New Polo Bar at Desert Palm, by Per AQUUM, Dubai

New Polo Bar offering guests an Al Fresco causal alternative to enjoy a glass of chilled champagne whilst savouring tapas and creative dishes from the food menu. Overlooking Desert Palm’s main polo field guests can enjoy watching the sport of Kings – Polo, twice a week between October to May and live entertainment.

New Marine Biology Classes at NIYAMA, by Per AQUUM, Maldives

Newly opened NIYAMA has added a new experience to the Maldives and 2013 looks set to bring more excitement to the Indian Ocean hot spot. From Tribal, the very cool campfire style dining experience, to Edge and Subsix, the fabulous overwater restaurant and underwater music club, everything at Niyama has a quirky spin. Guests will be able to take part in marine biology lessons in the world’s first underwater music club, Subsix – the perfect way to learn about marine life without get wet!

New SpaQuarium Experience at Huvafen Fushi, by Per AQUUM, Maldives

Recently renovated and completed in August 2012, Huvafen Fushi is now offering its “SpaQuarium” to guests. Discover underwater marine life at night as the hotel opens its underwater Spa at night to enable guests to see hunting jackfish, lionfish and coral polyps catching plankton under moonlight. Sip Champagne and nibble on fruit skewers while the Resident Marine Biologist takes you down to the SpaReef to see below the sea in a relaxing way!

New Company – The eBay Of Caribbean Holidays! The Caribbean Hotel Company By ITC Classics

ITC Classics has just launched the Caribbean Hotel Company, revolutionising the way price conscious travellers book holidays to the Caribbean. Using ‘make a bid’ technology, customers simply browse a handpicked selection of over 200 four and five star hotels, select their ideal Caribbean holiday and place their bid… then wait to see if they have been successful. This is the eBay of Caribbean holidays! Visit and you may snap up a better bargain than you’d hoped. Holidays include hotel accommodation and all are ABTA protected.

New Boat – Xenia & Faye at The Inn at English Harbour, Antigua

The Inn’s Italian owners Enzo and Suzanna Addari have bought Italian style and flair to the property (his flair and her style). For 2013 the owners will be enabling their guests the use of their beautiful Dutch yacht, Xenia & Faye. Built in Holland in 1962 and lovingly restored by the owners, guests can charter this 26 metre yacht for the day or even spend a romantic night on board (three cabins – sleeping up to five guests). Private chartering of Xenia & Faye starts from $1700 USD for a full day.

New for January 2013: The Spa at Marti By Spa Soul – Marti Istanbul

Located on the top floor of the Marti Istanbul Hotel, this beautifully designed and spacious facility (850 square metres) comprises five treatment rooms, separate men/women quarters each with private sauna and steam room, two traditional Turkish Hammams and a vast Roman Bath, generous relaxation areas and more. SpaSoul, with its international team of therapists, uses carefully selected products for a large selection of treatments tailored to suit individual needs and preferences.

Anne Sémonin Launch Revolutionary New Skin Renewal Treatment

The Parisian beauty experts at Anne Sémonin will be launching a revolutionary new Skin Renewal treatment for 2013. Years in the making, the new treatment erases the signs of time using an exclusive 4-step made-to-measure peeling technique. The treatment will be available at all Anne Sémonin spas world-wide…more details to come soon!

Conrad Algarve – New Spa and Little C Palace Children’s Club Opened November 2012

The innovative new spa at Conrad Algarve is a sanctuary where guests can enjoy a ‘Luxurious Journey to a Better You’. Embracing the Conrad philosophy of ‘The Luxury Of Being Yourself’, the locally-inspired spa is a haven of relaxation. Here guests will enjoy state of the art techniques and effective, indulgent tailor-made treatments from Aromatherapy Associates and Intraceuticals. The spa is also home to the technology friendly Elixir Lounge, a comfortable ‘living space’ that has been created for guests to enjoy the Conrad concept of unrivalled connections. With research showing that many spa visitors find it unsettling to switch off or leave technology behind when enjoying spa time, Conrad Algarve Spa allows guests to stay connected by mobile and internet, whilst keeping phones on silent.

Not just for adults, Conrad Algarve features a specially created children’s activity menu designed by children, for children. The new ‘Little C Palace’ children’s club is suitable for children aged three to 12 and offers a bespoke holiday for younger guests, with a variety of activities to choose from including treasure hunts, baby yoga and mock-tail making.

Happy Birthday!

Rome Cavalieri Celebrates 50th Anniversary

50 years ago, Rome Cavalieri opened its doors and became one of the Eternal City’s leading properties. To celebrate the big 5-0 in 2013, the hotel will be launching an exciting series of packages and special events including a Roman Shopping Holiday package, a chance to whizz around Rome in electric cars, and a new children’s experience including a visit to an artisan ice cream maker and mind-boggling Museo Explora.

Two Seychelles Resorts Celebrate 10th Birthday

North Island, the ultimate barefoot island turns 10 years old in 2013 and will be celebrating in style. Watch this space for more details from the tropical paradise!

Part of Beachcomber Hotels, Sainte Anne Resort & Spa also celebrates its 10th year in 2013 and will be marking the occasion with a new package, details to be announced shortly.

New Clients – Welcome To…


GVI runs over 100 volunteer projects in 25 countries, in the fields of environmental research, conservation, education and community development. The organisation sends over 3,000 volunteers away every year, and is one of the most well respected and prominent international volunteering organisations in the world. From wildlife conservation in South Africa to community development programmes in Costa Rica, GVI welcomes volunteers from 18-70 years of age from all corners of the globe.


Please contact the Grifco PR team for more information on 0207 385 7090 or email: Claire Griffin; Emma Powell; Hannah Summers; Charlotte Hill; Nadia Walford; Charlie Fox

Maldives Day Five

Last day in the Maldives…so we were all pretty sad! But what a way to end our adventure at Huvafen Fushi…underwater spa treatments, amazing snorkeling around the top of the island, delicious healthy lunch at Raw the innovative ‘raw’ cuisine restaurant and stingray feeding on Stingray Beach. The piece de resistance of our final day was a private Vinum Dinner in Huvafen Fushi’s underground wine cellar. Vinum houses a collection unmatched by any other resort in the world and we enjoyed a six course wine meal with Huvafen’s on island sommelier, Ilyas Easa teaching us all about the wines we were sampling. Executive chef Daniel Johnson had been given the task of matching the menu to the wines and he created a real treat for us…

Maldives Day Two

We woke up to bright sunshine and a full day of fun ahead of us. With sunhat, snorkel and ice cold refreshments to hand we headed to Walla, NIYAMA’s very own deserted island where we enjoyed a morning of snorkeling, sunbathing and pretending to be shipwrecked in the middle of the Indian Ocean. I would highly recommend taking a trip out to Walla, the reef around the island is beautiful, I made friends with a Trumpet fish (although I’m not to sure how keen he was on me??). It was well worth taking a stroll around the island, although at one point we thought we’d been joined by someone else (this was not in my shipwrecked plan)…we soon realised that the other footprints were actually ours (oops!) and that we’d already gone full circuit.

Breaking into a coconut island style (with a rock!!)

On our return to NIYAMA we tucked into a delicious lunch at Epicure, the all day dining restaurant serving everything from Pizza to Sushi to freshly caught reef fish.

We spent the afternoon relaxing by our private pools and then hit LIME spa for some R&R, treat yourself to a NIYAMA full body massage and enjoy the Indian Ocean view. LIME’s Spa Garden is the perfect place to relax after a treatment, we enjoyed a refreshing platter of fruit whilst listening to the birds singing to one another in the tree canopy above us.

My bath tub thanks to my Thakuru Rashud

After dark it all got a bit tribal…at Tribal, the modern campsite dining experience. What a place to spend an evening, the selection of different foods from all over the world was incredible and Ken the Executive Chef was cooking up a storm in the kitchen. He was helping with the decision-making…I decided to leave it to the expert and asked for a surprise, I was not disappointed when my Red Snapper arrived in front of me.

Heavenly Hong Kong

Hong Kong, a place that never sleeps, isn’t usually associated with relaxation, but it is possible!

Flat bed with plump pillows and cosy duvet? Check. Jersey pyjamas and matching slippers? Check. 7 course tasting menu created by Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton? Of course. WiFi at 35,000ft? You bet! My recent trip to Hong Kong began in style, courtesy of Hong Kong Airlines and their newly launched all-business class flight from London to the Asian hub. The new service offers a luxurious way to make the 12 hour journey, with a choice of Club Classic and Club Premier cabins. I was lucky enough to trial the Club Classic service and was really impressed.

On this trip I stayed at the Grand Hyatt Hong Kong for the first time, one of the true “Grande Dame” hotels in the Skyscraper City, with its unbeatable harbour-front location in the buzz and excitement of Wan Chai (probably my favourite area of HK to wander around, with its non-stop action, colourful markets, delicious and often unidentifiable food objects and general centre-of-the-action feel).

The views from this hotel are extraordinary, and the swimming pool on the 11th floor is the perfect retreat when it all gets too much in this 24-hour destination. I found a fresh watermelon juice and a dip in the pool the perfect tonic to running around town! NB. They also serve the best mango pudding in Hong Kong.

The hotel’s Plateau Spa is also the place for frazzled souls, whether it’s jet lag or the night before you’re suffering from – it boasts some of the biggest treatment rooms I’ve seen anywhere and highly professional therapists. You can even check into the Plateau Rooms – hotel rooms located actually within the spa, with sunken futon beds that you can have your treatment on, and then spend the night. How often have you had a massage and wished you could float straight to bed? Next time I want to stay in one of these.

I sampled both a 60 minute Plateau massage at the Grand Hyatt, and a 60 minute neck, back and foot massage in a local Chinese massage shop and the two experiences could not have been more different. Both great – one a highly relaxing, pampering and soothing experience that left me floating on a cloud, the other an hour of back-cracking and knot busting that I’m sure left me an inch taller…I’d recommend trying both to experience both ends of the spa spectrum!