A Shining Beacon on the Bangkok Riverside – the new AVANI

AVANI Bangkok Riverside Hotel

AVANI’s Bangkok Riverside Hotel is the AVANI brand’s first purpose built hotel and the exciting flagship to shine in its growing portfolio.

AVANI Bangkok Riverside night view rendering

It sits in an enviable location on the Bangkok riverside, and looks out on to some of the best views from the city and offers travellers of either business or pleasure, a brilliant new and fresh offering, completely different to anything else in the city. It is hard to miss as it stands like a bright beacon on the riverfront.

Get whisked to the 11th floor for a seamless check in, noticing the high ceilings and open breezy spaces that gives the whole hotel a relaxed, sophisticated feeling in a contemporary setting.

The fabulous lobby

The fabulous lobby

The brand’s tagline is “The Details That Matter” and this resounds with every element – from the straightforward but fun rooms to the social spaces that will appeal equally to those wanting a drink at a cool bar, a business person looking for a quiet corner to work to just wanting to grab a quick and healthy snack from the Pantry @ AVANI.

AVANI Bangkok Riverside Hotel

AVANI Bangkok Riverside Hotel

Head up to the rooftop to a truly breathtaking pool that feels like swimming in the sky and enjoy a drink at the bar, soaking in the buzz and lights of the city.

Pool with a view

Pool with a view

AVANI is an upscale brand offering a truly five star service, offering a seamless guest experience and far surpassing all traditional expectations of a four star hotel.

Riverview Room

Riverview Room

Nightly rates at AVANI Bangkok Riverside start from £95 on a B&B basis.

If you’re staying at the AVANI, make sure to make the 30 second walk to Anantara Bangkok Riverside too….

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…for a spot of Muay Thai boxing with a pro…

Hydroponic Garden being built at Anantara Bangkok Riverside

….or gardening. Hydroponic Garden being built at Anantara Bangkok Riverside.

Anantara Bangkok Riverside Hotel

….or just for a dip. Check out the pool at. Anantara Bangkok Riverside Hotel

There is also another fabulous Bangkok property that has just undergone a huge rebranding, the Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, that can be found across the river. This grande dame of Bangkok is also a must.

Hillary Clinton's preferred suite.....

Hillary Clinton’s preferred suite at Anantara Siam…..

A double double bed? We're in!

A double double bed? We’re in!

Enjoying Anantara Siam Bangkok's spa

Enjoying Anantara Siam Bangkok’s spa

 

Hidden Cornwall: A Weekend with Natural Retreats, Trewhiddle

When you live in a city as chaotic as London, there comes a point when you start to yearn for the smell of crisp, fresh air and the sound of nothing but the birds chirping in the trees above. Enter Natural Retreats, Trewhiddle.

Located just a little over a mile from St, Austell train station in South Cornwall sits a divine property in a peaceful valley that comprises of luxury 2, 3, and 4 bedroom self catered villas. We arrived at our destination safe, sound and happy to be in a comfortable environment after our train journey. One of the first things that got my attention as soon as we arrived at the property was how unbelievably quiet it was. I stepped out onto the wooden balcony of my private villa and closed my eyes. It took a whole thirty seconds until I heard the soft sounds of rustling trees in the distance – talk about solitude!

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Our first port of call was some authentic Cornish tapas; carefully put together by Angels in the Kitchen Kristen and Sarah. Angels in the Kitchen is a local in-house catering service, offering local produce cooked in the privacy of your own home.

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The next morning we awoke to birdsong, ready for a day out exploring what the Southern region of Cornwall had to offer. After a morning of archery on-site at the Natural Retreats Trewhiddle property, we made our way down to the harbour and enjoyed some of the freshest seafood that I had ever tasted. It was almost as if the fish and mussels had been plucked from the ocean just minutes before we had arrived.

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Then it was on to our highly anticipated kayaking adventure along the River Fowey. We had a wonderful tour guide named Ken, who had a wealth of knowledge about the local area, which made our journey so enjoyable and added that little something extra to our afternoon activity.The scenery along the River Fowey is positively breathtaking, offering the type of picturesque setting that make you want to take out your smartphone and snap a picture whilst almost capsizing your beloved kayak in the process

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We arrived back on dry land, with slightly tender upper arms but ready to get back on the road and indulge in a second serving of Cornwall’s fine culinary offerings. We dined at Wreckers in Charlestown Harbour that evening, and besides from offering delicious meals at reasonable prices, we also learnt the true meaning of Cornish hospitality when the waiters offered to drive us the two miles back to Trewhiddle due to a lack of taxi service in the area that evening.

Natural Retreats also offers a gorgeous Handpicked portfolio, including a collection of characterful and intricate homes for rent, each a little different to the last

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Balcony view

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What a lovely introduction to what this quirky town has to offer! Sadly my stay in Trewhiddle only lasted one weekend, but I will most definitely be back to visit the friendly team at Natural Retreats soon to make some more unforgettable memories. Until next time…

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A New Series of Relaxation Programmes from Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, Switzerland helped to relieve a stressed Australian Financial Director! By John Maiden

As a child growing up in the middle of nowhere in outback Australia, Switzerland had, and has always been a dream destination for me. Everything about Switzerland was the antithesis of my life as a child and it was with eager anticipation that I was excited about visiting Grand Resort Bad Ragaz with my lovely wife. The train ride from Zurich central station was painless, efficient and timely almost to the second (I wish the trains in the UK would take a leaf) and the views along Lake Constance are quite breath taking although admittedly we were blessed with a lovely crisp sunny day.

Bad Ragaz

The Mountain scenery at Grand Resort Bad Ragaz

On arrival, what impressed me (among other things) was the divine scenery and the fact that you can smell the air. I mean smell in the clean sense. It just smells pure and it is very easy to just stand still and simply breathe, breathing in the fresh mountain air hoping that it will last longer than that one breath. A huge bonus to this rarefied air is that standing at the front of the Grand Resort the mountain views are seriously impressive. The Resort is located in a valley on the outskirts of the town of Bad Ragaz. The mountains on either side were snow capped and the village is a lovely little quaint Swiss town with all the effortless charm and sophistication that is Switzerland.

As our arrival at the hotel was a little later than initially expected due to a cancelled flight which resulted in the minor fact that it had taken us about 12 hours to get there (as opposed to the scheduled 4 hours), we thought it best to retreat to our Spa suite. We were on the 7th floor and our 2 balconies had views over the resort’s golf course and each side we had the mountain views that only a location like this can provide. The services were efficient, the TV’s (yes plural as there are 3 in the suite) are Bang & Oulfsen, the shower can be used as a steam room, the bath can be a spa, the beds are movable and the stiffness of the mattress can be adjusted to ease those aches and pains and the lights are dimmable to create a calm ambiance.

View from spa suites

The View from the Spa Suite

After a great night sleep, we woke as fresh as daisies, ready for a day of treatments. We started our 1 day therapeutic relaxation programme with a private pilates personal training session and having not done this before, it certainly highlighted my lack of subtlety, flexibility and general fitness. This said, it was hugely satisfying and if we had the time we would do it on a regular basis (as God knows, we, or more specifically I, need it).

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Private Pilates Session

Following a short tea break (well thermal water break to re-hydrate after the workout we’d just had), it was on to a “Sequoia ceremony” massage. This is an hour and a half massage from top to toe, or in this case, toe to top as it starts with a relaxing foot bath and foot massage. I wish I could tell you more about it but I think that I spent most of the 90 minute session asleep and dreaming of the mountains and if it was that relaxing, that has to be a good thing. To be honest, it was excellent.

Then it was on to our lunch which we had chosen at our morning introduction. We chose the “Cuisine Équilibreé” which is fundamentally a 3 course meal that is designed and prepared to keep your body in balance. As to the taste and quality of the food, if I had this exact meal for the next week, I would be very happy. It was exquisite and the perfect top up for our afternoon activities planned.

Enjoy healthy yet delicious dishes from the resort’s Cuisine Équilibreé menu

Following lunch it was to the “Thermal Water” and there are many, many different bathing activities and iterations that come under this category and we followed a programme suggested by our morning advisor as closely as we could.

The Helena Spa Wellness pool

We started with swimming a few lengths in a pool at a temperature of 36.5 degrees. We then had a spa and water shower in the pool, time in a steam room, then a different wet sauna, then dry sauna (showers throughout). Then it was with a little trepidation that we ventured into the “naked” area.

A Sauna World

Although I was at first very reluctant to even enter, once you enter this bastion of purity, I was surprised at how liberating it actually is although don’t worry, we were not parading around like Pamela Anderson. In this area we did many of the same sauna type activities with the addition of an ice facial and a final naked dip into a 10 degree plunge pool which needless to say was incredibly refreshing while having other reductive effects on other parts of my body. As an experience it was brilliant and would I do it again, absolutely.

Then it was our last activity of the day which dressed in my pants and robe felt relatively sedate. It was facial time with Nadine. A refreshing young Swiss lady that had worked in the Resort for 7 years and obviously has a passion for what she does.  I think she assumed that I knew what I was doing. She asked me what I type of facial I would like, to which I replied, “whatever you think”, she asked me what products I wanted, I said “whatever you think” and she suggested “La Prairie” to which I happily replied, “brilliant” having no idea what I had just agreed to and the facial proceeded.

How was it? Well, I remember some warm things on my closed eyes, a bit of face scrubbing and then what seemed like a few minutes later albeit 45 minutes later, “OK, John all done”. I’d done it again, it was so relaxing that I’d fallen asleep which to be honest, is a little embarrassing but hey ho, I’m the client. It was a fitting and fantastic way to end our treatments. The 9.30am to 5pm seemed to fly by and I, and I know my wife enjoyed every minute of it. What a great way to spend a day and I would recommend this to anyone and everyone.

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Nadine, the Resort’s specialist Beauty therapist, has been doing facials for 7 years at Bad Ragaz

During the day and in light of the activities/treatments etc we did, we were often and unsurprisingly, quite thirsty. To overcome this issue, the Resort has thoughtfully made thermal water available everywhere which supposedly has healing/healthy effects on the body. Although I don’t actually know if this was true in my case, I was drinking it by the bucket loads, firstly as I alluded to earlier, because I was rather dehydrated by the activities and secondly, I had convinced myself that it was going to make me 10 years younger and I’ll give it a bit more time before I test again.

Wow, what a day and although I don’t know if I actually was medically, any healthier, I certainly felt it and it was amazing how the whole day and our visit as a whole had completely de-stressed us. We have quite a busy life in London and this trip and its activities had taken our minds away from our working lives and given us a complete break from it and if you knew my wife, that is impressive in itself and incredibly worthwhile.

What we didn’t do (among many, many activities and services) which I would have liked to was play golf, go mountain walking, go bike riding, go for a ride on a Harley, eat at the Michelin starred restaurant in the resort, have a flutter in the Casino although we’ll save those for our next trip. Thank you Grand Resort Bad Ragaz and I hope we’ll see you again soon.

www.resortragaz.ch

Highly Anticipated Park Hyatt Vienna Opens

Hotel Exterior with Concierge

Park Hyatt Vienna Exterior

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Check in at Park Hyatt Vienna

At the opening of the Park Hyatt Vienna on Thursday night, it was hard to believe that the hotel hadn’t always been there. Right on one of the oldest squares, the Am Hof, in the UNESCO-protected heart of the city, the hotel is gracious and imposing, its great classical stone columns rising up to a pretty attic-style copper roof.

Park Hyatt Vienna's Bank Restaurant

Park Hyatt Vienna’s Bank Restaurant

The spacious presidential suite

The spacious presidential suite

The Pearl Bar

The Pearl Bar

Locals refer to the building as “The Bank” for good reason. Until a couple of years ago, the building housed the Bank of Austria – which explains the grandeur of its interiors. Beyond the imposing lobby, original stained glass windows from the early 1900s send light throughout the enormous space. Pillars and floors are of polished marble. Walls are embellished with multi-coloured stone cladding, painted with gold, lit with chandeliers and at the back, watched over by the bank’s original clock. As a guest was overheard to say: “It’s the closest thing Vienna has to the Georges V in Paris: the most glamorous opening the city has seen.”

Couples Spa Treatment Room in the Arany Spa

Couples Spa Treatment Room in the Arany Spa

Park King Room

Park King Room

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Park Hyatt Launch Decorations

Although the building’s historical details have been painstakingly preserved – and overseen by the city’s Antiquities and Monuments office – the interiors have been given a fresh, 21st-century look by hip Amsterdam-based designers FG stijl. Lounge chairs are covered in cool silvery velvets and super-soft metallic leather. Massive works of art by contemporary Viennese artists adorn the walls. Flowers arrangements are modern and sculptural (on the newspaper desk a row of orange arum lilies with grasses decorated the desk). Even the crockery and cutlery is clean and unfussy: the very antithesis of the fin de siècle architecture.

In most hotels, while public spaces are knock-out, often the rooms are unimpressive. Not here. Not only are the guest rooms the most spacious in the city (the smallest 35square metres, the largest 120), but characterful (of the 143 rooms, there are 100 different layouts, the warm, friendly young GM Monique Dekker told us).

Of the “standard” rooms, the sixth floor are the most characterful: with sloping “attic”-style ceilings and windows (best are road-facing, rather than courtyard-facing). All are similar colours: with unpolished oak parquet floors and limed oak wood pillars and panelling; latte-shaded walls; spacious lime-oak wardrobes; and bathrooms with unpolished marble finishes, capacious showers and baths, pretty beaten silver basins with clean-lined Grohe taps. Spoiling little extras in the bathroom included generous silver tubes of lime-scented Blaise Mautin products and super-soft white towelling robe that (unlike many hotels) were light and velvety.

Then there are the little luxury finishes: the elegant art-deco-style leather-covered desk; the mother-of-pearl-covered coffee table and (our favourite) a handsome wooden stand-alone drinks cabinet with hand-crafted mother-of-pearl handles and inside not just an Illy espresso machine, and local chocolate, cereal-bars and snacks, but an easy-glide fridge drawer stocked with delicious local drinks.

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A delicious Viennese Spread!

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Chocolate Infused with Ginger

The hotel’s Presidential Suite has to be one of the most sumptuous and glitzy in the capital: double-height, with a grand oak four-poster, a elaborate Viennese crystal chandelier, a pretty balcony looking over the square, and a bathroom with not just twinkly silver mosaic tiles around the bath but a whole lapis lazuli wall. All I could think of was just how many necklaces you could make out of it…

As one would expect of the Park Hyatt’s first Austrian hotel, the food at the opening party was sensational. One entire room was dedicated only to chocolates: strips, balls, squares and truffles, arranged in beautiful glass bowls set at different heights. There was a caviar bar. A cheese room where they showed off dozens of the different breads the Austrians breads are known for (gruyere cheese sticks were particularly moreish). And in the open-air kitchen of Bank, where chefs prepare local seasonal international food, little platters were being dished up: the rarest roast rump with grilled artichokes; foie gras with cherries; risotto with morelles. And of course, in the glamorous wood-panelled ballroom, there were platters of famous Viennese chocolate cakes, speckled with gold and adorned with cherries. And that was before one got to the library and drawing room, where the cream of silk-clad Viennese society were sipping XO Hennessey cognac and smoking cigars in a scene that could have been from a 100 years ago.

The next morning, things were a little quieter (the last guests left at 4.30am, a slightly weary looking Monique confided!) Perfect, then, for the spa. Called Arany (Hungarian for gold), it is set in the basement in the former bank vault, where the thick steel door is still installed as a reminder of the building’s past. In what must be a first, the 100m-long pool is floored in tiles the shape and size of gold bullion, overlooked by a handsome wood-panelled Technogym gym, and next to a soothing spa, with six treatment rooms. We soothed tired bodies with a full Sodashi massage, sauna and pummelling massage-rain-shower, followed by a huge array of pastries and breads. Then feeling human again, went out into Vienna to explore.

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Shopping in the Golden Quarter

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Gorgeous Suede Gloves

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A Milliner’s Dream!

The hotel is right at the heart of the revitalized Golden Quarter, just renovated (to a reported cost of 500 million euros), and now home to upmarket shops from Louis Vuitton to Church’s shoes. Keen to see some of the city’s more historical shops, we headed first to see its most famous cake shop: Demel, where within wooden-panelled rooms, they sell every sort of cake one might imagine, from strudels to rich sache torte (some handily packaged in easy-to-pack wooden boxes). Vienna is known for its gloves, so we visited its tiny Stiassny glovemaker, where Mr Stiassny makes gloves, and his sister sells them in the tiny wood-clad store. We popped into the three-story Knize, gentleman’s outfitters to the aristocracy for centuries (where the men among us bought raincoats with removable woollen lining). We ogled the jewels in Schullin jeweller, its shop designed by famous local architect Hans Hollein. We met the seventh-generation shoemaker at Scheer (where all shoes are made to order, and cost from 5,000 euros).

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Schullin Jewellers

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Schullin Jewellers

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Scheer’s Made-to-Order Gold Shoes!

And when we were exhausted – too much partying and way too much shopping in the glamorous Kohlmarkt, the street on which coal was now sold, and which is now the Madison Avenue or Bond Street of Vienna – we strolled back, taking in the grand domed palace, the churches and spires of this immaculately maintained Austrian city. It was a flying visit but next time, it will be to go to the opera, St Peter’s baroque cathedral, the Spanish Riding School, the museums. And, of course, back to the Park Hyatt Vienna, for yet another slice of rum-and-poppy-seed cake.

Synchronised swimming display to launch the Gold Bullion Swimming Pool. 

For more information please visit: http://www.vienna.park.hyatt.com/en/hotel/home.html

Images source: © Park Hyatt Vienna

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.

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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.

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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.

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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 www.waldorfastoria.com for more information.

ADD EXTRA THRILL TO YOUR HALLOWEEN WITH JACK’S MARTINI AT ANDAZ LIVERPOOL STREET

Just in time for Halloween, Andaz Liverpool Street’s 1901 Restaurant and Wine Bar is offering their signature cocktail – Jack’s Martini. Bound to create a few goose bumps, Jack’s Martini is aptly named after London’s infamous murderer Jack the Ripper, who reputedly haunted the East End in 1888. Rumour has it Jack was part of the Freemasons who frequently visited the hotel’s original Masonic Temple back in the day.

Jack's Martini

Head Bartender, Giovanni Castorina, mixes fresh cu cumber with tangy lime, elderflower cordial, ice and Hendricks Gin to create a refreshing, autumnal and altogether delicious martini we just can’t get enough of!

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Treat yourself to something truly delicious this Halloween and try Jack’s Martini, available for £12 at Andaz Liverpool Street’s 1901 Restaurant & Wine Bar. liverpoolstreet.andaz.hyatt.com

Crillon Le Brave, C’est Chic

Driving up towards Crillon Le Brave, after we passed endless unfenced vineyards, their plump sun soaked fruit looking ready to spill over into the road, we felt we had stumbled upon something like the Cotswolds of Provence. A charming collection of shuttered honey coloured buildings make up the intimate and historic Provencal retreat that is Crillon Le Brave, and I couldn’t wait to explore what lay within the beautiful exterior.

Glimpse the amazing view through the front door…

An enticing entrance...

An enticing entrance…

On arrival, the welcoming reception team usher you in through the doors, and your car is parked and luggage swept to your room in the blink of an eye.

And what a room! We stayed in number 33, a split level Suite with gorgeous living area strewn with comfy chairs and sofas, and twin roll top baths overlooking the Provencal countryside and sun terrace, packed with plenty of dreamy L’Occitane products (made locally).  The bedroom sits on the level above, the huge bed facing a triple paned window overlooking the view beyond – you feel like King of the castle when you wake up here! Fresh figs and chilled local rosé were waiting for us on our arrival and the beautiful private terrace was the perfect place to enjoy them.

Our pretty terrace, looking out to the pool and the sun-drenched countryside of Provence

Our pretty terrace, looking out to the pool and the sun-drenched countryside of Provence

There’s even space for Champagne or a cold bottle of rosé between these twin tubs - heaven

There’s even space for Champagne or a cold bottle of rosé between these twin tubs – heaven

Tearing ourselves away from our sanctuary, (it was difficult) we enjoyed a pre-dinner drink on the terrace – accessed by a private staircase from our Suite – before a four course dinner at the hotel’s lovely restaurant. I forgot about the bikini I was wearing by the pool the next day and tucked in to naughty delights including perfectly cooked steak and an a-mazing cheeseboard, with some incredible local cheeses to choose from.

Fresh herbs in the garden are used by the chef

Fresh herbs in the garden are used by the chef

The next day we had to leave all too quickly, but not before enjoying a lazy morning by the pool, soaking up the sun and that view.

Time for a dip

Time for a dip

If I could I would have loved to hop on one of the bicycles available to guests, and take up the challenge of scaling nearby Mont Ventoux by bike. It takes about 3-4 hours usually, although I heard that someone had made it in an hour and a half. As memories of the dinner the night before came back to me, I vowed – next time! And there has to be a next time – one night just wasn’t long enough. There’s a gorgeous boutique spa for post cycling pampering and seemingly endless French countryside to be explored here.  À bientôt!

www.crillonlebrave.com

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Lunch!

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.

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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!

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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.

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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…..

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 (www.holidaysplease.co.uk/safari) 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. www.wilderness-safaris.com

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. www.parkhyatt.com

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. www.parkhyatt.com

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. www.andaz.com

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. www.scottwilliams.co.uk

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 (www.naturalretreats.com; 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. www.waldorfastoriaberlin.com

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. www.majestickl.com

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 amsterdam.prinsengracht.andaz.com.

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 (www.beachcombertours.co.uk; 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 www.dukeshotel.com

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; www.thecaledonian.waldorfastoria.com

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. www.insidejapantours.com

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. www.andaz.com

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 www.jademountain.com

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. www.saniresort.com

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.

www.naturalretreatsresidences.com

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

www.ytlhotels.com

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. www.resortragaz.com

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 www.champneys.com 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; www.sovereign.com) 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! www.kempinski.com/bodrum

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. www.hotel-de-toiras.com

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.  www.peraquum.com

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! www.peraquum.com

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! www.peraquum.com

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 www.thecaribbeanhotelcompany.co.uk 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. www.theinn.ag

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.  www.martiistanbul.com

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! www.annesemonin.com

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. www.conradalgarve.com

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. www.romecavalieri.com

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!

www.north-island.com

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.

www.sainteanne-resort.com

New Clients – Welcome To…

GVI

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. www.gvi.co.uk

 -ends-

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

Dreamy holiday products I cannot live without…

I love all products- Oils, moisturisers, and creams, the list continues and there are some products that I cannot live without on holiday…

I cannot remember who introduced me to MorroccanOil but whoever it was I would like to thank them! Unfortunately this isn’t my little beauty secret as Morroccan Oil has taken the hair care industry by storm and there is one product of theirs that stands out above the rest. The original MoroccanOil treatment makes hair feel and look glossy and healthy and smells divine. The secret to this oil is its key ingredient- Aragan Oil. It helps to strengthen and condition and reduces drying time. The entire hair care range is impressive and includes shampoo, conditioner and fantastic treatment masks, all smelling equally delicious to one another. They also have a hand-sized travel kit for perfect hair getaways containing a selection of the favourites!

Visit the MoroccanOil website to view all the products available.

I have always been an avid fan of Clarin’s which has stemmed from my mother who is a fellow, faithful Clarins user. They have a fantastic range for combination skin and every product of theirs has a deliciously distinctive smell. The Clarin’s HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase is an intensive re-hydrating serum which revitalizes the most dehydrated skin (perfect after a night out!). It instantly rehydrates the skin and maintains moisture level- the perfect light weight moisturiser… This product is worth its weight in gold!

Visit The Clarins Website for a full list of the products and to purchase the serum.

Purchasing Elie Saab Le Parfum was a very rushed, last minute duty free purchase but has now become my signature scent. It’s not a scent that everyone will immediately love. The combination of orange blossoms, patchouli, Jasmine, rose honey and cedar work creates a strong and unique scent. This perfume is ideal if you are looking for something that isn’t too floral and girly and it has brilliant staying power!

Elie Saab Le Parfum can be brought here. 

 

The Parisian ‘ Haute Couture’ beauty brand Anne Sémonin has created the most practical and perfect holiday friendly kit using the brand’s holistic and personal approach. The Anne Sémonin Daily Musts are a ‘monodose’ of each of the four face masks conveniently packaged in a travel-friendly set. What I love most about this survival kit is there is a mask to deal with any skin condition and mood you might be in.

The Daily Musts Mini Coffret contains one of each of the following masks:

The Exfoliating Mask is the first mask I use once I step off the plane. It is a gentle mask that acts to cleanse and brighten the skin while exfoliating, great for problem areas such as black heads.

The Cream Mask is particular good for those with sensitive skin, it nourishes the skin while reducing redness. I use it after a long day in the sun.

The Gel Mask is enriched with vitamins and minerals preparing the face for flawless make up application. The essential oils such as Lavender and YlangYlang leaves skin recharged with improved elasticity. Great for using before make up application or in the morning for a refreshing wake up.

The Mineral Mask for me is similar to drinking a litre of water! It is rich in minerals and really hydrates the skin leaving it feeling detoxified.

Visit www.annesemonin.com to purchase The Daily Musts and to see the full product collection