Author Archives: C.C.
Author Archives: C.C.
Fashion and food? A match made in heaven! Go shopping with a personal fashion stylist, and get ready to be awed by top-notch designs as you gain exclusive access to designer showrooms, hi between shopping sprees, enjoy light fare at the courtyard of a palazzo smack in the heart of Milan’s Quadrilatero d’Oro (Golden Rectangle), tuck into hearty Milanese osso bucco at one of the top restaurants in town, indulge in good coffee and snack on a panzerotti (fried dough with varied fillings) from a famous family-run shop, and wine and dine at a Michelin-s tarred restaurant.
A foodie destination through and through, Melbourne is widely recognised as the culinary capital of Australia – and for good reason. From the rolling vineyards and dairy farms in the nearby Yarra Valley, to its trendy gastronomic scene in the heart of the city, Melbourne is turning heads and making waves for its discerning coffee culture, hipster laid-back vibe, small-batch artisanal producers, and obsession with all things local. The burgeoning bar scene also means you can look forward to innovative cocktails and a significant emphasis on home-brewed spirits, including names such as Four Pillars Gin and Sullivans Cove Whisky (which you can also sample at their cellar doors).
At the risk of invoking scenes from The Hangover Part III, Bangkok at night transforms into a labyrinthine night market filled with scents and sounds that seem to bubble endlessly from a cauldron of street hawkers, hole-in-the-wall cafes, and decadent sweet treats. Specifically, Chinatown is one of the best places to catch a glimpse of local life. Take a jaunt down Yarowat Rode, where random eats abound, where you can graze on small plates of street food, savour sticks of spicy sausages, and chow down on some dim sum, before finishing off with some sweet Chinese desserts (with a Bangkok twist, of course). Open your eyes, ignite your imagination and excite your taste buds with the sweet, the salty, the sour and the spicy flavours of the region.
The Fijians were once cannibals (a practice that stopped after the first Methodist missionaries to the Fijians were cannibalised, thankfully) but that shouldn’t deter you from meeting with the villages. There are many agencies that provide welcome ceremonies with a village as par t of a day tour. Most of the welcome ceremony revolves around the Kava root, a pepper plant grown in the higher, mountainous regions of Fiji. The simple ceremony involves guests presenting the root for an inspection before it is mulched with water. It is served to the leader’ of the visitors first after a few incantations and then offered to everyone else in the group. The slightly bitter taste isn’t what regular consumers of Kava are after; rather, it is the tingly, almost numbing sensation that immediately hits the tongue that Kava drinkers enjoy. Kava is mostly recreational and is a replacement for wine, a drink the predominantly Methodist Fijians choose to shun as a sign of their faith.
When visiting the villages, be sure to bring stationery sets, clothes and toys if you can. Children are educated within the village for free but often lack basic school supplies. Many of the villagers still farm but only enough for their own families and are therefore unable to provide stationery for their young ones. Most children complete school through the gracious donations of visitors. Leave your gift or small cash donation with the village chief who will then distribute it among the families who need them. In some villages, seashell markets are where the families make their extra income. Conical seashells are collected from the beaches and turned into elegant bracelets to be sold to visitors.
Village tours are often p art of a bigger activity and each experience is always different. To truly experience the warm hospitality of the Fijians, hop onboard the Sigatoka River Safari. The journey starts on a jet speedboat that speeds through the winding Sigatoka River to reach Naveyago, the village of national Fijian rugby player and gold medallist, Semi Kunatani. During the journey, a local guide will make stops along the river to explain Fijian customs and history. Once at the village, the welcome ceremony is performed and after a healthy gulp of Kava, a homely lunch is served to the visitors, followed by a round of dancing and singing with the villagers.
The Kava ceremony is not all that Fijian villages are known for. Mereke Tours brings travellers to one of the very first village settlements in Fiji, Vei Sei Sei Vuda, for a showcase of other rituals performed by Fijian villages. The tribesmen perform a welcome dance and a particularly intimidating war dance while holding spears. Then the women take centre stage and sing harmonised versions of folk songs that have been passed down from generation to generation. Before the village ceremonies, the tour makes a stop at the Garden of the Sleeping Giant, a botanical garden nestled in a valley. The garden is most well known for having Fiji’s largest collection of orchids. It is worth having a local guide with you, as they would be able to point out various plants of medicinal value that Fijians all across the country still use in treating illnesses and wounds.
See the impact Christianity has had on the Fijians by attending their Sim day morning church service. Guests on the intimate Blue Lagoon Cruises can attend service with the Soso villagers during their three- or seven-day cruises. The village welcomes all to their congregation with boisterous a capella singing by the choir. This is concluded with a sermon where the minister does make the effort to explain as best as he can the message of the week in English. Many familiar with Methodist liturgy will find the flow of the service similar, as most Fijians identify with the Methodist denomination, the work of Methodist missionaries’ tireless evangelising to Fijians during the late 19th century.
Apart from visiting Soso, Blue Lagoon Cruises also offers trips to various deserted islands, such as Monuriki, the island where the Tom Hanks film, Cast Away, was filmed. There are also daily snorkelling and diving excursions into the Pacific Ocean where snorkeflers are more than likely to see blue tangs and angelfish ducking in and out into coral habitats, as well as starfish and nurse sharks roaming the ocean floor. Most agencies will take you on a modernised village tour and very few are willing to talk about their cannibalistic past. While Zip Fiji does not bring guests to any Fijian villages, it does allow participants to zipline through an abandoned Fijian settlement and explore a cave where Fijian cannibals once hid out in while waiting for unsuspecting prey. The three-hour adventure is 3km worth of ziplines woven into a truly spectacular setting of incredible caves, canyons and panoramic ocean views.
Australians call Queensland ‘the Sunshine State’ for good reason – with 300 sun-filled days a year, it’s the spiritual home of the Aussie beach holiday, with thousands of swimmable areas dotting its breathtaking coastline. Stretching nearly 7,000 kilometres, Queensland’s coast is only just shy of the distance between New York and Los Angeles!
A visit to this northeastern state simply wouldn’t be complete without a dip into one of the great natural wonders of the world – the Great Barrier Reef, home not just to some of the world’s best diving and snorkelling, but also more than 900 islands and some of the best luxury resorts in the country. As one of the world’s largest coral reef systems, the Great Barrier Reef is home to thousands of marine species, including dugongs, turtles, dolphins, whales, more than 1,500 species of fish and 4,000 types of molluscs.
Singapore Airlines and Qantas fly multiple times daily, non-stop from Singapore to Brisbane, while SilkAir flies thrice weekly to Cairns. From Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Airlines, Qantas and SilkAir fly to Brisbane and Cairns via Singapore. From there, find plenty of connecting flights to several more domestic airports dotted about the coastline. Indulge with a stay at the One&Only Hayman Island Resort. The entirety of Hay man, the very northernmost island in the Whitsundays, is dedicated to this resort, leaving guests free to roam about from tip to toe. They even offer helicopter and seaplane rides-for guests only.
Located on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia is Selangor, the most populous state of Malaysia. For decades, travellers have visited Selangor for its mix of urban and natural attractions. Those familiar with Selangor will be no stranger to Sunway Lagoon, the National Zoo of Malaysia, Batu Caves, Kanching Rainforest Waterfall, and many more diverse points of interest that make for a fun-packed trip to Selangor. The state enjoys a high standard of living, thanks to the modernisation and urbanisation of the Greater Klang Valley area, which includes a number of well-known urban centres, such as Shah Alam, Klang, Petaling Jaya, Subangjaya and Cyberjaya. It also counts its education, infrastructure, communications and healthcare facilities as among the best in the region, according to Invest Selangor Berhad.
Due to its high liveable nature and overall lower cost of living, as compared to cities like Singapore, Selangor has seen a boost in the number of visitors who come to Selangor for medical treatment. There are many who now head to Selangor for medical trips that involve surgeries and long term palliative care. The medical trips to Selangor also serve as opportunities for patients to take restful holidays with their families here. While in the recovery stage after a long operation or illness, Selangor offers light physical activities at attractions like biking through paddy fields in Sekinchan.
Its dose proximity to Kuala Lumpur also means patients and family members can also enjoy the cosmopolitan urban offerings in the capital. In total, there are 26 private panel hospitals in Selangor registered under the Malaysian Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC) offering various medical treatments. There are also plans to develop Selangor into a world-class health metropolis to serve as a crucial part of the ASEAN healthcare system, and as a medical tourism hub to neighbouring countries.
Tourism Selangor will be showcasing wellness and health-related exhibitors, sponsors and presentations during the upcoming Selangor Wellness Living Expo 2017 (SWELL 2017), which will be held from 24 to 26 February 2017 at the Setia City Convention Centre in Shah Alam. Visitors to the expo will also be able to find out more on ways to take charge of their own health and make informed decisions on their healthcare. Visitors will also be able to view showcases from participating hospitals in Selangor dedicated to health tourism, while also asking questions one-on-one with leading healthcare and wellness professionals and specialists. As an added bonus, visitors can also receive a free check up and chances to win prizes.
Tokyo may offer sights and sounds but after a long day of travelling, there’s nothing like heading back to a quiet neighbourhood for peaceful rest. Best Western Rembrandt Hotel Tokyo Machida offers value accommodation the Best Western name has long been associated with in a quaint neighbourhood near numerous conveniences.
At the Best Western Rembrandt Hotel Tokyo Machida, guests can choose from eight different room types, from a modest Deluxe Single or a two-room Luxury Suite fitted with Airweave Mattress Pillows. All rooms come with quality Simmons beds, and include facilities like multi-charger, work-desk, high-speed internet access and a full set of bath amenities. Rooms also face out to a picturesque view of the bustling city below and views of the Tanzawa Mountains in the distance.
For peckish guests, Best Western Rembrandt Hotel Tokyo Machida offers three dining restaurants. For casual dining, head to Carillon for international cuisines served at a buffet. Otherwise, head to Long-Fuang for traditional Chinese cuisine or to Yumezakura for a smorgasbord of Japanese dishes; both restaurants are located on the third floor of the hotel.
The Best Western Rembrandt Hotel Tokyo Machida is just a two-minute walk from the JR Yokohama Line’s Machida Station and eight minutes from the Odakyu Line’s Machida Station as well. The subway stations offer a quick and convenient way to access some of Tokyo’s great attractions. Visit Asakusa, which is famous for its Senso-ji Buddhist temple and its frequent matsuri (Shinto festivals) throughout the year. Visitors should also check out the towering Tokyo Skytree and head to the observation deck for a 360° view of Tokyo from 450m above ground.
For more million-dollar views, travellers cannot miss out sightseeing of Mt Fuji from their itineraries. As one of the greatest places for shopping, travellers must also make their way to Shinjuku for the latest in Japanese fashion, and to Isetan, a Japanese departmental store dedicated to high-fashion food, clothing and homewares. Members under the Best Western Rewards can also redeem a ¥5,000 gift card to be used at Isetan.
For families with children and those young at heart who will be spending a bulk of their time in Tokyo at the happiest place on earth -Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, it would be best to stay at Best Western Tokyo Nishikasai. This Best Western is situated just 15 minutes away from the theme parks. Best Western Tokyo Nishikasai is also quite different from other Best Western hotels in the area because of its Sky Chapel located on the seventh floor. Sky Chapel holds 60 guests fora small, private wedding ceremony in its pristine white halls. After the ceremony, guests can walk outside to the outdoor space for a time of socialising with other guests while checking out the views of the gleaming city, or hold a reception at Party, a ballroom situated just next to the chapel.
Avenue’s location and qualities are important to MICE organisers when identifying a hotel. Multifaceted meeting rooms and event spaces that on accommodate various delegates, functional facilities within the hotel and accessibility to explore the city at leisure are key highlights. Understanding the market needs, New World Millennium Hong Kong introduces the “All-round Meeting at Your Hand” package for meeting planners to take advantage of its list of benefits.
To satisfy the needs of guests with precision and flexibility, the hotel features a fan-shaped, pillage-free Grand Ballroom and nine function venues of varying sizes. All the venues are highly configurable and ideal for intimate meetings or large-scale events that can take up to 500 guests. A professional events management team is present in house to help keep an eye out for details, attend to lighting and audio visual equipment needs and ensure a successful event – regardless of size.
Event planners who book now till 29 December 2016 will get to enjoy various tiers of benefits depending on the number of rooms booked. For a booking of 10 or more rooms with a minimum stay of two nights, enjoy a special rate of S$348++ per night per room. Delegates get to enjoy daily buffet breakfast at Cafe East, complimentary laundry for three pieces of clothing per stay and welcome drinks. For bookings with more than 50 guestrooms, extra perks include an early check-in timing of 10am and late checkout timing of 3pm, free upgrade on food variety within the meeting package and possibly room upgrades with complimentary bottle of red wine in four selected rooms. Bookings of more than 100 guestrooms will include gratuity such as a hosted round-trip limousine pickup to and fro airport for VIP delegates of the group and a complimentary secretarial room throughout the meeting, subject to availability at the time of confirmation.
Featuring 464 modern contemporary guestrooms and suites overlooking the impressive city skylines of Victoria Harbour, the hotel ensures outstanding levels of hospitality to match its luxurious accommodation setting in allowing both business and leisure travellers to have a pleasant experience to remember. Beyond the meeting spaces and guestrooms, The Health Club located on the 15th floor of the hotel offers state-of-the-art facilities for health-conscious guest who might want to take a refreshing swim or pump some iron in the gymnasium. For those taking public transportation, New World Millennium Hong Kong Hotel is a mere five-minute walk from MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui Station and Hung Horn Station.
Tsim Sha Tsui is a giant world bazaar with many international brands lining up the streets, perfect for shopping addicts to destress after a business event. Alternatively, you may walk over to The Avenue of Stars to enjoy the varied neon lightshow that mingle together with the city’s mega skyscrapers to form a mesmerising night display.
Thailand’s leading hotel operator, Centara Hotels & Resorts, has expanded its presence in Krabi with the opening of its third property. Centara by Centara Phu Pano Resort Krabi is located near Ao Nang Beach, a prime tourist destination. The new property’s design elements borrow themes from the story of Hanuman, God-king of the apes and a central figure in the Hindu epic Ramayana. Hanuman was also the original Indian name that the Andaman Sea was known by.
The affordable resort oasis features 158 appointed guestrooms with views of the swimming pool or surrounding undulating mountains. Its central location just 35 minutes from Krabi International Airport makes it a convenient place to stay for couples, families and groups of friends that enjoy quick weekend getaways. Nearby activitie include island-hopping, diving and snorkelling. Otherwise, stay indoors to enjoy facilities like an outdoor pool, bicycles for rent and fitness centre. All-day dining is available at Mix Bistro that serves authentic Southern Thai-style dishes and international favourites.
A thrilling new ski destination that provides all the luxurious amenities that Niseko offers, but without the tiresome crowd, Kiroro resort is a sanctuary in the mountains of Hokkaido. Since travellers are all about bespoke experiences these days, this is the place to be to anticipate uncompromised, unspoilt and undiscovered trails for skiing. Be it in snowy seasons or lush summer days, visitors can enjoy the pristine Japanese wilderness all year long. With an average snowfall of 21m, Kiroro remains the top snowfall valley in the region, and one with the longest skiing season too. Adrenaline junkies and snow lovers will be pleased to learn of its high mountains, standing at 600m, and smooth mountain slopes for an unparalleled experience.
Choose from two distinct hotels when you reside in Kiroro. Sheraton Hokkaido Kiroro Resort is built with a modem contemporary design, and is the perfect haven for avid skiers. Hit the slopes at dawn and by late afternoon, unwind within the healing waters of the Tokiwa Geothermal Spa. Alternatively, choose to occupy The Kiroro, A Tribute Portfolio Hotel, surrounded by two magnificent peaks that come with breathtaking views from any room. If lounging by the spa does not sound favourable, try the Asari View restaurant located at the peak of Kiroro Resort. Sitting at 1,190m above sea level, visitors are bound to be mesmerised by the panoramic view of nature and the snow town.
World-class facilities, surrounded by the heavenly elements of nature, include snow bubble ball, a snow park, a winter forest tour, a panoramic forest tour, a snow Segway, a snow buggy, a snow banana boat, a mini snowmobile and of course, snow rafting. Most of the activities are child friendly, which makes it the ideal place fora family vacation. There is even an Annie Kids Ski Academy within the premises, founded by gold and silver Olympic medallist Annie Famose, to educate children on the endless possibilities of activities during winter.
If you are a Thai-movie fan, you might be pleased to know that Kiroro Resort was the main location for the highly acclaimed Thai film, “One Day”. The film revolves around many of Kiroro’s alluring landmark features that any traveller can experience too. Drop by the Lucky ‘N Love Bell that sits atop Asari Peak with your loved one. This attraction was built in 2006 by the government and used as a popular lovers’ sanctuary for proposals. Rumour has it that couples who ring the bell twice are destined to be married. Coincidentally, Kiroro’s real chapel holds many actual romantic unions.
Designed to harmonise the interior with its surroundings, the chapel’s beauty is reflected contrastingly in summer or winter, day or night, but mesmerising all the same. Cafe Crest is a popular spot for revitalising skiers and snowboarders after enjoying the popular powder snow in the region. Drop by for a hot drink or snack via the Nakamine route chairlift to recharge before the next round of skiing. Finally, Kiroro Town is the centre of attention and home to resort markets, onsens and restaurants. During winter, the snowy scene forms the perfect canvas for an Instagram-worthy picture.
Upstairs at Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles – Situated atop die landmark 1927 United Artists building, this hip indoor-outdoor lounge offers an urban sanctuary in the heart of Downtown LA (DTLA). The stylish Moroccan-themed decor comes from local design collective Commune, with a concrete pool inspired by the late artist Donald Judd’s residence in Marfa. Cocktails pay tribute to neighbourhoods life Little Tokyo and Hollywood & Vine, while mouthwatering snacks include California-style avocado toast and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos.
Catch LA – Since opening in late September, (his West Coast outpost of the NYC favourite has become the place to see and be seen in the City of Angels. The sprawling 12,000-square-foot space features an expansive, 340-seat outdoor dining area — complete with a retractable roof for the rare LA rainy day — overlooking the twinkling West Hollywood Design District. But itfs the scene inside that offers the most impressive views of all, best enjoyed from a comer banquette over a plate of truffle tuna sashimi
The Walker Inn – A place for serious cocktail enthusiasts, this 27-seat Koreatown den Is accessed via a discreet entry behind the Normandie Club at Hotel Normandie. Make a reservation in advance to secure a spot at the seven-person bar, where the Walker Inn’s talented mixologists lead guests through an omakase experience of two or more carefully crafted cocktail courses. The menu changes about every six weeks and always sticks to a specific idea. Previous thanes have run the gamut from “Pacific Coast Highway” to “Wet (Hot) American Summer.”
Doheny Room – The latest concept from the hospitality wizards at SBE Entertainment, this restaurant-cum-lounge is where the pretty young things of Los Angeles go to let loose. Wednesdays or Saturdays are promoter rights — meaning you should probably know someone If you want to get past the velvet ropes. Once in, grab a table by the tropical wall, order a Delgado Dorado, and soak in the scene.
Gjelina – Since opening in 2008, this perennially packed eatery has helped transform the once sleepy Venice surfing haven into a highly sought-after neighbourhood. The rustic space has a humming communal bar area in the front and a courtyard in the bade, with farm-to-table plates meant for sharing. Start with one of Chef Travis Lett’s signature flatbread plazas before moving on to the grilled lamb ribs and crispy duck confit.
Tower Bar – Located inside Jeff Klein’s Sunset Tower Hotel, this elegant dining room and terrace strikes the perfect balance between star-studded and understated Legendary maitre d‘Dimitri Dimitrov watches over the intimate, 80-seat space, where classic American dishes like burgers and dams casino combine with one of the best dirty martinis in town to offer an Old Hollywood fed.
MYSURU DASARA – For 10 days every year, Mysuru magically transforms itself from a laid-back town to a bustling, joyous and vivid centre of life during the famous Mysuru Dasara. The entire town turns into a pageant of splendour, custom, tradition, pomp and show, with gaiety, music, dance, and frolic, and a bit of the contemporary thrown in. At the heart of this is the Mysuru Palace which is not only decorated and lit up but is also where the scion of the erstwhile royal family holds a traditional darbar and many concerts are hosted each day.
Elsewhere in the city, there are sports contests, wrestling matches, theatre, music and folk dance performances, a huge fair on the exhibition grounds, adventure activities, flower shows and food melas, and a host of other activities. The spectacle culminates in spectacular fashion on Vijayadashami with the Jambu Savari, a long procession with elephants, mounted police, vintage cars and floats, and ends with a torchlight parade at nightfall.
CHITRA SANTHE – This is street art at its best. For a whole day, on a Sunday in January, the road in front of Karnataka’s premier art institute, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, in Bengaluru is closed to traffic and artists from all over the country display their work. There is possibly nothing like this anywhere else as thousands of artists—professional, amateur, hobbyists and part-time—get a single platform to showcase their talent. Lakhs of visitors arrive to savour this open-air display.