Travel

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Get in Gear

Cycling blends the best of slow-and fast-paced travel, and its popularity among travelers has grown rapidly in recent years. Accessibility is the key to its appeal: you don’t need to have the thighs of an athlete to have yourself a two-wheeled adventure, and some trips even offer e-bike alternatives. So whether you’re looking to pedal flat plains, conquer rolling hills or challenge yourself to some unforgiving mountainous terrain, there’s a bike trip out there for you.

  1. Peru – Accelerate Through the Andes

    chinchero-plateau

    Chinchero Plateau

Pedal through colonial Cusco, the Sacsayhuaman ruins and the salt pans of the Chinchero Plateau with World Expeditions’ Cycle the Andes tour. Explore the Sacred Valley and the village of Calca before taking a ride out to see that most majestic of Incan mountain citadels, the ancient ruins of Machu Picchu.

Fitness level: Moderate to hard – lots of off-road cycling at high altitude

  1. Croatia – Grape Expectations
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Join KE Adventure Travel on its new Cycle the Wine Roads of Istria tour. Swap the beach-fringed peninsula for the area’s lesser-known green interior. Pedal Tuscan-like countryside pit-stopping at medieval Grožnjan, seaside Poreč and larger Rovinj – punctuate your journey with tipples from wine cellars en route.

Fitness level: Basic – 40km a day but at a leisurely pace on quiet country roads

  1. Spain – Pedal the Pilgrims’ Route
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Cycle the Camino de Santiago from León to Santiago de Compostela with Echelon. Cross Hospital de Órbigo’s bridge and pedal forests, mountains and villages between Molinaseca and Fervenza.

Fitness level: Moderate – daily climbs

malaysia-romance

Cupid Lives Here

The Best Places for A Little Romance in Malaysia

Malaysia is a destination of endless possibilities, rich in hospitality, culture, food, history and natural heritage. It’s the perfect idyll for couples and honeymooners, from its picture-perfect beaches and sumptuous cuisine to amazing adventure and outdoor activities, not to mention some of the friendliest locals in Southeast Asia. Throw in a favorable exchange rate which makes it one of the best value-for-money destinations in Southeast Asia, and no one does affordable luxury better – leaving lots of spare change for celebratory Champagne. The perfect place for Cupid to take aim, here are our top romantic resorts in Malaysia.

The Majestic – Kuala Lumpur

A bedroom in The Majestic Hotel - Kuala Lumpur

A bedroom in The Majestic Hotel – Kuala Lumpur

Malaysia’s largest and most cosmopolitan city, Kuala Lumpur offers up the bright lights and all the sophistication you’d expect. For a romantic getaway, take a break from the hustle and bustle by simply making your way to The Majestic. Regarded as one of the best colonial hotels in Southeast Asia, and the only heritage hotel in Kuala Lumpur, this iconic landmark offers couples a relaxing and luxurious oasis within the heart of the city’s busy downtown area.

Originally built in the 1930s, The Majestic has long been the venue of choice for glamorous social events and historical political meetings. Conveniently located in one of the city’s most intriguing and walkable neighborhoods, couples don’t have to go far to enjoy a romantic evening stroll. The hotel also stands opposite the grand 1910 railway station, and many of the city’s favorite tourist attractions are also close by, including the National Museum, National Mosque, Islamic Arts Museum, the Perdana Botanical Gardens (often referred to as Lake Gardens), and bird and butterfly parks. The Majestic also offers a “Leading Romance” experience, with highlights such as flowers and a bottle of Champagne in your suite on arrival, in-room butler service, and an indulgent two-hour “English Afternoon Tea” spa treatment at The Majestic Spa. It’s the ideal setting for a romantic rendezvous in every sense. majestickl.com

The Datai – Langkawi

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Situated on the mystical island of Langkawi, The Datai is the perfect getaway for couples seeking refuge from their busy lives. Nestled in the heart of an ancient rainforest and overlooking one of the world’s best beaches (as rated by National Geographic), The Datai is a captivating resort that blends smoothly with its surroundings. A stay here is not only guaranteed to reignite romance and passion with your loved one, it’s also a great opportunity to reconnect with nature.

As soon as you enter the resort, you’ll immediately understand why The Datai has won more than 80 awards, including the World Luxury Hotel Award 2014 and 2015. Every room, suite and villa embraces the beauty of the lush rainforest and offers unbeatable views of the breathtaking Andaman Sea. Sleek guest rooms are sophisticated, with tropical wood floors, shantung-silk wall panels and sprawling marble baths.

Throw in some award-winning dining options, an indulgent spa and a variety of amenities for your pleasure, and it will be hard to leave! For adventurous couples, there are plenty of inviting activities on offer nearby. Participate in an interactive Thai culinary cooking class paired with complementary wine, take a ride on Southeast Asia’s steepest cable car, meander along one of Langkawi’s breathtaking nature walks or unwind on a sunset cruise with your loved one. The Datai Langkawi is the epitome of a romantic tropical retreat. thedatai.com/Langkawi

Cameron Highlands Resort – Pahang

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Set amidst tea plantations at the highest point of Malaysia’s spectacular Titiwangsa mountain range, Cameron Highlands Resort embodies all the romance of Cameron Highlands’ grand colonial heritage. The boutique hideaway is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, lush greenery and Tudor-style cottages.

The resort features 56 beautifully appointed rooms and suites, and fronts Cameron Highlands’ 18-hole golf course. It also houses the third wellness centre of the award-winning Spa Village group, which offers exotic treatments focusing on the healing and restorative properties of tea. Endearingly known to some as the “little corner of England in Asia”, couples will enjoy all the character and charm of a region that has remained largely unchanged since colonial times, as well as its cool climate and fresh air.

With temperatures ranging between 15°C and 25°C, Cameron Highlands Resort is ideal to visit all year round. cameronhighlandsresort.com

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Resort Report

The coolest new hotels, trips and events around the globe.

St. Regis Style Comes to Langkawi

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Langkawi Island – Malaysia

Located off the west coast of Malaysia, the island of Langkawi is known as a jewel in the country’s tourism crown thanks to its natural beauty in which verdant, jungle-clad mountains and shimmering turquoise waters feature strongly. It’s already home to several well-known five-star resorts, but the opening of a prestigious St. Regis luxury resort in April this year is set to attract even more luxury-seeking travelers from around the globe.

With 85 suites and four water villas, each boasting a spectacular view of the Straits of Malacca, guests can expect the five-star luxury and bespoke services for which every St. Regis property is known, including British-trained personal butlers on hand around-the-clock. Incredible pampering treatments and specialty massages are available in the Spa Salon, while three restaurants and three bars will cater to every culinary and libationary whim. The resort’s signature bar also serves up the hotel group’s legendary Bloody Mary cocktail, born at the flagship St. Regis New York hotel in the early 1900s. stregis.com/Langkawi

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

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The Orient Express Train by Belmond

“It’s my experience that most folk who ride trains could care less where they’re going. For them it’s the journey itself and the people they meet along the way”. Author David Baldacci was writing about a train journey in the USA, but could just as well have been writing about the luxury train journeys offered by Belmond, the name behind the iconic Orient-Express. Renowned for its journeys through Europe and Thailand, plus the Royal Scotsman, which runs through the wilds of Scotland, Belmond has now launched its first train journeys in Ireland.

The only luxury train in Ireland, Belmond Grand Hibernian will offer a selection of journeys from Dublin for only 40 passengers in 20 en suite cabins. Visit Dublin, Belfast and Cork, and you can enjoy daily excursions such as a private tour of the Jameson Distillery, a tour of the Lakes of Killarney by pony and trap, a private tour of the Titanic Experience and a visit to the Old Bushmill’s Distillery. This is just a sample of the daily excursions on offer, which have been designed to suit a vast range of interests. The journeys are a unique opportunity to immerse in the fascinating historical, musical and literary history of this bewitching country. belmond.com

Classic Hollywood Charm

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Ivory Restaurant – The Mondrian Hotel, Los Angeles, U.S.A

LA’s hoteliers and restaurateurs must spend many a sleepless night thinking about how they can tap into the public’s eternal obsession with Hollywood. One of West Hollywood’s original luxury boutique hotels, the Mondrian on Sunset Boulevard, has recently opened the Ivory Restaurant. The 700msq-space takes full advantage of Mondrian LA’s classic setting and sweeping city views – and inspiration from Hollywood’s golden age. Delicious Californian cuisine from a menu designed by Chef Brian Malarkey; a selection of house-infused signature cocktails; a globally inspired, robust wine list; an oft-played grand piano and a relaxed-yet-refined ambience of lounge seating and varied indoor-and-outdoor dining options all combine to create a venue that’s a must-visit when in LA. With a glamorous and quintessentially “old Hollywood” vibe, the restaurant – and indeed the hotel – have wide appeal to locals and visitors alike, but as such, early bookings are essential. ivoryla.com

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Chrushing on Courchevel

We realised we weren’t in Kansas anymore when we skied to the door of Courchevel’s Annapurna Hôtel (annapurna-courchevel.com) for lunch. Instead of clumping through a crowded buffet leaving a trail of snow behind us, we were met by a lovely lady who explained we should take off our ski boots. We did.

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The Annapurna Hôtel

She then gave us slippers to put on and said she would heat up our boots while we ate. What? Really? We then quietly went through to the stylish restaurant, past the massive heated indoor pool, through the spectacular bar with coffee tables made of redwood slabs and a counter topped with gorgeous ice-like glass, and sat down at a table which had views looking up the impossibly pretty mountains. It was that easy. From the slope to fine dining – with accompanying wines – in minutes.

On the Slopes

Our lunchtime introduction set the tone for the rest of our stay in this luxurious resort. Courchevel is known for its five-and even six-star accommodation, its bounty of Michelin-starred restaurants and its high-end shopping. All of which, when added to the world-class ski and snowboard terrain, attracts A-list celebrities the likes of Posh and Becks, William and Kate, Giorgio Armani and Russian squillionaire, Roman Abramovich. Most celebrities will be found in Courchevel, which is the highest of the four villages making up the resort. It sits at 1,850 metres, with Courchevel Moriond at 1,650, Courchevel Village at 1,550 and Courchevel Le Praz at 1,300. All the villages are very cleverly designed, with most properties ski-in/ski-out, and it’s easy to ski to all of them.

We’re lucky enough to be at the legendary Le Chabichou (lechabichou.com), a Relais & Châteaux property with impeccable service, a two Michelin-star restaurant, huge spa and ski shop with young men who lay your skis out on the snow in the mornings and help you into your boots. We really could get used to this.

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Le Chabichou Hotel

As Courchevel is so huge, with 58 ski lifts, some 150 kilometres of terrain and 95 trails (or 96, depending on who you ask), we organise a guide/instructor for the morning. The lovely Francoise meets us and off we swoop into a world of white. We are almost speechless as we make our own tracks in fresh powder. We ski down to Courchevel Village then back up to the top of Chenus and down to the village of La Tania, which has spectacular runs through gorgeous forests of Nordic pines, spruce and fir.

My face hurts from smiling and I hear myself mumbling, “Oh wow” over and over again like a stuck record. Francoise keeps us moving with an “Allez, allez”, and we crisscross the valleys heading up La Tania gondola, up another two chairs and finally up the Saulire tram to take in the view. We alight at 2,730-odd metres and have the world at our feet.

We stop for a hot chocolate at the Panoramic Restaurant perched on the clifftop. It is absolute bliss. Francoise points out Mont Blanc, Aguille de Fruit and other peaks – the names mesmerising in her exquisite French accent. She also shows us the way to Méribel, the next resort over and part of the mind-boggling Les Trois Vallées – the biggest ski area in the world. The resorts of Courchevel, Méribel, Les Menuires, Saint Martin de Belleville and Val Thorens are all linked, and a 3 Vallées (les3vallees.com) lift ticket allows you to ski at all of them.

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The Mont Blanc Massif

Another “allez” and we’re off again, past a giant red gorilla that’s one of 10 animal sculptures that Parisian artist Richard Orlinski has created around the resort. They certainly make for good Instagram shots. We ski from the top of Saulire, down towards the steep and short airport runway where private jets and helicopters drop off the rich and famous, and venture up and over to Courchevel Moriond. Francoise waves au revoir as we hoon down a host of big, beautiful runs – our favourites being Chapelets and runs off the Pyramide t-bar.

Star Dining

As a reward for all that skiing, we tumble into the welcoming Cucina Angelina (portetta.com) at Portetta hotel in Courchevel Moriond. Recently opened by popular English chef Angela Hartnett – who was a protégé of Gordon Ramsay and has the Michelin-star Murano restaurant in London – this fine Italian restaurant has a beautiful outdoor terrace with a fire pit, comfy lounges and trees decorated with fairy lights.

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Cucina Angelina Bar and Restaurant

Angela herself is in the house, but we’re too busy demolishing the exquisite Pollo alla Milanese accompanied by a lovely local white wine to bother her. With lovely restaurants dotted all around the mountains and in the villages, a long-ish lunch before an afternoon of skiing is par for the course here.

Courchevel has seven Michelin-star restaurants, and the free shuttle bus connecting all the villages makes it easy to get around. We try the new (and, as yet, un-starred) Koori Restaurant at the swanky L’Apogée Hotel (lapogeecourchevel.com), and are blown away by the exquisite Japanese dishes that we see prepared in front of us, including soft crab tempura wrapped in flambéed salmon, and mochis (Japanese rice cakes).

At Le Chabichou, chefs Michel Rochedy and Stéphane Buron gained their second Michelin star in 2014 with inventive cuisine using fresh produce and herbs from their own garden. The restaurant has been an institution amongst food lovers for many years and if you’re a budding MasterChef, there are cooking classes (in English) once a week. The bistro, La Chabotté, was added in 2011.

For a more casual meal without foregoing style, Les Suites de la Potinière (suites-potiniere.com) is perfect. Our plans for a quick, light dinner at this bar-and-restaurant-in-one soon evaporate, and end with a dessert of chocolate pudding featuring a salty caramel interior and vanilla-infused French custard, followed by the local digestif, Génépy. Made from a local plant only found in these parts in summer, it might knock your socks off at first taste, but really grows on you.

Star Spas

Courchevel is the land of spas, and bath robes are well and truly in. You’ll see people in their robes and slippers sauntering around their hotels on their way to, or from, the spa. The Spa by Sothys at Le Strato (hotelstrato.com/the-spa) is stunning, created out of slate and stone, and with glamorous touches like a huge chandelier over the large heated pool. The relaxation room is lavishly luxe. After the treatment, we melt into a lounge in the bar, staring out at the sparkling lights of Courchevel backed by the ghostly loom of the mountains.

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The Spa by Sothys at Le Strato

Le Chabichou’s spa is enormous and has ice baths, hot baths, salt caves, a pool, Turkish bath and a banya (no, I don’t want to be whipped with birch branches), while Le Spa de L’Apogée at L’Apogee Courchevel is smaller but equally as beautiful, and uses Sisley products.

The biggest spa-cum-aquatic playground is the new Aquamotion center (aquamotion-courchevel.com), which opened in December 2015. It’s an architectural marvel offering something for everyone – a huge restaurant, rock climbing wall, surf wave, ice pool, saltwater cave, heated indoor and outdoor pools, waterslides, mini cliff jump and lively 110-metre wild water rapid. We try just about all of them, then move into the wellness center with its 19 treatment rooms and our waiting massage therapists.

Aquamotion-Courchevel-Auer Weber-© Aldo Amoretti

Aquamotion center

Fun and Games

Apart from the incredible skiing in Courchevel, there’s a host of activities available. The sledding track is long, windy and fast, and the snowshoeing is scenic and informative. There are nine snowshoe circuits ranging from 45 minutes to three hours. One of the prettiest is the walk to La Rosière, featuring a gorgeous lake beside a forest.

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La Rosière Lake

There are guided snowshoe walks, as well as free cross-country skiing and Nordic walking trails. Hot air balloon rides and scenic helicopter flights are available, or you can do a tandem parachute jump down over the winter landscape.

There’s ice skating, ski touring, shopping at places like Moncler, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior and Fendi, and every Wednesday night, there’s night skiing with a fun atmosphere in the Verdons area. And if you have any energy left, remember you’re on the doorstep of Les Trois Vallées, with more than 170 lifts and 600 kilometres of terrain. Sacré bleu! Pass me the Génépy.

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Spend Your Summer in Hong Kong

A short flight from India, Hong Kong is a bustling metropolis and business hub. More importantly, it makes for a fantastic family destination. So, what are you waiting for? Read on and start planning your next vacation!

01 Take in Stunning Views

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Victoria Harbor

For incredible 360-degree views of the territory and the famed Victoria Harbor, head to the Sky100 Hong Kong Observation Deck, which – located on the 100th floor of the International Commerce Centre – is the highest indoor observation deck in the city. A high-speed lift will whisk you up in just 60 seconds. You can also explore the observation deck’s state-of-the-art interactive exhibition with a fascinating multimedia tour of Hong Kong’s history and culture.

02 Explore Noah’s Ark

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Noah’s Ark

If you’re looking for an experience the kids will truly enjoy, visit Noah’s Ark, a theme park situated in Ma Wan Hong Kong. The world’s only full-size replica of the Biblical Ark, it overlooks the Rambler Channel and Tsing Ma Bridge and features fun activities and exhibits like life-size animal sculptures, a 4D theatre, an “adventureland,” as well as a resort.

03 Cruise Along

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The FlowRider® surf simulator

Hong Kong, situated in the heart of Asia, has long been celebrated as one of the world’s favorite ports. Sailing itineraries here range from short voyages for neophyte cruisers to epic year-long excursions that circle the globe. After gaining fans around the world through its iconic on-board experiences, Voyager of the Seas® returns to Hong Kong, with ground-breaking offerings like the FlowRider® surf simulator, an outdoor movie screen, and new specialty dining options.

04 Hop On a Tram

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Hong Kong Tramways

Hong Kong was once a British colony, and, despite its cosmopolitan nature, you can still find remnants of its colonial past peeking through. The biggest icon of this history would be its tramways, locally referred to as ‘Ding-dings.’ Trams have been running between the east and the west along the northern coast of Hong Kong Island for over a hundred years, since 1904. Today, Hong Kong Tramways has the world’s largest fleet of double-deck tramcars, and it continues to remain a major source of public transport, carrying an average of 200,000 passengers every day. Unlike other modes of public transport in Hong Kong, the fare charged is uniform – regardless of the distance travelled. For the best experience, board a unique 1920s-style tram revamped with an open-top upper deck and a vintage cabin to take you on an hour-long tour.

05 Shop till You Drop

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Harbour City in Kowloon

Hong Kong’s malls offer a diverse range of shopping, food and entertainment options. Keep your wits about you when you enter Harbour City in Kowloon, because this mall is so huge you might never want to leave.

Hong Kong’s largest mall is actually three malls in one – Ocean Terminal, Ocean Centre and Gateway Arcade – and contains over 450 shops, around 50 restaurants, three hotels and two cinemas. The kids’ section features 40 stores, which stock everything from toys to clothes. Also worth visiting is Times Square in Causeway Bay, which has 230 stores, a supermarket and over 20 restaurants dishing out top-grade Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Western fare. Thousands of people gather here on New Year’s Eve and be a part of the countdown and festivities that follow.

Retreat to Romance – Boutique Short Breaks

Escape daily life with a romantic sojourn. This selection of stylish hotels, resorts and retreats in Australia will help you beat the winter chill and ignite the flame of passion.

Calabash Bay Lodge

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Calabash Bay Lodge’s Veranda

Only one-hour north of Sydney lies the award-winning Calabash Bay Lodge – Berowra Waters’ best kept holiday secret.

Surrounded on all sides by sweeping riverfront national park, Calabash Bay Lodge is only accessible by boat, and has its own private jetty for boating, kayaking and fishing. The sunny, three-level, north-facing lodge features contemporary designer furnishings, a stunning master king suite, and floor-to-ceiling windows throughout, offering stunning views of the Hawkesbury River.

“Luxe Lovers” package

From $1,650 per night

  • Two nights’ exclusive use of Calabash Bay Lodge
  • Three-course dinner and lazy brunch cooked by a private chef (including provisions for a continental breakfast, lunch, dinner, and cheese platter)
  • Two-hour couples’ luxury spa package and massage
  • Sparkling wine and late checkout

Standard inclusions

From $455 per night

  • Return boat transfers
  • Complimentary Wi-Fi
  • Water toys including a boat, kayaks and fishing rods
  • HD entertainment with Foxtel Platinum, Sonos, Apple TV and Netflix

Ulladulla Guest House – Fine Hospitality in A Relaxing Setting

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Wine and Mezze Bar – Ulladulla Guest House

Famous for its warm hospitality, Ulladulla Guest House is the place to enjoy boutique accommodation, fine regional produce and indulgent pampering. All suites are 5-star, from stylish Executive Suites to divine self-contained units. With various on-site activities and beautiful grounds, you can guarantee a delightfully romantic trip away with your loved one.

Facilities

  • Swimming pool, jacuzzi and tropical gardens
  • Spa, sauna and gymnasium
  • Massage and beauty services
  • Art gallery
  • Elizans Wine & Mezze bar with excellent wine list
  • Local attractions nearby

Rates

From $122 per night, twin share – includes a two-night stay, breakfast daily and one dinner.

Falls Mountain Retreat

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Falls Mountain Retreat is a true oasis for the discerning traveller. The contemporary hideaway, nestled amongst acres of secluded and peaceful gardens on the edge of Blue Mountains National Park., is famous for the walking trails, cool waterfalls and breathtaking views right on its doorstep. In a stylish departure from the historic hotels, cottages and B&Bs for which the Blue Mountains is generally renowned, Falls Mountain Retreat offers a choice of modern self-contained apartments including loft studios, one-bedroom suites and two-bedroom apartments.

A romantic, real-flame open fireplace, deep and spacious two-person hydrotherapy massage spa bath and contemporary soft furnishings are standard with whichever option you choose. The style is warm, welcoming and refreshing, and the atmosphere peaceful and private – all the ingredients for a romantic getaway.

Facilities

  • Secluded fully self-contained accommodation
  • King- or queen-size beds
  • Two-person hydrotherapy spa bath
  • Open real-flame fireplace
  • Reverse cycle air conditioning
  • TV, DVD/MP3 player, CD stereo system
  • Full kitchen and laundry or kitchenette facility
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Taste of Tranquility – Crystal Serenity Cruise – Athens to Venice

How do you define luxury? Is it being cocooned in a huge dressing gown with a butler serving you tea on a silver tray, with bone china and little silken bags of the finest organic brew? Is it quality Champagne on tap and a Michelin-worthy dining experience? Or is it superlative service where your every need is constantly anticipated and fulfilled?

For me, luxury is all of these, combined with meticulous attention to detail and a feeling of exclusivity. And it can be found on every deck of Crystal Serenity.

An aptly-named vessel, Serenity is the quietest, most tranquil ship I have ever experienced: annoying announcements are kept to an absolute minimum, service is ultra-discreet, the Ink Spots croon softly while you eat your Cornflakes and even the obligatory handwash is soothing. As an extra bonus, the sea seems to be mimicking a millpond.

We board in Athens and our first destination is Monemvasia, a massive rock sitting a quarter of a mile off the coast of the Peloponnese mainland and often referred to as the ‘Gibraltar of Greece’. Accessible by a single causeway that winds into the charming old Castle Town (known locally as Kastro), it is a  labyrinth of medieval cobbled alleys set against a backdrop of the bluest Aegean sea.

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Monemvasia – Greece

Eye-catching little shops and tavernas line the main street, with top marks going to the Edodimopolio Honey Shop. Thanks to its zealous and generous owners, Fotini and Paraskevas, this is a retail experience to be savoured (their honey mead and ouzo with walnuts should be available on prescription).

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New Orleans – City Guide

Sultry, seductive and utterly irresistible, the Louisiana city makes an unforgettable cruise-and-stay destination.

Located on the Mississippi River, New Orleans is one of the most enchanting cities in the US, a cultural melting pot of Creole, French and Spanish influences, with a vibrant, intoxicating atmosphere. You don’t have to visit during Mardi Gras to find someone playing jazz or Cajun music – it’s everywhere.

The impact of Hurricane Katrina devastated the area; 100,000 people left and never returned. But the essence of New Orleans remains, and the residents are incredibly friendly and justifiably proud of their wonderful city.

Even if you’re only in New Orleans for a night or two, a stroll around the idyllic French Quarter with its charming houses, intricate ironwork, courtyards and fountains is an absolute must, as is a visit to the historic park at Jackson Square, with its statue of seventh US President Andrew Jackson and nearby stalls selling art and trinkets.

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Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral – New Orleans

What to Do

Take a walking tour – the best one is run by Robert Florence (tourneworleans.com), who will give you a fascinating insight into local history, culture and architecture, and you’ll also visit the city’s oldest pub, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, which dates back to the 18th century.

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Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

In the Garden District you’ll find beautiful antebellum homes and the historic Lafayette Cemetery, which has above-ground tombs; and the Historic Voodoo Museum offers an intriguing insight into another element of New Orleans culture.

Other must-sees include the gold statue of the Maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc (local people call her “Joanie on her pony”). Enjoy live jazz at Prohibition Hall, and a ride in a streetcar along Desire Street. A cruise in a paddle steamer on the mighty Mississippi river, particularly at sunset, will give you glorious views of the city. And it would be almost rude not to hit the bars along Bourbon Street; mint juleps are the local speciality, and a Hurricane (rum, passion fruit syrup and lime juice) at the legendary Pat O’Brien’s is another must-do, albeit a touristy one.

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Pat O’Brien Bar – New Orleans

If you’re spending a few days in New Orleans it’s also worth taking a trip through Cajun country to Oak Alley Plantation for an illuminating insight into Louisiana’s past.

Where to Eat

Located on Chartres Street, Café Fleur-de-Lis offers authentic Southern cooking in a friendly atmosphere. Make sure you try a

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The Po-Boy Sandwich

– a delicious sandwich usually filled with breaded oyster or shrimp.

And no trip to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to Café Du Monde, famous for its icing sugar-covered beignets (square doughnuts, served hot with chicory coffee). Ignore the queue – just sit down wherever you can find a seat and wait to be served; the beignets are freshly made, warm, sweet and delicious, and it’s open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What to Buy

Tabasco sauce (it’s made in Louisiana); a box of Café Du Monde beignet mix; Cajun spices; strings of Mardi Gras beads.

Flavors of Asia

Vibrant culture, incredible history and stunning scenery – no wonder Asian ocean and river cruises are so popular.

From the temples of Vietnam to the shiny new towers of China, the cultured frenzy of India to the beaches of Thailand, the jungles of Myanmar to the gleaming shopping malls of Singapore, Asia is a monumental place to experience.

The ability of cruises to take in one destination after another in a far-flung part of the world makes it possible to explore the region in a way that you never could on anything other than a backpacking jaunt. And the contrast between sub-tropical coast and glorious, history-packed interior brings a magic like nowhere else.

A report by cruise industry body CLIA in 2014 said capacity had grown by 20 per cent a year for two years running, with passenger numbers ready to top two million in 2015 as new and larger ships arrived.

Andy-Harmer“Asia has certainly become the cruise holiday magnet,” says Andy Harmer, Vice President of Operations CLIA, Europe. “It’s not just the prediction that China will become the world’s second largest cruise market in just a few years, but also the fact that more ships are moving east to cater for the growing demand from Western guests, including us Brits.

“And what a choice we have – round trips from Singapore taking in such amazing places as Ko Samui in Thailand, Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam and Penang in Malaysia. And of course let’s not forget Japan and Korea, easily accessible from southern China. The choice of ships is also extensive, from resort style to intimate luxury brands.”

Simone Clark, Managing Director of leading cruise agent Iglu, agrees. “We are seeing a great increase in business to Asia, particularly in Japan and China. People want time to explore so we have put together tailor-made holidays that combine a premium cruise with an immersive land tour taking in such famous landmarks as Xi’an, with its Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall and Tiananmen Square, and even with a Yangtze River cruise.”

Iglu’s 31-night Majestic China trip (from £2,849pp, full board, with flights, departing 30 October) combines a 17-night Princess Cruises voyage from Beijing to Singapore with a 12-night tour, including a four-night Yangtze cruise and stays in Shanghai, Beijing, Xi’an and Chengdu, featuring all the iconic experiences – panda sanctuary visit, Shanghai river cruise and Great Wall tour.

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Boutique Cruises

Want an alternative to mainstream cruising? Anatolian Sky has a fabulous selection of small ship holidays.

Award-winning specialist tour operator Anatolian Sky offers a range of fantastic holidays and bespoke boutique cruises. Personal service and attention to detail is paramount to their philosophy, and Anatolian Sky’s small ship cruises generally have no more than around 50 guests on board. They are relaxed and friendly sailings for people who like to discover new places, unwind and enjoy good company. You will be spoiled with truly attentive service, with up to 19 crew members on board a 25-cabin small ship. And their small ships can moor right in the heart of ports, meaning there are plenty of opportunities for guests to explore on shore.

Anatolian Sky’s Adriatic Cruise is one of their most popular itineraries. Guests can choose to begin their journey in either Split or Dubrovnik – two of Croatia’s most picturesque coastal cities – and cruise the glittering coastline. Stop off at tiny islands such as Mljet, where you can swim in the salt lakes of the national park, or Hvar, with its glitzy nightlife and magnificent Italianate architecture. You could also spend some extra time at the beginning or end of your cruise staying in Split or Dubrovnik, where you can sightsee or simply soak up the ambience.

For a more international cruise programme, the Adriatic Odyssey takes in Croatia plus highlights of Montenegro, Greece and Albania.

adriatic-obyssey-map

The 8 Destinations of The Adriatic Odyssey

Greece is the cradle of civilisation and there is no better way to discover what this fascinating country has to offer than to take a small ship cruise. Visit the site of ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Olympic Games, or discover charming islands such as Santorini, Delos or Mykonos, with its enchanting whitewashed houses and renowned nightlife.

mykonos-greece

Mykonos – Greece

Fancy travelling further afield? Anatolian Sky has cruises that operate all year round to destinations as diverse as Cuba, the Seychelles, Costa Rica and Panama.

Whether you want to enjoy a relaxing voyage with other like-minded guests, stay on shore for longer with a tailor-made cruise-and-stay holiday, or choose to fly from any UK airport, Anatolian Sky has a boutique cruise for you.