Tuesday, March 20, 2012

NEW SELECT COLLECTION: GUIDE TO LUXURY HOLIDAYS




Our luscious Select Collection 2012-2014 brochure is now out. The size of a coffee table book, the new Select Collection is dripping with luxury lifestyle, sensuality and enchantment. It has been a labour of love for over a year …

HOW FAR TO PARADISE?
Packed with CEO Leija Graf’s pick of hotels from around the world, it is enhanced by scintillating images of top models and pristine beaches. The leading pages also feature hot tips and useful information to help holiday planning – like where to find the best weather on your honeymoon, and how long will it take you to get to paradise…

Among many hotels new to the Collection are:


FRANCE – PARIS – MANDARIN ORIENTAL


A new magnet for the beautiful people, surrounded by haute couture and steps from the Louvre. The hotel has created Oriental magic with extraordinary expensive details in a modern interior wedged between Parisian town houses. Attractions include: gourmet dining, lush garden, Bar 8, and holistic spa, but its top points come for Asian-style service – said to be the best in Paris.






Deserts are hot fashion – haunting and powerful. Blending into a raw environment in Utah, this Aman resort offers all the pools and pampering you need after a day of discovery among carved rocks and canyons. . Built around a dramatic pool, the resort revels in views of the desert, a spa offering colour therapy-enhanced floatation, and a desert lounge for flaming sunsets.
DUBAI – ONE&ONLY THE PALM







Dubai is not just hot, hectic and extravagant, but getting “cooler” and classier too. One&Only the Palm is an intimate resort on Palm Island, offering relaxation for families and couples, without the glitzy stuff that Dubai can proffer. Food outstanding. Great wellness facilities, extensive beach, big pool area, and if you need to splurge – cabanas for EUR 500/day.
MARRAKECH - LA MAMOUNIA








Exotic as ever, the rose-tinted city of Marrakech performs increasingly well for luxury visitors. The revamped hotel La Mamounia evokes a mystical and intoxicating Arabian feel with its pools and intricate décor, amidst a lush garden of flowers, palms and ancient olive trees. Walking distance and yet a world away from the souks and intrigue of the Medina.THAILAND – KOH SAMUI – BANYAN TREE SAMUI






Koh Samui is Thailand’s “in” place for ravishing palm-fringed luxury. Offering probably the largest private pools on the island, superb villas perch on a verdant hillside that cascades down to a white sandy beach. The highest villas give endless ocean views, true love nests. Great for couples and families, the resort offers Kids Club and adult delights like hydrotherapy spa.THE MALDIVES – ANANTARA KIHAVAH VILLAS

Stranded in paradise – with much more than coconuts. A new resort offering sophisticated dining choices, it includes an underwater restaurant where you dine exquisitely watching fish swim freely by. Plenty swimming for couple or family too – with 49m pool, snorkling and diving. Besides that the villas, beach and overwater, all offer private pools. Seaplane Male’ 35 min.
See also our last blog entry.

ITALY – APULIA – BORGO EGNAZIA


The heel is now the hottest destination on the boot of Italy for festivals, food and Italian vivacity. Borgo Egnazia lies between mountains and sea, in pale stone, with the scent of lemon trees. Apart from rooms and suites, there are 28 villas with private pools and sea views. It sports a links golf course, a few minutes’ drive from charming Apulian towns.
ITALY – SICILY – VILLA SANT’ANDREA


In sizzling Sicily, tucked into rocky hills that cradle a private beach, this Orient-Express hotel exudes traditional Italian style and refinement. Facing a sparkling turquoise sea, the exclusive haven offers restaurant, pool and spa – only 5 minute’s free shuttle from Taormina with its culinary adventures. Exciting complimentary boat tours offered.
GREECE – CRETE – DAIOS COVE


Overlooking the turquoise waters of its private cove, this resort offers villas & suites tiered down the slope for perfect views. A village style design in raw stone blends harmoniously with the hillside. The villas are our top choice – offering own pools and VIP service. Pleasant ambience, infinity pool, beach, kids club, spa, 3 restaurants – 7 km from Agios Nikolaos.

That was just a little hors d’ouvre. For the feast of more than 400 luxury hotels and resorts – the brochure can be ordered from our website or fetched free of charge from one of our offices.
See http://www.selectcollection.com/









The spa at Anantara above, restaurant complex below, snapped during our hotel inspections involved in choosing our Collection.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

HOTEL CHECK MALDIVES, part 1, Anantara Kihavah



SOPHISTICATION IN PARADISE
Ananatara Kihavah is one of the new resorts in our Select Collection 2012-2014 launched this week. The resort opened spring 2011, and it has already proved very popular, running at very high occupancy during our visit. It’s reached by 35 minute sea plane ride from Male. The exclusive lounge at Male was not yet ready when we were there, as our visit was to preview hotels for our masterpiece, the Select Collection.

ACCOMMODATION
We were allocated a Beach Pool Villa and our villa host gave a nice welcome foot soak treatment. Décor has a hint of colonial complemented with colourful silks and dark woods. The huge (all) outdoor bathroom with shower(s), day bed, water feature, huge tub plus garden area to the rear with dining sala, infinity pool, backing on to the beach (the beach view being completely obscured by the vegetation to preserve privacy from any other guests strolling along the shore).


Beach pool villa



Alternatively the overwater options have wonderful natural light, with huge windows opening out to the amazing views, with stunning outdoor living space. You can‘t really be overlooked by your neighbour, but the villas are closer together.



Walkway and overwater villas



FACILITIES
The spa, which is overwater, is a striking set up. The treatment 6 cabins are fresh, modern and spacious with the most stunning views out to sea. Experienced therapists mainly Thai, and therefore excellent. The outdoor relaxation area is sublime, with orange / yellow mosaic tiled infinity pools. One could stay there all day!


Spa at Kihavah accessed on foot across the jetty, completely separate from the overwater restuarants


The signature dining/bar complex Sea Fire Salt Sky, is also fabulous. It can be a bit quiet, as guests are tempted to linger in their villas and dine in romantic style. But it is really stylish with excellent concepts – we dined in Salt, where there’s an array of salts to complement each dish. Seasbass with pumpkin mash served on a block (instead of a plate!) of Himalayan salt among the many delights. The presentation was divine the service very professional, with a little bit of theatre!

Tepanyaki offers the Fire element, then Sky the rooftop bar with the most commanding views over the Baa Atoll. And not forgetting Sea, the underwater restaurant located at the reef drop off – you can see a variety of marine life and coral. There is also the pool bar/ restaurant Manzaru, and Plates for breakfast, and all day dining (we had lunch buffet here).


Kihavah underwater restaurant



Restaurant complex amid spakling turquoise


The House reef is excellent, with good visibility. Excursions to nearby sites and islands are reasonably priced.

There is a children’s club (not fully staffed when we were there but will expand and we did see a couple of very happy kids!), tennis, library, and gym all tucked away on the internal part of the island.

IN A COCONUT SHELL
In short, a really stylish resort with good service and recommended for trendy types who wish to experience an alternative to the reigning coolspots - W and Conrad Rangali. Ipads instead of newspapers at breakfast for guests to keep connected. Kihavah certainly has designer elements, yet it does not let you forget this is the Maldives and not just anywhere in the world. A very good balance to strike….


Kihavah spa relax & waiting area


Overwater pool villa


Monday, March 5, 2012

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO THAILAND, part 12, Intercontinental Hua Hin



VERY THAI, VERY MODERN, VERY NICE.
The hotel transfer picked us up at Bangkok Airport for a pleasant 3 hour drive to the Intercontinental Hua Hin. Time passed smoothly - in the car we had bottles of water, snacks and magazines.

The hotel is very modern in a traditional Thai style. You step into the lovely reception in the Main building, where the Spa is situated. A very attractive contrast. Outside you get the genuine touch of Thailand and as soon as you step into this beautiful property you feel nothing but harmony and relaxation.

We stayed in a Pool Villa (nr 8). The pool in this villa has one has the best locations. There are only 3 villas in total, one of them with 2 bedrooms. It’s an open plan between the bedroom and living room. Technical equipment includes flat TV, DVD and Ipod dock and you can borrow DVD films from the library.





The Villa has a large bathroom with separate shower and Jacuzzi. The bathroom has a glass wall looking into a small private garden so it is very light and gives you an outdoor feeling. Bathroom toiletries include shampoo, conditioner & body lotion from Bulgar, bathrobe, slippers, safety box and ironing board with flat-iron.





The villa area is secluded from the other hotel guests and has direct access to the beach and main pool area. No other guests except the ones staying in a villa are allowed to enter this area. The villas also offer their own cabana outside (still on the private villa area) where you can sit, have a drink and watch the sunset/ sunrise.

A long beach lies in front of the hotel, and though the water is not turquoise as it it often is in Thailand, the beach is still very attractive and absolutely the best we saw in this area.

There is a large pool area with a swim-up bar and a pool restaurant where you can enjoy lunch, dinner or happy hour.







The resort offers 6 restaurants & bars including an innovative Thai restaurant Pirom, trattoria-style Italian restaurant Felicita with wood-fired pizza oven, and beach grill Azure with fantastic views. Azure serves pizza, sandwiches, salads and other light dishes during the day. In the evening they serve delicious seafood dishes, and the first evening we had a romantic dinner by the pool with really great food. If guests stay min 7 nights they receive a complimentary dinner by the pool.

Both Felicita (Italian) and Pirom (Thai) have beautiful outside areas surrounded by water. This was our favourite spot at breakfast as well. Between those restaurants you also find the Lee La Bar where you can have afternoon tea or in the evening enjoy delicious drinks with excellent live jazz music (Tuesday – Sunday).









The spa offers a variety of regional treatments, while the fitness centre features the latest cardio & weight training equipment. The resort is close to seafood restaurants, local markets, vibrant nightlife, 8 golf courses & idyllic national parks.