Tuesday, April 24, 2012

HOTEL CHECKS MALDIVES, part 3, Baros

REFINED AND WARM, THE REAL MALDIVES
Select  customers newly returned from Baros confirm this resort is a worthy addition to our magnificent Maldives portfolio. Here are some of their images snapped on the island. Turquoise sea, brilliant white sands, a froth of palm leaves, serene overwater villa and much much more, all add up to a piece of paradise.















Our own report follows:
Baros was the third resort island to open in the Maldives some 38 years ago - created by a prominent and charitable Maldivian family. Lovingly restored over the decades, it does not feel dated and lacking in modern comforts, and warmly celebrates its origins in pioneering Maldivian hospitality. Service throughout the resort is exceptional; one senses a very happy team.

The island lies a 30 minute boat ride from Male', and the iconic Lighthouse Restaurant ensures you can identify it ahead of your arrival. It is new to our fabulous collection of Maldivian resorts.

Villa
Accommodation
This is not contrived over-the-top luxury. Baros is tasteful, elegant, refined and real. All 75 villas (beachside or overwater) are built in sandstone and timber, offering large windows to let in natural light, private veranda with sun loungers and dining table for two. Each villa has a spacious, teak-floored bedroom featuring a king sized bed with soft cotton sheets and pillows, as well as a vanity desk and a large sofa or day bed. The villas are secluded by lush vegetation.
Traditional Maldivian style lovingly refurbished

Dining
6 restaurants and bars including the iconic Lighthouse Restaurant, Lime Restaurant, Cayenne Grill, Satay, and Sails Bar by the palm grove. We found dining a pleasure at the aforementioned Light House for fine dining. But dare say too much choice! They are intending to trim the menu, simply to make deciding less onerous! There is an impressive selection of wines also.

Every culinary desire is catered for in romantic settings.


Facilities and activities
The Spa features botanical therapies. Sports include see-through canoe, waterskiing, and outstanding snorkeling and diving.

Our tip: Don't miss the ultimate in romance...
An absolute must is the sandbank excursion – guests can have a 3 course dinner, or champagne and canap├ęs against the sunset. Fifteen minutes due west by launch from the shores of Baros Maldives lies one of many Maldivian “thilas” which translates into English as "Sandbank". A unique natural experience to enhance your sojourn within this glorious Archipelago. Undoubtedly the ultimate in romance.


Romantic sandbank as snapped by a team member from Select Collection UK



Baros in a coconut shell Baros relies on quality of service, cuisine and beautiful surroundings, offering outstanding snorkelling on the house reef, and fabulous diving. Your everyday life can take a back seat, even the TVs in most rooms are concealed in an ottoman. Nothing is over the top and there is no attempt to be bigger and better than its neighbours.


Who should stay? Discerning cultured guests (note age limit).*


You should know

* No children allowed below 8 years

Note that Male' is close by and visible.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

WE HAVE JUST BEEN TO AUSTRALIA, part 1, Palazzo Versace








PURE VERSACE, SUNSHINE AND SURFING
New to our Select Collection, Palazzo Versace is a destination in itself. The hotel exudes total glamour – close to all the attractions of Australia’s high living Gold Coast. Every single detail at the hotel is pure House of Versace …absolutely everything.






This celebration of Italian haute couture lies next to Marina Mirage, where the high life happens among loads of local restaurants and boutiques. Just over the road, the famous golden sandy beach is frequented by surfers and sun lovers, and stretches all the way from Surfer’s Paradise (20 minutes walk to lively Paradise).




The location of the hotel is perfect if you want to enjoy the beach, eat out or enjoy boat watching. It lies in the marina, where lovely, big luxury yachts coexist in harmony with local fishing boats.

DESIGNED BY VERSACE
Pillows, bathrobes, slippers, cushions, small perfume bottle in the bathroom to your beach towels…everything is designed by Versace. All floors are marble (more than 11,5 Million Australian Dollars has been spent on the floors only), and a magnificent chandelier that hangs in the foyer was purchased by Gianni Versace to place in one of his villas.


We were really blown away by the standard of this hotel. Everything was in mint condition and the hotel really is more beautiful in the real world than in pictures. There are marvellous photographs of supermodels and celebs hanging in the corridors. All in Versace clothes of course.

ACCOMMODATION














Our lagoon suite was fantastic (please see the pictures). It was more a luxury apartment, with lustrous wooden floors, gorgeous balcony and of course from floor to ceiling covered in Versace. We insist that Select clients book a Lagoon Suite, no less. There is a powder room, separate shower / bathroom and a bath tub. The living room is huge and there is a door that separates the living room from the bedroom. And the doors are not sliding doors, real doors like in a luxury flat.



DINING IN AND DINING OUT
The food and beverage side of the hotel was not an issue, you can choose from everything, and we mean everything. From burgers to sea food buffets, from beer to Cristal. And of course there is a Versace shop in the hotel (we just had to buy their gorgeous beach towels).

This is really a top high end property for you who are looking for the best possible materials, fine dining and service…it was truly like living in the world of Versace. Close to a very Australian holiday experience – the Gold Coast and its attractions.





WHO SHOULD STAY?
Couples who like perfection and the fine things in life, enjoy shopping and dining choices, sunshine and swimming, and want to see how Australians surf the waves.

HOW TO GET TO PALAZZO VERSACE
We had a private limousine transfer booked from Brisbane International Airport to Palazzo Versace, which took 45 minutes.

COMBINATION FOR SOME JUNGLY AUSTRALIA
Though Versace has Italian finesse, the Gold Coast is still very robustly Australian with its love of fun, surf and sun. For another “very Australian” experience we moved on to Byron Bay, an "alternative" destination full of local restaurants, bars, cafes and interesting shops, where you feel the hippie era still. The beaches at Byron are pristine and go on forever. And the rainforests drape down from mountains to beach.







We stayed at the appropriately named Byron at Byron, which is entangled in rainforest, 10 minutes from Tallow Beach. An exceptionally friendly property where the bungalows are on stilts joined by wooden walkways through the rainforest - full of lorikeets and other colourful birdlife.


Don't settle for less than a Deluxe Spa Suite - wonderful; there were even two separate outdoor terraces where you see the sunrise and hear the rainforest when it wakes up.






GENUINE CHARM


The service is so genuine and warm at Byron at Byron that even stressed people are completely mellow and chilled out after spending one night at this resort. The longer you stay here the more the resort grows on you...




WHO SHOULD STAY?

This is the destination for families, younger couples who like the bohemian side of life, surfers and why not hippies that grew up?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

HOTEL CHECKS MALDIVES, part 2, Zitahli Kuda-Funafaru



UNDERSTATED LUXURY IN PARADISE
New to our magnificent Maldives Collection. A 45 minutes sea plane flight from Male' over breathtaking azure waters, Zitahli Kuda lies in the Noonu atoll. On arrival to the island you are greeted at the jetty by a troupe of friendly staff (and the GM), and escorted to the jetty lounge for an arrival drink and registration.

The beaches are incredible and pristine. Vegetation is still low rise, so you get an immediate sense of the compact size of the resort (approx 700 x 500m). But this does not feel like a disadvantage: it was good to have ones bearings instead of being in a maze, and it's really nice to amble around the island on foot and not rely always on buggy service.



ACCOMMODATION
We stayed in a stunning overwater Deluxe Aqua Villa. The outdoor terrace of our villa had amazing views, and you can snorkel from your villa.

Decor is modern, clean lines, easy on the eye, functional. What is striking is the space: land and water villa categories range from 175–400sqm. The bathrooms are huge. Super Deluxe Villas also offer spacious plunge pools on the beach or over the water.

TIP : Two-bedroom villas offer good value for families.





In comparison to other islands within this category for this amount of personal space, the rates are excellent. The new management is working really hard to create the in-villa living experience with personalised bar, espresso machine, indoor + outdoor day beds, private dining etc.

DINING
In villa dining round the clock and private candlit dinners are VERY attractive options. Although the resort was full, we did not see a soul in the evening (with the exception of the half board restaurant Breeze early evening). Which was a great shame as the bar and Mosaic restaurant were very pleasant. But to counter this there are some offers for dinner and drinks to tempt guests from the relaxing privacy and romance of the accommodation.

FACILITIES



The spa has a pretty reception area and simple and adequately equipped treatment rooms, offering a very reasonably priced selection.

Activities include diving, windsurfing, kite surfing, snorkling safaris, catmaran sailing and sunset dolphin cruises.

IN A COCONUT SHELL



Zitahli is an unpretentious resort offering good value, very spacious accommodation, and good snorkelling on the house reef (with an on‐site Werner Lau managed dive centre offering a good selection of excursions).




WHO SHOULD STAY



Not for people who want to be seen. However, an accomplished resort for splurging Honeymooners or aspirational clients, looking for an element of barefoot Luxe with embodiments of modern living in vast personal space.



Note: We have 19 fabulous resorts in the Maldives - a Collection indeed. For a map showing our resorts click here.