Belmond launches 'Belmond Invitations' - a virtual theatre of programmes designed to bring entertaining experiences into people's homes whilst the world of travel is on pause. Launching this Friday on Belmond IGTV, with a special performance by pianist Joe Stilgoe - in honour of the roaring 20s 'The Party' that was due to take place in Venice and on board the Venice Simplon-Orient-Express during this weekend. The 'Belmond Invitations' performances are curated using Belmond's wellbeing philosophy of Good Living - experiences that are designed to enrich the mind, body and soul - from poetry and music to travel by; to cleansing mindfulness rituals and nourishing nutrition and uplifting floral inspiration - the experiences are supported by a digital care package of Good Living remedies to soothe the senses as we all adjust to a time of unprecedented stillness. RENDEZVOUS IN THE ROARING 20s Join the first Belmond Live event in honour of ‘The Party’ at 6pm GMT on Friday, 27th March 2020, live on Instagram. We may not be able to travel at this time but we can still transport our minds with the power of music - Joe Stilgoe, will host a special concert this evening to bring a touch of 1920s glamour into people's homes - this is an invitation to come together in spirit, to raise a glass, and to truly dance like nobody is watching. More livestream performances will be announced at a later date on @belmond. GOOD LIVING - DIGITAL CARE PACKAGE In addition to the series of livestream videos and performances, Belmond together with its Experience Makers have created ‘Digital Care Package’ to offer Belmond's remedies to ease tension and feed the mind. Over the course of the next few weeks, Belmond will release a series of content across its digital platforms. From its website to Instagram and Facebook, friends of Belmond can follow along on a ‘Good Living’ journey that features curated uplifting content to inspire and keep the dreams alive. Friends of Belmond will be reminded to start the day with a Good Morning calming meditation by wellness experts Nadia Narain & Katia Narain-Philipps, or access to recipes for make at home spa therapies; be inspired by our exceptional destinations through sensational classical music playlists created by broadcaster and musician Clemency Burton-Hill. With this care package, we hope to provide inspiration to temporarily transport people to some of the world's most enriching destinations - even if only virtually, for now. Along with the company’s main Instagram account, all of Belmond hotels, trains, cruises and safaris will also be prescribing their local digital care package in line with the theme. From all of us here at Belmond, this is an invitation to live well.
ON THE FAR SOUTH COAST OF THE ANDAMAN SEA, THE MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO REMAINED UNTOUCHED UNTIL THE 1990s WHEN IT OPENED TO TOURISTS. HOME TO JAM-PACKED WOODS, VAST CORAL REEFS, DENSE MARINE AND ON-GROUND LIVES, WONDERFUL GEOMORPHOLOGY, HEALTHY ECOSYSTEMS, AS WELL AS OVER 1,000 NOMADIC PEOPLE, THE MERGUI ARCHIPELAGO DOES NOT OFFER JUST A DAZZLING BEACHFRONT GETAWAY, BUT THE “REAL” WAY OF RECONNECTING TO THE EARTH, AND GETTING TO KNOW MORE ABOUT IT ON A DEEPER LEVEL. Out of over 800 islands in this archipelago, I luckily got to spend relaxing days amidst awesome quietude on Kyun Pila or the Pila Island, where birds joyously sing, the forest remains dense, and the beach stays naïve. It feels so hopeful to know that a land this pristine still exists. ASHORE AND AQUATIC CREATURES The area that is presently Myanmar has long been dense with precious natural resources, marine lives and flourishing forests. Many parts of the country, luckily, are still left unscathed, but also many of them are run-down, mainly due to insufficient information on their significance provided to the locals, as well as inadequate proper plans to protect and restore them. Ecosystems work in a variety of ways in different parts of the world, and Mergui Archipelago, being distant from the mainland, has unique ones. On the Pila Island, it is an ideal spot to observe healthy onland and underwater lives, which are not as disturbed as other easilyaccessible scenes. As the sea is indeed inseparable from the land, keeping them both robust is a vital act. Even though “leaving nature alone” might as well be the best strategy to get them to revive, it can take too much time, and human beings can be very helpful with the right means, competent knowledge, and respect for the lives out there. INTO THE WILD I have been to many islands before, but on this wonderful Pila Island, it is an experience like never before. As a private island with an environmentally friendly resort, every spot comes with serenity and natural wonders! Strolling on the soft sands, I am stunned by captivating, enigmatic rock formations on the shore, which looks especially breathtaking when the tide is low in early morning. Stepping closer, I find the rocks are home to countless crabs. I keep coming back on this tiny adventure of mine, observing the crab community I have never seen before. Aside from rock crabs, hermit crabs hidden in artsy shells are another magic of the island. Birdwatching is a thing to do when you are at Awei Pila Resort. Mitch Hawkins, the recreation manager at the resort will bring you around to spot birds, explain their lovely behaviours, and distinguish the sound of their songs from one another. Chances are you’ll find some kingfishers, white-rumped shamas, racked-tailed drongos, and other tuneful creatures. Along the birdwatching way or the hike to nearby villages, soaring trees with its own ecosystem are all over the places, warranting the robustness of the nature of this distant island. Wildlife such as meerkats, wild pigs, and more are still there in the forest, but they do
FROM KOH CHANG IN THAILAND TO PHU QUOC IN VIETNAM, A STRING OF ISLANDS HUGS THE COAST – AND MOST OF THEM ARE CAMBODIA’S, SITTING OFFSHORE OF THE KINGDOM’S 440 KILOMETRES OF TWISTING AND TURNING COASTLINE – THE PEARLS OF THE CAMBODIAN SEASHORES The beauty of these islands is that most of them are undeveloped, with wild beaches and just a few simple backpacker huts if you want to stay a while – or no huts at all, just you and nature. Perfect for day trips, or pitching a tent in paradise. Then there are two big islands – Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem – which have a whole range of accommodation along their super-long beaches, with dense jungle interiors. Lastly, for those with fat wallets, there are three private islands blessed with fabulous luxury resorts. Well and truly off the map at the turn of the century, Cambodia’s islands now have something for everybody, from just a hammock in the trees, to a wooden chalet with a balcony, through to an exclusive villa with your own pool. Numbering no less than 60, the islands lack roads, ATMs or mains electricity, but boast a host of bars, restaurants and dive shops, plus endless beaches, azure seas and an escapist, easy-going vibe. Controversially, some islands have been leased to developers for large-scale resort building, so who knows how long this away-from-itall tranquillity will exist? Already the charm of the first of Cambodia’s beach hubs, the seaside town of Sihanoukville, has been smashed and annihilated by manic development. In just the last few years, what was a laid-back beach town has become a grotesque casino city for Chinese gamblers, its former backpacker haunts left to rot. That means right now is the time to enjoy the Cambodian islands, while they are still treasures possessing a serenity not easily found elsewhere in Southeast Asia. Let’s check them out. THE NORTHERN GROUP KOH KONG KOAH If you’re coming from Thailand by land – not a bad idea at all, entering Cambodia from Trat province – then the first big island is Koh Kong Koah, which is in fact Cambodia’s largest island. However, it has a strong military presence, so access is tightly controlled and you must visit on a guided boat tour out of Koh Kong town or Tatai costing USD21 per person, including lunch and snorkelling equipment, or you can take overnight trips with beach camping or homestay for USD55. These trips only operate from October to May and it’s forbidden to explore the forested interior. Seven beaches are strung along the western coast, lined with coconut palms and lush vegetation. At the sixth beach from the north, a narrow channel leads to a hidden lagoon. KOH S’DACH ARCHIPELAGO KOH S’DACH Twelve small islands form the Koh S’Dach Archipelago, located offshore midway between the Thai border and the coastal city of Sihanoukville. Just two kilometres long, Koh S’Dach is the only island with a sizeable population, about 2,300, and it buzzes with fishing boats and an ice factory as the economic heart of the archipelago. The beaches
Set in tropical gardens on white sandy beaches dotted with rustling coconut trees surrounded by a cobalt ocean, Tamassa Bel Ombre makes for an exotic Mauritian Easter getaway, perfect for the extended weekend. The all-inclusive Tamassa Easter Programme (from USD239++ in a standard room) promises a myriad of activities for the whole family. From energizing outdoor activities to keep adrenaline levels high to tranquil activities curated for guests looking to relax, there is something for everyone. Little ones can expect a thrilling Meet & Greet session with the resort’s Easter Bunny before unleashing their creativity during a fun-filled Easter egg painting session at PLAY. Parents looking for vibrant Easter selfies can work up a post-workout glow with an energetic Zumba class at Jalsa or a dive into a refreshing water aerobics class at Crescent B. For a healthy splash of all-inclusive fun over the long Easter weekend, guests of all ages can look forward to getting knee deep in foam with the dynamic Family Foam Party and enjoy heart-pumping Water Slide adventures for a remarkable adrenaline rush. After working up an appetite, guests can recharge with a hearty BBQ lunch held at the picturesque Playa Beach featuring a live cocktail station and lobsters. Other culinary highlights include a delightful tea break at the B Bar before being entertained at an interactive chocolate workshop by Tamassa’s in-house chef. Balance the excitement with a meaningful Wish Ceremony at the “Garden of Wishes”, indulge in a variety show at the band stage or soak in the euphoric beats at the Easter DJ Party on the dance floor. Tamassa Bel Ombre offers the perfect escape for families in search of entertaining activities for the young and young at heart. With its all-inclusive concept, the resort caters to all ages and diverse preferences to ensure an unforgettable Easter fun in the sun for everyone. For more information or reservation, please click here.
Overlooking an enchanting patchwork of shimmering waters, rolling hills and rice fields, Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is redefining the wellness retreat concept on the spectacular shores of one of Southeast Asia’s most iconic destinations. DISCOVER THE LEGENDS OF INLE LAKE AND FIND YOUR INNER SELF To celebrate its first anniversary, Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min is introducing the first luxury wellness programme in Myanmar to focus exclusively on holistic therapies, traditional treatments, nutrition, fitness coaching and educational wellness initiatives. Guests are invited to indulge in these all- encompassing packages, designed for an unforgettable stay at one of the wellness resort’s 101 guest rooms and suites. Offerings include the Wellness Discovery package, with benefits including a pre-arrival consultation, yoga sessions, customised meditation class, spa treatments, an in-room wellness minibar, and holistic rituals in the morning and evening. Each guest will receive a wellness basket in their suite, which includes all the essentials such as a yoga mat, skipping rope, wellness ball and dumbbells. The Wellness Discovery package is available from USD180 per person, per night. NUTRITIONAL TREATMENTS MEET FARM-TO-TABLE DISHES “You are what you eat” is the motto of Chef Aung Kyaw Swar, the man behind Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min’s unique culinary experiences and the curator of the Wellness Cuisine programme. Locally-sourced organic products take centre stage on his healthy and nutritious menus, namely at the resort’s Roots Signature Restaurant, which introduces guests to regenerative ingredients that prioritise the body’s requirements and tantalise the taste buds. The restaurant, which overlooks Inle Lake’s gentle waters, aims to instil a sense of spirituality and promote the resort’s wider commitment to sustainability. Chef Aung Kyaw Swar and his team support the local communities by working closely — and responsibly — with producers and short food supply chains in order to discover local flavours, creating authentic, delicious dishes ranging from salads and soups to regional specialities. Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min maintains its own organic and hydroponic garden, which embraces local Shan methods with a contemporary approach to produce fruits, vegetables and herbs. Harvests are not only used in the kitchen and spa, but also shared with the local community and hotel staff. UNWIND AND REJUVENATE AMIDST TRANQUIL VISTAS The tailor-made energising and healing programmes have been developed to rejuvenate the body, mind and spirit of Sofitel Inle Lake Myat Min’s guests. The mind-body connection of the wellness programmes are designed by onsite Yoga Master, Sudhir Thampi. Born and raised in India, Sudhir’s expertise in yoga, meditation and fitness are vital to the overall success of the wellness journey. Yoga for him is as natural as breathing and guests can enjoy private and group yoga sessions as well as fitness classes as part of their package. Yoga classes are held in a series of waterfront villas, designed in warm hues with natural woven materials offset by red and orange plaid that is inspired by the headscarves of the local Pa-o women. Perched at the edge of the lake and surrounded by verdant gardens and reflective ponds, guests can draw inspiration from these serene,
Research reveals that nearly six in 10 global travelers pick their vacation destination because of the great food and drink on offer. So for the cheese-lovers amongst us, why not journey further than the fridge or local cheese shop to uncover the origins of some of the world’s favorite cheeses? In celebration of the most cheesiest month, we have identified some of the cheesiest stays for cheese lovers around the world to indulge in while exploring the destination that created some of their favourites. Gouda, Netherlands For cheese fans, this Dutch city is all Gouda, with its namesake cheese accounting for a massive 60% of Dutch cheese production**. Produced in the surrounding region, travelers to Gouda can purchase wheels of the local delicacy at the city’s Thursday morning market that takes place from April through to August. Having first started in 1395, this bustling market has kept its traditional charm, with farmers and traders ‘clapping hands’ to confirm a sale in front of the historic city hall buildings. Travelers should also visit “de Goudse Waag”, which means the Gouda scale, built in 1669 and originally used for weighing - you guessed it - cheese. Now it’s home to the tourist information office as well as the Cheese and Crafts Museum, which offers cheese tasting, tours and craft demonstrations. Where to stay: The Tannery Lane holiday home is the perfect home from home for cheese loving travelers, just a short stroll from the location of the Thursday morning market. This guesthouse, which is found on the city center’s smallest street, was originally built in 1879. From the outside it boasts a traditional charm, while inside the property houses all the modern conveniences needed for a comfortable stay in Gouda. Cheddar, UK Cheddar cheese is now the UK’s most popular cheese choice, accounting for 51% of the annual cheese market locally***, but has humble beginnings in the village of Cheddar in Somerset. Local legend says that Cheddar cheese was discovered by accident when a milkmaid accidentally let a pail of milk stored in the cool caves go bad, turning it into hard cheese. Adventurous visitors to the village of Cheddar can explore these chilly caves at Cheddar Gorge, the largest gorge in the UK. After exploring and working up an appetite, cheese-lovers can stop by the Cheddar Gorge Cheese Company, where visitors can see the cheese being made from start to finish at the working dairy and visitor center. Where to stay: Just a short walk from the Cheddar Gorge caves, The Bath Arms Hotel offers adult-only accommodation that is as charming as the picturesque village itself. With an onsite restaurant and bar, visitors will find all the amenities they need for a comfortable stay. The restaurant serves a daily menu with traditional pub favorites and during the warmer months guests can even dine in the outdoor beer garden. Monterey, California, USA Named after both its place of origin and the entrepreneur who began selling it commercially, Monterey Jack cheese has become a staple of many Americans’ fridge or cheese board. This white, semi-hard cheese made
Alas, there can only be one lucky winner and congratulations to Khun Mameaw Meawmeaw. You have won a 2-night stay at Centara Sandy Beach Danang, Vietnam. Please send us a message on or before 15 February 2020 to claim your prize. Thank you everyone for participating in our lucky draw. Keep an eye on lifestyle+travel page. Never know, it might be your name up in lights (more or less!) next time! The competition ended on the 10th February 2020 and the lucky winner has been selected and annouced on 11th February 2020. Thank you for your interest.
Amsterdam is a lively city with a central downtown district that does not find time to rest. Here, remnants of the city’s maritime past are interwoven with elements of contemporary life that include bars, shops, cafés and vices with a broad spectrum of appeal. The liberal Dutch society tolerates cannabis usage and prostitution, much to the delight of those from neighbouring countries who travel here to celebrate buck’s parties or inquisitive tourists hailing from countries that are more conservative. While the legality of cannabis is hazy, this raunchy side of Amsterdam appeals to some while most are simply inquisitive and curious onlookers. When most travellers think of Holland and its largest city Amsterdam (The Hague is the capital), images of windmills, wooden shoes called clogs, wheels of Gouda cheese and fields of multicoloured tulips spring to mind. However, the reality is that the closest encounter most visitors will have with these Dutch icons is the endless rows of souvenirs displayed in tourist precincts like Bloemenmarkt, a floating flower market. However, visitors will definitely encounter bikes, dykes and lights while exploring the sights of this lively, multicultural and cosmopolitan city of just 800,000 residents. CENTRAL AMSTERDAM Holland has always intrigued me and even more so, when I realised that a quarter of the country is below sea level with its gateway Schiphol Airport situated on a former lake, several metres below sea level. As my KLM plane approached Schiphol, I checked beneath the seat for the lifejacket, just in case. Of course, planes do not land on water thanks to Holland’s ingenious network of ancient dykes and polders that keep the seawater at bay. I checked a map of Amsterdam to appreciate that the city and surrounding areas are indeed a network of canals, lakes, rivers and dykes holding back the waters of the North Sea. Amsterdam’s famous dykes are not so obvious but without retaining walls and floodgates to keep out the seawater, there would not be much to see of Amsterdam as basically it, and much of Holland, has been reclaimed from the sea. This reclamation has been ongoing for centuries and explains why the Dutch are such great hydrological engineers. I also discovered that one of the functions of windmills in days gone by was to pump water from the land out to sea to keep the seawater in check. Canals are one of the main attractions and a canal cruise is the best way to admire just how important these were for Amsterdam’s original settlers. While the River IJ divides Amsterdam, most visitors do not appreciate it as the main tourist attractions are in central Amsterdam just to the south of the river. From an elevated vantage point at the rear of the main railway station, I appreciated that the River IJ waterfront divides central Amsterdam and Amsterdam Noord. Both parts of the city are visible from the Centraal Station located in a lively port precinct where large ocean-going cruise ships moor at the nearby docks. Visitors emerge from the city side of Centraal Station on
For those Thais looking for the ultimate romantic getaway this Valentine’s Day, Airbnb announces that one lovestruck couple will be the first to spend the night in the historic home of Shakespeare’s Juliet in Verona, Italy. Casa di Giulietta has inspired generations with its iconic balcony that reflects Shakespeare’s description in Romeo & Juliet. And now one winner and their partner will be given unprecedented access to the 13th century building, to step back in time and relive the powerful words of Shakespeare. To enter and have the chance to win this unique Only On Airbnb stay, Thais must pen a letter to Juliet, sharing their own poignant love story and explaining why they and their partner would be perfect guests. Entries can be submitted at airbnb.com/juliet until 11:59pm EST on 2nd February 2020 (11:59am on 3rd February 2020 Thailand time). Working with an Italian architect, Airbnb has transformed the centuries-old building into a sumptuous stay fit for a modern day Romeo and Juliet: one couple will be waited on by a personal butler and treated to a romantic candlelit dinner prepared by two Michelin star chef Giancarlo Perbellini in a glittering dining room filled with crystals, candles and flowers. And after a busy day of feasting, exploring and reading Juliet’s love letters, they will retire for the night to Juliet’s medieval-themed bedroom which features “Letto di Giulietta”, the original bed used in Zeffirelli’s classic 1960s movie ‘Romeo and Juliet’. The 13th century townhouse is a celebrated landmark and museum in the center of Verona and thanks to Airbnb and Verona’s Municipality, the building will be turned into a home for the first time since the 1930s. “Juliet’s House is the most important museum in the City of Verona, attracting millions of visitors every year. Partnering with Airbnb brings the widely known Shakespearian myth of Romeo and Juliet to life in a way never before offered. We are excited to promote our cultural heritage, share traditions that were previously safeguarded, and bring international visibility to the City of Verona,” said Federico Sboarina, Mayor of Verona Municipality. Highlights from the Stay include: A Romeo and Juliet inspired exploration of Verona, the city of love. Private tour of the most romantic home in the history of literature. Reading and replying to some of Juliet’s most recent love letters. Exclusive access to Michelin star chef Giancarlo Perbellini while he prepares the romantic feast. Candlelit dinner for two prepared by Giancarlo in Juliet’s sumptuous dining room. A night in Juliet’s traditional bedroom transformed for the evening into a romantic boudoir. “Every day countless new connections are made across the world by people travelling on Airbnb - creating new friendships and sometimes new love. Since 2008, an estimated one million guests have hosted their weddings on Airbnb. This Stay will give one couple the unique chance to celebrate their love in what is possibly the most romantic home in the history of literature,” said Giacomo Trovato, General Manager for Italy at Airbnb.