Saturday, July 4, 2015

Unforgettable, life-changing adventures in the new issue of Travelife Magazine: Hua Hin, Austria, New Orleans, Eastern Cape, London, Australia. And so much more.



For our latest issue, we’ve sought out some truly wonderful experiences that we independently did ourselves. And then we wrote about these because these places and experiences should be on your bucket list. 

We don't just visit a destination, you see. We make sure we experience it.

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THE REAL WAY TO TRAVEL

For our cover story, for instance, we visited the royal summer retreat of Hua Hin in Thailand thrice in 12 months.

Not just once for two or three days on a quickie, like some other magazines.



First, the Travelife Magazine team led by general manager Angelica Bayona flew to Bangkok and then drove to Hua Hin in Thailand to discover why His Majesty, the King of Thailand, and Thai nobility and aristocrats have long favored this seaside getaway only three hours away from Bangkok for their regular R&R.

Then I visited Hua Hin, a city I already know very well from fifteen years of visits, two more additional times to make sure we got everything covered.

At the beautiful Barai Suites of the Hyatt Regency Hua Hin,
living a #Travelife...
HUA HIN AS A WELLNESS,
ROMANTIC AND FAMILY DESTINATION

In Hua Hin, we found majestic palaces, beautiful hotels and countless fun options for family holidays.

We’ve literally put together the most comprehensive guide to Hua Hin and shortlisted the best places to stay, eat and see.

Lots of other travel magazines have put articles on Hua Hin in their magazines, but few magazines have covered the best of Hua Hin as extensively as we have. Don't leave home without a copy of our new issue, if you're headed for Thailand.


JEJU: 
THE NEW "IT" ISLAND OF ASIA.
NO VISAS NEEDED FOR MOST VISITORS, TOO.

Then, almost without pausing for breath, Angelica was back on an airplane again, this time to the resort island of Jeju in South Korea to see what all the current fuss over Jeju is about.

She became completely enamoured by the dramatic landscapes and quirky museums.



FOOD-TRIPPING IN AUSTRIA.
INCLUDING THE BEST PLACES TO EAT
TAFELSPITZ, WIENER SCHNITZEL AND SACHER TORTE. 

Our contributing editors have been equally busy traveling around the globe.



Jerome Velasco recently flew to Vienna to sample the top restaurants in the city. 

He went to Austria's most cutting-edge restaurant, and also to the best places to eat some of Vienna's most ubiquitous dishes, including tafelspitz (my personal favorite), wiener schnitzel and the famous sacher torte. 
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http://www.travelifemagazine.com/2015/06/laperitivo-italiano-on-july-22-at-seda.html

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 He returned home raving about the cutting-edge creations of Austria’s top chef and delighted enough with the original sacher torte of the famous Hotel Sacher to buy an entire cake to eat back in his hotel.

By the way, the best sacher torte I've had in recent memory was at the home of the former Ambassador of Austria. I'd spent an afternoon with him and his wife at their home to discuss Austrian history, which is one of my favourite topics, and I'd enjoyed tea and the most delicious sacher torte.

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GHOST HUNTING AND 
DIRTY DANCING IN NEW ORLEANS 

Meanwhile, Dondi Joseph, ever the adventurer with humour and a taste for anything fun and spontaneous, walked every neighborhood in New Orleans with gusto to find good vibes and lively street action, mouthwatering food, great music and a couple of ghosts.

And, oh yes, a risqué show or two, as burlesque performances abound here. Read more about his exploits in our latest issue. 

In the meantime, let's just say he found everything he was looking for...



RUNNING AFTER GIRAFFE IN EASTERN CAPE 

Meanwhile, South Africa is a favourite destination of many travel magazines, including Travelife Magazine, and much has already been written about the Western Cape and the Northern Cape. 

In fact, Travelife Magazine came out with the most comprehensive special on Northern Cape last year, long before it was even a destination for other magazines.

With over 30 Travelife Magazine friends and readers
in the Northern Cape last year,
living a #Travelife...

This Northern Cape special, which will be available shortly for download from wherever in the world you are, is still the most definitive guide ever produced by a travel magazine in Asia.

It's definitely not your typical travel feature. We visited Northern Cape thrice in a span of 12 months just to create this, so it wasn't just a matter of shoot-and-run for us.

My first trip to Northern Cape,
living a #Travelife...

TRAVELIFE IS AHEAD OF EVERYONE ELSE. 
AGAIN.

This time, we're ahead of everyone else again, with a feature on the wild and relatively unexplored Eastern Cape.

Last month I spent two weeks driving all over South Africa’s Eastern Cape in search of unique travel experiences for our readers, many of whom have already “been there and done that” all over the world.

 I loved a luxury safari by the sea, with giraffes running by the beach at breakfast, and a glamping weekend in a real tent on a Big 5 Game Reserve, complete with outdoor showers, wood-burning stoves by the bed, and drinks around a campfire.



NO ONE TRAVELS LIKE US.
OR WRITES LIKE US.

We at Travelife Magazine practically live in airplanes, but nevertheless, we find there’s never enough days to see everything wonderful and interesting in this world.

However we’re trying our very best to fit everything into a never-ending #Travelife. 

Indeed, no one travels like us. Or writes like us. Pick up a copy of our latest issue at the bookstore as soon as possible. On sale everywhere now.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Comparing the Uber and Blacklane car service in London


So in London last week, living a #Travelife, I finally got to try Uber.

Yes, until a few days ago, I was probably one of the few people on this planet who still had not used Uber although I use the Blacklane service a lot all over the world, finding it reliable and just as good -- if not better -- than hiring a car from my hotel.


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BLACKLANE IS CHEAPER
THAN A HOTEL CAR
AND USUALLY JUST AS NICE

Blacklane is definitely cheaper than the hotel option as well, although it's pricier than getting a taxi in most places. But then again, Blacklane usually has great cars for the "business class" option, so you can't really compare it to a taxi service.

I've used Blacklane everywhere, and most of the cars have definitely had that wow factor for a car hire.

A couple of times, a Benz S class has come to pick me up somewhere in the world. Also, you never get the impression that Blacklane drivers are just moonlighting or going from job to job, unlike with some Uber drivers apparently, as they always act very professional.

http://www.travelifemagazine.com/2015/06/laperitivo-italiano-on-july-22-at-seda.html

TAKING A CHANCE ON UBER

But in Manila the weekend before I left on my long summer holiday in Europe, I had dinner at the home of an old friend, and she and her husband and I sat up talking till early morning.

She uses Uber and with great satisfaction, and she convinced me to try it for the first time in London.

FIGURING UBER OUT FOR MYSELF

My companion in London was even more hopeless about Uber than I was, never having tried it and not intending to, so I was left to download the application and to figure it out for a trip to Victoria Station from our hotel. 

Fortunately, the porters at Cafe Royal, our hotel in London, were very solicitous when I told them we were using Uber for the first time, so they even went out into the street to look for the car I'd hired.

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I'd pressed Uber X by mistake, thinking this was the luxury option, when it turned out to be the budget option.

Fortunately a decent Toyota Prius came to pick us up and the trip to Victoria Station cost something like eight pounds.


LOOKING FOR A CAR TO DOVER

Needing a longer hire to get to Dover from London a few days later, we looked at Uber again as our other option was a hotel car for something like 320 pounds.

Meanwhile, Uber was estimating charges of 300 pounds on their luxury car and 200 pounds on a regular car. The budget option was going for 130 to 150 pounds.

This was when I said: "My goodness. For those prices, I'd rather take Blacklane."

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THE BENEFITS OF BLACKLANE

Blacklane was charging something similar to the regular Uber car service, but with Blacklane, you usually get an immaculate Benz with a well-dressed, well-mannered driver.

By the time we started looking in earnest for a car to Dover, it was a little too late to book them, as we were scheduled to leave in 90 minutes.

CALLING GERMANY FROM LONDON
FOR A CAR TO DOVER

So instead we called the Blacklane head office in Germany from London to book a car -- talk about the really long route here -- but within the hour everything was sorted out.

At 1145 AM, as requested, a well-mannered driver in an immaculate Benz indeed came to pick us up, and I was right on my way to another chapter in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

Verdict: Uber is alright for short distances, but I'll take Blacklane for long distances anytime.


Aman Resorts is opening Amanera in the Dominican Republic. A new destination for Aman junkies.



Amanera is scheduled to debut in the Dominican Republic this year, just in time for my never-ending #Travelife.

Located on a sublime clifftop overlooking the crescent-shaped Playa Grande beach, Amanera is surrounded by verdant jungle and framed by the island’s dramatic Cordillera Septentrional mountain range.

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VIRGIN LAND 
IN THE DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

Amanera is situated on 2,000 acres of virtually untouched land comprised of verdant peaks and lush jungle with centuries-old trees and royal palms stretching across nearly seven miles of continuous Atlantic seacoast on Hispaniola’s northern shore.

The surrounding region, meanwhile, is notable for being both pristine and sparsely populated, offering a variety of scenery that includes starkly beautiful desert areas, dramatic waterfalls and sleepy towns.

CASITAS WITH A VIEW



The resort, designed by John Heah, sits atop 60-foot cliffs and is set between the beach and golf course amongst landscaped gardens. It offers extensive dining, spa and recreational facilities, and 25 casitas each demonstrating a raw, organic design that complement the natural setting.

The casitas all have flat biodiverse roofs that cultivate green gardens, cool living spaces and further blur the lines between dwellings and jungle.



Every aspect of Amanera, including the casitas, has been designed to maximise the property’s extraordinary views.

Each enjoys unobstructed ocean vistas from an expansive terrace, outdoor seating and lounging areas and through floor-to-ceiling windows from the spacious, high-ceilinged living and sleeping areas.


ANOTHER DESTINATION
FOR AMAN JUNKIES

Vladislav Doronin, chairman of Aman, said, "Following on from the successful launch of Aman Tokyo and more recently Amandayan, this is one of a number of forthcoming projects that I know will be well received by our loyal Aman junkies and I am delighted, along with our new management team, to be in a position to keep their wanderlust sated."