Sunday, July 31, 2011

A really sweet deal from Makati Shangri-la

FOR ONLY PhP 8500++

Spend your weekend at the Makati Shangri-la with this special Travelife Magazine deal for PhP 8500++, applicable for Friday to Sunday night bookings until August 31, 2011:

Book an Executive Room and enjoy an automatic upgrade to a Deluxe Room in the Horizon Floor, where you can enjoy the following Horizon Club Benefits:

• Private check-in and check-out at the Horizon Club Lounge

• Check out as late as 6 PM (subject to availability)

• Full use of the 24-hour Horizon Club Lounge with complimentary Wi-Fi

• Breakfast, high tea, evening cocktails, and hors d’oeuvres

• One suit pressing per stay

• Shoeshine service

• Daily international newspaper

• In-room DVD entertainment system

• Concierge service

• Selection of beverages and snacks throughout the day

• Use of a Club Lounge meeting room for up to 2 hours per day (subject to availability)

Available on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights until August 31, 2011. Special rates are only offered to Filipino residents and Travelife readers. Guest must present a copy of the Travelife Magazine with the Makati Shangri-La article or the Travelife E-blast and valid Philippine IDs. Contact (63) (2) 813-8888 ext. 7345 and 7346 for inquiries.

* * *


No long check-in lines, tedious traveling

and waiting at airports.

A staycation at the Makati Shangri-La

proves the best and most convenient weekend escape.

It had been a really busy week and I was just hankering to go off on a mini-break somewhere, but it was too late to book flights and I wasn’t really in the mood to be dealing with crowds at airports. That was when the idea for a staycation somewhere convenient and luxurious hit me. All I wanted – and desperately needed – was a change of atmosphere and bit of pampering. If I could get these somewhere close by, I certainly didn’t need to go out of town for a holiday.

This was how I ended up checking into the Shangri-la Makati one Friday evening after work. “What kind of holiday is that?” My friends asked me, when I told them I was going on vacation by staying over at a hotel 15 minutes away from work.

“The perfect kind,” I replied. “No stress, no traffic, no rushing. No holiday hangovers and no needing a vacation from a vacation. Just pure R&R for 24 hours.”


A staycation really is a great way to temporarily get away from everything because you can do so without much fuss. And I’m not exaggerating when I say that I could literally feel the stress melt away the moment I was ushered into my spacious corner room on the 21st floor. In fact, my room was so nice and comfortable that I decided to stay in and order room service for dinner and then just book a massage afterwards. After endless days of eating out, it was wonderful to stay in and dine on a tray on the bed, wearing a cotton yukata and watching TV.

The Makati Shangri-La spa is open 24 hours so I booked my Judith Jackson aromatherapy massage for 930 PM to help me relax just before sleeping. I was really lucky to get a great therapist who put me in chill-out mood in no time, and that instantly made a difference to my stressed out life.


The next day, feeling completely rejuvenated, I readily took on the Makati Shangri-La’s famous breakfast buffet at Circles. I’d heard so much about this gustatory feast but I’d never dared take on the eating challenge until then. Fortunately, my cousin agreed to be my partner- in-crime, and together we tackled the truly endless array of delicious food that looked like a delicious breakfast buffet merged into lunch and dinner. The Circles buffet offered excellent variety – everything from freshly-made vegetable and fruit juices to salmon sashimi, spicy noodles, dim sum and even piping hot bibingka.

I spent the rest of the morning indulging in beauty treatments including a facial and a manicure. Then, for lunch, I chose to have dim sum at the Shang Palace, Makati Shangri-La’s Cantonese restaurant, which is considered among the best in the city and well- known for its excellent dim sum. It was bustling with weekend diners – many of them celebrating their birthdays – and this just added to the festive atmosphere.

And before I knew it, my holiday was over, but at least getting home was just a matter of jumping into the car and heading down the road. Talk about a wonderful weekend. I left the Makati Shangri-La completely refreshed and already planning another staycation before I’d even turned out of Ayala Avenue.


with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace

TRAVELIFE Gastronomic Tour of Italy
September 17-25

For reservations and information, please contact:
Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE
813-8400/ 892-2620


Saturday, July 30, 2011

In breathless praise of the slow life

I'm typing this out by the infinity pool of a resort in Batangas with my feet on the wicker table and a truly marvelous sunset and seaview in front of me. The Travelife TV team is shooting a segment of our upcoming television show, Travelife's Frequent Flier, here and I have several minutes before dinner to relax, to continue working on the magazine and appreciating nature's beauty.

It's my nth hotel in my nth destination in a matter of weeks; and amidst the perpetual packing and unpacking, I'm now beginning to realize that perhaps the only thing constant in my life these days is that I'm never home. So instead, I've learned how to carry home and office with me everywhere I go. Yes, the venue has become immaterial as I've acquired the necessary logistics and learned to constantly operate on Manila time, work under all circumstances and provide instant feedback to my team regardless of where in the world I am. And, more importantly, I've gotten into the mindset needed for a professional perpetually on-the-go.

Right now I'm working a few meters from the beach, but last week it was at several airport lounges and before that by a coffee shop on an icy lake in Japan. Meanwhile, last month I was either answering emails from a luxury resort in Thailand or from the deck of a cruise ship anchored off Sandakan, Malaysia. Many people take business trips occasionally, but few are like me, truly on a never-ending one. I'm on a plane somewhere every week, and loving it.


But as the world moves closer towards seamless connectivity, constant business travel will become the norm. This may be the new way of travel and work in the 21st century as these two concepts merge. I like to describe it as multi-tasking combined with multi-tripping -- meaning going on a never-ending journey while maintaining work and life uninterrupted. For global travelers, this will eventually be the only way to live.

To travel sometimes means a fun holiday. However, endless travel without the work to show for it simply becomes an escape from reality; while constant travel at the expense of one's personal life would be just sad. To have a life and to continue work while on the move is the real challenge for today’s business warriors -- but that's what it means to truly have a Travelife.


With a different venue every other day and nothing to anchor you but luggage and a passport, it's easy to lose one's self and to just exist on a series of superficial encounters. But while there's always such a danger, constant travel also offers the valuable opportunity of finding one's self through extraordinary experiences. It often happens that by coming into contact with other cultures and by being able to contrast these with one's own, one gets a better grasp of his or her reality.

Seeing another country and coming up close and personal with a set of values so different from and yet quite similar to one's own can make a person more fully understand what they stand for and what's important to them. Also, there are many valuable lessons to learn from people who live in another way.



M-W-F, 5 to 6 pm

from September 2

This is what happened in April, when I flew to beautiful Sri Lanka with the Travelife TV team to shoot a series of television episodes. It was a fast-paced schedule that was so jampacked with activities that I had a total of about 30 minutes for shopping throughout the entire week. But we had the most amazing adventures and also the most incredible fun. Our dinners were nonstop laughing events, precious memories of times when work is fun and fun is work.

I've been to some of the most exotic places on this planet, but Sri Lanka was largely an unknown entity; so I was very excited to discover more about this island nation. In the process, I acquired than data about a place or a culture; I learned about myself.

From the outset, Sri Lanka charmed us completely with its pristine nature, laid-back lifestyle and friendly people. We spent a week crisscrossing the country on one-lane roads that we reluctantly shared with motorbikes, elephants and the odd peacock. Coming from a highway culture and a life of perpetual breathlessness, it was initially maddening to have to literally slow down; but eventually we learned to keep pace with the animals and to like it.



And this is where I had an epiphany: the fast pace of life enables us to reach our goals quicker and to aim higher; but it's the slowness that allows us to appreciate what we already have. A good balance will make most of us happy.

There's wisdom in living in sync with nature's rythmns and in going with the flow and following our own cycles; there’s peace in accepting one's fate. This is a philosophy that we who live in a 24-hour metropolis don't naturally imbibe, but it's just one of the many lessons this never-endingly breathless Travelifer learned while journeying through Sri Lanka.

This appears in the June-July 2011 issue of


still on sale everywhere now.


with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace

TRAVELIFE Gastronomic Tour of Italy
September 17-25

For reservations and information, please contact:
Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE
813-8400/ 892-2620


Friday, July 29, 2011

Curry and some hypnotic dancing


Travelife once again brings

Travelife India Nights to Manila

After the overwhelming success of the first Travelife India Night in February this year, TRAVELIFE Magazine once again brought Travelife India Night at the Dusit Thani to the Philippines. This event was organized with the cooperation of the Embassy of India, the Dusit Thani Manila, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, and Philippine Airlines; and together, these prestigious companies mounted two evenings of the most authentic Indian culture the Philippines has ever witnessed.


The performances featured Ms. Ranjana Gauhar, one of India's most highly-awarded classical dancers, together with her Odissi Dance Group. Ms Gauhar is a leading exponent of the Odissi classical dance style, which originates from the eastern state of Orissa. Ms Gauhar traveled all the way from India just to perform at the two Travelife India Nights.

To open the special performance on July 16, and to close the gala dinner on July 18, Ms. Madhumita Saiini, a Manila-based classical dancer, performed a series of dances based on Indian folklore. Ms. Saiini studied at the Uday Shankar Academy of Creative Dance in Delhi and now choreographs and directs important festivals and dances in Manila.


Last July 16, Travelife Magazine publisher Christine Cunanan and the Dusit Thani Manila co-hosted a free performance for the general public to provide the experience of travel and Indian culture to as many people as possible. Over 400 Travelife readers and friends, including members of local photography clubs; and school teachers, high school and university students from all over Metro Manila attended this special performance.


On July 18, over 200 VIPs enjoyed a gala performance and five-course degustation meal, including senior government officials and foreign dignitaries, CEOs of some of the largest companies in the country, and Travelife’s valued readers and friends. The VIPs were headed by Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim, Madame Gretchen del Rosario, and US Ambassador Harry Thomas.


Madhumita Saiini performing for Travelife India Night

World-class Indian dancers visited the Philippines specifically to perform for Travelife India Nights. Ranjana Gauhar, multi-awarded classical dancer and recipient of some of India’s top cultural distinctions, was the main performer together with her Odissi group of dancers and musicians.

“Travelife is fully committed to sharing the enriching and educational experience of travel and culture with as many people as possible,” said Travelife Magazine publisher Christine Cunanan, in her opening remarks. “The more people experience other cultures, the more they understand each other and hopefully there will be less conflicts and wars.”

Travelife India Nights were also sponsored by

Ralph’s Wines & Spirits, Plantation Bay, Eskaya Resorts.


US Ambassador Harry Thomas enjoys the event.

Mr. and Mrs. James Go of JG Summit

Standard Chartered Country Head Mahendra Gursahani
and Mrs. Subh Gursahani

Ms. Manasi Kumar, Madame Gretchen del Rosario,
Madame Indira Kumar,
Ambassador Thomas,
Ms Dawn McLarren

Travelife's head table: DOT Secretary Alberto Lim,
Australian Ambassador,
Standard Chartered CEO & Madame,
Singaporean Ambassador A. Selverajah,
Sri Lankan Ambassador Bennet-Cooray,
Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq,
Turkish Ambassador Hatice Pinarisik,
PAL CEO Jaime Bautista,
RPN CEO Antonio Albano

RPN CEO Antonio Albano,
Dusit Thani GM Prateek Kumar

Claude and Mary Ann Tayag,
Marivic Vazquez, Pinky Troesch

Australian Ambassador R. Campbell-Smith,
Travelife Magazine Publisher Christine Cunanan,
Indian Ambassador Yogendra Kumar,
Madame Indira Kumar,
former Secretary Narzalina Lim,
Mr. Ludwig Rieder,
DOT Secretary Alberto Lim

Philippine Star EVP Grace Glory-Go,
Spanish Ambassador Jorge Domecq

Travelife board member Marivic Puyat-Limcaoco,
Bingo Limcaoco,
Travelife board member Maja Olivares-Co,
Eric and Pam Ramirez,
Marivic Vazquez, Pinky Troesch,
Claude and Mary Ann Tayag

Madhumita Saiini in a hypnotic dance

with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace

TRAVELIFE Gastronomic Tour of Italy
September 17-25

For reservations and information, please contact:
Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE
813-8400/ 892-2620


Thursday, July 28, 2011

Juju juices, Syrian food and a girls' night in

Good morning from the studio of the radio station of 94.7 FM, on a really early morning after a very late night. Yesterday was a completely busy day that began with a morning meeting with the Cambodian Ambassador, followed by a very important board meeting, and the two cocktail parties and a really fun dinner.

One of the last cocktail parties was the 25th Anniversary Party of the Philippine Star at the ballroom of the Makati Shangri-la. This was a really well-attended event star-studded with VIPs, including so many friends and partners of Travelife Magazine. Congratulations to our wonderful friends at the Philippine Star.


Then it was so quickly 9 PM and I headed off to join a group of very well-placed, well-traveled and incredibly private ladies for a belated birthday dinner at a friend's house nearby. I'd intended to just stop by for a coffee and a quick catch-up with everyone as it had been a really a long day, but it was so fun that I ended up staying till way past midnight laughing and chatting on her terrace. I don't have too much time for an evening of girls' talk these days; and if you've been reading this blog, you'll know that I hang out more with guys than with girls. But that's mainly because I do business with more men than women.

This group of girls are probably among the most well-traveled ladies on the planet. You name it, they've been to it. And they're very fun. I traveled with some of them to India last year and it was an incredible 12 days or so of good food and endless shopping.

Anyway, my friend has a most beautiful house, reflective of the many exotic places she's visited and the cultures she's encountered. Her walls are a perfect shade of red, accented by tasteful art and comfortable and graceful furniture. What I like best are her unusual lamps, located all over her home, giving off a truly wonderful effect.

She had the most amazing lamps on her dining table and on the terrace and in the living room. Her dining room lamps were particularly beautiful and they really added glamour to her dining experience. "Where did you get those lamps?" I whispered to her almost as soon as I sat down, and she replied: "Bangkok." Her other lamps included a handmade lamp for candles by a famous local pottery artist, and a couple of Arabic lamps handcarried from her many trips to Turkey, Syria, Lebanon and Egypt.


When I walked in, they'd almost finished dinner, which was an authentic Syrian feast of mezze and hot meals, and a scrumptious dessert. The table was set in a truly lovely way and they'd saved a place for me at the end; I've been on the Juju juice detox the whole week -- and I feel amazing as a result -- and I'd already had a few plates of foie gras and other dangerous things to eat at the Philippine Star party, so I was really determined to end my evening here with a cup of tea.

But when I saw the dinner laid out so beautifully, all my defenses crumbled and I succumbed to a whole plate of Arabic spreads and salads, followed by another plate of rice dishes with lamb and chicken. Yes, I'm on the Juju detox and I basically had two dinners last night. I also had a big merienda at my board meeting yesterday afternoon, as the board of directors I met up with love to eat; and their boardroom sideboard was groaning with arroz caldo, chocolate sapin-sapin, pansit which I ate with really spicy chorizo and puto, all courtesy of the X/O46 restaurant nearby.


The conversation last night was also very stimulating -- and this was what prompted me to stay way past my usual bedtime. We'd talked about the joys of dancing the tango in Argentina -- one of the ladies had just done this, and she did the rounds of all the tango venues in Buenos Aires -- and about life in London. Three of the ladies had been to boarding school in the UK as kids, so there were a lot of authorities in the room. We also talked about Turkey, which we all loved hands down, and discussed our upcoming trips to Italy. Two of us were headed for Italy in a few weeks, although I have trips to Malaysia and other countries coming up before that. It was an evening of talking all about a Travelife.

And I began writing this in the studio at 94.7 FM and I'm ending this in the studio of 99.5 RT. Yes, I've been typing this while talking on radio. Talk about multi-tasking. And I'm guesting on 99.5RT DJ Neil Pagulayan's show from now, and keeping him company on the air this morning since his partner's away today. Just another day in our never-ending and never-endingly eventful Travelife. Have a wonderful Friday wherever in the world you are.


with Margarita Fores
and the Embassy of Italy & Bacchus Epicerie
September 8 at Whitespace

TRAVELIFE Gastronomic Tour of Italy
September 17-25

For reservations and information, please contact:
Bernice or Rachel at TRAVELIFE
813-8400/ 892-2620