Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Oberoi, Bali: soul of Bali in the heart of Seminyak


Exotic islands, swaying palm trees, golden beaches, all that is enchanting about Bali is waiting for you at The Oberoi.

Overlooking crashing surf and tropical sunsets along a 500-metre stretch of Seminyak Beach, The Oberoi, Bali is situated in the heart of Seminyak, with artisan boutiques, galleries and world class restaurants steps away.

A GARDEN PARADISE


The Oberoi, Bali is beautifully landscaped, with an ocean front swimming pool, set amidst 15 acres of mature tropical gardens. 

A mixture of private villas most with private pools, views, or both, dots the bucolic landscape.

Clusters of thatched-roof lanai rooms complement the topography.

FOOD HAVEN



There is also a host of dining options.

Kura-Kura restaurant features European, Asian and Indian cuisines.

Beachside Frangipani Cafe is a celebrated spot for alfresco dining overlooking the crashing surf.

Cultural performances feature at The Amphitheatre, while the Kayu Bar is the perfect place to escape the sun and enjoy a cool cocktail.


Seminyak Beach, Jalan Kayu Aya Denpasar 80361
Bali, Indonesia 
www.oberoihotels.com/oberoi_bali/


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A wonderful food-and-wine pairing with Carolyn & Jean Claude Martin of South Africa's Creation Wines

With Jean Claude, Carolyn and Dieter of Creation Wines

Yesterday, in South Africa, living a Travelife, we drove up a couple of hills just off the beautiful town of Hermanus, in the Western Cape, to get to the Creation Wines winery.

Creation Wines is a very well-regarded winery in the Western Cape, run by Carolyn and Jean Claude Martin.

Scroll down to read more...



A BIT OF EUROPE IN SOUTH AFRICA

It's in a beautiful location that reminds me of Europe, more than any other winery I've visited in South Africa so far.

The climate is much cooler than in other areas as well.

ONCE UPON A TIME, A SHEEP FARM


Carolyn and Jean Claude bought the land for Creation Wines some years back from a sheep farmer.

In less than ten years, they've turned it into a lovely destination winery with highly-respected wines, especially for pinot noir.



A GREAT HEADSTART

Both of them come from families with ties to winemaking in South Africa.

So you might say that they hit the ground running with their winery, from the very start.



Watch out for 
the TRAVELIFE APP for 
THE BEST OF SOUTH AFRICA
To be released soon

DIVISION OF DUTIES

Carolyn oversees the business and especially the sales and marketing side.

Meanwhile Jean Claude really is hands-on with the production of the wine -- everything from planting the grapes to bottling the wines.

In fact, he could only join us for a bit of our five-hour liquid lunch yesterday because he was so busy checking in advance the bottling process.


They're going to start picking the grapes in a few weeks and everything will start to get hectic soon, you see.

Plus, from this year, they're going to try their hand at making the Cap Classique wine, which is sparkling wine that is the equivalent of champagne in France.

EVERYTHING'S LOOKING GOOD



Creation Wines certainly looks like a very successful venture, from all angles.

It was a weekday yesterday, for instance, and their restaurant/ tasting venue was completely full.




A DESTINATION WINERY

And this isn't a winery in the middle of town, mind you.

It's not a spur-of-the-moment drop-in sort of place as it's about 12 kms from the main road into town.

Rather, it's a nice and scenic drive up the mountains -- which means that most of the people we saw there yesterday really drove all the way to be there.



LOOKING FOR PINOT NOIR

Then, there's a matter of their wines being in short supply -- especially for certain vintages of their pinot noir.

Not bad, for a relatively young winery.

FIVE HOURS OF GREAT FOOD & WINE



Creation Wines is also well-known for its food-and-wine pairings.

Our lunch took about five hours because we kept eating, drinking and talking.

I'll post more details of this lunch in another blog entry...



I didn't count the glasses of wine I had, but here's a photo I took of the glasses in front of me -- AFTER most of the other glasses had already been taken away.

As you can see, it was just another afternoon in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife...


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Buying an apartment in Cape Town and a vineyard in Stellenbosch

I've just spent three days
at the lovely and very special Grootbos Nature Reserve

This afternoon, as we were driving through somewhere especially picturesque in South Africa's Overberg region, living a Travelife, the companion suddenly pulled the car over and stopped it.

Then he said: "You certainly know how to plan the perfect trip."

Compliments are always music to my ears, of course.



Watch out for 
the TRAVELIFE APP for 
THE BEST OF SOUTH AFRICA
To be released soon


But he should have already known this.

So I said, or rather I teased him, and for the nth time actually: "Welcome to the Travelife."

Indeed, no one travels like us. Or plans a trip like us.

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THREE WONDERFUL TRIPS
TO SOUTH AFRICA. SO FAR.

All my trips to South Africa have been pretty fantastic.

But this particular trip to South Africa -- my third one in 14 months --  is probably the best one yet in terms of mix of experiences and in terms of the luxury factor.

And what he meant was that he liked every single hotel, restaurant and experience I'd chosen so far.

But the most charming hotel was yet to come, actually.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF TRAVELIFE


So far, I'd booked really fancy places to stay -- the kinds of hotels and lodges that I always like to stay in.

But for tonight, I actually chose an inn by the sea that is bigger on charm than on luxury.

Although it's still pretty luxurious, of course. In fact, it's a really lovely hotel that I'd happily recommend to anyone.

More details on this hotel in a later blog entry....

TWO REASONS FOR MY CHOICE TONIGHT



I chose it for two reasons:

One, we were coming from a very long and liquid lunch with the owners of Creation Wines, and I didn't want to drive very far after that.

Two, I'd heard that this charming hotel had a very nice private wine cellar, from which guests can take their picks of wines for dinner.

This companion is very big into wine, and so I'd basically chosen this hotel for him.

THE RIGHT CHOICES



Well, I was right. He loved the hotel.

In fact, he loves South Africa.

He said again today: "I could live here."

This is coming from someone who'd never even been to Africa before this trip.

And as of today, he already found a Cape Town apartment he likes. 

And he still wants to buy a vineyard in the Western Cape.

RUST EN VREDE ISN'T FOR SALE

Rust en Vrede's award-winning chef at work

In fact, he wants to buy Rust en Vrede, the lovely winery and restaurant we'd gone to some days back.

It's a very well-regarded boutique winery owned by a famous South African rugby player.

And it also happens to be home to one of the best restaurants in the world.

It's also not for sale.



BACK TO STELLENBOSCH TOMORROW

But that isn't stopping him.

So we've had to change our plans slightly to return to Stellenbosch to find a vineyard for him to buy, if we can.

Yes, as you can see, it's just another day in my never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hiking down to a historic cave, shark waters and a perfect sunset from Grootbos



Yesterday, along South Africa's Overberg Coast, living a Travelife, we decided to hike down to the beach with a guide and explore some 40,000 year old caves.

The Overberg Coast is not as famous or as accessible as the shorelines nearer Cape Town.

But I'm happily discovering that this area is very beautiful.

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TWO HOURS FROM CAPE TOWN

It's about a two-hour drive from Cape Town, up and through lovely mountains -- and then you'll find yourself in the Overberg Coast, which is full of pretty towns, deserted beaches and boutique wineries.



In fact, today, we're off to have lunch at one of these boutique wineries, where the owners have created a very unique and interesting pairing of food and wine.

THE ULTIMATE FOODIE TRIP



I'm quite excited for this, even if every meal on this trip so far has been excellent in terms of food and wine.

We did book some of South Africa's best restaurants -- basically the last of the Top 10 restaurants for 2013 that I still hadn't tried on previous trips.



THE BEACH

The beach we went to yesterday was just stunning.

And next to it was an amazing stretch of white sand that went on for miles.



Unfortunately, most of the white sand beaches here are just for strolling rather than swimming, as this area is known for being one of the most shark-infested waters in the world -- even near the shore.

Our guide said: "Just last week, some people from Cape Town didn't follow the advice and they went swimming just over there. One of them got bitten by a shark, although fortunately it wasn't a fatal bite."



So no swimming for us, even if there are some designated safe places like coves with lots of seaweed.

Apparently sharks dislike getting entangled in seaweed.

A 20,000 YEAR OLD HOME



The cave was very interesting, however, and it only entailed a short hike up through the rocks.

When we finally clambered over the rocks, we found ourselves in a cavernous space that some members of the Khoi Khoi tribe reportedly called home about 20,000 years ago.



It was a very nice way to spend the afternoon.



But we made sure we were back on top of the hill by sunset for a wonderful last sundowner at the lovely Grootbos Private Reserve, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.

Positive inspiration at Cloud Estate in Stellenbosch



In South Africa last week, living a Travelife, we stayed at a lovely and contemporary boutique hotel called Cloud Estate, in the hills of Stellenbosch.


Stellenbosch, which is about 45 minutes away from Cape Town, is in the heart of South Africa's wine country.

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LIKE AT FIRST SIGHT

I was charmed, from the first minute I walked into this quiet and understated, but very stylish hotel.

And I loved the incredible views from practically every room.


STYLISH AND FUN

Cloud Estate was designed by a Dutch firm, so it has lots of art and quirky touches.

They've even included some positive thinking inspirational messages in its lobby.

Reading these messages as I passed the lobby always made me smile.

I'm posting some of the signs here for you to see...






Holy Week and summer cruises with Costa Victoria and TravelPeople



Cruise holidays are getting more popular nowadays.

In cruising, one gets to visit more than one destination without the hassle of packing and unpacking just to be in various tourist destinations.

On just one journey, there are so many new experiences to be explored.

Whether it is your maiden cruise or as a seasoned cruiser, Costa Cruises is an incredible choice when you are deciding to take a vacation cruise. And that’s just what TravelPeople did.

CRUISE WITH COSTA CRUISES THIS HOLY WEEk



Being a preferred sales agent in the country, TravelPeople embarked on a first in Philippine cruising, doing a half charter cruise this Holy Week.

On April 14-19, Costa Victoria, a newly refurbished cruise vessel of Costa, is sailing with half of its ship filled with Filipino cruise passengers.



FREE FOR KIDS UNDER 12

Timely slated this summer in April, this Holy Week Cruise offers children (12 years and below) free of cruise fare when sharing cabin with paying adults.

Onboard Costa Victoria, you get to enjoy the luxury and pampering without necessarily spending extravagantly.

This Holy Week Cruise Holiday offers cabin packages and deals that suit your preference so you can budget your holiday vacation. Affordable pricing are available for each of the cabin categories.



CRUISE THE WORLD WITH COSTA

Interesting and equally popular destinations such as Shanghai (China), Cheju (Korea), and two ports in Japan such as Fukuoka and Kagoshima are the ports to be visited in this sailing.

This is perfect for a family holiday, group getaway, or for an intimate anniversary or honeymoon trip.


THE EXPERIENCE ONBOARD




Costa Victoria offers a range of high quality on-board entertainment and activities to the passengers.

From Italian classes whether language or cooking demos, dancing lessons, discos, crafts are just some of the amusements that Costa Victoria can offer.

You will be shown around the cruise ship which includes a tour at the galley and other onboard amenities.



SHOP WITH CONFIDENCE

Only Costa offers a 30-day price match guarantee in its Duty Free Shop of favorite European brands onboard.

If you find an identical item on shore either during the cruise or when you disembark, Costa Victoria will refund the difference – a true deal!

COSTA FOR KIDS



Costa has a kids program called Squok Club which will please your kids.

The Squok Club, designed for little ones, includes one for toddlers, young kids, and even for junior teens and teens. Competent animators will keep the children very happy, as they have fun playing with them and other kids on the vessel.

They will be enjoying their own great recreational activities, while couples and group alike join a shore excursion.

Among the wide selection of shore excursions, the most popular ones for this Holy Week Sailing include:

Discovering Cheju Island
Fukuoka Full Day 
Kyushu National Museum Tour
Visit to Kagoshima
Visit to Sakurajima 
and not to miss a great deal of shopping to complete your cruise experience. 

HOW TO JOIN THIS HOLY WEEK CRUISE

To join this Holy Week cruise, contact your preferred travel agent or directly ask TravelPeople for reservations and other details.

Various payment gateways through prominent credit cards like BPI and BDO are made available for convenient and affordable payment schemes.

Special discounts and privileges can also be availed of like free upgrade to higher cabin category for early bird clients.

Visit TravelPeople website at 
www.travelpeople.com.ph 
Tel  4658895, 4658896, 4658897, 4658890, or 4658898