Monday, November 30, 2015

The amazing views of suite 1453 of the Swissotel Bosphorus in Istanbul. And the best thing about a suite at the Shangri-la Paris.



Not all suites are created equal in a never-ending #Travelife, and I've stayed in many of the most wonderful suites around the world.

Just offhand, I suddenly remembered how much I loved the suites of the Shangri-la Paris.

The last suite I stayed in at the Shangri-la Paris had a lovely terrace and double views, but this isn't very unusual for a luxury hotel.

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THE BEST THING ABOUT 
A SUITE AT THE SHANGRI-LA PARIS

I guess the best thing about this Shangri-la Paris suite was its height.

You enter this particular suite via a formal entrance and long private corridor with an extra bedroom right by the entrance. Then, when you get to the suite proper, there's a living room and several seating areas in a spacious room that's two storeys tall.

Suite 1453 of the Swissotel Bosphorus

You don't feel like you're in a hotel at all, with a two-storey living room. It's really more like someone's really stylish apartment in the best neighbourhood of Paris.

Then the master bedroom is accessed via a pretty majestic staircase to one corner of the living room.

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Read more about 
the cool side of Istanbul
in an upcoming issue of 
#Travelife Magazine

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THE BEST SUITE RIGHT NOW
AT THE SWISSOTEL BOSPHORUS
IN ISTANBUL


Meanwhile, the top suites of the Swissotel Bosphorus are still being constructed.

However, at the moment, the best suite at the Swissotel Bosphorus is #1453, which is really a two-storey open plan bachelor bad with very modern interiors and the best views I have ever seen from a hotel room in Istanbul.


There are lots of beautiful suites in Istanbul, but there aren't very many suites with adjacent open terraces.

And I have to say that I probably stayed in the two suites with the most beautiful views in the entire city on this recent trip to Istanbul, living a #Travelfe.

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ABOUT SUITE 1453
OF THE SWISSOTEL BOSPHORUS

#1453 of Swissotel Bosphorus has views that leave you speechless from its open-air terrace.

You see everything worth seeing in Istanbul in one sweep so you don't have to leave your suite at all to literally see the sights.



And the suite certainly has many reasons to make you stay, including a bathtub with a view, a private sauna, a private steam room, and a very cool living room.

BEDROOM ON THE SECOND FLOOR


The bedroom is on the second floor as well, accessed via a modern-style staircase. Everything is open plan so you have a bed with a majestic view on the second floor and nothing is closed off.

The private office, too, has a big floor to ceiling window through which you can see the Karakoy and Eminonu districts of Istanbul.

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SIGNIFICANCE OF 1453
IN TURKISH HISTORY:
THE FALL OF CONSTANTINOPLE



Incidentally, 1453 is a very significant year for Turkey as this was the year of the fall of Constantinople. In other words, the very year  that Istanbul was conquered.

What a coincidence is that? Because, among many things, suite 1453 at the Swissotel Bosphorus is the perfect pad for a bachelor billionaire intent on a different kind of conquering of Istanbul -- whether for work or pleasure. Or both.

And, of course, this suite is also perfect for living a never-endingly eventful #Travelife.


Sunday, November 29, 2015

Buying organic olive oil soap and art on a shopping trip to Istanbul last week


So just last week I was strolling through an artsy neighbourhood in Istanbul with trendy new boutiques and some cutting-edge art galleries, living a #Travelife.

I had nothing in particular to buy unless something caught my eye, but it was one of the precious few afternoons this 2015 that I've been able to walk around by myself without any particular purpose except to stop wherever something interested me.

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MINIMAL LUGGAGE,
MINIMALIST ATTIRE

I had 2.5 pieces of luggage with the total equivalent of 95 kilos in terms of luggage allowance for this trip, and I'd brought very little with me.

Basically it was gym wear, boots and a thick parka for day, and a couple of Issey Miyake dresses for dinners and nights out, for this visit to Istanbul.

It was a very casual and relaxing holiday, especially relative to the next one I'm taking pretty soon, which will be to somewhere freezing cold. So half of my luggage for my next trip is already packed with fur coats and fur hats for carriage rides, evenings at the opera and simply for lounging around at our palace hotels.

The  unequalled view from my favourite suite in Istanbul,
living a #Travelife...

BRINGING A DJELLABA TO ISTANBUL

In fact, for this one-week holiday in Turkey, living a #Travelife, the heaviest thing in my luggage --at least on the way over -- was my djellaba, a Moroccan black long dress which I'd bought on my last trip to Marrakech.

I'd brought this with me as something convenient to wear and as protection from the cold. Interestingly, I fit right into the Istanbul scene with this long black Moroccan over-dress, especially as there were ladies from the Middle East everywhere in similar garb.

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Read more about 
the cool side of Istanbul
in an upcoming issue of 
#Travelife Magazine

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SHOPPING TRIP TO ISTANBUL



But everything I'd packed fit into one luggage on the way to Istanbul.

So with 1.5 pieces of luggage still completely empty and -- at least on that particular day -- no guy waiting impatiently by the store entrance for me to get back to sightseeing, I was very much spoiling for a shopping spree.

Speaking of views, some things don't get better than this either.
On the amazing terrace of Suite 1453 of the Swissotel Bosphorus in Istanbul,
living and loving a #Travelife.

SOME THINGS DON'T GET BETTER THAN THIS

It was a beautiful day and I was in this wonderful neighbourhood full of unusual things, and I had  a few hours, empty luggage back in the hotel and a credit card in my pocket.

The perfect combination.

But I didn't want to buy any more clothes and there was nothing I really wanted for my home, so the first thing I ended up buying was tons of organic olive oil soap.

Shopping in Istanbul last week,
living a #Travelife...

I'd walked into this store, you see, and began a conversation with the owner, only to find out that she sold the finest olive oil soap in Istanbul. Or at least that's what she said, with great confidence. No chemicals or add-ons to lower the ratio of organic olive oil in the soap. 

Nevertheless, I thought she was kidding about this "best in Istanbul" thing

THE WONDERFUL SMELL 
OF PURE OLIVE OIL SOAP

But I bought about 10 bars anyway, and my luggage weighed a ton (figuratively) but smelled wonderful the rest of the stay because of this soap.  And now I've put these in all my cabinets at home just for the smell.

My skin feels amazing, too, by the way, after using this soap since day 1.

Shopping in Istanbul,
living a #Travelife...
BUYING ARTWORK IN ISTANBUL

Then I went into another shop, just for fun. 

A couple of art pieces caught my eye and again I began a conversation with the shop owner who was a young man who'd done journalism in college who told me he didn't continue this career path because he had to earn a better living.

He sold me two beautiful pieces at very nice prices and wrapped everything so well that I simply checked these in at Ataturk International Airport in Istanbul along with my luggage home on a long haul flight, fingers crossed as I had to sign a waiver for it, but they made it without a scratch.

Shopping in Istanbul,
living a #Travelife...

HANGING ARTWORK FROM ISTANBUL
IN MY LIVING ROOM

I'm so happy I bought these artworks. 

Within hours of my arrival from Istanbul, I'd called a carpenter to come over to my house -- yes, I'm one of these people who doesn't know the meaning of the word "wait" -- and we'd found the perfect spot in my living room for them.

And now, whenever I walk past these paintings, which is several times a day, I find myself smiling and remembering a truly wonderful week in Istanbul, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

An Ilocos bazaar in Forbes Park with bagnet and longganisa to raise funds for a museum. And about year-end spring cleaning before flying off to Europe for Christmas holidays.

My Christmas tree this year...

Yesterday was a really busy day back at home, living a #Travelife, so I actually forgot to take photos of anything.

But after some minor attempts at spring cleaning and final touches on the Christmas decor in the morning, I headed over to a home in South Forbes Park to stock up on Ilocos goodies.

Decor in my home this Christmas...

This annual bazaar is organised by well-meaning and hardworking ladies of society to raise funds for a museum in Ilocos.

They have every possible Ilocos goodie for sale at reasonable prices so it's worth it to stock up at this bazaar.

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THE BEST ILOCANO FOOD.
SO GOOD AND 
YET SO BAD FOR THE HEART.

I ended up purchasing lots of longganisa and bagnet straight from Ilocos, as well as things like organic honey and natural sea salt. 

Natural sea salt is increasingly hard to find in Manila, even at the organic bazaars and other weekend bazaars, so I was really happy to buy lots of this.

Decor in my home this Christmas...

Then, as we were nearing lunch and large tents were set up in the lawn with catering services by Via Mare, we all commandeered tables and enjoyed Filipino delicacies like non-commercial empanada full of longganisa and egg, and pancit malabon with slices of crispy bagnet.

I bought these Christmas balls just the other day...

CRAFTS FROM ILOCOS

There were also some interesting crafts like handprinted fans, Filipiniana-inspired clothing, and beautiful Ilocos blankets.

I was so tempted to get an Ilocos blanket for my room, but I'm currently under strict instructions to myself to first finish spring cleaning and throwing out all the unnecessary items that have accumulated through the year, before making any more interior-related purchases.

So I just bought food and said hello to friends. All in all, a very nice morning in Forbes Park, shopping for a good cause and living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Discussing the film and the hero Heneral Luna at Cafe Scientifique at the Mind Museum



For Bonifacio Global City’s yearly Passionfest festival, The Mind Museum will be celebrating Philippine history and heroes with Café Scientifique: Heroes and Human Nature.


CAFÉ SCIENTIFIQUE: 
HEROES AND HUMAN NATURE

November 29, 2015
4 to 6 PM 
The Canopy Plaza 
The Mind Museum 

ABOUT CAFE SCIENTIFIQUE

Café Scientifique is an international movement and public science initiative wherein scientists and artists communicate their research and passions to the audience in an informal way to promote the public understanding of science.

Building on the success of the Heneral Luna film, Café Scientifique: Heroes and Human Nature will feature a panel of speakers who will engage the public in a conversation about our Philippine heroes and historical figures.



DISCUSSING THE FILM
HENERAL LUNA

Historian Dr. Ricardo Jose will discuss the context of the events that occurred in the film, and whether the film has helped to change the youth’s perceptions on history and their interest in learning about it.

Anthropologist Felipe Jocano Jr. will share how heroes were influenced by their social environments, and what qualities we look for in a figure for us to consider him or her as a hero.

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Heneral Luna main actor John Arcilla will also share his experiences and insights on playing this influential figure. The discussion will also conclude with an open forum, so the audience can also share their questions and stories with the group.

This lecture is free to the public, and requires no entrance fee. For inquiries and reservations, click here.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Join us for the final L'Aperitivo Italiano for 2015. At Seda Hotel BGC on December 1. Final chance to win 2 roundtrip business class tickets on Qatar Airways





Etihad Airways will offer direct flights to Rabat, Morocco from January 15, 2016. Etihad will fly from Manila to Rabat via Abu Dhabi on Wednesdays and Fridays

#Travelife Magazine in Rabat,
the newest destination of Etihad Airways in Morocco.

On sale everywhere now.

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, is increasing its presence in Morocco with the launch of a new twice-weekly service between Abu Dhabi and Rabat to create a direct link between the two capitals.

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Scheduled to start on January 15, 2016, the new service of Etihad Airways to Rabat will be operated on Wednesdays and Fridays using an A340-500 aircraft configured to carry a total of 240 passengers: 12 in First Class, 28 in Business Class, and 200 in Economy Class.

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ETIHAD AIRWAYS NOW FLIES
TO CASABLANCA AND RABAT

The new service is Etihad Airways’ second destination in Morocco and complements its existing daily service to Casablanca. From Manila, Etihad Airways​ ​will flies daily to Casablanca via Abu Dhabi and​, from January 15, ​to Rabat, Morocco via Abu Dhabi on Wednesdays and Fridays.

James Hogan, Etihad Airways’ President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “Our service to Casablanca has performed strongly since it was launched in June 2006 and I am delighted to build on this success with the introduction of the additional service to Rabat."

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He added: “The new service provides passengers with more choice and two-way connectivity between Morocco and the UAE, and onwards over our hub in Abu Dhabi to key destinations across our global network in the GCC, the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia."


Quirky new Christmas SnowPages from the Peninsula Hotels group


The Peninsula Hotels has just launched its Snowpages edition for 2015 and these are great presents for family, whether as a way to help children remember a favourite city they have visited or as a souvenir from an unforgettable trip you've taken with someone.

Or even as a collector's item.


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#Travelife Magazine:

Aman Tokyo
Palace Hotel

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These limited-edition SnowPages from the Peninsula Hotels group are set to be the must-have gift for travelistas this Christmas, and they can be picked up from any of the ten Peninsula Hotels around the world.

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MAKE MINE PENINSULA NEW YORK.
OR PENINSULA PARIS.
OR PENINSULA TOKYO.

Each one is decorated and dressed according to the city they can be found in. For example, the Peninsula Paris SnowPage is decorated with Chanel-style pearls and plane tree leaves, while the Peninsula Beverly Hills' super-cool SnowPage has sunglasses and a palm-decorated shirt.

Each year The Peninsula Hotels use the festive season to raise funds for the Make a Wish charity and other children's charities around the world. So far, they have managed to raise over $1.5 million via sales of these items every holiday season.

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FREE SUITE STAYS,
DELICIOUS DINNERS 
AND PENINSULA ACADEMY EXPERIENCES

To add to the excitement, Willy Wonka-style 'Golden Tickets' have been secretly hidden inside a select few SnowPage gift boxes in each city, giving lucky winners the chance to win suite stays, delicious dinners, festive afternoon teas and exciting Peninsula Academy family experiences.

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PS: This year marks the launch of an exclusive collaboration with cult Hong Kong toy art designers Papinee.  The collection includes ten uniquely designed SnowPages: each is a lovable Bellboy snowman toy dressed to impress in a customised costume featuring detailed designs and fine fabrics, inspired by each destination.

The strictly limited edition production means that only 300 iconic holiday ambassadors will be produced for each hotel. Perfect for a never-ending #Travelife.



Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Sunday champagne brunch at the Swiss Cafe of Swissotel Bosphorus in Istanbul


In Istanbul on Sunday, living a #Travelife, I had brunch with a friend before checking out and taking the midnight flight from Turkey back to Asia on Turkish Airlines.

Sunday brunch is a very big deal in Istanbul as the locals love getting together with friends and family for a long and leisurely meal. Most of the top hotels offer lavish brunches, and the newest Sunday brunch player on the luxury hotel market is the Swissotel Bosphorus, which just launched its Sunday brunch last weekend, which also happened to be my last day in Istanbul before flying out.

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A SWISS SUNDAY BRUNCH
AT THE SWISS CAFE
AFTER A MORNING AT THE PUROVEL SPA


Of course, I just had to try this the Swissotel Sunday brunch, and so I headed to the Swiss Cafe of the hotel straight from the spa.

I'd been at the Purovel Spa of the Swissotel for most of the morning, having a swim in its private saltwater pool, plus a couple of minutes in its salt steam bath and its Kneipp foot bath.

Incidentally, the Purovel Spa is part of the Leading Spas of the World and I reckon it's the best outfitted spa in Istanbul. More on this in a later blog entry.

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Read more about 
the cool side of Istanbul
in an upcoming issue of 
#Travelife Magazine

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BRUNCH WITH A VIEW


The Swissotel Sunday brunch is held in the very spacious Swiss Cafe with a large terrace and a view of the Bosphorus and the Dolmabahce Palace that is three floors tall.

It's full of Turkish delights including a vast array of mezze, an entire banquet of seafood, a kebabs station, and a whole room of desserts.

AUTHENTIC SWISS FOOD
IN ISTANBUL


It also had a proper Swiss station, being a Swiss hotel, with authentic raclette with all the trimmings, and sausages. I especially liked this as it's probably the only authentic Swiss food available in Istanbul, and it was really good.

I got full on the multiple servings of racket alone, last Sunday in Istanbul, living a never-ending, and never-endingly eventful #Travelife.


Monday, November 23, 2015

Dinner at Nicole, a gourmet restaurant at Tomtom Suites in Istanbul.Tomtom Suites is a member of the Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) group.



The other day in Istanbul, living a #Travelife, I had a wonderful 10-course dinner as the guest of former Secretary of Tourism, businessman and honorary consul Vince Carlos and his wife Tina.

And it was former Secretary Carlos' birthday and he was in Istanbul on official business as an honorary consul. I was happy to join them and news journalist Veronica Jimenez and her businessman husband Lito Jimenez, also an honorary consul, for a birthday celebration dinner in Istanbul.

"Let me know the details and I'll be there," I told them.


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Read more about 
the cool side of Istanbul
in an upcoming issue of 
#Travelife Magazine

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LIKE THE BACK OF MY HAND

Istanbul is one of these cities I know like the back of my hand so I was game to meet up with them anywhere.

Then, as they were all very busy, the choice of restaurant was left to me. However everyone wanted a Western-style meal in a relaxing but dressy venue, as the others were coming from a cocktail party.

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NICOLE AT TOMTOM SUITES
IN ISTANBUL

"Let's eat at Nicole then," I suggested.

Nicole is the rooftop restaurant of Tomtom Suites, a simple but truly lovely hotel popular with stylish travelers with interests in antiques, interiors and arts.



It's a member of the Small Luxury Hotels (SLH) of the world, so it's not quite your typical boutique hotel; and truly, everything about it is very nicely done.

The higher grade rooms and suites are massive, with contemporary interiors and lovely art everywhere. The equivalent of the presidential suite, which I've been stayed in, has a terrace that could host a cocktail party for 40 persons.

NEW CHEFS, GREAT FOOD
AT NICOLE



And Nicole, on the top floor with an amazing view of the Topkapi and the old town, is just wonderful. It's very well-rated for serving continental dishes with a twist at a Michelin-star level, and it offers two tasting menus with an excellent wine pairing.

As I had been in charge of choosing the restaurant, I was under some pressure to ensure the meal was good.



Fortunately everyone loved the food, which is contemporary Mediterranean cuisine created by Chefs Kaan and Aylin, an up-and-coming young Turkish couple who had trained in some of the famous restaurants of France, and we all enjoyed just another special evening in Istanbul, living a #Travelife.