Friday, May 27, 2016

Ginggay Hontiveros poses in Istanbul for the cover of Travelife Magazine



GINGGAY HONTIVEROS posed serenely for our cover in spite of Istanbul’s chilly autumn weather. 

"Travelling allows me to pursue things I am passionate about, including life, adventure, indigenous culture, relationships with people; while capturing scenes in my mind or through a lens, resolving to help the make our natural world a little better one day at a time.”





WHAT TOOK YOU OUT OF YOUR TRAVEL COMFORT ZONE RECENTLY? 

Kayaking through the freezing waters of Antarctica was quite an experience. I am relatively comfortable in just about any setting or environment, but the rapid change in weather at a moment’s notice in Antarctica, coupled with high wind and waves, made paddling extremely tough.

I actually thought I would never get back to the ship as we had paddled out quite a distance in open water among icebergs. But would I do it again? Yes.



TRAVELING IS THE BEST CURE FOR... 

A cynical mind.

MOST INTERESTING ENCOUNTER WITH A LOCAL? 

Being up close and personal with the Masai in Africa and actually having a growling lion just outside my tent make for the most unforgettable – if not nerve- wracking – encounter I’ve had so far.



WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO WIN A TRIP TO? 

On my bucket list of musts: diving in the Galapagos and Tubbatha, exploring Chile and Peru, seeing the Artic polar bears, and navigating the Amazon River.

WHAT’S YOUR LATEST, COOLEST TRAVEL DISCOVERY? 

I recently took up diving. The underwater world is amazing. I can’t wait to discover more.



Monday, May 23, 2016

The top attractions of Istanbul in the latest issue of Travelife Magazine



This cover of the latest issue of #Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, was shot in beautiful Istanbul, a city I first laid eyes on 25 years ago. I remember walking around the largely pedestrian Old Town, with very few other tourists around, thinking I had opened a page of the Bible and jumped straight in.

Unlike now, there were few truly grand hotels then and the loveliest among them was the original Pera Palas with its ornate filigreed dining room and old-fashioned elevator, complete with velvet banquette seat, potted plants and uniformed attendant.

INTOXICATING ISTANBUL. 
A CITY FOR ALL SENSES. 



These days, Istanbul is a mixture of old, edgy and new, but nevertheless it is still as fascinating and intoxicating as before.

The Travelife Magazine team for this cover included Managing Editor Ceia Ylagan, Creative Director Bryan Arevalo, Contributing Editor Gabby Malvar and cover model Ginggay Hontiveros.

In the course of one week in Istanbul, living a #Travelife, we tried to capture this magic for our readers and I hope this magic is very evident.


PLANNING A TRIP TO TURKEY.
AND ABOUT THE BEST HOTELS IN ISTANBUL.

However, this is something best experienced for one’s self, so I hope you will read our stories and book a trip to Turkey sometime soon. We’ve even made the planning easier for you by providing a shortlist of some of the best hotels in Istanbul.


At the Four Seasons at the Bosphorus
in Istanbul, living a #Travelife...

There are so many wonderful options now compared to on my first visit, and some of these are lovely enough to label as attractions on their own:


BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS,
SO NEAR HEAVEN 



Equally fascinating as a destination for your bucket list is the enigmatic Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan, which Contributing Editor David Lim explored practically from end to end with a group of photographers.

David has traveled the world many times over, but when I asked him to name one place he cannot stop thinking about, he unhesitatingly replied: “Bhutan, although I can’t give you one specific reason why. It was the whole experience.

His adventure trip unlike any other, accompanied by captivating photographs and tales of a breathless climb up to a remote Paro Taktsang monastery, will certainly ignite your wanderlust.

REMBERING THE GAIETY
AND ART OF PARIS 



Contributing Editor Dondi Joseph also takes a walk on the wild side – of elegant, civilized Paris, that is.

Returning recently to this city he knows inside out, he spent some happy days amidst the gay topsy-turviness of Montmartre, revisiting old haunts and discovering new ones, as well as mulling on the colorful history of Paris' most artistic enclave.

TRADING PLACES 


Meanwhile, equestrienne Michelle Barrera, our newest columnist, exchanges her horses for a car just for a weekend beginning this issue.

She gives us a lively account of her adventures with a tiny car with lots of style and power and — perhaps most importantly — space for practically all her horsey gear and a couple of friends besides.

THE BEST RYOKAN IN JAPAN



Finally, in this issue I write about a stay at one of Japan's two top ryokan, as far as art connoisseurs are concerned. This top ryokan is only a 90-minute drive from Tokyo and it's tasteful but ever so understated -- exactly what the Japanese want, although some foreigners might be left asking: "What's the big deal?"

This ryokan also has over 500 years of history and a great hot springs source that always leaves me feeling completely rejuvenated after a stay.

Intrigued? Get a copy of our latest issue at the bookstores. On sale everywhere now.



OTHER FEATURES IN THIS ISSUE:

The latest cool places in New York
How to do Copenhagen on a budget
A photo safari with wild horses in France
The insider's guide to Denmark 
The most unique hotel room in Italy
The world's best street art


Italian soprano Elena Monti to sing at the Cultural Centre of the Philippines (CCP) in Manila



The Cultural Center of the Philippines, in cooperation with Caruso Ristorante Italiano, Rustan Commercial Corporation and Philippine Italian Association (PIA), presents Italian soprano Elena Monti in an evening of classical vocal music with Filipino tenor Ronan Ferrer and pianist Raul Sunico, Musicgear Chamber.

#Travelife Magazine, the leading travel & lifestyle publication, is a proud partner of this event.

They will be accompanied by the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra string ensemble under the baton of Maestro Ruggero Barbieri at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino (CCP Little Theater) on May 28, 2016 at 7:30 PM.

ABOUT ELENA MONTI

Born in Milan, Italy, Elena Monti graduated at her hometown’s school of music with top score and special mention. She later won several competitions in Italy and abroad.

She won the selections for the Scala Singing Academy, where she took part in Zauberflöte, L’Elisir d’ Amore in the role of Adina. She was also the lead in Armide directed by Maestro Muti in an Easter Concert at the Ravenna Festival.



TOP ROLES IN OPERA

Elena Monti has performed at some of the most prestigious Italian and international theaters in the world, including the Teatro alla Scala (La Scala Theater). The varied roles she has performed include:

Mimì in La Bohéme
Donna Anna in Don Giovanni
Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte

In 2010 she opened the opera season at San Carlo Theater in Naples with the lead role in La Clemenza di Tito. She also recently performed in concerts in Tokyo, at Teatro Real in Madrid and she debuted the role of Violetta in La Traviata at Teatro la Fenice in Venice.

Tickets are Php1,800 and Php1,300

Visiting some of the best sightseeing attractions of Indonesia

The Travelife Magazine team in Hokkaido
last week

Last week, most of the #Travelife Magazine team were in Hokkaido for a company trip, living a #Travelife. This was so enjoyable. I don't think I ever stopped laughing the entire time.

Unfortunately, Travelife Magazine General Manager Gel Bayona couldn't join us in Japan as she flew off to Indonesia for a 10-day trip as a guest of the government of Indonesia.

So everyone at Travelife Magazine really gets to live a never-ending #Travelife.

THE BEST SIGHTSEEING SPOTS
IN INDONESIA



She sent this update from the beautiful island of Bali, living a #Travelife:

"Last week, visiting Indonesia, living a #Travelife, I was one of the delegates for the JVP 2016 (Journalist Visit Program). The tourism office of the Government of Indonesia invited media from the ASEAN countries to experience the best of Indonesia.

MEETING THE GOVERNOR 
OF JAKARTA


First stop was Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, where we were able to meet the Governor of Jakarta, Mr. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, as well as the different key people in the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Jakarta is a concrete jungle known as Indonesia's shopping haven. It's also the capital of one of the fastest growing economies in Southeast Asia.

THE UNDISCOVERED
ISLANDS OF INDONESIA.
AND ABOUT CLIMBING MOUNT WAYAG.



Our second stop was a remote yet beautiful paradise called Raja Jampat in the island of Papua. It was quite a distance from Jakarta, entailing two transits and two plane rides from Jakarta, but it was all worth it. I am still in awe, remembering how beautiful these Indonesian islands were and how very diverse these were.

Here we were able to enjoy the vast beauty of the sea with its rich treasure through the coral reefs. We were able to see the different colorful fishes as we snorkelled and island hopped. The highlight of this trip was a climb to Mt. Wayag to see a most amazing view -- truly a little piece of heaven on earth.

It was quite a scary climb but my sweat and fear all went away when I reached the top and saw the paradise that lay before me, waiting to be known and acknowledged.

Scroll down to read more...



THE VIEW FROM THE
JATILUWIH RICE TERRACES
IN BALI

Our third stop was Bali, of course one of Indonesia's most popular destinations. Here we enjoyed a most amazing view from the Jatiluwih Rice Terraces.

We also visited the different temples and sneaked in a swim along one of Bali's amazing beaches along with people from around the world surfing and just enjoying the sun and the sand.

 This is just a sneak peak of my full story in my #Travelife to wonderful Indonesia. Grab a copy of our next issue (on sale from June 15, 2016) for the full coverage."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

The Prix Benvenu 2016 for Swiss hotels, announced during Switzerland Vacation Day



During the 'Switzerland Vacation Day', the largest conference of the Swiss travel industry with 1230 attendants this year in Lugano, Switzerland's most welcoming hotels were awarded the PRIX BIENVENU.

The Prix Bienvenu award of Switzerland, embodied by a small bronze figure representing a concierge, stands for outstanding Swiss service quality and genuine hospitality. The company TrustYou semantically evaluated the feedback submitted by several hundred thousand guests on more than 250 rating and booking platforms between January and December 2015.

HOW HOTELS WERE CHOSEN
FOR THE PRIX BIENVENU



The analysis of the hotel evaluations focused on soft factors, such as the attention, warmth, empathy and helpfulness of the staff. Swiss hotels with at least 70 guest reviews on rating websites automatically qualify for entry in the PRIX BIENVENU.

The finalists – the three highest rated hotels in five categories – were then personally visited and assessed by a member of the jury.

THE WINNERS OF THE PRIX BIENVENU 2016



The following five hotels won the the PRIX BIENVENU 2016 in their respective categories:

• Cosy leisure hotel (up to 40 rooms):
Hotel Glocke, Reckingen (VS) 

• Large leisure hotel (from 41 rooms):
Hotel Walther Relais & Châteaux, Pontresina (GR) 

• City hotel (up to 4-star Superior):
Boutique Hotel La Rinascente, Locarno (TI) 

• Luxury city hotel (5-star / 5-star Superior):
Four Seasons Hotel Des Bergues, Geneva (GE) 

• Luxury hotel (5-star / 5-star Superior):
CERVO Mountain Boutique Resort, Zermatt (VS) 

ABOUT THE PRIX BIENVENU  

First awarded in 2013, the PRIX BIENVENU was created by Switzerland Tourism (ST), hotelleriesuisse, GastroSuisse, the Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL) and the University of Bern.

PRIX BIENVENU JURY MEMBERS

This year's PRIX BIENVENU jury members include:

Thomas Allemann
Head of Member Services and Hotel Classification
hotelleriesuisse

Daniel C. Jung
Vice-Director
GastroSuisse

Professor Michel Rochat
Director
Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne (EHL)

Dr. Monika Bandi Tanner
Head of Tourism Research Unit
University of Bern/CRED

Kurt Aeschbacher
TV and chat show host

Jürg Schmid
Director
Switzerland Tourism

Marcel Bührer
CEO
Swisscard AECS

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Planting rice in Chiba Prefecture in Japan


So today, I'm spending my last full day in Japan in some rice fields in the middle of nowhere in Chiba Prefecture on someone's company charity project.


I said yes because it was a good cause, but it's certainly way harder than I imagined, boots in a muddy field and all, but still living a #Travelife.



The Mayor of the city of Kashiwa even joined us, and just now as I was typing this out, having taken a break, he came over and asked: "Are you guys half-done?"

Everyone else is still at it but I thought I'd get out of the field and take a walk for a few minutes. Then it's back to work again, planting rice in Japan, living a Travelife.


Next stop: Manila.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Flying with EVA Air and checking into the Grand Hyatt Taipei

Flying with EVA Air and checking into the Grand Hyatt Taipei
Business class on EVA Air

So last weekend, I flew on EVA Air to Taiwan for a sort of mini-break, if you can call a weekend at the Grand Hyatt Taipei, Taipei's grandest luxury hotel and a few days at the best spa in Taiwan a mini-break.

A GREAT FLIGHT ON EVA AIR

It's really great flying with EVA Air and checking into the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

It started out very nicely with a 90-minute flight on EVA Air from Manila, which incidentally is one of my favourite airlines. I'm very picky about airlines since I spend so much time on planes, and I still have to find something to complain about on my flights on EVA Air's new airplanes.

Scroll down to read more...


The short flight from Manila to Taiwan on business class on the new airplanes are on complete flat beds with spacious cubicles, with great entertainment, good food and impeccable service.

The EVA AIR onboard service in particular stands out as all the stewardesses are smiling, polite and truly so helpful. This must be a Taiwanese national trait.

SMOOTH ARRIVAL AT TAOYUAN AIRPORTAND A SLEEK WELCOME WITH A BMW 7 SERIESAT THE GRAND HYATT TAIPEI

The stretch BMW 7 series of the Grand Hyatt Taipei

Then, landing at Taoyuan International Airport, immigrations went smoothly and the stretch BMW 7 series of the Grand Hyatt Taipei was waiting at the driveway to take me to the hotel, my home for the weekend.

It had all the usual amenities for a limo, and the WiFi in the car was really fast so I worked all the way to the hotel so that I would not have to do so upon reaching the Grand Hyatt Taipei.

Grace Lai, VIP Services Manager of the Grand Hyatt Taipei, was waiting at the hotel driveway too, and we went straight up from the car to the 24th floor to the pretty amazing suite that we had booked for a mini-break.


A GREAT SUITE AT THE GRAND HYATT TAIPEI

The master bedroom at one end of the suite
of the Grand Hyatt Taipei

It was a rectangular suite with views for the entire length of the suite. In terms of layout, it was fantastic because the bedroom and the master bath were at one end.

Butler's kitchen at the other end of our suite
at the Grand Hyatt Taipei

Then the butler's kitchen and the dining room for six were at the other end, with a living room and a study in the middle.

The study of our suite at the Grand Hyatt Taipei

And right outside us was a fantastic view of Taipei 101. What more could we ask for at the Grand Hyatt Taipei for a long weekend, living a #Travelife.