Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Most Historic Hotels of Europe

The Most Historic Hotels of Europe
Logo of the Historic Hotels of Europe

This post is about the most historic hotels of Europe.

At the idyllic setting of the Aigialos Hotel in Santorini, the members of the Historic Hotels of Europe were united once again for the Historic Hotels of Europe Award Ceremony.

 After dinner at the Selene Restaurant, attended by many guests, including representatives from the media, and representatives from the most historic hotels of Europe, awards were given to the winners in recognition of their contribution to the highest standards of cultural and historical hotel keeping and hospitality in Europe.

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The Chairman of the Historic hotels of Europe, Mrs. Barbara Avdis, said at this dinner: “Today the winners have been honored by their many guests whose emotive experiences in Historic Hotels from Norway to Greece have prompted them to vote for their favorite places with historical significance."

The winning hotels of the 5th year of the prestigious Historic Hotels of Europe Awards were:

1
Historic Hotel Castle Award Winner
Romantik Hotel Castle Rheinfels 
Country: Germany 
Member of: Schlosshotels & Herrenhäuser 

2
Historic Hotel Countryside Award Winner
Kurhaus Bergün 
Country: Switzerland 
Member of: Swiss Historic Hotels 

3
City Historic Hotel Award Winner
Hotel Krafft Basel 
Country: Switzerland 
Member of: Swiss Historic Hotels

4
Historic Hotel Gourmet Award Winners
Villa Sjötorp 
Country: Sweden 
Member of: Countryside Hotels 

5
Historic Hotel Host of the Year Winner
Hotel Hviezdoslav 
Country: Slovakia 
Member of: Historic Hotels of Slovakia 

6
Historic Hotel New Member Award Winner
Château Gbeľany 
Country: Slovakia 
Member of: Historic Hotels of Slovakia 

7
Historic Hotel Spa Award Winner
Solstrand Hotel & Bad 
Country: Norway 
Member of: De Historiske 

8
Historic Hotel Wedding Experience Winner
Rathsallagh House 
Country: Ireland 
Member of: Ireland's Blue Book 

9
Historic Hotel with “A Story to Tell” Winner
Apponyi Hotel
Country: Hungary
Member of: Hungarian Castle Hotels Association

10
Most Romantic Historic Hotel Winner
Kryimai Hotel
Country: Greece
Member of: Yades Greek Historic Hotels

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Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Taal Lake with FiliSUP

Water sports and paddle boarding in Taal Lake with FiliSUP
Paddle boarding in Taal Lake
with FiliSUP

This post is about Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Taal Lake with FiliSUP.

BEGINNING WATER SPORTS


Last weekend, the TRAVELIFE team learned the basics of Stand-Up Paddleboarding with the help of FiliSUP (facebook.com/filisup) founder and instructor Jose Antonio “Tono” Legarda at Calinisan Beach Resort (calinisanbeachresort.com).

Stand-Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a fairly underrated water sport in the Philippines. Tono Legarda himself got into SUP through windsurfing, when he realized that paddling solves the “no-wind” issue that often comes up when windsurfing in the Philippines.

Paddle boarding in Taal Lake
with FiliSUP

FiliSUP, in fact, was just established in January 2015 by Legarda, who hopes to promote this fun water activity in the Philippines. For us, Tono Legarda started the paddleboarding lesson with a very apt introduction: “Stand-Up Paddleboarding is easy to learn but it is also easy to get into trouble.”

Like any outdoor sport, Stand-Up Paddle Boarding participants are exposed to the elements, particularly the wind. Legarda himself constantly checks the weather forecast at the launch site before any lesson.

Paddle boarding in Taal Lake
with FiliSUP

Participants would do well to listen attentively to the 30-minute “land lesson” where Legarda teaches the basic body and paddle movements for Stand-Up Paddle Boarding to maneuver and maintain balance on the board before actually getting into the water.

After learning the basics, the team immediately set out for the resort’s beachfront, each with a paddleboard in hand.

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FOR NEWBIES: 
WAYS TO ENJOY STAND-UP PADDLE BOARDING 


1. Start Stand-Up Paddle Boarding in Taal Lake with FiliSUP while kneeling down. This will make it easier to balance on the board before standing up.

2. Once you can stand up on the board, enjoy the verdant views of the Tagaytay Ridge, which participants will see whichever way they turn their head.

Paddle boarding in Taal Lake
with FiliSUP

3. Paddle close to the abundant tilapia fish pens surrounding Taal Lake and watch how the birds wait patiently to catch their own seafood.

Paddle boarding in Taal Lake
with FiliSUP

4. Sit or lay down the board so you can take in the clear blue skies.

5. Talk and chat with your fellow Stand-Up Paddle Boarding buddies. One of the best thing about this sport is participants can choose how fast and how powerful they want to paddle. Some of the TRAVELIFE staff took a leisurely pace and just talked with Tono Legarda while moving slowly across the water.

WHERE TO DO PADDLE BOARDING


Paddle boarding in Taal Lake
with FiliSUP

Paddleboarding is a great water sport to do in the Philippines, since the country has so many bodies of water to use. Tono Legarda himself has SUPed in local destinations such as Cebu, Bohol, Busuanga, Zambales, Pangasinan, Dumaguete and Surigao del Norte.

This makes it more accessible to locals and foreign visitors alike. The Laurel SUP launch site in Calinisan Resort, where we headed for our first lesson, is actually just a two-hour drive away from Metro Manila.

 Needless to say, the Travelife Magazine team enjoyed this daytrip to Taal Lake, living a #Travelife as always.

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The Hong Kong Great November Feast 2016

The Hong Kong Great November Feast


This post is about The Hong Kong Great November Feast.

Organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the first-ever Hong Kong Great November Feast brings locals and visitors a whole month of indulgence, with epicurean culinary events, street carnivals, and wine and dine offers all around town.

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THE BEST RESTAURANTS
IN HONG KONG

Elite Dining Week is one of the featured programmes. Running from November 3-13, it offers diners the opportunity to enjoy specially created tasting menus featuring chef signature dishes with accompanying wines at some of Hong Kong's best restaurants.




Participating restaurants in The Hong Kong Great November Feast include Michelin-starred or recommended restaurants, as well as award-winning ones such as Tenku RyuGin, Yan Toh Heen, Yè Shanghai, Duddell's, The Sky Boss, MIC Kitchen, ON Dining Kitchen & Lounge, Popsy Modern Kitchen, Upper Modern Bistro, Seasons by Olivier E., Otto Restaurant, The Drawing Room, Wagyu Takumi, and Ta Vie, among others.



HOW TO BOOK A TABLE
IN HONG KONG FOR
THE HONG KONG GREAT NOVEMBER FEAST

Tourists can enjoy a 7-day priority booking with access code "hktb"

Visit www.elitediningweek.com/hktb for reservations.

The Hong Kong Great November Feast also includes other exciting events throughout November include:

Birthday Wine 

German Bierfest 2016  

Great Wines of the World 2016

Hong Kong International Wine & Spirits Fair 2016 

Queen's Road East Festival

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Sunday, October 23, 2016

How to get to Subic Bay Freeport Zone and where to stay

How to get to Subic Bay Freeport Zone

HOW TO GET TO SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE


Located in the province of Zambales, Subic Bay is one of the largest freeports in the Philippines and it is internationally recognized as one of the best in Asia.

Subic Bay Freeport Zone is also known as the Sailing Capital of the Philippines. Subic Bay Freeport is only a two-and-a-half hour drive from Manila.

From EDSA, take the North Luzon Expressway (NLEX), past the Clark-Angeles toll booth. Turn into the Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEx), and follow the highway until it merges with Tipo Road and into the Subic Bay Freeport Expressway.

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WHEN TO GO TO SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE

Subic Bay Freeport Zone (SBFZ) is known for its natural and aquatic tourist spots so it’s best to visit during summer, from March to May, when the weather is clear and sunny.

WHERE TO EAT IN SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE




NEW FENG HUANG SEAFOOD RESTAURANT 
Pick the fresh catch of the day straight from this beachside restaurant’s aquarium and ask the kitchen to cook it as you please. Start your meal with a stuffed shrimp spring roll with tartar sauce, followed by the meaty and succulent salt and pepper crab seasoned with flavorful spices.

Then end with a sweet creamy coconut jelly for dessert. (Waterfront Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone

MEATPLUS CAFÉ 
One of Subic Bay’s famous haunts, this restaurant is well-known for its generous slabs of juicy ribs and steaks perfect for hungry travelers with big appetites. (Bldg. 65, Sampson Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone)


XTREMELY XPRESSO CAFÉ 
Friends and families can take part in a 22-inch Big Ben pizza before heading back to the city. Sip on their signature frappucino “Shockwave” for an energy boost.

WHERE TO STAY IN SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE 

After learning how to get to Subic Bay Freeport Zone, here are your choices for accommodations:



SUBIC PARK HOTEL & RESTAURANT 
This family-run boutique hotel has warm and homey touches that exude true Filipino hospitality.

BEST WESTERN PLUS HOTEL SUBIC BAY 
The only international hotel chain in Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Best Western Plus has the best views of Subic Bay from its Sky Oasis Pool and bar at the top floor.

SUBIC BAY PENINSULAR HOTEL 
This hotel is perfect for business travelers with its strategic location in the city and efficient staff and service.



SUBIC BAY TRAVELERS HOTEL & EVENTS CENTER INC. 
This business hotel boasts of the biggest “pillar-less” function hall in Subic Bay, ideal for board meetings, trade shows, and formal banquets.

MANSION GARDEN HOTEL 
Enjoy sumptuous Filipino and Western cuisine at this hotel’s Garden Café.


THE LIGHTHOUSE MARINA RESORT 
Ocean-inspired rooms, and a dramatic lighthouse with beach access await guests at this seaside resort.

SUBIC GRAND HARBOUR HOTEL 
Both comfort and adventure can be had at this hotel with its in-house spa services and available tour arrangements in various Subic Bay attractions.

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Adventure activities in Subic Bay Freeport Zone

Adventure activities in Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Subic Bay Freeport Zone

This post is about adventure activities in Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

THE ADVENTURER’S BUCKET LIST 

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES IN SUBIC BAY:
TAKE A WALKING TOUR AND ENJOY A PICNIC 



The picturesque Pamulaklakin Aeta Forest Trail (Binictican Drive, Subic Bay Freeport Zone) has lush greens and quiet streams, and you can participate in jungle survival demonstrations and tribal dance performances by the Aetas.

ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES IN SUBIC BAY:
COOL OFF AT EL KABAYO WATERFALLS



El Kabayo Waterfalls (El Kabayo Road, Subic Bay Freeport Zone), one of the most accessible waterfalls in Subic.

It has two waterfalls: the first is approximately three meters high while the second, just 30 meters away from the smaller waterfall, is around five meters high.

3
ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES IN SUBIC BAY: 
JOIN THE JUNGLE ENVIRONMENT 
SURVIVAL TRAINING CAMP


Learn how to thrive in the wild. Courses include “Hunt Gatherer,” an overnight course where campers learn how to create natural shelters, purify water, and even identify and collect plants for medicine and food.

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4
ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES IN SUBIC BAY: 
DIVE AND SWIM WITH OLD SUNKEN SHIPS


Subic Bay, as one of the largest and most historical shipwreck sites in the Philippines.

5
ADVENTURE ACTIVITIES IN SUBIC BAY:
SUBIC BAY MANIA FOR KIDS 



Head over to Subic Bay’s numerous family-friendly attractions. 

Find Dory & Her Friends. Swim with the dolphins at Ocean Adventure (oceanadventure.com.ph) and learn more about other sea creatures through live shows and encounters such as the Sea Lion Meet and Feed.

Go Hunting with Tigers. Get up close and personal with the wild animals prowling the 25-hectare Zoobic Safari (zoobic.com.ph), also known as the only “tiger safari” in the Philippines.

Jump Off the Edge. Conquer your fear of heights at Treetop Adventure (treetopadventureph.com) and go on zipline adventures like the Canopy Ride.

See Double Experience, the artsy and quirky-themed activities at Funtastic Park Subic Bay (funtasticpark.com).

Tackle the Mirror Maze, and search for the exit amidst hundreds of your reflections, or go through the Garden Maze, a dizzying outdoor maze with winding paths.

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Best things to see and do in Subic Bay Freeport Zone

Best things to see and do in Subic Bay Freeport Zone
Best things to see and do in Subic Bay Freeport Zone

This post is about the best things to see and do in Subic Bay Freeport Zone.

BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE:
SPANISH GATE



The 19th century Spanish Gate was Subic Bay’s primary naval station for many years during the  years of Spanish colonization. Aside from being a former cemetery for marines, it was also used as a jail by both the Spaniards and Americans.

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BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE:
SUBIC BAY YACHT CLUB

The Subic Bay Yacht Club is a luxurious exclusive club that includes extravagant accommodations and an extensive marina.

The club is known to hold sailing activities and water sports.

BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE:
SUBIC BAY EXHIBITION AND CONVENTION CENTER



The Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) is the largest convention center outside of Metro Manila, crowning Subic Bay Freeport as the “Premiere Convention Capital of the Philippines.”

The Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center (SBECC) can seat about 12,000 people, allowing the SBFZ to host some of the country’s biggest events.

BEST THINGS TO SEE AND DO IN
SUBIC BAY FREEPORT ZONE:
EL KABAYO


Best things to see and do in Subic Bay Freeport Zone

Meanwhile, the El Kabayo Stables is peaceful and covered with verdant fields and trees.

The grazing horses barely spared us a second look as we pulled up by stables’ entrance. I’d ridden horses before, but none were ever as tall or as heavily built as El Kabayo’s thoroughbred horses.

Once I was upright on the saddle—and actually way too high up from the ground for my comfort—my heart started pounding and my hands become damp from holding tightly on the reins.

Whenever my horse flattened its ears and stomped its hooves impatiently, I thought I was going to fall off and embarrass myself.

Find your balance,” Jerry told me, his voice steady. “Press your ankles firmly against him and relax. He can tell you’re upset.” His soothing tone and light touch on the horse’s muzzle calmed me and my horse.

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Visiting Zoobic Safari in Subic Freeport Zone to see the tigons and ligers

Visiting Zoobic Safari in Subic Freeport Zone to see the tigons and ligers
Visiting Zoobic Safari in Subic Freeport Zone
to see the tigons and ligers

This post is about visiting Zoobic Safari in Subic Freeport Zone to see the tigons and ligers. PATRICIA CENDAÑA experiences Subic Bay Freeport Zone anew with childlike wonder.  She wrote:

"Neema, the Liger, prowled inside the cage, her tail flickering each time she reached a dead end. The chattering of the tour group behind us became background noise compared to the low growling sound she made.

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Neema glanced at us every other moment with intelligent upturned eyes, as if to ensure her prey was still there to catch once she finally found a chance to pounce. But perhaps that was just paranoia talking. At first glance, the sleek tawny fur and the proud shape of her face marked her as a lion.

But the dark stripes on her legs and belly identified her as something else— something unique.

VISITING ZOOBIC SAFARI
IN SUBIC FREEPORT ZONE:
THE DEFINITION OF A LIGER


A liger is a crossbreed of a male lion and a female tiger,” Jackie, our tour guide, explained as I continued to watch Neema from a safe distance. “They grow larger in size than both their parents combined.”

“Compared to Neema, the purebred lions lazily sprawled in their cages, blinking at us slowly before resting their chins back on their paws. For the longest time, Zoobic Safari has been known as “the only tiger safari in the Philippines,” and now the park had added a new attraction called the Lion Close Encounter.

VISITING ZOOBIC SAFARI
IN SUBIC FREEPORT ZONE:
LIGER VS. TIGON




It was only natural perhaps to have the liger and the tigon, two of the most popular feline predators of the animal kingdom in Zoobic Safari.

I hadn’t been to Zoobic Safari (zoobic.com.ph) since a school field trip long ago.



Admittedly, I didn’t have high expectations for this visit.

But seeing Neema certainly changed that and promised an exciting rediscovery of Subic Bay including visiting Zoobic Safari in Subic Freeport Zone, one of the top travel destinations in the Philippines, only a few hours’ drive from Manila.



LIGERS VS. TIGONS


Unlike ligers, tigons are a cross between male tigers and female lions. Tigons are smaller than both their parents. Both hybrid breeds are social cats that can produce both lion roars and tiger growls.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

The power of positive thinking and about 36 hours in Singapore

The power of positive thinking
AT ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
with the lovely ladies of Spain Tourism Board

This post is about the power of positive thinking and about 36 hours in Singapore. 

THE POWER OF POSITIVE THINKING. 
AND HOW SINGAPORE IS FULL OF GOOD SAMARITANS

The Qatar booth
at ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
at Marina Bay Sands

In Singapore until yesterday for ITB Asia 2016, the biggest travel industry event in Asia, I received some happy news on my phone early in the morning.

I can't elaborate on this as it's personal but it was certainly wonderful enough for me to walk through the halls of Marina Bay Sands with a smile in my heart as I greeted friends and contacts all day, during this short but happy 36 hours in Singapore, living a #Travelife.

SHOPPING IN SINGAPORE

With tour operators from Russia and Scandinavia
at the Sette Travel Booth
at ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
at Marina Bay Sands

Then as I had a dinner appointment at a Chinese restaurant in Paragon and an early flight back to Manila on Philippine Airlines the following day, I left ITB at about 5 pm to try and find a particular shop in Singapore

After my major shopping sprees in exotic countries like Russia, Estonia and Turkey just last week, I had nothing else to buy for myself. But someone had asked me to bring something home so this was my main task before dinner.

HERE COMES MR. RIGHT 

The Plaza Premium Group booth
at ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
at Marina Bay Sands

I stood in the driveway of the Marina Bay Sands conference center completely helpless as to how to get a taxi in Singapore when dozens of others were trying to do the same and every taxi that drove past had "hired" in bright lights.

Suddenly, a kind man about to get into a taxi he had obviously somehow pre-hired said to me: "Where are you going? Let me take you."

The Incredible India boothat ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
at Marina Bay Sands

How nice of him. For all he knew, I could have been looking for a taxi to Changi Airport, after all.

When I told -- and still continue to tell -- my friends this story, they burst out laughing and said: "He was trying to pick you up." But it wasn't at all like that. We didn't even exchange names, information or business cards, so all I could say when he dropped me off was: "I owe you for this."

He simply smiled, ever the Good Samaritan.  And talk about the power of positive thinking at work here during my 36 hours in Singapore.

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TAKING THE SUBWAY IN SINGAPORE 


After finding the store and making my purchases, my next challenge was getting back to the hotel to drop my bags before dinner.

 The man at the store said to me: "Everyone wants a taxi now, la. Lines are long. Subway is just there and it goes near your hotel."

The Turkish Tourism Board boothat ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
at Marina Bay Sands
I usually don't take subways simply because I like to see the views outside, but this time I was desperate to get back to the hotel and make it in time for dinner.

Again, the power of positive thinking came into play. My biggest challenge was I had no Singapore dollars whatsoever as this was a quick in-and-out trip that involved spending most of my time in a conference center, and I thought I could survive on my credit cards and cash cards if needed.

FINDING MR. RIGHT. AGAIN. 

The Cambodia Tourism Boothat ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
at Marina Bay Sands

What do you know? Apparently I could not use my Visa credit card to buy a subway ticket, and I'd left all my other credit cards in my hotel room safe. Fortunately, there was an ATM machine nearby and I had an international cash card; but the machine wasn't working.

So I went back to the subway lady to tell her the ATM wasn't working and to ask where the nearest bank was. It was past banking hours and I was dangerously close to being late for dinner, when another guy came up to me.

MONEY OUT OF NOWHERE

Angelica Bayona of Travelife Magazine
with Santa Claus
at ITB Asia 2016 in Singapore
at Marina Bay Sands

I didn't even realize he was listening to my tales of woe.

But just like that, he said: "Would you like $2 for a ticket?"

Yes, how ironic. I have practically everything I want in this world, but the one thing I needed and didn't have at that very moment was 2 Singapore dollars. And this stranger was standing next to me, pressing $2 in my hand.

"I must pay you back," I said. I'm a stickler for money matters and I so dislike taking advantage of others. But he just smiled at me and said: "Don't worry about it." And then he just disappeared into the crowds. The second Good Samaritan in Singapore in an hour of going around the city.


IT'S ALL IN THE MIND 


Morale of the story?

I don't want to sound preachy but I think good things and luck occur in a domino effect.

You need to start the day with happy thoughts and a sense of gratitude and the forces of the universe will just align and take care of you. There were a couple more Good Samaritan stories that day, but this post will just get too long. For now, it's enough to say that good fortune can be a state of mind.

And thus ended my 36 hours in Singapore.

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